You know, I’ve seen a lot of summers at this point, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that video game publishers generally don’t like to release things in the summer. It’s probably a matter of something like, oh, too many kids playing outside, or perhaps not enough gift-giving holidays in the season’s general proximity. Whatever it is, I’m used to the summer being a slow time, a time when I can catch up on games that I didn’t give a fair shake the first time around, on games for which my Gamerscore is a highly mockable, measly 5/1000 (Hello, GTA4).
Not this year.
This year, summer is a season of life, of flowers, of party games and shooters and the requisite movie tie-ins that usually make up the majority of the summer schedule, now relegated to the background in favor of triple-A releases given a chance to shine in the sparse desert of releases. Except that this year (or, at least, this week), it’s not even close to sparse.
How about a little love for Tom Hamilton, am I right?
Of course, my house will certainly end up with a copy of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, loathe as I am to admit it. Whether I buy it at full price ($59.99?!) now or wait until it gets a bit, oh, cheaper is another story. Hail to the Chimp looks to be a fantastic way to capitalize on election mania in party-game form, on the off-chance you’re not utterly sick of election mania yet. Battlefield: Bad Company is the one getting all of the advertising dollars, and the advertisements have me this close to buying it, though I’m still waiting for a sense of the buzz on it to make a final decision. Sports nuts get Top Spin 3, just in time for Wimbledon. And there’s even plenty for the kids, what with WALL-E making its way into homes tomorrow and even an American Girl game coming out for the PC this week. There is, in the most literal sense, something for everyone this week.
Of course, there’s nothing I could possibly be more psyched about this week than the upcoming release of Atari’s reimagination of the Alone in the Dark series. This is a series I’ve been playing since it originally appeared on the PC in…jeez, 1992, and none of the games have really approached the wonder of the first. Perhaps it’s because the original was the progenitor of the cinematic style that is the series’ trademark (using polygons instead of hand-drawnsprites was a pretty big idea at that point), and the rest couldn’t help but live in the shadow of the first’s definitive style and innovation, but it hasn’t quite been the same since the original adventure of Edward Carnby.
The new Carnby wields a mean sword.
The new, 2008 version of Alone in the Dark appears to be trying its darndest to follow in the footsteps of the original game’s innovation, but not in the graphical arena, given that graphics are sort of plateauing right now. No, this new Alone in the Dark has a gameplay innovation: it’s episodic, and in an interesting twist, players can play the episodes in whatever order their little hearts desire. Want a true blockbuster experience? Play it from beginning to end. Want to turn it into Memento? Play it in reverse. Want a Tarentino-esque experience? Play the middle episodes first. It doesn’t matter!
What would be interesting to see is just how many people play for a while starting at the beginning, eventually get frustrated, and skip to the end. Not that I ever would. No sir.
The full release list, and a trailer for Alone in the Dark, is after the break.