So, everyone cooled down from Mass Effect Mania? Yes? No? We've got a diverse week coming up and I want you all in tip-top shape. Publishers are throwing everything at you from sports to RPGs, party games, and even (dare I say it?) flight sims. Yes, someone has made a flight simulator in this day and age, and it's coming out this week. Maybe it'll be enough to distract me from the pants-wetting terror of this week's horror offerings. And, with that unsettling mental image, we're off:
(PS3, Xbox 360)
Not a fan of the whole commercial production of soccer/football? More in the mood for something a little less formal, with the casual sensibilities of a smaller, pickup street game? FIFA Street aims to provide, with fewer players in the match and the once-retired series' traditional focus on special and flashy moves bolstering its core action.
Eschewing the stylized player models of games past, one might see concern that an imprint known for exhibiting the lighter side of EA's sport development studio is being homogenized somewhat, brought further into line with what's expected of the developer's primary franchises
Tales of Graces was a Japanese Wii entry in the Tales series that never saw an English localization. Luckily, though, after the title was ported to the PlayStation 3 in Japan, an English-language translation of that port was announced and, as of this week, will be hitting store shelves in North America.
This being a PS3 version of what was originally a Wii title, the graphics have been updated, brought into the high-definition age. The story, too, has been expanded, with an extensive epilogue and additional sequences peppered throughout the game's main story. These join several other gameplay tweaks and additions, forming Tales of Graces f, which hits stores in the U.S. on Tuesday, February 13.
If you've played one Mario Party game, you've played them all. That's the general consensus of the gaming public, yes? They're shallow minigame collections only appreciable when paired with certain "atmosphere-enhancing" substances or meta-games. But Nintendo hopes to change your minds this time out, with a few things that shake up the established formula.
The most obvious from even a glance at the game is the new vehicle, which chauffeurs the players around the board as one, cutting down the emphasis on positioning and increasing the amount of time spent in minigames (Mario Party's bread and butter). The biggest change overall, though, is probably the addition of boss battles to each game board, which provides a definite "goal" to each session, instead of the aimless accumulation of coins and stars until the turns run out. Mario Party 9 was available as of Sunday, March 11.
Long-running horror franchise Silent Hill makes its second outing on the next-gen consoles, in advance of the HD Collection that bundles together its two most acclaimed entries. Known for their more deliberate, creeping style of horror (relative to fellow pioneering survival horror franchise, Resident Evil) and purposely awkward combat mechanics, Silent Hill has generally preyed more upon a player's psychology than its contemporaries. Enemies, rather than being drawn from the recognizable, are grotesque and nightmarish amalgams of various fears and primal drives given shape and form.
Though the series has lost some steam in recent years after a reimagining of the first entry that excised combat entirely, it will be interesting to see what direction the latest game takes. Combat will be present (though melee weapons are not unbreakable), but the player's character is a convict, making him arguably the most suited a Silent Hill protagonist has ever been for combat. The game will be creeping into stores on Tuesday, March 13.
Continuing the theme of horror, but turning it on its campy head, Yakuza: Dead Souls takes a break from the open world gangster antics of its predecessors for some straight-up zombie slaying. It's a one-eighty turn for a series that has, in the past, run pretty close to its source material, dealing more with the politics and impact of organized crime in Japan than over-the-top action.
This time out, though, we have a guy with a Gatling gun for an arm. I don't know that there's a more appropriate mental image to sum up the shift in focus for this game. Perhaps it will breathe some fresh life into the series, but it seems, conceptually, more like a joke by the developers that was, for some reason, taken seriously and gone too far. We'll let you know what we think, one way or another. The game comes out Tuesday, March 13.
(PS3, Xbox 360)
It's a weakness, I admit: I can't help but pimp a flight sim. They're so rare these days that I constantly fear the entire genre has died out for good. Luckily, this one has an impressive pedigree. Though devoid of the IL-2 Sturmovik name and published by Konami, Birds of Steel is from the same individuals who developed that series for so long. It's even set during World War II, which is familiar territory for the team.
If you have even a passing interest in aviation, or in what was going on in the sky while the infantry was storming beaches, Birds of Steel is well worth a look. It hits flies onto (and hopefully off of) shelves this Tuesday, March 13.
Hidden Gem of the Week:
Journey is a difficult game to describe, but that's to be expected with a project from the creators of flOw and Flower. In simplest terms, it's an adventure/puzzle-platformer with a large degree of aimless exploration, with only the environments themselves—and they ways in which they catch your eye—to guide you along your path to the game's ultimate reward.
In practice, Journey is liable to become one of the genre's greatest arguments for video games as interactive art, in which even multiplayer becomes a part of the game's message, the ambience for which it strives. It's a short title, a PSN download, but the type of experience that can stick with a player for much longer than its brief play time. Journey hits the PSN this Tuesday, March 13.
Date: February 20, 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.*