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Preview: FIFA 13 Wii U has some fly new features

Aug 04 // Steven Hansen
FIFA 13 (Wii U) Developer: EA Canada Publisher: Electronic Arts Release: 2012 The team at EA Canada emphasized a focus on making the game more accessible, largely for the expected Wii U audience, which might very well consist of more “casual” players. This consideration has led the team to realize that the series features some staggering complexity and seemingly labyrinthine menus, and some streamlining was in order. For whatever reason, people seem to recoil at the mention of the word streamlining, but everything I was shown was a more sensible way of accessing the game’s hidden depth. It keeps the action flowing, and you might never have to go into the pause menu and fish through menus again. The Wii U controller’s touch screen has several different tabs while you play FIFA 13, the basic of which is the gameplay tab. What you see on your TV screen is displayed in the Gameplay tab when it’s selected (theoretically, you could cede the TV and play a match all on this screen without too much of a hitch). The touch screen can be used both for passing and sending players on runs. The tap to pass mechanic worked incredibly well in the Vita version of FIFA, so I’m glad to see it back. While you can tap a teammate to pass to them specifically, you can also tap an area on the field to pass the ball too. Combined with the ability to touch a teammate and send them on a run in any given direction, no longer is your passing game shackled by the AI not sending players where you want them to be or reacting too slowly for whatever attacking strategy you’re trying to employ. The gameplay tab also features the new shake and shoot mechanic. When you feel you’re ready to take a shot on the goal, a gentle shake of the controller turns the touch screen into a one to one representation of the goal, allowing you to place shots with pinpoint accuracy and power dependent on how long you hold your finger down. I loved this feature in FIFA Soccer Vita, though it was relegated to the back touch, allowing you to always keep your thumbs on the sticks. Despite the initial trepidation of taking my thumb off the left stick (the one you move with) to shoot with the Wii U’s touch mechanic, I quickly found myself placing balls on the left side of the net as easily as the right side. There were a few other new footballing features on display. Before matches, you can use the Wii U gyroscope to look around stadiums through the controller in a first-person view, which is sort of neat, given how painstakingly recreated these venues are. The gyroscope also allows for a new penalty kick option, in which you aim your shot with a similar first-person reticle by moving the controller. Then, you can apply curve with the left stick in the desired direction and shoot per usual with the face buttons, holding for power. As much as I love the control afforded by the tap to shoot mechanic, I was equally impressed by the streamlining done by the other available tabs. The Manager Central tab, for example, gives you a full view of the pitch and little representative player icons, which you can tap for a player’s general stats, as well as their current game performance. This of course makes the manager mode much easier to navigate, but also lets less nimble fingered folks take part in the action, controlling the more strategic side while up to four other players do the actual footballing (you can have the full five players in direct control, too). Still, these nifty tabs aren’t merely a way to allow dad or a little brother to get in on the action as unobtrusively as possible. Being able to handle your substitutions without pausing the game, for example, is a great way to keep things flowing smoothly, particularly when you’re playing online and your opponent pauses the game, leading to that moment when you don’t know if they’re about to quit on you, going to disappear for a while, or just handle some strategy. Similarly, you can change your formations with simple taps, allowing you to easily adapt your style of play relative to what’s going on. There’s also a marked man option that tells your AI to paint themselves over a particular opposing player who’s giving you trouble, as opposed to playing the default shifting zone. For those who are playing in manager mode, there is a full tactics tab that handles some of the most minute details. You can change mentality and use standard tactics, but you can also be specific, like setting your team not only to counterattack, but to specifically set themselves up for long, medium, or short passes. You can have a bit more direct control over your AI subordinates in this mode too. For example, you can strongly suggest a player pass in any given instant, which they will do if it’s viable, just like you’re a manager screaming on the sidelines. You can even sit a player if they don’t do what you say (though they generally will). There’s a morale system for under performing and unhappy players at half and you can choose to motivate, criticize, or praise them. If they react well to your pep talk, they get a small boost in the second half. If they don’t take to it, they may do worse yet. It may be missing out on some of the subtle additions that the PS3 and 360 editions of FIFA 13 are receiving, but FIFA 13 on the Wii U has its own little bag of tricks to draw from. Good tricks, no less; not gimmicks as all of the touch mechanics are great. The tap to shoot ability gives you rewarding control over where you’re trying to put your shots, while being able to handle some of the tactical minutia without stopping play keeps things moving at a steady clip. There’s even a friends tab that allows you to see your Wii U friends and send them messages or game invites with ease right from the FIFA 13 interface, with a full onscreen keyboard. That’s pretty big on a Nintendo console.
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Madden 13 isn’t the only EA sports title launching alongside Nintendo’s incoming Wii U, as FIFA 13 will be too. Much like how the Vita’s FIFA Soccer was built on the framework of FIFA 11, FIFA 13 on the Wii ...

Destructoid's most wanted PlayStation 3 games of 2012

Jan 10 // Kyle MacGregor
  The Last Guardian (PlayStation 3) Developer: Team IcoPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentRelease: 2012 It wouldn't be a "most anticipated PS3" list without The Last Guardian, right? This game's numerous and lengthy delays -- I've put it on this list for three straight years, now -- haven't reduced my anticipation for it at all. What does have me somewhat worried is the departure from Sony of the project's visionary director, Team Ico's Fumito Ueda; at least he'll finish the game, and at this point, we're still assuming that that'll happen this year.Ueda's previous games, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, stand as singular experiences that Sony made even better with high-definition remasters last year. Check them out, and you'll understand why fans are still waiting with bated breath to see the tale of this boy and his avian-feline friend play out. Journey (PlayStation Network) Developer: thatgamecompanyPublisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Release: Spring 2012 Jenova Chen, Kellee Santiago, and their studio thatgamecompany made a name for themselves with their 2009 PSN title, Flower. It was a fundamentally simple game that nonetheless elicited passionate emotional responses from players, and few (if any) other titles since have matched it in those respects.Journey is the studio's next game. A robed figure traverses a desolate desert and the extant markers of an ancient civilization that lie within: such is the basic premise. I played a segment of that journey in last year's beta; while the arid world evoked a sense of isolation, my interactions with the stone remnants of the land's previous inhabitants brought out a connection with the past that mitigated my loneliness. That's something thatgamecompany and few other developers can do. The Last of Us (PlayStation 3) Developer: Naughty DogPublisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Release: 2012 Thanks to its critically acclaimed Uncharted games, Naughty Dog has earned a reputation for crafting exciting thrill-ride action titles with a story and characters worth caring about. Considering that pedigree, anticipation for the studio's next project would have been high regardless of the subject matter.The Last of Us centers on a man and a teenage girl trying to survive in a world that has been overrun by zombie-like creatures. The word "zombie" might cause some people to dismiss the game out of hand, but remember that very little about Uncharted could be called "original"; instead, Naughty Dog has proven itself adept at taking familiar genre trappings (in Uncharted's case, Indiana Jones-esque pulp action) and tweaking them in service of the story the studio wants to tell. Early word is that the team seeks to explore survival elements and that old serious-story standby, the human condition, in a tale that may evoke comics like The Walking Dead and Y: The Last Man. My body is ready. Honorable mentions: Twisted Metal, Papo & Yo, MLB 12 The Show, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD     I Am Alive (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade) Developer: Ubisoft ShanghaiPublisher: UbisoftRelease: Q1 2012 After almost four years of near-silence regarding their forthcoming post-apocalyptic survival title, Ubisoft finally looks like they're ready to release I Am Alive. The game follows a man on a journey to return to his hometown and find his family. Unfortunately for him, he must traverse an urban wasteland, brave the elements, and come toe-to-toe with other survivors who will do anything to stay alive. Finger on the trigger of a pistol, one bullet left in the chamber, a frightened stranger approaches. What do you do? There's nothing more dangerous than an animal backed into a corner, nothing scarier than the dark recesses of the human mind. I'm ever so eager to find myself in these types of situations and make meaningful decisions. I just really, really hope that Ubisoft can capitalize on this title's conceptual potential.  SSX (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Developer: EA CanadaPublisher: EA SportsRelease: February 28, 2012 Back during E3 last year, I recall strolling into a dimly lit room for a viewing of EA's forthcoming SSX title. I entered as a casual fan of the series, mildly enthused for another extreme snowboard romp, but left among the converted. Just imagine opening up Google Earth, simply zooming in on any given mountain range and dropping in on a slope for an exhilarating run to the bottom. The team at EA Canada has borrowed intricate satellite data from NASA to virtually recreate entire mountain ranges and let players drop in on some of the most iconic peaks on the planet. Outside of the traditional races and score attack modes, SSX features "boss battles" where players travel to some of the most dangerous peaks on the planet and brave the elements that make them so deadly. During the demonstration, the developers showed off a stage featuring a dynamic avalanche where the speed and direction at which the player hits the angle of repose triggers a unique deluge that the player must outrun to stay alive. Even now months later I'm enthralled by the possibilities of what else EA Canada has in store. February 28 cannot come soon enough.  Far Cry 3 (PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360) Developer: Ubisoft MontrealPublisher: UbisoftRelease: 2012 I could probably talk about Far Cry 2 all day. Despite all its failures and unrealized ambitions, its design supported player agency and offered nonlinear gameplay in ways that few games even dare to try, much less realize with a modicum of success. Allowing the player to approach a situation from any standpoint with any strategy and essentially design their own experience in such a vivid and immersive game world made Far Cry 2 an exciting step forward for the medium.  Far Cry 3 returns the series to the tropical setting of an island chain in the South Pacific. The story follows Jason Brody, a tourist who has been caught up in a violent civil conflict and must employ his survivalist resourcefulness to escape with his life. Should Ubisoft capitalize on the strengths of the existing formula and do away with the frustrations, Far Cry 3 could not only be be an incredibly captivating title, but one that continues to pioneer where its predecessor left off. Honorable mentions: Metro Last Light, Zone of the Enders HD Collection Additional Staff Picks for PlayStation 3:  Chad Concelmo: Final Fantasy XIII-2, Journey, The Last of UsSean Daisy: Inversion, Journey, The Last GuardianAndrew Kauz: BioShock Infinite, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Tales of Graces fJonathan Holmes: The Last Guardian, Lollipop Chainsaw, Persona 4: Ultimate Mayonaka ArenaTara Long: Journey, The Last of UsAllistair Pinsof: Dust 514, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White WitchJonathan Ross: The Last GuardianMaurice Tan: Journey, The Last of UsMax Scoville: Journey, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White WitchJosh Tolentino: Dust 514, Journey, The Last of Us 
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The past year has been an interesting one for Sony. The PlayStation 3 finally began to hit its stride, a new portable finally emerged, and an "unauthorized intrusion" resulted in a month-long network outage. That major p...

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EA talks 'evolution' of SSX franchise at gamescom


Aug 21
// Daniel Carneiro
Good news, everyone! SSX is fantastic... well at least the pre-alpha demo we were able to play was. All concerns about the game being "Call of Dutified" can be put to rest once and for all. The controls are spot on and the v...

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