Among upcoming video game releases: Crackdown 2 has already received top user ratings following its Xbox 360 demo, the Toy Story and Pokémon franchises get new updates, Japanese retail phenomena Dragon Quest IX and Persona 3 reach European and American shores in one form or another, and Ron Gilbert's DeathSpank romps over the horizon.
Crackdown 2 (360)
Release: North America, July 6. Europe, July 9.
Age Rating: Mature / 15+
Crackdown was a bit of a surprise package, bought by many in order to access a trial version of
Halo 3, but the game proved to be a smashing little number in its own right. The sequel sees super-powered peacekeeping agents return to a city rife with gang warfare and now subject to an infestation of escapee human lab-rats. Agents' powers have been enhanced, and there is both competitive and co-operative online play. A sure-fire hit.
Price: $59.99 / €64.95
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS)
Release: North America, July 11. Europe, July 23.
Age Rating: Everybody10+ / Rating pending
One of the most popular Nintendo DS games ever released in Japan, this role-playing adventure sold over 4 million copies in just six months following its initial release last July. Review scores back up the fan frenzy as Japanese magazine Famitsu gave it a rare full marks. It's a huge game in terms of sales, acclaim, and replay value due to the number of downloadable extras. There's also a dual purpose DS stand / loudspeaker in the shape of the cute blue series mascot Slime available from accessories company Hori.
Price: $34.99 / €37.99
Slime Speaker Stand: $49.99
Toy Story 3: The Video Game (360 DS PC PS3 PSP Wii)
Release date: North America, June 15. Europe, July 16.
Age Rating: North America, Everyone (E10+ on 360 & PS3). Europe, 7+ (3+ on DS & PSP).
A tie-in with the big-screen release of
Toy Story 3 in cinemas on June 18, Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear are joined by Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl to form the game's roster of playable characters. Story mode is self-explanatory - what the movie doesn't have is a Toybox mode, where players can create their own levels with items unlocked from the main game.
Price: $/€49.99 (360 PS3 Wii), $/€29.99 (DS PC PSP)
PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure (Wii)
Release: Europe, July 9. North America, to be confirmed.
Age Rating: 3+
The first Pokémon title for Wii (though
Pokémon Snap and
Puzzle League are available via the Virtual Console service),
Pikachu's Adventure is set in a theme park. Pikachu must explore the park, searching for pieces of its broken Sky Prism and take part in a glut of mini-games on the way.
Persona 3 Portable (PSP)
Release: North America, July 6. Europe, to be confirmed.
Age Rating: Mature
An enhanced PSP remake of the epic PlayStation 2 high-school role-playing game
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. Like a Japanese Harry Potter, players must negotiate high school dramas and night-time monster-fighting excursions. An essential addition to any North American role-playing game fan's collection. European gamers should badger their friendly local publisher for a conversion.
DeathSpank (360, PS3)
Release: North America, July 13 (PS3) & July 14 (360). Europe, to be confirmed.
Age Rating: Teen
With game design legend Ron Gilbert at the helm, DeathSpank has the necessary heritage to be described as a mix between
Monkey Island's humorous adventuring and
Diablo's quest-based monster hunting. DeathSpank himself is brave, if not stupid, and needs your help to vanquish his cylindrical world of foes on a quest for an artifact only known as The Artifact.
Price: $15 / est. €12 on PlayStation Network Store, 1200 Points (~$15/€14) on Xbox 360 Marketplace