We’re more than half way through August and things are really starting to heat up, at least in terms of new releases. As we edge closer to September and the next-gen landscape beyond, publishers are sporting their last cluster of major titles before the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One go on sale.
Saints Row IV | PS3, Xbox 360, PC | Friday
To kick things off we have Volition Inc.’s robust open-world gangster sim, Saint’s Row IV. If you’re new to the series you’d be forgiven for comparing the franchise to Rockstar’s genre-leading flagship, Grand Theft Auto. However, since 2011’s third instalment, the developer has steered Saints Row in a different direction, opting for over-the-top set pieces and balls-out parody rather than a personal underdog story and subtle satire.
With the IP now in the hands of Deep Silver, Saints Row IV is just that little bit crazier. Instead of ruling the city as its crime overlord, you’ll become president in a time of dire need as aliens descend from the sky above. Gameplay is exactly what you’d expect if you’ve just come away from Saints Row: The Third, with new weapons and even a few superpowers to mess around with.
We scored the game a 7/10 in our review, describing it as “a really fun game but it’s nothing at all original” due to its nature as a parody. The game releases this Friday.
Disney Infinity | PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, 3DS | Friday
Over the past couple of years we’ve watched Skylanders develop from somewhat of a laughing stock to an underdog and now to an industry leader. It’s been a remarkable evolution and has no doubt drawn thousands of non-gamers into the market. However, Disney is about to stick its own flag into the previously-monopolised fertile soil with its own brand of toy-based video game splendour.
In premise, Disney Infinity is near identical to Skylanders. In order to access characters in-game you’ll first need to own a figure bearing their likeness. Once transported into Disney’s customisable virtual world you’ll then be free to explore and build to your heart’s content.
The real difference between these titans will be gameplay itself. Skylanders – even in its upcoming iteration – is a basic, top-down action adventure game that’s completely linear and, in my opinion, unplayable for gamers past a certain age. Infinity, however, is more of a gamer’s game. Though still fairly simple, environments are fully 3D and can be navigated using a variety of gadgets. The game’s “Toy Box” mode is the real selling point though, presenting an easy, creative world-builder for players to dabble in.
The Wonderful 101 | Wii U | Friday
Platinum’s Pikmin-esque Wii U exclusive may not have been met by a string of perfect reviews, but it’s an ideal ambassador for the system. The Japanese studio – which has now turned its efforts towards Bayonetta 2 – has created something quirky with The Wonderful 101. It’s a tactical action game in which players lead a roving horde of superheroes around the screen to battle the invading Geathjerk.
As Blair said in his review, the game’s visuals are superb. The rich, vibrant colours and tilt-shift camera give The Wonderful 101 a mesmerising appearance, as if someone is looking into real-life miniature world.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist | PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U | Friday
Sam Fisher is back from the shadows once again with more stealth-action antics. This time he and his team of ragtag special ops will go head to head with a shady terrorist organisation who demand the return of all US soldiers from foreign soil.
It’s an interesting premise though the core game experience has changed little. Blacklist can be likened to a “best hits” album for the series, compiling all of its best ideas into a single bundle and letting it loose across several hours of espionage gameplay.
In Peter’s 8/10 review, he described the game as one with “plenty of variation” and highlighter how there’s still “plenty to endear Splinter Cell: Blacklist to new fans and old.”
Fans of Conviction’s multiplayer component will also be glad to hear that Spies vs. Mercs has made a return. The revamped online mode now houses eight players in tactical four-on-four shoot outs.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified | PS3, Xbox 360, PC | Friday
While the last game with “declassified” in the title wasn’t much to shout about, The Bureau is shaping up to be a good game, mixing third-person shooting with XCOM’s renowned tactical and squad options.
It seems very fresh and different to some of the current releases, with the 1960 setting paving the way nicely for the alien-heavy narrative. It will also explore cultural tensions of the 1960s, focusing on the struggles of a scientist named Dr. Weir, persecuted not only because of his political views, but because of his homosexuality.
Our review of the game went live when the embargo lifted earlier this morning, we scored it 8/10 and described the game as “a very pleasant surprise” and another “successful XCOM mission.”
Quite a few big releases this week, then. Which of them will you be picking up and which will you let slip past?