Level Up! Get Ready For Some Payne (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Source: Mania.com

One of the big stories is this week is the absolutely miserable first quarter for the videogame industry that has now continued into the start of the second quarter.  So what’s your take?  Is it the economy?  Is it the lack of good new games?  Tell me why you are not buying new games so far in 2012.



First DLC announced for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier


Ubisoft announced the first Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier DLC package, the Arctic Strike Map Pack.  From the streets of Moscow to the far reaches of the Arctic, this all-new downloadable content pack extends your Ghost Recon Future Soldier experience with new multiplayer maps, a new multiplayer mode, a new Guerrilla Mode co-op map, and six additional weapons to give you the supreme edge over your enemies.  Arctic Strike will be available for purchase for 800 Microsoft points on Xbox Live or $9.99 on the PlayStation Network.  It can be pre-ordered at GameStop and Best Buy and will be available July 3, 2012.
Max Payne 3 Launch Trailer

Max Payne 3 hit stores this week and we’ve got the official launch trailer for you to check out.  The launch trailer harks back to Max's tragic past as he reflects on the events that brought him from the remains of his life in New York to his lowest point yet: caught up in circumstances far beyond his control, out of his depth and on the edge in the darkest heart of Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Square Enix Announces Final DLC for Final Fantasy XIII-2

Square Enix announced that the final set of downloadable content (DLC) for FINAL FANTASY XIII-2  is now available. These include two new episodes, "Snow's Story: Perpetual Battlefield" and "Lightning's Story: Requiem of the Goddess," along with White and Black Mage outfits and "A Wondrous Wardrobe," which includes 16 different costumes for Mog, the moogle.


Snow is engaged in battles at the Coliseum after being separated from his fiancée, Serah. The episode also features a battle against the "Arbiter of Time," who has been watching events unfold at the Coliseum. Snow should pose a difficult challenge to players and will allow them to end the Coliseum battles on a high note, and ultimately unlock Snow as a party member.


This DLC reveals the arduous battle between Lightning and Caius not shown in the main game. Players will be able to adjust the difficulty level and play as Lightning, who uses special abilities available only in this episode. Players will also be able to unlock the FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 version of Lightning as a party member. Because the episode includes important information relating to the overall storyline of FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, players are encouraged to complete the game prior to playing through this new content. 


Pre-order exclusives for The Amazing Spider-Man Game


Activision announced some amazing pre-order exclusives for fans that reserve an early copy of The Amazing Spider-Man video game in North America.  Planned to launch June 26th, the game brings Spidey back to the thrill of free-roaming through Manhattan in an original epilogue story to Sony Picture Entertainment's upcoming feature film.  The pre-order exclusives for The Amazing Spider-Man video game are available today and include the Rhino Challenge from GameStop and a special mission featuring a fully playable Stan Lee from Amazon.com.


Pre-order Now from GameStop - The Rhino Challenge  - Take control of the massive, genetically engineered villain RHINO and rampage around Manhattan in an exclusive gameplay challenge of pure destruction!  As Rhino, players will be able to unleash his formidable powers to destroy anything and everything that gets in his way in a timed event full of speed, combo streaks, and of course, a ton of things to break!  Unlockable for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 system ONLY.  


Pre-order Now from Amazon.com - Play as Stan Lee for the First Time Ever - All the rumors can officially be put to rest - for the first time ever, fans will be able to play...STAN...LEE as himself in The Amazing Spider-Man.  Players will take on the role of Stan "The Man" Lee in his own special mission across Manhattan, borrowing abilities from his old pal Spider-Man as they help Stan collect pages of his latest script in a spectacular race around Manhattan.  Stan's mission is punctuated with his witty banter that fans have come to know and love, and a special surprise waits for them at the end of the mission - after all, it is Spider-Man's 50th anniversary this year! Unlockable for the Xbox 360 PlayStation 3 system ONLY. 


Game Sales continue to sag 


Wow could the videogame industry use its version of The Avengers or what?  April Video game software sales were down a disastrous 42 percent with hardware sales down 32 percent versus last year.  Some game publishers are blaming the early Easter we had in 2012 causing most Easter-related purchases to fall into March this year, whereas last year, Easter fell late in April causing most sales to fall in that month.  I think a more likely excuse is that there have been a lot less games produced and a lot less good ones. 


Sony earnings post record low 


In hand with the above story is this one that reports that the electronics giant reported a record loss for the 2011 fiscal year of $5.7 billion. More than half of that loss -- $3.2 billion -- came in the fourth quarter.  The PlayStation division lost a hefty $2.8 billion last year, with all hardware systems losing ground (a natural occurrence late in the console generation). Sony sold 13.9 million PlayStation 3 units worldwide last year, versus 14.3 million sold in fiscal 2010.  Also high on the list of troubles is the PS Vita.  CEO Kaz Hirai, said the system's software lineup is still a problem.  


"For a game platform, like Vita, the software is the key to success -- how good the software is, that is the key to business success," he said. "We have to reinforce the software area in order to improve the business, that is the basic line. … Software and services must be strengthened." 





Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier (Ubisoft) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360, PC 


There is nothing fair, honorable, or just about combat. There is only winning and losing—the dead and the living. The Ghosts don't fret about even odds. They do everything in their power to overwhelm and obliterate the enemy. Future technology is the key to winning an asymmetric battle. 


In Ghost Recon Future Soldier join an elite team of highly trained, cut-throat special-ops soldiers. Armed to the teeth with unrivalled combat technology and cutting-edge military hardware, Ghost Recon takes you to the globe's most deadly warzones to hunt down the highest value targets. 


Dragon’s Dogma (Capcom) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360 


Dragon's Dogma is an exciting new franchise which redefines the single player Action-RPG genre. Developed by the team that produced some of Capcom's greatest action games, Dragon's Dogma is set in a huge open-world environment that offers exhilarating and fulfilling action combat game with the freedom to explore and interact in a rich, living and breathing world. Additional features include: classic RPG questing gameplay and classes, unique flexible party combat using trainable AI companions known as Pawns, extreme customization of player characters and party companions, PlayStation Network integration that allows the sharing of Pawns, a dynamic in-game 24-hour day/night cycle, and post-launch downloadable content. 


Dragon's Dogma introduces an innovative team system to the genre. The player's three AI partners, known as "Pawns" fight independently, demonstrating prowess and ability they have developed based on traits learned over time from the player and their actions. Utilizing PlayStation Network, players will journey to the Rift where they can share their own Pawns with friends and be rewarded with treasure, knowledge of the world and strategies for taking down enemies. Conversely, players can borrow friends' Pawns with the specific skills or experience required to tackle a particular quest. In addition, Dragon's Dogma will ship with thousands of ready-made Pawns for players to select offline.



Sorcery (Sony) Rated E  PS3 

Sorcery is a single player action role-playing game (RPG) for PlayStation 3 that utilizes Sony's PlayStation Move control system to create a dungeon crawling adventure like none before it. With the extreme motion controlled sensitivity of the PlayStation Move motion controller and PlayStation Eye camera peripheral accessory combination* players enter, interact with and explore a world where their growing expertise with spells and potions will be the difference between the salvation of the world and its domination. Features include a one-to-one relation between player movements to character actions, strategic spell use, transformative potions and additional support of the PlayStation Move navigation controller. 


The Nightmare Queen has broken an age-old contract with mankind. Now the evil of the Faerie Kingdom is crossing into the Land Above. As a sorcerer's apprentice, it is up to you to master the Magick of the Faerun and drive back the darkness. Using the PlayStation Move motion controller, Sorcery puts a wand in your hand, letting you perform spells and explore the Kingdom of Midnight. No two sorcerers are alike; every twist of the wrist and flourish of the wand adds to your personal style. Live the adventure as you hurl fireballs and conjure whirlwinds with the PlayStation Move. 




MIB: Alien Crisis (Activision) PS3, Xbox 360, Wii 


We work for highly funded, yet unofficial government agency; our mission is to monitor extra terrestrial activity on Earth, WE ARE THE MEN IN BLACK. Now it’s your turn to suit up as one of us to eliminate the scum of the universe, using an arsenal of futuristic weaponry, incapacitating devices and space-age technology. 






Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 (EA Sports) Rated E  PS3, Xbox 360



Tiger Woods may be continuing to struggle on the PGA Tour, but he’s always a star in the game named after him, back for its latest installment. Annual sports game always beg the question, “Is there enough new to make it worth buying?” Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is a great golf simulation, just as it has always been. But if you bought PGA Tour 12 it’s tough to recommend spending another $60. There are two key changes to this year’s edition; one good, one not so good. Let’s go to the good stuff first. 


The gameplay mechanics have undergone a wholesale upgrade and improvement with the new Total Swing Control mechanic. The days of pre-set shot types and shot meters are gone and your shot is all determined by the left joystick. On one hand this gives you greater control than ever and also presents a much more realistic style of play. It’s all on you and how you swing...err…use the joystick, just like swinging a club in real life. On the other hand, it’s going to take more practice and skill to make good shots but again, this makes the game far more realistic. A number of key factors go into determining the strength and accuracy of your shot. Moving the joystick just a bit left or right helps direct the ball. Your backswing, notably how long you hold it, and how fast and hard you push the joystick forward goes into determining the distance of your shot. Upping the difficulty level makes hitting the perfect shots that much tougher. Strangely, while overhauling the swing mechanics EA has taken away the practice tutorials that were common place in previous editions. Probably not the best idea. Putting is also vastly improved and you can marvel at some of the great, although again very realistic, long distance putts you can sink. 


The other new addition is hardly as valuable. The Tiger Legacy Challenge lets you play as Tiger at various points in his life, from a toddler right up through present day. While this does provide an avenue to learn the mechanics and practice your game, it does so in a silly, tedious way. You’ll have to do things like chip the ball into a backyard pool or into a golf bag. You progress through these challenges that take you from these juvenile games right up to Tiger becoming the dominant force in golf. Too bad the present day era doesn’t include Elin chasing you with a gold club! Sorry, could not resist. This mode would have been much better if Tiger had provided some guidance and knowledge but instead he stands mute, leaving you to attempt the same frustrating shots over and over. 


Tiger Woods PGA Tour is always a great looking game and while there’s no major improvements to the graphics there’s some noticeable tweaks to some of the lighting and weather effects. Although there are a few technical gaffes as well such as some frame rate lag and terrains refreshing too slowly. 


The base game comes with 16 courses including Augusta National, Pebble Beach, and St. Andrews. The Collector’s edition ups the course count to 20, and another 16 courses are available through download content. You can also go online to create your own country club and invite your friends. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is still a very good game but if you already own last year’s edition it’s hard to recommend this one unless the new swing mechanic really interests you.



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.