Friday, February 26, 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Dated, Looking Ridiculously Fun

Another one of the games I'm most looking forward to in 2010, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the sequel to the biggest Nintendo title from 2007. Lots of new information came out during this week's Nintendo Media Summit.

One of the most satisfying parts of the first game was the outstanding visuals and colorful and dynamic environments that made up its levels. It seems that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is no different, as shown in the newly-released screenshots. The super-large land looks particularly fun, and should be great to run around in.

Another one of the things I liked most about the first game was all the boss fights. Early in the game you get a great introduction to a crazy piranha plant, and the Bowser fight is memorable and challenging as well. The sequel promises to have just as many great fights. Gobblegut (a massive, earth-worm-like dragon who features in the Wired article) looks like a fun encounter, and the mechanical Malletoid (shown here by 1Up). The sense of scale has always been great, as you battle over-large enemies that dwarf Mario.

As always, there are new gameplay mechanics. The big new twist is Yoshi, allowing transformations and abilities that Yoshi can perform to help Mario reach new areas and overcome obstacles. Excavation is accomplished through the use of Yoshi's drill, allowing the exploration of the internals of planetoids. Undoubtedly we'll see a handful of goofy new powerups as well.

The game seems to be coming along nicely, and should another great installment of the Mario adventure franchies. Super Mario Galaxy releases on May 23rd.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Metroid: Other M Dated, Details, Shows Loads of Promise

News coming forth from the Nintendo Media Summit 2010 revealed lots of details for upcoming titles this year, including the high-profile Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M. I wrote about Other M in my anticipated games for 2010, and the new details coming out is getting me excited.

First of all, the increased in narrative and story, even giving voice to Samus Aran for the first time, is one of the things I'm most looking forward to in the game. (1 Up has good info on the intro.) Previous incarnations, from the Metroid Prime series to the portable and 8- and 16-bit versions have always been light on story. The story, then, picks right up from Super Metroid, an over fifteen-year gap between the two games, and presents a narrative that gives new life to the universe.

The presentation of the gameplay also really interests me. The game manages to merge the viewpoints of the two generations of the Metroid franchise: the 2D titles of the NES, SNES, and GBA, and the 3D Prime trilogy. You'll be able to swap between a stylized side-scrolling fighting in a flat plane and a first-person visor view reminiscent of Prime simply by pointing the Wii remote at the screen. Other M makes a nod to its roots and its most recent offering while merging the two into something more than the sum of its parts. Battles will use both interface methods to tackle enemies, giving you options during the fight.

The core of the game is a adventure-action game in line with the franchise. Exploration, boss fights, and puzzles will surely be part of the experience. But it's certain that nothing before has looked as good as this Other M. The game is dated for release on June 27th.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lots More on Command & Conquer 4

First of all, the extremely disappointing fact that there will be no LAN play available from C&C4. I'm sure this is all done in the name of convenience and security for the player, but the real purpose is content control. It's both DRM and map limiting to prevent players from running their own games. I'm sure they'll be selling maps for C&C just like those Infinity Ward criminals. However, I am a fan of the series, and if the game is decent, I may still invest in it. No one else I know really plays it, so the multiplayer isn't that big of a concern for me.

More interesting, however, are the evolution of the game-play options within Tiberium Twilight, specifically the decreased important of gathering materials with which to build your armies. Combined with a mobile base and ninety-some playable units, and we should have a rocking good time. The game is out in three weeks on March 16. Crushing DRM is certainly a reason not to buy, but I'll reserve judgement until its release.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Civilization V Announced

I really only got into Civ IV recently, so the announcement of a fall 2010 release of Civilization V is a most timely event to keep the fever going. Screenshots from Kotaku show an intensely detailed world rendered by a new graphics engine that promises to deliver a great-looking experience. But gameplay has always been the thing for Civilization. Given that Firaxis was bought up a couple years back, there might be questions about how much control they would have over their venerable franchise. I suppose we will have to wait, and hope.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Burnout Paradise DLC Deal

Back in January of this year, fans of Burnout Paradise saw the writing on the wall (or the posting on the Twitter) that there would be no more DLC forthcoming. After huge updates like the free Bikes pack (that also included day/night cycles and weather), endless new cars, and the excellent new area Big Surf Island, there will be no more.

However, Criterion and EA are offering us, the fans, a special deal. For $30, those who don't own the game can get the game and every single piece of DLC. For $20, current game owners can unlock every DLC offered. That's one heck of a deal. The offer runs only until March 31st, and is only available on the PS3. Certainly one to consider.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sins of a Solar Empire: Diplomacy Released

Sins of a Solar Empire released its second and final micro-expansion yesterday, Diplomacy. Unlike the previous Entrenchment, which put in new units like starbases and artillery cruisers and mines, Diplomacy adds more subtle changes to the game in the form of differences in player relationships. Probably the most exciting feature is the ability to issue missions to pirates and other player factions in the hopes to deliver a feint or put pressure on another opponent. Also added is a diplomatic victory option for those particularly suited to owning a quadrant without all the annoying rebuilding after planetary bombardment. More information is available in a guided tour from an Ironclad developer.

Although I've been in the beta program, I'm eager to try the 1.0 version. We'll have to get some multi-player set up!

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time Story Mode Complete

I completed the story mode of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time yesterday evening. Great conclusion to the story and a couple good boss fights, very satisfying. I did not complete a bunch of the collectible stuff by the end, but luckily there is an option after completing the story that you can go back in time before the last boss battle and continue to explore the galaxy, searching for components, plans, and other collectibles.

I chose to continue my search, and in doing so I picked up the ultimate weapon, the RYNO V. A combination mini-gun and rocket launcher, the RYNO V (aka Rip You a New One) mows down enemies and plays Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture as you blast away. I literally could not stop giggling it was so hilarious. I love this game so much.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crysis 2 Dated

We've seen teasers for Crysis 2 as far back as August of last year, but now the game has been dated for Q4 of 2010. We'll see if they're able to stick to that date. While everyone wants to get a holiday release out there, this being the first time the series has come to consoles, including the complicated PS3 platform, it might be a stretch. However, I'm hopeful. I loved the hell out of the original game and the follow-up Warhead, and the second installment could help bring the innovative open-world style and breathtaking graphics to a landscape of bland, mostly-on-rails shooters.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Quest for Booty Complete, Crack in Time Purchased

Finished Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty last night, and immediately went out and picked up Crack in Time. Just from playing the beginning of Crack in Time, I feel like it's the best of the bunch, and the first couple were really good. Of course it's had a couple extra years of polish, but the first couple levels really pop and the interview with Quark to start out the game sets a hilarious tone. This is going to be fun.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction Complete

Finished Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction last night. Great ending, good fight at the end and makes me interested to play the next game in the series, the downloadable smaller Quest for Booty. A lot of things about this series really appeal to me, from the quick action gameplay to the high production values and great voice work and humor in the cut-scenes and story elements. I can't believe I haven't played them before, they're exactly my style. Picked that up Quest for Booty last night and should be ready for the snowy weekend coming our way.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Updates to Prepare for Coming of Diplomacy

Updates just went out for Sins of a Solar Empire and the first expansion Entrenchment. The updates are in preparation of the imminent second and final expansion Diplomacy, which I preordered and have been playing since October because the nice folks at Ironclad Games decided to let pre-orders in early. Diplomacy is scheduled out in 1.0 form this month, and with this update as its harbinger, we should see it imminently.

Mass Effect 2 Complete

Finished the single-player story of Mass Effect 2 last night. I'm really at a loss for words.

I was having a conversation with a friend a couple nights ago, about how there's a certain plausibility that I like about the universe of Mass Effect 2. It feels genuine, everything is explained, and even the science isn't too far removed from what could be possible. You can buy into what they're selling, and I think that makes the events that take place in the universe between the characters that much more impactful. You believe that the character exists, and you can feel sympathy to what is going on with them.

Throw all that out the window in the final mission in Mass Effect 2. Without going into too many details, they break every rule and throw realism out the window. The ending was fun, don't get me wrong, but it was so incredibly outlandish that it seemed I lost the actual Mass Effect 2 somewhere along the way and played the end to some other game that happened to have all the same characters as Mass Effect 2.

There were some great moments, though. Some of the best run-and-gun action with a real reason to hurry, as someone's life depended on you being quick about it. The interpersonal events, the choices that you make, will make you second and third-guess yourself, and that's the game's strong point. I think I can write off the ridiculousness and take hold of the grounding effects of the relationships between the strong characters, the love and loss and shared trials of the cast of great individuals. No matter how implausible or outright silly their task, they accomplished it at great odds and did it together, and that's how I'll remember the game.

Especially because I have no words to explain anything that happened in the story. Seriously, what just happened?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pershings Rule the Field

Rarely do games go long enough in Company of Heroes to really enjoy some of the end-game units, but last night we played a match where I had ample opportunity to run around with a Pershing tank, granted by the American Armored specialty. I was tearing up bases and chasing down Hetzers, as you can see.

After rolling through two enemy bases, I encountered this Hetzer, after I'd demolished his twin. I had a lot of backup in the form of Shermans and Sherman Calliopies which can rain down the destruction. But this Hetzer stopped and decided to take a stand. I rewarded it with a shot to the face. You can see the results.

Thanks to my teammates for defending the points while I marched my Shermans around like it was Georgia. Good match.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Rumbling Down the Spirit Tracks

Even with much noise about Mass Effect 2, I haven't given up on Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. I played a bit more this weekend, managed to visit the last of the train spirit guys and open up the last temple in the fiery mountains. The boss fights have been the highlight of the game, although pretty much everything is fun. Looking forward to delving into the last temple and cleaning it out of whatever mean baddie lurks at the heart of the dungeon.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction

I was able to borrow a copy of the first outing of Ratchet and Clank on the PS3: Tools of Destruction. I'd played the demo of A Crack in Time and loved it, but I wanted to check out the previous game first. I haven't been disappointed.

Tools of Destruction is a fun, funny, light-hearted and explosive romp through varied and interesting environments. The focus of the action, the weaponry and combat, is simple and entertaining. The sheer breadth of weapons, from seeking missiles to nanite swarms and tornado launchers to disco balls, any given fight is yours to approach as you see fit. Get up close and personal with the shotgun-like shard gun or whip your foes into submission with the shock ravager, or just blanket the area with plasma fire. Different foes are weaker against certain weapons, but it's never a mystery what is appropriate, so you never struggle for a suitable weapon to cut through the swaths of foes.

Besides the action, the story and dialog is actually interesting and funny. You play as (presumably) the last survivor of a legendary race, trying to find the secrets of your people before an arch-villain does so, and uses those secrets against you. But the tongue-in-cheek and deliberately corny delivery of some of the lines is great for laughs and contributes to the mostly unserious tone of the whole game.

And that's really what I like about Ratchet and Clank. It's lighthearted all around, from the story to the gameplay, rewarding without being punishing. In other words, perfect for spending hours playing on a weekend. Looking forward to finishing this and grabbing A Crack in Time.