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Best of E3 2006 Awards

Well, another year of E3 has come and gone and not only is our entire staff exhausted from three hazy crazy days of gaming and interviewing, we are exhausted from hashing out our "Best of E3" list. This almost led to the entire staff of CVG being destroyed in a very bloody scene. We were able to narrow it down to an Editor's Choice for Game of the Show, a Game of the Show, and other great games in separate categories, along with many honorable mentions. After only three and a half hours of arguing, we bring to you, our fellow gamers, the Best of E3.

Best of E3 - Game of the Show, Editor's Choice
Editor's Choice is a new category to E3 '06. It may be the only year that this category appears, but the games that the staff selected as 1 and 2 overall were so close that we had to honor both. Kaleb selected this game as his Game of the Show, and it was a close second on the overall list. The Editor's Choice for Game of the Show E3 '06 is...

Mass Effect, Xbox 360
The choice of Mass Effect as the Editor's Choice for Best Game of E3 2006 was not one I had expected to make. During the beginning part of the week, Gears of War was by far the best game I saw at E3. However, when I got my hands on Super Mario Galaxy, I scratched my head and started thinking about giving the award to that game. However, during the last day of E3, I was shown 30 minute demo sessions of both Bioshock and Mass Effect. Both of these games are very good. However, Bioware is really working on something special with Mass Effect. The game takes their style of RPG's to the next level by delivering unbelievable graphics, incredibly deep gameplay, and an engrossing story. While the game could slip to 2007, Mass Effect should be an A+ no matter when it ships. I highly encourage all Xbox 360 owners to keep their eyes on this title.

Best of E3 2006 - Game of the Show
In the vote with the entire E3 staff of CVG, a different game appeared as the top selection. The Game of the Show E3 '06 is...

Bioshock, Xbox 360
Bioshock was by far the most visually stunning game that was anywhere at the show. Shown behind closed doors at the 2K booth, developer Irrational Games has put together an amazing thinking man's RPG that is both creepy, scary, and completely invigorating. To say that it is beautiful is nothing short of an egregious understatement, and the story line of the game will trap you from the first second you step into this underwater utopia where mankind has devolved into a DNA digesting maniacal society. Be ready to decide how far you are willing to go to survive.

Best of E3 2006 - Sony
Sony had an incredible E3. From the announcements made at the press conference about the PS3 to the very final moments of the show when people were still cramming into their booths to get their hands on playable demos, Sony has given us all reason to purchase a high-yield CD that will expire in November. The Best of E3 2006 - Sony list is...

1. Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom, PS3
From Sony Online Entertainment, this PS3 title is a strong RPG that has improved dramatically from the released screenshots and demos. SOE is making bold moves that should result in a solid title that will hopefully launch with the PS3.

2. Heavenly Sword, PS3
If you got your hands on any Sony game at this year's E3, this was the one to wait to play. The visuals related to the main character are so strong, you might want to ask her on a date. The combat system that was shown in the demo is strong and the game feels more like a movie. We cant wait to see more of the story element of this great title from developer Ninja Theory.

3. God of War II, PS2
SCEA has upped the ante with GoW2, releasing one of the best looking PS2 titles that has ever been shown. The team has found a way to get double the polygons and substantially improve the graphics from the look of the first game. It looks to be one of the last great first party pushes for the PS2.

4. Guitar Hero 2, PS2
Guitar Hero is back and better than ever. With new gameplay modes, more music, and more fun, Guitar Hero 2 should be on your "to buy" list when it is released later this year.

5. Resistance: Fall of Man, PS3
Insomniac Games completely impressed us with their showing of Resistance. The semi-historical FPS has great visual detail, as well as innovative gameplay that will allow players to truly feel that they are in the environment.

Honorable Mentions: Sony (in no particular order)
- Genji 2
- Okami
- FFXII: Dirge of Cerberus
- Disgaea 2
- Final Fantasy XII

Best of E3 2006 - Nintendo
Nintendo was the talk of the show with their new Nintendo Wii console being shown behind a closed section of their booth. While those attending E3 could get their hands on the Wii, it took waiting in line for 4+ hours during most of E3. Those that were dedicated enough, and had the time, were treated to some great new gameplay experiences. The Best of E3 2006 - Nintendo list is...

1. Super Mario Galaxy, Wii
This was the game that made us realize that the Wii concept was a success. A few of our staff members described having the same feelings about Mario Galaxy as they did when they first laid hands on Super Mario 64. It was the game at E3 that brought out the feeling of wonder and put a smile on our faces.

2. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Wii
Here, Nintendo showed E3 attendees how Wii can enhance shooters and introduce unique gameplay elements. Many show goers were impressed by the grapple beam functions controlled by the accelerometer in the nunchuck attachment. Besides that, Metroid is simply one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises, and the demo shown more than satisfied Metroid fans in attendance.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii
While it wasn’t exactly a surprise that the Wii would have its own version of Twilight Princess, the extent to which the game uses the Wii remote had fans talking. In particular, Twilight Princess was used to show off the speaker built into the Wii remote, enhancing player immersion.

4. Wario Ware, Wii
The frenetic gaming we all loved translated exceptionally onto the Wii. It will be fantastic when it debuts, hopefully with the release of the Wii.

5. Red Steel, Wii
This is Nintendo's answer to the third party question. It certainly wasn’t the only third party game playable on Wii, but it was the one that everyone wanted to play. Red Steel makes innovative use of the Wii remote for swordplay, gunplay and other actions as well. No one can say that the Wii is only suitable for simple, casual games.

Honorable Mentions: Nintendo (in no particular order)
- Wii Sports
- Madden '07
- Trauma Center: Second Opinion

Best of E3 2006 - Microsoft
Much of our Best of Show coverage came from the Microsoft entries for our review. Microsoft did an incredible job of showing what their system is capable of and what it will be doing in the future. The Best of E3 2006 - Microsoft list is...

1. Bioshock, Xbox 360
There shouldn’t have been any doubt that this would be our number one Microsoft game. Wow, wow, wow.

2. Mass Effect, Xbox 360
It really should have been 1a. I reiterate, wow, wow, wow.

3. Gears of War, Xbox 360
A strong contender for game of the show, Cliffy B’s gritty, Xbox 360 shoot ‘em up has all the makings of a great game and visuals that’ll leave you breathless. Epic has made great strides from last year with this title and it should really be 1b. A really tough choice between these three for not only the Microsoft list, but for Game of the Show.

4. Lost Planet, Xbox 360
Capcom’s 3rd person shooter features beautiful visuals, a Halo-esque control scheme and gigantic mech suits that make you feel nearly invincible. A solid experience all around.

5. Ninety-Nine Nights (N3), Xbox 360
In a up-close viewing of N3, the characters and storyline truly came alive. the development team at Phantasm brought out some of the best that the 360 will have to offer when it releases.

Honorable Mentions: Microsoft (in no particular order)
- Too Human
- Dead Rising
- Rainbow Six: Las Vegas
- Crackdown
- The Darkness

Best of E3 2006 - Handheld
Last years' E3 show was best known as the handheld wars with both the PSP and Nintendo DS taking center stage. This year there was definitely no shortage of great titles for gaming on the go. While Mobile phone gaming didn't make our Top 5 list, these games have improved dramatically in the past 12 months and gets an Honorable Mention. The Best of E3 2006 - Handheld list is...

1. Rachet & Clank, PSP
With a return to classic R&C gameplay, High Impact Studios has made a game that we all cant wait to get our hands on. In a perfect move to the PSP, R&C is one of our facorite platformers to date.

2. New Super Mario Bros, DS
We love love love this return to childhood with a game that translates incredibly well to the DS. The gameplay is almost perfect, returning to its 2-d sidescrolling roots with a few upgrades to keep it fresh. Look for this one very soon.

3. Loco Roco, PSP
One of the most original titles that has come out in a while, RL is a really fun looking game with one of the most innovative concepts that we have ever heard of. Handheld gaming has never been so loco... or roco.

4. Dead Head Fred, PSP
Again with the original gaming, PSP! This strong title looks like a winner from developer Viscious Cycle will be released in early 2007 and will help us get rid of those "I miss E3" blues.

5. Blade Dancer, PSP
A great looking RPG being released in the US by NIS, Blade Dancer will bring some hard-core Japanese RPG fans back to their PSP’s. One of the few Japanese RPG’s that is being brought over that is not a port. Thank you NIS!

Honorable Mentions: Handheld (in no particular order)
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
- Mobile Phone Gaming
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
- Yoshi's Island 2
- Touch Detective

Best of E3 2006 - PC
This was not the best year for PC games at E3. However, there were still some great games shown for the platform. Microsoft has announced a renewed support for the platform and with their leadership, a ton of great PC games should be available in the coming years. Until then, don't miss out on these titles. The Best of E3 2006 - PC list is...

1. Quake Wars
Taking the Quake franchise to an exclusive team-based shooter, Activision is readying to publish this PC title by years end. Be prepared to work with your team members or you will quickly find yourself on the losing side of the action. With a little patience and a good teamwork, Quake Wars will change the way you feel about the franchise.

2. Crysis
The beautiful new shooter was shown at the Microsoft Press Conference and is headed to a computer near you. Although Crysis was made by the Far Cry team, expect many new and differences in the two franchise.

3. Jade Empire
The RPG that took Bioware in a “new direction” is finally coming to the PC. While we all wondered if it would ever appear on a console, it is here with new content and ready to show players how the consoles play RPG’s.

4. Hellgate
This hot looking RPG appeared at E3 last year and it surprised us all. This year we couldn’t believe how much progress they have made with the title. This Action/RPG doesn’t currently have a firm release date other than “when it is finished.” Hopefully when it does finally ship, it will wow and amaze us just like this year’s demo did.

5. Gametap
Our PC list could not be complete without mention of the unique and original service known as Gametap. Not only can you play games, users can also watch a variety of game-based video content from Space Ghost, original gaming poetry, and parody of classic games. At only $9.95 a month and a free trial month available .

Best of E3 2006 - SWAG!
There was an abundance of branded goodies being given away at this year's E3. Whether it was really cool, rare, or just really prevalent, we had it covered. Here are the top 5 for Best of E3: SWAG (Stuff We All Get)...

1. Namco Pac-Man Eggs
Way fun to earn, way fun to trade, and way fun to collect. It was simple. Play a Namco Mobile game at their booth, get a Pac-Man token. Put it in the machine, get an egg with a happy Pac-Man toy inside! About 10 different varieties. And yes, one of our staffers got all of them.

2. Mountain Dew Gear
Not only did you get a soda out of the deal, just for peeling the label, you could get one of some very nice swag. Do the Dew!

3. DS Lite Case
Just for doing something that you would want to do anyway (playing New Mario Bros.) you got a killer case from Nintendo. Now I just have to get a Lite to go in it.

4. Harvest Moon Sheep
Cute and cuddly, warm and loveable. The tiny sheep is ready for any kids (or grown up kids) bed time stories.

5. Big Pink Bag
If any of you were at E3, you need no explanation. By giving out a bag about the size of a bus and pinker than a bottle of Pepto, the Power of Korean Game booth became a veritable swarm of busy little pink bees looking for great swag to fill it with.

Best of E3 2006 - Time Waster
After going to E3 for many years in a row, you quickly realize how fast an hour can go. These activities were part of the reason that the time flew. The Best of E3 2006 - Time Waster list is...

1. Wii Waiting
Just waiting in line for the Wii could take up to five hours. But from anyone who got their hands on it, they didnt regret a minute. Plus, the bonus is that you were in the Nintendo booth, so there was plenty of Mario Kart DS wi-fi action.

2. Bag Check
Waiting to get into the convention center to sample some of the sweet sweet polygonal love became an incredible irritant as event organizers thought that four bag checkers were enough.

3. Gametap Trivia Contest
Know your classic games? Well, someone did and they won an Alienware PC just for taking a simple quiz painted on the wall of the booth. A great way to get traffic through the booth and to kill a few minutes while your friends are in the bathroom (which was right next door.)

4. Natsume Casino
Great prizes for hitting it big in a casino based on the soon to be released Harvest Moon DS.

5. BradyGames Video Game Pianist
Three times a day for about an hour at a time, video game pianist Martin Leung would come out and play his best to entertain those who could hear amongst the other ambient noise.

Best of E3 2006 - Booth
E3 is the home of many, many booths that showcase products from companies all over the world. However, very few booths stood out to be called the Best of E3. The Best of E3 2006 - Booth list is...

1. GameTap
GameTap’s booth didn’t have the latest games, a PS3, or a Wii, but it always had something fun going on. To start with, any booth visitor was invited to try out full access to GameTap’s library of retro to recent games. Attendees were challenged to identify twenty-five screenshots printed on a large fabric wall near the back of the booth. Not only could you score some cool swag this way, but it allowed you to enter a drawing for some awesome prizes. A large stage occupied the center of the booth and entertaining events were held frequently. Space Ghost made several appearances (in live voiced, animated form), assisting the host with contests and interviewing industry big wigs such as Peter Moore. Space Ghost’s appearances were all hilarious. GameTap held several contests throughout the day that encouraged contestants to act wild for prizes. It always drew a crowd.

2. Namco Mobile
Namco’s mobile gaming division put together an awesome booth with a retro arcade theme. There were classic and new mobile Namco games to play everywhere you turned, and working arcade units for classic gameplay as well. A big Pac-Man tournament was played using the arcade units. Many of the mobile phones were set onto arcade cabinets to complete the atmosphere. Vending machines dispensing a variety of little Pac-Man toys were extremely popular and kept people constantly returning to the booth to play more Namco Mobile games.

3. N-Gage
The N-Gage booth had a very cool vibe about it. It was set up like a club lounge, with plush couches available to tend your E3 weariness while you tried out the latest N-Gage games on a variety of different phones. A DJ spun tunes that set a good mood without being too loud like the music at other booths. Images were projected on walls of falling fog, creating one of the most interesting promotional displays at any booth. Of course, N-Gage’s prize redemption counter for an SMS text game they were running was also pretty popular.

4. Red Octane
Red Octane’s booth had just one product to show: Guitar Hero II. The first game released less than a year ago was so popular among gamers that the sequel alone was enough to drive plenty of attendees to Red Octane’s booth down in Kentia hall. There were always people waiting to get their hands on an SG (guitar) Controller to try out Guitar Hero II’s new co-op mode. Each day of the convention, Red Octane presented one of the indie bands who provided some of the most popular songs for the original game. Drist, Graveyard BBQ, and Shaimus attracted even more people to Red Octane’s booth which featured a full concert stage as each band played a live mini-concert.

Microsoft’s booth stood out because of how easy they made it to comfortably see and play their demos. Attendees were able to play most of the 360 demos sitting in comfortable chairs with their own private HD display. If you haven’t been to E3, you have no idea how nice it is to be able to sit down while playing a demo. A second, separate display hung above the player facing away which allowed several observers to watch without have to look over the player’s shoulder. Something about the way Microsoft’s booth was designed prevented the booth from getting too crowded and wait times were much better than other large booths. A special wall allowed attendees to view the newly announced 360 accessories as well as some custom faceplates provided by various artists. Live Arcade games were showcased in their own separate area, several of them seemingly complete. One of the most popular areas of Microsoft’s booth was the Gears of War theater.

Best of E3 2006 - Buzz
Nintendo Wii
There was no debate among our staff about what generated the most buzz at this year’s E3. No matter what booth you were at, no matter how far away you were from Nintendo, there was a good chance you would hear people talking about Nintendo Wii. Everyone wanted to find out what it was like, share how they felt after playing it, and talk about how specific games used the controller because it’s so different from what we’re all used to playing. Nearly all of the buzz seemed positive or optimistic as well. Though the incredibly long line kept many from actually trying it out, if asked about the one thing someone had to see before leaving E3, it seemed that most attendees answered “Wii” as the one thing that everyone had to play. That or they expressed regret for not getting the chance to make it into Nintendo’s perpetually packed Wii booth.

Best Moment of E3 2006
(Emily) My best of E3 moment came on Thursday. It just so happens that Thursday was my 25th birthday and all of the SWAG that I got, I could think of as birthday presents. So, thank you to many, many out there who celebrated with me. Oh yeah, and thanks Sony for one heck of a birthday party :). Best gift that I got? Toss up between the great bag from Sony and my sheep from Natsume.

(Kaleb) While this title may not be my Game of the Show, Super Mario Galaxy is a game that reminded me of why I love videogames. When playing with the new controller, players will have to relearn all of their gaming skills once again. It is using these new controls that makes it such a great experience. As you progress through the E3 demo, players connect to Mario like never before. Shaking both controller pieces, running upside down, and blasting off to different plants makes Super Mario Galaxy my best E3 moment. Like playing with an analog stick on Mario 64 for the first time, Mario Galaxy will remind you of why you love videogames.

(Ryan) For the first time, my personal favorite E3 moment didn’t come from the Tecmo booth. No, this time I would have to say it was seeing the Gears of War demo in Microsoft’s theater. I was blown away by just how amazing this game looks running in real time on the 360 hardware. Seeing this game not walk away with our coveted Best Overall award was a real tough pill for me to swallow.

(Andrew) My favorite moment happened when I first started playing Super Mario Galaxy. There are plenty of awesome new games at E3 every year, and in some sense, it feels sort of routine. So the fact that I would choose playing Mario Galaxy as my favorite moment should give you a clue as to how big of an impression it made on me. It didn’t hurt that it was also the first time that the Wii controller in my hands. While I was a bit nervous about how the Wii would perform, things clicked when I held the remote and nunchuck in my hands and when I started making Mario jump and fly across the planetoids. Suddenly, I “got” the Wii. I felt a sense of wonder and amazement that I haven’t felt in years about a video game or anything else for that matter. It sounds corny, but it just made me happy.

By Emily Rutherford - 05/13/06

Screenshots for Best of E3 2006 Awards

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