Summer is over, and new video games are springing forth at long last. But in an industry happy to rake in cash with some tried-and-trite formulas, “new” doesn’t exactly translate into “fun” or “worth sixty bucks.”
Whether you're a hard-core gamer or just a homebody looking for a hobby more engaging than Court TV, a truly great game can be an immersive way to sneak in a little play in the cooler months. Ditch uninspired sequels and games Gorilla-glued to genre conventions with this starter set of new fall titles that stay true to the good, (mostly) clean fun that gaming is all about.
An Unhinged-Yet-Refined Shooter: Borderlands 2
On paper, nothing about Borderlands 2 should be noteworthy. It's a first-person shooter, and a sequel at that. But like its predecessor, Borderlands 2 embraces the addictive playability of its genre, opting to focus on fun rather than dressing things up with an overdone, overwrought war-zone setting.
The result is a game that doesn't take itself one bit seriously -- and that's refreshing. Borderlands 2 is about killing lots (and lots) of things, and stockpiling lots and lots guns. Simple as that.
The sequel smooths out the rough patches of its predecessor and mixes in an array of open-world environments to explore, all populated by a cast of hilariously deranged locals, of course. With genuinely funny dialogue and a cartoony cel-shaded look that’s a refreshing departure from the genre's penchant for drab hyperrealism, Borderlands 2 is as addictive as it is earnest.
The Best Online RPG, Now With Pandas -- WoW: Mists of Pandaria
If you've never waded into World of Warcraft, the advent of a new expansion pack is the perfect time to dive in. The huge open-world online role-playing game has 10 million subscribers for a reason, and Mists of Pandaria improves on its successful formula -- no small feat for a game that's been around since 2004.
Mists of Pandaria is the most playful expansion to the game to date, adding a playable race of epicurean pandas (this race has its origins in an April Fool's joke), a pokemon-esque game within a game, and a brand new class of martial-arts masters. There's never a dull moment in WoW -- it doesn't hurt that developer Blizzard religiously irons out the kinks in weekly updates -- and Mists of Pandaria is just another excellent entry point to a game truly worthy of its immense hype.
Surviving The Post-Apocalypse As A Beagle: Tokyo Jungle
Tokyo Jungle's premise is absolutely ridiculous, and that's half the charm of a game that you might be powerless to resist. An absurd departure from the zombie-crowded genre of survival gaming, Tokyo Jungle sets you loose in a post-apocalyptic version of the Japanese metropolis. But rather than roaming as some scrappy, gun-toting human you're playing a critter ... or rather, as a lot of critters.
You'll be everything from a golden retriever to a velociraptor while fighting to stay alive in a dinosaur-eat-dog world. Naturally, it's easier said than done, requiring some fun strategizing to make the most of the beast you inhabit.
The game isn't perfect but it's an enjoyable, challenging gaming holiday from yet another zombie slog.
These games thrive on not taking themselves too seriously. Have another fun, irreverent fall game? Let me know in the comments and maybe we'll take it for a spin.