August is upon us, and the CBR Games Roundup is back to take a look at this month’s video game offerings. After a fairly quiet July, August picks things up with a healthy dose of game releases, including a solid contingent of downloadable games. “Shank,” “Madden NFL 11,” “Metroid: Other M” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game” headline this month’s list of games.
Please remember this list is not inclusive of every game being released this month, and release dates are always subject to change.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (Xbox 360)–August 4 www.xbox.com/en-US/games/c/castlevaniahdxbla/
Take the classic platforming action the “Castlevania” series is known for, and combine it with 6-player online multiplayer. Add huge, sprawling levels and boss battles then sprinkle in a time limit, and you’ve got “Harmony of Despair.” Starring characters from previous “Castlevania” incarnations, this action game is designed to allow all six players to play together in a co-op story mode, or a versus mode called Survival. “Harmony of Despair” lets players zoom out and see the entire level map at once, then zoom back into the action, and all six players can be at different points in the map at once. There’s also a Ghost mode that allows you to upload your playthroughs and share them with friends so they can try and better your run through a map. “Harmony of Despair” will be part of Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade and carries a $15 price tag.
Madden NFL 11 (PS2/PS3/PSP/Wii/Xbox 360) – August 10 http://maddennfl.easports.com/
Along with the NFL preseason, the 22nd installment into the Madden franchise arrives in August. Aside from the usual yearly upgrades, this year’s game features whole new play calling system called GameFlow. The new system is designed to cut the time of each game in half, and involves the system calling plays for players to run based on the situation as well as player preferences. The result is less time spent in menus and a focus on the in-game action. Also new is the Online Team Play function, which supports 3 vs. 3 co-op play.
A demo of “Madden NFL 11” is currently available on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game (PS3/XBox 360) – August 10 www.ubi.com/US/Games/Info.aspx?pId=8847
Arriving a few days ahead of the feature film, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game” is a love letter to games from the 8-bit and arcade eras. Players will be able to select Scott Pilgrim, Stephen Stills, Kim Pine or Ramona Flowers and play through a storyline that follows the graphic novels. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the “Scott Pilgrim” books, the basic premise is that Scott falls for a girl named Ramona Flowers and then must fight her seven evil ex-boyfriends. The art style is very much in keeping with the books, and the brawler-style gameplay will evoke memories of “River City Ransom” and “Streets of Rage.” Each of the four characters will have distinct special moves, as well as the ability to call in a special attack from another character.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game” will be a timed-exclusive for the PlayStation Network, and will be released on Xbox Live two weeks later on August 25.
City of Heroes: Going Rogue (PC) – August 17 http://goingrogue.cityofheroes.com/en/
The latest expansion to the “City of Heroes” MMO brings a major change to how players can shape their characters. A new alignment system will allow players to change their character’s alignments, going from hero to villain, and vice versa. Change won’t be easy however, as players will have to complete a series of missions to move from their current alignment to neutral, and then all the way to the opposite alignment. A new region and four new power sets will also be included in the expansion.
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – August 17 www.kaneandlynch.com
In the first “Kane and Lynch,” players took on the role of Adam ‘Kane’ Marcus, a man forced to work with a psychopath named Lynch to retrieve stolen property for a mysterious organized crime group. This time around, Lynch is the main character, and the two are once again forced into a partnership as they face off against the Shanghai underworld. The third-person shooter is designed with co-op in mind, and the game’s presentation has a very “YouTube” look to it. The multiplayer mode “Fragile Alliance” makes a return from the first game, which puts players in heist situations and rewards them for escaping with the most money. In addition to fighting off the cops, players can turn on one another in an attempt to make off with more cash.
WildStorm is also launching a “Kane and Lynch” limited series this month with the first issue hiting store shelves August 4.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Xbox 360) – August 18 http://www.laracroftandtheguardianoflight.com/
The world famous raider of tombs is making a return to consoles this month, and she’s bringing a partner. “Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light” is a departure from the “Tomb Raider” series in more ways than one. The game features an isometric view, and it’s designed to be played alone or entirely in co-op mode. When Lara travels to the Temple of Light in search of an artifact, she’s ambushed by mercenaries and an evil entity is accidentally unleashed into the world. The temple’s Guardian of Light comes to life and enlists Lara’s aid in tracking down the evil entity and imprisoning it once again. The game is a mixture of platforming, puzzles and combat, and those playing together can compete for high scores as they make their way through the campaign.
“Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light” will be coming to the PC and PS3 in September.
Mafia II (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – August 24 www.mafia2game.com
Set in the fictional city of Empire Bay, “Mafia II” centers on World War II veteran Vito Scaletta, who comes home from the war and begins a rise to power in the city’s criminal underworld. The third-person action takes place in a 10-square mile city that is embroiled in a war between three crime families. Set in the 40’s and 50’s, the game will include over 50 licensed cars, as well as several songs from the era. As players progress through the game’s timeline, the look of the city and its features will evolve as well. Two downloadable content packs have already been announced for the game, the first of which is exclusive to the PS3 and will be available when the game is released. The second pack of DLC will hit all three platforms at a later date.
Shank (PS3/Xbox 360)–August 24 www.shankgame.com
This bloody 2D side scrolling brawler puts players in the role of Shank, a killing machine who has declared war on the criminal underworld. The game features a cartoon animation style, but “Shank” won’t be making any Saturday morning appearances, as it’s a gore-filled kill fest. Shank uses swards, guns, grenades, chainsaws as well as the environment to dispatch enemies. While the game’s campaign is a single-player affair, it was recently announced that a separate co-op campaign would be included in the game, which focuses on the backstory of “Shank.”
“Shank” will be released on August 24th on the PlayStation Network and a day later on Xbox 360.
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (Xbox 360)–August 31 www.deadrising-2.com
“Dead Rising 2” may have been pushed back to September, but Capcom is giving Xbox 360 owners something to tide them over. “Case Zero” takes place two years after the events of the original game, and introduces players to the sequel’s main character, Chuck Greene. The game is set in a small town called Still Creek, from which Chuck and his daughter are trying to escape. While the title functions as a standalone game, players can carry up to five levels of experience and any cash they earn into “Dead Rising 2.”
Guilty Party (Wii) – August 31
Form the developers of “Stubbs the Zombie” comes this “Clue”-styled party game from Disney, which is aimed at the entire family. Up to four players can participate as members of the Dickens family, who model themselves after characters like Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew. Players interrogate suspects, engage in minigames and search for clues in different locations to solve mysteries.
Metroid: Other M (Wii) – August 31 www.metroid.com
Samus is back in a game that picks up right after the events of the classic “Super Metroid.” Team Ninja (“Ninja Gaiden” “DOA”) worked with Nintendo on “Other M,” which combines both first and third-person elements based on how a player holds the Wiimote. The traditional “Metroid” gameplay is in effect while players hold the Wiimote horizontally – Samus can move around, go into morph ball mode, and fire her arm cannon. When players point the Wiimote toward the screen, the perspective shifts to first-person and Samus can target and fire missiles at enemies. Players will have to use specific attacks for certain enemies, which will mean switching between the two perspectives. As Team Ninja fans may expect, the game will be very action-oriented.
Valkyria Chronicles 2 (PSP) – August 31 http://www.sega.com/games/valkyria-chronicles-2/
In 2008, “Valkyria Chronicles” won critical acclaim for being one of the most unique games available for the PS3. Two years later, the sequel is looking to find the same critical (and hopefully more commercial) success on Sony’s handheld console. “Valkyria Chronicles 2” is a tactical roleplaying game that uses a hybrid of turn-based and realtime combat. Players can move their character freely during their turn, but have a pool of action points that deplete along the way. The game’s storyline takes place two years after the events of “Valkyria Chronicles” and follows a military cadet who is sent to the front lines in a time of civil war. In addition to the single-player campaign, the game will also feature local co-op modes.
That wraps up the CBR Games Roundup for August 2010. Next month begins the deluge of big games as we enter the Fall release calendar. “Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions,” “Halo: Reach” and “Civilization V” will be leading the way in September, and we’ll be back in a month to tell you all about them.