Here’s a look at what’s looking good this weekend, with an emphasis on new releases, sales or games that are otherwise relevant.
It’s another slow week for new releases, and I’m not recommending the week’s lone big game, “Resident Evil: The Mercenaries” for the 3DS, unless you plan on keeping it forever. The cartridge won’t allow you to erase save files from it, so once you create a save file, that’s it. You can’t loan it to a friend and have that friend start a new game, and even though GameStop is accepting trade-ins on the title, you’d be kind of a jerk to trade in a copy that no one else could play.
Despite the slowdown, here’s what’s catching my eye:
Free PlayStation Network downloads: If you haven’t taken advantage of the PSN’s Welcome Home offer yet, it expires today. (There’s no word on what time, exactly.) Hop onto the PSN and queue up up to two downloads each for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. I’d recommend you go with “Infamous” and “LittleBigPlanet” on the PS3, though I grabbed “Dead Nation” and “Super Stardust HD” because I already had those games. On the PSP, the choices are between “LittleBigPlanet,” “ModNation Racers” and “Killzone Liberation.” I went with “LBP” and “Killzone.” Don’t forget to sign up for your free month of PlayStation Plus, too.
“Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception” multiplayer beta: If you’re a PlayStation Plus member, you can hop on line and help beta test “Uncharted 3″ for free. More details here. Obviously, if you haven’t signed up for your free month of PlayStation Plus from the Welcome Back program yet, you can use that to grab the beta.
“Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax” (rated E, $10 download on Xbox 360): The original “Half-Minute Hero” was something of a cult hit on the PSP back in 2009. If you missed it, it’s essentially a light-hearted take on Japanese-style role-playing games, condensing an entire story down into a 30-second window. Each RPG, of which there are about 60, comes with its own online leaderboard.
“UFC Personal Trainer: The Ultimate Fitness System” (rated E, $50 on Xbox 360, also available on PS3): I actually got a look at this new fitness title for Kinect a while back during a meeting with THQ in San Francisco. Essentially, it accomplishes the same goals as titles like “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved,” but it does it in a little bit more macho way designed to appeal to fans of ultimate fighting. If you’ve been looking for a workout game and are a fan of UFC, you’ll probably appreciate these exercises and cameos from UFC fighters more than you would dig something like “Your Shape” or EA’s “Active 2.”
“World of Warcraft” (rated T, now free to play up to level 20, PC): Hot on the heels of “Team Fortress 2″ going free to play last week, Blizzard’s massively multiplayer online role-playing game this week went free to play until characters hit level 20. If you’ve been curious about the game but haven’t felt like ponying up for a subscription or are just lazy, now’s a good time to get in.
“Comic Jumper” (rated T, $5 download for Xbox 360): This stylish, side-scrolling beat-’em-up from Twisted Pixel features the studio’s usual whimsical humor and takes place amid four comic-book-inspired worlds. It’s one of those games I grabbed during a previous sale, but $5 is the cheapest I’ve seen it yet.
“Final Fantasy III” (rated E10+, $8 download on Wii): Technically, this is actually the game more commonly known these days as “Final Fantasy VI,” but it marked the series’ third release in the United States, which is why we’re still living with this stupid numbering system years later. Anyway, this is one of the “Final Fantasy” series’ classics, so if you haven’t given it a whirl yet and are still buying Virtual Console titles despite Nintendo’s backward console-linked downloads, this is a great one to take the plunge on.
“Kirby’s Dream Land” (rated E, $4 download for 3DS): This is Kirby’s first-ever game, and it’s $4. If you’ve finished “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” and are looking for something to play on Nintendo’s fledgling handheld, this isn’t a bad bet.
“Galaga Legions DX” (rated E, $10 download on Xbox 360): As much as I love these cool remakes of old arcade classics, I’m starting to think Namco Bandai is getting a little out of hand with this DX stuff. As someone who purchased the regular old “Galaga Legions” (and loved it), I probably won’t be picking up DX at $10, but if you haven’t tried “Legions” yet, this is likely the definitive version.
“Beyond Good & Evil HD” (rated T, $10 download on PS3, also available on Xbox 360): This 2003 adventure game stars a female journalist trying to expose the sinister doings of a corrupt government. It’s an absolute classic, and if you haven’t played it, $10 is a great price. This downloadable version has been prettied up a bit from the game’s original PS2/Xbox/GameCube code.
Assorted PC titles: Steam’s Summer Sale and Impulse‘s Independence Day sale mean you can grab tons of cheap PC games for dirt cheap. And GOG.com got in on the action, too, with sales on Interplay’s old games through Monday. You might as well grab “Fallout,” “Fallout 2″ and “Fallout Tactics” at the very least.