Red 5's Firefall is an upcoming shooter whose development is being led by Mark Kern, former Team Lead on World of Warcraft. All we've seen lately about the game is some cosplay, so let's get back to basic with gameplay footage. Two hours of it.

[thanks Tony!]


30,000 People are Going to Play Half-Life 2 as a Protest Against Half-Life 3Or is it a protest for Half-Life 3? Whatever.

The point being, This weekend over 30,000 members of a Steam group will sit down and play Half-Life 2. Calling themselves "A Call for Communication", the group says "we have decided to gain Valve's attention by delivering a basic message: Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication."

That "better communication" would come in the form of any communication as to the whereabouts of Half-Life 2: Episode 3, or as it's more commonly believed to be these days, simply Half-Life 3.

Will it work? Probably not. But hey, any excuse to play through Half-Life 2 again is a good excuse!

A Call for Communication [Steam]

30,000 People are Going to Play Half-Life 2 as a Protest Against Half-Life 3


Just Why, Exactly, Did Final Fantasy XIII Suck so Badly?Boring. Bland. Linear. Those are three of the kinder things that can be said of Final Fantasy XIII, a game so poor it needed a direct sequel just to salvage some brand integrity. They're also disarmingly simple, and don't really get to the heart of just why the game was so disappointing to so many.

This Gamasutra piece by Christian Nutt does, though. Taking inspiration from Red Letter Media's breakdown of the Star Wars prequels, Nutt goes to town on Square Enix's big-budget RPG.

The Star Wars prequels are full of things we recognize from the original trilogy, but divorced from any dramatic intent. For example, Plinkett astutely points out that light sabers are incredibly overused in the newer films, so much so that fights lose their uniqueness and tension—the constant battles becoming simple, garish light shows. Moments from the original trilogy are deliberately referred to, but without any parallel in meaning, just in form.

So, too, is Final Fantasy XIII filled with Final Fantasy Stuff—most notably and stupidly, crystals—and it's clear that all of that junk is there because the developers assume that it has to be there, not because it enriches the world or the game's play experience.

"The new films just borrow and recycle from the original ideas, as if there's no way to create anything new," says Plinkett. And that's what hamstrings Final Fantasy XIII, too.

Hell, the game's director, Motomu Toriayama, asked character designer Tetsuya Nomura for "someone like a female version of Cloud from FFVII."

That is not vision.

And unlike our own Michael Fahey's thoughts on the subject, Final Fantasy XIII-2 doesn't fare much better.

It's a cash-in, designed to scrape up the detritus left after a massive production that resulted in a lot of waste (including enough production art for a second game, and an expensive engine that the developer has already deemed all but useless) and do something with it.

Before you rally to the game's defence, know at least that Nutt is a die-hard RPG fanatic, not some blow-in hater of the genre. So his full piece below is definitely worth a read.

Questioning the 'vision' behind Final Fantasy XIII-2 [Gamasutra]


I Want to Take His Face...OffGreetings, Kotaku friends. Welcome, one and all, to our evening open thread. It's Tuesday, the last day of January. We're already "into" 2012. How did that happen? I guess time went forward, and took us with it.

Before you chat, here are some fun things from around the internet that you may enjoy:


How Mass Effect is Becoming More Like TransformersNot the toys. And not the Michael Bay horror films. I mean the 1986 animated feature.

At the time, Transformers: The Movie was notable for two things. One was the fact it killed everybody, traumatising an entire generation of young, impressionable movie-goers. The second, and more lasting, was the movie's casting.

It was a mess. A glorious, haphazard mess. There were teen heartthrobs, oscar-winning actors, sci-fi staples, comedians, TV veterans, voice-over people, the works. Yet somehow the "throw as many random names as we can afford" approach actually worked, and better still, it made the flick memorable. Example? I once won a pub trivia night by successfully answering the question "What was Orson Welles' last ever movie".

With Mass Effect 3's cast assembled earlier today, it struck us how much BioWare's series had begun to take after Transformers' batshit crazy approach. That with each game came an increase in the size of not just the cast itself, but how bonkers it was.

Where Transformers went the "elder statesman" route with Orson Welles, Mass Effect has Martin Sheen. Where Transformers hired a veteran voice man in Robert Stack, Mass Effect has veteran voice man Keith David. Transformers had sci-fi staple Leonard Nimoy, Mass Effect went and hired half the cast of Battlestar Galactica. Transformers had Monty Python comedian Eric Idle unexpectedly voice a role, Mass Effect went deep into left field and hired funny man Seth Green to play not a teenage loser, but a starship pilot.

And where Transformers shot for the swoon vote with Judd Nelson, fresh off Breakfast Club, Mass Effect now has...Jessica Chobot.

Now, I'm not saying Mass Effect is copying Transformers. It's just, we noticed this morning that the Chobot hire had tipped the movie over the edge. For over 25 years, Transformers has stood at the pinnacle of crazy nerd sci-fi casting. Nothing came close to assembling such a talented, yet bizarre cast of talent.

But if Mass Effect 3's new hirings don't completely ruin the mix, it may have a little competition from a cast that includes a former President of the United States, a star of They Live and a girl who licked a PSP that one time.


Skyrim LEGO Fries Plastic StormcloaksMaster LEGO builder Luke Hutchinson has constructed this wonderful homage toSkyrim out of little plastic bricks, turning what in the game would be a leisurely side-quest slaughtering a few dozen Stormcloaks into a real-world work of art.

Be sure to check out the finer details...there's even loot!

Regaining the Pale: Skyrim in Lego [Brothers Brick]

Skyrim LEGO Fries Plastic Stormcloaks
Skyrim LEGO Fries Plastic Stormcloaks
Skyrim LEGO Fries Plastic Stormcloaks
Skyrim LEGO Fries Plastic Stormcloaks
Skyrim LEGO Fries Plastic Stormcloaks
Skyrim LEGO Fries Plastic Stormcloaks


A pretty shitty week for THQ has gotten worse, with the beleaguered publisher threatened with expulsion from the Nasdaq stock exchange because its shares are worth so little. [MCV]


New Tease for Black Mesa, the Greatest Half-Life Remake That Never WasBlack Mesa is an independent remake of the original Half-Life that's been in development since the end of the First World War. It hasn't been seen for years. Most people now assume the remake, like Half-Life 3 itself, is an apparition. A mirage.

But...maybe not. After such a long blackout, the webmaster of the project's current site has posted a note on its forums, saying:

It was said that once the soundtrack is released, one could expect the launch of black mesa two weeks after. I can now say that a new website will be launched with the soundtrack in preparation for the mod. Fuck if we care about the current website. Just take a good look at it because it will be gone soon enough.

Could be good news, could be more teasing. The only sure thing being it's a bummer the old website is going away, which has me using the words "HOT SHIT" in the only piece of promotional quotage I've ever personally endorsed.

Hubicorn [Black Mesa]


The Cheesy, Joyous Music of the Ace Attorney SeriesI really like the Ace Attorney games - I like the characters, the situations, and I like the games' uncommon good humor. I like solving crimes, I like the silly judge, and I like seeking justice. I like how Maya likes hamburgers.

I've played every game in the series except Apollo Justice (bleh), so as you can imagine, I was very happy to hear that there will be a fifth Ace Attorney game, and that all the past games are coming to iOS.

And as much as I love the artwork and the goofy stories, the thing I love most about the Ace Attorney games is Masakazu Sugimori's delightful music.

I can think of few video game series whose music is so indirectly funny, with so much boundless energy. There are so many great songs throughout the series that it was very difficult to list my favorites, actually.

Part of that is because the way the songs tie together and transition from one to the next is a big part of what makes them so much fun. I've argued in the past that video games with no voice-acting used their music more effectively than games with a voice-track, and the Ace Attorney games uphold that theory.

(Of course, they're not entirely silent—the sound of text being "written" moves at varying speeds, and does a surprising amount to convey the tone of the speaker. And of course, there are the recorded "Objection!" sounds. We couldn't forget those.)

Regardless, I thought I'd just list a few of my favorites, and open it up to hear what songs you guys like. Or, to just let everyone make a ton of "Objection!" jokes in the comments.

Without further ado!


I love "Cornered" - it's when the fighting-game roots of the Ace Attorney games are at their most fighting-gamey. Usually Phoenix has his back to the wall, or, conversely, is on a rocking offensive against a seemingly cowed opponent. But they always do seem to come back on him, don't they? At least until the end.


This is the music that plays whenever something turns in the courtroom—when someone reveals that they have a secret strategy, or things get intense. It's also used to humorous effect from time to time, played as a deliberate overstatement of an otherwise casual situation.

I love it because it's so distinctive - it's not some melody, not really, more of this "nunununununun." But it tells you, without a question, that shit has just gotten real.


Another one from Justice for All, this one plays when searching a crime scene. I really dig how the Ace Attorney games ape the style of 80's cop shows and movies, with the chime-y keyboards up against the driving bassline.

"Turnabout Sisters"

This one is one of my all-time favorites; it's such an unabashedly cheesy melody, with a great counter melody and a real bounce to it. But where it really kicks off for me is when it does that build-in back to the chorus. In fact...

I liked this song so much I recorded my own version of it, back when I had the time to record instrumental versions of video game music (It's the second video here). I played a bunch of instruments on this, and remember requiring like five takes to get the flute stuff right. It's loose—this was made in my bedroom for crying out loud!—but I'm actually still pretty happy with it! It was fun to get inside of the tune like this—I always meant to do some more of these; maybe I still will.

"Psyche Lock"

This one makes itself known in Justice for All, I believe (sometimes the Ace Attorney cases all blend together for me). It would play whenever Phoenix would use Maya's magatama to break through a witness' lies. I remember being pretty frustrated at some of these segments, and I may or may not have gamed the system by saving my game just before doing a psyche lock bit, then reloading if I made too many decisions. I'm sure none of you did anything like that, did you?

Anyhow, the music is some of my favorite "investigation time" music of all. More than makes up for the sometimes frustrating gameplay of those segments.

And there you have them - a few of my favorite pieces of music from the Ace Attorney games. But like I said at the outset, this is in no way some sort of definitive list. So, I put it to you: What are your favorite Ace Attorney songs?

Share some good ones and I'll update the post. Have at it!

Already, a ton of great suggestions:

"Gant's Theme"

Hypotenuse Man suggests Damon Gant's theme, and man is he right. I loved Gant as a character, and his lurching theme played into how he was this totally impervious badass for the longest time. Until he wasn't.

"Godot's Theme"

DocHobo points out that Godot's jazzy, noir-ish theme should be on this list. Well, I can't say he's wrong about that. So now it is.


The Havik shares this one from Miles Edgeworth Investigations, which, yeah, is really great. I haven't finished that game yet, so the music hasn't quite sunk in, but everything I've heard is awesome. This is like a more frantic redux of "Cornered."


Semajaral points out that a list of Ace Attorney music isn't complete without "Objection!" Here it is, an absolute classic from the series.

"Maya Fey's Theme—Orchestral"

Finally, Chadboban posted this orchestral version of Maya Fey's theme—I've heard some of this stuff before, not not for a while. Lovely stuff.

(Top image via Sekijitsu)

It Will Be Cheaper to Download Vita Games Than Buy Their Boxed CounterpartsSony has confirmed games for its upcoming Vita handheld will be a bit cheaper to purchase as downloadable digital games than it would cost to buy a physical disc.

A Sony representative confirmed this to Shacknews, stating that "there will be a discount on the downloadable PS Vita titles from PSN" and that details would be announced in "the very near future."

The image below is from NeoGAF, where a poster noticed that Best Buy would be selling digital versions of the games through their store. The prices listed are all $5 lower than the list prices for boxed versions of the games.

Vita games will be cheaper when downloaded [Shacknews]

Image via NeoGAF.