published Friday, May 6th, 2011

10 hot video games for summer

In the past, the summer months were when video-game publishers released shoddy blockbuster movie tie-ins and weaker titles that couldn’t go head to head with the best holiday releases. During the next four months, however, gamers will see the release of highly anticipated new franchises and long-awaited sequels to dormant series.

Local gamer Danny Barnes, 23, said he’s excited to see unlikely follow-ups to titles such as “American McGee’s Alice” arrive alongside eagerly awaited new franchises like “L.A. Noire.”

“It’s odd to see some of these titles come back from the dead like that, but it’s like it’s part of that movement where so many movies and shows from an older era have come back with a vengeance,” Barnes said. “It’s interesting to see games like ‘Alice’ get a sequel when everyone who played it thought would just be a one-off cult hit.”

Here are 10 titles gamers can look forward to beating the heat with.

‘BRINK’

  • Release date: May 10.
  • Summary: A multiplayer, first-person shooter pitting rival factions Resistance and Security amidst the ruin of a formerly utopian floating metropolis.
  • Why it’s hot: Players use experience gained through completing objectives to fuel persistent character growth. Developer Splash Damage’s Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain (SMART) system allows players to navigate obstacle-filled maps with the grace of parkour runners.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60, PS3 and Xbox 360; $50, PC.

‘L.A. NOIRE’

  • Release date: May 17.
  • Summary: Mix one part West Coast period crime drama, a la “L.A. Confidential,” with equal measures of “Grand Theft Auto” and “Law & Order.”
  • Why it’s hot: Rockstar Games (“Grand Theft Auto,” “Red Dead Redemption”) is one of the industry’s hottest developers. “L.A. Noire” features MotionScan, a new cinematic rendering system, to deliver incredibly realistic virtual facial expressions, a key tool used in solving a series of cases.

  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60, PS3 and Xbox 360.

‘INFAMOUS 2’

  • Release date: June 7.
  • Summary: After fleeing Empire City at the close of the original game, superhero/villain Cole McGrath travels to New Marais, a New Orleans-esque metropolis, where he must reach his full potential in order to fight The Beast.
  • Why it’s hot: “Infamous” was praised for its open world, fluid movement and how the protagonist and environment reflected players’ moral choices. The sequel adds a colorful new city, expands the suite of super powers and improves melee combat.
  • Age rating: Teen.
  • Price: $60 PS3.

‘RED FACTION: ARMAGEDDON’

  • Release date: June 7.
  • Summary: Set decades after Mars is liberated from the oppressive Earth Defense Force, a meteor impact forces humanity to flee underground, where they discover they’re not alone.
  • Why it’s hot: “Armageddon” retains the environmental destruction of “Guerrilla” but shifts it into the tense atmosphere of the mines. The plot line promises to be more linear, and thus better paced, and the arsenal now includes a “magnet gun,” which causes two objects to rocket into each another.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60 PS3 and Xbox 360; $50 PC.

‘ALICE: MADNESS RETURNS’

  • Release date: June 14.
  • Summary: Driven insane by a childhood tragedy, Alice seeks solace in Wonderland. After 11 years, she is released from an asylum, but her memories still torment her. Returning to the imaginary world, she finds it darker and more dangerous.
  • Why it’s hot: Developer American McGee became a star after the 2000 original released thanks to its wicked, macabre take on the Lewis Carroll classic. The sequel retains that vision and adds upgradeable weaponry, twisted puzzles and new magical abilities.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60 PS3 and Xbox 360; $50 PC.

‘DUKE NUKEM FOREVER’

  • Release date: June 14.
  • Summary: Aliens have invaded Earth, leveled buildings, killed innocent people and interrupted football games. Worst of all, they’ve abducted all the attractive women. For humanity’s greatest hero Duke Nukem, that’s the last straw.
  • Why it’s hot: A sequel to “Duke Nukem 3D” has been continuously delayed for 12 years. Now, it’s finally releasing, and developer Gearbox Software has updated the graphics while retaining the crass, over-the-top gameplay fans loved in the original.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60 PS3 and Xbox 360; $50 PC.

‘F.E.A.R. 3’

  • Release date: June 21.
  • Summary: Point Man, the protagonist of the original “F.E.A.R.,” is hounded by his demented (presumably deceased) brother, Paxton Fettel, who forces him to choose between his loyalty to his twisted family or to his former squad mates.
  • Why it’s hot: Critics applauded the tight gunplay and creepy atmosphere of the “F.E.A.R.” series. Gameplay in the third entry will revolve around players splitting control between traditional shooting as Point Man and the use of Fettel’s psychic and telekinetic abilities.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60 PS3 and Xbox 360; $50 PC.

‘SUPER STREET FIGHTER IV ARCADE EDITION’

  • Release date: June 28.
  • Summary: Capcom rolls out its second major content update to 2009’s “Street Fighter IV” as both a downloadable pack and standalone disc.
  • Why it’s hot: Serious “Street Fighter” players are sticklers for perfecting character balance, and this newest edition includes tweaks based on tournament play in Japan. “Arcade Edition” adds Oni, Evil Ryu, Yun and Yang to the line up (for a total of 39 fighters) and includes an improved replay channel online.
  • Age rating: Teen.
  • Price: $40 PS3 and Xbox 360.

‘DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION’

  • Release date: Aug. 23.
  • Summary: Protagonist Adam Jensen is forced to cybernetically enhance his body after being injured during an attack on his client. Now, he sets out to uncover the truth behind a conspiracy at the dawn of human biological augmentation.
  • Why it’s hot: The original “Deus Ex” (2000) received numerous game-of-the-year accolades for its pioneering blend of shooter and RPG elements that let players choose a stealthy, aggressive or diplomatic approach. The series’ third entry retains that freedom while upgrading the presentation to modern standards.
  • Age rating: Rating pending.
  • Price: $60 PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

‘RESISTANCE 3’

  • Release date: Sept. 6.
  • Summary: A former soldier is forced out of seclusion to journey across America’s scarred heartland four years after the alien Chimera conquered the human race and reduced it to scattered pockets of resistance.
  • Why it’s hot: Insomniac’s series of sci-fi shooters is one of Sony’s flagship franchises. The third entry brings back an easier weapon selection system, upgradeable armament, smarter enemies and tighter multiplayer.
  • Age rating: Rating pending.
  • Price: $60 PS3.

‘RAGE’

  • Release date: Sept. 13.
  • Summary: An asteroid impact forced much of humanity to hide in cryogenic shelters known as Arks. Emerging from one of these, players enter a shattered wasteland full of bandits, hardscrabble towns and dangerous mutants.
  • Why it’s hot: Id Software, creators of the “Doom” and “Quake” shooter franchises, hasn’t created a new title since 2003’s “Doom 3.” In addition to open world gameplay, innovative weapons and vehicular combat, “Rage” also marks the debut of id Tech 5, a rendering engine which promises to set the next graphical benchmark.
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $60 PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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