Before Dark even begins, it spends a couple of hours staring into the mirror and hating its wannabe-vampire self for still having a reflection. It’s That Guy at the goth club, desperate to fit in, its clothes and makeup a copied uniform rather than a personal statement. Just for starters, its protagonist is called ‘Eric Bane’. Please let that sink in.
Third person action
New costumes, a heavy machine gun and a launcher that fires combat knives are yours to claim in Saints Row 4 for zero cents on Steam today to celebrate/make fun of the launch of a certain other title. What was it now, VAGT? GAVT? You know, the one where Tony Soprano teams up with CJ from San Andreas and Lynch from Kane and Lynch to rob banks and play tennis.
Like previous Arkham games, Batman: Arkham Origins will get some fancy PhysX effects courtesy of Nvidia's saucy particle tech, because why have a cape at all if you can't swish it luxuriously through some heavy mist? Why litter your alleyways with newspaper scraps if they can't twitch and deform in the breeze? What's the point of pounding crims in snowy streets without slightly deformable snow to preserve the motion of your spinning face-kicks?
To be honest, I'd give all that up to maintain a stable framerate, but it's always nice to see PC ports getting a bit of extra love. The video below shows off the extra FX, and BONUS: it has Batman in it!
Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a stealth game of the robust, rule-based kind, where each environment is a puzzle waiting to be cracked. You slip snake cameras under doors or use sonar vision to get the lay of the land. Then, you pick a route and use the gadgets you’ve brought with you to eliminate each guard in order. Blacklist has more of old Splinter Cell in it than Conviction did, but it’s not a perfect revival of the series.
It’d really like it if you saw it that way, however. Sam Fisher has been plucked out of retirement, shaved, given some moisturiser, and plonked in charge of Fourth Echelon, a younger and sexier take on the spy agency from the original games. 4E roams the world in Paladin, a spy plane that enables Sam and a gang of new and old sidekicks to breach international law wherever and whenever they please.
Ubisoft are getting a taste for this narrated video lark. Only yesterday they were giving us nearly fifteen minutes of Watch Dogs footage. Now, it's Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag's turn, with ten minutes of pinching, pirating and harpooning. If you're not aware, Assassin's Creed is a third-person action series set in an alternate universe where people only ever fight one-on-one, even when there's a group. From the video, we see that this version will continue that politeness-to-a-fault tradition.
It was almost exactly one year ago that we heard anything from the ice-ridden third-person action-adventure Lost Planet 3. Last year's Gamescom trailer was surprisingly crisp, but those giant squealy bug things burrowed back into the snow and have lain dormant till now. A Steam pre-order campaign went up awhile ago without much fanfare, but now Lost Planet 3 is finally on the cusp of release, with North Americans gaining access to the series' newest addition on August 27. Hey, that's tomorrow!
Remember when hackers were fun? You know, in fictional and completely unrealistic films like Hackers. It was all neon clothes, industrial clubs, 3D operating systems, and people unironically calling themselves The Plague. Good, wholesome '90s fun. Watch Dogs isn't like that. Their hackers are angry, as you'll see from this latest trailer. They issue proclamations, and fight the corrupt abuse of national surveillance. They've probably never worn spandex in their lives.
This is more like it. So much of Splinter Cell: Blacklist's pre-release promotion has focused on plot, and characters, and lines like "we’re going to stop all the attacks”. Finally, we get a proper look at an aspect of the game it's worth caring about: the scope and variety with which you can approach each encounter. The "100 Ways to play" trailer might not offer quite that number of unique conflict resolutions, but it's still an encouraging look at what playing the game will involve.
This is the only game I’ve ever had to pause because I was laughing too much to play. I want to tell you about the exact section that caused me to crease up. I want to sit you down, do the voices, and perform a poor recreation of the whole thing. And I want you to know about the other hundred-odd moments that physically contorted my real-life face into real-life grins or my real-life mouth into real-life laughs.
I won’t tell you about all of them because I’ll spoil them. But I want you to know because they’re so joyful, so playful, that they turn this third sequel to an average Grand Theft Auto clone into one of the most fun videogames I’ve ever played.
Grand Theft Auto V steals its way onto the current batch of consoles next month, and from everything Rockstar have shown so far, it's looking pretty good. A shame then, that a PC version still hasn't been announced - even if is history tells us we will eventually get our hands on the game. Now, though, a comment by Chris Evenden, Nvidia's senior director of investor relations, may be hinting at a sooner-than-expected PC release.
Saints Row 4 was already pretty high on my list of things I absolutely have to own. While the demo version I played had some lackluster moments, the promise of a more absurdly tuned version of Saints Row: The Third is more than enough to keep me interested. That anticipation has now risen to near-unbearable levels, thanks to the revelation that the game has The Safety Dance on its soundtrack. Also some songs that aren't The Safety Dance, if you can bring yourself to care about those.
There are a number of questions that surround each Assassin's Creed release. Questions like, "where will it be set?" Or, "will I get to stab a person?" Or, "which glowing trinket will I be asked to collect one hundred of?" Less common are questions surrounding the series' overarching story. Nevertheless, Ubisoft have confirmed that there is a plot arc, and that its ending has already been mapped out.
Saints Row 4 - which as I understand is not a biblical rowing simulator, but rather an open world WTF-'em-up - got a big ol' livestream the other day courtesy of developers Volition. See a man drive a car into a variety of things, see another man wield a giant purple dildo, and gawk at some of the game's seemingly quite fleshed-out minigames in this recording of the event, which as a bonus lets you skip ahead during some of the more boring bits. Australians: this is what the real Saints Row looks like, in case you were wondering.
Saints Row 4 now has a slightly more innocent twin, and it's planning a backpacking trip to Australia after its lewder brother was twice denied entry. Following the Australian Classification Board's decision to give the absurd sequel a "Refused Classification" status - effectively banning it from sale - developer Deep Silver Volition have released a "slightly modified" version, which, according to local distributor AIE Interactive, has been awarded an MA15+ rating.
I can't imagine many of the players who glided, swooped and pounced through the previous Arkham games stopped to imagine what it would be like to control one of the many anonymous, psychotic thugs. But, as this new trailer reveals, Batman: Arkham Origins plans to deliver on the experience anyway - with an asymmetrical "3v3v2" multiplayer, developed by Splash Damage. Players will fill the rosters of the Joker and Bane's gangs, hunting down a third two-man team comprised of Batman and Robin.
Check back later to read Evan's impressions of this newly announced multiplayer mode.
Tread lightly, for I have bundled so much Castlevania news into this post, that at any moment it could burst into a grotesque shower of spiders, gothic scenery, and weirdly angry coffins with legs. Konami released a selection of screenshots for the updated, polished, and DLC-bundling Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Ultimate Edition. Have a browse through, and anticipate the weird things you'll get to slice come the demo, which, according to the game's Facebook page, is due for a Steam summoning tomorrow.
Then, when you've filled your eyes with the horrors of 2010; gaze into the future courtesy of the extra screens depicting the PC-confirmed Lords of Shadow 2, due out this November.
Will Australians be allowed to play a silly game about a hyper-violent US President in a hyper-violent perversion of reality, trapped in a hyper-violent riff on the Matrix? Previously, the answer was a flat no. Saints Row 4's inclusion of alien anal probes and beneficial drug pick-ups caused the game to be 'awarded' the country's first "Refused Classification" status. Deep Silver had since re-submitted the title, hoping to slip it through with all the unfiltered absurdity intact. The final ruling has now been made, and the answer, unfortunately, is still no.
For a game all about hacking, it's, well... unsurprising that Watch Dogs is now attempting to hack into our wallets. If successful, it will leave a dent approximately $130 big, so let's hope that the Limited Edition's extra goods are enough to patch up the gaping hole left behind. Will it also comfort you to know that Watch Dogs won't require internet connectivity? Because that, too.
"You wanna be a space ninja?"
That was the cry Digital Extremes PR settled on at PAX when tempting booth loiterers to play Warframe, a PvE third person shooter involving space ninjas. Turns out, because booth loiterers are only human, the answer was a resounding yes.
The game is currently in open beta and has been since March. You might have seen it hovering around the periphery of the Steam most-played top ten and, occasionally, venturing in. With its ninth update the developers announced 3 million registered accounts and you might see anything from 10,000 to 30,000 concurrent players on its servers.
And now it's time for our semi-regular feature: let's all close our eyes and hope really hard that Beyond Good & Evil 2 is going to happen some day, despite the lack of firm confirmation or evidence to suggest that it will. It worked for Mirror's Edge 2 dammit, it can work for this - and series creator Michael Ancel is only too happy to fuel our optimism. This time, he's suggesting the game could be re-announced in the next year.