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Archive for October 2011

Gears Of War 3 Gets New Single-Player Campaign DLC

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Today, Microsoft and Epic Games announced “RAAM’s Shadow,” a new chunk of campaign DLC experience for the horrendously successful Gears of War 3. Boasting a cast of characters both new and known to fans of the series, “RAAM’s Shadow” will supposedly deliver more than three hours of gameplay set in a storyline that precedes the events of the first “Gears of War,” as well as six new multiplayer characters, the Chocolate Weapon Set (whatever the feck that is) and an additional 250 Gamerscore for all of you cheevo hoarders out there.

Sweet. It’s good to see devs getting on-board with releasing additional single-player content for titles that have multiplayer modes, rather than focusing exclusively on the latter which has been the trend with the Halo’s, CoD’s and Battlefield’s of the world.

“RAAM’s Shadow” is due to make it’s grisly debut on Dec. 13 for 1,200 of your shiny Microsoft Points on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Go nuts.

Written by bitsnark

October 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Shank Review (Xbox Live Arcade)

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I love grindhouse cinema. More specifically, I love Machete; Robert Rodreiguez’s bombastic ode to the grindhouse movies of yesteryear, starring ol’ scarface Danny Trejo in the titular role of the multi-blade wielding avenger on a quest to bring to justice (in a most OTT violent manner) those who have double-crossed him.

Shank for all intents and purposes is the closest we’re ever going to get to Machete in digital, playable form. Styled in the fashion of an unholy union between Penny Arcade and Machete, wearing its Grindhouse influences proudly on its bloody, torn sleeves, Shank is a side-scrolling shooter/slasher with a focus on vivid comic book visuals and violent melee combat.

Somehow utlising growling as some sort of vernacular for conversation and gutting folk when he isn’t trying to ‘converse’ with them, the story follows the Grindhouse template pretty closely, with our hero, named after the weapon with which he intends to use to dispatch his foes with no less, forced onto a path of violence to gain a measure of revenge against the cartel who murdered his girlfriend. Supplementing the single-player campaign, there is also a local co-operative multiplayer mode which narratively takes the form of a prequel. In this mode, one player is cast as Shank and another as the hitman Falcone, as they slash and kill their way through bad guys to the events that shape that single-player story.

With the exception of special team-up moves that can be executed in the multiplayer campaign, the gameplay remains largely identical between both modes though, as enemies rush our hero from the right side of the screen and come in all different shapes, sizes and annoyances. Some foes are straightforward melee types, some are ranged firearms users while others are massive juggernaut-esque characters which charge at Shank and can generally fuck him up pretty badly if you aren’t on the ball. Endearingly, much like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, each baddie has his or her own energy bar and little portrait, so you can keep track of just how much punishment is left to give on your chosen foe before they give up the ghost.

Speaking of ghosts, in no other case in this game are you more likely to die than if you’re surrounded. Should Shank find himself in this situation; surrounded by a mountain of enemies, which is possible since anywhere from one to roughly fifteen foes can attack the player at any one time, he can use a finite number of hand-grenades to cause massive area of effect damage and generally disperse the local bad-guy populace in spectacular fashion.

Trust me; you will come to treasure those bouncing green hurt lockers. Oh yes.

In subscribing to the side-scrolling template, big-ass boss fights are also present and accounted for too. Unfortunately, unless you’re a masochist playing it on the hardest difficulty, pretty much all of them can be easily beaten on a first or second try once you’ve nailed down the timing of avoid their attacks and counter striking effectively.

Sometimes taking a break from the gorgeously rendered butchery, the game does let the user indulge in some platforming – with the occasional wall climb, spot of chasm leaping or swinging from hook points usually involved. It never however amounts to anything remotely approaching taxing; making the platforming mechanics within the game come across as superfluous and just, well, a bit on the shit side really.

No, where the appeal lies with Shank is in its unremittingly stylish comic-book depiction of Grindhouse violence. With a chainsaw strapped to his back and shank in hand, Shank can grapple and disembowel foes with due aplomb and unmatched viciousness. In addition to this, he can also do a ‘pounce’ move (something that has saved my bacon on more than one occasion), where he leaps through the air and homes in on a target, at which point he lands on them pinning them to the ground where a number of rather violent things can take place.

From this position, our grizzled, growling lead can not only gleefully stab the foe beneath him or plunge his chainsaw into the soft bits of the poor guy, he can also keep the chap pinned to the ground whilst he frees a hand to blast any other enemies who might be trying to close the distance with his trusty pistol.

Shank is not just restricted to his starting dual-shooters and chainsaw either. Our hero can violently innovate with a number of ranged and melee weapons including shotguns, Uzi submachine guns, katanas and chain-wrapped fists.

The actual usefulness of these different tools of bad-guy butchery is pretty much a mixed bag disappointingly. The shotgun for example, is very effective in blowing enemies across the screen; creating much-needed separation in the process, while the pitter-patter of the Uzi on the other hand, seemingly does little other than piss off whoever it happens to be aimed at with its laughably insignificant damage and tiny ammo clip.

The selection of melee equipment also suffers from weapons that are just gimped enough that you would only use them once to see their comically violent animations and never use them again. The fist-chain being an instance of this; in which the weapon itself has such a short-range that the long-range allure of the Katana (a must-use weapon for a couple of the boss-fights) proves pretty much irresistible and more often than not, downright essential.

Indeed in some ways, Shank plays in a similar fashion to how you would imagine a 2D rendition of Devil May Cry would; in that Shank is able to mix up firearm and melee based combinations to great effect – including an attack where he knocks an enemy up into the air with his melee weapon and proceeds to prop them up in mid-air with a barrage of dispensed twin-pistol ammo.

It doesn’t hurt that it all looks supremely stylish too. I’m not just referring to the vividly rendered cut-scenes either, with that same retina-pleasing visual style carried seamlessly into the game with sumptuously rendered character models, smooth animations, gorgeously realised backdrops and liberal use of silhouetting to elicit a pleasing, if shamelessly inspired style that pays suitable homage to its Grindhouse leanings.

Clocking in at just under five hours for the whole thing though, co-operative multiplayer campaign included, Shank is a game that short of offering any real variety, instead relies on the player just wanting more and more of the same – more violent cartoony death, more pulp-Tarantino-esque bad guys and more crappily implemented platform mechanics. If this floats your boat then and you’re willing to take 2 out of 3 for up to five hours, then by all means, give a Shank a go; you’ll find a beautiful looking comic-book side-scroller with Grindhouse leanings that has a lot of violent spectacle to share.

Mr Rodreiguez would approve I’m sure.

Written by bitsnark

October 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Eleven Minutes Of In-Game Aliens: Colonial Marines Footage Nukes The Site From Orbit

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With the poor taste of Duke Nukem Forever hopefully gone from their mouths by now (yes, yes, I know they only assembled the shit-tastic code that was laying about but still), Gearbox software look to be getting back to top form with their forthcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines FPS if this big-ass chunk of in-game footage is any indication.

More of a cinematic FPS than a squad based shooter, the game takes place directly after the events of Aliens, whereupon the Atmospheric Processor blows up and pretty much kills the fuck out of anything left on the surface.

Except for our extendable teeth gnashing, drool-happy shiny friends of course.

Behold then; eleven minutes of Aliens-inspired fanboy masturbation consummately manifested as an FPS, narrated by Gearbox head-honcho Randy Pitchford, which not only looks like probably the best Aliens licensed FPS in the history of ever, but also a damn fine atmospheric FPS in it’s own right.

Have a look:

Aliens: Colonial Marines is due out in 2012 on PC, PS3, 360 and WiiU platforms.

Written by bitsnark

October 3, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Sony Does The Smart Thing – Starts Bringing Cult PS2 Titles To PSN (Including Odin Sphere/God Hand)

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In continuing to live up to their rip-off bastard potential, Sony is continuing to charge their customer base for old, re-released tat.

HOWEVER.

This is good, old re-released tat, since it comes in the pleasing guise of rare classic PS2 titles; the list of which you can see below:

– God Hand
– GrimGrimoire
– Maximo: Ghosts to Glory
– Odin Sphere
– Ring of Red

GOD HAND! DO YOU SEE THAT…. GOD HAND?!

Anyway, no other details such as price or even conversion quality have been mentioned yet, but what we do know, is that this quintet of PS2 loveliness is due to hit PSN THIS WEEK.

Hopefully, this’ll mean that Sony will bring more obscure titles to the service in the future. So yeah… more of this please.

Written by bitsnark

October 3, 2011 at 9:05 am

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