Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

The Warp Whistle: March

Once a month Ben blows on his magic warp whistle and takes a look at the (immediate) future of video games.  These are his findings.

Happy Baseball Season Everyone!

Spring brings optimism, but more importantly…baseball.  This month will see the release of the sport’s two premier video games.  The Show has been a superior product for years, but the 2K franchise has been supposedly making up ground.  Kind of like how the Brewers have been making up ground on the Cardinals!  But my editors won’t let me write a pure baseball column so let’s just pretend I didn’t say that.  There are plenty of other video games coming out in March, let’s take a look!

Rift, March 1st (Windows): This is a MMORPG that makes no attempt to hide its influences.  Everquest and World of Warcraft fans shouldn’t have too big of a learning curve.  There are quests, dungeons, and freaky skeletons.  Nothing your average basement dwelling nerd hasn’t seen before.  IGN says that what the game lacks in originality, it makes up for in graphics and fun.  From the screenshots I have seen I can confirm that it is one sexy game.  The only question that really remains is one of market.  With all the constant improvements that WoW makes, why would someone switch?

Rango – The Video Game, March 1st (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS): The relentless ad campaign for the movie almost stole the show during our live coverage of The Golden Globes.  So much so that I’m anticipating at least one person in the comments section exclaiming “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANGO!”  It was a special night that bonded many of us.  As far as the game goes?  It looks pretty, but in all likelihood another failed attempt at an adaptation.  I’d probably avoid this one, unless you know a girl that really likes the movie and you’re trying to get her to come over to your place.  In which case, rent the shit out of it.

Therapy sold seperately

Dead Space 2 – Severed, March 1st (Xbox 360, Playstation 3): I haven’t had the pleasure of playing this game yet, but just thinking about the original still freaks me out a bit.  Anyway, Severed is downloadable content. You play as Gabe, and your mission runs parallel with the regular campaign.  Gabe’s life blows!  He’s stuck out in the middle of nowhere and he has to make it back to civilization.  If you’ve bought the game already make sure you take the time to log on and get the expansion, unless the original game has already caused you to seek counseling.

Dragon Age 2, March 8th (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac): I’m just going to come right out and say it…I didn’t really like the first Dragon Age game.  When I play a role-playing game I don’t want to be burdened with the whole party system.  But that’s not to say that many people I know didn’t enjoy it.  One thing that makes this game different from a lot of RPGs is you don’t really create a character, another thing I don’t like. You start as Hawke, “a survivor of Blight and a Champion of Kirkwall.” Jesus Christ this is a dorky column.

MLB 11 – The Show, March 11th (Playstation 3, Playstation 2, Playstation Portable): There are very few guarantees in video games, but if you love baseball and you have a Playstation 3…just buy this.  The level of customization and depth in these games is second to none.  In a feature that I think is one of the coolest things to ever hit a sports game, you can play through an entire career with a created player and only do his at-bats.  So if you don’t want to sit through every single pitch, or even learn how to field, you don’t have to.  The batting mechanics alone seem to be worth the price of the game in years past, and this year they have made all the controls more analog based.  It will be an adjustment for fans of the previous versions, but have faith.  This year’s version now offers 2 on 2 co-op, and I’m curious to see how that works.

MLB 2K11, March 8th (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Windows):  One of the features that distinguishes this game from The Show is its dynamic player ratings system where what happens in real life effects player ratings in the game.  I can see the appeal of it, but I guess I don’t like it.  If I’m playing through a season on a video game, I like to feel like I’m in a parallel universe in some respects.  Anyway, the general consensus seems to be that the only reason you should buy this game is if you don’t own a Playstation.  Plus Roy Halladay is on the cover, and I really hate Roy Halladay!  So there.

Petz Bunnyz Bunch, March 8th (Nintendo DS): Have this on hand when you need to unwind from a long night of playing Dead Space 2 alone in the dark.  In fact, they should sell them in a combo pack.

IT'S A WARZONE! Or...Kentucky.

Homefront, March 15th (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows): John Milius, who also wrote a movie you might have heard of called Apocolypse Now, is responsible for the storyline in this one.  Basically, in about ten years the dollar has dropped and the United States isn’t what it used to be.  This is perfect timing for North Korea to swoop in and bomb the bejesus out of us and take over.  The alternate future first person shooters are not a revolutionary concept, but perhaps this one is the real deal.  Instead of fighting in typical wartime settings, you will be battling in suburbs.  And instead of highly trained soldiers, you will be controlling a sort of rag-tag resistance.  This game is not for the faint of heart.  There are mass graves of Americans and grizzly executions.  Some early versions of the game have had problems with frame rate and scripted events, but if that gets sorted out this might be one to watch for.

The Nintendo 3DS, March 27th: While several of its games are being released ahead of time, the release date for the system here in the states will be the 27th.  And since I’m boycotting everything 3D (with the exception of the stunning cinematic masterpiece Piranha 3D), I’m just going to refuse to discuss this in too much length right now.  But if you really care here’s a link.  As always, fuck you Nintendo.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012 – The Masters (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii): The people at Augusta aren’t big fans of African Americans or letting video games use their course, which is why I’d really like to know how much cash the good folks at EA Sports had to throw at them to make this happen!  Augusta has been painstakingly recreated with a lot of input from those that run the golf club.  The career mode is based on eventually taking home the coveted green jacket, and you can also recreate some of the more classic Masters moments.  Like when Fuzzy Zoeller made that disturbing joke about Tiger liking collard greens and chicken.  Okay, so maybe not that one.  Normally I like to wait a few years between Tiger Woods Golf purchases because the improvements often aren’t huge, but this looks like a must own for golf fans.

You knew this was coming: OOOOOOOOOH YEEEEEEEEEEAH!

WWE All-Stars, March 29th (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation 2, Playstation Portable, Nintendo Wii): Alright, so this game just looks fun.  Judging by what I have read and seen about this title, the best comparison I could throw out there would be the NBA Jam of wrestling games.  There is still strategy, but the moves are way more over the top than other wrestling titles on the market.  And did I mention it has The Macho Man!?!  The roster is a mix of old and new faces and the early hands on previews are good.  All signs are pointing towards me owning this.

Well, March is looking like a pretty kickass month to be a video game dork.  Normally I like to bring up one older game, and with my earlier comments in mind I would like to discuss what I still believe is the greatest baseball game of all time.

Baseball Stars, July 1989 (Nintendo): Yeah, all you RBI Baseball fans can suck it!  The gameplay was simple and great.  Also, Baseball Stars was one of the first sports games to ever have data memory, which was a pretty huge deal.  The create-a-team and create-a-player features blew my mind as a kid.  One of the ratings a player had was prestige, which affected how many fans attended the teams’ games.  You could then use that money to improve your team in a number of ways.  This game was really ahead of its time, and again…was way better than RBI Baseball.  I’m ready to take on all comers on this!  Or no one will care.

What games are you planning on picking up this month?  Let us know in the comments section.

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4 Responses »

  1. Oh, Baseball Stars. Legendary fun.

    MLB: The Show has been doing that "one-player career" thing for a couple of years, but it's still a very cool feature. Before I think about buying that or MLB2K, I have to ask the same question I ask of all sports games: what's the create-a-team like?

  2. Oh yeah, I wasn't saying the one player career thing was new. I just think its awesome.

  3. Yeah, but Baseball Stars doesn't have a rabbit umpire.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_News_Baseball

  4. ....holy crap