Prediction! There will be a lot of first-person shooters at E3 next week.
Yes, indeed. As crazy as it sounds, games that involve the rapid transferral of bullets (or lasers) from gun barrel to bad guy's head will be as ubiquitous at next week's E3 showcase of upcoming video games as shirtless people in a boxed set of Cops.
What will these big shooters be? All of these, for starters...
Battlefield 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): This year's Pepsi to Call of Duty's Coke. Made by DICE, the people who made the original Battlefield 1942 which was a beloved PC multiplayer-centric game that made war a sandbox for foot-soldiers who could jump into tanks and planes to help their team win. Only single-player has been shown so far; maybe multiplayer gets a blow-out at E3?
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii (?)): The end of a trilogy! The next game to beat up New York City! The game that needs little introduction because millions of people bought the last four! (And the game with a lot to prove since it is led by a reorganised crew of developers who didn't all work on the last Modern Warfare blockbusters.)
Ghost Recon Online (PC) A third-person, cover-based tactical shooter that you can play online - for free. Read our preview.
Spec Ops: The Line (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): This was a shooter set in Dubai that made heavy use of simulated, shifting sand. But the game just got delayed to... mid-2012? So they could have changed this one to anything.
The Ones That Will Include Aliens, Officially or Otherwise
Aliens: Colonial Marines (??) From the makers of Borderlands and the revivers of Duke Nukem Forever. You know, if ever there was a shooter that could benefit from the screen that is expected to be in the controller of the Wii 2, this is it. You know, for the detecting of approaching xenomorphs. Of course, Wii 2 isn't expected to be out for a year and this game has been long enough in the making...
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360): Marcus Fenix needs to find his dad the way Marcus Fenix needs to find cover in this third-person shooter that supports four players in its co-op campaign. Where is that old man? This game gets its second E3, on the heels of a popular multiplayer beta and just a few months before a big-time September 20 release.
Resistance 3 (PS3): Earth's in trouble. We need to fight back. But didn't the hero of this series die in the last game? And don't the amazing technology-pushing folks at Insomniac still need to prove that their PlayStation 3-exclusive first-person shooter series can be great instead of merely good or very good? (We played it in March.)
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): One of our guys just played this brute of a third-person shooter and came away talking about how ominous and imposing it feels to play it. If you want your shooter heroes to feel bulkier, your battles to be more grisly... read our preview.
The Sorta Scary Ones
The Darkness 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) This one's gory and grisly. It gives you snakes for extra arms and a sidekick who urinates on your victims. It also includes quad-wielding... that is, four trigger buttons.
F.E.A.R. 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Long-delayed, presumably unnerving and designed for co-op, this is the kind of game that has you crashing a jet into a big-box container story, then shooting your way through it. It also includes a mode called Fucking Run.
Metro: Last Light (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) It may not be as scary as the previous Metro games, but a new sequel brings us back to a wrecked Russia for more grimy shooting in a scavengers' wasteland. Read our preview.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D (3DS) The Mercenaries third-person score-based shooter from RE4 and RE5, with an upgrade system and support for two-player co-op. Read our preview.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): You're the bad guys. You're playing a team-based shooter against Resident Evil heroes. You need to kill Leon Kennedy. But there are zombies around, getting in the way and/or mauling the enemies who your bullets made bleed. A vicious and unusual Resident Evil, for sure. Read our preview.
The Very, Very Different Sequels
BioShock Infinite (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) First BioShock: in a city underwater. Next BioShock: in a city floating amid the clouds. The new one is the one that includes a gameplay mechanic that makes it feel like - in the words of its lead creator - "you're on a rollercoaster, but you're hanging in mid-air and you've got a fucking gun." Read our preview.
Ghost Recon Soldier: Future Soldier (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Remember when Ghost Recon was a pioneering series based on tactical military combat? That was some time before Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, now a more aggressive contender to the Modern Warfare throne kept getting delayed, to 2011, then to 2012. It looked cool a year ago. Will it next week?
Prey 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360): They done turned Prey into an open-world shooter that we dared call Red Dead Redemption in space.
X-Com (PC, Xbox 360): So different from its predecessor, an isometric strategy game in that, well, this one is a first-person shooter.
Bodycount (Xbox 360, PS3) Little-seen first-person shooter from the creative director of the pyrotechnic PlayStation 2-era shooter Black. This one's supposed to have guns that would feel satisfying to shoot in an empty (virtual) room. It's also supposed to feel a little like a rave.
Inversion (PS3, Xbox 360) Think cover-based shooter with a gravity gun that can yank enemies into the air. Also think: sometimes the enemies will be standing on the ceiling, or the wall. Read our preview.
Gotham City Impostors What if people dressed up like Batman and the Joker and then shot each other? Very upsetting. What if that was just the premise for a competitive, downloadable team-based shooter? (I swear that we are not making this one up. It's real.)
The Gunstringer (Xbox 360 Kinect) The only shooter we know of for the hands-free motion controller Kinect. Also the only shooter we know of that has you controlling a puppet and that's pretty much a comedy.
Rage (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) A post-apocalyptic first-person shooter from the creators of Doom may not seem that odd to you. But a) they've mixed in a lot of driving and car combat, b) it's coolest weapon might be a variation of a boomerang and, well, c) who knows if id Software's still got it or how their approach to shooters is going to feel in this modern era?
The One Deserving of Rumour and Speculation
Halo Remake (Xbox 360) Could the rumours be true? Could we be getting a Halo remake this spring to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the release of Advance Wars Halo?
There will surely be some surprise shooters that will pop out of cover at E3. Expect them. Look out for them. And get ready for these, too.
We'll be previewing more expected E3 games throughout the week...
UPDATE: Dear concerned readers, we decided to save our Uncharted 3 blurb for our Action Game preview. You call it a shooter. We call it an action game with guns. You ask what the line is between shooter and not-shooter. We try to change the subject.