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No place for hobbits in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor's launch trailer, Nemesis System lives

2 comments Rory Young - 4:54pm (PST) Like Share

Thousands of different looking orcs and all of them ugly as sin

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Today's the day, Middle-earth fans. The untold story fit between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that Tolkien never wrote and probably would make him roll in his grave if h knew about is now available. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor launches today on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and early buzz is that this game is good. So let Tolkien spin and start enslaving some orcs today, or at least check out this story-based launch trail to see what you're missing out on.

While the story for Shadow of Mordor certainly looks compelling in and of itself, what seems most exciting about the game is its Nemesis System. A way to create an assortment of dynamic AI characters with strengths and weaknesses that change the way how not just every level is played, but how each person will play through that level.

Martin Tremblay, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment released the following prepared statement highlighting the Nemesis System:

"Monolith’s goal with the Nemesis System is to push the action genre forward with a unique gameplay mechanic that allows the player to experience Middle-earth in a way that is deeply personal. The team and technology powering the Nemesis System helped us develop an emotional investment between each player and their enemies, which creates a truly memorable gaming experience unlike anything that’s been done before."

I think this may be my favorite Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor trailer yet. I'm surprised they saved it until the end. It covers a broad swathe of the story, teasing what must be a dozen central characters who look just outstanding to meet -- whether with a handshake or a blade. Even Gollum appears briefly, which was a surprise to me. Oh, what grand adventures we'll have with the undead, vengeance seeking Talion.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is now available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game delayed into November.


Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor's Season Pass trailer details the $25 pack of odds and ends

0 comments Rory Young - 11:04pm (PST) Like (1) Share

I was really hoping for some joke DLC where you fight the Fellowship

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As far as Season Pass content goes, there isn't a single AAA game these days that doesn't put one together. Usually, however, there's at least one single piece of content that really drives players to invest. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor's Season Pass was revealed over a month ago, but today they wanted to send out a reminder with a new trailer. Here's our reminder that despite the $25 price tag, there still doesn't seem to be that one, big selling point for the DLC.

There's still a lot of random DLC in Shadow of Mordor's Season Pass. Players get a grab bag of story, gameplay, customization and content for their purchase. Here's a rundown of what's currently announced, as part of the Season Pass still has yet to be revealed:

  • Story Missions:
    • Guardians of the Flaming Eye Warband Mission: "Face Sauron's elite Defenders before the Black Gate and earn the Rising Flame rune"
    • Lord of the Hunt Story Mission: "Players will gain new skills and earn unique epic runes as they hunt and tame legendary monsters of Mordor"
    • The Bright Lord Story Mission: "Play as Celebrimbor, the great Elven king of the Second Age, and face Sauron and the might of his forces"
  • Early Access to the Trials of War Challenge Modes:
    • Test of Speed Challenge Mode: "You can demonstrate your efficiency in battle and earn high scores for Talion's speed in defeating your foes"
    • Test of Wisdom Challenge Mode: "You can prove your strategic abilities, through earning points for skill, speed and efficiency"
    • Endless Challenge Mode: "This mode will continually spawn new legions of enemies. The runes you will earn will provide powerful upgrades"
  • Future Content:
    • Runes...
    • Skins...
    • Additional Content

If I get this straight, the Season Pass costs $25 for three story missions, early access to content that will otherwise unlock for everyone, and then random skins and runes? I'm not a gambling man, so I'm not so sure I'd put down almost half the price of the full game without the promise of some really special, meaningful content coming up. Then again, some people just enjoy supporting the products they love no matter the content. This one might be for them

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor launches tomorrow, or in most people's case today, on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 releases pushed into November.


Character creation in Dragon Age: Inquisition trailer teases each race, from beards to horns

7 comments Rory Young - 9:07pm (PST) Like Share

How could they not show the dwarven beard options? How!?

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Dwarf, qunari, human or elf, each player will make their very own Inquisitor protagonist at the start of Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was a major feature in Dragon Age: Origins and one of the major limitations, and complaints, from Dragon Age 2. BioWare is bringing character creation back in a big way with Inquisition and while we've seen a variety of Inquisitors showcased in various trailers up to now, today is the first time the process has been shown. 

A three minute trailer from Dragon Age: Inquisiton goes through a variety of character creation options. All races races are at least briefly shown, though not all gender options are represented. A majority of the time, and the major customization options shown, is invested in humans. Still, female qunari horns, dwarven tattoos and elven... err, chin size customizations are all briefly shown. 

It appears that customization is broken into what must be dozens and dozens of categories and subcategories, each with its own slider. Some details, like ear shape and positioning, include sliders on a 2D plane. Most sliders appear to be simple smaller-to-larger scales though. These types of sliders will work very well with console and PC. I wonder what sort of more in-depth customization could be offered if all players were using a mouse and keyboard.

After watching the trailer, it's no stretch to say that while the character customization process itself looks rather tedious, the resulting product seems excellent. Each player should be able to create their own, unique, rather realistic looking Inquisitor. Certain things like hair, beards and scar textures seem a bit MMO-quality to me, but skin textures, ears, horns, eyes and tattoos all look very good. BioWare done good.

Dragon Age: Inquistion will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 starting November 18. What kind of Inquisitor will you be?


Resource scarcity and improvising to survive in The Evil Within's 'Every Last Bullet' trailer

1 comments Rory Young - 12:06pm (PST) Like Share

Save that last bullet...

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In case anyone wasn't sure about it, The Evil Within is a survival horror game. That doesn't mean it's just a spooky scary, werewolf bar mitzvah with bleeding walls and Satan, though let's not discount those things appearing. It also means other, game-y type things. Today's "Every Last Bullet" trailer helps refamiliarize players with some of those things. Don't worry, they're all designed to encourage soiling one's pants.

First, of course, is resource scarcity. I'm not talking about StarCraft II maps with no Vespene Gas, jerk. I'm talking about limited options to kill monsters. Luckily, players always have at least one unlimited resource -- legs. Well, I suppose no one should be surprised if even these are taken away at some point in the game. Beyond that,  don't expect bullets, traps, guns, and, erm, matches? ... to be available in large quantity. 

Instead of standard weaponry, why not try and use the traps originally designed to murder you in gruesome ways to take care of of bad guys? Of course, odds are in order to discover these traps you'll have to activate them first. Luckily, extra lives are not one of these scarce resources. Players can just reset and use their newfound trap knowledge to their advantage. Or, like in my case, you can try to use a trap to your advantage, but then stumble into it once more by accident. Third time's a charm!

Finally, stuffed into the end of the trailer, is a short clip showing how players can upgrade their character. It's kind of a Resident Evil-type upgrade system for weapons,  ammo, abilities, what must be inventory capacity, and also something called "Agony Bolts." Curious. It's hard not to laugh at the "shopkeeper" in The Evil Within being a horror nurse giving the player electro-shock therapy. Also, I'm now totally creeped out.

The Evil Within will be coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 14 in North America and Europe. Dream about it, won't you?


'Co-op and Customization' trailer for Assassin's Creed Unity explores the new progression system

3 comments Rory Young - 2:21pm (PST) Like Share

Are dozens of hot pink assassins historically acurate to the French Revolution?

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In this, the second Experience trailer for Assassin's Creed Unity, players finally get a look at the core systems that give Unity its unique design. "Co-op and Customization" is the title of the video and the first things said in it are that these are the most requested features from the Assassin's Creed community. You heard it here first, nerds, this is all your fault! When you're grinding missions to power level your stealth assassin, you can only blame yourself.

Yes, Assassin's Creed Unity will feature an in-depth progression system. Players will be able to create their very own assassin, gain experience and train them in a variety of ways so as to customize their own experience. According to the video there are four "core" paths that players can follow via customization. These are: stealth, melee, agility and health. Stealth rewards sneakiness and provides boosts to eagle vision; melee let players to more damage in melee range as well as providing stronger counters; agility focuses on parkour bonuses and aerial assassinations; health, as one would assume, is all about keeping players alive.

Don't stress too much about picking one area of focus or another, because the video states that players should be able branch into many different trees as they progress. This way players can play how they like without being shoehorned into something. Of course, there are other ways for players to accent their experience. Armor and weaponry is all customizable as well, with each piece providing bonuses (and sometimes weaknesses). The example given in the trailer is a hood that makes the assassin more stealthy... which is ridiculous, but statistics are fun even if they don't make sense, right?

Whether a cooperative, highly customizes Assassin's Creed really is what fans want from the franchise is yet to be seen. Assassin's Creed Unity will be launching on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One starting November 11.


Far Cry 4's 'Pagan Min: King of Kryat' trailer serves terror for dinner, all hail

3 comments Rory Young - 1:29pm (PST) Like (1) Share (1)

That's not how the fork is supposed to be used, sir

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What Pagan Min wants, Pagan Min gets, as evidenced in Far Cry 4's latest (and surprisingly short) trailer. Titled "Pagan Min: King of Kryat," the trailer reintroduces us to the nefarious dictator as well as the protagonist. A third, older gentleman who should be familiar from Far Cry 4's announcement trailer, is referred to as Little Bird and seems very unhappy to be involved in all of this business.

In the trailer we see a mix of footage taken from what must be a very early cinematic scene, as well as gameplay footage featuring some of Far Cry 4's more prominent new combat features. That is, we see elephant riding, vehicular combat from inside a truck, leaping from a flying vehicle and then throwing grenades over our shoulder. Did I mention hovercrafts? There are hovercrafts. Also, a tiger eats a dude.

The cinematic footage is also worth taking an interest in. I say it's relatively early in the game, as it seems to be a direct follow-up to the game's launch trailer which has been confirmed as the very first thing players will see in Far Cry 4. We're still learning just who Pagan Min is at this point in the game, which means we get to see more casual violence from the mad king of Kryat. Just wait until you find out how he came to power...

Far Cry 4 is planned for release on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox On, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 starting November 18. There's all sorts of preorder and DLC crap too, if that's what you're into.


Games With Gold debuts Chariot on Xbox One, Bad Company 2 and Darksiders II to Xbox 360 in October

4 comments Rory Young - 2:55pm (PST) Like Share

Where are this chariot's horses? Why are you looking at me?

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Another month goes by, another Games With Gold approaches for both the Xbox One and Xbox 360. Xbox 360 gamers will be pleased to find two relatively large, if a tad dated, action-packed games coming to their console in October. Xbox One Games With Gold members, however, may be mixed. The bad news is that only one new title will be introduced to the Xbox One via Games With Gold, again. The good news is that it will be an indie debut on the console. 

Chariot, the utterly charming indie title where a king's daughter and her fiance transport their father's coffin to a location of their father's (ghost's) choosing, is the Xbox One Games With Gold title of the month. It will be replacing Super Time Force, which was added in September. While it's not the highest profile title, it does look like a lot of fun and it's a great way to support the ID@Xbox program. Oh, and it has co-op too, which I'm starting to think is requisite from Games With Gold titles.

Xbox 360's Games With Gold titles should appeal to quite a few more gamers, though I'd hope everyone's played at least one of these games by now. Darksiders II, from the now dead and buried Vigil Games, will be the first Games With Gold release of October. Think Zelda mixed with the apocalypse, only now with fancy Borderlands loot drops. Game number two is Battlefield: Bad Company 2. These days, among the Battlefield faithful, Bad Company 2 is referred to as perhaps the most recent outstanding Battlefield shooter (without excessive problems, at least).

There's Microsoft trio of October games that come free with Games With Gold. Considering everyone with an Xbox probably has Xbox Live Gold out of necessity these days, since most of their big exclusives are multiplayer-focused, then the more fun for everyone! 

Thanks for the tip, Fortitudo!


Assassin's Creed Unity Season Pass adds 'Dead Kings' story DLC, China-based spin-off

1 comments Rory Young - 9:17pm (PST) Like Share

Man, and I was hoping for Zombie George Washington Returns DLC

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Assassin's Creed Unity is about a month and a half away from its November 11 launch in North America. Pre-release hype is growing to mass capacity and veteran gamers should know what that means in our modern era -- Season Pass announcement time. At least there's no competitive multiplayer packs in this one! Unity's Season Pass will package together story DLC, additional missions, and even an entire spin-off game set in China. No pricing details have yet been revealed.

As ever, there will be a mix of content types with Assassin's Creed Unity's Season Pass. As such, it's likely that everyone will want to look at each piece of the pack and weigh whether it's worth picking up the full Season Pass as opposed to just one or two pieces individually. Here are the three DLC packs included in the Season Pass:

  • Assassin's Creed Unity Dead Kings - A story campaign DLC that takes place after the ending of Assassin's Creed Unity. Described as "the darkest story" explored in the Assassin's Creed franchise, Dead Kings takes players to the rural city of Saint Denis where France's royalty has been traditionally buried. Secrets lie buried here as well. A self-contained story that unlocks weapons, gear, skills and outfits that can carry over to the main game.
  • Assassin's Creed Unity Missions, Weapons, and Outfits - Additional content added to the main Assassin's Creed Unity setting in Paris. The three missions are titled The American Prisoner, Killed by Science and The Chemical  Revolution. Includes "over 30" new weapons, outfits and equipment on launch day.

  • Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China - An all new spin-off title which takes the Assassin's Creed franchise in a 2.5D direction. The side-view standalone game is developed by Climax Studios, not Ubisoft, and takes place in 16th century China. Players take on the role of Shao Jun, a pupil of Ezio Auditore, as she acts out her revenge using stealth and action. Shao Jun first appeared in Assassin's Creed: Embers, a CG short that was released with Assassin's Creed Revelations in 2011, during which the woman (on the run, then) sought out Ezio and beseeched him to train her.

The Season Pass is described to incude over 8 hours of content and pre-ordering the DLC will unlock an exclusive weapon, the War Axe. And while pricing has not yet been announced, the total cost for purchasing the Season Pass will be 30% cheaper than purchasing each piece of DLC individually. 

I'm actually really interested in both the Dead Kings DLC and Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China. The dark nature of the former and the stylized 2D f the latter are great directions for the franchise and I'm glad they're able to be explored as DLC. However, mixing in the third part of the Season Pass, the outfits, weapons, and missions, is extraneous and is only there to justify the price. Basically, everyone's paying for the other two pieces of DLC and getting the other content free. It's not really much of a deal in that regard.

Assassin's Creed Unity launches on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC starting November 11. Well, that is unless the PC version is delayed as Ubisoft loves to do. Both the game and its Season Pass are likely available for pre-order right now.

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Dark Souls II TGS assets for Crown of the Ivory King tease an icy nightmare

7 comments Rory Young - 1:35pm (PST) Like Share

It's a good thing nothing in this world seems to have a beating heart

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After both Crown of the Sunken King and Crown of the Old Iron King were both astonishingly well received, Dark Souls II fans have been craving the release of the third and final pack. Concluding The Lost Crowns DLC trilogy, Crown of the Ivory King will take players to an ancient, frozen and lifeless castle. Launching on September 24, the one remaining question isn't whether or not it'll be great content, but whether it'll appease fans who know there's no more content left to come.

In the more than a dozen screenshots that were released alongside the ongoing Tokyo Games Show, well, there's very little to be seen. Unfortunately the screenshots aren't particularly picturesque when compared to some of Dark Souls II's more colorful and livelier environments. Ivory Crown's setting is, for better or worse, an icy wasteland. It's hollow, empy, cold and lonely. In other words, it's the perfect place for a Dark Souls II DLC pack to take place, but not so much for a series of screenshots.

One boon of the early look at the DLC is that we're shown a handful of enemies from the region. Undead soldiers covered in shards of ice, a stag of some sort with long, curling horns who is also adorned in icicles, and of course an odd cyclops/golem who seems to have gotten the better of a player. Or maybe these are all enemies also in the main game and I'll get called out for being a Dark Souls noob here.

Dark Souls II's third and final DLC pack, Crown of the Ivory King, will be available starting September 24. In the mean time, hopefully these screenshots can tide fans over. Either that, or they're still busy with Old Iron King. The full game is currently available on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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Final Fantasy Type-0 HD coming to North America March 17, Final Fantasy XV demo bundled

2 comments Rory Young - 10:02pm (PST) Like Share

How is this even the same game as the PSP version?

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Before Final Fantasy XV arrives in either late 2015 or 2016, it will be preceded by what could be considered its sister title. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD will be launching on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One starting May 17 of 2015, followed by a March 20 launch in Europe. Accompanying the release date reveal are two other things. First is an all new trailer showing the HD remaster in motion. Second is the huge announcement that a Final Fantasy XV demo titled, Final Fantasy -EPISODE DUSCAE-, will be packed in with the game at launch.

Fans can expect an experience that may be more akin to what we'll get with Final Fantasy XV than any other Final Fantasy title currently available. To be fair, it has been on the market since it launched in 2011 for the PlayStation Portable. Still, a lot of the tech that is going into Final Fantasy XV was also used in the early days for Final Fantasy XV -Type-0. Heck, Type-0's director is now the director for Final Fantasy XV! That's how closely related the two are.

I'd  say that the HD remaster may as well be an entirely different game at this point, when compared to its earlier 2011 iteration. As shown in the trailer, the visual are almost incomparable to its predecessor. All of Square Enix's modern technology has gone into making the game look beautiful. Well, a beautiful as a 2011 PlayStation Portable game can look with upgraded PlayStation 4 and Xbox One visuals.

One final detail to make note of is that Final Fantasy Type-0 HD will cost the full $60 price of a new game. Perhaps that much work did go into remastering the PSP game for modern consoles, or perhaps Square Enix is betting that the Final Fantasy XV demo will push sales. I agree.

Final Fantasy Type-0 will be available starting on May 17, 2015 in North America and May 20, 2015 in Europe.