Out This Week

Max Payne 3

Pair Of Threes

The heavily hyped sequels Max Payne 3 and Diablo III hit stores.

By Steve Heisler • May 15, 2012

Out This Week is a roundup of new games that are out this week. These listings don’t constitute an endorsement or a review of any sort. We also don’t pretend that this is an exhaustive list. If there’s a game on the horizon that interests you, share it in the comments.

Max Payne 3
Xbox 360, Playstation 3—May 15

Video game movies are notoriously bad. Max Payne, based on the popular shooter franchise and starring Mark Wahlberg, was almost universally panned by critics. Hell, the freakin’ producer of the game, Scott Miller, said that he “could go on and on” about the things he hated. Anyway, the point is that four years later we finally have a new game to wash that memory away, even if Payne creator Sam Lake didn’t contribute to this one. (Russ Fischer will have the review for Gameological.)

Diablo III
PC—May 14

Ever since the first installment of this action RPG series launched in 1996, the word “addiction” has followed it around. It wasn’t hard to get totally immersed in the online fantasy experience. In fact, prior to the release of Diablo III’s beta, they released a skill calculator so obsessives could start figuring out their character before they could even do anything with it. And let me tell you, the most satisfying thing in the world is to have an overwhelming compulsion coupled with a complete inability to satisfy it. LIVING! Unlike previous games, the character types don’t have fixed genders, so you can choose whatever you want. I’m personally going for the female Monk just so I can feel light years more progressive than the clergy. (Gus Mastrapa’s review of Diablo III will appear on the site as soon as he’s finished with it, like magic.)

Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 2
Xbox 360—May 15
iPhone/iPad, PC, PlayStation 3—May 16

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that if you’re releasing a game called Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, your nomenclature may be getting a little out of hand. This is some serious “iPhone 4S” nonsense right there. Not much has changed: Sonic’s still fast; Tails still has those tails; rings are still collected. Episode two.

Xbox 360, Playstation 3 (developed by Double Helix Games)—May 15
Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Wii (developed by Magic Pockets)—May 15

While the producers of the Battleship film make room in their Oscar closet, those of you who aren’t getting enough of the Taylor Kitsch vehicle—which somehow involves aliens, apparently—can get your Battleship fix with this misbegotten video game. Though I kind of secretly wish I could pop a copy into my PS3 and it would just be an Atari-style adaptation of the actual board game, pegs and all. ALIEN PEGS! (Ellie Gibson reviewed Battleship on Monday.)

Game Of Thrones
PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3—May 15

In the midst of the HBO show’s second season, the Game Of Thrones fantasy franchise (based on the Song Of Ice And Fire book series) expands further into the video game universe, bringing fans of the series more of what it is that drives them to the television: boobs. Wait, no, I meant to say, “role-playing adventure across the fictional continent of Westeros.” But for some reason, every time I think about anything related to the Game Of Thrones TV show, I think about boobs. Huh. That’s so weird. I’m probably the only one. (Samantha Nelson will be reviewing Game Of Thrones.)

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262 Responses to “Pair Of Threes”

  1. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    I swear I’m not saying this to be a contrarian, but all the hype around Diablo 3 is honestly just making me excited for Torchlight 2.

    But if I was, I’d be a 6th level Contrarian.

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Your comment about Contrarians reminds me of the joy I got in building armies of Calculators in Final Fantasy Tactics. It also makes me wonder what Contra would look like if it were an RPG. 

      And agreed; with the current Steam sale of “Pre-order Torchlight 2 and get Torchlight 1” (to say nothing of the game-breaking glitches present in release-day Diablo 3), I’m far more interested in Torchlight. It’s not as if I’m playing for the story.

      • caspiancomic says:

         Dood, the game might as well roll credits as soon as you get one Calculator, what on Earth do you need an army for!

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        A Contra rpg?  Hmn… I wonder if you could do a Mass Effect style hybrid to any good effect?
           And yeah, I have nothing against Diablo 3 at all… in fact, I’ve only played a bit of the first.  So I guess I’m just sublimating all the ambient Diablo 3 energy into Torchlight energy.

      • dreadguacamole says:

        If you’re playing it for the story, the last thing you want to do is play diablo.

         I’m paraphrasing here, but sample line of NPC dialog from the Diablo 2 Beta: “How can these abominations walk in the light of day? Light is both figuratively and literally the enemy of darkness?”
         After Starcraft 2, I’m expecting the cheese factor to break all records.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          I know we generally have a higher standard of quality for story and writing and stuff here as most of us came from the AV Club, but it seriously freaks me out that there are people who play game for the story alone. THEY ARE ALMOST ALWAYS TERRIBLE. WHYYY.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           @Douchetoevsky:disqus : I don’t think there are a lot of people out there who play games just for story, and I have no idea where they get their fix since graphic adventures went out of fashion. 
           I guess casual games? Though their story is often terrible, too.

           Gamers know well enough to lower our standards, skip a lot of cutscenes and roll our eyes a lot. 

        • HobbesMkii says:

           @Douchetoevsky:disqus You know which game’s story I’ve been enjoying recently? Orcs Must Die‘s. It’s razor-thin, I mean, it’s just there to justify the tower defense nature of the game, but it’s got a really playful nature to it that I find charming.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I’m still holding out hope of at least a small cash flow from the Real Money Auction House.  But game-breaking glitches?  Like what?

    • Girard says:


      “What’s a Diablo?”

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      As someone who never really played PC games growing up, I don’t really have all of the goodwill that most people seem to have for Blizzard. I think it’s really funny that the general consensus on places like reddit is that CoD or whatever is the worst and they rag on it all the time, but when something like Diablo comes along with always online DRM, no mods, a real money auction house, and is just generally full of stuff that they would usually flip shit over, they all try to rationalize it away and act like it’s a plus or whatever. Great utilization of doublethink. 

      So yeah, I’m firmly in the anti-Blizzard camp these days. 

      • dreadguacamole says:

         I wouldn’t say I’m anti-Blizzard, but I don’t really like them either. Their main strength is polishing their games to an unearthly sheen, but as a side effect they’ve felt a bit soulless to me, at least since warcraft 2.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          The way people on the internet eat up whatever PR spin they put on a lack of a feature is really weird to me, so i feel like i need to dislike them extra for it. I mean SC2 doesn’t have LAN? and the custom games system and b.net 2.0 in general are just awful. And the fact they they don’t want any tournaments unless they can get a cut.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           They’ve definitely done a lot of iffy things since they got bought by Activision. Don’t know if it was forced on them, or if it’s just the way they always intended to evolve. But I’m currently doing single-player diablo 3 and having a *lot* of lag problems, and got kicked to the front end twice.
          I’m really really not impressed.

  2. Aaron Riccio says:

    And since we’re flogging Max Payne 3, I’ll go ahead and plug one more time (and, well, maybe a final time when the review is posted) for joining the Gameological Crew for Max Payne 3 (and all future Rockstar multiplayer games). We’re over at GLOG.

    I’ll be picking up my copy tomorrow and then vanishing for a few days; hope to see some of you there, especially if you’ve chosen the free online experience afforded by the PSN. 

    • TelephoneToughGuy says:

       Hey, I’m going to look for the group later when I get back on.  Look forward to seeing you guys!

  3. HobbesMkii says:

    I’m going to let my rabid fanboyism off its leash here: Sam Lake should write every shooter.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

      I loved Max Payne 1 and 2, I think as a pretty even fifty-fifty mix of love for the gameplay and the writing. It’s the best knd of pulpy goodness.

  4. UnassumingLocalGuy says:

    Unfortunately, I will be picking up Max Payne 3 on the PC, so I will have to wait a few weeks to play as my favorite flying detective.

    On a positive note, this will give me ample time to sink my teeth into Diablo III.

  5. caspiancomic says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, Sonic 4 Ep 2 is out tomorrow? Man, I gotta start paying more attention to these things.

    Sure, Sonic 4 Ep 1 was… well, not good, and apparently they’re not even bothering with any more episodes after this, so you could with some degree of accuracy call the whole thing an embarrassment. But dammit, Generations kicked ass, and they’ve apparently attempted to fix some of the many, many issues that made Ep 1 so disappointing, so it looks like Sega gets my fifteen bucks again. Don’t burn me again, Sega!

    Actually do whatever you want, I will always buy new Sonic games. I’m weak!

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      It’s tough for me to buy Sonic 4 Episode 2 when right beside it is the Sonic Sega Generations collection, also $15, but which features all the old Sonic classics (including SPINBALL, suckers!), the Ecco games, the Vectorman games, all four Phantasy Stars (the real ones!), and a bunch of Shining games (still bitter that we didn’t properly get Shining Force 3 in the states, and positively fuming, while we’re on the subject, that I never had the right system to experience Panzer Dragoon Saga). Need I bother to mention the side-scrolling glory days that were Golden Axe and Altered Beast?

      Shit. I just talked myself into buying the Generations collection, even if I’ll never have the time to play it.

      • caspiancomic says:

         Yeah, I get the feeling already that S4E2 is going to leave me disappointed, but if the next Sonic retail release is as good as Sonic Generations I don’t mind filling Sega’s coffers a little bit.

        And, now I want to play Shining Force 2 again. And Ecco, and Vectorman… is that bundle available on PSN?

        • Derek_Noakes says:

          It is. It was also released as a disc-based game, if you prefer not to have a bunch of individual titles cluttering up your hard drive and menus. You should be able to find it new for $20 or less and used for even cheaper. It’s pretty old so I’m sure Gamestop has about 20 copies.

        • Ramon Mujica says:

           I liked Sonic Colors more than Generations.. then again, I’m not a huge Sonic fan.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Oh snap, Sonic 4 Ep 2 is out today on PSN! Consider this caspiancomic’s Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 post: Episode 2.

      SO, I’ve already played the game in almost its entirety and it is: okay. I wasn’t heartbroken, nor was I elated. The game has some very strong points. The visuals are consistently great, especially in White Park Zone, and it’s nice that the game included obstacles and enemies that can only be addressed using Tails. It’s nice they didn’t just plunk him in the game and call it a day, they actually designed the game from the ground up with his presence in mind.

      That said, yeah, it ain’t amazing. The music is catchyish, but vanishes once you’re no longer listening to it, which is pretty sour because even the worst Sonic games tend to have kickin’ tunes. The controls are still kinda gluey compared to the Genesis years, which is fine by itself, since the game seems designed with these physics, but every now and then the controls will be so sluggish they’ll undercut your feeling of control over your character. The Sky Fortress boss in particular is a nightmare thanks to the sluggish controls. The physics are an improvement over those of Ep 1, but not by a huge margin.

      Basically I got almost exactly what I was expecting: a pretty good game for $15 that I probably won’t be playing any more this time next month. I didn’t mind ponying up a bit of cash for it because I’m history’s most slavishly loyal Sonic fan, but if you don’t have that kind of dom/sub relationship with the Sonic series there probably isn’t anything here different or interesting enough to warrant your attention. It didn’t give me an immediate case of buyer’s remorse though, so it towers above Episode 1.

  6. Effigy_Power says:

    Something about the fact that Diablo III has been announced and delayed for years and years has completely made me ambivalent to its release. Hype only works for so long and hearing about a game like Duke Nukem Forever seems to underpin that point. No game would be able to stand up to the amount of anticipation that die-hard fans have been building for over a decade. I wasn’t that big a fan of the old Diablos anyways, but considering that Blizzard now only brings out games when they are fiscally sounds instead of done (and then still aren’t done, bugwise), like they did with Starcraft 2… neh.

    That said, I am going to be waiting for Max Payne 3 on the PC like a horndog. Both previous games were beautiful pieces of noire sort of grey grim griminess and I can’t imagine that to slow down. I also love the theme with the weather… Game 1: Blizzard. Game 2: Torrential rain. Game 3: Heatwave.

    The flesh of fallen angels, comrades…

    • Xtracurlyfries says:

      @Effigy_Power:disqus , dearest of all my friends…

      … you might be right about that.

    • dreadguacamole says:

       Was starcraft 2 buggy? Huh, hadn’t heard about that.
       …Holy shit – it actually fried graphic cards? were there any confirmed cases?

      • Effigy_Power says:

         I don’t know any personally, but I couldn’t play the game for days before 3 (read: three) hotfixes had been applied and ATI had to rejiggle their drivers, for my specific GPU anyways.
        To go through all that, for the amount of money they charged and the delays, to then get a game that was nothing more than a graphical update to the original and only 1/3 of the campaign… blah.
        I wasted my fair share of money on Blizzard when I was addicted to WoW for like 2 years, they can suck my shoe for all I care. The company has lost all the good will it built up with me over the years of Warcraft itself… sad stuff.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           As I mentioned above, I’m having some problems with single player diablo 3, simply because of the stupid always-online DRM they chose. I’m hoping the servers will stabilize at some point, but man, what a bull-headed, stupid thing to do. Still, nothing compared to what you had to go through.

  7. Maudib says:

    I was hoping Game of Thrones would be like Dune, a tactical game where you pick a family and aim to control the Iron Throne with an emphasis on making alliances and breaking them.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       That sounds like a fucking awesome game. Too bad you’re absolutely right that’s not how it’s going to be. I hear there’s going to be an ASOIAF mod for Crusader Kings 2 that will be more like that, though.

  8. Basement Boy says:

    Diablo III will be my first foray into the MMORPG world. So far, all I’ve done is stress over what character class to commit to, and *then* I have to come up with a cool name for it… once I get through those hurdles, it should be interesting (if the system, you know, works…) 

  9. Stingo the Bandana Origami Pro says:

    Really enjoying the hilariously nerd-rage-filled user reviews for D3 over at Metacritic.

    Oh, and one asshole rated it a 0, but the text was simply a Max Payne 3 spoiler. So, way to go that guy.

    • Patrick G says:

      Justifiably upset reviews, I would think.

      Personally I make it a policy to avoid buying from merchants who piss on my head and yet claim it is raining.

      That about sums up Blizzard’s marketing scheme, always-online, lag in single player, real money auction house game they call Diablo 3 but which is clearly not a spiritual successor to the originals.

      Me and my friends have plenty of cash to spare as we enter our 30s but we sure as hell will give no further money to Acti-Blizzard after this travesty.

      I love how they’re getting hacked left right and centre. Must be nice to log in and find all your stuff gone. Seems Blizzard’s always-online is failing the consumer, hard – exactly as expected.

  10. Swadian Knight says:

    Really looking forward to Max Payne 3, although a big part of my excitement is about seeing how they portray my country – seems pretty genuine so far, although some scenes don’t really seem to fit the city they chose to set it in.

    Also, hearing americans say São Paulo just slightly wrong is really enjoyable for some reason.  

    • HobbesMkii says:

       I say it “Sow Pow-Low.” How am I supposed to be doing it?

      • Swadian Knight says:

        There’s two big tells that someone is foreign in the way they say those words. 

        The first is that foreigners usually pronounce the first word as ‘Sow’, like you said – that flat-sounding ‘a’ is what the word would sound like without the tilde. It’s hard to convey the correct sound in english, but this guide came pretty close:http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=Sao+Paulo 

        The second tell is that foreign people tend to pronounce São Paulo as two separate words with a pause in the middle (as that guide I linked you to did), whereas brazilians will often say it quickly and without pause when referring to the city.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Based on the guide, “São” sounds like “Soun,” sort of. It’s like “San” in Spanish or Italian, right? A short form for “Saint.”

          I’ll probably never be able to cut the gap out, although, to be fair, it will probably not come up that often here in the United States.

  11. Dale S. Thomas says:

    What an amazing game, Im so glad I was one of the lucky few who got a closed beta version at goo.gl/5jHXe I really enjoyed playing this new version. I also own a Genesis copy, and I can tell you that you wont be disappointed with this new version if you are a fan of the first one as I am.  

  12. root (1ltc) says:

    Akai Katana is out this week! Gameological – please please please post a review of it sometime soon. Please.