The Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3) in Los Angeles brought a return of lots of familiar friends this week, and plenty of immersion—with games in 3D and using touch screens.
Nintendo's new Wii U ("we you," get it?) was the biggest news of the show, and seeing Mario in HD with a new touch-screen controller is pretty amazing. But the big N was only showing prototypes, not actual titles.
So here are the 10 coolest games of this year's E3 and when we think you'll be able to get your hands on 'em:
10. Dance Central 2 (360 w/Kinect) With new tracks, killer moves and a full-fledged campaign, there's no reason not to get your groove on with DC2. Updated visuals are eye-candy overload but you'll be too busy looking at all the upcoming moves to notice. The Rock Band era may have waned, but the beat is just kicking in for the dance genre. Due end of 2011.
9. The Adventures of Tintin: The Game (PS3/360/3DS/Wii) Based on the upcoming performance-capture animated film directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson, developer Ubisoft has crafted a game that plays like some strange old-school period piece. The look is incredibly close to the film, further blurring the line between passive and interactive entertainment. You'll guide boy reporter Tintin through a side-scrolling quest that looks even better in 3D. Running up and down the decks of a submarine is endlessly eye-popping. (Due end of 2011)
8. Skyrim (PS3/360) From the makers of the best-selling Fallout 3 comes a return to the fantasy world of The Elder Scrolls, the fifth in the series. Enormous in size and scope, imagine Middle Earth with frozen mountaintops, woolly mammoths and dark, damp caverns. Yes, this sounds incredibly nerdy (and it is!) but an open world filled with a "What can't you do?" philosophy is pretty hard to resist. Especially when that includes slaying a dragon...while it's in the air! (Due 11/11/11)
7. Batman: Arkham City (PS3/360) One of the best recent comic book games gets a sequel. This time The Riddler is acting like Jigsaw from the Saw films, nabbing the citizens of Gotham and placing them in horrendously clever death traps. Can the Caped Crusader save the day? Expect to die. A lot. Returning are the voices from the beloved WB television series Batman: The Animated Series. (No release date)
6. Uncharted: Golden Abyss (PS Vita) The new PlayStation portable has found its killer title. A prequel to the Uncharted series, Nathan Drake's first portable adventure promises to use the new handheld fully. Found an old parchment? Use the touch screen to reveal a clue. Or swipe that screen to make Drake traverse a hillside. Then move the PS Vita to aim and take a picture in the world of the game. All with the fantastic writing of an Uncharted adventure. (No release date)
5. Kinect Star Wars (360 w/Kinect) Last year, Microsoft introduced Kinect with mostly minigame titles (except for the stellar Dance Central). But they hinted at a possible light-saber wielding adventure. Now, your inner Jedi is a reality. The graphics impress, and with the Kinect's personal touch when we make that whooshing sound with our hands—well, that never gets old. Even cooler is coming face-to-face with an army of battle droids and force-pushing them up and down Naboo with simple hand gestures. Those droids had it coming. (No release date)
4. Halo 4 (360) Microsoft only showed a 90 second trailer with no in-game footage and little sense of story. And it doesn't come out until maybe holiday 2012. But it doesn't matter. The Master Chief is returning to Xbox 360 and he and favorite sidekick Cortana look ready to take on the Covenant and some new high-flying interstellar baddies. Halo 4 is being touted by Microsoft as the beginning of a brand new trilogy. (Due 2012-ish)
3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS) Considered one of the best videogames of all time, Nintendo did more than just port the old game to their new portable gaming machine. The 3D is impressive, but what really blew us away was how much better the game looks and feels than the original Nintendo 64 version. Link's signature green garb is richly colored, as is everything in this beautifully rendered world. The gameplay—now with touch controls—is a dream. Best of all, you can return to the land of Hyrule this month. (Due June 19)
2. Bioshock Infinite (PS3/360) The underwater world of Rapture that made the original Bioshock an instant classic is gone. Welcome to a city in the clouds called Columbia, which looks a lot like a forgotten World's Fair. The jaw-dropping vistas you'll traverse via high-flying rails reveal a town populated by citizens who have Bioshock's brand of insanity. For the first time in the series, you play a character who is fully voiced, essential since a young woman is in your care. She's not exactly helpless though. (She's no Little Sister.) She has the ability to alter reality and you'll need to keep that in check. The steampunk vibe feels fresh and new. Simply gorgeous. The best looking-game at the E3. The sky's the limit next year. (Due sometime in 2012)
1. Tomb Raider (PS3/360) A dirtier, grittier, 21-year-old Lara Croft gets her origin on, showing just how she became the polygon adventurer we all know and love. More intense—à la Gears of War—and that's a good thing. The demo we saw has Lara escaping a seriously messed-up cave filled with all sorts of mayhem. And no weapons (at least not yet). Less about the treasures and more about just surviving, Tomb Raider follows Lara's transformation from untested to unstoppable. (Due Fall 2012)