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Art Attack Friday: Hyadaruko fan illustrates Mario


Aug 01
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Art Attack Friday has dipped it's toes into the nether-nets of the far east (aka 2ch) to uncover a series of Super Mario Bros. illustrations with rather curious origins. Originally stumbled upon while browsing the image bookm...
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E3 08: The Who performs at the Rock Band Party


Jul 21
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[video]96062:82[/video]In case you haven't seen it before, I present to you the one and only  Pete Townshend of The Who calling out the individual who chose the colors for the "plastic bits" on the Rock Band gu...
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E3 08: Hands-on with levelHead


Jul 21
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While taking my first quick walkabout the showroom floor, I was passing the IndieCade section and happened upon a curious display of three colored cubes sitting in front of a webcam. Approaching the game with no instruction, ...

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E3 08: AAF Bonus! This year's Into The Pixel collection


Jul 19
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This year's Into the Pixel exhibition was located on the convention's bottom floor, buffering the in's and out's of E3 attendees between the showroom and the center's main hallway. While its location managed to entertain busy...
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E3 08: Confirmed! Puppy Suit is an instrument in WiiMusic


Jul 17
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[video]95847:70[/video]WiiMusic is chockfull of all the instruments you'd expect to be available for waggling your Wiimote to, as well as a few other 'instruments' that you absolutely didn't expect. While the full hands-on re...
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E3 08: Hands-on with Rhythm Heaven


Jul 17
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Tucked beneath the ruckus regurgitating out of the WiiMusic stands, Rhythm Heaven, the sequel to Rhythm Tengoku, sat quietly on its own amidst the other DS games by Nintendo. I had plenty of time to try out all three mini gam...
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E3 08: Mirror's Edge hands-on impressions


Jul 17
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After months of profusely salivating over Mirror's Edge trailers, Rev. Anthony and I had the extreme pleasure of profusely salivating over the game itself with a few minutes of hands-on gameplay at EA's showroom. Guided by on...
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E3 08: Backyard Football 2009


Jul 16
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There's a certain nostalgia involved in the idea of meeting up with the neighborhood kids and tossing around the ol' pig skin. Backyard Football 2009, the newest edition of the best selling kids' football game, takes a fun-si...
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E3 08: What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver


Jul 16
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While the DS elves are busy tinkering away to satisfy the hardcore gamer, Atari has got you covered in the kitchen with their upcoming game What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver. Featuring the celebrity cook of Naked Chef fame, t...
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E3 08: Harvest Moon 10 Year Anniversary Goods


Jul 16
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You think Natsume just stopped celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Harvest Moon with two new games? Pfft. Not even. Natsume felt that the franchise was well deserving of a few more shiny commemorative items to mark its suc...
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E3 08: Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness


Jul 16
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[video]95546:64[/video]The second new Harvest Moon game Natsume is releasing to commemorate the series' 10 year anniversary is Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness for the Nintendo DS. In this version of Harvest Moon, you are si...
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E3 08: Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility


Jul 15
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[video]95465:61[/video] Upon dropping by the Natsume suite to see what was going on in the "Serious Fun" neck of the woods, it was brought to my personal attention that it is Harvest Moon's 10 year anniversary. Imag...
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E3 08: Nintendo Announces WiiMusic


Jul 15
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[video]95410:57[/video]To cap off a looming wave of mediocre game announcements, Nintendo concluded their press conference this morning with another Wii title that was, well, mediocre. Introduced in a disorienting array of st...
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Art Attack Friday: wandamagick


Jul 04
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Wandamagick (aka Icecream Katana) serves up a generous spoonful of kawaii fanart for today's Art Attack Friday feature. With a rather large bredth of gaming experience, Wandamagick pulls characters, from Viva Piñata to...
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Art Attack Friday: Junkandres


Jun 13
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Hamza might smack me in the jaw for posting the above photo, what with the other realistic WTF renderings of game characters he's collected in the past. But since I was the one who found this alarming rendition of the Space I...
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Art Attack Friday: Ghostfire


Jun 06
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Ghostfire (aka Julia Lichty) is the chosen Art Attack Friday artist of this week, bestowing upon the faithful AAF viewer a rather *ahem* voluptuous crowd of Team Fortress 2 femmes for the front page today. While her breadth o...

Pew! Pew! Preview!: Alone in the Dark

May 22 // Tiff
"Episodic" GamingThe new Alone in the Dark will feature series protagonist Edward Carnby, this time faced with the bizarre and supernatural mysteries that riddle modern-day Central Park. In an attempt to develop a compelling version of the series for today's gaming audience, Polloni stressed that the impending cross-over between film and videogames heavily influenced the "truly cinematic experience" of the game. In this spirit, the game will feature a chapter-based format divided into eight individual parts, each laden with carefully developed story arcs of revelations, conflicts, and cliffhangers. If you happen to forget what was happening the last time you were playing, you can watch the 'Previously on Alone in the Dark' trailers that conveniently precede each episode.As was earlier announced, one can pause the game at any point to access the 'DVD Chapter' select menu, which allows players to rewind, fast-forward, and skip around between 75% of the game. While the multiple endings (reportedly, two) aren't accessible without unlocking them through enough gameplay, this allows a player to progress through the game without being frustratingly hinged by a difficult task that can be solved later. Although this innovative feature could potentially destroy the progression of a game that is pinned around film-like plot development, I highly doubt it will encourage players to wreak havoc on their narrative experiences. When I went to play the game, my first instinct was to fast-forward and play various parts that were anything but the beginning. However, realizing that this approach left me generally confused and misplaced in terms of what the hell was going on, I recognized that linear progression through the game is obviously the more optimal experience.What concerns me more is the player's seamless ability to transition between their role in the game and their role of the person fast-forwarding to the next part of a movie. While convenient, this feature could potentially deter the player's involvement with the role as Edward's character if used too casually. Dynamic EnvironmentBeyond the episodic format, the game features other attributes that attempt to blend the interactive with the cinematic. The game is lacking any obvious UI with the exception of the occasional tutorial tips, providing a movielike perspective on-screen. This experience was particularly impressionable in the first part of the game, where Edward wakes up in a blurry first-person perspective that requires the player to continuously blink by pushing the right analog stick in order to regain clarity. As Edward is shoved ahead by a henchman, the perspective necessitates the player to continue blinking, truly evoking a confused and bleary-eyed introduction into the madness that's on the brink of unfolding.  A highly dynamic environment continues to flavor the gameplay in cinematic fashion, as rooms literally crumble away in real time through the first part of the game. As giant fissures suddenly crack open in the floors, live wires swing down from above, and explosions of various magnitudes blockade your path, the player must pay careful attention to all angles of their environment in order to successfully progress. This fact became apparent whilst I was sidling along the edge of a disintegrating building and had to cautiously avoid both rubble falling from above and an exploding car that flung up nearly close enough to smolder my feetsies. Dynamic fire and light effects also greatly play into many of the puzzles the player will encounter. Polloni noted that every surface has an applied degree of flammability that can often be used towards the player's advantage, while simultaneously posing as a toasty trap. Furthermore, by way of glowsticks, Molotov cocktails, and other brightly lit objects, all environments can be dynamically lit to foster illuminated pathways in the dark or glowing distractions for enemies.   Combat and Object UseWith all the bloodthirsty undead goons teeming in Central Park, Edward will naturally need to engage in combat. While this can be administered by shooting the enemy or hacking them to pieces with an axe, Alone in the Dark encourages a flexible and object-savvy approach to demolishing obstacles. Edward will only be able to carry what can fit inside his jacket and can equip one item per hand, thereby forcing the player to pay close attention to pocketable resources and how they can be utilized with the environment. These objects are not always obviously placed, and may require intensive searches through cabinets, shadowy corners, or even behind visors in abandoned cars. The player may also find various non-pocketable objects within their environment that they can pick up and swing around using the right analog stick. This puzzle-like quality to the gameplay was aptly demonstrated by Polloni's previous tech demo, and for me, initially denoted an adventure game-like puzzle experience. I stress initially.When actually playing the game, the object-oriented action was a lot more clunky and difficult to wrangle. Picking up a trash can, for example, and attempting to wield it against a blocked door, took many tries before I was actually successful. The same case applied when swinging around an axe to mince a foe to pieces, as the process was just not as easy as it was made out to be. In regards to the use of pocketable objects, while the concept of using sticky tape on a bottle of flammable liquid to devise a cleverly delivered explosion is fairly interesting, this function distracts the player from the game's horror-themed pursuits. Complicating oncoming zombie attacks with these object-oriented tasks places emphasis on the action as opposed to the scary obstacle, thereby making the experience much less scary overall. Perhaps this experience is more fully developed as one becomes accustomed to the gameplay mechanics, but overall I was never truly fearful of anything that was attacking me, because I was too busy figuring out what object combo to use next. AfterthoughtsAlone in the Dark does make some interesting impressions by exploring features that break some gaming molds, but I felt that the overall experience was somewhat inconsistent to the developer's aspirations. While the real-time explosions and environmental effects are compelling, the clunky object-oriented gameplay had me distracted from much of this impressive presentation. In the same vein, although much of the visuals are laid out to capture a compelling, cinematic experience, the character designs and interactions are so unconvincing that I developed very little interest in the actual story. Altogether, this game is teetering on the edge between success and failure for me. If I had more time to become accustomed to the gamplay and give the narrative a chance to sink its hooks in, perhaps the current disconnect between features would seem less of an issue. But while the core ideas surrounding Alone in the Dark seem to be all there, many of the key features seem poorly executed. Alone in the Dark will be available June 24 for the PlayStation 2, Wii, PC, and Xbox 360, with a PlayStation 3 release aimed for this fall.
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Impatiently lurking with bated, fetidly undead breath, Atari's upcoming game Alone in the Dark has a June 24th release that will launch it into 2008 as the first blockbuster survival horror game of the year. This Monday, Atar...

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Bay to Breakers: Drunken Cosplay at its finest


May 19
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Once a year in the good city of San Francisco, the main streets shut down and surrender themselves to throngs of residents for the epic Bay to Breakers marathon. While the brave few run the track from the San Francisco Bay to...
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Art Attack Friday: Mujia Liao


May 16
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This week's Art Attack Friday artist articulates most of her love for the line of signature Square Enix characters. Mujia Liao (aka yukikominazuki) is a Canadian animator with a pro handle at injecting voluminous color in her...
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Konami Gamer's Night '08: Silent Hill: Homecoming


May 15
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Following the unexpected announcement of Konami's new music game, Rock Revolution, the projection screen faded from the candy-colored lights of the concert stage and transitioned to the glowing embers of the title Silent Hil...
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Konami Gamer's Night '08: Rock Revolution


May 15
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Given the historical relationship Konami has had with rhythm and music games in the past, it's no wonder that they're looking for ways to earn back the fame that games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band usurped from them. Like e...
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Konami Gamer's Night '08: Metal Gear Solid 4


May 15
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When it seemed as though the collective sweat in the heated presentation hall had permanently bonded throes of gaming journalists to their seats, the one and only Hideo Kojima took to the stage to present the gem of Konami's ...
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Run like a raptor! Pixeljam Games' Dino Run released


May 05
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With all the hullabaloo whip-lashing around the recent release of GTA IV, it's a ripe opportunity to step back from the moral challenges of modern gaming and into to a time when gaming was primal. A time when pastures of velo...
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Art Attack Friday: nemurism


May 02
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Here we go with this week's Art Attack Friday. Since I know you all have been desperately craving a fix of hard-core StarFox fanart, I offer you the work of nemurism to satiate your needs. Nemurism's extensive collection of f...
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Art Attack Friday: Minus 8


Apr 18
// Tiff
It's spring, everyone, and if you haven't been floating through the fragrant scent of cherry blossoms or frolicking through the sun-soaked streets of New York City in eager anticipation of Karaoke-fest 2008 with NY Comic Con ...

Pew! Pew! Preview!: Fallout 3 (Part II)

Apr 10 // Tiff
Building Character (Baby's first book to Protagonist development)Like any self-respecting Vault Dweller, the player is brought into the world in a cold, fluorescent-lit underground hospital cell. Bleary-eyed and filled with wonder, the player begins the game through the perspective of a newborn infant with the singular capability of pressing the A button to cry. Your father (also known as the father you always wished for, played by Liam Neeson) gazes fondly at you coveted behind a hospital mask and glasses. Newborn life in post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., doesn't seem to be all that bad after all. This is where you begin the first stages of protagonist development, choosing whether your character is male or female while designating the eventual physical characteristics and nationality you will display within some solid years of maturity. A set of pre-structured avatar faces are available for your convenience, but if you're truly up to customizing your character's look, you'll have as many appearance options as the character creator in Oblivion. Once your basic characteristics have been determined, your father removes his mask to reveal someone who happens to look like he's related to you. Unfortunately, as soon as this momentary father-child bonding is established, your mother cries out in pain and you are quickly wheeled out of the hospital room and thus fully brought into your bleak existence as a member of Vault 101.A year passes and you're segued to taking your very first steps as a child. In this sequence, you become accustomed to walking and exploring the world around you as you prodigiously escape the imprisoning child-safe gates. While exploring the room, you can fuddle about with various toys and even climb up on your father's bed for some mischievous jumping. Eventually, you'll discover the You Are Special toddlers' book, which will ask you to assign the particular S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) characteristics for your protagonist. Although you are limited in the amount of points you can use in establishing your traits, the book is adorably complemented with clever nursery rhymes and illustrations that effectively lift the pressure of crafting the ideal character. Eventually, your father returns to discover your breakage from kiddie refinement, but of course there are no negative consequences, since you can innocently burble back at him with "ga-ga's" and "da-da's", with the help of the trusty A button. Fast-forward a good nine years and you open your eyes to your 10th birthday party in a Vault cafeteria -- the handy Pip-Boy 3000 given to you as your very esteemed birthday gift. Wished many happy returns by your childhood friends and father, you're notified by an adult Vault Dweller that you will begin working full-time immediately the next day. As a full-fledged 10-year-old, you can now have dynamic conversations with others, giving you the opportunity to flirt with your grade-school crush or try your best at appeasing the cool kids of the Vault. Eventually, your father pulls you aside and gives you your first lessons on manning a rifle. My only hope is that your first weapon is the infamous Red Ryder BB Gun, but these are wishes left to be confirmed. Me and my Dogmeat (The Vault Dweller and their beloved canine companion)In proper following of the previous Fallout games, your character will eventually come across the ultimate bad ass doggy companion, Dogmeat. His owner destroyed by some means of carnage or another, you approach a wandering Dogmeat in an elaborate junkyard and engage in conversation to eventually convince him to tag along. Naturally, his responses are limited to friendly woofs and barks, but with enough persuasion, Dogmeat determines to aid you in your journey in search of your father across the post-apocalyptic landscape. This companionship proves to be highly beneficial, as you can request Dogmeat to search the surrounding area for helpful items such as weapons, food, and drugs. Diligent dog that he is, Dogmeat will search your surrounding area for up to an hour to scour every inch of land for items you could use. However, mistreatment of Dogmeat and assigning him to dangerous tasks could result in the loss of a faithful friend forever, so it's wise to be cautious when sending him off to dutifully fulfill your requests. Pete also demonstrated the use of the Fat Boy weapon (basically a mini-nuke launcher) while in the barren junkyard, which, as one could imagine, led to many glorious and explosive results. I, for one, certainly tittered with glee at the sight of a mini mushroom cloud in the distance. But remember, kids, the use of nuclear weapons goes hand-in-hand with radioactive aftermath. Shooting off nuclear attacks will result in contaminated land, which you will have to carefully avoid so to not absorb the damaging post-boom radioactivity. V.A.T.S. and Combat (A Survival Guide against Radioactive Ghouls and Mad Max Ruffians)Between the various quests in the game, your character will additionally have to travel terrain that is lined with enemies. If desired, you can avoid violent run-ins through the use of strategy and stealth; however, it's important to know how to properly battle an enemy if, say, a radioactive Ghoul ends up glowing and growling behind your back. This is where V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tech® Assisted Targeting System) comes in handy. By way of literally halting time in its shoes, V.A.T.S. allows the player to hone in on an enemy and precisely target various body parts for attack. Once your moves are queued up and activated, the camera pulls back in a variety of action-packed angles to fully illustrate the various ranges of bodily explosions that soon follow. Each individual weapon you use has a myriad of camera angles and post-limb-flying shots that ensures the ultimate rewarding experience for all that satisfactory bloodlust you reserved to pop a cap in that ghoul's ass. While V.A.T.S. is the generally more strategic and successful approach to combat, players can also choose to attack from a first- or third-person shooter perspective if desired. These combat techniques were demonstrated in two scenarios. The first resembled a dark and dingy abandoned building that was creeping left and right with ugly-as-sin ghouls. Not only were there regular Ghouls (humans who've had their brains fully deteriorated by radioactivity), but there were also Glowing Ghouls who have fully absorbed the radioactivity and effectively heal their brethren by a radioactive burst of curative fluids. Narsty.The second scenario had the player climbing up the rusty escalator exit of a mall and onto the battlefield before the Capitol Building. In this instance, Pete had loaded his player with a tank-strength Brotherhood of Steel armor suit. The suit, while intimidating and defensive, limited his range of motion and visual perception, as it was clunky and heavy to move around in. Once surfaced, the glaring sun reveals a flat and dry terrain littered with trenches and various trash of war. While running across the battlefield, you may run into an aggressive mutant with a thirst for blood or get into the middle of a mini-battle between two opposing gangs. You have the choice to get involved with the action or move quickly on your way.As you go between the desolate mall and the Capitol, you'll pass a detailed rendition of the Museum of American History in all its apocalyptic glory and deterioration. Bethesda has done a stunning job in recreating the nation's capital in its most degraded, ruined state, eliciting a sense of wonder and curiosity through the interactive exploration of the environment alone. While the game is set in Washington, D.C., the city only occupies a fourth of the game, the world map also extending to the suburbs of the city. When Pete revealed this tidbit of information, the one and only N'gai Croal inquired whether the terrain of Baltimore would be included in the game. Pete admitted that Baltimore was not an available area for exploration, and Mr. Croal and myself released our hopes of Avon Barksdale, Marlo Stanfield, or any other The Wire characters making a cameo debut in Fallout 3. It can be further assumed that you will not obtain Omar Little as a recruitable NPC in the game. A crying shame, I tell you.War. War never changes.The Wire fan-girlism aside, Fallout 3 is still looking to be a pretty fantastic game, and according to Pete, a very good sequel to the series. While the previous Fallout games took place on the west coast, the immersive and high-def quality of a post-apocolyptic Washington, D.C., is scarily convincing and unique unto itself. It would be of no surprise to me if the game thematically commented on modern themes of government and war, but so far there is no revealed specific significance to the game's setting.What's waiting to be demonstrated now is the procedure through the various in-game quests that eventually determine the nature of your character's morality. According to Pete, the writing for the game is a combined effort between game designers, engineers, and producers — selective game development teams build individual quests and eventually take their finished work back to the rest of the team for review. Will this approach generate a cohesive yet diverse set of side-quests for the player to explore? Furthermore, the main quest can be completed in a mere 20-25 hours, and amidst discussing the hussle and bussle regarding the proposed 200 endings Pete revealed that they were up to 500-something endings now. It's important to note that these 'endings' could easily be something as minimal as a variation in the narrative depending on what you managed to accomplish, but the question still remains as to how (or why) one would possibly experience all of the endings.As it is, Bethesda has given us something crunchy enough to chew on until the next teaser. As for me, I believe the ultimate success of Fallout 3 solely depends on the complexity and variety of experiences derived from the individual quests. I hope for and look forward to participating in the revered moral ambiguity and rich dialogue that was so preciously celebrated in the past Fallout games, but has yet to be revealed to the public. When asked whether the moral choices in Fallout 3 were presented as black and white options, such as is the case in BioShock, Pete replied that there were a lot of gray areas in this game. With hope, these gray areas are what will truly define Fallout 3 and aptly set it within the ranks of its predecessors.Fallout 3 is still on track for release this fall for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC (now with Windows Live achievements).
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The celestial seasons seem to troll by for the diehard Fallout franchise fan waiting impatiently for a sequel. While there was Nick's preview of Fallout 3 back in July and a more recent mention of a potential 200 plus endings...

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Art Attack Friday: Scabrouspencil


Apr 04
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Illustrator scabrouspencil (aka Kenneth) is this week's featured artist for Art Attack Friday, fixating a bold array of linework and sturdy color on the front page. While his fuller body of work ranges between concept art and...
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And the gamers who play them: Girl Gamers


Mar 27
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For this month's musing I chose to digest the sub-culture of 'Girl Gamers' that has managed to quickly surface alongside the increased popularity of gaming in the mass media. So to avoid any confusion, the term 'Girl Gamers' ...
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Art Attack Friday: hoyhoykung


Mar 21
// Tiff
This week's AAF artist is an incredible digital painter from Thailand who calls himself hoyhoykung. Although his deviantArt gallery may not be as expansive as some of our previously featured artists, in this instance, the lac...
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Art Attack Friday: Dapper Dan


Mar 07
// Tiff
In the modern lull of game-related Saturday morning cartoons, I sometimes find myself consumed in day dreams littered with cartoon-likenesses of Mario, Link, and all of their good friends and foes of ages past. Streaming out ...

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