Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Games of November 2014.

I love this picture.

November, as always, is thick with high-profile sequels.  It's practically tradition, at this point - we've got our Call of Dutys, our Assassins Creeds and our Insert First-Party Tentpole Release Heres.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some more indies, this month - there hasn't been an update on Galak-Z's release date since they said "late summer 2014," so here's hopin'!

And speaking of indies...

November 4th
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, an action dungeon crawler.
PS4, Vita, Linux, Mac, PC
Hype-O-Meter: Always wanted to try it.

The Binding of Isaac is this year's Hotline Miami, for Sony platforms.  It's an indie that was hugely successful and critically-acclaimed when it launched for PC in 2011, and Sony have successfully tempted the developer to port Rebirth - a new, definitive edition of the game with extra content and spiffed-up assets - to the PS4 and Vita.  It's a... deeply disturbed game, whose 3DS port was actually rejected by Nintendo due to its "questionable religious content." The game reflects on religion's potential to harm children, infanticide, suicide and sexual identity, and - naturally - it received a lot of praise for exploring themes that don't often receive meaningful shrift in video games.  Beyond that, it's also supposed to be a pretty darned good game.

I think I just hyped myself in to giving Don't Starve the night off and revving this up on my Vita.

November 4th
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, a first-person shooter.
PS4, PS3, One, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter: Nah.

Struggling art-house publisher Activision - who brought us many novel, interesting games and definitely never closed down some of the greatest, most creative studios and development houses in history because their spreadsheets told them to - is taking one of their trademark risks on the agent provocateurs at Sledgehammer Games, a studio celebrated for their clever, original mechanics and subtle but deeply moving approach to storytelling with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.*1

As Activision is without the financial means to really support a game's development in a meaningful way, Advanced Warfare lacks the polish one expects of a current-gen first-person shooter, and you won't see much in the way of mainstream publicity - but you can rest assured it will have some of the most creative gameplay of the year, and a narrative that will really make you think, when it's not busy moving you to tears.*2

*1. This was all sarcasm. 
*2. So was this. 

An historical open-world stealth-action game.
November 11th - PS4, One, PC - Hype-O-Meter: Day One.

I'm the first to admit that calling out Call of Duty over lack of originality and turning around to preorder the next Assassin's Creed in Ubisoft's yearly franchise is hypocritical.  I don't care.  I've always enjoyed what Ubisoft are sellin' with AC - a soaring epic that permits the player to wander the beautifully-drawn locales of history - and I'm okay with the fact that little changes from game to game.  Well, IV had all that spectacular sailing, but we can't really take that as typical.

Unity is the Assassin's Creed game that was made from the ground up for new-gen consoles - your PS4s and your Xbox Ones - and as such, it's in a pretty exclusive club, mostly in the company of the platform holders' first-party titles.

Ubisoft aren't great, when it comes to consistency.  ACI kinda' sucked, II and Brotherhood were awesome, Revelations and III sucked and then IV was awesome again.  There's no telling whether or not Unity will be one of the good ones - but reviews won't be able to tell you.  Like Call of Duty, this game will get high eights or nines across the board from the major sites, and we'll have no idea if it's actually any good or not until we lay hands on it.

I shall lay hands. A beautifully-realized mid-revolution Paris?  Yes please.

November 11th
Assassin's Creed Rogue
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter: Myeh.

Rogue smacks of Revelations, to me - a way to cash in the franchise on the last gen before meaningfully moving over to the new - but I gotta' admit,

  • an Assassin who was betrayed by the Assassins, joins up with the Templars and hunts his former friends
  • more naval combat and
  • the Canadian arctic
all sound pretty sweet to me.  I'm giving it a miss because it's not on my platform of choice and my God Ubisoft, how many AC games do you need to release in one year?  

More than enough, it seems.

November 18th
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Hype-O-Meter: I would totally buy this if I had a One. 

By all indications, The Master Chief Collection is an up-port done right.  It contains Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4.  Halo 2 - which launched for the first Xbox in 2004 - is receiving an Anniversary-style overhaul with all the cutscenes re-made in HD.  Halo 3 and 4, which were HD to begin with, will get faithful up-ports to Microsoft's latest console and then, ODST aside, you'll have all your Halo, including every multiplayer map that's ever been in the series in one convenient place for the very-attractive price of sixty bucks. 

That ain't a bad deal by any stretch of the imagination. 

November 18th
Dragon Age Inquisition, a fantasy RPG. 
PS4, PS3, One, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter:  Will resist.  Too much to buy. 

Look, if Inquisition had launched in September, I would be all up in its business - but it didn't, and I've got too much to buy and too much to play this month.  Running on DICE's Frostbite 3 engine, the game is gorgeous, and it's the newest game from western RPG darlings BioWare - all good things - but I've never felt the Dragon Age franchise lived up to its potential, or really kept its promises, to the point that I feel comfortable giving it a miss until I find myself suffering a games drought. 

Could be awesome, though. 

The sequel to one of the greatest first-person experiences of all time. 
November 18th - PS4, PS3, One, 360, PC - Hype-O-Meter: Day One. 

Ubisoft continues its domination of my November with Far Cry 4, the #2 game on my 2014 hype list.  Ubisoft aren't the most consistent developer in the world, but I liked Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 3 was far and away one of the best things I played in 2012. I have been dying for a taste of that open-world first-person shooting freedom on the new gen - I would've killed for a simple up-port of 3 - but a whole new game in which I can wingsuit down the mountains of Tibet and stalk rhinos through the grasslands? 

God, yes. 

November 28th
PS4, PS3
Hype-O-Meter: Day one for some.  Not me, though. 

My older brother loves LBP.  Loves it.  He spent hundreds of hours with the last two, creating levels and costumes and becoming one with its surprisingly hardcore online community, which achieves Second Life levels of subcultural fervor. Not me, though.  I never thought it was all that good at the whole platforming thing. 

Played the first one, liked it, made a level.  Bought the second one, never touched it. 

Won't try the third.  I am not this game's market. 
November 18th - PS4, One - Hype-O-Meter: Day One.

I kinda' waffled back and forth on GTA V over the past few months.  I'd cancelled my preorder on Dragon Age: Inquisition in favor of GTA's PS4 up-port - and that didn't quite make sense.  Why would I play an old game, again, when I could play a new game instead? 

Well, how 'bout 'cause that old game is frickin' amazing, and the new-gen version features a bullet-point list of improvements, which I will now list in bullet points: 
  • new activities
  • new weapons
  • new vehicles
  • new wild animals
  • more traffic
  • new foliage system
  • enhanced damage and weather effects
  • upgraded textures
  • increased draw distance
  • 1080p
  • 30FPS locked framerate
  • enhanced radio stations with over 100 new songs
  • new first-person mode which looks awesome
  • I can carry over my GTA Online save and keep tooling around a gorgeous up-rezzed world in my black GT Sabre Turbo.  Hell yeah

November 18th
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter: You might be interested... 

...if you didn't buy it when it came out on PS4 and Xbox One in September.  And it ain't a bad game!  It's okay!  

It's not the best at world-building and its environments are a bit bland, but its combat is sound and it has some fresh systems to it that keep it from being a real slog.  If you want something Assassin's Creed-y or Batman: Arkham-y, it's a pretty good stand-in - and it's frankly heartening that they held off releasing the last-gen versions, if they needed some additional polish.  

That certainly doesn't bode ill for these versions.*1

*1. Sarcasm again. 

I'll explain below.
November 18th - PS3, Vita, 360, 3DS, PC - Hype-O-Meter:  Oh God this could be incredible.

Developer WayForward Technologies don't have the most consistent track record.  They made Shantae, which is awesome, and kept themselves afloat with mediocre licensed fare as they worked towards the latest iteration of their beloved IP with Half-Genie Hero.  

They've done Adventure Time games before, and none of those really hit it off.  I could tell you that Pendleton Ward and the main cast of Adventure Time are involved in this game (they are), but here's the concept that sold me on it: 

An Adventure Time game in the template of 
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. 

Sold.  Papers flying.  I'm in.  Might suck.  Worth the risk. 


A surprisingly fun open-world brawler, built on the foundation of an accurately-created world and constant sexual assault. 
November 25th - PS4 - Hype-O-Meter: I'll admit, I kinda' want it... 

...but I'd rather just get a physical copy of the Vita version, methinks.  That'd be cool.  

Akiba's Trip is a bit hard to explain, succinctly.  It won't be a game that'll push your PS4 in any way, shape or form, but it'll probably be the zaniest thing you play all year, if you pick it up.  Here, read this review of the Vita version

It's a good game, man - and I wouldn't begrudge you picking up the new-gen version.  In fact, I'd be kinda' jealous. 

* * * 

And that's November!  My wallet is shrieking as one bound to The Machine of the villainous six-fingered Count Rugen - but it will live.  And then it'll totally ride off on Humperdink's horse.

Oh, also, I probably won't do one of these for December (unless a ton of indie releases are announced), but Secret Ponchos is coming out in December and that'll probably be pretty cool.

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