News for the Week of Dec. 12, 2011
This week we talk about the Spike TV Video Game Awards, who won what and what big gaming announcements were made, a Sony publisher doesn't want an online pass in it's upcoming game, Ninja Gaiden 3 gets a release window and an apparent miscommunication sends Nintendo stock holders into a frenzy.
Well the holiday season is upon us. What does that mean? Well, a lack of gaming news (that and Tom gets all the fun news of the week…jerk). So, to change things up for the next few weeks leading up to the holidays I’ll be writing up a few Top 10 lists.
This week it’s the Top 10 Games to Watch in 2012. Games you should be excited, games you forgot about or games you didn’t even know were coming. Let’s go over which games I think you should be watching for in the new year:
10) The Darkness II
The sequel to the very underappreciated the Darkness looks to hook everyone this time around.
Jackie’s back and is now the Don of the Franchetti family (I won’t get into too many plot details from the original in case you haven’t played it, and you really should go out and play it). Taking place two years after the original game Jackie’s been able to keep the darkness at bay during this time. An assassination attempt leaves him near death but it releases the Darkness in order to save him.
A mysterious stranger named Victor Valente appears who is aware of what the Darkness is and he wants the powers for himself. Jackie must fight off Valante and the mysterious “Brotherhood” in which he leads as he also tries to figure out what the motivations of the Darkness are and what it actually wants with him. But enough about the story, let’s talk the meat and potatoes of the game.
Gameplay has been tweaked to make for a much more entertaining time. Quad-wielding has been added which will allow the player to use two weapons as well as the darkness powers at once. Jackie can also use the environment to his advantage. For example, he can use the Darkness to rip-out car doors and use them as shields during intense fire fights.
Darklings, your little demon minions, make a return and will have more of a gameplay and story focus. They’ll be able to use the environment around them to aid you, such as construction drills and basic weapons like pistols to attack enemies.
There’s a lot more I can get into like level up your Darkness powers using leveling trees etc. but really, it sounds awesome to me already. The game drops on February 10th but do yourself a favor: pick up the original. It can easily be found for $10 or less at your local gaming store and you’ll understand why this game made this top 10 list. You won’t be disappointed.
Syndicate is a reboot of an early 90s Bullfrog Software real-time tactical game (one I never played, which is weird seeing as how I had a love for Bullfrog games in the 90s). Gone is the overhead third-person tactical game, it’s been changed to a first-person shooter and might I say does it ever look like a gorgeous one.
The story, what little is revealed of it, is very Deus Ex-like. It takes place in 2069, politics no longer govern the world. Instead it’s divided up into different regions controlled by corporations called syndicates (hence the title of the game).
These syndicates have control over technology and how consumers interact with the digital world. All people are implanted with neural chips, provided by their syndicate which takes care of their every need, from housing, investments and entertainment. What do the syndicates get in return you ask? Oh nothing really, just insight and control over individuals.
Since there is no government different syndicates fight over dominance. At the front line are agents. We’ll be playing as one named Miles Kilo. Agents are bio-engineered and chip augmented for combat situations (this is where the Deus Ex reference comes in). Using these abilities they can hack anything they’re wired to, including environments, weapons and in some cases enemies.
There will also be a four-player co-op mode in the game with a separate story which apparently based on missions from the original game. Who isn’t up for four-player co-op?
Now I’ve read a lot of backlash about this game due to it being so drastically different from the original. Now, I can’t speak about this because I’ve never played it but I can tell you as soon as I saw the trailer for Syndicate I was automatically hooked. It looked like a faster paced Deus Ex. Considering Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one of the best games I played this year Syndicate looks like it could be right up my ally. Oh, did I mention you can get a gun that shoots around corners? Don’t know what that means? Watch the trailer!
The game will be released February 21 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
8) Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
If you know me, you know I love Transformers. A guilty pleasure from my childhood which I simply can’t let go. Come on, what guy doesn’t like giant robots which transform into awesome vehicles!
The Transformers franchise hasn’t been blessed with many good video games…. That is until High Moon’s War for Cybertron. A very straight-forward third-person shooter which resembles Gears of War, everything just seemed to work well in this game. From good shooting mechanics, simple and fluid transformations from vehicle to robot mode and vice-versa to giant boss battles and an very underappreciated multiplayer it simply was the best game ever made based on the Transformers.
Well a couple months ago High Moon announced a sequel called Fall of Cybertron. The game is to follow the last days of Cybertron before the Autobots and Decepticons travelled to Earth. Little else is known about the story or even gameplay tweaks but I can list a few reasons why I’m extremely excited about this game:
1) DINOBOTS!! That’s right; those giant mechanical dinosaurs will be in the game. Their leader, Grimlock was featured on the cover of November’s Game Informer magazine. 5-year-old me screamed with excitement!
2) If you played War for Cybertron you’ll remember the giant boss battles with Tripticon and Omega Supreme. While those boss fights were awesome if you were like me you wished you could actually play as one of those giant transformers. Well according to the Game Informer article Fall of Cybertron will include two new giants, Metroplex (I actually had this toy as a kid) and Bruticus. Also, according to High Moon both will be playable… You mean I can actually play as a transforming Autobot city crushing puny Decepticons? Take my money High Moon, I really don’t want it!
While this game may have the least amount of details released about it on this list it still gets a spot… just because I can still hear 5-year-old me screaming for Grimlock and to be able to play as Metroplex again after my parents gave away the giant toy of mine… and I’m not still bitter about that… not at all…
7) Metal Gear Solid: Rising
This game may have been a lot higher on this list if…well… there was more information released about it! It was briefly demoed at E3 2010 and instantly got my attention.
Remember all those awesome cyber-Raiden kicking-ass sections you got to watched in Metal Gear Solid 4? I doubt I’m the only person out there who was wishing he could actually PLAY those sections of Raiden slicing and dicing those mechs. Well in Rising, you will get to do just that.
The game is supposed to keep its stealth roots, but will be more fast-paced (seeing as you’re a cyber-ninja and not an old man, I would hope so). From what I understand the stealth will be very similar to the current Batman series of games. You hunt an enemy in the shadows and attack without anyone knowing you’re there.
While the game can’t all be stealth as half the fun of being a cyber-ninja is kicking ass! The key new gameplay feature which was shown was the sophisticated swordplay. You’ll have control over how you can cut enemies using a “free slicing mode”. This feature will be important when fighting certain robotic enemies as Raiden cuts them open it exposes a particular energy point which he absorbs to heal himself.
Also, this “free slicing” feature can be used not only to slice-and-dice enemies, but also the game’s environment. Say there’s a bunch of enemies in a covered area you can slice up the columns around the enemies and have the ceiling cave in on top of them.
No release date has been given for Rising as of when I wrote this beyond the 2012 release window. I know I shouldn’t include this game on this list because of this… but I can’t. That gameplay demo from 2010 is stuck in my mind.
6) Max Payne 3
Here’s another one we’ve been waiting for awhile and really, can Rockstar Games do any wrong?
Since the second game, Max has left New York City and now lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil and is working private security for a wealthy family. Not much else is known about the plot, but my guess is things go terribly wrong and Max must face his inner demons once more since the murder of his wife and child in the first game.
The famous bullet time mechanic returns, allowing the player to slow down time to dodge shots as well as shoot enemies. Honestly, would it be a Max Payne game without bullet time?
The game promises to have a more action/cinematic feel as well as a new multiplayer component. As more videos and previews get posted before the game’s March release the more I get excited. Once again I state, it’s a Rockstar game and I honestly can’t remember a bad game they’ve released in recent years… maybe Table Tennis but I never played it (for good reason, it’s table tennis).
5) Tomb Raider
Wow, I never thought this would ever happen: A Tomb Raider game cracking the top 5 of a most anticipated game list. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but I haven’t been a fan of this series at all. Only reason I think it’s been around so long is the sex appeal of Lara Croft and that has faded away after one bad game too many.
All of a sudden here comes Square Enix taking over the Tomb Raider series and giving the development group, Crystal Dynamics the green light to shake up the franchise. What do they do? Something that should have been done years ago: Reboot the whole series and try to make it actually good!
The story will follow a young Lara Croft, right out of academy on an adventure to search for ancient relics. A storm strikes and the ship she’s aboard is torn apart. She’s marooned on an island and must overcome all kinds of physical and emotional trauma in order to survive.
Right away this description sets it apart from any Tomb Raider game available. A gritty game of survival starring Lara Croft? You’ve peaked my interest Crystal Dynamics.
Certain areas of the island will be restricted until Lara learns a specific ability while exploring and upgrading her abilities via a skill system. Wait… are they adding a mechanic from Metroid, one of my favorite game franchises to a Tomb Raider game? Ok, I’m more intrigued now.
Puzzles, one of the only features I liked in past Tomb Raider games are back. They are supposed to be more complex this time around and Lara will need to use elements such as fire, water, wind and friction to solve them. Also, a new feature called “survival instinct” can help Lara solve certain puzzles. It will highlight important items in a puzzle, but Lara must be standing still for this to happen.
Ok, so let’s go over this again: A gritty, survival-based Tomb Raider game with some Metroid features and more complex puzzles? Yep, you deserve the 5 slot Lara.
4) DmC (Devil May Cry)
Devil May Cry: My favorite series from the last console generation. If you read my article from last week you know my love runs deep for this series.
Even though Devil May Cry 4 was released this console generation and while it was a good game you could tell Capcom was running out of ideas for the series. In 4 you had to replay all bosses a second time over in reverse order and it just felt like extra padding after the think tank ran dry.
Capcom wanted to go in a totally different direction with the series. Enter developer Ninja Theory, the group behind Heavenly Sword and Enslaved. Capcom wanted a drastic change in look for the series, including bad-ass protagonist Dante. The reimagining of the character saw major backlash from fans.
Like I said last week, I held back judgment of this reboot. I wanted to hold back any opinion until I actually saw gameplay which really is the hook of the series. Well videos have been trickling out over the web the last few weeks and it’s looking like I was right for reserving judgment. Combat looks exactly like a Devil May Cry game should: Stylish combo-based hack, slash and gunplay that I love with a rocking soundtrack to get me pumped to slice up demons.
The environments, while looking gorgeous, also seem to be one of the main enemies of the game. In a gameplay video we see Dante trying to escape an environment which is falling apart all around him. So not only will you have to fight your way through a hoard of demons you’ll have to fight the environment itself.
I know I’m going to get some flack for putting this game so high, but it won’t change my mind. DmC is looking very promising and I can’t quiet the fanboy within me to me. I’m always up for more Dante, no matter how different he looks.
3) Diablo III
We’re into the home stretch people! Why not cap off the top three with one of the most anticipated games of the last decade!
The Diablo series is one beloved by PC games everywhere. Pretty much bringing the dungeon-crawling-loot-grabbing game to the limelight it’s just such an addicting series. Clicking your mouse a thousand times to bring down a hoard of enemies and snatch loot from their remains may sound all that fun, but dear god is it ever. Over this past summer I picked up the original Diablo at a flea market for $5 and it’s STILL as incredible as I remember it 15 years ago. Not many games still have that lasting appeal this day and age.
Blizzard Entertainment, a group well known for taking their time developing games and not releasing them until they’re completely ready (another feature which seems to be lost this day and age) has been working on this game for awhile. Looks like patience is finally going to pay off as Diable III’s slated to drop sometime in early 2012 (once again, Blizzard won’t release it until it’s 100% ready).
Let’s get to some gameplay features. Small things like gold can picked up by simply having your character touch it instead of manually clicking it is a nice time-saving addition. Instead of health potions enemies will drop health orbs which can be used to heal the player. This has been added to speed up gameplay.
Allies will be present in the game. You have the choice of bringing a templar, a scoundrel or an enchantress with you on your adventure. You can only bring one ally with you at a time and the feature will only be available in a normal, single player game.
Co-op returns, which was a primary hook to Diable II. Sessions will be a simple drop-in, drop-out system making it easy for friends to join you on your quest.
New to the game is an auction house. Here you can either use in game gold, or if you’re a rich tycoon with cash to burn use real money to buy virtual items for your character. Also, you can trade items with other players using the Auction House feature making it easier to get a hold of that rare weapon, armor etc. you’ve been searching for, as long as you have something trade in return.
I can go on, but I would be gushing with too much excitement. I’ve been waiting over a decade for this game and I highly doubt it’ll disappoint!
2) Bioshock Infinite
I loved the original Bioshock. It just sucked me in with its crazy story, plot twists I never saw coming and the crazy idea of moral choice: Do you save an infected little girl or do you do harness the power inside her at the cost of her life? Also, we were introduced to one of the most iconic enemies of this console generation: The Big Daddies.
We’ve had a sequel since then, but it wasn’t handled by the original developer, Irrational Games. While Bioshock 2 was good in my opinion, it lacked something. It didn’t have the hook which drew you into the original. It felt more like an expansion pack than a true sequel.
Late last year Irrational dropped a teaser trailer for their tight-lipped upcoming game. It was to be titled Bioshock Infinite. Gone is the underwater city of Rapture we’ve come to know for two games. Gone are the Big Daddies and Little Sisters from the original game. We’re in for something completely new.
We were introduced to a city in the sky called Columbia. I was awe-struck by how gorgeous the floating city looks, a stark contrast to the desolate city of Rapture after all the conflict. But as gorgeous as the city looks, it’s just as deadly.
Columbia is actually a giant battleship and apparently had a big part in the Boxer Rebellion of the late 1800s. Due to this the city was disavowed by the United States and disappears into the sky. But the looming threat of Columbia always at the back of people’s minds.
The game takes place in 1912. You play as a man named Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent. His character is drastically different than Jack from the original Bioshock who was silent. Booker actually speaks and interacts with characters throughout the game.
Booker is hired by a mysterious group who know the location of Columbia. They ask him to infiltrate the city, find and rescue a young woman named Elizabeth who apparently has some form of amazing powers.
Finding Elizabeth is easy enough for Booker, but he soon finds out she’s the center of the civil war raging in Columbia as each faction fights to control her powers. Booker and Elizabeth are forced to trust one another in order to escape the floating city. But the war is the least of their worries…
In order to make sure Elizabeth never escapes captivity, she has a guardian. A giant, mechanical bird-like creature named Songbird which is continuously hunting them. This looming creature will always be at the back of your mind while you play the game. When will it be coming? How can you stop it? Can you stop it? Songbird might be the major hook to this game as it is the boogieman stalking you every step of the way.
Gameplay wise, things are somewhat similar to the last two Bioshock games. You have an assortment of weapons which as pistols, shotguns, rifles etc. and you’ll also get a hold of powers similar to the plasmids in the other games of the series. However, unlike the other games when you decide to pick a power you’re stuck with it the whole game, giving you a limited amount of powers to obtain. This is to give the player the idea of consequence for their choices.
Also, in an inertesting gameplay addition Columbia has a roller-coaster like skyline, which Booker can hook into for fast travelling, chasing/attacking enemies. It seems like a very interesting a fun addition.
Ok, enough gushing. Every video, every article I read about this game I get more excited… and it’s still a year away from release! The wait for this one might kill me.
1) Mass Effect 3
Oh man… Oh man… I cannot wait for this game. While I came to the Mass Effect party late I initially hated the series. I had a really rough time getting into the first game. I put it away on my shelf for a long time not even bothering with it.
Then the hype for Mass Effect 2 started popping up. All the great review scores, talks about it being Game of the Year when it was released in January 2010, I needed to finally see what all the hype was about.
I put the first game back in and it eventually hooked me. Story was fantastic, but I found the inventory system way too complicated, I got lost a lot trying to figure out where to go on side missions in a massive world, but I enjoyed what I played. I picked up Mass Effect 2… and that all changed.
A game where all the moral choices, my character’s background, all the characters which lived/died affected the story in the second game? My mind was blown! I felt an attachment to my choices as they carried weight. I played Mass Effect 2 for a few months and not once did I ever feel bored. I couldn’t wait to see how this trilogy ended.
Enter Mass Effect 3. I’ve been steering away from plot/gameplay details as I want to be surprised. I want to the end to my Commander Sheppard’s story to be a surprise. That’s really the key to this series; it’s your character’s story over three games. Your choices, the people who live and die throughout your series affect each game’s story. Each person’s playthrough of this trilogy could be completely different (to a point that is). That’s why it’s so beloved.
If you haven’t played the Mass Effect games yet, do yourself a favor: Go to your local game store and pick them up. They can easily be found for under $20 and they’re worth every penny. Play through them before 3 drops on March 6th and start to mold your story to save the galaxy from the Reapers. What are the Reapers you ask? Play the game and find out!
Well that’s it folks. I know I missed some other games such as Halo 4 and Borderlands 2, which have very little information released, Twisted Metal and Soul Calibur V (yes it’s spelt that way) which just finished outside the top 10 or Street Fighter X Tekken which isn’t my cup of tea. But let us know what your top 10 most anticipated games are in the comments below!
Article and video script written by Mr Black