Fall video-game preview: lots of sequels and high expectations

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      Admittedly, many of the games coming this fall are sequels and new chapters in franchises with which we’re all familiar. But we’ve got high expectations of them. Here’s what you can look forward to playing over the next few months.

      The fun begins next week with the release of Resistance 3 (Sony) and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (THQ). The former is set entirely in the U.S., now completely overrun by the alien antagonists, the Chimera, and has gamers fighting their way to New York. The latter comes from Vancouver’s Relic Entertainment and is a third-person action game, something new from the studio, which is known for its strategy titles. Later in the month, the final chapter of Epic Games’ first-person shooter franchise ratchets up the stakes, with Marcus Fenix trying his best not to destroy the entire planet in Gears of War 3 (Microsoft).

      Also due in September are the latest updates to two of EA Sports’ acclaimed franchises, both of which are made in Burnaby at EA Canada. FIFA 12 introduces new defending features and better renders player collisions, while NHL 12 boasts improved physics so players can recover from checks. For the first time, players can become Wayne Gretzky in the Be a Legend career mode.

      A sequel to Demon’s Souls, the sleeper hit of last year, Dark Souls (Namco Bandai) is an open-world game that is rumoured to be even more difficult than its predecessor. Dead Rising 2: Off the Record (Capcom), developed by Capcom Vancouver (formerly Blue Castle Games), heralds the return of photojournalist Frank West and the game mechanic that rewards players for taking photos. Batman: Arkham City (Warner Bros.) is a return to the stealth and action that are pitch perfect for becoming Batman. In this sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum, gamers can play as Robin and Catwoman, too. As October comes to an end, Electronic Arts takes aim with Battlefield 3, the wartime shooter being developed in Sweden by DICE. The buzz at E3 suggests this game is something special.

      The rogue Nathan Drake is back in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Sony). This episode takes inspiration from the life of T. E. Lawrence. One of the most successful franchises ever gets a new installment with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision). Because of personnel problems—Infinity Ward cofounders Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired by Activision during development—two other studios helped get this one ready for release. Leela (THQ) for Kinect for Xbox 360 and Wii was conceived by Deepak Chopra; the title means “play” in Sanskrit. In a trailer for the game, Chopra claims that “if you let go and flow with this game, you will let go and flow with life.”

      A new open-world fantasy role-playing game is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda). With every game, designer Todd Howard improves on what he’s done before, and this game incorporates gameplay features that became part of Fallout 3. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Microsoft) is a welcome excuse to return to the 2001 game that started so much. It’s the same game but with remastered graphics. Also new is online co-op and additional back story, and it ships with some of the most popular multiplayer maps created for the game.

      Link makes a return to the Wii in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo) in an adventure that has gamers using motion controls to swing a sword and shoot a bow. Story becomes the focus in Need for Speed: The Run (EA), the new racing game in development at EA Black Box in Burnaby. Here, players take part in an illegal race from San Francisco to New York. In a first for the franchise, players will have to control their character outside a vehicle. Ezio, the protagonist of the latest Assassin’s Creed games, travels to Constantinople in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (Ubisoft) and relives the memories of Altair, the hero of the first game. Meanwhile, in the present day, Desmond Miles, trapped in his mind, tries to escape a coma.

      Vancouver’s Slant Six comes up with a new look for Capcom’s survival-horror franchise with Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City, a tactical shooter experience. The War of the Worlds (Paramount) is a side-scrolling take on the H. G. Wells novel, with narration by Patrick Stewart. The creative developers at thatgamecompany will finally be releasing Journey (Sony), a unique and beautiful take on multiplayer gaming. Among its many offerings this fall, Nintendo will be bringing Super Mario to the 3DS handheld. And all eyes will be looking for one of the biggest games ever—in terms of development time, cost, and what’s at stake—to finally make an appearance. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic (LucasArts/EA), being developed by BioWare, will have gamers upgrading Windows computers in order to play.




      Sep 1, 2011 at 9:03am

      "Because of personnel problems—Infinity Ward cofounders Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired by Activision during development"
      should read
      "Because of corporate greed--Infinity Ward cofounders Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired by Activision during development"