E3 2009
Susan's Five Favorites from E3

Susan Arendt | 8 Jun 2009 13:00
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A friend of mine once gave me sage advice: Don't be impressed by something unless you're still thinking about it the next day. Though her words of wisdom were intended to prevent me from buying yet another pair of shoes I'd only wear once, I find that it's great advice for videogames, too. In the midst of E3's noise and glamor, even the most mundane game can seem extraordinary, but only a few still resonate after the halls have gone dark and the booths have shut down. Here are the games of E3 that I'm still thinking about, days later.

5. Alien vs. Predator: The original Alien vs. Predator was one of two reasons to own an Atari Jaguar (Tempest 2000 being the other). Allowing you to play as the Predator, Aliens, or Colonial Marines, the game succeeded not just at making each of the three groups feel genuine and distinct from each other, it also did a great job of creating a tense and frightening atmosphere. The next-gen version - also from original AvP developer Rebellion - brings that same sensibility to its upcoming game. If you're an Alien or Predator fan, you'll appreciate how the game honors the source material in both spirit and detail, but even if you couldn't care less about either franchise, you'll enjoy the variety and creativity of the combat. Jump through the trees as the Predator, cloaking yourself to sneak up on your enemy and tear his head from his body. Use your claws to slash or your teeth to shred as the Alien. Or just fall back on superior firepower as a Colonial Marine and shoot everything that doesn't look like you.

Alien vs. Predator is due out for PC, 360, and PS3 next Spring.

4. Alan Wake: Author Alan Wake is in the middle of some seriously weird stuff. His wife is missing, strange shadow creatures are trying to kill him, and it all apparently has something to do with a manuscript that he doesn't remember writing. Everything he - or someone - wrote is coming true, page by horrifying page. The dark force pursuing Alan can inhabit everything from humans to backhoes, but you must attack it with light before you fight it off. Your flashlight is actually more important to you than your gun; without a light source, your chances of survival drop drastically. It's not a new approach - a virtually identical mechanic was used in Obscure, but I appreciate a game that emphasizes something other than ammo management and sharpshooting.

Alan Wake also seems to be adopting a TV-style approach to its storytelling. Each chapter begins with a "previously on" reminder of the story thus far, leading into a "tonight on" peek at upcoming events. The game's mysterious events and Pacific Northwest setting evoke shows like Twin Peaks or Lost, so the recaps work to underline that atmosphere. They also help remind you what the hell's going on, something I personally appreciate. There's nothing more frustrating than putting a game aside for a few weeks, only to pick it up again and realize that you've no idea what's going on.

Alan Wake will be out for the 360 in Spring 2010.

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