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August 2010

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Is Looking Better All The Time

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Many of you probably remember my ongoing adoration for Burnout Paradise from Criterion Games and Electronic Arts.  Burnout is the most fun I've had with a non-kart racing game in, well, ever, so it's only natural that I'd have my eye on Criterion's next production as it takes the reins of the Need For Speed franchise with Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC.  Due out in November, will the game be like Burnout?  Will it have the action I'd expect without the Need For Speed: Shift-like attention to minute detail that isn't really my thing?  GamesRadar has a few thoughts on those subjects that have me liking what I see.

You've got forks in the road which offer shortcuts. Forest fires that limit visibility. You've even got player-triggered special moves like fireballs which race up the track to show you what's ahead, exploding barrels called in from helicopters and spike strips to stop your target getting away.  One look at the Gamescom gameplay demo will show you that (fireballs aside) the new game embraces these sensibilities, adding all the sprinkles that current-gen tech can add to this already rich racing cake, in particular social networking and 'always on' online integration. Check it out:

The reason everybody loves Trials HD and Geometry Wars 2 is because they like seeing how well their mates did when they played the current level. It gives every race genuine meaning that you simply cannot achieve from racing AI cars alone. Even if you're not racing your mates on the same track at the same time, they'll always be there, taunting you with another ten seconds of being better than you. It's arguably everything Burnout Paradise tried to be, only with more structure and therefore more meaning in-game. Who cares if you're slower down some backstreet in Paradise City? This time it really matters.

This looks like what I want to see in a racing game: intense action and thrilling chases.  I'm not really a "car guy".  I don't want to tweak and fine-tune every last nut and bolt on a car and then run laps around a conventional racetrack to see if it runs one mile per hour faster than my previous attempt.  I want to dodge spike strips dropped from helicopters and take down other cars that get in my way by ramming them off the road.  So far, Hot Pursuit looks like it's offering plenty of that kind of action.

Fun With Arranged Music: Gotta Be Quick, Man

Quick Man I hate to conjure up sour memories of force beams and super-speedy Robot Masters, but today's fun with arranged music involves Quick Man's stage from Capcom's Mega Man 2. This techno arrangement of the stage belonging to the Robot Master we all loved to hate back in Nintendo Entertainment System days isn't usually the kind of music I enjoy (too many endlessly looping drums in most techno tunes for my tastes), but considering that the original 8-bit theme was done in as close to a techno style as was technologically possible, this arrangement from the 2007 20th Anniversary Rockman 1~6 Techno Arrange Ver. album is a nice fit with its pounding beat and background shouts. Just don't forget to recharge your Time Stopper before proceeding!

20th Anniversary Rockman 1~6 Techno Arrange Ver. - "Quickman Mix"

Fun With Arranged Music

A Mushroom Of Mario

Mario Evolution

As the years have gone by, Nintendo's famous Mario has changed his look again and again to keep up with the technology and the times. This mushroom-shaped collage of Mario's evolution from 1981 to present shows his many different looks from pixels to polygons. Wondering which game featured Mario wearing a snorkel? Or when Mario rode a motorbike? The "answer key" to this image is over at Kaycircle.

(via Reddit; thanks to PTB reader Jim.)

Mafia II Radio Transports You Back In Time

Mafia II The 1940s and 1950s are a popular era in which to set a video game what with World War II and the ongoing rise of organized crime in the United States and all.  2K Games sees the appeal in it, as the company's impending Mafia II for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC has an eye on capturing the design aesthetic of the mid-twentieth century.  It takes more than visual design to nail the atmosphere of that time period, however.  It also requires a realistic soundtrack that includes such artists as Jackie Wilson, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Dean Martin.  As part of the Mafia II promotional push, a free Pandora radio station has been created featuring eighty-two songs from the game's period-specific soundtrack featuring the aforementioned musicians and plenty of others.  Check it out if you need a musical blast from sixty years ago to get into the Mafia mood.

The Saga Of Samus Aran Prepares You For Metroid: Other M

Samus AranAre you confused on just how the upcoming Wii release from Nintendo, Metroid: Other M, ties into the Metroid timeline?  It can be a bit complicated at this point considering that few of the games were released in chronological order.  One of my co-worker pals asks me to review Samus Aran's story for him at least once a month, and by now I'm getting a little tired of telling it all over again. Can't someone else handle narration duties for a while? From now on I can just direct him (and all of you) to this new video autobiography produced by Nintendo in preparation of the new release in which the important events of Metroid, Metroid II: Return of Samus, Super Metroid, and Metroid: Other M are explained by Samus herself in proper sequence.  Kombo has a little extra analysis on the matter if you hunger for more.  Be warned that there are awesome spoilers for the new game towards the end of the show.

While I love the idea of the official backstory being narrated by the character involved, it's a shame that the events of the Metroid Prime sub-series and Metroid Fusion were left out of the recap.  It's understandable why they were excluded, of course.  Those games do not set up the Other M plot, so it would just be confusing to lump them in as irrelevant material.  Which do you think is easier to explain: the fairly straight-forward events of three games or the convoluted events of eight games?

Fun With Arranged Music: Eggman's Last Laugh

Dr. Eggman Today's fun with arranged music goes an extra level deep.  Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog CD is notorious for its pair of distinct soundtracks, as the original Japanese compositions were swapped out for the North American market with entirely new material.  To fully appreciate today's arrangement, you may want to familiarize yourself with Dr. Eggman's boss themes from the Japanese and European versions of Sonic CD if you're not already familiar with them, as this track from 1994's Sonic the Hedgehog Remix, "Dr. Gigglyman", turns to them for inspiration.  At least, that's what they tell me.  The contrasting styles between the original music and the arranged take are so different that it's difficult to see how they can possibly overlap.  Every now and then I can hear a little bit of the Sega CD soundtrack in the arrangement, but it's fleeting at best.  Still, the arrangement is solid enough to stand on its own even if you can't track it to the source.

Sonic the Hedgehog Remix - "Dr. Gigglyman"

Fun With Arranged Music

Cheating Red Dead Players Have One Last Chance At Redemption

Red Dead Redemption There's a special breed of low-life lurking the trails of New Austin in Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 (and I'm not just talking about Dutch van der Linde).  Cheaters are running amok on the game's online multiplayer mode thanks to hacked save files that grant the most powerful weapons, the best status upgrades, and other such things that completely break the game's usually balanced attributes.  Ever check the leaderboards and find that the top players have completed challenges in zero seconds?  Yes, that would be cheaters in action.  Well, Rockstar's had about enough of this madness and is preparing to kick them from the game once and for all.  Anyone playing with a hacked save file has just a few days left to come clean and regain honor.  Here are the details:

Next week, starting on Tuesday, August 24th – we will be swiftly and indefinitely banishing from the world of Red Dead Redemption multiplayer all Gamertags and PSN IDs we’ve detected  with hacked game saves.  Such cheating is a clear violation of our code of conduct, and punishable at our sole discretion.

If you are one of these people, we are giving you this last chance for REDEMPTION to restore your HONOR: you have one week from today to delete your hacked game save to be spared the hammer’s swift justice on the 24th.

Some notes to be aware of:

  • This will not apply to those people who simply took advantage of temporary exploits to rapidly grind up XP a few weeks ago. We are able to tell who actually hacked their save to have impossible scores.
  • Banned hackers will also be removed from the leaderboards.
  • To be spared, any hacked saves that you have will need to be deleted – single player as well as multiplayer. You should be aware that everything is wiped when deleting saves. These are the only exceptions:
    • Players would keep any Achievements/Trophies they had already earned.
    • All preorder items tied to their accounts would be unlocked for them upon signing in and creating a new save while connected to Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network
    • Any cheats earned through Social Club would be unlocked for them upon signing in and creating a new save while connected to Xbox LIVE or PlayStation Network
  • After deleting your hacked game save(s), you will then need to go online with Red Dead Redemption (prior to August 24th) for it to register that you're now playing clean. For single-player saves, you will need to re-play the game while connected until you gain access to the safehouse at MacFarlane's ranch. For multiplayer saves, you will need to play one full game online or do one Gang Hideout.

I love how Rockstar is policing the old west to keep the cheaters and griefers from interfering with the honest fun.  This kind of moderation makes me want to keep coming back to the game which, in turn, not only keeps in on my mind and in print here at PTB, but will also will inevitably lead me to buy more of the upcoming downloadable add-ons that are in the works.  Meanwhile, I have fun playing the game.  Everybody wins.  Except the cheaters, of course.  I think they've "won" enough already.

Infernal Engine Marches On

Terminal Reality PTB readers who were around last year will remember how much I anticipated and enjoyed Atari's Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Sony PlayStation 3 version technical issues aside) as developed by Terminal Reality and powered by the company's Infernal Engine.  As it turns out, the Engine is good for more than just busting ghosts.  It can also drive a number of other titles across major platforms based on a number of licensed properties.  Check out this list of upcoming Infernal games:

  • Wipeout: The Game (Wii) 
  • Disney’s Guilty Party (Wii)
  • Def Jam Rapstar (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)
  • The Force Unleashed II (Wii)
  • The Grinder (Xbox 360, PS3)
  • Thor (Wii, PSP)
  • Captain America (Wii, PSP)

If I learned anything that wasn't related to Ghostbusters when talking to Terminal Reality's Glenn Gamble last year, it's that the company is very proud of the Infernal Engine.  I'm glad to see that the Engine is getting around because I like to see talented developers rewarded for hard work, but on a more selfish level, I'm still hoping for a Ghostbusters video game sequel and Terminal's continued success is a step in the right direction towards that.

New Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Features Co-Op, Playable Dr. Nefarious

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Insomniac Games finally pulled the curtain back on its new Ratchet & Clank project with the reveal of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One for the Sony PlayStation 3.  The co-op multiplayer title for four players launches in Fall 2011 and features new crazy weapons and playable characters such as Captain Qwark and Dr. Nefarious.  Check out the trailer to see how it all goes down (and find out what's become of Qwark after being stranded in space with the killer beast that is Snowball at the end of A Crack in Time) and get the quote about just what this game entails direct from Insomniac:

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a four-player co-opexperience with huge cinematic-quality battles and tons of cooperative gameplay. While Dr. Nefarious and Captain Qwark are no strangers to the Ratchet & Clank franchise, in All 4 One, you will be able to play as them alongside both Ratchet and Clank. If that wasn’t enough, there will also be an online drop-in, drop-out feature, so you can play together side-by-side or online with up to three other friends.

The co-op angle worries me a little since I seem to have trouble collecting friends for online multiplayer (put down the Xbox 360 controller and turn on your PS3 once in a while, darnit), but more Ratchet & Clank is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned, and being able to play as Dr. Nefarious is just the icing on the cake.  A year seems like a long time to wait, but I bet there's plenty more to this game that we haven't seen yet.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The Uninterested Mainstream

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World Yesterday afternoon I made my way to the back of the multiplex to the smallest theater in the building for one of the four showings of Scott Pilgrim vs The World scheduled for the day.  You know a movie is in trouble when it's been dumped to the wasteland on its fourth day of release.  I took a center seat in the middle row for what started as a private screening, but by the end of the first act, a few more people had trickled in.  The film opened to a disappointing $10.5 million in fifth place at the box office behind more marketable and mainstream movies such as The Expendables and repeat business for Inception, but Internet buzz had predicted a strong future for Pilgrim.  So what happened?  What went wrong? 

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