Last weekend’s Video Game Awards weren’t all about 2009. Publishers also used Spike TV’s annual show to air trailers for upcoming titles as well as show off a handful of previously unannounced titles.
None of the three high-profile continuations of existing franchises made a heck of a lot of sense to me, however. Are MTV Games and Harmonix Music Systems really going to follow up a “Rock Band” game devoted to arguably the biggest rock band of all time with one devoted to the guys who sang “American Idiot?” To be sure, Green Day sells a lot of records. But nothing the East Bay outfit has done will get three or four generations together the way the “Abbey Road” medley could. At any rate, it’s gotta be better than that Wal-Mart exclusive AC/DC Live disc from a while back.
The “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” sequel makes sense from a commercial standpoint, but not from a narrative one. Given that the first game bridged the gap between Episodes III and IV of George Lucas’ six-part movie franchise, there’s not a lot of unmined there there between the end of the first “TFU” and “A New Hope’s” scrawling yellow text. And that doesn’t even deal with the fact that the trailer again shows Starkiller, who wasn’t really in any shape to be doing much after the end of the last game.
As for “Batman: Arkham Asylum 2,” that one makes perhaps the most sense. The first game was a smash hit. And Batman, unlike Starkiller, is an icon who’s endured for generations. The developers and publisher need merely to make sure they take their time with this one. This number of great superhero games can be counted on one hand, two if you’re feeling charitable, and it’s easy to see how “Arkham Asylum 2” could fall short of gamers’ expectations.
Of the games everyone already knew about that were shown off, I’ve gotta be most excited for “Crackdown 2.” The first game used a “Borderlands”-esque art style and a city inspired by the same blueprints as countless “Grand Theft Auto” games. Except in “Crackown,” you were an agent of the law, not a criminal. The game was tremendous fun, if a little short on the story mode. I remember renting it because the disc included access to “Halo 3’s” multiplayer beta test. Well, I ended up playing “Crackdown” way more than I messed around with that beta. A sequel is welcome, even if it’s from a new development studio.