LOS ANGELES - The French are good at making many things. Cheese, for instance. And wine. And sweet, sweet love.
Know what else the French excel at making? Video games.
While virtually every major game developer at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles this week has at least one standout title on display, none can quite match the embarrassment of riches being shown by Paris-based gaming giant Ubisoft.
What's even better and more brag-worthy is most of Ubisoft's killer games are being produced at the company's studios in Canada. Here are the four that have our thumbs aching in anticipation.
Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal) --- Set around the time of the American Revolution and featuring a half-Mohawk assassin named Connor, Assassin's Creed III's incredible wilderness environments and fluid new running, climbing and fighting mechanics are welcome departure for the franchise. Watching Connor infiltrate a cliffside fort to eliminate a British commander was easily one of the most memorable setpiece assassinations we've seen in the series, launched in 2007 with the original Assassin's Creed. (Release date: Oct. 30 for Xbox 360, PS3, PC and PlayStation Vita)
Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal) -- During a hands-on demo that memorably begins with a half-naked woman straddling the player's character, Jason Brody, it quickly became apparent that Far Cry 3 has melded the do-what-you-will vibe of the series with a fascinating and disturbing storyline. After a raging gun battle in a jungle camp full of mercenaries, Brody is attacked by nutjob villain Vaas, who stabs him with a hallucinogen-laced blade. The visions that follow are some of the weirdest bits of imagery we've seen in a game. (Release date: Sept. 4 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC)
Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Ubisoft Toronto) -- The first full game out of the relatively new Ubisoft Toronto studio will see super-spy Sam Fisher thwarting terrorist attacks on American soil. The game looks amazing, but dealing with terrorism in entertainment is a delicate balance, and the game will touch on events that have a ring of real-world truth. "There are some good questions that need to be asked and there are some things that should be talked about," said Blacklist creative director Maxime Beland. (Release date: spring 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC)
Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal) -- In hush-hush development for two years, Watch Dogs is an open-world game that looks like a next-generation Grand Theft Auto with an intelligent, cyberpunk vibe, an innovative hack-anything gameplay mechanic and absolutely jaw-dropping visuals. The game will also have a smartphone/tablet companion with an interactive 3D map of the city loaded with additional intel. (Release date: TBA for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC)