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Gamemageddon 2011! Best video games of the Fall

Batman-Arkham-City

If you’re a hardcore gamer, now might be a suitable moment to consider turning to a life of crime in order to supplement what will shortly become a very expensive hobby. While publishers repeatedly try to spew the politically correct verbiage and claim that they want all their competitors to succeed because it helps the industry, then they can all go skipping into the sunset while walking their new puppies. In reality, a dozen publishers decided to schedule the release of their big budget games all within a three month span leading up to Christmas. That’s competition at its finest.

This fall game-race will be survival of the fittest, but it makes sense. Game publishers want to release their titles before the holidays because they are fans of money – if money were on Facebook, they would “like” it. Publishers also aren’t quite as concerned about the opening day results as the film industry is, because most gamers are fine with waiting a bit and picking up a title down the road when they have more time. There are exceptions to this, but generally software sales in the gaming industry are a marathon, not a sprint.

That being said, it’s still slightly ridiculous that so many massive games are all going to come out at the same time; and not just big games, but massive, huge titles—some of the biggest in years. If you bought the normal version of each game — not counting the various special editions on the way — it would cost you at least $720 to buy all twelve titles on this list. That’s 525 Euros. To put that in perspective, that’s 4595.33 Yuan! You could buy a car with that. Granted, it wouldn’t be a very good car, and you could probably get as many hours out of Skyrim as you would life from that ride, but you can’t ghost ride a video game.

So where does a hard working gamer spend his or her cash in this veritable gamemageddon? Should you go with the crowds and pick up Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? Perhaps you want to play a cinematic adventure like Uncharted 3? Or maybe you want to take a short break from reality for, oh say, 300+ hours thanks to Skyrim? Whatever your poison, the rest of this year in gaming has something for everyone.

rage-coverRage

(Bethesda/id Software; PC, PS3, Xbox 360- October 4)

For fans of first-person shooters, Rage represents all that is right in the world. The game may be awful and people could punch themselves in the privates rather than play it, but the pedigree behind this game and the level of support in the development alone make it worth your attention. Besides, odds are, it won’t suck. Not even a little.

It may look like a familiar setting: A post-apocalyptic world where mutants want to eat your face and in response you negotiate with lead. Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas did it, Borderlands was similar, the recently released Gears of War 3 has some of that and a dozen other titles are in the same genre. But what this title has and the others don’t is id. Id Software created first-person shooters (I look forward to your corrections, internet people). At the very least they made the genre what it is today with the Wolfenstein and Doom franchises. And so now they are back, and they have Bethesda Softworks backing and supporting them as a publisher. On top of all that, Rage will feature the brand new id Tech 5 engine which is to game geeks what a new Bugati is to gearheads.

rage-screenshot

Mix in a massive open world with a huge story line, plus several cool weapons and locations, and you are golden. Add a multiplayer on top of it, and you have a hit. To be honest, the multiplayer is sort of a “wait and see” proposal. You would assume that the fathers of FPS games would come out with something mind-blowing for its online component. And id did…sort of. Instead of a competitive FPS online, Rage features online vehicle racing. It is competitive racing with lots of weapons, but it is an odd shift. It may turn some off, but it may also go down as a genius twist.

Check out our hands-on impressions of Rage from E3.

Forza-Motorsport-4Forza Motorsport 4

(Microsoft/Turn 10 Studios; Xbox 360- October 11)

This game will appeal to a very particular gamer, and for a small niche, this is the one game they have been waiting for. Forza, like the Gran Turismo series, appeals to the hardcore gearhead. It’s not a racing game, nor is it a driving game. It is a racing simulator, and that makes a huge difference—as anyone that has played a game like this can tell you.

Sure there are plenty of races and various game modes that will appeal to a more mainstream audience, but the person that will get the most out of this game will be the ones that like to adjust the gear differential and change the tire type, or tweak the flux capacitor or whatever. It gets very technical, just as GT5 did. But one major difference between the games is the support that Forza 4 already has announced for after its release. GT5 has received no DLC (although there is something coming later in October), and the promised tidal wave of things like video content were a bit underwhelming. Forza 4 already has multiple expansions announced which should keep people playing for a year or more.

Forza-Motorsport-4-screenshot

It isn’t necessary to delve that deeply into the game to really enjoy it, and most fans will probably just tune the stats to their advantage rather than really try to adjust the car to fit in the world of the realistic physics, but it is impressive that the options are there. GT5 may have captured the PS3 market, and it did so by having so much content that it can be overwhelming. Forza Motorsports 4 will do the same for the 360 users, and then add more through DLC on top of that.

Batman-Arkham-City-coverBatman: Arkham City

(WBIE/ Rocksteady Studios; PS3, Xbox 360- October 18, PC- November)

In 2009, Rocksteady did something that many fans had begun to think was impossible—they made an amazing superhero game. There have been plenty of good ones over the years, and plenty of superhero games with good parts to them, but generally superhero games just don’t live up to the promise—or perhaps they just don’t live up to the promise that we think they should. Playing as Superman isn’t as cool when you can’t punch a building to atoms or fly fast enough in counter clockwise orbit to travel backwards in time. That may not be entirely realistic or even fun for anyone but me, but that’s what I want from a Superman game.

Yet Batman: Arkham Asylum managed to walk that line between making a great game and matching the expectations of Batman fans. It was also one of the most original titles of the year despite the age and history of the brand. It just worked, and for many it was one of (if not the) best games of the year. So expectations for the sequel are high.

Batman-Arkham-City-screenshot

If you aren’t a fan of Batman, then this game probably won’t mean much to you. But for many, it is everything a comic book fan could hope for. A huge selection of Batman’s rogues gallery make an appearance, Catwoman is a playable character, and you have a massive chunk of a city to explore while fighting crime and solving puzzles. So put on your Batman underoos and settle in for a massive campaign.

Check out our hands-on impressions of Batman Arkham City from E3.