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October 2011

Sonic Generations Includes Free Retro Bonuses

Classic SonicSega's Sonic Generations celebrates twenty years of fantastic (and not-so-fantastic, sadly) Sonic the Hedgehog goodness, so it's only right that the new title includes special unlockable bonuses that bring back old favorites from yesterday.  As Game Informer reports, the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 versions of the game each include the original Sega Genesis version of Sonic the Hedgehog as a free unlockable, while those who purchase the Steam version of Generations for PC will receive Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic 3 and Knuckles as extras.

At this point, all three of these freebies are old as the hills and have been around the block numerous times in retro compilations and digital re-releases.  Everybody should have played them by now in some format.  However, it's great to have them back around here one more time (and for free is always nice).  Steam owners are definitely getting the better deal here with the stellar Sonic 3 and Knuckles, but I'm not about to look a gift hedgehog in the mouth.  Sonic Generations speeds into stores next week.

Hello, Batman? Joker Calling!

The recently released Batman: Arkham City for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 (PC version coming soon!) is packed with all kinds of awesomeness, but one of the best parts of the game comes in the form of voicemail messages left for Batman by the Joker himself.  Throughout the game the Clown Prince of Crime calls the Dark Knight and offers his thoughts on the current progress of the story as Batman attempts to survive inside the walls of Arkham City.  Check out these messages and enjoy Mark Hamill's final performance as the one and only Joker.  There are some spoilers here; in fact, I stopped this video midway through in order to avoid hearing messages that I haven't encountered in the game yet.  I love the absurdity of a villain leaving exasperated messages for the hero to return his calls.  Joker is really the only character that can get away with this.  Penguin sending e-mails or Mr. Freeze waiting on hold just wouldn't have the same impact.

Another Super Mario 3D Land Trailer Appears

These viewings of Nintendo's latest trailers for Super Mario 3D Land are becoming a regular occurrence here.  Almost a tradition, really.  It'll be a shame once the game releases next month for the Nintendo 3DS and the teasing stops.  Of course, then we move on to something greater and actually play the game.  So, yes, here's the latest trailer that shows new elements such as Boomerang Mario in action and a peek at boss Boom Boom's female counterpart.  Of course, these elements aren't so new if you've been reading Press The Buttons where I've shown you both of these additions to the Mario mythos over the past few weeks.  Reading PTB keeps you ahead of the game (no pun intended).

Complete L.A. Noire Breaks Free Next Month

Cole PhelpsIf you missed out on Rockstar's detective adventure L.A. Noire for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 earlier this year, then here's a chance to rectify that mistake.  Publisher Take-Two Interactive has announced that it's re-releasing the game next month with all of the paid downloadable content included at a $50 price point.  It's L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition!  Here's some of the press release:

Rockstar Games, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), and Team Bondi Pty. Ltd., are proud to announce that L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition is coming to the PlayStation(R)3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360(R) video game and entertainment system from Microsoft on November 15, 2011 in North America and November 18, 2011 internationally.

Similar to its PC counterpart, L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition on consoles will feature all of the previously released downloadable content for L.A. Noire, including the "Nicholson Electroplating" Arson case, "Reefer Madness" Vice case, "The Consul's Car" Traffic case, "The Naked City" Vice case , "A Slip of the Tongue" Traffic case, The Badge Pursuit Challenge, and all weapons and outfits released to date.

If you're on the fence about this one and want to know what I think about the game, let me tell you this: I gladly purchased the Season Pass for all of the extra DLC cases without hesitation, and long-time readers know that isn't something that I do lightly or often.  L.A. Noire is one of the most inventive games that I've played this year and it'll take you to some interesting places in ways that other Rockstar games such as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption will not.  It requires more overall thinking and patience than shooting and driving like a madman (but there is some of that included, too), and while it's not going to be my pick for overall game of the year, it's a wonderful experience and is highly recommended.   I've been taking my time with it to draw out the experience and fully appreciate it all, and while I haven't completed everything yet, I'm comfortable putting my stamp of approval on the game.  Now that all of the extra material is included in this new edition, there's even more of an incentive for you to check it out.  For more on L.A. Noire, be sure to listen to Episode 52 of Power Button.

PlayStation Vita Launches Internationally In February 2012

PlayStation VitaGet your preorders ready because the Sony PlayStation Vita is just a few months away from launching.  February 22, 2012 is the appointed day where for $250 (Wi-Fi only) or $300 (3G from AT&T and Wi-Fi) you can take home a Vita of your very own.  The PlayStation Blog has the usual marketing message:

This afternoon on stage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, I shared some very exciting news that I know the PlayStation Nation has been anticipating since we unveiled PlayStation Vita back in January. For those looking to get their hands on the ultimate in handheld entertainment, I’m thrilled to let you know that starting on February 22, 2012, PS Vita will be available at major retailers in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe.

That's really the only new information in this announcement, although Joystiq adds that the February date also applies to Africa, the Middle East, and Australia.  Are any of you out there going to spring for a Vita at launch?  I know lately it seems that I spend a lot of time telling you why I'm not planning to buy something, but I think I'm going to hold off on this one for a little bit.  While I'm interested in what the Vita has to offer and do plan to pick one up eventually, I have enough games to keep me occupied for a while.  Time and money are premiums these days, and I don't want to spend either on something that will sit in its overpriced charging cradle more often than not.  Moreover, after what happened with the Nintendo 3DS this year, I'm not eager to repeat history if the Vita has a slow start.  Don't get me wrong; I really want to like the Vita and see it do well.  I just can't muster up the excitement quite yet.

Uncharted 3 Joins The Season Pass Club

Fortune Hunters' ClubThere won't be any single-player expansions for Nathan Drake's next adventure, but you'd better believe there will be multiplayer add-ons.  Since extensive downloadable content offerings continue to proliferate, if you're going to buy into the DLC plans for your favorite Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 title, then you might as well save some money with a Season Pass bundle scheme that packs several add-ons into a single discounted purchase.  Following in the footsteps of games such as Mortal Kombat and L.A. Noire, Sony has announced that Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception for the PlayStation 3 will offer several post-release DLC packs as part of a Season Pass bundle that it's calling the Fortune Hunters' Club.  A $25 prepay commitment will snag you the first seven multiplayer expansions.  Here are the details from the PlayStation Blog:

The Fortune Hunters’ Club DLC program entitles you to the first four multiplayer map packs and the first three multiplayer skin packs for UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception with the first DLC release coming in November. Pre-order now for only $24.99 and immediately score the exclusive Fortune Hunters’ Club THEME, then with each DLC release you will receive an XMB message on your PS3 linking you directly to the content on the PlayStation Store! Valued at over $45.00, these DLC releases will be must-haves for any UNCHARTED fan.

If you're planning to dig deep into this latest Uncharted experience, then the club is definitely the way to go.  We talked a bit about Season Passes on Episode 61 of Power Button and while I generally approve of the prepay bundle plan, I still think that it's a bit shady that all of this DLC is planned out and for sale before the actual game is released.  I always appreciate a good discount, but I still can't help but think that we're being gouged here for content that in the old pre-PS3/X360 days would have been included on the retail disc.  Sometimes I think that pricing the DLC at a bundled discount just encourages the publishers to raise the overall price of DLC in order to make the Season Pass look like a tremendous deal.  There's $45 of extra content coming for Uncharted 3 in addition to the $60 price of the basic game.  That's $105 for the whole experience, and even then there may be more DLC coming after this, as Sony specifies that this bundle includes the first four map packs and first three skin packs.  A fifth map pack or fourth skin pack would cost more money on top of the Season Pass price.  The more I hear about Uncharted 3, the more I think I may just rent the game when it releases next month to play the single-player story and wait to buy the inevitable "Game of the Year" re-release next year that includes all of the DLC for no additional cost.  Getting the complete experience of a given video game is starting to become more expensive than I'm comfortable with paying.

Time For Another One Day Sale At

Buy somethin' will ya! is holding another of its one-day-only sales on video games through its Gold Box selection of Lightning Deals.  The main Deal of the Day is the recently released Spider-Man: Edge of Time for the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii at a price of $39.99 ($29.99 for Wii).  Other games on sale throughout the day include a new Legend of Heroes title, Marvel vs Capcom 3, a Phoenix Wright adventure, a PS3 headset, and much more.  Check out the selection and see if there's anything you like, as a portion of each purchase made through the green link above goes to help support Press The Buttons.

CONTEST: Win NBA 2K12 For Xbox 360

NBA 2K12

UPDATE: The contest is over.  Congratulations to the winner!

This year's real NBA season is in peril, but the virtual NBA season on the Microsoft Xbox 360 is in full swing via NBA 2K12 from 2K Sports.  I'm giving away a copy of the game to one lucky Press The Buttons reader courtesy of Take Two and 2K Sports.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below explaining why you want to play the game along with a valid contact e-mail address.  Additionally you can retweet the contest announcement tweet on the PTB Twitter feed and follow @PressTheButtons for an extra entry.  You can even follow @ThePowerButton for a third entry on top of that.  I'll choose the winner on the afternoon of Monday, October 24, 2011, so you'd better get your entry/entries in before then.  Now it's time for the traditional stating of the rules.  Contest open only to those with a North American mailing address, PTB is not responsible for lost or misdelivered entries or prizes, the winner will be notified to provide a mailing address for prize delivery, let us make a journey to the cave of monsters.  Good luck!

Cole McGrath Goes Dark In inFamous 2: Festival Of Blood

inFamous 2: Festival Of BloodWhile most downloadable expansions require one to own the original base game, Sony and Sucker Punch are taking things in a different direction with the upcoming addition to this year's inFamous 2 for the Sony PlayStation 3.  The new Festival of Blood DLC sends protagonist Cole McGrath into the world of the undead in an adventure set around the Halloween season, but doesn't require the actual inFamous 2 disc to play.  Casting shadows of last year's Undead Nightmare zombie expansion for Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption, inFamous is joining the vampire cult next week at a price of $15 on the PlayStation Store.  Here's Kotaku's take on the matter:

Festival of Blood actually focuses on Zeke, Cole's chubby, Elvis-obsessed sidekick, as he spins a tall tale while trying to pick up a woman in a bar. Zeke spins a yarn that has Cole being kidnapped by a tribe of vampires, who are led by new villain Bloody Mary. Cole's electromagnetic powers prove no match for the vampires' numbers and mystical abilities and he gets turned into a bloodsucker. Bloody Mary's disembodied voice taunts Cole throughout the missions, challenging him to find her and kill her before sun-up comes and he becomes a vampire permanently.

The biggest change in FOB might be the elimination of the Karma Meter, which has measured how much of an altruistic hero or a selfish vigilante you're making Cole become as the game progresses. Different powers become available depending on how good or bad you are, but Festival of Blood will have only one new set of skills-along with Cole's electrical powers—for players to unlock. One of them fundamentally changes how you get around New Marais. Shadow Swarm lets Cole fly, changing him into a swarm of bats. It works well with the new Move support that's also coming to the game. The new abilities get governed by a Corruption Meter, a beating heart which gets filled by the blood you consume from NPCs. Cole's new powers also include a Punch Blast, a wave of force that pushes enemies back and a stake kill.

Removing the Karma Meter seems to change the nature of the inFamous experience at first glance, watering it down to appeal to a wider audience.  What I find most interesting about Festival of Blood is that it's exactly the kind of product that Sucker Punch's developer colleagues at Naughty Dog have expressly dismissed for Uncharted 3. After all, what else is this vampire add-on if not a single-player expansion (despite not requiring the original game)?  I thoroughly enjoyed inFamous 2 when I played through it earlier this year, but despite my interest, I don't know that I need Festival of Blood right now.  As I've said elsewhere, the rest of 2011 is completely packed with new games that will demand plenty of time & money and carry me well into next year, so I don't know that I can or even want to squeeze in another one.  Still, I like the idea of more inFamous and will get around to it eventually. 

No Single-Player DLC For Uncharted 3

Uncharted 3Nathan Drake fans had better make the most of the storyline of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception for the Sony PlayStation 3 when it releases in a few weeks, as developer Naughty Dog has announced that there will be no post-release downloadable content for the game's single-player mode.  Instead the company plans to focus on DLC for multiplayer modes: more maps, more character skins, etc.  Eurogamer has the news.

"There's a very specific reason," game director Justin Richmond told Eurogamer. "Whenever we sit down and think we should do some single-player DLC, someone pitches something and we realize - that's a five hour level."

"Dialling back our ambition is difficult," admitted Naughty Dog community strategist Arne Meyer.

"We'd rather build out another game than we would do episodic content," Richmond continued. "We're so small that we can't afford to have a whole team working on DLC."

While disappointing, this decision works in my favor.  I would have gladly paid for more single-player material, but my interest in multiplayer is fleeting at best.  I kick the tires on deathmatch modes and co-op with friends will keep my interest for a week or so, but after that I have no desire to be constantly gunned down by random Internet people who have all day and all night to level up and refine their skills.  I've been playing the Uncharted 3 multiplayer mode unlocked by the Subway promotion and despite getting in on the action a few days after the game became available, everyone that I encounter has already reached the maximum level while I'm still at Level 2.  I don't have the time or the patience to build my own skills against a team of players that kill me dead in one shot every time I respawn, so what's my incentive to continue on?  I play games like Uncharted for the story, so without more of that story to come through DLC, I'll be finished and ready to move on after completing the single-player mode and wearing out interest in co-op mode.