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E3: Can a non-gamer have fun at E3? Sure!

I’m not a gamer — I have never owned a game console and the closest I’ve come to “winning” a game is a decent Joan Jett impression on Rock Band. But I went to E3 to find out — can a non-gamer still have fun amongst a sea of hardcore fans? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

The idea of watching someone play a videogame used to be absurd — remember the days of waiting forever for your little brother to finish his turn at Duck Hunt so you could finally grab the gun? (Maybe that’s just me)? But today, games are becoming interactive movies; there are storylines and action scenes and some of them are just as fun to watch as they are to play. And then there are all the interactive games that have you dancing like no one’s watching, even in a room of hundreds of people who must be judging your milkshake skills from behind their Buddy Holly glasses.

So, never fear. Grab the controller — or a seat on the couch next to your favorite resident gamer — and check out a few of the new titles that I (honestly) would play (or watch) again. READ FULL STORY

E3 Snap Judgment: More serious 'Tomb Raider' hits its target

tombraider

The Game: This is an origin-story reboot for the adventure-seeking archaeologist Lara Croft. Fresh out of college, our 21-year-old heroine boards a ship called the Endurance to “make her mark” in the world. But the ship is destroyed in a storm, stranding Lara and her colleagues on a tropical island near Japan. And like any good tropical island in a videogame, this one contains a pack of deadly mercenaries. Lara must quickly learn how to survive in this environment, even if that means resorting to killing other humans. (Available March 5, 2013, for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC)

What We Played: My single-player demo started about 45 minutes into the game. Lara has escaped the cave we saw from last year’s E3, and now finds herself in a mysterious forest. First, she must find food. I grabbed a bow and arrow from a corpse hanging from a tree, and did my best Katniss impression while shooting a deer. Later in the demo, my foot got caught in a bear trap as hungry wolves approached. Still armed with the bow, I watched the surrounding bushes for any signs of movement, and sure enough three wolves attacked me — one by one. Each was killed via a quick arrow to the head. READ FULL STORY

E3 Snap Judgment: 'Nintendo Land' is a mixed bag for the Wii U

Nintendo-Land

The Game: A launch title for the Nintendo Wii U, this is a party game featuring a dozen minigames, with each one representing a different Nintendo franchise. As Wii Sports did for the Nintendo Wii’s motion controller, Nintendo Land is intended to show off the capabilities of the touch-screen Wii U Gamepad. Or as Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime put it: “Play it, and you begin to understand.” (Available when the Wii U ships in late 2012.)

What We Played: Of the 12 minigames included in Nintendo Land‘s “virtual theme park,” we were able to try out five: The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, Donkey Kong’s Crash Course, and Takamaru’s Ninja Castle. READ FULL STORY

E3 Snap Judgment: 'Dishonored' is a retro-futuristic action game you must check out

dishonored

The Game: In this genre-mixing first-person action-stealth game, you play Corvo, a bodyguard-turned-assassin who’s seeking revenge after he was framed for murdering the city’s empress. The city in question is called Dunwall, a steampunk metropolis that draws inspiration from 17th-century London but also contains such futuristic elements as policemen patrolling the area on two-story-tall robotic stilts (pictured above). In addition to being highly trained with weapons, Corvo has 10 supernatural powers that were bestowed upon him by a half-god, half-devil figure known as the Outsider. These powers include the ability to “blink” — or quickly teleport — to nearby areas, the ability to take possession of people and animals, and the ability to slow time down. (Available Oct. 9 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.) READ FULL STORY

Which shows are 'exploding' in social media? Do you 'explode' onto social media while you watch TV?

I hope you’re not hurting yourself! A new study (DON’T FALL ASLEEP) suggests that social activity surrounding broadcast prime-time this April topped its level a year earlier by 194 percent. That means a whole lotta people were heading over to The Voice‘s “Sprint Lounge with Christina Milian” instead of heading over to the fridge for a snack.

You can read more about the numbers here, but I’m interested in reactions from those of you who never use social media at all. READ FULL STORY

'The Drive-In': Get the story about Google's latest doodle

From imagination to reality — that’s Google doodler (actual official title!) Mike Dutton’s job.

Dutton has helped create those doodles you see on Google’s home screen — like one honoring Charlie Chaplin to more elaborate moving pictures such as a doodle to honor John Lennon’s 70th birthday.

Today, a new Google doodle premieres honoring the 79th anniversary of the drive-in movie theater. The first drive-in was in New Jersey, but Dutton drew inspiration from drive-ins all over the country. “[All drive-ins] have that sort of retro look,” Dutton says.

READ FULL STORY

E3 Snap Judgment: 'Far Cry 3'

Far-Cry-3

The Game: A first-person shooter about an ordinary tourist who’s stranded on a tropical island after a local gang of criminals kidnaps his buddies. It’s up to you to find your friends and confront the gang’s alpha male: a mentally unstable chap named Vaas. (Available on Sept. 4 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC)

What We Played: The single-player demo shown at Ubisoft’s press conference, where you infiltrate Vaas’ compound, plus an extended version of the four-player co-op mode revealed at Sony’s media briefing.

The Good: The game’s tropical paradise is gorgeous. At the Ubisoft conference, the demo was played at a breakneck speed, making it difficult to appreciate Far Cry 3‘s attention to detail. For instance, when our hero, Jason, is swimming underwater at the start of the demo, you can look all around you and notice the variety of fish, the marine vegetation, and a crashed airplane resting on the ocean floor. READ FULL STORY

E3 Snap Judgment: 'PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale'

Battle-Royal

The Game: Simply put, it’s Super Smash Bros. with Sony characters. Okay, there are some twists, such as the fact that each level mixes material from at least two dissimilar franchises. But really, this is an excuse to invite some friends over and then beat the crap out of each other — the very foundation of college dorm life. (Available this holiday season for PS3 and PS Vita)

What We Played: At a recent pre-E3 event, we extensively tried out the main four-player battle mode with the six initially announced characters — Kratos (God of War), Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal), Sly Cooper, Mael Radec (Killzone 2), Fat Princess, and PaRappa the Rapper. (Sony announced Monday that Nathan Drake and Big Daddy will also be a part of the game.) We played four different maps: Metropolis (from Ratchet & Clank), Sandover Village (from Jak and Daxter), Dreamscape (from LittleBigPlanet), and Hades (from God of War).

The Good: The fundamental appeal of the Super Smash Bros. series — fast-paced fighting mayhem with your friends — remains intact here. Many of the characters’ Level 3 special powers, like PaRappa’s “death by rap song” execution move or Fat Princess’ Super Fat Chicken, are hilarious. And the levels themselves are cleverly designed. For instance, there’s a LittleBigPlanet map that, halfway through the match, will be interrupted by a Buzz! trivia question. You must navigate your character over to the correct multiple-choice answer and then defend your turf before the timer runs out. READ FULL STORY

E3: Sony puts gamers first with 'The Last of Us,' 'Beyond,' and 'God of War: Ascension,' plus a new 'Harry Potter' project from J.K. Rowling

Whereas Microsoft seemed most concerned with highlighting the Xbox 360′s role as your living-room media thingamajig, Sony emphasized its games (and the PlayStation 3′s exclusive titles) more than anything else at its E3 press briefing Monday night. This resulted in one stunning game demo after another and theoretically positioned the PS3 as the true hardcore gamer’s system, even though the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii both enjoy a significantly larger user base.

We witnessed such PS3 exclusives as Quantic Dream’s intriguing new thriller Beyond, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the PS Vita, God of War: Ascension, and The Last of Us (pictured above). And, oh yeah, a new project from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, which showed promise and also stopped the conference dead in its tracks. Here’s what went down at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena: READ FULL STORY

E3 2012 preview: The Wii U, 'Call of Duty' goes to the future, and the return of Master Chief and Lara Croft

The Electronic Entertainment Expo: The videogame industry’s annual celebration of innovative button-mashing, finely pixelated storytelling, and more sequels, threequels, and prequels than a Hollywood studio chief could dare to conceive. This year’s E3 doesn’t officially begin until tomorrow, when conference-goers flood into the two massive showroom floors in the downtown Los Angeles Convention Center and embrace the flashy gaming pavilions and bone-melting sub-woofers. But the festivities kick off in earnest today, with press presentations by hardcore gaming rivals Microsoft and Sony, as well as showcases by major gaming publishers EA and Ubisoft.

So what are the biggest titles and stories grabbing our attention heading into this year’s E3? EW’s Darren Franich, Adam B. Vary, and John Young break it down:  READ FULL STORY

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