It’s 81 degrees currently in New York City, at about 4:35am. My AC technically died five years ago, but officially kicked the bucket about this time last year. I have a 25+ year old Panasonic fan blowing on me at this moment, which is surprisingly refreshing for a change. My 26.5″ ASUS monitor is giving off more heat than it should be, and it almost feels as if it’s baking me as I sit here.
Oddly enough, my biggest problem right now is that I have so few new releases I could be playing in this heat drenched room of mine.
It seems as if summertime is ample time for just about anyone and everyone to take some kind of extended break from their productivity in some manner. Who can blame them – everyone needs a break at some point, and this beach weather just begs for some attention. While theaters seem to enjoy lassoing in those trying to beat the heat while catching the latest superhero flick on the big screen (one of the few industries that actually thrives during the summertime) folks like myself have to suffer the inevitable dearth of video game releases, though there are still a small handful that are looking to make a big splash on your consoles, as well as your wallets.
Not only that, but this is prime time to tackle that backlog of yours during those overcast or rained out summer afternoons. So lets take a look at two upcoming summer releases that I’m looking forward to, as well as one current time killer, and then two backlog titles I’m planning on digging through:
As with the last several years previous, Microsoft will be rolling out their Summer of Arcade lineup, which arguably stars Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. Gone are the clunky, mostly restricting peripherals that ultimately led to the bail of the Tony Hawk franchise. No more on foot traversing, vehicle piloting additions added in from the third installment an on. What we have here is old school, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2/3 mechanics and concepts within stages featured in the first two games of the franchise.
I’ve stated my admiration for the first game on numerous occasions, not only for its tight controls, stylish moves, sick stages and addicting soundtrack, but for taking the skateboarding sub-genre to a level never seen previously. Its sequel added upon everything the first game introduced, though my heart always belonged to the former.
What Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD will provide is not necessarily just stages featured in the first two Tony Hawk titles and some of the older songs featured in them, but a remade engine as a whole, though at its core it should remain faithful to those who still keep their THPS shrines dusted off regularly.
If that’s still not selling you on its upcoming release, developer Robomondo has promised future DLC consisting of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 stages, so it looks as if we’ll have plenty to grind off of for the foreseeable future. Not only that, but leaderboards and several online modes will be available upon purchase. Look for this HD release on July 18th at 1200 MSP/$15 and pretend that you’re a Superman too!
Square Enix rescued what would have been the demise of True Crime: Hong Kong, and now we’re entering the final touches before the newly retitled Sleeping Dogs is released to the masses. Anyone unfamiliar to the True Crime franchise missed out on two sandbox titles from the previous generation in True Crime: Streets of LA and True Crime New York City. They weren’t without their faults, but at a time where Saints Row still wasn’t conceived as an alternative to the red hot Grand Theft Auto franchise, True Crime did its best to remain relevant.
Saints Row has distinguished its self as the over-the-top deviance to the more “serious” tone of Grand Theft Auto, so what will Sleeping Dogs do to separate its self from the current crop of sandbox titles? For starters, the combat system looks to be more than just a tacked on aspect and second to gunplay or vehicle selection. Those familiar with how the Batman Arkham franchise played combat wise will understand a bit more about what to expect, with some context sensitive attacks reminiscent of titles like The Punisher and Deus Ex Human Revolution.
There’s a cover system which has slowly become a staple in action heavy open world titles, as well as vehicular portions. Players can also expect a myriad of side quests and activities to distract them from the meat and potatoes of the game, from joining a fight club to betting on cockfights.
The dark overtones of the story reminds gamers that this isn’t a game where you can fling yourself into oncoming traffic to claim insurance on. How deep the combat ends up being, whether it’s closer to the Batman Arkham franchise, the Yakuza series or somewhere in-between, remains to be seen. However there’s more than enough being offered on the plate that has me starving for Sleeping Dogs and readying myself to take a bite out of it. It’s currently slated for an August 14th release, so the wait is just a bit longer for this one.
The wait between releases won’t be too painful for me, as there are a few games already out that I have either been occupied by, or will be making the time for:
After all the needless drama over the ending died down, then flared back up just a bit after the extended cut was released (something that didn’t even need to be worked on), there’s the multiplayer. My God the multiplayer.
Confession time: I have a weakness for any kind of game that has some sort of loot grinding to it, which is why I’ve been head over heels in love with Champions of Norrath on the PlayStation 2 for years now. Mass Effect 3‘s MP has this kind of aspect to it. It’s basically a horde mode variant, but based off classes available in the single player, a plethora of races from the franchise, and the ability to gain in-game currency by completing objectives during Waves 3, 6 and 10 on either Bronze, Silver or Gold difficulties. The higher the difficulty, the better your currency rewards will be.
The currency gained can then be used to purchase “packs”. There are several price points for these packs, which offer varying qualities of items, ranging from new weapons, to weapon mods, to expendable bonuses, and so on. As with any kind of time sink, the more you play, the better chance you have to unlock some of the rare and ultra rare weapons offered, which can occasionally seem unbalanced, but are a hoot to utilize on the battlefield (the N7 Valiant puts every other sniper rifle to shame).
One major driving force to this MP experience is Bioware constantly involving themselves with it in some form. There are bi-weekly (formerly weekly) community tasks in which players are asked to contribute in a number of different ways, either by promoting two or three of their classes, or collectively taking out hundreds of thousands of Brutes. Then there’s the free DLC packs that have been released over the last few months, with Bioware saying that they’re far from done on DLC for the game as a whole. These DLC packs offer new class/race combinations, such as a Krogan Battlemaster (Vanguard with obscene amounts of health and shielding), Geth Infiltrators, a Human Male Adept variant based loosely off a member of Cerberus, and so on. New weapons are added as well, plus new maps, etc. – all for free!
It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s mine for sure, and the sweet taste of success is one I have enjoyed since a week after the game launched. I will go on record here and say that Mass Effect 3‘s multiplayer is bar none the best multiplayer experience I have had this generation of consoles. No one expected anything of it, and quite frankly, not a lot cared either, but it’s a time sink that is constantly supported by Bioware, and will continue to be for quite some time. If you enjoy the Mass Effect universe and have an affinity for collecting weapons, characters and such, you owe it to yourself to lose hours of your life on this multiplayer masterpiece.
For so many years, video games based off of a comic book character or event were hit and miss. For every Marvel Superheroes there was a Marvel Nemesis. For every Batman (NES) there was an Uncanny X-Men (NES). One particular super hero themed video game slipped my radar for years, even though I’ve had it in my collection and ready to play – The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.
I only know a few things about this one overall – it’s got an open world layout and it’s supposed to be one of better superhero based video game titles, and by far the best Incredible Hulk related game out there. I also wanted something that I could pick up and play, putting in various amounts of time, while not being chained down for too long, and this looks to be a stellar choice for this.
Will I ultimately enjoy the ultimate destruction offered by this Marvel licensed titled? Only time will tell, but seeing Sierra on the front cover of the box already boosted my hopes quite a bit. Who knows, I may give a more in-depth analysis on The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction sometime down the line.
Earthbound is definitely a well known and cherished 16 bit title, and surprisingly I’ve had only a handful of minutes with it. In actuality, even though I was a long time Nintendo Power subscriber and knew of its existence, I really never knew all that much about this charming RPG. In fact, sales were not stellar in any sense, which aided in the fact that not one single sequel or prequel ever made it over to the East.
Since its release on the Super Nintendo, Earthbound has become sort of a cult classic of sorts, though the number of devoted fans seems to have shot up, due in part to the Super Smash Bros. franchise. By no means is Earthbound a easy or cheap find, but that hasn’t stopped gamers who wanted the immaculate version, as opposed to firing up an emulator on their PC.
The reason why I wanted the “pick up and play” concept with a game like The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction was to dedicate enough time to chomp down on Earthbound. I know first hand how involving an SNES RPG can be, and I want to be sure that I have enough time to dedicate, yet have a some time here and there to dedicate to another title that isn’t as demanding. I’m hoping that this attempt to sit down with what’s been called an RPG masterpiece, will result in a complete playthrough and a better understanding as to why Earthbound is as adored as a number of people have told me.
Summer is already a few weeks old, yet I’m pretty excited that the drought of quality new releases overall, won’t be hampering my gaming as a whole this season. What’s everyone else planning on playing during summer break/vacation/days off? Share them with a comment below – you may inspire someone else to play that same game as well!