Do we finally have a Red Dead Redemption 2 killer this week?! I don’t know, how much do you like Spyro? Syke! We’ve got a new Fallout game, a new Pokemon game, a new Hitman game, a new Warren Spector influenced game, and, really?! A new Warhammer game? I like Warhammer, but this is getting to be a bit much. On another note, apologies if this one is a bit light or nonsensical. I spent this weekend staying up late partying and waking up early for a convention and a Disneyland trip. I’ve probably slept a total of 15 hours over the last three days, but it was worth it.
Fallout 76 (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 14th
After two isometric turn based RPGs and three first/third person combat RPGs, Bethesda is taking Fallout to the online multiplayer sphere. This isn’t without controversy, however. Taking a long time, single player experience and making it online multiplayer could alienate your core fanbase, and to a degree the game has, with some decrying the “message” of Fallout is being muddied with players able to launch nukes on one another. One of the other knocks against the game is the lack of any NPCs to get quests from, as you will now instead get your quests from holotapes and other means. Bethesda has promised that the only humans you will ever encounter are actual human beings in the real world. Early reports from the beta have been mixed, but I get the feeling it leans more towards the negative. If history is any indicator then this game will be neigh unplayable for at least the first day or two as Bethesda will undoubtedly not have enough servers to handle everything and will come out with the standard, “Wow! We were not expecting the overwhelming response to Fallout 76, that’s our bad. We’re working to get more servers online so that you can experience…blah, blah, blah”. War never changes, but paradigms shift, and it looks like online multiplayer with a persistent games as a service delivery model is here to stay. The future was written long ago, we’re now living it.
Hitman 2 (PC/PS4/Xbox One)
The latest murder-sim in the long running murder-sim franchise Hitman is releasing tomorrow, unless you’re rich and/or stupid and bought the Gold Edition (in which case the game has been out since last week). Take on the role of Agent 47 once again, as you dress up in the most ridiculous outfits imaginable and then strangle some poor sap behind a bush or stab them in the heart with an ice pick, or whatever.
Underworld Ascendant (PC) – Releases Nov. 15th
Starting life as a Kickstarter project, this first person dungeon crawler has some very strong Elder Scrolls vibes to it, with graphics that look just slightly better than Oblivion. In Underworld Ascendant, the latest in the Underworld franchise (which itself is spun off of Ultima), you play as The Avatar once more and must make your way through the underworld, slaying monsters and finding loot. The game looks really generic, but that might just be because of the low budget. However, despite the graphical flaws, the game boasts a pretty great team behind its development including original Underworld designer Paul Neurath heading the project, and both original Underworld writer Austin Grossman original producer Warren Spector in what Wikipedia describes as an advisory role.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus (PC) – Releases Nov. 15th
This will be the, I think, sixth Warhammer game to out this year; and you thought they released a lot of Asssassin’s Creed games! What sets this one apart from the others? Not much. It’s a tactical grid based combat game in which you play as a group called The Adeptus Mechanicus, exploring tombs and looking for relics or something. The Necrons look like they will make an appearance, so that’s kind of cool.
Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu!/Eevee! and Pokeball Plus Controller (Switch) – Releases Nov. 16th
Pokemon is finally hitting the Switch in what I expect will be a major presence under the Xmas tree this year for many young boys and girls, and probably more than a few adults in the 25-35 age range. Be warned, adult Pokemon fans, because while this game is considered a sort of remake of Pokemon Yellow, it is supposed to be squarely aimed at children and people who have never played a Pokemon game before. If you’re going into this expecting a hardcore Pokemon RPG then you may be disappointed. The game also features a way for you to interact with the mobile game Pokemon Go by bringing your little pocket monsters onto the TV set to allow you to interact with them. Finally, Nintendo is also releasing a brand new controller that is specifically used with this new game called the Pokeball Plus Controller. Shaped like the iconic Pokeballs we all know and love, this controller is held in one hand and comes with buttons and a little thumbstick to move around with, and you mime throwing it at your TV in order to catch new Pokemon. It looks stupid, but is not nearly as bad an idea as using bongos to control your character in Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.
Mega64 catch some Pokemon:
Ports and Re-releases:
Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PS4/Xbox One) – Following in the footsteps of the Crash N.Sane Trilogy, Activision partnered with developer Toys For Bob to release a remastered collection of the first three Spryo games, all originally released for the PlayStation and created by Insomniac. I had the pleasure of attending a panel for this game at Comic-Con and the Toys For Bob crew were really enthusiastic about the project and consulted with the original team on a regular basis to ensure they got the feel and tone of the games right. All of the character voices were re-recorded (with Tom Kenny coming back to reprise his role as Spyro), but for music nerds like me it was a thrill to hear that Stewart Copeland’s original score would remain in the game, allowing you to choose between his music and the music of new composer Stephan Vankov. I’m not sure if this was just some advertising on his part, but Copeland said that he prefers the new soundtrack over his because they were able to do stuff with the music now that they wanted to originally but did not have the chance to, including having the style and tempo change on the fly based on what was going on in the game. Get your purple dragon wings out of the closet, sit down in front of the TV, and re-live your younger days!
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection (Switch) – Already being hailed by Eurogamer as the “…new standard for compliations”, this pre-Neo Geo collection of SNK games looks to be downright marvelous! I was lucky enough to get a copy of the special edition early, and while I haven’t played it, the extras were fantastic, including a full color art book that, from what I hear, only scratches the surface of what you can expect to see on the cartridge. Featuring 13 games, with more coming as free DLC, this could be the start of a new “games as a service” delivery system of classic titles. For the curious, here is what you’ll get out of the box: Alpha Mission, Athena, Crystalis, Guerrilla War, Ikari Warriors, Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road, Ikari III: The Rescue, Iron Tank, P.O.W., Prehistoric Isle, Psycho Soldier, Street Smart, TNKIII and Vanguard. Video game comedy gods Mega64 even released a commercial for the game:
Civilization VI (Switch) – Releases Nov. 16th. Aspiring world leaders can now take their conquests on the go when Civilization VI hits the Switch on November 16th. I don’t really have much to add to this marketing department, focus tested tagline. It’s Civ, you know it, you love it, why do I need to keep talking about it, buy the damn thing!
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The Forge (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Did you get Shadow of the Tomb Raider back in September and are looking to extend your adventure? Good news! There’s DLC coming out for it; the first of seven! This entry is called The Forge and it promises new tombs to raid, new challenges to complete, and new side missions to take on and advance the game’s story. Was this game any good? I’ll probably find out in like four years when I buy it for ten bucks.
Battlefield V Deluxe Edition (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 16th, Standard edition out on Nov. 20th. As with Hitman 2, those of you who want to spend extra dough can pick up Battlefield V on Friday and then not play it until Saturday because you have work all night because they really need that report done for the late night conference call with Jensen and the other executives who are hoping you can pull off a Q4 miracle and lift profits by half a percentage point. You don’t have time for games, you know what you need? Cocaine, and lots of it. Just buy up a kilo and snort away, it’ll keep you up all night and really clear your mind. GOD! I FUCKING LOVE THIS SONG! “Start me up! Ohh, baby never stop. Berr, nee, neer, neer! You make a grown man cry-e-yai!” Tight tight tight tight tight tight tight tight tight tight tight tight. Okay, I’m ready, woo! Let’s do this, give me that laptop, I’ve got some good shit flowing out of my fingers and it needs to get down on the page.
Chimparty (PS4) – This party game with chimps is what was created after a late night coke party.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Two classic Valve titles, more mention of Warren Spector, and a forgotten Data East gem make up this week’s history lesson; read on!
Left 4 Dead (PC/Xbox 360) – Released Nov. 18th, 2008: Wiki Link
It takes a pretty good video game company to seemingly re-invent and improve on a genre, twice, but Valve was up to the task. They took the online, team based shooter genre to the next level by switching it up so that you were no longer fighting against another group of people, but instead a seemingly endless horde of evil controlled by the computer. Taking elements of tower defense, Left 4 Dead was a smash with both critics and players for its fresh take on co-op as well as its cinematic presentation. However, it soon became apparent that the game was just a bit too short and repetitive, and a sequel was created quickly and released the following year, which eventually folded the entire first game and all of its content under one place. Several imitators were spawned, including Killing Floor and Evolve (which featured many of the L4D staff), and was most likely the inspiration for the Call of Duty zombie mode. You can still play Left 4 Dead and its sequel as the community for those games hasn’t died down much in the ensuing ten years, and it’s still so much damn fun.
Half-Life (PC) – Released Nov. 19th, 1998: Wiki Link
It’s not very often that a game comes out and changes the way we think about and play video games, but in 1998, Valve released the FPS game that would revolutionize the genre and help shape video game narrative and structure to this day, Half-Life. Created by Gabe Newell and his team, the game was an ambitious undertaking for a first time developer, and because of this they were rejected several times. Eventually Sierra, who was looking to move past point and click adventure games, was hoping to break into the 3D games space. They wanted Newell and his team to have the game ready by November 1997 in order to compete with Quake II, but the team at Valve were not confident in the game at that point and decided to work on it for another year. What came out was astounding, while most FPS game up to that point and been run and gun affairs with almost no story and only the most basic of puzzle solving (such as door keys in Doom) Half-Life, possibly taking inspiration from Warren Spector’s System Shock and Underworld, was a slow, methodical, story-driven action game that didn’t have cut scenes, but instead featured scripted sequences that happened within the game. For those of us who play games now, the idea of a scripted sequence is par for the course, but in 1998, when all of your FPS games were just you running down corridors and killing monsters, getting to the exit, and doing it again, this was revolutionary. Suddenly you could no longer just run around and blast away monsters willy nilly, you had to think about how you killed them, what your strategy was to stay alive, and possibly how you could get by them without getting caught, ideas also explored in Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid, released only one month prior. After the success of Half-Life, like Left 4 Dead, many other games came out that used this style including Warren Spector’s Deus Ex, and Ken Levine’s System Shock 2 and of course Bioshock. Half-Life not only spawned imitators, but through modding it gave the gaming world two of the biggest online multiplayer team shooters in Counter Strike and Team Fortress. Valve and Half-Life changed the gaming landscape forever, and is probably one of the leading reasons why there is mainstream PC gaming. Think about all of the AAA titles that come out now, you’d be hard pressed to find a non-exclusive that is not also released on the PC. Now, if we could just get Half-Life 3…
Here’s a video of Mega64 and Gabe Newell:
Cobra Command (NES) – Released Nov. 1988: Wiki Link
I can’t say that Cobra Command is a classic, in fact until only a few weeks ago I had never even heard of it. That’s too bad, because if I had picked this up in 1988 I would have been stoked, it’s a really fun game! In Cobra Command, you fly your helicopter in a side scrolling view, shooting enemies and rescuing your comrades. The game is a bit of a cross between several older games, including Choplifter, Defender and Chopper Command. If you come across this in a second hand store be sure to pick it up, I think you’ll dig it. If only we could get some kind of Data East compilation…
I might be tired, but I had the best time at Mega64’s Gamedays celebration this past weekend. See you next week!