Batman and Robin return from their adventures in the original title to take on major baddies with a little help from their friends. The story takes place in Gotham City, where the Joker and Lex Luthor decide the best way to rig a presidential election in Luthor’s favor is to drug everyone with Joker gas.
The campaign takes players through several different set pieces, but also allows for free roaming throughout Gotham City in between the missions. Everything is built with LEGOs, which means nearly everything is breakable into blocks and bits, the currency of the LEGO world.
Break more things, get more bits, and get more unlockable vehicles, heroes and villians.
The story is fun and brings in Superman as a playable character. The Man of Steel is really powerful and can fly, which makes some of the puzzles a little easier than they should be. Obviously, there is kryptonite in the game and he gets weakened – so much that he’s almost a hindrance at times.
Batman and Robin can use special suits to grant them unique powers during the missions. Batman can be stealthy, powerful or electrified depending on his suit, while Robin gets aerobatic, cold powers or a hazmat suit with vacuuming powers.
Each scene has special items to be collected – gold bricks, saving a citizen in peril, minikit parts to build and unlock new vehicles. You aren’t going to get everything on the first playthrough though. The set pieces are designed for players to come back with new characters and find places previously unavailable to them.
The dialog, which LEGO says is a first in the video game franchises, is great, even if it is slightly exaggerated in its tone. Batman is extra broody; Robin is extra peppy; Superman is extra nice. In previous games, LEGO characters grunted or emoted instead of speaking words.
Some of the voices may be recognizable to those who have watched the cartoon. Clancy Brown provides the voice of Lex Luthor in the game, just as he’s done for the “Justice League,” “The Batman,” and “Superman” cartoons. Tara Strong, Claudia Black, Nolan North, and many other strong voices offer depth and meaning to the dialog.
The speech is only during the cut scenes and not during the action. That’s fine, because I have a feeling we’d be hearing a lot of the same battle cries during a fight, which would get old in a hurry.
Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler, Alfred, also makes an appearance as the hint icon, helping players figure out new powers or tipping them off on what to do next. He’s pretty persistence so do what he says or he’ll repeat himself often.
Toward the end of the campaign, members of the Justice League join Batman and Superman (and Robin) to put an end to the reign of terror in Gotham City. Wonder Woman, Flash (my favorite), Green Lantern and Cyborg all become playable characters, each with their own special powers.
At one point in the game, six different characters were on the screen. While players can switch to any character they see during gameplay, it got a bit crowded when a puzzle required as specific ability. For example, if I needed super strength to pull open a robot’s chest, I had to track down Cyborg or Wonder Woman and stand next to them to switch. Not a deal breaker, but a little delay in the action.
But what to do once the campaign is finished? Sure, you could go back through and collect all the items you missed along the way, or you could venture outside into the open spaces of Gotham City to see what you can find there.
There are locations in the open world marked by spotlights that direct players to special items, like connections to the Batcomputer or unlockable heroes and villains. Those heroes and villains can be bought using bits and used in the game. There are 50 DC Comics characters and 10 other characters available to be found and used.
Those special gold bricks, minikits and citizens in peril are available out here as well. If you are a completionist game who has to get 100% for the game, you’ll spend a lot of time running around Gotham City looking for items.
The one major criticism I have is how characters move in the open world. Players can use vehicles if they want, but if they choose to walk or fly, the LEGO character will automatically speed up and make it difficult to control. I understand why developers sought the need to make characters run (there is a lot of ground to cover), but I wish they would have made a button to run instead of making it automatic. Collecting bits in the open world requires a bit of touch, which is lost when the character breaks out into a full sprint.
Drop-in/drop-out co-op play makes it easy to share the fun with a friend. Just make sure they don’t turn on you and start using their powers on you (it was a mistake, of course!).
Overall, the vocal quips and additional characters is enough to make “LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes” worth playing. The cuteness of the LEGO characters combined with the “seriousness” of the Joker and Lex Luthor is quite the contrast.
Open world exploring offers players the chance to fully utilize all the characters in the game. Superman is a bit overpowered during freeplay (can’t be hurt, just flies everywhere) since there isn’t kryptonite just laying around, but it doesn’t affect the game unless you want it to.
And of course, as with pretty much every super hero movie, there is a special teaser reveal at the end of the campaign mode. Bring on the next LEGO superhero game!
“LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes” is available now in North America, Europe and Australia. It is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita and PC. The game is rated E 10+ for everyone 10 years of age and older due to cartoon violence. This review was done with a provided copy for the Xbox 360.
It is a writ of passage that when spring arrives, it is time for baseball season. In the video game world, “MLB12 The Show” (Sony) and “Major League Baseball 2K12” (2K Games) both arrive and ready to crack the starting line-ups of gaming consoles everywhere. Each franchise has been around for a while – 8 years for “2K12” and 6 years for “The Show” – but one is starting it age.
Pitching styles is a big difference between the two titles. “2K12” continues to use their gesture mechanic with the joystick controllers that relies on timing one circle to fit within another. The artificial intelligence has been fine-tuned so that batters will remember pitches and adjust accordingly, thus ramping up the realism level a bit.
“The Show” has added a pulse pitching mechanism that determines how accurate your pitches are within your target area. It’s all about timing, but only utilizes one button as opposed to moving the joystick in a particular way. Saves a lot of wear and tear on the thumbs.
Defense is straightforward. There are animation differences that I’ll get into later, but fielders move and throw with good precision. Both title use a scale to determine how accurate the throws get – “The Show” uses a circle; “2K12” uses a bar. Push a button to the corresponding base and fire the ball. Holding down the button longer makes for a stronger, but possibly inaccurate throw.
Zone batting is new for “The Show,” where the right stick determines your stride and swing while the left allows you to move your “sweet spot” to the area where you think the ball will cross the plate. “2K12” already uses a similar style to determine how hard you are swinging and where. It also will give pitch type hints as the ball is heading for the plate, much as a batter would be able to recognize a curveball from a slider. “The Show” also has a simple button swing mechanic if that is more your speed.
The animations and look of “The Show” really make it shine above “2K12”. Each player has a unique look and fluid movements in everything they do. Pitching, hitting, throwing and catching the ball all appear very realistic and natural. It is a visually appealing game and looks like you are watching an Orioles vs. Yankees matchup on television.
“2K12” looks less like a TV broadcast and more like … well, a video game. There are hiccups and stutters in some of the animation. Most of the players don’t look much different from each other. Balls hit near fielders will make sudden leaps into the glove or outfielders will jump slightly to one side before catching a fly ball. It isn’t as well polished as its counterpart and looks old.
And speaking of TV broadcasts, a tip of the cap to the announcing team of Gary Thorne, Steve Philips and John Kruk on “2K12.” Their banter seemed fresh and timely, referencing the right things and never sounding boring. Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell and Eric Karros for “The Show” sounded stale and repetitive. Some of their phrases sounded exactly the same as last year, and there were a couple of games when I wondered if Karros had gone out for a pretzel and just never came back because he was heard so infrequently.
Franchise mode is back for each as well as allowing you to create your own player and work him through the ranks. “2K12” offers a “MLB Today” mode that lets player play games at the same pace as their favorite MLB team. But that means you can only play one game a day in that mode and doesn’t allow you to play past or future games.
The new “Diamond Dynasty” mode for “The Show” seems geared more for a fantasy franchise baseball fan than someone who wants to play a game. There are baseball cards, budgets, and customizable team logos and colors. If you are a stats nut or someone who likes to micromanage, this might be right for you.
The “Perfect Game Challenge” is back for “2K12” with a twist. In previous years, whoever got the first perfect game of the season using the title won $1 million. This year, the first eight perfect games will get the chance to head to New York City and compete in a live tournament for that top prize.
“The Show” is Move ready, bringing motion controls to every aspect of the games. They have also tied the PlayStation 3 game with the new PS Vita handheld console. Games can be saved to the Cloud on one console and downloaded to another for continued playing. For die-hard video baseball games, this mean never having to stop even when you are away from home (provided you have a Vita).
The biggest drawback to “The Show” is that it is a PlayStation exclusive title. If you own anything other than a PS3 or Vita, you can only play “Major League Baseball 2K12.” Fundamentally, it is a solid, but visually underwhelming, title that will be enjoyable.
But if you have a choice, “The Show” brings together realistic mechanics with outstanding animation to create an “at the ballpark” feel that outshines its competitor. All I need now is a hot dog and a frosty beverage to make the experience complete.
“MLB12 The Show” is available now only on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. “Major League Baseball 2K12” is available now for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, Nintendo DS, PSP and Microsoft Windows. Both games are rated E for Everybody. This review was done playing both titles on the PS3 as well as playing “MLB12 The Show” on the Vita.
The PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo Wii U are both arriving in the world markets with the Vita hitting North American and European shores in February after a Japanese launch in mid-December. The PS Vita is a handheld console and successor to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) that offers beefier graphics, interactive touchscreens on the front and back, and dual analog sticks much like the PlayStation 3 controllers.
Sony is banking on familiar characters in games like “Uncharted: Golden Abyss” and “Little Big Planet” to help draw in customers as well as creating unique and immersive games to appeal to the hard core gamer. The company is going after the dedicated portable gaming market, but challenging tablets and smartphones for the same gamers.
There were more than 320,000 units sold in Japan after its December 16 release, putting it on nearly even footing with the Nintendo 3DS. Those numbers dropped dramatically in the second week to just over 70,000 and analysts are watching to see how the device will be received in the U.S. and Europe.
Later in 2012, Nintendo will be releasing their next generation console called Wii U. It is the first Nintendo console to feature 1080p high-definition graphics and will have a touchscreen embedded in the controller to allow for gaming even when the TV is off.
A prototype was shown during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 to demonstrate its single touch screen that supplements or replicates gameplay on the monitor. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said the final version will be revealed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2012 in Los Angeles and released to the public after March 2012.
Critics are concerned about the potential consumer costs, but Nintendo is confident the Wii U will open up a new style of gameplay for the home gamer.
There has also been speculation that a PlayStation 4 or new Xbox console could be released in 2012. In an interview with CNN Geek Out, Xplay host Morgan Webb said many developers are working on new franchises for a new console generation.
“We’re nearly at the end of a console cycle, so series that have begun at the beginning of the console cycle, they’re starting to finish up the series,” Webb said. “People have made the investment in the franchise and they’ve got the art together and they don’t want to create something completely new when new consoles are starting to be on the horizon.”
Some developers have spoken openly about learning about technology for a new Sony console. And while there have been hints about a new Xbox console for a couple of years, Microsoft has been mum about any new console hardware and focusing their efforts on the Kinect controller.
Of course, all these new hardware devices won’t mean a thing unless gamers have great games to play. There is a powerhouse line-up of major franchises and popular characters in store for 2012.
“Halo 4” is the next blockbuster installment in the iconic franchise that has likely defined a generation of gaming. Set in the aftermath of “Halo 3,” Master Chief returns to face an ancient evil that (of course) threatens the entire universe.
Speaking of saving the universe, “Mass Effect 3” brings back Commander Shepard as his battles against the Reapers pit the galaxy against the advanced machine race. The story is expected to flow directly from the ending of “Mass Effect 2” and will also offer a female version of Commander Shepard for the first time.
Some old friends will be returning in “Diablo III” and “Twisted Metal.” More than ten years after “Diablo II,” players will get to battle the forces of evil with new destructible environments and classes to play. “Twisted Metal” returns from a 17 year hiatus for more combat on wheels action and over-the-top explosions.
“Bioshock: Infinite” has been wowing audiences since its announcement in 2010 and has already won numerous awards before its official release next year. Taking the action from underwater to the skies, creator Ken Levine is hoping fans will embrace the new direction and explore the setting and culture.
“Final Fantasy XIII-2” returns players to Cocoon in search of Lightning, the hero from “Final Fantasy XIII.” The game was released in mid-December in Japan to perfect scores and selling more than 524,000 copies for the PlayStation 3 version alone. Square Enix, developer of the game, is expecting a great launch for the rest of the world in 2012.
Other titles like “Resident Evil Revelations,” “Max Payne 3,” “Borderlands 2,” and “Grand Theft Auto V” will also be must-see games for the upcoming year.
As we’ve learned, gaming is not just for consoles and consoles are not just for gaming. Smartphones and tablets are continuing their march into the gaming genre with more choices from Atari, Zynga, Electronic Arts and other well-known gaming developers.
As mobile devices become more powerful, social and casual gaming is expected to increase to new heights and draw in more people to becoming “gamers.” Some research shows that the demographic of a gamer is changing to nearly an even split of male/female and the audience is getting older and more affluent.
Likewise, consoles are broadening their entertainment choices beyond just gaming into live sporting events, movies and music. Hulu, Netflix and ESPN have already made inroads that other providers will be exploring in the coming year.
Look for that trend to continue as content producers look to capture audiences at every opportunity and gaming seen as a potential growth market.
While 2011 was a big year in gaming, 2012 is projected to be even larger. Communications market researcher TMNG expects the global gaming business to reach $40 billion in revenues by 2012 with high growth in the mobile game sector.
There are likely to be twists and unexpected developments along the way for the gaming industry in 2012. But at the heart of it all, the gamer consumer will be the one who decides which technology or title goes on to glory and which goes in the discount bin.
As 2011 comes to a close and the holiday video gaming releases are in full swing, I took some time to talk with Morgan Webb, host of “XPlay” on G4TV about this year in gaming, what’s next and what does it really mean to be a gamer.
Webb said she is an avowed fanatic when it comes to the “Centipede” arcade game. She also said her first console was an Atari 2600, where she played “Combat” and “Plaque Attack” for hours on end.
GN: This was a year for sequels. Every major title that came out had a number after it. Why is that?
Webb: “We’re nearly the end of a console cycle so series that have begun at the beginning of the console cycle, they’re starting to finish up the series. People have made the investment in the franchise and they’ve got the art together and they don’t want to create something completely new when new consoles are starting to be on the horizon.”
GN: Were there any games that surprised you this year?
Webb: “’LA Noire’ from Rockstar. Rockstar traditionally makes very good games, but we were surprised and delighted that the game had a very different perspective on the traditional ‘GTA’ (‘Grand Theft Auto’) style open world game. That was a great surprise and a great game.”
GN: What’s going to be different in the next generation of consoles?
I think they are going to have a lot of cloud functionality. You’ll be able to play games on the cloud. You’ll definitely be able to have saves on the cloud. They’re going to start transitioning people off of discs. That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to have disc drives because they are. But we’re going to start having consoles with big hard drives that you can gather those games because you’re going to have much better bandwidth. You’re going to be able to download those games more often. They’re going to want to start that transition and start cutting out the actual game stores just like how book stores have been cut out from books. On the gaming side, we going to see very powerful graphics cards and we’re going to see very powerful processors. They’re going to be very powerful computers that are going to sit next to your television and they’re going to be very good prices for what you are going to get.
GN: With the Wii U and the PlayStation Vita coming out next year, is this where we are headed with more motion controls and less button pushing in gaming?
Webb: “I think there is room for both. Core games, the hard core gamers who play games like ‘Gears of War,’ ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and ‘Skyrim,’ that gamer is definitely more interested in using a controller for a lot of their experiences. The problem is that the (PlayStation) Move, these motion experiences, aren’t nuanced enough to actually give the player as much control as they would have with a (regular) controller. For example, if you are swinging a sword on a Wii game, you slash to the right and it does a right slash or slash to the left and it does a left slash, but it doesn’t really track or there is no skill involved. Now you are just standing up there making slashing motions for three hours.”
GN: Are the console wars still alive or has the battle moved to specific game titles?
Webb: “I think there are people on the Internet who sit there and decide that everything on the PlayStation is awesome and everything on the Xbox is awful and people who think that everything on the Xbox is great and everything on the PS3 is terrible. We call those people trolls. People become emotionally invested in the console they purchase so that’s the reason they get so attached to it. I think in general most people are ‘hey, I have an Xbox and I like it and lots of good games come out for both consoles.’ Each console has their exclusives and they are great exclusives on each. The Wii tends to have fewer rabid proponents because it tends to aim for a more casual audience.
GN: Does the title ‘gamer’ carry more weight than it did in the past?
Webb: “Unfortunately, it is a more confusing word now because there are so many different types of games and so many people playing games from on their cell phone to Facebook to many other things. The word encompasses so many different groups so it doesn’t really mean as much as it used to. I call myself a gamer but someone’s mom who plays ‘Farmville’ all the time, maybe she calls herself a gamer too and she should because she is. I think we need words to start differentiating the subgroups.”
While Webb would not name her 2011 Game of the Year, she did have some recommendations that players should pick up if they can.
- “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” – “You have adventures in this world that is very living and you have hundreds and thousands of choices you make and it all seamlessly works together.”
- “Uncharted 3” – “This is what we want the ‘Indiana Jones’ movies to be. You are living and playing that ‘Indiana Jones’ treasure hunting experience.”
- “Resistance 3” – “A little of the beaten path. It has funky, over-the-top weapons, but funny weapons, weird crazy weapons that you aren’t going to see anywhere else.”
- “Saints Row The Third” – “A GTA style game that is hilarious and over-the-top and crazy. Not for kids!”
- “Portal 2” – “There are some great puzzles in there.”
On one hand, 25 years of the “Zelda” franchise has provided many hours of enjoyment for fans everywhere and chronicled the adventures of everyone’s favorite green-hat-wearing elf, Link. This game has that.
On the other hand, I was looking for something that was going to advance the franchise in new directions and possibly break into some new ground. That didn’t happen.
“Skyward Sword” is full of what we’ve come to know and love about Link. Maze-like terrain, challenging dungeons, familiar weapons and, of course, trying to find Zelda are all here. There is little that is unfamiliar to the franchise that we haven’t seen before.
Epona, Link’s trusted horse, has been replaced by a riding bird to carry him around to distant locations. Unfortunately, there isn’t much challenging or exciting about riding around on a flying bird after you’ve done it once or twice. But since Link is based out on a floating city in the sky, trying to ride a horse around could get very messy very quickly.
I was also confused about where this game falls in the “Zelda” timeline. Link appears to be slightly older, but doesn’t have any of his traditional garb or weapons. He is a recruit in the knights’ program. He has to earn his familiar hat and clothing. Contrast that with previous games where Link looks like a kid, but apparently has already been promoted to knight with all the corresponding equipment.
Nintendo has said “Skyward Sword” lays the foundation for the events in “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” but it doesn’t feel like a precursor at all.
Link also is missing personality. He is, as always, silent, but really has no reaction to anything that happens around him. In an early segment, Link is getting bullied around, but shows no outward emotions or response. It is Zelda who comes in to chastise the bullies and defend Link.
The gameplay pace is slow with plenty of moments of inaction. It is almost leisurely as Link goes from one mission or dungeon to the next. There is no sense of urgency, but it does allow players to fully explore without feeling like they are missing something.
Environments are vibrant with collectibles and creatures lurking around every corner. There is a maze like quality to try to get to some areas with only one path in and one path out. Usually, some puzzle needs to be solved to open the pathway and allowing Link to continue.
Instead of Navi (“Hey, Listen!”), Fi, a mystical creature that almost acts like a computer artificial intelligence program, helps out whenever something new comes up or if a player gets stuck on what to do next. Fi lives in the handle of the sword and comes when summonded. She can also evaluate your gameplay as well as the surrounding area for any dangers or monsters.
Combat is decidedly different since the game requires the use of Nintendo’s Wii MotionPlus Control, which allows nearly 1-to-1 control from the player’s movements. Defeating monsters or solving some puzzles takes precise motions to get by blocks or cut open pathways. This was a welcome change from straight button pushing and injected a new level of challenge during combat.
The nunchucks attached to the Motion Plus Control act as the shield during combat and also help with special moves such as rolling or shield bashing. The two controllers together worked very well and made the combat enjoyable without making it tiring.
In the end, “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” is a good, but not great, game that sticks to the successful path that Link has been on for the past 25 years. Some minor tweaks don’t inject new energy into the franchise, but this is one series that keeps fans happy with familiar concepts and characters.
However, I wonder where Nintendo will be able to go next without needing to seriously consider some radical changes.
“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” is available now in Europe and North America. It will be available in Japan on November 23 and in Australia on November 24. It is a Wii exclusive title and is rated E10+ for Everyone 10 years old and older due to animated blood, comic mischief and fantasy violence. This review was done with a review copy of the game.
Yes, the “NBA 2K” franchise is the top rated basketball simulation for 11 years running.
And yes, this year’s “NBA 2K12” will let you end the debate about what historical team is the greatest by offering 15 classic teams and players to battle on the court.
But what really makes this a deeper game are the enhancements to the My Player mode, which allows you to create your own basketball player and guide his career (hopefully) to the NBA Hall of Fame.
Start off by creating the physical attributes (height, weight, age, etc.) and the game assigns your abilities based off what type of player you want to be (shooter, post player, etc.). In theory, you could create a 7-foot tall point guard with zero post abilities, but I’m guessing the high dribble would make you susceptible to steals.
After finalizing your player, you immediately play in a rookie showcase game. This game shows off “NBA 2K12” improvements on player movements, facial features and unique moves from player to player. It is also where how you do will help determine where you are selected in the NBA Draft.
While you are always referenced by a nickname, the announcers do a good job of mixing your player’s performance in their chatter. If you get on a hot scoring streak, they’ll remark how unexpected this is out of you and how many more teams will be taking a look at selecting you.
There are three expectations per game that you try to match (no turnovers, hold match-up opponent to 5 points, etc.) as well as improve your teammate grade by making good passes, playing transition defense and other skills that lead to victory. Meeting these goals help increase your skill point totals, which translate into improved attributes.
In all the My Player games, action can be simulated if your player is on the bench. Unless you want to watch the action while sitting on the sidelines.
I created a 6’ 6” shooting guard from Marshall University and picked up 18 points and a B- on my teammate grade in the rookie game. Now, it was time to be interviewed by general managers from three teams.
After the rookie game, you get to answer two questions from teams that will be interested in drafting you. They ask questions about your desire to play, your dedication to training or how willing you are to work on an up and coming team. How you answer those questions is taken into consideration prior to the draft.
The Charlotte Bobcats (#9 pick), Golden State Warriors (#11) and Utah Jazz (#12) were interested in my shooting guard. I answered the questions in a way that I hoped would get me selected by each team, but there was an answer choice, “I do not want to play for your team,” that would have automatically dropped me off that team’s list.
The draft starts off with NBA Commissioner David Stern (yes, it was really his voice) announcing the first pick and continuing on until your player gets selected. If you don’t get picked until late in the first round, this can be a rather drawn out process since there is no way to skip to your selection.
Developers wanted to enhance the drama and suspense of being selected. They also said the highest any created player can be selected is number 3 (Utah Jazz) so don’t set your sights on being the top pick.
After walking to the podium and signing your rookie contract, your team’s public relations department contacts you and shows you a new billboard, touting you as the future of the franchise. Having been selected by the Bobcats, it was pretty cool to see my player on some outdoor advertising.
Now it is time to earn that contract.
Players’ skills can be improved through buying skill points with your contract money or by doing individual and team drills. The 8 of the 9 drills are new to the franchise and work on offensive and defensive skills. Do well enough at the fast break skill and additional points are yours to spend.
Skill points are also earned by how well you play in your games, meeting the goals and getting a good teammate score. Your first game as well as other key games is worth double points so keep turnovers low and keep your teammates involved.
My shooting guard decided to take advantage of the new arsenal of moves in “NBA2K12” to put up 33 points in 16 minutes in his first game. Oh, you didn’t think you were going to be in the starting lineup, did you?
After every game, there is a press conference where you are asked about the game action. Your answer impacts what your teammates think of you, your league-wide reputation and how you are perceived by the hometown fans. The answers were tough to interpret and I came off as a jerk sometimes when I was trying to praise my teammates.
While the franchise touts its improved facial features and player movements, my player still looked awkward when he was speaking. His bottom lip didn’t seem to move and it appeared frightening when he addressed the press.
As your season progresses, more playing time can come your way and more endorsements will start coming your way depending on your reputation (those press conference answers are important). Money can be used to buy skill points, increase your reputation through team bonding events and even attend camps to enhance more than one attribute.
Later in your career, you can request trades, negotiate contracts and continue to build a player that will grace the NBA Hall of Fame. How long that takes depends on how fast your become one of the best players in the league.
“NBA2K12” offers many different modes of play, but the My Player mode has depth and versatility to challenge even the best gamer to achieve basketball immortality. It takes the new look of the franchise, the enhanced moves, and the improved shot creation, and personalizes it in a way that will have players cheering themselves on to greatness.
“NBA2K12” will be available October 4 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP and PC. It is rated E for Everyone. This review was done playing the game on the PlayStation3.
Nintendo is putting a new shine on some titles for the Wii, 3DS and DS systems this fall.
A special edition “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” bundle will also contain a gold Wii Remote Plus controller available at launch on November 20. The game will also contain a special music CD featuring orchestral music that will be performed at The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony Concert in October.
Nintendo also announced two titles, one for each of their handheld controllers.
“Tetris: Axis” will be available for the 3DS on October 2 and include more than 20 different modes. The game will also allow up to eight people compete in wireless multiplayer competition.
For the DS system, the good Professor is back. “Professor Layton and the Last Specter” kicks off a brand new, puzzle solving trilogy set three years before the events in “Professor Layton and the Curious Village.”
Wait. A new trilogy set before a trilogy that’s already out? This sounds vaguely familiar.
Fans in North America will also get a bonus to “The Last Specter.” A role-playing game entitles “Professor Layton’s London Life” will contain more than 100 hours of additional content and be available at launch on October 17.
What once was old is new again. And it is buggy.
Atari is getting ready to release a new version of their arcade classic, “Centipede,” with an updated version called “Centipede: Infestation.”
The game is a run and gun shooter in a post-apocalypic world overrun by creepy crawlers of all shapes and sizes. A new trailer shows how the player battles centipedes, spiders, beetles, and yellow jackets.
Twelve years after a nuclear war, the world has turned into an uninhabitable wasteland with mutant insects thriving in a toxic world and humanity holding onto survival in outposts hidden from the poisonous air and the killer centipedes hunting their natural resources.
There are more than 20 different breeds of insects featured in seven different environments and 40 stages. The game is expected to be released later in 2011 for the Wii and Nintendo 3DS.
A new game mode called “NBA’s Greatest” will let gamers choose from 15 historic NBA teams and their greatest players for rivalry games from history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius “Dr. J” Erving and other superstars will face off against each other in recreations of some of the NBA’s most storied games.
Jason Argent, vice president of marketing at 2K Sports, said those games in the challenge mode have meticulously been recreated to be historically accurate – right down to the short shorts of the 1970s.
“It will be in black and white if (the real game) was in the 60s,” Argent said. “We focus so hard, in the current day game play, on polish and broadcast style presentation. That will play through to the historic day games as well.”
“These are actual games that took a lot of effort and a lot of internal debate. Deciding the biggest Kareem Abdul-Jabbar game, it is a pretty big list. But a couple floated to the top and we had to make some hard decisions about which of those historical games it would be.”
Each challenge game will have a series of goals to achieve to unlock the historic athlete and teams. Once unlocked, those teams from the past can battle against teams from today, letting gamers pit Kobe Bryant’s Lakers against Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
Argent said the idea behind the new mode was to let basketball fans debate about who was the greatest player or greatest team ever, then actually allow them to duke it out on the consoles.
2K Sports recently announced that the game would be released in the US with three different covers featuring Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. All three superstars will be among the 15 featured in the “NBA’s Greatest” challenge mode.
With the looming threat of no real basketball this year, “NBA 2K12” is prepared to be the only game in town. Argent said some adjustments will be made in case the NBA season is delayed or does not play this year.
“Certain free agents that aren’t on a team may not be represented, but for the most part, we are going to be completely fine.”
In last year version of “NBA 2K11,” the “NBA Today” mode used real time stats to alter characteristics and abilities of players in the game. Argent said the mode has been upgraded this year, but they are ready in case real stats aren’t available.
“If the lockout ends and as the season goes live, the real players will be updated in real time in the game,” he said. But if no real season is played, Argent said the players in the game will keep their initial abilities throughout the virtual season.
“We’ve got some fun other things up our sleeve that will greatly enhance that experience despite what’s happening in the real world. We’ve anticipated every option and the final result, regardless of what happens in the real world, will be great in game.”
“NBA 2K12” will be released October 4 on the PlayStation 3 with optional Move support, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, and PC.
The latest LEGO block video game (Disney Interactive Studios, Traveller’s Tales) recounts the first three movies and also includes the yet-to-be-released fourth film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” The new movie is scheduled to debut on May 20 — 10 days after the video game is available, so you have been appropriately warned about spoilers.
Each movie is broken down into five gaming levels. It is typical LEGO style with straight platform action involving swordfights, cannons, and collecting “studs” — single connection LEGO blocks.
Items can be smashed into the LEGO block components, and then collected for points or re-formed into another item that can be used in the game. Up to eight characters can be used on each level during story mode, but it can create for a crowded screen.
There were a few times when I couldn’t see what item needed to be collected or was pushed off a narrow ledge because the 5 characters who were traveling with me all wanted to be in the same spot.
Matt Ellison, associate producer at Traveller’s Tales Games, said 70 characters can be unlocked and bought throughout the entire game. Each character has a special ability that makes it unique from others, including Captain Jack Sparrow.
“Jack’s compass is really different from anything else we’ve done (with LEGOs),” Ellison said. “It will point to things Jack can find and also helps point to things to solve puzzles in the game.”
Ellison said the settings are as iconic as they could be and the team tried to put the LEGO spin on the classic movies. Since the films’ characters are so well known, he said they wanted to make sure to include little details to help players relate to each character.
For example, Captain Barbossa is often seen with an apple in his hand and Jack’s running style – arms straight out, waving frantically – is humorously well represented.
“A lot of time went into making sure we got Jack’s running right, his character right,” Ellison said.
The game play is all about exploring the vast scenes during each level. Puzzle clues and treasure are all over the place, waiting to be discovered.
“Eight collectibles in each level and 10 ships in a bottle can be found,” Ellison said. “There is something always hidden to get.”
Using Jack’s compass helps discover the missing booty, but there are also sign postings to assist players in finding key elements in the level. Since the scenes are so big, it would be easy to get lost or frustrated without those helpers.
“The exploration game play ties into the ideology of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ Plus we wanted to make a distinctive change of pace between the levels, so you are treasure hunting in one level, and then fighting foes in the next.”
Even on ship levels, players will need to go up into the rigging or down into the ship’s belly to find all they need to find. Ellison said each scene has to be solvable for all ages and the game teaches you what to do and where to look as it goes along.
There are lengthy cutscenes and cinematics between the levels to fill in the story. The humor from the movies really shines in LEGO form, which uses its blocky medium to put interesting spins on the tale.
“The humor appeals to all ages. We took the iconic movie settings and twisted them slightly to make them funnier. Plus we took the same slapstick humor from the films and just made more of it.”
As I said, the fourth movie is also included so I was worried about spoiling my future enjoyment. Ellison smiled when asked about it, but assured me no details about the story line would be ruined.
“We will have some of the same locations, but none of the dialog (LEGO characters do not speak, only grunt). We do have some of the action from the movie but it shouldn’t ruin the film for anyone.”
If you remain concerned, then wait to play the fourth level until after the movie comes out.
The one drawback to the game was the two player co-op play. As in other LEGO video games, two people in the same room can drop-in/drop out as separate characters and solve all the puzzles.
Unlike previous LEGO games which forced the two characters to stay in the same screenshot, “LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean” actually split the screen as the characters walked away from each other.
However, the split in the split screen moved around in relation to where the characters were on the level. As the characters got closer to each other, the scene slowly changed back to a single screen.
It was difficult to focus on what my character was doing or where it was in the split screen action. My co-op player and I found it confusing, and, at times, frustrating to figure out where we needed to go or what we needed to do unless we were in the same screen.
There was never a time where a puzzle needed to be solved in split screen mode. After a while, it just gave me a headache.
Once each level is completed in story mode, free play mode is unlocked which allows you to use any of the characters you have available to solve puzzles that couldn’t be previously figured out. Those characters will also get you into previously unavailable areas.
Finding all the collectibles and solving all the brain teasers will keep players playing for many hours after the story mode is complete.
The game is also available for the Nintendo 3DS, but there are only 16 levels and you can only use one character during the level. Ellison said the 3DS version is tailored to the single player experience and everything can be solved by one character.
“LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean” is a fun spin on the blockbuster (pun intended) movies. It ramps up the humor from the films and offers plenty of action for players.
Exploration is the key. While the story mode only took me about nine hours, I barely collected 40 percent of all the items that could be found. Replaying the game in free play will keep players interested for many more hours.
The co-op mode was a trouble spot and disappointing. While I often lamented about being kept in the same screen in previous LEGO co-op versions, the split screen action as presented is not the solution I was looking for.
Overall, the game is lots of fun despite some playability glitches. And following the adventures of Jack Sparrow .. I mean, Captain Jack Sparrow .. is worthy of any would-be pirate.
“LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean” will be available May 10 in the U.S., May 13 in Europe and May 19 in Australia. It is available on the PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and PSP. It is rated E10+ due to cartoon violence and comic mischief. This review was done playing on the Xbox 360 in story mode, co-op mode and free play.