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Posted by Eko Bayu Kusumo on Saturday, February 11, 2012

 

Apple's former-CEO and more recreated in Namco Bandai's latest fighter.

February 10, 2012
 
One of the fun features included in Soulcalibur V is the ability to create your own characters. While many of you may have been spending time re-creating fighters in your image, Japanese blog Esuteru took it upon itself to place a number of recognizable characters and people into Namco Bandai's latest fighter.
 
Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and former CEO of Apple, was among the most notable creations, sporting his signature black turtle neck, jeans and gray sneakers. The character's designer was even able to make Jobs' signature weapon an apple.
 
Source : IGN

Posted by Eko Bayu Kusumo on Thursday, February 09, 2012

 

Prepare to feel the power.

February 7, 2012

 

The comic book style violence of The Darkness II doesn't merely shock, but delivers a sense of empowerment. Series protagonist Jackie Estacado rampages through his enemies, ripping them limb from limb in a bloody dance. The way he bounds through environments, tossing parking meters, car doors and more this way and that, utilizing it to flaunt his destructive abilities is almost artful.

The combat in The Darkness II is vastly superior to that of its predecessor, but the story takes time to warm up. As an origin story, the original game was immediately interesting, as we got to know Jackie as he was introduced to the titular Darkness. In the new game, though, Jackie controls the Darkness, much as he controls his mob family. He's managed to keep his powers in check for some time following the events of the first game, but an attack on his organization by unknown forces brings out the monster inside. Now Jackie must confront not only the creature he's become, but also the painful memories of losing Jenny, the love of his life. 

 

The story feels a bit lazy at times, especially since it copies plot devices straight from the original game, but comes into its own by the end. Jackie's struggle to deal with Jenny's death is touching, reminding us that even "evil" people like him feel love and loss. He was irrevocably harmed by Jenny's death, and the scenes between them in the second game are touching, making The Darkness II feel like a more personal story, especially compared to most other shooters. The story of Jackie's battle with evil forces remains important, but it always comes back to Jenny and his inner conflict, something that's easy to identify and empathize with.

Slower, more story-focused scenes help The Darkness II's pacing, giving it some comparatively less intense moments before ramping it back up with the next epic fight. With Jackie's demon powers he has four arms at his disposal: two human two demonic. His extra limbs allow him to dual wield guns with his human limbs, while simultaneously using his beastly extremities to maim opponents with slashes and toss around pieces of the environment. Because of Jackie's extra limbs and the options they afford every encounter becomes more exciting, a time when you aren't necessarily worried about how you're going to survive, but more about how you're going to have the most fun dismembering all who stand against you. 

 

Finding new ways to kill people is entertaining enough, but you're also enticed into experimenting thanks to The Darkness II's experience system. Kill a guy with bullets and you'll gain 10 experience, but if you manage to wing him and then rip him into pieces with your demon arms you'll get three times as much. Experience matters, too, as it grants Jackie access to more powers, which help reinvigorate combat as the enemies get more challenging. You'll always have staple moves that you come back to time and again throughout the campaign, but the array of powers Jackie has make fighting feel as fun and inspiring as being a kid digging through a toy box..

Despite its strengths, polish issues mar the campaign. On top of potential game ending bugs, broken animations, enemies falling through the floor and other minor issues occur frequently. More noticeably, enemies are often clones of one another, which breaks the experience a bit and makes some would-be nerve-racking moments feel silly. Also a bit frustrating are the occasional frame-rate issues in multiplayer during the more intense firefights. None of the issues made it feel unplayable, but did make The Darkness II feel unfinished. 

 

The Darkness II's multiplayer extends the narrative and the life of the game well after the relatively short campaign. The multiplayer isn't like the original's -- a forced-in and boring competitive multiplayer -- but instead ties directly into the story. You play as one of four Darkness-powered assassins in Jackie's employ, taking on missions that his normal henchmen can't accomplish. The missions generally tie into parts of the story, like kidnapping a guy that Jackie asks for during the campaign, giving them a narrative component that makes them more significant. Even the missions that don't link to the campaign's story are worthwhile, as they give you and your buddies more fights to test your skills on. Most importantly, though, they're fun. They may not be the types of things that grow into an addiction, but the multiplayer modes provide hours of extra gameplay, and give you a good reason to play with friends. 

 

Closing Comments
Despite some problems with polish and a story that takes time to develop into something great, The Darkness II ends up as an early treat in the new year. The narrative elements help the pacing considerably, breaking up Jackie’s engaging and brutal murderfests. It may not end up being the best shooter of 2012, but it could very well be the one that makes you feel the most powerful. 
Source :  IGN

Posted by Eko Bayu Kusumo on Wednesday, February 08, 2012

 

Gameplay-lacking RPGs have met their match.

February 3, 2012

 

Who said that epic and expansive fantasy RPGs had to have subpar gameplay? For as much as I absolutely adore games like Fallout 3, Mass Effect 2 and Skyrim, gameplay in those titles simply didn't live up to the amazing standards set by their superb settings, narratives and quest structures. In Fallout 3, VATS was simply an excuse for its inherently clumsy combat, and for as much awe as Skyrim instilled in me, in-game fighting is sloppy. Good news, then, that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has come along. 

 

Reckoning proves once and for all that great role-playing experiences don't have to sacrifice what matters most in any game -- gameplay -- while still remaining true to all of the minutiae that makes the best RPGs great. And while Reckoning certainly has its own flaws, I still found myself utterly satisfied with my experience and anxious to parlay the good news to fellow fans of the western RPG. Reckoning certainly isn't a game you should sleep on. Quite the contrary: Amalur demands your attention.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning's story, crafted by prolific New York Times bestselling author R.A. Salvatore, rests at the heart of the experience. At the beginning of the game, your character -- who you fully craft and customize throughout your adventure -- finds himself (or herself) revived from the grips of death via an arcane contraption known as the Well of Souls. This Lazarus-like event has messed with the threads of fate weaving in and out of Amalur's events and inhabitants, leaving you, the player, without a predestined course. Naturally, this lack of an almost Calvinist-like spiritual course gives you incredible power and potential, something that those around you seek to take advantage of and, at times, exploit for their own gain.


Such a plot has incredible depth, and while all of the fictional names, locations and dense lore can be a bit daunting to keep up with, fantasy fans will find plenty to love. Better yet, exploring the story leads you in turn to exploring the expansive world of Amalur. Split into continents and territories, Amalur's world doesn't present itself quite as non-linearly as the likes of Fallout 3 or Skyrim, but you won't be tethered to isolated locations a la Mass Effect, either. Amalur is very much non-linear in its own right, and you can explore as much as you'd like (so long as you can survive). But everything is presented in a much more contained, coherent and orderly manner.  

 

Lending to the feeling of exploration, Reckoning's high quality (yet inconsistent) art style will give you a true feeling of discovering the unique and unknown. Environments are beautiful, and locations feel truly different from one another. You'll work your way from ancient forests to wide open plains, from sandy deserts to murky swamps. Amalur exudes topographical and geological diversity. Unfortunately, characters and monsters alike don't puite live up to the lofty heights set by your surroundings, though everything still mixes together nicely.

Reckoning's sparse musical accompaniment gets the job done, but the game's real sonic feat is the high quality of the voice acting. Characters, from major NPCs to people who give you miscellaneous side quests, portray their parts with a consistent level of polish. Unlike some other titles in the genre, I didn't constantly find myself noting "Wow, that guy sounds a whole lot like the guy I talked to in that other town 10 minutes ago." Dialogue is lengthy, detailed and fleshed-out. It delivers a whole lot of punch on behalf of the story.

 

One fear many gamers have about lengthy, non-linear RPGs like Reckoning is how the game will run. Many times, developers use the excuse of a game's size and scope to forghve technical shortcomings, which I actually find acceptable because QA testing an open-world sandbox is no easy feat. And while Kingdoms of Amalur has its own technical shortcomings -- occasional pop-in, framerate dips during heated action and a somewhat unimpressive draw distance -- the game never once froze on me the entire time I played it. Whether on my test system or retail PS3s, after nearly 50 hours with the game, Amalur never locked-up on me a single time. I never got stuck in the environment, I never got sealed into or out of an area, and I never had to save my game over and over again out of fear of those kinds of things happening.  

 

But enough about all of that. Reckoning's strongest point is its gameplay, but what does that mean, exactly? It means, quite simply, that I've never played an action-oriented RPG that plays better. Amalur's arcade-like, action-heavy slant to combat made me feel like I wasn't playing a rigid RPG at all, a refreshing and most unexpected experience for me. With a plethora of weapons and armor at your disposal, you can create any number of amalgams to best suit your play style. Battles happen in realtime, and with a combination of attacking with primary and secondary weapons, parrying and rolling out of the way, raising your shield to protect yourself and flinging spells at your foes, the utterly satisfying combat of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning simply can't be understated. 

 

The heart and soul of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning's combat persists throughout the entire game, and since you're able to fully customize your character's strengths and loadout on the fly (due to your fate, or lack thereof), you're never tied down to decisions you make. Amalur's emphasis on fate and destiny meant that while my character throughout my adventure was a sword-wielding warrior with a roguish slant, I could pay characters known as Fateweavers to wipe my slate clean and try again. Awarded points earned after leveling-up can be put into three categories -- Might, Finesse and Sorcery -- giving you perks, added abilities and pimped-out stats associated with the skills of a warrior, thief or mage, respectively.

Mix it all up, and you can be a mage who loves wielding a hammer or a pick-pocketing thief inclined to the dark arts of magic. And it all translates beautifully in battle. Combine this combat with Amalur's incredibly thorough questing system -- which involves a main story you could wrap up in 25 hours or so -- and you'll find one meaty adventure. And don't let that 25 hour number fool you. There are five guild arcs that could take five or 10 hours each, and side quests and ancillary exploration that could easily eat up at least another 100 hours of your time.

 

In other words, if you're looking for bang for your buck, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has it in droves. Then again, if you're looking for an immersive adventure backed by combat that doesn't only put other RPGs to shame, but in fact many action games, too, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has that as well.

 

Closing Comments :
I'll come right out and say it: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will be discussed when Game of the Year 2012 rolls around. It has brought the conversation about what combat can be in the role-playing genre to the forefront and sets the bar exceptionally high for its future contemporaries in the genre. But don't let its competition-shaming gameplay lull you into think that that's all this game has to offer, because that's just gloss on an overall package that's bound to impress the RPG faithful.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning isn't the perfect game. Its random technical hiccups and inconsistent art style certainly holds it back from even higher levels of greatness. But no matter what you're looking for, whether it be amazing gameplay, immersive storytelling or perhaps a riveting new world to explore as you fully customize and re-customize your character at will, Reckoning has it all. And after I jump back into my own game to clean up all of the optional stuff I didn't do, I sense I'll want even more. And yes, so will you.

Source :  IGN

Posted by Eko Bayu Kusumo on Tuesday, February 07, 2012


 

Death rides a monster truck.

December 15, 2011

 

 Twisted Metal includes an online multiplayer mode designed to facilitate an e-sport experience in which skilled players can compete in a balanced arena. Even though matches burst at the seams with flaming metal hulls and outlandish weapons, the development team has worked to ensure that this Twisted Metal packs the best multiplayer the series has ever had. But you still have plenty of options if you want to wreck shop solo and face off against massive boss characters.

Unlike past Twisted Metal games, the latest Twisted Metal divides its story between just a small selection of characters, including Sweet Tooth, Dollface, and Mr. Grimm. During Sweet Tooth's campaign, everyone's favorite demonic clown runs into the Brothers Grimm -- the first major boss. An intimidating encounter, considering the "boss" is actually two house-stomping monster trucks equipped with a small nation's worth of weapons. 

This battle will heighten blood pressures within moments. Both trucks unleash devastating ordnance onto the stage causing buildings to erupt and cars to swerve in response. The trucks also release a shockwave attack that requires a well-timed jump to avoid.

Just like the many video game bosses of the past, defeating one of the trucks will send the other into a fervor, making it a much more difficult opponent to finish off. Whittle it down to low enough health and the truck deploys additional armor that protect it from your weapons. Guess what that means? You need to drive Sweet Tooth's ride directly under the truck and give your gunner enough time to leap onto the undercarriage and plant a bomb to blow off the armor. Precarious, and equally fun.


If the battle against the Brothers Grimm is any indication of the quality of the Twisted Metal boss fights, color me intrigued. And for those of you eager for a real car combat challenge, crank up the difficulty on this one and punish yourself with a truly maniacal fight.


Twisted Metal launches on February 14th, 2012.

Source :    IGN

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