How valuable is “The Red Badge of Courage”? What about “Blue Suede Shoes” or the “Mona Lisa”? “Civilization V: Brand New World” lets players explore their cultural side by increasing the benefits and work into building a civilization that defeats players with ideals rather than bullets and arrows.
While cultural victory has been an option, the new gameplay puts an emphasis on a new resource – tourism – to expand your influence over others. Accumulate more tourism and you win, but it will take a bit of work.
Think of tourism as your offense and your culture as your defense. Tourism influences how other civilizations see you and want to come to your cities. Great works of art, writing and music can be created and housed in special buildings to increase your draw from others.
Great Artists, Writers, and Musicians create great works known throughout history. Each one, when appropriately displayed, raises your tourism level and inches you closer to victory. New conditions and social policies help create these prized units faster – almost too fast.
Several times during my preview play, these units would appear and be ready to help me win. But without the right building to show off their work (i.e. – a museum for art, an opera house for music, or an amphitheater for writing), they merely sat and waited for their “show,” or were expended toward more culture or a Golden Age.
If you are thinking, “Hey, I could already get a Cultural Victory by completing five social policies,” you would be right, but that victory condition no longer exists. Instead of waiting to fill up the social trees in each policy, players can mix and match from all the social policies to better fit their style of play. Also, it appears the restrictions about which policies you could pursue has been dropped – creating the ability to tap into Piety as well as Rationalism.
A new policy, Aesthetics, has been created to boost tourism and culture creation. Some old ones – Freedom, Order, Autocracy – have been grouped together into Ideology. This new area is only triggered by the hitting a certain era or the creation of factories and grants bonuses depending on which ideology your civilization chooses to follow.
There has also been a change to trade with the use of caravans and cargo ship to physically travel to and fro between cities. You can choose (from your limited number of routes) which cities would be most profitable to trade while exposing your trade units to attacks from unfriendly foes. Do you go for the most gold or do you take the safe route?
You can also impact world conditions through resolutions in the World Congress. Each country earns delegates through size, standing and relationships with city-states. The resolutions also can influence your relationships with other civilizations if you propose something that benefits or harms them.
There are also collaborative international projects, like the World’s Fair, where countries can contribute resources to the mutual benefit of all. Once the project is completed, rewards are doled out based on the amount of contribution each county contributed.
Once I thought I understood the nuances of the new cultural victory, it seemed to be an easy path to win. Build the right buildings, create Great units, fill up the buildings, watch the tourists flock in. But nothing is easy in “Civilization V.”
Victory can still be achieved through domination (destroy everyone else), science (launch an Apollo spacecraft), and diplomacy (become the world leader). So not only did I have to do all those things to win culturally, I also had to spend time building up a defensive army, create buildings to boost science, and interact with city-states and other civilizations to keep my opponents at bay.
A religious victory is no longer an option. Religion has become what old culture used to feel like – passive and provides certain bonuses. But you can’t win by overwhelming another civilization with your dogma.
I discovered that cities don’t seem to fall as easily as they used to in the past. Rushing two or three units to an opposing city isn’t as effective, and will force players to plan ahead – thinking more tactically. It can be done, but it feels like it takes more resources than previously.
The adjustments to the cultural victory helped me with what I’ve described as “peacetime boredom.” Late in the game when everyone has built up enough strength to fend off attacks, the action seemed destined for a points victory or a rush to build the Apollo program. With tourism, I felt more active and involved in creating units that would have a direct impact on my success.
Just like creating a new tank to balance out someone else’s bomber, creating tourism lets me flex my cultural strength in an active way rather than the passive path it used to take. I felt more involved in the end game if I decided not to crush all other countries under my heel or commit everything to building my spacecraft.
It opens up options. It creates an interesting way to win without feeling overpowered or tacked on. Like other victory conditions, it takes planning in your building construction, your social policies and your unit creation. The trick, as always, is getting to your end goal before someone taking a different path reaches theirs.
I also have to mention the new expansion comes with a scenario – the American Civil War. It is short – 100 turns – and is all about domination. The end goals are defeat the opposing army and take their capital.
Being a fan of “Sid Meier’s Gettysburg” and Civil War history, I was excited about this scenario when it was announced. Playing it, however, left me feeling empty. As the Union, I marshaled my forces from surrounding cities and plowed my way to Richmond (ala Sherman’s march through the South).
Confederate cities and troops were no match for my massive army, constantly being resupplied with fresh troops from cities in the North. There were some minor skirmishes to the west, but playing those as a zero-sum game allowed me to keep the bulk of my forces focused on the Confederate capital.
While it did take several turns to take Richmond, the scenario felt incomplete somehow. Strategy doesn’t really play into it very much when there is only one goal – capital domination.
A second scenario, Scramble for Africa, is also planned, but was not available during this preview.
“Civilization V: Brave New World” expansion will be available on July 9 in North America and July 12 for the rest of the world. The ESRB rating for this expansion is pending. This preview was done playing an advanced preview only copy of the game on a Windows PC and using a Steam download.
The action and story picks up after the player, Artyom, calls down a massive missile strike on an alien race known as Dark Ones as seen in the previous title, “Metro 2033.” Artyom is a member of the Rangers, and tasked with finding and killing the last remaining alien.
People only survive in the tunnels of the Metro system because the outside world has become poisonous and irradiated from an atomic blast 20 years ago. Mutated creatures dwell inside and outside the confines of the rail system, and pockets of humanity also live in different parts of the Metro.
These survivors have grouped themselves into like-minded ideals. Nazis occupy one area, Communists in another and gangsters in a third. Artyom starts out in the D6 military complex, one of the most well-supplied and safest areas in Moscow. Obviously, this “wealth” is something sought after by the others and Artyom comes in conflict with the Nazis and Reds on his mission to track down the last Dark One.
The game plays out as a first-person shooter in a linear, survival environment. There are also elements of the supernatural at play when Artyom meets up with the Dark Ones.
Obviously since most of the game happens in a tunnel, there is only one way to progress forward in the game. However even during the outside missions, you do not want to wander away from the next target (more on that in a moment) and often times, the landscape will funnel you to the area you need to go.
Supplies are very limited and the coin of the realm is military grade ammunition. That makes for an interesting choice at times because you can use the better ammo for greater damage, but you are literally shooting away your money.
Artyom can carry up to three weapons and four secondary weapons. You will also need a gas mask and filters to be able to survive the areas outside of the Metro. The filters only last a specific amount of time so management and discovery of that resource is extremely important to your success.
This is why wandering around outside is not a good idea because you will run out of breathable air if you decide to go scouting. A compass Artyom carries helps keep you pointed in the right direction.
Gunplay was tactile with each type of gun doing specific damage and reacting in different ways. Some enemies have specific weak points that must be dealt with first before administering the killing blow.
There are also explosives (two types) and throwing knives if bullets aren’t the best way of dispatching your enemies.
Because ammo is a scarcity (yes, I ran out a few times even trying to be careful), stealth then become the preferred method of getting through as much of the levels as possible. Sneaking up and dispatching enemies doesn’t waste valuable ammunition nor does it alert the numerous guards to your location.
You cannot drag a body into the shadows after stealth killing, so where you slay someone becomes just as important as the actual death dealing. The enemy AI isn’t likely to overlook a body in the middle of a room or hallway.
That said, the AI is not particularly good at spotting you in the shadows no matter how close they get to you. In one scene, I slid along a darkened wall to near a workbench where I thought I could pause for a moment while the guards chatted amongst themselves.
Their conversation broke up and one guard started walking directly toward the workbench. Raising my rifle, I was waiting until he cried the alarm before firing. Yet, he just started sharpening his knife at the bench – not noticing me less than a foot away.
I was able to creep back along the wall and get behind him for a stealth kill while remaining within arm’s reach from him at all times. The very limited AI vision into their darkened surroundings made some missions easier than I would have expected.
The second half of the game involves Artyom and the Dark One, who is just a child. Telepathically, you understand the meaning and connection between your character and the Dark Ones. The game starts to get a little mind trippy at this point, but the Dark One’s ability does come in handy later in the game
The child accompanies you and provides help in combat by spotting enemies and offering supplies he finds on the battlefield. As far as I could tell, he never took any kind of damage so it isn’t a protect/escort series of missions.
He also taps into other people’s thoughts and creates some ethical moments that will impact the ending of the game. He is mainly there for support and to help you uncover some very dangerous truths about your enemy’s plans.
There were some technical glitches along the way. Some opponents would freeze in place and couldn’t be hit or damaged. At first, I just ignored them, but then they would unfreeze as I got close to them and attack.
In a few missions in the game, Artyom travels with a companion. More than once, the companion would get stuck in a doorway or passage and not let Artyom get by. This was only fixed by reloading from the previous checkpoint.
This game is rated M for Mature and earns it. Besides the obvious blood and intense violence, there are instances of nudity and sexual content. In a brothel house scene, you can repeatedly pay (with your hard earned ammunition) for a nude dancing girl to perform for you. There is a touching sequence involving Artyom and a different woman who is partially nude.
There is also a side mission where you can rescue a refugee woman who is about to be sexually assaulted. No nudity here, but the dialog is disturbing.
“Metro: Last Light” kept me hooked with the twists and turns of the story, solid combat mechanics and a step into the supernatural. The technical glitches were distracting, but did not diminish my overall enjoyment for the title too much.
**POTENTIAL SPOILER AHEAD**
If I can give you one tip, there is a mission involving a tank. Do not listen to the dialog. It is misleading and will cause you great anguish if you try to do what is being said.
** end tip **
“Metro: Last Light” is available now in North America and the rest of the world on May 17. It can be played on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC. It is rated M for Mature due to blood, intense violence, nudity, sexual content, strong language, and use of drugs and alcohol. This review was done using a provided copy for the Xbox 360.
Gearbox Studios harnesses that game rage and uses it to your advantage with their latest player character addition to “Borderlands 2.” Krieg the Psycho, a psycho raised to the power of crazy, is an insane destructive force to wield, causing harm to everyone around him and even himself.
Developers want to take players out of their comfort zone and play a character they are familiar with as an enemy, but also make them do things they wouldn’t normally do with their avatar. The Psycho skill tree is loaded with abilities that enemy psychos use in the game individually and designed to create maximum carnage in nearly every situation.
For example, there are suicide psychos that will rush your position and explode themselves in an effort to create damage. For Krieg, there is the Hellborn skill tree that is all about intentionally setting YOURSELF on fire, creating bonuses to weapon and melee damage as well as actually reducing the damage Krieg suffers.
There are other abilities which help you set enemies on fire, which in turn can set you on fire, which in turn increases all your buffs again. It is actually a survivability tree because the more you are on fire, the more you are likely to grow stronger and destroy your enemies. Totally backward thinking.
The Bloodlust tree maximizes the damage you do to enemies and creates even more damage to subsequent enemies. Damage increases the amount of bloodlust Krieg has and improves weapons magazine sizes, melee speed and skill abilities.
A trio of abilities in the tree work to improve each other. If you kill something with a bullet, your melee gets better; kill with melee and your grenade gets better; blow someone up with a grenade, your guns get better. If you can get the rhythm right (shoot, melee, explode), your damage continues to increase with each successful kill.
The Mania tree is probably the most counter-intuitive thinking skill tree out of the bunch. You want your shields to be down and you want to take damage as much as possible because when you do, your offensive abilities improve dramatically and your kill rate soars.
There is an ability called “Light the Fuse,” that replaces “Fight For Your Life” and turning you into a suicide psycho when you are about to die. You can run after enemies, blow them up, and then regain all your health back.
Using the main ability – the Buzz Axe Rampage – allows you to regain all your health back while you are in rampage mode. It deals incredible damage, but also has a long cooldown period. However, if you take damage during the cooldown, it reduces the time before you can rampage again. Handy if you are about to die and enemies are swarming you.
All the skills are designed to get players doing things they wouldn’t normally do. Usually, players will run away when close to death and focus on health regeneration. With Krieg, you actually want to wade into the battle to do, and receive, more damage so you become even more powerful and get your health back by blowing other people to pieces.
It’s all about being crazy. Do the thing your enemies least expect for the maximum impact and success. While Krieg is just as good with all weapons, players will find him most effective with close and melee weapons to maximize all his abilities.
If there is one drawback to the character, it is his lack of empathy in the storyline. He doesn’t evoke any connection to the narrative. His dialog, while humorous, doesn’t feel like he belongs with the rest of the world. Krieg doesn’t feel like a Vault Hunter so using him in the main story feels forced.
But if you’ve already completed the main mission and are looking to play outside your comfort zone, Krieg is definitely out of the ordinary. It might take a few missions to wire your brain to run TO trouble instead of away from it, but the “whoa” factor when Krieg attacks is well worth it.
Krieg the Psycho is available now as downloadable add-on content for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.
The company announced in a press release it received $15 million in new funding from venture capitals groups as well as chip maker NVIDIA. The money will be used to help OUYA meet increased demand in advance of its June 25 retail launch and support its growing game development community
The tiny console shaped like a Rubik’s Cube runs on the Google Android system and received $8.6 million from early Kickstarter backers. Founder Julie Uhrman said in a press release that the console now boasts the support of over 12,000 developers who have registered to make games for the OUYA.
“We want OUYA to be here for a long time to come,” said Uhrman. “The message is clear: people want OUYA.
The startup also got some new leadership at the top. Bing Gordon, general partner for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) – one of the investing venture capital groups, will join the company’s board of directors. Gordon was formerly an executive at Electronic Arts before joining KPCB and also serves on the board of directors of Amazon, Klout, Lockerz, and Zynga among others.
“OUYA’s open source platform creates a new world of opportunity for established and emerging independent game creators and gamers alike,” said Gordon. “OUYA will allow game developers to unleash their most creative ideas and satisfy gamers craving a new kind of experience.”
All games for OUYA must be free or free to try, and any developer can create and publish a game for the Android console. Major studios like Square Enix and Double Fine Productions are signed up to make games for OUYA as well as new companies looking to break into the video game business. OUYA is powerful enough to run 3D games in 1080p HD with its NVIDIA Tegra-3 processor, and open enough to invite game developers to bring their most creative inventions to consumers.
The console is shipping now to early backers as part of the preview program. OUYA will be available for retail purchase on June 25 for $99.99 from Amazon, Best Buy, GAME, GameStop and Target, and on OUYA.tv. Retailers are accepting pre-orders now.
The Librom, a deformed journal, recounts the memories of a sorcerer, Magusar, who has taken you prisoner. The idea is to relive what Magusar has gone through in his life in the form of phantom quests to be able to defeat him.
Each quest is an arena-type battle with you and possibly a “friend” (more about that in a moment) taking on waves of monsters. With each successful quest, you learn new skills and your power increases. Indeed, robust customization of your character will let you make them look and act any way you want.
However, it is how life and death are treated in the game that shapes your character.
Players can save or sacrifice each creature they defeat. “Saving” means releasing the demon within and allowing the host to go free. It also increases your life abilities and help to make you harder to kill.
Sacrifice means destroying host and demon, but getting an increase in your powers in exchange. This makes your abilities stronger and more potent.
It isn’t just limited to enemies. Sometimes, you will save your friends to help you continue the fight. Along the way, you can and WILL sacrifice your sidekicks/partners to gain even more powerful skills, which are very effective but also have a lingering cost (i.e. – reduced defense) associated with them - the Black Rite spells.
You can also choose to save or sacrifice yourself during a battle. Saving allows you to heal, while sacrifice turns you into a spirit form that still has some influence over the fight.
Life or death. Save or sacrifice. This is the main choice throughout the game and will shape your character and the story as you progress.
As trite as it might sound, the rest of the game is rather ordinary. The arena battles tend to get a bit repetitive in their look and feel. Even with the ability to customize your attack skills, fights tend to digress into “dodge – attack – dodge – attack” rhythms.
The maps are reused and, while beautifully rendered, don’t offer much in the way of tactics. Battles are fought on the floor of the map and lack any useful or interesting elements.
In between, the Librom is an interesting tool to move from one battle to the other. The book is dark, funny, and definitely well voiced. But the story it tells is painfully slow and plodding.
Sure, you can advance through just to get to the next fight, but I want to know the backstory so I can understand the subtleties of each character I meet. I just don’t want it to be a time suck.
Multiplayer is smooth, but gameplay is pretty much spot on to single player action. I dabbled a bit, but wanted to get back to my own story.
One cool feature lets you take on the Final Boss (Magusar) whenever you think you are ready. When you are prepared, don’t. You really need to spend a lot of time getting even more powerful and skilled than you think you should. He can (and will) wipe the floor with you.
“Soul Sacrifice” has good elements of an RPG (customization, interesting story) with an equal smattering of the bad (repetitive combat, flat level design). It plays very well on the PlayStation Vita handheld console and is best enjoyed in small chunks of time rather than any lengthy session.
But beware talking books that cry. Nobody wants that.
Gearbox Software decided to throw in a wrinkle with their upcoming DLC for “Borderlands 2” by tapping into another genre filled with killing. “Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep” is the fourth and final full content being offered for the game in the style of a table-top RPG adventure.
The premise is Tiny Tina, a teenage girl obsessed with explosives, is your glorious dungeon master… er, Bunker Master as she weaves a tale for some familiar faces while they play a game called Bunkers & Badasses. The DLC is included in the Season Pass or can be purchased alone for just under $10 starting on June 25.
I was able to get a sneak peek at the content and setting during a demo earlier this month. I’ll be sharing more info when permitted. But for now, just imagine “Borderlands 2” in a … well, you know … setting.
2K Marin is going back to the past, specifically 1962, to weave a tale of the first alien invasion in the United States. The world is already tense from US/USSR nuclear relations and the Cold War, and a secret special agency, The Bureau, is formed to keep American interests safe from the Red Menace and retain U.S. power globally.
The player takes on the role of William Carver, an agent with The Bureau known for getting the job done no matter what it takes. With the discovery of aliens and the potential of an alien invasion, Carver and his fellow agents are challenged to adapt.
“The organization that nobody knows about to combat the Russians are now having to switch gears and combat the aliens,” producer Andrew Dutro explained. “The Bureau now turns into an XCOM organization.”
At its core, “The Bureau” is a third-person, squad-based tactical combat game. It is a real-time strategy battle as opposed to a turn-based game, putting the pressure of the clock on all your decisions and moves.
Similar to “XCOM: Enemy Unknown,” it is not a “one man does everything” operation. You go on missions with your 4-person team, work with others in the agency to research alien technology, develop new weapons and combat the alien incursion.
“You’re going to need coordinated tactics, squad-based tactics for any chance of success or you’re going to die,” creative director Morgan Gray said. “We have an interface called Battle Focus, which will give you real-time control of your squad mates.”
Expect to see familiar alien faces if you’ve played “Enemy Unknown,” but in a different context than before. There are also new additions to the enemy ranks in order to mix things up for the player.
Agents in The Bureau rank up and abilities increase the more you use them successfully. However, fail to use them properly and there are lasting consequences. Permanent death awaits those who fall in battle with no chance to revive them.
If battling aliens wasn’t enough, you also have to take on history itself. The U.S. population and the world cannot know about the aliens or how The Bureau battled the alien menace.
“(Players) are also going to be part of the greatest conspiracy known throughout the U.S. government, which will be the covering up of this organization,” Gray said. “The world in 1962 cannot know how close we came to defeat at the hands of the aliens.”
Gray said getting the tone of the early 1960s and including the dark humor known in the “XCOM” franchise was tough.
“The juxtaposition of the 60s world in which we start in which is real, not fake, true history and then effectively creating a new alternate history both as we know it for our own planet and America, and XCOM’s history,” Gray said. “Straddling that line – it’s a lot of mouths to feed creatively.”
The game will be available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC in North America on August 20. It will be released internationally on August 23.
Also, there is no multi-player option. Gray said they really wanted to concentrate on the story and the action, and didn’t want to tack on something they didn’t feel was good enough for “The Bureau.”
“Defiance” has become a game that even though I’ve done all I want to do in the open world, I keep coming back to do it again because it is so enjoyable. That said, there are times when the online shooter is afflicted with some of the problems that plague online games.
You are an ark hunter on Earth in the year 2046. Think scoundrel, fixer-upper, gopher and general guy-who-gets-everything-done and you are on the right track. You start out as part of a mission to basically save the world when the aircraft you’re on crashes in the San Francisco bay area.
The region has become a twisted environment of old buildings, new flora and creatures and pockets of human and alien settlements. Because this is a shooter, you are expected to and will gun your way through a variety of missions.
Besides the main story mission that has plenty of twists, turns and challenges, there are also episode missions and side missions to give your character additional opportunities to grow. Because the game is tied into the SyFy weekly series of the same name, you get to interact with the show’s two main characters in your episode mission and get more background on the show itself.
Much of the mission work is typical questing type adventuring. Defeat this bad guy, collect this relic, defend this area. But because this is an online game, there are plenty of opportunities to work with other players to make the jobs easier and more tactical.
It is more incidental co-op play than anything organized unless players join up together to form clans. But there is nothing that prevents a player from clan hopping and no player-vs-player action outside of specifically designed areas.
If you want more than missions, there are also time trial challenges and areas called hotshots and rampage. Those areas are all about killing as much as you can within time or ammunition restrictions to gain the highest score.
And if that isn’t enough, there are random scenarios scattered throughout the area – rescuing farmers, fighting off hellbugs, defeating mutant soldiers. There is quite a lot to do in the game, and that doesn’t even include the four-player co-op maps, the competitive maps and Shadow Wars.
Shadow Wars maps are massive team against team battles where each side tries to take over and control different points on the map. It is total mayhem at its best because the battle takes place on the main map and non-combatants can and do wander into the field of play.
Arkfall instances are similar but cooperative in nature against a series of massive foes. Anyone can participate and some of the best battles occur with dozens of players trying to take down a hellbug matron. The rewards are also pretty awesome as well as loot is scattered across the battlefield for anyone to gather.
There is a bit of RPG leveling in “Defiance” as your character gains points towards Ego powers. Ego is a sentient AI bound to your character that can bestow different basic powers like Blur, Cloak, Overcharge and Decoy. You can earn additional powers that branch off from those four that increase your combat abilities or personal statistics.
You can also level your weapons the more you use them. Quite a bit of variety available, but you can only use two at a time. You can carry more in your inventory, but switching from those two to something else in the middle of a battle could be dicey. Modding is also available for most weapons and let you add barrel, stock, or targeting mods to improve your guns even more.
All of this is why I love “Defiance.” So much to do, so much variety and the promise of additional content make this online shooter quite a lot of fun to play.
While Trion has been doing their best to plug the holes with patches, problems still exist in the world. Four-player co-op maps that are completely empty of friends or foe, and missing event triggers that leave players standing around wondering what to do next still happen far too often.
Server disconnects in the middle of instances aren’t as frequent as they were when the game launched, but can and do occur. But I will say many of the graphical glitches from the launch have been cleaned up and the environments behave better.
Is it frustrating? You bet. Normally, I would have popped this from the console (oh, yes. This is a console online shooter.) and moved on without a backward glance.
But the content and the action continually pull me back in. I’ve already finished the main story mission and am now doing it again just because it was fun. The co-op missions are a blast and the Shadow Wars are insane.
I’m hoping the new content comes sooner rather than later. For their part, Trion has said they will continue to work out the bugs, provide new storylines and improve the missions.
It is a living, breathing world and every glitch will probably not get fixed. But there is plenty of enjoyment to be had with “Defiance” and I, for one, am going back in.
“Defiance” is available now for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC. It is rated M for Mature due to blood, drug references, sexual themes, strong language, and violence. This review was done with a provide retail copy for the Xbox 360.
The announcement by Satoru Iwata, president and CEO of Nintendo and Nintendo of America (NOA), that the company was not going to have a keynote event at this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) was met with confusion, derision, and a sense that Nintendo was making yet another PR misstep.
Having launched the Wii U last fall and with reports that new third-party titles are coming out soon, it didn’t seem like Nintendo would have any major announcements to highlight their keynote. Sony and Microsoft are expected to dominate the E3 landscape with their next-gen press conferences so this move by Nintendo may be more of a breather maneuver than miscalculation.
This isn’t to say that Nintendo is not going to be at E3 completely. A statement from Charlie Scibetta, senior director of corporate communications for NOA, released early Thursday indicated the company plans on hosting two smaller events on Tuesday morning, June 11. They also plan on having a booth inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, home of the E3 event.
The statement in full from Scibetta:
“As you’ve already seen, a lot of news about Nintendo games and services that traditionally would be held until E3 is being delivered this year through Nintendo Directs, and various press events. This approach will continue between now and E3. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll be fully informed. We look forward to continuing to provide you with Nintendo news and content in ways you haven’t before experienced.
Beyond the news that will be communicated through Nintendo Direct videos in the run up to E3, at the show itself we’re hosting two smaller events on Tuesday morning before the LACC opens instead of just our traditional one event. A media event and a partner presentation will both occur that morning. While the audiences will be different between the two events, both will occur on the Tuesday morning of E3 (June 11) which is the date and time period the public has come to expect for Nintendo to deliver E3 news.
At the Nokia Theater, we’ll meet with business partners (retailers, publishers, analysts, etc.) from the NOA territory and discuss our plans for driving the business and providing tailored information that this group finds useful to their operations. Nintendo has done these same types of business meetings at past E3 shows, but has not in the past few years. This year we are returning to that business partner meeting format.
New this year at our booth in the LACC, prior to the show opening, we’ll invite a small group of media to play our games. We will have a strong line-up of beloved franchise experiences available for immediate hands-on play.
We are continuing to consider exciting new ways to bring the news of our games and information directly to the players at home during the E3 timeframe, and will have more to say about that at a later date.”
Personally, I think this is a smart move given where the company is right now and what E3 is going to be about this year. Nintendo saves a lot of money by not doing a big presentation, but still has the mechanisms in place to get their good word out to the press.
With the next-gen consoles and titles likely to garner the lion’s share of the attention, it makes sense for Nintendo to do a little stealth marketing at this point. Well, as stealthy as Nintendo could possibly be.
Striving to be more than just a fighting game, “Injustice: Gods Among Us” does a fantastic job of providing the brawling sensation that fans of the genre crave while weaving a wonderful story for those who want to do more than bruise their knuckles.
NetherRealm Studios did more than just take their “Mortal Kombat” template and slap some DC Comics icons on it. They integrated the individual powers of each hero/villain and shaped them into moves that feel organic for each character.
There are no “fatalities” so if you think Batman is going to rip the spine out of Sinestro, think again. However, combos and multi-move attacks found in most traditional fighting games will keep players interested with their new moves, especially the big power moves for massive damage.
Confession: I’m not a fighting genre player. I find trying to remember or master all the different joystick gyrations and button mashing to be boring. It seems like grinding to me and that’s not a style I like.
That said, I couldn’t stop playing the single player story because the action and the narrative were so enthralling. If you’ve been reading the “Injustice” comic book series, you know the details of the backstory. But it isn’t necessary to have read the comic to play the game. You’ll get caught up very quickly.
The joint efforts of the DC Comics and NetherRealms writers produced a dark tale set 5 years into the future in a parallel world. Alternate Superman, racked by guilt over the death of his wife and unborn son, and the destruction of Metropolis, decides mankind needs someone who will protect them at all times and at any cost.
This grand vision goes horribly awry as individual freedoms are stripped in the name of order and Superman. Metahumans either join Superman in his quest or die by his hand. He is a world dictator in the truest sense with the power to quash any dissent.
Except for one. Batman.
The alternate Batman has a plan to end Superman’s rule, but needs the heroes of “our” world to do it. Aquaman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman are pulled to this alternate world through a temporal tunnel. Batman and Joker also get caught up in the tunnel and shuttled over as well.
The game starts here, as “our” heroes do battle against the alternate heroes and villains who have joined Superman’s side. This results in Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Aquaman facing off against their dopplegangers.
The cast is deep and rich. Heroes like Flash and Shazam are working side by side against Solomon Grundy and Bane. Nightwing is here, but not the Nightwing you think, and Deathstroke works with you while still serving his own purposes. Little twists and turns lurk around every corner and that’s what makes the game and story so interesting.
The battles are still there and still fun. They have meaning in the greater context of the story and act as glue for the different chapters in the narrative.
And the dialog is a great mix of snappy wit and foreboding doom. Joker and Green Arrow have some of the best lines in the story, each portraying the proper feel for their character without seeming too over-the-top.
GA, often known for his constant string of one-liners, battles with Killer Frost when she asks him if he ever shuts up. “Every other Tuesday,” he says while firing off an arrow.
Joker maintains his maniacal, yet calculating, way of saying the absolute wrong thing at the right comedic moment. His moments with Harley Quinn and the alternate Harleen Quinn are tender and sadistic in all the right Joker ways.
It’s this blend of stellar story with the combat action that will draw more than just the fighting fan to this game. The God-power moves are unique to each character and fit within their DC lore. They will also make you wince when they are pulled off because they are so devastating.
Environments are given the DC touch as well. From Wayne Manor to the WatchTower to Arkham Asylum, different elements within each can be used during combat to bash, blow up or even warp your opponent into a new arena.
My only complaint about the single player story is that it is short – about 5 to 7 hours. For someone who isn’t a fighting game fan, this may not be enough. But there are other modes to explore that can increase your enjoyment of the game.
Battle mode allows you to take a character and run them through a gauntlet of eight foes. You can customize the fights by taking on all heroes, all villains, a mix between them, no regeneration of health between battles and so on.
STAR Labs mode lets you go on missions with characters while trying to achieve specific battle goals. Players gain stars (why is it always stars?) when completing certain objectives during each battle. Hitting combos, finishing without taking damage, not using certain abilities – these all offer challenges with a small blend of a narrative throughout.
Is this for the competitive fighting crowd? Maybe, but I’ve never ventured into that area. It does have all the hallmarks of a “Mortal Kombat” fighting style with more comic book flair.
Is this for the comic book fan looking for a good video game to tie together their entertainment? I’d say yes. They stay true to the DC lore in spite of the alternate world setting (Earth 1A?) and the story flows very nicely from the comic book series.
“Injustice: Gods Among Us” isn’t a “Mortal Kombat” game dressed up in superhero costumes. It is a great blend of fighting game action while still providing comic book-style fun, story and entertainment – one which I thoroughly enjoyed.
“Injustice: Gods Among Us” is available now in North America and Australia. It will be available in Europe on April 19 and in Japan on June 9. It can be played on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. There is also a companion iOS version that offers different game play. The game is rated T for Teens due to blood, language, suggestive themes, and violence. This review was completed using a provided copy for the PS3.