It's the first week of March, and it's time to take a look at the games you should have your eye on. Whether you're a PC, console, or handheld gamer, you're likely to find something interesting. Here are some of the biggest game releases scheduled for March 2011:
- Rift [PC] - March 1st
You've heard of World of Warcraft (unless you're living under a rock). Well, Rift is the newest fantasy MMO (massively-multiplayer online) game that's touted to give World of Warcraft a run for its money. For those unfamiliar with the genre, MMOs are games which take place in a veritable online alternate reality. The worlds are huge and house thousands of gamers online simultaneously. It's generally as social as gaming gets, as people are encouraged to band together to accomplish tasks that cannot be completed alone. MMOs are famous for their addictive nature, so be careful with these if you plan on having, you know, a life. Since Rift was just released this week, there aren't many reviews out yet from the major publications, but user reports have been generally positive on the whole. Only time will tell with games like these, so if you're an MMO fan, keep an eye on this one.
- Fight Night Champion [Xbox 360, PS3] - March 1st
EA Sports' flagship boxing franchise stands at the pinnacle of video game boxing simulations, and Fight Night Champion serves as the fifth in the Fight Night series. Those familiar with the series won't be surprised to find the near-photo-realistic visuals and intuitive control scheme, and will be happy to find a laundry list of big-name fighters that includes the likes of Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Joe Calzaghe, Jake LaMotta, Marvin Hagler, and Ricky Hatton. However, this iteration does include a brand new feature entitled Champion mode, a story-driven movie-like game mode placing you in the shoes of fictional fighter Andre Bishop in your very own rags-to-riches narrative. But if you'd rather just jump in and command the ring as Manny Pacquiao, that option remains intact. This game is out already and is being well-received from players and critics alike, so boxing fans take note.
- Dragon Age II [PC, Mac, Xbox 360, PS3] - March 8th
Dragon Age: Origins was released back in November of 2009 and was one of BioWare's biggest hits to date, winning a slew of awards that year including RPG of the Year, Best Story of the Year, and even some Game of the Year awards. On Tuesday, its sequel will be released to RPG die-hards everywhere on the biggest gaming platforms. After all of the accolades that the first title received, Dragon Age II has some significantly large shoes to fill, but PC Gamer has already given it a score of 94/100. Early impressions suggest that this game will be yet another BioWare title expected to be up for several awards at the end of the year, so keep this one on your radar.
- MLB 11: The Show [PSP, PS2, PS3] - March 8th
Baseball fans rejoice. The Playstation-exclusive series MLB: The Show sets the bar for baseball gaming simulations, and the 2011 version comes out on Tuesday. There are some nice new perks in this version. Sony is touting a new analog control scheme for hitting and pitching which are said to make the movements in the game more meaningful. Instead of simply hitting a button to pitch or swing the bat, sweeping movements are made with the analog stick, giving significantly more control over the intricacies therein. Plus, if you have the Playstation Move motion controller, dial up the Home Run Derby mode, stand at the plate, and swing away for some immersive batting practice. To top it off, MLB 11: The Show supports stereoscopic 3D for you lucky 3DTV owners. I gotta say that the idea of playing a baseball game in 3D with a motion controller sounds pretty awesome.
- Homefront [PC, Xbox 360, PS3] - March 15th
Here's one for you first-person shooter fans. Let's say that North Korea's weapons program grows significantly, leading to sanctions by the UN. Then let's say that Kim Jong-il dies leaving Kim Jong-un in power, who manages to reunite North and South Korea under North Korean rule. What if the US economy continues to flounder, the dollar collapses, and the US military foreign presence is drawn back? Then what if Korea eventually invades the US? These occurrences spanning the years of 2011 to 2026 serve as the backdrop for the storyline in Homefront, with gameplay beginning in America in the year 2027. Written by John Milius (co-writer of Apocalyse Now and writer of Red Dawn), the narrative in Homefront is nothing if not intriguing. Throw in a 32-player multiplayer mode, and this game has the potential for big things.
- Okamiden [DS] - March 15th
The action/adventure game Okami is one of the most beloved games ever released on the PS2 and Wii platforms, even if it managed to fly well under the radar of all but the more hardcore video game fans. Putting you in control of the goddess Amaterasu who has been reborn in the body of a white wolf, Okami could be compared to games like the more recent iterations of The Legend of Zelda, but with a few twists in gameplay and control. The cel-shaded and painted art style lends itself to motion controls, which Okami employed well to generate original approaches to strategy and puzzle sequences. Finally, after first being introduced in 2006, the game finds its first true sequel in Okamiden for the Nintendo DS. The control scheme popularized by the original title seems like it could be more appropriate than ever on the Nintendo DS platform, so a lot of eyes are on this one. Okamiden might be the one of the first must-buy games for Nintendo DS fans this year.
- Crysis 2 [PC, Xbox 360, PS3] - March 22nd
If you've got a PC gaming rig, you've probably played Crysis, and you may be among the many who consider it to be one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time. It is often lauded for setting the bar in video game visuals extending years after its release in 2007, but its open-ended gameplay and nanosuit mechanic were what ultimately set Crysis apart from the pack. This year, not only are we getting its true sequel in Crysis 2, but this also marks the franchise's entry into the console gaming world, as it will be releasing on the Xbox 360 and PS3 along with its original PC platform. Early trailers and gameplay videos depict a city setting and a more vertical map design, as well as some impressive scripted sequences showing off amazing visuals and physics. The Xbox 360 multiplayer demo has been out for several weeks, and the PC version of the demo was released this past Tuesday, so many gamers have already tried their hand at the new and addictive multiplayer mode. But really, it's the single player campaign that we're all pining for, and come March 22nd, the waiting will end.
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters [Xbox 360, PS3, Wii] - March 29th
Tiger Woods has had a rocky couple of years, but at least his game franchise hasn't suffered. The next title in the series comes out at the end of this month, but the big news is that it's the first time that the franchise puts you on the quest for a green jacket. That's right, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters will take us to Augusta National this year. In addition, this title introduces a new caddy system to help suggest shots, and includes improved Playstation Move motion controls for the PS3 version to support techniques like spin and boost. For you golf fans, there are a lot of reasons to suggest that this could be the strongest game in the series so far.
While that's just a handful of the games out this month, these are some of the most notable March titles this year. Also of note is that March 27th marks the North American release of the Nintendo 3DS, which is Nintendo's follow-up to their insanely successful Nintendo DS handheld console. Make sure you return to this column next week for a special feature on the Nintendo 3DS!
Pick up Killzone 3 at these local video game retailers:
- Play N Trade, 545 South Broad St., Lansdale. (215) 368-1955
- GameStop, 1551 Valley Forge Road, Lansdale. (215) 631-1230
- GameStop, 2333 W. Main St., Lansdale. (215) 855-4280
- GameStop, 801 Bethlehem Pike, North Wales. (215) 412-2900
- GameStop, Montgomery Mall, North Wales. (215) 362-2036
- Toys R Us, 2 Airport Square, North Wales. (215) 368-8050
- Best Buy, 801 Bethlehem Pike, North Wales. (215) 855-3528