Time moves ever onwards, as does our selection of games for next year. Today features a good variety of titles, hopefully with something to keep everyone happy. Can you tell I’m running out of introductions already?
If you missed our carefully curated choice of 2012 titles from yesterday why not take a peek before seeing what we have on offer today?
80 Dead State
I can hear your cries of anguish already. “Oh no,” you shout, “Not another zombie game.” Yes, another zombie based title but Dead State isn’t your typical zombie based shooter, in fact it’s not a shooter at all. Instead Dead State fits comfortably in the RPG genre, and focuses more on long term survival than the typical “blast your way through a crowd of zombies” model that most zombie games seem to follow. In fact if I had to characterise this title based on what developers DoubleBear (founded by Obsidian veteran Brian Mitsoda two years ago) have said about it, I’d have to go with “The Walking Dead: The Game”.
The central reason for this comparison to the comic and TV series is that Dead State isn’t really about zombies; they serve more as the back drop to the game rather than the central focus. The zombies themselves are very much in the traditional stupid, shambling mob mold, and will pretty much leave you alone if you don’t draw too much attention to yourself. Instead the game is about surviving in the wake of a natural disaster, the disaster just happens to be a zombie epidemic.
Whilst trying to survive your character will head up a shelter in the small, fictional town of Splendid; a land-locked and isolated town in the middle of Texas. Given the zombie based disaster you’ll want to stick to Splendid and other small towns=; heading towards a city is pretty much suicide. As the head of the shelter you’re not only responsible for your own survival, but that of the others in Splendid.
Overall, Dead State sounds like it has the kind of depth and freedom that can either be a blessing or a curse. It’s one I’ll be keeping an eye on myself with the hope that it will pan out into a fulfilling and realistic experience. At the very least it sounds like it’ll be a lot more interesting than just blasting zombies in their undead faces.
One of the small oddities of the Indie Games Festival (IGF) is that games can be submitted to the associated awards years before they actually make it to consumers. There are obvious pros and cons to this approach, one of the clear pros being that it allows some precious publicity for indie games that either don’t want to use or can’t afford to employ traditional PR. In fact if Fez hadn’t won the Excellence in Visual Art award at the IGF back in 2008 I doubt I would ever have heard of the intriguing indie title. Putting aside any issues with the criteria of the IGF awards it’s hard to argue that Fez didn’t deserve to win the award; employing a voxel (think three-dimensional pixels) art style the game’s look certainly sticks with you.
It’s not just the art style that sticks out, the gameplay is certainly intriguing as well. At its core Fez is a 2D puzzle platformer but it’s a little tricky to try and explain what sets it apart. Although all the action takes places on a 2D plane and everything appears in 2D for the most part, the world is actually 3D. Essentially any section of platforming or movement is in 2D but you can stop at any point and rotate the world itself by 90 degrees.
This rotation mechanic forms the core of the game’s puzzle mechanics; as you rotate the world platforms will line-up allowing you to move through the level. As the world is 2D whilst you’re moving through it, it doesn’t actually matter if these platforms line-up in 3D, as long as they line-up from a 2D view then you can jump between them.
Sound confusing? Like I said, it’s a tricky game to try and describe. Your best bet might be to take a look at this video which gives you a real feel of how the game plays. Personally I can’t wait to get my hands on Fez, and after being pushed back from a release this year hopefully it doesn’t slip again.
78 Fatal Frame
The latest entry in the Fatal Frame series is proving a tricky one to track down any info about. Although the game was announced back in 2010 it would seem everything’s been a little quiet on the game since then. However, we’ve seen the title listed for 2012 so it earns a place on our list.
Although we can’t say much about what might make the fifth instalment in the main Fatal Frame series unique, we can tell you about the series in general. If you’re not familiar with the series it’s a survival horror franchise which is made all the scarier by the lack of any “real” weapons in the game; if you want to try and blast your way through a game then Fatal Frame really isn’t for you. Instead of guns, or even your more available edged weaponry, the main weapon in the series is the Camera Obscura, an antique camera that can capture the spirits that trouble you as you make your way through the game.
This lack of any real weaponry does help to set Fatal Frame apart from your average survival horror, with many ranking it highly against its peers. We can only hope that some details on the next title in the series do emerge, and the game does appear in 2012.
77 Ridge Racer Unbounded
I’ll be honest here, I don’t think I’ve ever actually played a Ridge Racer title before; if I have it’s certainly not a series that’s stuck with me in anyway. I say this to make it clear that I have no basis of comparison for the little of Ridge Racer Unbounded I managed to try at EGX. Perhaps the sheer level of insanity I experienced when trying out the racer in September is normal for the series, or perhaps Unbounded stands alone in the craziness stakes.
When thinking of Unbounded I like to imagine the developers at Bugbear standing up after a marathon session of Burnout, turning to each other and saying “You know what? I’m not sure those crashes are really crazy enough.” It’s not just cars though you can violently remove in Unbounded though, there’s a good amount of environmental destruction going on as well. Sadly though it’s not the entire world that can come down around you, it’s merely selected elements.
Now, I know your mind has jumped instantly to Split Second but it’s not quite like that. Although you’re constrained in your destruction abilities, you’re not just triggering events like in Black Rock’s racer. Instead if your boost meter is full to the brim you can burn through the whole thing in one go to take out a particularly frustrating wall and open up a new route. Of course, it’s only the walls that the game highlights as destructible that can take the brunt of your boost fuelled rage but it’s enough to make the game seem fairly ridiculous.
Taking out a few walls does not a good game make though, and I’m taking a wait and see approach to how the full game comes out.
76 Brothers in Arms: Furious 4
Who remembers Ubisoft’s frankly bizarre press conference from E3 this year? I certainly do, in fact I’m not sure I could ever forget it. Whilst the presentation by the faintly terrifying Mr. Caffeine is what will probably stick with anyone who watched the conference unfold, their show was certainly full of surprises around the games themselves. Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 may not be quite at the top of the list of shocks but I don’t think it was an announcement that anyone saw coming.
My perception of the Brothers in Arms series has always been as a fairly gritty World War II shooter, in some ways the gaming equivalent of the Band of Brothers TV series. Aside from retaining the World War II setting, Furious 4 seems about as distant as possible from the core Brothers in Arms trilogy. Rather than being dark and depressing, the latest Brothers in Arms game takes a completely overblown and crazy approach to war, almost seeming to draw inspiration from Epic’s Bulletstorm.
Of course sitting at 76 in our list means we’re at least a little excited about the game here at TSA Towers, and although it does seem like a significant departure from the core Brothers in Arms concepts that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be bad. The unique styling and core design of the game might actually make it shine through in the increasingly crowded shooter market.