The sheer volume of videogames being released this week is spooky. ‘The Avengers’, ‘Lego’, ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Wreck-it Ralph’… These are just some of the properties eclipsed this week by a French game.
Assassin’s Creed III (360, PS3)
The jump in detail and scope between the first two ‘Assassin’s Creed’ games was massive, but what’s been promised for the third main title of Ubisoft’s jewel isn’t simply groundbreaking – it’s overwhelming. Although I recently attempted to illustrate the many threads of the series’ story, I neglected to mention how Ubisoft has made it a mission of the series to transcend any single set of cultural beliefs. You can bet that the ideas explored here will be far deeper and more challenging than Mel Gibson’s ‘The Patriot’, or even all of the cuts of Michael Mann’s ‘Last of the Mohicans’. Furthermore, if you take any kind of pride in your home theater, you owe yourself and your HD set-up the realization of a game such as ‘Assassin’s Creed III‘. The PC version is scheduled for next month.
An engine trailer is available here.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (360, PS3, PC, PSVita)
Unlike so many racing titles that seem to be in an ongoing state of identity crisis, ‘Need for Speed: Most Wanted‘ has taken a small set of racing game elements and focused them in the name of “these things are fun to do,” such as riding around town and looking for your dream car with other people online, or racing each other and beating the cops. EA-owned, UK-based developer Criterion (of ‘Burnout’ fame) is back to make sure that this ‘Need for Speed’ is worth checking out. By all accounts at E3, they nailed it. This being an EA title, expect some online system that involves packs of cars.
Lego Lord of the Rings (360, PS3, Wii, PC, 3DS, DS, PSVita)
As much as I like the new direction of the Lego games, ‘Lego Lord of the Rings‘ really seems to capture the element that made the original ‘Lego Star Wars’ titles so enjoyable. In a big difference here, all of the voiceover and music from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie trilogy are in play, which works for me. Moments such as when Frodo puts on the ring in attempt to evade the Ringwraiths, only to reveal their true visages as Lego clowns, strike a perfect tone for the love letter that this game is.
[Ed.: According to Amazon, only the portable versions of this game for the DS, 3DS and Vita are available today. The console and PC editions will be released on November 13th. Thanks to Wayne for the tip. -JZ]
Wreck-It Ralph (Wii, 3DS, DS)
No one really knows what the console videogame adaptation of ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ plays like. Even though both the publisher Activision and Disney have a vast stable of studios that could have made the game, I have no idea who the developer was. In fact, I’m not confident that the developer knew that they were making the game – at least not until the last possible minute. In contrast to the teaser video, my understanding was that this game takes place after the events of the movie. A Wii U version is expected before the end of the year.
Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth (360)
Unfortunately, those of us waiting for a brawler/dungeon crawler-style game like ‘X-Men: Legends’ or ‘Marvel: Ultimate Alliance’ are left with a relatively shallow Kinect fighting game in the form of ‘Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth‘. A Wii U version is expected before the end of the year, and this game reminds me of nice-looking launch title, rather than something full-fledged. At $49.99, it’s $10 cheaper than a standard console game, but $10 more expensive than Kinect games usually go for.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (PSVita)
There have been quite a few offshoots from the main ‘Assassin’s Creed’ line of games over the past few years, not the least of which found its way onto the PSP. ‘Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation‘ appears ready to eclipse all of those others, and I’d be amazed to find someone with PS Vita who isn’t interested in playing this game. The female protagonist, Alveline, has helped create a buzz for this game much larger than the Vita audience. It’s a continuing shame that games like this aren’t available to be played on the PS3 for the rest of the world.
WWE ’13 (360, PS3, Wii)
I’m not a wrestling fan, and I can’t recall playing a wrestling game since the NES era, but were I to ever enjoy some aspect of “professional” wrestling, it would involve a controller. Wrestling games sell, so there must be a fairly dedicated fan base out there. For those people, I would think that ‘WWE ’13‘ would be the top-shelf title.
Ragnarok Odyssey (PSVita)
First there was ‘Ragnorok Online’, then ‘Ragnarok Odyssey’ was released for the Japanese Vita audience. Now, through the localization efforts of the excellent XSeed, North American Vitas can take players through the pseudo Norse RPG. See my earlier comment about ‘ACIII: Liberation’, and how it should just be available on the PS3. Not unlike ‘Valkyria Chronicles’, it’s doubtful that anyone playing ‘Ragnarok Odyssey‘ will forget its country of origin.
Zone of the Enders HD Collection (360, PS3)
Make no mistake, I’m a huge fan of the ‘Zone of the Enders’ property and its two PS2 titles. As with ‘Metal Gear’, Hideo Kojima’s team again managed to extract the most out of the PS2. Still, both ‘Z.O.E.’ titles are deeply flawed. Despite a wonderfully executed control system (playing the first game ruined the spring tension on one of my Dual Shock 2 controllers) for piloting the game’s aerial frames (flying mechs) and stunning, finished visuals, both titles miss the mark.
The first game is much too short. (It was bundled with a ‘Metal Gear Solid 2’ demo.) Replaying the short campaign in an attempt to not ever hit a civilian is maddeningly frustrating. The game’s story also has some weak characterizations that, when matched with wooden character models for the cut-scenes, just don’t work well.
The second game is better in all those areas, but winds up being way too long. The animated cut-scenes are great, but tend to drag on, and each play session can feel laborious. The story quickly becomes convoluted and keeps going and going. Nevertheless, this cult classic has been clamored for, mostly by those who ignored the titles when they were released. ‘Zone of the Enders HD Collection‘ includes both games and a ‘Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’ demo.