Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag poster surfaces

ac4posterThe next Assassin’s Creed game may already have a name. Kotaku received the poster to the left earlier today along with other marketing materials for something called Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Ubisoft hasn’t officially announced the name or any details of the next Assassin’s Creed, but they did confirm during their last financial conference call a new game would be coming in their 2014 fiscal year with a new hero and a new setting.

The poster shows an assassin in garb similar to Conner from Assassin’s Creed 3, standing on a pirate ship with a knife in one hand and a pistol in the other. The artwork is apparently from comic-artist Todd McFarlene, leading to the speculation that the poster is legitimate as it wouldn’t be the first time Ubisoft used a comic artist for the Assassin’s Creed series. Promotional materials for Assassin’s Creed 3 used artwork from Alex Ross.

Rumored details for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flags include the main character Edward Kenway, Haythem’s father. Edward is a privateer, assassin, and sometimes pirate, leading to locations in the Caribbean such as Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas. If this is true, Ubisoft seems to be leaning on the strong naval missions from Assassin’s Creed 3, while possibly exploring the narrative behind Haythem’s turn from the assassins to the Templars.

Ubisoft has only said so far that the next Assassin’s Creed game will be coming sometime in the next year. The Examiner ran first screenshot, running on an Xbox 360, showing what looks like an improved lighting model. It’s unknown if the game will be solely for current generation platforms, or have next generation versions as well. Ubisoft is holding an event tomorrow on February 27 presumably to discuss more details about the next game.

The first 30 minutes of Aliens: Colonial Marines in GIFs

As Corporal Winters aboard the USS Sephora, you awake out of cryosleep to respond to a distress call aboard the USS Sulaco. The Sulaco, last seen over Fiorina "Fury" 161 (as noted in Aliens 3), is orbiting back over LV-426. Your squad, Rhino 2-3, is the second squad sent in to assess the situation and recover the flight recorder of the USS Sulaco. Oorah to ashes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dead Space 3 review – thrills through experiment

If the first Dead Space is a survival-horror game, and Dead Space 2 was all about its sense of dread, then Dead Space 3 tends to lean the side of action-horror. You won’t be guns blazing all the time like in a Call of Duty campaign, but the action does kick up whenever human enemies are involved. Despite this, Visceral manages to balance the tension and action with environments that look amazing and sound design matching what set the first Dead Space apart.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bungie’s Destiny: The more things change, the more they stay the same

Over the weekend, Bungie unveiled their upcoming ‘shared-world’ first-person shooter, Destiny. Set among the Earth’s solar system, players will become Knights and Guardians, empowered by The Traveler, a mysterious white orb hovering above the Earth’s last city, to discover what caused the genocide of our species, and who or what is The Traveler. Destiny aims to marry emergent gameplay of an MMO with a persistent first-person shooter, giving players a world that lives and breathes even when they’re not playing. Designed to span over the next 10 years, Destiny will give players a reason to keep coming back as new content and expansions are developed and released, without the need for a subscription fee.

And that’s about all we know about Destiny. Despite the press event held at their headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., Bungie showed little to no gameplay, offering only a high-level look at it through concept art, the engine, in-game models, and music. The assets released thus far have are all concept art shown at the event, with small snippets of gameplay in a video documentary explaining the ideas of Destiny. At one point during the event, they showed a reel not of gameplay, but the reactions of play-testers encountering the emergent gameplay that comes with the MMO design. If testers are involved, Destiny must already be in some sort of playable state, so it begs the question of why Bungie showed things like concept art, but no gameplay.

That’s not to say they can’t pull it off. Bungie did learn how to adapt for consoles with Halo, making it the standard for console first-person shooters. But Destiny is much more ambitious game, both technically and narratively. Without more information like what gameplay is like, how classes work, how multiplayer will work, when it’s coming out, and how it will sustain itself over the next 10 years, I remain skeptical. It’s another reminder that things like CG trailers and early announcements are less relevant.

Destiny is destined for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 sometime in 2014, along other future consoles. Bungie didn’t come out and say it, but expect to see Destiny on the next Xbox and PlayStation. They made no mention of a PC version, but COO Peter Parsons said to Eurogamer, “We would absolutely love to be on the PC. If you talk to the people upstairs, we play it on all platforms. So, stay tuned.” While that sounds promising, I’m not holding my breath. Bungie co-founder and Destiny project director Jason Jones noted, “We've learned a bunch of lessons from MMOs and Facebook games… but Destiny is a console shooter.”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How I plan to play SWTOR for the rest of 2013 for just $15

*Plus expansions costs

Unlike most, I was excited when BioWare announced Star Wars: The Old Republic would go free-to-play. I played free-to-play games in the past, but they hardly held my interest for more than week. With SWTOR, I could dive deep into the free-to-play experience in a game I already played and enjoyed. My playstyle wasn’t vigorous enough to warrant paying $15 a month when I only completed a flashpoint two or three times a week, and luck out into a spot in an operations group on the weekend.

Monday, February 11, 2013

DmC Devil May Cry review – killing demons and thumbs

I’ve never played a Devil May Cry game before. I have no context of what Dante was like before, only murmurings from the internet of how he was either a caricature of a superpowered anime character, or a torn, conflicted man called to fight a war between angels and demons. Whether that makes Ninja Theory’s reboot appeal to me more or less doesn’t matter. What matters is how DmC plays and feels on its own, and if it plays to the strengths of Ninja Theory’s cinematic visuals, vibrant design, and developed narrative.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Diary of an Assassin – Ninth Entry

Note: As I have now moved into the recently released Assassin’s Creed 3, these diary entries will contain spoilers about gameplay and story. Please read cautiously. If you do not want these things spoiled, please read after finishing the game.

Assassin’s Creed 3 ends in a weird place. Desmond is dead. The earth and its population are safe from the solar flare through a global aurora borealis. And Juno is free, planning her rise to power to conquer humans once again.

Ubisoft announced yesterday during their Q3 2012 earnings call that Assassin’s Creed 3 sold over 12 million copies worldwide, making it the most successful entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Following on that note, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot stated a new Assassin’s Creed game will be coming Ubisoft’s 2014 fiscal year, which runs from April 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cart Life reminds me why I’m cautious of indie games

I tend to enjoy big-budget games more than independent games. Polish and production value carry a lot of weight for me, and these elements often take a nosedive with independent games. The majority of independent games tend to be retro platformers with some sort of pixel-art aesthetic, trying to reminisce about the age of the Nintendo and Super Nintendo. While I understand the sense of nostalgia these games try to convey, they lose me in their simplistic design and interaction. That’s not to say I hate indie games. Games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Dear Esther, Limbo, and Bastion carve out their own space, standing not only as spotlight independent games, but also as great games.