Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A completely unnecessary fall video game preview

A few (OK, several) weeks ago I did a little preview of what notable games are coming out this fall and winter season. Despite the fact that a few of the games mentioned below are already out in stores, I thought I'd post the article here because, well, why not?

Oh, and if you haven't checked out Okami yet, you're doing yourself a real disservice.

And so the avalanche begins.

The avalanche in this case being the autumn onslaught of highly anticipated new video games that will be arriving over the next few months. Publishers like to hold off on releasing their biggest titles until the end of the year.

This year is especially significant, though, as we will see the arrival of not one but two new video game systems: Sony's PlayStation 3 (Nov. 17) and Nintendo's Wii (Nov. 19).

Nintendo announced the street date and price -- $249 -- of the Wii last Thursday. Much of the year, however, has been spent in curious anticipation of the innovative system and how its movement sensitive controller will offer new ways of playing games.

Sony has come under more than a bit of controversy over the release of the PS3. The cost of the console ($500 and up) has caused quite a bit of sticker shock among many pundits.

More significantly, there might not be enough consoles available to meet demand this year. Rumors are flying that Sony would have only 400,000 machines available in the United States at launch, which means that if you haven't already ordered your copy, you won't be getting one until 2007.

But let's not let the new-fangled equipment overshadow the main reason we buy these consoles in the first place: the games. Here, in no particular order, is a look at the more notable titles wending your way this fall. Note that all release dates are subject to change.

"World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade" for the PC. Release date: TBA
If there's any such thing as a sure bet, then this expansion pack for the most popular online role-playing game ever made is it. With almost seven million folks playing this game, "Crusade" will sell by the truckload, especially since it includes new races, a new continent to explore and more. I foresee a lot of people calling in sick the day it comes out.

"Gears of War," for the Xbox 360. Release date: Nov. 7
Quite possibly the most hotly anticipated game for the 360, "Gears" is a tactical shooter from the makers of the popular "Unreal" franchise. Expect lots of gruesome monsters and big guns that go boom.

"The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess," for the GameCube and Wii. Release date: TBA
The latest sequel in the highly acclaimed "Zelda" series will arrive for the GameCube and the Wii at the same time, but it's the Wii version that will be getting all the attention, and will possibly be a major selling point for Nintendo's new console.

"Resistance: Fall of Man," for the PlayStation 3. Release date: Nov. 15
The PS3 doesn't have a lot of notably exclusive titles available at launch, so a good deal of pressure is resting on "Resistance's" shoulders. It's yet another first-person shooter, with the player going up against deadly aliens in a 1950s-era England this time around.

"Okami," for the PlayStation 2. Release date: In stores now.
This adventure game from Capcom features a lovely, unique visual style as you play a wolf god intent on restoring color to the world.

"Lego Star Wars II," for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube and PC. Available now.
Last year's "Lego Star Wars" game was a surprise hit and critical darling, so it's only natural that a sequel be made. This one comprises the original three "classic" films.

"Guitar Hero II," for the PlayStation 2. Release date: Nov. 7.
Picking up where the first "Guitar Hero" left off, the sequel includes the ability to play rhythm or bass, a practice mode (thank god), and even more songs to rock out to.

"Final Fantasy XII," for the PlayStation 2. Release date: Oct. 31
It's a new "Final Fantasy" game. What more do you need to know?

"Neverwinter Nights 2," for the PC. Release date: Oct. 17
D&D fans everywhere can rejoice over the new sequel to one of the most immersive role-playing games ever. The ability to create your own scenarios will likely be a huge draw once again.

"Bully," for the PlayStation 2. Release date: Oct. 17
The most controversial game of the year puts you in a elite prep school, where you must contend with surely teachers, mean classmates, wedgies and much more. Opponents of the game have been vociferous in their cries of outrage, which will only get louder as the game gets closer to release.

"Viva Pinata," for the Xbox 360. Release date: Nov. 14
Microsoft attempts to grab a slice of the "Animal Crossing" audience with this colorful game, where you take care of cute little pinata creatures, creating a virtual world.

"Call of Duty 3," for the PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Release date: Nov. 7
In a world of countless WWII shooters, "Call of Duty" stands above most for its attention to realism and general high level of craft. The third game in the series promises to maintain the same uniform quality, this time focusing on the liberation of Paris.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


At 1:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice look on some upcoming games this fall. I used to be a World of Warcraft player, but I recently quit, and I can tell you there's nothing in the expansion thats not goona get old after a week or two. FFXII is interesting, I haven't done much research on it, but I'm definitely a fan. Neverwinter 2 would probably top my lists.


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