Alex's forum posts

#1 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

I realize that I may be putting myself on the lunatic fringe of gaming culture here, but it needs to be said: Luigi's Mansion is pretty great. Popular opinion seems to have landed on the GameCube launch title actually not being so great, but when has popular opinion ever been the guiding force behind anything correct? Most I've talked to seem to mark Luigi's Mansion not as a particularly bad game, but lame simply by virtue of being thrown to the GameCube launch slaughter by Nintendo in place of an actual Mario game. Despite our decades-long familiarity with the lankier Mario brother, one must confess that Luigi ain't Mario, and busting ghosts ain't stompin' on Koopas.

It's good to see E. Gadd back. It really is.

Still, judged purely on its own merits as a cartoonish ghostbusting simulation, Luigi's Mansion was a fun, simple, deeply charming little game that Nintendo went on to completely ignore for years following as if it were some kind of ghastly mistake that would bring shame upon the company were its name ever to be uttered again by human mouths. At least, that was the case until this year's E3, where Nintendo inexplicably decided to revive the long-dormant title and give it a proper sequel on the publisher's new handheld system, the 3DS. As a longtime Luigi apologist, I felt it deeply necessary to get my hands on this thing and see for myself that it actually existed. I can happily report back to any interested parties that yes, Luigi's Mansion 2 exists, and it's looking quite good.

Let me make one thing clear right from the get-go: This is Luigi's Mansion. New developer Next Level Games who previously did a bang-up job reviving another hibernating Nintendo franchise in Punch-Out!!, does not appear to have reinvented the vacuum cleaner here. The demo at E3 brought me right into familiar territory, with noted Professor of Ghostology E. Gadd briefing our perpetually terrified hero on the first of several mansions he'll be exploring in the name of ectoplasmic extermination, followed by gameplay involving flashing lights at ghosts, and then hitting them with vacuum cleaner suction. Sometimes the ghosts fight back, sometimes you are collecting coins, sometimes you are hunting for keys. This is very much the thing.

== TEASER ==
Do you prefer the Springsteen or Manfred Mann version of "Blinded By the Light?" Just curious.

Okay, so it's a familiar formula, I grant you, but it also still plays great, provided you can get behind the generally slower pace of the title. Maybe it's more a result of the deluge of recent titles in other Nintendo franchises than an actual testament to Luigi's Mansion 2's gameplay, but nothing about the game felt particularly rehashy or tired. It's been close to ten years since we played a new one of these things, and while it'd be great if Next Level could find a way to throw a few surprises our way--and perhaps they will, since I did only see a super early level, after all--I still enjoyed running around and chasing ghosts just like I did back on the GameCube.

Now, for the small matter of this story's headline. Let's face it: the 3DS is currently in a state of needing some damned video games, and while Nintendo did bring out some heavy hitting names at its press conference, including the likes of Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, and Kid Icarus, few of these titles--that have been shown anyway--seem to really do much with their 3D presentation beyond simply existing in 3D. Mario Kart in 3D is still pretty much Mario Kart, you guys.

Luigi's Mansion 2 isn't radically different in its handling of 3D, mind you. The game isn't some ludicrous revolution in how we perceive 3D. Rather, what I've seen so far is actually an intelligent way of effectively using 3D while keeping it entirely in the background. The game's camera maintains a fixed perspective, and the 3D is used to add depth to each room you find yourself in. With 3D turned up, hallways appear longer, objects in the room appear closer or further, and as you get your ghost hunt on, you get some nifty three-dimensional effects as you crawl ever closer to sucking that mean old ghost into your handy vacuum bag.

This is the part of the horror movie where the lady in the back screeches out "Gah! Look out behind you!" Except it'll be you doing that, and you'll feel dumb, because you can just make Luigi turn around.

It's great, because after a short bit, the 3D just seems like a completely natural thing. It's there, and it aids the visual presentation immensely, but it never goes out of its way to call attention to itself. It appears similar to the mentality Naughty Dog took on when adding 3D to Uncharted 3--find a way to benefit the visuals and the gameplay, and avoid unnecessary gimmicks.

It's a great-looking little game, currently only hindered by a somewhat erratic framerate. The game does tend to slow down when a bunch of ghosts materialize on screen, to the point where it actually becomes a touch unplayable. That said, Nintendo only has Luigi's Mansion 2 slated for a near-formless 2012 release date, so Next Level has ample time to clean up such impurities.

To Next Level, I also suggest they use that time to add some original quirks and unexpected elements to the gameplay, not to satiate the vocal minority of dismissive players who demand every Nintendo game be brand-new and totally familiar all at the same time, but in order to truly make it a work of their own. Punch-Out!! felt like Punch-Out!!, but it also had its own distinctive quality that made it stand out as not just another remake. Next Level is on a great path here, and it just needs to find the right balance between the classic and the original. Slavish dedication to a formula will only take you so far, after all--even if that formula hasn't been employed for the better part of a decade.

Staff
#2 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

Despite fairly strong sales of its most recent title, Frontlines: Fuel of War and Homefront developer Kaos Studios evidently had not done enough to justify its continued existence to parent company THQ. Today, the publisher announced that the New York City-based developer had been closed, alongside THQ's UK studio, THQ Digital Warrington.

Despite generally middling reviews, Homefront had, at last tally, sold well over a million units, and THQ had shipped more than 2.6 million to stores. Still, lackluster word-of-mouth did the title few favors past its initial release, and development of the upcoming Homefront sequel has evidently been shifted to THQ's Montreal studio.

THQ had no comment on the reason behind the closure, except to call the move a "a strategic realignment within its internal studio structure." THQ also noted in its press statement that the publisher is currently hiring at its Montreal, Austin, and Vancouver studios, and that anyone affected by the Kaos and Digital Warrington layoffs would have the opportunity to interview elsewhere in THQ.

Kaos' last development efforts on Homefront were on the now unfortunately titled "Fire Sale" map pack, which releases tomorrow.

Staff
#3 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

Despite all appearances to the contrary at Microsoft's E3 2011 "Media Briefing," Peter Molyneux really wants you to know that Fable: The Journey is not on-rails. Like, not even a little bit.

Molyneux was having journalists sign this wall at E3, to signify that "It's not on rails."

In a video captured by OXM UK, Molyneux attributes the misconception to his own "horrendous mistake." Specifically, a decision made to remove the game's navigation components for the E3 demo, in order to simplify the demonstration of the title's gestural controls. So, yes, what you saw at E3 was on-rails, but the real game won't be.

What, exactly, those navigation components entail we still don't know, but one has to imagine they weren't exactly in an overly functional state if Lionhead felt it necessary to straight up strip them out and risk giving people the complete wrong idea about their title during a press conference streamed out to the entire world. Or maybe Peter Molyneux just really likes screwing with people. After all, it's not like he's proven himself averse to saying things that don't turn out to be entirely true.

As for the previously demonstrated magic energy ball rave dancing motions seen in the demo, those seem like they'll probably still be in the game. Unless, of course, Peter just up and decides those were a horrendous mistake too. I wouldn't put anything past him, at this point.

Staff
#4 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

The Wii U may still be a ways off from having any sort of concrete release date or identifiable games beyond the tech demo-y amusements shown at E3, and the third-party ports we still know little-to-nothing about, but that doesn't mean Nintendo ain't got some games coming over the course of the next year. After all, the console-maker does still have the 3DS, DS, original Wii, and various digital platforms still hanging around, ready to play some damn video games.

I was really worried I wouldn't get my required dose of Kirby-brand cuteness this year. Color me relieved (and pink).

Nintendo has released the upcoming release schedule for all of its various platforms, at least insofar as it's currently known. Plenty of big titles, such as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Super Mario 3DS, still have semi-nebulous "Holiday" release dates. However, a few biggies now have firmer dates, the highlights of which I'll run down for you before sending you off into the barely navigable wasteland of Nintendo's full lists.

On the 3DS front, Star Fox 64 has now been locked into the admittedly awkward release date for a flight-based game of September 11th. That's the only Nintendo-published game to get a firm release at this juncture, but multiple third-party titles, such as Shin Megami Tensei :Devil Survivor Overclocked (August 23rd), James Noir's Hollywood Crimes (August 30th) and Rayman Origins (March 13th, 2012) have been locked in.

On the regular ass regular DS, Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 has settled on an August 28th release, while Kirby Mass Attack will drop on September 19th.

Not a ton to report on the Wii front, though feel free to scribble down on your calendar that Ubisoft plans to release Smurfs Dance Party to stores on July 19th, and, in a clear effort to tap into the too-long-ignored "unemployed shut-in with an unhealthy addiction to the Game Show Network" audience, will drop both Family Feud and Price is Right games on September 27th. Also, a company called Game Mill Publishing is releasing a game called Country Dance 2 on November 1st. I can't confirm or deny whether this is the same Game Mill that released Big Rigs, but regardless, I totally expect to see a copy of that mailed overnight to me from the Whiskey San Francisco offices, with a note attached that reads "DO THE JOB."

If you'd like to see an insanely long list of things nebulously listed as "HOLIDAY" or "2012" and sometimes even "TBA," go ahead and check out the full list of dates below. I've attempted to reformat this into semi-readable text (and even put Nintendo's first-party business up top, defying their rigid alphabetical formatting), but even still, I can barely deal with this list. For serious guys, it's super long.

== TEASER ==

Nintendo

3DS:

  • The Legend of Zelda™: Ocarina of Time™ 3D June 19
  • Star Fox 64™ 3D Sept. 11
  • Kid Icarus™: Uprising Holiday
  • Mario Kart™ Holiday
  • Super Mario™ Holiday
  • LEGO® City Stories™ 2012
  • Luigi's Mansion™ 2 2012
  • Animal Crossing™ TBA
  • Paper Mario™ TBA

Wii:

  • Wii Play: Motion -- June 13
  • Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident -- June 27
  • Kirby Wii -- Fall
  • Fortune Street -- Holiday
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword -- Holiday
  • Mario Party 9 -- TBA
  • Rhythm Heaven -- TBA

DS:

  • Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 -- Aug. 28
  • Kirby Mass Attack -- Sept. 19
  • Professor Layton and the Last Specter -- Fall
  • Super Fossil Fighters -- Holiday

2K Play

Wii:

  • Nicktoons MLB -- August
  • Nickelodeon Dance -- November

DS:

  • Nicktoons MLB -- August
  • Dora and Kai-Lan's Pet Shelter -- November
  • Team Umizoomi -- November

Activision

3DS:

  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon™ June
  • Skylanders Spyro's Adventure™ Oct. 16
  • Generator Rex: Agent of Providence October
  • Spider-Man™: Edge of Time Fall

Wii:

  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon -- June
  • Skylanders Spyro's Adventure -- Oct. 16
  • Generator Rex: Agent of Providence -- October
  • Spider-Man: Edge of Time -- Fall
  • X-Men: Destiny -- Fall

DS:

  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon -- June
  • Generator Rex: Agent of Providence -- October
  • Zoobles -- November
  • X-Men: Destiny -- Fall
  • Spider-Man: Edge of Time -- Fall
  • Wappy Dog -- Holiday

Aksys Games

3DS:

  • BIT.TRIP SAGA End of Q3

ATLUS

3DS:

  • MAHJONG CUB3D™ July 19
  • Shin Megami Tensei® :Devil Survivor Overclocked™ Aug. 23

DS:

  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 -- Q1 2012

Capcom

3DS:

  • RESIDENT EVIL®: THE MERCENARIES 3D June 28
  • RESIDENT EVIL: Revelations TBA

D3 Publisher

3DS:

  • Angler's Club: Ultimate Bass Fishing™ 3D Summer
  • BEN 10™ GALACTIC RACING Fall

Wii:

  • Ben 10 Galactic Racing -- Fall

DS:

  • Ben 10 Triple Pack -- Summer
  • Ben 10 Galactic Racing -- Fall

Deep Silver

Wii:

  • Winter Stars -- Q4 2011

Disney Interactive

Wii:

  • Cars 2: The Video Game -- June 21
  • Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension -- Aug. 2
  • Disney Universe -- Fall

DS:

  • Cars 2: The Video Game -- June 21
  • Phineas & Ferb: Across the Second Dimension -- Aug. 2

Electronic Arts

3DS:

  • Need for Speed™ The Run Nov. 15
  • FIFA Soccer 12 Fall
  • The Sims™ 3 Pets Fall

Wii:

  • Madden NFL 12 -- Aug. 30
  • FAMILY GAME NIGHT 4: The Game Show -- October
  • FAMILY GAME NIGHT Fun Pack -- October
  • MONOPOLY Collection -- October
  • TRIVIAL PURSUIT Bet You Know It -- October
  • Need for Speed The Run -- Nov. 1

DS:

  • Madden NFL Football -- March

GameMill Entertainment

Wii:

  • Country Dance 2 -- Nov. 1

DS:

  • Moxie Girlz -- Nov. 1
  • Pillow Pets -- Nov. 1

Konami

3DS:

  • Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights Summer
  • Frogger 3D Fall
  • Nikoli Pencil Puzzle Fall
  • METAL GEAR SOLID 3D SNAKE EATER Winter

Wii:

  • DanceDanceRevolution II -- Fall
  • Karaoke Revolution Glee: Volume 3 -- Fall

DS:

  • Beyblade Metal Masters -- Fall

Majesco Entertainment

3DS:

  • Face Racers Photo Finish Sept. 6
  • The Hidden Oct. 4
  • Cooking Mama 4 Kitchen Magic Oct. 11
  • Pet Zombies Oct. 11
  • Nano Assault Nov. 15

Wii:

  • Zumba Fitness 2 -- Nov. 8

DS:

  • Camping Mama Outdoor Adventures -- Sept. 6

Mentor Interactive

Wii:

  • ThinkSMART Crazy Machines -- June 7
  • DS:
  • ThinkSMART Crazy Machines -- June 7
  • ThinkSMART Labyrinth -- June 7
  • ThinkSMART Scotland Yard -- June 7
  • ThinkSMART Chess for Kids -- September
  • ThinkSMART NARABA: The Labyrinth of Light -- October
  • ThinkSMART NARABA: The Mysterious Palace -- October

Namco Bandai

3DS:

  • ACE COMBAT® 3D (working title) 2011
  • DualPenSports™ 2011
  • PAC-MAN® & GALAGA® DIMENSIONS 2011
  • PAC-MAN Party™ 2011
  • Tales of the Abyss ® TBA
  • TEKKEN ®3D (working title) TBA

Wii:

  • Go Vacation -- Fall
  • Power Rangers Samurai -- Fall 2011

DS:

  • Power Rangers Samurai -- Fall 2011

NIS America

3DS:

  • Cave Story 3D Aug. 9

Sega

3DS:

  • CRUSH™ 3D Sept. 6
  • Shinobi™ September
  • Captain America™: Super Soldier™Fall
  • Thor™: God of Thunder Fall
  • Sonic Generations™ November
  • Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games™ February 2012
  • Square Enix, Inc. Heroes of Ruin™ Early 2012

Wii:

  • Captain America: Super Solider -- July 19
  • Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games -- November

DS:

  • Captain America: Super Soldier -- July 19

Tecmo Koei

Wii:

  • Champion Jockey: G1 Jockey & Gallop Racer -- Q4 2011

Telegames

DS:

  • Ultimate Card Games -- Q4
  • Ultimate Brain Games -- Q1 2012

Tetris Online, Inc.

3DS

  • Tetris® October

THQ

3DS:

  • WWE®'12 Nov. 22

Wii:

  • UFC Personal Trainer -- June 28
  • WWE 12 -- Nov. 22

Ubisoft

3DS:

  • Cubic Ninja™ June 14
  • Petz Fantasy™ 3D June 21
  • Driver® Renegade Aug. 30
  • James Noir's Hollywood Crimes™ Aug. 30
  • Puzzler Mind Gym (working title) Sept. 6
  • Imagine® Fashion Designer Oct. 11
  • Cute Puppies Oct. 25
  • Horses 3D Oct. 25
  • Imagine® Babyz 3D Oct. 25
  • Michael Jackson The Experience Oct. 25
  • NCIS (working title) Oct. 25
  • Raving Rabbids® 5 (working title) Nov. 1
  • Farm (working title) Nov. 15
  • The Adventures of Tintin (working title) Dec. 6
  • Rayman® Origins (working title) March 13, 2012

Wii:

  • The Smurfs Dance Party -- July 19
  • Family Feud 2012 (working title) -- Sept. 27
  • The Price is Right Decades -- Sept. 27
  • Just Dance 3 -- Fall
  • The Adventures of Tintin (working title) Dec. 6

DS:

  • The Smurfs -- July 19

WB Interactive

3DS:

  • Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters June 7
  • Happy Feet Two™: The Videogame Fall
  • LEGO® Harry Potter™ : Years 5-7 Holiday

Wii:

  • Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters -- June 7
  • Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Grover! -- Summer
  • Happy Feet Two – The Videogame -- Fall

DS:

  • Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters -- June 7
  • Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Grover! -- Summer
  • Happy Feet Two – The Videogame -- Fall
  • LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 -- Holiday

eShop

Gameloft

  • Let's Golf! 3D Summer

SEGA

  • Columns™ Summer
  • Dragon Crystal™ Summer
  • Shinobi™ Summer
  • Sonic Drift™ 2 Summer
  • Sonic The Hedgehog: Triple Trouble™ Summer
  • Nintendo Picture Lives! TBA
  • The Rolling Western™ TBA

WiiWare

  • La-Mulana -- Summer
  • MotoHeroz -- Summer

DSiWare

  • AfterZoom -- July 14
  • Pro Jumper! Chimaki's Hot Spring Tour Guilty Gear Tangent -- June 23
  • Moto eXtreme -- June 30
  • Zoonies -- Escape from Makatu -- Summer
  • House, M.D. -- Blue Meanie -- August
  • House, M.D. -- Skull & Bones -- November
Staff
#5 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

Me telling you that Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception looks as though it will offer a thrilling cinematic single-player experience is probably unnecessary. That's what Naughty Dog does. There's no identifiable reason to assume that Uncharted 3 would suddenly fall off the wagon, unless the team suddenly decided to take on a massive, collective drug habit. Fortunately, the representative developers on hand at E3 2011 appeared stone-cold sober during my demo of the game. Perhaps a bit hungover, but honestly, who isn't at this show?

So, again, none of what I'm about to tell you will be surprising. What it may be, however, is enticing. As if the level shown at Sony's press conference weren't enticing enough--with its impressive "On a Boat" physics and animation, intense gunplay, and insane water effects, that level more or less sealed the notion that, yes, Uncharted 3 was going to be another big, honking blockbuster action game. Then myself, alongside a theater full of other gobsmacked writers, found ourselves privy to a new, otherwise unseen level. That double-sealed the deal.

Eventually, you're gonna want to get on that plane, by any means necessary.

Snippets of this level could be seen in Uncharted 3's E3 trailer--specifically, the moment at the end when you see Nathan Drake hanging off the back of an airborne cargo plane all end of Air Force One style, and on the verge of a horrid crushing death via a massive cargo crate. Now, I can actually give you a little context for how that whole bit of life-threatening absurdity came about.

The scene opens with Nathan and series love interest Elena infiltrating a desert settlement full of gun-toting thugs. This marked a particularly emotional moment for the pair--an interesting juxtaposition to the action-heavy footage we tend to see of these sorts of games at trade shows. Nathan knows he's about to go do something incredibly dangerous and stupid, and after convincing Elena that he will help her over the fence into the compound after he climbs to the top, he instead opts to drop down and leave her on the other side. Nathan leaves her behind because what he's about to embark upon is borderline suicidal, and in an act of selflessness, he insists she leave in a nearby jeep, out of fear that he might lose her "again."

From a technical standpoint, this is actually a pretty neat look at, since it gives an indication of the improved facial animations (especially in the eyes) for each of the major characters. More importantly though, it was honestly one of the more effective attempts at emotional resonance I've seen anywhere in this series. Some of the dramatic beats in Uncharted 2 could, at times, feel a little strangely paced and overbearing in nature. Here, the scene delivers on the hoped-for impact. It reflects both in the technology, and the vocal performance.

But enough of that emotional garbage, as you undoubtedly want to hear about Nathan Drake smoking dudes and blowing shit up. Good news: he does a lot of that. Once Elena disembarks the scene, Nathan goes right to work, initially trying to stealth his way toward the plane, but after a short time, he's in the thick of battle against the nearby thugs.

One of the most impressive things this level specifically demonstrated is Uncharted 3's fluidity of combat. Let's face it: this has been the E3 of the quicktime event. And while a few of those are fine, a nonstop deluge of them can make a game's action feel mechanical and distancing for the player. Admittedly, I am saying this second-hand, as the demo I saw was developer-steered, but the impression I got from watching him play through this section was that quicktime events simply don't exist here, at least not in the traditional sense.

This is not an easy thing to do!

As Drake runs across rooftops to try and catch up to the plane, he takes down a variety of enemies in multiple ways--one he pulls over the edge of a rooftop via a stealthy move, and another he simply leaps down upon from a higher roof after a running jump--and the whole thing looked, dare I say it, effortless. There weren't a million button prompts, either. Drake wasn't running on rails, like the Need for Speed: The Run out-of-car sequences. This kind of fluid action is something that's always felt good in Uncharted, but here, it just looks incredible.

After a bit of acrobatic vehicular action--of which all I will say is that Nathan Drake has exceptional balance when riding on the hood of a moving vehicle--Drake works his way up into the landing gear of the plane. He begins crawling through a ventilation duct that runs underneath the floor of the plane, only to run smack dab into an area occupied by a rather hefty guard. This launches into one of the most impressive fight scenes I've ever seen in a game.

Drake is out-sized and outmatched handily. Recall the fight between Indiana Jones and the massive guard toward the end of Temple of Doom, and you'll have an idea of how this plays out. It's not just the size, either. The beats of the fight, the flow of the action, all of it recalls the great adventure movie fights. That's not something I say lightly, as I often compare fisticuffs in games to the classic robot fight between Rock 'em and Sock 'em. Not here. The way the camera captures the action, and the way the characters animate, it feels dynamic, like a properly choreographed battle between a hero and a villain. And no button prompts! None that I saw, anyway. This wasn't just a pile of canned cutscene animation--I kept looking back at the developer to check the controller and be sure he was actually playing, and unless he's a master of smoke and mirrors, he was most definitely playing along.

Where things go from there, you can logically guess based on that stinger from the E3 trailer. I've omitted a few key details from this recap as some of this stuff really needs to be experienced first-hand to be truly appreciated. Suffice it to say, Naughty Dog's E3 showing was incredibly impressive, and seems to indicate that come November 1st, we're all in for a half-tucked treat.

Staff
#6 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

Let's just push this bit of business out of the way right up front: my name appears in The Gunstringer. Twisted Pixel's lead designer on the project, a surly, vaguely unattractive Australian by the name of Dan Teasdale, is someone I've worked alongside in my sordid past. Part of the game's grading system involves "review quotes" from various "critics." According to Teasdale's site blog on the subject, he apparently wanted a "likable jerk" to help provide quotes. Evidently, he first thought of me, which I guess is sweet. Sort of.

The only thing more terrifying than skeletons with guns is Dan Teasdale's haircut.

Anyway, I sent him a bunch of fake review quotes to use in the game. I did this entirely gratis, as it'd probably be something of a conflict of interest to be paid for such work. Plus, I like dangling favors like this over people's heads, calling in return favors at the most inopportune and uncomfortable times. And, I get to say I contributed to a game alongside a personal hero of mine in Troma Films founder Lloyd Kaufman, who also submitted some alarmingly bizarre quotes. Seemed worth potentially tarnishing my good name.

Now that you know all of this information, you may now marvel as I attempt to actually make objective judgments about The Gunstringer, based on my first attempt at playing it at this year's E3. The unpleasant Australian man himself is at the Microsoft booth demoing the game, and despite my general reluctance toward being in the same room as him, my curiosity toward this bizarre product I've lent my name to got the best of me.

If you're unaware of the game's premise, here's the quick and dirty version. The game is a puppet show. Almost literally. All the game's action takes place on a "stage," complete with a live action video audience that the game will periodically cut away to for reaction shots and applause/boos. Your character, the titular Gunstringer, is a skeletal cowboy on a mission for revenge. All the action is built into Microsoft's Kinect sensor, with your left hand controlling the "strings" of the Gunstringer, and the right controlling the gun. Movements are generally simple, requiring you to direct your left hand left, or right to move the Gunstringer, and up to make him jump. To shoot, you simply point your right hand at the screen, and cock it back to fire.

The entire game is on rails, so all you need to worry about is dodging, jumping, and shooting. One section of the game I saw being played by someone else did involve some side-scrolling gameplay, with a good deal of jumping and obstacle dodging, though still while on rails.

The question with any Kinect game at this point in the technology's lifespan generally tends to be, "Do the controls work?" Good news: yes. I've heard from some that previous builds of the game played a little loose, with more latency between your movements and the in-game reactions than you'd tend to want. I experienced nothing of the sort in the latest E3 build. The controls felt appropriately sensitive, and the Gunstringer would react to my movements with appropriate levels of sensitivity to my admittedly violent gesticulations. It feels good, and best of all? You can play sitting down.

I can't tell you how badly I've wanted to put a whole mess of bullets into one of these things.

The game will, of course, feature Twisted Pixel's trademark brand of absurdist, borderline sociopathic humor. You'll be fighting everything from murderous wobbly arms puppets to unholy cross-breedings between lumberjacks and alligators. Apparently there's a pretty good, too-long sex scene between a lumberjack and an alligator somewhere in the game, so that's super hot.

Take these opinions with as many grains of salt as you please. My closeness to the game obviously prevents me from ever reviewing the final product, but I was honestly just curious to get my hands on the thing after all these months of emails filled with abject cursing and ludicrous legal threats between myself and Mr. Teasdale. And I honestly came away digging it. Today's news that The Gunstringer would move from the realm of Xbox Live Arcade to a final retail product is an interesting one, though Teasdale did say to me that they are planning on fleshing the game out with more content in anticipation of the retail release. At least, that's what I inferred from the series of the dismissive wanking motions he kept making every time I'd ask a question.

We'll bring you more on The Gunstringer as it gets closer to release. Though I probably won't. Not until Teasdale makes good on that favor, at least. Any suggestions on what kind of horrible thing I can make him do? I'm thinking some kind of secret murder on my behalf.

Staff
#7 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

Say this for Nintendo: they're rarely predictable.

This morning's E3 2011 Nintendo press conference promised to unveil the console maker's next generation of hardware, and Nintendo did not disappoint. Instead, it mostly confused, bewildered, and at times, very much impressed.

Games will support unique displays via the screen when you're playing on the TV, or transfer gameplay directly to the screen.

Let's start with the name, which had been the subject of much bandying by various industry pundits. Everything from just "The Nintendo" to far more ludicrous options had been tossed around, but the near-universal agreement that the Wii branding would be ditched turned out to be a falsehood. The Wii U is the new system, and Reggie used the name unveiling to make a few alliterative talking points regarding "unity" and "utopia" among players.

The console is designed to cater to both the hardcore audience that Nintendo seemingly all but abandoned when the Wii was first introduced, and the casual-minded players who flocked to the Wii in its early days. But just what the hell is this thing, anyway?

Nearly all of the presentation was dedicated to the new controller technology, a slick-looking, tablet-inspired device with two circle sticks, a d-pad, the usual suite of buttons, a gyroscope, a built-in camera, and what have you. However, the big draw is the built-in screen, a 6.2 inch touch-sensitive screen that can emulate at least some version of the graphics you'll see on your TV screen.

Though the demo at the conference didn't do much to explain this, there is actually a Wii U box that hooks up to your TV, which works in proper HD. It's backward compatible with all existing Wii games, and apparently supports existing Wii hardware too.

This is the box. Yes, there is a box.

One of the more intriguing things about the new controller device is that it actually lets you keep playing your games if you decide to do something else with your TV. Whatever game you're playing via the TV will automatically switch to the controller screen should you decide to start watching something else on television.

Nintendo's big thing was to demonstrate the number of different uses for the tech, which included everything from video chat, to stylus drawing, and a variety of motion/video-based controls. However, this was done largely at the expense of new game announcements. Reggie himself only touted one new game in development--a new Lego title from TT Games--but a video featuring several third-party developers and publishers including a slate of game announcements, including Darksiders II, Assassin's Creed, a new Tekken game, Metro Last Light, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, and more. EA's John Riccitiello even vaguely described the "possibility" of a Battlefield game appearing on the system, as Battlefield 3 footage played behind him. However, he stopped short of an actual announcement.

Nintendo is not showing any full games at E3, but rather is sticking to "game demos," which sound more like tech demo-ish proofs of concept. Regardless, we'll definitely be getting our hands on this strange, fascinating new device during the show. Look for more in the near future.

Staff
#8 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

Capcom's Yoshinori Ono was on-hand at Sony's E3 2011 press conference to unveil a new version of the publisher's upcoming crossover fighting game, Street Fighter x Tekken for Sony's new handheld system, the PlayStation Vita.

The Vita version is aiming to deliver a full fighting game experience on the new system, and even comes with a goofy little bonus feature separate from the console versions: Infamous' electrifying hero, Cole. Ono even demonstrated a bit of his in-game fighting skills and, well, it looks ridiculous. Still, it's no weirder than Kratos wandering into the Mortal Kombat universe, right?

No word on whether the other version of the title, Namco Bandai's Tekken x Street Fighter, will get similar treatment, but that's probably up to Namco Bandai, isn't it?

Staff
#9 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

At its E3 2011 press conference, Sony finally ended the long, excruciating wait to know what its new handheld console will be branded.

Surprise! It's the thing that's been rumored for weeks: the PlayStation Vita.

Stalwart Sony executive Kaz Hirai revealed the name during a conference presentation, in which he also gave a brief look at some of the social networking tools built into the hardware, and announced both wi-fi and 3G-enabled models of the device. He also announced that AT&T would be the exclusive network carrier for the device, which elicited a rather massive audible groan from the audience in attendance.

The price of the two different models has just been released via press release. The 3G model will retail for $299, while the wi-fi only model will go for $249.

Staff
#10 Posted by Alex (2446 posts) -

Here's something we weren't expecting: a PS3-exclusive shooter from a PC MMO that features direct connectivity with that same MMO. But that's exactly what we got at Sony's E3 2011 press conference.

Dust 514, a online first-person shooter from EVE Online developers CCP, is itself a massively-multiplayer online game of some fashion. In addition, actions that take place in either game affect the other. How, exactly, that will all work is still a matter of some question, but CCP and Sony seem confident that this universe is something worth investing in, as Dust 514 will also include Move support, have its own dedicated Home space (yay?) and find its way to the NGP/Vita somewhere down the line.

Dust 514 is scheduled for release in the Spring of next year, and a closed beta will launch later this year.

It's a fascinating crossover that, honestly, I'm not completely sure what to make of. What do you folks think?

Staff