Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Games of February 2012.

February is looking absolutely gorgeous - particularly when compared to the gaming wasteland of January. We've got FPSs, we've got RPGs (action and strategy), we've got platformers, we've got stealth, we've got three gorgeous, 2-D sprite-based games!  And one 2-D sprite-based game from like, twenty years ago!

Eeee!  February is a blessed month indeed.

February 7th
The Simpsons Arcade Game
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter : Day one.

Fourteen quarters - that's how much it cost me to beat The Simpsons Arcade Game back in 1991.  I was immensely proud of this, and attempted to tell the tale while over at my friend's house for dinner.  His mother, whom I loathed, promptly cut me off, explained that no one else cared about video games, and went back to talking about whatever it is adults talked about shortly after the eighties.

I didn't care - I loved that game.  I went so far as to investigate how much, precisely, it would cost to obtain the arcade cabinet for it (too much, it turns out).  News that I will be able to play this most cherished of childhood titles on my slick-ass grown-up plasma TV?  That tastes far better than your vegetarian cream-sauce rice-instead-of-noodles "lasagna", Reed's Mom!

February 7th
The Darkness II
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : Wait for reviews.

The Darkness was a slow-burn cult hit at the dawn of the current gen, significantly assisted by Starbreeze Studios' surprisingly powerful storytelling and a very creative riff on The Hell Level.  The Darkness II, from Digital Extremes (Homefront, Dark Sector) is - as far as I'm concerned - starting from square one, in terms of goodwill.  The demo was merely okay, the presentation is not-bad, the gameplay was acceptable.

If I end up hearing (from someone I trust) that it's amazing, I'll take a second look at The Darkness II - but not before.

February 7th
Shank 2
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter : Day one.

Shank was best-described, I feel, as a "Brock Sampson simulator set in a Robert Rodrigues movie."  If you understand both of those references, you have an inkling of just how special the first game was.  It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was still my favorite downloadable game of 2010 - and a Shank with rejiggered combat mechanics and deeper systems smells like ambrosia to me.

February 7th
Kingdoms of Amalur : Reckoning
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : Wait, what is this game?

This game flew completely under my radar until the (apparently very buggy) demo dropped, and people started freaking out about it.  I can tell you nothing about the title, save for that fact - and that it has quite a few interesting names attached.  The Executive Director was the Lead Designer on Elder Scrolls III and IV, the story is written by Forgotten Realms scribe R.A. Salvatore and the character design was seemingly helped along by Todd McFarlane (Spawn).

It seems to be an open-world-ish third-person RPG-brawler with an emphasis on lovely combat animations and brutal finishers.

This, my friends, could be this years' Darksiders.  Keep an eye on it.

February 14th
Twisted Metal
Hype-O-Meter : Oh Jaffe, we love you.

I do love Dave Jaffe, the man, the personality, the guy who came up with the first God of War - but I never got into the Twisted Metal car combat games.  They're games I always wanted to like, but I remember not thinking much of the five minutes I spent with one of the games back on the PS1.

There is a demo up on PSN... perhaps that bears looking into.

February 21st
Grand Knights History
Hype-O-Meter : Day one, if it actually releases.

I say "if it actually releases," because - while a few gaming sites are citing February 21st as its release date - localizing publisher Xseed hasn't said shit.  We learned last September that Xseed would be localizing Vanillaware's latest gorgeous, hand-drawn effort - a fantastic-looking turn-based RPG - and that was the last we heard of it.

If you search for Grand Knights History at Best Buy, HMV, EB Games or even GameStop, none of them will have it listed.  The only place the game is listed is, which reminds me - I should order it.

....annnd ordered.  The fact that nowhere else has it listed and we haven't heard a peep from Xseed since last September regarding the title gives me pause.  There are rumors that the title is exclusive to Amazon, and exclusive to the U.S. Amazon, at that - so perhaps this all makes perfect sense, and Xseed haven't done any interviews or pushed it on any media sites because they suck at publicity.

Here's hopin'!

February 21st
Asura's Wrath
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter : Must... wait... 'till it comes... down in price!

I'll be honest, I want Asura's Wrath.  I enjoy CyberConnect2's Ultimate Ninja Storm games - but only because they're so damned good-looking when the fur starts to fly, and when it comes down to quicktime events.

Asura's Wrath seems to follow their formula, with an emphasis on what they do best - gorgeous art direction, animation, and incredibly well-framed, cinematic ultra-action.  In terms of depth?  In terms of gameplay?  Eh.  I expect Asura's Wrath will follow the Naruto trend and be a game that is neither great nor bad, but definitely worth seeing.

February 21st
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : This one has potential...

Nobody took it well when it was revealed that Escape From Butcher Bay and The Darkness's well-respected developer Starbreeze Studios was turning strategy classic Syndicate into a first-person shooter.  It seemed an obvious cash-in, and a gorgeous but somewhat dystopian future seemed a tired world to explore after 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution. 

A lot of that changed, lately, when folks were about to go hands-on with the (punishingly hard) demo, which showcased that Syndicate is still very much a strategy game at its core, which requires more than the ability to put a cursor on your target's head.

Syndicate, suddenly, seems promising.

February 22nd

PlayStation Vita

Sony's successor to the very-successful-in-Japan-and-nowhere-else PlayStation Portable is a piece of gaming kit that seems rather designed for yours truly.  A portable way to play console-quality games is exactly what I want - and while it's really no competition for the iPod or your cell phone in terms of low-entry-bar gaming, it's not really trying to be.

With a start-up price that exceeds all current dedicated gaming platforms, the Vita has a steep road ahead.  Without a price cut before Christmas, it may cement Sony's spot as a second banana in the handheld market - but in the meantime, there are some very, very good-looking games on the horizon - and I plan to be in on the ground floor, with this one.

Honestly.  This will be the first time I have ever purchased a gaming platform at launch.  Wish me luck.

Along with the Vita comes a suite of lovely-looking titles...

February 22nd
Uncharted : Golden Abyss
Hype-O-Meter : Day one.

Developed by Sony Bend - the folks behind the Syphon Filter games - Golden Abyss is Sony's attempt to launch their handheld with a must-own title for the core crowd.  It's no Mario, that's for sure - and reviews have generally suggested that yeah, it's pretty good.

Personally, I have little faith in Golden Abyss - but I want to believe - so I'll day-one it.

February 22nd
Rayman Origins
Hype-O-Meter : Sweet!

One of the best 2D platformers of the current gen, in the palm of your hand?

Oh, yes please.  I don't even care that it's a 3DS-style re-release.  If they're all like this? Bring it on.  Next, do the first inFamous!

February 22nd
Shinobido 2 : Revenge of Zen
Hype-O-Meter : If reviews tell me it's 7/10...

...I'll almost definitely buy it.  A feudal-era ninja simulator from the folks behind Tenchu.  Heck, I'm sold.

Honestly, Shinobido 2 had me in its pocket as soon as I mistook it for a Tenchu title in the Vita's E3 2011 sizzle reel.

And others...

Little Deviants, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Army Corps of Hell, WipEout 2048, Dynasty Warriors Next, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus

But wait!  February's not done yet!

February 28th
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter : Day one.

SSX has long been a favorite franchise, ever since my older brother and I bonded over absolutely mastering SSX Tricky on the PS2.

Honestly - ever since the PS3 launched, he and I have been talking about how much we want an HD SSX.  Well, here it is!  Just twenty seven more sleeps until I can jazz my way down a mountain to kickin' beats while doing stunts that physics could not possibly allow!

This is one of my most anticipated games of the year.

February 28th
Binary Domain
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter : You'll have no faith from me, Sega!

Going on trailers, Binary Domain actually looks pretty cool!   Part of me feels we should be more open to this game - just as I feel we should be more open to new IPs in general - but Sega has very, very little credit with me.

I'd love the game that trailer is attempting to present - I'm not just sure Binary Domain is actually that game.  I don't believe it will be that cool - but I want to.  I'll definitely be reading reviews of this one.

* * *

And that's February!  What a month.  It's going to kill me.

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