A look at the highs and lows of E3 2011

By Nathan Hardisty

Game of the Show - Without a doubt, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I lost six months in Oblivion myself and I’ve been yearning to jump back into that world. I’m in that very small camp of people who think Fallout: New Vegas is vastly, vastly superior to Fallout 3 and the game didn’t follow many of Bethesda’s traditions of player character design. From what I’ve seen, all of the quibbles I had have been put to rest and it’s a full on Elder Scrolls game.

Game of the Show runners up:

PixelJunk Sidescroller - The retro vibe I get from every PixelJunk game is what keeps me coming back for more. Sidescroller is a beautiful experience trapped within Shooter aesthetics and the visually gorgeous mess of the old arcades.

PixelJunk Lifelike - Two PixelJunk games showed up this E3 and both were equally good. Lifelike is an experiment within the halls of music fantasy and not music simulation as we’ve seen with Rock Band and Dance Central. The player controls the music with the PS Move in ways that even I don’t understand, but it looks more like an Eden type experience of experimentation.

BioShock Infinite - There is a Game Critique Corner edition of this coming up this weekend, but I am very, very worried for this title. The player character talks way too much and a hallmark of BioShock was exploring on your own and now they just mouth-off while you're trying to discover and unravel the intrigue. Still, it’s BioShock Infinite.

Rayman Origins - My Game of the Show last year and the full gameplay experience opened up the Ubisoft conference with a weave of 2D platformer action mixed with Tetris in a way I thought went beyond interesting. I am very, very excited to see what this thing offers for old people like me.

Battlefield 3 - The Thunder Run tank demo was tense, atmospheric and full of that vibe I got from Call of Duty 4’s sniper mission. That is a damn good thing.

Best Conference - Nintendo: They showed off a 3DS line-up that felt like it had been a love letter to my heart. Luigi’s Mansion 2, Mario Kart 3DS, Super Mario 3DS and many, many more. I am more than leaning towards the system than with the PS Vita and the Wii U got rid of all my worries about Nintendo going way too gimmicky. The controller is a surefire innovation and I’d really like to know what it feels like to play.

Worst Conference - Microsoft: Kinect, Tomb Raider, Gears of War 3 and other stuff showed up and sort of dissolved into nothing. The much touted "Mass Effect 3 better with Kinect" turned out to be some voice recognition and squad commands, which I’m interested in, but, from further demos, it just looks like a complete waste of time. Kinect is a waste of space as far as I’m concerned and yet it had so much potential.

Worst Name for a Console
- Wii U... Seriously?

Worst Moment - Halo 4. After the "Finish the Fight" marketing storm we got with Halo 3 (which was... okay), it’s just oh-so-obvious Microsoft is milking Master Chief and can’t be bothered with new stories within the same world. They’re also remaking Combat Evolved which is a complete waste of time considering the original still runs fine anyway.

Best Moment - Sony’s apology at the start of their conference was honest and head-on about all of the issues. I have a new found respect for the company and they look really, really "in the corner" right now, and that’s a good thing. I respect them for being open about it.

Biggest Surprise - PS Vita’s price and BioShock: ??? on PS Vita - Same price as 3DS and a BioShock title on the thing? Count me in.

Biggest Disappointment - Valve not turning up to flaunt Half-Life: Episode Three has me worried if they’re either saving it until next year, think they’re too big for the event or are waiting to announce something else. Shame, really, it’s been over 5 years since the last installment and it looks like we’re in for another Duke Nukem Forever. Hopefully not a literal Duke Nukem Forever given the game’s quality.

All in all, a great E3. Not the best and not as strong as last year or the year before, but we’ve seen worse from everybody. Except Microsoft, theirs was simply dire.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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