NEW YORK — Fans of shooters are in for a double dose of stellar videogame action come the first week of November.
Sony Computer Entertainment America is shipping "Resistance 2" for PlayStation 3 from developer Insomniac Games on Nov. 4. Microsoft counters on Nov. 7 with the launch of Epic Games’ "Gears of War 2."
While Epic is obviously based in Cary, Insomniac recently chose office space in Chapel Hill and will have a team staffed by January 2009. By the end of this year, I expect both of these shooters to be in the Top 10 when it comes to game sales.
I had the chance to play a near-final version of "Resistance 2" on a rooftop bar just off Times Square in New York this week. Insomniac had all three variations of their new shooter playable, including the eight-player cooperative campaign, the single-player campaign and the 60-player online multiplayer. Anyone who played the original "Resistance: Fall of Man," which has sold over 3.5 million copies, knows it was a solid shooter. This game really improves every aspect of the original. The campaign, at least from what I played of it, has more action and a better pace. The eight-player co-op, which offers three unique classes and requires teamwork to compete against waves of aliens, is really addictive. And although 60 players seems like it would get confusing online, the grouping of squads with unique missions really manages the action.
The graphics are great, the new guns are awesome and the variety of Chimera enemies, including a hulking beast in Chicago that’s far scarier than the Cloverfield monster, really serves up an awesome experience.
When it comes to "Gears of War 2," arguably the most-anticipated shooter this fall (or at least up there with "Call of Duty: World at War"), I’ll get plenty of hands-on time with that final game in San Francisco next week. Epic will have the entire campaign and all multiplayer available for gaming press to play.
I have played "Gears 2" single-player at E3, and the level I played, which offered up a cool new flamethrower and some gnarly Brumack enemies, was awesome. But what I’m really excited about is the new multiplayer Horde mode, which allows up to five players to join up and fight against 50 waves of Locust enemies. It has a very arcade-style feel and it allows newbies to team up with experienced players for a very balanced fight.
Any way you slice it – and most gamers are going to fork over $60 for each of these games (if not more with the special editions) – while the rest of the world focuses on the presidential election, gamers will have two huge games to tackle.
Factor in the massive and divergent online options, and these sequels should serve up plenty of challenges to keep gamers busy for another two years.
That should be just in time for the third installments of each franchise to hit store shelves.