Note: This was in the Aug. 24 issue of the Daily, but space constraints caused some content to get cut. Here’s the full version.
This fall is going to be a busy season for video games. Sequels, reboots, and reviving franchises have the potential to keep any gamers busy throughout the fall semester. It may become a daunting task to pull one’s self away from these titles to study for a CHEM 1315 midterm or write that term paper. Here’s a brief list of fifteen games worth playing this semester.
Metroid: Other M- Wii, August 31: Samus is back and ready to kick ass. One of Nintendo’s many mascots to steal the show at E3, the game is a collaboration between Nintendo and Team Ninja, the developer behind the Ninja Gaiden series. The gameplay alternates between first-person (i.e. Metroid Prime) and third-person, involving exploration and combat, elements the Metroid series is famous for. Other M is also expected to delve deeper into Samus’s backstory, and have a more narrative feel than previous iterations.
Halo: Reach- 360, Sept. 14: Master Chief may be dead, but the Halo series is still going on. Anyone who bought ODST has been trying the Reach beta. The full release of the game isn’t far out, and the story, a prequel to the original Halo, will help to set the backstory for the war between humanity and the Covenant.
Pokémon Black and White- DS, Sept. 18: In my opinion, they should have stopped creating new Pokémon after Gold and Silver. Two hundred and fifty-one was pushing it a little, nearly five hundred exist now, an excessive number. That aside, another installment of the classic gameplay that appealed to our generation back in the days of one hundred and fifty, is coming to Nintendo’s current handheld, with an increased use of 3D graphics.
Civilization V- PC, Sept. 21: Megalomania rules. One of the most beloved turn-based strategy games is back again, with a more streamlined interface and increasingly simple ways for players new to the genre to join in, although the more complex options will still be there for seasoned veterans to utilize. Only one military unit can fit in a hex at a time, which sounds more difficult than previous games, but it’d be satisfying to see a map full of tanks knocking at the Persian Emperor’s door. (Insert “300” reference.)
Dead Rising 2- PC, PS3, 360; Sept. 28: American culture is becoming increasingly enamored with zombies. George A. Romero would have even been amused with the original Dead Rising, about a photographer trapped in a shopping mall plagued with zombies and using any weapons he could find. The sequel, set in a fictional Las Vegas-style area called Fortune City, sounds more interesting. There are other new elements, improved graphics and the capability to create your own weapons. The idea of a kayak paddle with chainsaws attached to the end just screams “awesome”.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock- PS3, 360, Wii; Sept. 28: Activision’s credibility has fallen sharply in recent months, as has the popularity of the music game genre. In an attempt to salvage falling sales, the new iteration of the GH series is making some significant changes. The game appears to go after the same vein as “Brutal Legend”, with a story about liberating the “demigod of rock”, and the metal themes are very pleasing, even if the soundtrack isn’t entirely, although for every band like Fall Out Boy or AFI, you’ve got a decent serving of Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, Megadeth, KISS and Muse. Oh, and the story is narrated by Gene Simmons. Yes, that Gene Simmons.
Medal of Honor- PS3, 360, PC; Oct. 12: Not to be outdone by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and going off the success of their Bad Company series, EA has come out with another military shooter set in the current global situation. The new Medal of Honor, set in 2001 at the start of the Afghanistan war, has decided to go incredibly realistic, EA even recruited military consultants to make sure that the game meets their standards. Most of the game will be spent as an elite ops specialist, doing a lot of undercover work and attacking terrorist enclaves.
Fallout: New Vegas- PC, PS3, 360; Oct. 19: For a country that got nuked by the Chinese in the Fallout series’ alternate reality, Las Vegas got pretty lucky. Sin City was spared nuclear annihilation, but apparently became even crazier than it is in real life, with factions fighting a war for domination of the entire region. Landmarks including the Hoover Dam are present in the game, and it will be interesting to see Vegas in the 1950s Fallout culture.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II- PS3, 360, Wii, DS; Oct. 26: Will the Force be with this game this time? The first Force Unleashed was an entertaining game with an engaging story, but did not ultimately live up to expectations. Developers have been working to improve the game’s targeting system and making a story equivalent to Empire Strikes Back, they say. It would be impressive for them to make the story longer, the first game was just hitting its stride when it ended.
Rock Band 3- PS3, 360, Wii, DS; Oct. 26: This game is still quite a ways out, but it has the potential to re-invigorate the dying music game genre. The big question mark is the heavily publicized “Pro Mode”, which allows the gaming peripherals to be used specifically to teach players the basics of how to play a real instrument. Rock Band 3 also includes a “keytar”, a small keyboard that can be used in new songs. Gameplay additions from The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band, such as vocal harmonies will be present, and the entirety of the series’ downloadable content will be playable, at least in the normal mode. Career Mode has been revamped, and MIDI adapters will make MIDI keyboards and drum sets compatible. This is a big gamble by Harmonix and EA, releasing complex new peripherals in an attempt to revive a dying genre, but it could pay off in a big way if consumers want it.
Fable III- PC, 360; Nov. 1: Tom Petty once sang “It’s good to be king, whatever it pays.” In Fable III, you actually play most of the game as the ruler of Albion. It’s a new mechanic on gameplay in the Fable series, you get to charge taxes and deal with all of the civic problems that such a position comes with. Albion can also be commanded to war, making Fable III seem to be a strategy game as well as an RPG. The series has had trouble living up to its hype in the past, but maybe Peter Molyneux finally has it.
Gran Turismo 5- PS3, Nov. 2: Racing game fans have been salivating at the idea of this game for years. Online play will be added to the series for the first time, improved graphics that accurately show damage, exporting of high-def race replays to YouTube, and licenses from Super GT, World Rally Championship and even NASCAR will be present in the game.
Call of Duty: Black Ops- 360, PS3, Wii, PC; Nov. 9: Treyarch’s stepping in for Infinity Ward in the Call of Duty series, and this iteration will be set in the Cold War. There are several significant new weapons for the game, including a scoped crossbow that fires explosives. Treyarch and Activision got counsel from both US and former Soviet special forces operatives. The game will take place at least partly during the Vietnam War, and given Treyarch’s record, requires the following question: Commie Zombies?
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood- PS3, 360; Nov. 16: I loved Assassin’s Creed II, particularly the attitude and bravado of Ezio Auditore, protagonist, assassin, and all-around badass. This sequel, though not Assassin’s Creed III, promises to make other improvements to the game. The game takes place within Rome, and allows the player (as Ezio) to command legions of assassins and send them out on missions. Da Vinci will continue to create weapons, and there will also be multiplayer in this game, where assassins would chase each other, trying to kill one another. This promises to be an incredibly fun experience.
LittleBigPlanet 2- PS3, Nov. 23: The critically-acclaimed, right-brain leaning classic returns to PS3, with some improvements. Along with the platforming types of levels that players can create, players can also create racing, puzzle or role-playing levels. Any levels created or downloaded for the original game will work with its sequel, and full cut-scenes and sound recording are available. Creative people could probably find something fun out of this game.