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God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Generally speaking, handheld games are awesome for reasons that are different than why console games are awesome. In the case of Ghost of Sparta (as with Chains of Olympus before it), we've seen a PSP title that looks like it will fully live up to the quality and style of gameplay of its PS3 brethren. Filling a gap in the God of War storyline between the first and second game, Ghost of Sparta will see Kratos hurting, maiming, torturing, and generally killing even more important figures from Greek mythology. A guest appearance from Midas and a first look at Kratos's new spear and shield combo made this the most promising handheld game at this year's show.
The PC-exclusive market has moved toward smaller releases and more independent development, while triple-A development has made its way toward the (generally) more lucrative console market. Firaxis Games is one of very few exceptions left, but the Civilization team's dedication to its craft hasn't suffered as its competition has fallen away. Civ V had an impressive E3 showing, answering doubts about whether Firaxis could pull off the drastic changes to Civ's roots that are such a huge part of Civ V. Games like this remind us why it is still good to be a PC gamer.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Unlike other first-person shooters at the show, Deus Ex: Human Revolution wasn't focused on the shooting itself. While the action looked good, what really excited us about this franchise revival is the focus on exploring, talking to NPCs, uncovering a shadowy conspiracy, and experimenting with all the different possible paths you can use to reach every objective. Sure, you could just shoot through a legion of bad guys if you want. Or you could use your verbal prowess to intimidate a thug, eavesdrop on a conversation that gives you a key piece of information, stealthily navigate some ventilation shafts...basically enough options to make every level an interesting playground.
Dead Space 2
When EA announced Dead Space 2 late last year, a few fans worried that the increased focus on action would dilute the game’s horror quotient. Thankfully Visceral Games put those fears aside by introducing us to a few new ones at this year’s E3. Dead Space 2 isn’t less scary because it has a more action-focused mindset; it just controls better. New weapons, new enemies, and a smoothed-over control system all make Dead Space 2 look like it’s going to deliver a horror thrill ride unlike any game before.
Portal 2 maintains the simple formula set by its predecessor. The player communicates with the environment by shooting a pair of portals. Easy enough. Still, Valve has managed to up the ante by introducing new gameplay mechanics. Physics now transfer through portals, and the addition of tractor beams, aerial faith plates, redirection cubes, and various gels have make for even more ingenious puzzles. Factor in a co-op campaign – where both brains will be needed – and we’re sold.
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