In order of release:
Dead Island (PS3/360/PC)-9/6
Resistance 3 (PS3)-9/6
Gears of War 3 (360)-9/20
Res Evil 4/Code Veronica HD (360/PS3)-9/30
FIFA 2012 (All)-9/30
Dark Souls (PC/360/PS3)-10/4
NBA 2K12 (All)-10/4
Twisted Metal (PS3)-10/4
Forza Motorsport 4 (360)-10/11
Batman: Arkham City (PC/360/PS3)-10/18
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One (PS3)-10/18
Battlefield 3 (PS3/PC/360)-10/25
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (PS3)-11/1
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (All)-11/8
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC/360/PS3)-11/11
Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary (360)-11/11
Saint's Row: The Third (360/PS3/PC)-11/15
NFS: The Run (PC/360/PS3)-11/17
Assassin's Creed Revelations (PC/360/PS3)-11/30
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (360/PS3)-11/30
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)-Q4 2011
Are you dizzy yet?
360 vs PS3
Microsoft only has one notable exclusive in Gears 3, and no matter how great it looks, it's hard to argue against Sony's impressive showing. Both Uncharted 3 and Resistance 3 seem poised to directly contend with Gears 3, though for different reasons. Both Res. and Gears are the final installment of a trilogy dealing with mankind's war against a terrible enemy. And Uncharted features the same cover-based third-person shooting as Gears, it offers a third dimension in terms of the verticality of the envirenments. That's not to say either will be better than Gears, just that Sony is clearly trying to cover their bases.
Ratchet and Clank gives us more of our favorite little wombat, and his awesome future tech. Oh and then there's Twisted Metal. Though it promises to give Sony an even greater edge over it's rival, it isn't directly combating Gears. Or is it? Can you think of any more manly games than Gears of War and Twisted Metal?
Battlefield Set to Retake the Crown
Of course, we won't know for sure until we play them, which game is better. But DICE has thrown down the Gauntlet big time, with what appear to be the most massive online first person shooter ever made. Sure, 64 players doesn't touch MAG's 256, but the level of customization, destructability, and sheer scale is unprecedented in games. They have fighter Jets for crying out loud!
But MW3 isn't going to take this lying down. The one thing Battlefield has always lacked are the huge jaw-dropping set-pieces that make your eyes bleed. MW3 seems like it has a few of those every level. If they can manage to make a coherent story (hard but not impossible with what they have), deliver the awesome fans want, and feature a MP that is not just cut-and-paste what we've seen...well, all bets are off.
And while we're on the topic of shooters...have you seen RAGE? OMGWTFBBQ....
RPGs Up the Ass
Did you play Demon's Souls? If so, did you beat the first boss? If so, you probably beat the whole game, as after the first time you feel that rush of completing one of the game's punishingly difficult sections, you can't wait to keep going. Combine that with some of the most satisfying swordplay in any game, and you had a recipe for greatness.
The spiritual successor to that game, Dark Souls promises to give fans more of the same. In fact, all indications seem to point to Dark Souls being ever HARDER, despite a quasi-checkpoint system. And I can't wait.
But let's not forget the elephant in the room. The game I personally am looking forward to the most, Skyrim. Yeah, you can summon lightning to kill dragons. The game engine looks absolutely beautiful, and seems to lack the wonkiness that plagued Bethesda's previous titles. Combat has been improved in some places, and totally revamped in others, to create a game that REALLY gives you the feeling of bringing an Axe down on someone's skull (as opposed to just slashing around).
Lights, Camera, ACTION!
The Dead Island trailer took us all by surprise, and instantly had me interested. A game about a zombie outbreak at a resort? Hmmm.... Well, when I saw this game in action, I was amazed. The combat, which includes some shooting but is geared towards melee, seems very tight, and even requires some strategy. Zombies have fully rendered bones, muscles, and skin (what's left of it) to create uber-real damage modeling, which has a large effect on gameplay.
Arkham Asylum took a lot of people by surprise with how unbelievably GOOD it was. Like, seriously, it was awesome. Arkham City looks even better. The combat, which was spot on in the previous game, is supposedly improved, though what need 'improving' I do not know. More space to explore, greater range of enemies, including almost all of Batman's top villains. Oh, and catwoman...oh gawd.
Finally, there's AC: Revelations. The final chapter in the Ezio saga (though unlikely the series), is set in the Ottoman Empire, and will also feature the return of Altair, protagonist of the first game. The title alone tells us that this will be a game about answers, finally we will understand the significance of the pieces of Eden, and the connections between Desmond and his ancestors. On the gameplay front, things look similar to Brotherhood, but with the addition of a new grappling hook, to make traversing the city easier. The setting itself looks fantastic, and even though I love Italy, I'm excited for something different.
Did I miss anything? Anything at all? Oh yeah...
Though it technically doesn't have a release date, Wii fans were assured at E3 2011 that they would be playing Skyward sword this Holiday season. A return to a more lighthearted art style of previous games implies this game will not be as dark on the story front. Which I'm fine with. Twilight Princess is still arguably one the best reasons to own a Wii, because of how exceptionally well it uses the Wiimote; maybe Skyward Sword will be even better.
In addition to all the new games coming out, several old classics are being re-released, with updated graphics and some new features.
Halo CE Anniversary is the one likely to get the most press, as it is a remake of the game that launched arguably the biggest franchise of this generation. Running on the Reach engine, the game looks better than ever. The gameplay itself is NOT taken from Reach, and instead promises to be identical to the original; one pistol shot in the back will kill a Hunter. Full 4-player online coop and multiplayer on six recreated maps, this is truly a love letter to the fans.
Resident Evil is also getting remade. In this case, two games, arguably the best in the franchise. Code Veronica X was the swan song of the fixed camera for the series. Gameplay was mostly taken from RE3, but with massive visual updates and new 3D backgrounds.
Resident Evil 4 remains one of the greatest TPS ever, and probably the greatest survival horror game of all time. It was scary, tough, scary, fun...really fucking scary. A new over-the-shoulder camera and open environments gave players free range of motion and aiming. Superior in every way to the previous games in the franchise, and a high-water mark for the series, RE4 HD is a must-buy for any fan.
The final remake (or remakes) is the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. This package includes MGS2, MGS3: Subsistence, and MGS: Peace Walker. MGS2 was seen by many as a revolution in terms of stealth games, hampered only by the fact that players were forced to play as Raiden for the majority of the game, who BACK THEN was simply not as cool as Snake.
MGS3 is one of my favorite games of all time, and the subsistence version is even better. All the games in the series (including the original MGS3) used a top-down isometric view with limited camera controls. Subsistence was launched the game with some graphical updates, but most importantly a new over-the-shoulder camera. Like RE4, this completely changed the game, taking an amazing title and sending it into the stratosphere.
Peace Walker, originally released as a PSP exclusive, is arguably the definitive game for the franchise. The series' gameplay reached it's zenith with the fourth game, with amazingly smooth controls and sneaking that actually required some strategy and thought. Unfortunately, the game part of it was only 4 hours long; a third of which were motorcycle races and mech battles. Peace Walker returned that gameplay, but delivered a 20+ hour experience, in addition to over 60 separate missions to play through. Four player coop put it over the top.
Yeah, so those are just a few of the massive number of releases this year. If you could only choose three (which for me is likely to be the case), which would they be and why?
Mine would likely be:
1. Skyrim-It looks unbelievably massive, a huge leap forward both in gameplay and design for an already stellar franchise.
2. Battlefield 3-The leaked alpha gameplay only reaffirmed what I already knew; this game is going to be SWEET.
3. RAGE/Dark Souls-They release the same day, so I will probably wait and see which is better received by fans and reviewers. If they seem equally awesome (which may well be the case) I would probably go with Dark Souls. Call me a masochist, no other games give you that kind of rush.