Here’s a look at what’s looking good this weekend, with an emphasis on new releases, sales or games that are otherwise relevant.
“Portal 2” (rated E10+, $60 for Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, $50 for PC): Valve’s latest hybrid of puzzler, platform-jumping game and first-person shooter is what everyone I follow on Twitter has been talking about all week. I’m working my way through the single-player game, with an eye toward turning around a review soon. So far, I’m loving the blend of challenging puzzles, minimalist design and wry humor that made the first “Portal” a surprise hit when it was included on “The Orange Box.” If you want to see what all the fuss is about but don’t want to shell out $60 for a new “Portal,” the original sells for cheap on Xbox Live Arcade and Steam.
“Mortal Kombat” (rated M, $60 for Xbox 360 or PS3): I previewed the relaunch of the classic fighting-game series early last week.
“Gears of War 3” beta (rated M, free download for certain Xbox 360 owners): The “Gears of War 3” multiplayer beta test kicked off last weekend, but it opened to those of us who own “Bulletstorm” on Monday. If you have the Epic Edition of that game, you can download the “GoW 3” beta for free and start chainsawing fools immediately. I managed to squeeze in a few hours on Thursday and, though I was horrible at it, it was as fun as it was when I got to play it early back in February.
“Red Johnson’s Chronicles” (rated M, $6.50 download for PlayStation Plus subscriber on the PS3): You can’t actually buy and play this game this weekend because the PlayStation Network has been down, making Lexis Numerique’s blend of “Phoenix Wright” and “Monkey Island” effectively unavailable. I still wanted to mention it, though, because it’s from a small studio that was hoping to make a bit of a splash. Now, due to circumstances entirely beyond their control, they’re undoubtedly struggling. Adventure games are a bit of a niche genre, I know, but if you’re at all predisposed to like them, give “RJC” a look when the PSN comes back. My preview is here.
“Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection” (rated E10+, $30 for PlayStation Portable): This PSP package is probably the definitive package of Square Enix’s classic role-playing game from the Super Nintendo era. It has enhanced visuals, and includes “The After Years,” a sequel to the original game only available on Japanese mobile phones and WiiWare. It also includes an “Interlude” that bridges the two stories.
“SOCOM 4: Navy Seals” (rated M, $60 on PS3): The reviews for this multiplayer shooter have been middling, and the tiny bit I played back at the Game Developers Conference in March failed to blow me away. But if you’re looking for a military-themed shooter to bide your time, it’s worth a look.
“Prince of Persia Trilogy HD” (rated M, $40 on PS3): This compilation contains reworked, prettier versions of three “PoP” game from the PS2/Xbox/GameCube generation. Your $40 gets you “The Sands of Time,” “The Warrior Within” and “The Two Thrones.”
“Conduit 2” (rated T, $50 on Wii): The reviews for this Wii shooter are a little on the disappointing side. On the other hand, how many worthwhile Wii games have come out so far this year? Worth a look if you’re interested in the online and split-screen multiplayer modes, which controlled well when I previewed the game.