Welcome to RPGFan's Best RPGs of E3 2008. This is a small collection of games that simply wowed us at this year's E3. Similarly to last year, we'll be offering six awards, but, unfortunately no overall show impressions aside from the individual game impressions posted throughout last week. So check out below what we thought were the best RPGs of this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.
|RPGFan's Best RPGs of E3 2008||Best RPG of E3 2008|
|Fallout 3 (Multiplatform) -
Black Isle is never coming back, and PC RPG fans have had to come to terms with this. Their Fallout franchise, however, is far from the grave and Bethesda Softworks showed off just what they would be doing with the venerable franchise at this year's E3. For the first time, we got actual hands-on gameplay with Fallout 3, and the reaction was just like something out of a Keanu Reeves movie: Whoa.
Fallout 3 is an absolutely gorgeous look at the post-apocalyptic wastelands seen only in 2D, previously. While the combat has changed significantly, more in line with Bethesda's other series, The Elder Scrolls, they have included the VATS combat system, which allows players to pause, expend AP for additional commands, and return to the action-oriented gameplay. It's not the same style as the Van Buren project that Black Isle was working on, but we are incredibly impressed with Fallout 3.
Runner-up: Alpha Protocol (Multiplatform)
|Best PC RPG of E3 2008|
|Alpha Protocol (Multiplatform) - Yes, Alpha Protocol is a multiplatform title, not a PC-exclusive release. However, aside from Bethesda's Fallout 3, Alpha Protocol was the game we were most impressed with at the show. It's a bit further out than Bethesda's title, as Obsidian's newest RPG isn't slated until February 2009, but it's shaping up to be a great combination of gunplay, dialogue, and true action-oriented gameplay.
Unlike many Action-RPGs, players in Alpha Protocol have the ability to dodge and roll, similar to games like Gears of War or Dark Sector, they've got access to a realistic dialogue system that doesn't give infinite time for chances, and it's got the RPG backbone that keeps it from being just another shooter. The best thing about Alpha Protocol, however? The fact that players on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 will all have access to it early next year.
Runner-up: Neverwinter Nights: Storm of Zehir (PC)
|Best Console RPG of E3 2008|
|Valkyria Chronicles (PlayStation 3) - While editor James Q. Clark has already posted his import review of this Sega title, we had a chance to play at E3 - in a language that not just our import reviewers understand. At a show where certain announcements about a Square RPG going multiplatform may have stolen the PlayStation 3's thunder, it's still a PS3-exclusive title that held our attention most on the console front.
Valkyria Chronicles has quite a bit going for it: a battle engine that sets it apart from other Strategy-RPGs, a unique and beautiful graphics engine, and a world that's close enough to our own so players can sympathize with the characters, but different enough as not to seem rote. It's tough to describe exactly what's so charming about Valkyria Chronicles without playing the game itself, which North American gamers will get to do this winter.
Runner-up: Too Human (Xbox 360)
|Best Handheld RPG of E3 2008|
|Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (Nintendo DS) - Sonic Chronicles seems like a combination that shouldn't exist. A Japanese-style RPG developed around a franchise known for its blazing speed by a team in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada? When the developers in Canada happen to be the legendary PC RPG gurus BioWare, just about all skepticism can be tossed aside. With what we played at E3, this is completely true: Sonic Chronicles is going to be one of the best RPGs for the DS, if the E3 demo is a good indicator.
Completely stylus-driven, the battle system is both fast and immersive, as players aren't just issuing commands and watching Sonic and pals deal some damage. With stylus-driven commands that need to be given during attacks that feel like they belong in Elite Beat Agents, combat stays more interesting than the average JRPG. While we didn't get a chance to see a great deal of the dialogue, we're hoping that the quality of scripts we've seen in previous BioWare games carries over into Sonic Chronicles.
Runner-up: Away Shuffle Dungeon (Nintendo DS)
|Best MMORPG of E3 2008|
|Champions Online (PC, Xbox 360) - Cryptic Studios knows what they're doing in the realm of comic-style MMORPGs. While their first game, City of Heroes, has been popular and still has one of the most robust character creation engines of any MMORPG on the market, it now belongs to NCSoft. Crytpic has now moved on to work with publisher 2K Games on creating a new MMO based on the pen-and-paper RPG franchise Champions.
Champions Online is still fairly early in its development - we'll likely be seeing it at next year's E3, as well, as it's slated for a Spring 2009 release. Despite that, Crytpic had the base engine of the game functioning with one of the game zones. Color us impressed, as combat worked well and the two characters run by Cryptic employees were incredibly different. While most gamers probably won't have heard of the franchise it was based on, gamers will take a shine to the action-oriented battle system and great graphics in the title. Let's just hope that Cryptic has fixed some of the complaints about the depth of City of Heroes by the time Champions Online launches next year.
Runner-up: DC Universe (PC, PlayStation 3)
|Best Re-Release of E3 2008|
|The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (PC) - While I'm sure I'll get a lot of e-mails about the fact that this award isn't going to Chrono Trigger DS, The Witcher: Enhanced Edition is adding so much new content to the game, it's not a contest. New adventures, faster load times, more diversity in monsters, and an adventure creation tool give The Witcher: Enhanced Edition the edge. Additionally, the great thing about this version of The Witcher is that it will be available for free to those who already own the game, and the new version will retail for the same price as the old. Both current owners and newbies to the game should have a blast with CD Projekt's enhanced title in September.
Runner-up: Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS)