Even with January in the rear view, we must still recognize the dead space ahead of us in February. This week’s videogame releases are headlined by EA’s newest legitimate franchise, plus a few lesser entities.
Dead Space 3 (360, PS3, PC)
If there’s one lesson to take away from the ‘Dead Space’ series, it’s that at the exact moment that mankind pulls together and manages the ability to move around outer space, an ancient corrupting (and perhaps internal) evil will tear us apart. The brutal, bloody and dark conflict will of course inflame our most petty and emotionally unstable tendencies. In a conflict between artifacts and expansive human curiosity, the evil culprit is always another human.
‘Dead Space 3‘ pits Isaac Clark (again) and co-op dopple John Carver against the hive-controlled Necromorphs. This time, the game’s excellent art design is best served cold amid the frigid setting. EA has managed to spin straw into gold with its take on the action-horror genre, leaving one thing certain: There will be another ‘Dead Space’.
Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 (PSN, 360, eShop)
‘Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2‘ only asks one question: “Do you enjoy either ‘Fist of the North Star’ or ‘God Hand’/’Dynasty Warriors’?” If you answer yes, then download (or in the case of the 360, grab a physical copy) immediately.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3, PS Vita)
It’s really hard for me not to label games in the ‘Sly Cooper’ series as “for kids,” but the reality is that they maintain a balance of good gameplay and animated antics. Making a good 3D platformer is an unforgiving challenge, but past ‘Sly Cooper’ titles have delivered. ‘Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time‘ seems like a bounce-back entry after ‘Sly 3′. The game’s best feature has to be its cross-play compatibility, something unthought-of in the series’ PS2 heyday.
Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
Outside of ‘Super Smash Bros.’, I’ve stayed away from the ‘Fire Emblem’ series since the GameCube era. The series has an appeal that’s much greater when the games are exclusive to Japan. Nevertheless, with ‘Fire Emblem: Awakening‘, the time may have come to jump back in with both feet. The game was released last spring in Japan and continues to be a big seller there. 3DS fans who can take some melodrama while deciding tactics can easily drop 60-100 hours before coming up for air.
Special Forces: Team X (XBLA, PC)
Oh, the third-person, cover-based shooter. Zombie Studios typically makes shooters such as the free-to-play ‘Blacklight: Retribution’. ‘Special Forces: Team X’ appears to be a cover-based shooter that, aside from its cell-shaded art style, looks like it would be right at home as a title released in 2007. The most promising aspect is the large amount of map iteration available in the game through the use of map tiles. Otherwise, for any but the most hardcore shooter enthusiasts, I recommend playing the XBLA demo before purchasing the value-priced title.