In just a couple of days, E3 will reveal just about every major game you will be able to play in the next year. For action-adventure (and RPG) fans, these are the big ones expected at the big show:
A note about genres: The list below may encompass a broader range than some gamers might expect. I'm using the action-adventure term liberally, including both those games that I believe will be driven by a story and those that will be driven by non-shooting action. That means role-playing games are listed alongside God-of-War-types. What unifies these games is a sense that they propel the player through an experience scripted by a development team. And they are not all about shooting.
Splinter Cell: Conviction - This game used to be about a bearded Sam Fisher elbowing his way through Washington D.C. Now? There's this trailer. (Xbox 360 only, unless someone says otherwise.)
Assassin's Creed 2 - A new assassin doing his work in Leonardo Da Vinci's Italy. Also recently trailered. (PS3, Xbox 360 and possibly the Wii, plus a new PSP game.)
Dante's Inferno - EA's accused God of War clone that adapts one of the oldest literary classics, the Divine Comedy. (PS3, Xbox 360. Preview here.)
God of War III - Sony's accused Dante's Inferno clone (OK, not really) has growling protagonist Kratos fighting on the backs of titans in what may be the biggest PS3 exclusive of 2010. (PS3. Impressions here.)
Uncharted 2 - Some may think of the return of Nathan Drake as a shooter, but the depth of character and adventure of the first Uncharted makes this major holiday 2009 title from Naughty Dog a great fit for today's list. Unusual among the games listed here is that it is announced to have co-op and competitive multiplayer modes. (PS3, Impressions here.)
Heavy Rain - The latest hope for sophisticated storytelling in games, it's another dark, thriller mystery from the makers of Indigo Prophecy. (PS3. Gameplay footage here.)
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks - Cartoon Link's on a train instead of a boat and possibly armed with a bow, a boomerang and some bombs? (Nintendo DS)
Batman: Arkham Asylum - Pushed back to late August, impressive in previews, features a Batman exceptional at both brawling and detective work. (PC, PS3, Xbox 360. Preview here).
Final Fantasy 13 - Square-Enix's role-playing game. Perhaps you've heard of it? (PS3, Xbox 360)
Dissidia Final Fantasy - It's a Final Fantasy mash-up! (PSP, Import review here.
Dragon Age: Origins - BioWare's spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate. (PC, PS3 Xbox 360. Preview here.)
Mass Effect 2 - BioWare's successor to Mass Effect. (PC, Xbox 360)
Spyborgs - Capcom's flashy co-op Wii brawler, with a special scan-the-screen-with-the-Wii-pointer gimmick. (Wii. Preview here.)
Brutal Legend - Tim Schafer and team take their video game comedy expertise to a heavy-metal-ized open world of guitar-swinging, headbanger-commanding, road-raging and demon-slaying. (PS2, Xbox 360. Preview here.)
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days - Square-Enix's first Disney-Final-Fantasy mash-up for the DS. (Nintendo DS, Trailer here.)
Alpha Protocol - Development studio Obsidian makes what might be too simply described as a spy-themed Mass Effect, but you get the idea. (PC, PS3, Xbox 360. Impressions from the last E3.)
Fallout: New Vegas - Perhaps Bethesda will have more to show at E3 of this Obsidian-developed Fallout 3 spin-off? (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, presumably.)
Ghostbusters - I probably should have put this in the shooters list. I forgot. (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP. Preview here.)
No More Heroes 2 - The only Nintendo Wii game with bathroom breaks, an unlicensed lightsaber and a sexy lady who speaks to you through your Remote's speaker is back with a sequel. (Wii)
Muramasa: The Demon Blade - Developer Vanillaware's latest, prettiest side-scrolling action title, from Ignition. (Wii. Gorgeous screenshots here.)
Mini Ninjas - From the makers of Hitman, a family-appropriate game about some cute ninjas. Really. (Wii)
Spore Hero - EA brings Spore to a home console, focusing on the creature stage and making it something of an action-RPG. (Wii)
The Saboteur - Pandemic's long-in-the-making World War II adventure starring a resistance fighter in occupied France who must defeat Nazis in a game world drained of colour. (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Bayonetta - Platinum Games puts a pioneer of Devil May Cry to work making an even more over-the-top action game, starring a woman who wears little more than eyeglasses and her very long hair. (PS3, Xbox 360.)
Nier Square-Enix's newly-revealed possible answer to the likes of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta. (PS3, Xbox 360)
Mafia 2 - Recently delayed to some time after Halloween, the decade-spanning and genuinely mature mobster drama still has promise to wow E3 with its Madmen-esque 1950s visual style. (PC, PS3, Xbox 360. Preview here.)
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 - Lots of Marvel characters. Fighting. (PS3, Xbox 360 Wii, PS2, PSP, Nintendo DS)
Pirates of the Caribbean - An action role-playing game from Propagana Games, the makers of the Turok re-make. (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest - The creators of Battalion Wars make a kid-friendly re-telling of the Lord of the Rings Saga. (Wii, with PS2, PSP and DS versions too. Wii preview here.)
New Jak and Daxter - Announced for the new PSP. (PSP)
Alan Wake - Ah, the mystery game of the Xbox 360. Moody adventure from the makers of Max Payne. Not seen publicly in a couple of years. Shall it return? (Xbox 360)
Dead Rising 2 - Supposedly not coming to E3 because of health concerns related to the H1N1 virus, it still seems like its zombies-in-casino-town angle will get shown at the big show via a trailer like this one. (PC, PS3, Xbox 360).
Trico - This would be the new game from Team Ico that had a somewhat odd trailer leak recently. (PS3)
Beyond Good and Evil 2 - Not slated for 2009, but this sequel to the cult hit action game starring heroine Jade and some animal friends may have a trailer at E3 that looks kinda like this.
Hideo Kojima's project - What a tease this guy is. Was he referring to that Metal Gear PSP game?
Some sort of Mario/Zelda/etc from Nintendo - Because Nintendo can't go two E3s in a row without a major single-player adventure for its hardcore fans, right?
OMISSIONS: Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony not included in this list (although I guess I just did) because development studio Rockstar is skipping E3. Any other games deserving of inclusion aren't here because I forgot them.
What's the trend here?
There isn't much of a trend here, except that action-adventure games continue to tend to be single-player. While almost every shooter gets support for multiple players, most of the games listed here are announced as being playable for just one.