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Plugged In

What to expect on tonight’s Spike VGAs

Plugged In

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Game of the Year nominee Assassin's Creed III

Spike's annual video game awards sometimes take a beating from core gamers in forums and chatrooms, but that hasn't stopped the event from evolving into one of the biggest gaming events of the year. And, for gamers, it often brings an early Christmas present.

Each year, the show offers major game announcements — as well as recognition of some of the year's best games. This year's broadcast is scheduled to air live Friday night at 9pm ET (and will be rebroadcast several times over the days to come). Here's a look at what to expect.

New looks at upcoming games. Even if players aren't into awards shows, the VGAs are still must-see TV, since the show is often the launching pad for the marketing campaigns of upcoming titles. And for many people (who don't follow the minutia of E3 coverage), it's the first opportunity to get a look at next year's big games.

This year, expect new trailers and footage for the reboot of Tomb Raider, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Gears of War Judgment, The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite.

Worthy award winners. There's an ugly truth about awards shows: there's no way to satisfy everyone. Some gamers are bound to wail and keen over the winners tonight, but you won't hear too many saying that the nominees weren't worthy.

2012 was blessed with some great titles that are well-represented in the various categories. The Game of the Year nominees, for example, are Assassin's Creed III, Dishonored, Journey, Mass Effect 3 and The Walking Dead: The Game. (See the full list here.)

Plenty of celebrities. Some critics grumble about the celebrity focus of the VGAs, but the fact is they help draw an audience. And Spike has gotten good about honing in on celebs who actually like games.

This year, in addition to host Samuel L. Jackson, previous hosts, including Snoop Dogg (a huge Madden fan), Zach Levi (an avid Call of Duty player), and Neil Patrick Harris (who favors Red Dead Redemption and Mario Party), will attend.

In the walkup to the show, the quartet even put together a music video — with the help of a special guest:

Hosts From the Past Enjoy Video Games
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At least one major surprise. Last year, Naughty Dog shocked everyone with the world debut of The Last of Us on the VGAs. This year, executive producer Geoff Keighley is promising another surprise that "has been in the works for 16 months."

Could it be Bungie's Destiny, the famed developer's follow-up to their legendary Halo franchise? Is Valve, perhaps, going to give us all a heart attack by announcing Half-Life 3? Or is it something entirely new? We'll know by Saturday morning.

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