By now, you probably don’t need to be reminded that we’re in the middle of the holiday release season. (Your smoldering or about-to-be-smoldering bank account is probably enough reminder of that.) You can tell the storm’s reaching its peak when a new Call of Duty shows up, though. That is this week. Hold onto something while we go over that and some other stuff coming out.
First off: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the conclusion to the trilogy started way back in 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, developed by Infinity Ward and accompanied this time by their Activision compatriots, Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software. There’s not much that needs to be said about Call of Duty games at this point; the series is so enormous and far-reaching that there’s a good chance you have at least a glimmer of an idea of what to expect, even if you’ve never played one of them. If you have played it, you’ve probably already made up your mind over whether or not you’ll be answering this year’s call.
Although I have vivid memories of my Modern Warfare 2: Hardened Edition showing up at my door on 11.10.09, I’m not going to have a repeat experience this year. That is–I plan to wait a few months before giving it a go. I’m a big fan of MW2 and while it sounds like Infinity Ward’s made some thoughtful refinements to their famous multiplayer gameplay that I’m very curious to try out–from Strike Packages, which let players select different ways to earn those infamous killstreak rewards, to weapon proficiencies and the new Kill Confirmed mode–I don’t have to be in on day one this year. Part of that was because I’d like to wait to see how the game compares to previous Call of Duties (Calls of Duty?), especially after the controversy following Modern Warfare 2’s release left me uncertain of whether the new Infinity Ward can deliver. (Early reports are positive, to my relief.) The other part is because I’m already trying to play Battlefield 3 on two platforms! I think my FPS plate is full at the moment.
Speaking of avoiding Modern Warfare, Mojang Bethesda’s opted for an unusual Friday release for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim–possibly so their fans won’t be subjected to the swarming masses flooding retailers today, although more likely because of the cool 11.11.11 release date. Like Call of Duty, the Elder Scrolls is another series that needs little introduction, but just in case: expect to spend hundreds of hours in a vast fantasy world, completing quests, slaying dragons, or just generally futzing around, either exploring or causing trouble. Although I had a terrible experience with the previous Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion (and it was hardly game-related–the stupid thing just wouldn’t run for more than five minutes), Skyrim looks like something I could seriously get into. Before committing to it, however, I’m going to wait for a verdict on whether this is going to be another exercise in troubleshooting.
For more classical tastes, Konami has generously packaged three classic Metal Gear Solid games–MGS2, MGS3, and MGS: Peace Walker–into the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, available for both PS3 and–shock!–360. It comes with all the standard visual and audio updates, but particularly noteworthy is the inclusion of Peace Walker, the PSP game that was originally supposed to be called Metal Gear Solid 5. After complaints about the awkward camera controls in his previous PSP game, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, series creator Hideo Kojima added an unorthodox control scheme for the PSP edition of Peace Walker. While it did a fair job of replicating a dual-stick experience on the PSP, I still found it pretty awkward and have no qualms about ditching the small screen for a shiny, new HD version and a real controller. For me, being able to continue the MGS series on a console is worth the price of admission alone, so the fact that the set also includes enhanced versions of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3–the latter being my favorite PlayStation 2 game–just makes it that much better.
And let’s not forget the little guys this week: Cave Story 3D is out for the 3DS, in case you haven’t tried it on the PC (for free!), the Wii, or the DS yet, you can now get your 2D, pixely platforming fix in glasses-free 3D.
And finally, there’s “Where-Is-My-Heart?”, a quirky-looking game from German developer Die Gute Fabrik. This one is a little unusual because it’s being released to PlayStation Plus subscribers for free today and then will be available to the rest of the PlayStation Network on November 22nd. I’ll probably talk more about it then, so for now I highly recommend you watch the trailer.
Have you picked a side between Modern Warfare and Skyrim, or are you staying neutral? Let us know that and your favorite Metal Gear game in the comments.
For a full list of this week’s releases, check out Amazon.com.