Sorry, Microsoft and Nintendo fanatics, it’s definitely a week for those with Sony systems. After suffering over the past month as their Xbox-obsessed brethren have partaken of the latest Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC, Sony soldiers have finally gotten their hands on the Devastation pack, which includes four multiplayer maps, a new weapon and the chance to tangle with, and play as, the Predator. A trio of eclectic Japanese games are also out on Sony systems, with the visual novel Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi and zany RPGs Mugen Souls Z and Soul Sacrifice Delta making their respective ways to the PS3 and Vita.
“Call of Duty: Ghosts Devastation” DLC
(PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, $15, Mature)
Even though this year’s entry into the Call of Duty series hasn’t sold as well as those in past years, it’s still the go-to game for multiplayer on just about every system but the Wii U. The game gets new blood with Devastation, which goes beyond the standard four-pack of maps to include the second chapter in the Extinction story, letting you play as (or against) the Predator of movie fame. There’s also the Ripper, a useful and powerful submachine gun and assault rifle combination.
The maps add some needed freshness to the multiplayer scene. There’s the Predator’s jam, Ruins, which takes place in a crumbling Mayan temple, cargo ship-set Collision, the wide-open snipingfest Behemoth and Unearthed, a remake of Modern Warfare 3‘s Dome. It’s the “Extinction” expansion, Episode 2: Mayday, that’s the highlight, letting them face off against technological monstrosities on an abandoned Chinese research vessel, including a massive sea monster. The DLC costs $15 on its own and is included with the $50 season pass.
Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi
(PS3, $40, Mature)
Hakuoki is a rare treasure that you could sink dozens of hours into, but it’s also a case of buyer beware. Being a visual novel, all you’re really doing is reading text, admiring illustrations and occasionally making a Choose Your Own Adventure-style selection that will send the story along branching paths. Since there’s no combat or movement involved, those who crave action will probably get bored at best, and enraged at worst.
The shogun-era story unfolds from the perspective of a girl looking for her missing father as war simmers between the shogun and empire, all while demonic forces intervene and manipulate key players in the saga. The writing is fast-paced and elegant, and combined with the beautiful visuals, provides the feeling of getting lost inside an engrossing graphic novel. As you progress you unlock side stories and a modern era-set comic book. Whether or not you are into the genre, it’s refreshing to see an obscure Japanese graphic novel make its way to a home console in the U.S.
Mugen Souls Z
(PS3, $50, Teen)
A sequel to a peppy, bizarre 2012 JRPG captures the same anything-goes vibe in the first game. Once again you play as Syrma, a scantily-clad, self-described Undisputed God of the Universe who saves her world from an ancient threat that has resurfaced. She’s part of a culture of sprightly, girlish gods who dominate the universe in a saucy, seductive manner. Turn-based combat takes place on a free-roaming map, letting you set up angles, tactics and stratagems with your arsenal of attacks, spells and items.
Ribald humor, much of which is none-to-subtly sexual, makes for tons of entertaining cutscenes that bridge the battles. The tale is a bit tough to follow and may only make sense if you are drunk, but the game is more about a freewheeling vibe and entertaining character interactions than straight storytelling. Publisher NIS America took a chance by releasing the original on U.S. shores, so the fact that it’s doubled down with the follow-up shows there is a sizable group of gamers who feel the Mugen Souls flow.
Soul Sacrifice Delta
(Vita, $40, Mature)
Vita owners were treated to a bizarre oddity last year in Soul Sacrifice, the Monster Hunter-style hack-and-slasher in which you took orders from a bitter and sarcastic talking book. This expansion, which refines the graphics while adding characters, levels and spells and tweaking gameplay, is more or those who missed out on the original than veterans. The combat dynamic centers around the snap decision of whether to save or annihilate weakened enemies, adding different bonuses depending on your choice. The game now allows you to choose a third option, which shakes up the decision-making process.
Tossing a bone to those who got into the original and want to come back for more, developers allow save files transfer over from the first game, letting you seamlessly lead your previous builds into the new content. The new stuff gives the game a surprisingly different feel, and there is enough freshness to make a year-old game seem fresh and dynamic. Old problems, including cumbersome menus and quest selection, are still around. But overall, one of the stronger efforts on the Vita has been reborn even better.