published Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Sequels dominate fall video game releases

In the months leading up to the holiday season, video game developers unleash their biggest titles of the year. As game budgets become larger, the trend has increasingly shifted toward producing new titles in proven, pre-existing AAA franchises.

As the end of 2011 approaches, a slew of third entries in landmark series are set to hit shelves, a trend local gamers said they have mixed feelings about.

Danny Barnes, 24, said he worries that by choosing to continue established series instead of creating new franchises, developers are being too cautious.

"It's almost like people are finding things that work and then will stick with them for a couple of years because they don't trust themselves to create new titles," he said. "They decide to stick to what works and will make a lot of money."

Nevertheless, Barnes said that one of the titles he is most excited about in the holiday season is "Battlefield 3." The game is the third numeric entry and ninth title overall in a series that has released a new version on an almost yearly basis since 2002.

"I'm a total hypocrite," he said, laughing.

Jack Reddish, 22, said he has similarly disappointed in the lack of innovation from game developers. He, too, has plans to purchase an established title, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3," the eighth main title in the series, which started in 2003.

Reddish said he is drawn to games he can play with others, even if he feels exploited by the developers.

"I think what drives me, as a gamer, is the community aspect of it," he said. "I'm just a sheep, and I will go to whatever everyone is playing."



  • Release date: Sept. 6.
  • First entry in series: "Resistance: Fall of Man" (2006).
  • Summary: A former soldier is forced out of seclusion to journey across America's scarred heartland four years after the alien Chimera conquer the human race and reduce it to scattered pockets of guerrilla-style resistance.
  • Why it's hot: Insomniac's series of sci-fi shooters is one of Sony's flagship franchises. The third entry adds upgradeable armament, smarter enemies, and brings back the original's weapon selection system.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60, PS3.


  • Release date: Sept. 20.
  • First entry in series: "Gears of War" (2006).
  • Summary: After seemingly purging the world of the Locust scourge, humanity is pushed to the breaking point as a new threat emerges from below ground, forcing a handful of survivors to keep on the move.
  • Why it's hot: The third entry in Epic Games cover-based shooting series concludes the story of the hardscrabble Marines in Delta Squad that began in 2006. Players can tackle the campaign in a new four-player cooperative mode. Online, they can level up and will be able to control the gray-skinned Locust in the new Beast multiplayer mode.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60, Xbox 360.


  • Release date: Oct. 25.
  • First entry in series: "Battlefield 1942" (2002).
  • Summary: Players control Marines engaged in missions in modern-day locales around the world, including Europe, the Middle East and North America.
  • Why it's hot: The upgraded Frostbite 2.0 game engine features massive improvements to animation, graphics and environmental destructibility. Players can go head to head in refined 24-player vehicle-heavy multiplayer matches that feature the return of player-controllable jets.
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360/PC.


  • Release date: Nov. 1.
  • First entry in series: "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" (2006).
  • Summary: In search of the "Atlantis of the desert," treasure hunter and adventurer Nathan Drake and his longtime companion Victor "Sully" Sullivan travel to the Middle East where they uncover a mystery that forces them on a globe-trotting fight for survival.
  • Why it's hot: New environments featuring surfaces such as sand and water push the graphic engine further than ever before and provide a more open experience than previous titles. Improved gameplay systems will infuse multiplayer matches with the cinematic feel of the single-player campaign.
  • Age rating: Teen.
  • Price: $60, PS3.


  • Release date: Nov. 8.
  • First entry in series: "Call of Duty" (2003).
  • Summary: Two U.S. and British special forces agents and a Russian informant flee after killing a rogue U.S. lieutenant general as the Russian Federation continues its invasion of the United States.
  • Why it's hot: The last "Call of Duty" title, "Black Ops," sold an estimated 13-18 million copies, making it the best-selling U.S. video game title ever. Multiplayer improvements include a new cooperative survival mode and re-balances to kill streak rewards, perks and leveling.
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360/PC.


  • Release date: Nov. 15.
  • First entry in series: "Saints Row" (2006)
  • Summary: After defeating all their rivals, the Saints gang have risen from street thugs to veritable celebrities, but run afoul of an international crime syndicate after a botched robbery attempt.
  • Why it's hot: THQ's open world crime series is known for cutting the cords and allowing players to experience over-the-top, outlandish scenarios. "The Third" moves things to a new, Rust Belt-themed city, Stilwater, and improves game play features such as damage to vehicles and weapon customization.
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360.


  • Release date: Dec. 1.
  • First entry in series: "Max Payne" (2001).
  • Summary: Almost a decade after the release of "Max Payne 2," the former New York City detective's life continues its downward spiral as he seeks work as private security for a wealthy family in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Why it's hot: The trademark "bullet time" slow motion gunplay has been combined with Rockstar's Euphoria animation system for an increased cinematic feel. A new cover system has been added to increase the depth of the combat, and the graphical fidelity extends to small details such as sweat and blood stains on clothing.
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360; $50, PC.



  • Release date: Sept. 6.
  • Summary: A first-person, zombie-slaying shooter featuring an open-world design based on a fictional resort island located off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360; $50, PC.


  • Release date: Oct. 4.
  • Summary: A first-person-shooter about a man who emerges from a cryogenic shelter after a comet strike only to find the world turned into a hostile wasteland full of mutants and other dangers.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60, PC/PS3/Xbox 360.


  • Release date: Oct. 4.
  • Summary: A spiritual successor to the 2009 sleeper hit third-person, dark fantasy action role-playing game "Demon's Souls" featuring the same emphasis on overwhelming difficulty.
  • Age rating: Mature.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360.


  • Release date: Oct. 11.
  • Summary: The Xbox-exclusive driving franchise returns with a garage of more than 500 cars by 80 manufacturers and a partnership with British prime time automotive TV show "Top Gear."
  • Age rating: Everyone.
  • Price: $60 Xbox 360.


  • Release date: Oct. 18.
  • Summary: After foiling The Joker's plot in 2009's "Batman: Arkham Asylum," the Dark Knight brings justice to a sprawling section of Gotham City where prisoners are running amok.
  • Age rating: Teen.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360; $50, PC.


  • Release date: Nov. 11.
  • Summary: Based on the same engine used in 2006's expansive "Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion," the latest Elder Scrolls title shifts the focus to the northern land of Skyrim, where dragons have prophetically returned to the world.
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360/PC.


  • Release date: Nov. 15.
  • Summary: The third "Assassin's Creed" title to feature Ezio Auditore concludes the tale of the noble-turned-assassin guild leader as he searches for a tool to end his war with the Knights Templar.
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $60, PS3/Xbox 360; $50, PC.


  • Release date: Nov. 15.
  • Summary: To celebrate the 10th anniversary of "Halo: Combat Evolved," Microsoft is visually remastered version that features competitive and cooperative multiplayer updates.
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $40, XBOX 360.


  • Release date: Nov. 20.
  • Summary: Intrepid swordsman Link stars in the first Wii-exclusive title in the "Zelda" series in an entry that serves as a prequel to the fan-favorite entry, "Ocarina of Time."
  • Age rating: Pending.
  • Price: $50, Wii.
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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