10 Hottest Games of Fall 2010
Fall 2010 is going to be one of the hottest seasons ever for gamers. Though the economy is still sluggish, the arrival of the new motion controllers — Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move — and a slew of new A-list titles, and we could have ourselves a record quarter for the gaming industry.
Let’s look at the ten hottest titles coming to a console near you in the next two or three months. (And fanboys, start cracking those knuckles: you’re invited to gripe about all of the big games I didn’t include…)
10) Call of Duty: Black Ops
Does this long-lasting franchise still have some life left in it? Especially now that the creators of the series at Infinity Ward have been dumped by Activision? The prognosis looks pretty good. For one thing, Black Ops is an entry from secondary game production team Treyarch, which has a history of turning in solid titles.
The Infinity Ward titles get all of the brio and hype, but Treyarch still produces excellent games that maintain the quality standards the series is known for. Plus, Black Ops throws a whole new dynamic into the mix: setting the game in the throws of the Cold War, and featuring a heavy focus on covert tactics, with new and different kinds of weapons and vehicles. Have gamers finally tired of Call of Duty?
9) PlayStation Move
This isn’t a game so much as a peripheral (or a whole new platform, depending on who you ask). Regardless, it brings with it a new way of playing on the PS3, and an entire roster of new titles to go with it. Sadly, the most promising of the bunch — SOCOM 4 — has been pushed back to 2010. What’s more, everyone that’s had some hands-on time with the Move controllers are calling it Wii HD. Granted, it’s got super high-def games, and the controllers are more finely tuned than even the Wii Motion Plus. But it’s still beyond obvious that Sony couldn’t come up with anything more original in the motion controller wars than a riff on the Wii.
Are Sony fans itching to Move? We’re all about to be bombarded with ads for the new controllers, so I guess we’ll find out.
8) Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2
How is Starkiller back from the dead? Is he a clone? Was the original Starkiller a clone, too? Or is something else at work? (After all, if the Empire could clone Jedi so easily… why didn’t they clone a Jedi army instead of all those disposable Stormtroopers?) Story is front and center of the new Force Unleashed title, and that’s A-okay with me.
The original game was a blast for the faithful, offering you the chance to manipulate entire environments and obliterate your enemies just by using the Force. The new game is adding lots of cool new tricks to Starkiller’s arsenal, as well as dual lightsabers for him to wield. And the buzz from people who actually played it at E3 was off the charts.
7) Little Big Planet 2
The first LBP was a revelation to many. Its cardboard aesthetic was clever, and its side-scrolling gameplay dynamic was like Mario designed for three generations from now. What really set the game apart was the ease with which it allowed users to create their own levels and then share them on the PS3.
The second game in the series looks as though it’s being made primarily to serve those amateur game makers by giving them a vast new toolset to play with. Modders can now make virtually any type of game they want — not just side-scrollers — including racing games, RTS, FPS, and more. It remains to be seen if LBP2 will provide enough incentive for noobs to jump on the bandwagon, but what’s exciting about it is getting to see just how innovative gamers will become with the versatile new tools it offers.
6) Super Scribblenauts
Scribblenauts was one of the most original games of all time, giving gamers a virtual playground to think up pretty much anything by writing words on the screen of their Nintendo DS, and then dropping the objects those words create into an environment together to see what happens. Super Scribblenauts improves on the original with lots of player-requested tweaks and an entire dictionary worth of adjectives that you can use to add greater specificity to the words you write.
Overlook this one at your own risk.
5) Fable III
Fable II finally gave the Xbox 360 the genre-defining RPS it deserved, and its addictive gameplay was the source of many a sleepless night. Fable III takes the formula to a new level by offering you the chance to become king over Albion, and see what kind of a ruler you would be. Its “industrial revolution” setting looks like the shot in the arm the franchise needs, and the dozens of other innovations are sure to entice existing fans back for more.
For anyone who played Fable II, Fable III is already at the top of their wish list.
4) Rock Band 3
A real-world six-string guitar. A piano keyboard. Fine-tuned instruments. A gi-normous playlist. Rock Band has defined the rhythmic gaming genre with its past titles.
How can Rock Band 3 not be another mega-hit?
3) Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Brotherhood adds some much-needed multiplayer to the bestselling series, letting you hunt and assassinate those pesky Templars alongside your BFFs. Come on, admit it: that’s just too awesome to resist. Plus, there’s a fantastic-looking single player campaign that continues the story of fan-favorite protagonist Ezzio Auditore, taking him to Rome to build an entire army of assassins. With three enormous new areas of Rome to explore — all three of which are bigger than the three cities we visited in AC2 — and tons of multiplayer goodness, there’s a tremendous bang for your buck.
2) Halo: Reach
There’s a reason Halo is one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world. Well, more than one, actually. First, there’s that honed-to-perfection, frenetic gameplay. Then there’s the legions of fans who spend day and night online in deathmatches and capture-the-flag and all those other wonderful multiplayer game modes.
What Halo: Reach brings to the table that most of the other games have lacked is a powerful story. (Don’t hate me fanboys — I know ODST had a pretty darn awesome story, but it was the exception to the rule.) The fall of the planet Reach is the pivotal event in the games’ history, and Bungie’s not just telling that story — it’s letting you live it. Knowing that no matter how hard you fight to save Reach, it’s still going to fall… This is the elephant in the room. Will it create an unforgettable experience, or it will prove too fatalistic for gamers wanting a fun escape from daily life?
Like it or not, all eyes are on Microsoft‘s major gamble. Will turning the human body into the controller be a revolution in gaming? Or will its simplicity prove too limiting for hardcore gamers? Kinect‘s reported difficulties with couch-bound gaming is not encouraging. Many gamers simply aren’t interested in standing up all the time. Then there’s the fact that the best and most defining games for Kinect aren’t launching with the hardware itself (aside from perhaps Harmonix’ Dance Central, which has some buzz around it).
But what Kinect represents is more exciting than what it currently is. This could be a landmark moment in not just gaming but computing of all kinds. Used in different ways and different settings, Kinect is just one step away from the gesture-based computing seen in Minority Report. If Microsoft latches onto this as wave of the future, it could affect everything from how future computers are designed, to operating systems like Windows itself.
Until then, the innovations it offers makes Kinect the must-have of the Fall. I can’t wait to see what creative ways game publishers dream up to make use of it.