The 9 Best Things at the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo

Amber Bouman

Typically, E3 is a salty sea of sweaty gamers bouncing off one another across approximately 1.5 square miles of Los Angeles Convention Center turf in search of the Next Big Game. This year was a little different however.

The crowd was the same, with sweaty gamers gawking at booth babes and mascots everywhere. But there was a lot more hardware on the scene. Microsoft’s Kinect. Sony’s Move. Nintendo’s 3DS. 3D goggles and games were everywhere, as were a surprising number electronic toys and gadgets.

We went through it all with a fine tooth comb. Here were the high points.

9 . Parrot AR.Drone

The moment we saw this Linux-based Augmented Reality quadricopter , we wanted it. You control it with an iPhone, which displays a feed from the chopper’s on-board cameras and even identifies enemy targets that you can (virtually) fire upon. If your friend also has an AR.Drone, you can fight them in the skies.

8. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

A prequel to one of the smartest, most authentic science fiction games ever, Deus Ex: Human Revolution wowed the sweaty, teaming masses at the L.A. Convention Center. Set in the year 2027 with a design aesthetic that is part Cyberpunk, part Renaissance, the game allows you to customize your character with an assortment of nanotech augmentations.

7. Kinect

Regardless of what you think about Wii-style games, the tech behind Kinect is interesting. The facial and skeletal tracking/recognition come courtesy of an RGB camera, while movements are detected by two 3D depth sensors. We were surprised to also discover that a multi-array mic allowed us to use Kinect to control the Xbox with our voice. The proprietary USB connector makes it Xbox 360 only for now, but it’s easy to imagine this being ported to the PC in time.

6. Rage

The next highly-anticipated shooter from id Software impressed us because 1) The role-playing and story elements represent a departure for id Software; 2) You can use looted artifacts to build new weapons and gadgets; and 3) It’s the next great Carmack engine and should be a great benchmarking. Oh, it also has a skyscraper-sized mutant . ‘Nuff said.

5. 3D Gaming

The third dimension is now officially in play. Literally. At its core, E3 2010 could be boiled down to the following: 45,000 gamers playing PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 games while wearing 3D goggles. Any doubts we had that the 3D movement was premature were put to rest the moment Nintendo announced the goggle-less Nintendo 3DS, which uses a lenticular display to impressive effect.

4. Mafia 2

This open-ended action adventure surprised us with cinematic story-telling and stunning DX11 graphics . The setting is the mid 20th century in the fictional Empire City. You play as Vito, a World War II veteran who returns home to a life of crime. The experience bears a striking resemblance to Mario Puzo at his finest. Best of all, we got to play on a big-screen display in 3D courtesy of nVidia’s 3D Vision technology.

3. Origin PC EON15-3D

If you read the August issue of Maximum PC, you probably remember that Origin PC’s Genesis system was the fastest PC to ever grace our lab. Imagine our delight when we stumbled upon the company’s EON15-3D laptop at the show. It’s fully customizable—you can build one out with up to a Core i7 820QM quad-core CPU—and is fully enabled for 3D gaming.

2. Portal 2

GLaDOS and the Aperture Science Labs are back, and so is the smartest first person game we’ve ever played. Valve showed off a short demonstration of Portal 2 that introduced a handful of new puzzle-solving mechanisms including pneumatic-style tubes and texture paints with special properties, as well as a hilarious new sidekick.

1. Civilization V

This fifth incarnation of the grand-daddy of strategy games looks like it will be the best one ever. New to the world- and empire-building mix this time around: more nuanced victory options, increased tactical depth, a cloud-based save-game system that will allow you to play your games on different systems, the elimination of unit stacks , and a much more vibrant and dynamic game map.

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