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

You should really read each and every word, view every screen, and watch every video that every website on the interwebs has written about E3 09. However, since we assume you’re just one person and not Google’s army of web crawling automata, we’re going to give you a daily primer of the most critical tidbits. Here goes…

1.Mass Effect 2 just keeps looking better
We knew deep in our hearts that Shepard couldn’t be dead, and the new trailer confirmed it. We heard a voiceover exclaim, “Shepard, I thought you were dead!” or something along those lines – she must have watched the first teaser, too. Other notable bits include a precariously large rocket launcher unleashing a small mushroom cloud of Geth death, which indicates at least one new class of weapon, and plenty of the tactical sci-fi combat looks like a smoother experience than the first game.The climax of the trailer shows a new, mysterious (not the Geth) type of enemy approaching in an unknown ship. Gasp!

2. Alan Wake still exists – and actually looks pretty fun
This reclusive horror game has been underground for ages, but it turns out it hasn’t been rotting; it’s been growing in the darkness like a fine truffle. Most of the gameplay revolved around Alan setting ghouls aflame with a simple flashlight, but the enemies also bulldoze a house to get to him – so we’re thinking they’re smarter than the average undead whatever. Nice exclusive, Microsoft.

3.We finally got to see Modern Warfare 2 being played – and it looks fantastic
Yeah, the setting is nearly identical to last week’s trailer. But the idea of climbing a wall of ice with handheld picks, capping unaware fools with a motion-sensing gun, and hijacking an enemy snowmobile has us ready to sign up for more immediately.

4.Proof that Final Fantasy XIII is running on 360 - and in English to boot!
It’s been a whole year since it was announced, but we at long last got to see FFXIII in action. Seeing was finally believing that Sqeenix was actually working on it. And not only that, this was the first time, we believe, it has been seen with English menus and we got to see the newly redone Odin summon in action. Tie that together with a real release window of Spring 2010 and we’re ready to build that time machine right now.

5.Meet Milo – the hellishly creepy imaginary boy
Milo chills us to the bone – Dancing around like an idiot and making elephants is cool for some folks, but the only thing about Natal - the 360’s Big Brother-type camera - that impressed us was Milo. Made by Lionhead and Peter Molyneux, he’s a creepily real looking boy that responds to you via the camera and mic in Natal (Microsoft’s new motion camera thing) as if he were really there. He draws fish, ignores his homework and talks to you like a real boy. It made us both optimistic for the future and scared of robots gone amuck. Remember the movie AI.

7.Last.fm is coming to 360, along with everything else your computer does
We’re all a little flimsy on how last.fm even works, but hey, it’sfree music. And if it can replace your in-game soundtrack with music of your choosing, that’s damn good news for anyone who plays one or more EA game(s) a year.

Streaming Netflix will finally work like it always should’ve, with 1080p, 5.1 surround, and a dashboard browser upgrade that nixes the middleman.

Facebook and Twitter… the people who buy stock and sign million-dollar deals with a hand shake are probably flipping their shit over this one. There was much fawning over the lovely Felicia Day, who demonstrated the new Facebook connect app and how it interacts with the LIVE dashboard. But no matter how much we love theThe GuildandDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, we can’t see how the hell it can ever match the functionality of a regular browser.

8.Metal Gear Solid Rising is coming to 360
Whoa! Expect PS3 fanboys to start suicide bombing Gamestops any day now, 'cause they just lost the biggest feather in their console war battle hat.(Chill, you maniacs! It looks like it’ll be multiplatform). The main character is Raiden, but Kojima claims it’s the next major entry in the series - we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s MGS 4 with some Raiden-centric side quests.

9. The Beatles: Rock Band is much more than a gimmick
Harmonix developers could have sold a Beatles downloadable track pack – no frills, full price – and we would have thrown money at them happily. Instead, they promised an interactive audio-visual history of the band’s entire lifespan. That sounded like possible PR fluff… until today.

Microsoft’s conference kicked off with gameplay that completely encapsulated – and celebrated – The Beatles phenomenon. The four avatars on screen not only resembled John, Paul, George and Ringo, they dressed like them, acted like them and, coolest of all, evolved like them. We saw “I Want To Hold Your Hand” performed on a clone of The Ed Sullivan Show in mop tops and matching suits, “I Am the Walrus” with creepy, psychedelic creature suits and “Get Back” as part of the famous, hippie-haired rooftop performance at Apple studios.

We expected this game to be good, but wow. This just feels right.

10. Crackdown 2 exists?!
As much as we enjoyed the first open-city superhero builder, we thought the prospects of a proper sequel were completely dead. The original creator of Crackdown, Realtime Worlds, was ready to spin the game into a franchise, but claimed that publisher Microsoft expressed interest too late. The developer had already moved onto “bigger, better things”… aka, the similarly themed MMO crime epic, APB.

Microsoft still owned the intellectual rights to Crackdown, however, and – as we learned today – gave the job of the sequel to another company. The footage below is merely a trailer, but considering we’d predicted most of what we experienced today, Crackdown 2 earns a spot here simply for being a honest-to-goodness surprise.