Category Archives: Video Games

XBOX ONE Announced: Details And Reaction

6C7512049-new-image-consoles.blocks_desktop_largeNow that Sony had their big announcement it is time for Microsoft to make their big next gen reveal. Will it be always on? Will we actually see the console? Here is a rundown of the event, with key details in bold:

1:00 PM: Microsoft set the tone early with a montage talking about how the new system will integrate cloud technology to give you what you want without having to find it. They want the new console to dominate your living room and the key work that sums it all up is “alive.”

1:03 Don Mattrick is the first person up to talk about how the XBOX has always been ahead of the curve with things like XBOX Live and Kinect, and how they are still looking forward. They want to simplify your living room by taking advantage of cloud technology to create an all-in-one system in an age where people go to their tablets phones while gaming and watching TV.

1:08: The new console is called XBOX ONE. They show off what the console looks like (unlike Sony), black and shiny like a PS3. There is a Kinect at launch with a new controller which seems to fix the d-pad issue. The hardware is then shown on the main stage. The idea is to make the experience simple, fast and complete.

1:10: Yusef Mendhi up next to show off the console. Like Don, he put heavy emphasis on what they will show at E3. The homescreen is similar to the 360 and remembers the last few things you were doing, and has a trending section which shows what your friends are into and what the overall community is into. This branches from games to music and movies. Yusef cycles through all of the options using voice command. Saying
“XBOX, watch TV” instantly switches to a TV feed. He is also able to switch to music, browsers, movies and games with voice command, and it’s pretty fast. There are also hand gestures that open up windows from the menu to go full screen.

You also have the ability to use multiple apps at the same time. While watching the 2009 Star Trek movie, Yusef uses voice command to open IE on the side of the screen to look up the new Trek movie, go through favorites and buy tickets. I’ll forgive the plug.

Yusef uses Skype with a fellow employee while watching the movie. Video and audio look solid.

After pulling up the ESPN app, Yusef displays the ability to show league standings and fantasy stats. Pretty cool if you’re in an ESPN fantasy league (which I’m not). There is also a TV guide which lets you see what is on cable and go to any channel by saying the channel you want to watch like HBO or CBS. The idea behind all of this is for the user to not have a reason to turn the TV off of the XBOX.

1:20: Mark Whitten out next to talk about the details of the console. 5 Billions transistors and 8 gigs of RAM. It has BluRay and USB 3 tech.

It uses three different operating systems to make it as easy as possible to use. This causes the system to shift from program to program with no lag. Voice control has also been adapted to be more conversational.

Kinect is getting an upgrade with a better camera and enhanced body recognition to recognize rotation and weight control.

The new controller has 40 design innovations with an upgraded battery pack and d-pad (which looks more like the Sony d-pad). The new Kinect sensor is what the entire experience revolves around.

New XBOX Live is built on 300,000 servers. Content is stored in the cloud so that you can access any content from anywhere. There is also a DVR program for gaming that lets you rewind and record gameplay (like PS4). There is also a system to find the perfect competitors for you in multiplayer, giving you the best possible experience.

1:28: Andrew Wilson from EA announces that EA is producing FIFA 14, Madden 14, NBA Elite 14 (uh oh) and a UFC game (that’s interesting). They will all be ready within 12 months and feature a new program called “Ignite.” This is meant to adjust the mental aspect of playing, along with more realistic body movement when colliding with other players on the field. There are also more dynamic crowds and playing environments teased. There is also a tease of XBOX only full multiplayer. This was all recapped with a montage of what could be gameplay. If it is it looks pretty great. That’s expected of course. The main thing I took away from it was uniform  and face movement.

1:35: Phil Spencer out next to take a look at Forza Motorsport 5. I don’t know much about racing games but it looks good. After the PS4 reveal I’m kind of numb to the graphics. Of course it is all going to look amazing. It will be available at launch.

1:40: Remedy Games debuts a game called Quantum Break. The games starts with a live action scene which cuts into a heavy disaster scene with a ship crashing into a bridge. What followed was a sneak peak of gameplay (most of it I missed due to LAAAG). What I did see looked okay.

XBOX ONE will launch with 15 exclusives, eight of which are new franchises. This is kind of a big deal as exclusives have been lacking recently.

1:45: Nancy Tellem from XBOX Entertainment Studios talks about how TV on XBOX will emerse you in the experience. The emphasis will be on personalization. She brings out Bonnie Ross from 343 Industries to talk about how Halo will integrate into this. She reveals that there will be a live action Halo TV series to be produced by Steven Spielberg.

1:50: XBOX ONE will have a partnership with the NFL to have exclusive content, as well as app access to integrate your fantasy league stats. I imagine this also means Sunday Ticket will be available as well. It was on PS3 last year.

1:55: Dan Mattrick comes back out to wrap things up, announcing that the XBOX ONE will be released later this year, and again promotes E3 where several more games will be revealed.

2:00: Eric Hirshberg from Activision out to announce the next generation of Call of Duty, of which DLC will all be released first on XBOX. Using a new game engine, Call of Duty: Ghosts is the next CoD game. There is a short behind the scenes clip showing the making of the game and some of the new features like dogs. Yup, dogs. The engine upgrades the way objects look when you are close to them, as well as changing the way you hurdle over objects, slide and interact with the environment. Another new feature is interactive maps, which include essentially traps that you can trigger within the environment. Hirshberg describes it as the best CoD game in terms of graphics, gameplay and story. Ghosts was then compared side by side to MW3. Of course its better. I’m honestly not going crazy over them though. Finally we get a clip of gameplay on the XBOX ONE engine. What we actually get is the games trailer. The biggest element to me was the interactions with water and shooting down a building while you are scaling it. The parts that looked like gameplay certainly had the graphics of a cutscene. It looks good. It’s supposed to.

2:08: One final plug for E3 in the form of a countdown and the presentation is over.

I’ll probably sound like the huge Sony fanboy that I am but I was a little underwhelmed by this event. On the plus side, we actually saw the hardware which looks very nice and not oversized. It also did not drag the way Sony’s did. However there was so much emphasis put on watching TV and not very much on gaming. NFL, ESPN, watching moves, surfing the internet. Gaming seemed to be second to everything else. They did announce some titles and show off some footage, but aside from Forza, it was all third party titles that will be on PS4 as well. I imagine this will all be address at E3. I’m sure this had everything XBOX fans were looking for, but in many ways it’s what Sony already announced with the PS4. The TV features are very cool. I just hope the games are as well.

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Playstation 4 Announced: Details And Reaction

ps4-hero-logoSony held an event today to announce the future of the Playstation. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Playstation 4 was a big part of that announcement. But how much will be revealed? Will the Vita fit into their plans? How about the Move? Will any games be revealed? Here is a rundown of the event, with key reveals like specs and games in bold:

6:00 PM: Don’t worry guys, this announcement is rated E for everyone.

6:01: LAAAAAAAG

6:02: Big ol’ montage of PlayStation’s history over the last twenty years from commercials to games and such to rock opera music before introducing Playstation president Andrew House who says that today’s announcement is a big risk and unifies all of their technology.  The gamer is labeled as the focal point of the efforts, with mobility and sharing a priority.

6:06: The Vita is mentioned as being powerful enough to enhance the home experience, with more being revealed about that idea later this year (already teasing announcements for later in the year at this big announcement).

6:08: The Playstation 4 is announced and is officially called the Playstion 4. 

6:11 Mark Cerny, lead architect is introduced to talk about what improvements can be made on the current technology. Devices are now expected to do more than just play games now. The goals of the system are to erase the separation between the games and the player, as well as doing what the developers wanted for it. Developers has a big part in what specs the PS4 will have. X86 CPU, enhanced PC GPU, 8GB unified memory and a local storage HDD. Basically it’s a powerful piece of hardware.

6:18: The reveal of the Dualshock 4! It looks exactly like the leaked photo. Rumble and controller latency has been adjusted.  A touch pad and share button are added, as well as a light bar which links to a camera set up for move capabilities. It’s not setting the world on fire, but it’s a controller. It doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel.

6:19: Brief demo of rendered footage with the camera being moved with the touchpad. System memory will use GDDR 5.

6:20: Cerny reveals his own title. It centers around a robot that can gather multiple objects to take different forms. It is called Knack, and it does a good job showing the capability of the system to handle multiple objects. Not sure how fun it is to play, but it’s unique.

6:23: The PS4 will be able to load a game from being powered off in seconds. Game and system updates are all done in the background, while you can play other games.

6:25: PS4 user interface is revealed. Hitting share on the controller goes through your last few minutes of gameplay. You can share these videos as easily as you would share screenshots now. You can watch what other people are playing even if you don’t have that game. If someone you know is having trouble, you can take control of that person online. Gamer ID’s will still be used, but a facebook type of integration will be used. Tablet and smartphone capabilities are also added, to check status’ and messages. The system will read your habits and downloads much like TIVO. Games will be pre-loaded for you to try based on previous activity.

6:29: LAAAAAAAAAAAG

6:30: David Perry, CEO of Gaikai introduced to talk about the new Playstation Network. He aims to create the fastest network for gaming. When your friends purchase a new game, you will know about it. Games can be played instantly from the store with a single button touch. You can try any game for free, buying only the games you love. Facebook and USTREAM have been adapted into the PSN and PS4. The aim is to create a social gaming network that means something.

6:33: Spectating is emphasized, with the “share” button streaming your game live, with your friends being able to watch and comment as you play. Players online can also take over your controller and assist. Friends and developers can leave items for you in game, and USTREAM sessions can be scheduled to stream your game session on the internet.

6:35: Remote play is a feature that will make the PS Vita an integral part of the system. Essentially the Vita will become what the new Wii U controller is. You can  transfer any game from the PS4, onto the Vita if someone else needs the TV. 

6:38: Technology is being developed to put games from any device, from PS1 to PS3 and Vita, into the cloud and available on the PS4. The cloud services will be revealed in phases, with this just being the earliest options for it.

6:40: A clip of game developers talking about how they were contacted to help design a system that works for them. Considering how much developers complained about the PS3, this is probably a good thing. They mention how you can start a new game right away, before the rest of the game loads. 

6:45: Michael Denny from Worldwide Studios comes out bring out Michael Miller Gorilla Games. He announces Killzone: Shadow Fall and it looks absolutely fantastic. Water and glass looks amazing from a distance. The sun sets detailed shadows around the world, with multiple npc’s that react to your movements. After some peaceful meandering a bomb goes off in slow motion, showing the details of the system. We come back to see fire and some FPS gameplay. It’s all seamless, with no cut scenes. Very impressive stuff. The details on even little things like rope, the size of the game world and how quickly you can go through that world is amazing. At the end of the demo, the share button was used on the controller, putting the video straight to Killzone’s facebook page.

6:56: Matt Southern of Evolution Studios introduced a team based racing game called Drive Club. You and friends can play among thousands of other players into races. You can send challenges through tablets and cars are being recreated with 100% parameters. A first-person view is shown with the driver checking the engine before stepping into the car and driving it. The details are very fine and the cars have a beautiful shine to them. There are 3 on 3 club challenges teased before the video ends.

7:03: Sucker Punch reveals InFamous: Second Son. It is a long cut scene featuring a new protagonist in a very good looking action sequence. No gameplay though.

7:10: Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, introduced The Witness. An open world PS4 exclusive with various destinations and themes. It is a puzzle game which promises to have no filler. The demo reel has you go through various backdrops, from beaches to forests, castles and more. It looks very innovative, although not as visually appealing as the other games so far. The puzzles appear to have a very large scope though and the world is huge.

7:15: Technology previously reserved for feature films is displayed on the system. The PS4 is capable of characters using 30,000 polygons. Heavy Rain for example used 150,000.

7:20: Media Molecule (Little Big Planet) talks about the potential of the Playstation Move on the PS4. They started by showing a tech demo where the Move controller is a sculpting tool. It shows statues being created in real time and it’s very cool stuff. It is a beginners program for 3D sculpting, and can also develop game levels. A sample is shown of a fully rendered video made with the PS4, displayed as it was made in real time. It featured people controlling characters freely, grabbing instruments and playing them in the game. I’m not about to believe that what they showed was as easy as they make it look, but it was still cool. No actual game was announced with this technology.

7:27: Virtually every third party company will support the PS4. (That can’t surprise anyone)

7:28: Yoshinori Ono from Capcom comes out to first say he is not talking about Street Fighter. They go through their history with Sony starting with Resident Evil on the PS One. For the Playstation 4, a new engine called Panta Rhei has been developed to take full advantage of the system. They sample the engine with a game called Deep Down (working title). It is a medieval adventure, showing characters going through dingy caves and fighting fire breathing dragons. Dungy has never looked better, and some small portions of gameplay were shown. Afterwords, a clip of Blanka sending a Metal Gear style SOS message was sent. So that’s something worth keeping an eye on. They will reveal more for the PS4 this year.

7:35: Yoshihisha Hashimoto of Square Enix shows off a demo of their work. Shinji Hashimoto announces that a new Final Fantasy title will be announced at E3.

7:42: Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot unveils a game titled Watch Dogs. They expand on the E3 demo, showing that everything, including people, is controllable. A new demo is shown off, with yet another visually stunning game world. Set place in Chicago, the player goes through the city, identifying people through his cell phone. It looks similar to Heavy Rain. The player breaks up a crime and chases the criminal through the world. It’s high speed and fluid. As the cops come in on him, the player can trigger traps electronically like barriers and stop trains to use as a means of escape. It all appears to be done with a single button as you go. Very cool.

7:50: Chris Metzen from Blizzard makes his first console announcement. They have entered a partnership with Sony to “take over the world.” Diablo 3 is coming to the Playstation 4 as well as the PS3. The PS4 version has full screen four player coop. Only some stills were shown, but the game will formally be debuted at PAX East.

8:00: Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg says that Bungie will be working with Sony to bring Destiny to the PS4 and PS3. It is a new FSP that is in development. Very little was shown, but think Halo. It provides an online experience, and there will be exclusive Playstation content. This is a huge win for Sony, as the XBOX has practically made its living off Halo.

8:03: The presentation ends with a montage of the footage shown, and the message that the Playstation 4 will be available this holiday season.

Much more games and footage was revealed than I ever thought. Sony came on really strong and it looks fantastic. When I says “looks” I am referring only to the games because the actual console was not shown. Will it be a beast like the original PS3 or a small like the Wii? No idea. I’m also not sure about the touchscreen controller, or how the promises of instant play from the on button will come to fruition. The most notable thing that was not revealed (unless it happened during all the lag time) was price. Rumored around $450-$600, it can’t go anywhere above that if it wants to open well.

I may have to wait a year before I can afford it, but I definitely want one.

WWE ’13 Review

Last year, WWE ’12 drastically changed the formula for wrestling games with its control scheme and up tempo game play. This may not have made all of the Smackdown vs Raw fans happy, but I never bought any games from that series so I don’t care about them. Now THQ tries to follow up on their success with WWE ’13. While it may not be as revolutionary as their ad campaign would lead you to believe, WWE ’13 is still a pretty good experience for wrestling fans.

Now with twice the Undertaker!

The primary feature of WWE ’13 is Attitude Era Mode. Gone is last year’s Road to WrestleMania, where you played through a made up storyline where you only play as three different characters (Triple H, Sheamus and a created wrestler). Now you go through significant moments of your favorite wrestlers from the Attitude Era and the Monday night wars. They take place in chapters, starting with the development of DX, to Steve Austin’s run and so on. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. They have recreated specific moments right down to capturing the audio from the original airings of the matches and promos. Mixed in is some actual footage to take you back to that time. To make things better, unlike Road to WrestleMania where the goal was only to accomplish certain objectives to trigger a cut scene (like performing a move near a certain area), all you have to do to progress in the Attitude Era Mode is win. Of course, there are extra objectives to accomplish in order to unlock more content (putting an opponent through a table for example), but at the end of the day you start and end every match. A big step up from last year. For the most part, it all works great. The only issue that I have is with the censoring of the term WWF. Because of the World Wildlife Fund, WWE is not even allowed to show or even mention their old name. It’s easy enough to adjust the logo, but they say WWF a lot in the audio clips, and it leads to everyone being censored as if the “F” stood for something completely different from Federation. Legalities aside, WWE ’13 does an outstanding job taking you back to wrestling’s most outrageous era. I loved taking the walk down memory lane.

The gameplay and graphics are pretty much exactly how we left them last year. One button grapple moves, quicktime signature comebacks and reversals. A lot of reversals. Too many for my taste. There seem to be a lot more this year, and while it’s annoying against the AI, it can be almost maddening against another person. The window to pull off a reversal just seems bigger, and I had a number of moments where three or more reversals occurred in succession. At times it leads for a rush when you finally pull off that move without being reversed, but other times it almost feels broken. Speaking of broken, I’ve noticed some more glitches early on that normal. Getting stuck to the ring post, stuck in the air and things like that. It may be fixed in an update before I even finish this sentence, but it doesn’t seem good to launch with so many bugs when you’re essentially reskining last year’s effort. They did seem to fix the weird issue with the ropes being too flimsy though.

The one other thing of note is the characters. THQ claimed that they had the biggest roster of any wrestling game ever, which is technically true. There are plenty of options coming the current roster with the Attitude Era, however that also leaves you with a lot of characters having two models. Old and new Undertaker, old and new Rock, current John Cena and thuganomics Cena. You get the idea. They are considered different characters, but it most cases they are really just new skins. Cheap trick but whatever. Everyone you need is either in the game or going to be available in DLC, like Damien Sandow and Ryback. It’s as good as you are going to get.

If you have WWE ’12 and are all about Universe Mode, you might not need to shell out the cash for an updated roster and some added tweaks (especially with the user creations available). But if you want a fantastic look back at the Attitude Era to go along with those updates, WWE ’13 is definitely for you.

God Of War: Ascension Multiplayer Demo (NYCC)

Along with all of the panels and displays at the New York Comic Con, I also got to check out some upcoming video games. One of the games I’m looking forward too is the fourth entry into the God of War franchise, God of War: Ascension. Fortunately, Sony had a booth showing off the new multiplayer element to God of War, and I got to check it out.

By now the premise of both the game and the multiplayer is no big secret. Set, six months after Kratos murdered his wife and child (oh I’m sorry did I forget to mention SPOILERS?) and shortly after selling his soul to Aries, Kratos sets out to defeat the three furies in order to break his bond with Aries. This adds up to a Kratos who is more human and relatable, but also still has the Blades of Chaos and can whoop some serious ass.

The multiplayer, on the other hand, puts you in the shoes of the troops that Kratos either controlled or fought against. You start out as just an ordinary man, until you sell you soul to one of four deities (Zeus, Ares, Hades or Poseidon). Your choice determines your combat style as well as what abilities you can earn. The mode I played is called “Favor of the Gods.” Two teams of four soldiers (serving either Sparta or Troy) fight to earn points (or “Favor”) by achieving kills, collecting orbs and claiming (and defending) territory on the map. The goal is to earn enough Favor to acquire the Spear of Olympus and (in my case) destroy the Titan cyclops Polyphemus.

This is as good as God of War multiplayer gets

The first thing I can to do was customize my character. This including choosing my armor, primary weapon (sword or mallet for me) and magic ability. Once the match starts its all beat ’em up. Yes you can dodge and block, but during my session it was all about striking first and keeping it up. There is a dash that gets you out of trouble and aside from not having the Blades of Chaos it’s just like playing the solo mission. This includes quick time kills that are even more satisfying than normal when performed on the person standing next to you. The map is on the small side, which is good given the limited numbers of players. While the moments with several players on the same screen were fun, it was those rare times where I ended up one on one with another player that were the most enjoyable for me. The combat is quick, simple and satisfying. Imagine if someone next to you was playing as Zeus at the end of God of War 3. Yeah, it feels like that.

The only real complaint I have is that the camera doesn’t quite work with multiplayer. There are arrows identifying where other players and objects are, but overall I had a bit of a hard time finding the action. I spent a little too much time looking for someone to fight. When I did though, God of War: Ascension’s multiplayer gets a lot right.

God of War: Ascension is set to be released exclusively on the PS3 on March 12th of 2013.

Domino Confirmed For Deadpool Game (NYCC)

At this point we all know that High Moon Studios is making a Deadpool game due to come out in 2013 right? Well at the Marvel Video Games panel at the New York Comic Con we received an update on how the game was progressing.

Everything looks great, the combat is coming into shape and blah blah blah. Thankfully Deadpool himself decided to crash the panel, start a dance party, and announce that none other than Domino is confirmed to make her first video game appearance.  A fellow mercenary, Domino is also known for having a relationship with Cable, and you can’t have a Deadpool game without Cable being involved somehow. By the way, the game will be rated M for mature. That means cursing and boobs and blood and guts! They also showed this highlight reel of Deadpool’s appearance in San Diego:

Some other notes from the Marvel Video Games panel:

-The Amazing Spider-Man game will come to the Wii U in the spring. It will include all of the DLC, will have optional motion controls and the touchscreen controller with act as the cellphone hub during gameplay. This is similar to how the navigation and gadget controls are being applied to the Arkham City Armored Edition.

(On a side note, I watched some people run through a brief demo of Arkham City on the Wii U. Graphically it looks just like the current version. The armor’s main function seems to be providing a brief but large impact in combat, electrocuting enemies and adding range. It only works when fully charged. Gadgets like the remote batarang and detective vision make you look at the touchscreen. This gave a lot of players fits as it’s against everything we know as gamers to look away from the giant tv in our face to look at a smaller one below us. The controller itself takes some getting used to but I’m sure that after a little while you get used to it.)

-Marvel Pinball will be debuting a Civil War version by the end of the year. In it, you pick a side (Captain America or Iron Man) and the object while playing is to recruit allies. The side you select determines what moments play out from the series.

-There was some new footage shown for the free to play MMO, Marvel Heroes. Among it was the announcement of three new characters: Nova, Luke Cage and Jean Grey (as Phoenix). The video also showed a glimpse of Rocket Racoon from Guardians of the Galaxy, which got a big response from the crowd.

Is One Video Game Per Sport Enough?

For the third straight year there will not be an NBA game from EA Sports. NBA Elite 11’s demo was so broken that the game ended up getting delayed and ultimately cancelled. After changing studios, engines and attempting to rebuild the game from the ground up, EA decided that since they weren’t far enough yet for an October release date (in line with the NBA season) that they would again put off launching a game this year and aim to release a game for next season instead.

My question is, does anyone care?

This drought of EA basketball games (no NCAA basketball either) just happens to be during a period where the NBA 2K series can do no wrong. NBA 2K11 changed the game with the addition of Michael Jordan and the most realistic basketball game we’ve ever seen. 2K12 took all of that and improved it, adding more touches and hall of famers. Now, when the series could be on cruise control if it wanted, they seem to be pushing the envelope even more. EA couldn’t have picked a worse time to not put out a game.

Madden is constantly adding touches

EA knows all about being the only game in town. They forced 2K Sports out the door when they purchased exclusivity for NFL video games. This meant that if you wanted to play NFL football in a video game, it is Madden Football or bust. Some people yearn for the days of 2K football, but based on sales not many are still complaining. They also produce the undisputed number one hockey and soccer games with the NHL and FIFA series. Take Two backed out from hockey after NHL 2K11 fell flat, and even though Konami keeps making Pro Evo Soccer games, does anyone know anybody that owns that over FIFA13?

Baseball seems to be the only sport that has multiple video games still duking it out, and that might only be because of rights issues. The MLB 2K series has been the standard game on all platforms due to an agreement preventing third party companies from making games with the MLB license. This would have left them with no competition if SONY hadn’t decided to make a game anyway as a Playstation exclusive. MLB The Show has been regarded as the best baseball game, if not the best sports game overall, available. However since it is only available for Playstation, Take Two still gets all of the sales from baseball hungry XBOX and WII owners. That might change soon as the exclusivity agreement is about to expire. There might not even be an MLB 2K13 next year, meaning once again, there could only be one game in town.

With all that said, I again ask if it actually matters? Is it bad that all of these companies have little to no competition for their respective sports titles? Logic would say yes. Less competition leaves little desire for the work to be put into drastically improving games each year. If there is no one to challenge the throne, what is the point of spending the money. Certainly the Madden Franchise has been accused of this. Every year they come out with another version of Madden and while they still sell at a ridiculous rate, critics call in little more than a 60 dollar roster update. Truth be told, little has changed with MLB The Show, NHL or FIFA games either. Sure some strong competition would bring out the best in everyone involved right?

Is it lonely at the top?

Not necessarily. While little changes from year to year, it must be acknowledged that these current games are regarded as the best ever in their fields. FIFA12, NBA 2K12, MLB The Show 12 and NHL 12 were all called the greatest sports game of all time by somebody. Madden might have gotten similar praise if it wasn’t so ridiculously popular. It’s just not cool to give accolades to something that well known. Call of Duty goed through the same troubles now. It’s much for fun to trash it for not being as good as it used to be. With these sports franchises not needing to make drastic changes to separate themselves from the pack, they can keep everything that works and spend their time making small tweaks that each make their game slightly more like the real thing. The casual fan might not really notice it, but NHL 13 plays a lot more like real hockey than NHL 12 does. While being the leader in a one car race can lead to laziness, it can also provide to patience to do the small things that matter more down the road.

Sports games are different from any other type of video game. It is the only genre expected to come out with a new game every year. The Uncharted series needed five years to produce three games. I didn’t notice anyone complaining though. To expect drastic changes every year from a sports game is asking for a lot. I’m not saying that competition wouldn’t make the games better, but I am saying that sports games are as good as they have ever been without it.

I guess all I’m getting at is, EA can cancel next year’s NBA game too if they wanted to.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review

In 2010, High Moon Studios produced the best Transformers game ever made with War for Cybertron. Two years later, they’ve done it again with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Granted, the bar was never set very high to begin with, but that doesn’t mean Fall of Cybertron (FoC) isn’t a good game.

The biggest difference between the two is in the campaign mode. Gone is the team based shooting where you pick one of three autobots or decepticons. In its place you get levels focused around one specific Transformer, and his special abilities. Jazz and his grappling hook, for example. This comes at the cost of multiplayer in the campaign, but the lack of a team based campaign makes for more scripted and dramatic gameplay. All of the characters weaved in to a solid story that incorporates the entire universe. More set pieces, more action, more more more! The story also does a good job transitioning from level to level. Where the previous game had a more defined end to each level, FoC seamlessly takes you from one adventure to another. I had to specifically decide to stop playing, not just turn it off when they told me I was done with a level.

The story does take certain liberties with the source material, especially after War for Cybertron wrapped things up so well in taking us to the start of the G1 cartoon. However if you want to fit Grimlock or Bruticus into the story, two great characters to play as, you have to take some leaps. Also as far as the campaign goes, while it is technically not split into two campaigns, the middle of the game is mostly decepticons while the autobots make up the bookends. So yeah, it’s split into two campaigns.

Underrated

Multiplayer is still fun, escalation and all of the other modes are done well enough. The creation however got a big upgrade. War for Cybertron gave you models of all of the playable Transformers and let you change their colors. Now you can individually change heads, legs, arms and torsos, which also decide what you turn into. There is also a much greater color palate to choose from. I’m not a big multiplayer guy, but I love creating things and this gives me the opportunity to create all I want, once I unlock all of the items of course. Don’t worry, following trends you can just buy items straight up for cash.

It’s a good looking game but there are some issues. The sound jumped in and out on me occasionally during my play through, and the engine stutters a little when too much is going on. This could be fixed with future updates but right now it’s a little annoying. Nothing game breaking though. Aside from that, Cybertron is a much more colorful world. Like I mentioned in my first preview for the game (here) the environments are more varied in FoC. The sun is bright and the ships are as well. There are different textures and colors and it makes the game pop without losing the rusty feel of a metallic planet. It is a very large world and it finally plays like it as well.

Despite all of the positives I have, the one thought I came away with was that I’m not sure if I would have bought this if it wasn’t a Transformers game. Mostly it’s a third person shooter with a Transformers skin. That’s great but I’m not all about shooters. I’m more of the Arkham City, Assassins Creed kind of guy. The transforming is good and that’s what I came for but once I play I barely use it. My shooter mentality kicks in and I stick to cover and strafing to get the job done, and for the most part it totally works. Some of the added technology is cool (gravity bomb FTW) but I feel like most of the times I actually transformed it was by accident since it is done by pushing the L3 button. However despite all of that, I do love Transformers so I had to buy this game immediately to get the experience, and for me getting the story and playing as my favorite characters was well worth the investment.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a love letter to Transformers fans, and is a good game that has done the best and the most with the Transformers license than any game before it. It just hasn’t gotten it 100% right yet. If you are a Transformers fan like me, then you have no reason not to buy this game. It’s everything you love about Transformers in the form of a good third person shooter. However if you wouldn’t know the matrix of leadership if it was sticking out of your chest, there are better shooters right now and this might not be the ideal game for you.

Everyone Knows There is a Deadpool Video Game Right?

The San Diego Comic Con has just passed, and of course everyone is talking about Iron Man 3 and the start of Marvel’s Phase 2 set of films. There was plenty of talk about the DC game Injustice, Gods Among Us and the Man of Steel footage as well. All rightfully deserved, but why in the hell are there not more people making a big deal out of the announcement of a Deadpool game?

I came back a few days after SDCC ended and only now am I becoming aware that this is happening. The fourth wall breaking merc with a mouth starring in his own video game? How did it even take this long to happen? Between Duke Nukem and No More Heroes, this game should be right up everyone’s alley. Of course little is known about it yet, but just check out the trailer and tell me you aren’t excited:

Now pull yourself together and let’s see what we can make of this. First off we already know he’ll be talking to us (and himself) while we play, and what better voice to do all the talking that Nolan North, the voice of Nathan Drake and a million other characters. He’s had plenty of experience doing Deadpool (Hulk vs. MvC3 etc) and has the right sense of humor to pull this off. Let’s also make note that this game will obviously not be for kiddies. Deadpool is already dropping s-bombs and blowing people’s head off Dead Space style. Graphically we can expect something along the lines of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Plenty of glorious blood.

Gameplay wise I have to think we’re talking 3rd person action shooter with a whole lot of melee combat thrown in. We saw limbs flying around like Ninja Gaiden and shooting in the middle of big crowds. I don’t expect bullets to be hard to find in this game. Also saw a turret and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of vehicle sections too. I also get the feeling there will be plenty of throwback style mini games as well. Since this is Deadpool they can really do whatever they want and it wouldn’t be that out of place.

Little else is really known. No idea who he will be fighting against but several X-Men were shown or mentioned (suck it Wolverine). Perhaps they will be in it somehow. Being made by High Moon Studios (Fall of Cybertron), Deadpool is scheduled for release sometime in 2013 and I have a hard time figuring out how it won’t be awesome.

By the way, check out how it was announced:

San Diego Comic Con Recap

CON!!!!!

Yes boys and girls, it’s that time of year again. San Diego Comic Con. Unless you’re a bum, you know what Comic Con entails. Kick ass movies and TV shows being revealed to blow our minds, breath taking video games that will change our playing experiences forever, and yes, scantily clad women who know nothing about comic books showing up to try and become famous. I personally have to say, this was my favorite Comic Con in a while. I’m a sucker for funny shows, bad ass superhero movies, and shoot em’ up video games. So this suited all of my geek needs. Since this was such a huge event with so many things. I’m going to split up the Con into three categories; Movies, TV shows, and last but not least, Video Games. I’m going to showcase one thing from each category that stood out to me the most. So let’s dive into this thing.

I guess a good place to start would be movies. The only movie at the Con that really stood out to me this year was “The Man of Steel” set for release some time in 2013. This is a complete reboot of the old Christopher Reeve Superman films in a more modern tone. Producer Christopher Nolan of Batman/Inception fame tells us that this new film will deal with current events such as political unrest, War, and economic turmoil. I for one am completely pumped to see this newest installment in the iconic Superman franchise. While Superman isn’t my favorite Comic Book hero, I do love his story. After his planets death, an alien outcast must join our society. When called to duty, every day normal nerdy guy Clark Kent must put on the legendary red and blue spandex threads to battle evil in our world. From what Nolan has said about the picture, it’s really going to be about Clark finding himself among the humans of Earth. As for me, you can find me at the midnight release. P.S. I hear Russell Crowe is playing Superman’s dad, so that’ll be sweet!

I’m surprised this logo isn’t black, considering Chris Nolan’s involvement.

Guess the next logical thing to talk about would be TV shows. This section is going to be kind of short because I just want to touch on one subject. NBC’s comedy “Community”. The “Community” panel at Comic-Con introduces the viewers to showrunners David Guarascio and Moses. This has been confirmed to be the final season of Community, and I am personally sad to see it go. Being a college student, it’s funny to watch a bunch of adults pursue higher education. This show may not have had a huge viewer following, but its fans will remain faithful to it in its final season. That’s all I really have to say about that. Except, does anyone else smell a Community movie?

I’m gunna miss these guys!

Our third category is video games. MY FAVORITE! Since I pretty much summed up all of my top choices in my E3 coverage blog a little while back, I decided to cover a game that I forgot. The game is called “The Last of Us” being released exclusively for the PlayStation 3. This game is set in the post-apocalyptic eastern United States. The plot of the game is still under wraps, but developers have set the story follows two survivors of some sort of mass natural holocaust, as they make their way from Boston to Pittsburg. The game was developed by the “Uncharted” series creators, so you know were in for a treat.

Gotta love the post-apoco themes.

As for the women, there’s only one thing to be said. But I won’t say it here because were clean over at KMItv. So I leave you with this picture:

You’re Welcome.

Coming Soon! Monster Mania coverage! Stay Tuned!

The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game Review

If you liked Batman: Arkham City, it will be hard for you not to at least like The Amazing Spider-Man game a little.

After Beenox produced a pair of more linear Spidey games with Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time, they put the wall crawler back into an open world with the the movie tie-in to The Amazing Spider-Man (which you can read more about here). The game picks up right where the movie left off, and considering that it came out before the movie did, it was quite spoiler filled.

Essentially Oscorp is trying to recover after all of the bad press they got with Curt Connors turning into a Lizard, and they are eliminating all of his research and moving on to nano technology. Then wouldn’t you know it, all hell breaks loose and the city is running rampant with mixed species monsters and psycho robots out to hunt the monsters, and both parties have it in for our red and blue hero. It’s not Shakespeare, but it is enough to keep you going through the game.

Like I said before, this game goes back to what people loved most about the older Spider-Man movie games, specifically Spider-Man 2, and that’s open world web slinging through Manhattan. Like the games before it, this is where the most fun is to be had. Physics kind of take a back seat as you can throw a web in the air and latch on to something no matter how high you are, and soar through the city. There are plenty of side missions and mini games to do, and while they can get repetitive after a while, it’s still fun to just get to all the points on the map via jumping and swinging through the city. There are also collectables to find throughout the game, but for me the best by far are comic book pages. Scattered around the game are pages of comic books. 500 in all. For every 20 or so pages you collect you get access to an old Spider-Man comic. The full issue. They range from Spidey’s first appearance to the first time he encountered Rhyno and so on. I find myself completely ignoring the missions and just looking for more pages.

The game works best when the action is kept outside

Speaking of the missions, this is probably where the game suffers most. They are very straight forward, and also very easy. Half of the stages turn into beat ’em up sessions while the others are stealth based. Sound familiar? Both tactics are almost identical to Arkham City. There are stealth take downs from above and enemies that are equally aloof. The combat system is exactly the same. Hit the attack button to build combos, web shooters act as batarangs to stun enemies, and your spidey-sense kicks in for dodging much like the caped crusader (although I think we can all agree RockSteady took that from Spider-Man first). That’s all fine and still fun, but it is just too easy. First off the game really spoon feeds you everything. It will tell you when to use your web, when to attack, when to stop, everything. There are bosses that I beat using just the attack button. I didn’t realize he was the final boss of the level until the end. In a word, it’s anticlimactic. I recommend using the hardest difficulty setting if you want any challenge at all. The other problem with most of these levels is that it sticks Spider-Man inside, away from where the game is at it’s best. Not enough of the game is in the open world, which is a shame.

The Amazing Spider-Man game also lifts Arkham City’s navigation and upgrade system among other things. You have physical and tech upgrades that you earn points toward individually. The map is in the same style, with locations marked off to continue the story, then side missions marked in other areas. There are random muggings to stop as well. Snipers on the rooftops. Audio logs to find through out the game. I can go on and on. I know Arkham City didn’t invent any of these ideas, and they are all used in some fashion in most games, but it looks so similar and works in such a way that it has to be mentioned.

Graphically the game is a mixed bag. Spider-Man looks great, and when you are running around the city does too. The major New York land marks are there, with comic spots like the Daily Bugle and Oscorp tower thrown in as well. However when you look too closely you see how it is a little dated. Again, this is a movie tie-in so I can’t expect too much, but it is just one more thing that holds this title back.

Despite it’s shortcomings, The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun game to play. Much like the movie, this game brings Spider-Man back to his roots and mostly succeeds in spite of it’s flaws. If you aren’t a comic book fan it’s worth at least a rental. If are a comic book nerd like myself, it’s worth your money just for the comic books you can collect. You’ll spend more than enough time after finishing the main story looking for all of the comic pages in New York City.