Tomb Raider Rebooting

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The Tomb Raider movies were alright. They weren’t “great”, but they were entertaining. Even though there were only two Tomb Raider movies, there have been a number of games to help carry on the legend of Lara Croft, give or take a dud or two. I’m still trying to forget that Angel of Darkness had ever happened. It was bad, but I’m not so sure it was to blame for the soft box office returns on her second film, Cradle of Life, which Paramount did. Cradle just wasn’t that great.

A safe eight years later, it looks like someone is thinking about bringing Lara back to the silver screen. According to Inside Movies, it seems that Graham King (producer of films such as The Departed and The Town) has snagged the rights through his company, GK Films, to do a reboot.

It also means that you can likely forget Angelina Jolie returning to the feature role, though I wouldn’t be surprised if she does a small cameo for her fans of the character. After seeing her in Salt, she still has the chops to beat anyone down.

King apparently intends for the heroine to return to the screen in 2013. As for what direction it will follow, that’s anyone’s guess. If the heroine is going to be anything like the new Lara Croft in her own upcoming video game reboot, you can probably expect her to be darker, grittier, and a lot less glamorous – which is fine by me.

Homefront goes gold

“Homefront,” the upcoming FPS that puts players in a world where the Communist “Greater Korean Republic” occupies the United States has gone gold. In other words, the game is now in production.

It would probably be impossible for any military to execute a transpacific invasion of the United States – given that this country has satellites and missiles that can be shot at big surface ships or transport jets carrying troops – but who cares about realism? “Red Dawn” screenwriter John Milius wrote Homefront’s single-player campaign, and anyone who ever saw Red Dawn knows the movie asked its audience to believe that a Soviet-invasion of the United States would result in Soviet paratroopers attacking a small town in the Colorado Rockies, thousands of miles from supply lines or the military realities of the 1980s.

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But  … Red Dawn was still an entertaining movie with a relatively high quotability quotient, so Homefront may turn out to be a fun game. The under-rated Freedom Fighters (2003) featured an equally unlikely Soviet-invasion scenario in New York City, but it was fun to play the role of a patriotic urban guerrilla fighting commies alongside heavily-armed NPCs.

Homefront, developed by KAOS Studios and published by THQ, is set for a March 15 release in North America for PC, PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.

Pokmon cannot be stopped

The Pokmon franchise’s never-ending quest to keep the 1990s alive continued today with the release of “Pokmon Black Version” and “Pokmon White Version” for the Nintendo DS.

The twin games boast 150-plus new Pokmon to catch and train. The in-game environments are timed to coincide with actual reality, so different Pokmon are said to be more difficult or easier to find during different seasons. Additional advertised features include broadband and infrared communications features for Pokmon battles and trades.

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Blade Runner could return

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According to the Hollywood Reporter, Blade Runner may be making a “multiplatform” comeback if Alcon Entertainment manages to get the rights to the classic sci-fi icon.

If you don’t know what Blade Runner is, you owe it to yourself to watch it especially if you like science fiction and action in the same film. Directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven) and released in 1982, while it wasn’t so much of a box office smash, it regularly tops lists today on being one of finest “dirty tech” thrillers to have ever been made.

Starring Harrison Ford as a ‘Blade Runner’ – a cop who specializes in hunting down renegade cyborgs that look just like humans – the film is set in a dystopian 2019 ruled over by corporate empires towering over crowded streets, bad fashion, cigarettes, and endless, dirty rain. A game even came out years later from Westwood Studios which followed the story in parallel and featured quite a bit of cutting-edge CGI for the nineties.

So that begs the question: is a game in the offing? Maybe, maybe not. All that I’m hoping for at this point is that if Alcon does get the rights, they quash some of the chatter about “rebooting” Blade Runner. The original was a solid piece of work that doesn’t need to be remade, but the world that it takes place in is filled with a lot of possibilities.

After all, this is a future where fresh eyes are ordered up like sunglasses and which had also acted as inspiration to one particular up-and-coming games designer by the name of  Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid series). Now if only he’d come up with a new Zone of the Enders…

UPDATE (3.4.2011):
io9 landed an interview with the producers and it sounds like they’re not doing a remake, period. More like an expanded set of stories around the whole Blade Runner universe which could be awesome. Check out what they have to say at this link.

Demos out for Major League Baseball 2K11 and Top Spin 4

A little late on this one, but 2K Sports released demos for Major League Baseball 2K11 and Top Spin 4 on Tuesday.

The demos are available for XBox Live and PlayStation Network players.

Major League Baseball 2K11′s demo features a three-inning scenario between last season’s World Series opponents, the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers.

Top Spin 4′s features tennis pros like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Ana Ivanovic and Serena Williams in settings like the U.S. Open and French Open.

New screenshots for Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Nintendo has released some remarkable screenshots from “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D,” which obviously is a remake of one of the best video games ever made.

OOT came out waaay back in 1998 for the Nintendo 64, when this writer was still in high school. Although it’s not hard to find players badmouth N64-era graphics on current-day gaming sites, it’s hard to overestimate how amazing the game appeared during the Clinton Years.

After years of 2D gaming, OOT gave players a chance to control Link, the Zelda series’ famed protagonist, in 3D environments that featured water that looked like water, ice that looked like ice, and fire that looked like fire. OOT’s polygons may look blocky by today’s standards, but there were few – if any – games in 1998 that had so many visually dramatic moments as the first time players could see the vast sweep of Hyrule Field, journey inside a volcano or travel into a sandstorm while Spanish guitar music played in the background.

Playing

Playing OOT was the first time I ever thought a video game could be art, as opposed to an amusement. The game was beautiful, had an arresting story, and different sound effects depending on whether Link walked on a hard or soft surface. That last part may seem silly, but I was struck by an attention to detail I had previously only expected to see in movies.

But that’s old stuff. The new is that OOT is being re-released for the Nintendo 3DS, a portable capable of 3D images. The 3D re-release is not scheduled to be in stores when the 3DS comes out on March 27, but is possibly getting more press coverage than any title set to be available on launch date.

I’ve rambled enough. Here’s the first screenshot, I’ll let more images speak for themselves after the jump:

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Continue reading

Nintendo 3DS news: Mario, Netflix and more

Nintendo officially announced today that a new Mario title is in the works for the 3DS, the company’s soon-to-be-released portable 3D system.

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president, made the announcement today during a speech at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. Tech-Out didn’t get to be there, but we did get Nintendo’s bulletin.

In Mario news, Nintendo revealed the same team behind “Super Mario Galaxy” and its sequel are at work on the new game.

The 3DS is scheduled to be released March 27 in the United States at an MSRP of $249.99.

Other Nintendo 3DS news includes the following:

  • Netflix customers will be able to stream content to the 3DS, which is also possible with the Nintenod Wii. This service is expected to be offered by summer.
  • Nintendo has a deal with AT&T owners to provide 3DS owners with free access to more than 100,000 AT&T hotspots nationwide.
  • Customers will be able to download Game Boy, Game Color, TurboGrafx-16 and Game Gear titles to the 3DS. (Anybody out there ever own or play a TurboGrafx -6? This writer never got to see one in action, but remembers the Bonk’s Adventure commercials.)
  • A “3D Classics” line will include select games to be remastered in 3D.

Apple reveals iPad 2

Apple customers will have a chance to spend more money this month when the Cupertino firm releases the iPad 2. The sequel to Apple’s popular tablet device is set for a March 11 release in the United States. The price? $500 to $830.

Ailing Apple CEO Steve Jobs appeared to introduce the new project. For more coverage, please check out the San Jose Mercury News‘ reporting on Apple’s new offering. Here’s an excerpt:

Apple CEO
Steve Jobs, officially on medical leave, received a standing ovation as
he stepped on stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts here at a
press event at which he announced the second generation iPad.

The
new device represents an upgrade from the first one, which has been a
runaway hit. The iPad 2 will have a new dual-core processor, front- and
rear-facing cameras and will be both thinner and lighter than the
original iPad.

And it will get some new features. Thanks to the
cameras, the new iPad will be able to make video calls using Apple’s
FaceTime software. And Apple will include with it its PhotoBooth program
that allows users to take self-portraits and customize them with all
kinds of goofy filters.

Apple is also bringing two programs
familiar to Mac computer users to the tablet: video editing program
iMovie and GarageBand, a music editing application. iMovie was
previously available for the iPhone; the new version that will be
compatible with both the iPhone and the iPad will be available on March
11 for $5.

Crysis 2 demo online for XBox, PC

EA Games’ new multiplayer demo for “Crysis 2″ went online today for PC and XBox 360 players, the game publisher announced.

From the game’s website:

Players will compete in six vs. six matches set against a war-torn
Manhattan in two maps: “Skyline”, set on top of the rooftops and
interiors of skyscrapers, and “Pier 17″, an open environment with
limited cover. The demo also features two modes: “Team Instant Action”
pits two teams against each other as they kill as many opponents as
possible to win the round and “Crash Site,” where players will battle
for control of alien drop pods, earning points by guarding their pods
and keeping enemies at bay.

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Lucy Lawless’ voice to be heard in Hunted: The Demon’s Forge

Lucy Lawless, formerly of “Xena: Warrior Princess” and currently appearing on “Spartacus: Lords of the Arena,” will voice a character in the forthcoming “Hunted: The Demon’s Forge,” Bethesda Softworks announced.

Lawless’ new character is Seraphine, an “adventurer-turned-temptress” who leads game protagonists Caddoc and E’lara “into a dark and
twisted adventure with promises of great wealth and power.”

Hunted is scheduled for a June 1 release on PC, PlayStation3 and XBox.

Additionally, a Lucy Lawless news item gives me an excuse to embed this clip.

Lisa: Xena can’t fly.
Lucy Lawless: I told you, I’m not Xena. I’m Lucy Lawless.