January 28, 2014
Sly Cooper Hitting Theaters in 2016
Sony has announced its next CGI animated film, Sly Cooper. Ratchet & Clank was announced last year, this year we have Sly Cooper, hopefully next year we get a Jak & Daxter film rounding out the PlayStation 2’s platforming trio. The film is being developed by Blockade Entertainment and Rainmaker Entertainment, both who are behind the Ratchet & Clank adaptation. The first thing you will notice is the art style is a bit different, and they are wearing pants. Though I am not completely sold on the art style yet, it may grow on me, the trailer definitely captures the feel of the games. Another thing fans of the games may notice is that Chris Murphy (Murray) and Matt Olsen (Bentley) seem to be reprising their roles, as for Sly, it doesn’t sound like series regular Kevin Miller. The voice is close, but not enough. I got into the series late, I bought the HD collection and Thieves in Time on the PlayStation 3 and enjoyed the games immensely. The movie will be in 3-D and conventional 2-D as well and will release in 2016. I am curious if this and Ratchet & Clank score big in the box office and are received well critically, could they change the tide for video game based movies? I am pumped for both movies, check out the trailer below.
January 27, 2014
Like Halo, Gears of War Finds Home at Microsoft
The Gears of War franchise has a new home, Black Tusk Studios, which is now headed by Rod Fergusson and owned by Microsoft. Rod Fergusson was the producer of the first three entries in the franchise and will over see the development of future titles. Black Tusk Studios, what was formally Microsoft Vancouver, was formed to make a “Halo” like franchise for the Xbox brand. The last entry in the Gears of War franchise, Judgment, was developed by People Can Fly and was met with fair reception. The first Gears of War was a graphical showcase for the Unreal 3 engine and the Xbox 360. I really enjoy the franchise and its stemming media (comics, soundtracks, etc.), but I am curious where it will go from here. I would like to see a prequel spanning the Pendulum Wars (which were always hinted at, but never really fleshed out), or I would love to see a next gen focus on Emergence Day and see the end of Sera on a large scale. It will be interesting if it stays on Epic’s Unreal engine or if it will shift to another. The big three buying franchises or studios is nothing new, but it is interesting to see Microsoft capitalize on its big third party, self published franchises by bringing them in house. Hopefully we learn something sooner rather than later on this transaction and what will come of the franchise. Now that I think of it, wouldn’t mind a Gears of War RTS in the same vein as Halo Wars.
January 22, 2014
Play the new Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy xiii demo, get free dlc
The latest in Square Enix’s venerable franchise hit in demo form yesterday on the Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Network. The demo clocks in at just over 1 GB and offers a somewhat lengthy taste of new battle system and garb swapping. After finishing the demo yesterday, I walked away feeling confused; but in a good way. The battle system is good fun, switching from an active system to real time is a welcome change and feels much more engrossing. The garb swapping system is fine, switching between roles on the fly adds some great strategy into the mix, but having Lighting change costume constantly is a bit disorienting at first. The garb system customization is fantastic, leaving you to really put a custom touch on Lighting and her apparel. The story, at least the snippet from the demo, has me confused. It could be that I have XIII and XII-2 finishing the first and a couple hours in on the second; but wow I am a bit lost. Is Square Enix’s writers following the narrative book written by Hideo Kojima? Despite me being a bit lost, I had a lot of fun with it. There is a bonus to had for downloading the demo. On the Xbox 360 and PS3 if you upload your battle scores to the outerworld, the online social network, you score the Siegfried garb, pictured above for the full retail game. There is one other bonus for you PlayStation 3 players as well. if you just download the demo you will score the Utsusemi Samurai garb, which is pictured below. All you have to do is download the demo and you have it for the retail game, easy and simple. The full retail game will release on February 11th, 2014.
January 16, 2014
Titanfall Controller Drops on Launch
One thing I have always admired about Microsoft this past gen was its custom controllers. They were pretty efficient about turning them out when a new AAA title approached and some were fantastic. They also have put out custom controllers during certain times of the year that, like the game title branded ones, were hit or miss. I still love my monochrome controller, the controller that launched the “turnable” D-Pad. The recently released the chrome series and a camo controller, all which could be thrown into a huge heap and be set on fire for being so ugly its criminal. Microsoft will be bringing out its first Xbox One custom controller along side the March 11th release of Titanfall, the title Respawn Entertainment has been hard at work on. The controller is surprisingly beautiful. The white body is trimmed with black and orange, almost giving it a Mass Effect (Cerberus) feel. I am very surprised how clean and aesthetically pleasing the design is. The controller is up for pre-order now over at Amazon and GameStop, it will run you $64.99 and still require 2 AA batteries, like the stone ages. There is other Titanfall licensed products coming from Mad Catz on the PC. There will be a keyboard, a R.A.T. mouse, two headsets, and a mouse pad. Now the orange isn’t the awesome shade of the controller, but they all look wonderful as well. Titanfall will release on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC on March 11th, 2014.
January 9, 2014
A New Perspective from Carnegie Mellon Student Developers
A tech demo was recently released for a puzzle game centered around the idea of forced perspective. While this idea is nothing new, a similar concept was put forth in the game A Tale of Scale a few years ago, this new tech demo is getting people fired up about what could be the next portal. The video below will give you a sense of what it can do.
Pillow Castle Games is keeping pretty tight lipped about further developments of the project, save for saying that a full game is coming. Keep an eye out for this one to warp your perspective soon, and you can learn more about the project
January 8, 2014
Post Holiday Numbers, They Might Surprise You.
Here we are in the first full week of 2014 and the holidays have come and gone. There were two brand new console launches at the end of the last year after the longest console cycle in the history of the industry. All three parties, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony all posted good numbers, in some cases, depending on region. Lets take a look at the numbers by company.
Sony – Touting huge numbers since the launch of the PlayStation 4, one million in the N.A. on launch day, they finished 2013 with a staggering 4.2 million units sold. In the same time sold 9.7 million units of software, both digitally and physical, and had a 90% percent increase in PlayStation Plus memberships. Now that last number needs to be taken with a grain of salt, the PS4 now requires PS+ to play online and there was a 14 day trial pass included with the console. None the less, with the free titles across all the Sony platforms, PS+ pays for itself. Congratulations Sony.
Microsoft – Microsoft had an impressive end to their holiday as well with a grand total of 3 million Xbox One’s sold worldwide. It was unknown how much of the PR blunder that happened this past summer and being $100 more expensive than the competition would effect numbers, we are seeing the result. 3 million is quite an impressive number and congrats to Microsoft on a fast start, it will be interesting to see more of a breakdown once the December NPD numbers come in and Microsoft will go over their own sale data on the 23rd.
Nintendo – The little engine that could, is finally producing, in Japan at least. The 3DS and Wii U had strong performance ending the year in the Japan with the 3DS and Wii U outselling everything else, but here is the catch, the PS4 is not out yet in Japan. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was the top in the post holiday week as well as four other 3DS games and three Wii U titles. The numbers came from the Japanese magazine Famitsu via Games Industry International. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Wii U once the PlayStation 4 launches in Japan, which will happen in February. Japan has been primarily good to its home grown companies, supporting Nintendo and Sony, while leaving Microsoft struggling in every way possible. It is unknown what Nintendo did this holiday in the States, we may have to wait for the NPD numbers to determine, I know I bought Wii U and 3DS software, so did my family as well as a Wii U.
January 3, 2014
Reports from the Frontier – A Starbound Journal
Greetings, Universal Travelers.
I have journeyed long and hard in order to bring you this information. After many arduous hours of mining, murdering, and mayhem, I am finally ready to tell you all about Starbound, and just how awesome it is.
The player starts as someone lost and abandoned by the culture from which they come. In a derelict ship, with no fuel, they beam down onto an unfamiliar planet. Anything can be waiting for them at the end of your quantum journey. It could be a village of friendly robot merchants, or the tomb of an ancient bird-man warlord. It could even be nothing, a planet with only resources and wildlife.
The first good point here: The player wants to wander and get lost. After the initial introductory quests that show how to construct a crafting table, an anvil, and initial armor and weapons, the game lets the player loose. It helps that the quest one gets after building an anvil is to construct a resource heavy marker that summons a boss which will almost assuredly destroy you.
Once that happened to me, I realized that I needed to leave my starting planet to find more resources. That is when the scope of the game hit me.
Each of those star blips are individual systems with 2-5 planets within them. The only thing that limits where one can travel is the fuel reserve (fun point, the interstellar spaceship that the player uses is fueled by wood and coal) and the progression made (achieved by killing that boss I mentioned earlier).
In terms of how the game actually plays, those players with experience with Terraria will feel right at home save for a few mechanics associated with specific weapons (the Starbound spear is worthless, while the Terraria spear is surprisingly useful). You run around, gather resources to craft things, explore to gather more resources, and then build.
One thing that sets Starbound apart from other exploration games is the sheer amount of things that you can find to decorate your buildings and ship. The art associated with all these things is great too, as long as you can appreciate pixel art. For a game in early beta, it sure is nice on the eyes.
Chucklefish also does a good job of paying attention to the community, and what players are doing. The beta was released with modding tools and people have taken advantage of that, as have the developers. There are currently 765 mods in the official mod forum, and that number rises every day. They have already integrated a few different mods into the main game, with the permission of the creators of course. These include automatic turrets, a skyrail system a la Bioshock Infinite, among other balancing mods. They way that Chucklefish is working with the community is commendable, and how I think all early access games should do things in the future.
All that said, the game is still in early beta. Crashes happen semi-frequently, the launcher is finnicky and likes to lock up on some computers, and the multiplayer takes some thinking to figure out. Also, there have been two universe wipes since release with one more looming on the future. One thing that concerns me is the lack of incentive to stay on one planet. Once I got my more advanced gear, I started to wander the universe, stripping resources out of planets and killing everything to get gear, then moving on to the next planet and doing it all again.
I am very excited about the future of this game, and cannot wait to see what Chucklefish is planning for the future. They have announced ship progression and customizable ships as possibilities for the future, as well as the implementation of the questing system. That said, there will not be a shortage of things to do in the game for the foreseeable future.
Anticipate more updates from me on the progress of the game, and even more to say once the actual release date is announced.
January 3, 2014
Open World Survival — With an Eldritch Edge
SKS Games are bringing “The Forest” to PC and the Oculus Rift with an alpha to be released later this year. Check out the latest trailer below.
Looks pretty extreme, right? Adding that element of horror to the popular open survival/exploration model is a great idea, and the production values that SKS are bringing to the table only enhance that.
According to the devs, the gameplay will focus more on stealth than the trailers seem to show, and the creatures deep within the cave systems might not even be killable, so stealth will be the go to in order to survive. This even applies to crafting, as the player will be able to use leaves and mud to fashion camouflage for both the player and the traps they surround themselves with.
Optimization will be a high priority for the team once the alpha drops (on the ambiguous date of 2014). It seems that the developers are going the early access route and will be releasing a paid in alpha on Steam. It went through the Greenlight process late last year.