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Hands-on: Outland's co-op mode photo
Hands-on: Outland's co-op mode
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

You know what we don't have enough of anymore? Metroid-vania style adventure games. This style of adventure games is few and far between nowadays but luckily for us there are some developers out there who haven't totally forgotten this genre.

Not only is Outland reminiscent of games like Metroid, but there's also a puzzle-like element in the style of Ikaruga. Yes, this does sound like a marriage made of awesome.

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Hands-on: Shadows of the Damned photo
Hands-on: Shadows of the Damned
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

Take Suda51's creative mind, Shinji Mikami's long history with the survival horror genre, and Akira Yamaoka's brilliant musical skills and you get Shadows of the Damned. From what I've seen at least, Grasshopper Manufacture's upcoming "road movie set in hell" isn't going to do anything that changes the action-adventure genre a whole lot. In fact, the game feels like a faster-paced Resident Evil 4.

The charm with Shadows of the Damned comes from a really outrageous and unique presentation unlike anything I'm used to when it comes to videogames. Yet despite everything Shadows of the Damned has going for it, I still have this horrible feeling that the game is going to fail at retail.

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Preview: F.E.A.R. 3's four multiplayer modes photo
Preview: F.E.A.R. 3's four multiplayer modes
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

F.E.A.R 3 is the latest in the spooky first-person shooter franchise where you and your dead ghost brother have to save the world from your pregnant ghost mom. Or something. Honestly, it's hard to pay attention to the story when all I can ever focus on is that you get (SPOILER) ghost raped by Alma in the previous game.

So it's a good thing I only had to play the four multiplayer modes during my hands-on session with F.E.A.R 3. One mode is awesome, two of the modes are good and the fourth mode was pretty forgettable.

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Ocarina of Time 3DS 'much closer' to original vision photo
Ocarina of Time 3DS 'much closer' to original vision
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64 was one of the best games ever created. Not many people will argue with that statement. However, something that even the most hardcore Zelda fans will agree with is that the visuals haven't stood the test of time.

Enter the 3DS update of the classic. I sat down with Nintendo this past week and played the upcoming first real must-own title on the 3DS. At the same time, Nintendo ran through the areas I was in, but on the Wii. The differences in visuals were night and day and that's due to Nintendo completely remastering the 3DS version. All new textures, character models, environments and more were reworked to take advantage of the unique graphic capabilities of the 3DS.

As Nintendo's Director of Product Marketing, Bill Trinen, told me -- who first started working with Nintendo on Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64 -- Nintendo used "the power of the 3DS and they tried to go in and make the characters and the models in the game look much closer to the illustrations that they released in the manual and things like that at the time."

Bill continued by stating that the Link model in the 3DS version is "much closer to [Nintendo's] image of what the characters were when they drew them in picture form (see the images in our gallery) rather than what they were able to achieve on the Nintendo 64."

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Hands-on: High Flyer Death Defyer photo
Hands-on: High Flyer Death Defyer
by Sherilynn Macale

Afraid of heights? Can’t climb down a ladder to save your life? Would you rather eat dirt than step one foot into a roller coaster? Well suck it up, buddy. This game isn’t for the weak of heart.

In Higher Flyer Death Defyer (HFDD), Game Mechanic Studios sends you plummeting down from enormous heights and through a treacherous comic book art style sky-world filled with floating cities and perilous obstacles in this action packed sky diving game.

When I met with the HFDD team at WonderCon 2011, they seemed excited but nervous to hand over their iPad in order to give me a taste of their game, stressing that it is in an “extremely alpha, alpha, alpha” stage. 

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Hands-on: inFAMOUS 2 ups the ante photo
Hands-on: inFAMOUS 2 ups the ante
by Dale North

I don't follow sports, but I know there's some kind of most improved award that they give players. From what I've seen so far, the gaming equivalent of this award would have to go to inFAMOUS 2. I thoroughly enjoyed the first game, but it needed some polish and attention. Judging from what I saw at a press event last night, Sucker Punch went above and beyond for inFamous 2.

This is how you do sequels, folks.

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Hands-on: User-generated content in inFAMOUS 2 photo
Hands-on: User-generated content in inFAMOUS 2
by Dale North

To me, the original inFAMOUS featured an almost ideal sandbox game world. Running around with such explosive, limitless power made me feel like I could do anything in the game, and that felt pretty great. But now I know that this was only the beginning. Imagine having the tools to create your own missions to play through in this world. Imagine being the hero of your own missions. The new user-generated content ability in inFAMOUS 2 lets you create just about anything you can imagine, and then share it, making this sandbox a whole lot more fun to play in.

At a inFAMOUS 2 media event last night I got to try out a few examples of user-created content. I also made an attempt to put some of my own ideas for a mission together.

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Preview: Alice: Madness Returns photo
Preview: Alice: Madness Returns
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

Alice: Madness Returns picks up eleven years after the original game and we quickly learn that Alice is still not right in the head. Alice still suffers from survivor's guilt after her family was killed in a deadly fire, so she must go back to Wonderland in order to heal herself and find out the real cause of her family's death.

You see, the official story is that the deadly fire was started by a cat that had knocked over a lamp. As you go on your journey in Wonderland though, you come to discover that Alice's memories aren't matching up with the "official story." 

I won't really be touching too much on the story, as Samit Sarkar did that himself recently. Instead, I'll be focusing more on the core gameplay and controls.

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Preview: Spider-Man: Edge of Time photo
Preview: Spider-Man: Edge of Time
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

The next Spider-Man adventure will see Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 working together through time in order to fix a timestream gone awry. When Spider-Man 2099 is fighting an evil scientist, the madman somehow gets sent back through time where he proceeds to ensure a better and brighter future for himself. As a result, the future of New York is completely changed and no one knows any better except for Spider-Man 2099.

Spider-Man 2099 figures out a way to telepathically communicate with Amazing Spider-Man through time and convinces him that the life he is living isn't right. Not only is the perfect life that Peter Parker living wrong, but he's set to meet his end very soon.

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Preview: L.A. Noire photo
Preview: L.A. Noire
by Samit Sarkar

Until last year, Team Bondi’s L.A. Noire had been something of an enigma. Since it bears the Rockstar name, many assumed that it would simply be a Grand Theft Auto-style adventure set in 1940s Los Angeles instead of the ’80s, ’90s, or the present. After watching a half-hour demo of the game at PAX East, I can say that while it shares some elements with Rockstar’s previous crime thrillers, I’ve never seen a game quite like this before.

Will you be driving around an open-world city and shooting people in L.A. Noire? Yes, but that’s not the focus. I used the word “adventure” earlier, and in fact, that’s what stood out to me in the demo. This game retains some of the familiar trappings of GTA, but at its heart, it can perhaps be best described as an evolution of the classic point-and-click adventure game.

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Preview: Shadows of the Damned photo
Preview: Shadows of the Damned
by Samit Sarkar

Grasshopper Manufacture’s Suda51 is renowned for quirky, out-there games that often have something to say, even if it’s through juvenile humor. As the creator of Capcom’s seminal Resident Evil franchise, Shinji Mikami knows a thing or two about action-horror games. And as evinced by his work on the Silent Hill series, composer Akira Yamaoka is a master of creating a chilling atmosphere.

Those three creative minds have joined to bring you Shadows of the Damned, a third-person action game that offers familiar demon-killing gameplay, yet is a uniquely Suda51-style experience. In mid-February, I was treated to a twenty-minute demo of an early section of the game, and what I saw was a game with Japanese design and Western trappings.

[See the GDC trailer here.]

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12:20 PM on 03.08.2011

The story of Alice: Madness Returns will make you think

American McGee's Alice is finally getting a sequel eleven years after its release in Alice: Madness Returns, and both the creator, American McGee himself, and the original writer/executive producer, R.J. Berg, are returning a...

Samit Sarkar



Preview: Alice: Madness Returns photo
Preview: Alice: Madness Returns
by Samit Sarkar

Eleven years ago, American McGee’s Alice saw an accidental fire consume Alice’s home in Victorian London, along with her family. Wracked with survivor’s guilt, Alice attempted to commit suicide and was committed to the Rutledge Asylum. While institutionalized there, she revisited the Wonderland of her childhood, which had decayed under the iron fist of the Queen of Hearts. By destroying the Queen -- the physical manifestation of her own insanity -- Alice restored Wonderland to its original splendor and was declared stable enough to venture out into the real world.

But Alice isn’t ready to handle life on her own. Eleven years after leaving Rutledge, she remains under the care of a London psychiatrist, and her past continues to haunt her. Her madness has returned, and she must make her way through Wonderland once again to heal the world (and by extension, herself). This time, though, there’s an insidious wrinkle: perhaps the fire that started it all didn’t start by accident.

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Preview: Yar's Revenge photo
Preview: Yar's Revenge
by Samit Sarkar

Yars’ Revenge, which launched in May 1981 for the Atari 2600, ended up being Atari’s best-selling original title on the seminal console. Twenty-nine years later, the publisher is releasing a reboot of sorts that re-imagines the game as a third-person on-rails shooter in the vein of Rez or Sin & Punishment.

Killspace Entertainment, a Hollywood-based studio that former Obsidian, Pandemic, Red 5, and EA Los Angeles employees formed in January 2009, is developing the new game. I recently had the opportunity to try it out for myself at an Atari press event in New York. Either Yar’s Revenge is difficult, or I’m just not very good at rail shooters. It’s probably the latter.

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Preview: Hunted: The Demon's Forge photo
Preview: Hunted: The Demon's Forge
by Samit Sarkar

I recently sat down with Matt Findley, president of inXile Entertainment, to play and discuss the studio’s upcoming hack-and-slash action game, Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. “Fantasy’s the roots” of the title, he said, since it’s “what got me into this business twenty years ago.” Findley and inXile love fantasy games, “but the problem with fantasy right now is [that] there’s no action games,” he explained.

That’s the void that Hunted attempts to fill -- it’s a cover-based third-person action game with Gears of War’s trademark “stop-and-pop” shooting (of arrows instead of bullets, mind you) and a traditional fantasy aesthetic. Perhaps more significantly, inXile designed the game around co-op play. Its two leads, the human Caddoc and the elf E’lara -- who each represent the epitome of their particular gender -- are the key in making Hunted stand out.

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4:20 PM on 03.01.2011

Splash Damage addressing common shooter issues with Brink

I gathered from my conversation with Brink’s lead writer, Edward Stern, that the game’s developers at Splash Damage believe certain problems to be endemic to the shooter genre, and that they’re trying to pro...

Samit Sarkar