In the first part of our Borderlands 2 preview, we covered the Siren's deadly new class skills, the revamped interface and the all-important boomsticks. However, our hands-on time with Gearbox's upcoming sequel introduced us to Pandora's new and deadly selection of foes and natural hazards - running the gamut from cutting edge robots to disgusting polyp-extruding Varkid. When we last left our heroes (or more accurately, me playing as the Siren Maya backed up by a Gunzerker), the veteran Hunter Mordekai tasked us with rescuing his beloved pet Bloodwing from the clutches of Handsome Jack's Hyperion Corporation.
Bloodwing was secreted away in a fortified wildlife reserve, but to get there, we had to fight our way through a Hyperion staging area. The industrial titan boasts a range of re-purposed mining robots deployed from their moon base headquarters, with several different variants that pose unique challenges when encountered in a group. Menacing yellow PWR Loaders (somewhat obviously) resemble automated Power Loaders from Aliens, but sport wicked helicopter-like blades on each arm that spin at massive speeds, deflecting incoming firepower unless you're able to flank or Phaselock them during their slow yet relentless advance.
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Publisher: 2K Games
There ain't no rest for the wicked. Far from receiving a hero's welcome after destroying the greatest threat Pandora has ever known, the original four vault hunters became wanted criminals as Handsome Jack and his Hyperion Corporation took credit for their monumental achievement. The corporate juggernaut is now a powerful private army led by an egomaniacal madman with a fake face disturbingly stapled to his cranium, and it's up to a new quartet of heroes to assist their predecessors and take back Pandora.
As Borderlands fans to a man (it's an office favourite), we've been desperate to learn more about the sequel ever since we saw it in action last year... and naturally jumped at the chance to get a first hands-on with the anticipated 'FPSRPG.' Suffice to say that after rigourously testing Borderlands 2 for an hour, I had to be physically prised off of the controller by two burly 2K reps and a Bandit cosplayer, desperately pleading for more time all the while.
But you didn't come here for the breathless blithering of a starstruck fan. You browsed over to Dealspwn.com for a rigorous, play-by-play stripdown of sixty minutes of contact time. You're here to learn about the Siren's skills, the powerful new enemies, returning characters and surprising new environments, illustrated with brand new screenshots. And we'll deliver - so much, in fact, that we've had to split the article into two parts. Let's do this thing.
It's go time! >>
To say that Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford is extremely proud of Aliens: Colonial Marines would be an understatement of staggering proportions. Like most red-blooded males, he's a rabid fan of the seminal (and for our money, superior) Sci-Fi epic... and Colonial Marines is nothing less than a full sequel to the film. That's right: Gearbox has collaborated with 20th Century Fox to secure every storyboard, design sketch and discarded screenplay segment to create a genuine part of the Aliens canon. It's a reminder of how important our medium has become, and to demonstrate how thrilled he is about the upcoming shooter, Pitchford excitedly talked us through a level behind the closed doors of a replica drop pod.
Before starting the demo, Pitchford explained that the games industry has been “stealing” from Aliens for dozens of years, and that even he has pinched the best bits of the classic Sci-Fi romp throughout his career at 3D Realms and Gearbox. Half Life's headcrabs are essentially Facehuggers. Countless games use corrupted, cramped industrial environments as settings and chelicerate, animalistic xenomorphs as adversaries. Halo's art style is unashamedly lifted directly from Aliens (which Bungie freely admits), and don't forget that our beloved Sergeant Johnson is a loving ripoff homage to Sergeant Apone. Oh, and one of their achievements is a quote from the film. It's therefore high time that gaming gave something back to the movie that started it all... so Aliens: Colonial Marines is gearing up to give it the direct sequel it deserves.
Gearbox couldn't be more thrilled about the project. And after seeing the demo, neither could we.Click here to continue reading our Colonial Marines preview!
Indie outfit Charlie's Games are hard at work on Irukandji 2: the sequel to the critically-acclaimed and visually impressive PC/Mac shooter. Apparently the project started life as a testing app for their current project, Scoregasm, which is set for imminent release. In an effort to get some bug reports, testing and user feedback, Charlie has released the first level of Irukandji 2 as a free download. The file contains executables for Windows, OSX and Linux - so quite frankly, you have no excuse to download it, try it out and let the developers know what you make of the experience.
Get it here. Be sure to note that you can change the resolution by tinkering around with a .txt file!
Rather than traditional keyboard inputs, Irukandji 2 features extremely responsive mouse controls that make grazing past bullets for bonus points an absolute breeze. Quite frankly, I may actually have trouble getting used to twinsticks again.
The original Portal is rightfully hailed as being one of the finest games ever made, and a follow-up was inevitable. Portal 2 is one of the most anticipated titles of 2011, and we were delighted to play through its opening levels at a recent EA showcase in order to test out its new setting and tweaked mechanics in action. For the record, I tested it on a PS3 - which Valve promises will be the superior version.
Before we continue, dear reader, be aware that I'll be essentially recounting the first twenty minutes of Portal 2. Consider this a major spoiler alert, and purists might be better off reading Dave's less obtrusive look at Valve's emergent masterpiece that focuses on analysis rather than description.
Click here for a spoileriffic look at Portal 2's first twenty minutes...
SOCOM 4 was one of the first action games to confirm compatibility with Playstation Move, but the likes of Killzone 3 and Heavy Rain have managed to eclipse it from the headlines over the last couple of months. Many cynics have doubted whether Sony's new peripheral will really add much to the third person genre or action games in general... but after twenty minutes, my own negative preconceptions came under withering fire.
Much like a fair few Wii games out there, the Playstation Move controller provides 1:1 manipulation of an on-screen reticle that can rotate the point of view when moved to the edges of the screen. Players can zoom in to aim by holding down the central M0ve button and squeeze off shots with the trigger. The circle button allows players to snap into cover- and whilst this is currently a little too stolid and clunky for my liking, the overall principle works like a charm. Popping out of cover and nailing enemies with precise bursts of fire is intensely satisfying- and feels much like a lightgun shooter at times. On the flipside, it takes a little while to get used to the new setup (especially learning that L1 isn't the aim button anymore) and- on a personal note- the reload button is uncomfortably far away from my thumb when I'm holding the Move controller. These are small peeves when compared to how intuitive the experience turned out, and I was honestly surprised at how much fun I was having.Read on for squad commands and a little nitpicking!
What's there to say about Gran Turismo 5? You've all seen the trailers. You've all complained about the wait. You've all made your minds up about whether or not you'll be buying it. Still, you'd all moan if I came from Gamescom without getting some quality time with Yamauchi's epic racer... and suffice to say, it's shaping up to be the best pure racer ever. For better or for worse.
Yamauchi brought the latest code along to the show (since the team will be polishing it right up to the wire)- and clambering into a comfortable pod with a force feedback steering wheel, I finally began to see what all the fuss was about.Click here to get to grips with the "real driving simulator"!
I've been playing a lot of shooters at this year's Gamescom- and will be playing a whole lot more before the conference ends. Quite frankly, I was starting to crave something other than bleak wartorn environments and noscope headshots... so when Nordic Games invited me along to try out the new Robbie Williams-branded version of We Sing I was genuinely looking forward to the breath of fresh air.
After picking my way through the bewildering labyrinth of lavish industry booths and suited figures behind the Business Centre doors, I was shown into the Nordic centre booth with low expectations and a creeping sense of dread. However, I'm delighted to report that I left with a beaming smile on my face. After some hands on time, a dignity-smashing singalong and a developer chat we're convinced that it's almost certainly worth checking out by Robbie fans. And to be honest, it's a guilty party pleasure in its own right.Click here to read on... if you're a Robbie Williams fan!
Gun to my head, I have to say that FPS is my favourite gaming genre. All pretensions to an retro SHMUP heritage aside, I'm a massive fan of shooting stuff with as large a gun as possible, so naturally I've been getting worryingly excited about Brink. Splash Damage are putting the finishing touches to a fairly nifty little title- and so it would've been very rude to not stop by Bethesda's booth and try it out for myself.
As you're probably aware, Brink is a team-based FPS that pits Security forces against a team of desperate resistance fighters in a desperate attempt to squash (or ignite) a bitter civil war. Several classes provide nuanced options for even jaded FPS veterans to choose from including beefy heavy gunners, nippy agents (who are more than capable of bushwhacking the opposition by climbing over obstacles), engineers and medics. Most gratifyingly, each class can access almost every weapon and is viable in combat in their own right- but with nifty little abilities that can turn the tide in a pinch. I played as our team's only Medic- and whilst my customised assault rifle ripped through the opposision (more on that later), I was also able to revive fallen comrades and even throw a medicine grenade that heals multiple downed teammates and puts them back in the fight.
The 'S.M.A.R.T.' freerunning mechanic is used to sprint, vault and climb over small obstacles- and works surprisingly well. Holding the left bumper and running forwards causes you to. The agent is capable of enhanced feats of athleticism and speed and can chain jumps between ledges much easier than the other classes. It's a slick way of getting around and provides a nausea-free viewing experience that Mirror's Edge unfortunately didn't quite manage to capture.
The character customisation is impressively deep and well-featured. Even though mein Deutsch is a little rusty, I was quickly able to get the gist of things fairly quickly. Your character (both for the lawkeepers and rebels) can be cosmetically changed in myriad different ways including tattoos, voice packs, faces and clothing. Weapons, are much more exciting, though, and as a bit of a virtual gun nut, I spent an overly long amount of time pimping my beefy machinegun with a decent clip, silencer and scope. New weapons/modifications are unlocked as you gain points and rank up- (and are likely to become a new obsession of mine).
Graphically, Brink is unremarkable. The level on show consisted of drab brown corridors and rusty metalwork, occasionally demonstrating some jaggy edges, mediocre texturing and a little mistyness that may well belie a fairly short draw distance. On the other hand, it ran smooth as silk and felt refreshingly solid even in 8 vs 8 multiplayer. Brink doesn't look bad... and so long as I can kill things without lag or a stuttering framerate, I really couldn't care less about the graphical feature set.
Right, let's talk gametypes. Rather than a straight team deathmatch or capture the flag, the forces of law and order have to escort a large drilling machine through a warren of containers and tunnels. This tracked robot trundles down a set path so long as one or more of the team maintains close proximity... but because 'Container City' is a labyrinth of potential ambush locations, the Security forces have to cover each and every flank in order to defend against sneaky Resistance attacks.
This is where the class system comes into the fore. Security gunners and soldiers need to lay down covering fire for engineers as they repair crane consoles, which will subsequently command a crane to carry the bot over impassable obstacles. The aim of the game was to move the bot to the end of the map and use it to cut into a secured container... but we never got that far. Our engineers were too busy trying out the fun new weapons and grenades to bother repairing the console and things soon became a heated deathmatch to the soothing soundtrack of the announcer screaming "You need more engineers!" Pro tip, that one.
Mechanically, Brink is feeling extremely tight and capable. It might get caught up in the maelstrom of Spring 2011 titles, but with some more colourful environments and unique gametypes this could well be one to watch. Next time, however, I'm going to spawn as a god damn engineer.
I had a mixed relationship with Fable 2. Whilst I disliked most of the phoned-in voice acting, simplistic cliched quest objectives and the weak ending, I simply couldn't stop playing it. Naturally I was keen to sample the latest iteration of the franchise to find out what's changed... and was surprised to find out that the answer lies somewhere between nothing, everything and both.
The demo consisted of an action-heavy plot mission set in a gritty and grimy dockyard. Accompanied by a couple of AI allies, I was tasked with killing a selection of corrupt royal guardsman and boarding a boat at the end of the level. Luckily I had plenty of options at my disposal, since Fable 2's accessible three-button combat system is back in force.
Melee is broadly similar to Fable 2... actually, in all honesty, it's identical. Rhythmically hitting X resulted in an organic series of chain attacks and eventual flourishes that could break through an enemy's block. However, automatic finishing moves occasionally kick in after a successful combo- and will result in some truly horrible bloodletting depending on your alignment. As an evil character wielding a massive warhammer, most of my finishing moves resulted in mashing my opponents into a bloody pulp in gratuitous slow motion. Fun, no?
Spells are still charged up by holding the B button, but the addition of the Gauntlet makes for a more interesting magical experience this time around. Each hand can wield a different spell- and charging up magic results in a powerful combination attack that combines the two types of damage. I happened to be rocking a nifty fireball and a Star Wars-esque force push, and the fusion of the two created a massive shockwave that burned enemies to a cinder as they tumbled lazily through the air. This concept is known as Spellweaving and its set to be a neat (if not gamechanging) little addition to the Fable formula. The Gauntlet itself is an organic, evolving device and we assume that it will grow more powerful with continued use.
As an overweight FPS fanatic, I really wasn't particularly excited about Dance Central. In fact, that's a bit of an understatement. I enjoy getting down from time to time thanks to a not inconsiderable amount of liquid confidence and peer pressure... but the thought of prancing about to sickly pop music filled me with both exasperation, disgust and more than a little despair. Fearing the worst, I threw caution to the wind, stepped up to the sensor and proceeded to deliver a truly horrifying mockery of Lady Gaga's Poker Face.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I discovered that Dance Central kicks ass.
Harmonix have absolutely nailed the basics of what makes a fun music game: intuitive core gameplay and big-name escapism. You've simply got to mirror the on-screen movement of several preppy characters (who bear a striking resemblance to Rock Band's caricature design, except replacing sweaty rockers with trendy street dancers) with the sensor detecting surprisingly subtle body movements as well as sweeping gestures. If you move a flailing limb in the wrong direction, a subtle red glow highlights the offending extremity and allows you to correct yourself quickly and effectively.Click here to find out why Dance Central is going to be absolutely MASSIVE
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 2011
An asteroid has beat humankind to nuking itself back to the stone age, but the results are pretty much the same. Most people are dead, mainly violent assholes survived, mutants are everywhere and the world has become a desert. You were one of the lucky few who were put into a pod underground to be protected from the blast. Once the dust and fallout settles and everything looks ok, your pod releases you. Ok, so everything’s not exactly great, but as good as it was going to get in the pod’s mind-set anyway.
The main focus is going to be on action without RPG elements. This means that there’ll be no levelling up, but the guns you find will be progressively more powerful the further into the game you get. The best news though is that you’ll have an unlimited inventory system so no fussing over which weapons to keep because of a minor stat difference, keep ‘em all you gun whore.
Weapons consist of the usual suspects and a few not so familiar ones. Along with the usual array of rusty shotguns and taped-up AK47s there’s a vicious throwing knife for stealth kills that can take a raider’s head off, mobile gun turrets that buy you some precious time in busy gun fights or you can pack a remote controlled car full of explosives and send it into a room to turn a gathering into mutant pâté. Electric crossbows can be used to your advantage in wet environments, be it in pools of water where enemies are standing, or even at wet enemies near falling water, all are ready for a good zapping. id has said new toys will be introduced during first-time visits to new environments to keep things interesting. The generous inventory system will be welcome here if you’re not keen on a new weapon. It’s so much better than the ‘just two guns and a knife’ approach, there’s nothing worse than having to abandon your favourite weapons.Click here to read more about why Rage is THE shooter to look out for in 2011