The games of May 2012

Big franchises come out to play as summer inches closer

May 15

Max Payne 3

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (May 29)
EU: May 18 (PC: June 1)

It's been a very long time coming – even longer than expected, following spans in the last couple years when it's faded from view – but Max Payne 3 is finally around the corner, and most indications are that it will be another slick and satisfying Rockstar affair. Payne himself is decidedly more beaten down by his past than ever, fighting alcoholism as he works in private security for a wealthy family in São Paulo, Brazil, but despite the change in scenery (and developer; Remedy's out), you can expect a lot of the same bullet time shenanigans and cinematic storytelling as we've seen before. And the multiplayer modes we've played thus far really seem to keep with the series' unique flavor, and feel like a natural extension of the existing formula.

Diablo III

Platform: PC, Mac
EU: May 15

Diablo III has been on the horizon for some time. In fact, we have a preview from more than three years ago that calls it "one of the biggest games of 2009." Despite the shocking lapse of time, Blizzard's latest has only picked up more and more buzz as it nears its concrete May 15 launch, which has only been stoked by a long-running and seemingly wide-ranging beta test. We recently previewed the game based off of the beta test, detailing the characters, auction house, and achievements found in the pre-release version, but the final game will offer so much more. And considering the beloved status of this dungeon-crawling RPG franchise, it's sure to be another smash for Blizzard.

Game of Thrones

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
EU: June 1

Last year's middling A Game of Thrones: Genesis didn't quite live up to the lofty expectations set by George R.R. Martin's beloved books and the smash HBO series that followed, but perhaps Atlus' new effort will come closer to the quality of the source material. Game of Thrones is an action-oriented RPG that reportedly features a 30-hour quest written with the help of Martin – one that highlights a new storyline within the saga, wherein two ex-soldiers in Robert's Rebellion chart opposite paths. And this might be the first game in which slowdown is a good thing; the game promises an "active slowdown tactical combat engine" that promises to capture the series' "thoughtful approach to war and politics."

Battleship

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS
EU: Out

Battleship the board game features plastic pegs and an iconic catch phrase. Battleship the Hollywood movie stars Riggins from Friday Night Lights and looks like the latest entry in the Transformers franchise. Guess which one the licensed video game is based on? Amazingly, it's both. While primarily a first-person shooter in which you'll blast alien foot soldiers on land in a prelude to the film, Battleship also includes a tactical grid map where you can align ships to support you with artillery strikes and such. And sure enough, the map screen bears a strong resemblance to the old game boards. With luck, typical movie adaptation issues won't sink this Battleship.

Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
EU: TBA

Last year's Test Drive Unlimited 2 seemed to hit retail with a thud, despite building upon the winning open-world approach of its predecessor, so Atari is heading in a different direction with Ferrari Racing Legends – albeit one familiar in approach to older series entries. In place of large settings are closed-circuit races focused entirely on the car catalog of the iconic vehicle manufacturer, and though the series returns to the individual race approach that powered past titles, it has a secret weapon in tow: Shift 2: Unleashed developer, Slightly Mad Studios. Hopefully, the winning mechanics from the studio's Need for Speed entries will transition over to match up with the thrilling vehicles held within.

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