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GamesFirst! Best of E3 2006
game: E3 2006
posted by: Shawn Rider
publisher: GamesFirst!
date posted: 05:42 PM Sat May 13th, 2006
last revision: 02:39 PM Mon Jun 12th, 2006

Click to read.The Electronic Entertainment Expo 2006 was a huge event this year: With two new platforms releasing this fall, and a second round of Xbox 360 titles, the home consoles took center stage with loads of incredible titles in development. And on the PC, massive franchises like Battlefield, Quake, and exciting new titles such as Spore made it very clear that PC gaming is alive and kicking. Of course amid the flood of coverage and mob of game title competing for your attention at the show, it\'s difficult to keep things in perspective. So to help hone the field down, we\'ve assembled our list of the best of the best. We\'ve awarded all the best things we found at E3 2006 our official GamesFirst! stamp of approval.

[color=\"#ffff99\"]Gamer Approved[/color]

It\'s difficult to chooses just one game as \"Best of Show.\" So to avoid difficult decisions that fail to represent the real variety and excitement of the games we played at E3, we\'ve assembled our official list of Gamer Approved titles. These are lock-ins that you will want to keep track of as their release dates get closer.

Star Trek: Legacy
platform: PC, Xbox 360
published by: Bethesda Softworks
developed by: Mad Doc Software

Star Trek: Legacy brings the best the Star Trek universe has to offer. In fact, Legacy brings pretty much everything the Star Trek universe has to offer. Featuring spaceships and characters from pretty much every world in every series, this is set to be the ultimate title for Trek fans. With award-winning developer/publisher Bethesda Softworks working on the project, it\'s safe to bet that Star Trek: Legacy will be huge.

platform: Xbox 360
developed by: Real Time Worlds
published by: Microsoft Game Studios

Crackdown offers gamers a completely open world from the very beginning. It\'s your fault if you wander into the toughest areas and get whacked. But if you play your cards right, you can have your cyber-enhanced special agent buffed out and leaping tall building with a single bound in no time. No quick blurb can sum up the amount of sheer mayhem contained in Crackdown, and the cool online co-op and friends-based features are amazing.

Dead Rising
platform: Xbox 360
published and developed by: Capcom

Dead Rising brings the zombie genre to a wonderfully familiar place: a mall crowded with a small group of survivors and a giant horde of living dead. You play a photographer dropped into the thick of the crisis trying to survive long enough to get a story. But Dead Rising also features an excellent sense of humor and a playfulness to the game that gives it a lot of personality. Where else can you throw pies in zombies\' faces or combat the undead with a giant teddy bear?

Super Mario Galaxy
(working title)
platform: Wii
published and developed by: Nintendo

Nintendo showed off all kinds of things behind the massive walls of their Wii compound. A three to five hour wait in line was all it took to get in and get a gander at some of the coolest new games to come down the pipe (even if that controller isn\'t quite as \"natural\" as some might have you believe). Super Mario Galaxy was a major standout (excluding the obvious Twilight Princess), and we\'re very excited to see the title release with the system.

platform: PC, Xbox 360
developed by: 3D Realms
published by: 2K Games

Prey has a lot going for it: A new take on the typical alien invasion story incorporates Native American-based spirit powers, ooey-gooey biotech weapons, and MC Escher-inspired level design that is a complete head trip. Built on the powerful Doom 3 engine, and featuring a robust multiplayer mode, Prey is set to become the next major first-person shooter. Believe the hype on this one.

[color=\"#ffff99\"]Best Booth[/color]

Sony\'s PSP Installations / Download Area

Sony brought the outside world indoors with their wonderful PSP area. Several sections were created to resemble real-world locations. There were three major PSP installations: The subway car, the bus stop, and the airplane. Each installation featured several places for players to sit (and seating is a rare commodity at E3) and a PSP loaded with one of a decent lineup of upcoming PSP titles including Loco Roco, Gangs of London, and more. We enjoyed the lifelike mock-ups, and had no problem getting into the games in such comfortable conditions. In addition, Sony featured free Memory Stick giveaways packed with PSP backgrounds and game trailers, as well as demo downloads of six different titles so gamers could play on their personal PSPs. In spite of a lackluster PS3 showing, the PSP and PS2 remained strong, and Sony really lured us in with their PSP Installations.

runner up: Microsoft

While we loved the Sony PSP Installations a whole bunch, it was a tough call. Microsoft has always had the most plush carpet at E3, and this year they brought back the cool two-person game cylinders as well as a set of brand new wheel-like kiosks. All of these stations serve the dual purpose of allowing gamers to sit down while playing, and keeping observers at bay while still allowing them a clear view of the game. This helped us spend plenty of time with upcoming Xbox 360 titles, and we were definitely not alone in our sentiments.

[color=\"#ffff99\"]Biggest Surprise[/color]

Xbox Live Anywhere
platform: PC, Xbox 360, mobile
developed by: Microsoft

We had heard rumors of a new Shadowrun game in the works, and we knew MS would do something interesting with the video camera they showed off last year. But the biggest surprise of the show came with the news of Xbox Live Anywhere, the system that unites online gaming, chat, and file downloads across Xbox 360, Windows Vista, and all mobile platforms. This is an expansive, exceptional move for Xbox Live, and the seamless integration of the system is incredible. It\'s not only good on Microsoft\'s native platforms, but across all mobile devices including Java, Palm, and Symbian handsets. With this announcement, Xbox Live has once again raised the bar for online multiplayer, and Microsoft has increased its commitment to gaming. We hadn\'t heard a peep of gossip about this before the Xbox Press Conference, but we are very happily surprised.

[color=\"#ffff99\"]Most Annoyingly Exclusive[/color]

Nintendo\'s Walled-Off Wii Area
platform: Wii
created by: Nintendo

Exclusive demonstrations are the frustration of many E3 attendees. Unless you\'re the ones in the exclusive demonstration, in which case it is often a rare moment of quiet in which to ask questions and truly focus on the game at hand. Still, at the end of the day, we find closed-door theaters and controlled-entry booths to be a roadblock on the otherwise wide-open highway of games that is E3. Nintendo\'s walled-ff Wii area was just plain annoying: If the Wii is supposed to entice you to play it because it looks like so much fun when you see someone else playing, then why not at least encourage people to wait in the 3-5 hour line with an ongoing public demonstration? Nintendo succeeded at draining a lot of traffic from the rest of the show, but at the cost of many gamers bitter about giving up half their day for a glimpse at some tech demos and only a few real meaty titles.

[color=\"#ffff99\"]Worst of Show[/color]

PlayStation 3
platform: PS3
developed by: Sony

Without a doubt, the buzz of E3 was about the huge disappointment Sony calls PlayStation 3. For many, Sony\'s strategy is incomprehensible: Two confusingly-different packages, both incredibly overpriced, have gamers and retailers nervous. As one retail manager put it, \"If my employees think it\'s tough to explain to parents the difference between the Core and Premium Xbox 360 systems, they\'re going to flip when they hear this!\" For many at the show, the difference in price simply did not fit with the difference in visuals, which were almost identical to first-generation Xbox 360 titles. Whether it\'s the Blu-Ray DVD player or the massive processor and hard drive that is driving up the cost, PS3 needed to do better at convincing us to save our pennies this summer, and from what we saw, they just didn\'t have it. You know, no console maker has managed to stay on top of the game industry for more than two generations in a row...

[color=\"#ffff99\"]Best of Show[/color]

Gears of War
platform: Xbox 360
developed by: Epic Games
published by: Microsoft Game Studios

The small peek we had last year of Gears of War was not quite enough to convince us that it was the bizz-omb that Microsoft and Epic Games were claiming. But we kept our minds open, and little by little Gears of War has kept us interested. Until the pre-E3 Xbox Press Conference. At that point, Gears of War ran us down and curb-stomped us into compliance. After several in-depth demonstrations and some hands-on time with the multiplayer mode, it\'s clear that Gears of War is a unique experience. The emphasis on cover and cooperative play gives the game an intense, yet not chaotic, feel, enhanced by excellent camera work and audio design. The third-person point of view makes it significantly different from the FPS titles that flood the market, and it has been used to better facilitate the cover-based gunplay. And the attention to detail is exceptional (this is a world that crashes and thuds into existence). We fully expect Gears of War to not only be a huge hit, but to help usher in a new era of third-person shooters. Featuring a solo or online cooperative story mode and multiplayer game modes, Gears of War should be a major hit for Xbox Live. We\'re happy to give Gears of War Best of Show because it convinced us: This is not just another shooter. Gears of War should be on every adult gamer\'s list this Fall.

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