Game changers

Zombies, a string of yarn, and the season’s hottest new video games

Halo: Reach

Sept. 14; Xbox 360

The iconic Halo series expands the storyline of its universe once more. This go-around, players control Spartan soldiers whose actions in the storyline predate the original trilogy. Microsoft’s cash cow is known for its stunning sci-fi weaponry, colorful planets, and boisterous online community. Always a favorite due to its multiplayer gameplay, this version continues the tradition of team camaraderie with new modes such as “Headhunter,” an homage to Predator where the player collects a downed enemy’s skull for points. “Firefight” throws endless waves of enemies at the team and scores the player on how long they survive. Look for the latter to be a favorite among gamers.

Dead Rising 2

Sept. 28; Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

Coming out four years after the original Dead Rising, players leave the constraints of the zombie-infested Willamette Mall and venture into Fortune City, an homage to Las Vegas. The new protagonist, Chuck Greene, seeks to enter a Smash TV-esque reality show to earn money that will pay for a cure to his daughter’s zombie infection. The series’ charm comes from the ability to take any object in the area and use it as a weapon. Use slot machines to bludgeon zombies, throw buffet plates like ninja stars, even don a moose head and charge forward to impale the infected with its antlers. One favorite is duct-taping two chainsaws to a motorcycle and burning rubber.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Oct. 17; Wii

It’s been a decade since a Kirby platforming game has hit home consoles. The pink puffball makes a comeback with a complete visual overhaul. As its title suggests, the titular hero is now composed of nothing more than a string of yarn. The worlds and enemies he faces are also comprised of strings and fabric, giving the game a homemade-style appeal. Much like the Paper Mario series, the graphics aren’t just there for aesthetics. Kirby will have to swing himself along on strings at points, and enemies will have to be unraveled to be defeated. Kirby’s charm lies in its simplicity; gamers of all ages can enjoy the series as it provides entertainment at all difficultylevels.

Professor Layton anthe Unwound Future

Sept. 12; DS

The third game in the impressive Professor Layton series looks to have as complex a storyline as ever. Layton one day receives a letter from his assistant Luke, 10 years in the future. Coming after The Curious Village and The Diabolical Box, this title has a lot to live up to. To advance the story, the player solves puzzles posed by characters in order to receive vital information. These puzzles take the form of riddles, mathematical equations and mini-games. Puzzles are often so complex that hints are needed for the player to figure it out. Caution is required, however; the game only gives away a certain number of hints per playthrough, so saving these precious clues for later and harder puzzles is paramount.

Fable 3

Oct. 26; Xbox 360, PC

The world of Fable is more open-ended than ever the third time around as players explore the kingdom of Albion 50 years after the events of Fable 2. The whimsical merriments of medieval weaponry have been usurped by more modern artillery, as guns become more prominent weapons (which doesn’t mean casting a lightning bolt has gone out of style). The online portion of the game is expanded, as well, with far more missions to face together and more items to barter for with other players. A new detail added is the player’s butler, voiced by none other than John Cleese. If players need a particular item currently not in their inventory, they can teleport to their mansion, and Cleese’s character will fetch it for them, but not without a witty a barb or two thrown their way first.

Honorable mentions

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep; Sept. 7 on PSP.

Side Meier’s Civilization V; Sept. 21 on PC

Final Fantasy XIV; Sept. 30 on PC

Super Scribblenauts; Oct. 12 on DS

Fallout: New Vegas; Oct. 19 on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC

Rock Band 3; Oct. 26 on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii