Review: Syndicate (X360)

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In 1993, Bullfrog Productions introduced the world to an isometric, future dystopia where augmented “Agents” were used by megacorporate empires to take the battle for market share out of the boardrooms and into the streets.

It was a tactical game spread across fifty cities across the world as you guided your team of four to cripple the competition by any means possible even if it meant using civilians as meat shields. The Atlantic Accelerator mission still gets a nod from me for its ruthless difficulty, and that was before the expansion pack made things even worse.

Since then, it’s become a cyberpunk classic so when EA and Starbreeze announced that Syndicate would reboot as an FPS, more than a few people were upset. For some, it reminded them of what FASA under Microsoft had done with Shadowrun. Even I had doubts. At the same time, it’s also easy to understand why. In a market dominated by Activision’s Modern Warfare, it’s a safe guess that they were trying to answer how to get an audience that may not have even played the original game to give this a shot.

And now after moonlighting as a new Agent, I can safely say that while it won’t knock your cybersocks off, it doesn’t quite leave the operating table littered with leftover body parts from the original, either. 
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Review: Kingdoms of Amalur – Reckoning (PS3)

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Bethesda Softworks’ first Elder Scrolls game, Arena, took FRPGs by storm in ’94 packaging an entire continent on a set of eight 3.5″ discs requiring only 25MB of space on your hard drive and experiencing it all in first-person.

The randomly generated terrain and quest system created the illusion of endless adventure spanning a vast wilderness rife with cities, isolated towns, secrets, swamps, and barren deserts. Nearly 20 years later, new entries into the series herald hundreds of hours of lost productivity and countless memes as players take extended vacations into the worlds that Bethesda crafts under its banner.

Others have also tried, with varying success, to emulate that success and now 38 Studios’ freshman effort has boldly staked its own claim. After years in development and with EA taking on the publishing duties on this sandbox, history could be repeating itself.
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Review: The Darkness 2 (Xbox 360)

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Jackie Estacado isn’t your typical Mafia Don. He’s young, brash, and possessed by a gut ripping terror from beyond known only as the Darkness. For him, the voices in his head are all too real.

In the last game, it was an unexpected birthday inheritance that put him at odds with the dark power passed down to him from his father. At the same time, it also allowed him to tear apart his gun toting enemies with ease in revenge for the death of his childhood sweetheart, Jenny.

Two years had passed since then and while Jackie still pines for her, life has gone on. And he has turned his back on the Darkness, suppressing it since then. That’s until someone tries to take him out, nearly killing him in the process forcing him to dip into the Darkness’ bloody well once again.
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If I got a chance to write a sequel to L.A. Noire …

The possibility that Rockstar games might – emphasis on might – develop a sequel to L.A. Noire is, to me, the most interesting story circulating on gaming websites today.

Despite some, uh, difficulties in developing a sequel based on the adventures of the original protagonist, LAPD detective Cole Phelps`I think there is plenty of room for a second game exploring the history of crime, corruption and law enforcement in Los Angeles. I know some players would rather see a sequel set in another city, like Chicago, and although I think Chicago would be a great setting for a game, I’m sticking with Los Angeles because I grew up near the City of Angels.

H/t to Kotaku, Joystiq.

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Mass Effect 3 gives “Femshep” her own trailer, stuff blows up

This is a couple days old, but I didn’t get a chance to post BioWare’s new Mass Effect 3 trailer until now.

This is the first trailer from the Mass Effect trilogy to feature a female Commander Shepherd, commonly known “Femshep” among many of the same fans who call the male version of the game’s protagonist “Broshep.” Anyone who has played Mass Effect or Mass Effect 2 know that the game allows players to build a custom male or female character. Anyone who has not played a Mass Effect game should check them out, since the franchise is this writer’s favorite series to debut during the current console generation.

“Femshep” is voiced by Jennifer Hale, who is widely regarded as one of the premier voice actresses in video games. Watch her and her allies blow stuff up in space in the new trailer:

Review: Soul Calibur V

Soul Calibur V leaves a good first impression, but after putting some time into the game, one discovers that this (mostly) sword-fighting game is not going to earn itself a place in the book of legendary titles.

The latest chapter in the Soul Calibur series begins with a quite impressive opening scene that builds a desire to jump right into the game. Soul Calibur V’s story mode is typical for a fighting game. The hero goes through a series of battles until you reaching an
over-the-top end guy. Where Soul Calibur V starts to fall short, however, is in the development of the hero character, Patroklos. He comes off as whiny, ill tempered and it seems as though
he kills innocent people because he believes them to be “malfested.” These traits make it
very difficult to get behind the character and root for him to win.


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Review: FFXIII-2 (PS3)

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Square Enix’s FF13 was a controversial title to a number of longtime fans of the flagship series. Much has been made of its heavily linear area designs, overly long tutorials, shallow world, and its twitch-centric combat system. To more than a few, for a game expected to carry the series forward, it seemed to be heading in the wrong direction.

FF13-2 wants to change all of that. Or at least head back in a direction that won’t burn as many bridges behind it. Boasting a new story packed with all of the ludicrously beautiful visuals that HD televisions squee with delight over, Square Enix took much of what was criticized about the first game by focusing on hammering out the rough edges.

It’s not the first time that they’ve followed up on one of the series’ major chapters in this fashion as FF10-2 can testify, but it is probably the first time that the changes aren’t so much experimentation as they are a belated do-over of what didn’t work as well the first time around.
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