After a brief bit of foreplay in the late Winter months, March is where things really started to heat up in 2013, at least in terms of gaming.
Elsewhere, particularly here in the UK, things were cold, wet, and dreary. In fact, weather-wise, it was reportedly the worst March we’ve had in half a century. Even when not talking about the weather – which we Brits are so prone towards doing – current affairs didn’t exactly set our loins afire either.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few laughs. Former cabinet minister, Chris Huhne, and missus, Vicky Pryce, were both banged up for juggling speeding charges and elsewhere MP Eric Joyce was barred from the Westminster boozer. Finishing the political hat trick on a more serious note, the country’s three leading parties struck a deal in establishing a new, independent charter to regulate the press following last year’s Leveson report.
But that’s enough of that. As touched on before, March was blockbuster month for gamers, kicking off with the return of Lara Croft.
Following 2008’s Underworld, developer Crystal Dynamics went back to the drawing board, sculpting not only a reboot for the series but an origin story for its lead protagonist. The result was a critically acclaimed, modernised take on the action adventure genre, likened to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise. What set them apart however was an open-world focus and, of course, the re-imaging on Croft herself. Well-rounded yet vulnerable and inexperienced, it was a perfect depiction and one that didn’t pander to the crowd of feminists who had previously targeted Square Enix.
Arguably less inspired was God of War: Ascension, the fourth mainline title in Sony’s ground-breaking series. Once again plays donned a scowl and scruff of facial hair, tearing through elephant men, gorgons, and furies alike. There was nothing wrong with the game at all, it just felt a little out of place and failed to top the series’ explosive third instalment. With that said, Ascension wasn’t a completely safe bet for Santa Monica Studios. One thing I personally loved about the game was its competitive multiplayer. God of War just seems like one of those properties that wouldn’t work in an online environment but it did, rather wonderfully. Okay, yes, it was a bit messy at times but is perhaps one of 2013’s most unique multiplayer exeperiences.
Ascension’s lukewarm reception was reflected over at the Xbox camp with Gears of War: Judgement. Like God of War it was a solid game and one that even had a few fresh ideas of its own. However, it just felt unnecessary, launching 18 months after Gear of War 3.
March was a particularly strong month for Nintendo. On Wii U, we had a number of ports including The Amazing Spider-man, next to original releases such as LEGO City Undercover and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. The latter, as ever, had me in envy once again and no doubt compelled me to write something about how it was Sony’s PlayStation 2 and PSP that gave the series a platform, not Nintendo, and how it’s all terribly, terribly unfair.
It wasn’t all good news, though. Fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead were left disappointed after the launch of (the now defunct) Terminal Reality’s Survival Instinct. Put simply, it was crap and as close to a quick cash-in as one could imagine. Though not quite as offensive, Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel didn’t exactly fare much better. It was fun in parts but whenever there was a moment of downtime we were always left wondering why the game even existed. Especially with EA’s cutbacks in other areas.