Sunday, April 29, 2012

May Gaming Releases - That November Feeling...

Highlighted Release

Diablo 3
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard
Release Date: May 15th, 2012

It has been a total of twelve years since the initial release of Diablo 2, which has sense become a staple in online RPGs. After being teased and hinted for a long time coming, Diablo 3 finally has a solid release date. The recent beta has generated plenty of interest, as fans return to choose from one of five classes to delve back into the classic dungeon crawling experience. Easy to pick up and harder to put down, this will be one game that should be on everyone's radar.

May 1st

May 8th

May 15th

May 23rd

Monday, April 23, 2012

Arkham City GotY Edition

Fans who have been waiting for their coveted Game of the Year edition for Batman: Arkham City can breathe a sigh of relief. The game will feature all the previous DLC; including character downloads, alternate costumes, and even the new "Harley Quinn's Revenge" story based DLC. Pick up your copy on May 29th.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Halo 4 in November

Halo 4 has gotten an official release date of November 6th. Coincidentally this is also election day, so you can go vote and defend the galaxy all in one fail swoop

This will begin "The Reclaimer Trilogy" developed by 343 industries, the Microsoft company spawned after retaining rights to Halo upon Bungie's departure.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kinect Star Wars Review - Bantha Poodoo

Score: 6.25 / 10
Kinect Star Wars

Xbox 360 Kinect
Developer: Terminal Reality
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012

  • Multiple game modes offer different styles of gameplay
  • Star Wars license grants authentic sound
  • Hop in, hop out co-operative multiplayer for all features
  • Plenty of unlocks and varying difficulties
  • Technical issues hold the Jedi mode back from any real greatness
  • Rough textures and little visual appeal
  • General control for each mode allows little precision
  • Jedi Destiny gameplay soon grows stale after the first planet
When motion control gaming took the world by storm, fans cried out for one thing; motion controlled lightsabers. Star Wars fans have been pretending to swing lightsabers for a long time, so adding a motion control game to reinforce that action was a no-brainer. Microsoft unveiled Kinect Star Wars at E3 to mixed response, promising to address the concerns before release. The result is the potential fun that could be had only managing to occasionally peek out through the technical issues.

That Menacing Phantom...

Kinect Star Wars features various modes with the overarching story of investigating the Jedi records, but the Jedi Destiny mode acts as the most character driven option. You assume the role of a Jedi Padawan on their way to Kashyyk for training, right in the middle of a Trandoshian invasion. You set off to discover the reason for the invasion and assist your master in quelling the threat in your quest to become a Jedi Knight.

Other modes have their own story, whether it's the rancor that escapes and goes on a rampage or the unlikely janitor that rises to become a podracing professional. While the latter modes need no real explanation, the Jedi Destiny mode has an unexpectedly bland story for a campaign. Situations arise that are plucked straight from the movies and no attempt at producing anything unique is made. Considering this is the Star Wars franchise with a huge universe of lore, the story only manages to scratch the surface of potential.

Visually, Kinect Star Wars feels...lacking. Rough background textures adorn most of the environments and character models fail to impress up close. These distractions can hold back the greater cinematic moments, especially since the animation is the most appealing visual aspect. The Star Wars license is best used in providing a familiar soundtrack and authentic sounds of blaster fire and a lightsaber's hum. Jennifer Hale even returns to voice her third Jedi Master, breathing a small amount of life into the dead husk that is the story.

This is my Lightsaber, There are Many Like It...

There are five total modes to choose from in Kinect Star Wars, with Jedi Destiny acting as the main campaign;

Jedi Destiny puts you behind a Jedi Padawan, using one hand to swing your lightsaber and the other to use the Force. You can also put one foot forward to close distance between you and your enemy and even jump to flip over them. The combat soon throws droidekas and dueling droids your way, which require more than a simple arm swing to overcome.

There are attempts to mix up these sequences with speeder bike chases and one on one duels. The duels usually involve trading off between blocking and attacking and do little more than that. There is even a Duel of Fates mode to hone your craft in dueling the tougher generals, working your way up to face off against the dark lord himself.

Though the mode has the right idea, the game fails to really capture your attention. The pacing wears thin after the first planet, and hacking through hallway after hallway loses appeal fast. You have no ability to target specific enemies, and the droideka lighting you up in the distance will have to get in line behind the measly battle droid that is a few steps away. The attempt to vary the gameplay with starship sequences and speeder bike chases outstay their welcome, and the faulty tracking oftentimes mistakes movements for dodging or fails to acknowledge your intentions altogether.

Vivacious Variety

The other three modes prove more entertaining than the base Jedi Destiny campaign:

Podracing puts you behind the "wheel" of your favorite vehicle. Pulling back with your right hand turns right, and pulling back with your left hand turns left. Pulling both hands back and pushing forward will boost, and raising your left or right hand will use an item from your loadout. The mode holds up well enough with six different tracks and multiple racers to choose from, but turning on a dime and careful handling are difficult to get the hang of for the tougher tracks.

Galactic Dance has you pitted against the franchises most notorious a dance off. Akin to Dance Central, you perform the moves listed on the flashcards and chain together combos for a high score. There is no practice mode and you are thrown right into the mix with little explanation. The game has trouble with tracking once again, but works well for the most part with multiple difficulties. The mode alone is worth playing just to see the emperor dancing to Deadmau5.

Rancor Rampage has you assume the role of a rancor by hopping, charging, and stomping your way through one of four planets. A challenge mode will require you to perform specific actions for a boost in points, and fury mode will simply ask for you to survive the waves of enemies attempting to stop your tirade. Oddly enough, this proves to be the most enjoyable mode to play as trampling through buildings and hearing the one-liners of flying civilians never disappoint, and the leveling system will keep you coming back. Controlling the rancor's movement can prove difficult, as you must either charge or slowly stomp your way to intended targets.

Buddy System

In all of the aforementioned modes, a co-operative option is available at any time. The hop-in, hop-out co-op is a nice touch and going through the game with a friend makes for a much better experience than flying solo. The benefit of having a second lightsaber to hack away at droids or fellow Rancor to assist in  completing challenge objectives outshines the lacking AI or lonely experience. If you want to experience Kinect Star Wars at its best, it's with a friend.

Each mode has a series a of unlocks or rewards for completing certain tasks, and provides incentive for completing everything offered. These usually involve completing each mode on a tougher difficulty or performing a specific task to unlock new characters or different difficulties. Placing first in a race can unlock a new podracer or completing a dance with five stars can unlock a new character. The varying objectives can be a chore to accomplish, and the reward is usually not worth the time invested.

Despite this attempt, Kinect Star Wars is much more of a party game than an actual solo experience. In most cases death is treated too lenient, oftentimes popping you right back into place for another run. It makes the game seem much simpler than it should be, as it rarely forces you to retrace your path from a checkpoint. Each mode will only last you a few hours before it's all said and done...or if you collapse from exhaustion.


Kinect Star Wars fails to really capture what was desired. Technical issues with the Kinect and an overall uninspiring campaign drag the game below expectations. Though the less focused modes end up being the most entertaining, they won't hold your attention long. Frustrating platforming, unresponsive controls, and repetitive battles make Kinect Star Wars one of those titles where glimpses of enjoyment get snuffed out for frustrating moments. It's not a completely lost experience, but those looking for their pivotal Jedi experience will fall victim to a Jedi Mind trick...

SWtOR Patch 1.2 is Live!

Starting today, the new features of the Old Republic will be available. This includes integration of the new Jedi Legacy unlocks, a new UI customization, sharper textures, and much more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dragons, and Wizards, and Spells. Oh, My!

It's easy to get sucked into an expansive RPG. An entire world is at your fingertips, and the customization offered promises a unique adventure for you to shape your character as you see fit. These 40+ hour titles can be hard to put down, but the demand of other games will usually have me drop an RPG shy of fully completing it.

Now that things have started to slow down a bit, I found the time to dive right back into Skyrim. I returned to fixed glitches, dragons that no longer flew in reverse, and brand spanking new kill cams to enjoy. I also realized something...

I have no idea where I am.

Here was this two-handed warrior I had invested so much time in by delving into treacherous caves, slaying vicious dragons, and making a name for myself in a local town; and now I was staring at a complete stranger. My armor is coated in a sheen of some magical substance I am unaware of, my weapon is glowing red and boosting some stat I cannot remember, and why did I have a cloth helmet on with heavy boots?

It is the problem I have with every RPG I pick up. If I fail to completely play through and invest time from start to finish, I return to a pile of confusion. The long list of quests, the pages of abilities, and the numerous skills in each class tree can be a lot to reabsorb. Each character acts like a long lost friend that I bump into, struggling to remember their name or how they remember me so well...

This is worsened in MMOs. I cannot remember what planet my poor Republic Smuggler has been left on in Old Republic, but I'm sure he is at some Cantina getting drunk and recounting tales of past glory to passing Jedi. Reassuming a taxing role like a healer is even worse, as the burden of remembering all the tactics for each boss and rotation of heals can take a bit of homework. This is further complicated by the numerous patches that have the potential to nerf or shuffle abilities completely.

It may be time consuming, but the completionist in me prefers to start from scratch. It's a lot of work and I'm sure I have seen the intro half a dozen times, but at least I have an inkling as to what is going on. Then once I become reacquainted I can usually get back to where I was...

Jumping from game to game, they all start to blur together into one, cohesive blob of spells and weaponry that I have to familiarize myself with to enjoy the game. I don't mind starting over, as most of my newer playthroughs fair better than the original once things start to click. I just feel sympathy for the poor abandoned warrior that I leave in a tavern, twiddling his thumbs, wondering if I am seeing other heroes...

Not to mention all that inventory is a pain to clean: