Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bungie and Activision Sign a Deal? Wtf mate?

Bungie, the developer that has brought us the juggernaut Halo franchise, has signed a 10 year partnership with Activision, the company currently under fire for their conflict with Infinity Ward. What does this mean for Bungie? Well now that these two are partnering up, it means that Bungie will be going multi-platform with their newest IP, allowing for their next big title to be available for PS3, 360, and maybe even the Wii. In a statement released by Bungie this morning:

"Today, we’re poised to open a new chapter in Bungie’s history—one that begins with a partnership between Bungie and Activision and ends where we always knew it would, with World Domination," said the studio, with their tongue always firmly planted in cheek. "Our Next Big Thing now has a concrete path, leading from our studio to the platforms of our choosing. The business formalities are behind us. Our Constitution remains unchanged. We are still Bungie, still independent, and now we are free to bring our stories to an ever bigger audience."
It will be interesting to see where this merger leads and what Bungie will bring to the table for their next big IP. Bungie still remains partnered with Microsoft for Halo: Reach, due out this fall. No word yet on if Bungie will declare war on Infinity Ward and take over the world issuing a communist dictatorship.....just speculation at this point.

Source: Industry Shocker Halo Developer Bungie Studios Signs Deal With Activision

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Batman Arkham Asylum 2 Villains Leaked

In a slight slip up, we now know the identity of a few of the baddies we can expect to see in Arkham Asylum 2:
  • As seen in the trailer, Joker and Harlie Quinn will make their return
  • Mr. Freeze has since been confirmed by voice actor Maurice LaMarch...not Arnold...sadly
  • Two-Face confirmed by Kevin Conroy
  • Talia al Ghul confirmed by Actress Stana Katic (Quantum of Solace) over Twitter
Each voice actor has revealed the game is much, much darker than the previous installment....probably in story and the amount of shadows? It will be interesting to see how the rest of the cast comes together. There are still a huge slew of characters you can choose from: Penguin? Catwoman? Clayface plz? Hopefully we will see more at this year's E3.

Source: Batman: Arkham Asylum 2 Characters Leaked

Left 4 Dead 2 DLC this Thursday

Left 4 Dead 2

PC/Xbox 360

Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Release Date: Nov 17, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 is scheduled to get a few new additions starting Thursday. 'The Passing' will allow the old survivors to meet the new survivors in a brand new campaign. Early achievement listings show even more could be coming with this package. An entirely new game mode will accompany a few new weapons, new uncommon zombie, and the possibility that one of the old survivors will actually die... le gasp!
  • New game mode: Mutation
  • New Campaign
  • Melee weapon: Golf Club
  • Machine Gun: M60 (rips zombies in half)
  • New uncommon common - The Survivor Zombie
  • And of Midnight Riders song (*clears room on iPod*)
All of this for just 560 MS points for Xbox owners. Not bad considering the amount of content. Sift through to find your copy in that pile of games you have, cause this looks to be worthy DLC.

Source: Left 4 Dead Blog

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Splinter Cell: Conviction - Review

Score 9/10

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction
Xbox 360/PC
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: April 13, 2010

Pros: Mark and Execute never gets old, Co-op is a blast, Variety of ways to approach any situation, Interrogation becomes an interesting break in the action, various weapons and upgrades keep you coming back, Projected Objectives and "Last Known Position" are a nice touch

Cons: Visuals are meh at a few points, upgrades require playing a certain way, relatively short campaign, somewhat easy with Mark and Execute

Splinter Cell has always been high up there in providing really fun, stealthy action and a solid story. The cliffhanger ending of the previous installment, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, left Sam's fate unknown. Conviction was originally announced around 2007, before being scrapped and completely redone. The result is a much more fast-paced action game, where stealth and gun-play are combined for an incredible experience.


  This is a Tom Clancy game, so the typical formula for a story is in place. You have big conspiracies, a plot of takeover, and the horde of baddies other people don't realize are bad. The story is all well and good, but it's Sam's involvement that makes it so unique. Taking place immediately after the previous Splinter Cell game, Sam is now a fugitive on the run, looking for answers as to who killed his daughter. Revelations are made along the way along with a few surprises. The truly great moments are the occasional flashbacks in Sam's life that delve further into who he used to be.

  Visually the game holds up well enough. Character models prove to be the high point, especially that of Sam who is now equipped with rugged beard abilities. There are even certain segments of the game in broad daylight that prove incredibly detailed. Thankfully, the nightvision has been replaced so you are not looking at things through a green filter most of the time. There are certain textures and surfaces that look a bit dated, but overall there is nothing that will bother you too much.

  The voice acting once again delivers, with Michael Ironside behind the voice of Sam Fischer with a much darker tone. Without spoilers a few past supporting cast also return to lend their voice, each on-par with Ironside in delivering believable performances. The music adapts to the situation well, heightening upon discovery and smoothing out as you creep through the shadows.


  The typical Splinter Cell player may be surprised by the turn in gameplay. Much like Mass Effect 2's direction, the slower gameplay has been shifted to a much more fast paced experience. Gone are the lockpicking segments and continual moving of bodies to a better location, replaced with seamless transition and precise executions. The game still maintains its stealth elements, but with the large variety of weaponry available it almost encourages you to break away from being completely sneaky and go in loud. This allows you to approach any situation to your own preference: Stealthy take downs or go in guns blazing.

  The most distinct addition to gameplay is the "Mark and Execute". This feature allows you to plan ahead and take out targets with a single button. This never gets old, as it is ultimately satisfying to drop on top of a dude in the middle of the room, and take out three of his buddies in less than 10 seconds with just the push of a button. This is not readily available, as you must execute a melee kill in order to get the ability to execute. While this prerequisite can be challenging at times, this does give you an "Easy" button. Sure taking out a group of dudes with one button is awesome, but the challenge of the single player is a little lost.

  In addition to the Mark and Execute a few other features make their appearance. Interrogation sequences occur in which you use your imagination to torture answers out of select individuals. Sure you could punch him in the face right where you stand, but there is a perfectly good refrigerator door ajar that you could slam his head into. No option in using your surroundings will influence how fast/efficient the information is at all, but they prove a satisfying break in the action. There is also the new "Last Known Position" feature that leaves a shadowy highlight of where enemies think you are placed. This is extremely helpful in getting the upper hand by flanking an enemy or knowing where the enemy could be looking to avoid the area.

  The campaign acts a rollercoaster ride of how-to's in the game. There are plenty of epic moments, interrogations, and mixes in the combat to keep you interested. Though the campaign holds its own, it mainly acts as a very well put together tutorial. I say this for two reasons: One is the slow introduction of Sam's equipment (Flashbangs, sonar goggles, etc) and the other is because by the time the real challenge comes into play....the game is over. We are talking about a 6-7 hour experience. Luckily it is enjoyable enough to warrant a second play through on the higher difficulty, both to test your ability and raise the lack of challenge on Normal. I actually forgot I had gadgets at certain points, simply due to the fact that I had no trouble disposing of the enemies.

  While the campaign may be short, the true shining portion of this game lies in the co-op campaign and Deniable Ops. This is no tacked on side mission replay of the single player campaign missions, it is a fully well designed and lengthy four level co-op campaign acting as a prologue to Sam's adventure. It follows Archer and Kestrel, two lone ranger splinter cells forced to work together. You have all the same features as before, including a Dual Mark and Execute in which you team up to mow down a handful of enemies. The latter campaign levels can actually get pretty challenging, requiring you to work together to overcome the odds. Deniable Ops adds on a "versus mode" of sorts with guards thrown in known as Face Off, as well as Hunter, Last Stand, and Infiltrate mode. Each proves incredibly enjoyable, and it is always fun to combine a gung ho player with a stealthy one to see the outcome.

  In both Campaigns you have access to a pretty big supply of weaponry. Playing through the game unlocks bigger and better guns and gadgets. Using points gained from specific actions (kill 4 with mark and execute, kill enemies while stunned), you can upgrade your existing weaponry. While playing normally will allow you to upgrade what you want, unlocking everything requires you to play a certain way. In a game that is very open and allows you to approach every situation differently, this sort of forces you to use certain actions.
  Overlooking a few minor flaws, Splinter Cell: Conviction adds intense action to the classic stealthy gameplay. While the campaign is short, it's very much worth the play through and acts as training for the insanely satisfying co-op. Considering the amount of content, there sure is a lot of variety in the way you can play the game. Conviction is a welcome addition to the Splinter Cell series, tailored for fans and newbies alike.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mario Galaxy 2 with it's Head in the Clouds

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: May 23, 2010

  The last trailer showcased Mario with a rock ability that allowed him to barrel down loops and turns, crushing anything in his path. Now it seems there is another new ability Mario will acquire...the ability to walk on clouds. "Cloud Mario" lets our hero create cloud steps, which he can then walk on to climb to places originally out of his reach. It will be interesting to see how this thing works and the huge potential it has to create even more complex platforming sequences. Guess the flying cap is sooooo 1996....

Source: Super Mario Galaxy 2 Forecast Cloudy With A Chance Of Plumbers

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dante's Inferno - Review

Score 7.5/10

Dante's Inferno
Xbox 360/PS3
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: EA
Release Date: February 9, 2010

Pros: Slew of magic and relics allow you to customize to preferred style, morality affecting combat allows for further customization in which one is not more powerful than the other, Environments are well designed and true to the poem, Incredible sound

Cons: The novelty starts to fade after the first few circles *cough* Fraud *cough*, Must play "Absolve-Hero" to save someone, Camera angle has gotten me killed more than the enemies, If I have to mash the B button one more time.... 

  The Divine Comedy is the last source material anyone would have considered when making a video game. Visceral Studios begged to differ, basing an entire game around Dante's descent through the nine circles of hell. The result is a roller coaster of a hack and slash that, though satisfying, leaves a little to be desired.


  Dante's Inferno loosely translates the poem of The Divine Comedy...and I do mean very loosely. You play as Dante, not a poet, but a crusader. He is...well...killed and refuses to accept it, killing Death and taking his scythe. He returns home to find his wife taken by Lucifer himself and gives chase through the circles of hell to retrieve her. You make your way along all circles of hell battling demons and disfigured entities with the sole purpose of getting her back. There is more to the story as usual, with the high points delving into Dante facing his own sins as he progresses through the circles. One of the biggest plot points that confused me was left unanswered...why is Dante the only guy who thought, "Oh I'm dead? Pfft, screw that." No real explanation is given as far as why he is the only guy that decided to fight Death, but hey, I guess he is just cool like that. Virgil, the "poet", acts as a spirited adviser, quoting the work and explaining exactly where you are located. His conversations are always enjoyable to listen to, I just wish I didn't have to continually press the right-bar to keep it going.

  The environments in the game are a treat to traverse. You can tell that they drew a lot of details from the source material, with the result being a truly disturbing tour through hell. From rivers of boiling blood in the Violence circle to the giant...*ahem*...members...of the Lust circle, you really feel as if you are spiraling into a dark pit of eternal suffering. Though many elements tend to repeat and blur together in later circles, the first few circles of hell are a great sight. Character models, though not as incredibly detailed as one would like, still maintain a presence of intimidation. There are gluttons coated with slime, prostitutes that lash at you with...their...tentacles, and incredibly disfigured and frightening bosses. Not to mention the great detail taken into Dante's model, complete with a particularly shiny scythe and cloth that flutters about as you jump around.

  The high point of Dante's Inferno lies in the sound. That seems like an odd thing to say, but the second you start fighting it becomes apparent.The ping of the cross as toss bolts of light at the enemies, the clanging of weapons together, and the shrill cries of the enemies all combine together to further enhance the experience. Though the soundtrack may leave a little to be desired, the voice acting holds up well enough to tie the whole package together.


  Alright gotta make it through this review without mentioning God of War. So the game plays similar to God of...CRAP! Starting over.

  The game works much like any other hack and slash. You fight your way through bosses, platforming sequences, puzzles, and hordes of enemies to advance. Killing enemies or finding secret fountains yield experience that you spend to acquire new moves and level equipment. Relics act as "equipment" and give special abilities such as increasing damage or adding protection, furthering customization to personalize Dante. While there are other elements thrown in, the large majority of the time will be spent in the combat. Though satisfying as it may be, the puzzles and platforming do little to really mix things up. Luckily, the combat ends up being increasingly enjoyable as you unlock the better moves and magic. Boss fights also prove fun, with some of the early fights proving the most intriguing.

  There is a "morality" system in place that offers a little variety in the gameplay, with little effect on the story. Pursuing the Holy path greatly increases the damage you do with the cross, and also offers powering up certain magic. The Unholy side greatly increases the damage you do with the scythe, providing a more melee based character. The great thing is that one side is not necessarily better than the other, allowing you to customize based on personal preference. Gaining holy power and unholy power depends on whether you absolve or punish the sinners you run across in the levels. Only problem is that when you choose to absolve, you end up playing a very slow, boring Guitar Hero like game. They try to become increasingly difficult, but just end up slowing the fast paced nature of the game. This influenced me to go I'd rather just impale someone's face than repeat that minigame.

  My main problem with the game lies with the camera. Fixed in place, there is little you can do to move it where you need. This becomes a problem when platforming, as multiple deaths were the result of not knowing exactly where I was in reference to the tiny platform I was jumping toward. Where this really ruins the experience is in combat. That's right, you will be attacked by enemies completely off screen. Nothing is more annoying than racking up a killer combo only to have a random fireball or enemy come in so fast that you have too little time to react and lose it all. Being hit by my own wrongdoing is one thing, but to be continually pummeled by bats shooting fireballs from the corners of my television is just irritating.

  The only other real problem I had with the game is the large amount of time you will spend mashing the B button. I have never mashed this button so much in my life. You mash B to open doors, you mash B to absolve/punish an enemy, you mash B to get health and magic from the fountains, you even mash B to save yourself from enemy grapples. I am not sure if the letter B is hellish in some way or the red color of it influenced the developers, but by the time I was finished I could not feel my thumb. You couldn't throw in a simple button sequence or joystick twist?

  Now I've tried to keep God of War out of this for as long as possible, but this is the huge comparison many have made. I will say is a really close clone of the game. The magic system, the style of combat, even the platforming seem incredibly too similar. Every game takes elements from other games or is inspired to utilize a system that works in a different manner for their own game.....but man did they do little to hide it. Anyone familiar with the God of War series will see sections taken straight from the GoW textbook (rope segments, the boulder segment, levers and boxes galore). This is not necessarily a bad thing, as this style of gameplay is pretty enjoyable. The only problem being that they really did not feel like risking anything new or inventive, which may have hurt the game in the end as most simply view it as a rip-off.

  Dante's Inferno is a fun experience overall, but left me a little...unsatisfied. With a little more time taken into doing something different and improving a few of the game mechanics, this could have been a title worth the pricetag. At its present state, however, it remains just a "meh" hack and slash with a great opening. In no way is this a terrible game, but it did not win me over.

Gears of War III Officially Announced

Epic's Cliff Bleszinski was suppose to appear on the Jimmy Fallon show last night to announce Epic's big new project. After moving the project back to finish some work on it, his appearance was delayed until Monday. I do not think Microsoft got that memo, as an advertisement appearing on the Xbox 360 dashboard tonight for Gears of War 3 suddenly popped up. Oops....

Gears 3 has already been rumoured to introduce underwater missions into the series, among other new environments. The there are also tweaks to the cover system, namely by adding mech suits that players can use to engage Locust hordes directly or hide behind as heavy-duty, mobile cover.

Gears 3 looks to be slated for an April 2011 release date.

Source Kotaku: Gears of War 3 coming April 2011

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tim Tebow to grace NCAA Football 11 cover

This will soon be what the cover could look like for NCAA Football 2011. EA Sports has confirmed for Kotaku that Tebow will be on the cover of all versions of the game. Tebow earned the Heisman Trophy in 2007, the same year the Gators picked up its first of two BCS Championships.

Let the many puns of the "Cries"man ring out...*shrug*

Kotaku Source: Florida QB confirmed for all ncaa football 11 covers

Starcraft II Collector's Edition

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Developer: Blizzard
Publisher: Blizzard
Release Date: TBA 2010

Here is a first look at the collector's edition for Starcraft II. Now many people pass up these overpriced editions far too often...but that's before I heard what was included:
  • A 176 page art book
  • Behind the Scenes DVD
  • A 2GB Flash drive designed to look like Jim Raynor's dog tags
  • The official soundtrack to the game
  • A prequel issue to the upcoming comic series
  • A World of Warcraft exclusive in-game pet
  • Visual customizations for
  • In-game Thor unit
All this for....only 100 bucks. Considering all you usually get with a collector's edition, this is a pretty damn good deal. Still no word on a release date, but this is something to tide fans over.