Confession time, gents and ladies. Playing Batman: Arkham City makes me feel like a kid again, and I don’t really care who knows it. As of right now, it’s my game of the year. I’ll tell you why in a moment.
But first, there’s something you may have already guessed about me, but I thought I should confess that as well: sometimes I can be a bit of a cynic. I always try to look at the brighter side of things, but in this day and age, the overwhelming cynical voice of the Internet can be a bit of a bog that all of us get stuck in. Especially when it comes to gaming.
I can’t think of a bigger rivalry in FPS gaming right now than the one brewing between Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, each game vying for the crown of “shooter king”. Call of Duty seems confident that people will want it more because it’s Call of Duty, but Battlefield has been making a strong case for itself. Both games recently dropped their respective campaign-focused launch trailers, so we’re going to have a poll to see which one comes out on top. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3′s launch trailer first, then Battlefield after the jump.
The more I think about the Battlefield 3 Beta, the more I come to realize how much I was soured on the game because of it. True, I’ve done more than enough complaining about the Beta, but a lot of my problems with the game proper boiled down to the choice of map. Operation Metro (or “Mehtro” as Eddy coined it) was so bland and Call of Duty like that it didn’t give the “Battlefield feel”, the nebulous experience that I’ve been clamoring for. This new trailer showcasing the multiplayer maps just might make me eat my words, however. There’s BASE jumping, guys. BASE jumping.
The thing about trailers, though, is that they’re designed to make anything look good. Heck, Operation Metro looked awesome in this video. Still, I can’t get over the shot of the soldiers jumping off the cliff as helicopters roar overhead. So, what say you? Are you back on the bandwagon?
Swooping out of the shadows with a vengence, Batman: Arkham City has finally arrived and it’s being hailed as one of the greatest games of this year (and that’s saying a lot). People are calling it “Crackdown with Batman” and it currently sits at a 95 on Metacritic (97 on PS3).
I played the game for a few hours last night and I’m seriously impressed so far. Arkham City runs on the Unreal engine just like Gears of War, but I’d go as far to say that Batman actually looks better than Gears. Checking your cryptographic sequencer on a rooftop with the Gotham skyline in the background and the spotlights casting lens flares all over the screen looks really really good. As nerdy as that sentence is, I just can’t get over how awesome the game looks.
The combat has also been refined too, so it’s a lot smoother than Arkham Asylum if you can believe it. There’s an upgrade system that works like Deus Ex’s where when you gain 2000 experience you will get a talent point that can be used to upgrade your suit or gadgets. The story is pretty cool so far too, but I still don’t get why someone thought building a giant prison in the middle of Gotham was a good idea (or how they got all the criminals in there) but I’m sure that will be explained later. I’m also enjoying Hugo Strange as an enemy; he’s of a different breed than the Joker, although the Clown Prince of Crime makes his presence known too (voiced deftly by Mark Hamill once again). I’m also enjoying the more open nature of Arkham City as opposed to the hub and spoke design of Asylum. Stalking the rooftops as Batman is just as awesome as you think it would be and the ability to glide between buildings makes it all the sweeter.
So far I’m really liking the game, but as with every massive release, we here at GamerSushi like to get your opinion on it. So, are you playing Batman? What are your thoughts?
I won’t presume to speak for the gamer population at large, but one of my recent concerns about the trajectory of the video game industry would have to do with the lack of innovation. I try to keep my griping about “shooter fatigue” to a minimum around these parts, simply because at the end of the day, I still like playing shooters, even if I would like something to come along from time to time to mix up the monotony.
But what exactly is the cause behind the predominant trend of shooter saturation over the last few years? Have gamers changed? Have developers changed? Is the idea of a shooter the most immersive form of game design? Hardly, says Saber Interactive CEO Matthew Karch. He believes that out of control budgets for AAA titles are what’s causing the innovation funk. Here’s what the studio head behind Halo: Anniversary had to say on the matter in a recent interview:
Publishers will spend so much money to make a game. It becomes so bloated that you can’t innovate, because if you’re spending $15 million on something, you want to make sure that it’s a safe bet so you can’t take those risks.
Ultimately you end up with the fourth or fifth sequel of a game, which really is a tried and true formula without much innovation… I think there are so many things fundamentally wrong with the way the games industry is run that need to change.
I really think the solution is coming up with ways to give people smaller, more varied experiences for less money. A perfect example is LA Noire. Here’s a game that people like to play for the first couple of hours, then it got repetitive and by the second or third hour they were done with it. So why not give them a two or three hour experience for 10 pounds instead of giving them a £50 game? Why not give them a smaller, bite size experience?
While the studio’s track record doesn’t necessarily help them (Halo: Anniversary isn’t exactly breaking the mold anymore than their previous title Battle Los Angeles), it’s nice to note that some game studio heads are thinking this way. As much as I’m excited about the many sequels that are coming out this year, I can’t help but think that I’d love to see something new.
What do you guys think about the idea of game budgets getting out of hand? Do you think something needs to shift in the gaming industry? Go!
Everyone knows about the recent and heated feud between the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises, as kicked into high gear by EA. With both of these juggernauts bearing down on each other this Fall season, it’s looked something like Godzilla versus Mothra, the two beasts lumbering into our collective view and ready to do battle.
However, there’s another number three hitting this season, and it doesn’t want to be forgotten: Saint’s Row: The Third. The newest installment of the open world gangster playground from THQ is now on the scene, trolling on both Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 with this brand new trailer, which also happens to be packed full of win.
Every new bit of media I see about this game ensures that it’s going to be a day one pick up. What about you guys?
In a trend that’s becoming far too common in the games industry, Betas are being used to promote a game rather than their proper form of stress-tests and bug finding. Three high profile games this year, Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3 and Uncharted 3 have all used Betas to lure people into pre-ordering the games or buying a different title.
While all of these games did make good use of their respective testing phases (Gears 3 had a lot of map layout changes, for example) the fact still stands that Betas are increasingly becoming a marketing tool, one that may harm the industry if overused. How can we fix this?
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Super Gaiden Subsistence) is coming out on November 15, updating the classic Xbox shooter with a shiny coat of new graphics and other bells and whistles. It may surprise you to learn that 343 Industries isn’t just content with bringing Combat Evolved into the modern era; they also found the time to put a few Kinect commands into the game.
It’s not as bad as you’re probably thinking, and the Kinect stuff actually seems pretty harmless. There’s three commands that have been introduced and they are:
Voice Commands: Lets you switch weapons, throw grenades and toggle the graphics overlay without lifting a finger.
Analyze Mode: Similar to the Metroid Prime series, you can point your reticle at various objects in the environment and the game will scan the thing in question and add it to your…
Library: This Library is not the one in the game, fortunately, it’s actually an index for all the things you scanned in Analyze Mode and you can leaf through it with gestures. They had to call it the Library, though?
So there’s the list folks and it’s not all that bad. The voice commands are incredibly redundant in my opinion, given that you’ve already got a controller in your hand (and they probably won’t be used in multi) but the Analyze Mode sounds pretty cool. I hope you can still do that one without a Kinect, I mean there’s a few extra buttons on the controller that Halo doesn’t use.
In addition to the reveal of the Kinect features, 343 also dropped the achievements for Halo Anniversary and the list actually looks pretty fun. I’m a big fan of the co-op achievements which use the “bro” puns like “Standard Operating Brocedure” and “Brovershield”. All of the achievements appear to be doable, so don’t be surprised if I end up nabbing all the cheevos on this list.
So, any thoughts on the Kinect commands or the achievements? Still excited for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Super Gaiden Subsistence?
Bam! Pow! Zhom! Those are the sounds that Arkham City is making amongst the circle of reviewers as it enters the scene with one heck of a flourish. The sequel to Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum certainly sounds promising, and many are praising it as the greatest superhero game ever made. Granted, that’s not saying a lot, but it’s still a lofty and impressive claim.
Overall, Arkham City is garnering loads of positive reviews on the high end of the spectrum. It seems like it improves on Arkham City in every way, and adds the open world play style in a way that doesn’t take away from what made the previous game so much fun. Here’s one of my favorite quotes, from the Wired review:
In fact, it avoids the curse of sequelitis by making a major change to the formula — instead of a Metroid-esque series of interconnected rooms, it’s an open-world city that you can fly across, going from point to point in a matter of seconds. You can play only the missions that are required to advance the storyline, but you’re also constantly tempted with a wide variety of side missions, collectibles and challenges scattered everywhere. It doesn’t feel anything like Metroid anymore, but it sure feels a lot like Crackdown.
So yeah. Call me excited. Here are some other reviews for you to peruse:
My character falls to his death and I don’t even move. I don’t scream, I don’t curse, I just sit and wait for the animation to complete so I can get back to what I was doing. I’m Anthony and I’m a veteran of Demon’s Souls and now Dark Souls.
As we all remember, I was a huge fan of Demon’s Souls, the intense and famously difficult action-RPG from From Software. The tough, but fair challenge, the amazing online experience…it all just clicked for me and for many other gamers as one of the best games of this generation. Now, with Dark Souls, From Software is back to give you nightmares all over again.
One thing that I’ve found hard to do this Fall is resist the temptation to buy a new game every week. So far I’ve failed spectacularly in this endeavor because I bought Spider-Man last week and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record this week, and I’m seriously tempted to pick up Forza 4 as well.
The desire to get Forza mostly stems from some of the screenshots I’ve seen of the Autovista mode which look stunningly photorealistic. I’m not even a real big “car guy”, but I can’t resist those screenshots. They call to me, saying “look at these cars Mitch. Aren’t they pretty? You should pay sixty dollars so you can look at them any time”.
So far I’ve stayed my hand and with Batman next week and then the November to end all Novembers coming I might be able to hold off. I’m wondering if you guys have had a similar problem this year? Any titles singing their siren’s songs to you? How do you resist buying something you really want but know you should save your cash for a different game?
EA and StarBreeze’s (the guys behind The Darkness) revival of Syndicate, a sci-fi RTS from the early 90s, was just announced last month with a release date of February 2012. Since the game is seemingly on the fast track to the shelves, the two companies have been hitting hard with the pre-release info and have just put out a new ten-minute gameplay trailer for the title. It shows off the game’s shooting and something called “breaching” which is the act of using the chip in your character’s head to hack electronic systems and manipulate them. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, check out the trailer below:
Some people have been saying that Syndicate bears a close resemblance to the recent Deus Ex game, but other than some superficial stuff I don’t see it. Syndicate looks like it’s way more action-oriented than Deus Ex was, and it doesn’t appear that stealth will really be an option here. So, what did you guys think of the trailer?
Yikes. Yesterday, the Internet was absolutely exploding about the news that Mass Effect 3 has a multiplayer mode. Shocker of all shockers, the instant reaction to this was utter panic, as the Internet is an entirely sensible bunch and not prone to hyperbole.
As a result, Chris Priestly, Bioware’s Community Coordinator, stepped into the Bioware forums to deliver some clarification about just what the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer would look like. It turns out that the game will actually support 4 player co-op missions that are separate from the main campaign. This mode, called Galaxy at War, will put players in control of 4 squad mates (not including Shepard) who can be made up of a variety of powers and races.
The cool thing about Galaxy at War is that it sounds like the progress you make in these co-op missions will affect the single player, in the sense that you’re helping the overall war effort against the Reapers. Whereas in Mass Effect 2, you were grooming 12 people for a suicide mission, in Mass Effect 3, you’re getting the entire galaxy ready for an all-out war. The co-op missions can boost your overall Galactic Readiness level.
So, that’s just a few of the details for what actually sounds like a promising mode that doesn’t step on the toes of the Mass Effect universe. I think the big debate moving forward is going to be if this hurts single player in any way, or if this mode is even necessary for what’s already been a great experience. You can certainly read the rest of the FAQ for yourself here.
How do you guys feel about this? Are you freaking out? Excited? Upset? Ready to swear loyalty to Bioware forever? Go!
Somehow, these new editions of Pop Quiz keep sneaking up on us. It feels like it wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about the dog days of gaming summer, looking forward to the Fall like seagulls swarming around a family having a potato chip fight. I don’t really know what the deal is with that analogy, but I think it sort of works.
Anyway, it’s officially Fall now, and the releases are rolling in. We’ve had Gears of War 3, Dark Souls, the Battlefield 3 Beta and soon Arkham City, Skyrim, Uncharted 3 and then some. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer, and one that I’m sure will produce a number of thought provoking responses from you all, our lovely Sushi-ans. This pop quiz is full of questions about the games we’ve already seen, candy and peril. Tread carefully.
As always with our getting-to-know-you type games, feel free to answer with as much or as little as you like. Answer to the best of your ability. Go!
GameTrailers decided to, fittingly, rank the 100 best trailers of all time and they just announced their pick for number one. They give a quick countdown of all their choices and there are a few really great picks in there that are a little low for my choice. There’s a bias towards this generation of consoles and trailers, but that’s understandable given that video game trails only really got good last generation. Here’s the number one pick:
As you guys know I bought Spider-Man: Edge of Time this past Tuesday, and I think I’ve played enough of it to get a firm grasp on whether or not it’s a good follow-up to Shattered Dimensions and if it’s worth your time and money. The short answer is no, and it makes me really worried for future Activision published sequels that aren’t Call of Duty.
The long answer is: instead of the four different Spider-Men from the last game, this time you play only as the basic Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099. When I first heard about this I was a little disappointed but I figured that Beenox would find a way to vary up the fighting and puzzle sections enough between the two Spider-Men so it wouldn’t just feel like I was playing the same game with a palette swap. This unfortunately isn’t the case because all you do in Edge of Time is beat up dudes. A lot of dudes. The fighting in Shattered Dimensions was interesting because every Spider-Man had his own unique style but in this game both 2099 and Amazing are pretty much exactly the same except Amazing can hit people with giant web flails which are now inexplicably less effective than they were in Shattered Dimensions. The game also suffers from some pretty bad pacing issues as certain combat or free-fall sections can go on for entirely too long (free-fall also has the annoying habit of not giving enough time to recover after you slam into obstacles meaning that once you hit one thing you’re pretty much dead).
Edge of Time really feels thrown together as there’s not much inspiration in the combat encounters, the story, or the level design. The quantum reality-shifting aspects could be cool but it makes very little sense most of the time (the two Spideys even comment on how fast and loose the whole thing is) and kind of gets predictable very quickly. Hearing Christopher Daniel Barnes as Spider-Man 2099 is awesome for fans of the old 90s cartoon, but other than that there’s no real reason to play Edge of Time. Maybe that was obvious to you guys, but I liked Shattered Dimensions and I was hoping Beenox could keep up a decent level of quality. Given that Fall of Cybertron was just announced (another sequel that’s coming a year after the studio’s last title), I’m worried about how that’s going to turn out. Honestly, I’m worried about any Activision game that isn’t Call of Duty.
Do you guys have any sequels that were a huge disappointment, especially if they were sequels to games that weren’t universally loved? Go!
We might have to do a What Are You Playing every Tuesday from now until the end of the year because it’s about to go down, people. There’s maybe about a billion games coming every week for the next few months on this exact day, except for Skyrim, which hits on a Friday (also known as “Eff Your Weekend Plans, Here’s Skyrim” Day). Naturally, we’re curious about your gaming tastes as it helps us format the content for the site and it also lets us know that your care enough to respond. That said, let’s dig in.
Because I’m a crazy person, my purchase today will be Spider-Man: Edge of Time, Beenox’s sophomore attempt at this property. I enjoyed their last effort, Shattered Dimensions, so who knows, I might like this one too. Other than my guilty pleasure we have RAGE and Dark Souls, one of which I know Anthony is salivating ferociously over. I also picked up the Witcher 2 on Steam for 30 bucks and of course there’s the Battlefield 3 Beta and Gears of War 3 when I get a moment. Who ever said that gamers are lazy should really look at the 2011 release schedule. That’s a lot of gaming to get done with so little time!
So what’s on your docket? RAGE, Dark Souls, something else? Polishing off the backlog maybe?
If there’s something that I’ve really missed over the years in my life as a gamer, it would be the LAN experience. Whether it was with consoles or PCs, my friends and I would constantly get together for crazy nights of shooting, trash talking, Diablo-ing and Warcraft-ing. The spread of online gaming in the console realm has sort of put the LAN experience in the backseat, but it doesn’t make it any less fun.
I found this out firsthand this weekend as several of us got together the night before my brother’s wedding. To celebrate his last night of sweet, sweet freedom, we pulled several XBox 360s out with monitors and TVs and played Gear of War 3 until late in the evening. As fun as Horde mode can be online, it kicks up a notch when all of you are in the same room, freaking out at one another during the boss waves and screaming for your life. Good times.
The whole night was a great reminder of those times of old. Even though we play together constantly online, being in the same room was such an awesome experience, and one that I want to have again soon. In a lot of ways, the LAN extravaganza is so representative of what gaming can be in terms of community and creating stories together. There’s nothing quite like it.
So what about you guys? When’s the last time you had an awesome LAN experience? What games did you play? What games are on your wishlist for a fun LAN party? Go!
I’ve gotten to the point now in my gaming career where I automatically assume I know everything there is to know about a game and its interface. With the standardization of most control set-ups, I’m usually correct but there are certain times where something about a game will mystify me to no end and force me to crack open the manual.
The last time I can clearly remember this happening was with Deus Ex: Human Revolution where it took me a good six hours before I realized that holding down the “Y” button on my 360 controller would open up the quick inventory and allow me to swap items lickety-split. Before that I had been doing the complicated dance of pausing, opening the menu and exchanging things from there. I felt that the lack of an expedited way to manipulate your cache was a pretty glaring omission from an otherwise excellent game, so you can imagine how red my face was when a casual perusal of the instructions told me that I was doing things the hard way.
Another game that came under some moderate fire recently for not spelling things out clearly enough was Bastion where people apparently didn’t know that you could re-do the challenges without exiting and going all the way back to the titular stronghold and picking them again. This was fairly obvious to me but a few people I follow on Twitter (non-GamerSushi folks, just so no one thinks I’m calling them out) seemed to run into this problem constantly.
While no one likes to admit that they’re not the best at something (gamers especially), I was wondering if you guys had any embarrassing stories of this nature to share. Was it something like my Deus Ex mishap, or the Bastion one? Go!
Some of you may have heard about the new Mountain Dew Call of Duty promotion giving away in-game Double XP time for buying their products. Stuffing your face with bags of Doritos and washing it down with a can of the green can give you up to 90-plus minuets of in-game double XP. Codes on the products can be entered to give you a rank-up edge in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.
Now I don’t know how many of you feel about companies giving in-game goodies for pre-orders or buying the more expensive edition of a game, but this one really takes the cake. Check out the official rules at the link from the top to view the official rules and a table of the time-to-drink ratio.
While 15 minutes of double experience for drinking a 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew isn’t going to skyrocket you to 15th Prestige, the concept of this promotion is still a giant facepalm to me. With companies like Best Buy and GameStop already doing absurd promotions this new concept seems to be pushing that idea too far. What do you guys think? Is Mountain Dew hitting on a goldmine? Or is this a joke of a promotion? Give me your thoughts!