There are only two major retail releases this week, and yet we have one of the longest release lists of the summer (it's still technically summer, right?) due to downloadable games and, for the PlayStation 3 in particular, a glut of high-definition compilations, all landing at once. But I mentioned big retail releases, right? There's an MMO that eschews the traditional subscription formula, and an annual entry in the most dominant sports franchise of our time. Kind of a strange mix there, no?
The sequel to the MMO that wasn't quite an MMO, Guild Wars follows in its forebear's footsteps and offers itself to the masses devoid of a monthly fee. That is, for the most part, where the similarities end. Yes, the world is the same as that in the first game, fast-forwarded by a significant age (long enough that gunpowder weapons are a viable means of self-defense), but from a gameplay perspective, things have taken a tremendous turn. Where before there were only humans, now there are five races. Though the two-class system is gone, the race one picks does have an influence on what skills one will have.
Perhaps the most intriguing feature, though, is that quests one completes will actually alter the world as the player perceives it, supporting the illusion that what they are doing actually matters. A degree of permanence will do much to assuage the frustration one can feel after watching a villain respawn merely ten minutes after the player kills it, such that another on the quest may have a go. Guild Wars 2 hits store shelves on Tuesday, August 28.
(PS3, Vita, Wii, Xbox 360)
This year's Madden tackles one of my major complaints about previous entries in the franchise: why, in a world in which we can simulate the flow of water over objects and have complex hair physics, should the tackles in a football game (arguably the most visceral part of the experience) be canned animations? EA seems to have had the same thought, as they've introduced a physics engine for tackles in this year's entry that aims to make them more fluid, natural and diverse. What else did they do? That's what our review is for.
For those who can't get enough gridiron antics, Madden 13 can be yours this Tuesday, August 28.
Rock Band Blitz is a rhythm game (yes, those still exist), but not the sort you've likely played before. It doesn't require any "instruments," nor does it task you with rhythmically tapping away at a single line of notes to play a song from beginning to end. Instead, Rock Band Blitz has more in common with Harmonix's earlier efforts, such as Frequency and Amplitude, though its most direct contemporary may be the PSP's Rock Band: Unplugged.
As in Unplugged, the player controls the entire band, switching between instruments, each represented by a differently colored track. There is strategy to be had in switching efficiently to maximize one's score, but it runs at a lightning pace since the song continually plays on and the notes keep coming. Rock Band Blitz hits the PSN on Tuesday, August 28 and the XBLA on Wednesday, August 29.
(PC, PS3, X360)
I have a tremendous soft spot for flight games. Space dogfighting in particular, but I'll take a good World War II game if it has an appealing hook. Damage Inc.'s hook is that it also heralds the release of a new joystick, something neither console nor PC has seen in what feels like ages (I remember the days when one could walk into a Best Buy or CompUSA and see a line of joysticks stretching out for one to experiment with, to see which best fit one's style). Now relegated to the realm of expensive and limited purpose hobbyist trash, it's quite an event when a reasonably priced peripheral hits the market.
The game looks fun, too, with the player supporting naval warfare from the air on the Pacific front of World War II, combating Japanese forces in fierce dogfights. But, still, I'll probably be picking this one up for the peripheral when it hits on Tuesday, August 28.
We've gone through something of a Tim Schafer renaissance of late. After leaving LucasArts, where he'd gained fame and adulation for the Monkey Island games and Full Throttle (among other point and click adventures), the funniest man in gaming formed his own studio. Double Fine has only released a few games, but the name is now famously associated with the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter, which started off a trend of extremely successful Kickstarters for games and gaming-related devices, many of them from developers who had been huge in the older days of gaming.
And now you can play Tim Schafer's first Double Fine project, Psychonauts, on your PlayStation 3. And you should, because even though the platforming and combat can be a little janky, Psychonauts is a tremendously entertaining game that is, by turns, hilarious and touching. Look, it involves a psychic summer camp, pyrokinetic animals, and a fish-borne city upon which players can go Godzilla. It'll be out on the PSN this Tuesday, August 28.
DLC Slated for release this week:
Hidden Gem of the Week:
My first look at this game immediately brought the words "N+" and "Super Meat Boy" to mind, and They Bleed Pixels does share a basic premise with these wall-jumping platformers, especially with Super Meat Boy's deadly blades and bloody graphics. They Bleed Pixels, however, also throws in a hint of Dustforce, with combo-based, occasionally aerial combat even in the midst of spinning saw blades of doom.
The story involves a disturbed young woman and an arcane book, her hands becoming bloody claws with which she deals destruction. Is it all in her mind? Maybe there's a bit of Sucker Punch in here as well. They Bleed Pixels will be out on Wednesday, August 29.
Date: August 27, 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.*