Friday, August 31, 2012

COD: MW3 Final DLC Trailer

With the final DLC pack coming to Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 3, gamers will be overcome with joy and sadness. Fans will enjoy the new additional content, if not only to tide them over until Black Ops 2 releases in November. The trailer for "Final Assault" may get you stoked for September 6th.

Borderlands 2: Sir Hammerlock Guided Tour

Are you new to the world of Borderlands? Have you come as a tourist? Well, make sure to catch a guided tour to the Beauty that is Pandora narrated by the one and only Sir Hammerlock.

Will Skyrim's Dawngaurd DLC Get to the PS3 at All?

Given the popularity of Skyrim over the three major platforms (PC, Xbox 360, PS3) it is easy to forget that not all of them are built the same. While the Xbox 360 and PC have easily added and (most) have enjoyed the Dawnguard DLC, it looks like the PS3 won't be able to support it.

A statement issued by the Administrator of the Bethesda forums commented on the PS3 issues regarding Dawnguard.
"Earlier in the month, we provided an update on Dawnguard's status for PS3.

It's been a few weeks, and we wanted to make sure everyone knows where we're at with Dawnguard. Skyrim is a massive and dynamic game that requires a lot of resources, and things get much more complex when you're talking about sizable content like Dawnguard. We have tried a number of things, but none of them solve the issue enough to make Dawnguard good for everyone. The PS3 is a powerful system, and we're working hard to deliver the content you guys want. Dawnguard is obviously not the only DLC we’ve been working on either, so the issues of adding content get even more complicated. This is not a problem we’re positive we can solve, but we are working together with Sony to try to bring you this content.

We wish we had a more definitive answer right now. We understand the frustration when the same content is not available on all platforms. When we have an update, we will certainly let you know. We deeply appreciate all the time and support you have given us, and we’ll keep doing our best to return that."
 While this does not mean the end of hopeful PS3 users, it certainly looks like the system just can't handle it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Borderlands 2 Season Pass Confirmed

Rumors abounded about a Season Pass for Borderlands 2 that would get players the 4 planned DLC's for a lesser charge. Well, it's confirmed. The Season Pass will run you $30 and gain you all 4 DLC's at a discount.

No word on if this deal will last past the launch date, so if you really want to invest a lot of time into Borderlands, make sure you buy it fast. More details should be released during PAX Prime this weekend.

Borderlands 2 launches on September 18th, 2012 for the US

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gears of War: Judgment FFA (A Closer Look)

With news coming out just yesterday about a Free-for-All mode in Judgment, we are treated to an even better experience with the release of not one, but TWO videos showcasing the FFA mode. This article will do an in-depth rundown of some of the new (and returning) features of this new game mode.

  1. 0:04 We see the mantle kick will be returning. Innovative but risky, as it caused a lot of problems in Gears 3 due to the inconsistency of the range.
  2. 0:09 We get the first look at a new possible feature in FFA. Bypassing the Down But Not Out rule. As you will see in the vid, characters do not go DBNO, merely die. Whether this is only for the vid, the gametype, or all-encompassing we do not know.
  3. 0:11 Brings us back to the Retro Charge from Gears 3. Obviously the weapon was not going to be removed and it appears neither is the charge. It also does not appear to show any signs of the stopping power mechanic. Ribbons and weapon progress return as well.
  4. 0:16 Baird appears to be glowing blue (possible health regeneration pickup?) and a few seconds later we see the retro is still very powerful with the same amount of recoil as Gears 3.
  5. 0:23 Boomshot is back with a vengeance, but we also see the first bit of a permanent crosshair (slightly faded) even when hipfiring.
  6. 0:34 First look at the new weapon "BreechShot" but more importantly, the grenades seem to stick to the surface they hit (a couple others bounced, so this may just be a video fluke). Useful when flushing out camping opponents if that feature is available.
  7. 0:40 First look at how the BreechShot fires, reloads, and kills. Four shot bolt action rifle. One shot headshot. Locust themed.
  8. 0:55 Mortar is back obviously.
  1. 0:01 New Lancer gameplay.
  2. 0:02 New Grenade stick(?) feature and toss
  3. 0:07 Good look at the interior of the map Library
  4. 0:17 Better BreechShot footage.
  5. 0:24 Broader interior look at the map. High ground area.
  6. 0:32 Showing odd character glow (again possible health regeneration pickup?), CQC area, faded hipfire reticule, mantle kick animation, and a hidden panel door disguised as a bookcase.
  7. 0:44 Vulcan is now included in Multiplayer. Devastating, but ammo does not last long. Second character killed appears to be using a Sawed-off which means a return of the weapon.
  8. 0:51 Sophia activating a sliding bookcase panel. New sniper rifle(?) on her back, green color. Digger makes a return as does the One Shot. Definite confirmation of Sawed-off returning.
So there you have it! Our first glimpse into some of the traditional multiplayer for Gears of War: Judgment. Be sure to comment below about things you like or things you are nervous about. Enjoy!

Skyrim's Newest DLC: Hearthfire

A rumor no longer, Skyrim's new DLC is called Hearthfire. Obviously from the name we can assume it is about making a house, or new ways to renovate an existing home. Well, that would be correct. You now have the option of building a house wherever you want in Skyrim. On a mountain, in a valley, On top of someone else's house (evil grin)....

But whatever you decide, there are plenty of optional areas to add to your house.You can add a trophy room to admire your awesomeness. Maybe a garden to relax and prune some plants. Maybe toss in a few Crafting stations and altars to brighten up the spare room that you aren't inviting your in-laws to sleep in. That's right, no sleeping over here! Go to a hotel!

You can import livestock, hire a steward, employ a bard, or even adopt a child. Wait, a child? Oh that's just great. Bad enough we have to fight dragons now we have to fight runny noses and break our toes on the bedposts getting this kid a drink of water in the middle of the damn night!?!? Sorry, got a little personal there. Where was I?

Right, customization. You can add more mannequins which is a blessing since Solitude comes with a grand total of two. for 20,000 gold you'd think they could afford a couple more don't you? I mean seriously, it's 20,000 gold! I can buy 6 heavily enchanted swords for that price! It's absolutely ridiculous tha-... sorry carried away again. Not everything is fun and games, since your new home will be swarmed with skeevers, giants and those damn frostbite spiders. Pest Control is the duty of every homeowner.

Hearthfire will be available September 4th for a measly 400 MSP.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mario Kart is now.... 20 Years Old?

Yep, you read it correctly. Mario Kart is now 20 years old. It was originally made in 1992 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or as most gamers know it, the SNES. Super Mario Kart recieved harsh criticism before the game even launched. "It will never last" they said. "Mario doesn't belong in a go-kart" they said. Well, who doesn't belong in a go-kart now, huh? Wait, that didn't come out right.

Anyways, back on topic. Mario Kart has lasted 20 years, spanning 7 titles on 7 different consoles (Gameboys included), unless you also count the two games made for Arcade (2005 GP & 2007 GP2). The next step for the game was to head over to the N64 in 1996. It made huge numbers and gained even more popularity as the graphics got better. Fans became enthralled with the maps, learning every trick there was, including some the developers didn't even think of (Rainbow Road anyone?).

From there it made a brief stop on the Gameboy Advance (2001) and landed with a huge return on the Gamecube (2003). The graphics kept getting better and the gameplay, while mostly the same, never got old. The Nintendo DS added this title to it's ever growing game cache to much applause and was highly favored as one of the better co-op WiFi games.

Obviously with the Wii (2008), Mario Kart wouldn't be far behind the launch, and indeed it wasn't. Each game included the newest controller design, the wheel. Okay, so not entirely new, this was a wireless wheel designed to act with the motion of the user's hands. It's difficult to adapt to at first, but players immediately found themselves unable to put it down. It became so popular online that Nintendo started bundling it with the Wii itself.

The last stop on the journey is the Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS (2011). Selling well over 5 million units, it certainly is no small fish in a big pond. We can only wonder what the newest title will give us when the Wii U hits...

Election News: XBOX STYLE

Politics. It is what drives the world. Boring right? Endless town hall debates, mind-numbing commercials, news articles with comment wars... All of this is enough to make you want to sit home on November 6th. But what if there was a way to view it all without the pain of watching endless news to get one tidbit of meaningless information?

Behold! Xbox Live Election 2012! With younger voters turning up in record breaking numbers in 2008, America hopes to continue that trend. How to attract their attention though. Simple. Bring it to them in a forum they understand. A new hub on the dashboard can get you all the news you could want about the 2012 election. Featuring live broadcasted debates, voter registration info and in depth looks at the candidates, this idea might help to impact the voters of the next generation.

Technology is what the youth group flocks to nowadays. Microsoft seems to understand that need. While twitter, facebook and other social media gives them their quick news, it leaves them with many questions and very few answers. That's where the hub comes in. With youth voters feeling like their opinions and stances don't matter because of their age, a desire to find an understanding figure is a strong one.

A panel, named "Conversations with the Next Generation" should help to make younger viewers/gamers see that their opinions and votes matter. No one should ever feel like they have no influence over the proceedings of our country. That has not, and never will be the case. Every vote counts no matter if you are 18 or 85. That's the message behind this newest promotion by Microsoft.

Viewers will even have an option of interacting with the debates, as they can rate a candidate's speech in real time and see how other XBL users are feeling as well. Polls will be offered to voice your opinions on various aspects of the campaign trail. With 40 million global members, a bet on a few million using XBL to closely monitor the election is guaranteed to be a sure-thing.

Gears of War: Judgment Free For All

Gears of War has always been a team oriented game. You rely on your teammates to support you in your mutual goal to decimate your opponents by any means necessary. The addition of Wingman made that even more of a challenge, since it was just you and your brother-in-arms to fight off other teams of two. Now Judgment is shaking it up again.

Newly announced, Judgment will feature a Free-for-All gametype! One man, alone against the world. There are no friends this time. There are only foes. Test your mettle against your enemies, whose only desire is total domination.

New info on this game mode will hit over the next few weeks, and I imagine we will get a few new tidbits at PAX Prime (Aug 31st-Sep 2nd).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gears of War: Judgment; The War Begins

The Gears of War series is a hard hitting Third Person Shooter for the Xbox 360. With three games out on the market, the franchise has quite a large following of dedicated players. Millions of players have followed Delta Squad through the horror of the Locust war.

Some have expressed dissatisfaction with the path the games have taken since the first release. Overall tones of the campaign experience have gradually, and sometimes drastically, left the original impressions that many feel made the first game. What started as a mix of Action/Shooter/Horror title, evolved into a fast paced fight for survival.

The enemy you are introduced to in Gears 1 gave a sense of an unknown terror, dedicated to wiping out humanity. While many feel the sequels became too 'bright', too 'colorful', the reason behind it is the change in the story. While Gears 1 was an 'in your face' introduction to the Locust with no hope in sight, Gears 2 and 3 provided that glimpse after numerous destructive acts wiped out most of the Locust forces. It became less of a war about holding your ground, and became a push to wipe out the enemy at all costs. People who miss that dark atmosphere will be pleased at the newest edition to the Gears title.

Gears of War: Judgment will provide that atmosphere. 14 years before you break Marcus out of prison in Gears 1, Emergence Day ripped apart the world of Sera. Set a few months after E-Day, Judgment definitely brings back that dark and hopeless impression. With humanity reeling from the countless deaths caused at the hands of this new enemy, they find themselves unable to make sense of this new war.

You now follow Kilo Squad, led by Damon Baird. Players should be familiar with the cocky, sarcastic asshole we've come to love. Joining Baird will be Augustus "Cole Train" Cole (recently inducted into service), Sophia Hendricks (a by the book Onyx Guard cadet), and Garron Paduk (A loose cannon UIR refugee). Each character brings their own distinct personality to the fight.

The game begins after all the events have already happened. Kilo Squad is on trial for treason for disobeying orders, stealing equipment, and possibly endangering the lives of millions. How the game plays is up to you. The story is told from the perspective of Kilo Squad as they testify about the events that occurred. You can change how the story unfolds based on your decisions. New evidence can be revealed, or some may disappear. It all depends on your actions.

Judgment comes exclusively to Xbox 360 on March 19th, 2013.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Project Triforce: Legends of Video Game Memorabilia

Project Triforce is well known in the video game industry as one of the leading memorabilia companies out there. They make 1:1 scale items which make them even more impressive. Imagine holding the Avenger from Mass Effect. The Lancer from Gears of War. Batman's Batarang! Triforce has done them all.

Every one is made using Polystone so it gives it a considerable amount of heft for a replica. The material is very heavy and gives the sculptures a metallic appearance. The weight definitely adds credence to the quality of these products as you can imagine you are holding the real thing. They are so life-like, you could almost believe they simply reached into the tv and pulled them out.

So far they have done a Gears of War Lancer, 2 Hammerbursts, 2 Snub Pistols variants, a Locust bust, 2 Marcus Fenix bust variants, as well as a Mass Effect Avenger and 2 Predator variants. The newest additions are the Batman: Arkham City Batarang, Riddler Trophy and Catwoman Riddler trophy variant. There also plans in the works for a Gears Torque Bow replica. Let's break down some of the individual pieces.

The Gears of War Hammerburst is a fantastic one to start with. It is the most colorful weapon replica they've done to date, and they made a gold variant to match the Gears 2 version. It weighs in at a colossal 35 lbs! The leather strips on the handle are a nice touch and holding it makes you feel a bit like a locust yourself, capable of mowing down your COG foes.

Adding to the list, we have the Mass Effect M-3 Predator. It's hard to distinguish this gun from the in-game photos. Put em side by side and you're not sure which one to try and pick up. Weighing in at 10 lbs, it won't burden you to carry it for a long time, but it will still work great for pistol whipping your friends. It's MY pistol dammit!

Finally, let's go with a classic. A piece modeled after one of the greatest superheroes of all time, The Batman. This Batarang stands almost 2 feet tall and weighs an incredible 20 lbs! It's held in Batman's spiked glove, reaching up from the darkness of the Batcave. The Batarang is detachable, so be responsible when you fling it at your sister's head. Make sure there are no witnesses.

There are many more items I could have featured in this review, but sadly, some of the best ones are no longer available. Triforce makes these items in limited quantities, evident by their massive amount of "Sold Out" stickers on the most popular figures. If you want one of these fantastic sculptures, make sure to pre-order before they're gone. And trust me, these things go quick.

Check em out at or follow them on Twitter @ProjectTriforce

Now here's a riddle for you.

Which of these incredible sculptures will be gone next? Beat the Riddler at his own game, and buy yourself something nice. Maybe that trophy he keeps forgetting all over the place...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Halo 4 MP: What's Your Specialty?

Halo 4. The dream of many a gamer finally coming true. We've been waiting for this for a long time. November can't come soon enough. I'm trying not to go insane waiting for this game to finally hit the shelf and be in my disc tray so I can ignore the outside world. Stupid world with its stupid sunshine wanting me to go to my stupid job... But I digress.

While everyone wants to continue the fight, a lot of people are wanting to jump into the multiplayer. Spartan v Spartan. Testing yourself on the greatest futuristic battlefield of all the future. What was your role in Halo 3? Sniper? Stalker? Creeping with the shotgun? Invisible assassin? Maybe a watchdog for weapon respawns or maybe you were a jack of all trades and grabbed anything you could kill with. Halo 4 makes those specialties even more defined. Let's look at them.

First of all, we need to go through what these specializations mean to the MP. You get 10 levels of extra customizations. 9 levels are designated for Armor sets, Armor skins, weapon skins, emblems, visor color, etc. Cosmetic stuff. Who doesn't like making a pink Spartan with a Unicorn emblem? I know I sure do! But the 10th level is what we're interested in. Your gameplay modifying perk. Let's see what those are. Oh, and only two of these are available at launch unless you buy the Limited Edition. Then you get all 8. So spend the extra cash.

First one up is Wetwork. This one is available at launch. Spartan IV's make a lot of noise running around the arena, so this one may appeal to those who want to be lighter on their feet. Sound dampening will muffle your steps while sprinting giving you a chance to make a more silent kill. Assassination animations also end faster allowing you to hit and run. Anyone using Promethean vision (which makes you show up as a red figure through walls) now they only see a figure outline.


Pioneer is the second one available at launch. Fast Track mod nets you a faster experience rate, getting you closer to your goals. Loadouts can be changed mid match, but Fast Track only gives you the extra EXP speed for as long as it was active. No cheating by switching it at the end.

Move on to the Engineer. Weapon drops, as we already know, are dynamic in both location and loot. A rocket launcher? Nope. Plasma Pistol. And you might have to sprint across the map or it may land directly in front of you. No one knows. Oh wait, except the Engineer. A few seconds before everyone else can spot the drop-pod plummeting down, the Engineer gets a HUD arrow pointing to the location.

Complimenting the Engineer is the Tracker. Get to the drop pod and find out it's a plasma pistol. Or maybe it's a sniper and you suck with that. The Tracker allows you to perform a Drop Recon switch. This mod allows you to randomly gamble on a change of weapons in the pod. That plasma pistol is now a rocket launcher. Not a bad idea.

Let's get to the Rogue. This one is a sniper's dream. Did you constantly hate one lone bullet knocking out of zoom on that perfect triple headshot? The Rogue's stability mod removes that factor. Your reticule stays stable, allowing for that long range dome to be turned into a pile of goo.

Not good enough you say? Enter the Stalker. It's not how it sounds... Okay, it's EXACTLY like it sounds. But while most stalkers peek at girls in the shower (I'm looking at you Kale), this mod allows you to track your nemesis. The last guy that killed you, or even guys that just shot at you, are visible on your HUD. Revenge is a dish best served hot. Call em out to your team and watch those blips fade into nothingness.

Who likes turrets? Pathfinder may be right for you. Not only do you cool down the Warthog's chain gun faster, you can also move faster if you rip an entrenched turret and carry it around with you. This gunner mod makes me want to get in the back of that vehicle instead of being the one driving it.

Or maybe not. The last one is the Operator. He has a nifty little perk, and no it's not connecting calls to Albuquerque. Hate those damn plasma shots stopping you in your tracks? Not anymore. The wheelman armor mod stops their stopping of your unstoppable machine. You also recharge the vehicle's health a bit faster. These don't stack however. Several Operators in the same vehicle won't make an indestructible warthog. They apparently thought of everything. Clever girl.

We'll get a few nostalgia pieces back, as well as new goals to try and hit (Recon-esque), but the diverse Multiplayer seems a bit deeper down the rabbit hole than we probably expected. How do these changes make you feel? Excited? Nervous? Need a change of pants? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

COD Being Innovative... WTF?

With 8 current titles, the Call of Duty franchise has grown exponentially from its roots. As of April this year, 40 Million active users spanning several platforms, were all logged onto the series. The total sales of all 8 games reached an extraordinary number of 100 Million copies in November, 2011.

Rarely feeling the need to innovate the series, COD has mainly been selling by copying the old MP system and pasting it into the newest title. This has been done for several games in the series. A few new weapons, a couple new game modes, different kill streak perks... This was mainly the only changes few can remember.

This does not mean the game is stale, however. COD found a niche in the gaming world and gained a very large following online. Millions flock to the newest title as if it were the next generation iPhone.The internet is scoured daily for leaks about the next COD. It seems players cannot get enough of the series, even if the last innovation was Modern Warfare. But then we come to Black Ops 2. Apparently Treyarch got tired of hearing the old quip about a copy/pasta game and decided to change that.

Set in 2025, Treyarch has stepped up the multiplayer setting. Mirroring the campaign, many new weapons and attachments will make their way into the hands of players. These attachments deal a bit more kick to the weapons. The millimeter scanner sends out a pulse wave that reveals enemies through walls and smoke cover. This is just one new fun addition.

One of the bigger innovation is the create-a-class system. It completely destroys the older version, allowing for far more weapon combos. You can mix and match 10 items from every category, allowing for even more tweaks to suit your style. It also adds a new twist to the Wild Card function. Wild cards take one of your ten slots, but they allow you to pick 2 perks from the same category. Perk pros have been removed as well.

COD points have also been replaced with a new ranking system. Each rank allows one new unlock. However, with over 100 unlocks and only 55 levels, players will need to prestige multiple times to get everything in the game.

A 6 team multiplayer mode also changes the old standard of squad v squad. Now it's squad v squad v squad v squad v squad (1, 2, 3, 4, 5..) v squad. Hard Point mode is a new adaptation of KoTH (King of the Hill you morons). You need to hold one area to add to your score. In multi-team, this is chaos at its finest.

Potentially the biggest game changer is the drive towards making it a competitive sport. League Play adds an arena style, where players are divided into skill group divisions. The more you play, the higher you climb. CODcast adds a twist where spectators can provide commentary on live matches, or previously played ones. Picture-in-picture, along with map view options adds more depth to these commentaries. Live streaming can be done directly from the game (no PC necessary) and can be viewed on any tablet, computer or mobile device.

Innovation has never been a driving factor in any COD game so far, but Black Ops 2 seems to be breaking that tradition. Will it bring a new fire into the series? Or will taking a chance cause a major flop? I guess players will find out in November.

Gears of War: Serious Review R Serious

This is a compelling and informative review about the Gears of War series. It pinpoints both the flaws and the excellence that is Gears. It will only take about 6 minutes of your time.

If you do not laugh at any point in the video, get off my site, you humanless robot!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Epic Games Buys People Can Fly

People Can Fly, developers of the Painkiller Series, Bulletstorm, and most recently, Gears of War: Judgment, have been purchased by Epic Games. Having worked with Epic's Unreal Engine on several games, the two companies have history together. PCF was responsible for a lot of the Gears of War PC port and collaborated in part on Gears 2.  Having purchased a majority stock in 2007, Epic made the decision recently to buy out the company.

Three key employees left PCF at this time, including the founder Adrian Chmielarz. With PCF making the campaign for Gears: Judgment, many have wondered if this will affect the game. Adrian anticipated this and sent the following tweet: "Gears fans, you're going to love Judgment. It's in great hands. And don't worry, you'll hear about my plans soon enough." Thank you Adrian for the wonderful gaming experiences we've had from you and your team.

Halo 4: The Next Journey

4 years after the events of Halo 3, we find ourselves back in the role of Master Chief, Spartan 117. He is awakened by Cortana from his long cryo sleep as the ship drifts near a planet. The planet Requiem was first seen during the Legendary Ending of Halo 3. A world inside a Dyson Sphere (a solid shell mega-structure encompassing a planet or a star), this planet seems relatively untouched by human or Covenant hands.

Cortana also reports intruders on the ship. Covenant from the fleet outside his ship have invaded the vessel. There is no word on why the truce was broken in the 4 years Chief has been gone. Why the Covenant have come to Requiem, or how they even found it, remains a mystery to be discovered in November.

New enemies abound on the surface. Prometheans are synthetic killers, all of them decked out in Forerunner weaponry. Some are bug-like, while others appear humanoid. All of them have goal though. To eliminate intruders. These enemies appear more like sentries or a security system than an actual race. Nevertheless, they are not to be treated lightly. They each have their own specific function that, when combined, make them formidable opponents.

Cortana will have much more of an active role in this story. She has grown in her personality, choosing anew look for herself in the years Chief has been asleep. Things are not as they seem, however. Nearing the end of her seven year life-span, she is slowly drifting into madness. "Rampancy" affects all Smart AI's as they get closer to being seven years of age. This is accelerated by taking on more and more information. Since Cortana has absorbed information from both Halo and the Gravemind, she has already received more information than any AI has before. This has only accelerated her rampancy, and will make her a very unpredictable force in the game.

Will the Prometheans be the one to stop the Chief? Or will his closest companion be his undoing? Time will tell, but time is something Cortana may not have.

While we don't know exactly why the Covenant have broken the truce with Earth, we do know they are extremely interested in Requiem. They won't let humanity discover what the planet hides until they get their hands on it first. Covenant landing parties land in multiple places on the planet, and while you may have to avoid or kill them, they are not the predators in this jungle. Prometheans eliminate Covenant as much as they will humans.
Later on, we see the new UNSC frigate, Infinity, crash land on the planet. Chief sets off to find them, encountering many different Promethean enemies along the way. He is introduced to some fairly unique weapons. Forerunner in design, they pack an extremely powerful punch. The scattershot shotgun, the light rifle, Promethean Repeater and Promethean Sniper make up some of the devastating arsenal. Each weapon disintegrates the enemy when they are killed with it.

All this slammed into one game? Yes please. But don't fret if it appears they are doing too much too soon.. Halo 4 is not the end, but merely the beginning of the Reclaimer Trilogy. Halo 5 and 6 will appear in the years to come, and we will get to see even more of the Universe we have come to love. Halo 4 releases Tuesday November 6th, 2012. Exclusively on Xbox 360

Halo: A Look Back

Halo has been the flagship title of Microsoft. Seven games to date have been made, all of them a delight to behold. The epic story takes us deep into space, in an age of exploration and all-out war. The tale has taken us many years to learn, and even more ancient mysteries remain.

Halo: Combat Evolved brought us into the fold, where Humanity faces complete annihilation. Earth is the last protected planet from the ruthless Covenant forces. Set on the gigantic structure, simply termed Halo, we fill the boots of the Master Chief. A genetically enhanced Super Soldier, code named "Spartan", he is further aided by a suit of armor that raises his strength, speed and reflexes to beyond even his superhuman traits. An AI, named Cortana, is our companion on this trip. She gets into our head. Literally.

During the combat with the Covenant, we find an even more frightening enemy. The Flood. A parasitic organism that will kill and infect any sentient life-form it comes across. It's whole purpose? To control and consume. It is nearly unstoppable and requires massive amounts of both nerves and firepower to engage these nightmares. The Halo construct was designed to eliminate the Flood by destroying all sentient life in the Universe, thereby starving it out. The only way to end both the threat of the Flood and the installation to the rest of the galaxy, was to destroy Halo.

Barely surviving the explosion in time, Master Chief makes his way back to Earth. Enter Halo 2. The Covenant have found our home. Moments ago you were getting a medal, now you are locked in a deadly firefight as the Covenant try to destroy the defensive platforms. Mowing down the enemy, you find a bomb that was set to destroy your satellite. Returning it seems only fitting. Jumping out the airlock, bomb in tow, you plummet through the ships between you and earth. Reaching the Covenant carrier, you activate the timer and continue on your way. The explosion? Beautiful.

Now the real battle begins. The fight on Earth is brief, but intense. With the Covenant forces defeated, the High Prophet Regret immediately retreats. The UNSC ship, In Amber Clad, follows them. Once out of slipspace, they find a second Halo ring. Obviously the first one, was not the only. Master Chief is sent to kill Regret, while the crew searches for how to destroy the second installation.You also take part as the Elite warrior, Arbiter, to learn about the Covenant side of story. You learn the Prophets have lied to them for generations and mean to betray all the Elites.

While traveling on this newest Halo, you encounter the Gravemind, the collective consciousness of the Flood. His goals mirror your own, although for more selfish reasons. He sends Master Chief to High Charity to take advantage of a Covenant civil war. This was used as a distraction so the Gravemind could infest In Amber Clad and spread the flood. The High prophet of Mercy is taken by the flood forms once they escape the ship. Unable to destroy Halo and prevent the sequence firing, they yank the Index, causing the system to prime all the rings so they can only be fired from The Ark. Cortana stays behind to destroy the Flood infested ship, High Charity.

Now we get to Halo 3. After escaping the second Halo, Master Chief returns to Earth to pursue The Ark. Crashing to Earth, his armor is locked up. Once he recovers, he finds himself surrounded by marines, and one Elite. Getting up he attacks the Elite, before being told by Johnson it's the Arbiter. The Elites have left the Covenant and have joined Humanity in the fight. A few firefights through the jungle later, Master Chief is headed to a UNSC bunker to plan out the next move.

The Covenant have discovered the portal to the Ark in Africa. Master Chief is sent in to take it back before the Covenant can get to it. During the fight, a flood infested ship arrives and starts taking over as much as it can, before your new found allies, the Elites, start eradicating the infestation. You and the Arbiter, along with Forward unto Dawn, chase the High Prophet Truth, and his forces through the portal.

Arriving, Chief learns the Covenant already have taken control of a large portion of the Ark. They must move quickly to ensure they can stop Truth from activating the rings. Fighting their way through the various landscapes, they quickly clear out enemy entrenchments. Truth captures Johnson since only a human can interact with Forerunner technology. When they reach the control center, Master Chief and the Arbiter are approached by the Gravemind. He proposes a collaboration to prevent Truth from firing the Ark, since it would mean the end of the Flood as well. Master Chief agrees, knowing neither of them will keep the truce once they stop Truth. While there, they learn the first Halo that was destroyed is being remade.

The rings are activated and the firing sequence starts. After killing Truth, the Gravemind turns on the Chief and the Arbiter, forcing them to escape the control center. Once they escape, Master Chief tells the Arbiter the only way to stop the Ark is to destroy the Halo currently under production. And in order to accomplish that, they need to rescue Cortana. Imprisoned by the Gravemind so he could learn her secrets, she rests in the belly of the ship. One secret she carries, is the Index from the first Halo. It can be used to destroy the Halo once more, causing a chain reaction through the entire Ark, rendering the Halos inert.

Once they trigger the detonation sequence, they race to the ship Forward unto Dawn. The blast rips apart the slipspace jump, and only the front half of the ship, carrying the Arbiter, makes it back to Earth. Believing the Master Chief is dead, they hold a memorial service. Meanwhile, Master Chief and Cortana are drifting through space in the rear end of the ship. Master Chief gets in a cryo tube to wait out the possible years until rescue, telling Cortana "Wake me if you need me."

Spartans never die.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Transformers: Fall of Cyrbertron Multiplayer Demo Hands-On

Anyone who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons should remember the old Transformers tv show. Filled with horrible graphics, bad voice acting, miserable storylines, and the dreaded music that came with it. If you found yourself agreeing with any of those, you did not grow up with the show, you dirty liar.

Transformers was an awesome escape into gigantic robots who could turn into all the most awesome vehicles! It filled your mind with the possibility that every car or truck you saw was really an Autobot waiting to protect us all. It also made you fear hearing a jet pass over your head, as it could be another Decepticon about to wipe out your home.

Comics, movies, action figures, tv shows. Transformers has done it all. And in recent years, they've branched out into video games. Fantastic video games I must say. The graphics bring a childhood favorite to life. Filled with the old school designs, it turns the show into a controllable atmosphere. The storyline from the first one (War for Cybertron, 2010) was great, and the newest one (Fall of Cybertron) looks to be along those same lines.

But enough about the boring stuff. You want to know about the Multiplayer. I mean, the title itself is about the multiplayer. So lets get to the juicy stuff. The main four classes you can play as in the Demo are the Infiltrator, the Destroyer, the Titan, and the Scientist. Each comes with it's own unique power, vehicle and weapon assortment.

The Infiltrator is one of the fastest characters. It also is one of the smallest. Armed with a shotgun and heavy pistol, the ranges vary on effectiveness. The shotgun is mainly used for CQC with larger characters, as the spread will sometimes go around the smaller ones, like the Infiltrator and Scientist. The heavy pistol on the other hand, is extremely effective at all ranges. If you can hit the head, it gains you a distinctive advantage over your opponent. It's specialty power is cloaking. Your character turns invisible, a la Halo 3, only turning off once you run out of power or shoot your weapon. It turns into a 4 wheeled menace with machine gun turrets. Incredibly fast and agile, it makes it easy to evade your enemies and reappear across the map. Best used as a hit & run character.

The Destroyer is the explosive expert. It fires a pulse rifle which depletes an enemy's shield quickly. If used properly, it can help subdue a target fighting your teammate. The secondary weapon fires three rockets. Useful, but the long reload time means it should be your first shot, or your last shot. Combined with the pulse, it should turn your targets into scrap metal. The special ability projects a force shield that blocks incoming fire, but lets you shoot out. Strategically placed, they have to come to you. The transformation allows you to turn into a large Humvee-like vehicle, that can fire three rockets simultaneously. Slower than the Infiltrator, this truck is used more as a battering ram.

The Titan is just what it's name suggests. This massive machine has the greatest amount of health in the game, which makes up for it's very slow movement. The Energon harvester is mainly a mantle piece. For show, not for dough. Your real weapon is the turret mounted to your arm. It deals a lot of damage, very quickly. The specialty attack is a spinning tornado of blades. Seriously, don't touch. As for the vehicle? How do you like tanks?

Now on to the Scientist. Hands down the most fun character. The machine gun? Very nice. The targeting laser that affects enemy shields? Pretty cool. How about the special ability to heal nearby teammates? Extremely useful. But that's not what I am talking about. I am talking about the transformation. A jet ladies and gentleman. Your own personal fighter jet, able to appear and disappear at will. Armed with vehicle seeking rockets, this bad boy gets you to all the high places to become a bird of prey. While it can certainly boost across the map effortlessly, it can also hover. Picking off targets has never been so easy. The most useful setting for this character is in the Objective mode.

Speaking of modes, you are given two options. The standard Team Deathmatch (TDM), and a multiple hill Objective mode. TDM is first to 40, while the Objective mode is first to 400. Killing is important in both, but locking down Energon nodes in Objective is key. The more nodes in your possession, the faster you score points.

Now to a few notes. One of the least used weapons (which isn't saying much) is the blade that comes out of your hand. It's a devastating melee that can do a good amount of damage. It should only be used as a last resort, or to gain an advantage on an unsuspecting opponent early on. Not recommended against Titans unless you're about to die. Also, if you find yourself low on health or ammo, located around the map are a few items that may be of interest to you. If you find a glowing cube (there are two on the map) that gives you back all your health and shields. Useful if you know where they are. As for your ammo count, you will see what looks like glowing ammo magazines. This will bring all your ammo to max.

Overall, this demo is extremely fun. The transformations are spot on to what fans like myself have been wishing for, and you'll find yourself transforming back and forth just for fun. If you have 2 GB free on your hard drive, download it and try it. If not, delete something and download it anyway. Hope to destroy you later!