Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Muramasa Rebirth DLC is on its way to North America!

I find this news doubly thrilling, perhaps, as I've been listening almost exclusively to the Muramasa soundtrack on my iPod this week.  Check out this gorgeous gameplay trailer of Okoi the Nekomata and her adorable/stylish cat combat!

After seeing it, and hearing that the (first of four) DLC will drop in Japan on November 7th, I immediately tweeted XSEED to find out when we'd be getting it too.

Oh my God.  I'm a bad gamer.

I was about to tweet Aksys and be all casual about it when Aksys tweeted this, which confirms the DLC's localization and links to this, which I'll repost in its entirety:
"Aksys Games is pleased to announce that the long anticipated “Genroku Legends” DLC for Muramasa Rebirth will be arriving in North America starting with “Fishy Tales of the Nekomata” in early 2014! Muramasa Rebirth, the highly-acclaimed PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system action RPG, utilizes PlayStation®Vita system’s OLED screen to bring the vibrant world of mythical Japan to life! With additional stories, new gameplay, special bosses, and more, “Genroku Legends” will reveal new chapters in the Muramasa Rebirth tale. 
About “Genroku Legends”

Featuring entirely new stories set in the Muramasa universe, Genroku Legends (Genroku Kaikitan in Japanese) contains four tales based on Japanese folklore. Players will be able to control four entirely new characters, each with a very different fighting style, ranging from Okoi, who uses her claws to fight, to Gonbe, the farmer with one strong hoe for a weapon! Aksys Games will be releasing all four Genroku Legends tales to the PlayStation®Network both in North America and Europe!

About “Fishy Tales of the Nekomata” – Not Your Ordinary Cat Lady

Tasked with taking a prized tea set to the shogun, Okoi and her brother set out on a journey to Edo. However, Okoi’s family’s chief retainer will stop at nothing to retake the tea set from Okoi. What once was a simple courier service mission just got a lot more dangerous!

New Weaponry – Unlike Kisuke or Momohime, who use the powerful demon blades to rain death and destruction down on their enemies, Okoi uses her razor-sharp claws as well as a myriad of special powers to claim victory in battle. And by fusing with her companion Miike (mee-ke), she can transform herself in to a truly formidable foe.

Enhance Okoi’s Abilities – As Okoi primarily uses her claws to attack her foes, the “Forging” mechanic has been replaced by a skill tree that will allow you to improve and strengthen her various abilities.

Meet New Characters and Fight New Bosses – A host of new characters, enemies, and final bosses are present in Okoi’s adventure, as well as her feline compatriot, Miike. The “Fishy Tales of the Nekomata” DLC is chock-full of new foes and evil fiends, all inspired by traditional Japanese folklore!

Go Paw-to-Toe with all of the Bosses – Once players have completed “Fishy Tales of the Nekomata,” they can take on all the boss characters in the main Muramasa Rebirth storylines! Test Okoi’s prowess against the toughest foes in the game!"
Day one!

Lately - I suppose just because I've had the soundtrack jammed into my ears - I've been debating whether or not Muramasa is better than Dragon's Crown.  Despite both being incredibly gorgeous sprite-driven action-RPGs, it's kind of an apples-and-oranges situation.

Muramasa, I feel, is more aesthetically stunning.  Dragon's Crown, though, is intensely beautiful in its own way.

Muramasa is more packed with charming little details, but Dragon's Crown has a far deeper and more satisfying combat system.

Muramasa has better music, I'm prepared to attest, and a far better narrative - but Dragon's Crown doesn't want to bog itself down with narrative, as its focus is entirely being a game that one feels the desire to play and play and play for 100+ hours.

It comes down to this, I reckon.  Muramasa is a more charming experience.  Dragon's Crown is a better game.  A better value - but, despite the amount of time I've invested in it, despite how much I love Dragon's Crown, I have an affection for Muramasa that does not die easy.

Alright Basement Crawl, now you've got my attention.

Observe this creepy-ass teaser.  Observe it!

Now you've got me interested, Basement Crawl.  I've been hearing about you since E3, but weird concept art like this happy little fellow

wasn't enough to really excite me.  The story of an unfortunate child kept locked away from the world by a demented grandmother?  That's original.  So let's post your press release from last week, shall we?

"Basement Crawl is a strategic action game featuring creepy characters, challenging environments and exciting maze-based competitive multiplayer. Created by Krakow-based indie developer Bloober Team, Basement Crawl will launch within the PlayStation® 4 launch window as an exclusive title for the new system. 
In the game, players will face-off – with up-to-eight players online or up-to-four via local play –in grid-based arenas as they race to set diabolical traps and explosives in order to hinder or defeat their enemies. Basement Crawl will feature four classes, each utilizing a variety of unique bombs and power-ups, allowing players to mix and match strategy for each class. 
Basement Crawl features an unforgettable and entirely mesmerizing style with disturbing characters and spine-chilling settings. The game, however, forgoes exaggerated violence to create a sinisterly clever but engaging experience that remains both edgy and entertaining.
Basement Crawl is the first must-have downloadable game for PlayStation 4 and an incredible addition to the independently developed game collection on the system. 
Game Features 
• An Engagingly Unnerving Style - a ghoulish but entertaining presentation inspired by classic grindhouse movies, twisted horror films and even other games, such as Manhunt. 
• Classic Gameplay with a Modern Twist - brings together the best gameplay elements of classic titles like Bomberman with modern technology and online features. 
• Multiplayer - players can battle to be the best against others either locally for up-to-four competitors or online for up-to-eight contenders. 
• An Awesome Party Game - easy-to-learn gameplay and a focus on multiplayer fun makes Basement Crawl the perfect house-party fragfest. 
• Classes and Characters - the game features four unpredictable and macabre characters, each representing a unique class, and each sporting special abilities and skills. 
• 2.5D? - Basement Crawl is made with a 3D-engine, but presented in classic 2D, allowing players to control the position of the camera while enjoying dynamic lights and effects. 
• Arenas - nine uniquely hair-raising arenas are included for players to master and conquer, including the Slaughterhouse, Restaurant Dungeon, Abandoned Circus and more. 
• Online Features Include - Leaderboards for comparing highest scores with friends and other players; Party chat for PS4, Trophies, Invites, Ranks."

I wanna' see some gameplay, Basement Crawl, but you've done it.  Now I've got my eye on you.

Watch this Lords of Shadow 2 trailer.

Watch it so hard.


South Park pushed back to March 4, 2014.

But it's okay, 'cause in return we get seven minutes of pure gameplay!

Keep pushin' it back, I don't care - just keep showing us fantastic gameplay like this, and I'm all yours.  I will totally dust off my PS3 next March to play this thing.

Plus, it's Obsidian Entertainment.  Delaying games is what they do.

Contrast backstage trailer.

Sigh.  I wish it was still coming to Vita - but it still looks charming as all get-out nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hellraid pushed to 2014.

No big shocker, given its almost complete absence from the media, lately (which reminds me, I should look into how Starlight Inception is doing) - but it's nice to get the straight skinny from the horse's mouth.  In this case:
"Since we started developing Hellraid we have had a clear goal to create a game that we all would love to play. We wanted to pay tribute to the best aspects of classic titles we grew up on and enhance them with new ideas, modern technology and extensive co-op that would provide players with dozens or even hundreds of hours of pure and bloody fun.

If we released our game this year we would have to make too many compromises and the final product probably wouldn’t meet all our promises and your expectations. That’s why we’ve made a tough decision to release Hellraid in 2014 or to be more precise: when it’s done.

Why? The additional time will give us the chance to add new features and completely new game modes for single player and co-op that until now we haven’t had time to finish. We also want to use this time to rethink a few things. Playtesting our game with fans and players who visited our office gave us a lot of fresh insight and new perspective on many aspects of the game. For example we want to redesign the magic system to make it even more powerful and diverse, add new ways of casting spells and a set of new, more visually stunning spells.

We believe that with this decision Hellraid will deliver all that we’ve promised and even more."
Y'know what, Techland?  I don't care that it's delayed.  Not because I'm not super-looking forward to the next thing you put out, but because I'm super-looking forward to whatever you put out.  You have your hooks well and truly in me with the Dead Island series - the only series, in my opinion, to actually get first-person melee combat right - and I'll be a good boy and wait patiently for whatever you want to make. So go, make that game - I and my wallet will be here when it's done.

Heavenly Sword feature film trailer.

Yes, really.  It's straight CGI, and it looks... cheap.  On the other hand, the story and the visuals were the best parts of the game, so maybe it's not such a bad idea.

At least they've got Anna Torv back as Nariko, but it doesn't look like Andy Serkis will reprise his role as King Bohan.

Dead Rising 3 Halloween trailer.

Time to play dress-up!

Got a hundred and sixty questions about the PS4?

I just ask because Sony threw up a 160+ answer FAQ on the console, today.  Nice round number, and all.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 demo walkthrough.

Straight from All Games Beta.  God these games have incredible music.

No Titanfall on Sony platforms ever, says exec.

Earlier in the year, all the execu-speak surrounding Respawn Entertainment's (awesome-looking) Titanfall told the same tale - that it was a timed exclusive for Microsoft platforms, and would eventually come to PlayStation consoles.  It was plain as day.  Today?  The tune has changed.

During a conference call at (publisher) Electronic Arts, CFO Blake Jorgensen said Titanfall is exclusive to Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC "for the life of the title."  This took even Respawn lead and storied Call of Duty developer Vince Zampella by surprise, as he subsequently tweeted "Always MS exclusive at launch, great partner and focus is good for a startup. EA made a deal for the rest, we only found out recently =("

When asked if Respawn would ever make games for the PS4, he replied "Of course we will, just not the first Titanfall."

Now... let's assume this is actually true.

That sucks.  It's great for the Xbox One, no doubt about that, but as a console-centric gamer like myself who doesn't intend to buy a second, more-expensive next-gen console (and certainly not one that monitors my pulse as it shows me commercials), it sucks.

I want to play Titanfall and I probably will.  Let us, then, assume that this is just more execu-speak.  How can we yet come to the conclusion that Titanfall may still land on the PS4?

Take, for example, Ninja Gaiden.  Remember how Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden 2 were totally and fully exclusive to the Xbox?  Ninja Gaiden 2 would never appear on another console?

Well - true to their word - Ninja Gaiden 2 didn't appear on another console.

This one's called Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. It's totally different!

So let's all keep our fingers crossed for Titanfall Titanium or some such tomfoolery.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Walking Dead season 2 is exactly what we wanted.

These four little words will set a million hearts a-flutter: 

You.  Play.  As.  Clem.

(Click to embiggen.)

 Squee your hearts out.

Press release!
"Leading publisher of digital entertainment Telltale Games and Robert Kirkman, the Eisner Award-winning creator and writer of The Walking Dead for his Skybound imprint at Image Comics, have officially revealed The Walking Dead: Season Two - A Telltale Games Series, which is now available for pre-order on PC/Mac via the Telltale Games Online Store as well as Steam. The second season will make its highly-anticipated premiere later this year on PC/Mac, home consoles and iOS, with additional platforms to be announced.

The Walking Dead: Season Two - A Telltale Games Series will continue the story of Clementine, a young girl orphaned at the outset of the undead apocalypse, now left to her own devices to seek safety and survive in a world gone mad. Now assuming the role of an ordinary child, players will struggle to outwit both the dead and the living in situations that will test their morals and control the flow of the story through their decisions and actions.

"The terrifying nature of Robert Kirkman's world has allowed Telltale to push the boundaries of interactive drama in video games to a place that has had fans anxious to know what will happen next in this series," said Dan Connors, Co-Founder and CEO of Telltale Games. "Today we can finally lift the veil, albeit only a little, on how this story will continue, and we'll soon be putting players in the shoes of a lead role that will challenge their expectations of how to survive in a world where no one can be trusted."

Expected to premiere later this year, The Walking Dead: Season Two - A Telltale Games Series will consist of five episodes that will be released for digital download over the course of the season and will conclude in 2014. Players can save 10% off of the purchase price of the PC/Mac versions with a pre-order of the season pass, giving them access to all five episodes for the total cost of $22.49 USD or equivalent when ordering through the Telltale Online Store, or through the Steam digital distribution service."

Oh, I couldn't be more thrilled.  But no, I'm not buying it on Vita unless the Vita version drops day and date with its console counterparts.

Can't wait!  Eee!

Three Things.

Thing The First
Grand Theft Auto V shipped twenty-nine million units to retailers.  No idea how many of those are still on store shelves, but let's do some quick math. Take-Two, remember, got paid at least $45 for each copy (this 2006 article suggest retailers employ a 25% markup, but some are said to be anywhere from $10-15 - so $45 is the conservative estimate).

29,000,000 x $45 = one billion, three hundred and five million dollars.


Thing the Second
A ton of comparisons hit the net today and last night, going over the differences between the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions of Battlefield 4.  A lot of it is kind of false equivalence - YouTuber jackfrags, for example, seems to be of the opinion that multiplayer footage on the PS4 is equivalent to campaign footage on the Xbone - so as usual, I'll suggest you head over to the cool heads at Digital Foundry to check out their exhaustive and technical comparisons of the two.

Which one looks better?  You don't even need to click.  You already know.  That's right - that one.

[update] Haaaah!  Don't worry, Xbox fans - it'll get better.  It did for the PS3. [/update]

Thing the Third
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Battlefield 4 reviews from the enthusiast press went up today, and while their Metascores are in the mid eighties, they're nowhere close to breaking the coveted nineties, with both games suffering quite a few 7/10s.  Ubisoft and EA are likely none too pleased with the scores for their marquee titles, but let's be honest - these games were gonna' sell like hotcakes anyway.

Just wait - Call of Duty: Ghosts could get flat 6/10s from every reviewer on the planet and it'll still sell ten million copies.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Clem is back in The Walking Dead season 2.

We'll find out more tomorrow, and that's... really all the news there is on the 'net tonight.  Unless you count the rumor that Xbox One's OS is currently screwed right up and Call of Duty: Ghosts' Exctinction mode is exactly what you thought it would be.

And so I'm off to get in as much Batman as I can before I need to crash out, because sleep and I have not been on the best terms, lately.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The earliest of Impressions - Batman: Arkham Origins.

It's not as good as Arkham City.  Period.

All the moving parts are here, but they aren't assembled as elegantly as you'd find in a Rocksteady title - and that's ignoring technical issues like hard freezes and mission markers suddenly disappearing, which wouldn't be such a problem if the map weren't really, really big.

It doesn't feel like it needs to be this big.  It feels like it has this much real estate just so they could say "a world map twice the size of Arkham City!"

Technical foibles I can stand, but the craft of the package is also lacking, when compared to the last two games.  I buy that this is Batman and that's the Joker, but this feels like a less loving rendition of the Batman mythos.  The folks at Rocksteady really loved Batman, and you could tell - it seeped from every inch of Arkham Asylum and City.  I've little doubt there are many folks at Warner Bros. Montreal who love Batman too, but I get the sense that some of the team, at least, was just tryin' to put out something halfway decent and get their bills paid.

And it is halfway decent.  It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination - it's just not as smart and polished as one expects of the series.  It's not a game that's strictly in tune with the player's Gamer Sense, regularly offering puzzles with an answer one couldn't reasonably intuit, regularly demanding mechanics that don't entirely work as described.

It's not bad, to the point that I have every intention to keep playing, and am keeping hope alive that it will get better - but, ladies and gentlemen, this is no Arkham City.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

REVIEW - Grand Theft Auto Online.

This is the only decent picture I could find of a black Declasse Sabre Turbo as represented in Grand Theft Auto V.  Not my baby at her best, but it'll do.  She's got cool, muscular, classic, swooping lines.  A broad stance, slightly skittery traction and a ton of torque. She can skid out just hitting the gas and turning the wheel.

I say my baby because my black Declasse Sabre Turbo with the classic hub caps, 10% armor panels, first-tier engine upgrade and tasteful hood choice is my car.  It's the car I hunted down and chose, the car I pay insurance on and had a tracker installed in.  It's mine.  I chose it.  I customized it.  I drive it every day, and I know how she handles every crest and curve in the road.

Grand Theft Auto Online grants a similar sense of ownership over the player's experience that Grand Theft Auto V's campaign does not.

That's my hood mod.  Right there.  Don't need no fancy blower, no sir.
I will spring for the underside exhaust pipes when they unlock.

In the weeks following its very awkward launch, Rockstar has smoothed out GTA Online's issues of connectivity and trustworthiness, and at this point it's a reliable bit of fun each night.  The login issues have disappeared, for me.  When my better half has fallen asleep I'll strap on my headphones, hop in my car and dash up the eastern highway to rob some convenience stores, slowly building my bank in the hopes I can buy a nice big apartment with a ten-car garage one of these days.  My character and car haven't disappeared again and I haven't lost any purchased items - but that may be because, in my pathological saving, I still haven't dropped so much as thirty grand on a small, shitty, two-car garage.

Simply keeping my character - a rough-and-tumble blond with an affinity for black leather with strange scars on her arms (no idea how they got there) and a large scar/birthmark thing under and over her right eye (no idea how that happened) - loaded for bear.  After a night of constant, soloed missions on Wednesday my bank balance had finally broken $150,000.00 - no easy task, in the days since Rockstar halved the payout for all missions you've played more than once (robbing convenience stores pays twice as much as some very tough missions, now - but don't complain, or they'll reduce what convenience store robberies pay!).

My plan was to get to $150K and save that amount for when Rockstar's first half of the "stimulus package" dropped, as that would get me to $400K and afford me the priciest apartment in the game, which comes with a heist room and a ten-car garage.

At this point I had hit level 25, so I stopped by Ammu-Nation to see if any new weapons had unlocked, and lo and behold, I now - finally - had access to an assault rifle.  For twenty thousand dollars.  Ugh.  Oh well - it's a worthy upgrade.  And really, if you buy the assault rifle you should buy the clip upgrade, and all the ammo you can carry.  And I really shouldn't wait until level 52 to get the highest-power sniper rifle - the entry-level gun would do, for now (another twenty grand), and if I get a sniper rifle I should put a silencer on it...

I walked out of that Ammu-Nation with $84,000.00.  Lot of work left to do.

My lady kinda' looks like this lady, but a lot less pretty, a lot more leather and a lot more badass. 

But Grand Theft Auto Online rarely feels like work.  There's one Lester mission in which I'm obliged to land a helicopter on a rooftop while a bunch of goons perforate me with small arms fire and no extra lives that I didn't much enjoy after a half-dozen attempts to survive it.  On the final attempt the helicopter stopped spawning, so I just gave up and started robbing convenience stores again - but, that notable exception aside, it's a helluva lot of fun.

Just cruising up a coastal highway lookin' for trouble is a simple pleasure all on its own, swooping around traffic in my big old boat of a muscle car, Worldwide FM on my radio.  I'll generally rob stores until an invite to a mission pops, and if it's not competitive - if it requires one-to-four players, not two-to-eight, or so on - I'll give it a whirl and see who I end up with.

Sometimes it's my brother, and he'll take me on a tour of high-risk, high-reward high-level missions (the level cap seems to be 150).  Sometimes it's a random idiot who'll yabber on about anything in his field of vision for the next ten minutes, die as soon as bullets start flying, spectate until I beat the mission and then exclaim "a girl?!" when he sees the mission passed screen.

Once it was a "yo yo homie" kid and a plain-talkin' guy who seemed to know each other.  We had to intercept a big rig hauling a tanker full of gasoline.  The semi would take the freeway up to the turnoff to the highway, head north a ways on the eastern highway and pull off into an industrial park a mile or so outside the city, where a ton of goons with high-powered weaponry (and cops) waited to put us down.

I didn't know that, the first time we tried the mission, the three of us.  I had spawned in a tunnel and it took a few minutes just to get to my car as cohorts jetted after the semi tanker.

They caught up to it at the industrial park and promptly died.  Then, one of them respawned, and as the NPCs opened fire at them, the tanker blew up.

Try again.

This time, I caught up to the tanker ahead of the others, parked my car across two lanes of the highway and waited for the semi to come to a stop so I could jack it.

As my allies had been harassing the driver already, he wasn't prepared to take things easy, and flattened me. I respawned, we all caught up to the tanker together and they thought the best thing to do would be to shoot out its tires so it would stop.  And stop it did!  Then, the kid got in while the other adult and I tried to intercept the cops crawling all over us, popping tires and ramming them away from the tanker.  The kid took the tanker up the highway out of town - no idea why - but wasn't able to get very far without, y'know, wheels, and soon had the tanker jackknifed across an overpass, the big rig hanging off the edge of the overhang until again, crossfire hit the wrong spot and boom.

On our third attempt, I made myself a waypoint on the freeway just inside the city, got into my Sabre Turbo and dashed after our prize, leaving my allies in the dust. I came to a screetching halt just inside the city lines, where the freeway turns off onto the highway, got out of my car and started walking down the freeway as that big, looming shape bore down on me.

I raised my MP5 submachinegun.  Took a breath, held it, and aimed for the driver's seat.

Brakakakakakakak!  The lead fills up the driver, he collapses on the steering column, the big rig's horn calling out one loud, long sound as the tanker careens into the lane divider and comes to a stop.

I haul his carcass out, get in, and - for the first time in the round - speak into my mic: "Got the tanker - just drive away and don't bring the cops to me."  Then, I turn the rig into the city and down the first alley I find as the flashing lights fly past.

And there, I wait until the stars go away before I back out and deliver the gas.

Grand Theft Auto Online is thick with wonderful, individual stories like that. I saved the day.  I stood in the middle of a freeway and faced down a semi tanker that wanted nothing more than to flatten me.

The story of That Guy Whose Name I Can't Remember, who single-handedly defeated Wave 7 of a survival mission when the rest of us died way too early - choosing his cover perfectly, never risking too much of his lifebar, and belting out rounds on a heavy machinegun - that guy was awesome.

CarbonFire, a highlevel player who also frequents a message board I visit, who helped me win three races in a supercar so I could unlock that first engine upgrade for my Sabre - who later asked for a hand with a particularly nasty Simeon mission which requires the player catch two cars, one of which is a Coquette blasting around Los Santos's freeways like a bat out of hell.

The story of my brother, who shows me the ropes of crazy highlevel missions I may never, otherwise, get a chance to experience.

The story of the NPC that disliked it when I carjacked him and put a $7,000 bounty on my head, and the player who came after it.

Blasting up the eastern highway to escape the city (and maybe rob some stores), I pulled up my map and noticed a white dot barreling up the highway towards me.  Forgetting about a store robbery and now fully engaged in the idea that this guy should not get seven grand for killing me, I hit the gas - but it was too late.  Uzi fire splashed across my car, chipping away at my life bar.

I switched to the grenade, and popped the pin.  I blasted up the highway, swerving in and out of traffic, but he was on me like glue and never lost an inch in the chase.  The grenade in my hand began to shriek its warning, I glanced at the minimap to gauge his distance and dropped the bomb.

Boom - "Bad Sport!" the game tells me, "You have destroyed another player's personal vehicle!"

Yes I did.  And I'll do it again, to any motherfucker who comes after me.

And that's my story.  That's not a script Rockstar wrote, a linear sequence to be guided through - for while GTA Online has its structure, that structure is merely a latticework for players to monkey around in.  It is multiplayer GTA as it should be - a jungle gym for players to work together in, find solitude in, or just go nuts in.

My experience with GTA Online is unique in the precise same way yours is.  This is my character, my car, my stories, my adventures - an epic of our own making, that we can feel genuine ownership of.  GTA Online is one of, if not the, most engaging, enjoyable experiences 2013 has yet to offer gaming.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Xbox One Invitation TV commercial.

Now that's a good ad.

BioShock Infinite : Burial at Sea drops November 12th.

Anything else you need to know?  Oh all right.  Press release!

"2K and Irrational Games announced today that BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 1, the second add-on content pack for the award-winning BioShock Infinite, will be available for download worldwide* on the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and Windows PC starting November 12.

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 1, developed by Irrational Games, the studio behind the original BioShock and BioShock Infinite, features Rapture as you’ve never seen it before — a shining jewel at the bottom of the ocean, built almost entirely from scratch in the BioShock Infinite game engine. Join Booker and Elizabeth in a film noir-style story that places them in a shining, pristine Rapture on the eve of its fall from grace. Explore the underwater city, try your hand at a grift or two, and even encounter some old “friends” from the original BioShock.

The combat experience has been rebalanced and reworked with a greater emphasis on stealth and resource management that merges the best parts of BioShock and BioShock Infinite. It includes a new weapon, an old favorite weapon from the original BioShock, the return of the weapon wheel, a new Plasmid, new Gear, and Tears.

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 1 will be available via online marketplaces on all participating platforms starting November 12, and can be purchased separately for $14.99, or as part of the BioShock Infinite Season Pass. The Season Pass, which is currently available for purchase, contains $35 of playable content for $19.99, including both Burial at Sea episodes, the previously released Clash in the Clouds add-on pack, as well as the Early Bird Special Pack that has powerful weapon upgrades, exclusive gold weapon skins, and infusion bottles to upgrade player abilities.

"This is a love letter to the fans, but it's also the beginning of a story that will give gamers a new perspective on the BioShock universe," said Ken Levine, creative director of Irrational Games. "With Burial at Sea, we built a Rapture not from BioShock and BioShock Infinite scraps and pieces, but with environments almost entirely crafted from scratch."

Still in development at Irrational Games, and also included in the Season Pass, is BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode 2, which brings gamers something they have been asking for since they first met the character of Elizabeth: the chance to see the world through her eyes and face challenges as she would. In this second episode of Burial at Sea, players will experience a new storyline, and a new stealth-oriented gameplay experience.

The previously released add-on content pack, Clash in the Clouds, allows players to take Elizabeth and Booker through a series of unique and intense challenges, and combine the diverse toolset of weapons, Vigors, Gear, Tears and Sky-Lines in all-new ways. This combat-focused content features 60 Blue Ribbon challenges in four stunning new environments. By completing challenges, players will delve deeper into the world of BioShock Infinite via the Columbian Archeological Society, gaining access to Voxophones, Kinetoscopes, concept art and more."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ten minutes of Arkham Origins Blackgate gameplay.

While I accept that the Vita is less powerful than its console counterparts, Blackgate is coming across as very bare-bones to me.  I've got it preordered and I'll have it on Friday, though, so I'm looking forward to seeing how satisfying it actually is, once in the hands.

[update] I spent about twenty minutes with Blackgate today, and while it doesn't blow my socks off, it doesn't dissatisfy.  The combat feels slightly less-than-perfect, but its heavily-directed flow does not offend.  Instead, once one emotionally plugs in to the Arkham vibe, the guided tour the game took me on felt natural, and correct.  I never felt burnt that I could only go in one direction, because each and every time I needed to move forward or interact with something, it's precisely what I wanted to do, at the time.

It feels very natural.  Time will tell. [update]

Octodad : Dadliest Catch wedding bells gameplay.

What can you really say about this?  I don't want to judge it - it's too early.  Perhaps actually going hands-on with the game will provide me the warm-and-fuzzies all the journalists are talking about - but it doesn't actually look all that fun.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gaze upon these The Order : 1886 screens and weep with joy.

Game Informer threw up some watermarked screens as part of their coverage this month yesterday, but today - bless its heart - All Games Beta's got the same screens, direct-feed, along with some nifty concept art and making-of images.  No clear view of our noble heroes' otherworldly enemies yet - but our noble heroes, at least, look gorgeous.  I particularly like the little touch of the scars on the lady's neck, all but hidden by her gorget and lace collar.

Click to embiggen.  I wonder if the whole game will be in cinematic aspect ratio?

Batman: Arkham Origins launch trailer reminds one to keep hope alive.

It might be as awesome as a proper Arkham game.  Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Titanfall coming March 11, 2014.

...on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC!  Also, the Titanfall crew uploaded a brand, spankin' new gameplay trailer, and it's... the one we saw back in August. As in the exact same footage. Not even cut up to look cooler, just... the same playthrough we've already seen.


But don't avert those eyes yet, 'cause we've got special editions to talk about.  Titanfall's special edition falls under the same level of whatthefuckery that the team at Respawn begat in their Call of Duty days.  It'll set you back two hundred and fifty dollars, and it comes with a sweet titan statue.

With the Collector's Edition, you get...

  • the game
  • an 18" "hand-crafted titan statue with diorama and battery-powered LED lighting"
  • 190 page art book
  • a "full-size" (whatever that means) schematic poster of the Atlas titan
And let's be honest, it is a handsome statue.  

Killzone Shadow Fall story trailer.

Ahhh I love the moral ambiguity of this series.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Some incredible PSN sales are coming.

The PlayStation Network Store is celebrating Halloween with some spectacular sales on any game even remotely creepy.  There's all kinds of great stuff to check out (including movies & TV shows), but I'm gonna' throw up the entire list of games and highlight the really choice morsels (with links to reviews where I can).

Basically, if you're missing any game I've put in bold text, it's something you should consider buying.

October 22nd to October 28th : 

TITLE / PS+ Price / Sale Price / Regular Price

Dead Island Game of the Year $5.00 $9.99 $19.99
Dead Island Riptide $19.99 $24.99 $49.99
Dead Nation $3.00 $5.99 $14.99
Dead Rising 2 Off the Record $6.99 $9.99 $19.99
Plants vs. Zombies $2.50 $4.99 $10.49
Plants vs. Zombies PS Vita $3.75 $7.49 $14.99
Red Dead Redemption and Undead Nightmare Collection $13.99 $19.99 $39.99
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare $5.00 $9.99 $19.99
Resident Evil 4 HD $5.59 $7.99 $19.99
Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition $10.49 $14.99 $29.99
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X $6.99 $9.99 $19.99
Resident Evil Revelations $22.94 $29.99 $49.99
Sleeping Dogs + Nightmare in Northpoint $11.24 $12.49 $19.49
The House of the Dead Bundle $7.50 $14.99 $29.99
The Last Guy $2.00 $3.99 $9.99
The Last of Us $35.99 $44.99 $59.99
The Walking Dead 400 days $2.44 $3.49 $4.99
The Walking Dead Episode 2 $1.25 $2.49 $4.99
The Walking Dead Episode 3 $1.25 $2.49 $4.99
The Walking Dead Episode 4 $1.25 $2.49 $4.99
The Walking Dead Episode 5 $1.25 $2.49 $4.99
The Walking Dead Season Pass $2.50 $4.99 $14.99
The Walking Dead Survival Instinct $33.74 $37.49 $49.99
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season (PS Vita) $9.79 $13.99 $19.99

Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone $4.89 $6.99 $9.99

Dead Island for five bucks?!  If you don't buy that, you hate fun.  Red Dead Redemption - the best game of 2010 - plus its spectacular zombie-themed DLC for fourteen dollars?  Oh my God!  All of The Walking Dead Season 1 for $2.50?  Sleeping Dogs for eleven?  This is fantastic - but it's not over yet...

October 29th to November 4th : 

TITLE / PS+ Price / Sale Price / Regular Price

BioShock $5.00 $9.99 $19.99
BioShock 2 $5.00 $9.99 $19.99
Bloodrayne Betrayal $2.50 $4.99 $9.99
Castlevania Harmony of Despair $8.39 $10.49 $14.99
Costume Quest $3.75 $7.49 $14.99
Darkstalkers Resurrection $5.24 $7.49 $14.99
Dead Space $5.99 $7.49 $14.99
Dead Space 2 $7.99 $9.99 $19.99
Dead Space 3 $19.59 $27.99 $39.99
DmC: Devil May Cry $13.99 $19.99 $39.99
Doom 3 BFG Edition $7.99 $9.99 $19.99
Fatal Frame $2.00 $3.99 $9.99
Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly $2.00 $3.99 $9.99
I Am Alive $3.00 $5.99 $14.99
Infamous Festival of Blood $3.99 $4.99 $9.99
Lone Survivor $8.99 $9.99 $12.99
Lone Survivor Vita $8.99 $9.99 $12.99
Metro: Last Light $29.99 $39.99 $59.99
Puppeteer $19.59 $27.99 $39.99
Siren: Blood Curse Episodes 1-12 $10.00 $19.99 $39.99
The Darkness II $15.99 $19.99 $39.99

I am seriously considering digital copies of BioShock, BioShock 2, Dead Space, Dead Space 2, DmC, Doom 3 and Siren: Blood Curse for these prices.  Maybe I'll just buy the licenses and not download them just yet...

These prices are ridiculous.  Two dollars for Fatal Frame 2?!  Fatal Frame 2 is the only game I never finished just because it's so damned scary.

Ugh what a fantastic sale.  Needs more italics.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

MiniREVIEW - The Wolf Among Us Episode 1 : Faith.

A good story requires a good storyteller at the helm - a bit of empathy for one's audience, the wisdom to know how much must be left unsaid, the wit to surprise and the confidence to see it through. So let's hear it for Telltale Games - a small, smart studio who can, with a five-dollar downloadable episode, spin a far more engaging, imaginative and involving yarn than Quantic Dream ever dreamed.  One that keeps the player interested the whole way through, and itching for more when the curtain drops.

The Wolf Among Us is the latest effort from the studio that set the modern standard for the story-driven adventure game with last year's impactful, tearjerking The Walking Dead, and while Wolf's not as hard-hitting, one can't help but appreciate the elegance of their work.  

Like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us is not born of an original property, set as it is in Bill Willingham's already-established Fables comic series, and one wonders if Telltale's tales would be so satisfying if they created their own world - but here as with TWD, they breath refreshing new life into an already interesting universe. 

A bit of history : Fables concerns itself primarily, but not entirely, with Fabletown - a small section of New York enchanted to keep mundane folk like you and I out, home to fairy tale heroes and creatures exiled from "the Homelands" after the mysterious "Adversary" took out Oz and Narnia, and came for the rest.  Snow White, though technically second fiddle to the Mayor, is the true leader of Fabletown and does her best to keep other fairy tale folk safe from "mundies" and each other.  Assisting her is the town's sheriff, Bigby Wolf - the Big Bad Wolf of legend - granted clemency along with all the other classic villains after the Fables' escape from the Homelands, and permitted to turn his skills for sniffing out the guilty to the service of the community. 

Where Telltale's The Walking Dead was just as gory as its namesake but lighter on the romance, The Wolf Among Us is actually a far darker look at the Fables universe than Willingham generally offers, and a more personal look at the character of Bigby. Telltale feel unbound, here, by the general restrictions of the Fables world - free to spin their own yarn - and, in a few scant hours, paint a reality of richer texture than you'll find in the first twenty issues of the comics.  

Gameplay is largely identical to TWD - you drive Bigby Wolf around various scenes, interacting with the environment, sussing out clues and occasionally engaging in some fisticuffs with profoundly quicktimey yet weirdly satisfying action scenes, making choices that invariably involve some form of sacrifice. 

And that's all I'll say about it.  The Wolf Among Us doesn't explode on to the scene with the same shock as TWD did last year, but it's just as involving and perhaps an even better example of Telltale's mature, measured, intelligent storytelling.  

Let's hear it for 'em.  Bring on Episode 2. 

Sure look good, but it don't mean a thing to me.

 I got a hip-shaking woman, shake like a willow tree.

[update]  Actually, y'know what?  Let's throw in some Creedence.

Hmmm.  Yeah, that should do it.

Wait, wait, no.  Smokestack Lightnin'.

Alright, there we go.  Good?  Good. [/update]

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oooh Darkest Dungeon looks Cthulhu-riffic.

It's very, very early in development - developer Red Hook Studios suggest they're probably going to do a Kickstarter to fund it, and (at the moment) they're shooting for PC, Mac and Linux, but they're "considering" consoles and tablets.

Happily, they have a ton of information over at their website, including a breakdown of those mysterious black numbers you see escaping from characters in the above trailer.  Yes, those are sanity points.
"Darkest Dungeon is a hard-core RPG about the stresses of dungeon crawling. You will lead a band of four heroes on a perilous side-scrolling descent, dealing with a prodigious number of threats to their bodily health, and worse, a relentless assault on their mental fortitude! Five hundred feet below the earth you will not only fight unimaginable foes, but famine, disease, and the stress of the ever-encroaching dark. Darkest Dungeon focuses on the humanity and psychological vulnerability of the heroes and asks: What emotional toll does a life of adventure take?

Darkest Dungeon is not a game where every hero wins the day with shiny armor and a smile. It is a game about hard trade-offs, nearly certain demise, and heroic acts. Prepare to experience an RPG like nothing you have played before.

The Affliction System—Your Heroes are HumanBe warned, characters in Darkest Dungeon are not the unwavering heroes of high fantasy. While they are certainly tough and capable fighters, they are also human, and respond emotionally to the horrors they encounter.
  • Your Bard has seen one  too many party members die in combat, and is prone to nihilistic rants, stressing the other party members! Do you send him carousing in town to blow off some steam, or consign him to the sanitarium to collect himself?
  • Your Man-at-Arms has begun relying on the bottle as much as his battleaxe. His inebriated fury is a welcome damage boost for the party, but he has grown increasingly unpredictable and erratic. Do you bench him in town, or simply lash more liquor to his pack?
  • At camp, your Plague Doctor's methods unnerve your Highwayman, and he refuses her treatments. Maybe you should rethink the idea of combining them in the same party again.
  • A critical hit from a skeleton sends your Vestal reeling, and instills in her a crippling fear of the Undead. She can fight well enough against other foes, but if you expect her to keep her head through the Crypts, you'll first need to send her to the Cathedral to do some serious prayer and contemplation.
Characters' stress levels respond dynamically to virtually every occurrence in the dungeon, both positive and negative. Coming across a rotting corpse may unnerve your Highwayman, or may fuel your Crusader's determination. If the pressures of their circumstances become too overwhelming, their resolve is broken, and they will become afflicted with a myriad of psychological conditions ranging from paranoia, panic, greed, or even sadism . Afflicted party members will act out in a variety of ways that impact the play experience during combat, exploration, camping, and even in town.  And like weary soldiers who have seen too much, your heroes will develop permanent quirks and emotional baggage based on their experiences."
-Red Hook Games-

That sounds so cool.  I've already tweeted Shahid and Gio to make sure they know this thing exists.

This thing should be on Vita.  So I can play it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

GTAV patch is up, and not without its problems.

Last week, we were told a patch would appear this week which fixes issues like cars disappearing from your GTA Online garage, preceding the first of two injections of $250,000.00 into your GTA Online bank account.  The patch went up today, and according to Rockstar, it:

  • Fixes numerous issues that were causing vehicle loss and/or loss of vehicle mods
  • Fixes an issue where the incorrect car is replaced when choosing to replace a car in a full garage
  • Fixes an exploit allowing players to sell the same vehicle multiple times
  • Fixes an issue that caused personal vehicles to be duplicated (folks were using this to re-sell their modded vehicles over and over for infinite cash)
  • Fixes an issue where some players were unable to pay utility bills on an owned apartment or house
  • Fixes an issue where players were not getting Crew invites in-game
  • Fixes an issue where the starting point for the tutorial race was not appearing
  • Fixes issues with joining Jobs from within a player-owned garage
  • Fixes issues with players getting stuck while using playlists
  • Fixes additional issues causing black screens, long load times, and players getting stuck in the sky cam
  • Adds details in the UI to clarify that characters created while Rockstar cloud is unavailable are temporary (non-saved)
  • Adds changes to the character creator to make better-looking default characters with the “random” option
  • Players now only lose a maximum of 500 GTA$ upon death in Freemode

I checked out the patch to see if we got that sweet cash money in our banks yet, and no - we do not.  Rockstar says "in regards to questions about the first deposit of GTA$. We're aiming to make the first deposit of $250,000 in all players accounts early next week once we've confirmed that any remaining game progress issues have been fixed for the community in this latest title update."

What player are certain has changed are the rewards for missions.  Members of the community are complaining that the cash earned for most activities has been cut in half, effectively hobbling the satisfying clip of GTA Online, and making it feel much more grindey. 

Way to go, Rockstar.  One step forward, one step back. 

Driveclub officially delayed.

Ouuuuch burn on Sony!  Between this and Watch Dogs, the PS4's launch lineup is startin' to look a little scrawny.  We'll still have Killzone, Battlefield 4, Assassin's Creed IV, Knack and all those sweet indies, but let's be plain - that's one third of their major boxed-release launch lineup gone.

Let us remember the immortal words of Shigeru Miyamoto; "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."  That quote's less resonant in the age of patches, but still - better to drop somethin' when it's smokin' hot than when it's not quite ready (cough)GTAOnline(coughcough).

Driveclub was, of course, gonna' be Sony's big triple-A addition to the PS4's PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection, and as it excuses itself, many were expecting Knack - a game a lot of people are curious about, but not curious enough to buy - to pick up the slack.  No such luck.  Instead, it's a little indie title many of us were gonna' buy anyway.

Contrast!  I'm almost disappointed I won't get to pay money for Contrast, and... well yeah, I'm more disappointed that I won't get to try Knack for free.

Shu Yoshida (head of Sony Worldwide Studios) said on the PlayStation Blog today that, when Driveclub eventually comes out, it will - just as planned - have a PS+ version that's free for subscribers.

...I just really hope Compulsion Games didn't get screwed somehow in this deal.

Personal note - Dragon's Crown again.

Y'know, I re-read the review that I was happy with earlier in the year last night, and then I re-read the in-depth review that I convinced myself sucked, and I was totally wrong.  If anything, the medium-length review  that I thought was so much better is... flavorless.

I think the longer review is better.  It's long, but it gets all the points in.  Just needed to share that.  Now... (cracks knuckles) Drive Club was delayed.  Let's get down to business.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Preorder inFamous: Second Son, get Cole's jacket for Delsin.

You can click to embiggen both of these images.  Simply preordering the game nets you the limited edition, which comes with a bit of DLC offering "a series of missions to uncover what happened between the devastating events of inFamous 2 and inFamous: Second Son," which unlocks Cole's signature yellow jacket from the first game (he didn't wear it in the muggy bayous of inFamous 2). 

Which... I actually find pretty appealing, for some reason - though I do really like Delsin's design. 

If you're interested in throwing down an extra twenty bucks, you'll get the DLC, Delsin's beanie and some buttons!  Also a patch, some vinyl decals and an exlcusive "Legendary" in-game vest, which is just the weird hand-print with the Space Needle they've slapped on the CE's cover art.

Are some buttons and a beanie worth twenty bucks, to me?  You bet your ass.