Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jetpack Joyride (PlayStation Vita) Review

At long last, Barry Steakfries is back.  From what?  Some other games I never played before, but that's not the point!  The point is, Barry is back in all his suit sleeve ripping goodness!

Jetpack Joyride soars its way onto the PlayStation Vita, and though it's been on other platforms for a bit, the PlayStation Vita version was my first go at it.

Basically, Barry is a gramophone salesman who stumbles across a not-so-secret scientific laboratory.  With sales at an all time low, he decides to steal an experimental Jetpack and go for a spin to live out his dream of fun and freedom.

The game is touchscreen-based, and basically pressing an holding on the PlayStation Vita's screen (front or rear, depending on your setting) has Barry rise or lower in this side scrolling adventure.  As you navigate the laboratory environments, you need to avoid such obstacles as Zappers, Lasers, and Missiles, and each game has its levels randomized to add to the navigational challenge.

By collecting Coins as you progress, you can ultimately buy items in The Stash.  These items range from new outfits for Barry to other versions of the Jetpack to disposable items (such as an extra life or 750 metre head start) to the most important thing of all: Gadgets.

Barry can have two Gadgets equipped in any game, and Gadgets can really give you an edge.  They can be something simple like Air Barry's, shoes that allow Barry to jump a little higher, to a Coin Magnet that allows you to more easily collect Coins.  You can also get a Missile Jammer that makes those pesky Missiles far easier to dodge, and a De-Zappinator that randomly causes some Zappers to fail, removing an obstacle in your path.

Generally speaking, you're score in the game is the distance you've traveled, and you're trying to get as far as you can before you die.  The further you get the faster the game world zooms by making things harder and forcing you to react that much more quickly.

As you progress you can also collect Final Spin tokens, which allow you to partake in the slot machine mini-game when you die.  Prizes to be won include Coins, an extra life, a Head Start for your next game, a little bomb to give you a bit more distance added to your current run, etc.

Not only does Barry use the Jetpack he steals, but there's also several vehicles available in-game.  These vehicles are used by touching a Vehicle block scattered throughout the levels, and can range from a motorcycle (the Bad As Hog), to a Teleporter, to a mechanical dragon (Mr. Cuddles).  It's always random, and you can get a Gadget to see what the vehicle will be before you touch it, but you can't change what it will be.  Not only do vehicles let you cover ground in good time (or slow things down allowing you more control), but they also give you an extra hit.  Touch a Zapper and your vehicle is destroyed, but Barry is fine and back on his Jetpack.  Thus, proper use of vehicles will allow your run to go that much farther.

To keep things interesting, the game also throws in Missions for you to complete, which allow you to earn Stars which allow you to level up and get a bonus in Coins.  The Missions can range from finishing a game at a certain distance to having a near miss with "X" number of Missiles to crashing a vehicle about five times.  There's a good bit of variety in them and they can force you to broaden or limit your play style, adding to the game's replayability.

When I downloaded Jetpack Joyride, it was (and may still be) free-to-play, which is great.  I've spent about 14 hours with the game and I'm not tired of it yet, as it's simple and enjoyable in its casual fun.  For those looking for a boost to quickly get more Gadgets or items, you can purchase Coins with real money, but that's your choice as you can also grind for them with enough patience (as I'm doing).

As a free game, Jetpack Joyride is a wonderful experience that's simple to play and hard to master.  Both skill and luck play into how far Barry will go, and there's lots of cool unlockables and humour to keep you coming back for more.  There's also several Trophies to unlock, many of which aren't that difficult, to pad your PlayStation account's level a bit.

All of the above serve to make Jetpack Joyride an easy recommendation, even if it's sold at a modest fee.  The game is just that much fun and well worth your free time.

Mass Effect 3: Reckoning Trailer

The final Multiplayer DLC for Mass Effect 3, entitled "Reckoning", is out now.  To get a glimpse of the new multiplayer character classes added, you can check out this video here or below:

Mass Effect 3's Multiplayer turned out to be an amazingly fun experience, and I'm really glad that it was supported with free updates through the game's entire run.

If only more games would do so.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Battle Arena Week 4

We're a few days into voting already but Week 4 of the Battle Arena for Injustice: Gods Among Us is already under way.

This week we see Superman vs. Sinestro and Green Arrow vs. Hawkgirl.

Check out this video for the full details:

My vote goes to Superman and Hawkgirl.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

PlayStation 4 Announced

This past Tuesday, Sony announced their next generation console, the PlayStation 4.  Featuring enhanced social integration, content access, exclusive games, and a new controller design with a built-in touch screen, Sony's new console has a lot of potential.

Check out this announcement video below:

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For full details, including additional videos, trailers, and exclusive titles, check out the official page here.

While it's still very early (I believe the PlayStation 4 will release this coming holiday), this is very exciting, and I'll be keeping my eye on the console as it moves forward.  I already have a PlayStation Vita which will have functionality with Sony's new console, and the Xbox platform hasn't been impressing me these last few years.

Perhaps in 2014, it'll be time to switch.  We'll see, and we'll see what Microsoft comes up with for their next console.

BioShock Infinite Season Pass Announced

Now that BioShock Infinite has gone gold, Irrational Games has turned its attention to DLC for the game, and has announced the Season Pass for it.

BioShock Infinite will be receiving three additional DLC add-ons over time, all providing new stories, characters, weapons, and abilities.

The Season Pass will be available on March 26th, the game's launch day, and will cost 1600 Microsoft Points ($23.20).  The three DLC add-ons will cost about $30.00 (US) individually, so this provides gamers who want more content and don't plan on waiting for sales roughly 30% savings.

Those who get the Season Pass will also get the Early Bird Special Pack, which includes a Machine Gun Damage Upgrade, a Pistol Damage Upgrade, Gold skins for both weapons, and five infusion bottles.

For full details, you can check out the official announcement right here.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Battle Arena Week 3 Results

The votes are in and the results are up for the third week of Battle Arena in Injustice: Gods Among Us.

To see who won between Aquaman and Cyborg, watch this video here or below:

To see who won between Green Lantern and Solomon Grundy, check out this video here or below:

Check back this week to see the details for Week 4!

Mass Effect 3 Citadel and Reckoning DLC Officially Announced

The final two DLC add-ons for Mass Effect 3 have been officially announced.

The first is entitled "Citadel," and it's a single player add-on that sees Commander Shepard the target of a sinister conspiracy on the Citadel itself, requiring the Commander to team up with allies current and old to succeed.

The second is called "Reckoning," and is a Multiplayer add-on adding new classes, weapons, and equipment to online play.

"Citadel" will be available on March 5th for 1200 Microsoft Points, and you can read more about it here.

"Reckoning" will available on February 26th at no additional cost, and you can read more about it here.

For further details on both add-ons, you can check this out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mortal Kombat Legacy Season 2 Trailer

The official trailer for Mortal Kombat Legacy Season 2 has kicked off, and you can watch it here or below:

I really enjoyed the first season, which detailed a reimagined origins of some of the franchise's favourite kombatants.  For those who missed it, you can watch all the episodes here.

Season 2 focuses on the original Shaolin Tournament, and based on the quality of this trailer, I'm very excited to see Mortal Kombat in live-action once again.  Most of my favourite characters will be in it, and while some of them have been recast, it overall looks far darker and more aggressive than last season.

Halo 4: Majestic Map Pack

The next Map Pack for Halo 4, entitled "Majestic," releases this Monday.  It includes three new maps all around a close quarters design with a more classic franchise feel.

You can check out the "Making of" video here or below:

The Majestic Map Pack will release for 800 Microsoft Points, and for those who purchased the Limited Edition of the game, you'll be able to download them at no additional charge.

BioShock Infinite "Lamb of Columbia" Trailer

What's proving to be my most anticipated game of the year, BioShock Infinite has a new trailer.

Detailing Elizabeth and Booker's mission to rescue her, the "Lamb of Columbia" trailer can be viewed here or below:

Injustice: Gods Among Us Battle Arena Week 3 Voting

The third week of Battle Arena for Injustice: Gods Among Us is now live, and you can check out the details here or below:

Basically these fights are all about popularity, so my votes have gone to Aquaman and Green Lantern.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

BioShock Infinite "Columbia: A Modern Day Icarus? Part 2" Trailer

The second trailer in the BioShock Infinite series, "Columbia: A Modern Day Icarus?" is now up, and you can check it out here or below:

This past Wednesday I was privileged to spend an hour and a half with the game at X-series Event 2013, so make sure to check out my impressions here.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Aquaman Reveal Trailer

Aquaman has officially been announced and joins the roster for Injustice: Gods Among Us.

You can check out his announcement trailer here or below.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Battle Arena Week 2

The second week of Injustice: Gods Among Us Battle Arena is now done.  For those who missed the introduction earlier this week, you can check that out here or below:

Now, you can check out the matches and winners here and here or below:

The next match ups will be put up for voting on Monday!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

X-series Event 2013

The X-series is Xbox Canada's (almost) yearly event showcasing some of the best upcoming games for the Xbox 360, and I was lucky enough to score an invite to the 2013 show.  Held on February 13th at Courthouse in downtown Toronto, the event was headlined by Microsoft Studio's own Gears of War: Judgment, BioShock Infinite, and Tomb Raider.

Now at these kind of events my modus operandi is usually to sample whatever games are on hand for about five minutes or so each, and then to spend the rest of the show talking with developers, product guys, and community members, but this year turned out to be different.  After checking my coat and heading to the venue's main floor, BioShock Infinite was directly to my left and so I sat down on a comfy leather couch, put on some headphones, and began my trial run to Columbia.

As many of you know, I'm a big fan of the franchise as quality, single player rich games are in ever short supply these days, and let me start off by saying that you will not be disappointed with Irrational Games' upcoming offering.  From what I heard, the demo available for us to play would be a total of four hours long, and while I didn't get to play for that length of time, it certainly seemed like the complete deal to me.

For those who've seen the "First Few Minutes" trailer (obvious SPOILER alert), the game starts off exactly like that, and then I got to experience Columbia itself.  Without going into too much detail, there's obvious styles and set pieces meant to resemble BioShock's introduction here, and I certainly see that as a good thing.  The environments are simply gorgeous, with a great amount of detail and personality for this wonderful world.  Whereas Rapture was populated mostly by pseudo-junkies, Columbia, at least in the early parts, is populated with honest to God people, and you're just in time for a celebration.

The early part of the game is very open, allowing players to walk around and experience parts of the city to soak in the environment.  There are old style videos about that you can watch which give you some history on the city and the political and religious situation there, and you can come across Vox Recordings, which are the series' classic audio logs.  While exploring you'll immediately start finding items to collect in searchable barrels and such, mostly money, and there are vending machines littered around the area where you can buy health and dust.  Dust is the game's version of Eve, which fuels your Vigors (the game's version of Plasmids).

The two Plasmids you get early on are Possession and Devil's Kiss.  Possession is more or less Security Bullseye, allowing you to temporarily control Turrets or machines, and Devil's Kiss is Incinerate.  You can toss it like a fire grenade or charge it up to throw it kind of like a fire proximity mine.  Unlike past games, you actually get an interesting form of Armour here, along with your Health and Dust.  I'm not going to go into how you get your Armour, as it's somewhat story related and I'd like to keep those spoilers to a minimum, but suffice it to say that it works like traditional recharging Shields in other games.  There are also different points where you can increase your max Health, Armour, or Dust to better suite your play style.

Now, as for weapons, I got to play with three.  A pistol and machine gun which operate how you'd expect, and my favourite of all:  the Sky-Hook.  Not only is the Sky-Hook a means of transportation at various spots in the game world (you can look up at specific objects and hit "A" and you'll magnetically snap to them, kind of like Batman in the Arkham games.  You can then look down to different surfaces and press "A" to dismount from your perch), it's also your melee weapon.  To melee an enemy, simply press "Y," and if an enemy is weak enough (they'll have a white skull floating above their head), you can execute them.

I had no idea executions were in the game, and while they only seem to be possible with the Sky-Hook, they're amazing!  There are several different execution animations, from ramming the Sky-Hook into someone's chest and activating it, letting it grind their insides, to stabbing it in their neck and letting it rotate them open.  Each execution was insanely satisfying, so much so that I used it as my primary weapon for some time and even unlocked an Achievement for reaching (I think) 50 melee kills!

The only enemies I fought were Columbia's basic law enforcement and a few enemies that were using Devil's Kiss themselves.  I did get to see a Handyman, but that was before all hell broke loose and I was fighting for my life.

Now, the X-series community event lasted two hours, and after I sat down with BioShock Infinite, the next time I looked at my watch I had thirty minutes left in the show!  I was so engrossed in the game, enjoying myself so much exploring, experiencing the story, and executing enemies, that I completely lost track of time!  Considering how absorbed with the game I was, it's with regret that I need to tell you there was a photography restriction on BioShock Infinite only.  We were not permitted to record any footage or take any pictures of the game or the section of the venue it was set up in, but everything else was fair game.

So, with about thirty minutes left I quickly rushed to the Gears of War: Judgment section, which was on an elevated stage.  I didn't actually sit down and play the game, I watched it being played, and spent some time chatting with a rep from Epic Games.  He (understandably) wouldn't talk about the Campaign as he didn't want to give spoilers away, but we discussed further optimizations to Unreal Engine 3.0, confirmed that the game will ship on one disc, and he chatted to me about OverRun and the class-based system there-in.

In OverRun he explained how C.O.G. players who play as Baird, for example, will be the team's mechanic and Baird can repair fortifications around the Map to keep the Locust at bay.  Unlike Horde Mode you can't build fortifications from scratch, they're already existing and must be maintained.  Cole will play the role of the Heavy Weapons guy, so he can use a Boomshot while others can't, as an example.  Sofia is the team's Medic with a healing grenade of sorts, and Garron is the team's sniper, and he also has some kind of beacon that when deployed will briefly allow the team to see through walls and cover.

Basically it sounds like a mix between Horde Mode and Beast Mode from Gears of War 3, which is pretty cool.  Again, while I didn't get the chance to play the game as I was in a rush at this point, I promised the Epic Games rep that I'd be spending a good bit of time with the upcoming demo this March.

And at that point, I had to book to catch my train, an I regret that I was unable to check out Tomb Raider, so my apologies to Crystal Dynamics.

Now, as with most Xbox Canada events there was some loot to be had, and this year guests got a Tomb Raider t-shirt, a "Murder of Crows" (BioShock Infinite Vigor) keychain, and a BioShock Infinite sticker.  Very cool.

So, thank you very much to Xbox Canada for the invite and for putting on this great event.  Thank you to Irrational Games for letting me play BioShock Infinite as much as I did, and thank you to Epic Games for letting me check out Gears of War: Judgment.  I had a great time, and this spring is looking solid for gaming on the Xbox 360.

Halo 4: Spartan Ops Episode 10 Trailer

The first season of Halo 4: Spartan Ops comes to a close this Monday, and the trailer for the tenth episode is out now.

You can check it out here or below:

Halo: Silentium Grants Additional Content and XP for Halo 4

Well this is certainly a first!  Those who buy the upcoming novel, Halo: Silentium, will also get access to additional content and XP for Halo 4!

For the additional content, my guess is it'll be armour permutations, as it looks like these will be Forerunner symbol codes to enter at Halo Waypoint again.

You can check out the full details via the official press release from our friends at Tor Books below:

Halo Fans Can Unlock Additional Content and Gain XP with the


Tor and 343 Industries to offer bonus material in the latest book in the Halo Forerunner Saga

New York, NY – February 11, 2013 – Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC – the largest publisher of science fiction in the world – and 343 Industries™ are excited to announce a new initiative to coincide with the release of HALO: SILENTIUM by acclaimed science fiction author Greg Bear.

Leading up to the release of HALO: SILENTIUM (March 19, 2013), Tor and 343 Industries will be sending out encrypted communications via bulletins and forums, which will allow Halo fans to unlock additional content. There will also be embedded data in the text of the HALO: SILENTIUM paperback and e-book editions.  

These communications will begin now, and continue on leading up to the March 19th release of HALO: SILENTIUM. 

Tor Books has proudly partnered with Microsoft and 343 Industries to publish every book set in this iconic universe. 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 bestselling novels, comic books, action figures, apparel and more. To date, the Halo franchise has sold more than 50 million copies to date, with franchise sales eclipsing $3 billion over its lifetime.Halo 4” marks the beginning of a new saga in the iconic franchise, as Master Chief returns to confront his own destiny and an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe. Developed by 343 Industries exclusively for Xbox 360, “Halo 4” released on Nov. 6, 2012, earning high marks from industry insiders and fans alike.


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.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Injustice: Gods Among Us Battle Arena

Over the next two months, heroes and villains will class in Injustice: Gods Among Us Battle Arena.  So what is Battle Arena?  Watch this and learn:

Now the first two match ups have already been announced and voted on.  Check this video out here or below:

And since voting is done, the results are in.  See who wins between Batman and Bane here or below:

And who wins between Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn here or below:

The next matches will be posted up and can be voted on this Monday.

Halo 4: Spartan Ops Episode 9 Trailer

The trailer for the 9th episode of Halo 4: Spartan Ops has been released, and you can check it out here or below:

Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Legend of 117

This evening, I completed Halo 4, solo, on Legendary Difficulty.  One thing about playing a a game on its hardest difficulty is that you really get to see its strengths and weaknesses, and usually the later more than the former.

I greatly enjoyed the game's story telling, and it's the most beautiful title in the franchise and one of the best looking Xbox 360 games around.  The soundtrack is very well done, and while many of the new Forerunner weapons aren't innovative, they are quite handy.  I personally really loved Chapters 1, 4, and most of 7, which were engaging, challenging, and thoroughly well designed.

In terms of the cons, I generally found the level design very inconsistent, where several other Chapters had really bad layouts with little cover, making things all the more challenging (but in a frustrating way).  I also found Armour Abilities far less useful than in Halo: Reach, and Sprinting, now a standard feature, seemed less effective as well.  The vehicle implementation in the game is also atrocious, and I seriously can't believe how much 343 Industries fouled them up.

Well, for those of you looking to tackle Legendary Difficulty solo, here's my general tips:

- Really take your time and don't rush.  Pick enemies off from afar slowly and safely if you can, and conserve ammo.  When in doubt, stick to cover.

- I generally found Armour Abilities pretty useless, though Autosentry is handy for a little extra firepower or a temporary distraction.  Since it takes several seconds to deploy though, be careful where you use it so you don't get killed.  Hardlight Shield can also come in handy for a quick reprieve from damage as you try to back into cover to allow your Shields to recharge.

- Against Covenant, the best loadout is a precision weapon with a Plasma Pistol.  The classic noob combo still makes short work of Elites, and your precision weapon of choice will be effective against Grunts and Jackals.  A note on Jackals though:  the double tap (shooting them through the space in their Energy Shield, then popping them in the head when the recoil) doesn't always work properly, and I've generally noticed Halo 4's hit detection is a little off at times.  This means that even when you get that hit on a Jackal's head, there's a chance it won't actually register, allowing them to recover.  Very frustrating.

- Against Prometheans, your best loadout is a Light Rifle and Scattershot.  The Light Rifle is my go-to weapon in the game, packing a nice punch when scoped.  Headshots on Crawlers are one-hit-kills, and rapid firing can really soften up Knights as you close in for a kill with the Scattershot.  If you do this quickly after eliminating other threats in the area, you can actually drop Knights pretty easily.  Up close two to three Scattershot blasts will kill a Knight with full shields.  Of course, if you can get an Incineration Cannon take that over the Scattershot.  One hit kill on any Knight.

- The Sticky Detonator is awesome.  In Chapter 7, always have one handy and use it on Elites or to obliterate clusters of Grunts and Jackals.

- Banshees are garbage to use, and a royal pain to fight.  In most Banshee encounters, at least early on, you'll often find a Rocket Launcher lying around that will help.  Later on, in non-Mantis battles against them, try to avoid as best as you can or use a Banshee yourself to try to Boost past and escape.  That may take several attempts to succeed.

- Many doors in the game close and lock behind you, making it harder to go back and scavenge ammo for preferred weapons and often trapping you out in the open with no cover.  Extremely frustrating.  Whenever you can, stay in a doorway and pick enemies off to maximum effect before moving on.

- The Checkpoint system in Halo 4 is the least active and thus the worst in the franchise.  Sadly, you will repeat far too many battles due to its poor design, and many great moments or successful battle will be rendered void when some lucky enemy drops you a few minutes later.  All I can suggest is to take breathers if you get too frustrated with having to repeat the same thing over while waiting for the game to finally save your progress.

Unlike past titles, I found Halo 4's Legendary had far more trial and error going on, and far less actual strategy used.  This was mainly due to the inconsistent level design and lackluster Checkpoint system, which is a bloody shame.  Overall, I'd have to say I was more frustrated by playing through on Legendary than enjoying myself, in stark contrast to Halo: Reach.

Still, Halo 4 is a good first attempt by 343 Industries, but they do have lots to learn and so much fine tuning to do.  Hopefully their next title will be of more consistent and higher quality.

Halo 4: Spartan Ops Episode 8 Trailer

The eighth episode of Spartan Ops releases on Monday, and the prerequisite cinematic trailer can be viewed here or below:

While I have mixed feelings about Spartan Ops myself, I can't deny how well done the cinematics for them are.

Dead Space 3 Launch and Story Trailers

Dead Space 3 launches this coming Tuesday, and EA has released the game's official launch trailer.  Featuring some slick CG, you can watch it here or below:

Even better though, is the "Story Gameplay Trailer," which you can check out here or below:

You know, you really have to feel sorry for Isaac as he's just been living one very bad day for years.

Update:  Also just saw that for those of you with a Dead Space 2 save file still on your console or PC, you'll unlock the Planet Cracker Plasma Cutter for use in Dead Space 3.  Full details here.

BioShock Infinite New Trailers

Three new trailers have been released for BioShock Infinite, which itself is releasing in just under two months.

The first is entitled "Industrial Revolution," and it showcases what you'll get by pre-ordering the game.  You can check this trailer out here or below:

The second is a historical style video entitled "Columbia: A Modern Day Icarus," and it goes into the history of Columbia itself.  You can watch that here or below:

Finally, we have the "City in the Sky" trailer, which you can enjoy here or below:

Injustice: Gods Among Us New Trailers and Relaunched Web Site

Two new trailers have been released for NetherRealm Studios upcoming fighting game, Injustice: Gods Among Us.

The first is entitled "Versus," and gives us a glimpse into the heroes, villains, and the doubt dividing them.  You can watch that here or below:

The second is called "The Line," and gives us a better glimpse into the game's story and the narrative in store for us.  You can check that out here or below:

Finally, the game's official website has been relaunched and looks very nice, so make sure to go check it out.