Review: “Sleeping Dogs” (PS3)

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By Neil Nisperos

Staff Writer

For those who have ever dreamed of being in a Kung Fu movie or Hong Kong crime thriller, Square Enix’s new “Sleeping Dogs” offers that kind of experience, even if it is not a perfect sandbox game.

Sleeping Dogs allows players to explore the complex and labyrinthine environs of Hong Kong while assuming the role of Wei Shen. Shen is a fearless Hong Kong police officer who infiltrates a Hong Kong Triad criminal organization. Going undercover in the game’s version of Hong Kong means players enter a world of high-speed chases, shady business deals, shakedowns and bone-breaking beat downs.

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Review: Sleeping Dogs (X360)

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Sleeping Dogs might never have come out if Square-Enix hadn’t snagged United Front Games’ latest project after Activision axed it. It was a bold move. The relatively young development house had only ModNation Racers to their name and they were working in territory urban sandbox specialists Rockstar and Volition called home. It wasn’t hard to see why Activision suddenly developed a case of cold feet over its prospects -  even when some of UFG’s members had cut their teeth within those same studios. But then again, no one thought that Rocksteady could pull off as legendary a take on the Dark Knight not once – but twice – with about as much on their resume, either.

UFG’s crime drama takes players to Hong Kong as Wei Chen, an undercover cop on loan from the States working to bring down the Sun On Yee triad. Having grown up along the city’s rough and tumble side streets before his family moved to America, his early education with the swagger and bark of its worst before graduating grade school make him a valuable weapon to his new HKPD boss. 
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Review: Darksiders II (X360)

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In 2010, the first thing that Darksiders did was to destroy the world. It brought on the Apocalypse reserving players a front row seat as one of the Four Horsemen. Humanity was dead, and War was on the march.

Fueled by the vision of comics industry veteran, Joe Madureira, and his team at Vigil Games, it took the charred building blocks of a Biblical end and gleefully twisted them into a vast adventure battling through the aftermath as angels and demons fought over the bones of what was left. But like any good story, there’s always more to tell. And like any good sequel, there’s always more than one way to improve on the original.

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Review: LEGO Batman 2 (PS3)

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Lego Batman 2 is Traveller’s Tales’ sequel to 2008′s Lego Batman. This time, Traveller’s has opted for an open-world approach while maintaining the mission-oriented focus of the previous title. And it even features spoken dialogue. But while it does a number of new things for the franchise, it also arrives with a host of annoying bugs that drag the experience down.
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Review: Lollipop Chainsaw (X360)

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Suda 51 doesn’t just design games. He and his crew at Grasshopper Manufacture lovingly drip the paint from their imaginations onto a digital drop cloth to create some of the most unusual settings, characters, and storylines to be pressed onto plastic. In as much as their ideas ooze crazy atmospherics, the gameplay has also lived up to the technicolor rain around it.

Lollipop Chainsaw is the latest from the eclectic designer and features everything that you might expect from a high school cheerleader ripping through hordes of zombies with the decapititated head of her boyfriend talking occasional smack. Most everything, anyway, but I’ll get to that later.
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E3 Video: Madden NFL 13

This clip from EA talks up the Infinity Engine running underneath the hood of the new Madden NFL 13 and how it’s going to change the experience. Things like balance, tripping over the legs of other players, and how it affects handling how well you can break tackles during and after getting tagged. It will be interesting to see just how long time franchise fans will like what the engine brings to the table when it is arrives August 28th.

Review: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: Enhanced Edition

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The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings:
Enhanced Edition is many things – some good, some not – but it is
certainly a demanding game.

Indeed, The Witcher 2 is a role-playing
game that demands at least two playthroughs just to make sure one
gets a taste of its entire plot. The idea of offering players a
chance to make meaningful choices is a big one in modern games, and
The Witcher 2 not only challenges players by forcing them to choose
from many tactical options, but also forces them at an early point in
the game to decide which storyline they wish to follow.

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Free multiplayer expansion announced for Mass Effect 3, or is “The Truth” true?

In what could be either a desperate attempt to win back Mass Effect fans’ love or a Machiavellian scheme to discourage used games’ sales, EA Games announced today the “Mass Effect 3: Resurgence” expansion will be available for free download on April 10.

The news follows Thursday’s announcement of an “Extended Cut” download to be released this summer for Mass Effect 3. That content, also to be released free of charge, would expand upon the game’s ending. Many fans hated Mass Effect 3′s ending because they felt it did not adequately fulfilled producer’s claims that players choices could result in dramatically different conclusions.

The past couple days’ news seems close to confirming “The Truth” rumor I first saw on Game Front last
month. The rumor held that players would be able to continue their Mass
Effect 3 games after the on-disc ending, and also had it that players
could look forward to extended multiplayer content.

As of Friday, there is no confirmation that the Extended Cut will include playable content, and it may just be new cinematic scenes. Nonetheless, the rumored multiplayer classes are the very ones that EA confirmed today.

From Friday’s announcement:

  • Two New Action-Packed Maps:  Take the battle to Firebase Condor, a warzone outpost located on one of Palaven’s moons and Firebase Hydra,
    an old abandoned quarian colony which has since been converted into a
    critical power facility. Each map represents a crucial asset in the
    overall fight against the Reapers.

 

    • Six Powerful New Unlockable Characters: Assume the role of new characters for each class, including the Asari Justicar Adept, Krogan Battlemaster Vanguard and characters from new playable races with the Batarian Soldier, Batarian Sentinel, Geth Engineer and Geth Infiltrator.

 

  • Lethal New Weapons: Obliterate wave after wave of enemies by unlocking the Striker Assault Rifle, Kishock Harpoon Gun and Geth Plasma SMG.

As an aside, the idea of playing as a Batarian is pretty cool. The four-eyed aliens were generally portrayed as unsympathetic characters in previous Mass Effect games, and one of my small disappointments with Mass Effect 3 was that the storyline did not do more to show the galactic conflict from their perspective.

So what’s going on with all this free content? Are EA and Mass Effect 3′s developers at BioWare begging their fans to love them again? Maybe, but my hunch is that EA and BioWare planned this release pattern all along to discourage gamers from selling their games to GameStop or other retailers after finishing the single-player campaign.

The plan, as it seems to me, is to convince players to hold on to their copies for Mass Effect 3 for a few more months than they may have planned. My guess is that BioWare and EA deliberately crafted an open-ended climax in hopes that players would enthusiastically wait for additional content, but were instead blindsided by the past weeks’ fan backlash.

The makers’ willingness to release free content makes me suspect this content was paid for within Mass Effect 3′s main budget, and was not separately accounted for as a downloadable expansion that EA planned to release as a means to achieve additional revenue. Whether my assumption is correct, and whether this move assuages fans’ anger, have yet to be seen.

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