It's a big week, with releases throughout of varying levels of notoriety and quality. There's freedom, compulsive monster-battling, strategic deliberation, and number-enhanced fisticuffs to be had along with quite a bit of what one might call "shovelware," indicating that a certain Nintendo handheld has finally hit its stride enough to see such "casual" titles. Even stripping away the lot of that less-than-savory filler, though, it's a substantial list of releases, with something to keep almost any gamer busy.
(PS3, X360, PC)
With art from the guy who designed Half-Life 2's City 17, the visuals are undoubtedly the most immediately striking thing about Dishonored. They ooze personality and ache to tell a story. The gameplay itself, while mission-based, offers tremendous freedom in how it's played, drawing on such games as Assassin's Creed, Thief, and particularly Deus Ex in the way in which it allows its player the agency to solve problems in a way that appeals to them. That isn't to say that you can get through the game without using your abilities to their fullest, but it's always nice to have choices, particularly when those choices are functional and, therefore, meaningful. Dishonored slays its way into stores on Tuesday, October 9.
I'm tempted to just remind you that "it's more Pokémon" and send you on your way. There is the neat little detail this time out, however, that Pokémon Black & White 2 are not newly colored entries in the series, nor are they an amalgam, special, or "definitive" edition of Generation 5 in the sense that Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum were for each of their respective generations. They are bona fide sequels to the original Black & White, set in the same universe, taking place two years after the events of the previous game(s). That said, you're starting from scratch, here, though there is a Memory Link feature that allows your progress in the original Black or White to open up new events in this release. Pokémon Black & White 2 encountered store shelves this Sunday, October 7.
(PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
It happened that, this generation, after years of cheap knockoffs with no legitimate entry in sight, XCOM's name popped up on the websites and pages of the gaming press. It was a first-person shooter, with a 1950s aesthetic, and die-hard fans were not pleased. They were at least temporarily appeased, however, when XCOM: Enemy Unknown was revealed. This one has the futuristic bent the players expect, but, more importantly, it serves up a return to the classic "tough decisions" sort of turn-based, strategic gameplay that defined the first game in the series. In a nod to that, the name is a fusion of the original game's European name (UFO: Enemy Unknown) and its North American counterpart (X-COM: UFO Defense). It will be beaming into stores this Tuesday, October 9.
Lionhead wants you to use the Kinect to fling spells, navigate ruins, outrun the land's destruction, and… Pet your horse? Yes, Fable: The Journey attempts to take the series' preoccupation with making you feel for something in it and gives you a horse. That horse is also your general means of transportation, so while it may not be as iconic as the bond between a boy and his horse in Shadow of the Colossus, it certainly aims to appeal to more than just the would-be groomers in its audience. Fable: The Journey rides into stores on Tuesday, October 9.
Dark fantasy with a twist? Of Orcs and Men posits that the strong, brutish Orcs are, in fact, merely rising up against a human empire that seeks to slaughter them and enslave their lesser, green-skinned goblin kin. You take command of this most archetypal of fantasy foes as you rend your way through fleshy pink things in the name of your people's freedom from imperial persecution. Your inverted fairy-tale begins on Thursday, October 11.
Is it just a Grand Theft Auto remake? Not on your life. Retro City Rampage is chock-full of references to classic video games, from its weapons to its levels and storyline. It also works in doses of general nerd culture, from bits that pay homage to science fiction television shows and movies all the way up to fourth-wall-breaking meta-humor. Retro City Rampage looks to be a violent, fast-paced, sprite-based overhead shooter, coming at you this Tuesday, October 9.
Hidden Gem of the Week:
I first came across Code of Princess in the Atlus booth at E3. Everyone was in line for the free Persona-themed T-shirts the publisher was handing out, so I took the time to watch (and play) a few rounds of Persona 4: Arena, take in the video of Persona 4: Golden, and try out the limited demo for Zeno Clash 2. There were a couple of 3DS units just hanging out on a display, though, and I didn't recall any 3DS Atlus titles in the works, so I popped over.
After scrolling through a few Japanese menus, I was well on my way to bashing foes in with an agile character in classic, 2D beat 'em up form. Except, wait, I could hop between three different "tiers" of the level, moving in and out of the foreground and background while the primary control remained on a 2D plane. This seemed familiar from somewhere. Around the point when I leveled up, I figured it out: this was Guardian Heroes! With some of the team behind that classic Saturn brawler working on Code of Princess, it isn't wholly surprising that the gameplay, and even the art style, comes across as a spiritual successor to that classic beat 'em up on that most maligned of SEGA consoles.
Date: October 1, 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.*