Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Reasons to be cheerful again...

So I have written about some of the big anticiated titles that will be coming out later this year.  Here are the last few, slated for a Q4 release... particularly that highly marketable window on 11.11.11.

Mass Effect 3

London is burning...

Previously on Mass Effect… In the first Mass Effect, the game ended with a bitter struggle against the Reapers, an ancient alien race that awoke from millennia of slumber to attack the Citadel, the nexus of all intergalactic affairs within the known universe. In a desperate moment, I was forced to make the choice between saving a human war ship or the ship belonging to the alien elder council. I chose to remain loyal to the humans and the elder council regretfully perished, call it poetic justice for keeping mankind largely out of intergalactic affairs. Last year, with Mass Effect 2, I found myself allied with Cerberus, a shady and secretive organization that sought to protect humanity by any means necessary. Sent on a suicide mission against the Reapers, I miraculously survived the mission with my team of assorted badasses and eccentrics intact. After destroying the weapon of mass destruction, I was riding on a wave of good hope, but when Cerberus moved into retrieve the weapon, I stepped in and nobly destroyed the machine, vowing that no sentient creatures should ever wield such tremendous destructive capabilities. I now regret this decision. Mass Effect 3 is coming, and this time planet Earth is being attacked by the ancient alien menace. Once again, I as Commander Shepherd am Earth’s only hope. And if this paragraph has gone over your head, then it is clear that you need to really get into Mass Effect. What Mass Effect does is allow you to create your own space opera. Everybody’s story is slightly different but it has all been leading up to this point. I waltzed through ME2, but based on my shortsighted decisions I’m not sure how I’ll do in ME3.

Batman: Arkham City

Batman shows those night goggled splinter cell amateurs how to be a real stealthy predator...

First game Batman: Arkham City was a pleasant surprise when it was released in August of 2009. A mix of great story, explorative gameplay, free flowing combat, and predatory stealth scenes in which you picked up hapless henchman one by one. Perhaps the biggest achievement of Arkham Asylum was establishing an alternative depiction of the Batman universe in the wake of The Dark Knight. Taking all the components of the character and founding a tightly knit game upon them, the best video game realization of the caped crusader or any comic book superhero in history. Almost immediately after releasing the first game, developers Rocksteady have been hard at work on the sequel, set within a division of Arkham which is this time located within Gotham City. The joker voiced by Mark Hamil will return, and he will be joined by Two Face, Cat Woman, and Doctor Strange, who serves as the game’s big baddy this time round, supposedly aware of Batman’s secret identity. Perhaps the game will have us in the shoes of Bruce Wayne? There will be no bat mobile unfortunately, but we can expect the Scarecrow and the Riddler.

Tomb Raider 9

So how do you go about reinventing one of gaming's greatest icons?

I’m a sucker for Tomb Raider. I had the first game on the original greystation when I was eleven and it was the one series that was mine. I have diligently played every single tomb raider game, right through one to five on the PSone, to the horrendous PS2 misfire that was the Angel of Darkness. I’ve played the three Prince of Persia clones developed by Crystal Dynamics as well as last year’s isometric Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. I also vaguely remember playing a Gameboy Colour Tomb Raider at some point... I’ve lost count of the times they have tried to reboot Lara Croft., but this time, Crystal Dynamics is aiming to tell an origin story. Tomb Raider Begins. Details are scarce, but supposedly you will play as a 21 year old Lara Croft who is shipwrecked on a mysterious island and is forced into a desperate struggle for survival that will test her physically and mentally. There will be an emphasis on collecting food and water, as well as a learning curve that will unlock more areas of the island as you progress. There is supposed to be an emphasis on violence as well as the return of the kind of devious traps from the original games. Combat has also been stripped down, which is probably a good thing, since it has never been Tomb Raider's strongest element.  So basically we can expect a grittier open world tomb raider with a basis on survival and (hopefully) a chance to define Lara as a character. I mean they have actually agreed to give her a much needed breast reduction...  The sound of progress.  May just be the Tomb Raider everybody has been waiting for. Though last time they tried to implement a learning curve was in Angel of Darkness… “I cannot open this door. I’m not strong enough”. It was like the feminist revolution never happened.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

And the reason as to why cinema is seeing a decline in ticket sales?

The first Uncharted was a great mix of tomb raider and gears of wars. Uncharted 2 was even better, building on the cinematic qualities of the first game generating an experience that was far more enjoyable than most Hollywood action movies. Not bad for a game that essentially boils down to highly linear platforming and the slaughter of thousands of armed guards. The pull of Uncharted has always been with the story and the characters and to a lesser degree the sheer quality of its visuals and animations. With the third installment, developers Naughty Dog are choosing a desert location telling a story that focuses upon the relationship between Drake and old friend Sully. This time around, Naughty Dog were supposedly lured towards the prospect of creating realistic sand effects. Whatever floats your boat I guess. Supposedly we can expect several key references to Lawrence of Arabia and Flight of the Phoenix as well as plenty of Nathan Filionisms.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Elder Scrolls V... now with dragons, chanting warror monks and Max Von Sydow...
 Skyrim does sound a bit fruity, but regardless, it has been a long while and two Fallout games since The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It is easy to forget how good that game was. The hours spent exploring that beautiful game world, picking wild flowers, and running naked through the forests to the nearest cave where I could hide my vampire body from the harmful rays of the sun. Usually being chased by a procession of angry wildlife and an assortment of mythical creatures. So Elder Scrolls V has finally been announced. Hooray! Details are sketchy at the moment but there have been some confirmations, even a few screenshots if you look hard enough. Whilst the landscape of Oblivion was mainly European in look, Skyrim will be based upon the Nordic landscape, expect lots of snow and jagged rock formations then. The game will run on the completely new Creation engine which allows for improved graphics and larger draw distances. Leveling up will be a refined version of what was seen in Oblivion with a perk system similar to that of Fallout 3. NPCs will also react realistically to your actions, knock somebody’s vase over the people will jump etc. Added to this there will be the usual series of side quests which will by automatically tailored to your characters skill and development. There will also be dragons of some kind… Oh and mammoths. You heard, living breathing mammoths in the game world. Finally a game that realizes my fantasy for the hunting of big game prehistoric creatures. Throw in a whaling mini-game and I’ll never leave the house… Sounds epic in every sense of the word. Well met... 

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