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E3: 10 Games to Watch

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This Year's Games To Watch

There were hundreds of games on display at this year’s E3. Some will be hits, some will be flops and some may never even make it into consumer’s hands. Declaring a “winner” among all of these options is something of a misnomer. By definition, the vast majority of titles shown at E3 are still months, sometimes years, from completion. What looks incredible in a polished, tightly controlled demonstration often turns out to be arduous (or worse, dull) when played in the comforts of your living room.
Photo Courtesy: Sony

There were hundreds of games on display at this year's E3 expo. Some will be hits, some will be flops and some may never even make it into consumer’s hands.

Declaring a "winner" among all of these options is something of a misnomer. By definition, the vast majority of titles shown at E3 are still months, sometimes years, from completion. What looks incredible in a polished, tightly controlled demonstration often turns out to be arduous (or worse, dull) when played in the comforts of your living room.

What we've compiled here instead are the titles that seem most likely to be hits this holiday season. They may not be the best games at the show, but given the state of the industry and the buzz on the floor, they’re the ones that will likely engage the general public. Although this list includes one or two dark horses — games that only the hardcore players are likely to love — their niche market could be enough to propel them to hit status.

By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 5 June 2009

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The Beatles: Rock Band

This one's kind of a gimme. The most popular band of all time makes its gaming debut in a title that’s one of the category leaders in the industry's hottest genre. Sing with the boys from Liverpool and play along on authentic reproductions of their instruments (or use your existing "Rock Band" instruments, if you'd prefer). The game will feature 45 songs — and will add to that via downloadable content virtually immediately "The Beatles: Rock Band" will be available on all three of the major cons
Photo Courtesy: MTV Games

This one's kind of a gimme. The most popular band of all time makes its gaming debut in a title that’s one of the category leaders in the industry's hottest genre. Sing with the boys from Liverpool and play along on authentic reproductions of their instruments (or use your existing "Rock Band" instruments, if you'd prefer). The game will feature 45 songs — and will add to that via downloadable content virtually immediately "The Beatles: Rock Band" will be available on all three of the major console systems.

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Tony Hawk’s Ride

It has been a few years since we’ve seen a new Tony Hawk skateboarding game, but the wait was worth it. Rather than controlling your onscreen skater via a handheld controller, this reboot of the franchise uses a skateboard-shaped balance board. It’s much more fun that previous installments of the “Tony Hawk” line – but at $120, it could be a hard sell to budget-conscious consumers. It will be available for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Photo Courtesy: Activision

It has been a few years since we've seen a new Tony Hawk skateboarding game, but the wait was worth it. Rather than controlling your onscreen skater via a handheld controller, this reboot of the franchise uses a skateboard-shaped balance board. It's much more fun that previous installments of the "Tony Hawk" line — but at $120, it could be a hard sell to budget-conscious consumers. It will be available for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360.

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Halo 3: ODST

You’d be a fool to bet against the combination of Bungie Software and a “Halo” game. The developers who created the “Halo” universe bring a new story to the franchise, along with a slew of multiplayer maps in this two-disc set. The game is set in the time frame immediately before “Halo 3” and, while the action is still the main focus, “ODST” incorporates some noire elements to make it different than any “Halo” game you’ve played before. Like all other “Halo” titles, this will be exclusive to the
Photo Courtesy: Microsoft

You'd be a fool to bet against the combination of Bungie Software and a "Halo" game. The developers who created the "Halo" universe bring a new story to the franchise, along with a slew of multiplayer maps in this two-disc set. The game is set in the time frame immediately before "Halo 3" and, while the action is still the main focus, "ODST" incorporates some noire elements to make it different than any "Halo" game you've played before. Like all other "Halo" titles, this will be exclusive to the Xbox 360.

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New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Another gimme. Super Mario Bros. is the most popular game Nintendo has ever created. After successfully porting it to the DS handheld system a few years ago, the company is now bringing it to the Wii, with a few tweaks to encourage consumers to pull out their wallets once again. Play with up to three friends and compete for new power-ups. It might feel weird to buy a remake of an old game, but the fun factor is still there. As the name implies, it’s a Wii exclusive.
Photo Courtesy: Nintendo

Another gimme. Super Mario Bros. is the most popular game Nintendo has ever created. After successfully porting it to the DS handheld system a few years ago, the company is now bringing it to the Wii, with a few tweaks to encourage consumers to pull out their wallets once again. Play with up to three friends and compete for new power-ups. It might feel weird to buy a remake of an old game, but the fun factor is still there. As the name implies, it’s a Wii exclusive.

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Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

The first “Uncharted” was compared to the famed “Tomb Raider” series, except it had a male protagonist. While there were some similarities, the comparisons sold “Uncharted” short. This follow-up continues to combine action and story with some truly funny moments. The game will only be available on the PlayStation 3.
Photo Courtesy: Sony

The first "Uncharted" was compared to the famed "Tomb Raider" series, except it had a male protagonist. While there were some similarities, the comparisons sold "Uncharted" short. This follow-up continues to combine action and story with some truly funny moments. The game will only be available on the PlayStation 3.

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Splinter Cell: Conviction

You have to give Ubisoft credit. Even after this fifth installment in the “Splinter Cell” franchise had to be scrapped and restarted (since the initial plan proved too ambitious), they stayed committed. Now, three years after the “Splinter Cell: Double Agent,” the company has put together a slick, stylized title that could revitalize the series. A stealth action game that incorporates subtle elements of television dramas, “Splinter Cell: Conviction” will be available exclusively on the Xbox 360.
Photo Courtesy: Ubisoft

You have to give Ubisoft credit. Even after this fifth installment in the "Splinter Cell" franchise had to be scrapped and restarted (since the initial plan proved too ambitious), they stayed committed. Now, three years after the "Splinter Cell: Double Agent," the company has put together a slick, stylized title that could revitalize the series. A stealth action game that incorporates subtle elements of television dramas, "Splinter Cell: Conviction" will be available exclusively on the Xbox 360.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

This proved to be one of the big ‘wow’ games of the show, blending frenetic action with cinematic moments. The result felt less like a game and more like being a part of a big screen Hollywood adventure. Hopes were high for this going into the show – and developer Infinity Ward has apparently delivered far beyond expectations. “Modern Warfare 2” could end up being a serious contender for the year’s biggest selling game. It will be available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
Photo Courtesy: Activision

This proved to be one of the big 'wow' games of the show, blending frenetic action with cinematic moments. The result felt less like a game and more like being a part of a big screen Hollywood adventure. Hopes were high for this going into the show — and developer Infinity Ward has apparently delivered far beyond expectations. "Modern Warfare 2" could end up being a serious contender for the year's biggest selling game. It will be available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

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Scribblenauts

Every year at E3, there’s a title no one has heard of that becomes the show’s most buzzed about game. This year’s was “Scribblenauts”. It’s a charming Nintendo DS game that blends puzzles and actions with … spelling. Yep. To solve puzzles or fight enemies, you attempt to solve problems by spelling what you need, which the game then supplies. Like most eccentric buzzed titles, it’s hard to describe, but a heck of a lot of fun to play. The last game that was this popular among show goers was 2004’
Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros.

Every year at E3, there's a title no one has heard of that becomes the show's most buzzed about game. This year's was "Scribblenauts." It's a charming Nintendo DS game that blends puzzles and actions with … spelling. Yep. To solve puzzles or fight enemies, you attempt to solve problems by spelling what you need, which the game then supplies. Like most eccentric buzzed titles, it’s hard to describe, but a heck of a lot of fun to play. The last game that was this popular among show goers was 2004's "Katamari Damacy," which went on to become a strong franchise for publisher Namco.

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Heavy Rain

This is the dark horse for commercial success this holiday, but core gamers couldn’t get enough of the noire mystery – and for good reason. It’s one of the best looking games of the show and the developer has a good track record. But it’s unclear if the general public will embrace the game the way the core crowd has. Here’s hoping they do. “Heavy Rain” could turn out to be one of the year’s most entertaining surprises.  It will be a PS3 exclusive.
Photo Courtesy: Sony

This is the dark horse for commercial success this holiday, but core gamers couldn't get enough of the noire mystery — and for good reason. It's one of the best looking games of the show and the developer has a good track record. But it's unclear if the general public will embrace the game the way the core crowd has. Here's hoping they do. "Heavy Rain" could turn out to be one of the year's most entertaining surprises.  It will be a PS3 exclusive.

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Mass Effect 2

Developed by the much-loved Bioware studio, 2007’s “Mass Effect” was an epic, space-based role playing game that played differently based on the in-game decisions you made. It seemed to end with the lead character dead. Turns out he got better. The second installment in what’s envisioned as a three-game series will allow players to import their data from the first game and continue with the attitude and reputation you developed there. Bioware warns that “Mass Effect 2” is darker than the first –
Photo Courtesy: Electronic Arts

Developed by the much-loved Bioware studio, 2007's "Mass Effect" was an epic, space-based role playing game that played differently based on the in-game decisions you made. It seemed to end with the lead character dead. Turns out he got better. The second installment in what's envisioned as a three-game series will allow players to import their data from the first game and continue with the attitude and reputation you developed there. Bioware warns that "Mass Effect 2" is darker than the first — and no character is safe. It will be available on the Xbox 360 and PC.