E3 kicks off next week, which means we'll all be spending the coming weeks glimpsing at the biggest releases of the next couple years – but don't forget about the games that are actually shipping this month! June has a diverse mix of titles on display, from anticipated originals to new franchise extensions, not to mention a summer-ready stack of licensed games and several affordable re-releases of existing favorites. We may have less time to play the latest and greatest new releases as we're running around and preparing coverage this month, so do us a favor and pick up the slack, huh?
Max Payne 3
EU: June 1
Max Payne 3 brought the thunder on consoles last month, scoring an impressive 10/10 in our lengthy review, and the PC version was originally slated for release two weeks later – until it was pushed back a few days to kick off June instead. Be sure to consult our console review for the full skinny on the action protagonist's return to gaming, which shines thanks to excellent gunplay that straddles the line between modern sheen and the classic feel, as well as tremendous presentational quality and entertaining online combat. With luck, the late PC version will be just as fantastic an iteration as its console siblings.
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
It's certainly strange to see a full-priced retail shooter from a big publisher show up on the release schedule just days from release with very little recent promotion, but that seems to be the case with Inversion. Originally slated for release a couple years back, the third-person shooter affair – which hails from TimeShift developer Saber Interactive – lets you play with gravity and twist the environments around as you blast enemies in a Gears of War-esque approach. It's an interesting premise, and should bring some unique twists to multiplayer, though the muted impending launch in the States has us wondering just what to expect from this long-delayed release.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
Platform: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade (June 6)
EU: June 5
Five years after the vanilla retail editions of Virtua Fighter 5 hit consoles, Sega is back with a notably upgraded version of the genre favorite – and considering the lapse in time, a discounted Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network release seems like the right move here. Final Showdown brings online play to both consoles (it was previously absent on PS3) and also adds a pair of fighters – Taka-Arashi from VF3 and fresh face Jean Kujo – as well as two new stages. Balance tweaks are also in the offing, and if the $14.99 download doesn't pack enough to sate your Virtua Fighter fandom, multiple customization packs will also be sold at launch.
Madagascar 3: The Video Game
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, DS
Big family-friendly movies typically spawn multiplatform game adaptations, and Madagascar 3 is no exception. Seeing as much of the talking-animal animated sequel takes place in a circus, the game seems to center around a selection of themed mini-games, from walking a tightrope to soaring through hoops after being launched from a cannon or collecting items while bouncing on trampolines. With multiple playable characters and co-op play, the game may well sate die-hard (child) fans of the series, though it doesn't look to be aiming much higher than the average film-based kids' game.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
EU: June 8
Several months after its multiplatform debut and a few since its Vita launch, Rayman Origins concludes its victory lap on the Nintendo 3DS, with a cheaper ($29.99) release that looks to maintain much of what made the gorgeous 2D platformer such a winner on other systems. As with the PlayStation Vita release, Rayman Origins sheds its four-player co-op approach for handheld release, focusing only on the solo experience. On the flipside, the wonderful side-scroller has another shot at hooking fans with a lower price, and the addition of the system's 3D effect will hopefully add even more depth to the stunning visuals.
The Sims 3: Katy Perry Sweet Treats
EU: June 8
Maybe pop star Katy Perry's appearance in March's The Sims 3: Showtime (and her special themed edition) wasn't enough. Maybe you're the type to sing along with her smash hits in Simlish. Or perhaps you're just a fan of awkward game titles, packed so full of innuendo that they seem ready to burst. Whatever the case, the Katy Perry Sweet Treats pack for The Sims 3 is a $30 retail expansion that adds themed content to the game, such as items and equipment, as well as three new venues and a version of "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" recorded in the game's fictional lingo. Enjoy it, whoever you are.