Sequels, sequels, sequels. It's a light release week in pure quantity, but that doesn't mean that big games aren't hitting, from the next big open-world game to a sequel for a cult favorite RPG almost three years gone. Beat'em ups and shoot'em ups also get their due this week on Pick & Play!
(PS3, Xbox 360)
From the people who brought you Hulk: Ultimate Destruction—and, of course, the original Prototype—comes a sequel to that most unabashedly violent of free-roaming games. While the Hulk's outing had its share of bodies and crumbling environments, Prototype featured a "hero" whose basic abilities included the strength to rip a civilian cleanly in half before absorbing both parts into his parasitic, tendril-swarmed mass. The primary colors of Prototype were black and red, with good reason.
The sequel appears to be following suit, though one's range of actions has expanded. More than that, though, the story has gotten a boost. The boring, amnesiac cipher that was Alex Mercer is out. In his place, players take command of Sergeant James Heller, whose target is the previous game's "protagonist," seeking revenge for his family's murder at Mercer's hands. Players will be climbing and gliding through NYZ come Tuesday, April 24.
This sequel has been a long time coming. The original Risen was the spiritual successor to Gothic 3, built by Piranha Bytes after they ceded the Gothic license to JoWood. While the latter went on to release the Forsaken Gods "expansion" and Arcania: Gothic 4 (both of which more or less butchered the open world, free-form gaming for which the Gothic series drew renown), Risen took a page from the original Gothic's handbook and set itself in a virtual prison, an island that ran deep with caves and ruined temples. Even though Risen's world was, in gaming terms, expansive and loaded with depth, the fact that one was trapped on an island provided a similar sense of confinement to that created by the prison environment of the original Gothic.
The sequel takes things to the harbor town of Caldera, featuring a disillusioned and deflated protagonist, who sees little hope for the world in the wake of the original Risen. Monsters terrorize the seas and the battle against the Titans continues. With a certain high seas/swashbuckling theme to it, Risen 2 seems somewhat brinier than its predecessor. It sets sail on Tuesday, April 24.
(PC, PSN, XBLA)
Another Telltale game, another episodic adventure series. This one looks to bear less in common with the quirky Sam & Max or Back to the Future style of humorous adventure gaming that were Telltale's trademark in its initial outings. Instead, The Walking Dead is a five-part prequel to the eponymous comic-book-turned-hit-television-show.
Set prior to the story of Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes, the game follows convicted criminal Lee Everett, adding a dark twist from the get-go to the player's history. Touting its connection to the comic's universe over that of the television show, The Walking Dead will hopefully please fans of both, rinsing out the lukewarm taste of Telltale's last serious outing, Jurassic Park. Those who order the season now will find out when the first episode hits on Tuesday, April 24.
Bloodforge is one of those games where, looking at it, one has to wonder, "Is this really an XBLA title?" With extreme violence, a distinct aesthetic that draws upon Celtic mythology and film noir alike, and production values the likes of which would befit a retail release, Bloodforge is instead making its home in the digital realm.
An action-adventure title that touts its aesthetic and combat system alike, which includes Rune attacks in addition to its basic weapon combos, Bloodforge's developers may be depending on its value as an Arcade title to keep it from over-staying its welcome: a distinct problem of hack-and-slash beat 'em up games in a generation that often feels as though it has moved beyond them. Bloodforge will be available for download on Wednesday, April 25.
With a name that means "True Red Katana," Akai Katana Shin is an Xbox 360 updated re-release of Cave's 2010 bullet hell shooter, Akai Katana.
There's a story, as there always is, but does it really matter? This is the sort of game that tramples your reflexes into the ground, beats your eyes into submission, and then demands that you absolutely dominate it. It dares you to find the pixel-wide gaps between rotating enemy sprays of bullets, to perfectly position your ship to survive each boss' onslaught while delivering your own in turn.
It comes to you from the mind behind Deathsmiles and, as with that game, the action is side-scrolling in this outing. Akai Katana Shin hits shelves on Friday, April 27.
DLC Slated for release this week:
Hidden Gem of the Week:
The other Shift series games have all been either Flash productions or exclusive to smartphones. The concept, though, is classic puzzle-platformer. Players are tasked with navigating black and white levels, collecting keys and other objects that alter the environment in such ways that they can proceed to the exit. Avoiding traps is also critical and, in the Shift series, that falls not merely to one's dexterity, but also to one's ability to flip their character between the white and the dark of each level at the touch of a button—the eponymous "shift."
In Shifting World, this brain-bending mechanic steps into 3D, using the 3DS's screen to introduce an extra mechanic to the already solid puzzler. Will it pay off? Will it merely be a prettier version of a flat concept, already played out? Here's hoping that this is to the previous Shift series games what Picross 3D was to its predecessor: a game that expands intelligently and compellingly on a very basic framework, via the third dimension. We'll find out when Shifting World launches this Tuesday, April 24.
Date: April 23, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*