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Dark Souls 2 News

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Publisher: Namco Bandai

Platforms: Xbox, Playstation 3, PC

Insanely difficult, bulky, inaccessible and user-unfriendly, these were undeniable characteristics of the first Dark Souls, but they were also the reason why the game was so appealing to its fans. The hard and unforgiving gameplay made this title the right choice for players that were desperately looking for a challenge in the mainly casual-oriented video game market of today. But things could change drastically with its recently announced sequel, Dark Souls 2.

Dark Souls creator and Game Director, Hidetaka Miyazaki, steps down from his office and the two newcomers, Yui Tanimura and Tomohiro Shibuya, are in charge of producing the next title. Their goals will be to create a completely new storyline, a fresh hero, a larger world and a revamped multiplayer part, as well as, and this is what bothers fans of the series the most, a more user-friendly,  more accessible and straightforward gameplay.

The question here is: What are their concrete intentions? In an interview was stated that they would love to make their franchise as known and established as the The Elder Scrolls titles, which are good, but from all attributes you can assign to them, they are not "hard" games. And the difficulty of Dark Souls was what made it unique, outstanding in a time where games are trimmed for easy access and a low player skill.

Dark Souls filled a niche, and it did that perfectly. To then go on and shock their whole audience with a sequel that throws everything and jumps on the casual bandwagon would be a very unwise decision by the developers. Games like Dragon Age 2, which caused giant protests in the community because of its sudden reversal in terms of gameplay compared to its predecessor, already showed how miserably these kinds of changes can fail.

But let's not judge the game too early, maybe FromSoftware suit the action to the word and keep the game as challenging and unforgiving as its predecessor, while at the same time improving accessibility and usability.There have been games in the past that successfully made the switch, like the Mass Effect series for example, even though you can't necessarily compare Dark Souls to them.
One just can hope...




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Tomb Raider 2012 Preview

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Developer:       Crystal Dynamics
Publisher:        Square Enix
Release Date:  5th March 2013
Genre:             action-adventure










Weak, defenseless, dissolved. These are not necessarily attributes you would associate with one of the world's best known gaming figures, Lara Croft. But in her upcoming new adventure, players will be able to discover the brutal events in Lara's past, which actually turned her from a helpless, whiny archeology-student into the tough and self-conscious adventurer we all know so well.



Stranded on an old Japanese island after a ship accident, 21-year old Lara has to learn how to survive in an unknown, hostile environment filled with bloodthirsty animals and mysterious, murderous militiamen.
Beautiful young Lara
The story will focus heavily on her character development: After being forced to kill her first attacker, Lara is crushed, can't believe she took the life of another human, regrets it. Lara doesn't want to kill, but the circumstances force her to do so, and that's what changes her personality drastically, makes her stronger.
Before you know it, the little, whiny student shoots dozens of assailants, and becomes a person John Rambo would be proud of. Hopefully this transition won't happen too fast, so the player can comprehend how and why Lara changed that much.

The gameplay, in comparison to the other Tomb Raider games, changed a lot. There will be considerably more gunfights, only interrupted by occasional riddles and climbs.
Also, for the first time in the series, the world will be open for exploration. Lara will be able to return to already visited places on the island via fast travel points, and items she obtains in the later stages of the game will unlock new paths and secrets in preceding areas.

The new feature Hunting.
Another new feature will be the experience- and skill-point system,  Ms. Croft will be able to acquire new talents and abilities over the course of the game by obtaining experience-points.The game will also include the possibility to hunt and enhance your weapons, which turns Tomb Raider more and more into a standard action-adventure open world game.



Rèsumè:
The darker story seems really interesting, watching Lara handle desperate situations, and to see her character grow in the outcome could be an intriguing experience. The only fear is that the transition from "i am a helpless little girl" to "i am John Rambo" could happen too fast, too insincere.

The open-world stuff is another delicate point, if it is done well, and the player is motivated to explore the environment, it can contribute a lot to the game. On the other hand, it's very easy to mess up things like that, if the player isn't driven to investigate and scout, a giant part of the game becomes worthless
.
Lara being tortured by a mysterious militiaman.
The skillpoint system is also a section that can go either way. If the unlockable abilities are something you can look forward to, and I'm talking about almost game-changing skills, that make you feel like you really achieved something by leveling up, it can be a huge source of motivation.
But if the proficiencies to learn are just minor improvements and carry no weight in the gameplay, this could turn out to be a bad call as well.

Tomb Raider 2012 (or better 2013?) could be a
well made reboot of the franchise, or its downfall.

 

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Diablo 3 PvP Blog delayed.

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As Game Director Jay Wilson states, "some complications have risen", and he is forced to delay his PvP Blog. Also, CEO Mike Morhaime announced once again that there are no plans in eSports for Diablo 3.

Almost 7 months after release of the game, its PvP part is still missing, and no concrete information about the implementation date was provided thus far. When Blizzard announced the arena system of their famous action role-playing game, people interested in competition were full of pleasant anticipation.


Even when they declared a short time prior to the release of Diablo 3 that the Player-vs-Player mode will be added later, trustful customers bought the title in the hope that they would get what they were promised in a reasonable period of time.
 
Image of one of the still missing arenas in Diablo 3
But 7 months later and they can't even manage to get a blog out? That's not reasonable, this is just bullshit. Since there are no future plans in eSports and the real-money auction house doesn't produce the anticipated income, it seems that Activision Blizzard has abandoned the sinking ship, and that they aren't willing to put enough resources into a lost cause in order to get the missing feature out in time.

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Blizzard denies Free to Play model for Starcraft 2

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A few months before Heart of the Swarm, the first expansion for Starcraft 2:Wings of Liberty, releases, Blizzard-CEO Mike Morhaim disclaims any plans to convert SC2 into a F2P game in an interview with the British website PCGamesN. According to a bunch of professional eSports players, a conversion is unavoidable if Starcraft wants to stay worth mentioning in the world of pro gaming, but Blizzard seems to be unimpressed by such claims, or they just don't care that much about eSports as they want to make people believe.

Even from a business standpoint, if you look at games like League of Legends or DotA 2, a Free to Play model makes more sense. These titles are able to produce an infinite income for their developer Riot via microtransactions, the only reason why Blizzard didn't jump on the bandwagon might be, that they weren't able to find a reasonable way to implement said transactions yet. Maybe they come up with something until Legacy of the Void comes out, who knows.

Very interesting blogpost about this topic by Michal "Carmac" Blicharz, manager of the Intel Extreme Master

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Far Cry 3 Review

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Developer:Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Dates:
AU November 29th 2012
EU November 30th 2012
NA December 4th 2012
Genres: First-person shooter, open world




Review:

As a masterpiece, that's how the first Far Cry was described when it was released in 2004. It reached an up to that point never seen quality of graphic, and the developers,Crytek, achieved the same greatness with the next game they released in 2007:Crysis, which even by today's standards still looks astonishingly good. Sadly, Ubisoft and Crytek separated after the first title, and Far Cry 2 was created by Ubisoft Montreal.It was a good game, but it was unable to reach the calibre of it's predecessor. With the third sequel, Ubisoft hopes to revitalize the brand, and they might have succeeded with it.

Fearsome pirate leader Vaas
The story of the game puts us into the shoes of Jason Brody, who went on vacation with a couple of his friends and his two brothers, Riley and Grant. Unfortunately, the island they planned their holidays on turns out to be the home of slave trader pirates, which abduct the group of teenagers the moment they spot them. While trying to escape, your bigger brother, Grant, gets shot by the pirate leader Vaas, who then, surprisingly, gives you the chance to get away. From there on, with the help of the Rakyat, an ancient tribe of islanders, your goals are to find your missing friends and to save them from slavery, as well as taking revenge on Vaas for the murder of your older brother.

The plot of the game is amazingly well-staged, and before you know it you find yourself escaping out of burning mansions, diving out of sinking ships or digging out of dead bodies in a corpse pit. Especially the dream sequences, which occur every once in a while, are eye catchers, and the atmosphere benefits greatly from them. Even though the story is fine, if you expect very complex characters and a deep bonding to them, you will be disappointed. The way the plot is presented is very fast paced, and you barely get sufficient time for conversations with people in the world.
The charismatic german undercover agent Sam.

The first mission of the game, the escape from the pirate camp, serves as a minor tutorial, teaching you the basic controls of the game, how to sneak, how to shoot the bad guys or how to distract enemies for example. As the game progresses, more and more features and activities are presented to you.

Two of the first major abilities you learn from the Rakyat are hunting and crafting. Areas in which you are able to hunt different kinds of animals, leopards or boars for example, are distributed all over the map. If you kill these beasts, you can use their skin to craft superior equipment, like bigger backpacks to store more loot, larger ammo pouches, or better weapon holsters. Additionally, you are able to produce syringes, which if used can heal you, or provide bonuses in combat or while hunting for a few seconds. The ingredients for these are herbs which are spread across the whole map, just waiting for you to gather them.

The beautiful Rakyat leader Citra.
As it is standard for an open world game, there are a lot of different missions aside from the main quest that you can master. "Supply Drop" quests require you to deliver supplies while not exceeding a time limit, so called "Wanted:Dead" quests instruct you to kill enemy commanders, in old Rakyat fashion, with a knife, in the "Path of the Hunter" missions your task is to hunt and kill animals  threatening the villages of Rook Island.
The "Trials of the Rakyat" called challenges, in which you have to earn points for killing enemies in enterprising ways, even provide you with online leader boards for the competition with other players. Another kind of side quests are the ones provided by NPCs, which require you to find a missing girl for her parents, or to collect soldier tags to send back corpses of dead soldiers to their families.

Enemy outposts are spread all over the map. You can either just shoot all hostiles in best John Rambo manner, or you sneak around them and assassinate them one by one. The silent and subtle ways offer higher rewards, but take a lot longer.
Hunting with bow and arrow.


Once you cleared one of these strongholds of opponents, they convert into allied bases, and serve as fast travel points from then on. Also, liberating outposts is the only way to get access to new side quests, and you won't be able to conclude most of their quest lines unless you free almost all of these places.

As you become a warrior of the Rakyat, you are given a "Tautau" named tattoo, which serves as a skill system and grows the stronger you become. The more enemies you kill and missions you accomplish,  the more experience you obtain. As soon as you reach a new level, you are granted a skill point which you can use in one of the following  three skill trees:

The Heron provides long range and take down skills, such as the ability to silently kill opponents from a high ground or more accuracy while hip-firing.
The Shark offers skills for Assault Take downs and Healing, more health slots or the ability to chain takedowns for example.
The Spider presents skills for Stealth Take downs and Survival, being able to crouch faster while crouched or to loot double the amount of skins from slain animals are just a few of them.
Many skills are locked at first, and the only way to unlock them is further progression in the storyline.

One of the most important aspects of a First-person shooter is the arsenal. In Far Cry 3, you can get rid of your opponents with classical weapons such as assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and handguns, as well as with extraordinary arms like flamethrowers or rocket launchers.
The crazy crackhead Dr.Earnhardt.
In shops or in one of the vending machines, which are located in any of your bases, you can buy new weapons, refill your ammo or even acquire body armor. You can also customize your weapons by adding attachments like dot sights or extended magazines to them, and there is even the possibility to paint your dearest weaponry in different colors.

Rook Island can be described with only two words: gigantic and beautiful.
Far Cry 3 offers a huge, freely explorable insular,  maybe not comparable to the size of a Skyrim, but still enormous for an FPS. The world is almost overstuffed with hunting areas, side quests, activities, outposts to liberate and plants to harvest. While there is a lot to do, you never feel overwhelmed, Ubisoft did a great job of dosing the tasks per area. Also, every single mission and activity is marked on the world map the moment you get access to it, which helps the orientation a lot, and the implemented fast travel system saves much time.

The giant map of the Rook Islands.
The graphics of Far Cry 3 are very much impressive, Rook Island just looks amazing.The field of view is gigantic, if you can climb high enough, you are able to see the whole insular in all its glory.
The character models and faces are detailed, ambient lighting and anti-aliasing do the rest to round off this visual adventure.The sound is pretty much standard, the voice work is good overall, Jason's voice seems a bit unemotional from time to time, but in general the acoustics of the game are on a decent level.


Rèsumè:

Far Cry 3 is a good game, no question. The main plot and how it is staged is surprisingly good, especially for a First-person shooter.The things that bothered me the whole game long are the side quests. While they are fun at the beginning of the game, their lack of variance makes them a tedious obligation after a while, assumed you want to get their rewards.
After being ordered to kill some random pirate with a knife for the 15th time, you can't really motivate yourself to do so.
The good thing is though that you don't have to do all the side stuff. If you want to, you can ignore the whole hunting,knife killing and supply dropping and enjoy the great story and stunning graphics, which i personally recommend.



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Preview Dead Space 3

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Developer:  Visceral Games
Publisher:   Electronic Arts

Realease Dates:
 NA February 5th, 2013
 AU February 7th, 2013 (PC)
 EU February 8th, 2013
                           



Preview:

Hope. The only thing left to do for the fans of the Dead Space series, is to hope that their beloved brand doesn't get ruined by the new features that got announced recently.
More action and a co-op mode are the planned innovations for the third sequel, which could shred the tense and subtle atmosphere of the game to pieces.

Isaac and Carver.
But let's take a look at the story before we start judging: As it seems, the plot sends us, once again in the shoes of Isaac Clarke, out on a planet called Tau Volantis. Not only are there the ruins of another planetcracker ship to be found, but it appears that the miners of said spacecraft might have discovered the source of the Necromorph invasion, and with it the solution to wipe these fearsome creatures off the face of the galaxy. Isaac's ultimate goals will be to locate and rescue his missing friend Ellie Langford, as well as finally getting rid of the markers and their mindless minions.

The game will also introduce John Carver, an EarthGov Sergeant and survivor of the Necromorph incident on the planet Uxor, who is going to act as a co-op character and can be played by one of your friends via a Drop-in feature. As long as none of your  real-life acquaintances accompany you , he will most likely wait in your "camp"and function as an NPC.


Someone with a pretty negative attitude wrote this :/
As stated above, the game play will be more action-heavy. The abilities to roll and take cover could easily turn Dead Space into some kind of galactic pseudo Call of Duty, but it is definitely too early to damn the game for it.There are even instances of games that benefited from the addition of  a more action-oriented game play, the Mass Effect series for example.

Another innovation is the so called "Weapon Bench", which replaces the bench weapon upgrade system from Dead Space and Dead Space 2. You will be able to combine 2 weapon types , for example an assault rifle and a plasma cutter, and further it will give you the ability to use the hidden blueprints, which you can find throughout the game, to build pre-designed weapons as well.

                                                          

Résumé: 

Daniel Vávra, lead designer of the action-adventure Mafia, stated his opinion about Dead Space 3 in an interview and thinks that "it will be turned from something interesting into something nobody likes", and i am sure that what he says mirrors thousands of fans' fears. Don't get me wrong, even with the changes this might become an entertaining game. It may just not be a real Dead Space anymore.



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Assassin's Creed 3 Review

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Developer:Ubisoft                                         
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release: 22.11.2012
Genre(s):     Action-adventure, Open- World, stealth                      



Review:

Haythem Kenway while sailing to Boston.
As in previous titles of the series, we accompany the protagonist Desmond Miles on his journey through  his ancestors' lives, by the help of a machine called Animus, which allows him to experience the adventures of the assassins in his family tree with his own eyes.
The principle of the game is the same as in the predecessors of the series, you sneak behind  opponents to back stab them with your hidden blades, climb up to dizzy height in detailed cities, explore a gigantic scenery and perform relentless pursuits with guards, through streets and across rooftops. This time, the plot is settled in the 18th century, around  the independence war. Accordingly one gets to meet historically important figures like George Washington or Benjamin Franklin, which even play leading roles in the story line.
Ubisoft has brought up something unusual for the plot this time: One third of the story you command the superiority and strength emitting Haytham Kenway, when suddenly a plot twist happens, the protagonist switches and you are put into the shoes of the Native American named Connor.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Young Connor

Quest.Quests,Quests...

 

The mission design is excellent throughout the game, only a couple of tasks require too much running from A to B and back. Almost no quests are the same as the others, one has to infiltrate a hostile camp, give battalions the order to shoot while riding on a horse from barricade to barricade, or even sink enemy frigates as a captain of your own ship.
Aside the main story line, there is a ton to discover in the world of Assassin's Creed. The developers provide an endless number of side quests, challenges, mini games, and of course sky high viewpoints.
There are Naval Missions, which send you out on the ocean to sink hostile ships. Delivery Request require you to gather materials like hides for NPCs, you are able to lower the Templar's influence in the cities Boston and New York via Liberation Missions, and you can even enlarge your own estate by doing Homestead Missions.
Grown-up Connor Corner killing a Guard.
As soon as the game puts you into Connors shoes, you learn the ability to hunt, which lets you skin and eviscerate animals to get hides or teeth. There are also so called "Challenges" in the game, small achievement-like features that, for example, require you to perform 10 leaps of faith or kill a certain amount of bears.
Especially the homestead quests are very good, they always tell little stories about the people living on your estate and helps you to develop a deeper bonding to them.
Additionally, it is possible again to recruit new Assassins. At the touch of a button, you can order them to assassinate a target or to riot, making it easier for you to find cover.
To spare yourself unnecessary walking time, you can use the fast travel function of this game, which you can also use in cities after discovering hidden underground exits. Naturally, you can also call your personal horse again by using a whistle and use it to travel through the landscape. The sad thing about these little ponies is that they get stuck at the tiniest obstacles, which makes riding through forests almost an impossible task.


Counter to win!

 

The Animus Database contains all the important and unimportant Data you collect, the DNA Tracker serves as a Quest log in which you can replay already mastered missions at any given time,.and there is even a Training Center to refine your Assassination skills.
Who is unfamiliar with the controls gets to play a small tutorial at the beginning of the game, people who already played the former Assassin's Creed games should feel comfortable with the controls from the get go. A Game pad is still recommended, since these type of games tend to make your fingers hurt badly if you try to play them with a keyboard. Altogether, the controls of AC3 are, as usual in this series, magnificent. You can climb the highest viewpoint without great effort, and the fights are easy to manage due to the long-known counter mechanics, which sadly makes them very unchallenging most of the time. Generally, especially if you want to achieve 100% synchronisation, you have to be prepared for a lot of try and error, because it is  the only way to figure out the right approach most of the time.Also the fact that a few checkpoints are too distant from each other doesn't make things better.On the contrary, there are also missions where you can just slaughter your way through your enemies without caring about discretion at all, which makes the difficulty level fluctuate from time to time.


Connor, trying to get to cover while running across a battlefield.

Stale, but fitting graphics

 

The well staged and with Motion Capturing animated fights as well as the detailed, with viewpoints spiked cities of Boston and New York are definitely the graphical highlights. Even if the graphics look a bit stale and the faces a bit wooden from time to time, the visual style fits very well into the overall tone of the game. Atmospheric music and consistent backing vocal round off the acoustic and visual experience.

With about 20-30 hours of play, to which you can add at least another 15 if you try to discover every little secret and master all of the side quests plus the 100% sync, this game offers you a ton of playtime and fun for your money. especially if you compare it's terrific staged plot to genre competitors like GTA 4.

Resume:

Even though there are a few flaws in it, Assassin's Creed 3 is a first-class game. The new setting in the 18th century really helps to refresh the series, the plot surrounding Ezio was strained a lot in the last 3 titles, and it is a pleasure to finally discover the characters of new protagonists.
The schemes and twists of the story fascinate, although it loses some tension in the mid part, and tends to be a bit confusing every now and then. Because of the sheer number of side quests and secrets you are able to discover, the game offers a lot of variation in between the main plot. The only thing about the story missions that annoys are the sequences outside of the animus, but thank god there are not too many of these.
Assassin's Creed 3 is definitely a must-buy for veterans of the series, especially for the ones craving for innovation plot wise, as well as for Action- Adventure fans in general.


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Max Payne 3 Review

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So, to give you a little background check on Mr. Max Payne: His wife and daughter were murdered by contract killers, his best friend, boss, mistress and pretty much everyone he knew died during the plot of the first two games. I guess you can say he was kind of forced into being an alcoholic and taking drugs, and that’s what he does in the third sequel. Drinking, drinking, drinking, Max is pretty much the whole game long either drunk or stoned, until he finds out that dodging bullets and shooting dozens of enemies is easier WITHOUT a headache. 

After Max defeated his former friend Vladimir Lem in the conclusion of the second title, he silently suffers while drinking himself to death in a bar, where he gets picked up by his former police academy acquaintance, Raul Passos,  to work as a private security guard in brazil. Initially Max resists, but after he shoots the son of the local mafia boss and is wanted dead by every single criminal existence in the whole city, Sao Paulo doesn’t seem that unattractive to him anymore. 

In brazil, our drunken protagonist and his friend are hired to protect the wealthy Branco family, in which they horribly fail when Fabiana, the wife of one of the family members, is abducted by hostiles during a party. Driven by rage, guilt and sense of duty, Max and Passos try to get Fabiana back, shooting their way through countless drug dealers, local criminals, paramilitaries and even policemen, just to discover a gigantic conspiracy in the end.

The gameplay in Max Payne 3 is very much the same as it was in the other titles, you can fill up your bullettime meter while dealing damage, taking damage or getting shot at while hiding behind cover. As soon as the bar is high enough, you can activate bullettime and kill as many opponents as possible in slow motion, until the bar is empty again.


 If you "die" (and  trust me that will happen A TON),you can use a painkiller to enter a little minigame, in which bullet time automatically activates and you have to shoot the guy that mortally wounded you. If you are able to kill him, you will  recover from your wounds and heal up a little bit.This actually sounds pretty overpowered, but is highly necessary since you are always fighting against huge numbers of enemies, and your enemies can actually one-shot you if  you aren't careful and they hit your head.


Resume:
I Max Payne's deep, melancholic character. His dark humor and cynical view of things carries almost the whole game for me, combined with great action sequences and phenomenal cut scenes, this game is made for people that love a movie-like staging.
Obviously cutscenes have the flaw of pulling the player out of the action and making him watch what happens without the ability do act himself, but i personally view a game like Max Payne as a Movie, and the fact that you can actually control Max yourself from time to time and shoot hordes of opponents with him is a bonus, it makes this game a film-to-play, exactly what i like the most.
 For me, if I play a singleplayer campaign, I almost entirely care about the story and the characters,   Max’s well written character and the feeling to be inside a blockbuster  always motivates you to keep playing  further and further. So, if you enjoy  story-driven, movie-like first-person shooters, this game is definetely for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for an open world game with lots of sidequests and collectibles, you would waste your time and money by buying this game.


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