Last year, I thought the 2003 Electronic Entertainment Expo was a little bit boring. While there were some really good titles shown, it was relatively easy to narrow your list of exceptional titles down to a list of five. This year, however, is a different story. I had a great time at the show and discovered that there are a multitude of exceptional titles for each and every platform. Here is my list of the Best of Show for E3 2004:

(This list of five is shown in no particular order)

Darkwatch – Sammy – (PS2 & Xbox)

Sammy was showing a demo session of their eagerly anticipated First Person Shooter/Third Person hybrid action title called Darkwatch. In the game, you control a vampire cowboy and attempt to save civilians. While the title won’t be coming out until 2005 and to see it you had to wait in line at E3, the game is shaping up to be one of the best looking titles in 2005. I was completely shocked at how awesome the game looked and played. In fact, at the end of the demo session, we were told we just saw the PS2 version. I can’t wait to see how the Xbox version looks.

Fable – Microsoft – (Xbox)

The long-awaited title from Lionhead Studios, a First Party Developer for Microsoft, is finally nearing completion. The game is set in a world where you control a young lad. As he grows older and adventures through the world, your actions will make him pure and good or they can make him evil. The best part about this game is that there is so much to see and do that you could spend hours doing stuff not related to the storyline. Microsoft assures us that this one will be in our hot little hands in 2004. Lets hope they don’t delay it again.

Doom 3 – Activision – (Xbox & PC)

Have you ever been scared? I mean, really, really frightened? I recall a few times this has happened to me when gaming. Clock Tower II, Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, Resident Evil, and the original Doom. Yup, all the way back then, I was freaked out by id’s classic First Person Shooter. A funny thing happened to me at E3 2004 though. I found myself in a dark room with the first level for the Xbox and some headphones. I was terrified. This is what gaming is about. A great environment, horror mixed with First Person Shooter gameplay, and a classic redone like only id can do. Count me in this summer for the release of the game on the PC and whenever it ships for the Xbox.

Matrix Online – Warner Bros Interactive – (PC)

In a world set right after the last movie, you must choose your side and help continue the storyline of the Matrix world. This game is jam packed with features that will leave you asking yourself, why should I play another MMOG? With the ability to change your skills everytime you log on, players will probably only choose to play one character in the new war in the Matrix. Warner Bros. is expecting this one to release in 2004 and be ready for the game’s story to take many twists and turns. Also, the rumor that this game will lead into another movie is not true according to the representative at Warner Bros.

Jade Empire – BioWare – (Xbox)

I thought about removing Jade Empire from my top five list. Why? Well it isn’t because the title doesn’t look or play well. I contemplated this out of anger. When meeting with BioWare I was told that Microsoft, the Publisher for the game, has pushed the release date all the way back to February/March of 2005. This is because Microsoft is publishing Halo 2 and Fable during the 2004 holiday season and they feel like the market will be very crowded. To ensure better sales for all games, Jade Empire has to wait to be released. Trust me, this game is really good and is worth waiting for. However, it just makes me a bit annoyed that a finished BioWare title will be sitting on the shelf for months just so it doesn’t crowd the market.

Other titles that just missed being included on my top five list:

Prince of Persia 2 – Ubi Soft – (GameCube, Xbox, & PS2)

After last year’s hit Prince of Persia, Ubi Soft has decided to change the series a little bit. Instead of creating a standard sequel, they are trying to innovate the series with new moves, a bloodier and darker story, and upgraded visuals. It was hard to leave this one out of my top 5 and it just missed being included.

Splinter Cell 3 – Ubi Soft – (Xbox)

While nothing is known yet about multiplayer modes, we do know a Co-Op mode exists. This alone should make this title be a huge seller in 2004. The visuals are upgraded big time and you won’t believe this is running on an Xbox.

Champions Call to Arms – Sony Online Entertainment – (PS2)

Although the original was a bit buggy, Champions Call to Arms looks like it may have resolved all of those problems and added in better graphics, gameplay, and more fun.

Call of Cthulhu – Bethesda – (Xbox & PC)

My biggest surprise from last year’s show is back at E3 2004 and looks ready to bring an awesome mix of horror and adventure gameplay to the Xbox and PC.

Missing – DreamCatcher – (PC)

Take the Blair Witch Project and mix it with an adventure game and you will get the Missing from DreamCatcher.

Dungeon Siege II – Microsoft – (PC)

More great RPG action that looks to be much improved over the first title and the expansion pack.

Resident Evil 4 – Capcom – (GCN)

RE has never looked this good. Prepare to witness the new standard in the survival horror genre.

Like I mentioned above, E3 2004 was a year for great games. It was the first year where I actually struggled picking Best of the Show titles. While some may be upset that a game like Halo 2 or Half-Life 2 isn’t here, these are the titles I found to be the most enjoyable during my visit to E3 2004.

By Kaleb Rutherford – 05/17/04

Screenshots for E3 2004 Best of Show