Batman: Arkham Origins Teases a New Trailer
A new trailer for Batman: Arkham Origins has been released with footage depicting a fight between Batman and Deathstroke. It seems to show that Origins, as with Asylum and City, will have a hand-to-hand based combat system. This new game to the series is also going to be the first to feature a multiplayer mode, as well as the standard campaign. It’s unclear as to how this multiplayer will work at this point, however.
The game will be released on October 25th for Xbox, PS3, Wii U, and PC. Also to be released is Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate for PSVita and 3DS, a companion title to Arkham Origins. This will likely take place in the Blackgate Penitentiary, which is on an island in Gotham Bay; it’s the perfect setting for a smaller handheld version. More news on this handheld version is yet to come. A full trailer for Origins is set to be released on May 20th.
New Phoenix Wright Game Will See a Digital Only Release
Capcom announced today that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies (aka Phoenix Wright 5) will be released for the 3DS this fall as a digital download on the 3DS’s eShop. While Phoenix Wright fans are happy to hear that the game will see a localized release, many however are taking an “Objection” to Capcom’s announcement, as they want to own an actual physical copy of the game. Capcom shared the logic (or ill-logic) of their decision with Kotaku.
“Historically it’s been tough to attract long term retail support for Ace Attorney titles. With the release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies we wanted as many people as possible to be able to enjoy the game for as long as possible. With that in mind we have opted for a digital only release via the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
We understand that this decision may upset fans who wanted to have a physical version of the title to add to their collection but we believe this direction is the best to take to ensure that fans are able to enjoy the game at their own leisure.
We will be confirming details on the price point soon so please stay tuned for more information on the latest in the Ace Attorney series.”
As a long-time fan of the series I am pleased to see that the game will see a release in the US, however, I am sad that it won’t be able to sit on my shelf with all the rest of my Ace Attorney games.
Review: Soul Sacrifice (Vita)
One of my biggest problems with the PSVita has been the length of the games for it; Resistance: Burning Skies and Assassins Creed: Liberation each only took about two days of intermittent playing. This is not an issue for my latest Vita purchase of Soul Sacrifice, however. With all of the missions, spell-customization and lore for this game, you definitely get your money’s worth out of it in playtime.
The basic story behind Soul Sacrifice is that you are the prisoner of the evil sorcerer Magusar, who plans to use you as a human sacrifice; naturally, you need to escape from this fate. To do so you read Librom, the magically-possessed, talking journal of a sorcerer that you find within your cell. This allows you to re-live the sorcerer’s life, and slowly gain magical abilities with the more you read; it’s basically the way you access the in-game missions. If you wish to sink further into this world, the book also contains huge amounts of lore on monsters, places, and tons of other stuff. This immersive play-style (and reading) is a nice addition to this sort of game, though it would have been nice to get more of the story in videos that could have utilized the Vita’s graphic capabilities. This is a minor flaw for me though, as I really loved the whole journal mechanic throughout the game.
The world of this game is beautiful, as every Vita game should be. The various monsters and maps are well designed, and easy on the eyes. Even the cell you are contained in is surrounded by a dark, yet impressive, field of bones and cells. The spells you use are well animated and have a nice variety to keep you from feeling like you are doing the same thing with every attack.
The battle set up in the game is based on a set of six spells that you can set for each battle, which vary from ranged attacks to melee weapons that you summon. Each spell has a certain amount of casts, or times you can use it, before it breaks and you lose it for the rest of the mission. Multiples of spells can be used to boost their power, or you can fuse different kinds of spells to make new ones. You also have Black Rites, which are just more powerful attacks that have negative effects on you when you use them. To restore the casts for each spell, you can sacrifice the monsters you kill. You also have the option to save them in order to gain health. This Save/Sacrifice mechanic is very important throughout the game, because it is the whole way you get stronger and progress. After fighting a boss, you can choose to save them and use them later in battles as an ally, or you can sacrifice them and gain their powers. The main issues I had with battles is that the monsters (while well-designed, as I mentioned earlier) get recycled very quickly and very often, with not many changes to their appearance; the dreaded palette swap complaint. The other issue is that boss battles weren’t particularly challenging, as they tended to just follow their attack-patterns over and over, which leaves the player being able to simply beat on them as much as they can until they fall. It is also hard to tell how long the boss battle will take, because no enemies have any life bar what-so-ever, a really annoying trait for a game like this.
Soul Sacrifice is a huge game for the Vita and can stand with some of the other longer games for the system. The freedom to replay missions and beat them in different ways to get different benefits proves to be fun, not grindy. The idea of giving up life for power or vice versa is a nice addition when its a game about spell casting. This game is by no means a system seller, but it is worth picking up for Vita owners. With a larger variety of monsters and less predictable bosses this game would have fared better. Even without this, though, Soul Sacrifice is very entertaining and immersive. I’ll be re-playing it in new ways for a while.
Tomb Raider Writer Tackles Gender Equality in Game Development
The topic of sexism in game development has been a big issue recently, especially since for a long while, video games was often viewed as a “boys only activity”, but Tomb Raider scriptwriter, Rhianna Pratchett believes that it may not be the sole reason for the lack of female game developers.
“It’s a combination of a poor work-life balancing conditions, a lack of awareness of the opportunities out there and dwindling creative diversity,” Pratchett said in an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun. “We need to place stronger emphasis on improving working conditions, burnout rate and industry awareness. Ultimately, that’s what will improve the quality of the games and the lives of those who create them.”
Still, there’s no doubt that the issue of sexism can have a major negative impact on the industry.
At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco earlier this year, game designer Brenda Romero resigned her position as co-chair of the International Game Developers Association in protest to the female dancers employed to entertain guests in revealing clothing.
To encourage female developers to share why they’re interested in gaming development and why, Pratchett created the Twitter hashtag #1reasontobe.
“The main reason why I started #1reasontobe is because I believe that raising awareness of what a great industry this can be, and what opportunities there are for men and women alike, is fundamental in tackling these problems,” Pratchett said.
Hopefully, all the concerns that can have a negative affect on developers, both men and women, improve so we all can continue to get quality games. Check out Pratchett’s full interview at Rock Paper Shotgun.
Hardware Review: Afterglow Universal Headset
I recently picked up a wireless Afterglow Universal Headset by PDP for $89.99 to try out, and if you’re looking for a fully universal headset, this is the one. (If you aren’t too concerned about distance, you can also get the wired Universal Afterglows for $59.99.) It supports Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, Wii U, and even smart phone and mp3 players. This level of compatibility is unbeatable for a value gaming headset. With such a great range of compatible devices available, the real question becomes how good the quality and sound of this headset is.
When I set it up, it was relatively simple to understand, and I finished quickly. The quality of audio is actually quite impressive. They use 50mm Neodymium® Speakers to provide a quality experience that matches up with some of the Turtle Beach or Astro headsets on the market. The headset has three settings for you to choose from, to decide what audio experience you prefer, and others listening to you through your mic can hear you loud and clear. The advertised battery, a 900mAh rechargeable Lithium Polymer, is said to last for over 10 hours; in testing this, I found this to be right on the mark, as mine does not make it much past 13 hours on a full charge.
The main issue that some might have with this headset is how big and bright it is. In terms of size, it actually only looks heavy. It’s relatively light in weight, and sits on your head comfortably, though it does make your head look bigger. The padding for the ears is shaped to cup them, and adds a noise canceling element. As for the brightness, you can set it to have no glow, full glow, or only have certain parts light up. These all make it comfortable for long gaming sessions.
When it comes down to it, this headset is a steal when you look at all the systems and devices you can use it for. It is high quality and not as bank-breaking as some others can be. Despite some issues I might have had with its size and brightness, I found the overall experience with it to be enjoyable. I recommend it if you are looking for a new headset; it’s definitely worth picking up.
Rumor: Microsoft’s New Xbox Won’t Force Gamers to Always Remain Online to Play Games
Many gamers will agree that it doesn’t make sense for a console to force them to be on the internet in order to play single player titles, but new info on Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox suggests that you may not need to have a constant online connection after all.
While not officially confirmed by Microsoft, a leaked e-mail sent to the company’s employees seems to lay to rest concerns many gamers have about online play.
“There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should ‘just work’ regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game,” the e-mail stated.
Hopefully this rumor is true and not an indication of Microsoft spinning their wheels on this particular issue. Especially after former Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth told critics to “deal with it” when talking about gamers needing an active internet connection to play single-player games.
It looks like we’ll all have to wait, see, and keep our fingers crossed.
Source: Ars Technica
The Games of May
At first glance it doesn’t seem like much, but May….. may surprise you. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
Week of 5/12
Metro Last Light (PS3/360) – In the post-apocalyptic year of 2034, the remains of mankind survive in the Metro tunnels beneath Moscow. Besieged by enemies within and without, you hold the key to mankind’s survival.
Week of 5/19
Week of 5/26
Grid 2 (PS3/360) – The sequel to the critically acclaimed 2008 racer sports a new-and-improved handling system, dozens of real-world locations and tracks, and a selection of iconic cars that represent the best in automotive engineering from the last 40 years.
Review: Zone of the Enders HD Collection (PS3/360)
Once upon a time, Konami actually let Hideo Kojima make games besides Metal Gear; I know it seems strange, but it’s true. Back in the early days of the PS2, before Kojima got around to Metal Gear Solid 2, he released a space-based giant-mecha game series called Zone of the Enders. The games were praised for their impressive in-game visuals (moreso the second one), awesome robot designs, and especially the fast-paced and fun combat, all of which the series is remembered for. Thanks to the games being remastered in this HD Collection, you can now re-live your memories of the series without the game looking the worse for wear on more modern technology.
For those of you out there that may not have played either of the ZOE games, they are set in the semi-distant future when mankind has begun to colonize space. A radical militant group known as BAHRAM is fighting against the Earth government under the disguise of a free Mars movement. Thanks to the discovery of a revolutionary new mineral known as Metatron, the construction of Orbirtal Frames (pilotable giant robots) has changed the way wars are fought.
The first Zone of the Enders takes place during a BAHRAM attack on a space station-based colony near Jupiter in order to capture the two most powerful Orbital Frames ever constructed, the twin Frames Jehuty & Anubis. A young boy named Leo, seeking refuge from the attack, accidentally stumbles upon the Jehuty frame and with the help of the on-board artificial intelligence known as ADA, attempts to save his family, friends and colony from the aggressors. Unfortunately, the game’s story is not all that great, and is more than a little incomprehensible too. Couple that with a poor art design and presentation for the game’s cinematics, laughable voice acting, boring and repetitive environments and what has to be the most anti-climatic last boss fight in the history of gaming, you have a clear recipe for failure and disaster. However, the original Zone of the Enders, despite all of its failings, was saved by its fast paced, fun, and innovative gameplay. Until now most giant robot games had been fairly slow and lumbering affairs, but thanks to ZOE’s unique combat system, players suddenly found themselves engaging in some of the most exciting, fast paced and engrossing mid-air battles ever seen. The smooth and quick maneuverability of Jehuty, as you charge, boost, flip, and pan around your targets while slicing and shooting them to ribbons is a sight to behold. This single mechanic was able to save what would have otherwise been a fairly middling if not dismal game, and allow it to go onto a sequel.
The 2nd Runner picks up a few years after the events of the original and corrects many, if not all, of the first game’s problems. The pilot of Jehuty this time around is a former BAHRAM member-turned-miner named Dingo, whom also happens upon the Frame during a BAHRAM attack. The leader of BAHRAM, a man named Nohman, gives Dingo a chance to rejoin the fold, but Dingo refuses and Nohman responds by attempting to kill him. Dingo now fights against BAHRAM to free Mars and put an end to Nohman’s evil. While the story and voice-acting may be little improved, the rest of the original game’s failings have been completely fixed. The graphics have had a complete overhaul and the game even managed to get a large number of particle effects outputted on the PS2; this was and is probably the best looking PS2 game ever produced. Those god-awful CG cinematics from the first game have been replaced with anime cutscenes, which do look better, but just aren’t my cup of tea. The boring and repetetive environments have been replaced with a wide and varied number of terrains and areas that you visit, from space stations to Martian canyons to underground fortresses to massive space fleets, just to name a few. While the last boss fight in the first game was more than a bit of a let down, this game delivers in spades when it comes to its final boss encounter(s). Last, but certainly not least, while there was absolutely nothing wrong with the combat in the original game, 2nd Runner managed to improve on that as well. The speed and fluidity of the combat are amazing, and it makes the first game look like a snail by comparison.
Both games have benefited greatly from the HD face-lift, and look like they were made during the current console generation; that is, except for a few cut-scenes that could not be re-done due to coding and budgetary issues (which is unfortunately not new to these HD collections). While other reviews online have complained about a slow-down in the games, due to the increased polygon count and new wide-screen display, I was unable to confirm any slow-down as my PS2 and copies of the games were not readily available. However, if there is actual slow-down, it might be the price we pay in order to enjoy these games in a more easily accessible, and beautiful, manner. Additionally, the HD collection also makes these two wonderful games available outside of the PlayStation format for the first time, so I say “oh well” to the unseen slow-down. All in all, the Zone of the Enders HD Collection is a great remix of two wonderfully fun and enjoyable games, and are worth your time if you’re a fan of the series or if you have never even heard of the games before. Trust me, they are worth your time.
Metro: Last Light FPS is Getting a Tie-in Comic
Dark Horse comics will be releasing a digital-only Metro: Last Light comic. The writer is going to be Dmitry Glukhovsky, who wrote the Metro 2033 and Metro 2035 books which inspired the Metro series. From the press release:
Metro: Last Light is a first-person-shooter video game and the highly anticipated sequel to the extraordinary Metro 2033. In the year 2034, a nuclear war has turned the world into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In Moscow, the tunnels of the Metro have become a new home for the former inhabitants of the city. Within the catacombs, they fight for their survival, fending off hordes of hideous mutants born from the toxic atmosphere as well as other factions desperate to take control of what little hospitable land remains. As they fight, they also search for a doomsday device that could be the key to their victory. A civil war is inevitable. During these dark hours, the players will embody Artyom and become the last light for all of mankind.
This tie-in comic is set to be released on May 14 in North America. The announcement of this comic brings to mind several other video game-based comics released recently worth reading. These include the Injustice comics by DC; Borderlands: Origins published by IDW; and my personal favorite, Batman: Arkham Unhinged, the Arkham City tie-in. Hopefully Metro: Last Light is a sign of more video game comics to come. I know that I await them eagerly.
Microsoft Announcing its Next-gen Xbox in May
“On May 21, we’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment,” Microsoft said on its official blog.
Microsoft’s unveiling event will take place in Redmond, Washington, just a month before gaming’s largest annual convention, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), in Los Angeles.
Coming off the heels of Sony’s Playstation 4 announcement in February, it’s exciting to see what new rivalries will arise and witness the beginning of a new era in gaming.