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The most exciting games at E3 2013...and everything that might be wrong with them

This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) marked an exciting moment for the videogame industry. New consoles. New blockbuster titles. Long-awaited sequels. What follows is a list of the 15 most exciting games I saw this year. I got hands-on time with most of them, but it’s important to remember that playing videogames at E3 is not the same as actually playing the videogames. At E3, you’re staring at the most expensive TV screens corporate money can buy, while various company reps urge you on and assure you that you’re much better at the game than all of the other journalists they’ve seen that day. (One developer assured me I was doing great after I died for the fifth time in two minutes.) With that in mind, each of these games comes with an addendum: What could go wrong between now and when the game is actually released?

15. Killzone: Shadow Fall
The franchise about futuristic space dudes with futuristic space guns gets a next-gen makeover. I’ve never been a Killzone fan. In fact, I couldn’t pick out the first three games from a lineup of futuristic-space-gun shooters. But the level I played through offered a fascinating array of possible tactical decisions. Also, this was The Year of the Ziplines at E3, and Shadow Fall lets you fire a zipline anywhere you want. (Playstation 4, End of 2013)
What Could Go Wrong: The title Killzone: Shadow Fall sounds like a straightfaced parody of a contemporary futuristic-space-gun videogame, and what little I could glean of the plot sounded like boilerplate from the post-Gears of War era.

14. Mariokart 8
After many months of hype and rumors, Nintendo’s biggest franchises were mostly no-shows at this year’s E3 — unless you consider an HD remake of an old Zelda game a new development (it isn’t) or you think Super Mario 3D Land is even close to Super Mario Galaxy (it ain’t.) But the new Mariokart offers some intriguing twists on the two-decade-old formula, with the ability to drive on walls. Also, the levels are so pretty in HD. (Wii U, Spring 2014).
What Could Go Wrong: It’s the same old Mariokart, except this time it’s on a console you still don’t feel like buying.
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E3: Which new console are you most excited about? -- POLL

e3-xbox-one-ps4.jpg

While in years past, it’s been new games and high-drama cinematic effects we were most excited about in the videogame world, as this year’s E3 comes to a close, it’s the prospect of new consoles and new technology that we’re most looking forward to. How will the way we play games change in the coming months and years? What does the future look like for Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U, Sony’s Playstation, and Microsoft’s XBox – not to mention indie platforms and newcomers like the Ouya?

While the Wii U’s had a hard time catching on (in part, as EW’s Darren Franich reports, due to the lackluster games it was launched with), Nintendo returned to E3 this year with a new outlook on its offerings. Sony and Microsoft, however, stole the show with big upcoming releases. Sony’s PlayStation 4 will sell for $399 and offers advancements for hardcore games, including a streaming service that allows gamers to stream, rather than download, older games. Microsoft’s XBox One ($499), which was announced before E3, made its splash by showcasing new games. Both new consoles will be released around Holiday 2013. And then a little independent, $99 Kickstarter-funded box called the Ouya (on sale later this month), which streams independent games to its own console, staged a non-E3 event that got them in some trouble with the LAPD — but earned them plenty of buzz in the gaming world. Where will you put your money once the upcoming new iterations are released?

Take the poll below and discuss the new advances in videogame tech in the comments!

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The Nintendo Wii U: A review

The best and worst thing about the Wii U is that you can’t quite figure out just what, precisely, Nintendo’s new console is trying to accomplish. The Wii had a clear-cut gimmick that became a revolution: Motion sensors and Wii Sports contributed to 97 million units shipped. Off-brand pretenders like the Kinect (a legitimate step forward by Microsoft) and the Move (an embarrassing step sideways by Sony) appeared just in time for motion gaming to look passé.

The Wii U is very different. It’s central innovation — the idea that your controller can also be a console unto itself — feels like an attempt to crossbreed two very different strains of videogame culture: The TV-based console games industry (which is ailing) and the smartphone/tablet/handheld-based mobile games industry (which is booming). New Super Mario Bros. U is a game that works equally well on your big HD TV screen or on your GamePad’s touchscreen. That is an impressive achievement, which would be even more impressive if the size of the screen could make New Super Mario Bros. U anything more than helplessly mediocre. READ FULL STORY

'Super Mario,' 'Batman,' 'Nintendo Land': Reviews of new Wii U games!

We spent the weekend with Nintendo’s latest entry into the videogame platform market, the Wii U. Featuring the innovative GamePad — part controller, part tablet — the new system was released Sunday, along with a slew of new games and Wii versions of existing games to go along with it. Below, we review some of the latest Wii U game entries: New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo Land, and Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition. READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: New Rihanna, new Wii U, and new movies -- just in time for the holidays

It’s a short work week, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on entertainment to keep you busy over the long holiday weekend! The week starts off with the AMAs on Sunday and keeps rolling with a videogame platform release, a slew of new movies to keep you and your family occupied, and of course the annual Macy’s parade. Now let’s talk turkey, happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday
American Music Awards, 8 p.m. ABC

The American Music Awards air live on ABC Sunday night and feature a bunch of sure to be hit performances, including Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Dick Clark and a Gangnam Style rendition from South Korean viral hitmaker Psy. EW will be on the carpet and we’ll fill you in on all the style and showmanship during the night.  READ FULL STORY

'Batman: Arkham City': How does the new 'Armored Edition' look on the new Wii U? -- EXCLUSIVE TRAILER

Batman: Arkham CityEW’s top game of 2012 — is back, but this time the Dark Knight’s delivering his bone-crunching brand of vigilante justice on Nintendo’s new Wii U console (out Nov. 18). More than a prettied-up port, the re-branded Armored Edition is utilizing the hardware’s tablet-like GamePad in hopes of putting players under the cowl like never before.

In theory, the controller serves as the caped crusader’s wrist-mounted computer, allowing gamers to manage gadgets, view objectives, examine intel, and navigate Gotham’s labyrinthine map without exiting to an immersion-breaking pause menu. Additionally, a number of gameplay actions, such as steering remote-controlled batarangs, can be handled with the peripheral’s various gyroscopic and touch-screen tricks.

As anyone who’s played motion- and touch-sensitive titles will attest, they can be more frustrating than fun. That said, based on my time behind the GamePad — which had me detonating explosive gel with a few intuitive finger swipes — I’m encouraged the experience will make budding Bats feel more like the Dark Knight than a drunken monkey.

Whether or not these bonus bat-toys will be enough to lure back fans who’ve already cleaned up Gotham’s crime-choked streets remains to be seen, but those craving a sneak peek can spy the exclusive launch trailer below:  READ FULL STORY

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