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After three years of bad press, Sony finally picked up some traction with a few strategic moves that while late, were large enough to make a difference. Of particular note was the long awaited price drop to the palatable $299 mark – which when coupled with their Trojan Horse Blu-Ray drive, made for a no-brainer impulse purchase. In addition, the new hotness of the PS3 Slim, timed with the aforementioned price drop, led a lot of gamers to finally procure a Playstation. That this system had been absent from many media centers for so long was a major shock given Sony’s decade long stranglehold on the market.
Topping off their year of fine accomplishments, Sony released some stellar first party titles including the best single player experience I’ve had in the last five years, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. This is an important property, on par with Microsoft’s control of Halo, and it serves as not just a great game but a tremendous entertainment experience as well. Sony will do well to keep the Naughty Dog fed and happy.
2010 looks to open strong for them with the one-two punch of Quantum Dream’s Heavy Rain and Sony’s internally developed, God of War 3. While the latter game will definitely grab my gaming dollars, as I am a huge fan of that franchise and long to see which deity Kratos destroys next, I’m picking Heavy Rain as my most anticipated game as I am eager to see how successfully Quantum Dream comes to creating that true cinematic experience.
Two days ago, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata let slip in an interview with the Japanese press that the next Zelda title, built from the ground up for the Wii, would be released by the end of this year. That came as a huge shock to me as this title, which had only been teased in a handful of concept artwork, has largely been absent from Nintendo’s prior conference appearances and the company appeared to have their core fans appeased with the dual release of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M for release sometime in 2010. When you factor in the rumors that refuse to die that an HD Wii is due for release in 2011, it’s easy to connect the dots and assume the next Zelda will be a launch title for this current generation of high def gaming.
So, while Zelda would be my no brainer pick, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Which leaves my original pick, Warren Spector’s Epic Mickey. While the screenshots revealed thus far don’t match the dark whimsy of those concept art pieces that appeared last year, Spector is a genius developer who truly shaped the way games play today with his late 90’s masterpiece, Deus Ex. While many contemporary action and RPG titles offer gamers the ability to follow light or dark allegiances that have lasting consequences on the narrative development, it was Spector who fine-tuned the art of handing players the ability to choose their own adventure.
Spector is a self-avowed Disney fan (and historian) and when his company was folded into Disney Interactive, he cobbled a dark fable of forgotten characters in revolt over their lost fortune and fame. These are former cartoons left to the ravages of time who suddenly strike out at the face of the organization; aiming to take Mickey down for the simple twist of fate that made him a household name recognized the world over. That’s a compelling hook and I’m dying to journey through Spector’s take on the Magic Kingdom and see what he’s done with the place.
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