Fusillade? Deluge? Avalanche? Call it what you will, retailers are bracing themselves for an untenable number of new releases hitting their shelves this week, as game companies empty their tanks in advance of Black Friday and the official start of the holiday shopping season.
Where to begin? Arguably the top release in this jam-packed week is Valve and Turtle Rock Studios' zombie-crazed shooter Left 4 Dead. First announced in 2007, the co-op-centric, Source engine-powered shooter saw its development extended after Valve bought the one-time CounterStrike mod shop in January. Since then, the game has become central to Valve's 2008 strategy, and represents the company's biggest release for the Xbox 360 and PC this year.
Usually a day of rest for retailers, Sunday saw the launch of five different games. Released earlier this month on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 2 exclusively at Wal-Mart, the AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack thunderstruck the Wii. That release was accompanied by two Nintendo exclusives: Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades jams on the DS just five months after its best-selling original, and Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii, of which GameSpot hosted a live gameplay marathon on Friday.
Also on Sunday, Midway released its first new Mortal Kombat for the Xbox 360 and PS3, MK vs. DC Universe. Shaun White Snowboarding, which buried critics in an avalanche of morose, also hit the slopes on Sunday for the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, and DS.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 is in for a big week, and that's not just because its online service will see the release of its long-awaited dashboard overhaul. Lips, a karaoke rhythm game from Elite Beat Agents studio Inis and equipped with a motion-sensing microphone, joins Codemasters' Xbox Live Vision camera-supported You're in the Movies to lead Microsoft's casual-gamer offerings this week. Square Enix's Japanese role-playing game The Last Remnant and Namco Bandai's action adventure Naruto: The Broken Bond will also see release exclusively for Microsoft's console.
Putting partisan gaming aside for a moment, EA will be hitting all relevant platforms this week with a reboot of its once-mighty Need for Speed for franchise, Need for Speed Undercover. The publisher also has on tap its collegiate hoops simulation NCAA Basketball 09 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PS2, and will be distributing MTV Games' Rock Band Track Pack Volume 2 for the X360, PS3, PS2, and Wii.
In other multiplatform news, Lara Croft will disembark on on her latest loot-hoarding expedition in Eidos and Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider Underworld for the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, and PC. Disney's Bolt, a John Travolta-led animated feature about a delusional dog, will make its way to theaters while its trusty-companion game tie-in sees release on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, and PC. Retailers also expect to see Sega's Sonic Unleashed zip in and out of their stores on the Xbox 360, PS2, and Wii this week. (The game is expected to arrive for the PS3 in December.)
A whole mess of Nintendo Wiis and DSs are in gamers' hands, so its only natural those platforms would see an equal smorgasbord of new titles. Ubisoft's maniacal rabbids return this week on the Wii and DS with the Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party, the console version of which is Balance Board-compatible. EA's Skate franchise ollies onto Nintendo's two platforms as well with Skate It. Disney, too, will drum on both of Nintendo's systems with Ultimate Band.
Nintendo will also see a number of system exclusives this week. Sidestepping that whole defeat-throngs-of-enemies-before-a-climactic-boss-fight thing, the Belmont clan throws down against Dracula and his lieutenants in Konami's Wii fighter Castlevania Judgment. In a battle of the culinary arts, Majesco is serving up Cooking Mama World Kitchen on the Wii. For the DS, Activision's accelerometer-equipped Tony Hawk's Motion/Hue Pixel Painter, Neverland's Rune Factory 2: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, SNK's Metal Slug 7, and Atlus' Lumines Arc 2 all see release.
And, of course, PC gamers have a few to look forward to this week. Obsidian's Neverwinter Nights 2 expands with a new 15-hour campaign in Storm of Zehir. Meanwhile, EA's Spore sees its first of undoubtedly many add-ons with the Creepy & Cute Parts Pack.
A contender for the longest-title-of-the-year award, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 4: Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective from Telltale wages its mischief-making on Nintendo's WiiWare and the PC. Desktop gamers can pick up the game for $8.95 on Telltale's Web site, while the downloadable console edition runs for 1,000 Wii points ($10). Also out for Nintendo's online storefront this week is Target Toss Pro: Bags (700 Wii points, $7), the Genesis remake Forgotten Worlds (800 Wii points, $8), and a Super NES port of Space Invaders: The Original Game (800 Wii points, $8).
While the New Xbox Experience has supplanted Microsoft's new weekly Wednesday game, the publisher will be adding Atari's Zapper to its Xbox Originals download program this week for 1,200 Microsoft points ($15). Sony had not revealed its Thursday download slate as of press time.
This week's new releases are listed below (list taken from retailer information--actual dates may vary).
NOVEMBER 16, 2008
AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack (Wii)
Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)
Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades (DS)
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (X360, PS3)
Shaun White Snowboarding (X360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS)
NOVEMBER 17, 2008
Gallop and Ride (Wii)
Hello Kitty: Big City Dreams (DS)
Left 4 Dead (X360, PC)
Merv Griffin's Crosswords (Wii)
NCAA Basketball 09 (X360, PS3, PS2)
Need for Speed Undercover (X360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS, PC)
Rock Band Track Pack Volume 2 (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii)
Spore Creepy & Cute Parts Pack (PC)
Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 4: Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective (WiiWare, PC)
Target Toss Pro: Bags (WiiWare)
The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria Complete Edition (PC)
The Sims 2 Mansion & Garden Stuff (PC)
NOVEMBER 18, 2008
Agatha Christie: Evil Under the Sun (Wii)
Alone in the Dark: Inferno (PS3)
AMF Bowling World Lanes (Wii)
Bolt (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, PC)
Castlevania Judgment (Wii)
Championship Foosball (Wii)
Cooking Mama World Kitchen (Wii)
Cradle of Rome (DS)
Dynasty Warriors 6 (PS2, PC)
EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey (PC)
Gothic 3 - Forsaken Gods (PC)
Imagine: Ballet Star (DS)
Imagine Movie Star (DS)
Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine (DS)
Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2 (X360, PS3, Wii)
Luminous Arc 2 (DS)
Metal Slug 7 (DS)
Monkey Mischief: Party Time (Wii)
Naruto: The Broken Bond (X360)
Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir (PC)
NPPL Championship Paintball 2009 (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii)
Petz Catz Clan (DS)
Petz Crazy Monkeyz (Wii)
Petz Monkeyz House (DS)
Petz Rescue Endangered Paradise (DS)
Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party (Wii, DS)
Rune Factory 2: A Fantasy Harvest Moon (DS)
Skate City Heroes (Wii)
Ski & Shoot (PS2)
Ski Doo: Snowmobile Challenge (X360, PS3)
Sonic Unleashed (X360, PS2, Wii)
Tomb Raider Underworld (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, PC)
Tony Hawk's Motion/Hue Pixel Painter (DS)
Ultimate Band (Wii, DS)
Winter Sports 2: The Next Challenge (X360, PS2, DS)
You're in the Movies (X360)
NOVEMBER 20, 2008
The Last Remnant (X360)
NOVEMBER 21, 2008
Beyond Protocol (PC)