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The Games Of E3 2011

The best, worst and most surprising games of this year's show in one easily digestible package.

Surprises


Dust 514

Dust 514

Announced two years ago, CCP Games’ fascinating online shooter has been a point of interest to the games press for some time. The sheer sweep and scale of EVE Online makes it arguably the most interesting MMO in gaming, and Dust 514 is an ingenious extension of that universe. The player-generated battles that usually play out behind-the-scenes in EVE will now play out for real in first-person shooter matches – the results from one game will feed back into and help shape the future of the other. Brilliant, but it gets better: Dust 514 will also be free-to-play. Experiments like this are never bound for success, but as long as Sony does its part in communicating the EVE experience to its customers this could be an enormous success.

Need For Speed: The Run

Need For Speed: The Run

Nothing is to everyone’s taste, but Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit seemed minutely constructed to be as thrilling as technically possible. Masterful work from Criterion and a real kick in the backside for the franchise, which is what makes Need For Speed: The Run so difficult to understand. The very concept of mixing arcade racing with free-running is suspect, but I was expecting Mirror’s Edge. What EA showed was a protracted quick-time sequence that offered apparently little player input, and I don’t relish the prospect of doing that to get to the next race.

Brothers In Arms: Furious Four

Brothers In Arms Furious Four

Like so many others, I began Borderlands unsure about whether it was my sort of game, and then, slowly and certainly, it reeled me in and stole my evenings away. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best work Gearbox Software had ever done, and the impact of that success is all over Brothers In Arms: Furious Four. Gearbox is rebranding a series that had concepts like authenticity and respect in its very bones as a wacky riff on Inglorious Basterds. The game may well be good, but I’m not sure what high-jacking the IP will do for the studio’s reputation. 

Bioshock Vita

Bioshock Vita

Ken Levine’s announcement that Bioshock Infinity will support Move was a real coup for Sony, but the major revelation followed immediately after. Apparently, Irrational Games had an unrealised idea lying around, and the PlayStation Vita is the perfect platform for the material. I question Ken’s enthusiasm for Move, but I can see why he finds the Vita hardware appealing: sophisticated technology, multiple inputs, brilliant screen, and a market that will be hungry for shorter, cheaper riffs on the triple-A console experience. If it’s anything like Minerva’s Den, it could be a system seller.

Too Obvious: Annoying children playing Disney is one thing, the clunky, stilted demo for Kinect Star Wars was quite another. It was the least appealing game shown in any of the press conferences, and by no small margin.

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