Halo 4

The holiday season is around the corner, and each year there are a few anticipated games that can be blockbusters. Nielsen released its Holiday 2012 Most Anticipated Games list, which identifies the top 10 games for PS3, Xbox and Nintendo Wii gaming systems. Nielsen is commonly known for measuring TV and radio ratings. The company samples homes in a community to measure their TV viewing habits. The games are being measured through a survey of more than 4,800 male and female active gamers between the ages of 7 and 54. Each of those surveyed must own one of the consoles mentioned and play and purchase games in order to qualify. Here are the top five games anticipated for this holiday and what consumers say draws them to those games.

Halo 4

Halo 4 is a science fiction, first-person shooter for Xbox 360 that takes place in a battle against artificial intelligence on a foreign planet. The game follows the events of its predecessor, Halo 3. The character Master Chief returns to confront an antagonist that threatens the entire universe. Halo 4 starts a new trilogy in the series. The game can be played solo or split screen with up to four friends. The multiplayer mode features different modes, weapons, vehicles and armor abilities. The game introduces a new class of enemies called Prometheans who use their weapons to dissolve their enemies and appear to be stronger than it’s past enemies, The Covenant.

Aerospace engineering freshman Danny Cruz has been a major fan of the Halo franchise since its incarnation. The first in its series, Halo: Combat Evolved, was released in 2001 as a flagship game for the Xbox gaming system. The game has since spawned various sequels, and the franchise has sold more than 46 million games to date. The latest edition of the series, Halo 4, was released Tuesday and is No. 1 on the Nielsen research list.

“I’m expecting a lot from it,” Cruz said. “The online game play is usually top tier in its genre.”

Graduate student Paul Sassaman is vice president of the Game Developers Club at UTA. He said first-person shooters and strategy games are very big for three reasons.

“A. Because they’re fun. You don’t play something that isn’t fun,” he said. “B. Familiarity. They’ve played the previous games in the series and know the next game in the series is probably not a 100 percent chance but 99 percent chance it’s going to be cool, if not even better.”

The third reason these games are popular is if they are multiplayer like Halo 4 and the Call of Duty franchise — a cooperation military strategy game, Sassaman said. It gives them a chance for them to hang out with their friends, he said.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Call of Duty: Black Ops II takes players into a new Black Ops mission assignment. Single players will experience new storylines and non-linear missions. Multiplayers will get a chance to play with new toys. Look out for a zombie experience as well in multiplayer mode. Black Ops II introduces players to an insidious villain named Raul Menendez who hijacks the U.S. military infrastructure to further his own agenda. Harness the power of near-future technology and advanced robotics to pull the world back from the brink of annihilation. 

Call of Duty: Black Ops II will be released Nov. 13. Its predecessor grossed $1.5 billion dollars in sales.  Nielsen Game Rank for fourth quarter 2012 ranks Black Ops II as the second-most anticipated game for PlayStation 3 and most anticipated for Xbox 360 consoles these holidays. The fourth quarter of a fiscal year is the months of July through September . 

Sassaman said games such as what falls under the Call of Duty franchise are good for interactions with others, both on- and offline.

“It’s good for them to have fun playing games together,” he said. “Show each other who’s the better one. It’s really a chance to have fun friends.”

Assassin’s Creed III 

This game is a historical action/adventure game set, during and after the American Revolution, from 1753 to 1783. The game introduces a new hero of Native American and English heritage. He becomes the new voice of justice in the ancient war between the Assassins and Templars. Players become an assassin in the war for liberty. 

Mechanical engineering sophomore John Acosta began playing the game Friday and said there is a lot of difference in the gameplay.

“One and Two, they usually have the buttons for each description,” he said. “For Three it kind of helps you with the tutorials.”

Acosta said the control scheme is easier.

“When you counter on this one, it has little pauses,” he said. “You have an option to choose what you can do to the enemy.

The game was released Oct. 30. Acosta said he pre-ordered the game and paid it off Oct. 29.

“I went to the midnight release,” he said. “When I went there, it was not really much of a line so I just kind of went in and picked up the game.”

Acosta said he likes the naval warfare. Players will be able to navigate the waters in naval ships and use the ships’ powerful weapons.

The game features a new system, Anvil. Players will see improvements in motion capture and animation which will give them a more realistic experience than ever before. Game players will also have an option to choose from seven multiplayer modes.  

According to the Nielsen research, the game is third on the top anticipated games for Xbox 360 and second for PS3. 

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm

One of the games most talked about this season has a delayed release date. It’s the expansion pack to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, which sold more than 3.66 million copies globally as of this October.

Cruz said he’s looking forward to StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, a military fiction real-time strategy game. The pack was expected to be released in 2012, but has been pushed back. There has been no official word of a potential release date.

Cruz said he likes to play strategy and teamwork type games.

Resident Evil 6 

Resident Evil 6 takes place ten years after the Racoon City Incident. Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City took place in September 1998 and it centers around Raccoon City and the consequences of a deadly t-virus outbreak. The new game will bring two fan favorites, Leon and Chris, a new threat. The game takes place in China, and this time the outbreaks aren’t safe from any country. 

Resident Evil 6 is fourth on Xbox 360 and third on PS3 list of most anticipated games. The game, which came out Oct. 2, has sold over 2.8 million units globally as of Oct. 20. The franchise as a whole has sold more than 53 million games.

Undeclared junior Vinh Bui  played the sixth game when his friends brought it over. Bui said he would buy the game for different reasons.

“There’s a lot of different elements,” he said. “The game play has changed, but looking past all of that, it is a fun game.”

He said the changes are mostly the mechanics of the game.

“It’s sort of built from Resident Evil 5,” he said. “The mechanics, such as real-time inventory, are more organized. You can heal on the spot with tablets,” he said.

Bui said he is a big fan of the game, but he was disappointed by the advertisement.

“They made it seem like a big game,” he said. “I played the demo, and I think the purpose was to showcase the new game mechanics.”

Bui said he thinks the game has strayed away from its roots.

“Overall, six is a good game to people who are new or want a change in game play,” he said. “For fans, they may like or hate it. It has a solid story, but the execution is not good.”

In the end, Sassaman said to him, successful games are great games, but all great games aren’t successful.

“It depends on what you’re looking for in a game,” he said. “If you want insanely good game play, then you’re looking for insanely good game play. If you just want a cool story, good music, good graphics, you don’t care about game play, then you can have a horrible game that’s decently playable.”

Sassaman said if a person wants an amazing game, it has to have a good story and game play mechanics that nobody has really done before. That’s what draws consumers to these holiday games, he said.

@BGisBrandonGray

Brandon.gray@mavs.uta.edu

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