Microsoft has kicked off their ‘House Party’ promotion on Xbox Live Arcade this week, with the release of Warp from Trapdoor, Inc. From what I played of the demo, it seemed pretty fun. Check out the video I recorded when I checked it out.
On the Sony front, PlayStation Vitas (and games) are making their way into people’s hot little hands (including Randy’s!), with the ‘first edition’ bundle hitting this week.
Read on for a full rundown of what the VGH crew are planning to play this weekend.
The new PlayStation Vita is grabbing headlines this week but we’re not quite done with the PSP. On this week’s show, we celebrate the life, love and times of Sony’s last-gen portable by remembering the system’s best games.
Also: The winter gaming drought is finally over as the VGH team chimes in on three big recent releases. Randy really likes The Darkness II, Paul is lukewarm on Kingdoms of Amalur, and D.J. takes a second shot at Soulcalibur V.
Finally, we seriously stretch our acting chops with a scene from the first Dragon Quest game. Thespians!
While it didn’t exactly ignite a firestorm of sales upon release in Japan last December, Sony’s “next generation portable” is finally available in the States this week in the form of a $350 First Edition Bundle. The PlayStation Vita promises a closer-to-console experience in a handheld device with the graphical acuity, social hooks and obscenely expensive accessories that modern gamers (hopefully, for Sony’s sake) crave.
The line-up of launch games is widely blamed for the Vita’s cool reception in Japan (i.e., “no Monster Hunter”) but the titles hitting store shelves this week certainly seem more in tune with the sensibilities of American gamers. As something of a Nathan Drake devotee, I’m curious to see how Uncharted: Golden Abyss survives the move to the Vita’s smaller screen — as well as the move to a new developer. The downloadable oddity Escape Plan has also piqued my interest with its exaggerated violence, monochrome visuals and controller-free play.
Can the PlayStation Vita peacefully co-exist with a world of smartphones and tablets? Only time will tell. Expect much sideline commentary from the gaming blogs over the next couple of weeks as the death of portable gaming is greatly exaggerated. Here at Video Game Hangover, we’re just happy to have new games to play.
For the first time in a couple months, a number of us at VGH HQ are actually playing some brand new games (keep an eye out for our impressions in the coming week or two). Things are steadily picking up in terms of new releases during this period that I like to affectionally refer to as “second fall”. It’s always nice to have cool new games to play, even if I know there’s never enough free time (or money!) to actually play them all.
With Soulcalibur V now unleashed upon the fighting game community, it’s time for BGM Mode to take a look back at the series’s epic soundtracks. And that’s not “epic” in the Internet forum sense–the Soul series has always done things on a grand scale, whether it’s the flashy action, the panoramic stage vistas, or even the ultra corny announcer. It follows that the music would be appropriately grandiose, usually sticking to a rich, orchestral sound but occasionally throwing in the odd electric guitar just because.
Let’s start off with Soulcalibur II‘s opening movie for good measure:
Epic fail! Despite the best intentions, not every video game release is a hit. On this week’s show, we’re talking about some of our favorite gaming flops. We also chime in on the Syndicate co-op demo, Soulcalibur V, Osmos HD, and the Art of Video Games.
It’s been almost five years since the release of the The Darkness, the original game based on Top Cow’s long-running series of comic books about a young, demonically-charged Mafia hitman. At the time of the its release, only two Halo titles had thus far seen the light of day and the Call of Duty games all took place during World War II. In gaming, a lot can happen in five years.
Undaunted, The Darkness II is out for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC this week. The game has a new developer (Canada’s Digital Extremes is now at the helm) and Jackie Estacado, the hitman from the first game, is now the head of the crime family. You still take down baddies with something called “quad-wielding”, the series’ unique combination of two-handed shooting along with control of two vicious, demonic tentacles. It’s fast-paced, gory, amusingly self-aware and the gameplay never gets old — traits that are just as entertaining now as they were five years ago.
Didn’t play the first game? The Darkness II kicks off with a brief “previously on” segment that gets you caught up on events. You can also download the demo for a bloody little taste of what to expect.
Speaking of demos, the fine folks over at Laughing Jackal Ltd. have finally released one for Cubixx HD, their addictive puzzler for the PS3. D.J. really enjoyed the game when he reviewed it last year and this is a great opportunity for more folks to finally check out one of the PSN’s hidden gems.
D.J. on Capcom’s Resident Evil: Revelations:
As we briefly discussed in a recent episode, Resident Evil: Revelations (or however it’s spelled) wasn’t even on my radar before the demo hit the 3DS eShop. Despite being a professed RE4 diehard, Resident Evil 5‘s all-out action and co-op emphasis made me question the path the series seemed to be taking, so Revelations‘ isolated, pre-RE4 survival-horror feel caught me completely off-guard. (Sort of like a Licker dropping from the ceiling.) It’s now definitely piqued my interest. I’d definitely like to play it before Resident Evil 6 arrives this fall… maybe even with that goofy circle pad attachment.
Paul on Big Huge Games’ Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning:
So I decided against being financially responsible and just up and ordered Kingdoms of Amalur for release day. If you listened to my impressions of the game on VGH #38 you’ll remember that I actually fancied the demo quite a bit and probably would have enjoyed it even more if it weren’t for some random glitches. Early word surrounding the game has been really positive and I needed something to kill time until Mass Effect 3 hits next month. Based on what I’ve read, Amalur sounds like it’ll scratch that RPG itch I have (that never seems to go away) and actually sounds like it has some really compelling combat mechanics backing up the excellent narrative and character customization system.
I’m seriously hoping that Amalur is the first title of the year that surprises me with its high quality as games that fall into that category are always a welcome treat! The game came out of left field for me, and I am really looking forward to sinking some serious time with it this week. Look for my impressions of Kingdoms of Amalur next week on VGH #41!
Matt on Klei Entertainment’s Shank 2:
The follow-up to 2010’s bloody, 2D side-scrolling brawler makes it’s debut this week, hitting PSN and PC today, while the Xbox Live Arcade version arrives tomorrow. I enjoyed the original quite a bit, with it’s simple-yet-satisfying combat, gorgeous artwork, and its Kill Bill-esque style. Though I completed the game, I never did get around to trying out the 2-player co-op, as it was local-only and my opportunities for couch co-op are few and far between these days. Shank 2 looks to offer a more refined second helping of what I found so enjoyable in the first one but also adds a new co-op survival mode (which support online play, thankfully). Keep an eye out for my impressions in the next week or so.
We’re not exactly sports buffs here at VGH, so that title screen there is about as close to sports coverage as you’re going to get from us. Perhaps some of you will be watching the “big game” this weekend, but most of us will probably be doing something far more productive with our time: playing video games.
It’s the end of January and that refreshing winter lull is finally coming to an end—hope you carved a decent chunk out of your backlog! Triple-A titles are officially back in season with this week’s two big releases, and boy, are they big.
Despite the generally disappointed reactions to its predecessor, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2 remains the most anticipated game out this week. Following the precedent they set nearly a decade ago with Final Fantasy X-2, Yoshinori Kitase and his team have dreamed up another direct Final Fantasy sequel, which is unusual for a series known for introducing a completely new setting and storyline with each game. You’ll play as Serah, sister of XIII‘s heroine, and encounter familiar faces and locations along your adventure, which is shorter than a typical Final Fantasy but does attempt to address some of people’s complaints about the original, like its infamous linearity.
Starting yesterday, you have the chance to win a Playstation Vita from Taco Bell when you buy a specially-marked $5 box. Sure, a fancy new portable console would be wicked awesome, but how much is your health worth to you? What’s that? It’s worth $300 to you? The same amount as the Vita’s MSRP? Oh, well then by all means, be our guest.
Brace yourselves because VGH is getting political! In this week’s show, we’re taking on the SOPA debate. Spoiler alert: we’re against it. Also: Paul likes Mario, Randy likes Rayman, and D.J. dabbles in The Troll Class. It burns my ass!
The new action-platformer nobody’s ever heard of, Zack Zero, just hit the Playstation Store this week. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy for review and came away pleasantly surprised with it. If you haven’t had a chance to read the review, go ahead and check it out (or if reading words sounds like too much work, go watch the video review).
If you’re anything like me, you probably had zero idea what Zack Zero was a week ago. The game seemed to materialize out of nowhere and appear on the PSN release list. In my experience, this tends to be a bad sign, but it turns out that this is actually a pretty solid 2.5D platformer.