News and reviews from the PC and console dimensions

October 2010 Archives

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Vanquish (screenshot above), a sci-fi shooter created by Shinji Mikami, has been released by Sega of America for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Mikami is creator of the Resident Evil series.
The Vanquish story involves a titantic struggle between Russia and the United States for control of the planet's fast-dwindling resources. Players take the role of Sam, a government agent outfitted with a futuristic battle suit.
Also out now:


  • NeoCore Games and Paradox Interactive announced a demo for Lionheart: Kings' Crusade, an RTS set during the Second Crusade. The demo can be found on FilePlanet.

  • Nexon America released an update for Dungeon Fighter Online, "Act V: The Reckoning," which revamps the priest class.

  • Grotesque Tactics - Evil Heroes now is available digitally for $19.99 from Meridian4. The game is described as a "unique parody/strategy RPG."

  • War Rock, the free-to-play FPS from GamersFirst, has new game mode, Zombie Mode. The new mode currently is limited to the Blind Bullet map.

  • Open beta testing for Kitsu Saga, a free-to-play MMORPG from Aeria Games, is under way.

  • Time Crisis: Rising Storm by Namco Bandai Games America now is available for the PlayStation 3. The arcade shooter also supports the PlayStation Move controller.

  • An update for Shot -Online was announced by GamesCampus.com. New to the free-to-play online golf game is Swift Stroke Mode, which cuts the time between turns, a guild level cap increase, Halloween themes and more.


Coming:

  • Sega released screenshots for Shogun 2: Total War (above, right). The game of battle in feudal Japan will be strictly for the PC and is expected in 2011.

  • On Oct. 25, new downloadable content will be available for Sid Meier's Civilization V from 2K Games. (Look here for a review next week). The free content features the Mongols Civilization and Scenario Pack. A Babylon Civilization Pack will be available for $4.99.

  • Electronic Arts announced a free download for Medal of Honor. A new multiplayer mode called Clean Sweep will be available Nov. 2 and will feature two new maps.

  • On Nov. 16, look for Assassin's Creed Brotherhood from Ubisoft for the Xbox 360 and PS3. For the first time, multiplayer mode will come to the franchise.

  • Atlus Online announced the free-to-play fantasy MMORPG Pandora Saga will launch in early 2011. The game will feature up to 600 players in weekly realm-vs.-realm matches.

  • The Undead Nightmare Pack for Red Dead Redemption will be available Oct. 26, Rockstar Games American announced. The add-on will introduce zombies to gameplay.

  • Another free-to-play MMORPG, War of Angels, is expected from Neowiz Games. Sign up for an upcoming closed beta at www.warofangels.net.

  • Meridian4 signed a deal with Arberth Studios to distribute its horror point-and-click adventure Rhiannon - Curse of the Four Branches Premium Edition.


Elsewhere:

  • A game trailer for Men of War: Vietnam can be viewed at www.menofwargame.com, 1C Company announced.

  • In time for Halloween, a spooky new hidden-object game, Redrum: Time Lies, is available for the PC from Anarchy Enterprises, www.anarchyent.com.

  • Creaky Corpse announced a 3D version of its free zombie apocalypse game, Dead Frontier, www.deadfrontier.com.

Interview: DJ Hero 2

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On Tuesday I spoke with DJ Hero 2 producer Elias Jimenez. We discussed changes to multiplayer, freestyle moves and Empire/career mode. Click on the link below to hear the interview.





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'Smackdown vs. Raw 2011' will ship on Tuesday October 26th and THQ has released a new trailer that shows the finishing moves of the WWE superstars.

Get a better grip

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It's football season and if the closest you get to tossing the pigskin around is playing Madden 2011, Kontrol Freek, maker of game controller extensions, has the product to improve your game - TD Freek.
TD Freek lists for $9.99 and is available through the company website.
It features a convex, laced thumb pad designed to improve a player's grip.
You don't want a costly fumble on fourth and goal, do you?
As extensions to the thumb pad, TD Freek and others by the company are designed to improve accuracy. At the same time, the company says, the devices reduce thumb fatigue.
They quickly snap on to the thumb pad, and be changed as needed.
I'm a big fan of the FPS Freek for first-person shooter games. I wouldn't want to take on Battlefield Bad Company 2 without it.
Kontrol Freek also offers an extension for fans of basketball games and introduced FPS Freek Legendary in honor of the release of Halo: Reach.
For more information, visit www.kontrolfreek.com.

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As a toy line, Transformers captures the imagination.
Here you have a car or truck, and by twisting or turning several parts you have a fantastic robot. Cool.
The movie series, not so much for me. With CGI, a baseball can be turned into a 90-foot tall beast of steel. Where's the cleverness in that.
So, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that Transformers: War for Cybertron captures the magic of the toys and avoids the usual pitfalls of a game spawned by a successful movie franchise.
Transformers: War for Cybertron is available from Activision for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC (dual-core CPU, 2GB of RAM and video card). Variations of the game also are available for the Wii and DS.
The game's action takes place back on Cybertron, the homeworld of the Autobots and Decepticons. The two factions find themselves locked into a desperate battle for survival.
In the single-player campaign mode, players first take the side of the Decepticons. The evil group's leader, Megatron, seeks to control the power he believes can come from Dark Energon. The vital force is guarded by the character Star Scream.
Later in the campaign, players switch over to control the Autobots.
At the start of each level, players select one of three Transformers to control. Each comes with special weapons and abilities.
Besides the many weapons that become available, at times players also can grab a turret and wield it like a regular weapon. During play there also are health and shield power-ups to pick up.
And that transformation thing - simply press a button to change from jet to robot and back.
In practice, being in vehicle mode usually means faster travel. In some scenarios, you will need to transform into a jet, but it would have been great to see the transformation process carry more importance.
The game also offers a full-featured multiplayer environment with a number of play modes, including cooperative.
Players can opt to be a leader, scientist, soldier or scout. Each character also can be customized as to its form and color scheme.
Adding to the experience are great graphics and sound effects. Cybertron proves to be a glorious world to explore.
Transformers: War for Cybertron packs enough action and nostalgia to make it a winner for new and old fans alike.


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Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds: Dingo Games for Windows or Mac, $19.99; www.dingogames.com.
Imagine you are little ball of nameless goo. And imagine that you are hungry - ravenously hungry.
That's the premise for this captivating casual game from Dingo Games.
Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds is a sequel to a game first released some four years ago. I didn't get a chance to sample the first offering but am glad to have been able to try the second.
As each level starts, players control a small ball of goo. The object is to steer the ball around the screen and eat up any smaller object. As objects are consumed, the ball increases in size and can therefore go after ever-larger items.
The ball can be controlled with the mouse or the keyboard.
As play progresses the perspective may change. You may think a level has been cleared, but the camera zooms out to reveal a much larger playing surface.
The gameplay proves to be pretty simple, but Dingo Games adds variety by changing things up from one level to the next. Some may be like mazes, while others will require a player to consume a specific number of a particular object.
Other levels feature characters, like rats, that will pursue your ball of goo. Eventually, the ball should get larger enough to turn on its tormentors.
At some point, that little ball of goo will turn into a planet-chomping monster.
Play levels feature six time periods, including Egyptian and Roman themes.
All the action takes place under a pleasant soundtrack and amusing sound effects.
There is a single-player and two-player game. Game modes feature timed levels and casual play in levels that have been unlocked through the timed mode.
Tasty Planet: Back for Seconds offers captivating gameplay in a charming setting. You will find yourself coming back for more.


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Splatterhouse (screenshot above) will arrive Nov. 23 from Namco Bandai Games America for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The soundtrack will include metal tracks from High on Fire, The Accused, ASG, Cavalera Conspiracy, Lamb of God, Mastodon and others. The game tells the story of Rick Taylor, a college student who turns to the mystical Mayan Terror Mask in order to gain the powers he needs to battle otherworldly abominations and rescue his girlfriend.
The game will be rated M for Mature.

Also coming soon:

  • Tri Synergy and Codeminion announced an agreement to publish the hidden-object game Brunhilda and the Dark Crystal (screenshot at right). The game, which features 10 chapters and 30 locations, will arrive in mid-October.
  • Later this month look for Demolition Company from Tri Synergy and Giants Software. The game turns the city-building genre on its head as players run a demolition company that aims to bring buildings down.
  • Valve Software announced the Mann-Conomy update for Team Fortress 2. The update will involve 65 new items for the neverending battle between the Builders League United and the Reliable Excavation Demolition.
  • Norb Software Development is accepting pre-orders for the CD version of its Civil War game Scourge of War - Gettysburg. CD extra content will feature a 113-page manual, eight historical maps of the battlefield, orders of battle and more. Visit www.scourgeofwar.com/purchase.shtml.
  • Arcania: Gothic 4 has seen its release pushed back from Oct. 12 to Oct. 19 in North America, DreamCatcher Interactive, JoWood Entertainment and BVT Group announced. The game will be available for the PC and 360.
  • LEGO Universe, an MMO for the PC and Mac, will launch Oct. 26 in the United States, LEGO Group announced. As part of the Nexus Force alliance, players will fight the Maelstrom to save Imagination.
  • Aldorlea Games announced the third installment in its Millennium series: Millennium 3: Cry Wolf, on Oct. 31.. The series was voted Indie RPG of the Year by RPG Fan.
Out now:
  • Uncharted Waters Online, a historical MMORPG, launched through NetMarble and Tecmo Koei Games. In honor of the launch, the player who first completes the voyage of Christopher Columbus can win a cruise ticket valued at $4,000.
  • Tripwire Interactive released a free Incendiary Content Pack for its co-op horror survival shooter Killing Floor. Also released was a new paid DLC Character Pack. Included in the free material is four new maps and a new weapon - the Mac-10 firing incendiary rounds.
  • Lionheart: King's Crusade, a strategy game set during the Third Crusade, is available through Paradox Interactive and Neocore Games. The companies also announced that three metal songs - "Lionheart," "Holyland" and "The King Will Return Tonght" - can be downloaded for free at www.lionheartthegame.com/media/music.
  • Paradox also announced the release of Iron Cross, an expansion for Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon, Arsenal of Democracy and Darkest Hour (when available). The expansion features an overhauled map, new scenarios and extended playing time.
  • Castle Vox, a turn-based strategy game, has been released by Sillysoft. The developer says the game mixes elements of Diplomacy, Chess and Axis & Allies.
News:

The country of World of Warcraft?
Blizzard Entertainment announced that the subscriber base for its online game has surpassed 12 million players.
The game is available in eight languages. Its second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, recently launched in China. A third expansion, Cataclysim, will be available Dec. 7.

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"The Sacrifice," the newest add-on for both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 now is available from Valve through Steam for both the PC and Mac (L4D2).
The add-on (screenshot above) is free to all Steam gamers who own a copy of either game. Versions for the Xbox 360 will be available through Xbox Live.
"The Sacrifice" is a prequel to an earlier add-on, "The Passing." It also includes a new game mode, Sacrificial Gameplay, in which players get to decide who will give their life so the others may live.
Also out now:


  • Square Enix announced a free 30-day trial subscription for Final Fantasy XIV for the PC. In the online game, players take sides to decide the fate of Eorzea.

  • Gamigo announced the North American version of its free-to-play Cultures Online (screenshot at right). Players take the role of a Viking leader in this humorous title.

  • John Daly's ProStroke Golf from O-Games launched for the PlayStation3 and will be available Oct. 19 for the Xbox 360. The control system offers a first-person view of the ball and club head.

Coming soon:

  • Medal of Honor from Electronic Arts is set to hit store shelves Oct. 12. The reworking of the storied game franchise has hit the highest number of pre-sell units in the franchise's 11 year history, EA announced. The new game changes the setting to modern Afghanistan. A PC multiplayer open beta began Oct. 4 and will end Oct. 7.

  • Starting Dec. 7, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the online game's third expansion, will be available, Blizzard Entertainment announced. Versions will be available for Windows and the Mac.

  • Viva Media inked a North American publishing deal for Shadow Harvest: Phantom Ops from Black Lion Studios. On Feb. 2, players can take the role of U.S. agents in the year 2025 when the world is torn apart by warring dictators.

  • An open beta is under way for Hukumdar Online: Battle of Kings, a browser-based strategic war game from GamersFirst and IGG. The game will be free to play.

Casual corner:

  • Legacy Interactive and Prime Games announced the release of The Column of the Maya, a hidden-object game, set in an ancient Mayan ruins.

  • eGames will release 10 hidden-object games from Anuman in two box sets of five titles each. The first will be available in December and the second in spring 2011.

  • eGames also announced a North American publishing deal with Freeze Tag for its Mystery Masterpiece: The Moonstone in early 2011. This hidden-object game is set in the 1800s and involves the search for an ancient jewel in a Victorian mansion.


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As a kid growing up in Chicago I worshiped Michael Jordan. I watched every Bulls game I could and even got fired from a job in November of 1996 because I called in sick to go see the Bulls play the Lakers at the United Center. Basketball is my favorite sport, and it's because of one man - Michael Jordan.

So when the news came out over the summer that NBA 2K locked in MJ to be part of the top basketball video game franchise, I was thrilled. When news came out about how the G.O.A.T. would be utilized, 10 classic moments that includes opponents, I started to lose my mind.

That was the feeling I had last week when I got an advanced copy of NBA 2K11. I plan on doing a review for NBA 2K11 overall (Associated mode, My Player, etc.) but in this review I wanted to focus on the Jordan Challenge and the memories it will bring back to -- not only Bulls fans -- but fans of other great NBA teams as well.

The Jordan Challenge is a game mode that features 10 classic moments in the career of MJ. You will have to play through all 10 challenges and accomplish certain goals in each one. The moments include Game 2 of the 1986 first-round playoff series vs. the mighty Boston Celtics, Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals vs. the Portland Trail Blazers and Game 3 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Detroit Pistons. You can see a full list of the challenges here.

In the challenge against the Portland Trail Blazers you'll have to replicate MJ's NBA Finals record 35 first-half points, as well as drain six 3-pointers in that first half. You'll be called on to play some defense too, as you'll be required to hold Portland's Clyde Drexler to under 20 points. And, of course, you'll have to win the game.

The 2K broadcast crew of Kevin Harlan, Clark Kellogg and Doris Burke also recorded era-specific commentary for these games. When I was playing Game 6 of the 1996 NBA Finals vs. the Seattle SuperSonics, Clark Kellogg mentions Ron Harper's knee injury and how it has bothered him throughout the series. When I was playing Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals vs. the L.A. Lakers, after hitting my first shot with Jordan, Kevin Harlan says "Jordan picking up right where he left off in the Detroit series." The commentary was very well done.

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I think 2K did a good job with the stadiums and players. The biggest complaint that I've heard, from talking to gamers and reading community message boards, are that the shorts are too long on the old school teams. John Stockton and Patrick Ewing's shorts should be at their thighs, not down to their knees. But that's a minor gripe that will be quickly forgotten once you get into the game itself.

And speaking of minor gripes, I have one. When you play the challenge vs. the '91 L.A. Lakers (which requires you to play a full best-of-seven series) the loading screen gives you a brief description of what happened in that 1991 NBA Finals. It says that Michael Jordan rebounded from a Game 1 "embarrassment" to rally the Bulls and win the series in five games. Now MJ did miss the potential game-winning basket in Game 1 -- just barely. But I would hardly call a Game 1 performance of 36 points on 14-of-24 shooting, 12 assists, 8 rebounds and 3 steals an "embarrassment." I only dream to be that embarrassing on the basketball court. Again, a very minor gripe, but the Jordan fanboy in me had to point that out.

The Jordan Challenge games all are eight-minute quarters and this cannot be adjusted. But 2K gives you the option of saving in-game. So if you're up 10 points in the third quarter against '97 Jazz, and you have to leave for work, you can just save the game and pick up where you left off later that night.

What makes this challenge even better is the amount of classic players that 2K was able to sign to the rosters. For the eight classic Bulls teams ('86, '90, '91, '92, '95, '96, '97 and '98) all the starters are on the game, and a majority of the bench players. The biggest names missing from the Bulls' roster are probably Scott Williams, who was part of the first three title teams, and Randy Brown, who was on the roster for the Bulls' second 3-peat.

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The roster for the opposing classic teams have starting lineups, but are missing a few names. No Bill Walton on the '86 Celtics, no Vinnie Johnson or Mark Aguirre on the '90 Pistons and no Kevin Duckworth on the '92 Blazers. The bench is made out of filler players with names like William Jones. And if you're like me, you'll probably want to take the time and create some of the players I mentioned and place them on the roster. But overall I'm very impressed with all the players 2K was able to land for the Jordan Challenge.

Another great part of NBA 2K11 is that you can take any of these classic teams into your season or Association mode. You can fully customize the league to your liking. If you want to bring in the '96 Bulls, '91 Lakers and '90 Pistons into the league, and boot the Cavaliers, Raptors and Wizards, you can do that. No offense to Cavaliers, Raptors or Wizards fans. You will not be able to play with the classic teams online, ranked match or online leagues.

Once you complete the Jordan Challenge you will unlock "MJ: Creating a Legend" mode. This mode allows you to take a rookie Michael Jordan, place him on any team in the NBA, and play through his career in a My Player-type fashion. As MJ gets older you'll start to see changes in him physically as he'll get stronger and balder.

This game is a dream come true for Bulls fans and all basketball fans in general. 2K has given us a truly great basketball game. And this is only one part of it. The Jordan Challenge could honestly be a game on its own, that's how much fun it is. Enjoy the trip down memory lane.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2010 is the previous archive.

November 2010 is the next archive.

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