This November, we're living in the midst of exciting times. No, not because basketball's starting and not because of opportunities for America to show its opinion on would-be evil dictators. Well, not entirely because of basketball — but who has time to worry about politics when you're busy tossing "g-nades" at other losers online, waging gang warfare in San Andreas or laughing at how badly "Fable" flopped? By the end of this month, gamers everywhere will be tirelessly enacting these scenarios.
Beginning back in August with the release of "Doom 3" and barreling straight into the new year, the last quarter of 2004 has dumped several of the most anticipated games ever into the greedy fingers of gamers. But while this deluge of gaming goodness seems like a godsend, those people that can't afford to muster several hundred dollars for purchasing all of these games face a tragic choice that must be similar to a mother deciding which of her children to carry out of a burning building — or maybe it's more like a fat guy coming home from the grocery store and deciding which of his new purchases to eat that night. In any event, to aid in these fateful decisions, I have compiled a list of some of the biggest releases with a bit of information about each of them.
Doom 3 (PC)
For those who enjoy simply slaughtering countless demon hordes, the latest installment of "Doom" is a must. The game, while a tad repetitious and certainly not groundbreaking from a design perspective, successfully updates the feel of the original "Doom" series, featuring visceral thrills and stunning graphics that won't be topped . Fable (Xbox)
After a five-year development cycle, Peter Molyneux's "Fable" accumulated a great deal of hype. But with many of its promised features either left out or undermined by earlier released games like "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Morrowind," "Fable" doesn't live up to the hype that surrounded it. Although it is still a decent game, I'd wait and catch it in the bargain bin. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
If you like "GTA 3" or "Vice City," you'll love San Andreas. This game is huge and even features RPG elements. Check out our review for more info. Upcoming games:
Half-Life 2 (PC)
Every PC gamer in the world has waited feverishly for this title ever since completing the amazing original and playing it and its mods to death online for years afterward. But in the six years after "Half-Life's" release, its developers Valve have dropped the ball in just about every way. Who can forgive them for tricking kids into buying games they can download legally for free, mysteriously abandoning "Team Fortress 2," marketing a terrible remake of the aforementioned free game months before releasing another newer version and, most of all, just not making a single good game aside from "Half-Life"? If "HL 2" is good enough … everyone (and it looks like it might be). Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube)
Looking back, there aren't many games that I can't think of any aspect of which I didn't like. "Metroid Prime" is one of them. Improving on the original with a more involved story and more cut scenes (the one area where I feel the original lacked), new weapons and abilities and even a multiplayer mode, "Prime 2" is Nintendo's answer to the titans of Sony and Microsoft, and sadly, I fear, it's an answer that may go relatively unheard. To all GameCube owners: Buy this game or take a dirt nap. Halo 2 (Xbox)
Of all these epic titles, I expect "Halo 2" will sell the best. The frenzy surrounding this release is legendary, complete with tattooed release dates, bizarre Web sites (www.ilovebees.com) and midnight sale release parties. With its new setting on Earth, more weapons, more vehicles and multiplayer over Xbox Live, "Halo 2" will rule the Xbox, if not the entire game industry, on November 9. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)
The fact that the release of a "Metal Gear" game can be overshadowed says something about the amount of great games nearly simultaneously being released. This new adventure, set in the jungle in the 1960s, is rumored to feature the character Big Boss, the genetic source of the cloned hero of past "Metal Gear" games, Snake. This change in setting will hopefully stem a story of the caliber of the first "Metal Gear Solid" and not a confusing mess like "MGS 2." The game appears to feature a greater emphasis on stealth this time around. Though I don't doubt this game will be great, I also don't doubt it will be overshadowed by the flood of other big-name games and that it will show up as a "Greatest Hits" title relatively soon after its release. World of Warcraft (PC)
Blizzard has a track record like none other, and this game will adhere to it. Though monthly fees may scare away many, I'm anxious to try Blizzard's take on the Massively Multiplayer RPG genre. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (Xbox, PC)
Though in the hands of new developers, the game looks promising. I'll wait for the PC version. Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
A total reinvention of the series, "RE 4" showcases beautiful graphics and is my most anticipated game with the possible exception of … The Legend of Zelda (working title - GameCube)
Striking graphics, realistic look: though shrouded in mystery, it's a "Zelda" game; of course it will be great.