Monday, September 28, 2009

Dead Space Extraction

Dead Space ExtractionRelease Date: September 29, 2009

When the original Dead Space premiered on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC back in October of 2008, it was a game with one goal in mind, and that was to scare the crap out of you. Well for most gamers, that is exactly what happened as they walked the haunted, bloody halls of the USG Ishimura. But not only were gamers scared senseless, they were also treated to a very enjoyable and unique game that quickly grew to one of the better games of the year. This new game, Dead space Extraction is the Wii's shot at the game that brought so much entertainment to 360/PS3/PC owners. Coming from the newly developed EA Visceral Games and third party developer Eurocom.

Dead Space Extraction is not out to create a reformed version of the original game for Wii owners. Where horror was a top priority in the original game, it comes in at a nice third place priority in Extraction behind action first and story a very close second. Dead Space Extraction is also a stand alone game from the original, with it's own story line and characters. In the original Dead Space, players stepped into the shoes of Isaac Clarke, and engineer who is stuck on the USG Ishimura trying to survive while also trying to figure out what happened to the crew and where the monsters trying to kill him came from.

Dead Space Extraction is a different game for the Wii. It is an action shooter with a large effort on narrative, uncommonly seen in the various Wii games. This game is an origins story, putting you in the shoes of a small team that takes refuge in the ship from the original game. The game begins with a colony on the planet Aegis VII. The colony excavates a strange marker and then everything goes down the toilet. After the disaster, a small team looks to find sanctuary on the USG Ishimura. which was responsible for excavating the marker. If you loved the first game, then you must play Dead Space Extraction. From the very beginning of the game you know the ending, the crew is screwed and that's that. You know nobody survives but what you don't know is how it happens, where it happens or when it happens.

The gameplay is unique, jumping you from different player to player. Everybody on the ship dies, including the character you are currently controlling, so absolutely nowhere in Extraction are you safe. The story adds components from the first game like direct narrative, audio logs, video logs and text logs to advance the story. There is a strong cast of characters who have the occasional cliche moment or silly line, but these lines are balanced pretty well with the lines that really work. However, the action is where this game really takes off.

Dead Space Extraction pounds you with action from every angle. The game gives you 9 unique guns to help rip your way through the hordes of enemies. Each weapon has a secondary fire which actually doubles your arsenal. Players are also equipped with a default pistol which also has a secondary fire. Just as in the original, you can upgrade your weapons in Extraction. However, the upgrade system in this game is a little more basic then the one we saw in the original game. The stasis feature is also back and, in this game especially, a necessity. The stasis system uses an auto refill mechanic to keep you armed. Using stasis you can fire at an enemy and keep them in stasis for 10 second intervals. Telekinesis is also an essential part of the game. Using the aim-and-click features of the Wii-mote to grab things such as supply boxes. You can also use telekinesis as an offensive weapon, using it to throw things like crates, explosive barrels and even enemy projectiles back at enemies.

Extraction also adds in a ton of new additions to the game. Things like free look moments, mini-challenges, and hijacking challenges helps to make this game the classic Dead Space transformed into a "light gun" shooter instead of a cheap spin-off created to cash in on a popular game. But, if the thing you loved most of all about the first game was the scary themes, then you may be slightly disappointed with Extraction. This game puts a lot into the action and the story but doesn't have many scares along the journey. This game is fun all the way to the end, it just isn't that scary.

If you are a hardcore gamer, then you may want to jack the difficulty up as high as possible because the game has a tendency to take it easy on the player. The battles, including the boss fights, may appear to basic for the more hardcore gamer. Then again, the Wii isn't a console many hardcore gamers are rushing out to get. However, Dead Space Extraction is one game you'd be hard pressed not to enjoy. It is definitely one of the best light gun shooters on the market and is definitely on of the best games on the Wii to date. The strategic dismemberment, which was the core gameplay mechanic of the original Dead Space, feels more at home on the Wii and it also gives a bigger sense of reward when systematically blow of the limbs of an attacking enemy.

Co-op play is also an enjoyable experience more so than it is in other light gun games. There are certain co-op moments and challenges like the hijacking challenges, where one player repairs a vehicle and the other blasts away the incoming monsters. In co-op, you will have to switch between repairing and shooting with your teammate which pressures both players equally. There is also a lot of depth in this game. A majority of shooters lack depth and variety. However, that is not the case in Extraction's 8 hour campaign and 10 different challenge modes. Dead Space Extraction also comes with the full motion comic book that was created to help promote the first game.

The game looks great, sounds great and plays great. It is definitely one of the best light gun games out and most certainly one of the best games for the Wii. Fans of the original game re sure to find pleasure in this title as well and Wii owners who have been craving a good action shooter with a good story are going to be drawn to Extraction very quickly. This is a game that everybody should pick up and try. You can get your hands on Dead Space Extraction tomorrow, September 29, 2009.

Source: IGN

Monday, September 21, 2009

Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3: ODSTThe Halo Franchise is one of the biggest selling games series in history. The original Halo, which debuted on the original Xbox in 2001, was one of the fastest selling games ever and became an instant classic. Since then the Halo has spawned two sequels and a strategy game and has now even branched off into a spin off type game with the new Halo 3: ODST.

In the 2004 game Halo 2, the Covenant, the alien antagonists of the series, discovered the location of Earth and launched an all out assault on the African city of New Mombasa. The United Nations Space Command (UNSC) was able to repel most of the fleet though a single ship landed above the city. The ship eventually escaped via a slipspace jump which created a shockwave that destroyed most of the city. Halo 2's storyline follows the carrier to the ring world of Halo.

Halo 3: ODST takes place after the ship retreats and the marines go off to fight the Covenant. Players take control of a rookie ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) who lands in New Mombasa with his team to figure out what happened in New Mombasa, what happened to the citizens and what happened to the Marines that went to defend it before them.

ODST is the first Halo game to offer players a perspective not from that of the first three game's protagonist known as Master Chief. The story takes place in the same time frame as Halo 2 but from a different point of view.

Since players are not assuming the role of the super human Master Chief, and are instead playing as an average rookie soldier, gameplay will be slightly different. Players will not possess the ability to jump as high or to run as fast. Players will also not have the same damage absorbing energy shield that Master Chief has. Instead, players health will be based on a stamina threshold. Players can regain stamina by resting however, should damage more than that of their stamina bar be taken, players will experience a permanent health loss which can be regained through the use of medpacks scattered throughout the game.

To offset the lack of special abilities, the ODST will have access to brand new weapons for the series which include a suppressed sub-machine gun and a pistol throwback to the original Halo pistol. The players HUD (heads up display) has also undergone a few changes. Now players will be able to enter a scan mode similar to the one seen in Star Wars: Republic Commando and other games. This new feature is called the VISR (Virtual Intelligence System Reconnaissance). The VISR gives you a compass and targeting reticule and outlines enemies in red and important objects in yellow though has no radar.

The campaign of ODST can be played either solo or with up to three other players. As the rookie, your goal is to discover what happened in New Mombasa while trying to regroup with your team. Players receive flashbacks via pieces of evidence found in the game's environments at which point the player takes control of that missing soldier. After you find the first beacon, the next step is up to you thanks to the open world demographic of the game allowing you to play the campaign levels in any way you want.

It wouldn't be a Halo game if it didn't have multiplayer. Halo redefined online multiplayer and it is a necessity for the multiplayer of ODST to be top notch. ODST is a branch off of Halo 3 so it doesn't have its own multiplayer maps. Instead, players will be able to play all 24 multiplayer maps from Halo 3. These 24 maps consist of Halo 3's original maps (Construct, Epitaph, Guardian, High Ground, Isolation, Last Resort, Narrows, Sandtrap, Snowbound, The Pit and Valhalla), the Heroic Map Pack (Foundry, Rat's Nest and Standoff), the Legendary Map Pack (Avalanche, Blackout and Ghost Town), the Cold Storage Map Pack and the Mythic Map Pack (Assembly, Orbital and Sandbox). ODST will contain three new maps (Citadel, Heretic and Longshore). The multiplayer comes to ODST via a second multiplayer disc shipped with the game. ODST will also include a fully integrated version of the Forge map editor from Halo 3.

There is also a new multiplayer mode in ODST called Firefight. Firefight is basically Halo's version of Horde (Gears of War 2) or Nazi Zombies (Call of Duty: World at War). Players will team up to take on increasingly more difficult waves of enemies to see how long the can last. Each player has a set number of lives and the game only ends when all players are dead. Firefight's 10 maps will be unlocked as players progress through the story. Players will be awarded medals for performing special kills and individual and team scores are tracked throughout the match.

Needless to say that ODST will be able to bring both hardcore Halo fans as well as new fans and could quite possibly bring back some fans that grew tired of the traditional Halo gameplay. It adds a lot of new features without completely removing everything that was great about the first three games. Halo 3: ODST is shaping up to be one of the best games of the year and players will get to decide that for themselves when the game releases worldwide September 22, 2009.

Source: IGN

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Video Game Sales Still Down

Video Game Sales Still Down
For the sixth month in a row, U.S. video game hardware and software sales are down from this time, last year. According to the NPD group, sales are down 16% from what they were in August of 2008 and would need to increase by 14% over the next four months to equal 2008's totals.

In August 2008, hardware sales were at $395.3 million and they are currently down 25% at $297.6 million. Software sales are down 15% from $551.9 million to $470.3 million. On the other hand, gaming accessory sales are up 2% from $137.6 million to $140,8 million These figures include video games sold in stores and online, but not digital downloads, subscriptions, or online games.

"The industry realized its sixth consecutive month-over-month decline, and while improved over the last several months, it's still a notable decline," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. She also added that both Micosoft and Sony have cut prices in the last few weeks, with Microsoft knocking $100 off the Xbox 360 and Sony doing the same for its PlayStation 3.

Frazier said the price cuts have already helped with sales and that, "It will be interesting to see the full impact of the new price points on September sales." She also added that it's possible Nintendo will lower the price of its own Wii sometime this year, even though Nintendo's Wii consoles and DS handheld devices dominated the month of August selling 552,900 and 277,400 units.

Sony's PlayStation 3 has also been the only platform to see an increase in software sales. Electronic Arts' "Madden NFL 10" game was the top selling game for the month with over 1.9 million units purchased. Software sales are expected to pick up in September with the release of two games: "Beatles: Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero 5."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bioshock 2 Multiplayer Details

Bioshock 2 MultiplayerOne of the most original and best games of 2007, Bioshock gained a following of fans almost overnight. Fans loved the game which had an immense and beautiful first person campaign with a gripping story and huge twists. The only thing the game didn't have was an online multiplayer game type. Many fans did not understand why there was no multiplayer and when asked developers said that they wanted to focus all their attention and man power on making an incredible campaign, which they did. But still, fans wanted a multiplayer game type and with the release of Bioshock 2 drawing closer each day, fans will finally get what they wished for.

What 2K Marine, developers of both games, didn't want to do was to have both game types not live up to the Bioshock standard so 2K Marine enlisted the help of Digital Extremes to create the multiplayer section of Bioshock. By creating this partnership, 2K Marine can focus their full attention on the campaign portion of the game as they did in the first one, making it just as incredible and unique where Digital Extremes can focus on the multiplayer.

The multiplayer in Bioshock 2 provides an immersive prequel experience to gamers which takes them deeper into the fiction and lore of the Bioshock universe. The multiplayer is set during the fall of Rapture, years before your character in the first game arrives. Gamers will take control of a Plasmid test subject for Sinclair Solutions. You will have all the weapons and tonics you had access to in the first Bioshock as well as the new ones added for Bioshock 2. Players will earn experience in multiplayer matches which will give them access to other plasmids, tonics and weapons, all of which can be put together into hundreds of different combinations.

Players will also get the unique experience of seeing the underwater city of Rapture before its fall and the dilapidated wasteland you see it as in the first game. Players will fight through many familiar locales from the first game as well as some new ones all of which have been given a remake to make them look like new. The player will primarily play as a citizen of Rapture though in the multiplayer trailer it was shown that you can also play as a Big Daddy. How this is achieved is unclear as of right now. My guess is that it is a bonus/achievement in the game.

All the tools you had available to you in the first game are available to you now. This includes plasmid usage, tonics, upgradeable weapons and ammo and the reemergence of the hacking mini-game. In the first Bioshock you were able to hack alarm systems, security bots and automated turrets to use to your advantage and in the new multiplayer you can also hack turrets and bots to fight for you as well as hacking first aid stations to injure others while they attempt to use it.

There have been some fear expressed with Digital Extremes making the multiplayer due to the fact that Digital Extremes are the creators of the less than popular Dark Sector game. However, upon seeing different trailers and info about the multiplayer, I have high hopes and I do not believe Digital Extremes will mess it up. Digital Extremes forte is really FPS games anyways, which is what Bioshock is.

I, for one, can not wait to get my hands on Bioshock 2 and I think the multiplayer looks like a great addition to an already amazing game franchise. Bioshock 2 is set to hit store shelves early 2010 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC so until then, watch the multiplayer video to hold you over.

Source: G4TV

Thursday, September 3, 2009

OnLive "The Future of Online Gaming"

Have you ever wanted the newest and hottest game titles instantly? Well I’m not talking about downloading torrents, sadly sharing is illegal. But this new company called OnLive is offering a new gaming console, which allows you to play games on demand through your computer, without buying a disc. Now I know a lot of you are saying, “My computer can’t run that game” or “My computer is too slow to do that.” Well, you might be right if you’re running a 1998 Gateway that can’t load a Youtube video. The system requires Windows XP/Vista/7 or any Intel-based Mac running OS X. Now even “low-end” computers can play games at HD resolution. The games are not actually saved on your computer; they are saved on your account that you sign into, so you can pick any game that you have bought and play it directly from the OnLive servers. Also OnLive will be selling a “Micro Console” that hooks up to your TV and be played like any other gaming system, but still be hooked up to the OnLive servers to play your games instantly. There have been many game developers are on board with this company including; EA, Take-Two, Ubisoft, Epic Games, Atari, Codemasters, THQ, Warner Bros., Eidos Interactive, and 2D Boy. As of right now there are 16 game titles available for the OnLive service. Some of the top name games being, F.E.A.R 2, Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3, and Bioshock. I don’t know if you will be able to play the OnLive system with a mouse and keyboard, but the system does come with a USB OnLive controller. There are supposed to be 5 North America data centers. As of right now there are only 3 in total; Santa Clara, CA; Virginia, and one in Texas. OnLive recommends that you should live within 1,000 miles from one of the servers to get the maximum “LAN quality” connection.

The system now has a beta form, and OnLive is seeking beta testers for their new console. But you need to be at least 18 years old and be in the US with broadband connection. The scheduled release date is not exact at this time, but it has been said it’s going to be released in winter 2009. As of right now there have been no price announcements that the console might cost. I am hoping that OnLive gives Microsoft and Sony a little scare over their new gaming console. I think that OnLive is going to do big things in the gaming world, and I also think that after its release Microsoft and Sony will be trying to compete with the new technology they are bringing to the field. I am going to buy an OnLive system on the release date, just because I am really excited that you will be able to play these games on a dedicated server on “LAN quality” connection, so you won’t have any lagging kids thinking they are good because they are stealing their neighbor’s internet through their mom’s laptop. Hopefully they are right about the 1,000 mile radius for the connection being at that high of quality, because that is one of the things that sets OnLive apart from the other gaming systems available right now; and OnLive has only been tested at a 350 mile radius. It’s going to be very interesting how this new system plays out. Are Microsoft and Sony going to try to compete with its new rival? Or are some of the bigger named companies like Bungie and Infinity Ward going to offer their top titles like Halo and Call of Duty for the OnLive servers? I guess we will find out during the 2009 holiday season!