In this week’s videogames, there’s no rest for the wicked, but there are big titles all around. Dungeon crawling, racing, shooting, anniversary collecting, and a pink parting gem from Nintendo all play their parts in today’s highlights.
Borderlands 2 (360, PS3, PC)
Count me among the many who thought that the first ‘Borderlands’ would be a forgettable, wasteland-themed First Person Shooter, made all the more sad by its “edgy” cover art. Talk about being wrong! Take the cooperative raiding and looting elements of a dungeon crawler, the tight FPS controls of a top Unreal 3 shooter, and a partially cell-shaded art style, and you can begin to approach what makes ‘Borderlands’ so fun and diverting either solo or with friends. While I also really enjoyed ‘Dead Island’, that game didn’t approach the level of polish and pure diversion that ‘Borderlands’ did.
I fully expect the new classes, enemies and environments to make ‘Borderlands 2‘ potential “Game of the Year” quality, and that’s not to mention the loads of DLC that will be available. Unless you’re really familiar with the first ‘Borderlands’, the live action TV commercials don’t do the sequel justice, from my perspective.
Torchlight II (PC)
The first ‘Torchlight’ is a game in the vein of ‘Diablo’, but somehow more focused. Its lighter art style, isometric view and dungeon after dungeon full of crawling escapades made this PC title really perfect for running on laptops and lightly spec’ed workstations. You could just hop on, run into a dungeon, and have your pet haul all the extra gear to town to sell for you (a chore cherished by so many other games). At $20, its bang-for-your-buck was unquestioned, and fans produced tons of mods. However, the game lacked one feature needed to supplant the ‘Diablo’ experience – a multi-player mode.
‘Torchlight II’ brings the multi-player, and also promises more content, better mods, new classes, etc. While the first game eventually made its way to XBLA, Runic has warned players not to expect an Xbox version of this one. The title will next be available on Macs.
F1 2012 (360, PS3, PC)
Fans of Codemasters’ other racing titles (‘Dirt’, ‘Grid’) should have a decent idea of what to expect from ‘F1 2012‘. I played the PC demo and came away impressed. If you’re enjoy any kind of serious racing sim, you should at least give the demo a shot. Not only are the cars and tracks visually stunning and full of nice presentation touches, but the game takes a genuine crack at trying to teach proper driving technique and etiquette.
Kirby’s Dream Collection: Special Edition (Wii)
As another Nintendo console heads off towards the setting sun, it’s only fitting to send it off with a Kirby title. To commemorate twenty years of the pink marshmallow cult, Nintendo brings us ‘Kirby’s Dream Collection: Special Edition‘, a collection of six Kirby games.
I wish that Nintendo had included the excellent ‘Kirby’s Pinball Land’, which is available in the e-shop. What we get here are the first five proper Kirby titles and fan favorite ‘Kirby’s Super Star’. There’s also a soundtrack CD, a museum detailing every Kirby game, and some Kirby animation that I didn’t know existed. My first and thereby favorite Kirby game is in this pack: ‘Kirby’s Dreamland 2’. I look forward to seeing it in all of its Super Game Boy glory.
Street Fighter: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (360, PS3)
I’m a huge ‘Street Fighter’ fan, but the ‘Street Fighter: 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition‘ (like some other Capcom collections) is not for me. This $150 package includes four games plus their costume DLC, eleven soundtrack CDs, two Blu-rays of ‘Street Fighter’ animated features, a Ryu statue, an art book, a belt and a big box to hold it all.
The problem is that a casual fan who already owns one or two of the games would not want all of this stuff. Meanwhile, a hardcore fan likely owns most of it already. Despite including several discs for the soundtracks, half of the game content comes only via download codes. This set is the equivalent of repacking DVDs with Blu-rays.
While it’s nice that Capcom recognizes the 25th Anniversary of ‘Street Fighter’, this pack is screwy. It needs the ‘Street Fighter Alpha’ series to be comprehensive (although ‘Ex’ can go to hell). Plus, the Blu-rays contain ‘Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind’, and I wouldn’t watch that again even if I were so drunk as to invite death.
Jet Set Radio HD (XBLA, PSN)
In near-future Tokyo, rebel rollerbladers buck the system by painting tags. I smell nostalgia… reeky Dreamcast nostalgia. Word is that this HD re-release of ‘Jet Set Radio’ nails the feel and the soundtrack of the original, minus a song or two. A PSVita version (next month), a PC version, an iOS version and an Android version are promised to appear at some point. In the meantime, I’m going to let the nostalgia alone to do its thing.
Realms of Ancient War (XBLA, PSN, PC)
Geezus, if I have to write “dungeon crawler” any more times his week, I may become ill. In all seriousness, ‘Realms of Ancient War’ (or simply ‘R.A.W.’) may fill a void on consoles in the absence of ‘Torchlight II’. If you find a controller preferable to a mouse, but still want a crack at dungeon crawling (zounds!), then by all means be ‘R.A.W.’