CrunchArcade: Fall Game Preview

It is hard to believe that this coming weekend is Labor Day. Next week kids (who aren’t already unlucky enough to be back in school) head back to the classroom. So it is a happy time for parents around the country. For those of us who never really grew up however, the end of summer is a bittersweet time. The days of fun in the sun are winding down, but this just means more time to load up with the latest games. Fall continues to be the time when the major companies roll out their heavy shooters (and some of the biggest games this season will in fact be first-person shooters). Here is a look at a few of those upcoming games for the fall.

Halo 3
Microsoft Game Studio
Platform: Xbox 360
ESRB: Mature
Release Date: 9/25/07
halo3-box.jpgMicrosoft could almost forgo releasing operating systems such as Windows Vista and just concentrate on the Halo franchise and still stay in the black. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but not much. And everyone seems to be getting in on the game on this one. EBgames has a multitude of options for the extreme Halo fan, including a Halo-branded Xbox 360! If that’s not enough (or too much, even we don’t know), you can buy a deluxe Halo pack that includes “Spartan Mjolnir Mark VI helmet case.” Bound to be a collectible! Buy it before they sell out!

What we like: It’s Halo. What’s not to like. More action with Master Chief, more multi-player options, it’s Halo!

What we’re worried about: There might not be anywhere to go up but down for this series. The original Halo was a masterpiece, even if it took a little longer than expected to arrive. Halo 2 was very good, but the unresolved ending was lamer than that trend in movie trilogies to leave Part II hanging. We better see something resolved, because as much as we’d love to hear about Halo 4, we need some conclusion already!

While you wait: Check out the recently released game footage.

John Woo’s Stranglehold
Platform: PlayStation 3/Xbox 360/PC
ESRB: Mature
Release Date: 9/5/07 (SURE IT IS!)
strangleholdcover.jpgDoesn’t it feel like they should be on to the sequel by now? We’ve seen this game for at least two E3s, and still it hasn’t come out. In the old days John Woo and Chow Yun Fat could crank out something like 10 Hardboileds, five A Better Tomorrows and still have time to do The Killer Parts I through VIII. But that doesn’t mean we’ve completely given up hope. The John Woo action game has the potential to be Hardboiled all over again. We’re hearing rumors that it could ship next week, or by the end of September.

What we like: That it might actually come out in September. That and the bullet time, and the fact that Chow Yun Fat looks as ready for action as he did before he ventured to America full time. It is almost like the British never gave Hong Kong back to China!

What we’re worried about: Well, first and foremost we’re worried about another delay. At this point the over/under on whether this comes out on September 17 is even money. But… if it does ship, we’re worried that the game might not live up to the hype. Few lengthy delays have been good news for games.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Platform: PC
ESRB: Teen
Release Date: 10/2/07
quakewars-box.jpgWhen this game was first unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2006 — back when E3 was a larger than life event located in downtown Los Angeles — Activision said this was a new direction for Quake. Well, that direction it turns out is towards Battlefield 1942 territory. Instead of aimless corridors on some forgotten prison planet, or an arena battle this time it is wide-open spaces that now incorporates vehicles and squad-based combat. It will be interesting to see how lone wolf styled players will adapt to this new generation of Quake.

What we like: The environments look mighty fine. Many games use the Quake engine, but obviously this team really knows how to get the most from it.

What we’re worried about: Do we need a Battlefield clone with aliens? It looks good, but it also looks like a mod of Battlefield 2142. That’s not a good thing.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Platform: PS3/Xbox 360/PC
ESRB: Rating Pending
Release Date: 11/5/07
callofdutycover.jpgApparently World War II finally ended. At least that’s the message we’re hearing as one of the most successful WWII-based first-person shooters moves to the modern era. The setting is purposefully generic, but based on similar conditions we’d find around the world today. The game’s been given a graphic boost as well, and Call of Duty has proven that it isn’t just a flash in the pan shooter. More importantly this time around the game will also have you play from a single perspective instead of jumping around to different theaters of operation.

What we like: The game looks fantastic. The details with weapons, character classes in the multi-player mode and diverse settings is top-notch.

What we’re worried about:
“Johnson (or whatever the character’s name might be), snipe that sentry. Johnson, go take out that guard. Johnson go plant that bomb.” The CoD franchise had one of the most linear storylines possible, and it felt that whomever you played you got to do it all! This one has the same sort of feeling. Being an army of one is one thing. Being an army of the ONLY one is another.

Assassin’s Creed
Platform: PS3/Xbox 360/PC
ESRB: Rating Pending
Release Date: 11/5/07
assassinbox.jpgThe Holy Lands are anything but peaceful. Christian Crusaders and Muslim warriors are battling for the lands, but neither side can manage to completely defeat the other. Set during the height of the Third Crusade in the year 1191 AD, you play as an Assassin, a member of a secret and feared society. It is up to you to suppress both sides to bring about a peaceful settlement. The game promises to feature a mix of stealth, direct confrontation when necessary and of course a little bit of assassinations for good measure. With the unique settings and characters it should feel like a trip back in time.

What we like: Finally something different. No sci-fi mercenaries. No genetically modified super warriors. Just a simple story about a simple guy who happens to be a top-notch assassin. Plus, the fact that the game has a whole mode that looks at the character’s home life… OK, we made that last part up.

What we’re worried about: That this game could start a new Holy War! Other than that, we’re just hoping to get our hands on this one by the holidays. Seriously, what could be a better game for the Christmas spirit than a game about a guy who runs around medieval Jerusalem killing people!

World in Conflict
Platform: Xbox 360/PC
ESRB: Rating Pending
Release Date: 9/13/07 (PC), 11/13/07 (Xbox 360
worldbox.jpgIn the fall of 1989 the Berlin Wall came crashing down and it was the end of the Cold War. Except, what if things worked out another way? World in Conflict lets you find out when decades of looming hostilities turn red-hot! This action strategy game’s single player campaign was co-authored by Larry Bond, co-author of Red Storm Rising, and features a storyline that is intensely realistic. This isn’t another Command & Conquer clone with fantastic weapons and unrealistic situations. Instead you’ll be treated to a game that brings the war to real-life locations in America, Western Europe and the Soviet Union. Up to 16 players can take part in an online multiplayer mode, as you command air, armor, infantry and support units. War is hell and things are just heating up.

What we like: It has been a while since there has been a good strategy game that didn’t rely on silly super-sonic tanks and über weapons.

What we’re worried about: This is an extremely ambitious game, and it tries to do a lot. Did the developers pull a Napoleon, and bite off more than they can chew?

Electronic Arts
Platform: PC
ESRB: Rating Pending
Release Date: 11/13/07
crysisbox.jpgIt isn’t the formulaic story, or even somewhat predictable gameplay that makes Crysis standout. In a world filled with similar shooters in near future settings, the story is about as typical as they get. Aliens invade and you get to blast at them with a variety of futuristic weapons. But more impressively Crysis is the future of game development. Thanks to the new Windows Vista operating system and DX10 shooters have reached a level of near photo-realism. This isn’t just a graphical improvement; it is a full-blown graphical revolution. This is when games starting looking so lifelike and realistic that you’ll feel you’re actually there. It will take a reasonably powerful computer to run this one, but the results will be anything but ordinary.

What we like: Well, this is the first game to really get a boost from Vista and DirectX10. Let’s see what this game can do.

What we don’t like: Bioshock ran like crap on many older systems, as well as many new machines too. Crysis is going to put many gamers into crisis mode trying to get this one to run!