As the schizophrenic stock market wreaks havoc with publishers' stock and employees' 401Ks, gamers are also finding themselves suddenly impoverished. That's because in addition to the economic woes besetting the country, this week the avalanche of fourth-quarter AAA releases begins burying stores in earnest.
Arguably Tuesday's most anticipated release is Dead Space, the all-new sci-fi horror property from Electronic Arts' Redwood Shores studio. After generating massive amounts of buzz--even Gears of War 2 design director Cliff Bleszinski predicted it would be a "sleeper hit"--the game has finally arrived to stellar reviews, including a 9.0 from GameSpot. Complete with launch-purchase incentives, the M for (very) Mature-rated game goes on sale Tuesday on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for $59.99, with the PC version coming October 20 for $49.99.
Speaking of EA, Tuesday sees the megapublisher's sports division ship FIFA Soccer 09. Rated E for Everyone, the latest installment in the multiplatform football series will be available for the PlayStation 2, PS3, PSP, PC, DS, Xbox 360, and Wii for a range of price points. The game is already receiving high marks from critics for its realistic gameplay and numerous solo and multiplayer game modes, such as Be a Pro Online, even getting an 8.5 from GameSpot.
For those who prefer their sports unlicensed and uncensored, Midway's Blitz: The League II also goes on sale this week. The game amps up 2005's Blitz: The League's in-your-face brand of football, replete with gruesome injuries, trash-talking players, and rampant drug use set in a fictional football universe. Full of dark humor and off-field antics, the M for Mature-rated game sells for $59.99 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
If splattering space zombies, slide-tackling strikers, or steroid-enhanced linebackers aren't your game, THQ is rolling out its open-world crime-action offering, Saints Row 2. Heavily promoted as an over-the-top comic counterweight to the brooding Grand Theft Auto IV, the Volition-developed game is receiving almost as much acclaim as the 2006 original. However, unlike its predecessor, which was an Xbox 360 exclusive, the M for Mature-rated sequel is also available for the PlayStation 3 and PC.
The only exclusive game to go on sale at retail this week is SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation for the PS3. Developed by Slant Six, which took over for the MAG-mad Zipper Interactive, the latest installment in the long-running tactical action series is strictly multiplayer, available in a $39.99 a la carte version--at retail or online--or in a $59.99 bundle packed in with the official PS3 Bluetooth headset. The headset is also available on its own for $49.99.
Also on the mid-October roster is Golden Axe: Beast Rider for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Announced with much fanfare at E3 2006, the "reimagining" of Sega's classic action game only recently emerged from seclusion. Developed by Sega-owned US studio Secret Level, the game is rated T for Teen and sells for $59.99.
Rhythm-game enthusiasts who've already tired of Rock Band 2 but can't wait until Guitar Hero World Tour have a third option with the debut of Rock Revolution, Konami's first instrument-based game since the last Guitar Freaks and Drummania games. Though all versions offer several dozen cover songs of top acts, only the 360 and PS3 editions offer Rock Band/Guitar Hero-style guitar, drum, and microphone peripherals. The Wii version will offer "an air-drum and air-guitar experience," letting players use motion to have their characters perform scissor kicks, smash their guitars, or light their instruments on fire. Finally, the DS Rock Revolution will use stylus gestures for "rhythm matching" to allow players to play drums, bass, or guitar on the handheld's touch screen.
In the downloadable department, Nintendo led the way with four offerings: the dual WiiWare titles World of Goo (1,500 points/$15) and Art Style: CUBELLO (600 points/$6) and the Wii VC offerings Secret of Mana (SNES, 800 points/$8) and Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition (Genesis, 800 points/$8). Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store will both get the same game this week, Age of Booty. Previously called Plunder, Capcom's pirate-themed real-time strategy game will arrive on the former on Wednesday for 800 Microsoft points ($10) and on the latter on Thursday for $9.99.
This week's new releases are listed below (list taken from retailer information--actual dates may vary).
OCTOBER 13, 2008
Art Style: CUBELLO - WII - WII, PS2
Avatar - The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno - WII, PS2
Blitz: The League II - PS3, X360
Bratz Girlz Really Rock- WII, PS2, DS
Secret of Mana- WII
Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition- WII
Tak and the Guardians of Gross - WII, PS2
Tak Mojo Mistake - DS
World of Goo - Wii
OCTOBER 14, 2008
Battle of the Giants: Dinosaurs - DS
Boogie SuperStar - WII
Dead Space - PS3, 360
Dokapon Kingdom - PS2
FIFA Soccer 09 - DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, X360, WII
Golden Axe: Beast Rider - X360, PS3
Littlest Pet Shop: Garden - DS, WII
Littlest Pet Shop: Winter - DS
Lovely Lisa - DS
Rock Revolution - DS, PS3, X360, WII
Saints Row 2 - PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Sam & Max: Season One - WII
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation - PS3
OCTOBER 16, 2008
Age of Booty - PS3 (PSN)