This week, Death wears a mask and brings an end to the dearth of big videogame releases. Both the world of ‘Darksiders II’ and the underworld of ‘Sleeping Dogs’ come ready to make our home theaters a marvelous spectacle. Even the Wii gets one last chance to shine.
Darksiders II (360, PS3, PC)
The first ‘Darksiders’ told the story of “War.” Many gamers were enamored with its ‘Zelda’-like mechanics, Joe Madd art and bombastic combat. ‘Darksiders II‘ kicks things up a notch with another horseman of the Charred Council, “Death.”
‘Darksiders II’ may be the true modern-day hope for what a sequel can be – a version 2.0 where the developers are able to build upon everything good from the first game with the aid of an established engine, IP and team. That the developer Vigil and publisher THQ have hit dire straits is not the backstory of ‘Darksiders II’. Rather, ‘Darksiders II’ is the gem in THQ’s portfolio of titles and studios. A version for the Wii U has been announced and will likely be released in the next six months.
Sleeping Dogs (360, PS3, PC)
‘Sleeping Dogs‘ has had a turbulent development history, but the game previously known as ‘Black Lotus’ or ‘True Crime: Hong Kong’ looks incredible. Gamers play as undercover police officer Wei Shen on a mission to infiltrate the most powerful Triad organization in Hong Kong. The slick trailers make this open-world, third person sandbox game look like a standout of the genre, but the deep and rather violent martial arts-based combat system is the heart of the gameplay.
The conscious decision to fully develop a PC version speaks well of the agreements between the publisher Square Enix and the developer United Front Games. ‘Sleeping Dogs’ has a shot at becoming a real blockbuster.
The Last Story (Wii)
At long last, ‘The Last Story‘ comes to North America. A year and a half after being released in Japan, and six months after European and Australian releases, the game arrives as a fitting swan song for the Nintendo Wii. That is, if you enjoy Japanese role-playing games, with their signature hyper-emotive story arcs and somewhat effeminate character design, then by all accounts this game is for you.
Developed by Mistwalker Corporation, which is headed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the ‘Final Fantasy’ series and responsible for ‘Blue Dragon’ and ‘Lost Odyssey’, ‘The Last Story’ is not ‘Final Fantasy XIII’. It has gameplay beyond corridors and battle encounters. If, after watching this trailer, you want to play ‘The Last Story’, then you may be looking at your new all-time favorite game.
Dust: An Elysian Tail (XBLA)
Dust and his two companies, a sentient blade and some sort of flying furry, are all that stand between the land and evil. And so it is that ‘Dust: An Elysian Tail’ brings its own brand of side-scrolling action to bear upon the Xbox Live Arcade.
Reportedly the work of one man, Dean Dodrill, the game is styled in an entirely drawn presentation, complete with fluid animation. The combat begins simply and is built on combos. As the game goes on, these combative abilities are leveled into various kinds of magical attacks. Anyone interested in this game should know that it’s an XBLA exclusive title, so don’t wait around to see if it shows up on PC or PS3.
Papo & Yo (PSN)
I wrote about ‘Papo & Yo’ fairly recently, and wondered if the game was actually destined to ever get completed and released. While I can’t yet tell if the finished product is anywhere near as cohesive as it is ambitious, I have to applaud the vision for this game, even if it’s about as subtle as naming a movie ‘Allegory’. The puzzle-platforming looks top notch, and the visuals are impressive and nicely grounded. The graffiti in particular is beyond my critique. With all the makings of a critical darling amid several tough bits of mature subject matter, I hope its gameplay satisfies purchasers of this downloadable title.
The Expendables 2 Videogame (XBLA, PSN, PC)
If its name doesn’t already make it painfully clear, ‘The Expendables 2 Videogame’ is a licensed tie-in game for the upcoming film. I touched upon why games like this have a hard time managing to be decent in a previous post.
Here we have an arcade-y four-player cooperative game based around shooting things, presented in the guise of being an ‘Expendables 2’ prequel. This sounds like a decent formula, but the execution as seen in the PS3 version, which has been out for about two weeks, falls flat. Even in the vehicle sections, the feedback between shooting and hitting a target is painfully inconsistent. Still, I smiled at the imitation Stallone audio cue: “Are you feelin’ it?”