The warm and fuzzy till-ringing sound of capitalism returns to shops this week, as the games industry escapes the annual drought of summer.
This week's major launch is an unlikely candidate. Meet Xenoblade Chronicles, a breathtakingly deep and expansive JRPG for the Wii.
In the twilight years of its life, exhausted of all core-gaming potential but for a final Zelda, software sales seem to show the Wii is only being plugged in by tweens and the Lambrini quaffing pre-drinking crowd. Nintendo's machine has been reduced to nothing more than an interactive jukebox.
It's hard to contemplate how Xenoblade could be more different. It's such a niche title that, despite a sizeable fan campaign, Nintendo of America has simply elected not to bother releasing it.
Yet here it is, brought from the back streets of Akihabara (with optional Japanese dialogue track still intact) to the West to fend for itself in your local video game outlet.
Eurogamer has been gorging on it for some time and we'll be sharing our verdict tomorrow morning.
Hoping to seek a wider audience, Age of Empires Online goes live on Tuesday 16th August. You can download a free version from the game's website and play around 40 hours without paying a penny.
Alternatively, the Age of Empires Online retail version - out at the same time for about £20 - includes an extra civilisation to meddle with, plus the power of Rare and Epic items to abuse. Freemium players will be expected to stump up the same amount for this content, with plenty of further expansions planned.
Also out this week? Arcade fighter Arcana Heart 3 punches onto PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Development duties are in the capable hands of the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue team at Arc System Works. A Eurogamer review is in the works.
PC players get gorgeous God game From Dust and soulful RPG Bastion via Steam, while the sun sets on Xbox Live's Summer of Arcade with Toy Soldiers: Cold War - recipient of a Rambo mullet-busting Eurogamer 7/10.
This Week in Shops!
- Developer: Monolith Soft
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Formats: Wii
What is it? An enormous action role-player with an engaging story and vast array of side-quests. It comes from Monolith Soft, the outfit behind Xenosaga and GameCube classic Baten Kaitos. What does Eurogamer think? Eurogamer's review will be published 8am tomorrow.
Age of Empires Online
- Developer: Robot Entertainment/Gas Powered Games
- Publisher: Microsoft Studios
- Formats: PC
What is it? The classic real-time strategy game with added massively-multiplayer elements. Microsoft is hoping you'll come for the free core game and stay for the many paid extras. Eurogamer's review will be published 5pm Tuesday. Edit: We've delayed this review slightly to give us a better chance to test multiplayer modes. We'll bring it to you as soon as we can this week.
- Toy Soldiers: Cold War (XBLA)
- Arcana Heart 3 (PS3, Xbox 360)
- Bastion (PC)
- From Dust (PC)
- Timmy Time (DS)
- 3D Classics Urban Champion (3DS)
- Pro Farm 1 (PC)
Each week one of the team will step up to predict the UK all-formats chart. The following predicts the outcome for the week beginning Friday 19th August (to be reported on Monday 22nd August).
Robert Purchese, Senior Staff Writer, Eurogamer.net
"It's a shame about Xenoblade. It fills a niche Wii has struggled with since launch, and it's brilliant, as you'll find out tomorrow morning. But, alas, it won't sell particularly well. I don't even believe Xenoblade will break the top 10. No, next week Zumba Fitness will again reign supreme. And it's rubbish. Stop buying it! The return of real-life football will ignite the nation's passion for the game and spur FIFA 11 back to second, as FIFA 12 is still weeks away. Then it's all about the films: Lego Pirates in third, Cars 2 in fourth and Harry Potato and the Deathly Shallots in fifth. And thus the future was written."
- Zumba Fitness: Join the Party
- FIFA 11
- Lego Pirates
- Cars 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two
Last week, Eurogamer's intrepid Web Admin Tom Phillips attempted to peer through the haze of tomorrow. How well did he do?
|Position||The Truth||The Prediction||Result|
|1||Zumba Fitness||Zumba Fitness||YES!|
|2||Lego Pirates of the Caribbean||DiRT 3||NO!|
|3||Cars 2||Just Dance 2: Extra Songs||NO!|
|4||DiRT 3||Cars 2||NO!|
|5||FIFA 11||Lego Pirates of the Caribbean||FIRING HIMSELF.|
Your Chart Predictions
Think your prediction skills are up to scratch? This week we're asking you where Wii role-player Xenoblade Chronicles will sit in the chart this time next week. Is it too niche to knock off Zumba Fitness? You decide.