Welcome to the month of love, groundhogs, Abe Lincoln and… video games, obviously. So January was pretty damn light as far as video games are concerned. February 2012 is correcting that, offering up a number of standout games that range from must-haves to potential sleeper hits. Oh, there’s also this little handheld coming out called the PlayStation Vita, you might have heard of it, no? Below, we’ve compiled, for your perusing pleasure, a list of 10 gaming products worth consideration. Let us know in the comments below which games you’ll be picking up this month.
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
Platform: Xbox 360 / Release Date: 2/22/2012
What It Is: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is Remedy’s second standalone entry in the Alan Wake brand. While not a sequel, this XBLA title looks to explore more of what makes Wake, well Wake. You’ll be put in front of classic horror tropes throughout the campaign as you fight Mr. Scratch.
CraveOnline’s Call: Our staff may be a little biased here, but we fell in love with the original Alan Wake. We dubbed ourselves “Wakers,” god damnit. If this XBLA title can keep the same charm, thrill and mystery the original title managed to provide, we’ll be ecstatic. We want the game to keep us talking even after we finish it. If it does that, it’s a win.
Jak & Daxter Collection
Platform: PlayStation 3 / Release Date: 2/7/2012
What It Is: Collecting Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II and Jak 3, this compilation offers all three classic titles remastered in high definition with added Trophy support.
CraveOnline’s Call: Frankly, this is the HD collection we’ve been waiting for. We’re huge Jak & Daxter fans around these parts, and this collection feels like a godsend for our PlayStation 3s. The added trophy support is a nice touch, but we honestly just can’t wait to replay these incredible PS2-era classics with HD visuals. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Naughty Dog’s Jak & Daxter franchise or a complete newbie, you need to do yourself a favor and pick up this collection.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC / Release Date: 2/7/2012
What It Is: Kingdoms of Amalur has a developing pedigree that’s completely unique. The studio behind it is helmed by a former Red Sox pitcher, the writing was worked on by fantasy-great R. A. Salvatore, the design is being head up by Ken Rolston (the man behind The Elder Scrolls III and IV) and the art is being lead by Todd McFarlane (Spawn). It’s a damn who’s-who of creativity.
CraveOnline’s Call: This game could be the perfect blend of Fable and Skyrim. It could be a glorious take on the RPG genre with an emphasis on fun, style and customization. We’ve got our eyes on the project and will be reviewing the title with the review sample in hand. Hopefully, it’s as good as it stands a chance of being.
Release Date: 2/22/2012
What It Is: The PlayStation Vita is Sony’s second full foray into the portable gaming hardware. It boasts stronger graphics, touchscreen interfaces on the front and rear, two analog sticks and a whole bunch of new social feature. The device hasn’t been selling insanely well in Japan, but the western world will likely be a bit more impressed with the launch lineup.
CraveOnline’s Call: We’re actually most excited about a few of the launch games; three, in particular, have our attention. Uncharted: Golden Abyss looks like a nice addition to the franchise, we’re always suckers for a new Katamari title and ModNation’s portable entry looks fun as hell. Between those games and the thrill of new gaming hardware, we’re really looking forward to this device’s launch.
Resident Evil: Revelations
Platform: Nintendo 3DS / Release Date: 2/7/2012
What It Is: The Resident Evil series gets a full-blown canonical entry on the Nintendo 3DS with Resident Evil: Revelations. Furthermore, Revelations is a return to the series’ survival horror roots, featuring a story centered around Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield investigating a quarantined oceanic city.
CraveOnline’s Call: Our very own Joey Davidson has already embarked on the journey and is enjoying the experience thus far (expect our full review soon). Resident Evil: Revelations seems to be built with on-the-go gamers in mind, offering up small chunks of gameplay to be easily digested on the move. Plus, Resident Evil: Revelations maintains the third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective the series adopted back in Resident Evil 4, while also bringing the franchise back to its horror roots. If you’re a 3DS owner, you’ll want to keep an eye on this one.
Platforms: XBLA, PSN, PC / Release Date: 2/7/2012
What It Is: Shank 2 is the follow-up to Klei Entertainment’s 2010 side-scrolling action brawler. The sequel promises to be bigger, badder and more badass with more devastating combos, smoother animations and buckets of more blood. And, of course, Shank is just as pissed as he ever was.
CraveOnline’s Call: When the original Shank released our gaming staff consisted of two people — Joey Davidson and myself, Erik Norris. Joey was not a fan, I, however, was. The original Shank was a beautifully goretastic ode to side-scrolling beat ‘em ups with slick animations and a hilariously violent revenge story to drive the package home. If Shank 2 is anything like that, only with more refinement, sign me up.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 / Release Date: 2/28/2012
What It Is: EA Sports is bringing back one of its most popular extreme sports brands with the relaunch of SSX. This game looks bigger, better, more dynamic and a whole lot zanier than it’s been in the past.
CraveOnline’s Call: We haven’t played a game similar to the SSX series in literally years. All of our writers can remember slaving over the original games, so the thought of a brand new iteration makes us drool, collectively. If EA Sports has managed to capture even a fleck of that once great charm that built this series into what it was, we’ll be sold.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC / Release Date: 2/21/2012
What It Is: Starbreeze Studios revives the fabled Syndicate franchise, turning it from a tactical, isometric shooter to a first-person shooter where Deus Ex meets the Matrix. Syndicate will offer a full single player campaign and a separate 4-player cooperative mode where gamers can replay missions from the original Syndicate title.
CraveOnline’s Call: This one stands as a big question mark in our book. We’ll admit, the style of Syndicate looks cool, but it may echo back to last year’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution a little too much. And, frankly, don’t we already have enough science fiction shooters on the market? If Starbreeze can do something creative with Syndicate to separate it from the pack, we’re obviously game. But until we know that feat is accomplished, we’re keeping Syndicate at arm’s length. We suggest you do the same.
The Darkness II
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 / Release Date: 2/7/2012
What It Is: The sequel to a sleeper title from several years back. 2K Games has updated their approach to gameplay and visual style with this second entry in a series based on a comic book. The game has been looking brutal, twisted and way too cruel for months now.
CraveOnline’s Call: We’ve actually played the same demo for this game at every single convention we’ve attended over the last few years. The studio behind the project just loves toting it around and showing it off. That’s both good news and scary news. On one hand, we know the game can play exceptionally well. On the other, we’re afraid of the fact that they’ve only been showing off one section. Either the whole game is so awesome that they don’t want to spoil any of it, or nothing else works as well as the demo. We hope and assume it’s the former instead of the latter.
Platforms: PlayStation 3 / Release Date: 2/14/2012
What It Is: The Twisted Metal franchise is reborn with series creator David Jaffe (God of War) and developer Eat Sleep Play behind the steering wheel. This new game is a return to the series’ roots, with Sweet Tooth and the other contestants competing to win Calypso’s Twisted Metal tournament. The game’s focus on multiplayer carnage means it supports 4-play split-screen and 16-player online action.
CraveOnline’s Call: As a whole, we here at CraveOnline aren’t diehard Twisted Metal junkies (Shh, don’t let our UK editor Paul know we said that, though!). With that said, however, there’s some magical aura surrounding this latest version of Twisted Metal. Maybe it’s the fact that the series’ original creator is back on-board, or maybe it’s that this iteration is losing all the excess fluff and focusing on the basics. Whatever it may be, we’re picking up what Eat Sleep Play is putting down. Twisted Metal looks pretty solid if you like your multiplayer experience full of clowns, cars, missiles and carnage.