We’ve covered the surprises, the disappointments and the no-shows of this year’s E3 expo, finally we get to the triumphs, the moments that left us grinning like the Cheshire Cat or else falling off the edge of our seat.

There are our games of show (a close call between The Last of Us and Dishonored), but first we start out with the publisher which every console manufacturer wanted a piece of: France’s very own Ubisoft.

Ubisoft

Sometimes you can see how well third-party publishers are doing by how keen the big three console manufacturers are to showcase said publishers games at their own show.

Ubisoft were the hands-down winners here as titles Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Assassin’s Creed 3, Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation (for PSVita), Far Cry 3, and ZombieU were all demonstrated across the suite of press briefings, demonstrating just how coveted Ubisoft’s current stable of titles really is.

With such class still to come between Now and March 2013, and the next-gen Watch Dogs also garnering its own share of attention, there’s many a reason to the cheerful at the French publishing house just now.

Halo 4′s introduction at the Microsoft press brief

Without out doubt the most dramatic start to any of this year’s press briefings was our transportation to space as Microsoft dimmed all but the most twinkling of lights to take us into the depths of space.

The sudden burst of red light which scanned the crowd and ushered in the Prometheans – the new bad guys for Master Chief to get to grips with – only improving the initial ambience. Now that’s how to start a party.

The non-confirmed next-gen

Games sites always try to perpetuate the message that graphics don’t matter and it’s gameplay that counts. It’s a message which makes lots of sense, certainly applying to a great many games, but after witnessing the so-called next generation’s visual benchmarks in the shape of LucasArts’ Star Wars 1313 and Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs all that might be about to change.

We’ve long been advocates of the longevity of the current generation of consoles; certainly the games in this very article, and a great many aside, are graphically magnificent and way beyond anything we’d ever have considered possible a kids, but now we’ve seen the future – and it ‘looks good’ as Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy might put it.

Trying to describe quite why both titles look so exciting is tricky, it’s not like the visual disparity is the leap that was made between PS2 and PS3 for example, but the extra clarity is certainly more captivating, as character’s expressions become easier to read and action sequences ever more staggering.

To think, these are but two or the myriad of next-gen titles no doubt being worked on; the mind boggles at what we might expect when the rest of the major players show their hands.

Dishonored

The word “ambitious” doesn’t begin to do justice to the variety and scope on offer within Bethesda and Arkane Studios’ steampunk inspired first-person adventure, drawing heavily from Thief and Deus Ex – Arkane being after all made up of former Ion Storm employees – as well as Hitman, BioShock.

Players assume the role of Corvo Atano, a former royal bodyguard framed for the queen’s murder, so leaving him seeking revenge. Presumably the people who organised the frame-up job failed to factor in the fact that Atano has powers to rival Dr. Strange.

The game offers an almost infinitesimal array of ways in which to infiltrate enemy strongholds and off your targets, with teleportation, possession, time manipulation and more all possible in myriad combinations – and if all else fails there’s always the more traditional crossbow bolt to the head method.

Dishonored would have been our pick for game of show if it wasn’t for…

The Last of Us

The Last of Us, and the last of our picks of the highlights of this year’s E3 show, is for us the game of the entire show. Naughty Dog’s latest third person adventure is tantalisingly different from their best-selling Uncharted series, a more considered and perhaps slower-paced outing but, from what we’ve seen, perhaps even more intense, and certainly its technical superior.

The tale of Joel and Ellie, two survivors of a post-apocalyptic event, is about as close to one of my favourite novels, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, as I’m ever likely to see get published in an interactive from, and is lit up by Naughty Dog’s hallmark dialogue, as Joel attempts to reassure the young Ellie, who in return is on hand to keep a positive spin on things as well as aid Joel when gangs of roaming pockets of humanity get the drop on him.

Perhaps most impressive was the variation and experimentation the game offers, with just the one section of the game shown at E3 I was lucky enough to see that same section played out in two completely contrasting ways, with the developer confirming that there is no “one” way to handle the encounter.

“Astonishing” is the only word that seems to do The Last of Us justice.