The 4 Biggest Games Launching This Week

The seasonal uptick in major game releases has begun. It’s been a couple weeks since the behemoth Destiny came out, which means the coast is clear for other big-name games to make their way to market. Below, we take a look at the five biggest games launching this week across all systems. Check them out to see if any of them look like something you want in your life.

Forza Horizon 2

Release Date: September 30 (Xbox One, Xbox 360)

Racing fans who’ve owned an Xbox console over the years are probably familiar with the Forza series. The core games in this Microsoft-published franchise offer realistic racing simulations: real cars, real tracks, and realistic physics and handling. As such, they can be a little off-putting to newcomers to the genre. After all, it’s not easy to control a car going over 100 miles per hour.

The Forza Horizon games are a little more forgiving. Their gameplay is realistic, but only until the fun would run out. At that point, they sand down the rough edges, making for a less punishing, more newbie-friendly experience. When you try to take a tight turn too fast, for instance, the game will give you an assist to keep you on track — rather than turn your car into a heap of wreckage, as would happen in real life. Forza Horizon 2 offers over 200 real cars and an open-world stretch of land that covers northern Italy and southern France. If you want to see what’s happening in racing games these days, this looks like a great place to start.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Release Date: September 30 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows)

When you picture a game set in the land of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you’d be forgiven for expecting to play as Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, or any other famous character from the books. Surprisingly — and even refreshingly — that’s not the set-up of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. In this game, you explore the fantastical landscape of orcs and elves from the perspective of Talion, a Ranger of Gondor, who also happens to be dead.

Talion and his family are killed by the armies of Sauron, but our hero is quickly resurrected and sets off to get revenge. Navigating the world of Middle-earth plays out like an Assassin’s Creed game, in that you can scale buildings and jump down on enemies to quickly bury a knife in their skull. The combat, meanwhile, feels more like the recent Batman games, with a focus on counter-attacks and combos. Be sure to look for reviews to see if Shadow of Mordor lives up to its premise.

Natural Doctrine

Release Date: September 30 (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita)

If you like role-playing games and you’re up for a significant challenge, you might want to check out Natural Doctrine. This turn-based strategy RPG puts you in the boots of Geoff, a young soldier trying to make a name for himself as a goblin-slaying warrior. Throw in a handful of kingdoms vying for precious minerals, and an outer-world thick with enemies, and you’ve got the makings of an epic RPG.

The gameplay unfurls as you and the enemies take turns moving around a battlefield and doling out attacks against each other. Troop placement and specialty attacks play a large role in who comes out ahead in combat. Some of the game’s systems, however, seem poorly explained, with an overload of unnecessary information displayed on the screen. And a big word of warning: Early reviews haven’t been very kind to the game, mostly due to its extremely high (and often annoying) level of challenge. If you think you have the stamina for it, however, Natural Doctrine ought to give you dozens of hours of play time.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS

Release Date: October 3 (Nintendo 3DS)

Nintendo is launching two versions of Super Smash Bros. this year, one on 3DS and the other on Wii U. The first one lands on 3DS, representing the series’ debut on a handheld console. The great thing about these games is that they’re very welcoming to new players, as you can get pretty far just by mashing the buttons mindlessly. But if you keep playing, you’ll notice that the combat mechanics are every bit as deep as a tournament-class fighting game like Street Fighter IV.

The roster of fighters is vast, covering decades of Nintendo history, and including characters from Punch Out, Mario, Pokemon, and even the exercising game Wii Fit. It’s an eclectic crew of characters that will appeal to anyone who’s ever touched a Nintendo controller. If you’d rather wait for the Wii U version, you’ll have to keep an eye out for news, as Nintendo has yet to announce a release date.

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