Our E3 predictions

Tom Francis at

portal-2

E3 starts next Tuesday, the 15th, and we're going to be all over it. Five of us will be there to tell you everything there is to know about the biggest and most exciting games at the show, pretty much the minute we see it. But why wait for old-fashioned methods like 'seeing things' and 'talking to people' to yield results, when we could make a bunch of informed guesses at what's going to happen ahead of time?

People will change their minds about Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

The demonstration they'll be showing at E3 is the same one I saw at their studios in Montreal, and you can read exactly what happens in it in our blow-by-blow account.  So I know exactly how persuasive it is. The trailer, however exciting, primarily shows off rapid-cut ultra-violence and out-of-context plot nonsense. When you see the game actually played, you realise it's all about stealth, planning, and the back-routes. All the usual Deus Ex options are viable, but each is swift, slick and fun instead of slightly clunky. There are plenty of ways it's not like the original Deus Ex, and it's not likely to be better, but it really is a Deus Ex game. I think and hope people are going to see that.

The PC will be under-represented.

Sad, but true. We always get stiffed at E3, precisely because we're a free, open platform: no-one owns us, so no-one represents us. The giants of PC gaming like Blizzard and id have their own conventions separately, which only really leaves Valve. They have a surprise planned, but I'm betting it's not "We've decided to step up and champion the PC, here's a three hour press conference highlighting the most exciting PC games that are coming out on Steam in the next year or so." Speaking of which:

Valve's surprise won't be a major new game announcement.

Look, this thing got blown out of all proportion. Valve sent out an e-mail to journalists playfully announcing the 'gala cancellation' of their Portal 2 E3 event, instead promising a surprise from Aperture Science. Like anyone who knows them, most of us chuckled at the fun teaser and wondered what Portal stuff they might be planning. Half the games media, on the other hand, missed that the surprise would be from Aperture Science, and believed seemingly every loon who e-mailed in announcing it would be Half-Life 3, Counter-Strike 2 or a new game engine.

I have virtually no idea what it'll be - a new game mode for Portal 2 maybe - but it's not likely to be the company-revolutionising megaton everyone seems to be assuming. As Valve themselves exasperatedly explained in a follow-up press release, it's "PORTAL-2-THEMED-FOR-GOD'S SAKE".

[MPU]XCOM will steal the show.

A lot of ill will towards the 2K Marin and 2K Marin-that's-really-in-Australia folks for making a first-person shooter from our beloved, turn-based strategy heritage. Mostly, by the raw force of statistics, from people who haven't seen the game in action. It's not that it immediately looks or feels like the slow-paced think-em-up, it's just that when you see a game this imaginative, evocative and exciting first-hand, you realise it was profoundly worth making - whatever the series' roots.

Natal will look a bit silly.

Well, it already does. This E3 is Microsoft's chance to show how their motion sensing controller - which Bill Gates says is ultimately headed for the PC too - can actually make games better in some way. So far we haven't seen much evidence of that, and while I'd love to see motion control get interesting, I can't help but be pessimistic about it. It's not about the hardware, I'm sure it can sense a frightening amount of detail. I just think correctly inferring player intent from that data is going to be tough to do in a precise, flexible and fun way. I would love to be wrong.

Natal will look stupid.


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