Though January was a gangbusters month for the US game industry--which minted a recession-defying $1.33 billion--it wasn't that big on the release tip. However, the third week in February will see two of the year's biggest games hit store shelves--in one case, literally.
Street Fighter IV, the current-console-generation reboot of Capcom's classic fighting series, will step into the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 rings on Tuesday, February 17. Anticipation for the game has been building steadily since it was announced last year, thanks to its stylized 3D visuals and roster of characters, which includes the entire cast of Street Fighter II as well as a number of new additions. A PC edition is expected in the coming months.
Xbox 360 owners not fond of virtual pummeling will have a very attractive alternative in the form of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned. Available only via digital download from Xbox Live Marketplace, the first of two expansions for Microsoft's console will introduce a new antihero, Johnny Klebitz, a member of the Sons of Anarchy-esque biker gang known as The Lost. The game will feature a 10-hour-plus campaign, new music, and new activities, such as Road Rash-like motorcycle races where competitors bash each other with blunt objects.
The week will also see DS owners get a double shot of Japanese classic remakes. First up is Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Intelligent Systems' redux of the 1990 NES turn-based fantasy strategy game. Meanwhile, Square Enix will release Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, a portable remake of the Japan-only 1992 Super NES role-playing game. Both games will feature graphics reworked for the DS, although only Fire Emblem will have online multiplayer through the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection.
Last but not least, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II will march onto PCs Tuesday. A full sequel to 2004's bloodthirsty sci-fi real-time strategy game, it is set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe first created in the classic tabletop figurine strategy games. Developed by Relic, the RTS will cast players as one of the fanatical Space Marines battling three hostile species: the mysterious elflike Eldar, the green-skinned Orks, and the noxious Tyranids, a race of insectlike aliens that destroy all life they encounter.
For a full list of the week's game debuts--which also include Namco Bandai's Noby Noby Boy from Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi--check out GameSpot's New Releases page.