Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wii: What to Waggle From the Summer 'Till the End of '09

Did I truly purchase a Wii solely to play first-party titles? Not necessarily - I'll try anything that plays well, regardless of the company producing it. But just like the N64 and the GC before it, I'm having a perplexing time finding any third-party Wii games that grab my interest. My Wii library is proof of this - of the 8 Wii games I currently own, all are Nintendo published titles. I may have picked up a third-party release here or there, but ending up selling them off because they played like absolute rubbish (gimmicky, pitiful software like Elebits comes immediately to mind). And with Nintendo focusing more on their casual fans than their hardcore base, I'm thinking my Wii will collect far more dust than my otherwise daily-used Xbox 360.

For the rest of 2009, however, there are some titles being released that probably won't make my Wii completely lonely. Punch-Out!! (pictured above) may not be an immediate, $50 purchase, but it looks to be a blast from the past that may very well make its way into my library once the price takes a bit of a dip. Hopefully its old-school style gameplay will still hold up in our modern era, but according to recent feedback from gamers and critics it plays surprisingly well.

I also sold off my copies of Metroid Prime 1 and 3 this week after the announcement of Metroid Prime Trilogy from Nintendo. This disc, coming in August, will pack in all three of the console Metroid Prime titles on one disc for 50 bones. Although it may seem a bit premature to be re-releasing these games, they are indeed excellent, unique titles that are worth a second play through. The fact that I never played 2004's Metroid Prime 2 further sweetens an already tasty deal.

It sure is slim pickings from the big N other than those two major first-party properties, though. On the third-party front Samurai Showdown Anthlogy, another solid-looking compilation, should provide 2D-era fun. Muramasa and Sin & Punishment 2 are two hardcore titles that definitely look to be worth a play. I'm finding myself less enthusiastic about hyped up first-person shooter titles such as The Conduit, though. While this may sell well on Nintendo's platform (due to the dearth of titles in this genre), it looks completely lackluster compared to FPS's on the two more powerful current-gen consoles.After all, Modern Warfare 2 on the 360 will leave no room for generic FPS's such as this.

So while this looks to be a decent Wii lineup for the summer to the end of 2009 from Nintendo and various third-party companies, I'm not completely stoked about playing a single one of these titles. Compared to heavy-hitters such as Bioshock 2, Modern Warfare 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction and Dead Rising 2 on the Xbox 360, this Wii lineup falls incredibly short.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Forza 3: The Be End All Racing Title?

Forza Motorsport became an instant smash hit when it was released late into the original Xbox's lifespan in Spring 2005. The only true high quality racing simulator on Microsoft's original black box, the now defunct game publication Electronic Gaming Monthly went as far as to say that it's "Better than Gran Turismo 4". Forza 2 followed up two years later on the Xbox 360, improving on the original and remaining one of the best racing titles of this generation.

While both titles were undeniably excellent, Forza 3 will eclipse them in terms of sheer depth and content if the rumors of what it's supposed to feature come true. Supposedly shipping later this year on two discs, Forza 3 could potentially feature over 450 cars, 100 tracks, and gain a host of new game play modes such as rally and drift racing. The online play should also handle more racers at a time (rumored to be as many as 24 racers on the track at once) and the tuning options are said to be expanded. Of course, this is just speculation and rumor for now, but oddly enough Microsoft is not denying these claims either. And industry insiders are reporting that Microsoft is going to unveil even more information regarding Forza 3 this June...

If Forza 3's development goes as planned and these many features make it into the final product, then it's safe to say that Microsoft will have a true blockbuster on their hands. Hey, third time's the charm, right? Not to say that the first series entries weren't among the best simulation racers of all time, but Forza 3 may very well make the two prior entries in this series completely obsolete.

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