Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hottest Video Games

Retail sales of video games have dipped slightly in 2010, but the overall quality delivered by the interactive entertainment industry has never been higher. Major titles like "Red Dead Redemption ," "God of War III," "StarCraft II", "Mass Effect 2" and "Heavy Rain" have already established this year as a watershed for consumers who plunk down the $60 that most top games cost these days.

It will be impressive enough if publishers are able to deliver a comparable slate this fall, but perhaps the biggest gaming story over the rest of the year is likely to be the introduction of new control systems for Microsoft's Xbox 360 (called Kinect, on Nov. 4) and Sony's PlayStation 3 (called Move, on Sept. 19). Kinect and Move will be reviewed separately along with their associated initial titles, but there are plenty of interesting games on the horizon that use traditional control schemes. Here are a few highlights:

Assassin creed: Brotherhood

Last year's "Assassin's Creed II" set the player as a vigilante in Renaissance Italy out to avenge the downfall of his family at the hands of the vulpine Rodrigo Borgia (aka Pope Alexander VI). It was a bit surprising, then, that the game never let you explore the city of Rome. "Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood" is designed to make up for that by letting you scale walls, flit across rooftops and otherwise parkour your way across the vast expanses of the ancient capital, kicking bad guys along the way.

Publisher : Ubisoft.

To be released on Nov. 16 for PS3 and Xbox 360.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Over the last few years Call of Duty has emerged as one of the world’s most popular and most lucrative console game franchises. That will be put to the test this fall as the series shifts from its original development studio, Infinity Ward, and into the hands of a rival development group called Treyarch. With “Black Ops,” Call of Duty is also moving away from its recent focus on modern warfare and is instead recreating cold-war covert operations.

Publisher: Activision.

To be released on Nov. 9 for PS3, Wii, Windows and Xbox 360.

Disney Epic Mickey

Mickey Mouse is one of the few fictional characters known as widely around the world as video-game titans like Mario and Pac-Man , yet Mickey has been largely absent from popular culture for many decades now. To bring him into the interactive age, Disney acquired the talents of Warren Spector, a highly respected designer perhaps best known for creating the pioneering title "System Shock." Spector's previous work, however, has been aimed squarely at adults. Millions will be waiting to see how he handles Mickey's reinvention.

Publisher: Disney.

To be released on an as-yet-unspecified date this holiday season for Nintendo's Wii.

Gran Turismo

Under development for at least six years and with a production budget of at least $60 million (and probably far more), "Gran Turismo 5" aims to be the ultimate driving simulator. There are roughly 70 different tracks and some 1,000 driveable cars, but the real keyword here is realism. So if you think you’re actually going to be able to handle that 700-horsepower virtual Ferrari without a ton of practice, think again.

Publisher: Sony.

To be released on Nov. 2 for PS3.
Halo: Reach

Halo is perhaps the definitive console game property of the past decade. Without it, Microsoft might never have been able to establish the Xbox as a legitimate rival to Sony’s PlayStation. Amid some complicated corporate machinations , “Reach” is theoretically the final Halo game that will be developed by Bungie, the studio that invented the franchise. Bungie’s previous Halo game, last year’s “ODST” (for Orbital Drop Shock Troopers), was a disappointment. So players can expect Microsoft and Bungie to outdo themselves this time, from both aspects of game play and promotion.

Publisher : Microsoft.

To be released Tuesday for Xbox 360.

Medal of Honor

Once upon a time (around eight years ago) Medal of Honor was the top war-game franchise. Then Call of Duty came along. Now Electronic Arts is trying to reboot MOH with a new title set in Afghanistan. Courting controversy, the multiplayer mode gives users the option to play as a member of the Taliban, which strikes some as unsavory and others as merely realistic.

Publisher : Electronic Arts.

To be released on Oct. 12 for PS3, Windows and Xbox 360.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

With their captivating combination of affecting story lines, hilariously campy characters and mind bending puzzles, the previous two Professor Layton games to be introduced in North America have delighted both adults and children.


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