A Poor Gamer’s Calendar: 2011

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In spring and summer, one thing was for sure: fall was going to be an absolute deluge of high profile, must-play games. If games nowadays are $60, then before tax is even factored in, you could spend upwards of $500 if you buy every significant game released this fall.

Stating that $500 isn’t chump change is an understatement. $500 is a luxurious ticket to pay for food and bills for a few, guilt free months. If you’re devoted enough to video games to even consider spending that much money, chances are high that you’re a student, recently laid off, or just unemployed.


That’s where the poor gamer’s calendar comes in. The poor gamer’s calendar attempts to dissect the properties that make these AAA titles so big and decide, however imperfectly, which games are worth your time now or later.

Be aware most games on this list are highly anticipated, high profile games; therefore, the intended purpose of this article is to advise you on when to play these games, rather than advising whether to buy them or not.

Battlefield 3
It’s no doubt that multiplayer is the main thing everyone cares about when it comes to Battlefield. In fact, as with any powerful multiplayer-centric game, you’re likely to play it for months on end.

But is it necessary to play it on day one?

You might see your friends start on day one through that fancy Battlelog, but if the game is good, you could always join them a month or two down the line no problem after earning some money. You might arrive late but it’s better than not arriving at all!

Verdict: You don’t exactly need it now. You can join your squad at a later date soldier!

Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham Asylum was a marvel among both games with a license and comic book hero games. It was a unique story to a classic comic book icon that also made you feel like said the infamous Batman.

You can tell your friends how you’re going to play those stealth and combat challenges all you want but the main draw is the main campaign and that is the biggest reason you should consider getting Arkham City as soon as possible. It’s very likely that everyone will be talking about what happens in Arkham City: the gaming press, comic book buffs, your close circle of friends, your extended group of friends, and even that girl who works at Gamestop. Not only will you be unable to participate in the conversation but they’ll be spoiling important story elements!

A few months from now, people won’t simply talk about how Arkham City ended. That’ll happen within the first week of the game’s release or the first month at the latest. Like an actual comic book revelation, it’s not just about experiencing it for yourself but also talking to your friends about it.

Verdict: Consider purchasing the game immediately because justice waits for no man, woman, or gamer.

Thinking on the content of Skyrim and the games that came before it, my opinion is that the Elder Scrolls games have always been enthralling adventures that are good no matter when you play them. I once met someone who continued to play Morrowind in 2008, while I continued to play Oblivion right up until the end of last year.

Skyrim promises many changes that many Elder Scrolls fans are probably looking forward to. Changes that dramatically alter the way they’ve been playing the Elder Scrolls for years. A denser, more immersive world, with dual handed combat, a perk system, and a new focus on dragons and their language to bring forth incredible magical effects.

But people don’t really talk about an Elder Scrolls game. They play it and experience it. You don’t have to worry about a water cooler situation where a colleague will strike up a conversation about “that one dragon fight.” You might share fishing stories on interesting events happening around you in the world of Tamriel but people haven’t really discussed Elder Scrolls games in the past.

Verdict: Skyrim can wait but make sure you make time for a long adventure when you do get it. It’s probably the perfect game to play over Christmas break.

Modern Warfare 3
Now when it comes to Call of Duty vs. Battlefield, it’s up to personal taste. They’re both shooters with a big focus on multiplayer, while striving for a strong singleplayer option but only resulting with mixed results. Is there really anything different about MW3 that could make it’s verdict different from Battlefield 3?

There is indeed the time element involved with Call of Duty: Elite, their CoD specialized, social networking service. One of CoD: Elite’s features are an array of contests and tournaments you can apply to compete in online, with different prizes of varying value up for grabs including real prizes like those Jeeps they love to throw around in promotions so much.

But asides from that? It’s like Battlefield in terms of time sensitivity. Not that I’d say the two games are the same because that would start an entirely different conflict.

Verdict: Activision is playing up Call of Duty: Elite, but it shouldn’t matter. Get it later if you want.

Skyward Sword
The lone Wii title on this list, Skyward Sword probably has the same approach to this list as Arkham City: a game many people will be talking about in it’s early release days due to the content of the story. Zelda games however, have usually been very predictable in plot advancement. It’s not like all your friends are going to talk about that fire temple unless it has a really great set piece like a boss.

Still, Skyward Sword also has a fresh take in it’s favor, being a world based on traveling through the sky and an impressionist art style, the hype surrounding this game may be enough to create a lot of impulse buys.

Verdict: Like Arkham City, there is an element of socialization that will follow immediately after. The fact that it’s an established name like Zelda puts greater emphasis that the discussion around Zelda will be even broader.

Uncharted 3
Uncharted has long been Naughty Dog’s baby when Crash Bandicoot became a bygone relic of previous generations and the PS3 arrived on the block. Uncharted is also one of PS3′s flagship games, in a era of corporations needing reasons to point and laugh at their competitors, saying, “Haha! We have this IP and you don’t!”

Like Skyward Sword, Uncharted is another exclusive, this time to the PS3. The series has always been regarded as providing a high quality, cinematic experience, much like a movie you play. If there’s anything I have to say about blockbuster movies, it’s that you have to see them, not only to talk with your colleagues, but also to understand all the in-jokes and references the mass media will throw around afterwards.

When Inception came out and I didn’t watch it, people kept referencing different things I didn’t get until I finally saw it for myself some time later. And Uncharted 3 may leave you high and dry unless you get in on it too.

Verdict: It’s a no brainer for PS3 owners. Uncharted has been envied as a long time PS3 exclusive for a reason after all.

Saints Row: The Third
In a world of games with serious backstories, Saints Row 3 comes in with a flying drop kick through our windshields while holding a ginormous purple dildo as a weapon.

I have to admit, it’s hard to look at Saints Row 3 objectively because it honestly ramps the insanity meter past 10 making it hard to ignore. Trailers have so far revealed unnecessary but fun grapple moves on unsuspecting civilians, a jump jet, a gang of techno geeks whom you fight at one point in a Tron inspired level, a sky diving sequence, a set piece which has you flying through the plane you just jumped out of, and an orbital laser you have command over.

It doesn’t sound like Saints Row 3′s brand of fun will really go out of style any time soon.

Verdict: Make your decision based on the fact that there is apparently a button dedicated to attacking testicles. I find that an irresistible, day one purchase.

Dark Souls
Demon Souls became a cult favorite when it hit the states. It’s distinct approach to difficulty and gameplay attracted many people jaded by the action-RPG genre. With this fanbase to work off of, Dark Souls has a considerably good chance at being received with a large welcome.

Some people have even decided to pit Dark Souls in direct competition to Skyrim. Personally, I think the two fan bases are entirely different but since their release dates are so close, you may need to make a tough decision..

Dark Souls may have some priority over Skyrim in terms of immediate action due to my limited knowledge that Demon Souls was a rather challenging game. One way to think of it is that the sooner you play the game, the smaller the chance you’ll have difficult puzzles and battles spoiled to you by friends and the internet. After all, you wouldn’t want to go into a Mega Man level knowing exactly what to do. The challenge is what makes games like Dark Souls and Mega Man enjoyable.

Verdict: Challenge in different games is one thing, but Dark Souls promises to be all about a great test of your skill, and you wouldn’t want that spoiled by people who played it before you, would you?

Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Some may think of this Ultimate offering as a simple cash grab, but as a fan of the fighting game scene, I could care less about those opinions. The simple matter is that if the majority moves on to Ultimate, I will too if it means playing a good set with someone online.

Now, personally, I can’t wait to see how the revealed characters play, let alone the last four who have yet to be revealed. I just want to dedicate a small wad of my savings towards this game. But when you think back on how vanilla MvC3 was handled, some post-launch patches are bound to occur. Heck, Sentinel’s health was nerfed sometime after MvC3 was released.

Like a few other multiplayer entries on this list, joining the experience later as opposed to day one will not affect your overall enjoyment. Specifically for a fighting game like Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, the online multiplayer may be improved if you wait.

And of course, this is all assuming you’re on the fence about what Ultimate brings to the table as a revised entry to the original Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.

Verdict: Get it later, that is if you haven’t been cheesed off by Capcom’s actions as of late.

In this day of highly anticipated games being released back to back and the accusations of titles being released incomplete to day one and post-launch patches, buying a game as soon as it comes out is becoming more and more of a problem in many ways. Some games may frustrate you on day one because of problems the developer didn’t foresee. Other games simply drop in price due to their lack brand recognition and developer support.

We all have our own favorite games and franchises but there’s no doubt that each title on this list will reach their own level of critical acclaim that will draw in many unsure buyers. Just weigh the options of what you want to play, what your friends are playing, and and the community you want to be a part of and be smart about how much money you’ll have on hand during this insane fall season. Gamers shouldn’t just be savvy about just technology and news but also money matters too.

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About striderhoang

One day in 1994, a child traveled to Fresno to visit his relatives when, on his birthday, he was given a Sega Genesis. Thus started a chain reaction that began a life of video gaming and skyrocketing oil prices (probably). In all seriousness, Strider has been reading video game journalism for the better part of 17 years of his life and what does he have to show for it? A BA in journalism and contributed articles everywhere from Bitmob to Destructoid. Currently looking for his dream writing job.