Which publisher had the best E3?

We rank 20 of the major players' lineups and pick their best in shows

10) SEGA

Best in show:Bayonetta
Rest of the lineup: Aliens vs Predator, Alpha Protocol, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, Planet 51, The Conduit, Vancouver 2010

Let’s ignore Mario & Sonic, shall we? As kids, we may have been blown away by the continued partnership of these two gaming legends, but now it just seems desperate. Aliens vs Predator has serious promise though, as does the sexy spy shooter Alpha Protocol. As for Bayonetta, our pick for Sega’s best in show? As we pointed out in our E3 2009 Awards, what other title enables you to play as a half-naked chick and turn that half-naked chick’s hair into a dragon?

9) VALVE

Best in show:Left 4 Dead 2
Rest of the lineup: N/A

Poor Valve. After catching flak for delivering their products so slowly over the years, the company finally gets a sequel out within a year. A highly anticipated sequel to a game that pretty much everyone adored. In a cool new setting. With an effing chainsaw. And what does Valve get? Crucified by fans who feel they’re abandoning the original Left 4 Dead. Ah, the fickle madness of crowds. Well, we appreciate you, Valve, and we’re putting you in our top ten even though you only showed one game.

8) 2K

Best in show:Borderlands
Rest of the lineup: BioShock 2, Mafia II

Oh man, this was a tough one. BioShock was GamesRadar’s second favorite game of 2007 (and many of our editors’ first choice), so glimpsing even a smidgen more of its gameplay is a cause for celebration. 2K used E3 to show off BioShock 2’s multiplayer, however… and while we enjoyed it, we weren’t blown away. BioShock is a masterpiece because of masterful single player storytelling, and we would have rather sat down with a section of that. No need to worry, though, as Borderlands made up for any BioShock 2 disappointment. The game’s graphics look like a grittier, grimier Prince of Persia, there are something like 500,000 different guns in the game, and the gameplay reminds us simultaneously of Diablo, Fallout 3, World of Warcraft, Halo 3, Gears of War and Lost Planet. Not a bad combo, eh?

7) CAPCOM

Best in show: Dark Void
Rest of the lineup: Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Lost Planet 2, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Spyborgs, Resident Evil Archives, Resident Evil Darkside Chronicles

The two Resident Evil games are of almost no interest whatsoever. Archives is the Wii version of the GameCube remake of the 1996 PS1 original. Buh? Darkside Chronicles is another Wii rail shooter, which based on our first hands-on, isn’t very much fun at all. But most of the other stuff is gold. Tatsunoko vs Capcom is a crazy over-the-top fighting game. A sequel to Lost Planet? Sold! And a spiffy downloadable version of Marvel vs Capcom 2? We can’t wait to be taken for that ride. And Monster Hunter is probably the most underrated multiplayer franchise out there. All that, plus the very promising Dark Void, keep Capcom safe at #7. You’re on notice, though, Capcom! Ease up on the RE whoring.

6) UBISOFT

Best in show:Assassin’s Creed 2
Rest of the lineup: Splinter Cell Conviction, Red Steel 2, C.O.P. The Recruit, RUSE, Rabbids Go Home, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Tintin, James Cameron’s Avatar, TMNT Smash Up, Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage, Academy of Champions)

Now we’re digging into some quality stuff. Ubisoft may have had the worst press conference of E3 09, but we can’t deny that their lineup has us thrilled. Splinter Cell Conviction has had a major overhaul and looks miles better for it. Red Steel 2 and a new No More Heroes will have us dusting off our Wiis – heck, even the Rabbids game seems worthwhile (we’re worried about the turtles brawler, though) and RUSE is as exciting as an RTS can get. While Tintin and Avatar are both movie adaptations, the directors are so heavily involved that we’re actually optimistic. The last time Ubisoft worked closely with a director, we got the amazing King Kong. Then there’s Assassin’s Creed II, a sequel that actually looks truly evolved from its predecessor, with flying mechanics, a lavish Italian Renaissance setting and Leonardo da Vinci as a partner-in-crime.

5) MICROSOFT

Best in show: Project Natal
Rest of the lineup: Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, Alan Wake, Crackdown 2, Forza Motorsport 3, Gears of War 2: Dark Corners, 1 vs 100, Joy Ride, Shadow Complex

The 360 will have plenty of excellent games this year; many, though, aren’t being published by Microsoft. Even if they’re exclusive to Microsoft, we can’t count them on this list. We’re still left with a powerful group. Two Halo games. The surprise sequel, Crackdown 2. Another Forza. Alan Wake, proving that it still exists and threatening to steal the horror crown from Silent Hill and Resident Evil. The downloadable games could be stellar, too. Joy Ride may be a gimmick but it’s fun and free, and we’re definitely intrigued by Shadow Complex, a Metroid-style homage from the creators of Gears of War. Nothing had us talking more than the Project Natal motion control cameras, however, so that gets our top pick. Maybe they’ll fail. Maybe they’ll never even become available. Or maybe they’ll reinvent the industry.

4) ACTIVISION

Best in show: Modern Warfare 2
Rest of the lineup: DJ Hero, Prototype, Blur, Singularity, Tony Hawk: Ride, Wolfenstein, Guitar Hero 5, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

Modern Warfare 2. What else do you need to know? If not for Mass Effect 2, Activision’s Call of Duty sequel would have won our Best in Show. And as much as we like The Beatles, DJ Hero is the more interesting evolution in music simulators this year. Tony Hawk: Ride is also the first innovative skateboarding game in a long time. Blur, Singularity and Wolfenstein have a ton of potential, too, while Guitar Hero 5 is guaranteed to be a big seller. Marvel Ultimate Alliance and the just-released Prototype as well? Hardly a weak game on Activision’s list, really.

3) NINTENDO

Best in show:Super Mario Galaxy 2
Rest of the lineup:
Metroid: Other M, New Super Mario Bros (Wii), The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Golden Sun (DS), Wii Fit Plus, Wii Sports Resort, Sin and Punishment 2, Endless Ocean 2, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, Picross 3D, Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again, Legend of Zelda (2011)

Our editors may have fought over what a Super Mario Galaxy 2 means for Nintendo’s future, but even the naysayers can’t wait to play it. If not, they can comfort themselves with four-player New Super Mario Bros. on Wii, another Mario & Luigi or another Mario vs Donkey Kong. More of a Zelda fan? You’ve got a choice of cutesy Zelda with the spiritual sequel to Phantom Hourglass… or you can wait a couple years and get your moody, adult Zelda fix with whatever’s planned for 2011. Nice of Miyamoto to announce it, though. A new Professor Layton and a new Golden Sun – the dream of so many for so long – made us almost forget the disaster that was E3 08 and Wii Music. Almost.

2) SONY

Best of show:The Last Guardian
Rest of the lineup: God of War III, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, MAG, Agent, Modnation Racers, Gran Turismo 5, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, White Knight Chronicles, Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier, LittleBigPlanet Portable, Motorstorm: Arctic Edge, PSP Go

Sony’s back. Its past few press conferences have left us feeling decidedly lukewarm; this one had us eagerly eyeballing our PS3s. The Last Guardian had us wiping tears from our eyes and God of War III made us feel like we needed to wipe blood from our faces. Uncharted 2 shocked everyone with that action-packed trailer. Modnation Racers could be the first game you’d actually want to play with kids. Another Gran Turismo. Another Ratchet & Clank. Hell, we’re even kind of excited to play our PSPs again, with Jak & Daxter, LittleBigPlanet and more Gran Turismo.

1) ELECTRONIC ARTS

Best in show:Mass Effect 2
The rest of the lineup: Brutal Legend, The Saboteur, The Beatles: Rock Band, Dante's Inferno, Dead Space Extraction, Dragon Age: Origins, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra, Spore Hero, Spore Hero Arena, Need for Speed NITRO, Need for Speed SHIFT, Army of Two: The 40th Day, Battlefield 1943, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Madden NFL 10, FIFA 10, Fight Night Round 4, NCAA Football 10, NHL 10, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, EA Sports Active, EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis, MySims Agents

Come on. Study that lineup. Read it line by line. That is a stunning and diverse collection of surefire hits. Mass Effect 2 was our Game of Show, and with its seamless new method for dialogue trees, could signal an evolutionary step in gaming. Brutal Legend gets crazier, funnier and wilder every time we see more of it. The Saboteur is one of the few GTA clones that doesn’t seem like a GTA clone at all, with bold choices in setting and visuals. The Beatles: Rock Band has had us humming Fab Four tunes for a week straight now, and that jaw-dropping intro sequence plays on repeat in our minds.

Keep going down the list, though… the potential (probable) quality just doesn’t end. Maybe EA is an evil corporate entity known for swallowing up all of these brilliant developers and their brilliant games, but hey, at least it has good taste.

Jun 12, 2009

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