As Blair said yesterday, every month so far in our review of 2012 has had its own staple game. Unfortunately April was a quiet in terms of big releases (although there was some great stuff on download and portables), so we shall instead label it “the month when we were all asking whether it was E3 yet”. Yup, the pre-show buzz got going nice and early this year, with Sony and Microsoft’s dating of their press conferences being just the start.
Ahead of the Wii U’s big E3 blowout, we got official word of Pikmin 3 and Super Mario Bros U, as well as New Super Mario Bros 2 for 3DS. But that’s not all – April also saw official reveals for some of the big games of this year and next – Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, God of War: Ascension, Dishonored, Lost Planet 3, Crysis 3 and 007 Legends. Oh, and Soul Sacrifice, Rock Band Blitz, Men in Black: Alien Crisis, Killer is Dead, Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, and The Pinball Arcade. Yes, all of this well over a month before the show. It wasn’t all brand new games though; we also saw some Tricky-inspired DLC for the SSX reboot, got some details on Resistance: Burning Skies’ multiplayer modes – pretty big given its status as Vita’s first online FPS – and got a first glimpse of gameplay from the since-panned Medal of Honor Warfighter.
In non-announcement news, the GAME Group (or as we now call them, just GAME) were further getting back on their feet, getting back in stock titles from EA and Nintendo, as well as reactivating their reward and gift card facilities. Sony cancelled their US interactive magazine app Qore, opened up the PlayStation Suite (now Mobile) beta up to all, and registered a mysterious trademark for “From Ashes”. EA somehow managed to get themselves voted the worst company in America, and gave the best response I’ve yet seen from a spokesperson:
We’re sure that bank presidents, oil, tobacco and weapons companies are all relieved they weren’t on the list this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.
Bazinga. Elsewhere, Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick predicted that THQ wouldn’t be around by the end of December – not quite, but yesterday’s filing for Chapter 11 isn’t exactly the best news. The long-rumoured Gears of War title “Exile” was acknowledged…as cancelled, and Bethesda claimed that Prey 2 was in fact the opposite after rumours that the developers had stopped working on it the previous November. Dan Amrich (Activision’s OneOfSwords) said that not only did he not know what edition of Call of Duty would be coming to Vita, but even who was developing it (probably for good reason), a retail site backtracked after prematurely announcing Dead Space 3 and Criterion’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Codemasters announced that they would now focus on their Racing label exclusively, and the first teaser for PES 2013 got released. We also got hints that the long-in-development Unfinished Swan was finally moving towards release.
It was a slow month for retail console releases, with The Darkness 2, Xenoblade Chronicles and Prototype 2 being the only names of note, but the various download services saw Skullgirls, Fez, and the first episode of some people’s game of the year, Telltale’s The Walking Dead. I Am Alive also skipped on over to PSN, Anomaly: Warzone Earth to XBLA, Shoot Many Robots and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery to PC, and Burnout Crash ended up on iOS.
Here on TSA, we had a very busy month, getting our hands on (deep breath!) Super Monday Night Combat, Ghost Recon’s Online and Future Soldier installments, Sorcery, Blacklight: Retribution, Resistance: Burning Skies, Dragon’s Dogma, Dirt Showdown, Borderlands 2, the Game of Thrones game, Dishonored, Starhawk, and PixelJunk 4am, as well as Sony’s PlayStation 3D Display. On the reviews side of things, it was a pretty good month – Trials Evolution and Tribes Ascend bagged 9s, Disgaea 3 Vita, Tiger Woods ’13, Bit.Trip Saga, and the Devil May Cry HD pack all landed 8s, and Pandora’s Tower, Warriors Orochi 3 and A-Men ended up with 7s. The only real disappointments were Silent Hill Downpour (6/10), the Euro 2012 expansion for FIFA ’12 (5/10), and Kinect Star Wars – ending up with the month’s worst score at 4 out of 10.
Outside of the gaming world, James Murdoch resigned as president of BSkyB after news broke of the phone hacking scandal and Sony’s new CEO Kaz Hirai announced the cut of 10,000 jobs in a restructuring effort. Professional lunatic said that London is “intolerant of intolerance” as adverts suggesting homosexuals could be “cured” were banned from the city’s buses, and the Vatican announced plans to digitise 1.5 million pages of ancient texts and get them online. Oh, and a whole bunch of people were shot dead in various incidents in the US, but that would be like saying April was a month with a letter in the name.