They say that April showers bring May flowers, and nothing could be further from the truth in 2011. Gamers were certainly showered with gaming riches on April 19th when Portal 2, Mortal Kombat and SOCOM 4 were all released, but the rest of the month was a bit light on big games. That didn’t stop us from making our predictions of what we wanted to play during the month, and it’s not stopping us now from looking back at the month that was.
Even though it was released on April 19th, this month was all about Mortal Kombat for me. Yelling “Get over here!” with Scorpion. Shooting lightning bolts from my fingers with Raiden. Slicing and dicing with Baraka. Wondering just how little Mileena will be wearing this time around. Oh yeah, the “klassic” fighting game has returned with a awesomely addicting vengeance. Welcome back Mortal Kombat!
Speaking of vengeance, I also played a little Yar’s Revenge on the Xbox Live Arcade this month. A review is coming soon, but it’s safe to say that Atari and developer Killspace Entertainment took a page from Treasure’s Sin & Punishment. Basically, if you don’t have a Wii and need to get your rail shooter fix, you could do a lot worse than Yar’s Revenge.
Beyond these new releases, my April was filled with my two favorite timewaster games: Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 on the Xbox 360. There’s just something immensely enjoyable about short bursts of jewel matching or twin-stick shooting that never, ever gets old. I also put a few minutes into Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and it actually manages to feel like the Castlevania games I loved on the NES as a kid. I didn’t think that was possible in the third-person perspective.
April was an exciting month for me with games! I started the month finishing off Gods Eater Burst, which was tough to put down. After that it was The 3rd Birthday, and I picked up Parasite Eve and played that on PSP as well. I lost an entire week to Portal 2, so I’d say it was a great start and end to a very rainy month. Since finishing it, I’ve been slogging through the slightly disappointing Pokemon Black Version.
The two games of April I played were both kind of surprises for me. First, I got a chance to get into the co-op for Portal 2 with Senior Editor Nicole Kline, and I have to say, it’s a superb mix of mini challenges. It definitely brings over the “how the hell did I just do that” from the single player and I can’t wait to dig into more of them. Second, it just so happens a review copy of Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection fell on my lap, and I’m proud to say I’m thoroughly enjoying the fifth iteration of this game. I was quick to dismiss it, but the added features as well as the use of the PSP’s screen make this arguably the definitive version. We’ll know for sure when the next one comes out in about 8 months or so…
As far as non-April games, I beat both Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together and Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy. I gave strong reviews to both, but the former is absolutely one of my favorite games of the last few years. I also started Pokemon White Version, and although it’s fun to have a completely new roster, I think I’d rather go back to my 50+ hour save of Pokemon Heart Gold Version, which I’m not even halfway through. Overall I give April a thumbs up for having a lot of variety, with a mix of older and modern classics to make a healthy palette for gamers.
After finishing and reviewing Dragon Quest VI last month, I decided that it was time for a break from RPGs for a bit. After coming to that conclusion, I started playing some Final Fantasy Tactics. Wait…ugh. Okay, well I did start Final Fantasy Tactics, but eventually ended up buying Dissidia: Final Fantasy, and starting that one as well. It’s pretty fun, but I’m looking to Mike for info about Duodecim. Believe it or not, I did find a bit of time to finish White Knight Chronicles as well, the game I’d previously started with Mike. Of course, he blew ahead of me and finished it a couple of months back. Borderlands made a return to my collection after finding a killer deal on it, and I didn’t want to put that down. Eventually I had to, as Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga barged into my mailbox and my Xbox 360. Now that I’m in the middle of Divinity though, I’m not too upset. It’s a well-designed game, and of course, there’s ALWAYS time to return to Borderlands!
West Coast Editor
As I expected, April was as much of a month for new games as it was for catching up on old ones. Case in point – I finally managed to put away Dead Space 2, a game that’s been sitting unfinished for a good while. I also spent a bit of time with some of March’s releases, specifically Shift 2: Unleashed. As my review explains, Shift 2 is a solid and enjoyable racing experience with some edges that still need some smoothing out in future games. Of course, I did get both April games that were on my radar: Divinity II, and Portal 2.
Portal 2 especially is an amazing piece of software, with some of the most clever gameplay around. It’s the ultimate “ah ha!” game; an unbelievable amount of satisfaction is granted when one finally figures out the trick to advancing through a tricky puzzle. The crazy sense of humor keeps the game flowing too, thanks to a cast of very memorable characters. Divinity II is also solid, filling a pre-Skyrim void with a monster-sized quest that you can abandon almost immediately, and just wander around performing side-quests for the NPCs milling about. All told April was a very productive month. Bring on May and L.A. Noire!