I was at Walgreens the other day, stocking up on candy for the trick or treaters. I cleared one 'seasonal' aisle and hit the next, only to find that I'd passed from ghouls and ghosts into tinsel and holly. Yup, they had the Christmas decorations on the shelves already.
I wasn't the least bit surprised, because I'm a gamer, and for gamers the holiday season is already upon us. This is the season when a flood of new releases hits store shelves, hoping to make it onto the wish lists of all the boys and girls, aged 18-80, who want a new game for [insert your December holiday of choice] this year. I thought it might be fun to put together a week-by-week calendar of releases that look interesting. When it comes to games, I'm strictly a consumer: I don't have any insider information. These are just titles that look interesting based on previews and trade show coverage. I'm sure I'll miss or forget some titles so I'll be counting on readers to leave comments.
Out now: Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360) has been out for a while but is a decent choice for any Halo fans on your wish-list. Demon's Souls (PS3) is a hardcore action-RPG that is a good choice for the gamer who enjoys a real challenge. Reader losingmylycosa recommends Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (PC, PS3, Xbox 360), a realistic military shooter that features both co-op and competitive online play.
Oct. 13th sees the release of Brutal Legend (PS3, Xbox 360), a heavy metal fantasy from the mind of Tim Schafer, featuring the voice work (and pseudo-likeness) of Jack Black, Ozzie Osborne and several other musicians. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) is an action-adventure modeled after the Saturday afternoon adventure matinees of yesteryear. Early reviews of this one are quite positive.
Oct. 20th brings us Borderlands (PC, PS3, Xbox), a hybrid shooter/rpg with an interesting cel-shaded art style. This one sounds like it'll be most fun when played co-op (4 players max) so be sure to get it on the same platform that your gaming friends do.
Oct. 27th has a couple of platform exclusives. Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time (PS3) is one of the few truly family friendly games on this list. It's the latest in a long line of platformers featuring a space-faring wombat (Ratchet) and his little robot sidekick (Clank). For the Xbox 360 we have Forza Motorsport 3, a racing simulation for car enthusiasts. This is one of the most realistic driving game series available (the other being Gran Turismo on the PS3, but that one isn't out until next year).
Nov. 3rd is when Dragon Age: Origins (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) releases. This is the latest RPG from the master storytellers at Bioware. You may know them from Mass Effect or Knights of the Old Republic. This is kind of a 'throwback' title for them: a single player 'dark fantasy' RPG that has you controlling a party of swordsmen, magicians & thieves. There's apparently plenty of gore and some sex in this one: keep it away from the kids!
Nov 10th is when the 400 lb gorilla of video games launches: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360). This is a near-future shooter that was recently revealed to take place, at least in part, in a war-torn Washington DC. The storyline is still being kept very quiet so we don't know what led to the nation's capital being under siege. Modern Warfare 2 is probably the single biggest release of the year for multiplayer shooter fans. If someone on your gift list loves playing shooters online, this is the title to get them.
Nov. 17th will have gamers mowing down hordes of zombies in Left 4 Dead 2 (PC, Xbox 360). This sequel takes place in New Orleans and adds some melee combat using makeshift weapons (like a frying pan) to the multiplayer zombie blasting fun. This is another title best played co-op. Also on the 17th comes Assassin's Creed 2. This time around you'll be in Renaissance-era Italy stalking your prey, with the help of some inventions by your good pal Leonardo Da Vinci.
Nov 24th you get to let your wallet rest.
Dec. 1st features James Cameron's Avatar: The Game. (PC, PS3, Xbox 360). To be honest, I don't know much about this one, and I'm something of a skeptic when it comes to anything having to do with this movie. Apparently you'll be able to play the game in 3D...but as to whether it'll be good or not, I have no idea. I thought I should list it just because there's so much hype around the movie.
Dec 8th brings us The Saboteur (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) which puts you in the shoes of a World War 2 resistance fighter. I'm going on my gut in recommending this one; we haven't seen a lot of info on it yet. The premise is interesting though: skulking around occupied Paris in an attempt to take revenge on the Nazi Officer who ruined your life. We'll see.
And that's what I have so far. Considering a new game generally costs $50 (PC) or $60 (PS3, Xbox 360) most of us have some pretty tough choices to make in the coming months!
What are you looking forward to? If I missed a favorite, please leave a comment with the release date and a sentence or two about the game. I'll try to keep this post updated so we can all use it as a resource over the next couple of months. When someone asks you what you want for the holidays you can just point them at this page!