Sunday, February 5, 2012

Soul Calibur V Hates n00bs, [redacted] sucks, and Review Links!!!  

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Games: It's been quite a while since I spent any time with the Soul Calibur series… I think the last one that I really got into was probably the original SoulCal on Dreamcast. The series kind of dropped in terms of quality (for my taste, anyway) and it fell off of my radar until today when GameFly sent me Soul Calibur V.

I've been hearing mixed impressions on it, and after a very brief sit-down, it's already back in the shipping envelope and ready to be sent out in the morning.

Oh Voldo... We used to be such good friends.
As someone who hasn't played the game in quite some time, I was shocked to see how unwelcoming and cryptic it all is. Perhaps it all makes more sense to those people who've been playing the series religiously, but I found it pretty overwhelming, and definitely not in a good way.

For starters, I'm surprised to see that comprehensive, user-friendly tutorials are completely absent. I don't know if that's still the norm with fighting games in general, but the so-called "training" mode was worthless and trying to learn the ropes against AI opponents was a complete wash. It's no fun to jump in and out of a pause menu move list and attempt to do maneuvers I've never tried while getting pummeled on ‘easy’ mode. All I wanted was a mode which showed me each move and combo one by one, in a simple, straightforward manner. Why does that not exist?

Complicating things further, why does the menu listing the moves not display the buttons which correspond to my controller? It must be a very simple to make a triangle or square appear on-screen, yet this is another thing which would make it easier to learn the game that's not implemented. Why should I have to translate the inputs in my head?

WTF is up with this costume?!?
And the story mode? What a joke. What happened to the days when each character had their own little bit of backstory and players could look forward to a unique ending sequence? Hell, the original Soul Blade had at least *two* endings per character! It may be a small thing, but it gave mostly-solo players like myself some reason to (at least) try each fighter, if not finish the game with every one. I really don't think it's too much to ask, and while I'm at it, how about some higher-quality cutscenes for the story mode that does exist? SoulCalV’s shabby storyboards between campaign levels aren’t even finished pieces. It comes off as cheap and slapdash.

I'm not an expert on fighting games these days and I don't know what the norm is for the genre at the moment, but Soul Calibur V feels like it was made without a moment’s thought given to people who weren't already familiar with it, and I see little reason to invest any time or energy in a game that doesn't waste any making me feel at home. This type of approach comes off even more poorly in comparison to the most recent Mortal Kombat -- besides having a ton of singleplayer content, it was incredibly easy to get into even for those (like me) who hadn't played an MK in years. In light of MK's quality, devs can’t get away with focusing on tweaking their fighting engines and ignoring all the other aspects that make for a good, rounded experience.

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Games: At the moment, I'm currently playing [redacted!] for review, and it's been an incredibly disappointing experience.

I won't say much about it now, but it's one of those titles that settles into a groove early on, and does nothing to spice it up or change the formula. I'm about twelve hours in (or so) and the gameplay has been me repeating the same sort of tasks over and over and over for that entire time. It's incredibly boring and I think I've reached my limit as to how much I can take.

What could it be?
My guess is that I'm about halfway through the main campaign, although it's hard to say... I've seen other critics on Twitter mention their completion times as being in the 40-hour range, and I just can't see myself putting that much time into something as repetitive and monotonous as this one. If there was some sort of story I could sink my teeth into or even some PVP to spice things up (ala Dark Souls) that would be one thing, but putting myself through another 20 or 30 hours of pure grind?

No thanks.

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Games: If you haven't been to GameCritics in a while and you've got some time, we had a bunch of new content go up recently. You can check out my reviews of American McGee’s Alice (the original one, not the sequel, Madness Returns), XBLA’s new puzzler Quarrel, and my take on the very disappointing Ryder White DLC for 2011's GOTY, Dead Island.

Too bad this scene isn't in either of the Alice games...
We've also got new write-ups for Escape Velocity (iOS) by fab newcomer @JohnVanderhoef, and @RichardNaik shares some words on everyone's favorite bit of nonsense, Rayman Origins.

Click on over!


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PR/NEWS/INFO

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ATLUS today released the full trailer and official website for the upcoming Nintendo DS™ strategy RPG Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, the sequel to the award-winning Devil Survivor.

The full trailer, aptly named due to it being completely packed with exciting footage, stylishly sets up the game's story and main conflict. It also gives a great glimpse into how the hybrid RPG/SRPG mechanics work, better demonstrates the players ability to interact with, level up, and grow closer to their party members, and lastly shows the Demon Auction in action.

Launching alongside the full trailer is the equally aptly named full Devil Survivor 2 official website. Fans can read up on the history of the series and its developers, learn more about the story in Devil Survivor 2, browse character profiles for the game's protagonists, and better appreciate the title's unique mix of strategy RPG tactics and first-person RPG battles. Both the trailer and website arrive with less than a month before the game hits shelves, coming to North America after releasing to critical acclaim and strong sales in Japan.

SMT: Devil Survivor 2 for Nintendo DS is currently scheduled to release on February 28, 2012. For more info, visit the official website at http://www.atlus.com/devilsurvivor2.

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The Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective App is now available on the App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch in North America and Europe. Previously released on Nintendo DS to critical acclaim, the beloved mystery adventure game jumps to iOS. The game features intuitive touch screen controls for easy play and enhanced graphics in a wider viewing area for more immersive puzzle solving and is fully localized in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.

Created by Shu Takumi, the father of the critically acclaimed Ace Attorney series, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective combines his signature style of quirky humor, logic puzzles and an intriguing story wrapped in a unique art style. Players take on the role of Sissel, the ghost of a murder victim who has lost his memory and must solve the mystery of his suspicious demise. Gamers guide his blue-flamed soul through dynamic environments, possessing and manipulating inanimate objects found in the world to solve the captivating puzzles he encounters.

The Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective App is available for free from the App Store on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore. The first two chapters are free with the download of the game. Subsequent chapters will be available in three different packs for $4.99/£2.99/€3.99 each or $9.99/£6.99/€7.99 for all chapters through In-App Purchase.

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The new Max Payne 3 website is live with a ton of never-before-seen content.

The site also features updated original artwork and a chronicle of all Max Payne 3 news, videos, downloads and information released to date. Explore it all at www.rockstargames.com/maxpayne3 and check back often in the weeks and months ahead for a fully-loaded barrage of new videos, screens, game details and much much more as we barrel towards Max Payne 3's release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC this May.

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2011 runaway romantic hit game Delicious - Emily’s True Love now on iPhone and iPad

The PC version of Delicious - Emily’s True Love, designed especially for women, was Zylom’s most successful game in 2011. Game review website Gamezebo gave it five stars and it placed 3rd in their influential ‘Best PC Games of 2011’.

In Delicious - Emily’s True Love, Emily is looking for true love and, as PC sales prove, her story has struck a chord with female game players.

Links Gamezebo: http://www.gamezebo.com/news/2011/12/27/best-pc-games-2011 and http://www.gamezebo.com/games/delicious-emilys-true-love/review

Click here for the free iPhone version: http://itunes.apple.com/app/delicious-emilys-true-love/id492620499

Click here for the free iPad version: http://itunes.apple.com/app/delicious-emilys-true-love-hd/id493505350

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Capcom®, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games today confirmed that Dragon’s Dogma™, its highly anticipated open world action title, will be released for the Xbox 360 ® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system in North America on May 22, 2012 and across Europe on May 25, 2012. Capcom is also pleased to announce that purchasers of Dragon’s Dogma will have the opportunity to be the first to experience a playable demo of Resident Evil® 6, ahead of its release on Nov. 20, 2012.

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Sine Mora to Feature Mechanical Boss Designs by One of the Most Prominent Japanese Anime Creators, Mr. Mahiro Maeda

Sine Mora, the beautiful dieselpunk shmup by Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture, is one of the most visually stunning titles coming to Xbox Live to date. Beyond its thrilling, high-flying gameplay, much of Sine Mora’s greatness is thanks to the intricately designed boss battles derived from the very concept work of Mahiro Maeda, the famous Japanese anime creator. Mr. Maeda’s credits include directing Blue Submarine No. 6, Final Fantasy: Unlimited and The Animatrix (segment: "The Second Renaissance Parts I and II"), as well as designing art for Neon Genesis Evangelion, Magic User’s Club and plenty more.

Internationally, he’s first and foremost known for the animation sequence in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1.

For more information about Sine Mora, please visit the revamped official website: http://sinemoragame.com/, or follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SINE_MORA.

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This March, Sony Online Entertainment's landmark MMO EverQuest will not only become a teenager, it is also going Free-to-Play.

With the move to free-to-play, players will continue to enjoy the EQ experience they know and love, only now they have the power to choose a model that caters to their play style. Through the new free-to-play model, players will have the options of non-recurring vs. recurring subscriptions, Free vs. Silver memberships, item unlockers, and many more. Additionally, all players (both old and new) will be given brand new items via a 'Welcome Pack.'

Full details can be found in EverQuest Producer Thom Terrazas' community letter here: http://eqplayers.station.sony.com/news_article.vm?id=524183&month=012012.


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Submissions Open for IndieCade 2012 Festival of Independent Games

Submissions for IndieCade’s 2012 International Festival of Independent Games are now open at the IndieCade website: http://www.indiecade.com/

IndieCade invites independent game artists and designers from around the world to submit interactive games of all types. Works-in-progress are encouraged.

IndieCade programs are designed to bring visibility to and facilitate the production of new works in the independent game community.

“Our mission is to spotlight the best cutting-edge work and the most innovative game designs -- often thriving at the fringes of the game industry,” Stephanie Barish, CEO, IndieCade explains. “Our goal is to bring public as well as industry attention to exciting, innovative games, created by independent developers.”

Games selected will be spotlighted at the annual IndieCade Festival, Oct. 4 – 7, 2012; featured on IndieCade’s website and promoted via social media. Finalists will be considered for more than 12 categories, with winners honored at a formal awards ceremony during the fall festival.

Game-makers selected as finalists will receive two VIP all-access tickets to IndieCade 2012, including admission to the awards celebration and all VIP receptions and social events.

Any team that submits a game receives a main festival pass; an invitation to participate in IndieXchange, a day long program offeringpractical workshops, networking opportunities and one-on-one meetings with art leaders, publishers and potential funders.

About IndieCade:

IndieCade supports independent game development globally through a series of international events highlighting the rich, diverse, artistic and culturally significant contributions of indie game developers. IndieCade's programs are designed to bring visibility to and facilitate the production of new works within the emerging independent game community.

IndieCade was formed by Creative Media Collaborative, an alliance of industry producers and leaders founded in 2005. www.indiecade.com

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Test Your Tactical Talents with New Jagged Alliance: Back in Action Demo

Do you have what it takes to assemble an A-team, invade an island and oust an evil dictator? If you think you've got what it takes, it's time for you to launch your career as the leader of a Private Military Corporation in the newly released single-player demo for Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, the upcoming tactical combat game for Windows PC from Kalypso Media and bitComposer Games.

The demo includes -

One tutorial mission

One sample level from the final game – “Orta Laboratory”, which takes place about 2/3 of the way through the game and will challenge players to demonstrate their advanced tactical planning skills through the “Plan & Go” system

A pre-assembled team of veteran mercenaries, armed to the teeth and ready for action

Download the demo from the following mirrors –

GamersHell http://www.gamershell.com/download_84934.shtml

Strategy Informer http://www.strategyinformer.com/pc/demos/jaggedalliancebackinaction/demo.html

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Ubisoft announced today that a patch has been released for Rocksmith. The patch is available now.

This patch will include the following:

1. The user is now able to select ‘Songs’ from the Post Play screen

a. In single player, this allows the user to go straight to the song list, rather than Rocksmith Recommends.

b. In multiplayer, this allows them to select a new song without having to re-calibrate their guitars each time

2. A fix has been entered to disqualify any Guitarcade Game score that was received through exploitation of the Pause Button. A warning message appears on the Pause Screen informing the user that pausing the game again will disqualify their score from the leaderboards

3. The amount of lives that the user has in Riff Repeater has been increased to 30 when selected from Event Manager or Song selection

4. The user is now able to invoke the precision tuner before quick-tuning in any song or event, excluding multiplayer

5. The user is now able to select their own “Phrase Mastery” level in the Pause Menu of Riff Repeater activities. Completing the phrase on the set level carries that progress into the full song, unless the new phrase level is LOWER than what has actually been achieved naturally

6. The user can now start new songs at a HIGHER phrase level if they are good enough (Level 7 as opposed to Level 5), and they can also level up high-level phrases with fewer correct repetitions

7. When the user sets Phrase levels to Highest in the Options menu, the game will return their base difficulty level for new songs to their higher phrase level.

8. A fix has been implemented so that the “Satisfaction” Single Note arrangement can be unlocked for Master Mode

9. A fix has been implemented so that the “Do You Remember” Chord arrangement can be unlocked for Master Mode

10. Lag Correction will be a new feature in the Options menu to adjust the difference between sound and how fast notes appear

11. General stability improvements to fix crashes

For more information on Rocksmith, please visit http://www.rocksmith.com/.

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Minecraft World Explorer Now Free For Limited Time

Build, Play, and Explore Minecraft Worlds on the Go

Robots and Pencils is delighted to announce Minecraft World Explorer will be marked down to the low, low price of free for a limited time.

Minecraft World Explorer allows players to import their saved Minecraft games, letting them take their existing worlds on the go with iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. Minecraft World Explorer is the only app that allows players to use full-size Minecraft levels, because size definitely does matter.

For more information, visit http://minecraftworldexplorer.com/

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7th Guest and 11th Hour to Be Added to GOG.com Catalog as Trilobyte Games Joins List of GOG.com Partners

GOG.com, the DRM-free digital distributors filled with dash and derring-do, announced today that they will be adding Trilobyte Games’ best-selling 7th Guest and 11th Hour titles to their catalog in the near future.

The 7th Guest is a gothic thriller adventure set inside an eerie abandoned mansion on the edge of town in 1935. The game presents enigmatic puzzles, large amount of pre-rendered 3D graphics, live action video clips and an original, orchestrated musical score. Bill Gates lauded the game as "the future of multimedia." The 11th Hour, the highly anticipated sequel to The 7th Guest, features similar logic riddles, improved in terms of quality and quantity of the FMV sequences, and an engaging horror story set 60 years later, but in the same rotting mansion.

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