Tom was privy to an exclusive Aliens Colonial Marines walkthrough at GamesCom last month, but was sworn to silence by SEGA and Gearbox over what he saw inside their heavily armored booth. He did utter one, breathless word, however; awesome. How awesome, you might ask? Well, judge for yourselves, as SEGA have released the video in full! Over ten minutes of pure Colonial Marines gameplay, narrated by the ever-enthusiastic Randy Pitchford. It's fantastic.Click here to read more...
The Call of Juarez series offered a solid, if relatively unspectacular, action-packed representation of the 19th century gold rush frontier with its first two games (although I personally preferred Rockstar's Gun), but now developers Techland have decided to propel the gunslinging action of the Wild West into the modern day. It's a decision that caused a fair bit of controversy early on - the current drug-related lawlessness south of the Mexican border providing a very real, very present conflict indeed - but one that has allowed for a few interesting gameplay elements that Techland are hoping will elevate The Cartel into competition with, and get the jump on, a few of the big hitters later this year.
Techland are doing things a bit differently this time around, with The Cartel concentrating primarily on trying to offer what the developers have called 'Co-opetition'. The idea behind this delightful portmanteau concept is that The Cartel will offer 3 v 3 co-operative gameplay, with players taking on the roles of three law enforcement agents from three different departments: there's Ben McCall (an ancestral successor to Reverend Ray) from the LAPD, FBI agent Kim Evans and DEA officer Eddie Guerra.
Of course, anyone who's seen any American homeland thrillers will be able to guess that factional mistrust is most definitely the order of the day here: none of the agents trust one another and their parent agencies all have their own sneaky little agendas.Click here for headshot challenges and clandestine meetings...
It's been eight years since SSX 3...eight years! I haven't backflipped off of a mountain to some seriously loud Run-DMC in over half a decade! Some would call this criminal - that a series so unashamedly over the top and ridiculously fun that EA had to create a whole new stable for games of its ilk (EA Sports BIG) should have simply vanished from our lives. Of course, there might have been a reason for that, as Tony Hawk found out; but even the Birdman really had very little on the original SSX and its legacy. a wacky and wonderful, tongue-in-cheek mini-franchise that was really all about sticking a middle digit up at hipster arcade titles and going for absolute broke.
At least that's how I remember it, and a quick fire up of SSX 3 reassures me of that too. So it's a little disappointing to report that the reboot I held in my hands out in LA felt a bit too, well, normal. But normal doesn't necessarily mean bad...Find out what it does mean for the SSX reboot after the jump...
The North American games press have just voted to bring us the nominations for their picks of E3 2011. Why should you care? Well, the winners will be the ones with that little E3 sticker on the game’s box come release day. It’s a mark of pride that few review quotations can come close too.
Sony and EA lead the way with 14 nominations each, which leaves Microsoft and Nintendo looking pretty miserable. Bioshock Infinite and Uncharted 3 proved to be the most popular games with four nominations each.
Check out the full list of nominees below and click any of the links to be whisked away to our E3 coverage of that title. Feel free to add your own picks of E3 to the comments section too.Click here to read more...
Earth Defence Force 2017 was a truly ridiculous game. Sandlot's anarchic B-Movie shooter had the audacity to ship with a nasty engine and a veritable infestation of bugs when it launched four years ago, but because it decided to prioritise big fun and massive value over great graphics, it went down an absolute storm thanks to its negligible price tag. Its colourful pitched battles against overwhelming alien hordes are rivalled only by the Serious Sam series in terms of size and scope, and realising the gap in the market, Vicious Cycle have taken the reins and given the series another outing.
The basic premise is much the same. Players take on the role of an elite Earth Defence Force trooper who's been tasked with defending the planet from the extraterrestrial Ravagers. These aliens are ripped from the cheesiest sci-fi movies imaginable and gleefully deploy giant ants, enormous spiders and hilarious plodding robots onto the battlefield. Players will have a choice of over 300 weapons (accessed through an intuitive unlock screen as opposed to being doled out randomly in EDF 2017), vehicles and gear to fight back against the otherworldly aggressors, and are actively encouraged to use their ridiculous firepower to level entire city blocks that stand between them and their objective. The maps are absolutely enormous and every building can be casually destroyed on a whim. Lovely.
Click here to continue reading our EDF: Insect Armageddon preview!
We've put our weekly top ten lists on hold thanks to the staggering, throbbing amount of hands-on previews we've been pumping out... so it's only fair that we kick things off with a look at the Expo that was. Here are the ten most impressive games and reveals that caught our attention and make us glad to be gamers, along with links to our hands-on coverage where appropriate.
Let's do this thing!
How many idiots does it take to derail a fantastic press conference stuffed with juicy reveals? Just one. Ubisoft, seriously, you need developers to present your lineup, not gibbering marketing goons. Doobly doobly derpy dumb.
Embedded deep within Ubisoft's aforementioned presser, the Far Cry 3 reveal delivered the only genuine surprise of the entire expo. And what a surprise it was. Ubisoft have taken fan criticism to heart in order to create an open world game with true personality, masses of non linear choice and bags of colour.
Did I ever tell you... the definition... of insanity? As far as we're concerned, it's not being excited about Far Cry 3.
It's going to be another glorious day in the Corps!
A day in the Corps is like a day on the farm - especially when Gearbox have been given free rein to create a true sequel to one of (if not the) best movies of all time. Randy Pitchford led the demo walkthrough personally, and frankly, we're as excited as he is. We're in for some chop!Click here to see the best of E3 2011!
When early previews of Space Marine surfaced last year, one line in particular caught my eye: a response from a Relic rep to a question from Rock Paper Shotgun about whether or not the game - looking so much like Gears of War as the writer felt - would contain a cover system. To which the answer was, memorably, 'cover is for pussies'. They've been so many shooters placing you in the hands of...well...a space marine, that to finally have a game on the horizon aiming to be the very Platonic form of a space marine game might seem to herald an enormous facepalm. But fret not - having snuck in a brief hands-on session at E3, I can confirm that the rep was right, and this is shaping up to be a gory delight.
You play Captain Titus - voiced by Mark Strong (even the Space Marines' actors have to have badass names) - deployed with the Ultramarine second company on a forge world with the objective of sticking a spanner in the works of the latest Ork Waaagh (think the Crusades, but with monstrous beasts, less discipline and more alcoholism - if anyone has seen the South Park episode 'The Red Badge of Gayness', you'll have something of an idea...but much bigger). The Ultramarines have one real consideration: to fight and uphold the glory of the Imperium of Man...and the Imperium is is danger. It transpires that not only is the forge world used as a factory base for the Imperium's largest war machines - the Titans - but, as an Imperial Inquisitor reveals, there's something else on the planet's surface that cannot and must not fall into Ork hands.
That all sounds pretty epic, and the rep I talked to promised lots of twists and turns when I pressed for more information, but really that had absolutely no bearing on my demo whatsoever. There were a few objectives - mainly falling into the 'go here, press this button' category - but it was only a short demo, so I figured I'd try and wade as deeply into battle as I could and see if Relic have managed to capture the essence of what it means to be an Ultramarine.Click here to see if Space Marine is up to the task...
F1 2010 was last year's surprise racing hit. Codemasters' breakthrough title was the fastest-selling Formula One racing game of all time, the first UK number one for a Formula 1 title, won the BAFTA for Best Sports Game and was critically rated as highly as Gran Turismo 5... all of which is seriously impressive since F1 2010 started at the very back of the grid as a rank newcomer. A year on, however, Codemasters have to switch gears from the new kid in town to an established, polished racing presence.
Once we'd sat down with Senior Producer Paul Geal and designer Stephen Hood, they explained that F1 2011 would be more than just an update and that it would "overshadow" its predecessor in every conceivable way. Racing has changed massively over the last twelve months, and naturally F1 2011 will need to implement a number of important new features as well as improving the experence in terms of graphics and handling. We're going to have to get fairly technical for a while, so if you're not a huge fan of the sport, you'll be better off looking at the pretty pictures.
Click here to read Jon's F1 2011 hands-on preview >>
On the surface, Binary Domain might look like just another cover-based shooter. But, just as Platinum managed to inject a certain amount of Japanese stylings into a Western action model with last year's Vanquish, so too have directors Toshihiro Nagoshi (he of Yakuza fame) and Daisuke Sato taken what looks initially to be another title treading on Gears of War's toes and turned it into a fusion of sorts, with some interesting subject matter, an Eastern setting, a fully customisable squad system and voice control integration. We nabbed a look at a preview build back in LA last week and were pleasantly surprised by what we saw.
Binary Domain's plot is a mish-mash of all of your favourite sci-fi movies and books, so don't go in expecting too much by way of futuristic originality here, but what's there is interesting enough. The year is 2080 and, for some time now, robots have been pretty commonplace, generally used for menial tasks. The United States and Japan have further developed into technological superpowers, an international law decreeing that whilst artificial intelligence is welcome, the creation of robots in the likeness of Mankind is strictly forbidden. Of course, there's an incident (isn't there always?!), and it's discovered that a Japanese organisation has been manufacturing humanoid robots and the proverbial hits the fan.
Into this mess strides Dan Marshall, heading up a crack team of international soldiers, sent into Japan to infiltrate Tokyo, some a spot of recon, find out what the hell is going on and, if possible, put a stop to it. This squad-based dynamic is what sits at the heart of Binary Domain. In game you'll find things largely as you would in Epic's Lancer-toting franchise. Close, over-the-shoulder 3rd person action? Check. Four-way weapon menu? You bet. Snapping into sticky cover and giving basic orders to your team-mates? Naturally. But SEGA ring the changes before we even step out onto the battlefield.Click here to find out how SEGA are looking to set Binary Domain apart from the rest of the 3PS pack...
I actually may have giggled a bit with glee as I got to grips with Green Hill Zone in 3D on the show floor last week. But then again, it's one of the most iconic video game levels of all time, so warm glows of nostalgia are par for the course, really. You could be forgiven for thinking that nostalgia will be the only reason to pick up Sonic Generations when it hits the shelves later this year, but while Generations is pretty much a big, fat 'Best Of' to mark Sonic's 20th anniversary, it is by no means just a copy and paste job of level we've seen many, many times before.
Green Hill Zone is a perfect example. The levels have all been 'reimagined' to a certain degree, with all of the settings in the game - spanning the length and breadth of Sonic's career - playable in two different modes: Classic and Modern.Click here to find out why YOU should be glad Sonic is back!
We've been waiting a long time to rub our grubby mitts all over RAGE's sexy megatextures and luscious, inviting feature set [take a cold shower. Now. -Ed], and thankfully, id Software brought a whole batch of levels along to show us during E3 last week. As well as being able to play through a few of the previously-trailered stages such as the Garage, Well and Dead City, we were also finally allowed to get to grips with The Authority: the mysterious high-tech military outfit who provide the game's major antagonist. Rather than dwelling on the past, I'm going to cut straight to the juicy new stuff and my impressions about how the project is coming together.
The Authority Prison was the first major new reveal, and put players into the tight confines of a subterraneal holding facility in search of an incarcerated ally. As opposed to the cobbled-together squalor exhibited by most of RAGE's environments, the prison was chunky, industrial, steel-clad and pulsed with the thrum of machinery and electricity. It's a lot more reminiscent of id Software's usual industrial style, and to be honest, the level wouldn't have looked out of place in Doom 3. The high-tech setting also provided the opportunity to implement some laser grids that block player progress until their generator is located. Sticky EMP grenades will be your best friend against these generators, and can be cobbled together out of a few innocent household items. Expect plenty of find the generator and throw an EMP at it through a small hole in the wall puzzles, though the RC Car will provide a more imaginative method of dealing with these niggling barriers to progression.Click here to continue reading our RAGE hands-on preview! >>
Skyrim's E3 presence was a breath of fresh air and a tour de force of substance over style. Rather than relying on blaring rock music, blatantly scripted QTEs and gaudy explosions to lure in weak-minded fools, Bethesda's presentation was a meticulous technical demonstration of the new inventory system, dual-wielding mechanics and the Creation Engine's advanced capabilities. Many of my peers found the demo "boring" and used it as an opportunity to catch up on their correspondance (and their sleep, if a little snoring from the back of the theatre was to be believed), but for Elder Scrolls fans, it was nothing short of beardy bliss.
The demo level started out in a deep, snow-covered gully, where Skyrim's lead artist was keen to show us the true power of the Creation Engine. Running on the Xbox 360, the visuals were crisp, detailed and ambiently jawdropping even on the big screen. A bubbling, rippling river showcased improved water effects, and the stonkingly vast rendering distance and clipping plane allowed us to take a good look at the epic mountain ranges that form the backdrop to the action. These soaring peaks aren't just a skybox or prerendered texture, and being an Elder Scrolls game, we'll be able to ascend to the very top of the Throat Of The World if we so choose. Doing so will allow players to visit a powerful clan of Shout Magic users... but more on that later.
Dark Souls is Demon's Souls "2" in any sense of the number.
After sitting down with a few members of the dev team, executive producer Kei Hirono explained that Dark Souls was a spiritual sequel to Namco Bandai's cult sleeper hit in terms of mechanics and tone... but that it will "double everything." The number of enemies will double. The amount of weapons, armour and items will be multiplied by a factor of two. And, most importantly, so will the difficulty. Hirono freely admits - nay, boasts - that players will die twice as often in Dark Souls as they did in its, but that death is no longer the obstacle to progression it once was.
This is made possible by the new Bonfire checkpoint system that allows players to respawn without penalty after they die. As well as being dotted around the world, a small number of these checkpoints can be collected and tactically deployed before tough battles; removing the need for the laborious backtracking of the original. Searching for extra bonfires will significantly enhance the need for exploration and straying from the beaten track. There's also no Soul Form this time around - which is likely to be a divisive move that will split the fanbase down the middle.
Click here to continue reading our Dark Souls preview >>
Before I left for the City of Angels, I nominated Ace Combat: Assault Horizon as my most anticipated game of E3. As a huge fan of the franchise, I was excited to see what the next instalment has to offer... but more to the point, I was extremely worried about the new realistic and cinematic direction that the reboot is taking. I swore to grill any available members of the development team to find out exactly why Project Aces were taking this controversial new tack, and as luck would have it, I struck the motherlode.
Kazutoki Kono, the head of Project Aces and lead producer on the project, was on hand to greet me personally and offered me a full half hour of face time. After swapping some breathless fanboy gushing formalities, we got straight down to checking out a new demo that wasn't available on the show floor. This was an opportunity not to be missed.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon punches up the core flying experience by focusing on tight close combat and the new metal carnage dynamic (as merrily evidenced by recent trailers). The demo, however, showcased a very different set of mechanics as it puts players in the cockpit of a lumbering B-2 bomber. This enormous aircraft is much bigger than anything we've flown in Ace Combat games before, taking up a full half of the screen and handling with a sense of determined weight and heft. It doesn't pack a cannon or rockets, and has to rely on flares to shake pursuers along with tight support from wingmen. As the bomber inexorably droned towards a fortified enemy base, Kono revealed that the Assault Circle used for triggering cinematic in aerial engagements has been replaced by a devastating airstrike mode.Click here for the highway to the danger zone! >>
I felt a pang of disappointment shoot through me at the end of the Hitman: Absolution demo. I think we'd been spoiled by Deus Ex: HR's showing at Gamescom, you see; the one that demoed the same level three times just to show three completely different paths one could potentially take. It was therefore, having seen Agent 47 make a fair bit of noise in an old library, part of me absolutely needed to see it done again with a Silent Assassin rating just for piece of mind. Sadly the madcap timetable of frenzied appointments and booth bookings that is E3 did not allow for such luxuries and thus I felt a little disappointed leaving this particular preview session.
But only a little. IO Interactive have brought back everyone's favourite barcode-branded, bald angel of death, and he's pretty angry.
Mind you, you'd be fairly miffed if you were on the lam too, which is where we catch up with Codename 47. The police have tracked our Savile Row assassin to a closed library in the dead of night. The wind is howling around the building, torrential rain battering at the windows, and the boys in blue (and their flashlights) are everywhere.Agent 47's back! But is his return looking any good? Click here to find out...
There can be no real doubt that at the top of influential female gaming characters, Lara Croft sits pretty at the top of the list. Nintendo fans might argue for Princess Peach, but frankly she's a Stockholm Syndrome sufferer who does bugger all apart from merrily lead a witless plumber on an increasingly dangerous dance. I've never seen Peach scale a mountain or cap a dinosaur in the face, have you? Anyway, I'm digressing already, in the world of gaming power fantasy, Lara stands as a beacon - giving women the kickass role model they deserve whilst simultaneously being a pin up for gaming's male stereotype. Aloof, capable and exacting - let's just say she's ace for short - she could certainly teach that young upstart Nathan Drake a thing or two.
Although probably not any more.
Of all of Crystal Dynamics' ventures into the Tomb Raider series, I'm going to have to say that it was their last one - the almost-unofficial spin-off that was Lara Croft and the Guardians of Light - that seemed to play the best. Moving away from the traditional template for Lara's adventures, Guardians of Light was an isometric, co-operative action-puzzle-platformer that made use of a cracking physics engine and jettisoned Lara's trademark isolation to explore co-operative potential to great effect. Having inherited the series from Core around a third of the way through the last decade, one gets the feeling that studio's been itching to put their own stamp on proceedings. It is as if, bursting with ideas and concepts, CD have finally been fully handed the reins to the franchise. Which brings us to this game.Click here to find out why you really ought to be excited for Lara's return...
The original Prey released back in 2006, and those of you who actually bought it will remember that it took an innovative new slant on the alien abduction model. Unwitting Native American mechanic-turned-hero Domasi "Tommy" Tawodi became the literal prey against a race of ravening extraterrestrial maruaders while incarcerated in the cavernous bowels of their mothership. Prey's recently-announced sequel, on the other hand, plans to explore the other side of the predator/prey relationship by casting its lead character as a futuristic bounty hunter in a gritty, open alien world (yay!). Who suffers from amnesia (boo).
Killian Samuels is a US Marshall on the trail of a fugitive when the ill-fated Flight 6401 is swept up in the events of the first game. After waking up on the surface of an alien world, he exchanges fire with some mysterious armoured assailants and is quickly subdued by a vicious electrical bolas. Regaining consciousness, Killian realises that he's been on the planet for several years and carved himself a reputation as a fearsome vigilante bounty hunter. Discovering exactly how he did so, whether he'll ever be able to return to Earth along with the reasons behind his latest bout of amnesia will provide the driving force behind the game's storyline. And apparently he'll meet Tommy along the way.
Making a sequel to one of this generation's niche shooters couldn't have been an easy decision, but from what I got to see at E3, it's a decision that's about to pay off in spades.Click here to read more...
The Brothers In Arms series prides authenticity above all else; dwelling on the horrific reality of World War II along with the visceral thrills of taking part in its major battles. Furious 4, though, is definitely the black sheep of the family. Instead of focusing on raw historical facts, Gearbox's upcoming shooter takes its inspiration from the exaggerated tall tales that soldiers swap to keep their morale up. The Furious Four are a larger than life commando troop that excels at brutal, ridiculous and balls-out epic engagements... and though their exploits are the stuff of chinese whispers, their adventures make for seriously visceral gameplay.
As evidenced by the reveal trailer embedded deep within the Ubisoft Press Conference, the four members of the assault troop are all potent and relevant in combat, but possess different weapons and abilities. The Native American Chok hurls deadly tomahawks and sets traps for unwary foes, while Crocket acts as a "finisher" with his flamethrower and cattle prod (yet has trouble dealing with foes at extreme range). However, behind the closed doors of the Ubisoft press area, the biggest screen and the bulk of our attention was directed towards Montana: the team's flanker.
Montana's default minigun and shotgun deliver a double punch of sustained and close-quarters firepower, and just to round things off, a powerful chainsaw is more than capable of severing enemies cleanly in half. Which becomes rather whimsical when coupled with the adorable smiley face reticle for close combat dismemberment.
The demo level on show depicted a German town in the festive grip of Oktoberfest. The streets thronged with bunting and crowds. The sound of children's laughter and jollity echoed on the breeze. A huge funfair loomed gaily over the small hamlet, bathing it in warm, friendly light. And the Furious 4 had arrived to butcher Hitler and slaughter every last living solider in the village. Bring it! Cue the rock music.Click here to continue reading Jon's Furious 4 preview! >>
Mere words cannot adequately describe how shocked, confused and disappointed the gaming community became when 2K Marin announced that they were interpreting the venerable X-COM franchise as a linear first person shooter with investigation and survival horror elements. What were they thinking? How could they get it so utterly and completely wrong? Why, 2K? Why?! The pre-E3 trailer did little to clear up the situation, instead intoducing some brightly-lit cover combat sections that seemed at odds with the moody visual style they were shooting for. With the burning need to know more throbbing at the front of my mind, I sat down in their lavishly-appointed demo theatre... where 2K Marin wasted no time in admitting that they'd made a huge mistake.
X-COM isn't about tight scripting and gunplay, they explained. The series hinged upon high strategy and non-linear decision making, and after stepping back and looking at the project objectively, they realised that they'd have to go back to the drawing board in order to do it justice. The first person perspective has remained, but now the action takes a back seat to clever tactical play and the ability to fight the campaign against the otherworldly Outsiders on your terms.
My cynicism and suspicion soon turned into cautious optimism and excitement after watching the demo, and I'll attempt to explain exactly why.
Click here to read more...
Batman: Arkham Asylum is easily one of this generation's best brawlers; making fantastic use of Batman's rich mythology, license and setting to create a truly superior stealth action hybrid. The open-world sequel ranks amongst many gamers' most anticipated games of the year, and from what I got to play during my hands-on session at E3, Arkham City richly deserves its preorders.
Perched high on the rooftops overlooking Arkham City, the caped crusader is duly filled in on the new state of affairs. Strange, the original warden of Arkham Asylum, has been given free reign by the government to expand the prison into a massive, sprawling ghetto where the criminals are free to form gangs and kill each other off, but the word on the street is that he's in league with the Joker and planning something huge. Batman is convinced that Catwoman will know more about the situation... but he'll need to locate her first.
This introduces us to the first new gadget: a radio frequency scanner that can tune into the various broadcasts dotted around the city. Doing so is as simple as bringing up a map and selecting the broadcast area upon which you plan to eavesdrop, and upon tuning into the nearest frequency, I was rewarded by some mellow easy listening from Gotham City radio. Undeterred, I selected the larger broadcast, which turned out to be an ongoing aerial reconnaissance on the courthouse building by the GCPD. Two Face's goons had successfully captured Catwoman after she stole some merchandise from them, and were planning to enact a sham trial and summary vengeance in order to cement their reputation as the most dangerous gang around. The police were ordered to stand down and let the situation run its course, but Batman correctly realised that he needed to free his erstwhile new ally from certain death in order to find out more about The Joker's machinations.BatClick here for the full Batman: Arkham City demo impressions! >>