Running the game gamut

It’s no secret that we love entertainment in this country, especially video games. Americans spent more than $15 billion on video games last year, according to the NPD Group.

That’s nearly $5 billion more than we spent on books, according to Book Business Magazine.

In anticipation of the giant spike in sales that comes with every holiday season, The Oracle runs down some notable upcoming video game releases.

“Rocksmith” – Xbox 360, PS3, PC

In stores now

Many of those who’ve shredded on Rock Band and Guitar Hero have probably wished they committed themselves to learning how to play real guitar. “Rocksmith” offers a dream come true to all those latent musical geniuses out there who just couldn’t stop playing video games long enough to master an actual instrument.

The game caters to any skill level and any electric guitar. Dust off dad’s ’89 Fender and get rockin’. And to think, you paid $50 to $100 on plastic guitar-like controllers and learned nothing in the process.

Though innovative, this new technology has its flaws. A review of the game criticized developers for poor design, tuning and calibration problems, as well as failing to teach any music theory.

“Uncharted 3” – PS3

Released today

Gamers who have always wanted to star in their own action thriller get hooked on games in this series. “Uncharted 3” puts hero Nathan Drake in yet another Hollywood-inspired action-adventure game.

Their latest installment plays out as a semi-predictable action movie that you get to participate in. Button cues have gamers escaping almost certain death right in the nick of time. Reviews suggest that sometimes style outweighs substance, often sacrificing user control for cinematic spectacle.

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” – Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC

Nov. 8

When kids these days talk about “COD,” they’re not talking about fishing the mid-Atlantic, but rather sniping their buddies from across the map in “Call of Duty.” The franchise that lets users get all the perks of war from the comfort of their couches aims to dominate yet another holiday season with “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.”

Last year’s installment, “Black Ops,” sold 7 million copies in its first day, and that’s not even counting the 4.5 million preorders.

Yet this year, the competition for best first person shooter is tighter than ever. “Battlefield 3” has an ad campaign specifically targeting the Call of Duty franchise with the tagline “Go Above and Beyond the Call.”

“Super Mario 3D Land” – 3DS

Nov. 13

Never has everyone’s favorite red-shirted plumber been so deep. “Super Mario 3D Land” combines classic elements of side-scrolling and platform jumping with open-world levels for a brand new Mushroom Kingdom experience.

The game doesn’t require the 3D mode to be switched on, but developers emphasized “depth” as the most noteworthy addition to this Mario title. Some levels have Mario looking down a steep cliff, requiring players to fall in the right positions to make it through the level. The binoculars feature will allow users to move their 3DS around physically to search levels for hidden items.

“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” – Wii

Nov. 20

Nintendo has been cranking out adventure titles starring Link since 1986. “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword,” set to release later this month for the Wii, features art that resembles impressionism and redesigned sword control to integrate Wii MotionPlus.

The plot also deviates from the classic formula. Zelda isn’t a princess, but Link’s childhood friend, and Link was born in the sky. This is the 16th “Legend of Zelda” game released by Nintendo and the second for the Wii.

“Metal Gear Solid: Rising” – Xbox 360, PS3, PC


Details of this game’s release are mysterious. Fans who bought the last four installments surely want to know how to get their hands on “Metal Gear Solid: Rising,” but developers at Konami have been awfully cryptic about when the game will be released. The latest chapter in the espionage saga stars Raiden, the white-haired protagonist of the second and fourth games.

Gaming publications have cited a teaser on the last page of last month’s Official Playstation Magazine UK, speculating that this month’s issue will have updated info on a “Metal Gear Solid: Rising” release date. The cause for such speculation is a giant exclamation point, a symbol that appears above the head of any alerted enemy in the Metal Gear Solid series.

“Diablo 3” – PC


This massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), more than 10 years in the making, is nearly ready to boot up on PCs in America. From developer Blizzard, which has millions of gamers addicted to “World of Warcraft,” “Diablo 3” offers fantasy fans the darker side of MMORPG gaming.

An official release date hasn’t been announced, but developers at Blizzard say it will be sometime early next year.