Arts » Console Me

Video Game Preview: The toys of summer

Spend the season with these promising titles

by

comment

For fans of big-budget summer blockbusters like Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel, this is the absolute best time of year, but for hardcore gamers, the summer months are a sweltering wasteland as most studios and publishers hold their big releases for the holiday shopping season.

This fall, we'll see anticipated titles like Grand Theft Auto V, Batman: Arkham Origins, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts hit store shelves. Still, before then, there are a few big titles to be enjoyed indoors, within the comfort of your air-conditioned fortress of solitude.

Remember Me

In Remember Me, a new third-person action adventure by Capcom, the player is transported to Neo-Paris, 2084, where personal memories can now be digitized, bought, sold and traded.

The monolithic Memorize corporation has invented a brain implant called the Sensation Engine (Sensen), which enables roughly 99 percent of the population to upload and share their memories on the Internet — you know, the next step in social networking. As a result, Memorize takes control of the masses and establishes a surveillance state. The player assumes the role of Nilin, a former elite memory hunter with the ability to break into people's minds and steal or even alter their memories.

The authorities, fearful of her knowledge and capabilities, have arrested Nilin and wiped her memory clean. After her escape from prison, she sets out on a mission to recover her identity with Memorize agents hunting her across Neo-Paris.

Remember Me features elements of exploration, platforming, stealth and melee combat. Capcom's original title introduces the mechanic of "memory remixing," allowing the player to enter and rearrange a target's memories to manipulate them. Players accomplish this by replaying a memory and modifying small details to change the target's recollection of the outcome. The game will also feature a robust combat system that allows the player to chain together different combinations of fighting moves to beat their enemies into submission.

Release Date: Now available

Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Rating: M for Mature

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Nintendo's charming community-building franchise returns with Animal Crossing: New Leaf. If you've never played an Animal Crossing game, it's essentially The Sims except you live in a rural village populated with anthropomorphic animals who love to chit-chat and barter goods. The Nintendo 3DS entry into this popular series introduces a new game mechanic that allows the player to become the town mayor, giving them more customization options than in previous games.

While taking part in mayoral duties isn't obligated, being the head of your village opens up two new gameplay features: Public Works Projects and Ordinances. Public Works Projects allows players to collect funds from townsfolk to construct new objects such as bridges, water fountains and light poles, as well as add new facilities like police stations and cafés.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf also features two new animal types for regular villagers: hamsters and deer. New characters include a sloth named Leif who runs a gardening center, and a pair of alpacas named Reese and Cyrus who own a shop called "Re-Tail," where players can sell unwanted items. Everyone's favorite raccoon shop-keep, Tom Nook, also returns, but now he's a real-estate agent. Take that, recession!

Release Date: Now available

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Rating: E for Everyone

The Last of Us

Post-Apocalyptic stories are insanely popular right now. On TV, there's The Walking Dead, Revolution, Defiance and Falling Skies, while at your local cineplex, there's a host of doomsday scenarios for your viewing pleasure, including Oblivion, After Earth and the upcoming Pacific Rim. In the pixelated netherworld, however, everyone's talking about The Last of Us, a PlayStation 3-exclusive title by Naughty Dog.

The story is set two decades after a plague has killed millions, with nature gradually reclaiming the planet's abandoned cities and towns. The survivors are corralled inside quarantine zones, viciously maintained by the United States military under martial law. Survivors kill each other for food, weapons or whatever they can get their hands on. It's a hopeless world.

The game focuses on two survivors, Joel (voiced by Troy Baker) and the young Ellie (voiced by Ashley Johnson), trekking across a post-apocalyptic United States. It's like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but instead of fighting nomadic cannibals, the player must survive the Infected, humanoid creatures whose sole aim has become spreading the plague.

The Last of Us uses a third-person perspective and will take control of Joel, while Ellie will be controlled by the AI. The game involves gunplay and melee combat as well as a duck-and-cover system while blending elements of the action and survival horror genres.

From Naughty Dog, the makers of Jak and Daxter and the Uncharted series, The Last of Us looks to be a definitive gaming experience that elevates the art form and further examines our fascination with post-apocalyptic fiction.

Release Date: June 14

Platform: Playstation 3

Rating: M for Mature

Deadpool

The Merc with a Mouth gets his own game in this insane comic book adaptation developed by High Moon Studios. Former Deadpool writer Daniel Way wrote the game's narrative, which begins with Deadpool accepting a mission to assassinate Chance White, a corrupt media mogul.

Cue X-Men villain Mister Sinister, who is searching a former mutant haven called Genosha for new DNA to use in his genetically-enhanced armies. Marvel comic-book characters such as Domino, Wolverine, Cable, Rogue, Red Hulk and Psylocke are also set to appear in the game.

Deadpool will feature a combination of melee combat and gunplay, with an emphasis in using the more absurd weapons in Deadpool's arsenal. The game is expected to be hyper-violent, allowing the mutant assassin to dismember his enemies, all the while offering up signature wisecracks. As he does in the comics, Deadpool (voiced by Nolan North) will frequently break the fourth wall and verbally interact with the player based on their skill and progress.

Release Date: June 25

Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows

Rating: M for Mature

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a new third-person brawler with a skill-based combat system built around combo-driven action, which is to say it's a mix of Streets of Rage beat 'em up and Batman: Arkham City's bone-crushing melee combat.

Gamers can easily switch between Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael as they try to save New York City from Shredder and the Foot Clan. Out of the Shadows features a seamless drop-in, drop-out four-player co-op mode with a hyper-realistic 3-D style and relentless button-mashing melee insanity. If you're tired of blowing into your old Nintendo Entertainment System and playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, consider picking this one up when it hits digital storefronts later this month.

Release Date: June 26

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, Steam

Rating: RP for Rating Pending

Pikmin 3

Pikmin is a strategy game developed and published by Nintendo for the GameCube. It was one of the console's launch titles in 2001 and spawned a sequel in 2004. The player assumes the role of Captain Olimar, who has crash-landed on a bizarre planet. He discovers multi-colored plant-like creatures that blindly follow his orders and help him recover ship parts.

Pikmin 3 is being described as a fully re-imagined, mass-action strategy game. Players must take command of trying to survive and retrieve fruit for a planet that is suffering a food shortage. The world is packed with treasures and enemies, which makes Pikmin 3 more action-centric and fills the game with layers of potential strategies and paths, adding greater replay value to challenge modes.

Release Date: Aug. 4

Platform: Nintendo Wii U

Rating: E for Everyone

DuckTales: Remastered

"DuckTales, Oo-oo!" In 1989, Capcom developed an action-platform video game based on Disney's animated TV series, DuckTales, for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Fun fact: The game was released in Japan as Wanpaku Dakku Yume Bken, literally translated as Naughty Ducks Dream Adventures.

Now you can relive all of those naughty, adventurous duck dreams with DuckTales: Remastered, a high-definition remake of the 1989 game developed by WayForward Technologies. DT:R follows the adventures of Scrooge McDuck as he explores different realms to collect their treasures and become the world's richest duck.

The game takes the classic Disney platforming adventure (and nostalgia for classic console gaming) to a whole new level. All of the visuals from the NES game have been re-created as hand-drawn and animated sprites, across a backdrop of luscious, re-envisioned backgrounds.

Original Disney voice talent, including Alan Young as Scrooge, bring in-game characters to life while the classic 8-bit soundtrack is given a modern update. And because it's absolutely necessary to the integrity of the in-game narrative, DuckTales: Remastered also features new story elements that explain some of the motives and reasoning behind each level, such as how Scrooge McDuck is able to breathe on the moon.

Release Date: Q3 2013

Platform: Xbox Live, Playstation Network, Wii U eShop

Rating: E for Everyone

This will be the last summer enjoyed by the current-generation consoles. The holiday shopping season will bring along with it shiny, expensive new ones: the Xbox One (a confusing name considering it's Microsoft's third console) and the PS4, both of which will offer state-of-the-art graphics and new methods of gameplay utilizing touchscreens and motion-sensor components.

Until then, gamers will spend the last days of Xbox 360 and PS3 altering memories, surviving the apocalypse, bartering with anamorphic animals and, yes, riding a pogo stick as Scrooge McDuck.

(Console Me, Creative Loafing's electronic gaming column, consists of previews, reviews and commentary penned by Charlotte writer Adam Frazier, a regular contributor to CL and the websites Geeks of Doom and Hollywood News.)

Add a comment