It goes without saying that video game releases come in waves. The winter holiday season is notorious for big releases, but so is the spring. Most publishers either release games early in the year to get in on a good years worth of sales, or hold them for the winter, creating what I’ve referred to before as the “summer drought”. As always, this year is no exception. The spring is jam-packed with quality titles either already released, or being released shortly.
The top two titles released in early 2010 so far are easily Mass Effect 2 and just this week, Splinter Cell: Conviction. I’ll get into them separately at another time, but both are worth picking up if you have the extra cash. ME2 is a sweeping epic space opera that, in most categories, improves over the original. Splinter Cell is, while short, pure and distilled “bad ass” in a can. It’s Jason Bourne, Jack Bower and Sam Fischer all rolled into one. The co-op and infiltration modes alone are worth the purchase.
Even more exciting is the fact that there are no fewer than ten major releases between more and June 1st. Obviously, I’m not going to get all of them, but there are several I’m excited about and even a few that I’ve got on pre-order. Chronologically would make that most sense, so, here we go.
Skate 3 – May 11
I know most of you haven’t played Skate 1 & 2. I’m not really sure why, but you haven’t. If you garnered any enjoyment out of Tony Hawk 10 years ago (especially those of us who played it until 2am sitting on Nagle’s couch), this has really been a step forward in the genre. Skate 1 completely redefined the skateboard game from “button masher” to “god-like control and finesse”. Anything you wanted to do, trick-wise, with a skateboard, was now possible. Skate 2 took that formula and improved the gameplay, the environment and built upon it’s world editor and video capturing tools from the first game. This third installment is looking to keep all those features in place but take the multiplayer to the next level. That’s really what I’m most excited about. Sadly though, since none of you guys play it, or have any interest to (and that’s ok, skateboard games are not for everyone, I get that), I’ll be playing mostly by myself. Still, I’m excited about the new and improved video tools and the addition of a “create-your-own” skatepark editor.
Red Dead Redemption – May 18
Ok. Here’s the deal. Even if you don’t want to skateboard with me, and that’s cool, we at least have to all agree that having a western, with multiplayer, and forming a “posse” is fucking cool, right? RDR is the next big thing to come out of Rockstar. Apparently all that time grandly thieving automobiles has paid off in the ability to create a large “open world” game. I have to admit, I was less excited about this title when I first heard about it. Then I watched the videos. All of them. They blew me away. I want this game. I want us all to want this game. I want to create my very own Doc Holoday, start a posse and ride through the wild-west taking out gangs and saving dusty old mining towns. I know I have a soft-spot for the genre, but I really can’t pass up the opportunity to ride, shoot and duel in a huge open world like that. Supposedly, according to the videos (go watch them, seriously), there will be quite a bit of multiplayer action. I hope you guys decide to join in on the fun.
Alan Wake – May 18
I’m not sure I can really say more about Alan Wake than what’s already known. If you take a look at the box your 360 came in (if you still have it), you will more than likely see a picture of Alan Wake on it somewhere. It was supposed to be a launch title for the 360. It’s taken that long. I’m not so much looking forward to it as I’m just glad it’s no longer vaporware. It’s kind of one of those titles that had better be good for it’s own sake. Having said that, I have a gut feeling that it will be “Game of the Year” material. I’m going to reserve judgment until I see some reviews, but it’s one to watch.
Blur – May 25
I was actually in on the beta test for Blur. I have to say, it’s kind of stupid, sort of basic, but completely addictive and fun. It’s pretty much Mariocart for grown-ups. Your average urban/street/industrial sorts of tracks, some pretty basic (although licensed brands) cars, a cheesy techno soundtrack, but power-ups galore and tons of fun. It’s gameplay is nearly identical to Mariocart. You run over a powerup, press a button to fire it. Done. They’ve replaced turtle shells with missiles and lightning-bolts, but beyond that, we’re pretty much in familiar territory. The big “but” here, is that it really is addictive in the same way that MC is. I sat down to play one Saturday at noon and when I looked up at the clock it was nearly dinner time. I might not pick it up on release day, but I’ll definitely get it at some point, even if it’s just to have something non-Halo related for my little cousins to play if they happen to come over.
Alpha Protocol – June 1
This is the one I’m most concerned about. If it’s a blend of Splinter Cell and Mass Effect, I’m sold. If however, it’s more like KotoR with guns, or Metal Gear with some RPG collecting/upgrading crap thrown in, I’m out. They’ve been working on this one for quite a while but we haven’t really seen anything in the way of a new trailer or some gameplay videos in a very long time. I’m very excited about the possibilities, but very worried about the treatment. Time will tell on this one. It’s either going to be an awesome day-one purchase, or a bargin-bin pick at Christmas, there’s really no in-between. Still, I’m usually a game optimist, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
There we have it. It’ll mostly be a western themed summer for me, I’m sure. There’s really nothing between those and the usual announcements during the summer, usually from E3, about games coming out for Christmas and Q1 2011. Well, unless you count Halo:Reach this fall, which I don’t. I was so turned off by Halo 3 and ODST and what they’ve done to the series (or, rather not done, the stagnation is obvious) that I’m not only not interested in H:R, but I’ll actively campaign against it. Nothing bothers me more than a game developer sitting on old IPs and not moving forward. I’m sorry, but Bungie could have done so many better games than Halo by now that it’s not even funny.
Anyway, I hope at least a couple of you will join in on the multiplayer fun this spring/summer, whatever game it happens to be. If anyone is going to pick up Splinter Cell, let me know and we can get in some co-op time.