Videogame Releases: Week of June 9th, 2013

With E3 in full swing, gamers are lucky to get even one new videogame title this week. It’s pretty surprising, therefore, that a top shelf game would get the chance to breathe now, rather than waiting until the jam-packed holiday season.

The Last of Us (PS3)

The Last of Us‘ has been one the most anticipated console titles for well over a year. The developer (Sony-owned Naughty Dog) managed with its ‘Uncharted’ franchise to create a better version of the ‘Indiana Jones’/’Tomb Raider’ story than has been seen in movies for some twenty years. In the process of this, Naughty Dog provided the PS3 with a system-seller that stands far above its ‘Resistance’ and ‘Killzone’ contemporaries.

That said, even fans of ‘Unchartered’ have been looking for something different. With the ‘The Last of Us’, the developer has tapped into a brutal and realistic post-apocalyptic world. The game’s two leads, Joel and Ellie, have effectively taunted gamers to fall into their desperate struggle. The game’s fungi-affected, ex-human monsters and crazed end-of-world hooligans may not be revolutionary, but they are sophisticated by the standards of the top works in the genre.

Still, many see the depressing, cover-based shooter as a downer, one whose pathetic world looks especially silly in the game’s mandated multiplayer mode. Even so, love it or hate it, PS3 owners should check out ‘The Last of Us’.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

Long ago, it feels like a thousand years back, ‘Animal Crossing’ was on the cutting edge of tasked-based social simulators. We’re talking the era of the Nintendo 64. When the game hit stateside on the GameCube, the quirky furniture-collecting, letter-sending, bug-collecting town full of zany animals whipped up a torrent of fans of all ages. Though the game has never mesmerized me the way it mesmerized some others, the GameCube title had some fun features like built-in NES games and a GBA link island.

By now, the world is packed full of games like ‘The Sims’ and the various ZyngaVilles. ‘Animal Crossing: New Leaf‘ barely graduates players from attempting to borrow enough money to improve their house, to something more akin to being a philanthropist Mayor. That, and the game has Friend Codes. Fortunately, visiting a friend’s town can now occur while they’re offline. In its fourth iteration, ‘Animal Crossing’ should once again please its progress-quest fans, but if you’ve played the series before and it didn’t take, this one won’t likely change your mind.

State of Decay (XBLA)

‘State of Decay’ was released last week, and the resulting game is worlds better than many expected. On the one hand, it’s just another zombie survival game that’s cheap for a retail title but at the high end for XBLA. The game works well enough that it can be really fun to get into rescuing survivors and ensuring that your group keeps its spirits up and stays safe. It gives you the freedom to choose how to stay ahead of the zombies. As one character wears out and players are forced to look for another to switch into in order to continue, the addictive nature of the gameplay becomes clear. Just be forewarned, the game is rough –way rougher than ‘ZombiU’ at any given moment. Even so, the title can hook players in a manner distinct from story-heavy affairs.

Contra: Shattered Soldier (PSN)

Flash back to some eleven years ago, and ‘Contra: Shattered Soldier’ was the great hope for the ‘Contra’ series. The gameplay returned to side-scroller style, but also attempted to bring in a hitherto unseen amount of parallax. What’s more, the classic powers-ups were sidelined, and the tone of the game was made a bit more serious with artwork from Ashley Wood of ‘Metal Gear Solid’ fame.

I have only vague memories of actually playing ‘Shattered Soldier’. Now seems like the perfect time to experience the game as a PS2 classic. It should be a nice change of pace from the Nintendo DS fan-favorite ‘Contra 4’. And who knows, it may be far better than whatever Konami has in store for ‘Contra: Run and Gun’.


  1. Played through 60% of ‘The Last of Us’ and I like it. It’s very atmospheric and fatalistic. You actually care about these characters. Amazing cut scenes (shivering lips, blinking eyelids), brilliant casting, superb script. It’s a keeper.

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