Welcome to the first installment of a new monthly column covering the latest trends and upcoming releases in the invigorating world of gaming. August is a rather slow month for new video games, with many of the heavy hitters dropping closer to the holiday season like the latest Call Of Duty, but there are a few titles, spanning different genres and platforms, that gamers will be sure to enjoy. With the latest iterations of sport staples, a new take life simulation and an incredibly vast shooter, video gamers have a slew of releases to spend their time and money on in August and early September.
Madden 15 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3) – Aug. 26
For the past decade, football fans have patiently witnessed EA Sports try to get its storied Madden franchise right, altering game modes and gameplay to better replicate one of the most electrifying sports on the planet, without another NFL football title to choose. While last year harbored the release of next-generation hardware, equipped with super-computer components, Madden 25 simply felt like a better-looking version, with few enhancements to physics and gameplay.
This year, EA looks to vastly improve the presentation of the sport, with NFL Films taking part in the production of the title, allowing for better camera angles and relatable replays. They also improved the tackling system and intelligence of non-controlled players, among other fine tuning like realistic player statistic accuracy and believable physics (no more ridiculous turbo jumps for interceptions) that should give next-gen Madden gamers the best representation of football yet, and hopefully giving past-gen players a respectable experience.
Destiny (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3) – Sept. 9
As one of the most ambitious and anticipated offerings of the year, Destiny is Bungie’s first gaming experience outside of their work with the Halo franchise, which spanned from Combat Evolved to Reach. With an RPG/first-person shooter hybrid progression system, full of customizable equipment, vehicles and weapons in a fashion similar to the Borderlands franchise, and a gripping story with a Halo feel, Destiny is shaping up to be a blockbuster release. Sticking true to their sci-fi roots, this epic shooter takes place in the entire solar system, allowing players to roam planets like Mars and Venus, among others.
While many people, including myself, enjoyed a glimpse into what the game has to offer during its beta period in the last full week of July, there seems to be an incredible amount to do in Destiny, ranging from cooperative to competitive gameplay. Also including MMO-style elements like a social hub where players can interact, Destiny is a surefire title that will certainly have players fully engaged, easily spending days online, regardless of which platform they play on.
The Sims 4 (PC) – Sept. 2
The Sims 4 is the latest in the fun and frivolous life simulation franchise that hasn’t seen a release in five years. This time around, players will spend more time socially interacting with other Sims in a neighborhood environment, doing all kinds of new activities and exploring new locations, rather than focusing on needs, like whether or not they are clean, hungry, or have to use the bathroom.
Boasting a wide range of new emotions, and a player model that looks more human-like while still retaining the quirky, humorous nature of the game, this new installment looks to contrast the 2009 release The Sims 3. Without an open world to explore, grocery stores and other components introduced previously, it definitely will be a new experience for Sims lovers, but does leave room for additions and improvements via patches and expansions, probably at the expense of the gamer’s pocket.
NHL 15 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3) – Sept. 9
While Madden may be one of EA Sports’ most critiqued and ridiculed franchises, NHL has become one of its most critically acclaimed in recent years, alongside FIFA. With this year’s release, and the first on the new Xbox and PlayStation systems, NHL 15 is set to take center ice with a range of new improvements, backed by EA’s Ignite engine, which powers the authentic arena atmosphere and improved player likeness. In addition, near-real puck physics, a new collision system and a new commentary duo, NBC Sports’ “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk, make this year’s hockey simulation look like the best yet.
Finally, players will look like themselves, rather than a generic randomly generated nobody, and the excitement and electricity of a NHL experience will be captured more effectively than ever with fresh commentary and authentic crowds. Unfortunately for past-gen players, it looks as though these vast improvements will only be seen on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, making the choice to spend a big chunk of cash on new hardware all the more enticing for hockey fans.