So many games, so little time.
"Rock Band," adds more instruments and online play to the successful "Guitar Hero" formula.
Such is still the case when running between Santa Monica, California, hotels at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, the annual video game convention that serves as a peek into the future of the multibillion-dollar interactive entertainment industry.
This year's invitation-only show, with about 3,000 journalists and analysts, was in other ways dramatically different than in years past, when more than 65,000 attendees would cram into the Los Angeles Convention Center to see the biggest game franchises of tomorrow.
Despite taking more time to get to meetings, this new format gave us a more relaxed environment with more hands-on time with games that are coming out later this year or next.
The buzz was unavoidable for upcoming games such as Bethesda's Fallout 3, Microsoft's Halo 3, Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, Nintendo's Super Mario Galaxy, Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Nintendo's Wii Fit and 2K Games' BioShock. But the following were my top picks worth getting excited about:
Developed by Harmonix, the same folks who created the insanely popular Guitar Hero games -- where players plug a guitar-shaped controller into the game console and strum along with popular rock songs. Rock Band turns it up to 11, if you will, by adding more instruments and online play. Specifically, this upcoming Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 game not only supports a guitar peripheral but also includes a drum kit, bass guitar and microphone to sing classic rock tunes or newer hits. Therefore, you and up to three friends can jam in front of your television, rocking out to these songs in order to rack up points and unlock new venues and on-stage characters. You can also play together over the Internet in real time or download additional songs. No price or launch date has been announced, but it will be published by MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts by year-end.
Sure, sci-fi fans were buzzing about Halo 3 (due out Sept. 25), but Xbox 360 owners should be equally as excited about Mass Effect from BioWare, the latest and easily most ambitious role-playing game (RPG) from the developers responsible for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. Due out this November from Microsoft Game Studios, Mass Effect is a deep fantasy RPG, where you roam the galaxy with allies brimming with life and personality. Through strategic combat, puzzle-solving and thousands of lines of well-written dialogue, you must remain alive long enough to unravel a mystery and put a stop to an evil force preparing to wipe out all advanced life forms in the universe. While visiting planets and space stations, all characters you interact with feature realistic facial animations that help them convey emotions.
Due out in early 2008 for the PlayStation 3 is Sony's LittleBigPlanet, an ingenious community-based puzzle game, where you meet on a planet with individual plots and use your little characters, each with their own powers, to bypass obstacles and collect items by interacting with the environment. You must also modify your surroundings and create objects, which can then be shared with others online via the PlayStation Network. This collaborative teamwork game is no linear adventure: You can choose how to play and what to create, with virtually limitless combinations as you customize your patch of land, characters and objects, to solve the increasingly challenging exercises. Visually speaking, this game is simply gorgeous with its 3-D puppet-like creatures and surreal but organic-looking worlds with high-resolution textures.
'Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare'
Activision's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360 and PC) is an incredibly intense modern-day military shooter that drops you in hot spots around the globe as both a U.S. Marine and British Special Air Service soldier. To take on the rogue enemy group that's threatening the world, you will have access to more than 70 authentic weapons as well as accessories such as night-vision goggles and special protective suits. Most of the cinematic action takes place on foot, as you must use the environment as cover (such as walls, tall grass and cars), but gamers can also ride in helicopters and other vehicles. Along with the lengthy single-player campaign, multiple online modes will keep the war alive in cyberspace. This Mature-rated game is due out this fall. E-mail to a friend