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Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Dirt 2 is still one of the prettiest, fastest, bestest racing games to hit consoles this generation, and Dirt 3 has a lot of work to do if it’s going to meet our high expectations... and one of Dirt 3’s main draws is snow? Yep. It’d be really easy to make fun of this if our inner rally-racing nerd wasn’t speechlessly giddy about the notion of tearing up a powdered trail, slipping on ice, and smashing into snow banks. Gymkhana racing debuts here as well, which, when combined with snow, has that inner rally-racing nerd weak in the knees – the hardcore, time-based race variant requires plenty of skill for hardcore perfectionists. To say we’re excited about another Dirt game would be an understatement. This is, in all likelihood, going to destroy our summer free time.
EU: May 20
After a few years on hiatus, Team Ninja’s bringing back Dead or Alive. Yes, we know DOA hit the PSP in the form of a game you’re meant to masturbate to, but this is the real deal, the good stuff...y’know, people pulverizing each other. (But, as if you thought it wouldn’t, DOA has a photo mode for snapping sexy photos of nearly-naked fighters.) The coolest feature here is the StreetPass implementation. Dead or Alive: Dimensions builds an A.I. fighter based on how you perform during matches and offloads it on to other player’s systems. DOA is looking to give Street Fighter IV a run for its money – it also includes online multiplayer and a boost to 60 frames per second when 3D is disabled. It will take a lot to topple its biggest competition, but Dimensions at least has the upper hand in terms of game mode quantity.
EU: Nobody in the UK cares about Nascar
Nascar, huh? We’re expecting plenty of turning left, now featuring mediocre graphics and inappropriate motion controls. Oh, that’s not fair. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of Nascar 2011 was received much higher than we expected it might be. Why it’s releasing on Wii more than a month after its counterparts is anybody’s guess, but assuming it retains the core driving that reinforced its initial release, this could be a strong racing game on Wii for the die-hard pro racing fans. The biggest downside is a typical Wii fumble: No online multiplayer.
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS
EU: June 10
The first Kung Fu Panda game was a surprisingly decent action game (although let’s be real – most of us played it for the easy Gamerscore), and Kung Fu Panda 2 is actually a surprisingly ambitious follow-up. The Xbox 360 version of the kids’ movie tie-in employs Kinect, enabling players to punch crocodiles in the balls like they’ve never punched croc balls before, and you can use your uDraw Tablet to customize levels on the Wii. Fancy. As for the PS3 version, well, it sure looks like a Kung Fu Panda 2 video game adaptation. Fancy? Here’s hopin’.
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
EU: June 3
You like Gears of War, do ya? Splendid. Then Hunted: The Demon’s is right up your alley, provided you’re into elves and skeletons and all that other fantasy shenaniganry. The over-the-shoulder action game trades chainsaw-bayonets for straight-up swords and sorcery, but bows and arrows should fill the void of the missing machine guns. Each of the main characters – a human barbarian and a lady-elf archer – have distinct weapons and abilities, and co-op partners can swap between ‘em mid-mission to mix things up. Its dark story centers on slavery, so, uh, expect it to be a bit of a grim ride.
Platform: PSP, 3DS
Torn on which version of the sequel to one of the most visually arresting, incomprehensible fighters around? Here’s the skinny: One of them is in 3D, and the other one is on the PSP. Really, the core content of BlazBlue Continuum Shift II is the same. The main advantage for 3DS is that the move inputs are displayed on the bottom screen. It’s a retooled, rebalanced version of a terrific fighting game, and from the sounds of things, you can’t really go wrong with either version if you’re in the market for some nonsensical, beautiful fisticuffing.
May 2, 2011