It’s National Ice Cream Day! How’d You NOT Watch Your Waistline?

 
Nope, this OLD contest is no longer valid, but I needed an ice cream-related video and this was the first one to come to mind. Anyway, today’s fake holiday was made to make your diet want to kick your expanding behind around the room if you celebrated it, so knock yourself out and pay the piper this week when you get back on the wagon. If you didn’t splurge ‘n purge, you still have a few hours before pumpkin hour. I’m staring at a pint of crappy vanilla fudge and mentally flipping a coin as to whether to finish the entire thing and go for a nice walk later and tomorrow morning or just have oh, somewhat less than half and do that same double walk. Eh, we’ll see… I don’t have any major vices these days, so I may as well do what I can to make someone feel better than I do on occasion…

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Codemasters Gets Me Rally Longing For The Good Old Days…

I think someone at Codemasters is psychic. Last week, I broke out both Colin McRae Rally and Colin McRae Rally 2.0 just to dive in for a bit and see if they still held up today and yes indeed, they do. While the series went through some big changes as the series moved to new platforms, there was always a solid sense of fun and challenge that made each installment thrilling to blaze through. When the series changed its name to DiRT and its direction to a “cooler” racer in order to rope in younger fans of the X Games or other extreme sports, things definitely slid a bit sideways. The last few installments are all great looking games, but to me, there’s something missing… a certain spirit, if you will. Granted, Colin McRae is no longer with us, so that’s probably the missing element those later games haven’t been able to capture. Seeing that intro video above and playing the game for a little while made me hope Codemasters will go back to the drawing board and deliver a rally game that’s as fun and wickedly addictive as the first few in the series. Strip it down, but make it rich with detail, lose the big social focus (or make it completely optional) and maybe even bring back the goofy bonuses from the older titles just because it’s great to see a surprise ride or three after a ton of hard work.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Behind the Scenes #1: On Performance and Polish.

 
Initially, I’d thought this was going to be one of those online only games or an expansion to The Lord of the Rings Online, so it got sent to the bottom of my list of games I was interested in this year. Well, as this years E3 revealed, I need to pay a lot more attention. Monolith Studios is making what looks to be a really cool action game using the Rings license for current and next-generation platforms that’s worth taking a longer look at, so here you go – the first of a few making of videos. Enjoy!

PSN Flash Sale MADNESS! Everything For A Buck? You’re Broke And You Didn’t Even Look Yet!

PSN FLASH SALE 

WOW. Well, you thought it was going to be a QUIET weekend, huh? Nope. Sony is running an absolutely crazy FLASH SALE on PSN with a bunch of PSOne Classics, PSP and PS3 digital downloads, all for 99 cents EACH. Yaaaaaaah! I had to seriously restrain myself to only buying Wild Arms and Wild Arms 2 before caving in and picking up Legend of Dragoon because I’ve never actually owned my own copy. I have the other two games here on disc, but now that I can take them on the road on my PSP or Vita, I’m happier about not having to stay home to play them (and reconnect the PSOne to the TV, dig out a memory card with the right save files and so forth and so on). Anyway, there are a LOAD of awesome titles up for grabs, no PS Plus account necessary or any other shenanigans. Just DEALS galore this weekend for anyone smart enough to pop onto PSN or SEN and poke around. So stopp reading this and go get some games!

Dragon Age: Inquisition Will Be Your “Dive In And Enjoy The Ride” Game For October, I’d Predict…

Dragon_03_WM_webHearing “Are there any questions?” after watching the Dragon Age Inquisition demo being played at EA’s media event a few days back made me laugh because after seeing the game in action, I just REALLY wanted to PLAY it myself and get any answers I needed. Clearly, BioWare was listening to player complaints about the series’ somewhat limited (albeit large) maps, so the demo was initially played on a map the size of Dragon Age Origins‘ entire game world. Additionally, while the demo was played in a set manner the two times I sat through it, I was also taking notes of all the little details such as plants and other things that could be gathered, the assorted wildlife that, save for one encounter, appeared in different numbers and places and a number of other changes small to large.

I was also thinking in terms of my own play style, how long it would take to merely get from one end of that even more massive and open map to the other. I tend to get easily distracted by off the beaten path areas, so I’m imagining taking a good deal more than a half hour to reach a simple mission objective or key story point. Thankfully, the new map and mapping system should set me straight if I ever get lost and the addition of mounts for the first time in the franchise means I can ride in and out of trouble (provided my poor horse or whatever other creature I end up with) isn’t stomped on or otherwise maimed in the process. Hmmm… that’s one question I actually SHOULD have asked. The new “be a leader” gameplay bits should be grand, as the game world will evolve according to the alliances and enemies you make. As with previous entries, everything you do will play some role in how the plot spools out, but this time the number of possible ripples outward from your actions are much greater… Continue reading

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Making of Episode 1: “If You’re Going to Shoot, SHOOT. Don’t Talk!”

 
Hey, Kids! Wanna know how video games are made? Well, this video doesn’t go into ALL the not so gory at all details, but it IS a fun watch if you’re intrigued. Gearbox Software seems to be a fun enough place to work, although some gamers with too much time on their hands and rickety soap boxes to stand on will give them eternal grief for at least two games they’ve worked on until the Earth rolls off its axis. Me, I just move forward and keep an eye on what they’re doing next. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel isn’t made entirely by the studio, but you know 2K Australia is using what Gearbox has created in this collaboration to whip up this spaced-out loot frenzy that happens to take place in the fun-tastic Borderlands universe.

Given that this one is only on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, I’m betting some of you are kind of ticked off that you traded in that “old” console in trade for a newer one, right? Oh well. Next time, don’t trade in or give away any system until you ONLY see budget games coming out for it. Or even better, NO games at all. That way you’re SURE there are no surprises coming down the pike…

Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unknown Star Trailer: Some Would Say It’s Music of the Stares…

Arnosurge logo

Ar nosurge home_bgNot a true “sequel” to the fan-favorite Ar Tonelico games on the PlayStation 2, Tecmo Koei’s upcoming Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unknown Star uses enough elements from those games and is set in the same universe, allowing fans of those games to dive right on in with relative ease. Interestingly enough, Ar nosurge is actually the sequel to a PlayStation Vita game never released outside Asia called Ciel nosurge, an episodic adventure/sim that had its first chapter released on a game card, another other nine DLC chapters since and twelve planned total chapters when all is said and done later this year.

Of course, the chances of Ciel nosurge coming out here are about zero, but big thanks go out to Tecmo Koei for getting Gust’s latest PS3 game out and localized relatively quickly. The Japanese version arrived in March there and North America and Europe will be getting English versions in September. As you can see on the official site, the “seven volumes” of screen shots as well as the the character and background art look quite lovely indeed. Granted, the game won’t be for all tastes what with its semi-dressed sort of machine-like ladies and certain sequences that will be easily misunderstood by those who judge content solely by game screens and not actually playing the game. Nonetheless, it’s great to see yet another JRPG that blends 2D and 3D art styles so well coming for Sony’s still strong “old” console. This one’s added to my “Shut Up & Play It!” list…

Alien Isolation Pre-Order Trailer: It’s “Oh, You Want Some, Too?!” Before That Line Existed In The Franchise…

 
Well, I guess there’s a pre-order in my future after all, but as noted yesterday, I really hope that Sega and developer The Creative Assembly decide to make BOTH of those DLC packs permanent and available to everyone who wants them at some point. I just can’t see them vanishing into the ether forever a year or less down the road like the content in that last Aliens game a lot of people seemed to dislike too much. Anyway, this is a completely different game and a completely different dev team, so I’m one of those smarter people not rolling in the mud and predicting this game will be anything but as solid as a developer that’s never failed me previously can make. As far as what platform to play it on? I’m still flipping a coin…

ALIEN: Isolation Nostromo Edition DLC Packs Bring Back The Cast From The Past (But There’s An Pesky Modern Catch).

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AI_NEOkay, the BEST gaming news I’ve heard all day also happens to kick me in the tender bits (ouchie!) because it’s a blast of sci-fi nostalgia mixed with the modern retailer insanity many gamers despise that shuts them out of bonus content. Anyway, the good., no, GREAT news is the announcement on the official site (and over on IGN, which ran a brief video announcing the news) of some incredible DLC for Alien Isolation that bumps the standard edition up to the Nostromo Edition and allows for players to dive into an enhanced mission based on the first film.

Even better, this mission has the voices and faces of all but one of the actors from the original film. Sigourney Weaver (Ellen Ripley), Tom Skerritt (Dallas), Veronica Cartwright (Lambert), Harry Dean Stanton (Brett), and Yaphet Kotto (Parker) are all on board in the “Crew Expendable” DLC, with Ian Holm’s Ash being portrayed by a sound-alike.

So far, so good, right? But of course, here comes the claw to the throat… Continue reading

Abyss Odyssey Asks You To Beat Time (and Plenty of Bad People) On PC, PS3 & Xbox 360

AO_WPACE Team’s games have ranged from the extremely strange (Zeno Clash, Zeno Clash 2) to the somewhat stranger (Rock of Ages), so it’s a fine thing indeed to see them making a more straightforward game in Abyss Odyssey, set to hit PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on June 15 for $14.99 (or 9.99 if you pre-order the game on Steam, you lucky PC owners you!).

abyss_shot_pit According to Atlus, the game is “a new side-scrolling action adventure game featuring a complex fighting engine in procedurally generated levels”, which means no two players should see the exact same levels as they play. Gameplay will seem familiar to fans of Dragon’s Crown on the PS3 and Vita, but like that VanillaWare instant classic, AO owes a lot to gaming’s past on a few fronts.

screen1_plantworld01 screen2_bossfight08 screen3_caverns15 screen4_plantworld03 abyss_shot_deertaur abyss_shot_park

As you can see above, the art style here is certainly gorgeous, as is most of the animation, going for a mix of realism in the character models and lush fantasy elements in those lovely environments and enemies. Additionally, making a female one of the playable characters from the outset is a smart move, as a game such as this will have a wider appeal with the addition of a lady who can hold her own with the tough guys here.

That said, it’s too bad this isn’t on a disc, as I know a few folks who aren’t fond of digital all that much who’d LOVE this game to death. Oh well – I suppose one day Atlus will gather all of ACE’s games up and stick them onto a Blu-Ray for a limited retail release at some point. Or at least realize that not everyone prefers the “convenience” of not owning a physical product you can lend to someone without having to rely on the internet to make that loan or trade possible. Anyway, this one looks like an instant BUY in my book.