Monthly Archives: May 2009

E3 2009: My Top Five Most Wanted

assassinscreed2Four years after Microsoft jump-started the then-“next generation” of consoles, the video game industry has evolved in ways we just didn’t expect or foresee, from the DS’s and Wii’s explosive market dominance to the Apple iPhone’s game store to Sony’s difficult, third-place entrance.

This year’s E3 2009 will be more than a blip on the industry’s radar screen with what appears to be a handful of new hardware devices (PSP Go!), Microsoft’s and Sony’s Wii-wand counter devices, and highly anticipated games, from The Beatles Rock Band and DJ Hero, to BioShock 2, Borderlands, a possible new Kojima game, a potential Zelda title, and new offerings from more than 100 developers.

What do I want to see? Well, there are more than just five games (sorry, too many good ones to leave off my list), and here they are:

The Beatles Rock Band: In my mind this has the potential for being the most accessible, most sought-after music game ever. Because the Beatles’ music is so ever-green, singable, and diverse, everyone can pick up and play the songs on this game. Let’s hope MTV will publish the solo game separately from the game that comes with the instruments.

DJ Hero: The biggest wild card of the show, Activision’s dive into the music world with a turntable could prove either huge or disappointing. I would like to think it will become a massive success, opening up more musical games for gamers and wanna-be musicians. But I just don’t know how many people will truly jump on this. It’s success might take a few years. This risk reminds me of Activision’s embrace of the extreme sports world with its H2O division–which produced some great games, but ultimately only Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater survived it all.

BioShock 2: Looking forward to it and how 2K Marin can take the concept and continue the energy and creativity of the first’s narrative and gameplay and build on it in a natural way. Even if BioShock 2 is just as good but no better than BioShock 1, that smells like success to me.

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Alpha Protocol: Obsidian Entertainment comprises more than a handful of smart RPG-loving kids from the old Interplay days of RPG supremacy, so this original new RPG should prove to be interesting, story-heavy, and fun at the very least.

Mass Effect 2: More alien lovemaking scenes, oh please? No really. I hardly have the patience for RPGs, so when I’m interested in a game like this, well, I don’t want to say it’s got to be good, but I’m saying something really close.

God of War III: The King Kong of action games is back for bigger, more insane scenarios and boss fights in the time of the Greek gods. There is very little not to like about this original, smartly designed games.

Assassin’s Creed 2: I’m looking forward to this in the same way that I appreciate ballet but have no deep interest in it. Assassin’s Creed was a pain in the ass of a game–however pretty it was–and I’m hoping this one will take the action farther and the make playing it more fun.

Alien Vs. Predator: Even if this game is just exactly what I think it is–aliens, predators and marines killing themselves in decent FPS–I’ll take it. The console world needs a some aliens and predator love, and if it’s even a decent game, I’m sure that it will be better than Turok. Oh, burn!

Bayonetta: The second and third Devil May Cry games were, respectively, terrible, and ridiculously hard, and the concept has grown old. Bayonetta looks like the new kid on the block with a heavy Japanese design (plus a female lead character), and the gameplay looks like it has potential.

The Conduit: Yes, a fun, serious FPS on Wii–with multiplayer!

New Wii Zelda: You might think that I have run out of things to write about,but no, a new Zelda game is always something to get excited about. Always.

Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 shirks the Call of Duty moniker.

Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 shirks the Call of Duty moniker.

Modern Warfare II: Yeah, you played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. You know what Infinity Ward can do. You’ve seen the NBA Finals advertisements. So yeah, it’s a no-brainer, must-have game.

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Wolfenstein 3-D Hits XBLA, PSN

Is it just me or is it not terribly surprising to see Activision announcing the release of the original Wolfenstein 3-D June 3 on XBLA and June 4 on PSN?

Wolfenstein 3-D is the bonafied original first-person shooter. And uh, don’t tell anybody, but it’s not all that good. Doom gets all thte credit but that’s because it was a much better designed game, offered better graphics, and was full of cool secrets, tricks, passages and whatnot. I went gaga over the original Doom’s release on XBLA.

But if you should decide to turn backward to the past and delve into 1993 pixel land, you’ll confront Hans Grosse and Mecha-Hitler through the game’s six episodes and 60 levels.

Releasing the old-school Wolfenstein 3-D now just seems like a smart way to build hype and momentum for the August 4 release of the newfangled Wolfenstein on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.  I guess I can’t argue too hard against that strategy; it seems smart to me!

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Mass Effect 2…Shephard?

GameTrailers nabbed the exclusive Mass Effect 2 trailer–still weird to think this is an “EA” game and not a Microsoft title– and the return of Shephard confuses everyone.

Who is he–and what is he? The space drama continues! We’ll find out more at E3, but the question is this: Since this is a sequel, will there be double the alien sex scenes? Don’t you want to know????!!!

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KOEI Bares its E3 Wares!

Muscling its way into the endless sea of pre-E3 press releases this year is KOEI, which today revealed its full, four-game E3 lineup of Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll, Warriors: Legends of Troy, Monster Racers, and Warriors Orochi 2.

“This will be the first time in KOEI’s history that the company publicly debuts new titles outside of Japan,” according to today’s press release. “For over 30 years and counting, from classic games rich with history to world-renowned action mega-hits, KOEI consistently delivers the best in entertainment,” said Amos Ip, senior vice president of KOEI Corporation. “This year will be no exception. In fact, we’re raising the bar. At E3, KOEI promises an explosive array of action and role-playing games that will keep gamers on the edge of their seats.”

Souls of Zill O’ll is developer Omega Force’s take on the fantasy action realm, while Warriors: Legends of Troy presumably an action strategy game, though KOEI’s press release is strangely cryptic. Check this out, “Three thousand years ago, a poet sang of heroes strong enough to stand alone against an army. For love, they sailed the world. For family, they made the greatest sacrifices. For honor, they stood and faced the will of gods, and fought a war which shook the earth…” Wha????

Monster Racers for the Nintendo DS is a nurturing-racing game combining platform-style action, racing, role-playing, and collecting into an E-rated kid-fest for Nintendo’s DS. Warriors Orochi 2 is the successful cross-over of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors for the PSP and features three new game modes: Dream, VS and Survival, in addition to a VS “Tag Team” mode, which pits fighters in deadly head-to-head combat. There are 96 playable characters, two-player VS modes, and co-op modes.

Oh the ancient repetitive joy of KOEI!

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Battlefield 1943’s Secret Level: Coral Sea

Fly WWII airplanes and use Kamikaze tactics to wipe out enemies.

Fly WWII airplanes and use Kamikaze tactics to wipe out enemies.

Embracing the Web 2.0’s communal aspects with hopes it will translate to consoles, Electronic Arts today revealed that once the collective multiplayer kill total reaches 43 million in Battlefield 1943, a fourth map, Coral Sea, will be unlocked on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game.

The significance of the Coral Sea map, however, isn’t only its value-add; it’s an airplanes-only dogfight map (sweet!). The three already revealed maps, Iwo Jima, Guadacanal, and Wake Island, enable all kinds of vehicle action, including airplanes (and Kamikazi attacks). But Coral Sea should prove to be an interesting and assuredly deep air combat level, giving gamers a new wrinkle on an old theme. Gamers can track their and their friends’ progress at www.battlefield.com/1943.

Battlefield 1943 is EA’s “premium” arcade title, arriving in DLC form on Xbox 360 and PlayStation Network this June for $15 (and later on PC). The $15 consists of single download, three maps (plus a fourth one), and no previous game or disc required, and is a multiplayer-only game.

Personally, this title is looking better and better every time EA makes an announcement; I can’t wait.  I also noted this little thing: I didn’t print it here, but the wording in the press release — “The legendary WWII action this map provides will have players dog fighting in this airplanes-only map, proving once again DICE delivers on a first class online vehicle warfare experience better than anyone else!“–looks like a direct reply to Eidos’ recent BattleStations Pacific, which shipped a week ago.  Come on EA, do you really need to challenge Battlestations Pacific? I know my old friend Jon Miller would need convincing, but I don’t!

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Red Dead Redemption: Three Things

An open world Western by Rockstar? Sold!

An open world Western by Rockstar? Sold! (Image courtesy of GameSpot.)

Oh, impressions of impressions, you’re so bloggy.

Just read GameSpot’s Red Dead Redemption impressions. I played and reviewed the original and liked it well enough (gave it a 7.5 on IGN Xbox and 7.0 on IGN PS2)  The idea of a good Western game is always intriguing to me, as surely it is to a great many people. During the preview, a few things caught my attention: 1) An Open World, 2) Wildlife and random encounters, and 3) The lcoations: The great Plains, the Frontier, and Mexico.

If the vastness of GTA IV’s NY City was exciting to explore, how cool will the Frontier with its packs of hungry coyotes, friendly campfires, and stagecoach hijacks? (Very.) One of the best parts of Neversoft’s GUN was its open world aspects, so with Rockstar’s uncompromising desire to fill its games with little details, these open worlds will be wild, indeed.

The wildlife seems like a little thing, but just like the weird old ladies in GTA III (“I’m going to Aruba!”) stick in your head, so will the vast ecology of wildlife. Should be fun to see the Wild West come to life Rockstar style.

The locations: How often do you get to play a game in Mexico? Obviously, and I’m getting this from the trailer as well, there will be a gang of evil, stereotypical Mexican bandits involved, but thankfully Rockstar evenly distributes its caricatures amongst all folks (white men are often the most evil and dispicable people in their games, so they’re not prejudiced).

Oh and I guess there is one more point that got me intrigued: The trailer itself. One of the greatest aspects of the old West is its morale ambiguity, and just like the moral decisions and scenarios confront you in GTA IV, so assuredly will they in Red Dead Redemption.

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GTA IV: Rockstar Takes DLC to Retail with Ballad of Gay Tony

This will surely prick the ears of gay activists.

This will surely prick the ears of gay activists.

Rockstar Games announced today it will publish DLC for Grand Theft Auto IV, dubbed The Ballad of Gay Tony, and a full-standalone retail disc named Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, this fall for Xbox 360.

Following The first exclusive DLC for Xbox 360, The Lost And the Damned, Rockstar will release this fall the second exclusive chapter which stars Luis Lopez, a part-time thug and full-time assistant to nightclub impresario Tony Prince (Gay Tony). In the world of gay theater and tension-filled scenarios which will test Luis’s loyalties, players will experience the new chapter–“an overdose of guns, glitz, and grime”, according to Rockstar. The Ballad of Gay Tony will hit XBLA exclusively this fall, will cost $19.99 (1600 MS points), and requires players to own GTA IV.

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, the retail disc,  gives gamers who have a silver membership or who lack online capabilities the chance to buy both DLC episodes in one shot. As an added bonus, both games don’t require GTAIV to play. Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City contains The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and Damned, will cost $39.99, and ships this fall.

Seems pretty basic to me.  Like most folks who have Xbox 360, you already have a Gold Membership and play online like a looney Bandicoot screaming for mom’s milk while blasting goons in Halo 3. So, yeah, you’re going to buy The Ballad of Gay Tony and like it, even though it says the word gay in it. Just clear room on your hard drive!

I admit I haven’t even touched The Lost and the Damned even though I have downloaded it. It’s just one more game in the stack (or digital stack) that I want to play but don’t have time to! I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t actually like The Lost and the Damned. Everyone pretty much just oozed all over it.

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