ALL THIS COOL NEW GAMING HARDWARE, AND WHAT ARE WE GOING TO PLAY

As I write this post, we’re more or less two weeks away from the North American launches of the Playstation 4 (November 15th) and the Xbox One (November 22nd.)  The full-on media advertising and marketing blitz for both c=next-generation consoles has already started, and, curiously, more day one preorder opportunities have popped up at large chain retailers like Target, and online retail giant Amazon.  As these consoles’ respective launch date approach, I have been thinking about making space for them in my entertainment center, and, more importantly, what I’m going to do with them when they finally arrive.

Usually, when a new console launches, I know which games I’m buying with the console months in advance.  This time, however, this has not been the case, due to ambiguous information regarding launch dates (the use of the so-called “launch window” term, which I intensely dislike) and outright delays in some games that were previously thought to be day one titles.  The Playstation 4 in particular, has been hit hard by this, as promised launch games like Drive Club and Watch Dogs have been delayed until 2014 (though the latter is a multiplatform titles, so its delay also hits the Xbox One.)

These delays are nothing new in the games business, especially when we’re dealing with new console launches.  Developers need to familiarize themselves with new development kits, the capabilities of the new hardware and such.  One thing does worry me, though:  the whole point of switching from a PowerPC (as in the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U) to an x86 architecture (PC), other than to reduce manufacturing costs, was to ease games development and porting.  After all, the PC is an open architecture, and most devs have cut their teeth making PC games.  However, in the last few months, rumors have started popping up about problems with the new console hardware, particularly on the Xbox One.  Last week, NeoGAF exploded in rage over a rumor that the Xbox One version of Call of Duty:  Ghosts would run only at 720p resolution, while the PS4 version would run at 1080p.  Initially, neither Activision or Microsoft confirmed or denied the rumor, and game devs were mum on the issue (probably due to non-disclosure agreements.)  We’re also getting rumors of buggy dev kits, buggyy console OS’s (both the Xbox One and the PS4 are getting substantial day one patches without which much or all of their functionality will remain locked), announced features that are not making launch, trouble squeezing performance out of the consoles’ AMD hardware (which, to be fair, was designed for low-cost notebooks and tablets.) Devs have confirmed the 720p Xbox One rumors.  Food for thought (and worry) there.

But hiccups and rumors aside, the question remains:  what are we going to play on the new hardware?  Let’s examine the offerings per console.  Remember, we’re talking onlyu about games that we’ll be able to purchase when we pick up our shiny new consoles?

I’m saddened to write that the PS4 got the short end of the stick when it comes to actual launch games.  Here’s the list, current as of this post:

Angry Birds Star Wars

Assassin’s Creed IV:  Black Flag

Battlefield 4

Blacklight:  Retribution

Call of Duty: Ghosts

Contrast

DC Universe Online

Divekick

FIFA 14

Flower

Injustice:  Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition

Just Dance 2014

Killzone Shadow Fall

Knack

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

Madden NFL 25

Minecraft

NBA 2K14

NBA Live 14

Need for Speed:  Rivals

Pinball Arcade

PlayRoom

Putty Squad

Resogun

Skylanders Swap Force

Sound Shapes

Super Motherload

Tiny Brains

Warframe

War Thunder

Not very compelling, is it?  The Wii U had a better launch lineup last year, and it was blasted by critics and hardcore gamers alike for allegedly lacking compelling titles.  There’s very little on this list that can’t be played elsewhere, and with better quality (PC).  So, for me, the only PS4 launch title I will be picking up on launch day is Knack, a fun-looking platformer by Sony’s Japan Studio and Chief Playstation 4 Architect Mark Cerny (of Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter fame.) I don’t have it on preorder, and Gamestop won’t allow you to preorder it anymore, because the games will actually hit stores days before the PS4 hardware does (though the Dualshock 4 and Playstation Eye camera are already in stores as of this writing.)

Now let’s take a look at the Xbox One’s launch lineup:

Assassin’s Creed IV:  Black Flag

Battlefield 4

Call of Duty:  Ghosts

Crimson Dragon

Dead Rising 3

FIFA 14

Fighter Within

Forza Motorsport 5

Just Dance 2014

Killer Instinct

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

LocoCycle

Madden NFL 25

NBA 2K14

Need for Speed Rivals

Powerstar Golf

Ryse: Son of Rome

Skylanders Swap Force

Zoo Tycoon

Zumba Fitness:  World Party

Things are a little better where the Xbox One is concerned.  There are a few more interesting exclusives, along with the mass-appeal multiplatform titles.  As I previously stated, in recent days, the issue of the power differential between the PS4 and the Xbox One has once again popped up, and first-person shooter fans are up in arms over what has come to be known as “Resolution Gate”.  Whether this will adversely affect Xbox One sales remains to be seen.  However, since I’m not a fan of the first-person shooter genre, and I have been very aware of both console’s power disparity from the start (check my previous posts here and in Google Plus), that does not affect my purchasing decisions.  For the Xbox One, I will be picking up Dead Rising 3 (loved the original, it was the first next-gen game I played), Crimson Dragon (by the legendary Panzer Dragoon team) and Forza Motorsport 5 (I had the chance to actually play the game at my local Microsoft Store, and was very impressed by it.)

One last thing:  the Wii U is still a viable next-gen option, it’s less expensive ($299) than the Xbox One($499) or PS4 ($399), and it has a much more compelling games lineup this Holiday Season (the new Super Mario 3D World launches on November 22nd, and it looks amazing.)  Those who say that the Wii U is too underpowered compared to the Xbox One and PS4 should consider than the Wii U has more games running at native 1080p than the Xbox One.

No matter which console you pick, I wish you happy gaming!  Console launches are always exciting, awesome times to be a gamer. J

THE GAME OF THE WEEK

The game of the week is Grand Theft Auto 5… I finished it, it took me 48 hours to complete, and I loved every minute of it.

THE MMO OF THE WEEK

There’s two, actually.  DC Universe Online has the Sons of Trigun DLC, which is lots of fun, and it’s about to be somewhat enhanced and reworked for the PS4 launch.

The other one is SW:TOR… it has become my MMO home.  Some of the character story arcs are just awesome, and the gamer community is really cool.

THE MOVIE OF THE WEEK

Ender’s Game.  Never mind the gay boycott, Orson Scott Card is not seeing a dime from the movie, go see it.

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