A bunch of games caught my attention as particularly exciting this year. I don't claim that my list below will be particularly unique or uncover any hidden gems that you haven't already heard of, but I'll endeavour to explain a little why I think these games are special from both a player and production point of view.
First off I have to tip my hat to the Assassins Creed team for a truly impressive demo. I had the good fortune of playing through the E3 build myself (one of the perks of working just down the hall from them) and can honestly say that they nailed the free-running, open-world feel. There is an incredible sequence in the demo where you're chasing an NPC through the streets, avoiding the crowd, using the buildings and rooftops to your advantage to take shortcuts, all in the name of catching up to and eliminating him with a satisfyingly dramatic assassination. I played the demo three times and the chase sequence unfolded differently every time. This game deserves the hype and the team deserves all the accolades they're sure to receive!
I've never been the largest Halo fan (although I've purchased, played and won both games) but a lot of attention is being given to one particular aspect of Halo 3 that I'm very excited about. The User-Generated content that is being called 'Halo 3 Game Films' is an idea whose time has come and will revolutionize competitive gaming, meta-game participation and community building in general. One important detail about these films is that they are recorded entirely in-engine and so are only playable by those who have the game as well. This will be important for some of the advanced features (pausing an explosion, rotating around 360 degrees to capture the perfect angle then sending a screenshot to your victim) but will cut out some of the more mass-market appeal of easily uploading one's user-generated videos to YouTube. I'm anxious to see how long it takes for someone (maybe Bungie themselves) to come out with a simple tool that will allow players to feed their video files into an application that outputs a non-interactive video. With that we will see a true explosion of Halo3 content on YouTube.
I'm excited about EA's Skate for many of the same reasons as Halo 3 -- in that Skate is also going to feature a very robust Game Film feature (likely even more so then Halo3) to try and attract the significant culture that revolves around distributing real-life skateboard videos. This talk by Skate producer Jason Balmer doesn't focus on the user-generated content but is an excellent example of how anyone representing a game should act when confronted with a question regarding their competition. Jason is gracious, humble and gives plenty of credit where it is due. I would not at all be surprised to see someone from Activision making it a point to return the favor, giving reciprocal praise to Skate due in no small part to the grace Jason shows here. Oh yah, and Skate looks sh*t hot, too!
I can't pass up Rock Band because I'm pretty sure it will come out of E3 as a front-runner for Game Of Show. I defy you to watch the embedded video without dreaming of all the fantastic parties you'll have while playing Rock Band, your pile of Mario Party games sadly gathering dust in the corner. EA and MTV have lofty ambitions to change the way the world looks at the distribution of and participation with Music entertainment (the way MTV did in the '80s with music videos). It is not yet clear to me how succesfull they'll be in this endevour but I'd bet money that no game will come close to the party appeal. Rock Band is going to help make it cool to play videogames!
I'd really like to know what games coming out of this year's E3 most excite you and why. Are there any titles (*ahem* Bioshock *ahem*) that you're surprised to see not recieving much press? Any 'must-play' titles added to your list because of this year's E3?