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Some of them are ending a series, some are just continuing them, some we're not sure of, but this is the year for the third installment in many a triple-A series, and a few others besides. I'll take a look here at a handful of them (with some maybe unannounced or that maybe I missed) and what role they'll play in their respective series; if I'm not sure, that won't stop me from speculating the hell out of it.
Coming out in just a couple of short weeks is the next installment in Guerilla's Killzone series, purportedly picking up right where the second game left off. Killzone 3 is half of Sony's 1-2 FPS punch this year, and is their biggest entry thus far to feature Move support and 3D technology, perhaps being the sounding buoy for the latter. The story apparently picks up immediately after the end of the previous installment and doesn't appear to be a climax to the series. With solid sales figures and quite a bit more depth left to explore, expect the Killzone brand to hang around for a while.
The other half of the PS3-exclusive FPS pack, the Resistance series picks up its third chapter. The story follows Joseph Capelli, who, after his role at the end of Resistance 2, has hung up his boots and gone into hiding to escape the overwhelming Chimeran invasion. Due out in September, [/i]Resistance 3 looks to be Sony's next big step to combating the 360-exclusive (PC excluded) juggernauts of the [i]Halo and Gears of War franchises. Speaking of which...
Gears of War 3
The first definite conclusion on the list comes in the form of Epic Games' closing installment of the Gears of War series. Gears of War 3 looks to wrap up the hugely successful series with new characters, new enemies, new weapons, and more of the same enjoyable gameplay, but better. With playable female characters, a brand-new one-hit-kill-guarantee weapon, and an occasional mech suit, Gears 3 looks to be as fun as its predecessors, if not moreso, while drawing the story to a satisfying close.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
The next entrant into the incredibly successful, and phenomenally fun, Uncharted franchise is also the first on our list with a colon and a subtitle. Year after year, Uncharted sets the bar for visuals, story, and adventure gameplay, providing not only an amazing cinematic experience, but also something that is "Game of the Year" material every time, and Uncharted 3 looks to be no different. Almost nothing has been revealed about the storyline, but with the enormous popularity and success of the series, don't expect Uncharted 3 to be the end. Due out in November, the long wait provides ample time to save up for a 3D TV, as Uncharted 3 may just be "the game" for 3D.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
Let the beatings continue. 11 years since the release of MvC 2, Fate of Two Worlds hits shelves in a little over a week, and all I want to know is where Mega Man is! Grousings aside, the roster features fewer characters than MvC 2 (36 as compared to 56) but the characters' playstyles all look to be fantastic and the story mode now promises individual endings. Couple that with the word that MvC 3 will play similarly to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and have Zero, all i can say is sign me up!
With a rumored, probable, but as yet unanounced fourth quarter release date, the long-awaited third installment in Blizzard's other, other big name series come home to PC. Bringing a random level generator, enhanced equipment settings, and five classes (including the Witch Doctor, he told me what to do), Diablo III promises a meatier and continually unique experience for each player, set 20 years after Diablo II.
Mass Effect 3
The grand finale of the tale of Commander Sheppard comes to us "Holiday 2011", and promises to bring the blockbuster series home to Earth and promises an intense ride. With reports of over 1,000 variables involved, players should expect to have widely varied experiences of this last entry into Bioware's magnum opus in space.
Following the genuinely bizarre ending to F.E.A.R. 2, F.E.A.R. 3 launches in May (after being pushed back from March because of the production time probably lost due to arguments over the logo) and has you controlling Point Man and Paxton from the original F.E.A.R. If even only the sheer creepiness from the first two remains intact, F.E.A.R. 3 will continue a year of enjoyable scary games that was kicked of by Dead Space 2.
This one might be considered a bit of a stretch, dropping in March, MotorStorm: Apocalypse isn't just the third MotorStorm game released on the PS3, it's also simply called MotorStorm 3 in Japan, so there. Really I just wanted an excuse to post that picture and say that Apocalypse looks like the most awesome MotorStorm yet, and if it's anywhere near as fun as the rest of the series, might be one of the best racers of the year. Hold onto your "Oh $#!^" hats, this is gonna be fun.
The quirky PSP rhythm-style series gets its third title in March, continuing from the end of its predecessor. Along with more realistic backgrounds there will be a greater emphasis placed on the multiplayer elements. With the "Pata-Text" multiplayer chat, Patapon 3 just might be the reason I finally snag a used PSP this year.
The next installment in the Stronghold series looks to take its gameplay back toward the original style and less like that of the second game. Firefly Studios' signature series has long been an enjoyable time-killer for me, so while I am looking forward to this one, it's not something too high up on my list for the year.
The Last Guardian
While not technically a trilogy, this is only Team Ico's third game, and The Last Guardian will no doubt be as much a spiritual successor to Shadow of the Colossus as that game was to Ico, so they are somewhat a trilogy (if you really, really stretch the idea). Regardless, The Last Guardian looks to be amazing, and with a fourth-quarter release date, the build up might just be intolerable for some. That is, of course, were it not for the release of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus: The Collection, arriving on March 31st (according to Gamefly).
Max Payne 3
I know, file this one under "probably not this year either", I mean, Max is even up there looking around for his release date. But tentatively slated for the end of the year, Max Payne 3 will probably (and hopefully) wrap up Max's story after being stranded working security in Brazil. I always had fun with the original two Max Payne games, but the sequel's poor sales have no doubt contributed to 3's back-burner status, and Take-Two's other interests may keep it pushed back for quite some time yet. I stay hopeful for a December release, though I don't quite see it happening.