Saturday, October 9, 2010

Q3 2010 gaming report - PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP

Another quarter ends, another round of games get ready to be added to trade-in bins, put on holiday wish list or add themselves to a gamer’s favorite’s library. So which is it? How did the third quarter of 2010 do? The first quarter usually sees a few straggler top tier titles left over from the holidays while Q2 hits in middle summer but has recently seen a nice release list but the third quarter, this is when the holiday buzz begins. Game shows are in full swing, the weather begins to turn chilly ... in most cities at least, and gamers begin to dream of holiday shopping list. Which games in Q3 are going to make the holiday gamer list, lets take a look beginning with the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP and some multi-platform titles.

Multi-platform – This group of games appear on the PS3, 360, Wii, DS, PSP … not all but on any of them. They are solid games that shine on many systems so take into consideration for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 then see if they show up on other systems. 
  • Dead Rising 2 - More zombies and this time it's all about winning the game show. Can't help but think about Arnie in The Running Man.
  •  Tom Clancy's HAWX 2 - Ace Combat still rules the sky but the spelling challenged Tom Clancy combat series is gaining ground ... air.
  •  R.U.S.E. - Zoom in, zoom out (no, not a Karate Kid simulation). This World War II simulation gets gamers in close to the strategic battles and allows for sweet zooming out. A PC staple, the genre that is, and now making it's way onto console. 
  • Front Mission Evolved - Huge shift from strategic RPG to first-person, third-person hybrid marks a big, BIG change in direction for the franchise. Solid FPS but won't detract from the Halo: Reach's of the world but still a nice new mech entry that shows Square Enix will try something new and do it successfully. Now can we get a download, HD upgrade for Einhander??? 
  • BlazBlue: Continuum Shift - Under the radar, buried behind the vs. titles being put out by Capcom but BlazBlue delivers an even more refined gameplay experience than it's first entry, look amazing in HD and is just fun to play. No fighting game fan should be without. 
  •  Mafia II - Be the boss in the 1940's. It would be easy to write this off as a GTA clone but that's a true disservice. Hours of brutal mafia action await for fans of this gaming era. 
  • Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions - Truly like four games in 1 with great controls mixed into four unique Spidey universes and graphical styles. Web-heads will dig this puppy.
  • Madden NFL 11 - It's more Madden but the quicker gameplay enhances the casual gamer’s experience. Not having to pour through playbooks saves hours to time. Hardcore gamers can still dig deep into playbooks but now the other side gets a wag. 
  • Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock - Worth mentioning as Guitar Hero remains fun but now it's spaced out a bit better. Not releasing a new title every 3 weeks works for sales. 
Downloadable Games – A new section as these games are getting deeper, bigger and better. They give more life to older franchises and keep alive a gaming era long gone at a reasonable price. 
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - Lara goes all Diablo on gamers with a new buddy and gets back to fun gameplay that rocks. A great way to expand the Tomb Raider franchise without failing on a full retail game that just misses. 
  • Shank - Stylized Flash look reminiscent of Samurai Jack in style but full of blood and guts perfect for a Tarantino film. Some very cool, original visuals. 
  • DeathSpank - Lighthearted and humorous adventure that reminds this gamer of Army of Darkness in setting and humor. With one add-on already out a good download choice.
  • Space Invaders Infinity Gene - Visual amazing in HD and a great download that keeps the tired and true Space Invaders formula and just updates in all the right ways. So much fun to play. 
  • Castlevania: Harmony of Despair - Characters from across the full Castlevania gaming scope in the 2D environment perfected in Symphony of the Night. Takes a little getting used too but jumping in with friends online shows how this download shines. It's Castlevania but ... different. 
Xbox 360 – Two exclusives but one, Reach, is a beautiful piece of gaming creation that may not have received they hype a Halo 3 did but is not less a game, not even close and could be argued as better as it’s focus is on personality filled team of Spartans and not just one master.
  • Halo: Reach - How can a game with a known sad ending be so freaking amazing? Master Chief may be the face of the franchise but he was not the only Spartan. This tale of Noble team gives just a taste of the story telling goodness that lives in the novels ... plot holes aside. 
  • Crackdown 2 - More like a 1.5 than a true sequel gamers get the same gameplay with a few different settings (zombie things vs. gangs). Still a lot of fun with tons of achievements but nothing groundbreaking. 
PlayStation 3 – Watch out Wii, there’s a new motion control in town and it’s in HD. The big news is the PlayStation Move and the holidays will tell the patch this new controller is to take. With time to get games out on market and the possibility of downloadable, cheaper, motion games the sky is the limit for Sony. 
  • PlayStation Move & Sports Champions - Motion controls are solid and familiar (thanks Wii). While there are other titles out, Sports Champions is the flavor to talk about with a variety of gameplay styles and controller uses. While there are many who will say this is Wii on PS3, just wait until developers get a handle for how to mix in traditional gameplay with these new controls and all with the power of PS3. S.O.C.O.M. is going to be sick (we hope, please let it be sick).
  • Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland - Like RPG's? Like mixing and matching things? Like HD games? Guess this is the game for you as Atelier offers up alchematic fun on the PS3 with anime inspired visuals and gameplay that is traditional RPG. 
PSP – Whew, longer list this quarter but one that would usually shorten when getting to the PSP … but not so now. The PSP saw some it’s best titles to date and quite a few of them. There is a heavy RPG flavor but it’s one that taste oh so delicious.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep - Fans of the franchise will LOVE Birth by Sleep. Previous games are explained and the three story arcs unfold with great gameplay and beautiful graphics. The voicework and soundtrack is splendid. Square Enix knows how to make PSP games. 
  • Valkyria Chronicles II - The sequel to the PS3 gem retains the same gameplay and graphical look while continuing the story. Great follow-up.
  •  Ace Combat: Joint Assault - Ace Combat on the go with better graphics and more planes. 
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable - An upgrade to the PS2 original (and FES expansion). Now play as a boy or girl and guide the action much faster while engaging in more social, new social, interactions. This is still one of the best RPG's on the market with beautiful character design and a kicking soundtrack. Love Persona.
  • Ys Seven - Action role-playing on the PSP yet again with another Ys release. In the same manner that DragonQuest is finally getting proper release in the states so now is Ys which has long been a solid franchise in Japan. The next title is already scheduled and with bonus soundtrack and art book this is not a title to miss. 
  • Cladun: This is an RPG - Old-school RPG in look, feel ... everything but dang if it's not a fun download for the PSP. 
Overall this is going to be one hell of a holiday season based on the releases in this three month window. With more great titles to come in Q4 and new controllers to expand gaming the console war is in full swing and gamers win. The Xbox 360 gets an A for a solid Halo: Reach release and a slew of solid multi-platform titles while the PlayStation 3 clocks in with a B+ thanks to the creativity of Move and better downloadable games (which also helped 360). The PSP is an A with such a strong showing. High grades all around and much to be seen in Q4, but before we get there a look at Nintendo Wii and DS is needed.

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