We start the column with a big announcement from Nintendo. Finally Nintendo will be bringing gamers a Nintendo network to compete with Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. I guess the old saying is better late than never and we can complain all we want about Nintendo arriving late to the party but its still great to see them finally get in the network game.
We’ve got this story and others as well as a review of The Adventures of Tintin: The Game this week!
IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK
Nintendo Announces the Nintendo Network
Nintendo users will finally soon have an online experience on par with Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. At least that’s the announcement from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who broke the news in a meeting with investors this week shortly after the company released its quarterly earnings. Iwata’s presentation explained that the Nintendo Network would encompass the company’s next generation of products, including the portable 3DS and the Wii U console, to be released later this year. The network won’t just be a place where users can play games against each other online — Iwata said it would also offer full downloads of game titles, some add-ons and access to other digital content. That would be a big upgrade from the limited network connectivity that currently exists on Nintendo’s hardware.
Iwata pointed out the new community functions in Mario Kart 7, which is already available, as the first example of the new network’s capabilities. He also said the next edition of the Final Fantasy franchise, due Feb. 16, would feature user-selectable music that would be available for paid download. When the Wii U arrives, Iwata said it would feature a personal account system that’s tied to the Nintendo Network. That way it could have tailored settings and different content specifically for the user who logs in, something Iwata said has been a “challenge” with the Wii.
Besides the network, Iwata had another surprise about the Wii U: Near-field communication (NFC). The wireless tech, usually associated with mobile-payment systems like Google Wallet, will be built into the tablet controller for the console. Iwata said that with NFC “it will become possible to create cards and figurines that can electronically read and write data … to expand the new play format in the video game world.” He also mentioned micropayments as another potential function.
Konami announces Puddle for the Xbox Live and PSN
Konami announced that Puddle, a winner in the 2010 GDC Independent Games Festival Student Showcase Division, is now available for Xbox Live and Playstation Network A brilliantly designed physics-based puzzle platform game, Puddle initially began as a project from six students from the French videogame school ENJMIN, and was ultimately picked up and developed by Neko Entertainment.
In Puddle, players must guide a puddle of fluid to its target destination, not by moving the fluid, but by tilting the game world. A new experience based on physics and liquid properties, players must work with friction, momentum, and the unique properties of each type of fluid and environment to send as much of each puddle past fires, rifts, spills and more. The challenge lies in the fact that the fluid motion is realistic. If players tilt too quickly, droplets are left behind and if tilted too slowly, they may not be able to make certain jumps. Players also have to control their fluid and safely navigate through pipes, plants, laboratories, a human body, a sewer, a rocket, a foundry and a power station. The end goal- avoid being evaporated away. With endless twists, turns and surprises, Puddle tests puzzle fans like never before in an unparalleled physics-based puzzle platformer title. Puddle is now available for download on Xbox LIVE for 800 Microsoft Points and PlayStation Network for $9.99.
2K releases first trailer for MLB 2K12
2K Sports today released the first teaser trailer for Major League Baseball 2K12. The video teases My Player mode and a minor league rookie in his first career at-bat against the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP award winning pitcher, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers.
Square Enix Download Content announcement for Final Fantasy XIII-2
Square Enix announced FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now available at retailers. They also announced that extensive downloadable content is planned for FINAL FANTASY XIII-2. The planned content includes Coliseum Battles pitting the player against adversaries from previous FINAL FANTASY titles that, when defeated, can be recruited into the player’s party. The Coliseum battle “Lightning and Master Sergeant Amodar” will be distributed on February 7. In addition, there will be episodes which enhance the experience and complement the narrative of FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 with storyline branches for key characters in the story. Full details on each piece of content will be revealed at a later date.
Twisted Metal Valentines Day Debauchery at Gamestop
Pre-order your copy of Twisted Metal today at Gamestop to get several special perks including: An upgrade to Twisted Metal Limited Edition; Early Access to the Axel vehicle; a free download of Twisted metal: Black.
Playstation Vita Special Bundle
Gamers who were thinking of saving money by opting for the Wi-Fi only model of Sony’s Vita are going to be tempted to upgrade to the 3G version thanks to the 3G Launch Bundle. In addition to getting the 3G system you'll also get "over $55 in bonus content." More specifically, you get an 8GB memory card, an AT&T DataConnect Session Pass providing 250MB of 3G access (presumably good for only one month), and an unnamed PlayStation Network game. This all comes at no additional cost only $300 (The Wi-fi only version is $250).
Netflix scraps plans for game rentals
When Netflix decided to break up their DVD-by-mail and online brands by announcing Qwikster, the plan was to start renting games. The consumer backlash of that moved scrapped those plans and apparently game rentals along with it. As a part of Netflix's Q4 earnings report conference call, CEO Reed Hastings stated there are "no plans" to begin offering videogames in addition to DVDs and Blu-rays.
No BlizzCon in 2012
Blizzard's annual convention won't take place this year. Blizzard made the surprising announcement on its blog earlier this week. BlizzCon will return in 2013 -- it isn't a matter of the event being put on ice indefinitely -- and to make up for its absence this year, Blizzard announced the 2012 Battle.net World Championship. Set to be held later this year in Asia , it'll be home to the World Championship tournaments for both StarCraft II and World of Warcraft. It's another example of Blizzard supporting eSports and professional gaming, with it having already hosted tournaments at BlizzCon itself.
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Electronic Arts) PSs, Xbox 360, PC
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a single player Action Role-playing Game (RPG) set in the brand-new game fantasy universe of Amalur. The game features an expansive Open World game environment, the unique "Destinies" system that limits character development only by the combination of equipped spells and items carried, intuitive yet challenging combat, a robust crafting system and a range of special attacks. Additional features include: the written and design talents of R.A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane and Ken Rolston; dramatic special and metered attacks; as well as multiple in-game races.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning takes place in Amalur, an all-new game universe inhabited by various races of beings and filled with thousands of years of history. This deep fantasy based world is the brainchild of best-selling Fantasy and Science Fiction author R.A. Salvatore and the combined talents of Todd McFarlane, the creator of the Spawn series, Ken Rolston, the lead designer of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and the team at Big Huge Games. Reckoning bears the hallmarks of each of these visionaries, melding an epic, master-crafted storyline, rich graphics and heart-stopping animations, and compelling open-world exploration. In addition to being the setting for Reckoning, this rich world will also serve as a base for a future trans-media entertainment experience, including books, toys, comics, and a planned MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online RPG) video game yet be announced.
Resident Evil: Revelations (Capcom) Rated M Nintendo 3DS
Revealing a brand new storyline for the Resident Evil series, Resident Evil: Revelations sees the return to survival horror, offering a tense and intriguing gameplay experience. Built from the ground up to take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS features, Resident Evil: Revelations delivers outstanding visuals that bring the fear to life. The story is set principally on board a supposedly abandoned cruise ship in the Mediterranean . Far from being empty, the ship hides danger around every corner as Jill Valentine explores the confined space of the ship, facing menacing horrors that emerge from the darkness.
The Darkness II (2K Games) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360, PC
The Darkness II is an intense first person shooter that delivers a twisted and gripping narrative of tragedy, modern crime drama, and supernatural horror. Sequel to the critically acclaimed 2007 release, The Darkness, The Darkness II is inspired by the popular comic book series produced by Top Cow Productions, Inc. The game features a distinctive art style, quad-wielding weapons/demonic skill abilities and a co-op multiplayer mode.
In The Darkness II players are taken down the brutal and personal path 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. The Darkness II stands out visually with its distinctive graphic noir style, and it is the only first person shooter to feature quad-wielding: the ability to simultaneously utilize four different weapons (2 weapons and Jackie's Demon Arms). Exact vengeance like no Mafia don before as you explore the true nature of the Darkness. It's been two years since Jackie Estacado used the Darkness to kill the men responsible for his girlfriend's murder. He's been unable to shake the memory of Jenny's death since bottling up his supernatural power and now the Darkness wants out. A sudden, unprovoked attack on Jackie's life heralds the start of a full-scale mob war and opens the door for the Darkness to reemerge. The botched attempt sets Jackie on a journey to hell and worse as he unravels the mystery behind the attack and the motivations of the Darkness itself.
Jax & Daxter Collection (Sony) Rated E to T PS3
The Jak and Daxter Collection features three Jak and Daxter titles - Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Jak II, and Jak 3 - all remastered by Mass Media. With the launch of Jak and Daxter Collection, you'll be able to experience the adventures of Jak and his Daxter in 720p high definition with crisper visuals, smoother gameplay animation and in full stereoscopic 3D. The Jak and Daxter franchise set a benchmark for the platformer genre with its huge environments and gaming freedom. In fact, it holds seven world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008 including the First Seamless 3D World in a Console Game.
Inversion (Namco) PS3, Xbox 360
Take on the role of a young father and husband, Davis Russel, who finds himself thrust into war when his peaceful city is invaded by an unknown enemy. With his daughter missing and conventional weapons and tactics all but useless, this ordinary cop and his partner Leo Delgado will rise up to heed the call of duty, master the fundamental forces of gravity and save the world.
The Adventures of Tintin (Ubisoft) Rated E PS3
The Adventures of Tintin is based upon the recent big screen film and the long-running comic book adventures of the Belgian artist Herge'. As with the comics and film, it follows the adventures of the young reporter Tintin and his dog Snowy, as they travel the globe unraveling the mystery of a model ship called “The Unicorn” and the hidden scroll inside that will lead to a fabulous treasure. But there are scores of bad guys after the treasure as well.
There are a number of different gameplay elements in Tintin although it’s primarily an action/platformer that also features a good deal of puzzle solving. Most of its play features side-scrolling action where you can switch between Tintin and Snowy. You’ll need to utilize both to get through the game’s progressively tougher levels and enemies. Tintin, for a little guy, is tougher than he looks and he can take down goons much bigger than him with some creative combat moves and also utilize his environment to defeat the bad guys. Tintin can also pilot airplanes and motorcycles. Snowy is capable of picking up the scent of other characters and tracking them down. You can use his smaller size to get into areas where Tintin cannot and Snowy can also scare off other animals with his bark. You can control Captain Haddock as well in certain parts of the game as well as in co-op (among other characters) mode if you want to play with a friend. He’s one of the most colorful characters, offering an almost non-stop barrage of one-liners.
Fans of the film will no doubt be impressed with many of the scenes being played out in the game as well. Tintin has a remarkable amount of charm that captures both the spirit of the film and of the comic strips so well. The characters truly are brought to life with a zeal, even minor characters like the various goons. The cut-scenes are nicely rendered as are Captain Haddock’s flashback sequences as they both add a degree of depth to the game. The environments are exotic and often breathtaking and complemented by a perfectly scored soundtrack.
Sadly though The Adventures of Tintin has some issues that keep it from being as good as it could have been. Despite the variety of locales the game can often move at a snail’s pace. The game’s tempo grinds to a halt far too often. The boss battles are equally tedious and shallow and completely unrewarding. Co-Op and campaign combine for a decent length of gameplay, 10 – 12 hours but it can be a daunting chore to try and get through at times. Grade B-
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