There's only three major games dropping this month - Dragon Age II, Crysis 2 and Yakuza 4 - but if you dig a bit deeper, there's nearly a dozen noteworthy titles coming our way. Some are downloadable fare, some are portable, some are HD up-ports of last-gen titles - and not all of these will suit every taste - but they say variety is the spice of life...
Dead Space 2: Severed
Hype-O-Meter: Day one.
It takes the protagonists from Dead Space: Extraction and places them on the Sprawl as Isaac is carrying out his journey - you spend this DLC desperately trying to get back to Lexine - and while that's all lovely, I don't need that information. I don't need to know how long it is (they haven't told us, yet) - all I need to know is that Dead Space 2 is one of the better games I've played in the past few years, and Severed is more Dead Space 2.
Beyond Good & Evil HD
I wonder if BG&E HD will sell well?
I hope so.
No doubt Ubisoft is using it as a dowsing rod to check for rich deposits of gamer passion, to legitimize financing further mining operations in the form of the previously teased Beyond Good & Evil 2.
If you're one of those folks who are hazily aware of the title without actually understanding why it's awesome... how to put it... it's got a mix of gameplay (none of which are an especially weak link) from racing to combat to stealth to shooting, old-school adventure game puzzle sensibilities, Zelda-like world progression, and a whole smattering of things that were way ahead of its time - but are, on the current gen, widely used. It's also got a great story, great characterizations and wonderful art direction.
I'll be waiting for the PSN release.
Dragon Age II
PS3, PC, 360
Hype-O-Meter: Day one.
BioWare could write its own check prior to the spectacular success of Mass Effect 2, and folks are expecting another phenomenal RPG when Dragon Age II drops.
It's abundantly clear to anyone who's played the Mass Effect games and the Dragon Age titles that the two franchises are being handled by different teams within BioWare - with Dragon Age being the weaker of the two in terms of production values and gameplay.
Dragon Age II ostensibly attempts to address this with a combat system that's been revamped for consoles, but it's yet to be seen if the change is enough - and if it will be a story worth telling. Still, BioWare has earned the faith of gamers - and this blogger.
Indie Diablolike darling Torchlight finally lands on consoles with this Xbox Live Arcade version - with major reported changes to the controls and even gameplay.
If this were on the PS3 I'd likely snap it up, but at this point I'll just wait. It'll either come to my console of choice, or I'll pick it up during some (impossible-to-forsee) future moment when I run out of other games to play.
I have never played a Yakuza game. This is directly at odds with my general tastes. It is nothing less than rich with Japanese flavor (which I adore), it's open-world (which I love), it has great production values (bonus!) and it's a story-driven action-RPG with a bunch of other crap to do (lovely!).
But I've never played a Yakuza game. I tried the demo for 3, didn't feel it was to my taste, and moved on. I don't know why I never took the plunge and bought one of the titles - perhaps just because I already love so many other franchises, I don't feel the need to add one to the pile.
Still, lots of other gamers in North America are in love with these games - more power to them - and I can do nothing but give a heartfelt thanks to SEGA for its continued localization of the franchise.
Hype-O-Meter: Don't let us down, Capcom.
Much like Valkyria Chronicles II, the sequel to masterpiece adventure game Okami being developed for a handheld is nothing short of a kick in the knickers.
Still, a DS sequel to one of the best games of the past ten years is infinitely better than no sequel at all - which is the hope I'll cling to until reviews, the insight of other gamers and perhaps even my own experience proves otherwise.
Yes, I think I do intend to buy Okamiden at launch - I'll do my part to show Capcom there's an audience for this franchise - but I also plan to throw it into a borrowed DS and see what, precisely, they've done with what could be Capcom's true, vital, valuable answer to The Legend of Zelda.
PS3, PC, 360
My internal Hype-O-Meter keeps ping-ponging back and forth between being bored by and totally wowed at Crysis 2. Recent reports that the PS3 version runs at slightly sub-HD resolutions (1024 x 720) have of course made waves - but c'mon, Red Dead Redemption was like x 640, and that game was still gorgeous.
I don't expect it'll be that big of a deal - assuming performance and gameplay remains intact - and we'll have another big name to add to a year that's already flush with quality shooters.
Tomb Raider Trilogy
Splinter Cell Trilogy
Continuing the trend Sony began with the God of War Collection - which Ubisoft picked up for the Prince of Persia Trilogy - we've got six "classic" games coming to PS3 with HD up-ports.
It's notable that the Tomb Raider trilogy contains only two last-gen titles (Anniversary and Legend), with the current-gen Tomb Raider: Underworld rounding out the three - which makes sense, as Underworld continues the narrative of Legend.
Still - I've already got all the Tomb Raider games - and I don't actually like them so much that I want to re-play them in HD. Splinter Cell is even less appetizing - I've never played an SC game I liked.
Speaking of which, I really should give Conviction a spin one of these days.
Hype-O-Meter (me): Meh.
Hype-O-Meter (everyone else): Day one.
The successor to the stratospherically successful Nintendo DS finally arrives next month, and I'm having a hard time caring.
It's got a reasonable launch lineup, but neither does it boast any games I desperately need to play.
Still, I'll be keeping my eyes open for an in-store display that will allow me to see for myself what all the journalists are talking about. I know the entire Japanese supply sold out in one day - but I'm not yet convinced Nintendo's latest foray into gimmickry will be as successful as the last... two times they did it.
The 3rd Birthday
The Parasite Eve franchise has been absent from gaming since 1999. Having never owned a PlayStation, I never played the first two titles - so the character and her world hold no sway over me.
I doubt I'll be picking it up. I already have a small backlog on my PSP, and Patapon 3 is coming next month - but if it actually turns out to be a fun, involving, capable shooter on Sony's little handheld, and not a title that merely coasts on the sizable fan support its been receiving - sure, I may give it a taste.
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Man, there's a lot more coming out in March than I thought. I'd better get Bulletstorm and Killzone 3 out of the way fast.