Level Up! We Review Twisted Metal! (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Thursday, March 01, 2012


I’ve had next week circled on my calendar for months…It’s Mass Effect 3 Week and all is well with the universe. The final entry in the Mass Effect trilogy has a hell of a lot to live up to but I believe BioWare is up to the challenge and I can’t wait to play it. To whet your appetites. We’ve got an extended trailer of the one that premiered last week during The Walking Dead so head below to check that out.
Also on tap next week, the surest sign that Spring is around the corner, we have this year’s two MLB games coming out MLB 2K12 and MLB 2012 The Show. Which game will dominate the diamond this year? Well I’m going to give the slight head start to MLB 2K 12 for the simple reason that they have the best pitcher in Baseball on the cover, Justin Verlander! While MLB 2012 The Show counters with a crappy Red Sox player…Ha!      
New Trailer for Konami’s Blades of Time
Konami has released a new trailer for Blades of Time, an action epic due for release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on March 6th. Blades of Time is centered around the gorgeous treasure hunter Ayumi, who finds herself under siege in the hostile fantasy realm of Dragonland, where demonic creatures fueled by Chaos magic wreak havoc. The video introduces Blades of Time's lush landscapes and Ayumi's deadly beauty, from her quick-slashing dual-katana attacks, handiness with firearms, her game-changing ability to rewind time, and more. The new trailer showcases Ayumi in elegant melee and ranged combat, in some instances using Time Rewind to clone herself into a small army to fight her monstrous adversaries.

Ghost Recon Online "Recon Class Overview" Trailer
From Ubisoft this week we have a new trailer for Ghost Recon Online.  This video features an overview of the Recon Class.  Check it out below!

Konami releases second DLC pack for NeverDead
Konami announced that the NeverDead Expansion Pack Volume 2 is now available for download for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. In Volume 2, players can combat sinister new hazards and grueling challenges while trying to keep their limbs. Fans can also enhance their online playing experience with a new playable character, National Anti-Demon Agency (NADA) Chief Sullivan, three new challenges within the expanded Sewers level, and two additional online costumes for Bryce Boltzmann.
Highlights of the NeverDead Expansion Pack Volume 2 include:
New Character: There is a new character available for the online mode, Chief Sullivan of NADA. Utilize his leadership and level-headed nature while trying to keep his body from being torn limb-from-limb.
Three New Gameplay Challenges - Revisit an expanded Sewers level with 3 all-new challenges:
Two Additional Character Costumes: Dress Bryce up in these new costumes before going back into the online fray. 
2K Sports Announces Major League Baseball 2K12 RV Tour
2K Sports today announced the return of the Major League Baseball 2K12 RV tour, a coast-to-coast mobile experience featuring special giveaways, batting cages and hands-on play time with Major League Baseball 2K12. The cross-country tour brings the excitement of authentic baseball action to fans this spring and summer with a custom-designed Major League Baseball 2K12 recreation vehicle. The mobile demo vehicle will be rigged with portable video game gear for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Traveling to various Arizona Spring Training hotspots, including Hohokam Park in Mesa and Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe , as well as big league ballparks, such as Comerica Park in Detroit , Citi Field in New York and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles , 2K Sports will slide into more than 25 cities in total.
2K Sports will begin the tour on March 9, 2012 in Surprise, Arizona , and visit Cactus League ballparks throughout the month of March. Following the start of the regular season, the tour kicks into full gear with events through June. Some of the highlights include stops at Angel Stadium of Anaheim , U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago , and two special events at the MLB FanCave in New York City . The tour concludes with a booth at MLB All-Star FanFest in Kansas City .
Fans at tour stops will have the opportunity to practice their in-game pitching skills for the $1 Million Perfect Game Challenge, which returns for the third successive year beginning on MLB Opening Day, April 4th. Eight gamers who pitch perfect games on Xbox 360 or PlayStation®3 prior to May 1 will be eligible to participate in a live tournament for the grand prize of $1 million. Full rules and details can be found at www.2ksports.com/perfectclub
 The Major League Baseball 2K12 tour dates** are below. Additional events will be added at a later date, so fans should visit www.2ksports.com/mlb2k12/tour for the latest schedule.
Extended Mass Effect 3 trailer!
Hopefully you all saw the premiere of the new Mass Effect 3 trailer during last week’s episode of The Walking Dead on AMC.  If that didn’t get you salivating for the game, check out the extended trailer below for this almost certain Game of the Year candidate!

First DLC coming for Kingdoms of Amalur!
The quest for glory continues in Amalur! EA, 38 Studios, and Big Huge Games unveiled The Legend of Dead Kel, the first downloadable content (DLC) pack for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, the critically acclaimed open-world action role-playing game. Featuring a mysterious tale of intrigue, danger and dark magic on the island of Gallows End , players will encounter shadowy characters and new enemies, and will experience a host of new side quests, treacherous battles and exciting new challenges. The Legend of Dead Kel gives players access to Gallows End, a gigantic new continent to explore where players claim ownership of a vast personal estate and experience new weapons, Twists of Fate and other perks against new enemies. The Legend of Dead Kel will be available starting on March 20, 2012 on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Origin and Steam.
The Legend of Dead Kel DLC and the story of Gallows End will feature:
An Epic New Questline – The Legend of Dead Kel is only part of the story of Gallows End. It intertwines with numerous side quests, multiple dungeons to explore and a colorful cast of characters
New Enemies, Dungeons, Items – Multiple new enemies and enemy variants, a new dungeon type: Dverga Fastings, three new Twists of Fate, eight new armor sets, eight new shields and 18 new unique weapons
The Ultimate Player Housing – Gravehal Keep is more than just player housing, it's a massive estate with multiple buildings and a full retinue of retainers, each with their own back stories, side quests, perks and quirks
Tons more to Explore – The Legend of Dead Kel DLC adds in more than 15% of additional land to traverse and explore in the already massively expansive world that is Amalur
Konami Announces Zone of Enders HD collection
Konami announced the upcoming Zone of the Enders HD Collection, coming this Fall. Zone of the Enders HD Collection will feature the two main Zone of the Enders games in a special, fully remastered series. The collection will be playable for the PlayStation 3 system and the Xbox 360.
Developed by Kojima Productions, Zone of the Enders HD Collection will include fan favorites Zone of the Enders and its sequel Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. This will be the first time the games are featured on platforms other than the PlayStation 2 system.
"We are looking forward to bringing the legendary Zone of the Enders series to fans old and new in a high definition format with the Zone of Enders HD Collection," said Tomoyuki Tsuboi, President of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
The essential Zone of the Enders series features the engrossing storytelling of Hideo Kojima, paired with thrilling robot fights in a futuristic interplanetary setting. Players control fast and powerful mechs (robots) known as Orbital Frames to blast their enemies into oblivion.
Mass Effect 3 (Electronic Arts) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Mass Effect 3 is a Role-playing Game (RPG) / Third-Person Shooter hybrid set in a Science Fiction universe. Mass Effect 3 is the third game in the popular Mass Effect series, and is rumored to be the final installment. In it players continue the adventures of Commander Shepard utilizing extreme character customization which is the hallmark feature of the series. Additional features include: the ability to import decisions from both of the previous games into the new game, ownership/play of previous games not required, customizable weapons, improved mobility and melee combat, many returning characters (if they were not killed off in previous imported games), an improved cover system that allows for more action, compatibility with the Kinect Sensor for Xbox 360 and more.
Not everyone will survive. An ancient alien race, known only as "Reapers," has launched an all-out invasion leaving nothing but a trail of destruction in their wake. Earth has been taken, the galaxy is on the verge of total annihilation, and you are the only one who can stop them. The price of failure is extinction. You are Commander Shepard, a character that you can forge in your own image. You determine how events will play out, which planets to explore, and whom to form alliances with as you rally a force to eliminate the Reaper threat once and for all. How you wage this war is completely up to you: go into combat with guns blazing or use cover to plan a more tactical assault. Utilize your squad to full effect or take a lone wolf approach. Rain death from a distance or go toe-to-toe with enemies using devastating melee attacks. Mass Effect 3 will react to each decision you make as you play through a truly unique experience of your own creation.
MLB 12 The Show (Sony) Rated E PS3 , PSVita
MLB 12 The Show is a PlayStation-exclusive baseball simulation game that combines the outstanding graphics quality and features that has made it the top rated Sports video game franchise for four years running. The PlayStation 3 version of the game features optional full PlayStation Move control support, four-player multiplayer support online and offline, the online Diamond Dynasty mode, cross-platform saves with the PS Vita version of the game and an extensive roster of realistically portrayed MLB players.
MLB 12 The Show is the 2012 release in a franchise has been the highest rated sports video game for 4 years running. The Show enables consumers to immerse themselves in exhilarating baseball moments by delivering true-to-life gameplay, authentic franchise and season modes, and incredible detail not found in any other sports game. MLB 12 The Show builds on what has been delivered in previous franchise releases adding compelling features that bring unparalleled innovation and polish to the sports genre. Just a few of these new features are full Move controller support in all aspects of the game, expanded multiplayer support online and cross compatibility with the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
MLB 2K 12 (2K Sports) Rated E  PS3 , Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PSP, PC, PS2
MLB 2K12 is simulation baseball video game, and the longest-running Major League Baseball game available. MLB 2K12 continues the evolution of the MLB 2K game franchise with a variety of features designed to please both longtime and new fans of the series. Features include: the six-month long MLB Today Season Mode, a dynamic AI system that adapts to your tendencies, a new throw meter, and improved My Player Mode, new soundtracks to play to and multiplayer support.
The longest running Major League Baseball franchise returns to the virtual diamond with MLB 2K12 from 2K Sports. Featuring advanced pitching and hitting controls, detailed player tendencies and scouting reports, and immersive game modes for any level of fan, MLB 2K12 is the only game you'll need this season.
Key Game Features
MLB Today Season Mode - For the first time ever, play along with the real-life MLB season as it unfolds. Take charge of your favorite team and see how you stack up against the rest of the league over the course of a six month-long season.
Dynamic Tendency System - Just as in real-life, opposing pitchers and hitters will learn your tendencies from one at-bat to the next, challenging you to mix up your approach on both sides of the plate as each game unfolds.
New Throw Meter - A revamped throwing system presents a classic risk vs. reward situation every time you make a play. Will you queue up throws before fielding the ball to save time, or take a moment to set your feet for better accuracy?
Improved My Player Mode - Want to be the next All-Star slugger or ace starter? All-new player types let you decide your path to the Majors. Goals, expectations, ratings and progression are all customized by position and player type.
Soundtrack - Tracks handpicked by SPIN magazine, featuring Cool Kids, Skrillex, The Joy Formidable, Grouplove, My Morning Jacket and more.
Unit 13 (Sony) Rated T PSVita
Jump into the action with Unit 13 for PlayStation Vita and conquer 36 tactical missions and 9 high value target battles as you help take down global terror networks and earn your place in the military elite. With the precision of the PlayStation Vita systems’s dual analog sticks and unique touch interface, Unit 13 is the perfect on-the-go action shooter. Wi-Fi connectivity adds fast 2-player co-op action, and 3G compatibility keeps you connected for instant social updates and new daily mission challenges.
Blades of Time (Konami) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360
Play as the gorgeous gunsword-wielding treasure hunter Ayumi as she carves a path of destruction through a mysterious and dangerous island. While rich with bounty, the island is also caught in the throes of Chaos magic. Ayumi soon discovers that it is also the home of thousands of long-held secrets, including special powers and abilities that she can gain for herself. Using everything she can, she must find a way to defeat armies of menacing villains and a multitude of treacherous traps in order to break free of the possessed island's grasp. With a host of colorful characters, eye-popping visual appeal, tons of treasure and a huge variety of combat skills to master, Blades of Time will satisfy gamers' hunger for an entertaining yet deep action game that even gamers new to the hack-and-slash genre will enjoy.
Twisted Metal (Sony) PS3
Twisted metal makes its triumphant return to consoles bringing its audacious vehicle combat to the PlayStation 3.  As one of the most popular titles on the PlayStation and PS2, it was one of the major reasons to buy those earlier PS systems. This game has been largely shrouded in secrecy for several years.  It was originally being developed with a post-apocalyptic setting which was later scrapped and its October 2011 release was pushed back to 2012.  So now it is here…and I will answer the question on whether it was worth the wait.
The major difference between Twisted Metal 2012 and its earlier incarnations is that there are only four playable characters, Sweet Tooth, Dollface, Mr. Grimm, and The Preacher, with The Preacher only being playable in multiplayer mode.  The characters are representatives of a faction: Sweet Tooth (The Clowns), Dollface (The Dolls), Mr. Grimm (The Skulls) and the Preacher (The Holy Men). They call come complete with henchmen who look similar to them. Each character will have a unique storyline with three different endings depending on what happened in the game. However, characters are no longer tied to a vehicle.  So that means that Sweet Tooth can use his iconic ice cream truck or any other vehicle that has been unlocked so far.  Once again the enigmatic Calypso is the host of this duel to the death tournament and vying for the chance to win a wish that Calypso grants.
Choose which gang you want to play as, then your vehicle, and it’s off to war in the arena.  NOW STOP!  While TM 2012 offers more in terms of story elements with cinematic cut scenes interspersed with the gameplay, the fact that you only have these three characters and factions to play as takes away from some of the sheer diversity of earlier games that featured many unique drivers.  So what Developer Eat Sleep Play has done essentially is enriched three characters at the expense of all the others and I’m not sure it’s a change for the better.  The fact that you can choose any vehicle is nice, but it also means that symbiotic connection between driver and vehicle is no longer there.  It’s also sort of weird seeing Sweet Tooth operate Axel’s vehicle consisting of just two giant wheels.
Among the new vehicles found in the game are Reaper (a motorcycle), Roadboat (a classic old big boat Cadillac), Death Warrant (Ford Mustang), Vermin (a rodent catcher van), Meat Wagon (a medical Car), and Talon (a helicopter).  The various power-ups of previous installments return like the fire-and-forget homing missles, landmines, shield, and freeze blast.  The controls themselves are not all that different and TM vets will have no problem grabbing a controller and jumping right into the action.  Vehicle operation is very tight and responsive and all the mayhem of battle’s past will come flooding back. Level/arena design is inconsistent and seem to fall into the very good (Skyline and Metro City ) or the very bad (Watkyn’s Harbor) with not a lot of middle ground.  While most of the buildings and landscapes can be destroyed there’s not that sense of epic scale destruction that you saw in TM1 & 2 and TM: Black.
The campaign is relatively short and can be finished in a handful of hours.  The campaign can be taken on via split screen with another player although there is co actual online co-op mode.  Speaking of online, this is where Twisted Metal truly earns its wings…err….wheels.  Online features a well-rounded variety of chaotic mode types including Death Match, Team Death Match, Last Man Standing as well as a team version of the same, and Hunted and Team Hunted, in which everyone's out to kill a designated player, and killing that player means you become the next target.  Finally there is Nuke mode.  This is another team game in which each faction has a giant metal statue that is being held in the air by a helicopter, which the opposing team must try to destroy. In order to destroy these statues, the player must abduct the enemy team's leader, then sacrifice the leader to a missile launcher that will, in turn, launch a nuclear missile.
While Twisted Metal might not quite live up to the standard of its earlier games in terms of the campaign mode, the fun and addictive multiplayer more than makes up for this shortcoming. Grade B

Shank 2 (Electronic Arts) PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Available on the PlayStation network, Xbox Live or for download on the PC, Shank 2 is the side scrolling beat ‘em up sequel to the 2010 game. Featuring colorful, comic book style animated graphics, Shank 2 rolls out more violent and bloody action than a lot of full-bodied retail games. The sequel doesn’t deviate much from the path of the first game, taking it’s successful combat and combo-rich brawling system and basically fining tuning it and amping up the carnage. 
Shank is an ex-mob hitman who this go round is out to rescue a friend who has been kidnapped by a ruthless dictator. Shank has to ground and pound his way through industrial complexes, jungles, and rickety villages, taking out waves of henchman armed with a variety of weapons including machetes, firearms, throwing knives, baseball bats, butcher knives, chainsaws, grenades and the odd nearby piece of refuse like old tires and boxes. The colorful and well-styled animated sprites light up the screen in blood-splattered glory as Shank severs limbs, hits switches to crush baddies under huge containers, tosses enemies into pits of fire and into giant grinding wheels for particularly gory kills.
Tying it all together is a simple yet deadly effective combat system with light and heavy attacks that produces devastating combos numbering into the dozens of hits. Flicking the right analog stick allows Shank to evade attacks, which becomes a necessity when facing multiple goliath brutes who like to roll toward you like human boulders. While it might seem as if Shank 2 is strictly a button masher…and it essentially is…it still requires some strategy, particular when you get to some of the bigger fights and boss battles. You’ll need to find just the right tactics to defeat the level which will often call for use of multiple types of attacks and defensive maneuvers. One hint is to make sure you take advantage of everything you can in the level, they are there for a reason. Attack big enemies when they are close to pits and grinding wheels for easy instant kills but be careful because they can kill you instantly as well. And keep an eye out for bottles of brew, those are your health rejuvenators.
One change not necessarily for the better is that you can no longer change your weapon loadout in the middle of the game. You now have to wait until you die or complete a level but this is a minor annoyance. Often you’ll find weapon pickups that will allow you to complete even the toughest levels. The platforming aspect has been scaled back as well. There’s less jumping/sliding/grappling than the first game in favor of more straight-ahead, yet bone-crunching brawling and maiming. I think you’ll agree it’s a fair trade off.
In addition to the single player only campaign game, Shank 2 also features a two-player survival mode where you and a friend have to essentially play castle defense against 30 waves of enemies, setting traps and beating the snot out of them. Shank 2 also features the many wonderful Shankism one-liners that is a hallmark although I could have used a few less references to what they wanted to do with my anus.
Shank 2 is a glorious beat ‘em up with dazzling graphics and a sadistically wild combat system. Available on the PlayStation Network or Origin for $9.99 or on X Box Live for 800 points. 
Grade B+