hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

Ben Perlee

Hands-on: Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed

Nov 30 // Ben Perlee
Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed (PS3, xbox 360)Developer: Slightly Mad StudiosPublisher: EATo be released: Spring 2011 Like I said, there is now the rather unique helmet cam. I know it sounds weird, and I know it really shouldn't be something for me to be excited about, but it is pretty much the niftiest addition to the game. Much like the constant struggle between the uncanny valley and physical realism, I personally have had problems with the in-car camera for racing games. While normal first-person cams certainly looks like they should be realistic, they don't truly feel like driving a high performance vehicle.  Slightly Mad Studios apparently feels the same, so they've come up with a car camera that really, really excites me. The helmet cam is equivalent to attaching cameras to the sides of a race car driver's helmet, and as his head wobbles back and forth due to the inertia of the vehicle. The camera will swing down and outward with each turn, and every bump against cars or off the road will cause a jostle up and down. It's incredible dynamic and realistic, and while it's not the most important element of the game, it's a nice surprise to find. Unfortunately, I wasn't given too much hands-on with the title. From what I played however, Shift 2: Unleashed looks to be a very solid sim racer, with guide lines on the road to guide fresh players, and a dynamic weather/road system. As cars race around the track, the road will take damage and create a dynamic. Cars take damage, which is especially notable during the night. When your headlamps go out, night races are even more difficult. Addressing complaints against the original's lack of variety of modes, Slightly Mad has added more modes and types of events for players, and the Need for Speed Autolog is integrated. Those who like to master every track and know every detail of their races will dig this. Visually, Shift 2 unleashed is gorgeous. Using an updated graphics system, the developers were really able to push some impressive effects. From the inside of the car with the helmet cam, the player can see that light bends and shifts with realistic shadows created by the frame of the car. Even more impressive was the night versions of the tracks, as the points of light stretch and star much like they do with real windows. Wet tracks create reduced visibility, and  the game uses focus and out-of-focus elements to create a real keen sense of depth.  Interestingly, like many games this late in the console cycle, Shift 2 Unleashed is being developed with the PS3 as the primary platform, and while the game has a rather soon release date of Spring of 2011, Slightly Mad is making some bold claims. “We want to beat Gran Turismo 5 and Forza” declares Executive Producer of Shift 2 Unleashed, Marcus Nilsson. An impressive goal indeed, we'll have to see if EA's latest racing endeavor will make it king of both arcade and sim racing games.
 photo

EA's recently announced Need For Speed Shift 2: Unleashed is again a step away from the arcade style action racer. Despite the rather outlandish title, this is a racing sim more in line with Project Gotham Racing or Forza (ma...

Review: The OnLive MicroConsole and Controller

Nov 18 // Ben Perlee
If you don't know, OnLive is basically a game streaming service, much like popular video streaming sites. However, while Netflix is on plenty of TV set-top devices such as Roku, OnLive has to deal with issues like 1080p output and an idealized 60 fps. The games don't always perform at those standards, so you won't see OnLive as an app on Google TV, Apple TV, Roku, or any other set-top TV devices, at least not right now. From talking with Perlman, we know that the company is looking into all sorts of new technology to bring streaming gaming content to consumers, and everything from 4G wireless to making OnLive a third-party app for other products is being considered for the future. As for the MicroConsole becoming something more akin to the Roku or Apple TV and opening up to other third-party apps, this, too is a possibility. Perlman mentioned that they have the ability to allow other third-party services, such as Facebook and YouTube, to come to the MicroConsole, but for the here and now, it's all about OnLive and gaming. Announced for a December 2 release, consumers will receive a rather stylish black box for $99. Nestled inside is the MicroConsole, the OnLive controller, some batteries, an HDMI cable, a power cable, and a short USB cable to get the device up and running. It supports some Wi-Fi connections, but that service is still in beta, and it's strongly recommended to have wired Ethernet access. In addition, you'll have to use an HDMI port to plug the MicroConsole in, so if you don't have one on your TV, you'll have to pay $30 for an HDMI-to-component converter. In addition, if you want a rechargeable battery for the controller, it'll cost you an extra $20. Keep these in mind. However, the MicroConsole itself is a pretty and impressive little thing. It's small, too -- about as big as a large smartphone. With two USB ports, HDMI out, optical audio out, a headphone jack, an Ethernet port, and a power plug, there is very little to the device. Apparently, the tech inside is all about reducing latency, and all in all, it uses less energy than a light bulb. Again it's technically designed to output in 1080p at 60 frames per second, and it's even future-proof, capable of outputting 3D titles. While the somewhat wedge-shaped design looks good, this is a device that is easily hidden away, for once the controller is initially synced up, you technically don't ever have to see the MicroConsole again. In the end, it's the controller that is the defining hardware feature for the OnLive service. Thankfully, it's a very solid gamepad. Dual-toned with sleek matte-black-and-orange accents, it looks and plays great. All of the major buttons are here, and if you've spent any time with the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 controllers, you should be very comfortable with this. However, since it was first shown off in 2009, the controller itself has undergone some major changes. The left analog stick has switched places with the D-pad, and the D-pad has been redesigned with precision gaming in mind, especially fighting titles. All four directions can be pressed down in the center, which means you get none of the mushiness that the Xbox 360 controller, which rocks on a divot, has. Oddly, the center of the D-pad is scooped out, which I've been told makes it easier to use and harder to lose control. It's certainly unique, and while I wish there were more games that really used the D-pad, as of right now, there aren't very many. Some will love it, and some will hate it. Everything else is pretty stable. The control sticks are at a fine height, and the face buttons (X, Y, A, and B) are spaced apart the same distance as the 360 controller. The triggers have slightly more resistance than the 360 controller but with less of a clicking sound, which I like. It's ergonomic, and while the grips are just a little too small for my taste (a complaint I have about the PS3 controller as well), the OnLive controller is a great gamepad.  Interestingly, there is also a row of media buttons right underneath the control sticks. The "record" button is the only one you'll really use, as that is the proper way to capture Brag Clips, those little moments of gaming glory to be shared with other OnLive users. Currently, OnLive is showcasing a trailer for the new Harry Potter movie, so hopefully there will be a chance to use the service for more than just games. Fingers crossed. One odd fact is that the OnLive controller can only be used with the MicroConsole. As of right now, there are no drivers for the controller to be used as a generic PC gamepad, like, say, the Xbox 360 controller. So while you can use a 360 controller for OnLive PC/Mac gaming, you cannot use the OnLive controller for OnLive PC/Mac gaming. I expect a custom driver to come out eventually, but it's a strange start for such a good controller. Ultimately, if the controller is not your jam, the MicroConsole supports Bluetooth mouses and keyboards, as well as Bluetooth headsets for multiplayer. As a matter of fact, there are games on the service that can only be played with a mouse and keyboard, so make sure you have a pair lying around. Upon turning on the MicroConsole, it takes between ten and thirty seconds to get from the home screen to playing a game. This is on par with any OnLive-supporting device, and the experience here is no different from streaming it to your PC, except for one thing. If you are using the MicroConsole on a larger TV set, make sure you have a fast enough connection. It's recommended for sets over 40" to have a 5 Mbps connection; 4 Mbps is suggested for sets between 30" and 40", and you'll want 3 Mbps for sets under 30". This is because the larger the screen real-estate, the more information has to be refreshed.  Actually playing OnLive on my 50" Toshiba HDTV, I found things I loved and things I hated. Being able to jump in and play a game or demo within 30 seconds was fantastic. Titles like The Maw, Assassin's Creed II, and Darksiders played great. However, occasional network errors would funk with the buffer, causing major screen tearing and sometimes sending my character off on his own path until I could regain control. Lag was not so much of a problem for these titles (except for camera controls, oddly, with the feel being squirrely), but first-person shooters suffer from enough lag to send the nicest hardcore gamer to the nearest forum to complain. These games, such as Borderlands and Unreal Tournament III play well, but that lag will drive many nuts. Brighter and more colorful games also fared better visually. The Maw and Virtua Tennis 2009 looked almost as good as if they were freshly downloaded to my hard drive, and both played well. Unfortunately, dark games like Aliens vs. Predator have problems with washed-out blacks. Instead of being deep and solid, dark areas come across as shades of gray. For my network, I never got a game to look just as crisp and clear as if it were playing off my hard drive, and generally edges are softer in-game. It doesn't feel like 1080p gaming, truthfully. Watching Brag Clips or checking out the Arena (where you can see other players play in real time) fared a little better. Ultimately, minor to major visual problems are the reality with OnLive's service, something you'll want to check out before getting the MicroConsole. But if you do like OnLive, the MicroConsole could be great. Playing Darksiders on my TV set, I can save it, then pick up the game over at my local coffee shop on my netbook. I became a big fan of Virtua Tennis 2009 while testing the MicroConsole, and being able to take my character from my TV set to my laptop was a breeze. The back-and-forth is smartly designed, and it really doesn't get much more simple than this. Again, PC gaming on TVs and laptops is something people already perform with basic AV skills and cheap hardware, but having everything streamlined is the whole point of OnLive. For the first time, I feel like PC gaming can be as easy as playing any console title.  Ultimately, you're going to have to figure out what kind of gamer you are. Anyone who already owns a powerful gaming rig would be silly to invest money in this device, as it's not for them. But for mainstream and casual gamers looking to enter PC gaming, the OnLive MicroConsole, coming in at $99 with a controller and a free game up to $49.99 (before December 31) is a pretty fair deal. While the hardware itself is very good, at the end of the day, OnLive is a service, not a console. Anybody can turn on their computer, hook it up to their TV set and grab a controller and have exactly the same experience right now. So if you are thinking about getting the MicroConsole, I would seriously recommend downloading the OnLive software on your PC, playing around with some of the demos, and seeing if the quality is good enough for you and where you live. If you can tolerate the sometimes finicky graphical fidelity, slight lag, and the “closed-garden” approach to multiplayer and DLC (don't expect to be playing any multiplayer with your friends outside of OnLive, using mods, or getting much free DLC), the OnLive MicroConsole is a great piece of hardware. It's very high-quality, and when everything is set up, so unobtrusive that you can forget the device is actually there. The games are playable (with some griefs), but with more game options coming, some hints toward a European launch, a constantly improving service, new subscription plans in the pipe, a holiday 2010 marketing push, and even more services hinted at by the company, OnLive is quickly becoming something relevant. With the MicroConsole, OnLive no longer feels like a half-assed service, but a fully featured infrastructure for potentially a large audience. That's a good place to be.
 photo

It's really easy for PC snobs to hate on OnLive. Because it is a streaming service, visual fidelity and lag pose a serious problem, leaving many to write off OnLive before it has properly launched. And let's be real, while t...

 photo

OnLive subscription plan detailed


Nov 18
// Ben Perlee
While OnLive had been available for customers since June, it's been a fairly bare-bones service for the most part, but it looks like that's about to change. With 40 titles in their catalog and a release date for the Microcons...

Hands-on: Darkspore PvP

Nov 11 // Ben Perlee
Darkspore (PC)Developer: Maxis SoftwarePublisher: EATo be released: February 2011 Like most of these types of games, players will want to go through the single player campaign first before jumping in head first and trying to take real players on. This is important, because the single player is where new recruits will be found, as unlike the main Spore game, you wont be able to build an alien from the ground up. However, you can add all sorts of parts to customize your aliens to suit your look and stats to basically any position on the aliens' bodies. One thing the team is addressing is the ability to de-spec the equipable items, so if players want to have something that looks cool but does nothing, they can do that. After a solid amount of single player time, players are expected to have numerous squads of alien fighters. Squads are made up of three aliens at any given time, and it's expected that a good squad will have a well-balanced team. I had a huge brute of an alien with a laser gun and some tank abilities, a spindly fast alien with large claws, and a green thing that focused on projectiles and healing.  When squaring off against another player, players will want to switch out to best address the most immediate threat. Fighting against a tank character, you'll want to focus on immobilization and distance attacks, and if a healing character comes out, being fast will be a major advantage to you. Characters can be switched out any time, with only a minor cool-down. All in all, it actually feels somewhat like a real-time Pokemon game, if that makes any sense.  Unfortunately, if you are looking for massive instances with multiple players, you'll have to look somewhere else. PvP is one-vs-one or two-vs-two only, and that is the only option. Thankfully, the PvP arenas are of a small enough size, that this isn't too much of a problem. The arenas themselves have environmental hazards, such as fire shooting up from the floor. Ultimately, it looks like PvP will be a fun little addition to Darkspore. I think there needs to be a bit more to it to make it the hardcore multiplayer mode people might better like, but it's an addition that suits the nature of the game. I suspect the campaign, which can support up to four players in AI directed levels, will be where most players spend their time, but using their best fighters in a battle is something many gamers wouldn't pass down.  
 photo

When EA announced Darkspore earlier this summer, the fusion between Spore's character customization and a Diablo-esque RPG set in space makes for an interesting set-up. Last night, we had the chance to see how the game's...

Hands-on: Wildlife: Forest Survival

Nov 11 // Ben Perlee
  Wildlife: Forest Survival (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)Developer: EA Salt LakePublisher: EATo be released: Spring 2011 While the four class types seem slightly arbitrary, they are each pretty important. Wildlife follows the natural pattern of the food chain. Rabbits on the bottom, their goal is to eat as many carrots as possible, which can be found all over the various maps. Carrots don't seem to be worth many points, so rabbits have to eat a lot if they hope to win. With the best jumping skill, fastest running speed, and a “danger sense” that shows up as a hard to see ear wobble. Often times they are the only ones who can fit in certain hideaways, and they can eat poison peppers (making them poisonous) or speedy green peppers, which will make them even faster. Foxes can eat both rabbits and hawks (should the birds miss on a dive, the fox can make an easy kill), and they also see the sense trails left behind rabbits. As a larger target for the hawks and gators, they have some serious weaknesses, but have enough evasive and offensive skills, they can be quite effective at winning matches. The hawk initially has some of the best skills. Being able to fly above the forest arenas gives them a clear view of the animal shenanigans below. Diving down to kill a fox or rabbit is a bit harder than you'd think, and the rabbits are very difficult to snag. Both foxes and gators pose a threat if you fly too close to the ground and water. Gators, from my play session, seemed to struggle the most. Slow on land, but fast in the water, they can eat anything and sneak up from the ponds and creeks. At the top of the food chain, having all the food options available means there are plenty of choices, but since everything is so much faster than you, it's hard to catch up. One little feature some will find cute are unlockable skins and color options for the animals. Nothing unrealistic, but you can have a pinkish rabbit and a golden hawk for some minor customization, for example. I'm secretly hoping little hats will be unlockable. While all this is grand and good, one problem I noticed with Wildlife is balancing. There can only be four of each animal type on the map at any time, and if there is a disproportionate number of animal types on the map, it can be easy for them to dominate. Even more, certain matches would just be impossible, like just hawks vs gators. EA Salt Lake will have to balance things out before the game launches next spring. Personally, the game does feel a little simple, if totally wacky and fun. Wildlife: Forest Survival not a terribly realistic take on the food chain, but it's an enjoyable one. I don't think it has the depth of other class-based games, but it's a distinctly unique videogame. Keep an eye out for it next spring.  
 photo

Wildlife: Forest Survival is one of the weirdest class-based versus games I have ever played. Different from the upcoming Tokyo Jungle, Wildlife: Forest Survival only has four animals, and is an arena based game that's in cute forest environments. It's all rather odd, and it is certainly like nothing else on the market. Follow for more.

 photo

Hands-on with Dead Space 2's Puker


Nov 11
// Ben Perlee
Last time we checked out Dead Space 2's multiplayer, we were impressed with the Left 4 Dead-influenced survival modes. While the Humans versus Necromorphs gameplay doesn't leave for variety of modes, the core gameplay looks l...
 photo

EA announces two new downloadable titles


Nov 11
// Ben Perlee
Last night, EA held an event to showcase some of their new titles coming out for the coming winter and spring. Fantastic indeed, and in addition to all of the games the company has been developing over the last few years, Ele...
 photo

Five things you didn't know about THQ's Danny Bilson


Nov 04
// Ben Perlee
THQ is on a rise right now. After years of relying on licensed titles and WWE wrestling games, the company is stepping it up to compete with the likes of Ubisoft, EA, and Activision. With a new studio in Montreal that will ...

Hands-on: Homefront single-player

Nov 04 // Ben Perlee
Homefront (Xbox 360 [previewed], PlayStation 3, PC) Developer: Kaos Studios Publisher: THQ To be released: March 2011 From the get-go, it's clear that Homefront is very evocative of the 1980s classic Red Dawn. And for good reason, as both Homefront and Red Dawn were written by the same guy, John Milius. No wonder they both detail the collapse of the United States in the face of a united evil. Basically, in the pseudo-future of 2027, North Korea, lead by Kim Jong-Il's son, Kim Jong-Un, has united South Korea and Japan, and they've invaded the west coast of America, with San Francisco as a base. Thanks to a massive electromagnetic pulse orchestrated by the Koreans in 2025, every electrical device in America died, leaving the nation weak for an invasion. With over half the country under control by the Koreans, freedom fighters are working to liberate the nation, while the American government wallows in recover on the east coast. It's the starting point for what may continue as a series, and THQ and Kaos Studios have worked hard to make this a game that remains accurate to real-world possibilities. A very strong focus Kaos placed upon the game is creating an immediately recognizable world, and twist enough to make it that much more unnerving. The first level takes place in Montrose, a suburban Colorado town so disgustingly and stereotypically “small town” that the fact that it is overrun with North Korean tanks, soldiers, and the rubble of department stores makes for an intense juxtaposition. Hell, after your main character is placed into a school bus jury-rigged to transport prisoners, we're given a first person view of the transformation of this suburb. Young couples are torn apart, Americans of all races are forced through chain mazes for transport to labor camps, parents are shot in front of their loudly screaming toddler, a man's brains are splattered to the side of the bus. It's a startling set-up, and I have to give Kaos Studios props for creating a game world that replicates the disturbing feeling of an occupied United States. When the single player campaign boots up, player character Robert Jacobs is awoken in his ramshackle home, a real shit hole. Dragged out while the radio blares on with propaganda, he is taken to the bus to be punished. After driving past the remains of this Colorado town, the bus is rammed by a massive truck, and two American freedom fighters, foul-mouthed Connor and Rianna, charge into the bus, rescuing him. From here they gun through destroyed shops, boarded up homes, even the remains of a crashed passenger airplane to meet up with the rest of their resistance group. Unlike many other shooters, Homefront is not exactly a title in which players will be running through hallways and open areas, killing the predetermined number of enemies. Rather, Homefront feels much more like a series of congestion points where shooting takes place, and there is usually a specific object or enemy to destroy while waves of North Korean soldiers charge toward the player. Sometimes players have to take out a specific soldier, or climb through some rubble to grab some grenades, or defend a woman and her baby as soldiers rush the freedom fighters. Each packet of fighting often has a different focus that players have to figure out. At some point, I was able to gain control of the Goliath, a vehicle of obscene power that's more like an RC car than a drivable vehicle. While I'm focusing on enemy soldiers, I can switch to a different vision option and order the Goliath to move to a new area or rain hell upon enemy soldiers. After feeling very underpowered as Jacobs, ordering the Goliath to overpower the enemy was a blast. Visually, Homefront is striking. Clearly, Kaos Studios is working hard to make this an impressive looking game, with fantastic particle effects and AI direction that creates the feeling of living in a war-torn America. The level designers have done a great job of filling the world with small details that bring it to life. Using a tree house to recon the next area, one can find within a few feet children's drawings, tricycles, balls, swing sets. Down the street, a tattered "for sale" signs still advertise in front of a home, while the city hall still retains it's Fourth of July paraphernalia on the facade. Running through these areas, it's fascinating to see how Kaos Studios has reimagined America as a war zone. I would be lying if I didn't find the over-the-top “Proud to be an American” patriotism to be a little...concerning. Something about Homefront feels arrogant in the way it creates an “us vs them” mentality that foreigners find nauseating, and one of my fellow journalists, a Chinese-American, found the representations of Asians to be particularly offensive. From my time with the game, Homefront could be feeding into the fear-mongering that plagues the United States. No wonder some of my fellow journalists came away a little unsettled by the narrative focus. However, I must qualify this statement that my time with the first level alone is not particularly indicative of the main game. With the standard 6-10 hours of gameplay, there is still an opportunity for Kaos Studios to surprise us all. I'm not expecting Jacobs to just take off the blindfold we've seen in all the promotional material and suddenly find out he's Asian, but I do hope that Kaos Studios will be thoughtful and surprise us all. There's a lot of opportunity to create a game of an invaded United States, and do it in a way that doesn't offend half the planet to be entertaining. I've come away from Homefront with good feelings. For a first-person shooter, the themes are certainly unique, and a lot of effort has been placed upon creating a full realized world. I'm hopeful that the plot will surprise, and not pander to what is expected. Between the single player and the multiplayer Hamza previewed last month, there's a good chance Homefront could be the game to beat next spring.
 photo

Last month, I was fortunate to be in THQ's brand new (and massive) new development studio, THQ Montreal. It's a beautiful place, with all sorts of snazzy offerings for the future Quebecois employees. However, while that's all...

 photo

Hands-on: Donkey Kong Country Returns


Oct 28
// Ben Perlee
People have been really stoked for Donkey Kong Country Returns. And they should be! After all, the original Donkey Kong Country games remain classic fan favorites, even as DK has been pushed to the side in favor of other Ni...
 photo

Impressions: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood single-player


Oct 27
// Ben Perlee
Ubisoft has Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood coming out in just a couple of weeks, and for fans of the franchise, that means a lot. Known for the impossible feats, assassinations of real world people, and the based-in-reality ...
 photo

Impressions: Kinect Adventures


Oct 26
// Ben Perlee
No bit of hardware is any good if there is no software to show it off. Arguably, Wii Sports was the system seller for that console, and the fact it came bundled with the Wii only made the whole shebang that much more appealing. Microsoft is making the same bet by bundling Kinect with an equally casual title: Kinect Adventures. Does it measure up?
 photo

First Party Microsoft Developer Working on 3D with Kinect


Oct 26
// Ben Perlee
While Nintendo and Sony have been pretty proactive on 3D stereoscopic gaming, Microsoft has been a little quiet on the homefront. Sure, some rumors have popped up, but there has not been any real solid confirmation that the...
 photo

Impressions: Kinect Joy Ride


Oct 26
// Ben Perlee
Kinect Joy Ride has a weird history. Initially introduced as a free Xbox Live title, the game has gone on to become a flagship Kinect launch title. Kart racers are a dime a dozen, and while many have stepped up to the plate...
 photo

Impressions: Faery: Legends of Avalon


Oct 14
// Ben Perlee
It's hard to be a fairy in videogames. Remember, Navi in Ocarina of Time is universally derided, and Rare has basically gone on the record stating that Kameo just shouldn't have happened. So when a studio decides to take a ...
 photo

Hideo concert brings videogame music to Bay Area


Oct 06
// Ben Perlee
One of the most popular events for Dtoiders to go to are those annual Final Fantasy concerts, or listen into the ever popular Video Games Live, or even just watch arrangements of videogame tunes on Youtube. Something about th...
 photo

Rush'n Attack: Ex Patriot has a major problem when it comes to plot. You see, it's not the late 1980s anymore, so the rampant fear of Soviet Russia doesn't hang over us like a red curtain. So Rush'n Attack: Ex Patri...

 photo

When we last saw Hard Corps: Uprising at Comic-Con, our Dale North came away quite impressed with the flashy sidescrolling shooter from Arc System Works and Konami. After all, the stunning 2D animation makes this title p...

Impressions: Fighters Uncaged

Oct 05 // Ben Perlee
Fighters Uncaged (Kinect)Developer: AMA StudiosPublisher: UbisoftTo be released: November 4, 2010 When the developers of AMA Studios placed me in front of Kinect, it was pretty clear early on that the game was more than a little different from the rest of Ubisoft's lineup of games. This one was gritty and violent, a far cry from the cuddly animals and hoards of avatars. Designed explicitly as a hardcore title for Kinect, this one has been developed with gamers like us in mind. However, those looking for a Street Fighting knock-off should best stick with their sticks, as Fighters Uncaged is less Street Fighter and more Punch Out!!. Considering players view the action from an over-the-shoulder perspective, this makes sense. However, unlike Little Mac, main character Simon can punch, kick, elbow, sweep kick, head butt, and a whole lot more. As a matter of fact, there are over 70 different moves to perform, and while some of them are weird to pull off (I could never perform the leg sweep, and the special move—where you have to yell at the built-in mic in Kinect—was just a tad too goofy), the device is able to generally perform every move you yourself pantomime. It's a neat bit of tech, and while I can see that the training mode will help tremendously in getting a player to know what moves are most tactical, I just ended up flailing around. Which is bad, as each of the different opponents have different fighting styles, appendage preferences, specific weaknesses, and more. For example, one lighter characters might be leg heavy, so you need to prepare to block their kicks, and go heavy on hitting their head. Combos can be performed depending on the chains that are built, so it takes a lot of recognition of the opponent responses. If you are good enough, you can damage their legs and arms, creating even more weak points for you to abuse. Again, it's very evocative of a full body version of Punch Out!!, so fans of that franchise should certainly pay attention. Unfortunately, due to all of the fighting action, no more than one person can play at a time. There's really not much more to say about this, but it looks like multiplayer might be a universal problem with Kinect. For a title like Fighters Uncaged, this is a major buzz kill. Oddly, there are no female character models in the game. When I asked this to Luc Verdier, Producer of Fighters Uncaged, he was pretty upfront: there was not enough time. While the team at AMA Studios would love to have the other gender a part of the game, women will just have to fight digital representations of their gender another time. Go figure! Unfortunately, one other problem that has plagued a lot of Kinect titles is the amount of space you need to play. There is a very good reason why you never hear about Kinect titles allowing more than two players to play at any given time: the sweet spot for games to work is just too small. For example, in Fighters Uncaged, there is a box area between six to eight feet from the camera, and it's about three feet wide. Move too close or too far back, and many games balk at the player, Fighters Uncaged included. Certainly not the fault of the game, just be ready to shuffle back to that sweet spot every few minutes during particularly grueling fights. After a good twenty or so minutes with the game, I can say that Fighters Uncaged could be a novel alternative to the swarms of sports titles coming to Kinect. It's not outrageously violent, but it is certainly different from the swarms of candy colored games ready to hit the market. Between the recognized long kicks and short punches, it's clear that the game is putting the device through its paces in recognizing different moves, and that in itself is a step up from other motion controlled fighting games. Will it become the next great fighting game franchise? Probably not, as the somewhat generic art direction and the ambitious usage of Kinect means this may not be the perfect beginning of a franchise. However, there is a lot here that is exciting for a first generation Kinect title, and fans of fighting games and Punch Out!! should certainly pay attention to Fighters Uncaged.
 photo

As much as Microsoft would like to indicate, Kinect is a device that is going to leave most hardcore gamers in the cold...at least initially. With the upcoming launch set for November 4 in the States, most of the expected lau...

 photo

Beyond Good & Evil HD screenshots look hot hot hot


Sep 30
// Ben Perlee
Early this morning we announced that Ubisoft was going to be bringing Beyond Good & Evil for download in a brand new high definition update: Beyond Good & Evil HD. I did my best to make it clear that the gam...
 photo

As you can tell from some of our coverage today, Ubisoft has made some interesting announcements about upcoming downloadable titles coming over the next year or so. However, that's just the beginning of a new connective meth...

 photo

Knives Chau announced for Scott Pilgrim: The Game


Sep 30
// Ben Perlee
[Update] Video added. Since Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game released last month, people have been wondering when we were going to unlock the final secret character in the game. Nega Scott is easily attainable in th...
 photo

Ever since Ubisoft announced Beyond Good and Evil 2 in 2008, gamers have been dying to see what exactly Ubisoft was going to do with the franchise. It's been two years since then, and little has been discussed with the g...

Hands-on: Superstars V8 Racing

Sep 28 // Ben Perlee
Superstars V8 Racing (PSN)Developer: MilestonePublisher: O-GamesTo be released: October 19, 2010 I'll be real. Superstars V8 Racing is not exactly a racing circuit I'm familiar with -- not many Americans will be. It's a real-life Italian racing series using real-world V8 cars. As a matter of fact, there are only 19 racers in the whole series with only 11 teams. Unlike some recent simulation racing games, players will not be playing as a created character, rather they will be going through the racing season with actual racers.  Thankfully, the cars themselves are pretty great. Ranging from the popular BMW to the classical Maserati, these machines are true supercars, and they all will be designed to look exactly like their real-life counterparts. While this lack of customization is a bit of a bummer, props must be given to the rather unique method of making a car work for you. Entering training mode, players will race their given car around the real-life courses and tune it as they play. Edits can be made on the fly, so instead of tuning off the track, it's all done in real time to make the car race perfectly. If all that tuning doesn't sound interesting to you, the game can be switched between Arcade and Sim mode. Arcade keeps it simple and just brings you to the race, while simulation offers loads more options to change up the car. While the visuals cannot be customized, everything under the hood can be tweaked. For those who just want to race, Quick Race is the easiest method to get on the track, while a mode called Race Weekend offers timed series of tuning, time trials, then a race. Championship is the regular campaign, and this is where players will be earning most of their trophies. Finally, Superstars Licenses is a mode with 20 different specific challenges. Multiplayer is very flexible, offering up to 12 players at once; in contrast with many new titles, bots will be brought out to make sure there are always vehicles on the track. Unfortunately, there is no offline multiplayer, so no couch play will be available. As for tracks, there are 10 in all, each one based upon real-world tracks from across the world. South Africa and Portugal were two nations I saw represented, and each of these courses will be affected not only by weather but also by wear and tear. While racers have to be aware of the state of their vehicle's tires, engines, and more, they also have to be aware of the tire grime that will build up over a race, making many areas slippery.  AI itself is very aggressive, meaning new players will want to watch out and give themselves as much assistance as possible. Course markers, difficulty levels, and more are all options to make the game easier. It is a fairly difficult racing title, but simulation fans shouldn't have too much of a problem with this one. Graphically, this is a fairly impressive game, especially considering it is a downloadable title. It doesn't look like the developers skimped out on making this a good-looking game, and considering this is a full disc title in Europe (released the summer of 2009), expect this one to be a major download. As for right now, we cannot confirm if the title will support a driving wheel. However, it controls just fine with the PS3 controller. All in all, this is pretty impressive for a downloadable title. While our friends in Europe might have had plenty of time with this game, making it digital both opens up the market and could potentially make this a more successful title. It is certainly a niche game for a niche market, and avoiding the brick and mortar shops will be an interesting exercise. Look out for Superstars V8 Racing in October.
 photo

Everyone says that digital downloads are the future of gaming, but so many publishers seem to be afraid of making their product strictly digital. That's not stopping O-Games from releasing a full retail racing title onto the ...

Hands-on: Dungeon Defenders

Sep 28 // Ben Perlee
Dungeon Defenders (XBLA, PSN)Developer: Trendy EntertainmentPublisher: Reverb Publishing; Trendy EntertainmentTo be released: Winter 2010 Immediately, indications show that Dungeon Defenders has a cute little story. Four heroes have sealed away some major evil in a gigantic crystal. One day, they leave their castle to go address some problem, and they leave behind their kids. Of course, kids being kids, they screw around, break a chunk of the crystal, and unleash an evil hoard of orcs and trolls hell bent on breaking into their castle and unleashing the bigger baddie.  Thankfully, the kids themselves are pretty capable, with each representing one of four classes. First we've got the Squire, a young knight whose actions are more hack 'n' slash, while his towers act more like spin blades and cannon balls. The Mage Apprentice is an elemental projectionist, who can perform actions like mana bombs and launch fire balls, while his towers launch massive blasts of energy.  There's also the Monk character, who acts as a sort of middle ground between the Squire and the Mage Apprentice, and the final character, the Huntress, has skills based upon trapping. Unfortunately, I only had time with the Squire and the Mage Apprentice, but clearly each one is unique, with their towers ranging from turrets to barriers. Missions take place in a gigantic castle, from the lowest dungeons to the highest parapets of the the fort. Each level has a series of difficulty options to choose from, with all the best loot and experience coming from the most-difficult missions, and players are encouraged to replay levels. The missions themselves play out in two phases. The first of which is the building phase. With only a limited amount of mana (which is used to build towers and do special attacks), and a limited amount of time, players have to be quick to place barricades on hallways and stairwells that monsters may wander through. Towers can basically be dropped anywhere, from directly on the ground to on the handrails of staircases. Single players will have more time and less enemies, but multiple players can delegate duties and areas of the map to drop towers and defend against foes. That's actually where the second part of the game opens up. Waves of enemies will come charging out of monster closets, and usually you can see the bottlenecks where they come rushing forward. Typically, the turrets and barriers will generally take care of themselves, leaving you free to dive into the action yourself. However, it's important to keep checking in and making sure those defenses have not been destroyed.  Multiplayer really makes this easier, as each person can focus on a certain area of the map, or you can have someone act as a tank while other members makes sure the turrets and stuff are up to shape. It's the bosses, however, that will pose the biggest problem; I was shown a massive demon that causes some major issues in the center of one map. So while we have to deal with the regular bad guys charging toward the crystal, there is also a major boss with typical boss battle techniques -- in this case, hacking at some electric points to zap the demon -- so there can be a lot going on. It's an entirely enjoyable challenge, and it never feels unfair. Customization is out of control here. Everything from the color of your giant crystal you are protecting, to the stats of your equipment and weapons, to your skills (Wanna be a tank attacker? Or a super powerful tower master?), your character stats, and more. Considering the developers at Trendy Entertainment are super huge fans of Diablo, equipable items will fall like crazy as players defeat enemies. There is always something to do to make your character super powerful. Items themselves can be upgraded as well, so good loot can become even better. One area that deserves some major props is the graphical direction. While it's nothing super outstanding -- and the menus do feel a little cluttered -- the actual game looks pretty great, with lots of bold lines and a vivid, cartoonish representation of everything. Perhaps most exciting is the news for PS3 owners, as Dungeon Defenders supports both Move and 3D. Sure, with Move only one player can use the device, and with 3D you have to have the right TV, but it's certainly a nice bonus for the game Multiplayer is as easy as drop-in couch play, online multiplayer, and any combination of the two. Character stats are tied to your profile, so no matter what you do and what loot you get, it'll always stay with your character. Everything is very easy to deal with, and there are loads of flexibility to bring players in and out. With up to four players, there is some scaling to make sure there is still a challenge, and with all of the difficulty options, it looks like players will always have be able to take on a real challenge, whether it be one player or four. Dungeon Defenders is a true surprise. As a major fan of the tower defense genre, I found the game to be a fantastic twist on the genre. Who would have thought that the fusion between action-adventuring, multiplayer co-operative, and tower defense would work so well. It's an exciting new approach, and I'm ready to see what Trendy Entertainment and Reverb are going to launch with later this year. 
 photo

I know the guys from Reverb Communications pretty well. After all, as the PR representatives for many games like Rock Band and Deadly Premonition, they act as the middle man between publishers and games journalists. A great g...

Hands-on: Donkey Kong Country Returns

Sep 23 // Ben Perlee
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)Developer: Retro StudiosPublisher: NintendoTo be released: November 21, 2010 Donkey Kong Country Returns looks and feels like a perfect ... return ... to the franchise. Simple as that. Anyone coming back after 15 years will find that the movement, feel, and complete gameplay is a fantastic update of the original SNES titles. This time, instead of the traditional K. Rool, DK's island has been invaded by a bunch of banana-stealing Tikis. That narrative masterpiece is the basis for our game, and considering it's Donkey Kong, it'll do just fine. Once again, DK and Diddy platform as a pair across traditional left-to-right stages, but thankfully between the two of them, there are some brand new abilities to shake up the normalcy. Diddy exemplifies his monkey skills, this time clinging on DK's back instead of just following behind. Each of them have two heart points, and when they are together, DK and Diddy share four points in total. What's more, Diddy also has his jetpack most people know from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, so he and DK can double jump -- provided Diddy hasn't taken enough damage and peaced out. Thankfully, it's not game breaking to lose Diddy, and DK is still good by himself. Taking a move from the Wii version of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, DK can perform a ground pound by shaking the Wii Remote. Holding down and shaking, DK and Diddy will blow from their mouths -- which, while a weird new technique -- is good for taking down the fire enemies and solving simple puzzles.  Things become more dynamic once multiplayer starts up. Unlike the original games, where each player would have to alternate between controlling the duo, Donkey Kong Country Returns offers full live co-op. Once Diddy is running on his own, it's clear he has a few more tricks up his sleeve. In addition to his faster walking speed, jetpack, cartwheel and generally higher jump, Diddy can also shoot from his peanut popgun. It's a great little addition, and it makes multiplayer that much more fun. The two characters are different enough that they compliment each other, and the reduced health means the game is still balanced. Even better, switching to single-player is as easy as a button press, meaning those difficult sections can be performed by a more-capable player should it come to that. Perhaps the most exciting elements to return to Donkey Kong Country Returns is the addition of his animal friends. As anyone will remember, Rambi the Rhino, Espresso the Ostrich, and Engarde the Swordfish, among others, made up some of the most-enjoyable segments of the Donkey Kong Country franchise. I'm very pleased to say that these moments will be making a solid return, although the only one confirmed so far is Rambi. His segments are great. While only one player can control the rhino, Diddy can still shoot his popgun ahead of him while Rambi plows forward. If you watched the trailer that went up yesterday, you'll see that Rambi's stages usually entail racing forward while ruins crumble beneath the trio. It's fun, and while it's nothing new, it's done so perfectly that it's hard to not be charmed by the big guy. As everyone knows, the most graphically successful Wii titles are the games that cause style, charm, and all the little touches necessary to come together and make a cohesive and visually pleasing game. Retro Studios has done an amazing job of making the world of Donkey Kong Country Returns full of activity and dynamism. Each of the levels have small visual cues that make the world of Donkey Kong vibrant and exuberant. From the way Donkey Kong's grass hut warps cartoonishly when he fights the invading Tikis, to the active volcano in the background of the stage, or how a giant octopus' tentacles will wrap throughout a screen with the charm of a cartoon character, each level is always moving and always buzzing with activity.   This focus on making a fully realized Donkey Kong world is best realized on the Sunset Shore, one of many levels in which Donkey Kong and Diddy must journey through the sunsets and vistas of the their island. During these levels, DK, Diddy, and everything from left to right are stylized shadows with bright red ties and baseball caps. Sure, it's something "aped" from EXIT and Shank, but it's done so well that it's hard to hold it against the game.  This level alone means Kirby's Epic Yarn has some competition for this year's best-looking game on the Wii. Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the cleanest, sharpest and fantastically stylized games on the platform. Once again, it looks like Nintendo has the right approach to making a game that works within the confines of the Wii and produces something fresh, nostalgic, and gorgeous to look at.  Of course, not just the levels were visually dynamic. Each stage feels truly special and unique, while still fitting in perfectly with the whole title. One level comes across as a traditional jungle platforming stage, and then the next is a wet, ruined temple. Stormy seas, ruins of gigantic Mayan monkeys, a huge angry octopus, minecart levels, stages based upon DK's animal buddies, and barrel-based stages all showcase the variety. What is also new is how our simian crew can jump between different planes of the jungle during specific moments in a level. So, at one moment, they'll be close to the screen, and the next they will be way in the distance. Again, this is something Super Paper Mario did, and it's an enjoyable little touch that makes puzzles a bit more perplexing. All in all, the stages are fun and difficult, offering new tricks on Donkey Kong Country platforming, and with all the bananas, puzzle pieces, KONG coins, and banana coins you can collect. Retro Studios has done something entirely remarkable here. Donkey Kong Country Returns is such a solid and true sequel to the franchise. It's great to see a studio pick up what Rare started and make a game that promises to be a perfect continuation of the franchise. Controlling like a dream, Donkey Kong Country Returns is as tight and responsive as the original games, all wrapped up in a bundle of tunes and iconography that screams Donkey Kong. From all the small details to the pure replication of fan-favorite gameplay, Donkey Kong Country Returns is the leader of a bunch of Wii titles coming out this holiday.
 photo

Returning to Donkey Kong Country is like returning to an old friend. Many of us have fond memories of rolling through the jungles of DK's island in, at the time, one of the most visually impressive games ever made. There were...

Preview: Apache: Air Assault

Sep 21 // Ben Perlee
Apache: Air Assault (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Develop: Gaijin EntertainmentPublisher: ActivisionTo be released: November 16, 2010 To be clear, usually these sorts of titles appeal to a specific fanbase. While military simulations are always popular, they have a tendency to alienate more casual users by not offering the right sort of experience to appeal to everyone. Thankfully, publisher Activision and Gaijin Entertainment have added variations of difficulty to make the game more enjoyable to different audiences. For those who would rather get in the chopper and not worry about technical maneuvers or careful flight techniques, there is the Training Mode. While it restricts you from performing certain helicopter actions, it does let players go through the entire campaign without too much difficulty. For a greater challenge, there is Realistic Mode, in which players have only three lives. For players who really love helicopter action, there is finally Veteran Mode, offering only one life and finite ammo.  The helicopters themselves are all Apache brand choppers: the Apache AH-64D Longbow, Apache AH-1, Apache AH-64X Experimental Prototype, MQ-8B Fire Scout, and Mi-35 Hind. While only major helicopter nerds will know the variations by name alone, players will find that each one controls and functions differently. Compared to airplanes, these machines need a wider turning radius, can obviously hover, and generally function in a manner very different from other flight simulators. Helicopters unsurprisingly have special abilities, and Apache pilots will be able to maneuver these machines vertically and nearly upside down, for example. These abilities range from hovering to shooting techniques. Dodging missiles is as easy as dropping altitude, yet to gain speed, the player must dive the Apache downward then swing up, much like a glider. There is a lot of flexibility with these vehicles, and it's going to require a minor learning curve even for those players who are comfortable with flight simulators. One impressive feature is how the helicopters handle variations of damage, such as flying with a damaged engine at the expense of mobility. However, certain parts, like the rotor blades, cannot be taken out without bad things happening. You get my drift. While flight simulators don't exactly offer in-depth plots, Apache: Air Assault tells the story of three different Apache crews working for a fictional UN military organization fighting insurgents across the world. I suppose it'll get the job done, but let's admit it, no one will be playing this game for the plot. However, missions themselves are rather dynamic. Objectives will change on the fly, and goals never take more than a few minutes to perform. The first level I was shown, taking place over the plains of Africa, guided us across bluffs and dusty roads while we took out insurgent vehicles. After reducing one insurgent town to rubble (hey, it was filled with no one but guerrilla terrorists, alright?), our Apache had to defend a fellow downed helicopter in a much larger city as insurgents attacked both us and the soldiers on the ground waiting for airlift. Success in this mission involved locking the Apache into a hover position, then switching over to a shooting mode, alternating between a tactical black-and-white vision cam that highlights enemy vehicles and an infrared cam that highlights enemy soldiers as solid white against a field of black. It looks pretty great, and once the rescue crew showed up, the mission became an escort mission. Within 15 minutes, missions varied from taking out targets, defensive aerial battles, and escort challenges. If the whole game can keep up with the variety, fans of flight simulators will have a lot to like. If not, they'll appreciate the free flight mode, with a whole set of variables to keep the gameplay dynamic. With regards to multiplayer, Gaijin Entertainment is taking a cooperative approach. Apache: Air Assault offers 13 multiplayer-exclusive modes with up to four players acting as a squadron to work through more team-based missions. Though online only, the main campaign can be completed as a co-operative team with one player acting as the pilot and the other as the gunner. Coming away from the game, it's clear that fans of air combat games and flight simulators will find a lot to appreciate and enjoy. Clearly, it's not for everyone, but it's a niche title for a niche audience. However, there seems to be a strong amount of polish and focus on making a helicopter title that works. It also helps that it is a great looking game with very lush and realistic geography and a solid draw distance. Hopefully, Gaijin Entertainment and Activision can keep things together and release a quality Apache helicopter simulator when Apache: Air Assault launches this November.
 photo

Apache: Air Assault is a special beast. While it might be considered a helicopter version of Gaijin Entertainment's IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, a military aerial simulator released in 2009, it is clearly a differ...

Hands-on: Dead Space 2 multiplayer

Sep 13 // Ben Perlee
Dead Space 2 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: Visceral GamesPublisher: Electronic ArtsTo be released: January 25, 2011 Dead Space 2's multiplayer boils down to this: it's a traditional 4v4 versus mode seen in many games. However, there is a decidedly Left 4 Dead feel to the mode, as four players are rocking the human engineers, and the other four crawl about as the twisted Necromorphs. Yep, fans of ganking will have a blast with this one, as nothing is more satisfying than killing some dude as a baby tentacle monster with a couple of your buddies. With regards to the basic gameplay, this is about it, with one team trying to escape, and the Necromorphs just trying to eff things up. There is a slight RPG system at play, however, as players will be earning experience to receive different customization options for the game. These can be weapons for the humans and attack variations for the Necromorphs, as well as aesthetic changes. Experience can be spent at the Shop area, and hopefully the unlockable options promote multiple playthroughs. Dead Space 2's multiplayer is admittedly a little light on variations. As a matter of fact, there are only five arenas to work through, and there is only one mode to play through. If it initially seems anemic, it's not. The goal is to make these five arenas feel more robust, with each one offering slightly different gameplay offerings. I was shown two levels, Titan Mines and and Escape. Titan Mines required players to try and move bomb parts to different areas of a mine, while Escape required the human players to charge forward through a spaceship to escape pods. There's enough distinct differences between these two levels, and with three more offered, hopefully we can see some strong variables in levels alone. One nice touch is that -- keeping with Dead Space's zero HUD rule -- the scores and timer is posted on physical leaderboards placed around the map. It's a neat little touch. Playing as the humans, controls are just as you'd expect. Players have options for two weapons at a time, and, like I mentioned before, they can earn more options and loadouts to be used in multiplayer. Playing as humans is instantly recognizable and easy to jump into, and while having three friends with you means the game is not quite as isolating as the single-player game, this is certainly a creepy multiplayer component; you're always on the search for Necromorphs jumping out and attacking. It's very intense. However, we know what's what, and most people are interested in playing as the Necromorphs. Much like the Special Infected from Left 4 Dead, the Necromorphs have special abilities distinct from the human players. There are four in total, but we were only shown three of these horrific beasts. First of all was the Pack, a small child Necromorph that is fast and dangerous. Designed to rush behind the human players and hack away, these weaker Necromorphs were great at overwhelming the human force. Another option is the Lurker, which very much looks like a baby crawling around on the walls and ceilings. A good Lurker will sit on the ceiling or a pillar and shoot acid at the humans. They too can run up and attack, but they are much more of a distance-focused class. Finally, I played as the Spitter, a giant female Necromorph with tentacles to boot. She has a chargeable acid wad she can spit, and considering her strength and power, there is an extended respawn time for her to be used. The Puker will be the last one, and he's a short range, heavy damage Necromorph, although we were not shown him in action. Each of these characters control and feel very different, and it looks like from my play time, players will fall into roles they really enjoy. I found the Lurker to be a fantastic support class, making sure that the humans never knew where exactly they were taking damage from, for example.  Actually playing as the Necromorphs is a much faster experience than say, a game like Left 4 Dead. Instead of respawning after a long 30-second cool down, the Necromorphs can respawn instantly (Spitter excluded), but they have have to choose where they will respawn. Throughout the levels are ducts that can be smashed open, so a thoughtful player will try to find a good spot to make the most damage. Spitters and Lurkers will want to spawn from across the map, and Pack necromorphs will be better suited popping out right by the humans. Helping the Necromorphs is this visual representation of the human's nervous systems, and while it's a rip off of what Left 4 Dead did years ago, it's much more visually impressive this time around. Overall, it's a frantic experience, to say the least. What is most exciting about the Dead Space 2 multiplayer is how clearly Visceral Games is working hard to make this a multiplayer game worth playing, not just some slapped on versus mode with some half-assed excuse for something unique and distinct. There is a lot of thought and involvement in making this a balanced and enjoyable experience, and while not everything is known or explained about the game, my time with it so far left me itching for more. 
 photo

Adding multiplayer to a game that is primarily known for the single-player experience is always a finicky deal. Take a look at Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, or BioShock 2. While both of these titles were able to bring so...

 photo

Tron Bonne confirmed for MvC3; Mega Man still missing


Sep 10
// Ben Perlee
First of all, watch the lovely cinematic above. It's dashing! It's brave! It's exciting! Captain America punches the crap out of a helicopter, Chun-Li proves herself worthless, Trish does some bad-ass shooting...

Hands-on: Claptrap's New Robot Revolution

Sep 09 // Ben Perlee
For those of you who don't know, the deal is that with the opening of the Vault, Hyperion Corporation has seen a massive drop in sales for its weapons. Apparently people just picking up weapons isn't great for sales. So they've sent the special Claptrap Ninja Assassin to deal with the problem. Unfortunately for them, this little guy found his race of Claptraps to be oppressed, and he's started an uprising against the dominating forces... which unfortunately, includes you. C'est la vie, I suppose. Viva la revolucion? This Robot Revolution is also a boss battle mode, of sorts. Previous bosses from the game have come back from the dead, only this time they aren't so... humanioid. (Their transformation is literally called “Getting the clap.”) Now that the Claptraps have gotten a hold of them, characters like General Knoxx have come back from the dead, half man and half Claptrap. This applies to the enemies as well, as humans, skags, and rakks are now all bionic, with tubes and wires sticking all over the place. This includes the new Tartarus Station, a train station area that is more open and less linear than the General Knoxx zone; the whole town has a "Claptrap-ified" new look. Other new additions to the game include three more backpack item slots to carry more of the new guns and items to rock out on the go. With the new level cap brought over from the latest (and free) patch, and the 20 new missions, these new add-ons are going to go a long way to making a new experience. It looks like the writing, however, is where the game will really shine. I was told that every member of the team has left their fingerprints on the humor of the title, and it shows. Killing a punching-glove equipped Claptrap, for example, and he'll die while screaming “404 error: server not found.” Lines like these are littered throughout the game, and it's often a specific brand of humor for those who spend a little bit too much time online. It's great. Throughout the new area of Tartarus Station, the impact of the Claptraps are everywhere, with fake revolution posters designed to look like Che Guevera, among others, and the whole vibe is this silly little revolution gone weird. By far it is the funniest and goofiest interpretation of the Borderlands universe. When asked if this would be the final content pack for the game, the response I received from the Gearbox rep Adam Fletcher was that Genral Knoxx was initially going to be the final expansion. So as long as fans keep playing and buying the new additions, there is a good chance Gearbox could make more after the Robot Revolution. Also, it's important for me to note that Gearbox and its employees seemed really intent to make a game that really stands up as something the fans want to play. This was indicated when I first previewed the game last year, and it certainly seems to be the case with this bit of content. The patch we reported on earlier today indicates the same thing, as that was entirely designed to please the fans. Finally, for people interested in Borderlands, but have not picked up the game, the Game of the Year edition will be coming out on October 12 for $49.99 for PC, $59.99 for consoles, with all of the downloadable content, as well as a specialized map of what Gearbox is calling “The East Coast of Pandora.” Pretty interesting, considering that means there's a whole West Coast that has not been seen. Allusions to the future, it's pretty clear that Gearbox is already preparing for the next game in the franchise. When I brought up questions about problems with the franchise, such as the lack of scaling between players at different levels, the developers just nodded their heads knowingly. Hopefully good things will be in store for the future. Coming away from Claptrap's New Robot Revolution, I feel great that this might be the best bit of downloadable content yet. Incredibly funny and tongue-in-cheek, it's total fan service, designed for a laugh, and fun to boot. For those who haven't played any of the new downloadable content, this might be a great one to start off with. For those who have been keeping up with the add-ons, this is one not to miss. Be ready to pick this one up September 28 for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.
 photo

It's been about a year since the first time I saw Borderlands. Taking place at some quirky bar in the famous Haight district in San Francisco, the oddness of the place fit the game, and I wasn't expecting much. At that point ...


  Around the web (login to improve these)




Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -