By Jared Cornelius
As September comes to a close it’s a good time to look back at the metric ton of triple A games we got this month Destiny, Disney Infinity, and Hyrule Warriors just to name a few. That’s not even taking into account the smaller titles that got released like The Long Dark, Shadow Run: Dragonfall Director’s Cut and The Waste Land. September is one of my favorite times of year for a number of reasons, and the ending of the summer games drought is always one of them. Now we switch from the doldrums of having little to play to having too many games to play. We’re adding to the pile in what is bound to be another memorable week of releases with a brand new AAA franchise leading the way.
First off this month we take a scenic trip to Middle Earth, more specifically the bad section of town with Warner Bros Game’s Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The third person action adventure game takes place between The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings and places you in the role of Talion, a ranger charged with watching over Mordor. After his family is murdered, Talion is sacrificed and possessed by a Wraith granting him a resurrection and a chance for the ranger to head into Mordor and cut a swath of vengeance against Sauron and his minions.
Shadow of Mordor is somewhere between Assassin’s Creed and the Arkham series of games in terms of gameplay and features a sprawling Middle Earth to explore, Arkham style combat, and most impressively it’s nemesis system. Players will do battle with unique Urik’s (Orc) who’ll grow and evolve based on their encounters with you, not only that but they’ll do battle with each other for control of territory, leaving you free to spread discontent through the different tribes by pitting them against one another. Shadow of Mordor also features light role playing game elements with upgradable ranger and wraith based skill trees. Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor was released Tuesday on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC with last generation versions hitting later this year.
It’s time again to get your friends together and beat the crap out of each other with Nintendo branded characters in Super Smash Bros. The up to four player 2D fighting game is brandishing the usual cast of characters like Mario and Link but are joined by the likes of classic NES mainstays like Mega Man and Pac Man this time around. Nintendo didn’t seem to bother messing with the fighting classic in terms of mechanics, bid did add enhanced online play, a ton of new stages, new characters, mini-games, and a unique smash city mode that’s only on the 3/2DS version of the game. Nintendo’s beloved brawler will also feature connectivity with its Wii U big brother upon release and be able to act as a controller on the home console version. Super Smash Bros. is available Friday on Nintendo 3/2DS.
Microsoft’s premiere racing game returns to the Xbox One with Forza Horizon 2. The arcade racing series first made waves back on the Xbox 360 in 2005 and for many became the driving game of choice overtaking mindshare of Sony’s popular Gran Turismo franchise. While the series swings back and forth between hardcore driving sim and arcade racer, Horizons is the latter with a light hearted Top Gear feel. This year’s version takes placed in during the fictitious “Horizon Racing Festival” in an open world European countryside. The huge next generation countryside is purportedly filled with dynamic weather effects, day and night cycles along with secret trails and back roads to explore. Microsoft seemingly have taken a page out of EA’s book and made the title a bit like Burnout Paradise with the obvious races as well as stunt events, jumps, skill driving, and hidden treasures. Horizon is also boasting over 200 cars with the series trademark customization, Microsoft has also dialed back their aggressive free to play mechanics and downloadable content strategies possibly making this the first must own for title for Xbox One! Forza Horizon 2 released Tuesday for Xbox One.
In what’s become an annual tradition for Activision their super popular, “Toys-To-Life” franchise returns with Skylanders Trap Team. Skylanders consist of various magical based creatures from the titular Skylands who do battle with the evil Kaos for control of the world’s magic. The series defining hook is the real life figures used to play the game. Like Disney Infinity, players put a figure onto the USB portal which reads a chip in the figure, inserting them into the game. This versions gimmick involves capturing the games various boss characters in “Trap Crystals” that let players use those bosses as in-game playable characters. The isometric hack and slash series isn’t a graphical show piece and plays a bit like babies first Diablo, but I’ve found the series great to play with kids or less skilled gamers. Beware though as Activision’s been getting increasingly insidious about the additional real life toys used to unlock content, and will now be selling special collector’s edition figures, mini pet characters, and the aforementioned Trap Crystals to go along with the regular figures. Skylanders Trap Team is available on everything except PlayStation Vita on Sunday.
Seems like we’ve been seeing a lot of them lately so how about another anime fighting game? Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is the sequel to the popular role playing/fighting game from publisher Atlus. With another crazy Japanese story that I’m not going to bother summarizing because it looks incomprehensible, Ultimax picks up where the last game left off and features eight new characters, with story, survival, and online play. There’s also a new shadow character mode that changes some fighters mechanics for hardcore players. The game was also developed by 2D fighting studio Arc System Works makers of the BlazBlue and Guilty Gear series, hell they made Arcana Heart Love MAX!!!!! and that just came out last week! Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a strange name and released Tuesday on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
In modern day rarities we have a PC game getting a boxed copy release with Inxile Entertainment’s Wasteland 2. The original Wasteland was the inspiration for the Fallout series back in the 90’s and after a successful Kickstarter the franchise was revived for a modern day audience. The isometric strategy game offers some of the most robust levels of customization in recent memory with players being able to micromanage more than just their team. Wasteland 2 offers outside the box solutions to problems, player customization, and an interesting post apocalypse story. Wasteland 2 is currently available on Steam and the boxed copy released Tuesday.
There you have it another week of amazing games. Shadow of Mordor is in first place this week, but I’m also really interested to play Forza Horizon 2 as my Xbox One has sat alone and empty since Super Time Force. Super Smash Bros. on the 3/2DS is sure to be a huge hit and will no doubt cause a spike in violence in college dorm rooms everywhere. That’s it for this week, you can always find me on Twitter @John_Layrngitis where I’m drunkenly reminiscing about Philadelphia. You can also check out my regular monthly column, Typing on The Dead: Bleeding Cool’s Walking Dead recap. Until next time, Stay Gold!
Jared Cornelius is some guy from New Jersey’s coast who’s getting increasingly concerned about Toys-To-Life as a genre. If you’d like to take bets on how long before Activision runs it into the ground, contact me @John_Laryngitis on Twitter.