A wrap-up of the best in gaming
- Words: Ryan Rayhill
Warner Bros.; Xbox 360, PS3
Get over here! No seriously, come here. Does this look infected to you? Infected with awesome?! It is our professional medical opinion that the latest Mortal Kombat is indeed rife with awesome, as nearly 30 blood-thirsty combatants of the Mortal Kombat universe return to the timeline of the original three games from the '90s (the three best) in an effort to change events in the present—which apparently is not going so swimmingly. While the game will retain the 3D environments of the recent installments, gameplay itself will revert to an old-school 2D plane with a much deeper fighting system than the series has employed to date. Mortal Kombat will also introduce two- and four-player tag-team matches along with plenty of online action and even a new Challenge Tower mode that includes hundreds of various trials and tribulations that will certainly test your might—and unlock valuable secrets should you succeed. Of course, this wouldn’t be Mortal Kombat without gore and fatalities, both which have been majorly upgraded to gruesome new levels of gross.
Bethesda; Xbox 360, PS3
Several years after the world’s attempt to finally go green, a self-sufficient “ark” floating off the coast of San Francisco has become the last, overcrowded bastion of civilization in a now flooded world as two well-armed factions vie for control in Brink. After choosing to violently overrun the city or to bring peace (violently), you can then choose from one of four unique classes, including soldiers and engineers, who must then all work together as a cohesive unit to successfully complete objectives towards your goal of ultimate dominion. With nearly endless character-customization options—ranging from the size of your gun to the prison-osity of your tattoos—Brink’s exaggerated art style creates a distinct atmosphere in which your team can run, leap, and destroy in any which way both online against other teams and off. As your team gets through missions, experience is gained and you are able to unlock even more ways to enhance your weapons, increase your health, or even steal your opponent’s identity as you wage war towards the center of the dystopian capitol. See what happens when you don’t recycle?!
Rockstar; Xbox 360, PS3
The free-for-all that was the post-war 1940s United States is one of the more interesting times in this country’s history, yet it has fewer games made about it than the five years prior. What gives? Oh, right— fewer slimy Nazis. However, classic-point-and-click-game déjà vu notwithstanding, even fewer games have been able to capture the somewhat less slimy underworld that was Los Angeles during this period (which may or may not have ended—we’re still fact-checking that one) until this month’s LA Noire. This serious take on cinematic murder mysteries puts you in the gumshoes of a war vet turned cop, played by Mad Men’s Aaron Staton, as you use interrogation, instinct, and a whole lot of good old-fashioned police work to solve a grisly string of La La Land slayings. Read a perp’s reactions to your line of questioning the wrong way and they could get off scott-free. Don’t do your homework and you could nail the wrong guy. Luckily, everyone has a tale, and LA Noire has gone to great lengths to create the most elaborate facial animations ever seen in a game, so at least you have something to work with before getting busted down from detective to meter maid. With plenty of sex, drugs, and soothing jazz, LA Noire is a unique slice of pulpy pleasure for those looking to get their Mike Hammer on.
When I was 12, some friends and I found a gaudy piece of costume jewelry that we decided should grant elemental powers specific to its wearer. Mine was to harness the power of lightning. We called ourselves the “Power Group” and went around blasting things at school with our ring. For this, we were made fun of quite regularly until we ourselves decided that it was indeed mock-worthy. However, if I did have the ability to shoot lightning, they would certainly rue the day! Rue the shit out of that day! Such is the allure of Infamous 2. Imbued with the ability to control electricity, you play as Cole MacGrath, a one-time courier duped into becoming an unwilling pawn in a super-powered game as you traverse a New Orleans-inspired city that is also highly destructible. To that end, morality plays a big part of Infamous 2, as being pretty good or pretty bad with your gifts leads you down various paths—most importantly, more awesome powers! User-generated feedback and content will also come into play, as the most popular missions created by fans will get implemented into the actual game.
Duke Nukem Forever
2K; Xbox 360, PS3
Better late than never, they always say. But is 14 years well beyond the statute of limitations on that old chestnut? If we are talking about Duke Nukem Forever, then the answer is “Hell to the naw!” Originally slated for release in 1997, Duke Nukem Forever went through more versions and more unfulfilled release dates than any other game EVER until finally being ditched by its original developer a couple of years ago. Thankfully, it was picked up by dudes who had the balls to finish what was started back when Bubba was in charge, known as Gearbox Software, whose last effort, Borderlands, was a pretty unfuckwithable RPG/shooter hybrid. While fixing up what is essentially an ancient game to compete with the likes of today’s shooters may seem foolhardy, Duke Nukem Forever does just that, albeit in a very tongue-in-cheek manner, rife with dick jokes, strippers, and all manner of toilet-humor-infused gore. In other words, everything fans have come to expect from Duke... and them some. Hail to the king, baby!
EA; Xbox 360, PS3
By now, we are all aware that there is, in fact, no cake to be had at the end of 2007’s sleeper hit, Portal. But perhaps even better is that now we get the sweet, sweet taste of Portal 2 to sink our dimension-bending teeth into. As she stated so clearly in song at the end of the first game, hilariously evil super-computer GLaDOS is in fact still alive and ready to torture your brain once again since you've been revived from stasis hundreds of years after the first adventure. Equipped with a gun that shoots only entrance and exit portals, you must outthink the traps laid for you in the once great halls of Aperture Science, now overrun with flora and the aforementioned still-active devices of death. Co-op multiplayer also figures in this time around, as you take on the role of one of two unnervingly adorable robots to unravel puzzles totally different than the single-player campaign. While it certainly is no cakewalk, with clever design and priceless dialogue from the likes of Stephen Merchant and JK Simmons, it’s certainly one of the more charming games you’ll ever have the pleasure of being perplexed by.
Shift 2: Unleashed
EA; Xbox 360, PS3
If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the Need for Speed franchise over the past decade, then now would be the time to just cut it out, because the series’ latest, Shift 2: Unleashed, will have you cruising in a daze of thunder (or whatever 200 mph does to you)! While still a Need for Speed title, Shift 2 aims for simulated realism a la Gran Turismo instead of the usual balls-out arcade action of previous entries. The result is perhaps the most realistic racing title to date, with realistic physics affecting the nearly 150 real-life cars featured from 36 manufacturers. As you tear around dozens of tracks all over the globe you earn experience and upgrades that help pit you against worthy competition both on and offline. Precision and style are rewarded as you avoid smart AI drivers, battle road deterioration, and even take on the darkness while weaving through tracks in the dead of night. The amazing sense of speed and realism makes this a shift in right direction.
SOCOM 4: US Navy SEALs
As if the US Military doesn’t have enough to keep them busy these days, here comes SOCOM 4: US Navy SEALs . As the leader of an elite squad of America’s finest, you must team up with a couple of South Korean operatives as you take on some Southeast Asian nasties known as the Naga. Playing Cesar Millan to your team of highly trained attack dogs, you command them to sit, stay, or perforate accordingly through 14 nail-biting missions that involve stealth infiltration, air strikes, and straight-up firefights. Helping to ramp up the realism, SOCOM 4 is compatible with 3D televisions as well as Sony’s Move motion controller, which can be attached to the recent Sharp Shooter peripheral for even more gun-slinging action. With nearly 40 weapons and online matches with up to 32 players, SOCOM 4 will satisfy your patriotic bloodlust.
Yoostar Entertainment; Xbox 360, PS3
Let’s be real: From Inigo Montaya’s tale of the six-fingered man to Mr. Miyagi’s cryptic car-detailing instructions, your rote memorization—and subsequent regurgitation—of cinema’s finest scribblings has not won you as many kudos in life as you may feel you so deserve. Despite the Academy’s blatant snub of your obvious De Niro-esque talents, Yoostar 2 now offers you the opportunity to get your demo reel out into the world so it can finally sample the genius of your masterful Norbit impression. Ranging from beloved classics like Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz to more recent hits like Tropic Thunder and Shaun of the Dead, Yoostar 2 uses the Kinect or PlayStation Eye camera to place you in any of dozens of famous movie scenes as it grades you on accuracy and movement, sort of like movie karaoke, and then allows you to upload it on the likes of Facebook and YouTube for the rest of the world to pass judgment on. No matter if you’re an Olivier or an Olivia Newton-John, one thing is for certain—it’s not a toomaahh!
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