Computer gamers are likely to respond to March’s new products in one of two ways: either with a "Finally!" or a yawn and a "This again?"That’s because most of March’s new games are sequels to existing franchises. The Settlers, for example, will put out its seventh instalment. Other continuing series include Assassin’s Creed II, Silent Hunter 5 and Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight.
Of course, there are some new games out there, including Prison Break: The Conspiracy. However, it is based on a television series.
Settlers has a long history. The first generation debuted in 1993 for the Amiga, the brainchild of Volker Wertich. A PC version soon followed. The basic principle was and remains to build up a functioning city for a group of digital settlers.
Success – ie creating a city with a working economy – depends on making sure that there are enough raw materials to keep everything from the bakery to the smithy in full production to meet the community’s needs. Building up a military is also important, if not central.
That has been the guiding principle for sequel after sequel since. Sometimes the focus was more on settling new territories. Other times – not necessarily to the delight of hardcore fans – it became more of a real-time strategy game.
Settlers 7 is expected to let players focus on their individual style. People who prefer to trade and settle should be able to get along fine without a military, and vice versa. Publisher Ubisoft says the game should be available from March 25 for about 50 euros (68 dollars).
One new PC title has already made the rounds of gaming consoles. It’s only been a quarter of a year since Assassin’s Creed II was released for the XBox and other gaming machines, but now it’s time for the PC version. The new version comes with a new hero: Ezio Auditore de Firenze.
Firenze spends a lot of time at the centre of Renaissance Italy’s trading capitals, making friends with legends like Leonardo da Vinci – at least when he’s not busy ending the lives of other virtual characters in the game. The new version of the assassin’s saga, also from Ubisoft, is expected to hit stores on March 4, for about 50 euros.
Command & Conquer is a familiar standby for any fan of real-time strategy games, having premiered in the mid-90s. But only hardcore fans have been able to keep up with its convoluted history.
Basically, Command & Conquer split into three parallel series: Tiberian, Red Alert and Generals. Thus, Electronic Arts is now publishing Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight.
Gone is the standard phase of the game where players have to gather resources to build up their army. Instead, players can operate a new vehicle, a Crawler, which can be used for troop recruitment. The game was also designed primarily for online battling. It is expected to be available in mid-March, most likely for about 50 euros.
Prison Break: The Conspiracy, from publisher Deep Silver, also contains another action-adventure. Based on the popular television series – the show’s writers worked on the game – players take over the role of agent Tom Paxton.
In prison, Paxton is charged with finding out why Michael Scofield, the main character, robbed a bank. Members of the show’s cast have lent their voices to the game. The game is supposed to hit shelves at the end of March. No price has been named yet.
When it comes to PC simulators, the recent trend has been toward games that let the player pretend to farm or drive a bus, the ultimate in goofing off without getting too immersed or drawn into a complex storyline. But a new game like Silent Hunter 5 shows just how deeply fans can immerse themselves into a well-made simulator.
Released by Ubisoft, the game focuses on submarines. Players take on the role of a captain in the middle of a war who must lead his crew and safely steer his torpedo-laden vessel to its goal without getting sunk itself.
Here, at least, when players exclaim "again!" it might be a good thing, as they make yet another attempt at success, at which point they’ll be able to triumphantly shout "finally!"