Summary: Fall and Christmas are busy seasons, especially in the gaming industry. JCal gives a platform-by-platform rundown of the major titles competing for your holiday dollars.
Here at FiringSquad there are a number of upcoming games we are looking forward to playing this year, and as the fall buying season is right around the corner we are going to look at what we think could be the highlights of this year’s fall/holiday line-up. Please keep in mind that the games and game related hardware we are listing here are scheduled to come out sometime before the end of the year but that release dates can (and most likely will) change for a number of these titles. Also keep in mind that this list doesn’t have by any means every game that will be coming out this fall. These are just the ones we are especially interested in. As always with these kinds of features your opinions and mileage may vary from ours, and we encourage you to use our comments system to give us your views.
Sony’s big kahuna (in more ways than one) of a game console is due to be released in the US on Nov. 22 in two versions; a $499 model with a 20 GB hard drive but without internal WiFI, no SD or CompactFlash card slots and no HDMI collection for HDTVs. Most people are predicting that it will be the $599 version that will be the big seller as it will have all those features plus a 60 gig hard drive (three times more than Microsoft’s drive for the Xbox 360).
It’s late August, less than three months before the scheduled release of the PS3, but Sony is still keeping a lot of the details of the system under wraps, including most of the details of how their PS3 online service will actually work. Sony is claiming it will have two million units available for sale by launch worldwide (a figure that’s being disputed in some circles as overly optimistic) but Sony execs have admitted that manufacturing hasn’t even begun on the console yet. Even if Sony’s projections are correct it’s very possible that there will be shortages of the PS3 in the US on launch day. That is, if people are not put out by the high price of the console (see our previous article “Countdown to Playstation 3” for our more detailed opinion on the console).
So what about the games scheduled for launch day? Sony is also being somewhat quiet on what games will be available exclusively for the PS3 but here are our picks for the highlights (keep in mind that Sony has yet to release the full launch day list so things could change).
Resistance: Fall of Man: Insomniac Studios breaks away from their Ratchet and Clank platform franchise for their PS3 launch title with this great looking first person shooter set in a alternate 1950’s Britain where some kind of alien-alternate dimension invasion of monsters is generally making things unpleasant for the land of tea and crumpets. While the demos we have seen and played back at E3 seemed fairly standard for first person shooter fare, Insomniac may be keeping some features close to the vest. Two cool things are support for co-op play throughout the single player game and an online mode that will reportedly support “dozens of players” (check out our Resistance: Fall of Man interview with Insomniac’s Ted Price for more info)
Warhawk: Incog Studios brings back a classic futuristic flying game franchise to the PS3 with this outing, which at the moment is the only game known to support the PS3’s motion sensing tech in its wireless controller. Not a lot is known of Warhawk at this stage but during our playtime at E3 we had fun controlling the ship with just our arm movements (yes we avoided looking like a dork). But will the final game have what it takes to be an impressive launch title? Stay tuned.
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom: Sony Online Entertainment brings their PSP action-RPG franchise to the PS3 launch line-up. At E3 the game still looked early with some solid but not spectacular graphics and some fairly standard gameplay but it’s possible the game could improve. Besides, you have to have a cool action-RPG for your Sony console sometime.
Full Auto 2: Battlelines: Sega brings their car combat action game from the Xbox 360 to the PS3 for the sequel and developer Pseudo Interactive is promising more in terms of improved graphics, gameplay and destructible environments for the PS3 version (check out our Full Auto 2 interview for more info)
Of course there are a lot more PS3 games scheduled for launch from other publishers that are also being released for the Xbox 360 and other platforms (including a PS3 version of Madden 07), and we will cover our picks for the most anticipated multi-platform games this fall in another section of this article. Sony’s online service also reportedly is prepping online downloadable games and content for the PS3 but there are no details on those plans yet.
So will Nintendo’s efforts succeed where the Gamecube failed? We are a bit worried about the recent rumor that online multiplayer might not be a big deal for the Wii for its launch (according to rumors, third party developers are not being given access to the Wii’s online multiplayer SDK until sometime in 2007) but there is no doubt that Nintendo is pulling out the stops for its own launch titles. Here are our highlights:
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: After a long, long wait, Wii owners will get a launch title that’s worthy of the console (remember Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube? We try not to) Not only is Link back to his classic art style after the weird cel-shaded look of The Wind Waker, but Nintendo’s Wii controller will allow you to do things like fish and fire arrows with your hand and arm movements. (a version of this game will also appear at the same time for Gamecube owners).
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Developer Retro Studios heads back to the sci-fi world of Samus for their third outing of this classic action-adventure franchise. At E3, we got to do things with the Wii controller in this game like move the ball form with our wrist movement as well as pull objects out of the way. But no online multiplayer support? Is that wise?
Wii Sports: Clearly designed for the fans of games like Mario Party, Wii Sports has baseball, tennis and other games that use the Wii controller to move the bat and racket, respectively. It was a lot of fun to play at E3 (even Steve Spielberg was seen enjoying it) but will all that activity get people too tired in the end?
Red Steel: UbiSoft brings this Wii exclusive first person action game for the hardcore gamer, set in a world of Yakuza crime with lots of gun and sword play. To be honest we were not terribly impressed with either the gameplay or the graphics in Red Steel when we played it at E3 but we’ve been told things have improved remarkably since that early demo. Will the game be worthy of our attention on launch day?
Rayman Raving Rabbids: While it is coming out on other platforms UbiSoft has certainly targeted the Wii as the premiere platform for their latest game in their platform action game series. It’s being described as a mini-game collection where you control the Rayman character through shooting, racing and even dancing games to get rid of lots and lots of rabbits. Again it sounds like it could be a fun party game.
Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam: Activision’s Wii exclusive title brings the skateboarding franchise to a new and more kid-friendly arena of downhill racing. Again, the Wii controller allows for arm movements to handle the moving downhill along with the cool tricks that are the trademark of the Tony Hawk games.
In addition to the Nintendo exclusives, third parties are bringing a number of games to the Wii launch. THQ has a number of their kid themed games for the Wii and UbiSoft is porting a number of previously released and announced games for the console, including Far Cry. EA also has a Wii specific version of Madden 07 for the console slated for the launch and Sega will release a Wii version of their Sonic The Hedgehog game that will also take advantage of the Wii controller. And there’s that Virtual Console dealie as well; so far there is no word on what games will be available to download on launch day.
Gears of War: Epic Games bring their long awaited Xbox 360 exclusive third person action game this November. With pretty brutal sci-fi gameplay (a chainsaw inside your gun should give you an idea), this game got everyone excited when they played the eight-player multiplayer mode at E3. Will it live up to the hype? (November 12)
Forza Motorsport 2: Microsoft’s internally developed racing sim comes back for a second outing, this time for the Xbox 360 platform. The original game made lots of people say “Gran what?” with its extensive customization features and online multiplayer. This sequel will likely look better, have more gameplay options and more multiplayer online features. (November)
Viva Pinata: Microsoft attempts to break into the kid’s gaming market with this title developed by Rare that will also be the subject of a Saturday morning’s kid show this fall. It’s a game akin to Pokemon in that players are encouraged to create an environment inside the game world to attract the various Pinata creatures. (November)
Dead Or Alive Xtreme 2: For all the males who are reading this..you have pretty much stopped reading and started thinking about the girls in this game haven’t you? Tecmo bring their “volleyball” game to the Xbox 360 for the second outing. (November)
Of course the Xbox 360 will also have a number of other third party games that will appear or have appeared previously on other platforms this fall. One notable game is the pro wrestling title WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2007 which will come out for the Xbox 360 exclusively among the next-gen consoles (there will be PS2 and PSP versions). Look for the Xbox Live Vision camera to be released in mid-September that will have some gameplay features like adding faces for selected games. And of course Xbox Live Arcade will have a number of new fall releases every Wednesday. While Microsoft hasn’t revealed their entire fall schedule yet we are hoping to see Lumines Live, Ultimate Mortal Kombat and RoboBlitz get released for Arcade this fall.
Okami: A game based on painting? Yep? Capcom’s unusual puzzle game it getting lots of attention for its decidedly different design but does “different” mean “good?” We will soon see if using a paintbrush is as much fun as firing a BFG. (September 19)
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon: Midway’s long running fighting game franchise ends its current console run with this PS2-Xbox title this fall. Look for every single fighter in the Mortal Kombat mythos in this game, along with an improved Konquest adventure game mode and a Create a Fighter mode. Now you can make your own fighter to take on the character in Mortal Kombat played in the movie version by that Highlander guy. (October 6)
Bully: It’s the game that people who haven’t played it yet already hate but Rockstar is going full speed ahead by bringing the long-in-development title to the PS2 this fall. Look for school room and school yard antics aplenty in this game but we seriously doubt that this title is the end of civilization as we know it. (October 16)
Destroy All Humans 2: Developer Pandemic and publisher THQ return to their B-movie themed action game franchise for the PS2 and Xbox. This time instead of the square 1950’s the sequel is set in the swinging 1960’s, which means lots of weird colors and hippies. We would play an action game just to take out hippies. (October 17)
The Sopranos: With the cancellation of the Xbox 360 version earlier this year, this crime action game based on the brutal HBO TV series heads for the PS2 exclusively. Now you can control Tony Soprano yourself which is more than his family or his psychiatrist can say (November 7)
Justice League Heroes: Developer Stormfront Studios and publishers Warner Brothers and Eidos give DC Comics fans some love in this super hero action-RPG for the PS2 and Xbox. Maybe you can also solve who is really faster, Superman or The Flash…or maybe not. (October 17)
Guitar Hero II: Last year’s cult music-rhythm game hit from Harmonix and RedOctane/Activision returns for a second helping this fall for the PS2. Bring your 80’s hair and bandannas; it’s time to make a fool of yourself and love every minute of it. (November 7)
Final Fantasy XII: It’s been in Japan for several months but Square Enix brings the latest game in their long running fantasy turn based RPG series to American shores with this PS2 exclusive. Of course Final Fantasy XIII has already been announced for the PS3. Darn you, Square Enix…darn you all to heck. (October 31)
LocoRoco: Is this the cult hit the PSP has been waiting for? Sony is hoping this unusual puzzle-platform game from its native Japan is a hit on these shores. Controlling semi-solid blobs sound like it could be our cup of tea. (September 5)
Gangs of London: This free roaming crime action game for the PSP is semi-connected to the hit PS2 Getaway series. But will it have the really cool way the UK folks swear? We are betting on it. (October 3)
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories: Rockstar brings their crime action game franchise to the PSP for a second go-round, this time in the Rockstar version of Miami. We are betting it will be lots better than that Miami Vice PSP game.(October 16)
Medal of Honor: Heroes: While we are waiting for Medal of Honor: Airborne to get released on the consoles and PC next year PSP owners can grab this first PSP entry in their WWII shooter series. Now you too can kill Nazis while riding shotgun in your Ford Focus. (October 23)
Lumines II: The puzzle game that was a huge critical hit for the PSP for its launch returns for a sequel via Buena Vista Games. We think puzzle games are cool but isn’t it odd that with all the tech of the PSP, the original Lumines remains one of the best games for Sony’s console? We think so. (November 7)
Metal Gear: Portable Ops: The Metal Gear series finally brings a true action game to the PSP instead of those boring turn based Acid titles. Seriously….We are not throwing down cards when we can throw down some AK-47 shells if I can help it. (December)
It took a little while but the DS has now come into its own with lots of cool and innovative games for the portable. Will this fall continue the trend? Here are our highlights.
Joint Task Force: Most Wanted Entertainment, HD Interactive and Vivendi Games bring this modern military RTS title to PC retailer stores, a nice change of pace from the typical WWII-scifi-fantasy titles. Give me an M1 tank over an orc any day. (September 5)
Company of Heroes: Developer Relic has been known to do some different things in the RTS genre. Now the company and publisher THQ see if they can do the same for the tired WWII genre. It’s already getting some good advance notices for its impressive gameplay and destructible environments (September 11)
ParaWorld: Developer SEK and US publisher Aspyr bring yet another different take on the RTS game; an alternate history where dinosaurs are the main theme. Be careful; the T-Rex is nasty and we wouldn’t cross the raptor if we were you. (September 25)
Caesar IV: Developer Tilted Mill and publisher Vivendi Games bring back this acclaimed franchise to PC users as they once again let folks create their own version of the Roman Empire. Plus, no pesky Russell Crowe trying to make you look like a fool helps. (September 26)
Defcon: Introversions Software always does something different with its titles. Now they make a more straightforward strategy game that’s all about thermonuclear war. We bet Matthew Broderick will be one of the first customers….when he is not falling off horses. (September)
Stronghold: Legends: Developer Firefly and publisher 2K Games head back to their castle themed RTS game franchise. This time the emphasis is not on historical accuracy but fantasy with things like King Arthur and Dracula’s castle. We think Drac’s place could use a little bit of color but that’s us. (October 2)
War Front: Turning Point: Developer Digital Reality and publisher CDV go the alternate history route with this RTS game, set in a world where WWII continues past 1945. Of course, we don’t think this will have robo-Hitler anywhere in the game but we can hope (October 2)
Warhammer 40,000 Dawn Of War: Dark Crusade: The team at Relic stays busy with this second expansion pack for their hit sci-fi RTS game with lots of new features, including two new playable sides. We like the dedication that Relic has to this game and we bet players like it as well. (October 9)
Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs: Ensemble Studios and Microsoft bring forth an expansion to 2005’s historical RTS game, concentrating on the Native American races in the New World. Kevin Costner fans need not apply..please..we are begging you. (This Fall)
Battlefield 2142: Developer Digital Illusions and publisher Electronic Arts release the fourth stand alone PC game in this multiplayer shooter series. This time the setting isn’t the historical or the modern day but over 100 years in the future in a new ice age…which means Dennis Quaid must be around the battlefield somewhere. (October 10)
Maelstrom: Developer KDV Games and publisher Codemasters try to put some new spins in the sci-fi RTS genre with this new outing with destructible environments and the ability to alter the terrain. We like altering the terrain…we like it a lot. (October 10)
Microsoft Flight Simulator X: This is pretty much a guaranteed best seller as Microsoft brings its oldest franchise to a new version; while this game is coming out this fall, look for a free patch next year to upgrade the game to a DirectX10 graphics overall. Ohhh….pretty… (October 17)
Neverwinter Nights 2: Developer Obsidian Entertainment and publisher Atari bring this long awaited fantasy RPG to players. Will it gain the massive community that the original BioWare developed game managed to receive? The ball is in Obsidian’s hands on this one. (October 17)
Sid Meier’s Railroads: Firaxis Games and 2K Games will be bringing this game to stores this fall. Yep it’s a “Railroad Tycoon” game without the “Railroad Tycoon” title..which is a weird way to go but OK. We trust you, Sid. (October 24)
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Developers Arkane Studios and Kuju and publisher UbiSoft bring the Might and Magic fantasy franchise to a new gameplay design; a first person action game that’s using Valve’s Source engine. We think this will be a sleeper hit for PC fans. (October 24).
F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point: Developer Timegate Studios and publisher Vivendi Games get us back into the thick of things in this expansion pack to Monolith’s impressive 2005 first person shooter. Maybe you can get to waste that little evil girl…but that’s doesn’t seem likely (October 24)
Star Wars Empire at War: Corruption: One of the best Star Wars games in recent memory gets an expansion pack for the RTS title developed by Petroglyph Games and published by LucasArts. This time it’s the criminal element that’s the center…just like Jar Jar should be in the center of our blaster rifle shot. (October 24)
Guild Wars: Nightfall: ArenaNet and NCSoft quickly release their third game in their semi-MMORPG series six months after Guild Wars: Factions. Look for two new playable characters and more new content. Getting new content to players fast gets us all happy inside (October 27)
Gothic III: Developer Piranha Bytes and publisher Aspyr bring their latest game in their open world fantasy RPG series to players. Will it make people forget Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion? Well…most likely not but it could be a good game anyway. (October 30)
Medieval II: Total War: Developer The Creative Assembly and publisher Sega head back to the Middle Ages for this latest game in their popular historical RTS game series. (Insert Monty Python And The Holy Grail line here) (November 14)
Everquest II: Echos Of Faydwer: Sony Online releases their latest expansion pack for their two year old fantasy MMORPG. It may not be as popular as World of Warcraft but it can still be called “Evercrack” without people laughing at you…much. (November 13)
Lord of the Rings: Battle For Middle Earth II-The Witch King: EA quickly gets this expansion pack to their previous RTS series out this fall, taking place once again in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world. Now all we need is a Sims expansion set in Hobbiton and we are all set. (November 28)
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade: It’s most likely the biggest PC game of the year..if it comes out this fall, that is. You can bet that the over 6 million players of Blizzard’s MMORPG are eagerly awaiting this expansion pack that’s been over two years in the making (indeed this game might not be released this year at all but we are putting it in our list just in case) (November)
Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar: Stardock will release their expansion pack to their popular turn based space strategy game via the Internet this fall. In additions to more of what made the main game popular, there will be an all new single player campaign where you play as GalCiv2’s bad guy alien race. Don’t forget the ray guns and oppressive ideology (Fall)
CellFactor: Revolution: Artificial Studios wants you to use that PhysX physics card in your PC and they are hoping that this full featured version of their first person shooter demo will do the trick. We think the PhysX card is a cool idea and hope games like this will make it more of a cool idea and less of a PC card slot holder. (December)
Test Drive Unlimited: Open world gameplay comes to racing with this title from developer Eden Studios and publisher Atari. And it’s set in Hawaii which means you can drive fast just like Thomas Magnum. (September 5 for the Xbox 360; October for PC, PS2 and PSP)
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy: The first Lego Star Wars game was a surprise best seller in 2005. Now developer Traveller’s Tales and publisher LucasArts give the Lego toys over to the original Star Wars film trilogy..in other words, the good one. (September 12 for PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC, Xbox 360, DS and PSP.
Timeshift: It’s taken a while but developer Saber Interactive is finally set to release their temporal themed first person shooter courtesy of publisher Vivendi Games. Time travel makes our head hurt sometimes but we still want this game anyway. (September 19 for PC and Xbox 360)
Just Cause: The open world action game genre gets a new entry with this Hispanic themed island romp from developer Avalanche Software and publisher Eidos. Now you can try to overthrow your own island dictatorship in preparation for doing the real thing against Castro..unless he dies first. (September 26 for the PC, Xbox, PS2 and Xbox 360)
Scarface: The World Is Yours: You are Tony Montana in this open world crime action game from developer Radical and publisher Vivendi Games. Al Pacino may not be doing the voice but that’s ok…you probably can do an impression by yourself that’s better than his anyway. (October 8 for PS2, Xbox and PC)
Splinter Cell: Double Agent: It’s time for Sam Fisher to go undercover and rid the world of terrorists in this latest game in the UbiSoft stealth action game series. Oh, and Michael Ironside is back as Fisher’s voice…best….character…actor...ever. (October 17 for the PC, Xbox, PS2, GameCube, Xbox 360)
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance: Raven Software and Activision team up once again for their latest Marvel super heroes based action game, this time expanding beyond the world of the X-Men to include Iron Man, Spider-Man, and lots of other heroes that don’t have movie deals yet. (October 24 for the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, GBA; November for Wii and PS3)
Phantasy Star Universe: It’s the latest game in Sega’s sci-fi RPG series with both single player and MMORPG elements. Remember an earlier version for the Dreamcast? We do. (October 24 for PC, PS2 and Xbox 360)
Need For Speed: Carbon: EA’s latest game in the street racing series is all about working together with your teammates and avoiding crashes. We liked Need For Speed: Most Wanted last year; will this game improve or detract on the franchise? (November for PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, DS, GBA, PSP, GameCube, PC, PS3 and Wii)
Call of Duty 3: While it’s bypassing the PC, developer Treyarch and publisher Activision will be bringing their WWII shooter franchise to various consoles this fall. Yeah we know; PC owners are not happy at all. (November 7 for PS2, Xbox, PSP, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii)
Rainbow Six: Vegas: The mayor of the real Vegas may not like it but fans of the long running tactical shooter series should get a kick out of Team Rainbow taking out terrorists in Sin City. Maybe Danny Gans will have a cameo… (November 7 for PS2, Xbox, PSP, Xbox 360, PS3)
Tony Hawk’s Project 8: It’s the eighth game (get it?) in the never ending string of skateboarding titles from developer Neversoft and publisher Activision. Hopefully the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions will make us forget the crappy Xbox 360 port of Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland last year. (November 7 for PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Xbox 360, PS3)
F.E.A.R: Developer Day 1 Studios and publisher Vivendi Games port over this PC graphical extensive first person shooter to next gen consoles. We still think the game takes place way too much inside a dull office building but it’s still creepy. (November 7 for Xbox 360 and PS3)
Sonic The Hedgehog: After last year’s disaster that was Shadow the Hedghog, Sega goes back to the basics for this latest platform action game in the series. Maybe Sonic will run over Shadow in the first level..or are we overly optimistic? (November 7 for Xbox 360 and PS3, fall for Wii)
Star Trek: Legacy: Developer Mad Doc Software and publisher Bethesda Softworks bring back the Trek franchise to games with this space based action-strategy game that spans the entire Trek timeline. Plus all five Star Trek captain actors will be doing voice overs..let’s hope Shatner remembers he’s supposed to be Kirk and not Denny Crane. (November 7 for the PC and Xbox 360)
Superman Returns: The movie may have been boring but we still have high hopes for this EA created open world action game starring the Man of Steel. It’s got to be better than seeing Bryan Singer recreate Richard Donner’s first Superman movie..big mistake Bryan. (November 13 for PS2, Xbox and Xbox 360)
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