October 2012 is a grand caravan of supergames. Almost every Tuesday this month sees at least one curious, confident or otherwise hype-inducing launch. The Vita (finally) sees the first month flush with promising releases since its launch, and - in loving celebration of all that is good - cult favorite and critical darling Okami gets re-released in glorious high definition.
Praise be. But let's kick it off with some zombies!
October 2nd - PS3, 360, PC - Hype-O-Meter : Day one.
The gaming press has been distancing itself from the Resident Evil 6 hype train ever since review copies went out - I'm anticipating some critical backlash against the title - but the demo of Leon's campaign sold me more than a thousand preview articles ever could. This feels like a Resident Evil that combines what Capcom have learned from modern gaming sensibilities (which, admittedly, ain't much) with the classic mechanics and tropes of its flagship franchise.
Could it end up being a disgusting melange of flavors which sees no harmony or joy in the execution? Sure.
I'm hoping it'll just be a wacky, freaky ride of super-triple-A production values, monster-killin' and cheesy dialogue. Really, if you go into any Resident Evil hoping for that, you'll come out just fine.
"We need a status report right away!"
"I just shot the president!"
New Little King's Story
Hype-O-Meter : If this were any other month, I'd probably grab this.
The Vita needs more RPGs of all colors, and Wii sleeper hit Little King's Story hits all the right notes of exploration, strategy and adorability. It's near-impossible to watch trailers for this game and not feel the gentle pull of its pastel canvas and the thought of a tiny army following you everywhere you go - but the fact is, it's dropping in October - and that pushes it to the back of the list. Oh, Little King - why weren't you in August?
October 9th - PS3, 360, PC - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.
1995's UFO: Enemy Unkown - or X-COM - is the very definition of a cult classic. It is the game that all strategy RPGs are measured against. When Valkyria Chronicles happened, for example, everyone was comparing its mechanics to X-COM's - the gold standard for the genre.
Enemy Unknown developer Firaxis has zero history with the franchise. These are the folks who make the Sid Meier's games - a distinguished but not fantastic pedigree - but ignoring the (uniformly positive) articles exploring the game's preview build or its intricate systems of risk and reward, I'm entirely sold on Enemy Unknown for two reasons:
(1) It's a turn-based strategy RPG. I love those, when they're not grindtastic. I want to like it.
(2) Every dev diary these guys make just... sells me. When lead designer Jake Solomon talks, I don't get the sense that this is a man steeped in PR training, ensuring he's dynamic enough and dropping enough buzzwords. This is a guy who loves the original X-COM. A man who understands not just the feeling that made the first game special, but the intention of the mechanics that allowed it.
If there's anyone we want to be re-making X-COM for the current gen, it's Jake Solomon. I believe in him.
Fable: The Journey
Hype-O-Meter : Who wants to bet this won't suck? Anyone! Any takers? I'm giving great odds! ...no one? Hm.
What can one say? Peter Molyneux has stepped out from Lionhead Studios, and Microsoft have turned one of their only really strong IPs into a rail shooter that they assure us isn't a rail shooter. For Kinect.
October 9th - PS3, 360, PC - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.
Deus Ex. Thief: The Dark Project. Some of the key developers behind Dishonored cut their teeth on titles that practically defined emergent gameplay, use of atmosphere and player freedom. The game casts players as a "supernatural assassin," framed for the murder of his employer, and sets them loose on a series of missions to uncover the truth and get revenge - but that's where the direction ends.
Players are free to approach the game in the manner of their choosing - from an entirely stealth approach, that harms not a hair on any guard's head (or even your assassination target), to a player-controlled grip reaper, leaving a breadcrumb trail of bodies in their wake. It all sounds very verbose and intellectual when you talk about it that way, but let me put my expectations simply;
Awesome atmosphere, awesome world, awesome fun. It should be amazing - but given that Arkane Studios don't have a genuine hit under their belt, I wouldn't blame you for being cautious of this one.
Hype-O-Meter : The Vita could use a good action RPG...
Relatively little is known to me about Ragnarok Odyssey beyond lovely-looking screenshots and lush trailers. It's a console spin-off of the MMO Ragnarok Online from South Korean developer Gravity - that's it, that's all I got. I suspect Odyssey may prove to be the Vita's Summoner - the first eastern RPG to get any form of traction, to be later surpassed by triple-A titles in its genre.
Still, a big, beautiful action-RPG on the Vita. I can dig it.
October 16th - PS3, 360, PC - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.
Full disclosure - I love Doom 3, and I seriously don't get what everyone was bitching about when Doom 3 got its critical backlash. When it dropped in 2004, I played the holy crap out of that game and loved every minute of it. Loved the voice work, loved the world-building, loved the incredible lighting engine - but most of all, I love that crucial, supple, razor-sharp feel that id software have utterly mastered.
No one makes FPSs that feel quite like the ones id makes - and ever since I purchased a PS3, I've been waiting this game. The time has, finally, come. It'd be nice if it were in a month less jam-packed with quality titles, but I don't care - I wished for it, and the wish came true, and I'm hardly one to look a gift wish in the mouth.
Silent Hill : Book of Memories
Hype-O-Meter : I'll look to like, if looking liking move...
Originally slated for release in March - at which point it appeared for all the world to be an isometric shooter - Silent Hill: Book of Memories has enjoyed some very positive previews which reveal its true nature. This is a dungeon-crawling Diablo-like RPG set in the Silent Hill universe.
Which sounds totally awesome.
Book of Memories should go on your Watch List. With so many triple-A PS3 games dropping, I won't be able to look into it beyond a demo - but I'll be paying attention to what people are saying about this Silent Hill - for the first time in a long time.
Hype-O-Meter : That's some bang for your buck, right there.
Despite Sony's most earnest hopes, Killzone never gained the same traction Halo did - but that doesn't stop it from being a pretty badass trilogy of games. Killzone was a beautifully atmospheric, weighty experience on the PS2, and its two PS3 follow-ups (particularly 3) were utterly gorgeous beasts - gauntlets thrown down to the rest of the industry, showing what was possible on Sony's platform.
If you've ever been curious about these games, getting all three in a single package for forty bucks ain't a bad use of funds.
October 30th - PS3, 360, PC - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.
Ubisoft pretty much owned E3 2012 with their apocalyptic bombardment of Assassin's Creed III media, but I can't say I'm as sold as the media seems to be. The leap in mechanical and design quality between Assassin's Creed and its sequel was huge - and word is, the AC3 core team is made up of the folks who made II.
There's cause for hope, here - and if the absolute deluge of media Ubisoft has released of the game is any indication, the company is pretty confident in its success. Will it be that awesome? I can't say - but I'll be picking it up day one, just like everyone else.
LEGO Lord of the Rings
PS3, 360, PC, Vita, 3DS, Wii, DS
Hype-O-Meter : Pretty cute can get you pretty far.
Yet another LEGO game, this time leveraging Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I really should play one of these LEGO games one day - they sound right up my alley, in a Ratchet & Clank kind of way - but I can just never be bothered. Maybe I'll grab it for Vita if that version's worth its salt.
Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
Hype-O-Meter: There are too many fucking games to play!
I love that this exists, I want it and I can't wait to play this game, but I will wait. Liberation looks hot - it looks like it holds all the gameplay we love about Assassin's Creed, this time you play as a lady, it's set in New Orleans - and that is all wicked-cool. I've no doubt my Vita will be home to Liberation at some point, but c'mon... Okami HD is happening on the 30th, too.
October 30th - PS3 (PSN) - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.
...and Okami is a masterpiece. One of the best games I've ever played, and one of my favorite games of all time. This will be immediately purchased upon its release - but I'll probably have to wait until after the rainy season to really dive into it. A gorgeous, emotionally resonant 30-hour action-RPG doesn't get rattled off in an afternoon.
* * *
...and that's October. You might want to pull out some bank statements, a calculator and a calendar - 'cause this month has a few games that would like a word.
I'm gonna' be busy.