There's no other way to put it - they want to completely tie down the game disc so it'll never play on any other console. No secondhand sales, no gifting it to a relative or friend once you finish it, nothing.
Third quickie... I know what you're thinking. Not another movie-franchise game, right? Well, of course Activision had to put out something for the Spidey franchise, they are the home for all games Marvel these days. And in keeping with game trends, they instructed the programmers to make a game that felt, gameplay-wise, a lot more like the recent Batman games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City than a Spider-man game.
Unfortunately, that's not a good way to start off. There are a lot of things to be said for this game; lots of collectables, lots of mobility, and a decent chance to explore Manhattan. Unfortunately, web-slinging doesn't feel quite right, and it's quite possible that every game since Spider-Man 2 has been a step back in this regard. Activision also chose to make this one a sequel to the movie, rather than a "play the movie" game, so there's that to contend with; they've left out most of Spidey's A-list villains and focused more on the cheesy, lesser known ones for this storyline - I mean why have Kraven the Hunter, Lizard, or Doc Ock when you can go toe to toe with the Rhino or the Iguana? (Yes, that's right, that lame Lizard ripoff villain is actually in this game for some reason I can't fathom.)
So... to combat. Punch, block, dodge/jump, and special buttons. Special button lobs web fluid or goes into special combo moves, pretty standard stuff; build up enough punch combo, and Spidey can go into a sort of freeform mode to unleash some crazier attacks and combos. It works really well for Batman; it's just never been the Spidey style. Spidey was never a brawler or a boxer, he's much more suited to dancing around all over the place, hitting an enemy from all sides at once, waiting for that perfect moment to strike from a distance.
Graphically? I'm not entirely sure they didn't do this one on the cheap. The models are a bit less defined than I'd expect, textures not entirely high-res. Maybe I'm jaded, or maybe they decided to lean off on the production cost a bit.
Are there cool things and fun things in this game? Heck yes. Web-slinging's still fun, even if not as fun as older titles in the series. Slinging around as Stan (The Man) Lee? A joy.
Unfortunately, the side mission stuff gets a bit old after a while, but every game with repetitive "random" content gets that way. Stopping robberies, returning escaped patients to the police... eh. Every time it's the same voiceover lines and animations, so it will get old eventually.
Worth picking up? I'm ambivalent. Give it a try first, rent it and see if you like it - or if your kid does.
Time for Quickie 2 this month! Right down to it: we're into Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
This is one of those "every other year" titles where Activision busts out the Transformers license, and throws them into a basically Call-Of-Duty style online game with a teaser of a campaign mode thrown in. Back when I saw the last one, War For Cybertron, I was not quite impressed with the gameplay; most of the Transformers didn't really move, or feel, like they should.
This time it's a bit closer, but it's still not quite there. There's bare-bones motion and transformation, some special moves, but most of the campaign gameplay devolves into somehow surviving waves of enemies over and over again, trying to reach the next save point or plot device. There's even a mode devoted to learning how to do it, called "survival mode."
The special moves - especially Optimus, being able to take control of Metroplex for a while - are darned cool. But the gameplay doesn't really focus on them, and I'm not sure why. It also makes players spend a lot of time in robot form, leaving the vehicle forms very secondary.
For those wanting to play with friends, sadly, the cooperative campaign mode is also gone. I'm not sure why this is, because that was one of the better aspects of War for Cybertron. Maybe someone on the programming team didn't like it, or maybe they just couldn't get it through bug testing to meet deadline... either way, it's a definite loss to the franchise.
It's a shame, because the storyline - especially the Decepticons, always at each other's throats and working at their own cross purposes - is what most players are really after for this one. What happened on Cybertron before the Autobots jumped into the Ark and abandoned the planet? How did the battles go? Who participated? It's like someone made a really cool game for the kids of the mid-1980s... and wholly forgot they are now in their '30s and need more solid gameplay.
Grab it if you were a fan of War For Cybertron, rent it for the weekend storyline play otherwise.
First up on my agenda: Prototype 2. Way back when, I reviewed the original - the big thing with this series (it's a series now, right?) being that it was Activision taking the engine they'd built for the Spider-Man games and making their own property with it. At the time, I considered it kind of a hedge, so they'd have something to keep making if Marvel went another direction.
All that still holds, but moreover, Prototype 2 both improves upon the original and leaves a lot to be desired. Though the story's essentially about a father doing everything he can to rescue his daughter, there are too many throwaway characters brought into the game; too many "well that would be interesting, oops he got eaten" moments. Betrayals aren't really all that shocking when they're expected; the loss of characters not much of a loss when characters aren't sympathetic. The biggest issue I had was that over and over again, the whole "who's the bad guy" question kept changing. Sure, James Heller was always out to kill someone - but sometimes it's a faceless corporation, sometimes it's a Blackwatch commander, sometimes it's a bunch of scientists, sometimes it's Alex Mercer, the first game's protagonist. And really, what they did with Mercer is itself kind of a letdown.
In terms of gameplay, I'll say they got it 90% right. Gone is the "web of intrigue" system, hunting down people for story points... which was fun enough, but got boring after a while, especially since it basically required a Game+ playthrough to finish. On the other hand, with it gone, a Game+ playthrough really doesn't have much to offer.
Combat and controls? Tightened, improved, and there's definitely a lot more player advancement and a lot less grinding. Tying skills and powers advancement to short sidequests was a brilliant move, because it means most players can enjoy the game with defined objectives throughout rather than having to rely on running around killing small enemies for tiny shreds of XP in order to be powerful enough to continue in the story. So good on Activision from that side.
Worth picking up? Well, if you're a completionist, or you can find it on something of a discount, sure. For many players, it's probably one to be rented.
In the old world of emulation, a moment of shine - PCSX2, a Playstation2 emulator with some pretty impressive features, has hit version 1.0.
It can offer up graphics beyond what the original hardware was capable of, achieving resolutions up to 4096 x 4096 with anti-aliasing and texture filtering. You can save games, record video as you play, use a range of controllers, and even adjust game speed if you so wish.
Of course, youíll need a fast machine to run PS2 games at a decent speed, but the spec is still reasonable. Itís recommended you have at least a Core 2 Duo running at 3.2GHz, or a Core i5 at 2.66GHz+. As for graphics cards, a GeForce 9600GT or Radeon 4750 is desirable.
Ok, so it needs some beefy hardware. You don't have to push those graphical niceties to the max, though.
So I've finally had the chance to sit down and try out Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Let me tell you, wrapping my head round this one isn't easy.
For starters, the movie was... better than either of the first two had given it hope to be. But at the end of the day, it was yet another Michael Bay flick, and that meant way too much focus on humans and way too little focus on the real characters of the story: the Autobots and Decepticons. And it is also still way, way too difficult to tell the damn Decepticons apart from each other.
When you can't tell your primary antagonists apart, and are constantly confused as to whether that's Shockwave, or Starscream, or Megatron... bad.
As for the game, the control system's definitely a step up from previous ones. Robot form, Vehicle, and the "third form" of a "stealth mode" (basically, vehicle with sideslip capabilities and bristling with weapons). It's not a bad thing, and definitely not harmful to the game's interests, but... this one just can't hold up to what it needs to do.
Most of the time, you're stuck with blasting guns at range. Want a melee attack? That'll burn your character's "special attack" and needs a recharge meter before it's available again, or if you're Mirage, then you'll just cloak out and have no melee options at all, except for the section where that's all they will give him. The rest of the time, you can run up to enemy Decepticons and blast them with one of two selectable weapons, but god forbid you just want to punch them. In full vehicle mode, no combat abilities at all. In hybrid "stealth mode", you've got your most powerful punch... which pretty much made me wonder after a while why anyone would even use the robot mode, given that "stealth mode" was just as maneuverable and packed a bigger punch and better armor.
In terms of level design, you're basically looking at a corridor simulator, with the occasional set of roof jumps to navigate. Jump into vehicle mode, run down the "street", pause to shift into stealth mode to blast faceless enemy mooks, run down the "street" to the next waypoint... let's face it, these levels are just downright BORING.
To make things worse, Dark of the Moon offers up the same problem War for Cybertron had, shifting the movie-prologue storyline back and forth between Autobots and Decepticons. As Autobots, you spend a lot of time blasting faceless Decepticon mooks. As Decepticons, you spend a lot of time blasting faceless Autobot mooks. The same goes for the online campaign, which is basically a re-tread of the Call-Of-Duty-With-Robots nonsense that was The War For Cybertron: barely good for a few hours before most players will probably give up on it.
With Dark of the Moon, Activision had a real chance here. They had an actual story that could have spanned a number of different eras of Transformers lore. They had a movie storyline that could have been really turned into something unique. Instead, what they shipped out for unwary consumers was yet another entry in the same barely-action game genre that's been eating away at the Transformers license for years.
The verdict: leave this one on the shelves, unless it's going into your never-been-opened-but-100%-complete Transformers merchandise collection right next to the Unicron halloween mask.
Those long hours of practice paid off, as Lucas won the competition ? and the opportunity to take part in a real-world race, the Dubai 24 Hours. His run of good luck (and impressive skillz) continued ? Nissan bigwigs noticed the gamer and decided to offer him another racing opportunity ? not only a place on the grid for the the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, but also a start at this year?s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Congratulations. Maybe this'll get more people thinking about games as a serious way to train skills.
Sony says the hacking of their various servers will cost them $170 Million on this year's balance sheet.
Probably that doesn't cover the restitution to PS3 owners and the loss of goodwill by the customer base.
Sony said it made the announcement because it expects to record a net loss of ?260 billion for the financial year just ended due to charges associated with U.S. GAAP (generally accepted accounting practices) rules.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami occurred just three weeks before the end of the financial year and didn't have a large impact on the company's global financial performance for the year, but it did push Sony's Japanese operations into a loss.
Those Japanese operations had lost money the previous two years but Sony, anticipating a profit in the year just ended, had recorded tax credits it intended to carry forward. However, GAAP rules say tax credits cannot be recorded for three years in a row, so Sony is recording a non-cash charge for the credits it had taken.