The rush of holiday video game releases that annually drains our bank accounts in the fall and winter months will begin a little earlier in 2015.
A slew of impressive top-tier titles will release in August and September. Some, like “NBA 2K16” and “Madden NFL 16,” are following their annual release schedules. Others, like “Mad Max” and “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” were pushed into a late-summer release window by development delays. And a third group of decent releases are simply a part of the out-of-control remake trend, as classic and not-so-classic titles are given cheap facelifts and $40 price tags pretty much every month.
Prime your radars for these releases.
“Madden NFL 16” Aug. 25
The ancient football cash cow continues to chug on in August. I haven’t heard of any flashy new features that differentiate this year’s installment from the 26 before it. Electronic Arts didn’t respond to a request for details about this year’s Madden.
The franchise will almost certainly deliver a realistic, highly polished football experience. Madden also ate its competition about a decade ago, so we really only have one true football option. If you want to be seen on the digital gridiron, “Madden NFL 16” is a must-have.
“Until Dawn” Aug. 25
I am not a big survival horror game fan, but the PlayStation 4 exclusive “Until Dawn” has my attention.
I like that it basically thrusts you into a playable horror movie with several possible endings and plot turns. I like that its apparently complicated system of player choices is called the “Butterfly Effect,” which will allow me to channel my inner Ashton Kutcher.
The survival horror genre is known for its extremely limited mass appeal, but “Until Dawn” may break the mold.
The remakes Aug. 25
Look out for the “Gears of War” remake, “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.”
I am shocked it took this long to revisit the 2006 hit. Modern graphics and sound production, an updated multiplayer mode and 90 minutes of extra campaign content previously only found on the PC version of the game should score big points with franchise fans.
It’s a little early for a “Dishonored” remake, however.
“Dishonored: Definitive Edition” does little more for me beyond proving we need to finally adopt a universal way of classifying remakes. Ultimate edition, definitive edition, HD, etc. Let’s pick a name and stick with it.
The updated “Dishonored” will refresh the title’s last-generation graphics and include all of the downloadable content released since its inception in 2012, but I don’t think that’s enough to justify buying the game again. I will wait until “Dishonored 2” drops next year to return to Steampunk London.
“Mad Max” Sept. 1
“No more talk!” “We go in!” “We kill!”
The wait is nearly over. A serious, modern video game attempt at one of the more over-the-top apocalyptic film franchises will finally release on Sept. 1.
I am a little worried about its graphics and fighting mechanics, but I love the vehicle customization and overall premise for “Mad Max.” Avalanche Studios, which helms the ridiculously action-packed “Just Cause” series, will pump out a game that fits right in with the “Mad Max: Fury Road” film released earlier this year.
“Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” Sept. 1
I’ve made it crystal clear across several columns that I don’t understand the appeal of the Metal Gear games. They’ve always felt rigid and over-stylized.
But the swan song of the franchise, at least as we know it under deified creator Hideo Kojima, piques my interest. This is it. If I am ever going to like a Metal Gear game, it will be this one. Kojima added open-world features this time around just for people like me.
For fans of the franchise, this is an absolute no-brainer. This may be the end of a 28-year journey.
“NHL 16” Sept. 15
It can’t be as bad as last year’s version. It just can’t. Right?
Right. The EA Canada team made many of the fixes angrily demanded last year by franchise lifers like myself.
The Be a Pro career mode, which allows you to create and control a National Hockey League player, received several important upgrades. Players can finally simulate until the next playable shift. In “NHL 15,” we had to sit on the bench and watch the computer play during our in-game rest periods. We spent more time watching a simulated game than playing in it.
Last year’s version was a rushed piece of garbage. I hope the typically rock-solid franchise returns to form.
“Forza Motorsport 6” Sept. 15
Until we get “Gran Turismo 7” in 2016, the Xbox One-exclusive Forza franchise is the best bet for race fans.
Last year’s “Forza Horizon 2” outpaced “Driveclub” and “The Crew.” My faith in Microsoft’s racing franchise was confirmed.
The screenshots for “Forza Motorsport 6” are jaw-dropping. And because this year’s title promises the franchise’s signature tuning system for all these beautiful cars, we know they will handle properly.
“Forza Motorsport 6” is a safe bet for gearheads.