E3 2009 will go down in the books as not only the return of the booth babes, flashy lights, big booths, and new products being unveiled; but also as one of the most competitive and hardest shows we have ever covered when picking our Best of Show titles. There are a large number of really polished–good, solid games that would make any gamer ecstatic to play. Even more difficult–there are a large handful of titles that proved to be the cream of the crop and rise above the competition. The problem is that these titles all have their own reason to be called Best of Show. We talked, debated, fought, and in the end had a very hard time coming up with a decisive winner.

In the end, we decided to not only give a Best of Show but also hand out a few other awards because we couldn’t live with ourselves not honoring these awesome titles. Here is how our awards shake up:

E3 2009 Best of Show
The Beatles Rock Band

From the moments we saw The Beatles Rock Band on stage at the Microsoft Media Briefing, we were hooked on the cool cel-shaded intro, we were screaming and singing the songs while the demo was played out in front of us, we cheered when Yoko Ono came out on stage, and cheered louder when Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr took stage.

The Beatles Rock Band is taking our Best of Show award because, quite frankly, this is the only game we want to play this fall. Sure, there are a lot of other titles to play and pick from. However, when it comes down to a decision–if we were trapped on a deserted island, with a console, power, a TV, and only one game, we would pick The Beatles Rock Band everytime.

There are some future elements still to be revealed. We expect some multiplayer tweaks but all that really matters is that The Beatles are coming on 9.9.09 and this is the title to have in the fall. We salute you Best of E3 2009 winner!

E3 2009 Best of Show – Editor’s Choice
Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is the long awaited sequel to my personal game of the show back when it was shown a few E3’s ago. Shephard is back and he has to enlist a crew to help him face off against new threats to the human race and those good races of the galaxy. We can confirm that Shephard is alive but depending on how you play through Mass Effect 2, he won’t survive. This signals just how important your choices are.

Mass Effect 2 is targeted for a Spring 2010 release and will be available for both the Xbox 360 and PC. Mass Effect 2 is also a vast improvement over the first title. The graphics have improved significantly, the gameplay offers much more freedom and real squad based direction,

This is clearly one of the best titles shown at E3 2009.

E3 2009 Most Surprising
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cel Conviction

We I heard Microsoft prepare to show off Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cel Conviction, at their Media Briefing, I must admit that I sighed and expected to snooze through the demo. I mean, this game has been in development forever and the last time it made an appearance, the title did not wow or amaze.

Dread soon turned into realization that my jaw was on the floor. I looked around at other attendees and fellow staff members and I could see it in their eyes that they too were feeling the same thing. Sprinter Cel Conviction features an all-new direction for the franchise. Sam Fisher is out for revenge as his daughter has been killed and he won’t stop until the person responsible pays.

Featuring many more action sequences, classic stealth gameplay, and a gritty, dark storyline, tom Clancy’s Splinter Cel Conviction stood out as one of the highlights of the show and most surprising.

E3 2009 Best PS3
Heavy Rain

As our industry continues to find new was to make games more immersive and further improve upon the story-telling process, Heavy Rain hopes to succeed where many others have failed before it. Brought to you by the team who developed Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain is an incredibly immersive title, exclusive for the PS3, that stood out by almost taking home our Best of Show.

In our behind closed door demo, something Sony refers to as Breakout Sessions, we go to experience the first demo of Heavy Rain, that was shown off earlier this year, and experience an all-new section that has never been shown in its entirety. This was all played out in front of us and featured the most lifelike and detailed graphics I have ever seen. Heavy Rain shined brightly as a PS3 exclusive and will be the envy of all other consoles when it is released later this year.

E3 2009 Best Xbox 360
Alan Wake

I have been following Alan Wake since the days before it had a Publisher and was planned as only a PC title. Much has change since those early tech demos. In fact, if Splinter Cel Conviction wasn’t so convincing, this would have easily been our most surprising title of E3–if not our Best of Show. That being said, as our Best of Xbox 360 title, Alan Wake will offer gamers an experience that is unlike anything else out there.

Featuring gameplay that rivals the scariest moments of the original 2 Silent Hill titles but tells a fresh and engaging story that takes action and suspense to a whole new level with a very original story.

Honorable mentions
God of War III
Sony showed off God of War III at their Media Briefing and through an extended play during our Behind Closed Doors Breakout Session. God of War III is everything you could expect from a new God of War title and will feature a close to the trilogy and possibly the series. While there are some other adventures that could possibly be told prior to any of the other GoW games, the Producer feels like there is no story left to be told.

God of War III is slated for a March 2010 release on the PlayStation 3 and is yet another hot exclusive and featured title on the PlayStation 3.

James Cameron’s Avatar
Probably the most exclusive title at E3, that was a real game, was James Cameron’s Avatar. All elements from the film and game have been wrapped in secrecy until E3 2009. Cameron began the week talking about the movie during Ubisoft’s Media Briefing. However, nothing was shown off visually. It wasn’t until our appointment behind closed doors that we saw the game and the world in its stunning beauty.

I had to check my bag, cel phone, and practically empty my pockets before I was ushered back to a small room with a 103″ plasma TV. This was no ordinary TV and offered 3D support. We heard about more about the vision and then began to watch the presentation with ultra fantastic 3D goggles. The experience was so much more immersive with trees, bushes, leaves, and more sticking out. The game was stunning and my only complaint is only a few gamers will get to experience the final product the way it was meant to be played.

Alpha Protocol
Alpha Protocol returned to its second E3 as a much more polished and fully realized experience. Developer Obsidian was on hand during our Closed Door demo session to show off the changes to the game and prepare us to digest 40 hours of gameplay and story in a mere 30 minute demo session.

While we only know a touch of the story, Alpha Protocol plays a lot like a James Bond Mass Effect. You control a single character, can double cross others and even be double crossed. As you play and interact in the world, your choices and attitude will not only change the outcome of the game but completely change how other characters react to you.

New Super Mario Bros Wii
As the lone Wii title, New Super Mario Bros Wii showed off how much fun a 4 Player Mario experience can be. In our hands on time with the game, Contributing Editor Dominick and myself joined up with Nintendo Power and our Nintendo PR Rep to play through a couple of levels. We got to see exactly how much fun four players can be but when we stopped working together, the fun ended as we couldn’t complete a tougher level.

New Super Mario Bros will ship this fall and features both multiplayer and single player experiences.

Please not that we never went into our E3 awards trying to come up with a game for every platform or category. We decided on hitting some platforms and categories because so many titles deserved to be honored. So if you are looking for the Best Wii, DS, PSP, or Mac/PC titles, you won’t find it here. That isn’t to say there aren’t good titles for those platforms. They just didn’t quite have enough to make it onto this list as our Best of Show.

By Kaleb Rutherford – 06/06/09

Screenshots for E3 2009: Best of Show