Monday, April 25, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever "Come Get Some" Trailer Uncensored

Last week, the latest trailer for Duke Nukem Forever was released. Entitled "Come Get Some," you can check it out below.

Warning: The above is an uncensored trailer and shows fake, in-game nipples for about a second that will horribly corrupt your soul by looking at them. Won't someone please think of the children and all that other overprotective jazz.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Screenshots

Eight new screenshots have been released for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and they're being hosted at ActionTrip. You can check them out right here.

I really like the look of the creatures and environments, though I confess that human character models are taking on that "plastic" look that's becoming quite common in the industry today.

Still, the game's looking very nice! Oh and look, it's Shelob!

BioShock 2: Minerva's Den Completed for the 2nd Time

Brilliant, simply brilliant. BioShock 2: Minerva's Den is the best single player DLC I've ever played, and I truly wish other developers and publishers would take notice of the value of this content. It truly is just short of being a proper expansion set.

I played through on Hard this time around and Harvested every Little Sister. Even on my second playthrough, "Minerva's Den" still took me about 10 hours to complete and it truly was harder on Hard, especially the early game when you're weak. Preserving ammo and using security against your enemies is the name of the game and the scarcity of resources in "Minerva's Den" is better accomplished here than in any other entry in the franchise.

One large mistake I made was trying to Gather Adam too early, which simply allowed the Spider Splicers and Fiery Brute Splicers to chew me up. I had to be patient and wait until I had collected some better weapons to create defences for my Little Sisters. I also only stuck to the Plasmids offered by Default and didn't buy anything new, though I did upgrade them, and I did purchase a lot of Tonics.

Weapon wise I really stuck to the Drill, Ion Laser (and used all the ammo this time), and I made great use of the Spear Gun this time.

The story of "Minerva's Den" is what I truly found most captivating. Such a sad and wonderful narrative with such a great twist, and one that surprisingly doesn't seem altered by your own actions towards the Little Sisters, a first for the franchise as well.

BioShock 2: Minerva's Den left me with such a good impression that I eagerly await going through it one last time, which I'm hoping to do in the next few months.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Episodes 1 and 2

Remember this live action film based on Mortal Kombat? Well it looks like they've gone ahead and made some shorts after all.

Entitled Mortal Kombat: Legacy, the first episode can be viewed here and below.

The second episode can be viewed here or, to bypass account creation, here.

Both episodes aren't too bad at all.

Source Code Review

About a week and a half ago I checked out Source Code, which is actually the first film I've seen in theatres for roughly six months. The film opens as Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) awakens to find himself aboard a train in Chicago instead of on deployment in Afghanistan. What's even crazier is that he's apparently not himself, but rather a school teacher named Sean who's friends with another passenger, the lovely Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan).

Then the train goes boom and Stevens awakens inside some kind of capsule receiving instructions from Captain Colleen Goodwin. You see, Stevens is part of a special project called Source Code in which he's able to go back into the memories of this school teacher named Sean and live out the last 8 minutes of his life. The train has already exploded as part of a terrorist attack and Stevens needs to find who the bomber is before an even larger attack destroys all of Chicago.

Need me to explain that a little more? Basically Source Code kind of reminds me of a cross between The Matrix and Train 48. Anyone remember Train 48? Well the whole Source Code process leaves Stevens regularly disoriented, so he has to keep going back over and over again, being exploded again and again, to try and find who this bomber is. And while he does so, he gets to know the "regulars" of this train trip, who in many respects reminded me of the goofy cast of Train 48. There's the hotshot deal-making guy, the eastern business man, the nerdy college kid, etc.

Oh, and remember how I said that Stevens could only live out this teacher's memory for the last 8 minutes of that teacher's life? Well the film regularly breaks this convention as many of the things Stevens would do in each instance would take longer than 8 minutes. That, combined with the fact that he was able to leave the train and experience things this teacher hadn't and clearly couldn't have known about really worked well at killing my suspension of disbelief. These extra experiences are explained later on, rather unsatisfactorily might I add, but I suppose it technically works. Technically.

What also irked me was how fake the drama and tension of the film were. The whole time the actors are working on how crucial time is, how much is at stake to find this bomber and how Stevens must complete his mission _now_, but it all came across as too forced. Don't just tell me how important things are, show me. Lure me in with additional pieces of information to flesh out the world and the setting and don't just keep showing me non-8 minute 8 minute clips of Stevens messing up on the train.

Let's also not forget about his budding relationship with Christina, which also isn't believable as they end up living out a lie. And by the time the third act hits one's suspension of disbelief really goes out the window as what seemed forced at first now just doesn't work within the confines of the film's own narrative.

As I'm sure you can gather, Source Code didn't do it for me. While it certainly has some entertaining moments and some genuinely funny bits, the whole film is an excellent concept that was poorly executed and leaves a rather unsatisfied taste in one's mouth. At least it's a relatively short film by today's standards weighing in at 94 minutes, which makes sense considering how little the plot really has to run on.

If you haven't seen Source Code in theatres yet, I recommend you hold off until it hits your local TV service. While it's entertaining for an evening, it's honestly not worth the price of admission at any theatre.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Halo: Reach Completed for the 4th Time

Just now, I completed Halo: Reach for the 4th time, my second on Heroic. This also marks the conclusion of my Halo franchise playthrough where I went through all six titles in a row; my first time doing so.

Halo: Reach may be a prequel, but it's Bungie's swan song to the franchise and is the definitive Halo experience, the sum of nine years worth of experience creating Halo games. Since I've just played through every single Halo title over the last six weeks, I can see clearly how each title has improved (or not) on what's come before, and for the most part Halo: Reach really does show the sum of all it predecessors.

Aside from being the most beautiful and visually stunning title of the franchise, Halo: Reach showcases a key piece of Halo lore that we've all heard and read about since the franchise began: The Fall of Reach. I still consider it a great shame that Bungie saw fit to retcon nine years of canon, however on its own merits Halo: Reach has a solid storyline punctuated by an exceptional soundtrack.

One of the biggest additions to the franchise is Armour Abilities, replacing the Equipment introduced in Halo 3, and the most important and staple Armour Ability introduced is, without a doubt, Sprint. Welcome to 2003 Bungie! Seriously though, Sprint was sorely missing from the franchise and should certainly have been included in Halo 3 onwards, but better late than never.

Actually, Sprint helped to make the overall experience easier as you could now do something you never could before: If you found yourself in a bad situation, you could hall ass out of there! This simple concept prevents one from loading their last Checkpoint dozens of times, but sadly it also shows one of the key flaws and disappointments of Halo: Reach's Campaign, something I just experienced in full on the final Chapter of the game: lack of flexibility.

One thing I adored about Halo 2, and have yet to see equaled in any game on any platform since, was the flexibility in which the player could approach any linear situation. The weapons you chose to use, or not, greatly affected how the upcoming battles would handle, but most choices would lead to doable situations; the design and balance was excellent. In Halo: Reach, however, should you choose the wrong weapons or Armour Ability for a situation you will have an awful time.

In Chapter X, I made the mistake of taking Hologram with the intent of experimenting and having fun against the AI. Instead I was met with significant frustration in several key parts. My frustration became so great I finally decided to start using the noob combo (Plasma Pistol and precision weapon) just to get past some more challenging battles, which unto itself soured the experience for me.

Another odd dichotomy with Halo: Reach is the AI. The enemy AI is the best I've experienced in any game period, and the Elites are wonderfully challenging opponents. Your friendly AI, however, is stupid. It's the worst friendly AI in the franchise and I can't believe how hard Bungie dropped the ball on that one.

AI allies, such as Army Troopers, don't always fire, take a while to hop on vehicles, or simply won't hop on at all. Your Spartan allies are quite lucky that they're invulnerable, because they'd be useless otherwise. Horrible and sloppy friendly AI, and even the Arbiter from Halo 3, who spent a good amount of time unconscious or on fire from my own Flamethrower, was more useful.

Now, having said that, the individual battles are generally great. While the massive vehicle battles found in Halo 3, such as taking on two Scarabs at a time, are absent, Bungie created grand infantry battles throughout on a scale not seen in the franchise before. While the incompetent friendly AI can hurt these, the enemy AI and level design more than make up for that short coming and ensures the player will have a great time, minus some ridiculous sections that require a fair bit of profanity to prevail in.

The Halo franchise as a whole is a great experience, and no serious shooter fan should miss it. Featuring a great military sci-fi story, interesting characters, and innovative game design in several of the titles, there's a solid reason why Halo has shaped a lot of gaming today: it's simply a great collection of games.

And Halo: Reach, despite some flaws, is a great addition to and conclusion to Bungie's work on this epic franchise.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Screenshots

Several new screenshots for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim have been released, and they can be viewed along with other media on the official Media page here.

The game is looking great, and is quickly moving to my must-have-on-launch-day category!

Xbox 360 to Get New Disc Format

It appears the Xbox 360 will be getting compatibility with a new disc format in the next System Update.

As is often the case with such large updates, Xbox is offering a Preview to allow select gamers to beta test it. This Preview is open to US residents only, I'm afraid (and sign ups are now closed), however those selected will get a free copy of Halo: Reach in the new disc format.

More details as they develop, and you can read the full details on Major Nelson's blog here.

Mass Effect 2: Arrival Trailer and Hackett Character Page

The final DLC for Mass Effect 2, entitled "Arrival," was released earlier this week, and for those interested you can check out the trailer below.

Fan favourite Admiral Hackett also makes a return, and we finally get to see what he looks like. BioWare has added a character page for him, which you can view right here.