Archive for the ‘Release of the Week’ Category

Release of the Week: Gran Turismo 6 (PS3)

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Gran Turismo 6If the console launches have taught us one thing, it’s that Friday is the new Tuesday. While most video games hit store shelves early in the week, the past month has been full of Friday releases.  The last major release of the year, Gran Turismo 6, is no exception. Unlike Microsoft’s marquee racing franchise, Sony’s first-party sim racing franchise will be releasing on the previous generation of hardware. It isn’t that surprising when you see the absurd sales numbers the franchise puts up. Gran Turismo 5 sold over 10 million copies and is easily the best-selling PlayStation 3 exclusive. Sony couldn’t make PlayStation 4’s fast enough for every Gran Turismo fan that wants to buy the game to also get the new console, so to old hardware it goes.

As you would expect from Grand Turismo, there are several new features in the game’s physics engine. Suspension, tires and aerodynamics have all been remodeled to give the player a better feel for the driving experience. The number of cars in the game is increasing to 1200, including everything from historic cars to the latest and greatest race cars. The total number of racing locations has gone up to 37, pushing the number of layouts available up to a full 100. You can’t argue with that amount of variety.

As part of a 15 year anniversary celebration, Gran Turismo 6 will have a “Vision Gran Turismo” festival celebrating the Gran Turismo, the two-door sports car that is the game’s namesake. This festival will consist of the unveiling of new “Gran Turismo” cars as designed by some of the world’s top automobile manufacturers specifically to celebrate this event. There are even a couple concept cars from non-automobile companies such as Air Jordan and Nike.

It’s strange to think that a Gran Turismo game won’t be the best looking simulation racer on the market when it releases. Even so, it is definitely the most full featured game in the genre. Gran Turismo 6 will give fans plenty of content as they wait for the new consoles to build steam, or sit on store shelves long enough to scoop up. For more information on all the new features, check out the Gran Turismo website.

Release of the Week: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Zelda A Link Between WorldsWhile the new consoles dominating the conversation the past two weeks, a couple of key titles on other hardware hit store shelves. Chief among them was The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on the Nintendo 3DS. The game is a return to the top-down view of the original Zelda games and takes place in the same world as A Link to the Past. The games share a relatively similar overworld, although A Link Between Worlds contains all new dungeons that make use of the handheld’s 3D functionality. Hopefully gamers with the new Nintendo 2DS systems won’t feel too left out.

A Link Between Worlds doesn’t contain the Dark World that occurred in the previous game. Instead there is a parallel  kingdom called Lorule which is ruled by a princess Hilda, as opposed to the classic Hyrule ruled by Princess Zelda. Unfortunately there is only one Link, so it’s up to him to save both worlds from the evil sorcerer Yuga. The sorcerer uses his power to turn Link into a painting on the wall. Luckily, Link finds a way to go in and out of this two dimensional form, allowing him to jump onto walls to get around bottomless pits and squeeze through cracks in the walls.

Unlike in previous Zelda games, your magic meter will refill on it’s own in A Link Between Worlds instead of requiring potions. This is good because bombs and arrows will depend on magic now instead of requiring ammunition. Rupees will also play a much larger role in the game. Items can be rented for a small fee, but Link loses them should be die. For a significantly higher price, Link can purchase items to unlock them permanently. These items are key to solving puzzles and defeating enemies, so unlocking them will ensure you have the right item at the right time.

The Nintendo 3Ds has had a strong year, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is just one more strong title to help cap off the year. It’s a great blend of nostalgia and utilization of modern technology. It should be a solid game for holiday traveling, standing in lines or just curling up at home. For more information, head to the official Nintendo website.

Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

While the focus has been on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launches, Nintendo would like to kindle remind you about the Wii U. What better way to do that than with the release of a new Mario game? Super Mario 3D World, or “the one with the cat suits”, features Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad in some side-scrolling fun through the Mushroom Kingdom. In a call back to Super Mario Bros 2, each of these characters has their own unique controls and abilities. That’s right, Parachute Peach is back! Oh, and that cat suit? It allows players to run fast, use unique attacks and climb walls. And every once in a while… meow.

Tearaway (Vita)

Nintendo isn’t the only one that launched games against the noise of the new consoles. LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule released Tearaway on the PlayStation Vita. This third person platformer exists in a papercraft world and utilizes most of the Vita’s quirky features. You might need to stick your fingers up through the world using the back touch pad or even take a picture of some real-world object to create a skin for a paper animal. The game will definitely provide an experience you can’t have on any other platform.

Release of the Week: Xbox One

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Xbox OneLast generation Microsoft beat out both Sony and Nintendo, releasing their console a full year ahead of its competitors. This time around they’re last to store shelves, albeit only a week behind the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One’s biggest obstacle leading into its release has been its own messaging. In what the Internet has snarkily referred to as the Xbox 180, Microsoft has backtracked on everything from requiring an Internet connection to DRM that would prevent used games to including a headset with the console. Seemingly the only thing they haven’t backtracked on has been the inclusion of the Kinect, a hardware supplement which increases the price of the system by $100. Now they’re up against the PlayStation 4 which has won the messaging war, costs less and includes more powerful hardware.

Microsoft is a software company, and software is where they have the upper hand. The Xbox One’s snap functionality allows you to run additional programs on the side while you are playing games. You can do everything from looking at game guides in a browser to watching TV while still playing your favorite games. The Xbox One’s voice functionality is far more robust than the PlayStation 4’s and when combined with Kinect it will allow multiple users to sign in by face alone and have their voice commands processed contextually based on who is issuing them. Finally, Microsoft has made a big deal about Xbox Live’s cloud functionality which allows some game processing to be offloaded onto their network.

Microsoft’s goal with the Xbox One is to dominate the living room. There is as much focus on Skype, Internet Explorer and various video services as there has been on games. They have made searching for and using these programs as easy as possible with the combination of voice and gesture controls. Even typing in those nightmarish Xbox Live codes has been made easier by incorporating QR Code scanning with the Kinect. The console has an HDMI pass-through so you can connect your cable box and even control it with kinect using an IR blaster, similar using a universal remote. Unfortunately DVR functionality isn’t included, but that is due to Microsoft’s inability to strike deals with cable companies. Finally, SmartGlass software will add second screen functionality via phones, tablets and Windows 8 computers.

With the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 being fairly similar, messaging is very important. Despite some early fumbles, the Xbox One still looks to have a strong road ahead of it. The success of the console may lie in whether or not they can  capitalize on the technology in Kinect in a way that resonates with both gamers and the more casual audience that might want the device for services. To learn more about what the device can do, check out the official Xbox One website. Of course, what would the console be without games? Here are some of the notable Xbox One Exclusives.

Forza Motorsport 5Forza Motorsport 5

The popular Microsoft racing franchise will be the first title to really take advantage of the Xbox One cloud. Using what they’re referring to as “Drivatars”, the cloud will capture the driving styles of your friends and using AI to simulate them even when they’re offline. You will no longer race against soulless AI opponents who stick to a given line no matter what. Instead there will be an element of unpredictability in your opponents. One thing to be aware of is that Forza 5 will only have 200 cars and 14 circuits available, down from the 500 cars and 27 circuits of Forza 4.

Dead Rising 3Dead Rising 3

The bizarre zombie survival game about building unique weapons and wearing ridiculous outfits is once again an Xbox exclusive. Dead Rising began on the 360 before going multiplatform for the sequel.  Not only can you modify weapons, but this time around players will be able to modify vehicles. This will be an important part of exploration and getting away from the three times as many zombies that can be displayed on screen at a time. In an interesting optional use of Kinect, zombies in Dead Rising can respond to loud noises the players make, triggering a rush of zombies. This can be used by the player to distract zombies, although it would be interesting to see how the game handles it when your dog starts barking at the mail man.

Ryse Son of RomeRyse: Son of Rome

This Crytek game follows a Roman General named Marius Titus as he commands Roman infantry against the barbarians. Using optional voice commands, players can verbally order the infantry while engaged in combat. Previews for this game have been very mixed, so it would be worth waiting to see the critical reaction before picking it up. However the game undeniably looks visually stunning. That is, as long as you have the stomach for gore. Ryse will give a glimpse into just how brutal the next generation of violence in games can be.

 

 

Release of the Week: PlayStation 4

Monday, November 11th, 2013

PlayStation 4It’s been seven years since the release of the PlayStation 3 back in 2006. As far as technology goes, that was a lifetime ago. That was before not only the iPad and the rise of tablets, it was before the iPhone, app stores and the rise of mobile gaming. We have now seen eight different iPhones and five generations of iPad. Sony must now compete with not only the formidable Xbox One, but with an Apple that has inadvertently disrupted the gaming landscape. And that is without mentioning the wild card in Valve’s Steam OS coming next year.

As with last generation, the PlayStation 4 edges out the competition in terms of pure processing power. Why the gap isn’t as extreme as it was last generation, it is not an insignificant lead. The big test will be to see if Sony has worked on it’s network infrastructure and can provide a competitive service. This time around gamers will have to pay for PlayStation Plus in order to play their games online. This means the sluggish network, crummy voice chat and significant outages of the past will be inexcusable. So far they’ve promised improved features such playing while downloading, remote play with the PlayStation Vita and life broadcasting gameplay with services such as Twitch and Ustream.

Of course, the biggest draw for the PlayStation 4 initially will be the price. The console will only cost $399.99 as opposed to the Xbox One and Kinect which will be going for $499.99. Sony has its own camera that is somewhat comparable, but is not including it with the console. While charging for multiplayer will be a change, PlayStation plus also includes free games and at least in the current generation has proven to be a good value. With more power, a cheaper price tag and an early win in the PR battle, the PlayStation 4 is off to a good start.

You can find out some more information about the PlayStation 4 on the official website. Of course, all the hardware in the world won’t matter if there isn’t anything fun to play on it. There are a full 23 launch titles, so there is plenty to choose from. Here are some of the first pary offerings that you will only get on PlayStation 4.

Killzone Shadow FallKillzone Shadow Fall

Killzone is about as big of a first party shooter franchise as you are going to get on the PlayStation. While it hasn’t ever caught on as must as Halo did over on the Xbox side, it has been a franchise notable for pushing hardware to the limit. Shadow Fall is making good use of that by leaving the gray worlds behind and injecting some color into the franchise. While the story may not blow you away, this game will certainly give you some eye candy on the new hardware.

KnackKnack

Knack is a game designed by the PlayStation 4’s lead architect, Mark Cerny. This action platformer is about a creature who can incorporate items called relics and other substances into his body, growing and gaining abilities. This will be useful as humans battle against a  resurgent race of goblins. Knack is the big family friendly game on the PlayStation 4 and should help show off how the console handles particle effects. The Two-player coop will give you a reason to pick up a second controller if you feel inclined.

RESOGUNRESOGUN

This fast paced Defender-esque game is from Housemarque, the developers behind the early PlayStation 3 hit Super Stardust HD. This shoot em up puts you in a space ship and tasks you with saving the survivors of a colony from an alien invasion force. You’ll get various power-ups such as lasers, overdrive and screen-clearing bombs as you maneuver through the hordes. The best part of RESOGUN? The game comes free with PlayStation Plus.

 

 

Release of the Week: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (360, XBO, PS3, PS4, WiiU, PC)

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Assassin's Creed Black FlagAssassin’s Creed has become Ubisoft’s annual money maker. At one point, back before the first game was released, Assassin’s Creed was being planned as a trilogy of games. Black Flag will be the sixth game in the main series while another ten or so spinoffs have helped illustrate just how important this franchise is to the publisher. The series has been so successful that Ubisoft is basing its entire portfolio on open world games, with upcoming titles such as Watch Dogs, The Division and even The Crew.

Unfortunately, annualization tends to diminish the quality of games in a series. While Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood received critical acclaim, Revelations and Assassin’s Creed III have taken been steps backward. Black Flag is going to attempt to right the ship, so to speak, as the franchise moves forward into the next console generation. The game features a new assassin, Edward Kenway, and a new modern-day storyline after the conclusion of Desmond’s story in the previous game.

The biggest change Black Flag will bring to the series will be its setting. Taking place in the Golden Age of Piracy, the game will take place in the Caribbean. While most Assassin’s Creed games have focused on exploring gigantic cities, Black Flag will greatly expand on the naval gameplay introduced in Assassin’s Creed III. Edward Kenway will board ships, steal treasure and drink rum with various famous pirates. Exploring cities will still play a part, including leaping off tall buildings in Havana, Kingston and Nassau.

While the past few Assassin’s Creed games have slipped a little in terms of critical reception, the series has no the less remained solid. When new consoles launch, it typically takes a while for quality games to catch up with the new technology. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag may be one of the best launch games a console has ever had, especially from a third party. Whether or not Assassin’s Creed is still appealing is another story. For more information, check out the official Black Flag website.

Battlefield 4 (360, XBO, PS3, PS4, PC)

EA’s premier first-person shooter will debut Frostbite 3, the new engine that is powering several of EA’s next generation games. Battlefield 4 turned some heads when it showed off the Siege of Shanghai multiplayer map in which players can trigger the destruction of a skyscraper. The games will see the return of Commander Mode, a feature that allows one player on each side to open an RTS style map and give orders, drop supplies and call in missile strikes against enemies. The game is looking good despite inventing silly buzzwords to sell itself such as ‘Levolution’.

WWE 2K14 (360, PS3)

New name, new publisher, same good old fashion wrestling. This year will feature a new single player campaign called “The 30 Years of Wrestlemania”. Players will attempt to not only which a match, but complete primary objectives and bonus historical objectives along the way. Additionally there is a “Streak Mode” where you can either defend or attempt to defeat The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania.

Release of the Week: Skylanders Swap Force (360, PS3, Wii, WiiU, 3DS)

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Skylanders Swap ForceSkylanders has become a dominant factor in the video game industry. It may become as disruptive in its popularity as Pokemon once was. The toy-based game continues it’s momentum after launch with a staggered release schedule for its companion toy figures. These figures have become popular among gamers and toy collectors alike and special edition figurines have further driven the franchise’s popularity. This week will see the release of Skylanders: Swap Force which introduces a new base for importing characters and brand new swappable characters.

The most important new feature of Swap Force are the swappable characters. In total there will be sixteen new swappable characters, each of which can have their top and bottom halves separated and recombined with other characters to generate up to 256 different combinations. The top halves of each character will contain their elemental identity while their bottom halves will contain their form of movement. For example, Night Shift is an undead Skylander who can teleport. Boom Jet is an air Skylander with rocket as a form of movement. These characters can be swapped to create Night Jet (an undead rocket) or Boom Shift (an air teleporter). In addition to the swappable characters, 16 re-posed versions of Skylanders from previous games in the series.

The movement type for each Skylander will be important as certain areas of the game will only be accessible to characters with a certain movement. This is similar to how content was gated by element type in previous games. In addition to these movement types, all Skylanders are now able to jump, adding some mild platforming mechanics to the series. While jumping doesn’t sound like much, the simple addition of a little vertical movement helps add some depth to the environments and should make your time in the Skylanders world that much more enjoyable.

While Skylanders has been consuming more shelf space than some entire platforms, this year it will be sharing some of that space as it gets some competition from Disney Infinity. Are swappable figures and jumping the answer they need to keep ahead of the powerful Disney brand? Even with the competition, I wouldn’t count on Skylanders going away any time soon. To check out the new Swap Force figures, head over to the official Skylanders webpage.

Other Games

Not much else is coming out this week. After all, who has the gall to compete against one of Activision’s pillar franchises? Oh yeah, Activision. The publisher is also releasing Cabela’s African Adventures and Wipeout: Create and Crash. These stealth launches are so stealthy that neither game has an official website.

Release of the Week: Beyond Two Souls (PS3)

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Beyond Two SoulsWorried that the upcoming console generation will limit the release lineup for the current generation? Sony would like to assure you that there is still plenty of life in the PlayStation 3. This week will see the release of Beyond Two Souls, a psychological thriller from Quantic Dream, the developers behind the critically acclaimed Heavy Rain. With their last game performing far better than expected, Beyond Two Souls is getting some extra support including voice acting from Academy Award nominees Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.

The story of Beyond Two Souls will be the game’s biggest draw. It follows the life of Jodie Holmes from the age of 8 until she is 23. Over those 15 years you will explore the special connection she shares with a spiritual entity who goes by the name of Aiden. Jodie is the only one who is able to communicate with Aiden and their connection grants her supernatural abilities. The story will be non-linear and jump around to different points in Jodie’s life instead of taking place in chronological order. The story required  an over 2000 page script and 174 days of motion capture.

The interface for Beyond Two Souls is far less invasive compared to the quick time event system of Heavy Rain. Rather than large button prompts, players use a gesture based system where they must flick the analog stick in the correct contextual direction. The entity Aiden also helps Jodie by scouting out the environment, choke or possess an enemy combatant or grant her special visions.

Like Heavy Rain, the results of action sequences won’t ever result in a game-over screen. The story will progress, even if you fail to preform a certain action. As the complex narrative unfolds, it will take into account the player’s actions. With a spiritual entity following around the main protagonist it’s no surprise that death is a central theme of the game, and part of that means that Jodie can die. However that affects the narrative, it won’t be in the form of a game-over screen.

It’s clear that Beyond Two Souls will appeal to gamers who want an immersive story without the twitch control of a third person shooter. The game may be the story telling swan song as Sony transitions its first party efforts towards the PlayStation 4. As such, it’s definitely worth checking out for any PlayStation 3 owner who enjoys story-centric games. For more information, head over to the Beyond Two Souls official PlayStation webpage.

Pokemon X/Pokemon Y (3DS)

Nintendo just has to do things on their own schedule. While the rest of the video game world releases games on Tuesday, Nintendo releases them on Sunday. Except apparently Pokemon, which hits your local Pokemart this Saturday. This will be the first iteration of the series on the 3DS and will include new features such as sky battles, Mega Evolutions and just because everyone else is doing it, horde mode. A new service called the Pokemon Bank will allow you to store Pokemon on Nintendo servers for a $5 a year fee. If you’ve played Pokemon before, you’ll feel right at home as Nintendo’s portable powerhouse chugs along.

Just Dance 2014 (360, PS3, WiiU, Wii)

Apparently Ubisoft’s dancing game powerhouse is going to be sticking around. The fifth Just Dance game will be getting a year instead of a number in the title. Thankfully the game comes with a Battle Mode, which should be the go-to tool to solve arguments between co-workers. Nothing like a good One Direction vs. Nicki Minaj dance-off to decide who brings in doughnuts on Friday.

Release of the Week: FIFA 14 (PS3, 360, PS2, Wii, Vita, PSP, 3DS)

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

FIFA 14The week after Grand Theft Auto V is a bit light. Apparently not many publishers want to go up against the fastest selling entertainment property of all time. Thankfully sports games are extremely consistent, so this week we’ll still see one of the most popular sports franchises. The FIFA franchise is big in North America, but it it huge in Europe and thus has become a flagship title from EA Sports.

Releasing on every console known to man, FIFA 14 may be the first single game to span three generations of hardware as it hits the PlayStation 2 and 3 this week with the PlayStation 4 edition hitting once that console launches. With Portable versions on the Vita, PSP, 3DS and mobile devices, FIFA 14 is hoping to compete with Grand Theft Auto V with sheer volume of supported platforms. While only the next generation versions feature the new Ignite Engine, the current generation versions still feature a variety of improvements and a variety of retailers are offering $10 upgrades to the new consoles once they get here, so why not get a head start?

FIFA 14 features over 60 stadiums, 32 of which are real-world locations. This year also includes the license for 21 Brazilian teams among the 600 total licensed  clubs in 33 leagues. Your team is probably among them. As far as gameplay, the new precision movement is probably the biggest new feature. Players will feel like they have more weight as their foot position will matter more when a player cuts, pivots or otherwise shift their momentum. A new Pure Shot system will also change how players shoot the ball to create a more realistic and rewarding goal scoring experience.

FIFA fans are getting plenty of content with this year’s release. With the opportunity to upgrade to the next-gen version when the new consoles launch in November, there is no reason fans shouldn’t hop right in. That is, unless they’re still playing Grand Theft Auto V. For a full rundown on all the licensed clubs and new features, head over to the ea sports website.

 

 Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 (360, PS3, PC, PSP, PS2)

The other major soccer game from Konami is launching head to head with FIFA. The game’s Motion Animation Stability System improves the realism of player to player contact and about 50 players have gad their movements and skills recreated. This game certainly has fewer licenses than FIFA 14, but some fans prefer the Pro Evolution Soccer gameplay to that of FIFA.

Release of the Week: Grand Theft Auto V (360, PS3)

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Grand Theft Auto VIt’s been five long years since Grand Theft Auto IV took the world by storm, breaking sales records along the way. At the time it broke the record for fastest selling game in 24 hours, was blamed by Iron Man 2 for slowing movie ticket sales and has sold well over 25 million copies. This week Grand Theft Auto V attempts to live up to one of the greatest critical and commercial successes of the generation before the new consoles hit in November.

Grand Theft Auto V is returning to the sunny Los Santos, a fictional representation of Los Angeles. Rather than focusing on a single protagonist, the story will actually follow three separate characters. The player may switch between Michael, Trevor and Franklin as they journey through their interconnected lives of crime. Each character has their own set of skills, income and assets. Trevor is a pilot, Franklin is a better driver and Michael can enter bullet time while in combat. Players can swap between characters within a mission to utilize each of their strengths.

The open world genre has changed a lot in the five years since Grand Theft Auto IV, so the team at Rockstar North has had to work hard to ensure that Grand Theft Auto V‘s gameplay is still up to par. The game will feature an updated version of the dynamic missions that the team utilized in Red Dead Redemption. Shooting in Grand Theft Auto games have always been an issue, so for that the team took mechanics from Max Payne 3. Additionally the driving mechanics have been overhauled, with claims that it will feel more like a racing game then the boat-like driving in the last game.

On top of an exciting single-player offering, the Grand Theft Auto Online mode looks to be something special as well. Launching a week after the game’s release, Grand Theft Auto Online will allow players to create their own online character with their own back ground and abilities. That character can then chose to play mini games with friends or team up with them to complete over 500 missions, with the potential for even more to be added later. A player’s online world will be populated first by friends, then by other players around the same level and skill, with a total of up to 16 players at once.

The open-world genre has exploded this generation. Huge franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Saint’s Row and The Elder Scrolls have dominated the landscape, not to mention an influx of open-world super hero games. Is the Grand Theft Auto franchise still going to be relevant? Take-Two Interactive still hopes so, as reports have stated that Grand Theft Auto V may be the most expensive game ever developed, and a huge part of that will be going into marketing. If you’re ready to jump on the hype train, head over to the Grand Theft Auto V website or the seperate Grand Theft Auto Online page.

The Wonderful 101 (WiiU)

One of the most exciting games coming to the Wii U this holiday is Platinum Games’ mass-hero action game. The Wonderful 101 lets players control a horde of superheroes to battle enemies and solve puzzles. The world is under attack from an alien force called the GEATHJERK, which are too powerful to battle individually. The game mashes the North American super-hero vibe with Japan’s Kaij? genre of gigantic monsters. Hopefully delaying the game out of the Wii U’s launch window allowed for some extra time for polish.

Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (WiiU)

The one-time controversial GameCube Zelda game is back with an HD release on the Wii U. The remastered game has had improved lighting and shading as well as Miiverse and Off-TV Play integration. With the faster load time while the player is on the ocean, players will now be able to unlock faster ship speeds. Let’s see if the cel-shaded Zelda game the that was so controversial the first time around will hold over fans of the franchise until a new Zelda game hits the Wii U.

Release of the Week: Puppeteer (PS3)

Monday, September 9th, 2013

PuppeteerSCE Japan Studio is responsible for some of the PlayStation’s most interesting first party games. They are the developers behind Ape Escape, Patapon and the upcoming PlayStation 4 game Knack. While their games rarely receive much hype, they are usually very solid with new and interesting ideas. Their latest game is a side-scrolling platformer about a boy who has been turned into a puppet and had his head removed.

In Puppeteer the player will control Kutaro who is hunting for his lost head. The Moon Bear King enjoys capturing the souls of children and implanting them in puppets to guard his castle. After Kutaro becomes one of these hapless puppets he upsets the king who promptly devours his head. In a fortunate turn of events, Kutaro finds a pair of special scissors, discovers that he can replace his head and he carries on with his adventure.

The gameplay in Puppeteer is centered around decapitation. Well, sort of. Without his head, Kutaro needs to find some replacement heads. Each head that you find can interact with the world in a different way. Some will allow you to throw bombs, others will turn sandwiches into bouncy burgers.  The scissors allow Kutaro to cut or move along anything made of paper or fabric, of which there is plenty. There is also a ghostly cat who helps you find heads, but you’ll have to play the game to find out more about that.

What really stands out about Puppeteer is it’s atmosphere. Characters are are over the top and funny with good voice work. The colorful Japanese puppet theater aesthetic is beautiful and interesting. An audience accompanies you on your journey, bursting out with gasps of shock and applause where appropriate. A narrator, lights, music and fast paced set changes also enhance the game’s unique story telling.

With a flurry of current generation games trying to rush out before the new consoles hit in November, it would be easy for Puppeteer to get lost in the shuffle. Will this quirky platformer be able to stand out above the noise? If you’d like to know more about why it should, head over to its official PlayStation.com webpage.

Killzone: Mercenary (Vita)

Despite the excitement for the PlayStation Vita’s second analog stick, the platform still hasn’t had a quality first person shooter. Resistance: Burning Skies and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified were both critical disappointments. Killzone: Mercenary looks to be the first quality FPS on the platform. The story will take place following the events of the original Killzone and will revisit some of the events taking place throughout the original trilogy. We’ll have to see how receptive the Vita audience is to a third large FPS brand attempting to make something happen on the platform

Arma 3 (PC)

The Arma series is well loved among the hardcore realistic military shooter crowd. While it’s never been the most polished experience, there is something about walking a kilometer and getting shot by a sniper that you never see that some people just love. Arma 3 is set in the near-future and includes a suite of visual improvements as well as updates to the already impressive physics engine. If nothing else, the updated DayZ mod is reason enough to take interest in Arma 3.

NHL 14 (360, PS3)

Worried about transferring your sports team to the new consoles when they arrive? With NHL 14, you don’t have to! Of course, that’s because it won’t be coming to the new consoles. This year’s game has had it’s physics engine updated based on the FIFA Player Impact Engine and is borrowing some of the fighting mechanics from the Fight Nights series. On top of that there is a new deking system. Finally, there is a modernized version of the popular NHL’94 to celebrate that game’s 20th anniversary.

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (PC)

This is the indirect sequel to the indie hit from Frictional Games. This time around The Chinese Room will take over development, the studio best known for the Half-Life 2 mod Dear Esther. The first-person survival horror game is set in 1899 London on New Year’s Eve. A significant amount of level design, AI and other gameplay elements have been changed from the first game to make sure fans will have enough new elements to keep the scares coming.