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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Uncharted 3 Preview 2011 ImageThe Laser 2011 Fall Preview

After the traditional summer drought, the deluge of new titles that begins in the fall is finally upon gamers everywhere. This year’s lineup of new titles looks quite impressive from a number of standpoints. With the maturation of current consoles and the expertise this lends developers, gamers should be playing the deepest and most polished games this year to date. While this release is by no means complete, we’ve skipped over a few new games that have already received saturation coverage, in order to focus on the best ones you might miss, in order to help you discover some of the season’s most-promising titles.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Most gamers have probably written of the Wii by now, but this under-estimates the power of Zelda. This will probably be one of the best games in the series, and probably the only one specifically designed to take advantage of the Wiimote’s special abilities. Its looking like a mix between the cartoony feel of the earlier games like Ocarina of Time with a touch of the realism that made Twilight Princess so appealing. Nintendo fans have been waiting a long time for a new Zelda, but this installment is definitely worth it. 

Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection (PS3)

Even though The Last Guardian has been delayed indefinitely, a consolation prize in the form of this collection will arrive to placate anxious games. For hardcore games, this pair of PS2 titles needs no introduction. Both of Team Ico’s brilliant games brought a unique, artistic design aesthetic to the adventure genre. Their unique, dream-like aesthetic and surreal storylines brought gamers into an entirely new world. Both of them offered some of the most unique experiences on consoles from the last generation. These editions include fully remastered, HD versions of the games along with numerous extras such as commentary and more. For those who loved the original games, this is a chance to relive them in a glorious new visual presentation, while those who missed out are in for an inspirational experience this fall. 

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (Multi)

Last year’s Brotherhood brought us a new character named Ezio and this installment should further add to his backstory and reveal hidden connections to the earlier main character, Altair. Players will once again traverse the ancient world in search of the mysteries of the Templars and this journey looks to add several enhancements to the gameplay, which should make Revelations a great title. However, many gamers are complaining that Ubisoft seems to have fallen into the watered-down yearly update trap, so we’ll have to see.

Rayman: Origins (Multi)

Before Altair became Ubi’s defacto mascot, the limbless character was the main thrust of Ubisoft. Unfortunately, the Rayman franchise got bogged down in spin-offs and sidequests and ill-fated excursions into 3D. It looks set to change in a big way as Rayman Origins has set a patch squarely back to the franchise’s glory days of lush 2D backgrounds and gameplay, It looks bright and colorful, maintaining the classic series feel and style. While older games will definitely want to check it out, younger players who loved New Super Mario Bros. should also give the franchise a chance.

Forza Motorsport 4 (Xbox 360)

This year’s big racing game is likely to be Forza 4, the most ambitious title in the franchise to date. As you’d expect, it will have tons of vehicles and licenses, but the addition of Top Gear should add some interesting modes of play. Most innovative will be the ability to drive using the Kinect free-hands device. Will this be a gimmick or something truly revolutionary? Players will have to wait and see.

Sonic Generations (Multi)

There’s little doubt that Sega’s spiky, spunky blue hedgehog has seen his share of ups and downs over the years, but the latest game in the long running franchise might be worth checking out. This one seems to take the best elements of both his classic 2D Genesis games and the later 3D ones to combine for an interesting approach. This could be a well-deserved comeback for the iconic character, celebrating his 20th anniversary in fine style this year.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (Multi)

For those unitiated with the series, Konami brings a trio of Kojima’s classic titles into full high-definition this year: MGS 2, MGS 3 and Peace Walker from the PSP. These games probably need no introduction, but it will be interesting to see some of the classic scenes reinvigorated in full high definition. Konami is also promising extra features and content for these releases, in order to make them irresistible for hardcore MGS fans.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)

While numerous other franchises are set to return, none seem to have matched the anticipation of Naughty Dog’s third Uncharted game. With main character Nathan Drake once again facing dangerous situations, in epic settings with enemies around every corner, this looks to deliver a high-impact experience. Given the numerous awards garnered by Uncharted 2, expectations for the newest title in the franchise are quite high, though in this case they’re likely to be met.

FIFA 12 (Multi)

EA’s soccer franchise continues to evolve with each installment, with the past few years showing the series breaking out from competition. This year’s edition features the usual assortment of licensed teams and club leagues, but also offers new online enhancements and other new features. Once you get on the pitch, the biggest change will be the new Player impact engine, which should make the game’s even more realistic and physical. FIFA will also include smarter AI, more realistic injuries and better dribbling mechanics.

Need for Speed: The Run (Multi)

After last year’s brilliant Hot Pursuit, EA’s long-running franchise takes another detour into a completely different direction. This time around, you’re on a cross-country race across the
USA while pursued by cops. The twist this time revolves around your ability to jump out of the car and perform QTE’s between races. While the effectiveness of this approach remains to be seen, it should be an interesting experiment.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3)

The long-running plartform franchise returns to the PS3 yet again. This time, the big change appears to be the addition of co-op multiplayer play (together with friends or online), which lets up to 4 players battle it out at the same time. Given the high-quality and polish seen in previous installments, this should be one of the most entertaining games in the franchise to date. Its interesting to see how this upstart franchise seems to have delivered more consistently than some veteran games that seem stuck in permanent reverse. 

- Michael Palisano


> Other Games to Look out for this year include:

Batman: Arkham City (Multi)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Multi)
Battlefield 3 (Multi)
Dark Souls (Multi)
The Elder Scrolls V (Multi)
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)