Friday, November 13, 2015

Video Game Season

The holidays have always been the busiest time of the year for gamers. What May-July is for Hollywood, November and December are the equivalent of for the video game industry. For decades, every major system has released right around Thanksgiving and every year the end of the calendar is so crammed with blockbuster titles that gamers have no choice but to seal themselves off from the world just to keep up. (How do you choose between Fallout 4 and Star Wars Battlefront? You don’t). It makes perfect sense because not only are there the big blowout sales, the Christmas wish lists and holiday shopping frenzy, it is also a time of year when people are beginning to spend more time indoors and children take extended breaks from school (good luck assigning over-break homework in a year with a Call of Duty and Halo).

Here is a brief overview of this year’s biggest titles. The library will soon have them in stock, so be sure to check in regularly!

Call of Duty Black Ops III (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360)

Call of Duty has become a bit like the Transformers film series. They aren’t the most critically lauded, and are often prone to accusations of having grown stale and repetitive, but nonetheless remain “box office” phenomenons, making a splash and raking in dough like very few other titles can. This year’s COD iteration, Black Ops III, takes place in a dystopian future and has players equipped with advanced and innovative gadgets and weaponry. The series signature multiplayer remains at the top of the class in online FPS (first-person shooters), the ever-popular “zombies” mode returns, and the campaign promises to be as much of a rollercoaster through a Michael Bay movie as ever.

Fallout 4 (PS4, Xbox One)

The Fallout series finally broke into mainstream gamer culture with 2008’s Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 promises to be everything its predecessor was and more. 2010’s Fallout New Vegas helped set the stage for the series advancement and now 4 has introduced the game’s post-apocalyptic world to the current generation of systems with rave reviews. The game takes place in a world destroyed by nuclear war and features role playing elements such as character building and equipment managing mixed with the high-octane action of first and third person shooters. Fallout 4 is said to be the kind of game worth owning an eighth-generation console for.

Star Wars Battlefront (PS4, Xbox One)

Even if you literally live under a rock, you have probably still been unable to escape from the Star Wars media blitz the last few months. If you didn’t know, there is a new Star Wars movie coming out and it’s going to be big. Really big. Star Wars Battlefront is a fast-paced, action-packed experience that is primarily a multiplayer vehicle both on and offline. The last “proper” Star Wars game (not Lego or pinball related) was 2009’s The Force Unleashed II, so Battlefront has ample room and opportunity to seize upon The Force Awakens hype.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4, Xbox One)

It wouldn’t be a year without an Assassin’s Creed game. Since the first game in 2007, there has been an Assassin’s Creed title every year (and sometimes there have even been more than one). Syndicate has performed remarkably well with critics and is sure to sell well enough to spawn another sequel next year. The series’ signature painstakingly replicated period-piece setting and even mix of combat, navigation, and platforming assures that the title will be a treat for newcomers and longtime fans alike. Assassin’s Creed  has nearly cornered the market on stealth-adventure games and shows no signs of letting up anytime soon.

Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

Sometimes it is hard being a Wii U owner and feeling a little left out from all of the hype surrounding third-party mega blockbusters on the other systems. (I say this as a diehard Nintendo loyalist). This year however, Wii U gamers can celebrate their own highly-anticipated exclusive, Xenoblade Chronicles X. Xenoblade Chronicles was a sleeper-hit on the original Wii, earning sensational reviews and a dedicated cult-following near the end of that console’s life. Chronicles X has been billed as a “spiritual successor” to the first game, so it is not entirely clear if it is a sequel or more of a remake but, in any case, X promises to “wow” in HD and offer something different and a little more mature for Wii U owners.

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (Wii U)

Mario is good for business. Look no further than the avalanche of games starring the Nintendo mascot, doing everything from golf and soccer to racing and partying, as proof. Tennis is just one of Mario’s many athletic outings but it has also been among the most popular and well-received of the Mario sports games dating back to the Nintendo 64. Ultra Smash will be the seventh Mario Tennis title and the first new one on a home-system since 2004’s Mario Power Tennis on the Gamecube (which was remade for motion controls on the Wii). Coming hot on the heels of the wildly popular Super Mario Maker, Ultra Smash help assures that Nintendo fanatics will have all of the rosy plumber that they need this holiday season.

The library’s video game collection is always growing and we strive to stay up to date with the most in demand titles. Check in regularly to see what has been added to the collection and be sure to ask about our monthly video game tournaments.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk