Friday, July 22, 2011

Halo Anniversary Still Impresses...

Halo Anniversary is still coming out in November, but here's a short yet detailed video of the improved graphics as 343 Industries show off parts of the Silent Cartographer level. It is pretty much night and day in terms of how the graphics got better as you can switch between HD and classic visuals.

Saints Row: The Third Turns the Insanity Up to 15

I'm been pretty excited for Saint's Row: The Third because of the hype from the "Power Trailer" but the latest footage from Comic-Con is just pure insanity. It is so ridiculous and "over the top" yet so amazing at the same time. Then again, that has been what the franchise has been all about since the original back in 2006. This is just another time where I have to let the videos speak for themselves.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Get Ready for Some Nightmares in Mortal Kombat...

The 4th downloadable character to appear in Mortal Kombat is quite a surprise as it is not someone you expect, but yet rumored. Freddy Krueger takes his claws and scares to the world of MK. I gotta hand it to Netherrealm Studios for delivering the crazy and doing guest characters right. Yeah, Kratos is not that good competitive-wise, but they were able to nail the right aspects from the God of War games in Mortal Kombat. The same thing can be said for Freddy with his sheninegans especially his awesome fatalities. Players can download Freddy Krueger on August 9 for the same price as the other downloadable characters that have been released.

Street Fighter X Tekken at Comic-Con...

Yeah yeah, people are still hyped for yesterday's Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 announcement, but there is still Street Fighter X Tekken coming and obviously there are new characters to reveal since Comic-Con is going now. Dhalsim, which was teased a week or two ago, is confirmed in as I'm still skeptical how much a problem he will be against Tekken characters because of his long limbs. Will Tekken characters be able to find a way to find Dhalsim convincingly? Let's hope so with that, but at least it is still interesting to see how matchups will fare since its not like Street Fighter IV. The other Street Fighter character revealed is actually from Final Fight as Poison finally gets to be playable in a fighting game. I gotta hand it to Ono and his crew for including Poison in as I'm sure fans are pretty happy with that. From the Tekken side, Steve and Yoshimtsu are now in the game, which are more obvious inclusions. Steve's in your face style from the Tekken games fits nicely in SF x TK as I'm pretty sure he'll be one of the best characters assuming Capcom knows how good he is in recent Tekken games. Yoshimtsu has his Tekken 3 design as his primary costume, which is fine by me as its not one of the bizarre costumes he has. This is one character I'm really curious about in this game in terms of how they are going to translate his playstyle. He can be pretty sheninegans-based as moves like the sword pole and even his suicide are in. At this rate, you might as well play as an odd ball team such as Dhalsim and Yoshi. I'm not exactly sure if the new build is at Comic-Con now since the Capcom Unity stream yesterday was still showing the E3 build because they were saving the reveals till today. Anyway, expect more new Street Fighter X Tekken stuff probably around the Tokyo Game Show in September or maybe even next month at Gamescom.

UPDATE - The new cinematic trailer is nuts! This also confirms Hugo, Cody, and Guy in the game. We might as well call it Final Fight/Street Fighter X Tekken at this rate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3... Leggo!!!!

After all the rumors and the hype for the past few weeks, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 gets announced for a November release on PS3 and 360. Fighting game fans are instantly excited for the upgraded game, but some wonder if it is too early? Personally, I believe so as vanilla MvC3 should be able to last at least a year like vanilla Street Fighter IV did before Super came out. I guess all the complaining and begging about certain characters missing, some current characters being too good, and X-Factor being ridiculous paid off for a whole new game to happen. Like Super Street Fighter IV, Ultimate MvC3 is shaping up to be a substantial upgrade being disc only and 40 bucks (no plans of a download like SSF4 Arcade Edition). Changes to current characters and even new moves for them, a HUD change (who could be weird when you're trying to figure out who to snapback), spectator mode, X-Factor changes, and new stages are just the basics for this new version, but the 12 new characters is gonna be what's really exciting for Ultimate. Ghost Rider and Hawkeye are announced for the Marvel side as versus veteran Strider Hiryu and Firebrand are confirmed for the Capcom side so far. Plus, Capcom is going crazy with alternate costumes again with pre-order bonuses like no other for costume packs at various retailers (Femme Fatale Pack for Chun-Li, X-23, Storm, and Trish along with a pack for Doom, Sentinel, Akuma, and Strider). I have been unmotivated as of late playing MvC3 and this Ultimate announcement has obviously got me on the train again. Hopefully, Evo next weekend can give us a show to remember with vanilla's only year.

Anyway, here are the gameplay clips below of the new characters...

UPDATE - Looks like Capcom leaked the rest of the new cast

Marvel - Ghost Rider, Hawkeye, Doctor Strange, Nova, Iron Fist, Rocket Raccoon
Capcom - Strider, Firebrand, Frank West, Nemesis, Phoenix Wright, Vergil

I'm happy with the Capcom choices (maining Vergil yo - hopefully not as fancy as Dante), but the Marvel choices though will disappoint some folks that wanted more returning versus characters.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Yay, a Voltron Game!!!! Oh Wait....

Voltron definitely holds a special part with my family back in its glory days of the 80s since I wasn't around yet. Today, THQ finally announces Voltron: Defender of the Universe, a new downloadable game based on the Voltron anime which you can play as the original cast. IGN has the first reveal as the game has online co-op up to five players and local co-op with only two players. From the debut trailer above, there is some variety with lion shooting sections (there's an area that makes things look like a shump) and one-on-one robot arena battles. Even though it is a downloadable game, the graphics don't look so hot at its current state. Hopefully the gameplay and the source material of having scenes from the actual anime can make up the slack for the unimpressive graphics, but considering the developer's pedigree (Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime and Naughty Bear), even I'm not having high hopes. Then again, it is nice that a Voltron game finally exists, but this could of been so much better. We'll see how the fan reactions are with its showing at the San Diego Comic-Con this weekend as Voltron: Defender of the Universe is currently slated for release on October 25/26 on Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade respectively for ten dollars (800 Microsoft Points).

My Favorite Trailer of the Year gets Dissected...

The "Power Trailer" for Saints Row: The Third gets dissected by lead writer Steve Jaros as he tells all the little details and easter eggs from the infamous clip that proved why Kanye's "Power" was the song of E3 2011.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Star Fox 64 3D is out in Japan...

Star Fox 64 3D was finally released at Japan two days ago as us Americans still have to wait till September to experience arguably the best remake on 3DS (Once again, its better than Zelda OOT 3D). The graphical facelift is pretty outstanding now that I have seen some full levels in action from Zoness, Solar, and Macbeth. The control preferences will probably be a personal thing as some would enjoy the gyroscope controls, but I think playing without them seems to be the way to go especially going for medals. The music has been also remastered for all the levels as they sound for the most part, but I wished there was an option for the old music as well. I'm not sure with the Japanese voices if they're the same as the original, but the other sound effects still sound the same though. Anyway, here's part of a full playthrough above even though the quality is not as great, but of course it can be hard to record 3DS stuff without proper equipment.

UPDATE - Here's a full playthrough of the game in direct feed quality. (spoilers I guess if u haven't even played the original at all yet)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This Week in Live Performances...

You probably might be sick of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" after hearing it so much on the radio. If you still don't mind listening to it though, here's Linkin Park (well just Chester and Mike Shinoda) doing a cover of it, which is not that bad I guess.

VEVO finally put out the G.O.O.D. Music concert from SXSW this week after months of waiting. Kanye and Jay-Z did "H.A.M.," but my performance pick from this set is "Blame Game" with John Legend. One of my favorite tracks from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sounds great live, but imagine Chris Rock coming out doing his part whenever Yeezy performs it in the future. That would be kind of funny to see, but of course it doesn't really make sense in a concert setting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So The Catherine Demo is now out in English...

Catherine is out in less than two weeks here at the states as the demo came out yesterday on Xbox Live and Playstation Network. This is the same demo as the Japanese one, but now with English voices. At least we can finally understand what in the world they're saying during the cutscenes unless you know some Japanese. The English voice cast so far seems fine to me even though I still prefer the overdone Japanese emotions. I'm not planning to get the "Love is Over" Edition even though the bonus goodies seem crazy, but expect a review of Catherine after I spend some time with the final version.

Now to get that rap theme song as my ringtone... then again maybe not.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Music Roundup for 7/12/11 aka the "If Not Now, When?" Edition

The new Incubus album came out today and after listening to it a few times for the past week, I appreciate the change of direction for If Not Now, When? Sure, its just another band taking the more mature and mellow direction, but Incubus has been around for a good while to be able to take a risk in changing their overall sound. There will always be fans that still want more of the same mix of hard rocking and mellow tracks, but as the band grows older, you're bound to make some changes. The title track, which starts things off, does set up the overall mood and tempo for the rest of the album. "Promises, Promises" is a great lead-off single as I look forward to their picks for the rest of the singles since they most of them have single potential. I definitely dig the chill vibes from the album's first half as the only songs that has a little faster tempo you'll hear is later on with "In the Company of Wolves" and "Switchblade." Those songs are not that bad as they're probably the closest thing you'll get for old school Incubus.

Basically, this new Incubus album is worth a listen if you're looking for some new "chill rock" stuff to listen to as you're mostly going to get that for the majority of the album. It is also great to blast while driving casually (when you're not really in a rush to go somewhere). Certain fans may hate the new direction of their sound being more mellow, but this is probably for the best as they're another band that has matured over the past decade and capable to change things up. Plus, the frontman Brandon can still kill it with the vocals especially for this long. Then again, I'm been over the metal-ish type of rock for a while as my fixes for that have been the chill stuff, which is why Incubus's If Not Now, When? is something up my alley.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Today in the World of Games for 7/11/11

We finally get a Riddler trailer for Batman: Arkham City and as expected, he has more of a presence story-wise this time around than Arkham Asylum with all those hidden goodies throughout the game. Of course, he is not the main villain in this sequel, but it is still nice he's still in as just one of the problems Batman has to deal with. Honestly though, I'm kind of in blackout mode for Arkham City other than seeing some trailers because I know it is going to blow people's minds when it comes out in October.

Yes, I'm still playing Mortal Kombat here and there (check out last weekend's Box Arena stream where I pretty much was a pot monster in that tourney) as Rain is the next downloadable character for next week. I like the DLC for this game so far as Skarlet is pretty much a sheninegans-like character with tons of potential as she has the tools to be up in the tiers. Kenshi, which was released last week, is pretty easy to pick up and play with simple combos, zoning tools, etc. Rain finally makes his appearance in this game as the last ninja because of course the ninjas are too good in this game (maybe not Scorpion even though he's obviously easy to learn). I enjoyed using him in the broken Mortal Kombat Trilogy where he has too many tools to dish out the damage. Most of those moves are back here from the roundhouse kick to the other side of the screen, his fireball that makes opponents float for a limited time, and lightning. Even from the trailer above, the combo potential is easily there for simple 30% damage and so on along with a long distance x-ray. Unfortunately, the downloadable characters are banned from Evo even though I'm starting to pick up Kenshi and now Rain along with my Smoke and Ermac. There's still a fourth downloadable character that is not revealed, but we have to probably wait till next month for that.

WWE Brawl is definitely not original in terms of its title, but yup, this is another WWE game attempting to break away from the simulation aspects of their yearly offerings. I think this is the All Stars team doing this one and obviously a departure from any other WWE game out in recent years. They're turning up the fantasy even further as it reminds me of Def Jam Icon mixed with Power Stone. Wrestlers get special powers now such as John Cena' Chain Storm for some crazy stuff. Who knows if this will turn out any good, but then again most of us were skeptical how good All-Stars can be and yet that turned out fun. WWE Brawl is currently slated for release next year on the obvious platforms.

Saint's Row: The Third continues to look as absurd and insane as any other open-world game in existence. Even the pre-order bonus which is some wacky Japanese guy named Professor Genki. This trailer does a pretty good job of selling this pack being similar to some crazy Japanese ad. I probably said this multiple times, but the Saint's Row franchise has basically turned Grand Theft Auto into a fun playground of insanity. Even Rockstar Games probably wouldn't push the envelope into that amount of absurdity with their current gen games since GTA has turned to into a more cinematic, story-driven approach. Anyway, Saint's Row: The Third is still planned to come out in November, aka the most crowded month of game releases because of the holiday season.

Friday, July 8, 2011

BioShock Infinite's 15 Minute E3 2011 Demo = OMG!!!

GameTrailers TV premiered the infamous E3 2011 Demo of BioShock Infinite last night to the rest of the world since it was shown in closed doors last month. If you wandered why why it was the game of the show, here's arguably the best demos I have seen in a while and its fifteen minutes long! I don't leave get all nitpicky here after seeing it compared to typical message board posters saying its too scripted, rechargeable health is a no-no, and more, but I'll let the demo speak for itself above. BioShock Infinite is still on track to come out next year for PS3, 360, and PC.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Its The Final Stretch for Entourage...

The final season for Entourage premieres on the 24th and even though it is ending, I'm still excited to see the fate for Vince and the boys. Hopefully the various storylines have closure and there's a reason they don't need to do another season.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Let's Take A Journey... Beta Style

Journey by thatgamecompany (the folks that made FlOw and Flower) is still one mysterious game, but yet so fascinating at the same time. Jenova Chen and his team are at it again delivering another original experience only for the Playstation Network. If you're wandering why this game has a public beta even though it still feels like a single player experience, it is because Journey actually has a co-op component in which they are probably testing the netcode. At its core however, Journey is still a game unlike no other and arguably the best original downloadable game to get this year.

The most important thing you'll get out of Journey is the sense of loneliness and exploration as you're just a guy wandering alone in these sandy environments on the way the top of some mountain. At the start of the beta last week, the camera controls were originally done by the sixaxis since thatgamecompany were major supporters of that control option with their previous games. They were changed to the right stick in a matter of a day for easier controls. Journey in a nutshell can be summed as a puzzle platformer finding a way to get from point A to point B, but even as you watch the footage here, it is still pretty hard to describe. It is one of those experiences you just feel thrown into without a sense of what to do next other than explore your whereabouts and hope for the best, which is a good thing to me with Journey.

Another important aspect of how Journey feels unique and special is the beautiful graphics. The sandy environments are unlike anything I seen in recent games to the point someone finally got sand right from a visual standpoint (okay, there's still Uncharted 3's sand to consider too). The vista-like camera angles are outstanding when you're on the top of a sandy peak that overlooks the mountain you have to reach the top of in the final game. Even the music feels calm and relaxing to listen as you're exploring the sandy deserts, which is similar how Flower's soundtrack was vital to that game.

Despite all of this and playing through the beta multiple times, it is still hard to describe what Journey is. I do feel it is one of those games that should speak for themselves rather than try to explain what in the world is going on, which is what most people would get from a first impression. Yet, this game is still fascinating and special at the same time because of how original it is. I don't think you'll ever get a sense of being alone in a world (unless you find someone to tag along with you exploring these levels together by online co-op) and mysterious exploration elsewhere than Journey when it comes out later this summer on the Playstation Network.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Week Into the Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Beta...

The multiplayer beta for Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception has been out for a week now (well for Infamous 2 owners and Playstation Plus folks), but its now out for everyone else to enjoy till it ends later this month. After hours of messing around with this being level 16 at the time of this post, it definitely shows that Naughty Dog wants it to be a serious multiplayer game for many months besides the awesome campaign we will expect to see this November. I enjoyed Uncharted 2's multiplayer during its first two months as I didn't bother with the DLC maps they added months after that came out. This time around, the core is pretty much the same from last time, but it is the little things that makes Uncharted 3 a serious contender for your gaming hours compared to the shooter juggernauts of this fall (mainly Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3).

Naughty Dog is going the extra mile (or my words, H.A.M.) to make the multiplayer as good as they can rather than make it as just another cash-in. The beta had a shaky start last Tuesday with game crashes and session managers not working due to the overflow of people trying to get in at the same time, but good thing it was worked out right away later that day as the beta basically has been going well after the 1.01 patch came out. Right from the get go as you navigate the menus there are tons of customization options to mess around with, but of course you can unlock more as you level up throughout this beta to unlock more outfits for your characters, boosters, gun mods, and so on. The developers managed to take some elements seen in recent shooters to be put in Uncharted 3 such as pre-game loadouts, emblems, and character customization. Loadouts totally make the game not much of a hunt for power weapons even though they're still not there, but your rifle of choice is usually the weapon to go with. As you level up, you get better guns from the M9 rifle and the auto pistol. Emblems are basically another way of showing off especially when you're on the lead score-wise as your emblem shows up at various parts of the map.

Uncharted 3's multiplayer beta offers three maps as two of them are used in all the modes while one map is exclusive to free-for-all from what I seen. With the team modes, you'll likely play either Airstrip or Chateau. Airstrip is a multiplayer map that only Uncharted would have as the first part is quite unique. There is a plane ready to take off as you players spawn either inside the plane or outside on chasing trucks trying to transverse their way into the plane. This whole sequence is cool on paper playing it for the first time, but it doesn't really translate into a good map since one team is spawned instantly at an advantageous position as the opposing team has to work harder to get kills out of the gate. After the sequence is over, Airstrip becomes a standard map after. I appreciate Naughty Dog's effort to translate epic campaign sequences into part of multiplayer maps, but it doesn't make sense mostly as it should be only be played during the campaign. Chateau is just a typical map in an abandoned house, but the neat feature for this one is the zipline as the potential is there for some awesome zipline kills for rare medals. Besides the traditional team deathmatch and free for all modes, the playlists will periodically change throughout the beta as team objective, team hardcore (just skill only), and co-op hunter modes are available to be played as of yesterday.

Now that the features are out of the way, does Uncharted 3's multiplayer gameplay wise stand a chance against the competition? My answer would be yes since the Uncharted-only twists still make multiplayer fun to play for long sessions as people already reaching the maximmum level in this beta (50 even though the unlocks stop at 25). The transversal elements are still great unless someone is shooting you with something like an AK-47. The melee attacks definitely got improved with more instant kill animations besides the choke from behind. The gun whip 50/50 contest from Uncharted 2 is still there, but so far it hasn't been a problem in this beta. The boosters (aka perks if you're a CoD person) from this beta have been okay as there is not one of them that seems broken. New to Uncharted 3 though is kickbacks. After getting a certain amount of medals, you basically get another booster at your disposal if you press the up button on the d-pad. These range from getting an instant rocket launcher that has two shots, no reloading for a limited time, sprint speed gets increased, etc. These are pretty much similar to killstreak awards in Call of Duty rewarding players for doing well in matches. There's also a treasure system as kills often drop treasures to unlock more character outfits too.

Then there's what I call the "comeback mechanic" for Uncharted 3, which are the power plays. Power plays are in effect when you're down by more than six kills in a team deathmatch game. These give the losing team a chance to come back into a match in a limited time such as killing one of the marked players for three points instead of one, the whole opposing team being spotted, or getting double damage. Of course it depends on the team to actually take advantage of the power play to get back into the match, which likely happens, but it is there to keep matches close and intense. Thinking about the idea of comeback mechanics in competitive games is making me consider a write up sometime in the future thanks to numerous matches here and of course with recent fighting games. I also like the buddy system in this game as you have the option to respawn next to a teammate besides a random spawn point, which also seem ripped off from Battlefield.

I am impressed of what I played and seen from Uncharted 3's multiplayer beta so far with its first week. We'll see what Naughty Dog offers in the days to come to spice up playlists and even maps before the beta period ends later this month. If you love Uncharted 2's multiplayer, you'll enjoy this new one as it is pretty much the same with little to much needed improvements. The power play concept can make or break team deathmatch games as players who don't like that just stick to the team hardcore playlist. Co-op is also improved with more modes like the unique hunter mode even though I didn't have much time such it came up yesterday, but there is still some cheapness from the last game as enemies will grab you from behind rendering you useless till your teammates get you out. Of course, I'm still looking forward to the campaign much more than this, but it is good to know that multiplayer is still good as it is and that Naughty Dog is working hard to make it as a legitimate contender to compete against the shooter juggernauts.


The 1.02 patch for this beta came out late this night and I was able to spend some time messing around with the changes Naughty Dog came up with into. First of all, there was another playlist change, which now features Plunder, Uncharted's version of Capture the Flag in the two team-based maps. Power plays got changed dramatically as they're now a full minute instead of 30 seconds, but the tradeoff is that they're not put into action at the 40 kill mark in team deathmatch games, which is the right thing to do letting players win the proper way rather than try to rely on a power play for an easy comeback. Players also can't stack kickbacks now, which is another good change for the sake of balance as imagine having 2 RPG kickbacks ready to get nuts. Medals can still be earned, but they won't count towards getting another kickback if you already have one ready to be used. It is nice to see Naughty Dog do balance changes right away with this beta setting things right for the final game in November.

Oh, as I was just typing this, patch 1.03 came out addressing matchmaking issues for some Euro folks. I didn't mention this earlier, but there's Facebook support for Uncharted 3 as well seeing which of your FB friends are playing so you can party up. I'm not using it and it doesn't seem like any others are using it either. It is just another one of those "its nice that its there" features that won't be used.