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: 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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E3 Video: Beyond – Two Souls

Quantic Dream, the makers of Heavy Rain, had also unveiled their next PS3 exclusive at E3 called Beyond: Two Souls starring a young woman named Jodie and asks the question of whether there is something else after death.

It also sports Quantic Dream’s improved engine which brings even more creepy realism to their CG actors. Ellen Paige (X-Men, Juno) is also the main actress, loaning her likeness and voice talents to star in the title. After seeing this the first time, it immediately hit my “must have” list.

This clip is adult stuff meaning that there’s frank language in there along with a little violence, but it’s also as eye catching as anything that you might have seen on the big screen. So heed the warning at the start.

Review: Lord of the Rings – War in the North (X360)

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War in the North takes players back to Middle Earth to fight evil while Frodo and company head to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. Taking place in the North, would-be adventurers will play their part in stemming the tide of darkness waiting to erupt from the cold, wintry holds there.
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Review: Batman – Arkham City (PS3)

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Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum was heralded by many as the most definitive Batman game ever made up to 2009. It garnered accolades from many and even from the Guinness Book of World Records as “The Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever”. Even with its flaws, it was an enjoyable romp as one of DC Comics’ most iconic characters, though the incredible hype machine had also cast a shadow over the sequel.

Stringing up bad guys on rafters and beating everyone down with the Bat’s martial expertise in a game soaked with as much respect for the source material as it was from the animated series was great fun in Asylum, so getting a sequel was almost a foregone conclusion especially given the ending. Two years later, here we are with Arkham City. And the good news is that it’s polished with the lessons Rocksteady had learned from the first game.
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Review: Call of Juarez – The Cartel (X360)

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Call of Juarez: The Cartel is a game that likes making you wait.

Health regeneration is usually a fast and painless way to get back into the thick of things, but not here. In-game cell phone calls can’t be canceled even if you’ve heard them before, and that problem carries over to multiplayer co-op where everyone has to wait until their scripted personal time is finished.

If there’s an explosion nearby, expect to get knocked on your ass and being forced to wait as you get back up. There’s a reason most FPS shooters don’t do this to the player, and it’s not because of realism issues. If you’re thinking “because it’s not fun”, you’re already ahead of this game. 
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E3: Sony’s Press Conference

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Sony held their press conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena with over 6000 attendees waiting to see what they had to offer up this year, especially in light of the PSN outage. Though they didn’t drop too many bombshells, Sony did their best to get people excited for the Move and their new handheld, the PS Vita. 

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Developers Feel PSN Downtime Crunch

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Computer and Videogames has a story in which they spoke to the producer of the upcoming action RPG, Dark Souls. Kei Horono admitted that “I would be lying if I said the problems
with PSN hadn’t caused us some problems, but we are in
contact with Sony and are aiming to meet a street date of October 11.”

The team at From Software who are developing Dark Souls had hinted at a larger online component than they the one used to great success in its predecessor, Demon’s Souls.

Andriasang posted the translated points of an interview from Japanese gaming site, 4Gamer, with the director of Dark Souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki, where he stated that he wanted to bring back the feeling of “the old Dragon Quest” games. In that way, he hopes that it will deliver the sense of where everyone feels the struggle of everyone else by sharing tips as they did in the old days. PS3 players saw a taste of this with Demon’s Souls where they could actually leave simple hints – or deceptions – behind that the servers shared with everyone else in the form of text messages.

With PSN down, however, none of that is coming through making the world of Demon’s Souls even more grim than it already is. The difficulties that Kei Horono admitted to above also emphasize the troubles that other developers may be having with PSN’s forced downtime -  especially for those working on PS3 titles with online features.

IGN had posted a story last month in the early days of the outage speaking to one such developer that was directly affected, Open Emotion Studios. The Irish developer was set to release their puzzler, Mad Blocker Alpha, on PSN for the States on April 19th but as everyone knows, circumstances prevented anything PSN related from happening the next day when Sony took it offline. Paddy Murphy, CEO for Open Emotion, said that they have been in contact with Sony who promised extra marketing to help promote their game to help “recoup our potential losses”.

But the days of exclusivity continue to wane with more games appearing on both the Xbox 360 and PS3. Dark Souls will be the first taste of From Software’s unique punishment that Xbox 360 players may have missed if they didn’t have access to a PS3 and a copy of Demon’s Souls. Even with PSN down, continuing development with Live is likely providing valuable lessons useful for whatever networking tricks will be worked into the gameplay for both versions. This may be why Kei Horono seems confident in hitting that October 11th release date.

And why players will have another reason to be afraid of Halloween.