Sunday, August 16, 2009

2010 Xbox 360 'only console to show growth this year' according to Microsoft

Dubbing itself "the industry's sole bright spot in 2009," Microsoft has spun some depressing console sale decline numbers from NPD into a self-congratulating piece on the Xbox 360's singular success this year. Through the first seven months of 2009 the console has shown 17 percent growth, despite July's losses for the Big Three's respective slabs of home hardware. Microsoft also points out that the 360 has been the number one platform for third-party sales through the entire year. Of course, this is nothing Sony can't rectify with a bit of dirt cheap PS3 Slim magic, right? Right? Nintendo meanwhile probably can't hear Microsoft's bragging through the thick, cash-lined vaults it's built for itself off the back of ceaseless peripheral sales.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

News : Upcoming Xbox 360 Netflix update is still gimped

If you haven't been lucky enough to preview the upcoming Xbox Live dashboard update like we did, there's a good chance you're eagerly awaiting its August 11 release so that you can finally modify your Netflix queue straight from the box. If so, prepare to be disappointed... or, uh, thrilled when you find out that the new experience isn't quite as comprehensive as you might have expected. It restricts users to perusing the Top 50 films in any of a handful of categories, meaning no searching by title and no browsing alphabetically. Why? According to Microsoft's Ben Smith, Director of Program Management for Xbox Live, that's how you want it. He says: "I think when people come to Xbox they're not really looking so much for functional, they really want to have fun, they want to be wowed." We're saying "wow," all right, but for entirely different reasons. There is a morsel of good news, though: if enough people indicate they actually like function and want an honest-to-goodness, full-featured Netflix experience Microsoft is fully prepared to upgrade the service. Again. Eventually.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

First look : James Cameron's Avatar

The Game has been shrouded under a dense layer of secrecy second only to the one that surrounds the movie it's based on. For those that haven't been following the film, Avatar follows the conflict between the denizens of a planet called Pandora, the Na'vi, and mankind who are essentially strip mining their world to disastrous results. The games based on the film basically offer complementary stories that offer a close up look at the conflict. But, outside of a demo of the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC versions at E3 last month and the painfully thin assortment of screenshots released, things have been pretty quiet around the games. Thankfully some noise kicked up at Comic-con which saw the Wii version demoed at a press event. Our hands-off demo followed the game's main character as he sabotaged a military installation, took on an airship, called a Dragon, and made a daring escape. Although the demo of the game (which is an original title and not a port of the other console and PC titles) was short, roughly 7 minutes, it hit on a fair amount of the major gameplay elements.

Who's Making This Game: Ubisoft

What The Game Looks Like: Avatar has a somewhat boxy, but colorful look to it that's a far cry from the eye bleeding detail of the PS3 and Xbox 360 game we saw at E3. However, once you factor in that there's no way the Wii is going to move the same amount of polygons that the other consoles are or offer stereoscopic 3D, the game looks pretty sharp. There's a good amount of detail and, more importantly, a heavy cinematic feel to the presentation. The camera smartly follows the action and favors sweeping views and dramatic camera angles.

What There Is To Do: You'll play as a young Na'Vi hunter looking for revenge after his family tree gets a thorough pruning by human military forces during an attack on his village. As if that wasn't enough motivation, a dam's been built that's depriving locals of much needed water. Your goal is to destroy the dam and get in some payback. While the revenge the young hunter is after can be accomplished solo, the game will feature drop in, drop out cooperative play.

How The Game Is Played: The Wii version of Avatar the game makes use of both the nunchuk and remote to play. In addition, the game features unique support for the Wii motion plus accessory. The game is a third person action title that mixes combat, stealth, some platforming and some puzzle solving. The nunchuk and remote let you race through the natural setting like a pro. The Wii motion plus support in the version of the game we saw let the young hunter summon a wasp the he could precisely control thanks to the peripheral. The fine control was needed to guide the winged critter to take down an electric fence blocking hunter's way. People that don't have the peripheral will be able to take an alternate route around the fence. At the same time the game still has some waggle control for stealth takedowns, which you initiate with a button press and finish up with a controller motion. Melee is fairly straightforward although you'll want to be smart about when you engage mobs of soldiers. Puzzle solving and getting around require you to use your head and, most importantly, the natural world around you. As a both a local and a hunter, your Na'vi has all sorts of natural tricks up his sleeves (metaphorically speaking, since he's light on clothes) to counter the military's technical opposition. Although, as evidenced in the boss fight where he used explosive canisters lying around, he's not opposed to improvising with what's lying around to get the job done. For example, if there are explosive canisters he can use to take down a massive tower which will knock the Dragon airship out of the sky, why not use them? The demo ended with the hunter making a hasty retreat on a brightly colored flying creature that was somewhere between a bat and a pterodactyl.

What They Say: "Players will find themselves thrust into a fight for the heart of a planet and the fate of a civilization."

What We Say: The game looks cool and has us anxious to try it to see how it plays. The gameplay seems solid and the story sounds like it's going to be a strong complement to the film's narrative as it will offer a deeper look at the motivations of the Na'vi and impact man is having on their world. We like that the title is it's own game as opposed to a port of the others. The visuals may not be the kick to the eyeballs the other versions are, but they play to the systems strengths which is key. As movie games go, Avatar looks like a nice change of pace. We reckon the close collaboration between Ubi's developers and the filmmakers will be a good thing for Avatar: The Game. Look for more on the game in the coming months as Ubisoft starts sharing more information.
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Info : Gears of War

It wouldn't be a Gears of War panel without design director of Epic Games, Cliff Bleszinski, who also happens to be the executive producer of the upcoming Gears movie. Other panelists include Joshua Ortega, Gears of War comic book author and scriptwriter for Gears of War 2; Len Wiseman, director of the upcoming Gears of War and Chris Morgan, screenwriter for the Gears of War movie.

What did they talk about: Cliffy B. and Rod Fergusson were the first to be introduced by moderator Adam Sessler. They started talking about Dark Corners, which comes out next week on July 28. For our impressions of the downloadable content, please see Kevin's post in the reviews blog. Available for 1200 Microsoft Points, Bleszinski and Fergusson talked about the deleted scene, "Road to Ruin" which they had initially wanted to put in the game, but pulled it out because it would have disrupted the pacing. In the add-on, stealth is required but Bleszinski wanted to assure fans that there was little stealth and emphasized that it is a very forgiving element.

Fergusson also mentioned that next week on July 31, developers will be playing with members of the community so here's your chance to take out any frustrations. Also, if you play Dark Corners the first week that it's released, you'll also earn double experience points.

The next question moved away from games and into literature. For those who read the Gears of War novels a new book is coming out by Karen Traviss titled, "Jacinto's Remnant," which picks up the story immediately after the last game ends. The conversation went on to talk about collectibles and what's being sold at Comic-Con. The giant screens in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton (next to the convention center) also displayed screenshots and artwork throughout the presentation. When a model of a ticker appeared, Bleszinki made a point to call it an "explosive death beaver."

What fans went wild over was the introduction of GOW themed avatar outfits. Two versions were displayed: the COG armor and the Locust armor. We have to admit that they both looked pretty cool, but we are favoring the COG outfit with the helmet though, the locust helmet looks like you're wearing a giant chest plate on your head.

Joshua Ortega came out afterwards to talk about Gears art and the comic books. After displaying several works of art, he showed one of a red-haired female COG, drawn by artist Jim Lee. It looks like it's not just going to be a boys club anymore.

Len Wiseman and Chris Morgan came out next to talk about the movie, which we know very little of. Unfortunately, they didn't reveal anything either and kept reiterating the fact that it's still in the very early stages and they are doing the best they can to bring the spectacle of Gears to the big screen while keeping the drama that holds the story together. Wiseman isn't much of a gamer, but he bought an Xbox 360 to play Gears of War. He found that he'd rather watch it than play it, but was amazed at the detail and knew that it would be a great movie.

Len and Chris talked about the challenges of picking the most important aspects, like the war and the drama and condensing it to 110 pages. The hardest thing to do is to leave cool stuff out, because aspects of a good video game do not always translate into a good movie. Since Bleszinski is playing a large role in the project, he has been bouncing ideas off of Len and vice versa. They agreed that it was important to have a bond as well as trust. Fergusson added later that it's all about making the best movie possible by letting certain things go, instead of trying to make the game into a movie. He said he only had a short list of things not to do, and that included not killing Marcus.

In regards to what kind of focus the movie will take, Wiseman said that "The spectacle is going to be there, it's a huge focus but it's not the first priority. It starts with the story and the characters, you have a character you root for and care about in the end you don't just go wow that's cool, but you want him to survive." Morgan added that, "You don't follow the events in the movie, you follow the characters."

Len dismissed rumors about choosing a pro wrestler for the main roles, and said that he is looking for the best actor for the role and that their build is not the focus. Not much about the movie was revealed during this panel, except that the audience was assured that Emergence Day will be in the movie.

Best audience question: "Will a girl COG be in the movie?" While Bleszinski said it's too early to talk about that, Len did say he was a supporter and would love to see it happen.

Worst audience question: Several people asked about casting. Suggestions included Kate Beckinsdale as Maria, The Cole Train as himself, and John Travolta as Marcus, (please no) but Len said that it was too early to make any decisions. The voice actor of Cole however, was in the audience and stood up to give a "WOOHOO!" to please the crowd.

Random Fact: Carmine means red, and we learned from the panel that anyone that has anything to do with red, whether it be red shirts from Star Trek, or last names, they never survive.

The Takeaway: It sounds like the movie is going to mirror the game, in the sense that beneath the visual splendor, there will be a sappy story to tell as well. We're looking forward to the movie, but we were disappointed that nothing substantial was revealed (we know, early stages) and nothing about future projects were mentioned. Sadly, the most exciting thing that came from this panel was the clothing. You might want to keep an eye out for the Xbox Live avatar outfits, but then again, do you really want to have your avatar look like everyone else for the next few months until something better comes out?
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

News : Xbox 360's new Netflix Movie Parties disabled for Starz Play titles?

Ever get a sinking feeling in your stomach, like it's November 2008 all over again? Yes, just like when Sony Pictures blocked its films from Netflix on Demand for a then-fresh New Xbox Experience update, so too are the early adopters of the new Xbox Live Dashboard update seeing select films excluded from the joys of its group sharing "Movie Parties" mode. Our BFFs at Joystiq have done some preliminary testing on the issue, and it seems the common link is that all guilty videos hail from the Starz Play catalog. In other words, you can all but forget about watching Pineapple Express synchronized with your Xbox 360-toting friends and family thousands of miles away -- for now at least. With any luck, like the previous issue with Sony Pictures, this problem will eventually fix itself, and with any luck, it'll be smooth sailing by the time the Xbox Live Dashboard update is officially pushed out to the masses on August 11th. Video proof of the misdemeanor can be seen after the break.

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Epic Games VP says new consoles are a "long way off

We've heard plenty of talk about ten-year console life cycles for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and it looks like there's some consensus starting to build around the idea that any new consoles really are still a long ways off. Speaking with Eurogamer earlier this week, Epic Games VP Mark Rein cast some doubt on the very need for new consoles anytime soon, pointing out that "over half the users who played Gears of War 2 so far do not have HDTVs," and adding that "there's no way we're ready for the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox Whatever." He did also note, however, that the current consoles would see some major changes, and in the case of the Xbox 360 he says, "it's called Natal. That is the next Xbox." For the curious, Rein also concluded that Natal would win in a fight with Sony's motion controller, but only if it was a kickboxing fight, "because it can see you kicking."

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Monday, July 20, 2009


AMAZING, We've been excited to get a deeper look at SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny, the Japanese developer's portable installment in its fighting series, since the game was announced and we got a brief taste of what to expect with the Electronic Entertainment Expo demo. Like most fans of the series, we've been hungry to see more of the game to get a proper feel for it. Fortunately, we recently got a chance to get an exclusive hands-on with a more full-featured work-in-progress version of the game, which let us explore all the modes it will offer and, most importantly, let us try out the two new additions to the roster of fighters, Dampierre and Kratos. While the game wasn't 100 percent finished, it made a very good impression on us and was packed with a meaty selection of features, stunning visuals, and solid controls.

The version of the game we played let us try out all the characters and poke around the various modes. The roster of fighters tallies up to 28, most of which were seen in last year's Soulcalibur IV for consoles. There are a few omissions, such as Angol Fear and the Star Wars characters. However, the roster evens out some thanks to the inclusion of two new characters: Dampierre, a blade-wielding fancy lad with a questionable mustache, and Kratos, Sony's God of War. In addition, the game will feature a robust character-creation feature like its console cousin so you can make your own fighter. As in SCIV, you'll unlock more content to use in character creation as you play.

SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny has a solid assortment of game modes to play alone or against a friend. The single-player modes are Quick Match, The Gauntlet, Trials, and Training. Quick Match pits you against an opponent that you choose from a pool of custom characters created by the development team. The Gauntlet mode is a story mode broken up into chapters made up of a handful of fights. In a change of pace from previous SoulCalibur games, this story mode has a tutorial aspect to it that is designed to teach you the game's fighting system. The story is set up by the game's dramatic intro cinema that shows everyone trying to stab one another, which is how you want a SoulCalibur game to kick off. The game narrative plays out as you'd expect: some setup for the fight via story screens and you're off.

Trials mode features three different trials to test your skills, the trial of attack, the trial of defense, and the endless trial. The attack and defense trials will task you with clearing a series of fights, while the endless trial is a test to see how long you can last against a never-ending wave of enemies. Finally, Training mode lets you set up battles against computer-controlled opponents to hone your skills. Versus mode is SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny's multiplayer option that lets you take on a friend in head-to-head fighting. Unfortunately, the game doesn't feature the infrastructure for proper online play.

Combat is exactly what you'd want in a SoulCalibur game. The game sticks to the four-button system that has been refined over the course of the series. Broken Destiny uses a tweaked version of the system introduced in Soulcalibur IV, so those familiar with the combat in that game should be fine on the basics. You'll have three attack buttons--horizontal, vertical, and kick--and a guard, which you'll mix up to perform combos and special moves. We're pretty intrigued by the new stuff the team has added to the mix based on feedback from Soulcalibur IV. There have been some balance changes and all-new moves added for characters, which may require some strategy tweaks for veteran players. Most of what we were able to catch seems to fit in well. For example, Ivy has a new whip attack that's very handy at midrange.

The new characters click with the tweaked combat system and have their own unique feel. Dampierre is as quirky as he looks. He's a close-quarters character who feels a bit like Talim but with some of Voldo's randomness, which is handy for throwing off opponents. Kratos, on the other hand, is death in a skirt. The Grecian butt kicker has some easy-to-pull-off moves that are right out of the God of War games and devastating. Our first impression of him is that he's a bit overpowered. He does a lot of damage, and it feels like his attacks are pretty thorough at doling out damage to an enemy at varying ranges.

Kratos, Dampierre, and the rest of the roster pop thanks to SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny's gorgeous visuals. The game appears to be on its way toward matching if not surpassing Namco's last high watermark on the PSP, Tekken: Dark Resurrection. The visual quality of the character models is incredibly sharp. While there have been some necessary compromises in the number of polygons being thrown around to compensate for the PSP's more modest graphical horsepower in comparison to the PlayStation 3, the game is doing an outstanding job of hiding it. The only thing to nitpick about is that the fighters' shadows look a little rough, but that's not really an issue. Besides the characters, the game's backgrounds, which offer different lighting to reflect the time of day, look great. SCIV fans will recognize many of the backgrounds from that game, which are smartly re-created on the PSP. In addition, there are some new stages on hand to keep things interesting. Despite all the visual flash, SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny purrs along at an impressive frame rate.

The high level of quality even reaches to the game audio, which features the expected array of voices and effects. The game's soundtrack plays out much like its stages, with some tunes from SCIV being used for the corresponding arenas and new tunes being dropped into the mix as well.

From the look of things so far, SoulCalibur PSP seems like it's easily going to match Tekken: Dark Resurrection in terms of visual quality and even surpass it in terms of features. The game is packed with an impressive array of content to unlock and explore that should make it a fixture in your PSP for a while. We're bummed out by the lack of online multiplayer, but considering the current landscape of PSP fighters, we're glad to have a quality fighter to play around with. SoulCalibur: Broken Destiny is slated to ship this September for the PSP.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Special Review : Secret of Monkey Island

Forgoing the history lesson on an almost-20-year-old game, The Secret of Monkey Island is a point-and-click adventure in which you assume the role of a wannabe pirate named Guybrush Threepwood. In order to become a pirate, Threepwood must prove himself as a swordsman, a treasure hunter, and a thief, which means you must prove that you can both solve puzzles and move a cursor around a screen--often simultaneously. You can expect to hit a few brick walls when you encounter some of the more baffling puzzles, but the all-new hints system does a great job of pointing you in the right direction if you choose to use it, and the writing is entertaining enough to keep you interested during extended periods of head-scratching if you don't. An option to play the game in its original form or with greatly enhanced audio and visuals is the foamy head on this Special Edition pint of Grog, and you won't want to stop drinking until you can see the bottom of your tankard.

The Secret of Monkey Island is easy to pick up, regardless of whether or not you've played this kind of adventure game before. You use the mouse to move a cursor around the screen, and when you're pointing at something you want to interact with or a location you want to move to, you click the left mouse button. Other actions, such as "speak to," "pull," "use," and "give," are assigned to onscreen buttons that, depending on whether or not you're playing with the updated visuals, either appear at the bottom of the screen at all times or in a pop-up window. Actions are also mapped to individual keys if you prefer to play that way, and both the middle and right mouse buttons serve as shortcuts to commonly used actions. Like actions, items in your inventory also appear onscreen at all times when playing with the original graphics, but they are mapped to a second pop-up window in the new interface. It's great that you can switch between the two modes on the fly because there are pros and cons to both. The Special Edition looks much better and is the only way to play if you want to hear, as well as read, what characters are saying, whereas the original game's interface is a little easier to use.

Monkey Island isn't a game that wastes any time throwing seemingly useless items and satisfying puzzles at you. Shortly after starting out on Melee Island, you visit a bar where pirate leaders drunk on Grog (a drink so acidic that you have to consume it before it eats through the tankard) give you three challenges to complete; a surly chef refuses you entry to his kitchen; and a hungry seagull makes it difficult for you to pick up what may or may not be a red herring. Before you know it, you're walking around the island with all manner of items stuffed into Threepwood's physics-defying pockets, and you'll spend the majority of your time figuring out how to combine or use those items. Using the "look at" option on an item will afford you an amusing description that often doubles as a clue to its intended purpose. You might still end up solving some puzzles through trial and error, but you'll also kick yourself for not spotting the clues to the puzzle's solution before resorting to that time-tested technique.

When you're not attempting to combine a staple remover with a banana or wondering how to get past a group of deadly piranha poodles, much of your time is spent navigating dialogue trees with characters that include belligerent buccaneers, cholesterol-conscious cannibals, and a used boat salesman named Stan. Some of the conversations are laugh-out-loud funny, and while the actors' delivery isn't always up to the standard of the writing, the voice work is such a great addition to the game that it's difficult to go back to the original edition. Lengthy conversations with the aforementioned salesman can be a little irritating when you have to listen to--as well as read--his persistent patter, but he's still an amusing and memorable character in a cast composed almost entirely of amusing and memorable characters.

In The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, meeting and interacting with these characters is every bit as enjoyable as it was almost 20 years ago. The puzzles, the humor, and the Caribbean-sounding tunes that keep you company as you ponder your next move continue to defy their age, and even the original visuals still have plenty of pixel-perfect charm. The Special Edition update employs a colorful art style that's more reminiscent of the style in The Curse of Monkey Island (the third game in the series) than other games, but it retains the primitive (but pleasing) animation of the first game. Switching between the two available art styles is something that you'll almost certainly do from time to time just because you can, and it's interesting to see how faithfully and brilliantly such locations as the Scumm Bar and the cannibal village have been updated.

It's possible to beat The Secret of Monkey Island in just a couple of hours if you go into the game armed with a complete solution. However, if you take the time to enjoy it and solve the puzzles yourself, it should last you anywhere between five and 10 hours. If you have a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle, two sticks of cinnamon, a length of rope, and 10 dollars in your pocket right now, the best advice we can give you is this: Spend the currency on The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition and then figure out for yourself what to do with the rest of that stuff.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

REVIEW : Battlefield 1943

The Battlefield series has been delivering great team-based multiplayer combat for many years, and Battlefield 1943 is the latest scion of this venerable franchise. Set in the Pacific theater of WWII, Battlefield 1943 pits the forces of Imperial Japan and the United States against each other in online matches that support up to 24 players. While this downloadable game features a small number of maps and only three soldier classes, it still captures the thrill of the best multiplayer shooters through well-balanced, varied, and exciting gameplay. Though hindered by some technical issues and other sundry oddities, Battlefield 1943 is a great game that provides a lot of bang for your 1200 Microsoft points ($15).

The victory conditions will be familiar to veterans of the Battlefield series. Each team has a reinforcements bar that functions like a team health meter. The more team members die and respawn, the more this bar is depleted. When one team's bar is fully depleted, the game ends; but it's not quite that simple. Each map has five capture points. Holding these capture points will make each kill worth more and help you deplete your enemy's reinforcements bar faster. The action flows between and jumps around these points as teams struggle to take points from the enemy while defending their own. Players can respawn near any friendly capture point, meaning forces shift dynamically and the battlefield is constantly in flux. You'll regularly have to reassess and attack or defend as the situation warrants. It's rewarding to devise a tactical maneuver and execute it well (flank the enemy's defenses and clear your enemy out with grenades), and though things often don't go according to plan (your jeep is flung into the air by an explosive antitank round).

Unfortunately, coordinating such maneuvers with your teammates is a tough proposition. Voice chat is not fully functional. Sometimes you will be able to hear your teammates talking on an open channel no matter how far they are from you; other times, you will get only silence. If you join a squad (assigned randomly), you share a squad-only chat channel, but this channel is equally unreliable. The only people you can actually invite into your squad are players on your friends list. Xbox 360 players can join an Xbox Live party and chat without issues, but PlayStation 3 players have no such luck. These issues make advanced strategies difficult to coordinate, but after a few rounds, every player will have an idea of how to help the team out. And despite the chat issues, being in a squad is still tactically relevant, because you can spawn wherever your squadmates are (even in a moving vehicle, if there's a free seat). You can also tag a capture point to indicate where your teammates should rally, so even without open communication lines, you can still coordinate your efforts.

It's important to be mindful of the battlefield situation when you respawn because there are three different classes of soldier from which to choose. Each class has a unique weapons loadout that gives it certain strengths and weaknesses. The Infantry class carries a machine gun that is deadly in close quarters and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher that is great against enemy vehicles or structures. The Infantry soldier's repair ability makes him a good vehicle escort, but he is vulnerable if caught out in the open. The Rifleman class is the best antipersonnel unit and is deadly at all midrange distances. This soldier's grenades are good for clearing out trenches, but they aren't very effective against tanks. The Scout, armed with a scoped rifle, is the long-range specialist. His remote-detonated explosives can protect his back or booby-trap a road, but if either of the other classes gets close, the Scout is in trouble. Of course, there's always a trusty one-hit-kill melee weapon on hand, be it the wrench, the bayonet, or the sword. Each class can be equally satisfying and frustrating to play, depending on the situation, and players must spawn carefully and play to strengths of their class in order to be effective.

A good soldier doesn't just use the weapons he carries with him effectively, he takes advantage of everything at his disposal. Vehicles play a huge tactical role in Battlefield 1943, and they are fun to boot. On two of the three maps, all players initially spawn on aircraft carriers and must assault the island to gain capture points. Transport ships are a good way to get to solid ground, but savvy players can employ them later in the game to flank enemy positions. Jeeps are vulnerable to any explosives, but their speed can be crucial in both offensive and defensive situations. Tanks are great at repelling any vehicle-based assault and can be deadly to infantry, but the limited splash damage from their main cannon and lack of maneuverability paint a pretty big target on their sides. Fighter planes, by far the trickiest vehicle to control, can make very effective bombing and strafing runs when piloted by players who know how to set up an attack vector and have the hang of the touchy pitch and yaw controls. Lesser pilots will likely crash or be shot down, while others may go on paratrooper runs and drop in behind enemy lines. Vehicles are found at specific places on each map, and though they often end up destroyed, they respawn frequently enough that you'll never be able to omit them from your battle plans. In addition to their strategic importance, they really liven up the battlefield. You'll cheer when you see an enemy fighter crash into the trees after a daringly low flyover just as you'll curse when you see a tank come up the hillside as you try to defend a point.

There are also fixed gun positions around each of the three maps that can be very powerful, though using them leaves you vulnerable to sniper fire. Antiaircraft guns can bring down pesky planes and worry certain ground targets, while mounted machine guns will cut down any infantry unlucky enough to cross their path. There's also one particular bunker on each map where you can summon an air raid. You'll then control a three-plane bomber wing and get to drop a seriously explosive payload on one area of the map, provided you can steer the not-so-maneuverable wing and aren't shot down by AA fire. The high-altitude viewpoint is a nice change of pace, and watching your bombs explode is a real thrill--so much so that some players make a habit of camping near the air raid so they can hop in every time it becomes available.

The air raid will often take out entire villages, leaving a flaming pile of rubble where protective houses used to stand. Throughout the course of the battle, structures get destroyed, trees are leveled, and even the roads become pocked with craters where the bombs have fallen. This destructibility is not only visually impressive, but it also has strategic ramifications. Felled trees can't obstruct a sniper's sight line, blasted walls offer poor cover, and you can't drive over a bridge that has been blown up. Crashing through trees in your tank en route to capture a point is morbidly satisfying, but it also paves the way for a speedy jeep counterassault. The battlefield reflects the ravages of your conflict and becomes all the more dangerous with each passing moment.

The three maps are well designed and offer a number of ways to attack or defend a given position. A fourth map will be unlocked for each console when players of that console's version reach 43 million total kills, delivering a new plane-heavy mode called Air Superiority. In addition to the voice chat problems, there are still some lingering issues from the game's problematic launch, such as team-balancing problems on the PS3 and occasional graphical oddities on the Xbox 360. Despite these issues and regardless of the promise of future content, this is still a great game. The balanced classes, diverse vehicles, and dynamic maps provide the kind of variety and replayability that is the hallmark of the most engaging online shooters, making Battlefield 1943 well worth the $15 asking price.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

NEWS Dragon Age: Origins Updated Impressions - Consequences and Consoles

For a lot of games these days, trying to make sense of the name's subtitle is nearly as big of a challenge as actually playing the thing. At first glance, Dragon Age: Origins might appear to have one of those cryptic subtitles, but the concept of "origins" actually plays a very big role in the game. Whether it's your protagonist or your party members, a character's history will significantly alter the adventure that plays out before you. That was the subject of a recent demo for this high-fantasy role-playing game as led by developer BioWare.

The demo's organization gave us a clear look at the differences that might arise between two typical parties. BioWare had a pair of monitors set up side by side, with what we'll refer to as Party A on the left and Party B on the right. Party A was led by a male human noble character, while the other was led by a female mage. Aside from the party member differences, the two systems were perfectly synched up, both picking up at a very specific point in the game. In this case, the two parties were attempting to cross a bridge to get to the Mage Tower, where they were seeking to recruit the help of friendly spellcasters to fight the scourge of the Darkspawn--the story's primary antagonist.

The trouble is that a guard was standing in the way preventing the two groups from crossing. This gave BioWare the chance to show us a couple of different negotiating strategies you might have depending on what type of party members you keep at your side. More specifically, how some of your party members' short-term and long-term histories can impact those strategies. Party B had a large, brutish fellow named Sten. It turns out that Sten stole himself some cookies from an overweight child in the last town the party had visited. It also turns out that this guard loves cookies, so they were able to pass before Sten had to get violent. Party A had a seductive female mage named Morrigan who was able to earn the guard's favor by, well, leveraging her sexuality in a way Sten was ill equipped to do.

Once in the tower, the pair of teams ran into another roadblock in the form of a mage named Wynne. She was something of a blast from the past to one of the parties and a complete stranger to the other. Because Wynne and Morrigan were mages, they were already well acquainted. However, the other party had no mages; thus, no one recognized this woman. Wynne's past with Morrigan was quite a rocky one, with tensions between the two quickly rising to the surface. Those tensions soon erupted as Morrigan's party and Wynne's group of mages got into a fight that left the poor old woman dead in her tracks.

What was the other option in this situation? About as stark of a contrast as you could expect. Party B didn't have anyone in its crew who had a history with Wynne, and after a bit of back and forth about the current state of the Mage Tower, which was being overrun by monsters, Party B decides to allow Wynne to join. Wynne winds up being one of the most powerful healers you could have possibly recruited into your ranks, which was clearly evident in the next boss battle. Party B was able to attack the beast head-on and let Wynne heal them from a distance, while Party A--the team that had Wynne killed--had to go at it with more of a cautious approach, having no skilled healers in its ranks. Yes, some of the consequences of having certain party members along with you can be as lighthearted as a joke about cookies or as powerful as being able to alter your entire boss-fighting strategy.

With this PC demo completed, BioWare gave us the chance to spend a little time with the console version of the game running on the Xbox 360. Anyone who's played BioWare's last console effort, Mass Effect, should feel pretty familiar with the way BioWare's transitioned Dragon Age's controls from mouse and keyboard to standard controller. Specifically, that means you'll be pulling up a radial menu during the heat of battle that allows you time to examine your spells, equipment, and abilities while leaving the action paused. The targeting system was rather finicky, but BioWare was quick to point out that this was something that's still being heavily tweaked. Altogether, the console version looked solid and only a small notch or two below the PC version in terms of graphical quality.

The console demo was just a brief boss fight, so it didn't give us a chance to really get into the differences between each version of Dragon Age. We should have more of an opportunity to do that in the upcoming months leading up to Dragon Age's October 20 release date.
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Review : Blood Bowl

Have you ever thought that American football could use even more primal energy and a bit of fantasy violence? Have you ever thought, "This sport is fine, but what it really needs is a couple of rat ogres clawing at each other." If so, good news: Blood Bowl is for you. This adaptation of the Warhammer-themed board game pits your team against another and encourages players to digitally pound each other into a pulp (oh, and perhaps even score a few touchdowns as well). It's fun and addictive because the board game is fun and addictive, so expect to spend many an hour glued to your monitor, cheering and cursing. However, an unfriendly interface, problematic AI, and a few other issues tackle Blood Bowl just short of the end zone.

If you've never heard of the Blood Bowl board game, the idea of turn-based football within the Warhammer universe may sound a bit bizarre. Nevertheless, the game is surprisingly compelling--maybe because the raucous violence of Warhammer and the testosterone-fueled swagger of the signature American sport make such compatible bedfellows. In any case, you choose a team from a variety of Warhammer races--dwarf, skaven, wood elf, and so on--and go up against the AI or another player to prove your dominance. If you're an American football fan, you will need to make some mental adjustments before you can wrap your head around the terms and rules. What constitutes a turnover in your head isn't a Blood Bowl turnover (here, it means that your turn is over, not that you have relinquished ball possession); there are no downs, field goals, or two-point conversions; and touchdowns are worth a single point. If you're a newcomer, don't expect the inadequate tutorials to be any help--just play a bunch of matches until you get used to the intricacies of dice rolls, how cheerleaders affect gameplay, and all sorts of other small but important details.

There are a number of ways to play, both online and off, though the classic turn-based rules provide the best experience. The Campaign mode is the most enjoyable of the offline modes: you guide your team through a series of matches and level up your players, which in turn lets you choose special abilities for them. Early play sticks to the essentials. You get limited time to perform your turn, during which you maneuver your players about the field in individual turns of their own. The basic flow is similar to American football and starts with a kickoff, at which point the receiving team attempts to score a touchdown while the defenders try to gain possession, or at least hold the opposition off until the half. Individual players can knock each other down, push each other back on the grid, and cause injuries, all while you try to run and pass the ball down the field.

Even in the early hours of a campaign or a competition, Blood Bowl is exciting. Dice rolls occur almost every time two players interact, making even the smallest acts, like running past a defender or tackling the ball carrier, tense moments. The gong that resonates dramatically when you relinquish your turn during a risky play will start to make your stomach drop, but pulling off a dicey move may cause you to cheer, or at least breathe a sigh of relief. As your characters level up, the tension continues to mount, and players will benefit from their improved skills and attributes. With the right skills, you can pick up a teammate and throw him down the field, strip the ball from the carrier, or receive dodge bonuses. The more elaborate the possibilities become, the more engaging the matches are--and the more obvious the differences between each playable race become. Leveling up players is a slow process, but it provides a distinct sense of progression that adds to the "just-one-more-game" compulsion.

This addictive, nerve-wracking gameplay is what makes the board game such a cult hit and, in turn, what makes matches in this adaptation so much fun. But when you look at Blood Bowl as a video game, it's less impressive. The menus are disorganized and obtuse. Simple actions such as progressing to the next screen, distributing funds, and choosing formations aren't player-friendly, either because it's unclear that clicking a button will pull down a menu, the screen is too cluttered, or because buttons are poorly labeled. The poor tutorial and jumbled interface deliver a poor first impression, and even once you get used to them, they feel like dead weight designed to keep out newcomers. If you're new to Blood Bowl, you'll be able to get past these issues, but it'll take a bit of time to get accustomed

Going online doesn't ease the annoyance--it only exacerbates it. There is a public league and a large number of private leagues to join, but working your way through the unfriendly interface is a chore. Even then, you can't play a friend online in a simple one-off game unless you are a member of the same league and dig into the challenge menu to find him or her. You can use the LAN menu to direct-connect to a buddy via IP address, but not having an easy option for online play outside of leagues is all sorts of silly. LAN play and hotseat play for two players at a single computer are terrific features, but they can't make up for an important online feature gone missing.

The leagues, however, still offer thrilling competitive play. The public league is your best bet for competition, and it uses standard Blood Bowl 5.0 rules. The basic rules remain the same as in the single-player game as you move your way up the ranks, and as you would expect, matches against human players are challenging. You'll face competition from all over the world, and many of your competitors have a firm grasp of the rules, and of the strengths and weaknesses of each race. In the single-player game, the AI is all over the place. Your CPU opponent may clump players together and give your ball carrier a chance to run through an opening unscathed. Other times, dice rolls feel clearly stacked in the AI's favor, as if to make up for its deficiencies. League matches present no such issues, so expect your rival to take advantage of every weakness and every opening. Expect challengers to use a greater variety of formations than the AI, and to deftly position each player on the field. And accordingly, expect anxiety every time a player moves and joy every time a gamble pays off. The risk-to-reward ratio in Blood Bowl is deftly handled and makes online play in particular both demanding and exciting.

If you want to explore the game outside of the classic turn-based play, you can mess around with other customizable rules and options, the most intriguing of which, at least initially, is real-time play. Sadly, what sounds like a great idea is in reality a chaotic, unsatisfying mess. You can set various AI behaviors for your players, but matches feel out of control, and it becomes quickly obvious that attributes that make sense on a turn-by-turn basis don't translate well to a real-time environment. For example, the movement attribute is an important aspect of turn-based play that effects how far a player can travel in a single turn. In real-time play, you'd think this would translate to speed, but there is little difference in speed between players you'd think should be quick and those that shouldn't. The resulting disruptions to race balances, and the overall sense of disorder, keep real-time rules from being anything more than a quick diversion, and you'll probably be done with real-time play after one or two muddled matches.

Blood Bowl's production elements are not technically impressive, which makes the lengthy loading times leading up to every match all but inexplicable. However, the game does offer an authentic Warhammer experience, thanks to colorful representations of the board game miniatures and some cool-looking stadiums. The animations are simple, but some of them are still charming, such as the acrobatics the wood elves pull off when dodging a tackle. You can personalize your team if you want even more authenticity, using various uniform colors and emblems, but the options are limited, and in some cases, they don't look right. Team logos don't fit properly on the orc uniforms, and some races have more creation options (faces, warpaint, beards, etc.) than others, which is disappointing considering the important role customization plays in the board game. The sound design also gets the job done, but with a major drawback: the commentary is awful. The actors' voices are annoying and they deliver the same cringe-worthy quips over and over again. There was a huge opportunity here to explore the violent wit that characterizes the Warhammer brand, but it was left unexplored.

Blood Bowl's drawbacks are such that the board game faithful will grin and bear them simply because the core turn-based strategizing is so good. Each match is a tense, tactical standoff, and the game will keep you up past your bedtime because it's so hard to pull yourself away. However, the aspects that weren't culled from the board game--the interface, the commentary, the bizarre real-time matches--feel messy and improvised. Nevertheless, Blood Bowl is good fun, even if it doesn't deliver on its full potential.
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Update : Shin Megami Tensei

In the past 12 years, the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series has garnered a rabid fan following. But for new fans who want to start from the beginning, it's not easy to get a hold of the original game. Atlus is once again relocalizing Persona for North American audiences, but this time, it will be on the PlayStation Portable with new additions and slight gameplay changes. At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, we were only able to play through a brief battle sequence, but an Atlus rep came by our office recently to walk us through the intro and go over some of the familiar battle mechanics.

For those who discovered the niche series with Persona 3 and 4, one important thing to note is that the original Persona is more of a traditional role-playing game than an RPG/social simulator. The original set the tone of the series with its dark and eerie storyline, as well as the introduction of personae: spirits that can be summoned by a character to aid in battle. Persona's story begins with a group of high school students who--through some bizarre circumstances--get knocked unconscious by a mysterious force and wake up with the ability to summon their own personae. You play as one of the young students (whom you will get to name) who wakes up in the school's infirmary with a newfound power. One of your first thoughts is to see your friend Maki, a frail, bedridden girl who has spent much of her life in the hospital. Things start to get a little strange here because the hospital is suddenly invaded by demons and the sterile hallways turn into a maze where random battles await.

Persona feels like an old-school RPG, especially when you're navigating in a first-person view down the long, empty corridors, but most of the game is in the third-person view. A helpful minimap is displayed in the bottom corner to help track your progress through the area while fighting one random battle after another. The frequency of battles and difficulty will be the same as in the Japanese version of the game. The reasoning behind this has to do with the fact that Atlus wanted to keep the difficulty at the same level as the original. Fights are turn-based, but if you're grinding or uninterested in paying much attention, you can have the AI take over or set your own criteria, letting the battle unfold automatically and quickly. During these auto-fights, animations are skipped so battles will go by extremely fast. This is a nice feature if you don't want to micromanage every encounter and make it less tedious for those who don't like grinding.

You don't always have to fight when you come across demons though. To recruit personae to fight on your side, you can contact a demon during a fight and pick from a list of verbs to change its mood. The demon's traits, as well as mood level, are displayed onscreen so you can decide whether you want to sing to it or bully it into joining your team by raising its eagerness level. If you can raise the demon's eagerness, it will leave you its tarot card and the battle ends. By making it happy, the demon may leave behind helpful items so it's always in your best interest to encourage it to be happy or eager. We're not even sure we want to know what happens when a demon becomes angry or scared. Sometimes you'll have to give up your own items or health to seal the deal, but recruiting new personae is important for potential persona fusion.

Animated cutscenes, as well as voice acting, have been added to this version to help bring the bizarre story and its inhabitants to life. The dialogue has been relocalized by the current Atlus team, and the game is now in widescreen with higher resolution art. Other changes include a new over-world map and a new interface that will display more helpful information. The circle button can be used to run, and the start button will skip summoning and speed up battle animations. Fans will notice that Persona's soundtrack has also received a makeover. The music has been entirely redone by Shoji Meguro, so it's going to have that Japanese pop vibe, which is similar to the recent Persona games. Atlus also announced that the original Japanese soundtrack will be bundled with the game when it ships. One last addition--which will only be noticeable to those who were familiar with the Japanese version, as well as the original North American version--is that the snow queen quest has been re-added.

Our time with SMT: Persona was brief, but we were happy with what we saw and hope to get more hands-on time in the following weeks. It's great that Atlus is bringing these older games to the handheld so that a new generation of Persona fans can play them for the first time. Look for Shin Megami Tensei: Persona when it is released September 22.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

NEWS 2009 : Tales of Monkey Island: Episode One Impressions

NEWS INFO : The first episode of Telltale Games' new episodic game series, Tales of Monkey Island, is available today, though not quite in the way you might imagine. For the one-time purchase price of $34.95, you get all five of the episodes delivered monthly as they are released. So, to play the first episode, Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, you'll have to purchase every other episode in advance. This structure precludes us from being able to evaluate the game according to our ratings system because we can't assess whether the purchase price is worth it without playing every episode. We have, however, played Launch of the Screaming Narwhal to completion, and the following are our impressions of the first episode in the new Tales of Monkey Island adventure series.

Launch of the Screaming Narwhal begins where you might expect an adventure game to end. The hero (Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate) is about to rescue the girl (his wife, Elaine) and defeat the nefarious villain (LeChuck, evil poxed pirate). These characters, as well as a few more you'll meet along the way, are carried through from the first four games in the Monkey Island series, and fans of those games will find references to those and other LucasArts adventures peppered throughout the new episode. Fortunately, Narwhal's humor doesn't rely too much on the past, and most of the jokes are accessible to first-time Islanders. While the game is rarely laugh-out-loud funny, it maintains a fairly constant level of cleverness that is sure to elicit some chuckles, more than a few groans, and plenty of wry smiles--a style reminiscent of LucasArts' adventure classics.

After his villain-vanquishing efforts go awry, Guybrush finds himself stranded on Flotsam Island. It's here that your adventuring really begins, and you set about exploring the town and surrounding jungle, chatting up locals, and picking up anything that isn't nailed down. You can walk around using the keyboard or the mouse. The movement controls aren't quite point-and-click: You hold down the left mouse button and slide the mouse gently to determine the direction in which you want to walk. It's a bit finicky at first, but it works well once you get the hang of it, though you might want to switch to the keyboard occasionally to avoid index-finger fatigue. You can also hold the right mouse button or the Shift key to run, which is a welcome feature when you're traversing familiar territory yet again.

Though Flotsam Island isn't very big, there are a good number of puzzles to solve and intrigues to unravel. Speaking with the locals will get you started, and though there are an oddly limited number of character models (fat or skinny, and that's about it), each one is distinctly garbed and has his own weird personality. Your early adventures establish you as a pirate of distinction on this tiny backwater as you start a bar fight, discover buried treasure, and commandeer a ship. Of course, you accomplish these tasks in goofy roundabout ways that provide plenty of opportunities for clever item use and general silliness. Usually, it won't be too hard to puzzle out what to do next, but if you get really stuck, you can ratchet up the hint frequency and Guybrush will chime in with helpful observations to steer you in the right direction.

Your later adventures includ two characters that are bound to recur throughout the Tales of Monkey Island series, and dealing with them is appreciably more entertaining. They have more robustly eccentric personalities and help set the course for not only your escape from Flotsam Island, but also future episodes. The presence of multiple episode-spanning intrigues bodes well for the future of the series, and you'll likely be looking forward to the next one (The Siege of Spinner Cay) when you finish Launch of the Screaming Narwhal.

While it doesn't quite herald a new golden age of adventure gaming, the first episode of Tales of Monkey Island is funny and engaging enough to entertain for the few hours that it lasts. Fans of the Monkey Island series will get a kick out of the old references and familiar characters, while newcomers will find a clever adventure that kicks off the episodic run with style.
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NEWS UPDATE : Command & Conquer: A Retrospective

The Command & Conquer game series has been around for nearly 15 years--arguably longer if you care to trace the game's roots back to the very beginnings. The series has come to be associated with both modern strategy games and the classic real-time strategy games of yesteryear, which saw their first days with games like Herzog Zwei for the Sega Genesis and Dune II for home computers. And Dune II, a game based partially on David Lynch's motion-picture interpretation of the classic Frank Herbert novel, begat Command & Conquer.

This started a chain of events that led to modern real-time strategy as we know it, including building bases, harvesting resources, climbing the tech tree, and commissioning armies. And from there, we've seen more than 10 years of Command & Conquer and all that we've come to associate with the series. Tanks, harvesting Tiberium resource crystals, fast-paced online multiplayer, commando units, top-level superweapons, tanks, electro-squids, tanks, actor/director Joe Kucan as series villain Kane, parachuting Soviet attack bears, tanks, robo-dolphins, former pro wrestling champion Ric Flair, former Dr. Frank-N-Furter Tim Curry, and perhaps most importantly of all: tanks. And now that nearly 15 years have elapsed since the first Command & Conquer game, what better time to recap the history of this long-lived series? Let's take a look. Part one of our feature will cover the series up to 2001, while part two will cover more-recent entries in the series.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Full Action take

Loss of vision does not mean the end of the world. Hijikata Mamoru proved. Although I can not see the colorful world, life is full of color Mamoru. Especially after he met with Touyama Haruka.

Through its ability to predict the future, know that Haruka Mamoru can protect. Therefore, ask Haruka Mamoru remained in the sides to death.

Eits, do not imagine the scene hurried romance romantic lho! For, Mamoru-life story of Haruka told Hiroshi Takashige in Shi ga Futari o Wakatsu Made (ShigaFuta, Until Death Do Us Part) is not semulus people. Each time a danger threatening. In fact, not infrequently be staked their lives.

Takashige are not the problem in his mourning. Conversely, a serial published in Young Gangan this full action. Fight scenes never absent in each of its chapter. His ShigaFuta indeed it is for the readers.

Takashige story is built with the very focus. No side story which is inserted mangaka for relaxing aura of tension. ShigaFuta with intense adrenalin stimulate readers. Each chapter is always ended with a scene that makes hair.

The technology used PLAYERS still reasonable. Almost all the technology in ShigaFuta can be explained scientifically. Including eyeglasses spe-off property Mamoru can detect enemy movements.

Instead of inserting dialogue length, Takashige supported Double-S to select the artwork affairs show picture language. Artwork is clean and adequate detail for the size of shonen manga. Double-S to take advantage of each panel is very effective.

Attacks in the action scenes throughout the story, of course, bringing potential critics. Takashige sharp enough to face. Moral message is still legible in ShigaFuta. Mamoru, the main character, is unbeatable in the affairs sword. He can kill the opponent with a very easy when you want. But, the former criminal is killed because their teachers do not. Mamoru-founded, it will make it the same with the faces of criminals.

The development of each of these figures are not too many get a portion. However, Takashige put it carefully in some of the last chapter. Mamoru initially start antisocial can receive attendance Haruka. Similarly, Haruka, who is now the passive can maintain itself in a critical time.

ShigaFuta has published nine volumes of tankoubon. Until this paper revealed, ShigaFuta still ongoing.
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News, Prototype

You are Alex Mercer, a shape-shifting, human-consuming, one-man army. And yet, even with these powers, you'll be facing some of the most challenging (or some may say frustrating) missions in any open-world game--and that's where we come in. With our guide at your side, we'll ensure you put your superpowers to good use in order to save Manhattan…and yourself.
Here's what you'll find in GameSpot's Prototype Game Guide:

  • General Tips: Check out our tips for venturing through the city.
  • Walkthrough: Prototype's tough, but we're tougher. Find out how to complete each of the game's missions with our walkthrough.
  • Xbox 360 Achievements: Learn how to obtain Prototype's achievements.
  • PlayStation 3 Trophies: Want some of those sweet PS3 trophies? Here you go!


Prototype is built around consuming people. That is, you can consume almost anyone you encounter on the streets by simply grabbing them and tapping the "consume" button. Doing so not only refills your health, but it also allows you to assume that person's identity and use it as a disguise.


One of the key elements to survival in Prototype is using disguises to remain undercover. You'll gain disguises by consuming people of certain types--for instance, if you consume a soldier, you'll be able to assume his identity, allowing you to infiltrate bases unbothered. Now your disguise will remain effective so long as you don't tip off your enemies by attacking or consuming them. Virtually anything else is fair game though, so feel free to run up buildings, glide across the city, and make leaps several stories tall--none of this seems suspicious in this city. New Yorkers...nothing surprises them anymore, huh?

The disguise meter, located just right of the map, displays whether your disguise has been compromised or not. The shutter at the bottom of the meter displays if the enemy can currently see you: if it's open, you're in their sights; if it's closed, you're as good as invisible. If the shutter is open, and the enemy spots you doing something suspicious, such as attacking their friends or using special powers (oddly, climbing walls doesn't arouse suspicion), the meter just above will begin to fill. If it fills completely and turns red, your disguise is no longer effective and the enemy will open fire. To reduce the meter, find a hiding place where the enemy can't see you (such as under a bridge, in a thin alley, etc)! Once there, you can expedite the process by swapping into a non-compromised disguise--if this option is available, a "switch" icon will appear just above the map. To help you stay aware of your surroundings, the mini-map highlights enemies in one of three colors, indicating their awareness level of you. White represents enemies that currently cannot see you, yellow represents those who can, whereas red indicates an enemy who's aware of your presence and will open fire.


As you play Prototype, you'll earn evolution points by consuming people, completing missions, killing enemies, and more. You can then cash in these evolution points on the "Upgrade" screen of the pause menu. Here, you can unlock various new abilities or improve your current skills or defensive abilities.

While the skills you choose to upgrade is ultimately up to you, we do have a few suggestions. First, we strongly recommend upgrading your "Survivability" skills first, such as by purchasing Health Boosts, Health Regeneration, and improving your Critical Mass ability. Following that, we also suggest upgrading your sprint speed under "Movement" to increase your chances of escaping the strike teams. Finally, once you unlock the Whipfist power, it's best to purchase its two enhancements, the first of which allows you to quickly take out groups of enemies, while the second makes it immensely easier to skyjack helicopters.


Kill the Military Personnel

The local military's acting up and need to be taught a lesson. They're all nearby, though they're also marked on your radar (as red dots) if you need additional help to track them down. Now's a good time to try out your basic combat skills: Attack and Special Attacks. Attacks are quicker, but Special Attacks are stronger. Either can be charged by holding down their respective button to unleash a more powerful attack. In addition, the attacks can be linked together in various ways to form combos. Thankfully, these guys are weak (or rather, you're really strong), so it should only take a few attacks to take down each one.

Go to Times Square

Follow the on-screen marker to locate Times Square. To speed up the process, try Sprinting with the Right-Trigger, allowing you to zoom up over obstacles, such as cars and even buildings!

Kill the Military Personnel

Once at Times Square, you'll have to destroy some more military members. Join them on street level and tear them apart using your standard attacks, though your Special 'Claw' Attack is great for groups. Remember to use your radar to track down all the enemies.

Destroy the Tanks

Afterward, follow the marker on-screen to encounter a group of four tanks. Run up to each one and attack it until it's destroyed--it should only take about two hits each.

Kill the Hunters

Just ahead in Times Square, a bunch of creatures known as Hunters will storm in. Because there are so many, you may want to try out the lock-on feature (by holding Left-Trigger), allowing you to hone in and focus on a single enemy--standard attacks should work fine for the most part. As for the tanks and other enemies, you can simply ignore them.

Consume the Commander

Dash up the street to the commander (as marked on-screen), grab him, then consume him by pressing the button shown on-screen. This will conclude your first mission.

Escape the Gentek Facility

Jump over the Gate to Escape

To escape the facility, perform a charged jump over the gate. To perform a charged jump, simply hold the "jump" button for a few seconds before releasing to increase the height of your jump. Now dart up the street toward the on-screen marker.

Destroy the Helicopter

After picking up the Taxi, you'll discover that you can use the Right-Stick to switch targets while locked-on. In this case, you should target the helicopter, then toss the Taxi at it by tapping the "Grab/Throw" button, taking it down.

Get to Higher Ground

With the helicopter destroyed, use your Sprint ability to dart up a couple of buildings, as marked on-screen. You can expedite the process by performing charged jumps as you dart up the walls.

Destroy the Helicopters

Once on the roof, some helicopters will swoop in. Grab the nearby air-conditioning blocks and use them to take down the helicoptersl by locking on and throwing them as they swoop by overhead.

Look for Clues About Your Past

Consume the Blackwatch Commander

Grab the commander as he approaches and consume him. You can now assume his identity at any time either by using the "Power Select" menu, or pressing left on the control-pad.

Go to Dana's Apartment // Go to the Overlook to Investigate the Area

Proceed down the street to the rooftop that's marked on-screen. Once there, hop over to nearby rooftop and step into the cone of light to trigger the next sequence.

Disguise MeterThe disguise meter, located just right of the map, displays whether your disguise has been compromised or not. The shutter at the bottom of the meter displays whether the enemy can currently see you: if it's open, you're in their sights; if it's closed, you're as good as invisible. If the shutter is open, and the enemy spots you doing something suspicious, such as attacking their friends or using special powers (oddly, climbing walls doesn't arouse suspicion), the meter just above will begin to fill. If it fills completely and turns red, your disguise is no longer effective and the enemy will open fire. To reduce the meter, find a hiding place where the enemy can't see you! Once there, you can expedite the process by swapping into a non-compromised disguise--if this option is available, a "switch" icon will appear just above the map. To help you stay aware of your surroundings, the mini-map highlights enemies in one of three colors, indicating their awareness level of you. White represents enemies that currently cannot see you, yellow represents those who can, whereas red indicates an enemy who's aware of your presence and will open fire.

Enter Dana's Apartment without Raising an Alert

Before dropping to the street, switch into your Commander disguise (press left on the Control Pad) to avoid arousing the enemy. Now drop down and enter Dana's apartment via the cone of light--make sure not to attack the soldiers along the way, otherwise they'll figure out who you are.
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Friday, July 3, 2009

News, Alpha Protocol initiated for October 6

Sega and Obsidian Entertainment's wetwork-heavy stealth RPG dated for this fall on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

Sega officially listed Obsidian Entertainment's Aliens-inspired role-playing game as KIA last week, but a similar fate isn't in store for the duo's other project, Alpha Protocol. Today, Sega announced that Alpha Protocol will be available in North America for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on October 6.

The virus button has many unique and exciting uses.

Alpha Protocol weaves a story not unlike Robert Ludlum's popular Jason Bourne novels. The RPG's plot follows Michael Thorton, a secret agent who has turned rogue after being disavowed by his government. However, given that the game accommodates a branching storyline a la BioWare's sci-fi RPG Mass Effect, players can assume a variety of undercover personas, ranging from a suave James Bond-style spy to one like the maniacal Jack Bauer of 24 fame.

Obsidian is also at work on Fallout: New Vegas for Fallout 3 creator Bethesda Softworks. While not a direct sequel to Bethesda's well-received Fallout 3, New Vegas will stick to that game's RPG format.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

News : Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Review

HELLO... Tiger Woods 10 for the Wii is as close as you can get to a golf course without paying green fees

Thanks to Wii MotionPlus and Precision Putting, greens are no longer a source of unnecessary frustration.

Last year, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play for the Nintendo Wii just missed the green. Despite its mostly stellar re-creation of a real golf swing with the Wii Remote, annoying issues with putting sensitivity cost it a couple of strokes. That isn't a problem anymore. The 2010 edition of Tiger is as close to perfect as any golf game ever made, with dead-on swing mechanics thanks to fine-tuned controls and the use of the new Wii MotionPlus add-on. This is a brilliant re-creation of real golf, loaded with little touches and tweaks that make it an addictive pastime whether you're a low handicapper, a weekend hacker, or a first-timer who doesn't know one end of a putter from the other. In short, videogame golf doesn't get any better than this.

With that said, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is more of an intensive refinement of last year's game than an overhaul. You can't slam the game for suffering from sequelitis, though, because the many changes improve the quality of play across the board. The most noteworthy upgrade is of course the controls. As in the 09 game, gripping and ripping are still handled with the Wii Remote, although you can attach a nunchuk and swing in a more traditional videogame fashion if you prefer. To take a shot, you simply stand up, take the remote in both hands like a real golf club, and then go through a lifelike swing motion to blast little dimpled balls into the great blue yonder. It's all very realistic and addictive, and the challenge is almost on a par with real golf. The lack of a ball on your floor is the only thing spoiling the illusion, because in real golf you need to keep your head down when swinging, while here you find yourself torn between keeping your head tucked away properly and watching the screen to see if your movements are being accurately tracked by your avatar.

And they almost always are. The addition of Wii MotionPlus support has made swing sensitivity more authentic than it was last year. Simply plug the MotionPlus hardware (available both separately and in a special cut-price combo pack with Tiger 10) into the base of the remote, and every little wiggle and waggle of the controller is perfectly mimicked onscreen. This is particularly vital when it comes to approach shots and putting. Last year, Tiger 09 came up a little short in these areas. Lack of remote sensitivity occasionally made playing around holes an exercise in frustration. Approach shots from under 100 yards were tough to finesse, and putting required an absurd amount of effort to get even routine flat-lie 15-footers to the cup. At times, it didn't seem possible to even hit the ball hard enough to get it to the hole. This put you in bizarre situations where you had to swing the remote like you were wielding a driver, and it required adopting a lag-putting philosophy from distances as close in as 30 feet.

Neither are problems anymore. Greater control sensitivity allows you to put a more accurate touch on the ball on approach shots, letting you better handle in-close situations where you need to take a little off your swing to get close to the pin. Turning the remote even slightly is now all that you need to do to perform a fade or draw shot, which is often necessary when you're shooting for the green. Putting is completely different this year. The new Precision Putting mechanic causes the onscreen putter to move with every little twitch of the remote, allowing you to apply the same amount of oomph here that you would use on a real golf course. If you have any experience with putting in the real world, you don't even need to look up at the screen to putt; just check the distance and lie, and then lock your head to the ground just like you would on a real green and shoot. Tap-ins are tap-ins. Ten-footers are ten-footers. Sixty-footers are sixty-footers. These improvements are even noticeable without the MotionPlus gadget installed, although club responsiveness is noticeably better with it in place. The bottom line is that you no longer need to worry about clunky controls, just the greens. They are a real handful, too, with a lot of sculpted features and the kind of incredible speed that gives nightmares to even the finest PGA Tour pros.

Multiplayer tournaments give Tiger 10 a much beefier online presence than it had last year.

Tiburon also took care of some feature oversights and made Tiger 10 a more comprehensive package. Basic golf-game accoutrements have been rounded out. There are three difficulty settings, which run from kid-friendly to a grueling advanced level that's nitpicky about swing movements and removes such crutches as the putting meter (which, oddly enough, doesn't make much of a difference to gameplay due to the outstanding controller sensitivity when putting). The game now includes 27 courses, among them seven newcomers, including Bethpage Black and Banff Springs. Career mode has been beefed up with a more comprehensive player creator and the ability to play in the previously absent US Open.

Online support has been greatly enhanced. You can take on fellow golfers over the Net in solo matches, as you could last year, as well as take part in daily and weekly tournaments in which your rounds are recorded and then posted to a leaderboard. You even get a chance to rehit rounds from the first tee if you get to the end of the back nine and aren't happy with your score. Tournies are categorized for rookie and advanced players, which does a good job of keeping the scrubs apart from the sharps. Don't go anywhere near the advanced tournaments if you lack the chops to shoot rounds in the 60s and 70s. Either way, you need to put in a lot of time building up a character's skills before you can really be competitive online, or even offline against a more experienced buddy.

Another nifty online treat is real-time course weather courtesy of The Weather Channel. If you turn this option on, you play with the actual weather conditions noted at the time of your round. So if it's overcast and blustery at Torrey Pines in the real world, it's overcast and blustery at Torrey Pines in your living room. You can also play along with PGA tournaments as they take place in the real world, comparing scores with the likes of Tiger himself. Golf Party minigames are back again this year, along with the Wii-exclusive Disc Golf. The latter game is goofy and addictive, although perhaps a bit out of place. It's hard to imagine casual gamers buying Tiger 10 just for this novelty, but it adds to the package and is at least a good game for the family. The motion controls are also so accurate that you might as well be throwing a real Frisbee in the park.

Some courses are beautiful to behold in spots, although there are enough jaggies that you might not want to look too close.

This is one of the better-looking Wii sports games out there, with some holes that look pretty when viewed from the right angles. But there are loads of visual jaggies on golfer models and trees, and spectators look like performance-art pyramidal sculptures. The sound quality is much better, at least. There is a ton of commentary here and a tremendous number of atmospheric effects. The lack of Dolby Digital 5.1 support is barely noticeable during tournaments, because the crowd noise swells up all around you in the aftermath of a great shot. About the only quibble would be with the unnecessarily punitive commentary. A double bogey is punishment enough without the incessant wisecracks.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 has turned last year's great near-miss into an all-time classic. Improved motion-control support, more game features, and expanded online modes make it incredibly immersive and authentic. Golf games just don't get any better than this.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wii “Last-gen” for Port Game XBox 360

From San Francisco (CA) that made the director of the Creative Studio Triumph Wii has stated that "last-gen" can be used directly using the game port of the Xbox 360.

In response to these statements, as sas Lennart delivered to OXM UK, basically the key selling point is the Wii Wii controls itself. Indeed throughout the game made it. However, Wii is for the weak graphics and processing technology on the "last-gen". Thus, adjustments must be made to the game the best on the strength of the Wii is wii-mote. Therefore, he may not think that can be connected directly to the port. In addition, the limitations on graphics and processing technology is desired.

Should be noted is that a number of Xbox 360 games including the Godfather, Guitar Hero, and Harry Potter, has been experiencing adjustment or even a contraction in the Wii's limitations that exist. However, will soon present other major titles such as Grinder, Conduit and Gladiator AD that may help convince the veteran gamers who have the Wii is able to become more than just a game console that only family-oriented. Indeed, during this game console has been often criticized on the lack of extensive selection FPS, adventure and action game that is.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Game : Ninja Blade


This game relate to the city of Tokyo in the modern century, where the parasites mysterious outbreak spread and infect the population in the city. Organism infected by a mysterious parasite will change them into mutant. And a group of ninja assigned by the government to overcome the virus. Players will control a Ninja named Ken Ogawa. This game offers a total of 9 missions with multiple difficulty levels to choose from. Indeed, the game in this game is quite short.

There are 2 types of attacks in this game, that is, light attack and strong attack. Players simply by pressing the button many times and combining with other key issue for the moment the sword of death on the enemies, as in the game Devil May Cry and Ninja gaiden. Ken Ogawa and can also repel the attack of the opponent, ran fast, ran on the wall, to have Ninja Vision ability to see the enemy hiding objects or objects that have hidden items. Ninja Vision at work, time will run with the slower, and players can use that can easily avoid enemy attacks.

Ken Ogawa weapons with some of the sword, among OniSlayer Blade, Sword Stonerender, and Falcon Twin Blades. Sword has distinctive advantages and disadvantages, such as swords Falcon Twin Blades have high speed so that it is suitable to cut the number of enemies in this sword and many can restore long-distance attack enemies. But the sword is not strong to cut the enemy using the shield. While the sword Stonerender Sword has a slow speed but very powerful. Able to cleave this swords and shield wall. So his level game, players will busy with mengonta only change the type of sword by pressing the button direction only.

In addition, Ken Ogawa also use a Ninjutsu weapons, shuriken that has similar elements of electricity, fire, and air. Function on the elements of Ninjutsu has an important role in the proceeding to the next level. Where, players must complete a simple puzzle, such as using the fire element Ninjutsu to blow tentakel a road block, using the elements of shuriken fire air to blow away the blocked road, etc..

Sword and ninjutsu, Ken Ogawa property can also be upgraded by collecting Blood Crystals along the game. When the inventory menu, players can upgrade the sword, ninjutsu, and use the adrenalin boost to improve the speed and the item First Aid Spray to restore the entire health meter on Ken Ogawa. In addition, players can also be cut or drum kit is available at the level throughout the game. Collecting point for health. When health meter starts low, players will see the game screen becomes blurred and the speed of moving into Ken Ogawa feels slow.

Faced the enemy in this game vary with different levels of difficulty, ranging from the usual mutant, and mutant with a shield, the mutant that has the speed to move in there that can fly. Moreover, each level in this game, players will meet with the Boss Battle of the giant and varied. To beat Boss Battle will have a distinctive way and gradually.

Such as time, against Boss Battle, which is called Carrion Claw. Players have to attack his leg scara constantly until the skin broke out so that the hard meat visible. Then the attack continue to drop out of his leg and causing the fall Carrion Claw touch the ground. Then on the Hajar hold his head up to the health meter runs out. And then immediately ran to the head Carrion Claw Segitiga and press the button to do the finishing move in normal or sinematik action is also called Quick Time Event. Where the player must press a few buttons - the button the screen that appears. As the game God of War. Assessment of where any given accuracy in pressing the button, start the value of Miss, Good, Great, Perfect, and Excellent. If this fails, this game always provides the Retry option, so that players can repeat it again.
Sometimes on some level, players will be tested in zero conversance enemy, Where Ken Ogawa akan using machine guns owned Helikopter, and car combat. Then the view third person game that will change to display the back of Ken Ogawa. I like the game Resident Evil 4 and 5. In addition to the gameplay is quite interesting, this game also includes a feature that is not less interesting, namely customization. Where players can change costumes ninja suit and the color you want.

In terms of graphics, characters Ken Ogawa and level the game is quite detailed. However, on some level is also found several objects and background scenes that are less detailed, such as the scene-rise buildings that are still vague and rough. And to move from fashion to sinematik action gameplay with smooth running. And some special effects such as blur effects are also packed into this game. For the aspect of voice, sound and fit real time switch sword and collide explosion, and so forth. So also the voice Ken Ogawa and evil in this game is cool sounds.

Overall, this game series Devil May Cry and the Gods of War definitely interested in this game. Because the concept that does not differ much from the second game. Ninja Blade is packed with really good start from the opening game in the film as the box office up to the adventure of the action along the level and the Boss Battle adiktif become more point on this game. Unfortunately, the game is quite short, so better to rent or borrow from a friend.

Ninja Blade
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: From Software
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
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