It's a varied list of games this week, with games both mainstream and independent hitting store shelves and claiming bandwidth with reckless abandon. Within both sets, however, there are odd mash-ups and long-forgotten concepts made pertinent once more. The point-and-click adventure sees a particular resurgence this week. Oh, and there's an expansion to this little game called Civilization V. No big.
Civilization V redefined Civilization as a whole, overhauling basic systems that had been in place since the series' inception. Gods & Kings expands upon the groundwork laid by Civ 5 by introducing new systems for battle, as well as a few things from earlier entries that are finally returning.
Chief among these? Religion and espionage. That isn't to say that they're the same as they were before. Religion now centers around "faith" as a form of currency, which is used to purchase beliefs that provide minor benefits to enhance one's existing play style. Regarding espionage, spies are a finite resource, and not represented by a visible unit, but their skills are accessible by way of a menu, from which their actions can be assigned.
Oh, and there are new civilizations to play as, because what's the point of expanding a Civ game without giving you more cultures to turn into heartless dictatorships? You can do exactly that when the expansion launches on Tuesday, June 19.
(DS, PS3, Vita, Wii, Xbox 360)
Travelers' Tales' LEGO series returns to Gotham City with an expanded roster of heroes and villains alike, drawing from the Justice League's tapestry to bring in such greats as Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern. There's also this Superman guy you may have heard of. The real focus, though, is the Caped Crusader himself and his sidekick, Robin: The Boy Wonder. They'll be exploring an open world, which holds true even in co-op. That's right: you are not locked directly to your partner, and may explore the city in different locations at your leisure.
Further, the cast is fully voiced this time out, with Kevin Conway reprising his perennial role as Batman. This is unprecedented for a LEGO game, the rest of the series having used mere mumbling sounds and a wide variety of visuals and gestures to convey the story. This worked well for those LEGO games that were retelling an existing story from another property, but the LEGO Batman games use original plotlines, which limits the complexity they can achieve without voiced content. Will it work? We'll know when the game hits shelves on Tuesday, June 19.
Is this a peanut butter and chocolate situation? I'm honestly not sure. Pokémon games have always had a relatively simplistic RPG background, with strict move limits and a very basic turn-based structure. In Pokémon Conquest, the turn-based bit may carry over, but the game is played as a tactical RPG, a strategy game, more in line with the other element of its mix-two-great-tastes amalgamation: Nobunaga's Ambition.
Using Pokémon gathered from across the land, the player pits his warlord against others controlling regions of the map, conquering them in battle to claim their territory. It's an odd mix, managing to stand out even in a week full of strange and eclectic releases. It comes out today, June 18.
Steel Battalion, on the original Xbox, was a futuristic mech combat game. The Vertical Tanks of that game and its primarily online sequel, Line of Contact, were controlled with a massive, forty-button, three-pedal, two-stick behemoth of a controller. They were hulking and unwieldy for the most part, unabashedly mechanical in a way that few mech games since have tried to emulate. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, on the other hand, is a Kinect title.
Don't run away just yet! It's still an action game, and the standard controller still sees use. In fact, the standard controller is how one moves and fights. The Kinect is for actions one wishes to take within the cockpit, which Heavy Armor makes a necessity by virtue of its mechs' fully mechanical nature. That's right: no computers. There's a silicon-eating microbe out there, limiting the tech level to a pre-information age scale.
Also, it's being developed by the same company as Dark Souls and Armored Core, so they know deliberate and they know mechs. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor will be available on Tuesday, June 19.
The Dark Eye is a German pen & paper role-playing system that has seen PC adaptation in North America by way of the Realms of Arkania and Drakensang games. Now, the role-playing system is getting a traditional point-and-click adventure game. From the developers of The Whispered World, Chains of Satinav features striking visuals that appear to be hand-drawn. It looks like one is playing a painstakingly well-crafted painting. It will be available this Friday, June 22.
Hidden Gem of the Week:
There's an almost indefinable appeal to 8-bit visuals. Is it purely nostalgia? In cases like Mega Mans 9 and 10, that's probably the case for the most part, but those are intentional throwbacks in a classic series. However, there has also been a proliferation in recent years of titles that use an 8-bit aesthetic, and even gameplay elements drawn from that era, and pair them with modern design principals and philosophies.
The results are intriguing in part because they're jarring, visuals and content combining in a way that provides an oddly pleasurable sort of cognitive dissonance. Oniken aims to be one such case, drawing its inspiration from classic action side-scrollers such as Ninja Gaiden and Strider. It takes place in 20XX (a hallmark of late 80s/early 90s action games) on a post-apocalyptic Earth ravaged by global war. It even has cinematics and a screeching-guitar trailer.
Also, unlike the games of that age, Oniken is unrepentantly violent. Is it worth your time? Try out the two-level demo and see for yourself. The game comes out on Friday, June 22.
Date: June 18, 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.*