Roughly this time a week ago, a conference centre in Los Angeles was witness to a corporate bloodbath the scale of which is unlikely to have been seen before, as thousands of men in suits battled zombies, terrorists, multi-limbed aliens and, at times, each other.
The annual E3 conference is the trade show everyone wants to attend, where dreary PowerPoint presentations are replaced by showcases of video games and video games machines of the future. Consider it the Cannes of the console world (without so much glamour), providing a glimpse into what's going to have gamers glued to their screens while frantically bashing on a controller. This year was no different, with some major announcements that are likely to top future Christmas lists.
One of the biggest stories was the reboot of every teenager's favourite archaeologist, Lara Croft, in a new Tomb Raider (March 2013, PS3, Xbox360, PC) that takes her back to her adventure-seeking roots as a graduate lost on a tropical island, firing a bow and sneaking past mercenaries. With dazzlingly lush graphics and fluid controls, the game could well facilitate Ms Croft's return to bedroom walls and cinemas, although Angelina Jolie might be too busy solving the world's woes to play the role.
Another big-budget game that looked impressive was The Last of Us (release date TBA, PS3), a third-person survival adventure set in a gorgeous looking post-pandemic world. Players control the weary, Indiana Jones-a-like Joel, the de facto guardian of the 14-year-old Ellie. In the same moul d as Uncharted (it's from the same developers), it feels more emotional and tense. In fact, it feels a lot like a film.
The announcement that Assassin's Creed 3 (October 2012, PS3, Xbox360, Wii U, PC) was going to take its greedy Templars to the American Revolutionary War was made several months ago, but E3 offered a glimpse of what to expect - and it's good. Demos revealed that as the Native American Connor Kenway, you do a lot of tree climbing, the odd spot of redcoat assassination and even some ship steering as you battle men-of-war.
It's almost impossible to mention this year's E3 without discussing Star Wars 1313 (no platform or release date yet). While it might be in preproduction deep within LucasArts, the jaw-dropping previews were more than enough to get people hot under the collar. Star Wars 1313players will be bounty hunters in an Uncharted-themed game that boasts expert involvement from Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound and Lucasfilm Animation. Expect shock waves when it lands.
Finally, those endlessly chirpy chaps at Nintendo brought some cheer to a whole lot of death-and-destruction themed mayhem with the launch of the new Wii U (December 2012) console. Going one step further than the original motion-sensor machine, the U invites global interactivity because the GamePad (which features a touch screen, monitor and webcam) allows you to speak to fellow gamers or even work together on the same game from afar, then head to the MiiVerse to ask for hints from others who might have played it. Now you just have to learn "how do you save the princess?" in several languages.