Spring brings rain, flowers, butterflies and… triple-A blockbuster video games. From long-awaited sequels to retro platformers and a hefty digital content upgrades, here’s my most anticipated picks from Xbox Canada’s Spring 2013 X-Series event we attended on February 13.
Bioshock Infinite (Irrational Games) – March 23
Unlike Bioshock and Bioshock II‘s tight, creepy spaces, Bioshock Infinite takes the player out into the open environs of Columbia, a parallel world to the US set in the late 1800s. You play as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent who has defected from the agency. His initial mission finds him rescuing Elizabeth, a girl gifted with powers like the ability to manipulate “tears” — holes in the fabric of time and space. These holes allow you to alter the path of the game including the moral choices for which the series is noted. This steampunk revision of American history promises to be one of the most exciting titles of the season.
Gears Of War: Judgment (Epic Games) – March 22
Set 14 years prior to the first episode, Lt. Baird of Kilo Squad is being court-martialed for breaching military directives. Producers that worked on the new alien blaster told us that they tried to achieve a balance to please fans, toning down the technicolour Locust blood and adding more tower-defense strategy elements, something that was introduced in Gears of War 3.
Terraria (Demilogic) – March 2013
A cross between Minecraft and classic side-scrolling platformers like Kid Icarus or Commander Keene, players explore highly customizable, vast and vibrant worlds. Dig to the end of the earth and use what you discover to craft armour, weapons and items used to build fantastic dwellings. Terraria features 14 different environments, 29 types of building blocks and over 100 mythical enemies.
Tomb Raider (Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics) – March 5
Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix drag Lara Croft by the bra straps into the grittiest, most realistic version of Tomb Raider we’ve ever seen. The studio caught on that gamers were more interested in Laura’s backside than her backstory, and promises a Dark Knight meets James Bond plot almost as engrossing as Croft’s form-fitting adventuring wardrobe. This is also the first Tomb Raider game to receive an “M” rating from the ESRB.
UFC, MLB.TV, NBA and NHL Sports Picks
Microsoft has extended its Xbox 360 app library with the launch of Sports Picks. This new program for Xbox Live Gold subscribers lets users predict and pick winners of upcoming college football, NBA games and UFC matches. Paid content channels from UFC, MLB.tv, NBA and NHL allow subscribers to watch games live without any cable or satellite.
Hate having to pay monthly for Netflix content that isn’t updated often enough? Xbox is finally launching BestBuy’s patented Pay Per View movie service, CinemaNow, which will compete with Apple TV and other video-on-demand platforms by releasing movies as soon as they become available. Expect to pay as low as $2.49 per episode for HD TV episodes.