1 of 20
PS3, Xbox 360
The Game: You are a space pirate marooned on a planet with mutants, man-eating plants, and exploding ice cream carts. To survive and thrive in this over-the-top sci-fi shooter, you must kill creatively with big guns and an electric blue leash. One of the many colorful ''skillshot'' maneuvers is something called ''Fire in the Hole.'' We'd describe it, but this is a family website.
Our Take: An intense, outrageous shooter that winningly distinguishes itself by being outrageously funny, too. (February 2011) —Jeff Jensen
2 of 20
PS3, Xbox 360, PC
The Game: The alien invasion that began on a tropical Pacific island in the first game has spread to, where else, New York City. Your special-forces soldier will once again don a high-tech ''nanosuit'' to help him fight off the rampaging alien horde, but this time in the concrete vertical jungle of a crumbling Big Apple.
Our Take: The E3 demo, in which you fight off an all-out assault in an impressively rendered Grand Central Station, featured some striking graphical muscle, and some nifty possibilities for blowing up the rampaging ETs but good. But it's the final moments of the demo, in which the enemy deliberately crashes the MetLife Building (or, as it's named in the game, the ''MaxLife'' Building) on top of Grand Central, that continues to linger, even if we're still not entirely convinced that's a good thing. (Holiday 2010) —Adam B. Vary
3 of 20
Dead Space 2
PS3, Xbox 360
The Game: Part sci-fi shooter, part monster survival game, Dead Space blazed onto the scene in 2008 by being flat-out sphincter-loosening spooky. It's a little reductive to say the franchise is basically ''zombies in space'' — but it's a start. The original game took place for the most part aboard a mining vessel that had become infected with an organism that turned people into mindless, hive-minded cannibalistic ''necropmorphs.'' The new game — set within a vast alien city known as The Sprawl — gives its formerly silent hero Isaac Clarke a voice, new threads, and new necromorphs to splatter and stomp. It also deepens the conspiracy surrounding the shady Church of Unitology.
Our Take: Still scary. Still stunningly cinematic. Still lets you indulge in strategic, selective dismemberment, and that's really all we needed to know. (January 2011) —Jeff Jensen
4 of 20
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
The Game: Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit is a classic brand that's been given an innovative updating by Criterion Games, whose Burnout franchise of racing games is famed for their intensity and wit. The premise couldn't be simpler: High-speed chases. You can be the fuzz or you can play the runner. The experience is at once utterly credible and totally incredible. The rides are sweet and exotic (even the cop cars) and the scenery is darn purrrty. Players can use radar scramblers, helicopters, and even EMPs against each other. The game may even be more impressive as social media; a new feature called Autolog, likened to Facebook, allows you to gather performance data from friends around the world and compete against their records at your leisure.
Our Take: Currently has pole position for being one of the year's most distinctive and fun games in an always crowded, competitive field. (Nov. 16) —Jeff Jensen
5 of 20
Rock Band 3
PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
The Game: Adding keyboards to the plastic party band mix is buzzy enough. But Rock Band 3 fulfills the dream of cultivating genuine musicianship. A new guitar controller with 100 buttons effectively simulates the real thing — and there's also the real thing, a Fender six string that doubles as a controller.
Our Take: Awesome, authentic, and inspiring. But do gamers really want to rock, or just mock-rock? (Fall 2010) —Jeff Jensen
6 of 20
Star Wars: The Old Republic
The Game: Imagine you and millions of your Star Wars-loving friends living together in a vast virtual world as your own customizable, fully voiced character, blasting or light-sabering your way through epic yarns, set thousands of years prior to the Star Wars movies, that evolve according to your choices and conversation. Plus: Your own damn starship!
Our Take: They call these ''massive multiplayer online role-playing games.'' We call this one: ''We've already been playing this in our heads for the past 33 years — and now we get to play it together!'' (Spring 2011) —Jeff Jensen
7 of 20
Playdead, Microsoft Game Studios
The Game: Part of Xbox LIVE's ''Summer of Arcade,'' this independently created, downloadable title follows a young boy, seen only in smoky silhouette, as he traverses a treacherous landscape filled with puzzles, traps, and giant creeping spiders.
Our Take: Five minutes with this haunting side-scroller on the E3 show floor and we were utterly captivated. It's not every day you come upon a game that evokes avant-garde, black-and-white pre-WWII European cinema — and makes you desperately want to see more. (''Summer of Arcade'' begins in July) —Adam B. Vary
8 of 20
Disney Epic Mickey
Disney Interactive Studios
The Game: Mickey Mouse finds himself pulled into a fractured land of forgotten Disney characters (remember Oswald the Lucky Rabbit?), and has to paint and erase his way out of it. Mickey's actions have consequences, though; erase too much, and things may get gloomy indeed.
Our Take: It's bracing, and refreshing, to see Disney's iconic mascot in such a dark and twisted setting; the filmstrip-like levels set in old Mickey shorts look especially fun. (Holiday 2010) —Adam B. Vary
9 of 20
Sid Meier's Civilization V
The Game: For its first new version in five years, the popular and highly addictive build-your-own-nation franchise gets a major makeover, including sun-dappled landscapes, interactive leaders who speak in their native tongues (like ancient Aztec!), and a newly robust warfare system that values strategy over brute force.
Our Take: Dear Editors, We won't be reachable for at least a week after this game comes out. Sorry about that. (Sept. 21) —Adam B. Vary
10 of 20
Child of Eden
PS3, Xbox 360
The Game: From Rez creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Eden similarly combines an action shooter with musical feedback. The gist of Eden — and we're paraphrasing here — is to rid a futuristic Internet system of an invading virus. You accomplish this by shooting down enemy objects, which in turn affects the rhythms of the dance-club soundtrack.
Our Take: While Eden can be played with a traditional controller, it becomes something entirely different when the Kinect for Xbox 360 is plugged in. You can use your hands to aim and fire ammo, clap your hands to swap weapons, and raise both hands to unleash an iridescent bomb. It's like conducting a psychedelic orchestra. (Release date TBA) —John Young
11 of 20
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
PS3, Xbox 360, PC
The Game: In 2027, a mechanically augmented security expert is tasked with investigating a terrorist attack on his biotech corporation.
Our Take: Revolution, a prequel to 2000's beloved action role-playing game Deus Ex, unfolds in a cyberpunk universe so visually striking that Blade Runner must be envious. But the real hook will be the gamer's ability to solve each situation in a truly dizzying multitude of ways. (Early 2011) —John Young
12 of 20
PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac
The Game: The sequel to the surprise 2007 hit puzzler plops you into a sprawling research facility overseen by a batty artificial intelligence convinced that you tried to murder it. (Because, well, you did.) Your only way out is by using a special gun that can create physics-defying portals on any flat surface.
Our Take: Mind-warping puzzles matched with a wry, Douglas Adams-ian sense of humor makes for very happy gamers indeed. (2011) —Adam B. Vary
13 of 20
The Game: Using Xbox 360's controller-free Kinect, Dance Central tracks your body as it teaches you more than 600 dance moves set to the beats of Lady Gaga, No Doubt, and more.
Our Take: Bad dancers of the world, rejoice! Not only is it ridiculously fun to rock your body to ''Poker Face,'' but you'll also be sharpening a skill that can be used outside of the living room. Watch out, dance clubs. (November) —John Young
14 of 20
Warner Bros. Interactive
The Game: The original Scribblenauts was the breakout hit of last year's E3, and this Super sequel ups the ante while addressing some of gamers' initial complaints. For the uninitiated, this is a side-scrolling puzzler that allows you to conjure a plethora of objects simply by typing out words. Want a screaming narcoleptic flying hippo? Enter those words, and you got it!
Our Take: Now that the hero, Maxwell, can be controlled using the D-pad, we anticipate a game that's even more engrossing than the original. And the monstrosities you'll be able to summon by using the 10,000 — yes, 10,000 — included adjectives are endless. (October) —John Young
15 of 20
Kinectimals (pictured, Microsoft Game Studios), Xbox 360
EyePet (Sony Computer Entertainment), PS3
The Games: Both Kinectimals and EyePet utilize motion controls to let you interact with a virtual pet. Using the Kinect, Kinectimals allows you play with 40 species of wild (and surprisingly friendly) cats, which can imitate your movements, respond to your voice, and even recognize your face. EyePet, on the other hand, employs the PlayStation Eye camera to project a video of you onto the screen. The game then plops an adorable monkey-kitten hybrid critter onto the image so that it seems as if the pet and you are occupying the same space. Also, the PlayStation Move controller can transform into a variety of objects and toys.
Our Take: For those who don't own pets, Kinectimals and EyePet are your next best options. And you don't have to clean up after them. (November for Kinectimals; September. for EyePet) —John Young
16 of 20
PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
The Game: Well, it's Monopoly, but the board and all its iconic properties, railroads, and utilities have been brought to life as a dense and busy mini-city, richly rendered with 3-D animation. As you buy and sell and trade properties and build (and destroy) houses and hotels, you and your opponents literally erect the world as you play. Not the first time Monopoly has been videogameatized, though certainly the best and most ambitious, this new iteration offers two different cityscapes (a third, very futuristic, can be downloaded), a property auction mini-game, the ability to import Miis and Xbox avatars, and a ''house rules'' system consisting of modifications that Monopoly lovers have invented over the years.
Our Take: We're already fighting over who gets to be the steamboat. (October 2010) —Jeff Jensen
17 of 20
Gears of War 3
Microsoft Game Studios
The Game: The latest and allegedly final installment in the blockbuster franchise — about soldiers at war with alien monsters known as the Locust on a planet called Sera — has some hip-hop in its step: Ice-T and Drake will get to obliterate leathery extraterrestrial abominations with the game's iconic chain-saw-tipped guns (Lancers) via the new characters that will speak with their voices. Other developments: two playable female fighters (including Jace Stratton, imported from the Gears comic books), evolved mutant baddies that make trouble for both the humans and the Locust, and a four-player co-op mode sure to please fans for whom a telephone party line makes for a night of virtual wilding. Oh, and have you ever wanted to play the part of a mindless monster ripping apart heroic humans? ''Beast'' mode now gives you the option.
Our Take: The current gold standard of sci-fi shooters looks to go out with a rocking — and equal opportunity — bang...that is, if this is really the end. We'll believe it if we don't see it. (April 2011) —Jeff Jensen
18 of 20
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
The Game: A massive multiplayer online role-playing game — MMORPG to you — set within Lego-looking galaxy where a chaos-producing evil known as The Maelstrom threatens the power of imagination itself. Playing your own customizable mini-figure, you and your Lego-loving buddies have to visit various unique planets via rocket ships and liberate them from this creativity-killing menace. Along the way: You build stuff. Anything. Imagine the madcap fun of the Lego Star Wars games, but blown out into a massive, shared virtual world that's pure Lego.
Our Take: If you actually need to use the family computer to do important, useful things like pay bills, write e-mails, or visit EW.com on the hour, every hour, then please, don't buy this game for your kids, because you'll never, ever pry them away...at least, not until they're old enough to play Grand Theft Auto. (October 2010) —Jeff Jensen
19 of 20
Microsoft Game Studios
Xbox 360, PC
The Game: The popular and critically acclaimed series tries to top itself with the story of a young hero who must build a massive following to overthrow his tyrannical older brother, ruler of the land of Albion. The twist: Halfway through the game, the revolution succeeds, and then our hero must rule while dealing with the repercussions how just how he (i.e., you) chose to mount that insurrection.
Our Take: With a voice cast that includes John Cleese, Simon Pegg, Ben Kingsley, and Stephen Fry, this sprawling twist on the venerable role-playing game genre looks to deliver on everything everyone has loved about this franchise to date. (Oct. 26) —Adam B. Vary
20 of 20
Kirby's Epic Yarn
The Game: The bouncing pink ball known to Nintendo devotees as Kirby gets an arts-and-crafts overhaul for his first console game in ages, replete with colorful thread, fleece-like fabric, and tons and tons of shiny, shiny beads.
Our Take: Yes, the look is vaguely reminiscent of the PS3's LittleBigPlanet and its hero Sackboy, and the game itself is a fairly standard platform adventure. But we defy you to find a more adorable experience on any gaming console anywhere this year. (Fall 2010) —Adam B. Vary