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Next-Gen's 30 most anticipated games of E3

20. Tomb Raider Underworld (Wii, PS2, PS3, X360, PC, NDS)
Publisher: Eidos
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

It’s been a few years since Crystal Dynamics took the Tomb Raider franchise and reinvigorated it with Legend. But it’s really with Underworld that the series’ previous mistakes have been taken to heart. Rather than rest the game on its laurels again, Underworld is a creation that looks toward with the new; the game engine is all new, the way the world interacts with Lara is more realistic, combat now has melee and will flow fluidly into the puzzle mechanics. And if that wasn’t enough to guarantee sales, Lara has a motorcycle now too.

19. Sonic Unleashed (Wii, PS2, PS3, X360)
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

These days it feels like SEGA promises the moon with every Sonic title, to the point where it’s hard to fall for it anymore. Take Sonic Unleashed; it’s promise of a revamped, re-invented Sonic echoes the promises SEGA made before this generation’s first Sonic the Hedgehog hit the Xbox 360 with a sad plop. And yet, franchise sales have never followed the same curve as the blue blur’s review scores. This is mostly because of Sonic’s strong appeal to the child market, but on some level the graying Genesis owner wants to believe what we’re told, that this next Sonic really will reclaim the glory days. Anyway, Sonic Unleashed. It’s running on a new engine and has some 2D environments. It’ll sell, and as for the rest of it? Here’s hoping.

18. MadWorld (Wii)
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Platinum Games
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: No

Platinum Games, formerly Seeds, formerly Clover Studios, isn’t known for making commercial hits. No, that team is known more for making instant, beloved classics. Okami certainly, but Viewtiful Joe is in there as well, and the only people who remember God Hand these days love it to absolute death. MadWorld, a blood-soaked black and white Wii exclusive, feels like a return to the playful, experimentation that made this team famous. Will it sell? Well, it’s nice to think that just maybe, this time, the market has caught up to what Platinum is doing.

17. Animal Crossing Wii (Wii)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Est. Release Date: TBA
Officially Announced for E3: No

As of this writing, Animal Crossing Wii still exists as a hopeful glimmer in the eye of the gaming public. Nintendo hasn’t said anything at all about it yet, though almost all speculation says that it exists and will be announced soon—and if that’s the case, E3 is as good a place to showcase it as any. It’s a completely believable theory. Nintendo’s Christmas lineup is currently a complete mystery, and Animal Crossing, already a surprise hit on GameCube and DS, is such a good fit for the casual Wii-loving audience it’s startling it’s not on the system already.

16. Left 4 Dead (PC, X360)
Publisher: Valve Software
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Valve doesn’t release duds, and it doesn’t buy teams that can’t deliver. So the fact that it purchased Turtle Rock Studios and have put a great deal of PR muscle behind Left 4 Dead speaks volumes as to how good this game could be. The game has a completely innovative, yet highly market friendly hook in its “four survivors must cooperate to survive the zombie horde” premise, though players of a less polite persuasion can also take up the role of a super-powered zombie. This could very well be the next major online phenomenon, like Team Fortress 2 before it.

15. Resistance 2 (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

The first Resistance was the big win for the PlayStation 3 at launch, but Resistance 2 looks set to spin that good first impression into an empire. Resistance 2 pushes the game out of London to the more relatable (in the US, anyway) environs of the United States. A good move, but not as good as the massive 60-man multiplayer that the game promises. That’s fantastic scale for an online console game; add on some more focused, objective-oriented teamplay and Resistance 2 is a good contender for gamer’s next networked obsession.

14. Killzone 2 (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Guerilla Games
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Three years on and Killzone 2 is still trying to shake off its disastrous “showing” at E3 2005. Admittedly the team at Guerilla has done a fine job of actually approaching the target in that first badly marketed “target render,” with more recent previews showing the game as appropriately attractive and bombastic for its high position in Sony’s portfolio. But it still needs a big floor to show off, and it needs a man to say “in-game graphics” about one thousand times in front of some huge HD Killzone if it wants to really nail the market. E3 historically has had some very big floors.

13. Fable 2 (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

A lot on Fable 2 is already known, and most of it is interesting on a variety of levels. There’s the in-game dog, a character of unconditional love that will act as the player’s anchor to the game’s world. There’s the Pub Games, a series of Xbox Live Arcade titles that will act as both encapsulated products and previews for the big release. Then there’s the gay marriage, pregnant adventuring, and all manner of family matters to deal with in the game as well. It’s a game that promises to push boundaries and break some of the medium’s more ridiculous unnecessary taboos. Considering the success of the original Gable, it’s likely many people will choose to experience this move forward—surely a good thing.

12. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 (PC, X360)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Red Alert’s Cold War gone hot is one of the most beloved scenarios is all of strategy gaming, and the franchise’s long seven year absence makes this game even more exciting and desirable. And by adding the pseudo-Japanese Empire of the Rising Sun faction the festivities get even more campy and strange, complete with towering mecha, psychic schoolgirls and parachuting bears. So it’s got a lot of hooks for both the longtime fan and sugar-crazed newcomer alike.

11. Far Cry 2 (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

Far Cry 2 has found a unique gaming setting in the jungles, savannahs and towns of Africa, and it plans on giving the player a lot of that setting – 50 square kilometers, to be precise. Plenty of new gameplay elements will make themselves known as the player crosses that expanse: some wounds have to be treated with field medicine (ie. fishing a bullet out with a knife) and brush fires can be started, only to be whipped up realistically by wind. Far Cry 2 is an underutilized brand moving to an underutilized setting while adding multiple new innovations, making it an extremely strong contender in the hardcore shooter market. 

1 comment

  • ccm117 - September 15, 2008 12:07 p.m.

    sweet stuff but it sucks that rockband 2 for wii isn't goiing to be released till after the 360 version. Also i wish the cymbal pak could be used withe the old drum set

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