The Monthly Digital Round-Up: February

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Is it chilly in here? February turned out to be a surprisingly robust month in the world of digital gaming as developers bared all with a number of interesting game releases and high-profile DLC packs. From Flowers to graphically naked men, a little bit of something for everybody appeared on your online marketplace of choice, so grab your joysticks and get to downloading because we are about to separate the gems from the junk!

PlayStation 3

Best:

Flower

Flower

A game quite unlike anything else out there, Flower defies the traditional gaming mold and creates something all to its own. You start by controlling a single petal that is taken away by a gust of wind. Using the Sixaxis motion control, you are able to guide the petal into other flowers, which adds them to your wind wave and brings color to a previously lifeless world. As the game goes on, your petal trail becomes bigger and the environments become vaster as your goal changes from the beautification of a field to something altogether different and surprising. Flower is both amazing to play and jaw-dropping to look at, becoming a title that all PS3 owners should try despite its extremely short length. ($10.00)

Noby Noby Boy

Noby Noby Boy

The original Katamari Damacy was a colorful journey into lunacy, and the creator of that series is back with the quirky sandbox title Noby Noby Boy. You control BOY, a worm-like fellow who slips through randomly-generated environments eating things, slithering about, and wrapping around objects with his ever-extending torso. It’s more of an interactive screensaver than a game as there is no real objective to your travels, but it has the same joyous vibe that the Katamari series embodies and will provide a unique experience that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. ($4.99)

Worst:

Zuma

Zuma

Although it has been hugely successful, Zuma’s ‘firing colored balls into other colored balls’ gameplay never quite did it for me. I threw it on this list not due to personal preference but because it costs $5 more on PSN than it does on Xbox Live Arcade. This is strange because the games are identical, and the Xbox version came out over three years before the PS3 one. I can’t really explain this, so I am just going to move on. ($10.00)

Wii

Best:

Life Force

Life Force

Side-scrolling space shooters can be hit or miss. They are either too hard to captivate anybody but the uber-hardcore fans or they are too easy and therefore labeled generic. Life Force is a tough game, but it balances this difficulty with some clever environments and fantastic two-player co-op. Instead of storming space bases, you are flying through the stomach of an enormous living creature, destroying veins and teeth to get to your destination. The design is clever, the blasting is fun, and the gameplay is classic. Casual shooter fans looking for some two-player action will find great times with this one. ($5.00)

Worst:

Sonic Chaos

Sonic Chaos

Despite having hundreds of classics in the vault that have yet to make their way onto Virtual Console, Nintendo continues to add selections that no one really wants. Sonic Chaos is a generic Master System/Game Gear title that has already appeared on several Sonic compilation disks and can now be bought on VC for 500 Wii Points. Can’t we just have Blast Corps or Super Mario Kart already? ($5.00)

Xbox 360

Best:

Death Tank

Death Tank

It’s not often that a Sega Saturn minigame gets remade, but Death Tank is just that. The game plays like a real-time, faster paced Worms with much bigger explosions. You fire missiles at seven other online opponents littered around a single screen environment. Every kill that you get snares you money that you can use to buy new weapons or abilities between rounds, letting you get stuff like nuclear bombs, machine guns, and jump jets added to your arsenal. The action is fun with friends, but 1200ms points is about 400ms too steep of a price for what is offered. Those interested in a multiplayer-focused, action-packed shooter should give the demo a chance, as it allows you to play online matches over Xbox Live freely for 60 cumulative minutes. ($15.00)

Worst:

Minesweeper Flags

Minesweeper Flags

If you are reading this on a Windows PC, please indulge me by doing the following: See the Start button in the bottom-left corner of your screen? Click that, Programs, Games, and finally Minesweeper. There…I just saved you 400ms points. You’re welcome. ($5.00)

Downloadable Content

Best:

Mirror’s Edge Time Trial Map Pack

Mirror’s Edge

Sure, the city in Mirror’s Edge was stunning to look at and a blast to run around, but someone at DICE decided that it needed more “crazy.” To rectify this, the Mirror’s Edge Time Trial Map Pack adds eight wildly imaginative new levels that unleash Faith in an abstract land of shapes and blocks. These areas may be tough for casual fans, but they provide the ultimate playground for hardcore ME players to parkour around and a new thrill for those who thought they had seen it all. PS3 owners are also in for an additional treat as an exclusive extra level is available for free download on PSN. PS3 and Xbox 360 ($10.00)

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost & Damned

The Lost & The Damned

GTAIV was a massive experience, offering a 30+ hour campaign, tons of side-missions, and a limitless amount of trouble to cause in Liberty City. What the game didn’t have enough of was bikers and man-junk, and that is exactly what you will get when you download the Lost & Damned expansion pack. In addition to about ten more hours of missions, Lost adds new radio stations, side quests, characters, multiplayer modes, and vehicles, offering a batch of fresh content for a relatively small asking price. Just be warned: you may catch an eyeful of something that you don’t particularly want to see. Xbox 360 ($20.00)

Burnout Paradise Legendary Car Collection

Burnout

Criterion–the developer of Burnout Paradise–has added an enormous amount of free content to their game over the past year, from city extensions to motorcycles. This latest pack lets you drive lookalikes of the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, KITT from Knight Rider, the General Lee from Dukes of Hazard, and the flying Delorean from Back to the Future: Part II. Wow. If you ever wondered which of these four would win in a race, your dreams can now come true. Note to Criterion: please add Hoverboards and the Batmobile to the next update. PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 ($4.00 for the Deloreon clone, $2.00 each for the others, or $7.50 for a four-pack)

Worst:

Onechanbara Costume and Character Packs

Onechanbara

Onechanbara has finally come to America, and the results have been a bit mixed. While bikini-bound zombie slaying sounds like a great time, the prospect of buying new costumes for the scantily clad warrior with real cash sounds significantly less fun. Several free outfits are available, but many of the available options cost $2.50 and up with new characters going for a whopping $6.25 each! For those who gotta catch ‘em all, there is a complete pack available for $20, but you would have to be pretty… dedicated to spend that much on virtual skin. Xbox 360 (Various prices for individual pieces, $20 for the entire pack)

Pick of the Month

Flower

Flower

As I noted earlier, there is nothing else out there quite like Flower, and the game gets even more impressive as it winds down. Much like Rez before it, Flower makes a big impact in a small amount of gameplay time and is a title will be talked about by hardcore gamers for a long time to come. ($10.00)

Next month: Fallout 3: The Pit adds the city of Pittsburgh to your post-apocalyptic travels.

Fallout 3: The Pit

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