We keep on truckin’ with another ten games that should whet your appetite for the new gaming year. Today’s motley gang touch upon as many diverse genres as humanly possible. We’ve got the likes of a PSN game from Eastern Europe, a Japanese RPG that doesn’t start with the word “Final”, a much-anticipated Western from a renown studio, and a movie tie-in that might actually be more in line with what people expect from the franchise in question that its last outing. Finally, and something many thought they’d never see in their lifetime, we have a Wii port.
No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise – Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture / Feelplus (port) | Publisher: Rising Star Games | Out: February 25th
Some see it as a sign of the Apocalypse. We view one of the best Wii games getting an HD sprucing up and eventual release on our console of choice as simply good business practice. Goichi Suda’s critically (if not commercially) well-received tongue-in-cheek action title jumps from Nintendo’s popular and ubiquitous console to the PS3 and 360 next year where it might actually sell some copies.
We won’t go into the whole 3rd party titles on the Wii issue here but, suffice to say, producers are waking up to the fact that Nintendo’s behemoth is exceptionally strong in some areas, but inherently weak in others. These same 3rd party producers are now looking at new options in an effort to get their titles into the hands of more gamers. Enter, the HD port.
No More Heroes is a natural candidate for ship-jumping. A slightly more mature title than the usual titles on the Wii, it’s also one of the rare non-1st party Nintendo titles that critics actually warmed to. Recognised for its novel structure and presentation, No More Heroes has enough attitude and quirkiness to impress a new audience next year.
Despite these qualities, the game still has its (non-Wii hating) detractors, with some owners of the original title bemoaning elements of the gameplay including a bad case of Assassin’s Creed-itis in terms of repetition. One thing there’s not much argument about, however, surrounds how jarringly unattractive the title was. At least in this area we will see a welcomed upgrade, with recent images of No More Heroes on the PS3 (now with the subtitle Heroes’ Paradise) looking quite nice indeed.
It’s a shame that the satirical (and cocky) nature of Travis Touchdown was not experienced by more gamers when he first hit the scene a couple of years ago. It would appear this issue will soon be remedied.
Planet Minigolf– Developer: ZEN Studios | Publisher: ZEN Studios | Out: TBC
Looks like Hungary’s ZEN Studios have a penchant for pitting people against each other in weekly tournaments. Whether it’s their previous arcade outing ZEN Pinball or the upcoming Planet Minigolf, it seems the Budapest based development house just loves to bring out the competitor in us.
As a pinball game, ZEN Pinball was executed with near perfection, picking up a respectable 8/10 when we reviewed it back in June of this year. If ZEN can recreate the same attention to detail and fun gameplay in their Minigolf title, we could be in for a real treat. Expect true-to-life physics and ball dynamics along with six customisble cartoony characters and interactive obstacles for you to overcome.
And look at that, not a Tiger Woods joke in sight.
Postal III – Developer: Running With Scissors | Publisher: Warner Bros. | Out: TBC
Gaming’s veritable punch-bag when it comes to showcasing some of the less than savoury elements of the industry, Postal returns for another media-bating storm next year.
This time a third person perspective excuse to motion-capture playboy bunnies, kill Gary Coleman and dispense with people in the most ludicrous and controversial ways possible, let’s not forget that Postal III will also sport a weapon called “the badgersaw.” Hopefully we’ll get to use it on Herr Uwe Boll who will make a cameo in the game. Oh dear, we’ve only gone and stooped to their level.
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands – Developer: Ubisoft Montréal/Québec | Publisher: Ubisoft | Out: May
There’s a discernible tang coming from Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. Maybe it’s the fact that it will shamelessly launch simultaneously with the Jerry Bruckheimer movie, or perhaps the fact that the upcoming PoP title has shirked the last Prince’s beautiful graphical direction in favour for the safeness of past endeavours. All this aside, the fact is, we’re finding it extremely hard not to get excited about what is essentially a return to what made Prince of Persia great in the first place.
The Forgotten Sands takes place a short time after the first game (no, not the side-scrolling platformer from 1989, the other one) and before the Persian patrician got all moody and started to prefer slicing people up rather than bouncing around on pillars above them.
While some might cynically focus on the move back toward the old series and the connection to the upcoming movie (which looks like a lot of fun by the way), The Sands of Time was one of the best games of the sixth generation of consoles. This fact alone means The Forgotten Sands not only gets a pass in our book, we’re eagerly anticipating it.
Quantum Theory – Developer: Team Tachyon | Publisher: Tecmo| Out: March 31st
Featuring an organic tower that provides cover and a buddy-system which allows you to call upon your female friend to fight your enemies for you, the biggest news this year about the consistently denoted “Gears of War wannabe” Quantum Theory is that it is also coming to the 360.
The other news some people seem to have forgotten was how Quantum Theory received early previews which suggested Tecmo’s action title wasn’t anything to write home about anyway. Probably why PS3 fans were not too bothered about losing an exclusive previously mooted as only possible on Sony’s console.
R.U.S.E – Developer: Eugen Systems | Publisher: Ubisoft | Out: TBC
When R.U.S.E first came to our attention we were convinced we’d have to go and purchase a Microsoft’s Surface device if we ever wanted to play it. Later it transpired that the snazzy reveal trailer was merely a stylistic ruse itself.
This is not the first time Ubisoft have tried to revitalise the RTS genre, with last year’s EndWar immediately coming to mind. Whether or not this WWII based stratergy sim will fare better (not that a Metacritic score of 77% is to be sneezed at) is anyone’s guess. We note that this is Paris based developer Eugen Systems’ first console title. Make of that what you will.
Rage – Developer: id Software | Publisher: Bethesda Softworks | Out: Q2 2010
After the ruckus this year about which console version of Rage was going to be better, we’re hoping the knives will stay sheathed on the run-up to its release and maybe we can just focus on the prospect of a new FPS from genre masters id Software.
Rage combines your standard FPS highjinks combined with some post-apocalyptic driving. A strange mix you might think, but when an asteroid has slammed into the Earth and turned the place to hell, you’re going to need some vehicles to get away from the mutated locales.
Interestingly, despite EA having first dibs, now that id Software is owned by ZeniMax Media (the parent company of Bethesda Softworks), Electronic Arts have been ousted from publishing the title with the honour now going to the aforementioned Bethesda.
Another interesting point about Rage is how id Software have decided to not support dedicated servers for the PC version of the game, much like what Infinity Ward did for Modern Warfare 2. When PC stalwarts id Software start espousing the console model, you know times have officially changed.
You can find out more about Rage at the website After the Impact.
Red Dead Redemption – Developer: Rockstar San Diego| Publisher: Rockstar Games | Out: April 27th
When you’ve created one of the most popular game series of all time, two things tend to happen. One, no matter what you do in the future, people will take notice. And two, speaking of future titles, you can pretty much do whatever the hell you please.
For all accounts, the Western gaming genre should not be as popular as it is. Considering the fact most people who are fans of the film genre are not gamers, it becomes apparent that any game featuring six-shooters and ten-gallon hats must be applauded for at least taking a chance.
One of the first of these games was Red Dead Revolver, a title from Grand Theft Auto’s Rockstar that pleasantly surprised many of those who took a punt on it back in 2004. With the open-world follow-up Redemption scheduled to hit next year, it’s amazing to think that, as a genre, the Western has really come into its own. Just look at these titles and the likes of the Call of Juarez games, and it just goes to show that you don’t need fast cars, uzis and hookers to keep the youth of today entertained.
Red Dead Redemption would appear to be something extra special, however. Just take a look at the recent footage that hit the web a few weeks ago and you’ll see production value that is literally second to none. It’s got all the hallmarks of Rockstar’s usual focus on character and story immersion, along with an attention to detail and the chance to really live out the life of an outlaw – consequences and all – that have us really looking forward to the title’s release next year.
Sure, call it GTA with cowboys all you want. We’ll take that concoction any day of the week.
Resonance of Fate – Developer: tri-Ace | Publisher: Sega | Out: TBC
Known as End of Eternity in Japan (actually, if we’re being pedantic, it’s known in the region as Endo Obu Etaniti, no seriously, it has an English (ish) title), Resonance of Fate concerns a distant future where resources are rare and mankind is now huddled together in one place. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
What we like about End of Resonance’s Fateful Eternity – or whatever it’s called – is its distinctive streampunk-esque aesthetic and the fact that Takayuki Suguro is directing. Who? Glad you asked. Though this is his first gig in the big chair, Suguro-san was a member of the design team on Vagrant Story and is something of a protégé of Yasumi Matsuno. Who? Oh dear. You have downloaded Vagrant Story from the PSN and marveled at its majesty by now, right?
While you’re at it, download the playable demo of End of Eternity (note the name change, it might give you a hint of what Store it’s on). Its turn-based combat can get a little repetitive, as can its scripted Resonance Attacks, but at least it’s pretty.
Singularity– Developer: Raven Software | Publisher: Activision | Out: TBC
If Singularity sounds a lot like Saber Interactive’s 2007 game Timeshift, you wouldn’t be far wrong. Both are FPSs, both use time displacement as a game mechanic, and both launched/will launch among a wealth of other – some might say stronger – FPS titles.
Singularity features a strange element (E99, which is probably a hat tip to Einsteinium) and covert government experiments on a mysterious island. By using the Time Manipulation Device (TMD), players can revert objects and even people to an atavistic state. While the obvious advantage would be to transform enemies into primordial ooze, other actions supported by the device offer up some interesting opportunities. You can repair downed bridges, make metallic doors rust through the use of the Age ability, and freeze objects in a form of temporal stasis in order to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.
Raven Software created this year’s fun and mindless – if somewhat limited – X-Men Origins: Wolverine game. Will Singularity fade into the past compared to some other bigger, bolder FPSs such as BioShock 2 in Q1 2010? Only time will tell. Ha! Eh … I’ll get my coat.
Just twenty more titles to go. Can you feel the end coming?