Big video games coming well before holiday season

jheeter@macon.comSeptember 24, 2010 

The holiday season is traditionally the busiest for the video game industry.

This upcoming fall and winter will bring some hit games, but I can’t remember a holiday season with fewer high-profile releases.

Perhaps gaming companies have gone to a more balanced, year-round release schedule, or maybe fewer games are in development following the downturn in the economy that led to layoffs at many gaming companies.

Publishers generally release new games all the way through Christmas, but most of the top games this year will be out before Thanksgiving.

“Halo: Reach,” the first big release of the fall is already in stores.

The Xbox 360 exclusive is a prequel to the original “Halo” that takes place on the colony of Reach during the human war with the Covenant. This is the final game in the series developed by Bungie, so I’m sure the developer will go out with a bang.

Microsoft announced the game grossed $200 million on its launch day, which will make it a contender for top-selling game of the year.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops” will likely rival “Halo: Reach” as the top seller.

The sequel to the massively popular series follows along special ops teams on missions throughout the Cold War. Developer Treyarch previously made “Call of Duty: World at War,” and it will now take the lead for the franchise after Activision and Infinity Ward — publisher of the “Modern Warfare” series — split.

Electronic Arts could steal some of the market share from the “Call of Duty” series with the reboot of the “Medal of Honor” series.

“Medal of Honor” will be set in current times, and it will surely be measured against the “Modern Warfare” games. The multiplayer modes will be developed by DICE, the same company that worked on the “Battlefield” series. Some fans of the “Modern Warfare” series will probably be angry because Infinity Ward and Activision broke apart, and they might find a nice replacement in “Medal of Honor.”

The other noteworthy release this fall is “Rock Band 3.”

The music-gaming genre has grown a little stale, but leave it to the folks at Harmonix to stay ahead of the curve.

They did so with the original “Guitar Hero,” followed it up with full-band gaming in “Rock Band” and perfected downloadable content with a giant catalog of songs. “Rock Band 3” adds a keyboard peripheral as well as a pro-style guitar complete with strings that developers claim could teach you how to play an actual guitar.

Sequels to “LittleBigPlanet,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Fallout,” “Dead Rising,” “Star Wars: Force Unleashed” and “Guitar Hero” should also sell well.

Some strong games are certainly headed to stores over the next few months, but just not as big of a variety as we’ve seen in years past.

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