Pick & Play: February 12-18
An early Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Not only does this week see a staggering number of retail releases, but the initial trotting out of a new generation of handheld hardware. Who loves you? Sony loves you, baby.
It’s kind of strange to think that the Vita’s official launch isn’t until next week, what with the glut of titles hitting store shelves for the system this Tuesday and Wednesday, and the First Edition Bundle going out (to those who pre-ordered it) on February 15. It’s certainly one of the more unique launch strategies in gaming’s storied history. Perhaps we’ll see the effects of it next week, with a surge of impulse buyers going in for the Vita at its official launch after getting a hands-on opportunity or two with their more exuberant friends’ early units. In addition, we have the return of THQ’s UFC franchise, a new entry in a classic auto combat series and a PS2-to-3DS port. These are this week’s picks:
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Maybe you’ve already picked this up, Sony having dropped the street date for a select sampling of its launch line-up, but for those who’ve waited, the game’s official release has yet to arrive. This is a full-fledged Nathan Drake adventure pared down for Sony’s next-generation (this generation?) handheld. It introduces touch-based gameplay options to the more traditional suite of platforming controls for which the Uncharted series is known, and promises to contain the series’ trademark spectacle and fast-paced combat. If there’s one game at launch to show off what your Vita can do visually, this is the one. It has yet to demo as anything other than gorgeous and smooth. And, if you enjoy the Uncharted mythology, your knowledge thereof won’t be complete without it.
Though some may already have it, Uncharted: Golden Abyss officially hits shelves on Wednesday, February 15.
David Jaffe’s last project at Eat Sleep Play, and the studio’s first retail product for the PlayStation 3, Twisted Metal isn’t so much a sequel as a reimagining of the car-combat franchise. It turns things up to eleven with fast-paced, hectic battles and tremendous bosses, all spread out over a story mode that features multiple endings for each character and a multiplayer mode for up to sixteen players. It’s a series that has always treaded the line between surreal and serious, combining disparate elements of reality and fantasy in ways that can be both humorous and unsettling. This time out, it also features a killer soundtrack. Twisted Metal is hitting on Tuesday, February 14.
UFC Undisputed 3
Back when UFC Undisputed 2010 had hit, and EA MMA was shaping up to be a potentially legitimate competitor to the MMA gaming throne, THQ made the controversial decision to cancel its expected (and already in development) UFC Undisputed 2011 and, instead, put an extra year into its development. UFC Undisputed 3 is the result of that labor, promising a transformation for the series instead of a mere incremental upgrade. In addition to a revamped fighting engine with a bevy of additional defensive options, UFC Undisputed 3 seems geared toward legitimizing a more diverse array of playstyles than its predecessor. It also features a Pride mode, in which players can fight in the ring and under the ruleset of the now-defunct Japanese promotion. UFC Undisputed 3 will be out this Tuesday, February 14.
Okay, so take a racing game. Now turn the cars into futuristic hover-vehicles, tearing down twisting, turning and curving tracks that routinely defy gravity and most of the other laws of physics you know about, casually accelerating to velocities on the far end of extreme. Crank the challenge up to eleven and you’re beginning to make a WipEout game. Harking back to the days of the original PlayStation, WipEout 2048 is a launch title that serves as both a throwback and a technical showcase, featuring not only gyroscopic control, but cross-platform play with the PlayStation 3. It will be out, officially, this Wednesday, February 15.
ModNation Racers: Road Trip
If hyper-fast races on tracks that scoff at gravity to a pulse-pounding techno beat aren’t your speed, perhaps ModNation Racers: Road Trip can deliver. An almost direct answer to Mario Kart, the original ModNation was unique for its comprehensive track-building feature. Road Trip expands on that, allowing for tracks that cross back over themselves, using the Vita’s touchscreen and back touch panel to make construction a more intuitive process of point, click, and rub. The racing itself has been revamped, too, with its developers promising more satisfying controls (drifting in the original was very sticky) and a weapon system based around tiered elemental abilities. It will officially release on Wednesday, February 15.
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend
(PS3, VITA, X360)
So, here’s a neat one. BlazBlue is Arc System Works’ second 2D fighting franchise, notable for both drawing upon and yet distinguishing itself from the studio’s early Guilty Gear games. In addition to three attack buttons, each character has a “drive” ability, which differs depending on the fighter in question, but generally possesses specialized properties that are absolutely essential to that fighter’s success in anything above casual level play. Yes, BlazBlue is a game that calls to the hardcore, and Continuum Shift Extend is the most complete entry yet, featuring both the Continuum Shift story and an updated version of the earlier Calamity Trigger’s plotline. It introduces a new playable character and new storylines for four others, plus various other neat little bits and pieces (including balance tweaks). Perhaps the most interesting feature, however, is exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions of the game: saves from one device can be transferred to the other, and the two can play against each other online. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend hits stores this Tuesday, February 14.
Tales of the Abyss
You got your PS2 in my 3DS! The Tales series makes its first foray into 3D with a title that originally hit the PS2 back in 2005 (2006 in North America). This more-than-five-year-old action-RPG features the series’ familiar real-time combat mechanics, in which players directly control only one of the characters at any given time. One of the first full-fledged Japanese RPGs to hit the handheld in North America, Tales of the Abyss demands a significant time investment from any player who wishes to finish it. It hits stores Tuesday, February 14.
Tekken 3D Prime Edition
With all of the characters from Tekken 6 and a copy of the Tekken: Blood Vengeance movie on the cart, Takken 3D Prime Edition brings the combo-heavy combat of Tekken to a Nintendo handheld. With a promise from Harada of constant, 60-frames-per-second action, even with 3D enabled, the game is something of a technical accomplishment. While the 3D is disabled in wireless matches, those, too, are expected to run at full speed. Tekken 3D Prime Edition will hit stores Tuesday, February 14.
DLC Slated for release this week: Monday, February 13
Hidden Gem of the Week:
Dear Esther is only a game in the sense that it gives you control of a character’s movement in an environment. The environment, in this case, is a deserted, Scottish isle that you explore at a leisurely pace, uncovering your past and unraveling a mystery literally step-by-step. This is an experiment in narrative design, geared toward a player who is more interested in the events going on in his character’s world than in any sort of gameplay, as what amounts to gameplay in Dear Esther is not fulfilling in the traditional “dangling carrot” sense of things.
The story behind its creation is another distinguishing trait: Dear Esther was originally a mod created using the Source engine and, while it still uses it in its commercial release, its production values have shot through the roof, providing a visually stunning experience for those who are of a mind to appreciate it. Dear Esther hits this Tuesday, February 14.
Date: February 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.*