Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Game Diary: Sly Cooper, Epic Mickey.


Circumstance and familial responsibility have kept me from a goodly amount of sleep, lately, so when I had a bit of time for gaming today I invested it in clearing the third world of Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus - Miz Ruby's Haitian vodoo swamp.

My lack of affection for gameplay switch-ups is well-documented, but even when I'm frustrated by Sly's minigames, I find the overall experience is very much the same quality of joy I experience when I play inFamous - it's just pure platforming pleasure. Not too easy or hard, always beautiful and creative and fun, and very much harnessing the best feelings of liquid-smooth traversal the genre can provide, at its best.

Then I received an email from a nice lady in PR who's been keeping me up-to-date on Epic Mickey news, reminding me that it dropped today.

"I can't afford to buy it," I told myself. "After all those reviews complained about how frustrating the camera is, I'm not sure I want to, any more."

What about a rental, though?

"Good idea! I can hopefully beat it within the week and get a review writ!"

Mmmhmm. And the Kirby review?

"I'm on the last level - that won't be an issue."

Are you going to do it before you start playing Mickey?

"Nope."


And so, I played an hour or so of Spector's latest effort - and near as I can tell thus far, the reviews are very accurate. It's an entirely charming experience, rather striking (for a Wii game) and heavy on character. Very endearing, and not as offensively, ostensibly 'perfect' as Epic Yarn.

That's weird, eh? It's a worse game, but thus far I like it better.

I need bedrest.

Oh right, Dead Nation drops today.

Yes, I know this is almost the only time I've mentioned Dead Nation in this space. The short version is it's another zombie game. But the short version doesn't quite do it justice.

I'm not really one for twin-stick shooters, but I love the presentation and concept, here. For people who do favor the genre, you should be told that Dead Nation is made by the same folks behind Super Stardust HD - and that gives it cred.

I only have two...



But I financially participated in the purchase of four!

Kevin Butler commercials are always worth posting.

So here's two of 'em. This one is another holiday Sony TV + PS3 = huge savings at Best Buy ad. Lemmie find it...

Okay wait, no, watch this one first. Lawls.



Here's the TV Deal ad...



And here's the reason Gran Turismo 5 got delayed so many times. Oh, Butler.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Best of 2010 - atmosphere.


Atmosphere is a hugely important part of the modern gaming experience. It is a product of artistry - of controlled, intentional style - and a direct precursor to that most prized of gaming states: immersion. A well-crafted atmosphere allows and, at its best, demands a gamer stop playing a game, and start living it.


HONORABLE MENTIONS



The city beneath the sea could never be as striking and inspiring as it was on our first visit, but BioShock 2 retains the delicious dichotomy of the original game. Upbeat post-depression era music echoes through the gorgeous, decaying ruins of Rapture, substance-addled psychopaths mutter in the dark, and the player feels very alone - and very driven to return to their beloved Eleanor. A wonderfully immersive game, driven by a great narrative and an incredible setting.



While other games listed here achieve a remarkable sense of place and time through towering production values and limitless budget - arguably a more impressive feat, since more can go wrong - there's no denying Limbo's capacity to fill the player with an incredible sense of desperate loneliness, and the absence of hope.

The simple grayscale palette, two-dimensional world and characters and total lack of music mean the designers have fewer facets to screw up, and the player has fewer details to focus on. Everything here is bent towards this terrible, hellish reality The Boy wakes up in - and its austere design provides a troubling, thought-provoking, emotionally raw experience.




I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised that a JRPG deserves a spot on this list, what with Demon's Souls taking the crown last year, and like that remarkable title, Resonance of Fate strives at all turns to be very, very different. The ancient, gargantuan, crumbling tower of Bazel is a remarkable setting - as shocking and original as Rapture was, on our first visit - and the world you explore with its wrought-iron detailing, mile-wide clockwork and neo-Victorian sensibilities colors one's experience and emotions with a heady mix of ultra-hip style, desperation, and vulnerable human longing.




Heavy Rain is a story/adventure - and little else - so its success hinges entirely on the player's ability emotionally engage with the characters and their world. It is almost entirely dependent on its presentation to achieve this, and - writing aside - Heavy Rain is at the top of the class. To describe any one scene is to do the whole an injustice, but - aside from an opening sequences that dabble in positivity - Heavy Rain successfully fosters a sense of ever-building tension and impending disaster. Its music, art direction, camera work and phenomenal graphics push it well above-par, and give it a very deserving spot on this list.



RUNNER UP


Heavy Rain may have had its eye on the prize, but if any game in 2010 took technology and used it to create dynamic art, it's Red Dead Redemption. It's a very graphically impressive game - weather and light effects in particular are stunning, and provide us with the standard by which all video game sunsets shall, henceforth, be judged - but technological wizardry is just the beginning.

Red Dead Redemption sets itself apart with all levels of presentation. I'm not just talking about voice work or music or a well-presented narrative - I'm talking about how every single facet of this game is bent towards a single point: creating the spaghetti western experience, and setting the player loose in it.

Perhaps no single game this year has so successfully rendered a virtual reality. Not even the winner of this category, really - but atmosphere isn't just about world-building - it's about how easy it is for the player to slip in, and live in that world.



* * *



BEST ATMOSPHERE
OF 2010



Fallout: New Vegas
is graphically inferior to almost every title on the list, and your adventure throughout the Mojave wasteland is threatened by devils far worse than deathclaws: the game itself seems to be constantly attempting to yank the player from the experience with glitches and semi-regular hard freezes. In terms of being a product that you can reliably explore and enjoy, it is a spectacular failure, incomparable to any other game I played this year. Such remarkable, immersion-breaking catastrophes of technology, however, don't stop it from being the single best game of the year when it comes to allowing the player to submerge themselves in a rich, engaging world.

Upon examining many of its individual facets, Fallout: New Vegas should not win this category - but the experience the game provides is far more than the sum of its occasionally cracked parts.

An ever-changing story that begs to be explored again and again, retold over and over - this is not just a game to be played, it's an adventure to be lived. A world that breathes icy fear down your neck one moment and gives a knowing smile of human kindness the next, suggestively beckoning you over the next hill, and into the unknown.
"...if the setting manages to spark your imagination, and you find yourself immersed in its world (which is, I should note, most gamers' default setting) what awaits is an absolutely spectacular single-player experience. Fallout: New Vegas is a world so huge, so intimidatingly deep, so detailed and rich in its history and presentation, so inviting and inspiring that it it doesn't merely live up to the standard set in Fallout 3, but shatters it.

... and while it still has some of the sticking points of its predecessor, it provides an experience of much greater depth and breadth."
- from the review -

Game Diary.


I had a very positive initial reaction to Kirby's Epic Yarn, but as time goes by I've discovered I'm incapable of investing more than thirty minutes at a time into it. I'm just not enjoying it that much.

Today I returned home from a job interview, and once I understood that - with Brotherhood out of the way - there was nothing I really needed to play, the question became what do I want to play? The answer is The Sly Collection - it's absolutely delicious - but as I played it, it dawned on me that there is something I need to play.

"But I don't want to play Kirby," I protested!

But that's not a review.

"Isn't it?"

No. Aren't you always saying you're too easy on games? Wouldn't it be a lovely change of pace to not be utterly orgasmic about a game everyone else loves?

"That would be different."

Well then..?


So now I'm playing Kirby again. It's kinda' boring.

In memorium: Leslie Neilsen.

At 5:34 PM last night, legendary comedian Leslie Neilsen died of complications from pneumonia at the age of 84. His wife and friends were in attendance.

Neilsen's career began with serious roles - first as the ship's captain in the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet, but his most famous straight work was as the captain of the titular ship in 1972's original The Poseidon Adventure.

In 1980, he played a doctor in the disaster movie spoof Airplane!, and the rest is history.



At the time, critics complained about him being cast against type, but he responded that he'd "always been cast against my type," and said comedy was what he'd really always wanted to do. Well, boy howdy, he did it. Neilsen took an uncanny ability to fire off perfect, deadpan delivery while all around him ridiculous sight gags popped like fireworks. He could say the most insane thing with a straight face, and understood that often the best comedy comes from not acknowledging it.

Here's a (pretty darn good) montage of his work, which has some interesting highlights of his early, serious roles.



He's more than a bit of an inspiration - he did work that he loved, and gave us nothing but positivity. We should all be so lucky.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's that time of year.


CATEGORIES







(The year that was, for my blog.)







IN THE RUNNING


Before you check out the categories, you may want to first see which games are up for consideration. These aren't necessarily nominees, but for the lion's share of these awards, two criteria must be met:
(1) the game was released in 2010.
(2) I played and completed the game.
Unfortunately, that second qualifier cuts nearly every game released this year out of the running - and more than a few important, notable titles. If a title you've fallen in love with this year is given no attention, I apologize - but I have neither the time or funds to play every important game. Mass Effect 2, Bad Company 2, Halo: Reach, Fable III, Final Fantasy XIII, Super Mario Galaxy 2? Sorry, you ain't in the running on this blog.


Them's the breaks, man. Here are the games up for consideration, for 2010's Game of the Year competition.

IN THE RUNNING
At the moment, I'm favoring the same categories I had last year, but we'll see.

Best of 2010 - biggest surprise.

I'm not going industry-wide, here. News that Nintendo's 3DS is actually pretty cool? Surprising. Word that Kinect is worse than we feared? Didn't expect that. Its fantabulous sales? That's no shocker. The fact that Duke Nukem Forever will actually be released? Slap my ass and call me Lucy.

No, what I'm looking at here are games that took me by surprise - one way or another. Given that this blog is, more than anything, about my personal gaming experience, I'm going to break with the rules and include titles that I played for the first time in 2010 - not just games that were released this year.

And the nominees are...



For being yet another shitty PS3 port.

Most of us figured the era of PS3 parity had begun with the advent of pitch-perfect multiplatform releases like Dead Space, Mirror's Edge and Modern Warfare 2. Not so, with Platinum Games' sophomore release.

While the 360 version is as sharp and fast as a greased katana, the PS3 version - ported by SEGA - is significantly marred by dull colors, lower framerate, fewer effects and the most incredibly egregious load times of the year. Sony took it upon themselves to patch the game and (mostly) fix the load issues, but Bayonetta's sub-par performance on the PS3 is still a kick in the teeth, twelve months later.



For being a movie tie-in that doesn't suck.

It's no GotY contender - or even a major contender for best downloadable game - but it's still a video game created directly to cash in on a motion picture that doesn't make the player feel the least bit cheated, or dirty for enjoying. It's a little miracle, is what it is.



For that awful ending.

One of the biggest shockers this year was the way Sony Santa Monica dropped the ball on the ending for God of War III. What should have been one of the most memorable gaming moments of 2010 became an overwrought, self-important application of pop psychology in a franchise that begs to have such chaff left on the sidelines. Seriously, Stig. It sucked.



For being pretty damned good!

Few were the dreamers bold enough to hope that a little independent studio, helmed by an ex-comic book artist and his buddy, could actually make a good game that riffed on the Legend of Zelda formula while adding a little style and a lot of blood - but Darksiders really knocked it out of the park. A delicious surprise.



RUNNER-UP

For being a JRPG I enjoy playing.

You may not feel it's a big deal - it probably isn't, for you - but if I were missing two fingers, I could still count the JRPG franchises I really love on one hand. I keep trying, God help me, but when one comes along that actually manages to seize upon my imagination and compels me forward it's nothing less than a revelation.

If you have any affection for JRPGs, I cannot recommend Resonance of Fate highly enough.



* * *



MOST SURPRISING GAME
(that I played in)
201
0

For being one of the funnest games I played all year,
when it was supposed to suck.

"That game wasn't released in 2010!" you'll protest - and that's true - but if you'll scroll up, you'll see I said I was going to do this at the beginning of the post and, of all the games that caught me off-guard this year, Bionic Commando is the one that bowled me right over and still, to this day, whispers for additional playtime.

It's the game I want to tell people about. It's the hidden gem too few people know is actually pretty damned great, and it all comes down to a title that - like Resonance of Fate - is totally dedicated to doing its own thing, and nuts to any expectations or preconceptions about its genre.
"The new Bionic Commando's greatest single flaw in the eyes of critics - and greatest strength in the eyes of yours truly - is that it doesn't try to be anything else. It doesn't fumble its way through an undercooked open-world setting, it doesn't attempt a me-too cover system and it doesn't coddle its players with mechanics that take thirty seconds to learn. It's a linear, skill-based platformer built around a very unique mechanic, combined with your standard third-person shooting and a batshit crazy story.

What's lovely is that last sentence describes Bionic Commando on the NES twenty years ago and on your PS3 and 360 today. GRIN did Bionic Commando justice."
- from the review -
It's no doubt useless to try to convince you that this game is, actually, really solid - so I'll leave you with the two words that planted the seed of hope in me - a tiny, pitiful grain of salty sand that I ignored for months on end, until I saw the game new, sealed, for $10:

It's true.

a better REVIEW - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.


Ubisoft Montreal (annually now, it seems) continues to improve its newest IP. Assassin's Creed II was a massive improvement on the original title, tightening design and structure - sharpening the point of their game until it gleamed. It's only now with Brotherhood - which is, essentially, Assassin's Creed 2.5 - that I understand how these games manage to be so special. So separate from all other attempts to approach the cloud-covered peak of Rockstar Games' open-world dominance.

Brotherhood is another step forward - a minor one, which addresses the series' greatest flaw and makes it fun - but a further refinement of Ubisoft Montreal's strengths, in contrast to most other devs. It's a great game, and it showcases once again how the Assassin's Creed franchise is gunning for Rockstar's crown by quite consciously doing everything Rockstar doesn't do.


The studio's strength is unquestionably its elegant, thrilling, beautiful platforming. Their combat systems were always a bore, art direction was hit-or-miss, but they continue to be one of the best studios in the world when it comes to running a little human around a three-dimensional space - in both design and presentation. When it comes right down to it - let's ignore presentation, plot and structure - Brotherhood is an absolute pleasure to play.

While running around its gorgeous Rome and the surrounding countryside, it's easy to lose sight of just how well this game plays. The developer will gently remind us of it during optional enclosed, linear sequences that really show off how challenging, attractive and responsive the gameplay really is, and it soon becomes clear that while in the sandbox, yes, you can just latch on to the side of that building and pull yourself up, arm-over arm, that's not the way you should do it.

You should zip up a wall and rebound off it to a foothold, dash fifteen feet across perfectly-spaced boards, swing around a corner on a hanging lantern, land on another little board and then wall-run up, latch on to a beam six feet from the roof and propel yourself up with one more mighty lunge. For most every destination in the game, you'll often find Ezio Auditore da Firenze is quite capable of giving the player exactly what they want - if they're only ambitious enough to ask.


While Ubisoft Montreal was ambitious enough to approach the golden goose of open-world gaming, they did it with remarkable restraint and wisdom. Their combat has always looked great, but it's always been the most frustrating, boring part of their games - a beautiful interruption to the pleasurable platforming - and they attempt to address this issue in Brotherhood.

Their solution was to discard all frustrating elements and make it very easy - too easy - but newly elementary, ultra-stylish combat serves the purpose of removing a black spot from the franchise, and returning the focus to their strengths; beautiful animation, platforming and world-building.

Almost every major aspect of Assassin's Creed is very much in contrast to other open world games.

Ezio hoofs it everywhere. Instead of packing fifty firearms, he bristles with blades. Instead of a stylish, world-class modern city, the franchise continues to take us to beautiful, romantic cities of the ancient world. Thanks to the considered, thoughtful designs of ACII and Brotherhood and its willful mandate to simply be so damned different, the series has successfully cemented itself as The Other Successful Sandbox franchise - a feat no other action game property has really managed.


Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is, in nearly all ways, a great game. It's another sweeping, beautiful, romantic adventure from a studio that specializes in such. Presentation, art direction, music and voice work are all above-par. The combat is no longer a frustration, but a bit on the easy side. The platforming?

The running around, finding collectibles, climbing insane towers? It's an absolute pleasure. The delicious setting just makes it all the more inviting to slip in for an hour or two, and lose yourself in the simple, wholesome joy of jumping from one platform to another, slightly higher platform.


THE GOOD
-great platforming
-very beautiful
-Ezio's charming
-a huge game
-
I bought the Colosseum
-the over-arching story of AC continues to baffle and inspire
-lots of little improvements over ACII
-very unique competitive multiplayer
-combat is no longer a hassle, and even more stylish

THE BAD
-combat's way too easy
-in fact, a lot of it is way too easy
-why can't my horse gallop in the countryside?
-it's AC 2.5


THE VERDICT
A beautiful, stylish, comfortable platformer, offering an absolute glut of content and very unique multiplayer. Highly recommended.


A review (that I'm not very pleased with) in which I go much more in-depth can be found here.

I've decided that Brotherhood review sucks.


Far too long, far too nit-picky, and only obliquely explaining why it's fantastic. So, instead of deleting it, I'm going to re-title it and leave it up for all the world to see: my mistake.

That said, if you want a review that goes very in-depth in terms of what's new and whether or not it actually constitutes and improvement, the review below is ideal for you.

I will get right to work on a new, more concise, better review. Blogger awayyyy..!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

too-long REVIEW - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.

This review is far too long and obsessed with minor detail.
A more concise and broad review is here.




It's rather remarkable what Ubisoft has managed with Assassin's Creed, isn't it? Developers have been chasing Rockstar's gold standard of open world action games since 2001, and while Ubisoft's franchise had a rocky start, it has become a legitimate success in critical and commercial eyes. Very, very few other titles in the genre can make such a boast.

Fortunately, Ubi Montreal didn't just give up at the original game's tepid critical reaction. They refined and reiterated and two years later gave us the great Assassin's Creed II - a game that was, in terms of design, a huge improvement over the first title. Now, a mere twelve months on, we have Brotherhood - another step forward for the franchise, another improvement over its predecessor in terms of gameplay, but aside from a few points, it doesn't feel as markedly different or as markedly improved as ACII did, when compared to AC.

Still, that leaves it plenty of room to remain an excellent game.

Throwing a two-handed weapon into an enemy and watching them fly is... well, it's fabulous.

Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the charming, vital assassin whose formative years were traced so exhaustively in ACII returns as our lead - and thank goodness. With two games under his knife-encrusted belt, Ezio cements his position as one of the better protagonists of the current gen.

He's not a slap-headed, stoically grunting commando. He's not simply an endearing, PG-13-rated everyman or a foul-mouthed brawler or a psychopath, forsaking all else for his revenge. Ezio is thoughtful, sexual, intelligent, stylish, elegant, moral, romantic, vulnerable and totally charming - almost an anti-Altair.

Brotherhood builds on the character we became so fond of in II, pits him against greater challenges, explores fragmented bits of his youth and sends him out with a bang. There's an argument to be made for Ezio being too perfect, but that's not how he comes across. It's easy to love him - even if his Italian accent is a fake one - and because we've suspended disbelief with an unbelievable leading man, it's just as easy to buy into the world he inhabits. That world is fantastic.


Taking place almost entirely in Rome and the surrounding countryside, Brotherhood's campaign is restrained and deliberately paced, gently introducing new gameplay mechanics and concepts at an easygoing clip. It patiently guides the player through the dense slums of Rome before introducing different neighborhoods - which feature different architecture, different NPC types and different platforming opportunities - and eventually opens up to the spectacular hills and fields beyond.

The city itself is utterly gorgeous, and once you get out of it, it is really, really cool to climb the crumbling ruins of the Colosseum.

Assassin's Creed II's most visually spectacular moments came during the fireworks displays of Carnival, but Brotherhood - like Ezio - is a bit more restrained. Its most beautiful moments come from the exploration of the Roman countryside; rounding a bend on a pale horse to see the road that leads to a towering castle. Diving from a cliff into a lake surrounding an enemy fortress. Standing at the foot of an ancient aqueduct, which snakes off to the limits of the game's remarkable draw distance - and if none of those gentle images thrill you, standing on a tower and swinging the camera around to look at Rome itself is never less than stunning.


The platforming roots of the development team and the franchise are wonderfully explored - as in ACII - during linear, enclosed segments that pleasurably recall the heyday of the Sands of Time games, and remind us that, at its core, Assassin's Creed is a very fast, capable platformer. Most of the game is spent as it was in the first two, though - you run around, climb buildings and kill people with various renaissance-era James Bondian toys.

Ubisoft Montreal didn't fix what wasn't broken in last year's game, but they have addressed the series' greatest weakness - the combat. Instead of rebuilding the old systems into new mechanics, they took the combat system we're used to, added to it, and made it way, way easier.

Until you perform one of the series' elegant, savage execution animations during combat, it plays much the same as the previous games. You either wail away with your chosen weapon on a foe or wait for an opportunity to fire off a beautifully choreographed counter-kill. Once you've performed an execution kill one way or the other, Ezio is able to chain together auto-kills on a potentially limitless amount of foes - richocheting off one and into another with fluid, bloody grace in my the same way that Batman ping-ponged between enemies in last year's Arkham Asylum - but much bloodier.

Especially you, Hedonismbot.

This is a blessing and a curse. It removes all of the frustration the combat retained in ACII, and handily executes any challenge along with it. On the bright side, it looks awesome.

Besides, we shouldn't be too hard on Ubisoft Montreal - let us not forget that melee combat has always been this developer's weakest point, since Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Brotherhood's combat is the most enjoyable they've ever done. They've eliminated some (major) frustration and gained a great deal of style and accessibility.

Continuing the trend of things that look awesome but make aspects of the game way too easy are the titular brotherhood of assassins Ezio is able to recruit and call upon with a subtle whistle and a raised fist. After rescuing an imperiled citizen, Ezio can invite them to join the Assassins, and slowly develop their abilities by sending them on international hands-off missions. Level them up, and you've got a personal army of Assassistants to call upon at the push of a button.


With an eagle's cry they descend from rooftops or dash up to execute his targets, while the master himself never has to raise a finger. It's a bullet-point features list addition - a very cool, emotionally rewarding one - but in terms of gameplay it's the equivalent of giving him an overpowered magic spell on a cooldown. That said, when it's removed in future games I won't be happy to see it go. It's so cool.

Other bullet-point style additions like the parachute (largely useless) and the ability to ride horses down city streets are less important or interesting - merely seasoning to the larger, very filling meal on offer - and I found it disappointing that your horse will only gallop in two canned sequences. Why the heck do I have to lope everywhere?

Beyond that, Brotherhood is a laundry list of things done right. The game is wonderfully paced, and doesn't suffer from the drawn-out set-ups of AC or ACII. Animation is still great, voice work is strong and considered, graphics are much improved on the PS3 and the music is a real treat. It starts off strong and keeps things trucking with great set pieces and characters with just enough perceived depth to push them beyond two-dimensional archetypes.


It also manages excellent, set-piece based gameplay switch-ups that miraculously fail to disappoint. Tracking down and destroying Leonardo DaVinci's mythical war machines always leads to a new little challenge that completely changes the way you play the game for a few minutes, and these (often) visually stunning sequences never outstay their welcome.

One new addition that really is lovely are additional guidelines placed on each and every mission in the game in order to achieve "100% synch" with Ezio's life (kill the target in a certain way, complete the mission without being hit, don't be detected, etc). The player can beat the game by ignoring these suggestions, but their inclusion provides a welcome degree of replayability and challenge in a game that's in very real danger of being too accessible.


Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is not the massive leap its predecessor was. It's a refinement - a better game, a more inviting world and experience - but no great advancement are made. I suppose that's why they didn't call it Assassin's Creed III.

With a slightly-undercooked but totally unique online component, a rather ridiculous amount of side-missions and collectibles and a full-fledged single player campaign, it's a much bigger game than any of us were expecting - easily besting last year's entry in every regard.

Additions to the formula here don't always knock one out of the park, but neither is any a real failure - each of them serves to address a major issue from a previous installment, or is easily explained away - and these issues are not the lasting impression the game leaves. More than anything, it is played as a very elegant, streamlined, responsive platformer, and climbing, swinging and dashing about ancient architecture has never been better.

And besides, it's not every day you get the opportunity to fall in love with a dashing Italian nobleman.


THE GOOD
-very beautiful
-Ezio is the man
-great platforming
-a huge game
-Rome is gorgeous, and begs for exploration
-
I bought the Colosseum
-the over-arching story of AC continues to baffle and inspire
-lots of little improvements over ACII
-very unique competitive multiplayer
-combat is no longer a hassle, and even more stylish

THE BAD
-combat's way too easy
-in fact, a lot of it is way too easy
-why can't my horse gallop in the countryside?
-I really wish I could use checkpoints when going for 100% synch on a mission
-it's AC 2.5


THE VERDICT
Not a revolution, but certainly an evolution of last year's excellent entry, Brotherhood is a must-play for an Assassin's Creed fan, the best title in the series and one of the better games this year.

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Another big Assassin's Creed Game" coming in 2011.


In a short interview with the UK's MCV, Ubisoft's EMEA chief of marketing and sales said Brotherhood has been a resounding success for the company, moving over 1,000,000 units thus far in Europe alone. He gives most of the credit to the new multiplayer component, saying 60% of Brotherhood purchasers are playing online, and "many" of them are first-time Assassin's Creed players.

The important bit, however, is this:
"...what I can say is that next year we will have another big Assassin’s Creed game.”
And that's great. It is, 'cause these games are great, but even with all the improvements to gameplay and another wonderfully well-realized world, Brotherhood lacks a bit of the... splendour of II. Perhaps it's simply because it's only been twelve months since I last strapped on a hidden blade, perhaps it's the existence of this year's other spectacular open-world action game, but one a year seems like... too much.

Is that crazy? Is it crazy to say that?

Still, going on the standards set with II and Brotherhood, I'll be first in line for 2011's "big Assassin's Creed game."

A few new details about Mass Effect 2 on PS3.


Most of it's not really "new," though. It comes from a new OPM article, referenced on NeoGAF.


Casy Hudson calls the comic a save game generator.

We already know what purpose the choose-your-own-adventure intro comic serves.


Nearly $100 of additional content,all 3 major expansion packs and over a dozen on smaller Pieces of DLC altogether adds up to approximately 20 hours of additional gameplay.


We also knew it has all the current Mass Effect 2 DLC, but having it put that way - "nearly $100 of additional content" makes it sound like a rather fabulous deal, doesn't it?


The PS3 version will also feature 3 years worth of engine updates and every patch release for the game.

So... wait, you're using the identical engine the 360 version runs on? Won't that be... well, a major issue?


The developers promise that they are not taking any shortcuts"Oftentimes when you got to the PS3 you see stuff like down-resing and using a smaller than 720p resolution to try and get back some of the framerate.We haven't done that says producer Jesse Houston,we really wanted to try to make it as good, if not better than the Xbox version."

Oh, good then. I don't believe you, though. But I do want to.

So I like, totally beat Brotherhood.


And the ending is like, "aw - dude!" and then you do the last Christina mission and it's like "augh! Dude!"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank goodness: you won't drive the Batmobile in Arkham City.


Word is, in the new issue of GamesTM magazine, Rocksteady co-founder Sefton Hill addressed the issue of in-game vehicles a'la the Batmobile, Batwing or Bat Cycle:
"There aren't any playable vehicles in the game. What we've really focused on is Batman himself. We see him as the ultimate vehicle."

Looks like he can still get around pretty well:


He also obliquely mentioned interest in Robin, but only said he had potential to be an "interesting and exciting" character.

It's certainly a wise move, excluding vehicular transportation from Arkham City - nothing pulls a game like this down a few notches like an undercooked gameplay switch-up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Elder Scrolls V confirmed in development at Bethesda.


Nope, their next project ain't Fallout 4.

The news was broken by Eurogamer Denmark, and the story was promptly removed from the site - but this is the internet, and the word's out. In the article, they said they could confirm the game's development "without hesitation." Eurogamer Denmark's head honcho Kristian West also said,
"[our] source not only confirmed that the game is in current production, but also spoke briefly about the content — with fantasy-sounding phrases like Dragon Lord, something with The Blades — and that voice acting for the characters in the game is currently happening in the weeks to follow"
Now the question is, will Elder Scrolls V be another goddamned Gamebyro Engine game, or will Bethesda take advantage of id's gorgeous new Tech 5 engine? The answer, it seems, is neither.

In an article covering this year's QuakeCon (which is basically id Software's personal PAX), IGN spoke to Todd Howard, Game Director at Bethesda. He "explained in a separate interview with IGN that his game would not use id Tech 5. The studio's new engine built for its upcoming title is more beneficial to creating huge, open-world games, such as Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, while id Tech 5 is better for more contained environments."

So, there you have it. No Tech 5 for Fallout 4, or Elder Scrolls V. In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Todd Howard said more about their "new" engine being used for the unannounced title, which doesn't sound all that new at all:
Eurogamer: Is it fair to say then that it's based on existing technology?

Todd Howard: The technology is ours and it is inspired by the technology we have. We have a lot of it. But that's our starting point - the Fallout 3 tech. It started with Morrowind, we went to Oblivion, we did a lot between Oblivion and Fallout 3 because now we had final hardware - with Oblivion we had six months on final hardware, so Fallout 3 technically does a lot more than Oblivion. The new stuff is an even bigger jump from that.

I can say it is on the existing platforms, which we're really happy with. You almost feel like you have a new console when you see the game.


The next question is when? I'm betting late 2011, if not 2012.