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John McCarroll
Kimberley Wallace
Sam Hansen
Mike Salbato
Liz Maas
Console RPG of Show
Handheld RPG of Show
PC RPG of Show
MMORPG of Show
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John McCarroll's Top Picks

5) Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360/PS3/PC) - Maybe this title will crawl higher on my list when it's released, but like the two Sega titles above it, Fallout: New Vegas feels like more of the same. While there are improvements to combat, Obsidian's amazing talent for dialogue and story didn't really show through in the E3 demo. Of course, I did start shooting some people who were supposed to be dialogue partners... Fallout: New Vegas should satiate players who loved the Fallout 3 when it comes out in the winter.

4) Phantasy Star Portable 2 (PSP) - Another game from Sega that's more of the same, but that's not a bad thing. More weapons, more quests, more monsters, more loot, gamers are getting much more than the original Phantasy Star Portable. What are they getting that's the most important, though? More people to play with, as the game now includes online play. It's free, too, which is a new thing for most of the online Phantasy Star games. So players will get more - for less - later this year.

3) Valkyria Chronicles II (PSP) - From what I've seen of Valkyria Chronicles II, it's just the first game, shrunk down for the PSP. That would be completely unimpressive for many games, but I am more than stoked to see more of Gallia, especially while on the go. With sharp-looking graphics, the same top-notch gameplay of its bigger brother, and a brand new story, portable gamers can't lose with Valkyria Chronicles II when it's released later this year.

2) Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes HD (XBLA, PSN) - The original Clash of Heroes for the DS is a fantastic title, and truly what I believe a game like Puzzle Quest should be. While Puzzle Quest likely has a wider appeal to the general populace because of it's Tetris-like graphics and simpler gameplay, Capybara captured the hearts of the more hardcore with their original DS title. Now the title is headed to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, but the game's not just getting bigger sprites. Capybara has completely retooled the game, from balance to completely redrawn graphics - animations and all. It doesn't even look like the same game anymore. Combine that with online play and a budget price, and you've got a game you shouldn't pass up.

1) The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC) - I can't praise this game enough. If you haven't read my preview, the lowdown is simple: Brand spankin' new engine with fantastic graphics, rethought combat, and amazing dialogue options. CD Projekt Red is able to dynamically add and remove characters from dialogue, so it's no longer simply Geralt talking to one other person. Combine that with the already grey-tinted dialogue from The Witcher and you can't lose. CD Projekt RED and Atari will release this title in Q1 of next year, and it's already on my game of the year consideration list...

Awesome Non-RPGs:
NHL Slapshot (Wii)
Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)
Little Big Planet 2 (PS3)

Where was...?:
Sigma Harmonics (DS) - I don't think we're going to get this one...
Front Mission 5 (PS2) - I am not giving up hope!
A new Shin Megami Tensei Game!

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Kimberley Wallace's Top Picks

5) Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals (DS) - Whether you were a Lufia fan or missed out on it in the SNES era, this is your chance to experience Lufia II for the SNES completely reimagined. Thereís one thing that makes me happy when thereís a remake: when the effort goes in to make it more than just putting the game on another system. Thatís exactly how it appears Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals is shaping up. The switch to an action-oriented battle system also proves promising - it feels like youíre constantly playing the game and not stopping for random battles that take you out of the atmosphere. Not to mention, with its gameplay in the vein of Wild Arms, it seems like the developers are making all the right choices. I donít know about you, but I enjoy doing more than walking through the landscape and encountering random battle after random battle. In Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, youíll constantly be solving puzzles to advance in the game. Thereís more to it than just fighting and that is just one more reason this game deserves a nod.

4) The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC) - I never played The Witcher and anybody who reads my work on RPGFan knows Iím more of a JRPG girl, but when I sat down and saw The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, it held my interest, and most importantly, it made me want to play it. The visuals are stunning, and you can tell the development team tried really hard to balance the game into something everybody can play and enjoy. The most noteworthy aspect is the ability for CD Projekt RED as developers to include more than two characters into a single dialogue sequence, then add and remove them at any time from the conversation. It makes for much more dynamic conversation, since it's no longer just static one-on-one repartee. The battle system is also all-new for this title, as the game no longer uses the BioWare Aurora Engine. From what I saw, the developers are really working to beef up the story and make the characters stand out. Fans of Geralt and his grey-tinted dialogue, neither good nor evil, will have much more of that in Assassins of Kings.

3) Rune Factory 3 - My guilty pleasure has always been anything to come out of the Harvest Moon realm, and the Rune Factory spinoffs are no exception. What I love about developer Neverland is that they really listen to fans and always try to improve on their past formulas - even the little aspects. Everything in Rune Factory 3 moves faster, from stacking your crops to picking them to catching fish; even the battles no longer suffer from the slowdown that plagued past entries. Perhaps what Iím most excited about is that you can now bring townspeople in to battle. Befriending villagers extends to the battlefield and thatís great: it really exemplifies the old adage ďI get by with a little help from my friends,Ē which no doubt fits into the Harvest Moon world. Itís also super exciting that the game features online play where you can go into dungeons with your friends and also trade items over Wi-Fi. So many times developers donít do enough when they are making sequels to games, but here it appears that Neverland is making sure Rune Factory 3 is the best of the best.

2) Ghost Trick - Iíll admit Iíve been looking for a new graphic adventure to fill my Ace Attorney void and from what I played, it looks like Ghost Trick will be it. Besides the absolute awesomeness of being a ghost that gets to play tricks on the bad guys, youíre also solving a mystery about yourself. How did you die? Who killed you? Who were you before you died? Since you have no memory before you died, itíll be up to you to put the pieces together. While you do this, youíll also be helping people by assisting them from beyond the grave to avert their own deadly fates. The gameplay riffs on this well, by allowing you to transfer your soul into objects and manipulate them to provide a saving grace for somebody in distress. When all is said and done, although youíll be tackling some morbid themes, primarily the d word (death), thereís plenty of humor to carry you along the way. Mark my words: fans of graphic adventure games shouldnít miss out on giving Ghost Trick a spin.

1) Ys SEVEN - XSEED is pouring their heart and soul into this title - and it shows. Weíve suffered too long from awful third party interpretations of Ys titles, so XSEED is making sure fans finally get what theyíve been waiting for: real Falcom Ys games. After seeing the title in action at E3, I was more than pleased with the result. Not only does it have that nostalgic, old-school 80s RPG feel, but thereís also something oh so charming and captivating about it. Thereís so much that stands out about it from switching your party members to adapt to certain situations to the dungeons to the absolutely smooth control scheme. Most impressive was the dungeon I saw where you have to avoid getting sucked in by wheels of death while navigating the dungeon floating in the air. Thatís a pretty big accomplishment that I remember this so clearly, considering all the games I was exposed to at E3 and the time passed since then. I donít think fans will be disappointed one bit with Ys SEVEN, and I know I wasnít based on what I saw.

Top Non-RPGs:
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (Multi)
Epic Mickey (Wii)
NHL Slapshot (Wii)
Tomb Raider: The Guardian of Light (XBLA/PSN)

Most Fleeting Excitement:
Having the Secret of Mana logo appear on the Square Enix big screen only to find out it's an iPhone remake. C'mon, Square, give us a brand new title or a remake done well! Do my favorite SNES game justice!

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Sam Hansen's Top Picks

5) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) - To be honest, I really don't have much of a justification as to why this game is making my list. I (or rather, Mike) waited in line for an hour plus, snagged a free t-shirt, and played the most succinct demo ever for what was arguably one of the biggest games at the show. Nothing was immediately impressive, nothing popped or made me grin from ear to ear, and it honestly wasn't even that stimulating. But hey, man, the game looked pretty, the tech worked (seeing Link move his sword exactly where I wanted him to with help of the Wii MotionPlus was pretty nifty), and the new tools I got to tinker with have me pretty excited. Everything ran smoothly and responded well, so I'm obviously expecting a perfectly sound experience once this puppy comes out. I'm just hoping that the increased reliance upon the Wii MotionPlus and all the precision controls my demonstrator had me test out won't take precedence over, you know, everything else. I want an adventure, not a gimmick.

Also, there's totally going to be a bomb bowling minigame somewhere in here. Calling it.

4) Puzzle Quest 2 (Multi) - Sure, it's already out in stores (and in digital form via Xbox Live), but this was still one of my favorites from the show floor. I found myself falling in love with the game's presentation, and the greater strides the series is taking toward becoming less puzzley and more RPG-centric. I mean, look at the dungeon-crawling and new lockpicking system to scour up loot. It's still Bejeweled at its core, but all these sweet new additions sure are making it a much more customizable, number-crunching experience that us RPG fans tend to love.

3) Valkyria Chronicles II (PSP) - The PSP continues to surprise me at the amount of technical firepower it has packed behind that pretty little screen. Shrinking down a mammoth title like Valkyria Chronicles into a bite-sized UMD follow-up couldn't have been the easiest of tasks. Thankfully, the designers at Sega seemed to have done it swimmingly, because this handheld sequel looks shockingly fantastic. Like a lot of what I ended up playing on the show floor, VCII plays almost identically to what you'd expect from the series with little in terms of innovative steps, but when the game looks and controls this good, you'd be more than a little wackadoodle to knock it for whatever expansatory shortcomings it may have. Can I have this already, because I want to FWOOOOSH and RATTA-RATTA right the heck now.

2) Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS) - Finally, right? Golden Sun has been hibernating for way too long now, so I was clapping and barking like a seal when I got to play this one. Again, there seems to be a grand total of zilch new additions to the formula outside of the expected stylus adjustments, but I really couldn't care less, and I doubt many of you will either. The gameplay was fun, and everything in and out of battle had just enough of a nostalgic tinge to get my fingers flittering. I'm definitely looking forward to letting my Psyenergy loose within the newly realized three-dimensional plane, and while I didn't get to demo any newly implemented spells, the team behind Golden Sun has always had a knack for strange, inventive, and certainly fantastical puzzles, so I sincerely doubt we'll be let down with their latest effort.

And just as a sidenote, the only reason Dark Dawn beat out Valkyria Chronicles II is because of the awesomeness of the critical hit sound effect. You know the one. Totally brutal, and totally not in VCII.

1) Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) - While this might not be saying much due to the intrinsic shallowness of the statement, Dragon Quest IX probably had the best demo of all my picks, in that it didn't seem like a demo at all. I was thoroughly able to see a good deal of what this game is all about. I don't really think that Dragon Quest has ever been a particularly exciting series, whether we're talking about gameplay, narrative, or otherwise, but it's certainly classic, and entertaining in all its quaintness. But having character creation at the forefront changes things a bit. Suddenly, we've got player made characters with blue hair and mish-mashed armor running around with their equally ridiculous looking friends at their side, participating in emote tomfoolery as they kill dudes. The customization options alone give this game a smirky playfulness that will certainly appeal to the increasing casual audience, and I'm interested to see if this newfound, player-driven peppiness spills into the story. At any rate, I'm extremely eager to get my hands on the full version. The battle system played great and the atmosphere felt right, with the DS-ified Dragon Quest VIII artstyle transferring well onto the small screen. Is this going to surpass its PS2 predecessor? I've got my fingers crossed, because it's a damn hard act to follow.

Top 5 Things of E3 Awesomeness, Hilarity, and/or Stupidity:

5) The giant T-Rex looming over the Bethesda booth
4) The Third Birthday. Big ol' screen. Mouth being agape.
3) Being greeted by a building-sized Kevin Butler banner worth more than the entirety of my college tuition, car, and life upon my arrival at the convention center.
2) Mike trying to steal a glimpse of the 3DS from a protective booth babe, and the utter fail of said attempt.
1) Watching everyone (everyone!) look like an asshat while they played the Kinect.
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Mike Salbato's Top Picks
5) Phantasy Star Portable 2 (PSP) - I was a big fan of the original Phantasy Star Online. The other PSO titles, Phantasy Star Universe, and even this new one stray very little from the original formula, but I'm okay with that. They need to get away from the hallway-room-same hallway-really similar room format, but the gameplay itself has been refined, and the visuals look great on the PSP. And hey, free to play online? Sounds good to me.

4) Rift: Planes of Telara (PC) - Rift is very much like World of Warcraft. Like, down to the UI design in terms of windows and even some cursors. WoW's main font in its interface? Friz Quadrata. Rift's main UI font? Friz Quadrata. There's way more than a few similarities here, but if you're going to go after a certain market, go for the game with 12 million players, right? All that said, Rift is shaping up to be a very polished and enjoyable MMO. I think if Trion at least tries to give the game a bit more of its own identity than it currently has, they're going to have quite a good product on their hands.

3) Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP) - The original Kingdom Hearts was a game that, upon announcement, I openly mocked and saw no reason for its existence. For whatever reason, I still played the game, and it and its sequel instantly became two of my all-time favorite PS2 games in any genre. Since then, I've waited for a third, while I refuse to go near card-based entries in the series, and haven't been super compelled to play some of the others. Birth by Sleep looks like it might bring me back in, as it plays great on a system I didn't think would do it justice. I still want a true Kingdom Hearts III, but this one could be a keeper.

2) Tera (PC) - As someone who has only logged in time with a single MMORPG - though those hours far exceed any other single game I've played - I'm by no means an expert. What I do know is I like when I see something different though, and that's what Tera is. I find myself drawn more towards action RPGs and adventure games these days than slower turn-based games, if only due to a lack of free time. It's because of this that the idea of an action MMORPG like Tera interests me - having played it only confirmed that this is a game I'll be keeping a close eye on.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) - It's really hard for me to attend an E3 and find an RPG (or in this case, a game that RPGFan covers) that I have a higher opinion of than a new Zelda title, and E3 2010 was no exception. As someone who adored both Wind Waker and Twilight Princess almost equally despite the somewhat devised fanbase, Skyward Sword sits interestingly between the two, visually. I think this is going to give the game a wider range of appeal than either previous title, and the game's fantastic use of the Wii MotionPlus-enabled Remote and Nunchuk are going to deliver a seriously engaging gameplay experience. I can't wait.

Top 5 Non-RPGs:
Metroid: Other M
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Okamiden
Sonic Colors (no, seriously)


Top 4 Things Seen Around the Show:
A giant Pac-Man eating a Stormtrooper
Trion Worlds' Rift-themed booth
Tron-inspired blue-LED-infused next-gen controllers (sadly wired)
The Killzone guy sneaking up on and stalking random show-goers


Top 3 Only on Video, Which Made Me Sad:
Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday
Secret of Mana (iOS)
Metal Gear Solid Rising


Top 2 Games That We Were Told Were "Practically" RPGs:
Epic Mickey
Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction

Top 1 Worst Castlevania-Based Puzzle Game That Shames Both Its Platform & Its Heritage: Castlevania: Encore of the Night
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Liz Maas's Top Picks

5) Trinity Universe (PS3) - I have no familiarity with the Atelier series, but Disgaea I remember well - I'm not a fan of the gameplay, while I adore the art. The NIS America PS3 crossover title looks to be fun, even though it may not exactly be groundbreaking. The snippets of story also leaned to the light-hearted side, so diehard fans of either title - or at least, niche JRPGs - ought to give it a try.

4) Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS) - The first GBA Golden Sun didn't keep me entertained for very long and I skipped the second one. As such, I can't exactly compare Dark Dawn to the previous titles, but it doesn't seem to disappoint in any case. Its transition to 3D is a smooth one and, as a result, the game looks and feels great. There's just enough to do outside of in battle, such as puzzles, to keep you from getting bored. The turn-based battles are quick, with a touch-screen sliding menu making for a rather nice interface. This is, or at least should be, one of the most anticipated DS RPGs behind Dragon Quest IX.

3) Phantasy Star Portable 2 (PSP) - I played and loved Phantasy Star Online in its first incarnation, although my online gaming has been nil ever since. PSP2's battles are not so dissimilar from the original DreamCast game, so if you like PSO and want something similar with a story, this game is perfect for you. The same goes if you enjoyed the first Phantasy Star Portable, but were looking for extra content this time around with more quests, weapons, and enemies. Even in the short span of a demo, the characters were pretty interesting - including one who looked like he could be Dante (Devil May Cry) and Solid Snake's love child.

2) Tera Online (PC) - If you've read my preview, you know I freely admit to being a foreigner to MMORPGs. However, this title by the newly formed company En Masse impressed me with not only the visuals, but also the combat. The combat is very fast-paced/real-time due to being an action MMORPG, and consisted of special attacks combined with regular attacks that power them up. That didn't keep me from dying at the co-op mission's boss, but it still drew me in. I can't tell you much about the setting and background, but the gameplay is very engaging, and for a game you're bound to invest hundreds of hours in, you'll want that.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) - Hate on motion control if you like, but it does the trick just fine for the latest in (one of) Nintendo's long-long-running flagship adventure series. Still, like Twilight Princess, it remains a true Zelda even with the new Wii MotionPlus controls. Sure, I was terrible and didn't even get to the demo boss, but it was loads of fun to play. Zelda is, and always has been, great for its gameplay, and the Wii MotionPlus just enhances it. When Nintendo initially developed the Wii some years ago, you have to think that this title was exactly what they had in mind.

Non RPGs:
5) MGS: Peacewalker (PSP)
4) Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (PS3)
3) Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 (multi?)
2) Metroid: Other M (Wii)
1) God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP)

RPGs (Video Only/Announcements)
The Third Birthday.
Secret of Mana for iOS! Score!
The announcement of three MegaTens for the 3DS: Devil Survivor, Persona... and one called just 'Shin Megami Tensei'. Yessss.

Overheard at E3:
'F-k you, John!'
'Damn you, yellow guy!'
Ys being pronounced as 'Why's'
At Video Games Live: "How about everyone take out their cellphones, your DSes, your PSPs.. oh, I see that PSP is still booting up... hey! This guy's got a laptop! Damn you E3 people! What is that, a Mac or PC? ..A Mac? Can they play games yet?!" Me & guy behind me: "STEEEEEEEEAM!"
Also at VGL: "They say video games make people violent." Guy behind me: "No, that's the LAKERS!" -Said of the night of the Lakers riots

Where Was...?
Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem remake? Out next month in Japan but not even a mention of this.
Xenoblade? Once again, no mention of a Nintendo-developed title.
Kinect Four?

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