Winner: Battlefield 3
Why We Picked It: Innovation is the key if you want to excel in a genre made stale by games that look and play the same year after year. With breathtaking visuals, mind blowing sound, and some of the most solid and realistic FPS gameplay we’ve ever seen, this quickly became the consensus favorite for best FPS of show. Hell, we almost gave it best visuals and best multiplayer as well. It’s just that good.
Winner: Gears of War 3
Why We Picked It: The third person shooter genre has a handful of hitters at bat year in and year out, but try as they may, none seem capable of delivering the total package the way the Epic Games’ heavy hitting Gears of War franchise does. We’ve summed it up in the past as a mixture of G.I. Joe, He-Man, and Tonka Trucks that come together in a giant pile of mud for an ass kickin’ good time. Gears 3 carries on that tradition.
Winner: Batman: Arkham City
Why We Picked It: Games based on Comic books tend to be hit or miss, but Batman: Arkham Asylum was a sleeper hit if there ever was one. The game was so gorgeous, so polished, so bad ass, so… Batman. And from what we’ve played this year, Rocksteady is primed to take things to the next level with Arkham City by delivering a larger world with even more awesome gameplay and visuals.
Winner: Hitman: Absolution
Why We Picked It: We’d almost forgotten just how much we loved Agent 47 and the Hitman series. The new Glacier 2 Engine makes for amazing visuals and the classic Hitman gameplay we’ve all come to know and love is more satisfying than ever. With new ways to sneak around and kill targets and a story focused on betrayal and redemption, this may easily be the best Hitman game yet. Also, you smash a bong over a cop’s head and steal his uniform in the demo…
Why We Picked It: Innovation. Innovation. Innovation. If you’ve seen one fantasy MMO you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong. You haven’t seen TERA. With real time action combat, a revolutionary political system, and visuals so gorgeous they make Metzen and Morhaime run to the powder room for a collective tinkle, TERA is the MMO you need to have on your radar.
Winner: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Why We Picked It: For too long, traditional RPGs have failed to innovate. When Reckoning was first discussed at Comic Con last year, legendary artist Todd McFarlane stood on top of a table and told us they were going to kill things in this game better than anyone ever had before, and so far, it looks like he’s kept his word.
With a lush, beautiful, and completely open world (developed by part of the team who made Morrowind and Oblivion), brutal and bloody combat that’s on par with pretty much any fighting game, deadly beasts and monsters drawn by the creator of Spawn, and a story written by the man who created the Forgotten Realms and Drizzt Do’Urden himself — if Reckoning doesn’t do it for you RPG fans, I don’t know what will. It also has some of the best spell animations we’ve ever seen, lord knows we’re suckers for that!
Winner: Mass Effect 3
Why We Picked It: The Mass Effect series was a pioneer for the genre, breaking ground when it combined the third-person shooter with extensive RPG elements and created a sci-fi universe with the potential to put George Lucas to shame. Not only did it introduce us to this new form of role playing game, but it showed us how stories should be told—with choices. The third and supposedly final installment of Commander Shepard’s trilogy floored us at E3 (and sent Steph into cardiac arrest) with a demo that highlighted not only the numerous improvements to the technical aspects of the game, but the deafening crescendo of the Reaper’s assault on earth.
BioWare’s “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it approach” has turned this series into a juggernaut within the genre, delivering a rich story and one of the most rewarding combat systems we’ve ever known and re-writing the standard for what makes a good RPG. Fights are faster, more brutal, reflecting the decidedly dire tone of the game. With a new focus on melee and vehicular combat, Mass Effect 3 looks to expand upon all that we loved from the first two games. It looks fantastic and we have no doubt that Shepard’s final chapter will send jaws clattering to the floor—namely, Stephanie’s.
Winner: Forza 4
Why We Picked It: “Wow” was all we could say during our behind-closed-doors presentation of Forza 4. The cars are beautiful, the tracks are beautiful, the sound is beautiful. It’s even been integrated with Top Gear UK (you know, the good one) to take your enthusiast enthusiasm to the next level. This is the racing game we want, this is the driving game for car lovers, this is the role playing game for car collectors, this is everything we love about the genre. Move over Gran Turismo, Forza is back and better than ever!
Why We Picked It: A fighting game made by fighting gamers that doesn’t look or play like any other. A sleeper hit that will soon undoubtedly become a favorite within the scene. While Namco and Capcom are content to keep pumping out the same games, Mike Z and his team are bringing something new. We’re very down with that.