After 12 years (and 20 minutes of downloading time), “StarCraft II” blazed its way onto computers at midnight Tuesday and kept thousands of people from sleep with its rich story, beautiful graphics and familiar game play.
“StarCraft II” (Blizzard) is a real-time strategy video game played out in the science fiction motif. In this version, “Wings of Liberty”, the single player version focuses on the Terran (human) race as they battle against the Protoss (tech-based race) and the Zerg (bug race).
Game play is very similar to the original “StarCraft” game. Mine your resources of minerals and gas. Build structures and buildings that allow you to spawn people and vehicles. Create a military force that will allow you to complete the mission objectives and defeat your enemy.
There is no variation to that and, in real-time, the action is fast and furious. It is micro-managing to the extreme, but that has always been the draw to the “StarCraft” mythos.
The missions range from simple “capture the flag” tasks to recovery and rescue events. All the while, your Terran forces battle against the bugs of the Zerg and a fanatical, splinter group from the Protoss. There are also a couple of missions where you get to play as a different Protoss group, which was a nice change of pace from the human missions.
There are also bonus missions that offer objectives to get new units and upgrades. Exploring definitely pays off rather than just focusing on the main task.
The graphics are a vast improvement due to the technological advances in video gaming. Colors pop on the screen and the maps offer more details, though those details have little to do with game play. One of the drawbacks, however, is the lack of zooming out on those maps to get a greater overview of the action, so play is up-close and personal.
A Blizzard spokesman said there was more than an hour worth of cut scenes and cinematics in the game. Those movies sparkle with realism and emotion. It almost looks like a Hollywood feature film and inspires you to complete the next mission just to see the following clip.
They also help move along a compelling single-player story that follows up from the first “StarCraft” game. You play as Jim Raynor, a rebel with a cause. The story details how Raynor attempts to inspire the people to overthrow an oppressive government while a Zerg force masses on the galactic borders, waiting for their opportunity to strike. No spoilers, but there is a definite twist in the story that was very unexpected.
The game has to be played on the Blizzard Battle.Net system on your PC or Mac. It is an online gateway that has many features, including matching up players for multi-player action. But don’t tread into that area until you’ve played and practiced. Otherwise, you’ll get very frustrated very quickly.
More than 500,000 players were online at midnight (Eastern) on Tuesday to be one of the first to get their hands and keyboards on this game. Eleven hours later, more than 750,000 were playing.
“StarCraft II” spices up what worked in the first version and weaves it into a rich, compelling story that will keep gamers hooked for many hours of game play. With few drawbacks and the opportunity for exciting multi-player action, it is sure to be a hit with gamers all over the world.
2K Sports made news last month by putting Jordan – retired since 2003 – on the cover of the new title, “NBA 2K11.” The company revealed that MJ will be inside the game as well as on the outside.
The Jordan Challenge is a game mode that allows players to play as Jordan during 10 iconic moments in his career. They range from a 1986 playoff game against the Boston Celtics to the dramatic ending of his Bulls career during the 1998 finals against the Utah Jazz.
Players are required to meet goals inside the challenges such as scoring a certain amount of points, have a high shooting percentage, and of course, win the game. Three regular season games, six playoff games, and one finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers are part of the challenges.
Jason Argent from 2K Sports said whittling down the career of the greatest basketball player ever to just 10 challenges took some time to decide.
“There was quite a bit of spirited discussion and debate among the crew members,” Argent said. “In the end, we chose the games that our players would have the most fun playing.”
Argent also said that his team tried to reproduce each arena consistent with the era in which the original game was played. Even the short shorts make a return in some of the earlier games.
“Jordan’s body and appearance also changes through the years,” Argent said. “We wanted to strive for authenticity – something Michael insisted on.”
“NBA 2K11” is due out on October 5 for the PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii and Xbox 360.
Fresh off their convention in Los Angeles in June, video game makers are setting their sights on a new audience as they arrive at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego this week.
Game makers and developer not only get to show off their best and brightest material again, but they hone in specifically on games that have a comic character tie-in. “DC Online Universe” (Sony Online Entertainment) and “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” (Capcom) have direct relationships to the superheroes and villains from the comic book world, but other companies know that readers of those publications also play video games.
Nintendo doesn’t attend Comic-Con every year, but when they have a game that they know might appeal to the comic world, they step up. Marc Franklin, director of public relations for Nintendo of America said hands-on demonstrations of two new games — “Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies” and “Metroid: Other M” — will be featured at the convention, because those themes and characters resonate with the attendees of Comic-Con.
“We have been seeing these kinds of trade shows attract a broader, more diverse audience,” Franklin said. “Which fits right in with Nintendo’s goal to expand the world of video games to new audiences.”
Eric Levine, Sony’s manager of product public relations, agrees. He said Comic-Con isn’t just about comics anymore.
“The show celebrated pop culture from gaming to movies to television and everything in between,” Levine explained. “This show allows us to engage an audience that is passionate and excited about games, so it makes perfect sense for us to be involved.”
Online game review site editor-in-chief Richard Torres says over the past four years, companies are taking Comic-con seriously and plan to debut new material at the convention. He points out that game developers will also experiment with how much they show and even allow attendees to play unreleased software.
It is all about building a buzz with the audience, he explains.
“You live and die with these people,” Torres said. “Now with tweets, you can just see ‘oh my God this panel sucks’ or ‘oh my God it’s really cool.’ It is a great way to find out where on the cool scale they’re going to land.”
In additions to the games already mentioned, here are some other titles looking to find their place on the “cool scale.”
- “Halo Reach” (Bungie/Microsoft) – The end of the legendary series is coming and Microsoft will be showing off new material and revealing details about the final battle between humanity and the alien Covenant.
- “The Force Unleashed 2” (LucasArts) – This title is set six months after the events of the first game and a year before “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” takes place. Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, returns as the protagonist to use new Force powers and stronger enemies.
- “Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions” (Activision) – Everyone’s favorite wall-crawler is making a return by sending Spider-Man across time and space to keep reality in balance. The game’s story was written by “The Amazing Spider-Man” comic writer Dan Slott.
- “Pro Evolution Soccer 2011” (Konami) – This sports title hopes to piggyback off the World Cup euphoria and ride the wave through Comic-Con. The soccer game will feature leagues from all over the world and include Argentine star Lionel Messi on its cover.
- “Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood” (UbiSoft) – The follow-up to the immensely popular “Assassin’s Creed” game will be on display. But in a twist, the game publisher announced they will be showing off the first issue of a three-part comic book mini-series based off the franchise.
When a game starts off by telling the player, “If you think the menu is awesome, wait until you see the game!”, it is a pretty good bet that it will have a lot to offer and “DeathSpank” doesn’t disappoint with fluid game action, interesting missions and laugh-out-loud dialog.
“DeathSpank” (Hothead Games/EA) is a role-playing game full of quest, side quests and humor at every turn. The video game follows the exploits of the title character as he dispenses justice, vanquishes evil and becomes a hero to the downtrodden in an effort to obtain The Artifact, a mystical item with mysterious powers.
As with most RPGs, questing is the driving force in the game. Nearly everyone you meet will need something done or be able to help you get something done. The trick is figuring out who has what and in what order. Beyond the main goal, there are tons of side quests to be completed, but they are worth the time.
DeathSpank will battle fantasy-themed villains using weapons that are as humorous as they are powerful. A gun that shoots out homicidal chickens, a flaming axe called Fire Axe 2: Fire Harder, and the Demon Poop hammer that does exactly what you think it does are all at his disposal. There are witches, wizards, orques (orcs), greems (goblins) and unicorns to battle and defeat.
There isn’t much variety to the combat — wack opponent until dead — but it is fun. DeathSpank is able to access 4 different weapons at any time and using variety during battles offers up multipliers towards power and experience. However, additional effects and weapon choices are key to defeating some of the stronger enemies you’ll meet.
The humor and conversations are what set “DeathSpank” apart from other games. The dialog trees for each character met in the game are expansive and offer direct and not-so-direct choices on how to get information. Need to fix a broken sword? You’ll find out you need a spicy taco. Trying to rescue a lost orphan? You’ll need a lollipop, cell phone and pony.
During the conversation with the orphan, she asks for the candy treat. DeathSpank tells her the sucker (pun intended) is inside a bag. “Oh, no,” she says. “I’m not falling for that again!”
Despite its medieval setting, the dialog is often rooted in today’s pop culture. References to television and movies are sprinkled throughout discussions. And wait until you see the super-surprise post-script after defeating the main villain.
The one drawback to the game is the abundance of health items and easily found powerful weapons. It seems that DeathSpank is never without something to improve his health (via cheeseburgers, pizza and ice cream bars) or picking up the latest and more potent weapon that just happens to be stashed in a convenient barrel.
That’s not to say you won’t die in the game. Some enemies can kill with a single blow. But even then, DeathSpank gets revived in a nearby outhouse to continue his journey. The outhouses are also used as teleportation devices to get around the map, but don’t ask how it works.
“DeathSpank” is full of amusing quotes, powerful weapons and plenty of action to keep players busy. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, it is a game that will entertain and challenge for hours. It is available for download through the PlayStation Network or the Xbox Live Arcade.
With all the commotion about Blizzard’s announcement to require the use of real names in their forum, then the rescinding of that policy, gamers have been asking more questions about how identities (real or in-game) are going to be used in the future.
When the initial policy was announced, there was a backlash from players about invasion of privacy, lack of protections and fear of real world reprisals for in-game actions. Blizzard took back their policy shortly after unveiling it, but continues to use their Real ID system to allow gamers to connect with friends inside their Battle.net system.
Some players of “World of Warcraft,” “Starcraft” and “Diablo” are confused by what Real ID does and does not do. So Blizzard has come out with answers to some of the more pressing questions.
Q: Do you have any plans to allow players to not show their real name to friends of friends while using the Real ID system?
A: As with any new feature we add to our games, we’ve been evaluating how Real ID has been used since its release to identify new functionality that would help improve our players’ experience. The in-game Real ID “friends of friends” list is designed to give players a convenient way to populate their Real ID friends list with other players they know and trust in real life, allowing them to quickly and easily send Real ID friend requests to these people without having to enter their Battle.net® account names. However, we recognize that some players would prefer not to be displayed on friends lists in this fashion, so we plan to include an option that will allow players to opt out of appearing on their Real ID friends’ “friends of friends” lists. We’re anticipating this feature to be available for StarCraft II shortly after release of the game, and World of Warcraft at around the same time — we’ll have more information for you in the coming weeks.
Q: What are your plans for Facebook integration?
A: With regard to Facebook, our goal is to help Blizzard gamers on Battle.net more easily connect to their real-life friends and family. For the launch of StarCraft II, we are introducing an optional Facebook friend finder feature to help achieve this goal. The friend finder enables players who decide to use it to easily populate their Battle.net friends list by sending Real ID friend requests to the people on their Facebook friends list who have Battle.net accounts. We hope players will find this feature convenient, but it’s completely optional. In the long term, we hope to give players who use Facebook some fun, and also optional, ways to share what they’re doing in Blizzard games with their friends, similar to the optional World of Warcraft Armory integration now available, but we don’t have any specific plans to share at present.
Q: How does the friend finder in StarCraft II work? What’s sent to Facebook?
A: When you use the Add a Friend feature in StarCraft II, one of the options you’ll see is to search your Facebook friends list for people who also have Battle.net accounts in order to quickly send them Real ID friend requests. When you click this button, you’ll be asked to enter your Facebook login information, and you’ll then see a list of your Facebook friends who also have Battle.net accounts. You’ll then have the option to send any of these Facebook friends a Real ID friend request in-game. (Keep in mind that for someone to appear on the list, their Battle.net account email address must match their Facebook email address. In addition, you’ll see the names of any Facebook friends who have registered Battle.net accounts, regardless of whether they have Blizzard games attached to their account or just, for example, created the Battle.net account to make a purchase on the online Blizzard Store.)
It’s important to note that Blizzard Entertainment does not share any personal information with Facebook as part of this process. Keep in mind that as with other Real ID features such as the “friends of friends” list, our goal with the friend finder feature is to create convenient options to help players easily find people they know in real life on Battle.net without having to remember email addresses or account names. We hope players will find the feature easy to use and convenient.
Q: How can I prevent World of Warcraft add-ons from accessing Real ID first and last names without my knowledge?
A: As always, we recommend that you get your UI add-ons through reliable sources. It’s important to note that without installing a UI add-on specifically designed to retrieve that information, there’s no risk of it being accessed. On our end, we’re looking into the issue and are at work on some changes that we can make to help protect against these types of add-ons. We’ll provide further details as soon as we have more information to share.
Q: Are you secretly trying to build a social gaming platform with the new Battle.net?
A: It’s no secret — as we’ve discussed openly since we first started sharing our plans about the new Battle.net, one of our goals is for it to serve as a social gaming service for Blizzard gamers. This was a deliberate and open design decision, driven 100% by the desire to create an even better online experience for our players by giving them powerful tools to compete with and stay connected to their real-life friends and family.
Q: If my account was compromised, what information about my Real ID friends would a hacker have access to?
A: We take account security very seriously, and we offer a number of ways to help players keep their account secure, including the Battle.net Authenticator and the free Battle.net Mobile Authenticator app, available for a wide range of mobile devices. Aside from your friends’ first and last names, no other personal information is shared through the in-game Real ID system.
Q: What’s a StarCraft II “character code”?
A: When you first log in to StarCraft II, you’re prompted to choose a single character name. This is the only name you’ll use on Battle.net, and it’s tied to your StarCraft II license. In order to allow players to select any name they wish regardless of whether another player is already using the same name, we then generate and assign a three-digit character code that uniquely identifies the player. When posting on the forums of the new StarCraft II community site, players will be posting using their StarCraft II character name and character code.
Q: Will the new StarCraft II forum posting name format (character name + character code) carry over into the forum communities of other Blizzard games?
A: Following our recent decision to no longer use real first and last names on Blizzard forums, we’re still evaluating how we’ll move forward with our other forums. Our ultimate goal is still to promote constructive conversations and improve the overall forum experience for our players, and we think increasing accountability is an important part of achieving that. StarCraft II already uses a character name and character code combo in-game, which serves as a unique player identifier and fits well with our goal for the forums. World of Warcraft handles player identification differently, so we still need to determine whether adding a character code system like in StarCraft II is the best solution. Ultimately, we want to come up with a system that makes sense for each community and fits our long-term vision for the forums.
Q: Are there any plans to change the in-game Real ID system so that players will have the option to display an assigned user name instead of their real names?
A: The Real ID system is designed to help real-life friends and family who decide to use it keep in touch with each other across Blizzard games, and our goal in using real names is to ensure that players will be able to maintain long-term, meaningful relationships on the service for years to come. One way it helps make that happen is by eliminating the need to remember who, for example, “Thrall123″ really is when you see him or her pop up on your friends list again after months — or years — of being offline. Ultimately, we think this is the best way to ensure players who use Real ID are able stay connected with the people they enjoy playing with most in the long-term, and we don’t currently have any plans to change the system so it can be used with character names or alternate handles instead. That said, Battle.net is a living, breathing service that we will continue to evolve over time as we evaluate how players are using it and identify new ways to improve the experience.
Q: What plans are there to improve moderation since the use of real names on the forums has been changed?
A: Our new community sites’ forums, beginning with the StarCraft II site, will have an improved moderation system as well as a post-rating system which will help our players promote the conversations they find the most constructive, as well as help forum moderators identify quality discussions. This, coupled with the unique StarCraft II character name and code, will help us to create a more positive atmosphere based on community interaction and accountability.
The game features a lot of what other, more prominent shooter games offer. If you’ve played “Modern Warfare 2” or any of the “Battlefield” games, “Blacklight: Tango Down” (Ignition/Zombie) will seem like more of the same.
The story really doesn’t have anything driving the action. Indeed, it could be easily summed up as point-gun-at-enemy-and-shoot. There is a background story that can be found in the game’s documentation about taking on rogue soldiers, but nothing from the narrative really makes itself known in game play.
Action takes place in a near future, city setting where weapons and armor are slightly more high tech than current weaponry. There are four Black Ops missions which can be played alone or co-op with a buddy. These missions are very linear and slow moving. Bad guys lurk around every corner and seem to know exactly where you are. It is a lot of keeping behind cover and popping out to pick off a baddie before slowly moving along to the objective.
Dying during a mission means starting from the beginning again because there are no save points along the way. Completing a mission feels hollow with the lack of any boss battle at the end to achieve your goal.
The real area the game shines is in the multiplayer action. Seven different games are available, from Last Man Standing to Team Deathmatch. Numbers on the battlefield are good to have to help take out well-entrenched opponents.
Weapons can be upgraded and experience is gained with each battle won. There are two new elements in the players’ arsenal from the normal rifle, shotgun, and pistol choices. A set of high-tech goggles allows gamers to see through wall to spot locations of enemies. The duration of the x-ray effect is only a few seconds and you can’t fire your weapon while it is on.
There is also a grenade that creates a distortion dome so you can’t be spotted by the bad guys. Unfortunately, you can’t see them through it either so it can help or hinder depending on the situation.
The scenery and effects in the game are well rendered. The environments are able to look broody without being drenched in darkness. Enemies crumple realistically before disappearing in a puff of static.
What makes this game rise above other first-person, soldier shooters is the price. “Blacklight: Tango Down” is available for download on the PC, the Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Network for a penny under $15.
The low cost combined with the good graphic and multiplayer game play counterbalances the weak story line and lack of solid single-player action. “Blacklight: Tango Down” is value for the money as long as you obey the old adage: you get what you pay for.
“Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker” returns Snake, the grizzled-stealthy-super-bad hero, back to action in an exciting, drama-filled, and well-thought out game for the Sony PSP handheld console.
The story is set in 1974 in Costa Rica as Snake trains and run a mercenary group of soldiers whose talents and loyalties know no bounds. The mission starts off with Snake investigating reports of nuclear weapons brought into Central America by the CIA. But what really drives him through this game is what he went through in “Metal Gear Solid 3” when he killed his mentor, Big Boss. Her voice is played on a tape early in the game and now Snake wants to find out why his former love turned rogue.
The gameplay is typical “MGS” style with lots of creeping around and taking out bad guys silently and quickly. The Close Quarters Combat moves make grabbing a guy easier than ever. From the headlock, players can hold the enemy hostage, choke him into unconsciousness, or toss him into other enemies and clear the field.
Many missions can be completed without even firing a weapon, relying completely on stealth and silence. A meter lets players know how hidden they are at any given time. At one point, Snake laid prone in the jungle, waited for a soldier to nearly walk on him, before popping up and dispatching him with a choke hold.
The only time stealth doesn’t work is during the boss battles, which usually involved some sort of military vehicle like a tank or helicopter. These segments allow players to really open up with the heavy ammunition and weapons to show off how powerful Snake can be. Use of cover and the high-yield weaponry often bring victory sooner rather than later.
Cut scenes, pauses in the action, are plentiful and done in a noir style of animation. But don’t just set down the handheld console while they play. There are quick-time events, situations that require players to push a button at a specific moment, that crop up even during the cut scenes. Fortunately, the game doesn’t punish the player for missing the initial button-mashing event.
“MGS:PW” is expansive. There are many missions along the main storyline, but there are plenty of side missions that allow Snake’s crew members to complete to gain experience and learn skills that can help out Snake in other missions. Co-op play with up to four players in some scenes is also weaved through the game and available on every mission. There are also stand-alone challenge missions that reward players with special weapons.
Don’t expect to finish this masterpiece quickly. Even if you complete the main story, the gameplay and combat modes will bring you back to polish off all the other missions and challenges. It really is that much fun to play.
“Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker” (Konami) is ninth title in the Metal Gear series, but falls third in the continuity. It is available only on the Sony PSP handheld console.
Nintendo wants to woo hardcore gamers so they brought back a blast from their past to entice those players to the Wii with “Sin & Punishment: Star Successor” (Nintendo/Treasure).
The game is a sequel to their Japan-only, Nintendo 64 title from 2000, “Sin & Punishment: Successor to the Earth.” It is a rail shooter, which means the player goes along a predetermined path in the game with little movement options on the screen other than dodging.
It is, first and foremost, a shooter with many targets for the two playable characters to destroy. Isa is a young boy with a jet pack to hover over enemies, a laser pistol for ranged attacks and an energy sword to get up close and personal. Achi is a young girl who uses a hover board to get around and can automatically lock onto targets.
The action is fast and furious throughout the game. Boss battles, fights with very powerful creatures, arrive often, but fortunately, so do save points so defeat merely means a short trip back in time. Dodge moves are particularly helpful, because the characters become invulnerable when they avoid attacks. Hitting enemies repeatedly without taking any damage increases a score multiplier for each stage.
“Sin & Punishment: Star Successor” can be played with four different controllers: Wii Remote, Classic Controller, Wii Zipper and the GameCube Controller. There is no leveling up like a role-playing game and the weapons used by the characters never changes so there is no inventory to worry about.
This is pure mayhem for those who just want to destroy the opposition. Two-player action is a bit soft with the second player only on screen through a targeting reticule, but not many rail shooters even try for two-player action.
There are two minor drawbacks to the game. Some environments show enemies in a 3-D background, complete with gunfire and missiles, but the action only occurs on a 2-D level. This causes some confusion in targeting or firing on specific elements. It doesn’t happen often but can be frustrating in some of the more lively areas.
The second, and this is a very minor point, is that both characters look almost identical. Indeed, unless you carefully examine them, it is hard to tell who the boy is and who the girl is.
Overall, the game is a difficult, but challenging addition to the Wii stable of games. Hardcore gamers will enjoy the multiple boss battles and high multiplier goals. More casual gamers will like that their Wii can be used for something beyond party games and sporting events.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a Japanese wireless carrier is in talks with game console makers about adding 3G connection capabilities to their handheld gaming devices.
NTT DoCoMo in Tokyo would not specify which companies they were talking with in the report. Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP are already Wi-Fi capable, but lack the ability to a 3G network.
Both companies declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal and a Nintendo spokesman told Gamers Notes that anything about their new Nintendo 3DS specs beyond what has already been shared can’t be discussed at this point.
The WSJ reported that adding 3G to devices has been a way for wireless carriers to generate data revenue and could allow console makers the ability to push software and security patches to the hand held devices without relying on users to initiate the updates.
During their Electronic Entertainment Expo presentation in June, Nintendo said that their new Nintendo 3DS device would be able to connect to other 3DS machines and get updates even when it isn’t being used. No details about how that connection would take place have been revealed.
The WSJ article also said that Sony is developing a portable device that would act like a game console, e-book reader and netbook computer. The company released the PSP Go last year to a poor reception, but has not released any plans to update or redo its PSP hardware.
Gamers Notes attempted to contact Sony representatives for details about the reported new device. We’ll let you know what they tell us when we hear from them.
UPDATE (7/7 @ 7:28 pm Eastern): A Sony spokesperson said they have not announced any plans for a new gaming system and can’t comment on rumors or speculation.
If you are a gamer or know a gamer, print this article because these are the games and consoles that are going to be must-haves.
The Nintendo 3DS, a hand-held console that allows games to be displayed in 3-D without the use of special glasses, took the top award from the Game Critics Awards, Best of E3 2010. Video games and game consoles displayed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June in Los Angeles were eligible for the awards.
In addition to the Best of Show award, the 3DS also won Best Hardware. It beat out Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor that detects a player’s movements without the use of a controller, Sony’s move controller allowing 1-to-1 action between player and game movement, and two “Rock Band 3″ instrument controllers.
“Rage” (id Software/Bethesda), a first-person shooter/racing game, took home three awards for Best Console Game, Best Action Game and a Special Commendation for Graphics. Not much is known about the game itself, but critics were wowed by the look and feel from trailers shown at E3.
“Portal 2″ (Valve) and “Dance Central” (Harmonix/MTV Games) each won two awards for their entries at E3. “Dance Central,” a game that will use the Kinect controller, won Best Original Game and Best Motion Simulation Game. “Portal 2″ won Best PC Game and Best Action/Adventure Game.
“Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood,” “Civilization V,” “God of War: Ghost of Sparta,” “Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds,” NBA Jam,” “Need for Speed Hot Pursuit,” “Rock Band 3,” and “Star Wars: The Old Republic” all took home individual awards. For the complete list, click here.
The Game Critics Awards are decided by representatives from 31 gaming publications after the E3 convention closes. The first Best of Show award was presented in 1999 to “Freelancer,” a space trading and combat simulation game. However, “Freelancer” wasn’t available to the public until 2003.