Review: Thor – God of Thunder (X360)

52118-thor_2-thumb-480x270-52117.jpg

Movie tie-in games are a staple of the industry along with the notoriety that they often bear as quick cash-ins. Not every movie gets one, though whenever one is made, it’s usually greeted with a mixture of dread and fear by those that know their reputation. Exceptions to the rule are rare. The hope that the next project might break the curse also often disappears almost as quickly as the game does into the bargain bin.

Thor: God of Thunder from Liquid Entertainment tries to shatter that reputation, building on the excitement surrounding the film. Yet even for the mighty Nordic godling empowered by Marvel heroism, it proves to be a fight even he can’t win.
Continue reading

Quick Review: Battlefield Play4Free Beta (PC)

51595-bfplay4free_1-thumb-200x104-51594.jpg

So what’s not to like about EA’s free FPS? It’s cheap, disposable 32-player fun that’s good for a quick bite of action, though it won’t replace your copy of Bad Company or Modern Warfare 2.

It’ll be supported through microtransactions which means that you’ll need to pony up real-time cash to buy things like extra soldier slots (you start out with only two freebies) and permanent weapons outside of the generic stock that classes start with. It’s also still a Beta which means glitches like the one where I had lost an entire level’s worth of experience after being dumped from the game. I hope they fix that.

If you want to live free, that’s okay, too – experience for levels and training points for skills are still  earned. Vehicles cost nothing, other than having the skill to actually use them – especially in the air – and the maps offer plenty of places to use for cover, snipe, or face to face time with heavy armor. All in all, a fun fix for FPS junkies that doesn’t require anything more than a browser and a decent internet connection.

The Secret World reveals…more secrets

Funcom has released a new trailer that delves into the shadowy stories and conspiracies making up its backdrop.

Everything from the Tower of Babel to the Ark of the Covenant are being used as potential jumping off points for this new MMORPG. In it, players will take part in a secret war for the fate of the world as three factions will vie for supremacy using magic, technology, and mythology. Sounds like it could be a winning combination.

Review: Bulletstorm (X360)

50387-bulletstorm_1-thumb-480x270-50386.jpg

Bulletstorm has a story, but you won’t be paying much attention to it or its testosterone-washed dialogue as you kick, slide, and shoot the naughty bits of your enemies – all in a drive to score points that can be used to upgrade your arsenal of destruction. It’s a wonderland of smashing, bashing, and lashing that doesn’t quite make it so much an FPS as a carnival sideshow gallery of kicking bags for adults.
Continue reading

New Skyrim trailer teases gameplay

Out today is a new trailer from Bethesda Softworks for the next major chapter in their Elder Scrolls series: Skyrim.

This time, it has gameplay that drops more than a few hints on what would-be heroes can look forward to when this open-world RPG arrives on November 11th. Players on the PC, Xbox 360, and the PS3 will all have a chance to save Tamriel, though if the previous games were any indication, they’ll have to set some time aside for this one. Oblivion, its predecessor, literally had a hundred plus hours of gameplay to it especially when you factor in the add-ons.

Now the bigger question is: will my PC be able to actually run this thing?

Leaked: Crysis 2

50003-crysis2_lked-thumb-200x160-50002.jpg

Developer Crytek joins a sad list that includes Electronic Arts and Valve to have a game of theirs leaked ahead of release. In this case, according to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, it’s a development build of Crysis 2 for the PC. The actual posting that had initially reported the leak is here on Facepunch. No, it doesn’t lead to where you can get it. It’s only a post from a reader that found it elsewhere and wanted to report it to others.

The actual game is scheduled to come out on March 22nd, but depending on how far along this particular build is, it could very well be close to what will be considered the “gold” copy that will go out for production. In other words, this is incredibly bad. To make things worse, sites including those above report that the build apparently has the game editor (for PCs), multiplayer, and the master key files for online authentication.

A post on the official Crysis forums by Crytek expresses their disappointment at the news and urges players to support the game when it comes out in March. With more than a few publishers and developers appearing to be looking for excuses to leave PC gaming in the dust, this leak can’t be helping.

Kim Jong-il doesn’t exist in Japan’s version of Homefront

49817-Homefront_1-thumb-200x141-49816.jpg

He’s gone, really, according to gaming blog Andriasang, because of the rules that CERO has in place for every game. CERO is the Japanese equivalent of the ESRB, the ratings board over here in the States, though their requirements are a bit different from ours. For example, two of the rules they have against “scenes deemed malicious to an existing person/country” have apparently replaced North Korea with “A certain country in the North” and Kim Jong-il with “Northern Leader”.

If you’re not sure what Homefront is, it’s THQ’s new shooter that’s headed to retail in March. It features the somewhat sketchy premise of North Korea’s successful unification of the peninsula and its preparation in the years since for war, culminating in half of the United States falling for a surprise invasion. The story puts players in the shoes of a grassroots resistance movement in occupied America as they take up the fight. With the tensions between Japan and North Korea, it’s probably not too hard to understand why this might be a somewhat sensitive topic.

It’s also not the first time a game coming in from the States has had to go through the wringer in order to enter certain markets. Australia’s somewhat draconian rules have made headlines over the years for their handling of titles such as Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2 which only entered the country via a German version that was already edited for content. Typing in “video games banned” in Google brings up “video games banned in australia” as an auto-complete term.

Even the United States has its own funny rules on censorship. One example that jumps out is how the NES’ port of Bionic Commando originally pit the player against Nazis complete with Hitler at the end – until it was whitewashed when it came over here. The Japanese fought a vast, neo-Nazi empire while we got – Badds and Master D. Now, more than twenty years later, it sounds as if they’re getting the Bionic Commando treatment. Of course, the difference is that one game was based on history and sci-fi; the other more on speculation on current events.

Things have somewhat relaxed a bit since then, even for Nintendo, and I’m also sure the Japanese audiences looking at the game know exactly who Homefront’s story is really pointing to. THQ is also apparently okay with it leaving it to Spike in Japan to handle the distribution there. As long as the gameplay itself proves to be just as interesting, a relatively small change like this shouldn’t keep Japan’s gamers from finding the same amount of fun that other gamers elsewhere are hoping to get from Homefront.

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!