By Matthew Scott Hunter
MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3: FATE OF TWO WORLDS (T)
In Capcom’s third matchup between the superheroes of the Marvel universe and the developer’s own stable of iconic characters, the message appears to be, “less is more.” With a roster that includes twenty fewer characters than MVC 2 and a fraction of the modes found in Capcom’s Street Fighter IV (the new benchmark for fighting games), MVC 3 initially seems a bit disappointing. But once the superpowered fisticuffs begin, disappointment is the first thing to be knocked out. In the previous game, many of the 56 characters handled much the same, but in the sequel, they’re all wildly varied, and in addition to regulars like Spider-man, Hulk, Ryu and Chun-li, we’re also given weird but welcome newcomers like Amaterasu (the dog from Okami) and Arthur (the knight from Ghosts ‘n Goblins who invariably gets beaten down to his undies).
Though the combat takes place on a 2D plane, all of the combatants are beautifully rendered in cel-shaded 3D, unifying their differing art styles. It’s baffling that Capcom didn’t carry all of its diverse modes from Street Fighter IV over to MVC 3, but in the end, standard online play is enough, in which you choose a line-up of three characters to tag team their way through a flashy battle with the opponent’s line-up. And to even the playing field as much as possible, MVC 3 has also included a “Simple” difficulty setting, allowing inexperienced players to more easily activate combos. This way, your friends can work their way up to matching your skill level before they get sick of being pummeled and walk away.
TEST DRIVE UNLIMITED 2 (T)
The isle of Oahu gets traded for the isle of Ibiza in the newest Test Drive Unlimited—the MMO of racing games. As in the first game, you’re given free run of the whole island (faithfully re-created from satellite imagery) to race either on your own or with online players you spot driving around. Wins earn you cash that can be spent on cars, houses and decadent décor. The backdrop is exciting, but the gameplay will leave you wishing you could ship your cars from Burnout and Need for Speed to Ibiza and use them instead.
TACTICS OGRE: LET US CLING TOGETHER (T)
While faithful to the spirit of the original, this remake of Tactics Ogre is a wholly new strategy/RPG, and a terrific one at that. The story is like a mature version of Fire Emblem and changes course depending on how you play. Characters die permanently, which keeps you invested in their plight and makes it feel worthwhile to study the many stats and tactics you’ll have to utilize in order to keep your army alive.
DRAGON QUEST VI: REALMS OF REVELATION (T)
Every so often, the Japanese underestimate Western interest in RPGs and wait a decade or two before releasing certain entries in the Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem and Dragon Quest series in the States. So, on the one hand, it’s nice to finally see what we missed, but on the other, we’re presented with an extremely outdated game. But if you’re a fan of the Dragon Quest world and you don’t mind old-fashioned level grinding, fetch quests and countless random encounters, you can finally play Dragon Quest VI in English.