The old saying goes "bad things come in threes": celebrity deaths, natural disasters, Star Wars prequels. But in video games three is the number of unlimited potential. The third entry in series of video games is, with rare exception, the climax to a franchise’s arching story, the entry that reveals all its secrets or maybe it’s just the game where the developers have the engine humming like a bee. Starting this month and throughout the next year gamers are going to experience a perhaps unprecedented streak of over a dozen third entries in significant video game franchises.
The long awaited third entry in one of the PlayStation 3’s launch franchises is a FPS tour of a ruined United States in an alternate Earth in the year 1957. An alien race called the Chimera have all but stamped out all human life or transformed it by way of a virus. Hope is renewed when a potential cure is found, forcing a solider who’s seen too much to leave his starving family and go back into the fight. The third console Resistance game features a new protagonist, support for the PlayStation Move and a potential for a denouement to the story of a human race that is seriously outmatched by its enemy.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
While the third Deus Ex is a prequel, it ably tells a complete story on its own (read our review here!), while in parallel, it fills in the classic original game’s back-story gaps. While the original game dealt with the rise of nano-technology and the obsolescence of mechanical augments, the latest edition concerns the latter at its peak, echoing the common real-world phenomena of how quickly the technological world moves. Human Revolution also restores the original’s groundbreaking choice-based gameplay while giving it a dazzling current-gen visual upgrade.
FPS action meets J-horror in the F.E.A.R. series, where a special-ops team combats a supernatural force seemingly centered around a spooky little girl. In the latest game in the franchise the player character, the mysterious time-distorting Point Man, is accompanied by an enemy turned ally Paxton Fettel, who can now be played by a friend in simultaneous co-op with his own set of unique psychic-based powers. In the third title, as a supernatural evil readies to spread global madness, the two player characters seek to stop it while learning the truth about their shared past.
Gears of War 3
Available: September 20, 2011
‘What else could go wrong?’ seems to be the theme running though the Gears of War franchise where the world of Sera was already a wreck from decades of total war before Locust Horde burst out of the ground on a campaign of genocide. Apart from more Marcus/Dominic bromance and new opportunities to use the franchise’s iconic chainsaw bayonet the third entry pits players against the new threat of the Lambent, provides long awaited answers about the fate of protagonist’s Marcus Fenix’s scientist father and determines the fate of all life of the planet. It also introduces a female gear, Anya, as a new co-op playable character. Read our review here!
Available: October 25, 2011
After years of spin-off efforts like Battlefield: Bad Company, the core franchise is coming back with the online 64 simultaneous player combined-arms battles that PC FPS gamers have been waiting for. Jet fighters make their return, class-specific special weapons/equipment have been upgraded and the game is running on a new engine (Frostbite 2) that's tuned for PC gaming, but compatible with (and gorgeous on) the current-gen consoles. While it has no serious story connection to the previous games in the franchise, Battlefield 3 is a game to watch as its publisher, EA, looks to take on Activision's Call of Duty juggernaut. Check out our hands-on preview here!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Available: November 8, 2011
Speaking of, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (or Call of Duty 8) is set to continue the compelling not-to-distant-future multinational conflict campaign storyline that as in the franchise’s tradition is told from the perspectives of soldiers in different units all over the world. There is also the multiplayer that with each successive Call of Duty release has become more and more popular. Read all about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’s multiplayer upgrades here!
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Available: November 1, 2011
Roguish adventurer/thief Nathan Drake is set to embark on another globetrotting mission involving third-person shooting and puzzle-platforming in what might be the PlayStation 3’s signature franchise. Carried by strong gameplay backed by its signature action set-pieces and a strong vocal cast, this latest entry promises more visual fine-tuning, improvements to the multiplayer mode and stealth system and is rumored to include a touch of open-world action. Uncharted 3 will also be the first in the series to support 3D play, perhaps justifying the upgrading of gaming monitors around the world.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Available: November 15, 2011
While it is the fourth Assassin's Creed title released for home consoles, Revelations is actually Assassin's Creed 2-3, and as it was confirmed at PAX Prime 2011, that it will be the final adventure of the Renaissance Era assassin Ezio Auditore. In Revelations, an aged Ezio retains his skills, will develop new ones and will find the answers to questions that have been dogging him (and gamers) since the 12th century.
(Ultimate) Marvel vs Capcom 3
Available: Now/November 2011
The arcade style 2D fighter, almost driven to extinction by the decline of arcades themselves and 10+ years of 3D graphical advancements, has made a strong comeback with the recent releases of Street Fighter 4 and Mortal Kombat (9). Marvel vs Capcom 3 continued that trend with a new entry in the wildly popular crossover fighting series, and seeks to do it again with the upcoming release 'value priced' Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Reportedly due to the recent tsunami/earthquake in Japan, Capcom used their downtime to 're-imagine' the game: re-balancing out the fighters, adding 12 more combatants, new stages and the fan-favorite Spectator Mode in multiplayer.
Mass Effect 3
Available: March 6, 2012
For fans of the Mass Effect franchise anticipation has been building for the third entry even before the release of the first game. The idea that Commander Shepard's story was one that was going to be told in three parts gave the franchise an epic feel that thankfully the games themselves have lived up to. The franchise's system of carrying over decisions made throughout the trilogy only adds to the anticipation as the consequences of every action taken had to be weighed carefully. The third game not only will definitely wrap up the Commander’s story and decide the fate of the galaxy, but also looks to bring back fan-favorite characters from both previous games, re-balance the action vs RPG elements and provide a needed visual upgrade.
Max Payne 3
Available: March 2012
A nine-year gap since the last Max Payne game (and a baffling movie adaptation) wasn’t enough to kill a man whose survivor’s guilt mostly just pushes him to gun people down by the dozens. The franchise that brought noir storytelling and the bullet-time gameplay mechanic is slo-mo leaping in a different direction with its third entry with a new developer and a new South American setting.
The third BioShock game brings the franchise back into the hands of the original game’s creative team that is taking it in a wild new direction. The most striking change being the change in setting from the visually unique and well-received underwater city of Rapture in the 1960s for the turn of the 20th century floating city of Columbia. BioShock Infinite also trades out its silent protagonists out for pair of heroes, the player character Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton Detective and the target of his search, the mysterious Elizabeth who posses a power over time and space that she can’t control. In light of all these changes, how this third game ties into the BioShock mythos is currently unknown, but it hoped among fans that it is not just cosmetic.
Available: TBD (likely Q4 2012)
The standard that dungeon crawling RPGs are weighed against, the next entry in the Diablo franchise has its own huge boots to fill. A ten-plus year long development cycle is at the same time promising and troubling, but as release slowly approaches, information that is dripping out has stirred up the community. A 'real-money' auction house looks to raid the budgets of completionists and competitive gamers, while the requirement for a constant on-line connection infuriates software pirates and other criminals. Overall, gamers are looking to get back to the world of Sanctuary in one of the four new classes or the revamped Barbarian class, and see what the repercussions of the end of Diablo 2 were on that world and reunite with one of gaming’s greatest NPCs: the Sean Connery sound-alike Deckard Cain.
Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
The Penny Arcade corporation’s big surprise for PAX Prime 2011 was that the thought-defunct “Rain-Slick” series is making a return for the possible conclusion to its comically-arcane storyline. Out is Hothead Games and the web-comic’s art style and in its place is a retro 8-bit look from Zeboyd Games (Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World), a developer with experience with RPG humor. Fans of the web-comic can no doubt look forward to more appearances by favorite characters and possibly a conclusion to the purposely complicated Lovecraft-ian storyline.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!