Archive for May, 2011

Arkham City – the most anticipated game of the year?

With E3 fast approaching, buzz is once again starting to circulate around the newest Batman game; Arkham City.

Developed by Rocksteady, Arkham City is the sequel to the smash-hit that was ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum.’

So what do we know so far?

The Story

The game will pick up one year after the events of AA. Former Asylum warden Quincy Sharp is now Mayor of Gotham, and has turned one part of the city into a maximum security facility, housing the worst criminals Gotham has to offer. The rival super-villains (including Two – Face, The Joker and The Penguin) that inhabit the city have divided it up into sections, with each bad guy commanding their own personal army of jacked up goons with itchy trigger fingers, all who would be more than happy to pump the Dark Knight full of lead. We also know that Catwoman will feature in the game at some point, but to what extent is anyone’s guess.

*Chains and whips excite meeeeeeeee........*

The main villain has been confirmed as Hugo Strange, and it was revealed in the first teaser trailer that he knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. Again, the extent of Strange’s involvement and influence in the game, but I would expect him to appear in cut-scenes throughout the narrative, and then appear for a physical encounter towards the end of the game.

Gameplay

Rocksteady has already confirmed that the action will take place in a sand-box environment, and have promised a world 5x bigger than that of Arkham Island. Whilst the core combat will remain essentially the same, the development team have stated that ‘detective mode’ will be used a lot less fequently than in the first game. This was a main concern with the original title, as players felt that using detective vision decreased the difficulty of the game.

Who stole my washing?!

This time around Batman will have the ability to glide and grapple through the dark and murky skies of Gotham, using both his grappling hook and that trusty cape of his to navigate the massive world Rocksteady has created for us to play with.

One thing is for sure, Arkham City is shaping up to be a real Game of the Year contender. The original was outstanding, and if Rocksteady delivers what they are promising us, it will undoubtedly be a good year to be a bat-fan. For now, here is the first gameplay trailer to help wet your appetite for Autumn of this year.

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Red Dead Redemption – Review

Every now and then, a game comes along which truly outshines the competition.
Red Dead Redemption is such a game.
Developed by Rockstar games (the team behind the dizzyingly successful Grand Theft Auto series), RDR places the player into the shoes of John Marston, a grizzled ex-bandit in the lawless land of the Wild West, trying to clear his name and prevent the killing of his family by the hands of the newly formed federal government (as you do.)
Set in 1911 in the fictional U.S. state of New Austin, during the decline of the American Old West, Marston is forced by the government to round up his former partners in crime, and let me tell you, it’s a hell of a lot of fun doing it.
I must say before I go on, that the story in this game is the true star, but I don’t want to spoil it for you all by talking about it too much. Brilliantly paced and expertly crafted, I was hooked from the beginning, and found myself really caring about the characters, much as I would do whilst sitting through any Hollywood blockbuster.
Now for the game play. Rockstar have stayed true to the open-world sandbox style that has earned them so much praise for the GTA series, and it fits in perfectly with the scope and scale of the game.
You will be tasked with completing various missions for the many colourful characters you will meet on your travels. Being the Wild West, most of these missions obviously involve shoot-outs and horse-back duels. These are great, and are the games bread and butter.
But the developers have made sure that the experience does not repeat itself, and have spliced in a few different mission types to keep the experience fresh for the player, such as horse-breaking and racing. And with a completion time of up to 40 hours, this is necessary to keep the player coming back.
One feature which sets RDR apart from other third person action-adventure titles is “Dead-eye”. This is Marston’s version of The Matrix’s” bullet time”, allowing him to slow time down, target numerous enemies, and fill them with lead quicker than they can say YEE-HA!!! This helps to keep the game play fresh and exciting, allowing you to feel like a true gunslinger.

DRAW!!! - John Marston using "dead-eye" to kill his enemies

Visually, the game is absolutely stunning, and the scale is beyond epic. All this is yours in what’s easily Rockstar’s most generous open world game yet.  Environments and characters are richly detailed, and you can tell straight away that crafting this world was a labour of love for the developing team, and the fact that they have created it completely from scratch with no reference points, is truly a testament to their creativity and dedication to authenticity. Just as Liberty City came out as the star of Grand Theft Auto IV it’s the expanse of the Wild West that shines brightest here.
I cannot recommend this game highly enough, it is a true masterpiece, and to be honest I would expect nothing less from a developer with such a pedigree as Rockstar has.
Truly the West at its wildest and brutal best. 5/5

No Bungie at E3?

Last Friday, Bungie, the publishers behind the all-conquering Halo series, announced that they would not be showcasing any new content at this year’s E3.

This will come as a disappointment to many fans of the developer, as they have been teasing us for months with their new project, which is supposedly a far cry from the Halo franchise.

No show - Bungie will be absent from this year's E3

The announcement has led to speculation that Bungie do not want to overshadow something that Microsoft already has in the works, which many reports suggested was the Xbox 360’s successor, the “Xbox 720”. These rumours have since been debunked by a Microsoft source. 

Wishful thinking - There will be no new Xbox at this year's E3

So what can we expect from E3 this year? Do you think that it is still too soon for another new Xbox? Or will you be dusting off the ol’ Mega Drive and getting your money’s worth out of Sonic & Knuckles??? Sound off in the comments below!

Assassin’s Creed Revelations Officially Announced

Following the leaked information earlier this week, Ubisoft has officially announced the first details on where the game will take place.

Ezio heads to far away shores....

AC: Revelations will once again follow the adventures of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the main protagonist of the last two AC games. The player will follow Ezio as he heads East to Constantinople, walking in the footsteps of his ancestor, Altaír, in order to further investigate the mysteries of the templar order, and their ongoing war with the Creed.

Ubisoft also announced that the hughly acclaimed multiplayer experience from Brotherhood will be back, featuring “more modes, more maps and more characters”. The company also anounced that players will have the ability to “manipulate the construct of Desmond’s memories and the Animus to decipher the mysteries of his past and gain insight into the future.”

Revelations has also been described as the final chapter of the Ezio trilogy. More information is

likely to be made available at next moths E3.

There has been one official image released from the game so far, showcasing Ezio using an entirely new tool known only as the “hook blade”, which you can see below. The game itself is scheduled for a release in November of this year.

Just hangin' out bro!

So are you excited to see Ezio in action again? Or do you think that the team at Ubisoft should have went in a different direction? Sound off in the comments section!

Ubisoft go to the Movies

Video game publishing giant Ubisoft are making the leap from consoles to the silver screen.

The publisher has launched Ubisoft Motion Pictures, with the view of adapting their franchises into films and television shows.

*Insert roaring lion here*

The company’s studio will be based in Paris and will be ran by Jean-Julien Baronnet, the former CEO of Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. Producer Didier Lupfer will be the head of production and development, and former Disney France executive Jean de Rivieres will oversee marketing and international sales.

So what does this mean for it’s most popular franchises? We have already seen a Prince Of Persia film, which was met with mixed reviews but performed well financially. Personally I would love to see a big screen version of Assassin’s Creed, and Splinter Cell is ready and waiting to be made into a bourne-esque flick. Time will tell, but it looks like we will be seeing more video game adaptations hit our cinema screens in the very near future.

George Clooney as Sam Fisher? FTW or epic fail?

Assassin’s Creed Revelations leaked

Apparently the title of Ubisoft’s fourth entry in their highly popular Assassin’s Creed franchise has been revealed.

Forum members of NeoGAF managed to extract information from a Ubisoft Facebook page post, revealing Assassin’s Creed Revelations, likely the fourth major title for consoles following last year’s Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.

Nothing else is known about the title, and the report is till unconfirmed by Ubisoft themselves, but an announcement will likely be made at their E3 2011 news conference on June 6th.

Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot previously went on record in February stating that the next AC game would be revealed this May, and that it would be a full retail title. Assassin’s Creed: Lost Legacy was previously announced for 3DS and is slated for release this year.
An Ubisoft spokesperson said the publisher has nothing to confirm at this time.

Is this the next chapter in the Assassin's Creed lineage?

Project Café: What do we know?

A couple of weeks ago, rumours started to circulate that we would be seeing a new home console from Nintendo much sooner than any of us anticipated.

The “Wii 2”, or to use it’s super secret codename “Project Café”, is set to make it’s debut at this year’s E3 expo, with a projected release date of some time in 2012.

So what do we actually know about this new console? Below is a list of what we know to be true, and what at this point is typical internet speculation.

What is Nintendo cooking up?

The Controller

According to numerous sources, the new Nintendo controller will feature dual analog sticks in addition to standard d-pad and trigger buttons. It’ll mirror a Gamecube controller in general function but not in specific form. Sources have confirmed that the new controller will allow players to stream entire games to the device from the console, saying it’s like a miniature television. The screen size on the controller is also confirmed to be six inches in size. The price of course depends entirely on how much Nintendo is willing to invest into the development of this ‘Wii 2’, which will ultimately determine the retail price. Initial reports have suggested that the console will sell for up to $500 (around £300).

Could this be the new controller for Project Café?

The Hardware

Again, there is no definitive answer from Nintendo at this early stage, but many reports have suggested that the new console will be “significantly more powerful that the PS3 and xbox360, and will also be capable of running HD AND 3D games.

The console is also said to be backwards compatible with both Wii and Gamecube games, allowing those of you with an abundance of Wii games to keep playing them until your hearts content.

Obviously the HD speculation is completely understandable, and that will probably be a given when Nintendo finally announces the specifications, as the graphic capabilities of the Wii are most definitely outdated and obselete when compared with those of the PS3 and X360. The more interesting report however, is the one suggesting that the console will be capable of running 3D games. Again this is just specualtion, but Nintendo are known for being innovators in the field, what with having introcued the first 3-dimensional game in the form of Super Mario 64, and revolutionising the way we play games with the Wii. It is not too far a stretch of the imagination to believe that Project Café will have 3D capabilities, but again this will most certainly be reflected in the retail price, and let’s face it, 3D technology ain’t cheap.

One can’t help but think that Nintendo is finally looking to recapture the ‘hardcore’ gaming market from Sony and Microsoft. Fans of the Wii have been left wanting when it has come to hardcore titles, and the novelty of Nintendo’s revolutionary console only lasts so long.

Whatever Nintendo is planning, it’s shaping up to be a big reveal come this year’s E3, and it could be the shake up that the games market needs.

For now, here is IGN’s video report on the Wii 2.