Review: Dynasty Warriors 7 (Xbox 360)

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It’s been a decade of Dynasty Warriors. Where other games had died off for refusing to evolve, Koei’s series has defied the odds, marching on thanks to a dedicated fanbase that can’t get enough of tearing through hundreds of costumed cannon fodder without breaking a sweat. It’s the kind of punchy appeal that beat ‘em ups of old had – only with a SHMUP-like attention to body count.

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The Agency is no more…along with over 200 jobs

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The Agency was supposed to be an MMO based on spies and a worldwide theater of covert ops. It was hugely ambitious with real-world cities to be used as hubs for missions and teams defending the world against other players determined to steal it. It sounded awesome.

Unfortunately, it seemed to exist only as vaporware with the occasional screenshot or video released every few months to remind players that it was barely alive. And now we’ll never know if we could have been in like Flint, or as slick as James Bond.

That’s because the project was canned along with most of the people working on it. According to the news over at the Hollywood Reporter, Sony Online Entertainment had also announced shuttering three studios – all of which were involved with the Agency along with a number of other projects.

Over 205 employees are to be laid off in the restructuring as Sony focuses more on two other MMOs: reviving the action shooter MMO, Planetside, as Planetside: Next, and continuing to build atop one of the oldest MMORPGs out there, Everquest.

It’s not the first time that a promising project like the Agency has been shuttered. The game industry is, unfortunately, filled with more than a few stories of canceled titles due to a number of reasons ranging from a lack of funds, corporate restructuring, or simply losing focus or interest in the project. Hopefully everyone affected will be able to quickly land on their feet elsewhere.

Review: Homefront (PS3)

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Red Dawn, a film released in 1984, channeled Cold War thrills with an invasion of America by the Soviets and their allies. While it might have stretched the limits of plausibility, it was still a fun piece of fiction that imagined how it could have gone down and how ordinary people became heroes in defense of their homes.

Games have also gotten into the act ranging from IO Interactive’s third-person shooter, Freedom Fighters, to Massive’s RTS epic, World in Conflict. But there are no more Soviets, right? Well, there are always ultranationalist Russians if you follow Modern Warfare 2.

Instead, THQ has settled on North Korea to take on the United States.
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The supervillain’s life: “DC Universe Online” reviewed

By Brittany Vincent
Contributor

Time constraints and an avalanche of games falling from my enormous backlog kept me out of the MMO fold for quite some time, but one title finally struck my fancy enough to bring my inner supervillain out of hiding: DC Universe Online.

I’d avoided MMOs for years, fearing the cost of addiction rearing its ugly head. But it’s 2011. It’s a new year, a fresh start, and I’m rockin’ shiny new spandex while l smear the good guys all over the pavement. It’s been about a month into my masquerading as a costumed supervillain, and I’m here to report back.

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The verdict? DC Universe Online isn’t a game-changer, but it’s overall a decent
option to get casual players into test-running an MMO, especially for
gamers like me who have all but abandoned the genre. I can’t say it runs
particularly well for a console iteration, like say Final Fantasy XI, a
perennial favorite for me when the mood strikes for grinding, but it
certainly has its moments.

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Rockstar Games announces “L.A. Noire” launch date

Rockstar Games’ next title, “L.A. Noire,” will be released May 17 for PS3 and XBox 360 platforms, the company announced today.

The European release is set for May 20.

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The ambitious-looking game puts players in the role of an LAPD detective assigned to protect and serve the people of the City of Angels – and devils. The game takes place in a postwar setting that should be instantly recognizable to fans of film noir and detective fiction. 

Rockstar mined the conventions and visuals of spaghetti westerns for 2010′s “Red Dead Redemption” and L.A. Noire’s aesthetic similarly resembles such films as “L.A. Confidential” and “Chinatown.”

The gaming media has thus far made much of Rockstar’s efforts to use new technology to capture facial movements to such a degree that players will be expected to determine whether NPC’s are telling the truth or not during the course of an investigation.

This looks to be one of the most anticipated games of the year and gamers around the world will want to see if the new tech works out as new gameplay mechanism or just makes the characters look cool. At the very least, it will be interesting to see how the company behind the Grand Theft Auto series interpret the world of law enforcement. 

DC Universe Online designers try to build new MMO audience

The success of DC Universe Online may depend on whether the title finds an audience among gamers who have yet to enmesh themselves in the addictive MMO genre.

Besides using the DC Comics universe as a setting, the new title is designed to attract new players by offering a slam-bang combat system and gameplay that’s relatively quicker than existing MMO titles.

“What felt superheroic was picking up cars and throwing them at people,” game director Chris Cao said. “I wanted to make MMOs more fun for more people.”

DC Universe Online is scheduled to be released Tuesday, Jan. 11. Sony Online Entertainment is releasing the game for PS3 and PC.

The game allows players to design their own superheroes or supervillains and play under the tutelage of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman or those characters’ nemeses, Lex Luthor, Joker and Circe. The storyline casts Superman foe Braniac as lead antagonists, and other DC Universe characters are billed as featured players.


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Sony’s game is not the only effort to set a well-known fictional universe as the scene of a new MMO. Bioware’s “Star Wars: The Old Republic” is set for a springtime release, and Cao laughed a little when asked if he was excited to see his team’s game on the market first.

Millions of gamers enjoy massively-multiplayer online games, but any quick scan of the Internet can reveal commentary from many other game fans who stay away from the genre. Titles like Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft” or NCsoft’s “Aion” can attract players with sprawling virtual worlds, but can repel others simply by the prospect of grinding through long hours of gameplay.

Thus in Cao’s words, DC Universe Online comes across as a game designed for the MMO newcomer, if not the MMO skeptic. The game has the character creation and raiding features that are common to MMOs, but also player-versus-player challenges that pit skill against skill. In other words, the idea is for playersto be able to to compete against each other even if they haven’t spent every waking hour grinding through level after level.

The game’s combat system is designed to be more similar to titles like “Bayonetta” or the “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” series than other RPG’s, CAO said.

Grinding is also reduced compared to other MMOs, he said. Players can reach the game’s highest level in 40-50 hours.

“If you want to play another game or another couple games, you will be able to,” he said.

DC Universe Online is set to retail for $59.99 on PS3 or $49.99 on PC. Monthly subscriptions are set to cost $14.99 after 30 days. PS3 and PC players will play in separate “universes.”

The game is rated T for Teen.

Review: James Bond 007 – Blood Stone

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I’m a Bond fan. I love his films. Not all of the movies were great, but at least on the whole, they’re better off than his often polarized career in gaming has been.

Blood Stone is the latest to punch and shoot it’s way onto shelves. But the question I have is why it’s begging me to buy a smartphone.
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Review: Assassin’s Creed – Brotherhood

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Brotherhood isn’t some ‘multiplayer only’ experiment: the kind of game where it wants to rely on only one online trick to convince customers to part with their hard-earned money because it uses ‘multiplayer’ like a magic word.

When Ubisoft began to talk up Brotherhood in the past year, it was hard to ignore how much of a tease they were making of its multiplayer but not so much of its single-player. The reason, it turns out, is because the single-player is alive and well and needs no introduction.
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Ni no Kuni – an RPG so potentially awesome it comes with its own spellbook

This is a game that I’ve been watching for awhile now ever since I heard about it about two years ago. Level 5 (Rogue Galaxy, Dragon Quest VIII) and famed animation house, Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind) have teamed up to make Ni no Kuni, an RPG for the DS and the PS3. The DS version comes out December 9th in Japan with the PS3 getting its own next year. According to the news out from Andriasang, a public ceremony is also planned on the 8th to commemorate its completion.

The story revolves around a young boy whose mother has recently passed away. But his tears bring a doll to life which leads him to another world where it might be possible to bring her back. Aside from the fact that Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli will be doing the animation work for the game, it also comes with a – get ready – 352 page magic book to help uncover secrets within it as well as flesh out its lore. I only hope that the gameplay is solid.

Check out the Japanese trailer below showing off the DS version and quite a bit of the animation work telling the story within the game. And let’s hope it makes it over here sooner rather than years later!

Review: Star Wars – The Force Unleashed II

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The Force Unleashed from Lucasarts is the kind of fantasy wish-fulfillment that franchise fans hope to see from their favorite worlds.

It’s also not the first time that Lucasarts had dabbled in giving players a chance to step into the robes of a Force wielder. But unlike the subtle nuances of Jedi Knight on PCs or Bioware and Obsidian’s take with Knights of the Old Republic, the Force Unleashed tramples the screen like a rabid rancor.

It’s unfettered by bothersome things like guns or a library of Force skills. Instead, it whittles the experience down to the bare essentials allowing jump-in Jedi to brazenly wield the Force as a god-like adept capable of delivering a beat down to Darth Vader and the Emperor.

I thought it was tremendous fun, though with a few rough edges – especially involving one Star Destroyer. But I liked it. It had a certain flamboyantly overpowering style that made it a Force flavored guilty pleasure in blasting countless Stormtroopers into the air again and again.

The Force Unleashed II, though, wasn’t quite the sequel that I was looking for.
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