This first week of December’s videogame release schedule brings us the ‘Lord of the Rings’ license, a sequel to one of my favorite games, ‘Skyrim’ dragon action and the voice work of Ray Liotta.
FarCry 3 (360, PS3, PC)
The three proper ‘FarCry’ titles share little in terms of plot continuity. What does get shared are the first-person view, the exotic settings and an openness in the world that enables and encourages players to get creative when approaching a target or mission objective. ‘FarCry 2’ took a somber approach as its protagonist attempted to navigate through a fictional, destabilized African nation while beset by malaria. ‘FarCry 3‘ dials some aspects of ‘FarCry 2’ back while dialing others up. Gone are the frequent weapon malfunctions, but the formerly scenic animals are now a big gameplay element. The first two games were visually stunning. The first was a Crytek benchmark, and the second helped to illustrate that extra level of detail found in the first-person view. In addition to the single player story and the competitive multiplayer mode, ‘FarCry 3’ also features a four player cooperative campaign separate from the main one.
Even with its warts, I love ‘FarCry 2’, and I don’t appreciate some of the changes made to appease that game’s many critics. Nevertheless, Ubisoft looks to have another winner with ‘FarCry 3’. I just need to look past some tacit similarities to ‘Dead Island’.
Guardians of Middle-Earth (XBLA, PS3)
‘Defense of the Ancients’ and ‘League of Legends’, both games that represent the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre, have one problem: They only can be played on a PC. That would seem to open the door for ‘Guardians of Middle-Earth‘, a MOBA style, ‘Lord of the Rings’ licensed title designed for consoles. Without a mouse, the player has to direct attacks by aiming a cone, rather than directly clicking on a target. Matches should be competitive with five versus five. The studio behind ‘Guardians of Middle-Earth’, while mostly known for FPS titles, also developed the popular ‘Gotham City Imposters’.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dragonborn (360)
‘Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim‘ continues to roll one year after its release with the latest expansion, ‘Dragonborn’. Being a Dragonborn, the player character will now have an opportunity to tame dragons as part of exploring the new island, Solstheim. Presumably, Solsheim will be full of guards and soldiers who once upon a time took an arrow in the knee. Expect a PC version at some point, but as time goes by, DLC for the PS3 seems less and less like a priority.
Uncharted: Fight for Fortune (PS Vita)
The ‘Uncharted’ series has always been famous for its cinematic presentation, lavish environments, frequent shoot-outs and big set pieces. Unfortunately, ‘Uncharted: Fight for Fortune’ is a turn-based card game. Essentially, all of the rogues form the ‘Uncharted’ games, (and, yes, all of the characters are basically rogues) have their own cards, stats and abilities. Many of the tactics are dependent on which group the player brings to a match.
I’m not sure that the ‘Uncharted’ universe needs cards for its characters, but the game may wind up being really fun.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 10th Anniversary (iOS)
Ten years after its debut on the PS2, ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’ comes to iOS. Arriving on the heels of the ground-breaking ‘GTA III’, ‘Vice City’ went all-in to create a Miami only glimpsed in ‘Scarface’. In stark contrast to the mute hero of ‘GTA III’, the Ray Liotta-voiced Tommy Vercetti was seldom quiet. And then there’s the game’s soundtrack. Where now Rockstar develops excellent original soundtracks, ‘Vice City’ is all about the synthetic songs of 1980s. Part refinement of ‘GTA III’ and part ‘I Love the ’80s’ extravaganza, ‘Vice City’ is still fondly remembered (whereas ‘San Andreas’ was a non-starter).