Same Make. Same Model. New Mission.
Thanks to some top-notch exclusives and near-weekly updates to the console, Xbox One has finally found its footing. We expect it to begin hitting its stride in 2015, and eventually go into a full-on T1000 sprint. Actually I like the idea that the Xbox One is the Robert Patrick of modern games consoles, as that makes the Xbox 360 Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Like the T8000, the Xbox 360 may look and act like a relic of the past, awkwardly trying to fit into a world that has leapfrogged it, but give it the opportunity to fight for you and itll prove itself as reliable as a sawed-off shotgun shell to the face from a leather-clad Austrian bodybuilder turned movie star wearing sweet Ray Bans.
Those that stick by the Xbox 360 will find that, while it wont pick up a rad new attitude, it has more than a few high-profile releases coming for it in 2015. Ive put together a list of ten such games for your consideration.
Mortal Kombat X
For many years the Mortal Kombat series has traded off taking horrific acts of bodily mutilation to a comic extreme. This, in large part, was achieved by the hilarious in-universe language that sounds a bit like a drunk Westerner trying to approximate what a Middle-Eastern language might sound like, but also through the over-the-top visual presentation. Mortal Kombat X, however, with the benefit of bleeding edge visual technology, is coming dangerously close to legitimately gross.
Perhaps its better, then, that the Xbox 360 port, which is developed by High Voltage Software is likely to scale back some of the more stomach churning visual flourishes. If I had to bet, I reckon the port will feature the same brutal combat complete with bone-cracking, organ-crushing and limb-shredding violence, but with fewer environment animations and general lighting pizazz.
The one thing that won't change is that its story is apparently inspired by Godfather 2. Weird. The game will be out in Summer 2015.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
I could say that, since Metal Gear Solid games are mostly cutscenes, you wont have to worry about the game looking or performing significantly worse than its Xbox One counterpart, but that would be unfairly reductive.
Moreso than in the past, Kojima is focused on immersing the player in his latest game and ensuring fingers are always pressing buttons. Ground Zeroes, which delivered story through voice-overs instead of cutting away to mini-movies, was a taste of the pure game storytelling that Kojima has claimed will drive The Phantom Pain. If you played the Xbox 360 version, you have empirical evidence that Kojima Productions is capable of delivering a high-quality open-world game on older hardware.
Metal Gear Solid 5 is developed on the new FOX Engine, which is scalable enough to pump out crisp visuals and rock solid performance on the Xbox 360. The port is being developed in-house, so if you still have some concerns about whether The Phantom Pain on Xbox 360 will hold-up ask yourself this: has Kojima Productions released a Metal Gear Solid game that didnt look amazing and perform well? The correct answer is "La Li Lu Le NO".
Mighty No. 9
Keiji Inafune is a legend. His fingers were in some of the best pies Capcoms ovens ever baked. Over the numerous years he spent at the company he contributed to the sweet taste of Onimusha, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Dead Rising and of course, Mega Man, to name a few.
Following his departure, Inafune hasnt hit the same pie highs. Its pleasing then, that Inafune had the good sense to take a back to roots approach and return to the idea that launched his career. Mighty No. 9 makes no attempt to disguise itself as anything other than a new Mega Man. Of course, Japanese copyright ninjas packing lawsuit kunais prevent him from actually calling it that, but just look at the blue boy-bot bouncing across the screen while firing energy blasts from his hands. You know.
Mighty No. 9 was crowdfunded on Kickstarter with Xbox 360 as one of the first consoles targeted for release on. Although an Xbox One version has since been funded, its safe to say the Xbox 360 will more than accommodate what Inafune and the gang envisioned the game would be.
Its all good in the Xbox 360 hood. Mighty No. 9 is scheduled for release in April 2015.
Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious
Ok lets just get this out of the way: this is probably not the Fast & Furious tie-in you want. When Vin Diesel says I dont got friends, I have family in the new Furious 7 trailer, he is not talking about your Forza Horizon 2 drivatar.
What this is, however, is a standalone expansion for Forza Horizon 2 that will cost you no money for the first two weeks. But if youre slow like that busta Ja Rule, who was foolish enough to put the pink slip up for his 1996 Acura Integra GSR and then was all MONICA! NOOOOOOO when Brian smoked him, itll cost you. Specifically $10.
Included are a selection of the most iconic tricked out rides from throughout the Fast and Furious series. And if you know anything about the series youll know that they are so intrinsically linked to the characters driving them that playing through the expansion will be like an emotional journey through the history of the Fast and Furious franchise. While you may not see or hear Dom, seated behind the wheel of his ride, youll feel his presence, were told.
Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious will be available March 27. RIP Brian.
Minecraft: Story Mode
TellTale Games, the studio that is somehow managing to develop episodic games for The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands at the same time, is now also working on a series based on Minecraft.
Minecraft: Story Mode will be heavily narrative-driven and feature all your favourite characters such as, er, Steve. There will probably be at least one Creeper. I bet Cow and Pig might be involved somehow. Villager seems like a shoe-in for recurring cast member. I'm pretty sure Skeleton Archer, Enderman and Zombie will be doing something unsavoury.
OK, no one's exactly sure what Minecraft: Story Mode is or will be. All we know is that although its not intended as an official story for Steve and the gang it will be as Minecrafty as possible. The lack of defined source material to use as a springboard is different for TellTale, which has traditionally created stories within established universes. Theres just enough of the *pause for effect* building blocks *bask* for a good story and plenty of room to get creative with characters. Thats exciting.
TellTale and Mojang have not yet provided a specific release date for Minecraft: Story Mode, only that it is scheduled for some time in 2015.
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin, coming to Xbox 360 on April 7, is a complete package that includes the original game along with the Crown of the Sunken King , Crown of the Old Iron King and Crown of the Ivory King DLC.
Dark Souls 2 doesnt quite capture the magic of the original - Souls fans that want to seem more insightful than they actually are will frequently say its missing that Miyazaki touch. However, the included downloadable content is the closest the game comes to channelling Lord Miyazaki. In fact, the DLC is good enough that when couched within the main game, it raises the quality of the experience as a whole, restoring some of mystery and wondrous majesty that felt missing from the vanilla version.
Along with the DLC, this edition will introduce new NPCs to the original game to tweak the story experience. In addition to this, it adds better item descriptions (important for lore-fiends) improved game balance and better matchmaking.
All in all, its the definitive Dark Souls 2 experience, which means Id also recommend buying a few soft pillows and strategically placing them around you to anticipate where you may throw your controller in anger. Like a moth drawn to a flame, your wings will burn in anguish. Time after time. For that is your fate. The fate of the cursed.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Crystal Dynamics redefined Tomb Raider as a more kinetic action game than the puzzle-solving, wild animal killing 3D platformer of old. It was a big success and, like or not, the developer is likely to stick pretty close to the formula for its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider.
The game is currently scheduled for both the Xbox One and Xbox 360, which may lead to you ask: will Lara be able to shoot at things while leaping around and trying her very best not to get impaled/crushed/burned/exploded/tortured by something, look nice and play well on my Xbox 360? The answer is yes, says Crystal Dynamics. Although it is focusing its efforts entirely on the Xbox One version, longtime collaborator, Nixxes is working on the port. The team put together a tech demo of Rise of the Tomb Raider content running on Xbox 360 and Crystal Dynamics was totally blown away by what they achieved. And if Clueless taught me anything, its that using totally is the most sincere form of assurance.
We should be seeing Lara again before Christmas this year.
Lego Marvel's Avengers
TT has thus far developed games based on the Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies, as well as the Batman and Marvel comic universes. Each of these has offered hours of joy. The best part is that, instead of skating along on humanity's inexplicable, seemingly innate love of Lego versions of anything, the studio takes memorable scenes from its source material and injects humour into them.
Coupled with the satisfying smash and build mechanics, the loose but fun platforming and the puzzle solving, all of which can be played in co-op, and the Lego games become difficult not to love. In 2015, Traveller's Tales will be working its block magic on The Avengers, bringing the events of Avengers Assemble and Age of Ultron together in one adorable package. I expect the studio will be taking some creative liberties, including heroes and villains that werent featured in the movie, which is A-ok with me.
I'm not sure about you, but I can't wait to see what the studio does with the movie's most iconic scene, where the heroes go to a random shwarmas joint and eat in complete silence. Classic. What? Yeah sure, the "puny God" scene with Hulk and Loki too. Whatever.
So, you want to hear a story? It has been a long time, hasnt it? How about a tale you havent heard before? One with luscious worlds of wonder, of treacherous traps, fantastical foes and caverns that could kill?
Yes, I took that straight out of the reveal trailer for Kings Quest, what of it?
For the unfamiliar, Kings Quest is actually a graphical adventure series that made its debut in 1980, published by Sierra Entertainment and designed by Roberta Williams, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest designers of all time. Cliff Ble-what? Quiet down, whippersnappers or youll get the belt.
The latest entry in the series is developed by The Odd Gentleman, the team behind the charming puzzle platformer The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. Unlike the classic titles, which were point-and-click, the new Kings Quest has been reimagined and looks and play like a modern platformer. Canonically it takes place between the original games, with players reliving the adventures of King Graham as he tells the stories to his granddaughter Gwendolyn.
Kings Quest is expected for release late in 2015.
Do you like niche racing simulation games? Well boy do I have a doozy of a niche for you. Later this year Namco Bandai will publish RIDE, a motorcycle racing sim developed by Italian studio Milestone s.r.l. Now, I wont pretend that we know or understand motorcycle racing games, because that would be insulting to you and your weirdly specific interest, you would immediately know I was blagging it and Id get called on it.
So, Ill play it straight: there are more than 100 customisable bikes. Customisation does not include the ability to put a Waddle Wing or Flower Glider on the bike. Players will race across iconic circuits around the world. These circuits will not include boost pads, item boxes or bits where the track goes all upside down and your bike switches to an anti-gravity mode. Gosh, I dont get this at all. Who plays these things? Just ride a real bike.
Anyway, this game sounds excellent if you like this sort of thing. RIDE will be out later this year on Xbox 360.