This month we have a handsome number of AAA titles lined up, which is likely to pose a serious risk to the health of your wallet. For starters, Xbox bread-and-butter exclusive franchise Halo returns for a fourth iteration. This is followed by everyone's favourite billion dollar game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. This month's share of regurgitated annual fare is the courtesy of WWE '13 and Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Old schoolers, on the other hand, will be chuffed to hear that their favourite bald-headed assassin returns for yet another round of hide and seek. By that, I mean hiding dead bodies and seeking targets to stealth kill in Hitman: Absolution. Not surprisingly, there's not a single new high-profile IP in sight. However, what these games lack in originality will definitely be made up by dazzling spectacles enabled by obscenely high budgets. Let's take a closer look at the notable releases slated for this month.
Releasing in: Early November
Platform: PS3, X360, Wii
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... arrrgh my backbone!
Kids and adults alike love fake wrestling, and that has ensured a steady success for the WWE franchise. The latest edition replaces the WrestleMania theme with the relatively more recent Attitude Era, which is reflected in the main game modes as well. Also on the table is a reworked Predator 2 engine that promises fluid animation, better collision detection and a weight detection system that prevents puny wrestlers from lifting giants such as Big Show. Repetitive commentary, which was a major source of complaint in the past games is touted to be more situational, whereas a brand new OMG! Moments feature intends to add a bit of spectacle and unpredictability to the proceedings. At any rate, no matter how the game turns out to be, the WWE franchise has enough pull to ensure respectable sales, because there will always be enough kids who'll blindly buy the game to play with their favourite wrestlers.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Releasing on: 2nd November
Platform: PC, PS3, X360, PS Vita, Wii U
Looks like the Rhino squad is up to its old tricks again
I'm not a big fan of last year's Hot Pursuit reboot made by none other than Criterion—the same people behind the Burnout series. Hopefully, the studio will do justice to the upcoming remake of NFS: Most Wanted, which happens to be my second most favourite NFS game after Slightly Mad Studios' sublime NFS: Shift. Interestingly, after the debacle that was NFS: Run, the developer has expressed its desire to go easy on experimentation with gameplay elements from Burnout. Expect Criterion's take on the same cops and robbers, with Burnout Paradise-like openness and EA's Autolog support.
Releasing on: 6th November
Halo 4 sees the return of the Master Chief after a long hiatus
After the absence of Master Chief from the past few games following Halo 3, the series protagonist returns in Halo 4. This time the series has been envisioned from ground up as a trilogy, so the plot and the experience will be seamless across the next three games. Co-op seems to be back in vogue, which is a mainstay in Halo 4's campaign. Up to three additional players can jump in your single player campaign. The game additionally includes the new Spartan Ops single player mode that replaces the Firefight mode found in Reach and ODST. The missions in this mode will be delivered incrementally in an episodic format over a period of ten weeks. With Cortana gone crazy, it's interesting to see how the story evolves.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Releasing on: 13th November
Platform: PC, PS3, X360, Wii U
Erm... is this more modern than, well, Modern Warfare?
Everyone and their uncle loves the segments in Call of Duty where you have to use some sort of UAV or remote controller missile tank to rain hot death upon enemies. Treyarch's sequel to Black Ops has all that by the bucket loads. Set in the year 2025, expect a lot of UAVs, mechs, cyberwarfare and other modern instruments of war in the upcoming game. This instalment is more adventurous than its predecessors with its branching storyline, where your choices result in permanent deaths of characters and has wider ramification on the overall story. When a video game ropes in Robert Downey Jr for the trailer, you know that it won't skimp while delivering the most explosive cinematic experience that gamers now expect from the franchise.
Releasing on: 20th November
Platform: PC, PS3, X360
The world's most dangerous bald man returns after a long hiatus with Hitman: Absolution. After having previewed the game, I can say that it retains all the elements that made the original games such a compelling experience, while also incorporating deep customisation that makes the game accessible to gamers with all kinds of skill levels and patience. The dizzying homicidal variety on offer surpasses even the comprehensiveness of Hitman: Blood Money. The upcoming game cleverly mixes the old-school gameplay of the series with new-fangled cinematic flair and a level of interactivity that will undoubtedly make it one of the best releases this year.