EU release: September 15
Whether you think it’s an awesome step forward for the PlayStation brand or just a misguided leap onto Nintendo’s doomed fadwagon, Move will be available for everyone to play with toward the end of September, beating Microsoft’s Kinect out the door by more than a month. So far, Sony seems to be focused on what its suspiciously Wii-like motion controller can do for gamers (as opposed to families and exotic-pet enthusiasts), and while its launch library features tech-demo-y general-interest games like Start the Party and EyePet, there are a few standouts that seem a little more promising. Sports Champions will feature gladiatorial combat, for starters, and Kung Fu Rider – about martial artists on high-speed office chairs – is too weird to not at least catch our interest.
Whether or not any of it will actually be worth picking up remains to be seen, but we’ll be spending a lot more time with Move very soon – keep an eye out over the next few weeks for our impressions.
(Inside sources have informed us that, although the official release date for PlayStation Move is September 19, chances are good that you will find the hardware in stores two days earlier, on September 17.)
EU release: September 24
Not too long ago we got some extensive hands-on time with Civilization V, and it was as addictive as ever. The game’s interface has seen an elegant overhaul, stripping out a lot of the clutter, which makes it more accessible for new players but also smoother to use for veterans. The game is much prettier than its predecessor, and the switch from a square grid to hexes means increased freedom of movement and a more organic feel to the environment and army layouts.
Speaking of which – with the ability to stack military units on a single hex removed, combined with ranged units that can bombard from behind friendly lines, the battles are now a lot more tactical, realistic, and most importantly, more exciting and fun.
Platform: PSN, XBLA
DeathSpank was a bit of a pared-down, simple action-RPG with a humorous tone, and it’s weird to talk about it in the past tense because the damn thing just came out – see our review here. And yet, here comes the sequel. Apparently developer Hothead was working on it along with the original, so now it kind of makes sense. This time, the hero will venture into more modern settings in search of the powerful but dangerous thongs (don’t ask). Local co-op is in, with the option to play his new partner Steve, who’s some kind of kung-fu ninja (do they know that kung-fu is Chinese and ninjas were from Japan?)
(XBLA version releases a day later, on September 22)
It's no Shin Megami Tensei, but Etrian Odyssey III is practically a no-brainer for the select few who thrive on ultra-punishing old fashioned dungeon crawling. EOIII's setting is once again completely new, this time focusing on the fabled sunken city of Armoroad, where adventurers travel down layers and layers of dungeons in the hopes of finding treasure and long-lost technology. The 3D, grid-based labyrinths of this watery tale are not for the faint of heart, filled with plenty of overpowered beasts and surprises. And since auto-mapping is apparently for babies, you'll also have to painstakingly record the details of your surroundings using the map editor tools on the bottom screen.
Sound tedious? It is, but the payoff and sense of accomplishment can be equally great, especially since you're required to build your whole team from scratch – there's not even a pre-made main character. If this is your thing, expect countless hours of masochistic dungeon crawling glee.
We got to play FFXIV recently, and we learned from our time with it that those who loved FFXI will probably love this successor, while those perplexed by the last MMO Final Fantasy will probably keep scratching their heads. Dense, detailed, and a bit difficult to understand, FFXIV refuses to follow the accessibility of WoW’s path while also sticking with traditional MMO tropes.
The world of Eorzea is beautiful, tranquil and yet absolutely deadly underneath. It will take some hardcore MMOers to crack its nut, but that crowd can be huge if they are willing to peel themselves away from WoW after it filled the void of FFXI’s dwindling lifespan.
(This date is for the Collector's Edition at $75. The regular edition releases on September 30 at $50.)
Platform: 360, PS3, PC
EU release: September 24
Real life Formula One finally seems to be worth watching again (did you see the Belgian GP?), which couldn't have happened at a better time. Why? Because Codemasters has snatched the F1 license from Sony and fed it through the amazing EGO engine that powered DiRT 2 and Race Driver GRID. Sure, we had to put up with a PSP/Wii stop-gap while we waited for the real deal, but this month that wait is finally over. With the most realistic weather system a racing game has ever seen, spectacular car damage and sweet handling, the new F1 game should be sublime... regardless of how you feel about the sport itself.