E3 2011
The Escapist's Favorite Games of E3 2011

The Escapist Staff | 17 Jun 2011 23:00
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

imageI'm not sure how many hours I've sunk into playing Oblivion, but it's somewhere in the high 300s. The lore of Cyrodiil, the opportunities for role playing, the architecture of the different cities - all of it resonates with me in deep and satisfying ways. All I needed Skyrim to be was more of the same, which it is, but with some welcome improvements thrown in. Some of the changes are big, like the overhauled inventory system or the brand new graphics engine, but even some of the small changes have me itching to get my hands on a controller. The camera won't automatically zoom in, instead leaving a polite distance between you and the person you're talking to. To read a book, you'll actually...pick up a book and turn its pages. Simple, yet immersive.

I've never been able to choose between being a fighter and being a magic user, though. Hurling fireballs and summoning skeletons is simply too much fun to give up spellcasting in exchange for being better with a sword - but getting all stabbity with a Golden Saint is far too satisfying to give up for better magic. I could do both in Oblivion, but switching between the two could be awkward, especially when I was backtracking in a futile attempt to flee a particularly ornery troll. Now I can have a spell in one hand and a sword in the other, ready to heal myself or fling some fire as I hack and slash my way through the countryside.

I need to clear about 300 hours out of my November calendar.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

imageI'm not sure why Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning isn't getting more attention. It's God of War mixed with Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and World of Warcraft. The graphics are bright, colorful and gorgeous. The action-based combat system is deep and varied but won't rely on button mashing. There's a wealth of typical RPG skills like pickpocketing, stealth, blacksmithing, and alchemy. The loot system resembles that of Diablo, meaning there will be tons of items to pick up. The class system is somewhat revolutionary, allowing players to unlock classes depending on whatever skills they choose as they play, rather than requiring a choice at the very beginning. Exploration is a focus, with players that wander off the beaten path likely to find secrets such as a hidden group of fishmen worshipping a giant snake monster, whom they can fight in a unique WoW raid-style battle for special loot. It's got the financial backing of hardcore RPG fan Curt Schilling, and is being developed with the help of artist and animator Todd MacFarlane, Oblivion designer Ken Rolston, and author R.A. Salvatore. So pay attention, all right?

Reckoning looked better than ever at E3. The hands-off demo showed more of the little details like how pickpocketing might land you in jail if you're caught. The Destiny class system looks like it has dozens of unique types to unlock based on the player's choices. Crafting looks as deep as you'd see in any MMO. 38 Studios boasts that it'll have hundreds of hours of gameplay, and often says that there's no RPG out there like Reckoning right now. I'm inclined to believe it. If combat lives up to the promises and isn't too button-mashey, Reckoning could be one of the best RPGs of all time. Or at least a really, really good one.

Leedmees

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My feelings on Konami at this year's E3 are mixed. Part of me is angry at the Japanese developer for hiding the single Leedmees station between NeverDead and the new Glee karaoke game, but then I feel I should be grateful that Konami made this strange, addicting "full-body puzzle game" at all.

Like the best motion control games, Leedmees revolves around a concept that is immediately understood when seen in person. You use your body to move your on-screen avatar's body, in an effort to guide lemmings that mindlessly walk forward until they hit a wall. They spawn in a blue portal, and you have to get them to the red portal, overcoming obstacles in-between the two. Embarrassing antics ensue.

Leedmees wouldn't work if it weren't for its one-to-one movement between the player and avatar. Half of the fun comes from trying out new things, as you figure out a puzzle, collect bonus stars or race for a better completion time. You quickly discover the advantage in squatting, bending your arms and flicking your wrist to propel the lemmings into the air.

With only 50 single-player and 12 multiplayer stages, Leedmees isn't a substantial offering , but that's probably why it's being offered on the cheap as a Xbox Live Arcade title. However, I'd willingly pay full price for this unexpected, puzzle game. I may even do the unthinkable and purchase a Kinect for it. I know that sounds like complete hyperbole but no other playable game at E3 made me smile like Leadmees.

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