Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wii U Launch Titles Confirmed; 23 Games to Satiate Your Wallet on Day 1

Nintendo has confirmed all 23 launch titles for the Wii U. Which ones are actually worth the money, that's up to you. Glancing over it - multi-platform and/or re-releases aside - there are some great games available, with about 15 titles (give or take) that I would be interested in, such as Assassin's Creed 3 or Ninja Gaiden 3. Remove those aforementioned factors, and the list diminishes to just two: New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU.

Regardless, here's your launch titles, and you can find the remainder of the "launch window" games - defined as those with release dates between November 19 and March 31 - after the break. I've taken the liberty of bolding any titles that are of worthy consideration:

  • Assassin's Creed 3
  • Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition
  • Call of Duty Black Ops 2
  • Darksiders 2
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
  • EA Sports FIFA Soccer 13
  • ESPN Sports Connection
  • Game Party Champions
  • Just Dance 4
  • New Super Mario Bros. U
  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge
  • Nintendo Land
  • Rabbids Land
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited
  • Sing Party
  • Skylanders Giants
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition
  • Transformers Prime
  • Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
  • Wipeout 3
  • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
  • ZombiU

Sunday, September 23, 2012

[REVIEW] Mark of the Ninja

Release Date: September 7, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays LikeShadow Complex, 2D CastlevaniaMetroid

What's Great: Classic, two-dimensional exploration. There have been games that have dabbled with stealth in 2D, but this game almost nails it. The controls, once mastered, make you feel like a ninja, as you're flying across the screen, grappling to a fro, ducking into air vents, hiding out of sight.

Terrorizing guards is a absolute treat. The game's stealth is done to a point, where you could distract one guard, who's mid-conversation with another, while you dangle down from a perch point, haul him up Batman Connor-style, hide out in a secondary location, and wait for the guard to return to his conversation, only to find the lifeless body of his comrade strung up to a light post. God damn is that awesome.

Lastly, the stealth improvements are phenomenal, especially the whole "fog of war". You can't see what your character literally cannot see. Whatever is out of his line of sight becomes blurry, and any enemy that was once visible that walks away becomes blurry, then disappears, with his own last known location appearing. There's even the rings of sound that emanate from their source, be it footsteps or a dart that hits a surface.

What's (Not So) Great: Some may find the structured way that new abilities are doled out a bit of a downer, as your ability tree is slowly unlocked as you beat story-missions. One of the most powerful moves is the last thing you learn (part of the whole "tattoos give you powers" line), but is tied to a suit you have to wear, rather than an innate ability, such as freezing time. Then again, it's a trade-off, but it'd be nice to be this "all powerful" ninja.

Bottom Line: Mark of the Ninja has quickly shaped what other stealth games should be doing. Be it a new Shinobi title or Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, every game within the genre should take some pointers from this game. The guys and gals at Klei have been on a rampage since N+, followed up with the Shank games. The entire game is great, and comes highly recommended to many gamers.

Grade: A-

(Played the game in it's entirety, but wasn't masochistic enough for New Game+. Earned 22 out of 30 Achievements, worth 265 points.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bayonetta 2 Announced, Wii U Exclusive, Nintendo Published

No release date, but it certainly is surprising.

No gameplay was shown, just bullets, guns on feet, more bullets, and an adversary in the distance.

Wii U Launches November 18, Two SKUs, Starting at $300


Reggie just announced the Wii U is launching 2 weeks prior to the Japanese release, hitting the States on November 18, in two flavors.

The Deluxe edition, primarily the one just about everyone will be buying, has everything listed in the shot:

And yes, that's Nintendo Land as the pack-in game. For those with strained eye-sight:

  • Wii U console
  • Wii U GamePad
  • AC adapter for each
  • HDMI cable
  • Wii U sensor bar
  • Additional memory (32 GB)
  • GamePad charging cradle
  • Stands for GamePad and Console
  • Nintendo Land
The Basic pack has everything north from the additional memory; you're only getting 8 GB here.

As stated, we have two months until release, and here's your pricing:

Enjoy the wallet crunching, ladies and gents; it's going to be a bumpy holiday season.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

[EDITORIAL] What Nintendo Needs to Do With the Wii U; End Game

We're almost done! The fifth, and final, installment of this editorial of mine on the Wii U. Exactly how does Nintendo expect to win over their long-time fans, those they swooned with the Wii, and the developers they desperately need to create invigorating experiences? Where can Nintendo go from here, and how can they make sure they utilize their one year's head start and keep Microsoft and Sony off of their heels? Keep reading to find out...

Over the years, Nintendo has never really been known for having powerful hardware, but more of having a powerful library of IPs and franchises they could put on that hardware. Between their top franchises - Mario, Pok√©mon, and The Legend of Zelda, to name a few - Nintendo has a very compelling catalog. Asides from the already announced New Super Mario Bros. U, along side Pikmin 3, they are the only "main" Nintendo properties on the system announced thus far. It's assumed we'll see Link in Hyrule Field soon enough (whether or not it'll be similar to the HD demo we've seen is yet to be known, so don't go believing rumors quite yet), and we're hoping for a new Metroid and StarFox entry within a reasonable time. We haven't gotten wind of what's going on, but that's OK. What concerns me the most is that, despite Nintendo already having a fairly solid lineup for the system, their third parties are only content with bringing ports, and the Wii U needs more than that.

This is not enough to get me to buy the Wii U version.

Having Assassin's Creed III and Batman: Arkham City - the two power-house third-party games - on the system is great; the crowds were almost over-gasped when they announced them. Arkham City was a great game, but it's a year old. Assassin's Creed III is bound to be a fantastic entry, but it's a month and a half after it's initial release on other systems that people already own. I've yet to meet someone who is holding out for the Wii U versions of these games. We don't need ports that restructure the game and make it appear "tailored" to the Wii U; remember back to Sony saying they don't want Wii ports for the Move. There needs to be fresh experiences, and being exclusive helps.

Two prime examples are ZombiU and Rayman Legends. Coincidentally, they're both from Ubisoft, who has stated they don't plan on investing too much into the system, but after the purported shit-storm Nintendo caused between themselves and EA over using the Nintendo Network as an Origin platform, it looks more like Ubisoft and Nintendo are best buds. I don't expect too much from EA, as the gimped Madden 13 doesn't speak well for their integrity with their Wii U releases, but there are plenty of other third party developers Nintendo can woo.

Friday, September 7, 2012

[EDITORIAL] What Nintendo Needs to Do With the Wii U; Installment 04

We're back with part 4 of this massive editorial, focusing on Nintendo's direction competition: Sony, Microsoft, and Apple, and what they have geared up for their respective futures. Nintendo has a conference coming up on September 13, where the final bits of news is expected to be released. History has shown that Nintendo loves September announcements for pricing/availability for their upcoming systems, so expect this day to be the day we learn how much of a hit our credit cards are to take.

This year, we see Nintendo not only initiate the eighth generation of home consoles, but this is the first time in Nintendo's history since the NES that they've released a console before their competition. Not only is this an incredibly bold move by Nintendo, but it's also naive. They're allowing their competition know how they're handling their new system, giving them a deep insight to their plans, and adjust accordingly. Assuming the Wii U lands in November, that gives Microsoft and Sony 7 months between then and E3 next year to tweak their battle plans and come out swinging. That is, if Nintendo is tight-lipped on pertinent info that won't come to light until the release; otherwise, if this upcoming press conference is much more info than just pricing and release date, that makes it 9 months. Seven to nine months is enough time to tweak just about anything they need to; if Microsoft can take SmartGlass from initial on-paper design to displayable prototype to the masses in twelve months, then three-fourths of that time is ample.

* * *

To date, Microsoft hasn't said shit on the Xbox Next (or Durango, Xbox 720, Xbox Infinite, what have you). If you recall that document leak back in June, Microsoft actually confirmed it to be legitimate, even if it was "out-dated" by their measures. Regardless, it's interesting information. Things such as Project Fortaleza (or "Kinect Glasses") seems to bridge Kinect elements with Google Glasses concepts. Halo 5 isn't billed as a launch title, but it's coming shortly after. The Kinect 2 appears to want to talk to Xbox controllers for further integration. The system itself is to be $200-300, the same price range it's at now. There's a lot going on in there, but the juiciest information is right above. 

Microsoft's back catalog of games needs some love, especially Rare. They've been on the front lines lately, with the various Kinect Sports games, and the minds behind Avatars. Despite this pivotal piece for Microsoft, Rare hasn't done shit with their respective properties since Banjo-Kajooie: Nuts & Bolts. What about Killer Instinct 3? Where the hell has Joanna Dark been? My most important question is "why hasn't Rare made a new IP?". That question may be answered with the next generation; hell, we may even get to see that realistic Kameo sequel. If you unleash Rare, the last few ounces of faith I have in them tells me that, since they've been away from their original IPs over the course of the 00s, they can very well come back with a slew of fresh ideas for Banjo, Perfect Dark, and Kameo.

I've already talked my head off of how SmartGlass may very well become something great; I'm not going to banter on any further. I will, however, drop this nugget in here: if they really wanted to be sly enough, release the SmartGlass app on the 3DS and the Vita.

[REVIEW] The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire
Release Date: September 4, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: Minecraft, The Sims

What's Great: It's something else to do. We've spent a hundred hours in the game killing and wandering, so being able to relax and build a house and adopt some kids is nice. Adopting is probably the oddest part out of the entire expansion, especially for those that never started the Dark Brotherhood story line. With the raw materials, you're not out gathering them like ingredients; most can be purchased at a general store.

What's (Not So) Great: Tracking down a general store that actually sells glass or hay is probably the most frustrating, or even a sawmill that's willing to part with their lumber. I bought the plot of land just north of Morthal, and I ended up having to fast-travel to Riverwood just to buy lumber; the saw mill in Morthal never gave me the option to purchase lumber, and the general store is more of an apothecary's general store. Again, Riverwood ended up being my general store of choice here.

Bottom Line: A radically different expansion than what many were expecting before the official revealing, Hearthfire is more of a content add-on or a mod, rather than a full-blown expansion, like Dawnguard. If you like chores, then you may very well like this. It's an enjoyable content pack, as you can fully customize your own home, rather than buying one in-town and not being able to much outside of having the steward do it for you (even though you can hire one for your new house). It's not terrible, but if you've been playing for quite a while, you may have a ton of iron ores/ingots (like myself), and you can crank out a house in a matter of minutes, which reduces the perceived value of the expansion. Then again, it's only $5.

Grade: C+

(Bought the plot just north of Morthal, and built a full house with 3 wings. Stocked a ton of shit in the house, but never put any kids in there ended up adopting the little flower girl in Windhelm.)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

First Footage of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes Emerges

First there was the official unveiling, now there's the direct-feed footage of 11 minutes of absolute glory

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is, apparently, hitting Xbox 360 and the PS3 sometime next year. You know what also hits next year? The Xbox Next and PS4.

This game looks too good to be running on current gen systems (yes, this has been confirmed to be real-time, not pre-rendered), so this demo must be running on hardware spec'd out as if it were next gen, much like the speculation for Remember Me and Star Wars 1313. If this ends up being a launch title for next-gen, I won't be shocked.

If this ends up on the Wii U, then I will be.

[REVIEW] The Walking Dead: Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead

The Walking Dead: Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead
Release Date: August 29, 2012
System Reviewed: Xbox 360
Plays Like: The other Walking Dead chapters; The Secret of Monkey Island

(Ed. Note: It goes without saying, but some may find spoilers in here, despite them not being blatant. You have been warned.)

What's Great: A continuation of the great story so far. It escalates fairly quickly, but it gets just as shocking as the last two chapters, so it definitely keeps you on your toes. Just like in the last episode, prior events do shape how things change and proceed, so you may want to freshen up on your decision choices before plunging into it.

What's (Not So) Great: The story's escalation. In the second chapter, shit didn't happen until later in the tale, whereas here, it goes down within the first 30 minutes or so. I still find issue with the controls (moving the cursor with the right-stick, and making decisions with the face buttons isn't exactly prime, nor is using the D-Pad for choices as an alternative, forcing you to move away from the left-stick). Some of the reaction times during fights seem to have been shortened, so you may find yourself dying more than you did previously.

Bottom Line: The entire story arc is getting better, with some of the side-stories either coming to a close, or escalating beyond belief. During the first hour or two, I had Ron Burgandy's voice calmly saying:

The game is getting better, what with twists and turns become more prevalent. The ending wasn't as shocking as the last, and there was more "to do" than there was story, but it still has me anticipating Episode 4.

Grade: B

(Played the entirety of the Episode. Kind of hard to tell you what I did, considering that there's not much branching off you can do.)