Sunday, March 28, 2010

Games I'm Excited For

Since I finished my "Greatest Games of the Decade" awhile ago, I thought I'd do something new for an article: list and discuss some games that haven't come out yet that I'm excited for. Most of these games are coming out sometime this year, although there are a few that are still uncertain or are coming out in 2011. This will be broken down into two categories: "Games I'm Really Excited For", and "Games I'm Somewhat Excited For". These will be listed in no particular order in their respective categories.

- Games I'm Really Excited For

These are the games I'm really, really looking forward to, and have either already pre-ordered or will most likely pre-order once an official release date is given.

1. Fallout: New Vegas

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: RPG/First-Person Action
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date (NA): Fall 2010

If you like Fallout 3, you'll probably like this game. This game promises to be very similar to Fallout 3, but with slightly tweaked and improved gameplay, and a whole new story, location, and characters. Obsidian is developing the game using the main Fallout 3 engine, but they've said they have made some improvements to make V.A.T.S. and other things work better. Obsidian is known for having good story and dialogue in their games, so that coupled with Fallout 3's gameplay should be really good. No official release date has been given yet, but look for it in fall (most likely November) later this year.

2. Brink

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: FPS
Developer: Splash Damage
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date (NA): Fall 2010

Brink looks like it's going to be a very creative and original FPS. One part Call of Duty, one part Mirror's Edge, one part Battlefield, one part Team Fortress 2, one part Quake, and one part modern art (which I usually dont like, but it looks cool here). The story seems original and the gameplay definitely looks fresh and exciting. Hopefully Splash Damage can pull it off and start off a new IP with a great new game. Look for it this fall (probably September or October)

3. Rage

Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: FPS/Racing
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date (NA): TBA 2010

A post-apocalyptic FPS from the makers of the Doom games. An asteroid hit earth and now everyone who's left is doing whatever it takes to survive. This game also has racing elements, with inspiration taken from racing games such as the Burnout series. Not many details have been released yet, and the lack of any new information makes me think that this game might not be out in 2010 at all. It's just a hunch right now, but dont be surprised if this one gets pushed back to 2011.

4. Super Mario Galaxy 2

Platform: Wii
Genre: 3D Platformer
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date (NA): May 23, 2010

The follow-up to the smash hit Super Mario Galaxy, this game finds Mario once again cruising through space, but with some new features. The big one is the inclusion of everyone's favorite little green dinosaur, Yoshi. This might not sound like much, but it actually adds a lot of cool gameplay elements. Now I just have to finish the first one by May 23!

5. Portal 2

Platform: PC, Mac, Xbox 360
Genre: 3D Puzzle/First Person Action
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Release Date (NA): Holiday 2010

The sequel to the surprisingly popular Portal should finally be arriving this year. Unlike the first Portal, which came packaged with the Orange Box and was only a few hours long, this one will be a full retail game by itself. GLaDOS, Chell, and the Aperture Science Labs all return, along with much more. Portal 2 should be out before Christmas (probably sometime in November). You can pretty much count on this game being a HUGE SUCESS.

6. Batman: Arkham Asylum 2

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Third Person Action/Adventure, Stealth
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Eidos Interactive/Warner Bros.
Release Date (NA): TBA

This one is probably still a ways off, but I loved the first game and am really looking forward to what Rocksteady is going to do with second one. Hopefully they will find the right balance of adding enough new stuff for it to feel fresh, but not taking it too far from its roots. And please, no Robin (even though rumors are he's going to be in it).

7. Rock Band 3

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2
Genre: Music/Rhythm
Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: MTV Games
Release (NA): Holiday 2010

Besides the fact that there will probably be 60+ new songs that come with this (hopefully some good ones), I have a feeling that we'll see the three-part harmony feature from Beatles Rock Band make its way into this game for many of the songs. That is especially great for parties, because now you can have 6 people playing instead of just 4. Hopefully we'll some other cool new features too besides just new songs and harmonies.

8. Half-Life 2: Episode 3/Half-Life 3

Platform (unconfirmed): PC, Xbox 360, Mac
Genre: FPS, Puzzle
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Release Date (NA): Valve has just confirmed it will probably be out by 2030... just kidding. Sometime in 2011 (hopefully).

Fans have been waiting for this game for what seems like forever now. Although it is still technically "Half-Life 2: Episode 3," the fact that it's been in development for so long has led some people to believe that it has become a full game and Valve will eventually announce that it is now just Half-Life 3. Either way, it should be great.

- Games I'm Somewhat Excited For:

These are games I am still looking forward to, but for some reason have some reservations about. Whether or not I get most of these games will depend on the reviews and whether or not my friends get them (if the game contains multiplayer).

Fable III

Platform: Xbox 360, PC
Genre: Third Person Action/Adventure, RPG
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date (NA): Holiday 2010

Fable games have a history of getting my hopes up pre-release, and then disappointing me once I play them. Fable II, while not a bad game, definitely did this to me. But, like clockwork, when I start to read about some of the stuff that will be in Fable III, I start to get excited about it. It will also most likely include some Natal support, which should be interesting.

Alpha Protocol

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Obisidian Entertainment
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date (NA): June 1, 2010

This game has been delayed several times, but it looks to finally be coming out in June. It's a spy-RPG set in modern times with real time combat. It looks like it will have a lot of customization options for you character too, from how he looks to what kind of skills he has. Hopefully all the delay time will pay off and this game will show everyone what Obsidian is capable of if given enough time to properly finish a game.

Alan Wake

Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Third Person Action/Adventure, "Psychological Thriller"
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date (NA): May 18, 2010

Another game that has been years in the making with plenty of delays. I'm not quite sure what to make of this one. It looks like an action/horror game with a good story. I'll wait for the reviews on this one, but I hope it does well.

Monster Hunter 3 (or Tri)

Platform: Wii
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date (NA): April 20, 2010

This game has been out for a while in Japan, and it has sold really well there and done well critically too. You and up to 3 friends (online) basically run around and hunt giant monsters in all sorts of environments. Once killed, you can use parts of the monster to upgrade your equipment if you desire. It is an RPG too, so you also level up and have skills and stuff like that (from what I understand). People love it in Japan, so it'll be interesting to see how it does over here. Assuming it gets good reviews, I'm hoping some of my friends might get it too, since most of them have Wiis that they never use.

Halo: Reach

Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: FPS
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date (NA): Fall 2010 (probably around September)

I'm a bit divided on this game. It's a Halo game, so of course I'm going to get it, and some of the new things they've shown look kind of cool. But the multiplayer trailer looks a lot like Halo 3 with just those new things. Hopefully I'll see I'm wrong in the beta coming in May, but I already payed $60 for a Halo game that wasn't worth that much (ODST), and I'm hoping I wont have to do it again.

Metroid: Other M

Platform: Wii
Genre: From what I understand, a mix of 2D Platforming/Action, 3D Action, and FPS
Developer: Project M (a mix of Team Ninja and Nintendo)
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date (NA): June 27, 2010

Another game I'm not quite sure what to expect from. A mix of several genres, a lot of the game is played like a classic 2D Metroid game, while other parts are 3D third-person combat that supposedly feels a lot like Ninja Gaiden. This game is still much of a mystery, but I'll be keeping an eye on it.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

Platform (unconfirmed): Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii
Genre: Third Person Action
Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
Release Date (NA): TBA

I had mixed feelings about the first one, but overall liked it. The gameplay and graphics were great, and it's always a blast to be a jedi. Hopefully this game will keep those good parts while improving on them and other parts. Some multiplayer game modes would be nice too.

Crackdown 2

Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Third Person Action, Sandbox
Developer: Ruffian Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date (NA): July 6, 2010

The first Crackdown was a lot of fun, and this one looks like it's going to improve on it in every way. The campaign is being designed so up to 4 players can play through the whole thing together, and there is also going to be online multiplayer (things like deathmatch, etc.) All the previews of this game seem to be very positive so far. Whether or not I get this will depend on if any of my friends do, since (even though you can play through it by yourself) it sounds like they're really designing it with co-op in mind.


Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: FPS
Developer: Raven Software
Publisher: Activision
Release Date (NA): Summer 2010

Another game that's been delayed several times, it has a cool concept but everything will depend how it's executed within the game. This game gives you a device that lets you control time in either direction (forward or backward) on objects. For instance, if you come to a bridge that's out, you can rewind time on it to a time when it was once still serviceable. Or you can fast forward time on your enemies to turn them to dust and ash. Apparently you'll be able to do this to lots of stuff in the game. The concept sounds really cool, but we'll see how well it works. Raven's last FPS, Wolfenstien (2009), wasn't that great, and FPS shooters that have tried to let you control time (think Timeshift) haven't usually worked that well. We'll see though.

Dead Space 2

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Third Person Shooter, Survival/Horror
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date (NA): Late 2010-Early 2011

I only played a little of the first one, but what I played I really enjoyed. While there still aren't a lot of details on this game yet, it will apparently focus a little more on action and a little less on horror (though it still should be scary). Also, there is going to be a multiplayer mode, though they haven't given any details on that yet though. Hopefully it will be a versus mode like L4D. How cool would it be to have 4 engineers have to fight off players playing as necromorphs?

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii (all through DLC)
Genre: 2D Platformer
Developer: Dimps, Team Sonic
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date (NA): Summer 2010 (for the first episode)

Sonic 4 is finally coming through 3 downloadable episodes, the first of which comes this summer. The original Sonic games for the Sega Genesis are still amazing and really fun to play, and it looks like for Sonic 4 they've gone back to their roots, only with really pretty HD graphics this time (unless you're playing on a Wii). This game will only be available through the Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Store, and WiiWare, and (as stated before) will be broken up into 3 "episodes". Hopefully this will finally be the good Sonic game everyone's been waiting so long for (the last several 3D Sonic games have sucked).

Well, those are the games I'm excited for as of March 2010. Thanks for reading, and hopefully you've gotten some ideas for games you might plan on getting later this year (and even into 2011). As always, I love getting comments, and if you were to make your own list on a blog or something, I would love to read it. Also, I reserve the right to add games to this list if I think of them later or if someone points one out to me I forgot. Thanks!

Sup, Pouch?

Mmm. Now I'm all up in your email.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening

"Not Enough of a Good Thing"

I was obviously a big fan of Dragon Age: Origins (seeing as it was my favorite game from the year 2009), so I was very excited when they announced there would be an expansion pack not too far into the year. Unfortunately, this was not nearly the expansion pack I had hoped for, especially given the untypical high price.

Quick Facts:

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: RPG
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date (NA): March 16, 2010
Rating: M

To be blunt, this expansion is only mediocre, which would be okay for some games, but I had much higher hopes for a game I loved as much as Dragon Age. Also, I feel the $39.99 price tag (which is unusually high for an expansion pack) is not justified by the content (both in quantity and quality) found in the expansion. The expansion is not terrible, but it is definitely lacking many of qualities that made the original title such a great game. While short and underwhelming, Awakening also is not nearly as engrossing or enticing as the original game, and yet costs 2/3 of the original title's price.

*Minor spoilers are ahead if you haven't finished the original game (by which I mean Dragon Age: Origins; there are no spoilers for the expansion I'm currently reviewing), read on at your own risk*

The main plot of Awakening is that even though you ending the blight by killing the archdemon, the darkspawn have not all retreated back underground. Something is keeping them here attacking the surface, even though the blight should be over. Also, they seem to be gaining an intelligence that they had never possessed before, which makes them even more dangerous. While this story has potential, the execution which the game carries it out is not great. You can either create a new character or import your character from the original game. You start at the same spot for both options, there is no new origin story for a new Grey Warden character. Also, if you import your character from the original, regardless of what happened at the end of that game, you come in alone. It doesn't matter if you had a dog imprinted on you, or if you told your love interest you would stay by their side, the only thing that carries over from the original is (most of) your inventory and stats. A few decisions from your game may carry over, but these are usually insignificant, and the game is mainly streamlined so that every player will have almost the same experience.

The story's execution is only okay, and besides the new story, there's not much else that comes with this expansion pack. The level cap does rise a little, and there are a few new specialization classes/skills which can at least be interesting. There is a new cast of party members, and while they all have their moments, because the expansion is so short there really isn't enough time to get to know them like you could with the characters in Origins. And, without spoiling anything, I found the ending to be very abrupt and unfulfilling, which (come to think of it) is a great way to summarize the game as a whole.

While this review has had a mostly negative tone, there are some good things. Like I said, the story has potential to be great, it's just not fleshed out enough. There are also a few things, like running the justice system of your land, that were interesting and really took me back to Baldur's Gate II. And, even though the gameplay hasn't changed much, that's okay with me because I loved the original so much. My main complaint with Awakening is that it feels rushed: there isn't enough content in it, and the content that is there is decent but would have benefitted from having more time and more content to go with it. The lack of quantity itself affects the quality of the stuff that is there, if that makes sense.

My recommendation would be to wait on this. It's not a bad expansion pack, but (especially when the price is considered) it's not great either. If the price tag had been lower, say $25-$30 (instead of $40), then I think this would have been a more positive review. Chances are if you loved Dragon Age as much as me and some of my friends did then you already have it; but if you did enjoy Dragon Age and you haven't bought this yet then I would say to wait a while until it drops by at least $10.

In Summary:

Pros: The story and characters have a lot of potential, the gameplay is slightly tweaked and improved and great as ever (assuming you liked Dragon Age: Origins), you can import your character from the original and keep most of your stuff, some interesting side quests.

Cons: The story and characters (as mentioned above) aren't given enough time to develop and be fleshed out, other side quests are short or just plain uninteresting, lack of content for such a high price point, visually many of the areas look the same - it looks like they're recycling scenery, abrupt and unfulfilling ending, overall feels rushed.

FINAL SCORE: 3 out of 5

Note: All reviews on this site are solely the subjective opinion of the author. If you disagree with my review please feel free to post in a polite manner and state your opinion. I welcome respectful discussion on my blog and would love to get feedback on my review and also read yours. Thanks!

Monday, March 15, 2010