The games of May 2012

Big franchises come out to play as summer inches closer

May 8

Starhawk

Platform: PlayStation 3
EU: May 11

Warhawk might've lacked story and context, but as a big online multiplayer affair, it sure was satisfying. Spiritual sequel Starhawk aims to maintain those strong feelings as it pushes the blend of on-foot and vehicle action into a new sci-fi setting, while also digging into a fresh narrative realm. Starhawk tells a story – one of precious resources dividing factions in the game – but what's excited us the most so far through our early previews and beta matches is the scale of the battles, and how you can build fortifications on the fly to aid your team in interstellar combat. And ships that transform into walking mechs? That's a no-lose addition in our book.

Phantom Breaker

Platform: Xbox 360
EU: TBA

If you're of the mindset that you really can't ever have enough Japanese fighting games starring cute, anime-inspired combatants, then perhaps Phantom Breaker should be on your agenda. Created by 5pb, the studio behind Corpse Party and a shocking number of games that weren't localized outside of Japan, Phantom Breaker spotlights a fighting tournament in which the winner will get his or her wish granted; so naturally, the participants include a maid, a swordsman, and a handful of really, really young-looking girls. The hand-drawn animations look slick, though, plus the game includes online play and a separate story for each fighter.

Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen

Platform: PC, Mac
EU: TBA

Chances are many of you will know simply from the title that you're not interested in this, the 26th such Nancy Drew adventure game to launch since 1998. But the girl detective series has a strong, dedicated following – which explains why Her Interactive can sustain making about two of these per year. Tomb of the Lost Queen looks to carry on the approach of its predecessors, but it does so via a revitalized interface and graphics engine for what publisher Her Interactive calls the "most richly detailed Nancy Drew mystery ever," with a storyline set in Egyptian tombs and conversational choices that can shape your quest.

May 9

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
EU: May 9

First revealed at E3 last year, Minecraft is finally coming to Xbox Live Arcade next week, several months after the official PC release launched after an extended public beta period. The Xbox 360 release is actually based on the PC beta version (1.6.6) that was live back at E3, so you won't find the Creative mode nor content added after that point in the beta or final releases, plus the promised Kinect support is still somewhere off on the horizon. But it's Minecraft on a console, using a controller, with four-player split-screen support and the ability to link up online to build together in your block-based randomized worlds. Minecraft is a massive PC sensation for a reason, and now Xbox 360 owners can get a taste of what the fuss is all about.

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