It’s San Diego Comic Con this week and while not a gaming show the lines have been blurred so much about what SDCC is anymore that you cannot blame game publishers for wanting to take full advantage of the huge throng of comic and film fans that will descend on Southern California this week. As an old comic book guy I appreciate the purity of the old time comic book shows without high profile actors and directors and nerds in costumes running around…but that’s just me I guess.
Nintendo announced that Netflix service is now available on the 3DS although their timing could not have been worse considering the huge price increases that Netflix announced just last week, sending people scrambling to Red Boxes, Hula, and Blockbuster…hahaha…well maybe not Blockbuster but you know what I mean. Speaking of huge media companies who have hit the skids how about former book giant Borders announcing the closing of ALL its stores after they failed to find a buyer for the struggling chain. Two examples of companies driven into the dirt by poor management. Management loves to blame the economy for laying off employees but the fact is most companies tank due to management. Borders jumped on board the technology express far too late and now over 10,000 people are going to be out of a job.
Besides a lot of news this week I’ve got reviews of F.E.A.R. 3 and Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time for the 3DS. Thanks for checking back with us!
IN THE NEWS
SEGA Announces Aliens: Infestation for Nintendo DS
SEGA has announced Aliens: Infestation for Nintendo DS, bringing the action-packed experience of the popular Aliens film series to Nintendo’s best-selling handheld console in September 2011. Players will be able to recruit and play as 19 different marines, each with their own unique dialogue, and explore iconic environments including the Sulaco, the Derelict ship, and LV-426. Aliens: Infestation is an action-heavy side-scrolling exploration game and will be part of the Aliens expanded universe.
Developed by WayForward in collaboration with Gearbox Software, Aliens: Infestation will pit players against the overwhelming Xenomorph hive using a vast selection of iconic weapons and tools from the series. Featuring character designs by popular comic artist Chris Bachalo and equipped with an upgrade and collectibles system, Aliens: Infestation will allow players to explore large-scale versions of some of the most fan-beloved environments of the iconic films. “In contrast to our other Aliens title in the works at the moment, Aliens: Infestation delivers a game that focuses more on exploration of the expanded universe,” comments Gary Knight, Senior Vice President of Marketing, SEGA West. “WayForward really put all their passion into making Aliens: Infestation the definitive Aliens experience that you can fit in your pocket.” One question…where is the 3DS version???
Activision unveils Goldeneye 007: Reloaded for the PS3 and Xbox 360
The world's most famous secret agent is back! Activision has declassified the existence of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, which will make its grand debut on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 for the first time ever. Built on a brand new engine that delivers striking visuals, blistering fast gameplay and the ability to play using the PlayStation Move with Sharp Shooter peripheral, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is the complete James Bond experience shooter-fans have been waiting for and will launch in stores later this fall.
"We are beyond ecstatic to debut GoldenEye 007: Reloaded to the millions of fans who have been clamoring for it to arrive on Sony and Microsoft home consoles," said David Oxford, Executive Vice President at Activision Publishing. "And now with full PlayStation Move functionality, 007 fans all around the world can play the game in full HD in more ways than ever before."
"Promising to be one of the most immersive and interactive Bond games to date, this is an outstanding opportunity for PlayStation fans to experience one of the most iconic and action-packed shooters in an all new way with PlayStation Move and the Sharp Shooter peripheral," said Rob Dyer, Senior Vice President, Sony Computer Entertainment of America. "By bringing together GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, and PlayStation Move's Sharp Shooter, we are continuing to expand the new world of motion-based entertainment appealing for hardcore fans and only possible on PlayStation."
Fallout: New Vegas Old World Blues Now Available on Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, and Steam
Bethesda Softworks is pleased to announce that Old World Blues, the third add-on pack for Fallout: New Vegas, is now available for download on Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network and Steam. The residents of the Mojave have long assumed the trackless wastes of the ‘Big Empty’ are a no-man's-land, a desolate stretch where no living thing can survive. In Old World Blues, you discover that is far from the truth….Old World Blues is available for download on Xbox LIVE for 800 Microsoft points and on PlayStation Network and Steam for $9.99.
Ubisoft Launches Castle Empire, Free-to-Play browser game
Ubisoft announced the development of Castle Empire, a new free-to-play, browser-based, multiplayer strategy game. Known as The Settlers Online in Europe , this game has already garnered a strong following among online gamers abroad. In the US , players can get early access to the game by visiting http://www.CastleEmpireOnline.com and registering to be part of the Closed Beta. Participants who sign up for the Closed Beta will be rewarded with an exclusive in-game item.
“The game has had an excellent initial Beta phase in Europe, adding to Ubisoft’s growing list of top-notch free-to-play, browser-based games, and we’re excited to begin rolling it out to new territories,” said Chris Early, Vice President of Digital Publishing at Ubisoft North America. “Castle Empire is a highly entertaining game that highlights Ubisoft's strategy to bring enjoyable experiences to their players while expanding its gaming expertise.”
Developed by Ubisoft’s Blue Byte studio, Castle Empire will allow players to turn their simple plots of land into mighty empires by producing and trading valuable goods with friends, building towns and villages, journeying into the wild to discover new areas, and engaging in battles with anyone that stands in their way
2K Games Announces new release date for The Darkness II
2K Games announced today that The Darkness™ II, for all previously announced video game consoles and PC, is now planned for release on February 7, 2012 in North America and February 10, 2012 internationally. Currently in development with Digital Extremes and based on the supernatural horror comic book series created by Top Cow Productions, Inc., The Darkness II delivers a brutal and personal narrative as gamers take control of Jackie Estacado, head of a New York crime family and wielder of an ancient and ruthless force of chaos and destruction known as the Darkness.
Additionally, 2K Games announced their presence at San Diego Comic-Con and will co-host a special panel featuring The Darkness II™ entitled “Spreading The Darkness: From Comic Book to Video Games and Entertainment,” in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of The Darkness. The discussion around The Darkness II will feature top talent from Top Cow Productions, including CEO and co-creator of The Darkness, Marc Silvestri, and President and COO of Top Cow, Matt Hawkins; developers from Digital Extremes; and in-game voice of the Darkness, Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and Peeping Tom). The panel will take place on Thursday, July 21, 2011, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. PDT in Room 9 within the San Diego Comic-Con convention center.
Activision reveals Spider-Man: Edge of Time and X-Men Destiny voice talent at SDCC
Activision Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Entertainment are pleased to announce the top-tier celebrity actors that will voice characters in the upcoming Spider-Man: Edge of Time and X-Men Destiny video games. Both games will be playable at this year's Comic-Con and are set to thrill comic fans this fall.
The highly anticipated Spider-Man: Edge of Time game will feature legendary film star Val Kilmer as Walker Sloan, Smallville and V mainstay Laura Vandervoort as Mary Jane, and Katee Sackhoff, who played Lieutenant Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica,makes her debut as the Black Cat.
Additionally, Heroes icon Milo Ventimiglia, Sucker Punch and The Hangover Part II vixen Jamie Chung and Friday Night Lights star Scott Porter will bring three all-new playable mutant characters -- Grant Alexander, Aimi Yoshida and Adrian Luca -- to life respectively in X-Men Destiny.
"These amazing casts of talented Hollywood actors help bring the rich storylines of Spider-Man: Edge of Time and X-Men Destiny to life," said Vicharin Vadakan, Director of Marketing, Activision Publishing. "Players this fall will get to control the destinyof their own mutants or save Spider-Man and through this voice talent feel like they are part of the action."
SEGA Confirms Release Dates for CRUSH3D and Shinobi on Nintendo 3DS
SEGA of America today confirmed the release dates for two of their most anticipated Nintendo 3DS titles. Shinobi will be released on November 15, 2011, while CRUSH3D will be released on February 21, 2012. Shinobi for Nintendo 3DS will put players in the shoes of Jiro Musashi, the father of Joe Musashi from the original 1989 release, offering a glimpse into Musashi family history. Sporting a vast story mode as well as an innovative, yet to be announced StreetPass mode, Shinobi will keep players coming back for more ninja action.
CRUSH3D is set in the mind of the young protagonist Danny, where he is testing out his friend’s new invention C.R.U.S.H. When the machine falls in love with Danny, he has to work his way through mind-stretching puzzles that blend 2D and 3D elements to escape its clutches.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions Now on the Playstation Network
Square Enix, Inc., announced that Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lionsis now available for the PSP system via the PlayStation Network. Since its release in 2007, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lionshas received stellar reviews for its graphics and gameplay from the industry’s top critics. The PlayStation Network release of the title will give adventurers old and new the opportunity to enter the world of Ivalice and experience a land of imaginative artistic design that provides a sumptuous backdrop to a politically charged tale, where two young men endeavor to reshape the course of history.
Call of Duty: Black Ops: Annihilation Coming to PSN on 7/28
Call of Duty: Black Ops: Annihilation is just days away from launching its latest content pack on the PlayStation3 and Windows PC with the worldwide release of Annihilation, the third DLC for the blockbuster title from Activision and Treyarch. Call of Duty: Black Ops has shattered sales records and drawn millions of gamers online since its November 2010 launch, with Black Ops fans logging billions of gameplay hours to date. Annihilation features four new multiplayer maps comprised of a Cuban cliff-side golf course, a 1960s American Drive-In theater and much more. Additionally, the fan-favorite Zombies are back in the mythical paradise of Shangri-La, overrun with a new species of zombie and innovative gameplay surprises around every corner.
First Pokemon game coming to the 3DS
The first Pokemon game for 3DS will be out later this year. Pokemon Rumble Blast is a follow-up to WiiWare title Pokemon Rumble, a button-mashing beat-em-up that had us assuming its 3DS sequel would be called Super Pokemon Rumble. It's known as Super Pokemon Scramble in Japan .
A Japanese promotional video for it recently made its way onto the web. It should give those who never played Rumble an idea of what to expect: you take direct control of various Pokemon (wind-up Pokemon toys, to be specific) and beat up other Pokemon in real time; combat isn't turn-based like the RPG series. Players collect Pokemon as they defeat them, with more than 600 in total up for grabs including those who made their debut in Pokemon Black and White.
Multiplayer support comes in the form of two-player, wireless cooperative play and StreetPass support where your Pokemon battle those of other players you pass by. StreetPass will also pull other players Miis into your game.
Sega cancels Mega Man Legends 3
Capcom announced that Mega Man Legends 3 has been canceled. Legends 3 was a project built upon fan suggestions. Originally announced last September, its future was soon called into question after Keiji Inafune, a producer on the first three games in the Legends series, left Capcom in October. The company reassured fans it was still coming and had plans to release a small taste of what was to come in the form of Prototype Version for the 3DS eShop. No specific reason was given for the decision.
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
Catherine (Atlus) Rated M Xbox 360, PS3
Players will enter the life of Vincent Brooks, a 32-year-old man who finds himself caught by the irresistible attraction of the game's titular diversion. Vincent wakes up, hungover, next to a stunningly beautiful woman who isn't his girlfriend. This lands him in a predicament that occupies most men's dreams and nightmares. Did anything happen? Does he tell his longtime girlfriend, who's pressuring him to commit to her? Can he get away with stringing both women along? What will you choose to have Vincent do? Who will you choose to hurt? In life, cheating can ruin everything, but in the world of Catherine, it can also kill you.
Vincent really likes his girlfriend. Katherine's pretty, smart, and successful. Trouble is, now she's sat Vincent down for "the talk," and Vincent's spent his entire life trying to avoid long-term commitment. Since romantic complications are the last thing he wants to deal with, Vincent meets his friends for their regular night of drinks. Little does he know that he's about to be blindsided by a drop-dead sexy freight train named Catherine. When the morning comes, he's hungover in bed next to the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, unable to recall the previous night's events. Was it just harmless fooling around, he wonders, or did something more serious happen between them? Should he tell Katherine? Will he ever see Catherine again? Vincent's about to discover that stumbling on the stairway of love can turn into a horrific, fatal plummet...
Pac-Man and Galaga Dimensions (Namco) Rated E 3DS
PAC-MAN and Galaga come to the Nintendo 3DS system!
In PAC-MAN Tilt, assist PAC-MAN through stages filled with obstacles, platforms and ghosts by tilting the world to guide PAC-MAN to the goal. Flippers, platforms and power pellets help PAC-MAN jump, flip, swing, and eat his way to the finish line. In Galaga 3D Impact, rid space of the incoming Galaga army by shooting down enemies in an exciting 3D skirmish! Your Nintendo 3DS system becomes your ship’s gun turret as you attack and defend the ship through waves of the Galaga armada.
F.E.A.R. 3 (Warner Bros.) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360
Quick…ask me to describe F.E.A.R 3 in just one word and without thinking I’d say CREEPY. Give me another word to toss in and I’d say Creepy and unsettling and I can think of no better compliment to give a game that is horror-laden. This is definitely a first-person paranormal shooter that dares you to play in the dark. The solid single-player game may even be eclipsed by its outstanding co-op mode. While it’s not on a par with top level shooters, its mix of horror elements makes it a top level game.
The sequel to F.E.A.R. 2, this game pretty much picks up after the events of that game as you once again play the protagonist Super Soldier known as Point Man. Point Man forms a tenuous alliance with his telepathic, cannibalistic brother, Paxton Fettel who helps free him from an asylum where he is being interrogated. The pair return to the city of Fairport (the hub of activity from the first two games) where Alma ’s psychic and psychotic powers are once again on the loose and causing residents to go insane. It’s really a good thing to have played the first two games…at least the last one as there isn’t a great effort to bring new players up to speed. While it helps though, it’s not a requirement. One important note to F.E.A.R. 3’s plot is that crazy Alma is now pregnant with Michael Becket’s child. Becket was the main character of F.E.A.R. 2 and stopping Alma from giving birth to the child is one of the main objectives.
The game allows you to play as Point Man or as Fettel. Fettel has the ability to possess enemy troops and thus his ways of dispensing with the opposition tend to be far more colorful that Point man’s mere shooting them. In single-player you have to finish a stage as the Point Man before you can play through it as Fettel. That’s a bit of a drag. It would be nice to switch alternately between the pair although if you want to play the game co-op you can play as both at the same time, maybe swapping with your friend. Playing co-op might completely put you off wanting to play single-player, however. It’s that good.
You have a wide variety of weapons at your disposal including pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, and more for use during the truly epic firefights. This is where F.E.A.R. 3 really shines with smooth and tight controls that are intuitive and fun. Melee can be just as enjoyable with its alternate attacks. And while it might seem laborious to replay a stage just to play as Fettel, trust me, it’s worth the extra time. The scoring system while not unique is never the less extremely satisfying and rewarding. You’ll want to go about achieving these various rewards to increase your various abilities.
Graphically F.E.A.R. 3 looks a tad on the dated side and with more than a passing influence of Silent Hill. Sometimes it has a bit too much of Silent Hill’s influence as you traverse the dingy dark corridors of the game’s buildings. You feel like it’s “been there done that” with some of the stage designs. On the other hand the sound is simply superb! From the voice acting to the soundtrack, and down to the sound effects, F.E.A.R. 3 excels in every way. Combat is accompanied by an appropriately thrilling and exciting soundtrack. Load times and an occasional choppy frame rate are two of the issues that keep the game from achieving greatness.
F.E.A.R. 3 offers four multi-player modes that offer new and exciting gameplay from the typical death match and capture the flag modes. F***ing Run puts you as a member of a squad of four who has to fight their way through hordes of enemies while staying one step ahead of a wall of death that follows you the whole way. If even one member gets caught by the wall of death the game ends. In Soul Survivor one of the four players is a ghost and his goal is to try to possess and corrupt the souls of the other players to win the match. The suspense ramps up in Contractions mode where a team has to protect a stronghold against wave after wave of ever increasing enemy attacks. Communication is essential as you have to constantly repair damage to the stronghold as well as having players scout for supplies.
F.E.A.R. 3 offers tremendous replay value in the form of its co-op play, replaying single player stages with Fettel and its unique multi-player modes. It would have been great for the single player game to be able to switch back-and-forth between characters, however. Grade B+
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (Nintendo) Rated E 3DS
Proving what a true timeless classic it is, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is back, 13 years after the original game debuted on the Nintendo 64. Now in 3D on the handheld 3DS system, the game proves its remarkable staying power by delivering a great gaming experience with some tweaks to the original play. The updated graphics provide the game with a look that is definitely 2011 without losing any of the appeal of the original. Nintendo has added some nice new additions that improve the overall experience. These include being able to use the touch screen to swap out inventory items; using the 3DS’ built-in gyroscope to aim more precisely with your bow and slingshot; as well as a video hint system. The 3DS version has the modified Master Quest dungeons and mirrored overworld in addition to the original game, and a new "Boss Challenge" mode that allows the player to fight all of the bosses one at a time, or in sequential order, while the Master Quest has its own version of the "Boss Challenge" mode, where the boss arenas are mirrored.
The land of Hyrule has always been one of whimsical enchantment and this is made all the more apparent by the visually striking detail and colors of the landscapes. I haven’t been overly infatuated with the 3D mode of most 3DS games but this is one that truly was made for 3D. Plot wise its Link to the rescue again, having to go on an epic quest to stop the Evil Ganondorf…or Ganon if you will, from finding the ancient relic known as the Triforce. Link will use the Ocarina to learn various songs and travel time in his quest. Link will traverse numerous dungeons encountering deadly monsters and mind-numbing puzzle challenges. Link will do a lot of talking to a lot of the realm’s citizens along the way to find the clues he needs to complete his quest.
There’s a hoard of items to find throughout the game including weapons, clothing, tools, artifacts, etc…all of which have their unique uses. While Link’s quest is largely linear you’re not dragged around by the nose like so many games today. Secrets are layered upon each other and you’re going to have to dig, use your mind, and a bit of patience to unlock all of the mysteries in Ocarina of Time. Combat takes full advantage of the 3DS by switching to first person when you pull out your bow or slingshot and uses the gyroscope technology for looking around an aiming. You can also use the analog stick for aiming if you’re more comfortable. This does take some getting used to, especially if playing in 3D as can be tricky to lock on and re-orient your view…sometimes disorienting the player. Combat though isn’t overly difficult in terms of the challenges you face. The same Tactics generally work against a lot of the foes. The improved graphics and textures are definitely a plus when it comes to the boss characters as they certainly become more threatening and sinister in appearance.
Music was an important aspect of the original and really all the Zelda games and that is also the case again. The score is truly beautiful and moving as well as creating a sense of atmosphere with each new area you enter. Even a number of characters have their own unique tunes when you meet them. In all the game is going to take a good 20 hours or more to complete. Probably less for those who’ve played the earlier incarnations of the game and maybe more who are first time players. No matter what your familiarity though you are in for a breathtaking game experience. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time shows that even a game that is 13 years old and was on a platform that is ancient by today’s standards, can be dusted off, shined up, and gain a whole new legion of fans. Grade A-
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