Monday, October 31, 2011

Rocket Raccoon and Frank West UMvC3 Clips...

Happy Halloween everyone as Capcom finally shows off the last two characters yet to be seen in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which is out in two weeks.

There is a lot of hype for Rocket Raccoon, a Marvel character that was unexpected and hope he would continue a certain tradition. I'm not sure if that tradition is back, but this raccoon definitely has his own bag of tricks to be not the joke character some feared he would be. The burrowing concept for instance is somewhat new for a fighting game like this, but he has projectiles and traps that can OTG. Being a small character means he'll probably won't do that much damage, but if you want to style on dudes, give Rocket Raccoon a shot on your main team.

Frank West from the Dead Rising series returns to the fighting game world after his debut in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. For those thinking he will be the same from that game, think again as he has some differences. Taking snapshots with his camera increase some level for something (perhaps more damage?). He doesn't have a level 3 hyper move, but his three level 1s have their uses. His cart hyper is OTG (the other OTG move is a sweep, which is probably crouch H), a rush-like combination hyper that can go through projectiles if timed right, and an anti-air giant swing where he puts on the Servbot head on you.

There's more what these two characters are capable of than my descriptions as I will update this post with the match videos as soon as they get up on the interwebs. Maybe I'll just the man himself Seth Killian demo these guys off for the IGN folks.
UPDATE - Match videos below! (What's up Chuck Greene Chris & Ken, oh wait its just Ryu with Ken colors)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Let's Go Away, Let's Go Away... The Daytona USA (PSN) Review

One of Sega's greatest arcade games finally gets the downloadable port treatment on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, which is Daytona USA. Back in 1993, this was a game that started a train of arcade racers by Sega and the one setting standards for the genre in general. After numerous disappointing ports on the Sega Saturn, PC, and the Dreamcast, Daytona finally gets a proper home port it deserves even though it is based on a HD re-release back at arcades called Sega Racing Classic, which was basically the same game without the name due to rights issues. Sega now has the rights back to use the Daytona name for this PSN/XBLA port and while they have done a lackluster job with their Genesis game ports on these consoles, they have done way better with their arcade games as this one was no exception. Daytona USA is still as good and fun as it was back in 1993 and easily worth your ten dollars.

The same arcade game is intact in this version from the three courses, the catchy soundtrack, and the intense racing action. This was arcade racing at its finest as it is the same infamous Hornet car, automatic or manual transmission, and overtaking the opposition, whether its the CPU or online opponents. Daytona was also one of many racers back then that had a pick up and play mentality, but deeper than you think gameplay once you learn more of the tactics especially drifting in sharper turns, drafting as seen in a NASCAR race, and boost starting at the harder courses. There is a rewind feature new to these versions, but its one of those unnecessary things to have even though today's racers have something similar. Besides the main arcade mode, there are actually some extra modes to keep players going for a bit solo on these new home versions. Besides the standard time trials, there are challenges to complete ranging from mastering the game's tougher turns at the various courses to learning the tactics I mentioned earlier. In addition, survival mode lets you stay on the track as long as you can till the timer runs out as you extend time performing certain tasks. Then there's the karaoke mode seen in the Saturn version where you can recite the lyrics of the game's catchy songs while driving, which is a neat bonus for fans. Even though it doesn't seem to be enough content considering it is still the three courses and their mirrored versions, there is online multiplayer to round out the package.

Online multiplayer is maxed out at eight players as getting into games are done by simple lobbies. There are options to mess around with when hosting matches such as whether or not to include non-player cars, race in the mirrored versions, and turning tire fatigue on or off especially in longer games. My gripe with the lobbies is that sometimes that if not all the players are readied up (tends to be two of more players though), the lobby resets to the join in screen making matches longer to start than they should. As far as how matches go, they feel great with minimal latency issues. Opposing cars might be slightly not moving as normal as they would due to their connection. Other than that, these races are as intense as they were when racing against seven other players at those big car setups at some Dave & Busters. Even if you had a bad crash at the beginning of a race, there is still an opportunity to come back and no lead is ever safe at any of the courses even if you're doing well. My only disappointment with the online multiplayer is surprisingly a lack of online leaderboards in the menus to track down who are the best players as you're just there racing for fun even though that seems to be enough for most people. The leaderboards only consist of the best times in time trials and distance traveled in the survival mode. The other major missing feature in this port is local multiplayer despite this still being the arcade version as it would been nice to some splitscreen too.

In terms of how HD this version of Daytona USA looks, this is not some full-fledged HD remake with the visuals. It is the same 18 year old game (or bascially Sega Racing Classic), but with widescreen and cleaned up textures. The framerate is consistently smooth with no slowdown at all as seen in past PSN/XBLA releases by Sega's AM2 port team. The soundtrack is still as catchy and memorable as it was back in the day. The intro theme hearing "Daytona... let's go away" is a great nostalgic trip as well as the rolling start at the start of the beginner course. The sound effects and voice overs also remain the same with no issues at all.

Even though it feels like a trip down memory lane, the PSN/XBLA port of Daytona USA is arguably Sega's best downloadable effort on these consoles. It is finally the proper home port fans have been waiting for numerous years after experiencing disappointing versions in the past. Besides the extra single-player modes, the fun and addicting online multiplayer will keep players going for a while despite not noticing any leaderboards for that. The game still looks great despite how old it is compared to today's racing games and the catchy soundtrack is as memorable as it was eighteen years ago. If you're itching for some good old-fashioned arcade racing, Daytona USA is a blast and easily worth the ten dollar price.

Score = 8.5/10

  • As arcade perfect as it gets (the best port of this game)
  • Racing as still as fun and intense as it was back in the arcade days
  • Extra single-player modes and online multiplayer to increase replay value
  • The catchy soundtrack
  • I didn't see any online multiplayer leaderboards tracking wins or ranking (only for time trial and survival modes)
  • Online matches sometimes take longer to start if not all players are readied up when the countdown goes to zero.
  • No local multiplayer

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Best Superhero Game Gets Better... The Batman: Arkham City Review

Note: The following gameplay videos might contain spoilers, so watch at your own risk.

Batman: Arkham Asylum came out of nowhere in 2009. Yeah, it has Batman in it, but no one expected it to be that amazing considering the track record with games based on popular comic book heroes. Not only the developers Rocksteady created something special with that game, they set new standards with its combat system and nailing down how it truly feels to be the Caped Crusader. They're at it again with Arkham City to make things bigger and better. It is basically a by-the-numbers sequel with incremental improvements, but it doesn't mean it is a bad thing. Those who loved Arkham Asylum's presentation and storyline will be at love with Arkham City from beginning to end as Rocksteady does it again nailing down the important thing that matters with games like these: actually being Batman and the badass he is.

Arkham City takes place six months after the events of Arkham Asylum as the prisoners have moved to a new prison closer to Gotham, which explains the title of this sequel. Hugo Strange has big plans for this new location being the owner of it as the beginning starts off with a twist that I won't spoil. It is up to Batman to stop Strange's Protocol Ten plan from going down, but with his infamous villains such as The Joker, Penguin, and Mister Freeze still roaming around the area, he has his work cut out for him as you figure out how all these villains are connected to the main storyline. Then there's also Catwoman thrown in the mix as well as she is playable only you downloaded the online pass that comes with new copies of the game. Those without an online connection are out of luck seeing how she fits into the equation as the whole issue surrounding that can be debated in another time. Playing through the entire story is one crazy experience seeing how all these villains are thrown together into one huge game and its filled with unexpected twists and turns I didn't see coming. While some villains might not get some attention or have a bigger role as much of other villains as some of them just make a cameo appearance, its still nice to see them in some capacity in Arkham City.

The core gameplay that Arkham Asylum established is still intact in this sequel. The freeflow combat system is still as good as it was, but the little improvements are great additions to Batman's disposal. You can still mash your way through these fights, but keeping your multiplier alive still makes it deep when you mix things up. What I mean is when you use your gadgets and other special takedowns than just normal strikes. Timing critical strikes is key and quickfiring your gadgets have been improved significantly. As you progress through the game, enemies will get better with their weaponry from knives to guns as when encountering armed foes, Batman needs to be more careful as a smoke pellet can do only so much when escaping. Even though most of his gadgets are unlocked from the get go, the game does a good job of telling you when its the right time certain items are used in battle or just to transverse to the next area. Grappling and gliding from one area of the city to another is fun as well with some improvements done to those mechanics as well such as dive bombing to extend your glide. Along with the freeflow system, there's also the predator combat system as well returning from the last game. One of the flaws from Asylum was about detective mode and how it became essentially a win button of sorts when picking off enemies one by one grappling from one gargoyle to another. Detective mode is still in and the same, but you don't need it as much as you would back in the original. You can still use to plan out your attack and check how the environment can be your friend as well. Eventually enemies will become smarter in later encounters when detective mode can not be as useful and them using thermal vision to track your whereabouts. There is no other franchise than this one nailing down what it is truly like to be the Batman and with the little improvements, it just gets better.

One of the big things promised in Arkham City is supposed to be how more open-ended it was to be than the original. Asylum was also remembered for being Batman in a Metroidvania-like game (structured like Metroid Prime & Castlevania: Symphony of the Night), but in 3D. The structure still holds true here in a sense as there are side missions and collect-a-thons to distract you from continuing the main story, but turns out it wasn't as open-ended people hoped it would be tackling different areas in a different order. The main path is pretty linear if you focus just on that and beat the game in normally a dozen hours. Of course, it takes longer to 100% the game with the Riddler trophies/challenges to collect and side missions to deal with. There's also a new game plus option once you beaten the game to start off with your gadgets intact, but the counter indicators from enemies is off. As with the last game, challenge rooms are back in Arkham City for combat and predator sections. Along with that, there are campaigns that mix the two together in a string of events to add into the absurd amount of replay value.

Graphically, Arkham City looks as good if not slightly better than Asylum. The character models are great from top and bottom especially seeing Batman's status of his suit change from the beginning of the game to the end. The urban environments are a change of pace compared to the island from the last game as you can only go inside certain buildings that are significant for the main story and side missions. While the framerate is consistently smooth at 30 frames per second, I did run into numerous freezing issues during my time with the game where I had to reset the console (it even froze during the last boss fight for example). The sound is still as top-notch as it was last time from the amazing voice acting to the soundtrack. Kevin Conroy reprises his role as Batman from the animated series as well as Mark Hamill's amazing job voicing the Joker, but the rest of the voice cast is great too as fanservice. At this rate, it is never a Batman game or even the cartoon unless Conroy is voicing the Caped Crusader himself.

While Arkham City feels like a by-the-numbers sequel that kept it safe, the little improvements and change of setting still made the best superhero game better. The freeflow combat system remains unmatched by most action games in the market today as well as nailing the true essence of being a character like Batman. The replay value is just absurd with the amount of collectables, easter eggs, new game plus, and challenge rooms to complete that will keep players busy for weeks and even months with downloadable content of more playable characters. Some promises however didn't come as people expected and my personal freezing issues prevent it from pure perfection, but it is still one of the best games of the year and a masterpiece you can't miss out on.

Score = 9.5/10

  • The true feeling of being Batman gets better
  • Freeflow combat system still as good as it was and unmatched compared to most of today's games
  • Storyline full of unexpected twists and turns making it one of the best single-player experiences I played through in a while
  • Crazy amount of replay value that will keep players busy for weeks
  • Not as open-ended as some hoped it would be (still structured similarly to Asylum)
  • Game freezing issues I personally experienced
  • The Catwoman online pass debacle - if you don't have an online connection, you're out of luck.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Some Dance Central 2 Vids for your Sunday...

Some folks have Dance Central 2 early and most of the songs are up on YouTube (hard difficulty), so here's some of them.

David Guetta feat. Akon - "Sexy Chick" (Arguably the hardest song in the game tier-wise)

Britney Spears - "Toxic" (NOTE - This is a cover as if we're back in 2006 in terms of rocking cover songs on games. Harmonix I guess didn't get the rights to use the actual song... makes you wander if Britney is really that hard to get in games like these).

Willow Smith - "Whip My Hair" (no surprise that song is in the game)

Lady Gaga - "Born This Way" and "Bad Romance" (Gaga is one of a handful artists that have at least two songs in the game)

More soon... still the Kinect game to get this holiday season (well if you want 4-player dancing rather than two here in DC2, u can get Just Dance 3).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

BF3 vs. MW3 (Launch Trailer Showdown)

The big first-person shooter face off begins Tuesday with Battlefield 3's release while Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is still two weeks after. Launch trailers seem to be another new trend in the gaming industry these days as Battlefield's came out yesterday and Activision had to follow suit with their launch clip for MW3. Anyway, here they are...

If you've been following my stance on which is better, you should know by now who I'm still repping.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Soul Calibur V's Guest Character Finally Revealed

Soul Calibur V's guest character has been rumored for a week, but looked like that came true as Ezio from the Assassins Creed franchise is officially in the game. So far, Ezio is pretty much the only guest that has made sense to appear in a SC game compared to Link, Heihachi, Spawn, Darth Vader, Yoda, and Kratos. Those characters (Link and Kratos being the exception I guess) are a little too crazy to have, but nice for the sake for fantasy. Ezio has retain most of his moves and gadgets from his games in the Soul Calibur world, but as with guest characters in general, don't expect him to be high up in the tier list. Supposedly, Soul Calibur V is coming out as early as January, which is a little surprising, but we'll see when Namco Bandai makes an announcement regarding that soon.

SSX Comes Out on Valentine's Day

EA finally announces a final release date for SSX, which is February 14, 2012 (aka Valentine's Day). Along with this announcement is another new trailer and I'm still pretty excited for the return of my favorite snowboarding franchise. I'm assuming a demo will come out a month prior, so keep your fingers crossed for that soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

PSN Demo Showcase for 10/19/11

Today's PSN Demo Showcase features the latest iterations of two long-lasting franchises with one featuring hedgehogs and the other with cars.

First up is another demo for Sonic Generations as this time it features both classic and modern Sonic in the Green Hill Zone. The classic Sonic's level is the same as the 20th anniversary demo except with an annoying Chao being some sort of tutorial. New on the demo landscape though is modern Sonic's Green Hill level. For those who don't know, modern Sonic is based on the 3D games (Adventure, Heroes, Unleashed, Colors) with speed boosts and homing attacks. If you especially played Sonic Unleashed (not for the disastrously Werehog levels), you will feel right at home with modern Sonic's controls. The level is a longer than classic Sonic's version and features a rock remix of the infamous Green Hill theme, something you would hear from one of the recent 3D games. For Generations, modern Sonic seems fine to me even though I had an easier with classic Sonic because I played the older games more than the disappointing new ones (Colors being an exception). Sonic Generations is out on November 1 and hopefully this breaks the Sonic Cycle once for all, but there is a feeling that it won't somehow knowing Sonic Team.

The other featured demo this week is Need for Speed: The Run, EA Black Box's return to the franchise after their last disappointing effort with Undercover. After last year's success of Hot Pursuit, EA seems fine with attaching autolog to all their high profile games now with this one being no exception. This is your Standard Need for Speed demo with two cars (Porsche Carrera S and the Lambo Gallardo) to choose from and two tracks available to race through. Both of the tracks are point-to-point and require a certain amount of cars to pass through to complete the race. None of the new features such as the debatable on-foot sequences are in this demo as it is straight up racing in Death Valley and a snow environment. The snow track is more interesting since there are avalanches popping up everywhere throughout the race against just one car as you attempt to pass it along with avoiding any hazards. Getting wrecked does allow rewinds to go down as seen in previous Need for Speed games as it rewinds you to the last checkpoint you crossed rather than the turn before. The graphics of this demo definitely show it is from an early build, so we'll see how the final game looks when it comes on November 15.

Grand Theft Auto III Celebrates 10 Years

This Sunday is the 10th anniversary of one of the greatest games of all-time, which is Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto III. It was a game ahead of its time changing everything we knew about games how open-ended it was, the controversy it caused, and the amount of insanity you can cause. I remember the day I getting the last copy at a Toys R Us during my PS2's first month and experiencing firsts of many. For a week or two, I didn't care about progressing through the main story as I rather try to cause as much chaos as I can till I die. Throw in cheat codes into the mix and it was crazy times back in October 2001. Then I realized that the main storyline was worth it after all with the crazy amount of twists and turns till the finale. Liberty City and gaming in general wasn't the same for the next ten years looking where we are now.

It would be interesting to see what if GTA III didn't come out and set the standard for modern games. Would Japan remain its dominance in the gaming landscape even today or other western developers took this idea for their own? Let's face it, that game did pretty much changed everything as it was the start of a new era and direction for the industry as well as a gateway for more Western developers to follow suit.

Happy 10th anniversary to Grand Theft Auto III and thanks for flipping the game industry upside down to become what it is today.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

EA Sports Goes From Jamming to Blitzing...

Fresh off NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, EA Sports is also bringing back the arcade football classic NFL Blitz to the current generation as a download on January 8, 2012. Jam announcer Tim Kitzrow returns for this new Blitz and Tiburon is handling development (the Madden folks). After seeing how great of a comeback NBA Jam was for EA, I'm expecting the same level of goodness for Blitz too and I think fans will get that.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This Video = I Have No Words

This is too funny yet so dumb at the same time... thanks Marvel 3!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Street Fighter X Tekken at NYCC

Besides Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Capcom is also showing off the latest details with Street Fighter X Tekken as it now has a release date of March 6, 2012 (same day as Mass Effect 3). There's also a special edition confirmed, but I'll probably be suckered to getting it even though it could of been better. The big gameplay feature being revealed is the gem system, which seems be another questionable addition like Pandora, but I'll still wait till the final game if things work out together after all. The gem system allows for stats buffs for a limited time, but customizable before starting a match. More character teasers are also up for certain Tekken characters and after being seen in a previous trailer, Rufus is confirmed playable too. Its going to be interesting how tournaments will handle the gem system, but with another crazy gameplay system out there along with the rest of the other crazy business, there's a lot to think about in this game.

Anyway, the character teasers are below.

One Reason Why Light Gun Games are the Best

Maybe these guys take light gun games way too seriously. Then again, that's probably why they're the best.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Here Come The Men In Black... on Current-Gen Consoles

One 90s movie franchise returns to the gaming world as Activision announces a new Men in Black game for a 2012 release on current generation consoles. There is Men in Black 3 coming out next year I think or even 2013, so this new game will probably coincide with the movie or perhaps it will be an original storyline. Activision and a movie license usually means bad results and the developer doesn't seem to have a good track record of games worked on, but you never know. Even these first screenshots don't look that impressive and I don't see Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith doing voice work for this too.

At least this gives me a good excuse to post the infamous Will Smith song and video.

A New & Lengthy Final Fantasy XIII-2 Trailer

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is still probably not the sequel everyone wanted, but its still coming out in January 31, 2012 for PS3 and 360. Oh, this trailer also spoils the first game's ending in case people didn't play it yet as this sequel begins right after it. I'm not sure the story makes any sense yet, but I guess folks that liked XIII's gameplay will be fine with XIII-2. For the non-Japan versions, Charice does the theme song called "New World" which is sort of better than Leona Lewis's "My Hands" for XIII. Anyway, we'll see if Square can turn things around in January.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 at New York Comic-Con

New York Comic-Con is this weekend is its no surprise Capcom is there using the event for their latest character reveals for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. One of the most anticipated fighting game characters is finally being shown off as well as another of Marvel's lesser known heroes.

Everyone's favorite ace attorney Phoenix Wright finally makes it to a fighting game and boy he lives up to the hype. Even though he seems to be sheninegans-based, he just looks simply fun to play throwing out paper, delivering objection hammers, and a OTG level 3 that looks too good. He has another meter above the hyper meter to store his evidence, as who knows how that is utilized (more damage? he needs three or four pieces of evidence to do his level 3?). Capcom added a lot of the effects that have appeared in the Ace Attorney games as they did another great job translating one of their beloved characters into a different genre.

Nova is one of Marvel's lesser known heroes and another character that can hit hard once he gets going. Along with Taskmaster, Storm, Spider-Man, and some others he doesn't have a level 3 hyper move, but the hypers he has will get the job done. He has lots of wall bounce and OTG capabilities, so I'm sure he'll be fun to mess around with.

There is only Frank West and Rocket Raccoon left to reveal out of the whole roster, which I think Capcom will save that for the end of the month. As expected with these videos, more match footage is below.

UPDATE - Well here's your perfect screen in UMvC3 (This didn't happen in vanilla)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Let's Go Away on October 25/26

After teasing it a couple weeks back with a contest, Sega officially announces Daytona USA for Xbox Live Arcade on October 26 and Playstation Network a day earlier for ten dollars. The same game that you loved at the arcades is finally getting a proper port on consoles (Saturn and Dreamcast versions were disappointing from what I seen). Widescreen support is in as seen in Sega Racing Classic (the same Daytona without the name) as well as online multiplayer with up to eight players on the three tracks. Extra modes are included such as the karaoke mode from the Saturn version. As I said back from the teaser blog post...

Rrrolllliiinnnggg Sttaaaaaaaarrrttt!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Next Big Thing Returns in WWE '12

This is pretty surprising when I first read about it, but now it is happening. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar returns to what made him the beast it is today. He is a playable legend in WWE' 12, which is out next month. Considering what you have to go through is get this approved from the UFC, this is pretty big. Dana White has said on numerous occasions that him and Vince McMahon are good friends and not competitors, so I guess Dana decided to let Brock appear in a wrestling game again. Of course, it doesn't mean The Next Big Thing will return to the actual WWE as he has a big fight against Overeem in December for the UFC, but its still nice to see him back in a WWE product.

Here Comes the Pain indeed (I'm not sure about his remixed entrance music as the original is still pretty good)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Dance Game Battle Begins This Week!

Tomorrow begins this year's dance game battle as Just Dance 3 releases on Wii, 360, and PS3 while Dance Central 2 is still on track for October 25 exclusively on Kinect. I actually saw the Wii version at my local Target last weekend (Target has two exclusive songs) and was tempted to get it at its 40 dollar price, but good thing it was only temptation. I still expect this to sell gangbusters this holiday season as here's one of the songs in full that is everyone's favorite song on radio this year. Its cool that LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" is in it, but its missing one important thing: Shuffling!!!! To be fair, Just Dance 3 doesn't really include actual chereography to certain songs as Dance Central 2 has been doing for the most part in some of their songs.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Pretty Much Official...

Mass Effect 3's multiplayer has been rumored even since the game's original announcement last year, but looks like its going down after all according to next month's Official Xbox Magazine cover story. The issue comes out next week and probably the embargo on everyone else will be up by then to spill the beans on what BioWare has been up to. Even they announced it early on their Twitter about confirming some sort of multiplayer component. No official word what it is actually going to be whether its the standard competitive modes, co-op through the campaign, or a horde style mode as of yet, but I guess we have to wait till next week for the info along with plans for downloadable content (An online pass has been rumored as well). Personally, it is inevitable Mass Effect 3 is getting it and also probably one of many reasons it was delayed to March 2012. The big campaign is what still matters at the end of the day as we determine the fate of Shepard in the conclusion of this epic trilogy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Who Needs the Lockout, Its Boom-Shakalaka Time!!! The NBA Jam: On Fire Edition Review

EA's NBA Jam reboot last year was a great return to form for the arcade basketball classic. Even though it was a retail release, this year's On Fire Edition is download only on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. NBA Jam being download only is for the best since you're getting a better value for a decent amount of content. Some new gameplay additions and online features are introduced for this year's version, but its still NBA Jam at its core, which what matters importantly at the end of the day. From ridiculous dunks, Tim Kitzrow saying boomshakalaka numerous times, and tons of unlockables, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is a great downloadable package that is worth your fifteen bucks.

The classic NBA Jam gameplay is still intact in this version sticking to the signature 2v2 format. Games are fast and intense with easy scoring, but as sports goes, a great defense equals a great offense. Defending is key to success with the classic pushes, stealing, and timed blocks. Players on offense can still use their elbows like the original to avoid pushes, but that can only do so much. Scoring still consists of normal shooting, crazy dunks, alley oops, and being on fire to do insane over the top dunks. The new gameplay additions are great adding along to your ways to score. Team Fire allows both teammates to be on fire by scoring three alley oops in a row then the ball goes on blue fire. There is a time limit with team fire, but the opposing team can distinguish it with an alley oop of their own. Razzle dazzle brings some style to the mix with tricks straight out of NBA Street even though it is just a way to show off and crazy shots you normally don't see in a real basketball game. Tag mode is simply controlling both teammates instead of one human and one CPU AI the whole game. Having that on has its advantages and weaknesses, but at least it makes Jam feel somewhat modern to the simulation b-ball games. The core gameplay is still fun, pick up to play, and a blast especially against local friends, where it can get pretty competitive once good games get going.

While last year's reboot has numerous modes that spiced up things from boss characters and other crazy stipulations, On Fire Edition sticks straight to the point of good old fashioned NBA Jam taking those out even though they were decent ideas at the time. Other than the standard Jam Now mode, you're going to spend most of your time in the game's Road Trip and Online Arena. Road Trip is the main career mode as you have to face all the teams at least three times to complete it. The first time will be against current stars while the second time is against a team's legends (some teams don't have legends though). It gets harder at the second half of the campaign as the AI gets better at defense pushing and stealing at will even though you can breeze through teams' current stars. Even though it can be played alone, Road Trip is a grind being longer than you think becoming repetitive even though the AI steps up their game as you progress. At least if you're tired of grinding it out alone, it can be played co-op locally and even online.

Speaking of online, On Fire Edition's Online Arena is deeper with lots of stat tracking, challenges to complete (also counts for Road Trip). The Jam challenges are self-explanatory performing certain tasks to accumulate Jam Points to buy the game's unlockables. Online specific challenges are there as well as your friends list that play this game can help achieve them even though they function the same. The big feature with Online Arena is that there is a time period to accumulate wins and racking medals every week. This is neat to have pushing players to keep playing online matches against the world. Other than that, be prepared to deal with players that like to spam three pointers as unless you can defend that, online play is going to be frustrating and it has been personally. In addition, there are ragequitters that will not finish games if they are behind by lots of points. It still functions fine with minimal lag during my experience so far, but it is rare to have a fair game of NBA Jam going against online opposition. There will be intense moments during close games as you just want to scream out loud pulling off a double overtime win to yelling curse words in defeat.

If you seen the graphics of last year's NBA Jam, On Fire Edition basically looks the same with accurate faces to current stars and legends. There are some missing legends probably because of likeness issues (Michael Jordan being in NBA 2K12 is obviously an exclusive thing), but it is still pretty much a who's who of basketball players from the 80s and 90s. The crowd looks fine for the most part and the unlockable teams are obviously a nice treat in a game like this. In traditional Jam fashion, Democrats and Republicans are unlockable as well as mascots and characters from other EA games that I won't spoil (unless you saw that launch trailer above). I also like the soundtrack in the game with beats that gets people going in-game and the menus. Tim Kitzrow's commentary is still as good as it was back in the 90s with his classic lines even though he can ramble too much and when he throws out references from today's times, they're cringe-worthy at best.

For fifteen dollars (1200 Microsoft Points), NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is as good as it gets when it comes to arcade sports games. Being downloadable is a great thing as you're getting lots of replay value out of it for that price from the lengthy Road Trip mode and playing against other people locally or online. The classic gameplay is still as fun and a blast to play as it was in the 90s along with the craziness the franchise has been known for. The numerous unlockables and completing jam challenges are also keep players going for weeks and months to come along with downloadable content and updated rosters. At this rate, who needs the NBA lockout when you can go boomshakalaka on your foes with this latest NBA Jam.

Score = 8.5/10

  • The core NBA Jam gameplay is still fun and a blast especially with the new gameplay additions
  • Tons of replay value and numerous unlockables
  • Sticks straight to the point taking out the gimmick modes
  • Lengthy career mode
  • Deep online focus will keep players going
  • Some of the commentary could of been better (Kitzrow can ramble too much at times)
  • Online competition can be frustrating to play against (opponents that love to spam three pointers because they have a player with a high 3pt rating and ragequitters if they are down by a huge margin)

Playing An Outrun Cabinet in Real Life?

This is some random video I just saw regarding an Outrun arcade cabinet being driven in the real world. Apparently, when the game tells you to turn, you turn the actual vehicle for reals. Shoutouts to UC Irvine for coming up with this even though it is still in experimental stages, but there's some potential despite how scary it can be at open environments than closed ones.

A New Modern Warfare 3 Campaign Trailer

We're about a month away from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's big release as the latest campaign trailer is now up on the interwebs. Activision is obviously expecting big things from their latest cash cow as if they're going to trump Black Ops as the biggest entertainment launch of all-time. The crazy setpieces will still be there along with a summer Hollywood blockbuster-like plot to conclude this trilogy. I'm still on Team Battlefield, but obviously MW3 is no slouch.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Let's Get A Drink From Subway & Go Hands-On with Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Again...

Subway has a big contest and promotion going for Uncharted 3 as the grand prize is some trip to various locales around the world. Buying a medium drink gets you a code for the latest version of Uncharted 3's multiplayer while getting sandwiches and chips gets you codes for other in-game goodies. This is not apparently the final version of the multiplayer as there are only six maps and a level cap of 35, but there are enough changes that are different from the summer beta. This version will last for the whole month of October till the final game's release date of October 1st, but it allows your stats, loadouts, and unlockables to carry over. Its basically a head start for those that want it to mess around early because the big multiplayer juggernauts are coming out by the time it arrives on retail. The feature set at its core is still similar to the summer beta, but the subtle gameplay changes did change people's playstyles.

Other than the three maps that appeared previously, this new version offers three more maps with Desert Village, London Underground, and Syria. The cool thing about Desert Village is that a sandstorm will occur mid-match and the visibility will decrease for a short time. London Underground follows a similar structure than Airstrip when playing team deathmatch as the start of the game takes place in a moving train before stopping at the station. These sequences are still nice to have in concept, but disrupts the flow of a normal mutliplayer game as teams can get big leads easily if they have a positional advantage. Even the train can kill you at the station if you're standing on the tracks too. Syria is a nighttime map in a castle that works well for objective-based games. These maps are great additions with more to come in the final game.

If you played the summer beta, you'll feel right at home with this Subway version. The major thing you'll notice however is blindfire being better to the point it becomes chaos when close against opposing players praying you'll get a kill. A recent patch supposedly fixed this with stopping power, but I haven't had much time with that. Melee can still be a 50/50 as its been trying to out-mash someone for the two hit kill. Of course, there are moments where an enemy would take lots of shots can still not die and headshots don't act like headshots, but Naughty Dog still has time to tune things up for the final release. Sprinting was improved in the latest beta as well as increasing the medal count for the RPG kickback from eight to ten (previously with that kickback, I can get three kickback king pretty easily if I'm doing well). With this build, there is an argument that Uncharted 3 has become a blindfire fest like how Gears of War has been shotgun fest with its multiplayer, but you can stop and pop your way to victory.

The playlists and the party system remain the same for the most part with team deathmatch, free for all, plunder, team objective, and three team deathmatch. Having a party around is obviously advantageous if you're able to communicate well especially in objective-based games. There will be always players that play objective games to rack lots of kills rather than go for the win, so be prepared to encounter some games like that. Replays, YouTube uploads, and Uncharted TV still function the same as well even though Uncharted TV is showing footage from the summer beta rather than this one now. The HUD change is another thing worth mentioning as the scores appear on the bottom right of the screen, which is fine. Unlockable boosters, guns, weapon mods, and characters are expected too as you play as the villains that have a viable role in the camapaign here. Since this is the Subway version, you can get attain Subway exclusive items that won't appear in the final game, so get it now while you still can last month if you're that completionist type.

At first, I wasn't a fan of the changes in this Subway build of Uncharted 3's multiplayer, but it seems like the developers have noticed the new player tendencies and hope to balance things out for the final version. Even though it has become a blindfire festival, the core tactics still work fine as usually you have to resort to the BS to win, which is the case in multiplayer games in general. I'm still having a good time leveling up quickly even though there are tons of people that reached the level cap of 35 in a matter of hours. The campaign is what I'm most anticipating seeing how Nathan Drake survives this new adventure, but its a cool thing that the multiplayer is already out to get it over with.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ultimate Assist Me is Off and Popping...

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is about five weeks away and Maxmillian was able to snag a near final build of the game to start off his Ultimate Assist Me! series, an in-depth tutorial featuring the new characters. This week is Strider-Hiryu and Hawkeye as Max covers the basics for these guys with his roommate Doctor Doom. Don't expect the crazy business right away since the game is not even out, but this is a good overview of what the new guys will play like. Also, expect the live nation hilarity that the Assist Me videos has been bringing the past few months as well.

Last night, iPlayWinner and Capcom hosted a little event called Ultimate NorCal vs. Capcom, where UMvC3 and Street Fighter X Tekken were playable to NorCal's best players. UMvC3 got more of the spotlight (hence the title and it was the Vergil/Iron Fist build) as we get the see some crazy sheninegans the other new characters have so far. It was a great stream filled with amazing commentary that NorCal has been known for along with some players already getting used to some new characters like Vergil, Nemesis, and Ghost Rider. I'll have the YouTube link up later for that. Next weekend is New York Comic-Con and also the next (final?) reveals of the remaining new characters, so stay tuned.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Rooollllliiiinnnngggg Stttaaarrrrtttt!!!!!

In weird fashion, Sega teases a new downloadable game announcement above, but the tease is too obvious (and by the title above). Anyway, it is about time Daytona USA is coming to consoles via download and I'll leave it at that.

UPDATE - The possible release date for this is October 25 according to the Playstation Blog as there is a discount on this if you have Playstation Plus.

Assuming it is Daytona USA, will it be just another rushed port of a classic or Sega actually caring about it adding in extra features? Who knows if it will have any multiplayer at all (at least locally) especially online. Online play could be limited to two to eight players, eight being the maximum for an arcade setup, or they could go the extra mile with 16 or 32 players even though that is a dream (imagine that though!).

Music Video of the Day for 10/3/11

Drake ~ Headlines (Official Video) from OctobersVeryOwn on Vimeo.

Drake - "Headlines"

Take Care is out on October 24 and I hope its better than Thank Me Later.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Just Dance 3 vs. Dance Central 2 - Soundtrack Battle!

This year's fall battle of rhythm games contains two dance franchises that follow a similar rivalry between the big plastic instrument games four years ago. Both Just Dance 3 and Dance Central 2 are out this month to compete for your dollars, but even though the games are different in terms of how dancing is handled. Just Dance 3 continues this mega popular franchise as it is now coming to all three platforms instead of only the Wii. Its a Kinect only on the Xbox 360 while Move controls are mandatory on the Playstation 3 version. Obviously being on all three consoles means it will sell better than Dance Central 2 easily and arguably one of the big selling games this holiday season, but it doesn't mean its the better game. Harmonix's Dance Central 2 is what I call the "Rock Band 2" of dance games improving everything and including what is missing in this sequel to the Kinect's most successful game so far. The dance routines are getting better and more accurate to music videos of certain songs unlike Just Dance 3 where it is the same old mindless moves that don't make sense. Anyway, this post is about comparing the soundtracks, which is the most important part to decide who would win this battle as the better dancing game.

Just Dance 3's soundtrack is the best of the franchise being a mix of new and old classic stuff. One advantage in terms of certain songs making this game compared to Dance Central 2 is LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem." The downside to this is definitely a lack of shuffling in the preview footage above, which is disappointing. Recent hits range from Katy Perry's "California Gurls" (One of the spokespersons advertising this game with exclusive DLC again at retailers I think), Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You," and more. There is a lack of infamous songs compared to the competition as there are some personal favorites in here I approve of like A-ha, Janelle Monae, Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous," and others. The soundtrack at the end of the day for Just Dance 3 is just another collection of tunes to dance to. The full list is here if you see some choices I didn't mention here you like.

Dance Central 2's soundtrack on the other hand is filled with banger after banger that has influenced the dance scene as if Harmonix knows what's up when it comes to song choices (they have been for the Rock Band games). Its a great mix of classic and modern songs that I know people are down to dance into at their homes. The old-school stuff that is in this game are basically the quintessential songs you expect to hear at parties and get things popping at the clubs. Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" (shoutouts to Pat 112), "The Humpty Dance," "Baby Got Back," and "What is Love?" are just some of the classics that are in this sequel. As far as modern radio hits are concerned, "Like a G6," "Rude Boy" by Rihanna, Flo Rida's "The Club Can't Handle Me," Gaga's "Born This Way," and more made it to the final disc. Even house favorites "Sexy Chick" by David Guetta and "Sandstorm" (yeah that DDR classic) will be awesome times as well. Slower songs such as B.o.B's " Nothin' On You" and "Grenade" by Bruno Mars are questionable, but I guess they offer a different change of pace if you're into that. Even though the whole soundtrack hasn't been revealed yet, you can still look here for what else made it to Dance Central 2. In Harmonix tradition, all songs from Dance Central 1 can be exported in the new one for a cheap fee as well as all DLC is also supported too, meaning you can have more than a hundred songs at your disposal when it comes out.

The soundtrack battle is pretty much no contest as Dance Central 2 easily wins it over Just Dance 3 due to the crazy amount of bangers and not a lot of filler (misses). Who knows how Ubisoft will handle downloadable songs for Just Dance 3 on 360 and PS3 if they have a monthly schedule planned out as I know for sure Harmonix, the kings of DLC, will be able to pump out new songs for weeks and months to come. If you have a 360, definitely go with Dance Central 2 for your dancing game of choice as long as you have a Kinect. PS3 or Wii-only owners will be fine with Just Dance 3 filling that void.