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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 Game Developers Conference Austin: Day 1

Another video, now that the Game Developers Conference Austin has kicked off?

Sure. Why not.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum ships Tuesday (tomorrow), and since it looks like the best Batman video game since …*, it feels like I should call it out, and in particular, this deal from Toys “R” Us.

While buying the title at TRU gets common folk a $20 gift card, Rewards “R” Us Members get a $30 gift card instead -- if you are a member and pick up the game between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. tomorrow (which is also Tuesday). The program is free, and you can enroll here.

TRU is also doing “buy one, get one half off” on Wii and DS titles this week. So, if you’re a mixed household, you could get Batman, then 6 hours later use your $30 for Imaginz Paramedics and Imaginz Emergency Intubation (caveat: these are not really games; yet).

As an FYI, if you buy Batman at Best Buy, you get a DVD two pack of Batman the Animated Series movies (Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero and Mask of the Phantasm). I … may already own these.

If you go this route, check the videos carefully. It's probably fine, but I've done these DVD offers in the past, and passed on them because the two-pack versions didn't have the special features (interviews with Bruce Timm, voice sessions, etc.) that really made the purchases valuable for me.

* To be fair, 1989’s Batman: The Caped Crusader on the Atari ST and Amiga was really good. It was probably published by Ocean Software and/or Data East, depending on the platform. It's been a long time.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Games of 2008: Q2

(See also, "The Games of 2008: Q1".)

The further out we go into the year, the more sketchy things get on the release front.

But here are the games that ring my bell to one degree or another for the second quarter of this year.

Grand Theft Auto IV (X360, PS3) -- Dunno about you, but this iteration of the GTA franchise (with its displaced, unwilling Russian anti-hero) might actually pull me in. If I don't play it, it's because all of the meta stuff irritates me -- namely, "Hot Coffee" and Manhunt irresponsibility.

Rez HD (XBLA) -- Weird(ish), on-rails(ish), shooter(ish) game from Q Entertainment / Hexa Drive.

PlayStation Home (PS3) -- Sony is late -- but ambitious -- to the console online party dominated by Xbox Live. I'm curious to see how this Second Life / Xbox Achievements mashup thing either innovates, or looks like a late, console(ish), poor man's Second Life / Xbox Achievements ripoff.

Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution (X360, PS3, DS) -- This strategy games been on the PC forever, and now it's bringing its hard-coreness to the console and handheld space.

de Blob (Wii) -- Painting stuff in games as a game mechanic is the New Hotness, and THQ's jumping in with new IP.

Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball (X360) -- It's "Pirates vs. Ninjas", and published by Gamecock. Golden!

LittleBigPlanet (PS3) -- This game looks artsy and stylish and fun. How cool would it be if this became the PS3 console-seller?

Brothers In Arms Hell's Highway (X360, PC) -- Gearbox Software keeps revisiting WWII, and not only does it not feel tired, it feels important.

Iron Man (PS2, PC, X360, PS3, PSP, WII, DS) -- Yes, it's a movie tie-in, but it's a comic book tie-in. Yes, a lot of comic book games suck beyond belief, but I like comic books, and this title looked good at Comic-Con last year. So they're going to have had ten months to finish, tune, and polish the game.

Spore (PC) -- If this ever comes out, its modern incarnation of a god game may be one of the most innovative titles released this decade.

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy (X360, PS3) -- I like the folks at High Moon Studios, and the time they're taking with title -- which will launch well outside of the film vehicle -- keeps me interested. I wish they'd rename it, though; I'm tired of the whole "[bigNameIwantToSeeInLights] + [longTitle]" formula.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (PC) -- It is so time for this MMO.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3) -- Hideo Kojima wants to do something important with games. This is going to probably be his best something important.

Left 4 Dead (X360, PC) -- More zombie games. Always need more zombie games.

Hellboy: Science of Evil (X360, PS3, PSP) -- The footage and grabs from one of my favorite comic book franchises gives me the warm fuzzies.

Legendary: The Box (X360, PS3, PC) -- Hate the game name, but I dig the Pandora's Box device to populate the world with the mythological beasties I love. Then kill them, FPS-style.

Hail to the Chimp (X360, PS3) -- Wideload Games rocks (go play Stubbs the Zombie), and Hail to the Chimp looks to be a funny, politically themed brawler with the same trademark humor. And it's published by Gamecock Media.

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The Games of 2008: Q1

2007 is now a distant memory, and while I've still got to finish The Orange Box, Assassin's Creed, and Mass Effect (and, um, Viva Piñata), I'm already looking to the games of 2008.

So what's up for the next year of gaming after arguably the most prolific and quality-high year in the industry? Did the industry peak in 2007? Does life after Halo 3 and Portal seem a letdown?

Here are my picks -- and don't get your Underoos in a knot if your favorite game isn't here. I'm a PC and 360 gamer, so those titles are a priority for me, as are those titles on other platforms that look compelling for artistic or commercial reasons.

So "your" game may not be here, I may have forgotten some, dates may change, the game may suck, blah blah blah, wah wah wah.

Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom (X360) -- Hey, an action RPG brawler retake on an action RTS mainstay, playable co-op over Xbox Live? I'm in (even if the demo was less than accessible).

Pirates of the Burning Sea (PC) -- An MMO that's not orcs 'n' elves?Let's see how it does. I probably won't play until the ninja community mod expansion pack kicks in.

Devil May Cry 4 (X360, PS3)-- I'm a franchise fan, and even if it's more of the same (but bigger, faster, more insane), it being available out of the gate on the 360 makes it a grabber for me.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) -- If I can get a Wii, this and Super Mario Galaxy are the two boxed titles I'm likely to buy.

Lost Odyssey (X360) -- This may be the JRPG that gets me into JRPGs (sorry, Blue Dragon). Yeah, it's Mistwalker Studios, but it's from Hironobu Sakaguchi (creator of the original Final Fantasy series), composed by FF music creator Nobuo Uematsu, art by manga creator Takehiko Inoue, and written by Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu.

The Club (PC, PS3, X360) -- Take a top-notch racing game developer and throw them at a stylistic, Running Man-esqu thinking man's FPS? I'm in.

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (PC, PS3, X360) -- An FPS in alternative 1950s America where the Nazis won? Of course it's on my list.

Insecticide (DS, PC) -- "Insecticide is a film noir action adventure game set in a decaying world run by bugs. " Plus it's published by Gamecock Media. Who are in Austin, TX, and make me laugh.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot (X360, PS3) -- The first Condemned is one of the strongest launch games on the 360, and it still stands up. Add a more polished version of one of my favorite other vertical game engines (Lithtech) and multiplayer, and I'm ready for another "brown trouser" excursion (thank you, Brits, for that expression).

Bully: Scholarship Edition (X360, Wii) -- Bully for Rockstar for doing something different with this game. Sure, it came out the PS2 a while ago, but this version will have new classes, new content, and achievements (on the 360). Plus, the 360 version is being built using Emergent Game Technologies's Gamebryo game engine.

Viking: Battle for Asgard (PS3, X360) -- I'm a big fan of Norse mythology, action brawlers, and SEGA. It's a lock.

Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon (PS3, X360) -- I know the writer for this, so I would suck if I didn't list it. Plus the franchise genuinely rocks on all fronts.

Haze (PS3) -- Free Radical has my eternal love for the TimeSplitters franchise (bring me TS 4!). Haze looks smart and subversive. Just bring it to 360, kids -- I'd hate to see a sales shortfall for the potential franchise by limiting yourselves to a PS3 SKU.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pre-E3 coverage ...

Next week is E3, and even though it's a scaled-down, arguably insiders affair, the pre-coverage is pretty hefty, and pretty exciting. now has their E3 microsite up, and is tracking a wealth of E3, and tertiarilly E3 happenings, as is

Also, Eurogamer has (an at least current for now) list of the games of E3.

Not everything at E3 will be playable, but I'm looking forward to the playable, new announcements (a la Electronic Arts), and if anything anecdotally interesting comes out of the parties (mostly because I like the slant alliteration of the phrase "anecdotally interesting").

So what am I excited about? (List scalped from, who scalped it from Eurogamer, who really should have just pointed to
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PS3, Xbox 360) -- CoD is a stellar franchise, and I want to see what they do to the modern world.
  • Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Battlefield, but with a cooler mythos. Hope it runs better than Quake IV.
  • Spiderman: Friend or Foe -- Anything comic book related for me. Anything.
  • The Witcher (PC) -- Dark, twisted, adult-themed RPG with moral ambiguity? Sounds like my toy job!
  • Fallout 3 -- Middlingly. I'm a big Fallout franchise fan, but this one's a ways out.
  • Devil May Cry 4 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- You seriously don't need me to explain, do you?
  • Rocketmen: Axis of Evil (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- "The game is a top-down action title that is something of a mix of an old-school stage crawler with Robotron controls.... you advance through levels while plowing through countless numbers of unnamed soldiers."
  • Talisman (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- I think online board games are the New Hotness. Or the new flash-in-the-pan. Which still makes them hot. And this one is a fantasy-themed boardgame with 4-way play.
  • Cliver Barker's Jericho (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Cliver Barker's Undying has some of the best audio on a game to date. And it had good gameplay. And Clive Barker's a talented storyteller. Twisted, but talented.
  • Rise of the Argonauts (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Like comic books, anything mythology related. Please don't suck.
  • Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- In this alternate history FPS, the cab that hit Winston Churchill kills him, and the Nazis take over Europe. Now, it's 1952, and they're invading America.
  • Age of Conan (PC, Xbox 360) -- Bloody good fun.
  • Hellgate: London (PC) -- Just because I still like the premise, have been rooting for it for a long time, and want to see how the free-versus-subscribtion thing works out for them (and us).
  • Medal of Honor Airborne (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Gameplay videos have been me excited about the franchise again.
  • The Simpsons (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS) -- Hey, Matt Groening is the final boss!
  • Dungeon Hero (PC, Xbox 360) -- I have this unnatural attachment to all things GameCock (even if they don't return my Emails). But this is a dungeon crawler without the boredom. Sign me up!
  • Fury (PC) -- MMO without the grinding? PvP? Maybe I'll see you in the demo this weekend.
  • Hail to the Chimp (PS3, Xbox 360) -- Love this game. Man crush on Wideload and Alexander Seropian. 'Nuff said.
  • Mushroom Men (Wii, DS) -- Oddworld aesthetic. 'Shrooms. Need I go on?
  • Two unannounced titles from GameCock (One's probably Section 8)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 -- I'd love an Xbox 360 announcement on this next week, but the game alone, with its hopefully challenging moral mechanics and deep storytelling, has got my attention.
  • Fracture -- This "terra-deforming-as-weapon" from LucasArts has be sweaty palmed. No new news on The Force Unleashed, though?
  • Kengo: Legend of the 9 (Xbox 360) -- I think this is Majesco's first next-gen game (it's at least their first 360 game). Looking for more info, but looks like a Dynasty Warriors-esque take with 9 historical Japanese figures.
  • Blue Dragon (Xbox 360) -- Really want to play this bad boy ...
  • Fable 2 (xbox 360) -- The single-player RPG to beat on the original Xbox, let's see what the former Lionheads do under Microsoft's watch.
  • Halo 3 (Xbox 360) -- You think this wouldn't make the list?
  • Halo Wars (Xbox 360) -- Just for the trailer. Fortunately, leaks about the RTS gameplay have been positive. But they have to go up against Tom Clancy's Endwar.
  • Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360) -- Gorgeous. Just brutal and gorgeous. "We are the Knights Who Say Ne -- Oh SWEET MOTHER! MY EYES! MY EYES!" [*gushing blood*]
  • Mass Effect (Xbox 360) -- RPG of the century? Mayhap.
  • Unannounced XBLA titles (Xbox 360) -- Knock my socks off. You keep dissing my proposals, but you keep giving me stuff I like. So we're good.
  • John Woo's Stranglehold (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- I'm excited about this. More I see, I'm excited.
  • Unreal Tournament 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Unreal Championship II was under-appreciated, maybe because it was a gamers game. This looks to be that and more.
  • Beautiful Katamari (Xbox 360) -- We've suffered long enough without beauty, thank you very much.
  • Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM (PS3) -- Honestly, I just want to see if they can take this Artichoke and jelly mix and make it work.
  • AION (PC) -- An MMO without grinding, and a leveling system "not like you'd expect"? Demons versus angels (ish)? Wings for both factions (no @#$%^&! earning mounts crap)?
  • Dungeon Runners (PC) -- I'm playing the free version of this MMO from NCsoft, and really enjoying it.
  • Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa (PC) -- He gets to put his name on it. I want to support that.
  • Condemned 2 (PS3, Xbox 360) -- Sequel to the early Xbox 360 sleeper hit, now bloodier, with a revamped combat system and (wait for it!) multiplayer!
  • Gas Powered Games' RPG (PC) -- I respect GPG, so I'm waiting to see this.
  • Iron Man -- Anything. Comic book. Related. (Anything.)
  • TimeShift (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- Rescued from the steaming pile of crap not being all it could be, the revamp looks to wow.
  • Heavenly Sword (PS3) -- This could be a console seller for Sony. Hey, it got teased on Heroes.
  • Killzone 2 (PS3) -- C'mon, show me something to wash the tast of the lied about "not-prerendered" debacle.
  • LittleBigPlanet (PS3) -- Have you seen the videos? How fun is this?
  • The Agency -- An MMO from Sony that's not fantasy-themed, and not half-baked sci-fi license. Just don't be stealing from the DC MMO talent pool, kids.
  • BioShock (PC, Xbox 360) -- I want to play this game. And struggle with the choices I've made.
  • De Blob -- THQ is a savvy publisher. And I really like the art aesthetic.
  • Assassin's Creed (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- I think they're hiding the full awesomeness that is this game.
  • FEAR sequel (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) -- The first made me almost soil myself. Raise the bar, Warner.

This is just the stuff we know about. I'm hoping we get some surprises from folks not yet announced. Certain Affinity. Junction Point. More GameCock than you can shake a stick at. And so on.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Hail to the Chimp" updates ...

I've mentioned Hail to the Chimp before -- The upcoming GameCock-published, Wideload-(Stubbs the Zombie) developed brawler ... thing we'll see sometime in 2008.

I'm a big fan of Halo's daddy (and Wideload founder) Alexander Seropian, writer Matt Soell (can talented smart-ass writers really be this nice in person?), and Stubbs, so I'm looking forward to this game.

There's a new preview over at, including screenshots and video. They say a lot about it, but I particularly like this little nugget about trying to classify the game:
"So what is Hail to the Chimp? We're thinking something along the lines of a stylish kid-friendly modern online fighter parody... with political themes... and animals. Imagine if a high school full of animals held a fighting tournament to see who should be elected student class president and you're getting close."
I totally dig the art style, which is a new take on cell shading, and is driving me nuts, because it's reminding me of some impossible-to-recall kids book or cartoon I grew up with. Maybe Chuck Jones-era Bugs Bunny from the late 60s to early 70s. Maybe Phantom Tollbooth. Maybe felt Bible stories. None of which have anything to do with this game.

Art Director Seth Grima describes it:
"It's kind of like if you were to take a storybook, cut out the images, and make multiple layers almost like a diorama. And kind of picture it like living paper, moving around... backgrounds look like high school plays where they just used to cut out waves and shift them back and forth -- that's kind of how we want our layering to look. And the shading looks as if you just took a pencil and shaded all your elements."
But the best part for me is the 4-way, online and offline co-op. I hope it's also jump-in-jump out.

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