The Holiday season is fast approaching and we all need to start thinking about what to get as gifts for those we care about (or for ourselves as personal presents). For those of us who are gamers we know that this is shaping up to be a crowded marketplace for new games on all the major platforms. With all of these choices, deciding what to buy someone can be a very daunting task. Being faced with these decisions as well, we decided to research all the upcoming and recently released games for all platforms and come up with a definitive list of must have games in each major genre (Action, First Person Shooter, Fighting, RPG, Sports, Strategy and Other) for all the platforms. We will look at not just what games to buy, but why they should be bought! Please note all release dates are based on North American street dates.
So without further ado, let’s get to the Guide!
Part 1 – Xbox 360
Part 2 – Playstation 3
The Playstation 3 has struggled to gain a market foothold in it’s first year since launching worldwide last fall, price concerns, development delays and lost exclusives have plagued the electronics giant. This Holiday season Sony is coming out swinging, with massive price cuts on their large 80GB model and a newly introduced $399 40GB model they are ready to enter the ring again with a second wind. To further improve their chances they are slated to launch a number of notable exclusives (Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank, Haze, Eye of Judgment) in the next month that are sure to attract a lot of new consumers to the PS3 this year. It is becoming a very good time to be a PS3 owner and this holiday season a lot of gamers will be very happy.
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune
The newest game from Naughty Dog (creators of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter) looks to be a surefire hit for the PS3. Uncharted: Drakes Fortune is a third person action game following Nathan Drake as he travels the globe looking for the treasure of Sir Francis Drake, who may be a long lost relative. The game will feature incredibly realistic characters and lush graphics that will likely be a showcase for the system. Combat in the game is a mix of hand to hand and gunplay, the hand to hand combat is very detailed with disarms, knockouts and parries mixing up the action very nicely. This game is heavily hyped but with a developer like Naughty Dog at the helms all signs point to this being an outstanding game and one any PS3 gamer should own.
Why Buy it? This game has been on the must buy list for the PS3 since it was announced. The compelling storyline, amazing graphics and Indiana Jones style of action has had fans waiting a long time for it’s release. One of the things that sets the game apart is the main character Nathan Drake, he is an accomplished hand-to-hand fighter, gun fighter and adventurer, when the action starts Nathan can handle anything that comes his way. The battles are always impressive, but in particular the had to hand fights shine, when fighting you can chose to disarm your opponent, if you do so the action slows and the gun is highlighted. You can then grab the gun out of midair and us it on your foe. There are blocks, parries, dodges and cover maneuvers… all of this together will keep any gamer excited as the play through this game, Uncharted: Drakes Fortune is set to hit store shelves on November 20th.
Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
Insomniac games is responsible for not only Ratchet and Clank series on the PS2 but also the breakout hit of the PS3 launch – Resistance: Fall of Man. With their experience on the PS3 platform and obvious love and knowledge of the Ratchet and Clank universe the newest chapter is sure to please. The Ratchet and Clank games features a Lomax named Ratchet (last of his species) and a wisecracking morphing robot called Clank. Together these two unlikely heroes gather out of this world weaponry like Tornado guns (actually creates a Tornado) and the Groovitron (a disco ball appears and all creatures are compelled to dance), to battle menacing aliens and robots in their quest to save the universe. Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it further refines an outstanding game play experience and fleshes it out with some of the best graphics the PS3 has yet seen.
Why Buy it? Insominiac Games has poured a lot of heart into this game, they have added a slightly more mature story (for a Ratchet and Clank game) into the mix and obviously amped up the graphics considerably. The game play in this title is just fun, there is no other way to describe it. At times you will be racing, playing as Clank, battling hoards of enemies, waging space battles or sliding on rails avoiding attacks, but no matter what you will have a blast playing this game. It is a high water mark title for the PS3 and since they have added numerous side quests, challenge modes, mini games and difficulty levels this will be a game you or a friend will be enjoying for a long time.
This groundbreaking title will be released on November 16th and it stars the assassin Altair. the game is set in the Middle Ages during the dark times of the third crusades and you will guide Altair through a series of assassination missions that can be completed in numerous ways (through stealth, poison, brute force, trickery, etc.) It is a third person action game that is sure to please that gamer who is looking for a stealth action game like no other.
Why Buy it? Assassin’s Creed not only features incredibly impressive visuals it will also introduce numerous new features such as blending with crowds, context sensitive walking (you can walk carefully around people or jostle them as you walk and attract attention) an innovative battle system and the ability to scale any surface that has a remotely viable handhold (brick, stone, and various other surfaces will all have seams and handholds). Plus to add even more to the already intriguing game, Assassin’s Creed has a futuristic angle that has yet to be revealed but looks to add excitement to an already great looking game.
FIRST PERSON SHOOTER
On November 27th Ubisoft will be releasing Haze as an exclusive on the PS3, this shooter focuses on the morality of being a living weapon and it is sure to add a new dimension to story based FPS games. In Haze you start the game playing as a soldier who is constantly being fed Nectar through a helmet system, this Nectar gives you increased speed, accuracy and resilience, but it also distances you from the battlefield. When enemies are shot, there is no blood visible and dead bodies disappear, it is a sterilized view of war. Through the course of this high action game you will be freed of Nectar and realize how horrible war and your previous warriors really where. From there you join the resistance and attempt to undermine an oppressive society. This game promises to deliver a riveting story, innovative features and of coursed stunning graphics and effects. This will be a great shooter that will stand out in the crowded this holiday season.
Why Buy it? As mentioned Haze will attempt to introduce a moral viewpoint to the act of war, how horrible it is and how you would feel if you discovered after the fact all the pain and bloodshed you caused without really knowing what you were doing. The mechanics of the game and how your character evolves from a super soldier to a basically strung out freedom fighter with a different arsenal and tactics tells a compelling tale. Interesting mechanics like Nectar bombs that cause the soldiers to overdose or playing dead as a freedom fighter to disappear from the soldiers views will make this a game that has you re-thinking how you play a first person shooter. The graphics are another selling point, promising to really show how the PS3 can be a graphical powerhouse for these types of games.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
The developers of Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2 return to the franchise with Modern Warfare. The series, which has always been exceptional, promises to take a huge step forward with a modern slant on their series. As in other CoD games, you will play as different characters from a U.S. marine and British SAS, as the story progresses. This game promises to deliver a stirring story and edge-of-your-seat game play.
Why Buy it? Ignoring the fact that developer Infinity Ward has an impressive roster of hit games, CoD 4 has the potential to be a game that will knock the socks of even the most jaded of gamers. The graphics are a sight to be seen with smooth animation and amazing effects. This game nails gunplay whether you’re shooting from the hip, or sighting an enemy through your scope. The Playstation 3 is just a year old and this game will be a showcase for the system. Unlike CoD 3, which was a port from the 360, CoD 4 was designed with the Playstation 3 in mind from the start. The gameplay may not be innovative, but it will be solid and will keep you coming back online for months to come even when the single player campaign is finished.
The Orange Box
The Orange Box is an honorable mention from a sheer game play and value perspective. This regular priced package comes with Half Life 2, Half Life 2 Episode 1 and 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. While Team Fortress 2 and Portal are limited experiences due to length and map counts, both are a blast to play, this title is available Dec. 11 for the PS3.
Why Buy it? Half Life 2 was on of the best First Person Shooters released back in 2004, and its episodic chapters enhance the story and mechanics further. Portal and Team Fortress 2 are both unique experiences that any gamer should play and play as soon as possible. This will be the first appearance of Half Life 2 on the Playstation 3 which adds even more depth to the package (PC & Xbox 360 owners already had a chance to play as Gordan Freeman and Co.) which makes it a very compelling purchase for any PS3 owner.
Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection (PSN)
This game has been available as a Playstation Network download for some time, but recently Namco released the Online add-on or the stand alone download of the Online edition of Tekken: Dark Resurrection. Featuring over 30 unique characters, stunning graphics, literally thousands of moves, numerous play modes and now online fighting, this release in the Tekken line is a great choice for any fighting fan. Note this is a Playstation Network only game (not available in retail) and as such must be downloaded on the users PS3.
Why Buy it? Tekken has always been a fast and fun fighting experience, this newest version on the PS3 gives fans all they could want and more. With characters utilizing martial arts ranging from Mui Thai Kickboxing to Capoeira and Wrestling the action is different and unique from character to character. This version features a Survival mode that throws an endless horde of enemies at you and also has a deep Ghost Mode that allows you to compete against martial arts experts and customize your fighter with items, extras and moves. Perhaps the best inclusion is obviously the online mode, now you can jump online and challenge players around the world competing for Rank advancement and gloating rights. All of this together at a relatively low price makes this a great addition to any fighting fans collection.
ROLE PLAYING GAMES
Good RPG’s take a lot of time to make, which explains why there are so few for the PS3 at this time, luckily Folklore is a great Action RPG that is available now for the PS3 and is a solid addition to its library. The story in this game revolves around two different people who head to the village of Doolin for different reasons. Both have heard that Doolin is a place where the living can meet the dead; both characters (Ellen and Keats) have their own reasons for visiting and over the course of the game their stories meet and merge. The game play begins when you enter the Netherworld and start interacting with the Folks, which are spirits in the Netherworld, you will talk and battle with them in a unique way. The main characters have no weapons, instead they capture the ID of the Folks and use them as weapons or shields, all this is tied to a great control scheme and one of the first really fun uses of the Sixaxis motion control. Luckily for us game starved RPG fans Folklore looks and plays like a dream and is a great game for any fan of the genre.
Why Buy it? As mentioned there really are few RPGs on the PS3, so that alone is reason enough to buy Folklore, luckily the game is deep, fun and has a great story. The game is very plain at the start, but once you enter the Netherworld the lush graphics really show off the PS3’s power, there are bright vibrant flowers, environments and imaginative characters. The game play is truly unique with the fact that all your powers are based on stolen souls that the get mapped to the buttons on your controller, instead of swinging a sword when you press the square button you will attack with the power of the Folk you assigned to it. Stealing souls happens frequently as you can level up your captured Folk by stealing more of their kinds souls, you tilt, wave and move the Sixaxis to steal the souls. The actions required are suitable and fun, often it feels like you are reeling in a fish, the effect is nice and adds a visceral feel to the game. Folklore is a great and relatively unique that PS3 owners should enjoy.
Oblivion: Game of the Year Edition
Oblivion was released earlier this year on the PS3, and now we will see the release of the Game of The Year Edition that features both Nights of The Nine content as well as the expansion Shivering Isles. For those unfamiliar with Oblivion, it is a first person RPG that has an epic story as well as an open ended mission structure that allows you to divert from the story indefinitely and pursue other ventures. In this game you can choose to be evil, good or grey (working both angles), you can own homes, travel by horseback, steal, manufacture, trade, open shops, pretty much anything you decide to do you can. Combat is very deep with skills and levels increasing as you perform tasks… fight with a sword a lot and your swordsmanship increases and if your class is tied to sword skills these advancements will go towards increasing your level. This applies to all skills and their cross classes. All of this produces a deep and potentially limitless adventure that is worth checking out. This game is available right now.
Why Buy it? Oblivion wowed critics and gamers alike when it was released, the amazing graphics, deep game play and unique experience made this a game was a must have for RPG fans. The new Game of the Year version adds the 30-hour Shivering Isles expansion which features a new region, new enemies and new items/spells for players to discover. All of this together brings the core game for this bundle to over 100 hours, side missions, professions and content effectively double that number making this a huge adventure that you can get as much out of as you wish. The graphic engine is stunning and the adaptive skill system allows you to tailor make your character and takes the strict class system out of the mix so you can have what you want. Any RPG fan should have this in their library, as it is truly an experience to play.
EA Sports has a consistently successful franchise with the NHL series. Instead of resting on their laurels, EA Canada decided to revamp the control scheme on this year’s entry to the series. The results are one of the most natural playing experiences when on the ice. Instead of button presses to change your skating speed or bursts all skating control is tied to the analog sticks, as is shooting. The resulting control just feels right; you can jink around a player and hit the shot where you want. Of course they also went ahead and improved the graphics yet again and updated the rosters as usual, this great game is available right now and is a must have.
Why Buy it? Graphical improvements and tweaks to the play modes are expected, but what makes this the best entry in the NHL series in a long, long time is the natural control scheme and attention to detail. The skating on screen is so natural now and shots seem to fly with a more realistic flow. The shining moment so far for me with this game was seeing a goalie (Ray Emery) nail a glove stop that took my breath away, it was like watching a highlight reel in real time. This is the best way to play Canada’s game on the PS3, if you love hockey, you need this game.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08
There is not a bigger name the Tiger Woods in the world of Golf and EA Sports has had him as the cover boy and key player in their flagship golf game for some time. This year the long running series hits a high water mark with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 which is available right now. Featuring a newly improved putt preview, an optional return of the three-click swing, and a really neat Photo Face option. The Photo Face feature allows you to upload a picture of yourself and completely wrap it around a model for a golfer, add this in with the very complete create a golfer mode and you can walk the same courses digitally as Tiger does. All of this is wrapped around a very complete golf experience featuring stunning graphics, a huge array of courses, game modes and golfer customization as rewards for game play. This year’s PS3 entry feels better then last, indicating the developers are getting comfortable with the system and it shows in this great game. Golf fans everywhere should have this game in their library.
Why Buy it? I will be honest and say that if you purchased Tiger Woods 07 recently this probably isn’t a worthwhile purchase, but if you or your favorite gamer has no PS3 golf games, this is one they need to have. I am not a golfer but I still have a blast playing this game. The amazing graphics really draw you into the game; stellar audio and commentating further make you feel like you are part of the PGA experience. The game features a huge array of modes from challenges and quick games to actually joining the PGA tour season, online modes allow you and two to three other people to join together and play matches or custom challenges in smooth lag free experience. The Photo Face feature is a very cool way to put yourself into the game and feel like you are a pro golfer, albeit a digital one. This is a great game with a lot of depth and is a pleasure to play.
Eye of Judgment
The Eye of Judgment is a bit of a hard game to discuss, it is certainly not for everyone, but for those gamers that love collectible card games (CCG), think Magic: The Gathering, this is the PS3 game to own this year. It’s true draw is that it eschews the online cards aspect of other CCG video games and actually gives you in normal priced game bundle ($59.99), the new Playstation Eye camera, the game software, a starter deck of 30 cards, an eight card booster deck and a cloth mat to play the cards on. In this game the camera is connected to your PS3 on an included stand facing down towards the cloth mat, which is a three square by three square grid, the mat is then represented onscreen as are your hands and any cards played.
Each square has an element assigned to it, these elements greatly affect the game and creatures, to play you lay a card on a square in the direction you want the creature or effect to sit and then onscreen the creature or spell will trigger and come alive. Most CCG’s require you to destroy the other player, or drain life, in this game your goal is to control five of the nine squares, once you do this, the game is won. Obviously there is much, much more to this and you must follow the link above and see the game in action to believe it. If you are a gamer or know a gamer who is as crazy as me and loves CCG’s and video games, you must have this game, which is available right now!
Why Buy it? Quite simply there is absolutely nothing like this game on any system and while it is definitely not for everyone, this game is a truly unique, fun and addicting experience. The visceral feel of handling real cards while playing a PS3 game is something that has to be tried to be believed. Considering the amount you get (a full 30 card deck, camera, game, booster pack and stand) this normal priced package is a phenomenal deal for anyone who wants to try a CCG game in a great way. The game is incredibly deep with tactics that can be employed differently situation to situation. I can’t think of any other way to say it, but this is one of the most unique experiences on a console and what initially had me excited to own a PS3 back in 2005 (The Eye of Judgment was demoed at a tech show in 2005). Any uber-geek like me owes it to themselves to have this game and then find me on the PSN network (my ID is Jer1ch0, feel free to friend me) for a match or 12.
Everday Shooter (PSN)
Everyday Shooter is a Playstation Network only download and is a dual analog shooter (one analog stick is used to steer, the other to shoot in the pointed direction) with a huge and unique hook. The game is completely based on audio, specifically guitar, as you play every shot, explosion and effect triggers notes that harmonize with the all guitar soundtrack. The effect is surreal, hypnotic and a great experience to play. This game is very inexpensive and definitely a worthy addition to a gamers library.
Why Buy it? If anyone knows the amazing game Rez (and everyone should!), this one plays similar, but instead of techno or electronica the subtle guitar beats just feel and sound right while playing this game. Everyday Shooter is important as it was created by one man — Jonathon Mak — the games was discovered by Sony at the Indie Games Festival and they put their enormous weight behind him and gave all the support he needed. The result is an amazing experience with varied levels and sounds as you progress through; the visuals while not groundbreaking are sharp and bright. Bottom line, you will have fun with this game, even the menus illicit guitar notes when you move around, so in effect you can make a song while navigating up and down the start screen, and trust me, that is just the start!
A few years ago when a little company released a game called Guitar Hero they started a revolution of game play that no one could have believed would be successful, now we are about to have Rock Band, the ambitious new generation of interactive rock stardom. Available Nov. 23rd at the staggering price of $169.99, Rock Band gives you a drum kit, guitar and microphone that you and your friends can use to rock out till you pass out. Tied into a deal with MTV, Rock Band now features master tracks of most of their song lists (the original recordings instead of covers as in previous versions) which will add a definite surreal vibe to the experience. This game is not for everyone, but as someone who has rocked out in the past, Guitar Hero is an exciting concept that groups will have a blast playing together in Rock Band.
Why Buy it? If you have some friends and you can afford the steep price, this game will be the ultimate party game experience. Bring out one of your old Guitar Hero guitars so someone can sit on bass and you will have a full Rock Band. There is nothing like jamming on Sabotage while your wannabe rapper buddy sings the lines. There is a deep multiplayer component where you can create a band with members on the Playstation Network and as you play and members drop out due to missed notes, you can revive them to play on. Oh yeah, and any game that I can play “Wanted Dead or Alive” is a winner in my books. ‘I’m a cowboy and on a steel horse I ride, I’m wanted….WANTED, Dead or Alive!’ Now I just need to feather my hair.