We’ve mentioned on the show how excited we are that two of our favorite games, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, are getting rereleased in gorgeous HD (and with a stable framerate!) on the PlayStation 3. We’re equally excited to give one lucky listener the chance to experience these games themselves by giving away a copy of this brand new collection, which is finally out this week!
There are two ways to enter to win. The first is easy: Just follow us on Twitter and retweet this message:
RT and follow @vghangover for a chance to win the Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection for PS3! http://j.mp/qxaijM #vghangover
By doing this, you’ll receive one entry into the contest. Tune into this Thursday’s episode, VGH #24, to find out another way to enter and increase your chances of winning!
The contest will run until Monday, October 3rd at 3 PM Eastern, and we’ll randomly choose a winner around 5 PM. Make sure you’re following us and include the #vghangover tag in your tweet so we can find your contest entry!
One final note: this contest is only open to those with a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada.
Between fruitlessly trying to teach myself how to play Street Fighter III and following the Soulcalibur V and Street Fighter X Tekken news coming out of TGS, I’ve had fighting games on the brain lately. And, somewhat inspired by Capcom’s surprise announcement that they’ll be releasing past Street Fighter soundtracks to use in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online, I thought it would be a good time to serve up a selection of my favorite fighting game themes. Following Paul’s lead from our last installment, let’s kick it off with one of the great classics:
At the height of their popularity in the 90s, fighting game characters would each have their own unique stage, and along with it, their own theme song that represented their background and personality. If you’re an arcade veteran, hearing any of those themes is sure to drum up powerful emotions on both ends of the spectrum—whether it’s because you spent hours perfecting moves with your first “main,” or because you had to hear the song endlessly since it belonged to that one rival that always shut you down. No matter which way you think of him, Street Fighter’s Ryu has one of the most memorable themes of any fighter, from the adrenaline-pumping bassline to the synth melody that’s always sounded strangely wistful to me—perfect for Ryu’s melodramatic, neverending search for new battles.
All the arcades I’ve been to seemed to only have either Street Fighter III: New Generation or 3rd Strike, so I’ve never actually played 2nd Impact, the middle game in the trilogy. But, that hasn’t stopped me from logging some serious hours with the soundtrack, which originally got my attention because it was so weird—a blend of jazz, drum and bass, and even some Brazilian samba. It’s definitely not your typical fighting game music. This track comes from Sean’s stage in Brazil, and a variation of it plays during the bonus stage when he helps you practice parrying.
The King of Fighters '96 – Arashi no Saxophone #2 (Iori Yagami Team)
SNK was dropping jazz influence into its King of Fighters soundtracks long before Street Fighter III got the idea. This is probably the most memorable song to me out of the series’s nearly 20-year run. It’s Iori’s theme, and I always like to imagine it’s actually him playing the saxophone. It seems like kind of an antiheroic thing to do on his days off.
This one’s just silly, but I still love it. The third entry in the Darkstalkers/Vampire series went full-on dance/electronica for most of its soundtrack, so it’s just natural that Hsien-ko, the Chinese ghost, would have this Asianized dance track playing in her idyllic garden stage.
It’s always fun to hear a different take on a favorite song—it might be a cover that casts it in a completely different light, or it could just do enough things differently to give you new appreciation of the original. In this case, Keiki Kobayashi took one of Soulcalibur III‘s songs—a solid track, although admittedly not one of my favorites at the time—and reworked it for the sequel. The result comes off as more majestic and less frantic, with a deliberate, dramatic opening that gives way to an anthemic rendition of the original. It’s an excellent accompaniment to the stage itself, which has you dueling on a raft traveling down a castle’s moonlit moat.
And speaking of alternate versions, I’ll wrap up with one of the best. This is Balrog’s (M. Bison in Japan) stage, remixed by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro for this album made to celebrate Street Fighter’s 15 anniversary. To me, Yuzo Koshiro is synonymous with ActRaiser‘s orchestral soundtrack, so it always puts a huge grin on my face knowing that he’s capable of something like this.
What’s your song of choice to have playing as you land that sneaky surprise attack at the start of the round? Let us know in the comments!
In the mood to play something besides the shooter-of-the-week? Universe Sandbox, the offbeat game-slash-astronomer’s-playground is just what you need. Listen to our impressions in Episode 22 and then hurry back because we’re giving away a copy of the complete version on Steam!
RT and follow @vghangover for a chance to win Universe Sandbox on Steam! http://j.mp/oRjtUA #vghangover
The contest will run until Monday, September 19th at 3 PM Eastern, and we’ll randomly choose a winner around 5 PM. Make sure you’re following us and include the #vghangover tag in your tweet so we can find your contest entry!
Many thanks to creator Dan Dixon for sharing the game with us and making this possible!
Believe it or not, this is the slowest week in September for new releases. What are we looking forward to amongst this agonizingly bleak crop of games?
Despite the painfully generic name, my most anticipated game of the week is Renegade Ops (PSN, XBLA). This is a top-down, vehicular combat game by Avalanche, the studio who brought us last year’s amazing Just Cause 2. (#2 in my top games of last year!) If you’ve played Just Cause 2, you know what to expect: crazy stunts, perilous chases, and explosions everywhere. Rico and his magic grappling hook are sitting this one out, but in exchange, there’s online co-op for up to four people. Since co-op was something each of us at VGH would have loved to see in Just Cause 2, I’m eager to see how well Avalanche pulls it off.
Next is Hard Reset, which has created some early buzz, not for being a first-person shooter, but for being PC-exclusive and single-player only. Developer Flying Wild Hog promises Hard Reset will be more of a throwback to classic PC shooters like Doom, which tried less to capture the action of Hollywood blockbusters a laCall of Duty and instead featured larger, more intricate levels that encouraged more exploration. Also giving me a huge nostalgia rush back to my days of playing Doom, Heretic and Dark Forces: the crazy weapons on display. Did someone say “arc welder“?
Also out this week:
Bit.Trip Saga – Finally, a collection of all six of Gaijin Games’ quirky Bit.Trip games, now for the 3DS! This is actually one of the first 3DS games I’ve really been interested in, although I’m still holding out for Super Mario 3D Land. If you haven’t got a 3DS, you can pick up the Wii version of the collection, Bit.Trip Complete. Watch the game in action here.
White Knight Chronicles II – I really, really wanted to like the first WKC, but its battle system and generally slow pacing just didn’t agree with me. Developer Level-5 says they’ve tweaked the battles in the sequel with new mechanics and a larger party. Should I take another look or just continue playing Monster Hunter?
The Gunstringer – An undead, old West shooter (Come on, another one?) where your you control your zombified outlaw by tugging on his marionette strings. You have to give credit to developer Twisted Pixel for taking one of the complaints about Kinect (the somewhat laggy and floaty motion control) and spinning it into a feature. (And it comes with free Fruit Ninja Kinect!)
God of War: Origins – If you missed out on Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta because you don’t have a PSP, now you can play them on the big screen thanks to this PS3 HD collection.
From Dust – Eric Chahi’s world-building/destroying game has completed its tour on XBLA and is now headed straight to PSN! It’s also been out on the PC for a few weeks, if you prefer.
Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness – Capcom rereleases one of its classic 2D figters as a PSOne Classic this week. Watch robots fight it out in the game that introduced characters like Jin Saotome and Devilot, who went on to future fame in games like Marvel VS Capcom and Puzzle Fighter. BLODIA!
Are you grabbing anything this week, or are you still holding out for when all the big guns open fire next month? Speaking of big guns, will I see you online in Renegade Ops?? (On PS3, of course.) Let us know in the comments!
It may still be unseasonally warm out, but you only need one glance at this month’s release lineup to see that Fall is officially here. As we talked about in Episode 18, the next few months are packed with tons of new games and we’re scrambling to even talk about all of them, let alone play them! With that in mind, here’s the first of several Lightning Round editions of Play More Games where I’ll spotlight a game or two we think are significant and then do a quick run through of the rest so you can hurry up and get back to your couch.
This week’s featured game, astonishingly enough, is not just download-only, it’s also a BloodRayne title. Yes, you read that right. BloodRayne: Betrayal is a dramatic departure for the vampire actioner whose two previous-generation outings were met with general apathy. (And let’s not mention the Uwe Boll film.) Abandoning its 3D roots, Betrayal is a 2D action platformer in the style of Castlevania or Strider. As the half-human, half-vampire Rayne, you unleash all kinds of bloody violence upon your enemies in a combat system that I was surprised to discover requires more attention and technique than I was expecting. It all made sense when I saw the game was developed by WayForward, creators of the excellent–albeit somewhat sadistic–Contra 4. While BloodRayne is much more forgiving (especially with its blood-sucking mechanic), don’t expect to just waltz through it Bela Lugosi-style. It’s also got some stylish, 2D sprite graphics and a soundtrack that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Castlevania game. If you’re still not intrigued, check out the demo on PSN or Xbox Live Arcade, or watch the trailer that originally shocked us that we were suddenly looking forward to a BloodRayne game.
Dead Island – The buzz around this open world, zombie survival game seems to have been steadily declining as people discovered the actual game doesn’t quite live up to the poignancy of its much-discussed debut trailer. Also, early reports are saying that–in addition to all the zombies–the game’s tropical island setting is infested with glitches and questionable game mechanics.
Starfox 64 3D – Following the success of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Nintendo’s counting on another N64 revival with this 3D space dogfighter. Admittedly, I never played much of the N64 original so I’m looking forward to spending time with this, although the lack of online multiplayer means I’m not exactly rushing out to get it.
The Impossible Game – The silly iOS/Android diversion comes to your PSP this week! It’s actually a lot of fun if you’re into games that are equal parts twitchy reflexes, level memorization, and constant dying. No, really. I enjoyed it.
Uncharted 1 & 2 Dual Pack – Still haven’t played either of the Uncharted games? Better pick up this compilation before Randy shows up at your door to have a word with you. There’s still plenty of time to get caught up with Nathan Drake before Uncharted 3 hits in November!
And that’s it for week one of the Fall onslaught! Are you picking up any of these (or maybe a game we didn’t even cover?) or are you saving up for the next few months? Let us know in the comments!
There’s only one notable release this week, but oh, is it a big one: Halfbrick‘s runaway mobile success, Fruit Ninja, is finally out for Xbox 360 and Kinect. No longer confined to your phone or tablet’s tiny screen, Fruit Ninja is now super-sized and ready for your living room.
It sounds like a pretty straightforward port of the mobile game, which is interesting since most of the original gameplay modes last about a minute or two on average. I don’t think my longest Fruit Ninja session could have lasted more than 10–and that was at the height of my addiction, and on a platform that didn’t require me to flail my arms around wildly.
I did get to try the multiplayer mode for the first time recently, and it was a surprisingly tense affair. After hearing that Fruit Ninja Kinect supports two players on the same screen, my reactions were, in order: That is awesome, and almost immediately after, Just how many injuries per minute can you expect when you have two people standing side-by-side and swiping their arms at anything that moves? I might pick this up just to watch people play it… from a safe distance, of course.
That’s if I had a Kinect, obviously. I have to admit that this is among the accessory’s most compelling offerings, alongside Child of Eden, but I’m still waiting to truly be convinced.
Have you got a Kinect and are taking the 800 Microsoft point plunge this week to chop some virtual fruit? Let us know in the comments!
I hope you’ve cleared your schedule: Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade kicks off this week, and, as if in response, there’s plenty of new games out on the PlayStation Network as well. And this is just week one! Get ready for the palest, most shut-in summer ever!
Leading the Summer of Arcade charge is Supergiant Games’ Bastion, a 2D action game that’s fully narrated by what sounds like Morgan Freeman’s stand-in. The narration is definitely the most discussed aspect of the game, and I’m curious to see what it adds to the final experience.
Randy and I have talked about how much we enjoyed Limbo last year, and now PlayStation owners can finally try out this monochromatic and very macabre puzzle-platformer. If you enjoyed Braid and don’t mind the occasional enormous spider or surprise spike trap, then Limbo is highly worth a look.
SNK reminds everyone that it hasn’t forgotten about its Neo Geo Station initiative by adding a couple more games to the lineup. This week, it’s Baseball Stars 2 and The King of Fighters ’95, in both PS3 and PSP flavors. I have to confess I don’t know much about Baseball Stars, but KOF95 was a landmark entry for the long-running series as it allowed players to create their own, custom teams for the first time. It also marked the debut of Iori Yagami, a now-iconic character who’s almost synonymous with the KOF name. While it’s a little frustrating that SNK seems to be taking their time rereleasing their huge back catalog of games (even more painful when they sport a yearly label), if you’re in need of a 2D fighting fix or missed the whole KOF phenomenon, ’95 isn’t a bad place to start.
Dead Block kind of snuck up out of nowhere, but after watching the trailer they’ve put together I can say it’s definitely unique. Yes, it’s yet another zombie game, but this time you’re holed up in a building and have to setup doorway traps for the slow-moving zombies as they shamble from room to room. It’s sort of like tower defense, but not quite. Developer Candygun–which is an incredible name, by the way–has packed their strange sense of humor into every corner of the game, as when you’re not planting cardboard box masks on zombies’ heads, you’re killing them with the power of classic rock and roll. This is a strange one, for sure.
Finally, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions comes to PSN today. A cleaned-up version of one of my absolute favorite games, FFT has been out on UMD for some time, but now PSP Go owners (or just PSP owners who like to go the digital route) can grab a copy without leaving their couch. It’s got the same classic, tactical RPG gameplay that made the 1997 original so addictive, plus a brilliant reworking of Yasumi Matsuno’s twisting storyline about clashing armies and the lengths to which people go for power. If you have a PSP and haven’t played this update (or the original), please, please, please check it out.
Is that enough games to keep you inside this week? Let us know what you’ll be playing in the comments!
As you may have learned from Episode #13: The Nuclear Option, the arcade scene in the Bay Area is fighting hard to come back. Last week, I checked out Gamecenter in San Mateo, a brand new (opened last month!) arcade in downtown San Mateo. The owner, Myung Kim, is a former game developer who was inspired by the thriving Japanese arcade scene and hopes to bring some of that enthusiasm and sense of community to America.
So far, I’d say he’s doing a great job: When I dropped in, I found a huge, cheering crowd huddled around a row of fighting games, while the other end of the arcade was packed due to a Super Smash Bros. tournament in progress. There was even a guy attempting to teach his female friend the intricacies of giant robot-on-robot combat, for better or for worse. (Think what you will–you’ve got to give him points for enthusiasm.) All this was happening on a Sunday afternoon, which is hardly peak hours. I can’t wait to see it on a Thursday or Friday evening, which is when I’m told the biggest crowds show up.
If you’re in the San Mateo area, stop by Gamecenter and show your support! You might even learn a thing or two. They’re open Wednesday through Monday, from 3PM to midnight. For location and more info, visit their website and watch their Facebook page for up to the minute news on special events–like Super Street Fighter IV and Marvel VS Capcom 3 weeklies starting this weekend! You can also follow them on Twitter at @GCArcade.
Check out the gallery below for some photos! (Click to enlarge.)
Since they’re a bit nestled into an alley, they’ve put up a helpful sign right on the street to help you find the place. Also, thai food.
I was greeted by Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (posing as Tekken 6) and four linked cabinets of Japanese sensation Gundam VS Gundam NEXT. It’s not well-known in the States, but I hear the competition at Gamecenter can get downright fierce.
Six back-to-back, custom PS3 cabinets running Super Street Fighter IV AE, Marvel VS Capcom 3, Tekken 6, BlazBlue Continuum Shift II, and Arcana Heart 3. You need to buy a $7 wristband to play these, but that means unlimited play time until they close. I’ll say it again: unlimited play.
Fighting games not so much your thing? There’s a row of other games to hold your attention, and they’re no slouches: Next to the requisite Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (admittedly, a fighting game), there’s the criminally underrated Virtua Cop 3. Not pictured: Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom, Espgaluda II, Magical Drop III, and a cocktail cabinet playing classic games like Centipede.
Oh, and Ikaruga. My old nemesis, we meet again.
There’s an array of TVs at one side of the arcade where you can hook up consoles to play on. They’ll even rent you a Japanese Xbox 360 so you can try out some of the imports they have on hand.
(I won’t say anything here so you can just drool over this exceptional Neo Geo library.)
Various pieces of gaming memorabilia.
Gamers preparing for the Smash tournament. You can tell these guys were serious because they were all playing Melee and their characters looked like they were constantly having seizures.
It’s a pretty light week for new releases, but at least one of these is guaranteed to keep you glued to your controller so badly, you might gnaw off your own thumbs to escape.
That game, of course, is the sequel to Twisted Pixel’s ‘Splosion Man: Ms. ‘Splosion Man, naturally. The basic gameplay premise is the same: press A to explode–excuse me, ‘splode–yourself into the air, off walls, and through pesky scientists as you navigate a slew of platform-based puzzles. Early reports describe this as being a more refined game (Does that even makes sense when your sole action is to detonate yourself?) with better boss battles, an overworld map, and the much-hyped “2 Girls, 1 Controller” mode, where each analog stick controls a separate Ms. ‘Splosion Man. Commence the thumb gnawing.
Ms. ‘Splosion Man is out this Wednesday, exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade, for 800 Microsoft Points. Or, if you refuse to own an Xbox because of your Apple fanaticism, you can look forward to the inevitable iPhone knockoff sometime next year.
This week’s other big release is the meticulously timed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), releasing for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC, N64, Colecovision, Fisher Price See and Say, etc. A reliable source told me that our own Paul Sandhu is already camped out in line for it, even though someone already spoiled the ending for him. Even if you’re not a die-hard Potter fan, if you own a PS3, you might want to pick up a copy anyway since it supports the PlayStation Move and you can pretend that you’re playing that Sorcery game that they showed off at E3 2010. Remember when they were making that game?
Anyway. Motion-controlled wizardry or endless explosions. Take your pick.
I did my share of defending America’s (and Earth’s!) independence from giant insect overlords this weekend, but it turns out that was only the first wave. This week’s new releases challenges you to fight against a new group of threats, whether they be human, alien, or… simian?
The evil Ravager aliens return in D3′s Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon. The sequel to the 360-exclusive Earth Defense Force 2017, Insect Armageddon finally brings the thrill of shooting swarms of 20-foot-tall ants to the PlayStation 3. That’s pretty much all there is to it: Expect to mow down wave after wave of giant ants, spiders, and robots (obviously) with an ever-increasing arsenal of weapons. It sounds shallow, but the original game was addictive and more fun than it had the right to be, possibly due to it feeling like being right in the middle of an awful SyFy channel movie, right down to the unintentionally hilarious dialogue. Insect Armageddon also adds much-needed online co-op for up to three players, so you won’t have to confront your arachnophobia alone.
If you’re looking for something a little more family-friendly, you might want to take a look at the new Ape Escape game for the PlayStation Move, suitably titled PlayStation Move Ape Escape. This PSN game comes with a handful of levels and a selection of motion-controlled tools to help you round up those pesky, belightbulbed monkeys that have been running rampant since the 1960s. The gameplay is simple and straightforward, but it’s actually kind of fun and it looks great. Also, I think those cartoon monkeys are kind of hilarious. There’s a demo in the PlayStation Store if you want to test your ape-catching skills first.
Lastly, in case you missed our Twitter giveaway last week, the Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception multiplayer beta is now available to all PlayStation 3 owners. It’s basically the same multiplayer formula that Naughty Dog put together for Uncharted 2, but they’ve added a cool buddy system and some new abilities that add a few more layers of depth to the gameplay, which was already pretty brilliant to begin with. Once you’ve downloaded it, be sure to check back regularly since they’re rotating through different maps and game modes for the duration of the beta.
Have you already had a chance to try the Uncharted beta? Let us know what you think in the comments!
If you’ve listened to Episode #11: Cartoon Animal Abuse, you’ll remember I talked about Southtown Arcade in San Francisco. Here are a few photos I took in case you were wondering what it looks like when you start up a brand new arcade! (Click for larger versions.)
The entrance is unassuming. From across the street, you’d have no idea it’s filled with a horde of people beating the crap out of each other. (Virtually, of course.)
The inside. It’s a small space, but they’ve packed it wall-to-wall with Japanese-style arcade cabinets. (There’s another row of cabinets along the opposite wall which you can’t see.) Spectators observe players’ fighting skills while eagerly awaiting their turn. Get your quarter up!
Two fighters go at it in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Since MvC3 doesn’t have an official arcade version, this is actually a custom cabinet running the PlayStation 3 version. (Don’t worry, it’s got a traditional stick and buttons instead of a couple DualShocks.)
The hand-drawn sprites of The King of Fighters XIII look incredible on this screen. This player opted to test out his moves with a few sessions of training mode.
The Southtown guys prove they’re running a classy joint with this gorgeous poster of Shinkiro’s art from SVC Chaos. (Then they prove they’re true fighting game purists by not featuring an actual SVC Chaos machine.) A few more posters of fighting game art adorn the walls.
If you’re in or around San Francisco and you have even the slightest interest in arcade games, definitely check out Southtown Arcade! It’s easy to get advice from some of the players there if you’re a beginner, and if you’re not fighting-game-inclined, there are some other standbys like Metal Slug, Windjammers (a personal favorite), and the super-hardcore Tetris: The Grand Master 3: Terror Instinct. (Yes, that’s the real name.) They’ve also recently added Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion, so you can get your Phoenix Smasher on.
It seems like the dry spell may be coming to an end for 3DS owners. We recently saw the opening of the 3DS eShop and its surprisingly tasteful selection of classic Gameboy games, and this week, the handheld is getting its first, definite must-have title in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Nintendo’s given Link’s classic N64 adventure some much-needed, modern visuals and what’s being called the best use of 3D yet. There’s also a convenient touchscreen menu interface (sure to come in handy for any submerged temples you come across) and a second quest that should give veterans something to do even if they’ve already memorized the original game. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve played Zelda 64, so I am officially interested. That’s +1 game I’d like to play on the 3DS.
Shadows of the Damned is decidedly different. It’s a third-person action game and a collaboration between Resident Evil‘s Shinji Mikami and the always-eyebrow-raising Suda 51. You can definitely see both developers’ influence as the game plays a bit like a new-school Resident Evil with a completely insane sense of humor, although both the action and characters feel pretty stale. For instance, the main character is yet another rugged, Hispanic man who constantly scowls and calls the bad guys cabrones. Is there a single person left who thinks this archetype is novel, let alone amusing? I have to give them credit for the neon-lit, Día de los Muertos-esque take on Hell, but I’ll probably pass on the game. I am totally itching to hear the soundtrack, though, which was provided by Silent Hill‘s Akira Yamaoka.
Finally, F.3.A.R. is out this week. I think I’ve mistakenly included it in a couple past Play More Games, only to find that it suffered yet another last-minute delay. I’m pretty sure you can actually buy it now. I’m 99% certain. Call ahead just in case.
Long have gamers waited for this day. When Final Fantasy VII first arrived on Western shores in 1997, few could have foreseen the extent to which it would change the gaming landscape. It turned an entire generation onto JRPGs starring spiky-haired heroes and started Square Enix (back then, simply “Square”) down the path to becoming a global superpublisher. Yet even after countless sequels and spinoffs, many of the series’s fans would argue that nothing has come close to recapturing the magic they experienced when they played Final Fantasy VII for the first time. For years, the fans pleaded with Square Enix for a remake.
Now, in 2011, they’ve delivered: Final Fantasy VII: Reunion HD is finally available for the PlayStation 3 after years in development. Similar to the PS3 tech demo first shown on the back in 2005, Reunion HD reunites players with Cloud Strife and the world of Final Fantasy VII, this time with the same imaginative environments rendered in real-time in 1080p and Nobuo Uematsu’s classic score, reorchestrated and presented in 7.1 surround. You’re also sure to run into all your favorite characters (and maybe a few new ones) along the way.
Before the release of Half-Life in 1998, people saw FPS games like Quake and that other game as a venue for shooting their friends. Now it’s impossible to read about a new FPS without hearing about the unprecedented levels of immersion, the advanced enemy AI, and the enthralling storyline. With each new Half-Life game, developer Valve has managed to push the boundaries of first-person shooters a little farther, and the results have been unequivocably brilliant.
This week’s Half-Life 2: Episode Three is no different. (SPOILER WARNING) While it’s already been leaked that the game jumps ahead a bit and begins with Gordon Freeman and company already struggling over what to do with the experiment from the recovered Borealis vessel, where the story goes from there is anyone’s guess. Expect to see other players’ influence on your own trip through the campaign thanks to Valve’s new “enhanced singleplayer” philosophy, and keep an eye out for a surprise cameo from a popular Portal character. (No, it’s not who you think. No, not her, either.) Episode Three is available now in stores and, of course, via Steam.
Originally announced back in 1997, Duke Nukem Forever promised to be a wise-cracking, alien-blasting follow-up to the surprise hit, Duke Nukem 3D. During its comically long stint in development, we’ve seen entire series like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty rise up and conquer the industry. Gearbox Software, the developer who rescued the game from the husk of 3D Realms, is betting that Duke still has what it takes to win over a generation of gamers who probably never even played Duke 3D.
Early reviews paint a grim picture of a clunky first-person shooter that’s been muddled thanks to a decade of redesigns and developer departures, but let’s be realistic: There’s little chance any game could survive 14 years in development and come out intact, let alone live up to its hyperbolic expectations. Any well-informed gamer starting up DNF has hopefully tempered theirs and will understand what they’re getting: an artifact of a bygone era of gaming that’s been dragged into a new one via a near endless chain of questionable decisions. It’s here more as a formality—for our observation and for closure instead for entertainment—but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s finally here.
Did you miss us? It’s been a while since there have been any notable releases, but a few stalwarts have decided to be brave and send a couple of their games out right in the middle of E3.
First out is Red Faction: Armageddon by Volition, Inc. If you’ve listened to any of our shows (especially last week’s), you already know that all three of us are hopeless fans of the previous game in the series because of its online multiplayer and signature destructible environments. You may also know that Volition caused a little controversy by removing the multiplayer component from Armageddon. I’d be lying if I said I’m not disappointed, but there’s still a lengthy singleplayer campaign where you get to shoot aliens with a huge arsenal of over-the-top, sci-fi weapons, including a gun that flings around whatever debris you can get in your sights. Of course, there’s a sledgehammer if you prefer to do things the old-fashioned way.
In addition to the campaign, there’s a four-player, cooperative horde mode called Infestation, and Ruin mode, which tasks you with obliterating every structure in sight with your weapon of choice. Many developers have dabbled with destructible environments in their recent games, but none of them deliver quite the same satisfaction that comes from watching structures crumble under their own weight as only Volition’s Geo-Mod 2 tech can accomplish. That destruction is front and center in Ruin mode, and I’ve got to confess that it’s a little addictive watching your score creep up as buildings collapse all around you. It’s definitely worth trying if you’ve got a penchant for putting holes in walls or giant laser beams.
It’s also worth paying attention to the audio as you play. Guerrilla already had fantastic surround sound support, but they seem to have taken extra special care with the sound effects this time. Explosions and gunfire sound are crisp and pack a real sonic punch, especially when you’re dual wielding some Banshee heavy pistols. There’s also a cool, eletronic vibe to the soundtrack, composed by Brian Reitzell.
As for competetive multiplayer, here’s hoping for its triumphant return in Red Faction 5.
The other big game out this week is Sucker Punch’s Infamous 2, which returns you to the shoes of Cole MacGrath. He’s still zapping bad guys and generally causing mayhem with his lightning powers, but this time he’ll do it in a new city that very much resembles New Orleans. The morality system that we discussed at length in episode 7 makes its return as well, although Sucker Punch promises your decisions will carry more weight this time around. Paul should be happy.
To coincide with their announcements at E3, Nintendo’s turned on the eShop for the 3DS. Just power on your system and apply the latest update to gain access to the 3DS’s lineup of downloadable titles and classic Gameboy games like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The sooner you do it, the better, since they’re giving away a version of the NES classic Excitebike that’s been updated in 3D. I’m a little jealous.
Are you getting either of this week’s big games? Has E3 fever got you too preoccupied to actually play games? Let us know what you think of the new releases and any of the news coming out of E3 in the comments!
There’s just too much incredible music out there to fit into one show! In an attempt to cover even a fraction more of it, we’ve each collected a few more songs we think are worth listening to. It was still nearly impossible for me to narrow it down so there’s quite a bit on here, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to a few of the songs here. Let’s start with a few songs from my all-time favorite game composers, in no particular order:
It’s time. No matter how hard the gaming draught has hit you this month, there’s something for you to play this week.
Let’s start with the big one: If you’ve spent any time on the Internet in the last week, you probably already know that Portal 2 is out today. When I finished the first Portal, I told myself that I wouldn’t mind if they never made a sequel—the game was brilliant but so concise that I was afraid the wonderfully fresh concept would start to get stale if there was too much more of it. Apparently sometime between then and now I changed my mind, because now I can’t wait to get back to the lab to shoot some holes in walls.
The other big game out this week (maybe even bigger than Portal, depending on who you ask) is the ninth Mortal Kombat, which aims to return the series to its blood-spurting roots, before recent installments got bogged down with multiple fighting styles and DC superheroes. With fighting games enjoying something of a Renaissance thanks to Street Fighter IV, it’s high time Mortal Kombat tossed its razor-brimmed hat back into the ring, and this outing could be a real contender—based on the demo, the game feels a lot like Mortal Kombat II, which was arguably the high point of the series.
Also making its long-awaited return is the SOCOM series in SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs. As someone who loves the idea of a tactics-heavy shooter but spent most of his time in SOCOM Confrontation spectating from beyond the grave, I’ve been cautiously following SOCOM 4 since it was announced, including spending a few hours in last month’s beta. (Thanks for the beta code, kube!) Unfortunately, I came to a lot of the same conclusions shared by reviewers and SOCOM die-hards—developer Zipper has made some serious changes to the gameplay in an attempt to broaden the series’s appeal to the trigger-happy Call of Duty crowd, and as a result, SOCOM 4 doesn’t feel quite like older SOCOM games. However, Zipper has promised a litany of patches to return that classic feel to the game. For the sake of “Socrack” addicts everywhere, I hope they deliver sooner rather than later.
If you’re looking for something a little more whimsical, look no further than Square Enix’s Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection for the PSP. This is yet another rerelease of the Final Fantasy classic, but since this one happens to be my favorite of the series, I’m willing to let it slide. Whereas the recent DS remake of FF4 opted for full 3D graphics, this PSP version returns to the hand-drawn sprites of the SNES original, although they’ve bumped up the detail quite a bit and, for the most part, the results are gorgeous. The game also includes a similarly enhanced version of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years—a somewhat-extraneous follow-up to the events of FF4, and an interlude game that connects the two. Personally, I would be fine with just the original FF4, but I’m glad (I think) to have the opportunity to try this new chapter.
This last notable game this week, Dino Crisis 2, was a bit of a surprise, both when it originally came out in 2000 and when Sony announced its rerelease this weekend. Whereas the original Dino Crisis was a forgettable survival horror game (It’s like Resident Evil with dinosaurs!), DC2 transformed the series into a dinosaur shooting gallery where protagonists Regina and Dylan mow down wave after wave of giant reptiles with everything from dual submachineguns to anti-tank cannons. I played it just a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised to find that shooting dinosaurs was just as fun as I remembered. It’s out today on the PlayStation Network for a mere $6. If you need a break from everything else coming out this week, it’ll be waiting for you.
So what are you playing this week? Portal 2? Mortal Kombat? Both? (Portal Kombat!?) Let us know how you’ll be dividing up your time in the comments.
For a full list of this week’s new releases (and there are quite a few I didn’t get to here), check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.
You know it’s a light release week when the highest profile game coming out is a PSP game: It’s Patapon 3! The Patapon tribe continues its trek across the land, this time with the help of some new hero Patapons. Players tired of making the lonely journey towards Earthend by themselves will be happy to know that they can play the entire game co-op with a friend online, which should help break up the monotony of alternating the same couple of button presses over, and over, and over again, every ten seconds, for hours. Seriously, Patapon: I want to love you so much. You’ve got a great art style, cute characters, and a silly soundtrack that remained stuck in my head long after I put down the original game, but all of those can only distract me from the monotonous gameplay for so long.
If Patapon’s not your thing, there’s always Michael Jackson: The Experience. It’s Kinect-enabled! And… yeah, OK. Just save your money for next week, because that’s when everything’s happening.
If you’ve had a chance to listen to Episode 6, you may have noticed there’s something different about it. That’s right: New intro music! I’m proud to announce that Video Game Hangover now opens and closes with the addictive chiptunes of Magnus “SoulEye” Pålsson, who you might recognize as the composer for Terry Cavanagh’s perilous VVVVVV!
If you haven’t played VVVVVV aren’t familiar with his work, his songs bring to mind the infectious melodies and low-fi simplicity of classic games like Mega Man, Legacy of the Wizard, and M.U.L.E. They perfectly suited a retro-styled game like VVVVVV, and to call the soundtrack “background music” would be unfair—SoulEye’s tracks immersed me within VVVVVV’s world as much as the gameplay itself. Beyond game music, he’s composed a number of catchy, original pieces, including a recent track for the Songs for the Cure charity album, Remedy.
The tracks we’re featuring on the show include one of his original compositions, “Krakbound,” and “Popular potpourri,” a VVVVVV medley. If you want to hear more, check out the digital music section of souleye.se for lots of original work, including the full version of Krakbound. You can also buy copies of PPPPPP (the VVVVVV soundtrack) and PPPPPPowerup! (a collection of remixed VVVVVV songs) in MP3, lossless FLAC, or even on CD. Whether you’ve played VVVVVV or not, definitely visit his site and then let him know how much his music rocks on Twitter!
If you make awesome videogame-inspired music and would like to be featured in future episodes of Video Game Hangover, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Something really strange is happening in gaming right now. Just a few weeks ago, Konami and Arc System Works released their Contra-inspired sidescroller, Hard Corps: Uprising, with minimal fanfare. And it was amazing! After a long drought of games like it, its breakneck 2D shooting action was just what I needed. So imagine my surprise to find out that Moon Diver, the new game from Kouichi Yotsui, the creator of Strider, is out today. Like Strider, you spend much of the game climbing up walls and slicing enemies into pieces, except this time you can team up with three other people online. I don’t know why these developers decided it was time for a 2D action game revival, but you won’t hear any complaints from me. I’m anxiously awaiting my chance to press start when the game releases later today.
If you prefer your slicing to be single-player only, Dynasty Warriors 7 is out this week for PS3 and Xbox 360. Even if you’ve never played a Dynasty Warriors game, I think you know the drill at this point.
After what seems like an eternity in development, The 3rd Birthday is finally out on PSP this week. This game continues the story of Parasite Eve heroine Aya Brea as she battles the forces of (presumably) evil mitochondria. This time around, she’s got the ability to “zap” into other characters and take control of them as she fights through the streets of New York City. I’m pretty curious about this since I enjoyed the original Parasite Eve, although when you say “third-person shooter” and “PSP” in the same sentence, I start to worry about how well I’ll be able to shoot while trying to juggle the camera controls.
Finally, the final Mass Effect 2 downloadable mission, Arrival, goes live today. Without spoiling anything, it promises to bridge the gap in the storyline between Mass Effect 2 and 3. Now that all the bonus episodes are out, I might have to sit down finally have a marathon ME2 session so I can get caught up.
And one more thing… Nintendo released a new portable this week. Have you heard of it? The Nintendo 3DS is the successor to the much-loved DS and lets you play games in eye-busting 3D, without the need for special glasses. For our initial impressions, tune into Episode 6 later this week.
Until then, here are a few of the 3DS games that are out now and (probably) worth checking out:
Augmented Reality Games/Face Raiders (built-in) – These reality-warping games make use of the included AR cards and the 3DS’s camera to cause dragons to pop out of your coffee table, or to plaster your friends’ faces all over shootable targets, the latter of which sounds way more antisocial than it actually is. There’s not really an experience like this on any other platform, so definitely give this a try if you have the chance.
Nintendogs + Cats – If you’ve played Nintendogs, you probably know what to expect from this. Among the new features is an augmented reality mode that lets you view your virtual puppy or kitten in your real life surroundings. Just don’t let your actual pet find out.
Pilotwings Resort – It’s the Pilotwings we all know and love: Fly your glider or rocketbelt through rings and balloons and try to land on that target without incurring too many broken bones. Or more likely, try to land as hard as possible see if you can make your Mii scream like a lunatic.
Ridge Racer 3DS – It’s RIIIIDGE RACERRRR… in THREE DEEEE! Seriously though, you really can’t go wrong with Ridge Racer, and the 3D effects are supposed to be incredible.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition – This is actually probably my pick for the top 3DS launch game, and that’s completely ignoring the 3D features. With this, you get the full version of Super Street Fighter IV, on a portable, with real online play. There’s an over-the-shoulder camera mode for really showing off the 3D effect and it looks incredible, but is kind of impractical for actually playing the game. Still, portable Street Fighter!
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars – This might be the sleeper hit among the 3DS’s launch games. Instead of a third-person tactical shooter like the console Ghost Recon games, it’s a turn-based strategy game that’s more in line with Advance Wars. Also it has cool character names like Richter, Saffron, and Mint, which is worth bonus points in my book. Also, Tom Clancy.
That about sums it up for this week. For a full list of this week’s new releases, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.