As awesome as E3 is, it's also completely overwhelming. With hundreds of upcoming games ranging from the biggest triple-A to the smallest indie, it's hard to keep track of everything I saw on the show floor. Now that I've put a few days (and 3,000 miles) between me and the Los Angeles Convention Center, it's easier to figure out what games were truly memorable. These are the five games I'm still thinking about, talking about, and wishing were already out.
5. Rock Band Blitz: Trying to explain a Rock Band game without instruments is tough. "How does that work? How is it fun?" were among the questions I was asked when I told friends and family about my hands-on time with the game at E3. Maybe using triggers to hit notes and buttons to unleash power-ups doesn't sound thrilling, but even without the plastic instruments, Rock Band Blitz is an entertaining, addictive rhythm game that I was still thinking about hours after I left the show floor. And the fact that I can play hundreds of downloaded songs I already own in Blitz only makes it better.
Rock Band Blitz will be out later this year for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.
4. Quantum Conundrum: E3 demos can be tough. Developers only have a few minutes to make an impression on overstimulated throngs of gamers looking for something special. That's why I always appreciate a game I can just pick up and play on the show floor without needing an overly long explanation. Quantum Conundrum will feel instantly familiar to anyone who's played Portal, and for me that's a good thing. It doesn't feel like a rip-off, but the influence is definitely there, and my time with the game had me giggling, nodding in understanding, cursing myself for mistimed jumps, and ready to see what the next dimensional shift would be.
Quantum Conundrum is due out this summer for the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and PC.
3. The Last of Us: I've been a Naughty Dog fan since the original Crash Bandicoot days, and I'm a sucker for a good post-apocalypse story. This is what gravitated me towards The Last of Us when it was announced late last year, but it was the game's Sony press conference demo that really drew me in. Some might complain about the violence in the atmospheric game, but I thought The Last of Us did a great job of presenting a world in which life as we know it no longer exists, and every day is a fight for survival. I'm very intrigued by the seemingly father-daughter relationship between Joel and Ellie, and the demo also gave me a definite Enslaved vibe, which is a plus in my book.
The Last of Us is due out in 2013 for the PlayStation 3.
2. Persona 4 Golden: It might be cheating, because I've already played Persona 4 and loved every minute of it, but I don't care. Persona 4 Golden makes a strong case for owning a Vita, and the game looks great on the handheld's widescreen display. A graphical upgrade, more content, and a new character have the potential to make an already phenomenal game even better, and it's hard to argue with that. Persona 4 Golden was already one of my most anticipated games of 2012, and I'm even more excited now that I've seen it in person.
Persona 4 Golden will be out this fall for the PlayStation Vita.
1. Beyond: Two Souls: Heavy Rain was a flawed game, but I loved it anyway. No other title has ever given me an experience that intense, and there were gameplay decisions I agonized about making. Naturally, I was interested in Quantic Dream's follow-up from the start, but it wasn't until seeing a live, extended demo that I became convinced. Not only does Beyond: Two Souls look like it's going to deliver another unique experience, Quantic Dream has already shown that they've fixed the two biggest issues I had with Heavy Rain: voice acting and character animation. The demo I saw was much more action-packed than I expected, and I'm very excited to see how the fifteen-year period of Jodie Holmes' life plays out when I'm in control.
Beyond: Two Souls will be out for the PlayStation 3 in early 2013.
So what about the rest of the heavy hitters? Where's Tomb Raider, South Park: The Stick of Truth, and that little under-the-radar Halo 4 game everyone's buzzing about? Sadly, there's far too little time to see everything on the E3 show floor. Luckily, my talented co-writers saw all of those games and more than I didn't get the chance to play, so we've got you covered.