As the eighth generation of consoles are still relatively new, new games are hard to come by, and development can be delayed while learning the ropes for these consoles. As games that are next gen specific like Batman: Arkham Knight are seeing delays, we are seeing a return of previous gen games that pushed the older hardware to their breaking limits. This past January we saw the re-release of Tomb Raider in the Definitive Edition for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. At the end of this month we will see the re-release of The Last of Us in the Remastered Edition for the PS4, and at some point this year Grand Theft Auto 5 will jump to the new hardware as well. While some may scream that this is simply a money grab from companies, I see this as an opportunity for people to play gems that could have taken visual, performance, or even gameplay hits from the aging seventh gen hardware. I purchased Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for the PS4 recently and I am surprised over how good the game looks and run on the fresh hardware. I still have my original 360 copy and that was by no means an ugly game, but their is a stark visual and performance contrast. This maybe the continuing trend of HD releases we received during the last gen, which I was well on board with. Playing the game the past couple of days has also given me a new respect for Jason Graves incredible score. Graves is also known for scoring the Dead Space franchise, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and Alpha Protocol. Tomb Raider’s soundtrack may have been something I missed in the past ( with the amount of games I play and soundtracks I listen to, something just get lost), but I am correcting that today with a look at its fantastic score.
Secret of the Island Complete – Jason Graves – A very percussion heavy piece, laid with early Japanese/tribal feel; Secret of the Island is a great representation of Yamatai, the island in which Tomb Raider takes place. When the strings enter you can feel the sense of danger; the mysterious Storm Guard; the Sun Queen, Himiko; and the deranged cultist led by Mathias. The percussion makes this piece, enjoy
SOS Tower Final In-game (unreleased) – Jason Graves – This track was not on the official soundtrack, but thanks to SoundCloud and Graves, we get to listen to what is one of the more happier moments in the game. The part of the game where this piece takes place is a huge step for Lara. Still shaky about her surroundings, she is less than confident to climb the dilapidated radio tower. She does, and proves to herself that she can do this, she can become the character we know. The sight from atop the tower is beautiful, and this piece captures that wondering beauty.
A Survivor is Born – Jason Graves – The main theme from Tomb Raider, is sweeping, beautiful piece of production. Lara’s theme that starts around the (1:25) mark is epic, encasing all that Lara has been through on Yamatai and becoming the strong protagonist she is meant to be. At the (2:02) mark, the Lara theme is played again but by a solo piano. I love how in the piece there is the same central theme, the same notes even, played three different ways, at different tempos; but yet it all fits together so perfectly. I hope you Enjoy!
2014 was looking like a great year for games. We had big hitters such as Batman: Arkham Knight, The Witcher 3, Tom Clancy’s: The Division. The Order:1866, The Elder Scrolls Online (console version), and many others. The latest title slipping in to 2015 is Batman: Arkham Knight. Thought this makes my fall release schedule a tad easier on the wallet, this was my most anticipated title of the year. So now I have Destiny, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Evolve, Smash Brothers Wii U, Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor, and the recently announced Forza Horizon 2 to look forward too. Not a bad line up of games to get me though the cold winter, but the Dark Knight will sadly be missed. I agree that game creators should take their time, more time could mean a better, more finished product. Here is a list of everything that has been pushed back so far.
-Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4/One/PC) – 2015
– The Elder Scrolls Online (PS4/One) – atleast 6 months, could be December, my money is on early next year.
– Tom Clancy’s: The Division (PS4/One/PC) – 2015
– The Witcher 3 (PS4/One/PC) – February 2015
– The Order:1866 (PS4) – 2015
– Steam Controller (PC) – 2015
– Mad Max (being developed by Just Cause 2 developer Avalanche Studios) – 2015
– Half-Life 3 – 2054
Hopefully with E3 a week away, we see some more concrete titles coming this fall, and more reason to put money down on a new console. Even if 2014 does end up on the weaker side, 2015 should be a smashing year for gaming. If any other delays are announced I will update the article.
The gloves are off as Rocksteady takes one last knockout punch to the Batman franchise before moving on, and the new gameplay trailers made my inner fanboy scream with glee. The game is scheduled to be released this fall on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This will not be a cross generation game and the visuals show, the visuals are gorgeous. The batmobile makes a huge presence in the trailer, as I stated in my first preview, it will play a major roll in the game, both for combat and traversing the environment. The trailer does hint at the villains that will take center stage; Two-face, the Penguin, Scarecrow, and the mysterious Arkham Knight. Also shown in the trailer is Oracle, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon. She was in the previous two titles but only in voice, and I am glad we are seeing her character even more fleshed out in Knight. I am still trying to figure out who’s behind the Arkham Knight mask. At the ending of Arkham City we had several villains fall, and for the sake of repetition, I hope they stay that way. They did hint at a Talia al Ghul, Bruce Wayne relationship in Arkham City. Could Damian Wayne make an appearance? We also have Hush and Azrael (Michael Lane) that are unaccounted for after City. I hope you enjoy the trailer as much as I did, and it is very nice to have Kevin Conroy back as the Dark Knight.
Assassin’s Creed is one series I never tire of. Some may argue that the yearly titles are starting to set in franchise fatigue, and to a point, I agree. But unlike other yearly releases, they are given ample development time, they are always trying new ideas and mechanics (some that stick and others that only appear once), and the sheer amount of content you get can be staggering. To me, they are like taking a walk through a history book, but with fun action doodles in the margins. I am currently working through Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, since I play these on the consoles I waited till I was able to play the PlayStation 4 version of the title to jump in. For a cross-generation title it is quite stunning. Black Flag has been a dream come true since I finished Assassin’s Creed 3. One of the standout elements from AC III was the naval battles, which in Black Flag, take the forefront. As a bonus we received one of the best pirate themed games of all time, something Disney (Pirates of the Caribbean) could never deliver. Jesper Kyd has helmed most of the series as composer. Kyd composed the scores for Assassin’s Creed, II, Brotherhood, and shared duties on Revelations with Lorne Balfe. Balfe scored parts of revelations and Assassin’s Creed III. I have shared Balfe’s work on AC III on a previous Gaming in Stereo. Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, a spin off of AC III that landed on the PS Vita (later consoles and PC) was scored By Winifred Phillips. Black Flag was scored by Brian Tyler, known for the excellent Far Cry 3 soundtrack. Though some people, myself included, were a little disappointed when Kyd didn’t return for Assassin’s Creed III, but I feel it was for the better. Kyd did a great job differentiating the sound of AC and AC II, and I feel fresh composers did the same for the following titles. Today we are going to look at those different sounds with some tracks from Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed II.
Jesper Kyd – Ezio’s Family – Assassin’s Creed II
This track is simply beautiful. With the piano, stings, and vocals it feels very fitting for renaissance time period. Since the Assassin’s Creed series is a tale of two time periods, one modern and the other a historical point in time, the track adds an electric guitar element at the (2:44) mark. Easily one of my favorite tunes from this series, enjoy!
Brian Tyler – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Main Theme
Brian Tyler captured the escapades of Edward Kenway perfectly with this theme. The drums and violins give a sea shanty feel, breathing a sense of playfulness in to the tune. The frantic drums at the (1:29) are the highlight, but like the game, this feels fun. You can feel in the music that Kenway likes his “privateer” lifestyle, though the game does have its more serious moments as well.
Bonus Track: Brian Tyler – On the Horizon
I am going to let the bonus track speak for itself. There are epic drum sections later in the piece, so listen for those. This does show a more serious side to Black Flag, enjoy!
I’ve always been a fan of EVE Online and as such I’ve played it off and on over the past decade and being a fan of space battles, space itself and huge starships why wouldn’t I be? In my opinion it’s thee best space sim on the market today. It has amazing looking starships, amazing galaxy vistas, a huge and thriving economy, huge political conflicts a galaxy and that just scratches the surface of what EVE online has to offer.
The newest trailer though brought me consider something that I hadn’t really thought of prior to it. All new games generally have cool trailers but in reality the game rarely ever looks anything like or plays like the trailers that represent them I.E Warhammer, Mass Effect, The Witcher, etc. The trailers are designed to look awesome and make people want to play the game and in truth this trailer does just that but it also does something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in a trailer and that is to show off what the developers want EVE to look like in the future not what it looks like now. Having said that the prophecy trailer is made almost entirely from the in game engine which is impressive for how stunning it looks. I’ve seen less spectacular space battles on popular TV shows.
Is this trailer meant to do what every other trailer is meant to do and draw you in? Yes… But more than that it’s there to show what the developers at CCP envision the game to be like in the near future and if that is the future they see I want to be a part of it. Many of the complaints I’ve had about the game and ideas I’ve had were pretty much showcased or improved in that trailer as things they want to improve upon such as localized damage to starships, improved warp in’s, larger scale battles, expanded galaxies, boarding parties, planet battles, etc.
The vision CCP has for EVE online is incredibly ambitious but they are, slowly but surely, pulling it off with the help of over 500k subscribers. I’m incredibly impressed with what they’ve been able to pull off over the last decade and I plan to keep playing EVE throughout the years. What do you guys think?
I am going to dip into the realm of streaming with our first ever Twitch broadcast, well at least for me. I will be playing Titanfall, the first release from Respawn Entertainment, on the Xbox One. I will be chatting with anyone that is watching, and if you have any questions (please make then intelligent) I would be happy to answer them. I have been playing this quite a bit since its launch Monday night and I am starting to really dig into the ins and outs of the game. Joining me at some point though out the night will be friends and family, Joe “ScrotusKilmystr” who writes for the site maybe on as well. I am under the gamer tag CABXYZ so if I do bad you know who to make fun of, though I have been pretty solid so far. If you are wondering why I am using certain load outs all the time, I hit my second generation already (for Call of Duty people this is like hitting a new prestige level) and I am trying to unlock all the weapon attachments and mods for both the pilot and titan. We also strictly play the Hardpoint game mode. I feel this game mode shows the best of what Titanfall has to offer. The game is full of fun moments and the parkour is filling the Mirror’s Edge itch until DICE finishes Mirror’s Edge 2. You can watch the stream below or go to my Twitch channel at CABXYZ_TheGamersBlog. We will be streaming tonight starting between 8 pm and 9 pm CST, so between 9 pm and 10 pm on the east coast, EST. Since it is the weekend will be continue streaming until we tire so feel free to jump in and watch at any time. Sit back, relax, check your fan boy comments at the door, and prepare for Titanfall!
Editors Note: I will be using the new Microsoft Stereo Headset during the stream, if you have any questions on those as well, I would be happy to answer.
Two giant games release when the bells toll at 12 tonight. Respawn Entertainment will debut their next gen FPS that blurs the lines of competitive shooter and cinematic story telling. I got my hands on the beta a few weeks back and have been itching to dive back into Titanfall’s symphony of mechs and free running. Titanfall will release at midnight tonight both in digital and physical formats on the Xbox One and PC. Also releasing tonight is From Software’s next test in gamers patience, Dark Souls II. The Souls series is something I came late too, finally diving into Demon’s Souls right before the tentative server cut off date. I played Dark Souls on the 360 shortly after its release and loved it, thought the titles are not for everyone. The games are a bit clunky and it takes time to learn the combat and nuances. You must also accept the fact that you will die, a lot. If you can be patient, the game is very rewarding giving that great difficulty feel from the NES days. Dark Souls II hits the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 tonight and the PC on April 25th. I will be at my local Best Buy tonight picking up Titanfall. I enjoy midnight releases, meeting fellow gamers, and the excitement in the air as the countdown to midnight approaches. A bit of warning if you are picking up the Xbox One version of Titanfall, the game will require a 800 MB update as well as the install, so expect a small wait once you pop the disc in. The PC version of Titanfall is available for preload over at Origin, the download is roughly 50GB, about 30GB is uncompressed audio files. Is anyone planning on picking up either title? I should be on Titanfall on the Xbox One for a bit, if you would like to join, send an invite to CABXYZ, new people are always welcome.
March 4, 2014
Rocksteady’s next Batman Game Revealed: Arkham Knight
Game Informer has revealed their April cover and the Dark Knight is in tow. Rocksteady’s latest Batman opus is titled Batman: Arkham Knight and will be set in a much larger, more open Gotham; complete with Batmobile access. The game will take place one year after the events of Arkham City and will focus to end the story arc created within the Rocksteady universe. Scarecrow seems to play the main villain this time around, but as we know with previous entries, that may not be the way it plays out. The game will be released this year, which is a bit early after Arkham Origins released last fall, but Rocksteady has had since late 2011 to plan and produce an epic final chapter. The game will be out on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Do you notice something missing? No Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 release. The other elephant in the room is no Wii U release as well which is in the same generation as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Though the upswing with this being on the more powerhouse consoles, and not cross generation, is that we may have a true next gen game on our hands. Once I find out more details like voice actors, composers, plot, and gameplay; I will pass that information along. The above picture is from the April issue of Game Informer and is quite lovely, may make it my wallpaper. The official video is below, enjoy!
Late yesterday, Double Helix, the studio behind the Killer Instinct Revival on the Xbox One, was purchased by Amazon. The online retail giant has been in the rumor mill as of late, with rumors speculating a possible android based console or becoming a publisher. This is not the first games studio that Amazon has purchased. In 2008, the retailer bought Reflexive Entertainment. Double Helix has a rather stable, if not unremarkable, resume. Double Helix was formed by the merging of Shiny Entertainment and The Collective. They recently have had success with the revival of the Rare fighting franchise, Killer Instinct, and were picked by Capcom to revive the Strider franchise. Previously they had two titles in established franchises that were mildly received, Front Mission Evolved and Silent Hill: Homecoming. Outside of those titles they have had a string of movie tie-in titles that were poorly received. Microsoft has responded to Games Industry International about the transaction saying “”We want all of our loyal fans to know that the Killer Instinct team at Microsoft is not changing and that the franchise will remain with Microsoft Studios. We remain dedicated to delivering a great experience and plan to announce our new development partner soon. We’re excited about the future of this popular franchise.” It will be interesting to see what comes of this, if any rumors come to light. The Strider reboot that Double Helix is putting the finishing touches on, will be downloadable, which will be available on February 18th and 19th, 2014. The title will be available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC. The title will run you $14.99.
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.