Summer video game guide: What gamers should be playing, and what parents should know

By Jonathan Deesing

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, May 10 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

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Summer is a great time to catch up on house projects, run outside or throw a barbecue. But for some, it’s as good a time as any to dive into a new video game.

Though the summer season isn’t nearly as packed with game releases as the holiday shopping season, there are still a number of new titles that gamers — from casual to hardcore — are anticipating. Some are kid-friendly and, other than a little cartoon violence, have no objectionable content for parents to be concerned about. Many, however, are intended for mature audiences.

What can gamers — and parents — expect from this lineup of new games? In order of release date, here is a rundown of the summer's major new game releases.

For more on the Entertainment Software Ratings Board radings, see esrb.org.

May 9: "Minecraft" — Xbox 360 (Rating Pending)

Swedish game maker Markus Alexej "Notch" Persson rocked the gaming world in 2009 with the announcement of his upcoming indie title "Minecraft." The game is simple — move around a blocky landscape building any Lego-like creations you can imagine until your body withers away. At least that was my experience. A lone developer, Notch created a game that even in its beta (an early build of the game in which gamers are invited to play and test) captured the minds of millions and reshaped the industry. Released on the PC late last year, Minecraft has made close to $40 million already. Now a build of the game is headed for the Xbox 360 with Kinect capabilities, which means you can now build in your living room on your TV. If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.

May 15: "Diablo III" — PC, iOS (rated M, mature, for blood and violence)

"Diablo III" is likely the most anticipated game of the summer. Game developer Blizzard (the same team behind juggernaut "World of Warcraft") has been teasing fans with this follow-up to the wildly popular "Diablo II" for more than a decade. Taking place in the mystical lands of Sanctuary, your character battles all sorts of evil across dungeons and islands in an ever-expanding landscape. "Diablo III" will be a third-person role playing game. The previous version kept fans playing for 12 years. Parents can expect some fantasy violence, akin to "The Lord of the Rings."

May 15: "Max Payne 3" — PS3, Xbox 360 (listed as "Rating Pending to Mature")

Rockstar Games, the publisher responsible for games like "Red Dead Redemption" and "Grand Theft Auto," has dug out one of its older series in "Max Payne." The series tells the story of Max Payne, a disgraced DEA agent and NYPD officer who, after the murder of his wife and child, took to the streets to avenge their deaths. What results is his violent version of retribution and an ultimately dissatisfying avengement. "Max Payne 3" picks up Payne’s story in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he’s working private security. For anyone familiar with Rockstar’s recent titles, "Max Payne 3" will be very familiar. For newcomers, the game is a third-person shooter that promises all the bloodshed and bad language of the "Grand Theft Auto" series, all in the colorful and beautiful Sao Paulo.

May 22: "Men in Black: Alien Crisis" — Xbox 360, PS3 (Rated T, teen, for mild language, mild suggestive themes, violence)

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