Building A Better Sci-Fi Game

Posted on February 27, 2011

When it comes to video games, sci-fi fans have always been
blessed. Not only has there always been an abundance of games set in the final
frontier, but select sci-fi franchises have played an important role in the
industry. Shooters like Halo, Resistance, and Killzone have been trumpeted by Microsoft
and Sony as reasons to buy their respective consoles, and there’s no shortage
of gamers who would call Mass Effect their favorite current-gen RPG series and
StarCraft II their favorite RTS. But whenever I play a game set “where no man
has gone before,” I can’t help feeling to the contrary, due to some key sci-fi characteristics
that haven’t been fully explored by the industry. Caution: This will be the
nerdiest thing you read today.

Flexing Your Creative

To me, the most valuable attribute that a sci-fi story affords
its creators and consumers is the unabashed creativity that the fiction can
support. When you’re dealing with outer space, no sci-fi gadget is too
impractical and no alien too ridiculous. The original Star Trek television series reveled in its own absurdity, and was the
better for it, but most sci-fi games are surprisingly practical.

It’s not that franchises
like Halo and Resistance lack creativity, but many of their design choices feel
like they’re driven by necessity, with aliens broken down into familiar enemy
types, and weapons that conform to common gameplay mechanics. I don’t just want
to play a game with creative elements — I want a game that celebrates its

The Mass Effect series does an admirable job of striking a
Star Trek-esque vibe with its wide array of
sentient species — you never know what kind of strange creature you’ll
encounter at the next space port. Unfortunately, you only interact with most of
these creatures through a dialogue tree, and Mass Effect’s gameplay is standard

Making a game that plays well will always be a developer’s
top priority, so it’s understandable that some concessions need to be made when
crafting an out-of-this-world adventure. However, if you really want to capture
the attention of a sci-fi nerd like me, don’t be afraid to have fun with your
fiction. Seemingly impractical design choices can spark interesting histories and
politics for your aliens and worlds. It’s better to be campy and interesting
than too serious and boring.

Space Is The Place:
Here’s the thing: a lot of science fiction may be full of ultra-powerful
weapons and exotic alien babes, but there’s really only one fantasy that
defines the genre — exploring the unknown. When Luke stares wistfully at Tatooine’s
setting suns, he’s not thinking about how to best conserve his ammo or what ship
upgrades he wants to invest in. He’s yearning to experience something beyond the
constraints of his boring life. In a way, that’s the same reason many of us
play video games, but somehow sci-fi games always seem to muck up their sense
of exploration and discovery.

Both installments of Mass Effect managed to make exploring
the galaxy a grind. The Mako sequences from the first game let you feel what it
was like to set foot on an alien world, but every planet you went to was
painfully barren. It may have been realistic from a scientific standpoint, but
if exploring a planet is so boring that it feels like a chore, you’ve missed
the point.

In a way, Mass Effect 2 was even worse; it forwent hands-on
exploration for a tedious mineral scanning minigame. Occasionally you could land on a planet for
an impromptu mission, but these were comprised of linear levels that
played out like any other shooter.

Virtually every sci-fi game on the market tasks players with
the same mission: Save the planet/galaxy/universe from certain doom! Compare
that to the mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise,
which most nerds probably have memorized: “To explore strange new worlds, to
seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone
before.” Which sounds more fun to you? I’ve already saved the world more times
than I can count — let me discover a new one instead.

Exploring Minecraft’s blocky worlds is more fun than most sci-fi games

As odd as it may sound, the game that I think best captures the
excitement of discovering a strange new planet isn’t a sci-fi game at all — it’s
Minecraft. Every player who starts Mojang’s sandbox game is given his or her own
unique world, and gameplay strikes a perfect mix between exploration and
survival. And you can forget mineral scanning — Minecraft makes gathering
resources fun and rewarding at the same time. Throw in some rudimentary tools
that allow you to create your own structures, and it’s no wonder over a million
gamers have already bought the beta.

If a sci-fi game could translate Minecraft’s
essence into discovering and colonizing alien worlds, it wouldn’t need
action-packed set pieces or a plot that places the universe in peril — the sense
of spreading humanity’s reach through the galaxy would be satisfying enough. Not
that shooting some aliens every now and then would be a bad thing…

Up Next: Ships, Squads, and Space Combat…

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Launch Diary: Now With Even More Video!

Posted on February 27, 2011

Rift’s head start for pre-orders and collector’s editions is live, and we’re finally playing after dealing with some mild initial patching and server load issues. Check back for updates to see what kind of pithy one-liners Adam’s journey through Telara is inspiring him to post. Latest update: 02.25.11 | 1742

The newest updates will always be at the bottom.

Alternatively, follow Adam on Twitter (@abiessener) for real-time updates.

Not sure if you’re into Rift’s fantasy MMO style? Check out the cinematic trailer for a taste.

02.23.11 | 1422: Install…patch…patch invalid. Whee!

02.24.11 | 2330: Three hour queue, no thanks. My guild sure can pick a server.

02.25.11 | 0800: It’s 8 a.m. and there’s still a queue for my server. It’s four people long, but the principle of the thing is what matters here.

0814: The character creator isn’t bad, but it fails to capture the fullness of my glorious beard. Still, I’m pretty happy with my soon-to-be-mage.

0819: So I’ve been brought back to life as some kind of awesome magical cyborg who consumes the souls of the fallen? Sweet.

0822: Okay, my initial scan of the lore may be slightly off. Even so, the Defiant base is bitchin’.

0825: All of the souls available to me sound amazing. See, souls are like WoW talent trees. You collect them and merge up to three of them (eventually, I’m as newbie as a kitten now so I only get the one) to create your own unique class. Pyromancer, Warlock, Chloromancer, and Archon all seem totally kick ass but they lose out to Stormcaller. Because, well, Stormcaller.

0844: What the hell is this thing? I haven’t even drawn my staff to throw out my first baby lightning bolt and this monstrosity is wrecking a bunch of dudes right here.

0850: Okay, yeah, this is totally giving me the new awesome MMO shivers. Squee!

0925: Too much time spent writing this, not enough time playing. Need to shoot things with lightning.

0930: Twitter integration! Woo!

0953: The one thing that sticks out to me so far is how many little things I appreciate as a long-time MMO player. Like how my racial is a short-cooldown out-of-combat sprint — it’s so much easier to get around as a lowbie. Chat functionality is fantastic. My spells (yeah, Stormcaller rules) interact in interesting ways from level two. The lore is available (and surprisingly not stupid), but not shoved in your face. I’m enjoying the hell out of this so far.

1006: Oh, awesome. If you happen to pull a bunch of guys you didn’t think would aggro together and get squished — not that I’m so much of a newb to ever do that, of course — you get a once-per-hour delayed self-resurrect. Corpse runs are so 2005.

1038: Made it back through the time portal to stop the apocalypse. One newbie mage against the Destroyer of Worlds or whatever he’s called. What could go wrong?

1158: Did some leveling and rift-stomping. The world feels more dynamic than in anything else I’ve played. Rifts are very similar to Warhammer Online’s public quests, yes, but seem to be implemented better. So far I’m joining huge raids in the crowded post-tutorial newbie zone and not doing much more than spamming instants, but that’s okay. There’s a giant invasion going on right now, with monsters trying to overrun our Defiant defenses at two different locations and rifts spawning all over the place. As far as I can tell, about 80 percent of the players in the zone are running around trying to deal with it. It’s pretty awesome. I keep getting distracted from my questing.

Super Bonus Update: Hey, my video finished rendering and uploading! Check out the newbie tutorial rift that caps off the intro zone and sends you to the “real” world below.

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1419: Used my free respec to switch to a Chloromancer-focused build, and holy cow it’s incredible. Just hit level 10 with it, and I went from “hey this soul is kinda neat” to “I guess I’ll kill everything and drain all my health back and never ever die.” The skill chains and interactions between abilities at level 10 in Rift are around what you’d get at level 40 in World of Warcraft. I’m loving the combat, the dynamic events, and the overall polish of the game so far. Then again, I was saying a lot of the same things for the first 40 or so hours of Warhammer Online, and look how that turned out.

1544: Dealt with my first major invasion. What happens here is that a bunch of rifts and invasions spawn across an entire zone, and everyone in range gets a public quest to defeat invaders, seal rifts, and eventually kill the boss. In the one I participated in, we had to seal 10 rifts, defeat 25 invasions, kill 1,000 creatures, and then deal with something called Grimnir. This was much better than regular rifts; the monsters were tougher and the number of invaders was better scaled to the number of players we had fighting back. I even died once! I’m still fairly positive on the dynamic content in Rift so far, but I’m curious to see how it balances out once there isn’t such a huge concentration of players in just a few zones.

Super Bonus Update 2: Another video finished! Here’s a brief look at what an invasion looks like. It’s not a rift, with the giant glowing sky blob spawning monsters — instead, this is a set of elite monsters that come into town and try to kill everyone. It’s nice to see the dynamic content not being limited to rifts themselves, even right away in the newbie zone.

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1633: Guess what a group of opposite-faction level 20+ characters were doing in the newbie zone! If you said anything but “spamming emotes and killing questgivers over and over,” turn in your MMO card right now because duh. Oh well, I’ve been wanting to make it out to the capital city for a while now. Meridian is pretty cool, and holds all the stuff you expect: bankers, class trainers, profession masters, daily questgivers, faction bosses, etc. One cool thing: guild weekly quests. You can pick one of a couple — there’s a PvP one, a dungeon one, and what I think is a rift-focused one — for your guild to work toward collectively for the week. Neato.

1701: Torched a major water invasion. This one was close. Three of our four Wardstones fell to the invaders before we could finish off the boss. Between all the different combats taking place across the whole zone, we must have had over a hundred players working together toward this one. Awesome stuff. Going to try to get some more game in tonight and put together a big post on my overall thoughts after a day of Rift, so check back tomorrow for more.

Super Bonus Update 3 (1742): More video! This is a small slice of the water invasion I was talking about just now. Looks very different from the death rifts I’d been fighting previously. I love how I get to pump out a ton of passive healing to my whole raid just by beating on enemies with thunderbolts and spore waves and keeping my debuffs up. Chloromancer is so much fun.

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The Hidden Costs Of Gaming

Posted on February 27, 2011

Any gamer knows the cost of gaming goes far beyond the sticker price of the console. Before you know it you’re dropping bills on extra controllers, batteries, online subscription fees – the list goes on. With 3D gaming, motion controls, and downloadable content increasing in prevalence, the cost of gaming continues to rise steadily. How much will an ambitious gamer spend beyond the initial console purchase? We break down the costs for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii.

PlayStation 3
Want to play games like Killzone 3 in 3D and blast through Helghast with Move? Play Uncharted 2 multiplayer online? Download movies and games to your hard drive? Watch Blu-rays in full HD? Here’s what it’ll cost:

Console: PlayStation 3 (160 GB, includes DualShock 3, AV cable, USB cable): $300

HDMI Cable: $10
3D TV: Sony BRAVIA 46”, 1080p, 3D LED-LCD HDTV $2,500
3D Glasses: Sony BRAVIA $150
Extra DualShock 3: $55
USB cable extension: $10
Bluetooth: $15
Game: $60

Estimated Total: $2800 + console = $3,100

Motion Control (2-Players)
Two PlayStation Move Controllers: $50/each ($100)
Two Navigation Controllers: $30/each ($60)
PlayStation Eye: $40

Estimated Total: $200

Grand total: $3,300

Basic PSN account ($0); PlayStation Plus ($50/year; $18/3 months)

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A Bloody Romp Through The Gears Of War 3 Multiplayer Beta

Posted on February 27, 2011

Last night I got my hands on the Gears of War 3 mutliplayer beta, and let me tell you, chainsawing guys in half is still a blast. The experience has improved dramatically from Gears of War 2 while still retaining the heavy, dramatic feel the series’ multiplayer is known for. Strap on your Cog armor and grab your lancer, here’s what you have to look forward to in Gears of War 3’s multiplayer.

One of the most important improvements to Gears of War’s multiplayer is also the least noticeable. Epic is addressing connectivity issues that fans complained about with Gears of War 2 by incorporating dedicated servers to the third entry. You no longer have to worry about rage quitters, imbalanced latency, or long waits in the match-making lobby.

The feel of Gears of War 3’s multiplayer gameplay has also been tweaked to shave off some of the sluggishness of the past games. By speeding up players, the gameplay feels more on par with reflex-based shooters, but without sacrificing the satisfying weight the Gears name is known for. Rolling in and out of cover, spinning to blast a foe with the gnasher shotgun, and navigating the maps feels a lot smoother than past iterations.

Grisly Arsenal

Several new toys join the reliable gnasher and lancer. The brand new sawed-off shotgun requires you to creep in twice as close to the opposition, but the reward is an instant kill that can reduce a pair of enemies to chunks with one shot. The sawed-off’s excruciatingly long reload time and inaccuracy balance out what would otherwise be an unfair weapon.

The retro lancer is an older model of the trusty chainsaw machine gun. It’s slightly less accurate than the modern lancer at medium to long range, but the deadly bowie knife bayonet makes up for it. Holding down the melee button with this weapon equipped makes your character break into a mad dash with the sharp steel aimed ahead of them, allowing you to instantly impale unaware enemies. The result was immensely satisfying each time I made this execution connect.

If you’re into gigantic, hip-slung weapons that reward patience and precision, the oneshot is for you. This huge cannon emits a yellow beam onto the battlefield, allowing you to draw a bead on the competition. A pull of the trigger turns the beam red and emits an ominous, high-pitched noise which signals that some unlucky fool will soon by liquefied. The oneshot can usually be found at high points on maps, and is well worth the climb.

Gears of War’s weapons have always been uniquely useful, but I’ve always felt it lacked an all-purpose tool. Thankfully, the semi-automatic hammerburst rifle is now equipped with iron sights, which makes it a handy firearm in almost any situation. Being able to zoom in with it on some of Gears 3’s larger maps is a godsend.

Beautiful Battlegrounds

Six multiplayer maps were available for play – Checkout, Thrashball, Mercy, Trenches, Overpass, and Old Town. Checkout and Thrashball are to be included in the multiplayer beta for sure, but the other two are up to you, so pay attention to the following descriptions. Also, keep in mind that at any point you can now access an overhead view of a map, allowing you to see the positions of your allies and weapon spawn points. This enhancement is perfect for players who don’t play enough to memorize each map.


A decrepit, bombed-out supermarket is the setting for this multiplayer map. Overturned shelves create an obstacle in the center, and scattered boxes and displays create varying lines of sight throughout the map. Though some long distance firing is possible if given a good angle, you’ll want to go with a personal weapon like the sawed-off or retro lancer here. A handful of offshoot rooms make the action even more claustrophobic.


Fight for your life on Cole’s old stomping grounds – a derelict Thrashball court. Tons of waist-high cover is littered throughout this athletic field, creating a map that mirrors the “battle of inches” feel of football. Smart players will duck into the hallways leading along the sides of the map to attempt to flank their foes. Given the map’s large amount of chokepoints, a few incendiary grenades could be deadly. Remember to aim for the huge, dangling scoreboard in the middle to squash your enemies into paste.


This map is a gigantic, symmetrical arena with a stretch of highway across the middle. Burnt out school bus carcasses and road signs litter the roads, and the area floods late in the match for a dramatic effect. You’ll want to bust out the hammerburst or lonshot sniper rifle for this big map, but keep the gnasher handy for a couple tight intersections. A deadly mulcher turret is perched at the top of the map, and if you allow the enemy to dig their heels in, you’ll be in for the fight of your life. Unfortunately, more than once I found myself spawning in the middle of a hail of gunfire, which never happened on the other maps.


Reminiscent of Spanish church’s courtyard, this beautiful map is the other large one in the bunch. A huge open area in the center is accented with a fountain, creating a great focal point for the map. Ruins are scattered along the sides of the map, forming broken hallways where things get up close and personal. There are several blind corners which are perfect for the sawed-off or a well timed retro lancer charge. Between the two larger maps – Mercy and Overpass – this one was much more enjoyable.


This map looks like ground zero of the Locust invasion. Unlike the other vibrant maps, it’s dirty and brown, giving it a classic Gears of War feel. Several narrow pathways are broken up with a few tight corners, so using cover is a constant necessity. A retro lancer or gnasher is ideal for this mid-sized map, and incendiary grenades are a great way to keep your foes at bay.

Old Town

This map contains many long stretches of road which twist and turn leading towards the center. The middle of the map is a close-quarters affair, which you’ll want to bust out your shotgun for. There aren’t many leverage points, so expect to grenade and pick away at your enemies while they dig in behind cover. This was the most aesthetically pleasing map, as it’s evocative of an old Spanish village which hasn’t been completely ravaged by the war.

Manic Modes

You’ll be playing a variety of modes across the many maps of Gears of War 3. Guardian and Submission modes have been combined to form Capture the Leader, which endows one player on each team with the ability to see the enemy. Opposing factions strive to incapacitate and take the enemy leader hostage. Now the kidnapped leader can struggle at opportune times to throw off their captor’s aim, or break free altogether if their keeper takes enough damage. The concussion of smoke grenades can also be used to free the hostage, so keep one handy in this mode.

Team Deathmatch is the bread and butter of the Gears 3 experience, in which two teams are allotted 20 spawns. Each team attempts to whittle the opposition’s remaining lives to zero, and the last team standing wins the round. The first side to win two rounds takes the prize.

King of the Hill is back as well, and it’s basically unchanged. Teams traverse the map looking for zones to control, which they then milk for points until they reappear elsewhere. This is a terrific way to learn which sections of maps make for good fortifications, and which leave you exposed.

Deadly Experience

Late after Gears of War 2’s launch Epic released a leveling system, but it was little more than a number. In Gears of War 3, Epic wants to reward you tangibly. In that familiar arcade feel, players will see points pop up after killing foes, indicating the experience gained. Frequently using executions will net big points, and unlocks even more devastating finishers. Players can earn character variants like the Cole Train by playing a certain number of matches, or unlock weapon skins by becoming proficient with certain firearms. The incentive to keep playing is increased from Gears 2, and I can’t wait to see what other perks lay ahead.

This year Gears of War 3’s release date was pushed back until September 20, and the extra time means that Epic can take feedback from this multiplayer beta into deeper consideration. My time with the beta preview indicates that the developer isn’t satisfied with resting on its laurels, and that it’s starving for community feedback. Soon it’ll be your turn to suit up, ship out, and help Epic build a better game by blasting through this beta.

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Battlefield Origins: Designing 1942

Posted on February 27, 2011

Sometimes hoarding is a good thing. On our recent trip to see Battlefield 3 in Sweden, DICE veteran Lars Gustavsson dug through his office and unearthed the original Battlefield 1942 design documents. Watch as he shares memories of DICE’s first big shooter, reveals features that were cut from the final version, and talks about his favorite Battlefield maps with Game Informer content manager Matt Bertz.

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MLB 2K11 Takes The Mound With New Video

Posted on February 24, 2011

With pitchers and catchers reporting to camp last week, baseball is
in the air (even though most of the country is knee deep in snow). To
celebrate the start of spring training, 2K Sports has released an
extended gameplay trailer of its upcoming Major League Baseball 2K11 title.

The latest video gives you an long look at a Philadelphia Phillies
vs. Colorado Rockies NLCS matchup. We join the action at the top of the 8th

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Major League Baseball 2K11 releases on March 8.

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Take The DICE Studio Tour

Posted on February 22, 2011

In addition to sitting down for an interview about building Battlefield 3, general manger Karl-Magnus Troedsson led us on a quick tour of the beautiful DICE studio situated in the heart of Stockholm, Sweden.  Check out the video to get a better idea of where the Battlefield series is crafted.

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Head to the Battlefield 3 hub to check out more information about DICE’s latest shooter.

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Knights Contract Preview

Posted on February 20, 2011

Namco Bandai’s Knights Contract comes out on the 22, but do you know if the game is right for you? Maybe a gameplay clip would help educate you in your decision, but if one gameplay video isn’t enough, how about six?

Knights Contract is about an experienced witch hunter named Heinrich Hofmann who becomes cursed with immortality. When Hofmann meets Gretchen – a young woman who is the reincarnation of a witch Hofmann once killed – the gentle giant decides to protect the young woman, and turn against his former commander.

Watch Heinrich get torn to shreds before stitching himself back together, run from a monster with a whale-sized mouth, and eviscerate like a hundred doodz in the following videos.

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Float Like Rocky, Sting Like Ali In Fight Night’s New Story Mode

Posted on February 19, 2011

In 2003, ESPN debuted Playmakers, a gridiron soap opera about a fictitious professional football team that dealt with many of the dirty off-the-field issues commonly seen in the world of sports. Critics and viewers alike gravitated to the show, making it the third-most popular program on ESPN. Not everyone was happy with the success. The NFL disliked the show due to its portrayal of professional players as drug addicts, wife beaters, and closeted homosexuals. With the renewal of the Sunday Night Football contract on the horizon, ESPN caved to pressure from the overbearing league and cancelled the show.

Sports game developers are all too familiar with this kind of league pressure. Many leagues review the content that goes into each game, which might keep, for example, EA Tiburon from adding random events like substance abuse suspensions or off-field controversies to Madden’s popular franchise mode. With no league body to appease, the Fight Night development team at EA is free from these types of shackles and plans to make use of its liberties in the new Champion mode. As the first mature-rated title in EA Sports history, Fight Night Champion’s story mode examines the seedy underbelly of boxing. To make sure the story meets the team’s high standards, EA hired Academy Award winning writer Will Rokos (Monster’s Ball). Here are short bios of the characters players encounter as the drama unfolds.

Andre Bishop

The central figure of the story mode, Andre is a talented boxing prodigy who many project to be the next Sugar Ray Leonard. Blessed with superior athletic abilities and demonstrating a maturity beyond his years, players will guide Bishop through the trials and tribulations he must overcome to realize his goal of being the best boxer in the world.

D.L. McQueen

The Don King of the story, McQueen is a cutthroat boxing promoter who will do anything to keep his empire at the top of the sport. McQueen has his eyes set on signing Andre, and he doesn’t plan on taking no for an answer.

Gus Carisi

Gus is a foul-mouthed, crotchety trainer who mentored Andre Bishop Sr. during his boxing career. After the elder Bishop died in a car accident, Carisi took it upon himself to raise the orphaned boys. An old-school aficionado who fiercely guards the integrity of the sweet science, Carisi laments how promoters like D.L. McQueen have transformed the sport.

Megan McQueen

The daughter of the most notorious boxing promoter on the planet, Megan is a lifelong boxing fan who wants to get into managing on her own merits.

Raymond Bishop

Raymond is also a formidable boxer, but he doesn’t have the hype surrounding his career like his older brother Andre. Ray makes up for his lack of buzz with a boisterous, narcissistic personality not unlike a diva wide receiver in the NFL.

Isaac Frost

The reigning heavyweight champion of the world, Frost is an intimidating force who beats his foes into submission and revels in injuring opponents with his devastating blows. His dominance is so complete that experts see him holding the title for years to come.

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Ice-T: Words With The Original Gamer

Posted on February 18, 2011

I used to call myself “The Original Gamer” in the magazine in tribute to Ice-T’s 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster, so I was excited to find out, via his many postings on YouTube and Twitter, that the gangster rap legend and actor is a devoted gamer. I recently got a chance to speak to Ice-T about his lifelong gaming habit, and he proved to be every bit as perceptive and entertaining as I hoped.

Whenever we talk to athletes, they all seem to game. Is it like that in hip-hop now?

What people don’t understand is that the video game industry broke right alongside the hip-hop industry. Video games, hip-hop, skateboards; all that kind of broke during the ‘80s. I had everything – the Ataris, the Segas. We grew up with it. The other thing they forget is that a lot of musicians spend their days on tour buses. If you’ve ever been on a tour bus, there’s nothing much to do. In the back of the tour bus, they’ll have a video game system. You start to learn to play the games. I’ve seen cats start a tour where they don’t really game, and by the end, they’re trying to get you to play them. You get hooked.

Obviously, it’s a lot different now, because games have become so mainstream. But back in the ‘80s, games were perceived as more of a nerdy thing.

I don’t think so, though. I guess in the nerd world, it was considered that. But there’s a lot of mistakes [people make] with hip-hop. People watch us and they might pick up the low-riding and all that, but they miss the humor. We’re still kids; we’re just like y’all. We still f— around; we still do pranks – all that same stuff is a part of our make-up. So, we don’t really look at it as nerdy, we look at is as something to do. Go into a crack house, and they might have a video game! There’s nothing I’ve found that really burns time like video games. I’ve always said that if you put games in the prison system, cats would get out of jail and be like, “Hold up, I gotta go finish this level.” [Laughs] So, I’m here to say that it’s an absolute misconception that gaming is nerdy. I’ve been in some dangerous *** spots and there’s been a console there.

Do you go back to the Atari 2600 and arcade days?

Absolutely. My first game system was an Atari, and I had a Nintendo. When I first started making money, if you see my episode of MTV Cribs, I had the actual video arcade games in my house. I had the first Mortal Kombat, the first Virtua Fighter, the first NBA Jam. I bought the arcade games because I found a place in L.A. where I could buy them. They were like $5,000, but I had them down in my studio in my house. But back to the nerd stuff, I think there is a nerd side to it when you get too deep into it. One thing they do now, I’ve noticed, is they have these platform wars, like “Xbox is better than PlayStation.” That’s nerdy to me. What the f— is the matter with you?

The weird thing is people are defending these huge corporations.

They could give a f— about you! [Laughs] That’s nerdy to me. Also, people get too deep into the games. I have a clan on Call of Duty, and when you start telling me your kill/death ratio – I don’t give a f—. You really going to pick up a b—- by telling her your kill/death ratio? That doesn’t really matter. I think there’s a nerd element where you can get too deep into it that no one cares. But you can get nerdy with cars; you could start telling me the cubic displacement of an engine. At any point, you can go into the nerd world if you want to go deep. One of the key things about nerds is that they like to correct you. They get off on correcting you. That’s the part that we kinda fall back off of – we just want to play the games, we don’t need the heavy details. How many ounces is the controller? Who gives a f—? [Laughs]

Do you play with other rappers you know online?

Absolutely. Snoop and them are big Madden fans. Warren G is in my clan. A lot of football. Early hip-hoppers mostly stick to the sports games. I never really went for the sports games because, early on, you couldn’t play them online. That required you to have people at your house all the time. I’m not really the type of person that wants a bunch of dudes on my couch drinking beers and playing Madden. That’s too much male bonding for me. But when the ‘net came out and you could play with people online, that revolutionized the game. I play with Lord Jamar from Brand Nubian – he’s in SMG. Xzibit is in SMG. Warren G is in SMG. There’s different people from all over the world. The leader of my clan, he’s named Coleman, he’s from Liverpool, England. I got some kids from Boston – white kids, black kids, it doesn’t matter. My son plays. My son lives in L.A., and we get to bond. I wouldn’t be on the phone with him all day, but I can be on the game with him for five hours. It’s really cool.

SMG is your clan, right?

Yeah, “Sex, Money, and Guns.” That’s what makes the world go ‘round.

You’re a huge Call of Duty fan, is that the main game you play now?

It’s the only game I’ve been able to get into and actually feel a skill curve on it. A lot of the games I’ve played – Battlefield or Medal of Honor – have great single-player, but when you get into the multiplayer I personally don’t feel like I’m getting better. Call of Duty, the way it’s set up, you can actually get better. The game that really got me hooked was Resident Evil back in the day. I was always into Mortal Kombat and s— like that, but once I got into Resident Evil I really got hooked – survival horror, all that s—. Then I got into all the single-player adventure-type games. I love the Max Payne games. I loved to play by myself and challenge myself.

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First Game Of Thrones – Genesis Details Surface

Posted on February 17, 2011

Cyanide Studios released the first information and screenshots for its upcoming real-time strategy game based in the universe of the popular A Song of Ice & Fire series by George R.R. Martin.

A Game Of Thrones – Genesis promises a single-player campaign written under the supervision of Martin that spans the 1,000 years of history leading up to the events of the books and upcoming HBO series. Players will partake in the events that shaped the kingdom of Westeros, including Aegon the Conqueror’s invasion, the War of the Usurper that wins Robert Baratheon the throne, Nymeria’s arrival in the kingdom of Dorne, and the awakening of the Others beyond the Wall.

Staying true to the spirit of the books, brute force isn’t your only option for claiming the Iron Throne. You can also strangle opponents economically or undermine their power through treachery and diplomacy.

A Game of Thrones is slated for a summer release.

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Noob Saibot And Sindel Revealed In New Mortal Kombat Video

Posted on February 16, 2011

With most of the classic MK 1 and 2 cast already revealed, there are only a handful of character announcements left for Mortal Kombat. Two have just been shown off in a new video at IGN – Noob Saibot and Sindel.

It looks like Noob can split apart and attack with both versions of himself. It’s almost reminiscent of when he was Noob-Smoke and could switch back and forth on the fly. Also of note is his name – he’s been referred to as simply Noob on many occasions ever since John Tobias left the series, but it seems like he’ll feature his full name once again (Noob Saibot is “Tobias Boon” backwards, a reference to the series co-creators).

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Despite the video being very Noob-focused, you can clearly see Shao Kahn’s bride Sindel in many shots. You can see a quick glimpse of her below.

For more, check out our previous online Mortal Kombat coverage.

More Mortal Kombat Videos

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A Warrior’s Quest: A Retrospective of Square-Enix’s Classic RPG Series

Posted on February 15, 2011

In the West, series like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are about as big as a game can get, but in Japan, few franchises stand taller than Square-Enix’s Dragon Quest. First released in 1986, Dragon Quest is credited with establishing the basic template by which many RPGs would be made. Dragon Quest and its successive spin-offs have had such an enormous impact on the market that the series is arguably more significant than western-appreciated brands like Final Fantasy.

Enix’s monumental RPG not only introduced a number of RPG features to the world, but it is also the first game in history to have a soundtrack performed by a live orchestra. In Japan, nearly every entry in the series has seen anime, toy, and manga adaptations. Meanwhile, Dragon Quest has only ever achieved moderate success in the West. What are we missing? To examine this question – and in anticipation of the release of Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation on DS on February 14 – we take a retrospective glance at the series’ history.

Dragon Warrior – NES – August 1989
The original Dragon Quest was released in Japan in 1986, but it took nearly three years to migrate west. When the series finally did arrive, its title had to be changed to avoid a trademark conflict with Simulations Publication’s pen-and-paper RPG Dragon Quest. While the Japanese took to Dragon Quest almost immediately, American audiences didn’t know what to make of the series. Dragon Warrior was one of the first encounters westerners had with a Japanese RPG, and its individuality worked against it.

Despite poor U.S. sales, Dragon Warrior established many elements that have made the series what it is. Players fought random turn-based battles, explored dungeons, and took on the role of a hero who gradually powered up throughout his journey. Players also fought many of the series’ recurring monsters for the first time, included slimes, which would become Dragon Quest’s mascot. Dragon Warrior offered an experience that any gamer would be familiar with today, but back in 1986 it was almost too novel.

Dragon Warrior II – NES – December 1990
Dragon Warrior II was released in Japan in 1987 under the title Dragon Quest II: Akuryo no Kamigami (Pantheon of Evil Spirits). The game’s story centers on the prince of Midenhall, who is ordered to stop an evil wizard after he destroys Moonbrooke Castle. This entry is notable for being the first game in the series where players could control a party of multiple characters – the first Dragon Quest focused on a single hero.

Dragon Warrior III – NES – June 1991
As we’ll see, crazy subtitles persist in the Dragon Quest universe. When it released in Japan in 1988, Dragon Warrior III was called Dragon Quest III: Soshite Densetsu e… (And Thus Into Legend…). While Dragon Warrior III ended the story thread for the original Dragon Quest trilogy, it is actually a prequel that takes place before the first game. The title proved so popular in Japan – selling nearly 4 million units – that news reports began to circulate that children were skipping school to play the game. An urban legend quickly formed, claiming that the Japanese government outlawed future Dragon Quest titles from releasing on school days. There is no such law, but publisher Enix recognized the effect its series had on the Japanese youth and started releasing successive entries on the weekend. Meanwhile, in the U.S., gamers were still too busy playing Mega Man 3 and Commander Keen to take notice.

Dragon Warrior IV – NES – October 1992
Called Dragon Quest IV: The Guided Ones in Japan, Dragon Warrior IV differed from other entries in the series in that it broke the game into five distinct chapters, each focusing on a different protagonist. Since the rest of the player’s party became NPCs in the final chapter, Dragon Warrior IV featured an artificial intelligence system called Tactics, which allowed players to develop strategies that would guide their teammate’s actions. Truly ahead of its time, Tactics can be seen as a kind of precursor to Final Fantasy XII’s gambit system, which was still fifteen years out.


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Analyzing The New Pokémon

Posted on February 12, 2011

When Nintendo first introduced Pokémon in 1996, players were
entranced by the creativity of the game’s 151 unique species of pocket monsters.
14 years later, the series now boasts roughly one hundred billion Pokémon in
its roster, and it appears that Nintendo is really scraping the bottom of the barrel
for new character designs.

How do these new contenders stack up against the veterans
like Pikachu, Squirtle, and that thing that has a plant growing out of its back? I
haven’t played a Pokémon game since the original Blue version, but that’s not
going to stop me from critiquing 31 of the new creatures from Black and White based
on the flimsiest of observations.

All of the following information and images are from
Nintendo’s official Pokémon Black and White website,
so be sure to check it out for more information.

Victini is classified as a Victory Pokémon – apparently that’s a category of Pokémon
now. So there you go; I guess we can skip the other 30 Pokémon, because Victini
apparently always wins. You’re probably going to want to catch one of these things as fast you can – they’re way better than creatures from the Defeat Pokémon

In case the name and category weren’t enough to convince you
of how great Victini is, its special ability is called Victory Star, and it
also waves the victory sign whenever it gets the chance. Oh, its stupid head
also makes a big “V” too. That’s some unified character design right there.

Now here’s a category I can get behind. Basculin is classified as a Hostile Pokémon,
and it certainly looks the part. Basculin’s abilities are Reckless and
Adaptability, which seem to contradict each other, but I guess if you’re going
to be reckless you have to be able to adapt to whatever mess you create.
Basculin is a Water-based Pokémon, which should have been obvious since it’s a

Pansage is a Grass Monkey, which isn’t nearly as cool as a
Brass Monkey…that funky monkey. Pansage is also not as cool as that other Pokémon monkey
whose ass is on fire. However, I love the fact that its special ability is
Gluttony – that almost makes up for the broccoli growing out
of its head.

The best thing I can say about Alomomola is that its nearly-unpronounceable
name is a palindrome. That’s not a good sign. Alomomola is a Caring Pokémon,
which in a fighting tournament is about as helpful as a Pacifist Pokémon (I
wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a real category too). Its abilities are
Healer – which is helpful enough – and Hydration. Is that a problem in Pokémon games
nowadays? Do you have to worry about your monsters becoming dehydrated?  Something tells me that Basculin would wipe the sea floor with Alomomola, who would probably just say “Gee Basculin, that
was really great how you kicked my ass just now. Here, have a cup of water.”

Speaking of non-combatants: Deerling is a Season Pokémon,
who comes in four different colors depending on what time of the year it is.
These colors are pink in Spring, green in Summer, orange in Autumn, and…brown
in Winter? What does brown have to do with winter?!

Nothing about Deerling says that it would be a good Pokémon to
have in a fight – its abilities are Chlorophyll and Sap Sipper? What is going
on? Do Pokémon games have a non-fighting mode nowadays? Selecting this creature
would be like bringing a pug to a pitbull fight. All I can say is I would
really hate Deerling if it wasn’t so damned cute. Luckily though, Deerling is
adorable, and I kind of want one – I’m just not going to bring it into the
arena with me…

At first I thought Sewaddle got its name because it must
waddle when it walks, but then I realized the emphasis must be on the “sew”…because
it’s a Sewing Pokémon. Sewing should not be a category of Pokémon, unless there’s
some kind of sewing minigame now that I’m not aware of. Sewaddle also has
Chlorophyll as a (non)ability, but Swarm might be cool, and Struggle Bug’s
description sounds as helpful as its name is adorable. I don’t normally like
Grass-based Pokémon, but Sewaddle is alright in my book.

Watchog looks like a pissed-off meerkat. Its Illuminate ability
might be cool, but how good of a Lookout Pokémon can Watchog be if it got caught
in the first place? Keen Eye, huh? Have fun using that ability to stare at the
inside of your Pokéball prison…

Patrat is the Pokémon that Watchog evolves from, and is
equally worthless – clearly both its Keen Eye and Run Away abilities failed to
keep Patrat from getting caught. I’ll give this guy a break though, since he at least looks like he’s trying to do a good job, waving off the other Pokémon
until the coast is clear. Too bad Patrat has to “evolve” into such a
disgruntled-looking jerk.

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Celebrating 10 Years Of D.I.C.E.

Posted on February 11, 2011

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on the advancement and recognition of our industry through a variety of programs and initiatives — one of which is its annual D.I.C.E. Summit. This year AIAS is celebrating the 10th year of D.I.C.E. with many special events planned this week in Las Vegas, all of which we are attending and covering right here on We caught up with AIAS president emeritus, Joseph Olin, who tells us about the summit’s humble beginnings, its purpose, and why the event matters to both you and the video game industry.

What’s the idea behind D.I.C.E.? Why create an event like this?
D.I.C.E. was started as a means to help fund the Academy. The people running the Academy 10 years ago, the members, were dissatisfied with what GDC had become, where it went from being a gathering of 1000 people to 5000 people. They felt there was no longer a place for the senior creative people in games to get together and just talk. GDC is just track after track after track and how do you negotiate among 5000 people? Going forward today, GDC is four times that and there’s more need and more desire to have an event that’s just for the creative community, which is the greatest thing that D.I.C.E. ever does, which is put very smart, talented, creative people in a room outside of their daily jobs and give them the opportunity to share ideas.

What was the first D.I.C.E. like?
Small. It was about 200 people. A lot of the people who spoke at D.I.C.E. that year were board members so it was sort of flying at the seat of their pants in terms of topics addressed. The sessions were geared more toward people sharing their philosophies, and I think that’s the one thread that runs across all iterations of D.I.C.E. It’s not really about ‘What I’ve done’ but ‘What I think is important.’ We’ve tried to make sure whoever we invite to speak at D.I.C.E. talks about their philosophy, not what they’ve done. Everyone in the room has done something great, so giving a postmortem on your latest million selling game, there’s 20 people in the room who could get up and do the same thing. There’s little value in that. So ask someone like a Brian Reynolds (Zynga), core game maker, ‘Why would you want to make Farmville? Where’s the game in Farmville?’ Obviously there’s 60 million people at the moment who think it’s great so it’s an important type of conversation to have and typically only happens at D.I.C.E.

How many people attending this year?
We sell out every year. It’s about 700 people.

D.I.C.E. stands for “Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain”, how does the event encompass that?
If you look at the speakers that we have, you’ll see some focus more on design philosophy, some will address that games are no longer games, just isolated segments of the world. We’re just another form of entertainment, and as such, we have to work harder to compete for mindshare with everyone else’s entertainment plan. Do I download something and watch it on my iPad? Do I play a game on my iPad? Or do I put a disk in my PS3 and get lost for a couple hours? Do I go to a movie? Do I just go hang out with friends at a coffee shop?

Games are now not just for that segment of people who want to play games. Everyone who plays games is playing and doing other things. The challenge this year, which I’ve asked speakers to address, is where games are in the real world. What do we have to do to challenge ourselves and continue to innovate, to get people to think that games as an interactive entertainment are time worth spending?

How is an event like this important to the standard consumer?
The consumer gets a dual benefit. Number one, thanks to our partnerships, certainly with G4, all of the sessions will be made available, so people will have the opportunity to hear conversations with their favorite game makers. That’s an interesting way to get behind the scenes, humanizing the process of game making, and how it’s just everyday people who are just a little bit bent and crazy and that’s why they choose to do this. From the industry perspective, the other thing that consumers get are the benefit of collaborations that happen over a drink sitting outside in the sun for a few seconds between people who are sharing ideas, and all of a sudden people who have never worked together decide they are going to work together on a project, and you’ll see the fruits of that relationship a year from now.

Where do you see D.I.C.E. and the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences in the next 10 years?
As technology becomes so seamless, everything that has a screen we expect that there will be a game on it, the challenge is to embrace all the different types of games that encompass all the different types of screens that we play on. Somebody was showing me the games on their Kindle. That’s the last thing in the world I’d imagine seeing a game on. I wonder if you can play Limbo on a Kindle because of the black and white screen. That can be a real challenge. The Academy needs to be the constant voice of creative talent and recognize that if it wasn’t for the talent in the room, or the talent of our members, no one would be able to play the games they’re spending hours of time on, even if it’s Angry Birds. I don’t know if anyone wants to spend 50 hours a week trying to level out on that game, but I get why it’s great for two minutes while you’re sitting at a bus stop killing time. The Academy will continue to look for platforms to take a look at these talented people that do what no one else can. The Academy will continue to look for ways to foster creative development in a way interesting to people that are fans of games.

What are some of the highlights at D.I.C.E. this week that our readers should look out for?
From a reader perspective, I think one of the things is the Interactive Achievement Awards. The most exciting thing is getting together with GameStop and our friends at Guildhall to create the Indie Game Challenge. We all want blockbusters because they’re great games, but they’re also financially lucrative, and we don’t want to forget that all the people who make blockbuster games today weren’t making blockbusters 15 years ago. The Indie Game Challenge is a great way to encourage your readers ‘Hey I can make a game!’ For $99 anyone can get an iOS kit, anybody can get a working version of Flash from Adobe, and all these are fair game to be able to make a game.

When we announce the winners Friday night it will be significant. A team who gets $100,000 as amateurs, it’s a nice cash prize. The biggest reward is the meetings we arrange for them with game makers interested in their work to give them feedback and pointers, maybe offer them jobs, or offer to buy their game. Ultimately it’s like Sundance.

Keep your browser locked on for all the latest coverage out of D.I.C.E. Summit 2011. You can find the full D.I.C.E. schedule here.

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Long Live The King: Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford Talks Duke Nukem

Posted on February 10, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever has been in development for, well, forever, but Duke fans won’t have to wait much longer as his latest adventure will kick off May 3. We got a chance to chat with Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford about the long development cycle, how Duke became “video games’ Chuck Norris”, and more.

When the release date for Duke Nukem Forever was announced, fans were surprised launch was only a few months away. What did you think of the reaction?
It’s pretty overwhelming. Let me just put it this way, when we first revealed that we were bringing Duke back at PAX it quickly became a Twitter trending topic, got to number one worldwide and it stayed there for 17 hours. By comparison, Borderlands, the best it ever did was on launch day, and it got to number 10 for two hours. We felt really good about that. Duke Nukem is in a whole other world. It happened again when the launch date was announced. Duke Nukem all the way at the top of Twitter again. According to the internet it was a pretty big deal.

Recently we did a look on YouTube of all the trailers for games that haven’t come out yet, and the trailer that was released with the launch date announcement now has more views than any other video game trailer on YouTube. It got there really quick so that was really exciting. I’m excited that there’s so much love for Duke. He needs our support!

Why has Duke been so influential?

I think the biggest secret is he’s absurdly one-dimensional. A lot of our heroes have sort of become very complicated and they change so we’re not sure if he’s a happy hero or if he’s now emo. Duke is consistent. He’s solid and he’s just ***. He just owns life and owns the world. He’s the king. I think that consistency helps him stay sticky and relevant. He’s become important. He’s bigger than me. He’s huge. He’s like video games’ Chuck Norris.

Do you and Duke have anything in common?
We’re very different. It’s hard not to admire some aspects of the man. The thing is he’s the center of his universe and the whole world revolves around him so he gets away with things that no mortal should get away with. You have to be careful when you make comparisons to a guy like Duke. He’s his own dude for sure. That’s part of the fun, honestly, because none of us will ever be like Duke or come into the vicinity of a guy like him, but with a game like that you can get a taste of what it’s like in his boots for a little while.

When 3D Realms shut down everyone thought Duke was dead, but now he’s back in a title called Duke Nukem Forever. Why “Forever”?
It’s kind of ironic that the game was called Duke Nukem Forever. This is a game that’s been in development longer than any game in the history of the entire industry. It’s kind of neat to be here and see this resolution finally happen. It’s like the end of an epic book series and you’re getting to the end of the final chapter. It’ll be great to see that impact point when it launches and to see the reactions. Then to think about what to do next with the man.

Why bring him back?

I think there’s two answers to that. As a gamer, Duke is one of a kind. There should be a Duke game once in a while and that’s just a fun thing to do. On a personal level in a lot of ways I feel I owe Duke my career, and since I was in a position to help do something about it, I couldn’t let the man die. The Duke can’t die. He needed us so it’s important he has his chance to become triumphant so I feel like it’s the least I could do. The first game I ever worked on in the industry was Duke 3D and I can’t imagine the path I would’ve had if that weren’t the case.

You had mentioned during the demo presentation that the game can be a little challenging…what can you say about Duke’s difficulty?

The point of different skill levels is to give people the opportunity to dial in their own challenge level. If you’re a casual gamer, you’ll pick the easiest skill level, and you’ll find the enemies are easier to take down and they don’t do much damage to Duke. If you really want the most difficult challenge you could pick one of those harder skill levels and you’ll have to be very quick, very good, and very accurate. It’s pretty brutal. Now there’s still some fine tuning that’s being done, but that’s part of the fun, to have those options for gamers who want to dial in a different challenge. I like it. Sometimes I’ll beat a game through just for the experience on an easier skill level and then play on the hardest skill level.

What’s left to polish off in Duke Nukem Forever?

The game is complete, we’re just wrapping up tasks and fixing a few bugs, things related to preparing for certification and making sure it can be delivered on all the platforms. At this point, we’re at the beginning of February, and the game ships on May 3, there are about 3- to 4,000 issues in our database of work to do, “tasks”, and I imagine we’ll add a couple thousand more to that by the time we go into final certification, so there are about 6,000 work items or so that we’ll have to get through to ship the game. There are a lot of talented people working on the game and some of the issues we can knock out pretty quickly, but there are some tricky ones too, so we have to work really hard and keep our heads down and focus.

DNF has been in development for roughly 14 years and the gaming landscape has changed so much over that time, are you worried about the reception it may get?

I can’t worry about it. I’m not worried about it, but even if I was, I can’t worry about it. I can’t second guess things. It’s a game for today’s gamers that cleverly remembers our memories from Duke Nukem 3D. Those of us that were there will find those nods and homage, and will enjoy those jokes. Even if you hadn’t played Duke 3D it’s still very fun. It’s not the vision from the beginning years ago, it’s a vision that’s been iterated on all this time and evolved and developed with the industry.

Be sure to check out our hands on preview of Duke Nukem Forever.

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Hands On With Duke Nukem Forever

Posted on February 10, 2011

After 14 years of development purgatory, a presumed death, and his subsequent resurrection thanks to Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford, Duke Nukem is ready to return to the spotlight. To see how the action hero has changed since his last ass-kicking escapade, we blasted our way through the first 90 minutes of the game.

Duke Nukem Forever begins with a familiar scenario that transports me immediately back to 1996 – the action hero is parked in front of a urinal unleashing his preternatural stream. After what seems like minutes, Duke wraps up his business and joins a collection of EDF soldiers gathered in a stadium locker room. The commander is in front of a dry erase board explaining the tactics for Operation C–k Block, the plan for preventing the aliens from making out with our ladies. Walking up to the board, Duke can erase it and create his own plan with a marker. I opt for drawing a giant gun aimed at an alien’s head – simple but effective. Sun Tzu would be proud. Moving through the stadium tunnels and onto the gridiron, I come face to face with a giant Cycloid at midfield. A classic Duke Nukem boss battle ensues. I strafe oncoming missiles while doling out punishment with the Devastator and gathering the ammo that planes are dropping onto the field. After taking down the boss, Duke roughs up the beast and kicks its cyclops eye through the uprights in celebration of his victory. All hail the king, baby.

The camera pans out out from the football field, through a flat-screen television, and into an luxurious penthouse apartment on top of the Lady Killer casino in Las Vegas. Duke’s holding a game controller while being pleasured by the Holsom Kids, two Lolita looking pop stars whose parents obviously taught them the value of sharing. Opulence – Duke has it. The young ladies ask Duke if he thinks the video game is any good, to which he curtly replies, “Yeah, but after 12 f—ing years, it should be.”

Dropping the game controller and grabbing the remote, Duke flips through channels and stumbles upon a commercial for the D—, It’s Late Show. Tonight’s guest? The one and only Duke Nukem. Before heading down to the studio on a lower level of the casino, I peruse Duke’s impressive digs. With marble pillars, a wading pool, and vaulted ceilings in his living room, he’s a perfect candidate for MTV Cribs. Walking into the lavish bathroom, I stare into the mirror and press the activity button. “You want to touch it, don’t you,” Duke egomaniacally growls. These classic Duke moments aren’t just there for laughs; the first time you perform ego boosting actions like admiring his physique in the mirror or lifting an absurd amount of weights, Duke’s maximum ego bar, which acts as a health meter, increases.

Moving through the palatial penthouse, I check out a gallery of Duke paintings that portray his various exploits, which include donning an astronaut suit in space and scaling Mount Everest. Downstairs in the lobby I walk past a set of side doors holding back a flock of screeching women plastering their bodies against the window panes in hopes that Duke glances their way. Exploring the facility further, I walk into the green room just in time to catch a breaking news report. The aliens have returned to Earth, but the President is currently campaigning for peaceful talks aimed at strengthening ties. As I leave the green room and walk backstage, a young fan approaches Duke asking for an autograph. I take the copy of Why I’m So Great – Duke In His Own Words and a pen – it’s up to me to fulfill the lad’s dreams. Rather than try to master the sketchy Etch-A-Sketch style controls well enough to write something legible, I draw a crude hand with an extended middle finger and give the book back to the kid.

Rather than being greeted with applause from the live studio audience, Duke pulls back the stage curtains to see an empty room save for the humbled talk show host. He explains the show has been canceled so the network can focus on covering the latest alien outbreak. Duke decides to head toward The Duke Cave where he can assess the situation, but on the way out of the studio he comes across an actor throwing a Christian Bale-style tantrum at a boom operator. I walk up to the delusional thespian and jack him in the jaw on my way toward the observation tower.

I hop on the elevator, but right before Duke reaches his destination it suddenly stops. An emergency ladder deploys and I hop up to pry open the door. From the observation tower view it’s evident that this isn’t your average alien greeting party. Invading ships dominate the skyline, and the occasional alien runs up the casino windows. Once I reach the Duke Cave, the president and army general appear on video conference and both urge Duke to avoid retaliation. The president wants to give peace a chance, and has a meeting scheduled with the alien’s high leader.

As Duke leaves the conversation in frustration, the aliens have started making themselves at home in Duke’s casino, drinking Duke’s beer and tearing up the casino floors. When Duke finds a soon-to-be-dead invader in his hallway, it charges the unarmed hero. I settle the score by hurling award trophies and dumbbells their way. Duke finally gets his hands on a gun and starts doling out justice in his typical machismo fashion, dropping one-liners as regularly as he reloads his weapon.

With the casino suffering intermittent power outages, Duke must navigate the darkened halls using his Duke Vision ability (think early-era night vision) to locate three misplaced energy cells. The first two are easy finds, but the third one requires Duke to drive an RC monster truck through an obstacle course in a locked office to push the remaining cell through a small opening in the floor.

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Game Informer Video Preview: Our Insight Into Bulletstorm

Posted on February 10, 2011

Bulletstorm, the controversially violent collaboration between Epic Games and People Can Fly, is looming on the horizon. Now is the perfect time to take a crash course about the game’s crazy weapons, skillshots, and gameplay.

Join two bearded fellows, Adam Biessener and I, as we casually chat about horrendous acts of sadism and bodily mutilation.

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Bulletstorm arrives on 360, PS3, and PC February 22. If you need more Bulletstorm info, check out our offical hub page. Also be sure to read our interview with producer Tanya Jessen.

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Infamous 2 Has A New Trailer And Screens

Posted on February 07, 2011

Along with revealing the morality system in Infamous 2, Sony and Sucker Punch unleashed a new trailer and a batch of screenshots. Check ‘em out below.

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Dirt 3 Preview: Adding New Layers

Posted on February 05, 2011

Dirt 3 developers Codemasters are touting the return to prominence of rally racing to the franchise, but that doesn’t mean that the franchise isn’t also trying new things. The emergence of semi-freestyle car stunt/art form Gymkhana (thanks to the YouTube videos of Ken Block, who is an advisor on this game) is an exciting source of inspiration for the upcoming title.

Gymkhana is a structured obstacle course run that highlight daring feats of driving skill. Dirt 3 features Gymkhana in a variety of different ways including speed runs, online challenges, special stunt events, and freeform challenges. The latter takes place in one of three areas. The first one you’ll encounter is called the Compound, and it’s on the grounds of London’s Battersea Power Station. Scattered around the area are jumps, pylons, random construction equipment, empty cargo containers, and more. Here you can hone your Gymkhana skills and at the same time tackle 75 DC missions. These are achievements you’ll trigger such as drifting a certain amount of feet and other challenges in the environment.

I got to tool around in the Compound when Codemasters recently stopped by the office to show us the game, and I was quickly addicted to trying to make up my own Gymkhana runs in an attempt to trigger and earn some of the DC missions. The Compound isn’t huge, but it’s filled with a variety of obstacles that range in difficulty. Some are as easy as stationary objects – like a crane arm – you drift under, while others are more complex. One setup consisted of a small pen (barely bigger than the dimensions of the car) formed by the corner of a building and some road dividers. This setup had an entrance and exit diagonal from each other. You can do whatever you want in here – like accidently run into the barriers at high speeds like I did – but the way to this area’s DC mission was to drive into the pen, very quickly whip the ass-end of you car into a tight donut, spin in circles for a while, and then exit from the opposite side you came in from.

As fun as it was to kill time cruising around the Compound, I can’t wait to see how the Gymkhana events are integrated into the career mode and the game’s online component. They will be offered through your Lifestyle manager who peppers you career racing schedule with these profile-enhancing events.

Although Gymkhana is a sexy new feature in the franchise, it’s by no means the only thing the game has going for it. Offroad events from the last Dirt such as Raid, Trailblazer, and Rallycross keeps things moving along, and Dirt 3 also adds YouTube support for your videos, split-screen offline play (for the first time in the series’ history), party games, and more.

Both the Dirt and Grid franchises have weaved their events together very well, and I look forward to how Codemasters brings everything together when the game comes out on May 24.

Go to Source (Game Informer)

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