Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City (PS3/360)
Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City is unlike any other Resi title. Set during the events of RE 2 and 3, you are part of the Umbrella Security Service (USS), and are out to eradicate all traces and evidence of the T-virus, that would otherwise incriminate your bosses, those at the heinous Umbrella Corp. If the thought of being nameless goons seems a bit disappointing, there is ‘Heroes’ mode, which allows you to star as Leon S. Kennedy and other real characters from the RE universe.
This is not designed as a single-player game, co-op is key, whether it’s with your friends or strangers. Once you get over the change to the game mechanics, ORC can be a lot of fun. There are six classes to choose within the USS, each with their own abilities that can be upgraded as you progress. There are also some boss battles that require the use of your whole team in a more tactical fight; going in all guns blazing will simply result in a quick and embarrassing death.
As a stand-alone title, ORC would generate a lot of interest. As a RE title, opinions are likely to be divided as to whether its worthy of the RE moniker.
Ninja Gaiden 3 (PS3/360)
This is the first title without series creator Tomonobu Itagaki. Whether it is because of his departure or irrespective of it, there are some notable changes. Most notably the difficulty; NG3 is far easier than its predecessors. It may make some purists angry, but opens up the potential for new players to be enticed. The second is that a lot of the fantasy elements have been removed, making the title a little more believable. Ryu Hayabusa now works for the UN, taking on unknown terrorists, instead of, say, skeletons, around the world. There are still things such as the use of Ninpo and the Dragon Sword, but it is a more grounded effort by Team Tecmo.
There is also the new addition of multiplayer, which is fast becoming the norm these days, even for traditionally single player experiences. Here, you can take part in 8 player death matches, either ‘free-for-all’ or ‘4 vs. 4.’ Battles are fast paced, and a little difficult to follow, but there is a nice sense of satisfaction when defeating an enemy with a Ninpo-Blast.
With these changes, it’s hard to gauge exactly how the Ninja Gaiden community will react to such a title, but sometimes, a little change can be a good thing.
Mario Party 9 (Wii)
Following the theme of change this month, Mario Party 9 also sees a reboot of sorts. This time, instead of boards, there are maps or stages for characters to move across. Players also do not throw their own dice; everyone travels in a vehicle, which each player taking turns to be the captain. When travelling as the captain, anything you land on – mini stars, Bowser squares etc – only affects you, not the other travellers. There are also a lot more special dice items, and without going into too great a detail, all these changes allow for a more tactical Mario Party than ever before.
Anyone who buys/plays Mario Party, do so for one main reason – the mini games. There are 78 mini games this time round, and thankfully the good outweigh the boring. You have button mashers, racers, platformers, reaction based games, and of course games based entirely on luck. Some of the mini games are likely to infuriate players, but the fun of Mario Party was always to work out what your opponents were terrible at, and selecting that genre when battle was due.
So get out that dust-covered Wii and start having some multiplayer goodness.