The games of March 2011

More games this month than you can shake a 3DS at

March is going to be a big month for games - not necessarily for quality, but certainly for quantity. And of course, the biggest deal in the month is the launch of the 3DS on the 27th, along with a slew of titles to accompany this fancy-dancy new hardware. Despite this successor system's arrival, there are a few regular DS games coming out, so despair not if you don't have the cash to move over to the new eye-straining tech. Pickings are a bit slimmer for PC, PS3, and 360 games, but there are what appear to be a few gems to consider.


MARCH 1



Rift

Platform: PC
EU release: Mar 4

Yet another attempt to challenge World of Warcraft’s supremacy (the TV commercials even say “We’re not in Azeroth anymore”), Rift attempts to shake up MMO tropes with a couple of interesting ideas. The main draw of the game is its signature rifts, which mean that at any given time, anywhere in the world, a portal can open and an army from another dimension will invade, bringing players together to fight off different types of armies. The other main feature is what it calls the “Ascended Soul system” which basically means you can create your own custom class instead of being stuck to the usual tank, healer, etc. of other MMOs.

Yet another attempt to challenge World of Warcraft’s supremacy (the TV commercials even say “We’re not in Azeroth anymore”), Rift attempts to shake up MMO tropes with a couple of interesting ideas. The main draw of the game is its signature rifts, which mean that at any given time, anywhere in the world, a portal can open and an army from another dimension will invade, bringing players together to fight off different types of armies. The other main feature is what it calls the “Ascended Soul system” which basically means you can create your own custom class instead of being stuck to the usual tank, healer, etc. of other MMOs.


Fight Night Champion

Platform: PS3, 360
EU release: Mar 4

This one hit so early in the month that we already posted our review and we thought the M-Rated redefinition of the series was pretty good. The graphics are still top of the line, especially in the “sweat exploding off of a dude’s head” department, and even if the controls are a little simpler than die-hard fans would like, it’s still a fun time. You can read the full reviewhere.

This one hit so early in the month that we already posted our review and we thought the M-Rated redefinition of the series was pretty good. The graphics are still top of the line, especially in the “sweat exploding off of a dude’s head” department, and even if the controls are a little simpler than die-hard fans would like, it’s still a fun time. You can read the full reviewhere.


Rango

Platform: PS3, 360, Wii, DS
EU release: Feb 25

Based on the upcoming animated movie about a lizard in a sort of Wild West scenario, Rango is a third-person action platformer with tons of collectibles, similar to Jak and Daxter or Ratchet & Clank. The game jumps quickly from theme to theme between levels, with fights using exploding golf balls against zombies, Sonic-style rail-sliding down pipes, and exploration of a bizarre 8-bit style world full of pixelated blocks. Of course, it also aims to capture the movie’s humor with Rango’s quips as he offs the bad guys.


Dead Space 2: Severed DLC

Platform: PS3, 360
EU release: Mar 2

You’ve probably beaten the campaign at least once in Dead Space 2, but don’t put it on the shelf just yet, as the first real DLC for the title is here. Severed is also set on the Sprawl as you take control of Security officer Gabe Weller, a main character from the prequel (of the first game) Dead Space: Extraction, as he feverishly tries to save his lady friend as the entire city falls apart around him. The devs promise two complete new chapters of horrific fun, and we’ll let you know how it is real soon.

You’ve probably beaten the campaign at least once in Dead Space 2, but don’t put it on the shelf just yet, as the first real DLC for the title is here. Severed is also set on the Sprawl as you take control of Security officer Gabe Weller, a main character from the prequel (of the first game) Dead Space: Extraction, as he feverishly tries to save his lady friend as the entire city falls apart around him. The devs promise two complete new chapters of horrific fun, and we’ll let you know how it is real soon.

MARCH 6

Pokemon Black/White

Platform: DS
EU release: Mar 4

We have anentire weekly podcastdevoted to Pokemon, so yeah – it’s fair to say we’re pretty into this one. So forgive us if we sound like a broken record when we say this is not just some cutesy little “collect all the critters and love them and hug them” game. Pokemon is a massive RPG whose deceptively simple premise and oft-adorable art style masks an astoundingly deep battle system. There are dozens of elemental “types”, hundreds of attacks, and you can train new fighters for your hundreds-deep stable literally from birth. And if you’re already a convert, you’ve gotta be frothing at the mouth at the added features this time around: seasonal changes, more than 150 new pokemon (including new types like psychic/fire and dragon/electric), new three-on-three and “rotational” battles, and more.

We have anentire weekly podcastdevoted to Pokemon, so yeah – it’s fair to say we’re pretty into this one. So forgive us if we sound like a broken record when we say this is not just some cutesy little “collect all the critters and love them and hug them” game. Pokemon is a massive RPG whose deceptively simple premise and oft-adorable art style masks an astoundingly deep battle system. There are dozens of elemental “types”, hundreds of attacks, and you can train new fighters for your hundreds-deep stable literally from birth. And if you’re already a convert, you’ve gotta be frothing at the mouth at the added features this time around: seasonal changes, more than 150 new pokemon (including new types like psychic/fire and dragon/electric), new three-on-three and “rotational” battles, and more.

MARCH 8

MLB 11 The Show

Platform:PS3, PS2, PSP

One of two baseball offerings swinging for the fences this year, the big appeal of the MLB series is always its career mode, which chronicles the efforts of your created player, all the way from the minor leagues to (hopefully) his World Series victory. But there are plenty of new features competing for players’ attention this year as well. An all-analog control scheme has some players concerned and others (mostly those who’ve played the demo) crowing with excitement. And MLB’s developers do an admirable job of customizing the game for each platform. The PS3 version will feature Move support, the PSP version has ad-hoc multiplayer, and the PS2 version actually exists. Wow.


Major League Baseball 2K11

Platform: PS3, 360, PC, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP

Arriving on every major platform, the 2K11 series is the only licensed baseball game for systems whose manufacturer’s name doesn’t end in “ony”. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a team full of scrubs.The career mode is aiming to match the depth and interest of the competing “MLB XX The Show” franchise, and each player’s in-game stats will update daily, corresponding with the performance of his real-world counterpart. Not that hardcore? Check out the Wii version’s “Mini-Diamond” mode, which basically pours on the crazy sauce with strange, mini-golf-inspired venues such as a low-gravity ballpark with a space theme.

Arriving on every major platform, the 2K11 series is the only licensed baseball game for systems whose manufacturer’s name doesn’t end in “ony”. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a team full of scrubs.The career mode is aiming to match the depth and interest of the competing “MLB XX The Show” franchise, and each player’s in-game stats will update daily, corresponding with the performance of his real-world counterpart. Not that hardcore? Check out the Wii version’s “Mini-Diamond” mode, which basically pours on the crazy sauce with strange, mini-golf-inspired venues such as a low-gravity ballpark with a space theme.

Dragon Age II

Platform: PS3, 360, PC
EU release: Mar 11

Dragon Age took the typical BioWare approach to story and character and brought it into a world it hadn’t tried yet: an original high fantasy setting. With Dragon Age II the devs are aiming to make the entire formula more refined: combat will be more fluid, aggressive, and faster paced. But this being a BioWare title, the quality of the story is still the main focus – and the devs are exploring new directions for how to tell the tale of Dragon Age II’s new protagonist, Hawke. This time you won’t be creating a character from scratch, but instead tweaking this existing person to be what you want. The aim is to give your character an identity more grounded in the world and the story.

Dragon Age took the typical BioWare approach to story and character and brought it into a world it hadn’t tried yet: an original high fantasy setting. With Dragon Age II the devs are aiming to make the entire formula more refined: combat will be more fluid, aggressive, and faster paced. But this being a BioWare title, the quality of the story is still the main focus – and the devs are exploring new directions for how to tell the tale of Dragon Age II’s new protagonist, Hawke. This time you won’t be creating a character from scratch, but instead tweaking this existing person to be what you want. The aim is to give your character an identity more grounded in the world and the story.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: Da Vinci Disappearance DLC

Platform: PS3, 360

Assassin’s Creed fans who’ve sampled everything Rome has to offer will want to keep an eye out for this DLC, which adds a new single-player storyline (complete with new Achievements/Trophies) in which Ezio tries to track down Leonardo da Vinci after the artist is kidnapped by the shadowy Hermeticist cult.The expansion also brings a handful of add-ons for multiplayer, including four new characters, a new map (Spain’s famous Alhambra) and two new modes, Escort (essentially a VIP mode) and Assassinate (deathmatch). For $10 (or 800 MS Points), it seems like a pretty good deal.

Assassin’s Creed fans who’ve sampled everything Rome has to offer will want to keep an eye out for this DLC, which adds a new single-player storyline (complete with new Achievements/Trophies) in which Ezio tries to track down Leonardo da Vinci after the artist is kidnapped by the shadowy Hermeticist cult.The expansion also brings a handful of add-ons for multiplayer, including four new characters, a new map (Spain’s famous Alhambra) and two new modes, Escort (essentially a VIP mode) and Assassinate (deathmatch). For $10 (or 800 MS Points), it seems like a pretty good deal.

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