Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Games of May 2012.

May is a fine and healthy month of game releases, headlined by two very heavy hitters.  Let's get right to it.

May 1st
Hype-O-Meter : innnteresting...

Last night, I put an hour into The Witcher 2, and sighed.  Then I remembered that one of the free PlayStation+ games was one that looked vaguely interesting for some reason - mostly because its trailer showcased the game's 90s tie-in cartoon style.  As it turns out... Awesomenauts is a 2-D platforming sprite-based multiplayer online battle arena game - a simplified and streamlined riff on Defense of the Ancients.

I downloaded it, and decided to spend ten minutes with its tutorials.

A hundred or so minutes later, I can't say I plan on going back to The Witcher 2 in the near future. I want to play more Awesomenauts.

May 8th
Hype-O-Meter : for fans?  Day one.  For me?  Meh.

LightBox Interactive and Sony Santa Monica team up for Starhawk, spiritual successor to the popular cult-hit online actioner Warhawk.

If you adopted the current gen late, you likely never heard of Warhawk.  It was a launch-window title for the PS3, celebrating the platform's free online and Bluetooth features (it came with a little Bluetooth ear piece).  As the only serious online game in town at the time - which offered a ton of freedom in how you fight - it became an early hit for the system, garnering a legion of loyal fans.

Well kids, 'hawk is back - and to be honest, it still looks pretty fugly.

May 15th
Hype-O-Meter : I'd kill for a gaming PC right now.


The big daddy of loot-crazy action RPGs is back, and it looks gorgeous.  What else is there to say?

One could say Blizzard is going to make a killing off the game's auction system, which uses real money - but who cares?  Diablo III lands on the fifteenth, and no one's looking at the rough on this diamond.

May 15th
Game of Thrones
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter: Pffft I don't think so.

Atlus logo aside, I can't view this as anything but an opportunistic cash-in on a trendy property with a very low chance of there actually being a quality title under all that marketing.

Could be wrong.  Doubt it.

May 15th
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : Day One.

Max Payne is no longer in the hands of developer Remedy, who've moved on to Alan Wake.  That's the only thing that gives me pause - and given the obscenely ham-handed writing that plagues, well, all of Remedy's games - it may not be an entirely bad thing.

Dev diaries detailing the mechanics and gameplay have gone a very long way to assuaging my fears that (Bully) developer Rockstar Vancouver isn't up to the task.  With help from a handful of other Rockstar studios worldwide, the blazing eye of Sauron upon it and a deluge of promotion the likes of which we've not seen from Take-Two since Red Dead Redemption, I've come to believe that Max Payne 3 may actually be the game I want it to be.

As someone who put a rather unhealthy amount of time into Payne 2, I feel 3 has some big shoes to fill, but let's face it - Rockstar hasn't led us astray lately.  My only fear is that I've never seen a RAGE engine game operating at 720p on the PS3.

May 22
Dragon's Dogma
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter : This is May's dark horse.

While, yes, it is Capcom's bald-faced attempt to capitalize on the success of fantasy titles with western sensibilities like Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, The Witcher 2 and The Elder Scrolls, I find my cynicism is being corroded by a steady stream of honest hype from gaming media folks who've gone hands-on with it.

The title features a huge open world, standard dungeons to explore, an interesting 'peon system' which sees you collaborating with semi-controllable AI team mates and massive, awesome-looking fights against gigantic creatures of myth.

That, alone, sounds like an awesome game, but gameplay videos have done little to stir me.  In trailers, the combat appears inconsequential and wiffy - but I downloaded the demo last night when I snagged Awesomenauts, and I'm curious how long I can resist its plaintive call.

Dragon's Dogma is certainly worth keeping an eye on, and investigating.

May 22
Hype-O-Meter : Too little, too late.

Sorcery has long been the game that would prove Sony's Move controller can be used for more than shooters and made-for-kids mini-game collections.

Seriously.  We've been waiting since E3 2010 - when Sony first unveiled the Move - for this thing to drop, and legitimize their Mii-Too controller.

Y'know what, Sony?  Too late.  Don't care any more.  The Move is dead, no one cares, and unless this game gets a buttload of 9s I refuse to feel the slightest vibration of interest in it.  Even then, I doubt I'll be getting a Move.

May 22
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Hype-O-Meter : What have you done to Silent Hill!?

I wrote about this game when it was supposed to drop two months ago, and I refuse to commit any additional thought to it:
"Okay, so it's called Silent Hill but you create your own character and guide them through what appears to be a multiplayer co-op top-down shooter. 
Way to disappoint on general principle, Konami. I'll be thrilled and amazed if this thing gets any better than mediocre reviews."

May 29
Resistance: Burning Skies
Hype-O-Meter : I... do want a good FPS on my Vita...

...but I'm not sure this is it.  All the trailers they've shown off lately showcase a framerate that's just this side of egregious.

Burning Skies is fortunate that I've always had a soft spot for the Resistance franchise - and that no other games will be demanding my time until Lollipop Chainsaw on June 12th.  If early reviews aren't awful, I may just snap this one up.

May 29
Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter : Is Catwoman's content on the disc?

That's really my only question about this.  In an almost singular display of gamer entitlement, Catwoman's content being relegated to day-one on-the-disc DLC was my biggest complaint about Arkham City.

Having already put about a hundred hours into the game, I won't be day-oneing B:AC GOTY Ed - but if I see a sealed copy down the line for thirty bucks?  Sure.  Maybe.

* * *

And that's May!  Not a bad-looking month by any standards.  God I can't wait for Max Payne 3.