Ah, the wonders of March — when winter’s grasp begins to wane, the leaves return to trees and the temperature really starts to turn… well, in most areas. In the video-game world, the temperature is definitely raising a notch or two with some truly hot releases heading for store and online shelves. Scrolling through the list of titles scheduled for release, excitement for all the vid-heads (as opposed to Web-heads) in the crowd should be audible to anyone in the friendly neighborhoods they inhabit.
What’s the fuss? Well, let’s see: do you like action, adventure, the pure joy of America’s pastime or exploring the seedy underbelly of major cities. Maybe your cup of action-oriented tea involves taking arms against a sea of aliens and by opposing — end them! Apologies to William Shakespeare for the latter comment. From authentic reproductions of world cities to Major League ballparks, to the fanciful worlds of fantasy, March treads through first-person shooters, third-person sword and sorcery, animation certain to bring smiles to the face and action that gets the adrenalin pumping.
OK, the caveat is that there are many more titles releasing than the few mentioned here, but these are the ones that capture the essence of the month ahead.
Dragon Age 2 (PC, PS3, 360)
March 8, 2011
BioWare is back at it with the second in the “Dragon Age” franchise of single-player role-playing games. While it does not seem that the first title, Dragon Age: Origins, launched all that long ago — featuring anywhere from 80-120 hours of gameplay — “DA2” looks to continue the epic journey through the lands torn asunder by evil. “DA2” breaks some of the mold of the first, wherein players could create a character. In the coming release, players take the role of Hawke, a penniless character who must rise up to champion the world against the Blight. The story takes place over a 10-year period, features moral choices, asks players to draw allies to their sides and bringing life to the myth and rumor that swirls about the central character.
Homefront (360, PS3, PC)
March 15, 2011
THQ takes players into a bleak future for the United States in this first-person shooter. The year is 2027 and economics have crumbled in the aftermath of a decade-long energy crisis. The U.S. — targeted by North Korea — is a warzone. The single-player story was written by screenwriter John Milius (“Apocalypse Now,” “Red Dawn”), and also features what promises to be a robust multiplayer element.
MLB 11 The Show (PS3, PSP)
March 8, 2011
Sony Computer Entertainment’s baseball game has, arguably, become the top pro baseball simulation in the last few years. Not about to rest of its laurels, SCEA again swings for the fences with a slew of new features such as a Pure Analog Control System, which includes analog controls for hitting, pitching and throwing, adding more precision and accuracy to all three disciplines; a co-op mode for up to four players; new training modes in the Road to the Show mode; and a No Assist Fielding option aimed at rendering a more realistic experience. The PlayStation Move also gets a nod in the Home Run Derby Mode so players can take their cuts in a much more interactive way.
Yakuza 4 (PS3)
March 15, 2011
Four characters are central to the story in SEGA’s next installment in the “Yakuza” action franchise. The story takes place in a fully realized and authentic recreation of Tokyo’s “Sin-City District” and follows the storylines of the legendary Kazuma Kiryu, the loan shark Akiyama, escaped convict Saejima or Detective Tanimura. Players can visit night clubs, enjoy some karaoke, play pachinko or indulge in other adult entertainment between taking on the missions that drive players through the game’s story.
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (PS3, PC, Wii, PSP, DS, 360)
March 22, 2011
Built around the mythos of the animated television series, “LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars” includes all the characters from the series to date as well as some fan-favorite characters from the movie saga. There are new battle modes and an upgraded level builder, and players can take on the role of a Jedi or Separatist with new abilities. The player interface has been redesigned for easier access as well.
Crysis 2 (PC, PS3, 360)
March 22, 2011
Poor New York… whenever a crisis hits the U.S., it is the town most likely to take the brunt of it. In the sequel to Electronic Arts’ successful original game, aliens are stalking the streets and players must harness the power of the Nanosuit to repel the invading horde (a cliche, yes, but it just had to be used) and save the city. “Crysis 2” is one of those games with a ton of anticipation behind it, and the jury is still out whether it will live up to the hype. Judging from gameplay videos, its chances are definitely looking good.