Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best gaming values under $20.
Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.
* Sony has cut the price of it’s 3G-equipped PlayStation Vita down to $199.99 from $249.99, in a “majority” of its U.S. stores, according to a report that surfaced earlier this week. Conflicting reasons for the price cut are swirling, ranging from this being a momentary sale offering to word that the 3G model of the PS Vita is being discontinued. Over on the other side of the world in Japan, where the Vita price already has been slashed, sales have picked up for the troubled (yet fantastic) portable. It was the country’s best-selling console from February 25 through March 10, with more than 126,000 sold in the two weeks following the price drop there.
* Taking a page from the Electronic Arts playbook, Activision has introduced microtransactions for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. It all amounts to cosmetic enhancements only, with players able to purchase Personalization Packs and Calling Card Packs for $2 and $1, respectively. There’s also the option of spending $2 on the Extra Slots Pack, which adds 10 extra Create-A-Class slots to your user profile; this is the only non-cosmetic enhancement available. There’s no telling what we’ll see next now that the door is open though.
* The recently concluded SXSW festival in Austin, Texas brought some cool news for Borderlands 2 fans. Gearbox Software is planning to release a second DLC character class, following the Mechromancer that was released shortly after the game’s 2012 launch. Little was revealed about the upcoming sixth Vault Hunter, but the teaser suggested that this one is more melee-focused than the others, a nod to the first game’s character Brick.
* Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks are finally ready to start talking about the planned campaign DLC for Dishonored. First up is The Knife of Dunwall, which drops players into the role of one of the principal antagonists from the vanilla game, the assassin known as Daud. The parallel story follows Daud in the aftermath of his spoiler-y actions that set the main game’s driving chain of events in motion. The DLC pack launches on April 16 for all platforms, for a price of $10.
* Fans heard about Star Wars: First Assault late last year when the accidental discovery of an Xbox Live Arcade page revealed the title and what appeared to be cover art for a planned downloadable Star Wars game. More information emerged earlier this week from an anonymous source speaking to Kotaku, who described the game as a team-based, 8v8 multiplayer shooter that would stand as a precursor to Star Wars: Battlefront 3. Unfortunately, it seems that the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm has led to a freeze at LucasArts, and the planned spring 2013 release of First Assault is now in serious doubt.
* The second episode of Ubisoft’s three-part The Tyranny of King Washington campaign DLC for Assassin’s Creed 3 arrives next week on March 19. We’ll have a review for you next week, but why don’t you take a peek right now at what’s coming in this newly released trailer?
* While you’re in the trailer-watching mood, take a peek at this one for the just-released Sound Shapes DLC. Six new albums, all sorts of joy.
* American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns wasn’t quite a runaway success, but the deranged vision of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland delivered for fans of the source material. The game’s shortcomings means there’s not a whole lot of traction at publisher Electronic Arts for Alice 3, but McGee is now interested in snatching up the rights to the series from EA and bringing a third game to Kickstarter. He’s called on fans to “make some noise” and will be discussing the possibilities with EA at Game Developer’s Conference in two weeks.
Top buys of the week…
Darkstalkers: Resurrection :: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 :: $14.99 / 1,200 MS Points
Two games in one! Capcom’s clasic Darkstalkers fighting game series is reborn in Darkstalkers Resurrection, which gathers together HD remakes of Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge and Darkstalkers 3 into a single package. In addition to the visual upgrade, you also get online multiplayer (with support for eight-player lobbies), replay sharing, a spectator mode, and an assortment of unlockables. This one’s for the fighting game fans, but it’s a pleasing refresh of two beloved entries in the series.
Dead Space 3: Awakened :: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 / PC :: $9.99 / 800 MS Points
Ryan had some issues with the vanilla Dead Space 3, but the newly released epilogue in the Awakened DLC impressed the hell out of him. So much so that he wonders why it wasn’t included in the game to begin with. That’s besides the point though. Awakened adds some great content to Visceral’s fun, co-op action-horror game, and whether it belonged there to begin with or not, it’s there now and it puts a nice cap on the events of the main game.
Ridiculous Fishing :: iOS :: $2.99
Ridiculous Fishing earns pick of the week honors both because developer Vlambeer deserves it after dealing with that nasty cloning business with Gamenauts in 2012 and because, no matter how you slice it, it really is that good. The game is pretty simple: you drop a line in the water, guide it to the sandy floor, hook as much as you can on the way back up, and shoot everything with your gun as it breaks the surface. The more you collect, the more you can shoot. The more you can shoot, the more money you earn. Money leads to better gear, which in turn makes your fishing more effective. Simple, fun, and horribly, horribly, horribly addictive. Way to go, Vlambeer. Nicely done.
Sound Shapes :: PlayStation 3 / PS Vita :: $1.99
The Sound Shapes DLC this week is a bit complicated. There’s a $2 ‘Car Mini-Album and Creator Pack’ which adds two new song levels and the creator tools necessary to take advantage of some newly added mechanics in what is already one of 2012’s best games. On the free side, you can download the latest update which adds The Community Milkcrate, amounting to six new “albums” worth of levels. Anthony loved it. The game is kickass. Go get it.