GameStop to Launch Redundant DLC Service Next Year

Let it never be said that GameStop isn’t willing to try something new every now and then to stay fresh and “with it”. Because DLC is becoming hugely popular (Battlefield 1943 is an excellent example), GameStop is planning to launch an in-store DLC service where consumers will buy the content at their local shop and download it once they get home.

Getting DLC with your games from GameStop is not an altogether unfamiliar practice for those who have pre-ordered games and gotten bonuses, but this strikes me as a little strange. You can already buy Microsoft Space Dollars and PSN and Wii point cards in store, so those of us without credit cards can get our DLC at home anyways. So, unless GameStop discontinues the sale of those cards, I don’t see any real way that this will succeed.

Of course, this is all speculation right now, and it will probably end up as yet another selling point that the person behind the counter has to bombard you with before you purchase your game. What do you guys think? Is this destined for failure, or will it hook those gamers afraid of the natural progression of the industry?

Source: 1up

Review: Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time

ratchet-and-clank-a-crack-in-time-monster-screenshotI love Ratchet and Clank. Full disclosure: These games just make me happy on a level that few games can. That being said A Crack in Time is not the best entry in the series, but it’s still more fun than 90% of the games out there.

A Crack in Time takes place after Quest for Booty, the PSN exclusive released last year. The premise is that Ratchet and Clank are separated and Ratchet is trying to locate his robotic buddy. Clank was kidnapped by the Zoni, who were duped into it by Dr. Nefarious and his butler, Lawrence. Dr. Nefarious, you may remember, was the villain from Up Your Arsenal and he wants Clank so he can get into the Orvus Chamber, which will allow him to travel back through time and alter history. Clank’s origins are revealed in this game and we learn why he is the only one who can get into the Orvus Chamber.

Ratchet and Clank’s story is not really the main draw, but one thing must be said: it’s hilarious. The characters, from Dr. Nefarious to my personal favorite, Captain Qwark, all have moments that made me laugh out loud. The cutscenes are very well done, making the game look like a Pixar movie. In most games, I can barely pay attention during the cutscenes, but during this game, I was looking forward to them.

The gameplay is divided into a few sections. There is Ratchet’s traditional platforming/gunplay, which is always fun, especially for those who love collecting things. The planets you visit, while not as numerous as other installments, are varied and no two ever felt the same. The weapons you use during these areas are not as exciting as those that came before, but there are a few cool ones, like the gun that turns enemies into monkeys. Never got old. For fun, use the Groovetron to turn the monkeys into disco dancing freaks.

Once Ratchet gets his ship, right after the first planet, you will find yourself in an area of space with a few small planetoids that you can fly to and complete objectives in order to aquire Gold Bolts and Zoni, which unlock extra skins and upgrade your ship. These are pretty fun and are good for getting extra bolts to buy new weapons, but I grew tired of them after about 10 or so. They are round spheres that you walk over, which some have compared to Super Mario Galaxy, but was actually done first in an earlier Ratchet game, Going Commando. When Nintendo is cribbing from you, you must be doing something right.

52545_origThe final section is interspersed throughout the main narrative, which is Clank traveling through The Great Clock using a very inventive puzzle system. Clank’s sections have a little platforming and combat, but are mainly puzzle-based, which is a nice break from the constant explosions of the Ratchet sections. The puzzles involve Clank making copies himself to open doors and hit switches. For example, Clank stands on a time platform, starts recording and then walks to a switch on the floor and stand on it. The switch raises an elevator to a higher level. Next, you stop recording and return to the time platform. You stand on a different platform and record and play the recording you just made. The copy you just made walks over and raises the elevator while you walk over to the elevator and are taken to the top. This is just a simple example, as it gets much more complicated with up to 4 copies of Clank running around doing different things. The feeling of satisfaction I get from completing is something I have only felt while playing Portal, so I highly endorse this section of the game.

A Crack in Time is a step forward in some ways, a step back in others and simple stands still at other times. This series is so much fun though, I hesitate to say that it needs to be overhauled. The franchise has evolved into gaming comfort food. Kind of the way I look at the band Collective Soul. They aren’t going to blow you away, but you are going to get 12 songs that you will be humming for the next month, no doubt about it. I loved this game, but it’s not the next level in platforming goodness.

GamerSushi Grade:


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May Require Instructions

instructionsIs there anything better than opening a new video game? OK, well maybe a few things, but seriously, purchasing and unwrapping a new game is for real a cool feeling. Something about the anticipation, the smell, and most of all… the instructions.

I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. One of my favorite things about buying a new video game is to take out the instruction booklet and give them a good read-through before I even put the game in. Call me a dork, but it’s part of my ritual before I play. However, lately, I’m noticing a downward trend in the effort that people seem to put into instruction manuals.

Whereas old games used to have fun art, bios and worlds of information regarding the game, nowadays it seems that all we get are black and white cheapo prints that any five year old could make. Heck, the Modern Warfare 2 instruction manual ranks among the worst I’ve ever seen. Granted, the game is fun, so in the long run it’s all good, but I seriously love me some good instructering.

So am I the only crazy guy who cares about this kind of thing?

Cross-Contaminated Media: Star Wars

Star WarsWelcome back to Cross-Contaminated Media, a series in which I explore successful franchises that have made the transition to video games from other media, and vice versa. I know that in my previous article I promised that I would look at Blizzard’s franchises, but I felt that it would be appropriate, given the recent release of the Ultimate Sith Edition of The Force Unleashed, to take a look at George Lucas’ eminent sci-fi empire.

When the original Star Wars movie was released back in 1977, few predicted that it would become the massive entertainment juggernaut that it is today. For good or ill, George Lucas had the foresight to retain international merchandising rights, and once video games were beginning to enter prominence as an accepted form of entertainment media, LucasArts was founded to capitalize upon this new venture.

LucasArts didn’t find its early success with Star Wars titles, though; in its beginning days it was well known for its clever and inventive adventure games ranging from Maniac Mansion to Monkey Island. The first Star Wars title produced in house was X-Wing in 1993, a fairly deep space-combat simulator made for the DOS operating systems. Though the graphics and game-play appear dated now, the game is still highly regarded in fan circles with the TIE Fighter game being declared the favorite of the series.
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GamerSushi Asks: Drinking the Kool-Aid

kool-aidOh yeah!

With all the new games coming out every year, it becomes tricky to negotiate which games you should/shouldn’t buy. Already this Fall, I’ve bought a game I didn’t expect to (Halo: ODST) and I’ve been tempted by two other titles I didn’t have any plans on buying (Forza 3 and Borderlands). However, there is inevitably the game that everyone else seems to love, but you don’t necessarily drink the kool-aid for the way others do.

For me, that might be Left 4 Dead 2 this year. In previous years, games like Bioshock and any of the Devil May Cry games have failed to catch my fancy. Same thing with Mario Galaxies. Also, and this one might get me yelled at- Ocarina of Time. Though others loved them, I just never caught the fever. What about you guys? What recent great games do you not drink the Kool-Aid for like everyone else does? Flame on!

Valve Says Unkind Things About PS3, Internet Explodes

Guess Valve didn’t get around to checking out the report that states the PS3 is experiencing a surge in popularity because Left 4 Dead 2 Lead Writer Chet Faliszek, in a recent interview with CVG has come out publicly to state that Valve views the 360’s online capabilities as “head-and-shoulders” over the PS3’s. In the same sentence, he also puts Microsoft’s console on equal footing with the PC, thus pissing off the Valve’ most fervent supporters at the same time.

Valve doesn’t really strike me as the muck-raking kind, but this statement has set off all kinds negative backlash from not only the Sony Defence Force, but also from Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford. Mr. Pitchford has in the past stated that he views the Steam platform as a less-than-ideal way for small developers to get their games onto the market, and now he’s got something to say about Valve’s posturing towards the PS3.

In a recent interview with Official Playstation Magazine, Randy equated Valve’s attitude to be comparable with that of fanboys, implying that they’ve become “X-bots”. Randy also thinks that the PS3 version of the Orange Box being handled by another company, and Valve viewing it as the “step-child” just speaks of “underlying sleaziness.”

The catapults have been loaded and fired by Gearbox, so it just remains to be seen if someone from inside Valve has anything to say about this. Frankly, I think that Valve’s comments are a bit out of line, but the venerable company clearly has some issues with Sony’s black monolith. This little game of back-and-forth could go on for a while, and it’s pretty ironic considering that Borderlands topped the Steam sales charts for a while.

What do you guys think, though? Is Valve just trolling, and is Gearbox just trying to catch them riding dirty? Can’t the developers just play along nicely?

Source: Kotaku

Abandoning Ship: Choosing a Different Console for Sequels?

assassinscreed2If I were in charge of the PlayStation division of Sony, I’d be feeling pretty good about myself right now. According to Gamasutra, more and more consumers seem to be buying up the hotly anticipated sequels to Assassin’s Creed and Modern Warfare on the PS3 as opposed to the X-Box 360.

Gamasutra’s article focuses on something called “franchise lineage”, which for us laymen is “gamer intent to purchase sequels to successful games”. The direction of the lineage seems to be changing for Assassin’s Creed 2, which shows the biggest shift. According to GamePlan Insights, the company that ran the research, fifteen percent of those who own the X-Box version plan to buy it on PS3 while only seven percent of PS3 Assassin’s Creed owners are purchasing Assassin’s Creed II on the X-Box.

While Assassin’s Creed II seems to be in the forefront of this movement, the report also indicated that Modern Warfare 2 shows a varying trend as well. The big question is this, though: why is the X-Box 360 losing sequel sales to its competitor?
Continue reading Abandoning Ship: Choosing a Different Console for Sequels?

Signs of the Apocalypse : Sega Making More Marvel Games

I never played the Iron Man game that corresponded with the movie from a year ago, but apparently it was so awful that every game journalist that had to review it quit the industry to become a hermit because their faith in mankind had been sundered.

Just to prove that the video game gods have a twisted sense of humor, Sega has again purchased the rights to two more Marvel properties: Captain America and Thor, the Norse god of Thunder. These games are set to tie in with the two movies starring these characters which will hit in 2011.

I really hate to speak ill of games right after they’ve been announced, but these two do seem destined for failure. Obviously, adopting a wait-and-see attitude is the best course of action, but the only thing Sega proved with Iron Man is that they really know how to bungle a movie tie-in.

Of course, not all Marvel movie games have been terrible (Spider-Man 2 and Wolverine come to mind) but I don’t know what kind of game you could do with the star-spangled Avenger or Thor. My guess would be a pair of pallet-swapped brawlers, but maybe I’m just being pessimistic.

My vote is that Rocksteady, developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum, should handle all super hero games forever. Alas, it’s no fun just reading my own thoughts on games that haven’t even come out yet; I want to know what you guys think! Should we condemn these games immediately to the nine hells of gaming, or do we give them a chance?

Source: 1up

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Trailer

Yes, the trailer for the live action Prince of Persia movie is now available for all of us geeks to “meh” at, studying the long-haired Gyllenhaal and the no doubt unfaithful translations of a great game to the silver screen. It looks like they’ve at least nailed down the basics, which include some sand, a dagger and action, but who knows where it’s going from there. I won’t lie though, looks like kind of a mindless good time. Thoughts?


Waiting for Dragons

dragon-ageTomorrow marks the release of Dragon Age: Origins and I honestly couldn’t be more excited. Through the recent release of the new Wheel of Time book, the Gathering Storm and Bioware’s new RPG tomorrow, I suddenly have a plethora of fantasy world experiencing to do.

I have to say that I’m a bit surprised by just how pumped I am for Dragon Age. It makes me realize just how long it’s been since I’ve played a really solid RPG. So far, the reviews are giving it great scores and my anticipation is at an all time high on the eve of release. I’m not sure what it is about a good RPG that gets my blood going, but whatever it is, Dragon Age has stoked that fire as well.

What about you guys? What game left on the holiday schedule are you jonesing for? And just for kicks, who else is in to fantasy? Got a favorite series?

Review: Borderlands

borderlandsShooter fans have been used to a very ridged structure in their games so far: you progress through levels, you shoot stuff, you move on. Sometimes you pick up different guns, but mostly it’s an aesthetic change than an actual improvement on your previous weapon, barring the rifle-bazooka trade-up.

What first person shooters haven’t had is the in-depth levelling and obsessive-compulsive stat manipulation of traditional RPGs. Enter Borderlands, a first person role-playing shooter from Gearbox, best known for the PC port of Halo and the Brothers in Arms series. Set upon the dismal dust-ball of Pandora, Borderlands has the player choose one of four classes (Solider, Hunter, Tank or Siren) and starts them off on an adventure to find and open a mythical Vault full of alien weaponry.
Continue reading Review: Borderlands