There aren't many games coming out this week, but what is there is of both tremendous weight and quality (or so we hope.) From titles for the would-be Apocalptic Horseman to those with a thirst for a fast-paced JRPG (not an oxymoron, we swear,) this week's smattering of releases is a focused laser of entertainment that is running large both in scale and in anticipation.
(Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Officially, we can't yet tell you whether or not Darksiders II is an awesome game that's well worth a look from anyone who craves something to scratch their action-adventure itch. We're under oath not to reveal too much about it, after all, before its release. That said, Darksiders II is a sequel that looks to have learned a lot from its initial outing. The original Darksiders was a game that unabashedly mashed together the structure of a Zelda title with the violence of God of War and overall aesthetic of World of Warcraft.
While Darksiders II retains its predecessor's basic look and its gameplay fills the same niche of fast-based combat paired with environmental puzzle solving and wall-climbing, it expands upon the original's already large environment with massive zones that the player is free to explore as War's brother, Death, the Horseman thereof. More RPG trappings have made their way in with a full-on loot system. As for the story, well, it's one of redemption, and we'll just say that Death isn't solely seeking it for his brother. Darksiders II rides into stores this Tuesday, August 14.
(PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Square Enix has brought to bear what Activision gave up on. Sleeping Dogs was previously True Crime: Hong Kong (and had yet another title before that). Once canned, the open-world, undercover cop game will now see the light of day, bringing with it multi-tiered gameplay that aims to hit all of your action movie buttons.
Car chases? They're in there. Gunplay? But of course. Melee combat? Yes, and modeled at least somewhat on the free-flow nature of the incredibly satisfying Batman: Arkham games. Though the E3 demo left a bitter taste in my mouth, initial reactions to the finished product have been quite good, and given the game's rocky development cycle (and Square Enix's devotion to putting out a fully-featured PC version, rather than a haphazard console port,) it will be, at the very least, relieving to see it out on shelves when it launches on Tuesday, August 14.
One of the targets of Operation Rainfall, The Last Story is the latest game from former Final Fantasy honcho Hironobu Sakaguchi's Mistwalker Corporation. The title, an action-RPG, follows a party of mercenaries who've come to Lazulis Island seeking employ after parting from the desolate mainland. It's a bit thin so far as a story goes, but knowing Sakaguchi and Mistwalker, there are twists aplenty to be had (and exposition to better flesh them out).
With regard to gameplay, expect hacking and slashing, cover-based crossbow shooting, team gameplay (issue orders to your party members), and the occasional stealth segment. There's even some online play, both cooperative and competitive. It's an oddball as far as JRPGs go, that's for sure. The Last Story shall be told on Tuesday, August 14.
Dust is an interesting downloadable title not only because of its silky smooth animation and intricate art, fast-paced combat, and intimidating bosses. No, Dust is interesting because it is, from art to programming and everything in between, entirely the work of one man.
Designed as a companion to the traditionally animated movie he has been working on for years, Dean Dodrill learned how to program more or less specifically to create this game. The only thing he hasn't done completely in-house is the music, which is credited to Alex Brandon and HyperDuck Studios. Dust's long-awaited release (seriously, I remember hearing about this game in 2010) will be on this Wednesday, August 15.
Hidden Gem of the Week:
Vander Caballero has made games before, but never one so personal. Papo & Yo is, in function, a simple fantasy adventure game, set among the favelas of Colombia, starring Quico and the large, pink monster that serves as both his best friend and most dangerous enemy. See, when the monster consumes frogs in the environment, it loses control, transforming into a dangerous, rampaging beast from which Quico must escape.
Caballero's childhood was marked by an alcoholic, abusive father, of whom the monster is an echo. As such, the monster is unpredictable; alternately beneficent and bloodthirsty, keeping the player constantly on edge around it. It's rare that a video game tackles an experience so darkly personal in such a bright and colorful manner, but Papo & Yo looks to pull it off. It will be available as a downloadable PS3 title on Tuesday, August 14.
Date: August 13, 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.*