Friday, June 29, 2012

Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut Mini-Review

Guess who is back for another round with the Reapers? Commander John Shepard takes another shot at finishing off the galaxies worse enemy, only this time we actually get to see more of what happens after all the death and destruction, instead of some flashing lights and a Buzz Aldrin voice over. Bioware released the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut DLC for free on June 26, and I decided to pop in the game to see what’s changed. If you haven’t played the Mass Effect Series, or don’t know the ending yet, you’re out of luck. Spoiler Alert: I will mention parts of the previous ending, and the new one. If you wondering whether you should read on, first read my review of Mass Effect3, and then play the game. I promise you will enjoy it.
So with the extended cut, each main ending (the choice to destroy the Reapers, control them, or synthesize all synthetic and organic life to form new DNA) receives an additional 8-13 minutes of extended cinematics and dialogue. There is also a fourth choice that is a great nod to the fans wish for the ability to stick it to the Reapers. I won’t tell you how to get it but it is pretty easy to figure out once you gain the ability to move. Each ending still shows Joker flying the Normandy as fast as he can away from the giant colored ball of light of your choice. You also still land on some planet and the Mass Effect Relays are still destroyed. With the DLC, the extended cut adds in more scenes that provide a lot of context to the endings and what happens after the Reaper battle.
Now there’s added scenes that show the Admiral ordering all ships to get the heck out because Shepard fired off the Crucible, and the Normandy actually taking off after “crash landing”, implying that life goes on and the Normandy crew aren’t stranded somewhere. The new scenes are mostly still frames of artwork with a voice over, talking about how they move on, or how each species rebuilds and has peace with other species. Each of the three choices gives you a different voice over and a few snapshots that are unique to that choice. I would feel bad if I actually went into details about the endings, but if you feel compelled to watch them, G4 has each extended endingfrom start to finish.
Personally I am exceptionally satisfied with the extended endings. I was not as rage-induced as other people were in regards to the original endings, but these extended cut scenes definitely gave some much appreciated context and an epilogue of sorts that let me feel happy about finishing the game. I hope this kind of post-production-ending editing is a unique occurrence, because I would be concerned if people can complain loud enough and get the ending to the next Call of Duty changed. Either way the fact that Bioware listened to the fans and released this for free says a lot about their commitment to not only artistic vision but their ability to admit their wrongs and work to fix them. If you go back and play through it again, I suggest taking the synthesis route. It is extremely satisfying if you played the game with a high Paragon Score.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lollipop Chainsaw Review

In a sandbox world, where you can do anything, everything, and possibly nothing, linear time seems not to exist. I can spend 12 hours in GTA IV and not even realize I have done nothing productive. Even in a game like Diablo 3, there is a certain amount of static time where you can literally do nothing to advance the story. As many games use this open world/linear story hybrid, it seems like a common consensus that doing otherwise would be bad in some way. Suda 51’s Lollipop Chainsaw decides to take you on a hilarious journey through the perspective of an 18 year old, scantily-clad cheerleading zombie hunter. Yes, a big-breasted, high school cheerleader and zombie hunter. Is it worth the $60 investment? Let’s find out.

Keeping tradition with unique characters, Suda 51, the company responsible for games like No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned, followed the zombie trend with their own unique flair. With zombies being added to many recent games that don’t really need them, Lollipop Chainsaw emphasizes the characters and the dialogue. Juliet, the main character, starts off her birthday by chopping off her boyfriend’s head, turning him into a talking dialogue machine to hang on her hip. Coming from a long line of zombie hunters, Juliet uses her bedazzled chainsaw to chop off zombie heads while smiling and saying things like “OMFG.” The ridiculousness of that scenario is only a small portion of the hilarious antics in this game.

Everything is over the top in Lollipop Chainsaw. Suda 51 let everything loose: The characters regularly spout vulgar obscenities, the levels go from a high school to a cathedral, and her town is more or less infected with a plague from hell that turns everybody into zombies. The dialogue and cutscenes are all wacky and exaggerated, but in a good way. Everything sets up the fact that, yes, this is a game where you are a chainsaw wielding cheerleader wearing skimpy clothes saying hilarious things for 9-10 hours. Even the bosses are silly, with different themed zombies like a rock n’ roll zombie. The story itself isn’t the greatest. It has a usual defeat the bad guy to make life all puppies and sunshine, and it seems a little off in this setting. There are a lot of cutscenes that are more or less fillers for advancing through an area and are usually pretty funny, but the main cutscenes between the levels feel slightly out of place, dealing out a more serious tone. When I’m playing through the levels smiling and laughing at the tongue-in-cheek dialogue, I expected the bigger CGI cutscenes to be more of the same. Instead, I got a serious, dramatic cutscene that didn’t really fit the character of the game.

While some people might get offended by the games use of stereotypes, vulgar dialogue, and sexual innuendo, I found it hilarious. The fact that not too many games take that kind of risk makes this game a rarity when they tell a voice actor to say things like “What the d!#k?” When the story falls a little short, every small piece of dialogue, from Juliet talking to her boyfriend’s disembodied head to zombies shouting obscenities, makes up for it. Although I was disappointed in the length of the game, I feel like Suda made the right choice creating a 5-7 hour long story. If it went on any longer, all the gimmicks and characters would get stale and boring. Luckily, the gameplay is fun and engaging, with enough replay value to make going through the story again worth it.

Like most linear action games, the bulk of the gameplay comes from killing lots of enemies with a lot of cool moves. In Lollipop Chainsaw, Juliet collects silver and gold medals which can be used in the shops located in each level. The shop lets you use the gold medals to buy more moves and upgrades to Juliet’s strength, health, homing distance, and recovery time. The silver medals are used to buy new outfits, MP3s to play on your playlist, and concept art for the levels and characters. Since there is a lot of stuff to buy, the replay value is mostly derived from playing the game over and over again on harder difficulties. Instead of starting a brand new game from scratch, you can just go back and replay each level to get more coins, buy more stuff, and kill more zombies. This kind of process to add replay value seems a little old-school compared to what other games are offering in terms of replayability. Aside from the aesthetic rewards like outfits and music, the various upgrades and moves available for purchase are worth going through at least a second playthrough. Since you keep your upgrades and moves when moving on to higher difficulties, it is useful to invest in them early. While there is technically a ”Good” and “Bad” ending, the only difference is about 12 seconds at the very end, so all that’s left after your first playthrough is better moves, more skimpy outfits, and cool music.

The soundtrack in this game is something to note. As you progress, you collect mp3s and have the ability to form a playlist from your favorite picks throughout the game. With the music selection varying from Metal in the form of Five Finger Death Punch to dubstep and classic 80’s music, it is really fun to just listen to your five favorite tracks while slicing zombies in half. Unfortunately, your ability to change the music and use your playlist is only active in certain areas. Most of the time your playlist will be active, but it seems counter-intuitive to give the player the ability to change the music, then take it away because you’re about to do something important, or for no reason at all. Another fun collectible is the zombies themselves. Throughout the game you’ll have to fight mini-bosses with proper names like Carl or Daisy. After you defeat them you can access their “Profile” in your collection menu for a funny blurb about the zombie itself. Since certain zombies only appear in certain areas, and on certain difficulties, added replay incentive lets you take the opportunity to go another round with your bedazzled chainsaw.

Overall, the actual combat is average. Unlocking new moves is fun and some are really satisfying to pull off, but Juliet can’t dodge a leaf falling on her head and pulling off some of the more complex combos can be a hit-and-miss affair when surrounded by enemies. Thankfully you can still laugh at it when Juliet can use her boyfriend for various tasks, like shooting his head at zombies or putting his head on a zombie to destroy boulders and dance like he’s at a talent show. I wish I could do more than just swing at zombies with a chainsaw or pom-poms. By the end of your first playthrough, you’ve set up the best moves bought so far and just repeat the same attacks over and over again to get to the next cutscene. A little variety is thrown in when your chainsaw turns into a shotgun, but even that gets pretty stale when the flashing neon signs tell you when to use it, or you just sit back and shoot at zombies with ease.

I was surprised to find any multiplayer aspect at all, given that the story is short and the game itself does a good job of pushing your through it at a brisk pace. The multiplayer pretty much is just leaderboards, letting you brag about how fast you finished the game or how high your score was for a certain level. Each area completion comes with a score, reminiscent of Bayonetta, and that score can be put up on the online leaderboards. Time attack and other modes are more or less add-ons since the game really doesn’t need them. It is a nice addition and available for people to use. However, I wish that the time spent on developing this multiplayer would have been instead used to focus on possibly more areas, different endings, or improving the combat system somehow.

Lollipop Chainsaw had me more than once shouting “Are you serious?” at the sheer absurdity of the game. I’m glad I played it, because it serves a good purpose just being silly every once in a while. If you enjoy a linear story like Shadows of the Damned or No More Heroes, then I would suggest picking this game up, but not at full price. In the end, there just isn’t enough in this game to warrant a $60 price tag. I would suggest waiting a month or two when the game to a lower price. Trust me, the game isn’t going anywhere, and you’re not missing out on the next Uncharted. But if you have a random itch for something silly, scratch it by picking up Lollipop Chainsaw.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut to be released June 26th

Yes, you read that correctly.  The long awaited Mass Effect 3 free DLC to build upon the controversial ending of the hit game Mass Effect 3 is finally getting its world wide release on all platforms Tuesday, June 26th.

This extension is said to build upon many (if not all) of the unanswered questions left open with the original ending.  After countless petitions and outcries for a change in the ending, BioWare has stepped up to the plate and answered the public's call.  They've promised to have a full voice acted and animated experience added to the ending to answer the important questions while still maintaining the artistic integrity of the original ending.

According to BioWare, "Through additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes, the Extended Cut will include deeper insight to Commander Shephard's journey based on player choices during the war against the Reapers."

For more information on the upcoming DLC, readers can peruse the official FAQ that BioWare has provided, as well as listen in on a recorded podcast about the making of and involvement in the new Extended Cut.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 2012 Podcast

This month, Colby, Devin, and Casey discuss E3, handheld console games, Xbox 720, and Microsoft's big moves with Windows 8.

Subscribe to us in iTunes
Or download here directly

Friday, June 22, 2012

3DS XL Announced and More Games at Nintendo Direct Conference

As per usual Nintendo fashion, a Nintendo Direct Press Conference was streamed live last night. Instead of making one huge press conference at E3, Nintendo decided to make 3 smaller ones, effectively limiting the deluge of information to a slow, steady drip. First, the big E3 Press Conference covered a lot of Wii U news. Then there was the Nintendo 3DS Software Showcase, and now the Nintendo Direct Press Conferences announces both Wii U and 3DS games and new hardware. To see the presser in full, click the Read More button below.

The biggest hardware announcement is that the Nintendo 3DS XL is finally official. With twice the screen size, the 3DS XL looks to follow the DSi XL in giving the handheld an upgrade in size and battery life. This upgraded 3DS, featuring 90% more screen real estate, will launch August 19 for $199.99, bundled with a 4Gb SD card. Coincidentally that is the same day New Super Mario Bros. 2 is released.

A new 3DS was not all Reggie had in store for us, as a bevy of 3DS titles have been officially announced, or more officially announced in some cases. For starters, they announced that both the new Professor Layton, trailer after the jump, and Fire Emblem games are getting a port to America, and they will be receiving DLC in the forms of more puzzles and new storylines in the future post-release.

Also, Reggie talked about Pokémon Black&White version 2 along with the Nintendo E-Shop exclusives, Dream Radar and Pokedex 3D Pro. These apps will tie into the new Pokemon games, allowing you to take pictures of Pokémon in real life (dolls, toys, etc.) and capture them to use in the game, as well as use your room as a virtual hunting ground for rare Pokémon.

For even more gaming goodness, Nintendo announced a summer virtual console special, where you can buy older virtual console games for cheap prices like $2.99. They're calling it Nintendo 8-bit Summer. Starting with Super Mario Land, the 3DS virtual console special will release 2 new games for the 3DS each week, with classic games like the original Legend of Zelda, and Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. To see the preview video, hit Read More below.

In Wii U news, Nintendo is teaming up with Namco Bandai Studios to make the officially announced next Super Smash Bros. This title will also feature a 3DS version of the game, though no word on how they will interact. And Nintendo is releasing the Kirby Dream Collection: Special Edition for Kirby’s 20th birthday. This looks to have 6, or more, classic Kirby games.

Well with all the big news coming from Nintendo I can’t wait to see what else they release in terms of information and details. Although I do wish they had pushed more of this news out at E3. Their lackluster performance at the latest gaming convention left many wondering why there was not more news. I suppose we now know why.

Either way this is all exciting news, though I am confused as to why Nintendo chose to release a second 3DS console without two circle pads. It seems obvious enough that they need it with their heavy push of the circle pad, so why not include it in the redesign? Perhaps in the next handheld refresh. No word on if we'll also be seeing a circle pad XL, but it would not surprise me in the slightest.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

AristoGamer June 2012 Podcast

It's that time of the month again, lads and lasses. The AristoGamer podcast is tonight! Topics will include:
  • E3 postmortem (after we've had the chance to calm down)
  • Microsoft Surface and Gaming
  • Upcoming titles
  • Xbox 720 leak
  • Gaming with Google Glasses
How to can download and use Teamspeak

Date: Tuesday, June 20

Time: 7:00pm Central Time

Gravity Rush Review

I’ve been excited about Gravity Rush since it was revealed as Gravity Daze. Though the name changed outside of Japan, the same intriguing elements remained intact. It’s billed as a fresh new platformer IP with interesting gameplay and art on the latest handheld gaming console. Since viewing the trailer, I have been smitten with the idea of playing this game, and I finally got my chance this month. Since entering the strange world Gravity Rush opened up to me, I’ve completed my journey and have come out the other side victorious. Has the Vita found a great new IP, or have I once again been hoodwinked into buying a piece of shovelware by a great trailer?

In Gravity Rush, you take control of Kat, a girl who has forgotten her past and landed in a strange city in the clouds named Hekesville. Her interdimensional cat, Dusty, allows her to shift her personal gravity, permitting her to fly across the city, pick up objects with her powers, and make Newton spin in his grave. With the push of a button, gravity is changed from its normal to any direction you desire, allowing you to walk on buildings, fly through the air, or dive-bomb on enemies. Her mission is to help the citizens of her adopted metropolis while strange creatures known as the Nevi stand to destroy what she has come to call home. At its core, this is a game based on shifting gravity and building around that idea. This inside-out development scheme affects two major game elements heavily. First off, allowing Kat to switch her gravity to drop in any direction, and thereby stand on any side of a given object, means that the designers had to draw out everything, from the tops of buildings, to the underbelly of the city, to every facade of the obscure objects you can barely see in the distance. And don’t think Sony cut corners, choosing to scale down the size and scope of the city to make their jobs easier. Gravity Rush has more attention to detail in one city than I’ve seen in a great number AAA titles of recent. 

To give you an example, I once found myself wandering down an alley to be surprised by a hotdog stand in the corner, nestled behind a staircase. Why was it there? I suppose the store owner wanted to open shop there. There is no reason beyond that. No missions take place there, no collectables are to be had, and no part of the narrative touches it. This area could have been, and likely was, skipped over by most players, but it was still there. The designers could have continued the flat brick wall, but they instead decided to add in a shop. That may not seem significant, but it shows how much the developers cared about creating a world that was not only believable, but explorable and beautiful; it’s an environment that feels like a place people live, not one set forth to utilize to accomplish missions. And not all of the locations are the same. Every borough of the city has its own personality, landscape, and character. Going to any one of these areas brings something new to my attention I hadn’t seen before, and I couldn’t enjoy that more. I thoroughly enjoy the world of Gravity Rush, and haven’t had this much fun exploring a sandbox environment since GTA IV.

The second element the gravity shifting affects is combat, though not as heavily as you may think. While it’s true that you can attack enemies from any position, be it on a surface or in the air, it all feels relatively standard. Kat can kick enemies while on the ground, perform a flying kick in the air, and has a few special attacks that she earns throughout the game. The combat would be excellent and fun if not for a few fatal flaws—no targeting system is in place and the camera angles cannot make up for that. In a game in which disorientation is your default state of being, having some sort of targeting system would aid in not only finding enemies, but continuing to attack them. I found myself being hurt far more often than I care to mention partially because of bad camera angles that would not correct themselves in the heat of battle, or because I was trying to kick a specific target and missing my mark. 

The frustration that is the combat system is at the core of my woes with this game.  The moves themselves aren’t that special, and I would have liked to experiment with more interesting mechanics since Kat is a gravity shifter. I feel that her abilities were not as explored in combat as I would have liked. Even if the move-set had lived up to its fullest potential, the maddening camera angles and rarity of hitting an enemy when using a jumping kick is enough to drive one to drink. Note for future titles, Sony, just having a simple target system using the D-pad or something similar would have made this a 10/10 for me. And yes, it seems there will be future titles, based on the story, ending, and hidden plot details.

It may seem strange to talk in length about the gameplay before the story, but I think Gravity Rush‘s strengths lie in its physics and level design, making the story take a backseat; and it shows. The story in this game is an odd one. Since Kat has amnesia, the player is finding out things about the city and protagonist as she herself does. This sense of “finding ones bearings” does a fantastic job of sucking the player into the world and giving Kat a chance to show her personality through her interpersonal relationships and interaction with the people around her. Though there are only a few supporting characters, they also hold the player’s interest quite well. The narrative, on the other hand, is a bit flimsy. Kat meets a man named Gade who is the Creator of the world. He takes her into Rift planes to get back pieces of the city lost to the increasing gravity storms while some sinister plot is being hatched in Hekesville. This high level narrative is interesting, but most of the interactions with people to get to those points are superfluous and feel like filler. 

There’s not much plot progression in these times and the only real point to it seems to be to characterize Kat and allow the player to explore. I don’t strongly oppose this, but I would have liked the story to mirror the level of detail of the environment. Perhaps on the next go-round we will see a deeper exploration of the plot and less fetch quests, but it seems Sony didn’t quite hit the mark on this one.

The art made me almost forget about the silly story, though, as it’s whimsical and incredibly stylish. It reminds me of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker in its cel-shading, but it felt far more detailed. The only problem with a mixture of high details and this art style is that sometimes bloom or color bleed tends to make things a bit muddy, and when your primary colors are red, yellow, and brown, the effect is an area that is lifeless and a bit difficult to focus on.

Luckily, each borough of Hekesville has its own color pallet, setting all four of them apart from one another. This change in color bases has the effect of breathing life into every new area Kat visits. The art extends beyond just the gameplay though, as some cutscenes are done in a comic book style, utilizing panels to tell the story. This could have had the potential to suck me out of the game and lose interest, but Sony implemented a feature that made me love these sequences—tilt control. With each panel of the comic, you need only tilt the Vita left or right to see a little bit more of what’s happening in the panel, behind its borders. The objects in the panel move according to how close to the camera they are, providing a nifty pseudo-3D feel. These sequences also allow the Vita to be turned on its side to see more of the comic up and down, and the comic seemed to adhere to gravity as no matter how you twisted the Vita about, the comic remained stationary with respect to the player’s eyes. I thought I would get bored of this after a few cut scenes, but it never ceased to make me smile to move my Vita around like a madman.

Just a Mario has coins, Link has Rupees, and Jak has Precursor Orbs, so does Kat have gems. Gems come in many sizes and values and are used to level up Kat’s abilities, health, and attacks. You can acquire these through exploration of the city, or completing time attack challenges. New time attack challenges are revealed every time Kat fixes something in the city. With every small act of kindness from restarting the Ferris wheel to making the trains work again, you gain access to more challenges and reputation with the citizens, which increases your level cap. There aren’t many of these side quests about, which I believe is a good thing. Sony struck a delicate balance with the side quest to main story ratio, as I never felt like I was grinding, nor like I had too much work to do in one area to progress the story and move on.

Verdict: The Vita has not been out for long, but already Gravity Rush has taken the crown of best Vita game yet, featuring exciting gameplay with fun characters and an interesting, though admittedly sparse, story. Though the combat could use an overhaul, its strengths in exploration, details, and characterization more than make me forgive its shortcomings. If you like platformer titles, anime, or simply own a Vita, Gravity Rush is a must buy. Even if you’re on the fence about investing in the new portable console, this title should be more than enough to push you over the edge.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Xbox 720 leak

Microsoft's attempt at keeping the next generation Xbox console a secret has taken a huge hit with a freshly leaked document giving details towards the company's plans, including the SmartGlass rumors with Windows 8.

The Xbox 720 has confirmed that it will include a Blu-ray player, 3D output (with glasses), and sensor peripheral support (built in Kinect anyone?).  The console is said to have a performance increase approximately six times more powerful than the current Xbox console and be able to handle "always being on", even with the true 1080p HD output and/or 3D output.  In more specific hardware looks, Microsoft seems to be debating between 6 or 8 ARM or x86 cores, supposedly clocked at about 2GHz each, with 4GB of DDR4 memory and 3 PPC cores clocked at about 3.2GHz in order to provide proper backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. This matches up roughly with the leaks we reported on earlier in the year. That enough numbers for ya?

Along with this new information for the Xbox 720, Microsoft also laid out some plans for the future "upgrade" towards Kinect.  This Kinect 2 is said to make major improvements towards accuracy, imaging, voice recognition, dedicated hardware processing, and even to include 4-player tracking support.  Along with this, the "Fortaleza" glasses are to make an appearance and are rumored to be very similar to Google's Project Glass reality glasses, incorporating augmented reality and may include Wi-Fi and/or 4G capabilities.  The glasses were marked for a later release from the future console but should prove to be rather interesting once they are confirmed.

Update: Microsoft has officially removed the leaked document from Scribd at the request of an international law firm that represents Microsoft. Whoops! Looks like they didn't all those details reported quite yet.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Xbox Everywhere

The day draws near when I can take my phone, turn on my Xbox 360, play a game, and then continue the social interaction via a Facebook game. For the past few years connectivity has been pushed into mobile devices so that they are used in conjunction with home electronics. Windows has a plethora of sync and remote access functions for phones and laptops. Windows Phones also have access to Xbox Live, with the ability to purchase games and view content. Now Android devices get a chance at nifty remote control features too.

With the Android OS release of the My Xbox App, your Android phone can act as a remote for moving through your Xbox Home Menu. The iOS version was released some time ago but received a large update with the Android release, fixing bugs and turning your iOS device into a remote control for your 360. While you can’t turn the 360 on or view content, your iPhome/iPad can serve as a remote for navigating menus and as a DVD remote with pause, playback, rewind, and fast forward controls. Last week at E3, Microsoft announced Smartglass, which is, in time, supposed to turn your smartphone/tablet into a tool that can be used while sitting down in front of your TV. The Android device release, and iOS update, is definitely a step in that direction, giving you more control via mobile devices that would otherwise be sitting on a desk or in a pocket.

While it does seem slightly redundant when most of the control and navigation offered is available through a controller or a Kinect if you have one, the free app and the expansion onto Android devices is a good option for those who don’t have over $100 to spend on a Kinect. Also, the DVD playback functionality, as well as the ability to navigate menus, can be more convenient if you’re watching a movie or multitasking in some way and don’t exactly have two free hands to use an Xbox 360 controller. I’ll definitely download the free app and give it a try, since it’s fairly certain that the app will be updated to add more controls.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Business of Fun

It seems that no matter how much gaming news we receive, it is never enough. Gamers hear about possible specs for a new console and suddenly expect an announcement releasing all the info that Microsoft and Sony have tried their best to keep secret for however many years said new system has been in development. E3 rolls around and we see a plethora of new games that are exciting and well worth the $60 price tag, yet we want more. Gamers everywhere are criticizing the lack of original titles and Nintendo not announcing a Zelda game. We are ranting online about when Microsoft got Usher to dance on stage, and some of us almost choked on our Red Bull when Flo-Rida rapped on-stage for the Ubisoft press conference. In my opinion, games are supposed to be, above anything else, fun, but lately I’ve noticed a lot more business and a lot less fun.

In the current market, there are two main parts that generally make up where a game comes from: the developers and the publishers. While many publishers are developers, (EA, Ubisoft, even Nintendo) most games made by a publisher come from development teams that are contracted through the publisher to make a certain game. Take the original Halo as an example: Bungie is the development team behind the Halo franchise, and Microsoft invested money into the game expecting a return on the investment. At the moment, that’s how the majority of games are made: A publishing company like Activision invests in the creation of Modern Warfare, and Infinity Ward gets paid to make a game, as well as a portion of the sales and revenue. Unfortunately this relationship isn’t always mutually beneficial, or smooth and friendly.

Unlike game developers, who are paid money upfront to make a game, a publisher’s result is directly related to their bottom line. Because of that, especially in this economic turbulence, many Publishers are taking less risk. To a game publisher, risk means a new IP, or Intellectual Property, that might not guarantee the highest return on investment.  That’s part of why at E3 last week, we saw Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Dead Space 3, Halo 4, and the 4th game in the Gears of War franchise with very few original IPs. It’s unfortunate that the current success of a video game is determined by the amount of money is made, since I’d like to think that a game is successful if people think it is fun to play.  Development teams, which are typically a little more creative and more likely to think in terms of quality and fun, can clash with the business-minded Publishing Companies.

Imagine being a part of a dev team making a new game with EA. You want to make sure the game is as complete and as fun as possible. Whether that translates to no bugs or glitches or a lack of multiplayer because your game is a single player experience, you want to spend as much time as you can making a game with the highest quality. Unfortunately when EA’s Producer believes that a multiplayer component should be in the game because every game that had one was successful and made X amount of money, you start arguing and fighting over what should and should not be in the game. Concessions have to be made on both sides to make everyone happy and the game isn’t exactly what you wanted it to be. This kind of relationship isn’t unique to video games. Imagine the contracts, arguments, and ideas behind movies and TV shows. When something that is made to entertain us, as well as make a lot of money, it seems that there is always something that is missing or not up to the quality it could have been. Right now, the gaming industry is going though sequels and remakes to keep the money coming. But the games being released, sequels they may be, aren’t bad games.

Assassins Creed 3, Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and Borderlands 2 all look like amazing games. The fact that EA, Microsoft, etc. are making games that are continuations of a franchise is mostly an effect from us paying millions of dollars to play the previous games in the series. Whether that’s through XBOX Live subscriptions to play Modern Warfare 3 with your friends or selling millions of copies of any Halo game on the shelf, Companies look at the numbers and say to themselves “Well since the last Call of Duty game sold millions of copies on its first day, we should make another.” But telling a dev team to make their game that is supposed to be unique and fun like other first person shooters, because it will sell more, is almost silly. At this point it seems to be getting a little too un-original, but is that just fans finding something to complain about, or a legitimate concern?

While looking at this problem, I noticed a few solutions and alternatives. Double Fine received over $3 million dollars from fans who made their wishes known by simply giving Double Fine money to make a point-and-click adventure game. Minecraft has made millions of dollars through word of mouth as a great indie title. One of the best options we as fans have is putting our money where our mouth is. That doesn’t mean we should just not buy games we don’t like, but instead show publishers and developers alike that we would pay money to see something that we enjoy. I think that through using tools like Kickstarter projects or communicating with your friends the games you really liked, we as gamers will be able to really show what we want, and hopefully publishers will listen.

To me, I think the industry right now could use some innovation and original ideas. When I look for original ideas or interesting new concepts, I find them in the digital market, in portable games, and even in Kickstarter. It seems that since larger companies with “AAA” titles releasing every year, the innovation and original concept responsibility is falling into the hands of the smaller, indie dev teams working together to turn an idea into a video game. I think that for now, that’s okay.

If we as gamers want the larger corporations to listen to us when we say we want more innovation or new IPs, then it’s up to us to make them listen. If we are active in developer and publisher forums, invest our own money in projects on Kickstarter, even write letters and emails to the heads at EA, they will listen to us. As fans and consumers, our greatest tool is the ability to communicate with the developers and publishers alike. Tell Miyamoto whether you liked the fact that the last Zelda game had a unique artstyle. Tell him that you wish the next Zelda title was more like Twilight Princess. We as consumers have the ability to help shape the media we consume by taking the initiative to communicate with the creators. In the end we all love to play video games and want more of them, so why not try to be a part of them in some way?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Humble Indie Bundle 5's Record Fundraising

The Humble Indie Bundle 5 has been as big of a success as every other Bundle in the past, allowing people to buy a collection of independent games at a price that you, the buyer, decide to pay, whether it's 1 dollar or 20 dollars.  We are happy to report that this bundle has been the most successful fundraiser yet, raising over $4 million.

Currently the average price paid for the full set of games is $8.37, with this full set to include Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Limbo, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Psychonauts.  Should you choose to pay above the current average, you also receive Bastion, Lone Survivor, Braid, and Super Meat Boy.

With the retail price for all of these games being well over $50, deciding on what you pay to donate to either the Electronic Frontier Foundation or Child's Play is a very tasty deal no game should really pass up (especially if this has already successfully raised over 4 million smackaroos as it is!).

The Humble Indie Bundle 5 still has 3 days left from the time of this publishing so be sure to drop in and drop some dollars for this great collection of independent gaming at

Friday, June 8, 2012

Games, Lawsuits, and Loans Oh My!

Even with all the excitement surrounding E3, I found a few interesting pieces of news that didn’t actually deal with E3 at all. If you want to check out our coverage of the press conferences and the podcast, where we talk about the conferences and our reactions, check it all out here.  When former employees sue their employers and game companies are on the verge of declaring Bankruptcy, eyes start to focus in to see how the events unfold. Recently, 38 studios, the development team behind Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning defaulted on a $75 million dollar loan from the state of Rhode Island and had to lay off their entire staff. If that wasn’t dramatic enough, Activision has paid ex-Infinity Ward developers $42 million. While this looks and smells like a settlement in the ongoing lawsuit between Activision and Modern Warfare creators Vince Zampella and Jason West, it isn’t.

To bring everyone up to speed, Vince Zampella and Jason West created Infinity Ward, and subsequently the popular Modern Warfare franchise, with publisher Activision. When alleged violations of insubordination and breaches of contract surfaced, Activision canned Vince and Jason. Not too long after, the duo filed a suit claiming that Activision had not paid them and their team bonuses that were in the contract for Modern Warfare 2.Not only that, but the suit claimed royalties on all Modern Warfare-branded games. After leaving Activision, West and Zampella announced their move to EA in a partnership to create Respawn Entertainment. Most of the former Infinity Ward team behind the Modern Warfare series moved with them and Activision claimed that West and Zampella were planning to ditch Activision for EA, breaching a contract. Fast forward to now and Activision pays the dev group $42 million, while Jason and Vince are still pushing through with their lawsuit. While a good move by Activision to attempt to make the Infinity Ward group look greedy in front of a jury, West and Zampella are trying to continue with their lawsuit, claiming that the damages in regards to not-paid bonuses and other contractual obligations is much higher than the $42 million. The case will go to trial in front of a jury soon so hopefully we will see a resolution to this dramatic series of events.

In another soap opera worthy tale, 38 Studios may declare bankruptcy due to lack of funds and the inability to pay off a million dollar loan. Baseball player Kurt Schilling created 38 studios and sought to make a good RPG in the form of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. To make an MMO based in the Kingdoms of Amalur universe, Schilling took a loan from the state of Rhode Island to fund the development of the game. Now, 38 Studios reportedly bounced a $1.125 million check to the state of Rhode Island. With the entire staff laid off, the state of 38 Studios and the IP attached to it is unknown. After meetings, and more emergency meetings, no action has yet to be taken. Depending on what happens next, this could be a first for video games where a state has control over an IP and the direction it is developed. If Schilling and 38 Studios declare bankruptcy, then the debt will fall on the shoulders of Rhode Island’s taxpayers, something I’m sure no one wants to see. Either way this is looking to be an interesting series of events to keep an eye out for.

 With things heating up for both 38 Studios and the IW Duo, this summer will be an interesting time to watch how these events unfold.

E3 2012 Podcast

Casey and Colby do a postmortem on E3, discussing who had the best showing, games that were most enticing, and awfulness in the guise of "cool."


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Or download here directly

E3 News Summary: Everything Else

Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance is the latest Metal Gear title from Hideo Kojima. Raiden returns as the main characters and the gameplay is nothing like any previous title in the series. Raiden moves quickly and uses a samurai sword to cut people in half either haphazardly, or precisely in Blade Mode. No word on a release, but it's looking promising.

Dishonored, the sort of steampunk sort of Assassin's creed game with a morality system, is due to be released October 9th for PC, PS3 and 360.

Project P-100 is a launch window title for Wii U. It features Pikmin-like gameplay in which you control a team of heroes fighting off an alien threat. You control the heroes in large group, can absorb citizens to make them super, and control the groups abilities to take down the alien threat.

Jet Set Radio is getting an HD rerelease for PSN, XBLA, and Steam. No word on release, but my inner Dreamcast player is weeping with joy.

Star Wars 1313 has no release date, but looks promising. It puts you in the shoes of a bounty hunter, and features the same CGI motion capture used in the Avengers.

Valve's most recent title, Portal 2, is getting updated for PS3 to include move support and a level pack.

Peter Molyneux, big time promiser and small time deliverer, has revealed his first game with his new studio called Curiosity. In the game, you and everyone else in the world are tapping at a big black cube to reveal what's hidden inside. Peter promises "it's so unbelievably amazing and incredible that we'll have to see if people crack it." I bet it's early 90's internet sensation Dancing Baby.

Studio Ghibli and Level 5's collaboration will finally grace American PS3 owners' systems next year. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch's release date is January 22, 2013 in North America.

Can't wait to get your hands on a new Valve title? Dota 2's online store has officially opened and features over 200 items to choose from, ranging in price from $0.75-$9.99 for everything from weapons to hats and other decorative items. Users can also submit their own items via Steam Workshop in the hopes to see it officially in the game. They are choosing to not sell any of the playable characters, differentiating them from competitors. No word on how the free-to-play model will work yet, but Gabe has promised to reward players who help the community.

American McGee's studio has published two free to play titles, Crazy Fairies, BigHead BASH, with a third in the works called Akaniero. Crazy Fairies is a multiplayer online FTP title that plays similarly to Worms. BigHead BASH is a deathmatch style multiplayer game in which toys battle to the death, and Akaniero is a twisted take on Little Red Riding Hood.

One title notably missing from E3 2012 is The Last Guardian. When asked about it, SCEA Senior VP of Product Development and Worldwide Studios Scott Rohde answered Polygon by saying, "Fundamentally what we're about is making great games and great experiences and we're not going to ship a game until its ready to be shipped - especially when it's from a team like that."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

E3 News Summary: Nintendo

Nintendo had multiple videos and press conferences this E3, showing off software for Wii U and 3DS and talking about their upcoming console. Here's a quick summary of what was announced:

After fans of the series have been begging for years, it's official. Pikmin 3 is finally official and will be released for the Wii U. You can use the gamepad to keep track of where you are on the map, and they've added a new kind of Pikmin to break objects. Graphics look great, and the gameplay is familiar. Quite lovely.

Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and Amazon Video are all coming to Wii U.

Wii U will support two gamepads.

The Wii U gamepad has an accelerometer and gyroscope for motion controls. It also features a gamepad to turn on and control your TV.

Batman Arkham City Armored Edition is coming to Wii U, featuring new controls to take advantage of the second screen, such as an inventory screen and more accurate remote batarang.

Scribblenauts Unlimited is coming to Wii U, PC, and 3DS. It features more words, backstory on the main character, and an object creator on Wii U and PC.

Games that are coming to Wii U that have few details: Mass Effect 3, Trine 2, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge, Darksiders 2, Alien Colonel Marines.

Wii Fit U is also coming to Wii U, featuring more robust controls, and updates to the gamepad without having to turn on the console.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 will be released August 29th for Nintendo 3DS and can be purchased in full on the eShop.

Paper Mario Sticker Star will be released this holiday season for 3DS and will feature a sticker system for combat, to alter the landscape, and looks to be a heavy component of gameplay.

 Everyone's favorite number 2 brother is back in Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon, to be released this holiday season. You can explore multiple mansions in the game, and its gameplay looks just as good as its predecessor.

Lego City Undercover is a game for Wii U and 3DS in which you take control of a Lego detective to take down criminals by traversing the city, jumping over obstacles and leaping over buildings. It reminds me a lot of Lego Island. 

Just Dance 4 is rumored to be released October 9th for Wii U.

ZombiU is an interactive zombie game where you use motion controls to shake them off, the gamepad to use sonar, and it looks to be the first mature title for Wii U.

Assassin's Creed 3 is also coming to Wii U.

Nintendoland is the Wii U version of Wii Sports, but with better attractions. It builds a virtual theme park based on Nintendo IP (Zelda, Metroid, Mario, etc...). It includes Legend of Zelda Battle Quest, Luigi's Ghost Mansion, and Animal Crossing Sweet Day, DK's Crash Course, and Takamaru's Ninja Castle.

Wii U hardware launches this holiday season.

Castlevania: Lord of Shadow - Mirror of Fate will be released Fall 2012 for Nintendo 3DS. You can edit the map with your stylus. Gameplay looks fast and fluid, like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta.

Disney's Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion will be released this holiday season for 3DS. The things you draw on the bottom screen happen and appear on the top

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance will be released July 31st for the 3DS. The most recent trailer features new worlds and the same fluid combat every Kingdom Hearts (except Chain of Memories) has features.

Transformers, Lego Batman, Rabbids Rumble, and Heroes of Ruin are all coming to the 3DS.

Pokemon Black and White 2 is coming to the 3DS. It also features connectivity to Pokemon Dream Radar and the ability to transfer Pokemon from Radar to Black and White 2.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nintendo Software Showcase E3 2012 Live Blog

Selling Sequels at the Cost of Innovation

If you’ve read my Uncharted 3 review, you’ll notice I did not like it as much as the second, and that was mainly due to the element of surprise being taken away from me. Naughty Dog relied heavily on surprises in action to keep the player engaged, but when you expect them, are they really that surprising? Naughty Dog kept the same formula and the game was less of a success than the previous, which featured much more innovation, but that formula is not true for some companies. In fact, the top selling series at the time all have little changed in them from their first game. Why is it that these games can improve the graphics slightly and release virtually the same game with huge sales numbers, while innovative, fun titles still have small profits and even smaller budgets?

The first question to ask is: Is having a de facto upgrade for each new iteration in a game necessarily a bad thing? That depends entirely on what you look for in a game, and, indeed, in all forms of media. For example, I love Dragonforce. I think their speed metal (dragon metal? DnD metal? Who can keep up with the labels anymore) is some of the most enjoyable music I've listened to in the past five years. Across three albums, Dragonforce has played two songs, maybe three depending on who you're asking--the fast, hard metal song with crazy riffs and the slow ballad song.

 If Dragonforce comes out with a new album tomorrow featuring these same songs in slightly different forms, will I buy it? Yes, I will, because I enjoy those two songs. That's enough for me. This is reason enough for the success of franchises like Madden, FIFA, and Call of Duty. Each of these series has changed a bare minimal of their formula in the past five or so years, and have enjoyed record sales numbers with every release. Why is this? Fans are okay with having something familiar and not having a fixed thing broken with trying too hard. So if you're EA and you've got to release FIFA 13, will you take the risk of adding in first person camera mode, integrating Kinect controls to track your body in the living room? Or add an out-of-game element to Madden including living your life as a football player, drumming up good press, selling yourself, and going through trading yourself to different teams, all while having to deal with the consequences of your actions? No, of course not. Those features would take more time and money than the potential return is worth. For the most part, a Call of Duty fan wants the last Call of Duty with slightly better graphics, new guns, different maps, and maybe one new feature to keep the combat fresh, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Now, if you've finally had your fill of the same meal you've eaten for the last few years, and you'd like to try something new, what is available to you? If you're looking at major titles in 2012 and upcoming games shown in conferences like E3, it's new iterations of established series, which can be daunting to get in to. All of the sudden, if I start in Assassin's Creed III, I have no idea the sun is apparently trying to kill everyone and that aliens exist, I just know it's the American Revolution, I'm some guy named Desmond in the present, and there's this machine called the Animus to link the two settings.

That can oftentimes make a gamer shy away from getting into a new series. I know I wanted to play Mass Effect 3, but did not want to sink the 80+ hours into the previous two just to play the third. Trying to turn to new IP, mainstream releases are nearly useless, as most aren't covered by press because they don't have the money. So let's say you've decided to try an indie title, such as Journey, perhaps. You become immersed in the game, found a partner, trudged and surfed through the desert, sneaked past enemies, and climbed a snowy mountain to the end of the game. Now would 1080p graphics, highly detailed buildings, and realistic textures improve this experience? Perhaps not, but then what would?

In my mind, there are two improvement paradigms in gaming technology, growing vertically and growing horizontally. When a company grows their game vertically, they improve what the game already has, raising its level so to speak; and when a company grows horizontally, they add new features to the game, or acquire new skills. Most AAA titlesAssassin's Creed, Call of Duty, Madden, Uncharted, etc.grow vertically, whereas indie titles tend to scale horizontally, shotgunning features to see what sticks. Catherine is a good example of new IP trying something totally different.

So if vertical growth means more of the same, but better, either by upping the graphics, getting better guns, more maps and so on, what would horizontal growth entail? The answer lies with one of the oldest companies in gamingNintendo.

When the Wii was first announced, Nintendo said it was all about the games. They did not make the graphics that much better and hardly improved their online multiplayer, choosing to instead change how the player interacted with the game. By incorporating technologies that gamers had not used before, Nintendo successfully used technology to scale their business horizontally. They included accelerometers, motion sensing, and a peripheral connector on the controller to change how you play, offering different styles of play for different games. This move was a bold one, but necessary given the paltry success of the Gamecube, and was ultimately a wise decision. The Wii has made Nintendo the most money of any console they've ever produced, has left their competitors fighting for second place this generation, and has successfully put Nintendo in more homes than ever.

Now Nintendo looks to do the same with Wii U, incorporating even more ways to play, but also catching up graphically to the offerings from Sony and Microsoft. In doing this, they ensure more multiplatform games to be ported to their console, while retaining the uniqueness we've come to expect. The same horizontal growth has been shown by Microsoft with Kinect and Sony with Move, though with dramatically less results, arguably due to their comparability to the offerings of Nintendo.

So why is this just isolated to hardware? Why are we on our fifth Assassin's Creed title for home consoles with very little new about it, while being inundated with the same shooter rehashed over and over again with different titles? It really comes down to money and sales figures. When you gross billions by changing guns, adding a new storyline, and changing the multiplayer maps, it's hard to justify spending money on innovation. Even when a well known company tries something new and is successful with it, like Valve with Portal, its gross sales still can't approach that of Call of Duty.

Until gamers can vote for innovation with their dollars instead of ingesting what amounts to fast food games, they will continue to get what they've always gotten and be mildly happy with it. This cycle perpetuates itself and allows game companies to make easy decisions, using technology advances as a crutch to justify withering innovation.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Special Edition E3 Podcast

We're having a special, impromptu podcast tonight. As always, instructions for connecting to and communicating in the podcast are below:

How to can download and use Teamspeak

Date: Tuesday, June 5

Time: 9:00pm Central Time
 We will be discussing our kneejerk reactions to the E3's press conferences.

Nintendo E3 2012 Press Conference Liveblog

The only press conference for today is also the only one for this years E3 to discuss next generation console hardware. Join us as we all gather around the fireplace and let Reggie, Iwata, and Miyamoto regale us with strange tales of the future.

E3 2012 News Summary Day 1: Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Ubisoft

Day 1 of E3 was huge, with major announcements coming from four of gaming's biggest companies. Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Ubisoft all had major announcements and large stage shows to display their offerings for the next year. Here are summaries of each show's announcements just in case you missed something:


Halo 4’s release date is November 6, 2012. The game has gorgeous graphics and a useful HUD, providing info about your surroundings ala Metroid Prime.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist, to be released Spring 2013, features Kinect voice integration for commands, a slick and quick combat style, and new gadgets to keep the gameplay fresh.

Games from EA sports will have Kinect integration for voice commands to your teams.

Fable: The Journey will be released on September 4, 2012. This title has interesting graphics, but still looked to be an "on-rails" game for Kinect.

Gears of War Judgement is coming out in 2013 and so far, looks like the other Gears games.

Forza Horizon is due out October 23, 2012 and features new cars, and the same Forza feel.

You can look for videos on the 360 and then choose what service provider to get it from, which seems useful.

HBO Go is on the Xbox 360 as well as Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and Machinima.

To expand its sports offerings, the 360 will now offer NBA, NHL, and 24/7 live content from ESPN.

Xbox Music is a Spotify-type app for the 360 to purchase and stream music from your 360, PC, or Windows Phone 7.

Nike has integrated its Nike+ system with Xbox 360 to include workout buddies, sharing your workouts with social media, and more accurate workouts using Kinect. It also integrates with your mobile devices.

Smart Glass is a new feature from Xbox 360 to add additional content to your 360 experience. It allows your mobile devices (multiplatform) to integrate and connect to your Xbox to  become a secondary source of information about what you're doing, be it playing a game, watching a movie, or viewing a TV episode. Uses include having a map on your tablet to keep track of characters in Game of Thrones, editing plays in Madden, getting information about Sherlock Holmes while you watch the movie, and reading extra information and viewing online matches while playing Halo 4.

Kinect has been upgraded to include the use of webhub to look at things online in Internet Explorer. You can also use Smart Glass to control the webpages.

The new Tomb Raider game looks as great as it did last year, with stunning visuals and visceral game experiences by allowing Lara to fail and get hurt. Combat that was shown included using a bow and arrow and a shotgun. Tomb Raider’s first DLC will be available on Xbox 360 first.

New IP includes Ascend: New Gods, an asynchronous, drop in drop out multiplayer combat experience, LocoCycle, and Matter.

Resident Evil 6 continues its departure from traditional scare tactics to approach the action gaming paradigm heavily. Combat looked smooth, graphics were good, and the characters are familiar, though there was nothing really new or anything to be excited about here.

Wrecketeer lets you launch cannon balls at towers to destroy small demons. Looks cartoony and like a small time-waster for Kinect.

There weren't many details on South Park: The Stick of Truth, but the game's trailer and creators were hilarious and true to the style of the show.

Dance Central 3 was announced and Usher made everyone in the audience feel awkward.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 features asynchronous multiplayer in which players can choose between different paths to get to the same goal. It's a nice, refreshing feature to add to the mammoth series.


Beyond, Two Souls is the new title from Quantic Dream, the studio behind Heavy Rain. It's about 15 years of a girl’s life in which she interacts with and knows about some external force that no one can see. This spirit can possess people and interact with real life objects. The cinema we saw was incredibly detailed and the animations were impressive. Ellen Paige plays the lead and her face was captured almost perfectly. If the game is no good, at least it will be pretty.

Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is Sony's answer to Super Smash Brothers. It's a brawler in the style of SSB: there are 4 characters in a ring all brawling at the same time, but they also have combos and build up specials over time. The official character list for Playstation All Stars Battle Royale as of now is Kratos, Sweet Tooth, Fat Princess, Parappa, Sly Cooper, Mael Redac, Nathan Drake and a Big Daddy. The game also features cross-platform compatibility with the Playstation Vita, allowing mobile gamers to fight console gamers all the same. To be released later this year.

Little Big Planet 2 gets an update for more content and to add in the Playstation Vita as another controller for the PS3.

Playstation Plus members get three free games that will be rotated out, starting with Infamous 2, Saints Row 2, and Little Big Planet 2.

PS One classics are coming to the Vita.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is coming to the Vita this holiday season.

Assassin's Creed III Liberation is the first title to feature a female assassin, and will take place in New Orleans. It is coming to the Vita October 30th and will be featured in a bundle with a Crystal White Vita hardware and a 4GB memory stick.

Assassin's Creed III will features sea battles.

Far Cry 3 allows up to 4 person multiplayer co op in a dedicate story.

A new peripheral was announced. Wonderbook is a kid-aimed Augmented Reality book aimed to make stories and storytelling more interactive. The first title is the Book of Spells by JK Rowling. You use the Move controller as your wand to learn to cast spells. Both Wonderbook and Rowling’s Book of Spells will be released this holiday season.

HTC will release a Playstation Certified device.

God of War: Ascension looks like the visually best entry in the series. It's adding in more gore, more enemy weapons, and Kratos gains more abilities, like the ability to turn back time in a localized area. The new God of War installment has a release date of March 12, 2013.

Last of Us is Naughty Dog's new title and it looks quite impressive. The visuals, ambiance, and characters in the game all breathe life into this post apocalyptic world in which nature appears to be reclaiming cities. The interactions between the protagonists are both believable and entertaining.


Dead Space 3 plops Isaac onto what appears to be the home planet of the Necromorphs as it contains the source. It features co-op, which is a series first, and mostly fighting on the ground. Not many of the visuals shown off fit the traditional creepy-corridor-and-silence feel of Dead Space, but we can find out February 2013 when Dead Space 3 is released.

Madden 13 has a new engine for player collisions and interactions call the Infinity Engine. It looks to have more player interactivity by taking away the decided nature of tackles. The ability to create your own leagues where you follow a player, coach, or another league associate is featured heavily and looks to try and add more player engagement.

SimCity Social is a Facebook game in the series we all know and love. It features a morality system, unlocks, and social integration.

A new Sim City is on its way, in addition to the Facebook game. They have an entirely new engine, new animation, better data visualization, and more ways to play including multiplayer. It looks to be the most user-friendly version of Sim City yet and will be released February 2013.

Battlefield 3 Premium is a premium, flat-rate service to get players access to DLC sooner, new maps, new weapons, and new ways to play. This includes Close Quarters for smaller, more intimate matches, Armored Kill, for vehicle matches, End Game for high speed games, and Aftermath.

Star Wars The Old Republic is adding a new planet named Makeb, a new operation called Terror from Behind, Cathars are a new playable race, Assassin Droids are new companions, and a new warzone called Ancient Hypergates.

Medal of Honor Warfighter will feature connections to recent news stories and current hotbeds of terrorist and criminal activities as well as great beards. New combat includes use of drones, and the HUD is minimalistic and out of the way. Multiplayer includes a number of different teams representing different regions across the globe like Spetsnaz, OGA, GROM, SEAL, SAS, and SFOD-D. It will be released October 23, 2012

EA is looking to connect all of their sports games socially.

FIFA 13 features new dribbling, Kinect integration, collision models, and will integrate your data from FIFA 12. FIFA Club is also getting an app for mobile devices. The Kinect will know if you're swearing at the ref, which is pretty funny and encourages creative uses of expletives to see if you can get by the detection software. FIFA 13 will be out September 2012.

UFC is officially pairing with EA to make an official MMA game, though no title or release frame has been given.

Need for Speed Most Wanted will be released October 30, 2012, and promises to increase social play by having ranks of your stats against those of your friends within the game. In this game, you fight to become the most wanted, and the gameplay is from the highways to streets and backalleys to offroad and everything in between.

Crysis 3 will be out in February 2013 and feature more beautiful, taxing graphics, and nanosuit shenanigans, including cablehooking a helicopter to throw it around a little.


Just Dance 4 was revealed to include songs old and new. Also Flo Rida made an appearance and made everyone wish it had been Usher. Just Dance 4 is slated to be released October 9th and include songs such as Call Me Maybe, Moves like Jagger, and Wild Wild West.

Far Cry 3, to be released September 4, 2012, involves the protagonist taking up arms against a madman while also feeling up said madman's sister. Use of a bow and arrow, machine gun, and tiger showcased the combat while the beautiful environments and promises of exploration to be had showed off the game's beauty. 

Splinter Cell Blacklist also looks to feature co op, though that's not confirmed.

Avengers: Battle for Earth has few details, but features all the Avengers, along with characters from X-Mmen and Spiderman.

Rayman Legends carries the torch of Rayman Origins to Wii U. It features up to 5 player coop and uses the Wii U gamepad to interact with the environment as another character. Details are lacking, but the videos all have the same fun look that Origins does.

ZombiU is the game that rose out of the ashes of Killer Freaks from Outer Space. No real gameplay to speak up, but it's the first confirmed mature game for Wii U. The trailer visualizes the zombie apocalypse as it hits England.

Assassin's Creed III is out October 30th and had an extensive live gameplay demo showcasing the combat system, tree running, and horse riding, amongst other things. The American Revolution era game also features a less invasive HUD, which is far improved over that of Assassin's Creed Revelations. Another bit of information reveals that you will be against the Templars, not necessarily just the redcoats. Weapons shown off include the hatchet, bow and arrow, knife, pistol, and musket.

To make a run for the esports market, Ubisoft has also come up with Shootmania Storm, an esports 3v3 game. Players take control of the red or blue team, each round featuring one player from one team against the three on the other. The solo player has a weapon which can kill any opposing member instantly, whereas the other team has weapons that take two shots to kill and are slower.

Watch_Dogs stole the show. Details are few, but the gameplay and cinemas did the title justice. The world is now controlled entirely by one operating system, ctOS. From the traffic lights to cell phones to signage, ctOS is in charge of all of them, and you're part of an organization who can and does hack the system. You can use these abilities to disable and tamper with devices in order to, say, create a distraction. You can also learn about people based on their data, and extrapolate more information from that, like violence probability. The gameplay featured bullet time, standard gunning, and great graphics, but the hacking and strategy portions were quite impressive. The multiple protagonists also seems to poke at multiplayer, though that has yet to be confirmed.
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