A Wish List for Gamers
"We really wanted to drive home that if you want to stretch your $60 out, this is the best way to do it," said Ryan Schneider as he shot saw blades through an aggressive bunch of zombie monsters on the TV screen during a recent visit to Washington.
The action video game Resistance 2 was in the works well before the current economic troubles, and Schneider's employer, Insomniac Games, is hoping that the title will find its way onto the wish lists of a few million or so gamers this holiday season. Like many new action titles, the game has a single-player storyline, but also features modes that let fans play with or against their friends online. You could spend a lot of time with this title, in other words.
Consumer electronics sales have been down this season, yet the video game industry has been relatively stable. Sony, for example, recently slashed expectations for holiday sales of flat panel TVs and digital cameras, but then nudged up its projection for the PlayStation Portable for this quarter by a million units.
Industry analyst Michael Pachter said video games are "very recession resistant." Maybe the typical Xbox-owning family isn't going on the ski vacation this year, he said, but they'll still pick up a video game or two.
For those of you not taking the ski vacation, here's a guide to what video game titles are available at your neighborhood electronics store. For a longer listing, check online at http:/
Multiple platform games
· Call of Duty: World at War -- The popular shoot-em-up series returns to World War II, this time, in part, to the Pacific theater. Some gamers grumbled that they didn't want to go back to the Second World War after last year's installment of this series incorporated modern scenarios and modern weapons. But World at War, which features the voice of "24" star Kiefer Sutherland, has been getting a thumbs-up from fans. The graphics in this game are very impressive and also very intense. (Rated M. Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, DS, PC. $40-$80.)
· Dead Space -- How come nobody ever designs a spaceship with adequate lighting? This space horror game draws on influences like the Alien flicks and video games like Doom 3. The storyline: A mining ship has stopped communicating with the rest of the fleet. You're sent to investigate -- a task that, it turns out, involves blasting away at a lot of scary monsters. (Rated M. Xbox 360, PS3, PC. $60.)
· Fallout 3 -- This game, developed by a local studio, stars a bombed-out version of our hometown. Players take control of a protagonist who has grown up in a radiation-proof bunker in the suburbs of Washington as he (or she) tries to track down a father who has suddenly gone missing. Though the game is set hundreds of years in the future after a nuclear war with China, it's an alternate world featuring what had been a 1950's-style "world of tomorrow" -- before the bombs fell, anyway. (Rated M. Xbox 360, PS3, PC. $50-$130)
· Guitar Hero World Tour -- The latest version of the popular rock game, which had a billion dollars in sales last year, incorporates a few extra instrument-like game controllers so that players can fill out the band. The deluxe version comes with a microphone and drum kit. One innovative feature lets players record and upload their own music for download by other players. (Rated T. Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii. $50-$190.)
· Rock Band 2 -- This sequel to last year's band-simulator game doesn't introduce any radical changes except for a fresh song list, but the title's many fans don't seem to be complaining. Unusual gift opportunity alert: If your loved ones already have this game, you can go online and order merchandise for their virtual band. Items from T-shirts to posters featuring your giftee's avatars are available at http:/
This game console was in short supply for two holiday seasons in a row, and its appeal to everyone from kids to bar-goers to retirees is well-documented. Some analysts think it will be in short supply again this holiday season, so consider yourself warned.
· Wii Fit -- One of the year's ongoing bestsellers, this title comes with a balance board that wirelessly connects to the Wii console. The offerings on the game disc include everything from yoga and strength-building exercises to simple balance-your-body games. There's already been a shortage of this title at sites like Amazon.com, so don't get stuck in a last-minute rush. (Rated E. $90.)