The games of April 2011

Slim pickings this month, but there are a few gems shining in the dark

March had a crap-ton of game releases and included no less than the monumental launch of the 3DS, even if the launch games were a bit underwhelming. April, we're sorry to say, isn't looking much better. Oh, wait, no April is looking worse. Yep, definitely worse, at least as far as sheer quantity of choices. Still, there are a handful of releases amongst the slightly larger handful overall that are worth your attention. Mortal Kombat and Portal 2 are the highest-profile releases, but there are also some potentially interesting lesser-known titles that we'll let you know about, right about, oh, now...



Platform: PSN
EU release:Already available

In this Move- and 3D-enabled PSN release, players are tasked with navigating a surreal universe to collect pieces of something called Equilibrix in order to restore the (duh) equilibrium of space and thwart evil aliens called the G-Noids from conquering the universe. The trick is that you never stop moving, and the more stuff you pick up, the faster you’ll go. So it’s more of a collect-a-thon than a shooter. It sports over fifty puzzle-based levels, and for eight bucks, it will probably get picked up in more than a few impulse buys.


The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile

EU release:Apr 6

A sequel to the original Dishwasher, Vampire Smile is a fast-paced, side-scrolling hack-and-slasherin the same gory, grimy style. You'll control a variety of characters, including the original samurai's sister, who has a chainsaw attached to her arm and canperform the "blood warp" which is a nifty way of animating a fast dodge move - but it's central to the gameplay, with the playerzipping all over the screenwith crazy-fast dashes and of course dishing out crazy combos. Enemy designs are truly amusing and bizarre, like one boss we saw that was an undead killer whale grafted onto robot legs, appearing like a nightmare version of ED-209.


Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D

Platform: 3DS
EU release:Already available

Sam Fisher is on his way to the Korean peninsula in this 3DS adventure. We don't know much about the gameplay, but we do know it's supposed to feature new toys to play with like fusion goggles (whatever that is), wall mines,and smoke and gas grenades. There's also a lock picking minigame that uses the new Slide Pad to "mimic the realism of lock picking." Hackinginto various electronic deviceshas been upgraded to somehow involve "interactive 3D puzzles," so we're hoping the 3D will actually add something to the gameplay instead of just looking neat.


Patapon 3

Platform: PSP
EU release: Apr 15

In a significant departure from previous games in the series, Patapon 3 sees the fierce Patapon tribe turned into stone by evil spirits, and replaced onscreen with a single, super-powered hero. While controlling the Superhero Patapon, you’ll be able to command a squad of three other warriors with drumbeats, or – and this appears to be the real focus of the game – you can replace them with your friends via an ad-hoc connection and tackle the world’s monsters as a team. Factor in a flashier new art style, and this could be even more interesting than its quirky predecessors.

Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga

Platform: 360
EU release:Already available

Divinity II probablyflew under a lot of players' radar - the franchise is better known in Europe, but the sequel didn't get stellar reviews. It's too bad, because it's a cool idea: in addition to the typical RPG tropes, your character can eventually transform into a dragon. We wish more games let us turn into dragons. The Dragon Kight Saga is a bit of a re-release of Divinity II, with new content, an improved engine, and it includes the Flames of Vengeanceexpansion.In total the remastered game claims to offer over 100 hours of gameplay - let's just hope it's a worthy investment of time.

Elements of War

Platform: PC
EU release: Apr 15

Elements of Waris an RTSset in 2022,where military experiments involving dangerous climate-changing weaponry have caused violent weather shiftsthat are destroying much ofcivilization. With the Whitehouse in shambles, the US Army assumes control over what’s left of America. The trick in gameplay terms is that during your RTS battles you'll be able to control the elements: tanks can launch tornadoes or other environmental weapons. The game also has some goofy humor thanks to the Russian developers, who have a pretty funny take on American culture.

LEGO Battles: Ninjago

Platform: DS
EU release: Apr 15

This RTS-ish series now enters the NinjagoLEGO world. The story is thatthe golden weapons of Spinjitzu -the Scythe of Quakes, the Nunchucks of Lightning, the Shurikans of Ice and the Sword of Firemust be collected from across the land.You get to choose to be the good guys or the bad buys and build an army of heroes,and race against theevil Lord Garmadon to collect the golden weapons first,or join Lord Garmadon’s evil Skeleton Army. We don't know much about the game beyond the premise, but the look is certainly cute, colorful, and bright.

Man vs Wild

Platform: PS3, 360,Wii
EU release:TBA

On one hand, we enjoy watching Bear Grylls’ faintly harrowing Man vs Wild series, and being forced to find inventive ways to survive after getting lost in the wild seems like a pretty solid basis for a game. On the other hand, we suspect this one may be aimed at people who found Lost: Via Domus to be far too amazing for their tastes.

TrackMania Turbo: Build to Race

EU release: Already available

In case you don't know what this is, TrackMania is a series of games that started on PC and moved to various platforms, and this is the sequel to a previous DS version. TrackMania's premise is that you get an extremely robust track editor to build and share your own dream track designs, and while the physics aren't totally unrealistic, they do allow you to put some crazy structures into your tracks, as can be seen above. The latest version also provides 150 pre-built tracks to race on, plus new environments and vehicles. If you love to design race tracks (and who wouldn't?) then you might want to give this a look.

Michael Jackson: The Experience

Platform: PS3, 360
EU release: Apr 15

After appearing on Wii, PSP and DS last November, Ubisoft’s Michael Jackson-themed Just Dance variation is finally bringing the Gloved One’s music to Kinect- and Move-enabled consoles. Unsurprisingly, the original sold like crazy despite tepid reviews (the Wii version scraped by with an average score of 56on Metacritic), but it’s possible that five months and shinier motion controllers could make a big difference. If you’re a huge fan of Jackson and his music, however, that may not even matter.


Platform: PS3, 360, DS, Wii
EU release: Apr 8

Rio is an upcoming animated movie about some tropical birds or something. We have no interest in it whatsoever. Naturally it has the obligatory movie tie-in game, and naturally it's hitting a number of platforms to obtain proper saturation of the market. The game is a compilation of minigames, featuring what else - birds. The game claims to sport 40 minigames, although many of these are really just slight variations on the same game. It's for the kids, so what can you do? If you know a little tyke who loves the movie you'll probably have to buy this for them.


Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes

Platform: PSN, XBLA
EU release: Apr 14

This version of Might and Magic, which was originally on the DS, has a different take on its combat from the standard approach of the series.In a fashion similar toPuzzle Quest, the key is matching three of a kind.Join three of the same-colored troopsvertically and they’ll combine and attack; match three horizontally and they’ll form a protective barrier. It's a simple setup that makes battles terribly addictive. We loved the DS version, so the PSN/XBLA version has our hopes up.

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