(THQ/Volition, Inc.; PC, PS3, Xbox 360- November 15)
Where Ratchet & Clank goes for the whimsical for broad audience, Saints Row does the same, but for a slightly more mature crowd. Well, maybe “mature” is the wrong word, but older. The Saints Row games take the Grand Theft Auto-style, then make it over-the-top…well, more over-the-top. The last game featured a car that sucked people in and then shot them out like a catapult. The first DLC starred a porn star. What more do you need to know?
Saints Row is going to have an uphill battle facing it. It has a good audience, but it is also coming out during a run of much bigger and better known franchise releases that will steal its audience. In the long run Saints Row: The Third will probably sell a lot of copies, but only in the long run.
But, if you aren’t interested in online shooters, or combat based games, of fun platformers, or driving simulators, or Star Wars, or cinematic-inspired games, or open world assassination-centric franchises, or first-person shooters by one of the best developers on the genre, or comic book-themed games, or the newest game in one of the oldest franchises in video game history, or an RPG that may set the bar for the genre, then Saints Row: The Third may be the game for you! Then again, it may actually have some appeal just because of that, and for people looking for something a little different, this may be the game for them.
(Nintendo/Nintendo EAD; Wii- November 20)
This one is a no-brainer. If you have a Wii, the odds are extremely high that you are a Zelda fan. The last Zelda game for the Wii, Zelda: Twilight Princess, sold close to 10 million copies, and it wasn’t even designed for the Wii–it was originally a GameCube title that was ported over. Skyward Sword could not only give Wii fans the Zelda game they have been waiting for, it could give the system a much needed shot of energy heading into the holidays.
Zelda is one of the most successful and longest running game series of all time, so fans are going to buy it regardless, and rightly so. So what more is there to say? How ‘bout them Dodgers? That’s baseball right?
Anyway, Zelda should help to fill a hole in the hearts of Wii owners who would otherwise be left to watch the tsunami of games hitting other systems, like the proverbial kid at Christmas with his nose mashed against the window of the chocolate factory, looking in wistfully. It should be a hit for the Wii, and a big one at that.
Check out our hands-on impressions of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword from E3.
(EA & LucasArts/BioWare; PC- December 20)
Cancel Christmas. Now that BioWare has officially announced a December 20 release for Star Wars: The Old Republic we finally have better things to do than spread this so called “holiday joy” and be with our “families.” But even for those people that are called to celebrate the birth of Santa, what better way than to become a Sith and fry an Ewok. And if that isn’t included in the game, it’s a giant missed opportunity — maybe a DLC awaits. So come Christmas morning, fans of Star Wars can pop in the complete Blu-ray set of the movies that many people will be receiving, and then when all of Lucas’ recent changes make them mad, they can wash the taste of dying childhood out of their mouth with the Star Wars MMORPG.
But beyond the Star Wars connection, which will bring in more than few gamers on that alone, it is time for a new MMORPG for people to delve into. World of Warcraft is hemorrhaging subscribers, and with online gaming becoming the norm across all platforms and splintering gamers across dozens of titles, there is gap for something new to rally online gamers to it. If the game can match the potential of the franchise, then The Old Republic could be the PC game for the next few years.
The Old Republic also has the advantage of being a PC only game, so it might still be able to release in the middle of the surge of games and avoid the crush that threatens the mass of console titles. With Diablo III delayed until next year (at least…), this could be the perfect time to release, as crazy as that sound when you look at the other games releasing at the same time. Sure, many of the games coming for console are also going to be available on the PC as well, but odds are The Old Republic could hold off the contenders.
And lest we forget, the Honorable Mention:
NBA2K12 (October 4), Spider-Man: Edge of Time (October 4), Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (October 11), Silent Hill: Downpour (October 25), The Lord of the Rings: War in the North (November 1), Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (November 15), Super Mario 3D Land (November 13), Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (November 15), Need for Speed: The Run (November 15), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom (November 15), Mario Kart 7 3D (December 4) Guild Wars 2 (TBA) and many, many more…