Every October, the nightmare comes to life in exactly the same way: Half the great games of the year come out during the three month holiday season, when we gamers have the least amount of disposable income. As a result, worthwhile games get overlooked. And with pumpkin-carving season upon us, we felt it was time to reveal our 2010 list of truly cool games that are nonetheless going to sell miserably unless we spread the word and do something about it.
Let us repeat: We’re NOT saying the games are bad; on the contrary, these new IPs, reboots and sequels show a fair deal of promise. What we are saying is that these games are destined to drown in the ocean of hype given off by much larger, better-recognized IPs and a release calendar crowded with more starry-eyed hopefuls than the front row of a Justin Bieber concert.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Platforms: 360, PS3
Same Day As: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Why it should succeed: Ninja Theory is a developer that has been defining itself by pushing the boundaries of storytelling in video games. Enslaved approaches narrative with an intelligent subtlety that takes advantage of everything an interactive medium has to offer. To put that in English, the guys at Ninja Theory don’t throw a bunch of 45-minute cutscenes into your face (*cough* Metal Gear Solid 4 *cough*) but they still manage to give us a great story. Plus, they had Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later) write the thing and Andy Serkis (Gollum) direct it. Oh, and the gameplay isn’t half bad either.
Above: A supporting character that you actually won’t want to smother with a pillow in the dead of night.
Why it will be ignored: Enslaved suffers from a very serious case of couldnotbereleasedataworsepossibletime-itis. The game is a brand new intellectual property that almost nobody has heard of before and it just hit retailers at the very start of the holiday season. Specifically, it just released on the exact same goddamn day as Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – a 3D Castlevania game that doesn’t suck, something gamers have been waiting for since approximately 1995. Enslaved also has the problem of offering a leaner 8-10 hours of gameplay whereas Castlevania sports a hefty 15-20 hours.
If publisher Namco could have found a quieter time to release the game – say, anywhere in the eight-month period from January to August 2011 – it may have seen some good figures. As it stands now, Enslaved is probably destined to follow the path of Beyond Good & Evil. And hey, we're not happy about it either. Please: Prove us wrong.
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Platforms: 360, PS3
Same Time As: Fallout: New Vegas
Why it should succeed: It’s like a Gears of War speed run in an Iron Man suit, for crying out loud! Gunfire, cover, massive enemies blowing up said cover, you blowing up said massive enemies all at a pace that would make Usain Bolt beg for a water break… Plus, everything about the game seems like it was ripped straight out of a Japanese manga in a good way. If Halo’s Master Chief and the Guyver were to get together for a steamy night of soft sci-fi love, Vanquish’s main man Sam Gideon would most likely be the result. Give yourself a cookie if you knew what the Guyver was before clicking the link.
The overall plot is about as memorable as a Snicker’s bar, but that’s all forgiven when you find out that Gideon has effing jet turbines installed in his calves and back. If the demo proved anything to us, it’s that pulling off headshots while flying around at mach 5 is awesome.
Above: Bio-Booster Armor Guyver!!
Why it will be ignored: While Vanquish definitely has some very cool ideas and implements them fairly well, many gamers are going to judge the game at face value. At first glance, it looks just like any other over-the-shoulder third-person Gears of War clone (You listening, Quantum Theory? This game’s blood is on your hands). To top it all off, it’s being released next to the eagerly awaited Fallout: New Vegas. Do the math.
Medal of Honor
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Platforms: 360, PS3, PC
Same Time As: Call of Duty: Black Ops
Why it should succeed: The Medal of Honor series has been in dire need of a kick in the ass and this reboot is looking to oblige. Publisher Electronic Arts has pulled out all the stops by hiring several military consultants to aid the development team in creating the most realistic scenarios yet seen, depicting Tier One military operations. This one has got it all: spec-ops, terrorist raids, hostage rescue and epic beards. It’s grittier than Call of Duty and just as intense.
Above: If beard porn is your thing, this image is NSFW.
Why it will be ignored: While a truly thick beard is impressive, massively negative press is not. Every country involved with the war in the Middle East has delivered an outcry of protest against the design decision to include Taliban as a playable team in the multiplayer portion of the game. This has also given anti-videogame activists all kinds of ammunition and resulted in the game being banned from several military bases.
But more importantly (sales-wise, at least), MoH is facing off against rival juggernaut Call of Duty: Black Ops. Before you even get started, yes, goddammit, we know that the games do not come out at the exact same time and are separated by a month. And we know that Call of Duty essentially bit Medal of Honor: Allied Assault’s style back in the day (makes sense. It was many of the same people). Doesn’t matter.
The fact is, Call of Duty has a titanic following even if Bobby Kotick is trying his damndest to ruin that (God bless him) and anyone who’s only going to buy one or the other is going to pick CoD (see Guitar Hero vs Rock Band for the template). Medal of Honor could be a massive hit, and we truly hope it is, but all signs point to it being steamrolled by the massive CoD machine.