This last weekend has given me a lot to write about. Here is a list of topics/article ideas that I am either currently in process of writing or at the very least mulling around.
- PAX East – General thoughts on the convention and why I will definitely be going back next year
- Review of God of War III (almost finished, just wanna shoot some video before I post)
- My PAX impressions on Crackdown 2 and why I’m not entirely sold (this is in a rough form at present)
- Mulling around some sort of backlog segment giving some coverage to older games that I am just now getting around to such as Red Faction Guerilla
- Trying to come up with more ways of incorporating video into the site (I might be buying a capture card so I can record straight off my game systems)
If you have any ideas on content you would like to see please hit up the comments section and let me know what you would like to see.
One of the games that I was fortunate enough to get some time with at PAX East in Boston this past weekend was Split/Second. Developed by UK based Black Rock Studios, which is itself a division of Disney Interactive. Black Rock previously developed and released the ATV stunt racer Pure in 2008. Split/Second is an upcoming arcade-style racer set for release on May 18th, 2010. I got to play through the single race, single track demo that was on display twice. With the game releasing in just over a month and a half I feel pretty confident in saying that we were being shown close to final code for the game.
Those of you that follow this blog may recall that I also gave some beta impressions for another soon-to-be-released arcade racing game called Blur which is set to release on May 25th. For those that remember the third person character action game throwdown between Prototype and Infamous in 2009, you may already be asking yourself what differentiates Split/Second from other arcade style racers such as Blur, especially considering their close proximity of release. While Blur can easily be boiled down to Mario Kart, but with real cars, Split/Second offers us something different.
If you are at least as old as I am then you should be able to think back and remember the late 90’s with relative ease. Release in North America in 1997, Mario Kart 64 was arguably one of the most fun kart racing games ever released. Playing four player split-screen games with friends was some of the most fun you could have on the console. Skip ahead 13 years. Bizarre Creations, creators of the venerable Project Gotham series of racing games, has taken its mind to creating a power based action racer. March 8th marked the beginning of the semi-public multiplayer beta on Xbox Live. If you remember Mario Kart fondly, then Blur is going to be right up your alley. Continue reading
How far would you go to save someone you loved? This is not a question that is asked in many video games, let alone treated as seriously as it is in Heavy Rain. Created exclusively for the PS3 by French company Quantic Dream, and directed by studio founder and CEO David Cage, Heavy Rain is a hard game to classify. Cage himself coined the term “interactive drama” to describe his creation, and this term is apt. The opening chapter introduces us to Ethan Mars, happily married, and father of two sons, Shaun and Jason. You wake up and go about tasks such as brushing your teeth, working, and preparing for your son’s birthday party later in the day. This may not sound like the most exciting game from the outset, but this introduction teaches players about the intricacies of Heavy Rain’s rather unique control scheme. Most interactions will generate prompts on the screen for the character to follow. Some are simple button presses while others are flicks of the right controller stick. This game also features some of the best use of the Sony Sixaxis controller to date. Your wife arrives home with your sons and you play with them. Focus too much on one boy and he may grow mad at you. All of these little sequences serve to teach you one very important thing, and that it that your actions as the character have tangible consequences.
If you are late to the party when it comes to owning a Playstation 3, please run out to your nearest electronics retailer of choice, buy a PS3, and pickup Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. In an earlier post I had said that Batman: Arkham Asylum would likely be overlooked by a number of AAA titles to be released in Q4 of this year. Uncharted 2 is one of those games. Uncharted, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with it, tells the tale of Nathan Drake, an explorer, thief, and otherwise smartass as he travels the globe in search of rare antiquities. If Indiana Jones-style adventure is something you enjoy then you will likely find the story of Uncharted right up your alley. In this game our hero finds himself searching for Marco Polo’s lost fleet and eventually on the trail of the lost city of Shangri-La. The story serves up all of the intrigue, action, suspense, and twists that you would expect from a summer blockbuster film, and in many ways that is what this game is in every sense of the word. There are set pieces in this game that don’t even seem like they should be possible outside of a non-interactive cinematic, but you get to play them out yourself. One such standout is a battle that takes place on a speeding train where you are constantly being pressed by a helicopter gunship that is destroying the train as you run across it. There were several other moments over the course of the game where my jaw literally was hanging open out of sheer amazement and I will not spoil those for you here as some of them need to be experienced firsthand. Continue reading
Having gotten home rather late this evening, I did not get to spend as much time with the freshly released Beatles: Rock Band as I would have liked, but I wanted to post some initial thoughts. As a start, if you already like Rock Band and you like the Beatles, then this game is a no brainer purchase. What makes this game more than being a glorified 45 song track pack? It is clear that Harmonix has taken extreme care in the design of the game’s “Story.” Covering the full gamut of the Beatles 10 year career the game starts in famous Cavern Club in Britain and ends on the unforgettable rooftop concert at Apple Studios. The surviving members of the Beatles served as consultants during the game’s development and it really shows that this game was a true labor of love for those involved. Each chapter of the story covers a different time in the Beatles’ illustrious career and the songs chosen are well representative of each venue. I have played the first three, all of which are live performance venues, and the video vignettes preceding each chapter nicely showcase how Beatlemania is growing. There is one key addition to the standard Rock Band gameplay formula, and that is the addition harmony to the vocal tracks. On select songs, two or even three part harmonies can be sung by a full band, enabling an even closer representation of what being with the Beatles would have been like. The tracks included in the game have all been digitally remastered and sound excellent when blasting out your stereo speakers. One might think that the guitar tracks would be reletively simple given the era in which many of these songs were written, but that is far from the case. Even in the initial chapter playing guitar on expert reveals charts that are sufficiently challenging for even the most savvy Rock Band player. With even the limited time I have had with the game thus far I can safely say that this game is a must buy for any music game fan. If you are looking for a game that both kids and adults can enjoy then this game is an easy recommendation. I will post some additional thoughts on Beatles: Rock Band as I spend more time with it. Down the road the entire Abbey Road album will be available as DLC. I am playing on Playstation 3 and have all of the instruments necessary for full band play which is another area I really would like to write on after I get some friends over to my apartment. Let me know your thoughts on the game and I hope you are enjoying your time with it as much as I have thus far.
The end of summer is not typically where gamers find AAA titles being released, but this year we have a somewhat of a rarity in the form of Batman Arkham Asylum. UK-based developer Rocksteady has delivered a truly outstanding game easily worthy of Game of the Year consideration. The game opens with Batman bringing the Joker back to his padded cell on at Arkham, and within minutes of the Joker’s arrival he is on the loose and the phrase “the inmates are running the asylum” comes to pass in short order. Those familiar with the fiction it is based on will be happy to know that the best villains in Batman’s rogue’s gallery are here to menace the Caped Crusader as well. Some of these appearances are more memorable than others for certain, but overall each villain is used effectively and makes sense in the overall plot. Perhaps most importantly, those familiar with Batman The Animated Series will be happy to know that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil reprise their roles as Batman and the Joker in the game. Hamil’s performance makes playing the game a pure joy, whether its listening to the Joker berate his henchman over the asylum PA, or taunting Batman directly, the Joker is perfectly played. Continue reading