March is a very attractive month. For gamers of all creeds and kinds, there are some big, beautiful releases dropping over the next four weeks - as if March had forgotten itself, and decided to ignore the fact that it's not October - but let's not look a gift month in the mouth. Not when it's bringin' the goods like this.
Naruto Shippuden : Ultimate Ninja Storm 3
Hype-O-Meter : I'd love to try it, but who has the time?
I take pleasure in the Ultimate Ninja Storm games, there's no denying. It's all breezy, simple gameplay and absolutely stunning anime presentation that actually outstrips the source material, for exquisite animations and gorgeous framing.
CyberConnect2 went too far afield with Asura's Wrath last year, but the Ninja Storm games have always been a comfortable, accessible blend of exploration, narrative and eye-scortching action. This one's an easy bet for a good time, even if there are other games that demand my attention. Like, say,
|March 5th - PS3, 360 - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.|
which may be the wrong choice, I'll admit. Naruto is a known quality - Crystal Dynamics, who haven't made a truly great full-release Tomb Raider in years - is not. But the graphics look hot, publisher Square Enix has a ton of confidence in the title, all early reviews have been very positive, and nowadays simply having a woman in the lead role is enough to make it notable.
Plus, Lara's been around for sixteen years - to some degree, we're all pullin' for her to start spearheading great games, again.
Hype-O-Meter : Been a long time, Sim City.
SimCity's PC-only reboot is utterly gorgeous, there's no denying. The only questions are do you have a rig capable of running it and a friend to play it with? 'Cause from the sounds of it, it's not really set up to actually work as a single-player affair.
|March 12th - PS3 - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.|
There's a sense that Ascension won't quite attain the soaring, adventurous heights of earlier titles in the series - perhaps that's simply what happens when you change the creative director with every game - but God of War is a stalwart franchise, if ever there were. We can expect lush production values, comfortable combat mechanics and set pieces that provide entirely reasonable use of the word "epic" - and if that's not worth going in for, I don't know what is.
StarCraft II : Heart of the Swarm
Hype-O-Meter : Huge, for its audience. Nil, for me.
My buddy Scott, at work, won't stop talking about StarCraft II's next expansion. It's the subject of conversation every second time we talk, and it's gotten to the point that the girls around the office have begun requesting that he shut the hell up about it.
Just eight more days, Scott. Just eight more days.
LEGO City Undercover
Hype-O-Meter : D'awww!
This game looks adorable, and - were the Wii U my only game platform - I would totally play it.
But I have a PS3, so... no. No, I'm afraid not. But it's pretty much the only cool thing dropping on the U this month, if you don't count
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Wii U, 3DS
Hype-O-Meter : Meh.
If nothing else, one can say that Nintendo picking up the Monster Hunter franchise all but guaranteed their handheld dominance over Sony, in Japan, at the beginning of the 3DS/Vita era.
North America sees every second or third Monster Hunter release, so the games have remained a special treat on our side of the pond - and hugely addictive for anyone who dips into those heady waters. There but for the grace of God.
Gears of War : Judgment
Hype-O-Meter : Moderate.
Judgment seems to be the Gears of War game we'll get between now and next-gen - a B-side story featuring Baird and company put in front of a tribunal to determine if Delta Squad are a bunch of jerks or not. In classic Epic fashion, you can expect high production values, some creative new riffs on classic multiplayer formulae and rock-solid third-person shooting mechanics - definitely worth a peek.
|March 26th - PS3, 360, PC - Hype-O-Meter : Day One.|
Ken Levine and Irrational Games return to 'Shock following 2K Marin's brilliant and criminally underrated BioShock 2. Expect thoughtful world-building and carefully-constructed narrative, expect gorgeous art direction and finely-honed, original and powerful-feeling first-person shooting.
Expect a likely Game of the Year contender.
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And that's March! Open your wallets, boys - 'cause she's hungry.