Level Up! Release Date for Halo 4 Announced! (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Source: Mania.com

We’re leading things off this week with two huge news stories.  First we have an announce date for Halo 4, likely the last installment of the series on the current Xbox 360 platform.  And we have strong rumors that Apple might be looking to jump into the videogame wars by developing their own gaming console.  Two of the best fighting game franchises in history come together as the gang from Street Fighter tangles with the crew from Tekken in Street Fighter X Tekken down in the reviews section. 

Halo 4 launch date
Microsoft has unveiled November 6, Election Day, as the launch date for the next installment in its flagship Halo series.  Halo 4 marks a new beginning for the franchise, as it's the first entry being entirely made by a developer other than series creator Bungie. Microsoft internal studio 343 Industries is running the show now.

"We are beginning a new saga with Halo 4 and embarking on a journey that will encompass the next decade of Halo games and experiences," said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. "Millions of fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step back into the boots of Master Chief, and, with Halo 4 leading the charge, we're confident 2012 will be the most successful year in Xbox history."

Apple to develop the next videogame console?

The hottest rumor this week is that Apple is rumored to be take on Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo in home videogame wars by developing their own console along with developer Valve.  Some of the details that have been leaked from reliable sources is that the new gaming hardware will come with the long-rumored Apple HDTV. The system is said to work with innovative new input methods, including motion control technology similar to the Xbox 360 Kinect accessory.  This isn’t the first time that Apple has tried its hand at the console game.  In 1995 Apple and Bandai co-developed the Pippin, a game console designed to compete with the original PlayStation.  As you may have guessed since a lot of people have not heard of it, the Pippin was an overpriced, dismal failure.

Barry Sanders wins NCAA Football 13 cover vote

Former Detroit Lion and Oklahoma State legend Barry Sanders will join Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III on the cover of NCAA 13.  The greatest running back in NFL and NCAA history, Sanders was chosen by a fan vote, beating out fellow college legend Herschel Walker in the final round of voting.  In 1988, Sanders put together arguably the greatest rushing season in NCAA football history, smashing records by amassing 2,628 yards and an insane 39 touchdowns in a mere 11 games.  

Max Payne 3 comic series coming from Marvel 
A 3-part original Max Payne 3 comic series created in partnership between Rockstar Games and Marvel Custom Solutions will be released as a digital graphic novel and in limited print editions.  Written by Dan Houser and Remedy's Sam Lake, and featuring cover art from Greg Horn and pencils/inks by Fernando Blanco, this original Max Payne 3  comic series will delve into Max's troubled past - exploring the events that occurred in and around both Max Payne and Max Payne 2, leading up to Max Payne 3 while also shedding new light on Max's early years.  Look for Issue #1: "After the Fall" to be released in the next few weeks for free via the Rockstar Newswire, the Max Payne 3 Official Site and additional digital comic channels. 
Trials Evolution Available on Xbox Live 
Ubisoft and RedLynx announced that Trials Evolution, the follow-up to the widely popular Trials HD, is now available  on the Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points.  Trials Evolution builds on the successes of Trials HD, offering all-new single player tracks and mini games, real-time multiplayer both live and online, and extensive editing tools. In Trials Evolution, RedLynx has broken the series free of the enclosed warehouse into a huge outdoor world, with curved driving lines and stunning open vistas. 
Known for its challenging courses and crashes, Trials Evolution now brings the series ‘survival of the fastest’ mentality to the multiplayer scene allowing gamers to race through courses with three of their friends on the couch or via Xbox LIVE. Trials Evolution also features a deep track editor – the same tools used by the developers – which allows gamers to create custom tracks or explore brand-new gameplay opportunities. 

House, M.D. Critical Cases now on Facebook 
Ubisoft announced House, M.D.: Critical Cases is now available on Facebook. Based upon the hit television show, HOUSE, the game allows fans to join House and his team at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital to investigate and uncover medical mysteries. Working alongside their favorite characters from the show and their Facebook friends, players race against the clock to diagnose and cure the most critical cases.  House, M.D.: Critical Cases is licensed through Universal Partnerships & Licensing on behalf of NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group. 
Interact with Characters from the Show 
Consult with House and his team on the most mysterious cases by running lab tests, investigating symptoms and examining environmental causes to diagnose patients.  
Manage Your Own Hospital 
Run your own Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital by screening clinic patients, managing lab resources and overseeing pharmacy supplies. 
Work Alongside Your Facebook Friends 
Hire friends to help out and perform diagnostic tests, treat referrals and revive crashed patients to save as many lives as possible.  
Exclusive to Facebook 
House, M.D.: Critical Cases is specifically designed for social gamers. It’s easy to pick up and play, plus it’s absolutely free. 
Prototype 2 (Activision) Rated M  Xbox 360, PS3, PC 

You are Sgt. James Heller, a soldier left to die, distraught husband to a deceased wife and father to a dead son. You are infected. There is one thing left to do — hunt down and kill Alex Mercer.  Become the ultimate shape-shifting weapon in Prototype 2. Cut through the wastelands of post-viral New York Zero and build a genetic arsenal of all-new biological weapons and abilities on your quest to murder your maker and the devil himself, Alex Mercer. Witness building-size infected beasts ambush entire city streets. Glide and parkour across the cityscape. Take on swarms of highly trained Blackwatch soldiers. Step into the role of Sgt. James Heller, and hunt, kill and become anybody who stands in your way to absorb memories and gain new abilities. Wield the unbelievable Tendril power that allows you to lift and tear apart cars and military vehicles, ensnare powerful infected beasts and shred groups of enemies to pieces. Track down your enemies by emitting sonar pulses from your body. Choose from a wide variety of new Mutation perks, including better locomotion abilities, sharper claws and enhanced disguise abilities, to build and customize the ultimate Prototype. The virus has left the city in ruins, but it's not going to stop you from achieving your goal. Unleash the true power of infection raging within you and kill Alex Mercer. 

Street Figther X Tekken (Capcom) Rated T  PS3, Xbox 360

Take two of the most popular and enduring fighting game series’ in videogame history and combine them together and you get Street Fighter X Tekken.  But is this a dream match-up or a match made in Hell?  Tekken and Street Fighter are both great fighting series but both quite different in their tone and control schemes.  On top of that Street Fighter takes place in a 2D world while Tekken is a 3D environment.  Tricky issues to address to be sure but Capcom, in general has done a fantastic job at melding these two systems together for a diverse and deep game.  So here’s the skinny…this game will be played in Capcom’s 2D world…but Namco is also developing Tekken X Street Fighter which will be played in Tekken’s 3D setting, so you will literally get the best of both worlds. 

  As in other Capcom cross-over games like Capcom Vs. Marvel, you pick two fighters per side from each roster.  Both sets of characters are controlled using the Street Fighter 6-button system, however the Tekken characters will be able to perform Tekken style combos using the primary four buttons in a similar fashion to the Tekken 4-button system.  Again, the best of both worlds! These fighters can be switched out normally, or during certain combos.  Players can team up cooperatively and fight on the same team which means up to four players can take part in a fight. However, when one fighter on a team is knocked out, that team loses the round, regardless of how much health the remaining fighter has. 
The control mechanics are simply superb and simply too exhaustive to mention in full.  Besides the repertoire of standard attacks you’ll enjoy an incredible arsenal of combos, juggles that allow you to batter an opponent, tag in your teammate, and continue the combo, as well as a couple of new play mechanics Gem and Pandora.  In Gem play you can equip up to three gems which provide different stat boosts depending on the type of gem. Six varieties of gems exist: attack, defense, speed, vitality, assist, and Cross Gauge. Each gem and its effects are based on their specific color, and will activate as the players fulfill certain conditions during battle.  Some experienced players may not like the Gem system but for less skilled players it’s a good way to achieve some balance and competitiveness. 
Pandora is sort of a desperation short term boost which can give you a chance to win a match.  When one of your players is low on health you can sacrifice him to activate the Pandora Mode, which gives the remaining fighter increased strength and an infinite Cross Gauge.  The Cross Gauge allows the player to perform various special attacks but you have only a short time to finish off your opponent. 
There’s plenty of different modes to keep your interest from a tutorial mode that takes you through the game’s basic control mechanics; Trial mode which features 20 character-specific trials; Mission mode where you play a character against the AI in various locales and conditions.  There’s also your standard Arcade mode and a nicely designed practice mode.  And of course there is an online mode as well that has been a bit spotty in terms of stability but nothing too terribly aggravating. 
The game features a roster of over 40 fighters including favorites like Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile, and Cammy on the Street Fighter side and Kazuya, Nina, Asuka, Kuma, and Heihachi on the Tekken side.  The roster also features mascots and extras like Megaman, Pacman, and Cole from the infamous series.  In addition, several other fighters are available through DLC bringing the PS3 version roster up to a total of 55 playable characters. 
While I’m not a huge fan of fighting games I have to say Street Fighter X Tekken truly surprised me.  Capcom didn’t just half-ass this one out figuring they had two built-in fan bases that would buy it regardless.  They did a great job of trying to appeal to fans of both games and came up with a full-fledged hybrid.  Grade A-


Tim Janson is a columnist and reviewer for Mania Entertainment.  He writes Level Up, the weekly look at videogames and the horror dedicated column, Tuesday Terrors.  Tim has written for Fangoria, Newsarama, City Slab Magazine, Twitch Film, and Cinefantastique.  He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA).  Be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.