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Archive for April 2010

Bungie Signs 10 Year Multiplatform Publishing Deal Exclusively With Activision

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What a rollercoaster it has been for mega publisher Activision these past sixty days. After the loss of Infinity Ward head honchos Vince Zampalla and Jason West, as well as some twenty-five additional employees leaving the famed Call of Duty developer (with lawsuits in tow), Activision’s fortunes weren’t exactly looking as rosy as they once did.

Well it looks like things are starting to pick up once more for the troubled mega publisher, as they today have announced the signing of an exclusive ten year publishing deal with Bungie, the now independent creators of the renowned Halo franchise.

The agreement stipulates that Activision will have the sole rights to publish and distribute all new Bungie IP across a range of platforms and devices. Bungie will, as expected, own and retain all rights to the original IP that they create.

Bungie President, Harold Ryan had this to say “We chose to partner with Activision on our next IP because of their global reach, multi-platform experience and marketing expertise,”

Activision COO, Thomas Tippl had this to say regarding the groundbreaking deal: “From working together over the past nine months on this agreement, it is clear that Activision supports our commitment to giving our fans the best possible gaming experiences. Bungie is one of the premier studios in our industry and we are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to work with their talented team over the next decade,”

He continues; “Bungie has developed some of the most compelling and successful games, multiplayer experiences and thriving fan communities, and this alliance underscores our long-standing commitment to foster the industry’s best creative talent. Our unprecedented partnership with Bungie will enable us to broaden our pipeline of exciting new games as we continue to strengthen our industry position and pursue long-term growth opportunities.”

This is a game changer, no mistake about it. I can’t wait to see what Bungie do on multiple platforms with their own IP.

Bring it on!

All credit goes to VG247.com for breaking this story.

Written by bitsnark

April 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Split/Second Demo Impressions (Xbox 360/PS3)

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Split/Second Xbox 360/PS3 Demo Impressions, By John-Paul Jones

Yesterday, a demo of Black Rock Studios forthcoming adrenaline fuelled racer hit the Xbox Live Marketplace, so I thought it only decent and proper that I download it and see just what all the fuss is about.

The demo itself is light on content; you are given a single track, a single car and three laps with which to tear up the track and grab first place. The first impression that I got from the demo on startup, and one that I still cannot completely shake even now, is just how similar this game looks to Criterion’s celebrated Burnout franchise. The car models look almost identical and the OTT use of lens flare and other effects further suggest that Split/Second and Burnout could in all likelihood be separated at birth. It is at the visuals however, that all comparisons between the two games end.

And they end abruptly.

Whereas Burnout has always been about twitch handling, wrecking foes and knowing when to best start hammering the nitrous to get to first place, Split/Second is all about using the environment to impede and destroy your foes or to create a shortcut for yourself to expedite your race to the finish line.

Set in a stunt movie set esque style, the player is able to use ‘Power plays’ to call helicopters to drop bombs on opposing drivers, destroy petrol stations and even demolish a whole street of buildings in order to wreck their chances at securing that coveted first place. In order to do any of these things however, you need to accumulate points on a radial meter which increments based on how well you drift around corners, dodge obstacles or ‘draft’ behind the car(s) in front. Once the meter has been filled you can access level 1 or level 2 power plays, with the level 1 power plays only perhaps demolishing a single car (See helicopter bomb example), as opposed to a level 2 power play which could wipe out two cars or more with ease (See street demolition example).

While the results of either power play are a sight to behold and are appropriately compounded by retina scorching visuals, not to mention the pace that the game keeps up, it is in their implementation that some disappointment is found. The power plays by their very nature are set piece triggers and as a result are limited by the fact that they may only be utilised at certain points on the track.

What this essentially means is that in the sizeable interim when you’re not blowing stuff up, you’re exposed to the basic driving mechanics that the game has to offer and you quickly realise that Split/Second only has the most basic fundamentals in place. There appears to be no nitrous boost (surely the first box you would tick for this sort of arcade racer), no way to wreck an enemy car without the use of power plays, very little non/existent physics when you hit objects and car handling, based on the car in the demo, can be described at best as extremely heavy and at worst, described as trying to corner an M1 Tank.

Even with such shortcomings however, it is impossible to not allow a giddy smile creep across your face as you scream across an airstrip, narrowly dodging a crashing Passanger Jet and using your power play to open up a short cut through a packed aircraft hangar as an opponent detonates buildings on the other side.

When it works, it works well; the Fast & Furious graphical style and music reinforce the adrenaline fuelled stunt racer theme with aplomb, but like the action packed films that it so desperately wants to emulate and pay homage to, there really isn’t too much going on underneath the surface.

Split/Second is due out on May 21st for 360 & PS3.

Written by bitsnark

April 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Split/Second Demo Now Available On The Xbox Live Marketplace

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After being outed in the previous Major Nelson podcast, Microsoft is now reporting that the demo for the forthcoming OTT movie style racer Split/Second is now available to download from the Marketplace.

PC and PS3 owners will receive the demo at a later date.

Developed by Black Rock studios, Split/Second is due to arrive in the UK on May 23rd on 360, PS3 and PC platforms.

Dig in.

Written by bitsnark

April 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Tekken 6 Review (PS3)

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Tekken 6 Review (PS3)

With deadly schoolgirls, militant robots, combat trained zoo animals and enough slap happy folk to take over a small country, it can only be Tekken 6; the newest instalment in Namco’s long running fighting series. Is the King of Iron Fist still in the fight?

This is still Tekken; it still has the same ludicrous ensemble of characters, colourful attacks and accessibility in spades, but very little has been added to the mix to entice those not already enraptured by the likes of Jin Kazama and co.

The usual array of game types return with arcade, online play, story, team battle, survival and practice modes all present and accounted for. Tekken 6 also boasts the largest roster yet with a whopping forty-two playable combatants boasting a wild range of fighting styles comprising everything from more traditional martial arts such as Muay Thai and Wushu, all the way through to Sumo, Wrestling and the pseudo-ridiculous Kangaroo boxing and Bear wrestling ‘styles’.

Unlike previous instalments, purists may well balk at the fact that Tekken 6 allows players to access the entire roster from that get-go. The obvious benefit of this is that for social multiplayer purposes the previous need to have a memory card with all the unlocks is effectively banished, allowing folks can get down to the nitty gritty of landing fist in face without worrying about unlocking the other characters.

Tekken is like Marmite; you either love it or you hate it and as such the appeal of Tekken lies in its accessible, yet hard to master fighting system and so Tekken 6 stubbornly refuses to tread much of a different path from its predecessors in this regard. We all know the drill by the now; your face buttons represent each of your hands and feet and by combining them with directional inputs and each other, you can create devastating manoeuvres and string together nasty looking combos.

Pretty much all of the characters offer a satisfying amount of depth, with the various attacks, counters, throws and ten-hit combos that the series is famous for providing ample scope for mastery. Indeed, those of us who have lived, breathed and eaten Namco’s fighting dynasty for the last ten to fifteen years will likely appreciate the additional moves and subtle timing tweaks that each of the veteran characters has received.

A number of more generalised changes have also been applied to the tried and tested Tekken formula too. The first of these is the ‘rage state’. Think of it as a second wind, in that when your fighter reaches a critically low amount of health, his or her health bar with flash red (along with the character in question) and your damage output will be greatly increased for as long as you stay vertical. While not a game changer, it can sometimes throw a wrench into the works of what was an otherwise assured win or loss.

The remaining changes to the gameplay are ones which depending on your play style, will either give you the tools to be even more dominant than you previously were or will succeed in driving you into an asylum with sheer frustration. For Tekken 6, a big change has been implemented into the manner in which juggles occur. Namely, the change allows people to be juggled for a lot longer and for many of the juggles to be initiated from a downed opponent.
This has a great upside for folks who like to juggle, which to be frank is one of principles of competitive play in Tekken. For those who don’t, or for those who are new to the series, the new juggling mechanic can seem at odds with the level of accessibility that the series has enjoyed, since even moderately experienced players can literally keep a newer player almost pinned to the floor with little respite.

Somewhat compounding the juggling issue is a new feature which allows the ground on certain stages to shatter, creating a nice visual as the combatants crash through to another fighting area below. Crucially in gameplay terms however, this aids the new juggling mechanic since when the fighter who lost the exchange hits the floor first after a crash through, they bounce just enough for a new juggling combo sequence to start. Depending on your mileage with the altered juggling mechanic this will likely satisfy or frustrate in equal amounts.

The title appears to have a taken a nice bump in the visuals department too, with character models and the surrounding arenas appearing more detailed with all manner of texture smoothing, lighting effects and other graphical trickery making this the best looking Tekken yet.

On the topic of graphical trickery, Tekken 6 also has a motion-blur filter that may be toggled. Unlike other titles which fail to utilise the technique properly however, the motion blur actually works well here, with the blur itself applied primarily to moving limbs, it succeeds in conveying a genuine sense of fluid and satisfyingly kinetic combat. It’s a unique look for sure and one that I wouldn’t mind seeing replicated in other titles to come.
So Tekken doesn’t disappoint in the fundamentals. Where it does disappoint is it’s adherence to an unfortunate tradition for the last three games which sees it including a roaming battle mode that brings down the whole package, and is, well, just a bit cack. In this ‘scenario’ mode, you basically choose a character to pummel wave after wave of goons in what is supposed to be a 3D take on the scrolling fight games of old such as Streets Of Rage or Final Fight, all the while poorly shot and meandering real-time cut-scenes appear to prod you along the lacklustre story that is on offer.

Throughout each stage, you can pick up the usual health, damage increasing power-ups and extra weapons to make your culling of the brainless AI fools that rush you that much more expedient. The simple fact however is that this whole mode is horrendously broken primarily because the camera sits behind you, thus rendering many directional based moves and combos unworkable.

As a result, you must either resort to the button bashing a single stationary combo out (such as any one of Law’s numerous kick lo-hi kick combos) or pick up one of the many weapons in order to win.

If the broken camera didn’t kill the sliver of enjoyment that this mode had dead then the sheer monotony of the task at hand does. Case in point; Mob(s) rush you, you attack using the SAME combo you have used for the last 20 stages, pick up health, pick up weapon, use weapon on boss, boss dies, rinse and repeat.

The biggest crime of all is that manner in which this travesty is integrated into the main game. If you want to see any one of the characters endings, you must first find that character in the story mode, beat them and then take them on an incredibly pointless short four-stage arcade run.

Additionally, at the end of each level, you are awarded money that can be used to unlock character costumes and accessories which not only change the appearance of characters in the regular modes, but also serve to increase various stats on your scenario character such as attack power, health and so on. Again, this fails to be anything else but highly annoying since while you are able to earn the virtual currency in other game modes for these costume upgrades, it is only by playing this terribly executed excuse for a roaming fighter that you can earn the big bucks to get all the stuff you want.

I must digress however, what Tekken has done well; it continues to do well and that is provide a satisfying and deep fighter that has just the right mix of accessibility and complexity. Indeed, the core of the game for many people will lie in the versus and the somewhat bare-bones online multiplayer mode, which although the latter can be laggy at times, it has been improved immeasurably since the terrible online performance cited at launch.

Tekken hasn’t evolved a whole lot over the years and Tekken 6, outside of the expected improvements of improved visuals, tweaked combat system and a larger roster, does little to rewrite the DNA of the series. Troublingly, the series obsession with roaming fighting modes which tie directly into the core single player Tekken experience appears to continue unabated and unfortunately taints what is otherwise a very competent brawler.

Ultimately, this is still Tekken however and those who have enjoyed the series for this long will be rightfully dismissive of the poorly designed scenario mode as they eagerly jump into practice mode to learn all the new nuances and characters available; unleashing their bone-breaking prowess against fellow players both locally and online.

For the rest of you, the Street Fighter IV’s and BlazBlue’s of this world will in all likelihood provide more digestible and refreshingly different propositions to an old battle hardened stalwart, too stubborn to change its ways.

Overall Score: 7.9

Review by: John-Paul Jones

Written by bitsnark

April 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Brand New Yakuza Title To Arrive On PSP Later This year

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After a storied history on Sony’s home consoles, it appears that Sega is keen to extend the Yakuza franchise to the PSP too.

Japanese gaming mag Famitsu today outed the first details of Yakuza for PSP, previously known as ‘Project K’.

Set in the familiar neon jungle of series stomping grounds Kamurocho, you play not as harder-than-granite badass Kazama Kiryu, but instead as the eighteen year old Tatsuya Ukyou, a troublemaking youngster with dreams of making it big in the Yakuza.

Gameplay wise, pretty much everything that defines the Yakuza experience is intact for the series portable debut. Tatsuya can roam the streets, talking to people, take part in mini-games and of course, a good bit of foot-in-ass action.

Indeed, the combat system appears to have made it over without any noticeable functional impairment, with Tatsuya able to unleash his own type of unarmed, weapon and rage attacks echoing that which has been a hallmark of the franchise since it’s inception back in 2004.

At present this is a Japanese release and until we hear what the NPD figures for Yakuza 3 released last month were, we won’t know if Sega will have the motivation it needs to bring it over to Western shores.

We can but hope.

Written by bitsnark

April 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 Leaked To Be In Development

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Ahead of the embargo being lifted on Capcom’s CAPtivate event that just took place, are the leaks that Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 are both in development.

Hold that thought for a second.

Marvel. Versus. Capcom. Three.

Using the minimal amount of motor functions that I can get away with to write this update, I am, to put it mildly, extremely freakin’ stoked about this. Whilst little is known about the actual roster of fighters, the title itself will apparently have the largest roster ever assembled and boasts a visual style similar to that of Tatsunoko Vs Capcom that has 3D fighters locked to a 2D plane. The visual differences will end there however, as the title utilises the extra processing horsepower afforded by the PS3/360 to create some extremely detailed fighters and backgrounds and has the whole schebang running at 720p for good measure.

In terms of a release, the eagerly anticipated crossover title will arrive as a full retail product for 360/PS3 in 2011, and *not* as a digitially downloadable title like the Marvel Vs Capcom 2 conversion did.

The leaked teaser trailer can be seen below:

Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2 on the other hand, will be an XBLA/PSN title and should arrive at the end of the year. In regards to the title itself it appears to be more of the same goodness that made one of 2008’s best downloadable titles as good as it was, but with one crucial difference, you can now jump.

Folks may scoff at this, but the addition of jumping is quite a game changer indeed as previously, all you could do to navigate the environment in any manner more complex than running was to use your hookswing.

Fatshark will be handling coding duties on the sequel; it was the now defunct Swedish developer GRIN who coded the original Bionic Commando: Rearmed.

The leaked teaser trailer for the title may be seen at the link below:

I’ll hopefully be able to bring you folks more details on each of these games later on in the day when the press embargo on the event lifts.

Stay tuned.

Written by bitsnark

April 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Namco Bandai To Publish PS3 RPG Demon Souls, Finally Gets EU Release On June 25th

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Nearly a year after its impressive US debut, the harder-than-nails PS3 RPG Demon Souls, will finally land on our shores on June 25th courtesy of Namco Bandai.

The release itself will be slightly unorthadox however, as Namco Bandai intends to release the game only as a limited edition, limited run SKU.

It looks like to me that they are testing the waters here, and who can blame them given the generally conservative tastes of the European territories.

The official PR blurb is below:

NAMCO BANDAI PARTNERS ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT WITH SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT INC TO DISTRIBUTE
‘DEMON’S SOULS’ IN EMEA AND PAL ASIA

– NAMCO BANDAI Partners S.A.S. to Distribute Acclaimed PlayStation®3 Action RPG Title from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. of Japan across EMEA and Asia Pacific Regions –
LYON, FRANCE – 16 April 2010 – NAMCO BANDAI Partners S.A.S., one of the video game industry’s leading distribution, marketing and sales companies, today announced an agreement with renowned Japanese publisher Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) for the distribution of the acclaimed action RPG title Demon’s Souls across the EMEA and Asia Pacific regions. Following its release in Japan and North America where it garnered high praise from media and a loyal audience of fans, the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) game will be launched on June 25, 2010 as an exclusive European limited edition retail pack containing the soundtrack CD, a new artbook and brand new strategy guide.

“We’re very pleased to be working with SCEI to bring the fantastic Demon’s Souls to gamers outside of Japan and North America,” said Olivier Comte, VP Marketing, Sales & Publishing NAMCO BANDAI Partners S.A.S. “The game is exactly the kind of quality experience with which we are continuing to grow the NAMCO BANDAI Games portfolio of titles, and we will be working hard to ensure it’s at least as much of a success in our markets as it has already proven to be elsewhere.”

Beautiful, compelling, and unforgiving, Demon’s Souls is one of the hardcore RPG experience PS3 owners have been waiting for since the platform’s launch.

Revolutionary online features support your adventure like never before, presenting seamless interconnectivity that serves in every instance to enhance the single-player game. Team up with other players in simultaneous cooperative play, working together to topple some of the game’s colossal bosses, or force your way into the games of skilled players and challenge them to PvP battle.

Leave hints and clues for those who will follow in your footsteps; either intentionally or through your own inadvertent demise, your bloodstains will allow your successors to view a replay of your death, hinting at how to avoid your gruesome fate. Unprecedented in its depth and subtlety, peerless in its relentlessly challenging gameplay, Demon’s Souls is the ultimate action RPG.

UK website Eurogamer.net awarded the title a resounding 9 out of 10 – “absolutely compelling; dark, detailed, unforgiving, creatively cruel,” and adding, “You can learn to love Demon’s Souls like few other games in the world.”

Gamespot awarded the game ‘Game of the Year 2009’ – “Brutally challenging and utterly engrossing, this innovative role-playing game is one of the year’s best.”
Featuring the game, a brand new hardback artbook filled with mesmerizing concept and game art images, a new strategy guide, plus the deeply atmospheric original soundtrack of the game on CD, the limited edition retail pack of Demon’s Souls is coming exclusively to EMEA and Asia Pacific on June 25, 2010, only for PS3. The European limited launch of Demon’s Soul’s can be pre ordered now from Play.com, Game.co.uk, HMV.co.uk and other leading retailers whilst stocks last.

For more information about NAMCO BANDAI Partners S.A.S. and its entire product line up please visit http://www.namcobandaipartners.com

Written by bitsnark

April 16, 2010 at 9:34 am

EA Unveils ‘Bulletstorm’, Developed By Epic Games For 360, PC & PS3 Release In 2011

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EA and Epic Games yesterday announced a new title that is currently in development by Warsaw based developer People Can Fly. Known as Bulletstorm, it has been described as an UE3 powered shooter that features larger than life enemies, ‘outrageously large guns’ and apparently unique ‘kill for skill’ gameplay.

The game apparently uses a skill based unlock system which allows players to unlock new abilities and equipment based upon the difficulty of a shot or move that was pulled off. In regards to the plot, we’re looking at the usual po-faced horror affair with the player being part of a group of mercenaries called Dead Echo, who end up marooned on a planet full of flesh eating creatures after their employer double crosses them. As you can imagine, their only call in life at this point is to kill anything that moves and exact revenge on their former employer.

The premise at the very least seems an interesting one; People Can Fly were the nut-jobs who coded the insane Painkiller FPS series for the PC, so it’ll be a blast to see what they do with UE3 tech.

No exact date has yet been given for Bulletstorm, or indeed any media provided, but as soon as the latter or former are updated (whichever comes first) i’ll let you know.

Written by bitsnark

April 13, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Gears Of War 3 Confirmed By Epic Games For April 2011 Release; Trailer Inside

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After being spoiled into the middle nof next week, Epic Games’ Cliffy B had little in the way of ‘new’ things to announce. What he did do however, was give us the confirmation that we were all looking for: Gears Of War 3 will release on the Xbox 360 in April 2011 and will effectively tie up the current trilogy.

As for the likelihood of further titles in the franchise, I think its a moot point seeing as the Gears franchise is quite obviously Epic Games biggest earning franchise right now.

The debut teaser for Gears Of War 3 can be viewed at the link below:

It has guns, the Locust horde, women and beards.

Enjoy.

Written by bitsnark

April 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

Xbox Live Leaks Gears Of War 3 For Release In April 2011

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You can always count on someone, somewhere being shit at their job. Thankfully, their P45 is the result of some top notch gaming leakage in the form of Gears Of War 3 being inadvertently advertised for release in April 2011.

It’s been a fairly well known fact that a third game would arrive at *some* point and indeed, many folks rightly assumed that Epic Games Production head honcho Cliffy B, would be unveiling the title this coming Monday on the Jimmy Fallon show over in the US.

As far as his reveal goes on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if it is Gears 3, or if they had something entirely unrelated, such as an original IP, planned for the show.

Either way this situation is this: Gears Of War 3 is coming out in April 2011.

Hoo-rah.

Written by bitsnark

April 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

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