We haven't fully recovered from E3 2007 just yet, but in the final stages (there's 12, naturally) of recovery, we're told it's only proper to hand out awards for the best (and sometimes the worst) of what we saw in Santa Monica.
The nominations for this year's Game Critics Awards were given out on Monday and, next Monday, we'll learn who the final winners are in categories such as Best of Show and Best Original Game. For our first Joystiq E3 Awards, we've borrowed those two categories and made a bunch of our own.
So what did we like the most? Assassin's Creed, Metroid Prime 3, My Word Coach? Those were all great, but one title stood above the rest. The answers you seek lie after the break. Disclaimer: Any comments regarding Harry Potter were made prior to the release of the book and therefore do not necessarily reflect what happens in the book.
Best in Show: Rock Band
Activision may be riding high right now on the success of Guitar Hero, but we think Electronic Arts has more than a fighting chance of reclaiming the position of top third-party developer and former GH developers Harmonix will help immensely with Rock Band. It's incredibly fun, its got drums (huzzah!) and a microphone, and it's our pick for the best game at E3 2007.
Best in Show (that we couldn't play so we really can't tell): Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat
Unfortunately, developers Infinity Ward weren't letting us play their upcoming shooter, opting instead to keep the controllers for themselves. But the visuals were gorgeous, the audio was powerful (hey, we could even hear it on the show floor!), and from what we could tell it played well. Though we can't really be sure. Because we just couldn't play it. They said no. Repeatedly. Drat.
Best Original Game: LittleBigPlanet
A four-player online co-op level designer? Our time with LittleBigPlanet was incredibly fun, and watching designer Mark Healey create a working tank, amongst other gewgaws, in just seconds gives us an impression of all the fun we're going to have when the game comes out. Yet another highlight of the presentation included a working adding machine that uses marbles and cogs, thanks to some clever building and the game's physics engine.
Biggest Unnoticed Announcement: Disney acquires Warren Spector's Junction Point Studios
Warren Spector is a legend in the games industry (Thief, Deus Ex), and Disney Interactive's purchase of his Junction Point Studios is an important move for the company's fledgling games studio. It's big news, for sure, but it was overshadowed by pretty much all of the other major studios. It doesn't help much, either, that Spector had very little to show of his current secret project.
The Tim Schafer Award for Overlooked Greatness: Clive Barker's Jericho
You may know that Joystiq (more specifically Ross, Ludwig and any writers who have been subjected to their ruthless and clumsy lobotomies) has a soft spot for Tim Schafer, the man behind such gems as Grim Fandango and Psychonauts – games loved by the critics and, well, very few others. So it is with much chagrin that we unveil the first-ever Tim Schafer award for games that were great but we fear will likely be overlooked by the masses.
Our first winner of the backhanded compliment trophy is Clive Barker's Jericho, a time-traveling, body-possessing, occult-warring tactical first-person shooter that we beseech you to pay attention to. Go on, read our impressions of the game. It's best to keep informed on matters this urgent.
Honorable mention: Zak & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Best use of a license (by not making the game suck): The Simpsons
This is how a video game based on a license should be handled. Always.
Best in Show E3 2004: Beautiful Katamari
We kid because we love and there's a lot to love with this version of Katmari Damacy, but the core mechanics and aesthetics remain the same. It's still a great game and we recommend it to anyone with a penchant for the bizarre, but you won't be faulted for thinking you played this exact game three years ago on the PlayStation 2.
Worst: The Title Award for Worst Game Title: Legendary: The Box
The Legendary Box. Pandora. Or maybe even mix those two together and make Pandora: The Legendary Box. There are quite a few different titles (and subsequent variations) that we could concoct for this game that are better than its current name, Legendary: The Box. It's a fun game, but we cringe when trying to speak its name.
Best Swag: THQ's UFC Grillz
Boy, are they shiny. No matter how hard we tried, this piece of swag just never looked right when we wore it. It's a shame, really.
Best New Meme: 'Pulling a Peter Moore'
"Oh man, he paused it again," cried the Joystiq writers (and most people within earshot) at Peter Moore's groove-stopping flub that occurred chronically during his Rock Band performance at the Microsoft press conference. The phrase "pulling a Peter Moore" proliferated throughout the attendees and was heard at least once a day. Sources close to Joystiq say it's the real reason he left Microsoft for Rock Band publisher Electronic Arts.
Best Non Sequitur: Jeff Bell: 'Harry Potter dies!'
Thursday night at the Microsoft party, VP of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business Jeff Bell goes up to Gamertag Radio while talking with our own Richard Mitchell of X3F and, probably not realizing it was a live broadcast (and likely a bit inebriated), shouts "Harry Potter dies!" into the microphone. You can listen to it here, but bear in mind a lot of the drama is lost when you don't get to see Bell's actions. Too funny.
Most painful press conference: (TIE) Activision, Disney
You can read about the Activision press conference via our own chronicles of the event (way to take one for the team, Chris!) and watch the "lowlights" of host Jamie Kennedy's muddled performance. To sum up: it was bad.
As for Disney, our liveblogger met with an untimely death so we have no transcript, but the few writers who were within the vicinity of the press conference – via the press room that was separated by a life-saving black curtain (a video feed was also provided) – endured a squad of cheerleaders shouting highlights, an off-key performance advertising High School Musical and a few duh-rassic phrases. Both companies had above average showings and news at E3, but their stage performances provided ample counterbalance.
If Will Wright had gotten on stage at the Electronic Arts press conference and only said "Hi, I'm working on Spore," followed by maybe a screenshot or two, we guarantee the game would have received numerous "Best of E3" awards, just as it has for the past two years. Given Spore's profile at conferences over the last few years, even as recent as SXSW in March, its absence here was very noticeable.
As for Too Human, Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack told GameDaily that the decision to go incognito during the show had been long planned and implied they would be showing it later this year. Of course, given the dearth of specifics, we're inclined to believe it might be longer. Besides, the developer probably has enough on their minds right now with that lawsuit against Epic over the Unreal Engine.