E3 09: Top 10 things you need to know about today - Wednesday edition

The only E3 news worth reading. The only screens worth seeing

Maybe you’re overwhelmed by our constantbarrage of tweetsand extensiveE3 coverage. Maybe you’re drowning in the sea of E3 info that’s flooding the web. Or maybe you’ve got a life and don’t have time to waste reading previews and staring at screenshots for games you’ll never care about. That’s why we’ve filtered out all the bull to bring you the exciting news that matters the most. So please excuse our smelly hands and enjoy the announcements you need to know about from day three of our round-the-clock E3 coverage.

1) BioShock 2 multiplayer takes place during the fall of Rapture
Our first look at multiplayer has our veins itching for an injection of gene tonic. BioShock 2’s multiplayer is set one year before the events of the first game, during the civil war that destroys Rapture. You have an “apartment” that serves as your hub for upgrading your character and saving weapon/plasmid loadouts. They’ve also created a story wrapper around why you get upgrades. You’re a product tester for Sinclair Solutions, a group developing new weapons and plasmids to profiteer off the conflict. As you test their stuff and level up, they make new products available to you.

From the apartment, you launch into the action. The map we saw was culled from the Kashmir Restaurant area from the first game. Plasmas are equipped in the off hand, so there’s no switching time. Plasmids can be charged for more damage, and Circus of Values machines sell Eve to replenish your supply. Best of all, a Big Daddy suit randomly spawns on the map. The player who picks it up becomes a near unstoppable tank, but when he’s killed the suit respawns. We also saw hackable turrets a player can take over. The hacking minigame has been replaced with a simple timer, but the effect is the same: the turret fires on your enemies. This is particularly helpful taking down the Big Daddy.

We didn’t see any weapons or plasmids that weren’t in the first game, but they’ll become available as you level up. Overall, it looks like a welcome addition to the BioShock world.

2) Mass Effect 2 is going to kill you
How shall we put this? Mass Effect 2 blew our minds. The cut scenes and conversations are all filmed with a much more cinematic presentation, better camera angles and more realistic facial expressions. It’s no longer just two people standing there and talking. You can command each of your two wingmen individually. It looks and sounds even better than the first one.

But most important is the plot, which is even darker and more sinister; that means a lot considering the first game was about the extermination of all carbon-based life in the universe. Commander Shepherd, your character from the first game, is not dead at the game’s start, but he/she probably will be by the end of it – you are, quite literally, not expected to survive the entire game.

3) There’s a new Castlevania… but sorta not
Don’t get us wrong. We’re thrilled that publisher Konami just announced a new game in its beloved Castlevania series. We’re just not sure it actually IS a Castlevania game.

For one, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is 3D – and we don’t have to remind fans how unkind that third dimension has been to the series thus far. Then there’s the fact that the development is being overseen not by the series’ longtime master Koji Igarashi, but by Hideo Kojima, the mastermind behind the Metal Gear franchise. Plus, it’s being developed not by Konami in Japan, but by a third-party developer headquartered in Madrid, Spain. Oh, and is it relevant that this hasn’t always been a Castlevania game? It was originally a God of War wannabe, announced last year as just “Lords of Shadow,” and was apparently retrofitted to match the Castlevania franchise once Konami got involved. So you can see why we’re not quite convinced of its place in the lexicon just yet.

However, if thetrailer aboveis any indication, we’ll play anyhow. With a stellar voice cast (Patrick Stewart!) and action that ranges from chain-hooking a giant demon’s tongue to wrestling a werewolf on horseback, this looks like a great game.

4) Final Fantasy VII is out today on PSP and PS3
Here’s something that should’ve been available on the PlayStation Network at launch: Final Fantasy VII. Yeah, you may have played the crap out of it twelve years ago, but it’s also one of the most replayable RPGs ever. Think of the summons you can hunt for, the materias you can uncover, the… stop reading this because the game is out right the hell now. For the price of $9.99, you can download 1.32GB of hot Cloud/Sephiroth Limit Break action. And you can play it on either your PS3 or PSP.

In related news, FFVII: Advent Children Complete - the feature-length movie sequel to the game - was released on Blu-ray yesterday. Think about that when you nab the game off PSN. Ok, that’s it. Go, go go!

5) If Borderlands plays as well as it looks, it’ll be a smash hit
Like Fallout? Or maybe World of Warcraft? Perhaps Diablo, Gears of War, Lost Planet or Halo? Then Borderlands, the upcoming game from Gearbox Software, should be on your radar. We just got our first look at the game’s four-player co-op and were reminded of some of our favorite aspects of all those games. You wander (or drive) through a barren brown wasteland with your buddies, killing crazy creatures like alien ants and mutant dogs, who drop loot and treasure that you can use to upgrade yourself and your weaponry. Enough hybrid for ya?

What really has us salivating, however, are the game’s graphics. In April, the developers unveiled a totally new visual style for Borderlands – something resembling a grittier, gorier Prince of Persia. We were intrigued then, but having now seen the thing in motion, we can’t wait. Take a look at the screen below, but know thatit can’t do the actual experience justice.

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