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[Shipping Out] February 14th 2012

Twisted Metal and UFC Undisputed 3 headline as the first Vita titles sneak onto shelves.
Author: Vincent Ingenito
Published: February 15, 2012
Welcome to Shipping Out, our weekly notice of all them thar games that ship from publishers to retailers in preparation for their street date a day later. In many cases, these games won't be on store shelves until tomorrow, but in the interest of getting the word out, letting the PR departments have their fancy quotes and saving us sanity as the weekly releases pile up, we're going to be consolidating everything down into one handy little news story at the end of the day, along with this description. Neat, eh? And lazy!

It's the TPS way!

[Playstation 2]

Like the doornail.

[Playstation Portable]

[Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom]

It's truly a shame that a game as unique sounding as this one has to come to a platform while it's on its death bed. Hakuoki not only stands apart due to being a visual novel set In Japan during the twilight years of the Edo period, it also has the distinction of being a dating sim aimed at women. The protagonist is a young woman named Chizuru comes to Kyoto in search of her father only to become embroiled in a political upheaval with supernatural implications. While the romance element may not be for everyone, if the writing is nearly as good as publisher Aksys Games' last visual novel, 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors on the DS, I'm sure any fan of the genre could find it intriguing. Pick it up this week and show support for more unique storytelling in our hobby!

[Playstation 3]

[Twisted Metal]

After over a decade, Twisted Metal finally returns to the console fold this week, featuring more content than ever. With 8 environments, 30+ maps, 17 distinct vehicles and a boatload of weapons, it truly is a vehicular combat extravaganza. The folks at Eat Sleep Play really went out of their way to make this the prettiest and deepest entry in the franchise yet, with lots of new mechanics and ways to blow the opposition sky high. The game does have a single player campaign complete with cut scenes, but I think the multiplayer is what will keep everyone glued. Our very own Aram Lecis has been playing it for over a week now. Look for his review of Twisted Metal later in the week.

[Grand Slam Tennis 2]

EA's follow up to their solid PS2 tennis entry will make it's way to store shelves near you in the next couple of days and so far it's looking quite solid. I'm reviewing it so I've been playing it for the last few days and so far it's pretty good. It features a robust, decade spanning career mode where you get to make a name for yourself as a new comer to the pro circuit, as well as a useful Tennis School mode designed to teach you the fundamentals of the sport and the new Total Racket Control system. Getting to compete in all 4 Grand Slams as well as Wimbledon is a real treat for tennis fans. I grew up watching Wimbledon every summer so I really ate that but up. My full review should be up before the weekend.

[UFC Undisputed 3]

Mixed Martial Arts games have come a long way since since the the original Ultimate Fighting Championship came out on the Sega Dreamcast in 2000. All told, the Undisputed franchise has probably done the most to advance the genre, with an attention to detail previously reserved for EA Sports titles. Undisputed 3 looks to continue that trend this year with the addition of 2 more weight classes, bringing the total roster to a whopping 150 fighters - really impressive considering how good the models look and how many moves and attributes each of them have. Also new this year is PRIDE mode, where the fight rules are modified to coincide with those of the now defunct fighting league of the same name. I got a few minutes of hands on time with it at a recent THQ event and the combat seems as fluid and deep as ever. Check local retailers for it today.

[The House of the Dead 3]

The third in Sega's series of undead themed rail shooters has made it's way to the PSN! The main draw of this version is the inclusion of Move support for a more accurate aiming and shooting experience more like the kind you would have gotten in an arcade House of the Dead cabinet. Rail shooters aren't common these days and this was a decent one (though I still like the second game of the series the most). You can download it now for just $6.99.

[BlazBlue: Continuum Shift EXTEND]

Three cheers for "Anime Fighters"! Woohooooo!

Who knew that Akysys Games' spiritual successor to their successful Guilty Gear franchise would have such longevity? Continuum Shift EXTEND marks the third major retail release in the series and brings a ton of content to bear for the $39.99 asking price. Straight from the press release we recieved, here are the new features you can expect:

- Enhanced Story Mode: Relive and rediscover the events that took place in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger or venture forth into one of four all new story scenarios.

- New and Revised Game Modes to Explore: Power up your character and traverse to the bottom in Abyss Mode, take on the strongest enemies possible with Unlimited Mars Mode, or brush up your skills in the newly revised Challenge Mode.

- Customize Your Battle Experience: All Unlimited characters, previous color packs, and announcer DLC packs are included in the in-game gallery. If that’s not enough, all new character voiced announcer packs will be available for download post launch!

- Fully Revised Combat Systems: All characters, new and old, have been thoroughly rebalanced and armed with all new strategies and combos to take your game to the top. Even each of the Unlimited Characters has been given a full revamp and new Distortion Drives!

- Improved Online Multiplayer: Battle it out in BlazBlue’s acclaimed online mode with all new online multiplayer features, such as online team battles with numerous play settings.

Additionally, the game includes Makoto Nanaya, Valkenhayn R. Hellsing, and Platinum the Trinity, the threeDLC character's from the previous iteration. On top of that, the cast is joined by one additional newcomer named Relius Clover, bringing the cast to a sizable 19 characters.

If you like fighting games but haven't checked this series out, this is a great way to get in. It offers a completely different experience from the traditional Capcom fighters and each character has a wildly different playstyle from the last. Grab it this week for the PS3 or...

[PlayStation Vita]

[BlazBlue: Continuum Shift EXTEND]

On the PlayStation Vita you may be picking up this week if you grabbed the First Edition Bundle. The portable version is supposed to be content identical to its home based cousin and even supports save data transferring as well as cross platform play. How exciting is it to see a portable version of a game release day and date with the home version and have the two experiences be identical? Thank you Based Vita!

[Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3]

Speaking of portable fighting games that make no compromises when compared to their console counterpart Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for the PS Vita has made it's way to store shelves ahead of the systems official launch. Featuring every mode and character from the console release (including the later added Heroes and Heralds mode) this is shaping up to be one of the best showcases of the new system's power. As someone who has devoted an embarrassing number of hours to Ultimate and it's predecessor, I am extremely excited for this. UMVC3 has so much to it that I very often find myself thinking up a team composition or combo and wondering, "will that work" and then heading into training mode to test it. The idea of being able to do that on the train or during a lunch break just seems too good to be true.

[Hustle Kings]

Hustle Kings was received quite well by PS3 pool fans when it came out a couple of years ago. Featuring a variety of popular rule sets, clean, minimalist visuals and some terrific ball physics, it was a steal for $9.99. The PS Vita port looks identical and adds some new features to sweeten the pot. The game will feature front and rear touch control options as well as the ability to play online matches in a turn by turn basis. Simply play a turn and the game sends a notification to your buddy that it's their move. This would allow you to play a full game with a friend over the course of a few days or even weeks as the two of you find the time. It's a really smart way to adapt a console experience to a mobile setting which has different time constraints. Look for Hustle Kings this week.

[Asphalt: Injection]

The latest entry to the long running Asphalt series hits the PlayStation Vita this week. Considering that Ridge Racer is also right around the corner, it'll need to differentiate itself to arcade racing fans in order to succeed. One thing it has going for it is the presence of actual licensed cars, which is certainly a draw for some people. It certainly looks a lot nicer than its IOS counterpart, thanks to all the extra ponies under the Vita's hood. I'll let you all know more when I review this one next week.

[Michael Jackson: The Experience

Uhm, yeah! Michael Jackson! He was the King of Pop. Now he's an experience that you can have on your new PlayStation Vita. Expect many of his classics to be involved such as "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" to be present. Aside from performing his signature dance moves in game, players can also use the Vita's microphone to sing along as well. Our intrepid Editor in Chief and holder of a Phd in Moonwalking, Sam Bishop will be bringing you the step-by-step when he renders his judgement on it next week.

[Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition

Sega's long running, super addictive tennis franchise is getting the Vita treatment and I couldn't be more pleased. Judging from the videos I've seen so far, it looks every bit as fast, fun and fluid as past incarnations have. Virtua Tennis's quick and dirty gameplay and pretty graphics make it perfectly suited for Sony's powerful new handheld. Like seemingly all Vita versions of existing franchises, Virtua Tennis 4 will offer optional control schemes that take advantage of some of the system's unique input methods. The most notable so far is the ability lay the vita flat and have two people use the touch screen to go head to head against each other on one system. I don't know how well that will actually work, but we should find out this week if any grabs a copy along with their First Edition Bundle.

Aaaaaaaand that's a wrap! More Vita games will probably start trickling in to retailers this week as well and we'll be sure to include them in our next edition of Shipping Out. Until then, keep it classy folks!

Publishers! If you would like to have your games added to the list of weekly Shipping Out releases, just add News (at) TotalPlayStation (dot) com to your PR blasts and we'll make sure it's added here.