Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The Games of May 2011.
May, like April before, is a long and lean month when it comes to gaming, with few sparkling jewels on the horizon. Fortunately, one of those jewels is easily among the most exciting games of the year - a freakish title, boasting a unique approach to its genre - but first, there's a very interesting FPS on its way...
PS3, 360, PC
Quake Wars: Enemy Territory developer Splash Damage's Bethesda-published multiplayer shooter has been turning a lot of heads. It's trying to do a lot of very unusual or very cool stuff. Its navigation, for example, is very similar to the amount of freedom displayed in Mirror's Edge, and - perhaps most remarkable of all - it's a first-person shooter in which headshots don't count.
That was not a typo. Lots of people are very, very interested in what they're putting forward, here - but I've heard mixed things from those who've gone hands-on with the title - and reports suggest little has improved since its showing at E3 2010. Still, Brink is worth keeping an eye on.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
CD Projekt follows up fantabulous adults-only (see: boobs!) RPG The Witcher with this long-time-coming sequel.
That's right, folks, it's PC only - but The Witcher managed to hold its own in an era where you have to have console versions to break even thanks to being a game that's not just considered mature thanks to its rating sticker, but is actually mature in terms of narrative, structure, choice and consequence.
Toss in some satisfying combat and solid art direction, and stir. That's The Witcher - and gamers are expecting great things from the sequel. Me? I'm just crossing my fingers that, unlike the ill-fated port of the first game, The Witcher 2 actually makes it to consoles.
Hype-O-Meter: Day One.
L.A. Noire has a twisted and sultry story all its own. Developer Team Bondi was founded by the core members of the Sony-owned Team Soho - who made the criminally (heh) underrated The Getaway on PS2.
This cordial relationship carried forward when Team Bondi was founded, and L.A. Noire was once a PS3 exclusive. (Some of the following is rumor.) After several years in development, however, Sony said "you haven't lived up to your end of our development bargain, Team Bondi. We're cutting off your funding and suing the shit out of you for not delivering our game on time."
Well, Rockstar Games stepped in, offered to fund the rest of L.A. Noire's development, turned it multiplatform, and - in exchange for not suing the studio - promised Sony a PS3-exclusive Rockstar North-developed triple-A title in return: Agent.
It's 2011, and all we've ever seen of Agent is its logo - but L.A. Noire is finally landing on shelves, here in the real world. With absolutely stunning performance capture, a more intellectual approach to open-world gaming and the fact that it's The Next Thing From Rockstar, L.A. Noire is likely a Game of the Year contender - if it doesn't turn out to be 2011's Heavy Rain.
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter: Low as a snake's belt buckle.
I have friends who are hyped for this game, but I still just don't get it. These have always sort of seemed like... well... shitty games to me - but maybe I'm a nutcase and F.E.A.R. titles have always been landmarks of quality entertainment, packed tight with thrills, chills and spilled blood. Either way, it's dropping this month and I predict a Metascore in the 70-85 range.
Red Faction: Armageddon
PS3, 360, PC
Volition Inc have been fleshing out the world of Red Faction since 2001, and the series has gained quite a following. Unlike the rather well-received Red Faction: Guerrilla, Armageddon has been shown to be a somewhat traditional, linear affair.
That's not to say it'll be bad - but it is sure to be a more focused experience than fans of Guerrilla would like.
Hunted: The Demon's Forge
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter: This one has potential.
Hunted is May's dark horse candidate. It's a third-person cover-based Gears-ish-style co-op dungeon-crawler action title.
This is a title that could be absolutely incredible - and developer inXile Entertainment has some reasonable RPG roots, having worked on the classic The Bards Tale, with key members being part of the original Fallout team.
Plus, Bethesda tends not to publish really crap games. Hunted is perhaps the single most interesting game coming out in May, as is it the least known quantity. It could be amazing.