We’re almost a week into May, and that means we’re quickly approaching some of the biggest, most-anticipated video game releases of 2014.
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This month has a handful of promising titles on various platforms, including today’s big PS4 release, MLB 14: The Show.
If you’re a baseball fan, this is the first “next-gen” baseball game, released a month after its PS3 and PS Vita counterparts. But since I’m not a baseball fan, I won’t include it on my list coming up in the next few weeks.
And so, in chronological order, the top games of May, beginning with…
Bound By Flame (May 9th)
Bound by Flame is a Western Action-RPG from Spiders Studios, the developers of Mars: War Logs and Of Orcs and Men. It follows the story of a mercenary possessed by a flame demon in a war to the death against evil Ice Lords. All the trappings of traditional epic fantasy are here, for better or worse.
By all accounts, the game looks very pretty, sort of in the vein of The Witcher 2 and Dragon Age. My only hesitation with the title is that publisher Focus Home Interactive has a tendency to release games that feel half-finished, and developer Spiders tends to have more ambition than talent. And this game looks very ambitious.
Take Of Orcs and Men. It was a neat concept—the orcs were the good guys, the men the evil tyrants. The graphics were great. But the execution fell short. I think it was a sincere attempt at a cool roleplaying game, but the writing was flimsy and the voice-acting entirely inconsistent. Hopefully Bound By Flame does a better job, though I wouldn’t expect the game to rival something like The Witcher 2.
Still, it’s kind of neat to see a game release that’s neither indie nor AAA. The long-lost “mid-range” title that’s maybe not quite as robust as its AAA counterparts, but offers a bit more than an indie studio can typically handle. And for a few dollars cheaper—$49.99 on PS4, but only $39.99 on last-gen systems, and cheaper still to download to PC digitally.
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360
Wolfenstein: The New Order (May 20th)
This may be the first-person shooter I’m looking forward to most at the moment. That I’m even looking forward to a first-person shooter at all is a big deal as far as I’m concerned.
It’s not just nostalgia, either. The New Order just looks fun. And it’s great to see that the game doesn’t have a replenishing life meter—like the good old days, you have to replenish your health with magical first aid kits.
Set in an alternate 1960′s in which the Third Reich has won WWII. As always, you play as William “B.J.” Blazkowicz in an attempt to defeat the newly mechanized Nazi threat. And yes, mech Nazis just sounds awesome, especially since they have mech-dogs as well.
Better still, along with health packs, you can carry lots of guns (not limited to just two or three as so many games are these days) some of which you can dual-wield. So there’s a definite old-school feel going on here, in this single-player only game. And I’ll take single-player only over multi-player only any day of the week (ahem, Titanfall.)
And there’s even a stealth option, making this the best-looking game from Bethesda since Dishonored.
Developer: Machine Games
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4
Watch Dogs (May 27th)
Watch Dogs is the big new IP from Ubisoft. It’s a near-future, open-world hacking game set in Chicago. I’m not really sure what to expect just yet, at least from the game as a whole. But there’s lots of little things about it that seem very cool, including a unique multiplayer system that involves hacking other players (and trying to avoid being hacked) as well as racing and a “free-roam” co-op mode.
I’m generally pretty critical when it comes to open-world games. Sometimes there’s lots to do, but it all feels the same. Sometimes the open nature of the world prevents the narrative from taking shape, or kills the pacing. There are also so many of these “open-city” games lately, from Grand Theft Auto to Saint’s Row to Infamous to Sleeping Dogs, that it’s getting harder and harder to feel the hype.
But the quasi-cyber-punk of Watch Dogs has potential, and I’m definitely curious to see if this game can live up to all the anticipation. I’ve also seen hints that the game may take place in the same fictional universe as Assassin’s Creed. That has some pretty crazy implications.
I’m thinking PC is the platform of choice for me on this one…
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4 (later Wii U release date)
Mario Kart 8 (May 30th)
To be fair, PC is my platform of choice for all of the above. No doubt, games like Bound by Flame, Watch Dogs, and Wolfenstein: The New Order will all look pretty on next-gen consoles (or current-gen, I suppose, now that PS4 and Xbox One are here.) But they’re all going to look best on PC, and games like Wolfenstein will simply handle better with mouse-and-keyboard than with a gamepad.
Mario Kart 8, on the other hand, can only be played on one system: Nintendo's woefully under-selling Wii U. And man does this game look gorgeous. And fun. And like quite possibly the best Mario Kart installment to date, which says quite a lot given all the games in this franchise over the years (and on myriad consoles.)
Boasting 32 maps, a plethora of characters, customizable karts, online play, and a silky smooth 60 frames per second, I’m betting Mario Kart 8 just might be the game that gets the Wii U’s groove back. Between this and Super Smash Bros. 2014 isn’t exactly brimming with Wii U titles, but the ones Nintendo is releasing look phenomenal.
I’ve never been a huge racing game fan, but Mario Kart has always been one of the exceptions. I’ve played most of the entries ever since the original, and I don’t think we’re going to be disappointed with the first HD installment.
Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 1
Platform: Wii U
I’m looking forward to some other titles hitting shelves this May. Drakengard 3 looks neat, featuring both land and air based combat, but I’ve never played any of the other games in this series before so I’m not really sure what to expect.
Borderlands 2 is coming to the PS Vita, which is also kind of neat, though I’m pretty thoroughly burnt out on that game, and I can’t really imagine going from PC to Vita—a system that is much less shooter-friendly in my humblest of opinions. (Those tiny thumbsticks!)
There’s likely others that I’ve missed or haven’t heard about as well. Anything you’re looking forward to this May not mentioned here?