by: Alex N. (@alexnz)
Whoa! It’s March already!?
Well, it turns out even though February is the shortest month of them all, it has proved no slouch when it comes to new game releases. We’ve got a nice variety going this month but also one unfortunate disappointment. Without further ado, I present the best (and worst) of February 2013 (and I hope to see you guys at PAX EAST this month!!)
Fire Emblem Awakening
It seems turn-based strategy games are making a small comeback with games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Skulls of the Shogun. Awakening has come at just the right time for anyone craving more strategic goodness.
Awakening is the latest offering in the long running Fire Emblem series. More of a strategy RPG, gameplay switches between turn-based battles and navigating the overworld where you can interact with your characters. This is where Fire Emblem differs from those other strategy games; the characters are all unique and fleshed out. Instead of taking generic unit types into battle, you are commanding these individuals that you meet through the story. Of course, you’ll come to rely on some of these characters, so you’d do best to keep them safe. Because one of the defining features of this series is that these characters can die. Permanently.
If you’re a diligent player, you’ll be able to load an earlier save, but if you don’t have a save to fall back on, you’ll lose that character for good. Even if that does sound harsh, the game does offer a casual mode that has softer consequences.
I’d say this is worth it for the Fire Emblem / strategy curious among you.
Platforms: 3DS, eShop
Dead Space 3
Another trilogy comes to a close with what I can only presume is the end of space engineer, Isaac Clarke’s necromorph killing days. The Dead Space games have always been graphical showcases and this third outing is no different. Floating in zero-g has never looked so good.
While the series has a heavy horror vibe to it, with each iteration the developers have leaned towards a more action-oriented game. Dead Space 3 continues that trend with the introduction of the weapon crafting system. Every gun can now be broken apart into its individual components and be used to create new weapons.
Also new to the series is the inclusion of two player co-op. The second player takes control of John Carver, a soldier who survived a necromorph attack and suffers from hallucinations. While playing as Carver, you will see him suffer through these hallucinations and be able to see things that the other player can’t. The only thing not making a return is the competitive multiplayer that was introduced in Dead Space 2.
From everything I’ve heard, this sounds like another solid game, but like most trilogies this generation, the story’s conclusion doesn’t quite meet expectations. If you’re a hardcore fan, you almost have no choice but to check it out. If you’re Dead Space curious, definitely check out the original. Graphically it holds up tremendously well for a nearly 5 year old game.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
ALL OF THE CHECKS
Taking place a few years after Metal Gear Solid 4, Revengeance follows Raiden in his own adventure. In typical Metal Gear fashion the story gets nuts. Thankfully, this one doesn’t take itself too seriously and is probably better for it.
As for gameplay, the action focuses on Raiden’s agility and really sharp sword. At the center of this is blade mode. Time slows down after you’ve weakened an enemy and you can then unleash a barrage of sword strikes. Depending on what direction you flick the analog stick you will slice at different angles. The precision is such that you can slice off an opponent’s arms and they will still come at you, Monty Python style.
As a jilted Metal Gear fan, I am SUPER excited for some fresh blood and Platinum has delivered.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Crytek has built their reputation on making even the most powerful PCs cry for mercy with their bleeding edge graphical tech. It took years for people to play the original Crysis at the highest visual settings and a decent frame rate. Years later they’re still showing no remorse. Our only consolation is that Crysis 3 is also releasing on consoles.
The key ingredient for the Crysis series has always been the Nanosuit. At any time you can switch between the suit’s different modes. These modes give you different abilities like invisibility, armor, extra strength, and different vision modes. To prevent abuse, these abilities can only be used for a certain amount of time before needing to recharge.
New for Crysis 3 is the bow and arrow. The bow’s main advantage over the guns is that it won’t break stealth while firing, allowing you to stay invisible and further fulfill you Predator fantasies. Unfortunately, the one thing Crytek can’t seem to nail is the gameplay. Fighting against human enemies is fine for the most part, but everything falls apart with the alien sections. It’s a shame such an amazing looking game can’t be more than a mediocre shooter. If you’re really interested in the series, Crysis 2 sounds like the best of the bunch and is also available on consoles.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Even with the new coat of paint, Runner 2 sticks to Gaijin’s retro roots. A running game in the vain of Canabalt and Temple Run, Runner 2 differentiates itself a bit with the rhythm based element of the Bit.Trip series. While not integral, the music does enhance the experience as the levels and jumps within are all timed to the songs. And also like the other Bit.Trip games, Runner 2 is challenging. Luckily with this version they’ve introduced a checkpoint system within the levels. Now when you miss a jump you won’t have to start all the way from the beginning!
If you’re looking for something easy to jump into but won’t baby you, definitely check this (and the rest of the Bit.Trip games!) out.
Platforms: PC, Mac, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, iOS (later this year)
Aliens: Colonial Marines
This is not the Aliens game you are looking for. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but after hyping up the game, Gearbox (Borderlands) has put out this turd of a game on store shelves and is asking for full price.
Just stay away from this one, especially if you have any love for the Aliens franchise.
And that concludes the heavy hitters of February. To whet your appetite for March, I’ve got a list below of the bigger titles hitting stores. See you next month!
God of War: Ascension
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm
Gears of War: Judgement
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon