The machinations of two malicious organizations dominate this week’s videogame release slate. I’m referring to the Umbrella Corporation and the National Basketball Association. Can there be any room for other games when these two titans take the stage? Find out now. (Plus, Conan O’Brien.)
NBA 2K13 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PC)
The ‘NBA 2K’ series has been a juggernaut over the past few years, and continues to pull out all the stops with ‘NBA 2K13‘. The game now sports a shoe creator mode that allows the player to create custom shoes for his or her team, or even have a custom Nike-produced version created for purchase in real life.
Jay Z, now the face of the newly relocated Brooklyn Nets, was attached as producer for the latest edition of the NBA simulation. In a move that helped the competition, ‘NBA Live’ decide not to compete for another year. While the presence of Jay Z probably helps to flavor the meta game, fans of the series are likely more interested in the new ball-handling system, which lets players creatively pound the ball. (Passing? Shot clock? Who cares? Just pound the ball.)
Last year’s stilted MyPlayer mode has leveled up to MyCareer mode, while teammate and computer AI have been tweaked. Honestly, the feature that has fans hopping is the inclusion of the 1992 Dream Team. After being remarkably absent last year, Sir Charles is back, and even Scottie Pippen (who tried to ruin the Dream Team’s inclusion in vintage Pippen fashion) ultimately agreed to be part of the game. I have no doubt that the ’92 Dream Team (or ’96 or ’08) would crush 2012 Men’s team. Now that battle can play out in the console space.
Resident Evil 6 (360, PS3)
Chris, Leon, Wesker Jr… That’s right, the time has come for ‘Resident Evil 6‘ (or ‘Biohazard 6’ for most of world). Unlike those goofy movies that come out every five minutes, the ‘Resident Evil’ games have been on an upward swing for years. ‘RE5’ co-op was sublime. The ludicrous story, the freakish enemies, the incredibly good boss battles, the quality of the visuals and the challenging gameplay – it was all there in ‘Resident Evil: Revelations’ for the 3DS. I fully expect ‘RE6’ to bring all those great attributes to a new high with a world-spanning story. You can expect that there will be times when you’ll run out of ammunition, times when a zombie’s head will disappear only to be replaced by a four-pronged mouth that eats your character, and times when you’ll think that you’ve hit upon a way to beat a boss only to find out later how wrong you were.
I have to add that ‘RE6’ is meant to be played either online or in offline split-screen cooperatively. Playing with an AI partner is bound to really diminish the experience.
Watching Conan O’Brien play ‘Resident Evil 6’ is not only hilarious, but quickly highlights what is great (and what isn’t so great) about ‘Resident Evil’.
NiGHTS into Dreams (XBLA, PSN)
A Sega Saturn title produced by the then-beloved Sonic Team, ‘NiGHTS into Dreams’ returns in the form of an HD re-release. I’ve only played the sequel, which I found to be an impressive platformer that handled shifting between 2D and 3D play spaces as well as any other. This release has been modified for HD resolutions and wide aspect ratio screens, but also offers a classic mode more in line with a Sega Saturn. This version also includes the formerly elusive ‘Christmas NiGHTS’ expansion content. When first released, fans griped about this title, only to later to call it a classic. A PC version has been promised, but has yet to appear.
Sonic Adventure 2 (XBLA, PS3)
A Sega Dreamcast title produced by the suddenly-vilified Sonic Team, ‘Sonic Adventure 2’ found considerable success once it was ported to the GameCube. Sega has apparently decided to release this HD version the same week as ‘NiGHTS into Dreams’ to capitalize on as much nostalgia as possible.
For me, this was when Sonic jumped the shark story-wise. But, again, this is a title that caused fans to gripe upon release, but now is pined-for endlessly. Of note for this release is the availability of the GameCube Battle content as DLC. Again, a PC version has been promised, but has yet to appear.
Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy (PC)
Several years after popping up on the PSP, and one year after hitting XBLA, ‘Half Minute Hero’ comes to the PC in its best incarnation yet. Unlike the XBLA version, this release contains the three other lesser game modes. Whether you choose the original retro pixel art style or the newer neo cartoon art style, the game is a wonderful mix of retro RPG characteristics and a unique frenetic pick-up-and-play style all its own.
Each level pits your hero against a world that is doomed to die in thirty seconds. Traversing the world map, fighting random battles, facing the boss, and sometimes even visiting a town all must be completed in thirty seconds. Impossible you say? In a way, yes. Fortunately, the time goddess will accept your gold at a growing cost and reset the timer if you can find her (and pay her) in time. The sixty-plus levels (not counting other game modes) play quickly, which allow the player to rapidly rethink, retry and set better times. If you love old-school RPGs, this game is well worth its $10 asking price. (This was actually released last week, but I forgot to add it to my last post despite my love for this game.)
War of the Roses (PC)
I believe the idea with ‘War of the Roses’ is to bring the majesty and brutality of Britain’s historic York/Lancaster conflict to PC gamers in a 64-player versus setting. The game already has a strong following among a certain community of players, but I haven’t personally warmed to the idea.