12 Aug 2013

Media - The Fall of 2013

Every fall, video games are released on mass for the holiday season and the slew of options are always so large that it's hard to pick one or the other. 2013 is the odd year, with the end of the 7th generation systems and the 8th generation of systems due out this fall the games being pushed our way are on the small side when compared to the selection of the last few years.

So today here is my list -

Splinter Cell: The Blacklist

First on the list today is the new Sam Fisher game. Check out the video and see you after the break.

Wow. Looks great, upgrading weapons and the mobile base is a neat touch. Being able to upgrade your armoury selection through purchasing new equipment sounds ok. Getting scored on missions is not a bad thing. Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Tenchu Stealth Assassins, and Dishonored did that really well. Sure why not? Co-op is looking good and so is the spies vs mercs. So why does the end of the trailer look like the end of Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Could Sam die at the hands of his new student much like he killed his own mentor and friend Irving Lambert? Maybe... Sam was getting old and this new youthful Sam is less pleasing to me eye. I'd be ok with the switch.

Otherwise this game is on my get list for a few reasons. Splinter Cell series has always tried to upgrade itself. The first two really pushed a new idea in the Stealth Action genre with a focus on stealth rather than action. The third game had a great co-op section and added the knife to the mix. When Double Agent the fourth game came out the idea of working undercover and sneaking through the hub between missions was brilliant and still today my favorite use of a hub in a mission based game. Conviction was the cream of the crop. It rocked new mechanics and cleaned up series staples that were starting to stagnate, put back in the much loved and brilliant co-op, and brought Sam into a new style and feel to the series. Splinter Cell: Blacklist looks like Conviction part 2 with more...

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Another Ubisoft game that also comes with a fancy trailer below.

Once again the folks who are owning my list have made a great looking game. Assassin's Creed 3 had some great aspects to it. I said so right here. I gave it a 4 out of 5 it was a well done game but it had some hicks and ups. One was the use of the history, it felt forced and pushed especially in the final act of the game. The ship sections was a favorite and were far too small. The collectables were fun and oddly addicting with the upgraded free running engine. The wilderness was brilliant and some of the missions were great. Add in great upgrades and some fun assassin calls to work your magic all Assassin's Creed 3 needed was a better fighting engine... oh wait it had that as well. The story in the first act was addictive and had a great twist. I liked finishing Desmond's story and I'd curious about the next 'Operator' for the animus.

I really like the look of the this game because I play Sid Meire's Pirates on my Xbox, iPad and even my old PC's back in the days of age thirteen. It seems that this new Assassin's Creed has more to do with Pirates then with the rest of the Assassin's Creed series and I'm ok with that. The Assassin's Creed story has always been a pull for me. Their mythology was huge hit in my house. Now add in the game play elements from the previous titles to give me the experience of one of the classics ... yeah sold.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Well another video to show off some gameplay and another to preview some of the multiplayer... something that raises questions I'll tell you why in a moment.

Ok, so it was multiplayer. Also the folks who made the last two games have given the series new a new team. It shows, the same feel is there but you can see the subtle differences from the old team to the new team. That's ok, this is the prequel. Speaking of which who is the Robin? It's suposed to be early in the series and the Arkham mythos that it should be Dick Grayson aka Nightwing as he was the first Robin. He even looks like a younger version of the Nightwing in Batman: Arkham City which I've been playing and enjoying quite a bit. Yet the look of the costume, the moves and the Joker's quick kicking of Robin's shit makes me think Jason Todd aka Red Hood, the second person to be Robin and the first to die while performing his duties. Tim Drake aka Red Robin, the third to take the name, was already in the last game so it's not him... even if his attitude screamed Jason rather than Tim.

Red Hood vs Nightwing
Jason Todd vs Dick Grayson
ex-Robins FIGHT!
I like the Batman Arkham series so far and they've told some great stories and the play on the characters I love to read about it done with such skill and style that I would even prefer the Arkham to some of the comic versions. This game looks like it's trying to be Batman: Arkham City mark II. That's ok. The story seems neat so far with the slew of assassin's being sent Batman's way over the Holiday season... yet I've a feeling they are holding back some of the features and letting us simply accept another well delivered Arkham title. If they do it well - torch passed, sales made and no one's pissed. If they do it well and bring in a few surprises like; flying the Batwing, more robust and developed detective gameplay (one of the few weaknesses by not finding a good mechanic), and decision making sections that change the game... well they'd win the hearts for the next title in the series and really wow'ed us. I may have set the bar pretty high here but I think there will be something we've not yet seen or experience in the Arkham series that I hope they put out with this next game. No harm if they don't but cudos and well done if they do.

Grand Theft Auto V

The closest release on this list, GTA has a great video to showcase the gameplay below.

So I love the GTA series. GTA 3 was a playground for me, the games that followed were fun. GTA: San Andreas was a favorite of mine after GTA 3 only to be matched but GTA 4. That was a brilliant game and felt more like an RPG then a 3rd person open world romp in sin and city. Rockstar are the masters of the open world/sandbox genre. The multiplayer in GTA 4 is still praised for the sheer ridiculous fun that seemed to be lacking from the main plot of the game. The Saints Row series of games, took the silly parts and have run with it but GTA was always a bit more clever and less on the nose. There is a time and place for each style, but GTA always kept me closer to the funny bone.

GTA 5 is showing another evolution in the series. Multi character story arc only explored in GTA 4 with DLC and extra game types. Heist planning and team choosing for said heists. Swapping while in mission at first made me feel as if I would be distanced from the experience from a single players eyes, but after seeing the video above I'm convinced, I'll get more from the missions and be able to jump back into the character's point of view with little difficulty. This switching looks slick and seamless. Add in mods for vehicles and weapons and whoa... GTA 5 may just take the crown of the series.

LEGO: Marvel Superheroes

It looks awesome as well but still no release date and it probably not until after the Holiday's... damn it it looks good.

Yes, the game has a fuck-ton of characters to rock and build with. Yes, it looks like it's using the multiplayer features like splitting screens and co-op fun mastered since LEGO: Batman, LEGO: Batman 2 DC Heroes, LEGO: Lord of the Rings and the LEGO: Harry Potter series. Yes, it's sucking off the tit of Wheadon's awesome flick Avengers... but that's ok.

Putting back the STARK logo back together
yes the 'A' looks very 'Avengers' in font
I'm looking forward to a LEGO game to claim my attention once more. The last couple of games lost me and lacked the imagination and fun that was locked in LEGO: Star Wars (I have the Complete Saga edition). Harry Potter came the closest to grabbing me to play through and strive for that OCD 100% score... I was at 99.6% when I lost my LEGO: Star Wars saves... damn it. Yet Mr. Potter didn't steal me. So I'm hoping with the huge cast of characters, many of whom are favorites of mine, that this new LEGO game gets my goat.

Xbox Live Arcade/Steam

XBLA has nothing fancy outside of Flashback and classic game I played on the SNES revamped and looking great. It was a mature and adult story that was refreshing for it's time. The upgrade looks great and once you see the video you can be sure to feel the pull of Flashback, especially if you never played the original.

It's the only XBLA game I'm looking hard at these days and even then it's a remake of a classic and not a new game/IP that got me like Mark of the Ninja, Shadow Complex, Dust: an Elysian Tale, Braid, and Baston. I know the XBLA scene will be slumping as the guard changes with the new console but nothing else is grabbing my attention and that seems too bad.

Steam has nothing since Shadowrun came out. I was hoping for another game to inspire me like FTL and the new games like Papers Please and Home are not striking my fancy. It's too bad but I'll wait for a good game rather then pick up a shity one. 

After Thoughts -

Watchdogs looks like another open world game with some neat mechanics. I've lauded it in past posts and my excitement for a new IP is still there but I'm looking at the masters of the open world game and Watchdogs seems pale and almost generic in comparison. I do find it funny that Ubisoft gets three mentions on this post but they are making the games I want. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 looks fun but no date has been given outside of November 2013. I also find it funny that most of the games listed above are open world games so I am biased. The annual FPSs have rarely grasped my attention and this season seems all the bleaker without a larger selection of games to clog my free time.

On second thought, for once I feel I may be able to enjoy my games this season a bit longer as I won't have to quarantine some of them for Springtime play or feel like a madman gorging on games in a short period of time. The season at least has some great offerings and many of them look to steal many hours from my family and friends... luck for me my wife won't let me get lost for long.