Under the Radar.
It is almost that time of year. The time when our wallets hurt, our relationships suffer and free time is almost non-existent. Come September the official AAA release season kicks into gear offering all of us a gaming bonanza that doesn’t grind to a halt till about the second week of December. This year looks to be even bigger than most with new entries in the Fallout, Just Cause and X-com franchises as well as the yearly regular stuff like Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty. All of this excitement over the big franchises can cause one problem though. Some smaller titles will inevitably be missed during the silly season. With this in mind I thought I would put together a list of games that will probably be passed over but really deserve some attention. These games all have the potential to be cracking experiences and it would be a shame to see them slip under the radar. Of course they could also turn out to be turkeys of the highest order but I like to stay on the positive side of things.
So without any further ado here are the games (presented in no particular order) I think you should keep an eye on despite all of the AAA distractions.
Act of Aggression
Developed by Eugen Systems (creators of RTS favourites Act of War, RUSE and Wargame) Act of Aggression appears to be a love letter to fans of Command and Conquer: Generals. Featuring three distinct factions in a near future military setting, there is more than one nod to the classic C&C game. All the hallmarks of golden era RTS games are included. Base building, resource gathering and tank rushing all make a welcome return. It will be interesting to see if this older style of strategy gaming appeals to a younger generation but old school RTS fans look to be well served. Act of Aggression will be available on Steam September 2.
Rugby League Live 3
Ok of all the games on the list this one has the most potential to be a stinker. Rugby League Live 1 was an abomination and while 2 was much improved it was hardly a must have game. The reason I am holding a sliver of hope for this title is that developer BigAnt’s last game was a cracker. Donald Bradman Cricket was an excellent game and the best virtual representation of cricket to ever appear. Also the game is being developed right here in Australia and will be released on disc (which is extremely rare for Australian games in this day and age) on the PS4 and Xbox One on September 10. I hope this will finally be the game that League fans have been waiting for since ARL 96.
It seems strange to think that a game based on such a wildly popular franchise could go under the radar but I fear that is exactly what will happen with this game. The Transformers brand has been fairly heavily tarnished of late by Michael Bay as well as some dodgy video game outings so a lot of old fans are sick of the dreck that is being served up. Devastation has two massive things going for it though that make me believe it is going to be a great game. The first is that it is set in the Generation One years so old folks like myself will be able to relive our Saturday morning cartoon fantasies with the classic cast of Transformers (you know when Bumblebee was a VW beetle). Secondly it is being developed by the masters of action gaming Platinum Games. With a pedigree such as theirs it is hard not to be excited by how this game may turn out. Transformers: Devastation is coming to PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360 on the 6th of October.
Wasteland 2 – GOTY edition
Now this may appear a strange entry but with the game finally being released on consoles in October a lot of gamers are getting their first look at this isometric role playing classic. The game is coming with a whole host of graphical and interface improvements (which will also be available as a free patch to PC owners) making a great game even better. I can’t say enough good things about this title and I am excited to see so many more people exposed to it. I do worry that given its release proximity to its bigger brother Fallout 4 (even though the original Wasteland was the starting point for the Fallout franchise) that it will get blown away by Bethesda’s undoubtedly massive release. Wasteland 2: GOTY edition hits consoles on the 16th of October and shouldn’t be missed by any RPG fan.
A franchise that is familiar to millions of PC gamers, Trackmania: Turbo is the first iteration to reach consoles. For those that don’t know Trackmania is a unique racing title that focuses on perfect runs through fictional tracks. The game develops a brilliant “one more turn” mindset in players (similar to what is found in the Trials games) as they search for those few extra seconds to shave off their lap times. The franchise is also known for its excellent creative toolset that allows players to create their own tracks and share with friends all of which evoke feelings of the classic PC title STUNTS (You have to be really old to know that one). All of this should work great on consoles but being released in November (27th to be exact) could be a death sentence considering it is going up against the year’s biggest titles.
So there you have it. These are some of the games that I worry are going to be forgotten during the upcoming crazy time of year. Do you think they will be missed or do you think they will find their audience? What titles do you think will be looked over during the AAA release season? Sound off in the comments below.