Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution
EU release: Mar 4
This stand-alone expansion to the small-squad focused RTS Dawn of War II will feature campaigns for all the existing races: Eldar, Orks, Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, and Tyranids, and also introduces a new race, the Imperial Guard. The campaign missions feature story-driven events, such as one we played recently where Exterminatus has been declared on a planet – as you can guess, it means the annihilation of everything alive on it – and so you must run from a spreading firestorm while fighting pockets of enemies. That mission captures the feel of Retribution as a whole: one of franticness, which is rare in RTS campaigns. Note that this game comes out on March 10 at most outlets, but GameStop has an exclusive deal to release it on March 1 in North America.
EU release: Mar 18
We’ve been guilting you into playing/buying/loving Okami since its sad 2006 debut, and it looks like you’re about to get a second chance – this DS-only sequel picks up where the beloved PS2 game left off, starring Amaterasu’s son, Chibiterasu, as he roams Nippon in search of evil spirits, ready to use his Celestial Brush powers to clean up a cursed world. We’ve spent several hours on the review build already, and while it may not live up to the lofty heights of the original, there’s an undeniable cuteness and adoration for this world and its inhabitants, plus a sizable helping of good vibes for restoring a poisoned world to a beautiful state. If you enjoyed the first as much as we did, definitely give this a look. Still holding out? Probably be better to pick up the original (YOU MONSTER) and get familiar.
Platform: PS3, 360, PC
While we can’t help but be a little wary about a medium-profile game that sets its sights as high as Homefront, we’re more than a little excited for it. Not so much because of what it might bring to the FPS genre, but because it promises to tell a somber, horrifying story of war and brutal occupation in a near-future America (penned by John Milius, author of Red Dawn) from the perspective of a ragtag group of civilian resistance fighters. Sort of like the paranoid fantasy of a zombie-survival game, but with armed, propaganda-wielding North Korean soldiers in place of the undead, and it becomes irresistible. Also it promises to have a fairly ridiculous multiplayer filled with remote-controlled helicopter drones, and that’s cool by us.
God Eater Burst
Yet another game attempting to capitalize on Monster Hunter’s success, Gods Eater Burst brings more mission-based monster hunting with four player co-op to the PSP. The game’s monsters, called Aragami, have swarmed over the world. Special weapons called God Arcs, capable of taking Aragami down, have been developed, and of course you get to use one of these weapons to save the world. Your character has two main weapons, but your third weapon is used to consume a staggered or fallen enemy, absorbing their powers. Eating monsters’ powers fills your Burst meter, which you can use in a pinch for even more ass-kicking.
Jikandia: The Timeless Land
Taking on a decidedly old-fashioned look, Jikandia reminds us of early games on the Sega Master System with its 2D side-scrolling approach to the JRPG. The game’s story and play mechanics revolve around time: the setting is a world where the inhabitants never knew a concept of time, living in a frozen state of bliss until (naturally) horrible monsters came along and made time flow forward. One of the key features of the game is that before you tackle a dungeon you can choose your own time limit, and different times change up the features and rewards of the dungeon, allowing for self-styled challenge and replayability. There’s also a four-player ad-hoc battle mode where players use traps to outwit each other.
Top Spin 4
Platform: PS3, 360, Wii
EU release: Mar 18
The Top Spin series has always leaned more toward sports simulation than arcade-style simplicity, but the latest entry is aiming to capture the coveted “accessible yet deep” gameplay that companies other than Nintendo always struggle with. The controls allow for approachability by placing the main moves - spins, lobs, smashes and slices – on the face buttons, but then allowing for more complex moves like switching feet with use of the shoulder buttons. It’s a clever way of allowing casual players to dip their feet in while the more hardcore gamers can wade into the deep end quickly. Whether they can pull off this delicate balance and not drive away one (or both) end of the skill spectrum will remain to be seen until we can review it.
EU release: Mar 18
Bringing back the main character from the last game, Yakuza 4 attempts to weave a more complex tale by introducing three new playable characters and then taking the player on a journey to discover how these four people’s lives intertwine in the crime world. Not only will these four characters have their own stories to follow, but they’ll also each fight differently so the game constantly changes up the core combat. Another feature that fans of the series were apparently screaming for and didn’t get in Yakuza 3 was the availability of Hostess clubs, so yeah if you ever wanted to virtually pay women to flirt with you but never give up the goods, that desire will soon be fulfilled.
Shogun 2: Total War
EU release: Mar 15
We can’t wait for future Japan to arrive, with its skies crowded by flying mechs and impossibly endowed babes with Easter egg-colored hair everywhere we look. But ancient Japan wasn’t too shabby either, what with the constant samurai swordfights and ninjas hucking shuriken all over the place. And that’s why you should be aware of this shogun-era battlefield simulation. Yes, it’s tactical, and you’re moving whole battalions around instead of slaughtering the entire enemy army all by yourself. But no other game gives you battles that feel so epic and expansive. It’s like sushi-fueled Braveheart. Oh, it also just scored a 92% from PC Gamer. So there’s that.
Motorcycles. Lots of ‘em, and specifically those kicky-slick racing bikes whose riders have to wear metal kneepads to keep from scraping their patellas off onto the pavement. That’s what you’re going to get in MotoGP 10/11, the latest entry in a long-running, two-wheeled racing series. This year’s entry looks to get deeper, with the most realistic physics and handling yet, but also more noob-friendly thanks to several auto-assists that can be toggled on if you’re sucking it up. Multiplayer is big too. Online, you’ve got 20-player races. Offline, there’s a split-screen co-op career mode, which we guarantee will be either brilliant or boneheaded.
Warriors: Legends of Troy
Platform: PS3, 360
EU release: Mar 11
Perhaps you’re getting tired of the Warriors franchise, but what if it was a bit bloodier and starred all your favorite characters from Greek mythology? Yes, Legends of Troy has Achilles, Ajax, Hector, Agamemnon, and others battling it out as your 12th grade world literature class comes to life on your TV screen. We’re not saying the game should be played in place of having to read Homer’s The Iliad, but it’s got to be more fun than reading the Cliff Notes.