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Back To School, Back To Video Games

A look at Duke Nukem Forever, Resistance 3 and Gears of War 3

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Alice Cooper didn't celebrate going back to school, but video-game publishers may be happy that students are trading the diversions of summer for the forced indoor labors of homework. After all, staying inside means more opportunities to crank up gaming rigs, which is a good thing for the lagging videogame industry. Market research company NPD Group showed that retail sales were down 10 percent from a year ago, and July was the worst month in video-game sales since October 2006.

To reverse the trend, some top-tier games will have to not only hit the market but really wow gaming fans to inject sales life into the industry. Duke Nukem Forever, slated for an end-of-August release, might start the upward move, but the video-game companies need more ammunition than old Duke-ster can carry by himself. Fortunately, he may not have to shoulder the burden alone.

Nintendo has been hyping its 3DS, and while the handheld does not yet had a bevy of big titles available for it, expect to see some well-established favorites roll out in September. These are rehashes of previously released games, but any dyed-in-the-wool gamer will be happy to hear the names like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers or The Legend of Zelda.

Between network hacking woes and low console sales, Sony has had its share of problems over the past months. But maybe shooter fans can hop onboard for Resistance 3, slated to hit retailers on Tuesday, Sept. 6. And Capcom will be giving Sony some gaming love mid-month with an exclusive PS3 release of Resident Evil 4 HD on Tuesday, Sept. 20. It's a remake of an old title but with upgraded visuals. It might be tempting, but it will face serious competition from Gears of War 3, releasing at the same time.

This summer, weather patterns were all over the place but video-game sales were positively chilly. Maybe with school back in session and gamers spending more time indoors, the outlook for the gaming industry will be a little more sunny.

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