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Fall 2013 Gaming Preview

Well it’s that time again.  A year ago this week I posted my Fall 2012 Gaming Preview.  Last year was a relatively light year for releases.  Apparently, it was the calm before the storm because this year the calendar is packed with blockbuster titles.  So again, I’m not listing every single game coming out between now & Dec. because I don’t have that kind of time.  Rather, these are what I consider the highlights.  I also reserve the right to ignore consoles that I have no interest in and therefore am in no position to gauge upcoming games for them – I’m looking at you, Xbox One.  Games are listed in chronological order by release date, with a few at the end that have yet to be given specific release dates (but all are expected to be out this Fall).

D3Diablo 3
Release Date – September 3
Systems – PS3, 360

Diablo 3 is finally making its way to consoles, and it’s doing so with quite a few improvements.  The game has been completely retooled to work with a controller.  This includes a supposedly improved and easier to use inventory interface.  Speaking of inventory, loot drops have been modified to occur less frequently but be more significant when they do happen.  This is to cut down on garbage drops that you end up either ignoring or filling up your inventory with.  Oh, and the real money marketplace is nowhere to be found in this version – something that many say was a game breaking feature of the PC version.  Still, if you’re keen on revisiting the world of Sanctuary and plan on getting a next-gen console, you may want to wait for that version.  Early reports say the current gen console versions take a graphical hit over last year’s PC release.

INTEREST = NONE (not until the PS4 version releases next year)

RLRayman Legends
Release Date – September 3
Systems – PS3, 360, Vita, Wii U

If you missed Rayman Origins a couple years back, you missed one of the best 2D platformers to come along in ages.  Gorgeous hand-drawn graphics combined with level design that bordered on genius.  Not to mention enough charm to melt even the hardest of hearts.  And now we’re getting a sequel that promises to be everything the original was, but even better.  How can you possibly NOT be excited?

INTEREST = HIGH

 

 

 

KH15RKingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix
Release Date – September 10
Systems – PS3

The announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3 at Sony’s E3 press conference this year was something that a lot of people had been waiting on for many years.  And knowing Square-Enix, they’ll be waiting a few more years before the game actually materializes.  But fear not!  Because to get everyone up to speed on the overly-convoluted Kingdom Hearts storyline they are re-releasing the games in HD form.  The first collection (of 2, supposedly) features the original Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories and the story cinematics from Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.  All of that has been remade in HD, and as a bonus the original Kingdom Hearts contains extra content that was previously only available in Japan.  All of that plus an artbook for $40 is not a bad deal at all.

INTEREST = HIGH

KMKillzone Mercenary
Release Date – September 10
Systems – Vita

Truth time: I know very little about this game.  I do know that it’s highly anticipated by some who are hoping it will be the first truly good FPS game on the Vita.  Personally, I don’t have any interest in playing a FPS on my Vita – that type of game is much better suited to my big screen TV.  But here’s hoping it turns out well for everyone looking forward to it.

INTEREST = NONE

 

 

 

W101The Wonderful 101
Release Date – September 15
Systems – Wii U

This was one of the big titles originally announced for the Wii U.  And then it got delayed.  For some, this is still a big title.  And I’ll admit, I was somewhat interested in it myself – until I played the demo.  Ouch.  Inaccurate touch controls are just the beginning of the problems with this game.  The use of the second screen feels forced and unnatural, and the hectic action does not lend itself to the finicky controls at all.  This went from a “maybe” to a “definite pass” for me, but others who have played the demo are singing its greatness.  If you own a Wii U you’d probably like some games, so download the demo and find out for yourself.

INTEREST = NONE

 

GTA5Grand Theft Auto V
Release Date – September 17
Systems – PS3, 360

Quite possibly the biggest game release all year.  If you haven’t heard of this one, you must have stumbled across this page by accident. Hype for this one is off the charts, and it appears to be with good reason – sporting the largest game world Rockstar has made yet, 3 playable main characters that you can switch between virtually at will, a plethora of activities and a very ambitious sounding multiplayer mode that sports a persistent world with the ability to do anything.  Heck, the online mode is so big it’s being billed as its own separate game that just happens to come free with GTA V called “Grand Theft Auto Online”.  I’ll admit to being very lukewarm on this one until recently, but even I can’t deny how cool all of this looks and sounds.  Let’s just hope our cousin doesn’t constantly wanna go out for drinks this time.

INTEREST = HIGH

BTSBeyond: Two Souls
Release Date – October 8
Systems – PS3

The follow-up to Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls is about…a girl…who’s psychic?  Maybe?  And possibly in the military.  I have no idea.   To me, Quantic Dream’s tech far outpaces their actual games.  This one may be different.  At the very least they have some real vocal talent in this game so there shouldn’t be any more “or-eee-gah-meee keeler” moments.

INTEREST = LOW

 

 

PXYPokemon X & Y
Release Date – October 12
Systems – 3DS

The Pokemon machine keeps right on rollin’.  What many outsiders don’t realize is that these are actually very solid, fun games even if they do stick pretty close to the same formula that has worked for them since the original Gameboy days.  It looks like their will be some shakeup with these new releases – they will be the first in the series done completely in 3D.  And by that, I don’t mean 3D-3D (tho I’m sure it will support that as well) but not 2D sprites.  It looks like there will be some other gameplay shake-ups as well, but at the very least it should make for a good way to pass the time on the go.

INTEREST = MEDIUM

 

 

 

 

 

 SLWSonic: Lost World
Release Date – October 22
Systems – Wii U, 3DS

For those of you who have been ignoring Sonic for years – and honestly, I can’t say that I blame you – you’ll just have to trust me on this:  Sonic’s last outing, Sonic Generations, was a really good game.  Surprisingly good.  So when this new game was first shown at E3, people became legitimately excited.  It appears to take everything that was great about Sonic Generations – a mix of 2D & 3D gameplay, ton of speed and very inventive platforming – and crank it all up.  The trailer I watched even shows hints of Super Mario Galaxy influences.  So this is definitely one to keep an eye on, especially if you’re looking for a good Wii U exclusive.

INTEREST = MEDIUM

 

BAOBatman: Arkham Origins / Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate
Release Date – October 25
Systems – PS3, 360, Wii U, PC / Vita, 3DS

I have called the Arkham series one of my favorite new franchises this generation, and with good reason.  The games have a very kinect combat system that makes you feel like you’re Batman.  They also show a love for the source material, filling their worlds not only with well-known heroes and villains but also with much lesser known characters and hidden references to more obscure Batman lore.  They employ the Zelda style of gameplay – unlock new gadgets and abilities to allow you to access more of the map – with fantastic results.  And they also look incredible.  The developer may have switched hands for this third entry, since Black Rock is apparently hard at work on something else, but from all the hands-on impressions I’ve heard and videos I’ve seen, you would never know it.  In addition to the main game there is also a portable game releasing the same day for Vita & 3DS.  This game is said to be a 2.5-D “Metroidvania” style game with a story that takes place after the console version.  Both games definitely look like something to keep an eye on.

INTEREST = HIGH

AC4BFAssassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Release Date – October 29
Systems – PS3, 360, Wii U, PC, PS4, XBOne

Oh, Assassin’s Creed – I can’t stay mad at you!  Many of you may recall that I didn’t think last year’s entry into the series was a high point.  The main character, Connor, was not nearly as charasmatic as Ezio had been.  His main story was largely dull, and the story missions were often awkward and just not fun.  But I revisited the game earlier this year and discovered that all of the side activities around that story was a blast to play.  The world was beautiful and fun to just explore, and I never got tired of hunting and climbing through the trees.  ACIV: Black Flag looks to expand even further on the extra-curricular activities by boasting the largest game world for an AC game yet filled with islands to chart, treasures to find, ships to battle and loot to plunder.  Did I mention you’re a pirate this time around?  They dropped Connor in favor of another new character, Edward Kenway, who appears to be much more likable.  The gameplay looks further refined and the world is breathtaking, especially running on next gen hardware.  Here’s hoping they have some better story missions this time around, but even if not there should be a lot to like about this one.  It will be releasing on the two next gen systems at their launch, so that means it will be one of my first PS4 games on November 15.  I’m very, very excited!

INTEREST = HIGH

B4Battlefield 4
Release Date – October 29
Systems – PS3, 360, PC, PS4, XBOne

I always feel obligated to include these games because they’re such a big deal for many people.  It’s just that I’m not one of those people.  Therefore, I know practically nothing about this game other than it looks very pretty running on the new systems.  It will be available on those new systems at launch.

INTEREST = NONE

 

 

 

CODGCall of Duty: Ghosts
Release Date – November 5
Systems – PS3, 360, PC, Wii U, PS4, XBOne

Every single thing I said about Battlefield 4, apply it here.  Exact same thing.

INTEREST = NONE

 

 

 

 

 

WDWatch Dogs
Release Date – November 19
Systems – PS3, 360, Wii U, PC, PS4, XBOne

Watch Dogs looks amazing.  From the first time it was shown at 2012’s E3 it has amazed, and it continues to get more impressive as time goes by.  An open world game where you can hack into virtually anything – security cameras, cell phones, ATMs, traffic lights, etc. – and use that to your advantage in the real world.  I’ve honestly been trying to avoid any detailed information on this one because I want to go into it as fresh as possible.  But the concept is certainly promising, and I can’t wait to see if the execution lives up to it.  As for the release date, I’m not sure how exact that is as I’ve read that it will be a launch title for both the PS4 and XBOne, and since the PS4 is launching on the 15th that either means we will get it a few days early or the date will change.

INTEREST = HIGH

KSFKillzone: Shadow Fall
Release Date – November 15
Systems – PS4

This will be the third of my three planned PS4 launch titles, and the only exclusive of the bunch.  I’ve thought past games in the Killzone franchise were good but not great, but this one really looks to shake things up with more open-ended environments and a color palette that’s more than just brown and red.  It should make a good game to get a glimpse of what the PS4 is capable of as well as give me something to play online with friends to try out the new & improved online functionality of the new system.

INTEREST = MEDIUM

 

 

TATearaway
Release Date – November 22
Systems – Vita

Tearaway is a new game by Media Molecule, makers of the LittleBigPlanet series.  The big claim to fame for this one is that it supposedly uses all of the various functions of the Vita – front & rear touch, tilt functionality, etc. – to great effect.  This is being billed as a game that is only possible on Vita.  I’ll admit I’m curious about this one, but since I haven’t been overly impressed with the LittleBigPlanet games I’m taking a wait-and-see approach to it.  I’ve always felt Media Molecule’s ideas outpaced their ability, but hopefully this will be the game where both sync up nicely.

INTEREST = LOW

 

WWHDThe Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Release Date – TBD
Systems – Wii U

Wind Waker is my second-favorite Zelda game of all time – the first being A Link to the Past.  So when Nintendo announced that they were doing an HD remake of the game for the Wii U, I was very happy indeed.  The game was already gorgeous with its controversial at the time but now beloved cell shaded style.  And the screens and footage Nintendo has released of the remake all look incredible.  I already know the gameplay is solid, although even that is supposedly being tightened up some for the port.  Definitely an anticipated game for me, but the only thing that keeps it from ranking “high” is its timing – this Fall is packed with new games I want to play, so a remake will have to wait until probably next Spring.

INTEREST = MEDIUM

 

ALBWThe Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Release Date – TBD
Systems – 3DS

While we’re on the subject of Zelda, here’s another one I’m highly anticipating.  A Link Between Worlds is described as a direct sequel to A Link to the Past.  It’s as if Nintendo has read my mind concerning the Zelda series.  If they release a Majora’s Mask remake I’ll have to accuse them of spying on me.  What I’ve seen of ALBW looks every bit as charming as ALttP was back in the day.  It should make for a perfect portable game as well, so this one very well may be a day one purchase for me depending on timing.

INTEREST = HIGH

SM3DWSuper Mario 3D World
Release Date – TBD
Systems – Wii U

Rounding out the Nintendo trifecta is a new Mario game.  This one looks suspiciously similar to Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS.  Except apparently there’s a cat suit in this game.  It’s Mario, so the gameplay will be solid and it will probably make for a welcome addition to the Wii U’s library.  But it would have been nice to have seen another shake-up for the series along the lines of last gen’s Super Mario Galaxy.

INTEREST = LOW

RCITNRatchet & Clank: Into The Nexus
Release Date – TBD
Systems – PS3

After two spin-off games in the Ratchet & Clank series, Insomniac is back with another traditional game in the franchise – Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus.  Budget priced at $29.99, this is expected to be a shorter game than usual, but hopefully it will still pack the same punch as past main games in the series.  A definite buy for me – it’s hard to argue with that price point.

INTEREST = HIGH

 

 

FFXX2Final Fantasy X-X2 HD Collection
Release Date – TBD
Systems – PS3, Vita

I’m a huge JRPG fan, as a quick glance through the site will tell you.  Therefore as it stands to reason, I’m also a huge Final Fantasy fan.  And for my money, Final Fantasy X is the cream of the crop.  Amazing characters and story combined with fantastic combat and graphics make this one of my all-time favorite games.  And now Square-Enix has made it look even better.  Not content to simply churn out an up-res’d version of the original, they recreated character models, textures, etc. to give it a proper HD look.  Then they packed in Final Fantasy X-2 as well, which is a very underrated game in its own right.  The story may be weaker than in Final Fantasy X, but it has one of the best battle systems in the franchise that more than makes up for it.  Both games also include exclusive content never before released outside of Japan – new costumes and missions in X2, and a completely new alternate sphere grid layout in X are just a few of the additions.  As if that wasn’t enough, a nearly 30 minute audio drama has been recorded specifically for this set that will play over the final closing credits.  All of that for a measly $40 is highway robbery, even without the included artbook.

INTEREST = HIGH

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