The days are getting shorter, the air a bit cooler as Summer is finally beginning its exit. While it has been a surprisingly eventful season that delivered a potential Game of the Year hit in The Last of Us and saw Microsoft backtrack again and again and again, Summer is traditionally labeled as a doldrums of game releases until the onslaught of Fall. This Fall should be something spectacular with the effective end of the seventh generation of consoles and the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One. Even this week’s release lineup is much more active than the past few months have been.
Grand Theft Auto Online
I’ve been fairly quiet on GTAV recently, despite reviewing GTAIV as one of the best games to be made in its day. GTAIV had a nice free-roam multiplayer mode that served as more of a playground than as something that could be fleshed out into its own beast. While fun, it was definitely lacking in direction beyond the basics.
Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer component of GTAV, is shaping up to be something specia. Billed as an evolving persistent experience, GTAV has you building a character from the ground up and becoming engrained in the community of Los Santos. Building reputation by committing petty crimes solo or teaming up with other players to commit planned heists will all earn you cash to grow your character and acquire assets.
The most intriguing element of GTA Online is Rockstar’s direct involvment in the evolution of Los Santos, by providing new content and missions for players to participate in. While odds are GTA Online will not be nearly as story driven as the single player campaign, the promise of missions and development are plenty to become excited about.
In addition to missions, activities like races, sports and games are scattered throughout the game. Players can even customize their own race routes and deathmatch parameters. And to think, this is all done on the current generation of hardware.
Call of Duty Ghosts Multiplayer
There’s guns. There’s Eminem. There’s that dog again. Oh and a lady.
Ghosts doesn’t push the envelope in any particular direction, but the trailer shows a glimpse of the new weaponry, new tweaks to the multiplayer system such as customizing your own team and fine tuned mechanics like leaning out of cover. As for the inclusion of female soldiers in the game, I don’t exactly expect the Call of Duty community to be able to maturely grasp the concept of female combatants.
Gamescom, my fourth favorite gaming convention (behind E3, TGS and PAX Prime), kicks off Wednesday in Germany. There are a few rumors that Sony will reveal the PlayStation 4’s launch date, but I think that they are saving that for their home territory at TGS. They could do to show a few more games, in particular those within the launch window, and to come clean about who actually has content ready for the first year of the PS4’s life. Because right now, the lineup is still weaker than Microsoft’s.
Microsoft needs to show the world, the gaming core in particular, why the Xbox One will be the system to buy this Winter. Show us that the $100 extra is well spent and not on a Kinect that most will deem uninteresting. In order for that to happen they need to either show that the Kinect is an absolute killer piece of tech (rather than selling us the same bullet points from 2010) or backtrack again and announce a package that does not include the Kinect. I realize the latter will harm the Kinect significantly, especially from a development perspective, but gamers don’t want to waste money on a package that includes an ultimately unnecessary peripheral.
Humble Origin Bundle
Yeah, everybody’s had a Humble Bundle and no, they’re not pulling a THQ trying to drum up sales to save their company, but EA is currently participating in the Humble Bundle and the deal isn’t bad if you like some of their older games. The bundle includes the first Dead Space, Dead Space 3 (the most recent one), Crysis 2 Maximum Edition, Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box, Mirror’s Edge and Medal of Honor. By paying more than the average you’ll get bonus downloads of Battlefield 3 (no DLC unfortunately) and The Sims 3 with a starter pack. Most of the games are worthy purchases for the average price, which is less than $5 at this writing. Besides, EA is donating all the sales to five charities of your choice. So do something nice and get a bunch of games in the process (unfortunately, you will have to deal with Origin for some of the titles).
Saints Row IV comes out Tuesday, a title I had been on the fence with since the demise of THQ. Deep Silver has yet to earn my trust but Volition got my attention when the announced the return of Johnny Gat. They had my me at Gat is Back.
Disney Infinity came out Sunday to a slew of odd bugs on the Wii U and PS3 versions as well as the predictably under-performing Wii version. The Xbox 360 version seems to be the most stable and its only a matter of time before Disney’s Skylander-esque interactive mini-figure scheme has kids screaming and parents throwing money at every Toys-R-Us cashier.
Also out this week are Splinter Cell Blacklist (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC) which does not star Michael Ironside as the young Sam Fisher, that nearly vaporware former FPS XCOM spinoff The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) and Kickstarter parody fighting game Divekick (PS3, Vita, PC).
Dead Rising 2 is currently free for Xbox Live Gold members so I sat down to play through Case Zero, the prequel chapter that was available on Xbox Live Arcade. I remember the original Dead Rising as a challenging game that constantly stresses the notion of working against the clock, somewhat of a lost art in modern games. Add in the insanity of Frank West in costumes, killing zombies with every object imaginable in a shopping mall and it was a fairly memorable game, especially in the early years of the Xbox 360’s life.
Case Zero was more of the same except instead of the grumpy Frank West you have the determined Chuck Greene who needs to keep administering a zombie vaccine to his daughter to keep her from turning. Case Zero is a nice preview of what to expect in a Dead Rising game and touches on the new crafting elements unique to DR2. It is short at about 2 hours but there are just enough side missions and plenty of zombies to kill. My only gripe is the game’s insistence on having guns be the most effective weapon for boss fights, a problem shared with the original Dead Rising.
Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions
I don’t watch lot of Minecraft videos but this is by far one of my favorites from YouTube regular Tobuscus.