We came. We played. We died—a lot.
The annual E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) brought big game companies to Hollywood this week, and they brought Usher...and the future of gaming. Microsoft introduced Xbox SmartGlass, allowing users to connect their mobile devices to enhance their games and videos. Nintendo brought some more info on their powerful new console, the Wii U.
And a bunch of people brought zombies.
Set everywhere from Hogwarts to Facebook, here are the 10 new (and future) games that truly blew us away:
10. Sim City Social
The ever popular city-building simulator comes to Facebook. More of a social version of the series, as mayor, players will deal with just how their own city develops, watching out for fires, crime, and pollution. Visit friends' towns to foster good relations or bitter rivals. Hopefully, your own citizens will be "liking" you.
9. South Park: The Stick of Truth
Matt Stone and Trey Parker worked closely with developer Obsidian to make a game that looks just like an episode of the long-running animated series. (The creators also wrote all the dialogue and supplied the voices.) You're the new kid in town joining Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Butters for a turn-based Lord of the Rings-style adventure. Seriously. All your weapons are household supplies and the Pool of Vision in the backyard is um, icky. All in all, pretty sweet.
The most compelling Wii U title was a remarkably mature offering from Ubisoft. Using the WiiPad, you can check your inventory, equip weapons, and zoom in faraway creatures with a scope. When you die, which will be a lot, you come back as a zombie. Then you come back as another person. So you can off your undead self.
7. Star Trek
Taking place right after the events of the J.J. Abrams movie, this game let's you crack wise as Captain Kirk and lets a buddy do Vulcan mind-melds as First Science Officer Spock. Both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto did the voice work too. Checking your Tricorder rules. Ditto taking down original series baddies the lizardy Gorn! Oh, and boldly going where no Trek has gone before: 3-D.
6. The Unfinished Swan
A young boy's mother dies leaving a vast collection of unfinished paintings. One day, the swan in her favorite work of art disappears. With a blank screen and a paintbrush the boy will need to refill the canvas creating a fully 3-D rendered world. Beautifully stark back and white, easy to pick up, and ambitious in design this was the standout indie game of the show.
5. Tomb Raider
The Lara Croft reboot is looking even better than when it debuted at last year's E3. The high action thrills we saw included a brutal parachute drop that became more dire when her chute failed to open. That she sounds like a British version of a Gossip Girl is even better. You know you love her. Sadly, her adventure is delayed until 2013.
4. Halo 4
What we knew: Master Chief would return. The gameplay would still be just as smooth and addictive. What we didn't know: A tropical environment? Hand-to-hand combat? What we know now: November 6, 2012 is too long to wait.
3. Beyond: Two Souls
French developer Quantum Dream makes videogames that feel like interactive movies. Academy Award nominee Ellen Page (Inception) plays Jodie, a young woman who's grown up with invisible friend (ghost?) Aiden. Page did everything from the voice work to motion capture delivering an actual performance. Not much is known about the story but the cinematic feel makes this a must play for 2013.
2. Book of Spells
The PlayStation Move finally gets a killer app. A blank open book (named Wonder Book) that with the Move peripherals turns magical. Onscreen, wizards will see their spells take form. J.K. Rowling approved the use of nearly all of the spells we learned from Hogwarts so we can expelliarmus! all those that dare to take the remote controls from us.
1. The Last of Us
Set in a post-apocalyptic America where nature has begun the take back. Lush greens overrun bombed out skyscrapers. A father figure named Joel and his surrogate daughter Ellie travel from Philadelphia to the West Coast. Baddies are along the way, of course, but these aren't shootouts as much as confrontations where every bullet counts. The click of a pistol out of bullets is really bad. The environments are simply some of the best a videogame has ever displayed. The two leads feel like real people with humor, joy, and desperation.
So! What will you be playing?