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The Other 25:
The OTHER Games I’m Looking Forward to...
Written By:
J. Michael Neal

Part Three

So many games, so little time to follow them all. That’s where lifeless geeks like myself come in – I’m here to comb through piles of over-hyped super releases to find the hidden gems that may go unnoticed while everyone’s cramming down bucket-loads of Madden and Halo 2. See what golden nuggets of tasty gaming goodness Part Three brings…

 

Killer 7

Why I’m Excited: As you may have gathered, I’m a big style fan. Style alone can’t carry a game, just ask Gungrave, but it can sure go a long way. Killer 7 looks like one of those rare breeds of games, like Jet Set Radio Future, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, or Kung Fu Chaos before it, that’s 90% presentation and 10% gameplay. Even from the videos the gameplay looks cumbersome and unintuitive, but the story, the character design, the captivating visual style, and the sheer only-in-Japan weirdness of it all just begs to be played. This just looks like one of those games that, even if it gets panned in the reviews, I’ll want to play for myself and come to my own decisions about it’s merit.

Why It May Go Unnoticed: Well, there’s still the chance Capcom can really screw it up (*cough cough* P.N. 03). That could definitely kill a game’s appeal, but I have a feeling it will go unnoticed more for being one of those games that’s just too weird for it’s own good. I mean come on, this game has been covered for what feels like forever, and I can still barely wrap my head around the plot…

System: PS2, GC.

 

Kingdom Under Fire: the Crusaders

Why I’m Excited: Take one part Braveheart, one part Dynasty Warriors, a touch of Medieval: Total War, and just a dash of The Battle of Pelennor Fields, bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, and you’ll end up with something that looks hella like Kingdom Under Fire: the Crusaders, the action-filled console sequel to G.O.D. Game’s fantasy/RTS PC game. It’ll mix story-driven role-playing and light real-time strategy with a heavy dose of hack-and-slashing, plus new downloadable maps via Xbox Live. Sign me up!

Why It May Go Unnoticed: Frankly, this game just looks too damn good for such an under the radar title. There has to be a catch, and if there isn’t, that’s still what the majority of the gaming populous will probably be thinking. It doesn’t feature Xbox Live multiplayer, so that’s already a strike against it in the eyes of the public, it’s based off a franchise that barely made a name for itself among RTS enthusiasts, much less made a splash outside the PC world, and we all know how popular strategy games are among console gamers. There’s a chance that it’s $39.99 price tag may woe fence-riders, but in the end, I see this one heading to the bargain bins no matter how much it lives up to it’s promises.

System: Xbox.

 

Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude

Why I’m Excited: Uh-huh-huh-huh-huh… boobs… Seriously though, Magna Cum Laude looks like one of those rare games that actually succeeds in trying to be funny. I’ve found myself laughing just at screenshots and clips – I can imagine the full game is a riot. A truly funny game is always a welcomed thing. Plus, Magna Cum Laude looks just as fun to play. It has been turned into a “platformer/graphic adventure hybrid” similar to Beyond Good & Evil (but, you know, without the fighting and monsters and stuff), with lots of quirky mini-games to keep things interesting and an interactive, real-time conversation system that promises to be fun, funny, and challenging.

Why It May Go Unnoticed: Although Larry made a splash during the late 80s and early 90s, most gamers today were too young to enjoy its good-natured “adult” premise and gameplay. Hopefully, in the age of the rebirth of the “teen-sex comedy”, a game like Leisure Suit Larry can find an audience; but than again, even hybrid “graphic adventures” can’t seem to get a break, so I guess we’ll have to just wait and see…

Systems: Xbox, PS2, PC.

 

Mercenaries

Why I’m Excited: It’s a toss-up whether or not using the acronym “GTA” like an adjective helps, or harms, an upcoming release, but for Mercenaries, it’s certainly warranted. You play one of three mercenaries sent into a recently, even more destabilized, North Korea to “neutralize” 52 high-risk targets before one of them manages to deliver a nuclear payload to an enemy nation, i.e. every other country but North Korea itself. Once you get there, however, the rest if up to you. Want to play the three local factions (South Korea, the Russian Mafia, and China) against each other for as much dough as possible, a la A Fist Full of Dollars? Fine. Want to tackle your targets (represented in the “Personality Identification Playing Card” format the DoD has become quite infamous for) in any order you wish? Great. Want to just run around, jacking tanks, blowing up buildings, and gunning soldiers down in helicopters? Hey, that’s all right, too! It’s completely open-ended warfare, and who doesn’t want a piece of that?

Why It May Go Unnoticed: Even a really, really good GTA-clone is going to have a hard time getting any attention whatsoever with His Holiness San Andreas right around the bend. Hopefully, since San Andreas will have a few months’ head start before Mercenaries is released it won’t be a problem; but considering how much depth Rockstar’s pouring into its latest assault on national productivity, even I might step on Pandemic’s neck to get to the Golden State…

Systems: Xbox, PS2.

 

The Movies

Why I’m Excited: Meet Peter Molyneux. Peter Molyneux is insane. The good kind of insane. The kind of insane that makes him propose game ideas so ludicrously ambitious you have to feel sorry for his programmers. To date, he’s never wavered on his promises, but his most ambitious ideas have yet to be tested. The Movies is one of them. This “everything game” has you taking the helm of a movie studio at the dawn of Hollywood and commanding it on through the modern age. You’ll oversee everything from the physical construction of the studio, to contracting stars, to hiring and firing maintenance workers. Don’t think this is going to be just another micro-management heavy sim, however. This is a Hollywood studio we are talking about here! You’ll also get to act as writer, director, and producer on the films your company releases, controlling the very lowest level of production, from cast to dealing with unions to editing to marketing! And to stem the learning curve, Molyneux promises that you can handle as much or as little of the nitty-gritty as you wish. Want to just focus on the layout of your studio lot? Fine. How about just spending your time trying to be the next Scorsese, Spielberg, or heck, even McG? You can do that too! For movie buffs and budding movie moguls, this is as close as your going to get to running a movie studio without leveling your bedroom.

Why It May Go Unnoticed: What, with Fable stealing all the headlines, it’s easy to see why this Lionhead release is becoming the redheaded stepchild of Molyneux (Unity having done starved to death from neglect). I, for one, bought an Xbox all those years ago specifically for Fable – even a game as phenomenally cool as The Movies can’t compete with that. Besides, a game that sounds this good is bound to sell like crap, even if it does nail each and every promise. See also: Black and White.

Systems: PC, PS2, Xbox, GC.

<-- Part Two | Part Four -->

Posted: 9-2-04


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