Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Games of August 2010.

A bite-sized version of the gargantuan "the rest of 2010" post from June. Doing this as a new month dawns is a bit wiser, I think. Release dates are more firm, and the games feel more imminent. Let's start with a game I don't give a crap about - and likely, neither do you.

August 10th
Madden NFL '11

Madden NFL 11 is... hm... I have no idea. I'll just copy some text from the Wikipedia page.

"Differences from Madden 10 include a new kick meter, new audible system, and new locomotion animation system. Another addition is Online Team Play, which supports 3 vs. 3 cooperative play, with attribute boosts given as an incentive. You can also scout opponents in online head to head games. Lighting improvements, run blocking improvements, improved QB ratings, and a new "Swagger" rating have also been added."

Sounds totally sick, brah.

I'm being too harsh - it might be totally awesome. What do I know? Nothin' about Madden, that's for sure.

August 10th
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
side-scrolling brawler

A classically-styled, colorful, creative sprite-based Double Dragon-esque 2D sidescrolling brawler, based on the ultrapopular graphic novel franchise. While Edgar Wright was off directing the movie, book scribe Bryan Lee O'Malley got elbow-deep in the production of the game. The first words out of his mouth were "I don't want to see a polygonal Michael Cera."

Given that keen degree of insight, it's not unwarranted to keep an eye firmly placed on Scott Pilgrim vs The World (the Game).

August 17th
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
3rd-person action/shooter
PS3, 360

I'm still waiting for IO Interactive to live up to the level of excellence they managed with Hitman: Blood Money. Not that graceful third-person shooting was ever their strong suit, but they found a niche and they did it very well.

My Hype-O-Meter for Kane & Lynch 2 slipped a bit when I got my hands on the demo. It would take absolutely stellar reviews for me to rethink my position on this title, but for now Dog Days is on the "pick it up when it's cheap - real cheap" list.

August 24th
Mafia II
open-world action
PS3, 360

Mafia II is very much the dark horse of August. This is a game that might prove absolutely fantastic. It offers a painstaking recreation of the 1950s and 60s, well-chosen music and what appears to be a real mastery of current-gen technology.

Whether or not it will be able to compete with Rockstar's entries in the open-world field remains to be seen, but Mafia II is still worth keeping an eye on.

August 24th & 25th
side-scrolling brawler
PS3 (24th), 360 (25th)

Shank is a smaller indie game that, like DeathSpank, was picked up by publishing giant Electronic Arts for digital distribution. The developers' goal, it's said, is to constantly blow the player away with what they were willing to put in the game - which is no idle threat, as Shank was written by God of War co-creator Marianne Krawczyk.

Everything about Shank looks great. The game itself is a gorgeous, sprite-based visual feast, animated by Jeff Agala (Atomic Betty), and hands-on impressions from the media only ever suggest the title is a liquid-smooth blast to play. Look, just watch the videos.

August 31st
Metroid: Other M
3rd person action/adventure

Recent gameplay vids of Metroid: Other M have piqued my interest, but I'm still not entirely sold. The Metroid franchise - though respected - has no more credit with me than developer Ninja Theory, so I'm prepared to bide my time on this one.

Still, the vids look great, but this is one title I refuse to believe the hype on. Let's keep an eye on Other M and see if it proves worthy of its preemptive praise.

August 31st
Valkyria Chronicles 2
strategy RPG

If there is a single guaranteed purchase in August for me, it's Valkyria Chronicles 2. The original was a gorgeous, moving, challenging monster of a title that the gamer community stubbornly ignored for months - likely the reason its sequel was relegated to the PSP.

If VC2 can measure up to the original, it will be one of the best games on the PSP. According to import reviews, it's better.

* * *

August is chock-full of many could-be-awesome titles, but very few guaranteed purchases. Still, a strong month - much better than July.

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