At last, videogame players can enter ‘The Secret World’, or the not-so-secret world of Ferraris. Plus, this week sees one of the worst-named games to ever make it to release.
The Secret World (PC)
‘The Secret World‘ is an ambitious MMO from Funcom. Funcom has been around for some time and was responsible the excellent ‘NBA Hangtime’ back in the ’90s, but is known more recently for the troubled ‘Age of Conan’ MMO. With the release of ‘The Secret World’, Funcom is trying to entice players with a new IP free of any pre-existing license.
Compared with typical MMOs, ‘The Secret World’ is a blend of genres. The core of its universe is set in the modern day, rather than the fantasy and sci-fi settings of most MMOs, but it still contains those elements. The game’s three factions (Illuminati, Templar and Dragon) put players in a world beset by a corruption called “filth.” My impression is that “filth” allows the game to spawn horrors of the gothic, fantastic and modern varieties. Mayan invasions, vampiric crusaders, the CDC and monsters of all shapes and sizes are all at home in ‘The Secret World’. The ambitious genre choice is appealing for me, and I hope that the game brings more than the expected fetch quests and boss battles.
Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends (360, PS3, PC)
Over the years, there have been many excellent Ferraris, ranging from beautiful grand touring cars, super cars, track cars and Formula One cars. That’s what this game is about. ‘Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends’ is an introduction to and celebration of the range of classic Ferraris, with a few duds thrown in for good measure. The track collection looks spectacular as well. The all-around visual meets this console generation’s standards. This being a ‘Test Drive’ title, my concern is that the game may be too “arcade racer” in implementation to truly demonstrate what the cars and tracks should bring to the table.
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (3DS)
Wow, what an unfortunate name! I saw this for sale at Best Buy a week early, and I have to guess that the sales staff was befuddled by the title ‘Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy‘ and just put the game on the shelf. In a misbegotten way, the title reveals that this is a rhythm game full of ‘Final Fantasy’ music. Considering that it features both the very good and the very recent ‘Final Fantasy’ titles, this is a game for hardcore ‘Final Fantasy’ fans. It also seems like a perfect title for iOS devices, and I wonder if Square Enix will release it in that format once sales of this $40 version taper off.
Endless Space (PC)
‘Endless Space’ is a 4X space-based strategy game. As always, the four Xs stand for Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate. (Shouldn’t it be 4E?) As with many 4X titles, ‘Endless Space’ is turn-based. It’s deep, the tech tree is dense, and the planets that make up each randomly generated map have a host of attributes. In fact, each clickable element on-screen hides a sub menu full of attributes. This combination of complexity, turn-based gameplay, and multi-phase, card-based combat is just not how I would choose to pursue 4X total victory, especially considering the recent release of ‘Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion’, a new installment of a real-time space-based 4X.
Many believe that today’s games are too easy, and too fraught with checkpoints, easy modes and walkthroughs. That’s not the case with ‘Spelunky’, which was an independently developed (and free) release for the PC back in 2008. The new Xbox Live Arcade version boasts a new high-resolution art style and multiplayer play.
While the game may appear at first glance to be cutesy, the random levels are packed full with hazards and loot. The careful player will be able to pick up gems, gold, idols, damsels in distress and other bits of loot, for turn-in at the end of each level. The amount of loot turned in becomes the player’s high score once they die, and rest assured that death comes for all players. I know ‘Spelunky’ to be equal parts challenging and rewarding, but I’m interested to see how the multiplayer grows the experience. Racing for loot against your friends could make this difficult game even more deadly.
Dungeon Twister (PSN)
Adapted from the board game of the same name, ‘Dungeon Twister’ drops players into a dungeon that they must escape. Really a competitive two-player game, ‘Dungeon Twister’ features classic fantasy game classes and skills, with which the players need to defeat enemies and make their escape. As the dungeons are comprised of rooms, each room may be twisted during play. The constant reorientation of the rooms gives the game a much-needed mix of randomness and strategic possibilities. Reading about the original board game, which has machinations carried out by a rich, powerful, cruel, vicious and ever-bored wizard, is more compelling than the game’s official trailer. Still, bringing this game off of the tabletop and onto the PS3 with online play is the natural step needed to enable addictive gameplay.