With Mass Effect 3 finished – more on that another time - I have now switched my attention to a game that has long sat atop my backlog pile: Dark Souls. My lack of patience and a bloody-minded unwillingness to adapt to new foes has brought back familiar frustrations, but overall it seems to be a more reasonable and enjoyable game than its predecessor. In fact, I think I have achieved more in three hours of Dark Souls than I did in ten hellish moons of Demons.
Dark Souls was to be the beginning of a catch-up period, as I had convinced myself that the next three months offered few new releases of interest. I had long been eyeing the spring-to-early-summer stretch as the ideal time to put a sizable dent in my pile of shame and put some money in the bank. On closer inspection it turns out that April-June looks a lot more promising than I’d initially thought, serving up a mix of intriguing games that will look even more enticing after a couple of weeks of Dark Souls induced panic attacks.
I am thoroughly convinced that Rockstar are doing something special with Max Payne. Once the property of Remedy, the GTA developer has assumed control and will attempt to make Max and bullet-time relevant again. This is no small feat, given that the series and its core mechanic are very much rooted in a specific moment in time, a past where every movie bullet had to be fired in slow motion and we were momentarily sold on Keanu Reeves, actor.
Max Payne 3 (May) appears to have retained the series' bleak tone whilst giving it a new lick of paint. Max is so pissed off that his hair has fallen out and re-formed as a murderous beard; he has also taken to wearing terrifying Hawaiian shirts whilst terrorizing evil shits. Multi-coloured floral patterns don't exactly scream gritty violence but I think it’s safe to say that MP3 will be an unrelenting and vicious experience. I also hear that the multiplayer is rather good, offering some key differences to the usual shooter fare. Of all the spring-summer titles, Max Payne 3 is the one I'm most excited for and the only one I'm considering pre-ordering.
While we are on the topic of violent men, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (April) will likely have me firing up my 360 after a lengthy time apart. A potent mix of blood, tits and RPG’ing should keep me satisfied between new episodes of Game of Thrones and I’ve even managed to get my wife interested, promising her some kind of Dragon Age, Skyrim hybrid that is machine gun free. I have no idea if this description fits, but I’ll take her mild interest as a personal victory and a green light to go ahead and buy it.
Dragon's Dogma (May) could go one of two ways: it’ll either be one of 2012's biggest disasters or one of its most quietly excellent games. I’m certainly intrigued, though the penny pincher in me knows that come August it'll be dirt cheap, regardless of how it faired critically, so I’ll probably just wait until then. Lollipop Chainsaw (June) is probably a safer bet, as I really enjoyed the playable demo at TGS 2011 and know exactly what to expect from a Suda 51 game.
I’m desperate for something new to play on my Vita – Sony delivered a strong launch line-up but have completely dropped the ball since - with the next three months offering two candidates: Gravity Rush (June) and Resistance: Burning Skies (May). I’ve enjoyed the Resistance series, but after three (excellent) games I’m ready to move on, and if it weren’t for the lack of new software for the Vita I probably wouldn’t even be considering it. Gravity Rush, on the other hand, is a guaranteed purchase and looks like the most unique Vita game yet, as well as a perfect fit for the hardware. As far as the Vita is concerned, June can’t come soon enough.
On top of these new releases, I’ll be picking up Yakuza: Dead Souls shortly as I’m dying for a Kamurocho fix, so that I can nod knowingly at convenience store inventories and faux-Shinjuku shop facades. I know it’s not supposed to be particularly good, but barring an unlikely HD’d up re-release of the first two Yakuza games (on my Vita please), I’m going to be running short on opportunities to stomp heads with Kazuma and co., with SEGA’s recent cut-backs in the West making future localisations seem unlikely.
Chances are at least a couple of these games will evade my shopping basket until the annual quiet period of July-August, when every publisher goes to the seaside for eight weeks, leaving the confused intern to hold fort and unleash a trickle of games too insignificant for any other time of year. At that point, I’ll be grateful for anything decent I can get my hands on and may even resort to, god forbid, playing through my backlog.
What will you be playing the next few months?