Monday, August 07, 2006

The Games of Fall

Man, are we in a PC gaming malaise or what? Take a look at these scheduled releases for the rest of the year:
Darkstar One (8/14)
GTR 2 (9/1)
Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales (9/11)
Company of Heroes (9/11)
Caesar IV (9/26)
Just Cause (9/26)
Scarface (9/26)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (10/2)
Flight Simulator X (10/3)
Battlefield 2142 (10/10)
The Guild 2 (10/16)
Neverwinter Nights 2 (10/17)
Splinter Cell: Double Agent (10/17)
Sid Meier's Railroads (10/23)
Might and Magic : Dark Messiah (10/24)
Medieval II: Total War (11/14)
Star Trek: Legacy (11/14)
Gothic III (11/20)

I didn't include online games, and I weeded out expansion packs and the obscure titles (sorry, Pony LUV), but even with those exclusions, that's a really, really weak lineup compared to previous years. Not to mention that 1/3 to 1/2 of those games will get moved into next year and won't even ship this fall.

In past years, there was always a day in October where three of four AAA titles would come out in the same week. Huge titles. This year, there's nothing even remotely resembling that rush. I had to include a few games that I think could be sleeper hits (Darkstar One, Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales, The Guild 2) to even fill this list out!

Let's take a quick look at the possible sleepers.
--Darkstar One: a sci-fi game that generated a nice buzz upon its release in Europe. Don't expect Space Rangers 2 or GOTY, but it's got possibilities. Here's a link to Kieron Gillien's Eurogamer review: Darkstar One.

--Age of Pirates: Caribbean Tales: As far as I can tell, this is basically Sea Dogs II. How ironic would it be if three years after Sea Dogs II was hurriedly turned into Pirates of the Caribbean(and was so butchered it became known as Piece of Total Crap), that they get a do-over and the game becomes a hit?

I said this in 2003: if Sea Dogs II had been released as originally conceived, and hadn't been buggy, it could have been Game of the Year.

--The Guild 2: I've written about the Guild on many occasions. It was a brilliant, flawed masterpiece of a game, complex and unique and sometimes infuriating. Totally unforgettable. Here's hoping that the sequel gets released in better condition than the original. Here's a link to the website: The Guild 2.

I did see a full-page ad for the game in a recent issue of Computer Gaming World, so at least it's going to get some marketed in the U.S. this time.

Like I said back in April, it's entirely possible that the two best PC games of 2006 (Oblivion and Gal Civ 2) have already been released.

Hopefully Microsoft is serious about promoting PC gaming with Vista, because right now, we're in a relative wasteland.

The Xbox 360 fall releases, fortunately, are totally loaded. If you do that sort of thing.

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