Incoming Fall

As August is nearing its end I find myself, as per usual, gripped by my late summer video game malaise.  Despite being in the midst of several unfinished games I find myself frquently unwilling to attempt anything beyond some mindless Guitar Hero or some forrays into the pacific front in Battlefield: 1943.  The latter, while an entertaining and well polished game, has enough minor flaws that when combined with my own console FPS suckitude makes it as much an exercise in frustration as anything else.  Hopefully the latest patch for the Witcher has solved the crash bug that had stalled my play previously and I noted that the first DLC for Red Faction hit last week, meaning its about time I finished liberating the red planet from it cruel oppressor.  However, despite these unfinished games and an amount of free time stretched perilously thin, I find myself staring down a gauntlet of releases in both books and games that is rather frightening (a guantlet that, despite a brief pause for breath during the November/December holiday season, looks to kick up again come January).  I figured I can spend some time sharing some of the titles in both books and games that I’m excited about.

I am an unabashed Harmonix fanboy.  As far as I can tell they are a company of musicians who also happen to make games.  Assuming all goes well, and I’ve seen nothing to indicate otherwise The Beatles Rock Band is set to release on September 9th.  While I won’t be purchasing a new set of instruments, my cramped living space is already overflowing with fake plastic guitars, I’ll still be picking up the solo game.  I’ve actually been deliberately avoiding a lot of the press about the game but have gleaned enough to know that Harmonix seems to be attempting to craft an “experience” as well as game; trying to capture the essence of the Beatles in polygonal glory (I should also note that 9/9 is also the date the entire Beatles discography is being re-released on CD).  A week later, on September 15th, Bethesda releases WET. Despite the plethora of high-profile titles shown at E3 WET, a game previously unknown to me, had my favorite trailer.  The over the top action, badass female hero, and general stylistic flair got me pretty excited and can’t wait to give the final product a try.  I’m not expecting a masterpiece of course, but if the game is even half as fun as the trailer I’m willing to call it a success.

Over in book land September 15th also see the release of David Anthony Durham’s The Other Lands sequel to 2007’s Acacia. Acacia was an intricate introduction to a new fantasy world filled with believable characters embroiled in a epic struggled supported by a historians eye for detail and The Other Lands is one of my most-anticipated reads of 2009. Getting towards the end of September we have Microsoft and Bungie’s latest Halo entry, Halo 3: ODST on 9/22.  While the game centers on more “mundane” troops and is absent of the Master Chief the idea seems to be something akin to a sci-fi retelling of Band of Brothers.  In addition to the more grounds-eye perspective of the whole Halo saga, Halo 3: ODST, brings a more stealthy approach to game play including the return of the original scoped pistol and more limited ammo supplies.  The game will also see the introduction of a new multiplayer mode, Firefight, that is  a cooperative PvE mode that sounds like loads of fun.  Say what you want about the Halo series but I expect this game to polished to a mirror sheen and that it will feature some new music from the O’Donnel and Salvatori duo.  Unfortunatley, 9/22 is a rough day since it also sees the release of Margart Atwood’s Year of the Flood andTom Lloyd’s The Grave Thief. A somewhat sequel to 2004’s Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood is a post-apocalyptic novel set amongst a carnival.  Atwood is, in my opinion, one of this centuries Great Authors and a bit of a unsung hero in the genre.  The Grave Thief continues the tale of Lord Isak as he struggled with his own destiny while trying to keep his nation and his people from the clutches of enemy whose face is barely known.  Bringing up the tale end of September is Cherie Priest’s The Boneshaker.  Though she’s been around for a while now Priest is one of my favorite new discoveries of year and The Boneshaker will hopefully see her garnering some more attention.  An alternate history steampunk novel, with zombies (and airships of course!), The Boneshaker looks to be an exciting read in a world that is both familiar and strange; from what I’ve read of the ARC so far this is going to be one helluva ride.

Moving into October the month starts with the release of Rogue Warrior on 10/1. Developed by the folks over at Rebellion and published by Bethesda it is another game I haven’t been following but one whose execution, at the least, will be the watermark against which I measure my expectations for Aliens vs. Predator; Rebellion’s other big project.  The E3 trailer was interesting, though it didn’t do too much to differentiate it from the crowd of stealth-actioners out there; it looked mostly re-rendered and I’ve yet to see any gameplay however.  However it’s on 10/14 that Rocktober comes into full effect with the release of Double Fine’s Brutal Legend.  Any time my tastes as a metal fan and video game player manage to meet is a thing to celebrate and Brutal Legend, with it’s near who’s who of metal cameos, looks like it is going to be a damned fun game.  Also releasing on 10/14 is Ken Schole’s Canticle, the second book in the Psalms of Isaak series last year’s Lamentation.  Lamentation, though leaving my slightly underwhelmed, had an endearing cast of characters, particularly the automaton Isaak, and a resounding mystery that I look forward to seeing explored further in Canticle.  October 20th sees the release of Borderlands; a sort of Diablo-come-sci-fi with four-player co-op PvE.  I’m pretty excited about the game but my purchase is likely contingent on whether or not I can convince any friends to join me.  Bring up the tale end of the month is Obsidian’s action/espionage RPG Alpha Protocol on 10/27.  I was a bit underwhelmed by the E3 demos I saw but I’ve enjoyed Obsidian’s work to-date and I’m curious to see how this strange genre blend turns out.   Though currently being serialized by Tor.com, October 27th also sees the hardcover release of Cory Doctor’s The Makers.  I’ll be honest, I have no idea what this book is about, but I loved Little Brother and am excited to see what Doctorow has cooked up next.  Last the 27th also sees the release of a book called Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica.  This is a bit of a serendipitous find and I am curiously intrigued by the book description from Amazon:

Indigo Springs is a sleepy town where things seem pretty normal . . . until Astrid’s father dies and she moves into his house. She discovers that for many years her father had been accessing the magic that flowed, literally, in a blue stream beneath the earth, leaking into his house. When she starts to use the liquid “vitagua” to enchant everyday items, the results seem innocent enough: a “’chanted” watch becomes a charm that means you’re always in the right place at the right time; a “’chanted” pendant enables the wearer to convince anyone of anything . . . But as events in Indigo Springs unfold and the true potential of vitagua is revealed, Astrid and her friends unwittingly embark on a journey fraught with power, change, and a future too devastating to contemplate. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends as Astrid discovers secrets from her shrouded childhood that will lead her to a destiny stranger than she could have imagined . .

Sounds interesting, no? This looks to be Dellamonica’s first novel and I’m always excited to give new authors a try.

Of course I needn’t mention that The Gathering Storm is going to be released on 10/27 as well do I?  I’m trying desperately to keep a firm lid on my excitement but it’s like ignoring a really bad itch.   A really, really, really, bad itch.

November seems to causing less trouble for my wallet however.  As of right now only two titles, both games, really stand out.  Despite the best attempts by EA’s marketing department to quench my excitement for Dragon Age: Origins which is supposedly coming out on 11/3.  I am still none-the-less cautiously optimistic about Bioware’s latest.  BG2 is one of my most beloved games of all time so I’m hoping that all this “spritual successor” talk is true and all this “new shit” marketing is an EA snafu.  Last, but not least, is Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2 on 11/17.  While I remained woefully unable to convince anyone to purchase the previous game I’m still excited for the sequel; though as a result of my failure I’m going for the Steam purchase this time around.  The addition of melee weapons in this incarnation is enough to get me excited but the original game was such a polished experience that I’m trusting Valve to bring that same spit and polish to the sequel.

And that is about that.  Quite frankly that should be more than enough.  None of the above includes the fact that I will likely find myself significantly distracted by September’s bevy of fall premieres as Bones, Fringe, Dollhouse, Castle, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Heroes, and Supernatural all return in September (cry for my DVR); it is a good thing I’m not a football fan.  So if you, like me, have been wilting as a result of the slow July/August gaming months rest assured that relief, and perhaps over-indulgence, is just around the corner.

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