Games Watch: PS3 and XBox 360, 2009

As I’ve mentioned numerous times already, I don’t own either an XBox 360 or a Playstation 3. Regardless, there are games coming this year for both systems that I would like to play. As in the previous post, all screenshots come from 1UP.com.

Street Fighter IV

System: PS3, XBox 360, Arcade
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
ESRB Rating: T (ages 13 and up)
Release Date: 02/17/09

Street Fighter IV is actually almost upon us! Had it not been for the Street Fighter series, many of the other fighting game franchises like Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, and etc., probably wouldn’t be what they are today. Street Fighter II is still considered one of, if not the best fighting game ever made, and it was released in 1992!

Street Fighter IV is the series’ first try at 3D, but only in terms of character models and environments; it will retain 2D styled gameplay. Those who’ve never played a Street Fighter might consider the decision to retain the series’ classic gameplay and not venture into a true third dimension a poor decision, but this also means there won’t be any growing pains in transitioning to 3D. One of the great things about Street Fighter is that it has always been a pretty easy series to pick up, play, and enjoy, with plenty to master for the truly hardcore.

In terms of “new” gameplay elements, Capcom has added a focus meter that, when full, allows you to execute devastating special moves that will be unblockable. Also, there are plenty of screenshots that deviate from the traditional 2D look, so I think it is possible the camera may move to cinematic angles when special moves are unleashed.

To sum it up, Street Fighter IV is going to be a fun, challenging brawler that will be perfectly approachable to vets and newcomers alike. I only wish they had kept the super-stylized, Okami-like art direction that was shown in the first trailer.

inFamous

System: PS3
Developer: Sucker Punch
Publisher: Sony
ESRB Rating: Pending
Release Date: 05/01/2009

Developed by the same studio that brought us the awesome Sly Cooper series, inFamous is more of a gritty superhero title. You play as Cole, a parkour who is caught in a huge explosion, and is mysteriously the only one to survive. When he awakens he finds he is able to manipulate electricity which allows him to shoot lightning bolts from his fingertips a la Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars. Furthermore, he finds his home, the broodingly named Empire City, has plunged into anarchy and chaos since the explosion, and others possessing superhuman powers have emerged and begin to wreak havoc.

Empire City will be a completely open-ended environment taking cues from the Grand Theft Auto series’ pioneering “sandbox” gameplay, but will be more similar to the PS2 Spider-Man games in that you will encounter crimes being committed and it is up to the player to stop the crimes or allow them to happen. Thus you will gain a reputation among the city’s inhabitants as either a hero, or (if not a villain) at least a dirty hero. Finally, just because Cole now possesses super human abilities doesn’t mean he will be invincible, so a stealth element will probably also be included. Really, what Sucker Punch is doing with inFamous is drawing elements from very popular titles and improving them.

I’m pretty sure this game will be a win with Sucker Punch at the helm. It will definitely have gorgeous visuals and the gameplay sounds compelling. Plus, with a track record as good (though some may call it kiddy) as Sly Cooper, Sucker Punch has shown they’re dedicated to delivering highly polished, fun games. This game could be the reason I buy a PS3.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

System: PS3, XBox 360, PC
Developer: Rocksteady
Publisher: Eidos
ESRB Rating: Pending
Release Date: Not announced yet, but hopefully summer or fall of this year.

You might think “Why are you looking forward to a Batman game? All the others have been crap!” While it is true that Batman’s video game career has definitely been a lost cause so far, I can’t help but get excited for Arkham Asylum. I read somewhere that it is going to be the darkest iteration of Batman in any media format (movies, comic books, whatever). The screenshots look downright frightening, and even classic enemies like the Joker appear extremely vicious. However, the biggest difference between this and previous Batman games lies in the fact this game is being developed independently of any movie releases, so the developers won’t need to rush the product to the shelves to correspond to a movie release. It also allows them to be creative in their approach to the Caped Crusader and make him, and his enemies, match their own vision instead of relying on the vision of a movie director who they’ll probably never even talk to.

It sounds like the whole game will take place on the island that is the home of the titular Arkham Asylum where the inmates have staged a coup and it is up to none other than Batman to put a stop to the anarchy. Obviously this means you’ll get to use cool Bat-gadgets and Bat-fists to quell all of Gotham’s lunatics, but it also means utilizing stealth to accomplish objectives and dispatch enemies before they know what is coming. I read an interview where one of the staff described it more as “predatorial” than stealth, so naturally that has me excited.

Of course, I can’t help but worry a bit due to Batman’s video game track record. But hopefully this will prove to everyone Batman can still learn new tricks after seventy years.

Some other PS3 and XBox 360 games I’m watching: Resident Evil 5, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Prototype, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Velvet Assassin, Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.

So what about the PSP or the PC? Well, simply put, I don’t have a gaming quality PC, nor do I want one. As for the PSP, there just haven’t been any games that have really piqued my interest outside of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, and, unless something really cool comes along, then I doubt I’ll ever have much interest in the system.

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