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Big Things to Come

Game On: The Electronic Entertainment Expo

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Who will win?

With green grass still blowing in the summer breeze, gamers have started holiday-season speculation about winners and losers. Fueled by announcements and demon-strations earlier this month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, fans of every stripe have reason to forecast victory for their side.

Always slow to deliver com-pelling content on a new system, Sony finally looks ready to drive out of its PlayStation 3 slump with an array of interesting new titles. "Heavenly Sword" has been compared so favorably with the smash "God of War" that wags have taken to referring to the title's heroine as "The Goddess of War." "Killzone" saturates the screen with the sort of nonstop ballistic onslaught that puts you in mind of placing a metal can over your head and letting someone beat it with a stick. But for first-person-shooter fans, this is the sort of sensory overload that could deliver a best-seller.

Sony's virtual world/fancy online mall Home promises to deliver a new level of interactive 3-D social life, spiced up with the option to buy everything from clothes for your digital self to upgrades and levels for your favorite games. And, while it's not due until next year, LittleBigPlanet's genre-bending in "Pinball Construction Set," "Super Mario" and "Pikmin" proves that the PS3 has plenty of exciting new stuff in store.

Microsoft continues to impress gamers with a steady stream of quality. Leading the pack, "Halo 3" brings this popular franchise back to life for a rousing final chapter in its trilogy of games.

Meanwhile, Nintendo has started to dream about returning to the No. 1 position with the continued success of its DS and Wii machines. Games like "Hannah Montana: Music Jam" don't stir the hard-core gamer's heart, but they do promise to sell millions of copies to players looking for something different. And, though the product lacks a definite street date, demonstrations of Wii Fit - with a device that looks like a bathroom scale and detects your balance - push Nintendo into the spotlight. That surprise offering is sure to appeal as much to Grandma as to any teen gamer.

In the past, picking a winner in the gaming-console war was as simple as figuring out who had the most interesting exclusive titles. Now, with potential blockbusters such as "Rock Band," "Bioshock" and "Fallout 3" showing up on multiple platforms, and popular franchises such as "Madden NFL" and "Guitar Hero" returning to do multi-console duty, the gaming goodness seems to crop up all over.

Even the PC, maligned for years as losing its grip, gets exciting new content. "SimCity Societies" mixes up the classic formula and comes up with something as exciting and attractive to players as the original series. Meanwhile, fans of multi-player action should find that "Enemy Territory: Quake Wars" delivers a full jolt of timeless

"Quake" play.

In the race for the prize, the real winner looks like the consumer.

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