It’s Labor Day here in the US, which means everyone gets the day off to, you know, not labor. But it’s also one of the more enjoyable holidays because everyone barbeques their asses off knowing that the summer is quickly coming to a close. Of course, the end of summer means one thing in the games industry — an onslaught of games between now and the week before Christmas in a unified attempt to drive gamers everywhere that much closer to bankruptcy.
Like so many years before it, this year’s holiday window of games promises to offer awesomeness that you’ll be talking about into next year. In a bit of a twist, though, we’ve already had some legitimate Game of the Year contenders in the first half of 2010 alone. The year came to a roaring start when Mass Effect 2 released in January, the dark second chapter that made every possible gameplay improvement over the already-stellar original. God of War III took no prisoners when it released in March, with its tried-and-true action gameplay and jaw-dropping sense of scale. And in May, Rockstar released Red Dead Redemption, an Old West tale on par with some of the best spaghetti westerns … and hunting bears and cougars didn’t hurt, either.
So the bar is set pretty high. In the next few months, here are ten (Ten!) games, in chronological order, that show the potential to take those front runners out and steal Game of the Year honors.
Halo. You may or may not have heard of it. Hype for this game is high, with the game coming out next week. You know what? It seems that it may be justified.
We’ve already told you one major reason we think it has the potential to be a key release in this entire generation of games: the beefed-up Forge mode. In Halo 3 players were able to modify not only maps, but create entirely new ways to play. Think of something you’d love to do with your friends in a Halo game, then jump into Forge and get it done. This time around Bungie have made it easier than ever, so expect even more, even better modes and maps a few weeks (or even days) after Reach ships.
Oh, and Bungie. It’s no secret that Reach will be their last Halo game before they move onto whatever mystery game they’re making for Activision. While ODST was a little disappointing (minus the excellent Firefight mode), you’d better believe that they’ve put everything they’ve got to make this game sparkle. After all, even though Microsoft owns the Halo IP, we all know this is Bungie’s baby. It’s the game that not only solidified console FPSs as a viable genre, but also ushered in an era of online gameplay.
You’re damn right we’re excited for this.
Medal of Honor
Now this is some modern warfare we can get behind. While people can say EA is jumping on the bandwagon, they’re definitely not half-assing it.
The biggest reason to get excited for this is that the multiplayer side of things is being done by none other than the super-talented Swedes over at DICE. If you’re on our forums any amount of time, you’ll know that they’re responsible for some good times via Battlefield: Bad Company 2. And if you spent any amount of time playing the beta after E3, you already know that the groundwork is there for a damn fine time.
Of course, we can’t get through this entry without going into a little detail about the series’ first foray into the present day. We already know that this game will be taking place in Afghanistan, where you’ll be playing the part of some elite special forces. Of course, this setting makes for some interesting multiplayer matchups — the kind that get all of that fun “videogames are teh devil lolz” attention that we all know and love. The controversy surrounding the ability to play as the Taliban have created all sorts of buzz around the game, and while it’s not an aspect the developers were hoping would get the most attention, it’s definitely attention they can turn around to get people to actually PLAY the game.
How impressed will we be when it ships? We’ll see when this ships in October.
Fallout: New Vegas
With Fallout 3, Bethesda squashed the anxiety that Fallout fans felt with giving their beloved RPG franchise a new developer, but also an entirely new gameplay direction. Gone was the isometric, top-down view and turn-based combat. In its place was a first- and third-person, free-roaming, real-time wasteland. Not only was it a worthy entry into a storied franchise, it won several Game of the Year awards.
Fast-forward two years later and we’re on the same boat. While the gameplay is similar to Fallout 3, fans are again nervous about New Vegas being handed off to a different developer, in this case Obsidian Entertainment. We’re not sure this is totally fair. While we’ll admit Alpha Protocol didn’t reach the potential it had, they’re still responsible for fine RPGs as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and Neverwinter Nights 2.