Happy Mass Effect 3 week! I’ve got mine in my hot little hands…err…PS3 and will have my review next week. But there’s much more going on in gaming this week…We have the officially announced Street Date for BioShock Infinite, which, along with Mass Effect 3, is another Game of the Year candidate. I’ve got reviews of 2K’s The Darkness II and Konami’s Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D. Lets get right to the news
IN THE NEWS…
2K Games Releases XCOM: Enemy Unknown Developer Deep Dive Video
2K Games released the first developer deep dive video for XCOM: Enemy Unknown. In this video, members of the Firaxis development team discuss the title at length and give fans a great idea of what they can expect when the game launches this fall.
2K Games and Irrational Games Announce Street Date for BioShock Infinite
2K Games announced today that BioShock Infinite will be available in North America on October 16, 2012 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC. Developed by Irrational Games, BioShock Infinite won more than 75 editorial awards at E3 in 2011, including the Game Critics Awards’ Best of Show. The title has been named one of the most anticipated games of 2012 by more than 50 media outlets, including Mania.
“After BioShock, we had a vision for a follow up that dwarfed the original in scope and ambition,” said Ken Levine, Creative Director of Irrational Games. “BioShock Infinite has been our sole focus for the last four years, and we can’t wait for fans to get their hands on it.”
BioShock Infinite puts players in the role of Booker DeWitt, a hard-bitten former Pinkerton agent, together with the revolutionary AI companion, Elizabeth. The two struggle to escape the sky-city of Columbia , in a 1912 America that might have been. Armed with an arsenal of new weapons and abilities, they face menacing enemies, in unique expansive environments. Classic BioShock gameplay joins innovations such as aerial combat on high-speed Sky-Lines in the service of an immersive storyline – an Irrational Games signature.
Adrian Gonzalez MLB 12 Road to The Show Video
MLB 12 The Show is out this week and now you can watch this exclusive video featuring cover athlete Adrian Gonzalez where he discusses his specific path to The Show. The video also includes one of the game’s fans (Damian) who talks about his own virtual Road to The Show moments. As you can see throughout the video, both Adrian and Damian discuss the parallels between the real life and virtual MLB experience as it relates to MLB 12 The Show.
CCP's 'DUST 514' to be first True Free-to-Play FPS on Console
CCP Games today announced that DUST 514, its fiercely innovative massively multiplayer online first-person shooter (MMOFPS) will be free-to-play on the PlayStation 3 system. DUST 514 is the first console game of its kind, set in the massive shared, persistent EVE Universe. Players will be able to download the game for free via PlayStation Network and jump directly into the most enthralling and sophisticated virtual world ever created. The first global hands-on demonstration of DUST 514 will take place at CCP’s EVE Fanfest March 22-24 in Reykjavik , Iceland .
“DUST 514 has everything you could want in a shooter: thrilling gameplay, spectacular graphics and an incredible strategic depth that comes from sharing the living universe of EVE Online,” said CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson. “DUST 514 embodies the passion and creativity the world has come to expect from CCP, and we think PlayStation 3 owners will be amazed at the opportunity to play such a groundbreaking new game of this caliber for free.”
DUST 514 will deliver exhilarating team-based combat on thousands of planets within the vast reaches of the EVE Universe. Mercenary teams in DUST 514 will work closely with starship pilots in EVE Online to wage battles, acquire territory, amass wealth and build empires.
"As the first true free-to-play FPS on PS3™, DUST 514 signifies a big step forward in the evolution of console gaming," said Phil Rosenberg, SVP of Business Development, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC. "PS3™ is the only platform where players will experience a AAA game like this for free, and showcases our commitment to deliver the best games exclusively on PlayStation Network."
Ubisoft Ignites the American Revolution with Assassin's Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III will hit store shelves on October 30, 2012, encouraging gamers to experience the American Revolutionary War not written about in history books. The largest project in Ubisoft’s history also introduces a new hero for the ages. With a development cycle of over three years and twice the production capacity of any previous Ubisoft game, Assassin’s Creed III is set to release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC and is also in development for Wii U from Nintendo.
Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution in the late 18th century, Assassin’s Creed III introduces a new hero, Ratohnhaké:ton, of Native American and English heritage. Adopting the name Connor, he becomes the new voice for justice in the ancient war between the Assassins and Templars. Players become an Assassin in the war for liberty against ruthless tyranny in the most stylized and fluid combat experiences in the franchise to date. Assassin’s Creed III spans the Revolutionary War, taking gamers from the vibrant, untamed frontier to bustling colonial towns and the intense, chaotic battlefields where George Washington’s Continental Army clashed with the imposing British Army.
Assassin’s Creed III is powered by Ubisoft-AnvilNext, a revolutionary new game engine that delivers breakthroughs in visual quality, character models and artificial intelligence. Assassin’s Creed III will feature a ground-breaking level of stunning graphics that bring Colonial America to life.
“Assassin’s Creed III features the franchise’s most expansive setting so far, along with an exciting new hero and exponentially more gameplay,” said Yves Guillemot, chief executive officer at Ubisoft. “Whether you’re a longtime fan of Assassin’s Creed or if you’re new to the franchise, you’re going to be blown away by the scale and marvel of Assassin’s Creed III.”
Mass Effect 3 Launch Trailer
Well if you didn’t run right out on Tuesday to buy Mass Effect 3 ( and if you didn’t what are you waiting for?) here is another little taste of what will certainly be a game of the year candidate with the new launch trailer.
New Characters for Skylanders Spyro's Adventure Now Available
So you say the kids haven’t bothered you enough to find every single last Skylander figure? Well now you have more to track down, mom and dad! New Skylanders Spyro's Adventure characters, Lightning Rod and Zook, along with Sunburn as part of the Dragon's Peak Adventure Pack are now available at major retailers. The Dragon's Peak Adventure Pack gives kids access to a whole new level, along with other fun upgrades, in Skylanders Spyro's Adventure.
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
Tales of Graces f (Namco) Rated T PS3
On the planet of Efinea, Asbel Lhant is constantly seeking the strength to protect those he holds dear. Little does he know that he will be drawn into a conflict between three rivaling kingdoms fighting for dominance of the world. Asbel, his childhood friends and the mysterious and innocent Sophie must explore the bonds of friendship while fighting for peace on their home planet.
As the follow-up to the original Tales of Graces, Tales of Graces f features stunning high-definition visuals with improved outlining and the detailed anime art style of Mutsumi Inomata. The gorgeous and spacious environments truly immerse you in the beautiful open world. Master new combat styles to aid you in battle. The Style Shift - Linear Motion Battle System allows you to freely change between fighting styles while evading enemy attacks. Use powerful new techniques and take the fight to your foes like never before with Accelerate mode. Enlist the help of up to three friends to battle enemies side-by-side, and explore more than 10 hours of engaging gameplay in the all-new Lineage & Legacies epilogue that's exclusive to the PlayStation 3. This all-new content features new dungeons, dangerous new monsters and powerful new spells, attacks and techniques. Can you fight to maintain peace on the planet of Efinea?
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Storm Generations (Namco) Rated T PS3, Xbox 360
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations is the latest rendition in the smash hit 'Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm' series of games. The title will power the series into the future by revolutionizing online play and ramping up the number of playable and support characters far beyond any Naruto game in the wildly popular franchise. Players will compete in a variety of online battle modes with their favorite Naruto characters, including Naruto and Sasuke. Naruto fans have been waiting to see more of Zabuza and Haku since the launch of the original Manga, and now they will have their chance! These are just a few of the many new ninja in the game. All this, together with the original Japanese voiceovers and lovingly crafted presentation faithful to the Naruto franchise ensures that Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations offers Naruto and gaming fans a torrential downpour of Naruto ninja fighting action and adventure!
Silent Hill: Downpour (Konami) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360
Having been behind bars for years, and receiving an extended sentence once already, Murphy Pendleton has become a liability during his stay at Ryall State Prison. Due to his storied past at Ryall, he is being transferred to Wayside Maximum Security Penitentiary. During his trip to his new gray-bar home, your bus is involved in a horrific accident. Once the twisted carnage of your prison transport bus comes to a stop, you are able to assess the situation. You find yourself stranded in the foggy woods near the town of Silent Hill. Knowing that this may be his one shot at freedom, Murphy sets off to explore the desolate town. Despite the town seeming vast and empty, he can't help but feel claustrophobic and that someone — or some thing — is watching him.
Take on the role of Murphy Pendleton, who finds himself alone and lost in the woods outside the lonely town. Explore the all-new environment that is expansive while feeling claustrophobic at the same time. Experience the bone-chilling terror of Silent Hill with vivid and spectacular visuals that are powered by Unreal 3 technology, bringing the town of Silent Hill, its characters, creatures and horrific world to life. Freely roam, explore the town and venture into all-new side quests that unlock new areas, special items and bonus content. Immerse yourself in the terror with an ever-changing game world that includes a day and night Normal world and an Otherworld world that are created from your actions during the gameplay. Understand that you are never truly alone in Silent Hill.
FIFA Street (EA Sports) Rated T PS3, Xbox 360
You know the award-winning FIFA franchise always scores when it comes to authentic, immersive and action-packed gameplay. Now, the same creators behind the revolutionary sports series take you out of the stadium and steep you in the rough and gritty culture of underground soccer in FIFA Street . Featuring all of the robust FIFA gameplay engines, like the Impact Engine, Precision Dribbling and Personality+, this fresh installment keeps what's already great, and also kicks it up a notch with the most responsive and authentic ball handling yet, Street Control. Bait and beat opponents using a precise standing dribble, maneuver through tight spaces with the deft street dribble, show your flair by juggling and master more than 50 never-before-seen skills. Prove your talent in global tournaments and challenges that take you from futsal-style matches in Spain to physical five-on-five contests in the UK and pit you against fellow gamers in massive, social competitions. Build your own team and climb your way to the top of the leaderboards, earning brag-worthy, in-game rewards along the way. Say goodbye to soccer the way you once knew it — once you hit the Street, you'll never want to look back.
Birds of Steel (Konami) Rated T PS3, Xbox 360
Get ready to strap in, go back in time and take stick in the most pivotal battles in the history of air combat. Birds of Steel puts you right in the crosshairs of WWII's most intense skirmishes. This original IP blends next gen supremacy and the fine details of aerial combat into a historical recreation fit for flight sim fans and history buffs alike. Use your skills to pilot the top planes from all combatants in WWII to recreate history or to change the outcomes of the most prolific battles in history. Online and offline elements add an entire new element to the game which will ensure Birds of Steel remains a fresh combat experience long after you've played for the first time.
Planet Crashers (Ignition Entertainment) Rated E Nintendo 3DS
In Planet Crashers 3D players take on the role of a young, bright cadet who has recently graduated from the esteemed Planet Crashers Academy and is ready to take on his or her first assignment-and it's a doozie. Reports indicate that an unknown evil has emerged from a dark corner of the galaxy with plans to snuff out the sun! It's up to players to venture across the galaxy to prevent the unimaginable from happening.
The Darkness II (2K Games) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360
I’ve been a fan of The Darkness comic book ever since it first debuted and thus was disappointed when the first video game turned out to be below my lofty expectations. Undeterred I found myself still excited about the sequel because Jackie Estacado is a great and unique character. Now it could be that this potential is why original developer Starbreeze Studios was dropped in favor of Digital Extremes. While it’s not without its faults it is better than the original in almost every way. The Darkness II takes place two years after the events of the first game. Estacado has used his powers to become the Don of the Franchetti crime family. He has been unable to shake the thoughts of his dead girlfriend Jenny Romano and has since, with the help of estranged occultist Johnny Powell and his study into dark essence, contained his supernatural powers, but now The Darkness is trying to get out in the worst way. A fantastic opening sequence featuring a shootout in a restaurant that serves as your tutorial to using the powers of The Darkness.
The big change to The Darkness II is that the game is more of an actual shooter while the first felt more like an action/adventure game that included shooting. But of course the true thrill of The Darkness isn’t blasting away with firearms but rather using those demonic arms with mouths full of razor sharp teeth at the end of them to grab, tear, smash, and literally rend opponents limb from limb. The right arm is your smash and bash arm that you can use to pummel the enemies or other items on the screen. The left arm is used for grabbing…either enemies or items which to hurl at them. The Darkness has a terrifically gory and macabre skill set that can make ground “squishiness” out of your foes, all with gorgeously violent graphics and gruesome sound effects. It’s positively delightful…in a sick sort of way to hurl a car door like it’s a Frisbee and have it tear through a group of bad guys.
Another new addition is a tactic called quad wielding, a technique which allows Jackie to use both The Darkness and firearms simultaneously to create some serious havoc. Killing his foes and collecting experience (known as dark essence) allows Jackie to add new abilities from a skill tree. With these tactics Jackie is able to summon a mini black hole which creates a void of vacuum encased in darkness to suck in enemies; 'swarm' allows Jackie to summon a swarm of insects to disable and stun multiple enemies at once; and gun channeling gives Jackie unlimited ammunition and delivers supernatural damage for a short period. These attacks and the rest are all a lot of fun to pull off but The Darkness II runs in to the same problem a lot of games likes this do…Even with all these exotic attacks it’s often just as easy to rely on your simple, basic attacks to get through the game. But…killing your foe with the demon arms and the more complex attacks nets you more experience so there is incentive to not rely on just blasting everything.
The story is paced quite well and its heavy, violent overtones are balanced quite with some of the thoughtful, agonizing scenes that Jackie has to deal with. The campaign is short and can be polished off in 5 – 6 hours, The campaign actually seems shorter due to the very straight-forward, linear nature of the level designs that makes you feel like you are being herded from one location to the other. The overall game experienced is lengthened by the inclusion of multi-player which is referred to as Vendetta’s. These allow you to play online with up to three others, each as one of Jackie’s darkness-powered assassins tackling a variety of missions that blend in with the main campaign.
The Darkness II has the odd graphic glitches as most games do. The campaign is short and the linear levels don’t offer a great deal of replay value but the bottom line is that The Darkness II is a better game than the original and a hell of a lot of fun. Grade B+
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D (Konami) Nintendo 3DS
The old saying “better late than never” certainly applies to Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D. This remake of 2004’s PS2 game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, is the first Metal Gear game to appear on any Nintendo platform for a number of years and while it is only a remake, it’s a very good one. The move up to the 3DS platform has allowed developer Kojima Productions to delivery a game that is more visually attractive with some great cut-scenes and well designed environments.
To the uninitiated, the game is set during the 1960’s Cold War era and thus the elements of stealth are emphasized even more than in the more modern games in the series. This was a time when one stray shot could have ignited World War 3. The basic plot hasn’t changed; you are still Naked Snake, a top-secret operative infiltrating the Soviet Union during the Cold War. You creep through jungles, quietly taking out enemy operatives, as you unravel a plot that threatens the safety of the entire world. If you’re not crazy about stealth games then you’ll definitely want to pass on this one. You’re rewarded for successfully moving undetected and all Hell breaks loose if you are. Snake has a camouflage index that gauges your effective invisibility to enemies from a negative value which means you’re seen and have been compromised to 100% which means you are completely unseen. One improvement is the addition of the crouch walk, which allows Snake to retain a degree of cover while moving and aiming. Because of the emphasis on stealth, the game is really more of an adventure game than an action shooter.
The game’s controls have their good and bad points. Snake moves fluid enough for the most part, particularly when he is trying to be extremely, umm, sneaky. The camera and aim control can be frustrating at times. The game features a gyro-style control when you’re walking across narrow bridges or tree branches, leaving the play to balance the 3DS. However, the menu system has been improved for the better, allowing you quicker access to your food, camo, and first-aid items.
The game isn’t particularly difficult in terms of its missions and boss-battles and I liked these all a great deal. But other elements are made unintentionally difficult for other reasons. The landscapes can look a little muddy and thus sometimes enemies can get lost in the much and be difficult to find. This isn’t by design mind you. The frame rate is also choppy. While this might not affect the gameplay, it’s still really annoying. The campaign can be completed in 5 – 6 hours but you can stretch the game out to two or three times that if you look for every hidden item and unlockables.
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D has some issues but its definitely a welcome addition on the 3DS. Grade B-
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