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Massively's E3 2012 awards and impressions

Jef Reahard

E3 is a sweaty, seething mass of geekdom incarnate. There are other big-ticket gaming events, of course, but they don't quite compare. From its sunny, southern California locale to its tacky and omnipresent booth babes, there's the Electronic Entertainment Expo and then there's the rest of the circuit.

And the people, oh-em-gee, don't get me started. The snippets of color you catch at a show like this are among the week-long highlights.

"I love sushi," for example.

This one exploded above the normal hum of conversation, it was heavily accented, and it drew hearty guffaws for minutes thereafter. Plenty of other noteworthies found their way onto my scribble pad, though tragically, none of these gems is printable. Oh, and next year, remind me to pack an extension cord, thanks. Anyhow, you're probably here to see Massively's Best of E3 2012 awards, yeah? Go on ahead past the cut; I've got to find a charging station.

Gallery: E3 2012 | 14 Photos

Best Booth:

Jef Reahard: If you subscribe to the theory that size does matter, it's hard to top's setup. There was no full-size tank like last year, but there were plenty of giveaways, demo stations, and giant-screen displays with impressive footage from both World of Tanks and World of Warplanes (as well as a World of Battleships banner or two and a nifty trailer).

Andrew Ross: Just a massive booth, tons of computers, a score-based contest for E3 (if you could wait in line long enough to get at a computer), huge TV screen, great commenting. This thing had presence. I actually saw some people I had just interviewed make their way over to this booth. It was just impossible to ignore.

Jeff Wright: stuck out, in a good way. The devs were holding tournaments against the game developers and giving out tons of free stuff. That was golden.

Best Trailer: Defiance

Jef Reahard: Despite the fact that I'm tempted to mute the audio and/or replace it with something orchestral, Trion's Defiance wins this one. It was a close one, too, because World of Battleships was equally impressive, especially the juxtaposition of battle footage with the algae-covered carcasses of ships on the bottom of the ocean.

Andrew Ross: Defiance. I mean, it's a game and a TV show. I still have some trouble figuring out whether some scenes are from the game or from the show. The song played with the trailer isn't exactly my favorite, but the remix syncs nicely with the action and actually gave me the chills, which rarely happens.

MMO of the show: PlanetSide 2

Jef Reahard: PlanetSide 2 by a landslide. Sure there were fancier booths, and shooters may not be your cup of tea, but PS2's gameplay nonetheless stands out from the crowd. If there was another game on the show floor where you could go from being a foot soldier to driving a tank to flying a Mosquito, all in the space of a few moments and all on the same character in the same persistent open-world, I must've missed it.

Andrew Ross: Raiderz. While some MMOs had really great ideas, Perfect World's Raiderz demo actually had real combat and non-combat features to play with, so I felt like I had a solid idea of what the game actually does. I've played games with similar combat, and this one still felt fresh enough that I wanted to go home and play.

Jeff Wright: Trion's End of Nations. Global warfare. Gigantic maps supporting 56 players. Thousands of units. Upgrades for all. An experimental game that really stood out.

Most anticipated project: Age of Wushu

Jef Reahard: Age of Wushu speaks for itself. It's a martial-arts flavored sandbox featuring skill-based gameplay, player kidnapping, and the ability to become an NPC. And those are just a few of the wackier features off the top of my head. Recapping all of the stuff that makes this game stand out would be an article unto itself, and fortunately we've already done that.

Andrew Ross: Age of Wushu. Kidnapping, action combat, guild-vs.-guild in truly customizable guild housing, bounties, customizable mounts, open skill system, trade skill reliance, dance-offs, and teaming up with NPC bosses. How can you beat that?

Additional Favorites

So those are the ones we could agree on, but we also had some opinions to share on the rest of what we saw at E3 this year:

Best presentation

Jef Reahard: Trion's Defiance setup was a nice change of pace. It featured the usual stand-up demo stations (next to a towering recreation of the destroyed Golden Gate bridge), but the company also provided a closed door setup complete with comfy couches and widescreen displays for its 30-minute press sessions. The rooms were full, so it was still noisy, but it was less noisy than the show floor, and I found myself wishing that I could spend some more time with Defiance if only to relax for a little bit.

Andrew Ross: RIFT's Storm Legion. The outdoor boss battle was just phenomenal. I've seen big bosses, but I still can't get over how big this one is. And the fact that the guy's moving, firing a chest-mounted laser, and losing armor along the way makes Godzilla's rampages in Tokyo look like a kid knocking over some blocks. I've been in some awesome battles in MMOs, but this one... it just redefines epic.

Biggest surprise

Jef Reahard: I didn't know what to expect from Gamania's Core Blaze demo, and frankly I'd never heard of the game prior to E3. If you like action MMOs, though, it's worth watching. The visuals are first-rate, and the combat, while not my cup of tea, is fluid, frenetic, and quite deep in terms of tactical considerations and skill-based rewards.

Andrew Ross: Grimlands. Most of the games I was semi-familiar with, but this one came out of the bushes and attacked in broad daylight. Vehicular combat, skill-based system with skill decay, high levels of customization, a robust crafting system, and a gritty, realistic environment. What's really odd is that this was the first game I was introduced to. I think the fact that it still stood out in my mind after seeing behemoths like Planetside 2 says a lot.

Best of the rest

Jef Reahard: I'll admit to geeking out over the Colonial Marines setup, which featured a giant alien sculpture as well as Ripley's forklift suit thing (complete with an attacking alien on the cage). I also had to stop and play/gawk at the Forza booth every time I passed it. Bethesda's Elder Scrolls Online press area was nifty too, with plenty of weapons and armor leading into the presentation theater and plenty of spiffy concept art lining the walls. Unfortunately, the demo itself wasn't quite as impressive.

Andrew Ross: I have a bit of a tie between Nintendo and the Injustice presentation. Nintendo doesn't have any heavy hitters coming out, but the booth was always packed. Even on the last day when people were cleaning up, there was a huge line to get at the new ZombieU game. The multi-player demo, where one person is human and the other directs zombies to kill him via the touch-pad controller, looked like a lot of fun. The games from the Nintendo Land game, all minigames based on popular Nintendo series, all looked like games I could fire up with friends when they come over. Injustice, NetherRealm's DC fighter, was just fun to watch. It's a very cinematic fighter, with a lot of environmental interaction, ranging from chucking barrels to blowing up background containers to releasing grenades to just plain knocking someone through the roof and into the next skyscraper. The lack of the usual "three rounds" worked well with the game's cutscenes between parts of the level (i.e., knocking someone into an elevator and resuming the fight upstairs). I had mixed feelings going into the demo room but came out quite satisfied.

Massively was on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 4-7, bringing you all the best MMO news from E3 2012. We covered everything from PlanetSide 2 and SWTOR and ArcheAge to RIFT's and LotRO's upcoming expansions!

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