We all know that Smash Brothers Brawl and Mario Kart are going to be the Wii’s big guns this year, along with Too Human and Fable 2 on the Xbox 360 and Metal Gear Solid and Little Big Planet on the PS3.
We’ve been hearing about these titles ad nauseum for the last few years. While they’re sure to be great, what about the lesser-known titles? Here are the best games you don’t know about yet, but will.
Brutal Legend: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
From the mind of Tim Schaefer, the man behind such cult classics as Psychonauts, Grim Fandango and Day of The Tentacle comes the tale of Eddie Riggs (voiced by none other than Jack Black) — a heavy metal roadie sucked back in time and forced to lead an enslaved civilization’s uprising.
Commanding everything from demons to barbarians and everything in between, Legend is Schaefer’s love letter to the world of Heavy Metal (already confirmed are cameos by the immortal Dio and Lemmy from Motorhead).
Not much is actually known about the gameplay. Schaefer was able to shed some light in a recent interview, however.
“We have it pigeonholed as a third person action adventure in an open-world environment, and the open-world thing that’s important to me is that we want to make a real world — the world of Brutal Legend — like a place that exists, where crazy beasts are wondering around, as well as epic characters,” Schaefer told IGN. “It’s just all real, y’know, you’re not just going down some track. You put this hotrod together and you can just drive all over the world, and find all these little nooks and crannies. And that’s the kind of stuff that we hinted at in Psychonauts”
Schaefer also went on to hint at being able to control members of the society — dubbed headbangers — similar to the way troops are controlled in tactical shooter like Ghost Recon or even Oddworld.
Psychonauts was nothing short of genius, and Schaefer has never seemed more excited about a project. This could be the game that takes him from cult favorite to household name.
Saboteur: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
I know what you’re thinking: another WWII game — yaaaawn.
Sure, the source material of EA Games’ upcoming war piece may seem less than inspired, but everything else about it feels fresh and new, especially its Schindler’s List-style color/black and white art and lighting. What makes the art even cooler is that it plays into the game’s storyline. As one would expect, WWII era France is a pretty dreary place — the Nazi soldiers and aura of death have left the city to be blanketed in black and white. Every mission you pass, as British race car driver, turned rebel Sean Devlinn brings more and more color to the world.
Developer Pandemic Studios (Mercenaries 2) has promised varied missions and open-world gameplay to further differentiate Saboteur from the usual WWII fodder. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this game slip into 2009 though, as Pandemic has been delaying titles left and right these days.
Alan Wake: Xbox 360, Windows
If this were one year ago, Alan Wake would not be on the “under-the-radar” list. It was arguably one of the most anticipated games of the current console generation, and then came the delays. It seemed as if Mr. Wake would be joining the ranks of Duke Nukem Forever and BC in the land of limbo, but Remedy Games assures us that the game is on track for a fall 2008 release.
The visuals in Wake are nothing short of breathtaking. Everything from the character animations, to the use of light and shadow in the game’s small town is absolutely gorgeous.
In the game, Alan Wake is a successful horror writer, who has since seen his own world fall apart. To get a fresh start on his new book, based on his nightmares. When he gets there, he realizes that something is going horribly wrong — as what he writes is coming true.
Look for the game to be a mix of action, adventure and mystery similar to Remedy’s previous title — Max Payne.
Fall (Amazon says June 1, we’ll see)
Like Alan Wake, Afrika is visually stunning, except in a completely different way.
This non-violent safari simulator features photo-realistic animals and environments, along with like-life animations and conditions.
While a picture taking game may not excite the average gamer, Afrika could be of Sony’s keys to getting back into the console race in 2008.
Think about it. What is really driving the Wii? It’s not hardcore Japanese games like No More Heroes or the ports of established franchises. The Wii is appealing to non-gamers with casual, interactive experiences.
If Sony can grab hold of this market with a casual game that looks ten times better than anything on the Wii, it could lessen Nintendo’s dominance quite a bit.
Boom Blox: Wii
When the world saw Steven Spielberg at E3 some year’s ago, rumors began to swirl why he was there. We now get our answer (well, kind of — he was seen at the Microsoft and Sony booths as well) with Boom Blox for the Wii.
While the Wii is full of puzzle games, EA is claiming that Blox uses the Wii-mote in new and more interactive ways than anything on the Wii. Based heavily on physics. Boom Blox seems like a high-octane version of Jenga, but as the trailer shows, players must use the Wii-mote and nunchuck in a variety of ways to destroy towers and structures created by your enemies.
Plus, it’s a cartoon world envisioned by Steven Spielberg. Does anyone remember how awesome Animaniacs was?
Yeah. Let that sink in for a bit.