Roundtable: The Staff’s Review Choices for 2013 – North America
For the past few days, we discussed which games our staff will be reviewing. Now you can see what the North American staff will be tackling throughout the year in this final part of the Roundtable discussion.
On Monday, you read about what the Australian staff members will be reviewing for the year. Tuesday, you took a peak at the reviews Europe will handle. Now it’s North America’s turn. It was a bit hassling to get them to write this though, as they were too busy eating bacon burgers, watching the latest Honey Boo Boo, having a KFC Double Down for dessert and chanting “‘Murica!” at Monday Night football. Eventually we got them around to writing about their reviews, and you can read on about their thoughts.
Dead Space 3
I’ve been a fan of the Dead Space series since I saw the trailer for the first game. Once I got my hands on the game, the series never let me go. Watching Isaac fight for survival in the first game and seeing his character evolve and deepen in the second has made for an incredibly satisfying experience. While I can understand people’s reservations about the third title including co-op, I still have faith in the Visceral team and I can’t wait to play as Isaac Clarke once more.
Jaime Pablo Sifontes
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
This is a game that has so much promise considering the pedigree behind it. With both Level 5′s lead development team and Studio Ghibli behind the wheel, I anticipate it to be the JRPG everyone has been waiting for this generation. Initial impressions in the gameplay department backs this up. It comes down to the story and atmosphere which is typically something that Studio Ghibli is exceptional at. Basically, this is my most anticipated game for the 1st quarter and I know it will not disappoint… Well it certainly doesn’t seem like it will.
I am genuinely excited for this game for a few reasons (yet a tad apprehensive). First, the game is the brain child of Keiji Inafune, famous for his work with the Megaman series (he essentially created him). Second, it seems to grasp some of the most interesting mature themes I have seen in handheld and uses them as a gameplay mechanic that – to my knowledge – has never done before; sacrifice someone’s spine to create Excalibur mid-battle? Hell YES! Ahem… but lastly, I am looking for another killer app for Vita, or at least something that will push people into taking the handheld more seriously, and I think this is that game.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII
Too many reasons why I am still excited about this game (against all odds). To keep it short, it simply looks right up my alley. It honestly looks like it’s primed to deconstruct the basic foundations of Final Fantasy, which is great in my opinion. Then again, we still know so little about it, which fuels my curiosity. All I can say for sure is that when it comes out, I will definitely be there to play the hell out of it.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
I’ll admit when I first saw a trailer for Aliens: Colonial Marines, I had a shroud of doubt. I mean, I knew this was a game coming from Gearbox, the same developer behind big-name franchises such as Borderlands and Brothers in Arms, but any game involving the Xenomporphs doesn’t have what you would call a great streak when the license is transformed into a video game. Even the promising looking Aliens vs. Predator that released in 2009 Pi by Rebellion turned out to be a mediocre disappointment with critics everywhere. I had the fortune to attend Gearbox’s Community Day back in September 2012 and learned a lot more about Colonial Marines in addition to playing a standard versus mode in the multiplayer. For starters, this isn’t just another Alien game. Twentieth Century Fox gave Gearbox the full rights to this game. In a sense, Aliens: Colonial Marines is “Aliens 2,” a direct sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens. The multiplayer had me playing as a colonial marine where I fought the dev team, who played as Xenomorphs. Though I wasn’t able to play anything in the story (which is said to have a single-player and co-op story), the shooting mechanics felt great as you would expect from a shooter centric developer. Gearbox also used the franchise to its fullest by designing the game to look nearly identical to its movie brethren. I just can’t wait to yell “LET’S ROCK” when the game lands on February 12, 2013.
Gears of War: Judgement
I have been with Gears of War since Dominic Santiago busted Marcus Phoenix out of prison in the first game. I was with them when they busted out of a “GIANT WORM!” I was with them when Marcus had to face the loss of a close comrade while fighting to survive as some of the last remaining humans alive. From the epic chainsaw battles to laughing my ass off playing Horde with my cousins over Xbox Live, Gears of War is a franchise that I absolutely love. Grant it, when I first saw the announcement of Gears of War: Judgement, I thought that it was a bit too soon with Gears of War 3 having just released about a year and a half ago… then I slapped myself silly and realized hey, this is more Gears of-freakin’ War. It’s also being developed by the now Epic-owned studio People Can Fly, the team behind Bulletstorm (which I personally think is a really fun game). It’ll be interesting to play as Baird and Cole around the beginning of E-Day when the game surfaces on March 19, 2013.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Luigi’s Mansion was the first game I ever played and owned for the Nintendo GameCube. It’s still a fun game to re-visit and play even by today’s standards. For its time, the graphics looked stunning and it let us play as the severely overlooked green brother of Mario, who mysteriously went missing in the first game and gave Luigi the chance to be a hero for once. Though it was a fun game, Luigi’s Mansion had two huge faults preventing it from being a fantastic game; it’s too short and easy. I was able to beat the game within one day without dying (I did this because I left my memory card somewhere and I still really wanted to play it)… when I was in the fourth grade. From what I have learned about Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, the game is going to keep its core gameplay mechanic of capturing ghosts while fixing the flaws of the first game, particularly by adding multiple mansions to explore. Combine that with the game’s portability on the Nintendo 3DS and I’d call that a recipe for a game that could be creepily good when it haunts you on March 24, 2013.
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3
I am a huge fan of Naruto Shippuden. Like, huge. I don’t watch many animes unless people recommend them or show them to me, but Naruto Shippuden is fantastic enough that I have been keeping up with the series weekly since I graduated from high school over three years ago. It has every kind of character you can imagine, an incredibly deep and complex story, a mesmerizing soundtrack and some of the best action I’ve seen in anything, video games or not. Out of the bazillions of Naruto games that release annually, if there is one series that does the anime justice, it’s the Ultimate Ninja Storm titles, and Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is no different. It takes over 80 characters from the series and let’s you fight as them on large scale battles whether it’s the single-player’s story or multiplayer. The engine used in the game also replicates the visuals of the show, making the game a gorgeous eye treat. If you have an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 and are a big huge fan of Naruto Shippuden such as myself, use your Sharingan to look out for it when it’s summoned to store shelves March 5, 2012.
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance
If you ever saw me on the street and asked me what my all-time favorite game was, I could never tell you. However, I could tell you the closest contender would be Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I could write articles upon articles as to why I love that game, but in short, it changed my life as a gamer while simultaneously merging me into the Metal Gear series. When Konami first showed Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (which at the time was called “Metal Gear Solid: Rising”), I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Not necessarily because I hated that the series was driving off of their traditional stealth gameplay path, but I’m not a fan of hack-and-slash and action games such as Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry. What mainly kept me intrigued was Raiden – the new star of the show – the plot taking place after Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and the simplest reason of them all; it’s more Metal Gear. I decided to write a demo impressions piece on Revengeance because I wanted to see what the game was like and see if it was worth my cold hard cash for someone who doesn’t normally play action games. Though it had a couple of flaws with its parrying system and lack of dodge, I can honestly say I am extremely excited to review it. Even though the game is being handled by Platinum Games is the complete opposite of stealthy, it still felt like I was playing a Metal Gear game by keeping the series’ core elements. The time for me to slash my way through an army of Gekko can’t come fast enough, especially when its release is February 19, 2013.
Around the time when I was a n00bish high-schooler mowing lawns (and hating it with a fiery passion hotter than a summer day in Texas) to earn money, I was trying to save up for an Xbox 360 around October 2006. To help advance the “Robbie Needs An Xbox 360″ charity fundraiser, I decided to sell some games that I didn’t play much. Among the dozen or so games that made for fine dust magnets, my greatest regret was selling the original Pikmin on the Nintendo Gamecube. Not only was it a game that I loved to play when I was a kid, but there is still no other game like it with its unique twist on real-time-strategy gameplay. For my 20th birthday, I asked for a copy of Pikmin 2 since it’s expensive and quite difficult to come by. In the sequel, they stripped away the time limit and gave you limitless freedom to battle Bulbaxes, collect items and increase your ever growing Pikmin army. Add tough underground sequences spread throughout the different areas and you have a great example of what a sequel can be. Playing Pikmin 2 got me fired up for Pikmin 3′s inevitable reveal at E3 2012. The game looks beautiful with HD visuals and could be incredibly fun to play with three other friends. It will also be exciting to see what GamePad functionality they implement into Pikmin 3 when it sprouts out of the ground on May 1, 2013.
Plants vs. Zombies 2
Drugs, alcohol. Both of these substances are often the addictions of certain members in today’s societies. However, I hold neither of these addictions. Instead, I have Brainidus: addiction to Plants vs. Zombies. Seriously, it’s bad. I have three copies of Plants vs. Zombies for the PC, iPhone and Xbox Live Arcade. This is because I am an addict to tower defense, which is part of what makes Plants vs. Zombie’s “Lane Defense” so much fun. That’s why when I heard the rumors of a Plants vs. Zombies 2 surface, I literally screamed “YES!” out loud (and got some awkward stares in the process). Honestly, there was hardly anything wrong with the first game, which is why I can’t wait to see what PopCap does with its amazing franchise when the zombies invade my lawn once again sometime this spring.
Were it not for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim releasing in 2011, Rayman Origins would have been my personal game of the year without any question. It is still one of the best looking games I have ever seen and further proves video games can be considered a for of art. It has some of the tightest platforming controls, achieves perfection in level design and smoothness, hilarious to play with friends and a soundtrack more delightful than watching a puppy hop around in tall grass. Though it was a small flaw, the only existing fault with Origins was the absence of online co-op. It was surprising to see less than a year after its release, but I jumped with glee and pelvic thrusted as Globox would when the first teaser trailer for Rayman Legends was leaked. Though it’s exclusively available for the Wii U, I can assure you from my demo impressions and gameplay videos that the GamePad is used quite well in co-op sessions. Somehow Ubisoft managed to make the game look even more beautiful with some new rendering as well. To top the cake with hardcore icing, they’re including online multiplayer. Rayman Legends is a dream come true and my anticipation for its musical levels rocked to new heights for its release on February 26, 2013.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Back when the PlayStation 2 was in its prime and I did not know much about video games, I had two motivations to purchase Sony’s wonder machine. One of them was Dragon Ball Z Budokai because I had such a blast playing it with my cousins while fighting as the nearly indestructible fighters from the Z universe. The second reason is because I saw this mysterious raccoon on TV one day who apparently loved stealing things. Being a youngling at the time, I was instantly drawn into the Sly Cooper series with its lovable protagonist and cel-shaded visuals. Formerly created by the fathers of inFamous – Sucker Punch – Sly Cooper is easily one of my favorite franchises on the PlayStation 2. In fact, Sly 2: Band of Thieves is easily among my top five favorite games on the Playstation 2. The last game in the series, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, released over seven years ago since Sucker Punch moved on to create the first inFamous. When all hope was lost, a small development team – Sanzaru Games – was hired by Sony to create Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Originally, Sanzaru was making their own homemade version of what “Sly 4″ would be like, and obviously Sony liked what they saw to the point where Sanzaru was given the rights to create the fourth entry in the series. It’s a game that I’m not only anticipating highly as a big Sly Cooper fan, but it’s also priced at $39.99 to sweeten the deal, which is practically a steal (get it… a steal… because Sly Cooper steals things). It’ll be great to once again see Sly and the gang in action on February 5, 2013.
What do you guys think? Are you excited for any of these games? Did you enjoy this three part feature? Should the Americans just go back to eating their bacon burgers and watching ‘Murican football? Let us know in the comments section.
Robbie Key proudly serves his post under “Reviews and News” for Analog Addiction. He is also Stephen F. Austin State University’s new Entertainment Editor, a blogger for IGN, has a passion for those cryptic things known as video games and most importantly, he is American. You can follow his completely relevant Twitter updates and watch his awesomtacular YouTube videos. Be sure to look out for his future Wii U reviews as well.