Six Activision Games You Haven't Heard Of

Posted on October 10, 2010

Activision’s Minneapolis office might not get as much attention as the company proper, but it’s home to one of the most diverse gaming portfolios around. In the next few months, the publisher will be releasing a helicopter sim and a hunting game; titles based on the on Bakugan, Monster Jam, and iCarly licenses; and a post-apocalyptic car-combat game.

Some of the team members at Activision Minneapolis stopped by our offices recently, and we were able to check out their upcoming lineup. Here’s what you need to know about each of those games.

Blood Drive (PS3, 360)
Take the car-smashing combat of a Twisted Metal and throw in a few hundred zombies, and you end up with Blood Drive. This over-the-top game is definitely a far cry from Activision Minneapolis’ traditionally family-friendly offerings.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Blood Drive pits eight crazy characters and their specialized rides against each other in a rambunctious game show. Each of the 11 events takes place in one of the game’s six large Las Vegas-themed environments, including abandoned (and overrun) airplane hangars, derelict parking structures, and industrial wastelands. Sometimes your goal is to slaughter as many of the undead as you can before the clock ticks down. Other times, you might need to focus your attention on your demented fellow humans. Regardless of who your victim is, the action is fast and explosive.

The characters are based on tropes we’re all familiar with—disco aficionado, psychotic mental patient, faceless maniac—and their vehicles are equally outlandish. Bedlam, who looks like he walked off the set of a Mad Max movie, drives the Doom Buggy, a speedy little pest armed with a machine gun. Superstar (the disco guy) is at the wheel of a purple and gold-plated roadster. In addition to taking those default weapons into battle, players can choose one of 10 loadouts to suit their playstyle. If you like smashing into your opponents, picking the Tank option increases the amount of ammo you can carry, along with increasing your car’s durability and damage caused by impacts, for example.

Weapon pickups also litter the game’s environments, including explosive blow-up dolls, harpoons, and the ever-popular rocket launchers.

While most of the walking dead in Blood Drive are of the limping idiot variety, there are four total archetypes to face. Shamblers are the basic enemies, though their outfits—including Elvis impersonators, cocktail waitresses, and strippers—set them apart from their non-Vegas counterparts. Leapers bound into the air in hopes of landing on cars. From there, they love tearing armor plates off and causing damage. Lobbers throw toxic ooze at anyone unfortunate enough to drive by them. The most fearsome undead are the behemoths, who use shoulder charges and powerful fist slams to leave their mark on competitors.

Blood Drive is definitely silly stuff, and anyone who’s ever played a car-combat game will feel right at home. There’s something cathartic about slamming into zombies with a car, a feeling the developers at Sidhe obviously know all too well.

Dangerous Hunts 2011 (PS3, 360, Wii)
Activision is taking the Cabela’s Dangerous Hunt series in an interesting direction with the latest installment. In the past, the games have presented a high-octane version of hunting, with players stalking some of nature’s most terrifying predators. That hasn’t changed, but the way that hunters will actually do their business has.

Dangerous Hunts 2011 supports a new gun peripheral, called the Top Shot Elite. The device is available on the three platforms the game is releasing on—the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360. The Wii version is essentially a shell, in which the remote and nunchuk slide in. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions are standalone units, which pack in most of the traditional controller functionality—including analog sticks—and connect to consoles via a Wii-like sensor bar.

Players move and strafe using the analog stick positioned on the peripheral’s stock, and turn by pointing the target cursor to the edges of the screen. Players who haven’t experienced similar control schemes on Wii FPS games might need a few minutes to get accustomed to it, but it works quite well overall. Players can also use traditional controllers if they have a preference for more ordinary controls or if the additional cost is an obstacle.

The campaign kicks off with an attack from a mysterious white beast, and then follows a family of hunters. The father survived that fateful attack in 1982, and how he’s testing his sons on a hunting expedition in Alaska. The player takes on the role of the son who doesn’t quite fit in—he’s not a sharpshooter like his brother, and his father isn’t quite sure of his place. Brad Santos, writer of the Saboteur, wrote Dangerous Hunts 2011’s story, and while the production values aren’t as high as in a Call of Duty, its story is definitely better than what we’ve seen in other hunting games.

Dangerous Hunts has been given a style overhaul as well, and while it’s not survival horror in the strictest sense of the term, it’s close enough. In past games, players have jetted around the world and shot a bunch of animals. Sure, they may have been threatening villagers or causing pandemonium, but it often felt like a carnival shooting gallery—with bigger teeth. This time around, players have to negotiate some pretty creepy locations, such as moonlit forests, as they’re getting stalked. There are jump scares aplenty as birds are flushed from bushes, and more tangible threats such as watching wolves circle around before orchestrating their attacks.

In addition to the story, fans of bar-type shooting galleries can play a series of challenges, either in co-op or alone, in which steady streams of critters pop onto the screen and run off. These levels have a distinct arcade feel, with bonus multiplayers and powerups such as slow motion. They’re a fun diversion from the campaign, but they’re clearly not the meat of the experience.

Apache: Air Assault (PS3, 360)
Apache: Air Assault lets players take to the skies in the Boeing AH-64D helicopter and a few variants while fighting fictional terrorists across the globe. It’s being developed by Gaijin Entertainment, the Russian studio behind IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, and it looks to offer a similar balance between being an arcade action game with a few sim elements.

Players travel from Afghanistan to Central America and the coast of Africa as they progress through 16 campaign missions. There are various enemy factions in the game, including run-of-the-mill terrorists and drug cartels, and it’s up to you and your team of private military contractors to put a stop to their wicked ways.

Pilots have access to a variety of weapons systems and other gadgets, including guided missiles, rockets, and machine guns with exploding rounds. The camera switches to what a real-world gunner might see from their backseat position in the cockpit when using some of the weapons, which is a nice touch. Better yet, players can enlist a friend to serve as a dedicated gunner, sharing the same screen—a move that’s certain to require plenty of coordination and cooperation.

Even though the game is essentially a combat-based flight game, there’s a fair amount of mission variety. Early on, we were tasked with defending our base from an onslaught of enemy missile strikes. After that, we had to head over to a checkpoint, destroying enemy convoys along the way. Other missions have pilots clearing paths for friendly trucks and ensuring they reach their destinations safely. In one particularly interesting mission, we provided cover support for a group of commandos who were raiding a terrorist position on an oil rig. It was dark, and we had to switch to a night-vision mode. Hovering near the action we had to tear enemy combatants apart while making sure we didn’t open fire on friendlies—a tough distinction to make in black and white, even though our commandos were equipped with strobe indicators.

In addition to the campaign, Apache: Air Assault offers 13 squad operations missions, which are standalone experiences with leaderboard tracking. These support up to four players working cooperatively.

Go to Source (Game Informer)

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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets

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