Perhaps the most purely intriguing PS3 exclusive set for this year is DUST 514, the downloadable free-to-play first-person shooter coming from CCP. While its core gameplay appears to be solid if unspectacular, its DUST 514's highly-touted integration with CCP's longstanding MMO, Eve Online, that has our curiosity piqued. The two titles will share the same universe, with the economic and factional events of one game directly affecting the same aspects of the other. With a reported seven years worth of in-game player skill training, DUST 514 could be a FPS that PS3 players tinker with for a long time to come.
The Unfinished Swan
Okay, so I'm not entirely sure Giant Sparrow's adventure title is hitting the PS3 by the year's end, but it might, and frankly that's good enough for me to include it here. That's because this PSN exclusive looks to be one of the most imaginative titles we'll see this year. It tells the story of a young boy named Monroe, who's chasing after, um, an unfinished swan across a giant blank canvas. From there, Monroe uses his black paint gun to bring objects in the world into view and find his way around this newfound deserted city. Sound freaky? Well it is. Words can't really do the art style or proposed concept of The Unfinished Swan justice, so we recommend checking it out for yourself whenever you get the chance.
343 Industries' obscure little art house indie title tells the tale of… oh, wait, it's Halo.
Yes, Master Chief is back again to begin a whole new trilogy of the blockbuster FPS franchise. Despite the likes of ODST and Reach keeping fans busy over the last five years, Halo 4 marks the first true successor to 2007's third installment. The series' acclaimed multiplayer has been revamped, a new cooperative mode called "Spartan Ops" looks great, the tone appears to have gone down a more mature, darker route, and, well, it's Halo. People will buy it, and many of them probably play it for years to come.
While not a "true" sequel to the Xbox's premier racing simulation series, Forza Horizon puts a new twist on the franchise by placing it in an open world setting. Horizon will still feature the signature physics of the Forza series, but the focus here isn't solely on winning races so much as it is exploring the beautiful Colorado countryside setting and taking the world in—while driving a variety of sexy cars, of course. The usual Forza dev is sharing development duty with Playground Games this time around, so expect a mixture of familiar and innovative when Horizon hits the road this October.
Fable: The Journey
It wouldn't be a complete list of Xbox 360 games without a Kinect title sneaking its way in here somehow. Lionhead's fifth entry in the Fable series is completely controller-free, as players will use particular hand gestures and shouts to wield weapons, cast magic spells, craft items, ride horses, and the like. It's a radical shift in the RPG series for sure, but if Fable: The Journey can pull off the difficult task of creating a deeply immersive core experience with the Kinect, somehow I think people will forgive it for all its changes.
Mark of the Ninja
This 2D stealth-platformer may not stay an Xbox LIVE Arcade exclusive for too long, as developer Klei Entertainment has said in the past that they would like to follow up with a PC version of the title, but for now, Xboxers are the only people in store for some sneaky action when Mark of the Ninja drops this September.
Mark of the Ninja really wants to nail the feeling of being a true ninja, so instead of letting you slice and dice your way through waves of cannon fodder like a demigod, you'll have to be silent, smart, and precise in your attacks. The game is not easy either, so ninjas will have to take things slowly and deliberately if they want to survive. Add in what seems to be a thoughtful narrative and an impressive art style, and you have yourself one of the more compelling XBLA titles scheduled to arrive before 2012 concludes.
Date: September 5, 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. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*