Posts Tagged ‘shooter’

It’s only been a couple of months and 2010 is already shaping up to be one of the best ever for gamers. If your wallet hasn’t already been emptied, Electronic Arts and development studio DICE have tossed yet another videogame on the pile that can’t be missed. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 ups the intensity and visual prowess of its predecessor, while still delivering one of the most compelling multiplayer games around.

If you were to buy Bad Company 2 solely for the single-player campaign, you might come away a bit disappointed. That’s not to say it’s particularly bad in any way, but it doesn’t feel impressive enough to stand on its own as a great experience. Once again, the multiplayer game is the star of the Battlefield show.

Ultimate Edition Content

The situation with the Ultimate Edition of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is pretty simple. If you already have a copy of Bad Company 2, you’ll likely want to skip this release. However, if you were someone who was hesitant to pick up DICE’s latest high-quality creation because a little game called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was still spinning in your disc drive, then Ultimate Edition is certainly worth your time. Keep reading for the reasons why.

For sixty bucks players get what essentially amounts to the full Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Limited Edition experience (which is to say you get a few weapon and vehicle upgrades along with some fresh maps for multiplayer) as well as the Onslaught co-op mode DLC and the beloved downloadable title Battlefield: 1943.Sadly none of the content in Ultimate Edition is new in any way. Instead, the real attraction of the package is that you get all of this great Battlefield: Bad Company 2 content in one box. It’s a bit of an annoyance that you have to enter in three different download codes on Xbox 360 (two on PS3) to get your hands on everything, but that shouldn’t be a surprise given EA’s new initiative to try to bolster new-game sales through the use of one-time-use codes.

As far as the content itself, everything is just as it was when it was originally released. Given that everything you’ll find here earned high marks in our eyes when it first dropped into the hands of consumers, there’s nothing to knock. Battlefield: 1943 still has an active online following so I never had trouble quickly finding a game. I did encounter a bit of lag which is strange considering I was playing on IGN’s speedy connection, but it dissipated once I switched games. The same goes for Onslaught and the core Bad Company 2 gameplay, which is as enjoyable as ever.

All in all it’s a little disappointing not to get some fresh content in this supposed “Ultimate Edition” but it’s tough to argue with the sheer abundance of quality that you’ll find under this relatively modest (when you consider the fact that you get a free fifteen dollar downloadable game) sixty-dollar price tag. Again, if you played Bad Company 2 when it originally launched then there really isn’t enough original (or any at all) stuff to warrant spending the sixty bucks again, but if you skipped out on DICE’s second iteration of this popular series and want to know what all the hubbub was about, BF: BC2 Ultimate Edition is your answer.

The single-player campaign follows the story of a rag-tag bunch of soldiers as they traipse around the world on the hunt for a mythical weapon of mass destruction which absolutely must not fall into the hands of the Russians. It’s a typical story of unlikely heroes as they attempt to save the world, and it will take you across a great variety of locations that range from frozen mountains to densely packed jungles.

These gorgeous locales are the first thing that will spring out at you as you begin the fight. The vistas and skyboxes look nearly photorealistic in many situations, and DICE did a wonderful job blending the particle effects and game objects in the foreground with the more static backdrops. The result is a sense of depth that few videogame worlds can offer.

Things become more impressive yet when the action kicks in. Returning from the last Bad Company game are nearly fully destructible environments. If an enemy soldier is holed up in a second-story bedroom taking potshots at you, all you have to do is send a rocket at that wall and he’ll either wind up dead or fully exposed. The same line of thinking applies to just about anything you see – send enough firepower at it and you can watch it crumble.

Once you’re done ogling the smoke trails or mountain ranges in the distance, you’ll start to notice that Bad Company 2 has taken a few cues from the Call of Duty franchise. The last Battlefield game was the first to introduce a fully fleshed out storyline and it stumbled a bit in the process. The humor was goofy and over the top, the open mission design was a bit too open, and everything seemed coated in a dense fog. A lot has changed and improved for the sequel.

The big change comes with a more streamlined and cinematic approach to the action. The dialogue is less overtly inane, though it does offer its fair share of humor, and the level design feels more straightforward. While the last Bad Company game couldn’t hold my attention, this one kept me interested and having fun from start to finish.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this Battlefield game has some great mechanics. The guns react well, and sound fantastic. The vehicles handle smoothly and really do a great job of making you feel like the king of the battlefield. The instant-respawns and med kit injections of the last Bad Company have been replaced by the more standard checkpoints and regenerative health bar and that makes the challenge of war feel more realistic.

To top things off, the AI squad mates at your side act like real soldiers in battle. They’ll press the attack while you flank and hold off the enemy while you duck behind cover to recuperate. Many games slap you in a squad of largely ineffective soldiers and let you do all of the heavy lifting. Bad Company 2 is a refreshing change of pace in this regard.

Of course, if you want to start nitpicking, there are plenty of instances to call out. Some of the details and little pieces of the environment stream into view a bit late. There still are no arms drawn on screen when driving a vehicle, causing a poltergeist-like steering wheel to move on its own. On the Xbox 360 version, slow loading from the disc causes the player to be locked out for as much as five seconds from throwing grenades or using the knife when picking up a new weapon or changing kits (this issue went away when installing the game onto a hard drive).

These are mostly small complaints and, for me, the campaign’s only real troubles rest with the presentation and pacing. The B-Company (known as Bravo Two in this game) squad returns with you filling the shoes of Preston Marlowe. At your side is a crew of largely one-dimensional characters who are good for a laugh every now and then. This cast exists mainly to deliver one-liners and to direct you through the battlefield to the next objective. It’s hard to even think of them as people after watching them take a rocket propelled grenade to the face and then get up and go right back into the fight.

Though the action has been streamlined, it feels like Bad Company 2 just missed the “epic” feeling that it seems the developers were going for. Part of the problem is in the direction of the cutscenes, but mostly I feel like it rests with the non-stop high-intensity approach to gameplay. In a given level, you can do everything from sniping soldiers to manning a turret on the side of a helicopter to calling in air strikes – all in rapid succession. You’re something of a Rambo super-soldier, well versed in every facet of war. With the constant action, it feels like there is very little tension building outside of the game’s opening moments. There’s tons of variety to the gameplay and all of it is a great deal of fun, but it doesn’t quite come together to be a top-tier experience.

And with such a frantic campaign pace, it is over in short order. I blew through the game in just a few evenings of lazy play, probably clocking in under six hours. A collectible weapon system does offer a reason to go back for a second or third run, but this isn’t the kind of campaign you’ll be returning to again and again.

For many, the shortcomings in the campaign won’t matter one bit. These people come for the multiplayer online game, and that’s where Bad Company 2 delivers. Here the destructible environments of the campaign take on new meaning. Your target might be waiting inside a shack. An enemy squad may be using a tower as a staging point. This can all change with just a few well placed explosives as you literally level the playing field. It adds an extra tier of strategy to the game as you struggle to work through extended fights, adapting your approach to the fight as the world around you crumbles.

That’s just the first level of strategic planning this shooter offers those that work well together. Battlefield has long been known and adored by gamers as the franchise that offers epic, large-scale online fights and plenty of vehicles to take into battle. That tradition continues here. Personally, I’ve always held it in such high regard because of how it is inherently team-based. The very layout of the game is designed to encourage players to work together, straight down to awarding extra points for working with your teammate.

Little squads can be created, segmenting larger teams into strike forces which can each play a specific role. Then within that squad, players can choose between four load-out kits that range from the light machinegun toting medic to the heavy weapon specialist engineer. Each has its own weapons and unique tools that allow you to set yourself up as a small but integral part in the team’s success. It’s a game that requires a cool head and open lines of communication just as much as it does a deft hand, and that just makes the victories that much sweeter.

What struck me as most impressive with Bad Company 2 is how flexible the multiplayer game is. The class system allows you to choose what your approach to battle will be. It’s the maps and modes included in this package that allow you to choose exactly what kind of game you want to play. There is a huge difference between the giant and extended team Rush games – an attack and defend mode which plays out across expansive maps and features vehicles heavily — and the tighter Squad Deathmatch games which can feel just like your standard frantic and close-quarters shooter. If you care for something in between, you can just hop into a Conquest game to try your hand at the classic Battlefield fight over specific areas controlled by raising and lowering flags. Regardless of your mood, it feels like Bad Company 2 has something for you.

And if the game itself isn’t enough reason to keep coming back, perhaps you’ll find yourself hooked on the class upgrade system. New weapons and gadgets can be unlocked, as well as little perks to give you an edge in the fight. Those familiar with Call of Duty (And at this point who isn’t?) will be right at home with the system that rewards players for completing small challenges as well as winning games or simply playing well and getting a lot of kills. (ign)

Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Digital Illusions CE (DICE)
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Number of Players: 1-24
Release Date: US: August 30, 2010
MSRP: $59.99
M for Mature: Blood, Strong Language, Violence
Also Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Halo: Reach (Legendary Edition) ProductLimited Edition

Most limited or special editions are filled with a few trinkets of questionable worth. This, however, is actually a pretty cool set of goodies, all for just an extra $10. Inside the larger box, you’ll find a black DVD case that will make Halo: Reach stand out in your collection. That’s a nice touch, but it’s only the start.

You’ll also find an “artifact bag” that contains notes from Dr. Halsey, the creator of the Spartan program and blueprint for Cortana. This bag is a must for any real Halo fan. Inside a hardbound notebook, you’ll get tons of inside info made to look like it was handwritten by the good doctor, a patch, a mock UNSC security badge, a color map and a whole lot more. Play Halo: Reach and then go back and read through the manual for a deeper understanding of what happened in the game.

Last, but not least, you can find a code to get a special armor set for your Elite multiplayer model.

The Halo: Reach Limited Edition package is a great one, and one that I would recommend to anybody that wants more than the base game but can’t quite afford the very expensive Legendary Edition. It may smell a bit funky when you first open it (seriously), but it’s a great buy for serious Halo fans. (ign)

  • Published by: Microsoft
  • Developed by: Bungie Software
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • Release Date: US: September 14, 2010
  • MSRP: $79.99
  • M for Mature: Blood, Violence

Halo: Reach (Legendary Edition) ProductLegendary Edition

The Legendary Edition contains everything the less expensive Limited Edition comes with, plus a lot more to justify the $150 price tag. It’s all housed inside a special case made to look like an ONI security container. This is a pretty substantial set of bonus content, so let’s get right to it.

Like the Limited Edition, the Legendary box has a special black DVD case to house your copy of Halo: Reach. It’s a nice touch, though not as sweet as the Halo 2 metal case I still proudly display on my shelf.

The other crossover content with the Limited Edition includes an “artifact bag” that contains notes from Dr. Halsey, the creator of the Spartan program and blueprint for Cortana. This bag is a must for any real Halo fan. Inside a hardbound notebook, you’ll get tons of inside info made to look like it was handwritten by the good doctor, a patch, a mock UNSC security badge, a color map and a whole lot more. Play Halo: Reach and then go back and read through the manual for a deeper understanding of what happened in the game.

Inside the disc case, you can find a code to download several exclusive pieces of content. There’s a special flaming helmet armor affect for your Spartan (previously only available to Bungie employees), a cool Elite costume, and a Falcon Avatar accessory. This code also gives you two free days of Xbox Live Gold and a behind the scenes video delivered in a unique way. Rather than putting the video on a disc, it can be watched through Halo Waypoint after redeeming the code.

Make sure you play the game before watching the behind the scenes video. It’s two hours long and filled with spoilers, according to the descriptor. It wasn’t available for us to watch in Halo: Waypoint pre-launch, so we can’t comment on its quality.

The crown jewel in the Legendary Edition is the hand crafted statue of Noble Team. This limited statue will surely make your friends jealous — it’s made for the true fan and collector. It’s sturdy, well-crafted, and exactly the sort of thing that will make the Halo fanboys cry tears of joy. (ign)

  • Published by: Microsoft
  • Developed by: Bungie Software
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • Release Date: US: September 14, 2010
  • MSRP: $149.99
  • M for Mature: Blood, Violence

Halo: Reach Review

Posted: September 16, 2010 in XBOX 360
Tags: ,

Halo means so much to so many people. This is not extraordinary in the culture of videogames. What’s exceptional is how many different things it means to those players. For me Halo has always been a social experience, with lifelong friendships forged over a shared love of the game. Some hop online to randomly test their merit in competitive matches. Others find themselves lost in the fiction, playing through the campaign alone and then poring over the extended story in books and anime. Still others look to Halo for a creative outlet as level forgers or machinima producers. This range in how we play Halo is a testament to how feature-rich development studio Bungie has made the franchise, and Halo: Reach is the ultimate punctuation on a decade’s work.

This is the end of the Halo road for Bungie — the group is set to move on to a new original game next while Microsoft takes over responsibility for the franchise’s future — and that sense of this being a finale is in Halo: Reach. It shows clear reference to past games, refines well-established game mechanics, adds a few exciting twists, and polishes the rest to a glossy finish. The result is one of the most complete, fully-featured packages you’ll find in gaming.

Little here will surprise the hardcore Halo fan, especially if they were among the millions that took part in the multiplayer beta earlier this year. The approach to making a first-person shooter remains the same as it has in the past for Halo. There’s a co-op friendly campaign filled with the dreaded Covenant aliens, sparkling online competitive multiplayer, the four-player Firefight mode, and lots of flexibility to allow everyone to tweak settings to their liking. If you’ve played a Halo game in the past, you’ll feel instantly at home.

That’s not to say this is just another rehash. There’s plenty of new and exciting content in Halo: Reach and it begins with the main character. Master Chief is out. This time you’ll step into the shoes of Noble 6, a nameless hero for players to project themselves onto. Noble 6 doesn’t even have a defined gender. Thanks to a deep new customization system, you’re free to fit Noble 6’s look to your personality.

Noble 6’s tale begins with an introduction to Planet Reach. This colony is the center of humanity’s military might, and home to the Spartan program that produced Master Chief himself. The events of Halo: Reach take place as a prequel to the main Halo trilogy and — though they take small liberties with the established fiction — help to tell the story of the events that lead up to events of Halos 1 through 3. The war with the Covenant is already raging, and things don’t look good for us humans.

Noble 6 is the rookie member of Noble Team, a squad of Spartans stationed on Reach. You’ll get to know each of the other team members through the course of Halo: Reach as you work with them to complete various missions, but the action always follows Noble 6’s adventure.

The whole shebang will last you about nine or ten hours on your first play through on the Heroic difficulty (less if you’re real good and more if you aren’t). During that time you’ll find a lot of tried and true mainstays of the Halo formula. That means plenty of big battlefields, crazy vehicles, lots of aliens to fight, and tons of weapons to help make the Covenant pay. Though past Halo games were filled with repetitive landscapes and circuitous, difficult to follow plots, Halo: Reach does not suffer from these problems.

This is the most straightforward and enjoyable tale of destruction the franchise has yet to produce. And don’t worry if you haven’t played the other Halo games yet – though Reach will feel a lot deeper and more compelling to longtime Halo fans, it can stand on its own as a self-contained story. The tale starts out simple enough, but it quickly escalates to stunning set pieces before pulling out all the stops. The last third of the game is just one big thrill ride, and the revelations that occur during that part of the game are sure to make any Halo buff go ballistic. The ending in particular left a huge impression on me. I don’t want to spoil anything, but just know that the space combat Bungie used to tease Halo: Reach is only the beginning.

Now, though the Halo formula is intact and there are plenty of wink-and-a-nod references to past games, Reach is a big step forward. Little successful elements of old Halo games are sprinkled here or there while a newfound sensibility in level design and pacing is wrapped around the core. The action is always moving through one combat scenario to the next, with plenty of gameplay and scenario twists to keep things fresh.

The best new addition? Armor abilities. These are an evolution of the equipment found in Halo 3 and drastically change the way you play in their updated form. These temporary but reusable extra abilities add things like sprinting, jet packs, and invincible armor to the franchise for the first time. The result is a faster, more acrobatic game that affords the player more flexibility in how they’d like to approach each fight. Also, jet packs are awesome. How did we go without them this long?

These new features and refined, classic design work in concert well enough that Halo: Reach often meets that gaming ideal of pure immersion — the core components that can remind you that you’re playing a game are a nonentity while you focus on the action at hand. While playing I found myself slipping into that state quite often, only occasionally ripped out by nasty difficulty spikes. Halo: Reach is a tough game on the harder settings — easily the most difficult in the franchise — and it only gets more challenging as you add co-op players thanks to a scaling difficulty.

That sense of immersion is helped along quite a bit by the amazing audio work and the new graphics engine built for Halo: Reach. Marty O’Donnell, the lead sound guy at Bungie, has once again delivered an epic soundtrack that is so good that it elevates the entire game. That’s no small feat.

While that music pummels your ear drums, your eyes get to feast on one gorgeous looking game. The alien vistas and color palette are striking, and the sense of scale is oftentimes off the charts. You’re fighting amidst a war that rages across an entire planet, and Bungie doesn’t let you forget it. Even so, there are times when the epic battles don’t quite feel so incredible thanks to a lack of detail or the occasional framerate stutter while the engine can’t keep up with what’s happening.

It’s difficult to separate out the core components of Halo: Reach because they all sort of blend together into one massive experience. The campaign can be played alone or with up to four-players on a split-screen or online. Likewise, you can play the Firefight mode, a single map test of skill and endurance against waves of Covenant enemies, with a few friends cooperatively. All of those great additions that made it into the campaign? Well they’re here too. This mode was introduced in Halo 3: ODST, but has finally met its promise thanks to online matchmaking and a more robust set of options. One of which is a competitive versus mode where you can compete for points while one or more players take up the side of the Covenant.

Or you can just go all out in a fight against other players by joining the competitive online multiplayer game. Like Firefight, the core concept remains the same as past Halo games while new features, weapons and modes have been added. Armor abilities and tweaked physics make the game that millions have poured hours and hours into feel fresh once again. It doesn’t hurt that the new modes like Headhunter and Invasion are a ton of fun. The format is warmly familiar, but it all feels so new after digging into the competitive game and learning new tricks and skills.

Wrapped around all of this is an addition that Bungie calls player investment. Everything you do — be it play the campaign or complete an online match — earns you credits. Rack up enough and you can unlock customization features to make your Noble 6 look elite, and that look carries through all modes in the game — even cut scenes. Don’t be surprised if you find a goofy, pink-and-blue Noble 6 invading your game like IGN editor-in-chief Hilary Goldstein did. If you make your character look dumb, it’s your own fault.

Likewise, Xbox Live members can take part in daily or weekly challenges created by Bungie with an eye towards compelling players to come back again and again to prove their skills. This, for me, is the kicker. I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop logging on every few days for a new challenge, followed by a little message to a friend taunting them about how I did it faster.

The one aspect of Halo: Reach I found lacking was in the multiplayer map selection. There are 13 total for competitive games, but four of those are either direct copies or retreads of maps from past Halo games. Everything plays quite differently with all of the gameplay tweaks, but I can already see myself looking forward to the first map pack. It’s tough to complain about a lack of content in such a feature rich game, but I was left hoping for more.

That issue is mitigated to some extent by the incredible amount of flexibility built into Halo: Reach. The Forge, where players can lightly edit the competitive maps, is back and now much more user friendly. Most won’t take advantage of that tool, but they will benefit from the new map and game variants that the hardcore create and share with the community.

It’s also incredibly simple to just hop in and edit the rules of the game, both for Firefight and in normal multiplayer games. You can tweak everything from which enemies you face in Firefight to how much damage weapons do, and a whole lot more. Think of a crazy game variant — even one that doesn’t have anything to do with shooting — and you can probably make it and share it with your friends in Halo: Reach. The whole system is incredibly powerful and equally impressive. The only downer is that there is no way to search for a custom game. If a game type isn’t in the predetermined matchmaking hoppers and you don’t have friends online, you’re out of luck.

All told, the multiplayer suite is one of the best ever. The Halo multiplayer game has been expanding since the early days of the original Xbox, and now it’s hit a point where the amount of , flexibility, number of modes, and potential for fun is just out of this world. Very few other games can compete with this level of polish, presentation, and attention to detail. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, don’t forget to hop on to bungie.net to find extra stats, shared in-game screenshots and movies, and a vibrant community ready to help you extend the life of your game for months and months. (ign)

Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Bungie Software
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: US: September 14, 2010 , Japan: September 15, 2010
MSRP: $59.99
M for Mature: Blood, Violence

Time Crisis 2nd Strike (iPhone)

Posted: September 16, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: ,

Time Crisis 2nd Strike PictureTime Crisis 2nd Strike is Namco’s latest iPhone adaptation of its popular light gun series – and things are still a little screwy. As an ace super agent hot on the trail of a gang of terrorists, you must tap-tap-tap your way out of dangerous situations against waves of gunmen. But there is a little more to the shooting gallery than tapping the bad guys to death. Using on-screen pedals, you must also duck out of the way to avoid incoming fire and reload your weapons. This adds a slight element of strategy to Time Crisis 2nd Strike. But it doesn’t fill the void caused by some weirdly frustrating action.

Each mission is broken down into a series of vignettes, each only 15 or so seconds long. You need to get through each section before time runs out. To finish a vignette, kill everybody in the immediate area. This adds time to the clock, giving you a better chance of making it through all of the areas within that mission. You can burn all of your time if you miss an enemy and have to wait for him to pop back out into the open (terrorists are smart enough to duck away from time to time), so there is an element of pattern memorization here.

Time Crisis 2nd Strike PictureShooting is as simple as tapping an enemy. Some can be taken down with a single shot, but others require you to really cop a feel. Two problems pop up here. One, as you reach across the screen to tap a bad guy, you can inadvertently cover up another enemy who will either shoot you or go back into hiding, leaving you desperately scanning the screen as your clock runs down. The second issue is precision. Some of the bad guys lurk in the distance and can appear very small. This makes them easy to miss. Sure, it’s supposed to be harder to hit distant targets – that’s kinda the point – but your index finger is not necessarily a precision tool.

I do appreciate that Namco added extra weapons to Time Crisis 2nd Strike like a machinegun, shotgun, and grenade launcher. Using the shotgun, for example, means you don’t have to be as precise – but this does not exactly rectify the distance issue because a shotgun is more of a close-quarters weapon. I also really like the pedal system for ducking away from the action to reload. During this time, you lose about 50-percent of your viewing angle and can miss the location of bad guys. That’s completely understandable because, well, you’re ducking. It’s when you miss an enemy because of your hand that Time Crisis 2nd Strike frustrates.

Time Crisis 2nd Strike also includes a competitive mode when you blaze through the main game, allowing you to go for the best scores or times. That’s a good extra, too, but because I’m not crazy about the action in the first place, this is not something I foresee spending a lot of time with beyond the review period. (ign)

  • Published by: Namco Networks
  • Developed by: Namco Networks
  • Genre: Shooter
  • Release Date: US: September 14, 2010

Radiant Silvergun is generally considered to be one of the best 2D shooters ever made. Released in arcades and on the SEGA Saturn in 1998, it gave players control of seven weapons that are activated by different button combinations. Today during Microsoft’s press conference at the Tokyo Game Show it was announced that a high-definition remake of Radiant Silvergun will arrive on Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) next year.

This will be an XBLA exclusive with support for two players over Xbox Live. The graphics are being improved and you’ll be able to download and share game replays. Both the original Arcade and Saturn modes will be available (Saturn mode adds a storyline to the action).

Look for more info on Radiant Silvergun HD from Tokyo over the next few days. (ign)

  • Published by: Treasure
  • Developed by: Treasure
  • Genre: Shooter
  • Release Date: US: TBA , Japan: TBA 2011
  • RP for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: Saturn, Arcade

Call of Duty: Black Ops for PC will ship with dedicated server support this November, but there’s a catch.

Activision and Treyarch studios announced it has partnered with GameServers.com to offer exclusive dedicated server rentals when the game launches.

“We are extremely excited about this unprecedented relationship with Activision to offer dedicated servers exclusively for Black Ops”, said GameServers CEO David Aninowsky. “We are placing a great amount of pressure on ourselves to ensure that we exceed any and all expectations.”

According to GameServers’ pre-order page, ranked servers will cost $14.95 a month for an 18 max player limit. Discounts are offered for monthly prepays. Unranked servers will cost $0.99 a month per player up to maximum of 24. Teamspeak support will have an additional fee. Discounts will be offered for a 3, 6, and 12 month prepay.

Treyarch Community Manager Josh Olin said this partnership will provide high-quality servers at an affordable rate for the game.

“If players want to run a dedicated Ranked or Unranked server on the PC, they will have to rent one through GameServers,” Olin told IGN. “Treyarch will be providing a fleet of ‘Day-1 Servers’ (through GameServers) which will be up and operational on November 9th.

“Nobody will have to rent a dedicated server through GameServers in order to play the game,” says Olin. “But for anybody who wants to run their own server, it will be run from GameServers.com.”

Olin added that this partnership adds the advantage of much more effective anti-cheating and hacking moderation.

“If you rent a server, you will still have the ability to Kick, Ban, and Configure it the way you see fit,” Olin added. “Of course Ranked servers will have some set configurations that can’t be messed with; but you will still have the power to administrate your servers as a customer of GameServers.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops ships for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on November 9. (ign)

  • Published by: Activision
  • Developed by: Treyarch
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • Release Date: US: November 9, 2010  , Japan: TBA 2010
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • RP-T+ for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: Nintendo DS, Wireless, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3,  Wii, PC

Time Crisis: Razing Storm ScreenshotI completely missed the last Time Crisis game on the PlayStation 3, mostly due to my aversion for extra peripherals (I’m drowning in guitars, weight scales, guns, and microphones). But hey, I’m already onboard for this PlayStation Move thing, so let’s check out one of my favorite rail shooters of all time. Namco’s newest entry into the series, the not at all dumbly named Razing Storm, mixes classic Time Crisis gameplay with a first person shooter mode. I know, right? Sounds weird to me, too, but keep reading.

I had to jump into Arcade mode first because, let’s be honest, the arcade is where Time Crisis lives. It’s very much a Time Crisis game, which is enough description for anyone who has played the series. Instead of ducking behind cover this time, pressing the Move button brings up a riot shield. It works the same way, letting players reload and hide from gunfire. The T trigger fires weapons, and players simply aim their wand at the screen, using the reticule to target enemies.

Time Crisis: Razing Storm ScreenshotIt’s straight up fun arcadey Time Crisis. The enemies still stand there like douchebags while players mow them down. There are still insane bosses in giant machinery. And I still shoot civilians in the face and lose one of my lives every couple minutes. But it’s fun. People came by and wanted to do co-op with me while I was playing because Time Crisis is like an instant party. That doesn’t speak to its quality, per say, but it’s a fun series that has been consistently entertaining.

There’s also a story mode in Razing Storm which is interesting because it turns Time Crisis into a sort of FPS game. Now at first I was screaming angrily because I’m of the mindset that Time Crisis is just fine as an arcade rail shooter. But the game does do some cool stuff that keeps it feeling like Time Crisis. Players can run freely around the level, though it’s a very linear setup from what we’ve seen. Thoughout the level there are spots to take cover behind. When players get to cover spots they can hide behind them, and the game then operates exactly like Time Crisis. Players can lean out from behind the cover, shoot enemies, then retreat back to reload. What made it cool was that I could, at any time, just walk out from behind it to take out a hard to reach enemy, move to another cover spot, or grab a dropped weapon, so it adds a new dynamic to the Time Crisis formula.

It’s a cool concept, but I actually found myself having trouble snapping into the cover spots. It required tilting the Move wand up when the game prompted me, but half the time it didn’t work right away. Oh, and the game also requires that Sub Controller, or for players to hold onto their DualShock in their free hand, which isn’t an ideal set up.

Razing Storm comes with two additional games: Time Crisis 4 and Deadstorm Pirates. Personally I’m pretty excited about the bonuses. Time Crisis 4 is the one I played more than any other (mostly because I worked in an arcade during its release).

Time Crisis: Razing Storm ScreenshotDeadstorm Pirates is particularly cool because it only came out in arcades this year. Most of you have probably never heard of it because finding new arcade games is like looking for Bigfoot. It’s an arcade shooter starring two pirates as they take down waves of zombie pirates, sea monsters, and other ships.

The arcade cabinet was cool because it had seats on hydraulics that moved and shook as the ship did. And it had a big ship wheel for the steering portions. The Move version will have players wave their wand in a circle to mimic those portions of the game.Three arcade shooters on one disc is reason enough for me to check out Razing Storm when it hits stores. And honestly I will be using Time Crisis to convince my friends to play Move more than I’ll use any of the family friendly party games. I’m not sure how fun this story mode will end up being, but I’ll keep you posted. (ign)

  • Published by: Namco Bandai
  • Genre: Shooter
  • Number of Players: 1-8
  • Release Date: US: September 2010 , Japan: September 2010
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • RP-T+ for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: Arcade, PS 3

Front Mission Evolved PictureI will never swear off giant robots. No matter how many games I play, no matter how much anime I watch, I will always take interest in the exploits of massive war machines wreaking havoc in potentially post-apocalyptic worlds.

That is until I get totally sick of giant robots…

But I’m not sick of them yet, which makes Front Mission Evolvedall the more exciting. Publisher Square Enix is working with developer Double Helix to bring the next entry in the Front Mission series to current-gen platforms this September. I had the chance to watch a few campaign missions as well as try my hand at the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Even though Front Mission Evolved marks a tremendous departure from the original Front Mission formula, I still enjoyed my short demonstration of the game.

For those of you unfamiliar with Front Mission, the original games (which span a variety of platforms) were strategy games that required patience and a fair amount of planning to beat. But Double Helix is taking the series in a totally new direction, as Front Mission Evolved is a third-person shooter where players take direct control of the series’ signature robots, called Wanzers, and pilot them into battle.

Front Mission Evolved ScreenshotCustomization is an important part of the game, as players will be able to modify their Wanzer to suit their play style. For those that are interested in the game’s story, there’s a full single-player campaign with more than 70 minutes of in-game cutscenes that depict the deeds of one Dylan Ramsey, a Wanzer engineer that’s caught up in an international struggle. But for those interested in pure competition, the multiplayer suite in Front Mission Evolved is quite robust.

But before I get into the multiplayer side of things, let’s talk single-player. In Front Mission Evolved, players control their Wanzer in a similar fashion that you’d control a normal character in a standard shooter. The only difference is that the four shoulder buttons are assigned to the four weapons a Wanzer can carry: two weapons for the hands and two weapons mounted on the Wanzer’s shoulders. This brings in the customization element of Front Mission Evolved, as players can have all sorts of weapon combinations for their killin’ machines. Rifles, shotguns, missile launchers, shields and more are all available and can be purchased with the money earned from completing campaign missions. Players can also customize the Wanzer’s body type and backpack, which gives them even more control over how the Wanzer handles on the field.

The Square Enix and Double Helix representatives showed me three different missions in Front Mission Evolved. The first was mission 5, titled Fort Monus. Dylan and his squad mates (including the lovely Adela) were fighting through enemy forces in order to save people trapped in the fort. Dylan was piloting his patented Wanzer named Zephyr and, as you might expect, he was decimating the battlefield. The action was heated and I got to see how different enemy Wanzers behave in combat. Medium Wanzers, for example, take conservative approaches to the fight and take cover often. Heavy Wanzers, on the other hand, are extremely aggressive and charge you with guns blazing. We also ran into a ballistics Wanzer that was launching missiles at Dylan from afar. Sneaky jerk.

Front Mission Evolved ScreenshotWanzers can freely jump and dash around the environment, which means rooftops can be traversed to get the height advantage over opponents. Perhaps more helpful is Edge mode, which can be activated to slow down time and illuminate all enemy units with red highlights. Handy in a pinch, and it looks cool, too!

The second mission on display was a brief look at on-foot combat. These on-foot sections are few and far between (about four total) but they’re designed to add a little variety to Front Mission’s pacing. It was during this section that I was particularly impressed with the sound design of Front Mission Evolved, as the gun effects packed a punch and fighting a Wanzer on foot was always a real treat. The Double Helix representative also pointed out that these missions are a great way to reinforce the Wanzer’s sense of scale, as the machines tower over a human character menacingly.

The third and final mission in the campaign I got to see was a boss battle against main antagonist Cornelius Warner. Warner was piloting an absolutely massive mobile fortress called Fafnir and the battle was spectacular. Players have to dash around wildly, avoiding lasers and missiles alike, in an attempt to destroy nodes mounted on the top of Fafnir. Not only was this confrontation an impressive display visually, but it looked like a serious challenge.

Front Mission Evolved ScreenshotMy time with Front Mission Evolved ended with a multiplayer match against the Double Helix QA team. In other words, I was destined to lose, but fortunately the folks over there were taking it very easy on me so my team ended up victorious. I was immediately taken with the multiplayer support in Front Mission Evolved. The match was set in the midst of a city and my team was attempting to hold down a turret fortification in a large clearing. As the enemy Wanzers came at us, we did our best to hold off the assaults and defend the turret, though we did lose control of it several times. The only reason I actually stayed alive during this match was thanks to the efforts of one very devoted teammate that had a healing module mounted on his Wanzer. Medical robots for the win.

This multiplayer suite was extremely fast and very fun. The game not only has all the strategy that comes with a team-based shooter, but another layer of strategy can be found in customizing your Wanzer to suit the needs of the team. If, for example, my comrade didn’t have the healing module in place, I would have been in serious trouble.

Front Mission Evolved might not be the classic strategy experience that long-time fans would have wanted, but so far the game looks like fun and the multiplayer support has definite potential. If you’re a fan of giant robots like I am, I’d suggest keeping this one on your radar. (ign)

Published by: Square Enix
Developed by: Double Helix
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Release Date: US: September 28, 2010  , Japan: TBA
MSRP: $59.99
T for Teen: Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
Also Available On: PlayStation 3PC

Gearbox Now Owns Duke Nukem

Posted: September 6, 2010 in PC, Playstation 3, XBOX 360
Tags: , , ,

Duke Nukem Forever ScreenshotFollowing Friday’s big reveal that Gearbox Software is now finishing Duke Nukem Forever, the studio announced today it has purchased the full property rights of the Duke Nukem brand from its previous owner 3D Realms.

The deal includes Duke Nukem Forever and “all future projects.”

“The Gearbox Software team and I are ecstatic that we have grown to a position to be able to pick up and carry the torch and help Duke rise back to glory in his time of need,” Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford said. “Fans of the legendary hero and all the incredible talent that have ever helped him all deserve the very best support that we can bring.

“Please join me in supporting Duke in his triumphant return so that we may all enjoy the unique, one-in-million entertainment experience that only Duke Nukem can bring.”

3D Realms co-founders Scott Miller and George Broussard offered their comments on the deal in a press release saying Gearbox was the perfect fit for Duke.

“Gearbox was handpicked as the new home for Duke Nukem because of their continued passion, commitment and long-time heritage with the brand and 3D Realms. Gearbox and Duke Nukem make for a devastating match made in video game heaven,” said Miller.

“The gaming community’s love and demand for the Duke Nukem brand never wavered and Gearbox will not disappoint them. As you have seen from titles such as Borderlands, Gearbox will bring the right level of addictively compelling gameplay, humor and high powered explosive action to the franchise. Duke Nukem is back and will be bigger than ever.”

“Gearbox was the only home appropriate for the Duke Nukem brand,” Broussard added. “They are very talented and possess the perfect perspective and understanding of the brand. Their vision for its future direction is exciting and unbelievable.

“I am personally cannot wait for fans to see their unique take on the franchise. This will be a win-win situation for everyone involved, especially the fans.”

Duke Nukem Forever is currently set for release in 2011 for PlayStation 3, Xobx 360, and PC. Head over to our PAX 2010hub page to read about our latest impressions of the game. (ign)

Published by: 2K Games
Developed by: Gearbox Software3D Realms
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: US: “When it’s done” … in 2011
RP-M+ for Rating Pending
Also Available On: PC, Xbox360, PS 3