For the second straight week, Megatron stalks the videogame world. The difference in that that this week’s Megatron is a Detroit Lion who may or may not be cursed for the season. We also get a sequel to one of the better MMOs, a peripheral-manufacturer’s stab at making a game, and a handful of other titles of interest.
Madden NFL 13 (360, PS3, Wii, PSVita)
‘Madden NFL 13‘ arrives just before the real football season begins. The game boasts a new physics system, synthetic Twitter feeds, passing arcs, receiver awareness, and the new “Connected Careers” mode. While many will complain that the game should be rebuilt from scratch every year, the new physics system is a big deal and a big improvement.
The availability of a streamlined play-calling system wherein the computer recommends which play to run seems like a concession to the casual fan, and it allowed me to trounce the 49ers without much effort. But really, ‘Madden’ is for hardcore players. We’re talking about players who will be in the “Connected Careers” mode for twenty seasons trying to accumulate more passing yards than Brett Favre, or will be online trying to get the player card packs needed to dominate.
Side rant: EA produced approximately 5,000 annoying ‘Madden NFL 13’ videos with Mark Schlereth, Trey Wingo, Ray Lewis, Paul Rudd and several other awkward people, but neglected to make a single decent concise trailer. That is ‘Madden’ to me: quantity over quality. Rant over.
Guild Wars 2 (PC)
These days, aside from ‘World of Warcraft’, we’re witnessing the death throes of the subscription-based MMO. Fortunately, the first ‘Guild Wars’ was remarkable for not charging a monthly fee in the first place. For ‘Guild Wars 2‘, the developer AreaNet has made the attractive move of having a persistent world. Hopefully, this will remove the unsatisfying disconnect often caused by completing quests whose results are immediately reset. A number of other decisions, like incorporation the Havok physics system, make ‘Guild Wars 2’ seem more like the kind of polished experience that a normal AAA game hopes to deliver. Personally, this kind of fantasy setting, stuffed to the brim with lore and MMO combat, isn’t what I’m looking for right now. But if it were, I’d give this one a shot.
Damage, Inc. – Pacific Squadron WWII (360, PS3, PC)
Mad Catz is a company that makes peripherals. In order to sell a new flight stick, the company decided that it would go ahead and develop a game to sell with it. That game is ‘Damage, Inc. – Pacific Squadron WWII‘.
The game leaves a rough impression. As I sifted through old Nintendo Power stuff, I came across an SNES game called ‘Wings 2: Aces High’. That was an awesome game, and I enjoyed ‘Super Strike Eagle’ for the SNES as well. ‘Damage, Inc’. makes me wish that I could recapture the fun of those old games, but it looks more like a title that was made in order to sell a peripheral.
Rock Band Blitz (XBLA, PSN, PC)
‘Rock Band Blitz’ takes the Harmonix series back to its roots, such as the BAFTA award-winning ‘Frequency’. ‘Blitz’ has no band peripherals, and puts its focus back on single-player. The player moves from track to track to activate notes, and can even find power-ups. The big problem with ‘Frequency’ and ‘Amplitude’ was being stuck with the songs that shipped with those games. ‘Rock Band Blitz’ come with twenty songs, but is cross-compatible with ‘Rock Band 3’ songs.
They Bleed Pixels (PC)
Take one part pixel-art style, another part action-heavy platformer, then wrap them up in an independent game starring a troubled young lady who goes demonic, and you have ‘They Bleed Pixels’. This game was planned for XBLA, and may still make it there in the future. The name alone suggests that this game knows what’s fun. I also really like the themed guest levels such as ‘They Bleed Ponycorns’ and ‘Ninjas Bleed Techno Dance Party’.
Journey: Collector’s Edition (PS3)
‘Journey’ quickly became the fastest selling PSN game in the West when it was released last March. ‘Journey: Collector’s Edition‘ brings all three of thatgamecompany’s titles (‘flOw’, ‘Flower’ and ‘Journey’) together on one disc, along with a nice set of special features. The extras include downloads of the soundtracks, PSN avatars and PS3 themes. Also included are developer commentaries for all three games. These titles share the characteristic of being less game-like than conventional games, and emphasize the experience and subtle narrative elements over challenging, antagonistic gameplay.
It’s also worth noting that ‘The Walking Dead, Episode 3: The Long Road Ahead’ has been teased as possibly graduating from certification in time for release this week, which sounds a lot like it’ll actually be next week. The first two episodes were excellent, and it will be hard to top the second. If you have access to a PS3, 360, PC or an iPad/iPhone, you should give the series a shot.
Finally, ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD‘ arrives on PSN this week. Coming just six weeks after the XBLA release, the PSN version probably doesn’t address the negative feedback that the 360 version has garnered. On the flip side, it looks like DLC that includes levels from ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3’ will be available in the future.