If there was any sense of justice in the world this article would have a classic 60’s theme song to go with it – all good Game of the Month articles should have one, don’t you agree? Oh well, guess we’re going to have to soldier on without it. March was a busy month in terms of game releases, but there were clear winners and clear not-so-winners, let’s take a look at some of March’s Masters:
A long with Silent Hill: Downpour (which sadly didn’t make it into this month’s Hall of Fame), Konami also released a HD collection of some of their earlier titles (although not the original Silent Hill, it seems. Just Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3). Interestingly enough, our man Manny Brown rated it quite highly with a 9/10, which differed from other reviews which scored it much lower. Perhaps not the best value for money as far as a collection goes, but in Manny’s own words:
“Regardless, Silent Hill HD Collection is a wonderful trip down memory lane for those that played the originals, and it stands as a masterclass in the horror genre for anybody that didn’t. I’m confident that Silent Hill 2 will be held up as one of the greatest games of all time in years to come, and you owe it to yourself to (re)visit those deserted streets.”
This month also saw the release of the highly anticipated Fall of the Samurai expansion for Shogun 2: Total War. The largest expansion to date, FotS takes you forward to the Boshin War, where the Shogun and the Emperor fought a bitter struggle for the soul of Japan, amongst the backdrop of increased westernisation. I played this one myself and I have to say I did enjoy it – the re-introduction of firearms units and Napoleon-mechanics was a welcome change, especially in contrast to the tactics used by medieval Japan. In my own words:
“So, a decent addition to Shogun 2's content library, although we still think a slightly missed opportunity to do something truly special. Still, those of you who purchase this expansion are unlikely to be disappointed, as there's still a lot of fun to be had here. With an RRP of £29.99 you might want to try and pick it up in a sale, as that's basically the price of a full game and stuff still is missing: Family relationships, for example, are non-existent because the new time-frame means you're unlikely to see children grow up, which means secession isn't really an issue either. In fact a lot of the RPG elements outside of specialising character skill trees are gone now. But expansions like this are all about give and take, what you lose there you gain elsewhere, and there's a lot to gain from delving into this particular page in Japanese history.”
Fighting game connoisseur Alex Donaldson would know if Street Fighter x Tekkan, the first game in a collaboration effort between Konami and Capcom, was worth its name. He approves – with a 9/10, it’s clear that this curious hybrid has passed our test at least, and we hope it passes yours. As Alex says:
“When this game was announced I wondered why they didn’t just make Street Fighter V, or Alpha 4 instead – but now I know. This game is a different beast, meant to compliment and stand alongside Street Fighter IV as an intensely over-the-top and above all else approachable and fun experience – but it also maintains the depth. Strange question marks over weirdly simple missing features like the gallery or the need for more training options aren’t enough to mar this experience. In the end, it’s properly, wonderfully creative and brilliant – and proves that even the most disparate of series can be bedfellows if executed well.”
Whilst it may have dropped its more playful ‘Tricky’ persona and tried to be more serious about extreme sports, the SSX reboot still managed to capture the heart of our very own Sam Atkins. The thrill of the race, the tricks, the well-crafted environments… it’s all still there. And let’s not forget about the wing suites. Take it away Sam:
“All of this said, barrelling down a mountain pulling off million scoring super Ubers is as electrifying as always, and it's nice to have such pure and easy fun in a game for once. In a world where shooters and post-apocalyptic RPGs rule this is exactly the sort of game the industry needs. It could have accomplished so much more, but it's hard to complain when SSX is still such a brilliant game.”
Another game that was a bit divisive amongst the press, I Am Alive certainly surprised our Nick Akerman. All of the passion, effort and resources bundled into a downloadable title, I Am Alive harks back to a better time, when survival games was where it was at, and where you could only ‘die’ so many times. With a finely crafted world, a story that will tug on those strings, and a combat system that’s interesting and involving, I Am Alive is probably the best value game you could pick up this month, and you don’t even have to go anywhere to get it. As Nick says:
“To put it simply, I Am Alive is one of the most important releases this generation. Ubisoft should be commended for producing a title that challenges many adult themes. The effort is an amazingly brave and thought-provoking one, resulting in a product that is memorable and undeniably unique. People will be talking about this for years to come, and with good reason. This title was a huge risk for the mega-publisher, but results in substantial reward for those willing to give it a chance. Adam's quest is tense and persistently nerve-racking, but when the dust settles, the result is one of gaming's richest examples of contemplative storytelling.”
And the winner is…
Maybe you saw this coming, maybe you didn’t. The odd thing about Mass Effect 3 is that if you removed the last ten minutes or so, this would be an incredible game, just one without closure. Instead it’s an incredible game with extremely poor and confusing closure. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that everything right up until those final few moments is nothing short of spectacular – the action is great, there’s some truly beautiful set-pieces and moments, and you really feel invested in the whole thing.
Is it perfect? Of course it’s not – it’s far from perfect, and if you really want to be picky you could pick out loads of things that could have been done better or done differently (ending aside), but that’s not really the point. Conceptually, Bioware have done something not really seen in gaming before, and have set the standard for all grand, multi-titled RPG franchises to come. These next few months will be critical though, as depending on what Bioware do next re: the end, things could turn messy. That shouldn't detract from everything else ME3 did right though.
to read our Mass Effect 3 review.
And that’s it for another month. We’d be surprised if you hadn’t already picked up some of these games – good games tend to get highlighted pretty quickly, but we hope we gave the odd surprise for you to try out something new. See you all same time next month!