Even with release schedules becoming more spread out over the past few years, December is still a month known for its lack of significant video game releases. While this year isn’t going to buck any trends, there are still some promising games to be found. The month is led by the latest entry in the Zelda series, “The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks,” with other well-established franchises releasing games as well, including “Resident Evil,” “Silent Hill” and “Guitar Hero.” New IP’s “Rogue Warrior,” “Avatar” and “The Saboteur” round out the schedule.
As always, please remember that this list is not inclusive of every release for the month, and that release dates may be subject to change.
Rogue Warrior (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – December 1 – Website: www.roguewarrior.com
In 1992, a former Navy SEAL by the name of Richard Marcinko wrote “Rogue Warrior,” an autobiographical account of his military career and his work in founding two counter terrorist units. Seventeen years later, elements of that autobiography form the basis of Bethesda’s tactical first-person shooter of the same name. Players will be put in the role of Marcinko as he leads a counter-terrorist unit on a mission to recover ballistic missiles amidst the backdrop of a war between North and South Korea.
Avatar (DS/PC/PS3/PSP/Wii/Xbox 360) – December 1 – Website: www.avatargame.us.ubi.com
December will see James Cameron’s latest sci-fi epic hitting theaters, and Ubisoft is handling the game adaptation, which will be arriving a couple weeks before the movie. The film deals with Earth’s search for resources taking a military force to Pandora, a Jungle-like moon that is rich in minerals. A race of humanoids called the Na’vi inhabit Pandora and come into conflict with Earth’s forces. Because humans can’t survive the atmosphere of Pandora, the military creates Na’vi/human hybrids called Avatars, whose bodies can be controlled remotely by humans.
The game’s storyline will be a prequel to the film, and the third-person shooter gameplay will also feature some RPG elements that allow players to upgrade weapons and eq uipment. The PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game will also feature 3D, provided you have the equipment to take advantage of it.
MX vs. ATV Reflex (DS/PS3/PSP/Xbox 360 ) – December 1 – Website: www.mxvsatv.com
THQ’s latest entry into the “MX vs. ATV” series is sporting a revamped control scheme this time around. Players will use the right analog stick for body leans and tricks as opposed to the button presses of previous iterations. The game also features improved physics that will cause the terrain of a track to change based on the turns and crashes that occur each lap. The game’s online mode will allow up to 12 players to compete in standalone or progressive events.
Resident Evil Archives: Resident Evil Zero (Wii) – December 1
Originally debuting on the GameCube in 2002, “RE: Zero” makes it way to the Wii in North America this month. The game serves as a prequel to the original “Resident Evil” and follows STARS Bravo team member Rebecca Chambers, whose helicopter crash lands in the forest outside Raccoon City. She ends up teaming with a former Marine (Billy Coen) who was on his way to be executed when his transport was attacked. The two fight their way through zombie infested trains and underground research facilities while they unravel the secrets of the T-virus. One of the more unique features of this entry into the franchise was the partner system that had players controlling both characters throughout the game, switching between them to accomplish tasks and solve puzzles.
While essentially a port of the 2002 game, this version does feature an updated control scheme for the Wii, as well as the ability to use the GameCube or Wii Classic controllers.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS) – December 7 – Website: www.zelda.com/spirittracks
Set one hundred years after the events of “The Phantom Hourglass,” the game deals with an ancient evil that has been sealed beneath the land of Hyrule by Spirit Tracks, a kind of ethereal railroad that serves to keep the evil locked away. The Spirit Tracks start to disappear and Princess Zelda’s body is kidnapped, leaving her spirit to accompany Link on an adventure to restore the tracks and get her back in her own body.
Like its predecessor “The Phantom Hourglass,” “Spirit Tracks” features cel-shaded graphics and a stylus-driven control scheme. Link will use a steam-powered train to travel around the world, and restoring Spirit Tracks will allow him to access new areas.
The Saboteur (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – December 8 – Website: www.pandemicstudios.com/thesaboteur
Taking its inspiration from the exploits of a real life spy named William Grover-Williams, “The Saboteur” will have players take on the role of Gran Prix driver Sean Devlin in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II. Devlin’s task is to weaken the Nazis’ grip on the area and restore the people’s ‘Will to Fight.’ The game uses a color system that makes occupied areas appear black and white, only recovering their color when Devlin raises the ‘Will to Fight’ of the people in that area.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (Wii) – December 8 – Website: www.konami.com/shsm
In this reimagining of the original “Silent Hill” game, players will take on the role of Harry Mason, a man searching for his missing daughter in the town of Silent Hill. While the series has never really been about combat, this game removes that aspect entirely, as enemies are threats to be avoided. Harry will be equipped with a cell phone and a flashlight, which he must use to search for clues in the environment and solve puzzles while trying to find his daughter.
Guitar Hero: Van Halen (PS2/PS3/Wii/Xbox 360) – December 22 – Website: www.vanhalen.guitarhero.com
This band-specific iteration of the Guitar hero franchise is firmly focused on the “Diamond Dave” era of Van Halen. Twenty-five songs from the early VH years are featured, including “Hot for Teacher,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” and “Unchained.” There’s also nineteen guest acts in the game, with “Weezer,” “Foreigner” and “Blink-182” among them. Wolfgang Van Halen will round out the lineup of David Lee Roth and the brothers Van Halen. The Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone eras of the band will not be covered in the game.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii) – December 26 – Website: http://na.square-enix.com/ffcccb/
Released in Japan in November, “The Crystal Bearers” makes its way to North America this month. Events in the game are set a thousand years after the original Crystal Chronicles game, in a world that has been ravaged by war. The use of magic has been restricted to the Crystal Bearers, people who are able to access arcane powers through crystals that are embedded within them. The main character Layle is one such Crystal Bearer, whose crystal allows him to manipulate objects through a gravity-based power. The story involves an army of monsters led by “an adversary thought to have vanished from the pages of history.”
The game will take advantage of motion controls, and players with a second Wii remote will be able to assist the main player at points in the game.
That completes the CBR Games Roundup for the month of December. Check back with us in the New Year, when the list of big name releases will be picking up again. And don’t forget to stay tuned to CBR for creator interviews and expanded coverage of this and next year’s biggest releases.