Monday, May 28, 2012

Dogma, Skylanders, Buffy & Sherlock  


*

Games: Haven't had much free time in front of the consoles lately, but what little time I have had has been going into Dragon’s Dogma.

I finally finished it off earlier this evening (more or less. maybe less.) and the endgame is fairly strange... I didn't get much dramatic buildup before the final encounter, so I was a little surprised when it came. I am happy to report that going toe-to-toe with the Dragon was even more epic than I had hoped for, though. Skyrim’s reptiles look utterly pathetic compared to the leather-winged badasses in Dogma.

Shoot 'im in the eye!
After the Dragon, well... let's just say that some pretty interesting stuff happens that will keep you playing after the Dragon has been turned to dust.

Overall, it's a very unusual title in many ways and I'm going to do my best to reflect that in the review I just started writing. 

Did I like it? Absolutely, but there's no question that certain aspects of it are in dire need of help. It's not going to be a game that clicks with everyone, and players have to overlook a certain amount of roughness and bad decision-making in order to enjoy what's there, but when the game comes together... wow.

Look for my final evaluation coming soon.

*

Games: When not playing Dogma, I was able to get a little more time in with Skylanders in co-op… my 3yo loves messing around with it, and the wife and I have been making progress bit by bit when I’m between reviews.

It's funny to recall the first time I saw it at PAX last year, and I have to admit that I didn't get it at the time. 

To be fair, it was set up at an unimpressive kiosk and there weren't any PR reps around to explain what made it so special, so I had little reason to think it was anything other than a standard kids’ game nestled in between the other crap that Activision was hawking.  

Bash is a powerhouse!
And now? I've been playing it on and off for the last six months, gone through it twice, and I'm only two figures short of a complete collection. Who knew, right?

I'm planning on doing a late-to-the-party review for it fairly soon. Although it's a solid enough dungeon-crawler, it's a fantastic kids/family game, and the amount of work that went into each of the characters is pretty impressive. 

I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel, Giants, coming later this year -- With all the cash I've invested in the franchise, you better believe I want to get some more use out of these figs!

*

Games: If you're on Twitter, then this is probably old news but there are a ton of iOS games that are free/on sale right now. Hop on over to Because We May for a complete list. There's some really great stuff on there for cheap, so don't miss out!

*

Music: If you're a Kirby Krackle fan like I am, then you might be interested to know that they've just released a free single over at Bandcamp. It's a cover of Izrael Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Over The Rainbow”, so check it out.

Also, I have to plug Chairlift’s “Something” album just one more time. I've been listening to it pretty continuously and it really sucks that I've only met one other person who's even heard of this group, let alone this particular album. These guys are good!

*

TV: So a while ago, I had mentioned that the wife and I were watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I never watched it when it was on, so I figured that since the entire series was on Netflix, I’d give it a try. We got hooked immediately, and we watched the first four seasons pretty much back-to-back. 

At that point, we took a break to catch up on some other shows, and we just started watching season five... and then... we stopped.

You came from where, exactly?
I don't know what happened exactly, but the writing in season five has been absolutely terrible, and the introduction of Buffy’s “sister” Dawn was a really hard thing to swallow. Apparently there's an explanation for it later (we only watched the first two episodes in the season) but I have to say that neither one of us is very motivated to keep watching. 

It sucks to have lost all enthusiasm since we are such big fans of the show up until this point, but it's just bad. Bad bad bad.

What's not bad is season two of Sherlock

I think the second cluster of episodes was really solid and didn't have a clunker like the Asian-themed episode was in the first season. This is some great TV, and I highly recommend it if you haven't already jumped aboard.

That season two ending... !
I've gotta say, the quality of the show is a bit galling, though -- it's so clever and tightly-scripted, yet the same person behind Sherlock (Steven Moffatt) is the same guy who ran Doctor Who into the ground with all of the endless Amy Pond/River Song bullshit. It blows my mind that the same person can make one thing so great and make one thing so wretched… What gives?!?

*

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Demystifying Dragon's Dogma  


*

Games: The good people at Capcom were kind enough to send me a review copy of Dragon’s Dogma on 360 and I've been putting some time into it for the last two days.

It was a game I was very curious about since seeing an early demo last year, but there were a lot of questions in my mind about what the final product would be like. After speaking with others who were also looking forward to it, I see that I wasn't alone in wanting more information. Now that I've logged some time with it, I thought it might be helpful to clear up a few things for those of you who are considering picking it up on 5/22.



First, a disclaimer: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW.

Reviews are embargoed until 5/21, and I have every intention of honoring that. Besides, I'm not nearly far enough to even begin to write a review, so this blog post is simply to clear up some of the questions and misinformation that may be out there about the game.

Now, the info.

*

>What is Dragon’s Dogma?

This game is a third-person single-player open-world Western-style RPG on PS3/360. There is a central storyline or "main quest", but there are also tons of sidequests that are optional.

*

>Is it like Dragon Age, Skyrim, Amalur, Dark Souls or a JRPG?

While it's vaguely similar to Skyrim in the sense that it's largely a self-driven experience, it doesn't spend the same amount of time on the lore and minutiae found in that game. Characters don't play the sort of role that they do in a BioWare style adventure, either. Dogma’s focus is on exploring the world and battling monsters with skillful real-time action through a variety of character classes which can be changed at will. Dark Souls is a pretty good comparison -- both are very experiential in nature, and neither spend much time on dialogue/story elements.

For more information on the specific classes, please check out @Kotowari’s excellent breakdown of each job.

*

>Is it like Monster Hunter?

In some ways, yes. As someone who has spent a ton of time with the Monster Hunter series, I can see vague parallels between the job classes in Dogma and choice of weapon in MH. Also, the Pawn companions (see below) are quite similar to the Felynes (MHFU) or Cha-Cha (MHTri), only taken to the next level. As far as combat goes, it doesn't feel very similar to MH to me... it's faster, and the group dynamic gives it its own identity. 

*


*

>What is the world like?

As I said earlier, it's open-world. There are cities that act as refuges, offering blacksmiths, apothecaries, inns, and so forth. Items can be bought, skills can be learned, and Pawns can be managed. Each city also offers several quest-givers as well as quest boards where players can select their own assignments. Once a quest is chosen, players are free to leave the city and wander in any direction in the world. It's safest to stick to the roads, but forests and mountains can be explored as the player desires. Caves and ruins can be found, and monsters, bandits, and other hostiles are around every corner.

*

>What are Pawns?

Pawns are the defining characteristic that Dragon’s Dogma is built on. The player will create one to be their constant companion for the duration of play, but it's also possible to "hire" two more to create a total party of four characters.

The player does not give Pawns orders except for basic things like “Go!” or “Come Here!”. In battle, they make their own decisions and perform their own actions without any input from the player. Their purpose is to not only to offer safety in numbers, but also to balance out the deficiencies of the player. For example, my character is a bow & dagger-using Strider great at distance attacks, but weaker at melee and with low defense. My personal pawn is a strong Warrior class, and I usually hire two Mages for offensive and healing magic.

Something that isn't widely known (or at least, widely understood) is that friends on XBL or PSN can “borrow” and use a copy of each other’s personal Pawns without any limitations on level or hiring price. For instance, a level 1 player can borrow a friend’s level 30 Pawn for high-caliber backup. When doing so, the pawn learns information about quests, gains experience, and gets ranked on a leaderboard for most popular Pawns.

*

>Is there crafting?

Items can be bought at various shops, gained as rewards or found in dungeons, and those items can be improved by finding resources on your adventures. Example – A shirt gives +2 armor. Modify it with two rabbit pelts, and it gives +4.

Also, certain items can be combined to create new ones. Example – Combining a mushroom with some juice will create a strength potion, and so on.

*


*

>Can you have multiple characters/save files?

No, just one character and one save file. PROTIP: manually save OFTEN.

*

>Is it hard?

That's tough to answer since every player is different, but I will say that it's more difficult than the average game, and players are required to use their heads in terms of preparing before quests and managing their tactics on a moment-to-moment basis. Also, I would say that anyone expecting to solo the game without Pawns can pretty much forget that. The game is built on using them as a central mechanic, and having a group of three seems to be the best way to go. Also, there are no selectable difficulty settings. Instead, it seems to be set by region. When entering a new area, a Pawn might give you a warning. If so, then you may be in an area that's a challenge for your current level - consider taking a different quest.

*

Going into any game with the correct expectations is important, so I hope this sheds a little light on Dragon’s Dogma and helps you make an informed choice about whether this sounds right for you!

…And look for my full Dragon’s Dogma review at Gamecritics soon!


*

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No Review For Minecraft 360  


*

Reviews: Looking forward to a Gamecritics review of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition? I'm sorry to disappoint you, but we won't be covering it anytime soon due to the game shipping in an unplayable state. Want more info? 

Here's the scoop.

Actually, that's a pickaxe, not a scoop...

After receiving review code from PR, I loaded it onto my 360 and completed the tutorial. All was well. At this point, I quit the tutorial and started a new world. I was only able to play for a few minutes before I opened my inventory and the game locked up

Specifically, the game would not let me close the inventory window, and my cursor was only able to alternate between two particular slots. No further interface with the game was possible, so I had to shut the entire game down and relaunch it.

After relaunching it, I tried again and got the same result.

I shut down and relaunched again, and I still got the same result.

At this point, I reached out to PR to see if this was a known problem, and if there was a fix. PR referred me to Microsoft tech support, and I got in contact with one of their reps.

I described the issue I was having to the representative. Here's an excerpt from our chat:

*

Stephanie: Hi Brad!  Lets try a few things to see if we can stop that.  You do have the requirements met- HDTV and a HDMI cable, correct?

Brad: No HDMI cable, but I've played a million Xbox/XBLA games before, and I've never had a problem. I’m using component cables.

Stephanie: Ok, I'm just giving you the information from the publisher on playing the game.  


At this point, I was directed to clear the 360’s system cache and delete the marketplace system data. I did so, and after restarting the game, found that this did not solve the problem. I informed the rep that the freezing was still occurring, and here's what she said next:

*


Stephanie: Brad, I did double check and you will need that HDMI cable in order to make the game play properly.  That is causing the freezing.

Brad: How is that possible?

Stephanie: It has to do with a combination of ways the feed from the game is going through the system.  But it does say that particular cable is required for the game... on the website that is.

*

I'm no tech expert, but I've never heard of any game on the 360 having this sort of an issue due to a lack of an HDMI cable. I mentioned it on Twitter, and I was rapidly greeted with several responses from people who were playing with component cables, and even a few who were playing on SD sets with no problem. 

It's pretty clear that this HDMI information is bogus.

A huge bug rears its ugly head.

Soon after, crack researcher and fellow critic @Gelles22 passed along this link to the official Minecraft forums. If you click on that and scroll down to the fifth issue, that's exactly the problem I'm having. A quick scan of the GameFAQs forums reveals that there are several others having the same problem, so I'm clearly not alone.

Obviously the game works for the majority of the million-plus people who've already bought it, but it's completely unplayable for me since something as simple as opening the inventory kills it. With no reliable workaround or fix, there's no way I can review the game. Although I'm sure that it will be patched at some point in the future, who knows when that will be?

As a console reviewer, I'm not interested in games which are works-in-progress, and going to a forum or contacting tech support to find a fix isn't something that should be seen as acceptable. It would be one thing if this version of Minecraft had been released for free, but it's one of the most expensive XBLA releases ever (if not the most expensive) and having it ship with severe problems isn't OK under any circumstance.

I apologize for not being able to review the game at this time.

We may cover it at some point in the future after it's been patched to a workable state, but if you're thinking about a purchase for yourself, be aware that there's a chance that it may not be playable.

Caveat Emptor.

*

Monday, May 14, 2012

WTF, Vita?!? and A Recap Of Last Week.  



*

Stupidity: As an early adopter of an Vita, I was supporting Sony with my wallet and giving them the full benefit of the doubt when I ponied up on day one. I'm well aware of the dangers when you invest in a piece of hardware too early, but the PSP ended up being something that I got quite a bit of mileage out of, and I was confident that Sony would have learned from past mistakes. I mean, how could they not, right?

Yeeeeeeeahhhhhh.

Well, after a great first impression with the unit, it's been sitting unused since two weeks after I opened the box. The lack of games I'm interested in has given me no reason to carry it around or even keep it charged, and I'm quite disappointed in the way Sony has let it lag lately.

I thought I'd have a reason to jump back on the Vita when @Jeremy_LaMont started talking about a new PS Mini that caught his attention, but imagine my surprise when I found out that Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims was only available for PS3 or PSP!

Want to play this on your Vita? SORRY!
I mean, let me get this straight... I realize that backwards compatibility might be an issue (or at least, that's the line that Sony keeps feeding to us when we ask about previously published titles) but what kind of asstacular thinking neglects to ensure that current releases are compatible with the current hardware? 

It's an absurd state of affairs we're in now, and it strikes me as the worst sort of planning, even for a company notorious for not making the smartest business decisions. I guess that serves me right for having a shred of faith and Sony... I'll be sure that won't happen again in the future.

*

Games: Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I realize that it's been a while since the last update. Let's do a recap!

In terms of review material, I just finished Prototype 2 from Radical Entertainment.

Heading down... Just like the MetaScore.
My full writeup has been submitted and should be up in a while. I won’t keep you in suspense -- it pretty much sucked. What made it even worse? I passed up a few other games that I could have done a review on in the hopes that this one would have improved on the original, but no such luck.

It's a real shame since I think the concept is great and the player’s character is quite powerful in relation to the world he's running around in... catharsis via mass destruction is easy to achieve. Unfortunately, that kind of thrill grows stale all too soon, and what's left is an out-of-date open-world game that can't keep pace with the competition.

Fail.

*

Oh, and before I forget, my review for Anomaly: Warzone Earth (XBLA) just went up.

*

My next review will be Minecraft on 360. I've never played the game before, so I'm coming to it completely fresh. I've heard of it, of course, and I generally had an idea of what to expect, but it's certainly something that I wouldn't typically play. As a writer, it's interesting to try and come up with ways to cover a game such as this that doesn't line up with my personal preferences…

*

For fun, I've been spending most of my free time (what little I have, anyway) on the iPhone. A recent discovery is Tower of Fortune, and I've been having a hard time putting it down.

Crazy, but it's golden.
Essentially, it's a micro-scale RPG with a hero trying to climb to the top of a tower to rescue his daughter. However, the entire game revolves around a slot machine mechanic instead of the usual turn-based or action formulas.

It's a little hard to imagine until you see it, but everything in the game requires a spin of the slots, including attacking the enemy, being attacked, earning experience, or earning money. Side trips to the local tavern are used to restore life and earn permanent buffs for the hero, and after beating certain monster types, better swords and equipment are awarded.

The graphic style is just as offbeat, with the entire thing produced to resemble an LCD display of the sort you might see on a Game & Watch unit, or one of those cheapy Tiger handhelds from the 90’s. It's incredibly cute and charming, and although the bizarre mash-up of RPG and slots initially seems like complete insanity, it works. 

I've heard it gets a bit grindy towards the end, but so far it's a big thumbs up to this one.

*

In other iOS news, @TimSpaeth and @Hargrada convinced me to take a chance on Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. I just started last night, but it's essentially an electronic collectible card game very similar to Magic: the Gathering.

Magic-like, but not Magic. 
It's been a while since I played one of these, and I frankly, I wasn't all that jazzed at first. There have been a lot of wannabe CCGs, and I was so deep into Magic for so long that it's hard to wrap my head around any other game. That said, after about an hour with it, it started to click. Now, I think it's a pretty clever hybrid that really takes advantage of the electronic format.

I'm a bit of an art snob when it comes to stuff like this and the illustrations on the cards are pretty low-rent, but the formula of play is different than anything else I've come across. Also, it offers asynchronous multiplayer, and that's something I'm into these days... trying to coordinate schedules with friends is a near-impossibility, so any game that lets me "play" with others without actually having to play with them is great.



***************PR/NEWS/INFO***************


Legend tells of an immensely powerful dragon that appears in the Everfall beneath Gran Soren. Known as the Ur-Dragon, this is the challenge that awaits Dragon’s Dogma owners. Players and their parties of Pawns from around the world can compete collectively online in an asynchronous encounter against the Ur-Dragon via Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network. The effect of each party’s attacks will be combined, but be warned its immense strength means it will take multiple encounters before the Ur-Dragon finally falls. Be the one that deals the fatal blow and receive the maximum reward, but regardless all players can still obtain both common and rare items dropped by the Ur-Dragon when they inflict damage.

Players without an online connection can also take on the Ur-Dragon alone, but the rewards will be different to those received online. All slayers of the Ur-Dragon will have their names and play times recorded in a hall of fame for others to view and aim to beat.

The Ur-Dragon challenge is available when Dragon’s Dogma releases in North America on May 22 and across Europe on May 25.

***

The battle between heroes and villains in DC Universe Online (DCUO) continues as Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) today announced that The Last Laugh, the fourth downloadable content (DLC) pack for DCUO, will be available in June for download on the PC and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system. The Last Laugh will pit players against each other in high-intensity multiplayer brawls, feature an all-new weapon, and introduce new Light-Powered Legends PvP characters.

The Last Laugh will include an all-new weapon, hours of multiplayer gameplay in the Safe Houses and Headquarters, and new Legends PvP characters. DCUO's The Last Laugh DLC pack will be accessible for free for the game's Legendary members and available for purchase for Free and Premium players via the PlayStation®Network in-game Marketplace, and on the PC via the DCUniverseOnline.com website.

DCUO is licensed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment on behalf of DC Entertainment. For more information about DCUO, visit  www.DCUniverseOnline.com.

***

When night falls and the supernatural awake from their slumber, only the bravest souls will trespass unscathed. Independent developer NeocoreGames today announced the entry of a brand-new IP entitled The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, an Action RPG filled with fierce and demonic battles, memorable characters, and a refreshingly unique story that brings the legendary vampire slayer to modern audiences. The upcoming title, loosely based on Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, is being developed for PC and Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft.

Set in a gothic-noir universe resembling a fantastical 19th century Europe filled with monsters, magic, and weird technology, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing will follow the son of the famed hunter, known in-game as Van Helsing, in a tale wrought with wry humor and snappy dialogue. Van Helsing, a larger-than-life hero possessing a dark yet romantic charm, will follow his path to the dismal land of Borgovia where former supernatural foes have enlisted his help to defeat a new scourge terrorizing the ravaged Eastern European city. With an assortment of extraordinary characters, an engrossing storyline, and a beautifully dark and gothic art style, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing looks to bring RPG enthusiasts an anachronistic adventure like no other.

 The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is slated for a late Q4 2012 release.

***

Risen 2 PC Patch notes:

After installing the latest patch, the fighting system will now offer the possibility to block the attacks of medium to large-sized monsters.  In addition, the patch offers a new dodge move that allows the hero to side-step in a fight. The patch also includes several balancing tweaks.

New Features:
- Most monster attacks can be now blocked
- Player has the ability to dodge during combat (activated through pressing the direction keys twice)

Tweaks:
- Improved vegetation rendering
- Improved object draw distance
- Improved terrain rendering

Balancing:
- Maximum amount of automatic saves limited to 10
- Improvements in monster combat AI
- Improvements in character AI if they get attacked from behind
- Simplified cannon sabotage in Puerto Isabella
- Merchant on Sword Coast now also sells rum and grog
- Removed exploit for shooting game
- Mara's health increased
- Stealbeard's hat can't be sold anymore

Bugfixes:
- Fixed issue with flickering trees in far distance on Nvidia graphic cards
- Fixed crash with 7.1 sound system configuration
- Fixed issue with SLI graphic cards
- Fixed rarely occurring crash during climbing
- Fixed issue within return to ship option
- Fixed an error with rain in interiors
- Crew members can't be killed by monsters anymore
- Player will get the cunning potion after crafting
- Fixed issues with skill teachers
- Fixed several exploits 

***

Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax® Media company, today announced that Dishonored, the supernatural assassin action game under development at Arkane® Studios, will be available in  North America on October 9, 2012 and throughout Europe on October 12, 2012.  Developed under the direction of co-creative directors Raphael Colantonio and Harvey Smith, Dishonored is slated for release on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and Games for Windows.

Dishonored is set in Dunwall, an industrial whaling city where steampunk- inspired technology and otherworldly forces coexist in the shadows. You are Corvo, the once-trusted bodyguard of the beloved Empress who has been murdered. Framed for the crime, you become an infamous assassin, known by the disturbing mask that has become your calling card. In a time of uncertainty, when the city is besieged by plague and ruled by a corrupt government armed with frightening technologies, dark forces bestow supernatural abilities upon you – but at what cost? The truth behind your betrayal is as murky as the waters surrounding the city, and the life you once had is gone forever.

Creatively eliminate your enemies with Dishonored’s flexible combat system as you combine supernatural abilities with weapons and gadgets at your disposal. Pursue your targets under the cover of darkness or boldly attack them head on with weapons drawn. The outcome of each mission plays out based on the choices you make. Dishonored has not yet been rated by the ESRB. For more information on Dishonored visit www.Dishonored.com.

***

Rising Star Games, Inc. today released the first in a series of tutorial videos for its upcoming shmup (shoot 'em up) arcade game Akai Katana. The first tutorial, "Orientation," teaches basic strategy and tactics inAkai Katana, highlighting the game's weapons and Phantom mode.

Combining the spirit of adventure offered through a true side-scrolling experience with the adrenaline-filled gameplay of today's bullet hell genre, players in Akai Katana are tasked with restoring peace and order to the world while taking on a tyrannical empire built of bloodshed.

Akai Katana is developed by CAVE Interactive and published by Rising Star Games, and will launch in North America this May 15 on Xbox 360. The first DLC Theme pack is available now on Xbox Live for 240 Microsoft Points.

To view the "Orientation" video, please visit  

For more information on Akai Katana and its pre-order details, visit http://www.akaikatana.com/.

***

Today, Ubisoft® announced a deal with Marvel Entertainment, LLC to develop a video game based on the popular Avengers characters and other heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe.
Developed by Ubisoft Quebec, Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth’s interactive environments are inspired by iconic Marvel comic artwork and the Secret Invasion storyline. This game will be released this fall for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft with Kinect™ for Xbox360 and Nintendo’s Wii™ U™ system.

Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth features 20 different characters, including Avengers such as Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor, as well as other fan-favorite Super Heroes and Super Villains from the Marvel Universe.

For more information on Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth, please visit: www.AvengersBattleForEarth.com

***

Kalypso Media is pleased to unveil DARK, an exciting third-person stealth-action game for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and for Windows PC. DARK -- developed by RealmForge, creators of the award-winning Dungeons -- puts players in the role of a vampire out to discover the secrets of the mysterious global GeoForge Corporation. By making the most of powerful vampire skills, stealth and lethal combat abilities, players will engage and destroy their enemies, while moving silently through a stylized futuristic cityscape. The treacherous techno universe of DARK is rendered in gorgeous cel-shaded graphics with gameplay that tests the players’ ability to master both stealth and combat. DARK is slated for a global release in early 2013.

Features:
Stealth and action combine as players walk the world in darkness and silence, attacking their unsuspecting foes with supernatural fury
Use powerful vampire abilities and hard-hitting melee attacks to defeat dangerous enemies -- turn into a puff of smoke and disappear, or close with your foes in an instant!
Powerful and intelligently controlled AI enemies mix the fantastic with the real-world. Battle police and elite special forces along with ghouls and other vampires
Castles, museums, skyscrapers, nightclubs and more are rendered in stunning 3D cel-shaded graphics, beckoning the player to explore -- but beware, powerful enemies hide everywhere
RPG element mix with a compelling story – players will build up their skills through successful evasion and combat, while advancing the story through conversations with NPCs

***

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Game Of The Year...2011?  


*

GOTY: So, a funny thing happened the other day...

If you read this blog with any regularity, you probably remember that I was a huge fan of Dead Island last year. So huge, in fact, that I was one of the critics at my site who chose it as our overall game of 2011.  If you’ve got time, you can hear the actual discussion as we announce the win on the podcast right here.

We got more than a few funny looks from other critics when we made the announcement, but I still feel good about the choice in comparison to what the competition was, and I definitely think it was the right direction to go.


Here's a refresher as to why we selected it, quoted verbatim from my 2011 rundown:

Intense, visceral combat. An open world large enough to explore, yet one that never feels empty or pointless. Fantastic atmosphere and beautiful environments. "Realistic" quests that one could imagine doing if zombies were real. Dead Island offers all of this, and more. Although dozens of games cram the undead into various modes and one-offs where they make for good target practice, very few titles attempt to create a zombie apocalypse in the way often written about in books or shown in movies -- scavenging environments for necessities, establishing safe houses, finding medicine, and so on. Although it's not the perfect simulation I think zombie fans like myself hope for, it comes closer than any other game before it and does it in fine style. For me, Dead Island was the most enjoyable, most unforgettable experience in 2011, and one of the very few that I could not put down until I'd seen and done every single thing. Well done, Techland.

Anyway, the publisher of Dead Island just announced that there would be a Game of the Year version released, and I started getting winks and nudges from people via tweets and e-mails. I guess I didn't have my coffee that morning since I didn't see the connection right away, but apparently the game was only able to put out this version because WE awarded it our GOTY.

You know what? I think that's pretty cool.


So, to anyone out there who thinks the Dead Island re-release is some kind of a mistake, a joke, or deception on the part of the publishers, it's not -- I have no problem saying that my personal choice and the choice of Gamecritics.com for 2011 was Dead Island. Maybe you agree, maybe you don't, but as far as I'm concerned, the game earned its praise and I had a blast with it. 

...And for those of you who still haven't tried it yet? Good news! I’ll be doing a giveaway in the very near future, so stay tuned for a chance to win a brand-spanking-new copy of the Gamecritics-inspired GOTY version.

Suck it, backwards-flying dragons.

*

Links: Is your clicking finger itchy? Here are some links to give that poor digit some relief while I take the easy way out and get myself into bed a little earlier tonight…


It's been up at the site for while, but here’s my second opinion of Binary Domain. It may look like a generic sci-fi shooter on the surface, but it's pretty fantastic... don't miss out on this sleeper.

I also co-reviewed Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City with @GC_Danny. We figured it was a multiplayer game, so doing a multi-writer review seemed sort of appropriate.

*

Over here is a link to Ctrl-Alt-Defeat, a super cool game-oriented magazine with all sorts of interesting articles and original photos and art. 

not an original photo or art.
This month? The rock and roll issue. I contributed a short story about Lord Raptor from DarkStalkers, but there's plenty of other good reading to be had there as well.

*

I've mentioned her before, but I really dig the writing of the Indie Gamer Chick… as someone who's not afraid to give criticism when it's warranted, I certainly appreciate when other people feel the same way. And her? She feels the same way. 

Also, she makes me laugh.

*

Last year at PAX, there was a small booth with a multiplayer sort of thing featuring crazy-looking origami birds. The visual style grabbed me right off, but it was clear that the game was far from being in any kind of final state. 



The developers have clearly been working on it, and it looks like it's come quite a way. Check out this video for Chasing Aurora -- it's hard not to get swept up in it.


Thanks for reading! And now, ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz........




********************PR/NEWS/INFO********************



ATLUS, a brand of Index Digital Media, Inc., today revealed plans to publish Persona 4 Golden, a remastered version of the award-winning RPGShin Megami Tensei®: Persona®4, in North America this fall exclusively for PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita) handheld entertainment system.

With an overall Metacritic score of 90 and a multitude of "Editor's Choice" and "Best Of" awards, Persona 4 stands as one of the finest games ever made, delivering many dozens of hours of enthralling storytelling, immensely satisfying combat, intricate party management, and addicting demon collection and customization.  Its brilliantly realized story--which features a memorable cast of personalities with whom the player can forge and strengthen pivotal bonds called "social links"--combined with the game's breathtaking visual and aural design, are part of an overall package that is on almost every genre fan's list of all-time favorites.

Now, following in the footsteps of Shin Megami Tensei®: Persona®3 Portable™, the second highest rated PSP system game of all time (gamerankings.com), Persona 4 Golden for PlayStation Vita offers an enhanced and expanded portable version of the highly acclaimed original.  Visuals have been beautifully remastered to take advantage of the PS Vita's crisp, vibrant 5" OLED display.  The game's aural presentation is better than ever, with 1.5 times the voiced dialogue of the original release.  A new online dungeon rescue feature allows users to call on other players for assistance when they are about to die in the TV world.  Persona 4 Golden is also overflowing with new content: new Personas to collect; new story events along with an all-new character; stunning new anime cutscenes, which include a new opening animation with a new song from master composer Shoji Meguro; a host of fan suggested tweaks and changes, and much more!  Persona 4 Golden is far more than just a handheld version of an all-time classic: it's the best way to experience it yet!

Persona 4 Golden is scheduled to release for PlayStation Vita this fall.  For more information, visit http://www.atlus.com/p4g.

***

Amplitude Studios announces the release today on Steam of two different ENDLESS SPACE pre-order packages, in which players will get instant access to the Alpha version of the game and all upcoming versions including the final game. The Admiral Edition will include community bonuses and the digital soundtrack of the game, while the “Support the Game Dev” Emperor Special Edition will include all Admiral Edition content and additional in-game content. Both editions will be available at a 25% discount until May 31st 2012.
Endless Space - Explore the Alpha Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Wr19Ln9sO4

***

New Australian developer Total ArKade Software (TAKS) is proud to announce AbraWordabra is now available on iOS, Android and Bada formats!

An original game featuring clever word puzzles mixed with unique, addictive arcade action, it follows the story of Marvo the sad and bad Magician who has cast a spell and transformed all around him into Blocks! 

AbraWordabra is a whole new experience in word gaming and introduces some of the funkiest, cutest and most downright fun characters seen in a video game!
Featuring Tufty and Lufty, Shrieking Shirley and 'Baaaad' Baby through to Fanny, crazy guy Tongue and The Don, it’s now up to you to save them.

 AWD is a Universal app for iPhone and iPad and is available on Android and Bada priced at 99 cents. A Lite version is also available.
For all the latest news and info, visit the official website at www.abrawordabra.com

***

SEGA® of America Inc. and SEGA® Europe Ltd. today announced today announced the release of the SEGA Mega Drive Classics Collection 5 for PC digital download. Turn back the clock and grab these fantastic retro hits today from the SEGA Store.

The SEGA Mega Drive Classics Collection 5 gives players the chance to experience iconic moments from the golden era of the Mega Drive with the added help of full in-game save features. Titles in the collection include:
Golden Axe™ III
Beyond Oasis / The Story of Thor™
Dynamite Headdy™
Phantasy Star™ II
Phantasy Star III™: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium™
Streets of Rage™3
The Revenge of Shinobi™
Vectorman™ 2
Wonder Boy™ in Monster World™”
All ten games are available for individual purchase at $2.99/£1.99 /€2.49 /AUD$3.49 each. Players can also grab the entire collection for the true Mega Drive experience for $7.50/ £5.50 /€7.50 /AUD$9.99.

For more information on the SEGA Mega Drive Classics Collection series, as well as SEGA's other titles, please visit www.sega.com/games. For press assets please visit www.sega-press.com. For more news, follow SEGA on Twitter @SEGA or “like” us on Facebook.

***
Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax® Media company, today announced The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMO in development at ZeniMax Online Studios. The Elder Scrolls Online will be the first Elder Scrolls game to allow gamers to explore the legendary Elder Scrolls world with others.

The Elder Scrolls Online is being developed for PC and Mac under the leadership of industry veteran Matt Firor, who has spent the last two decades working in online game development. Details about the game are revealed in an exclusive cover story in GameInformer®’s June issue, which ships to subscribers and newsstands this month. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim® is the most recent title set in the award-winning Elder Scrolls universe. Skyrim, developed by Bethesda Game Studios, was released in November 2011 and enjoyed worldwide critical and commercial success. Skyrim earned hundreds of ‘Game of the Year’ awards, including top honors at the 2012 Game Developers Choice Awards, the 15th Annual 2012 Interactive Achievement Awards held at the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit, and at the 2011 Video Game Awards. Internationally, Skyrimshipped over 10 million units within the first month of its release, was the second highest grossing title in the industry last year, and is the fastest selling title in Steam’s history.
  
The Elder Scrolls Online has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

***

GameStop (NYSE: GME) is rewarding loyal Call of Duty fans with the opportunity to get in early and get more with four unique waves of pre-order bonuses for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, one of the most anticipated games of the year coming Nov. 13. Customers that join the first wave and pre-order at GameStop beginning today will receive an exclusive, limited edition two-sided poster. The poster features art from Treyarch’s massive new blockbuster that pushes the boundaries of the storied franchise to new heights where THE FUTURE IS BLACK™. Posters will be distributed while supplies last.

First wave pre-order customers are invited to show off their exclusive bonus by snapping a shot with the limited edition poster and sharing it on Twitter or Facebook using #GSFIRSTWAVE. Beginning May 21, 2012, GameStop will showcase the most creative pictures each week for its 4.2 million-fan Facebook community.

In addition to the poster, GameStop® PowerUp Rewards™ members that join the first wave and pre-order by June 30, 2012 will also receive an instantly redeemable Prestige Token for Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3, the record-breaking title that continues to be played by millions. This highly sought-after currency within the Call of Duty multiplayer universe can be spent in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Prestige shop for highly valuable items, including Double XP.

Customers that get in early and pre-order during the first wave will automatically receive bonuses revealed in waves two, three and four. Visit www.GameStop.com/BlackOps2 for information on upcoming waves and complete details on how to get in early to get more.

Set in the year 2025, Call of Duty: Black Ops II propels players into global conflict featuring advanced weaponry, robotics and drone warfare in a new Cold War scenario whose seeds are being sown in today’s headlines.  Featuring new graphics technology that drives stunning cinematic action, Treyarch’s new creation delivers an epic single-player campaign including branching storylines and non-linear missions, a re-imagined multiplayer and the most diverse and biggest zombies experience ever. Call of Duty: Black Ops II is in development by Treyarch and will be published by Activision Publishing, Inc.  The title has not yet been rated.  For more information, visit www.callofduty.com/blackops2 or follow Call of Duty: Black Ops II on www.facebook.com/codblackops

***

TopWare Interactive announced today the upcoming release of "Enclave - Shadows of Twilight" for the Nintendos Wii™ on May 22nd 2012. In cooperation with development team Dojodoo Enterprise, TopWare will be bringing the franchise to consoles for the first time.

"Enclave - Shadows of Twilight" masterfully weaves the features of the award winning 2003 PC release with the unique gameplay possibilities posed by the Nintendo Wii™ console.  The result is a modernization of the fan favorite which elevates the fantasy RPG experience of the Enclave series to heights never before reached!

Innovative adaptations to the classic gameplay elements provide an entirely new experience, effectively expanding the level of immersion in all directions. Players now charge into battle brandishing the Wii™ Remote, laying waste to the hordes of enemies that stand in the hero’s way, all the while upgrading their character’s equipment by looting the corpses the throngs of fallen enemies left in their wake. 

The riveting combat system is complimented by numerous artfully-crafted cut-scenes, vibrantly narrating the nuances of the hero’s epic journey as players explore the bountiful environments of the expansive fantasy world. For more information about the game please visit: www.enclave-game.com

***

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, the new investigation game for Xbox® 360, PlayStation® 3 and PC developed by Frogwares, unveils its release date today. The new investigation of Sherlock Holmes will debut in September, on consoles and PC. To celebrate this announcement, discover five brand new screenshots, taken directly from the crime scenes that await you in September.

Even though London’s police are actively searching for him, Sherlock must complete the investigation he began. Watson witnesses, powerless, the suspicious behavior of the famous detective… and while he agrees to help his partner for the time being, this certainly won’t last if Holmes refuses to explain his incriminating actions. The five new screenshots reveal more of the detailed locations where Sherlock and Watson begin their investigation this September.

You are Sherlock Holmes, and this is your investigation. Unfold an incredible conspiracy on PS3, Xbox 360® and PC in September 2012!

***

On this Cinco de Mayo, Twisted Pixel is launching the fourth in a series of themed challenges for Ms. Splosion Man.  The challenge shows up in the opening menu of the main game, but only for the duration of the contest, which runs May 5th - 20th, 2012. Twisted Pixel has a special prize in store for the top 5 leaders in this challenge.

In “Splokour”, Ms. Splosion Man does her take on the physical discipline phenome: parkour.  Gracefully guide the femme fatale through the whole level without ever once touching the ground.  For every time she hits the pavement the game will add 10 seconds to your final time, so try your best to stay airborne.  The five (5) fastest times on the leaderboard by 11pm EST on May 20th will win a Ms. Splosion Man plushie AND a copy of Twisted Pixel’s next Xbox title, which will be announced at this year’s E3 conference on June 5th!

Everyone can play for a chance to win in this challenge, so get sploding.  Be sure to get the info on what Twisted Pixel has coming up by checking in with us at E3.  See you in June, and good luck on the challenge!

Learn more at www.TwistedPixelGames.com and Twitter@twisted_pixel.

***

XSEED Games, an independent-minded publisher, today announced it will publish the highly original music strategy game, Orgarhythm, for the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system later this year in North America. Developed in Japan by ACQUIRE in conjunction with Neilo, the new studio founded by Takashi Hirai who is best known for his past work on Space Channel 5 and Rez, the title blends music and real-time strategy elements to create a new experience specifically designed for touch-enabled mobile play. Playing as the God of Light, players will battle the forces of the God of Darkness by deploying elemental soldiers for rhythm-based attacks synced to a hypnotic mix of rock, club and tribal music. In the game, rhythm is a weapon and different attacks occur on different beats, making the game’s catchy soundtrack dynamic to user input.

Orgarhythm is expected to ship later this year, exclusively on the PS Vita system. With music being such a key component, aspiring musicians are encouraged to submit their songs for consideration to be selected into future DLC packs, more details of which will be announced at a later time. The game is not yet rated by the ESRB.

***

XSEED Games, an independent-minded publisher, today  announced that it will release the popular action RPG title Ragnarok Odyssey later this year on PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system in North America. Developed by Grandia and Lunar series veteran studio Game Arts and published by GungHo Online Entertainment in Japan, Ragnarok Odyssey is a new title set in the familiar Ragnarok Online universe. The game was released in Japan in early February to both retail and critical success as it garnered strong sales while earning a Famitsu Gold Award. The publishing agreement with GungHo Online Entertainment gives XSEED Games exclusive publishing rights for Ragnarok Odyssey in North America.

An action-heavy RPG set in the lush landscape of the familiar Ragnarok Online universe, Ragnarok Odyssey is a fast-paced game with a heavy emphasis on melee combat. The game is set in a world where humans and giants are pitted against each other in battle following the death of the world’s ancient gods. Based on Norse Mythology, the world of Ragnarok Odyssey will begin to take form as players advance through the story, with new areas opening up as their journey goes on.

In Ragnarok Odyssey, players will embark on a campaign to take down monsters and giants of massive scale, and characters can chain together massive combo attacks both on the ground and in the air thanks to the game’s extremely versatile combat system. Massive enemies can literally be smacked across the screen, and players can even up their speed and agility at the expense of HP for particularly challenging battles. On top of this, the game promotes cooperative gameplay, supporting up to four players for ad-hoc and online cooperative gameplay.

Ragnarok Odyssey was developed by Game Arts and GungHo Online Entertainment, exclusively for PS Vita system. The game will be published by XSEED Games in North America in 2012.
  
***

ATLUS ONLINE, a division of ATLUS dedicated to massively online gaming and entertainment, announced a new partnership with ZQGame to launch the free-to-play real-time strategy game Shadowland Online via the ATLUS ONLINE Portal. To celebrate the launch, Shadowland is offering exclusive items for ATLUS ONLINE users and hosting special events during the launch period and throughout the month of May.

Shadowland Online is a social strategy game that allows gamers to manage and expand their empires to discover new environments, regions, characters, and quests. Players will engage in a sophisticated mix of real-time strategy and realistic simulation. Special social features will let players build alliances and partake in massive team battles, taking the experience far beyond traditional single player fare.

New Shadowland players who register via ATLUS ONLINE during launch (from May 3rd to June 3rd) will be offered an exclusive ATLUS ONLINE Beginners Pack ($15), providing new users with 3,000 gold coins, 250 diamond, and 150 battle achievements! In addition, ATLUS ONLINE will host "Double Battle Achievement" Weekends (May 11-13, May 18 -20) for all Shadowlandplayers.

To register, play, and find more info about Shadowland Online, visit the ATLUS ONLINE game site at http://shadowland.atlusonline.com.

***

Acclaimed localization studio and video game publisher Aksys Games today announced that Record of Agarest War 2 will be coming to North America for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system accompanied by an extremely unique Limited Edition version! Featuring an inflatable doll, compressed hand towel, and an unforgettable artbook, the Record of Agarest War 2 Limited Edition is definitely a unique set of items you’ll want to get your hands all over. Developed by Idea Factory, Compile Heart and RED Entertainment, and localized by Aksys Games, Record of Agarest War 2 is a new installment of the Record of Agarest War series with all-new strategy RPG gameplay, HD graphics, and bonus mini-games.

LE Contents:

Inflatable Felenne Doll: An adorable inflatable doll that will make a nice addition to any location that you can feasibly place it.
Compressed 8 x 12” Hand Towel: Conveniently compressed into a heart shape, this towel is the ideal object of your desire for when you need a small object that expands into a full hand towel.
Collectible Artbook: Titled “Heroic Trials from the Lands of Agarest”, this artbook is a humdrum addition to the many boring books you’ve read recently. Or so we would like others to think…

Curious to see what’s behind the mosaic, the expanded form of the towel, or the content within the artbook? The nitty gritty details will come soon, so stay tuned for more!

Game Features:

Revamped Battle System: Unlike the first two games of the series, Agarest 2 battles are fought with an engaging active grid-based battle system.
HD graphics: Enjoy your favorite characters, environments and CGs in high-definition!
Mini-games: Engage in PlayStation®Move compatible Bathtub, Shiatsu, and Massage mini-games.
New Agarest Universe: Roam freely in the newly designed world of Agarest

Record of Agarest War 2 has been rated ‘T’ for Teen by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). More information aboutRecord of Agarest 2 can be found at www.agarest2.com.

***

Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced the arrival of the free Portal 2 update titled "Perpetual Testing Initiative."

Available now for PC and Mac, The "Perpetual Testing Initiative" allows players to easily create, share, and play Portal 2 puzzles. The Initiative comes with a simplified Puzzle Maker that allows that creation of mind-bending puzzles without ever leaving the game.

The Puzzle Maker can directly publish maps to the Steam Workshop where users can browse, vote on, and select to play them. Selected puzzles will automatically be downloaded and installed inside Portal 2.

Portal 2 holds a Metacritic score of 95% and has been awarded numerous Game of Year awards. It features expansive single and cooperative multiplayer game modes.

For more information on Portal 2 and its downloadable content, please visit http://www.thinkwithportals.com.

***

iOS gamers will be to join the blood-soaked fun in the new vampire MMO Dark Legends fromSpacetime Studios, the developer of Pocket Legends and Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles.  The title is now available in theApp Store, already has more than half a million active users.
Set in a gritty modern-day urban environment in which humans are aware of vampires’ existence, players assume the role of a recently sired vampire who must battle to survive in a world which fears and hates their kind. In the struggle, players must face gangs of well-armed humans, hordes of the undead, packs of werewolves, covens of warlocks and legions of demons. 
   
Dark Legends is the third title in the highly popular Legends franchise of mobile and desktop games. The first two titles, Pocket Legends and Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles, are the world’s largest mobile MMOs with more than seven million downloads. 
The title is Powered by SpacetimeSM which will allow Android, iOS and Windows users to play together globally. The technology supports game play over Wi-Fi, Edge, 3G and 4G networks.

Dark Legends is free to download and play at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dark-legends-3d-mmo/id475249795?mt=8. The game features optional microtransactions and virtual currency that enhance the play experience with vanity items, health packs and premium revives. 
For more details visit http://www.darklegends.com.

***

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Burning The Witcher  


*

Reviews:  Over the last few days, there's been a lot of heat directed at Bobby Hunter, the reviewer who covered Witcher 2 for Gamer Limit. If you haven't already read his piece, you can check it out right here.

Full disclosure, I've only played about six hours of Witcher 2. Personally, it wasn't ringing my bell and I didn't feel compelled to play more. I read Bobby’s piece since it was the lowest-scored at MetaCritic (I do this for most games I play) and although I didn't finish the game, I found myself agreeing with many of the points he raises.

(I also largely agreed with my fellow critic @RichardNaik in his review of the PC version here.)


In any event, the reason I bring this up is not because I agree with the criticisms, but to express a little surprise at how many people in the review sphere seemed eager to take Mr. Hunter to task for any number of reasons; everything ranging from his low score bringing down the Metacritic average and potentially causing a loss of income to the developer, to people who felt that the score was too low despite the site not posting a rubric on their scoring policy. I'm not even going to bring up what was said in the comments posted directly to the review itself.

Even more strangely than those issues, I saw several people complaining that this review had harshly graded The Witcher for not being a hack-and-slash -- in fact, Mr. Hunter never states such, only that he says:

"Those coming into the game looking for a simple hack n’ slash action RPG will be sorely disappointed.

I don't quite understand how this one sentence could be misinterpreted and extrapolated into the idea that the reviewer docked points for the game not being in a certain genre, but the people who were lighting torches over it should douse them and re-read what he actually said.


I don't know Mr. Hunter, I've never spoken to him, and I have no stake in supporting or defending either his work or Witcher 2, but after seeing the fallout from this review, it seems like we've still got a long way to go...

First of all, the score is just an arbitrary number. Really, that's all it is. There's no standard scale that anyone adheres to unless you want to look towards the "eight is average" overinflation that currently plagues many reviews. So he gave it a 4.5… And what? What ”should” it be, and why do we care?

Also, the idea that reviewers should be somehow responsible for the compensation towards developers is absolutely ludicrous. The only responsibility reviewers have is to be honest and to explain their impressions. Any reviewer who takes on the burden of inflating scores so that developers will earn bonuses in accordance with cockamamie publisher metrics needs to stop writing reviews immediately.

Finally, I'd like to applaud Mr. Hunter for being brave enough to go against the current wave of love that Witcher 2 is receiving. To be clear, I'm not saying that the game doesn't deserve it. I haven't seen enough of the game to know, and I don't really have an opinion other than the fact that the first six hours didn’t grab me. No, what I'm applauding is that someone decided to express their opinion and give criticism of the current favorite son of critics and players alike. It's a hard thing to take an unpopular stand, but if you ask me, I think that review sphere could use more of it.


As someone who's been playing games for thirty years and writing about them for twelve, I see the same cycle over and over again: a new, hot game comes out. Initial scores are through the roof and critics fall all over themselves to lavish praise. Months (or even weeks) later, lower scores start to trickle in and many of the initial supporters start saying things like “it was good, BUT…” or “Eh, it really wasn’t all that…

I think that if more writers resisted the urge to get caught up in New Game Hype  and evaluated titles without fear of repercussions, without fear of lowering the MetaScore, or without fear of being the odd man/woman out, we'd see a much wider range of ratings and viewpoints that more accurately represents the array of opinions that I'm sure are out there. I can only see that as a very healthy thing.

Don't get me wrong , I'm not trying to paint all games writers with one broad brush here. There are certainly people out there fighting the good fight, and there are some writers who I greatly respect for taking the work quite seriously. Without a doubt.

That said, the response from many to this review was still a little surprising, and it just reinforced to me that gamers (and especially reviewers!) have to be okay with the dissenters just as we are with the cheerleaders. There's a world of difference between a review that you disagree with because it's factually wrong or does not support the ideas it presents, and one that you disagree with because you like the game more or less than the author did.  If we can’t accept that there might be some people out there who have a different, equally-valid opinion, then what hope do reviews have of ever being worth a damn?


************************PR/NEWS/INFO**********************


Fable Heroes Live Release Day Event Wednesday – Hosted by Katers17

Microsoft Studios and Xbox LIVE are continuing their Arcade NEXT All-Stars live streaming event series this Wednesday at 5pm PST on Twitch.TV, when popular YouTuber Katers17 plays Fable Heroes, the hack-and-slash adventure game that delivers a fresh spin on the established Fable franchise.  Katers, along with several other special guests, will play and give insight into the game, as well as give live viewers the opportunity to interact and enter for a chance to win Arcade NEXT prizes.  To live stream the event Wednesday, visithttp://www.twitch.tv/xboxlivearcade , and to view the first gameplay clips from Fable Heroes, visit here: http://youtu.be/V99VAV9l09E 

***

 ATLUS ONLINE CELEBRATES RELAUNCH OF 
SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IMAGINE, A F2P MMORPG SET IN THE ACCLAIMED SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI UNIVERSE, WITH A WEALTH OF FREE CONTENT, PRIZES, AND EVENTS!

APRIL 30, 2012 -- ATLUS ONLINE, a division of ATLUS dedicated to massively online gaming and entertainment, today announced that Shin Megami Tensei® Imagine™, the popular free-to-play MMORPG set in the company's critically-acclaimedSMT universe, is now available via the ATLUS ONLINE Portal. To celebrate the official SMT Imagine launch, ATLUS ONLINE is offering special gifts for existing and new users and a chance for all players to win prizes.

Existing and new SMT Imagine users will receive items to assist in their adventures during the launch period:
Welcome Migration Celebration (Launch - 5/16): Existing SMT Imagine users willreceive the Item Depository Pass, which lets players to rent an Item Depository, allowing unlimited use of the Depository for 30 days. The ticket can also be used to extend the end date of an Item Depository already in use.
Launch Event Party (4/30 - 5/23): New SMT Imagine users will receive the Incense of Training, allowing players Level 30 and below to increase XP earned by 1.5 times for duration of 10 days. This item's effect can also be stacked with the Incense of Experience or the Ashes of the Seance. *Once used, the effects will be automatically applied to player. Duration includes time spent offline. Effect will be overridden when the same item or another Incense of Training is used. For players Level 30 or below only.
ATLUS ONLINE is also hosting the MegaTen Blast Off Event (4/30 - 5/9), during which all SMT Imagine users will automatically be entered for a chance to win one of ATLUS ONLINE's greatest prizes ever:  
5 First Place winners will receive 42,000 Crowns ($60.00);
50 Second Place winners will receive 14,000 Crowns ($20.00);
100 Third Place winners will receive 3,500 Crowns ($5.00).
 As a special reward for their dedication to everything ATLUS, players who are registered subscribers of the ATLUS Faithful mailing list will receive a free voucher code to obtain a Jack Frost Demon!

To register, play, and find more info about SMT Imagine, please visit the official website at http://welcome.megaten.atlusonline.com.

*