First off is UFC Undisputed 3 as I have been playing the demo and the alpha online test that finally came out late last week for PSN peeps. The alpha test is definitely an early build of the game without most of the sounds you hear normally in an UFC game from the music and the announcers. It served its purpose testing the netcode to make sure its fine for the final game and so far it seems so from what I played. Created fighters are only allowed in this version and it is a nice touch to mix things up with fighting styles as the matches go on standard rules compared to the demo. The only disappointing part about the demo is that matches are set to one round only than the traditional three rounds as seen in past demos of THQ's franchise. Luckily there's PRIDE rules to use along with the normal UFC rules as PRIDE rounds are set to ten minutes, so that's the mode to go with if you want more time fighting. Four fighters are selectable in the demo as Jon Jones & Anderson Silva are playable in the UFC while Wanderlei Silva and Rampage Jackson are on PRIDE. The extra year of time has definitely paid off for UFC Undisputed 3 as Yuke's are able to add more touches and beef up the modes to make the game feel like the ultimate UFC game we have been waiting for. The core gameplay is still intact from previous entries, but the little new additions make this game worth it for any UFC fan. From the roster that includes the featherweight and banterweight classes, PRIDE (which the developers did a great job integrating it to the game), and the little new details that make fights don't like the last game, UFC Undisputed 3 is looking pretty good as beatdowns begin on Valentine's Day.
Next up is The Darkness II, the long awaited sequel to 2007's The Darkness. I actually enjoyed the first game as it was one of my personal sleeper hits of that year on the 360, so I'm curious how this one will pan out. First of all, Digital Extremes is handling this game than the original's developer Starbreeze and the graphical style has been changed completely as it looks more cel-shaded now. Cel-shaded graphics are actually a rarity these days, so its nice to see games like this implement it every now and then. The protagonist from the last game, Jackie, is back, and new villains are after his Darkness powers. The combat is mostly the same as more attention was paid to the Darkness tentacles being more than what they were in the original. I do like that you do crazy animations when firing guns as if you were in some John Woo flick, so that's cool than seeing the same old shooting animation from pretty much every other game that's out. There is a level up/upgrades system too as you gain experience by obviously killing enemies by guns or your tentacles. The pace during the demo though was a little too crazy for me, but it did start out with a bang. However, I do have a feeling that The Darkness II will be slept on again but we'll see about that.
The demo for EA's Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has been out for a couple of weeks and it is a lengthy one too. For those who don't know, 38 Studios (Curt Shilling's development studio) and Big Huge Games are making this as it has been a long time coming for this to come out. If I can sum up this RPG in a nutshell, it would be a mix of Fable and Mass Effect. The environments are as colorful as Fable's especially when outdoors and it also has Mass Effect's dialogue trees even though your created main character is silent. Once you're out of the first area, there is a 45 minute limit for the rest of the demo as there are numerous quests in a big world (whatever you're given) to take on even though most of them can't be finished here. My time with it has been a mixed bag as it is a solid RPG with the necessary elements to be as good as the other big ones that came out recently, but it doesn't mean I had fun with it. In addition the demo is really buggy filled with missing textures and awkward camera angles to the point your land disappears. Good thing its just an early build that the developers released and it will be fixed in the final game, but having that many bugs in a big downloadable demo is inexcusable these days. Then again, this could be the RPG to play after you're tired of Skyrim when it comes out on February 7.
Last up for now is a multiplayer beta for Gotham City Impostors. This is a multiplayer-only spinoff game in the Batman universe as it is pretty self-explanatory that you can play as Batman look-a-likes or a bunch of clowns that are reminiscent of The Joker. It definitely has a certain level of charm that is neat, which is sort of similar to Team Fortress 2 in some way especially when looking at the characters and the tutorials for the game modes. It is objective-based from a territory-like mode where you have to control a set of canisters for a good amount of time for a toxin to release if you're the Jokers or a group of bats if you're on the Batmen side. The other mode in this beta is a capture the flag variant where you have get a battery to your base and if held for a certain period of time you can confuse the opposition as they go into la-la-land, but they still can slap you to death if you're not careful. Gotham City Impostors is full of weapons and gadgets to mess around with from the conventional guns, grappling hooks, and more in the final games as there is a loadouts system and other customization options. Other than that, the gameplay is your standard shooter fare, but with the Batman twists if you're into that and the default sensitivity is higher than other shooters. I only had a brief time with the beta as I'll play more to see if it is worth buying.
That's it for now... next week is the Starhawk Beta for me since I have a code from Uncharted 3, but Playstation Plus owners have been playing it for a couple of weeks, so expect thoughts about that one soon.