So this week I’m reviewing Duke Nukem Forever to give what I think is a TRULY unbiased review of the game because frankly I don’t think that’s been the case with some of the reviews I’ve read. I mean an “F” from 1 Up Games? Really? An F? And yet they gave Splatterhouse a C+. In what bizarro world are those twits living in? Look, I’m not saying Duke’s a great game, I’m not even saying it’s a good game but there’s no way it deserves the vitriol that’s been thrown at it in the past couple of weeks.
This week, and actually the next few weeks are very light in terms of new releases so we’ll be working to bring you as much news and as many reviews as possible. Thanks for joining us!
IN THE NEWS
Ubisoft breathes new life into Beyond Good and Evil for the PSN
Ubisoft announced the availability of Beyond Good & Evil HD, a remastered version of the original cult classic. Created by Michel Ancel, the original Beyond Good & Evil was praised for its amazing story and original score. Now players will be able to experience the best version of the game yet, available on PlayStation Network.
Beyond Good & Evil HD is currently available on PlayStation Network for $9.99.
Call of Duty Black Ops Annihilation Now Available on Xbox Live
Available now worldwide on Xbox LIVE Annihilation delivers four new multiplayer maps and a mind-blowing Zombies experience for the ultimate online showdown.Annihilation is the third downloadable content pack release from Activision and Treyarch in support of the worldwide phenomenon and record-setting Call of Duty: Black Ops. Fueled by the breakthrough Call of Duty: Black Ops First Strike and Call of Duty: Black Ops Escalation content packs, the blockbuster title is recognized for having the highest selling add-on content in Xbox LIVE history, according to Microsoft.
The Annihilation content pack's new maps include:
"Hangar 18," located in the highly classified military base of Area 51, where gamers will fight through experimental weapons labs, the SR-71 test hangar and a mysterious autopsy room.
"Drive-In," where players experience close-quarters combat through a 1960's American Drive-In theater, complete with a snack shack and a classic arcade.
"Silo," where-in gamers can infiltrate a massive secret Soviet nuclear missile site under construction within a multi-level battleground.
"Hazard," located on the cliff sides of Cuba , gamers can explore a coastal golf course fit for a Dictator, where stocked clubhouses and manicured fairways meet snipers hidden in sand traps.
"Shangri-La," the all-new Zombies experience, transports players into a mythical paradise overrun with the undead. Our Heroes will come face-to-face with new species of zombies and navigate through a treacherous labyrinth of underground caverns, all set within a legendary shrine lost in an exotic jungle.
Download Exclusive Nintendo 3DS Videos
For a limited time you can access 3D trailers for several new and upcoming Nintendo 3DS games via the Nintendo eShop. Act fast as these are only available until July 7th. Among the available trailers are Kid Icarus 3D, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Resident Evil Revelations, and Metal Gear Solid 3D.
Rune Factory 4 coming to 3DS
Marvelous Entertainment is releasing Rune Factory 4 for the 3DS. Rune Factory 4 for the Nintendo 3DS allows you, playing the role of a prince (or princess) of a burgeoning new land, to build your hometown and surrounding farmland as you see fit. In addition to the traditional Harvest Moon-type farm action, you'll go on adventures, make friends, and eventually marry and settle down. In addition to the 3D visuals, Rune Factory 4 adds a new quirk to the marriage system -- before you marry a partner, you'll be able to 'go steady' with them for a while, doing the sort of things that young lovers do. You'll even be able to have several lovers at once, although that stops becoming an option once you do get hitched.
The Supreme Court finds in favor of gamers
The Supreme Court passed a 7-2 vote in favor of video games on Tuesday, saying that "Video games qualify for the First Amendment protection." Similar to other forms of protected entertainment such as books, movies and plays, video games also qualify for "the basic principles of freedom of speech." The decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the California videogame law that would ban the sale or rental of violent videogames to minors is no different.
Blizzard offers free World of Warcraft…up to level 20
Blizzard has announced that players can now freely play WoW up to level 20 with as many characters as they'd like. From there, those who are interested in continuing their journey through the MMORPG can pick up both the base game and the first expansion, The Burning Crusade, for the price of $20. The expansion adds two additional races and allows you to travel to Outlands in order to reach its level 70 cap. The final two expansion packs, Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, will still have to be purchased like before. For anyone who already owns the base game, Burning Crusade is being made available to them for free.
Cave Story 3DS delayed
Oringally scheduled for an August release NIS America announced the game is now set to launch on November 8. This is "due to additional game improvements," a press release states.
"We are currently undergoing improvements to enhance gameplay," said NIS producer Jack Niida. "Changes are in the small details, but in order to satisfy both the fans and the new players we need to make sure the game is done right. Please look forward to it this holiday season. Cave Story 3D will be a blast.”
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (D3 Publisher) PS3, Xbox 360
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is an Arcade style third-person shooter based in a not-so-distant Science-fiction future. The game features individual or squad-based action against hordes of alien insect and robotic enemies where your actions are all that stands between survival and extermination of the human race. Features include: 300+ weapons, four upgradeable armor types, improved graphics over the previous game in the EDF series, co-op and local multiplayer options, a new weapons unlock system and more.
In Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon thousands of giant insects and aliens once again ravage the earth, and only the Earth Defense Force can stop them. Defend the city of New Detroit against an infestation bigger and meaner than ever before. Destroy these monsters at all costs, even if it means turning entire city blocks into rubble. Like the first game in its series, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is a third-person shooter featuring raw arcade satisfaction on a gigantic modern scale as players take on wave after wave of alien insect and robotic enemies. The game also features fully destructible environments in the fictional city of New Detroit. Gameplay improvements over the earlier game include: improved graphics, more weapons (now over 300), a new weapons unlock system, four upgradeable armor types, local split-screen play as well as online action, and special online modes.
Resistance Greatest Hits Dual Pack (Sony) Rated M PS3
The Resistance Fall of Man series is the pinnacle of First-Person Shooter action to date on the PlayStation 3 and a perennial bestseller since its initial release in 2006. The Resistance Greatest Hits Dual Pack allows players new to the game world of Resistance to inexpensively experience the first two installments of the critically acclaimed franchise back-to-back, and also prepare players for the late 2011 release of the much anticipated Resistance 3. This unique dual pack also includes over $10 of bonus DLC including the exclusive Resistance 3 Capelli SRPA skin, the Aftermath multiplayer map pack and two additional Resistance 2 skin DLC releases.
The Resistance franchise is set in an alternate Earth history in which the great conflict of the twentieth century is not against the Axis powers during World War II, but instead against an alien scourge known as the Chimera at the end of their conquering march across Europe and then on to America. Told through a science fiction and horror storyline, players take on the role of Sgt. Nathan Hale, an unlikely last hope for the human race. In Resistance: Fall of Man, US and British forces band together in a last-ditch effort to save England from a horrific scourge -- the Chimera. This parasitic species infects other life forms with a virus that rapidly mutates victims into new Chimera. In mere decades this race has ripped apart populations across Asia and Europe and by 1951 has landed on the shores of England. You play the part of US Army Ranger Nathan Hale, fighting alongside a group of British resistance soldiers to free the country from the Chimera and to halt their spread across the globe.
Duke Nukem Forever (2K Games) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360
Before reviewing Duke Nukem Forever I did something I usually never do…I read several other reviews before I wrote mine. The reason being that immediately upon its release DNF was getting absolutely torched. It got so bad that the PR firm handling the game’s release for 2K games tweeted a veiled threat that critics who gave the game bad reviews might not get future 2K releases. This was followed by a quick and humble apology by the PR firm and then by 2K firing them. That’s Duke for ya…planting flowers and making friends wherever he goes!
Reading some of these reviews you’d think that Duke Nukem Forever was the worst video game to hit the market since E.T. The Extraterrestrial almost single-handedly sank the entire videogame market in 1982. Is DNF a great game? Maybe not…definitely not…but I don’t think 2K is going to be burying copies in a New Mexico landfill either. The problem with Duke is its very visible and much discussed development time of 14 years after its last game, Duke Nukem 3D. The development period put the game in almost no-win situation. People expected greatness after 14 years and when it wasn’t delivered, they pounced on it like the last slice of pizza during a D&D game.
Duke is a dinosaur, no doubt about it. Still largely stuck in the past with his over-the-top machismo, dated pop culture references, not to mention its gameplay. But it’s a dinosaur by choice…probably. It’s like Duke was frozen in ice since 1997 and was just thawed out and doesn’t know the world has gone on without him. I don’t see that as poor plotting, it’s part of the game’s charm. Duke is still targeting its audience of the 1990s even though they are going to be in their 30’s now, versus going after modern pop icons like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga…although that might be really funny.
Set 12 years after the last game, Duke is enjoying his fame as the icon of millions including his two Charlie Sheen-like Goddesses who are “pleasuring” Duke as the game opens. Kids, you might want to make sure mom and dad are out of the room when you start this one…and if you’re a kid you shouldn’t be playing the game anyway! Where the hell are your parents? The alien invaders Duke defeated have returned although the President warns Duke to stay out of it so they can use diplomacy to solve the problem. Fat chance! When Duke’s attacked in his own abode its time to chew bubblegum and kick ass (and that’s a pop culture reference from the 1980s). Duke has to save the day again by drinking beer, popping steroids, getting lap dances, and wasting waves of aliens with a variety of weapons including his own two fists.
Duke is also forever sophomoric…from his “69” floor building he lives in, to referring to people as “douches”, to peeing in toilets and other places. It makes you roll you eyes but you can’t help chuckling at the same time. Duke is like the result of Beavis and Butthead writing their own videogame. Along the way Duke has to rescue women who’ve been impregnated by the aliens and moaning in ecstasy (for some reason) by either killing them before they give birth, or letting them give birth to the alien spawn at which point they die anyway. The first-person shooter takes you through a variety of levels that feature puzzle-solving, platforming, and levels where Duke is shrunk down by alien spores to the size of a G.I. Joe…the cool old G.I. Joes, not the stupid 3 ¾” ones from the 1980s…at least that’s my perspective. Along the way kids want him to sign their autograph books…hot women want him to sign other places.
The most disappointing aspect to DNF is that while Duke is frozen in the late 1990s, the graphics haven’t evolved much either. This looks more like a PS2 game at best with bland colors, uninspired character models, and pixilated effects. When characters talk, their mouths just move with no attempt to sync them to words they’re saying. Kind of like an old Kung-fu movie…Duke also hasn’t discovered the concept of cover as he fighting off aliens and the game can be frustrating on the harder difficulty levels. There’s so little effect when you’re blasting aliens that you’re not sure you’re hitting them or not until they fall down dead with all the style of a wet towel falling off the shower curtain rod. Surprisingly for a game so over the top there’s little in the way of blood or gore when you’re shooting the baddies…
Duke doesn’t have a health meter he has an Ego bar that goes down all to easily when he’s hit but replenishes when he kills an enemy. You can permanently increase the Ego bar by interacting with objects for the first time (like peeing into a toilet). But tough guy Duke is a bit of a pansy. A half-dozen enemies onscreen at once can send him have to run until the ego bar replenishes. Not exactly the badass he things he is! Duke’s environment is also less interactive than in DN3D. Sure you can draw on dry erase boards use phones and sinks…that’s fun, right? But most of your terrain is totally indestructible including the many NPCs who get in your way and whom you cannot punch or shoot just on general principal.
There’s a lot to do in DNF and its campaign can run in the neighborhood of 10 – 14 hours (which don’t include Duke’s long load times) which is pretty good compared to most shooters today that are built more for multiplayer. It’s not going to win any awards but at the same time it’s not the worst PS3 game ever…not even the worst I’ve played in the past few months. Duke Nukem Forever is a victim of its own past reputation. People allowed unrealistic expectations to percolate over the past 14 years. Taken on its own merits, it is what it is…an average game. Grade C+
BlazBlue Continuum Shift II (Aksys Games) Rated T Nintendo 3DS
Blazblue Continuum Shift II is a 2D Fighting game and a port of the arcade game of the same name. The selection of games for the 3DS has been disappointingly slim so far yet this is already the third fighter released for the new system in just a few months. The game is a mostly faithful and full-bodied port of the arcade version.
First and foremost this is a 2D game and I’m beginning to wonder if we weren’t really sold a bill of goods with the 3DS ad being little more than a spruced up DS. Leave the 3D slider off for this one as it adds nothing to the gameplay. One disappointment is that the game uses the D-pad for movement only with no option to use the circle pad. That said, movements are relatively precise and there’s a comprehensive training mode that will take you through virtually all the moves and game elements before you jump into play.
Blazblue Continuum Shift II boasts a strong roster of 18 fighters and a great selection of modes to play. Arcade lets you play against the CPU through 10 progressively challenging stages; Versus lets you pick your opponent and play the CPU; Score Attack finds you competing for the highest score against the AI; Legion 1.5 lets you create a group to take on enemies; Abyss allows you to improve your stats while fighting your way through a steam of opponents; Story mode is pretty self-explanatory letting you select one character to progress through the story. Network lets you battle with four friends in local play. Now you might notice one major omission and that’s online play. Amazingly there is no online play which is really unforgivable by game developer Arc. Online play is not only expected these days its virtually required, especially in a fighting game. That major misstep aside there’s still a lot to keep players busy and a ton of material like alternate costumes, soundtracks, and much more.
While Blazblue can’t match the graphics of the arcade version they are quite nice and feature some slick fighting effects. The lack of an online mode hurts the replay value but its still a worthwhile play. Grade B
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