With the games industry in its typical post-Christmas lull, I’ve held off doing my weekly recaps of new, interesting-looking games. This has been a quiet month, but a few titles worth taking a look at have snuck into stores or will be released next week. Here are a few of the highlights:
“Skate 2” (rated T, $60 for Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3):The first “Skate” was so good, it prompted Activision to give its popular “Tony Hawk” franchise a year off to regroup. It’s a bit puzzling that Electronic Arts would be ready with a sequel so soon when the original didn’t sell as well as it should have, but if you like skateboarding games, this one’s definitely worth a look.
“Lord of the Rings: Conquest” (rated T, $60 for Xbox 360 and PS3, $50 on PC, $30 on Nintendo DS): This title is a mashup of strategy and action, similar to the “Star Wars: Battlefront” games from last generation. You’ll take part in huge, epic battles, but you mostly control one guy at a time and get a limited number of respawns. Reviews have generally dinged this game as being a straight-up button masher devoid of much strategy. If you’re not interested in the online play, you may want to wait for a price drop.
“MLB Front Office Manager” (rated E, $40 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, releasing next week): This might as well come with a label that reads, “For hardcore baseball geeks only.” You’ll get to take over a major league franchise and make all the decisions, but the actual games are played by the computer. Whether this will be a great standalone game for a niche audience or something that should have been included with “MLB 2K9” or sold as downloadable content for that game remains to be seen. Still, the budget price tag makes it a bit more enticing.
“Mirror’s Edge” (rated T, $50 on PC): This came out on the PS3 and 360 last fall, but it kind of slipped under the radar because EA released it during the fall game glut, a bad idea for the launch of any new franchise.
“Afro Samurai” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, out next week) is a licensed game based on an anime series, and it’s from a new development house, Surge. None of these things bode well. But the anime it’s based on is more than a year old, so at least you know it wasn’t rushed to make a ship date. Also intriguing is the blend of swordplay with hip-hop by RZA of the Wu-Tang clan. Still, licensed games are always dicey. Wait for a few reviews and impressions to trickle out before deciding whether it’s your thing.