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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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.

The fun side of nuclear war: Bethesda reveals Fallout: New Vegas DLC

The first “Fallout: New Vegas’” next three DLC packs will be released May 17, Bethesda Softworks reported today.

The new episodes follow December’s release of “Dead Money” for XBox Live players and remind this writer that he has not even finished all of Fallout 3′s DLC. (I’ll get into that spaceship someday.)

Fallout fans may remember (perhaps bitterly, if they play on PC or PlayStation 3) that “Dead Money” was a timed exclusive for Xbox and did not arrive on other platforms until late February. There’s no such arrangement this time, so all players who want to give Bethesda their money for more Fallout action can give Bethesda their money at the same time.

Here are descriptions of each episode from Bethesda’s press release:

Available
on May 17, “Honest Hearts” takes you on an expedition to the
unspoiled wilderness of Utah’s Zion National Park. Things go horribly wrong
when your caravan is ambushed by a tribal raiding band. As you try to find a
way back to the Mojave, you become embroiled in a war between tribes and a
conflict between a New Canaanite missionary and the mysterious Burned Man. The
decisions you make will determine the fate of Zion.

 

In
Old World Blues
, releasing in June, you will discover how
some of the Mojave’s mutated monsters came to be when you unwittingly
become a lab rat in a science experiment gone awry. You’ll need to scour
the Pre-War research centers of the Big Empty in search of technology to turn
the tables on your kidnappers or join forces with them against an even greater
threat.

 

Lonesome
Road
,
available in July, brings the courier’s story full circle when you are
contacted by the original Courier Six, a man by the name of Ulysses who refused
to deliver the Platinum Chip at the start of New Vegas. In his transmission,
Ulysses promises the answer as to why, but only if you take one last job
-a job that leads you into the depths of the hurricane-swept canyons of
the Divide, a landscape torn apart by earthquakes and violent storms. The road
to the Divide is a long and treacherous one, and of the few to ever walk the
road, none have ever returned.

Each DLC episode will be sold for $9.99 American or 800 Microsoft Points, for those doing business in the Republic of XBox Live.

Obsidian Entertainment developed the New Vegas games for Bethesda.

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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Today’s releases, March 29, 2011

  • Shift 2 Unleashed (EA Sports) Racing title for PC, PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.
  • Tiger Woods PGA 12: The Masters (EA Tiburon). Golf title for Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.
  • WWE All Stars (THQ San Diego) Wrestling title for Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, and XBox 360.
  • NASCAR The Game 2011 (Eutechnyx/Activision). Racing title for PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.
  • Country Dance for Wii (High Voltage Software/GameMill Entertainment). Dance title for Nintendo Wii
  • Mayhem 3D (Zoo Entertainment/Rombax Games) Demolition derby title for PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.

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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Review: Major League Baseball 2K11

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Major League Baseball 2K11 is an acceptable, if sometimes flawed, baseball title that won’t elevate 2K Sports’ franchise above its reputation for falling short of greatness. The game is like a journeyman player who can play a role in the big leagues, but is not ready to start any All-Star Games.

But for some gamers, 2K11 is the only option for a baseball title. PlayStation 3 owners can try the beloved MLB: The Show franchise, and The Show’s 2011 edition is also in the marketplace. I’ve played a little bit of MLB 11 and it works. I’m approaching this review, however, from the point of view of an XBox 360 owner whose choice is between 2K11 or nothing.

From that perspective, 2K11 is OK for gamers who really want an MLB title, but frustrating moments and an over-complicated control scheme prevent the game from being as stellar as it could have been.
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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.