Dragon Age: Inquisition Has Arrived


DragonAgeInquisition

I’ve not been buying that many games this year, but this is one little title from EA’s BioWare I know I must have and play before year’s end. That title is the third game in their fantasy rpg series Dragon Age.

Dragon Age: Inquisitor will mark the arrival of BioWare onto the nextgen platforms (Xbox One, PS4) and looks to combine what was good with the first two titles in the series while trimming off what went wrong with those two.

The game already looks gorgeous from just clips and gameplay videos shown leading up to this release. If the title looks to expand on the world-building that has been laid down by the first two titles in the series then I should expect to be playing this game for at least a minimum of 80 hours, if not more.

Now, I just need to decide on race and class for my character.

Trailer: Titanfall (Official E3 Announcement)


Titanfall

Titanfall is the first title to come out of Respawn Entertainment. This is big news in the gaming community. It’s the title many have been waiting for not because it’s any good (it’s not out yet so no way to gauge whether its good or bad), but because of who is making it.

Respawn Entertainment is the studio made up of former Infinity Ward developers and it’s two co-founders after a very acrimonious split (which included lawsuits and counter-lawsuits) with parent company Activision. There’s little love-lost between these two groups. Those who left had wanted to make something other than another Call of Duty title while Activision only wanted more Call of Duty titles (it continues to be a billion-dollar money maker for the company).

So, it’s now 2013 and at this year’s E3 we finally get a glimpse at Titanfall and exactly what Respawn Entertainment wanted to make but couldn’t while they remained with Activision. It’s been called a mecha first-person shooter. It looks to try and combine the run-and-gun aspects of this team of developers’ Call of Duty and Medal of Honor lineage with some Mech action.

Titanfall looks great from the announcement trailer released today at the Microsoft E3 Presser. It looks to be a title being put in the forefront as one of the new Xbox One’s exclusive titles. This means if one wanted to play this title when it comes out they can only play it on the Xbox One (Xbox 360 for those not willing to adopt the new system early) and not on the PS3 or the upcoming PS4.

Titanfall looks to drop on the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows sometime in the Spring of 2014.

Mass Effect 3


I finished Mass Effect 3! The first video game I’ve ever finished! … Or, at least, for a long time.

Shall we talk about it?

Mass Effect 3 is (ostensibly, we know how sequels work these days) the conclusion to the story of one Commander Shepard, a human of exceptional skill, whose whole history is determined by the player. Shepard has journeyed long and hard to make people aware of the threat posed by the Reapers, synthetics bent on annihilating all organic life. From what I’ve seen, Mass Effect 3 is receiving decidedly mixed reviews. I think most of the negativity is oriented toward the ending, and we’ll talk about that later, but I’m going to start with a list of things that are ‘to like’ about this game. Even though if you have even the slightest interest in the franchise, you’ve already bought it.

Mass Effect 3 improves on the gameplay of Mass Effect 2.

Let that statement hang in the air for a moment. Why? Because I already thought Mass Effect 2’s gameplay was incredible; the game’s best feature, aside from its variety of characters and character interactions.

It still pads its play time by giving you lots of relatively minor quests, and forcing you to scan systems for ‘War Assets’ which involve running from Reaper forces and wasting a bunch of time. This is nothing new. After all, we drove the Mako around identically featureless planets in ME1, and we scanned for resources in ME2. The difference to me is that while we’re running around the Citadel recovering missions in ME3, we’re also subjected to background conversations between the inhabitants of that great space station. Their lives are affected by the war, and overhearing snippets of conversation lets us understand how so. It drew me into the setting of a (seemingly) hopeless war more than any activity aboard the Normandy. After all, Commander Shepard runs a stealth vessel with the most deadly folks around aboard. We don’t have any reason to fear the Reaper forces for the most part, because we’re better than they are. But on the Citadel, the Everyman is on the run. The Everyman fears that they will never see loved ones again.

In a holding area for Refugees, there’s a teenage girl waiting for her parents who has a variety of conversations with a C-Sec officer about her parents, and their transport, and when it’s going to arrive. It’s kind of heartwrenching. But also extremely appropriate.

In the field I suspect players will find much to like. The variety of enemy types is vastly improved over Mass Effect 2, as you combat the forces of the Reapers (now with more than just Husks and minibosses!), the forces of Cerberus (who are varied and deadly, very appropriate) and the traditional Geth opponents as well. I often felt that ME2’s opposition was pretty vanilla, but the unique properties of the enemies in ME3 make them feel much more varied even if (as I suspect) the actual number of “different” enemy types is not much different. The variety of powers IS improved, and now re-implements the use of grenades (an odd omission from ME2!) while keeping the basic gameplay mechanics of the second game intact. The most tangible difference is that you can now see Shepard’s hit points reflected in a bar with five segments. Once a segment is totally depleted, it only replenishes with the use of Medi-Gel. This is a significant feature of the game, especially on the harder difficulties.

Weapon upgrades are back with a vengeance. They operate like they did in the original Mass Effect, only +1. Now, you can acquire more advanced versions of weapons, and install increasingly powerful upgrades, to customize weapons to fit your playstyle. All classes now wield any weapon you like, with the newly devised penalty of heavier weapons slowing the recharge time of your special powers. So, a Biotic Adept is fully free to carry a sniper rifle and assault rifle, but it may mean that their Singularity cools down three times slower. Is that trade-off worth it? The answer is no, but it’s still definitively up to the player.

I was favourably impressed with the character moments and interactions in this game. Your own mileage will vary based on choices in previous games (and yes, while I have heard complaints that your choices don’t have a significant enough impact on the ending, they certainly have a significant impact on the game at large) but I was treated to a number of unexpectedly poignant and emotional character moments from both new and old faces. To me, this is the best work BioWare has done yet in terms of the characters involved… perhaps even exceeding Dragon Age II (although that entire game is so character-based, it’s a tough comparison). Some may be disappointed that many of the discussions no longer involve choosing options on the conversation wheel, but rather just talking it out after the fashion of conversations with companions Zaeed Massani and Kasumi Goto in Mass Effect 2.

I hesitate to say more, because it’s a story game, and I won’t be the one to spoil things for those who haven’t completed it.

Multiplayer!

Yes, there is now a multiplayer mode. It feeds the single player in that you can use any multiplayer character of level 20 as a War Asset, and in that it improves your Galactic Readiness score. For anyone who is wondering why your Galactic Readiness sits at a mediocre 50%, this is why! The multiplayer mode is a horde-styled mode where you fight against any of the three enemy forces (Geth, Cerberus, or Reaper) on one of several small maps, over the course of 10 waves, and then a “bonus” wave in which your squad waits for extraction. Three difficulty levels are available, which mirror normal, hardcore, and insanity level enemies, and thereby force different tactics to be used by the players.

I’d heard rumours that the single player was also supposed to support the multiplyer, but I’ve seen no evidence of that.

If you’re into Horde modes, you’ll almost certainly enjoy the multi-player here. Just be aware that you’ll have to work your way through a lot of matches to earn weapons and characters if you want the full experience, and getting a character to level 20, while not hard per se, can be time consuming. If you’re only looking to supplement your single player experience, your mileage will vary with the multiplayer mode.

And that’s where I’ll stop. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions, but I certainly don’t want to spoil the game for you. Just know that it’s a good game, and I hope you like it.

Trailer: Mass Effect 3 (Launch Trailer)


It’s the Day of Days for gamers worldwide as one of the most-anticipated games of this generation finally comes out.

Mass Effect 3 completes the sci-fi rpg trilogy from BioWare and with each game’s release the need from gamers just continued to increase. At the stroke of midnight on March 6, 2012 EA and BioWare held official release events at four different locations around the United States as hundreds, if not thousands, of gamers braved cold nights to be the first to get their hands on the final leg of Cmdr. Shepard’s journey to save the galaxy from the extragalactic mechanical race intent on harvesting all living organisms from the galaxy as they’ve done every 50,000 years.

The last couple of weeks have seen several trailers and tv spots marketing and hyping up the game as it led to today. BioWare ends the wait by releasing one last trailer and it’s simply called the “Launch Trailer” and to say that it is epic would be just the tip of the iceberg.

Enough talking…Time to take Earth back!

Trailer: Mass Effect 3 “Take Earth Back” (Live-Action Trailer)


Last week we saw the cinematic “Take Earth Back” trailer for the upcoming Mass Effect 3 rpg title from BioWare and EA. During tonight’s latest episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead we got to see another trailer for this upcoming game. This time around we get a live-action trailer about Earth being visited upon by the main antagonists of the series and that’s the giant, extragalactic biomechanical alien race who call themselves “The Reapers”.

For a live-action trailer this one does a great job at emphasizing the fact that Earth is royally screwed and that the player in the guise of Cmdr. Shepard must lead an army to take it back from the brink of destruction. I like how even in this future Earth once the proverbial crap hits the fan everyone will begin to riot instead of actually trying to band together to fight the invaders.

Mass Effect 3 is set for a March 6, 2012 North American release date.

Trailer: Mass Effect 3 “Take Earth Back”


During one of the many commercial breaks for February 19th’s episode of The Walking Dead audiences were treated to the premiere of a trailer for one of 2012’s most-anticipated video games.

Mass Effect 3 is the final title in the series trilogy that first began five years ago with the Mass Effect title. The series has just gotten bigger since then with the second title selling even more and improving on the first game. This third title looks to tie-up all the storylines begun with the first two games and finish them off in the only way possible: EPIC.

This trailer is simply called “Take Earth Back” and we see just why it’s called just that. The Reapers (extragalactic robotic beings of extreme intelligence who scour the galaxy of all living life every 50,000 years or so and this time they’re returning with their sights set on taking on the homeworld of the person who has tried to stop them from returning: Earth. We see much in this trailer from major cities being destroyed by giant Reaper ships then to the arrival of Cmdr. Shepard and his allies to take on the possessed “Husks” of aliens the Reaper has turned against everyone.

The game has been hyped since the second game ended and this trailer just adds to that as we get nearer to the title’s March 6, 2012 release date. This trailer preaches to the loyal and should go a long way to helping convince those still on the fence to pick it up.

Trailer: Mass Effect 3 – N7 Collector’s Edition Details


BioWare’s Mass Effect scifi rpg series has been a hit right from the start. The first two titles in the planned trilogy for the series (some have been calling it the Cmdr. Shepard Trilogy) have been received with a near universal acclaim for gameplay and it’s unique way of storytelling. In my opinion, this series has been one of the few which has begun to bridge the gap between gaming and storytelling where both have become integral part in making the series a success.

The third game has been one of the most-anticipated titles by gaming fans everywhere and just months away from release. The trailer above shows all the cool extras for those who pre-order the very limited N7 Collector’s Edition which will ship with the regular version of Mass Effect 3. Some of the extras mentioned seem more like fun fluff, but the classified extra character and the mission attached to them will be one of the highlights not to mention the robotic Geth-looking dog and the extra exclusive weapons.

Mass Effect 3: N7 Collector’s Edition is set for a March 9, 2012 release date with a price of $80.00.

You can be damned skippy sure that I’ve gotten my pre-order all confirmed and paid off.

Trailer: Battlefield 3 “Above and Beyond the Call w/ Jay-Z”


(All video footage ACTUAL GAMEPLAY)

The time for the final push to hype up the upcoming first-person shooter from EA and DICE has begun.

Battlefield 3 gets a brand-new TV ad spot which touts the title’s actual gameplay and the strength of it’s new graphics engine with Frostbite 2.0. To better give the ad a particular hook it uses Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” track to some great effect. The video shows the three different gameplay choices a player can have during single-player and multiplayer gaming: foot soldier, helicopter gunship and fighter pilot and tank driver.

As the tv spot has pointed out — plus the video below showing some multiplayer gameplay — Battlefield 3 has been the consensus best shooter to be seen by industry people at all the gaming shows and conventions this year. Whether the title will knock Activision’s Call of Duty franchise off it’s lofty perch still has to be seen, but if there’s a game that could begin the process of doing it then Battlefield 3 may just be it.

Battlefield 3 slated for an October 25, 2011 release date for the Xbox 360, Windows PC and PS3.

Gamescom 2011: Battlefield 3 “Caspian Border” Multiplayer Gameplay


I’ve been hyped and itching to get my hands on Battlefield 3 for months now, but still have a little over 2 months to go before I get that chance. Until then EA and DICE (Digital Illusions CE) have come up with another way to tease it’s fans by using Gamescom 2011 over at Germany a new video footage of actual gameplay (using an earlier alpha build of the game). This time around it’s not in-game footage of the single-player campaign. What we get instead is two whole minutes of wargasmic in-game footage showing the game’s multiplayer mode (64-players playing at once over on the PC while the Xbox 360 and the PS3 get 24-player limit for ground fighting).

The footage is of the mulitplayer map simply called “Caspian Border” and it’s a multiplayer game being fought not just between players as foot-soldiers, but also driving armored vehicles, jeeps, tanks and helicopter gunships. But what got me really going is the fact that air-to-air combat with jets. I don’t mean those white-and-green wearing, following the fat, blowhard who has no rings to kiss Jets, but jet fighters performing deadly aerial ballet with their opposing number.

I think if there is ever one reason to pick up Battlefield 3 over Activision’s upcoming title to their juggernaut of a FPS franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, then this gameplay footage with the jets will be one major reason. I may just practice flying those jets for multiplayer and shout “Tally Ho!” over the mike when ambushing another player in their jet.

Battlefield 3 is still set for an October 25, 2011 release date in North America with Europe and the rest of the world getting it the following days.

Review: NCAA Football 12


Yes, it’s that time of year everyone. Football season looms … at least, it does for the thousands of student athletes within the NCAA system. The NFL is still in limbo, even if it now appears inevitable (although either way, it won’t slow down the annual Madden release). Now, let me preface this review by saying that I don’t actually enjoy college football. I find the poor defensive play and imbalanced match-ups boring, and I hate the way that the BCS standings come together over the course of a season. The fact that the Big East has an automatic bid is a bad joke, etc. All of this is probably because I never attended a university where college football mattered. But absolutely none of that counts in the world of video games!

As a visceral experience, there’s a lot to be said for the college football style. Here, we still live in a world where running the football can be king, and a world in which the QB option (in a shocking variety of forms) can still be a primary offensive tool. Teams suffer every year from playing the service academies (who still run the triple option) because defending it is so different from the spread, or even the spread option, that most teams run. If you’re looking for a football experience where all of these systems are in play, then you should run — not walk — toward NCAA Football 12. Of course, most people are more NFL fans than NCAA fans, if the numbers are to be believed… but the one thing that the video game version will always have over Madden is that it isn’t quite so formulaic. We’re dealing with an eclectic mixture of offenses and defenses. If you care to start a dynasty (and the dynasty features are outstanding in the new version. In NCAA Football 12 we’re treated to the full coaching experience. More on that in a bit.) you have a ton of player turnover, which can make it difficult to have a consistent program. I suppose it’s probably easier if you’re a fan of Alabama or Florida. I’m not, so this title has a refreshing ‘battle uphill’ feel, especially in the Dynasty Mode.

The flagship promotion for this game has to do with the authentic recreations of the university celebrations, pre-game ceremonies, etc. It deserves to be the most outstanding feature. Granted, it has absolutely no effect on game-play, but one of the things that sets college football apart from the professional game is the sheer number of teams in play – each with their own unique celebrations, entries, and whatever else – who have their own tradition. If that kind of personalized experience doesn’t faze you, then you won’t find much of note has changed between iterations of this game. The graphics are still in the same generation, we have the same playbooks, the announcers have actually become less interesting (which may be a selling point, depending on your point of view – Lee Corso has made his departure), and there are no real innovations in game-play. The tackling feels slightly more authentic — that is, there’s less magnet tackling — and the AI that guides defensive players in zone defenses is dramatically improved over the 2011 version of this title. You can actually feel pretty confident when calling cover 3 defense… of course, this goes double for the AI player, who aggressively bats down passes (but mercifully doesn’t seem to randomly intercept any more). Still, the game emphasizes more than ever the value of lofting a pass high to avoid marauding defenders as opposed to just firing laser beam passes from point A to point B.

Outstanding features include the Dynasty mode. Returning are the online dynasty features, which were a huge improvement in last year’s title… but massively upgraded are the single player versions. You can now create your own coaching avatar who can hold the position of Offensive/Defensive Coordinator, or Head Coach, at a university of your choice – but who is held accountable for the team’s performance. The university has expectations, and you can experience first-hand being on the coaching hot seat and being fired from your job. Of course, if you’re good enough at the game, this is hardly a concern… but it does add a fascinating dynamic to the experience – a bad recruiting class could still doom you! If you are fired, you end up on the coaching carousel looking for a new job. It’s definitely a cool feature, even if you probably won’t run into it much.

The other game mode which received a significant overhaul is the Road to Glory mode. As always, you create a single player, and advance from a top-rated high school prospect through your collegiate career at whatever university. However, this time around, the experience is much more interactive. We’re treated with a game mode that allows us to fully develop a single player in a much more immersive way than in previous installments. Your created player will gain experience and skills — as always — but also adapt to (or be moved into) a specific role on the team. I imagine this is a much more authentic recreation of what going out for Div 1 sports is really like… but you tell me.

The game does take a significant step back in terms of calling audibles. I would say that the player is given more freedom than ever in terms of setting up audibles (with the addition of custom playbooks) but gone are the menus that actually tell you which button push calls what. Or, at least, they were absent for me. It seems like a senseless change, and one that left me feeling pretty bitter through my Dynasty play… when I had to frequently consult my audible chart in order to keep track of what I was calling, and when. If I could remember all of this playart, I’d probably be playing Div 1 football myself.

As always, this game will synergize with the Madden release in terms of draft classes, as the Madden schedule continues uninterrupted. Definitely worth a pick-up if you’re starved for some video game football, or if you consider yourself a college ball fan.