HL2: Episode 3 -> Max Payne 3
It's been what feels like an eternity since the last installment of Half-Life 2 and many expect the episodic trilogy to conclude this year. Although Valve hasn't offered a concrete launch date (or much of anything else for that matter), there is some tangible proof Episode Three is in the pipeline. In December, a Valve employee was spotted in an Episode Three t-shirt. Around the same time, a voice actor claimed to have recorded lines for the game. We've also seen bits of content art and possible snippets of code in a leaked Dota 2 client.
Agent 47 reprises his role as a ruthless assassin in the fifth installment of Hitman, which focuses on uncovering a conspiracy involving antagonist Blake Dexter, a new character. Absolution will bring many changes, including new voice actors for 47 and Diana, new musical composers, a greater use of shadows and cover mechanics, as well as the ability to strangle people with your bare hands and pull people off ledges. However, familiarities such as the ability to wear disguises and 47's faithful Silverballer pistols will also be present.
Skyrim only launched a few months ago, but folks itching for a change of scenery will have the opportunity in February. Headed by Ken Rolston, the lead designer of TES III: Morrowind and TES IV: Oblivion, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning promises a similarly gripping fantasy RPG experience, albeit with timing and combo-based combat. Described as a blend of Oblivion and God of War, the title will feature five distinct regions, four playable races, and three class trees (Might, Finesse and Sorcery) with 22 abilities each.
Commander Shepard's heroic saga continues in the third and final installment of Mass Effect's trilogy (other Mass Effect games are expected afterward). The story resumes on Earth with Shepard on trial for his actions in Mass Effect 2's "Arrival" DLC, at which point the world is attacked by Reapers. Shepard must flee the planet seek aid from alien civilizations while simultaneously dealing with Cerberus' betrayal. Gameplay-wise, ME3 will offer refined combat and cover mechanics, as well as smarter, more strategic enemies.
An aged and ever-cynical Max Payne continues his struggle as the story leaves the streets of New York and picks up eight years later in Brazil where Payne is double-crossed and hunting for the truth. While some fans are bummed about the drastic setting change, we'll have to wait until May to judge the full atmosphere and story. However, the gameplay sounds improved with the ability to dual-wield different weapons, take human shields, perform life-saving kill shots, along with destructible environments and multiplayer action.
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