Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim "The Concept Art of Skyrim" Video

I'll let this video released by Bethesda Softworks speak for itself.

The music, the landscapes, the character. I can't tell you how excited I am for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Less than two weeks until you loose your social life!

BioShock Infinite "The People Behind Booker and Elizabeth Part 1"

A new ViDoc has been released from Irrational Games detailing the voice actors behind the characters Booker and Elizabeth in their upcoming game, BioShock Infinite. Known for creating innovative and vibrant worlds, Ken Levine weighs in his thoughts on not only these characters within Columbia but also about the voice talent as well.

You can check out the video here or below.

I love you Ken Levine.

Halo: Glasslands Now Available

While Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is just over two weeks away, our friends at Tor Books sent word this past Tuesday that the latest Halo novel, Halo: Glasslands, is now available at retail outlets everywhere.

You can check out the full press release below:

Tor Books announces publication of HALO: GLASSLANDS by #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Traviss

The first novel in an all-new trilogy set in the Halo Universe takes readers and gamers through the chaos of the post-Halo 3 universe…

New York, NY – October 25, 2011 – Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC – the largest publisher of science fiction in the world – and Microsoft are excited to announce the on-sale availability of HALO: GLASSLANDS by #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Traviss. This is the first novel in an all-new Halo trilogy based on the acclaimed Xbox and Xbox 360 Halo videogame series. Traviss, who has penned number one bestselling novels in the Star Wars universe, as well as bestselling novels for the Gears of War franchise, will explore the events following “Halo 3” in a novel continuing the story begun in Halo: Ghosts of Onyx.

Halo novels published by Tor have sold over a million combined copies to date, and on January 3, 2012 Tor will also publish Halo: Primordium, the second novel in the Forerunner Saga by science fiction icon Greg Bear. The highly-anticipated Xbox 360 video game “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary” will release in November 2011, with the recently announced “Halo 4” scheduled for fall 2012.

In HALO: GLASSLANDS, The Covenant has collapsed after a long, brutal war that saw billions slaughtered on Earth and her colonies. For the first time in decades, however, peace finally seems possible. But though the fighting's stopped, the war is far from over: it's just gone underground. The UNSC's feared and secretive Office of Naval Intelligence recruits Kilo-Five, a team of ODSTs, a Spartan, and an eccentric AI to accelerate the Sangheili insurrection. Meanwhile, the Arbiter, the defector turned leader of a broken Covenant, struggles to stave off civil war among his divided people.

Across the galaxy, a woman thought to have died on Reach is actually very much alive. Chief scientist Dr. Catherine Halsey broke every law in the book to create the Spartans, and now she's broken some more to save them. Marooned with Chief Mendez and a Spartan team in a Forerunner slipspace bubble hidden in the destroyed planet Onyx, she finds that the shield world has been guarding an ancient secret – a treasure trove of Forerunner technology that will change everything for the UNSC and mankind.

As Kilo-Five joins the hunt for Halsey, humanity’s violent past begins to catch up with all of them as disgruntled colony Venezia has been biding its time to strike at Earth, and its most dangerous terrorist has an old, painful link with both Halsey and Kilo-Five that will test everyone’s loyalty to the limit.

“We’re excited to share Glasslands with the Halo audience, mostly because it’s a really incredible read, but also because for the first time, we’re using the Halo novels to take the game fiction forward in time, rather than exploring historical moments,” said Frank O’Connor, Franchise Development Director at 343 Industries. “These are the foundational elements for the next Halo game trilogy and Karen has captured and created them masterfully.”

#1 New York Times best-selling novelist , comics author and games writer Karen Traviss has received critical acclaim and award nominations for her Wess'har series, as well as regularly hitting the bestseller lists with her Star Wars and Gears of War novels. She was also the writer of the blockbuster Xbox 360 game “Gears of War 3.” A former defence correspondent and TV and newspaper journalist, she lives in Wiltshire, England.

“Halo's got some interesting moral dilemmas for me to explore,” says Traviss. “It's also an opportunity for me to examine the UNSC personnel who don't get all the limelight that the Spartans do, like the ODSTs, and of course the ones who'd run a mile from the spotlight anyway – the Office of Naval Intelligence. But you do get to see a side of the Spartans you haven't seen before.”

The Halo franchise is an award-winning collection of properties that have grown into a global entertainment phenomenon. Beginning with the original “Halo: Combat Evolved” for Xbox in 2001, the rich fiction of the franchise has since inspired a series of blockbuster Xbox and Xbox 360 video games, New York Times best-selling novels, comic books, action figures, apparel and more. To date, sales in the Halo franchise have eclipsed $1.7 billion. The newest game in the franchise, “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary,” will re-introduce the iconic title that started it all, re-mastered in 3D for the Xbox 360. The highly-anticipated next installment in the franchise, “Halo 4,” was recently announced for a fall 2012 release. With a fully fleshed-out universe of heroes, villains and epic scenarios, the novels expand the universe to give fans a grander view of the game environments and characters they encounter.

About Tor Books

Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books. Founded in 1980, Tor annually publishes what is arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher. In 2002, Tor launched Starscape, an imprint dedicated to publishing quality science fiction and fantasy for young readers, including books by critically acclaimed and

award winning authors such as Cory Doctorow, Orson Scott Card, and David Lubar. Between an extensive hardcover and trade-softcover line, an Orb backlist program, and a stronghold in mass-market paperbacks, books from Tor have won every major award in the SF and fantasy fields, and Tor has been named Best Publisher 24 years in a row in the Locus Poll, the largest consumer poll in SF.

Very excited for this novel, as the excerpts originally released were top notch!

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Behind the Scenes Videos

Two new Behind the Scenes videos for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary have been released.

The first is entitled "Anniversary Music" and details updating the original game's score with a full orchestra. You can check it our here or below.

The second is entitled "Anniversary Terminals" and goes into detail on creating the Terminals for the game and a bit about 343 Guilty Spark himself. You can check this one out here or below.

And just like the updated graphics, you'll be able to listen to the original or updated score, but the option to change this will be located in the game's Options menu.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Live Action Trailer

A lot of triple A games seem to have live action trailers these days, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is no exception.

You can check it out here or below.

Not bad. Leaves one anticipating the action but in truth, I love the series more for its exploration.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Diablo III Black Soulstone Cinematic

Clearly in top form, Blizzard Entertainment has released yet another trailer courtesy of their exceptional cinematic department. The Diablo III "Black Soulstone" Cinematic shows Deckard Cain's niece receiving a horrible vision of things to come.

You can check it out here or below.

In addition, Blizzard Entertainment has also released an interesting Diablo "Retrospective" video showcasing the history of the franchise. Diablo accomplished many things, key among them the launch of, a free online gaming service for Blizzard Entertainment games that was instrumental in crushing pay-to-play services.

That is until Xbox LIVE came around and gamers grew ignorant again.

You can check out the Diablo Retrospective here or below.

The above video shows two great games and an actual expansion set, none of this DLC BS we're shoveled today, from what I consider to be the golden age of gaming. A true shame those days are gone, and a greater shame that the average gamer today is too apathetic to care.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Preview Trailer

Blizzard Entertainment has released a preview trailer for their upcoming expansion set, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Full of breathtaking cinematic action, you can check out the trailer here or below.

The next time I upgrade my PC, I will need to pick StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty up. Hopefully it'll have dropped in price by then, and perhaps there will even be a Battlechest containing the core game and all the expansions.

Mass Effect 3 Demo

BioWare has officially announced that a playable demo of Mass Effect 3 will be released in January 2012, prior to the game's launch itself. The demo will contain both Single Player and Multiplayer content, and players who purchase Battlefield 3 will gain early access to the Multiplayer portion of the demo.

Additional, no purchase necessary options for gaining early Multiplayer demo access will be revealed in the coming months.

For full details, check out BioWare's official FAQ here.

Gears of War 3: RAAM's Shadow Announced

The first single player DLC for Gears of War 3 has been officially announced. Entitled "RAAM's Shadow," it's set prior to Gears of War and follows the exploits of Zeta Squad, composed of Minh Young Kim, Tai Kaliso, Michael Barrick from the comics, and a new female Gear, as they evacuate the city of Ilima.

There will also be an optional section where players can take control of General RAAM, the Locust general and final boss of the original game, and storm a COG fortification, marking the first time players can play as a Locust in Single Player.

The add-on will also contain six new Multiplayer character skins, the Chocolate Weapon Skin pack, and 250 Gamerscore. Clocking in at just over 3 hours of gameplay, Gears of War 3: RAAM's Shadow will sell for 1200 Microsoft Points and will be available on December 13th. It'll be available at no extra charge if you already have the Gears of War 3 Season Pass.

Honestly, 1200 Microsoft Points is a lot to ask for a 3 hour experience, and as a result I'll pass until it becomes a Deal of the Week.

NOTE: As of this typing, the official Gears of War 3 web site will not load, and thus I can't link to the official announcement. I'll do so as soon as the site loads again.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary BTS - Anniversary Campaign

343 Industries has released another Behind the Scenes video for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, entitled "Anniversary Campaign." It goes into detail, surprisingly, about re-creating this classic single player Campaign for the Xbox 360.

You can check out the video here or below.

After taking the video in and, essentially, drooling all over it, I caved and decided to pre-order Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Best Buy is discounting it with $5.00 off via online pre-orders, and I know I'm going to have a blast playing through this another few times.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Batman: Arkham City "I have powerful friends Batman!" Trailer

The launch trailer for Batman: Arkham City has been released, colourfully entitled "I have powerful friends Batman!"

You can check it out here or below.

Batman: Arkham City releases on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this coming Tuesday, October 18th, and will launch on PC November 8th.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Achievements Revealed

The 10th anniversary of Halo is a month from tomorrow, and that means that Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary will be on store shelves. Naturally the game will feature Achievements, and 343 Industries has finally revealed all of them in this announcement here.

Some of them are standard fair, others look extremely challenging. "The Library" on Legendary is enough to drive fear and terror into just about any gamer!

Dead Space: Ignition (Xbox 360) Trial Impressions

I've been craving a new Dead Space experience as of late so I decided to try the free Trial of the Xbox LIVE Arcade game, Dead Space: Ignition. A prequel to the exceptional Dead Space 2, Dead Space: Ignition's story is told from the perspective of Frank, a repair tech, in the form of an interactive comic. As the original outbreak on the Sprawl occurs, you play a serious of hacking mini-games to progress.

To sum it up, I'm sorry I downloaded this trial. The intro motion comic showed promise of a cheesy but fun story, but once I got into my first hack the controls were simply horrible. You're basically moving a line through a maze to try and reach the end before AI counter agents beat you there and lock you out. There are obstacles in the way that you need to avoid and it's all very straightforward, save that the Left Stick handles horrendously for moving your way through said maze.

The odd thing is, I can't pinpoint exactly what's wrong with the stick as sometimes it felt too unresponsive and other times far too responsive. There's no way to tweak the sensitivity and as such trying to get through that puzzle was a horrendous burden as opposed to a challenging pleasure.

I attempted it twice and decided to call it quits, promptly deleting the trial of Dead Space: Ignition from my Xbox 360's HDD.

The cutscenes, as I mentioned, did show promise, and I'm sure I can find them on YouTube somewhere for my viewing pleasure.

The Gaming Industry and DLC

A regular at Delay of Game posted this recently, and it's a real shame because it's true.

1999 and just beyond is what I consider to be the golden age of gaming. We got amazing retail products with excellent, honest to God expansion packs released and, not reflected in the picture, game add-ons (modern day DLC) released for free. What a time to game in!

Around 2005 convergence began to really happen as consoles finally caught up to the power of PC gaming and publishers and developers began re-evaluating their add-on and content distribution models. This was also the first time console-only gamers really had the opportunity to experience the kind of additional content, multiplayer gaming, and software updates that PC gamers have enjoyed and taken for granted for a decade and more. The console gamer's experience was still limited by everything being forced through publisher controlled first party services, but it was there none-the-less.

Now? Now we get incomplete products shipped as retail releases and we're nickle and dimed for overpriced DLC that provide a fraction of the experience of yesteryear at an inflated cost.

This is what we, the consumer, have allowed the games industry to decline into because we keep supporting not just these lesser-but-flashier retail releases, but also DLC as we know it today; the worst thing to happen to this generation of gaming. We now have a lesser and more costly experience as the norm, and it's all our faults. We're ruining gaming for ourselves through apathy and ignorance.

Halo: Glasslands Excerpts Available for Preview

The next novel in the Halo franchise, entitled Halo: Glasslands, will release to retailers everywhere on October 25th. Written by Karen Traviss, this will be the first full novel set after the end of the Human-Covenant War in Halo 3, and is the first book in a trilogy that will detail characters and events that lead into Halo 4.

While you wait for the 25th to roll around, you can preview the novels prologue and first two chapters courtesy of Tor Books and Halo Waypoint.

The prologue and chapter 1 can be read on Tor's site here, and the second chapter can be read at Halo Waypoint here.

I read the prologue and the first half of chapter 1 and I decided to stop there as I don't want to spoil too much for myself, but I'm loving what I'm reading! Traviss has quite the way with characters!

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Announced

BioWare's has officially added Multiplayer to the Mass Effect franchise, and players will be able to engage in Co-Op missions on all three platforms via Mass Effect 3 this coming March.

For full announcement details, you can view the BioWare Pulse video here or below which features an interview with Executive Producer Casey Hudson, and you can read the official FAQ here.

I'll be honest, I'm not excited by this at all and I am concerned about the quality of the Single Player game since it appears Multiplayer will tie into the core game, however I am going to reserve judgement until more details are released.

Mass Effect 3 is being published by EA and they had Multiplayer added to Dead Space 2 which was quite unnecessary, but thankfully it didn't detract from the exceptional Single Player game at all, so hopefully the same will ring true here.

In a related topic, does anyone else find David Silverman to be a poor choice of host and for BioWare Pulse to be overly flashy and rather annoying, or is it just me?

Gears of War 3 Horde Command Pack DLC Announced

I'm a little late on this one but as usual, better late than never. Epic Games has officially announced the first DLC add-on for their smash hit, Gears of War 3. Entitled the "Horde Command Pack," it will include:

- Three new maps that can be used in Horde, Beast Mode, and Private Versus matches
- Four new Fortification Upgrades for Horde
- Three new Multiplayer character skins
- Two New Weapon Skins

The Gears of War 3: Horde Command Pack will be available November 1st for 800 Microsoft Points or at no additional charge if you purchased the pricey Gears of War 3 Season Pass.

You can read the official announcement here.

You know, I've had the game since launch and I still need to try Horde and Beast Mode. I'll be honest, Gears of War 3 has not grabbed me at all, and while it's not a bad game, I'm finding myself disappointed by it. It has such a been-there-done-that feel too it, and the Campaign was pretty disappointing to me and no where near as marvelous a story experience as professional reviewers are making it out to be.

Once I do sink my teeth into some more game modes, I'll review Gears of War 3 myself. Look for it in a week or so.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mortal Kombat Review Updated

I'm about a month behind with this one but better late than never.

Mortal Kombat is a great game and you can check out my entire review here, however now that the atrocious online lag from launch has been fixed I've updated my review to include some proper thoughts on the game's Xbox LIVE experience.

If you've already read my original review, I've posted the update below for your reading convenience.

Early this past Summer, the horrendous lag that plagued Mortal Kombat's online play since launch was resolved via a Title Update, and as promised, now that I've spent a lot of time with the game over Xbox LIVE I'm updating this review accordingly.

Lag is still present, especially if your opponent has a lesser internet connection, but what remains is negligible and it's just a shame that it took NetherRealm Studios about two and a half months to resolve the issue. When the Title Update was released I was enjoying Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe and grinding that game's online play as Scorpion. In August, I turned my attention to Mortal Kombat and looking for a new kombatant to spend a lot of time with I selected Mileena as my champion.

In a little over a month I played a grand total of 252 Ranked Matches, winning 143 of those with a Best Streak of 12 games. I made it into the top 5000 players and greatly enjoyed myself, so much so that Mortal Kombat has now become my most played game over Xbox LIVE (in terms of number of games). Considering my limited time for gaming these days, that certainly says something!

Like any other fighting game many players simply spam or try to cheap their wins, but for the most part so long as you think while you fight and learn the patterns everyone copies from one another you should be able to do fine. NetherRealm Studios also releases regular balance updates which happen seamlessly when you connect online, and this further refines and balances the overall gameplay experience.

What is a shame is that like Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, several of the online-based Achievements are glitched. If an opponent disconnects or even quits a match early legitimately, the match may not count towards some rather time consuming Achievements. As a result, "Wavenet" and "The Competitor" can take a lot longer to earn amongst others, but at least you'll have a blast while doing it.

I also dabbled in King of the Hill and it seems like a really great game mode. It's fun to watch others pound on one another and to tinker with expressions for your Avatar, and when you're fighting in a match yourself you can easily switch to full screen mode by pressing "Back," which I recommend as it'll help you focus better.

My only gripe with King of the Hill is that in a full room you're going to spend a lot of time spectating, possibly more so than playing, which doesn't work so well for me given I usually only have an hour a day to game. With that amount of time at my disposal when I'm online to play I want to play, simple as that.

Regardless, I'm quite glad that Mortal Kombat's online play was fixed, at least from a lag perspective. There's a robust online experience here with great Ranked and Player matches to be had, and King of the Hill adds in a new aspect of fun if you've got the time to kill. I do wish they would have added Test Your Luck as a Multiplayer mode as the random variables would have made for some great and unique matches, but I suppose one can't have everything.

Really though, Mortal Kombat is an excellent experience and an extremely complete package. There's so much to offer on the core game disc that if you have any interest in fighting games or the franchise at all you need to pick this game up

Aliens: Colonial Marines Gameplay Demo

At last week's end, Gearbox Software released a Gameplay demo for their upcoming shooter, Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Narrated by Randy Pitchford, this gameplay simply looks amazing. The team seems to have really capturing the feeling and atmosphere of Aliens and I'm greatly looking forward to more details in the months ahead!

You can check out the Gameplay demo here or below.

I guess the reactor blowing up wasn't much of an explosion after all seeing how the colony appears to be mainly intact.

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe Sold

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe is a solid and fun game that's a great budget title. I enjoyed it and had my fun with it but with Mortal Kombat being such a better game, and now that its online is fixed and with me working on "My Kung Fu is Stronger," I realized that I wouldn't be playing Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe again. Thus, I sold it to EB Games yesterday.

When the trade-in value is taken into account, I only paid $7.99 plus tax for the title, which isn't too bad at all.

If you are looking for a budget fighter that's both fun and campy, I highly recommend it, and you can check out my full review here.

It's $19.99 plus tax brand new as of this typing, so should I ever feel the urge to play it again it'll be easy to pick up.