Wargamers rejoice, for this week brings with it more ordnance than John Rambo on a vacation in Burma. To wit, both Sony and Microsoft will be trotting out sequels to hot shooter franchises that debuted in 2006.
For Xbox 360 gamers, Gears of War 2 picks up six months after the events in GameSpot's 2006 Game of the Year winner. Because the game is the tent pole of Microsoft Game Studios' 2008 holiday release slate, it comes as no surprise that the publisher plans to heavily promote the title, claiming that more than 20,000 retailers will hold "Midnight Madness" events beginning at 12:01 a.m. on November 7. The game is also poised to smash the sales figures of its predecessor, with Microsoft saying in mid-October that preorder sales had already surpassed those of the original.
Though Gears of War had an edge on Resistance: Fall of Man when the two debuted in 2006, Insomniac stands to benefit this time around from a significantly expanded PlayStation 3 installed base. In the first-person shooter's follow-up, players take back up with series hero Nathan Hale shortly after the first game ends. Last week, Sony said that gamers located in the San Francisco Bay Area will have a chance to meet Insomniac head Ted Price and others from the development team at a publisher-hosted event taking place on November 4 at 12:01 a.m. at the SonyStyle store in the Westfield Metreon.
In addition to Resistance 2, PS3 owners have two other platform-exclusive titles to look forward to this week. Namco Bandai's Ultimate Ninja brand of Naruto action games enters the fray for the first time on the PS3. Those looking for a more traditional Japanese gaming experience can pick up Valkyria Chronicles, an action RPG from Sega set during a fictional war in Europe.
Fans fixing for a fight but finding themselves sore of thumb will also have options this week, as Ubisoft is hitting the big red button on EndWar for the Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, and DS. Of primary note, the real-time strategy title set in Tom Clancy's technocratic, militarized universe heavily utilizes voice-recognition software in its console installments, giving players the ability to bark orders to their virtual troops.
Platform-agnostic shooter fans can also check out Activision's game tie-in to MGM's James Bond: Quantum of Solace, which hits theaters in two weeks. Available for the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, and PC, Quantum of Solace spans the events of both the present Daniel Craig-led film and those in 2006's Casino Royale.
Gamers who have had their fill of death and destruction can alternatively become thunderstruck this week by the AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack. Not just an album download, the AC/DC pack will include 18 of the band's most famous tracks and will retail for $39.88 on the Xbox 360 and PS3, with the PS2 edition clocking in at $29.88. A Wii edition is scheduled to arrive November 16. Domestically, the game will be available only at Wal-Mart, at its Sam's Club subsidiary, and at its online store.
Ubisoft's Imagine Interior Designer won't be the only title for those who frequent the Lifetime channel this week. Big Blue Bubble's Home Sweet Home for WiiWare will also be filling that niche for 1,000 Wii points ($10). Accompanying the interior decorating sim on Nintendo's original game channel will be Alien Crush Returns. The 1,000 Wii point ($10) game offers an updated take on the TurboGrafx pinball title Alien Crush (which was released for the Virtual Console in 2006) and includes online play, leaderboards, and tournaments.
Vigilante 8 Arcade will be skidding onto Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade this week. An update of sorts to the 1998 original, Activision's vehicular combat game features four-player split-screen play, online multiplayer matches for up to eight players, and an assortment of downloadable content, some of which will be free. The game can be downloaded this Wednesday for 800 Microsoft points ($10).
This week's new releases are listed below (list taken from retailer information--actual dates may vary).
NOVEMBER 2, 2008
AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack (X360, PS3, PS2)
NOVEMBER 4, 2008
Army Men: Soldiers of Misfortune (PS2, DS)
Bratz Kidz: Slumber Party (Wii)
CSI: NY (PC)
Disney TH!NK Fast (PS2)
Dragon Ball: Origins (DS)
Dragon Ball Z: Infinite World (PS2)
Goosebumps HorrorLand (DS)
Guitar Rock Tour (DS)
History Channel Civil War: Secret Missions (X360, PS3, PS2)
Imagine Interior Designer (DS)
Imagine Wedding Designer (DS)
James Bond: Quantum of Solace (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, PC)
Korg DS-10 (DS)
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, PC)
My Baby Boy (DS)
My Baby Girl (DS)
Monster Lab (PS2, Wii, DS)
Movie Games (Wii)
Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade (X360)
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm (PS3)
NHL 09 (PS2)
Onimusha: The Essentials (PS2)
Operation Mania (PC)
Petz Dogz Pack (DS)
Petz Sports: Dog Playground (Wii, PC)
Princess on Ice (DS)
Real Soccer 2009 (DS)
Resistance 2 (PS3)
Rubik's Puzzle World (Wii)
Secret Service (X360, PS2)
Tom Clancy's EndWar (X360, PS3, PSP, DS)
Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
Winx Club: Mission Echantrix (DS)
Zoo Vet: Endangered Animals (DS)
NOVEMBER 7, 2008
Gears of War 2 (X360)