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Demo Dated for New Capcom RPG Dragon’s Dogma

Awesome new hack and slash RPG Dragon's DogmaAfter unveiling the new RPG/hack & slash title at their annual press event Captivate in Rome a few weeks ago, Capcom have finally announced a release date for the Dragon’s Dogma demo.

Dropping onto Xbox Live and PSN on the 25 April in Europe, the Dragon’s Dogma demo will offer players the chance to take two of the nine classes available in the full game through two unique and exclusive prologue sequences to the main games story.

The title will also introduce the ‘Pawn’ party system where you can create a party made up of characters from the game world and those created by other players via in-game connectivity. Both the melee-based Fighter class and the stealth-savvy Strider class will each offer a unique environment and final boss encounter that will showcase their unique strengths and abilities.

Aiming to mix RPG elements with more traditional hack & slash and horror staples, Dragon’s Dogma will also offer the standard avatar customisation feature but will neatly let players port their customised demo character over to the main game.

The full version of Dragon’s Dogma will be available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on May 25.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 Announced for iOS

Marvel vs Capcom for iOS

IOS users will now be able to bring the pain on the move when the Marvel vs. Capcom sequel arrives today on iTunes!

The insane, hurricane-paced 2D-fighter mash-up will bring its full 56-character roster to the iOS version so you’ll be able to lay waste with favourites such as Ryan, Wolverine, Mega Man and Spidey. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will also bring back the popular ‘Variable System’, so players used to playing the older versions on Dreamcast or Xbox Live Arcade will be able to hot-swap between a team of characters at the touch of the screen.

Being one of the fastest pace entries in the crossover series, the pressure will be on Capcom to make this arcade classic translate onto the touch screen interface of Apple devices.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 joins other classic and popular Capcom titles on iOS such as Street Fighter IV, Mega Man X and Resident Evil 4: Platinum Edition.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will be available for download on the App Store from April 25th.

I Am Alive

Whether we like to admit it or not, we as human beings do consider the end of the world. It may not be a pleasant topic, but it is a popular one, a fact that many game developers have built, and are continuing to build, upon.

I AM ALIVE is a unique gaming experience, definitely in its own class for game play. But does the uniqueness of this particular game add or take away from its desirability? Let’s take a closer look at I AM ALIVE and see what makes this game tick shall we?

The game starts off with a video camera playing, showing our main character, Adam, making sure the camera works, and immediately you can feel the dread in this game. It’s a story of a man trying desperately trying to get back to his family, who was on the other side of the United States when the shakes began. Even the soundtrack is sad and ominous, creating the atmosphere of desperation, and determination. The little we know about Adam tells us he spent the better part of a year walking across the US, trying to reach his family, and instantly i can feel a kinship with this man, and the story has me within the first five minutes, being a family man myself I know what family does to you, how it can drive you, and the loss of it can drive you as well.

Adam is a climber, a modern day Ezio Auditore, and these skills are invaluable, as many of the walk ways are cut off, or collapsed, forcing Adam to take to the buildings, climbing up rafters, scaling ladders and poles. To make this climbing more realistic, players are given a stamina bar, which slowly empties whenever Adam runs, or climbs, forcing players to pay attention to where they are going, not having all the time in the world to sit there and decide on a path. This aspect keeps players on their toes, and keeps the  game play exciting.

Now this game isn’t without its flaws. The combat of this game is a very simple aspect, but also a very difficult one to master. You will almost always be outnumbered, so taking your enemies by surprise is the one thing that can give you a tactical advantage. Now this wouldn’t be so bad if the AI was made to compliment this. The AI are very ruthless, and when they see you they will come running, or shooting, not giving you very much time to plan your assault.

Later in the game this is fine because you receive more weapons, but early on this can be frustrating as most of the time you need to bluff to get out of situations, and if they call your bluff you are left with nothing but an empty gun and 5 pissed off guys with machetes. Not a very ideal situation to be in. The turn out of most fights are almost always the same, as one approaches swing your machete and kill him instantly, and then everyone else will attack you. Bluff with your gun (unless you have a real bullet), and when they get scared, knock them out. It can get very tiresome when everyone has a gun on them, then you need to time your kills so you can take their weapons and shoot them before they can shoot you. Overall, not a terrible combat system, but definitely one that can frustrate, and at times, cause a good amount of rage to be had with the game.

While this game doesn’t shine in combat, the overall, the game play and the storyline that goes along with it was enough to hold my attention for the 6+ hours it took to complete. Mind you, that was with finding and helping 15 out of the 20 people in the game. I didn’t spend time searching out people, but the ones I came across I did try to help as much as I could. Overall, the game kept my attention, and while the combat was a bit sluggish and repetitive, I AM ALIVE succeeded in creating an amazing world, a story that drew you in, and characters that are memorable, and to me, that makes the game shine and stand out from all the rest.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron – Grimlock Trailer

Few games can possibly be as hotly anticipated this summer as Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and over the coming months the developers at High Moon Studios will be releasing new videos of each of the playable characters.

First up is Grimlock; with his “space dinosaur mode” and multiple attack methods, he’s pretty fearsome, if a little slow…

Rescuing Dinobots, smashing Insecticons – it’s like the 1980s never went, isn’t it?

It’s good to see that the original Transformer designs are being used here (albeit embellished considerably). Although the later versions (notably the Michael Bay movies) are particularly impressive they lack the basic genius of the original toys that was always well represented in cartoons and comic books.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is out on August 31st, 2012.

Capcom Reveal Lost Planet Threequel

Capcom have managed to let slip that a third outing in the Lost Planet franchise is in the works.

A video was briefly uploaded to YouTube confirming the games existence early last week. Capcom were quick to have the video taken down, but not before the internet was abuzz with surprise and speculation.

Not one to waist an opportunity, Capcom quickly added the new third-person shooter installment to its already crowded announcement list at its annual showcase event, Captivate, in Rome a few days later.

Development duties for Lost Planet 3 have supposedly fallen into the hands of Spark Entertainment, who have previously released the equally disappointing FPS titles Legendary: The Box and Turning Point: Fall of Liberty.  A bold move considering the studio’s previous FPS-focused experience, but Capcom are clearly hoping Spark will find their stride in such a rich and established universe.

Both Lost Planet and its 2010 sequel were developed internally at Capcom, so the decision to outsource the games development to a third party is something of a risk with such an established title. Using Western developers to work on Eastern IPs has had mixed results in the past, from the success of Dead Rising to the reboot car crash of Bionic Commando.

The unexpected reveal came at rather unfortunate time as the gaming world’s attention was focused firmly on the new Resident Evil 6 and Devil May Cry reboot trailers showcased at same event. With further information on both these franchises trickling out of Capcom HQ, you can expect further information on the sci-fi threequel in the coming weeks.

Lost Planet 3 will be released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013.

The Second Chance Club: Dark Void

Welcome to The Second Chance Club, a new regular retro reviews column with a bit of twist. With TSCC I’ll be revisiting or trying out for the first time a game that’s received poor reviews or sold particularly badly in the last few years. Maybe it’s a game that’s failed to meet expectations or a title that’s generally received a mediocre reception all round. Whatever the first reception, every ‘bad’ game gets another shot at glory with The Second Chance Club. Or have a second nail nailed firmly into its coffin…

This week, we’ll be kicking off the inaugural edition with Capcom’s sci-fi flight combat-cum-third person shooter Dark Void.

On paper, Dark Void should have been a colossal success. Developed by Airtight Games, a studio made up the core staff that gave us the addictive dogfighter Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge on the original Xbox, it also had a score composed by Bear ‘Battlestar Galactica’ McCreary and the might of goliath publisher Capcom to boot. It even had the repetitive but normally dependable Nolan ‘Nathan Drake’ North voicing the main character. But somehow all these elements managed the quite impressive feat of cancelling each other out into a broken mess that received an overall metacritic score of 59 out of 100. Even sales of the game mirrored the savage mauling it took from the gaming press, essentially condemning it to the crowded ‘flop’ pile.

Does Dark Void deserve a second chance?

Dark Void follows Will, a pre-WW2 cargo pilot who flies into the Bermuda Triangle and is sucked into another world called ‘The Void’. Will finds himself stranded with his ex-girlfriend, like you do, in a conflict between a band of surviving humans (known rather originally as the ‘Survivors’) and a race of cybernetic aliens known as the Watchers (think of a cross between Mass Effect’s Geth and General Grevious from Star Wars). Throw in the presence of real-life scientist Nikola Tesla as the token-scientist who-happens-to-be-there-to-build-all-your-gear and you’ve essentially got Dark Void. No, that’s really it. It seems the idea of a coherent, emotionally investable narrative was jettisoned long ago.

There really aren’t many positive things to talk about when it comes to Dark Void, because the game manages to throw together a handful of different genres yet somehow create something instantly forgettable. The opening few hours are some of the most frustrating I’ve ever sat through. I say ‘sat’, on quite a few occasions I almost threw my controller through the TV thanks to the abrupt opening dog-fight with no narrative explanation, twitchy controls and meagre spattering of hints. What followed was a good hour or two of cover-based shoot out with no aerial shenanigans whatsover. If the first and years older Gears of War provides more dynamic and rewarding gun-play – even with all those original bugs – then Capcom should have thought twice about unleashing this game on the world.

Capcom's Dark Void - lost gem or genuine guff?

Even when the game finally gives you the chance to hover and flit from nook to cranny with the first version of the jet pack, Dark Void manages to strip it of all the possible fun it could be. Being able to use ledges in vertical cover shoot-outs up the side of structures should be a fast, dynamic and genre redefining experience. Instead, it’s a slow and boring as the gun-fights back on the ground. Even, the weapons are near useless until you collect enough ‘tech points’ (which are Crackdown-style orbs scattered aimlessly around levels) which allow you to upgrade the piss-poor things into something approaching useful. Which help with the shocking aiming, inevitable deaths and mercilessly sparse check-points.

The thing is, there’s a part of me that desperately wants to love Dark Void. A self-confessed Rocketeer fan-boy, I haven’t properly enjoyed a good old dogfighting game since I played Crimson Skies to death all those years ago. Dark Void should be like Gears on War on four-dimensional acid, effortlessly combining aerial combat with cover-reliant shoot-outs. But it sadly misses that opportunity entirely. The power of current gen consoles means there’s no excuse to not fully realise a concepts full potential, only the limits of the design team or time given to make it. Airtight Games strength is clearly show in the flight controls, but these are sluggish at best. Even the mediocre Blazing Angels games feel more responsive than this painful genre pile-up.

Dark Void, as you’ve probably gathered by now, isn’t some misunderstood gem. Usually the omission of multiplayer would have me scoring off points for such a title, but in this case it’s more a blessing than anything else. Dark Void feels a lot like Peter Jackson’s King Kong tie-in, a game with all the potential in the world, executed with all the grace of plane crash.

Avoid, like the plague. You’ll thank me one day.

TSCC Score: 4/10

 

Year of Release: 2010

Version Reviewed: Xbox 360

Alternative Formats: PS3, PC

Kickstarting a Challenge

Niffler Ltd. has just launched a Kickstarter page to raise funds for Chuck’s Challenge 3D, that follows on from their successful game “Chuck’s Challenge”, previously available exclusively for the Apple iOS devices.

Kickstart of course is the hugely successful crowdsourcing engine that is currently helping a lot of people realise creative projects.

Chuck’s Challenge 3D is a puzzle game that walks through the evolution of gaming: move from A to B, collect items, the red key opens the red door, etc. But, like Lego, knowing what each piece does is only the beginning of the fun, as players can also create and share their own levels using a simple paint-style interface.

As we’re making a game for the players, we thought we should make it with the players,” says designer Chuck Somerville. “We want to know what they think should be included in the game and we believe Kickstarter is a great place to do just that”.

Developed with the Unity Game Engine to enhance the graphics in glorious 3D, the idea is to port the game to PC & Mac. The money raised through the Kickstarter initiative will be used to measure how much content can be included in the game: if the estimated goal is exceeded, extra features may be added.

You can find out more about this project by visiting Kickstarter www.kickstarter.com/projects/niffler/chucks-challenge-3d

Have Fun Warp-ing!

Warp, put simply, is a lot of fun. Which in this industry is an ingredient often lost in the hundreds of titles released every year. These days, games have become something of a grander affair; now developers strive for multi-layered storylines and deep character customisation.

Games are bigger now, more bombastic, filling disk space with countless, life-consuming hours of gameplay. Of course, these developments are a good thing, a natural evolution in the ever expanding videogame market. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s nice to sit down and play something you know doesn’t demand fifty hours of your life to complete. Warp, the newest release from newly-EA-acquired developer Trapdoor fits that void like a dream.

Taking some of its cues from the style and tone of Valve’s ground-breaking Portal series, Warp is a 3D top-down puzzle-cum-platformer that uses its own special ‘gimmick’. And as much as the comparison with something as fiercely popular as Portal can be something of a poison chalice, Trapdoor’s arcade platformer does pretty well to set itself apart.

You play the unfortunate Zero, a pint-sized extra-terrestrial whose woken up trapped in a laboratory with some not-so-nice scientists. When your human captors get a little too cocky with their tests, you regain your main ability: the power to – you guessed it – warp. Essentially, this means you can teleport over short distances, pass through walls and inhabit certain objects and people as you try and make your bid for freedom.

Zero just so happens to be a being of pure energy, so when you warp inside a barrel or person you can spin the thumb stick to create a satisfying mini-supernova that paints the floor and walls with shrapnel and/or bodily remains. It’s this addition of gore that feels strangely at home in the otherwise cartoon-style presentation. The bright, sterile corridors and vibrant use of light and shadow seem to complement the comedic paint-splats of ultra-violence. With an achievement for bursting a corpse, this game is more than comfortable with its dark sense of humour.

Not all the NPCs in Warp are cowering scientists, so the introduction of gun-toting soldiers and turrets forces you to adapt your play style. The warp power isn’t as godlike as it sounds, and until you upgrade your powers (with the scarce ‘grubs’ that act as currency littered around each section of the facility) you will only be able to teleport through thin walls and doors. Going mano-a-mano with a soldier is suicide, so Warp uses the top down view to show you the many interconnecting rooms and corridors you can use to teleport your way around a threat or tactically hunt your way to a satisfying man-boom. The upgrades range from projecting a controllable holographic copy of Zero to using that copy to hot-swap between hard to each locations, and all help add to the mayhem your unleashing.

Warp isn’t a particularly difficult game, you can beat the main campaign in around 5-6 hours. However, it is far from a walkthrough. One of the key elements that energises Warp are the many scenarios in each level that have a handful of ways to be solved. If you stray into view of an enemy or into the burning eye of a security beam, death will come a-calling and you’ll be thrown back to the last checkpoint. This reviewer found the checkpoints were always a little too far back for comfort, but the variety of problems to solve in future levels should be enough to bait most players into pushing forwards.

But it’s the challenges littered across the facility that really up the ante. Like a homage to the VR missions of Metal Gear of old, the Challenge mode simply gives you an objective and a time limit. From eliminating humans to getting from point to point, higher scores unlock more grubs to use at upgrade stations in the main story.

For under £8, Warp is a bargain. The challenge rooms alone will keep you coming back for hours to try and beat the merciless times. But if you’re looking for something with a genuine charm and character from a developer that is set for big things, pick it up on PSN , XBLA and Origin for PC now.

AK Score: 8/10

Good, But Not Resident Evil…

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon CityWhen I play a video game, there are key factors that I look for that will determine whether or not the game stays in my library along with the….27 games I currently own, or if they will go back for store credit so I can get something worth keeping.

Resident Evil: ORC is one of those games that teetered on the edge of both those options, but ultimately fell into the store credit pile because of the fact that when I picked up this game, I was expecting it to be a Resident Evil game, and it just wasn’t.

Now before all the fan boys and girls head to the comments section to tell me how much I suck at reviews, let me explain. It’s not that this game wasn’t fun, or that the gameplay wasn’t good, because it really was. While lacking in a gripping story line, I must say this game had the qualities of a possible GOTY shooter. Great cover system, with realistic abilities to shoot people in cover that are at a lower vantage point than you, and vice versa. The AI was very smart, many times catching me in a cross fire, where I had to move back into cover in order to survive, and your squad mates (even if you are stuck with some AI’s) functioned very well together.

I’m sure you’re wondering, “Ryan, if this game is so great, why did you return it? It sounds like a real keeper!” Well you would be right, but the fact is when I bought this game I was expecting a Resident Evil game, not a Gears of War, (or a Mass Effect 3) clone, because that is exactly what this was; the cover system, the third person shooter style, and the squad mates. The only way this game could’ve been more like Gears of War is if it had the Umbrella squad toting a bunch of guns with chainsaw bayonets on them. My expectations were set to something else, and that’s why I didn’t enjoy this game. That in no way means this game was BAD, but let me touch on the story a bit before I give my final verdict.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

You play as Delta squad, a group of five hired by Umbrella to clean up the mess that is Raccoon City, and to do that they need to wipe any and all evidence of what really happened there. That includes records of their plans for the city, and any and all survivors. Easy enough, until the G-virus is released and the whole town becomes infected, then it becomes a fight for their very survival, pushing their teams’ trust to its breaking point. While a very basic storyline, it holds strong throughout, though at times it feels like the missions are elongated, making a simple mission seem drawn out.

The gameplay was very well done, taking advantage of the cover system, with the “take cover or die” aspect playing a big role. This wasn’t a game you could just run through guns blazing. That’s a quick and easy way to the death screen. Cover is essential, but it also never feels like it’s being pressed on you to use. Controls are simple enough, it took me little time to figure out the basic scheme of things, although I must admit that while I was figuring them out 1 or 2 frag grenades may or may not have been thrown at my squad mates. The inclusion of “perks” for each squad mate gave the game a nice RPGish feel to it, letting you spend XP points on unlocking new features or new weapons. I myself enjoyed the incendiary rounds, they made a zombie flambé like you wouldn’t believe!

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

One thing I did miss from Resident Evil 5 was the upgrade system. Not being able to upgrade my weapons felt so wrong, I often felt like I was missing something on the menu screen, but ultimately it seems like we’ve settled on just buying bigger and better things instead of trying to take the time to fix up perfectly good, old ones. Needless to say however, the gunplay was excellent. The kickback from shooting was there in all its glory. The only problem I found with the weapons was I never felt a need to switch from any other weapon than an assault rifle. It was strong enough to take down almost any enemy you came across. With this being the case, it really took away from the store where you could buy new weapons.

All in all, this game was enjoyable if you’re looking for something fun to play with your friends after the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer hype dies down. As a Resident Evil game? Well let’s just say that the game had it right when it gave you the objective, “Destroy all evidence”. This game doesn’t do the series justice, and will forever be known to me as the mutated, zombified, deranged, black sheep of the Resident Evil family.

Bioware Announce Free Extended Cut DLC for Mass Effect 3

Pitchfork waving petitioners can finally rest easy as Bioware and EA confirm a new DLC download that will serve as an epilogue to ‘controversial’ ending of third Mass Effect instalment.

The free DLC will “expand upon the events” of the finale that left many gamers unsatisfied and led others to demand Bioware change the ending entirely. The press release from EA confirmed the DLC content will cater to fans “seeking further clarity” to the ending of Mass Effect 3 and for those seekingdeeper insights into how their personal journey concludes”.

Mass Effect 3 DLC is coming

“We are all incredibly proud of Mass Effect 3 and the work done by Casey Hudson and team,” Comments Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder of BioWare.

“Since launch, we have had time to listen to the feedback from our most passionate fans and we are responding. With the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut we think we have struck a good balance in delivering the answers players are looking for while maintaining the team’s artistic vision for the end of this story arc in the Mass Effect universe.”

Casey Hudson, Executive Producer of the Mass Effect series added, “We have reprioritized our post-launch development efforts to provide the fans who want more closure with even more context and clarity to the ending of the game.”

As to how this new, unplanned content will affect Bioware’s previous DLC plans remains to be seen. The Extended Cut will be released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. A release date has yet to be confirmed.

Are Bioware right to respond to the negative reactions of some fans? Let us know in the comments below.