Fall 2011 Videogame Preview: Key Upcoming Releases

  • Comments: ↓ 10 user comments
  • Publish Date: September 13, 2011

Below, we look at the top games expected to arrive before the end of the year, listed in date order. Click on any platform icon next to a game title to go to the platform-specific page for that game.

September 20

Gears of War 3 360 Watch Trailers

2008's Gears of War 2 scored a 93, while the original Gears of War managed a 94. So it's safe to say that expectations are high for the concluding chapter in Epic Games' trilogy of third-person shooters pitting humanity's last remaining survivors against the evil Locust Horde (and new, even more powerful Lambent enemies) on the planet Sera. Picking up ten months after the previous installment, Gears of War 3 introduces a four-player co-op mode to the series, and also adds a "Beast" mode that allows you to play as the Locust and defeat those pesky humans once and for all.

Also:

  • Resident Evil 4 HD 360 PS3 is a high-definition remaster of the 2005 survival-horror classic, available via Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

September 27

The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection PS3

A pair of the PlayStation 2's better games, ICO 90 and Shadow of the Colossus 91, come to the PS3 for the first time in this collection. While gameplay—which combines action, adventure, and puzzle elements—remains the same, both titles have been remastered in high definition, with support for 3D as well. Next year, Team Ico returns with The Last Guardian, an unofficial sequel which will share thematic and stylistic similarities with its two predecessors.

Also:

  • FIFA Soccer 12 360 PS3 PC Wii 3DS PSP This annual update of EA's soccer title adds a new physics engine, tactical defending, an overhauled career mode, and more.
  • X-Men: Destiny 360 PS3 Wii Wii Activision's action-RPG set in the X-Men universe has players taking on the role of one of three rookie mutants who must work his way up the superhero ranks.

October 4

Dark Souls 360 PS3 Watch Trailers

Be prepared to die, early and often. A spiritual successor (though not an official sequel) to the 2009 PS3 title Demon's Souls 89, the action-RPG Dark Souls is set in a terrifying open-world dungeon environment that aims to be bigger, deeper, and much more challenging than that of its predecessor. (Anyone who remembers how punishing the first game was might find that hard to believe, but reviewers who played early versions of the new game have confirmed its difficulty.) Don't expect any DLC, but that shouldn't be a problem for a game that promises at least 50 hours of gameplay out of the box.

Rage 360 PS3 PC Watch Trailers

After an asteroid strikes earth in 2029, wiping out most of the population, the few remaining human inhabitants band together in what's left of the world for survival. With its blend of first-person shooter, racing, and RPG elements, and a post-apocalyptic, open world wasteland setting inhabited by mutants, Rage certainly recalls games like Borderlands and the Fallout series (as well as movies like Mad Max), though it comes from legendary Doom/Quake creators id Software, who have a few new tricks up their sleeves—and, more importantly, a new game engine. Plus, it appears to be Jesse Pinkman's favorite game (though don't expect to be able to play with a motion-controlled light gun like he does on Breaking Bad).

Also:

  • NBA 2K12 360 PS3 PC Wii PSP will let you play the 2011-12 NBA season even if the lockout prevents it from happening in real life (though the labor dispute means that rookies are not included in this year's game). A new mode adds 15 all-time greats like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
  • Spider-Man: Edge of Time 360 PS3 Wii 3DS 3DS Shattered Dimensions developers Beenox return with a new action-adventure that has players controlling both the Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099, who must unite across time to prevent the premature death of Peter Parker.

October 11

Forza Motorsport 4 360 Watch Trailers

The 360's top sim racing series returns with a follow-up to 2009's acclaimed Forza Motorsport 3 92. Players of that game will be able to import their profiles into the new version, which adds Kinect support, 16-player online racing, and a tie in with the BBC's Top Gear series (including commentary from the show's Jeremy Clarkson and the ability to race on the Top Gear test track). Choose from hundreds of impressively detailed automobiles, including new additions ranging from a 2011 Tesla Roadster to a Ford Mustang GT Coupe 1965.

Also:

  • Just Dance 3 360 PS3 Wii The previously Wii-only music game series seeks a broader audience with its latest version, which allows up to four players to dance together to songs from the past four decades.

October 18

Batman: Arkham City 360 PS3 PC Watch Trailers

While great games based on movies are almost nonexistent, it is actually possible to create a terrific videogame using a comic book as the source. For an example, look no further than 2009's stellar action title Batman: Arkham Asylum 92. Can developer Rocksteady Studios strike gold again with the sequel Arkham City? It's certainly possible. Taking place a year later, the new game is reportedly five times the size of the original, with up to 40 hours of gameplay and plenty of new gadgets and capabilities to utilize. It also adds Catwoman as a playable character, with her own storyline interwoven with Batman's at various points throughout the game. While many characters from the Batman universe (like Joker and Riddler) return from the previous title, you can also expect to see newcomers like the Penguin, Two-Face, and Calendar Man, while Bane is back as friend, not foe.

Also:

  • Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One PS3 is a four-player co-op adventure that marks the tenth title in the quirky and creative Ratchet & Clank series; you can play as Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, or the evil Dr. Nefarious.

October 25

Battlefield 3 360 PS3 PC Watch Trailers

Prepare for an all-out war this fall as the latest installment in EA's Battlefield series clashes with a new Modern Warfare title for modern combat game supremacy. With an October 25 release date, Battlefield 3 (a direct sequel to 2005's PC hit Battlefield 2 91) gets a two-week head start on its bigger rival, and also features a newer engine than MW3 (though it still has a lesser framerate), which creates moments of massive, beautiful destruction. The single-player campaign takes place near the Iraq-Iran border, while multiplayer maps include urban areas like Paris, New York, and Tehran, as well as more remote settings that allow more room for your vehicles. Speaking of multiplayer, the PC version of BF3 will support up to 64 simultaneous players. Thus, while we probably won't know the console winner of this battle-game battle until November, owners of tricked-out PCs are probably already leaning this way.

Also:

  • Dance Central 2 360 The best launch title available for Microsoft's Kinect last year gets a quick sequel with 40 new songs (you can also import your favorites from the first game) and a pair of new simultaneous two-player modes that allow you to dance with or against a friend.
  • Kirby's Return to Dream Land Wii This traditional side-scrolling platformer was originally set to be a GameCube release back in 2005, though the delay allowed for such additions as a four-player co-op mode.

November 1

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception PS3 Watch Trailers

You want high expectations? Only one PS3 game in history (Grand Theft Auto IV) has a higher Metascore than 2009's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves 96, thanks in part to a rich storyline and cinema-worthy graphics that put most games and some movies (we're looking at you, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) to shame. In his latest adventure, treasure hunter Nathan Drake explores the Arabian desert in search of the mythical lost city Iram of the Pillars, with plot elements borrowed from the early archaeological explorations of T. E. Lawrence (whose later military exploits helped earned him greater fame as "Lawrence of Arabia"). Uncharted 3 adds 3D support, new stealth options, and a more refined multiplayer system, while coming close to maxing out the capacity of a single Blu-ray disc. If you don't already own a PS3, you may want one come November.

Also:

  • The Lord of the Rings: War in the North 360 PS3 PC Battle Sauron's forces as a human, elf, or dwarf in this violent RPG set in the Middle-earth of Peter Jackson's film trilogy, which offers both single- and multi-player modes.
  • Sonic Generations 360 PS3 Released in honor of the iconic hedgehog's 20th anniversary, Generations combines levels taken from Sonic titles throughout the past two decades, with a combination of side-scrolling and 2D/3D gameplay. A very different Nintendo 3DS version is also coming, though there is no firm release date.

November 8

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 360 PS3 PC Wii Watch Trailers

What does Modern Warfare 3 have that Battlefield 3 doesn't? For starters, how about 20 million fans, or the number who purchased Modern Warfare 2. (And don't forget last year's Call of Duty title, Black Ops, which stands as the best-selling game of all time.) The single-player campaign (which, admittedly, is probably not the reason you're buying the game) focuses on Russia's continued invasion of the United States (including New York City), and new incursion into Western Europe. Meanwhile, MW3's sure-to-be-popular multiplayer modes will include a new "survival"-style co-op mode, while competitive multiplayer will feature revamped killstreaks and rankings. Even Wii owners can get in on the action this time. There is a catch, however. A legal dispute between publisher Activision and developer Infinity Ward resulted in the departure of many of the latter's key employees, resulting in two additional studios (Sledgehammer Games and Raven Software) being brought in to help finish the game in time for its November release; whether that adversely impacts the look and feel of MW3 remains to be seen.

November 11

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 360 PS3 PC Watch Trailer

This is one big game. The epic, highly-anticipated sequel to 2006's PC game of the year (Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 94) moves the action ahead 200 years to the fictitious, dragon-infested Nordic land of Skyrim, which you must save from destruction. Bethesda's latest open-world fantasy-RPG will also feature an overhauled combat system (including, among other things, the ability to dual-wield weapons), a new leveling system, an incredibly detailed mythology, and improved graphics, among a host of new features. The developers have also promised over 200 hours of content, adding to most fans' suspicions that what we have here, at minimum, is the year's best RPG.

November 15

Assassin's Creed: Revelations 360 PS3 PC Watch Trailers

The fourth main installment in the Assassin's Creed series of open-world but story-driven adventures is the last to be set during the Renaissance, and it will conclude the story of Ezio Auditore while also bringing back the other two protagonists (Altaïr and Desmond) from the prior chapters. Though AC's bread and butter has always been single player, in Revelations, online multiplayer takes a bigger role, and, as you level up, more of the backstory of the Templars and Assassins is revealed.

Saints Row: The Third 360 PS3 PC Watch Trailers

Is the third time the charm for this completely over-the-top, sandbox-style gang warfare franchise? The first two titles in the series received good-but-not-great Metascores of 81, but The Third looks to shed its GTA-wannabe status once and for all by taking the action to a new level of extreme political incorrectness and all-around insanity, appealing to the sadist inside every gamer. Few other games reward you for intentionally getting run over by a semi truck; fewer still allow you to attack your enemies with octopi, a sex toy, or a Manapult (which is pretty much what you think it is). It's not subtle, but calling in an air strike against a target rarely is.

Also:

  • Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary 360 Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Halo by buying it all over again; new online co-op, a "best-of" map bundle, and improved graphics provide added incentives to do so.
  • Jurassic Park: The Game 360 is an episodic downloadable title from adventure masters Telltale Games, who recently had some success adapting another classic movie (Back to the Future).
  • Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Wii finds your favorite Sega and Nintendo characters competing in minigames as well as official Olympic events, including, for the first time, soccer and canoeing; expect a 3DS version early next year.
  • Need For Speed: The Run 360 PS3 PC Wii 3DS asks players to elude the cops while competing in a Cannonball Run-style illegal cross-country road race from San Francisco to New York.
  • Nov. 13 Super Mario 3D Land 3DS is one of the rare major 3DS titles that isn't a port of an existing game; this new platformer blends 2D and 3D gameplay elements and comes from the development team responsible for the acclaimed Super Mario Galaxy titles.
  • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 360 PS3 is an update of February's Fate of Two Worlds that adds a dozen new playable fighters, including Ghost Rider and Phoenix Wright (who presumably does more than threaten legal action against his opponents).

November 20

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Wii Watch Trailers

It's likely to be the last good game for the Wii. With a new console (Wii U) due in 2012, Nintendo has slowed development for its current generation system, meaning that this prequel to 1998's Ocarina of Time is likely the last major title we'll see. The previous Wii Zelda title, Twilight Princess 95, was a hit; Skyward Sword, which makes use of the MotionPlus controller for much more precise swordfighting, should be one as well. And all early versions will include a free copy of The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert CD containing music from throughout the series.

The wild cards

The following games do not have confirmed release dates, but could surface in the last few months of 2011.

Diablo III PC Watch Trailer

Currently in a closed friends and family beta, Diablo III is getting closer to an official release; whether that happens before the year is up is still likely but not yet confirmed. Blizzard's bloody, dark fantasy hack-and-slash RPG comes over a decade after the initial release of Diablo II 88, and, like that game, will emphasize multiplayer via the Battle.net service, though with greater player vs. player capabilities. Character classes this time include Monk, Barbarian, Wizard, Demon Hunter, and Witch Doctor, the previous game's skill point system has been ditched, and a new "Inferno" setting offers a challenge for even maxed-out elite players. You can also expect an online auction house where you can sell anything you find in the game for real world money.

Star Wars: The Old Republic PC Watch Trailers

Jedi or Sith? That's your call to make in this upcoming story-driven MMORPG—set an even longer time ago in the Star Wars universe—which is very tentatively scheduled for a release in late 2011. Sure, we know better than to let our expectations get out of hand for a Star Wars game. Still, with BioWare (Mass Effect, Dragon Age) as developer, a personal spaceship for every player, plenty of opportunities for space and ground combat (in co-op teams, or player vs. player) between the dueling Republic and Empire factions, and dozens of planets from Tatooine to Alderaan, the force could be strong with this one.

What do you think?

Which games are you looking forward to this fall? Let us know in the comments section below. You can also predict which game will receive the best reviews:

Comments (10)

  • MaxOpower  

    Soooo many great games this year. I have all ready made my top 12, but still soooo many great games to come. I will end up having GOTY candidates at place 8.

  • 06Morrow  

    I know games are getting better all the time, but including Portal 2 and L.A. Noire, this may be the best year in gaming history. Not too excited about Dark Souls and never truly got into battlefield series, but I'm sure they'll be good. Rage could be a dark horse that may prove to be better than Fallout 3. It's too hard to call GOTY but i think it's between Skyrim, Gears, Uncharted and Portal

  • Doc0075  

    What a great selection of games after a long barren summer. I reckon Skyrim as a no-brainer for game of the year but am looking forward to the PC version of Battlefield 3 plus Rage looks like it could be something special.

  • PlutoniumTiger  

    Skyrim hands down.

  • Funkymonk  

    I agree with 06Morrow. This is shaping up to be one of the best years EVER for games. We've already had Portal 2, Deus Ex, Dead Space 2, Little Big Planet 2 to name a few and it would be a major surprise if Uncharted 2 and Skyrim didn't turn out to be all time classics.

  • bob11  

    mass effect 3....

  • hokester81  

    Elder Scrolls: Skyrim will be the best of all the big releases this year I feel, but I'm expecting Uncharted 3 to surprise everyone in the amount of units it's able to sell-It's not going to beat BattleField 3 or ModWarfare 3, but it's going to really move some product. I think it's the best 3rd-person shooter ever created, and that's pitting it against Gears 3. Now, I know that's probably not the popular opinion, but I've never played a game that me feel like I do when I'm vaulting up mountains or climbing up thru a dangling train box car car crash in Uncharted!

  • ThePizzaman100  

    this is going to be the tightest game of the year race in gaming history. i mean its going to be between portal 2, uncharted 3, skyrim, batman arkham city, skyward sword and maybe gears 3. never seen even close to as many great games come out in such a small amount of time. i personally cant wait for skyrim though, going to be the greatest rpg ever.

  • galathemes  

    Wao ! awesome post , i like it very much magento themes

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