Now that the pixilated dust has settled on the E3 videogame convention, what will remain? Plenty. As I blogged before, the big technology innovations include: Microsoft’s motion-sensing camera, Kinect; Sony’s motion-remotes, Move; Sony’s 3D games; and Nintendo’s 3DS. But what about the rest?
Here’s a rundown of ten games to look for in the months to come:
Def Jam Rapstar: Music games have never quite nailed a hip-hop title, but this one from start-up 4mm promises to pick up the beat. The game measures your ability to rap in sync with a classic playlist of tunes, and, best of all, battle head to head with other players.
RAGE: The latest from id Software is another showcase for programmer John Carmack. Carmack’s new graphics engine renders sweeping outdoor environments, allowing for the game’s off-road driving adventures. Creeptastic mutants attack with fluidly realistic animations that are astonishing for an Xbox.
Portal 2: Valve’s highly anticipated sequel to the cult fave 2007 game earned plenty of fanboys at E3. Once again, the game puts an Escher-like twist on action titles, letting you navigate environments through inter-connected portals.
Dead Space 2: Quite simply, the freakiest, spookiest sci-fi game to come around since BioShock. This sequel pumps out way more of the zero-gravity action that made the first so unique.
Epic Mickey: Veteran game designer Warren Spector takes Disney’s coveted mouse into bold new territory with this heavily-hyped platform game. The title includes meticulously rendered recreations of classic Disney environs, such as the black-and-white Steamboat Willie cartoon.
Little Big Planet 2: LBP was easily the most giddily original game ever to hit the PS3. The sequel puts more creativity into players’ paws, letting them create their own role playing game and strategy game experiences using the built-in editors.
Dance Central: Goofy, but addictive, this is one of the few games shown that truly takes advantage of Microsoft’s new Kinect camera. Look for it to be a big hit with kids, and maybe even get adopted in schools where physical education teachers are already using games like Dance Dance Revolution to get students moving.
APB: From Dave Jones, creator of Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown, this massively multiplayer online action game pits Enforcers and Criminals against each other. Skeptics have dismissed it as GTA online, but that misses all the innovation here – like the incredible customization options. You can even script your own death theme when you blow opponents away.
Mafia II: Epic and elaborately detailed, is an open world action game set in the 1940s and 50s. It’s heavily character-based, as you navigate a returning WWII through a life of crime in the mob.
Rock Band 3: Multiple vocals, check. Customizable playlists, ready. But the next generation of the play-along-with-the-music game is all about something more innovative: getting real. Harmonix is releasing real MIDI instruments that you can use in game – or out of game – with the hope of making players more like actual musicians.
David Kushner is the author of many books, including Masters of Doom, Jonny Magic & the Card Shark Kids, Levittown, The Bones of Marianna, and Alligator Candy. A contributing editor of Rolling Stone, he has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine.