Welcome again to Level Up! The Nintendo 3DS continues to be a major newsmaker as it premiered this past week in Japan. Check out the video below for an exclusive look at what will come in the box. This week I have a review of the chilling Dead Space 2. You know Spring is just around the corner when the new MLB baseball games coming out and we’ve got two out next week with MLB 11: The Show and Major League Baseball 2K11. And next week also features the release of our pick of the week, Dragon Age II.
IN THE NEWS
Nintendo 3DS Now Out in Japan
The 3DS is still a few weeks away from release here in the states but it has released in Japan and if you’re interested in seeing just what comes inside the package check out this video:
3D Mario Game Announced for the 3DS
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata made the news official that a new Mario game is in development for the 3DS. The game is being worked on by the Super Mario Galaxy development team.
Big Changes coming to your Playstation Network Home
Sony has announced the 1.5 version update of the Playstation Home that upgrades Home's physics, graphics, animations, and allows for new, real-time multiplayer games. Multiplayer gaming is apparently a big new focus and the tools will give developers "more control over physics elements, graphics, rendering and animations, which will translate to more realistic and more intricate game experiences."
Panasonic Cancels its Handheld Game System
Less than five months after it was announced Panasonic's handheld videogame unit, The Jungle, has been canceled. No real reason for the decision was provided. In a statement, the company simply said, "Panasonic decided to suspend further development due to changes in the market and in our own strategic direction."
Lucy Lawless Lending Voice to Hunted: Demon’s Forge
Bethesda Softworks has announced that Lucy Lawless, star of “Xena: Warrior Princess”, and “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” will lend her voice to the fantasy action game, Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. Hunted is a fresh take on the classic dungeon crawl experience that delivers the intensity and action of a modern-day shooter. It will be available in North America on June 1st on the Xbox 360 video game and PlayStation3.
Get Your Squinkies With Nintendo DS
Activision and Blip Toys has announced that Squinkies for Nintendo DS will come packaged with four ultra-rare Squinkies. Fans will be able to add to their growing collection of adorable, tiny-sized toys with the exclusive Squinkies pack-in. Not available in the regular toy packs, these special Squinkies will be released only through the video game. Available April 12, purchased games will contain one of two different sets of toys. Each set contains four toys, three visible and one hidden “surprize inside.” Squinkies fans will get the opportunity to add up to eight new characters to their collections. In addition to the exclusive pack-in, specially marked Squinkies toys will include exclusive codes that unlock new content in the videogame, increasing the already evident replay value of the open-ended adventure gameplay.
New This Week
MLB 11: The Show (Sony) Rated E PS3, PS2, PSP
The #1 selling, highest rated baseball franchise is back in MLB® The Show ’11. Experience new ways to play The Show with the NEW PURE Analog controls. Team up in ALL NEW CO-OP play, get called up to the Big Leagues with new and improved Road to the Show features and compete for real world prizes in MLB® The Show’s ALL NEW Challenge of the Week.
Use the DUALSHOCK®3 analog sticks as a new way to experience MLB® The Show
1-4 player CO-OP mode with 2-on 2 online multiplayer
Increase your skills and get called up to The Big Leagues
New Home Run Derby with PlayStation®Move
Photo-realistic player models and stadiums
Major League Baseball 2K11 (2K Sports) Rated E PS3, PSP, PS2, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360
Take yourself out to the ballgame or, perhaps, you want to stay indoors. MLB 2K11 shifts baseball from a spectator sport and places you inside the game. You're the team boss and you're responsible for selecting players and figuring strategies to get to and win the World Series. If you wish, you can bat, pitch, and field. With greater AI and graphics, you're really beyond a virtual ballgame. You're at the stadium but as an insider. Major League Baseball 2K11 is your ticket to a season of fun and excitement. The groundbreaking $1 Million Perfect Came Challenge is back. Featuring Right Stick pitching & hitting and a revamped fielding system, MLB 2K11 is the only baseball game deep enough to put $1 million on the line. Perfect YOUR game.
Dynamic Player Ratings - Watch your favorite MLB pitcher strike out the side in a real game, then watch his stats improve in your game. Dynamic Player Ratings update daily in MLB Today, Franchise, and My Player
Revamped Fielding System - Completely revamped fielding system, featuring improved AI, throwing meters and landing indicators to give you more control to run down a fly ball or make the play at the plate.
My Player mode - Guide your player through the Minor Leagues and into the history books with an improved My Player mode.
MLB Today - Stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in Major League Baseball, with timely play-by-play commentary and stat overlays pulled from real life news and box scores.
Total Control Pitching & Hitting - The battle at the plate comes to life in the palms of your hands. Paint the corners with pinpoint accuracy on the mound, and then fight off nasty sliders until you get the pitch you're looking for at the plate.
Yoostar 2: In The Movies (Yoostar Entertainment) Rated T Xbox 360, PS3
Yoostar2 brings the magic and fun of Hollywood to your living room. Using your Kinect for Xbox 360 or your PlaystationEye, you can insert yourself into famous movie and TV scenes, starring alongside or in place of your favorite actors. Perform the lines as written, or improvise and deliver your own improvisation. After you've finished, Yoostar scores your performance, and you can upload your scene to Yoostar2's in-game social portal, PS Network, Xbox 360 Live, Yoostar.com and Facebook. Yoostar2 is a fantastic party game that will appeal to both hardcore and casual players. Yoostar2 comes with 50 Movie Scenes, 10 Hollywood Sets and 20 Video Backgrounds, with hundreds more scenes available for purchase and download in the online store. The Yoostar2 library includes: Current hits like The Hangover, Tropic Thunder, Meet The Fockers, 300 and Kick Ass; Modern classics like “The Godfather” and “Rocky”; All-time classics like “Casablanca,” and “The Wizard of Oz”; Popular TV shows such as “ Star Trek”, “ Mad Men”, and “CSI”. Over 1,200 actors are already on board with Yoostar, including superstars like Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Gerard Butler, Cameron Diaz, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many more.
Phantom Brave: Heroes of the Hermuda Triangle (NIS America) Rated T PSP
Phantom Brave revolutionized the strategy RPG genre with its unique freeâroaming battle fields and innovative “CONFINE” unit summoning system. Now, Phantom Brave comes to PSP with enhancements, added features and content, and an expanded story. Colorful, witty, and addictively challenging, Phantom Brave delivers incredibly intricate, finely âbalanced strategic gameplay that compliments a fantastical tale of courage and duty. Already one of the highest reviewed strategy RPGs of allâtime, this PSP release is certain to win over a whole new host of fans!
The $1,000,000 Pyramid (UBI Soft) Rated E Nintendo Wii
The $1,000,000 Pyramid raises the stakes on the classic multiple Emmy-award winning TV game show that pits duo against duo in a bid to reach the coveted Winner's Circle. The original series, The $10,000 Pyramid, debuted in 1973 and spawned seven subsequent Pyramid series. Game play is addictively simple! Pick from six categories on the game board, and guess a series of words or phrases from your chosen theme as described by your team mate. Score more points than your opponent's team after three rounds to access the Winner's Circle for a chance to be the grand winner.
Atari's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (Atari) Rated E Nintendo DS
Warriors: Legends of Troy (Tecmo) Rate M PS3, Xbox 360
In Warriors: Legends of Troy, two great armies clash not over home and country, but for the love of a single woman. The fates of these civilizations now stand upon the razor's edge. 3000 years ago, a poet sang of heroes strong enough to stand alone against an army. For love, they sailed the world. For family, they made the greatest sacrifices. For honor, they stood and faced the will of gods, and fought a war which shook the earth. In the age when Zeus Almighty ruled over immortals and men, what begins as a truce between two cities quickly erupts into a massive war that will shake the very foundations of Olympus.
Superstars V8 Next Challenge (Deep Silver) Rated E PS3
Superstars ® V8 Next Challenge puts you in the driver's seat of the most prestigious high-power production class cars from the official Superstars® Series and takes you through some of the most beautiful tracks Italy and Europe have to offer! Combine the thrill of racing with gorgeous scenery and a variety of licensed Touring cars and you have the ultimate extreme V8 driving experience. Superstars® V8 Next Challenge also delivers pure realism on every track. Feel exactly how a 2 ton car slides through a tight turn on the Kyalami track; change your gear ratios to get you off the starting line faster or to give you more power on the straightaway, fine tune your suspension to deal with the mixed layout of Vallelunga.
Is it raining? Better make sure your engine is tuned accordingly and your tires are swapped. Pit yourself against the greatest racers currently burning up the track: Multiple Championship winner Gianni Morbidelli in his BMW M3 E90, Roberto Benedetti in his Cadillac CST-V, Andrea Chiesa in his Maserati Quattroporte and many others! If you're a racing fan with a taste for the finer things in life or a racer looking for a new thrill, Superstars® V8 Next Challenge delivers it all. The question is, are you up to the challenge?
LEVEL UP’S HOT PICK OF THE WEEK
Dragon Age II (Electronic Arts) Rated T PS3, Xbox 360
Dragon Age II is a single player role-playing game (RPG) for play on the PlayStation 3. Epic sequel to the BioWare developed 2009 Game of the Year, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II continues the adventure with a new hero, Hawke, and utilizes the choices made by the player to affect a story that spans ten years worth of time in-game. Additional game features include: the ability to choose your character's class and sex, a new cinematic in-game experience, a nonlinear narrative and the ability to import saved information from earlier Dragon Age games.
Embark on an all-new adventure spread across a ten-year span of years with an all-new hero in the multiple award-winning Dragon Age saga. In Dragon Age II you are Hawke, said to have been one of the few to survive the destruction of your homeland. Forced to fight for survival, you gathered the deadliest of allies, amassed fame and fortune and sealed your place in history, eventually becoming in effect a legend in your own time. But legends are all in the telling.
Dragon Age II utilizes a nonlinear narrative, taking the form of a story-within-a-story that hinges upon your exploits as told by the storyteller, Varick. Yet like any good storyteller, Varick tends to exaggerate from time to time. When questioned on events related to Hawke, Varick may present a different scenario in which Hawke's exploits play out. It is within these replays that the decisions of the players hold sway, as their particular versions of Hawke relive these events. Is the player's particular version of Hawke, male or female? A warrior, a rogue, or a mage? Is Hawke good-natured or something less than a salt-of-the-Earth type? Is romance in the air amongst characters he/she associates with? These choices are all the player's to make and each affect the the outcome of the story at all levels.
Dead Space 2 (Electronic Arts) Rated M Reviewed on the PS3
I’ll be quite honest…few videogames have ever really scared me and Dead Space 2 is one of them. With visceral and haunting visuals, a musical score that amps up the tension, and an engrossing storyline, Dead Space 2 is the best survival horror game since the first Silent Hill. It all kicks off with a terrifying cinematic opening that immediately draws you in with a story that is like Aliens meets Night of the Living Dead.
Isaac Clarke returns as the hero of the story with three years having passed between the events last seen in Dead Space. He awakens in a hospital on the space station called “the Sprawl” with little memory of the past few years but there’s little time for reflection as he soon comes under attack again by the Necromorphs, human corpses that have been re-animated by an alien organism. Soon the entire station is under attack by the creatures as Isaac battles his way through the mammoth space station, exploring, solving puzzles as to the reason for the Necromorph outbreak, killing every Necromorph he encounters, and locating the Maker, the source of the horrors.
Controlling Issac Is smooth as silk with pin-point responsiveness. Whether you are blasting away with a variety of weapons, using your telekinesis powers, or using your navigational guide, it’s all a snap to do. It’s a rush to impale a Necromorph against a wall with the javelin gun! The Necromorphs themselves are as terrifying as ever and there are several new types in the game that continue to challenge the player’s nerve. These include “The Pack” which are like demonic babies that threaten to overwhelm you with their numbers. Then there are the Stalkers which, as their name implies, are a highly intelligent form of Necromorph that likes to surprise attack you when your back is turned.
Dead Space 2 isn’t merely a brainless shooter…you’ll be provided with a number of puzzle challenges in the game that while they are not overly difficult, they change up the pace from the shooting elements quite nicely. You’ll also need to explore to find upgrades for your weapons and telekinesis ability. Some of the missions tend to be a bit repetitive and it’s not as open-ended as you might like as it gives you the distinct idea you’re being led along but that’s a minor complaint.
The campaign mode (on normal difficulty setting) should take 10 – 15 hours to complete, depending upon how much time you explore the Sprawl versus getting through the various objectives as soon as possible. New Game Plus lets you replay the story with all of your gear (in order to upgrade everything and unlock even more armor), or you can attempt the Hard Core mode that takes away checkpoints and only allows for three saves during the entire campaign.
Multi-player offers five different maps and pits two teams against each other…one team playing as humans who have specific objectives to achieve and the other playing as Necromorphs whose lone goal is to stop the humans.
Dead Space 2 exudes chilling atmosphere but also boasts incredible gameplay and stunning visuals. Set the mood just right by turning out the lights to play. As a bonus, the Limted Edition exclusively for the PS3 includes the Dead Space Extraction scenario.
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