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Backlog: The Embiggening - May, 2014

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By Nelson Schneider - 05/04/14 at 01:03 PM CT

Welcome to another look into the near future. May is bringing the tumultuous post-holiday period to a fitting end by returning game releases to something resembling a status quo. While, miraculously, there are ZERO shovelware releases to report this month, there is one overwhelming multi-platform game that will dominate headlines and capture the rapt attention of every mainstream “AAA” whore, along with a handful of M-rated dreck… Let’s get right to it.

So, what is this overwhelming May release everyone is destined to be talking about for a month before its luster fades and it drops into obscurity? None other than “Watch Dogs,” a new sandbox title that looks to be an attempt at combining gaming’s ‘Grand Theft Auto’ franchise with TV’s “Person of Interest.” Meh. Among the other mainstream multi-platform games, we have a FPS sequel to ‘Wolfenstein’ (which I’m sure will be as amazing a sequel as the latest ‘Duke Nukem’ game), some sort of fake RPG by Spiders and Focus Home that appears to be targeting the ‘Demons/Dark Souls’ audience with its grim environments and clunky, tedious combat. Aside from those new releases, the “Darksiders Collection” and “Red Faction Collection” that were delayed from last month will supposedly see the light of day in May.

While the multi-platform games aren’t looking stellar, the exclusive released for May are looking more exciting than they have in a good long time… or maybe ‘exciting’ isn’t the right word… ‘plenteous,’ perhaps?

Setting aside the plethora of surprise Indie releases, PC is getting a new entry in the ‘let’s pretend to be Castro’ ‘Tropico’ RTS franchise, a new ‘Tex Murphy’ adventure game, and a follow-up to “GunZ,” an online multi-player shooter. It looks like PC is sticking to its traditional genres! But, not only are these three by-the-numbers games coming to PC, but also the Ultimate Trash Edition (Finally, a game with a title that accurately describes it!) of “Into the Dark” – a hybrid of Adventure and FPS gameplay – and “Colonies Online” – a hybrid of MMO and RTS. It seems that these age-old PC genres are feeling a bit inbred, and nothing injects new DNA quicker than hybridization!

Sony is continuing to keep the PS3 on life support instead of dedicating attention to their neglected new baby… of course, since Sony relies so heavily on third parties for their games, it really isn’t their fault that developers are sticking with older (deader) hardware. Of course, none of these four new exclusives look to be any good… There’s a sequel to “Mugen Souls,” which nobody liked, a sequel to “Drakengard” (which nobody liked), a Japanese visual novel called “Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi” (which is in a genre nobody likes), and a port of “Minecraft” (which is a niche game that appeals to the PC Master Race’s atrocious taste far more than that of Sony fans).

Outside of PC and Sony, there are two particularly great pieces of news. First is that the Xbox 360 and XBONE are barren wastelands of NOTHING this month, which shows that the natural order may be restoring itself after the Dark Age of the last 7 years. Second, Nintendo is finally giving us a potential system seller for the WiiU in the form of “Mario Kart 8.”

Handhelds seem to be getting a disturbing amount of attention in May… especially the Vita. Perhaps the natural order is still imbalanced after all… The 3DS is getting a new ‘Kirby’ game and a new ‘Mario Golf’ game, showing that, without Nintendo’s first party games and third-party shovelware, the 3DS’ releases can look pretty sparse. The Vita, on the other hand, is getting a port of “Borderlands 2” (why would anyone want to play a game like that on a tiny screen?), a collection of ‘Sly Cooper’ games, a collection of ‘God of War’ games, and some sort of extremely weird, ‘Persona’-esque RPG that will never sell enough copies to break even.

While May might have plenty of releases numerically, the quality just doesn’t seem to be able to drag itself out of the gutter. For yet another month, XBONE and PS4 owners are left with nothing but buyer’s remorse as they watch their new 8th Gen toys collect dust. At least the release of “Mario Kart 8” will encourage every WiiU owner to brush off that console’s inch-thick layer of dust, and might even coerce non-owners to pick up Nintendo’s 8th Gen effort.

Backlog Embiggened: +1

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