E3 2010: Why wait? Tomorrow’s games reviewed NOW – Thursday edition

We get it: you want to know the future. And we’re here to reveal it to you. Here, right now, are the exact scores you can expect this E3’s hottest games to achieve upon their release*. Don’t thank us – thank the space-time continuum.

*Unless we’re wrong

Civilization V

Some games can be compared to a light snack, like a candy bar or some popcorn. Some games are a bit bigger and beefier, more akin to a full meal. Civilization V is a full thanksgiving dinner served as the appetizer to a 180-course buffet. These games have always been big, but this is simply ridiculous.

The grid is hex-based instead of square based now, which sounds like a little thing, but isn’t. The hex grid enables units to navigate the maps much more effectively and adds extra strategic depth to the combat – especially since you can no longer stack multiple units on a single space (another HUGE adjustment with major tactical ramifications). Formations, terrain, flanking and unit balance all just got waaaay more important.

There are dozens of other tweaks here and there (neutral city-states, you can buy land, cities defend themselves in battle) but the most gigantic thing to know is that the game will also have a huge suite of modding tools, with uploads and downloads of user-created content built right into the interface. It’s a niche title, to be sure, but if this is your kind of action, you may literally never need another game.

Score: 10

The Fight: Lights Out

Essentially a gritty, more realistic version of Wii Sports boxing, The Fight was a fun way to find out that we suck at throwing real punches. It looks extremely sharp (especially in 3D) and the basic punching mechanic is enjoyable enough, but the Move controls kept having to be recalibrated in the middle of the fight after our punches started falling way short of their mark. It’s also a little awkward that the game requires you to stand in place; trying to keep ourselves from stepping to move was difficult.

Finally, the thing reeks of a tech demo; if there isn’t a lot more to it than the simple one-on-one fighting we tried out during the demo, then we can’t see buying this as anything other than a Move pack-in or an inexpensive PSN game.

Score: 7

One of two old-school revivals shown by Nintendo this year, DKC Returns promised to bring Kong back to his 2D glory days. It’s true that it borrows heavily from the SNES classics, but our hands-on time revealed the controls to be just a tad off, as if Kong took too long to get started or was a bit floatier than before. Yes, Diddy’s jetpack gives you a brief period of floating and there’s still plenty of bouncing from enemy to enemy to shot-gunning barrel, but the whole thing handles funky (kong).

Kirby’s Epic Yarn uses the Remote as a sideways NES pad, while DKC opts for Remote/Chuk and implements waggle where a button press would have sufficed. Maybe motion will turn out to be optional? And even if it’s standard, the core gameplay is still fun, just not as refreshing and endearing as Epic Yarn. However, we know Retro Studios (Metroid Prime) can produce excellence, so it’s entirely possible the controls will gel easier when not standing on a crowded show floor.

Score: 7

As much as we wanted to love Force Unleashed, it had too many gameplay flaws to make it exceptional. But it was good, and though we haven’t been granted hands-on with Force Unleashed II, we’ve seen how it addresses some of its predecessor’s problems. We didn’t feel powerful enough early on in Force Unleashed – now we start with two lightsabers and Force Fury, which gives us a burst of immense, AT-AT crushing power. Plus, we can now decapitate stormtroopers, and decapitating dudes is pretty much the whole point of having a lightsaber.

The story looks solid, as it was in the first, and if it all works much better than Force Unleashed, it could blow us away. Right now, however, we’re adopting a more conservative level of hype.

Score: 8

Fans have been waiting to play as this franchise's reptilian enemy species, the Locust, for four years now. Beast Mode, a new multiplayer option in Gears of War 3 that casts you as the bad guys and pits you against the good guys, does not disappoint. In fact, it gives players way, way more than they probably ever expected.

You're not just a scaly-skinned version of Marcus with different guns – you get to choose between ten totally diverse different species of Locust, each with unique weapons, unique abilities, unique gameplay and, in some cases, unique vision filters. Our favorites are the Ticker, which scurries stealthily along the ground to detonate behind unsuspecting COG soldiers, and the Berserker, who is like a blind female Hulk that can't see her surroundings very well, but is an expert at stampeding and smashing humans into bloody pulps.

Best of all? Beast Mode is basically Horde Mode reversed, so even when you've gotten used to playing all the creepy critters, the underlying gameplay is a proven addiction.

Score: 9 (assuming the other modes don’t mess it up)

Need more? Check out ouriron-clad predictions from yesterday.

Jun 17, 2010