Fall (or spring in the southern hemisphere) is supposed to be the best time of the video game year, the entrée and the dessert after the first nine month's meagre salad and interactive appetiser. But in 2010, winter and spring were bountiful and fall is at risk of seeming pathetic. Could it be? These are your fall games of 2010.
Dead Rising 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) What It Is: Biker vs zombies, zombies and more zombies. Chuck Greene has zombies to slay. He's also got a fake Las Vegas stocked with chainsaws, roulette wheels, bowling balls - and anything else you could expect to find - with which to rend them into smaller and smaller zombie parts. The sequel adds two-player co-op and the ability to duct-tape weapons objects together into more undeadly weapons. The game gets a tilt for the Xbox 360 thanks to exclusive preview and postscript downloadable content. Should You Play It: This is the slightly kinder Dead Rising than the hard-to-save first one, but with a new development team at the helm, this goes in the Wait For The Review category.
Final Fantasy XIV (PC, PS3 Version coming in 2011) What It Is: Battling, gathering, and crafting in a fantasy realm with thousands of your closest friends. This follow-up to Final Fantasy XI is a massively-multiplayer romp through the lands of Eorzea. The ability to change jobs on the fly gives players the chance to sample every profession on a single character. Should You Play It: This is a dense MMO with some overly complicated mechanics. With the full release still a few days away, waiting to see how the launch pans out might be prudent. Follow our Final Fantasy MMO Logs to see how our adventures in Eorzea pan out.
And There's More: Another year brings another Guitar Hero, this time Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii). In sports, EA promotes 11-player co-op on the console versions of FIFA 11 (DS, PSP, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360). Tecmo Koei delivers a Japanese-game-that-kinda-looks-like-Gears-of-War in Quantum Theory (PS3, Xbox 360), Nintendo possibly thanks Tecmo for making Metroid: Other M by releasing Samurai Warriors 3 (Wii). Square-Enix strolls out mech sequel Front Mission Evolved (PC, Xbox 360). NIS America brings Gust's popular Atelier role-playing game series to the PlayStation 3 with Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3).
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (PS3, Xbox 360) What It Is: European development studio Mercury Steam, with an unclear amount of assistance from team Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear renown, try to turn the classic vampire-killing Castlevania series into a three-dimensional game. They've done this by creating a chapter-based, adventure game that appears to mash up God of War, Devil May Cry, Uncharted and Shadow of The Colossus while retaining some of the whip-and-magic magic of classic Castlevania. Should You Play It: This is one of those games conventional wisdom said was supposed to stink. But previews of the game have been positive. Could be good.
Fable III (Xbox 360) What It Is: You're a guy. You have a brother. Your dad was a hero and king. The kingdom was ruined. You spend half the game as you would a standard Fable game, doing dashing deeds and probably farting at girls who then fall in love with you. Plus you promise what you'd do if you were the ruler. In the back half of the game, you are the ruler. Time to come through on those promises. Should You Play It: While every game made under Peter Molyneux's guiding vision starts as a hypothetical 11 out of 10, with nowhere to go but down, early word is that this Fable plays well. Plus, John Cleese is your butler.
Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) What It Is: A sequel to Fallout 3 from people who made the earlier old-school Fallouts. This one is set in the west near Las Vegas. While it runs on the same tech as Fallout 3, it is scripted to be more open, more free-wheeling, more wild than its fan-favourite Washington D.C. predecessor. Plus you can kill everyone in the game, save one person. That detail is a challenge to sociopaths but also a testament to how flexible this new game is supposed to be as it bends to player's whims. Should You Play It: Depends on whether you find appealing the idea of playing the mutant off-spring of the old Fallouts and the new ones.
Medal of Honor (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) What It Is: A seeming reboot of the the decade-old Medal of honour series with an eponymous title and grittier look. Foregoing the World War II setting of the past dozen or so games in the series, Medal of honour courts controversy with a modern Afghanistan setting and multiplayer featuring playable Taliban. Should You Play It: EA Los Angeles seemed to have pushed the series down a strange dead end with 2007's Medal of honour Airborne. This near reboot of the series leans on developer DICE for the multiplayer action and the cadre of Medal of honour experts found at dev Danger Close for the single player and nuts and bolts. Also, the combined U.S. military say you shouldn't play it, so now's a great time to stand up to the man. (PS3 version gets the tilt because it is bundled with Airborne.)
NBA Jam (Wii, followed by PS3 and Xbox 360 later in the year) What It Is: A revival of the classic arcade series, motion-controlled, though not miserably so. This one's been a delight for the press and public who have had a chance to play it early. Same over-the-top announcing, same over-the-top moves, a new roster, hidden characters, and an added campaign mode, so far confirmed only for the Wii, that provides a bunch of gameplay twists. Should You Play It: The Wii is a nostalgia machine this fall (new Donkey Kong Country and GoldenEye en route!). If you like throwbacks, this is for you.
NBA 2K11 (PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, PSP, Wii) What It Is: The first video game in years to feature Michael Jordan - and he's playing basketball in this one! You can play through Jordan's career highlight moments, though publisher Take Two probably misuses its baseball licence once again by failing to let you control Jordan during his dalliance with the minor league White Sox. Should You Play It: The franchise so good, so successful it scared its competitor into changing its name and then getting far out of its way, they're on a roll. Which isn't to say there isn't a promising alternative basketball game this fall.
Wii Party (Wii) What It Is: Nintendo's best hope to appeal to that Wii Sports, Wii Fit audience all over again, this time with a pack of mini-games that includes such oddball challenges as shooting balloons from a rollercoaster and hiding Wii Remotes from your family members in your living room. Should You Play It: Ready to scoff at what appeared to be the nadir of Nintendo Wii creativity … it's a Wii game and a party game all in one? … one of us actually had fun with the game. Could be a crowd-pleaser.
And There's More: EA does ultimate fighting with EA Sports MMA (PS3, Xbox 360). Konami does Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 (PS3, Xbox 360). Ubisoft does skateboarding with Shaun White Skateboarding (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii). So does Activision with Tony Hawk Shred (PS3, Wii, Xbox 360) which uses the board controller introduced last year and which is being targeted at kids.
Japan gets a full-fledged DS Pokémon game this fall. The US gets Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, the latest in a series that is based on the gameplay mechanic of drawing circles around Pokémon. Also in the category of probably-easy is Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii), a simple side-scroller contender for best graphics of the year, if you enjoy games that look like they were beautifully woven from colourful yarn (If you're not, you're mad).
Namco teams up with development studio Ninja Theory, last seen doing great things with red hair in early PS3 game Heavenly Sword and most recently in the news for unbleaching the hair of Devil May Cry protagonist Dante. They combine to deliver the latest single-player/two-character game in the form of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PS3, Xbox 360).
EA answers the call of duty with a revival of Medal of Honor (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) now set during the current conflict of Afghanistan, multiplayer designed by the people who make Battlefield.
In the Good-Luck-To-You category goes Power Gig: Rise of the Six String which offers the ability to play a music game on a working electric guitar that has real strings. They go into this category, because they are going up against Rock Band 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) which offers the ability to play a music game with a working electric guitar that has real strings (guitar sold separately) as well as on a series-first keyboard. DJ Hero 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) brings that Activision turntable back.
Rap music gets its chance at video game greatness with Def Jam Rapstar (PS3, Wii, Xbox 360) a karaoke style game with an all-star soundtrack as well as camera and video-editing/sharing support on the non-Wii versions. Mexican pro wrestling also gets a shot at the big time with Lucha Libre AAA Heroes of the Ring (PSP. Xbox 360, Wii). Do you prefer your wrestlers unmasked? Then try WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 (PSP, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) and hope virtual John Cena is less corny than the real guy.
Light gun games return as aim is fired at a Wii specialty with The Shoot, part of the second wave of games for the PlayStation 3's wand controller Move. But if it's motion-controlled fighting you want, the Move game The Fight: Lights Out is far more manly than Wii Sports boxing, even if it does have a calorie counter.
Tron Evolution (DS, PSP, PC, Xbox 360, PS3) is many things, as the games are set in various time points of the Tron timeline, following the original movie and leading into this fall's cinematic sequel Tron Legacy. PS3/360 versions combine racing with Prince-of-Persia-style acrobatic combat; the Wii version is like a Tron version of Wii Sports.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 (Xbox 360, PS3) adds online multipayer to the winning formula established with the first game, along with a cameo from Lars Alexandersson from Tekken 6.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (DS, PC, PS3, Xbox 360 Wii) is a sequel to the quality Force-on-steroids first Unleashed, with a new story, tighter controls, enemies that can kill Rancors and, on the Wii, a four-player fighting mode that looks kinda like Smash Bros. but is based on other stuff. If that's too normal, Devil May Cry creator has an action game Vanquish (PS3, Xbox 360) based on his own weird future-soldier sci-fi.
Super Scribblenauts (DS) adds adjectives and d-pad controls to a game whose concept was universally loved last year but whose execution was not. In theory, the upgrades fix the problems. Invizimals (PSP) uses a camera attached to the PSP to augment your world by putting monsters on your coffee table, moving our civilisation one measure closer to Star Wars chess. Truth be told, Chewbacca would have been lucky to have had the chance to play Patapon 3 (PSP) the sequel to the winning rhythm-based side-scrolling war series (it makes sense when you play it!), now with online support.
Someone you know will buy Just Dance 2 (Wii) and have a great time with it, as millions did with the first. LEGO people get their own MMO with Lego Universe (PC). The Sims 3 (DS, PS3, Xbox 360) comes to consoles and smaller devices.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4 (Wii, PS3, Xbox 360) will come out, at least the first part of this throwback side-scroller... launching on a Nintendo system first, because that's where Sonic side-scrollers launch.
Oh, and you can kill zombies while using a guitar controller in Rock of the Dead (PS3, Xbox 360)
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) What It Is: It's the first one-year-after-the-last-one instalment of Assassin's Creed, set in Italy at the time of the Renaissance, again starring Ezio, hero of Assassin's Creed II. Ezio's got an assassin's guild to back him up and players have a stealth-and-assassinate multiplayer mode to make this adventure last longer. Should You Play It: Wait to find out whether the franchise can handle a one-year-later sequel, or if annualising Assassin's Creed makes Ezio the new Tony Hawk.
Call of Duty: Black Ops (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, DS) What It Is: Why, it's a new Call of Duty, the first-person-shooter series that flattens the competition. This year's singleplayer mode spans the '60s and is made by Treyarch, developers not of the Modern Warfare games but of the dark Call of Duty: World at War. A deep multiplayer mode adds a points system and wagering to make it even harder to stop playing six months later. Should You Play It: Everyone else will be.
Dance Central (Xbox 360) What It Is: A controller-free dancing game from the makes of Rock Band which has already been enjoyed at preview events by people who like to dance and by people who you wouldn't like to watch dancing. Should You Play It: From a distance, this seems like it'll be the game people will be talking about in the fall, so while it may or may not be great, it is important.
Disney's Epic Mickey (Wii) What It Is: An expensive, ambitious attempt to establish Mickey Mouse as a video game all-star in an adventure overseen by celebrated Deus Ex team leader Warren Spector. Players make Mickey use a magic paintbrush to draw and erase the world, friends and enemies in his epic adventure, with consequences for the choices players make. Should You Play It: Good or bad, this project has an interesting enough pedigree to make it a great curiosity.
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii) What It Is: From the makers of Metroid Prime comes a throwback to classic Super Nintendo-style Donkey Kong Country side-scrolling, built to support two-player co-op. Should You Play It: Flagship Nintendo November releases are usually good and the quiet Retro Studios is a lock for, if nothing else, a great-looking game.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP) What It Is: The sequel to one of the best-received PSP games. The PlayStation 3's God of War III made Kratos' was grander than its predecessors on console, which could make Ghost of Sparta feel tiny, but this is the work of a studio whose God of War: Chains of Olympus remains one of the best-looking, best-playing PSP games. Should You Play It: If you're not tired of Kratos' growling, this game has the right pedigree to be your PSP stand-out for the fall.
GoldenEye 007 (Wii, DS) What It Is: This is a remake of the GoldenEye movie more-so than it is of the classic Nintendo 64 game. Still, a Daniel Craig-ised version of the plot, some adjustments to the famous N64 dam level and the expected four-player split-screen co-op that includes both Oddjob and online play. Should You Play It: If you do, don't expect the level designs of the original game, but do hope that the new game can be even half as fun as the classic.
Gran Turismo 5 (PS3) What It Is: The king of driving games, now with 1000 or more cars, car damage, NASCAR, go-karting, the the most assuredly realistic graphics in a series known for absurdly realistic graphics. Plus, you can play it in 3D. Should You Play It: Do you like cars? Then, of course.
And There's More: Activision's Bond for non-Wii players is James Bond: Blood Stone (PS3, Xbox 360, DS), from the people who brought you The Club and Project Gotham Racing. EA goes younger but only slightly gentler than that with the third-person magic shooter-style Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 1: The Videogame (DS, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii)
The Wii gets Conduit 2 a meaner-looking first-person shooter follow-up. And it gets FlingSmash (Wii) which just might be bundled with a new Wii Remote that includes MotionPlus built in.
Your Gran Turismo alternatives for the month will be cops-and-robbers Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (Xbox 360, PC, PS3).
As an obvious answer to Ghost of Sparta, the DS has Mario vs Donkey Mini-Land Mayhem (DS) the latest in a puzzle franchise that's blending together so much that the box art for the new one has to tell us the game has "all new levels". The game supports level customisation, as does LittleBigPlanet-meets-Scribblenauts Create (PS3, Wii).
Annual hopes that the next Sonic game won't suck crescendo with the release of Sonic Colours (Wii, DS) which - forget we wrote this, OK? - has looked good and played well at pre-release events. While your fingers are crossed, send good wishes in the direction of DC Universe Online (PC, PS3), which has to manage to be a successful super-hero game and a successful MMO, neither of which is easy.
Microsoft's new hands-free controller sensor, Kinect, has a pile of games slated for release, including Your Shape Fitness Evolved (Xbox 360), an impressive-looking fitness game that maps an avatar to your body motions, Kinectimals (Xbox 360) that looks to do for tiger cubs what Nintendogs did for puppies, Sonic Free Riders (Xbox 360), featuring Sonic and friends airboarding in races, Kinect Joy Ride (Xbox 360), Kinect Sports (Xbox 360), MotionSports (Xbox 360), EA Sports Acive 2.0 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii).
The Wii gets its own fancy new peripheral too in the form of THQ's uDraw Gaming Tablet, a drawing surface that arrives with three games, the bundled uDraw Studio (Wii), Pictionary (Wii), and Dood's Big Adventure (Wii).
Splatterhouse returns in a game called Splatterhouse (PS3)
December may have three weeks of autumn in it, but December release dates for games are hard to come by. This usually-quiet month isn't making a peep yet.
But there are games scheduled for the fall that don't have release months. They happen to be an exciting bunch: Costume Quest (PS3 and Xbox 360 downloadable) from the comedians at Double Fine, Dead Space Ignition (PS3 and Xbox 360 downloadable), a watery Wii riff on Loco Roco called Fluidity (Wii downloadable), the abstract Move-controlled light-and-shadows puzzler Echochrome ii (PS3 downloadable), the stylish 2D cave-based shooter PixelJunk Shooter 2 (PS3 downloadable), in which dynamic pours of acid, magnetic lava and lava steal the show and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (Xbox 360?) the sequel to one fine game.
So... fall 2010 isn't that bad for games. What are you getting?