E3 is back. Not quite as big as it used to be, but big in all the important senses. This is my attempt at summarising an event so full of exciting new games and announcements that summarising it truly tests my abilities.
Biggest New Game Announcement Award
Halo Reach (Microsoft Game Studios/Bungie) Xbox 360
Holy crap was this hard to pick. But since the new Zelda wasn't officially announced, but rather just teased by Miyamoto-san at his round table presentation I have to go with Halo Reach. It faced stiff competition from Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid Other M, The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy XIV, Crysis 2, and Metal Gear Rising.
Honourable mentions: See above.
Missing in Action Award
Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Ubisoft Montpellier) PS3/Xbox 360
No sign of Jade at this year's E3 as Ubisoft where busy with Assassin's Creed II and Splinter Cell: Conviction. In fact we haven't seen anything of Beyond Good & Evil 2, since it was unvielded at Ubidays a year ago.
Honourable mentions: The slimmed down PS3, Sega's Aliens games, the MMO genre (well, not completely but still very low key this year).
Busiest Plumber Award
Mario (Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2)
Not much competition in this category, but Mario had a huge E3 where New Super Mario Bros. on Wii was revealed and playable on the floor. Shigeru Miyamoto also revealed that "NSMB Wii" is the reason why we have to wait until next year to see the Super Mario Galaxy sequel. Oh well, there is plenty in 2009 for Mario fans anyway.
Honourable mention: None.
"Grabbed me by the Balls" Award
Heavy Rain (Quantic Dream) PS3
The exclusive reveal of playable character number two, Madalyn, in Heavy Rain, showed off a scene in a night club where Madalyn had to pull off some sexy moves on the dance floor, put some make up on, rip off some unnecessary skirt fabric and unbutton her shirt to get close and personal with seedy night club owner Paco Mendes. After stripping off most of her clothes at gun point Madalyn turns the situation around and interrogates Paco while squeezing his balls. A testament to the fidelity of the visuals and the acting was the reaction from the mostly male audience in the Sony lounge.
Honourable mention: The return of booth babes.
Best Trailer Award
Star Wars: The Old Republic (Bioware) PC
Another extremely hard category to judge as the quality of trailers gets sharper by the minute. But the first cinematic trailer from Bioware's MMORPG blew me away. Tremendous!
Honorable mentions: The Last Guardian, Assassin's Creed 2.
Sleeper Hit Award
Just Cause 2 (Avalanche Studios) PS3/Xbox 360
The first Just Cause had a lot of promise. A vast open world, plenty of vehicles and lots of action. But the uninspired mission structure, and the lack of variation let it down. That said the presentation of Just Cause 2 behind closed doors at the Eidos booth showed how far the developer has progressed. The amount of gameplay variation afforded by the much improved grappling hook and the stunt parachute went down very well with this spectator.
Honourable mentions: Brink, Alpha Protocol, Homefront.
Best New Hardware or Peripheral Award
Project Natal (Microsoft) Xbox 360
The first simple demos didn't really sell me on Microsoft's 3D scanning camera with voice recognition, but when Milo was shown by Peter Molyneux the potential of this device became all the more apparent. If Microsoft can deliver all that potential in the near future we are in for a brave new gaming world.
Honourable mentions: PSP Go, Wii Vitality Sensor, Playstation Motion Controller.
Game of the show
Mass Effect 2 (Bioware) PC/Xbox 360
It is no secret that I rate the original Mass Effect as one of the best gaming experiences of my life and what I saw behind closed doors of Commander Shepard's next adventure left me breathless.
Honourable mentions: Modern Warfare 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Assassin's Creed 2.
(please note, that only games shown in playable form at the E3 showfloor or behind closed doors are eligible for this category, not games merely shown as trailers)