Tagged: Video Game

REVIEW: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition

It’s become a growing practice to create a special edition of popular new releases specifically for Sony and Nintendo’s handhelds, more suited to the system’s differing strengths.  When [[[Batman: Arkham Origins]]] was released recently, both systems got their own side adventure, obliquely connected to the main game, but unique in features and content. Thanks to the popularity of the series, the handheld game has been expanded and made available for all major systems, console and handheld.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition is set three months after the events of Arkham Origins.  An explosion at Blackgate prison results in a chaotic takeover of the facility, headed by The Penguin and Black Mask.  Things get more serious when it’s learned that the Joker has also joined the incarcerated internecine warfare. The game has some limited free play options – you can battle the three bosses and their associated campaigns in any order, and the end game finale differs based on who you chose to fight last. The movement is largely a 2-D left-to-right progression, with jumps to other angles for certain puzzles and  boss fights.

The gameplay is similar enough to the main line of games that it’s easy enough to pick up with little trouble.  Enhanced to HD-quality, the game is still based on a design for smaller, slightly less powerful handheld devices, so it’s  not as huge and expansive as the primary title.  The Deluxe Edition upgrade adds new characters, levels and unlockables – there’s 10 special costumes to seek out, from DC stories like Zero year, the Batman 66 costume, and the Blackest Night costume which makes you impervious to damage.

BAOBDE_Suits_Key ArtThe game is fun and entertaining in their own right, good for filling the time between DLC releases of the main games.  Likely not worth a repurchase if you got the original for the handhelds, but at this price, it’s a good addition to the series, and certainly easier to see on a bigger screen.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition is available via download for most console and handheld systems now, including Steam, and coming soon on the WiiU .

REVIEW – Doctor Who: Legacy

Doctor Who has gotten a number of videogames in the last couple of years, from games for the Playstation 3 to a Nintendo 3Ds version of the card game Top Trumps.  Doctor Who: Legacy is the latest in the series, a game for iOS and Android tablets and phones that packs a great deal of addicting gameplay into a simple mechanic.

At its core, Legacy is an iteration of the “Line up three jewels” game as seen in the many variations of Bejweled. The big different is the player is not limited to moving an “orb” only one spot, but anywhere on the screen, within a number of seconds.  With orbs sliding out of its way as you go, this simple change allows a deft player to set up a number of combos in one play.  It’s s skill that takes a bit to get used to, but opens up a great deal of strategy.

In the game, you play The Doctor and his companions, each of whom are assigned one of five orb colors on the game board, with a sixth (pink) for restoring hit points..  You are presented with wave upon wave of villains who attack you with energy blasts and special attacks, shaving down your health.  When you line up three or more of one color, the character assigned to that color attacks the enemies, or the pink orbs restore health to the team.  Combos allow more than one character to attack at once, and multiplies the total damage.  Your characters have varied attack and hitpoint values they add to the team, and each has special powers that become available every few rounds – change orb colors, increase damage, or restore health.  Combining that with the flexible orb placement on the field, the game keeps itself fresh, more than simply swapping jewels endlessly.

Like all free-to-play games, there’s an option to buy items, represented here by Time Crystals, which allow you to continue playing if you’re well into a long level, are used to rank up your characters for greater power and strength, and to buy packs of extra companions.  The game is exceedingly fair about making the crystals available in the game as well, and with patience, you can score all the companions as random rewards for completing levels.  As a thank you for buying, the game allows you access to the “fan area” after your first purchase of 5 or more Crystals. The fan area offers extra levels, special “fan versions” of companions, and more bonuses to be added later.  It’s a fair value for at least that first five bucks; indeed the game itself would be worth that if they had chosen to charge.

One caveat – the game needs an internet connection at startup to sync with the servers and download updates, so have one ready before you play.  Right now the developers are running a special “Advent Calendar” promotion via their facebook page – Liking their page gives you access to promo codes for extra companions and outfits for your characters.  There’s a lot of value packed into the game, and it’s a welcome addition to your portable device.

The game is free for Apple and Android devices.

The argument against used video games…and why developers will always lose that argument.

space-invaders1In an  interview at IGN that’s already raised many hackles and comments, the developer behind The Order: 1886 claims GameStop’s used games business model is hurting developers.

“Weerasuriya’s solution is simple: “I don’t think we should stop used games, but we should do something about getting part of the revenue back from GameStop and places like that. That’s not penalizing consumers; they’ll still get what they want.””

Small problem.

GameStop isn’t just going to “give” money to the companies.  And I’ll go so far as to say that if they’re asked to, they’ll simply go out of business.  If companies try and come up with some method to get said to get said money, Gamestop will not simply settle for less – they’ll raise the prices of their used games, which may well just get people to buy the new ones after all, which gets the developers what they want.

I think it’s safe to say their used games market is more profitable than their new one.  They’ll sell thousands, millions of copies on day of release, but they make a lot more on the used ones they start selling two weeks later. Mainly because they pay outrageously low prices for them  Oh, they might give you twenty or thirty dollars for a hot new game, but that’s credit – look at how much less you get if you ask for cash; more like ten ot fifteen. And that drops fast as time passes, far faster then the price they charge does. They they turn around and sell that copy for five bucks less then a new copy, less another ten percent if you’re a power member.  So the used games make them a lot more money – no surprise they push you to buy the used end when you can.  You save five bucks; they make an extra ten, easy.I’ve heard endless arguments about how developers are getting “shafted” by the used market.  They argue that if everyone “had to” buy a used copy, they companies would do much better, and could even afford to lower their prices.  Save argument – when’s the last time you ever saw a company voluntarily lower their prices cause they were “making enough money”?  The only reason companies lower prices is when they aren’t making enough money.  They lower prices to increase purchases, and “make it up on volume” as the cliche goes.

Books, records, CDs, DVDs, none of these have any limits on what you do with them once you’re done with them.  And any attempt to TRY to do so is met with ridiculous (and justified) pushback. Anyone old enough to remember when DIVX was an actual machine, and not just a codec?  Buyers are already very angry about the DRM, online codes, and all the other things companies added to their products right out of the gate.  The famous users’ agreements you gleefully click all the time basically make you admit that you don’t own the program you just paid for – you bought a license to use the program, technically forever, but still rescindable by the publisher at any time.  Luckily, that agreement is rarely enforced, but there’s nothing stopping them from doing so, save for the potential response of the public.

To a degree, the argument for buying used crosses the argument for pirating – “They’re trying to screw us out of too much money”.  Used gamers just wait for the price to drop, or the used copies to appear, pirates go further and don’t pay at all.  The end result is the same – the developer makes less money.  Prices for new things (electronics, medicines, video games) are more expensive at first because the company is trying to make back the money it spent on its development, off what are called the “first adopters”.  That money needs to be made back quickly, mainly so the company doesn’t go out of business, but more importantly, so they have money to invent the next cool thing.  As the prices go down, the company makes less on each item, but by that time (presumably) it’s pure profit, save for the megligible cost of manufacture.

The rule is simple – when the list price of a new game drops, the company is making money.  With a used copy, Gamestop makes the money.  If you want to make sure the company benefits, buy a new copy on sale – GameStop paid the same amount for the game wholesale, they’re taking a hit on their side to get you in the store.

WHEN CTHULHU CALLS

All Pulp has learned that a new CALL OF CTHULHU adventure game, called THE DARKNESS WITHIN is currently in production in Spain. A sneak peek of the art has been released. Keep watching this space for more details as they become available.

Video Game Review: “RAGE”

It’s been six years since id Software’s last title (the expansion [[[Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil]]]) and in that time, lead programmer John Carmack has crafted one of the most technically sound shooters for this generation of consoles. RAGE starts out strong, as a tale of a selection of pseudo super soldiers are sent into stasis prior to a giant asteroid crashing into the Earth. Only one survives the damage, and you play this voiceless protagonist, in various missions across the post-apocalyptic wastelands. Sadly, this is where the story both begins and ends, as storytelling wasn’t obviously the focus of the game’s long six year development cycle. Instead, your character plays errant boy to anyone who asks, going on fetch-quest after fetch-quest, retrieving this and that for various folk in order to ultimately…just repeat doing that.

It’s not to say that the game is no fun. Far from it, actually, as the fetch-quests lead up to a series of fantastic gun battles and large set pieces. The wastelands are host to many manner of bandits, scabbers and sundry evil-type folk, and each character has strong and wholly different character AI that behaves uniquely in battle. Enemies don’t just seek cover and shoot blindly, some will charge at you, some will flank you, and all will try to bring you down with a ferocity that would make a Bengal tiger run in fear. The animations of reach enemy is also unique; shoot them in the side as they charge and they tumble down, staggering to regain their footing, all the while still closing on you. They leap from walls, run at you screaming…it’s all very intense.

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“Batman: Arkham City” Destroys Week-One Sales Records

Batman performs a glide kick on Victor Zsasz.

In what may be the really profitable digital strategy for DC, Batman: Arkham City, the critically acclaimed sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Rocksteady Studios has become the Highest Reviewed Video Game of 2011 on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and has shipped more than 4.6 million units worldwide since its October 18 launch in North America.

These sales figures are more than double the number of units the previous title sold in the same time period, and has already solidified the games rank as a contender for one of the top-selling titles of this year. Also, the game currently stands as the highest reviewed PS3 and 360 game of this year on Metacritic.com with average scores of 96 and 95 respectively.

Building on the intense atmosphere and story from the original game, Batman: Arkham City drops players into a section of Gotham, shut off from the main city, and over run by the inmates of the former asylum. Gangs wage war against each other and a new threat looms to take over Gotham as a whole. Cameos from Catwoman, Two-Face and more from Batman’s Rogues Gallery litter every single scene in the game, and coupled with the excellent storytelling, make it one of, if not the best superhero game ever. Look for our review in a day or two.

Upcoming Comics To Video Game Releases

Upcoming Comics To Video Game Releases

This year has seen a ton of comics-to-feature-film releases, and the video game market is not different.  However, the trend to games doesn’t always yield positive results, as many are done as quick cash-ins to support the film releases (“[[[Thor]]]”, “[[[Green Lantern: Rise Of The Manhunters]]]”).  However, every so often, a tie-in turns into a gem (the latest “[[[Captain America: Super Solider]]]” game was a pleasant surprise), but when they work best is when they are using original material to tell the story.  There are three titles coming out later this year that gamers and comic fans alike should be looking forward to.  Below, you’ll find the most recent trailers for “[[[Batman: Arkham City]]]”, “[[[Spider-Man: Edge of Time]]]” and “[[[X-Men: Destiny]]]”, all due out in the next coming months.

[[[Batman: Arkham City]]]

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Video Game Review: “Brink”

Video Game Review: “Brink”

Brink (video game)

Image via Wikipedia

The genre of First Person Shooters (or FPS) in an already over-saturated video game market is a risky venture.  In order to succeed in a sea of Halos and Call of Dutys, one must be unique, or offer something that will appeal to the masses.  Developer Splash Damage is hoping that [[[Brink]]] (out now for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360) is such a title.  Utilizing a unique graphical style, and taking note of some of the lesser-used conventions of modern shooters, Brink aims (no pun intended) to be the next go-to online shooter.  But does it hold up to expectations?

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Halo ActionClix Coming Soon

Halo 2 launched to the single biggest day in entertainment history grossing $125 million and, with the third game’s release rapidly approaching, the Halo franchise is looking to extend their dominance to the miniatures market with Halo ActionClix.

Launching in September, Halo ActionClix is changing many of the rules from Wizkids’ other ‘Clix games to make game play more like the video game.  Players can switch weapons mid combat, for example, if you were playing a figure of MasterChief with a sniper rifle and decided that the best weapon for the situation was, in fact, the shotgun you could spend an action to swap out one figure for the other.  Another feature more like a video-game is that figures do not stay dead, rather they will respawn at pre-determined points on the map.

Halo ActionClix also features exclusive Halo 3 preview content.  Figures from the initial set will be from the upcoming game; in many instances this will be gamers’ first glimpse at these characters.

The game launches this September with four- and five-figure booster packs and the Hunter Combat Pack Starter Set.  Subsequent releases will be vehicle packs and an expansion focusing on Halo 3 in earnest, all by the end of the year.

Grand Theft Auto IV Content Goes Exclusive

Take Two Interactive announced recently that the first two packages of episodic content for their upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV would be exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console. Microsoft will pay a total of $50 million for this privilege.

Take Two plans to release GTA IV this fall for both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.  With this move Microsoft hopes to attract the legions of GTA fans when they make their next-generation console decision.  The last game in the series, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sold 14 million copies on the Playstation 2 console.

Who knows, maybe this is the kind of thing Microsoft needs to stop the momentum of the Wii.