If you're interested enough in video games to be perusing these scribblings, you likely know that the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles is the largest and most important video game trade show of the year, a heady mix of new games, new hardware and three-day-old body odour.
It's game geek nirvana, where industry giants such as Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, EA, Activision, Ubisoft and dozens more gather to show off their upcoming titles and gear to about 45,000 retailers, analysts and journalists.
E3 2012, which kicks off Monday, will mark the 11th time I've attended the yearly show, and while it's easy to gripe about the crowds and the long days and the force-field-like walls of nerd-stink inside the sprawling Los Angeles Convention Centre, it's an amazing and unparalleled opportunity to talk to people who make games, and to share up-close, hands-on impressions of their work.
Here's a small, tip-o'-the-iceberg sampling of some of the stuff I'm most looking forward to seeing over the next few days. Note to self: Pack comfy shoes.
Nintendo unveiled their upcoming Wii U console at last year's E3, and I had a chance to try out a handful of intriguing game demos. This year the Wii U will be out in full force, as it's expected to launch in time for this holiday season. There will be tons of games to try and lots of new info to absorb.
The Last of Us
The Uncharted series is easily my favourite game franchise on the PlayStation 3, so I'm dying to see what Uncharted development studio Naughty Dog is doing with this PS3-exclusive post-apocalyptic action title, featuring a grizzled man and young girl working together to survive.
Assassin's Creed III
Our friends at Ubisoft Montreal are creating a new hero (a half-Mohawk assassin named Connor) and visiting a new time period (the American Revolution) for the new Assassin's Creed game, arguably the biggest and most ambitious title the company has ever done.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
I've become a bit disenchanted with the Call of Duty franchise lately, but I did enjoy 2010's Call of Duty: Black Ops, so I'm curious and open-minded about what this sequel will bring. Especially since the action is reportedly being shifted from the 1960s to the near future.
The Elder Scrolls Online
I'm really not much of a MMO (massively multiplayer online) gamer, but I frickin' love the Elder Scrolls games, and an MMO set in the rich, expansive world of Tamriel might be exactly the thing to suck me in to this all-consuming genre. Unless I take an arrow to the knee.
I have three appointments in my jam-packed E3 schedule that simply say "unannounced AAA game" -- the companies won't reveal these titles until E3 begins. Half the fun of the show is seeing new games unveiled for the very first time. Unless, you know, they end up being lame. Not every game's a winner, right?
By the time you read this I'll be on my way to L.A., getting settled in and prepared for four solid days of press conferences, interviews, hands-on demonstrations, behind-closed-doors sessions and perhaps the odd party. (And some E3 parties can be very odd indeed.)
While I am but one mortal man, I will do my best to keep you updated on big announcements, cool demos and hilarious gaffes.
Failing that, I will complain a lot about how my feet hurt, how every military shooter game looks the same and how the herd of human cattle thronging the Los Angeles Convention Centre keep blocking my path when I'm making a mad dash to an interview.
Sound intriguing and/or amusing? Then feel free to follow me on Twitter (@stevetilley), check out updates on Sun Media's Button Mashers blog (blogs.canoe.ca/buttonmashers) and read news and first impressions on our websites. Game on!