Review round-up: The games of February 2013
Our monthly reviews recap continues on from the series return last month. January was packed full of great games, to the point of sensory overload. Thankfully February didn't have as many new titles, giving us a chance to catch up.
That said, there were still some pretty awesome games that came out last month. Most notable of the bunch were Bit.Trip Presents Runner2, Dead Space 3, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. And let's not forgot the highest scoring game of the month, Star Wars Pinball.
Check out everything that came out in February for a quick and easy look at what you may have missed out on.
Cart Life (Windows)
Hofmeier gives the player the freedom to trap themselves in the rat maze of low-income retail, but surrounds this with a world of distant figures for whom jobs don't exist and success has been tamed. While in shellshock from the burn of menial work and poverty, only the character and short term problems seem to exist. The figurative and literal connections Hofmeier makes between physical input and character action are profound and immediate, creating emotions that bleed into reality and beg for contemplation.
Eventually, the worker must look past their own problems and become a part of society. In Cart Life, there is no world to connect to. After personal discoveries are made through the game's mechanics -- which are unfortunately paired with a multitude of game crashes -- the player is left to repeat a virtual life of monotony and zero-sum progress. The most reasonable action is to do the thing that real life cart vendors can't: Turn your back on the job and go do something else.
Read the full Cart Life review
Drawing inspiration from Devil May Cry's Bloody Palace mode, the game's story mode takes place in a tower filled with monsters. Players are placed in a series of arenas and must defeat a set number of enemies in order to progress to the next floor.
It's pretty simple and there aren't a whole lot of frills to the package, but what Croixleur does (combat), it does very well. Slashing, dashing, move canceling, the mechanics of everything seem incredibly refined and well tuned. Standard attacks are complemented by a sizable arsenal of unlockable weapons, each with their own properties and special moves. Nuanced systems help flesh out an otherwise unadorned game, as players will need to learn how everything works together to see it through to the end.
Read the full Croixleur review
Tokyo Crash Mobs (3DS eShop)
Tokyo Crash Mobs is a match three puzzle game where you play as one or two young women who throw or roll human beings at other human beings wearing the same colored clothes. This makes the human beings form "cliques," then disintegrate. At first, the two women appear to have different motivations for taking action in this way. Grace wants to have a fun time at the club, but she's at the back of the line. Only the first ten people of the line will get in. Her solution to this problem is to kill everyone in front of her using her mysterious disintegration magic until she gets to the front.
Read the full Tokyo Crash Mobs review
Omerta: City of Gangsters (PC, Xbox 360)
If you're really into mafia movies and other cosa nostra flavored dealings, you might get some pure novelty enjoyment out of it on a Steam sale, provided you can put up with the repetitive nature of the game. For everyone else, it's probably best to "forgettaboutit".
Read the full Omerta: City of Gangsters review
Aero Porter (3DS eShop)
Yoot Saito is most famous for creating the Dreamcast classic Seaman, arguably the strangest game ever made. It is a game where you take care of a fish man. That's it. Do a marginally good job, and you may have a few interesting conversations with it about existentialism and the possibility that The Beatles weren't real. Then he'll leave. Game Over.
Knowing this about Yoot Saito, I went into Aero Porter expecting something surreal. Shame on me for thinking I know what to expect from Yoot Saito. While Aero Porter does delve into a few playfully strange moments, it's a fairly straightforward game about sorting luggage. What's strange about the game is that it's compelling. Sorting luggage sounds boring as hell. You'd have to pay me to do it in real life. In videogame form, it's something that I'm paying Yoot Saito and Level-5 for the permission to do.
Read the full Aero Porter review
Let me start off immediately by confirming the challenging nature of the game: indeed, this is a "hardcore" dungeon crawler in every sense of the word. Exemplified by the fact that Dungeonland's lowest difficulty setting is "Hard," this game will throw the kitchen sink at you, go to a hardware store and put every other appliance on credit, then throw more at you, while sticking you with the exorbitant bill.
Read the full Dungeonland review
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 (PlayStation Network, Wii U eShop, Xbox 360)
When Warriors games get a sequel, it typically gives all its characters a complete overhaul, with new looks and movesets to justify a fresh purchase. Not so in Ken's Rage 2, where any aesthetic alterations are minimal at best, and playable characters boast the exact same moves they had in the last game. None of the existing content seems to have been updated at all, and in some areas, even appear stripped down and inferior.
Read the full Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 review
Dead Space 3 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Dead Space 3 could have been the best entry in the series, and in many ways, it still does provide some of the franchise's most energetic, thrilling, entertaining moments. The changes thrown into the game inevitably damage its charm, though, and make this a step down from its predecessors. A step down from Dead Space's high standards don't necessarily make for a bad game -- far from it, in fact, for this is still a bloody great game and well worth any fans' time. It's sad that market pressure and industry fear tried so hard to ruin things, but one can at least savor the victory of Dead Space 3's creative success in spite of commercial encroachment.
Try as they might, ain't nobody killing Dead Space yet.
Read the full Dead Space 3 review
Proteus (PC, Mac)
As mentioned, there is a beginning and end to Proteus. It won't take long, either -- I finished in under an hour. Since it is entirely about exploring an unknown, randomly-generated island, there are more things to see and do than can be accomplished in a single playthrough. You can make also "postcards" of a specific moment during the journey that act as save points and can be revisited at any time.
It may prove difficult to tear yourself away from the game in the first place, since exploring the island becomes such a memorable experience. Do you remember your first night cycle in Minecraft? The terror and fright that struck as soon as that first monster approached from out of nowhere? There is a similar feeling in Proteus, except the feelings of terror and fright are replaced with beauty and splendor, gazing into the night sky and marveling at the stars.
Read the full Proteus review
Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360)
Aliens: Colonial Marines is more than a disappointment. It's downright depressing. I can't say if it's the result of a lacking budget, rushed development, or sheer carelessness, but having the nerve to present this as a full retail game is inexcusable. It's simply not finished, and it certainly isn't worthy of being considered a legitimate followup to Aliens. As a story, it's inconclusive, riddled with cliches, and underwhelming. As a game, it's incoherent, insubstantial, and blatantly unconsummated. It took over five years for me to finally play this game, and less than five hours to feel nothing but a shocked emptiness at the thing I'd first downloaded with feverish anticipation.
Read the full Aliens: Colonial Marines review
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita)
In fact, "inoffensive" is probably the word that best describes Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time from the perspective of a fan. It fits right in with its predecessors, offering a rather lengthy campaign and a fair quantity of optional content that's fun to play, though not particularly challenging most of the time. While there may be an expectation that a series' arrival in a console generation outshine all that came before, Sanzaru has made a perfectly acceptable game that may not advance the genre, but feels comfortable with right where it is.
Read the full Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time review
Special Forces: Team X (PC, Xbox Live Arcade)
I would hope that no one is so desperate for a third-person cover-based shooter on PC that they have to resort to playing Special Forces: Team X. It's bland, uninspired, unpolished, and borderline unfinished. The already paltry amount of players is sure to dwindle in the coming weeks and months, leaving Special Forces: Team X nothing more than a line in some unfortunate fans' Steam library.
Special Forces: Team X offers nothing unique to the genre and is likely to leave players unfulfilled. What could have been an interesting, inoffensive multiplayer game turned out to be a buggy mess without so much as a hint of something fresh.
Read the full Special Forces: Team X review
Bentley's Hack Pack (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita)
If you're a retro gamer, you've already played other titles that present the core precepts these mini-games provide, but Bentley's Hack Pack has an interesting enough framework to actually compel you to keep going, with a bit of the ol' Sly charm to boot. For a few bucks, it's worth taking the plunge.
Read the full Bentley's Hack Pack review
Serious Sam Double D XXL (Xbox Live Arcade)
The aesthetic of Serious Sam Double D XXL isn't anything great, bordering on generic. All of the classic enemies from the core games are present, which really makes it feel like a Serious Sam game. Even the new enemies are absurd enough to fit right in with the existing world. The music is also generic, with background music that does its best to sound as epic as possible to accompany the chaotic action on-screen.
Serious Sam Double D XXL isn't going to blow anyone away, but it can make for an entertaining afternoon, with or without a buddy. It does a good job of capturing what the Serious Sam games are all about while at the same time changing the type of gameplay typical of the series.
Read the full Serious Sam Double D XXL review
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Metal Gear Rising is not Solid but still, unmistakably Metal Gear. Despite its lack of seeming significance to the larger scope of the franchise and less complex plot, it does no harm to the setting and features enough action-packed combat that nobody should really give a toss about the story anyway. Seasoned fans should be aware all the same that this is a wholly different series, taking a different approach with a team that has a wildly different set of skills and experience. The work they do well is stunning and overwhelms the shortcomings to mild grievances at worst.
Very challenging difficulty settings and hidden unlocks await the enamored, while those seeking something a little less demanding of their time should appreciate the brisk pace. Players who don't expect they will return for a second round might consider making Revengeance a rental, however, if they have concerns that its short length won't measure up to the full retail price tag.
Read the full Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance review
Capcom Arcade Cabinet (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
If you don't mind waiting until late May, Arcade Cabinet represents a decent value for the discounted $29.99 asking price over the $45 you'd pay for the five packs. I'm certain I spent over $50 in quarters in playing these titles for this review, if you'd like to look at it that way.
Of course, if you already have some of Capcom's other collections, you'll need to decide for yourself if the online and social features make these re-releases worth the outlay. As far as titles go, there's nothing that could be considered new in the collection, though the new online features and presentation should not be glossed over.
Read the full Capcom Arcade Cabinet review
Crysis 3 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Crysis 3 attempts to strike a balance between Crysis and Crysis 2, but in doing so manages to lose a little bit of what made each game appealing. The result is a title that doesn't truly match the open-ended excitement of the first game nor the revelatory empowerment of the second, yet manages to provide enough of both to at least tantalize, even if it doesn't completely satisfy. Solo play is shorter than previous installments and not as enjoyable, but multiplayer goes some way toward apologizing for it by stepping up its game and providing a gripping new experience in Hunter mode. This is a game that feels like the very essence of a "third installment" -- Familiar to the point of looking overplayed, but nonetheless refined and suffering no lack of quality.
Read the full Crysis 3 review
Urban Trial Freestyle (3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita)
The setup for Urban Trial Freestyle is pretty simple. You play as a generic motorcycle rider who has to get from point A to point B, with no context given as to why the trip has to be made.
Your only job is to utilize your bike's acceleration, brakes, and directional capabilities to get there -- it's kind of like Excitebike, but a little more puzzle-like in nature. It's a lot harder than it sounds, as the slightest mistake can send you crashing into a wall or cracking your skull open on the hard pavement.
Read the full Urban Trial Freestyle review
Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
As previously mentioned the main change in gameplay is the power of the wolf. Utilizing the ancient powers of one badass cup of tea, Connor will be able to summon a pack of three wolves to chow down on enemies, and cloak himself at will (using his health as "MP" essentially). Using the cloaking power is pretty fun at first. Basically, as long as an enemy doesn't bump into you, or you have a solid amount of health, you can stay cloaked. What this means is that you can stealth kill enemies right in front of other people and remain a deadly shadowy visage so long as you can pay the MP for it.
This leads to a ton of cool stealth puzzle opportunities that force you to figure out what the best course of action is in terms of moving between hidden bushes and buildings, using the cloak to fill in the blanks.
Read the full Assassin's Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington: The Infamy review
Star Wars Pinball (Google Play, iOS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Each table is chock full of beautiful art, character cameos, and tracks pulled straight from the films' soundtracks. These first three tables are a bold and equally stellar introduction to Star Wars Pinball, and they'll keep you more than busy until Zen Studios drops the next batch.
At about $10, this is a bit more expensive per table compared to the usual $10 for four tables, but the package is certainly worth the asking price. If you're not a fan of Star Wars, but love pinball (or vice versa), Star Wars Pinball will make you a fan. Zen Studios has created the most interesting and content-rich tables yet, with their obvious love of the source material piercing through each of the fantastically crafted tables.
Read the full Star Wars Pinball review
All of a sudden I was getting crashes every single mission, and to make matters worse, my saves were being corrupted. Most of the game is filled with "been there, done that" moments, but for me I literally had been there, playing that very mission, and I had to do it all over again. These aren't levels I wanted to do once, let alone twice. At this point, I should add, for the sake of transparency, that I failed to finish Impire's final mission. It crashed the first time I attempted it, then the second time it crashed and corrupted my save file. I packed it in at that point.
Read the full Impire review
Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Mac, PC, PlayStation Network, Wii U eShop, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS)
Runner2 feels like a very natural progression for the series. The team at Gaijin Games has crafted a more nuanced and impressive follow-up to what was great title in its own right. Avant-garde but with a healthy respect for the past, Runner2 is a marvelous rhythmic platformer that just about anyone should be able to enjoy.
Read the full Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien review
Everything else Destructoid reviewed:
Razer Orbweaver Gaming Keypad
All in all, I don't see myself using the Orbweaver for absolutely every game I own, but I keep it hooked up to my PC all the same, next to my keyboard. I've found that for basic image editing required for my writing career, and my frequent MMO habits, it suits my needs fairly frequently.
I've created a number of profiles for a few MMOs I play, and one for a few image touch-ups that I'll be using for the foreseeable future. If you don't play a lot of PC games I don't see a need for splurging here given the high price point, but for everyone else, it's a decent investment.
Read the full Razer Orbweaver Gaming Keypad review
Razer Taipan Gaming Mouse
The Razer Taipan is a great middle ground for those who like to play competitively, regardless of whether or no they're playing in actual tournaments. It's simple enough as to not be overwhelming, while at the same time having plenty of features that the more hardcore players want to see, such as quickly adjustable dpi settings and macros.
Read the full Razer Taipan Gaming Mouse review
The History of Sonic The Hedgehog
There is a delightfully optimistic tone throughout the book, even while discussing the less-than-stellar chapters in the Sonic saga -- I'm looking at you, Sonic 2006! I find that to be quite reflective of the Sonic fanbase, but in a good way. We know the series isn't the most consistent in quality, but ol' Mr. Needlemouse was once on top of the world, so there's no reason why he can't make a comeback as long as the passion remains.
The History of Sonic The Hedgehog is must-read for the diehards and lapsed fans. We may be unsure of where Sonic is heading, but I think we can all admire his storied journey.
Read the full The History of Sonic The Hedgehog review