WEE E3 KINGS KINGS; THE battle for next-generation gaming dominance began in earnest last week when developers showcased their wares at the E3 convention in Los Angeles. Dozens of massive new titles and next-generation versions of old favourites were unveiled. Here we've put together some highlights for you to drool over...
SUPER SMASH BROS: BRAWL
THIS is sure to make you want a Wii. E3-goers were treated to an eye-watering trailer of Nintendo's new melee franchise which features four iconic characters - Mario, Link, Pikachu and Kirby.
Featuring detailed textures and realistic backgrounds, this is Nintendo melee action at its finest. Mario lobs fireballs, Pikachu zaps everyone and Link wades in with his sword.
And there are some new characters. Meta Knight, Kirby's most popular rival, makes an appearance with his golden sword and handy invisibility trick. Pit from Kid Icarus pops up with a bow which fires blazing arrows and then splits into two curved blades.
TOM CLANCY'S RAINBOW SIX: VEGAS
INSPIRED. Whoever thought of setting a Rainbow Six game in Vegas should, if there's any justice in the world, be on a long, all expenses-paid Caribbean break by now.
OK, there's all the usual Rainbow Six elements of great action, teamwork and tactics. But the big news is the setting and the PS3's ability to render it in staggering detail.
The game looks crisp and realistic, with a frame rate that's surprisingly smooth for this early in the development process.
Vegas is perfect for the developers to show off their lighting and physics systems. The casino shoot-out will knock your socks off as coins spew from slot machines and sparks fly.
HERE we go again, holding hands with those odd-ball Nintendo visionaries as we wander off into the weird wilderness.
The Wii's motion-sensor controller has been grabbing headlines and Project Hammer makes great use of it.
PH stars a half-man, half-machine whose single purpose is to mangle the replicating robot hordes invading his future Earth.
Cracking robot skulls is performed by holding the Wii controller in one hand while using the control stick to move your man.
The B button on the front underside of the Wii remote acts as a laserlike pointer, which automatically repositions Hammer Boy's camera behind him.
The button also allows you to home in on specific targets. The hammer attacks themselves are brutal and tremendous fun.
The basic bash is achieved by raising the Wii remote over your noggin and making like you're cracking a skull . . . and that's it.
IVAGUELY remember flagging up Spore about two years ago as being one to watch.
It's still not ready, but when it does eventually hit the streets you won't have seen anything like it.
Imagine a game that starts with single-cell micro-organisms and allows you to control the evolution of a species all the way to galactic superiority. The game opens within the primordial soup, teeming with wriggly prehistoric life. Your creature evolves into a 3D environment where the water swarms with life and insects flit about the land.
PREY is another slow boiler that seems to have been in development for ages.
But if Human Head/3D Realms' trailer is anything to go by, it will have been worth the wait. The first-person shooter uses the Doom 3 engine but there's plenty of original stuff, too.
For example, a large part of the hero's arsenal consists of bio-mechanical weapons that shoot nasty globules.
Another weapon is a ghostly bow and arrow that puts the protagonist in an altered state where everything is washed out.
The demo showed some great uses of the much talked-about portal technology.
MADDEN NFL 07
IF you don't know a linebacker from a lineman, best move on.
Otherwise, fans of the incredibly intricate game of American football will be delighted with EA's next-gen incarnation of this leading sports titles.
It's all in the detail, you see. Recognising the tactical battles on the grid-iron pitch, EA will allow you to concentrate on specific game roles like never before.
Boasting more fluid animation and amazing textures (the grass degrades during the game), 07 is a big improvement on almost every level.
LEGEND OF ZELDA: TWILIGHT PRINCESS
THIS is coming to both GameCube and the Wii, only in totally different forms.
The GCN version will play with the regular GCN controller, whereas the Wii version will use the new nunchuk thingy.
In the Wii version, the nunchuk takes care of actual movement via the analogue stick, whereas the pointer controller aims and takes care of weapons and items.
Reports from the E3 floor say the nunchuk is weird to use at first but you quickly get used to it.
TOP TITLES: Super Smash Bros, above, Project Hammer, left, Madden NFL, below, and Legend of Zelda