For the first time in the history of the Tiger Woods franchise the game will feature The Masters as a playable event, allowing gamers to finally tee up pursuit of the Green Jacket on the exclusive and sacred holes of Augusta National. The game also features playable Masters Moments, which is a good way to take advantage of the license. The broadcast team for the game is Jim Nantz and David Feherty, so that's also a solid upgrade for the ears. EA promises better graphics and says the game's 3D grass will behave more like, well, grass. The game will feature 16 total courses, including Augusta National, and will return with the standard career mode and a host of multiplayer options. Also new is a FastGolf feature designed to speed up a round of golf. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is scheduled to release on March 29.
2 of 92K Games
Hands-on: MLB 2K11
2K sprung for major upgrades in both look and feel, but it's the added realism in fielding controls that sticks out in the latest build of this baseball franchise. Not every fly ball or grounder is a gimme this year. Instead, a combination of your player's rating and your ability to time the throw meter properly will determine whether the ball winds up in your teammate's mit or in the second row of the stands. Same goes for running down line drives in the outfield. Pitching and batting remain almost identical to last year. That's a good thing, because 2K nailed both with realistically challenging timing functions for both. Roy Halladay graces the cover, and it's appropriate, seeing as for the second year in a row, 2K is running the $1 Million Perfect Game Competition, a contest to see which gamer can deliver the first verified perfect game starting on April 1.
3 of 92K Games
Hands-on Top Spin 4
The wait is almost over. After two and a half years, the best tennis simulation returns with an updated build. Revamped controls are simplified so it's easier to pull off shot types during rapid-fire rallies. Rip top spin forehand winners down the line, loft lobs over net players or slice a backhand to break up a baseline battle. Superstars abound, from legends like Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl to modern days stars like Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick. You can play in three of the four Majors (snooty Wimbledon was stingy about rights) as well as in a variety of other regular season standards and even a couple of fictional locales. More info on game modes is on the way, so stay tuned leading up to the game's release on March 15.
4 of 9Nintendo
Hands-on: Nintendo 3DS
Leave the clunky glasses at home, the Nintendo 3DS brings a third dimension to portable gaming without any cumbersome peripherals. The bottom screen is still the same -- including stylus functionality -- but the top screen now displays all game action with true depth to the naked eye. Controlling your character is like controlling a hologram. The system includes a 3D Depth Slider that alters the strength of the 3D effect, and that's a good thing. Sometimes when the slide is at full strength, you can feel a little woozy and the graphics become blurry. For most games, setting the slider between 50 to 75 percent strength yielded the clearest 3D results. Nintendo revamped external elements of the system as well. The standard control pad and buttons are still there, but the 3DS now features a Circle Pad for better control in 3D environments. The system also features two main social elements. StreetPass lets you share information with other nearby 3DS users, like Mii data, custom characters and high scores. SpotPass lets you download new content and game updates. You can even take 3D pictures using two of the system's three cameras. The 3DS will cost $250 and is expected to be available in stores March 27th. Big sports titles available at launch will be Madden and Pro Evolution Soccer, the latter of which looked fantastic in both game action and cut scenes.
5 of 9Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images
PSP2 = NGP
Nintendo is not the only company planning a handheld splash. Sony recently announced the sequel to the Playstation Portable (PSP) as codename Next Generation Portable (NGP). The NGP will sport a 5-inch OLED touch screen with 16:9 960x544 resolution. The device has two thumbsticks and a rear touch screen that Sony hopes will add a new layer to gaming possibilities. The NGP will be backwards compatible with downloadable PSP games (via the PlayStation Network), but PSP games on UMD media will not work with it. The native media format for the NGO will be flash memory. Sony plans to offer different versions of the device, including a 3G version. All versions will use WiFi and GPS. No official release date or pricing has been announced, but Sony says it will cost less than $599. We're hoping a lot less.
6 of 9Sony
Little Big Planet 2
Sackboy is back in Sony's sequel to the highly-successful and entertaining Little Big Planet. The game comes packed with 40 story levels that are extremely creative, varied and challenging. Traditional 2D platform levels are the highlight, but Little Big Planet 2 also adds the ability to play shooting and racing levels and arcade-style games. The new level types open up the creative possibilities for a character to jump, climb, swing, race, fly and shoot through the environments. The real magic of the game is level creation and sharing. Community levels from Little Big Planet are backwards compatible with the sequel, so right off the bat you'll have access to over 2 million levels, and it's a safe bet that many more will be created. Sony has improved the level creation tools to make them more accessible and easier to understand with built-in tutorials. It's also easier to upload levels and rate the ones you play online. The game also features co-op play locally or online with up to four players, which fuels endless challenges in attacking high scores and winning trophies and costumes and stickers used to customize your character and levels. Score: 9/10
7 of 9Konami
Lost in Shadow
Truly original game concepts are tough to come by these days. If you are looking for a different game experience, check out the side-scrolling adventure Lost In Shadow. You play a boy's shadow that has been ripped from his body at the top of a massive tower. As his shadow, you have to navigate a shadow world as you work your way back up the tower. Creepy crawly enemies make for some fun action, but the real value of the game is in the puzzle solving -- manipulating the screen so as to create shadows to walk on. There's also a "mirror" world where you occasionally have to solve more intricate puzzles in 3D, so the game isn't entirely a platformer. Score: 7.5/10
8 of 9Electronic Arts
Dead Space 2
Dead Space 2 is classic sci-fi survival-horror game that drops you right into action as you control Issac Clark as he fights his way through a giant space station near Saturn. Clark's mission is to destroy the artifact that has spawned the Necomorph monsters that plague you and every other human still left standing. The Necromorphs are varied in size, strength and tactics, so there's a learning curve in learning how to fight them and what weapons to use against them. The gameplay is faster than the original game, and the levels are more linear with very little back tracking. As you progress in the game you'll unlock new weapons and combat suits that you can level up. Later in the game ammunition management is very important, so what weapons you carry and when you use them is critical. The game has great replay value as the difficulty levels beyond "normal" are seriously challenging. Fortunately you can use all weapon and suit upgrades when you replay the game. The graphics in Dead Space 2 are very good, but the amazing sound design is really the element that makes everything super creepy and intense. You won't always see the monsters coming, but you're sure to hear them creeping up and screeching nearby. Dead Space 2 has a pretty basic multiplayer setup, but it's just OK. The real attraction remains the outstanding single player campaign, which features some very scary moments, minions of monsters and some serious gore. This game is definitely M for Mature and not for kids. Score: 9/10
9 of 9Electronic Arts
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 was one of the best games of 2010, and now it's finally available on the PS3. The game puts you in control of an epic science fiction story that blends fantastic storytelling and well-crafted action sequences to form one of the most immersive gaming experiences available. You start off picking a character class that ultimately defines your character's back story and combat abilities. Decisions you make in the game to take specific actions or conduct a mission a certain way have ramifications throughout the story in terms of how other characters relate to you. The graphics in the PS3 version of the game do look a little better than the Xbox version because the game is running on the same engine that will power Mass Effect 3 (coming out in late 2011). The game comes with a Mass Effect genesis comic which explains the events in the original Mass Effect story. The PS3 version of ME2 Includes the six hours of downloadable missions that Xbox gamers had to pay for, which makes this the most complete version of the game for the money. Score: 9.5/10
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