One more month of summer left. Take a moment to kick your feet up with one of these new titles before vacation season is over
No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise [PS3] - August 16th
After a slow July in game releases, August marks the beginning of the rush of potential blockbusters for the latter half of 2011. Included in this month's releases are an HD remake of an underappreciated Wii game, the newest iteration of a certain annual sports franchise, and a long-awaited prequel to one of the greatest games of all time.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution [PC, PS3, X360] - August 23rd
To kick off this month's list, we revisit one of the best Wii games that no one played. The original No More Heroes came out for the Nintendo Wii in the US in January of 2008. No one heard it drop, but the majority of those who played it felt that they had enjoyed one of the best titles of the year. It was up for a number of awards across several publications by the end of 2008 citing its excellent story, art design, gameplay, and sense of humor.
Many believe that one of the reasons that the game did not sell well was the fact that its mature humor did not comfortably find a home on the Nintendo Wii, where more E-rated games are found than anything else. Consequently, No More Heroes never quite reached its target market. To test this theory, this excellent game is getting an HD makeover in the form of No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise for release on the PS3 this month.
It will support the Playstation Move, allowing it to play with a control scheme very similar to that of the original Wii version, albeit with the improved accuracy of the Move motion hardware. Otherwise, it will also support the standard PS3 wireless gamepad.
Tropico 4 [PC, X360] - August 30th
Here it is, ladies and gentlemen: the sequel that we've all been waiting for. And if you haven't been waiting for it, chances are you've been a deprived gamer.
If you weren't around when the original Deus Ex dropped for the PC and Mac back in 2000, you missed out. Combining first-person shooter mechanics with deep RPG elements, it might be considered the first "sandbox" FPS, in that the player had numerous options to overcome any situation. Consequently, it was highly regarded for its fantastic replayability. You could play it twice and have it essentially feel like two different games, and such mechanics paved the way for excellent future games like Crysis. Add to this a twisting and turning storyline that you helped craft with the choices you made while playing, and you had a game that was unlike anything before it.
Deus Ex is regarded by many to be one of the best games of all time. It won over 40 "Game of the Year" awards in 2000, along with a slew of other distinctions. In 2010, IGN spotted it at #4 on its list of the Top 25 Modern PC Games. In the same year, PC Gamer actually gave it the distinction of the Best PC Game of All Time, knocking off such juggernauts as the Half-Life franchise, Oblivion, Fallout, and Planescape: Torment.
Unfortunately, the game's 2003 sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War did not fare so well. While not a bad game by any means, it didn't approach the groundbreaking quality of its predecessor and was deemed a disappointement. The franchise has slept since.
This month, Deus Ex is back, this time in the form of a prequel to the first title. Deus Ex: Human Revolution hopes to return to the series' original form. Console players won't miss out this time, as it will be released simultaneously on the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.
The big question: Can it really live up to original? Early impressions seem to suggest that yes, it in fact can. PC Gamer UK scored the game at 94/100, and Official Xbox Magazine has awarded it with the coveted perfect 10/10 score. The rest of us get to make our own determinations soon enough.
Madden NFL 12 [PS2, PS3, PSP, X360, Wii, 3DS] - August 30th
For those that like their games a bit more light-hearted, the Tropico franchise might be up your alley. It's a contruction/management simulation with a heavy injection of humor.
You play the role of "El Presidente," ruling over a carribean island called Banana Republic from the 1950's Cold War era and onward. You could think of it as SimCity for dictators.
The first three games in the franchise have earned respectable marks from critics, averaging out at about an 8/10 across the board. Even so, the franchise has developed somewhat of a cult following, with players often offering higher regards.
The fourth game in the series comes out on both the PC and Xbox 360 at the end of the month.
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad [PC] - August 30th
A game that should require no introduction, EA Sports' popular Madden NFL franchise debuts its game covering the 2011-2012 NFL season at the end of the month on nearly every platform under the sun.
Gameplay is what it is for this franchise, and it's been the premier American football game for most of its existence. Each year, a handful of features are added. In this iteration, some of the new ones you'll find include onside kicks from standard kickoff formations, a new collision system for more authentic tackling, AI enhancements that allow for better reaction to plays, and distinctive quarterback throwing motions modeled after their real-life counterparts.
Local football fans might be excited to know that Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles was one of the two finalists to be on the cover of the game, but lost out in a final vote to Peyton Hillis of the Cleveland Browns by a vote of 66% to 34%. Maybe it's good that we don't have to worry about the Madden Curse, right?
If multiplayer FPS games are your thing, you can get your fix this month with Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad for the PC.
Named for the anti-Nazi resistance movement during World War II, the original Red Orchestra: Combined Arms game was a modification for Unreal Tournament 2004, and was winner of the Make Something Unreal contest in 2004. This led to the establishment of game studio Tripwire Interactive, and the release of the standalone game Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 in 2006.
This game is not for the faint of heart. The series sets itself apart from other multiplayer war FPS games with its emphasis on realism. There's no heads-up display. You don't get a crosshair sitting in the middle of the screen. You either aim from the hip or aim down the sights. If you aim down the sights, you'll need to compensate for breathing and natural sway from holding the gun, while aiming from the hip is only accurate at very close ranges. Other things that you'll need to take into account when firing are bullet drop and spin. It also matters where you get shot, as being shot in the leg will slow you down, and being shot in the hand will cause you to drop your weapon. And you'll need to keep track of your ammo either by memory, or by manually checking your magazine.
On August 30th, the sequel to the standalone game gets its release. We're to expect a new cover system with blind firing, collision detection, and new systems for statistics tracking and player development. There is no health regeneration and no health pack system; if you're wounded, you'll need to bandage your wounds to prevent further health loss. The game also includes tanks, which are meticulously recreated from real-life models. The tank game mechanic is said to rival or even surpass that of sole tank simulation games.
If you have a Windows PC and are looking for a solid multiplayer FPS that's far from same-old, look no further than Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad.
Make good use of your gaming time this month. Because after this, life gets busier, and so do the game releases. The remainder of 2011 is poised to throw numerous AAA games in our direction, and we'll keep you posted on which ones to keep a close eye on.