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Tech photo
Tech

Fallout fans: Build your own functional PIP-Boy today!


*Assuming you are much smarter than me
May 01
// Allistair Pinsof
In the age of the iPhone, the benefits of an armband computer that weighs you down is ludicrous. Nevertheless, Fallout's PIP-Boy 3000 is among the most wanted fictional tech toys among game enthusiasts. Hell, even the milita...
Cyberjunk photo
Cyberjunk

Shadowrun Returns now available for pre-purchase on Steam


Also, new video shows Matrix realm
May 01
// Allistair Pinsof
Cyberpunk role-playing game Shadowrun Returns is now available for pre-purchase on Steam. $17.99 for the standard version or $31.49 for the deluxe version, which includes a soundtrack and an eBook (PDF) that contains short s...
Always bet on Duke photo
Always bet on Duke

The REAL Duke Nukem Forever released 16 years later


DNF 2013 is based on levels from original DNF trailer
May 01
// Allistair Pinsof
Gearbox's Duke Nukem Forever may be a let down, but things are looking up with the release of a fan-made mod that recreates Duke Nukem Forever's E3 2001 trailer in the Duke Nukem 3D engine. The results are glorious. Let me t...

This is not an article about David Cage

Apr 29 // Allistair Pinsof
It's kind of uncomfortable. The Tribeca host who introduced Cage on the stage is now staring at the side of Cage’s face with dead eyes, like a cat high on feed who believes the kitchen wall has something very important to say about cat life. It makes me think of that wonderful Konami E3 press event. Meanwhile, the audience is staring at their answerphones, occasionally looking up to see if that guy ... yes that guy is still talking, well okay then ... In the most long-winded way possible, Cage explains that his latest game Beyond: Two Souls is about a homeless girl on the run and a ghost buddy that helps her out. He says that but with 500 extra words about emotion, art, and thoughts on the future of videogames. I'm just kind of occupied by the press notes I was handed that proclaim him to be the creator of "story bending," an innovative technique that blurs the line between player and storyteller. Tribeca should have also included the rumor that Cage invented the internet. The Cage may leave GDC, but the GDC may not leave the Cage.Who is David Cage? I thought I saw him pretty clear in one moment. Actress Ellen Page, who plays the female lead in Beyond: Two Souls, commends Cage's directing in a really forced, Hollywood-nice way, like you do on a panel in front of 200+ people. Cage just stares at the ground with a goofy smile. Like a shy fat kid complemented by his piano teacher, he's so overwhelmed he can't work up the words. These are the moments Cage lives for. Moments of validation. He's a starf*cker, too, but of a different type. He wants to be a fox skin that David Lynch wears around his neck and occasionally pets. People seem to really dislike Cage around here. It's rare a Cage-related story is posted without the majority of comments ruthlessly tearing the guy apart, staff included. I can't help but laugh at some of these comments because there is truth to them. There is also truth to something Herman Hesse said, "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us." Reacting to low review scores like falling on a sword, gamers can be overly emotional -- just about every topic online is met with a heated reaction. There is often a desire for validation, wanting film critics and politicians to respect and love our medium as we do. You ARE David Cage (how's that for a twist ending?) OK, I lied again. I'm going to talk about David Cage for five more paragraphs. But know now, starf*ckers, this is not an article about David Cage. It is about the technology, creative talent, and studio that lets Cage be Cage as he approaches a new era of MAXIMUM CAGE with Beyond: Two Souls and his upcoming PlayStation 4 title, of which we only know contains old-man tech. Hollywood olds need love too. Despite being flown across the country, shacked up in a hotel that looks like a futuristic, glass hen house for humans with more money and escorts than they can shake their dicks at (Dear fellow at room 1908, I enjoyed the discussion you and your two female friends had at 2 A.M. about who has the “most perfect tits.” Glad you settled it. Sincerely.) and invited to a game demo disguised as a film premiere, I didn’t actually talk to David Cage. Frankly, I don't think I'm missing much. The man has said a lot. He’s a vocal and emotional speaker who wants games to progress. Whether you agree with him on what a game is or what “progress” really means is not as important as that he is such a visible figure that you can know what he stands for at all. This is a man, after all, who recreated himself virtually so he could introduce the player to his virtual game (see: 2005’s Indigo Prophecy). He stands up for what he believes in, sometimes against gamers and sometimes against ratings boards. I think this is a good thing. So, really, this is an article about everything not David Cage that goes on at Quantic Dream. But, you probably shouldn't take my word for things at this point. Similar to Cage, I too like to pause the dialog so I can seek validation for my interests and hobbies. I spent $40+ on macarons: please let me know if this is agreeable, dear reader. Dat dank motion capture tech I’ve been thinking lately, is it David Cage’s fault that Heavy Rain kind of sucks? Do note I say “kind of,” as I enjoyed the game. The atmosphere, quick-time events that made interacting with controller into a game of Twister, and pace of the script was a bold and refreshing approach to adapting adventure games for current consoles. Mention TellTale's Walking Dead and I'll mention its sluggish pace, gameplay at odds with storytelling (slowly investigating every area of a train for a vague magical adventure game object while in dire straits = double ugh). But like most, I was dumb-founded by the performances and finale of Heavy Rain which is where the "sucks" part comes in after the "kind of." A better question: Is it David Cage’s fault that Beyond: Two Souls is kind of awesome? Like any Cage-related post on Destructoid, there will be comments below saying Cage isn’t even capable of making a movie. Hey poo-brains: Cage has never attempted to make a movie. That is known. What is unknown to most is the bizarre, convoluted performance capture setup Quantic Dream used during Heavy Rain: first, voice is recorded in a sound booth and captured alongside facial animation. Then, body animation is captured while the audio recording is playing. Finally, these two different elements are spliced together. Strangest of all, each performance is done solo. These different performances are stacked together to make a series of awkward conversations on screen. As Cage observantly points out, “All subtlety is lost.” Beyond: Two Souls may not be a next-gen title for consumers, but it may be called a next-gen title for those working on the production. The leap in capture equipment between Heavy Rain and Beyond is significant. Quantic Dream’s new tech lets Cage be an honest-to-God director instead of some sort of magician, miraculously making the most out of amateur French actors playing Americans with stilted dialog delivered through a complicated performance capture process. Now, Cage gets to place up to seven actors in a room that act out scenes in a tiny 20 x 20 theater where performers must wear skin-tight black suits and white balls (90+ on face alone) all over. It’s not exactly a natural setting, but neither is sitting in a make-up trailer for two hours before shooting a film. "At first it was [distracting], you can't physically touch your face if you are crying you have to break everything up," Ellen Page said at a panel following the Beyond: Two Souls screening. "I got used to it. When you shoot a movie you need to do make-up and hair every morning; this was nice because you just put on your suit and you're done. That was actually faded away pretty quickly, but of course on the first day it's unusual." This new capture setup lets Cage, at long last, be an actual director. Free of two-part recordings and isolated performances, Cage can now direct the flow of conversation, action, and (HOLY FUCKING SHIT SNACKS) emotion. The results are good. The performances are natural and, at times, powerful, even when the words are not. "From a tech standpoint, we now have the ability to capture faithfully their performance and present it in real-time 3D," Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière told me in an interview (ostensibly, the 12 minutes that I flew out to New York for -- well, that and the macaroons at Bouchon Bakery which are delicious, especially the lemon). "That wasn’t the case before. To a certain extent, why ask these terribly talented people to bring their craft to videogames if we can’t do anything? Today we can." Can? Sure. How about should? On why Ellen Page will probably never do a game again (it's hard work!) Like their writer, the characters of Beyond: Two Souls are direct, vocal about their feelings, and intensely emotional. Despite a lack of subtlety in writing, Ellen Page and her surrounding cast make it work. Color me surprised. When Heavy Rain debuted in 2010, the term "Uncanny Valley" graced many an editorial. The facial models of Heavy Rain were advanced for the time, but the crude emotional reactions created an unnerving effect -- by looking too human, these characters were suddenly freakishly non-human. Going into Beyond: Two Souls, I expected the effect to be tenfold since these are faces I know very well as a lover of film. Even Rockstar, a developer that played a key role in progressing videogame performances to where they are now, has turned against celebrity actors since the PlayStation 2 days. "When you know the actors, it’s a little more challenging for us, the developer. I think it's still not perfect. but the more tech evolves, the more we are going to have means for faithfully representing the actors," Fondaumière said, "but only now have we reached a point -- I hope you seen it tonight -- we are not totally through the uncanny valley but we are close to it. We are through it 99-percent of the time. It’s a challenge." It may read like hyperbole, but I agree. When watching the in-game performances side-by-side with the studio performances, it becomes clear how uncanny valley is a thing of the past. Part of this has to do with stylization, changing Page and Willem Dafoe's (getting that PS4 old man wrinkle tech may be the missing 1% that Fondaumière suggests) faces just enough so that they aren't an exact representation of them. Rockstar used celebrity actors to bring character depth to its rough PS2 polygonal models, leaning on immediately recognizable voices and personalities. Samuel L. Jackson plays Samuel L. Jackson, even if the script says different. In contrast, Quantic Dream is bringing character depth to celebrity actors, in hopes of weaving a more believable narrative that keeps the illusion of high stakes and consequence alive throughout the adventure. With no camera, 360 capture, no lighting, and no marks on the floor, Beyond's cast is able to enter a natural stage second only to theater. "It takes you back to the purest form of acting. It was really wild. He guided us and we had a lot of fun together," actor Eric Winter said at the panel. The experience is still a grueling one, Page said, due to shooting 30+ pages a day (compared to 3-to-5 on the set of upcoming indie thriller The East), memorizing a 2,000-page script, and delivering separate reactions that play on different emotions within the same recording session. These are issues specific to games writing that have nothing to do with technology. These challenges will be here to stay. It will be interesting to see what performers are capable of rising to the tremendous task. Ellen Page may be one of the first. Meet David Cage's dad Before meeting Fondaumière, I didn't know what a co-CEO is. I'm still not entirely sure. A nice way of putting it is that he runs the business while Cage runs the creative process. Another way of putting it is that he's Cage's dad. He's the one that sets Cage up on his playdates with Hollywood talent, finds the funding to let Cage be Cage, and pushes for better, new technology. Without him, Cage would still be around but he wouldn't be nearly as well known. Also, dude's been knighted! KNIGHTED!!! I had one question I was very anxious to ask Fondaumière: David Cage is a very visible game designer who is vocal about his feelings on design, people either hate him or love him -- are you ever concerned with how this affects business? Fondaumière's response in full: We talk a lot about it. He and I. It’s always difficult. On one hand, we both want to move the medium forward. I, on my side, step forward and try to move things. I had a talk last week about "Are games culture?" We both don’t want to be here just to make money. We make it for a living, but we love the medium and want to push it forward. But of course there is always a risk; by talking out loud, people start pointing fingers at you and disagreeing with you. Maybe that affects the rest of the business … you have to be careful sometimes. David has even said, 'I don’t want to speak out anymore,' but I keep pushing him. He says important things and he should continue to say them; sometimes it hurts; sometimes we may lose sales because of it, but in the long run, we are pushing certain discussions forward or at least contribute to it. I think it’s important. Fondaumière shied away from directly discussing it, but it appears that he tries to influence development in subtle ways. Lately, he has been bringing on Hollywood talent to work at Quantic Dream, guiding Cage in developing his stories. You can read this one of two ways: Cage only can write so many 2,000-page scripts on his own or Fondaumière read the reviews of Heavy Rain. It may just be a mix of both. "David has so many ideas that Quantic Dream doesn’t have enough resources to put all of these ideas into games," Fondaumière said. "Our job is to turn these ideas into projects. So we are trying to attract talent: script writers, directors, photographers. That’s currently what we are working on. It’s challenging but a very interesting process." Cage is now joined by two other writers in script writing Quantic Dream's PS4 game in development. The results are "very positive" Fondaumière said, but are they positive enough to sustain Quantic Dream? No other developer puts such a focus on narrative storytelling while pursuing expensive talent and production, which makes me wonder if Quantic Dream can survive the FPS-hungry market climate. Does Beyond: Two Souls have to sell more than Heavy Rain, in order for Quantic Dream to continue, I asked. "If it’d sale the same, yes. It’d be sustainable business. The production budget of Beyond is comparable but a little higher than Heavy Rain," Fondaumière said. Fondaumière said the project will be a success if it sells 2.5 million units, but he hopes it well sell more. MAXIMUM CAGE Evolving capture technology, Hollywood talent, an amiable business partner. These are the things that let David Cage be David Cage. But, there is one other thing that I haven't mentioned yet: YOU, the people who buy his games, discuss his GDC talks, and listen to what he says. It's validation Cage wants and it's validation you give, even by hating him. But why not validate him and his arguments, when no one else is getting on stage? No one else is going to Tribeca or insisting on spending a chunk of its production budget on Hollywood talent. Cage is a contradiction of sorts. He's a pioneer but not a visionary. A director but not one always concerned with game design. He is not gaming's David Lynch, because gaming's David Lynch hasn't arrived yet. David Cage has to come first, along with all the things that prop him up.There is no red button we can slam that will prevent David Cage from being David Cage. So, let's hope MAXIMUM CAGE is a good thing.
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Ok, I lied
The first twelve paragraphs are about David Cage. AKA David De Gruttola. AKA Composer-turned-game designer. AKA Founder of French developer Quantic Dream, responsible for excellent implementation of David Bowie (see: Omikron)...

PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

David Cage joined by film writers and directors on PS4


Cage refuses to direct anyone else's screenplay
Apr 29
// Allistair Pinsof
It's not normal for a man to write a 2,000 page script or direct a 10+ hour film, so I can't blame David Cage if all of Beyond: Two Souls isn't golden. Realizing how this strains developer Quantic Dream's game director, co-CE...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Quantic Dream's PS4 engine predates Beyond: Two Souls


Company began work on PS4 over two years ago
Apr 28
// Allistair Pinsof
When I asked Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière if its upcoming, untitled PlayStation 4 game would be based on Beyond: Two Souls' engine, I got a response I wasn't expecting. The developer began development ...

Beyond: Two Souls Tribeca trailer + 35 minutes of footage

Apr 28 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]252645:48402:0[/embed] If you do watch, you'll see just how far Cage has come as a director, presenting scenes from interesting angles and getting great performances out of his cast. You also may see some questionable writing choices. Keep your eyes pealed for the cleanest birth ever and a man reacting to Jodie landing from a three story jump by saying "I don't know how you did that, but it was incredible!" It certainly is emotional.  
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Let's talk about emotions and stuff
Say what you want about David Cage, but I dare you to watch the above trailer and not be impressed. I feel you are going to prove me wrong, but join me, however briefly, with enthusiasm for Beyond: Two Soul's immense trailer...

Hollywood photo
Hollywood

Heavy Rain was written for John Goodman and Clive Owen


David Cage's ideal Hollywood cast revealed
Apr 28
// Allistair Pinsof
David Cage has said in the past that he writes characters with actors in mind for roles. With better tech and a bigger budget, Cage finally got the cast he wanted with Beyond: Two Souls which stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe...
Beyond: 2 Soups photo
Beyond: 2 Soups

Watch hour-long Beyond scene and trailer on stream


Live from Tribeca Film Festival
Apr 26
// Allistair Pinsof
Just because I'm in New York this weekend covering Beyond: Two Soul's presence at the Tribeca Film Festival, doesn't mean you have to. Have to be in New York that is, since the hour-long clip and trailer will be live streamed...
Batman photo
Batman

Rumor: Scribblenauts Unmasked takes place in DC universe


PC, Wii U, and 3DS superhero title may make E3 appearance
Apr 26
// Allistair Pinsof
The next Scribblenauts, tentatively titled Scribblenauts Unmasked, will take place in the universe of DC Comics, including characters like Batman and locations like the Batcave, IGN reports. The title is for PC, Wii U, and 3D...

XCOM shooter re-emerges as The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Apr 26 // Allistair Pinsof
Much of what was shown and said about the 2010 and 2011 demos of XCOM (the shooter) remain true with The Bureau. The game divides its missions with trips to the underground headquarters where salvaged alien tech can be used to gain advantages in combat. There will also be optional sidequests, including the Codebreakers pre-order missions. Like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the player will direct teammates who can permanently die. Like Gearbox's similar FPS/RTS-hybrid Brothers in Arms, the player can't run into combat with guns blazing and find success. The player must apply Battle Focus, which lets the them take tactical control: command allies to take cover, move position, or attack certain enemies. The Bureau associate producer Andrew Dutra says XCOM is about being a hero without playing Rambo. "A soldier is gone for good," Andrew told me. "Our war doesn’t stop for you. Each mission moves the campaign and plot forward. You can’t grind. Consequences have actions." Dutra confirmed to me that the leaked images from October were legit but from an earlier, unpolished version of the game. The images did confirm one of the biggest transitions from the original reveal to its current retitling announcement: a change in perspective. "We've been taking that vision from 2011, iterating on it and making it into a full game," Dutra said about the impressive E3 2011 demo. "One big transition is getting away from the third-person and first-person mix. We just went all in with third person for battlefield awareness. The DNA of what we showed there was team tactics in real time. We’ve been refining it and getting it ready for primetime." Though we have yet to get hands-on, at least in theory The Bureau sounds like the best of both worlds. Fans of the previous trailers will still get the cool atmosphere, 1962 setting, and accessible combat. Fans of the original XCOM and Firaxis' recent reboot will get the tension (via permadeath), tactics, and same world. "People turned off by turn-based games will get something a little more action-packed and approachable," Dutra said. I'm especially interested to see how The Bureau sets up the world and organization of Enemy Unknown and how deeply tied together the two games will be. Maybe we'll even see DLC content for Enemy Unknown that takes place in The Bureau's 1962, or vice versa. I'm glad that we are getting a world where both of these titles can exist. Now I'm hoping I live in a world where both titles are successful.
The Bureau: XCOM photo
An origin story about the XCOM organization
2K Marin's first-person XCOM reboot, first shown in 2010, has undergone some changes: 1) It's now a third-person tactical shooter slated for a $59.99 retail release on August 20 for  Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. 2) ...

THQ properties photo
THQ properties

Future of Darksiders is uncertain in Nordic Games' hands


No developers, no plans, and maybe not enough money
Apr 24
// Allistair Pinsof
Nordic who? After announcing publisher Nordic Games gained rights to THQ's Darksiders and Red Faction, I saw many ask who Nordic Games is and what its plans are for these series. I'd reference you to Wikipedia for the first p...
The Black Tower photo
The Black Tower

Final Fantasy's PS1 glory days recaptured in indie game


The Black Tower is an RPG epic in the style of classic Square RPGs
Apr 23
// Allistair Pinsof
What becomes antiquated will eventually become cool again. It happened to 16-bit sidescrollers and voxels, so why not pre-rendered backgrounds and world maps? The Black Tower is a love letter to PlayStation Japanese RPGs, cu...
Gunslinger  photo
Gunslinger

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger shoots the sheriff on May 22


Techland take the series back to the Old West
Apr 22
// Allistair Pinsof
Techland's Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, the latest entry in the Western FPS series, will hit PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and PC on May 22. Even with a new trailer, I still don't have a good grip on exactly what thi...
Sperm is not real photo
Sperm is not real

Grand Theft Auto V viral video introduces new character


Also, confirms sperm is not real
Apr 22
// Allistair Pinsof
Rockstar posted a video (which doubles as a downloadable screensaver) that lists The Epsilon Program's -- the Scientology parody first introduced in San Andreas' radio ads -- values. Hidden behind the text are scenic day-nig...
Gearbox photo
Gearbox

Gearbox has rights to classic RTS Homeworld


Plans to bring Homeworld 1 & 2 to digital platforms
Apr 22
// Allistair Pinsof
Update: Along with Darksiders, Red Faction, and other THQ properties getting picked up by Nordic Games for a cool $4.9 million, it's come to light that Gearbox spent $1.35 million in acquiring Homeworld. Borderlands developer...
Workout photo
Workout

Virtual reality is the future of treadmills ... I think?


Harder, Better, Faster, Sweatier
Apr 19
// Allistair Pinsof
You don't need a gym when you have a 3DS and elliptical machine, I've realized in recent months. Playing Fire Emblem while working my calfs is both great fun and great fitness, yet my mind has been wondering what else is out...
SimShady photo
SimShady

Upcoming SimCity patch will address top requested fixes


Servers will be down during this April 22, 1 PM PST update
Apr 19
// Allistair Pinsof
On April 22, SimCity will continue its arduous trek to becoming a game worthy of its name. The Update 2.0 patch will address "a number of top-requested bug fixes and improvements," according to developer Maxis. Along with som...
Dishonored photo
Dishonored

Dishonored's lore summed up in a minute


They make it sound so simple
Apr 19
// Allistair Pinsof
Dishonored is the game with the racists people in the sky? Or is it the one with the head crabs? I've been playing Black Mesa and BioShock Infinite recently, so Dishonored feels like a distant memory, despite it being my per...
CS:GO photo
CS:GO

Play Super Mario Bros. within a Counter-Strike map


Now this is the sort of crazy mod hack I've been waiting for out of CS:GO
Apr 19
// Allistair Pinsof
Sometimes you need to put down the AK-47, pause the terrorist hunt, and play Super Mario Bros. Using a server plugin, a clever modder that goes by the name skwumpy created the Sourcemod Entertainment System or SMES, which le...

Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Apr 19 // Allistair Pinsof
Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Wii U)Developer: NetherRealm StudiosPublisher: Warner Bros. Interactive EntertainmentRelease: April 16, 2013MSRP: $59.99I don’t know who Cyborg is. Nor do I know how to pull off the intricate combos that one needs in order to survive in a tournament. Consider this a disclaimer of sorts: I come to Injustice mainly as a fan of NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat reboot. Some DC fans that come mainly to see their favorite heroes interact may grimace at my confession, but that’s the beauty of Injustice: by the very nature of its concept, it speaks to a greater audience than most fighting games can dream of. More importantly, it successfully makes the most of it.I don’t dare to compare Injustice’s single-player campaign to Mortal Kombat’s (which was what I loved most of all in that release). For one thing, Injustice doesn’t have the novelty of working within a set storyline or the nostalgia trip that revisiting old arenas and characters brought out of me. Instead of B-movie camp, Injustice brings B-comic spectacle. Like with MK9, Injustice offers a cinematic story that seamlessly blends the transition from cutscene to combat while offering loads of memorable, over the top battles. Unlike MK9, the battles that occur with controller in hand compare favorably to the non-interactive cinematics. [embed]252010:48226:0[/embed]When I call Injustice a “B-comic,” it’s a mighty generous word choice. “Hot garbage” may be more accurate. But there is bad trash and then there is good trash. Exploring an alternate universe where Superman mistakenly fired a laser at his girlfriend’s belly which sets off a nuclear weapon that destroys the world? Good trash. Explaining Superman being as strong as The Joker with  nanomachines (did I miss Kojima's name in the credits?) Good trash. Frequently pitting characters against their evil doppelganger? Okay trash. Maybe I don’t have the stomach for such a trashy comic book story because I felt downright exhausted and confused in the game’s final stretches. I often couldn’t tell apart the good versions of characters to their bad counterparts, nor could I keep track of which one is on whose side -- a lot of traditionally evil characters, such as Lex Luthor, are good guys in this alternate dimension which serves as an excuse to let the player control them. While the overall story is a mess, Injustice manages to give every notable hero and villain faithful dialog and some time in the spotlight. Most DC characters take themselves way too seriously, which makes for a story that is the opposite of Joss Whedon’s Avengers. For this reason, I wish the fun loving, wise cracking characters, like Joker and Green Arrow, had a greater presence throughout the entirety of this six hour adventure. It's still worth seeing the story to its end, as it contains loads of eye candy and ridiculous fights. When compared to the brutal challenges available both offline and online, Injustice’s story mode is essentially a tutorial that familiarizes the player with most (but not all) of its characters and mechanics. It’s a good thing too because approaching the game’s traditional Battle mode, S.T.A.R. challenge rooms, and multiplayer can be downright daunting out of the gate, even for MK9 players. You may not find Raiden or Scorpion, but Injustice builds upon the foundation of MK9 without feeling like a sequel. From layout (three punches, must hold back or down to block) to the game’s unique environment and character specific abilities, Injustice is very much its own thing, both within the MK series and the greater history of fighting games.Here’s what makes Injustice a tricky game to learn, at first: the tactical options available to you are dependent on your character AND arena. It’s true that every character in a fighting game is (or at least should) offer its own learning curve, but Injustice provides a special character trait button that can be radically different from character to character. Batman’s trait can summon instant projectiles that slowly refill, while Doomsday can activate a shield that decreases damage. Most traits fall into these two categories but there are also some unique ones like Flash, who can slow down time temporary. Between my own experience and observing players online, it seems it’s easy to forget these perks even exist since they are so unique to Injustice. I can only imagine what can be achieved with them, once the competitive fighting game community tears into the game.One thing veteran players may not immediately take to is Injustice’s interactive arenas that supply creative ways of dealing damage. That motorcycle in the background can be hijacked and driven into Solomon Grundy. Suddenly being cornered isn’t such a bad thing, since there is a button to launch a rocket at Batman. Many of these objects react differently depending on the character. Bigger characters can pick up and throw objects, roguish characters can plant bombs on them, and nimble characters can use them as springboards. Discovering which category your character falls into will take some trial-and-error. I fought many online matches where it was hilariously apparent that my opponent expected to throw an object at me instead of hurl himself into my uppercut. Players can also kick opponents into entirely different areas of a level, triggering an over the top scenario during the transition. It’s too early for anyone to have the authority to say that these environmental elements make for an unbalanced game -- you still need to spend meter and consider timing and positioning, after all -- but those who are concerned can disable them in local play. MK9’s super bar returns with the ability to power-up special moves, counter the enemy, and unleash a devastating blow via outlandish cinematic when full. What worked in MK9 works well here. Injustice side-steps Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe’s limp finales by filling the void of grotesque finishers with hysterical super moves that defy even comic logic: Batman ghost rides the Batmobile, Aquaman feeds his sharks, and Doomsday auditions for the next Asura’s Wrath. Discovering each special is part of the fun. Even though these lengthy moves (along with arena transitions) can put a halt to the action, I never grew tired of watching. Injustice has a generous cast of characters (24 with more to come via DLC) that cleverly remixes abilities and builds from Mortal Kombat. Sure, Batman has a hook shot that brings to mind Scorpion and Shazam is comparable to Raiden, but no character feels like a direct copy of any Mortal Kombat favorite. I was pleasantly surprised then to find myself becoming so attached to the characters, especially Aquaman. I got comfortable with a couple others, while there are still others I have barely toyed with. Each character has a great range of moves that is further amplified by environmental objects. You may find players machine gun spamming with Deathstroke this week, only to find Nightwing’s furious combos become favored next week.Online offers ranked and player matches with a ranking system and netcode that worked as promised during my post-release sessions. There are no tag team matches, but Injustice makes up for it with its awesome revision of King of the Hill. Eight players can occupy a room, compete for the crown, set challenges for themselves (that will earn them XP), and bet XP on players in a match. This mode can be a double-edged sword for newbies, as you’ll likely lose when you play against the king but you can also learn a lot by watching others play. But screw learning! Simply watching the environments crumble and the insane special moves is fun enough. I feel exhausted writing this review, as I constantly remind myself of all the parts I haven’t even touched on yet. The massive S.T.A.R. Lab that offers 240 character-specific challenges, arcade-style Battle mode that places a variety of mutators on matches (play while poisoned, for example), and a huge amount of unlockables (costumes, art, XP boosts) all deserve more attention than I can give in this review without droning on. Also, these are my least favorite parts of the package along with the lack of character-specific tutorials. At the same time, I can see these being someone’s favorite parts. Injustice is large in both concept and execution. Just as some may come for MK gameplay instead of DC characters, some may stay for offline challenges while others settle into online matches.Going into Injustice, I worried that as much as I enjoyed the game that I would wish it was just a Mortal Kombat game instead. My greatest fear was unfounded. As much as I enjoyed the game’s outlandish story, intense combat, and various modes, I can only imagine how much more it will mean to someone who is also a DC junkie. Instead of asking for Sub-Zero to appear in Injustice, I am now prepared to ask for Aquaman DLC in the next Mortal Kombat. Because Aquaman feeds his enemies to sharks. And that’s pretty badass.
Injustice review photo
Can't justify this love
When DC Comics’ most popular heroes and villains appeared in 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Aquaman was nowhere to be found. Thought of as a laughing stock with a shaky history in videogames -- the less sai...

Need for sequels photo
Need for sequels

Criterion is moving away from racing games and sequels


Creative director says next game will not be a Need for Speed, Burnout, or Black sequel
Apr 15
// Allistair Pinsof
Criterion creative director Alex Ward has had enough with floating rumors, so he's taken to Twitter to debunk speculation that his team is working on a Need for Speed or Burnout sequel. In addition, he said his next game won'...

BioShock Infinite is the history lesson gamers deserve

Apr 15 // Allistair Pinsof
Great science-fiction, from The Twilight Zone to Star Trek, provides commentary on the state of our society through the lens of another, offering an outlandish world that parallels ours in ways subtle enough to be lost on the greater populace. Instead of focusing on the present, Infinite focuses on our overlooked past, exploring a history in miniature that isn't talked about much. It's the forgotten history of our country. America never floated away or invented sky-hooks, but the majority of Columbia's history is not so unlike our own. Columbia isn't a complete fantasy and that's what makes Infinite such a brilliant, disturbing, and emotionally complex adventure at times. Before going further, I must warn that there will be early-to-mid-game plot spoilers. I also recommend reading Rober Rath's excellent historic look at Infinite on The Escapist. I will not go as into depth, but I owe his history lesson a great deal as it opened my eyes to what makes Infinite such a smart game. Booker DeWitt, Infinite's anti-hero, is the embodiment of America's ills of the time that it wished its citizens would quickly forget, ignore, and move past. Booker served at Wounded Knee, where 150-300 Native Americans were slaughtered, many of which were unarmed women and children fleeing. After that, he became an agent at the government funded Pinkerton Agency that hunted down and armed union leaders that protested for fairer treatment at factories and other industries. Whether Booker is a willing participant in 20th century America's deplorable acts or a victim of being part of a country that would ask him to do these things is something that is left to the player to decide. Perhaps, a closer look at Columbia may guide your feelings. While Rapture was an outlandish social experiment populated by cartoon psychos that embodied unrestrained Objectivism, Columbia explores unrestrained Capitalism that mirrors America in the early 20th century to a surprisingly accurate degree. Columbia has three leaders that progress the story throughout Infinite: Fink the industrial leader, Fitzroy the anarchist leader, and Comstock the spiritual leader. To tax the black more than the white, is that not cruel? To forbid the mixing of the races, is that not cruel? To give the vote to the white man, and deny it to the yellow, the black, the red, is that not cruel? Hm. But is it not cruel to banish your children from a perfect garden? Or drown your flock under an ocean of water? Cruelty can be instructive. And what is Columbia, if not the schoolhouse of the Lord? - Comstock Comstock's pursuit of spiritually cleansing the world (via fire and brimstone) makes him feel it's okay if the lower class and minorities are treated like caged animals as long as the true men of worth (read: wealth) live honorable lives. Comstock's philosophy and actions reflect those of the Third Great Awakening ministers of the mid-to-late 19th century. Comstock's take may be a bit more extreme, but it's a fair comparison, nonetheless. These beliefs and leaders also made their way into colleges, industry, and political offices. That Comstock is a spiritual leader who also runs the city is not so far fetched. It's this philosophy that allows a man like Fink to exist. The truth is, I don't have a lot of time for all that prophecy nonsense. I tell you, belief is...is just a commodity. And old Comstock, well, he does produce. But, like any tradesman, he's obliged to barter his product for the earthly ores. You see, one does not raise a barn on song alone, no sir! Why, that's Fink timber, a Fink hammer, and Fink's hand to swing it. He needs me...lest he soil his own. - Jeremiah Fink Discovering Fink and his hellhole factory Finkton is one of the most interesting parts of Infinite, as it lets the player see what really goes on below the realm of shiny happy people. There are parts of Finkton that seem far too extreme to have ever been part of American history, but it's really not. Paying employees with time tokens? That happened. Having laborers compete at work auctions? Yes. Threatening unhappy work forces with hired military force? It didn't stop with Booker leaving the Pinkertons. In fact, most of these awful conditions continued until the 1930s. You ever see a forest at the beginning of a fire? Before the first flame, you see them possums and squirrels, runnin' through the trees. They know what's coming. But the fat bears with their bellies fulla' honey, well--you can't hardly wake them up from their comfortable hibernation. We're going to Emporia. And then, we gon' see what it takes to rouse them from their slumber. - Daisy Fitzroy And then there is Fitzroy, who went from Comstock caretaker to being wanted for assassination attempts against the Comstock house. In our history classes, we like to pretend that progress was made in the treatment of factory workers, minorities, and lower class through discussions on Capital Hill. As Infinite so aptly demonstrates, it's through bloodshed that these discussions were ever even raised. Horrific acts of terrorism, that led to public bombings and the death of innocents, were done on the part of unhappy workers who demanded change, even if it meant death must come first. Fitzroy may be a monster but her environment made her that way. If these class terrorists never acted, would America be what it is today? This is what I love about Infinite. It demands you to look at America's history and not ignore the hard truth. Great force is necessary to incite great change. There will always be a janitor to clean up the upper classes' mess. And unrestrained capitalism can create a society in unrest. But maybe you got something else out of it, because Infinite is so subtle in its delivery that it never tells you what to think. It only asks you to look. Science fiction serves as a conduit to serving the player a history lesson in condensed time, Wounded Knee, zealots, and worker retaliation all fit on the same platter through the game's use of science fiction. It paints a much clearer picture of American history, since it is taken out of context and exists in its own little floating utopia. To say that you disagree with Columbia's actions is to say you disagree with America's actions of the time, but you likely wouldn't know it. It's unfortunate then that all the interesting ideas, characters, and places of Infinite get thrown out in the final act, as the narrative turns the lens off its world and onto its protagonist. Much like the original BioShock, it's the world that I invested in and fell in love with so the finale felt like a distraction. So much of a distraction that it seems like the only thing I see people discussing when there is a much more interesting dialog to be had about the game's representation of early America. From the abandoned Six Days in Fallujah to the lukewarm Spec Ops: The Line, we've often been let down by game developers' reluctance to provide commentary on America, industry, war, and politics in the way that great films like Apocalypse Now and There Will Be Blood have done. BioShock Infinite is the first game to really put the lens on our country and dare to have us ask ethical questions. If the downloadable expansions to come don't further explore the world of Columbia and its combating leader's ideologies (or explore new ones), I'll be disappointed because science-fiction is only the tool that gets us to the point of introspection. It is a means to an end, but never the actual end. So, let's observe, continue this dialog, and hope another developer comes along that is as daring and smart as Irrational. We could use another, but that we focus so heavily on violence and science-fiction logic makes me worry that we may not be mature enough an audience to deserve one.
BioShock Lessons photo
Made in America
According to Google, "Boxer Rebellion", "Pinkerton" and "Wounded Knee" have been trending lately. BioShock Infinite is teaching gamers about the American history that often evades classrooms, churches, and homes. After years ...

pretty badass photo
pretty badass

Become the crazy nastyass badger in Shelter


By Pid developer, Might and Delight
Apr 15
// Allistair Pinsof
Pid was one of the most charming games I played in 2012, so it's no surprise that developer Might and Delight's next project, Shelter, focuses on the most mighty and delightful creature in the animal kingdom: the crazy nasty...
Mickey Mouse photo
Mickey Mouse

Castle of Illusion remake announced for PSN, XBLA, and PC


Nostalgia engaged
Apr 15
// Allistair Pinsof
Remember the '90s? Before our eyes ever (accidentally) set upon Disney hentai and before Mickey Mouse got thrown into a bunch of lame platformers? We had Castle of Illusion and it was enough to get me giddy to visit my grand...
Tetris photo
Tetris

Apple co-founder shows off his legendary Tetris skills


Woz the Tetris wiz
Apr 12
// Allistair Pinsof
Steve Wozniak is an oddity. Though many know Wozniak for his work at Apple, in his earlier days he was known for his work with videogames, both as a designer (creating Atari's Breakout) and player. This video shot by Game In...
Road Rash photo
Road Rash

Road Redemption channels Road Rash for 21st century


Get those chains ready
Apr 12
// Allistair Pinsof
It's been a long time since there was a Road Rash sequel, but Road Redemption may take away the ache of waiting. Composed of a team with 35 years of combined experience and in production since 2009, Road Redemption is a homa...
Crime, indeed photo
Crime, indeed

Taito's Crime Connection wants your phone's contact info


I'd rather pay to play than agree to these terms
Apr 11
// Allistair Pinsof
Crime Connection, the latest iOS and Android title from Square Enix subsidiary Taito, is a free-to-play "social crime simulation" in the style of Mafia Wars. There is a serious caveat to the game, however, and I'm not talking...
Dark Souls 2 trailer photo
Dark Souls 2 trailer

Cram this Dark Souls II trailer into your dark holes


Nothing like dramatic pans to get your audience excited
Apr 11
// Allistair Pinsof
It's been Dark Souls II day at Destructoid, as we finally got to see it in action in footage, screens, and in person. Now, Namco Bandai presents this gloomy teaser ("Despair") that shows off some of the environments. Yeah, t...
layoffs photo
layoffs

EA Montreal faces more layoffs, rumored studio closure


EA Montreal is to be shutdown, says source
Apr 11
// Allistair Pinsof
EA Mobile in Montreal faces 200 - 250 employee layoffs with more to come, a source with connections to EA Mobile told Gamasutra, and the studio will gradually become completely shutdown. EA confirmed layoffs but said that the...

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