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Game of the Month: March

It’s been a busy month for releases this month. It’s also been a busy month for quality releases. The likes of Beyond Good & Evil HD, The 3rd Birthday, Top Spin 4, RIFT, MotoGP 10/11, Torchlight and Motorstorm Apocalypse all scoring 8/10 or higher here at IncGamers.
However, some of the highest profile releases didn’t fair so well, most notably with WWE All Stars and Homefront both failing  7/10 mark and Dragon Age II only performing slightly better.
And so, welcome to our inaugural edition of the IncGamers Game of the Month, in which we get as many of us together as possible to put our case forward for our favourite game of the past four (-ish) weeks.
To qualify a game must have been released in the UK between the 1-31 March.
As ever, we want to hear what you think so don’t be shy to tell us how wrong we are in the comments.
Tim McDonald – Yakuza 4 (PlayStation 3)
It’s really, really easy to spend far too long playing Yakuza 4, which is a bit of a problem when you’ve got writing to do. I mean, I spent an hour last night playing Pachinko. Pachinko. I don’t even know how Pachinko works; I just twiddled a knob to make balls shoot out, and then slot machine reels appeared and pandas flew across the screen. (I did not make any of that up.)
Yakuza 4 not all about incomprehensible aspects of Japanese culture, though. If you can tear yourself away from the Pachinko machines, karaoke mini-games, and hostess clubs, then you’ll find a gripping and mature crime drama starring some realistic and sympathetic characters, set in a district which has bags of atmosphere, a real sense of place and feels genuinely alive.

On the surface it’s sort of like Dragon Age 2 in that both games are story-driven action-RPGs with astonishingly brutal combat, set – for the most part – in one location, although Yakuza’s Kamurocho setting feels a lot more like an actual place to me. But that’s where the similarities end. Dragon Age 2 offers moral quandaries and player choice, while Yakuza 4 gives us mini-games, sidequests, and a completely linear plot.
Rather than compare the two, I’d prefer to continue thinking of the Yakuza series in the way I always have: the closest thing we’ve got to a really good Shenmue successor. If that’s not a reason to play it, I’m not sure what is.

Peter Parrish – Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (PC Edition)
Yes, I’m unfashionably late to the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood party; but so was everyone waiting on a PC version. I skipped Assassin’s Creed 2, so you can imagine how the progression in the series has struck me. The parts I loved about the original game remain (climbing around on things like an errant monkey-child, leaping on people and stabbing them in the neck, the gorgeous pseudo-historical rendering of locations), while the failings have been completely overhauled or dispensed with entirely.
Brotherhood’s plot is impressive, too. Not so much the narrative minutia (and certainly not the “Eyyy it’s-a me, Mario!” voice acting), but the framing of rebellion as a positive force for change.
Ezio is, essentially, a terrorist. He uses violent means to attack both church and state, kills their agents and sets fire to private property; then gets a pat on the back for doing so. I could still do without the deadly dull Desmond sections, but it was hilarious to find that as well as hanging out with Veronica Mars he’s now recruited Danny Wallace and Stan’s mum from South Park. That’s quite a team, Des.
The game’s multiplayer segment, far from being a perfunctory gesture, deserves an article of its own. Look out for ‘An Evening With’ murderous nobles, prowlers and harlequins, coming soon.

Paul Younger – RIFT (PC)
I’m choosing RIFT not only because I have involved myself with the community since last year, but also because it’s a cracking MMO – the best I’ve played in quite some time.

Since the beginning of March things have been hoting up in-game; this week seeing the first big world event kick off. While I’ve been busy with the normal quest lines, there’s now another rather big distraction as the world of Telara is coming under attack from Alsbeth and her minions of death.
What’s been exciting me about the game has been the amount of updates TRION has been pushing out so close to the game’s release. And now we have this new event which is taking things up a gear. While I have no idea what happens after phase one of the event (so far it’s been a slow start), things are sure to ramp up over the weekend.

There have been balancing issues though and there are some skills that have been nerfed; especially on the Warrior class which is what I’ve been playing since Beta. Yesterday I found myself wondering why some skills were nowhere near as effective as before, which makes the class frustrating to play. With such a diverse class system TRION will no doubt be working overtime to resolve issues, it’s what they seem to excel at it seems.

RIFT is an easy choice for my Game of the Month and I do urge fans of the MMO genre to try it out, so far I have not been disappointed.

John Robertson – Top Spin 4 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
I can’t very well hail Top Spin 4 as the-best-tennis-game-ever-made and then not pick it as my Game of the Month now can I? Although… the HD re-release of Beyond Good & Evil did make it a tight race.
What’s so great about Top Spin 4 is that it really feels like tennis. Not just in the gameplay or the visuals but in the ‘feel’ that it manages to generate. There’s a real sense of tension, fear and desire to every match (especially when playing in multiplayer) that seems to stem from the development team’s obvious love for the sport they’re trying to recreate.

Perhaps its finest achievement is that it’s managed to make what is a fairly complex game accessible – whether you know anything about or not. Gone are the days of Top Spin 3 in which you’d have to spend four or five hours learning the ropes before having a chance against the A.I. or an experienced player. This accessibility allows friends to pick it up and feel comfortable within a few games and makes it a game newcomers actually want to play.
No matter what else you read in this article, trust me… Top Spin 4 is this month’s finest game – if you’re after something easy to learn but difficult master (and something that allows for some grade-A trash talking among your mates), you can do no better than Top Spin 4.
Disagree with our choices? Think you know better? Let us know in the comments below!


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