Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Developers: Saber Interactive
Publishers: Namco Bandai
Ah, the gravity gun. The term almost makes you grin, etched as it is into the memory banks thanks to Half-Life 2's brilliant Ravenholm level. It's impossible not to feel a certain swell of optimism about a game that's looking to occasionally, and quite literally, flip things upside down, exploiting and manipulating the forces that keep us rooted to the spot, and bending familiar physics for a somewhat diverse gameplay palette.
In short, we tend to get a bit excited whenever the words "gravity gun" are mentioned. The phrase readies us for fun.
Namco Bandai proudly announced that their gravity-warping shooter - Inversion - took its cues from Gears of War throughout the game's development period, holding up Inception as another (rather misleading) basis for comparison too. The former's influence is clear to see: Inversion is a weighty third-person shooter; it offers a range of modes including SP, co-op, MP, and a horde mode of sorts; the main antagonists - the Lutadore - can look and sound a little too much like another aggressive alien race beginning with L; it's a game that has more testosterone than a protein shake that's been stirred with a sweaty jockstrap.Click here to read more...
This week we take a look at the past six months, some of the highlights, some of the disappointments. We talk about our recent top ten and some of the games that didn't quite make the list, and look forward to a future six months that are rammed with promising games.
PWNCAST | Season 1: Episode 22, Recorded: July 19th, 2012
Some of the things that get covered this week:
...and much, much more.
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.
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Doing this week's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD review got me thinking about some of the other extreme sports titles that have come and gone over the years. Some were great (SSX), other were ok (Shaun White's Snowboarding), and some were absolutely awful. Welcome, BMX XXX!
Buoyed by reaping the profits and cashing in on the burgeoning Xgames market with Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX series, Acclaim wanted more. Sadly, though, rumour has it that the follow up was shaping up to be utter balls, and so, in an attempt to somehow salvage the nosediving product, reports suggest that the publisher made a decision to throw caution to the wind and transform the game into a raunchy sex comedy.
Developers, take note. This is generally a terrible idea. Especially in an industry that has been unfavourably associated with basements and masturbation. In a toss-up (Risky - Ed.) between making your game better and throwing in some tits, always go for the first option.Click here to read more...
This one is doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment. Stay tuned right to the end for a nice little twist. It's not as funny as the rather similar Amnesia vid, but it has its moments.
BEWARE: Definitely NSFW. Or children. Or your nan. Or probably anyone. Naughty words abound from the very start.
Platforms: PS3 (eventually) | Xbox 360 (Reviewed)
Typically speaking, HD reboots should be a chance to rediscover a classic game or series, and either learn, or simply revisit, the reasons why that game or series was worthy of remembering in the first place. The first four Tony Hawk games still have pride of place in my pantheon of nostalgia. It was 1999 when the first game came out. Ska punk was in its element, baggy jeans were in, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater helped to push skateboarding and skateboard culture into the mainstream.
I remember playing the demo for hours over at a friend's house. Two minutes, the Chicago skatepark, highest score wins. Go! It was beautiful in its purity: the controls were fantastically tight, the physics perfectly exaggerated, and the level provided cracking verticality. The incongruous mission directives and collectibles would come later, but already we were scouring the rafters for grinding opportunities, and wondering how we could scale those heights. The start for me was always the same: nosegrind-kickflip-boardslide on the two-level rail at the start, and then a spiralling indy nosebone off of the quarterpipe, spinning off to the left to nail the gap trick and land safely in the adjacent halfpipe.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD does much to strive for a return to that purity by combinig levels and mechanics from the first two games inthe series. The first excellent thing that Robomodo have done is dial back the years. Ok, so the spine transfers of THPS4 and the reverts of THPS3 would have been nice, but the early levels weren't built for such things really. In fact, by removing them from the game, Robomodo have shown just how lazy we've become. The earliest titles were all about picking the perfect line, restarting runs only a handful of seconds in, and always, always weighing up risk against reward. In that respect, this HD redux nails the hardcore aspects of the games that started it all.Click here to find out how THPS HD goes on a downhill jam from there...
A handful of new images from Frogwares and FHI's upcoming adventure The Testament of Sherlock Holmes have surfaced, revealing the alive-and-well detective in the middle of an investigation with the ever-reliable Watson.Click here to read more...
Ubisoft have taken the shackles off of the camera in an attempt to answer some of the burning questions and concerns that Splinter Cell fans may have had over the upcoming SC Blacklist. This dev diary takes a look at the gameplay, and the different approaches to the levels that Fisher can take, along with some notes on combat, setting, and a whole lot more.
Blacklist is out next spring on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.Click here to read more...
Wondering why Dead Space 3 has shifted tone somewhat to chuck in a co-op mode? Well apparently it's because people were too scared to play the first two games on their own.
Yep, that's right. Visceral made Dead Space and its sequel just a bit too scary.Click here to read more...
Ever wanted to know how to kill a mythological bald man with a penchant for gutting people like a fish? It's simple. Just become a woman.
Joking aside, SCE Santa Monica have opened up about their stance of violence in the God of War series, responding to questions over where they choose to draw the line in their latest game following a bloodthirsty E3.Click here to read more...
David Perry is a happy man. He's just sold his cloud gaming baby - Gaikai - to Sony for $380 million. That's enough to make anyone happy. But the deal will be good for everyone, Perry points out, especially publishers.Click here to read more...
Satori Iwata has stated that being the first of the big three to release a next-gen is not important at all, highlighting the console environment and pointing towards pricing and unique features as more important considerations.Click here to read more...
Developers: Level-5 | Studio Ghibli
Publishers: Namco Bandai
Playing Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is an activity that requires the gamer to constantly pinch themselves in order to make absolutely certain that they aren't dreaming. In a day and age where we told by publishers and platform holders that we have to pay a high price for everything, where mainstream gaming milks its audience for every last drop, where we're told that we can't possibly be allowed nice things, that we're stupid, and violent, and need to be constantly stimulated every 5 seconds for fear...it's heartwarming enough that such a wonderful union has blossomed.
Studio Ghibli and Level-5 sitting in a tree.
As with most relationships, high drama tends to hide the simple matter of asking someone out. In this case, Level-5 had the early concepts for a game, and they asked Studio Ghibli if they fancied collaborating on it.
The story is all Level-5, though it's clear where they've drawn their inspiration from. The game opens with protagonist Oliver running around his little home town, picking up groceries, and concocting the sorts of adventurous plans with his best friend that young boys do - the sort that will invariably result in danger, grazed knees, and a worried mother. Slipping out of his house after dark, the boys' experiment has terribly tragic consequences, and Oliver is left inconsolable at the loss of someone close to him, crying rivers at the result of his folly.Click here to read more...
There was a time before The Great Footballing Schism. Long before Sports Interactive peeled off from Eidos to monopolise the sphere of football management simulation, there was a little shareware game orbiting around in 1995. A game that let you do pretty much everything you wanted.This was a game that knew of football's darker sides, and the suited and booted trials and tribulations that a manager had to face. It wasn't all Umbro tracksuits and plastic cones for goalposts. Sometimes you had to stick on a tie and get your noses dirty.
Ultimate Soccer Manager released in '95 for DOS, Amiga, and Win95, as a shareware title doing the rounds with a fully-fledged demo that allowed you do play your way up from Division 2 as Brighton and Hove Albion. I discovered it stuck to the front of a magazine (I forget which one exactly), housed in a light grey floppy disk, with a green sticker displaying a bespectacled chairman on the front.
I immediately fell in love with it. I didn't have anything to compare it too at that stage, to be honest. It was only later that I picked up Championship Manager 2, once you could nab it for a couple of quid from Argos, and thus my tactician's brain was moulded by Impressions and Sierra.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS3 (version tested) | Xbox 360 | Wii U | Arcade
Developers: Namco Bandai
Publishers: Namco Bandai
One of the disadvantages of being a dogsbody games journalist who likes a few too many genres is that, unlike Hermione Granger, time is limited. The days when I could happily pour hundreds of hours into specialist fighting games and take on all-comers (locally, of course, these were the days before broadband) are long gone. It's been twelve years since the original Tekken Tag Tournament turned up as the PS2's killer launch title, and I still have a pang of satisfaction from remembering how a friend bought the bundle on day one, and then lost ten games in a row to me. Back in those days that was enough.
Of course that wouldn't happen any more. The reflexes are gone, the combos have dribbled out from my brain. My old arcade stick sleeps in the attic, preferring to remain a dusty link to the past than allow me to run my now-amateurish hands over its buttons. Practice makes perfect, you see, and my mind had wandered off to other places, other genres, and other games. I though I was pretty good at fighting games.
Skullgirls disabused me of that notion this year.
But Namco Bandai are looking to lower the barrier of entry when it comes to Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and this is where the new Fight Lab feature makes its mark: providing a fun tutorial and training mode that not only walks newcomers through the basics, but also allows players to come away with a new playable fighter, customised to their on preferred style of play.Click here to read more...
Developers: Namco Tales Studio
Publishers: Namco Bandai
The traditional JRPG has fallen relatively far from grace when it comes to Western opinion on the matter, as shades of momentous games from ages past dribble out of Japan to wend their way across continents, only to be met with disappointment and unfavourable comparisons.
But in many ways, the JRPG is a genre beset by critical contradictions.There seems to be a constant urge from Western audiences and their cultural arbiters for modernisation - cries for refreshed formulae, new gameplay mechanics, and an acknowledgement that time has moved on since the 90s heyday of the genre. Of course, such experimentation is then met with bafflement and comparisons to those pillars of the past from whose shadows these current-gen JRPGs are supposedly trying to escape.
The latest instalment of the Tales series might not seem to elevate itself above the pack at first. Having played through the first three hours at Namco Bandai HQ, a sceptic could be forgiven for letting out a slight groan at first. The game kicks off in the company of young Asbel Lhant - heir to the estate of that same name, and a headstrong pain in his father's backside. A rebellious youth and a truant, with a nose for danger and disobeying his parents, he forms the central point of focus in a group of childhood friends that includes his little brother Hubert, barely concealed love interest Cheria, and a striking amnesiac whom Asbel finds out on the cliffs one day.Click here to read more...
Ah user reviews. They've become something of a comedic at form, as well as providing ample fodder for swift internet justice if, for example, a video of you blocking weekend traffic in an old Roman town with shitty parking turns up on YouTube.
Anyway, this one is particularly funny, as it sees the Lord of Terror reviewing his own game.
And it's excellent. (Click to enlarge)