Head-To-Head Gaming Showdowns Worth Watching
Though we're currently trudging through the dry season of sporadic game releases and tempered excitement, if you turn the calendar forward a couple months, things start to get interesting. In the middle of the fall game blitz and next-generation transition, we found several competitive matchups in critical genres worth keeping an eye on. Though we expect most of these games to be successful in their own right, gamers with limited resources have some tough choices to make. Not everyone can afford to splurge on all the great titles of the year. For fans of specific genres, here are a few tough calls they may have to make.
Call of Duty: Ghosts vs. Battlefield 4
The bi-annual showdown between these two blockbusters is always worth grabbing popcorn for and watching the bullets fly. Battlefield 4 wowed GI editors with its impressive multiplayer demo at E3. With 64-player battles and the return of commander mode, the series is poised to launch with a bang on next-gen consoles. Call of Duty's initial dog-focused debut had a lot of people scratching their heads (and demanding that Activision not kill said dog for cheap dramatic effect), but the E3 demo reconfirmed that the latest entry is packed with the jaw-dropping set-piece moments that fans expect from the series. Though the quality gap between the games has closed and more than 22 million players have taken a tour of duty in Battlefield 3, the revenue gap between these two titles is still considerable. Is this the year that franchise fatigue snakebites Call of Duty and Battlefield gains equal footing, or will it continue on its unprecedented sales rampage?
Grand Theft Auto V vs. Saints Row IV
When Saints Row debuted in 2006, many people wrote it off as a shameless Grand Theft Auto clone. Though both games paint within the broad strokes of the open-world template set forth by Rockstar, these two franchises couldn't be more different. In the years since Saints Row's debut, Rockstar has evolved its insanely popular series with mature storytelling, multiple protagonists, and intricately detailed open worlds. Volition, on the other hand, carved its own niche by focusing on crude jokes, adult sex toy weapons, and absolute madness. If gamers have to choose between the absolute grandeur of Grand Theft Auto V and the slapstick antics of Saints Row IV, which would they select? The good news for Volition is Saints Row IV ships nearly a full month before Grand Theft Auto V, so it can hopefully avoid getting lost in the blast radius.
DriveClub vs. Forza Motorsport 5
Sony surprised many people by introducing DriveClub, a new racing game centered on team play, rather than leading with the tried and true Gran Turismo franchise. If the game is good, it has a chance to win over a lot of fans early considering that PlayStation Plus subscribers get a free special edition of the PS4 game. Microsoft and Turn 10 finely tuned the engine of its racing sim throughout the last generation, and we're curious to see how much further Forza 5 can go with the new horsepower provided by the Xbox One. The racing game that wins this sales battle will likely come down to which console more people buy over the holiday season. The battle for critical acclaim, however, is wide open.
NBA Live 14 vs. NBA 2K14
With a couple game cancellations and a studio change in its rearview mirror, NBA Live finally looks on track to come off injured reserve and return to the hardwood. EA Sports has kept most of the details regarding the game under wraps save for a brief glimpse of its new dribbling technology, but it needs to come out of the gate like Michael Jordan emerging from retirement if it wants to match NBA 2K shot for shot. Thanks to its solid gameplay and several alluring game modes, the 2K Sports franchise has sold more than five million copies in each of the last three years. Having two-time defending champion LeBron James on the cover certainly won't cut down on the game's visibility. After repeated failures, sports gamers are rightfully wary of NBA Live, which makes its first foot forward into next-gen all the more important.
Skylanders Swap Force vs. Disney Infinity
The hottest new battle in video games isn't being fought in the trenches of a modern military shooter or on the racetrack. The 2013 rivalry that most intrigues us is the showdown between the extremely successful video game/toy collectible hybrid Skylanders and its mouse-eared competitor. Over the past two years, children have convinced their parents to spend millions on buying new toys to bring into their games. The only company with a reputation big enough to compete against Toys For Bob's ingenious franchise (now housed at Vicarious Visions) is Disney. Its Infinity project is scalable enough to accommodate all of the amazing brands the company has created or purchased in the last several decades – imagine one sandbox where Buzz Lightyear, Yoda, Spider-Man, and Mickey Mouse can all play together. One deciding factor that could come into play with this match-up is depth of experience. Disney is launching with a conservative lineup of packs (Cars and Lone Ranger, which just bombed at the box office), giving fans fewer options. Skylanders Swap Force has a considerably larger collection of purchasable characters with 56 offerings (not to mention all of the Spyro's Adventure and Giants figures that still will work). Disney may need to pull out the big guns before it sees families leave Skylanders for Infinity.