When you get to the end of a trilogy, a few things can be expected – a final meeting with the ultimate villain or menace, introduction of a new element to keep things fresh, and a feeling of resolution at the end – all with the idea of immersing the player one more time in the game’s universe. “Crysis 3” closes out their trilogy by not drawing in players, but keeping them at a distance and leaving them with a feeling of confusion.
The latest first person shooter from Electronic Arts and Crytek follows the exploits of Prophet, a soldier who is part man and part machine due to the Cryosuit he wears and seems confused about what’s going on in the world. New York is now overrun by vegetation, under an energy dome and the CELL Corporation runs everything. He hooks up with an old friend of his who gets him back up to speed and on task.
Prophet realizes Alpha Ceph, the leader of an alien hive mind race bent on assimilating Earth and responsible for the Cryosuit’s tech, is somewhere out there and still working on destroying life on the planet. While trying to defeat CELL and restore freedom to oppressed people (who are remarkably absent for New York City), the Alpha Ceph is released and contacts its homeworld to begin the full-scale invasion.
Player will have access to 28 different weapons, but the Predator Bow is new to the game. The bow has very limited ammunition – nine normal arrows and three sets of three trick arrows, so accuracy is key. In that vein, cover and use of the Cryosuit’s cloaking technology are heavily relied on to get through the game.
For my style of play, the stealth elements were perfect. I enjoy sneaking around, using my wits and outthinking the battlefield. However, after a while, I discovered I could get through an entire mission without firing a shot just by utilizing effective cover and the stealth mode. I didn’t try to do it; it just happened, and made me sit back and wonder if I had missed something.
The heads-up display on the suit’s visor made it easy to spot and tag enemies from a distance and through obstacles. This decreased the likelihood of accidentally walking around a corner to find an enemy squad in waiting. It also meant I could go quite some time before having to actually interact with anything on the screen.
Even when I decided to battle, the bow made the combat enjoyable, but also mystifying. I was taking my time, picking out my targets from a distance and shooting to kill (92.8% accuracy). But once everything was dead or destroyed, it was a simple matter to walk up to the mission goal and complete it, creating a bit of a disconnect in my experience.
Could I have armed myself with one of the more traditional guns and tried to blast my way through waves of enemies? Sure, but why turn the game into a typical shooter when there are other options to explore and even apparently preferred? A friend whose style I would describe as “bull in a china shop” said he made it through the game in about 4.5 hours. I can’t believe blasting everything in sight was how developers planned for the game to progress.
Even the main character Prophet seemed detached throughout most of the game. Much of the emotions in the interactions came from the characters around him, rather than Prophet himself. Was that part of his humanity being absorbed by the alien tech in the cryosuit? Because Prophet was so unique, did the developers purposefully keep him from integrating with the other people to symbolize how alone he truly was? Only when everyone else was dead or missing did we get to experience emotion from the character, but by then, it almost seemed like a temper tantrum rather than something organic.
The ending also offered a mixed bag of intensity and separation. Of course, Prophet faces off against the big bad guy at the end and it was an exciting battle of strategy, strength and accuracy. Too many games these days use quick time events to get the story to an end rather than creating a feeling of accomplishment by the player. This felt good, fun, enjoyable… and yet…
There were a couple more scenes after the big battle that left me unfulfilled. I keep reflecting back on the denouement and wondering what really happened. A trilogy should not leave the player wondering if he’s alive, dead, in the future, dreaming, etc. There was no ultimate feeling of accomplishment at the end, but apparently lets the player interpret the final scene whatever way they want – or even if they can.
Eleven different multiplayer are where you can flex your bullet flinging urges, but even there, the new Hunter mode utilizes the bow in a really cool way. It isn’t a matter of if you are going to die, but how quickly. Teams of CELL soldiers face off against cloaked Hunters who are trying to pick them off. Once killed by a Hunter, the player rejoins the game, but this time as a Hunter. This decreases your odd of survival but heightens the tension and fun.
Much of what’s in and new about “Crysis 3” portrays distance. Whether it is the new Predator Bow, which allow you to kill from great distances, and the heavy use of the Cloak to avoid enemies completely, or the emotional distance from Prophet and the strange conclusion, they all come into conflict with a game that technically is enjoyable, but emotionally adrift.
“Crysis 3” is available now in North America, February 21 in Australia and Europe, February 22 in the United Kingdom, and March 7 in Japan. It can be played on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or Windows PC. The title is rated M for Mature due to blood, strong language, and violence. This article was done with a provided copy of the Hunter Edition for the Xbox 360. Multiplayer was done with PR personnel and QA people from Crytek.
“Dead Space 3” introduces new monsters, a crafting system for weapons and supplies and a co-op feature, but loses some of what made the franchise great – intense horror.
Isaac Clarke returns as the reluctant hero in a quest that starts out personal but quickly falls into chasing the Markers, those alien monoliths that are able to turn humans into necromorphs. Isaac is still tortured by the memories from the first two installments of the franchise and is called upon to use his knowledge to prevent the destruction of humanity.
If you never played the first two, never fear. A movie at the beginning helps tells the backstory and bring players up to speed. However, it would be better if you take the time to grab the others and give them a shot before diving into this one.
It is the year 2314. Earth is in turmoil and an alien presence is making its mark on the people. A religion worshiping the Markers as key to the next evolutionary step of humans takes over and tries to set the planet on a path of rebirth.
Issac is called in to find his ex-girlfriend and ends up dealing with the movement in brand new environments. Beginning missions happen in space and involve moving from ship to ship during the story. Having Issac move through space gives players the feeling of openness, choice and lonliness. When the action moves planetside, that feeling is intensified by the backwater ice planet where most of the action occurs.
Tau Volantis is literally a frozen wasteland trapped in time. Blowing snowdrifts, rocky cliffs and twisty paths hide enemies well and do give a sense of tension when you can’t see what’s coming. The locator, a piece of tech that keeps you on the story path, was helpful when branching caverns had me going in circles.
New enemies lurk on and in the ice ball. Some of the familiar necromorphs return, but new hideous creations are ready to pounce and rip Isaac apart. Much like their previous incarnations, you are never really quite sure if they’re dead until you stomp them into goo.
Do stomp them like you are dancing. While many aliens will drop loot after being shot, some are still hiding ammo or components within their shells and you can only find it by beating a dead corpse. Yes, there is a lot of loot to be found, but you’ll use it along the way to stay alive and also craft new weapons and supplies.
The crafting element is new, but doesn’t really feel enjoyable. The idea is to collect components as you go, build weapons from the ground up, then augment them with new, deadly components. Don’t want to design your own? Blueprints will help you get basic and advanced weaponry without mixing and matching components.
Once I obtained a gun I was happy with, crafting really became an afterthought. Although I did upgrade damage, rate of fire, clip size and reload ability, I never did any more tweaking to them. Components were used to max out my armor’s capabilities, and create health and ammo packs. For most of the game, I only visited the workbench to dump off items I didn’t want to carry anymore. Just didn’t feel the need or desire to build a weapon for building’s sake.
The action is intense and satisfying. Waves of enemies try to overrun your position and it always seems like there was one or two monsters lurking behind you. Dead necromorphs explode into a shower of limbs and ichor. Like the previous games, shooting off the limbs works much faster than blasting away at their bodies.
Big boss monsters are also on tap and one particular battle was gross and funny. I don’t know if it was meant to be that way, but I was laughing through parts of that mission.
Optional missions offer new challenges and new loot packs. They are nice diversions to the main story, yet feel like they are a part of the overall success. Text and audio logs found along the way also do a nice job of filling in the blanks in the story and help players understand what is happens and why.
Isaac gets some help this time in the form of a co-op player, John Carver. Carver is a drop-in/drop-out character that a second player can control, but is also around during the solo adventure. He has his own story, background and motivations, but those can only be truly explored by playing as Carver.
There are also co-op only areas that are locked off if you are doing the solo mission. These areas offer specific missions that must be done by two and get a little into the minds of each character. Players can support and revive each other without making it seem like everyone is only out for himself or herself.
One important thought – play with someone who plays like you. The experience will be much better if you find a second player has a similar style to your own. Otherwise, one player will be creeping along, examining everything while the other charges into another room. It isn’t as much fun, so pick your co-op buddy carefully.
“Dead Space 3” was selected on many lists as a “most anticipated horror game for 2013.” And while the franchise has been considered one of the finest horror games, this title doesn’t quite reach that pinnacle.
There are a couple of factors to consider. Players may be used to seeing necromorphs, so those horrific visions that filled our nightmares after a gaming session may actually be what we expect to see now. Our minds have been conditioned to twisted bodies and unearthly sounds so we don’t get the fright factor we used to.
Also, the franchise story is wrapping up, and I appreciated the development team doing a great job of tying up all the loose ends, the quest for those answers got in the way of just having horror for horror sake. Sure, there are some “jump out of the dark” moments that startle, but nothing scary like what I experienced in “Dead Space” and “Dead Space 2.”
Overall, “Dead Space 3” was a very good finale for the story of Isaac and the alien Markers. There are excellent moments that hook you emotionally and the combat is fun. While the horror factor is unintentionally dialed down due to familiarity, there is still a lot to love about this final (?) chapter.
“Dead Space 3” is available now in North America, February 7 in Australia and February 8 in Europe. It can be played on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC. It is rated M for Mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, strong language. This review was done with a provided PS3 version of the Limited Edition “Dead Space 3.”
The third and final installment in the franchise finds Shepard once again facing off against the Reapers, a race of sentient machines bent on eliminating all intelligent life in the universe. This time, the Reapers have come to Earth and Shepard must rally alien races around the Milky Way to destroy this mechanical menace once and for all.
As in other “Mass Effect” games, players take on the role of Shepard and have many options to make him (or her) any way they want. Six different classes, from soldier to sentinel, emphasize different strengths and biotic (telekinetic power) abilities for each character.
More inclined for combat? Choose soldier or infiltrator. Would rather use biotics? Go for an adept or engineer. If you are looking for a good blend, choose vanguard or sentinel.
Each class offers combat bonuses, like cryo-ammunition, or physical attacks from your mind, i.e., shockwave that knocks over rows of enemies. The options allow players to find a character that best suits their style of play.
How you play also affects character development. The paragon/renegade bonuses are back from previous titles that rate how Shepard talks to and treats others. Being helpful or friendly raises your paragon rating while being abrasive or uncaring raises your renegade rating. Both affect how you are treated in the future and alters choices that can be made later in the game.
All these player options serve as the backdrop to an epic story that has been eight years in the making. Players who have previously played “Mass Effect 2” can import characters that allow storylines to continue and choices made in that game to be reflected in the new one. New players will get into the major plotlines quickly and easily, and won’t feel like they are missing anything.
The game will have players hopping around the galaxy as Shepard gains allies and supplies from the multitude of races in the Milky Way. Of course, Reapers and Cerberus, a terrorist organization bent on human supremacy at any cost, cause problems for Shepard and his crew along the way.
Old friends return, new alliances are made and players will make choices that determine their ultimate success or failure in defeating the Reapers. Despite all the side missions and interactions, the main point remains taking back Earth.
Planet scanning for “treasure” returns, but is vastly improved over what it was in “Mass Effect 2.” Rather than having to survey and mine each planet for resources that may or may not be there, players can scan the system and find loot much faster than before. The treasure can be war assets (which are important in the final scenario), artifacts that can be sold or traded, intelligence about different factions or fuel for your spacecraft – a welcome change from an experienced player’s perspective.
Invariably, there will be combat. Whether you choose to concentrate on biotic powers or weaponry, you are going to have to pick up a gun and shoot. Weapons have a good selection of types of pistols, shotguns, rifles and sniper rifles, and are fully customizable with add-ons that grant better accuracy, more ammo carrying capabilities or extra damage to certain types of enemies. Add in biotic abilities that grant advantages or increased damage by your bullets and you are ready to take on the galaxy – literally.
The ammo is parsed out with thermal clips and is interchangeable between weapons, which is really helpful when you run out of one type of ammo. A single ammo pickup fills up all your weapons capabilities and ammo can easily be found on dead enemies or sitting on shelves.
Shepard isn’t alone either. Along the way, friends and comrades will join his quest and two are selected for each mission. They also have special powers that can be used in concert with Shepard’s own abilities for devastating effects.
Each potential squadmate corresponds to a particular class, so players can select those that either compliment or contrast with their own depending on the mission parameters. Plus, they are often good for funny banter.
The environments are rich and varied. Each scenario looks unique to the planet it is located. The artwork is detailed down to variances with each alien race. The universe feels alive and the other races don’t look like human rip-offs. It makes for a game that looks absolutely gorgeous.
However, all isn’t perfect in the universe. There were some unusual visual glitches throughout the game with camera angles. Characters were looking in the wrong direction, people would disappear during dialog, and one instance where a character turned their head nearly 180 degrees. While not vital to the overall gameplay, those visual tics took me out of my immersion in the game and made for an unwelcome distraction.
In addition, if you are playing with the Xbox 360 version, the game allows you to use the Kinect device to issue commands to Shepard and squad members. You can voice direct weapon switches, abilities and actions.
Protip: if you don’t want to use the Kinect, unplug it from your console. More than once, conversation in the room where I was playing had my characters doing things I wasn’t expecting them to do.
There are plenty of surprises throughout the game. Major characters will die, entire species will be eliminated and every plotline that you can think of will get resolved.
The romance options are back and causing a bit of controversy. Early critics of the game are lamenting the same sex romance possibilities, but with a universe as big as the Milky Way, anything can happen.
And without giving any spoilers, the ending was a bit of a letdown compared to all the excitement that goes on before. It left an unsatisfying aftertaste but is only a minor detraction from the entire adventure.
“Mass Effect 3” does a great job of answering all the lingering questions in the ME universe and gives players the best chance to determine their own fate as well as the fate of the galaxy. It is a fitting end to a wonderful trilogy that put the player’s in the driver’s seat from the very beginning.
Mass Effect 3” will be available March 6 in North America, March 8 in Australia, March 9 in Europe and March 15 in Japan. It is playable on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 360 and Windows PC. It is rated M for Mature (17+) due to blood, partial nudity, sexual content, strong language, and violence. This review was done playing as a paragon infiltrator and as a renegade adept on a review copy for the Xbox 360.
“Mass Effect 3” will be the culmination of a galaxy-wide story spanning eight years of development and millions of fans around the world.
With the third and final installment, Commander Shepard is in a battle to retake Earth from an advanced race of synthetics, known as Reapers, which want to cleanse the Milky Way of all intelligent organic life. Developers from BioWare planned the series to be a trilogy so everything from the first two “Mass Effect” games has led up to this climax.
Casey Hudson, executive producer of the “Mass Effect” series, said having an idea about how the story was going to develop gave his team “the best of both worlds.”
“On one hand, we knew where things were going so we could build these huge story arcs in the first one, and even in the second one, that would get resolved in the third game,” Hudson said. “At the same time, we were able to be pretty flexible in developing it mechanically so that as we started to really like certain story arcs and characters, we could build those in more and let players get more enjoyment out of playing.”
With more than 40,000 lines of dialog in “Mass Effect 3” alone, developers were presented with an unusual challenge. How to turn this massive game with all of its player involvement and lore into something that would satisfy their burgeoning fan base, yet remain accessible to players who were just discovering Shepard and the “Mass Effect” universe.
Fans of the science fiction/fantasy genre are very familiar with how trilogies end. Whether it is Darth Vader tossing the Emperor off a balcony or Gollum falling into the lava and destroying the One Ring, you can be sure of two things: there will be a dramatic twist at the end and really big things are going to happen.
Hudson said the way the “Mass Effect” series is built allows experienced players to continue with the stories they’ve already worked on, but also provide entry points for new players to get quickly acclimated to the tale and begin their own adventure. As with “Mass Effect 2,” players who have saved characters will be able to import those into “Mass Effect 3,” changing some dialog and missions to reflect actions taken in previous games.
New players are quickly brought up to speed through some introductory missions and different dialog from experienced players. But Hudson said new players shouldn’t feel like they are missing out on anything.
“The fact that it is a third story means that’s where you get to decide the fate of entire civilizations because we know this is the third of three,” he said. “If you are coming in as a new player, those plotlines are established but you also get to make the biggest decisions in them. For existing players, it’s mind blowing that they’ve gotten to know people and characters from a given species that they can choose to wipe out in Mass Effect 3.”
“That was the real fun of developing Mass Effect 3. This is the beginning of all the biggest things you get to do in the Mass Effect series and then everything comes to an end that you define as a player.”
Defining the parameters of the story and all the dialog choices that are identified with the “Mass Effect” series ended up pushing the limits for Hudson’s team. Since this is the final episode, everything needs to get resolved and all the questions need to get answered.
Hudson said despite allowing players to be in the driver’s seat on how those big story arcs get decided is what the fans of the series really enjoy. Which species live and which species die? What major character doesn’t make it to the end and who is there for the final battle? Players, new and veteran, will both have those choices to make and the emotional baggage that goes along with it.
“The team was really pushing to put little bits of fun even in the final days. [The game] ended up being bigger than what we thought it would be,” Hudson explained. “Whether you are a really passionate fan about the fiction or you’re fairly casual about it or you’re new to it, it should be a great story for everybody. We tried to build it as a story regardless of how familiar you are with the ‘Mass Effect’ universe.”
“This is really the biggest parts of this series. That’s what the whole story’s about.”
“Mass Effect 3” will be available March 6 in North America, March 8 in Australia, March 9 in Europe and March 15 in Japan. It is playable on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC. It currently does not have a rating from the ESRB.
“Syndicate” tries to remake itself into a first-person shooter (FPS) with some good combat techniques, but falls way short on visually delivering an enjoyable experience.
The new game from Starbreeze Studios, Electronic Arts is a reboot from a 1993 title that was more of a tactical shooter and strategy game than FPS. This version drops you into a future where corporations instead of countries control the world and most of the world’s population contains chips in their brains. Players act as techno-agents with super-charged electronic implants that make them incredible weapons.
The key invention is the DART-6 chip technology that is implanted in the brain of your character, Miles Kilo. Kilo is tasked with discovering corporate espionage and dealing with it – permanently. The DART-6 enhances Kilo so that the world appears to be moving slower and he becomes more powerful.
He also gets additional enhancements early in the game that unleash three different powerful attacks – suicide, backfire and persuade. Each of these abilities allows Kilo to tap into an enemy’s chip and force them to do something against their will.
The suicide ability causes a brain chip to explode, possibly injuring surrounding people. Backfire shorts out an opponent’s weapon temporarily and makes them vulnerable to damage. Persuade gets enemies to switch sides and help out Kilo before blowing their own brains out.
Kilo also gets upgrades by stealing important chips from other people’s skulls. The technique is rather disturbing as the technology is removed through the ear or eye – after the people are already dead, of course.
These upgrades add to health, recharging, shields and other benefits that you’ll need to complete your missions.
From a shooter perspective, the action is solid with a wide range of weapons to collect and use. From a simple pistol to the powerful chain gun with infinite ammo, each weapon causes unique, and sometimes very visceral, damage. The chain gun literally cuts enemies in half. Don’t examine the bodies too closely without a strong stomach.
The enemies are numerous, so players will get plenty of practice with their weapons and abilities. Some strategy is needed in most scenarios, but on more than one occasion, the bad guys just kept coming down a hallway without any personal regard while I continued to mow them down.
The boss battles were lengthy and difficult, requiring quite a bit of dodging, restocking and flat out hiding. Kilo seems extraordinarily fragile for all his offensive firepower so you will die often.
Apparently, civilians aren’t immune to all the bullets flying around either. It was hard to determine whether I should care or not because there isn’t a morality system that punishes or promotes my actions. I tried not playing like a psychopath, but the lines between good and bad get blurred on the way to the game’s conclusion.
Most troubling was the visual representation of the environments. Yes, it is a far-flung future reminiscent of “Deus Ex” or even “Tron,” but the experience was visually painful.
Lens flare and extreme lighting lessened the game’s enjoyment. Even by adjusting the gamma and blackness controls, transitions from scene to scene would result in blinding brightness or darkness so deep that I couldn’t make out individual items on a desk. I spent more time in the video options menu than worrying about what skills I wanted to upgrade.
Glitchy animation didn’t help the visual experience either. Other characters would go through the shakes like they were going through techno-DTs and on more than one occasion, enemy soldiers would appear to go down only to spontaneously reappear in the same location and shooting.
The detail in the environments was impressive, but most of it was just for show. Walls and barriers would show bullet marks without taking any real damage.
The multiplayer is co-op for two to four players and puts you into some typical agent missions. Cooperation is vital as the enemy appears single-minded in their desire to destroy you. It doesn’t detract from the overall game, but it is important to get with people who know what they are doing. Those “solo” team members are just going to get themselves – and you – killed.
Overall, “Syndicate” is hampered by visual style and glitchiness that gets more frustrating as the game goes on. The combat is solid, fun to play and takes a creative mind to use properly against numerous and increasingly tough enemies.
Don’t treat it as a reboot. Treat it as something brand new and you’ll probably enjoy it more.
“Syndicate” is available now in North America and February 24 in Europe on Windows PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is rated M for Mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, and suggestive themes. This review was done using a review copy for the Xbox 360.
“Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is an open world role-playing game from 38 Studios and features the talents of best-selling author R. A. Salvatore, artist and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, and Ken Rolston, lead designer of “Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind” and “Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.”
A demo for “Reckoning” will be available on January 17 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Not only will players get a first look at the design, they will also be able to unlock special items for the final game and also in “Mass Effect 3.”
By playing the “Reckoning” demo, gamers will receive two unlocks for “Mass Effect 3” when the releases on March 6 – Reckoner Knight Armor and the Chakram Launcher.
Players who play the “Reckoning” demo will also unlock these items for the full game – a Twist of Fate Card, Twinned Souls Chakram and the Infernal Helm, which increases players’ fire damage throughout Amalur.
If players also play the upcoming “Mass Effect 3” demo, they will receive these items to use in “Reckoning” – N7 Armor and Onmiblade Daggers.
“Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is expected to be released February 7 in North America and February 10 in Europe.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated and talked about titles for 2011, the developers at DICE wanted to raise the bar and go head-to-head against other military simulation games (i.e.: “Call of Duty” franchise). Publisher Electronic Arts went so far as to state they were gunning for “Call of Duty’s” market share with some pretty strong words.
The campaign for “Battlefield 3” is told in a series of flashbacks through the eyes of different people as a terrorist plot involving nuclear weapons is discovered. Twelve missions show off environments from the Caspian Sea to New York City and all are gorgeously rendered.
While most of the action occurs with the main character, players also become a gunner in a jet, a tank driver and a foreign spy. Each mission is intense, intricate and follows along the plot nicely. Some of the missions fail to energize like the rest. The jet mission doesn’t allow you to fly the jet, but rather sit in the back and wait for things to come to you. Not sure if it was done that way for pacing, but it does slow down the action and doesn’t offer the same thrills as other missions.
There are some emotional moments in the single player campaign that the actors portray very well. Beyond the typical “tugging at the heartstrings” scenes when a comrade dies, a few missions should make you want to slap the character on screen with the butt end of your weapon.
The Frostbite 2 graphic engine works hard to display intricate details, cast gloomy shadows and appears to move every blade of grass individually. Roads, tunnels, open fields, building interiors project the appropriate feelings of openness, claustrophobia and increased tension – and that’s even before the bad guys arrive to the scene.
I do have one complaint as the graphic engine produced rain smears or mud splatters on my display during missions for no apparent reason other than to show off. I’m not talking about on the jet canopy. I’m talking about walking around when it is obvious that I’m not wearing glasses or a visor. It was rather annoying, but a minor point.
There was also some video lag, which I found very odd on the Xbox 360 version. The audio would continue along nicely, but the visuals bogged down and would get out of sync for about 5 to 10 seconds. Not sure if it was just a fluke with my console, but it is worth mentioning in case it happens to you.
Combat, as expected, is the backbone of the game. Multiple weapon options are available and how you build your soldier’s arsenal will determine how your missions get accomplished.
Campaign players will start with initial weapons, but many more can be found. Will you change out your automatic rifle for something with longer range? Depends on if you are headed for higher ground or a possible flanking maneuver?
And teammates are key to any success. Wading headlong into the battle will just get you revived back at the last checkpoint. While the military movies may portray the hero rushing into the fray alone, that tactic doesn’t work here.
See how your squad mates are advancing and pick a different route. Often times, the enemies will be so locked in to the main force that you’ll discover easy pickings by taking the road less traveled.
If the campaign missions are good, the multiplayer missions are great. So many different options for weapons and vehicles open up as well as action that can’t be found in the single player missions.
“Battlefield 3” offers nine maps with 24 players each that span different objectives and environments. Five game modes offer familiar classics, but Team Deathmatch is a welcome addition that puts you in an infantry firefight where the object is kill or be killed.
Where the campaign failed on the jet mission, the multiplayer lets you pilot attack helicopters as well as fighter jets. Players can also spawn directly into the cockpits so no more waiting around for a plane to pilot.
A variety of armored assault vehicles are also available depending on the size of the map and type of mission selected. From jeeps to light tanks to full battle tanks, all have been revamped on how they recover from damage.
Minor damage is automatically repaired as long as you stay out of danger. Heavy damage caused the vehicle to catch fire, which results in slower speed but continued weapon function. The question then becomes how long you remain inside your damaged ride and racking up kills before it explodes.
There are plenty of weapons with unlockable attachments and gadgets to discover. Those bonuses are tied into your class so think about how you play before diving in. Loadouts, the weapons and abilities you choose at the beginning, have also been tweaked to offer more options to the players.
You can change classes from mission to mission, but focusing on one class will unlock the more powerful gear faster. Points can be earned in a variety of ways from straight kills to disabling opponents to working well with your teammates. When they succeed, you succeed.
All of the multiplayer experience is tied to the EA Battlelog, an online social media program that tracks your multiplayer stats and awards, keeps tabs on your friends and lets your form up platoons for future battles. PC games can also launch their game from Battlelog.
Word of warning: my Safari browser was not fully supported on Battlelog, so I could look around and talk to friends, but not join in their game. Also, there have been reports of server connections dropping or not connecting, particularly with the Xbox 360. EA has been working on the problem, but forum pages are filling up with disgruntled players who can’t enjoy multiplayer.
There are also six co-op missions that are loosely tied to the main campaign. They do require communication between teammates especially for the stealthy missions. One nice mission puts the player in the cockpit of a helicopter, giving you the chance to do some flying outside of the multiplayer missions. Weapons can be unlocked in the co-op game that can be used in multiplayer.
Comparisons to the new “Call of Duty” game will inevitably rise after its release. On its own merits, “Battlefield 3” still is one of the top games in the military simulation genre.
Intense action, wide variety of weapons and vehicles, and rich, immersive environments will test your skills and adaptation abilities. Some minor issues detract from a very fun and exciting game, but those shouldn’t stop players from coming back for more.
“Battlefield 3” is available for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The PC version requires registration to the Battlelog and EA Origins. It is rated M for mature due to blood, intense violence and strong language. This review was done playing on the Xbox 360 Limited Edition retail version.
It is just about everywhere and on every gaming system. Now, “Tetris” is making its way to Android smartphones.
EA Mobile and Blue Planet Software announced a free version of the classic game is now available to Android users. It is the second free offering on that platform from EA following “Scrabble Free”
“’Tetris’ is one of the most distinctive, well-known and popular video game franchises in the world and it gives EA the opportunity to grow its already-expanding customer base on the Android platform,” said Bernard Kim, vice president of sales and marketing for EA Interactive.
The new version features improved visuals, the famous music and a marathon mode. Touchscreen controls allow players to rotate and slide blocks to clear lines and rack up points.
“Tetris” has been published on more than 50 platforms and is available in 185 countries.
What do you get when you combine the #1 selling PC game franchise of all time with the #1 social network? A whole lot of people living the “life” they choose and sharing it on Facebook.
“The Sims Social” takes the life simulation game and transforms it into a social experience that allows players to interact in ways they could never do before in “The Sims” franchise. John Buchanan, vice president of marketing at EA Play (Electronic Arts), said PC gamers could always share elements of the game with their friends, but could never actually play with their friends.
“For a community that is as social as ‘The Sims’ is, to be able to now let them play ‘The Sims’ on the number one social platform in Facebook, it’s just a perfect marriage,” Buchanan explains. “Then you realize how popular it is from a community standpoint with over 7 million Facebook fans, it is a perfect opportunity to create an experience for those fans out there.”
Developers at Playfish Games wanted to bring an authentic feel to the social network game. Players start off by creating their Sim, giving them a personality, and build a home for them to live in.
The change in gameplay occurs when your Sim begins exploring the world, building skills and going on quests. Now, friends in the game can be involved in helping (or hindering) the development of your Sim character.
Through Facebook wall posts and feeds, everyone can see what interactions are going on with your character – are they falling in love, are they breaking up, did they put a spider on someone’s toilet seat?
Relationship building is one key element that was made easier by bringing the game to the social platform. Sim characters can become friends, fall in love, get married, and break up, which helps the characters develop and increase in levels.
Buchanan said players can show off quests they complete with their Facebook posts. Characters can work toward personal goals, like building the most beautiful home, and highlight the player’s creativity and expressiveness in whatever way they choose.
“You can also build your skills by becoming an artist, being a musician by playing the piano, or becoming a writer,” Buchanan points out. “These are different skills that let you explore life and level up your Sim as they go about their lives in ways that your friends are going to be able to explore with you.”
However, not all friend experiences may be “friendly.” Buchanan said they expect players to get emotionally attached to their Sim and the events their Sim goes through. So if a game relationship goes sour, the game offers ways to … get even.
“It’s going to offer me an opportunity to have some fun, to have some pranks,” he said. “I might put a spider in the bed. I might turn my relationship into an enemy or into an archenemy and then we turn into frienemies and we might have a boxing match.”
Buchanan quickly points out that the pranks are never permanent and are just to have some fun and an opportunity for competition between real friends. This, in turn, will create interaction off Facebook with the chance to talk about what is happening in-game and compare Sims characters between friends, leading to, what Buchanan hopes, a richer experience with “The Sims Social.”
Technically, the interface for the Facebook game will be different than the PC version, but Buchanan said it should be familiar for PC players with similar status areas that they are used to. The game interface had to be changed to fit within the Facebook platform, but they still wanted it to be easy to use and think they’ve achieved that goal.
With more than 140 million copies of the PC game sold in the past 10 years, it would seem there is a ready-made fan base for “The Sims Social.” Buchanan said the attention, even before the game launched, was amazing.
“We already have over 1.3 million fans of the game (on Facebook), one would say, yes, they’ve been clamoring for the game and are incredibly excited.”
Buchanan said they are also developing an app that will allow players to take “The Sims Social” experience on the go.
“The Sims Social” is free to play on Facebook and there is an opportunity to advance your skills faster by using micro-transactions to pay for skill points. Sim Cash enables players to accelerate their gameplay, but it isn’t necessary to play or advance.
In case you were wondering, yes, your Facebook Sim will have access to a computer in the game, but no, your Facebook Sim will not be able to play “The Sims Social” in the Facebook game. Although Buchanan said that was a pretty good idea.
“The Sims Social” is only available through the Facebook social network. There is no ESRB rating for this game. It will be released on August 18 to the general public.
Electronic Arts and BioWare, a division of EA, are making their popular fantasy role-playing game “Dragon Age” available on Google+ as “Dragon Age Legends.” This title got its start on Facebook about nine months ago, but the Google+ version will utilize features only available on the new social network.
The announcement follows a blog post from Google revealing a wider gaming effort across Google+. A Games page is slowly being rolled out and isn’t available for everyone right now, but they hope to garner feedback from users to create games that are “there when you want them and gone when you don’t.”
“We’re very excited to be among the first games launching on Google’s new social project,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-founder of BioWare, and General Manager of the BioWare Label at EA. “By bringing the franchise to Google+, we’re able to connect and entertain millions of existing and new fans within the rich, immersive Dragon Age universe.”
“Dragon Age Legends” will put players back into the Free Marches, the primary setting of Dragon Age II. Alongside their Google+ friends, players will take on challenging quests, earning loot, sharing rewards and growing their kingdom.
Angry Birds, Bejeweled Blitz, Sudoku, and many other games are among the initial offerings of games for Google+.
The Games button, when available, will be situated at the top of a user’s stream. Not only will it show your own progress, but it will reveal game updates from people in your Circles, provide invitations to other games and share high scores among your friends.
The blog also points out that it doesn’t want to take over your Stream with game updates (a veiled shot at Facebook?).
“If you’re not interested in games, it’s easy to ignore them. Your stream will remain focused on conversations with the people you care about.”
Google is also looking for developers to build more games for Google+ and expand their offerings. They don’t indicate how long it will take for the Games page to rollout to everyone.