So... That's it, right? All of the year's major military shooters are out the gate, Skyrim has touched down to devour our lives, and we game journalists can just go home, enjoy a glass of warm milk and hit the hay until the New Year. Wait, what's that? There's more? Well, so much for peace and quiet. Prepare to sacrifice your savings to the gaming deities as, in the coming days, there's an inundation of titles that deserve your attention. Have a peek at them:
Ostensibly finishing out the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze (saying that never gets old), this Assassin's Creed follows the gallant assassin in his later years as he parties in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, for those who failed geography) with some new friends, a hookblade variant on one of his hidden daggers, and lots and lots of bombs. With the increased combat options come more demanding combatants and a whole lot of set pieces that seem ripped from a summer blockbuster. Additionally, the modern day content takes a turn for the surreal, and a connection between Ezio and Altaïr is promised. Assassin's Creed: Revelations will be leaping onto shelves this Tuesday, November 15.
(PC, PS3, X360)
"Over-the-top" barely begins to describe the newest in the Saints Row franchise. Sure, it starts there, but this game is good for nothing if not escalation. Set in a new city and spun around a tale of revenge as only the 3rd Street Saints can dish it out, Saints Row: The Third is a markedly more personal story than the previous two in some key ways. All of the violence is still there, though, with a heaping extra helping of both sexuality and absurdity. Touting multiple endings and a more involved plot than games past, Saints Row: The Third also has tremendous, cinematic moments that you, the player, get to control. Trust me when I say that this makes them more fun. Saints Row: The Third will be taking over stores on Tuesday, November 15.
Show me someone who doesn't like Mario and I'll show you an empty husk that, maybe once, was a man (or woman. I'm an equal opportunity husk-judger). Come to think of it, this is the earliest into a Nintendo handheld's life cycle that we've had an original Mario platformer since maybe the original GameBoy. The GameBoy Advance and DS both had remakes of prior titles at and around launch. And yes, this is a platformer. In an unusual twist for 3D Mario titles, the camera is fixed, relying on the 3DS' illusion of depth to help players judge their jumps. With references to other classic Nintendo franchises, and a wealth of that classic Mario charm, Super Mario 3D Land is one to watch. Read our review and maybe pick the game up for yourself. It came out on Sunday, November 13.
(PS3, X360, Wii)
Two platformers in one week? Not only that, but one of them is a traditional side-scroller? And it's full price? How does Ubisoft plan to justify this one? The answer: with whimsy and content. Beyond the title's unique, animated, graphical style, Rayman Origins also offers over 60 levels. Think about the last time you played a game that boasted more than a dozen or so. And, seriously, on the 360 and PS3, that's a dollar per level. You've probably paid more than that for each map in your shooter-of-choice's DLC. Rayman Origins has classic sensibilities with regard to its gameplay, in that it's easy to learn and difficult to master. While kids and adults alike should enjoy it, and find the content appropriate, it will challenge even seasoned gamers. Kirby's Epic Yarn this ain't. Rayman Origins hits stores this Tuesday, November 15.
Halo: Combat Evolved. Perhaps you played this game on the original Xbox. Everyone who had an Xbox at launch did, anyway, because it was by far the best title to come out alongside the system. That isn't a remark on the lack of quality in its peers (though they were a wishy-washy bunch). No, that is entirely a response to the incredible quality Halo demonstrated and the innovations it introduced to the shooter formula. Some of those have since been abused, but the first Halo did them damn well, proving that PCs weren't the only place one could have a superb FPS experience. The Anniversary edition gives the old girl a new coat of paint, retooling the graphics with the Reach engine, but leaving the original gameplay more or less intact. Multiplayer, however, is pretty much entirely Reach, and if that's all you care about, the new maps this comes with are also available as a separate download for Reach. That said, at a $40 budget price point, this is a great opportunity to play through a genre-defining work, if you haven't already. Especially if your excuse was "eww, the graphics!" Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary hits shelves Tuesday, November 15.
(3DS, PC, PS3, Wii, X360)
Michael Bay is involved in the marketing for this game. Seriously, the dude made a trailer for it. If that statement simply leaves you nonplussed, odds are you should go back to watching French art house films instead of playing adrenaline-centric racers. Your name is Jack, and you make your way across the country in race after race, over varied terrain, but always in dangerous conditions. If the named main character didn't give it away, this is EA's attempt at bringing a deeper story to the NFS franchise, sort of like what they did with Fight Night Champion. You might feel ambivalent about the sequences that take you out of your car, but you'll be happy to know that this game has stat-tracking in full effect (Autolog) and is powered by the Frostbite 2 engine, the same one behind Battlefield 3's stunning visuals. Need for Speed: The Run drifts into stores this Tuesday, November 15.
There's been some debate about the merits of Capcom releasing an expansion to a year-old fighter that makes the base game entirely obsolete. So, there's no way to get the new characters or the updates to the gameplay without buying the new $40 retail disc and starting your online record over from (close to) scratch. That said, the list of new characters is impressive, including some old favorites, such as Strider, and some new oddballs. Phoenix Wright is playable in this game. Seriously. That alone might be worth the price of admission. Other than that, it has the same hectic, three-on-three brawling as last year's model, touched up with balance changes and some retooling of its overall system to make the game a fairer, cleaner MvC3. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 breaks your guard on Tuesday, November 15.
Okay, I just have a soft spot for ninja. I admit it. That said, I've also always had a thing for the Shinobi franchise, going so far as to hunt down a copy of Shinobi Legions after I finally got a Saturn. Yes, the digitized one. The 3DS Shinobi, however, promises to be a smoother experience. With fluid animations and fast-paced swordplay, this 2.5D platformer/action game looks slick, even if the graphics are somewhat lacking in texture and complexity. It's one of those titles that just looks better in motion, and probably (one would hope) with the 3D slider turned up. If you're expecting to slink through the shadows, this isn't the game for you. If, however, "ninja" also means "badass purveyor of martial death" in your personal lexicon, you might want to check it out. Shinobi is out this Tuesday, November 15.
The Rest: Monday, November 14
DLC Slated for release this week:
Hidden Gem of the Week: Jurassic Park: The Game
This is a Telltale game. It is not, however, like other Telltale games. Oh, sure, it's still a direct descendant of the point-and-click adventures from days of yore, but its content separates it from the rest of the Telltale library. Here is an adult tale set parallel to the events of the original Jurassic Park, perhaps slightly before. It's a game in which people betray one another, in which imperfections can be life-threatening.
And it's a game in which you can die. That's kind of a new thing for Telltale, and I'm curious to see how this more mature of adventures pans out for them. I'd like to see them tackle some other franchises that dealt in darker, more morbid fare. A new Blade Runner adventure game, for example, would be excellent. First, though, return to a land with dinosaurs and DNA hocus-pocus. The game comes to the PC, PSN and XBLA this Tuesday, November 15.
By Shelby Reiches
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*