March seems to be a month of sequels in games – let’s talk about the ups and downs of the 3 I find most exciting.
Release Date: March 5th
Ever a fan of the strong female main character and ever a fan of gritty origin stories (everybody likes a good origin story, I always say), I’m excited for the re-make of the popular Tomb Raider series. The originals were a bit “before my time” in terms of my life as a gamer, but I remember their releases and am familiar with the content. Enough-so that I’m excited for a re-telling.
Now, there was a bit of a kerfuffle last year regarding one of the trailers that came out for Tomb Raider, specifically centering on the fact that the writers decided to make the threat of rape a part of Lara Croft’s back story, and not made any better by an executive producer saying you’ll want to “protect” her while playing the game. A lot of people were unhappy; many asked why it was necessary for a strong woman to encounter such a trauma to become strong, and why the players would want to play her any differently than another (presumably male) character.
The Mary Sue actually has a nice article about this, so if you’d like details on said kerfuffle I’d suggest going there to get filled in. But just last week the Penny Arcade Report released a review that addressed those concerns in the only way it could really be done properly: by actually playing the game. After playing through the whole game the questions of her being assaulted or the player wanting to protect her apparently feel “silly”:
The scenes where Croft is in jeopardy make sense in the greater context of the game, and at no point did I feel protective of the character. She wasn’t a cowering thing, being guided by an unseen presence with a controller as much as she was the player’s avatar in a situation that offers an overwhelming sense of danger…the cowering girl from the game’s opening scenes is replaced by a character who has decided not to go quietly…
This is what I wanted to hear, so I hope it’s a proper assessment. I want out of this game what I want out of any others like it: story, action, streamlined controls, immersion. If the game can accomplish those things without having different requirements for itself because the main character is a woman, it’ll make my day.
Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm
Release Date: March 12th
I mentioned the SC2: Heart of the Swarm kick-ass cinematic released in early February, and while I’ve been wholly disenchanted by Blizzard for a couple years now, I’m sorely tempted to give them another shot with this game. Wings of Liberty (the first installation of the SC2 trilogy) was absolutely a great game – it was beautiful both in-game and during the cinematics, had an honestly interesting story, and the gameplay was wonderful! It didn’t particularly lack anything.
Personally, however, I almost never do any multiplayer with the game. That means that as soon as I finish up the campaign, I rarely find a reason to open the game up again. I don’t have the skills to win multiplayer matches either against stranger or friends, so that vastly reduces the overall content for me. But of course, that’s my problem. I have friends who still play PvP matches all the time even now that the game is over 2 years old.
The other bone I have to pick is the ever-popular “you must always be online” Battle.net complaint. I have a major problem with laying down my money up-front for a game but still being unable to play when the service supporting it is down. I can think of multiple occasions when I ran into this issue with Diablo III. This is one thing I like about XBox – I like being on XBox Live, but if it’s ever down it doesn’t keep me from playing the game I’ve already purchased.
All that to say, if Battle.net doesn’t bother you and you like multiplayer and PvP, Heart of the Swarm will have some serious legs on it; it’s a game that’ll just keep on giving. I have little doubt the content itself will be just as good Wings of Liberty, so if you like PvP you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. If you’re more like me and are just there for a fun campaign…well, I guess you have to decide if $40 is worth it to you.
Release Date: March 28th
I’ve been gabbing on and off about this one since they pushed back the release from last fall to this Spring. BioShock Infinite is the 3rd addition to the BioShock series, but the first to deviate from the Rapture, the underwater city.
In Infinite you play a man named Booker DeWitt who’s sent to the floating air city of Colombia in search of a woman named Elizabeth, trapped there for the last 12 years of her life. Shooting, psychokinetic powers, and mayhem ensue (naturally). There’s a handful of trailers for the game, both cinematics and actually in-game play, and it all looks fantastic. You still have the familiar sets of powers you cast directly from your hands (“Vigors” now instead of “Plasmids”), so the gameplay is definitely going to be more-or-less the same. I count this as a good thing, since I thought the gameplay and controls from the first BioShock were pretty intuitive.
There is the fact that Irrational, the game’s developer, announced mid-February that they’ll be releasing a 3-part DLC pack that they’ll discount if you order early. DLC available the day of a game’s release has always annoyed me on principle (I’m looking at you, Mass Effect), but when it comes right down to it, as long as the game is a full, complete game on its own and the DLC is honest-to-goodness just some extra goodies on the side like it’s supposed to be, why does it matter when they release it? I’m only going to feel ripped off if (a) I’m unable to accomplish the game-only quest lines without the DLC, or (b) the game-only quest line is distinctly short without the DLC. Otherwise, regardless of when it comes out, it’s still just additional content. The inclusion of this DLC isn’t going to keep me from buying Infinite, and I’ll probably be one of those who buy it up-front; I have that much confidence in this game.
So, what games are you looking forward to this March? Do share!