Cool stuff for your eyes, E3 edition

On Monday I followed a lot of the E3 coverage through Twitter, and by the end of the day I was convinced that everyone in LA got up on the wrong side of the bed. The coverage was overwhelmingly negative. My Twitter stream was clogged with snarky responses and jibes by cynical games journalists. Lighten up people, this is a conference about video games! Video. Games.

This year I’m not going to grade the E3 press conferences. Two reasons for that:
-I’m not watching them in their entirety because I am working
-I don’t feel like critically assessing press conferences, I just care about the games

I stopped paying attention to blogs and Twitter for E3 after the first day. I’m so tired of people getting all nitpicky and complaining about the dumbest things. Oh I’m sorry, are the virtual worlds created by hundreds of artists and programmers not amazing enough for you? I’m starting to think the game industry needs to watch this.

So instead of pointing out the stuff that didn’t wow me, I’m going to concentrate on the stuff that did. Here are some things you might want to check out. (FYI-Some of these videos contain strong language, and most involve shooting and/or stabbing dudes)

FarCry 3
This seven minute trailer is captivating from beginning to end. I don’t know who that crazy man is in the beginning but I like him, a lot. He’s wonderfully animated and the voice actor does a fine job of walking the line between dangerous scary and crazy scary. The whole thing flies by in a handful of tense, atmospheric minutes. FarCry 2 had some fatal flaws (bad voice acting and animation among them) and this trailer looks like it’s addressing those issues. I didn’t even know this game was being made and now it’s on my must play list.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations
This trailer is absolutely stunning. No it doesn’t show any gameplay, but it sets an amazing tone for the final game in Ezio’s trilogy. The somber music, gray visuals and realistic animation all blend together to create a superb trailer. After you watch it, go back and check out trailers for Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. It’s interesting to see how the tone of each game has shifted with Ezio’s age. Very cool.

Mass Effect 3
The wow factor in this one won’t be readily apparent to those that didn’t spend as much time with Mass Effect 2 as I did (around 50 hours). Look closely at the combat. It’s got a faster, more visceral feel. Also, grenades! Go on any video game message board and you’ll find the “what if” thread that asks something like “what pieces of games would you combine to make the ultimate game?” Bioware is doing that in Mass Effect 3. Amazing shooter gameplay, thoughtful RPG elements, and an epic quest set in a world full of interesting characters, what’s not to love?

Tomb Raider
I’ll get negative for one second and say that I never liked Lara Croft. I’ve liked many of the Tomb Raider games, but I’ve never cared for Croft. The whole “I raid tombs and seek ancient treasures because I’m a bored rich girl” thing didn’t make for a relatable, compelling character. This video paints her in a new light. Younger, fresher, tough. This is a Lara I can care about, one I want to see succeed.

Skyrim
I saw in an interview that you could easily squeeze 300 hours of play time out of Skyrim. That’s insane, and really awesome. Oblivion is the longest game I’ve ever played that I never finished. I must have sunk nearly 60 hours into it without completing the main quest. There was just so much to do! Skyrim looks bigger and better in just about every way. This and Uncharted 3 are my must play games this fall.

Uncharted 3
I don’t need to say anything about this game. If you played Uncharted 2 (and if you haven’t, shame on you; it’s a game worth buying a PS3 for), then you know how much fun this game is going to be. The Sony press conference opened with this incredible play through of a level on a sinking ship. The water tech, the sense of urgency, it’s exciting stuff—just what you’d expect from that masters at Naughty Dog.

Kinect Stuff
I don’t use my Kinect a lot, but I like having it. It’s a really cool piece of technology and I’m happy to see that Microsoft is really getting behind it. They’ve embraced the Kinect hacking community and put some of their creations on center stage. I also love that voice recognition stuff is making its way into more games. I love that feature while watching Netflix. Need to get up to get more popcorn? Just say “Xbox, Pause” and it pauses. It’s like the future.

Xbox Dashboard Redesign
I really dig the UI Microsoft came up with for Windows Phone 7 and it’s great to see them spread the love to Xbox (and Windows 8).

PS Vita
This handheld device appeals to the gadget lover in me. It’s got a five inch touch screen, two analog sticks, a touch pad on the back, front and rear facing cameras, and it’s wi-fi/3G capable. Oh and it’s got some really cool looking games on it. I’d pick one up for the Uncharted game alone. The price is also much better than I expected. Sony tends to overprice new hardware, but at $250 for the wi-fi model, I think this is right on track.

Wii U
This thing is bananas in the best way. With a crazy tablet controller thing that will let you play games wirelessly on its small screen, the Wii U is the unlikely successor to the unlikely video gaming champ, the Wii. It’s still a long way from being on store shelves (more than a year), but the possibilities are interesting. The Wii really stirred things up and brought video games to new audiences. From what I can tell they aren’t really showing any games for this new hardware yet, but I’m definitely intrigued.