Red Faction: Armageddon Pre-Order Bonus Time

Time for more pre-order bonus content. Isn’t it awesome! I really, really dislike these. A lot.

Here’s the PR from THQ:

Before Red Faction: Armageddon explodes (is released) onto the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC on May 31, those anxious to revisit Mars can pre-order a number of exclusive incentive items from participating retailers to immediately enhance their Armageddon experience, THQ Inc. and its internal studio, Volition, Inc. announced today…

At GameStop, those who preorder Red Faction: Armageddon will receive a free downloadable copy of Red Faction: Battlegrounds arcade game on either Xbox LIVE Arcade for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, or PlayStation Network for the PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, a $10 value. Players will also receive the Commando Pack that includes the armored Commando uniform and adds two new weapons to their arsenal. Players will spray an unforgiving stream of destruction (plasma) with the Plasma Thrower, or slice and dice the infestation (shoot people) with dual Laser Pistols.

At Best Buy, players will receive the Recon Pack that includes the clandestine Recon uniform, constructed specifically for Red Faction snipers and spies. Unleash two new weapons on your foes, including the Arc Welder, which immobilizes and electrocutes clusters of enemies, and the XNG-5000, which launches devastating Nanite-filled projectiles that seek out targets and dissolve them.

At Amazon.com, players will a free downloadable copy of Red Faction: Battlegrounds arcade game on either Xbox LIVE Arcade for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, or PlayStation Network for the PlayStation3 computer entertainment system. Red Faction: Battlegrounds pits four players either locally or online in a variety of game modes, including Survival, Annihilate and Flag Frenzy. Players rank up and are rewarded with a unique bonus weapon that will be playable in Red Faction: Armageddon.

(In other words, Amazon.com got screwed.)

At Walmart, players will receive the limited edition Red Faction 24-page illustrated comic book that follows Darius Mason as he chases down a gang of murderous bandits in a tale that takes place just before the events of Red Faction: Armageddon. The comic will also include a mini-strategy guide from Prima Games the world’s leading publisher of strategy content, for use with Red Faction: Armageddon.

Red Faction: Armageddon is scheduled to be available on May 31 in North America for a suggested retail price of $59.99. To preorder now, please visit www.redfaction.com/buy

***

So, looks like GS and Best Buy, no?

3DS vs Pokewalker – Fight!

No High Scores

The 3DS has a pedometer, the Pokewalker is a pedometer. Both give you things for walking. Which one is better? Let’s take a stroll and find out.

The notion of your 3DS talking to other 3DS’s as you walk about isn’t anything new. You could put Nintendogs on Bark mode and you’d get stuff from other people who also had it on Bark mode. For the record, I never got anything from anyone. Not once. So sad and lonely was my little puppy. The 3DS takes this notion of your console communicating with other consoles further out with the Mii StreetPass as well as ties into games such as Nintendogs and Super Street Fighter IV: 3D. With Nintendogs, your puppy gets presents from other puppies. In SSFIV:3D, you get beatdowns from other players. With the Mii StreetPass you can have other Mii’s come live in your 3DS. Why you’d want this, I don’t know. I have a bunch of strange Miis on my Wii and I never use them. They’re kind of creepy, to be honest.

The problem with the StreetPass system is that Americans typically don’t spend their time surrounded by other people as much as folks in Japan do. Mass transit is big in pockets of the US, certainly, but not to the extent it is in Japan. If you’re in the US and you want to take advantage of the various StreetPass features of the 3DS, you have to either go to a gaming convention like PAX or go to Japan. So Nintendo threw a pedometer into the 3DS, as if to say, hey, go out and walk around and you’ll find other people who are also walking around.

As I’ve talked about before, the Pokewalker has a similar purpose. It wants you to go and walk around, and for your efforts you can unlock Pokemon not available in the main game, as well as get items for battling.

So, which one is better? In the interest of science, I took a stroll to find out.

No High Scores

So here you can see my 3DS and my PokeWalker before my stroll. That canine butt you see is the butt of my Great Dane puppy Rufus. Rufus and I haven’t spent a lot of time together. He’s learned a couple of tricks, eaten a bunch, drank a bunch, peed and pooped a bunch, just like a real dog. He also doesn’t listen to me worth a damn during the frisbee competition. Also like a real dog. One of the best things about the pedometer in the 3DS is that I can boot up Nintendogs, take Rufus for a walk, close the 3DS, put it in my pocket and walk around and my real life steps are converted into steps with Rufus. Basically, I get credit for spending time with Rufus by taking a walk I was going to take any way. Below Rufus’ butt is my PokeWalker with Bronzor in it. Bronzor is one of my PokeWalker fodder Pokemon. They exist simply to walk. I don’t use them for anything but walking so I don’t care that they’re leveling up only in the PokeWalker. I don’t even know if I’ll bring them over to Pokemon White, so little do I care about them outside of walking. It is what it is. There are hundreds of beasts in the games. One has to draw a line somewhere.

As you can see from the picture, Rufus and I haven’t walked at all. Bronzor and I have. Bronzor got clipped to the exercise bike pedal and went for multiple spins this morning as well as was on my belt as I went around my morning. That’s why Bronzor has three thousand steps so far. From a utility perspective, clipping the PokeWalker on your belt is much lighter and more comfortable than carrying the 3DS around in your pocket, but preparing the PokeWalker for walking, by choosing a Pokemon and syncing it up is more cumbersome than simply turning the 3DS on and closing it. So I guess it’s a draw.

So for this test, I loaded up Nintendogs, said I wanted to go out with Rufus, closed the 3DS and put it in my pocket. I then took Bronzor off of my belt and clipped him to the same pocket on my other leg in order to rule out any pant related preferential treatment. I have no idea how these things work so it seemed only fair that both pedometers be in the same, basic place. I can tell you that with my pants weighed down by technology, I felt like I needed a bigger belt. Equipped thusly I went to the mall to get my wife a birthday present.

No High Scores

So here we are upon my return. In case you don’t have a calculator at the ready, Bronzor nabbed 1947 steps to Rufus’ 1525. Both Bronzor and Rufus were very happy with their stroll. Rufus found me some high heeled shoes and Bronzor found some more watts. Rufus got a bowl of food and a bowl of water for his troubles. Bronzor got nothing, but only because I can’t feed him. Plus, I have no idea what he’d eat. I have no idea how many steps I actually took, but given how small the PokeWalker is compared to the 3DS, I can see it registering steps more easily than the 3DS on account of it being more easily jostled. Seeing how the fate of the world is not dependent upon accurate step tracking, I’m not going to sweat the differences. So again, let’s call this a draw.

From a rewards perspective, it’s not so easy to declare a winner. The 3DS rewards you with game coins. Walk a hundred steps and you’ll get a coin. Not a bad rate of return. The problem is that the most coins you can earn in a day on your 3DS is 10 coins. Which means that after walking 1000 steps, something all but the most sedentary individual can accomplish, the 3DS doesn’t give you anything. The PokeWalker, on the other hand, not only rewards you for more steps, but it actually demands more steps. 1000 steps will get a few things unlocked for you in the PokeWalker, but not much. With the 3DS, you can use your coins to buy things in various games, fighting figurines in Super Street Fighter IV: 3D for example. The PokeWalker rewards you with the reason you play Pokemon in the first place, namely more Pokemon. Obviously, if you’re not a fan of Pokemon, then the 3DS has a better reward system but if you’re a Pokemon fan, the limit of only 10 coins a day would irritate me. The difference speaks to what each pedometer is meant to accomplish. The pedometer in the 3DS is a casual, non-threatening entity. Hey, it says, if you’re going out, why not bring me along? We’ll get some Mii’s, it will be awesome. The PokeWalker, on the other hand, rewards the players with the most dedication. Pack a lunch, it says, because you’re going to be walking for a very long time, but some awesome beasts lie at the end of the line.

In the end, neither matter all that much. You’re either going to walk, or you’re not and a plastic step counter isn’t going to make a lick of difference. I can say that when Pokemon comes out for the 3DS, you can bet that some sort of pedometer activity will be included and hopefully it will land somewhere between the casual “walk if you want to” mentality of the coin system and the forced march mentality of the PokeWalker. There’s plenty of room in between those points and the Pokemon games are well suited to take advantage of it. If my Pignite can find me some high heeled shoes in the process, even better.

Day Late, Dollar Short 3DS Impressions


I was resistant, but in the end I ultimately couldn’t resist trading in the aging, ailing, and down-at-heel Wii for a 3DS. After the trade-in, including a few games and accessories, I walked out of Your Favorite Used Games Chain with the hot-to-trot handheld and five bucks more than I walked in with. Not a bad deal. Here’s some “they didn’t send me a unit a month in advance” day-after-launch impressions.

I’ll spare you all of the weirdly fetishistic unboxing talk and pointless stories about what I ate on the way home, what the dogs thought about it when they saw it, and endless rhapsodies about my history of Nintendo. To get right down to business, it’s 3D alright. It does work, and it is impressive although it’s obviously an infant technology. In 20 years, we’ll be remembering how crude it was, but for now it’s interesting and when the stars are right it’s almost amazing. I’m just not really sure what to make of it just yet in terms of what it could mean for design and gameplay. I will say this- I don’t trust Nintendo with a potentially gimmicky feature like 3D. I’d hate for it to become the new waggle.

The unit itself is slick, slightly bulkier than a DS Lite but it also feels more substantial and adult hand-friendly. The buttons and D-Pad aren’t nearly as clicky as on the DSi, which I’m glad for. The thumb disc is cool- it reminds me of the old NES MAX pad. It’s not a traditional, ball-mounted thumbstick. It really is more of a slider. It’s definitely a good addition, seeing as many 3D games, racers, and other titles need analog control. The screens look good- bright, vivid colors but we’re still not in Retina display territory.

I messed around with Face Raiders and the AR cards first. They were cute and fun diversions, definitely a nice pack-in to show what the handheld can do. These are the things you’ll show to friends and family. I had some trouble with the 3D effect at first with double images and not being able to focus on the screen, but strangely enough the problem completely disappeared when I put my glasses back on. I usually don’t need them with handhelds, but for me it was the difference between the effect not really working and working great.

The first game I tried was Ridge Racer, one of my review assignments. It’s Ridge Racer all right. As in, circa 1995 arcade racing. The 3D effect is pretty neat and there’s tons of “Comin’ At Ya!” 3D exploitation bits. It may be a good showcase for the technology despite dodgy graphics and dated gameplay, but the game feels unimpressive considering that you can get similar racers on IOS for a dollar. But they’re not 3D, so there it is.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 looks great. The sense of depth and space that the diorama-like effect creates is really cool, but I doubt it will really impact gameplay. It feels pretty solid though, definitely better than previous handheld footie games. It’s not as feature-packed as a console Pro Evo or FIFA game, but Manc U looks and plays like Manc U so for a casual fan like me that’s a win. Full review forthcoming.

Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars is definitely a must-buy for fans of turn-based strategy games, board games, or Advance Wars. The presentation is super-slick, with 3D layered menus and some fun GI Joe-like characters with cool code names and high-tech weapons. There’s definitely an X-Com/Jagged Alliance vibe, although at least in the early stages the levels are much simpler and I’m not sure if there are elevations or any of the more complex elements in those games. But it’s fun, accessible, and the 3D looks really neat, .like you’re looking down over a miniatures game. Another review I’m working on, and I think it’s going to be a good one.

So far, no headaches, dizziness, speaking in tongues, or bleeding.

Resident Evil News Blotter for Monday, March 28th

I’ve got two items of interest for Resident Evil fans today. One is the formal press release (as opposed to the “hey, this is in OXM this month” notice) for Resident Evil: Raccoon City. Early reports were calling this RE6 and there was understandable concern about SOCOM devs Slant 6 working on it. But it sounds to me at least that this is another spin-off game. They’re specifically calling it a shooter (as opposed to RE5), and it’s a squad-based one at that. it sounds like there are some potentially cool ideas at work- particularly this business about facing off against another live squad and RE critters. That could be really cool. Or it could be a total disappointment because shooter action isn’t exactly a RE core competency. I’m also unsure about the 1998 setting. It’s cool that we’re going back to that part of the RE timeline and it’ll be great to see Leon in action then and all, but that also means we’re back in “classic” zombie territory, where the series has kind of moved away from since 4. In 1998, there were no other zombies games. Now, this game will be one of a horde.

The other bit concerns the upcoming Mercenaries title for the 3DS. Another action-focused shooter, which is worrisome. We’re getting a demo of RE: Revelations with that title, which by the description is literally RE on a boat. Yep.

Hey, press agency…what do you have to say about it? Oh…wow…OK, I was going to redact the hyperbole, but there’s just so much…

London, UK– March 28, 2011 – Capcom® a leading worldwide developer and publisher of videogames, today announced Resident Evil™: Operation Raccoon City, is in development for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC. In addition it was also confirmed that the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS title, Resident Evil™: The Mercenaries 3D,will ship with a playable demo of Resident Evil Revelations.

Resident Evil™: Operation Raccoon City is a collaboration between Capcom and Vancouver based studio Slant 6 Games and is scheduled for release this Winter. Since the launch of the first title 15 years ago the Resident Evil series has enjoyed phenomenal success, selling over 45 million units worldwide to date. This latest offering will take the series in a completely new direction and offer a style of gameplay yet to be seen from the franchise.

Resident Evil™: Operation Raccoon City delivers a true third person team based shooter experience set within the dark and sinister Resident Evil universe and a reinterpretation of the events depicted in Resident Evil™ 2 and Resident Evil™ 3. The setting of the Resident Evil universe not only provides a rich backdrop to the action but delivers a unique and thrilling triple threat battle. Zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W’s) add to the mix as players not only compete against an opposing squad but also tackle this third unpredictable element, creating a brand new style of gameplay and breaking the conventions of traditional team based shooters.

It is September 1998 and the action centres once more on the ill-fated Raccoon City and the horrific consequences of the deadly T-virus outbreak from the Umbrella facility. With a cover up required, Umbrella orders an elite team into Raccoon City to destroy all evidence of the outbreak and eliminate any survivors. Hearing of this plan, the US Government dispatches its own special forces to uncover any evidence that exposes the cause of the viral infection and Umbrella’s actions. Players take on the role of an Umbrella Security Services soldier (U.S.S.), competing alone or in four player co-op in a battle against all the competing forces at play in Raccoon City .

Expect the return of original Resident Evil enemies, iconic landmarks such as the Raccoon City Police Department and fan favourite characters, including Leon S. Kennedy, who as a rookie police officer in Raccoon City is on your hit list to eliminate. Players will experience a retelling of classic moments from past titles Resident Evil™ 2 and Resident Evil™ 3 and watch the events unfolding from the menacing perspective of the Umbrella Security Service, giving fans the chance to rewrite the history of the Raccoon City outbreak.

In addition, Resident Evil™: Operation Raccoon City will deliver a number of competitive online multiplayer modes. Each one of these will provide a unique gaming experience thanks to the three way combat between the Umbrella Security Service, US Special Ops and threat of zombies and B.O.W’s that could only exist in the deadly and twisted Resident Evil Universe.

Purchasers of Resident Evil™: The Mercenaries 3D, scheduled for release in the coming months, will get a taste of the horror to come thanks to the addition of a playable demo of Resident Evil™ Revelations. Set on board an ocean liner, the demo lets players take control of one of the full game’s characters, Jill Valentine, as she explores the ship’s dark interior, killing any mysterious creatures that emerge from the shadows. A brand new title built from the ground up for the Nintendo 3DS, further details on Resident Evil™ Revelations will be revealed at this year’s E3.

Mortal Kombat Roster Revealed, The 1990s Return

I am strangely compelled by the upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot, although I think it’s almost affront to good taste. Not because of the silly, cartoonish violence, but because it’s just so…90s. I’ve browbeat Bill Abner into giving me the assignment to perform a reviewtality on it at Gameshark, and I’m sort of excited about it. Seeing this roster, leaked by MK fansite Mortal Kombat United, brought back lots of vodka-flavored memories of playing MK3 after hours in a Namco arcade that a friend of mine managed. The important characters are all here, and it is kind of weird that hollering, daddy-hating ‘roid rager Kratos fits right in.

Scorpion, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Sub-Zero, Sindel, Ermac, Reptile, Kitana, Johnny Cage, Jade, Mileena, Nightwolf, Cyrax, Noob Saibot, Smoke, Sektor, Sonya, Jax, Kano, Stryker, Shang Tsung, Baraka, Kabal, Raiden, Extras/DLC – Sheeva – Quan Chi – Extras/DLC

InXile to Bring Back Choplifter

Holy cow, Choplifter!

I played that game on the C-64 back in the days when HBO signed off at 11 PM. Did you know that? HBO used to not be a 24 hour channel. Crazy, eh? Anyway, check out that video and see how desperate for entertainment we were back then.

Then on to the PR and a screenshot of the new game.

InXile Entertainment today announced that the classic, 1980′s Choplifter franchise will be making its 21st century debut this fall and is currently in development for PlayStation® Network and PC.

“First playing and loving the original Choplifter on my Apple II, then watching the franchise expand into arcades and the early console systems helped seed my passion for building lasting, quality gameplay experiences,” said inXile President and CEO Brian Fargo. “The feedback on creating a fresh take on Choplifter has been incredibly positive. We all have so many fond memories of playing the first game and the fun of rescuing people in hostile situations is timeless.”

In Choplifter HD, players take on the role of an up and coming rescue pilot asked to join the elite, international helicopter rescue team C.H.O.P.R. (Coordinated Helicopter Operations, Preservation and Rescue). Pilots will be trained to command a variety of helicopters deployed on more than 20 different missions ranging from captured military prisoner extraction to saving survivors of viral outbreaks. Pilots must bank, hover and touch-down in perilous conditions in order to make their rescue and complete their mission.

***

Sounds like Choplifter to me.

The Witcher 2 Will Melt Your PC (System Specs)

No High Scores

Courtesy of a link at Blue’s News, we’ve got some Witcher 2 system specs to throw your way this morning:

Recommended:

- Processor: Intel Quad Core or equivalent AMD
- Graphics Card: GeForce 260, 1GB memory / Radeon HD 4850 with 1GB memory
- Memory: 3GB on Windows XP and 4GB for Windows Vista and Windows 7
- Hard Disk: At least 16GB of free space

Minimum:

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz or equivalent AMD
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce 8800 512 VR or similar ATI
Memory: 1 GB for Win XP / 2 GB for Win XP
Hard disk: 16GB

Ouch…

Truthfully, these specs aren’t that surprising, and really, the minimum specs are more than reasonable, assuming you can in fact play the game at those settings at a resolution above 1024×768. We saw Witcher 2 first hand at E3 last year and the game is gorgeous. You don’t show off what they had running on four year old hardware. Not only that, I think this is actually a good thing for PC gaming. The fact of the matter is a current PC with a decent graphics card is much more powerful than the current crop of consoles, which are built from tech that was readily accessible over six years ago. There aren’t many AAA-production PC-centric developers anymore, so this is the time for the ones that are left to show off what they can do with modern hardware. If The Witcher 2 can do that, while being capable of backing off enough to let some older systems stay in the loop, then so much the better.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see about a new motherboard and processor.

Writing About Talking: Jumping the Shark Podcast #62

No High Scores
Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just another ho-hum week of Jumping the Shark this week. Except not really, because EA2D’s Soren Johnson joins us to talk about his latest project, Dragon Age: Legends. Woo! If you’re not familiar, Soren’s past credits include Spore and a little gem we’re fans of around here, called Civilization IV. We skipped the what we’ve been playing portion of the show this week to keep the dialog focused on Legends. In the process we also talk about the past and future of social gaming, the development challenges and perks of trying to make an actual game in an arena largely known for Farmville knock-offs, and maybe, just maybe, a little Civ IV chatter too…


iTunes Link
Direct Download

This week was a normal multitrack edit, which usually means you’ll get the best quality we can deliver. I hit a couple snags this time that I couldn’t work my way around, so if you hear a bit of a hum or a high-pitched whine that go in and out, my apologies. I did my best to get rid of that and through 95% of the show it’s not noticeable. The hum was very likely a PC fan that, for some reason, was much more prominent in the opening minutes of Soren’s track than it was later on. Hopefully you don’t even hear the high-pitched whine that comes in and out with some of Dani’s audio. Binky doesn’t hear it. Bill hears it, but only just barely. I think it’s finger-nails on a chalkboard, but then, I was wearing some fairly decent headphones. Let us know if you notice it as I’m curious.

As for the content this week, Soren’s an engaging guy to talk to and we’d very much like to have him back on in the future. Just an incredibly friendly and gracious person. As for his game, the thing that strikes me about Legends is that it really does work as a game. I don’t play other Facebook games, but it strikes me as a cut above the usual Farmville type stuff. No, it’s not like playing Origins or anything, but as a sit down and play for ten or fifteen minutes while waiting for spaghetti to cook kind of game, it’s pretty neat. You get your character, you march down a path to an encounter, recruit the characters of some of your buddies, and play out a turn-based battle. In between you build up a castle with rooms that help load you up with potions, equipment, etc. This stuff will, in turn, help you get through some of the tougher encounters. In some ways, I dig this dynamic better than the encounter system in DA2 because of how it integrates a lot of out of combat decisions with what you’re able to do and how effective you are in combat. I won’t be forking over real world dollars anytime soon, and I’d hardly skip playing DA2 to put 40 hours into Legends, but if you’re looking for a neatly-balanced game, that a couple times a day, you can throw a half hour at, Legends is well worth checking out.

Machinarium coming to PSN

Danielle reviewed this charming point and click adventure game on the PC in January of 2010 for GameShark. She loved it. So news of the game heading for the PSN is worth noting.

Also worth noting is that Microsoft turned down the company’s offer to move it to Xbox Live Arcade. What’s up with that?

“They weren’t interested because the game was already released for Mac and Windows, and Microsoft demanded it as part of an exclusivity deal.”

Oh, that’s what’s up. Nice. Anyway look for Machinarium “later this year.”

As seen on Casual Gaming

Star Wars: The Old Republic Jedi Progression

A new trailer is available for the upcoming Star Wars MMO from BioWare. This one shows some of the progression branches for the Jedi class; from humble beginnings to dual-wielding bad-assery. Worth a look.