The Ten Ton Hammer E3 Awards of 2010

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everywhere get excited at the simple two characters "E" and "3." The Electronic Entertainment Expo has become over the years one of the most anticipated events of the year. So it's not at all surprising that when the time rolls around, the internet is ablaze with gamers and media alike talking about, reading, and googling all the information they can from the event.



THE EXPO went through a quiet time over the past few years and many were left wondering if it would ever return to its former glory.



TEN TON HAMMER waded into the crowds this year from June 15th through the 17th and witnessed first hand that the once colossal event had indeed found its grounding again. We saw over 30 MMOGs on the show floor and at various meetings around the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was big. It was beautiful.
It was E3 as it was meant to be seen.



THE BEST part of E3 is that all the developing companies put their best foot forward and we get to see some really cool things--things that we're excited about and we know you will be too. But, as is the case with these things, there were a simple few that stood out apart from the rest.

Whether it be excellence in graphics, gameplay, or just something we never saw coming, a select few who were at the show deserved recognition. And that's what these awards are about.

The Best of E3, all in one place.


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are part of the fun of E3. Think of them as the Super Bowl commercials of the video game industry. E3 tends to bring out the "game" in developers as they often spend months preparing a new CGI or gameplay trailer to show at E3.

This year was no different. We saw a lot of trailers coming in from all over. And that was just the MMOG market. Add to that new trailers for console and single player/multiplayer PC titles, and the list was huge.

Check out this list of E3 MMOG Trailers:

But only one can get the Ten Ton Hammer E3 Award for Best Trailer. The winner this year is...



STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC "Hope"
(BioWare)


Featuring the kind of epic Star Wars action that put the franchise on the map to begin with, the “Hope” trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic was one of the visual high points of this year’s E3. The Ten Ton Hammer staff all agrees – this is video game cinematic excellence at its best.

More Star Wars: The Old Republic E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:


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are as big a part of E3 as the games themselves. Well, almost. In some ways though, they're bigger. Like the trailers, the booths seen on the show floor are a testament to the creativity behind the games themselves.

Of course, some are more spectacular than others. Whether you want to see a giant man eating lizard towering 40 feet in the air, or a giant ball you can step into with goggles and a plastic gun for some virtual reality, you'll see it at E3.

The award for Best Booth this year goes to a company who put a lot of thought into the design of their space on the showroom floor. It was like stepping into a different environment all together. That's the kind of thing that will win the Best Booth of E3 award from Ten Ton Hammer: a booth that makes you forget, if only for a moment, that you're in a crowded convention center. Have a look for yourself at some of the wonderful setups gaming companies had this year at E3 in our photo gallery with all sorts of shots from around the floor. Don't forget to check out the Booth Babes this year while you're at it.

Though the competition was stiff between a few of the booths, we all agreed that this year's Ten Ton Hammer Best Booth of E3 Award goes to...



TRION WORLDS

There were a number of incredibly intricate booths amidst the controlled chaos on the show floor at E3 this year, but the space created by Trion Worlds to showcase upcoming Rift: Planes of Telara and End of Nations was a true work of art. Featuring a full scale life rift, massive video displays and live presentations for both titles, the Trion Worlds booth was hands down one of the coolest visual elements of the entire event.

More Trion Worlds E3 Coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:


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come in two flavors: good and bad. Specifically what we look for for the Ten Ton Hammer Biggest Surprise of E3 is that of the good side of the fence.

E3 is full of surprises too, so picking a winner for this award could have been a real challenge. Do we select a new game? An old game that's improved? An all new combat system? A new expansion?

There were plenty of pleasant surprises to choose from, and we had to pick the one that not only came out of nowhere, seemingly, but one that got us excited with the very thought.

When considered in that light, this choice, too, was quite obvious.

Without further ado, the Ten Ton Hammer Biggest Surprise of E3 2010 Award goes to...



COMPANY OF HEROES ONLINE
(Relic Entertainment)

Runners Up:

The Agency (Sony Online Entertainment)
Star Wars: The Old Republic (BioWare)
THQ is taking the next iteration of the beloved WWII RTS series online in a big way, which is a surprise. Perhaps more surprisingly, COHO is an import from Asia, where the game has been free-to-play for years.  Don't let that dissuade you from keeping a close eye on Company of Heroes Online - the gorgeously gritty graphics are tailored to Western resolutions, the gameplay is classic CoH (taking good care of your units is important, as it should be, since once your units are killed, they're gone), and the item mall isn't of the "free-to-play, pay-to-win" variety, but seems geared to convenience and customization. COHO might have taken us by surprise at E3, but it certainly has our attention now.

More Company of Heroes Online E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:



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are undeniably an important part of any game we play. Sure, a game doesn't need great graphics to be fun. But it sure is nice to have.

With the wide spectrum of different types of PCs and laptops MMO gamers play their games on, it has become increasingly difficult for developing companies to make a game that not only looks great on any machine, but also runs smoothly.

More companies are approaching a stylized approach to their graphics, turning away from the photo-realism that was one day the ultimate goal. Now we get great graphics that don't kill our machines and are as lush, vivid and inspired as anything you'd see in any other medium.

This was another category for which we had a lot of choices to make. There are some really great looking games coming up. But we had to select just one.

So this year's Ten Ton Hammer Best Graphics of E3 Award goes to...



END OF NATIONS
(Trion Worlds)

Runners Up:

DC Universe Online (Sony Online Entertainment)
Rift: Planes of Telara (Trion Worlds)
The Agency (Sony Online Entertainment)
Not only is End of Nations breaking new ground by offering the first true MMORTS experience to gamers, but it has some of the most impressive graphics this side of the MMO looking glass. In fact, End of Nations is one of those rare games where the awe inspiring graphics you see in the trailers are exactly what awaits you while playing. Trion Worlds is clearly onto something big with this title, and we certainly can’t wait to see more.

More End of Nations E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:


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is what progresses the MMOG genre.

You cannot fake innovation. You can try with cheap gimmicks, but those tricks will be pretty transparent.

No, for true innovation you have to put a lot of thought behind your work. You need something that is not only new but something, that when the game launches, the whole world shouts: "of course!" It needs to be beautiful in its simplicity and wonderful in its playability.

That's no easy feat.

There were a handful of developing companies that impressed us with their innovative ideas at E3 this year. Their ideas were fresh, exciting, and genius.

The Ten Ton Hammer E3 2010 Award for Most Innovative Game goes to...



LEGO UNIVERSE
(NetDevil)

Runner Up:

Test Drive Unlimited 2 (Atari Eden Games)
In our E3 video, LEGO Universe Creative Director Ryan Seabury's stated goal for the Builds and Behaviors system revealed at E3 2010 is that someday players will be able to create an MMOG inside their MMOG. It's one thing to make a claim like that, but when you see the tools in action, Seabury's claims seem not just possible, but imminent. User generated content has been done before, but never with this kind of design flexibility on this big of a stage. LEGO Universe's biggest innovation might be an endgame that's limited not by loot or leaderboards, but only by your imagination.

More LEGO Universe E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:


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is, simply put, what makes games fun. You can have incredible graphics, and awesome content, but if the gameplay isn't fun there is little point in playing.

Deciding on a game with the best gameplay of E3 this year was another category that gave us a few choices. What makes for a fun game? Is it action-based real-time combat? Character development? Incorporation of story and lore?

Is it something that would be fun to play solo, as well as with a group? All of these things weighed heavily on our minds as we reviewed all the fun games we played at E3.

In the end it came down to robust customization, adrenaline-rushed combat, and thoughtful environmental design.

The Ten Ton Hammer Best Gameplay of E2 2010 Award goes to none other than...



DC UNIVERSE ONLINE
(Sony Online Entertainment)

Runner Up:

TERA (Bluehole Studio & En Masse Entertainment)
We've been waiting for an MMOG that plays as well on a controller as it does on a keyboard and mouse, because until that happens, we won't believe in a console MMOG (with all apologies to Final Fantasy XI).  DCUO has us believing - finally a smooth, intuitive control scheme for flying and fighting that's tailored to your preferences, whether you game primarily with your thumbs or your fingertips. Add important gameplay tweaks like a revision of the much maligned death penalty (or lack thereof) and a good or evil choice at the start of the game, and DC Universe Online is our pick for best gameplay at E3 2010.

More DC Universe Online E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:




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everywhere are in anxiously awaiting what very well may be the most anticipated MMOG to launch since World of Warcraft.

So finding a Player's Choice award this year really was not difficult.

With this game, any bit of new information or news that gets posted gets gobbled up quicker than candy at a fat kid's house on Halloween.

We've all been waiting for another good game to come from this franchise. And we were all ecstatic to hear who the power team behind its development was. 

An obvious choice for Ten Ton Hammer readers everywhere, and one that is obvious to all other MMOG players too, this year's Ten Ton Hammer Player's Choice E3 2010 Award goes to...



STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC
(BioWare)


At E3 2010, we sensed a great approbation in the Force, as if millions of gamers suddenly cried out in chorus, and it became extremely obvious which upcoming title the fans were most eager to play. That game was none other than Star Wars: The Old Republic, and it’s probably safe to say that amongst fans, the upcoming MMOG from RPG masters BioWare was the high point of the show.

More Star Wars: The Old Republic E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:




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choice awards are our staff favorites around here at Ten Ton Hammer. It gives us a chance to really pick out the games that we felt were something special.

We have many other categories but from a show like we saw at E3 2010 there just weren't enough.

The game that won this year's Editor's Choice was well deserved. It showed excellence in almost every other category. So when the editors sat down to pick out a game for this award it was no surprise that it was almost a unanimous pick.

Graphics, gameplay, story and lore, innovation, surprises... this game had it all.

We're sure you'll agree that this year's Ten Ton Hammer Editor's Choice Award of E3 is well deserved and goes to...



TERA
(Bluehole Studio & En Masse Entertainment)


When En Masse Entertainment first announced TERA we didn't know what to expect. What was this game, and who were the people behind it?

When we caught our first glimpse of the game at GDC earlier this year we instantly knew it was going to be a staff favorite. This fantasy based MMORPG has it all. Brilliant combat, stunning gameplay, delicious graphics... the works. In a very loud world of many online games TERA is a virtuoso to the MMO market, and we can't wait for the chorus.

More TERA E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:




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of the Show Award was a fun category this year.

There were so many games we covered, with so many options to choose from. There were several games that impressed us from the show, some more than others, of course.

The winner of the award stood out in several categories, being a winner in other categories, and a serious contender in others. All in all the game is a wonderful one, and one that we can't wait to dig into ourselves when the time comes. It's a game that cannot be overlooked, no matter what your age. There's fun to be had for everyone. It's inventive, creative, beautifully rendered, and innovative to the point of genius.

You've probably guessed it by now. The Ten Ton Hammer Best of Show Award of E3 2010 goes to none other than...



LEGO UNIVERSE
(NetDevil)


If you think it's strange that Ten Ton Hammer is giving our Best of Show award to a kid's game, it's time to check your assumptions. LEGO Universe is one of a select few online games that inspire players of all ages to be more than a mindless level-grinding achiever. Instead, players will use their creativity, logic, and skill not just to build cool LEGO creations, but also to animate and script their LEGO models, then safely share them and interact with them with their "best friends" and (after moderation) the public at large. Best of all, the build and behavior tools announced at E3 2010 are based on RoboTech, meaning that though the programming can become fairly complex, the interface is clean, organized, and simple enough for kids to use.

Add in modular sets that could make an artist out of all-thumbs editors like us and a fun booth presence complete with real customizable mini-figs, LEGO Universe had us talking for weeks afterward. Put simply, it was a great E3 for MMORPGs - gameplay grew more action-oriented yet more refined and comfortably paced, we saw new sub-genre breakouts in RTSs and shooters - but nothing blew our minds quite like LEGO Universe.

More LEGO Universe E3 coverage from Ten Ton Hammer:





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