Pumpkins, witches, and ghosts are giving way this week to assassins, archeologists, and wrestlers as the big fall releases start to pour down. With an absolutely stacked week ahead of us, it’s almost painful to think of what’s yet to come, and the damage this season will do to our collective wallets. For now, though, we focus in on the driving, brain-twisting, and slaying we’ll be doing in the now. The future can wait.
The saga of Desmond Miles continues as we dip into the past once more, using the Animus to step into the shoes of Connor Kenway, the son of both a Mohawk woman and a British colonist. A member of the Assassins, Connor takes the fight against the Templars to the New World, where the environments are less urban than in past Assassin’s Creed titles, with wide expanses of wilderness to explore and navigate, cliff faces and trees to climb. Connor’s arsenal is also vastly different from in games past, with a greater degree of ranged ability with his bow, pistols, and grappling hook.
As always, the story has been kept tightly under wraps, but Assassin’s Creed III may be the most exciting thing to come out of the series since we first met Ezio, who managed to add a charm and humanity to the franchise that it had previously lacked. Hopefully, Connor and his tale will be just as warmly received when the game hits shelves this Tuesday, October 30. Expect it on PC on November 20, on Wii U November 18.
(3DS, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360)
I love brain teasers. Action games are great, and I’ll always enjoy the visceral thrill of slicing a foe in twain or filling an enemy with lead, but the more cerebral rush from successfully conquering a puzzle, particularly one that has had me stumped for days or weeks, is positively exhilarating. It makes you feel good about yourself, y’know?
The Layton games are all about that, chock full of riddles and puzzles that rely on wits, logic, and the occasional trick to see you through. The latest entry for the 3DS mixes things up with a more animated appearance; Layton and company are in 3D form for what may be the first time, and the puzzles have gotten a visual overhaul as well. As always, ready yourself for a charming experience. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask retails on Sunday, October 28.
(PC, PS3, Vita, Xbox 360)
After trying something new with The Run, Need for Speed is making a return to its roots in both name and function. Not to be confused with the original Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which came out in 2005, this entry in the series does look to its predecessor for inspiration. Players will engage in street races, sometimes flavored with some cop-based drama, as they try to climb to the top of the underground racing community in the city of Fairhaven. In a new twist, though, the city will provide players with a sandbox environment to explore. Need For Speed Most Wanted will be available on Tuesday, October 30.
(PS3, Wii, Xbox 360)
Another year, another WWE title. For those who want to live the lives of their favorite wrestling entertainers, or create their own, THQ’s annual franchise features a storyline set during the franchise’s “Attitude Era,” which stretched from 1995 up to 2001, as well as a “Creative Suite” that allows them to create their own wrestlers and divas. The attitude era was, personally, my most active period watching WWE, with twisting plotlines that did an excellent job of pitting renegade wrestlers against those loyal to Vince McMahon and his “Corporation.” It was during this period that superstars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson rose to prominence, with dark storylines centered around figures like The Undertaker, as well as punk elements like Degeneration X. I always liked Mick Foley, though, and his numerous incarnations. WWE ’13 will body slam retailers on Tuesday, October 30.
(DS, PC, Vita)
It appears that the second LEGO Batman game is now the go-to blueprint for future LEGO titles. Based on the movie adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, LEGO The Lord of the Rings features LEGO versions of your favorite characters exploring an open-world version of Middle Earth as they work their way through the various chapters that make up each movie, collecting new mini-figs, items, weapons, and abilities to aid them on their journey. Also, the characters talk, much like in LEGO Batman 2, with dialogue pulled directly from the films. I can’t wait to see a LEGO Gandalf stare down the Balrog as Ian McKellan bellows, “You shall not pass!” Expect it on Tuesday, October 30 (it will follow on the 3DS, PS3 and X360 on November 13).
(PS3, Xbox 360)
Zone of the Enders was one of the reasons, back in the day, that I wanted a PlayStation 2. The other was Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo, so I might have had an unhealthy obsession with mech-based combat. Considering I was weaned on the Mechwarrior series, can you really blame me? Where even Gundam was deliberately, even ploddingly, slow, though, Zone of the Enders was blazingly fast. Its combat, in fact, is like something pulled from an anime, particularly one along the lines of Gundam Wing.
The sequel only upped the ante in this regard, and became one of my favorite games of all time with a tight and compelling storyline, which the first had lacked. The brainchild of Hideo Kojima, of Metal Gear Solid fame, the Zone of the Enders series is well worth your time and attention when the HD collection hits shelves this Tuesday, October 30.
If you’ve waited until now to play Okami, shame on you! One of the last titles from Capcom’s now-defunct Clover Studios, which was made famous by Viewtiful Joe, Okami is an action-adventure game in the Zelda tradition. More interesting than what it pulls from other games, though, is the unique art style it introduces, using cel-shading to create a world that looks as though it was born of a Japanese paintbrush. Appropriate, then, that its most distinctive gameplay element is the Celestial Brush, which allows one to draw on the screen to activate abilities that allow one to progress, whether by solving puzzles or defeating enemies.
The high-definition update, coming to the PlayStation Network, will not only improve the game’s visuals, but also offers PlayStation Move support, which is a tremendous boon for the game’s brush mechanic (though not strictly necessary). It will be available on Tuesday, October 30.
Assassin’s Creed III titles are book-ending our release list this week. While the console title follows Connor Kenway, its mobile companion piece focuses instead on Aveline de Grandpré, of French and African descent. Set down in New Orleans, far to the south of AC3’s British colonial setting, players will explore the somewhat swampier bayou and sojourn into Mexico.
The interesting caveat, in this case, is that Liberation is ostensibly an effort by Abstergo to show the Assassin/Templar conflict through the eyes of the Assassins while striking at the uncertainty regarding which side of the conflict has the moral and ethical high ground. Previous games have made it very apparent which side we should support, so an attempt at such ambiguity is very welcome. The game will hit shelves alongside AC3 on Tuesday, October 30.
DLC Slated for release this week:
Hidden Gem of the Week:
A full-fledged sequel to a once-popular Half-Life mod, Natural Selection 2 was first announced back in 2006, when the Source engine was still young. In its six-year development cycle, the game shifted from the Source engine to a proprietary one dubbed “Evolution,” which is now being called “Spark.” This shift occurred back in 2008.
Today, the game is ready to end its closed beta and get out the door. For those unfamiliar with what Natural Selection is, the original mod focused on an alien-versus-marine conflict in which players battle for territory and resources; the marines have a commander, who can place buildings, purchase upgrades, drop supplies, and issue orders to teammates. He draws upon the pool of resources the marine team controls. The aliens, meanwhile, have no set commander and each has their own pool of resources. Their cooperation has to be both more explicit and more individualized. Natural Selection 2 takes this combination between FPS and RTS gameplay and sets it a few years after its predecessor. It will be out on Wednesday, October 31. Just in time for Halloween.
Date: October 26, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*