June is just around the corner, and although there is a huge amount of buzz around what may or may not be shown-off at E3, let’s not overlook the fact that the June release line-up is looking stacked, with fans of action games in particular being utterly spoiled for choice.
On 7th June in the US and 10th June in the UK we get not one but two of the most intriguing third-person action games of the year. InFamous 2 is a PS3 exclusive and the sequel to one of the best games of 2009.
Fans of the Spider-man sandbox games will feel at home here as protagonist Cole McGrath utilises his new-found and unwanted powers to explore the city and take down bad guys. But don’t let the comparison put you off, inFamous was far superior to any of the web-head’s console outings. Expect plenty more great sandbox action using Cole’s heightened parkour and elemental powers (fire and ice set to debut) and the mission editor which can blend your custom missions into other players’ games. Personally, I can’t wait for this one.
On the same day we also get Red Faction: Armageddon, which builds upon the chaos and destruction of it’s predecessor, Red Faction: Guerilla. The series has always revolved around it’s Geo-Mod engine which allows the environment to be destroyed in real time. Now in its 2.5 form, expect even more effective open-world destruction than before.
But this time around, the game seems to be borrowing a little bit from Half-life and Portal in that much of the action will revolve a special weapon: the magnet gun. Simply point and shoot, and send objects, enemies, or even whole walls and structures hurtling around as you see fit. Repair with the Nano Forge and repeat until everything around you is dead.
It’s been in development since 1997. Its name has become the butt of countless puns. We never thought we would see it. But, on 14th June, Duke Nukem Forever is finally released on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. What to expect? Well, it’s a Duke Nukem game… What more is there to say? The developers are promising it’s an innovator, but at the very least we know there’ll be crude humour and plenty of carnage.
Also on 14th June (24th in UK) comes perhaps the only movie tie-in release that we have been looking forward to for quite some time, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. No, you read that correctly, it is a movie tie-in and we want it. Why?! Because it has been developed by High Moon Studios, the team behind the surprisingly addictive Transformers: War for Cybertron.
This time around the Transformers are on Earth, and it features enhanced gameplay and graphics courtesy of a tweaked Unreal 3 engine. What truly set the previous game apart was the fantastic way you had to learn the strategy of when to use each form. Expect more of that, and the new oddly-named “Stealth Mode”. I say oddly, because even the developers admit it has nothing to do with stealth; consider it a half-transformation, giving you access to their previously vehicle-only weapons.
Completing the trio of eagerly awaited releases on 14th June (16th for the Brits) is Alice: Madness Returns. Another sequel that’s been a long time coming, this is the follow up to the weird but wonderful American McGee’s Alice. The sequel continues the story of Alice returning to a demented and dangerous Wonderland due to the madness she suffered after losing her parents. Expect more beautifully twisted platforming, puzzles and action. Missed the original? No problem, all new copies of the game will include a code to download a playable version for each console.
As if the disturbingly-gothic return of Alice wasn’t enough, it’s actually 21st June that’s a treat for you horror fans. Shadows of the Damned is one of those games that just feels like a sleeper hit waiting to happen. In all the buzz around certain FPS’s and sequels galore, some games seemed to have slipped under the radar. The brainchild of one of the most original and creative names in video games, Goichi Suda (Killer7, No More Heroes), this also features the creative talents of Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. It’s a latino survival horror that owes a lot to the grindhouse genre of bad cinema. It’s looking bizarre, but beautiful.
I don’t know what it was exactly, but there was something about the combination of tactical AI, gripping story and chilling horror that made F.E.A.R. 2 such a great single player experience. F.E.A.R. 3 (21st – US, 24th – UK) isn’t even developed by the same team, but the guys and gals over Day 1 studios have just been so keen to show off everything F.E.A.R. 3 is expected to do: a ground-breaking co-op experience, levels that change on subsequent play-throughs, an original online experience, and enough scares that you’d be wise to buy up stocks in night lights.
Still not feeling excited?! Hmm. Tough crowd. Well there might still be something for you. PS3 users also get a slightly unusual but very welcome treat in Tom Clancey’s Splinter Cell: Trilody HD. What is it exactly, you ask? Well, it’s the original trilogy. Of Splinter Cell games. Re-released. In HD. À la Tomb Raider, à la Prince of Persia.
Having spent far too much time playing Metal Gear Solid, I made the transition to Splinter Cell like a hog to mud. And loved it just as much. Should developers repackage old games at full prices? Maybe not, but this one won’t be full price. Expect to pay under £25 in the UK, and under $40 in the US to experience the original stealth trilogy in all it’s remastered HD glory.
And if you are still wanting more after all of that, how about another FPS? Call of Juarez: The Cartel will be aiming to capture audiences in the way the last two didn’t. The big difference between now and then? The upcoming title is actually set in the present day.