VIDEO: The trailer for Rock Band
Okay, this is getting ridiculous. It’s already been a strong year for games, with four — four! — game-of-the-year contenders before Labor Day. And now come the heavy hitters. Over the next few months, we can look forward to long-awaited sequels, ambitious new franchises, and the one game that will finally let me fulfill my lifelong dream of busting out an epic drum solo at the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
|Fall preview 2007|
“Happy endings: Bad news begets good tunes.” By Matt Ashare.
“BBC? America!: The networks put some English on the fall TV season.” By Joyce Millman.
“Busy busy: Something for everyone this fall.” By Debra Cash.
“Stage worthies: Fall on the Boston boards.” By Carolyn Clay.
“Basstown nights: The new scene emerges; Halloween preparations.” By David Day.
“Bounty: The best of the season’s roots, world, folk, and blues.” By Ted Drozdowski.
“War, peace, and Robert Pinsky: The season’s fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.” By John Freeman.
“Trane, Joyce Dee Dee, Sco, and more: A jam-packed season of jazz.” By Jon Garelick.
“Turn on the bright lights: Art, women, politics, and food.” By Randi Hopkins.
“War zones: Fall films face terror at home and abroad.” By Peter Keough.
“Locked and loaded: The fall promises a double-barreled blast of gaming greatness.” By Mitch Krpata.
“World music: The BSO goes traveling, and Berlin comes to Boston.” By Lloyd Schwartz.
“Singles scene: Local bands dig in with digital.” By Will Spitz.
The fall season kicks off on September 25, when HALO 3 lands on the Xbox 360. You may already have encountered the marketing blitz: Burger King is plastering Halo branding all over its wrappers and drink cups, and PepsiCo has brewed up a particularly noxious Halo-inspired variety of Mountain Dew it’s calling “Game Fuel.” (Thanks for working to dispel the stereotype of gamers as junk-food-addled shut-ins, guys!) Thousands of gamers have had a tantalizing glimpse of Halo 3’s multiplayer action thanks to a beta test earlier this year. The early word? It rules, bro. But it would be nice if Master Chief’s third and allegedly final outing delivered a satisfying single-player campaign, too.
Then again, why would anyone want another single-player FPS when there’s a new Half-Life on the way? HALF-LIFE 2: THE ORANGE BOX, coming October 9 for the Xbox 360 and PC, is actually several games in one. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 has Gordon Freeman taking the fight to the Combine in an outdoor setting that promises to be more open-ended than the linear levels of past games. The Orange Box also offers Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode 1, in case you missed them, and two stand-alone projects: Portal, a mind-bending puzzle adventure based on teleportation, and Team Fortress 2, a class-based shooter that’s been in development since 1998 (really!).
After suffering through a year of broken promises and much-hyped new properties that fell flat, PlayStation 3 owners may have reason to celebrate on October 23, when Sony’s most lovable heroes make the leap to the next generation. RATCHET AND CLANK FUTURE: TOOLS OF DESTRUCTION doesn’t aim to reinvent the franchise, and that’s a good thing. Ratchet and Clank may be just what the beleaguered PS3 needs: a fast, funny platformer that’s easy to pick up and play. What’s more, it’ll appeal to more than Sony’s core 18-34 male demographic.
The fall’s most mature title is dropping on, yes, the family-friendly Wii. MANHUNT 2 ignited a controversy earlier this year when the ESRB tagged it with the dreaded “Adults Only” rating. Leading retailers like Wal-Mart and Target refused to carry the title, only to be trumped when Nintendo decided that nobody could sell it. Publisher Rockstar Games made the changes necessary to obtain the acceptable “Mature” rating, and Manhunt 2 will see the light of day on October 31 for both the Wii and the PlayStation 2. Of course, if you can no longer use the motion-sensitive Wii controller to rip off a man’s testicles with a pair of pliers, what’s the point?
And is anything better than dueling guitar solos? How about dueling guitar video games? The arrival of GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK on October 30 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and Wii) comes as no surprise, but Legends of Rock adds a bevy of unexpected new features. A reimagined head-to-head mode incorporates wacky power-ups and attacks that seem inspired by Nintendo’s Mario Kart series. You’ll fight boss battles against six-string samurais like Tom Morello and Slash. Most important, Guitar Hero III has the best tracklist in the series to date: Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast,” Metallica’s “One,” and Slayer’s “Raining Blood” are all necessary additions. And the bulk of the new songs are master tracks instead of the usual covers.