Bleak, Bleak Future With Great, Great Games

In Video Games on November 3, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I hope you’re all looking forward to being completely broke, as choosing which games to leave behind is going to be difficult.  Here’s a few upcoming releases along with a few lines on why each one is significant.

Dead Space 2 is something I know nothing about, owning but never having played the first one, but I do so enjoy games with numbers after them.

Portal 2 looks like it will introduce a large overhaul into the stagnated Source engine, which is notable among its other notable features such as a unique cooperative campaign, more gadgets and more Portal.

Dragon Age 2 shows that Bioware isn’t above a little humility, having realized that Dragon Age would have been antiquated (if novel) gaming experience if it came out in 2007.  Here’s looking forward to a more cohesive story with an actual protagonist instead of playing mad-libs with NPCs.

Deus Ex: The Human Revolution is for some reason a prequel to all current Deus Ex games, which might make sense given just how many dangling multiple endings they’d have to deal with if making a sequel proper.  Returning to an age of cybernetics, rather than some kind of abstract superpower-granting cybermodules, will offer access to new-to-the-series but old-to-the-world classic cyberpunk transhumanist themes, if they don’t go for a generic post-cyberpunkian down-with-the-corporations plot.

Rage combines a free roaming RPG with more true-to-form FPS elements and has a dedicated, well-constructed driving aspect as well, and is coming out on the state-of-the-rat ID-tech 5 engine.  Annoy its fans by referring to it by its two Indian names, not-Fallout or realistic-Borderlands.

Bioshock: Infinite.  At this point, I’m not going to fault the developer for clinging to the Bioshock nom de guerre as this marks their greatest success since System Shock 2 was well liked by critics and well-hated by their goldfish consumer base.  All you really need to know is that this is typical gameplay and not the result of an overly-scripted sequence.

Duke Nukem: Forever, which is being actually released (!), with finalization and polish by the company that did Borderlands (!!).

Gears of War 3, which will finally cap off the three seconds of story we get at the beginning and end of every Gears game to date.  Also featuring female gears!  And a knife-bayonet that is totally not a chainsaw I mean what the hell.

Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds.  Isn’t it cute that a subtitle is tacked on like the story will matter in this game?

Mass Effect 3, apparently on a development fast-track due to them not having to worry about making Mass Effect 4 afterwards.

Mortal Kombat, rebooting the franchise thought dead after Midway’s financial failures and going back to the series’ roots of playing fifth-string to the ever-unchanging Street Fighter.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The original Witcher is also known by its maiden name, like-Dragon-Age-but-better-and-actually-mature-but-came-out-like-two-years-before, the sequel will apparently be using a custom game engine and not a heavily modified Aurora (Neverwinter Nights 1) engine.

Hunted: Demon’s Forge.  To sum up the sell-line of this game: Gears of Warcraft. Yes, please.

Brink, also humbly known as the game that will change first-person shooters, like, forever, it features team-based objective-driven gameplay with dynamically-generated objectives (based on player actions) and heavily story-driven teams and maps, with a multiplayer experience that merges with its singleplayer experience.

Dungeon Siege 3, made by those perennial sequel experts at Obsidian Software, it might be the first game in the series worth mentioning.

Neverwinter, the ostentatiously-titled sequel to the Neverwinter Nights series, will feature some kind of easy multiplayer and on-the-go DMing and module creation.  This goes a few steps beyond the previous offering, if you suddenly feel like your players should be seeing a lava-themed dungeon, you can actually craft one, in-game, in moments.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the combined effort of R.A. Salvatore (setting, history) Todd McFarlene (art, character/monster design) and the guy who masterminded Morrowind and Oblivion (game design), this open-world RPG is going to serve as the appetizer to an aggressive, product-driven campaign with the final goal of producing an MMO in the setting.  Still, it’s nice to see a new IP getting so much tender love and care, if not forethought.

From Dust was a shoe-in for this list until I saw it listed as a god game / sandbox title.  Whatever.

End of Nations is an MMORTS by those wacky Westwood-holdovers at Petroglyph studios.  Why not?

Contagion is going to be the retail release of Zombie Panic Source, hopefully with the quality to match.  It’ll be a darker, more simulationist L4D.

Dead State is some kind of zombie-based survivor-horror RPG made by leftovers from Obsidian (of every sequel ever’s fame) and Troika (of Arcanum fame), both of Fallout fame.

Might and Magic Heroes VI. I like turn-based RPGs in the same way my dad likes WWII books and historical miniseries: it offers some kind of weird pedigree of taste and refinement.  Whether I’ll actually play and/or enjoy it is another matter, but the M&M boys might want to keep an eye on King’s Bounty, who has been filling the role of high-quality turn-based RPG developer in their absence.

Jagged Alliance 2 Reloaded will be a straight-up graphical remake of Jagged Alliance 2, with the same features, gameplay, story and possibly voice acting.  They also promised to add a tutorial so you can make sense of the (incredibly complex) gameplay.

And there you have it.  I’m not sure this actually covers everything that’s even coming out next year, but it’s a partial list at least.

  1. Dead Space 2: I don’t like the art design. The first game was possibly the most playable Resident Evil game yet, but I think I’ll skip this one.
    Portal 2: This I will buy.
    Dragon Age 2: should they make it playable I might be interested, but doubtful.
    Rage: Feh, sure it’s by the guys who made Doom, but the guy who made Avatar made Aliens…
    Bioshock: Even shockier: looks pretty cool actually.
    Duke Nukem Forever: I have to play it, simply because it actually exists.
    Gears of WAHHHHH! 3: Really excited, although I think you are being pretty tough on the plots. I feel GoW has a pretty good plot, that was well told and grounded, evidenced by the fact that I actually care about what is going to occur. Unlike Halo where you had to tell me they won the war.
    Mass Effect 3: Col. GD Sheppard reporting for duty. I’d say sir, but no one outranks Col. GD Sheppard.
    Hunted Demon Forge: looks somewhat cool, could be some solid multiplayer.
    Kingdom of Amalur: with creds like this one, I may have to burn any stores that stock it.
    Dead State: like, the exact opposite reaction of Kingdom of Amalur.
    Jagged Alliance 2 Reloaded: Loved the original, but never owned it. I really hope they expand on the psych profile.

  2. As far as I’m aware, they’re bodily ripping off Mass Effect where retooling Dragon Age 2 is concerned. You play a human character with a few, modular background choices, choose between three specialties and TOP-BLUE or BOTTOM-RED your conversations into submission.

    And yeah, that was a low-blow for Gears, which has to-date featured excellent characterization, voice acting and design such that I actually do care about Delta squad and truly do hate the locust. And while the setting and backstory show alot of work, I don’t actually feel that this is what you’d call a story-driven game. That said, I’d really like to know what’s really going on.

    Kingdom of Amalur…well, from what I’ve heard, R.A. Salvatore isn’t too fond of his Drizzt work, but once you create the most phenomenally popular fantasy character in recent memory, you do what you must to pay the bills. I’ve never actually read anything of his, but it would obviously be a good starting point to begin at his non-D&D work. That notwithstanding, having an actual seasoned writer, rather than some idjit game dev, craft the back story has to count for something.

    I’ve also never minded Todd McFarlene, but if I did I might at least be happy that it won’t just stick to generic fantasy in its design.

    And the Morrowind guy has Morrowind as a plus and Oblivion as a minus on his resume, so I guess we’ll see.

  3. Hmm… the majority of these games are actually outside of my scope… I suppose I could attribute some of it to the PC medium, since I live the high life of a console heathen.

    I expect to play Dead Space 2, but I’m simply flipflopping on how and when. I enjoyed the first game, though a year belatedly compared to everyone else. While not a super creepfest, it made some bold strides that we hadn’t seen before. With survival horror bordering on life support I suppose that in itself may justify its existence.

    I’m trying to imagine a world where I don’t want to play Portal 2.

    MvC3 is a given for me. I’m really not into fighting games as a genre, so the ones I play these days tend to be more about the indulgence than anything else. Just as I enjoyed kicking Mario around with Sonic, I’ll find some similar pleasure in MvC3.

    Bioshock Infinite gives me high hopes. I enjoyed Bioshock 2, but more for the last chapter or two than anything else (to be clear, the gameplay was fine, the package wasn’t completely cohesive until near the end). I wondered why. This was announced. I understood why. The first game’s developers had more important things to do.

    Everything else I can think of isn’t on your list. Silent Hill 8 (will it be good? will it suck? who knows!), Batman Arkham City, the next Zelda title, Metal Gear Rising, and a bunch of 3DS titles.

    And Phantasy Star Online 2. But that’s a while off.

    Finding “original” titles to look forward to is a bit harder… I am looking forward to Shadows of the Damned, which has decidedly a trite a title as any, but seems to be made by everyone in Japan that I like.

  4. Given that I’m responding to your comment like a month late this is more throwing words to the wind, but ya works with what ya gots.

    I’ve had good times with PSO and never got into PSU, but I’ve never, NEVER agreed with their subscription fee. They’ve never earned it. These games simply have never, EVER offered the kind of content or continued support that I’d associate with a subscription service.

    There are plenty of similar games that have more content, and support after release, that don’t have fees. So while I do like the techno-magical world of Phantasy Star, it stays in the “get fucked” bin until it learns its lesson and stops charging for its less than mediocre service.

    Bioshock 2 was alright, but when your predecessor had THE twist and set the narrative standard for the generation, it’s not hard to imagine falling short. I actually liked protecting the little sisters, for what it’s worth. Infinite is bounds beyond anything 2 did regardless.

    I don’t own or play portable titles.

    MGS: Rising. I hated Raiden. I really did. MGS4 didn’t make me like him, it made me hate Kojima for shoving him down my throat with his juvenile DBZ-esque supersoldier bullshit. I felt for Snake’s plight as he struggled with obsolescence, duty and doing the right thing, but Raiden was there just to make sure we’d have a character morons could appreciate for a sequel (present company excluded of course).

    And Arkham City. Well, news was a great comic book game being made. Its sequel, which I’ve read not much about, is just going to be good and yes I do love games with numbers after them, but…eh. It’ll be great. Good for it.

  5. The funny thing is regarding the Phantasy Star franchise as a whole… I probably agree with you, regarding the subscription fees.

    It’s sort of a coin toss for me. On one hand, I understand that there’s a fundamental cost involved simply in maintaining servers, and as online games become more popular I feel it’s becoming fundamentally childish to expect things to be free. It’s nice if it happens, sure, but to expect it is silly.

    Of course, at the same time I wouldn’t say Sega has done much to justify what they are charging. I paid for PSU from day one to server shutdown on PC/PS2. By the time the game was closed the US servers were two years behind the Japanese ones in terms of update. Which is ridiculous. I imagine the cost therefore might feel more reasonable if I’m in Japan… but as I’m not, that element of the discussion is somewhat moot.

    What it comes down to is a few things. Phantasy Star has given me a few things I like, namely a sci-fi setting coupled with an action RPG environment. The wife is opposed to games where she’s not directly controlling her own character, so point-and-click affairs of any sort are largely out. I’m kind of in the same boat, to be honest… so things like WoW just aren’t quite for us.

    The other one boon to the series since PSU started is that each gameplay update has made the game substantially better. In fact, Phantasy Star Portable 2 is almost stunningly fun (your anti-portable stance notwithstanding) and, humorously, online play is free for it (though decidedly unmoderated- one is best backing up their save files from time to time).

    And concerning Raiden… I’ll never say he was a great character, though I felt he had more interesting elements in MGS4. But seeing as you are firmly on the Raiden hate-train… could anything make you like him? Or is he just a lost cause?

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