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Summer 1014 video game guide

05/12/2014 12:00 AM

05/09/2014 12:42 PM

Summer is the time for baseball, backyard barbecues and trips to the beach. But when it’s time to come inside and cool off, you may find yourself wanting to do something other than watch TV or read, and you’ll surely be looking for a few excuses to avoid chores.

So here are 10 hot new video games you can play in the cozy comfort of your living room or man cave. Certain titles are available now; others will keep you waiting a bit longer. As always, release dates are subject to change.

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma

PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita

Publisher: Aksys Games

ESRB rating: Teen

Available now for PlayStation 3

Release date: June 24 for PlayStation Vita

$59.99 for PlayStation 3; $39.99 for PlayStation Vita

The fifth title in the “BlazBlue” 2-D fighting game series, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma adds five new characters — Amane, Azrael, Bullet, Izayoi, and Kagura — bringing the total number of combatants to 24. Each of the returning characters has new moves and abilities, meaning that even veterans of the BlazBlue wars will have new techniques to learn.

The action, which has been sped up for “faster, more enjoyable gameplay,” is set after the events of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. The disc boasts 11 modes, including Arcade, Survival, Networking (online) and Story, the last of which features multiple endings and more than 30 hours of gameplay.

Bound by Flame

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Available now

$39.99 for PlayStation 3; $49.99 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360

A fantasy role-playing game in the truest sense of the genre, Bound by Flame casts each player in the role of a mercenary possessed by a fire demon. Creating and customizing male or female characters is the easy part. It’s followed by repeated decisions throughout the game to either perform heroically or succumb to the dark side.

As the action intensifies and the enemies and obstacles get more difficult to overcome, players are tempted to forfeit part of their souls in order to access powerful demonic traits, and with each acquisition or rejection of those properties, the appearances of the characters change.

Battles are fought in real time, and players can create new items, improve their weapons and armor, and upgrade their skills in terms of combat, assassination and fire magic.

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Nintendo

ESRB rating: Everyone

Available now

$34.99

The adventures of Kirby, Nintendo’s pink, animated puff ball, date back more than 20 years to Kirby’s Dream Land (1992) for the Game Boy and the appropriately titled Kirby’s Adventure (1993) for the NES. The latest version, Kirby Triple Deluxe, finds our ravenous hero on a quest to rescue the kidnapped King Dedede.

The classic side-scrolling platform action remains intact, but Kirby can now jump from the foreground to the background, and he can eat a Miracle Fruit seed for a convenient transformation into Hypernova Kirby, who gobbles giant objects. New mimicking abilities include beetle (impale enemies), archer (fire arrows in all directions) and circus performer (roll over enemies, juggle flaming bowling pins and wield exploding balloon animals).

“Kirby Fighters,” which is similar to Super Smash Bros., and a rhythm game called “Dedede’s Drum Dash” supplement the main story mode.

Wolfenstein: The New Order

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: May 20

$59.99

Similar in theme to Philip K. Dick’s 1962 masterpiece, The Man in the High Castle, in which the Allied powers lost World War II, Wolfenstein: The New Order takes place during the 1960s in a version of Europe in which the Nazis maintain a stronghold over the entire world. What this setup amounts to is a single-player, first-person shooter battling robots, destroying giant super soldiers and infiltrating Nazi strongholds, with the ultimate goal of defeating General Wilhelm Strasse.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is the ninth game in the series, which dates back to the 1981 computer classic Castle Wolfenstein.

Watch Dogs

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U

Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: May 27 (Wii U version in the fall)

$59.99

An epic, open-ended “sandbox” game, Watch Dogs puts users in the role of Aiden Pearce (voiced by Noam Jenkins), a hacker who can perform such dubious feats as control traffic lights (to create accidents), tap into surveillance cameras, disrupt police radio networks and access the cellphones and personal computers of private citizens. Armed with a baton and more than 30 firearms, Pearce can also unleash vigilante justice on an assortment of bad guys.

The action plays out in a near-future Chicago that is controlled by a vast network of computers known as the Central Operating System (CtOS). In addition to the seemingly endless one-player option, which lets Pearce commandeer more than 65 vehicles, the game includes an assortment of multiplayer modes.

Murdered: Soul Suspect

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Publisher: Square Enix

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: June 3

$49.99 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; $59.99 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

In Murdered: Soul Suspect, you are Ray O’Connor, a Salem, Mass., police detective who must solve a murder. There’s only one catch: You are the one who was killed (the basic scenario evokes Ghost, the 1990 film starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore).

Luckily, as a denizen of the afterlife limbo world called Dusk, you have supernatural powers, including the ability to walk through walls, teleport and possess people to read their minds. You’ll also battle demonic spirits, search for clues, solve puzzles, interrogate ghosts, collect items and participate in various side quests.

Fans of Beyond: Two Souls may enjoy this third-person adventure thriller.

Enemy Front

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Publisher: City Interactive Games

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: June 10

$39.99

Billed as “the first truly modern World War II first-person shooter,” Enemy Front promises to be far less linear than most games in the genre, letting players explore open-ended levels with an unusual degree of freedom.

The protagonist is American war correspondent Robert Hawkins, who can equip more than 25 weapons as he battles alongside Resistance Fighters against the Nazi scourge. Various fighting styles are featured, including intense combat, sniping, stealth and sabotage.

War isn’t pretty, as they say, but the makers of Enemy Front beg to differ, citing their game’s “stunning visuals” and “breathtaking European locales,” including France, Greece, Norway, Poland and Germany.

EA Sports UFC

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Publisher: EA Sports

ESRB rating: Rating Pending

Release date: June 17

$59.99

UFC, which stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship, is the violent, mixed martial arts competition that was controversial during the 1990s (it officially began in 1993) and has since become a mainstream sport. Developed by the team responsible for the “Fight Night” franchise, EA Sports UFC aims to capture the excitement of the real deal without harming a hair on anyone’s head.

Along with boasting such UFC fighters as Chuck Liddell and Ronda Rousey, the game features the late, great Bruce Lee, who never fought competitively but is widely regarded as one of the greatest martial arts practitioners of all time. To capture Lee’s image, the developers used a life mask from the 1960s Green Hornet television series, in which Lee played Kato.

Grid: Autosport

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Publisher: Codemasters

ESRB rating: Everyone

Release date: June 24

$49.99

Developed by Codemasters, a British company that’s been making racing games for more than a quarter of a century, Grid: Autosport lets gearheads race more than 100 routes across 22 diverse locations, ranging from Sepang to San Francisco. There are five types of events: Endurance (lengthy road racing), Open-wheel (similar to Formula 1), Street Racing (turning sharp corners while driving modified cars), Touring (racing on various professional tracks) and Tuner Competitions (featuring drifting, time attack and traditional racing).

According to Codemasters, Grid: Autosport will be an improvement over Grid 2 by featuring “a more authentic handling style” and by “returning to an in-car view.” Modes of play include career, time trial, split-screen two-player, multiplayer online and more.

The Evil Within

PlayStation 3, PlayStation4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: Aug. 26

$59.99

Terror specialist Shinji Mikami is the brains behind The Evil Within, a survival horror title that the developer says will be even scarier than the games in his groundbreaking “Resident Evil” series, which debuted in 1996 for the original PlayStation. As Detective Sebastian Castellanos, players use traps, guns and other weapons to battle undead creatures in a nightmarish world that “warps and twists around you” (the environments change in real time).

To help keep things claustrophobic, desperate and downright frightening, ammo is scarce, enemies are tough and there are numerous instances where the player’s best option is to run and hide, oftentimes in a cramped space.

Brett Weiss is the author of the “Classic Home Video Games” book series (McFarland Publishers) and of “Retro Pop Culture A to Z: From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films” (Dark Dreamers).

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