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Preview: inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood

Oct 17 // Marc Paris
inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood (PlayStation 3)Developer: Sucker Punch Productions Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America Release: October 25, 2011 Festival of Blood takes place in the same setting as inFAMOUS 2. On Pyre Night (a New Marias holiday that's like a mix between Halloween and Mardi Gra) Cole MacGrath is bitten by the vampire queen Bloody Mary, the leader of a vampire cult that is rampaging through New Marias. In classic vampire story telling, Cole has one night to find and destroy Bloody Mary before he completely turns into a vampire and New Marias falls to her wicked plans. The narrative of the story is told through the eyes of my favorite inFAMOUS character, Zeke. While trying to pick up a sexy lady at a bar, Zeke retells the events of Pyre Night to try and impress the young bar patron. This provides a fun twist to the narrative since it's unclear if the events playing out in Festival of Blood have actually happened or if they are really Zeke embellishing aspects of the story to impress this young lady. Either way, Zeke provides his comedy stylings to keep things fun while Cole fights his way to Bloody Mary. During the course of FoB, Cole will be able to harness some of the more positive aspects of turning into a vampire. Cole will gain new powers through the night, such as the ability to turn into a pack of bats and fly around the city. The duration of flight is determined by the amount of blood that Cole has sucked out of the New Marias population. You can walk up to any NPC and suck their blood by pushing the R1 button. Since it's encouraged to suck other people's blood, the morality system of past inFAMOUS games is gone. Personally, I like how the game forces the player to not worry about always doing the morally right or wrong thing now. Cole has to stop Bloody Mary at any cost, and if that means a few citizens have to lose a couple pints of blood, so be it. The ability to fly is not only a great way of transverse the cityscape, it can also be a tactical weapon in combat. Whenever the creatures of the night start to get the upper hand in a fight you can transform and get some distance to regroup and formulate a new strategy. The enemies in FoB mean business and planning out how to take them down is key. Besides your standard vampires, you'll battle against fast moving harpies and the stronger first bloods (giant bat/vampire baddies like those seen in the bar fight in the movie From Dust Till Dawn.) The harpies are particularly cool enemies since they can stick to walls and attack you from unorthodox positions. What also makes the enemies in FoB so formidable is that they can blend in seamlessly with the normal New Marias citizens. Don't expect to rely on your radar either as you won't know you're being attacked until the baddies turn into their vampire form. New powers and enemies aren't the only new experiences you'll have in FoB. There are a number new areas to explore in New Marias in the form of underground catacombs. The catacomb sections reminded me a lot of the sewer section in the first inFAMOUS. While I wasn't shown how big these areas are I was shown some of the other changes that New Marias has gone through for it's Pyre Night celebrations. The streets are covered with big statue-like creations and varies other decorations setting a more party oriented theme through out the main island of the city. There are fireworks going off and people in costumes dancing in the streets completely unaware of the chaos that's brewing under the surface. These changes only take place on the main island of New Marias but it creates a different perspective to the city and it's fun to just watch the NPCs dance around without a care in the world. While the majority of what you get with FoB is an interesting single-player campaign, you'll also be able to create your own levels with the user-generated content tools seen in inFAMOUS 2. Likewise you'll be able to play levels created by other PSN users as well. Sucker Punch has even added some cool new tools to their UGC that you'll be able to use in FoB and inFAMOUS 2 if you purchase FoB. Their new feature allows users to set up and shoot 2D images to create a better narrative aspect to their level. Users can set up enemies, objects and NPCs within the environment, manipulate facial expressions and set-up the camera angle to create shots to add more dramatically flair to their levels. With the addition of UGC and it's new features, FoB players will be getting a lot of bang for their buck. Originally Festival of Blood was said to cost $14.99 but has now been slashed to an even more appealing $9.99. Like I've stated before, Festival of Blood is a standalone product, meaning you don't have to own inFAMOUS  2 to play. This is great for players that haven't had the opportunity to try out Infamous before or gamers on a tight budget.    Festival of Blood is why I like the idea of DLC. It allows developers to have some fun with their work and create content that might normally never see the light of day. Festival of Blood will be up on the PlayStation Network on October 25, just in time for Halloween.
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When I first heard about inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood I was instantly interested in this stand alone addition to the inFAMOUS franchise. Most downloadable content today consist of either map packs and character/weapon ski...

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WWE 12 shows off its new Predator Technology


Aug 17
// Marc Paris
THQ breaks down their new Predator Technology in the latest trailer for WWE 12. I got to sit down with the guys over at THQ and when they started talking about "Predator Technology," my first thought was cloaked wrestling. W...

Preview: WWE 12

Aug 17 // Marc Paris
[embed]208860:40295[/embed] WWE 12 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)Developer: Yuke's Publisher: THQTo be released: November 22, 2011 (US) / November 25, 2011  The biggest addition to WWE 12 is the new "Predator Technology" system. This new engine allows for better rendering, animation, more dramatic camera angles, improved ring/rope physics and the ability to interrupt moves. Thus this all makes the game look and feel a lot more like the matches you see on T.V. Now when you land a high angle back drop, the impact of the slam ripples though the mat and makes the ropes shake. The camera will also get in closer to the action at certain times and really let the player get a good angle of all the pain that's taking place in the squared circle. It all comes together to form a much more realistic looking wrestling game, but the improvements don't end on just the improved looks. Gameplay wise, there's a lot going on under the surface that the average gamer might not notice at first. Instead of creating a completely different control scheme or a more complex gameplay mechanic, developer Yuke's has simplified things while adding some nice tweaks and A.I. to strengthen the core gameplay. The first thing I noticed was that the beginning of a match is much faster. Fresh opponents get up quickly after being slammed down on to the mat in the beginning too. This allows the action to start off quickly, allowing the player to get moves off fast and build some momentum. As the match progresses and the wrestlers start taking more damage, they start to slow down. This sets up a more realistic pace and makes the matches more believable and lifelike.  THQ has also tweaked how you and your opponent gain momentum. Older versions had players lose momentum when taking a beating, leading them to take more punishment. Now, much like Street Fighter IV's Ultra Combos, when you take enough of a thrashing your wrestler can preform a "Comeback." This is a series of Quick Time Events that if performed correctly, will dish out a lot of damage and even up the playing field. One of my favorite aspects was the improved reversal system. If timed correctly you can reverse strikes, grapples and moves. While it takes time to get used to, once you start pulling off reversals you can see that there's a lot of depth to the gameplay then most would think for a wrestling game. The comprehensiveness of the reversal system makes it so you always feel in control of what's going on in the ring, even if when you're not on the offensive. Another cool new feature is the limb targeting system. While grappling, you can target either the head,  left or right arm and the legs. By wearing down the limbs it'll make it easier to make opponents tapout. Pulling off submissions in WWE 12 is pretty simple, the classic button smashing formula is applied. Personally, button smashing is normally not my cup of tea as a gameplay mechanic, but for some reason it feels alright in this setting. Honestly, it had been a while since I've played a Smackdown vs Raw game, but it didn't take long to get use to the controls. Logical placement of the button configuration made the learning curve fairly short. It wasn't long before I was fighting my opponent and not the controller. Not all that surprising, the game is packed with content. With a roster of 70 plus wrestlers, 80 plus match types, Campaign mode (said to clock in around 12 hours), Universe Mode (their take on franchise mode) and creation tools for wrestlers, moves, entrances and -- brand new to the series -- arenas, there's a lot to do in the game. The new arena creation is pretty cool too. You can customize everything from the mat and apron to the barricade outside the ring. I didn't noticed a way to create your own logos so it seems that you'll be limited to pre-set logos but with over 200 of them, you're more then likely to find what you're looking for. It'll also drastically reduce the number of times you'll see the World Penis Federation pop up. It's not hard to tell that THQ has been trying really hard to improve upon the formula that they have been trying to master since the PlayStation 2 days. In fact, I'd say this is shaping up to be one of the best wrestling games of this generation. It'll be interesting to see if they can tap into the more casual wrestling fan market since this version seems to have a good mix of simplicity yet deep gameplay. Also, as a personal side note, THQ got Vader in the game and that right there just about won me over.
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It's difficult for games with annual release dates to really improve drastically from year to year. More often then not, developers choose to focus more on improving or adding one or two features and hoping it's e...

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with Gears of War 3 Executive Producer, Rod Fergusson. It was also the closest I'll probably ever get to feeling like I'm a host of a Late Night show with our interview set...


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Photosynthesis < Zombie Outbreak


Jul 07
// Marc Paris
Having just read the fourteenth vol of The Walking Dead I've been in full zombie mode, so this latest video from the crew over at dorkly was just what I was looking for. Personally, I don't know if zombies would even bother ...

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