Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Games of November 2012.

November sees the rainy season all but exhausting itself, with only Far Cry 3 and the Mass Effect trilogy's PS3 version waiting until December for their debuts.  The Wii U drops halfway through the month, replete with a single major first-party title and a handful of third-party ports.  Sony deploys its only "high profile" release of the season with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, while Microsoft answers with the fourth installment of a little-known and under-appreciate franchise called Halo...

This is the month everybody (except Ubisoft) drops their mightiest cash cow - but that's not to say the month is flush with required purchases.  There are, however, a few very notable games...

* * * 

November 6th
Little Big Planet Karting
Hype-O-Meter : Meh.

The folks who made ModNation Racers (boo) and Sleeping Dogs (yay!) team up with Media Molecule to develop another Sony "play, create, share" version of Mario Kart.  Again.

I'm prepared to suggest that, even with the LBP branding, LBP Karting will be about as awesome as ModNation was.  Which is to say, not.

November 6th - 360 - Hype-O-Meter : Ultrablockbuster.

I generally appreciate what Halo does, even as I recognize it's not my cup of tea.  I love the enemy AI and  universe, but loathe the super-open, very-sparse levels, mediocre graphics and repetitive combat.  For fans of the series, however - and there are millions of them - it's all good in the hood, and reviews are praising Halo 4's updated graphics and the unexpectedly affecting story of Master Chief and his relationship with Cortana.

Odds are, if you're a Halo fan, all you needed to hear were the words "November 6th."

November 13th
Assassin's Creed Ezio Trilogy
Hype-O-Meter : You don't already own this?

It was with Assassin's Creed II and Ezio Auditore da Firenze's appearance that Ubisoft's flagship triple-A franchise finally found its footing.  An excellent game which garnered an excellent sequel in Brotherhood, the only weak link of Ezio's trilogy is the (good, but not excellent) Revelations, which didn't send off one of this generation's most compelling heroes with nearly enough pomp and ceremony.  

Still, Ezio's collected adventures - for a mere forty dollars - is a phenomenal deal for anyone who has yet to experience the Assassin's Creed formula, or abandoned the series after the ambitious but stumbling original.

November 13th - PS3, 360, PC, Wii U - Hype-O-Meter : Ultrablockbuster.

Never cared for the Call of Duty games.  I think the last military-themed FPS I really loved was Medal of Honor: Allied Assault on PC like, ten years ago.  That being said, this game will release, sell an obscene amount of copies, and we'll get another CoD in twelve months time.

There really aren't proper words to describe the Call of Duty phenomenon, so let's try to put it in perspective.  You know Halo 4?  You have an idea of what that's going to sell, right?  Probably 3-6 million copies by Christmas, around 10-12 million lifetime sales.

Black Ops II will double that.  Easily.

November 13th
LEGO Lord of the Rings
PS3, 360, PC, Wii, DS, 3DS, Vita, Kitchen Sink
Hype-O-Meter : D'awww!

Perhaps cute can only get you so far, but in the case of the LEGO games that turns out to be quite a distance. They may be spectacular fun, but I've never tried them - and thankfully so.  With over eleven LEGO titles on the PS3 alone - from Harry Potter to Indiana Jones, there's no way I'd have the time.

November 13th
Wonderbook: Book of Spells
PlayStation Move (PS3)
Hype-O-Meter : This thing will be terrible.

Sony's Wonderbook - basically a surface that's designed to work well with the EyeToy's "augmented reality" thing, was the laughing stock of the Internet at E3 this year.  It's a terrible idea, and I will be stunned to my very core if this thing doesn't crash and burn.

November 13th
Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified
Hype-O-Meter : Preliminary examination suggests this will be terrible too.

One could hope that Nihilistic Software learned some sound lessons from the Vita's disappointing Resistance: Burning Skies earlier this year - but trailers, screenshots and previews suggest otherwise.  Declassified, thus far, merely seems to be a cash-in of the Call of Duty name on Sony's handheld.  I wouldn't expect it to blow anyone's skirts up.

November 18th - $300-$350

The Wii U's processing power is similar to the Xbox 360, but it's the memory that blows the current gen out of the water; the Wii U has 2 gigs of it - one gig for system memory and one gig for running games. This is over ten times the amount of memory the Wii has, and quadruples the memory available on the PS3 and 360.  This implies games that will run as smooth as silk.

It also suggests a Nintendo console that - for the next year, at least - may offer games that outperform their Sony or Microsoft counterparts.  Come December 2013 (or E3 2013), however, expect the Wii U's capabilities to be dwarfed by the next-gen Sony/Microsoft consoles.

That said... Mario and Zelda in HD, anyone?

Assassin's Creed III, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Darksiders II, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Mass Effect 3, New Super Mario Bros U, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge

November 20th
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
PS3, Vita
Hype-O-Meter : Watching from the sidelines.

This is it.  This is Sony's big fall release.  Every other publisher is pulling out all the stops with new installments of their major franchises, and Sony's got... a Smash Bros. clone.

Whelp.  I'll be interested to see its sales numbers.  The "casual" market isn't often explored by Sony.  Also, I love the idea of Nathan Drake and Cole McGrath beating the crap out of each other.

November 20th - PS3, 360, PC - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.

With Mark of the Ninja and Dishonored, 2012 has already been a banner year for stealth - a genre which was previously all but ignored on the current gen.  Hitman has a distinguished history, but - lately, at least - IO Interactive do not.  After three (delicious) Hitman titles on the last gen, they abandoned their flagship franchise for the abysmal Kane & Lynch games and the passable Mini Ninjas.

Perhaps they were waiting for completion of their new Glacier 2 engine before putting the Hitman name on an HD game - but I'm willing to move forward on faith.  The Hitman series has always been long on style and excessively open, with huge, sprawling levels that reward exploration and creativity.

Even with the departure of longtime music composer Jesper Kyd, I can't wait to get Silent Assassin rank across this game's campaign.

Day one.

November 20 - Vita - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.

After falling hard for Persona 3, the PS2's Persona 4 solidified my love for Atlus, and cemented the concept - a shocking, alien thought - that I could love a JRPG.  Since then I've dabbled, here and there.  I still don't like Final Fantasy, I liked Eternal Sonata and loved Valkyria Chronicles and Resonance of Fate - but Atlus's weird, wild and wonderful RPGS, with their modern setting and heady themes, will forever have a very special place in my heart.  

They are, if you'll pardon the turn of phrase, my first love when it comes to JRPGs.  Prior to P3 I fucking hated these games.  

With Persona 4: Golden, Atlus seeks to do what it could not with Persona 3 Portable (PSP) - offer us a definitive version of its biggest property, in a handheld.  Given that the Vita is a juggernaut of processing and memory compared to the PlayStation 2, P4G is a major update across the board. 

Sharper graphics, more audio, more characters, more content.  This could be the best version of one of the best JRPGs of all time.  

Dig it.  

November 27th
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault
PS3, Vita
Hype-O-Meter : Day One.

When Insomniac announced it was going multi-platform, I feared that would be the end of one of my favorite series in all of gaming, Ratchet & Clank.  Last year's All 4 One, with its heavy emphasis on co-op, turned me right off - so I'm thrilled that they're returning (mostly) to the series' classic formula with Full Frontal Assault.

The title - which Insomniac suggests is somehow the same size and also bigger than 2008's download-only Quest for Booty - seems to embrace the old-school run-around-and-blow-shit-up mantra of the older games, and throws in some variety of tower defense for good measure.

Perhaps most pleasing of all, if you buy the PS3 version (twenty bucks), you're able to download the Vita version for free as part of Sony's Cross-Buy thing.

How can an R&C fan say no?

* * * 

Honestly, if this month only had Hitman in it, I'd still be a very happy camper.  And it's nice I don't have to buy as much as I did in October - Christmas is right around the corner.


  1. MAN, that Hitman art is great. The headline image (in the rain) would make a fantastic GoC banner, in my opinion - and I do appreciate the obviously-intentional tie-in reference to rain just four words into the post.

  2. I admit anime in general kinda turns me off, but WHY did i love persoan 4 so much?

    Because it didn't give a damn weather you thought thier culture was accaptable to you or not. It was SUPER japanese and I respected the hell out of it.

  3. Atlus's way of maintaining their games' cultural flavor while making them accessible to us Anglos is a major feather in their cap - but I think the reason I really fall in love with the Persona games are its characters, and the sheer quantity of time you spend with them. Love Chie.

    Also, @ Gio: Both of the Hitman pics are fan arts from Patrick Brown. He's got a ton of other awesome fan art - a lot of Assassin's Creed, Prototype and Grand Theft Auto - and it's all very stylish and dynamic.