This week in videogame releases, pandas break free, there’s so much soccer (or “football,” depending on where you live) that it’s impossible to see it all, and scantily-clad women fight to determine the difference between life and death.
FIFA Soccer 13 (360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PSVita, PSP, PC)
The latest iteration for the most popular adaptation of the world’s most beloved sport arrives with a bevy of small changes, and maybe a few notable ones as well. While dribbling has been enhanced to feature more moves in a 360-degree space, and the computer’s AI has been adjusted to determine whether the player is mounting a serious scoring push or not, ‘FIFA 13‘ has a much more fundamental change that will affect both veteran and new players.
In the past, accepting a pass was a magnetic animation, very digital and a far cry from the way that soccer is actually played. With the new First Touch control, passing becomes more organic and requires a lighter touch on both ends. EA is pushing the “Ultimate Team” more than ever, and the 360 version will support Kinnect for changing defensive or offensive tactics, making substitutions, or even eliciting a yellow/red card.
As much as I like the ‘FIFA’ series, I always get schooled when playing against someone from a country where soccer is called football. Each new wrinkle in the control options makes the soccer gap worse for me. Still, I enjoy seeing the title on so many platforms. The Wii U version is due out in December, but the U.S. won’t see a PS2 version.
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC, Mac)
They’re pandas. They come from Pandaria. Normally, you might not think of pandas as fearsome warriors, but these pandas are ‘World of Warcraft’ martial arts masters. Evidently, a piece of concept art long ago promised that ‘WoW’ would have fighting pandas, and apparently the wishes of millions of ‘WoW’ players can come true.
‘World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria‘ will raise the level cap from 85 to 90, and introduce the new monk class and the new race called the Pandaren. Naturally, Pandaria is the new area for the expansion. Obviously, this joke-made-feature set drains all of the good humor from my soul, so anyone wishing to elaborate on this new expansion in the Comments is more than welcome.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 (360, PS3)
Unlike most major sports titles, ‘FIFA 13′ has some well-accredited competition in Konami’s ‘Pro Evolution Soccer 2013‘. Honestly, all that I can say about this game is that the buzz for it claims that this year’s version is a standout. At a certain level, simulation titles compete on feel alone – on the feedback the player receives and is able to act upon. Even on feel, however, some players are drawn towards realism and other towards a competitive edge. Expect Wii and 3DS versions before the end of the year.
Dead or Alive 5 (360, PS3)
When Tecmo and Team Ninja shifted their focus to the first Xbox with ‘Dead or Alive 3’ and ‘Ninja Gaiden’, they scored both huge sales and an instant fan base. Fast forward, and ‘Dead or Alive 5’ is the first game in the series produced without the direction of Team Ninja’s rock star-like founder, Tomonobu Itagaki. It may dictate the future viability of the series.
Important aims for the production included a new visual style for the characters (less anime-like), an accessibility to attract new players while retaining the ‘DOA’ core familiarity, the incorporation of select characters from the ‘Virtua Fighter’ series, and a new level of stage interaction. This last aspect is the most compelling for me. The idea is that players can learn the hazards of the dynamic stages and use them against their opponents.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes (360, PS3, PC)
Built from the ground up to be a console experience, ‘The Testament of Sherlock Holmes’ follows a long line of PC adventure games set in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional world. In contrast to most Sherlock Holmes adaptations, this game is focused on the character Sherlock, as opposed to the villains. Watson even begins to question the innocence of the accused Holmes.
This kind of adventure game, where the player explores the world in search of clues, is a more contemplative experience than most other games. Having suffered some development delays over the last two years, the extra time seems to have benefitted the game. Since I’m not a Holmes expert, I can enjoy the game without worrying about what is or isn’t canon.
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (XBLA, PSN)
‘Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit’ is a platformer where the world is opened to exploration similar to various ‘Metroid’ and ‘Castlevania’ titles. It’s also a game that emphasizes brutality in a way that only a paparazzi-hunting, razor-blade-riding rabbit filled with spirit of vengeance can. It comes out on Steam next week.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins (XBLA, PSN)
I’m not sure whether a secret groundswell of demand exists, or if Capcom is just operating under the “re- release a classic based on a dart’s whim” strategy. Either way, ‘Marvel Super Heroes’ and the first ‘Marvel vs. Capcom’ are back in HD in the form of ‘Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins’. I revisited ‘Marvel Super Heroes’ a few years ago, and thought that it should stay buried in our memories. On the other hand, I still fondly remember ‘Children of the Atom’, so maybe that will be made available next, and then subsequently not be as good as remembered.