With some big names shelved, 10 releases to watch for this fall
MORE MUSIC: Brütal Legend stars Jack Black as the voice of Eddie Riggs, a roadie who finds himself transported to a heavy-metal wonderland.
Splinter Cell: Conviction, BioShock 2, Heavy Rain — these are just some of the eagerly awaited titles that won't be coming to your video-game console this fall. Once overstocked with tantalizing morsels, the year's holiday-release schedule is looking relatively bare after numerous delays. Many publishers are holding back their most valuable properties till consumers have more money to blow — turns out video games aren't recession-proof after all.
There is a silver lining: gamers may have the time to savor this year's crop, instead of swarming like locusts from one new release to the next. Playing and appreciating what we have — what a concept! Here are 10 games that will be worth a look this fall.
Last year's Dead Space was a creepy, well-done adventure that nevertheless amounted to little more than a glorified rail shooter. A prequel, DEAD SPACE: EXTRACTION (Wii; September 29), drops the pretense: it is a rail shooter. Extraction also expands on the original's most noteworthy combat feature: "strategic dismemberment." In order to pacify the gruesome Necromorphs, you'll need to blast their limbs off with an array of industrial weaponry. As you use the Wii remote to aim, it won't be enough to hit your target — you'll also need to orient the blast zone horizontally or vertically for maximum impact. Removing fetch quests and offering newly stripped-down gameplay could be exactly what Dead Space needs to stay fresh.
With all the music games glutting the market, you'd be forgiven for ignoring anything that seems to be trying to cash in on the trend. But don't overlook BRÜTAL LEGEND (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3; October 13). A heavy-metal motif sets the stage for a comedic action-adventure game from Tim Schafer, one of the key minds behind the classic LucasArts adventure games The Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle — not to mention the recent cult favorite Psychonauts. Brütal Legend stars Jack Black as the voice of Eddie Riggs, a roadie who finds himself transported to a heavy-metal wonderland. Beat-'em-up gameplay shares time with witty dialogue and inspired art direction. As one of the few new intellectual properties hitting the market this fall, this release deserves your attention. As a showcase for such talents, it demands it.
Another new IP worth watching is Gearbox Software's BORDERLANDS (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows; October 20). Up to four players can team up in this hybrid first-person shooter and role-playing game that's set on a barren planet in deep space. All right, none of that sounds terribly original, and the game probably isn't. But Gearbox's résumé includes expansion packs for Half-Life and the somber Brothers in Arms series, so the outfit does have a reputation for quality. Besides, a single innovation per game is usually sufficient, and Borderlands seems to have one: its weapon-customization system allows you to mix and match components to create new firearms — with hundreds of thousands of possibilities, according to Gearbox's CEO. What else do you need?
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