Videogame Releases: Week of December 2nd, 2012

Videogame Releases: Week of December 2nd, 2012

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.

Quick note: New platform versions of several titles hit store shelves this week, including the ‘Mass Effect Trilogy‘ for the PS3, and ‘Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth‘ for the Wii U.

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).


  1. JM

    I’m so ensorceled by ‘Persona 4 Golden’ I don’t know if I’ll get to ‘FarCry 3’ or ‘Hitman’ until post-E3.

    I still haven’t finished ‘Borderlands 2’ or ‘Dishonored’ or ‘Saint’s Row 3: The Full Package.’ And ‘God Of War Saga’ arrives tomorrow.

    And I still need to purchase ‘Halo 4’ and ‘Ni no Kuni’…

    But after New Game+ I might have to download ‘Persona 3 Portable.’

    Thumbsticks crossed, my backlog will be shelved by the time ‘Dragon Age 3’ hits the 720.

    • I tried to warn you about ‘Persona 4,’ “say farewell to the real world for a while.”

      But yeah, I’m trying to hold off on ‘Far Cry 3’ until I can get a little caught up. (Even though I really want to replay ‘Far Cry 2’ again as well.) The Wii U launch alone has caused a log jam.

      • JM

        Do you foresee the transition to next-gen as being easier than last time?

        Will 2013-2016 console games simply feel like PC ports on Ultra settings?

        • In a word, no.

          The 360, PS3, and Wii offered XBL, Blu-ray playback, and motion controllers, respectively for early adopters (plus b/c), while at the same time replacing two consoles (Xbox1 and Gamecube) that were not super popular. (When compared with the PS2 or 360).

          Many gamers (stubbornly) profess not to notice any difference between conosole ports and their high-rez PC counterparts. Even for the PC, a game like ‘Far Cry 3’ has to be scale-able as marketing solely to high-end PCs is unwise.

          Currently, (in contrast to seven years ago), digital services like XBL and DLC, etc. generate revenue for everyone, including GameStop and Best Buy. Microsoft seems to have a multi-faceted approach to convincing old and new users to sign up for XBL on their next platform, but there is something missing there.

          Will Microsoft offer its top next-gen feature on the PC? Maybe, if only for Windows 8 customers or XBL Gold PC members or some other tie-in.

          The danger is telling say a million XBL subscribers, ‘Hey if you don’t buy some new hardware, you might as well let your subscription lapse.’

          • JM

            So ‘Deus Ex 4’ comes out in 2014 for 360, PS3, Vita, Wii U, 720, PS4, PC.

            And the game has to be designed for the lowest common denominator.

            Did Square Enix build the Luminous Engine to cover the full spectrum?

          • If you look across the stable of Square Enix studios, each engine is being built to cover the current generation, the current PC spec, and the next console generation in mind.

            Setting Square Enix aside, the lowest common denominator is the lead development platform, which typically has been the 360. Playspaces, occlusion, polys on screen, texture resolution, mipmapping, particles, lighting density and variance, etc.- all tuned daily around the 360 (prototyped on the PC, finished for the 360).

            This of course was not the case for FFXIII.
            For Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a lot of effort went into aesthetically balancing the versions. I would expect any next gen version of the sequel to be similar to a PC version in terms of added visual zing.

  2. William Henley

    Wow, all of these games sound good this week. I am definately interested in FarCry 3, although Elder Scrolls and Guardians of Middle Earth sound good as well

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