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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy New Years to all, this coming year starts off with a bang on the consoles. There are plenty of free games to be had in the first month of 2014 and show off some of the best games of the past year and a half. Xbox Live’s Games with Gold is finally paying dividends for being, well lackluster for many months. Though I have both the games that are available, but very happy more people will get to play them. PlayStation Plus is giving us 3 games for the PS3 that are some of my personal favorites from this past year. The Vita and PS4 offerings are a bit light, though there could still be some to be had. Here is the list of what you will get, and again, these are in no particular order aside from the Xbox 360 titles.
Xbox Live: Games with Gold
January 1st-15th – Sleeping Dogs – What used to be True Crime Hong Kong, was dropped by Activision only to be later picked up and published by Square Enix. This was one of my favorite titles of 2012. United Front pulled off the perfect open world kung fu movie, with likable characters, a great combat system, and a fresh location. If you have yet to play this game, I implore you to give this a try. The game sold moderately well, but was still considered a success. This game alone is worth the $9 a month for Xbox Live, Microsoft has done well by offering this stellar title.
January 16th-31st – Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light – Coming from the 2010 Summer of Arcade, this title is bit of a departure for Lara. Guardian of Light is a cooperative twin stick shooter/adventure title. I have been waiting since 2010 to play this great title with some of my friends, and now it will be free. The game features online co-op, it is a blast despite the odd genre for the venerable heroine.
PS3 – Bioshock Infinite – There is nothing that I could say to make this game more appealing. Download it, play it, love it. Now, to be fair, it is a bit more combat heavy than Bioshock 1; but the story will definitely catch you off guard. Also, this game needs to be played for Elizabeth, she is one of the most endearing characters of the year.
PS3 – DmC: Devil May Cry – I review this game earlier this year, and aside from a few minor faults, I felt this was as good, if not better than previous entries. The combat is strong, the soundtrack is amazing (Nosia and Combichrist), and the art style is fantastic. If you have PS+ and are a fan of the Devil May Cry series, please give this a shot. Ninja Theory is one of my favorite developers that spawned from this gen (well formerly Just Add Monsters), and this is one of the their best efforts to date. Put the old Dante aside and give it a go.
PS3 – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – This game was a title in Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade this past year, and landed on the PSN a month later. The game is developed by Starbreeze Studios, another of my favorite dev teams (Riddick titles, The Darkness, Syndicate (2012). I recently bought the game during a sale, and it is something that should be experienced by every gamer. The game was co developed with Swedish Film director Josef Fares, and has you controlling two young brothers as they go on a quest to save their dying father. The controls are unique, as you will be controlling each brother with the analog sticks, and their actions with the triggers. The game is as emotional as Bastion or Limbo and hope you check out this wonderful title that may have flown under your radar.
PS4 – Don’t Starve
PS Vita – Smart As…
PS Vita – Worms: Battle Islands – Worms is always great, it’s on the go, and require very little from your memory card; sold.