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This week in gaming: Even after delays, October 7 is a busy one

Multiple games were targeted for release on October 7, 2014 before moving to new homes. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor jumped forward a couple weeks, arriving on September 30. Dragon Age: Inquisition got a backward push, to mid-November. And in a game of chicken between 2K’s NBA 2K15 and EA Sports’ NBA Live 15, it was EA that blinked firstLive 15 is an October 28 release now.

Even after all of that shifting. there’s still plenty to choose from this week. Let’s take a look.

NBA 2K15

PS3/PS4/Windows/X360/XB1 (October 7)
Visual Concepts had one of the most beautiful games available when Microsoft’s and Sony’s new consoles launched in late 2013, and the studio’s latest basketball sim looks like it’s poised to deliver the same level of eyeball-pleasing experience. NBA 2K15 is likely to handle as well as other recent iterations of the series, but with one more year to build a game for current-generation hardware, the real question is how much of a visual uptick can be expected.

Visual Concepts has owned the realm of video game basketball for multiple years now, and that dominance doesn’t seem like it’s going to abate at all in 2014.

Alien: Isolation

PS3/PS4/Windows/X360/XB1 (October 7)
In space, no one can hear you scream. But on your living room couch, with a Xenomorph running your avatar through with its pointed tail, everyone can hear you scream. Alien: Isolation is a survival horror take on Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi series, from the Creative Assembly. There’s just one monster hunting you throughout the story, but it can’t be killed and it’s always  trailing just a few steps behind you.

The Alien series hasn’t had a great run in video games lately, and Sega hopes Isolation will correct that. Using the original 1979 film as a springboard into what amounts to a sequel story is certainly a good start.

Driveclub

PS4 (October 7)
Evolution Studios is best known for its intense, arcade-style offroad racing series, MotorStorm, but the team takes a sharp U-turn in its PlayStation 4 debut. Driveclub edges closer to being a simulation and, more importantly, it focuses on road races. It also has a social bend in its titular clubs, which let players group up and put their successes toward shared goals.

There’s no Gran Turismo yet for Sony’s latest console, and that’s probably got a lot to do with Driveclub. The two games couldn’t be more different, but they share a similarly sleek sense of style and they both put as much emphasis on the culture around cars as they do on the cars themselves … just in different ways.

Costume Quest 2

Linux/Mac/Windows (October 7)
For some, Halloween is about dressing up in costumes and filling a sack with candy (or toilet paper, for the tricksters, among you). You do that in Costume Quest 2 as well, but there’s a role-playing game wrapped around it. In this world, costumes transform their wearers into Hallo-warriors (YUP) while Creepy Treat Cards aid you in a battle against good hygiene. Because let’s be honest here: The true villain on Halloween is a toothbrush.

Costume Quest 2 is also coming to all of the consoles, but it’s not clear exactly when. You can get it on Steam starting this week.

What else is coming:

  • Project Spark (Win, X360, XB1/Oct. 7) – Announced alongside the Xbox One in 2013, Project Spark amounts to Microsoft’s take on LittleBigPlanet. More a set of development tools than a game on its own, Project Spark mixes a little of both into its accessible framework, allowing just about anyone to pick up a controller and dream up elaborate creations.
  • Styx: Master of Shadows (PS4, Win, XB1/Oct. 7) – Cyanide’s fantasy stealth game, Styx: Master of Shadows, has largely flown under the radar, but it’s a nifty-looking game in which you play as a goblin — the first goblin, in fact — as he tries to steal the heart of the World-Tree. In addition to the usual shadow play of modern stealth games, Styx also features a main character that is capable of cloning himself, and then using those clones for the purpose of misdirection.
  • Final Fantasy XIII (Win/Oct. 9) – This may well be the most divisive game in the long-running Final Fantasy series. The complex story and wonderfully conceived battle system are tempered by a more closed approach to design than the series had ever seen. Gone were towns, sidequests, and virtually everything else that made the series feel open-ended. It’s not for everyone, but as a distillation of what some see as most important in a Final Fantasy game, it actually works.
  • Ryse: Son of Rome (Win/Oct. 10) – Crytek’s Xbox One launch title was originally conceived as a Kinect-powered combat game. It transformed over time into a third-person brawler, like God of War meets the movie Gladiator. It was one of the most gorgeous games for Microsoft’s latest console, and it’s sure to be a real looker on those machines that are capable of running it.