Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Duke Nukem Forever

If you are like me you could not count yourself lucky enough to attend PAX Prime this year. While PAX is not ordinarily known for its megaton news announcements, PAX attendees this year got one of the biggest megatons out there - Duke Nukem Forever still exists.

... and it was playable.

Feel like kickin' ass and chewin' gum? The fine folks at Gearbox are going to make that a possibility They've purchased the IP and it is coming in 2011. Who knows, we might even see a demo.

I grew up on Duke Nukem 3D but I never was that excited about the prospect of a new Duke game. Perhaps it was because in my gut I knew that it might never come out or perhaps it was because I had already seen what happens to sequels of games that I played when I was younger (Quake, Wolfenstein, DOOM). Return to Castle Wolfenstein may have been the exception but nothing from these series was ever stellar after their original incarnations.

Maybe even Duke Nukem Forever won't be that great but at the very least I know it will be great for some mindless fun. I am excited to play with the shrink gun again and put some remote laser mines all over the wall.

Come here piggy, I have the bottom of a boot I would like to show you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue Trailer (Yes, A Sequel Already)

We can be excited for more DeathSpank or we can hang our heads because it looks like more of the same. I do not even believe that you can transfer over your character stats from the first game.

I'll play the demo... but that might be the only thing I do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Best of Gamescom 2010... thus far (Mass Effect 2, Ratchet and Clank, Disney Epic Mickey)

I'll start out with my favorite thing to come out of Gamescom so far, the Epic Mickey opening cinematic:

Amazing no? I feel like though I am eagerly anticipating this game it will still surprise me.

Alan Wake also had something to say at Gamescom or rather, Remedy had something to say about his episodic adventures. They said that releasing the game on Xbox Live episodically would be an 'interesting experiment' and that there technically was nothing preventing that from happening. We saw this with Fable II, a game not very episodic in nature; it would only make sense to see something like this down the road. The Writer - the second downloadable episode - was also said to have been close down the road. Hopefully it does not overlap with the release of Halo: Reach, or something silly like that.

The rest of the interesting news comes from the PS3 side of the tracks and the most interesting piece is that Mass Effect 2 is coming to the PS3. I am all for this announcement but I wonder, how many people will pick this game up a year after it was released on the Xbox? Will it have exclusive content? I'd pick it up again if that was the case.

There are also two new games coming from Insomniac - Ratchet and Clank, this time with 4-player coop and Resistance 3. Having not spent a lot of time with these franchises this news doesn't excite me like it does for some but I am still looking forward to both.

Then again we might be able to put a lot of stock into these NEW PSP Phone rumors and get excited about something else altogether.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game Review

In a world faced with realistic graphics and story-laden plots perhaps it is a bit refreshing to play something like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game (whew), a game that debunks the idea that all movie games must suck - or does it - yes it does. Scott Pilgrim KO's the conception that licensed games must be lackluster; perhaps the downloadable route is something more developers should do.

The game keeps the story to the basic framework that the graphic novels set forth but provided that you have read the books you will be surprised what the developers at Ubisoft got right - and how much they managed to stuff in.

The Overworld
The gameplay is a old-school (punishingly so, at times) Streets of Rage, Double Dragon style game and you would be remiss to not feel some sense of nostalgia pulling at your heartstrings on your journey through the Toronto-styled overworld.

The sprites are wonderfully animated and I often found myself wondering if I would have really been about to see a game that looked this good in the early nineties (the style that they were going for). The "cutscenes" are cutesy pictures of the outcomes of each level and every time I watched one I could not help but smile or laugh depending on what I was looking at.

The soundtrack is perhaps the best part of the game - you know, other than having a game to play it to - provided by Anamanaguchi. Particular favorites were world 1's song and world 3's.

The game has 4-player couch co-op where you can play as a part of Sex Bob-Omb (as a taunt). You get a rating, comparatively to the people that you were playing with, at the end of each level. There is no online co-op and though I am sure that it was an issue of time, I see this game as more fun played on the couch with 3 other friends.

The only other qualm I had with the game is when the enemies get stuck on the sides of the screen - you can not see them and you can not progress - and you have to either restart the level or systematically punch and kick at the sides of the screen until you kill the seemingly invisible guy.

Scott Pilgrim: The Game had a lot to offer: two secret characters to unlock, paths on the overworld that do not unlock during the natural progression through the game, and easter eggs galore (personal favorite was the goku sprite).

If you are a fan of Scott Pilgrim you are a fan of this game. If you are a fan of old-school beat-em-ups you are a fan of this game. Get out there on the streets of Toronto and beat up some evil exes - or something.

4.5 out of 5
Review based on retail Playstation Network version provided by Ubisoft.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Limbo Review

Danger lurks everywhere.
In Limbo you may never truly know what is going on but regardless you will be on the edge of your seat until the very end. My heart was jumping out of my chest several times throughout the game.

Limbo tells the story of a boy who enters Limbo to see what has become of his sister. You would never know this because the game just begins - and for that matter ends - and plays through.

The only actions in the game are to move forward or back, jump, and interact with objects (usually by pushing or pulling them). Despite all of this the puzzles in the game get challenging (but not controller throwing) and often result in, "AHA," moments.

The best part of the game is that this game is timeless. It will look great in 10 or twenty years - in its beautifully rendered black and white, film grainy style.

On the opposite side of the coin the most disturbing thing about the game is all of the ways that you will be dismembered while trying to discover the right way through a puzzle. My heart would beat faster every time I slipped and feel of some spikes or stepped in a bear trap. I cringed.

I feel that even if you are a very careful player this game requires a lot of trial and error. For me it never became frustrating though I was a little annoyed with one puzzle that required very precise timing.

The length of the experience should not matter to anyone but look at five or so hours for your first playthrough. The game invites at least a second playthrough to discover all of the game's secrets and perhaps the achievement for finishing the game in one sitting dying five times or less.

At the end you leave feeling that Limbo is art. You are playing in a movable Edward Gorey book and might feel right at home in a Tim Burton Movie. Playdead hit the nail on the head (literally) with Limbo. This is an experience everyone needs to have.

10 out of 10

Limbo is XBLA exclusive, part of the Summer of Arcade promotion. It costs 1200 Microsoft Points and was paid for by the reviewer.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

DeathSpank Review

DeathSpank is not like many other games. It has charm, wit, and a great ability to make you feel like a hero to the downtrodden. It unfortunately also has an ability to make you feel like one of the downtrodden that you are supposed to be downtroddening or something like that.

From the second you start playing it is easy to see where Ron Gilbert's (Monkey Island) influence takes root. The jokes are familiar yet fresh and there is even one in there about Monkey Island. To say that the game is aware of itself would be speaking lightly as you are constantly greeted by jokes about game mechanics and common RPG terms.

The game is an RPG, heart and soul, from the loot to the constant questing. The game is a real time RPG with solid mechanics, good inventory systems (an auto-grinder would have been nice), and a hefty amount of content. It also takes a teeny slice from the adventure game pie but that lies in a few puzzles and the dialogue options.

The dialogue remains fantastic throughout the game but toward the end of the experience it all begins to feel samey, boring, and washed out. Jokes at the end of game would have been funny at the beginning of your experience but when you are nearing the end of a ten hour experience you have - in so many ways - heard it all before.

The same thing happens with the gameplay. It is fun to begin but toward the end it feels like rinse and repeat. Despite the constant loot you will find that you stick with the same weapons throughout the game. You might switch to new weapons 4 or 5 times in the game throughout. The runestones change it up a bit (mostly just for the cool aesthetics) but they are by no means necessary so you might never use them at all. The game may also have plenty of loot but you will rarely find that you are ever maintaining your inventory (though toward the end of the game you will constantly be grinding things that you do not want in order to make room for the things you need).

Despite all of the caveats, I played through the game in two long gameplay sessions and watched time melt away after I did - short, simple and sweet - quest after quest. The game is built for short gameplay bursts and it may have done the game a greater service to play it like this because after the first long gameplay session I felt like I had no reason (other than to finish it off) to go back. The story is okay, and once you have heard some of the jokes none of the others will catch you off guard.

Something that did catch me off guard was that this was also the first game in a long series of games played through where I found the music boring and less inspired than the rest of what the game had to offer.

Everything about the DeathSpank experience (sounds like an exotic ride) screams - from the Enchanted Forest to the Demon Mines - of polish, careful thought and crafty design. I remember several times throughout my playthrough stopping to marvel at just how well everything worked though DeathSpank, the game, is much like Deathspank, the character; he means well but the outcome is not always what was intended. Buy this game if you are a fan of Monkey Island or Diablo as the hype has suggested (or for an easy 200 gamerscore) - the rest may be able to wait for DeathSpank 2.

3.5 out of 5

Review based on the retail XBLA code paid for by the reviewer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flailing about at Macy's with Kinect for Xbox 360

The Kinect Booth.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to get some "hands-on" time with Kinect. I dragged my wife to Macy's with the intent to see what all the hype was about and I did just that.

The line was not that long but I felt like this was due to improper advertising (or I was just lucky). I felt like a television or newspaper advertisement could have helped more people get out to play with Kinect.

I got my shot after only waiting for about 15 minutes. The game was Kinect Adventures.

I stepped into Microsoft's version of a living room with a random teenager to race against and immediately started moving around to see how Kinect read my movements. It seemed stuttered and laggy but I was not going to pass judgment that quickly. The on screen prompts told us what to do as the event staff also reiterated those points. Did I mention that before I walked into that room, I had no intention of jumping around like a fool?

The race started and as I had already seen the video demo from E3 I was jumping and dodging and all around acting like the damn fool I swore up and down that I would not be. Before I knew it the race was over and I wanted more. I won (am I going to let some teenage snot beat me?) 120 points to 114.

Quite some time after my demo I was still reeling at how much I loved my experience. If I had not had to be somewhere I would have gotten back in line.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DeathSpank coming to PSN today and XBLA tomorrow!

Though I have previously shown no love or attention for DeathSpank, the game has still been on my mind.

It is a charming little game that has been equated to a cross between Diablo and Monkey Island (that is a sell day one (TODAY!) for most people) and it is only fitting seeing as Ron Gilbert - the co-creator of Monkey Island - is heading the project. If you could not decipher from what the game has been compared to, it is an action RPG.

There are a crazy amount of weapons in the game ranging from Physical to Weapons of Justice. There are also Elemental Weapons and Runestones. I have no idea what this means but have you not seen that trailer above this post, it literally says it all - and more.

It looks like a great buy and I will probably be playing the demo on PSN today and buying the game on XBLA tomorrow. You know, I have an achievement reputation to keep up.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Club Nintendo Platinum/ Gold Rewards Announced

Your hard work of registering your first party Nintendo games has paid off, the Club Nintendo rewards for this year have been announced:

The elite status (600 coins) reward is a statue that features all of your favorite Mario characters. It 3.9 inches in height and 4.6 inches in diameter. It comes in a decorative packaging.

The gold status (300 coins) is a Club Nintendo calendar for 2011. Big difference.

The new Club Nintendo year begins today so start registering those games and doing those surveys.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hulu Plus coming to Xbox (2011) and PS3 very soon; Available on iPhone/iPad Now

The news was broke today that Hulu will be releasing their service to both Sony and Microsoft systems, with the emphasis on Sony receiving the service first. With the amount of video watched from various users on both systems through the Netflix and Sony video feeds, this will be a great addition to both platforms.

The feature will be available for $10 a month with ads to users. With the inception of the Hulu platform, the service will reach to areas of programming that Netflix cannot yet touch upon, being mostly the newest of network shows. With various programs affiliated with NBC, ABC, and FOX showcasing on the service, this product will be a thrilling help to those who want the newest and most interesting of programs, broadcasted in 720p.

It will be great to see the various reasons reflected as to why Sony is receiving the service first, and if after the inception of the $10 a month charge added to your already charged Live Accounts, and eventual Sony chargeable accounts, if we see more services charging an additional fee to use their services through the systems. Either way, this product will be one I will be very tempted to use this service when it does hit the Microsoft Xbox system in early 2011.

Playstation Firmware v3.40 Available Now; Playstation Plus Today

I do not get to play as often as I'd like.

I never knew the days of yore when the Playstation Firmware was updated on a, what seemed like, at least bi-weekly basis. Now it seems to happen on a bi-monthly basis and the update process is quicker - no one is complaining.

The main highlights of firmware 3.40 are Playstation Plus, a five-star rating system and a photo and video uploader (to Facebook and YouTube). Other features are a photo gallery where you can look at your Picasa and Facebook photo albums (again you can upload to both of these services as well) and a new power save functionality that sets your consoles default inactivity shut-down at 2 hours.

So yeah, nothing that exciting but coming along with this update is a more robust Playstation Facebook app. It allows you to add friends to your friends list that are on Facebook and vice versa. One step closer to social networking domination.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Crackdown 2 Demo Impressions

Based on the demo alone Crackdown 2 feels a lot like the first iteration - that is, it feels right. It feels good to be cleaning up the streets of Pacific City once again but for some reason, mutants now come out at night. I imagine that the final game will lend us an answer to these mutants but damn if there aren't a lot of them.

The game is almost identical to the first game. The looks are mostly the same and the same thing can be said for the controls. I know that based on these two things alone, I am ready to jump back in.

My first three times through the demo I earned none of the achievements that the game had to offer and I also did not complete the last part of the mission on any of my playthroughs. I might knock the difficulty down to easy just to see what is after the end of the mission. Some of the achievements that they give you to work on seem impossible in the realm of the demo but I am certain that there are those out there who had no problem doing it.

It seems to be the the Cell are the new daytime baddies and the mutants whom only come out at night are better fought with better caliber weapons (or fists).

The bottom line is that if you liked Crackdown you'll love Crackdown 2.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New GoldenEye Revealed; Slated for release this fall

The original Goldeneye was another game that despite not having a Nintendo 64 I was always playing. I never had the opportunity to touch the single player aspect of the initial game and was not half bad at the multiplayer.

I do not know that I am looking forward to the game but I am sure that as long as they include some nostalgia for old fans and do not mess up the old formula this game is likely to be a huge hit.

Instead of Pierce Brosnan as Bond, Daniel Craig will lend his likeness as he is the current Bond.

It comes out this holiday season exclusive to the Wii.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kirby's Epic Yarn for Wii Revealed; Coming This Fall

Kirby has not seen a major console release since the year 2000 with Kirby 64. Fast-forward ten years and we will be seeing Kirby's Epic Yarn on the Wii this fall.

The game looks fantastically charming and it reminds me a lot of Super Paper Mario in not only aesthetics but in style as well.

Put quite simply Kirby's shape is made of yarn and Kirby can unravel enemies (as they are also made of yarn (and it has me wondering about the backstory)) become a blimp, a tank, etc.

I love Kirby and have not spent any time with him recently so colored yarn me interested.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Playstation Plus coming June 29th

You can stop holding your breath the Playstation Network still holds its roots in the free realm. Playstation Plus is like something that you can stack on top of the Playstation Network to make it the service that it was always meant to be. Again, this is not saying that your PSN experience will not be everything it once was, this is saying that those willing to pay will be greatly rewarded.

With a pay service comes a hefty amount of exclusive offers and features. Here is what Playstation Plus has to offer:
  • discounts on randomly selected DLC (much like Microsoft's Deal of the Week)
  • free DLC (that cost's money for non-subscribers)
  • exclusive early access to demos and betas
  • the digital Qore magazine - free
  • free full game trials for any game up to one hour before you have to make a purchasing decision
  • auto downloading (which downloads patches, select demos and game videos, etc. all without ever having to think about it
To me it seems as though Playstation's service is worth the asking price because it brings a lot of the oft requested features (that Xbox already has). Perhaps cross game invites and party chat will become Playstation Plus features, should they ever come down the pipe.

Playstation Plus is 50 dollars a year and if you purchase a subscription at the outset you get 15 months for the same price. Seperate three month packs are available for 18 dollars.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Portal studio is still alive in 2011

The work of Gabe Newell is precise, well thought out, and yet always somewhat of a surprise. From the creation of two multiplayer giants in the Left 4 Dead series, and the inception of Gordon Freeman into almost every videogame player's vernacular, we have the little video game engine that could in Portal. In a game that was undershadowed originally in the Half-Life 2/Team Fortress/Portal boxset of games, the crew at Valve will be bringing back the Companion Cube and GLaDOS back for more puzzles and mind numbing fun as you attempt to help navigate through another assuredly short and sweet game from the Valve team.

What gives fans such a huge attachment to Portal was the futuristic and yet heartfelt attachment to various characters, and Chelle and GLaDOS will both be back for a featured game that will be showcased on PC,Xbox 360, and PS3. The game will launch at some point in 2011, and should help to bring puzzle gaming back to a heightened level of enjoyment. Although no gameplay was shown for the Portal 2 story, we do know the game will take itself on as a story hundreds of years after the original.

Metroid: The Other M premiere at E3

After three years of no sunlight for the Metroid series, and on a day when various games like Kid Icarus and Donkey Kong found their way back into our minds, Samus and her untitled ship will travel back into our hearts. The Other M, showcased with great graphics and a knack for edge of your seat Sci-Fi battles, will be launched into our hands on August 31st of this year.

What once again will amaze all of those in love with the Metroid style of gaming is how Nintendo continues to impress with the fresh and crisp graphical style that they continue to employ, working well with the systems graphical restrictions. The gameplay trailer even consists of some points of sidescrolling gaming that almost look as of those from the original Nintendo console.

The Space Pirates will continue to create a dutiful mission for Samus, as those who have been firmly linked to the game, such as Producer Yoshio Sakamoto have stated that although the game has been taking longer than originally expected to come out, that the crowd will be very pleased in what he been formed. From the trailer that was shown at E3 earlier today, it is going to be hard to deny that statement.

Zelda Skyward Sword Revealed; Coming in 2011

Miyamoto says that this game will be the turning point in Zelda's history and though I don't know about that, what he had to show was definitely attention grabbing.

You use the Wiimote as your sword and the nun-chuck as your shield. You hold the sword straight up to charge and slash to fire sword beams. Miyamoto wanted to make the game as simple and natural as possible.

To aim your slingshot and bow you just move the Wiimote around - no need to point it at the screen. To fire the bow you just pull back the nun-chuck and release to fire.

You can throw and roll bombs with the Wiimote with a overhand swipe and and underhand roll respectively.

There is more expansive scenery and it looks great.

The new beetle flies around using your remote to guide it. It picks up items and can also be used to place bombs where Link can't get.

The last new item is the whip and can be used to cut grass and grab items with the flick of your wrist. It always works exceptionally well at taking out a lot of bats at once.

It looks fantastic but we have to wait until 2011 to see just how good it will be.

Update: Trailer!

Nintendo 3DS Revealed Along with Kid Icarus Uprising (IN 3D!)

The top screen is a 3.5 inch widescreen display and the bottom screen is the standard touch-screen. The hardware is better: there is a new slide pad (similar to a joystick) as well as a motion and gyro sensor.

There will be 3D movies and though no specific on those were given Nintendo stated that they would be showing trailers (in 3D) on the show floor.

It also comes with a camera that can take 3D pictures. Now that is special.

But like they said, "What you care about is the games," and what they had to show was a trailer for Kid Icarus Uprising. My prowess does not include the wonders of Kid Icarus but I know that this excites me.

Disney Epic Mickey

Disney Epic Mickey

Warren Spector is excited for Disney Epic Mickey and he wants you to be excited as well. He is doing a good job.

This holiday we will be visiting the Wasteland in three different kinds of areas:

  1. Ventureland is a quest zone where you solve puzzles, buy tools and supplies, and use the paint and paint thinner mechanic. You have to dynamically change the world here to save it. Everyone will have a different experience and what you choose to do with this world will have various different rewards and consequences. To me, this sounds different for a Wii game.
  2. Action Zones were not gone into a lot but it seems that, and this is just going by the name, this is where you (Mickey!!!!) will fight the majority of your enemies.
  3. The travel zones are where you travel to a classic Mickey cartoon. The game becomes a 2-D side-scroller here.
Just going on what was shown at the Nintendo briefing this game looks fantastic. Disney is bringing the games this year. With Split/Second already doing well on the market Disney Epic Mickey looks to continue its stride of great games.

New Donkey Kong Country Returns Revealed and coming Winter 2010

I can remember a time where all I cared about was playing Donkey Kong Country on the Nintendo 64. As I did not have a 64 myself I was always at a different friend's house at various different stages of the game. I'm not even sure I ever completed the game.

I remember working my way through the jungle, through rickey mine shafts and exploding Donkey Kong from barrel to barrel always looking for all of the secrets in a level.

Now that you are there with me: Donkey Kong Country Returns this holiday.

Is your sense tingling? New looks at a Spider-Man game

Within the E3 2010 breakdown, there was more light shed upon one of the games that has intrigued me for a few months coming, and that was the work being done by Activision and developed by Beenox to create a Spider-Man game that combined 4 Spidey worlds in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Within this Spidey game, the Tablet of Chaos needs to be retrieved in various pieces from the bosses throughout the game.

Throughout the game, there are varieties of boss battles that will challenge your webbed fellow, but some of the boss battles will actually fulfill the role of a first person contact, where you can get up close and personal and defend yourself. This is a huge twist to a popular beat em up superhero game, and could be very welcome in what some consider a tried and not always true genre.

To see "Amazing Spider-Man"is something to be expected, but one of the first tidbits of info we did receive with video information is the arrival of the world of 2099 Spidey, War, and also an Unknown World yet to be released. The gameplay style of 2099 adds basejumping and very high flying building maneuvers while chasing Hobgoblin. The coolest inception could be a new vision mode, allowing various looks to gain advantage in various boss chases. The look of 2099 is incredibly futuristic and puts Spidey in a dark red and black based suit.

This game has been one with little fanfare and masked in intrigue for awhile, so here is to hoping we get more out of Activision on this game soon. If you'd like to watch the video for this game in action, check out the link.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Alive and Kickin': A Michael Jackson game!

I will be the first to admit as a small child, I unabashedly loved everything that Michael Jackson had created. The dance moves that he could do left me in wonder, and when Michael Jackson passed away as of last year, the nation mourned the performer. From various articles posted, we have learned today at E3, that Michael Jackson's likeness will be added to a game shortly for all platforms in a "karaoke" style video game, where you gain points by choreographing his dance moves.

Within the game, there is hinting of dance as well as singing portions of the game, allowing you to put on your shiniest white shoes and gloves and mimic the great pop legend, either with family or friends, or all by your guilty lonesome. For a conference centered this year on mostly action games and long awaited sequels, this game could be a very heartwarming and new experience.

Ubisoft hopes to strike big and I believe that this is one game that will sell almost as well as a Guitar Hero type installment. The game is scheduled for a holiday release as of this year, that could possibly coincide with an album of unreleased Michael Jackson work.

Medal Of Honor

The game takes place in War-Torn Afghanistan.
EA did a LIVE 24-player software demo of a mode called Team Assault where you fight to reach points on maps based on real locales.

The gameplay feels like BFBC2 but the points and rewards are a little more in your face ala Modern Warfare 2.

The sound, look and general feel of the game all scream DICE and some of the sounds even sound like they were pulled directly from Bad Company 2.

One word: FANTASTIC.

The beta goes live June 21st and goes live even earlier for Gun Club members on June 17th.

There will be no question of my love for this game, how about you?

Expect me to be there with on October 12 2010. Expect to see me online this Thursday June 17th.

Here is the multiplayer trailer:

BulletStorm Releases 2.22.2010

There are arcade style points while playing. They are rewarded for doing anything with style or doing pretty much anything at all. A lot of the points come along with descriptions that are often descriptive, snarky, or both.

You get points for kicking guys off cliffs, for whipping guys into the air (and exploding barrels next to them), and for finding out the way to kill difficult enemies.

There are very cheesy lines and slow motion kills but it all adds to the aesthetic which simply just seems to be, to have fun.

Look for more on BulletStorm later on.

Star Wars: The Old Republic @ E3

It was announced that every player will have their own ship. Your ship will define your journey through the galaxy.

No price, date, or really anything at all was announced.

EA Gun Club is a Rewards program

EA Gun Club features rewards, weapon unlocks and early demo access.

You can access the Medal of Honor demo early, this Thursday June 17th, by going to gunclub.ea.com.

That is as soon as the link works.

Bad Company 2: Vietnam Coming Winter 2010

An expansion pack for Bad Company 2 is coming in Winter 2010 - Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam.

They only showed a teaser but I am stoked.

Update: The Battlefield Blog posted more details including the E3 teaser:

The expansion pack contains 4 new maps in a Vietnam setting, new achievements, awards, etc. I thought that this was going to be some campaign missions but this will do just fine.

[As with everything today, pictures are pulled from Joystiq.]

ESPN Live and On Demand is FREE to Gold Members

This is also gesture and voice command based with Kinect.

There are trivia a live polls through games and you can also look at highlights and scores without leaving the game you are watching.

Again free for gold members and redefining the one box experience.

Halo: Reach has space battles

Update: Trailer!!!

The only thing that you need to know is that Halo: Reach has space battles.

Oh yeah and the old Covie drop ships are back.

Gears of War 3 Trailer Shows Off Lambent Locust

Cliff Blezinski and friends showed off a live 4-player co-op demonstration of Gears of War 3.

The gameplay demo showed us being able to tag meat shields with grenades and being able to shove them at enemies. The space that the firefight was taking place also looked a tad bit more wide open than in previous Gears games.

The best part was the lambent Beserker touting all kinds of tentacles and looking more intimidating than ever.

The hammer of dawn looks bigger and more badass but proved to be relatively ineffective on the lambent Beserker.

Cliff also revealed that a new mode called, 'Beast,' would be revealed later on during E3.

Fable 3 Ships October 26

Update: The Fable III E3 Trailer:

And that is all I can tell you right now. No mention of Kinect support for Fable III was mentioned and the trailer is not up yet so... look a pretty picture.

Better than the previous two boxes. Photo courtesy of Joystiq.

Additional Kinect Information

The most important thing to note is that the Kinect has not officially been given a price though the rumor is $150. As we all know Kinect needs to be bundled with a console and that the bundle needs to be reasonably priced. I do not see the bundle coming in at under $300 so Microsoft's ability to undercut Nintendo might be in vain. Speculation aside these are a few other things that we know about Natal Kinect.

There will be a new gesture based Kinect only menu also known as the Kinect Hub.

From here you can get to your music, your movies (which are also gesture controlled), and Video Kinect - a video chat function.

Video Kinect looks to have Bing integration where you can see the weather where you are located and where your friend is located. You can also watch movies together while being able to see each other.

The Kinect also tracks where you move so you are always in the viewfinder.

Video Kinect is coming to Live Messenger on the PC as well so who knows if you will be able to Kinect connect your Kinect (oh jeez) to the computer.

Also mentioned, but already known, is that Xbox Live will be coming to Window Phone 7.

Hideo Kojima Debuts Metal Gear Solid Rising Footage @ E3

 The game looks to have at least partially destructible environments. You can also slice your enemies eight ways till Sunday.

At the end of the video Raiden was shown slicing a watermelon. This looks like and intensely awesome game mechanic.

The trailer ended with the tagline, "The blade is in your hands."

Image Source: DeviantArt

Kinect Launching November 4 w/ 15 Launch Titles

A few of those titles will be:

  • Kinectimals
  • EA Sports Active 2.0
  • Kinect Sports
  • Your Shape
  • Biggest Loser
  • Kinect Joyride
  • Kinect Adventures
All the Kinect games are full motion based and nothing that combines a controller and Kinect was mentioned - not even Fable III. Your Shape looked like the best of all the games experiences.

The New Xbox 360 with Built-In 250GB HD and WiFi Ships this Week

Hell-o fingerprints.
Update: A Joystiq unboxing.

What else is there to say about the New 360? Well it is the same price, $299.

As already mentioned it has a built in 250GB HD and Wireless N built-in. Welcome to the party Xbox.

I have to say that I absolutely love it.

From photos of the back it looks to have 3 USB slots (on the back alone) presumably because Kinect will always be plugged in.

[Photos from Joystiq]

The Force Unleashed 2 Teaser Trailer... Unleashed


I was a fan of the first game and I am eager to play more.

Scott Pilgrim E3 Gameplay Trailer

I honestly do not know what else to say about this other than, "You should be watching this right now."

Quite amazing, no?

Initial KINECT games and partnerships announced

We all very clearly remember Nintendogs and Wii Sports, don't we? How about Playstation's upcoming EyePet? Well - and brace yourselves for this one - one of the first games announced by Microsoft for the KINECT AI camera is Kinectimals.

Kinectimals lets you play with 20 different pets including lions, tigers and cheetahs. Should it more appropriately Kinectikitty? Anyway this is not a product for those of us reading this and should occupy a five-year-old's time for at least a few minutes that is until they play...

...Kinect Sports. Oh come on! We just want these kids to just upgrade from their Wii and we can't do them any more credit than this? Guess not.

We can at least give these kids, the free-to-play (if that model still exists), Joyride back, right? Yes we can. The game has made the leap forward to become entirely gesture based and will likely be a launch game for Kinect.

Licenses that are infinitely more exciting than any off this: priceless. I mean Disney and LucasArts have showed their, perhaps exclusive, support for Microsoft's full body moving camera.

I just cannot wait to force push enemies using MY HAND.

[VIA USA Today]

Project Natal is aptly named KINECT

So there it is; looking relatively similar to the Natal prototype pictures, Kinect for Xbox 360 has officially been unveiled. This came a few short hours after both USA Today and an advertisement on an Italian website leaked the new slim 360 and the Kinect branding of Project Natal.

I like the name but I think, like everything else, people will have a problem with it. It fits what the camera is supposed to do - kinect connect people.

[Photos and articles pulled from Futurestiq Joystiq]

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Toy Story Avatar Gear Now Available on XBL Marketplace

Did someone poison the water hole? Is there is snake in your boot?

Well then get ready for Woody's Roundup Toy Story avatar gear.

There is everything from a Woody's Roundup T-shirt to a Lotso avatar prop. You have RC (the car), paratroopping Army Men, and the terrifying Rex. There is more here than you could shake a Tinker Toy at.

But seriously folks the only thing that isn't here is a Barrel of Monkeys.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jurassic Park to Become Episodic Game Series

Does this logo not make you happy every time you see it?

The fine folks at Telltale Games are once again opening the gates of Jurassic Park though this time it will be in the form of an episodic game series. Game Informer reported that we would see the first episode by the years end.

If we are lucky we will see more of this described, "cinematic experience," at E3.

I for one trust the expertise of the folks at Telltale and cannot wait to see more on this announcement. Perhaps it will have the same "season pass" that Sam and Max currently has on the PS3 as I do not have a computer worthy of running this experience.

Come the end of 2010 hopefully we will all have a fundamental understanding of Dino DNA and perhaps less of the running and screaming.

[VIA Joystiq]

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bad Company 2's Map Pack 3 Drops June 9th

Coming this Wednesday, June 9th your Battlefield Bad Company 2 disc will express its love for you by pushing a couple of "new maps" your way so that you may last until the real expansion of the game -- Onslaught mode.

I am not saying that I am not grateful to be able to play Squad Deathmatch on Nelson Bay or Squad Rush on Laguna Alta, I am just saying that I would be willing to drop ten dollars on three new maps -- not just the rehashing of the same old maps.

These maps will be free to, and only accessible by, those who have a VIP code (it came with the game or you can purchase one from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for ten bucks).

Here, a video for your pleasurable enjoyment:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Alan Wake Review

 Five years in the making and the light is finally shining upon Alan Wake. Remedy Entertainment makes sure that the product that they release is a character driven - story laden - psychological romp through the Pacific-Northwest town of Bright Falls. They succeed at their task and ultimately you should not wonder why this game took five years until completion.

Alan Wake is a writer suffering from a two-year bout of writers block; coincidentally this has put a strain on his marriage (and perhaps his mind) so they find themselves vacationing to the idyllic town of Bright Falls. The visit, quickly, takes a turn for the worse and Alice goes missing. You wake up a week later with no memory of what has happened and dark shadowy figures - also known as Taken - are attacking you whilst you try and piece together what has happened to your wife by finding and reading pages of a manuscript that you do not remember writing. Heavy, no?

So begins your mission of trying to find out what happened to your wife using only a flashlight and whatever gun you can get your James Joyce Brett Easton Ellis mitts on.

The gameplay is simple enough; boost your flashlight to burn of the darkness shrouding the Taken and only then, only after the shield is completely gone, can you dispatch them with your gun. In most instances it becomes challenging - especially when three or four Taken spawn right next to/behind you (scaring the bejesus out of you) and while you are trying to knock away ones shield (because, again, they are otherwise invulnerable) the other two are flanking you. Fun. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and it keeps the game interesting.

The sound design and music in Alan Wake create some of the games best moments. Particulars that comes to mind are the songs that cap off each episode and the ambient sound (or noise) when Taken are about is enough to keep you on your toes throughout the game. The sounds of the forest let you know that this is still a "real place" and of course the game would never be complete without the Old Gods of Asgard but that is all I have to say about that so as not to spoil a great part of the game.

The graphics are great but at times they show their five year tenure of development. The game often looks photo-realistic - especially at night - but at other times - specifically when characters are speaking - the marionette style mouth animation looks antiquated. It is nothing that took myself out of the experience and is my only gripe with the game.

The game is also full of product placement, from Energizer batteries to Verizon cell phones, but again for me it just added a sense of realism to the game. Think about your own life - we are living, breathing advertisements.

Though it does not really factor into a review per se it is no secret that the fine folks at Remedy want Alan Wake to be a series (or at the very least to have a sequel). The ending allows for that (not in a bad way) but in a way that if there is not a second game a lot of folks will be disappointed.

This a fine psychological thriller is every sense of those two words. Alan Wake will be talked about for years to come as a return to form for the thriller genre when it comes to games. It tells a terrific story and has you feeling and pulling for the characters throughout the game. Buy this game new so that we can all play Alan Wake 2 (The Search for Better Lighting).

Friday, April 30, 2010

'Splosion Man Review

So innocent. So Sploderrific.

I can remember a time when I thought of the Xbox Live Arcade as merely a portal for retro games. You could count on one hand the number of original games and better still you were lucky if you found one worth playing. This is not a review of a service but I feel, as do others, that this service provides me with more games - as of late - that I love than traditional retail.

That being said, Splosion Man is the stuff of legend. You and I both wish that there was this kind of passion for creating games everywhere in the industry. Twisted Pixel splodes their way into your heart and here is why:

Splosion Man is the two-hour old product of Big Science's ridiculous experiments - other experiments often come in the form baddies that you encounter throughout the game - and he is not happy. His is happy, however, to turn all of the scientists into big chunks of meat. It never gets old. The "story" is really that simple and technically there is no real ending (Splosion Man 2 please?).

The biggest achievement for this game is the level design. It is brilliant and naturally the best - and most prominent - part of the game. The levels are always at a level of impossible adding in just a glint of being able to beat them; it keeps you going and makes you feel like a king when you pass one of the levels.

What brings those levels to life? The fact that the game is rendered in the beautifully stylized Third Dimension; can you believe it? It looks similar if not identical to the graphical style of The Maw and it is just as charming - if not more so.

Though you cannot put a price on charm and the fact that price does not usually factor into a review (as well as it should not) let us just look at this game from a value standpoint: it is is 800 Points (ten bucks) and for that you not only get 50 levels of single player but 50 different levels just for co-op multiplayer (couch co-op or LIVE). Extra goodies also make their way in there in the way of gamerpics, a premium theme, and avatar clothing. If you end up liking the game, of course if you do not you should be sploded into steaks, this a splodin' sweet value.

I remember that when this game was announced on April Fool's Day of 2009 I rolled my eyes. On April second they confirmed that Splosion Man was a real game. I was still not impressed, excited, or at all interested. Then folks got their hands on it, started talking about it, and I had to have it. Splosion Man never disappoints and is always coming out with clever quips and hilarious random sayings that border on catch phrases. The three bosses in the single-player mode are equally as funny and the animations for all characters in the game are amazing. I cannot say enough good things about this game so please, if you haven't already, liberate your wallet of ten dollars that desperately wants to be spent on Splosion Man.

Editor's Note: Only this single player portion of this game was played for this review. The multiplayer was sampled but not completed. Not that it matters - obviously - but the game was paid for by the reviewer.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Split/Second Demo Impressions

Split/Second is still a game I have mixed feelings on. I had the opportunity to check out the demo and I played through the solitary race (the only one included in the demo) 4 or 5 times in a row. Based on the demo and my previous hands-on time with the game I feel like I am not seeing a large enough sample of this game (perhaps the much touted Survival mode would sell me?) - at the very least, not enough to merit a purchase. This game will be a word of mouth purchase if it ends up purchased at all.

Alas, I am jumping to my own conclusions too soon; at the very least these demo impressions will be a comparison (hopefully a stark one) to my previous hands-on time.

To start I will say that the same events, both large and small, still feel copy and pasted though I did get to experience two course alterations whereas previously I had only noticed one major one per track. One of the course alterations was a large tower falling and thus changing the course of the race but it felt extraordinarily reminiscent of the Space Needle falling on the track (and from other trailers there look to be a lot of falling tall structures).

In my five races I only lost once, and just barely, and I found that I was just trying to get a better time (my best being '4"24). I experienced every event that this track had to offer and by the end (except for trying to get a better time) I was tiring of the sameness. I even had earning Power Play juice down to an exact science.

I also noticed this time around different Power Play levels (1 & 2). The first are simple things such as blowing up a parked car as an opponent drives by and having explosive barrels dropped from helicopters. Level 2 Power Plays require the full PP Meter (course alterations require this as well) but with good reason - buildings blow up and can take out upwards of 5 opponents at a time. It is fun a few times but perhaps it would be more satisfying if I were playing this demo online.

The major thing that I noticed that was a stark comparison from my hands-on time with the game was that there seems to be little or no slowdown at all (one of my previous major worries).

I may be one of this games only critics but Split/Second is still on my list of wait-and-see games. Perhaps I should check out this Blur Multiplayer Beta I have been hearing a lot about.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

MLB.TV to Stream on PS3

Hughes had an amazing game last night.
There is a forthcoming announcement today, by Sony - reported by the New York Times - that they will be bringing the MLB.TV service to their console. The report states "by the end of the week," the console will give you the ability to sign up for MLB.TV to watch "out of market" baseball games directly from your console. This means that if you live in Oregon you can watch Yankees games on your big screen TV (and it also means that if you live in New York and you are a fan of the Yankees, this service is useless to you). Not that you could not find a way before - it is just now more convenient. Playstation much like XBOX is devoted to becoming the ultimate set-top-box experience.

The MLB.TV service will likely - as it does on your computer - run you one hundred smack-a-roos or more for the service.

[VIA Joystiq]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kick-Ass Review

To start off, I want to be clear that this is the movie we are talking about. I know that this is a site for video game reviews and other such news but I felt strongly enough about this movie that I figured you, the reader, needed to know how I felt. We all belong to the same geeky nerd genre anyway. Also, there might be spoilers abound.

Kick-Ass is beautiful. The fine folks behind this movie deserve credit for making this movie look as sweet (I literally mean candy-coated here) as possible. Everything is a bright color (like someone just flicked the color boost switch on the side of the camera) and it all makes you feel like you want to be part of the Kick-Ass version of New York City (you know, aside from all the thugs and gangs that this movie pays homage to). The style of all of the fight scenes even makes you feel bad-ass Kick-Ass. This is the kind of movie that I cannot wait to own on Blu-Ray.

But then, if you are like myself, and a fan of comic books, you probably read the comic - right?

Well then, I am sorry to say that you are ass-kicked in this representation of Kick-Ass.

Granted that the comic was not yet finished before the movie's screenplay there were bound to be some differences between stories; it was my hope that these would not be too major. This is the story of a kid named Dave who decides that the world needs a hero and that he is going to be that guy. He feels empowered by his suit until everything goes wrong. There are real heroes out there who are not about the flashy nature of it all and Dave gets mixed up in it all. He quickly discovers why being a superhero is not all fun and games.

The first of my laundry list of story complaints was that I was disappointed with how Kick-Ass got his name especially seeing that they kept the same basic You-Tube scene in there. I was also disappointed when they assimilated scenes from the comic together so that the events were all happening to main characters. I did not feel like there was too much or too little content in the comic that these unnecessary liberties needed to be taken.

There are a few major twists in the comic that really impressed upon me but in the movie they all fell flat or did not even exist. The movie was not shy about throwing the whole Red Mist thing right out there in the open. It was also not shy about completely blasting the whole Big Daddy/Hit Girl story to pieces.

The casting for the movie and the character portrayal were perhaps some of the worst parts of the movie. First - McLovin. I am sorry but Christopher Mintz-Plasse was only cast in this movie to drawn in the SuperBad crowd and while it may be to understand that from a business decision, from a I don't want you to butcher this movie standpoint all I can literally think of is "face. palm." It ruined the revelation of his character and just the whole character itself. Ace Enders Aaron Johnson did a good job portraying Kick-Ass but the decision to portray him as more pathetic in the movie was a poor one. I cheered for his minor victories in the comic but again in the movie everything came out like a whimper and in the end Kick-Ass ends up using guns just like everybody else. The portrayal of Hit Girl was almost spot on if not for all of her use of guns and Big Daddy, played by Nick Cage, was far too skinny.

My last on the long list of complaints is where the film makers try to appeal to us gamers. There is a scene where Hit-Girl ends up in the dark fighting everybody in a warehouse alone, I know - shock of shocks. What you did not know is that the illustrious film makers decided that they wanted to appeal to us gamers by putting in a DOOM (movie) style FPS moment while she is taking everyone out. I rolled my eyes through the whole part.

In the end if you did not read the comic perhaps Kick-Ass was a good movie. There are a lot of people out there who disagree with my thoughts on the movie. At the end of the day I wanted to like the movie but it was really just a terrible garbage mess. Sometimes I want to like something so badly that I just tell myself that I like it. You may be able to find a few glimmers of a decent comic book movie but just remember that you are looking through shit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Year of Xbox Live Arcade :Part 2

And now, the pleasure is all mine to present you part two of my PaxEast experience. Hopefully you folks enjoy, as I look forward to posting some new and exciting thoughts soon on the gaming state as of today.

There are games that as could be seen at PAX, hold a very loyal following to many fans. One of those is Team Fortress 2, a game originally bundled with Half-Life and Portal in one whoppingly stunning game package, and one that presents a team based version of combat that is not only addictive but whimsical. Monday Night Combat will be a game in the same vein of team shooters that strive for a true feeling of teamwork, creativity and games that will create a feeling of exhaustion once finished. The concept of the game is simple yet glorious in its inception; pitting teams of 6 players (which makes sense given that you have 6 player models to choose from) against each other along with a variety of AI controlled robots that help defend (and move the line of scrimmage forward) your end of the battle zone. Within the battle zone you can build turrets and barriers, catapult yourself across the map and create general mischief for the other team in your quest to have your robots crush the other team’s money ball. The game' itself can last for long stretches of time (about 15 minutes per match), even going to overtime at the end of regulation time. The classes were not fully touched upon by myself, as I always head directly to the thinnest and fastest character; the two classes that were used included an Assassin and a Sniper class.

The real Xbox Live Arcade game that stole the show was Raskulls. The premise is so simple that it is almost shocking that this game has never been created before, this being a good thing as Halfbrick Studios has created a gem in this Xbox Live Arcade masterpiece. The game pits up to four players in a multiplayer race downwards, as you’re faced with breaking blocks below your feet to create a path to the finish line. With various powerups, and very polished but humoring graphics, you find yourself almost as attached to the game as a visual triumph, not just for the sheer fact that you are playing and trying to master the game. The Halfbrick kiosk had Nate and I at the kiosk at least once each day, even bringing our wives and guests with us. The game keeps each character model completely even - none are more powerful or faster than others, so the races keep extremely close and almost always build to a last minute win. This game will become the best online Xbox party game to play, as each powerup works wonders, the control scheme is great, and a built in frenzy meter, a regenerating turbo bar, helps to make this by far the best creation at the whole PAX East event.

The event that was created for us by the Penny Arcade creators, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, was a great place not only for the congregation of so many different types of people, from web comic lovers to video game lovers, to people who just wanted a place to be there favorite character. It - perhaps most importantly - also hid a beautiful nugget of truth in the expo rooms and that is that the Xbox Live Arcade this year will become the place to be and be seen with your friends, loved ones and people you love the least to show who is truly the stronger gamer.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Year of Xbox Live Arcade

Greetings all! It is with great honor that I begin my entry into the realm of video game blogging for you. For all that do not know me, I am close friends with Nate and take video games almost as seriously as him. I look forward to any and all comments on my articles in the near future. With much pleasure, I post to you Part One of a two part Pax foray into the awesomeness that was Xbox Live gaming.

The Year of Xbox LIVE Arcade: A Tale from PAX East

I’ll be honest from the very beginning with all the incumbent readers I have had the pleasure of reaching out to, if there is one thing that has been spotty, lacking, and at times effortlessly incredible it is the function and creations that touch the Xbox Live Arcade. When deciding on the trek to PAX East, a mere 31 miles from my home, the expectancy was that games like Mafia II, Red Dead Redemption and Crackdown 2 would be the crème of the crop. I am happy and somewhat shocked to report that the Xbox Live Arcade was the steal of the show and helped to firmly supplant that they are the wave of the future for new and old gamers.

The first game that was on the docket was Dishwasher: Vampire Smile. From the creator of Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, Ska Studios once again covets the best of Xbox Live style with a dreary and depressing art form synonymous to a toned down Sin City - almost. Those who recall playing the first game will remember the moments where you seem bound to throw the controller in frustration. The game now allows you an easy mode, which will help to cure a portion of the controller throwing frustration. New with the second iteration is a character named Yuki, not only a visual treat to see a new character, but also bringing with her a completely new fighting scheme and weapons. The first game left a lower learning curve to be desired as well as a little more variation, and from the looks of the second game, we will see just that. Bosses receive their own introductions, ala a more toned down version of Borderlands, “Meet your next date” confrontational. All in all, the demo was short, but the one thing that drew to my attention was an area in one level that flashed words akin to things thought of when listening to “Fitter. Happier” by Radiohead, quite possibly my favorite band. Not having the ability to know whether or not this was intentional or not, the kitsch references alone I could take away from this game were more than enough to leave me wanting more.

The one last thing we can take away from Ska Studios is the inception of the Charlie Murder game, a rocking band brawler akin to a Castle Crashers or TMNT (the original arcade classic). This booth was a solid look into Ska Studios future and their powerhouse creator’s (James Silva) mind.

Shank was one of the close-to-the-door expo games that quickly received a large audience purely from its aesthetic. With a look akin to Samurai Jack, the lead character is a bandanaed man by the name of Shank. He faces a selection of tough guys ready to be vanquished by the handful and at the end of the demo you do end up facing a large Antonio Banderas look-alike by the name of Toro. There are portions of the game that not only become endearing for their multibutton pushes but also for their wide variety of results including grenade in mouth, or some nice gun play. The game also shines in the lighting and atmosphere, where in one part of the demo you end up fighting in the shadows, only looking at blackened creations of the characters you were using only moments before. The only downfall to Shank was the minute-long-demo and what looks to be a lack of environmental creativity. There will be more, soon, to follow on this game, as KLEI (creator of EETS: Chowdown, a previous entry on XBLA) has joined with EA to put this game on the arcade very soon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Battleblock Theater Hands-On

Even at this stage in development BattleBlock Theater has a lot to offer; I did not get all of the time I desired (eternity would be nice) with this game because after I had my first go at all of the modes (available) The Behemoth's booth lost power. I feel like something this cooky is something that would only happen at their booth (and it did only happen at their booth).

Speaking of nutty things, the game's story is as nuts as the trailer makes it sound:

This is the official description of the game from The Behemoth's site:
Having shipwrecked on a mysterious island you find yourself both betrayed by your best friend Hatty and captured by the locals. All of this is happening while being forced into deadly performances. This however, is just the start of your problems.
All of forms that this game manifests itself in are mini-games. I did not get my hands on all of the modes that have been announced but here are the descriptions and what I thought of each one:

  • There is a block painting mode where the player simply has to run over, touch, bump into blocks and turn them their teams color. Whichever team has the most blocks at the end of the round wins. I enjoyed this mode but in all three rounds played my team was decimated by the AI.
  • The second mini-game is one in which you must collect golden coins from a golden whale and deposit them into a winged safe. My partner and I did exceptionally well in this mode but alas we did not finish because the booth lost power.
  • The first mini-game mode that I played I did not understand until it was explained to me. You have to kill or get the other team killed by pushing them into hazards. This releases their soul (in the form of a balloon?!) which you then grab for points! You can hold onto that persons soul until they avenge themselves or you are killed by a hazard. This mode was bizarre and by the time I figured out what I was doing it was too late.
All of the stages have hazards in the form of: spikes, what looked like exhaust pipes that shot flames, water, crumbling blocks, etc. Each stage that I played was played in a 2 vs. 2 scenario (2 humans vs. 2 AI).

I was skeptical on this game before I got my hands on it and I am not yet 100 percent sold but this is The Behemoth we are talking about and I am sure they will get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to spending my 15 bucks (that it is likely to cost) later this year. Something about being pitted into "deadly performances" by cats sounds intriguing to me.

Friday, April 2, 2010

DICE Unlock 'Squad Rush' in BFBC2 for those who did not Pre-Order with GameStop

I preordered Bad Company 2 with Amazon (see what I did there?) because they are a better company and they do not make me want to take my money and burn it (like GameStop makes me want to) instead of spend my money there (at GameStop). I was punished by not having the ability to play a mode called 'Squad Rush' for an entire frakking month. Oh well.

The mode is now unlocked for all of us that have free-will and do not fall to tantilizing deals provided by the company who must not be named (from this point forward of course).

Enjoy the video:

Split/Second Hands-On

Split/Second is a racing game by the folks - Blackrock Studio - that brought you Pure. Of all of the publishers out there, Disney (yes, it is still shocking) is putting the proverbial gas in the tank. Split/Second looks to be a high octane thrill ride and I'm here to let you know if my hands-on time lived up to the hype or if the shock of this being a Disney game is all the appeal that it has.

Before I had the chance to put my foot down on the accelerator I was able to watch several people play the track that I would be playing. It looked like downtown Seattle mainly because there was a large Space Needle that became "part of the race". I'll embellish on that in a moment but I would first like to describe to you the beauty of this game.

Split/Second is gorgeous. From the absence of HUD (explained just one sentence down) to the graphically fidelity this game screeches (like rubber tires on the pavement) triple A. Now there is a HUD but this is not anything that you are used to; the HUD is "strapped" to the bottom of your vehicle and what it displays is very basic. The HUD consists of your Power Play meter (this bar fills as you drift, draft, pass, etc. opponents), your position in the race, and the lap counter. Contributing to the fidelity of the game the screen also "tilts" with your turns and in direct correlation to that it "feels" fast and immersive - very much like a Burnout game.

Having previously mentioned the Power Play meter, Power Plays are Split/Second's bread and butter. Power Plays are crescendo events that you can trigger using the "A" button (of course providing that you have some Power Play in your meter). There are smaller crescendos that may just involve dropping something from a helicopter onto the track in front of an opponent, triggering their temporary demise, to much larger events such as dropping the Space Needle on the track (it also becomes part of the track!). The large events are few and far between and it seems like they become each track's set-piece. The Power Plays are fantastic but are there enough to go around?

This brings me to the part where I have to tell you that the game is not all sunshine and rainbows. Though this could have been an issue with the demo, the game seems to have a lot of slowdown issues (particularly when there are a large amount of explosions or Power Plays being triggered simultaneously) and for a racing game this is a notably troubling issue. This could have troubling repercussions in multiplayer play as well.

In addition to the slowdown, after watching the races so many times before I was able to play myself, I noticed that the Power Play moments become predictable (and later potentially boring?). It becomes easy to know when to trigger them or to know where to drive in the case that they are triggered against you (and you get more juice for your PP meter for an escape). For a game that will probably have a decently sized multiplayer community this will either become boring or empowering for Veterans of the game or it will be off-putting to newcomers.

Having the luxury of playing a second track, at the Joystiq Blueberry Muffin Tops Breakfast, did nothing to sway me in the game's favor. I only noticed how the same experience seemed to be cut and pasted into a different area. The aesthetic only felt slightly different (one guy asked the Disney rep if all of the tracks took place in an urban environment to which he received no response) and even the smaller crescendo events seemed to be, or were, exactly the same.

I was excited for Split/Second when I first approached Disney's booth but now it is on my list of wait-and-see titles.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile Hands-On

If you have not even tried The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, what are you waiting for? The Dishwasher is the brain child of Ska Studios (aka Jame Silva) and what a... dead... child it is. The game is hand drawn/animated and it has a dark gritty style.

But I will dare and assume that you have played Dead Samurai and what you are here for are my thoughts on Vampire Smile. In any other context that sentence might not make a whole lot of sense but alas that would only be from the outside looking in.

At first sight, Vampire Smile appears to be more in the same vein as its predecessor. It has the same art style but upon a closer look the game is much more crisp and clear. This is attributed to a newer version of the XNA engine.

The follow-up to Dead Samurai also brings better control of The Dishwasher. The controls feel more precise and they actually made the game feel easier than I remember the first game being.

In The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile we will be treated to three campaigns: one for The Dishwasher, one for Yuki, and a co-op campaign. Yuki is a character that breifly appeared in the previous game but in case you did not remember she is the Dishwasher's (now dead) step sister.

James said that this game will be great because it is all new - from the ground up. He said that the first game started as something small, in order to win the Dream. Build. Play. Competition, that he kept adding to but that Vampire Smile started from the beginning as a full title.

Look forward to it, "when it's done."