Saturday, October 30, 2010

November Releases - Choose Your Weapon: Guns, Hidden Blades, or Paint Brushes

November 2nd/4th

Goldeneye 007
Developer: Eurocom
Publisher: Activision

 Goldeneye made its mark on the N64 as one of the first shooters that actually worked pretty well on console. Now Bond is looking to make its mark on the Wii, offering the same shoot-em-up gameplay of its predecessor. Though visuals leave a little to be desired, the classic fun still looks in place.

Xbox Kinect
Xbox 360
Developer: Microsoft
Publisher: Microsoft

Remember when you thought you looked stupid playing Wii and waving a remote around...yeah, about that...The Kinect is a nice piece of technology with incredible potential. This will be the hot item everyone wants this holiday, allowing motion control applications without a controller. So now you can flail wildly and look even cooler!

November 9th

Call of Duty: Black Ops
PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, DS
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision

Another year, another CoD. This time Treyarch takes the helm from infinity Ward to bring us Call of Duty: Black Ops. Though a different name and different developer, the typical CoD action still looks like it's there. Expect new weapons, new multiplayer perks, and a remote control RC car with explosives....s'like a grenade, but funner to throw at enemies.

November 16th

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, though no the official third installment in the series, brings us back to Ezio once again. This time around he must gather an army of assassins throughout Rome, train them, and use them to take down the corrupt leaders. Multiplayer adds a new aspect to the game, making you kill human players instead of the typical AI.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PC
Developer: EA Bright Light Studio
Publisher: EA

...shutup. Look the typical castle exploring games that preceded this always left a little to be desired. This game looks much more combat heavy, with a cover-to-cover based system. It's like Harry Potter the third person shooter....seriously, stop laughing.

Notable Titles: The Sly Collection (PS3)

November 21st

Donkey Kong Country Returns
Developer: Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo

The SNES classic is making a comeback this month, and with Retro Studios (Metroid Prime) at the helm, it's sure to be an incredible title. The same 2D side scrolling action is all there, with much more attention to the interaction with the worlds. From what I have heard so far, this is not an easy game. I heard an average player had 50 deaths in one sitting, so don't expect a kiddy game.

November 28th

Epic Mickey
Developer: Junction Point Studios
Publisher: Nintendo

Without a doubt, one of the most anticipated titles for the Wii, Epic Mickey is the latest creation of Warren Spector (Deus Ex). Mickey's brush allows obstacles to be erased from physical existence using the thinner and then restored using the paint. With a morality system in place and incredibly worlds to explore, the game looks to be one worth your time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fable III: Review - For Every Choice, A Consequence

Score 8.75/10

Fable III
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: October 26, 2010

Pros: Co-op has been vastly improved; menus are history, replaced with in-game inventory swap; vistas straight out of a painting; oddly hilarious thanks in part to John Cleese; Loads of quests/sidequests to do; Albion is a joy to explore

Cons: Besides the initial decision, choices are VERY black and white; the block button is the same as the hit button; frequent frame rate drops; Job mini-games are lacking

Fable has come a long way since its launch in 2004, but always kept one thing true: for every action, a consequence. This central idea has evolved yet again in the third installment in the series, correcting a few faults while evolving the world of Albion to an exciting place to explore.

The Butterfly Effect

Fable III takes place 50-60 years after the events of the previous game, in which your previous hero has died and left his children on the throne. The oldest child, Logan, has become a tyrant in Albion, instilling fear and oppressing the people of the world. You are cast into the role as the youngest child, a prince or princess, who must lead a revolution against his brother in order to save Albion.

The story is much improved this time around, offering a compelling tale no matter what path you choose. A bulk of the game lies in you leading the revolution, with the other half as king and ruler of Albion. The beginning alone offers a morally gray choice for you to make, and gave me high hopes for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, only a few of these situations occur, with most moral decisions drawn right down the middle. As a king, I expected a few more difficult decisions than; Should we allow child labor? It's more an invitation to laugh at misfortune than truly act as a ruler making tough decisions. Though a missed opportunity, it does enough to satisfy.

The morality system still has the same effect as before, with a few nice additions. Your morality now affects the appearance of your weaponry. Be good, and your sword will be etched in holy engravings and emit light. Be evil, and it will turn dark and drip blood. A full morality allows you to have either angel/demon wings burst from your back in combat, throwing enemies back and striking fear in smaller infantry. It's a nice subtle touch to add satisfaction in your choices.

Albion, The Land of Opportunity

If you play Fable to stay on the main are doing it wrong. The best aspect of the Fable games is the ability to go off the breadcrumb trail to explore the world set before you. Past Fables have offered plenty to do, and the this game is no different.

Visuals in the game have been vastly improved. Character models are more detailed, lighting in caves and the open worlds are awe-inspiring, but it's the environments themselves that are a marvel to behold. Snowy mountains, vast deserts, and industrious cities all contribute to the unique land that is Albion. Subtle effects like trees blowing in the wind and the glisten of light off of waves in the water are a nice touch, that help to make each setting like a vista out of a painting.

If sight-seeing isn't your cup of tea, then expect plenty to do. For completionists, there are loads of items to collect; including destroying 50 garden gnomes, collecting Legendary Weapons, finding silver keys, etc. The casual player may enjoy strolling around town drunk, raising hell in a village, or finding the most ridiculous outfit to fight evil in. The possibilities are endless, allowing you to step back from the main path for a few hours. The only lacking area are town jobs that all consist of the same repetitive button pressing mini-games to earn gold. It does not provide much incentive, and I ended up sticking to home ownership as the main source of revenue.

Reading is for Nerds

Menus have been completely thrown out for a new in-game item system. Pressing the start button no longer brings you to the main menu, but throws you into "The Sanctuary". This allows you access multiple items typically included in an RPG, but laid out in a more organized manner.

Rooms branch off to allow access to different areas. The armory holds all of your weapons/spells/guns, the wardrobe allows access to all outfits/tattoos/hairstyles, etc. In the center lies a map, allowing you to zoom into areas and warp directly to certain places, granted you have already visited them.

The system works surprisingly well, allowing you to hop in, switch weapons, and hop right back out to the action. It's a welcome change to the messy menus most RPGs tend to contain.

In addition to a menu change, experience is also handled differently. You are transported to a dream world called the "Road to Rule", and can open chests scattered across it, given you have enough "Guild Seals". The seals are earned as you progress through the game by combat, interaction with villagers, etc. It takes quite a few to open all of the chests, and each contains various power ups to tailor your hero to Magic/Melee/Ranged.


Something very odd occurred while playing Fable III, I was laughing a lot more than usual. This is in part due to the incredible voice talent the game contains. Every villager, main character, or baddie has something great to add.

It's a nice break from the serious tone of the main quest to hear a Gnome statue in the distance openly taunting you. Giant chicken costumes, great villager interaction, and other areas just add to this. Not to mention that having John Cleese voice your butler makes visits to the Sanctuary even more enjoyable.

Combat: One Spell Forward, Two Backstabs

Most of the game has been restructured, except for that whole "combat" part. It's still a cinch to get a hang of, which actually becomes the problem later in the game. You still have one button for melee, one for magic, and one for ranged; allowing you to stream together various attacks seamlessly.

A big improvement came in the form of restructuring the spell system. Instead of a clutter of spells, you may only have two in the form of gloves that you wear. However, you can weave spells together. Take the vortex spell and combine it with the ice storm spell and you have an arctic tornado of death. With a good handful of spells, combinations are limitless, and can be switched at any time in the Sanctuary.

The unfortunate element of the combat is the actual simplicity of it. Small baddies go down easy, big dudes hit hard and take longer to go down, etc. No real enemy takes a certain approach to tackle; just hit that button like there is no tomorrow. It doesn't help that the button you hold to block, couldn't throw a shoulder button in there for me?

It seems odd that so much was done to restructure and fix the menus and spell system, that the combat was simply transferred over. Sure there are satisfying, slow-mo finishers that trigger on occasion, but it still feels sluggish.

With a Little Help from my Friends

Co-op has been vastly improved. No longer do you need to be restricted to one screen. You can now move independently from one another. No longer are you stuck as a mercenary; your character, including all his/her items and equipment, will be transferred to the other player's game.

There has also been an improved system for interaction. You can form a business partnership with the Xbox Live player, and split earnings with each other. You can even go so far as to marry and have a child with a Xbox Live player. With achievements attached to this action, it is really odd to run by a 13 year old's character orb with him screaming for someone to impregnate. Had Dateline taught you nothing Lionhead?

Still, it is nice to have the drop-in, drop-out system in place if the world of Albion gets too lonely.


Fable III made some great improvements to the system from Fable II, even if a few areas still feel snubbed. Despite the occasional frame rate drop, the game is a solid RPG all-together. The new co-op and menu-free inventory is a welcome addition, and classic Fable gameplay still remains.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Uncharted 3: World of Deceit

Amazon's French side has listed Uncharted 3 for release for fall of 2011. Now, the same retailer has listed a full title and tentative box art for the game.

The recently pulled listing for Uncharted 3: World of Deceit popped up on the retailer’s website this weekend. Sony and Naughty Dog have yet to officially announce any information in regards to the third installment.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was critically hailed, selling nearly 3 million copies in a matter of months and dominating awards and GotY honors across the board. In addition to that, Sony also has an Uncharted feature film in the works.

As a personal fan of the 2009 Game of the Year heavy hitter, I am excited at the potential release and await more information on what's in store for Nathan Drake. 

Source: Uncharted 3: World of Deceit Outed

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blizzcon 2010 - Diablo III Details Emerge

After a very long time coming, new Diablo III details emerged.

The Demon Hunter is revealed the be the fifth and final class available. Much like the Rogue, the Demon Hunter focuses on ranged combat; with projectiles including throwing knives, grenades, bows, and a combination of sort with spells.

In addition to a class reveal, developers revealed that the game will feature a ranked PvP aspect. Keeping in track with Starcraft 2, the system plays a huge part in the PVP battles, facilitating matchmaking for teams of like-minded and like skilled adventurers.

Though the new features are enticing, they STILL have not set a release date for the game. After the initial announcement in June of 2008, you would think they would at least give us a window of expectancy. All the same, it will still be some time before we can get our hands on the game itself.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dead Space 2 Collector's Edition

Amazon let slip today the Collector's Edition of Dead Space 2. The edition comes complete with a rather large box, some sort of exclusive downloadable content, a copy of the Dead Space 2 soundtrack (Awesome inclusion!), and what appears to be an animation cell.

The main appeal of this set seems to be the replica of the Plasma Cutter weapon that Isaac uses to dismember his infected attackers. Now I get to pretend in real life!

The Plasma Cutter replica is exclusive to the Xbox 360 and PC, while the PlayStation 3 version comes with a downloadable rivet gun and the PS Move version of Dead Space: Extraction.

Dead Space 2 is set for a January 25th, 2011 release date.

Source: Amazon Lets Slip the Dead Space 2 Collectors Edition

Monday, October 11, 2010

Classic X-Men Arcade headed to XBL & PSN

If you ever entered a classic arcade, this was likely one of the games you wasted quarters on. Looks like for a few more quarters, you can now own this classic title on your console.

Announced at the NY Comic-Con, the Konami Arcade title "X-men" will be available on both Xbox Live and Playstation Network soon. Though no date is specified, a price point was: A simple 800 MS Points, or 10 bucks.

This port will feature drop-in online multiplayer supporting up to six players and variable difficulty levels. Considering the amount of time I spent on the machine as a kid, I'm sure I will spend countless more minutes on the title upon its release.

Source: Kotaku - Konami's X-Men Arcade Classic Headed for XBLA and PSN

Friday, October 8, 2010

World of Warcraft: 12 Million Strong

The success of World of Warcraft is undeniable. Recently they announced their new numbers for total subscribers, increasing from 11 million declared in 2008, to 12 million players with active accounts.

Having played through two of the expansions myself, I understand the appeal. It's a crazy thing to shut off a game, knowing that the world is still thriving even after you log out. Nothing beat the first feeling of becoming high-level and experiencing the game as it was meant to be. Getting your first mount, downing your first true boss, assisting in your first successful raid; it all gave such a sense of satisfaction.

I never even had to become the "Tier 7 Armor" Warrior to enjoy the game, as the true joy of the game was held in becoming part of a guild and just having fun. Sure everyone wanted new, better equipment; but just wiping over and over again on a dragon boss could even hold enjoyment. I never fought the Lich King, or completed the 40 man-raid of Molten Core, but I did the main thing I wanted: I had fun....oh, and also I tanked Onyxia, the biggest, most-badass dragon in the game.

With World of Warcraft: Cataclysm hitting this December, the number can only go up. New level cap, dungeons, and new races only promise new players. Warcraft has made its mark on not only MMOs, but PC gaming itself.

App Review: Cut the Rope

Cut The Rope

Developer: Chillingo LTD
Cost: $0.99
Release Date: October 5, 2010

Pros: Easy to pickup and play; levels range from simple to challenging; future updates promise more levels; insanely adorable monster motivates me to be successful; only a buck!

Cons: Cutting multiple ropes close together proves difficult, Can blaze through levels relatively quickly

Cut The Rope is a game that is exactly what an iPhone/iTouch game should be; easy to pickup with the addictive 'one more level' feel. The object itself is simple enough, you need to feed the monster his candy by cutting the rope and let gravity do the rest.

What starts out simple enough soon turns complicated, as placement of the monster in relation to the candy changes and new obstacles fall in your path. You will be required to time your cuts correctly, cut multiple ropes simultaneously, and even traverse farther as the monster appears off-screen.

There are 25 levels per World, and 4 worlds to start from at launch. Difficulty increases with each stage, and at the end you are given a score based on time and how many stars you collect. While the stars are there for completionists, they also act as sort of a guide to what order to cut the ropes so you aren't completely lost.

You'll find yourself in trial and error mode for the latter levels, but each victory proves more satisfying than the last and the level resets quickly to get you right back into the action.

While the game proves fun, once you finish it you are pretty much done. Completionists will have their hands full collecting all three stars on every level and unlocking all achievements, but there really isn't much else to do once you finish the four given worlds.

But hey, it's number 1 on the iTunes charts for a reason: It's only a buck. For a measly dollar, this is well worth the price.