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  1. Harrison Lee

    Review: Tomb Raider

    Developer: Crystal Dynamics Publisher: Square Enix Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3 Release Date: March 5, 2013 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the PC version of the game Ten to fifteen years ago, the name Lara Croft meant something different. Starring in the much-loved Tomb Raider franchise, Lara was a buxom heroine, adored by male fanbases all around the world. She was a potent killer with what many considered a perfect figure. Fast-forward to 2013 and Lara Croft is an entirely different person. She's every bit as strong, if not stronger, than the Croft of old but she's a new heroine for a new age. Gone are many of the objectifying elements that are archaic. Lara has been reborn in what is one of 2013's first surprise hits, Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider opens with a slickly produced CGI montage that details how she comes to be stranded on a mysterious island. Her ship is sunk in a freak storm, killing a number of the ship's crew in the process. Alone, with only a few scattered survivors hidden about the island, Lara is vulnerable and beaten. In fact, the early chapters of Tomb Raider seem to revel in pummeling Lara to a pulp. It can be hard to watch, but it's through Lara's pain that we see her develop into the true Croft descendant she is. In this lush paradise, Lara finds herself beset by both natural and human enemies. The abandoned Japanese civilization is teeming with numerous cult-like survivors, wolves, environmental hazards, and other dangers. The old Tomb Raiders seemed to offer violence as the only recourse for working one's way out of a pinch. The new reboot, however, is a bit more hesitant to turn Lara into a soldier. Her first kill is shocking, gruesome, and necessary to prevent an attempted sexual assault. While jarring, it's realistic and rather mature for a series that focused on Lara's physical assets rather than her character. Once Lara kills her first survivor, she becomes a hunter. Lara has access to a bow which she can use to kill animals and enemies for weapon upgrade resources. She can also use conventional firearms that are found throughout the environment. Each weapon has a powerful kick and tears apart foes with relative ease. Weapons can also be upgraded to have higher damage outputs and bigger magazines. At first, Lara also won't be able to access certain areas until she unlocks equipment like the ice pick. Once she gets access, she can then backtrack using various campfire fast travel save points and explore the hidden ruins for treasures. It might seem silly to force backtracking but it encourages creative exploration and rewards the diligent with unique finds. That said, Lara is still very susceptible to gunfire and can only take a few hits before she dies. Enemies will also flank and use molotov cocktails to flush her from out of cover. The AI isn't brilliant, but bullets are lethal enough that the combat isn't a pushover. Every target is a potential killer if you don't manage your ammo and cover carefully. Lara can also stealth-kill and melee enemies using brutal execution moves. I don't buy that she becomes a stone-cold killer, but given her circumstances, I see few other ways she could go. Eventually, Lara will face enemies that go beyond the average foot-soldiers and require dexterity to dodge their attacks. I won't say what they are, but trust me when I say the first encounter against them is very frustrating. These battles aren't the worst, but they aren't my favorite either. Narrative wise, Tomb Raider is more akin to an M-rated Uncharted game. Lara journeys to find a lost Japanese civilization that was potentially ruled by a shaman-queen. You can see where this is going, I'm sure. Plot aside, the most impactful element is watching how Lara develops. She starts as a vulnerable adventurer and quickly becomes a powerful hunter.....a powerful tomb raider. She's the highlight of the story and stands among some of my favorite heroines, something the old Laras could never achieve. This Lara has real depth and maturity, unlike her previous incarnations. To say Tomb Raider is beautiful is an understatement. Though textures and some objects don't look great up close, the stunning vistas and massive amounts of detail provided are fantastic. The audio and voice work are equally strong. Lara's actress is especially strong, adding emotional weight to her struggle. The atmospheric sound design is top-notch, pushing Tomb Raider into psychological horror at times. It's a different, unique approach to the franchise that breathes fresh life into the series. If there was one part where Tomb Raider falls apart, it's the multiplayer. While serviceable and fun with friends, the competitive matches rarely inspire more than frustration due to laggy matches and some poorly implemented mechanics. The included maps are based on campaign levels but don't feel as open or fun as the main game. There are a few token modes to choose from, but don't expect to spend a whole lot of time in the multiplayer. Tomb Raider is a solo experience, and that's the way it needs to be experienced. From the start, I knew 2013 was going to be a good year for gaming. Tomb Raider was an unknown factor, though. It looked great, but the numerous changes and mature material put me at unease. Luckily, it is easily one of the best action games to come out this year. Filled with great set-pieces, satisfying combat, and compelling character development, Tomb Raider is a real treat for those looking for that next kick of adrenaline. Pros: + Strong character development + Incentive for exploration + Fun combat that never feels unfair + Slick production values Cons: - Later enemies can be annoying - Multiplayer is lackluster Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Tomb Raider is a great entry to the action-adventure genre. If you have a pulse and like great games, I can't recommend it enough.
  2. If there's one thing that can be said about the Metal Gear Solid V trailer, its that it raises more questions than answers. In fact, I think the only thing it really did answer was the question of whether or not The Phantom Pain was a Metal Gear Solid game. And we all already knew it was from the get go! So no answers... only questions. The good news is that I'm here to answer some of your questions! I can promise with absolute 67% certainty that my answers may or may not be proven wrong in the coming months when we learn more about Metal Gear Solid V, so until then it's safe to just assume what you're reading in this article is 100% true until proven otherwise. Now, on to my theories and findings! There Is Definitely A Third Survivor Kojima recently revealed that the third survivor hinted at in the Metal Gear Solid V trailer was, in fact, himself watching over Big Boss and Kaz as a symbolic way to say he was still working on the game. But as we all know, Kojima is insane and also a liar known for lying all the time just so he can screw with us. The third person isn't him, and it isn't Ishmael... so who is it? Its a lot easier to see in motion. And no, he doesn't get shot boarding the helicopter. Well, I don't know who it is. But I'm positive it isn't Hideo Kojima. This is mostly due to the fact that Kaz refers to this mysterious third person in the trailer right before it cuts way. But there's actually another reason. During the big escape from Mother Base, you see Kaz being carried out of a burning building by some soldier. Big Boss grabs Kaz and hauls him into the helicopter himself. As he turns to go back and fight, you briefly catch a glimpse of Kaz helping a third person on board right before soldiers start getting gunned down. In my mind this has to be the mysterious third person in the hospital, and it isn't going to end up being Kojima. Kaz Is Carrying Something Special Before we start going into the crazier things I've spotted and theorized, I wanted to go back to the attack on Mother Base. Namely, why was Kaz being carried out of the base in the first place? Of course, Kaz is a very important member of Militaires Sans Frontières, but so were a lot of other people. Huey, Doctor Strangelove, and Amanda to name just a few. So again, why was he being evacuated while everyone else was dying? The answer is all over his back. At least, the thing hanging off of his back. When you re-watch the trailer, you might see a cylinder shaped object hanging from Miller's shoulders. It also has a very distinct light glowing off of it. My best guess would be that this is ZEKE's AI core, and Kaz is being taken from Mother Base so they could get the AI core to a safe place. Why, you ask? He had to grab his canister of Sunny D before they left Because XOF is more than likely attacking Mother Base to get their hands on Metal Gear ZEKE. They could do plenty of damage with the Metal Gear by itself, but without the AI core they're missing a rather important part of the machine that won't be able to be replaced unless Strangelove ended up surviving the attack. This also leads me to why Mother Base is being destroyed. I believe Big Boss is responsible for that. They went on a suicide mission just to get the irreplaceable AI core away from the enemy, who's to say they didn't drop Mother Base into the ocean as a way to keep them from also getting their hands on a nearly fully functional ZEKE? The problem is, I don't think that really worked out for them because... XOF Has Parts Of ZEKE Now I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, but from what I've seen going frame by frame in the newest Metal Gear Solid V trailer, it appears that XOF has gained at least a few parts of ZEKE over the years that Big Boss has been in a coma. The reason I think this is because of one scene in particular where Big Boss and what appears to be Ocelot are riding a horse, only to be thrown off by a large blast. Surprise! Just by watching the video at normal speed, its pretty apparent that this blast came from the lighthouse. It lights up right before the ground explodes underneath Big Boss. But if you go frame by frame in the video, you'll see that it isn't an explosion, it's actually a bolt of lightning. Now, what is ZEKE's main weapon? If you guessed railgun, then congratulations. You now know what is probably in the lighthouse. But you're probably wondering, how could they get a railgun set up in a lighthouse in the few hours it took them to find out that Big Boss was wake? Well... Big Boss Has Already Been Kidnapped Think about what we've seen in the last two Phantom Pain trailers. A bunch of military type people gunning down medical patients and doctors, and some super duper crazy supernatural people attacking Big Boss. But who are the bad guys in this situation? Exactly what kind of hospital is Big Boss in? He's been sleeping for nine years in relative safety, so why are they attacking now? Here's my best guess. The soldiers attacking the hospital were sent there by Kaz Miller to rescue Big Boss. Why didn't they do this in the nine years prior? Because they didn't know where he was being held. Word goes out to XOF that Big Boss is awake, so they send their crazy super powered squad to go pick him up. At the same time Miller gets word of where that group is headed and sends his own group to intervene. Just need to keep him calm before the scary ghost monsters show up... Why would XOF be keeping Big Boss alive? For the previously mentioned AI core that Kaz took with him after the fall of Mother Base. They might not be able to find Kaz, but Big Boss is one heck of a bargaining chip to get him out of hiding. Of course, this is some pretty bad news for anyone hoping Strangelove survived, because what would be stopping them from making her build a new AI core if she were still alive? Now, why do I think these soldiers are there to rescue Big Boss despite all of the seemingly mindless killing that they're dispensing? For that, we'll have to go back to the original Phantom Pain trailer's ending. The soldiers are going patient to patient shooting them in the head. When they get to Big Boss they turn on their flashlights and start shining them in his face instead of just shooting him in the head. There's also my assumption that Ocelot shows up with them to save Big Boss. But where does Ishmael fit in? Ishmael Isn't Real What exactly does Ishmael say when you first see him in the gameplay trailer for Metal Gear Solid V? "You can call me Ishmael." While normally that wouldn't mean all that much, it gives me a few clues as to who Ishmael is, and that is no one. The book Moby **** begins with nearly the exact same line that Ishmael gave Big Boss when he first talked to him. While this could just be a joke from Kojima, you have to remember that later on in the trailer you see someone summoning a giant whale to eat a helicopter. While its easy to say those two things aren't connected, I'm going to assume that Ishmael is a hallucination made by Little Psycho Mantis. Not just because those two connections though. That would make it shaky at best. "Saved your life!" Big Boss laughed to no one. Instead, we're going to go by what I saw in the trailers. First of all, Ishmael gets set on fire but comes out completely unharmed and able to continue directing Big Boss. Weird, but not unheard of in the MGS series. Secondly, Fire Marshall Bill doesn't seem to even notice him when he comes after Big Boss. But those are both just kind of weird. Let's get to the good stuff. If you pay really close attention when Big Boss and Ishmael are being thrown around in the car in slow motion, you notice for a split second that while Big Boss is sitting in the passenger seat, he's actually the one steering the car, not Ishmael. Why this is, I have no idea. Maybe the kid that is making Big Boss hallucinate Ishmael doesn't know how to drive. That's just a guess, but it makes a tiny bit of sense to me. You clearly see him get shot and drop to the ground Now this is a big one. In the original Phantom Pain trailer, you see Ishmael getting killed. He gets gunned down in the hospital with a group of other patients. I think its safe to assume the car chase where Big Boss and Ishmael crashes takes place after him getting gunned down, but I'm not sure how that would work out yet. Perhaps he'll just reappear and say he wasn't killed? I don't know, but he's clearly getting shot in the trailer. Having Psycho Mantis riding would explain why it looks like that. Before I go, I just wanted to point out one last thing I saw while I was going through the trailer. I have no theories for this little tidbit, so I'll just explain what it is. If you go frame by frame through the new Phantom Pain trailer you'll catch a very brief glimpse of what appears to be Lil' Psycho Mantis riding on the flaming horse with Fire Marshall Bill. Just thought I'd throw that out there. As always, thank you for reading.
  3. Developer: People Can Fly/Epic Games Publisher: Epic Games/Microsoft Studios Format: Xbox 360 Release Date: 22/03/2013 Gears of War Judgement is the fourth title set in the Gears universe, and takes place 30 days after the Locusts emerge from underground and try to take over the surface (colloquially known as E-Day). This time however the focus is put upon Baird, as he was the only one who really didn't get that much of a spotlight in Gears 3. In Judgement, Baird is still a lieutenant, and is leading a group called Kilo squad which is made up of himself, a much younger Cole, Onyx cadet Sofia Hendrik, and Garron Paduk, former major in the Union of Independent Republics (who the COG were fighting in the Pendulum Wars before the Locust arrived). Single Player/Campaign: The campaign starts off with Baird and the other members of Kilo squad being out on trial for disobeying orders. The orders they disobeyed are yet unclear and the game play is through flashbacks as the story unfolds through each members recollection. The story line is broken up into sections reminiscent of Arcade Mode in Gears 3. There are three stars in the corner of the screen that you have to fill up through killing Locusts and increase the speed of filling up the bar in the different ways you kill them such as an execution or gibing them (one hit kill). You also get penalised for each time you go 'down but not out'. Once you have completed a section you press up on the d-pad to continue where a summary screen comes up telling you how good/bad you have done. The Declassified options do make the game more challenging! In each section there is a 'declassified' option which gives extra intel into the story and gives players an extra challenge. These challenges can be either having to complete the section in a certain time frame, only being able to use certain weapons, extra enemies to fight or certain objectives added. These certainly help to give the game more challenge and veteran Gears players will jump at the opportunity to complete these before they have unlocked the Insane difficulty (I know I did). They also help you accumulate stars quicker, the more stars you collect the more content you unlock which includes an extra mission set during Gears 3 where Baird reunites with Kilo squad. Overall the story feels a bit lacklustre. It is an enjoyable ride and veteran Gears players will enjoy Baird getting his own story, but it always seems to meander, staying on the same line & never deviating until you get to the rather disappointing boss fight against General Karn (Queen Mira must have had a plethora of generals). Every Gears game has had parts and locations where you felt that more in depth context could have been used and a bit of back story was needed. Instead the setting of the level was mainly a situational backdrop for the characters to get through. This feels like that all the way through which is disappointing. The arcade break up of each segment really doesn't help to engross you into the story either. You'll learn more about these characters from the character select for multiplayer then from playing the campaign! When you collect enough stars you will unlock 'Aftermath' which is a little tidbit that explains what Cole, Baird & Carmine were doing while Marcus, Dom, Sam & Anya were trying to get to Azura. They meet up with the rest of Kilo squad & you find out what happens to the characters in Judgement after Halvo Bay. It's a fun short mission, but its more in the style of Gears 3. It can feel a bit odd and it does make you realise how better designed the amply was in 3. Case in point, the movement in Judgement is more "chunky" as it were. There's more of a delay coming out of a roadie run or a combat roll, whereas in 3 it was much smoother (ample's really hard to describe to someone who hasn't played it). The controls have changed for Judgement swell. You no longer use the d-pad for selecting your weapons as now you are relegated to only having two weapons instead of three. You switch weapons with Y and the grenade button has changed to LB and tac-com is now down on the d-pad. This does take some getting used to as I did keep throwing grenades away when trying to find out where my teamates were (this happened alot in multiplayer). The multiplayer has always been a staple of the Gears franchise and has always had its own identity. However the new set up does dramatically change things up. As mentioned earlier the amount of weapons has changed & in multiplayer its changed more dramatically. Instead of the option of 2 weapons, you only get the choice of one with your snub pistol taking the other slot. This isn't too jarring as you can pick up weapons that players drop and ones spread about the map, but every Gears game has struggled to try and stop each match being a gnasher shotgun fest (hence why the sawed off was introduced in 3), but most matches I played had everyone running around with the gnasher. What also made this annoying is that the gnasher is very inconsistent in terms of power. Active reloads only happen in the campaign, but the gnasher can have you one shot killing someone one moment then having someone take 3+ shots up close the next. Its very frustrating and shouldn't have been an issue as it could have easily taken the patched version from 3. Also if you weren't a fan of the sawed-off in 3, then I've got bad news for you. It's back, and this time it has two bullets per clip instead of one. Free-For-All is a great addition to the multiplayer! Does not make up for lack of modes though! There are only 4 modes in multiplayer: Overrun, Free-for-all, Domination and Team Death match. Overrun is a new feature where a team of COG have to defend certain positions against a team of locust. There are different classes on both sides and this is definitely the best thing about the game. Free-for-all is the first non team game in Gears and is frantic and fun. Domination takes away the uniqueness of the previous Annex mode, and does it more CoD style 3 bases to capture/defend. Team Death match has also had its identity taken away as its now just another run of the mill 1st team to so many points, compared to the (better in my opinion) mode in Gears 3. Overrun is definitely the best thing about the multiplayer. One of the reasons is because its the only mode where you can play as the Locust. For some reason you can no longer play as the Locust (farewell Theron Guard), this has a dramatic effect on the amount of characters to choose from. There are about 9 characters (10 if you pre-ordered), 4 of which are available from the start and the rest you have to unlock. Two of which are just re-skins of other characters, which is just lazy. I'm sure more characters are coming later but they've already been planned and could have easily been put into the game. You do get to customise your character with different skins that you can unlock or purchase. There are some good stuff in the game. You can pretty much jump from any platform now which can hep the dynamic of a match. Some of the new weapons are pretty neat, the spot and stim grenades are a great addition and give some variety to grenade tactics. Overrun is definitely the most addictive of the multiplayer modes! Survivor mode is a new addition and is the replacement for Horde mode. Its a mixture of Overrun and horde. The structure is the same as Overrun, where you have to defend e-holes and then a generator if you fail to protect the e-holes. You have to try and survive for 10 waves, with each wave increasing the strength of the type of enemies. This is one where its best to work with your friends as you really need to play as a team as the computer is relentless. Its very challenging and I have yet to get to wave 10 (damn wretches). Overall I felt very disappointed in Judgement. The previous games have always had a lot of content and in comparison Judgement feels very thin. There's only 4 multiplayer maps, too few characters, and a sense that everything has been scaled back. There are some frame rate issues aswell if there is to much stuff on screen. The only thing that seems to have evolves from Gears 3 is the micro transactions. There are plenty of choices in weapon & character skins but about 75% of them require you to pay for them. I know its only cosmetic but with the lack of character choice its really aggravating, and the cost is ludicrous at 300 MS points for each character skin. The multiplayer has its own feel but has lost its identity by utilising and transforming 'Gears' own take on modes back into what thy are in COD or Halo. The multiplayer fights remind me of Halo where if players see each other they throw grenades and then shoot. The short development time the game had is blatantly obvious. If you're a big Gears fan chances are you've already got it and I“m fighting with/against you now. If you're not however I would recommend waiting for a price drop. This feels more like an expansion pack then a fully fledged game and is definitely not worth the full asking price! 6/10
  4. Jordan Haygood

    Sonic 06

    From the album: Kaptain's Gallery

    © Sega

  5. Jordan Haygood

    Duke Nukem Forever

    From the album: Kaptain's Gallery

    © Gearbox, 2K Games

  6. Brittany Vincent

    Review: Aliens: Colonial Marines

    Developer: Gearbox Software Publisher: Sega Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC Release Date: February 12 2013 ESRB: M for Mature A retail copy of the game was supplied by the publisher for review. This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game. What's the definition of an unplayable game? "Unplayable" should obviously be taken to mean that the product cannot be played. In the case of Gearbox's Aliens: Colonial Marines, plenty of criticisms spring to mind, many of them negative. But unlike the spectators who watched me complete the game or those I played the game with, the world "unplayable" didn't cross my mind. I was fortunate enough to never have encountered game-breaking glitches, and though I was on autopilot for the entirety of the game, the lack of challenge wasn't cause for me to abandon it. I soldiered on, despite the multiple (at least seven) tweets of "I'm sorry" when my Raptr client tweeted my game activity. For the record, there's nothing more condescending than the insincere condolences of those who see you playing a "bad" game, thinking you're being forced or that you're too stupid to know anything else. This entry in the world of Alien games (mostly subpar) was especially rancid, but wholly playable. Bland, disjointed, and mediocre? You bet. But nothing different than what you might find in the bargain bin. What makes this game different is that we had every right to think it would be spectacular. And it fails spectacularly at what it set out to accomplish. The vitriol spewn at Colonial Marines by my partners is not all undeserved, though it mainly stemmed from the massive amount of hype generated by Gearbox for Colonial Marines as the new "go-to" Aliens title. To recognize any part of the half-baked plot as Aliens canon or any piece of the game as better than slapped together with minimal effort is ludicrous: it's clear it needed much more time in the oven. But amidst a sea of uninspiring gunplay, nonsensical plot revelations, and the most braindead xenomorphs I've ever come face to face with, there were some interesting moments as well -- decent voice acting, easter eggs for Aliens fans, and even a bit of dark humor. There just weren't enough shining moments to declare it a victory. Divulging the plot details isn't really necessary in order for you to understand what kind of game this is - you'll be able to pick apart every single bit of strangeness siphoned in by the writers, and it's frankly more frustrating than anything else. Considering the many bizarre twists near the end of the game, it's best to think of Colonial Marines as a "what-if" scenario with familiar characters and locations. Reading into it any further is disappointing. The things that do occur on the journey will draw criticism and questions, so be prepared to be scratching your head when you come in contact with someone you thought long gone. Other than these snippets which will cause you to question the motives of the Colonial Marines writers, your only objective in-game is to shoot. Shoot some more. Shoot Xenomorphs 'til they're dead. Shoot Facehuggers 'til they're dead. Walk around with a squad member until they're inevitably dead. It's very cut-and-dry. But even taking aim at enemies doesn't have much weight to it. Whether attacking Wey-Yu forces or aliens, there's no real "kick" when you land a hit, leading you to wonder if you're even doing any damage until they randomly fall down dead. Guns, even though they're meant to mimic the sound effects from the movies, carry the most grating noise I think I've heard in a first-person shooter. It's supposed to be emulating the pulse rifle, but instead it sounds like the sad whine of a dying gun. It's most unpleasant. The arsenal of weapons you'll pick up (some attached to characters from the Aliens mythos) is lackluster as well, and none of them feel particularly powerful until you try out a flamethrower. Even then, it's pretty yawn-worthy. Level design is lackluster and lazy as well, though the first couple of areas were worth it just to stare out at the wreckage and the same setpieces seen in the movies. Time spent wandering around earlier levels with a fleeting sense of childlike wonder quickly dissipated into annoyance as the last chain of four to five levels looked and felt exactly the same. They melted into one another like a goopy mess, much like the objectives themselves, which hardly varied beyond "open this door," "pull this switch," and "kill X amount of aliens." It creates a sort of monotonous symphony, one without variance or different sounds to keep it afloat. In many ways, it's just going through the motions of what an FPS should be with little regard for polishing its myriad aspects and more focus on keeping its head above water rather than refining unacceptable traits. What interesting moments I did glean from the game were creeping through egg-infested areas where you needed to simply stop moving for aliens to not attack you. It wasn't horrifying, but it did instill a quick sense of dread that I appreciated. Since the motion tracker wasn't exactly necessary throughout the meat of the game, this was one part that felt distinctly more Alien-like and thus as if more attention had been paid to it. These times were, of course, few and far between, and did little to create an engaging atmosphere every step of the way. Most of the time I was bored, listless, and ready to advance the plot. I moved forward, I shot things, and the level was completed. And looking back on it now, that's what I've done in every shooter -- even my favorites. But this particular one didn't really provide anything truly memorable except its shoddy visuals, sloppy multiplayer, and bizarre "canon" that did little to answer the questions I had. In short, Aliens: Colonial Marines is an exercise in the same slog we've been seeing for years. It just did things in a less appealing and acceptable manner. Coupled with strange design decisions, the fluff accompanied by its marketing campaign, and ludicrous amounts of buzz, it had so much to live up to. It did not. It's playable. And that's about all you can say about it. Pros: + Motion trackers, power loaders, and other Alien setpieces + Decent voice acting + Occasionally interesting bits (but not often) Cons: - Muddy, horrible graphics - Samey levels - Samey levels (what? we didn't think you'd notice) - Boring objectives Overall Score: 3.0 (out of 10) Poor Aliens: Colonial Marines fails miserably at instilling any sense of fear or adventure into its extremely short campaign. It's a shooter. That's about it.
  7. Developer: Sumo Digital Publisher: SEGA Platform: Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS Vita, 3DS Release Date: November 18, 2012 ESRB: E10+ (for Everyone 10 and Older) A retail copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review. This review is based on the Wii U version of the game. When it comes to Sonic the Hedgehog, speed is the name of the game, but Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed channels that speed in a new way. Having not played the original game in this new racing series some 2-3 years ago, the thought of Sonic driving a car seemed somewhat redundant and strange; after all, why drive a car when you're the fastest hedgehog alive? Then again, it wouldn't do to have everyone be beaten by Sonic in a foot race, so evening the odds a bit by racing in cars does make a world of sense here, not to mention a more fun experience overall. That said, if you still have any reservations about the idea of Sonic and friends racing in cars and other vehicles, you can rest assured that Sumo Digital has brought the goods and delivered what is quite possibly one of the best kart racers in years. Once again, SEGA's mascots have gathered together in a competition to see who can put the pedal to the metal and come out on top when it comes to racing. You'll be able to play as a variety of different characters, including the more famous and well-known ones like Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles; to mid-tier franchise characters like Ai-Ai from Super Monkey Ball and Ulala from Space Channel Nine; to even lesser knowns like Alex Kidd, Vyse (from Skies of Arcadia), Joe Musashi (Shinobi) and more. Of course, Ralph from the Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph also makes an appearance here, as well as real-world racing star Danica Patrick, whose odd and out-of-place inclusion is made even weirder by having her compete alongside anthropomorphic video game animals. Nonetheless, there's a solid cast of characters new and old that SEGA fans will no doubt love to see and play as. Of course, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed's marquee feature is the addition of having your vehicle transform into both watercraft and/or aircraft during races. This effectively makes All-Stars Racing Transformed the spiritual successor that Diddy Kong Racing never had, except that you can't transform each vehicle into watercraft or aircraft mode whenever you want. Instead, each of the different characters' vehicles will transform from one to the other at select points around the map (as marked by large blue ring). For example, many races start off with everyone in their default karts, but the road may suddenly drop off into a river, at which point you'll pass through a transformation ring and your vehicle will transform into a hovercraft or speed boat. By the same token, you may reach a point where your vehicle will drive off a ramp through a transformation ring and turn into an airplane. This sequence of changes helps keep things both fresh and entertaining during races, especially with courses where the layout dramatically changes over the course of three laps. A good example of this is the Skies of Arcadia level, in which you'll start off by racing around a floating island amidst a battle between airships, which will inadvertently destroy certain sections of the course until you're relegated to flying in an airplane by the 3rd lap. Sumo Digital was pretty clever about not forcing each of the three different vehicle types, as not every course uses all three but only the ones that can use them to good effect. The course design in general is pretty excellent, and really puts even recent Mario Kart games to the test in terms of how creative and fun they are to play through. In addition to courses from the more well-known franchises like Sonic, Super Monkey Ball, House of the Dead, and Jet Set Radio, there are also a few from more obscure games like Burning Rangers and Afterburner, which help keep things fresh. There are two main single-player modes that you'll be playing through in the game: World Tour and Grand Prix. World Tour is much of the core experience, as it is comprised of individual races and other challenges as well as being the main way you unlock other characters. Grand Prix is your standard race tournament in which you select a cup and play through four consecutive races across four different courses (each based on different SEGA games and franchises). Leaderboards are also viewable here if you have any friends registered through Miiverse. In addition, there is a Time Attack mode and a Single Race mode should you wish to practice on a specific course. The game also has a bevy of multiplayer modes, including Race, Arena, and Lucky Dip (a mixture of the previous two). You're also given the option of setting up custom games either locally or over online, as well as playing a number of party games on the Wii U Gamepad. What's also interesting about the game is that each character will gain experience from races and eventually level up multiple times, unlocking different ways of handling their vehicle and giving you more customization as to how you want them to perform (for example, better handling as opposed to more speed). Not only does this add a bit more depth to the game, but it also gives you more of a reason to try different characters out. And with up to 5 different mods to unlock for each racer, you'll be playing the game for a long time to come before you level up all of the characters to the max. It must also be said that the controls in this game are excellent. Races rely heavily on drifting expertise and boosting, so there's a slight learning curve at first as you get used to the controls, but most vehicles really do feel like they have weight to them and act in a manner that would reflect their physics in the real word. The water physics are also genuinely great, especially as you're racing down a river and your speed boat or hovercraft bobs up and down and splashs around amidst the swells in the current. Visually, the game is bright, cheerful, and looks great. Sumo Digital did a fantastic job of creating each course to resemble its respective franchises, especially so with the prehistoric track set in the Golden Axe world and the Super Monkey Ball course, the latter of which is a downhill run not unlike the actual gameplay of that particular series. Framerate is steady and doesn't stutter much if at all. The image on the Gamepad is, of course, reduced in quality from the TV output to a degree and may appear a tiny bit fuzzy at first, but overall it looks fine and it's great that they were able to get Gamepad-only functionality working with a title like this. - The Wii U Difference - The Wii U version of the game has two unique aspects to it, and they both involve the Gamepad, of course. If you're playing the game while viewing the action on the TV screen, the Gamepad will display a mini-map of the course with all of the racers' positions marked by their face. In addition, if you hold the Gamepad so that it's mostly parallel with the TV, you'll pull up a rearview mirror of sorts so that you can see who's immediately behind you. Otherwise, the second usage of the pad is off-screen play (as mentioned earlier); all you have to do is swipe down on the screen to move the main action to the Gamepad, and presto - you're playing away from the TV. While not everyone is excited by off-screen play, this is a huge reason to buy the Wii U version over the others if you do appreciate being able to play games entirely on the Gamepad. Overall, there's a lot to like about Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed; the amount of content it offers, both in single-player and multiplayer, is truly staggering. Add to that the fact that the game plays great and the courses are genuinely fun to play and well-designed, with most of them built to the strengths of each particular franchise they're based on. The diverse challenges and scalable difficulty also ensure that you'll have a lot to play through, as well as leveling up each individual character (as well as unlocking additional ones). Due to all of this, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed may just have taken the throne for best kart racer out there at the moment, and it could be a while before it's topped by something else. SEGA fan or not, this is one game you should definitely check out if you're in the market for a great kart racer with a unique twist. Pros + Tons of depth and content + Great kart-racing action + Courses are well-designed and franchises are well represented + Controls are spot-on and feel great Cons - A bit of a learning curve at first when it comes to drifting - Some characters are unevenly balanced Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed outdoes its predecessor and most other kart games due to the breadth of its content and how well its mechanic plays into the game. Don't miss it if you're looking for the next great kart racer.
  8. When you hear the word 'censorship,' you probably assume someone is talking about an overly violent or sexual situation. In most cases you would be right. Except for this time, of course. Where's the fun in just talking about things everybody already knows? Instead, we'll be talking about all of those crazy little things you wouldn't expect to see censored. Once you finish this short list, you'll know that no game is safe from censorship, and no character is immune to changes. Even if those changes can totally change the look and feel of a game. Please feel free to read on and find out just what I'm talking about. The Ice Climbers Are Branded As Seal Clubbers When it comes to censorship in video games, the last company you would suspect to have the need to censor their games would be good ole' Nintendo. Over these last few decades, they've given the impression of being a family friendly brand, so you wouldn't expect them to ever need to censor one of their games for any reason. "Seals? Birds? They're all dead either way." While you might be thinking that the game I'm about to talk about would be one of their newer, more mature franchises, it's actually one of their oldest. If you read the title above, then you already know I'm about to talk about Ice Climbers. But still, try to at least act surprised. Back when Ice Climbers first released in North America, there was a big push going on to bring the practices of seal clubbing to light in the public eye. One of the enemies the Ice Climbers faced in their game just happened to be a seal in the Japanese release. If the game was just about jumping on your enemies (like in Mario) or swinging a sword (in Zelda), then there probably wouldn't have been a problem. But in Ice Climbers, your attack was actually referred to as 'clubbing.' You were clubbing seals. The censorship was rather simple and actually ended up making more sense than what they had originally planned for the game: Nintendo turned the seals into yetis. Honestly, that's what they should have been in the first place, though. Who's going to be afraid of a seal? Nintendo seemed to like the new idea and actually ended up changing the Japanese version to include the yeti as well. And there you have it - Nintendo saved virtual seals from being clubbed. Mortal Kombat Gets Censored For Being Too Violent The Mortal Kombat games are literally the grandparents of the video game ratings system. Without Mortal Kombat, there wouldn't be an ESRB. Well, there eventually would have been one. But Mortal Kombat was the first game that made the ESRB necessary. When it comes to a game series that prides itself on uber violence, though, what could possibly be censored? This received a PG-13 rating. Mortal Kombat got an M. The gun violence. Of all the things that go on in that Mortal Kombat series, they decided to draw the line at characters shooting guns. An example would be in Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe. Joker's fatality involved him pulling out a gun and pulling the trigger. A bang flag would come out, and then Joker would pull tout a second gun, actually shooting his opponent. In the American version of the game, everything would play out exactly the same, but when the Joker pulled out his second gun the camera would zoom in and the other character would be shot offscreen. When you see the actual uncensored fatality, it really isn't all that violent. A small amount of blood sprays out and his opponent falls down. The end. When you see people being torn in half and melted to death, a single gunshot seems kind of silly to censor. But it happened. And it wasn't that big of a deal. Snake Drops A Nasty Habit Years Ahead Of Schedule Spoiler: At the end of the Metal Gear Solid series, the main character, Solid Snake, gives up smoking his signature cigarettes. Before that ending scene, however, Snake chain smoked his way through every single game he was in. It was such a big part of his character that whole scenes and game mechanics played into his nicotine addiction. The loading screen that cares You would smoke cigarettes to see where lasers were positioned if you didn't have certain equipment to use, and you would have whole conversations about how you just got done coughing up a pack of cigarettes you ate before the mission so you could sneak them in with you. He had a serious addiction. But then again, where was this habit in the Game Boy version of Metal Gear Solid? In the Game Boy version of MGS, all instances of Snake talking about his cigarettes had been removed from the game. You don't have them in your inventory and you obviously can't use them for any game related puzzles or obstacles. It was probably just because the Game Boy was more of a kid-friendly handheld, and Nintendo didn't want to look like it was promoting smoking to kids, but there's still the fact the smoking scenes returned in The Twin Snakes on the Gamecube. Fallout Avoids Some Negative Press In Japan As we're all generally aware, Japan suffered from two nuclear attacks during the second World War. Fallout 3 had a lot of references to nuclear devices, including some less than wise choices for some weapon names. Those two things don't really work out all that well together, so things had to be changed for the Japanese markets. What things, you ask? A faint "awkward" was heard for miles around Well, we'll start with the obvious. There's a weapon in the game called the "Fatman." The significance of this is the fact that one of the bombs dropped on Japan in the 1940's just happened to be code named "The Fat Man". Gee whiz, what a coincidence? The weapon's name was changed to Nuka-Launcher to avoid some rather awkward problems when it released in Japan. But then there's the case of the town of "Megaton." One of the first major choices you have to make in the game is whether or not you should activate an old nuclear device positioned in the center of the town - the entire storyline from that area of the game has been completely removed, though. I can understand why, but it seems a bit excessive. The whole storyline of the game is based around a nuclear war. Shouldn't people have expected to see stuff like that when they bought the game? These changes range from the mundane and crazy to absolutely game changing and story altering. But each one had a pretty good reason for their changes. Are there other strange acts of video game censorship that you might know about? Why not list them in the comments below? As always, thanks for reading.
  9. Marcus Estrada

    Xbox Swagfest Offers Custom 360s

    Do you want to get the chance to win a super rare Xbox 360? That's what is being offered by Microsoft as they begin their Xbox Swagfest contest. With the sweepstakes now in full swing, you just have to do a few simple tasks to be entered in for one of five consoles. First, you have to download the promotional gamer pic and actually use it on your profile before the contest ends on March 11th. Then, you have choices for what to do next. You can download the HBO GO app (which only works for HBO subscribers) or play an online game in Halo 4, Gears of War 3, or Tomb Raider. Or you can choose to play all of them multiple times to gain a maximum of 20 entries. Each console is custom designed for Swagfest. They are all 4GB 360s and feature designs for Bioshock Infinite, Game of Thrones, Gears of War: Judgment, Splinter Cell Blacklist, and Tomb Raider. If you're interested, be aware that the contest is only open to those 17 or older and who reside in one of the 50 US states.
  10. Developer: Kojima Productions / Platinum Games Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Release Date: February 19, 2013 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game. A retail copy was provided by the publisher for this review. I“ll come clean: this is my first Metal Gear game. I“ve always been interested in the series, but I“ve never been able to get into the stealth gameplay. That“s why I was intrigued when it was revealed that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance would be a hack-and-slash action game and excited when Platinum Games“ involvement was revealed. It may be an atypical entry, both for me and the series, but I finally understand what I“ve been missing all these years. My biggest fear with this entry point was that I wouldn“t be able to follow the story, having only a loose understanding of the plot from second-hand experiences. It is a bit heavy with jargon and abbreviations, but the story works well as a standalone. Taking place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, you play as the cyborg ninja Raiden, a member of the private military company Maverick Security Consulting, investigating the underhanded dealings of another PMC, Desperado Enforcement. Thematically, the story revisits familiar concepts The purpose of war in society and the role of soldiers in times of peace are central to the plot. They“re interesting concepts, but I found myself more interested in the character of Raiden and his motivations, especially compared to his foes. The story doesn“t always work and the ending is underwhelming, but it“s interesting, cleverly directed, and well paced. As you might expect from Kojima Productions, this is a slick product. It looks impressive and takes full advantage of the available hardware. There are a few textures that look odd and occasional stutters when loading or using AR vision, but these issues never interfere with combat. Given Metal Gear“s reputation for long cinematics, I was impressed by how well the cutscenes flowed, never detracting from the pace set by the action. The audio design is also solid, with strong vocal performances and pleasing sound effects. Driving the whole experience is the soundtrack, an interesting mix of rock and electronic sounds that compliments both the action and aesthetic of the game. While the story and presentation will be the draw for many, mine was the action. I had high expectations going in, given Platinum Games“ history, and I wasn“t disappointed. The controls are as tight as you“d want and the feature set is typical for the genre. There are multiple difficulty settings, with more unlocked upon completion, as well as titles awarded for your performance, giving players of any skill level plenty of goals to work toward. You can customize Raiden to fit your playstyle through upgrades, costumes, and additional weapons by using points acquired through battle with the option to replay previous missions at any point. My only complaint is that, as with most games, there are times where the camera is your biggest enemy and there are times when the lock-on has trouble shifting targets. Every hack-and-slash game has its own focus, setting it apart from others in the genre. Revengeance“s calling cards are the parry, Blade Mode, and Zandatsu. Parrying makes up the bulk of your defensive options. When an enemy attacks, you move toward the blow and press the light attack button. If you get the timing right, the enemy will be open for a counter, otherwise you“ll simply block the attack. It“s satisfying to get a perfect parry, even more so when you block a string of attacks and get to follow up with a combo of your own. The signature feature of the game is Blade Mode. After charging your fuel cells by attacking enemies, you can enter Blade Mode and use the analogue stick to control the direction of your cuts, strategically dismembering your foes. When your fuel cells hit a certain level, you can use Blade Mode to perform Zandatsu. This technique has you line up your cut with a marker on the foe, instantly killing them and restoring your health. Tougher foes require the Zandatsu to remove armor and expose vital areas before they can be killed. It“s a very fun mechanic, especially when you end a heated fight by slicing the enemy into a hundred pieces and smashing their spine in your hand. To me, the best aspect of Revengeance is how open it is. It may seem odd to say, given the linear story progression, but you“re given the freedom to play any way you want. You can choose to skip through cutscenes and calls or use the codec to see additional scenes to learn more about the world and characters. Missions can be a simple dash from point A to B, but there are collectibles and other easter eggs to be found as well. They aren“t huge choices, but they make the length largely dependent on your playstyle and priorities. Even though stealth isn“t the main focus of the game, it still has a role to play. Rushing out and killing everything in your path is a valid approach, but there are options with more finesse. Whether that option is silently taking out foes from the shadows with ninja kills or sneaking past everyone to reach the objective is up to you. The stealth features aren“t as robust as in the Solid series, but veterans won“t be completely out of their element. Not every section has this freedom, but there“s a lot of room for personalization, making it feel more thought out than any other game in the genre. Looking at Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance“s history, I understand why people might be wary. It dropped the Solid name and stealth genre, was revealed as a Kinect-enabled watermelon-slicing game, and had a troubled development cycle resulting in another studio“s involvement. Those are issues that most games would be left the worse for, but Kojima Productions and Platinum Games made it work. It“s an extremely satisfying experience that blends the best of the hack-and-slash genre with that distinctly Metal Gear flare that people, myself included, have come to love. Pros: + Fun, visceral combat + Open-ended gameplay + Slick, stylish presentation Cons: - Minor camera issues - Some stuttering in non-combat areas - Underwhelming conclusion Overall Score: 9 (Out of 10) Fantastic Marrying the best of Kojima Productions and Platinum Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an amazing experience for fans and newcomers alike.
  11. Marcus Estrada

    Xbox 360 at E3 2012

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  12. The recent news that the Wii U exclusive Rayman Legends would be dropping the "exclusive" label and heading to the PS3 and Xbox 360 disappointed a lot of people wishing for Wii U to have some nice third-party exclusives. However, that's nothing compared to the reaction from Ubisoft's decision to delay the Wii U version, finished and ready for release, for half a year. Following the news was an outraged forum post by an anonymous person who claims to be an ex-developer, blaming the "men in ties" at Ubisoft for the delay and describing the news as having been "hell" to hear after the devs worked so hard to finish the game within the Wii U launch window. Also following this news was a series of fan protests to get the Wii U version back to its original release date. Unexpectedly, one of such protests actually includes Rayman creator Michel Ancel and his development team, according to some recent pictures taken with fans involved in the protest: These pictures show the devs with a banner that reads "Release Rayman. Support Ubisoft Montpelier" in French, along with a sad depiction of Rayman saying "please" and smaller banners drawn on reading "Wii U," "Rayman," "Michel Ancel," and "28/02/13." 28/02/13 (or 2/28/13) is, of course, the original release date for the Wii U version of the game. While the devs weren't the ones who started this protest, them agreeing to stand with the fans who did is a pretty powerful message. Think about it: if they didn't want to show their publisher disagreement with the delay, would these pictures exist? Hopefully Ubisoft gets the message and makes something of this. It would certainly be nice to get Rayman Legends sooner than later... What are your thoughts on this big delay?
  13. Nowadays, we live in a world where anything can be patched into or out of a game with little to no real effort. If there is a huge problem in a game's code then companies can simply fix it with a day one patch. There's no longer a need to recall mass quantities of your product anymore when you have a problem. So why does it still happen? Yep, we're talking about the quickly dying trend of the recalled game, which is something that probably shouldn't even happen anymore (at least in countries with widespread internet service). The recalls we're going to be discussing today range from the obvious to the downright unnecessary. Please, enjoy the read. Little Big Planet Gets Pulled Off Shelves Its been a pretty long time since Little Big Planet first hit store shelves, so I don't blame you if you haven't heard this story. But Little Big Planet was pulled off of store shelves just a day or two before it was set to release on the market. Why was it pulled off? Was there some magical code that jailbroke PS3's? Did they accidentally print something vulgar on the cover? No. A song in the game had two verses from the Quran mixed in with the music. There was also a problem with sackboys bursting through systems I'm not trying to say there's anything wrong with someone requesting the music be removed because they might find it offensive; the thing I'm surprised by is the fact that Sony pulled the game off of store shelves and delayed the release a whole week so they could remove the song in question. A bit overkill if you ask me, especially when you hear this next part. They didn't do anything to the discs that they pulled off of the store shelves. The only thing that changed was that you now had to download a patch on day one that removed the song from the game. The game was delayed and money was spent to remove it from stores just so they could release a patch. Something they would have done if the game had released on schedule. Mario Gets Pulled For Swearing? Its been a while since I've played a newly released Mario Party game so please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure there hasn't been a single iteration in the series that involved one of Nintendo's flagship characters dropping an S-bomb. At least not by American standards. But you have to remember the world is filled with all kinds of colorful swear words. What is even going on in this image? Like did you know that the word spastic is considered a vulgar word in the wee little UK? Apparently Nintendo wasn't aware of this and ended up using the word throughout the game Mario Party 8, a decidedly kid-friendly game in most countries. Once it became apparent that the word was in the game, it was pulled from store shelves. It was re-released a few weeks later with a much less colorful vocabulary. I can only imagine how silly it would be if it ended up being an offensive American word. Can you imagine Mario calling you something vulgar every turn? Good Luck Doing A Speed Run Of This Metroid Metroid games are know well by their fans for being extremely open and accessible to speed runners. While this isn't always the case, speed runners have been known to use glitches and exploits in different games as a way to advance the story before they're supposed to be able to. This is called sequence breaking. MONEY WELL SPENT Metroid Other M had a glitch in the game that was less of a sequence breaker and more of a game-breaker. And you didn't even have to try to get it to happen. The game would just not allow people to go forward after a certain part in the story. You couldn't skip this area and you couldn't get past it in any way. Since the game was released in Japan before any other country, that was the only area Nintendo needed to recall it for so they could fix the game-breaking bug. Thankfully, it was not present in any other country's copy of the game. That didn't really save it from a less than stellar reaction from gamers though. Don't Kick That Ball! In the soccer (or football) game 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, nearly every country got a ball and team to play as. You can't really call it a World Cup game if you exclude parts of the world, though. When you're working with so many different teams and designs, you might miss out on a few details. Like what goes onto those barely visible balls flying around the arena at a hundred miles per hour. Should they just leave that out on the field? Apparently some people can make out those details on the balls, and found that some of the balls from some countries had religious scriptures on them. Once EA was made aware of this, they did the smart thing and pulled every copy of the game off of every store shelf in the world while they got the offending balls removed from each team. This was still kind of early on in the whole digital distribution, and it was a world wide recall so I can see why they couldn't just patch the designs out, but dear heavens that had to have been some super expensive ball work on EA's part. Especially for a yearly release SOCCER game. Like I said in the beginning of this article, game recalls are a dying fad. The world is becoming more and more digital each day, and problems are getting easier to remotely fix. What will be the next game to get pulled from store shelves, and will it be the last? Who knows? As always, thanks for reading.
  14. Jordan Haygood

    New Call of Duty Coming Within the Year

    It sure hasn't been long since we got a Call of Duty game, and already Activision is ready to release another. During a post-earnings financial call, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg revealed that they have plans to release a new entry before the year is up. Of course, Activision doesn't expect this new game to perform quite as well as their most recent entry, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which broke sales records. "The Call of Duty franchise continues to set the bar for innovation and we expect the new Call of Duty game in development for 2013 to raise that bar even higher," said Hirshberg. "There is increased volatility this year due to the ongoing console transition, which makes predicting the future more challenging than during normal years in the cycle. For Call of Duty, consistent with our past practices, we are planning for the mainline release in Q4 to be down versus 2012." Who will be developing this unnamed Call of Duty title? That hasn't been announced yet, but it will probably be one of the five developers involved with the franchise: Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, and Neversoft Entertainment. Are you ready for a new Call of Duty game?
  15. If you were expecting the next entry in the Mass Effect series to be titled "Mass Effect 4," think again. BioWare wants to clarify that the game will not be called that, as they feel it just wouldn't be right. On the official BioWare forums, community developer Chris Priestly wrote that the only detail that has been confirmed about the new game is that Commander Shepard won't be featured. Priestly said, "To call the next game Mass Effect 4 or ME4 is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here." He went on to say that "we have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. I see people saying 'well, they'll have to pick a canon ending.' No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda. Wherever, whenever, whoever, etc will all be revealed years down the road when we actually start talking about it." According to Priestly, it's far more accurate to think of this game as "what happens next set in the Mass Effect universe." BioWare expects gamers to speculate this next Mass Effect title, such as what characters it'll include and what the story is, but nothing will be officially announced for a long while. Are you looking forward to the next Mass Effect game? Are you excited to get something completely new out of the Mass Effect universe?
  16. Until now, the only play sets we've seen for Avalanche Software's upcoming Disney Infinity have been for Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles, and Pirates of the Caribbean, which all come with respectively-themed toys and virtual areas to play around in. Now it seems another Pixar movie is ready to join the fray as a fourth play set has just been announced - Cars. The first three play sets will be included in a Starter Pack that you can get for $74.99. As for standalone play sets like Cars, you can get those for $34.99 each. Furthermore, each play set is said to add about 6-9 hours of gameplay to the overall game. The Cars pack will provide the Disney Infinity platform with Radiator Springs, as well as the characters that appear in Cars, extra items, and more. You can find Disney Infinity on store shelves this June, and more play sets are set to be released by then. Are you looking forward to Disney Infinity? Will you be picking up the Cars play set?
  17. Jordan Haygood

    Redbox Instant Coming to Xbox Live

    If you've got an Xbox 360 and like to play around with the various apps available through Xbox Live, you may have tried out the popular video-streaming Netflix or Hulu apps at some point (or at all points, you couch potatoes). Well, if those haven't satisfied you, maybe Verizon's new Redbox Instant service will. This new video-streaming service from the makers of those things you see in Wal-Marts will be available sometime in the undetermined future through Xbox Live. Redbox Instant is in a public beta at the moment (you can try it our HERE), and according to Microsoft spokesman Major Nelson, after signing up for the service, an email will be sent to you with a code that will allow you access to the Xbox Live Redbox Instant app in the "coming days." Just like the similar Netflix Instant service, Redbox Instant allows you to access a catalog of movie streams on-demand, as well as the Redbox disc rental kiosks (aka those things you see at Wal-Marts). There are two plans: $8 a month for the DVD plan or $9 a month for the Blu-ray plan. For both plans, you will get unlimited access to streaming movies and up to four one-night rentals of DVDS or Blu-rays at any Redbox machine. Do you use Redbox? Will you be using this app whenever it is released?