“Marvel’s Spider-Man” – September 7 for PS4
Kicking off the month of September is Sony’s next tentpole exclusive, “Spider-Man,” finally giving the Marvel hero’s license to capable hands in Insomniac Games. The studio is home to the minds behind the great action-platformer series “Ratchet & Clank,” as well as the Xbox One debut title “Sunset Overdrive.” The game’s story is set a few years after Peter Parker became Spider-Man, giving players a more experienced web-slinger to take control of. Traversal has been emphasized by the studio, and based on trailers and footage seen, they have perfectly captured how Spidey swings around the city. We’ve gotten a lot of poorly done “Spider-Man” games in the past, but with Rocksteady Studios’ “Arkham Asylum” showing you can make a genuinely fun superhero game through Batman, I think we’re finally due for a good title for the iconic web-head.
“NBA 2K19” – September 11 for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC
The newest iteration in the hugely popular basketball series, “NBA 2K,” is set to celebrate its 20th release this year. For “2K19,” the studio is going with rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo and the already well-proven LeBron James as this year’s cover athletes, making the celebration for the anniversary as bombastic as possible. The studio has made it clear that they’ve listened in terms of the various improvements to modes, like overhauling the online association mode for MyLeague, a stronger narrative for MyCareer and more ways to build a better squad in MyTeam. It remains to be seen whether those promises hold weight, though community members from early-access events have noted a substantial improvement in the game’s core gameplay compared to last year’s. Continuing the tradition of pulling big Hollywood names for their MyCareer story mode, 2K brings on Anthony Mackie to headline the game, probably most known for his role in the MCU as Sam Wilson (A.K.A Falcon).
All that said, the game still uses a microtransaction model to speed up your progression, even when the majority of the rest of the industry has avoided those pay-to-win mechanics like the plague after last year’s debacle. The reason that 2K and other sports series continue this model is their domination of their respective marketplace, with no reliable other game to go to that offers a fun basketball, soccer or football experience. EA flat out owns the license to make NFL games, and games like “PES” or “NBA Live” fail to match the gameplay quality of their competitors, despite introducing compelling additions like being able to create a female player or getting to play as WNBA teams in “NBA Live.”
“Shadow of the Tomb Raider” – September 14 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC
The initial reboot for the “Tomb Raider” series during the last console generation was one of the highlights from the era for me personally. It finally gave the iconic video game character Lara Croft a much more realistic presence, showcasing the shift from a scared castaway to the compelling hero most know her as now. The game made excellent use of her defining moments, such as when she has to kill someone for the first time, emphasizing the regretful emotions she experiences despite being completely justified in her actions. Probably the one flaw the series has had thus far was in choosing a release date, with the second game released in 2015 on a timed exclusivity contract with Xbox and lost between games like “Call of Duty: Black Ops III,” “Fallout 4” and “Star Wars: Battlefront.” Despite that rough outing, the series has gathered a dedicated base behind it, enough so to warrant a film adaptation based on the reboot earlier this year. This third title finds itself right on the tail of Sony’s aforementioned marquee title “Spider-Man,” as well as the year-round bestseller “NBA 2K.” I do think the game will still find success though, and hopefully enough to warrant a continuation in the series.