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Yahoo: Top 20 Games for Fall 2008


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325w ago - Here are Yahoo's picks for the Top 20 games of fall, 2008:

Lego Batman
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS
Genre: Action
Release Date: September 23

The caped crusader gets an angular makeover in Lego Batman. Protect Gotham as Batman and sidekick Robin from a rash of criminals, including nefarious villains like The Penguin, Two-Face, The Riddler and Mr. Freeze. Utilize a wealth of Bat-gadgets to survive over 30 levels in another comical Lego adventure.

Why It's Hot:
It's Lego. It's Batman. If you can't suss out why this is hot, we're not sure we can help you. Go sit in the corner and put on your Bat-dunce cap.

Why It's Not:
We stand by these Lego games because they are that very rare breed of video game that appeals equally to parents and kids. Still, they're all sort of the same game. If you've played Lego Star Wars and Lego Indy, don't expect a huge change in gameplay with the blocky Dark Knight.

Dead Space
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Genre: Action
Release Date: October 14

In space, no one can hear you scream....but scream you will while playing EA's survival-horror game Dead Space. Set on a spaceship overrun with hostile alien beasties, this sci-fi frightfest is as cinematic as it is sinister.

Why It's Hot:
One word: dismemberment. The core theme to the game's action gameplay is your ability to take apart the alien baddies piece by slimy piece using a wealth of hi-tech weaponry. It's gruesome, for sure, but also loads of fun. Thanks to its potent combo of fancy graphics and creepy atmosphere -- think Aliens meets Resident Evil -- Dead Space has garnered heaps of pre-release praise for good reason.

Why It's Not:
Look past the spectacle (and EA's marketing muscle), and Dead Space starts to feel like run-of-the-mill survival horror. The action is grotesque, but is this really new?

Fable II
Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: RPG
Release Date: October 21

Hero worship hits new heights in Fable II. Designed by legendary game maker Peter Molyneux, the follow-up to the hit Xbox role-playing game sports a smorgasbord of innovative new features, including a revamped combat system, co-op play and the world's most helpful canine companion.

Why It's Hot:
Molyneux isn't considered one of the best in the biz for nothing. The man behind revolutionary games like Populous, Black & White and Dungeon Keeper hit the jackpot with the first Fable (over 3 million copies), and based on Fable II's amazing list of features, there's a good chance he'll do it again. Plus, nobody talks a better game.

Why It's Not:
Sometimes, he talks too much. Molyneux has developed an annoying habit of under-delivering on his grandiose ideas. Though early looks at Fable II have been positive, there's still a decent chance it will come up short.

LittleBigPlanet
Platforms: PS3
Genre: Action
Release Date: October 21

Ever wish your video games had a little more YOU in them? Then don't pass up LittleBigPlanet. This PS3 exclusive lets you flex your creativity by shaping your own worlds and sharing them with others. Featuring amazing physics, adorable characters, and intuitive art tools, it's a whole new way to play games.

Why It's Hot:
Spend five minutes with LittleBigPlanet and you'll want to spend five more. As cute as it is cool, the game's deep level editor is really easy to use, making even novice gamers feel like brilliant game makers. We'd be into it even if it didn't feature crazy, physics-based gameplay...which it does.

Why It's Not:
While it's a great term to throw around at pitch meetings, "user-created content" isn't always hot. Actually, it's usually not. There's a reason why some people get paid to make games and why other people pay to play those games.

Far Cry 2
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: First-person shooter
Release Date: October 24

Gaming goes past the horizon in this sumptuous shooter. Track down a no good arms dealer called "The Jackal" by infiltrating two opposing factions in a war-torn fictional African country.

Why It's Hot:
It's got range. Loads of it. Absurdly open-ended and painstakingly realistic, Far Cry 2 delivers a massive environment teeming with life. Blow up a tree and watch it eventually grow back. Set fire to a plain and watch it slowly spread across the savannah. Get shot and you have to dig out the bullet. If you want virtual reality, you'll find it in Far Cry 2.

Why It's Not:
The problem with open-ended games is the "open" part. Sure, it's cool that you can wander around a fake African desert sniping at foliage for a few hours, but, uh, why? Let's hope Far Cry 2 is as thorough with its enemy AI as it is with its attention to detail. And naming the bad guy "The Jackal?" Is this a Steven Segal film?

Guitar Hero: World Tour
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2
Genre: Music Rhythm
Release Date: October 26

Hey! Who dropped these drums in my Guitar Hero?! And a mic, too? And a music editor to boot? Clearly, Guitar Hero: World Tour isn't just a cookie-cutter entry in the popular music game series, but a full-on band simulator sporting snazzy instruments, a bajillion songs and at least one mode Rock Band has yet to even try.

Why It's Hot:
It goes to eleven. First, Rock Band expanded upon Guitar Hero's basic concept, and now Guitar Hero returns the favor, sporting five drums (one more than Rock Band), 86 tracks (two more than Rock Band) and an innovative music studio that will let users create and share their very own tracks using the fake instruments themselves. And so far, feedback on the drum set has been very, very positive.

Why It's Not:
Rock Band 2 already rocks plenty hard, plus it benefits from having nearly 3 times as many songs available for download. While the music studio is a cool idea, it's nearly as robust as legit recording program ProTools. If you know to use that, why make fake music here? And unless you have a living room the size of a football field, good luck fitting all this gear in the house without turning your pad into a cluttered Toys 'R Us.

C&C: Red Alert 3
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Strategy
Release Date: October 28

Return to the campy, over-the-top world of Red Alert with this anticipated sequel. Set in an alternate reality in which the U.S. and Soviets use futuristic weaponry to fight for control of the planet, the next installment features a new faction, new strategies, and new actors behaving badly.

Why It's Hot:
Strategy games tend to take themselves seriously, but not Red Alert. With appearances by the likes of ex-Trekkie George Takei, ex-Rocky Horror transvestite Tim Curry and even UFC champ Randy Couture, it's bound to be a cheesy blast. Plus, one of the Soviet units is an armored attack bear. Beat that, Ringling Brothers.

Why It's Not:
C&C has been around for a long time, and while we're excited for them to continue to explore the fun Red Alert universe, this new game doesn't look to break new ground so much as retread it.

Fallout 3
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: RPG
Release Date: October 28

Explore the apocalypse in Bethesda's long-awaited Fallout 3. The sequel to two of the most cherished role-playing games ever, the game infuses the great non-linear gameplay of role-playing epic Oblivion with dark, gut-busting humor, deep character customization, and a new combat system so smart it makes nuclear fission look dumb.

Why It's Hot:
It's Fallout plus Oblivion -- two great tastes that taste great together. Action can be handled in real-time or through the turn-based VATS system, letting both wannabe Rambos and strategy buffs enjoy it equally. The writing is brilliant, the post-apocalyptic world is riveting, and the depth is unparalleled. Need we go on?

Why It's Not:
Good question. We'll get back to you on that when the radiation wears off in a few months.

Resistance 2
Platforms: PS3
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: November 4

The follow-up to the darling of the PS3 launch picks up where its predecessor left off. The Chimera are still trashing the planet, but now you can take the fight back to them in a solo or co-op campaigns. The multiplayer gets a boost, too, supporting an impressive 60 players at once.

Why It's Hot:
The original Resistance was a categorical hit, and this one goes even bigger. We mean that literally: some of the alien bosses are Godzilla big, towering over skyscrapers and requiring crafty use of the game's awesome new weaponry to take down. If you need help, you can get it in the cool new co-op campaign.

Why It's Not:
At its worst, the first game was a boilerplate, linear first-person shooter that didn't really do anything innovative. While it adds some nice features, don't expect Resistance 2 to reinvent the genre, because it won't.

James Bond: Quantum of Solace
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS
Genre: Action
Release Date: November 4

Shake (never stir) up your fall gaming with the smooth agent's latest foray, Quantum of Solace. Based on both the upcoming movie and previous Bond blockbuster Casino Royale, the game lets players exact revenge as 007 himself, introducing a new cover system, quick time events, and new multiplayer hi-jinks.

Why It's Hot:
This isn't just another shoddily produced movie tie-in. All the major talent is on board, from new Bond Daniel Craig to old beauty Dame Judi Dench, and the game is running on the outstanding Call of Duty 4 engine. And if the multiplayer is anything like legendary Bond game GoldenEye, we'll surely fall for this rugged spy.

Why It's Not:
Have you played a James Bond game in the past couple years? 007 has been locked up in video game jail thanks to a slew of mediocre efforts. That's a tough stigma to overcome, even for a guy carrying a license to kill.

Tom Clancy's Endwar
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, DS
Genre: Strategy
Release Date: November 4

In the year 2020, a space arms race tips a tension-packed Earth over the edge into a new World War. Good thing you can do something about it. As the leader of one of three factions, you'll command soldiers, tanks, and helicopter gunships. You'll drop troops from space. You'll probably blow up the entire planet, but hey, you can't make an omelet without breaking an egg or two.

Why It's Hot:
Endwar stars your favorite characters from past Tom Clancy games like Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six. It's packed with awesome, high-tech toys. You can hop into a massively-multiplayer, persistent online world war that'll play out over many days. And coolest of all, you can play the game entirely with spoken commands.

Why It's Not:
Having long ago run out of books, Clancy's involvement in these games has shrunk to the point of stamping his name on the cover and receiving a large check. Can the team pull off a convincing WWIII scenario without his input? And what if you say "Shoot that guy!" but the game thinks you said "Drop all your grenades at your feet, right now?"

Gears of War 2
Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Release Date: November 7

Marcus Fenix and chums are back to wreak havoc on the Locust in one of the year's biggest Xbox 360 releases. Cities are disappearing underground and a mysterious plague sweeps the planet. Only one thing can save us: drop-in, drop-out co-operative multiplayer, more vehicle missions, and very large guns. Wait, that's 3 things.

Why it's hot:
Come on. It's Gears of War. You have a gun with a chainsaw welded to the bottom. And you can cut dudes in half. It's tough to lose a hand when you're packing cards like those. Well, okay, it's pretty easy to lose a hand when you have a chainsaw welded to your gun, but you get the point.

Why it's not:
Haven't we already played this one before? It's going to take some real creativity from the boys at Epic to add a new spin to Gears of War's samey, shooting-gallery gameplay. Don't let us down.

Call of Duty: World at War
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Genre: First-person shooter
Release Date: November 11

Jumping through time like Michael J. Fox in Bill and Ted's magic phone booth, the Call of Duty series is now returning to its more familiar World War II roots for 2008. The Eastern Front gets the CoD treatment this year, and both the Russians and the U.S. forces will be on hand for their share of realistic first-person remembrance.

Why it's Hot:
Flammable environments, four-player co-op gameplay, and two campaigns mean this won't be your grandfather's WWII shooter. Plus, it runs on the smooth CoD 4 engine.

Why it's Not:
Sweet! Call of Duty 4 was awesome, and surely this is from the same develo...oh, wait, it's not? It's from Treyarch? The guys that made the lackluster Call of Duty 3 and all those Spider-Man games? War might indeed be hell.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
Platforms: PC
Genre: Online RPG
Release Date: November 13

Are you in need of a crippling new addiction -- or, more likely, the return of an old one? Blizzard has just what you need with the newest expansion for uber-MMO World of Warcraft. Boasting a player base that's half the size of Australia, this is one gaming juggernaut that never seems to run out of gears.

Why it's Hot:
New dungeons. New player classes. New items. A new continent. Wrath of the Lich King packs more "new" than a list of all the states that start with "N." If you play WoW, you need this. It's that simple.

Why it's Not:
Let's be honest: it's just gonna be the same old WoW. If you're burned out on the game, you're burned out on the game, and this isn't going to rekindle your fire. Plus, aren't you enjoying all that free time you've had since you quit?

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Action / Adventure
Release Date: November 14

You could be forgiven for not recognizing the Banjo-Kazooie name; the last time this charismatic bear-bird duo were unleashed on home consoles was back in the days of the Nintendo 64. But they're back, and hitting the Xbox 360 in a platformer with a twist: most of the gameplay takes place in vehicles you design yourself.

Why It's Hot:
You can design and build your own vehicles. How cool is that? Plus, the game's next-gen physics system means that Banjo and Kazooie will really put your creations to the test.

Why It's Not:
Since being bought by Microsoft, once-proud developer Rare is a shadow of its former self. If they're going to make Banjo-Kazooie work, they're going to need to get some of that old magic back again. Can they pull it off?

Animal Crossing: City Folk
Platforms: Wii
Genre: Simulation
Release Date: November 16

Trying to sum up the widespread appeal of the Animal Crossing franchise is futile; it's one of those games you just have to play to understand. You move into a cartoon town, growing fruit, catching fish, buying new outfits and (gradually) paying off your mortgage. The Wii iteration takes that a step further by letting you visit other people's gardens, or exchange data with the older DS version of the game.

Why it's Hot:
Oh, sweet, sweet Animal Crossing. How many grizzled, sneering old gamers have poured hundreds of hours into catching that perfect fish or getting that last upgrade to Tom Nook's curio store? Despite its cuddly appearance, Animal Crossing is so addictive, it's scary.

Why it's Not:
Look, Nintendo. We get it. You're non-threatening and happy-go-lucky and Grandma loves you from the bottom of her wrinkled heart. Now will you please give us something that isn't a remake?

Left 4 Dead
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Genre: First-person shooter
Release Date: November 18

Got friends? Ever wanted to be pitted with them against a horde of zombie-like, disease-infected humans? Yeah, us too, and the high-speed action doozie Left 4 Dead gives you exactly that opportunity.

Why It's Hot:
Half-Life 2. Portal. Team Fortress 2. It's one of the Great Truths of video games: anything Left 4 Dead creator Valve makes is worth playing, and Left 4 Dead's co-op, undead-horde approach smells as fresh as a three-month-old zombie smells fetid.

Why It's Not:
Sadly, Left 4 Dead's Infected are more like the fast zombie maniacs from 28 Days Later, not George Romero's Dawn of the Dead shuffling menaces. But we'll do our best not to hold that against it.

Need for Speed Undercover
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP, iPhone
Genre: Racing
Release Date: November 18

Let's face it: 2008 hasn't been a great year for traditional racing games. But here's one we're hoping will make gearheads smile even more than huffing petrol does. Undercover promises a cross-platform, high-octane set of thrills and a star appearance from Hong Kong hottie Maggie Q.

Why It's Hot:
Other than Maggie Q? This time, the police were smart enough to track you using helicopters, and although you play the role of an undercover cop, don't think they're going to go easy on you. You've got to make it look convincing, after all.

Why It's Not:
EA is playing catch-up with this series; its last outing, ProStreet, wasn't great. Can Need For Speed race back into the spotlight?

Tomb Raider: Underworld
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PS2
Genre: Action / Adventure
Release Date: November 18

Lara Croft is back for the eighth installment in one of video gaming's longest running series. This time, she's faced with destructible environments, a new combat system, and a focus on open-world, interactive gameplay.

Why It's Hot:
Eidos hit upon the only way to make Indiana Jones more cool (make him female and athletic instead of male and grizzled) and bless them, they're still making that formula work. The solid Tomb Raider: Legend proved Lara still had a few tricks up her sleeve.

Why It's Not:
Like big screen counterpart Angelina Jolie's obsession with adoption, we're wondering if the Tomb Raider shtick is played out at this point. Wait, we were wondering that about Tomb Raider 2 as well. One of these days we're going to be right

Prince of Persia
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Action / Adventure
Release Date: December 3

Forget everything you know about the Prince of Persia series -- the latest installment has a new star, a new supporting cast, and a new plot. It will have the same blend of acrobatic action and lively combat, but this time you're joined by a sidekick, Elika, to help you along the way.

Why It's Hot:
The last time Ubisoft updated this series they came up with the superb Sands of Time, rightly remembered as one of the best platform games of its era. Can they do the same thing again?

Why It's Not:
Sidekick games inevitably stand or fall on the likability and intelligence of their supporting character. It's a tough job, and if Ubisoft can't get Elika right, the game will vanish as fast as the Prince would if you greased his hands with lard.

Screenshots and video trailers can be see for each game from the link at the top of this article.



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