Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Oldies I Wanna Revisit

2011 is the largest year for the gaming industry in recent times. In March alone, there was a veritable flood of gaming titles. And though there are a healthy number of new franchises coming out (Homefront comes to mind), 2011 is especially remarkable for the number of sequels to many existing great franchises. We've already seen Dragon Age 2, Two Worlds 2 and Dead Space 2. Shogun 2 came out yesterday and there are plenty more to come this year. Although there are plenty of new titles for us to play around with, till we wait for even more of these awesome sequels, these are some of the games I am tempted to revisit as I wait for their sequels.

1. The Witcher - Witcher was one of the best RPGs in recent years, providing one of the best plot progression and choices to be seen in a RPG title. Acclaimed for its mature approach and blurred moral themes, it was nevertheless critiqued for plenty of bugs; translation errors and long load times among other. Then CDProjekt went overboard and released “The Witcher Enhanced Edition”, ironing out almost all the issues and improving graphics, making the game a must-play for any RPG fan out there. With Witcher 2 coming out in May, providing the ability to import your save games, there is plenty of incentive to revisit the world of Witcher with Geralt.

2. Batman Arkham Asylum - Breaking the mold of rubbish superhero games that we've become used to, Batman: AA was a refreshingly great game that told the developers how to do superhero games right. It provided great flexibility: A great action cum stealth experience for the casual gamer, while providing an immersive experience for the die-hard Batman fans with plenty of challenges, collectibles, tapes and more all highlighting batman lore and back-story. Batman Arhkam City is coming in October, promising a sort of open-ended sandbox-ish take with the sequel, with plenty of new mechanics, but we can very well play around with the original till we get out hands on it.

3. Sword of Stars - The original SotS was released in 2006, about the same time as Galactic Civilizations 2. It provided a refreshing take on the 4X genre, replacing the intensive spreadsheet-esque management many of the 4X titles get bogged in with streamlined approach of managing the economy with various sliders, while still maintaining strategic depth by implementing two great mechanics - the different FTL-transport systems of the various races and a wholly randomized tech tree. It was mainly criticized for its unfriendly interface, which was eventually improved with the two expansion packs. These expansions also added two new races, with their own FTL systems, making the total to 6 diverse races. SotS2, which will expand upon its predecessor's game play and continue its storyline, is slated for a Q3/Q4 release. Meanwhile "Sword of the Stars: Complete Collection" was released combing all the expansion packs in one retail package, a solid entry-point for those new to the SotS world.

4. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim comes out in November, possibly the greatest among all the RPG releases this year, promising even better game play and mechanics than its great predecessors. While that is all great and fine, the wait maybe too long for some of us wishing to immerse themselves in the world of Elder Scrolls. Of course, we’ve played Oblivion and Morrowind to death, but that's where the great modding community comes in. With plenty of great overhaul and quest mods. Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul and Martigen’s Monster Mod come to mind.
Of course, there are those who may argue that Oblivion was dumbed down and Morrowind is where the meat of game play is. For those people who wish to revisit the vast and unforgiving Morrowind, but have grown too used to great graphics, take a look at the "Morrowind Graphical Project 2011", a 1 GB compendium of all the great graphics mods out there (take a look at the in-game scenes below). Also check out the small but nifty Magicka Regen mod and Faster Movement mods for a better game play experience.

5. Mass Effect: Mass Effect 3 comes out this year (hopefully!), and while we wait for its release, we can go back to the previous two games to refresh our memory and maybe make all those little choices which we would like to see developing out in the finale.

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