E3, the video game industry's yearly convention, is the ultimate tease for gamers.
They're shown well-polished bits of upcoming games that whet appetites and ramp up their enthusiasm, then told to wait – often for a couple of years. It is, in some ways, rather cruel.
Not every game is quite so far from its shelf date, though. And while it's a fool's mission to name one title the best of the show, given the limited look people get and the sheer volume of titles on display, it's a little easier to book odds on which games are likely to connect with players.
As we do each year, we've compiled a list of the games you can expect to be on people's wish lists this holiday season. Keep in mind, though, that while all of these games are currently slated for a 2011 release, delays are regular occurrences in the video game industry – and there's no guarantee they'll make it to store shelves on schedule.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 9 June 2011
It's kind of a no-brainer to put the industry's biggest franchise on this list. The series' last installment is the best selling game of this generation and expectations are high for this title. The only question is: How much competition will EA's new "Battlefield" game provide?
No other games have come as close to capturing the feel of an interactive movie as the "Uncharted" series. With smooth animation, well-paced action and truly funny dialogue, this third installment (a PlayStation 3 exclusive) is as close as you will ever come to living out an Indiana Jones-like adventure.
While the 3DS stumbled after its launch, it has a solid lineup of games on the way this holiday. Along with "Mario Kart 3D," this new installment in the Super Mario series should help it course correct. While this title incorporates elements from the classic "Super Mario Bros. 3," it's built specifically for the 3DS – and if there's one rule about Nintendo, it's this: Never bet against Mario.
Company: Bethesda Softworks
id Software invented the first person shooter genre and is the company behind the legendary "Doom" and "Quake" series. "Rage" is its first new franchise in 15 years and it looks to be a wild ride, blending gunfights, automotive combat, scary mutants and warring tribes in a post-apocalyptic world that's equal parts gorgeous and disturbing.
The "Gears of War" games are second only to "Halo" in importance for Microsoft. And this concluding chapter in the game's trilogy is shaping up to be a huge release. 1.3 million people took part in the open beta test, playing 11 million matches. Pre-orders have already topped 1 million and anticipation continues to build. The Xbox 360 exclusive is due out Sept. 20.
Company: Electronic Arts
EA is tired of "Call of Duty" hogging the spotlight – and designed this game deliberately to steal its thunder. Granted, it tried that last year with the disappointing "Medal of Honor," but "Battlefield 3" looks to be the goods, with eye-popping graphics, a tight storyline and a strong multiplayer mode. It will be tough to unseat Activision's crown jewel, but this game will certainly turn some heads.
Zelda is one of the go-to games for Nintendo – and the company has spent years polishing "Skyward Sword" to get it right. The Wii may be about to be replaced, but Nintendo's giving it one last hurrah with a big game from one of its biggest franchises – which happens to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.