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The games of March 2011

MARCH 29

Sniper: Ghost Warrior

Platform: PS3
EU release:Apr 15

The original versions of Sniper, on PC and 360, released in a buggy and unfinished state and received weak reviews. The PS3 version, however, includes all of the patch materials already released as well as some enhancements and additions not seen on other versions. The game is a sniper's wet dream (in theory, at least), involving lots of creeping around and sending bullets through noggins from half a mile away, so if this version gets it right, it could make wannabe assassins very happy.


WWE All-Stars

Platform: PS3, 360, Wii, PSP, PS2
EU release: Apr 1

Not that anyone would accuse the SmackDown series of being “too realistic,” but those games focus more on re-creating the televised experience than on the insane personalities. That’s where All Stars comes in, with wrestlers from the 80s, 90s, andthe presentlooking huger and more insane than ever before, pulling off impossible moves to the delight of the younger fan in all of us. And best of all, All Stars marks the first time in more than 15 years that Macho Man Randy Savage has appeared in a WWE game. Oh yeah!!!



Shift 2 Unleashed

Platform: PS3, 360
EU release: Apr 1

Shift 2 has dropped the Need for Speed moniker but is still very much an NFS game. It uses something its developers call “Drivers’ Battle” which basically means the racing is super gnarly. The AI has been worked over to seem human and aggressive, hopefully without being irritatingly so. It also features an insanely visceral in-cockpit camera that will try to make you feel as battered and heaved about as possible. The other new element is night racing, but it doesn’t just involve dimmed tracks you’re used to: they tried to get the headlights realistic, raising the tension even further. So far from what we’ve played they’ve managed a good balance between feeling out of control but actually still being in control.


NASCAR 2011 The Game

Platform: PS3

Fans of watching fast cars drive around in circles and crash violently will be happy to know that Activision has picked up the NASCAR license, which EA dropped nearly three years ago. NASCAR 2011 promises to err on the gearhead side of racing simulation, with endless customization options, re-creations of new real-world tracks and all the high-speed claustrophobia you’d expect from the sport.


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters

Platform: PS3, 360, Wii
EU release: Apr 1

The ultimate achievement in professional golf is going to a very specific golf course in Augusta, Georgia and winning the right to wear a very specific bright green jacket. Yet somehow, neither this course nor the Masters tournament it hosts have ever made it into a videogame – which seems exactly as sensible as leaving the Super Bowl out of Madden. That all changes this year, and it’s a big deal – this course has been fans’ most-requested improvement for years. On top of that, you’ve got legitimately smart caddies who will offer real advice on how to play each shot whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, mid-round saves (finally), better competitors, the ability to “choke up” on your clubs, and some very historic scenarios from Masters lore to re-create.

Darkspore

Platform: PC
EU release: Apr 1

Darkspore wants to fill the dungeon-crawler void before Dungeon Siege III and Diablo III hit, but it’s taking the unusual approach of a sci-fi world instead of the typical fantasy one. Its name comes from its use of the Spore Creature Creator to generate the heroes you control, but aside from the robust body modifications you can do, the gameplay is not like Spore at all. A purely PC point-and-click co-op action experience, you choose a squad of three heroes and land on planets to kill and loot to your heart’s content. A simple tap of a key swaps out one hero for another, and friends will be able to create squads that complement each other. To add further depth to the game, it also features a trading-card-like structure where you can gather hundreds of heroes and then mix and match them tocreate the ideal “deck” for each planet.



The 3rd Birthday

Platform: PSP
EU release: Apr 1

This is a sort of spin-off from the Parasite Eve series, taking heroine Aya Brea into the third-person shooter genre instead of following the series’ RPG roots. In the very near future, Aya is now part of the CTI – Counter Twisted Intelligence (the Twisted being a bunch of disturbingly-tentacled beasts) – and of course she's the only one who can use the organization'ssoul-transporting machine to "dive" into other people’s bodies- even if said bodies exist within the past.So there's a time-travel element on top of a possession element. Even if it turns out to be a good game, though, will its leap from RPG to third-person shooter turn people off? We wonder if the game will be yet another victim of the trend to take measured horror too far into the action realm.

Mar1, 2011

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