We came, we saw, we played—E3 2012 was no match for the EGM staff, and we got our hands on the latest and greatest game offerings publishers and developers had on display. When the last meeting was over and the final attendee shuffled out of the LA Convention Center doors, however, it came time for some hard decisions: picking the best games of the show. Between the games we knew to expect and the surprises that caught us off guard, there were a lot of good games at this year’s E3. Without further ado, here are our choices for the best of E3.
Game of the Show – The Last of Us
Setting the stage for a big reveal is one thing, but delivering on that promise is an entirely different endeavor. And, as usual, Naughty Dog did nothing to disappoint, demolishing any inkling of potential disappointment with a smashing showing of The Last of Us, combining their noted knack for storytelling with a breathtaking dose of understated action and a surprising amount of player choice in this promising third-person adventure title.
- Beyond: Two Souls
- Tomb Raider
Best PS3 Game – The Last of Us
When it came to PS3 exclusives at E3 2012, one name was on everyone’s lips: The Last of Us. The studio that made Sony’s current-gen system a household name with the Uncharted series is branching off into postapocalyptic adventures, and Naughty Dog’s efforts impressed all who saw the game. So many elements impressed us—whether we’re talking about the stunning visuals, the relationship between protagonists Ellie and Joel, or the dynamic elements that can play out when finding yourself in trouble. Great “end of the world” games can be hard to do—but if we have faith in anyone, it’s Naughty Dog.
- Beyond: Two Souls
- God of War: Ascencion
Best Xbox 360 Game – Halo 4
Taking a big-name franchise away from its creators is usually a recipe for disaster, but Halo 4 put any lingering doubts to rest with its spectacular E3 showing. The surprisingly evolved single-player demo proved that 343 Industries is capable of taking the franchise to new and exciting places, but the real star of the show was Spartan Ops, a dedicated four-player co-op mode that’ll be getting weekly episodic DLC, absolutely free of charge. Bungie who?
- Gears of War: Judgment
- Dance Central 3
Best Wii U Game – Lego City: Undercover
Sure, we know—you’re baffled that games like Pikmin 3 or New Super Mario Bros. U aren’t in this place instead. Hear us out, though! As great as those will be, we know what to expect from them. With Lego City: Undercover, we see the potential for a game that’ll take us to new places. Playing as police officer Chase McCain, you’ll be charged with protecting Lego City from a variety of criminals. Imagine how much you could do with an open-world sandbox adventure game combined with the creative possibilities of Lego, and you’ll understand our excitement.
- Pikmin 3
- Project P-100
Best PC Game – SimCity
There hasn’t been a proper SimCity game in nearly a decade, but Maxis is bringing the iconic city-building franchise back in big way. Thanks to the impressive new GlassBox engine, everything that would’ve been reduced to statistics in the previous entries is now simulated and rendered in real time. Throw in breathtaking 3D visuals and an ambitious foray into online multiplayer, and SimCity’s poised to revolutionize the genre all over again.
- Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
- Raven’s Cry
Best Vita Game – Assassin’s Creed: Liberation
During one of the few segments Sony bothered to highlight its portable hardware at their underwhelming E3 briefing, we saw easily the best-looking game on a 5-inch screen. Assassin’s Creed: Liberation takes place in New Orleans around the same 18th-century timeframe as Assassin’s Creed III and follows Aveline de Grandpré, the first playable female assassin in the series. This Creole assassin even displays her heritage in her weaponry, as she wields a blowpipe and sugarcane machete as well as the classic hidden blade.
- Sound Shapes
- Jet Set Radio
Best 3DS Game – Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
The magic in Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion comes from the blending of old and new. The Castle of Illusion, from the classic Genesis game of the same name, has been relocated to Wasteland—along with the evil witch Mizrabel. Blending the classic side-scrolling gameplay from Castle of Illusion with the story and setting of Epic Mickey has yielded a game that’ll appeal to fans of both series.
- New Super Mario Bros 2
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Best XBLA Game – Dust: An Elysian Tail
With titles like Deadlight and Hybrid, there’s no shortage of quality Xbox Live Arcade titles on the horizon. Even still, we just can’t get over Dust: An Elysian Tail. Yes, it’s still unbelievable that 90 percent of this game is being created by one man—but, at the end of the day, far more impressive than Dust’s development story is how fun, full of charm, and fantastically polished it looks.
Best PSN Game – The Unfinished Swan
Giant Sparrow’s The Unfinished Swan is something you don’t really “get” until you’re actually sitting in front of it. At first, the empty, blank levels can be confusing, but slowly filling everything in with splotches of color quickly clues you into the fact that vast landscapes hide in the pale, invisible distance. It’s an artistic game that evokes memories of Flower or Limbo, yet it still feels like a fresh, engaging experience.
- Papa Y Yo
- Dust 514
Best Action Game – Dishonored
By the time we walked away from Dishonored at E3, we saw main character Corvo Atano control people’s minds, massacre a building full of people, stop time, physically merge with a fish, and assassinate corrupt politicians without even touching them. That much ingenuity makes Dishonored one of the most fascinating adventure games we’ve seen yet—we can’t wait to manipulate, mix, and match the various BioShock-like powers all over again.
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist
- Metro: Last Light
Best Sports Game – Madden NFL 13
The Madden franchise has been slow to innovate in recent years, but EA Tiburon’s hard at work on an installment that looks poised to right the wrongs of the last few iterations with a stunning new graphics engine, a ton of much-needed gameplay fixes, and a franchise mode that should rewrite the book on season-to-season play.
- NHL 13
- PES Pro Evolution Soccer 13
Best RPG – South Park: The Stick of Truth
Many of us on the EGM staff have dreamt that we could be part of the South Park universe—and this game looks to make our wish come true. You’ll become the “new kid” who must join Kenny, Kyle, Stan, and Cartman on the ultimate quest for…something. A turn-based classic RPG in the tradition of the NES/SNES Final Fantasy entries, Stick of Truth stays true to the series in every way imaginable—all the way from Cartman farting fire to Mr. Slave’s propensity to shove random objects (and, in this case, enemies) up his butt.
- Elder Scrolls Online
- Person 4 Golden
Best Adventure Game – Beyond: Two Souls
Love ’em or hate ’em, Quantic Dream’s projects offer a glimpse into the future of interactive storytelling, and the Paris-based developer’s latest, Beyond: Two Souls, is set to take their progressive brand of adventure gaming to new heights with a spooky sci-fi tale that sports an unprecedented level of interactivity and a groundbreaking performance from Hollywood favorite Ellen Page. Now, if only they’d confirm PS Move support…
- The Cave
- Way of the Samurai 4
Best Racing Game – Forza Horizon
Taking a page from some other recent racers, Forza Horizon takes the classic options palette of Forza—which allows you to make your driving experience as sim- or arcade-like as you wish—and crafts a story around it. Your character looks to compete in the Horizon Festival and win—and, just as importantly, look good doing it—in order to rise above the rest of the racing world.
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted
- Avatar Motorcross Madess
Best FPS – Far Cry 3
There was no shortage of traditional military marches at this year’s E3, but amidst all the ammo and explosions, one game stood out as a less-conventional approach to first-person action: Ubisoft Montreal’s Far Cry 3. Exploring the line between inspired escapism and outright insanity, FC3’s wide-open approach to the genre and its effortless flair for storytelling should offer FPS players an attractive alternative when it hits this fall.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
- Medal of Honor: Warfighter
Best Fighting Game – Persona 4 Arena
Picking a winner for this category was tough—all of our options were great titles that had their own special qualities. In the end, however, we just had to give it to Persona 4 Arena. This fighter combines Arc System Works’ mastery of 2D fighters with the beloved cast of Atlus’ Persona 4, and the end result is a refreshing take on the fighting genre that combines enjoyable gameplay and beautifully crafted visuals with new concepts like integrating trademark spells and status ailments from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise.
- Dead or Alive 5
- Injustice: Gods Among Us
Best Multiplayer – Medal of Honor: Warfighter
Medal of Honor: Warfighter has made it clear that Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare aren’t the only first-person shooters you should be watching. By focusing on tighter multiplayer maps, jaw-dropping graphics, and two-man “Tier 1” teams, Warfighter’s turning the modern-warfare genre into a three-front shootout. We got a huge kick out of the man-to-man team aspect of the combat, not to mention the impressive level design.
- Gears of War: Judgement
- Rayman Legends
Biggest Surprise of E3 – Watch Dogs
At a show that could’ve been deemed “the E3 of the leaked exclusive,” Watch Dogs was a new IP that no one saw coming. We had a blast playfully shorting out NPCs’ cell phones and causing traffic lights to malfunction, triggering a car accident that conveniently trapped our target; the sci-fi setting, thrilling atmosphere, and massive power potential of Watch Dogs left E3 observers in awe as their imaginations ran wild with gameplay possibilities like no other entry at the show.
- Beyond: Two Souls
Biggest Disappointment – Nintendo
As the only company with a new console on the way this year, Nintendo didn’t have to do much to win E3—give us a price, a date, and launch titles from a few of their countless beloved franchises. Somehow, we got none of that…and less. It was like watching an Olympic sprinter take a tumble inches from the finish line, then spend the next 20 minutes explaining what a minigame collection is.
- Low Portable Profiles
- No playable Star Trek
Best Overall Company Showing – Ubisoft
While Sony, Microsoft, and Bethesda all gave them a run for their money, we were collectively blown away by the overall awesome that was Ubisoft’s E3 presence. Between Assassin’s Creed for consoles and the Vita, the Wii U wonder twins ZombiU and Rayman Legends, triple-A surprises Watch Dogs and Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and the überpolished Far Cry 3, Ubi brought the goods this E3. And, aside from not being able to get Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” out of our heads, we couldn’t have been more pleased to witness it.