Tag Archives: PC

Aliens Vs. Predator Again

Goodbye head, goodbye spine, goodnight moon (image courtesy of IGN.)

Goodbye head, goodbye spine, goodnight moon (image courtesy of IGN.)

I remember hearing the Colonial Marines’ movement detector in those silent narrow hallways, slowly pulsing at first and then eerily speeding up, mimicking my very own heartbeat as I looked and saw nothing but knew they were coming. It was the first time I felt like a movie and its accompanying game could replicate the same feeling of dread. The aliens were gathering and coming, and you knew it and you couldn’t do a thing except cock your gun and grit your teeth.

Teaming with Sega, Rebellion looks to replicate its earliest success with Aliens Vs. Predator on PC, Ps3, and Xbox 360 in Q1 2010. How does it look? Frankly, you have to work hard not to make your game look good these days, so yeah, it looks sharp. IGN has a hands-on piece illustrating how the Predator plays, and it looks like there will be gore, blood, guts, and more gore with close-up blade insta-kills, invisibility cloak sneak attacks, and head-and-spine trophies.

But how much better will it be than Rebellion’s years of medicore sequels? How much left is new, interesting, and worth your while in the crazily crowded first-person shooter genre? At best, this game reflects the familiar anxiety created by hordes of attacking aliens, the fear of their hunger for death in your mouth. At worst, it attempts such drama, but only reminds us how great that nearly 30-year old franchise was, and how old it still is. I ain’t saying Rebellion can’t pull it off, but they’d better make it really effing smart, fast, and brutal to make it any good. There are simply too many good choices out there to get stuck with a mediocre one.

We’ll find out at E3 2009, won’t we?

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EA’s Illegal Brass Knuckles

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It hurts enough to get punched in the face. But get punched in the face with brass knuckles and you’re in serious trouble. I guess that’s why owning brass knuckles is an issue in the United States and in many countries across the world. It makes a Electronic Arts’ recent promotion all the more interesting.  EA recently has sent brass knuckles to game journalists as part of a promotion with the recent copy of The Godfather 2 (MSRP: $59.99, Xbox, PS3, PC).

In the US, state law determines the legality of brass knuckles. Apparently they’re not illegal to distribute as they are regularly sold at flea markets and online. Or, given to you, by you know, EA. Brass knuckles, however, are illegal in the  in the states of Arkansas, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Illinois, Connecticut, California, and Florida.

So, if you’re a games writer or editor who has been sent Godfather 2 andthose lovely brass knuckles, you have to wonder, did EA just give you the kiss of death, or just a potentially big fat legal issue?

Interestingly enough, when Rockstar was promoting Grand Theft Auto Vice City, it considered sending brass knuckles, but instead sent a Louisville Slugger baseball bat, said Terry Donovan, for COO of Rockstar. Rockstar didn’t want to send brass knuckles because they are illegal to own, and didn’t want to get involved in any legal issues. Is EA trying to hard to get attention with this one?

The  Godfather 2, which has ranged in scores online from GamePro’s 100 to the Official Xbox Magazine’s 75, ships Tuesday, April 7. The promotion consists of a press release, a humidor with cigars, and brass knuckles.

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Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood: Eyes-on Preview

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For 8- and 16-bit console old-timers, Western videogames were common and good enough to keep most people happy. The pornographic Custer’s Revenge might have set some folks on the wrong trail, but the Commando-style GunSmoke was old-school tough (and funny), the arcade shooter Mad Dog McCree was entertaining when drunk, and modern-day attempts such as Red Dead Revolver and Neversoft’s Gun have added enough ballast to the vision and viability of Western games existence, that more are cropping up.

Thanks to Hollywood’s years of Western productions and the world’s collective idealization of the West, everyone has their own take on the era. Which makes Ubisoft’s Call of Juarez series an interesting piece because neither the publisher (French) nor the developer (Polish) are American.

But the proof is in the pudding and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is Ubisoft’s second effort in the series, which means the first pudding was good enough to try a second bowl. Like the first game, Bound in Blood is filled with all of the staples and clichés of Westerns past: untrustworthy Indians, chaos-filled saloons, prostitutes, foul language, violent gun fights, and the amorality and flagrant disrespect for the law that’s attracted us all to the era in the first place. Naturally, it’s rated “M.”

Like all good sequels, developer Techland has assessed the original’s faults and plans to make the second effort better in all respects, something that was difficult to put fully assess in our eyes-on preview. The first game determined level-by-level which characters you played, Billy Candle or Reverend Ray, but in this sequel the beginning of each chapter offers a choice between the two characters, Reverend Ray or his brother Thomas. Ray is a tough-ass preacher and stone-cold killer who wields a six-shooter, wears armor, and kicks in doors. Thomas, his brother, is similar to the first game’s Billy. Thomas is a more agile, platform-oriented long-range shooter who climbs onto rooftops and snipes from afar. The option to pick either character in addition to co-op sections is attractive, giving Bound in Blood potentially solid replay value.

Like the first title, gamers are treated to Concentration mode, which is built up by killing enemies and collecting items. Like Bullet Time, Concentration mode slows down time, giving players an advantage in tough situations. There are four kinds of Concentration modes, one enabling co-op attacks and two others specifically tailored to each character. The fourth kind takes place during showdowns. Just like the first game, showdowns are quick-draw events, but in the sequel players must time their attacks and aim more quickly than their opponents if they want to live (and progress to the next level).

For instance, in the first showdown you’ll confront an angry sheriff (whose daughter you’ve just slept with). The camera is placed right behind your character’s shoulder and you must steadily move it to keep the sheriff in the center of the screen while simultaneously keeping your hands close (but not too close) to your guns. If you have the sheriff in line when the bell rings and press your triggers at the right moment, the gun cursor will ascend up his body and you’ll have the chance to blast him to death. The fastest to their gun usually wins.

Players will experience an attractive Western atmosphere of wide open canyons, small, wooden towns, and the ability to ride horses for mobility and for engaging in gun-fights. The screenshots show a pretty enviroment that offers a good sense of the Wild West. Ubisoft tells me the first game offered more platforming while the sequel is less platform-oriented and more action-based. It’s also a story-driven game that follows the mysterious “call” of Juarez. (Surprise!)

Techland is putting more time and concentration into the game’s multiplayer modes, which were plentiful enough the first time through (with six modes of play), but since it was the team’s first effort, all sorts of little things like missed animations and tiny issues added up to a less than stellar experience.

So…we’ll see on this one. The first Call of Juarez was not radically brilliant and scored a MetaCritic rating of 71 on Xbox 360 (72 on PC), for what that’s worth. But MetaCritic isn’t the be-all, end-all, and there are many, many good fun games that score in the 7s that are often underappreciated by game critics. Hopefully, Techland polishes this one up well and gives it the love and attention it requires.

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Starbreeze’s New Syndicate

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If Gamesindustry.biz is correct, then indie developer Starbreeze will resurrect the Syndicate, the classic real-time tactical game originally created by Peter Molyneux’s Bullfrog team. Only now, the game is under EA’s publishing umbrella, and goes by the temporary codename RedLime.

Starbreeze’s previous games, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and The Darkness, were characterized by their distinct atmosphere and inventive takes on the first-person shooter genre, so there is a good chance this will be a first-person shooter with stealth and tactical additions.

Given the irregular ability of developers and publishers to resurrect old classics, Starbeeze will have its work cut out for it. Like Andy MacNamara, who said in the God of War III issue of Game Informer, that if all developers put as much care and attention into their old franchises as Capcom did with Street Fighter IV, they would have much better success (see the recent Sonic the Hedgehog or Shinobi games as examples of that didn’t quite pan out). Of course MacNamara was also referring to resurrecting old 2D franchises in 2D, which doesn’t necessarily suit a new remake of Syndicate all that well, given its isometric viewpoint.

Syndicate was originally a tactical-action PC game that caught the attention of avid hardcore gamers, but didn’t lend itself to the mainstream audience as well as one might think. For instance, my memory of Syndicate isn’t all that positive, even though I respect others’ opinion of it. I owned it for the Genesis. For whatever reason, we had no instruction manual. Therefore, my experience lasted about two levels and ended in frustration because I had not idea what to do or where to go. Let’s hope Starbreeze can change that.

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Max Payne 3 Developed by Rockstar Vancouver

Rockstar Games today announced Max Payne 3 will hit Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in winter 2009. Besides that this is the first next-gen version of the game, it’s in development by Rockstar Vancouver, not the game previous developer, Remedy. maxpayne3_032309_21

Rockstar’s announcement depicts Payne just as you’d expect: Payne has left the NYPD and New York, and his condition has worsened. “He’s now a retired police detective embroiled in a world of corruption, turmoil and intense violence,” according to Take-Two.

“We’re starting a new chapter of Max’s life with this game,” said Sam Houser, founder of Rockstar Games. “This is Max as we’ve never seen him before, a few years older, more world-weary and cynical than ever. We experience the downward spiral of his life after the events of Max Payne 2 and witness his last chance for salvation.”

There have been dozens of action games since Max Payne first intrroduced bullet time to the videogame repertoire of techniques, from Strangehold to Tony Hawk. How will Max Payne 3 outdo its previous outing, Max Payne: The Fall of Max Payne 2? I’m just going to assume Rockstar Vancouver will completely ignore the movie, make everything shiny and current gen, and perhaps add a little multiplayer.

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