The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo takes center stage this week in Los Angeles. Here are five local companies that could make a splash at the conference, considered the key event for the videogame industry.
Insomniac North Carolina
Insomniac Games, creators of the "Ratchet & Clank," "Resistance" and "Spyro" games, opened a branch in Durham a few years ago. Now the first game to come out of the studio is almost ready.
"Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One," a four-player cooperative adventure, looks to be Sony's big family-friendly title this holiday season, and what's more, cooperative gameplay is just fun. It hasn't really been in the Ratchet series before, though, so it will be interesting to see how it's implemented.
Here's what we know: Both online and offline play will be available and, taking a cue from the popular Lego series, players can drop in and out at any time.
Follow them on Twitter @insomniacgames or on Facebook.
The Morrisville developer's "Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon," releasing in July, is a sequel to "Earth Defense Force 2017," a 2007 release on Xbox 360 that gained a cult following. This is their first time at the helm of the series, but it looks like they've embraced its focus on pure arcade game play.
The previous installment had an appeal reminiscent of a B-movie, with random soldiers shooting random alien beasts and generally not caring about why. In Insect Armageddon, the enemies are many-legged creepy-crawlies, and this seems to fit right in. More importantly, though, the game focuses on its cooperative mode and just like B-movies, this game is more fun with friends.
Vicious Cycle was born in April 2000, out of the ashes of the MicroProse development studio in Chapel Hill. It now makes interactive software for PlayStation, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo GameCube and Nintendo Ds.
Follow its action at www .viciouscycleinc .com , www .monkeybargames .com and www .viciousengine .com .
It's been a big year for Epic. Its "Unreal Engine" has been developing quite a presence in the mobile scene. It published visceral shooter "Bulletstorm" from studio, People Can Fly, and they've been gearing up for the September release of "Gears of War 3."
The hype will probably reach a fever pitch in Los Angeles, as Gears 3, like its predecessors, will be one of the two or three largest 360 releases of the year. That said, Epic's certainly capable of developing two games at once, and with Gears in the final polishing stages, E3 could reveal what they're working on next. A new Unreal Tournament game? Something for Kinect? How about a Jazz Jackrabbit revival?
The company, based in Cary, has been around for 20 years, and now has studios in Warsaw, Poland (People Can Fly), Provo, Utah (Chair Entertainment), Shanghai (Epic Games China), Seoul (Epic Games Korea) and Tokyo (Epic Games Japan).
See what they're up to at epicgames .com .
The MMO maker, known recently for the brutal, mature "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures," has been working on "The Secret World" for a few years now. The massively-multiplayer space is a tough one to succeed in, but a publishing deal with Electronic Arts announced earlier this year certainly gives it a fighting chance. The release date isn't set yet, though whenever it is, it would likely be supported by Funcom's U.S. office in Durham. Can it break through in a space dominated by World of Warcraft and avoid the shadow of Star Wars: The Old Republic's anticipated release?
Get updates at funcom .com/ .
"Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" was a focus of Ubisoft's 2010 show, and we haven't heard much since. While the game's not slated to release until 2012, we should still see more from the game's stealth combat and futuristic tech. Future Soldier's "optical camouflage" essentially makes you invisible, and that can't be anything but cool.
But how does it fit into the flow of the game? All we know is that the team in Morrisville has been working for a while now.
Find more details at redstorm .com/ .