- Suda 51 and Grasshopper Announce codename D for Kinect
- Halo: Reach Earns $200 Million in Day One Sales
- Demon’s Souls Goes Greatest Hits
- New Alice: Madness Returns Teaser Upsets Me
- EA Says People Are Cool with the Online Pass
- Meet the Folks Who Will Follow You Around in Fallout: New Vegas
- PAX 2010: Red Orchestra: Heroes of Stalingrad Video Preview
- PAX 2010: Shogun 2: Total War Preview
- PAX 2010: TERA Hands-On Impressions
- PAX 2010: Darkspore Preview
- EA Drops Trailer for New Title from Resident Evil Director
- Halo: Reach Avatar Awards
- Capcom Reveals DMC and a Brand New Dante
- Fable 3: Video Interview with Peter Molyneux
- Halo: Reach Creative Director Video Interview
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 08:13 PM PDT
Shadows of the Damned isn’t the only big game announcement from Suda 51 at TGS. No, the man behind killer7 and No More Heroes announced at Microsft’s TGS keynote that he and Grasshopper Manufacture are bringing us a new game for Kinect, and it’s called codename D. (The lowercase “c” is like that because they wrote it that way. If it’s a typo, it’s not my typo.) What the hell is this? A press release sheds some light on this.
Very interesting. I’m sure this will live up to the kind of bats**t crazy stuff Suda 51 is known for.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 07:39 PM PDT
At Microsoft’s keynote address at TGS tonight/today (depending on where you are in the world), Microsoft Game Studio’s Phil Spencer revealed that Halo: Reach earned $200 million in sales on Tuesday, its launch date. That’s a whole lot, but it’s actually not even close to the record, assuming we’re talking about worldwide numbers.
$200 million in one day is good enough for the third-largest entertainment launch ever, though. Coming in second place is Grand Theft Auto IV, which came in with $310 million on its first day in 2008, and the king, currently, is Modern Warfare 2, which earned a whopping $400 million on release day.
Still, Reach launched only on the Xbox 360, while GTA IV hit on PS3 and 360, and Modern Warfare 2 was on everything, pretty much.
Most importantly for Microsoft, however, is that Reach eclipsed Halo 3′s launch by $30 million, and it’s still the biggest release of the year by far. Of course, when you take into account that pre-orders for Call of Duty: Black Ops have been kinda through the damn roof, that title might be in jeopardy come November.
But for today, bask in the glow of success, Microsoft. You earned it.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 03:33 PM PDT
Have you played Demon’s Souls? That game is rough rough rough. It’s an action RPG that wildly frustrating because it is wildly unforgiving, but it’s a great game, because it doesn’t feel arbitrarily difficult. You know exactly what you have to do to succeed, and you just don’t have much room for error. You have to take it slow, and you can’t hesitate to retreat when you’re overmatched, because any hesitation will probably kill you.
Anyway, this PS3-exclusive is now getting the PS3 Greatest Hits label, which means from here on out it’ll cost $29.99 new. That’s good news, because there are still tons of folks who haven’t tried this thing out. And if you’re one of those folks who have a PS3 and no 360, you might as well grab it this week while all your friends are obsessing over Halo: Reach.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 03:13 PM PDT
American McGee’s Alice franchise is a horror franchise, I suppose I should be surprised that the teaser for the newest entry, Alice: Madness Returns, would kinda freak me out. But seriously, this thing is a bit troubling. It’s all cinematic, so there’s no gameplay or nothin’, but it’s quite effective nonetheless. Enjoy:
See what I mean about that? How troubling. Here’s hoping the game will live up to this teaser. The game is out on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC late next year.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 02:49 PM PDT
“There's been no significant pushback from the user,” said EA CFO Eric Brown at EA’s Deutsche Bank 2010 Technology Conference. “People know bandwidth isn’t free, so the fact that we're diffusing online costs isn't seen as unreasonable.”
More: “To the extent people purchase [the Online Pass], it is found revenue in the secondary market that we and other publishers have not traditionally participated in.” He did not, say, however, how much revenue we’re talking about and whether or not it’s enough to make them feel good about the used games market, but that’s cool, I guess. Nobody wanted to know that anyway. (<– not true) But he did say that sales of Madden and NCAA Football were up by eight ad six percent this year, respectively, however.
Now, while I didn’t hear a lot of harping about the Online Pass this year, I absolutely did hear plenty of bitching about having to pay extra in order to run three or more online dynasties, even though I doubt any of the folks doing the bitching were actually going to do that anyway. People just like to bitch.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 02:02 PM PDT
In Fallouts 1-3, you could get people to follow you around and help you deal with stuff, such as the things that will try to kill you as you walk around. There are six people who walk on two legs, and there are two who don’t. Pictured above is a 200-year-old cyborg dog named Rex, and below you’ll find pics of the others:
This is Arcade. He’s a doctor, and so when when you’ve got him around, you’ll heal more efficiently.
This is Boone, and, no, I’m pretty sure he’s not voiced by Ian Somerhalder. When you’ve got this bro as your bro, “hostile targets are highlighted whenever the player is actively aiming.” Exciting.
That there is Cass. She’s an alcoholic, I think, because when you’re hanging with her, alcohol has no negative effects, and drinking whiskey gives you the Damage Threshold trait, which makes it so all damage you take is reduced by a certain amount.
That’s Lily, a super mutant who used to be a grandma. With this blue lady, your stealth boys will last three times as long, and your stealth attacks will do 10% more damage.
Here is Raul the mechanic. Raul will make it so your weapons will decay at half the normal pace.
This lady is Veronica, a Brotherhood of Steel scribe’s assistant. Ronnie is so cool that she is a walking workbench, and you can create items you’d normally need a physical workbench for just by talking to her.
And, last, we have ED-E (Eddy). ED-E is a super eyebot with armor and guns and s**t. When you’re with it, ED-E will give you super awareness, and you’ll be able to see detect even cloaked enemies.
There you go. Who you gonna go with? I’m going with Cass, because I’m an alcoholic, and we like to hang with our own.
For more info on these folks, including bios, head over to the US Playstation Blog.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 01:59 PM PDT
We caught up with Twipwire’s President John Gibson, who gave us a tour of the upcoming sequel Red Orchestra: Heroes of Stalingrad.
Here’s some good stuff we noticed:
The score, composed of Mass Effect composer Sam Hulick, features two completely different soundtracks depending on if you’re playing as Russian or German forces. The game actually tracks the morale of both teams. If you’re doing well, you’ll hear triumphant music. If you’re doing poorly, stuff will sound somber.
Intuitive Cover System:
Press a key to engage cover, and push away to disengage.
If you get shot in the stomach, you’ll be able to take a few dying shots before you perish.
Countdown Game Type:
You have one life per team member, per objective. After an objective is completed, all of the dead players respawn and move with the rest of the team. There is an actual “countdown” timer on each objective, forcing players to work together quickly to take down each objective.
Rotating Cover System:
Take cover behind a door, and rotate the mouse around the door to peek your head out, and then pop right back in.
The amount of weapons you can carry is dependent on “weight.” You can usually carry two primary weapons. Carry more, and you’ll become encumbered and move slowly, a’la Fallout 3 or similar RPG systems.
As a commander, you can give your individual fire teams “orders.” You can micromanage them to attack, fall back, etc.
The visuals are greatly enhanced. The perimeter of the scope is blurred, giving it a realistic appearance. You can also customize the “range” of the sniper rifle, dialing down the cross hairs for precise aiming.
You can call in spy plans, which canvas enemy territory, and radio back information about the enemy’s position to your squad leaders on the ground.
A commander can manually bring all of his dead forces back into battle instantly, and potentially turn the tide. This ability functions on a cool down period, so it can’t be abused.
The original game features standard artillery. It’s expanded in this game, to include mortars, all the way up to massive rocket strikes. These attacks are so large, they’re only featured on bigger levels in the game.
Check out Twipwire Interactive President John Gibson as he walks us through some new features in Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad at PAX 2010. You can download the video here or watch it below.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 01:58 PM PDT
It’s been 10 years years Creative Assembly released Shogun: Total War, a super deep strategy game that put you in control of a Japanese clan in the Sengoku period (15th – 17th century). Your quest: become “shogun,” the most powerful military force in all of Japan.
Shogun 2: Total War is the proper sequel to the 2000 original game, taking 10 years of experience and technology, and folding it back into the original setting. Creative Assembly is setting out to combine all of the best elements from their “holy trinity”: Shogun: Total War, Medieval: Total War, and Rome: Total War.
Are they succeeding? Judging from the pre-alpha demo we saw at PAX, the answer is a resounding “hell yes.”
This looked gorgeous, and I was shocked it was a pre-alpha build. The vast, detailed campaign map in Shogun 2: Total war is a fusion of 2D and 3D.
You have full 3D control over your view, and the terrain features realistic curvature and textures, but it’s a top-down map reminiscent of Risk. It’s the kind of the thing that just looked fun to navigate and play with.
Our demonstrator was playing the Hojo clan, and had control over the Izu and Sagami provinces. To the north, we could see the Takeda clan, our allies. To the west, the Imagawa clan, our mortal enemies.
Geisha and Ninjas
Like the original, in Shogun 2: Total War you can deploy geisha and ninjas, who can sneak into enemy camps and assassinate generals. Doing so will trigger a cinematic cut-scene, showing your agent attempt the assassination. Success or failure is determined by your agent’s skills, as well as the enemy general’s own defensive skills.
Each of these “agents” have a full RPG skill tree in Shogun 2: Total War. It looked pretty serious, very robust. I wanted to take over and geek out with it, to be honest.
So, as your agent’s level up, you manually select their abilities (also different in S2: TW). However, when you choose a path up the tree, it locks you out of other skill sets. For instance, our ninja had advanced “assassination” skills. Because of this, he was blocked off from the spy branch. He could no longer ever become an expert spy.
After our ninja successfully killed the general, he reached level 5. We gave him an “escape” specialization, which will allow him to abort a mission and stay alive if it starts to go sour.
This system will require players to build up a few of each type of agent, in order to canvas the full range of abilities. Each agent is kind of precious, too. If one of your agents dies, he’s permanently gone and you lose all of the abilities he possessed.
The General is the most common unit type in the game.You’ll probably have 2-4 generals at any point, leading your armies all over the map. Because of this, they have the broadest skill tree of any unit in the game. It looked kind of massive. You can turn them into warriors, admirals, pirates, governors, etc.
About to head into a big battle? Probably a good idea to buff up your General with some infantry command skills. More focused on diplomacy and being a fair ruler? Send your General down the “government” path. There’s a wide range of possibilities for these forces.
This is where the game gets insanely, wonderfully deep. There’s more than one way to win a battle in Shogun 2: Total War, and you may choose some familial espionage.
This menu in the game tracks family trees in your clan, as well as the “approval rating” of all of the characters. Your approval rating is determined by your actions. Appoint one of your three sons as your heir, and you can expect your other two sons to be less inclined to obey your orders. There are so many possibilities here, but here are a couple of examples.
Awesome thing you can do:
Another awesome thing you can do:
As you progress in the game, you’ll select new clan abilities from two broad paths in your tech tree: the way of Chi (balance and society), and Bushido, the way of the warrior. The Bushido path, for instance, will give you access to new sword schools, dojos for training Hero Units, etc.
Another thing to note about the Bushido path: if you progress all the way up the Bushido tree, you can eventually unlock gun powder, and use firearms in battle, which will give you a pretty big advantage.
However, if you don’t want to wait that long, you can always side with the Dutch or Europeans, and they will give you this technology much earlier in the game.
This comes with a pretty hefty penalty, though: Christianity. You’ll need to adopt their religion, which will make you pretty much hated by your clan, and every other clan in Japan.
But then again, siding with those filthy Christians is the only way to unlock heavy artillery, such as canons. It’s a tough choice.
Next up, battle!
Finally, we got a look at a legitimate off-map battle in Shogun 2: Total War. We were fighting against the Takeda clan, at night, in the rain.
The unit detail has been massively enhanced. Creative Assembly have doubled the number of body parts on each unit, with visible body armor, helmets, weapons, and so on.
In Napoleon: Total War, you could have 10,000 units on the scree at once. In Shogun 2: Total War, you can have a whopping 56,000 units on screen at any given time. Really?
Also, a random factoid: there are 80 different types of tree in the game, all modeled by the artists. Seriously?
The rain weather effects here looked particularly awesome. The roofs of the enemy stronghold had rain pouring off of them, and each of the units had wet, shiny armor.
Geographically, the map featured very realistic Japanese topography–rolling hills, misty fog, valleys and so forth.
The game features a much smaller unit roster than previous Creative Assembly Games. Instead of 300 units, there are now only about 30. It’s a streamlined system that also features a rock-paper-scissor mechanic, making it very clear which units can compete with each other.
The strategy comes in with the type of unit combinations you use, what units you put with what general, what abilities, etc., to form the perfect army.
The Takeda general sent his samurai units. We sent ours out to check them. To deploy units, you simple click a group, and click a location. You can also hold the space bar to see each group’s in-progress path.
The hand-to-hand samurai combat animations were done by actual martial artists, we were told. Some of the animations look a bit clunky and need some work, though.
We sent in a general with some cavalry units. A note about Generals in battle: anything in their blue aura sphere receives a combat bonus, as a result of their combat prowess and abilities.
Shogun 2: Total War looks well on the way to success. It’s a visually stunning, deep strategy game that takes core elements from the original, but upgrades the experience with a deeper feature set in certain areas, and a more streamlined approach in others.
Creative Assembly are shooting to release Shogun 2: Total War in the first half of 2011.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 01:40 PM PDT
The MMO market is a crowded space, but Bluehole’s TERA promises a different experience. It’s branded as the first true “Action MMORPG,” bringing a giant, persistent online fantasy world together with action game combat. At PAX, I had a chance to play through a short demo in a party with a few other folks.
Right away, you have to kind of stand back and admire TERA’s graphics. This is a truly beautiful game, especially for an MMO. The character models have really high detail, sporting very intricate armor and gear.
I was “Brutus,” a human Lancer class. The Lancer class carries a long spear, and has a giant shield which can be used to protect other members of the party. Hold “C,” and the Lancer will slam their shield down into ground 300-style, and put up a wall in front of the enemy.
This makes the Lancer the ideal front-lines tank, which is exactly how I played him. When we entered a new room full of baddies, I ran in, slammed down my shield and gave my casters some breathing room to launch some projectiles.
The Lancer can do more than block, though. Special abilities are mapped to the number keys on the keyboard. Pushing “1″ triggered a Leash Attack, which would throw out a chain, grab an enemy and pull them in close. The “2″ key triggered the Charge Attack, which sent Brutus into a mad dash across the map into the nearest enemy for a multi-hit combo.
Forget selecting an enemy, and watching auto-attacks unfold in front of you. TERA requires you to run around, jump, dodge, precisely time combos and special abilities, the whole action game package.
I think I loved this. The combat was fast, exciting, tricky, all things that can be lost on typical MMO combat. I also liked the JRPG-style hit point numbers that pop up for each heal/attack. There were numbers flying everywhere all the time, but it wasn’t too hard to follow.
You don’t have an infinite well of special abilities, though. Your blue mana meter will gradually decrease as you use special abilities. When you’re out of mana, you have to use regular attacks to build it back up. It’s a simple system that appears to be working well.
Timing is definitely key to contributing to the party. For instance, a poorly timed or aimed Charge Attack would send Brutus sprinting into an empty area of the map, while my team got pummeled behind me.
Also, enemies are extremely mobile in TERA. They’re flying and running all over the place, and you’ll need to watch their attack patterns to spot an opening for a carefully selected ability.
You can get knocked down and stunned in TERA, pretty easily too. If you’re not keeping a close on eye on a boss, expect to get leveled by some giant attack that puts you down for the count. If you do go down, TERA has a cool recovery feature. Hit “3,” and you’ll pop right back up and transition into a recovery attack on the way up.
I only had a short time with TERA, but I’m definitely eager to see more. How do all the other classes play? What does the world look like as a whole? How does leveling up work? Guilds? Crafts? All questions I can’t answer yet.
So far, TERA, looks like a refreshing take on the MMO genre with high production values. TERA is due out sometime in 2011, exclusively for the PC.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 01:37 PM PDT
EA only officially announced Darkspore a couple of months ago, promising a sci-fi action/RPG built on the framework of the Spore Creature Creator. Creating weird creatures that lumber into Diablo-style battle sounds like a winning combination.
When I spotted the Darkspore booth on the PAX floor, I headed over to see how it was shaping up in the early stages.
In Darkspore you control powerful creatures, in groups of three. You take these creatures down to different planets in the galaxy, and proceed to fight through hordes of Darkspore–evil creatures infecting the planets.
The three creatures we had access to in the demo were Arachna, Sage and Goliath, each with their unique attack abilities, and also “passive abilities.” Passive abilities are always active, and add various bonuses. For instance, Sage’s passive ability comes in the form of two little Sage-lings that follow him around, attacking anything in his way.
Here’s a little more about each of the creature’s abilities.
Each of these abilities are mapped to the number keys on the keyboard, and they fire off immediately. Each ability has a (very brief) cooldown period before they can be used again.
You can switch between any of your three creatures at any time. It’s often strategic to do so, as different enemies require different abilities in order to counter. For instance, if you need to get up close and personal and deal some melee damage, switch to the Goliath and use his Energy Slash attack to take them down.
One additional layer to the combat system is the “Overdrive Meter.” As you fight, the Overdrive Meter will gradually fill up. When it’s full, you can trigger Overdrive, which gives your selected create the Passive Abilities of all of your creatures combined. This is a key mechanic to use in boss fights, or when you’re surrounded by enemies.
One interesting enemy was the Warp Spawner, a Puffer Fish-shaped enemy that fires “warp bubbles,” which warp you to a different location if they connect.
After you clear out a bunch of enemies on the planet, you’ll find your way to a portal, which will transport you to the planet’s boss fight. Bosses in Darkspore are giant, powerful creatures with pretty insane attacks.
For instance, in the demo we saw Lauren faced off against Polaris, the Gravity Manipulator (can you picture two Darkspore parents lovingly naming their child that?). He had big missile attacks, would spawn gravity warps to slow the player down, and he could also teleport.
When you defeat a boss, it means you’ve successfully cleared that planet. You’ll be presented with a choice: cash out and accept the loot reward on offer, or, go “double or nothing” and play through the planet again for a chance at more elite loot. If you die on your second playthrough, you lose everything.
Most of the rewards you receive come in the form of new body parts for your creatures, which you can use to customize their appearance and abilities. Just like in Spore, you’ll gather an assortment of hands, feet, snouts, and so on, which you attach to your creatures as you progress.
The little time I spent with Darkspore was fun, and I’m eager to see how creature customization plays into the experience in the long run.
My one concern was that Darkspore did not pack any real challenge at all. I pretty much walked through the level, just clicking abilities and firing them off at will. I was told that the reason for this was, well, because it’s a floor demo and they wanted it to be easy. Fair enough.
I was then told that when you’re presented with a new planet, you have to strategically make some tough choices and pick the strongest team possible, based on your available creatures. That’s where some of the challenge kicks in. Also, as you progress further into the game, the difficulty ramps way up.
Darkspore launches in February 2011 exclusively for the PC.
You can download our PAX 2010 gameplay footage here or watch it below.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 01:00 PM PDT
Suda 51, the guy behind the Wii’s No More Heroes (which was kind of weird), and Shinji Mikami, the director of Resident Evil (the writing for which is legendary to you, the master of unlocking), have teamed up to create something else that looks … kind of weird.
It’s called Shadows of the DAMNED, and it’ll be on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. EA dropped a trailer, which we have below, and released a new web site for the game here. Watching the trailer and reading the description on the web site leave, shall we say, conflicting images and ideas in the mind.
From what can be gleaned, it’s some kind of 3rd-person horror-action game that looks like a cross between Resident Evil 4 and maybe Devil May Cry (or, gee, maybe No More Heroes). The web site talks some about “unique light versus shadow gameplay” that apparently will be ubiquitous through combat, puzzle-solving, and “terror.”
Apparently whoever the damned are a really damned, like freaking damned, because it’s emphasized in the title. (Yes. DAMNED.) The protagonist, (retired?) demon hunter Garcia Hotspur, has to free his kidnapped girlfriend from the City of the Damned. He’s also pissed – the game makes a big deal about his wrath. And according to the web site, all those weapons he uses are actually his demon helper, who’s accompanying him to hell or something.
“With Shadows of the Damned, gamers will fight for love in the most difficult arena imaginable … hell,” Mikami, who serves as creative producer for the game, told Japanese gaming mag Famitsu. “Players will find themselves surrounded by demons set on destroying their heart and soul. Only the strong will survive.”
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 12:33 PM PDT
If you’re not satiated by the wealth of in-game customization options Bungie’s offering in Halo: Reach, you should check out this list of Avatar awards. Complete certain tasks while playing, and you’ll be able to sport distinctive Noble Team garb on your Xbox Avatar, demonstrating your mastery of the game even when you’re not actually playing it. Below, we’ve got the list of awards, along with the conditions for unlocking each of them.
Carter’s Helmet – Clear a campaign mission on Legendary without dying.
Emile’s Helmet – Earn a Bulltrue medal in either multiplayer or Firefight Matchmaking.
Jorge’s Matchmaking – Earn a Killtacular in multiplayer Matchmaking.
Jun’s Helmet – Kill 100 enemies in a row without dying in either the Campaign or Firefight.
Kat’s Helmet – Avenge a teammate’s death in multiplayer Matchmaking.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 12:18 PM PDT
Capcom is throwing out a lot of info at their Tokyo Game Show press conference, including a brand-new Devil May Cry game.
Titled DMC, the new game features a younger Dante with a whole new look. He’s younger, without his trademark white hair, and appears to be in an asylum in the trailer we’ve seen.
Here’s the official description of the game, straight from Capcom’s press release.
Developed by Ninja Theory, who also brought you Heavenly Sword, DMC is slated to release for both PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.
The new Dante is raising some hackles among long-time fans of the series. Over on Ninja Theory’s forums, many folks in the community are voicing their displeasure over the new look, with many others are calling for it to be changed.
Will this character end up like Cole in Infamous? Will the community end up causes changes to his look? We’ll have to wait and see, but I can tell you that the new Dante isn’t the most popular guy right now. Get your own look at the new Dante in this trailer, and in the screenshots below.
If you’d rather download it, here’s the link.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 12:08 PM PDT
So, a couple weeks ago we dropped a full Fable 3 hands-on preview article, with lots of new info on the first hour of the game.
And now, the one, the only Peter Molyneux was kind of enough to sit down with us and chat about all things Fable 3.
In his lovely English intonation, Molyneux gave us an inside look at what it’s like becoming a king, the new magic system, the revamped menus, and more.
He even gave us some insight into what types of characters (good vs. evil) American Fable gamers play. Think you can guess?
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 11:41 AM PDT
Halo: Reach is finally here, and our full review is up!
But enough from us. We wanted to give you some information on the final Halo game, straight from the source.
Below is our video interview with Halo series Creative Director Marcus Lehto. In the video, Lehto gives us a live demo of all the new weapons, explains the new features, and tells us why it’s the “best” Halo game. Check it.
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