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Cataclysm and Bejeweled debut this week in games

David Hughes's picture

This week's release schedule is a rare one: the two highest-profile releases are for the PC, while console owners get little of note.

Today marks the start of a new gaming week, and HULIQ is here to report on this week's high-profile game releases.

The biggest news this week is the massive expansion to the most popular MMORPG out there: World of Warcraft gets the $40 "Cataclysm" expansion pack. Cataclysm offers a number of new features to the already rich MMO. There are expected things like a new level cap (85) and new quest lines, but Cataclysm does two things that offer incredible value for the asking price. First, the expansion introduces two new playable races: the Worgen (werewolf-like creatures that were previously mentioned in the game but present only in a walled-off city) and Goblins. Both quest lines look intriguing, with the goblins particularly so, as all players get a hilarious-looking hotrod to tool around in their starting zone.

The other big thing about Cataclysm, of course, is the event mentioned in the expansion's title. The dragon Deathwing has emerged, and Azeroth is being drastically transformed. Areas that have been a part of World of Warcraft since its launch are now going to be irrevocably transformed. Notably, even players who do not purchase the expansion content still find their instances shifted. Cataclysm, in other words, is more than a mere expansion pack: it represents a new direction for the MMO. A direction which, by all accounts, is a very promising one--and a sign that Blizzard is actively trying to maintain WoW's status as the number one MMO rather than merely sitting back and raking in subscriber fees.

Also releasing this week is PopCap Games' sequel to the addictive "match-three" Bejeweled series. Bejeweled 3 brings new tweaks and is sure to be a strong seller for the digital game developer. From the official website: "Discover all-new ways to play the world’s #1 puzzle game! Find your perfect match with 8 breathtaking game modes that meet all your moods — including Classic, Quest, Lightning and Zen. Enjoy the amazing sights and sounds. Earn flashy achievement badges. Engage in endless gem-matching fun, and soar to dazzling new heights!" I have to admit that those games are not what I enjoy playing, but considering the success of PopCap and the Bejeweled series in particular, this is big news for the industry as a whole. Unfortunately, because very little data exists on digital sales platforms, it will be very difficult to ascertain exactly how successful this game will be.

The other notable release this week is the tie-in game for the new Tron movie. Movie tie-in games are typically poor quality release, and given the number of platforms this is releasing on (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, DS, and PSP) HULIQ is skeptical at best about the quality of this release. If someone is at all interested, reading reviews is highly recommended, but since the movie is generating a lot of buzz the games will surely be of interest to some.

Though few new releases come out during the month of December, the holiday shopping season is already quite busy when it comes to video games. Nintendo in particular has been quite aggressive with its Wii and DS bundles, Microsoft's Kinect continues to be in strong demand versus supply, and there is even evidence of a Playstation Move shortage. Furthermore, numerous quality titles are getting price cuts, so despite a slow release week, there's definitely something of interest at retail for most gamers.

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