pring is here, folks. Buds are on the trees, temperatures are on the rise and the "new releases" section of your local retailer is all but empty. Last week's console drought seems to have been replaced by this week's assortment of PC rehashes. A few new peripherals have brought some joy to our gaming rigs, but everything else has been little more than an excuse to go out and get some fresh air.
Remember the value that was last autumn's Orange Box? Well, apparently Valve does too. This week marks the first time PC gamers have been able to purchase that collection's various components Ã la carte. Team Fortress 2, Portal and Half-Life 2: Episode Pack remain as solid now as they were months ago. Still, this will be old hat to all except the most stubborn PC-centric consumers.
Following a successful debut on consoles last year, Ubisoft has decided to port Assassin's Creed to the PC. Little (if anything) has been changed in terms of this build's content, but previews indicate that the title has survived the platform change relatively intact. Provided the game's controls translate well, this might be one to feed the old Windows box.
One of this week's standouts isn't a retail release at all: Ikaruga hits the Xbox Live Arcade with a number of enhancements including online multiplayer cooperative play. This Treasure-designed shooter might not be the newest kid on the block anymore (it was first released in the arcade back in 2001), but its unique gameplay remains as captivating (and challenging) as ever. The only folks who might bemoan this release are collectors — that GameCube or Dreamcast copy you've been hoarding doesn't seem so special anymore.
Console gamers have at least been able to enjoy the release of two new peripherals. Last week saw the arrival of an "impossibility": Sony's DualShock 3 controller adds vibration feedback to the PlayStation 3's SIXAXIS. Although this is the controller that should have released with the system in the first place, it's at least nice to see Sony add what's become a standard feature to their newest console. Fans of Rock Band will be smiling this week: Harmonix has finally released its guitar controller as a stand-alone peripheral. Though it's still cheaper (by a long shot) to purchase all three instruments and the game bundled, folks who purchased Rock Band months ago will appreciate the opportunity to add a bassist to their band's lineup.