Coming Soon! 11/12/2012 – isn

So, did you guys vote or did you just stay at home playing Halo 4? One will determine the fate of our country for the next four years while the other the fate of the universe. From that perspective the choice seems rather simple. But enough about that! Onwards to the industry’s current juggernaut. After that, get ready for a full on console launch come this Sunday. Too bad you won’t see any of those games here. I’m saving those for a special Coming Soon this Friday.

Remember. Release dates are quite literally made at the whims of the publisher. The following are subject to change without any warning.

Releases To Watch For This Week

Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Xbox 360, PS3)

Tuesday November 13, 2012

By now, I should just be able to tell you that another Call of Duty is coming out, and everybody knows exactly what to expect. But this year, I might actually have to spend some time telling you about some of the new aspects for once.

First up, Call of Duty: Black Ops II doesn’t take place in the past or the present time. It takes place in a near future. Even though the Modern Warfare series gave you quite a selection of weapons based on their real life counterparts, Black Ops II won’t have that same restriction and can go into a more fantastic direction. Just don’t expect any laser weapons or anything that sci-fi though. Black Ops II doesn’t take place in Star Trek era or anything that far-off. Instead it’ll be dealing more with robots and drones, a future we can sort of see coming given how much they’re used on the battlefield these days.

Past COD games present an action filled, very linear story. Nothing you do has any bearing on the outcome of this story. Black Ops II changes that paradigm by giving you the option to actually fail certain missions. Instead of forcing you to restart at some checkpoint, the story moves on and changes based on missions you succeeded or failed in. If that isn’t enough, Black Ops II also has optional missions.

Every so often you’ll be offered an optional side mission, called a Strike Force Mission, where you take control of a group of elite soldiers on a mission. In these missions, you have the ability to jump from any soldier in the group or even any of their robotic equipment like drones or land based quadruped tanks called CLAW. If that isn’t enough of a shift, an Overwatch is always assigned to these soldiers, one which you can switch to and watch the entire mission take place from above the battlefield. You can even assign commands to individual units from here, so in theory you never have to take control of any unit on the field the entire mission. In other words, Call of Duty has invaded the realm of Real Time Strategy games.

Maybe you don’t play Call of Duty games for the campaign mode, given how if you’ve played one COD campaign you’ve played them all, even the multiplayer has changes that will absolutely change how you play. Previous CODs forces you into a template where you pick a main weapon and its attachments, a side arm and its attachments, a grenade type, an equipment, and three perks. Black Ops II replaces that template with an open, 10 point system. Everything I just listed is worth one point. So long as you don’t go over 10 points, you are allowed to customize your player anyway you want. You can bring 10 main weapons into battle if you want, have fun getting that shotgun out in the heat of battle though, or load up on perks and a sniper rifle to make you the ultimate sniper or something.

Treyarch, the developers behind Black Ops II, worry that the multiplayer aspect has gotten too hardcore and scares off new players. To remedy this, they’ve implemented Combat Training mode. Here new players get to play in team based modes and objective based modes against real players mixed in with bots. Only players below level 10 are allowed to play in this mode. Higher level players can play the mode but not get any experience points for it, the devs reason that this would be a great way for players to practice their tactics and strategies for specific modes.

If I were to name Call of Duty subtitles after the “improvements” they bring to the series, they would go something like this. Call of Duty: Perks! (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare), Call of Duty 3: Zombies (Call of Duty: World at War), Call of Duty 4: More Killstreaks (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2), Call of Duty 4: Cash! (Call of Duty: Black Ops), Call of Duty 4: Killstreaks For Everybody! (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3). Despite the fact that we’re basically on Call of Duty 9, it sounds to me that Black Ops II really should be called Call of Duty 5.

Honorable Mention

Scribblenauts Unlimited (3DS)

Tuesday November 13, 2012
Oh Maxwell. You and your chicken hat have teased us far too much to remain a mystery for too long. At least I think that’s the reasoning behind Scribblenauts Unlimited anyways.

Why? Why does Maxwell obsessively collect Starites? We finally get to see just why he collects this stuff in Unlimited. I always figure he does it to decorate his ceiling or something. Instead of going to individual, closed off levels, Maxwell gets to explore a fairly open world with the occasional self-contained level. In this world, he’ll meet various NPCs that doles out challenges for Maxwell and explore nooks and crannies for hidden items.

Unlimited will still be using the same Objectnaut engine of the previous Super Scribblenauts. Meaning the nouns you type in can be modified by adjectives. If you feel typing car would be too boring, try hipster car instead, and you’ll get a car wearing a beret and a scarf wrapped around it. Unlimited introduces the ability to attach objects to other objects. That Hipster can suddenly wield a jousting lance or something ready to lance the hell out of… whatever it is hipsters don’t like.

Like all the previous games, how much fun you get out of Unlimited depends entirely on your imagination. If you just can’t think of any good words to type in, then you’ll be stuck with a featureless ball for the entire game. Thankfully, the StreetPass funcion lets players share their solutions to various puzzles. If you just can’t figure out how to get that darn cat down from the tree other than to burn the tree down, wait for someone to StreetPass you “ladder.”

I’m tempted to suggest to you to wait for the Wii U version of this game. That one will Mario and Zelda characters as part of the vocabulary unlike this version. But if you don’t care about that and just want to see an angry, purple hamster wielding Katanas in your 3DS, I won’t stop you.

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (3DS)

Sunday November 18, 2012
Quick history lesson for you young’uns. Back in the 8-bit and 16-bit era, licensed games didn’t suck. In fact it describes some of the best, fondly remembered 2D platformers of its time. Ask an old fogey about DuckTales for the NES, Magical Quest for the Super NES, or Alladin (Geneis or Super NES version), and you can expect an outpouring of nostalgia-laden recollections and whining about how much licensed games suck these days. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse also has a special place in the hearts of most Genesis Owners, so the news of a sequel well over two decades after the first came out brought joy to old fogeys like yours truly.

As the title implies, this “sequel” blends the Epic Mickey universe with that of the 2D platforming of Castle of Illusion. Here Mickey has the power of paint and thinner, sans morality system, to erase or create various obstacles, which you pull of via the touch screen. Oddly enough, Power of Illusion also borrows a little something, something from Kingdom Hearts. Mickey’s adventure takes him through a swath of Disney properties like Alladin, Cinderella, and Peter Pan among others. Mickey will even meet various characters from those worlds as well. One particular character will actually help you by coming out and doing a number on enemies with his signature attack, the walking cane/pogo stick. If you don’t know whom I’m talking about, you need to get off my lawn!

Usually, the handheld spin-off gets the short end of the stick, but given the nostalgia factor in Power of Illusion and the resurgence in 2D Platforming, I can see this one being more popular and well received over its console counterpart.

Coming This Week

Tuesday November 13, 2012

Ben 10 Omniverse (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS)

And the Ben 10 train just keeps on rolling with a new cartoon series coming out soon of the same name. To herald its eventual release, we get treated to this incredibly generic Beat’em Up starring Ben 10 complete with his 10 transformations. For kids with friends, it has co-op.

Epic Mickey: The Power of Two (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)

I could’ve sworn the first Epic Mickey didn’t do all that well commercially and critically. I guess two million units sold still warrant a full on sequel complete with branching out to multiple platforms. Like before, Mickey still has his power of paint and thinner and is joined by his drop-in anytime co-op partner, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He has different skill sets from Mickey and is adept at dealing with mechanical foes. Voice acting has been implemented for everyone. Since everyone can talk, why not sing while we’re at it. The developers have billed the game as a musical comedy complete with musical numbers performed by just about everyone on-screen. Not much about the game has changed beyond this, and hopefully the various ills of the previous game like a bad camera and controls issue will be remedied this time around.

F1 Race Stars (Xbox 360, PS3)

So, nobody cares about your sport. What do you do? Based on this game, Formula 1 racing will hook you in while you’re young. Of course, Codemasters, the developers, will say something along the lines of “experimenting with a known formula” nonsense when talking about F1 Race Stars, but we all know what this kart racer really is. This is F1 racing indoctrinating our young with their weirdly shaped “cars” and their right turns through cartoon characters and green/red shell wannabe power-ups. Don’t fall for it folks! Don’t let your children fall under its heathen spells and get them NASCAR The Game: Inside Line that came out last week instead. On a side, totally unrelated note, I’ll be interviewing for an anchor position on Fox news tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Monster High: Skultimate Roller Maze (Wii, DS)

Now this maybe a first. Instead of kart racing game for whatever random license, we get a roller skating racing game. Do people even know what the hell roller skates are anymore?

The Hip-Hop Dance Experience (Xbox 360, Wii)

Do your kids make fun of your dancing what with your swing dancing and your Cabbage Patching and your Hokey Pokeys? If you answered yes to that question, we have a product just for you! Introducing The Hip-Hop Dance Experience! With our state of the art dancing game filled with 40 hipppity hop tracks, you too can bust a move with your kids at their local nightclub. Impress their friends as you do the Wobble or the Thinking Man. Master every track in this game and you will be the king of the dance floor. We accept Visa and Mastercard. No personal checks.

Victorious: Taking the Lead (Wii, DS)

Must we really make a video game about getting a part in a school play by playing a bunch of mini-games? We really didn’t need yet another game based on the Victorious Nickelodeon show, and yet that just seems to be the sad reality I seem to be living in now. I can really use a dimensional rift right about now.

Wonderbook: Book of Spells (PS3 Move)

Remember that awkward presentation at this year’s Sony’s E3 press conference where a couple of grown ass adults try to make augmented reality look marginally interesting by waggling about with the Move and a book that comes to life on the TV screen? Most people are still trying to forget that moment, but unfortunately for them, the actual “game” comes out this week. I suggest bashing your head against the nearest hard surface to force the memories to sink back into that mnemonic oblivion we all have in our heads.

Big Time Rush: Dance Party (Wii)

These boy bands just keeps cropping up don’t they? And because just about every kids show gets video games these days, we have here what essentially amounts to Just Dance: Big Time Rush. I just hope you don’t mind the mind bogglingly large selection of 16 songs to dance to. Hell I would’ve settled for… none!

Rabbids Rumble (3DS)

It looks like the tables have finally turned for these poor Rabbids. These guys started out by literally stealing an entire franchise from Rayman, but ever since Rayman found some new friends and is actually giving Mario some legitimate competition in the 2D Platforming space, the Rabbids have become less and less relevant. Neverthelesss, they continue their mini-game collection antics here and even have a strange, turn-based battle system you can play with other players. You can also collect new and rare Rabbids from StreetPassing in addition to just playing the 100 or so mini-games. Try not to feel bad for these guys. You have to admit. They’re sort of jerks.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified (Vita)

Have you noticed how we barely heard anything about this game ever since it was announced back at E3? Based on the various previews that actually managed to get some hands-on time, it doesn’t look good. Bad controls (given how it is effectively missing four buttons compared to a console controller), miniaturized multiplayer modes, no killcams, and the fact that it’s made by Nihilistic Software (As in the same guys behind Resistance: Burning Skies) does not bode well for Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, which could’ve been the reason for people to actually buy a Vita. Poor thing. It just can’t catch a break.

Compilations of the Week

Screw it! I’m officially making this a permanent section of Coming Soon!

Tuesday November 13, 2012

Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Trilogy (PS3)

Because Ubisoft is convinced that the millions of copies sold in the series isn’t good enough…

  • Assassin’s Creed 2
  • Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
  • Assassin’s Creed Revelations

Resistance Collection (PS3)

Wanna play the losing side of a war between mankind and aliens? Insomniac has three games just for you. On a side note, unlike most compilations this one comes packed with DLCs for the second and third iterations.

  • Resistance: Fall of Man
  • Resistance 2
  • Resistance 3

Late to the Party

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