One good indicator for how hectic a week will be at retail? Count the horse games. This week, there are three--Barbie Horse Adventures: Riding Camp, Ener-G Horse Riders, and Petz: Horsez 2008. Three.
As it would turn out, Ubisoft has more in its stable than two of those aforementioned horse games. The hardcore gaming set will be pleased to know that Far Cry 2 will also trot to retail this week. A pseudo-sequel to Crytek's hit 2004 shooter of the same name, the Ubisoft Montreal-developed Far Cry 2 eschews its predecessor's tropical jungle in favor of the war-ravaged African plains--about 50 square kilometers of terrain, as the developers have touted. Far Cry 2 will retail for $49.99 for the PC and $59.99 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Perhaps just shy of Epic Games' Gears of War 2, Lionhead Studios' Fable II bears the distinction of being one of the most anticipated Xbox 360 exclusives that is slated to arrive in 2008. Molyneux, known for his sometimes-errant promises, assures gamers that the latest installment in his studio's open-ended action role-playing game will be 10 times larger than the 2004 Xbox original. One of those in-question promises, online co-op, appeared as if it would result in another case of Molyneux being Molyneux, but Microsoft said today that it will be patching the feature into the game on day one.
Be it a toy or a game, Nintendo's Wii Music headlines the week for Wii releases. The product includes roughly 50 standards and licensed songs that can be played on more than 60 instruments, which are mimicked via the motion-sensing Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Nintendo has yet to reveal the game's full setlist, though it has said a variety of classic game themes such as those from Super Mario Bros. and Zelda will join songs from a variety of genres, ranging from The Police's "Every Breath You Take" to Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik."
Sony's PS3 plays catch-up this week, as three critical hits arrive for the console after debuting on other platforms. The PS3 edition of Take-Two's BioShock will receive a number of enhancements over its Xbox 360 and PC counterparts, including new content and the harder-difficulty Survivor mode. Namco Bandai's Chopin-inspired musical role-playing game Eternal Sonata will also see expanded content over its Xbox 360 predecessor, including new characters, outfits, and quests. Lastly, the PS3 edition of Rock Band 2 follows on from the September release of the Xbox 360 game, debuting alongside the $189.99 special-edition bundle that includes the newly designed drum set, guitar, and mic.
One game that won't see a staggered release is Rockstar San Diego's Midnight Club: Los Angeles. Originally slated for earlier this year, Take-Two bumped the street racer a number of times in search of a "more favorable market window," delaying it from September to early October, and then once more to late October. A PSP edition, titled Midnight Club: LA Remix, also arrives, bringing with it both a pared-down version of the sprawling LA cityscape seen in the console games as well as a few tracks set in Tokyo.
On the massively multiconsole front, Activision Blizzard's The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon will arrive on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, and Nintendo DS. The game was one of the few that survived Activision's culling of Vivendi Games' properties following the two companies' merger in July. Activision Blizzard will be hitting the same platforms with Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, a comic-inspired, non-film tie-in that sees Spidey fending off a symbiote horde spawned by archrival Venom.
Two notable Japanese-created properties arrive for portables this week. From Konami comes Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia on the DS. Rather than picking back up with a new member of the Belmont clan, Order of Ecclesia sees femme-fatale Shonoa fending off Dracula's minions. While the first outing for the series on the PSP, Square Enix and Tri-Ace's Star Ocean: First Departure is actually a redux of the Super Famicom original. Of primary note, the sci-fi RPG includes revamped cinematics and voice work over its 1996 antecedent.
Lastly, the console makers have a fresh slate of new content penciled in for their respective online stores. For the Wii, Tetris Online's Tetris World (1,200 Wii points, $12) provides a new twist to the seminal Russian puzzler, incorporating the Wii Balance Board. Also added to Nintendo's WiiWare today is The Incredible Maze (500 Wii points, $5), Digital Leisure's puzzle game in which players attempt to find their ways out of, yep, mazes.
Headlining Microsoft's Xbox Live efforts this week is Valve's Portal: Still Alive. An expanded version of the first-person puzzler which made it into--and arguably made--last year's The Orange Box, Still Alive includes the original game plus 14 XBLA-exclusive maps and six additional challenge levels. The game is available for 1,200 Microsoft points ($15). Sony had not revealed its plans for the PlayStation Network as of press time.
One notable absence from this week's release list is Sony's much-anticipated platformer Little Big Planet. Originally scheduled for release this week, the Media Molecule-developed game saw an 11th-hour delay after two verses from the Qur'an were discovered in one of the game's background music tracks. Subsequently, Sony revised Little Big Planet's ship date to the week of October 27.
This week's new releases are listed below (list taken from retailer information--actual dates may vary).
OCTOBER 19, 2008
Rock Band 2 (PS3)
OCTOBER 20, 2008
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader: Make the Grade (Wii, DS)
Back at the Barnyard: Slop Bucket Games (DS)
Bully: Scholarship Edition (PC)
Carnival Games: Mini-Golf (Wii)
Celebrity Sports Showdown (Wii)
Dead Space (PC)
Deer Hunter Tournament (PC)
Littlest Pet Shop (PC)
Lovely Lisa (DS)
Midnight Club: LA Remix (PSP)
Midnight Club: Los Angeles (X360, PS3)
Monopoly (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii)
NHL 09 (PS2, PC)
Pass the Pigs (DS)
Penny Racers Party: Turbo Q Speedway (Wii)
Rock University Presents: The Naked Brothers Band The Game (PS2, Wii, DS)
SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom (Wii, DS, PS2)
Tetris Party (WiiWare)
Wii Music (Wii)
OCTOBER 21, 2008
Away: Shuffle Dungeon (DS)
Barbie Horse Adventures: Riding Camp (PS2, Wii, DS)
Brain Training for Dummies (PC)
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS)
Circus Games (Wii)
Crash Bandicoot: Mind Over Mutant (PSP)
Dance Dance Revolution Universe 3 (X360)
Dancing With the Stars: We Dance! (Wii, DS)
Disney Fairies: Tinker Bell (DS)
Disney Sing It (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii)
Disney TH!NK Fast (Wii)
Ener-G Dance Squad (DS)
Ener-G Gym Rockets (DS)
Ener-G Horse Riders (DS)
Eternal Sonata (PS3)
Europa Universalis III Complete (PC)
EverQuest: Seeds of Destruction (PC)
Fable II (X360)
Far Cry 2 (X360, PS3, PC)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year DANCE! (Wii, DS)
Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009 (Wii)
The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS)
Master of the Monster Lair (DS)
Mechanic Master (DS)
Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 (Wii)
Pet Pals Animal Doctor (Wii)
Petz: Horsez 2008 (Wii)
Petz Rescue Wildlife Vet (Wii)
Petz: Saddle Club (PSP)
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (X360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS)
Star Ocean: First Departure (PSP)
TouchMaster 2 (DS)
Transformers: Animated (DS)
What's Cooking with Jamie Oliver (DS)
OCTOBER 22, 2008
Portal: Still Alive (XBLA)