Shooters dominate the modern video game landscape, as evidenced by the sheer number of them being shown off at this year's E3. Here are console and PC shooters we think are going to be the biggest ones on show.
They may be fresh in our minds, they may have been first unveiled at last year's show, it doesn't matter, if they're going to make an E3 appearance - hopefully in playable form - then we'll go take a look at them. This includes some of the biggest games of the year, like Halo: Reach and Black Ops, and some of the biggest games of next year, like Gears of War 3 and Portal 2.
Without further ado, then, here are the shooters that we expect to be making the most noise comes June 15 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre.
Halo: Reach (Xbox 360) The last Halo game to be developed by Bungie, the franchise's creators, may be the most explosive yet, taking place just before the events of the first game in the series. This time there's a whole team of Spartans, and more Spartans should equal more fun, right?
Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) Let's see how Call of Duty fares in the first game in two years that doesn't involve founding studio Infinity Ward. Black Ops takes place during the latter decades of the Cold War, and will have you and a team of shady types shooting your way around Cuba, Vietnam and into Mother Russia itself.
Medal Of Honor (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) While Modern Warfare 2 moved into "nuclear soap opera" territory, EA is taking a more realistic approach to the modern shooter with its Medal of Honor reboot. The first game in the venerable series to not be set in the Second World War, this game instead sees you take to Afghanistan as an elite US soldier (and maybe some other characters as well).
Portal 2 (PC, Xbox 360, Mac) Can Portal 2 be as quirky and innovative as its predecessor? We'll find out next year, when Valve sends us back into the bowels of Aperture Science. Let's hope there are no cake jokes this time.
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360) The third and final game in the saga of Marcus Fenix won't be out until 2011, but Gears of War 3 will still have a presence at this year's E3. Early glimpses of the game have shown humanity is on its very last legs, so expect things to get down and dirty, especially considering there's now a third combatant, the ghastly Lambent, to worry about.
Killzone 3 (PS3) Spear-heading Sony's charge into 3D gaming, Killzone 3 returns to Helghan, only this time developers Guerilla smartly realise we need more environments to fight in than ruined cityscapes. We can only wonder how the Helghast get around snow and jungles with those masks on.
Vanquish (Xbox 360, PS3) The creator of Resident Evil adds a blistering sense of speed to the third-person shooter, putting the player in a rocket powered suit of armour in interstellar war with Russia.
XCOM (Xbox 360, PC) While hardcore fans of the original X-Com series are up in arms over 2K's decision to make this new title a first-person shooter, the product we're left with is still an interesting one, blending the original's strategic planning with a look that's part Mad Men, part Iron Giant.
Crysis 2 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3) New York, New York. Sure marks a drastic change from tropical jungles, which is the only environment developers Crytek have had any real experience with. It's also the first time a Crysis game has turned up on a console, so this should be one to look out for.
Brink (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) A curious cross between singleplayer and multiplayer, and of parkour and gunplay, has us intrigued. Splash Damage still have brownie points in the bank for the stupendous Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, so it'll be interesting to see how things have progressed since we saw the game at last year's E3.
Kane & Lynch 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) High fidelity goes straight out the window with Kane & Lynch 2, which brings us the return adventures of the gun-toting psychopaths not in crisp high definition, but grainy, shaky YouTube-o-vision. Combine the effects with lots of shooting and the neon-lit backdrop of an Asian metropolis and we've got a game that may not be the best-looking at the show, but may well be the most stylish.
Spec Ops: The Line (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) All we know is that this reboot of the Spec Ops series takes us to Dubai, where something's gone wrong in the sand. Apart from that, we know squat, so E3 should give us our first idea of how the game actually plays.
Bodycount (Xbox 360, PS3) We can thank the brains behind the under-appreciated "Black" for this one, so quiet, reflective moments should be few and far between. Not much else is known about this early-in-development game from Codemasters, so E3 seems the perfect place to introduce us all to the game's "shredding" technology, which will whittle away your cover over the course of a gunfight.
RAGE (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Mac)
The fact this is id's first proper game since Doom 3 has people excited, particularly since it has nothing to do with either Doom or Quake. Instead, RAGE takes us into a post-apocalyptic future, where deserts, dune buggies and mutants are the order of the day.
FEAR 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
The Fear saga drags on into a third game, which is perhaps most notable for the fact horror master John Carpenter is lending a helping hand. Supernatural powers are again the foundations of this horror shooter, whose co-op system might appeal to those otherwise disinterested in a series that's never really hit its straps.
Bulletstorm (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) In case you couldn't tell from the game's familiar art style, this is another Epic game involving muscular men, big guns and monsters. Quite what's going to set this apart from the company's other shooters, Gears of War and Unreal Tournament, remains to be seen. Maybe we'll see it at E3!
Homefront (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) North Korea invades the United States? Seems unlikely, but then, with John Milius (Red Dawn) on writing duties, what should we expect? Should be worth a look for anyone who felt Modern Warfare 2's American invasion was a little on the light side.
SOCOM 4 (PS3) Sony's venerable tactical shooter returns, this time boasting serious support for the company's motion control peripheral, Move. Quite how that's going to go down with the game's notoriously loyal (and fickle) fanbase remains to be seen.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, DS, PSP) Ghost Recon goes back to the future in Future Soldier, which uses its imagination to drop the player on a battlefield full of invisible soldiers and cute little robots. We trust Ubisoft will keep the controls tight and responsive; let's hope they can do the same for their use of made-up technology.
Singularity (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) An odd one, this, both for the fact it's an under-the-radar shooter from Activision, as well as the fact it'll be out on shelves only a couple of weeks after the show. What we'll see at E3, then, is most likely what we'll get from this time-travelling shooter that's heavy on blue sparks and Mother Russia.
Red Faction: Armageddon (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) The series known for letting players wreak destruction has gone underground, having made a sharp turn at Survival Horror Boulevard. Sweeping vistas are being swapped out for underground chambers.
Conduit 2 (Wii) The Wii first-person-shooter from High Voltage returns with a new single-player campaign and expanded online multiplyaer modes.
What's The Trend?
What's the trend? Look at the number of games on this list. The trend is that shooters have been the most popular game for years, are the most popular game right now, and will probably be the most popular game for years to come. What can we say? People like to shoot things, and shooters are all about shooting things.
It is nice seeing more developers spend a little more time coming up with unique "hooks" for their games that go beyond a novelty weapon. Many of these games share little but a common theme of "shooting stuff", and have varied their structure, mechanics, multiplayer and co-op to forge their own path. That's what it looks like from here, anyway. We'll see how unique these games really are once the show's over!