E3 2011
The Escapist's Favorite Games of E3 2011

The Escapist Staff | 17 Jun 2011 23:00
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We saw well over a hundred games at this year's E3. We even wrote about some of them. It's easy to get beguiled by the spectacle of it all, so we wanted to take a look back at the games and moments that meant the most to us at the show. We asked each of the six people who covered the show for us to describe the three or four things that most impressed them at the show. And while no one is surprised that we were impressed with the likes to BioShock, Batman or Skyrim, there are also some lesser known games on the list.

So what were your favorite games from the show? What impressed or surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments.

Asura's Wrath

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I was on my way out of Capcom's E3 booth when I noticed Susan Arendt playing a game that blew my mind. It was an action/adventure game that looked like what might happen if Kratos (God of War), Wander (Shadow of the Colossus) and Yoda (Soul Calibur IV) got together and tried LSD, then made an entertaining and innovative video game and called it Asura's Wrath.

The scene I witnessed pitted Asura, a demi-god in human form stripped of his powers and angry about it, against a foe of varying sizes. It's a mythological setting, with lots of dirt and hand-made structures. Old, you know. Your enemy starts chucking missiles the size of go-carts at you, which you catch bare handed and toss back. He gets bigger, so you sprout four extra arms. Why not? Then, you're buried under rubble while this giant god pummels you with fists that are three times the size of your body. You pummel back until most of your arms break off. Your last punch sends the enemy flying and leaves you sprawled above ground next to your own detached arm. Then a spaceship arrives because, again...why not? So, then, this super god who just happens to be larger than the galaxy wants to squish you. So he tries, with his index finger.

In our industry we are the masters of suspended belief. Plumbers rescue princesses from toads wielding bubbles, bears play banjos and carry birds around in their backpacks, and little princes roll sticky beach balls around the earth 'til they get big enough to replace planets. Asura's Wrath asked me to give myself over to the impossibilities within it and rewarded me with an unbelievably good time.

Batman: Arkham City

imageRocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum got so many things right. Not only did it strike exactly the right tone for the Dark Knight detective, even going so far as to get Kevin Conroy and Mark Hammill to reprise their character-defining roles from Batman: The Animated Series, but it also got the gameplay right. This was one of the few superhero games that really made you feel like a superhero and not some generic videogame character. From the fighting to the sneaking, from the gadgets to the sleuthing, this was the best videogame version of Batman we'd ever seen.

Thankfully, all of that is back in place for the sequel, Batman: Arkham City. Now Batman has the entire city of Gotham to explore as he tracks down the escaped inmates of Arkham Asylum. I was very impressed with the new gliding and grappling mechanic, as it gives the player a chance to really get around the city in some interesting ways. And whether you're standing on top of a beautiful skyscraper or down in a grimy alley, the sense of scale and detail is powerful.

And far from being a rehash of the original roster, we'll be mixing it up with new notables like Penguin and Catwoman. Better still, you actually get to play as Catwoman, which makes the whole experience that much more exciting for a fan like me.

Now, just give me the Batmobile and fix detective vision and we'll be straight.

Battlefield 3

imageSure, I like to complain about sequels and the saturation of shooters in the market, and then, BAM! Along comes a shooter sequel that just captivates me. I've been a big fan of Battlefield since 1942 (and for a little extra cred, even played Codename Eagle), so I'm always up to try a new version. In this case, EA let us try out a new map in Battlefield 3.

We'd seen the wide open battles in the desert in the trailer, which, let's face it, looked like actual footage from the war, but this hands-on level was set in the Paris streets and even took players down into the cramped confines of the metro system. The level, which plays out in a succession of objectives, has players battling through beautiful city parks, watching as fighter jets demolish buildings around them, and storming through the cramped and dim subway tunnels. There's just so much to enjoy here, and it all just feels right. The weapons and characters are solid and convincing, and the environments are just gorgeous.

The mechanics have been improved too. The medic class has been merged with the assault class, which makes sense. Now the poor guys dying on the front line don't have to wait for help to come up from the rear. They can save themselves. The support class also works much better now thanks to the real suppression system, which not only hampers an enemy's aim, but also nets you much needed points in multiplayer. It's a good game made even better.

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