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Well this is some creative marketing. Head on over to markoftheninja.com to play through a ninja-centric text adventure game. It's called "Mark of the Ninja," and it's brought to you by Klei Entertainment, makers of Shank.
(Well, it's not really a "text adventure" game like Zork or The Lurking Horror, it's more of a "choose your own adventure." But I digress.)
You'll assume the role of a black-clad Japanese assassin, making choices about how best to hunt and kill your prey. Do you lash out from the shadows, or do you wait?
Here in the street stands another guard, bigger than the last. He's guarding the entrance to a squat hotel. He is the only man standing between you and your prey.
You wait for the guard to glance away, and then fling your grappling hook at the lightpost. It hooks the metal and pulls you through the air with a gentle whoosh, until you are perched above your enemy. Even if he looks up, he won't see you: the light is in his eyes.
As you make decisions, the prompts asking what you'd like to do melt away, replaced by a "final" version of the story you just told. It's neat! And then you finish the story and, of course, are treated to some gameplay footage of the real Mark of the Ninja, an upcoming 2D stealth video game made by Klei.
And so this choose-your-own-adventure game stealthily becomes a video game teaser... just like a ninja.
Mark of the Ninja [Klei Entertainment]
This launch trailer for Shank 2 is a spectacle of gore and cartoony style. One of the sequel's additions to the original downloadable game is Survival Mode, which you can get your bloodthirsty eyeballs on right here. Both there and in the game's single-player, rest assured that yes, you will feel like Rambo (and that's not new to the sequel).
Shank 2 is available now on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.
This week, there's a good amount of solid stuff new at the PlayStation store; it ain't the horn of plenty that we've seen in the past, but it's certainly better than the cursed wasteland that was last week's PlayStation Store update.
We've got Shank 2, which is new this week, as well as Gotham City Impostors, and a full-game download of the super-cool Catherine. Rocksmith gets some Pearl Jam music, and there's even some free Amy wallpaper, since I know you've all been jonesing for that.
Read the full list below:
PSN Games: The Simpsons Arcade Game
minis: Hungry Giraffe
PS one Classics: Final Fantasy V
Early Access Demo: The House Of The Dead III Exclusive Playstation Plus Demo
Media: Qore Episode 45 – February
Full Game Trial: Catherine
Jak 3 ($14.99)
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy ($14.99)
Jak II ($14.99)
Shank 2 ($9.99)
The Simpsons Arcade Game ($9.99) Free for PlayStation Plus Subscribers
Gotham City Impostors ($14.99)
Jak and Daxter Collection ($39.99)
Top Spin 4 ($29.99)
LEGO Pirates Of The Caribbean ($39.99)
Jimmie Johnson's Anything With An Engine Demo Cubixx HD DemoGotham City Impostors Demo
UNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception Add ons (x23) ($0.49 – $5.99 each) Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 - Weapon Expert Pack ($3.99) Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning - Finesse Bonus Pack ($2.99) Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning - Might Bonus Pack ($2.99) Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning - Sorcery Bonus Pack ($2.99) Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning House Of Valor (Online Pass Paid) ($9.99) The King Of Fighters XIII Unlock Gallery ($2.99) Final Fantasy XIII-‐2 – Noel's Outfit: Battle Attire ($2.99) Final Fantasy XIII-‐2 - Opponent: Lightning & Amodar ($2.99) UFC Undisputed 3 -‐ Ultimate Fights Rivals Pack (Free) UFC Undisputed 3 -‐ Ultimate Fights: Submission Pack (Free) UFC Undisputed 3 Alistair Overeem ($0.99) UFC Undisputed 3 Season Pass ($16.99) Rocksmith – Black By Pearl Jam ($2.99) Rocksmith – Jeremy By Pearl Jam ($2.99) Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-‐7 - 5 Spell Pack ($1.99)
Blacklight: Tango Down (Price Change) (PS3) (now $4.99, original price $14.99) Swarm (Price Change) (PS3) (now $4.99, original price $14.99) Bloodrayne: Betrayal (Price Change) Sale (PS3) (now $9.99, original price $14.99) Ys: I & II Chronicles (Price Change) (PSP) (now $14.99, original price $24.99) The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (Price Change) (PSP) (now $19.99, original price $29.99)
Carnival Island Avatar Bundle 2 ($1.49)
Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning Avatars Bundle ($2.99)
Kingdoms Of Amalur Avatars (x10) ($0.49)
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational Game Video
The Tester Season 3 Episode 1
Starhawk Press Reactions Trailer
Starhawk Public Beta Welcome Trailer
ModNation Racers: Road Trip Features Video
Journey Music Trailer
Warlords: How To Play Trailer Part 1
Warlords: How To Play Trailer Part 2
Need For Speed: The Run Italian Pack Trailer
SSX: This Is SSX Trailer
SSX: It'S Tricky Trailer
SSX: Survive It Trailer
Binary Domain Bigger Than You Think Trailer
Yakuza Dead Souls: Npc Trailer
UFC Undisputed 3 Career Trailer
UFC Undisputed 3 Contenders Pack Gameplay Trailer
Rayman Origins Meet The New Crazy Trailer
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational Game Video
ModNation Racers: Road Trip Features Video
Wipeout 2048 Game Trailer
Hitman Absolution - Crossed – Hand Dynamic Theme ($2.99)
Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning Premium Theme ($2.99)
Silent Hill 3 Premium Theme ($1.99)
Silent Hill 2 Premium Theme ($1.99)
Amazing Earth: Starry Night Dynamic Theme ($2.99)
Abstract Color Swirls Dynamic Theme ($2.99)
In The Ring With Candice Dynamic Theme ($2.99)
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Theme (Free)
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie ($9.99)
The Tester Season 3 Episode 1
The sequel to Klei Entertainment's cartoony stab-em-up brings me something that I desperately wanted from the first Shank: a frantic 2D twist to the waves-of-enemies gameplay popularized by Gears of War's Horde Mode. The nuts-and-bolts of Shank 2's Survival Mode get laid out in the clip above, which looks a lot simpler than it actually plays. I've already gotten my hands on this part of Shank 2 and I think it'll please anyone who wants an update on Double Dragon-style action. You'll be able to buddy up in Shank 2 next week.
Klei Entertainment's sequel to the stylish stab-em-up I—and many others—loved is scheduled for an early 2012 release. The clip above shows off new enemies and moves but the game still looks like the bloodiest Saturday morning cartoon never made.
We've seen our share of Humble Indie Bundles over the past year or two—independent developers who gather under the "Humble" brand and release a bunch of their games priced at whatever people want to pay.
The latest one, Humble Bundle #4, might be the best one yet—for any price you want, you can get Super Meat Boy, Bit. Trip Runner, Jamestown, Shank and Nightsky. Pay more than the average price (currently tracking at $4.61 on the Humble Bundle site), you get Cave Story + and Gratuitous Space Battles as well.
There's no shortage of gaming to be done this December, but these are all great games, for a great price. And not only will you be supporting indie devs, you'll have the option to give money to either the American Red Cross or Child's Play.
Check out their (endearingly cheesy and reference-laden) trailer above. It's funny, I was quoting that bit from The Rock all last weekend for some reason.
Humble Indie Bundle #4 [Humblebundle.com]
Klei Entertainment's upcoming Shank 2 brings a new brand of extreme slice-em-up to the stage with its co-op gameplay. We've already seen some of it in action off-screen, and it certainly looks like a lot of team-stabbin'.
Klei sent along a grip of new screenshots from both the single-player and teh co-op. I thought I'd share them here. Enjoy!
Inspired as it is by 1980s action-movie tropes, you can probably guess the plot of Shank 2's story mode. If your guess involves the hero renouncing his violent ways and trying to embrace a quieter existence, only to have his old life come back to wreak havoc in his new one, then you get a prize.
That prize is the opening chunk of Shank 2's single-player. What you may not be able to make out in this video is the additional depth of field in the backgrounds, which makes the world feel more alive than in the previous title. The character animations look noticeably smoother, too, adding a bit more nuance to the little gestures they make when idle. As far as gameplay, you'll now be able to pick up and use dropped enemy weapons like baseball bats and shovels. You'll also be able to counter enemy attacks—opportunities marked by big exclamation points—with moves that end in one-hit kills.
Released through the EA Partners program last year, Klei Entertainment's gorgeously gory sidescroller won legions of fans with its retro presentation and fluid animation. The one thing everybody wanted was co-operative play featuring the bandanaed badass and his cohort Falcone. Your pleas were heard and the video above shows off how that's going to look.
Co-op tasks a pair of players with protecting two ammo stashes from waves of the game's thugs. All of the various enemy types from the single-player show up, with big beefy boss characters interspersed throughout. The bad guys will try to set explosive charges to the ammo and, if they're successful, then one player will need to defuse the charge. In the event that one partner goes down, the other will need revive them. As you'll see, it's all pretty straightforward. But what you may not get from just watching is how addictively fun Shank 2's co-op is. And you should trust me on that, because the Klei producer on hand said that I made it farther than anyone else he'd played with yesterday.
The future of Klei Entertainment rested on the success of Shank, last summer's side-scrolling beat-em-up. The indie developer had seen moderate success in the past with games like N+, but Shank was another beast entirely. It had the power to financially ruin Jamie Cheng, Klei's founder, and Jeff Agala, its creative director, both of whom put their houses on the line. Such was their confidence in the game.
That confidence extends to Shank 2, which is scheduled for release on PC, XBLA and PSN in early 2012. Sitting down with Cheng at the game's official unveiling this week, he acknowledged that, despite strong sales, fans had some qualms with the first game.
"When we were listening to feedback we were like, 'Ok, yes, these are the things we can do way better,' " he explained. "We can drastically improve the controls and we can also continue raising the bar on the visuals."
The controls were a definite sticking point in the first Shank, a game which demanded extreme precision but often faltered when it came to elements like platforming and time-based attacks. Cheng said the team started from scratch with the goal of making the combat much more responsive.
Klei also added the ability to pick up the weapons dropped by enemies, Double Dragon-style. Enemy weapons, like baseball bats and shovels, have entirely separate movesets, thus giving you a lot more variety in combat.
The last big addition was the ability to counter an incoming enemy attack by hitting the grab button when a red exclamation point appears over an attacking enemy's head. Countering an enemy's attack will prompt a unique animation depending on how the enemy was attacking. For example, a baseball bat might be shoved down the throat of an adversary for a particularly gruesome death.
As for the visuals, though, no one really had a problem with them. In fact, hand-drawn graphics of the first Shank were universally praised as some of the best 2D graphics in recent memory, with smooth animations and remarkable levels of detail. But Cheng and the team wasn't quite satisfied, so Shank 2 will double the resolution on the characters, while adding more detailed particle effects, like fire, to the formula.
Another big note from fans and critics of the first game was the lack of online co-op play. Shank 2 remedies that as well, but not in a way you'd expect. The game offers a two-player co-op mode called Survival where players battle waves of enemies while attempting to defend objectives from rogue bombers.
After playing about 10 waves, I sensed an odd blend of Counter-Strike (players can purchase weapons and equipment with money earned from kills) and Smash Bros. (small, platforming-heavy maps).
Cheng seemed surprised by my CS comparison but acknowledged the similarities with Nintendo's fighter. "Smash Bros. is definitely there. There was another game that we were making that had that Smash Bros. feel and we ended up not finishing that game. It's definitely there. But we wanted the cooperative thing to come in." To that end, Shank 2 allows players to revive each other and to watch each others' backs when disarming bombs or buying equipment.
Based of what I played, it's hard to imagine Cheng and his team at Klei will be forced into hock after Shank 2 releases. I wouldn't consider this a vastly different experience from the first game but it does feel a lot tighter, with more satisfying combat. The Survival mode is the sort of thing I could see myself booting up with another friend when the prospect of another 50 waves of Horde in Gears 3 is too daunting, and the sure to be ultra-violent campaign will definitely occupy a weekend or two. Shame it's still at least three months out. I suppose I'll have to satisfy my blood lust in other ways.