Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Cools Off, September Heats Up—For Video Games At Least

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 1:25 PM

The weather has turned. There’s a chill in the air that smells surprisingly like football. Schools are back in session and there is more reason to stay indoors than venture out. The interactive media industry (read: video games) has piled on some pretty good reasons for staying in as well. The games of the summer were, for the most part, hit and miss; there were a few top-tier titles, but the season was lukewarm.

Enter September …

Did you know that September is also tagged as National Organic Harvest Month? It's apropos when it comes to the rich "organic" worlds dotting the horizon of video games throughout the month. There is something for everyone, but here are some of the biggest brands and titles coming to a gaming rig or console near you:

"Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep"
Releases Tuesday, Sept. 7, for PSP
Square Enix’s fifth installment in the collaboration with Disney is a prequel to the first game and tells the story of three young keyblade-master apprentices tasked with saving the world. There are new locations from the Disney universe including "Sleeping Beauty’s" Enchanted Dominion, the Dwarf Woodlands from "Snow White" and deep space from "Lilo & Stitch." The plot is trite, but this is Square and Disney combined — so the game is certain have some visual treats.

"Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions"
Releases Tuesday, Sept. 7, for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and DS
Penned by comic writer Dan Slott, the Web-head finds a tablet that keeps reality in balance. During a failed robbery attempt, the tablet is shattered into four pieces and Spidey finds himself battling through four different dimensions to put the world right. The Activision game features Spider-Man Noir levels and some iconic characters such as Kraven the Hunter and Hammerhead. This is classic Spider-Man and the closest yet to his comic-book roots.

"Halo: Reach"
Releases Tuesday, Sept. 14, for Xbox 360
This is a prequel to the original story of Halo with the SPARTAN squad taking on the Covenant on a fortress world. Ranking as one of the most anticipated 360 titles of the year, Reach (the name of the world) features frenetic combat and could well be the best game of the series. Bungie's Halo is one of those games that has immediate name recognition for gamers.

"Dead Rising 2"
Releases Tuesday, Sept. 28, for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC
Blend humor, gore and zombies together and you have a game that does not take itself too seriously but will challenge and entertain. The weapon-construction system is back, multiplayer is available and there are a lot of goofy costumes that can be worn with splattering the various casinos and shopping areas with the gray matter of the mindless. Saw this game at a Capcom Captivate media event in Hawaii at the start of summer and it was certainly entertaining. Tongue is placed firmly in cheek for this one. The lead character has the name of a fictitious company/racing team on the back of his leather jacket—that’s actually the name of one of Capcom’s bigwigs spelled backwards.

"Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock"
Releases Tuesday, Sept. 28, for Xbox 360, PC, PS3 and Wii
Gene Simmons provides the narration voice for the title that utilizes a pre-determined set list as players embark on the game’s quest mode — a first for the series. The goal is to level up, battle the “Beast” of the underworld and free the demigod of rock. The music is all classic rock and metal and fans of the Activision series should find the set list appealing.

"Final Fantasy XIV Online"
Releases Thursday, Sept. 30, for PC
The game will look great— that much is a given, but did Square Enix take the lessons learned about MMOs and the Western market to heart in designing this game? The game purportedly will release with 3D technology in place (of course, if your machine is a bit older, you may not have the ability to see the game that way), but the real make-or-break—especially with several other solid MMOs set to release this year—will be in the gameplay.

There you have it: some of the biggest titles coming out in September. Also look for comic heroine Kit Ballard, aka "Blade Kitten," to star in an arcade-style romp and, of course, EA Sports will be launching new titles in the Madden franchise as well as the latest installment of its highly touted NHL franchise.

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