In the past few weeks, we've seen a large number of companies delay their game to 2010, scurrying out of the fall 2009 spotlight like so many critters of darkness. The release calendar is look practically barren by similar comparisons from even two months ago. The stock answer seems to be for polish and improvement. Others would speculate that many companies are looking at the other megaton releases this coming season, and finding reason to step aside and let forces of nature run their course. Halo ODST, Modern Warfare 2 and Brutal Legend are gearing up to make a major splash this holiday, even in these harsh economic times.
But still, I don't buy it. Polish? Sound and prudent for sure. As a QA guy, I'm all for it. But three different companies all suddenly letting their quality senses delay money on that table? Sorry, find that hard to believe. And I would say a hearty "SO?!" to the spectre of large releases. Its Christmas, folks. Kids are going to get multiple games for Christmas, or at least gift card money with which to buy more games. You're not even getting a new console this year: of course there's room to buy more games! There's usually room at second place, and that's still good money! Why run if you can still leave the fight with an armful of coin?
Because, in the shadow of all this marketing fueled, collector edition awesomeness there's Way of the Samurai 3, dropping in the middle of October (the 13th)
. And no one is prepared to challenge a ronin to a knife fight. Follow me:
Splinter Cell: Conviction
In the latest installment of Splinter Cell, we find Sam Fisher so splinter that he's totally dropped this cell business. He's a man off the grid, looking to fulfill his own path by any means he sees fit.
Welcome to 2002, Sam. The Way of the Samurai series has always been about finding your own path, being master of your own sword. By all means, step aside.
Vertical gameplay is the name of Dark Void's game. Players will be tasked with jet-packing their way up, around and through towers full of enemies. Vertical stop and pop is the next big thing and will surely present a new way to think about the third person shooter.
But seriously, who has time to worry about verticality, when Way of the Samurai present a sprawling horizontally aligned area, full of tough situations that require a bit more tact than hiding behind platforms and jumping out to shoot. You've got nowhere to go but up with your Tesla-powered rocket backpack. Let us, then, progress forward.
Bioshock 2, Red Steel 2, Starcraft II
These sequels look to push the envelope, however subtly or slightly, of their original iterations. Whether is wicked role reversal, fantastically improved sword and gun controls or just the full 3D realization of a landmark classic, these titles will surely set the industry abuzz (if not ablaze) when they hit in 2010.
But, as we all know, 3 > 2. If the branding of the Xbox360 has taught us anything, bigger numbers simply win in this industry. Go back to your abacus, sirs. Allow superior numbers to prevail.
Half Life 2: Episode 3
Valve is clearly the smartest studio in the game industry, and has been planning for the inevitable release of WOTS3 for years. Coincidence that we're just now hearing details about the production of the latest Episode of Half Life 2? After Way of the Samurai 3 has stealthy found a release date? Clearly, I think not!
As we come into the fall, we've heard of confirmation that both Fallout 3 and Mass Effect will not be receiving any additional DLC. Its quite the investment of manhours and other resources. But, you've also got to consider that THAT is one of the DLC costumes that may be available for Way of the Samurai 3 when it hits North America. Yeah, I wouldn't bother with DLC either!
There's your explanation, good people: the industry fears that, in the face of Way of the Samurai 3 dominating the not-number-one spot on every grandmother and child's fall wishlist, there is simply no room to even bother releasing in the fall of 2009. No worries, game studios. Way of the Samurai only comes around every few years or so. There'll be plenty of time to release out of harms way for a few fiscal cycles. Godspeed, noble delays. The ronin-spartan respects your honorable concession.