Posts Tagged ‘PC’

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Mass Effect 2 Review

March 10, 2010

When does a game become more than just a game? When can a game invoke the same emotional response from a player that cinema can from viewers or a piece of music can from its listeners? In this humble reviewer’s opinion, it takes a great deal of effort to create a truly transcendent experience in a game that plays with your emotions and keeps you hooked from the moment you power the game on until you’ve reached its conclusion. Mass Effect 2 is one of those games. It combines some of the best third person shooting and RPG mechanics with a fantastically dark narrative, a remarkable cast of characters, sharp writing, well-directed cutscenes and an epic soundtrack to create an experience that is more than just a game. It’s an amazing cinematic event, and one that’s among the best of its kind.

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Dead Space Community Event Wrap Up Part 2

August 13, 2008

[Editor’s Note: Wow, I can’t believe this but this post has been set to “private” since the day I posted it and I never noticed until today. Sorry about that!]

I awoke at 7:45 the next morning, the jet lag working in my favor (it being nearly 11:00 back home and all) I was slightly groggy, though nothing a quick shower couldn’t fix. I spent the next half hour watching television, perusing my notes on Dead Space and finalizing interview questions before jamming all my portable gadgets including my digital voice recorder, camera and oh so important cell phone into my pockets. I picked up my notebook, grabbed my room key and headed downstairs. It was finally time to be a journalist.

I once again met up with my journalistic comrades (some sporting hangovers from the night past) and we were led off to EA’s headquarters where we were treated to a nice catered breakfast before being split into two groups and sent our separate ways, one group headed off to experience the game for the first time, and the other sent to another room in which two members of the development team (Art Director Ian Milham and Concept Artist Ben Wanat) gave us a short presentation on the evolution of Dead Space’s art direction encompassing the environments to character and creature design from concept to the finished product.

The day was layered in this fashion with presentations and hands on gameplay time alternating between the two groups every half hour or so. After the presentation concluded, we were quickly ushered into the gameplay room in which seventeen stations, all running Dead Space on either the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 on high definition monitors complete with noise cancelling headphones to isolate the experience for each player and immerse you within the environment. Unfortunately, my first gameplay session is one of the things I can’t go into detail about so I’ll just say it was pretty sweet and that’s it.

Before I delve further into my first hand experiences with Dead Space, I have to give credit to the development team for finding a way to make me look forward to the presentations nearly as much as I did to actually playing the game for myself.

There was much more to see and hear as we pressed on throughout the day, playing the game and listening intently as the developers told us just how much work had been done to make the game as close to their original vision as they possibly could and how many steps they took, such as a highly intensive focus group program, the largest of which for any game ever developed at EA Redwood Shores.

I was able to land an interview with Ian Milham where we discussed various aspects of the game’s art design, from the necromorphs themselves to the environments, which the necromorphs can use to escape from you and spring traps using network of ventilation ducts and narrow crawlspaces. These environmental designs add a great deal of tension to the proceedings, as you see ominous shadows dancing on the walls around you and creatures hiding just out of eyeshot, waiting to pounce at any given second.

After sitting down to play the game it must be said that all of my previous worries that this would be a Silent Hill or Resident Evil clone (or the illegitimate bastard child of the two) were quickly put to rest within a few minutes of playing the game. The development team behind Dead Space has done a great job of carving out a fairly unique horror niche all its own. There are no space marines and Isaac Clarke is not a trained soldier equipped with the latest in high powered weaponry. He’s an engineer equipped with mining tools and as such, you cannot play this game as if it were a run and gun shooter or you’ll end up dead fairly quickly, often in a most gruesome fashion.

As the day drew to a close, we were shuffled into EA’s theater one final time and thanked for our participation in making this perhaps the best Community Invitational EA had ever sponsored. Bags of swag were doled out and we were treated to one final look at Dead Space’s zero-g gameplay. Sadly, I can’t talk about it in detail but allow me to say that it was awesome up until our presenter’s grisly death.

On second thought, even that part was pretty awesome.

The Dead Space Community day was over, we all met up in the lobby once more to say our goodbyes and head back to the hotel. Some of us, (myself included) had flights to catch that very night. I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bed, staring up at the ceiling and thinking about the events past. Dead Space had impressed me, surpassing my expectations and leaving me salivating for more.

Ah well. I guess all I can do now is wait until the game’s October release. Until then, I guess I’ll have to get myself a drool bib.

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Dead Space Community Invitational This Week

August 3, 2008

This Tuesday, I’ll be catching a flight to sunny California once again to visit EA, this time to preview one of their more controversial titles. You may have heard of it, what with its disturbing use of lullabies, genuinely unnerving atmosphere and copious dismemberment and inevitable death that await you, should you fall victim to the hostile alien race that lurks in the darkness. This new, survival-horror title is named Dead Space.

There isn’t much to discuss other than the fact that this will be my second trip out to EA and that I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to go again. This event will be larger than the last one, as EA seems to be pulling out all the stops to make sure as many gaming outlets as possible have the opportunity to cover Dead Space and write (hopefully) positive previews to garner attention for their new IP. As such, there will be around 30 members of the gaming press in attendance from almost as many sites, including myself of course. There will be roundtable discussions, one on one interviews and of course, the all-important gameplay sessions.

I was planning on watching every trailer, reading every article and listening to every podcast/developer diary I could find prior to going to the event, but ultimately decided against it. Knowing too much about the game before even getting to play it would put a bit of damper on the experience. I want my mind to be fresh, uninitiated, and ready to be blown away.

So that’s it for now. I’ll have much more to report once I’ve actually seen/played/drooled over the game. Yes I’m quite optimistic about how I will react to Dead Space once I’ve played it. What little I have seen concerning the game looks to be pretty good and I’m quite interested to see how it plays out. Hopefully, I’ll come away from this experience impressed and ready to check out the full release on day one.

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Street Fighter IV Is Looking Good!

June 3, 2008

Back when the first footage of Street Fighter IV appeared on the internet and screenshots were unveiled many months ago in an issue of EGM, I had pretty much written this game off, turned off by what I considered a poor art style. I wasn’t the only one who cried out in despair, as many Street Fighter fans flooded message boards to express their distaste of the new character designs and general disdain with the look of the game.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Well, my opinion on the game has changed significantly having watched the video you see above. Everything I had complained about has been thrown out of the window and I can now say with confidence that I like the new art style. Everything looks incredibly polished and smooth. Animations are fluid, the many graphical effects such as Ken’s Shoryuken and Crimson Viper’s various elemental blows look great, the backgrounds appear well detailed and the characters themselves look better than ever. While they still appear a tiny bit bulky, the fluidity of their movements and attacks make them look great in action.

It’s amazing the difference a few months of polish can do for a game, because compared to its earlier showing, this version of the game looks worlds better. The inkblot and exaggerated paintbrush style used in the cutscenes and smattered here and there during actual gameplay seems to have worked out well and is visually striking. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eyes on this one until it drops this fall for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.

New character screenshots (including a few of the final boss) after the break.

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GTA IV Final Trailer Reactions

April 2, 2008
GTA IV Logo Banner

Mere days ago, Rockstar released the final Grand Theft Auto IV Teaser trailer entitled “Good Lord, What Are You Doing?” (a.k.a. Everyone’s a Rat) for fans to chew on, a mere appetizer for the potentially delicious main course that is GTA IV. Being one of those fans, steadily marking off days on my calendar as GTA IV’s release approaches, I tend to devour any scraps of information about the game that are thrown to me. Needless to say, when I got home from work to find a new trailer awaiting me, I didn’t hesitate to watch it.

GTA IV Trailer Image 1

This trailer shows more of what you’ve likely come to expect, meaning very little actual gameplay footage and short snippets of GTA IV’s storyline, which if Rockstar’s tradition holds, should be excellent. Niko Belic and the few characters we’ve seen so far seem rather compelling. It’s worth noting that the voice acting is pretty good as well as I’ve come to appreciate about the GTA series as of late, especially considering the excellent performances delivered in GTA: Vice City and San Andreas.

GTA IV Trailer Image 4

The game’s many vehicles appear to be the star of this show, much more so than in the previous trailers. Aside from the helicopter seen flying over Liberty City at the very beginning, a number of interesting cars made their appearance, as always, looking very much like their real life counterparts. In this short trailer, there appeared to be a few Dodge Charger clones, a Chrysler 300 clone and, most intriguing of all, a car that looked very much like a Lamborghini Murcielago, which Niko performed a stylish reverse 180 and sped away from the pursuing police.

GTA IV Trailer Image 3

Many of the game’s sure to be extensive selection of firearms made an appearance here, as you should expect. Numerous shotguns, handguns and assault rifles were brandished by both sides of the law. Yes, even the police were seen taking a few shots. One particularly interesting moment occurred when Niko blew some poor sap away with a pump-action shotgun, sending him tumbling down a series of steps. The animation for this was quite fluid and impressive, and something I hope to see during gameplay as well.

GTA IV Trailer Image 2

To be frank, I’m a bit underwhelmed. This isn’t because the trailer wasn’t good, because it was, I just feel as though the third trailer, “Move up Ladies” was better. It’s sort of like eating Filet Mignon from an upscale establishment and then eating a cheeseburger from a less upscale place a few seconds later. Sure, the cheeseburger is still good, but your palette has evolved since then and naturally, you expect more. Despite these minor complaints, this trailer did much to whet my appetite for GTA IV and leave me salivating for more. Well, the full game will be here in less than a month. it’s all a matter of enduring the wait.