[Ugh, I’ve been gone far too long, I have a reason, which I’ll fully explain at the end of this post, but rest assured it was not just laziness. Anyway, on with the post]
2012 so far looks like a wonderful year for games doesn’t it? We’ve had the third game in the revered Mass Effect series, (even if I personally dislike it, it’s still notable) the first game directed by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi since FFV 20 (!) years ago, a return to form for Resident Evil, among other incredibly cool stuff I don’t want to mention here to avoid being long winded. So here I am presenting a look ahead into the very, very near future. The 23rd of March looks surprisingly awesome with a bunch of releases that I’m extremely excited for. (Hell, I wouldn’t write this if I wasn’t excited) So join as I take a look at the game releases of next week Friday, as stupid as that sounds.
Armored Core V
Armored Core is a series that still manages to surprise me with how reliably entertaining it’s been throughout its history. Though a normal person would think that this is the 5th entry in the series, you’d be wrong, it’s actually the 14th, and somehow, it still gets released outside of Japan, despite it being incredibly unwelcoming to newcomers via its rather obtuse mechanics.
Yet, here we are, the 5th numbered title, and it looks like it shakes up the formula quite a bit. For starters, the mechs here are much smaller than in previous entries, supposedly the change brings with it a greater emphasis on stealth and squad tactics, which I love the sound of. Speaking of squad tactics, the multiplayer seems like it’ll be pretty awesome, as each action a player takes, both on and offline, contributes to a greater war at play between all of the game’s players, split up into factions chosen right at the beginning of the game. Offline games will contribute territory and funding to your chosen faction, aiding the grander online war effort. It’s not just this that sounds cool though, the 5 vs 5 matches assign one player in each team the role of commander, who gives the other players orders to follow and objectives to accomplish, placing a huge amount of emphasis on cooperation.
Silent Hill HD Collection
There’s really not much to say on this one. Like the Metal Gear solid HD Collection before it, this bundles previous releases from a renowned Konami franchise and spruces them up with a little bit of HD polish. It’s a bit of a shame to see the first game (Sort of understandably left out due to the aged graphics) and Silent Hill 4: The Room, ignored for this package (I enjoyed it, even if most fans didn’t, and it would only add value to this collection) but the two games you get here are horror classics, SH2 in particular is known to be one of the scariest games of all time (which I frequently mentioned when talking about the currently airing dud, Another) and should be played by all who even remotely enjoy horror. Highly recommended.
Ninja Gaiden 3
Team Ninja may have lost key player Tomonobu Itagaki a while ago, (He’s still making Devil’s Third at his new studio, Valhalla Games) but as they proved with Dead or Alive Dimensions a few months back, they still have a good amount of talent. This game seems to be trying to appeal to a broader audience than previous entries, with a simpler combat system and slightly toned down difficulty. The way I see it this could go either way, it could lead to a dumbing-down of the franchise as a whole and loses the respect of series fans, or it could achieve a good balance of hardcore and approachable, appealing to both demographics at the same time. It should be fun nonetheless, and will still be outrageously violent (if a bit less so than previous games), if that was a large part of the series’ appeal for you, so no worries there.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
I’ve been avoiding talking about this game for a while now for a few reasons. 1: It’s riding hot on the heels of both the excellent Resident Evil Revelations, as well as the massive announcement of Resident Evil 6, shoehorning this entry into an awkward stopgap between major releases. And 2: It’s being developed by Slant Six games, who’ve only previously worked on some Socom games I’ve never played and only received middling reviews.
It’s a pity then, that this has some ideas I really love. Set at the same time as my second favourite game in the series, Resident Evil 2, you take control of Umbrella operatives tasked with killing survivors of the T-Virus outbreak in Raccoon City. Apparently the game allows you to break canon, and kill major series protagonist Leon Kennedy. Where the game stumbles is in the gameplay, it’s a squad based third person shooter (which isn’t inherently bad, I mentioned earlier that I rather enjoy squad based gameplay at times) where the gameplay pretty much amounts to “kill zombies and survivors, bonus experience if you’re crafty”, and the game seems to place focus squarely on co-op, which could be really fun, but it does lead me to wonder if they’re just sidelining single player. I really hope this isn’t the case, I played it a few months back at an expo and it was a bit better than I previously thought, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that this’ll just end up as a really mediocre product overall
Kid Icarus: Uprising
The game I’m most excited for out of this batch, Kid Icarus looks truly fantastic. Created by Masahiro Sakurai of Kirby and Smash Bros. fame, this seems to take the Kid Icarus franchise and just run with it, leading to some wonderful ideas. The game plays as both a mixture of on-rails aerial combat and ground-based third person shooting. The gameplay is very solid based on what I played at the same expo I tried Raccoon City at, but where it gets truly great is in the weapons system.
As you play the game, you’ll pick up new weapons and other loot, weapons fall into a multitude of melee and long range weapons and they’re all customisable to a certain extent. Players can bet hearts (the game’s currency) in order to increase a level’s difficulty, but also increase the value of loot found within that level, leading to an interesting risk/reward system that should greatly enhance replay value.
On top of this there’s a fun looking Smash Bros. inspired multiplayer mode, and collectible AR card that contribute both towards the main game, and various extras. As this trailer shows, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, and just looks focused on delivering fun in spades. If Famitsu’s perfect review score is anything to go by (I know they’ve been giving these out a lot recently, but they’ve never given one to a bad game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii being the exception) it doesn’t look like it’ll disappoint.
So there you have it, 5 games that all look good (well, 4 that look good and one that looks mediocre) all releasing on the same day! (Well, not if you live outside of the US, where they’re all still pretty closely packed together) Be still, my wallet, it looks like you’ll be empty for a while now.
[I know explaining my long absence is unnecessary, but I feel that I’m obligated to do so, here goes: So after my last post, something bad happened to a friend of mine that delayed me by about a week. After that, work piled on at school and at home (I’m in my final year) and I’ve been getting maybe 5 hours of sleep a night if I’m lucky. Then, right when things settled down last Friday, and I was just ready to start blogging again, the LCD on my laptop broke, leaving me with a screen that looked more like a piece of modern art than anything else. These factors, coupled with a rather lacklustre anime season, lead to my absence, but I should be back in full capacity for a long while now. Sorry about all that.]