Five Future Hot Sellers to Watch in the Gaming World

'Portal 2,' 'Battlefield 3' Among Favorites at Penny Arcade Expo

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Penny Arcade Expo is where gamers from around the country get together to see the latest and greatest from the industry. Earlier this month at PAX East 2011 in Boston, more than 69,000 people crammed into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center over three days, waiting on lines in excess of 90 minutes for popular developers such as Digital Illusions CE and Valve Software. So, of the hundreds of games showcased, which are the future hot sellers to watch? Here are my top-5 picks:

5. "Red Faction: Armageddon" (THQ, Volition, Syfy Games)
If you want to see gaming's future, this is it. The "Red Faction" series is an older one that recently made a comeback with its critically acclaimed "Red Faction: Guerilla." The main selling point of "Guerilla" was its destruction engine, dubbed Geo-Mod 2.0, which allows the player to realistically destroy structures in the game by giving the player every weapon of mass destruction imaginable save nuclear weapons. "Armageddon" is revolutionary because it takes this one step further, updating the Geo-Mod engine to offer a hyper-realistic and more concentrated experience for the player.

4. "Star Wars: The Old Republic" (BioWare, LucasArts)
With the success of BioWare's "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," it's not surprising that its new MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game), "Star Wars: The Old Republic," is highly anticipated. Some even think it could give leader "World of Warcraft" (Activision-Blizzard) a run for its money. It will certainly be an interesting battle.

3. "L.A. Noire" (Team Bondi, Rockstar Games)
Rockstar is certainly no slouch when it comes to hit games ("Grand Theft Auto," anyone?) and I doubt "L.A. Noire" will be an exception. Set in Los Angeles in 1947, the gamer is put in the shoes of an LAPD detective who must solve crimes. What really sets it apart, though, is the groundbreaking facial animation system in which real actors play scenes and their facial expressions are imported directly into the game, making for an extremely immersive experience. Combine such technology with Rockstar's reputation for being outrageous and edgy, and you have another record-breaking game.

2. "Battlefield 3" (Digital Illusions C.E.)
The "Battlefield" series is mostly known for the splash it has caused in the PC gaming world. Its signature gameplay consists of large, open maps littered with military vehicles from Humvee's to fighter jets, all of which are usable by the player, and strategy-based team combat. "Battlefield 3's" big innovation is its Frostbite engine which allows for the destruction of buildings and ground geometry to create a dynamically changing battlefield. (Gone are the days when you were required to use doors to enter buildings; just whip out your grenade launcher and do some "renovating.") It also incorporates ANT, an ultra-realistic animation system used by EA Sports in their FIFA series to make in-game characters look and behave like real human beings. Look for "Battlefield 3" to challenge gaming's current big gun, the "Call of Duty" series.

1. "Portal 2" (Valve Software)
A puzzle game with lots of hilarious dark humor, "Portal" has the player using a "gun" that fires portals through which the player can navigate obstacle-filled test chambers. Originally part of Valve's "The Orange Box," a package of five of their games for the price of one, the game unexpectedly exploded practically overnight. The combination of the challenging puzzles and gut-busting jokes have made Portal into a sensation.

Now comes "Portal 2", which means "3" is almost guaranteed to be an instant success because it stands to put puzzle games, which looked to have gone the way of the dodo, back on the map.

Chris Pollack is a student at St. Joseph Regional High School, Montvale N.J., an avid gamer, Ad Age contributor and intern. His mother, Ad Age Executive Editor Judy Pollack, provides him shelter and in this case, a lift to Boston.
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