Around this time each year, after I've had a bit of a chance to digest the announcements from E3, watch all the trailers and play all the demos, I like to check out the release calendar and work out how much money I need to set aside to satisfy my need to play the latest and greatest video games, even though I haven't got enough time to do any of them justice.
First up, let me just say that if you're excited to hear my recommendations for PS3 and Wii games, I'm sorry, but as much as I think Gran Tourismo 5 looks fantastic, I'm not about to buy a PS3 to play it and I'm seriously considering trading in the Wii despite the fact that I'd love to play Epic Mickey. I'm just too heavily invested in the Xbox 360 to worry about the other two platforms at this point, and I like the controller and online service better too. [UPDATE] For more general E3 chat, check out the NEBytes Bytecast Episode 2 where I talk about the Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo press briefings with Ben Lee.
So, I have two lists. One containing games to buy, and the other containing games to rent. When I say rent, it's not just a couple of evenings from Blockbuster - I use LOVEFiLM and it's not uncommon for me to keep hold of a rented game for a few months (it's still a lot cheaper than buying!). It's entirely possible that I'll move things between these lists ahead of their release and I may not buy them as soon as they come out anyway. That said, here are the lists...
This was originally on my rental list until I downloaded the demo from Xbox Live and it reminded me just how much I enjoyed playing the original Crackdown - then it moved right to the top of my most wanted list (which is nice because it's also the first release out of all of these titles). The whole crime fighting agent with super powers thing just does it for me, and now they've added zombies! I love the challenge of collecting all of the agility orbs and trying to max out all the abilities. It has a good sense of humour too.
One thing that I like about this, which is common in Xbox Live Arcade titles, but I can't recall seeing it in a full retail game, is that the demo allows you to earn achievements and gamerscore, which will be added to your Xbox Live account when you play the full game later. This video from Sanctuary4gamers shows those demo achievements (you could argue that it contains spoilers and content that is NSFW, so don't play it if you don't like those sorts of things, but I think it gives a good impression of the game)...
I really enjoyed the first Test Drive Unlimited game, which introduced the term Massively Open Online Racing (M.O.O.R.) - a fairly good way to describe the way you could drive round a whole Hawaiian island, and flash your lights at an random online player you came across in order to challenge them to a race. This time they've added another island, Ibiza, which looks amazing. I'm hoping to get beta access to this one.
Call of Duty 2 was the game that originally sold most of my former Playstation 2 owning friends on the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, and today Modern Warfare 2 is the most played game in the house (not by me - I prefer Battlefield: Bad Company 2 myself, but that's beside the point). I know this is by Treyarch and not Infinity Ward, but I think they really started to get it right with World at War, so I'm going to go with them on this one. And besides, check this out...
I usually pick up both of the big NBA titles, but the 2K Sports version is usually the one that I play the longest. NBA 2K10's My Player mode was great fun (although my save game file got corrupted and I lost a lot of player development time) and I can't wait to see how they've improved it in the new version. Plus "His Airness" is on the cover (although that's not to take anything away from Kevin Durrant on the cover of EA's game - he deserved that after the season he's just played for the Thunder).
While I've had fun with the Call of Duty and Battlefield games over recent years, back in the day I played a crap-ton of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, so I was glad to see EA bring the series back this year and bang up to date with an Afghan setting. Looks ace.
Not a game, but Microsoft's new motion tracking camera and voice control system is on my list to buy. Depending on the titles that are available when it launches in November I may wait until after Christmas, but I know at least one person in the house who is keen to play Harmonx's Dance Central, so that may be on this list too. I'll be keeping an eye on the reviews of Kinect Adventures and Sports and the others.
Gears of War 3 - I want to play through the story mode, but I doubt I'll do much with the multiplayer.
Fallout: New Vegas - Need to see more details on this, but it looks pretty sweet. I'll try it out with a rental first.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 - Who doesn't love a nice relaxing game of golf? Annual updates to Tiger don't really justify a purchase for me since I play it very casually.
Toy Story 3 - I just love me some Toy Story, so I'll rent this for a play through.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II - The first Force Unleashed was a pretty good approximation to what I'd want from a Jedi game. The sequel looks good. Don't think there's any multiplayer though and that's one of my main requirements for a purchase.
Dead Rising 2 - The original was a lot of fun, but in my mind this is competing with Crackdown 2 and Crackdown wins.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - I found the first AC to be far too repetitive, but AC2 was awesome (and so big that I'm still playing it). This may be a long-term rental, or a pre-owned purchase.
Max Payne 3 - I wish I could have the original Max Payne over again with updated graphics. Can't have that, so this will be played through.
Homefront - Near-future USA has been invaded by North Korea. Fight them off. Sounds like fun. Too much competition in this genre though.
NBA Elite 11 - A reboot for the NBA Live series with a brand new control scheme. Got to give it a shot really, haven't I?
I'm just going to say one thing about 2011 game releases: