Since Star Wars: The Force Unleashed hit the shelves last month, it must mean one thing: Gaming's fourth quarter is under way.
Publishers are coming out of the gates strong, with three NBA titles hitting the shelves this week. Tuesday will see EA's NBA Live 09 (PS3, 360, Wii, PS2, PSP), 2K Sports' NBA 2K9 (PS3, 360, PS2) and Sony's own NBA '09: The Inside (PS3, PS2, PSP), just in time for eleventeen months of basketball. I'll stick with last month's NHL 09, but that's just me.
Also out on Tuesday is LucasArts' Fracture (PS3, 360), which promises to take interactive environments to a higher level by allow players to change the terrain at will.
Speaking of changing terrain, the big news in October is the advent of the PlayStation 3's next wave of exclusives, including Oct. 21's LittleBigPlanet (the PS3 port of BioShock comes out on the same day). If you haven't already bought a console for Metal Gear Solid 4, you'll consider caving for this adorable platformer, which will rely heavily on user-generated levels to draw interest. Plus, the mascot SackBoys are the next Mario or Sonic, guaranteed.
Before that, though, Sony is offering SOCOM: Confrontation on the 14th, adding an even heavier online component to SOCOM's squad-based action. And on the 28th, the long-awaited sequel to MotorStorm (one of the few games that began to show off the PS3's capabilities when it was first released), MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, rolls into town. And speaking of sequels to rollout titles, Resistance 2 should bring the Chimera back to Earth on Nov. 4.
What does Microsoft have to fight back? Fable II begins its journey on Oct. 21, but the big story is Nov. 7's Gears of War 2, which already has fanboys salivating. And just after Marcus Fenix returns, Valve's four-player co-op Left 4 Dead, a personal fave because it involves battling zombies with three friends, shows up on Nov. 19, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Perhaps the biggest battle royale will be the quarter's showdown among three music games — Activision's Guitar Hero World Tour (360, PS3, Wii, PS2) takes up more instruments on Oct. 26 to fight Harmonix's Rock Band 2 (out now for 360, Oct. 19 for PS3, Nov. 18 for Wii and PS2) and a newcomer, Konami's Rock Revolution (PS3, 360, Wii, DS), which also features a guitar and drums, but no mike. The simplified Ultimate Band is coming out for Wii and DS on Nov. 11, but early reviews aren't promising; tbt* is testing out the other three now, so stay tuned.
Multi-platform games will be a big deal as we come up on holiday season, since they aren't requiring as much blind allegiance. Saints Row 2 (PS3, 360) revives gang warfare on Oct. 14, While Far Cry 2 (PS3, 360, PC) heads to Africa on the 21st. Fallout 3 (PS3, 360, PC) joins the crowd on Oct. 28, and Call of Duty: World at War (PS3, 360, Wii, DS, PS2, PC) abandons the modern day for World War II again on Nov. 11.
There are some more creative original efforts coming, too: Parkour-inspired Mirror's Edge (PS3, 360, PC) also drops on Veteran's Day, While Tom Clancy's End War (PS3, 360, DS, PC) takes its real-time strategy scenario on Nov. 4 from a possible future, in which the United States, Russia and the new European Federation are at war over the planet's last remaining oil reserves. You might know it as World War III. And while not a new series, the illustrative graphics of Prince of Persia (PS3, 360, PC) reboot the story on Dec. 2 with a new type of gameplay, making every encounter a boss battle.
MMORPGs are (still) the order of the day on PCs, with expansion pack World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King coming out on Nov. 13 and rival The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria on Nov. 18.
Last but not least, it is Halloween time, so it's worth noting that not only did Silent Hill: Homecoming (PS3, 360) come out on Sept. 30, but the PS3 port of BioShock arrives on Oct. 21 and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia shows up on DS on Oct. 21. And the goriest plum, Dead Space (PS3, 360, PC) brings its cross of Event Horizon and Resident Evil to consoles on Oct. 14.
And while I don't have time to go into every single title, I'll be back to look at what's worth buying come holiday time — especially since in this tough economy, you're likely to be able to get only one or two anyway.
Joshua Gillin writes about video games and entertainment news for tbt*. Feel free to challenge his opinions at email@example.com.