This is it. The motherload. With nearly 40 new games on the way, March is easily the busiest release month of 2013 so far. And considering it includes new God of War, BioShock, Tomb Raider, and Gears of War entries, it could also be the most important month of the entire year.
What will you play? What will you skip? The options are many, but we’re here to help with our jam packed guide to the games of March 2013.
Platform: Wii U
EU: March 8
Activision’s friendly neighborhood wallcrawler is finally coming to the Nintendo Wii U in this super-sized version of last year’s movie adaptation. The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition will swing in for Nintendo’s new system with enhanced Wii U features like the ability to use the GamePad as Peter Parker’s cell phone, city map, and skills manager. The edition will also come with four DLC packs, including the Stan Lee Adventure Pack, starring Marvel’s main man in a race across New York; the Lizard Rampage Pack, featuring Dr. Connors and his scaly alter-ego; the Rhino Challenge, featuring the rampaging Rhino; and the Oscorp Search and Destroy Pack, an add-on that will toss new mini-games and costumes to the Spidey mix.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition is the ideal version for Wii U owners who are itching for a solid superhero game and everything Spidey’s latest virtual appearance had to offer. Read our impressions of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions in our The Amazing Spider-Man review
EU: March 8
Atelier’s North American fans will soon have a chance to catch up with cult RPG series, now published by Tecmo Koei. The Alchemist of Dusk returns players to the franchise as a young girl named Ayesha who leaves the safety of her workshop to search for her missing sister. The gameplay will focus on collecting alchemy recipes, gathering ingredients, and wielding new offensive and defensive concoctions in turn-based combat. An updated synthesis system will also grant Ayesha the power to learn new skills to tinker with items in her inventory.
Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (aka The Alchemist of Twilight Land) was developed by studio Gust and originally released in Japan in June 2012.
EU: March 8
Set a quarter of a century after the events of the first Castlevania Lords of Shadow, Mercury Steam’s sequel will follow Trevor Belmont, Simon Belmont, and Alucard as they work in their individual timelines to stop their ancestor-turned-Dracula, Gabriel Belmont. All four characters will be playable at different intervals in the game, and their success (or failure) will set the stage for the meatier sequel, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, which is slated for PS3 and Xbox 360 later this year.
The game will mark the series’ first use of stereographic 3D visuals. However, the actual gameplay will be carried out in Castlevania’s more traditional 2.5D side-scrolling style. Catch a glimpse of how the Belmont clan will handle their next outing in our Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate preview.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
Want to a win a million bucks? Warm up those pitching thumbs. 2K Sports’ tentpole baseball franchise is returning for its annual installment, and with it the chance to win $1 million by pitching a no-hit game in the slightly reworked promotion, The Perfect Game Challenge. In addition to promises of riches, MLB 2K13 will boast gameplay refinements, including enhancements to its trademark analog pitching controls and the My Player, Franchise, and Postseason modes.
Lastly, Rays fans can rejoice–MLB 2K13’s cover will be graced by recent Cy Young award winner David Price of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Platform: PS3, PS Vita
March is calling up two new ways to get your digital baseball fix. If 2K’s take isn’t you style, you can always suit up for SCE Studios San Diego’s MLB 13 The Show. The latest iteration of “The Show” franchise, the game will feature an all-new beginner mode, a more streamlined approached to matches, and a new postseason mode that will allow players to skip right into playoffs and enjoy what’s being touted as a more amped up game presentation.
Outside of the main games, the 2013 edition will sport a much deeper franchise mode, featuring individual player training, a deeper scouting system, and enhanced player development mechanics; the sum of which will give armchair managers a more in-depth baseball sim experience. MLB 13 The Show will also come ready for cross-play compatibility with the PS Vita, allowing fans on both Sony systems to challenge one another to its Home Run Derby mode.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
EU: March 8
The Shinobi World War wages on in this continuation of the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series. Building on the main series’ plot, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 will carry players through the Five Kage Summit Arc beginning with a desperate skirmish against Nine-Tails on the steps of Konoha village. Over 80 characters will be playable, rendering this chapter the largest of its kind. Additions like an Instant Awakening perk and tweaks to the Team Attack System will also improve the game’s combat flow; while the story mode will allow for players to explore different paths via “The Ultimate Decision” system.
Lost? Confused? Have no idea who this Nine-Tails guy is? Catch up with our Nauto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 review.
Platform: PC, Mac (Q1/Q2 2013)
Experience the glory (and absurdity) of old-school action cinema in this 2.5D riff on the muscle-headed heroes of the 80s and 90s. Developed by Arrowhead Game Studios (Magicka), The Showdown Effect pits six ridiculously clichéd badasses against one another in a brawl to the (often bloody) death. More than a Super Smash Bros. clone, The Showdown Effect will groove to its own beat, incorporating multi-leveled arenas, customized loadouts, and progressive rewards–all wrapped in a balls-to-the-wall design that will pay homage to the greatest and most outlandish qualities of ’80s and ’90s action films. Meet Dutch McClone, Sgt. Lance Koboldski, Mizu, and the rest of the cast in GR’s The Showdown Effect preview.
EU: March 7
Relive the years of late nights, last minute essays, and cold pizza in this ninth expansion pack for The Sims 3. University Life will introduce Sim players to the sub-neighborhood of Sim University where avatars young and old will have the opportunity to partake in the joys of higher education. Attend classes, skip classes, slave away at part-time jobs, or spend all your parents’ money on dorm parties and campus stores–how you spend your formative years are up to you. Existing Sim characters will be able to enter the university by enrolling via phone, computer, or recruiter NPCs; and the results of their studies will have an impact on their careers in the main game.
If your Sims have been wasting away in dead-end careers, or living on their parents bill, The Sims 3: University Life promises to get them back on track while soaking in a ton of new Sim surprises along the way.
EU: March 8
The wait is nearly over for the return of gaming’s premier city-building brand. SimCity (aka SimCity 2013) is being billed by developer Maxis as a reboot that will combine many of franchise’s classic management elements with new street level mechanics and multiplayer capabilities.
SimCity was coded on EA and Maxis’ GlassBox sim engine that makes it possible for every element of a player’s city–from its people, cars, buildings, and resources–to operate by their own rules while dynamically affecting the elements around them. In short: Get ready to flex your god complex on a whole new virtual level.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Plunge into the Lara Croft first adventure in this franchise reboot from Crystal Dynamics. Telling the tale of Lara’s origins, Tomb Raider will whisk players to an island in the Dragon’s Triangle where they’ll be forced to survive both the human and animal threats that live within. In addition to tracking down survivors of Lara’s shipwreck and fighting unknown forces, players will explore the island for extra side quests, challenge tombs, and useful weapons and tools. In addition, Crystal Dynamics has confirmed the inclusion of a multiplayer mode wherein players will split into teams of survivors and scavengers to fight for valuable supplies.
Tomb Raider represents a new, darker spin on Lara’s long-running series. Fans will see how a frightened teenager became the legendary Lara Croft in the franchise’s first M-rated chapter. You can see all our thought on Lara’s new quest by reading the Tomb Raider review.
EU: March 8
The Creative Assembly’s celebrated war simulation is getting the gold treatment this month. Total War: Shogun 2 Gold Edition will ride into North America with the original 2011 game, the Total War: Shogun 2 – Rise of the Samurai DLC, and the Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai standalone expansion.
In Europe and Australia, the Gold Edition will ship with all available DLC (minus the Blood Pack) in limited-edition Wajima-nuri themed packaging. See why this compilation is essential for strategy buffs, and why we awarded it a near perfect score, in our Total War: Shogun 2 review.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Steal from friends and burgle enemies in this four-player multiplayer title from Candygun studio. Invoking the fast-action spirit of Fat Princess, Bomberman, and other frantic multiplayer games, Dollar Dash will task groups of four with stealing loot and protecting their own stash using an assortment of zany abilities and weapons. The downloadable title will ship with 30 maps and numerous modes.
Armed with a bevy of character customization options and a wealth of charm, Dollar Dash looks to offer a goofy diversion from March’s weightier titles.
EU: Out now
Make like a rolling stone in this action download for the Nintendo 3DS. Released in Japan as Hyu Stone in 2011, Kersploosh! will see players guiding a stone’s descent down a well while avoiding weird obstacles and dangers in its path. Success will be rewarded with stone upgrades and the chance to control other objects such as coins, balls, and Russian nesting dolls as they hurl to their stoney deaths.
Kersploosh! has already landed for European 3DS owners under the name Splash or Crash.
The free-to-play realms of The Astral are about to get bigger with this incoming expansion from developer Astrum Nival. Fresh from its February 2013 public beta, Lords of Destiny is slated to be the largest expansion for the online MMORPG, bringing gameplay changes, additions to Allods Online’s endgame, a level cap increase to 55, and all new overworld zones. In addition, the add-on will introduce eight new Astral Allods, complete with their own new dungeons ripe for the raiding.
Allods Online is the third title in the Rage of Mages series. It officially launched in April 2011 and is played free by players across the globe.
EU: March 13
At long last, Sony’s God of War is ready to reclaim his PS3 throne. This highly anticipated prequel is set a decade before the first God of War and follows the bloodthirsty Spartan as he fights for redemption and freedom from Ares’ control after slaying his own family in a fit of rage. Throughout the journey, players will tear a swath through Greek deities and monsters, all presented in the grandiose scale the series has become known for. This time around, Kratos will even control the fabric of time itself with a Life Cycle mechanic that can manipulate time to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.
God of War: Ascension will ship with a multiplayer mode where players will scrap against human foes in a number of beat ’em up modes. Combined with a revamped combat and weapon system, these features promise to set Kratos up for glory in his new (and probably last) PS3 epic. Take a peek at the carnage to come in our God of War: Ascension: Hands-on the story mode.
EU: March 15
North American fans of the cultish Hyperdimension Neptunia series will soon have the chance to catch up with Neptune’s adventures in this localized sequel. Set in an alternate 1989 timeline, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory picks up on the events of Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk2 and finds Neptune, former CPU of Planeptune, stripped of her title and caught in a space/time snafu. Telling an original tale, Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory will offer insight into the series’ console wars and take players through an action RPG featuring a new gang of foes called the Seven Sages, who are determined to erase CPUs from existence.
As the second chapter of StartCraft II’s expansion trilogy, Heart of the Swarm jumps ahead two years after Wings of Liberty. It will star former Zerg leader Sarah Kerrigan as she adjusts to life a human and attempts to seize control of her former Zerg troops to enact revenge on the Terran Emperor, Arcturus Mengsk. Kerrigan’s solo campaign will play out over roughly 20 missions and see the former Zerg matriarch hopping planet to planet to amass a devastating Zerg army. New units will join the battle including the fiery Hellbat, flying Tempest, and suffocating Swarm Host; while StarCraft II’s multiplayer will also see some new additions of its own.
Binding the social experience will be a revamped Battle.net, allowing for greater gameplay variations with friends and strangers alike. Get caught up with Kerrigan and her plight in our rundown of StarCraft II’s first expansion in Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty review.
Platform: PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
Take a breath, steady your hands, and take aim at this sequel to City Interactive’s 2010 shooter. After multiple delays, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is ready to deliver what its developers call an “authentic, modern sniper experience”. In it, sharpshooters will control Private Security Consultant Captain Cole Anderson as he shimmies through exotic locales like Burma and Tibet picking off his objectives from afar. The action will focus on realistic sniper gameplay using authentic weapons, bullet physics, and camping techniques. Players will also be able to test their aim against human opponents in online sniper duels.
We already listed Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 back in January. Here’s hoping City Interactive hits its ETA for real this time around.
Platform: Wii U
EU: March 28
Lego City Undercover blends Grand Theft Auto gameplay with the charm of TT Fusion’s Lego game series (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, etc.), and we’re excited to see how it all fits together. Starring undercover cop Chase McCain, the open world title will find players protecting Lego City from bad guys using Lego structures, costumes, vehicles, and special tools to bring criminals to their stubby knees. The game will also commandeer the Wii U GamePad to be used as Chase McCain’s portable mapper, secret finder, and criminal tracker.
As the first Lego game to be published by Nintendo, Lego City Undercover promises to give Wii U owners a custom built Lego experience as well as a few Nintendo nods along the way.
Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington – The Betrayal
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Ratonhnhaké:ton’s (aka Connor Kenway) Animus adventures continue in part two of Assassin’s Creed III’s The Tyranny of King Washington DLC trilogy. Entitled The Betrayal, this downloadable chapter will build upon the alternative timeline story introduced in The Infamy (part 1), wherein Ratonhnhaké:ton awoke in his village to find George Washington has abandoned his noble goals and appointed himself king of the United States of America. In this new reality, Ratonhnhaké:ton must topple Washington without the benefit of assassin training, relying on animalistic traits and skills to save his village from the new, insidious King of America.
The Tyranny of King Washington DLC has been deemed canon by Ubisoft, so expect the events of The Betrayal to shed light on this alternate Animus reality. The trilogy will conclude with The Redemption in April 2013.
Platform: Wii U, Wii, 3DS, DS
Groove along with Grug, Eep, Ugga, Thunk, and the rest of the prehistoric Crood family in this gaming spin-off of DreamWorks’ 2013 animated movie. Taking its direction from the film, The Croods: Prehistoric Party! will star the Crood clan competing in a “survival of the Crood-est” contest of over 30 minigames. It is being developed by Australia’s Torus Games, which has experience making movie-to-console adaptations like 2012’s Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game, 2012’s Madagascar Video Game, and 2006’s Spider-Man for the DS.
Platform: PS Vita
EU: March 22
Love Dead or Alive 5, but hate having to abandon your game for a pesky job or class? Developer Team Ninja has the solution in the form of this PS Vita version of the PS3 fighter. Dead or Alive 5 Plus will star all of the PS3’s characters and its cross-platform functionality will let players compete online with friends no matter their Sony machine of choice.
Dead or Alive 5 Plus will feature gameplay perks exclusive to the PS Vita’s hardware, like the ability to fight in first person perspective and use the touchscreen to land hits in the game’s Touch Fight mode. Other extras, like the Tutorial Mode and Combo Challenge, will further flesh out the PS Vita’s Dead or Alive 5 experience, placing this handheld version in a class all its own.
Platform: Xbox 360
Experience the Locust War during its infancy in this massive prequel to the Gears of War series. In a departure from other Gears of War games, Judgment will swap the main heroes Marcus and Dominic for Lt. Damon Baird and Pvt. August Cole; both of whom must contend with the aftermath of Emergence Day and the stigma of being labeled as traitors for their actions in Halvo Bay.
On top of a new single player storyline, Gears of War: Judgment will bring new elements to the franchise’s popular multiplayer component. The new modes include OverRun, which will split players between Locust and COG in a defense style match; and Free-For-All, which will pit COGs against COGs in a “last man standing” test of grit. Excited for a new Gears of War game? Fuel the hype with in our Gears of War: Judgment hands-on campaign preview.
Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D
Cradle of Egypt 2 3D is the next release in the popular Jewel Master series. It will set its match-three puzzle formula in the heart of ancient Egypt, wherein players will solve over 100 levels with a backdrop of iconic Egypt monuments. Developed by Cerasus Media, Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D promises to improve on the series’ gameplay, while taking fans through a tour of Egypt’s most recognizable hotspots along the way.
Platform: Wii U, 3DS
EU: March 22
It’s only taken a year and a half, but soon western monster wranglers will have the pleasure of diving into Capcom’s Monster Hunter 3 expansion. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will ship with the ability for 3DS and Wii U owners to swap gamesaves between the systems; and both systems will support multiplayer questing. That said, the 3DS will be limited to local multiplayer support.
In terms of gameplay, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will differ from its predecessor with the addition of new monsters, location changes, minor gameplay tweaks, and a Target Camera that will grant hunters a better viewpoint when tracking their prey. Read our Monster Hunter Tri review for our impressions of Monster Hunter Ultimate’s inspiration.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U (NA: March 26)
EU: March 22 (Wii U: March 29)
Rick is handy, but for our money the real hero of AMC’s The Walking Dead is Daryl, the cross-bow wielding redneck with a heart of a gold. Thankfully, Terminal Reality (Kinect Star Wars, Ghostbusters: The Video Game) shares our love for zombie-killing hillbillies and is giving both Daryl and his (less likable) brother Merle their due in this first-person shooter. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is set before the start of the TV series and follows the Dixon brothers as they fight and sneak their way past walkers on the road to Atlanta. Along the way, players will contend with zombie swarms, interact with survivors, deal with dwindling resources, and make decisions that will have an impact on their survival.
Unlike last year’s adventure game, Survival Instinct takes its cues from the show over the comic books. That may irk diehard fans, but fortunately it looks like Terminal Reality will adopt the gritty, hopeless tone that has made the graphic novels and Telltale’s The Walking Dead adventure games famous.
Resident Evil 6 is making its long awaited trek to PCs this month. The non-console version will arrive with all of its content intact, along with an exclusive mode entitled The Mercenaries: No Mercy that will ramp up the body count in The Mercenaries. PC players will also have access to all the free updates currently available on consoles and the opportunity to purchase the upcoming Siege DLC.
North American players will get Resident Evil 6 as a digital download, while Europe will have the option of picking it up in physical form too. In all regions, the digital version will take advantage of Steam perks like cloud saving, steam achievements, leaderboards, and social support. Read why the latest chapter in Resident Evil’s story is worth an install in our console Resident Evil 6 review.
EU: March 28
When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Luigi, of course (who else?). In this sequel to 2001’s Luigi’s Mansion, the green-clad Mario brother returns with his Poltergust 5000 to rid five haunted mansions of their ghostly inhabitants. Similar to the original, gameplay will consist of stunning ghosts with the stroboscope and wrangling ghosts into the vacuum. This time around, Luigi will be able to contend with more spirits at once and developer Next Level Games has indicated there will be a stronger emphasis on puzzle solving.
Ghostbusting friends can also get in on the frightful action via local multiplayer. In it, each will player will control a different version of Luigi and compete in various tests of skill inside the ScareScraper mansion. Scared? Probably not. Excited? We are.
EU: May 17
Poke-hunters, start packing. The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon is making its comeback on the 3DS, introducing an all new way to explore Pokemon Paradise and its loveable residents. Once again, players will wake up in the fantasy world as a Pokemon and join familiar characters in exploring the dungeons that surround their home. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity will showcase a new 3D design and incorporate the 3DS’ AR technology to unlock dungeons by scanning items in the real world.
Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity is the latest in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, which has been around since 2005. Buzz from Japan (where it was released last November) is it represents a dramatic evolution in the series. We’ll find out when it makes the trek to western shelves.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
EU: March 29
The Mexican cartel La Guadaña is out of control and only two operatives have the stones (and death-wishes) to put them in their place. Enter: Alpha and Bravo, operatives with the Tactical Worldwide Operations (T.W.O) and the new leading men of the Army of Two brand. Thanks to former leads Salem and Rios taking a more advisory role, The Devil’s Cartel boasts a new duo who must clean up the streets of Mexico. As in previous games, The Devil’s Cartel will emphasize co-operative play, challenging friends to work in tandem to blast enemies, solve puzzles, and reign destruction down on La Guadaña members.
Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is the first game in the series to be powered by EA’s Frostbite 2 game engine. It also marks the arrival of Visceral Games as the franchise’s lead developer. Watch GR give the new engine a go in Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel preview: Hands-on with the bloody co-op shooter.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Irrational Games has been teasing their BioShock successor for years and soon we’ll see if BioShock Infinite can live up to its lofty hype. Leaving Rapture behind, Infinite takes the series to Columbia; a floating dystopian society under siege by civil war and other, darker influences. Players will slip into the role of Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton Agent who boards Columbia to settle old debts and rescue a young lady named Elizabeth. Naturally, as we’ve learned from our prior stays in Rapture, nothing is ever as it seems in the BioShock universe; and from what we’ve seen to date, robot birds and time/space rifts will be among the least of DeWitt’s problems.
BioShock Infinite eschews multiplayer to fosuc on a single player story. However, Irrational Games stated it will feature a more open-world design and enough content to fill the void, including an ultra-hard 1999 mode that promises to test even the most hardened Pinkerton vets. We’ve been following BioShock Infinite since it was announced in 2010. Read up on the essentials in our 17 things you need to know about BioShock Infinite.
EU: April 13
Don’t stow your Wii just yet. 2013 has a few surprises for the aging Nintendo console, one of which is this localized action role-playing game from Nintendo and Japanese game maker Ganbarion. The fantasy epic follows Elyria hero Aeron as he climbs the 13 Towers of the Scar in search of monster meat that will save his cursed sweetheart, Elena.
Pandora’s Tower’s North American release follows a famous fan campaign called Operation Rainfall, and you can credit publisher Xseed Games for finally bringing the 2011 Japanese hit stateside. After the success of The Last Story, it isn’t surprising to see XSeed give another Wii RPG a chance, and we’ll soon see if all the effort was worth it.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
EU: March 28
Tiger Woods is going back to the past. Not to prevent any “discretions,” mind you, but to take on some of golf’s most legendary icons in this 2014 version of his PGA Tour series. This trip down memory lane will star over 25 playable duffers, including legends like Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Bubba Watson, and Jack Nicklaus; as well as classic gaming attire and equipment. The main game will also feature historic events plucked from all four Majors, new LPGA tournaments, and 20 championship courses. If that isn’t enough to scratch your virtual golfing itch, more courses will be made available as DLC.
Harmonia is in peril and the Noizoids are up to no good. So goes the set-up to this rhythm platforming hybrid heading for the 3DS’s eShop. In it, players will guide the hero Tempo through side-scrolling worlds by tapping to trigger actions along to the games soundtrack. Faster levels and bonus characters will be unlockable with high level scores, and devoted HarmoKnights will be rewarded with bonus stages feature the sweet sounds of Pokemon (which makes sense considering developer Game Freak’s Pokemon resume).
Interested to see HarmoKnight in action? Read our Import Impressions – HarmoKnight, the 3DS Game from the creators of Pokemon.