The games on show at E3 2011 are some of the best in living memory. So you really owe it to yourself to vote in CVG's inaugural E3 2011 Awards... in the Most Anticipated Title category.
Shortly before the show, we'll work out which of these 60 special E3 game previews have enjoyed the most page views, Facebook 'Likes', ReTweets and poll votes (see below) and crown our first victor at the Los Angeles event. Show your favourites the love!
Game: Gears Of War 3
Likelihood of E3 2011 showing: Certain
North Carolina is a quiet place. It's hot, humid and full of heart; its sweltering heat and that famous Southern hospitality combining for a laid-back, lazy atmosphere. Tonight, however, there's another sound competing against the chirping of crickets and distant Southern greetings. It's the sound of the hypnotic and thunderous din of a Lancer rifle, a skull exploding from a metal-toed boot to the head, the telltale tick-tick-tick boom of a frag grenade and a bellowed "f**k YEAH!" from someone who should really know better.
Tonight, North Carolina is rocking to the sound of Gears of War 3's multiplayer. We get the feeling that nearby residents of Epic Games' secluded studio are somewhat used to it. Sandwiched between a quiet hotel, a sleepy cinema and sparse residential homes, it's strange to think that this is where Epic Games conjures up the apocalyptic noise and drama of Gears of War. Design director Cliff Bleszinski stands on the lofty balcony of the studio, overlooking its entrance.
"You know, I really want to put a gun turret on here," he notes, slapping his hand against the metal railing. Yet as interested in Epic Games' security measures as we are, we're here to try out Gears 3's multiplayer. Epic occasionally alludes to the Campaign mode; it admits it remains the biggest draw for the game, and producer Rod Fergusson reveals that Clayton Carmine will survive to the end credits - the first Carmine family member to do so. "I still want him to die," grumbles Bleszinski when we're told the news, as the rest of the team at Epic laugh knowingly.
But for the rest of the day, we're talking about the multiplayer. Something of an afterthought in Gears of War and something of a disappointment in Gears of War 2, Bleszinski realises the need to get things right this time round for multiplayer because in the end it's what will "keep that disc in the tray."
The most recent title update for Gears of War 2 - the sixth in total, for those keeping score - surprised the gaming community that had been playing the game unsupervised and untouched for almost half a year. Epic says that the update is it quietly tinkering under the hood of Gears of War 2 to implement changes being brought in with Gears of War 3. Social matchmaking is one such example, while Epic is also experimenting with the strength of the Lancer and Hammerburst.
There's good reason, too, as the starting weaponry for Gears of War 3 is due for a massive shake-up. Epic quite rightly notes that seasoned Gears of War 2 players tended to default to the Gnasher, known affectionately online as 'that f**king shotgun'. Veterans would switch to the Gnasher as soon as the round began, pinging around the levels like a roid-rage pinball, stopping only to shoot noobs from four different angles before they've even sussed out how to reload.
"It's not necessarily that we were like, 'hey you're playing it wrong and that annoys us,'" explains senior gameplay designer Lee Perry. "It's more that it was very difficult to hop in as a new player and not get super discouraged. Because people are good at playing that way, unless you're good, you don't know how to defend yourself against getting trashed instantly.