Category Archives: Trailers

Batman: Arkham Knight Review

Arkham KnightBatman: Arkham Knight (Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Release Date: June 23, 2015

Parent Talk: Arkham Knight is rated M for mature because of blood, suggestive themes, strong language, and violence. Like the previous games in the series, Batman doesn’t use lethal force, however his enemies do. This isn’t an overlay graphic videogame, however it does indeed deal with mature subject matter and young kids would be advised against playing this.

Plays Like: If you have played Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, or Arkham Origins you have a very good idea of what to expect with Arkham Knight. You take on the role of Batman, and have all of Gotham City to explore. Your mission is to stop Scarecrow and figure out who the Arkham Knight is. You’ll use stealth, some fantastic gadgets, and Batman’s brute force to bring justice back to Gotham City.

Review Basis: I finished the PS4 version of the game with 96% overall completion rating, and if I have the time I plan to go back and collect all of the Riddler trophies so that I can see the game’s true ending.

Batman: Arkham Knight is the final chapter in Rocksteady’s incredible Arkham Trilogy. While I have very little doubt Warner Bros. will continue the series moving forward, this was an incredible way for Rocksteady to say good-bye to the series they popularized. After having completed the game, I sat back for a few moments to take it all in. This really is the end, and what an incredible journey it has been. Comic book videogames aren’t supposed to be this good.

This is MY city!
This is MY city!

The Great:

This is the end. With those words begins one of the most dramatic and best ending sequences I have ever seen in a videogame. What started with Arkham Asylum is now truly over. Arkham Knight takes everything I loved about that game, its incredible combo system, great detective mode, and deep story, and expands upon it in such a way that makes you feel as though Batman couldn’t possibly get any more powerful, and that his tale has finally reached its climax. The open world city from Arkham City is here, but it has been greatly fleshed out, and Batman’s rogue gallery has never been more interesting. Add in a wide assortment of new moves, expanded gadgets, and the Batmobile, and you have yourself the best comic book videogame I have ever had the honor of playing. It all comes together perfectly.

Just look at all the special effects.
Just look at all the special effects.

The Good:

  • The story manages to recognize what came before in both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and expands on the mythos by introducing a new element, the Arkham Knight. A mysterious figure that seems to know an awful lot about Batman. Throw in a masterplan of the Scarecrow, and the return of an old enemy, and you have a tale woven so perfectly that it will be hard for another action game to top this for a long time to come. I wish I could go on and on about the story, but I truly want you all to experience it for yourself.
  • Gadgets galore. While most of the gadgets return from the previous games, you can put them to great use here in new and interesting ways. All gadgets can be upgraded as well making something that was once an ok solution to taking out certain enemies or elements in the battlefield like the Disruptor to a gadget that you will whip out every chance you get because of how powerful and diverse it can become.
  • Detective Mode. Scan bodies for clues, look through walls to see how best to take out certain enemies, everything that makes Batman the world’s greatest detective is at your fingertips. There is one series of missions in particular that really nails the detective in Batman. During story missions Batman will frequently have to put clues together by looking at recorded footage, or and locating key items. I felt Rocksteady did a wonderful job of really making the player feel as though Batman isn’t just all muscle.
Races are challenging, but a blast.
Races are challenging, but a blast.
  • Speaking of muscle, Batman has a wide assortment of new moves, and all of them can be upgraded via the level system. As you complete each side mission or story mission Batman acquires skill points which can be allocated to several key areas, combat being one of them. With enough practice you’ll get good at the counter and attack system and with upgrades, you’ll become an unstoppable Dark Knight. The combo system is just as fresh and fluid as it has ever been.
  • The Batmobile! I was a little afraid it may be overused when I first started learning how to use it, as it appeared every new mission type revealed would make use of the Batmobile, but very soon afterwards the game starts spicing things up and breaks the game down into two sections, Batmobile and combat. The Batmobile has two modes, a standard card mode which allows you to zip around Gotham’s streets with ease, and then the tank mode which you’ll be using a lot during combat sections. Here you face off against unmanned drones and you take them out with your 6MM cannon and machine guns. The Batmobile takes only a few minutes to get the hang of, and after that you’ll be blasting away even the most challenging foes. It too can be upgraded much like the gadgets and your combat skills.

­+ The City. I’ve got to hand it to Rocksteady, they really nailed the city this time. There are three islands you get to explore, but you never feel overwhelmed. Traversing from one area to the next is quick and easy either through the air, via grappling or on-ground with the Batmobile. Each area is distinct with color and flavor, such as Wayne Tower, ACE Chemicals, and more. I also enjoyed that you didn’t have to go to the Batcave in this game, considering we spent so much time there in the previous games.

  • Riddler’s trophies and challenges return, but thanks to the inclusion of the Batmobile, you really have to think outside the box. There are over 240 items to collect in the game, which will take a very long time to complete, and will put your brain to the test as some of these challenges are extremely complicated to figure out.
  • The voice cast is back. One of the biggest disappointments from Origins was some of the key missing voice actors like Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, but they’re here. The entire voice cast is phenomenal and brings these characters to life, but I’ve got to single out John Noble as Scarecrow, wow what a fantastic job he did. This is by far the creepiest Scarecrow we’ve ever received, and I can’t ever go back to someone else voicing him again. The soundtrack is equally as powerful and rich.
  • Graphically Arkham Knight is a gorgeous game and Gotham City has never looked so detailed. The framerate remains constant for the vast majority of the game, only slowing down a bit when too much action is going on, typically during tank battle portions of the game. I was extremely impressed by the sheer size of the city, the amount of enemies on the streets, and the fact that there is always some sort of particle effect going on either rain or something else. It all comes together to make one impressive package.
The combat is just as excellent as in all the other games.
The combat is just as excellent as in all the other games.

The Ugly:

Since I can’t be sure everyone reading this will have the chance to play through the PlayStation 4 version of the game, I need to mention that the PC version was wrought with problems and Warner Bros. did the unthinkable, they pulled it from retail until the game can be fixed. It was riddled with bugs, glitches, and was barely unplayable. I experienced no such problems with the PS4 version.

The excellent detective mode makes you truly feel like the world's best detective.
The excellent detective mode makes you truly feel like the world’s best detective.

The Lowdown:

Sometimes a game will come along that strikes a chord with me, and this is one such game. I absolutely loved it from the first cinematic to the last mission. It may have been a little obvious who the Arkham Knight was, and yes it might seem a little odd that a man who doesn’t kill anyone would even own a tank capable to demolishing an entire city block, but at the end of the day I felt like Batman playing this game. I felt like I was the world’s greatest detective that I had the best and most colorful enemies in comic book history, and that at the end of it all, this is a very special chapter in the life of Batman that has come to a close. This is one you need to experience.

Final Score: 9.8/10

A Look ahead at 2014’s Indie Releases

Over the past year I’ve personally reviewed DUX 1.5, Sturmwind, Redux: Dark Matters, and most recently Neo XYX.  What is it with the indie scene that I find so interesting?  Well for starters, I absolutely love how indie developers are free to do as they wish.  There’s absolutely nothing holding them back.  If they want to add vulgar language, or ‘mature-themed’ content they’re free to do so.  I just love that.  I also love how the indie scene harkens back to the old days when people used to make games in their basement, and they did this for fun, with no other reason necessary.  The same is true for most of the modern day indie developers.  Do keep in mind I’m only referring to console indie developers here, because on PC it’s a whole other ballgame.  Sure they want to make a little money at the same time, but for the most part is this a labor of love.

This year alone we shall see some truly excellent indie releases.  There’s Pier Solar HD from Watermelon Games, which will be released on Steam, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and Dreamcast.  That’s right, Dreamcast!  Take one guess which version I’ve already got pre-ordered.  That’s right, the Dreamcast version, and the reason is because there’s something magical about opening up a brand new game for a system that died back in 2001.  Pier Solar HD is a reworking of the indie SEGA Genesis RPG of the same name, minus the HD of course.

Pier Solar HD isn’t the only new release.  There’s also Knight’s Chance for the Neo Geo MVS, which we will have the world exclusive for.  That’s right, we’ll be unboxing and reviewing this game before anyone else in the entire planet!  Not only is that very exciting for the site, but also for me as a hardcore gamer.  It’s actually the very first gambling compilation game ever released on the platform.  There are card games, coin games, and more.  It looks extremely fun, and I just love the art style.

Nightmare Busters is a brand new Super NES game that began shipping out December 2013, but I should get mine sometime this year.  It’s an action platformer that is bright and colorful, and is the first brand new release for the Super NES since 1998!  Can you believe that!?!

Hucast will also be releasing the excellent looking shmup Ghost Blade for the Dreamcast later this year.  Hucast are the fine folks that released DUX and Redux.  As we’ve come to expect from all Hucast-published games, you can expect fantastic gameplay and some lush VGA-compatible graphics.

I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting, but these are all highlights to be sure.  I’m very excited to get my hands on all of these games in the coming months, and hope more get announced soon.  Rumor has it NG:Dev Team, the makers of Neo XYX are hard at work on their next Neo Geo MVS release, and believe me when I say, I’ll be there day one for sure!  Which of these games are you looking forward to, or which ones have I missed that I should add to the list?  Let me know!

…And Now For Something Completely Different…

It’s not very often I’ll post a video about a book, which is about the end of arcades in America.  In fact I’ve never done this before.

This was simply too good to pass up.  The novel is called The Final Day at Westfield Arcade and it’s currently available on Amazon.com for about $10, and also via the Kindle shop for around $7.  The trailer for the book looks extremely interested.  For anyone who has ever been into arcade, this will likely be a fantastic read.  If nothing else, the trailer sure brought back some good memories.

The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition Announced

Let’s start the story off with the game’s official trailer.

SNK Playmore released the home console version of KoF XIII back in late November 2011, and now the game is making its way to Steam on September 13th for $29.99. If you pre-order now you can get it for only $24.99. SNK Playmore also revealed there will be an online beta, in order to test the new netcode. If you’re interested you can sign-up here.

The Steam Edition will include all the DLC from the console versions, but the promise of new net code is by far the biggest addition to the game. One of the glaring faults of King of Fighters XIII was the poor netcode.

Anyone up for the challenge?

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – A Night at the Museum

Enjoy this little trip to my Animal Crossing: New Leaf museum.  It’s a joyous adventure where we see dinosaurs, some exotic insects, and some beautiful fish.  Brings a tear to me eye just thinking about it actually.

Wasn’t that the absolute best video you’ve ever seen? I’m sure Jarrod’s jealous his museum can’t compare to mine. What about yours, have any of you maxed out the museum yet?

Irrational Games Reveals Single-Player DLC for BioShock Infinite

Burial at Sea

After what feels like an eternity of waiting, Irrational Games has finally pulled the lid off their story-driven DLC for BioShock Infinite. Ironically enough, the first piece of DLC isn’t story-driven at all. It’s called Clash in the Clouds and is combat-focused, and set in Columbia. It’s out right now on Steam, PSN and Xbox 360, and costs $5 for those who don’t own the $20 Season Pass.

Clash in the Clouds is a horde-based DLC pack, and includes four different challenge maps (The Ops Zeal, Duke & Dimwit Theater, Raven’s Dome and Emporia Arcade). Each map contains 15 waves of enemies, a special challenge and even leaderboards for players to see how they rank. The DLC pack also includes the Columbia Archaeological Society, which acts as an in-game museum of sorts where players can look at original concept art, character models and much more. The pack also extends the lore behind Columbia through unique Voxophones and Kinetoscopes.

The second piece of DLC is indeed story-driven and is called Burial at Sea. It takes place 24 hours before the fall of Rapture. Here’s the official teaser trailer.

Even if you’ve never played BioShock or BioShock Infinite, you’ve got to admit there’s something really appealing to the overall style of the trailer. We don’t have much to go on right now pertaining to concrete details about the DLC, other than the fact that it’s broken up into two parts, and that it will feature a Noir-style Elizabeth. Each part will be $14.99 to those that don’t own the Season Pass, so now might be the time to remedy that. The second part of Burial at Sea will place Elizabeth as the central playable character. We currently have no details on when Burial at Sea will be available, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted. In the meantime my review of BioShock Infinite is finally going up sometime later this week. Yes it’s long overdue, and I apologize for that, but hopefully it’ll be worth the wait!

Capcom Announces New Strider Game for 2014!

For old-school gamers like myself, this is wonderful news.  Check out this awesome trailer Capcom has put together.

Tell me that doesn’t look awesome! Double Helix (developer of the new Killer Instinct) is working on the game and it’s currently gearing up for release in early 2014 for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.  Sorry Nintendo fans, yet again you get the shaft.

Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus Coming This Year!

I’ve got some amazing news for you Ratchet and Clank fans, today Sony and Insomniac announced a brand new entry in the traditional R&C series, Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus.  Check out the debut trailer!

All I can say is hell yeah, it’s about time! There hasn’t been a traditional Ratchet and Clank game since 2009’s A Crack in Time.  I am extremely excited about this, and the good news keeps coming folks.  The game will be released later this year for only $29.99 digitally and at retail.  I’ll have much more information in the coming days but for now, rejoice!

OC ReMix Strikes Again — Final Fantasy VI: Balance & Ruin Finally Released!

If you don’t know what OC ReMix is, get out from under that rock you’re rotting in. An organization set to celebrate videogame music, running strong for 13 years, have finally released their 40th album. Arguably their biggest work yet, what better than to tackle the best of the best? The original composer is Nobuo Uematsu. The game is Final Fantasy VI. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you it’s one of the best entries in the series, which conveniently contains some of the best music in the series, too. Each character in its large cast had a diverse theme, each track tried to go for a certain feel and genre. From Shadow’s country/western-like composition to Emperor Gestahl’s sweeping march symphony that always sends chills down my spine — From the infamous Maria & Draco opera to the quirky and appropriately-named Spinach Rag; Mr. Uematsu’s masterpiece constantly surprises you with versatility and memorable melodies. It’s fitting then that OC ReMix tributes this track in the only way they know how; make it more versatile and memorable. While a soundscape update to the original 16-bit tunes is always a treat, that’s not OCR’s primary goal. Just like Uematsu, they’re here to make videogame music sweep through a lot of genres and expand on the composition on the original melodies in unique ways. One could argue that this style of remixing may cause the original sound to get lost in the shuffle and become undetectable, but OCR’s remixers mostly manage to balance nostalgia and newness excellently. Their previous Final Fantasy album, VII’s Voices of a Lifestream, is one such album in my opinion. It contains some of the best material I’ve heard from OCR, and judging by the preview trailer of FFVI, they’re looking to topple whatever they’ve made in the past.

Epic trailer indeed. I like how they highlight the actual remixers of the album because they truly deserve it. I hear hints of Dancing Mad in there, going for a Middle Eastern fusion sort of thing. Jillian Goldin is featured with her beautiful female vocals. Electric guitars, orchestra, a violin version of Spinach rag, a rock version of Maria & Draco, and the list goes on and on. I have not listened to the full album yet at this time of writing, but I’m looking forward to the ride as soon as I click that publish button. As usual, it’s free to download…but for those who have contributed to the Kickstarter will get their physical edition (with a bonus DVD) soon enough. For now, let’s enjoy some free remixed videogame music. I’m sure a lot of old-school FFVI fans will pick their top 10 favorite remixes off this album, including yours truly. Keep it locked for album impressions!

Giving Nintendo a Run for its Money: Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii Finally Released!

Think the Wii is dead after Pandora’s Tower? Think again. The Wii’s actual swansong is here thanks to its awesome mod community, which is made possible due to flexible homebrew development tools and software apps. Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii is a mod that has been in development for three years, and a sequel to the team’s previous project, Another Super Mario Bros. Wii. I’ve done a small let’s play video of the latter on our YouTube channel, showcasing the dedication this team has. I fully support this type of homebrew as the New Super Mario Bros. disc is required in order to access fan-made DLC. Also, mods have been a completely acceptable practice in PC gaming…yet sadly this has not been officially carried over to consoles due to the companies’ fear of completely cracking open the infrastructure. Well, since the Wii has the least amount of security compared to its competitors, unofficial modding has been one of its major advantages. While Another NSMB was simply a level swap edit with the same world map, audiovisuals, and gameplay concepts, its sequel steps it up a notch. As its trailer showcases, expect a completely redesigned world map, new levels, new challenges, new gameplay elements, new audiovisuals, and even a new suit. Don’t mind the compressed footage as I expect the graphics to look just as good as the original. I’m blown away by what has been shown thus far…the level design in particular is Nintendo-like in quality, unlike many hacks out there. This is by all means a full-on sequel that makes Nintendo own New Super Luigi U looks like, for a lack of better word, green.

You can easily download and install this mod via this website. As long as you have an SD card with over 500MB of free space and the actual NSMB disc, you’re good to go. This will not break or damage your system since you do not need to install the homebrew channel in order to play it. All you need is the Riivolution program, which is a mod manager and the files presented in the zip. All the changes of Newer are temporary so once you reset your Wii, the game reverts back to New Super Mario Bros. Wii until you launch it from the application once more.

Congrats to the team for finally releasing this gem. I’m happy that the release of the Wii U didn’t discourage them from continuing their work on it. I’ve completed the download as I wrote this news post, and I’ll be setting up a let’s play stream with subsequent YouTube mirrors as soon as possible. Keep it locked to COE for more info and coverage.

Sonic: Lost World Debut Trailer Goes X-treme!

Sega has admittedly brought back Sonic from the dead with Sonic Colors and Generations, but the franchise is not back to its full glory yet. Enter Sonic: Lost World, a Nintendo-exclusive title for both the Wii U and 3DS. While it’s too early to judge whether this will really put Sonic back on the map, the snippets of gameplay in this trailer is absolutely awesome. Younger gamers will liken it to a Super Mario Galaxy-esque experience, but older Sega veterans will think even further back in time.

Here’s some gameplay of Sonic X-treme, a cancelled Sega Saturn title which uses a “fish-eye” point of view, combining 2D and 3D elements. Much to my surprise, Sonic: Lost World is obviously heavily inspired by Sega’s past efforts…it’s almost a remake of Sonic X-treme, which actually works really well when combining the Super Mario Galaxy elements into play. I never expected Sega and Sonic Team to look back in this cancelled game with a disastrous development process in order to go forward. It’s a good place to start up a concept from.

The Last of Us Arrives This Week!

Yesterday I received a surprising email. It was from our very good friends over at Sony Computer Entertainment Canada. Believe it or not, but we’ve actually been dealing with these fine folks for almost a decade now. It’s incredible how fast time flies when you’re having fun. The email contained a shocking message, that The Last of Us would arrive at our east austin office space sometime later this week. When exactly is still up in the air, but the very fact we will have one of the biggest games of 2013 this early means we have lots and lots of special coverage planned. So why should you be excited?

For starters The Last of Us is looking like it could be not just one of the best games of 2013, but of the entire generation. Developed by Naughty Dog, the creators of this generation’s Uncharted series, as well as the Jak & Daxter series and the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy, The Last of Us looks like the most ambitious title the studio has ever worked on. Here’s a glimpse at the reveal trailer.

If that doesn’t get the juices flowing, I don’t know what will. Shortly after working on Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog split itself up into two different teams. One got to work on Uncharted 3, while the other started work on this new IP. From the moment I saw the above trailer I was hooked. This looks like a genre defining experience. We already know Naughty Dog are master storytellers, and with this new world they’ve created I can only imagine how all the little touches will come together.

To say I’m excited about The Last of Us would be a lie, I’m ecstatic! I’ve been craving a new survival horror-type game for the longest time. One that combines excellent storytelling, fantastic action, and a sense of danger. While TloU may prove to be just an action game, I think there’s much more going on here than anyone realizes. I’ve also been super excited to try out the revolutionary AI system, which makes your partner character react unlike any other game in this genre. Is this all hype, or have the fine folks at Naughty Dog done the impossible?

In just a few days, the secrets of this brilliant looking game will slowly reveal themselves. In celebration of this monumental occasion, I plan to post a series of articles, all completely spoiler-free, highlighting my time in this unique game world. There will also be a video series I will post where I talk about my reactions. I have to be extremely careful what I say, but I’ve been doing this for a very long time now, so be rest assured I will not spoil anything for you. I know you’re just as excited about this game as I am.

Next-Gen Xbox Revealed

After months of speculating when Microsoft would announce their next-gen Xbox, we now have all the details. Revealed during today’s Xbox: A New Generation Revealed conference, Microsoft confirmed a wide assortment of details and features for their new console. Let’s kick things off with the name. Say hello to the Xbox One.

Xbox One1

Kinect 2.0

xboxone-reveal-9

Tech Specs:

All we know as of now is that the system features 8GB of system memory, USB 3.0 ports, an 8-core CPU, 64-bit architecture, built-in Wi-Fi, HDMI in/out ports, and a 500GB HDD. Further details are expected in the coming hours/days leading up to E3.

One of the very first features the company revealed was full and dynamic voice recognition. This allows the new Kinect to turn the system on, and realizes exactly who you are. “Xbox on” will turn the system on and boots into the new dashboard. The new dashboard looks similar to that of the 360, except that it modifies itself based on what you play, watch, and listen to. Kinect uses new smart technology in order to switch between live TV, Internet Explorer, playing games, etc. It only takes a a second to switch between whatever it is you want to do with the console. You can also use hand gestures in order to go back to the home screen, switch channels, etc.

There’s a new Snap mode, which allows the console to multitask (i.e run more than one app at a time). An example shown was watching Star Trek, while cruising the net about the sequel, on the side of the screen. Skype is also seamlessly built into the console, and will feature group chatting and more. Switching between all these different apps is done through your voice, and hand gestures with the new Kinect.

Xbox Guide connects to your cable-box so that it can scan everything currently on Live TV. It also shows what’s currently trending, and your favorites. The idea is to seamlessly have everything built into your Xbox without ever having to leave your system.

An interview with Wired has shed some light on two very big issues gamers have been fearing about the new console, always-on internet and the used game market.  Pertaining the always-on connection rumor, games should work even if the Xbox if offline, however if a developer decides to use the newly announced Azure cloud service, then the games would require an internet connection in order to work. In terms of used games, things are much simplifier, they won’t work, at least not as they used to. Games will be directly tied to your Xbox Live account and may even be required to be downloaded before they will work.  If you want someone else to play the game, they have to activate it on their account, which will cost an additional fee.  What they means for rental chains remains to be seen.

Much like the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One is incompatible with all Xbox 360 software, meaning all your Xbox 360 disc-based or Xbox Live Arcade games will not work with the new machine.  Sadly, we were expecting this after the news broke about the PS4.

Xbox Live will continue with your current subscription, and features many new elements. The biggest of which is cloud integration using Microsoft’s new Azure cloud service. You can record, edit and upload your latest gaming milestones as they happen. Xbox One and the new Xbox Live act as your own personal PVR for gaming, and it sounds very promising.

EA and Microsoft have entered into a new partnership, which will be revealed in the coming weeks (i.e. most likely at E3). EA has a new game and physics engine called Ignite, which is supposed to make sports games much more realistic than ever before. EA also confirmed there will be exclusive features for FIFA on the Xbox One.

Forza Motorsport 5 is going to be one of the biggest Xbox One launch titles.

Remedy Studios showcased Quantum Break.

Microsoft will publish 15 new Xbox One titles in the first year of release, eight of which will be brand new IPs.

Live action Halo television series will be coming to the Xbox One. It is being co-developed by Steven Spielberg.

NFL football will be coming to the Xbox One through a partnership with Microsoft and the NFL itself. Exclusive and interactive content will be pushed to the Xbox One all year long.

Microsoft confirmed the release date as “later this year.” I assume we’ll get a more concrete release date at E3 or shortly thereafter. E3 will also be where the company reveals their biggest exclusives.

They closed with the latest Call of Duty: Ghosts. Microsoft also confirmed all DLC will arrive first on Xbox One.