Upcoming video game releases: Multiplayer shooter MAG; futuristic action heroism in Mass Effect 2; the brash and bawdy No More Heroes 2; all-star 2D combat in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom; to hell and back with Dante's Inferno; Endless Ocean 2 for European fish fans; the post-fallout isolation of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat; one of science fiction's prime titles in Star Trek Online.

MAG (PS3)
Release: North America, January 26. Europe, January 29.
MAG was briefly appended by the subtitle Massive Action Game, hugely participative multiplayer shooter that it is, constructed to host to up to 256 players in the same battleground. Those 256 are then organized into companies, platoons and squads so as to bring some measure of order to the chaotic online carnage. Various pre-order incentives are available: BestBuy, GameStop, GameCrazy, ShopTo.net and Play.com offer extra in-game character designs, Amazon.com has a PlayStation Home tie-in, and even US convenience store chain 7-Eleven has a poster offer.
Price: $59.99 / €59.99

Mass Effect 2 (360 PC)
Release: North America, January 26. Europe, January 29.
Science-fiction sequel to the 2007 Xbox 360 hit, the expansive action role-player's sequel once more delves into interplanetary conflict, action heroes and heroines, and equally mysterious enemies and allies. Characterization is taken seriously by BioWare, famous not only for its Baldur's Gate and Star Wars adventure games but also 2009's acclaimed Dragon Age: Origins, and the studio is known to have hired over 90 separate voice actors in an effort to invest the game's story with further depth and credibility. The Collector's Edition comes with a hardcover art book, comic, making-of and behind the scenes DVD plus a small selection of in-game equipment.
Standard Edition: $49.99 / €69.99 (360), $39.99 / €49.99 (PC)
Collector's Edition: $69.99 / €79.99 (360), $59.99 / €64.99 (PC)

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii)
Release: North America, January 26
Loudmouthed and cocky assassin Travis Touchdown returns for another satirical, lewd lampoon of violent videogames. The game's developer promises more weapons, moves, characters, and enemies with the same frantic humor as the first No More Heroes, as Travis attempts to take back the city of Santa Destroy from the nefarious Pizza Butt corporation, his title of #1 in the United Assassins Association, and the heart of cool UAA operator Sylvia Christel.
Price: $49.99

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii)
Release: North America, January 26. Europe, January 29.
Released in Japan as far back as December 2008 under the title Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes, this 2D fighting game is Wii specific and has a simpler, three-button approach. Buttons have been scaled down but overall quality appears high, according to reviews of the Japanese version. Among the roster of fighters are characters from the Street Fighter games, MegaMan, Viewtiful Joe, and Dead Rising, as well as various personalities from Tatsunoko Production's cartoons including Battle of the Planets (also called G-Force), the Casshern series, and the miniature-to-massive transforming robot called Golden Warrior Gold Lightan.
Price: $49.99 / €39.99

Dante's Inferno (360 PS3 PSP)
Release: Europe, February 5.
Dante's Inferno is, as one would expect, based on the first part of Dante Aligheri's 14th century Divine Comedy trilogy. The game could be seen as mid-1980s Capcom hack-and-slasher Ghosts'n Goblins remade for modern consoles were it not for the almost entirely indistinguishable gameplay lifted wholesale from the God of War series, owing far more to that Sony exclusive bloodthirsty button-masher than to Aligheri's pensive meditation on the nature of sin and forgiveness. For this reason it is likely to become highly appealing to Xbox 360 owners, whilst PlayStation 3 users will have an eye on the mid-March release of God of War III. An animated film is being released on Blu-Ray and DVD, a game-art adorned copy of the book is also coming out, and there are special editions containing various in-game bonuses, behind the scenes documentaries, soundtracks and other trinkets.
Price: €69 / $ (360 PS3), €39 / $ (PSP)
Divine Edition: $59.99 (360 PS3)
Death Edition: €79.99 (360 PS3)
Animated film: €17.99 / $24.99 DVD, €23.99 / $34.99 Blu-Ray

Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep (Wii)
aka Endless Ocean: Deep Blue in North America
Release: Europe, February 5. North America, February 22.
Endless Ocean was one of the surprisingly good games of 2007/08, with its relaxed ocean exploration, fish collection, marine biology and animal mythology, accompanied by an ethereal soundtrack from best-selling New Zealand songstress Hayley Westenra. Since then and now, virtual aquariums and fish-featuring games have been met with massive popular demand on Facebook so it seems that Endless Ocean 2 could not have arrived at a better time. Rather than restricting player activity to one coral reef, this sequel takes in six different areas around the globe. Graphics are improved, there's a greater variety of tasks, mysteries, and animals to pursue, there's treasure trading and co-operative online play returns so that players can dive with friends as well as dolphins. Japanese magazine Famitsu's four reviewers gave it an astounding four 9/10 scores upon its 2009 release there, so EO2 has something for both casual and involved gamers alike.
Price: €29.99 / $29.99

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (PC)
Release: North America, February 2. Europe, February 5.
Call of Pripyat is a sequel to the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl game, inspired by the Strugatsky brother's novel Roadside Picnic and Tarkovsky's 1979 Russian-language film Stalker. Upon release in March 2007 it raked in a whole host of rave reviews, especially noted for its unique atmosphere as players scavenge a deserted landscape for unusual artifacts - deserted apart from aggressive inhabitants who have been drenched in radioactivity of uncertain origin. That was not only followed by the 2008 prequel Clear Sky but also a slew of fan-made graphical modifications that added an extra layer of polish to any rough edges. Call of Pripyat may not reach the heights of the original, but it does continue the story using the real-lfe location of Chernobyl-ravaged Pripyat and its surrounds. The special edition includes a large map of the game area, two embroidered sew-on patches, a bandana and a pocket lighter contained within a tin case.
Price: $39.99 / €29.99
Special Edition: €39.99

Star Trek Online (PC)
Release: North America, February 2. Europe, February 5.
Cryptic Studios are the game's developers and they have a strong pedigree with previous online outings such as Champions Online. Nine of Star Trek's humanoid races are available from the off, space flight is part of the deal, notable storylines are referenced, and of course there are phasers, holograms, and teleportation. There is a free open beta that runs until January 26, available from StarTrekOnline.com for those who want to try it out. Like many commercial PC-based online role-players, there is a standard monthly subscription fee of $15 / €13. Subscriptions of up to six months available, and those that pre-order prior to February 2 are eligible for limited-availablility year-long subscriptions, saving $60 (~€52), and a lifetime subscription tier. At a hefty $240 (~€210) it represents quite an investment but for those who are intending to sink some serious time into STO, it's a consideration.
Price: €49.99 / $49.99
Special Edition: €59.99 / $79.99

White Knight Chronicles: International Edition (PS3)
Release: North America, February 2.
Sony will be hoping that White Knight Chronicles does a " Demon's Souls" by making it big outside of its original Japanese market. Alert to the fact that the December 2008 game was generating significant interest from North America and Europe, a North American conversion was commissioned and a European language one is to follow, enabling non-Japanese speakers to experience the adventures of a young lad who is magically transformed into a knight in order to save his princess by doing battle with mages and monsters. Gameplay-wise, WKC looks very much like a Monster Hunter for the PlayStation 3, with a variety of quests and foes, and friends teaming up for online multiplayer fun.
Price: $59.99

Also released in Europe in the first week of February are a few titles that are already out in North America: Ben 10: Vilgax Attacks is coming to Xbox 360, DS, PlayStation 2, PSP and Nintendo Wii; Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is a Wii exclusive adventure game; MTV vs ATV Reflex is an off-road racing game for the 360, DS, PS3 and PSP.

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