Tag Archives: Xbox 360

Activision shows off True Crime footage

Re-entering the highly competitive “sandbox” crime genre made famous by Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series, Activision today showed live gameplay footage of its reboot entrée, True Crime, at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Many thought the series dead after a disappointing critical and fiscal second effort in 2006 with the second in the series, True Crime: New York. But Activision tapped United Front Games (maker of ModRacers). With former employees from Radical Games, EA’s Need for Speed franchise, and Rockstar Games, UFG has been in development with its own unique software tools to generate the third-person perspective, Hong Kong-based game.

See the rest of the story at VentureBeat.com.

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Alan Wake Hands-on Impressions

For the last five years, the small Finnish game studio Remedy has weathered a stormy economy, kept its studio small against the trendy tide of high production costs, and has somehow kept Microsoft at bay from canning its project after a half decade of tinkering. Come May 18, Alan Wake will finally have its day in the sun. Unlike so many games that lose their steam and tech edge after a five-year development cycle (witness Peter Molyneux’s first Fable and Dave Perry’s Wild 9), Remedy’s Alan Wake just seems to keep getting better.

For the full preview, see the piece I wrote on GamesRadar.com.

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Fable 3: Why Peter Molyneux Gives Great Demos

During the last demo of Fable 3 at Microsoft’s XO10 conference in San Francisco, Lionhead chief Peter Molyneux asked us if he could sit, as he explained, he had been working 10-12 hour days. Eventually has asked if he could get onto his knees to illuminate actions on the HDTV. Since my associate and I were the only guys in the last session of the day, we agreed. Molyneux, whose repertoire of games reaches back to the 8-bit and 16-bit days and includes hits such as Syndicate, Black and White, and Dungeon Keeper, is known for both charming audiences during his infamous demo sessions and overpromising on games that often only deliver a portion of those promises.

In our demo, Molyneux demonstrated exactly why he is so captivating as a speaker and as a game designer. He speaks personally to as many journalists as possible, to such a degree that his “handlers” have to end the sessions for him. He expresses a child-like joy for the games he makes, which you can hear in his voice and see on his face. And few of his games are proper, predictable sequels. They’re always packed with new ideas and attempts at doing something different. As the chief of Lionhead, he said, he loves his job, asking in what other position could he employ such off-the-wall ideas, or make such drastic changes, or have so much fun at his job?

Of course, the opposite can be said, and with conviction. Molyneux’s games often only contain a portion of the ideas he hypes, leaving lots of gamers frustrated and angry at him, and leaving a game that clearly looks like it has been cleaved (like Fable 1, for instance). 

Fable 3 stands to build upon the previous Fables in the series, with more character customization and innovative options in three ways, says Molyneux: 1) by rewriting the rules of traditional story-telling in games, 2) by enabling an Ico-like hand-holding mechanic called “touch,” 3) and by enabling players to customize their weapon (as an outgrowth of customizing their characters).

THE HERO MYTH REWRITTEN

“Video games are always told by means of the hero’s journey,” said Molyneux, referring to the common concept of heroes from writer Joseph Campbell’s book, Hero of a Thousand Faces. “A big baddy does something really bad, you’re the hero, and you work all game long to beat him. Then, the worst thing happens. The credits roll. When you beat him, the story ends. In our game, after you beat the leader of the town of Logan halfway through the game,  you become the king.”

Molyneux’s premise is that gamers always play the same story model, and by putting gamers in the shoes of the king, they’ll gain an enormous amount of power and then have to make decisions that will make some followers happy, but will eventually let other people down, giving players choices over how they’ll reign.

LET’S “TOUCH”

“Let’s face it, when it comes to expressions in Fable 1 and 2, it really came down to one funny ‘expression.’ Farting.” In Fable 3, Lionhead is borrowing the hand-holding mechanic first introduced in ICO to connect gamers with characters in the story.

Molyneux demonstrated the idea with a family of three, a father, mother, and a young, lost daughter.  In order to find the daughter, the character relies on his pet dog to track her scent. Once located the father lifts the girl into his arms and they hug. Players can then punish or reward the daughter for running away.Your character then tries to lead her into the pub, where she responds by saying, “Daddy, that’s the pub. Mother said she never wanted you to go there again.”

They then walk back home hand-in-hand. “When we have couples who play game in co-op walk in hand in hand, everyone single one of them is moved,” said Molyneux. “It’s amazing how simple and effective it is.”

Molyneux also showed how “touch” negatively affects characters.  By putting his character’s hand on the shoulder of a beggar and misguiding him into believing he’ll be fed, the father leads the beggar to a labor shop. Once the beggar realizes he’s going to the labor plant, he pulls and tugs and tries to break free from your grip. But no such luck. By physically connecting players with characters in the game, they’ll feel more attached and emotionally connected to the game, added Molyneux.

WEAPONRY: SAM’S AXE OF DEATH

Finally, Molyneux explained how the weapons have been changed and improved over Fable 2. “We were in a design meeting talking about weapons,” explained Molyneux. We had created about 300 weapons already (Molyneux signs with boredom at the thought of so many weapons) when we suddenly realized that we should allow you to create your own weapon.”

In the demo Molyneux shows a striped face warrior holding an unusually shaped axe. “It’s tall because of the 1,000 kills you’ve tallied. It’s spiked because of your Xbox 360 gamer skills. And it’s named ‘Sam’s axe of death,'” said Molyneux. The best part? You can trade or sell your weapon online, or buy another player’s weapon.

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Splinter Cell Conviction Preview

Amidst several consulting jobs, I was happily able to visit Microsoft’s XO10 conference, where I got a hands-on session with two of the Splinter Cell Conviction’s first levels.  For impressions, check my preview at GamesRadar.com.

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New Red Dead Redemption Video: The Law

Well, this isn’t exactly mind blowing, but Rockstar released a new Red Dead Redemption video called “The Law.” Since I’m still betting on the notion that this will be a GTA in the Wild West (the idea that Rockstar has floated to the press), I’m still amped about its April 27 arrival.

But it could be a less than profitable bet. This this was far less impressive video than I was expecting. The video played really slowly on my computer, and I’m hoping that was my computer and not the actual game or framerate of the game. Otherwise, dear lord are we in trouble.

Also, a couple of non-deliberate instances made me laugh. Marshall Leigh Johnson says, “The man who kills the boss of that bunch gets $50!”

The boss of that bunch? What, is he like a Japanese video game character? And…$50???!!! That’s like one lunch in San Francisco. Not so compelling. I’d rather join the bad guys.

Agent Edgar Ross seems like a creep bad guy, but when you hear the line, “We’re the bad guys…” you kinda have to wonder, have they hired a new, young script-writer who secretly loved Young Guns? The language in this trailer just wasn’t all that impressive for a Rockstar game, and now I’m feeling a little less of the super hype and more of a grounded feeling.

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Monster Hunter Tri, Lost Planet 2, Final Fight: Double Impact, and Super Street Fighter IV get release dates

Capcom today released the dates of its spring line-up, featuring Monster Hunter Tri, Lost Planet 2, Final Fight: Double Impact, and Super Street Fighter IV for North America and Europe.

Capcom hopes to replicate the popularity that Monster Hunter Tri had in Japan in the West on Nintendo’s Wii this April. Lost Planet 2 will arrive on PS3 and Xbox 360 in Europe and North America May 18, 2010. Final Fight: Double Impact will hit the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE as DLC sometime this spring, while Super Street Fighter IV will hit the consoles as a full retail game April 27, 2010.

Capcom is likely to announce new titles for later this year and 2011 at E3 this summer.

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Mass Effect 2 review scores

Having traveled to Bioware’s offices in Edmonton, Canada, last December, to write a cover story on Mass Effect 2 for Play Magazine, I was really impressed with the near final title. I am now giddy to see the early scores coming in so high.

My associate at IGN, Eric Brudvig, penned this review, scoring the game a 9.6, and hailing the sequel as fulfilling the promises of the first one, while pushing the standard concept of videogames forward. Check out Eric’s review here. “From the very first scene, you will be hooked. And the farther you dive into this epic action role-playing game, the better it gets,” he says. The Official Xbox Magazine gave Mass Effect2 a 9.5 out of 10 and IGN Australia handed out a 9.3 out of 10.

When I visited Bioware’s offices in December 2009, I was blown away by the drastic improvements made in the shooting aspects of the game, the smoother, smarter presentation, and the overall level polish of the controls. In the three levels I played I faced up against a nasty mech boss, explored the new vessel, the SSV Normandy SR-2, and unkocked the secret of the new Krogan.

If you have watched any TV for the last week, you’ll have seen several new commercials for Mass Effect 2. The latest one is the biggest and best, airing during the NFC championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints. Created using “hype” quotes from magazines such as Edge, Game Informer, etc., and using clever cuts aimed at Shepard’s ability to recruit rough, fringe characters to join his suicide mission into the darkest part of the universe, the commercial makes Mass Effect 2 look like a real kick-ass game. Time Magazine, not known for having any real idea of what the difference is between Super Mario 64 and Ford Racing, came in with this interesting quote. “It’s the Avatar of video games – except it’s better written.”

Thankfully, the commercials aren’t false representations and neither is IGN’s review. Mass Effect 2, exclusive to the Xbox 360 and PC for now, is going to be one of the best games of 2010.

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