Dead Rising: Chop 'Til You Drop - Wii
This really shouldn't work, but it just about does. Less weapon variety and a number of brain-munching shamblers vastly reduced from its 360 ancestor should make the Wii port of Capcom's splatterfest an exercise in rather pathetic futility, but it's actually very, very fun.
The demo we played was a simple five-minute killing spree topped off with a boss fight against Adam the clown on the mall roof, but regardless of any reductions, whenever heavy object connected with undead head, the improvised battery was just as funny and brutally satisying as it ever was in HD. The new enemies - zombified poodles and parrots - were incredibly annoying to fight but equally rewarding to kill, and with the promise of an improved save system and a solution to those annoying, time-wasting side-missions, we're now much more interested in this particular Wii port than we ever imagined we could be.
Dead Space - Xbox 360
Screw you, Dead Space. Screw you for making us jump in the air and deposit undesirable things in our trousers in a brightly lit room full of our peers.
The adrenalin started pumping almost as soon as we started playing. The just-light-enough-to see-the-gore-on-the-walls gloom and quiet, any-minute-now tension were bad enough, but far worse was Dead Space's ambient soundtrack. It was, quite simply, one of the most effectively horrific we've experienced in years. Thickly oppressive industrial rumbling throbbed in our ears, creating a choking atmosphere which just told us that we were in a very bad place and in no way safe. And when the sudden, horrible, squishy, skittering noises gave way to unearthly skrieks and growls as Cronenbergian nightmares leapt from the shadows, the emotional crescendo was almost offensively visceral.
Add the fact that the tactical dismemberment payback is brutally satisfying and it all makes Dead Space look to be a brilliantly harrowing, borderline intimidating game.
Fallout 3 - Xbox 360
A packed-out games convention isn't necessarily the best place to get the feel of an epic role-player, so it's a testament to the wonder of Fallout 3 that the hour we got with it was as immersive and involving as any we've spent gaming at home. Seriously, after a few minutes we actually had to put our watches on the table in front of us so that we had a constant reminder of the time. We had other appointments to get to that day. And sleep to have. And food to eat. And Fallout 3 didn't want us to get around to any of that.
Before we played it, Fallout 3 was a game that we knew we liked the look of, but couldn't really imagine the feel of. Would it be a shooter? Would it be an RPG? How the hell would it all blend? The answer is "beautifully". The simplest explanation is tell you to imagine it as the logical extension of Bioshock - indeed it looks like it'll be taking up a similar place in your heart and life when it arrives. The effectiveness of the real-time FPS mechanics are dictated by unseen RPG stats, and naturally you can tweak and pimp out your every ability as the game progresses. And if you've got enough action points, you can view the still-frame hit-probabilities of the VATS system as a tactical tool or just a special attack to get a free shot.
Play it as a action-based depiction of an RPG or play it as an RPG-augmented shooter. Either way, it looks like it will be a sublime, rich and endlessly textured experience.
Killzone 2 Multiplayer - PS3
Beautiful graphics and fairly decent multiplayer level design mean nothing in an FPS which during our hands-on took up to a week to respond to control inputs and masked the action with a layer of post-processed vaseline at every opportunity. Sluggish, terrible to control, and seemingly on a steadfast mission to confuse the player.