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Preview: Fall Gaming Lineup 2012 (Part 2)

Rob’s back once again to fill you in on some more of the big hitters of October and November.

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Preview: Fall Gaming Lineup 2012 (Part 2)

Imagine you’re a bartender and all the queueing patrons jostling for your attention are this year’s fall lineup of games. Sure, you can get to all of them eventually but that will take time so you’ve got to prioritise. So which one will you choose first? That sexy first person shooter with the big bazookas? Or the adventurous RPG that’s looks like she’s got a story to tell? That big old Brawler there looks like he’ll mess you up if you don’t pick him, but check out that quirky Platformer; looks like a bit of fun. These aren’t easy decisions, but don’t worry! I’m here to help you make up your mind with a look at some more of this Autumn’s biggest and best high profile releases. I know you’ll make the right decision…

007 Legends:
In 2011 developer Eurocom remastered it’s 2010 Wii game Goldeneye 007 for release on Xbox 360 and PS3. A re-imagining of the 1997 N64 classic Goldeneye, the upscaled version was dubbed Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. This year it’s successor hits shop shelves in the form of 007 Legends. Another first person shooter, once again featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond the game is comprised of 6 separate Bond films including Moonraker, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day and Goldfinger culminating in the upcoming Skyfall, tying them together into one overarching storyline.

Stealth is set to play a much greater role in this title than the last, with enemy AI being more suspicious and investigative than before. During the campaign players will frequently be put into circumstances that require a more subtle approach to overcome, though there’ll be plenty of opportunity for running-and-gunning if that’s what you’re into. As well as the returning smartphone, (now with new vision modes and binocular capabilities) the dart pen has made it’s way from Q Branch to Bond’s equipment roster. The pen utilises four different ammo types including distraction, shock and tranquilliser darts. Also a new wristwatch has been added that can fire a laser as well as map nearby enemy positions and reveal camera locations. Another noteworthy addition is the inclusion of an XP system which can be used to unlock and upgrade gadgets and weapons as well as Bond’s physical abilities. Each of the 6 main missions will again be broken up into stages, at least one of which will involve a drivable vehicle (per movie). A new free-form melee function has also been introduced allowing players to control punches with the analogue sticks.

Like the M16 Ops in 007: Reloaded there will be a similar challenge mode in this game which comprises of several succinct missions featuring assault, elimination, stealth and defence-based objectives. New to this mode is an option to undertake special missions for some of the single player campaign’s heros and villains. Once again competitive leaderboards are included to showcase your high scores. Finally multiplayer is available both online and offline with the ability to play 4 player split-screen if you so desire. It features several different game types such as Bomb Defuse, Escalation and Data Miner. Players can level up by earning XP and make use of the 00 Specialisation mode (which is similar to Call of Duty’s prestige system). Gadgets can also be equipped to enhance your abilities, such as the Fast Switch gadget which halves the time it takes to switch weapons and so on.

When I played last year’s Goldeneye remake, I was hoping for an espionage laced nostalgia-fest. That’s not what I got at all. However when my initial revulsion that they’d changed pretty much everything from the original had worn off I found myself quite enjoying the experience. Sure, it definitely wasn’t up to the standard of your more modern shooters and it did somewhat fly in the face of Bond lore but something about it kept me playing. I’m not really a huge multiplayer fan so the competitive modes and even the M16 Ops don’t really hold much intrigue for me but I’m quite keen to see what Eurocom are going to do with the new single player campaign. I will eventually be getting my hands on a copy of 007 Legends, but then I play a lot of games, and while it’ll probably be a bit of fun, if you’re in the market for a shooter I’d recommend holding out for some of the year’s more high profile releases such as Black Ops 2 or Halo 4.

007 Legends is released on 19th October 2012 for PS3 and Xbox 360, 2nd November for PC and December 4th for Wii U.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter:
Just as Activision has their bi-annual military shooter series of Modern Warfare and Black Ops, EA has their own in the form of Battlefield and Medal of Honor, the latter of which was rebooted by developer Danger Close in 2010. This year the sequel will be released and heralds itself as the most authentic shooter on the market. Warfighter continues the story of Tier 1 Operators, namely returning characters Mother and Preacher. Now using the stunning Frostbite 2 engine (which was utilised to great effect in last year’s Battlefield 3) the game employs the use of flashbacks of the soldier’s family and their lives back in the States to try and reveal the men behind the uniforms. Instead of focusing on one specific conflict the narrative is set around multiple real-world events such as hostage rescues in the Philippines and Somalian Pirate attacks.

The team behind Warfighter has worked closely with Special Operators from around to world to make sure that every aspect of the game is as realistic as possible, from the way it’s soldiers move to the method in which it’s various firearms are reloaded. The game features new and improved destructible environments as well as more drivable vehicles than before, such as the remotely operated MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System) robot. An enhanced breach mechanic has also been implemented, allowing the player to choose the most suitable method with which to burst into a room potentially full of dangerous insurgents. Recently a huge incentive to pre-order a copy of Warfighter has been introduced that gives players early access to the Battlefield 4 beta taking place in the Fall of 2013. No doubt this will drive veteran shooter fans into a gun toting, cash spending frenzy on Amazon.

Like most first person shooters the real bulk of the content centres around the competitive multiplayer. Unlike the last Medal of Honor where multiplayer duties was taken on separately by fellow EA developer DICE, both the single player and competitive modes in Warfighter have been developed in-house by Danger Close, giving the product a more cohesive feel. The player is given the option to fight for their own country and select a character class therein, which include Assault, Sniper, Demolitions, Point Man, Heavy Gunner and Spec Ops builds. This gives the game more of an international feel, inspiring patriotism and competition from participants around the globe, almost making it the FIFA of first person shooters. This mode will feature multiple special forces teams worldwide including the American Navy Seals, British SAS, Russian Spetznaz and many more, each with their own unique hardware and styles of combat. The new “fire team” mode has also been included, binding two players together in a mini squad, allowing them to always be aware of the other’s position and spawn on each other in battle provided that they’re out of the opposing team’s line of sight. If your partner is taken down and you avenge him in time he is revived instantly and can continue on fighting by your side.

Granted, Warfighter isn’t the most original project in the world but hardcore fans of military shooters still have a lot to be excited about in this impressive, gritty FPS. I did play through 2010′s Medal of Honor reboot and while I quite enjoyed the single player campaign and did even briefly indulge in some multiplayer action (mostly for it’s easier achievements) I don’t think it really compares with Call of Duty or Battlefield in terms of quality. That said, I’m sure I’ll be playing it at some point and now with the use of the Frostbite 2 engine as well as their new storytelling techniques it’s fully possible that Danger Close will have me eating my words, as well as some serious lead before too long.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter comes out on 26th October 2012 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC and will be available on the Wii U shortly thereafter.

Assassin’s Creed 3:
Many people seem to have overdosed on Ubisoft’s annual action adventure series as of late but never fear! Assassin’s Creed 3 has changed all of that with a fresh protagonist, a completely different setting and a whole slew of new and improved gameplay mechanics. Slated to be the biggest game of the franchise so far, it will wrap up the story of one of the series’ main characters, Desmond Miles. Set between 1753 and 1783 the game’s backdrop is the American Revolution, as seen through the eyes of new ancestor Connor, a warrior of both Native American and British decent. After being recruited by the Assassins Connor finds himself siding with the leaders of the Revolution and meeting with notable figures from history such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Centred around New England the game allows you to explore the cities of Boston and New York as well as scout the vast untamed frontier, which according to the developer is one and a half times the size of Rome in Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

With the implementation of the Anvil Next engine the game now features a dynamic weather system, which randomly generates different atmospheric conditions throughout the gameplay experience. This system also includes seasonal changes, showcasing beautiful sun-drenched landscapes in the summer and blanketing the region in a thick layer of snow in the winter. This shift in climate directly affects gameplay, slowing the player down as they wade through deep snowdrifts and allowing them to cross frozen rivers and lakes to reach areas that proved previously inaccessible. Another feature of the new engine is that it can now render up to two thousand troops engaged in battle onscreen at once which lends itself to recreating the devastating confrontations the Revolution comprised of. As well as the typical free-running traversal that the series in known for various other methods of movement have been included such as the ability to climb trees and cliffs, leap over & slide under obstacles and even cut through building interiors.

The combat system of Assassin’s Creed 3 has been completely redesigned with new features such as double counters, multiple takedowns and chain kills. For the first time ever it also includes a duel-wielding hero, capable of utilising a vast array of weaponry including a knife, tomahawk, flintlock pistol and a bow and arrow as well as the classic assassin’s blade. The rope dart has also been introduced, a long-ranged short spear connected to a rope that can impale enemies and be used to pull them over long distances. Along with a new economic system a variety of animals can now be hunted and their resources sold, the price of which is determined by the species of beast, the quality of the kill and the weapon used. Another huge aspect of the game centres around naval warfare with Connor taking command of his own vessel and engaging in huge open sea battles in the Caribbean. Multiplayer also makes it’s returns in AC3, similar to that of Brotherhood and Revelations, with new co-operative modes known as Wolf Pack and Domination respectively. These options allows 2-4 players to work together to eliminate NPCs during a time limit and capture and defend areas on a map against an opposing force.

Despite the somewhat lacklustre first entry in the franchise I’ve always been a great fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. I’ve played and relished every title that’s been released even if the last couple of instalments were somewhat convoluted and arguably just more of the same. Thankfully AC3 seems to be just the jolt in the arm that’s needed to reinvigorate the brand and put it back on top where it belongs. With a stunning new engine, new worlds and characters to explore and redesigned, more challenging combat mechanics, this is undoubtedly one of my most eagerly anticipated games of the year. Down with the redcoats!

Assassin’s Creed 3 is available in stores on 31st October 2012 for PS3 and Xbox 360, 23rd November for PC and 30th November for Wii U.

Halo 4:
After 2010′s Halo: Reach, developer Bungie stepped away from the Halo franchise for good and 343 Industries, a subsidiary of Microsoft took over production duties. Talk about big power armour to fill! Halo 4 is the first instalment in the new “Reclaimer Trilogy” and is set approximately 4 years after the events of Halo 3. It marks the return of long absent protagonist and all around badass, John-117 otherwise known as the Master Chief as well as Cortana, his sexy AI sidekick. Having been drifting through space aboard the derelict UNSC frigate Forward Unto Dawn, since the events of Halo 3, they find themselves in the vicinity of the mysterious Forerunner planet of Requiem. After awaking from cryogenic sleep Cortana and the Chief make their way down to the planet’s surface which is where the bulk of Halo 4′s narrative takes place. Focusing mainly on the relationship between the the two aforementioned main characters, the story will centre less on the archetypal first person shooting of the earlier games and instead rely more on mystery and exploration. Developers describe the game as being grander is scope and scale than it’s predecessors and say that it will reveal how humanity and the UNSC has recovered and adapted after the war with the Covenant came to a close.

As in previous games the campaign can be tackled solo or co-operatively with up to three other players. Unlike Halo 3′s co-op story mode where each player participated as a different character, in Halo 4 all players take on the role of multiple Master Chiefs. During the experience the Covenant make a welcome return but the plot’s main antagonists are a new threat known as the Promethians, a non-organic opposition of Forerunner origins. Promethians come in many forms ranging from Crawlers, aggressive quadrupeds that hunt their prey in packs like rabid dogs to Knights, fully weaponised, heavily armoured bi-pedal warriors that perceive and eliminate threats with pinpoint accuracy. Along with the new class of enemies comes a multitude of Forerunner weaponry featuring such ordinance as the Incineration Cannon, which fires several streams of explosive particles that detonate and spread on impact and the Scattershot, a close-range firearm that utilises schismatic dispersal of it’s ricocheting ammunition, as well as many more.

As well as the main campaign the game features a new story-driven co-operative mode entitled “Spartan Ops”. It effectively replaces the Firefight game mode featured in both Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach. New mission content for Spartan Ops will be delivered over the course of ten weeks to players for free. If successful however subsequent content packages will likely be paid for DLC. Halo 4′s multiplayer, now known as War Games has managed to evolve and modernise while still retaining it’s core identity. Taking place entirely on the UNSC Infinity, players can customise their own Spartan-IV super-solider in their look, weapon and armour abilities and various upgrades for personal loadouts. Your character can also advance through a ranking system as they gain XP for playing War Games, Spartan Ops, using Forge and by completing both Challenges and Commendations (similar to those found in Halo: Reach). The game’s Infinity multiplayer allows your progression to be carried over to multiple game modes so that you’re constantly levelling up and feeling a sense of achievement after every encounter.

I was a real latecomer to the Halo series and to be honest I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about to begin with. But the more I played, the more I enjoyed myself and in a sea of slick modern shooters, Halo’s arcadey gameplay and idiosyncratic control scheme was a refreshing change of pace. However despite it’s awesome play style I’ve never found the tale the series told particularly compelling, but now with 343 Industries at the helm hopefully they can change all of that? For me Halo has always been a co-operative experience and even if the story of Halo 4 doesn’t grab me, I still can’t wait to take on the campaign with a couple of friends on Legendary difficultly, tackle Spartan Ops and get my ass kicked in War Games. Come November 6th, Halo 4 will be Chief on my to-do-list.

Halo 4 hits shops shelves on 6th November exclusively on Xbox 360.

Closing Thoughts:
So… what do you guys think of these upcoming titles and which of them, if any will you be investing your precious time and money in this Autumn? Please let the crew at VxM know by leaving a comment down below and join in the conversation. Rob will be back soon with another bunch of juicy new releases, hand-picked from the fertile gaming tree for your delectation. Catch you next time and happy gaming!

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