Coming Soon! 11/19/2012

Sick of your Wii U yet? God I hope not. You just got it! In case you are, the game industry has a couple of titles just for you you spoiled little brat.

Remember. Release dates are quite literally made at the whims of the publisher. The following are subject to change without any warning.

Releases To Watch For This Week

Hitman: Absolution (Xbox 360, PS3)

Tuesday November 20, 2012

I’m going to say a word, and you’re going to tell me the first video game franchise that comes to mind. Ready? Assassin. Let me guess, you said Assassin’s Creed didn’t you? I don’t blame you. We’ve been inundated by Assassin’s Creed games around this time of the year for the past four years. Only this year do we have some legitimate competition in the field of assassination games, and having been in hibernation for seven years, Hitman: Absolution returns to remind everyone how it’s done.

Like most of the other entries in the series, Absolution lets you figure out how to kill the mark yourself. The environment offers multiple ways for you to go about it. Do you want to plant some explosives near the mark? Do you want to poison their meal? How about the more direct garden-scissors-through-the-jugular approach? Just don’t expect any kind of non-violent resolutions a-la Dishonored. Any approach you take will be violent to some extent.

Longstanding series protagonist, Agent 47, has picked up some new tricks. If your mark has gotten smart and decided to surround himself with a bunch of cops, you have at least two options. One option involves Agent 47 firing heavy weaponry into the group and praying that one of those stray bullets will hit the mark while he magically avoid all the other bullets flying in his direction. Or he can sneak up on one of the cops, knock him out, and steal his uniform. Now he can slowly walk up to his mark and kill him silently while none of the other cops are looking in his direction. Than walk away like nothing has happened. An assassin game with disguises? Unthinkable! Agent 47 will come across a huge variety of disguises he can don from the mundane like the police uniform or a chef to the more ridiculous like a scarecrow he comes across on a corn field while evading other assassins that are after him or just a plain ol’ chicken suit, possibly because his mark is attending a restaurant mascot conference or something.

Now that’s what I call a fiery sermon!

And now for something completely different. Absolution has something akin to a level editor. No, you don’t make entirely new environments. What you do make are very specific assassination challenges. Contracts mode works like this. First, you pick any of the single player levels. Everyone of them has a number of non-player characters just milling about going about their business. These guys and gals almost never has anything to do with you other than possibly getting in your way in the main game, but here, you can choose up to three of them as marks. You then play the level and kill them however you see fit. Absolution will keep track of how these assassinations are done. Did you use a sledgehammer to kill the first guy but use a explosives on the last two? Did you do it without anyone noticing? Did you do it while wearing a bike messenger disguise? Did you get away cleanly? How quickly did you do it? All of these get recorded byt Absolution. Once you issue the contract, players could either just kill the mark however way they want and get a base pay or they can try to replicate your parameters as closely as possible to get more pay. The money you get can be used to unlock more weapons, disguises, and tools for you to use in Contracts mode. Every week, the developers will pick five of these contracts as the weekly five for anyone to play.

Look hard at your Assassin’s Creed game. Could you do any of this in there? Absolution comes the closest to making a true sandbox assassin game. Although it has laid dormant for the last seven years, that time off seems to have given the series a clearer direction in making you the ultimate cold blooded assassin.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3, Vita)

Tuesday November 20, 2012

Sony made their own version Super Smash Bros. Now name a couple of characters you’d expect to see in there. Whereas Nintendo has a pretty deep roster of characters that practically screams Nintendo just by looking at them, most would be hard pressed to think of any beyond Kratos. Only after looking through the roster of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale did I actually go “Oh yeah, Sony does have all these Sony exclusive characters.”

The comparison to Smash Bros. does have its limits though. Yes, publisher specific mascots (most of them anyways but not all) do go at it against each other on publisher specific themed stages, but once the fight starts, one glaring difference immediately pops up. Nobody has a health meter. Instead everyone has a Super Meter that gets filled up everytime an attack lands on an opponent and goes up to three levels. Once you reach at least the first level, you can activate one of three super attacks depending on how many levels you’ve accrued. You score by hitting any opponent with these super attacks. You can’t score any other way.

Battle Royale marks Sony’s first game in their Cross-Buy program. Meaning if you buy it for either system, you get it for the other one as well. Since the two skus can actually connect to each other, it really doesn’t matter which one you buy. In theory this should broaden the base for online multiplayer matches until you realize how many people own the Vita that doesn’t already own a PS3.

Just looking at the roster should bring back some good PlayStation memories, and watching PaRappa the Rapper kicking Spike’s ass (Ape Escape series) or Jak and Daxter will make veteran gamers pine for the days when the PlayStation 1 and 2 ruled supreme. Or just make them want to buy this game. Whichever.

Honorable Mention

These two have very different ideas of how to tickle someone

Persona 4: The Golden (Vita)

Tuesday November 20, 2012
Those Shin Megami Tensei: Persona games never could just rest on their laurels. Like the incredibly popular (at least with the Japanese role playing game crowd) Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, Persona 4 will finally get their “Director’s Cut” version if you will in Persona 4: The Golden.

For those who don’t know, Persona 4 tells the story of a bunch of Japanese high school students who got wrapped up into the rash of murders that’s been plaguing their small town. They have also discovered another world… in their TV sets full of monsters and realized that the two are connected and someone has been using this other world to murder people.

The real pull of all the SMT:P games has to be the Demon Fusion/collection aspect. As you battle through the monster filled world, you collect demons that you can use and level or fuse with other demons to make entirely new demons that inherit skills, strengths, and weaknesses. That along with the social aspect of the game has become a series trademark. I don’t mean real world social interactions with real people. I mean you build relationships with several in-game characters. As your relationship grows, your ability to fuse stronger monsters grows alongside it.

So what’s new in this one? First up, it has a new character for you to get to know and build a relationship with and therefore possibly get even stronger. It also has several new events like a trip to a beach. That may not sound all that big of a deal, but half of the fun of Persona 4 involves these little events that has little to do with the main storyline about the murders and more with watching these teenagers acting like teenagers, but in a good and funny way. And finally, it has motorbikes. Odd as that may sound, it actually has a role in combat as well.

On top of new demons, new locales, new characters to befriend, Golden also has a couple of new online features. During any day when you have a multitude of possibilities on what to do with your day, you can bring up a list that tells you what other players have opted to do on that exact day. Atlus, the developers behind this game, has toyed with this “poll the audience” feature in Catherine, and some should recognize it from The Walking Dead series. But instead of just giving you some sort of validation for your choice, you get a sense as to what might be the right thing to do for the day.

No doubt about it. Gamers loved themselves a good Japanese role playing game, and Persona 4 certainly ranked as one of the best of the bunch. Given the insane amount of new content and new combat mechanics, this enhanced version might be the definitive version to own even for those who already played the hell out of the last one.

Coming This Week

Tuesday November 13, 2012

Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! (3DS, DS)

Wha? Oddly enough this marks the third game I can think off which have dialogue as video game title. In this case, it fits the Adventure Time cartoon that this game is based on. WayForward, the developers, love the NES classic, The Legend of Zelda II. What does a developer do when the game they loved never really got a sequel? They make a game that’s basically a spiritual successor to it, even if they have to take a property that may not necessarily have anything to do with it to begin with. Hence we get this game that basically plays like The Legend of Zelda II – 2 with Adventure Time skin on it.

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse (Xbox 360, PS3)

Most licensed games have, generally speaking, sucked. You have your oddballs like The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay and the last two Batman games. Wouldn’t it be nice if one of these games manages to capture the spirit and essence of its license like maybe getting all the original writers and actors on board? If that’s all it takes, than maybe the third person shooter Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse might be one of those rare examples of a good licensed game. Good luck guys.

Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS)

Is darkness threatening your holiday spirits? Have no fear. The warrior versions of your favorite make-belief figures will save the day! Watch as the Sandman summons tornadoes of sand and Santa stab the living daylights out of his enemies in this obligatory 3D platformer to promote the movie. With that kind of imagery, you know your kids will behave.

Compilations of the Week

Tuesday November 20, 2012

Kids Learn & Play: Pets & Vets Bundle (DS)

Wow, even kids games are getting in on the compilation action.

  • Kids Learn & Play: My Pet Hotel
  • Kids Learn & Play: My Vet Practice

Late to the Party

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