Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

The Warp Whistle: October

Each month Ben blows on his magic warp whistle to take a look at the (immediate) future of video games. These were his findings.

Well, the summer is gone.  Temperatures are dropping, the leaves are turning, and you now have more of an excuse to stay inside and play video games!  The well-deserved Halo buzz is starting to die down, so let’s take a look at what’s hitting the shelves in October.  This month has more quality games than any other since I started writing this column.  You will find the latest Rock Band game absent from this list, because frankly I’m sick of reading about music games, and I just don’t care anymore.

Wii Party, October 3rd (Nintendo Wii):  13 party games, 70 mini modes, and a whole bunch of cute shit.  The Mario Party franchise was pretty successful, but now they are putting the focus on the Mii’s, which I actually like.  The Wii needed to find more ways to use the avatars, which are one of my favorite features of the console.  Just like before you roll the dice and your character walks the game board.  You land on various games and items that challenge your hand eye coordination, as well as your physical fitness.  If you own this system and are looking for a cheap night in with friends, you really can’t go wrong here.

At what point are video game graphics going to look better than real life?

Castlevania – Lords of Shadow, October 5th (Playstation 3, Xbox 360): The delicate phrasing surrounding this release calls LoS a “re-imagining” of the Castlevania franchise.  What this basically means is that the developers are banking on the nostalgia of the franchise without actually including any characters or storylines from any of the previous games.  One of the other titles being kicked around for this game was “God of War (With Vampires).”  Regardless, the game looks gorgeous.  Some of the hands-on testers have reported issues with the camera, which you cannot control, but if you like action-adventure games you might want to give this one a try.  The magic system seems innovative and the battles look impressive.  Just don’t expect a lot of tie-ins from the previous games in the series.

NBA 2K11, October 5th (Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Sony PSP, Xbox 360, Windows, Nintendo Wii): Well, after years Michael Jordan finally caved and allowed his likeness to be used in an official NBA licensed video game, and holy crap are they running with it.  2k Sports is hoping that this gives them the edge over a rapidly improving EA Sports product.  A lot of the game modes seem to feature Jordan.  You can take control of a rookie MJ and shape your own vision of his career.  And let me just say this right now, if you do pick up the game please play this game mode and demand a trade to the Milwaukee Bucks.  We need some retro-active help.  You can also take control of some of the legendary Bulls teams that he was a part of.  This, combined with 3D technology, will make this game intriguing for many.  I’m a sucker for a good basketball game so I’m sure I’ll pick it up.

Vampire Moon – Mystery of the Hidden Sun (Nintendo DS): No.

Not sure what's going on here, but it's probably fun as shit

NBA Jam, October 5th (Nintendo Wii): EA Sports is bringing back the arcade classic NBA Jam, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was excited.  Since I can’t imagine ever playing the Wii alone, I look forward to the day that my friends who own this dreadful console purchase this game.  There is over the top action, high flying dunks, and hopefully another Bill Clinton cameo.  It won an award for the best sports game at E3 so this seems like a no-brainer purchase for fans of the original and new gamers alike.  There’s a large variety of game modes and unlockables, but forget about all of that for a moment.  I want to go back to the original NBA Jam games.  Did you all play with computer assistance on or off?  Because if you played with it on no lead was ever safe, and half court shots fell like no one’s business.  But if you played with it off it seemed like every game was a blowout.  I’m interested to hear some thoughts in the comments section.  Also, Payton/Kemp 4 life!

Medal of Honor, October 12th (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Windows): One interesting thing about this game is that it is being developed by two studios.  EA is taking the single player mode, and DICE is handling multiplayer.  But that’s about the only interesting thing I can think of.  It’s a first person shooter, and you shoot people.  Some early previews praise its realism, and I’m sure it’s going to be a good game, but there is something you should be made aware of - it's not going to be as good as Call of Duty: Black Ops or Halo Reach.  Just don’t waste your money.  Next!

EA Sports MMA, October 19th (Playstation 3, Xbox 360): It took me a while, but I eventually came to grips with the fact that Mixed Martial Arts was here to stay.  And like most things that become culturally relevant, there will be a video game based on it.  It seems like EA Sports is really trying to hit one out of the park here, and if you are a fan of this sport you might be pretty stoked to hear about some of these features.  You can create a hype video for your custom fighter that you can send out across the internet to your friends, as well as compete for championship belts online.  You can also create your own pay-per-views using existing fighters, which a lot of UFC fans are sure to have fun with.  This is a pretty ambitious project, and if they nail the gameplay this franchise will probably be around for some time.  I don’t need this game, as I get to see Jeff give the intern the rear naked choke all the time.

I'm going to "gamble" on this game being great. Oh, jokes.

Fallout – New Vegas, October 19th (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Windows): Well, this is by far the must-buy game of the month.  I love post apocalyptic storylines.  They really tend to bring out everything I believe about humanity – mainly we’re all shitty.  Fallout 3 was an incredible gaming achievement, the kind of action-RPG that can change the way you think about a genre.  A lot of RPGs say that the choices you make impact the rest of the game, but nowhere was this more evident than in Fallout 3.  Sometimes you’d go looking for someone for help on a mission and then it would dawn on you: “maybe I shouldn’t have shot that guy in the face.”  Judging by early reaction and this kickass trailer Bethesda seems to have really nailed it.  They stuck with everything that made the predecessor great and brought us a fresh environment ripe for exploration and death.  Welcome back to the Wastelands, you’re going to be here for a while.

Girls Only, October 19th (Nintendo DS): Lauren was able to use her credentials as a girl to acquire info about this game and pass it along.  Apparently you can run an ice cream shop and take care of a kitten.  Finally young girls have some positive role models!

Fable III, October 26th (Xbox 360, Windows): The Fable franchise started with some lofty goals, and the results were less than spectacular.  The sequel was an improvement, and hopefully the third time is the charm.  It's an action RPG set in a fictional kingdom where you can behave as good or bad as you so choose.  Like most games of this genre there are melee skills and magic skills, you have to choose how heavily you want your character to slant in either direction.  For whatever reason it seems the developers have put a lot of thought and time into the marriage feature.  You can marry NPCs as well as other players online, but be warned that it does put all the wealth both of you have accumulated in one basket so to speak.  So yeah, brace yourself for some gold digging Fable tramps!  As if you didn’t have enough problems.  It finally seems that the game is cashing in on its promises to evolve its landscape based on your decisions.  Of course, only time will tell.  For some magic, swordplay, and baby mama drama…this one is probably at least worth a rental.

Geeking out, I am

Star Wars – The Force Unleashed 2 (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Windows): I feel the first Force Unleashed game was criminally underrated.  The force powers alone made the game fun to play.  And for fuck sake, you got to play the first level as Darth Vader.  Force choking Wookies, dangling them off of a cliff, and listening to them scream out for mercy before dropping them really never got old.  The storyline was solid and the boss fights were satisfying.  The sequel looks to build on that storyline, add different force powers, and give us a much needed Yoda cameo.  There are a lot of games worth purchasing in October, but this one will be near the top of my list.

Normally at this point I’d discuss a retro game, but I’m not going to do that this time.  Instead, feast your eyes on the top ten best multiplayer Halo kills of the month as determined by IGN.  Enjoy!

What do you plan on purchasing this month?  Who was your favorite team to be in the original NBA Jam games?  Let us know in the comments section.

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7 Responses »

  1. was always a suns fan back in the day because of barkley, gotta go with KJ and barkley.

    didnt even know you could turn off computer assistance...christ.

  2. 3D Castlevania games totally make me want to break out in hives. Although the involvement of Hideo Kojima does seem pretty promising. X-play recently gave it a 4 out of 5, whatever that is worth.

    I completely agree that this month starts and ends with Fallout but I am worried that I never get a chance to play it. I am currently trying to dig out of the avalanche of digital splendor that is Halo: Reach, StarCraft II, and Civilization 5. I have not seen the Sun in weeks now.

  3. I hated CPU assist. If you're getting whooped, you take it like a man.

    So what's the verdict with all these new Halo characters/special things? How much has it changed the gameplay? Is it better?

    I want to get Halo, but I also want to get COD. And I'm immersed in NCAA. Boo for choices! Boo for live in girlfriends! Boo I say!

  4. Halo: Reach is without a doubt the pinnacle of the franchise. Sure, you're not playing as Master Chief, which I will admit to you is a bit of a bummer, but playing as Noble 6 is a unique and fresh perspective.

    The Armor Abilities are pretty sweet, jet-packs = awesome, the ability to sprint can't be overlooked. and there is even a dome-like shield that replenishes your health.

    Lastly, there is just so much to it. The story is the most cohesive yet and totally connects, the Fire Fight mode has been expanded and polished to a very addictive diversion, there is a decent amount of armor and emblem customization (fear my Star-Unicorn), and the multi-player, although not as visceral as COD, is totally win-tastic.

    Absolute must buy!

    I am tempted to pick up NCAA. I still have never lived out my dream of owning a copy of NCAA and Madden from the same year, so that I could actually import a draft class.

  5. Medal of Honor... The big thing surrounding the latest entry in the MoE series isn't the split development, it's the fact that until yesterday you could play as the TALIBAN in multiplayer. This ended up being kind of a big deal. Early last month, the commanding general of the Army and Air Force Exchange Services decided to prohibit sale of the game in any on-base Gamestop location. Worldwide.

    That said, the split development is kind of a big deal. DICE is probably best known for their work on the Battlefield series, having most recently developed Bad Company 2, a game whose multiplayer was highly praised. I fucking hated it, but I prefer my shooters more arcade-y than tactical.

    But it's a military shooter with a strong brand behind it. Probably going to do fairly well.

    NB Jam... Unless something has changed recently that I'm not aware of, there is no option to turn on or off CPU assist. The computer player is basically going to do whatever the hell it wants to do, regardless of how many times you call for a pass.

  6. I don't really want to dignify the Taliban controversy with written words, in all honesty. Just over-reactionary bullshit that I find boring. I find the split development more interesting.

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