Monday, October 17, 2011

Games In The Pipeline - My Fall and Winter 2011 Video Game Buying Guide

For most gamers, the fall is an exciting time for new releases, one in which we see new titles coupled with returning favorites. As was the problem in previous years, deciding which games to get and which ones to pass on is rather difficult, especially in a year like 2011 in which so many A-list tiles are coming out in a relatively short period of time. Since I lack the funds and the time to play all of the games available, I have had to make a list that separates the "need to haves" from the "nice to haves". This is not meant to be an extensive list of all the new releases come out between now and the end of the year, but rather a list of the ones I am anticipating getting on release and which ones I am likely to hold off on getting until the price drops. As with any list of this kind, priority given to certain titles or titles completely omitted might offend your gamer sensibilities. Keep in mind that this is based solely on my opinion and personal taste. Anyway, here goes... 

The "Definitely Must-Buy" Titles

Below is a list of games that I definitely plan on picking up, either on release day or very shortly thereafter. Some of the titles listed have already been released and they are on my radar, while others will hit the shelves before the end of the year. To say that it's going to be a busy fall gaming-wise is perhaps an understatement.

Gears of War 3

I was not previously a fan of the Gears of War series, however my recent experiences with playing cooperatively have succeeded in winning me over. Mindless bloody action and frantic cooperative and competitive gameplay is what makes the Gears series so appealing to people, and the third installment offers a richer story that has so far been leaving fans very satisfied. My main motivation in getting this game is the numerous people online who I have to play with, since this is currently the game everyone is playing. I am also hearing that it's the best game in the series, so it's perfect for a recently-converted fan lie me to delve into.

Space Marine

I admittedly know nothing about the Warhammer 40,000 universe,  however the gameplay footage I have seen and the positive reviews have really elevated my interest in getting this game. It looks like your typical third-person action game that utilizes both melee attacks and gunplay, and the gameplay style is very similar to Gears of War minus a cover system. However, I love the futuristic style and the enemies look amazing, so this is one I'll definitely pick up once the price drops a little.

The Ico & Shadow of the Collosus HD Collection

I played Ico extensively back when it first came out on the Playstation 2 and I loved the mix of puzzles and platforming, however I never really got into Shadow of the Colossus for some reason. Most gamers nowadays would flame to back to the stone age for making such an admission of gaming guilt, but it's true. Long-delayed and eagerly-anticipated, this collection is the perfect way for veteran players and newcomers alike to discover these unique titles, especially with copies of Ico on the PS2 being rather rare and expensive. Like all of Sony's HD collections, this one comes with enhanced visuals, extras and trophy support for both games.

Forza Motorsport 4

I have never been a fan of racing simulator games, since fine-tuning my cars and building a garage full of them takes away from the enjoyment of racing on the tracks, hence why I passed on Gran Turismo 5. The Forza series, on the other hand, has struck the right balance between simulation realism and arcade-style racing and I especially enjoyed part 3 for it's excellent controls and varied tracks. The forth installment promises more variety in the tracks and the car selection while still keeping the game accessible for casual racing fans, so it's almost guaranteed that I'll love it. There is also support for the Kinect, however I cannot imagine playing a racing game without a controller. How good that feature works remains to be seen.


I have been intrigued by this game since it was announced and the comparisons to Borderlands have further piqued my interest. Rage is a first-person shooter with an equally divided emphasis on gunplay and vehicle combat, with simplified RPG elements thrown in for good measure. The post-apocalyptic wasteland setting has been overused and games like Fallout 3 have probably used it to greater effect, but this looks like my kind of game and I look forward to picking it up soon.

Batman: Arkham City

When Arkham Asylum was released in 2009, it not only exceeded everyones expectations - it blew them completely out of the water. Engrossing story, fluid and engaging combat and a host of secrets and goodies to collect, it stands as the quintessential superhero game of this generation. By all accounts, the follow-up Arkham City looks every bit as promising. Expanding from the relatively closed quarters of the asylum into a whole city is a big leap forward and one that offers a host of new possibilities, Including the ability to play as other characters including Catwoman. The abundance of side-missions available also serve to flesh out the story and extent the game's length, so this seems like an overall bigger and better package than Arkhamd Asylum offered.

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Ubisoft has pulled a "Call of Duty" by releasing three Assassin's Creed games one year apart from each other and many are starting to feel that the series is beginning to recycle itself. Being a big fan of Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, I don't see this as a bad thing and I am looking forward to seeing how the third game ties together all three of the main characters from the series; Altair, Ezio and Desomd. New additions will include a new hookblade that acts as a zip-line and the ability to craft bombs, and the multiplayer mode returns with new enhancements that should keep social gamers happy. All of this amounts to a new coat of paint being slapped over an old idea, but this is hardly a downside for fans of the series like myself.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

The Uncharted series has kept me engaged and enthralled since the first installment, and the second game was a masterpiece by any standard. Given that this is the flagship series for the Playstation 3, it's fair to expect great things from the third installment and this is a definite day-one purchase for me.

Battlefield 3

Although the first-person shooter market is crowded with games that essentially do the same thing, I have been especially fond the the recent Battlefield games. Bad Company and Bad Company 2 offered extensive single-player campaigns and the latter offered an immersive online multiplayer component that focused more on teamwork as opposed the free-for-all that most FPS titles have. I definitely can't wait to see what Battlefield 3 has to offer.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Yes, it's another Call of Duty game. Yes, it will probably be the same as the last one (or three). Yes, buying it mainly for the single-player campaign because I suck at the multiplayer is not a good value. And yes, I don't care. For all the reasons people dislike the Call of Duty franchise, you are still assured a thrilling and cinematic gaming experience, which is why we play games in the first place. I have never regretted purchasing a CoD game and I don't think I will with this one either.

Need For Speed: The Run

There is no racing series that comes to mind that is more prolific that Need for Speed, now eighteen games strong with the inclusion of their newest title, The Run. With the release of 2010's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, I felt that they finally got it right, and The Run promises the same style of gameplay but with a story to bind it all together. Admittedly, the stories that are incorporated into racing games are usually paper-thin and little more than a diversion to be enjoyed between races, however The Run puts some effort into making it interesting. We'll see how this pans out.

Metal Gear Solid: The HD Collection

The Metal Gear Solid series is another fan-favorite that I am glad to see returning in an HD collection, though the selection of games is a little strange. You have enhanced versions of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, both highly regarded PS2 games, and the formerly PSP-exclusive Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. The first game in the series is absent, most likely due to the fact that it's available as a $10 download from the Playstation Network. No matter, this is a perfect opportunity to get re-acquainted with the earlier games in the series. It's been years since I've played the second game and I can't wait to see how the HD transfer turns out.

The "Maybe I'll Get Them" Titles

Let's face it, unless you are independently wealthy or willing to go into debt, there is no way that you can purchase all of the games that are coming out. This requires one to be selective in their purchases and unfortunately some games must fall by the wayside. This is not to say that they are bad games, however with current titles going for $60 each, some sacrifices need to be made. The games below are, at least in the short term, ones that I am less likely to get at launch unless exceptional circumstances compel me to do so. Having said that, I will very likely get them when the price drops or if they go on sale after launch. You never know.  

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Whenever I tell people that I didn't enjoy Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, their reactions range from being puzzled to being downright hostile. How dare I not like such an amazing RPG, but the truth is that I have tried several times to get into Oblivion and it has yet to click with me. Say what you will, it's just not the game for me. However, Skyrim boasts a new gameplay engine and refinements that might make it more enjoyable for me, and the gameplay footage I have seen looks fantastic. It's still going to be a massive open-world game that you can sink hours, days and even weeks at a time into. I will give this game a chance to see if it wins me over, however it's unlikely to be a full-price purchase.

Driver: San Francisco

After playing the demo and being very unimpressed, I wrote off Driver: San Francisco and didn't give it a second thought. However, a few trusted game critics have been praising the game extensively and, upon viewing more footage, my opinion has softened a little. The game has smooth driving controls and an interesting system where you can telepathically take over other drivers, so I might end up loving this game after giving it more of a chance. Definitely not a full-price pick-up, but one I'll get when the inevitable price drop comes along.

Dark Souls

Demon's Souls was a game that tormented me in ways that no video game should. Acclaimed for it's innovation and eerie gothic horror setting, this was off-set by absolutely punishing difficulty that completely turned me off. I don't mind a challenge, but Demon's Souls pushed the difficulty to the point where it became inaccessible for some and grinding for hours with almost no progress became a serious frustration. Dark Souls is, by all accounts, harder and more unforgiving, so I am passing on this for now despite how great the game looks and how glowing the reviews have been.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The console release of a brand new Zelda game is always a big event for Nintendo fans, however I am not as hyped for this game as I initially thought I would be. Chalk it up to the fact that the game relies heavily on motion control, which I'm not a fan of, or the fact that I lost interest in modern Zelda games after Wind Waker on the Gamecube. However, it's a Zelda game and I know I will end up buying it eventually. The game looks fantastic and I'm sure I'll get used to the motion controls, though support for the classic controller would have been nice.

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded

I may be in the minority, but I actually enjoyed the release of Goldeneye on the Wii and I felt that it was a quality first-person shooter that the Wii badly needed. People expected too much and were hoping that it would either be a revelation in FPS gaming as the original N64 was, or a nostalgic trip that brings the original game into the new generation of gaming. Neither happened and people, very unfairly in my opinion, wrote this off as a failure. The "Reloaded" edition is an HD remake of the Wii game and I'll most likely buy it, but not on release. Too many other games take priority over this.

Saints Row: The Third

There have been many series that I didn't get into until a sequel came along that sparked my interest and I have the feeling that the third installment in the Saint's Row franchise might be one of them. I have yet to play the first and second games in the series, mainly due to my being tired of Grand Theft Auto-style sandbox action games, however everyone I know speaks highly of them and I have been meaning to delve more deeply into Saint's Row universe. From the coverage I have read and the footage I have seen, the third installment looks insanely fun and incredibly perverse...early previews indicate that you can use a dildo as a murder weapon, for example. With a new game on the horizon, I have at least been enticed to go back and try to first two games, if not start with the third and work backwards. Given that even non-GTA fans consider this to be a great series, I feel like I'm missing out on something.

1 comment:

  1. Man, was Demon's Souls that hard for you? The biggest thing for me to accept in these two games is that you have to treat it as a gentleman's club community. Join the fellowship of the Soul's club or prepare to die. A lot.

    If you want to do (read that as learn) things on your own you need to be a wizard. But if you are the mortal man like me, a little nudge to the DS wikia page is all one needs to be good at this game. And by good I am merely saying you will win more than you will lose. Losing is difficult if you know your enemy. Also you should play it online and learn the online system. Summoning others to your aid, as well as PVPing others, is an integral part of the end game for some builds.

    Dark Souls has even more integration with online and a lot more facets to master in that context. More enemies to learn. I honestly think Dark Souls is slightly easier all things considered.