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Fragball: Awesome Trailer, Nonexistent Game?


Snowball studios created this trailer for a game that doesn’t even exist, probably as a portfolio showpiece, but I want to play it regardless.  A heavily stylized cross between football, giant monsters, and a futuristic shooter?  How is this not a game yet!?

Via Kotaku


2010’s Most Wanted


So we’re already more than two months into 2010, and we’ve already seen several big name releases like Final Fantasy XIII and the second installments of both Bioshock and Mass Effect. But those were just a taste of the big names we’re going to see landing in the rest of 2010.  Here’s a short list of some of the titles I’m most excited to play over the rest of this year.

God of War 3

Set to hit shelves in just one more week, action gamers have been drooling for this game since before the PS2 went the way of the dinosaur, and from the pre-release buzz, they haven’t been drooling in vain.  The gaming press are hurriedly proclaiming perfect score after perfect score, and it looks like this could very well be one of the greatest action games ever.  Cutting edge graphics, and perfectly paced combat aside, I just can’t wait to watch Kratos decapitate, disembowel, and forcibly amputate yet another horde of Greek mythological figures.  No matter how many times he does it, he always does it with style, and you have to respect that.god_of_war_3_e3

Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty

Even for a company as legendary as Blizzard, it can’t be easy trying to build a sequel to what many people consider one of, if not THE greatest RTS of all time.  It’s been nearly twelve years since the original (pause for franchise fan boys to blame WoW…) and the second game is finally almost ready for release, or at least the first chapter of the second game is almost ready.  We’ll have to wait for the Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void expansions to get the respective Zerg and Protoss campaigns, but the initial game should have plenty of Terran-style action to tide us over.  South Koreans rejoice, Blizzard is aiming for a launch in the first half of this year.


Max Payne 3
We haven’t seen this bullet-time bad ass in action since 2003, and with Remedy hard at work on Alan Wake, the kids at Rockstar Vancouver took over the development reins for Max’s third outing. Rockstar has released screenshots showing an older, paunchier, balder Max who has apparently fled New York for the balmy streets for São Paulo, Brazil. The first two games were big steps forward in the (then just emerging) third-person shooter genre, so it should interesting to see how a new development crew will handle the white-knuckle gameplay and film noir style that gamers will be expecting. No precise release date has surfaced yet, but it’s been announced for Q4 of this year.


L.A. Noire

A detective story set in a faithfully recreated 1940s Los Angeles.  Think L.A. Confidential: The Game and you’ll be on the right track.  It’s the first game by Team Bondi, a new studio lead by Brendan McNamara, the guy responsible for The Getaway back on the PS2.  They’ve revealed almost nothing about the gameplay or plot at this point, but the concept is very intriguing, and given its developer pedigree I’m expecting big things when it launches in September of this year.


Halo: Reach

A prequel to the original Halo: Combat Evolved and supposedly Bungie’s final Halo game (for a while at least) Reach will take us back to a point in humanity’s war with the covenant where defeat seemed to be an all but sure thing. Just like in last year’s Halo 3: ODST the Master Chief will be conspicuously absent, and players will step into the armored boots of a Spartan known simply as Noble-6. (Reach takes place back in the days before the Master Chief was the only Spartan left.) It sounds like the boys at Bungie are giving their baby quite the send off, with sharper graphics, a revamped engine, and entirely new multiplayer content.  This one has no concrete release date either, but the official trailers have all said 2010.  Frat boys, start your engines.


So it seems 2010 will be yet another huge year for sequels/prequels.  With Heavy Rain out of the way, L.A. Noire’s the only original property I’m really looking forward to at this point.  What upcoming games have got you wiggling on your couches in anticipation?  Team ninja’s take on Samus in Metroid: Other M?  EA and DICE’s modern reboot of Medal of Honor?  Still foolishly praying that we’ll see Diablo 3 this year?  I wanna hear all about it in the comments.

Left 4 Dead 2 Review: Zombie Apocalypse, Cajun Style


So I’ve had a week to chew on Left 4 Dead 2 now, and I have to say that just like last year, Valve has managed to combine zombies, fps action, and co-op gameplay into what has easily been my favorite multiplayer experience of the year.  L4D2 has you following a new set of survivors (man I hope Zoey survived.)  South of the Mason-Dixon, they attempt to find their way out of a Dixie that’s suddenly become infested by IQ-challenged cannibals.  Like the first game, co-op is the core value of L4D2 as the four survivors must work together to survive long enough to reach the end of each successive chapter.

The meat of a game like L4D2 is the horde of bloodthirsty dead people just aching for a taste of your still-breathing human tenderloins, and even the most die-hard zombie fanatics will not be disappointed.  The “common” zombie population has changed to match the new southern setting, so you’ll quickly get used to being rushed by one armed, bloody girls in daisy dukes, and jawless, braindead cajuns.  On top of that, each campaign has its own special “uncommon” zombie.  These are basically setting-appropriate twists on the common zombie that have powers and defenses beyond the rest of the common zombie hordes.  Haz-mat suited zombies are immune to fire, zombified SWAT officers are bulletproof from the front, and mud men come scampering out of the bayou on all fours.

On top of those new baddies, and the tanks, boomers, hunters, smokers, and witches that return from the first game (with new, prettier models) come three new breeds of boss zombie, all designed to negate the strategies Valve noticed players using in the first game.  Spitters attack from range with a burning phlegm that turns the spot that it lands on into a burning death trap.  Jockeys are sadistic midgets that pounce onto the backs of unwary survivors and ride them toward whatever greater danger happens to be waiting nearby.  The charger, most brutal of the new breeds, acts as a sort of mini-tank, charging into groups of survivors and beating the hell out of whichever player is unlucky enough to be grappled.  All of these new zombie types deepen the experience, creating new strategies to consider when playing as both survivor and infected.

But, what fun is a horde of zombies without an armory worth of high powered weaponry to re-kill them with?  In the original game, there were two simple tiers of weaponry made up of standard assault rifle/shotgun/sniper fare accompanied by dual wielded pistols.  L4D2 steps up the weapon selection in a big way, with more rifles, more shotguns, more sniper rifles, special ammo types, and an all new selection of melee weapons.  There’s even a shiny new magnum pistol, a single shot Terminator 2 style grenade launcher, and a brand new grenade slot weapon that’ll be much funnier if I let you see it first with your own eyes.  Let’s just say that it encourages the zombies to fight amongst themselves.  There are even a couple new recovery items thrown into the mix.  The first aid kits and pain pills from the first game are now complimented by defibrillator paddles that let you revive a teammate that’d otherwise be perma-dead, and a shot of adrenaline that temporarily boosts your run speed, and shortens the time it takes to perform actions like healing yourself and reviving downed companions.  This myriad of new equipment options allows a team of survivor players to diversify their arsenal in a way that simply didn’t exist in the first game, adding a whole new strategic element to the experience.

It’s clear right away that the developers at Valve didn’t miss any of the important lessons that the gaming public’s experiences with Left 4 Dead had to teach them.  The biggest gripe people had about Left 4 Dead was the relatively paltry time required to complete a playthrough of the game’s provided levels.  Obviously, this was a bit of a fallacy given that it was designed as a replayable co-op experience.  The second game’s still short in terms of a single play through, but the deepened inventory system, expanded zombie roster, and more open ended level design, combined with the new salvage and realism game modes all add up to much heftier experience than the first game was.

Compared to its predecessor, L4D2 provides a much deeper experience without becoming overcomplicated or bogging down the twitchy action.  All the controversy over the suspiciously short time between this game and its predecessor aside, it really is a big step forward in many respects, for a series that I’m now certain will be spawning entertaining sequels for the next decade at least.

Live-action Halo, Still Irresistable


Ok, so it’s just a trailer for Halo 3′s new ODST expansion, but it still gives me the tinglies. Someone remind me why there isn’t any forward motion on a feature length Halo movie?

Gamer Education: 25 Essential Games Part 1


Hi, my name is Pete, and I like to play video games.  You do too?  Awesome.  Man, introductions are always so awkward.  I’m glad we got that out of the way.  Anyway, this is my new blog, and if you don’t like games, you can probably stop reading right here.  The writer/reader relationship between us being as new as it is, I figured I’d give you a little background into the kind of gamer that I am.  And what better way to do that than with a list of my 25 most essential games?

Now, before you get all up in fanboy arms about the games on my list, remember that it’s MY list.  I wrote this as a retrospective of the games I feel were pivotal in MY gamer education.  If you were more of a PC player, or maybe didn’t have a Super Nintendo (you poor deprived child) then obviously your list will be dramatically different than mine, but that’s one of the things that makes gamer culture awesome.  So I’m going to show you mine, and then, hopefully, you’ll show me yours.

All that said, let’s get into the list shall we?

25. Turtles in Time (Arcade, SNES)

One of the most tragic casualties of the gaming world’s move to 3D was the loss of the side-scrolling ‘quasi 3D’ beat-em-up.  From its humble origins in Renegade, it was refined in Double Dragon, given some real style by Final Fight, and many would say perfected by Streets of Rage (the third game in particular.)  But, it would be doing the genre, and gaming-at-large a disservice to ignore the licensed brawlers out there, and Turtles in Time is what I believe to be the strongest specimen of the old school beat-em-ups.    It’s got everything Streets of Rage 3 has got: sharp graphics, solid combat, and a varied selection of heroes with their own unique attributes and special moves.  On top of that it manages to be a licensed game that not only doesn’t suck, (remind me to write a post about the curse of the licensed game) but actually stands out as a gem among its genre peers.  Disagree all you want, but the TMNT were just as big a part of my early childhood as my SNES, and goddamn if those pizza swilling sewer freaks haven’t swayed me in their favor.  Besides, what other game has level names as awesome as “Prehistoric Turtlesaurus,” and “Bury my Shell at Wounded Knee?”

(For modern beat-em-up goodness, go buy Castle Crashers on XBLA.  You won’t regret it.)

All the true badasses had a multitap.

All the true badasses had a multitap.

24. Contra (Arcade, NES)

I’ll spare you the nerdy reference to the Konami code that seems to come up every time someone mentions Contra.  It’s for weaklings anyway.  Contra got its spot on the list for being what I consider (along with Ikari Warriors) to be the granddaddy of every modern run-and-gun shooter we see today, and this granddaddy is the kind that slaps you around when your parents aren’t watching.  Endless waves of enemies, ridiculous bosses, and an extremely limited supply of extra lives built on a foundation of maddeningly difficult “one hit and you’re dead” gameplay make Contra the legendary “manmaker” of video gaming.  If you can finish this bad boy without the aforementioned 30 life crutch-code, then hats off to you sir or madam.  I’m willing to assert that Contra probably led to more NES controllers being pitched across living rooms than any other NES title on record.  Good thing they’re essentially solid bricks of plastic.

Contra teaches you to cope with being a bullet magnet.

Contra teaches you to cope with being a bullet magnet.

23. Ikaruga (Arcade, DC, GC, XB360)

Ikaruga is to up and down what Contra is to left and right.  The pinnacle of the vertical scrolling shooter, Ikaruga puts you in the cockpit of an experimental fighter jet that has a dual black and white nature.  Enemy bullets come in both black and white flavors, and you can flip the shade of your ship at any time, allowing you to harmlessly absorb attacks that match your ship’s current color.  When you stack this mechanic on top of the fast paced action, ridiculous weapon upgrades, and screens full of bullets that characterize the genre,  you get a shooter that manages to step past all the games that came before it.  Ikaruga’s creators certainly didn’t invent vertical scrolling shooter, but I’d say they perfected it.

Try counting the bullets.

Try counting the bullets.

22. Tetris (Every system in some form or another)

It would be condescending to even really explain this one.  Suffice it to say that every puzzle game you see today with falling blocks that vanish, and catchy soundtracks (i.e. most of them) owe a dear, dear debt to Tetris and Alexey Pajitnov, its Russian creator.  At age six, I played this on my cinderblock sized original Gameboy until it got boiling hot and made my hands all sweaty.  Sexy right?

If you can't play tetris, then I'm relatively certain you can't function in human society.

If you can't play Tetris, then I'm relatively certain you can't function in human society.

21. Toe Jam and Earl (Genesis)

I have to admit up front, that Toe Jam and Earl holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first game that taught my little brother and I to really work together.  And who doesn’t love a story of shipwrecked, early 90’s rap stereotype aliens avoiding murderous suburbanites while attempting to rebuild their busted spaceship and escape back to planet Funkotron?  This one earned its spot on the list by being endlessly entertaining, and groundbreakingly innovative at the same time.  TJ&E was a first glimpse at the future of cooperative multiplayer gaming for many young gamers like my brother and I.  It was also the first game to allow players to separate from each other in the game world, as the screen dynamically splits into two if the players wander too far away from each other in the course of their adventures.  On top of all that, it was the first game to successfully mix gaming and rap, take that Def Jam Vendetta

Awww, this makes me wistful.

Awww, this makes me wistful.

Ok, I’ll have the next five list dwellers served up shortly kids