Friday, February 24, 2012

Vita Games!  

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Games: Hey there! Welcome back to Coffeecola.

One of my good friends often says that he is "up to his ass in alligators" when he's got a lot on his plate, and that's a pretty effective way of summing things up for me at the moment. I thought this past week would be a slow one with a lot of down time for me to catch up on projects, but as is often the case, things did not go as planned. Instead, everything’s basically been piling up since Tuesday, and I see a lot of reptiles circling in the water…


Before I dash off to start taking care of business, I did want to post a quick message and say that although I was waffling for a while, I decided to go ahead and pick up a Vita on launch day. It was a little bit of a learning process coming to grips with the new interface and the redone menu system, but it's drop-dead sexy and I'm pretty excited about the possibilities here. We will be having some in-depth impressions about the hardware and such over at GameCritics, so I'll skip the tech specs and all that stuff for now.

I did have a few things to say about some of the games, though…

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Army Corps of Hell - I haven't put very much time into this one, only about an hour or so. I've heard from a number of people that it gets pretty repetitive and I can see that happening in the future, but I'm really enjoying it at the moment.


Basically, it's Pikmin in Hell with a pure combat focus. The player can switch between three types of minions -- soldiers for close-up, spearmen for distance attacks, and mages for… mage-ing. You do a lot of switching between your troops while taking out lesser demons, and then some impressive-looking boss battles pop up occasionally.

Like I said, I haven't put much time into it, but it's working for me so far.

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Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen - A complete piece of crap. This game is almost exactly like the original Tenchu (PS1, 1998) with a very minor cosmetic touch-up and a few sim elements thrown in.


While Tenchu kicked all ass back in the day, games development has come a long, long way since then, and for Bandai-Namco to release a game that could easily pass as a PS1 title is completely unacceptable. The graphics are crude, the lock-on during combat needs tons of work, the camera frequently goes crazy, the touch controls are unpredictable, and there's a ridiculous amount of repetition in the missions and environments. There are some good ideas here but there's just no excusing how poorly it was produced.

I'm going to be trading this one in for credit towards something else ASAP.

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Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack - This one is download-only from the PSN store, and I strongly suggest that every Vita owner take the time to pick it up at their earliest convenience. It's great, and probably the best Vita game I've played so far.


The gameplay is sort of like a mix between a 2D platformer and Katamari Damacy, but the art style is super-clean and colorful, and every level offers something a little different. The developers were clearly trying to take advantage of everything the Vita offers technically, and they've done a superb job of making it all feel sensible and natural. More than any other game I've played, this one feels as though it was specifically made for the Vita itself, and that's a quality I think other developers should emulate.

Total thumbs up. Buy it right now.

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Uncharted: Golden Abyss - I've never been the biggest fan of Nathan Drake, but I needed to pick a third title after taking advantage of the Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale at Amazon, so this one was my "why not?” choice. I chose… Poorly.


I didn't spend very much time with this title before trading it back in, but this isn't the kind of experience that I want to have on a handheld. The touch controls felt very forced and awkward, too. I don't have much good to say about the Uncharted formula in general, so I was glad to see this Vita version go and I don't miss it a bit.

It's Uncharted with touch controls. So… Whatever.

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Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational - This is the same Hot Shots that's been around forever, so if you are a fan of the series, then this is a no-brainer. It looks great, the controls are very smooth, and it's basically the only golf series that I ever pick up.


On the other hand, I have to say that I've really gotten used to so many games offering character customization these days, so to go back to something as limited as Hot Shots is pretty jarring. Not being able to create my own character is fine since the game is structured on unlocking more powerful golfers as the player progresses, but not being able to completely change outfits or accessories doesn't make me very happy. Sorry Clap Hanz, but simple palette swaps don't cut it.

Super-solid golf, but it feels a little behind the times.

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A couple more things before I start chipping away at the to-do list…


Episode 70 of the GameCritics Podcast is now available for download. This is Tim Spaeth’s goodbye episode, and he will no longer be the host of the show from this point onward.

However, I do want to be completely clear in saying that the GameCritics Podcast is not over!

While Tim will certainly be missed, Chi, Mike, Richard and I have been taking a look at several prospective hosts who were interested in taking over the reins, and I believe we will have an announcement to make pretty soon. Stay tuned!

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Finally, my Yakuza 3 review went up a while back, and we've got an interesting piece from @ApricotSushi on Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom up as well.

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(P.S. - Although I haven't laid hands on it yet, I've been hearing some very positive chatter about Binary Domain from Sega… if you're the kind of peron who reads this blog regularly, then you'll probably want to make a note of it somewhere and make sure that it doesn't get lost in all the coverage surrounding Mass Effect 3. As for me, I intend to sit down with it at the earliest possible opportunity. Impressions to come.)


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PR/NEWS/INFO


ATLUS today announced plans to bring Persona 4 Arena, the highly anticipated fighting spinoff of the award-winning Persona series of roleplaying games, to North America this summer for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.

Developed in partnership with genre master Arc System Works, Persona 4 Arena uses gorgeous, hand-drawn, high definition 2D anime-style fighters and colorful, over-the-top special effects to bring to life characters from the acclaimed, highly popular Persona 3 andPersona 4. Backed up by an original, hardcore fighting engine from one of the most respected 2D fighting game developers in the industry, Persona 4 Arena represents the biggest, most noteworthy expansion of the esteemed series to date.

Persona 4 Arena is scheduled to release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 systems this summer. For more information, visit http://www.atlus.com/p4arena.

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BLINK 182 NOW AVAILABLE FOR UBISOFT’S ROCKSMITH

WHAT: Ubisoft announced today that Blink 182 DLC is now available for download for Rocksmith.
Songs included in this pack are “Dammit”, “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things.”
Each song will be available for individual purchase for $2.99 each on the Playstation network. Each song will be available for individual purchase for 240 Microsoft points each on Xbox Live.

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THE SECRET WORLD’ TO LAUNCH JUNE 19, 2012

Independent developer and publisher of online games, Funcom, today announced that the highly anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing game ‘The Secret World’ will launch on June 19th, 2012. Originally slated for an April launch, Funcom has decided to invest more development time into the title in order to apply even more polish before launch.

Feedback from hands-on press events and beta testing has proven very positive, and Funcom intends to spend the additional development time focusing on polish and tweaking to maximize the potential of the game. The beta feedback so far is showing very positive reactions to core game features such as the role-playing systems, combat, missions, dungeons, story and immersion. Among the beta testers surveyed, almost 9 out of 10 say they will play the game at launch.

’The Secret World’ is published by Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA). Those looking to join the ongoing beta test can sign up via the official site at http://www.thesecretworld.com/.

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Sins of a Dark Age Announced

Ironclad Games presents a real-time fantasy strategy experience like no other: Sins of a Dark Age. From the studio that brought forth the genre-blending gem and 2008 PC Game of the Year, Sins of a Solar Empire, comes a new strategy hybrid focused on team-based “Hero and Commander Strategy” gameplay.

In Sins of a Dark Age, players join an online team consisting of one Commander and a small group of Heroes who work together to accomplish a specific scenario goal. Go head-to-head against an enemy team in a short, fast-paced multiplayer match or work cooperatively against the AI in custom scenarios. Earn rewards for yourself and your clan, climb in ranks, and watch and share your most glorious replays. Players can choose from an ever-growing pool of heroes, commanders and factions each of which supports unique capabilities.

Sins of a Dark Age is easy to learn and accommodating to both new and veteran players of any strategy genre and is designed to minimize griefing and other common causes of hostility in the community. The innovative match design means never missing out on a match or a session being ruined by players dropping out: instantly rejoin games or jump into shorthanded battles to save the day and earn bonus rewards for yourself and your clan.

Find out more at http://www.sinsofadarkage.com/ and register to reserve your name and for a chance to win a beta slot!

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MechWarrior Tactics Announced
An all-new MechWarrior® title for PCs will hit North America in 2012 from Roadhouse Interactive and A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games as newly formed publisher Infinite Game Publishing announced MechWarrior Tactics (www.mwtactics.com) today.MechWarrior Tactics, set in the BattleTech™ universe in the year 3025, is the latest evolution of turn-based strategy and blends tactical gameplay, deep collectability, unique online features and is set against visually stunning environments for the supreme MechWarrior battle experience.

MechWarrior Tactics allows players the freedom to collect and purchase vital combat and cosmetic resources to outfit each Mech, assemble a lance of four Mechs, and then go online for epic multiplayer showdowns competing for large payouts and top billing on global leaderboards. Master each Mech chassis and develop endless new configurations in your Mech Bay. Assemble a lance for the ages and keep one step ahead of both your friends and enemies.

More about MechWarrior Tactics can be found at http://www.mwtactics.com/.

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CD Projekt RED has released a brand new teaser trailer offering another look at their hotly-anticipated RPG, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition, coming soon to the Xbox 360 console and PC. The video runs a minute long and features in-game footage of the game’s beautiful environments and intense melee combat. It serves as the perfect primer for the critically-acclaimed series’ console debut. The game launches April 17 worldwide for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and for PC.

To check out and share the teaser trailer for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition, please click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJiMtPzY568

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Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior's Rise (XBLA) - Launch Trailer

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RENOWNED COMPOSER JON HOPKINS PROVIDES SOUNDTRACK TO VESSEL


Independent developer Strange Loop Games, in collaboration withindiePub, today announced that their upcoming liquid physics puzzle game, Vessel, features a full-length soundtrack created by electronic music prodigy Jon Hopkins.

Boasting both Ivor Novello Award and Mercury Music Prize nominations for his score to the sci-fi hit "Monsters" and his album with King Creosote, "Diamond," Hopkins is an internationally renowned artist who has worked with other top artists like Brian Eno, Coldplay and Imogen Heap.

Vessel combines 10 tracks from Hopkins' albums "Opalescent," "Contact Note" and "Insides," with an adaptive music engine that breaks down the tracks into their respective elements, remixing them dynamically to match player's progress through the game.

Vessel will be available on Windows PC March 1 for $14.99 via Steam andStrangeLoopGames.com. Vessel will also be released on Xbox LIVE® Arcade and PlayStation®Network at a later date. For more information, please visit: http://www.strangeloopgames.com/

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Aksys announced today our partnership with Nintendo that will bring The Last Story™ to North America, exclusively for Wii™. Developed by legendary creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, and his studio, MISTWALKER, in conjunction with Nintendo, The Last Story has players taking charge of a band of mercenaries and journeying with them into a sprawling cinematic adventure. The Last Story is scheduled to ship in North America this summer.

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On March 16, MMO landmark EverQuest will be celebrating its 13th birthday in a huge way by officially going free-to-play! Through this brand new membership system (Free, Silver and Gold), players of every type will now be able to play EverQuest in a way that best suits their needs. Former, new and current EQ players will be able to dive into the 18 expansions and countless game updates that have released since its initial launch in 1999.

EverQuest's new free-to-play system will be available to all PC players worldwide, including options for Free, Silver ($5.00 USD) and Gold ($14.99 USD) memberships. A matrix further detailing the three new EQ membership levels is available here:http://everquest.station.sony.com/free/.

For more information about EverQuest, visit: http://everquest.com/everquest.vm.

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ATLUS UNVEILS FULL COLOR, HARDCOVER ART BOOK FOR UPCOMING "GAME OF THRONES" RPG; FREE WITH PRE-ORDERS FOR A LIMITED TIME AT SELECT RETAILERS

ATLUS (Index Digital Media, Inc.), in collaboration with Cyanide Studios, today unveiled a limited pre-order bonus art book for "Game of Thrones™," the upcoming RPG based on the internationally bestselling book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin and the critically acclaimed HBO® television series, Game of Thrones®.

Only available from select retailers while limited supplies last, the "Game of Thrones: Visuals from the RPG" art book stands as one of ATLUS' finest bonuses to date, offering sixty-four full color pages of sketches, renders, photos, and screenshots from the game accompanied by compelling text and commentary from the game's developers. The book will also include rare behind the scenes materials, like a portrait of the development team signed with a special message from author George R. R. Martin himself. The art book--measuring 8.5" wide and 11" tall--is hardbound, meticulously composed, and printed on premium stock, a true labor of love worthy of the series and its fans.

"Game of Thrones" is currently scheduled to release on May 15 for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and PC. "Game of Thrones: Visuals from the RPG" will only be available in limited quantities from Amazon (US and Canada), GameStop, EB Games, and the HBO Shop®. For more information, visit http://gameofthrones-thegame.com/. Expect frequent news updates, content additions, and more between now and the game's release!

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