VIDEO GAME BUYERS’ GUIDE
Check out 8 games to look for in 2008, and the latest word on comic book-based games in development
By the Wizard Staff
Posted November 27, 2007 5:35 PM
EIGHT FOR ’08
1. LOST (Ubisoft)
Ubisoft opens the hatch on TV’s mythology-filled, secret-keeping series with an immersive gaming experience, allowing faithful fans to delve deeper into the mysterious island and the events surrounding the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. Playing as a non-cast, amnesia-stricken character, secret-solving gamers embark on a journey that includes canon character interactions—complete with spot-on likenesses of the actors—playable flashbacks, island exploration and, of course, puzzle-solving. In keeping with the show’s more-questions-less-answers style, players are tasked with unraveling the events of their own twisted past in addition to unlocking the mysteries of the island. Don’t forget to ask Sawyer for a gun…
•Before panic sets in, know that this game is “official” and being produced in collaboration with the show’s creative team, including co-creators Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams.
•Prepare to run like hell as the island’s most mysterious inhabitant—the shape-shifting smoke monster—will be popping in and out of your island-traversing missions. Additionally, various animal and human threats will attempt to hinder your quest for answers.
•Exploration plays a big part in the overall quest; players will travel to never-before-seen locations, as well as fan favorites like the Black Rock (careful with that dynamite), the Swan, Flame and Medical hatches, and the castaway-cluttered beach.
•Especially cool are the missions that have you cooperatively teaming with the show’s characters. Map- and computer-related puzzles will have you enlisting the help of tech-savvy Sayid, while boar-hunting missions will find you chasing down Locke for his tracking and trapping assistance. No word yet on a Mr. Ecko Jesus stick-carving mini-game, but we’ve got our fingers crossed.
•The gameplay offers a nice mix of action, adventure, puzzle-solving and even photo-taking as players chronicle the island’s bizarre happenings on film.
Lost crashes onto Xbox 360s, PS3s and PCs just in time for the show’s winter return in late January 2008.
2. GRAND THEFT AUTO IV
2008’s most anticipated game doesn’t star Master Chief, Madden or Solid Snake; nope, next year’s most popular protagonist will be Niko Bellic, a scruffy-around-the-edges Eastern European thug, and star of Rockstar Games’ next city-sprawling epic, Grand Theft Auto IV. The hero—or antihero in this case—might be a fresh face, but the GTA formula will be instantly familiar to any gamer who’s jacked a car, slapped a hooker or maybe even popped a few rounds into a police officer, in GTA’s gritty, over-the-top world.
GTA IV returns to Liberty City—GTA III’s stomping grounds—but the metropolis’ next-gen makeover can’t be compared to its former, blocky self. Liberty City is now a near-perfect replica of New York City, tweaked with GTA style; the MetLife building now reads GetaLife, and Times Square is now Star Junction. Beyond the realistic architecture, Liberty City’s most obvious upgrade is its residents; unbelievably lifelike citizens walk the streets, using cell phones, eating, reading, living their lives, unaware of the wanton death and destruction you’ll soon be unleashing. Speaking of unbridled vigilante violence, you’ll be able to run over pedestrians, initiate street shoot-outs and roll disrespectin’ hoodlums in Liberty City’s underbelly on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 early in early 2008. But for those seeking the complete GTA IV experience, keep in mind, Microsoft paid a bajillion dollars to secure exclusive downloadable content on the 360.
3. RESIDENT EVIL 5
(Capcom, Xbox 360, PS3, winter ’08)
The can’t-wait-for-it follow-up to the genre-shaping Resident Evil 4 sheds new light on the zombie-infested franchise, literally. Set in an arid, sun-soaked village, RE5 brings the scares out into the open with a new breed of intelligent undead terror that’ll have you cowering in the corner and staying up late to fight your way through this game.
4. THE BOURNE CONSPIRACY
(Vivendi Games, Xbox 360, PS3, winter ’08)
While this title isn’t specifically based on a “Bourne” film, the developers have smartly adopted the swiftly paced style and globetrotting allure of the movies. Jason Bourne’s frenetic fighting style also translates, allowing gamers to beat the snot out of adversaries with rapid-fire hand-to-hand combat.
5. METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS
(Konami, PS3, winter ’08)
After watching old man Solid Snake run around in pulse-quickening cinematic trailers for the past two years, we finally get to jump into the surreal battle-beaten world. Polished production values, amazing boss battles and immersive stealth/action make this trilogy-topper the reason to own a PS3.
6. INDIANA JONES
(LucasArts, Xbox 360, PS3, winter ’08)
Utilizing new, advanced physics and AI technology, LucasArts is promising that Indy’s next video game outing will change the face of gaming. But who cares about all that? We were sold as soon as we saw Indy duking it out with a henchman atop a racing trolley car. Expect this game to have all the fun and fisticuffs of the films.
(Disney Interactive, Xbox 360, PS3, winter ’08)
Big guns, rampaging raptors and enemy-engineered super-soldiers; what more could you ask for? How about expansive, lush “Jurassic Park”-like environments, and a defensive gameplay mechanic that turns your enemies into dino bait. If you’re an old school fan of the Turok series, wait until you see it on a next-gen system.
8. STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED
(LucasArts, Xbox 360, PS3, winter ’08)
Force powers finally reap the rewards of next-gen hardware, allowing gamepad Jedi to harness the mystical magic like never before. Wielding the lightsaber of Darth Vader’s Jedi-hunting secret apprentice, gamers will also learn the secrets of a brand-new chapter in the sci-fi saga.
COSTUMES ON CONSOLES
After successful sales of Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, expect the cape-and-cowl crowd to continue landing on our consoles. Details are scarce, but you can bet your utility belt that publishers are busy prepping these superpowered film- and comic book-based titles.
Ubisoft—who successfully brought “King Kong” to consoles—will tackle NBC’s precious property. A reported close collaboration with “Heroes” mastermind Tim Kring is a good sign.
While the buzz-generating flick steals the spotlight, Sega quietly toils in its secret underground lair on the game based on the blockbuster-to-be. Expect high-flying jetpack gameplay.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Edge of Reality is rumored to be working on this tie-in to next summer’s Hulk film. The bad news: They didn’t develop last year’s awesomely mindless Ultimate Destruction game. The good news: Uh…well…they did the Over the Hedge game?
HELLBOY: SCIENCE OF EVIL
Hellboy crushes consoles with this super-destructive game. It’s all about brute and brawn as you destroy everything in your path, from breakable props to gun-toting henchmen.
THE DARK KNIGHT
The Caped Crusader got his box office groove back, but fans are still waiting for a Bat-worthy game. That could change as Pandemic Studios (Mercenaries) is rumored to be handling the new Dark Knight project.
The one I'm looking forward to the most is, of course, Grand Theft Auto IV. The only problem is, it's only being released on Xbox360 and PS3 at this stage. Hell, ALL the titles reviewed are all either being released on the Xbox360 OR the PS3! Which alienates those people who don't actually have the coin to splash out on these next gen consoles.
Blast it. Don't tell me I've got to purchase myself a PS3 just to enable me to buy even MORE expensive games, get a Blu-Ray DVD player that I DON'T want, and allow me to play GTAIV. Booooo.