- Several large Hollywood studios didn't participate this year, leaving room for gaming
- More publishers used Comic-Con to debut new titles
- Spartacus Legends is first console game based on "Spartacus" TV series world
- Epic Games debuted its first Unreal Engine 4 game, "Fortnite," during a panel
Geek is chic these days, especially around the San Diego Convention Center. The worlds of Hollywood, video games and comic books collided for four days at the annual International Comic-Con 2012.
Gaming has always played an important role in this pop-culture convention.
Several of the larger Hollywood studios -- Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures -- sat out "the Con" this year, which opened up more room for the growing number of online series from the likes of YouTube, Hulu and Netflix as well as gaming.
In some instances these worlds collided as Microsoft showcased the talent behind the live-action series "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn."
Hollywood also remains infatuated with games as a big-screen source of inspiration. Sony Pictures debuted footage from "Resident Evil: Retribution 3D," the fifth film in the successful franchise starring Milla Jovovich.
Capcom creators showed attendees a first look at "Resident Evil 6," which will hit PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 just a few weeks after the movie opens September 14.
Open Road Films and Konami Digital Entertainment offered a similar double feature with "Silent Hill Revelation 3D" making its movie debut in the main hall while just down the street the game makers showed its interactive cousin, "Silent Hill: Book of Memories."
Walt Disney Animation Studios explored the classic world of arcade games with "Wreck-It Ralph," a new computer animated adventure featuring the voices of Sarah Silverman and John C. Reilly. Activision will be releasing games for Nintendo's platforms based on this film.
More game publishers used Comic-Con to debut brand new titles, even though the show is just a month after the big E3 convention.
But while that trade show is closed to the public, the San Diego shindig allowed game makers to reach the socially active early adopters that Hollywood and other marketers have long coveted by giving them hands-on time with some of the biggest games of this year (and next).
Here are five new games worth checking out that debuted at the show:
"Marvel Heroes" (Gazillion Entertainment, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, 2013)
While Sony Online Entertainment continues to allow gamers to explore the world of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman with DC Universe Online, that popular massively multiplayer online, or MMO, game only allows fans to play alongside those iconic characters.
"Marvel Heroes" is the first licensed comic book MMO that will allow players to step into the roles of Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and a full roster of Marvel superheroes.
In the game world, Doctor Doom has gotten his hands on the Cosmic Cube -- also known as the "Tesseract" in this summer's "The Avengers" movie. It's up to players to save the world.
The game, at least at launch, will focus heavily on New York, complete with Mutant Town, but there will also be locations such as Savage Land. Fans can don their virtual costumes and play with friends starting next year.
"Spartacus Legends" (Ubisoft, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, 2013)
Starz Entertainment has made swords and sandals cool again with Steven DeKnight's "Spartacus" TV series.
Now Ubisoft and developer Kung Fu Factory are bringing the fighting action home in the first console game based in this graphic novel-infused bloody world. The game features actors from the show, including Liam McIntyre (who plays Spartacus) and Manu Bennett (who plays Crixus).
Fans will also be able to create their own gladiators and fight in the same arenas featured in the series. One catch that's sure to pique the interest of fighting fans is that when a warrior has fallen in combat, if the victor decides to vanquish his opponent, that character is dead forever.
That adds a whole new twist to the game's online experience as players can build up powerful gladiators, train them and arm them with an assortment of weapons and then see them die in battle. The Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network title will debut in early 2013 in conjunction with the final season of the show, "Spartacus: War of the Damned."
"The Expendables 2" (Ubisoft, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3)
Sylvester Stallone returned to Comic-Con, which helped generate buzz for the action flick that has become a franchise -- complete with a new game.
Developer Zoot Fly has worked closely with Stallone to craft an original story that bridges the gap between the two films. This prequel to the August 17 movie sequel from Lionsgate and Millenium Films puts players in control of four characters from the movie -- Barney Ross (Stallone), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and Yin Yang (Jet Li).
The four-player co-op game sends players on a mission to rescue a kidnapped billionaire. The action blends isometric shooting with vehicle combat in helicopters and tanks across locales such as the Somalian deserts and Burmese jungles.
Each character has a specialty, such as sniper or demolitions expert, as well as a signature kill that players can use, such as Ross' dual pistols, for an up-close offing of an enemy. The game debuts on PlayStation Network on July 31 and hits PC and Xbox Live Arcade on August 17.
"Fortnite" (Epic Games, PC, 2013)
Epic Games, which also showcased the Xbox 360 exclusive prequel, "Gears of War: Judgment" at Comic-Con, debuted its first Unreal Engine 4 game, "Fortnite," during a panel.
The gameplay is split into two unique experiences. Players will explore, forage, collaborate and build by day in their own dynamic and expanding world.
Once the sun goes down, they'll work together to defend their fortress from zombies and other assorted creatures. The building system has been designed so that players can use scavenged materials to build and renovate structures of varying materials and complexity quickly.
The game, which offers a third-person perspective and overhead view of the action, shows off the potential of next-generation (PlayStation 4 and Xbox Next) visuals by giving gamers a taste of what Unreal Engine 4 can do. The blend of strategy and survival horror serves as something fresh from the game developer best known for its shooters. "Fortnite" will be released in 2013 for the PC.
"The Walking Dead" (Activision/Terminal Reality, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, 2013)
Fans of AMC's hit show "The Walking Dead," based on Robert Kirkman's graphic novel, already have a fun interactive adventure from Telltale Games.
While that episodic horror game is based on the source material, developer Terminal Reality is serving up a prequel to the TV series starring popular characters Daryl and Merle Dixon.
Players will contend with "walkers" (zombies) as they make their way to the supposed safety of Atlanta after an outbreak has left the country overrun with the living dead. The first-person action game features Daryl's crossbow as well as an assortment of other weapons that players can scavenge as they contend with obstacles living and dead in a brand new adventure.
The Emmy-winning series has been able to blend horror with drama, but this game will allow fans to experience this rich universe with an action and horror focus. These walkers are fast and can hunt down players in hordes, which makes for an interesting new game experience for the growing number of fans. Activision unleashes the dead in 2013.