Heart of the Swarm will be out this March. The next expansion, Legacy of the Void, will be out at a later date.
In case you missed it, check out Kotaku's review of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Opening Cinematic [StarCraft@YouTube]
The answering machine goes off. It's Ellie, trying to get a hold of Isaac Clarke. He doesn't answer. He's standing in a disheveled apartment located on a lunar colony, but it's not your typical bachelor pad type mess. It's dark, it's grimy, it's gross—it looks as if this is a cave, a personal hell which he has retreated to perhaps. As you muse over this, sergeant John Carver—the character your co-op buddies will play—bursts into your apartment, demanding to know if in fact you are the famous Isaac Clarke.
Carver and his acquaintance Robert Norton need your help in Dead Space 3. Guess what, the predicament involves a damsel in distress (Ellie, from the previous games) and it involves Markers—which is to say, it probably involves the horrific, reanimated corpses of the dead (otherwise known as necromorphs.) Great!
Isaac wants nothing to do with Markers after the events of the first two games, but this involves Ellie, so he begrudgingly agrees to help. Naturally things have to get even crazier at this point, so this is where the overzealous Unitologists—the people who have formed a religion around the Markers—come in.
Guns blazing, the Unitologists set out to look for you. The Unitologists are out to kill you, wouldn't you know it.
This is how the game sets up one of the initial levels in Dead Space 3, which I experienced earlier this month. It's also where I discovered rolling and taking cover. Like most well-implemented rolling mechanics, it's a joy to move across levels entirely through rolling, but I can't say I ever used cover again outside this initial chapter in the ~3 hours that I played Dead Space 3.
My first time going through, I didn't feel there was much that was notable Chapter 1 beyond the lunar colony having a similar look and feel to that of Mass Effect's cities. You'll also come face to face with the man that I assume is the leader of the Unitologists, a silver-tongued charismatic fellow that tells you all about his sinister plot with the Markers. He intends this information to be the last thing you experience before death.
He doesn't manage to actually kill you, of course; you narrowly get away.
But this continues the larger narrative in Dead Space, which addresses the role of the Markers and necromorphs in society—and, admittedly, was much of the reason that I kept going forward in the preview. Ellie? Eh, I didn't really care. But she's there, if that interests you!
I was new to Dead Space, you see—there wasn't much about the previous games that captured my interest. I'd initially avoided Dead Space because I'm not much for scary or tense games. When it was clear that I was going to preview Dead Space 3 I tried looking up the science of the jump scare—which I heard Dead Space was full of—to try to soften the blow. If fear stems from the unknown, then knowledge helps, right?
Haha, yeah okay, like Wikipedia pages were about to lessen the terror of WELL TIMED LOUD SOUNDS and NECROMORPH BURSTING INTO THE FRAME UNEXPECTEDLY.
Making things 'worse,' Dead Space 3 likes to put you in tight spaces without too much room to maneuver. Even if you see the necromorphs ahead of time, it's likely you'll often find yourself nervously backpedaling while trying to reload, necromorph viciously trying to swipe at you. Hopefully you don't get backed into a corner! This is where rolling comes in handy.
Personally, I found myself frustrated at the difficulty on normal, especially later in the preview when juggling one of the game's 'puzzles' (if you would even call them that) with necromorph waves. I died more than I felt I should have.
But with a buddy? Things felt much smoother, much more fun—though admittedly I felt jealous that Carver had the cooler black and red suit. Grr. Ah well, it's probably appropriate. It seems that you and Carver will have a complicated relationship thanks to how harsh Carver is. When you apologize for something, he angrily tells you to try harder next time for instance.
Anyway, there is a bit less tension when you know a friend will have your back with a pesky necromorph, and it wasn't uncommon to double-team enemies. One person suspends the necromorph, and the other rips it apart sort of deal. Co-op presents a wonderful opportunity for more nuanced tactics, and Dead Space 3 isn't any less engaging when you cut some of the anxiety out. The game remains just as chunky and visceral as it has in the past.
It was through co-op that I also learned how much Dead Space 3 rewards exploration. My buddy liked to go off and meticulously search through the levels for artifacts. Sometimes, this will mean taking a closer look at a seemingly empty room that's right along the way. Sometimes, it'll mean going deep into space while navigating outside of a ship. Sometimes, it'll mean shooting down something in the background that doesn't seem as if it holds anything—like maybe a deer head. I was impressed.
Not all the things you'll find are artifacts. Some of it will be materials for crafting. New to Dead Space 3 are moddable weapons, allowing you to have tools with more than one function. You have the ability to modify a weapon's upper tool, lower tool, frame, tip and attachments, allowing for variances in damage, reload, clip size, shooting speed, as well as bullet effect (exploding rounds, for instance.)
Isaac is an engineer, right? He's smart and uses his intellect to solve problems, yes? Crafting is justifiable by the story, then. While I didn't find too much to tinker with, my co-op buddy seemed to find all sorts of materials and his weapon looked intimidating, beastly and effective.
Also included are side-missions and optional objectives. Toward the end of my preview, for instance, I had a choice between two locations depending on which mission I wanted to take up. Unfortunately the demo ended right there, but it's obvious that Dead Space 3 is incorporating modern design elements that all games have to have nowadays like Choice and Customization and Social Play.
I swear that I find it difficult to tell if these things actually improve an experience rather than giving us stuff to cross off a universal games checklist. However, I can concretely say that Dead Space 3 felt much better with a friend than it did playing alone, though I was sad to see little of Carver's supposed compelling storyline. Alas!
Dead Space 3 releases on February 5th in North America, and February 8th in Europe.
The Obama administration has a lot of important things to do. Weighed against acts of governing the world's sole superpower, the Devil May Cry series is not important, no matter what some crazy fans might argue.
Don't tell that to the creators of this petition on the White House's official site, though, who plead with the Obama administration to intervene on behalf of fans suffering under Ninja Theory's reboot of the series:
Dear Mr. Obama: As a consumer to the Video Game Industry there is one Video Game that has caused a lot of controversy over the past few month's.
The name of the game is DmC: Devil May Cry made by Ninja Theory and Capcom. A majority of gamer's are aggravated that this game has changed so much from it's past predecessors and the game actually insults the consumers in-game.
We, as consumers did not want nor need this reboot and we believe it violates our rights to have a choice between the original's or the reboot. This game is violating our rights as a consumer and we believe it should be pulled off shelves from game stores due to it's insulting nature and the fact that it violates our rights.
Please Mr. Obama, look into your heart and make the decision that will please us Gamers.
Actually, now I read that again, I'm not sure whether the capitalisation of "Gamers" is a sign of lunacy or that this is a fantastic prank.
The petition needs 100,000 signatures to go anywhere. And at time of writing has... 37. So either it's too crazy even for crazy Devil May Cry fans, or not enough people are getting the joke.
The marketing for Alice: Madness Returns was dark. The game itself, though, was mostly just strange, with a dash of quaint. Why the disconnect? Well, according to the series' creator American McGee, it's all EA's fault.
In a Reddit AMA thread yesterday, McGee says that while Shy The Sun (a creative company brought in to handle the game's trailers) were "fantastic", he also says the mood of the trailers was influenced when EA's marketing "interfered", telling them that final creative say lay with EA (and not with Shy The Sun or Spicy Horse, the game's developers).
The resulting disconnect between what the game promised and delivered was, he says, "a calculated disconnect created by EA".
"They wanted to 'trick' gamers into believing A:MR was a hard-core horror title", he says, "even though we refused to develop it in that tone. Their thinking is, even if the game isn't a hard-core horror title, you can market it as one and trick those customers into buying it (while driving away more casual customers, like female gamers, who might be turned off by really dark trailers). It's all a part of the race to the bottom EA, Activision and the other big pubs are engaged in. Expect to see it get worse before it gets better."
Wanting to engage in the most literal type of role-playing there is, a woman has posted an ad on Craigslist seeking "2 or 3 women for Star Trek roleplaying". The fact it has to end with the line "Nothing weird is going to happen" hints that, yeah, maybe some weird stuff is going to happen. At least by your everyday standards.
Here's the ad in full:
Need 2 or 3 women for Star Trek roleplaying. No nudity, no touching. STRICTLY "THE NEXT GENERATION" ERA CHARACTERS AND COSTUMES. Last time someone tried TOS and it was a disaster. There will be no mixing of eras. I don't want to hear how Captain Kirk is so great. Kirk isn't half the Captain that Picard is, OK? Kirk is a fat chauvinist ladies man. Picard is an honorable intellectual and an excellent diplomat. I built a bridge in my mom's garage and a small shuttlecraft. If this sounds like something you want to do let me know and I'll send you the script. I don't mind if your costume isn't terribly authentic, just make sure it's close to TNG era. Once you have your script you can think about your character and let me know about any ideas you have. We won't be filming anything it, it's just a fun way to spend an afternoon. Maybe my mom will make lunch. It helps if you know a lot about the show. The reason I need women is that the story is about getting stuck on a shuttlecraft. I can't tell you more now. Most weeknights and weekends are good times. Having your own props is an asset e.g. a phaser or a VISOR if your character needs one. Please respond with pic and short bio plus stats. Nothing weird is going to happen.
Before you go thinking she's insane, the author has written a great response piece of sorts to the attention the ad has attracted, reminding the world:
Almost every adult has an escapist realm they indulge. I know people who compulsively read romance novels, or build up old cars into works of art. Fantasy baseball, fantasy football, the office hockey pools, these are all escapist realms. People who watch Law & Order, CSI, Criminal Minds and other crime shows are indulging in a genre that is more widespread than science fiction. Professional sports is easily the most widespread and intense form of escapism and nearly every single person in the world indulges in some form of participation. To put it simply, there is nothing less redeeming in pretending to be characters from a TV show than putting on a jersey from your favorite football team and watching the game at a sports bar.
She's got a point.
Maintaining the green and prominent "X", just about everything else we associate with the platform's marketing is gone, replaced with something far cleaner and more distinct. Just, literally, an X and a box.
It's so nice it's almost too nice to expect to see on a store shelf, you know?
The New Xbox [Cory Schmitz]
If you like what you see here, you can check out more of Jeong's stuff on his personal site.
For a lot of people, myself included, the arcade racer was at the peak of its powers in the 1990s. Games like Daytona, SCUD Race and a guilty pleasure of mine, Namco's Ace Driver, hit a sweet spot of visual prowess, accessibility and the opportunity for public showmanship.
So it's nice to see someone else feels the same way, and is using Kickstarter—as everyone does—to try and bring those days back.
Greek dev Pelikan13 is working on The 90s Racer, a game whose goals are summed up pretty well by the name.
"The three that ate up most of my coins where Scud Race, Daytona USA and Indy 500, my goal is to recreate the feeling these games evoked from players by maintaining the colorful, vibrant look and sense of speed but with modern visuals and car handling models", he says.
The trailer above shows he's certainly got the spirit of the times nailed. There's even an old Williams F1 car there!
The 90's Arcade Racer [Kickstarter]
You know, I thought I'd seen the ultimate in Iron Man cosplay last year, and from a decorative standpoint, I probably have. But Anthony "Master" Le's outfits don't shoot real lasers like this thing does.
AnselmoFanZero from Laser Gadgets has built this incredible "Functional Iron Man Laser Gauntlet", which does exactly as it says. It looks like Iron Man's arm, and it shoots a real laser. Maybe not one that can blow up tanks, but it can blow up... balloons.