Monday, May 16, 2011

The next three months : Lookin' good.

You may recall that, in late January, I did up a post highlighting the potentially excellent games on the horizon. It's always my intention to talk about every potentially great game coming this year - but with release dates being as ethereal as they often are and the sheer quantity that tends to get released in a year, I find its best to go with a shorter time span - plus, this way I can tell you when the game is coming out.

So let's talk about the short-term future! Let's talk games from now to August of 2011 - and there are some wicked games coming. ...most of which are in June.

Team Bondi - open-world action/adventure - Rockstar Games
on Tuesday!

L.A. Noire will either be one of the most important games of the year or a failure of execution on par with the incredibly ambitious (and often successful) Heavy Rain. We'll find out which in two days, but if you want a deeper look at the title's gestation, check out the Games of May post.

Sucker Punch - open-world action/platformer
Sony Computer Entertainment
April 7th
the second day of E3. Weird.

Sucker Punch have brazenly said that they intend for the leap between inFamous and inFamous 2 to match the jump in quality between Uncharted and Uncharted 2 - and those are fightin' words when you consider what Uncharted 2 ended up being.

It certainly looks pretty good. I'm not so sure about the new voice actor they've got for the game's hero, but I am dead-certain of one thing: Sucker Punch are absolute masters of platforming in three-dimensional space. inFamous may not have been the prettiest game of 2008, but it was sure as hell the funnest - and if its sequel is merely more of the same it will find itself on my short list for best game of 2011.

I expect nothing less than pure action/platforming pleasure.

Spicy Horse - action platformer - Electronic Arts
June 14th

Designer American McGee may have a remarkable resume and an awesome name, but his games have always been longer on style than substance, in my books. Fortunately, style can go a very long way.

Alice: Madness Returns will likely be a half-decent platformer with half-decent combat and absolutely spectacular art direction and style - and the latter is all I really want from it. If it turns out to be a good game - well, all the better. It doesn't hurt that those who pick up the title at launch will also get an HD up-port of American McGee's Alice for their console of choice.

Style and nostalgia? You've just made a sale, Mr. McGee.

Gearbox Interactive - exploitation - 2K Games
June 14th

It's time for some hard truths, friends. Gearbox Interactive - who gave us surprise hit Borderlands - is making the PC version of Duke Nukem Forever. The PS3 and 360 versions of the game are being ported over by Piranha Games, a Vancouver-based developer of middling pedigree - and so, they may well suck.

Most screenshots and gameplay videos of the title have been pretty ugly affairs as well. This isn't the Duke of yore who could stand toe-to-toe with all the other Doom clones - but, perhaps even more so than 2011's other over-the-top FPS Bulletstorm - Duke Nukem Forever seems to have a real handle on comedy and zaniness and keeping its tongue buried into and beyond its cheek.

It won't be on many lists at the end of the year - but it's likely to be a hugely entertaining ride regardless.

Grasshopper Manufacture - third-person shooter
Electronic Arts
June 21st

Shinji Mikami - father of the modern shooter, whom I adore - and Suda 51, whom I don't, join forces for zany third-person shooter/action/horror title Shadows of the Damned. For many, this is a match made in gaming heaven - but there's a third player, here, and his name is Electronic Arts.

If you're familiar with Suda's work, you'll notice the above screenshot doesn't come close to his usual insane-o style. The developer has freely admitted, with a sigh, that this is due to the money man at EA dictating what kind of game they want he and Mikami to make - so I fear Shadows of the Damned may end up with too much publisher tampering to be as unique as his fans will hope.

Still, those are two of the biggest names in Japanese gaming - Shadows of the Damned is one to watch.

Persona Team - erotic horror action-puzzle adventure - Atlus
July 26th

The summer lull gets a shining star on the horizon with the first high-definition game from the team that brought us the sublime Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 and SMT: Persona 4. Unlike other games here that seem weird in terms of content or style, Catherine is freakish on every level.

What was the last game you saw or heard of with "erotic horror" in its tagline? It also boasts the rarest of gameplay types - its action-y segments are essentially a fast-paced, reflex-taxing puzzle game. Elsewhere, it's a sexy psychological thriller that's an "unprecedented exploration of the pleasures and horrors of love," with gorgeous 2-D cutscenes by the fantastic Studio 4°C (Tekkonkinkreet).

Not two days ago I was huddled in a corner, terrified of the death of originality in gaming due to economic forces. I can't say for sure that it will be a great game, but at the very least Catherine is a glorious symbol of hope.

Eidos Montreal - first-person action RPG - Square Enix
August 23rd

Human Revolution is a prequel to the legendary Deus Ex - and Deus Ex is up there with Ocarina of Time when it comes to titles that have truly permeated the collective gamer consciousness, and become deified.

Deus Ex was, to put it succinctly, a futuristic first-person action RPG with an incredible degree of choice, from character-building to story interaction to play style. This summer, Eidos Montreal will give us their attempt to get struck by the same bolt of lightning that lit up Ion Storm in 2000. The game looks good - it sounds good - but the question of whether or not it successfully recaptures the magic of hallowed designer Warren Spector's original will have to wait for August.

* * *

And that's the next three months! July and August are lookin' pretty lean, but who knows what might get announced at E3? Can't wait!


  1. "If you're familiar with Suda's work, you'll notice the above screenshot doesn't come close to his usual insane-o style. [...]so I fear Shadows of the Damned may end up with too much publisher tampering to be as unique as his fans will hope."

    I'm sorry, Chance, but all I could do while reading this paragraph was yell "He's kicking a zombie in the nuts!" I mean, I know hearing him say that is a bit discouraging but....c'mon.

  2. Yeah, it took me like an eighth of a second to decide on which picture to use for it - so clearly Suda and Mikami's zaniness remains largely intact - I just fear how much of an impact the Money Men at EA have had on it.