Now that the sangria is completely out of our systems, focusing on what actually happened at X06 this year is a little easier. This year, Microsoft rose above the fray and demonstrated character, future thinking, and some seriously big guns. Sure, some of that was easy given that it's a Microsoft event and there are no competitors. But the big M threw out a handful of serious announcements and then backed it all up with a gaggle of games.
For instance, this year's most hyped game, Gears of War, was playable, and there certainly wasn't any lack of Halo. Just the opposite, in fact; we got three Halo announcements. So much for not overshadowing Gears of War. Director Peter Jackson talked with a mostly ethereal tone about an interactive story-based experience that's not a game, yet not a movie, and convinced some folks while others were simply impressed that he showed up in Barcelona at all.
The show consisted of first-, second-, and third-party games, PC games, and Xbox Live Arcade titles bringing up the rear. All of the titles we originally saw at E3 re-appeared, sans Too Human, which was delayed until next year along with Crackdown, Mass Effect, and Forza 2 (but at least the latter three showed). Approximately 70 games were discussed in all, about 47 were fully playable. Among the most impressive of the bunch, however, is only one real surprise (Alan Wake). The simple criteria for the top five best picks is as follows: the games had to be playable by somebody at the show. Halo Wars, for instance, was ineligible to make the top five, as was Halo 3, because the first showed only in CG form and the latter didn't show at all.
That's it. Onward to the top five…