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April ‘12 Videogame Update

Sci-fi fans get a lot of love this month with a fantastic Doctor Who game, a Kinect-enabled Star Wars title, and a fresh look at the Walking Dead universe.

Pop culture invades the game shelves this month, with tie-ins to two of the world's oldest sci-fi franchises and one to a fairly new one.

  • Kinect Star Wars – If you’re ready to start breaking a sweat and have fun, too, nothing beats swinging a virtual lightsaber! Set in the time after Episode I and running through Episode III, you’ll control a Jedi through five game modes. The crown jewels are the Duels of Fate lightsaber battles, as you work your way up towards battling with Darth Vader himself, and Jedi Destiny, where you master both lightsaber and the ways of the Force to tackle the minions of the Dark Side. Also available are Pod Racing, where you’ll shift your body to control your racer, and Rancor Rampage, where you’ll control a rancor (to jog your memory, that’s what Luke fought in Jabba the Hutt’s pit) and go on a destructive tear. The final component is Galactic Dance Off, where you sing and dance to modern hits reworked with Star Wars-inspired lyrics. (available April 3 from Microsoft exclusively for 360; rated T)
  • The Walking Dead – Just because the second season has just ended doesn’t mean you have to be done with the Walking Dead universe. Some may find it a bummer they won’t be hanging out with the gang from the hit AMC show, but what you will get is five fresh adventures, each dealing with a different character in an infected city. We’re also promised a bit more emotion than in most survival games of this ilk, but there will still be plenty of action as you strive to survive the onslaught of walkers. You’ll have inventory items and be able to use the world around you to hide, but if you’re too slow, you may find yourself becoming zombie chow. (the first of the five planned download-only episodes is planned for an April release from Telltale Games for 360 and PS3; rated M)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles – It’s taken nearly two years to get to America, going everywhere else in the world first after its Japanese launch, but it the wait is worth it. It hits our shores with an amazing 92 on Metacritic, and no major site/publication has given it less than 90% of their best rating, with many awarding perfect scores. How did it earn those scores? By being fun, beautiful, and taking place in a positively immense game environment. Protagonist Shulk has to wield the legendary Monado sword to repel the second invasion of Mechons into his homeworld of Bionis. Helping him to do so is the ability to have visions of the near future; with them, he can see the attacks of enemies before they happen and formulate plans to counter or evade them. Completing sidequests with your partners or simply being extra nice to them can also raise your affinity for each other, allowing for extra missions and many bonuses to the opened up. And fear not that the world is enormous; there are landmarks that can be used as warps and unlike most JRPGs, you can save anywhere. (available April 6 from Nintendo exclusively for Wii; rated T)
  • Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir – If the title alone makes you think this has something to do with the Fatal Frame series, you’re exactly correct! This new spin on the formula of taking pictures of ghosts to damage them adds 3DS-only functionality. First and foremost is that you physically hold the game’s Camera Obscura in the palms of your hands, using the 3DS’ own cameras to take pictures, adding a sense of immersion in the game. It also expands a bit on the system’s AR card functionality by including an actual diary that you’ll scan with the 3DS’ lenses for clues and to open battles. The main of the three modes is Story Mode, where you must rescue a girl named Maya from the Purple Diary, with ghosts scattering off and seeming to be in the room with you as you scan for and (hopefully) vanquish them. Later modes are “Ghost Camera”, which mostly just lets you take pictures and inject ghosts into them, and “Horror Notebook”, which is essentially a set of minigames to test your skill. (available Friday, April 13 from Nintendo exclusively for 3DS; rated T)
  • Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock – Planned as part one of a trilogy (and being just the start of big things as Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary approaches next year), BBC wanted a proper game that gamers would want to play, not a quick tie-in/cash-in. We’re getting a rousing adventure across four time periods (Elizabethan, Victorian, present day, and near-future versions of London) featuring the eleventh Doctor and River Song, and there will be some outer space locations like a Dalek ship and the Stormcage Containment Facility, as well. Being the Doctor, you won’t be using guns or lasers, but getting to use the famed sonic screwdriver and River’s hallucinogenic lipstick should still provide ample fun while solving puzzles in this side-scrolling adventure. You’ll need all the tools you can get, as you’ll be beset upon by Silurians, Cyberman, and the Silence as you try to deal with this Eternity Clock that’s rewriting time. (available for download later in April from BBC Worldwide for PS3 and Vita; rating pending)

Jeff is currently playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3; follow him on Twitter at JKLugar.

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