Saturday, June 2, 2012

Five games to watch at E3

Editor's note: John Gaudiosi is co-founder and editor-in-chief of video syndication network. He's covered video games for hundreds of outlets over the past 20 years and specializes in the convergence of Hollywood and games.

(CNN) -- The video game industry has had a slow start to the year, but that's about to change.

As the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) takes over the Los Angeles Convention Center this week, the biggest games of this year and next will be showcased in front of 45,000 attendees. With a big slate of blockbusters scheduled to hit retail shelves this holiday, things are looking up for gaming.

The game industry is growing rapidly through new business models like free-to-play games, mobile games and cloud-based gaming. But it still relies on big-name titles to fill its coffers and entice gamers to spend an inordinate amount of time on multiplayer experiences online.

Like Hollywood, game publishers are counting on bestselling franchises and sequels to attract the growing demographic of people who play games.

There are a lot of games at E3, but these five titles will stand out. Collectively they should provide hours of new interactive entertainment to gamers around the world once they're released over the coming year.

"Resident Evil 6" (Capcom, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, October 2, 2012)

In a rarity in the game industry, where delays are commonplace, Capcom actually moved up the release date for this much-anticipated horror sequel.

The "6" in the title holds a deeper meaning, as this "Resident Evil" offers three distinct, yet interconnected, two-player cooperative gameplay experiences. Set 10 years after the events that ravaged Raccoon City, these globe-trotting survival horror stories feature six unique characters that gamers control to contend with the new C-Virus plague.

The zombies in this game are smarter, faster and even wield weapons, upping the ante and requiring that second player's sharpshooting help. The development team is going for a more Hollywood feel with this blend of action and terror.

Gamers will actually get a double-dose of this franchise with Sony Pictures releasing "Resident Evil: Retribution 3D" in theaters September 14.

"Halo 4" (Microsoft, 343 Industries, Xbox 360, November 6, 2012)

"Halo" developer Bungie has moved on to an original franchise for Activision, leaving Microsoft to turn to new developer 343 Industries for the first in the Reclaimer Trilogy of Halo games.

Set four years after the events of "Halo 3," Master Chief returns with a new setting (the planet Requiem) but the same beloved first-person shooter action that has sold over 40 million games around the globe.

The new game will further explore the man beneath the mask, John-117, while pushing multiplayer forward. Gamers can create their own Spartan IV warrior for multiplayer and engage in a four-player cinematic adventure in the new Spartan Ops or jump into massive competitive arenas with War Games. All multiplayer will be linked through the UNSC Infinity starship to keep players immersed in this rich sci-fi universe.

"Call of Duty: Black Ops II" (Activision, Treyarch, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, November 13, 2012)

With the "Call of Duty" franchise breaking entertainment launch records every year and raking in over $1 billion per release, developer Treyarch is catapulting the first-person shooter action into the future. "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" spans a cinematic storyline that propels the action into 2025, although some backstory gameplay will focus on the 1980s.

With American cities like Los Angeles under attack from flying drones and robots, players must contend with terrorist Raul Menendez, who's turned America's own military technology against itself. Treyarch is introducing more open-world gameplay to the mix and promises a more robust multiplayer experience (with all those new drones and robots), as well as an expanded Zombies mode with more undead enemies to contend with.

"Crysis 3" (Electronic Arts, Crytek, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, 2013)

Crytek returns to a future Big Apple, circa 2047, in this first-person shooter, although New York has never looked quite like this. Players will explore a massive Nanodome called the New York City Liberty Dome, which offers a diverse range of environments known as the Seven Wonders.

Taking control of the Nanosuit-armed Prophet, skyscrapers have been replaced by an urban rainforest teeming with overgrown trees, dense swamplands and raging rivers. It's within this landscape that players will hunt Ceph aliens and Cell Corporation henchmen using a composite bow (armed with the latest technology) and an assortment of high-powered weapons from Earth and beyond.

Crytek is blending the best of both worlds from its first two bestsellers and offering gamers more options in both the campaign and multiplayer experiences this time around.

"Dead Space 3" (Electronic Arts, Visceral Games, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, 2013)

In space, no one can hear you scream. With Ridley Scott terrifying a new generation of audiences with "Prometheus," Electronic Arts' Visceral Games is bringing more alien horror to gamers. In "Dead Space 3," Isaac Clarke crash lands on a snowswept planet that just happens to be overrun with alien Necromorphs.

After contending with these assorted alien monstrosities in the past, Clarke has new weapons and technology to help him perform the strategic dismemberment that has become the cornerstone of the franchise. The subzero planet adds a twist to the gameplay with more open, and hostile, environments to explore and even bigger creatures to content with.

Fans of the franchise will also see a return of the more close-quarters, don't-be-afraid-of-the-dark areas, as well as those signature zero-gravity sequences. "Dead Space 3" is slated to scare gamers in the dead of winter early next year.

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