By Nelson Schneider - 09/02/12 at 02:51 PM CT
Welcome to another look into the near future. September is now upon us, and the Summer Game Drought is officially over, with a deluge of new releases. But is this the long awaited rainfall we’ve been awaiting, or is it a downpour of acidic pollution? I’m leaning toward the latter.
The FPS drought has finally ended with the multi-platform release of “Borderlands 2.” While I’m not terribly enthused about this game, a lot of people I regularly play with are. And I can understand why; from what little I played of the first game, it seems like the series has a lot more going for it than the typical FPS (it even pretends to be an RPG). I might pick it up on Steam when it’s down to $10.
The truly horrifying thing about the end of the Summer Game Drought is that the weeds in the metaphorical gaming garden – those horrible licensed games that are always there, no matter how hard we try to uproot them – have experienced a massive population boom. September is not only giving us currently-relevant licensed games based on the TV series “NCIS,” “Family Guy,” and “Wipeout,” the Halloween-themed movie “Hotel Transylvania,” and the evergreen “Disney Princesses,” but also the incredibly stale IPs of “Finding Nemo,” “Sherlock Holmes” (sans Robert Downey Junior), and… “Thundercats” (What is this, 1989?).
Sports fans are getting new annual releases in both hockey and soccer. So Canadian and European jocks are covered… but the Americans are screwed…
Unless those American jocks love the Kinect (and I know they do!). The Xbox 360 motion-sensor is home to a whopping FIVE exclusives this month: “NBA Baller Beats,” “Kinect Sports: Ultimate Collection,” “Harley Pasternak’s Hollywood Workout,” “Kinect Sesame Street TV,” and “Kinect Nat Geo TV.” So after the Xbox-loving jocks have finished working up a good sweat, they can cool-down and boost their intellects with some stimulating edutainment! I keed, I keed (no I don’t)! Maybe they’d prefer some karaoke instead.
Fighting games are experiencing something of a surge this month, with the multi-platform releases of “Tekken Tag Tournament 2,” and “Dead or Alive 5,” as well as the Xbox 360 exclusive “Phantom Breaker.” I used to be a ‘Tekken’ fan, and always wondered what the big deal was with ‘Dead or Alive’ (and never before owned a console that had a ‘DoA’ title released for it), so I might be interested in these… if I wasn’t burned out on any fighting game franchise that doesn’t have ‘Smash Bros.’ in the title.
The only other big multi-platform releases this month look to be an F1 Racing game and a console compilation of all three ‘Angry Birds’ smartphone games. Seriously a compilation of three 99-cent (or free) games goes for $30-$40? This is what’s wrong with the game publishing biz.
This month’s exclusives look pretty depressing, with only two compilations among the stand-outs: “Kirby’s Dream Collection” and another disparate group of PSN games crammed onto a Blu-Ray disc (still waiting for that PixelJunk collection, Sony!). Steam is getting two uninspiring strategy releases in “Guns of Icarus Online” and a “Crossfire” stand-alone expansion to the long-in-the-tooth ‘Jagged Alliance’ franchise. However, Steam is also getting the only new release I’m really interested in: “Torchlight II.” Of course, this game should technically already be in my backlog, since it was promised to me as a belated birthday present. Handheld exclusives are dominated, as usual, by Nintendo, with three shovelware titles coming to the 3DS compared to Sony’s lone port of “LittleBigPlanet” for the Vita. Quality vs. Quantity? Oh yeah, this is a prime example (though neither handheld is worth owning yet).
The saddest thing about the break in the Summer Game Drought is that the only traditional RPG released to commemorate the occasion is yet another foul abomination from Nippon Ichi. It’s been hard enough being a fan of the genre this-gen with mainstream dudebros disparaging it, American developers trying to co-opt it into yet another shooter platform, and Japanese developers either doing nothing or migrating to handhelds. But garbage like “Mugen Souls” is NOT helping. Even the most ardent fans will get fed up with this swill sooner or later.
And so, despite a relatively huge number of releases compared to the preceding months, the Summer Game Drought continues (for me at least). And I’m totally okay with that! While I might pick-up “Borderlands 2” and “Dead or Alive 5” when they fall to bargain bin prices (or my backlog withers to nothing… which will never happen), I have no intention of doing so on their release dates. The ‘Kirby’ collection is tempting to me as a fan of the series… but then I already own all but one of the games contained therein… so why bother? The only game I will definitely be playing soon-ish is “Torchlight II.” I’ve never played an online multi-player (optional) hack ‘n slash before, so I’m eager to dive into this with my fellow MeltedJoystick staffers and members (and maybe drag a few of them away from their “Dungeon Defenders” addiction).
Backlog Embiggened: +1