It’s time. No matter how hard the gaming draught has hit you this month, there’s something for you to play this week.
Let’s start with the big one: If you’ve spent any time on the Internet in the last week, you probably already know that Portal 2 is out today. When I finished the first Portal, I told myself that I wouldn’t mind if they never made a sequel—the game was brilliant but so concise that I was afraid the wonderfully fresh concept would start to get stale if there was too much more of it. Apparently sometime between then and now I changed my mind, because now I can’t wait to get back to the lab to shoot some holes in walls.
The other big game out this week (maybe even bigger than Portal, depending on who you ask) is the ninth Mortal Kombat, which aims to return the series to its blood-spurting roots, before recent installments got bogged down with multiple fighting styles and DC superheroes. With fighting games enjoying something of a Renaissance thanks to Street Fighter IV, it’s high time Mortal Kombat tossed its razor-brimmed hat back into the ring, and this outing could be a real contender—based on the demo, the game feels a lot like Mortal Kombat II, which was arguably the high point of the series.
Also making its long-awaited return is the SOCOM series in SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs. As someone who loves the idea of a tactics-heavy shooter but spent most of his time in SOCOM Confrontation spectating from beyond the grave, I’ve been cautiously following SOCOM 4 since it was announced, including spending a few hours in last month’s beta. (Thanks for the beta code, kube!) Unfortunately, I came to a lot of the same conclusions shared by reviewers and SOCOM die-hards—developer Zipper has made some serious changes to the gameplay in an attempt to broaden the series’s appeal to the trigger-happy Call of Duty crowd, and as a result, SOCOM 4 doesn’t feel quite like older SOCOM games. However, Zipper has promised a litany of patches to return that classic feel to the game. For the sake of “Socrack” addicts everywhere, I hope they deliver sooner rather than later.
If you’re looking for something a little more whimsical, look no further than Square Enix’s Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection for the PSP. This is yet another rerelease of the Final Fantasy classic, but since this one happens to be my favorite of the series, I’m willing to let it slide. Whereas the recent DS remake of FF4 opted for full 3D graphics, this PSP version returns to the hand-drawn sprites of the SNES original, although they’ve bumped up the detail quite a bit and, for the most part, the results are gorgeous. The game also includes a similarly enhanced version of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years—a somewhat-extraneous follow-up to the events of FF4, and an interlude game that connects the two. Personally, I would be fine with just the original FF4, but I’m glad (I think) to have the opportunity to try this new chapter.
This last notable game this week, Dino Crisis 2, was a bit of a surprise, both when it originally came out in 2000 and when Sony announced its rerelease this weekend. Whereas the original Dino Crisis was a forgettable survival horror game (It’s like Resident Evil with dinosaurs!), DC2 transformed the series into a dinosaur shooting gallery where protagonists Regina and Dylan mow down wave after wave of giant reptiles with everything from dual submachineguns to anti-tank cannons. I played it just a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised to find that shooting dinosaurs was just as fun as I remembered. It’s out today on the PlayStation Network for a mere $6. If you need a break from everything else coming out this week, it’ll be waiting for you.
So what are you playing this week? Portal 2? Mortal Kombat? Both? (Portal Kombat!?) Let us know how you’ll be dividing up your time in the comments.