October 27, 2011

VGH #27: Bat-curious

VGH #27: Bat-curious

Everyone is a little bat-curious, right? In this week’s show, we’re talking about the Uncharted 3 theater events, our favorite scary games, and Batman: Arkham City. We’ve also got Aliens, Creepers, psychics, headcrabs and a Last Call that goes OONTZ.

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October 27, 2011

Dress-up time – Saints Row: The Third’s Initiation Station now available

I had a blast playing dress-up last night. No, not with my actual dolls – those are in storage. I was mucking around with the newly-released Initiation Station for Saints Row: The Third. After fiddling around for about 10 or 15 minutes, I ended up with the depraved individual you see before you, whom I’ve oh-so-creatively named “Matilda.” The standalone application/demo lets you pick from a fairly impressive list of features, hairstyles, clothing, accessories, taunts, tattoos, and even underwear. With all these choices at hand, you’ll be able to create everything from a well-dressed, well-groomed, attractive dude to an intensely disturbing, half-naked, red-headed pervert.

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October 26, 2011

RAGE Review: Still Just a Rat in a Cage

My relationship with first-person shooters has been a somewhat tumultuous one.

If pressed to come up with a list of my favorite video games of all time, titles like Quake, Perfect Dark and Half-Life 2 would probably be on it.  I’m one of those weird people who actually buys the Halo and Call of Duty games so I can play through the campaigns.

Over the last year or so, my taste for the genre has soured, though.  Chalk it up to evolving interests or a lack of developer innovation but my recent attempts to play Crysis 2, Killzone 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops were aborted after only a few hours.  It was with a fair amount of trepidation then that I approached RAGE, the first new game from id Software (makers of the aforementioned Quake) in almost 7 years.  Would this long-in-development shooter be another victim of my changing tastes?  Or could id, a developer who more or less invented the modern FPS, successfully renew my love for the genre?

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October 26, 2011

Arkham City Nightwing DLC trailer released

Warner Bros. Interactive and DC Entertainment released the above trailer today for Batman: Arkham City’s upcoming Nightwing Bundle Pack DLC. The new pack features Nightwing, playable in all the game’s challenge rooms and also adds two additional challenge rooms, ‘Wayne Manor’ and ‘Main Hall’.

The add-on is scheduled for release the first week of November on Xbox Live and Playstation Network and will be priced at 560 MS points / $6.99, respectively.

October 25, 2011

LittleBigPlanet 2 Special Edition and Move bundle unveiled

Sony today unveiled a new OHMYGOD look at that adorable little Nathan Drake Sackboy! HOW CUTE!

Oh, sorry. Anyway, in addition to announcing that new Sackboy outfit, they also announced a new ‘Special Edition’ version of LittleBigPlanet 2 today. This new release includes the main game, along with the new Move-enabled story level pack, the Toy Story level pack, and a handful of costume packs. I’ve played some of the levels in the Move pack myself and they were a ton of fun.

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October 25, 2011

Be Advised: Play More Games

Enemy boat spotted

Battlefield 3 is out today and it’s a big one. Developer DICE is calling it the successor to 2005′s Battlefield 2, which is to say it’s not a new entry in the Bad Company offshoot series that featured slightly scaled-down Battlefield gameplay and (rather successfully) introduced destructable environments. Destruction does return to some extent in BF3, along with series staples like jets, squad leaders, and 64-player Conquest games played over expansive maps–although the latter is exclusive to the PC version. No matter which version you pick up, though, you can expect the same world-class, team-based FPS gameplay that DICE has engineered down to a science since Battlefield 1942 nearly ten years ago. That’s provided you can ride out the launch week server woes and patches, of course. I’ll be making an effort to play it, in one form or another.

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October 25, 2011

Sales Hangover: Arkham City becomes fastest-selling game to feature shark punching

Editor’s note: I didn’t actually do any fact-checking on that whole “face punching” thing.

The latest game to chronicle the exploits of the “World’s Greatest Detective”, Batman: Arkham City, is performing pretty well, evidently. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced today that the game has shipped 4.6 million units worldwide in its first week on the market, with the LA Times following up with a report that says actual sales have already hit 2 million units.
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October 25, 2011

Rockstar Games announces Grand Theft Auto V

Rockstar Games has announced Grand Theft Auto V, quietly updating their home page and directing people to it on their Twitter feed. The site offers no other info, featuring simply a logo and a note that a trailer would be unveiled on November 2, 2011.

So, GTA V is coming. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we only have one short week left to wildly speculate upon what will be in the upcoming sequel. Me? I think it’s set in space. On the moon. “Grand Theft Auto: Lunar City”. You heard it hear first.

October 24, 2011

Crysis review: Consolation prize

Crysis

I have a confession. I’m a Mac user. That has very little to do with Crysis, but it does mean that when the gorgeous, PC-only shooter first arrived in 2007, I was severely ill-equipped to experience its visual splendor. Not only was I not in the same ballpark, I wasn’t even in the right zip code. This veritable feast for the eyes was so resource-hungry that there were plenty of Windows users whose systems couldn’t quite cut the mustard either when it came to running it at a desirable quality and framerate. Thankfully, Crytek has seen fit to come to our rescue. No longer will you have to live in fear, worrying that you may find yourself in an awkward conversation, forced to sheepishly admit that you’ve never played Crysis because your computer couldn’t hang with those other, more powerful PCs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Crysis has arrived on consoles.

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October 21, 2011

Weekend Hangover: Spooky detectives edition

Editor’s note: Randy had a really great Professor Layton-based idea for our weekend post, but I had trouble with fleshing it out. Instead, I wasted close to an hour creating that abomination you see above (it’ll make a little more sense when you finish reading the post).

There’s a distinct chill in the air, Halloween is getting closer, and we’re ankles deep in the fall game release onslaught. What’s everyone playing this weekend (when not carving pumpkins or sipping on hot apple cider)?

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October 21, 2011

BGM Mode: In the year 20XX

Mega Man

With this week’s Lore in a Minute retelling the history of Mega Man, I’ve had the Blue Bomber on my mind lately. So, what better time to showcase some music from one of the biggest game series–in fact, the biggest–of all time? I’ve already extolled the virtues of Magnet Man’s theme in VGH Episode 8, so I’ll spare you this time. (Although really, you should go listen to it anyway.) But, I’ll still kick things off with some Mega Man III.

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October 20, 2011

VGH #26: The Post-Asteroid World

VGH #26: The Post-Asteroid World

Level Up! RPG-like progression systems are creeping their way into all sorts of games these days. This week, the VGH Crew weigh in on the growing trend. Plus: D.J.’s playing Bastion, Randy’s had RAGE all along, and Paul’s putting on his Heisenberg hat.

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October 20, 2011

Drake’s journal and armband review: Off the cuff

As part of Sony’s marketing push for the upcoming release of Uncharted 3, a couple of interesting promotional items are being offered to fans – namely, replicas of Drake’s journal and wrist cuff. If you live in one of the handful of cities where the AMC / Uncharted 3 theater events are taking place and you attended one of them, you should have received the pair in your gift bag, along with a few other goodies. If you want to try your luck, they’re also being offered together as a level-2 prize in the Subway “Taste for Adventure” contest. With the release of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception quickly approaching (and because I just received them last night at the Dallas AMC event), I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at them to find out if they’re remarkable replicas or terrible tchotchkes.

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October 19, 2011

Xenoblade Chronicles: You say Monado, I say Monado.

Mechonis vs Bionis

Editor’s note: Xenoblade Chronicles is not currently available in North America at the time of this writing. Paul’s review is based on an imported copy of the game.

Guys, this is a tough review for me to write. If you’ve listened to VGH #20, then you heard me gushing over how incredible Xenoblade is. As a fan of the genre I was absolutely floored that a developer could release a modern day JRPG that dismissed the conventions of yesteryear while also updating its gameplay mechanics to be more in line with the modern day gamer’s tastes. Why did it take me so long to write the review?  Xenoblade is absolutely MASSIVE. I wanted to write this review when I was a “paltry” 50 hours into the game, since I figured I’ve nothing more to see and I had a pretty firm grasp on what the rest of the game was going to be like. D.J. was awesome enough to suggest that I complete the game before reviewing it, so I took his advice to heart. When all was said and done, it took me roughly 75 hours to complete.

Word on the Internet is that is that Xenoblade is the best JRPG to come out in a decade. It’s the savior of the genre. On Metacritic, It’s the 6th highest rated game in Wii history with a 93 overall, eclipsed only by the likes of Super Mario Galaxy and other Nintendo staples.

For a while there, I thought that I was going to feel the exact same way as majority of people that have played Xenoblade. But if you need a sound bite that sums everything up nicely, Xenoblade Chronicles is a masterpiece that never was. Just a fair warning folks, Xenoblade is a massive game, and even without delving into everything I want to talk about, this review is going to run a little longer than our usual fare.

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October 18, 2011

Drake’s Deception: Asking you to pre-order add-ons for a game that isn’t even out yet


[Spoken aloud, by Drake]: “All men buy DLC: but not equally.” (At least I think that’s how the line in the reveal trailer goes…)

In an increasingly more common move that strikes me as a mix between shady and yet somehow still somewhat consumer-friendly, Sony has just announced that you can pre-purchase a big ‘ol chunk of multiplayer DLC for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Fortune, starting today as part of a program they’ve dubbed the “Fortune Hunters’ Club”. For the low, low price of $24.99, early birds will get the game’s first four map packs and the first three multiplayer skins packs, as they are released, with the first pack hitting in November.
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October 18, 2011

Play More Games: A Rogues Gallery of Games~

I'm Batman.

This is it! The “other” of my most anticipated releases of the year comes out this week (P.S. Witcher 2). Excuse me whilst I gather myself off the floor. Yep, I’m a huge Batman fanboy, and I make no bones about it. Way back in 2009, Rocksteady completely redefined what a superhero video game could be with their incredible Arkham Asylum. Lauded for it’s perfect mix of stealth, hand to hand combat and adventure style game play, Arkham Asylum pulled off what we thought was impossible. They created a game where the player WAS Batman, and they did it while staying true to the 72 year history of a character that I consider to be the single greatest modern day mythological hero. The sheer weight of this history would be enough to crush most developers, but Rocksteady did an amazing job of paying homage to some of the more popular Batman mythos while crafting their own original take on the character.

My personal favourite version of Batman is from Batman: The Animated Series, so it brought me great joy when I learned that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill would be lending their amazing voice talents to this series. Even though the final battle in Arkham City was probably it’s greatest flaw, there was just something magical about hearing Conroy say “I’ll never let you win….. NEVER.” at the conclusion of that fight. Conroy is Batman, and Mark Hamill is every bit his equal as the Joker. It is unfortunate that Arleen Sorkin will not be reprising her role as Harley Quinn in Arkham City, but I’ve full confidence in the voice talents of Tara Strong (FFX) as a replacement. Other notables in the cast include Stana Katic (Castle), Maurice LaMarche (Futurama) and Nolan North (every video game in existence).

Rocksteady is on the record saying that the Arkham City game world is approximately five times the size of  that in Asylum. Gone is the hyper linear world of Asylum, replaced with an open world environment that you’ll get to explore and punch faces in. From what I’ve seen, Rocksteady has found some really creative ways to make sure that the narrative does not suffer at the hands of this new game play style. Arkham City looks to just take everything that made Asylum so incredible and just give you more of it, with a sprinkling of freedom!!!

Look, this game is going to be bloody fantastic. I want to review it for VGH, so I need to go. My copy just arrived.

Gotham Arkham City needs Batman!

And I’m Batman.


Costume Quest (PC) – Note: Matt wanted me to mention that even though this was a game that was released in the previous week, because he loved it so much he just wanted to make sure it got a little extra attention. For his thoughts, please check out this post! Also a special thanks for Matt’s help with this week’s Play More Games.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – The Missing Link DLC (PS3, 360, PC) – Eidos, or is it Square? Decided it would be a great idea to release some DLC for their 2 month old game right when the fall release crescendo begins. What a shame. Even though I want to play the DLC, just how am I (or any other gamer) going to justify going back to Deus Ex now? I absolutely loved Deus Ex, but this is just really, really bad timing for what I assume will be a couple of hours of game play. I’ll definitely have to check this DLC out when things settle down, like sometime in 2037 perhaps.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3) – Apparently Ratchet & Clank is one of those incredible series that I’ve completely missed out on. Randy is a huge fan though so this’ll probably be on his hit list. Any game that has 4 player co-op as the primary focus will instantly grab my attention, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Insomniac Games has in store. Are YOU brave enough to solve the mystery of the Creature Collector? Find out in the next installment of… Ratchet & Clank!

PAYDAY: The Heist (PSN, PC) – You know this game is going to be awesome – why else would they spell it in ALL CAPS? The decision to delay it by a couple of weeks (it was originally due earlier this month) is a little troublesome, but with a premise like “Left 4 Dead minus zombies, plus bank robbing”, it certainly sounds promising. – Matt

Professor Layton and the Last Specter (DS)

Street Fighter Alpha 3 (PS1 Classic, Grab it on PSN) – For some reason whenever I think of Street Fighter Alpha 3, I immediately think of the goofy (and yet absolutely incredible) soundtrack. If you haven’t played SFA3 you need to face it straight and go for broke! Don’t be such a terrible fighter! But in all seriousness I absolutely love this game, definitely check it out if you want to play one of the more loosey goosey Street Fighter games.

Bejeweled 3 (XBLA) – PopCap’s latest edition of their casual hit Bejeweled arrives on Xbox Live Arcade. You’ll eventually own this game on every piece of electronics in your possession, so get started on your collection today.

Okabu (PSN) A PSN game from a developer that used to make iPhone games… should be interesting.

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken (PSN) – A PSN game that used to be a Flash game… should be interesting.

Dungeon Defenders (PSN, XBLA) – A PSN/XBLA game that used to be an iPhone game… should be interesting.

Other notables

Rocksmith (PS3, 360) – You ARE the guitar. Be the music!

Tropico 4 (360) – Commies unite!

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (PC, PS3, 360, 3DS) – I’m not so sure about this “game”. From what little I’ve seen, it looks like a weird combination of a card game and a video game? Can someone shed some light on this for me?

Everybody Dance (PS3) – Anytime I see this game, I instantly think of this video. Guile’s theme really DOES go with everything.

Beat Hazard Ultra (PSN)
Sam & Max Season 2: Beyond Time and Space (PSN)

For a full list of this week’s releases, check out Tech-Gaming or Amazon.com.

October 17, 2011

The First 15: Ico HD

A grand adventure

What is The First 15?

Well, a couple of weeks ago I received my copy of the ICO HD collection and for some reason I though it might be fun to write down very detailed notes of everything that was happening on screen. I don’t even know what compelled me to do this, I suppose I just wanted to conduct an experiment. The introduction to any game is absolutely vital in grabbing your attention. A developer can really set the tone for your entire experience with their game so it’s of the utmost importance to deliver something interesting right off the bat.

In its simplest form, The First 15 will act almost as a “preview” to a title’s review (if we choose to review it of course) but in the larger scale, it might be really interesting to see if there are any similarities between games that succeed at hooking players with their introductions and which games do a less than stellar job at digging its claws into you. Do The First 15 minutes of a game really make or break an experience? Or can a game that stumbles out of the gate turn into a classic? What about games that have incredible introductions but later falter? In any case it’ll be interesting to see what kind of conclusions we can come up with (if any) once we’ve accumulated enough data.

Just a fair warning, since we’ll be jotting notes as we play, some of these posts might read more like a Cole’s notes version of what’s going on in the game but hopefully we can properly convey what we’re feeling and what’s going on as we play. Another warning, if you feel that what happens in The First 15 minutes of a game will constitute a spoiler… well it’ll be “spoiled” for ya.

The First 15 starts immediately after a dream sequence in which Ico is climbing a stair case, it’s thunder storming and  when he reaches the top of the stairs, he sees a cage… with a black figure in it. The figure is dripping a black, “tar” like substance. It oozes out of the cage. A black shadow appears on the wall behind Ico and grabs him, and forces him “into” the wall, then Ico wakes up from his nightmare…

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October 16, 2011

Trick or Treat? – Costume Quest out on PC now

Costume Quest

One of my favorite Halloween-themed RPGs of last year, Costume Quest, has just been released for PC and you can find it right here on Steam. It’s worth noting that this is the first PC release from Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Productions in six years.

When I played Costume Quest last year, I was immediately won over by its cartoonish style, its charming wit, and its highly-approachable gameplay. It’s also the only game I’ve ever played that had an Arrested Development reference in it. I’ve never really been a fan of turn-based combat in games, but I found myself surprisingly satisfied by Costume Quest’s simple, straight-forward battles. However, if you’re a long-time RPG player, you may find the game’s mechanics a little too thin for your tastes.

Having said that, some may find the $14.99 asking price a little steep, considering it was released a year ago on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network for that same amount. This PC version does include the Grubbins on Ice DLC, which adds a bit of extra value to the package. I’m sure it’ll inevitably have its price slashed as part of a future Steam sale, but due to the game’s Halloween theme, there’s no better time than now to play it.

What do you think? Is it reasonable to ask full price for a year-old game, even if it’s the first time it’s been made available on a particular platform or should games be offered at a discounted price in these types of situations? If you’ve played Costume Quest, what did you think of it? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you think!

Source: Steam

Update: I completely forgot to mention that Playstation Plus members can get Costume Quest for free until midday on 10/18 as part of their subscription.

Source: Playstation Blog

October 14, 2011

Weekend Hangover – Sunday night frights

The Walking Dead

As mentioned in the Last Call section of VGH #25, season 2 of The Walking Dead premieres this weekend on AMC. If you’re not caught up, don’t worry – Season 1 is on Netflix streaming. So, Sunday night is on quarantine, but where does that leave us the rest of the weekend? Allow us to pick your brain – drop a note in the comments and let us know what’s on your gaming agenda this weekend!

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October 14, 2011

Extra Life Gaming Marathon for Charity 2011

It’s almost time for the annual Extra Life gaming marathon for charity, where gamers around the country team up to play for 24 hours straight to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since 2008, Extra Life has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars for these hospitals, all thanks to the generosity of gamers like you.

Unfortunately, because of some last-minute scheduling conflicts, Video Game Hangover won’t be able to participate in this year’s marathon. If you’ve already joined Team VGH or were planning to support us, we’d like to recommend you redirect your support to Jeromy Adams, captain of Team Sarcastic Gamer and one of the founders of Extra Life.

We regret that we won’t be able to stay up all night playing games, but we hope that you’ll still be a part of this amazing opportunity for gamers to help children in need by doing something they love.