I just spent a whole weekend in Austin, Texas for South By Southwest Interactive, the glorious tech and social media festival. I got to experience a whole lot of awesome things like hanging with some folks from Revision3, Burnie Burns from RoosterTeeth, and fans of Web Zeroes.
However, one thing I didn’t get a lot of: video games. As much fun as I ended up having, whenever I’m separated from gaming for a few days or more I start to go a little nuts. All weekend long, I couldn’t stop thinking about Battlefield: Bad Company 2′s sweet multiplayer and Final Fantasy 13. Despite its opening story issues and inherent Japanese-ness, Final Fantasy 13 is still tickling at a bone that doesn’t get tickled too often these days. I’m not sure what it is, but even though I had some complaints about the opening chapters, I keep finding myself drawn back to it.
So, what games do you guys start to miss when you have to get away from gaming for too long? What are you playing right now?
Brink is a title I’ve had my eye on for quite a while, but there’s been surprisingly few trailers for the upcoming First Person Shooter/free-running game. It’s got all the things I love about current generation shooters: persistent stats, customizable characters, and co-op. The game features something called SMART, which stands for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain. Check out an example of that in the trailer:
It looks like pre-rendered stuff, but it’s a good example of the game’s art direction. Does this pique your interest? If you do pick it up, which platform will it be for?
While I’ve been known to bemoan the stripping down of traditional Real Time Strategy mechanics, there’s one game that goes about it the right way: Dawn of War II by Relic. You may know Relic for their previous excellent strategy games like the original Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. While you needed a PC of the most beefy variety to play CoH, there’s no denying that it had some of the most dynamic game-play I’ve ever seen in a strategy title. Dawn of War took that and refined it a little more, focusing completely on unit manipulation in the field. A lot of upcoming RTSes purport that they want you to feel “attached” to your cannon fodder, but DoW2 comes the closest. A new expansion came out recently, and it’s been getting some rave reviews. Check out the trailer, heretics.
Has anyone else tried this game yet? If so, what did you think of the original, and do you miss the battlefields covered in carpets of slain Orks? Are you going to pick this expansion up? Just for extra nerd cred, who here paints Warhammer figurines? I have a few painted myself.
Since my own personal game of the year 2009 has seen some extra content be released in this very packed first quarter, I felt it was my duty to plunge back into Assassin’s Creed II feet first and see if the DLC could stand up to my amazing reception of the original game. I’ve had an opportunity to finish it off, so let’s head right in.
If you’re unfamiliar with Assassin’s Creed II, I’ll do a quick recap of the premise to bring you up to speed. During the course of gameplay, your character is forced to skip replaying a few years of Ezio’s life due to error in the Animus, a machine used to relive memories of ancestors past. The downloadable content restores the damaged memories, and that’s where the expanded missions take place. Both content packs have been released already for fewer than five dollars and are included with the PC version, if you can actually get past Ubisoft’s DRM measures. Some people have complained about the fact that Ubisoft is charging for cut story content, but I feel that AC2 is complete enough as it is, and anything else they deign to add to it is fine with me. But how well do the two memories fit in with the overall experience?
While Bad Company 2 was released last week on March 2, another sequel that I was greatly anticipating came out that day as well: Supreme Commander 2, the follow up to 2007′s large-scale strategy title. I’d been hearing mumblings going into its release that it was going to eschew the heavy system requirements necessary to render the huge battlefields of the previous game, but I doubted that Gas Powered Games was going to stray too far from the formula of the original. After all, there’s something unique and cathartic about building up a huge base, stocking it with top tier defense guns and shields, then pummeling the enemy’s fortifications with a gigantic navy. The game had a charm that could only come from a prohibitive resource management system, but I loved it all the same.
Now that I’ve had a chance to play Supreme Commander 2 a bit, I can’t help but notice how severely pared down it is from its original inception. I wonder when I became vogue to start taking formerly complicated games and trimming all of the fat off of them. While this trend has been seeing movement for a while, there is another recent example of a game series that started off as bloated with genre tropes as you can possibly get then got whittled down to the bare essentials: Mass Effect. Like I mentioned in my recent post about the upcoming DLC, I’ve been playing the original and the differences in the inventory and level management system are staggering. The same thing is true with Supreme Commander in that there are no more tech trees and the unit upgrades are managed through a simple interface as opposed to a constant advancement of technology.
I’ve been replaying Mass Effect one recently so I can import a character over to the sequel, something I wasn’t able to do on my three play-throughs (quiet, Eddy). For those of you who may not be familiar with the mechanics of importing versus not importing a legacy Shepard, the game assumes that you made certain decisions, all of which follow the Renegade path, something I don’t usually do in moral choice games.
While Mass Effect one still holds up, one thing that’s really getting to me are the Mako driving sections. That armored personnel carrier handles like a hyper-active child throwing his Hot Wheels around, and I’ve gotten stuck in narrow canyons more times than I care to mention. While I may hate the Mako with a passion, the good folks over at BioWare have decided to give the old wheeled vehicle a make-over and transform it into a hovering tank. Watch the tank in action in the following video:
Pretty slick, if you ask me. Looks like BioWare solved all the complaints with the Mako, which were mostly concerning handling and the occasional problem of not being able to aim properly due to wonky terrain. Most of us have probably finished our ME2 campaigns by now, but who’s going to jump back in and give the “Firewalker” DLC pack a try? It’s coming out late March free for Cerberus members, and those who didn’t buy the game new will have to pay $15USD to join the Network.
I am a man who has an affinity for some mighty fine machinima from time to time. That’s why I’ve taken a liking to a cool new video by YouTube user Michael Barnes, who has produced a new Modern Warfare 2 machinima titled No Russian.
The video is basically a re-telling of Modern Warfare 2′s plot, with different camera angles and what looks to be some sick as hell settings on his video card. I honestly don’t remember Modern Warfare 2 looking this good, but I really like what he’s done and how he’s cut everything together. Impressive stuff, I must say. Anyway, give it a watch and revel. That’s an order.
If you haven’t been paying attention, or if you’ve somehow wandered away from the Internet this week, you may have missed the fact that Valve is going bat poop loco with some new viral marketing regarding Portal. They’ve updated the puzzle FPS classic with some mysterious radio codes as well as a new achievement in the last week, and have sent their fans into a rabid frenzy: here is an active Steam thread where they are decoding some new images.
As if that wasn’t all enough, Valve has let loose with some not so subtle teases about its Steam platform seeing a potential future release on the Mac OS. They’ve put together images from several different Mac ad campaigns and incorporated Half Life 2 and Source characters in them. Say what you will about them, these guys are damn clever.
And on top of all that, people have discovered that Portal has been sneakily updated this week with a new ending… Yes, you read that right. If you don’t feel like playing the game to see, check out this video of it below.
So what do you guys think this is leading up to? It seems that Valve is really laying it on thick about a Portal 2 announcement, but there seems to be some Episode 3 imagery in the coded messages as well. Could we be getting both of these bundled in one awesome box? I certainly hope so. Theorize away!
Almost five months after releasing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a smash hit with sales numbering in excess of a billion dollars, a wave of shady goings-on and innuendo has blanketed Infinity Ward, resulting in the layoffs of two senior members, namely Vince Zampella and Jason West. For those who are unfamiliar with the pair, these two are the head honchos at Infinity Ward, so these are some startling developments indeed.
It all started yesterday with IW’s bosses heading for a meeting with Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. Zampella and West went MIA after the meeting and a bunch of “bouncer”-types showed up outside the IW offices creating a “tense situation”. Although the security personnel would not disclose why they had rolled up on IW’s office building, this did not stop the internet’s unofficial band of sleuths from digging through Linked-In, a job-history database. Vince Zampella has changed his profile to reflect his new employment status with his tenure as Infinity Ward’s CEO clearly represented in the past tense.
It’s happened to all of us at one point or another: we buy a game, tear off the shrink wrapping, pop the disc into our console or PC, boot it up and watch as our hopes are torn asunder. It doesn’t occur all that often, being the net-savvy video game fans we are, but there are some games that manage to defeat all of our ingrained warnings and end up absorbing our hard earned cash.
This circumstance befell me last week with STALKER: Call of Pripyat, an open-world FPS by GSC Game World, a Ukraine-based developer of some note. I’ve been interested in the Stalker series for a while, but I’ve never had a machine capable of running the titles until now. I figured that, after three iterations on the formula, it was probably a safe bet that Call of Pripyat would fix up the nagging problems I’ve heard about the first two games, namely the repeated crashes and lock-ups.
Well, you know what they say about assumptions, and it turns out that Call of Pripyat is just as unstable as the other two games. After raising all my graphic options to maximum, the game promptly crashed, forcing me to do it all over again. It also doesn’t help that, even on full graphics, the game looks and plays like a budget 2007 title. I understand that GSC is using the same engine, but they could have at least given it a bit of spit shine.
Needless to say, I promptly uninstalled the game and began pining after my forty misspent dollars. Has something like this happened to anyone else? I can think of two other instances of this phenomenon, but I’d like to hear your stories first. Have any of you been burned by hype? Sound off!
It is no great secret that we here at GamerSushi are a bit in love with last year’s Resident Evil 5, even to the chagrin of some in our community. We voted the game as one of our tops of 2009 and have sung its praises on many occasions. And while no, we don’t love Resident Evil 5 enough to go out and marry it, we do feel a great desire to take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant. You heard me right.
So it should come as no great surprise or shock that a few of us were hungrily clamoring for the first bit of DLC that Capcom sent hurling our way. Lost in Nightmares hit the Webs just last week, ready for gamers all around to savor its tasty flavors. This is the first of a few downloadable co-op chapters that will all eventually be packaged in the RE5 Gold Edition hitting sometime in the near future.
The burning question, though: how is Lost in Nightmares? Let’s find out.
Splinter Cell’s release date is finally set in stone, so we can all sit back and enjoy the upcoming barrage of videos to remind us that, yes, the game is coming out this year. Ubisoft just released a trailer to give us a quick refresher on what everyone’s favorite grizzled super spy, Sam Fisher, has been doing since Double Agent. Take a look:
Man, all he needs to do is headbutt a fashion designer and he’ll be Keifer Sutherland. All jokes aside, the game does look sharp, but I’ll still worried about the game’s controls, specifically the ability to queue actions and watch them go off. I’m sure that the game will pull it off just fine, but it does make me a bit nervous. I’m going to pick it up regardless, but what about you fellas? Is this one your purchase list, or will you still be playing one of the millions of games that comes out between now and April? Has the news about Assassin’s Creed II’s DRM done anything to dampen your enthusiasm for Ubisoft products?
Now, we here at GamerSushi don’t usually like using the WTF title for just any old occasion, but this new revelation regarding Assassin’s Creed II PC and its draconian DRM measures seems like the perfect fit. For those of us who are waiting until March to play Assassin’s Creed II (my personal favorite game of last year) on the PC, it looks like Ubisoft is trying to add insult to injury by requiring a constant internet connection to play the game.
This seems more like an effort to deter paying customers rather than pirates, but it gets better. Even if you’re lucky enough to have an unwavering 24/7 connection, you can still be booted out of the game if Ubisoft’s Master server goes down. Yes, you read that right: you’re totally helpless when you’re playing this game. When a disconnect happens, either on your end or theirs, you’re kicked out of your current game and back to the menu where your only option is to save your last checkpoint and wait until you’re connected again. Fortunately Assassin’s Creed II auto-saves frequently, so this shouldn’t be as big of a headache as it could have been, but it still seems like an unnecessarily harsh punishment to those who paid money for this game.
What do you guys think about this? Obviously it’s a very negative turn of events, so do you think this is going to affect the sales of this game, or perhaps all Ubisoft PC titles? Are you even going to buy this game anymore?
If you didn’t know, the StarCraft II closed beta is officially live, with thousands of eager RTS gamers gobbling up the goodness in what is totally not a double entendre. While I was not a huge player of the first game, I know that we’ve got some die hard PC faithful among our ranks at GamerSushi, so I wanted to show you some of the footage that’s floating around these here InterWebs. So far, the game looks like a lot of fun to play, but that’s coming from somebody that doesn’t know a whole lot about the franchise. What do you guys think?
If you first answer is “the number two”, then you’re only half correct. The other thing these two sequels have in common is that they’re both playing host to EA’s new online initiative which asserts that all major forthcoming releases will have heavy back-end support and a lot of additional content available post-launch. Just as purchasers of brand new copies of Mass Effect 2 obtained a Cerberus Network Card which gave them access to free day one DLC, customers who buy unused copies of Bad Company 2 will receive a VIP code that will offer up a couple exclusive multiplayer maps. If you buy a used copy then you can still gain access to these promotions, you just have to pay around $15 dollars first.
By 2011, EA expects that all of its games will have an online component and this is a major step in the company’s efforts to combat both piracy and the used game market. By making the bonus content available to paying consumers, it keeps those of us with weaker scruples out of PC matchmaking (at least for a little while), and it also provides additional incentive to drop $60 on a title, a little extra enticement which is beneficial in these trying time.
I for one applaud this movement, but how do you guys feel? Now that DLC and online support is becoming more and more popular, should companies attempt to assert their monopoly? While publishers have a right to protect their games, do you feel that shunning the used game market is the right way to go about it? Let us know how you feel!
I bring good news for my fellow Assassin’s Creed II fans as it appears that the second bit of downloadable content is going to be dropping tomorrow. Sure, it is on short notice, but I can’t complain about the prospect of playing some more Assassin’s Creed. This is the last of the announced digital extras for AC2, and, while I haven’t tried out the first bit of DLC (Battle for Forli), I’m looking forward to picking both of them up tomorrow and giving them a go. Check out the trailer for the Bonfire of the Vanities DLC:
It’s available on both X-Box LIVE and the PlayStation Network and will be included in the PC release of Assassin’s Creed II in March. Who else is downloading this, and did you play the first DLC? If so, what did you think?
Bad news for all you PC hopefuls out there: it turns out that Remedy and Microsoft have officially canceled the PC version of Alan Wake, a story about a novelist with writer’s block who goes to vacation in a small town Stephen King style, only to get embroiled in some paranormal shenanigans. Originally announced as a PC exclusive when Remedy started making the game five years ago, the development had since shifted to be 360 centric but up until yesterday it was assumed that a PC release would be following shortly after the 360 version drops in May.
As to why the PC version got canned, a Microsoft spokesperson had this to say:
“Some games are more suited for the intimacy of the PC, and others are best played from the couch in front of a larger TV screen. We ultimately realized that the most compelling way to experience “Alan Wake” was on the Xbox 360 platform, so we focused on making it an Xbox 360 exclusive.”
The spokesperson goes on to maintain that although Microsoft and Remedy both have a history of crafting PC titles, this choice was all about making the right decision as to which platform could best represent the game.
How do you guys feel about this development? Considering that Alan Wake was a PC title first, this seems to be a bit of a slap in the face, but that’s just me. Not to toot the “PC is dying” horn, but this is just one more nail in the coffin. Tell us you thoughts!
OK, word of warning first: this review might contain words that, when strung together to form a sentence, may or may not become spoilers. You’ve been warned.
If you’ve been paying attention to the pre-release hype for Mass Effect 2, one thing that BioWare was constantly touting is this: your Commander Shepard can die. Not like the cheap video game deaths where you re-load a save and try again, but permanent death. This applies to all members of your party, and you’re constantly reminded of your mortality as Mass Effect 2 progresses. The Grim Reaper is waiting for you out in the reaches of space. Will you sacrifice yourself to save humanity or will you pull through against impossible odds?
Death comes repeatedly for Commander Shepard, though, who gets turned into space dust by a brutal surprise attack in the opening moments of the game. Not one to let a little incineration put him down, Shepard’s body is recovered by shadowy pro-human black-ops group Cerberus, headed up by the Illusive Man, ably voiced by Martin Sheen. It seems that after you saved galactic society at large two years prior, the threats presented by the Reapers, sentient machines that harvest all life in the galaxy every 50,000 years, have been swept under the rug. Only Cerberus knows who the true enemy is, and they’ve brought you back to deal with them.
We’ve known for quite some time that Final Fantasy XIII was going to be gracing Microsoft’s gaming console with its JRPG presence in 2010. In fact, just recently we’ve found out how many stinking discs the game is going to occupy when it finally releases for the 360. That’s three discs for those of you keeping score at home. Yes, more than Mass Effect 2. Gasp! Outrage!
Anyway, while we’ve known what the deal was going to be with Final Fantasy XIII, speculation still swirled around the next title in the long-standing series from Square-Enix. Final Fantasy XIV was a big announcement unleashed by Sony at E3 2009, along with the apparent promise of exclusivity. However, a recent LinkedIn profile from a Square-Enix employee suggests that the in-production MMO is going to see a simultaneous release of sorts on the XBox 360 as well. No, that has not been announced, but last year the RPG maker’s executives hinted that talks just might be in the works. While this seems like a genuine confirmation that the speculation is true, it could just be an honest mistake from an employee.
Honestly, this isn’t altogether too surprising, seeing as how many Japanese developers are doing everything they can to garner more of a Western audience, which means opening up to the XBox 360′s predominantly Western core. So what do you guys think about this? Excited? Reserved? Indifferent?
Well, we’re a bit late on this, but that’s because we were waiting to make sure we had all sampled enough of these games to confidently vote on what we felt were the best 10 games of 2009. This kind of list needs next to no introduction, but suffice it to say that 2009 was one incredible year for our hobby. What once seemed barren and unimpressive became, honestly, one of the best years I can remember, and probably was the best year for the whole generation to date in a lot of ways. We saw new IPs, old ones re-vamped, and got some of the same awesomeness from franchises we already loved.
For the list, we put this together by having the GS staff (myself, Nick, Jeff, Anthony and Mitch) vote on our top 10 games, and then associated a point system with each to determine which games came out on top. So, without further ado, scroll down for the GamerSushi Top 10 Games of 2009!