E3 2012: Polygon's most anticipated games

The team picks what they want to see most at the show: Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3, Wii U Mario and many more.

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The team picks what they want to see most at the show: Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3, Wii U Mario and many more.

Next week, the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo begins. Home to Wii U. The future of Kinect. Sony's next Vita plans. And, as you might expect, news and video updates on almost every game coming out in the next couple years. It's the absolute best kind of mess to sort through, and we have big plans for just that.

To get started, we rounded up the Polygon staff and had everyone pick the game they want to see most at the show. No voting, no making sure we're being comprehensive - just each of our personal choices. And oddly, only two people picked the same game. (Spoiler: Check the navigation bar on the left to see which.)

Anyway, check out our choices below, and let us know what you're looking forward to in the comments below that. As long as your answer doesn't contain the words "Michael Phelps" and "Kinect sequel," we can be friends.

The Last of Us


What is it about zombies? It's an oft-asked question with oft-heard answers. "It's because you don't feel bad killing them!" someone will insist. "They're the new Nazis," a friend posits. But like everything in the too often "me too" world of video games, zombies have become boring. One need look no further than the description in what seems like half of the games vying for attention on the iOS App Store to see that the zombie plague is real, only it's not infecting our brains in the ways we always thought it would.

So what is it about Naughty Dog's The Last of Us that has me intrigued? It's not the zombies, though I will award points for the cordyceps fungus-inspired flavor of zombie, a unique twist in a busy genre. It's the chance to see Naughty Dog try something with more inherent dramatic heft than the wise-cracking antics of its nevertheless excellent Uncharted series. What we've seen so far promises some kind of mix between the austerity of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and the cruelty of The Walking Dead. What's interesting about The Last of Us is that the "Us" that protagonist Joel and companion Ellie find themselves amongst has the potential to be more frightening than the reanimated baddies we've been slaughtering for years.

- Chris Grant, editor-in-chief

Halo 4


Halo is my guilty pleasure. It's the one game I know I can go back to - again and again - and get the same joy and the same thrill every time. It's the cheeseburger, fries and a coke I'll eat on the road and not tell my doctor about, and run an extra mile to try and forget. Halo is my McDonald's. And I love it, while pretending to hate it.

Seeing Halo 4 at E3, in that context, is going to be like eating a Big Mac after a marathon. Not only will it be an almost purely escapist thrill for me in the middle of a grueling week of work, but it's a videogame I won't have to pretend I'm excited about. Microsoft and 343 Industries PR reps will not see my "I'm a professional, and I'm appreciative of your hard work" smile and/or my "I am going to be writing about this and therefore will remain dispassionate" face. They'll see my full-on gamer nerd "O face."

343 Industries has been quietly (and not so quietly) amassing a team of hundreds of the best developers in the industry to breathe new technological and narrative life into this long-running and immensely popular franchise. Halo 4 will reunite gamers (and me, squee) with the Master Chief; the stoic, faceless, superhuman protagonist that started it all. And it will delve into some of the expanded universe fiction surrounding Virtual Intelligence-cum-narrator Cortana (and yes, I have read Halo expanded universe fiction; deal with it). It will also introduce some new thinking about multiplayer and single-player, and how the division between the two can be erased. I have to be honest though; I may or may not O-face over the online features.

Halo, for me, is about coming home to an old friend and seeing what they've done with the place, then spending a few weeks getting re-acquainted. Until I can get Halo 4home, dim the lights and shut out the world, I'll be just another impatient gamer. Hungry. Waiting for my juicy, cheesy reward.

- Russ Pitts, features editor

The Last Guardian


I have no reason to believe The Last Guardian will appear at this year's E3 - if anything, the evidence points to it not being there - but that doesn't stop me from wanting it. Through the delays, tech troubles, and the as-yet-explained news of director Fumito Ueda finishing the game as a contractor rather than a Sony employee, I still haven't been as excited by a trailer as I was when Last Guardian's debuted in ... 2009. If you do the math, it's been in the works for about seven years now.

So, you know, my expectations are in check. But while I'm practically excited for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, The Last of Us, The Unfinished Swan and a bunch of surprises (fingers crossed for Bayonetta 2 and innovative Kinect/Wii U stuff), I'm irrationally excited for The Last Guardian and its promise of blending creative mechanics with artsy visuals and a AAA budget.

And maybe that's why it fell on its face. But until Sony tells me it's cancelled or something more interesting comes along, it stays on top of my list.

- Matt Leone, deputy features editor

Hitman: Absolution


Hitman Absolution is an exciting, terrifying prospect for someone who loves the series as much as I do.

During the Xbox 360's honeymoon period, plenty of people were excited about Oblivionand GRAW ... hell, even Prey. But until Splinter Cell Double Agent came out that fall, nothing captured my interest like Hitman: Blood Money. It wasn't a perfect game. In many ways, it wasn't a great game. But it was a good game that did a lot of interesting things, and the mechanics worked enough to bring everything together. It was a assassination simulator in a Rube Goldberg vein, where I felt free to set up the dominoes of fate to fall in just the right way to achieve my objectives. I never wanted to fire a gun. My weapon of choice was circumstance.

Hitman: Absolution may not be exactly that. There's a clear focus on the story this time out, something that happened almost without notice in Blood Money and which was poorly alluded to in the Hitman games before that. There's a cinematic sensibility that was absent in previous games. Understandably, that's what developer Io has been most eager to show, but all of that has precluded it from showing those open, creative environments from previous games.

But every time I've heard Io speak about Hitman: Absolution, the developer has seemed aware of what makes the series work so well. And the idea of six years of technological progress added to the magic mix that made Hitman: Blood Money such a compelling time sink for me is really exciting. And I can't wait to see it at E3 - 'til then I'll be imploring whichever deity will listen to make sure Io doesn't screw it up.

- Arthur Gies, reviews editor

Wii U Mario


If I'm being honest, I'm excited to see what Nintendo announces and shows off for the Wii U in general at the show - from final specs on the hardware and controller to the first games. But I'm going to hone in on Mario specifically since it's one of the few projects the company has already confirmed it's working on.

Sure, it's not shocking news that Nintendo is making a Mario game for Wii U, but consider: Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Super Mario Galaxy 2were easily amongst the best offerings on the Wii. Super Mario 3D Land convinced me to buy a 3DS, and it was worth it. If Nintendo can get out another great Mario experience at or around the launch of the Wii U, it may be enough to prove the hardware's worth in and of itself. And who knows what inventive gameplay ideas the bizarre Wii U controller will allow Nintendo to explore. My dream? A 3D Mario experience on the TV with special 2D levels played on the controller screen.

- Phil Kollar, deputy reviews editor

LittleBigPlanet Vita


A few games have managed to use one or two of the PS Vita's graphical, social or interactive capabilities in the way that the handheld's creator likely envisioned, but I don't think any have used all three at the same time. I'm holding out hope thatLittleBigPlanet is going to be the game to do just that.

It's not just that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool lover of the franchise; it's that the Vita is made for the kind of experience LittleBigPlanet could likely deliver. It's got a metric ton of ways to interact with the game, each of which could be fleshed out into crazy user-generated levels of their own. It's the best-networked dedicated gaming handheld around, which could make sharing those levels a breeze. It's got more than enough graphics juice to do the playful art style justice.

A demo I played last E3 gave me hope that Double Eleven and Tarsier know what they're doing with Media Molecule's baby. In a single level, I moved, jumped, trapped, rotated and pushed - using both screens - my way to the conclusion. It was insanity, and it was only the first level.

- Griffin McElroy, deputy news editor

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two


In 2010 I watched Disney artist Fabrizio Petrossi sketch out scenarios on paper involving the likes of Mickey Mouse and his chatty animal friends. As he sketched in blue pencil before going over in graphite, he explained that the most important lines were the ones that we would not see: They weren't found in Mickey's face; they weren't part of his big iconic ears or even his giant clown shoes. The lines that were most important - that defined Disney characters - were those that allowed the characters to express themselves through body language.

He drew Mickey with his chest puffed out, defiant and brave. Changing the body line of the character, our brave Mickey suddenly turned timid and sulky. These lines created so much movement and expression - they made all the difference between a soulless mouse puppet and a magical creature full of life. I see this in Epic Mickey games: The exaggeration of character movement and emotion, the defiant chest puffing out, the big, iconic gestures that convey shock, surprise, fear, and joy. When I watch footage from Epic Mickey 2, I see the lines that Fabrizio was talking about. I see a game with characters that aren't afraid to be expressive. I see a game that puffs its own chest out in the direction of games saturated in muted browns and grays, and that excites me.

- Tracey Lien, senior reporter, Australia

Elder Scrolls Online

ElderscrollsImage credit: Game Informer

Look, you know that deep down - down in the darkest reptilian part of your brain - you care that somebody is finally turning the Elder Scrolls into an MMO. No matter how low the genre is on the totem pole of your interests, a part of you wants to know what it would be like to share that world with more than a population of NPCs.

Companion characters offered you a taste of how a genuine co-op system might function in its world, and the complexities of Scrolls' AI show just how lifelike you can make a game, even one that sets itself inside a fantasy. But people - the living, breathing sort of people - can take that likeness one step further. And hey, the old Dark Age of Camelot devs are working on it. What more do you want?

- Emily Gera, senior reporter, UK

Metro: Last Light


I'm kind of notorious for loving broken games. OK, so maybe "broken" is overstating the point, but certainly "flawed." Metro 2033 is one of the best examples. If you can look past the considerable problems (bullets that are about as dangerous as golf balls at a driving range, for example) you'll find one of the most original titles of 2010.

So it's with no small amount of anticipation I'm looking forward to seeing what 4A Games has cooked up for Metro: Last Light. On the one hand, I'd love to see some of the rough edges smoothed away to leave the sort of experience everyone can enjoy even if they don't have my peculiar proclivity for the three-legged puppies of the game industry.

On the other, I hope there's not so much polish that they managed to lacquer away everything that made the game special. I can't wait to see which way it's headed.

- Justin McElroy, managing editor

Assassin's Creed 3


Assassin's Creed didn't exactly have a banner year in 2011. After the surprisingly excellent Brotherhood in 2010, Ubisoft followed it up with Revelations, which just wasn't a step in the right direction for the franchise. And, by that point, we were all starting to wonder whether the publisher was just going to milk the franchise with quasi-sequels, year after year. And then I saw Assassin's Creed 3 for the first time a few months ago.

The new setting (the American Revolution), the enormous, nature-ridden map and the new, Native pre-American hero all got me pretty feverish for more from this series. That jump from AC1 to AC2? That's what I'm expecting for AC2 to AC3. The promise is definitely there and, by the time E3 rolls around, we should have a much better idea of whether that promise is going to be fulfilled. I just hope it doesn't get delayed, what with the apocalypse and all.

- Russ Frushtick, senior editor

Wii U Mario


My excitement for the Nintendo Wii U can be measured with a teaspoon, but who am I kidding: It could be a four-speed blender so long as it played a new Mario game. I suspect I am not alone. The first party back catalogue is Nintendo's ace in the hole. No matter how cumbersome the controls or outdated the graphics, we the nostalgic fans will line up on a cold November morning to buy the gizmo if it is a means to more DK or Fox or Link or Samus or take your pick from the company's legacy.

Admittedly, that's me cynically explaining away a very earnest love of a franchise. So here's me cracking open my heart: Nintendo just doesn't make bad Mario games. I'm talking platformers. The suspendered one has seen a nasty spin-off or two, but unlike Sonic or Crash or Bubsy, Mario's core games range from great to superlative. With the consistency of a Hall of Fame slugger, how can you not anticipate another step up to the plate?

- Chris Plante, editor-at-large

Image credits

E3 Expo, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Eidos, Disney, Game Informer, THQ, Ubisoft