We all know that Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 have provided countless hours of pleasure to the majority of people playing on Xbox Live, and both titles certainly deserve every bit of their popularity. But these two titans have been at the top of the charts for nearly a year, and regardless of the fun to be had with them we’ve got to admit, it’s time for something new. Battlefield: Bad Company and Unreal Tournament III seemed to amount to more of a summer distraction rather than the next big thing, so we’re taking a look at Microsoft’s fall lineup to see what games could seize the online throne and be crowned the new king of Xbox Live.
Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Release Date: November 4, 2008
Although pop culture icons Star Wars and LotR may be two very distinct tales, they do have one thing in common: huge kick ass battles! Back in the days of the original Xbox, Pandemic saw the potential multiplayer draw of recreating famous Star Wars skirmishes with Battlefront, and they’re about to apply the same kind of magic to Tolkien’s universe. Conquest will allow up to 16 online players to clash all over famous landmarks in the realm of Middle Earth such as Helm’s Deep, Minas Tirith, and Isengard. Players will also be able to take control of major characters such as Aragorn or the dreaded Balrog, depending if they are fighting against or with the forces of Sauron. Throw in four player co op and Conquest has the right license and large scale gameplay to easily put it in Major’s top ten. Now you know what we want next, right Pandemic? Star Wars vs. Lord of The Rings of course!
Left 4 Dead
Release Date: November 4, 2008
Now this is a game from Valve, the people that brought you Counter Strike, so of course it’s on our list. However Left 4 Dead’s gameplay easily outshines its heritage by offering four player co op against an overwhelming throng of zombies driven by an AI called the Director that knows when to let up, and when to pour on the undead depending on a team’s performance. If adversarial MP is your thing then you can take on the role of the infected themselves playing as special zombies that can either hurl deadly vomit or whiplash opponents with a tongue to rival Gene Simmons’, maybe. For the human players, teamwork will be a necessity while fighting across five different venues including a hospital and city streets, because if a player is left un-revived then they’re out of the game. Left 4 Dead presents a multiplayer experience that should have been realized long ago, supplying teamwork driven gameplay in a classic survival horror atmosphere that will have no problem finding an audience on Xbox Live.
Tom Clancy’s End War
Release Date: October 15, 2008
When you’re talking about Xbox Live hits it’s almost impossible to leave out the Clancy brand. And even though it’s an RTS, End War is carrying some innovative gameplay to stack up to its first person competition. Ubisoft is promising up to 12 player games that with End War’s easy to use interface will have gamers absorbed in the art of war in no time. What the game brings to the table that gets us so excited is an MMO-like mode where three factions will battle over 40 different frontlines set across the world that will continually change based on the number of wins for each day. Clan support will also be included in this mode, so each skirmish you fight counts in the ongoing war for your faction’s supremacy. It’s this kind of gameplay that should lengthen End War’s appeal and strengthen its community of players who will surely be up until the wee hours of the morning checking their faction’s status in the persistent global conflict.
Call of Duty: World at War
Release Date: November 11, 2008
Out of all these titles, World at War probably has the most to live up to, being a sequel to what some call the best multiplayer FPS game of this generation. Treyarch is already facing controversy by not being the team that crafted Call of Duty 4 and also for bringing the series back into WWII just after gamers have grown so attached to their laser sighted M4’s. One thing that might make them feel better is the fact that this game runs on the CoD4 engine and will feature an all new cooperative campaign with its own experience point system and selection of perks. Not much has been said about the online MP, but Treyarch is going to have to deliver something special, and simultaneously take care not to alienate the mainstream crowd that fell in love with CoD4’s squad based gameplay, a theme they departed from with CoD 3. But whatever the outcome the Call of Duty brand has established itself as the go-to franchise for players looking to get some top of the line FPS action, and we have no doubt that enough soldiers will return for another tour to make World at War a very competitive Live title.
Gears of War 2
Release Date: November 7, 2008
While we can bet that each of the previously mentioned games will make it to the top ten, none of them come with the guarantee of being number one, except for Epic’s Gears of War 2. Packing a bunch of enhancements to give the battles more balance, two player co op, 10 players online, and new modes, Gears 2 is going to be the place most gamers go when looking to play together. The inclusion of Epic patented bots and a new matchmaking system shows that the developer realizes the following the original Gears of War possesses (still making it into Live’s top ten), and are capitalizing on that loyalty with a much more developed and fleshed out multiplayer component. Gears of War 2 will without a doubt become the game that causes the most family neglect during this holiday season, with refined gameplay and all new chainsaw antics to make it worthy of the number “2” in its title, and the number “1” spot on Xbox Live.
Hopefully you enjoyed our preview of titles we believe could become the new leaders of multiplayer gaming on Xbox Live, and we apologize if it made you realize how much money might get blown on yourself this fall. Although only one of these games will be the next number one hit, it’s nice to know that there is a future beyond the current hits of today — that’s what makes Live so great, that it is always changing. See you online!