The ghost of 2009’s ‘Star Trek’ returns this week in game form with phasers set to maximum Pine & Quinto. Plus, sequels to games with significant fan bases pack the week with a great set of spring gaming options including Brock Sampson and Ash.
Star Trek (360, PS3, PC)
First things first. ‘Star Trek‘ is a video game set between 2009’s ‘Star Trek’ and the upcoming ‘Star Trek Into Darkness.’ The 2009 movie jettisoned any lofty sense of science fiction for action scenes, painfully obvious references, and a cop-out ‘parallel universe’ story reboot. But hey, Sulu knows how to fence, so it’s all good.
The game checks some of the boxes of the typical troubled licensed game checklist. Specifically, the voice acting of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Co. are front and center of the action heavy game design. Players can expect frequent cover-based shooting segments in addition to skydiving sub sequences, and drive the Enterprise like a jet fighter space combat sequences. In keeping with the transparent ‘nod to the series’ touches that infused the movie, the game features the Gorn of Kirk vs. Gorn in the ‘Arena’ fame. The visual design of the game seems to follow the sleek look of the ‘Mass Effect’ series and those similarities carry over to some of the gameplay elements and story themes. Still, fans looking for more of what currently passes as ‘Star Trek’ should enjoy the game just as long as they temper their expectations.
Dead Island Riptide (360, PS3, PC)
‘Dead Island’ essentially came out of nowhere and scored big. As rough as the game was, the co-operative zombie-killing and loot-upgrading tropical paradise gone wrong nailed a vibe in a way that similar games have not matched. ‘Borderlands’ is prettier and way more polished, but I would rather play ‘Dead Island.’ ‘Dead Island Riptide‘ aims to capitalize on that success. While the game’s story is a direct sequel, which shipwrecks the four lead characters onto a new zombie filled island, the game is so similar that a save file can be imported and continued on at the same character and monster levels. The game does have one new playable character, new zombie types, and ‘Dead Zones,’ but are players really anxious for a semi-sequel?
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen (360, PS3)
‘Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen‘ is expansion to last year’s oddly popular ‘Dragon’s Dogma.’ The retail release includes both the base game and the expansion. ‘Dark Arisen’ takes the player, save file and all, to a new island of content designed to challenge the hardcore ‘Dragon’s Dogma’ enthusiast. Frankly, I have tried to play the original game a number of times, but as a third-person fantasy Japanese/western RPG hybrid, it invites endless and unfavorable comparisons to ‘Demon’s Souls’ and ‘Dark Souls.’ Nevertheless, many players get so into the collecting pawns (in-battle allies) and hunting down monsters, that a 200 hour save file is not unusual. ‘Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen’ is valued priced, so I expect that many will become addicted to a game that I have not yet been able to enjoy.
LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins (3DS)
Close to a month after the Wii U ‘LEGO City Undercover’ hit the streets, and its handheld prequel counterpart is ready for the 3DS. Even as prequel, the story for ‘LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins‘ has a certain freedom from the console title, but the gameplay, and the highlighted portions of the city are similar. As bad as the load times are on the console, the handheld title might be even worse for that flaw. Load screens fill the city and keep it from being a seamless experience. The visuals are something of an eyesore as well, but that is to be expected for handheld versions of LEGO titles. Those who enjoy ‘LEGO’ games, playing the 3DS, and collecting things in-game will love still love this game, while others might want to wait for a future iteration.
Poker Night 2 (XBLA, PSN, PC, Mac)
Telltale Games, flush from the success of ‘The Walking Dead, is bringing together ‘Evil Dead,’ ‘The Venture Bros.,’ ‘Portal,’ and ‘Borderlands’ Characters for ‘Poker Night 2.’ If you can stand poker at all, what else would you need to know? The game is $4.99 on Steam and comes with a free copy of the first ‘Poker Night.’ Plus, playing you yields unlocks ‘Borderlands 2′ and ‘Team Fortress 2.’
Don’t Starve (PC, Mac)
‘Don’t Starve’ arrives this week in the ever growing survival genre. Beyond the game’s nice little art style is its concept of sanity. Surviving in the gothic frontier is tough, so tough that Wilson, the player character, can become so frazzled that his sanity bar drains and he begins to imagine monsters with very real consequences. Such insanity can only yield some primo items, leaving players with a game of risking santiy.