Saturday, August 4, 2012

WHA.C.O. - Vol. 1: WHAt’s Coming Out (August 2012)

by J. Adams

August is usually a fairly light month for triple-A game releases - school is starting up again so the “traditional” target audience isn’t going to be spending as much time or money on games. It also falls before the major U.S. holiday season (and the beginning of most companies’ fiscal year) when publishers are most anxious to see their highest sales. This August isn’t an exception.

Nintendo will release the Nintendo 3DS-XL on August 19th for a relatively modest $199.99. This new model of the 3DS includes dual screens 90% larger than the original (top: 4.88 in., bottom: 4.18 in.), an “86% longer battery life” which will bring the play time on a full charge to roughly six hours, while increasing the weight of the system by about 3/4 of a pound. The new handheld will release on the same day as New Super Mario Bros. 2, likely to help your local game shop employees sell both to you at the same time – that’s what I would do, anyway.

August 1

– XBOX Live Arcade

A side-scrolling, survival horror platforming by independent developer Tequila Works, Deadlight is the first game.

August 7

Persona 4, Arena
– PS3, Xbox 360
2D fighter based on Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 characters, with its own side-plot loosely connected to Persona 3: FES and Persona 4.
Sound Shapes – PS3, PS Vita
Side-scrolling musical platformer, geared to casual gamers. 

August 8 

Hybrid – Xbox Live Arcade
Downloadable from the Xbox Live store, Hybrid is an online multiplayer third-person shooter that takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting. 

August 10 

The Amazing Spider-Man – Windows PC
I’m not a fan of movie tie-in games because they tend to be rushed to coincide with the release of the movie they represent. This particular game is being developed by Beenox, the same company that developed the last two Spider-Man games, Edge of Time and Shattered Dimensions. Those two were a bit of a good time, so this one might be worth a look as well – just beware of spoilers, as the game is supposed to serve as an “epilogue” to the film. 

Euro Truck Simulator 2 – Windows PC
Have you ever wanted to be the driver of a semi-truck, picking up and delivering cargo in and around Europe’s major cities? Me either - but apparently there are people out there who enjoy that kind of thing. They are welcome to it. 

August 13 

Sanctum – Mac
Sanctum is a hybrid first-person shooter and tower defense game that has been available on Windows since April 2011. It’s a fun diversion, but I prefer Orcs Must Die. 

August 14 

Darksiders II – Windows PC, Xbox 360, PS3
This is the highly anticipated sequel to Darksiders released in 2010. In the sequel, players will take control of Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who is convinced that his brother War (the playable character from the original), is innocent of the crimes that he has been convicted of committing. The game is reported to be double the size of the first and will include additional puzzle-solving and a hub-spoke dungeon system. 

The Last Story – Wii
Normally I am very lukewarm about third-person action/role-playing games, but this particular game is being developed by Mistwalker Studios, the company founded by the legendary Hironobu Sakaguchi (creator of Final Fantasy). As an added bonus, Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy, the SaGa series, and The Black Mages (band)) is composing the score. I am definitely looking forward to this one. 

Papo & Yo – PS3 (via PlayStation Network)
A casual fantasy adventure game by independent developer Minority, Papo & Yo is a puzzle/platformer about a boy and his massive, razor-mawed monster. I generally pass on these sorts of games myself, but there is a very large (and growing) market for games like this. 

Sleeping Dogs – Windows PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Sleeping Dogs is an open world crime drama action game with controls reminiscent of Batman: Arkham Asylum’s “Freeflow” combat system, a fully-integrated cover system, and a three-tiered experience point system that will represent the main character’s support of the Triads, the Police, and his general reputation around the city. I’m not normally one for these particular sorts of actions games, but if the role-playing elements and the experience system are well managed, it might be worth a purchase. 

August 15 

Dust: An Elysian Tail – Xbox Live Arcade
This game has been getting quite a bit of attention for simply being developed by a single person while maintaining “a level of graphic quality usually notable to teams with dozens of personnel.” I’ll give the demo a test run, but I won’t have high expectations for more than graphics based on what I’ve seen. 

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack – Windows PC
This was a downloadable launch title for the PlayStation Vita and a sequel to Tales From Space: About a Blob. Mutant Blobs Attack is a side-scrolling platformer in which players control an alien blob that grows as it consumes loose objects in the game world. There are some physics-based puzzles involved, and many of the obstacles presented to the player can be bypassed by simply growing larger. 

August 19 

New Super Mario Bros. 2
It’s Mario, so there’s really not too much to say. The game plays like a classic Mario Bros. side-scroller, but this installment puts a larger emphasis on gathering coins – the ultimate goal of the game is to collect One. Million. Coins. Sounds like a weekend of fun to me! 

August 21 

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – Windows PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Mac
It’s been a while since there’s been a full-blown Counter-Strike release, and this installment seems to be a good direction for the series. It plays as a first/third-person shooter based around terrorists vs. counter-terrorists and will feature objective-based matches as opposed to the more common Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. 

Retro/Grade – PlayStation Network
Another Indie for the PS3, Retro/Grade is part rhythm game, part shooter. The game plays like a normal space/plane shooter but is entirely timed to the background music. As such, it can be played with a regular controller or a guitar controller. 

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron – Windows PC, Xbox 360, PS3
The sequel to 2010’s Transformers: War for Cybertron is the next chapter of the war between the Autobots and Decepticons prior to their arrival on Earth. It’s a third-person action shooter that shows promise, and the first game released to slightly above-average reviews. 

August 24 

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition – Windows PC
When released for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 several months ago, Dark Souls gained a solid following simply because it is, quite simply, one of the most unforgiving games ever created. The standard difficulty of this game puts “Realistic” modes on any other game to shame. Finally, PC gamers are going to have the chance to play it – although most of their time will most likely be spent watching death animations. 

August 28 

Guild Wars 2 – Windows PC
Guild Wars is one of the more popular massively-multiplayer online games, and one of the stronger competitors to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. Guild Wars focuses far more on player-vs.-player (PvP) content, and for many, that is the primary attraction. I wasn’t a fan of the first release, so I will likely be giving this one a pass. 

Madden NFL 13 – PS3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita
Electronic Arts releases a new Madden game every year, and they’re all basically the same. I have exactly one sports game (Madden ’09) that I play maybe – maybe – twice a year. In short, expect more of the same (football) with slightly better graphics and updated team rosters and stats. 

Rock Band Blitz – Playstation Network
It’s Rock Band without the need for special controllers shaped like musical instruments. I rather like that idea, as Harmonix’s first two games, Frequency and Amplitude, were two rhythm games that I thoroughly enjoyed, and they were out long before the first Rock Band or Guitar Hero. The Xbox Live version releases on August 29. 

The Ratchet and Clank Trilogy – PS3
This collection of the first Ratchet and Clank trilogy (Ratchet and Clank, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, and Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal) has been remastered to support 1080p HD and, if your television is set up for it, 720p stereoscopic 3D. The games were great when they originally released, so I would imagine they’ll be just as great now with updated graphics.

That’s all for August – as we move into the holiday season, we’ll be seeing even more sequels and a tighter release schedule. There are a few titles I’m looking forward to in the next few months, some of which might even have their own features. You’ll have to keep reading to find out! 
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