Friday, September 30, 2011

The Battlefield 3 beta is public!


Up now and available for all on PSN! I've got it downloading, but I'm feeling so damned wrecked today that my intention is to wrap myself up in something a bit more indulgent and relaxing: Dead Space 2 with my awesome surround sound headphones.

A trusted source about all things Battlefield suggests that 3 fixes some issues and has some interesting tweaks - the ability to blind foes with "tactical flashlights," for example, and the fact that XP-per-kill is based on who did the most damage to the enemy.

Afterfall: InSanity. ...coming this November?


Between this and I Am Alive, winter 2011 seems rather stuffed with high(ish)-production-value downloadable offerings. I'll admit, I'd never seen or heard anything about this game until today - and it's hard to pound out any hard facts on it.

GameTrailers is convinced the title is PS3-exclusive, but doesn't list any developers or a release window. Wikipedia believes it's multiplatform, and is based on a whole strange Afterfall universe which sees the U.S., Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union engaged in a new cold war.

The game seems to be developed by Intoxicate, a studio associated with something called The Nicolas Entertainment Group (neither of which I've heard of, or can locate any information on). Also listed among the game's partners in the above trailers is CD Projekt - the Polish publisher responsible for The Witcher franchise.

This is... weird. It doesn't look precisely great - in fact, it looks like a bullshit attempt to capitalize on the success of Dead Space - but if the price is right..?

* * *

Ah - found some firmer info:
  • Detailed and extensive environments set in post-apocalyptic versions of real-world locations
  • Expansive levels with giant cities, tunnels, bunkers and deep minesAn exciting and rich story with unexpected twists and turns in the dark world of Afterfall
  • Extensive weapons arsenal with myriad types of opponents for thrilling cinematic close and long-range combat
  • Dramatic soundtrack further enhancing the dark atmosphere sure to evoke goose bumps and enhancing the tension
  • State-of-the-art effects thanks to the newest Unreal-Engine 3
Here's the important bit:
"The Windows PC version of Afterfall: InSanity will be available world wide in November 2011. The game will then be ported to other platforms soon after."
Alrighty! Nothing I have to worry about any time soon.

I approve.

Just watch it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Syndicate reboot gets a trailer.


Now here's the question... if I'd never played Syndicate back in the 90s - if I didn't know what that game was or otherwise had no attachment to it - how would I react to this trailer?

Mmmmeh.

We'll have to see what else this brings to the table - 'cause I've shot plenty of mans from a first-person perspective in a sleek, futuristic world.

I Am Alive coming... this winter?

So dig this trailer - it looks much like what we saw leaked last month.


A few words from Ubisoft Marketing Director Adam Novickas:
"We know people have been waiting for this game to arrive, and we believe it's going to be worth the wait. I Am Alive presents a unique take on the post-apocalyptic, survival genre by creating more complex and emotional situations for the player. Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network are the perfect platforms to leverage the mature and challenging experiences of the game."

Coming to PSN and XBLA? It's not a disc release? Doubleyou tee eff.

Just what is Ubisoft trying to pull, here? Are they attempting to redefine the way potentially-major titles are released on consoles? 'Cause I don't know about you, but - going on that trailer - I would buy this game in disc form without a moment's hesitation.

Spending $40 for it off the PSN? That's another story.

I don't know what to think, any more. Dogs and cats living together!


Mass hysteria!

That. Is exactly. What I'm talkin' about.

Yuss!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hello, old friend. You're looking well.


Today, in a fit of irresponsible lunacy - and precisely in keeping with my plans - I picked up the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection. I also laid down a preorder on Dark Souls, and Kayla was awesome enough to pay (entirely) for a preorder of Rage.

Allow me to repeat that, in italics. She bought me a video game - and the way she tells it, she loves the way I tend to ramble on about this game director or that development studio.

Oh yes. This one's a keeper.

Personally, I can in no way shape or form afford the Collection. It's flat-out stupid of me to purchase it - similar, I suppose, to Wander's flat-out stupid willingness to approach a ten-story creature with nothing but a sword and a grip meter. It's certainly not in our best interests - but it's done for love, and that makes it alright.


Firing the disc into the PS3 and hearing those familiar strings follow the flight of a hawk over a lonely canyon... it's instantaneous. I'm right back in this lonely, gorgeous, romantic place.

It's just me, Agro and a sword that catches the light. White shores and green fields. Gentle music, and eventually the thrum of impossibly huge feet cracking dry earth.

It's... like settling down over a cup of coffee with a friend you haven't had a proper conversation with in years. A good friend.

Oh, it's you. I'd forgotten the way you smile. That odd sense of humor. I remember the ebb and flow, now. I remember the way we clicked, just so. Ahh. That's comfortable.

It's good to see you again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Woo! Shank 2!


The ultraviolent, gorgeously-animated 2-D playable cartoon Shank was, without question, my favorite downloadable title of 2010 - so I'm pleased as punch to hear that Klei Entertainment is bringing the noise and the funk for Shank 2, due for release on PSN and XBLA in 2012.

You'll likely notice the telltale glow on the bat above - you can indeed pick up enemies' weapons and wield them (a classic move of the brawler genre), and it sounds like co-op will be a much bigger deal this time around, with full online support. Shank only supported local co-op.

According to Klei's Jamie Cheng,
"What we did was rip the game apart and reconstruct it to allow us to have more responsive controls and better graphics. We tore our combat system apart... and created new controls to be able to use the enemies' weapons against themselves."
"Rip." "Tore." Even designing Shank 2 is a violent process.

A few sketchy Dead Space 3 details.


Last night news broke from a source who leaked news of EA's Syndicate reboot a few months ago, shedding some light on the direction Dead Space 3 (which hasn't officially been announced yet) will take.

  • Isaac is back (yay!).
  • His ship crashed on Tau Volantis, an ice world with constant white-out blizzard conditions.
  • Ellie survived the crash (yay!).
  • They team up with someone named Jennifer, a techie who wants to "reverse engineer research by a group called Rosetta."
  • The game's main enemy is known as "the Hive Mind."
So it seems, aesthetically, they're going in a different direction here. It's worth noting that the boss of the first Dead Space was often referred to as The Hive Mind - is this, perhaps, the capper of a Dead Space trilogy?

SMBC Theater - George Lucas.

And just the other day I was bitching about Lucas's latest "improvements" to the original trilogy.

If you're unfamiliar with Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, allow me to offer a great gift. This is, without question, the most reliably hilarious webcomic I've ever read, and it's had a comfortable spot in my sidebar for months. SMBC also dabbles in sketch comedy, and I've come to appreciate it more than even College Humor's little snippets of funny.

New Dark Souls trailer.


The song is All Saints Day by The Silent Comedy. The Silent Comedy also provided the awesome track Bartholomew for the previous trailer.

Also - hey look, there's a new weapon type - the whip. I'll be stickin' to steel, thanks.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Six minutes of blurry DmC gameplay.

Shame about the resolution. It's strange, but I'm still not un-sold on this game.

New AC: Revelations trailer is worth the monologue.

Specifically because it answers the question of what Ezio does when he whips around at the end of the awesome E3 trailer. Shame about the lack of Woodkid, though.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Games of October 2011.


With Dead Island, Resistance 3, Gears of War 3 and two noteworthy HD up-port collections, September was a pretty healthy month for gaming. October is even beefier, with four huge releases that won't likely seem out-of-place in this December's Game of the Year discussions.



* * *


October 4th
Rage
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : Day one.

I was chatting with Kayla the other night about Rage - and the storied history of id Software. "Remember a game called Doom? That was id - and John Carmack." I listed off their major titles, and how each came with a new technology that defined a generation of games. With Rage, that tech is id's megatextures. It's worth noting that an id game is often less impressive than the tech it is built on - but I for one have always been inestimably comfortable in the games they offer. Doom, Doom II, Quake II, Doom III - all just feel right to me - and it'll be a cold day in Hell before I let the release of a new id game pass unmarked.



October 4th
Dark Souls
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter : Day One.

2009's Demon's Souls was one of the two best games of the year, and I expect nothing less from From Software's spiritual sequel. If a review of Demon's Souls does not move you, consider this : the giant white wolf with the sword in its mouth at the top of this post? That's from Dark Souls.

Giant white wolf with a sword in its mouth. Hell yeah.



October 4th
Payday: The Heist
PS3, Steam
Hype-O-Meter : Pass.

I'm rather cynical about Payday. It feels like nothing more than attempt to capitalize on the team-centric, objective-based multiplayer shooting of Left 4 Dead - just without the zombies.

Does that sound like brilliant fun to you? Me neither.



October 11th
Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster
360 (Kinect)
Hype-O-Meter : I'll never buy it, but I support it.

I support Tim Schafer, and by extension Double Fine. Given that Once Upon A Monster is 360-exclusive (along with their last downloadable title, Trenched), I like to think that Microsoft is pouring some sweet cash money into the bright-eyed but commercially unimpressive studio - and that's nothing but good news for people who love beautiful, creative, unusual gaming fare.

That said, I certainly won't be picking up their latest game. I don't own (or want) a Kinect, I've not been the greatest fan of Sesame Street for the past... twenty years, but I selfishly want this game to do well - 'cause I want Brutal Legend II.



October 11th
Sideway: New York
PS3
Hype-O-Meter : Ooh la la...

All I know about Sideway is contained within this trailer. That's it. It is pretty and cool and original and it's due out on October the 11th.

What I'd like to know is how much it will cost and how long the game is - 'cause if it's short and cheap enough to not draw me away from Rage and Dark Souls for long, I'll be in like Flint.



October 18th
Batman : Arkham City
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : Day one.

Rocksteady's Arkham Asylum was the first really great Batman game ever, and one of - if not the - best superhero games ever made. The title's totally unique yet pleasantly skill-based combat rewarded the vicious, patient style that one feels Batman himself would employ - and the other stuff was fun too.

Arkham City promises to be bigger, better, meaner and more heavily populated with Batman's ridiculous rogue's gallery. As with Asylum, Arkham City won't likely be the Game of the Year for 2011 - but it will probably be on the short list.



October 18th
Ratchet & Clank : All 4 One
PS3
Hype-O-Meter : What the fuck did you do with my beloved franchise?

I am a huge Ratchet & Clank fan - don't think my library is missing a single title in the series - but I'll be giving All 4 One a wide berth come October. These have ever been single-player centric games, and while I can appreciate that multiplayer is where the money is in 2011, I don't appreciate the thought of never playing a classically-styled R&C game again.

The very idea makes me sad. Sad panda. Frownie face.



October 18th
Rocksmith
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : This one has potential.

Rhythm games are all but dead, but Rocksmith is trying something different. Made at Ubisoft's gargantuan studios in Montreal, this is a Guitar Hero-esque title that promises to teach you how to actually play guitar.

It comes with a USB jack for your PS3/PC/360 that plugs into your guitar where an amp would, and the better you get at actually playing guitar, the better you get at this game.

I feel that's just bloody brilliant - aside from the fact that you have to spend the required cash to actually own a guitar in order to get the most out of it - but I sort of pray Rocksmith is a success regardless. This could set a lovely precedent.



October 25th
Battlefield 3
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : A military shooter I actually want to play?

I never liked Modern Warfare, I didn't try EA's Medal of Honor reboot and I still haven't played the copies of Bad Company 1 and 2 in my library - but everything I've seen of Battlefield 3 just makes me salivate.

I'm not big on the military shooters - not having cared for one since Medal of Honor: Allied Assault on the PC back in 2002 (which was, oddly enough, made by the crew that left EA and started Modern Warfare's studio Infinity Ward) - but Battlefield 3 is poised to change that. I don't know if I'll be picking it up - that'll likely depend on where I'm at with Rage, Batman and Dark Souls - but I doubt I'll be able to get through December without snagging DICE's next shooter.

* * *

And there you have it - October 2011 is one monster of a month. I can't wait for the 4th!

This feels very wrong to me.


Dead Island's Xian Mei kicks ass. She is, in RPG terms, the glass cannon. She can dish out a ridiculous amount of punishment with bladed weapons - often one-shotting all but the most stalwart foes, and those gigantic Rams? Fugeddaboutit - but she's also the one who can take the least amount of damage.

Of the four player-characters, Xian is the most morally grounded. Where the others will often argue about the best way to keep themselves safe, Xian's concern is with the people they are able to protect.

She is a wonderful, strong, sexy character. Sexy? Yes - but I feel somewhat sick to the stomach about this shit. Ech.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sony bows to the id.


A little over a month ago I wrote
"If you paid attention to John Carmack's keynote speech at QuakeCon this year, you'd know that (at that time) they were still in talks with Sony to allow Rage to install more than the standard 5GB to the PS3's HDD in order to get that console's version up to spec."
Thank the lawd, today we got word about what to expect from the console versions of Rage. The Xbox 360 version will span three discs, and - yes - you can install all three to the hard drive. The PS3 version is confined to a single disc, but requires a whopping eight gig install.

I know what you're thinkin' - but this is good news. Rage's sweet new tech - megatextures - relies on the ability to constantly stream a very wide band of information into memory. While the PS3's Bluray disc does have a massive storage capacity, one thing it kind of sucks at is quickly streaming a lot of information. It simply doesn't transfer bits and bytes as quickly as the 360's disc drive or your computer's DVD-ROM.

Sony have only ever permitted a 5GB install for disc-based games (Siren: Blood Curse, which was download-only in North America, required about 9GB). It's very likely that Rage's PS3 version would not have been up to snuff had Sony stuck to their guns on this, and allowing id to install 8GB for Rage offers a greater promise of console parity.

Good, says I. Ten days to go!

Friday, September 23, 2011

So what's with the slim pickins lately, Chance?


I just had a date!

[update] Ugh, I just wanna' gush about everything. Not gonna', though. Gonna' stay cool. [/update]

Batman: Arkham City The Joker trailer.


I don't think any game of 2011 has had as many straight-up sweet trailers as Arkham City. If this doesn't get you all fanboy-giggly, we are on two very different wavelengths.

Some shitty cam footage of Uncharted 3!


I stopped watching at about six minutes. The quality sucks, to be sure, but that's not my problem - I don't want to know any of this until I have my own precious mitts on it, sitting before my own HDTV with those sweet 7.1 headphones on.

Still, if you want to hear Nolan North being charming and see some previously-unseen footage of Uncharted 3 - here 'tis!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wrecked.

Growing as a person is exhausting. I'll write something substantial tomorrow, pinkie promise.

Eugh.

Also, these headphones ain't bad. They certainly do add a new dimension to Dead Space 2. I'll try to do up a reasonable post on them when I've put oh... say the amount of time my brother has put into them. Worth the $120 I paid? It was for him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oooh, some Shinobido 2 footage.


GameTrailers has about ten minutes of footage from TGS, showing some of Shinobido 2's mechanics. Unfortunately the action is often paused so the presenters can explain things - like if you throw an item in front of an enemy, the enemy will investigate that item (!!!) - but it also showcases that if you're looking for a game to satisfy the itch that only Tenchu could scratch, this may be it.

Ready At Dawn movin' on up to the PS3.


Ready At Dawn have my deepest affection, if not outright love. Aside from working on Okami's Wii port, the studio has almost exclusively stuck to the PSP. To be honest, I didn't think enough of Daxter to put more than an hour into it, but the work they did with Sony Santa Monica's God of War license certainly made one sit up and take notice.

They have a better grasp of narrative than many developers working on the high-powered consoles, and with Chains of Olympus showed they were capable of seriously pushing some hardware beyond its comfort zone. Ghost of Sparta remains the best-looking PSP game I've ever seen, and a wonderfully fun game besides.

Word dropped today that the studio is moving on from other people's IPs to create one of their own, exclusively for the PS3. Ready At Dawn co-founder and creative director Ru Weerasuriya told Eurogamer recently that their title will be a story-driven action-adventure, similar to Uncharted.
"It's the kind of game we're going to make. I'm just glad they (Naughty Dog) did it first. It should prove to everybody it's doable and it's worth doing that kind of stuff."
The only part of this that gives me pause is the fact that this would be RAD's first foray onto the PS3 - a cumbersome piece of programming kit that has made fools out of many a studio. After several years with the PSP they were able to max the hell out of that hardware - I wonder how well they'll do their first time at bat on the PS3?

Likely the studio's close relationship with Sony will grant them some access to the brain trusts of Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica and the folks at the ICE Team. The ICE Team is an internal Sony group in the same building as Naughty Dog down in California. They don't make games - they just make it their business to help first-party studios make PS3 games look as good as possible.

Here's hopin'.

Hmm... with a Dualshock..?

Blizzard has flatly said that it's working on Diablo III for consoles, and it is with that eye that I watched a few minutes of gameplay. As a general rule, Diablo-likes are not my wont - but as I watched this final seven minutes of the Diablo III beta, I found myself wishing I was that monk, beating the shit out of those skeletons.

By the way, I highly suggest you go full screen and crank it to 1080p.


It wasn't until halfway through the video that I actually noticed the mouse pointer dashing all over the screen, guiding her deadly work - which is when I realized that I could easily perceive this as a console title, controlled with an analog stick and eight buttons.

I want that. I didn't realize how much until today.

* * *

Oh, and speaking about stuff gleaned from Kotaku - hahaha I'm really starting to love From Software.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get hyped.


This image is shown for a split-second in a short piece from an Israeli TV station.

That's all I need. Given that Dead Space was exceptional and Dead Space II remains one of the best games of 2011, the (presumably) further adventures of Isaac Clarke are a no-question day one.

Oh God, I know exactly where Blobert is coming from.

An email conversation with my brother, about Star Wars.

From: Matt.
Subject: So long fond memories.




From: David
Oh God I hope that's not real. Why can't he just let us have our nostalgia?



From: Matt
That's 100% real. There's at least one other stupid/hilarious change.
I'm thinking he's trying to turn them back into B movies from blockbusters



From: David
Oh I am so going to blog about this.


* * *

The problem is, Lucas thinks of Star Wars as his movies, not understanding that those original three - just the way they were - are part of our culture. This is Shakespeare going back to Romeo and Juliet to get rid of that whole suicide thing, and change every reference from a sword to the much-more-trendy musket.

Lucas, if you want to keep on fucking with our childhoods, that's fine - but at least give us the option of having all the special effects re-did in CGI with Jabba The Hutt getting his tail stepped on by Han Solo. Give us the choice between your Star Wars (which is clearly special to you) and the Star Wars we grew up with. The Star Wars we watched as toddlers and thrilled to.

'Cause that Star Wars is pretty damned special to us. And there's millions of us. You sonofabitch.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Assassin's Creed: Revelations has a sweet bonus on PS3.

The awesome E3 trailer.

I knew there was a good reason for preordering this thing (aside from the Penny Arcade poster). Word dropped today that launch copies of the PS3 version of Assassin's Creed: Revelations will include the original Assassin's Creed in all its glory.

One should note that the first Assassin's Creed is easily the worst game in the series, with many faults and flaws that have been subsequently ironed out with the pretty-awesome ACII and the exemplary Brotherhood. I expect Revelations to be nothing less than one of the better games of 2011, and having the original on the disc is just a nice little party favor, as far as I'm concerned.

I suppose it's also worth pointing out, the original Assassin's Creed never supported trophies - and the version included with Revelations won't either. Still, never look a gift game in the mouth, I say.

Persona 4: The Ultimate In Mayonaka Arena trailer.

Now, y'all know I have nothing but love for the Persona games, particularly 4, but...


...I'm reminded of the flood of me-too fighters that erupted after Street Fighter II's success back in arcades and on the Super Nintendo. It's great that it's being developed by Arc System Works, but beyond that I see no great reason for this game to exist. It's simply another fighter with licensed characters - as if Capcom took their Street Fighter playstyle and just slapped in some Disney characters.

...on the other hand, that sounds kind of awesome. For the record - should I ever play this game - I call Chie.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

REVIEW - Dead Island.


If there were a method of correctly and accurately qualifying every aspect of a video game - an ultracomputer, perhaps, that would read a disc and spit out a printed page of percentages - Dead Island would be found wanting. It boasts a laundry list of lacks, and while a review is a critical eye leveled at a product, it is also the product of one perspective - it's an opinion.

In my opinion, Dead Island is not one of the "best" games of the year. It behooves me to warn you about its bugs, its mediocre graphics, its crap narrative and infuriating system of auto-saves - but I would be remiss in my duties if I did not advise you that Dead Island is easily one of the most tactile, thrilling, immersive and when all is said and done fun gaming experiences of the year.

It is, therefor, one of the best titles to drop in 2011. I love this game.


As a first-person open-world RPG, Dead Island draws immediate comparisons to Bethesda's Oblivion, Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Where an exhaustively realized world of branching plot lines define those experiences, Dead Island sidesteps the areas other titles have already defined, and sets out to create its own archetype. It brilliantly succeeds, by way of its thrilling first-person melee combat.

Others have tried, but no first-person game I've played has done it better. Period.

It is perhaps best described as the Yin to Bethesda's Yang. One accepts the middling combat of Oblivion and Fallout because the world, its narrative and your effect on it are so compelling. Here, one shrugs and accepts the amateurish narrative because it is the thing that permits you to wander off into its world and get in awesome fights with zombies - and these fights are awesome.

Lose your head and they are a frantic, panicked affair - desperately swinging your bludgeon at a swarm of grasping, cold and rotting hands that will tear you limb from limb in two shakes of a lamb's tail. Keep your cool and you are a grim reaper of dead souls.

These eleven zombies
are screwed.

A lone zed, ambushing you, is dangerous all on its own, so it pays to be keenly aware of your surroundings when sent out on another dull quest - but it's not the quest that matters - it's being sent out that's important. That's the fun part - and thankfully, it's 97% of the experience.

You often see them long before they see you, and can plan your attack. Fools rush in, as they say, and staying alive is about staying in control of the situation. It's about managing the crazy, screaming, dashing Infected and the shambling Walkers. It's about jump-kicking a dude in the face before you turn around and bring your sledgehammer down on the head of a fallen, living corpse, giving you just enough time to turn a few more degrees and bash another killer into the dirt.

Don't stop. Stay in control. There's more coming. Bring that hammer down again.

It is - when your cool is kept - elegant, practiced, and deliciously savage. When a pack of six zombies rush you and you walk away without a scratch, a bloody mess in your wake, it's one of the most satisfying, rewarding feelings I've had with a Dualshock.


The game's atmosphere is also a winner, with dynamic music reacting to the combat (or lack thereof), and lovely, gentle orchestral tracks when you're in a safehouse or during a moment of quiet. The razor's edge risk-reward of the game's combat, combined with its capable-but-not-exemplary visuals prove intensely immersive.

Each of the game's three main, sprawling locales have a distinctly different feel. The bikini'd brain-hungry babes of the Royal Palms Resort have a wonderfully exploitive feel, but most rewarding are the claustrophobic slums of the nearby city of Moresby, where cramped alleys and squat homes turn the rumblings of distant dead into an ever-present chorus.

There are a few linear components - the interiors of major buildings, or a trek through the sewers - that are slightly less successful, but these more-directed jaunts benefit from a few lovely set pieces. There's something intensely pleasing about dashing up to a zombie and jump-kicking it through a third-story window, for example.


Developer Techland is best-known for the decent-but-not-great western FPS Call of Juarez and its decent-but-not-great sequel. With Dead Island, they have achieved a game that skids dangerously close to genuine brilliance.

I love the way your character will confidently offer the zombies a come-hither motion, or defensively change their stance when an enemy notices your presence. At first it simply seems badass, but one quickly realizes it's the game's way of telling you when danger is coming. The game's system of maintaining and upgrading weapons with found money - and taking ten percent of your bankroll away upon death - at first seems counter-intuitive and restrictive, but proves a very elegant system of rewarding the player as their skill improves without truly punishing those who are coming to grips with the game's vicious combat. Upon death you simply pop up somewhere nearby, with all your ammo and weapon durability as it was when you fell - it's like BioShock if the VitaChambers took from each, according to their means.

At the same time, Dead Island is a far cry from what we demand of a major release. I have lost fabulous weapons thanks to the game's insufferable autosave feature - others will clip through the world to never be seen again, or become lost beyond an arbitrary invisible wall you cannot breach.

Honestly, what the hell?


Techland perhaps bit off more than they could chew, here. This is a very ambitious title, and it often takes a studio prepared to pay more than a pound of flesh to rattle out an open-world game that veers dangerously close to perfection.

Techland - and their budget - simply aren't gargantuan enough to throw down with the big dogs, in terms of overall quality and production values. The writing is elementary, the voice work is mediocre, the graphics are merely decent.

I don't care.

I love slapping a battery on a two-handed samurai sword named after an immortal scene from Pulp Fiction which delivers a debilitating electrical charge on a critical hit. I love walking along the beach and kicking at bodies, just to make sure they're dead-dead and not un-dead. I love stalking through the filthy alleys of Moresby with nothing to depend on but a fire axe and a hard-won education in zombie genocide.

Most of all, I love it when a pack of zombies see me, turn to me, and start running. I grip my weapon, grit my teeth and smile - 'cause this is gonna' be awesome.

THE GOOD
  • fantastic, strategic, tactile and visceral first-person melee combat
  • fun
  • excellent atmosphere, and an often significant sense of immersion
  • fun
  • some really good music choices which are pleasantly dynamic in and out of combat
  • did I mention it's fun?
  • I love that the cast consists of a variety of authentic accents, given its setting
  • I can see my feet!
  • it's an open-world first-person melee-centric RPG about a zombie outbreak
  • I'm rather fond of the level design
  • when using the fast-travel feature to go to a location on the same map, it's instantaneous - very impressive!
  • phil la marr
  • undead in bikinis


THE BAD
  • long load times between the huge maps - but you often spend between six and ten hours on a single map
  • major texture pop after loads
  • bugs! Bugs, everywhere!
  • mediocre voice work and worse writing
  • auto-saves, you can go to hell. In fact, hand me that fire axe - I'll help you get there
  • I've never been able to get a co-op game going, but in the game's defense I never tried that hard at it. Should I have to? (No.)

THE VERDICT
Dead Island offers one of the funnest, most rewarding experiences of the year. Buy it.

Persona 4 : The Golden is looking good.

Straight from TGS, Andriasang has gifted us with some big, beautiful screenshots of Persona 4's upcoming Vita version, and I must say I'm rather pleased with how things look. It's not a significant generational leap - it's no Uncharted: Golden Abyss - but things are looking bright and bold and sharp. While the Shin Megami Tensei games have always had scrumtrulescent art direction, it's wonderful to see one that's also somewhat... well, clear. No fuzzies and few jaggies, here.

Open in new window/tab to enlarge.





Personal note.


I just experienced what can only be described as a beautiful, beautiful evening.

I don't think I'll write about it any time soon, but let me just say that... things worked out.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sleepy.

There are no words to describe how exhausted I am. Perhaps there is such a word, but my severely reduced mental and physical capacity prevent me from identifying it. Is there gaming news? Sure. Lemmie break it down quick.


Apparently the first thing you notice about Lollipop Chainsaw is that the gameplay feels really, really good.


Felicia Day stars in upcoming Dragon Age II DLC.

This trailer for Silent Hill: Downpour, featuring a song by Korn, sucks ass.

I wish I could say I'll write something more substantial tomorrow, but it will be another long day. My apologies, dear reader.

God, I'm desperate for sleep. What a day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Gravity Rush trailer!


Gravity Rush is Gravity Daze (formerly Gravity)'s North American title, and one original Vita title I'd love to get my mitts on - it takes a stylin' platformer to make me forget the magical girl cliche.

Did you know this game is from Keiichiro Sotoyama, who created Sony's (criminally underrated) Siren franchise? I just learned that today.


Dead Island devs put DLC on hold to attack bugs.


There's DLC planned for last week's Dead Island, but thankfully we won't be seeing it any time soon. While Dead Island is one of the funnest and most immersive games of the year, no one can argue it doesn't suffer some technical foibles - which is pretty much par for the course when a developer tackles an open-world environment for the first time. Even the mighty Rockstar can't keep GTA and RDR bug-free.

Instead of getting right to work on the game's DLC, Deep Silver's folks are hard at work getting the game's multiplayer connectivity and autosave issues - along with a few others - under control.
"Right now the Dead Island development team's priority is working on fixes and updates across all platforms so that we can take care of all the fans who have been so supportive of our game. There is some awesome DLC content planned for Dead Island, but first we have to put all our focus on the base game experience."
As Sinamoi would say, good on ya', mate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finally, some footage of Max Payne 3!

There's been a king's ransom in PS Vita news coming out of TGS - including battery life, which is rather worrying. There's a Japanese release date for Final Fantasy XIII-2, there's an idiotic new peripheral for the 3DS, and... there's three trailers that one should be paying attention to.

Finally, finally, finally - we get a look at Max Payne 3 in motion.


And a release window! Yayyyy!

Now... as someone who invested a ridiculous amount of hours into Max Payne and Max Payne 2, I can't say I'm precisely thrilled with some of the changes, here. No, I'm not talking about Max's beer gut and shaven pate - I'm talking about the way MP3 handles bullets.

Y'see those weird-looking grey trails they have to show you the path of bullets? Not pleased with that. In Max Payne and its sequel, they simply rendered the bullets with enough clarity and had such a handle on their time-slowing mechanic that you didn't need crap like that. The important part was watching the bullets fly from barrel to target, and seeing the impact in glorious slow-mo.

Don't get me wrong - come March 2011, I'll be picking up Max Payne 3 without fail - but this trailer has not instilled the greatest of confidences in me. At least the narrative seems up to spec.

* * *

Additionally, from TGS, there's news that Zone of the Enders HD collection will utilize transfarring and be playable on the Vita. There's also a new trailer for Devil May Cry that shows off a lot of navigation and the dynamic changes to the world, which is cool - but what kinda' made my jaw drop is this trailer.

Not even the trailer itself, per se, but the name : Fatal Frame 3DS. Commenters point out that the game's title doesn't actually translate to that, but it's a new ghosty camera-centric game from the team that makes Fatal Frame, and that's close enough.

Really, Temco? The goddamned 3DS? When the PS3 and 360 are just sitting there, desperate and clawing for a good current-gen survival horror title? Honestly, when was the last time we saw one of those? 2008?

Beat Dead Island.


The game is either mediocre or poor in nearly all the areas we expect our triple-A titles to excel. Its graphics are serviceable, its technology is sub-par, its voice work is spotty and its narrative is useless.

I think it's one of my favorite titles of 2011. Review soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The anti-iPhone iPhone game.


Occasionally I'll be out and about with friends, and a lady will suggest I friend her over Facebook.

"I don't do Facebook," is all I can tell them. No one, from eighteen to eighty, ever expects that. It's as if no one's ever told them that before. "Now ask me if I have a cell phone."

I love throwing the second part in - it's a one-two punch of weirdness. What's odd is occasionally, their response will be something along the lines of telling me I'm super-cool.

Naturally, my knee-jerk reaction is that that's sarcasm, and they're basically telling me I'm criminally out of sync with modern society. After all, it is cool to own a cell phone and be on Facebook. I'm sure of that, because that's what (almost) everyone does. By definition - by popular vote - that's what's cool, and so I am, by definition, not cool.

I'm not trying to be anti-cool, I'm just... very thankful for all the problems I do not have.

I don't have a cell phone for the same reason I've never eaten poutine or watched the first season of Breaking Bad - it just seems like another product I may develop an appetite for, which is something I don't need. I don't want to care about what's happening on Facebook and I don't want to be one of these folks who are constantly checking their cell phones to see if I have a new message or text or, worse yet, to write a text in the middle of a conversation with a real life person.

Some globally morally-conscious folks have a very different reason for being against the whole cell phone thing, and they made a very brief iPhone game to show off why. It was available for about three hours before Apple pulled it - but not before a friend of Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton bought it, played it and recorded a video of it.


Odds are pretty good that you've got an iPhone or at least a cell phone, but don't let these far-more-true-than-we'd-like-them-to-be nuggets of knowledge guilt-trip you at all. This is part of the whole North American consumer thing. You know the PS3 is also made at Foxconn (where all those employees killed themselves), don't you? You know all modern consoles require what are called "rare earth metals," which are often found in less-than-civilized lands?

So don't sweat it, says I. The moral implications certainly have nothing to do with why I don't own a cell phone - and shouldn't have anything to do with why you do.

Just... do us a favor and stop texting at the dinner table.

Dear Sony: Nyah nyah nyah. Sincerely, Nintendo.


Nintendo had their pre-TGS presser yesterday, and there's little to say about it. They've got a new second-circle-pad peripheral for the 3DS which everyone agrees is pretty idiotic, given that the system that was released four months ago, Mario Tennis and a new Paper Mario game were announced for their struggling handheld and games we already knew about were shown again.

And then... there's this. The Monster Hunter series is classically associated with Sony's PSP in Japan. The game is always met with an explosion of sales in its native land, but its iterations have rarely seen western localizations - and find little success when they come our way. A great deal of the PSP's clout in Japan is seen as being due to Monster Hunter, and Nintendo has scored the next full sequel in the series for the 3DS.

Sony must be pissed right off - and if not, they should be. One should note, this isn't the first Monster Hunter title to appear on a Nintendo platform - Monster Hunter Tri dropped on the Wii back in 2009, and is due for a 3DS port called Monster Hunter Tri G.

With Monster Hunter 4, Nintendo just made the 3DS a must-own platform for thousands of ravenous fans in Japan. Burn. Burn on Sony.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Remember when this blog was about video games?

I'm well aware that I've been a bit lax in my posting duties lately. My head's been a whirling miasma of Crap Going On In My Life - but rest assured I am still hard at "work" on Dead Island.

I reckon if I keep on writing Game Diary posts about it, I'll be left with nothing to say when it comes time for the review - but I will say that I am far, far more impressed with the core of this game than I expected to be, and I suspect it will be honorably mentioned come December's 2011 recap.

Also, I started writing the below post last night, so technically I didn't miss a day. Right? Right?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I'm afraid I'm very pressed for time.

So let me merely say I had a lovely evening last night.

I communed with a deer and sent my first-ever text message, which was agreed upon all-round as being one of the greatest text messages ever sent.

It was good times, and I'm sorry to leave you with such meager writings - but that is all I can offer, today. Umm... here's where to find the chainsaw in Dead Island?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dead Island is all about the journey.


The stories in Dead Island are poignant or weak-ass filler, depending on your perspective. It all boils down to standard RPG fare - go here, push a button and/or kill zombies, and return - but the pinch of narrative and paltry quest rewards aren't the real reward the game offers.

It's the go here that makes this game lovely. Honestly. Lovely.

Back at the Palms Resort, things were a lot easier. You could trust your ears and see a Z coming from sixty yards away. The slums of Moresby are another beast entirely.

A light tropical rain is omnipresent, and the claustrophobic alleys and apartments play tricks on your hearing. The groans and roars of the dead echo from all around - you're never sure where it's coming from until you turn a corner and find yourself faced with a half-dozen infected humans.

The infected are more dangerous than a dead man who's been reanimated. These guys are faster. Stronger. Angrier - but either way, a sharp edge to the neck cures what ails ya.

I bristle with sharp edges. Two cleavers, an electrified machete and a new personal favorite - a fire axe - are my bread-and-butter, but I try not to use 'em much. Sawing through meat and bone wear down an edge quickly, so I lean on martial arts as much as possible.

Kicking a zombie will interrupt their attack and stagger them. Jump-kicking a zombie will lay it flat on its ass, but costs a hefty amount of stamina - and once they're on the ground, a heel to the skull is all it takes to finish them off. No fuss, no muss.

Well, that's not true - the muss is significant.

I stalk the streets with a mix of apprehension and grim confidence, my fire axe heavy in two hands. When a zed sees me, my character gives it a 'bring it on' motion, gesturing with the two fingers that hold the neck of the axe. The axe slams into them with the force of a sledgehammer, but cuts like an edged weapon - the best of two worlds - but it's heavy, and slow to swing.

Taking down three or four zombies without getting scratched is a legitimate challenge - and when three gang up on you, they can put you down in very short order. You've got to be careful. You've got to control them.

You've got to knock them to the ground as quick as possible - without exhausting your precious stamina meter - and keep them there as you dispatch them. A single flying kick can knock over two or even three, but it's impossible to stomp them all while they're down.

Just get 'em down, and bring that axe into their necks. Turn around - the other two are getting back up. Kick 'em again and watch them ragdoll into the pavement.

Bring that axe down again.

The third one is getting back up. Bring the axe down again.

In the corner, there's a red propane tank. Pick it up. It slows you down - you can't run with it - but I carry it with me, just in case. Down blind alleys and through streets turned jagged with smashed and burning cars, I drag the thing along until I near my objective, and the half-dozen zombies that surround it.

Throw the propane tank. The game automatically switches to any firearm you may have equipped. Bam.

I may be in love. There is a very long list of things wrong with Dead Island, but it gets one thing - the most important thing - incredibly right.

No words. Should have sent a poet.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Damnit. Game of Thrones is really good.


A few weeks ago I went to a walk-in clinic.

"How long until I see the doctor?" I asked.

"Waiting times vary," the receptio-nurse told me. A stock phrase which refuses to suggest a time span, so people can't get upset when they end up waiting two hours after being told "about ninety minutes."

"Okay then," I mused. "How many people are ahead of me?"

She thumbed through a bunch of folders in front of her. "Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight. Nine. Nine people."

"So I've got a few minutes, then?"

"A couple."

I went across to a bookstore and poked around. They had all the Game of Thrones books out and nicely cheap. This was that HBO series everyone's been talking about all year. Some new series that people go mad for like House or Mad Men or Breaking Bad.

As a general rule, I keep away from such things. I don't care about Breaking Bad because I've never seen Breaking Bad so it's not a problem for me that I should miss an episode.

Getting invested in the series is similar to getting deeply involved in the Disgaea games - that's hundreds of hours I don't have to spend playing those games, because I've barely sniffed at them and don't care about them.

Still... everyone was talking about it. I bought the first book and settled into a reasonably uncomfortable chair in the clinic's waiting room.


After zipping through the first book I picked up the second and, having secured the knowledge that the first season of the show covers (precisely) the first book, I gave HBO's new wunderkind a spin.

It goes without saying that the books offer far more depth of character, but having fallen for the Seven Kingdoms and Arya Stark and Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister it's just wonderful to see them realized in the flesh, holding swords and standing in the snow and looking very serious and beautiful.

The books are... sort of what one would like The Lord of the Rings to be if one were to pick them up and be disappointed at how dense and unwieldy Tolkien's prose is. I know it may go without saying, but these books are made to be read, and while they are exceedingly accessible they still brim with subtlety and substance. The characters are richly-defined and well-realized, the plot is labyrinthian and when all else fails, Tyrion Lannister is hilarious.

It's not often I suggest a book, but if you're in the market for some well-crafted fantasy you could do much worse than A Game of Thrones.

Also, I know there's a lot of sex in the books, but God damn, HBO - you love puttin' breasts and nipples in like, every second scene, don't you? I wonder if it's some North American puritan bullshit that makes me go hm at it - 'cause as a general rule, I love breasts and nipples - but I still find it off-putting. Unnecessary, perhaps.

Of course, on the other hand - yay nudity!

Good on ya, Sony.

Word dropped today that The Last Guardian will make no appearance at the upcoming Tokyo Games Show. A shame, that. But I'm sure it'll come out some day. Fortunately, some good news appeared as well.


This is the inside of the cover at that will appear on The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection, due out on September 27th. Much like the Resistance 3 box art, it seems the slip for the Collection will be reversible! Instead of this...


...we'll have the option to switch to the lovely art seen above. It should be noted that ICO's North American box art was downright fugly compared to the lovely painting that graced the cover of its Japanese and European releases. Well done, Sony. (Golf clap.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dead Island's animations looks very different in third person.

You heard that the version of Dead Island that was released on Steam this Tuesday was a dev build with all the console commands built in and a litany of bugs, right? Well, using those console commands you can view the action in third-person, which highlights that Dead Island is really not meant to be seen that way.

I like to think these animations are for the benefit of the player in first-person, but what do I know?


I'd just like to reiterate, though - I really appreciate that Dead Island does the first-person thing where you can see your feet. I don't know about you, but it drives me nuts when I'm tooling around in a first-person game, look down and it's as if I'm an eyeball with a gun on the end, floating in space.

It really adds something to the experience - though I'll admit it was jarring at first to look down and see a slender pair of feet in a woman's sensible but professional pumps.

* * *

Also, did you hear that Battlefield 3 will run in 1280 x 704p on the PS3 and 360? The CoD guys are gonna' go nuts with that one.

Grand Knights History tops the charts in Japan.


Grand Knights History remains my single most-anticipated release for the PSP - and I worry dearly that we won't see a localization, as the PSP is acknowledged to be all but dead outside of Japan. I am given a smidgen of hope, today, as the game debuted in Japan at number one, outselling the monstrous Monster Hunter Portable 3rd HD Ver (they're more likely to localize a game that sells well, yeah?).

Which reminds me - I need to import a copy of Grand Knights History. Can't take that risk.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Game Diary - Dead Island.


Yeah, this was a pretty good call.

I'm favoring Xian - pictured above - who's pretty handy with a blade. What really works in Dead Island, so far, is the first-person melee combat. It manages to be panicked and frantic one moment (when you're freaking out, madly slashing at four or five zombies on top of you at once) before being perfectly planned and executed the next.

It is rather satisfying to see a crazed zombie surf bum rushing you, effortlessly throw your Flimsy Kitchen Knife into its gut, kick its in the face to stagger it as it gets closer and yank the knife from its stomach to stab the thing in the cranium and finish the job.

Once I figured out how it works, I find it really works.

I also find the movement a bit interesting. It's not precisely elegant. 'Stilted', I suppose is the best way to put it - jumping over obstacles is a very inexact science - but I like that each footstep you take seems to have a gram's worth of weight to it. You're not a floating eyeball in this world - you have substance and inertia - and that works really well. I love that I can see my feet.

Also, does anyone else notice that the blood shine and color seems straight out of BioShock?

Digging it so far.

Monday, September 5, 2011

An unexpected internal conflict.


The other day, as I was writing the Games of September post, I summarized two titles in a way that made me question myself.

Dead Island, I said, may be good or bad but was an open-world action RPG about zombies, and open-world action RPGs about zombies - I like to think - are like pizza. Even when they're not that great, they're still pretty awesome.

Resistance 3, on the other hand, I said will no doubt be an excellent, high-quality and well-polished shooter from my beloved Insomniac, with the craziest weapons this side of, well, Insomniac.

Over the weekend, though, I got to thinkin'... am I just being stupid for buying Dead Island instead of R3? I pretty much said last week : Game A might be kinda' crappy, Game B will definitely be pretty damned good - I'll be buying Game A!

That is pretty stupid, is it not? On the other hand, zombies...


Tropical zombies...

I'm torn. Honestly, I am straight-up conflicted about this.

It would perhaps be wiser of me - in terms of doing up this blog - to go for Dead Island, as my default setting tends to be more forgiving than most, and it's far too rare that I really bitch about a game.

At the same time, I've always played the Resistance titles years after their release - and as a general rule, that's the worst possible time to play and judge a game. I'm never judging the Resistance games against an accurate peer group - I'm always judging them against all the newer more technically-accomplished games that have come out in the intervening years.

I love Insomniac. I almost feel like I owe it to them to take this final chapter in the Resistance saga, pay them full price for it and give it its due in review form.

On the other hand, tropical zombies.

* * *

Let's get back to this post's point and purpose. What do you think?

At the top of the blog, on the sidebar, just under the header image you'll find a poll. It's a simple question, but one I clearly have difficulty answering. Please, take this two-ton responsibility from my shoulders and share a bit of the burden - which should I buy, play and review?

Help me, internet. You're my only hope.

[update] Annnd polls closed. Dead Island it is - 57% to 43%. Thanks for your help! [/update]

Sony taps Freddie W for "Future Motion Control Gaming."


...it's pretty much one of the tamest things I've ever seen Freddie W do. I wonder what he would've done with the Resistance license if he wasn't told very specifically what he could and couldn't do with it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dorkly makes funny video game videos.

Dorkly - which is, regularly, the source of hilarious sixteen-bit video game animations - put out this fantastic examination of the implications of Tails' longevity yesterday.


Anyone who played Sonic 2 back in the day should be laughing their asses off about now.

The above video got me thinking. First off, while there hasn't exactly been a flood of modern games that emulate their 8- and 16-bit ancestors, there's been a good handful - wouldn't it be awesome if they took the sharp writing of Dorkly/Collegehumor/Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal sketches, combined that with Dorkly's animation of ancient sprites, and used that to tell their in-game story?

Would that go too far in shattering the nostalgia games like Mega Man 10 provide?

I think not. I think it would be scrumtrulescent.

Moving on. After seeing the above video I was reminded that Dorkly has given us so much video game hilarity, they really deserve a shout-out for it. I poked around the site's archives a bit, and found another few videos worthy of a chuckle. Dig it.