Everybody who’s anybody in the games industry — me being the most obvious exception — is at E3 in LA this week, shoveling their wares or having wares shoveled into them. As hoped, a lot of companies saved some big announcements and content for the show, and I’m here to crap all over their hard work. Or praise it. I’ll take a look at some of the trailers making waves and offer my thoughts. Let’s get to it.

Splinter Cell: Conviction

The gruff stealth-action hero is back, and this time he’s Jason Bourne! Or Emo Sam Fisher. But that’s okay. I was never big on the Splinter Cell series because of the patience required to sneak around effectively, so the shift to a more action-oriented style of gameplay suits me just fine. This trailer shows off Ubisoft’s ever-increasing cinematic talents, and I, for one, welcome our new French overlords. This is how you break your media silence on a game, and coupled with the accompanying gameplay demos it seems to have effectively renewed interest in the franchise. Sure there are some people bitching that, “this isn’t Splinter Cell,” but to those people I say, “go play Metal Gear, you jerk.”

Verdict: B+

Crackdown 2

I’ll set myself up for a caning with this statement: “I’ve never played Crackdown.” It just hit while I was playing too much other stuff, and I’ve never been one to go way back and clear our my gaming backlog… there’s always something new coming down the pipe. That being said, this trailer didn’t magically spark my interest. The fact that you play as some sort of superhero-style dude comes through a bit, though perhaps the glut of games with superhero-style dudes is to blame for my lack of excitement about the whole concept. Okay, so I can jump really high, cause explosions and whatnot… fantastic. What else? Here’s to hoping that the new dev team at Ruffian can take over the reins from moved-on-to-APB Realtime Worlds and deliver something that gets me interested with gameplay footage.

Verdict: C

Crysis 2

Uhh… Shards? I have to assume that Crysis 2 isn’t too far in development, because showing off these little flecks of game footage in little bits of metal(?) just doesn’t scream, “our game is almost finished and we’re going to show it to you now!” I understand that this is just a teaser trailer, but that’s a real kick in the nuts. Crytek is going multiplatform with Crysis 2, but this trailer looks much more like fan service than anything intended to excite a wide audience. People who played Crysis to death: does this video actually show anything of interest? I can get burning buildings in a lot of other games.

Verdict: D

Assassin’s Creed 2

Oh, Ubisoft, can I have your babies? A lot of gamers lament the industry’s ongoing shift to more film-like qualities, but I welcome it. These cinematic trailers — which admittedly lack any form of gameplay — are effective mood-setters, and we do get a solid idea of what our sneaky cloaked assassin is capable of. I love the Venetian setting and the atmosphere it brings, despite the fact that the fireworks-and-noise-in-crowded-place scene reminds me of a variety of movies with similar cover for murders. I suspect some of this content will be used in what is sure to be a huge TV ad campaign when the game ships.

Verdict: A

The Beatles: Rock Band

Another caning is in order: I consider myself Beatles Agnostic. I’ve just never really cared for their music… until I watched the trailer and realized that, yes, I do actually like some of their stuff. And it does look damn cool to be able to go through their evolution from cuter-than-pie rockers to acid-tripping maniacs. The visual aesthetic is there, the music is there, the gameplay is there… yep, indeed, this trailer delivers what you would expect. And that’s a good thing. It surely won’t win over anyone who’s not enamored with Rock Band or The Beatles, but I don’t think Harmonix ever had delusions of such an event.

Verdict: B+

I shall be back with more thoughts on more videos, and if I can pry some of my fellow contributors away from the show floor for a minute, maybe someone else will chime in, too.

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