“Heavy Rain” (rated M, $60 on PlayStation 3): I’m not just listing this game first because it’s been raining heavily. The PlayStation 3 exclusive from Quantic Dream has been getting great reviews over the past week. Its relatively easy, gesture-based gameplay and complex, well-told (if not always well-acted) story make it one of those rare M-rated titles that should appeal to more casual gamers who only buy a couple of titles a year. “Heavy Rain” is a serial-killer murder mystery, told from the perspectives of four different characters. You’ll play from the perspective of each, with the story changing depending on how you play the game. If one of the four characters dies, the story keeps going without him or her. The game has plenty of mature themes, and players used to twitchy action gameplay might get bored. Quantic’s last game, “Indigo Prophecy,” was a cult classic on the PS2 and Xbox.
“God of War III” demo (rated M, free PlayStation Network download for PS3): You’ll have to wait a few more weeks for the biggest PS3 release of the spring, but if you’re impatient, you can download this free demo and create mass carnage as Kratos.
“Greed Corp.” (rated E, $10 Xbox Live Arcade download): This turn-based strategy game lets players battle for resources of a nearly bled-dry planet. Areas of the map literally turn to dust and vanish once they’re depleted.
“Endless Ocean: Blue World” (rated E, $30 for Wii): If you, like me, are curious about the world of scuba diving but aren’t a particularly good swimmer and don’t want to be torn apart by sharks or killed by a jellyfish, this is your game. Like the first “Endless Ocean,” “Blue World” is a relatively low-stress affair where you just guide your scuba diver around and take part in an underwater safari. Plus, it’s got an in-game encyclopedia, so it’s somewhat educational. In other words, it’s a great rebuttal to the argument that games are by definition a shallow waste of time.
“Sonic & Sega’s All-Star Racing” (rated E, $50 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $40 on Wii, $30 on DS): This kart-racing title probably isn’t worth it if you have a Wii, as you can already play “Mario Kart Wii” on that system. But if you’re an Xbox 360 or PS3 owner looking for a “Mario Kart”-style game, this could be worth a look.
“Grandia” (rated , $10 PSN download for PS3 or PlayStation Portable): This Japanese role-playing game from the PlayStation era is a classic of the genre, with the typical party-based gameplay and strategic battle system we’ve come to expect. It’s another game for “Final Fantasy” nuts to play before “Final Fantasy XIII” releases on March 9.
“Batman: Arkham Asylum” (rated T, on sale for $12.50 from Microsoft’s Games for Windows service): One of last year’s top titles is going for a pittance on Microsoft’s Games for Windows service. The only downside is you have to install the GfW client if you haven’t already.
“Darksiders” demo (rated M, free PSN download for PS3, free download for Xbox 360): This adventure game heavily influenced by “The Legend of Zelda” games was, along with “Bayonetta,” an early sleeper hit this year. I’m not sure why it took so long for a demo to arrive, but if you’re curious about “Darksiders,” now’s the time to try before you buy.
“Borderlands” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $50 on PC): “The Secret Armory of General Knoxx” downloadable add-on went live this week for $10. It raises the game’s level cap to 60, adds a number of new vehicles, weapons and armor. You’ll also get new, tougher baddies to fight and some new class specializations. Um, my Siren is level 15 or something, so I can’t see myself needing this for a while, but for “Borderlands” junkies, it looks pretty essential. Additionally, a $20 disc that went on sale at retail earlier this week includes the two previous downloadable add-ons, “Mad Moxxie’s Underdome Riot” and “The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned.” It doesn’t offer any savings over just downloading the items, but there’s something to be said for having a physical disc, particularly if you’re sharing with friends.
What I’ll be playing this weekend: I’m working most of the weekend, but what little time I have to game will be spent playing catch-up on “Heavy Rain” and working on upcoming games “Major League Baseball 2K10″ and “Battlefield: Bad Company 2.” I’m also going back and watching all the “Alien” and “Predator” movies before I mess around with “Aliens vs. Predator.” (My wife thinks this is funny.) Oh, and I blocked out time for some Saturday morning “Culdcept Saga.” Phew!