Monday, January 10, 2011

Superheroes, Sackboy and Psychological Scares: Three of January's Best Video Game Releases

Posted By on Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Sweet little Sackboy rules Sonys LittleBigPlanet 2.
  • Sweet little Sackboy rules Sony's "LittleBigPlanet 2."
Once upon a time, the video-game industry spent all of its energy releasing titles for the December holiday season, which meant that even if people bought new systems (computers or consoles) for Christmas and were looking for something to play, they didn't have many new choices in January. That trend started to change several years ago when Sony Computer Entertainment released huge titles at the start of February that showed there was still a market. Publishers got the clue and January has started to see its fair share of major titles released as well.

This month, things get hot in a hurry because the massively multiplayer online (MMO) crowd is about to get a lot of love with the release of DC Universe Online. Players can create and customize their own superhero and then take to the streets of Gotham or Metropolis in adventures driven by the spandex-clad heroes and villains that dotted pop culture for so long.

And there's more. Let’s take a look at a few of the top games releasing this month …

DC Universe Online (PC, PS3)
Release date: January 11
I played this in beta and saw it at E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) during the past several years. While the character creation was a little light in the beta version, this was still a lot of fun. It is an MMO, which means there will be a monthly subscription to play, but it is a community-driven game and players will get to fly, leap or speed around the cities with other players and conquer iconic bad guys—or good guys if you choose the path of super-villain.

There is a lot of freedom to create archetypes and players can also test their mettle against other players in player-versus-player combat. It looks good, plays well and features some of the best flight dynamics on the market. Keep in mind, the controls for the PC version can involve a few finger aerobic/stretching exercises, and the control scheme in beta seemed more geared for the PS3 than mouse and keyboard. Those bugs may all be worked out by now.

LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
Release date: January 18
The original game launched Sony’s “play, create, share” themed lineup and was, quite frankly, a blast to play. The lead character is Sackboy and the goal was to guide Sackboy through levels that were semi-three dimensional, looked like they could have been made from some household items and were generally inventive, creative and entertaining.

For the second game, developer Media Molecule has gone back in and re-imagined the world, giving the levels a basis in historical cultural high points. Players have control over the world and can change control schemes and even the rules. Multiplayer looks to be more robust, offering both a social and competitive bent. There are more than 40 story levels based off six themes and the game is backwards compatible with levels created and posted by players of the original title.

Dead Space 2 (PC)
Release date: January 25
Isaac Clark—the protagonist from the first game—is back and in a lot of trouble. He has awakened from a coma to find that he is the lone survivor of an alien infestation in a massive space city known as The Sprawl. Plus, Isaac is not having a good day. It seems that he is wanted by the government, is on the cusp of dementia and is having visions of his dead girlfriend in this psychological nightmare. The battles will be bigger and more epic, the visuals are superb and the action is intense. The game comes in two flavors, regular and Collector’s Edition. The CE is packed with other goodies, including downloadable elements and lithographs of the aliens.

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