Developers: Klei Entertainment
Publishers: Microsoft Studios
If you own an Xbox 360, if you're a fan of stealth games, if you've been craving a ninja game that encourages you to play like a shadowy assassin - silent and deadly, go and buy Mark of the Ninja now.
Shank an its sequel were good solid fun, but Klei have outdone themselves here. Eschewing the blood-splattered titles from the likes of SEGA and Team Ninja, Klei have honed in on one very simple aspect of the ninja credo: stay out of sight. So it is that Mark of the Ninja takes the form of a 2D side-scrolling platform-puzzler rather than a button-mashing action-packed slaughterfest.
And it's all the better for it.
It's a game that's easy to identify as a stablemate of Shank, though mainly for aesthetic reasons. The cel-shaded, cartoon looks and the gory splashes off crimson that were to be found in Klei's earlier action title are mirrored here, albeit with a different colour scheme. The monochromatic palette so brilliantly worked in the likes of Limbo - and, to be fair, Deadlight too, at least in parts - makes a return, as light and shadow feature heavily in the game's mechanisms as one might expect; but there are some beautifully rendered urban backdrops and lantern-spotted pagodas for our titular ninja to acrobatically skip in front of as his story unfolds. Not that you'll notice them, of course, being too intently focused on navigating your way through the latest frame to admire the scenery.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (version tested)
Developers: Firaxis Games
Publishers: 2K Games
I'm playing a game with the phrase XCOM in the title and there's an Xbox 360 controller in my hands. That's not right. Strategy games don't work on consoles, at least not with any particular amount of depth. The phrase 'console strategy game' is something of an oxymoron, surely?
Well it rather depends in what context one is using the term 'strategy game'. For starters, turn-based strategy has been doing absolutely fine on platforms other than the PC, thankyouverymuch, and we've come a long way since UFO: Enemy Unknown back in 1994. That it's been nearly two decades since the original PC classic is absolutely crucial. This is not a remake, that cannot be stressed enough. The original is available on Steam right now, and it's still very much a cracking game - but it's also most definitely a game of its time. Firaxis, then, have eschewed the straightforward remake, instead breaking the structure of the game down into component parts, polishing them up, throwing away or upgrading bits that have perhaps rusted over time, and reassembled those integral elements to create what's looking to be an astounding homage.
Yet, although the game trades undeniably on nostalgia, with plenty for old school fans to revel in, Firaxis are fully aware that those die-hard fans are not enough. A game like this needs a bigger audience, and who would begrudge a studio with such a fine history in this genre the opportunity to put their game in front of as many people as possible. For that, as Lead Producer Garth DeAngelis explains, the studio needed to look towards console. Why can't there be a triple-A TBS game on consoles these days?
"UFO Defense was more of a classic PC title than anything else," DeAngelis told Dealspwn at Gamescom, "but we sat down at the beginning of the project and said 'We want to make the best game possible regardless of platform, and basically we love this franchise so much that we want as many people playing this game as possible too'. That means we can't just release it on PC. There are millions of gamers who we feel are waiting for something special on console, for a breath of fresh air unlike anything they've played on those systems before.
"There are a lot of shooters and action titles on the market, and we take certain cinematic elements from those games, like the over-the-shoulder viewpoint, and the cameras sweeping down onto the battlefield, but the depth in terms of gameplay, we wanted more than just super-hardcore PC fans to play that. It's a very deep game, it's a big game, and we think that there's an audience for a game of this magnitude. We looked at games like Skyrim and Dead Souls, and these are games that have sold really well on consoles, and we think we can provide another large experience to that demographic. So we approached it holistically, not just on mouse and keyboard, and split up the team, and the UI guys did a fantastic job of mapping the controls to the gamepad, and it feels natural whatever you're playing it on."Click here to read more...
I emerged from the Nintendo Wii U presentation yesterday with a sense of anticipation that I'd previously never had. Although Jon was at E3 and fervently defended Nintendo's upcoming console against the broad scepticism exhibited by myself and Carl, tat enthusiasm failed to prove infectious for this writer in the long run. I'll be honest: ZombiU looks interesting to me, but it's certainly not a console seller in my book. Nintendo Land will suffice in the short term as an introduction to the console but will hardly prove the simple-yet-vastly-effective gaming one stop that Wii Sports did on the Wii U's predecessor. I couldn't be more apathetic towards New Super Mario Bros. U if I tried.
So why the cautious excitement?
Well it's partly because the Wii U shows every sign of being a combination of the Wii's two greatest achievements: a reserve for the innovatively casual and quirky, and a domain for niche titles that no one else will have and that I really want. Nintendo Land is something I really want to experience properly, in spite of all my criticisms, I want it in my hands for a good few hours. It looks fun, feels fun, will be completely throwaway, but that's ok. Mario is the man that Nintendo will turn to for deeper investment, and even there they promised that NSMBU will provide entertainment for newcomers and veterans alike. The party-esque multiplayer gameplay will be balanced out by reams of challenge modes. "So you think you're good at Mario games?" Shibata-san said, with the gameplay footage suggesting that players will finally have the chance to prove it.Click here to read more...
Following Nintendo's Wii U presentation earlier today, we take a look at the freshly announced release dates, ruminate on the EU pricing, and discuss the launch window lineup.
Be warned, this podcast may contain large amounts of Platinum love.
NB. Please be aware that this was recorded immediately after the press conference and therefore doesn't take recent pricing revelations into consideration.
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be quite a few instances of strong language.
Click the banner at the top to play the file, or right click and select 'Save Link As' to download the file onto your hard drive.
Ah the exchange rate...so reliably ignored by console manufacturers. Nintendo completely failed to announce a price point for the Wii U during their Nintendo Direct broadcast earlier today, but early retailer pricing is putting the Basic package around the £250 mark, with the Premium pack up around £280-300, and the ZombiU bundle at about £320.Click here to read more...
Rayman Legends is looking so damn good, and following Nintendo's Wii U presentation there are a couple of vids that you might want to stick in your eyes. The first is the Gamescom trailer looking at the gorgeous art style, the peerless platforming, and how the game will take advantage of the Wii U's unique features. The second is an interview with Michel Ancel.
Rayman Legends will be released alongside the console at launch.Click here to read more...
Don't throw away your Wii accessories yet folks!
Nintendo have announced that "nearly all Wii peripherals will be compatible with the Wii U console", so Wii owners won’t need to repurchase peripherals they already own.
However, if you never bought Nintendo's original vanilla box, but rather fancy this new one, Ninty have created a Wii Remote Plus Additional Set containing a Wii Remote Plus controller, Nunchuk and sensor bar. Most Wii download software is also compatible with Wii U, meaning previously purchased WiiWare and Virtual Console titles will be transferable to the Wii U console.
No word on exceptions just yet, mind.
North America an Europe will be getting simultaneous release of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Wii U and 3DS next March, with Capcom’s Ryozo Tsujimoto revealing that the game will support cros play of sorts across the two devices. Not only will Wii U and 3DS players be able to go hunting alongside one another, but it'll be possible to play at home on Wii U and continue the save file on the go with the Nintendo 3DS version of the game.
Thank god Kojima's "transfarring" phrase didn't catch on.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is on there, as is Aliens: Colonial Marines, although it's important to note the phrase "launch window" as that'll cover a period up to Spring 2013.
Having gone hands-on with XCOM: Enemy Unknown beforehand, we sat down with Garth DeAngelis a few weeks back to talk about the upcoming turn-based strategy title from Firaxis, and chatted about how you combine reimagining a hardcore PC classic into a modern-day titles suitable for all-comers.
Matt Gardner (Dealspwn): What did it mean to Firaxis to take on a series with such a rich heritage?
Garth DeAngelis (Lead Producer, XCOM: Enemy Unknown): I's almost like an aligning of the stars. It really made a lot of sense for this company, with such a deep history in terms of turn-based strategy gaming, to help usher this series into the modern day. I know the company is very excited.
Matt Gardner: Of course, much of the core game has been retained, but there are some elements that have been discarded. How have you gone about deciding which bits should stay, and which should go?
Garth DeAngelis: We have a dartboard in the office, and we put all of the mechanics on there and just threw... [Laughs] I wish I could say that it was a science, but it wasn't really. There were certain gameplay pillars that our design team wanted right from the beginning, they took that original game apart and said “Ok, this is what made UFO Defense so special”. Things like having a high level strategy with research and engineering; we have to have a turn-based combat model with destructible environments, fog of war, permanent death; we need the classic aliens. There was a laundry list of those classic features we had to have. But as we moved through the development process and began prototyping, we began to realise that we wanted to reimagine it rather than remake it, and some of the mechanics lying underneath each of those things have changed.
So game design, game narrative, these are things that have evolved over time, and we felt it was important to incorporate some features that have been pushed to the forefront over the last few years, and perhaps do things that might not have been possible all of those years ago. You can still buy the original game, so making a carbon copy would have been pointless, and why not use the collective knowledge and experience gained in that time to really push for something special?Click here to read more...
We had a slew of details from the Japanese video this morning as Nintendo detailed their Japanese release plans for the Wii U, and now at 3pm BST it'll be the West's turn.
North American fans can tune in here, but we've got the livestream for the European video right here onsite. This morning's figures put the price of the Premium console around the £250 mark, but as is so often the case, console lauches often completely ignore exchange rates, so figures crossed that number doesn't go much higher.
You'll be able to keep up with the news bulletins right here, and we'll be doing a PWNcast Extra to discuss the announcements to air later this week.Hit the jump to watch the Nintendo Direct Wii U ppresentation...
SEGA have dropped a pre-order trailer for Aliens: Colonial Marines that calls on players to follow in the footsteps of legends. Hudson Drake, Hicks, and Apone all get shoutouts, along with a little teaser for Ripley's flamethrower.
Aliens: Colonial Marines emerges next February on PC, PS3, Wii U, and Xbox 360.
Wondering what will distinguish Connor from Ezio? Well, wonder no more, friends! Ubisoft have released another video that takes an intimate look at Assassin's Creed III's half Mohawk-half British protagonist.Click here to read more...
Garth DeAngelis, the lead producer on XCOM: Enemy Unknown, has suggested that accessibility doesn't need to be "a bad word", suggesting that looking to widen the audience for your game and designing a hardcore experience are not two mutually exclusive goals.Click here to read more...
As well as revealing the Japannese release date and pricing, not to mention the price points for two of the first-party launch titles, Satoru Iwata also lifted the lid on a couple of system specs.
The Wii will come with 2GB of memory, 1GB for system memory plus 1GB for games. Moreover, the console will use its own optical disc format, with discs able to hold up to 25GB of data. The Wii U will sport a 22.5 MB/sec disc read rate.
As well as announcing the drop date and pricing for the Wii U in Japan, Nintendo also revealed pricing for launch titles New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land in Japan.Click here to read more...