Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Game Of The Year...2011?


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GOTY: So, a funny thing happened the other day...

If you read this blog with any regularity, you probably remember that I was a huge fan of Dead Island last year. So huge, in fact, that I was one of the critics at my site who chose it as our overall game of 2011.  If you’ve got time, you can hear the actual discussion as we announce the win on the podcast right here.

We got more than a few funny looks from other critics when we made the announcement, but I still feel good about the choice in comparison to what the competition was, and I definitely think it was the right direction to go.


Here's a refresher as to why we selected it, quoted verbatim from my 2011 rundown:

Intense, visceral combat. An open world large enough to explore, yet one that never feels empty or pointless. Fantastic atmosphere and beautiful environments. "Realistic" quests that one could imagine doing if zombies were real. Dead Island offers all of this, and more. Although dozens of games cram the undead into various modes and one-offs where they make for good target practice, very few titles attempt to create a zombie apocalypse in the way often written about in books or shown in movies -- scavenging environments for necessities, establishing safe houses, finding medicine, and so on. Although it's not the perfect simulation I think zombie fans like myself hope for, it comes closer than any other game before it and does it in fine style. For me, Dead Island was the most enjoyable, most unforgettable experience in 2011, and one of the very few that I could not put down until I'd seen and done every single thing. Well done, Techland.

Anyway, the publisher of Dead Island just announced that there would be a Game of the Year version released, and I started getting winks and nudges from people via tweets and e-mails. I guess I didn't have my coffee that morning since I didn't see the connection right away, but apparently the game was only able to put out this version because WE awarded it our GOTY.

You know what? I think that's pretty cool.


So, to anyone out there who thinks the Dead Islandre-release is some kind of a mistake, a joke, or deception on the part of the publishers, it's not -- I have no problem saying that my personal choice and the choice of Gamecritics.com for 2011 was Dead Island. Maybe you agree, maybe you don't, but as far as I'm concerned, the game earned its praise and I had a blast with it. 

...And for those of you who still haven't tried it yet? Good news! I’ll be doing a giveaway in the very near future, so stay tuned for a chance to win a brand-spanking-new copy of the Gamecritics-inspired GOTY version.

Suck it, backwards-flying dragons.

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Links: Is your clicking finger itchy? Here are some links to give that poor digit some relief while I take the easy way out and get myself into bed a little earlier tonight…


It's been up at the site for while, but here’s my second opinion of Binary Domain. It may look like a generic sci-fi shooter on the surface, but it's pretty fantastic... don't miss out on this sleeper.

I also co-reviewed Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon Citywith @GC_Danny. We figured it was a multiplayer game, so doing a multi-writer review seemed sort of appropriate.

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Over here is a link to Ctrl-Alt-Defeat, a super cool game-oriented magazine with all sorts of interesting articles and original photos and art. 

not an original photo or art.
This month? The rock and roll issue. I contributed a short story about Lord Raptor from DarkStalkers, but there's plenty of other good reading to be had there as well.

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I've mentioned her before, but I really dig the writing of the Indie Gamer Chick… as someone who's not afraid to give criticism when it's warranted, I certainly appreciate when other people feel the same way. And her? She feels the same way. 

Also, she makes me laugh.

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Last year at PAX, there was a small booth with a multiplayer sort of thing featuring crazy-looking origami birds. The visual style grabbed me right off, but it was clear that the game was far from being in any kind of final state. 



The developers have clearly been working on it, and it looks like it's come quite a way. Check out this video for Chasing Aurora -- it's hard not to get swept up in it.


Thanks for reading! And now, ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz........




********************PR/NEWS/INFO********************



ATLUS, a brand of Index Digital Media, Inc., today revealed plans to publish Persona 4 Golden, a remastered version of the award-winning RPGShin Megami Tensei®: Persona®4, in North America this fall exclusively for PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita) handheld entertainment system.

With an overall Metacritic score of 90 and a multitude of "Editor's Choice" and "Best Of" awards, Persona 4 stands as one of the finest games ever made, delivering many dozens of hours of enthralling storytelling, immensely satisfying combat, intricate party management, and addicting demon collection and customization.  Its brilliantly realized story--which features a memorable cast of personalities with whom the player can forge and strengthen pivotal bonds called "social links"--combined with the game's breathtaking visual and aural design, are part of an overall package that is on almost every genre fan's list of all-time favorites.

Now, following in the footsteps of Shin Megami Tensei®: Persona®3 Portable™, the second highest rated PSP system game of all time (gamerankings.com), Persona 4 Golden for PlayStation Vita offers an enhanced and expanded portable version of the highly acclaimed original.  Visuals have been beautifully remastered to take advantage of the PS Vita's crisp, vibrant 5" OLED display.  The game's aural presentation is better than ever, with 1.5 times the voiced dialogue of the original release.  A new online dungeon rescue feature allows users to call on other players for assistance when they are about to die in the TV world.  Persona 4 Golden is also overflowing with new content: new Personas to collect; new story events along with an all-new character; stunning new anime cutscenes, which include a new opening animation with a new song from master composer Shoji Meguro; a host of fan suggested tweaks and changes, and much more!  Persona 4 Golden is far more than just a handheld version of an all-time classic: it's the best way to experience it yet!

Persona 4 Golden is scheduled to release for PlayStation Vita this fall.  For more information, visit http://www.atlus.com/p4g.

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Amplitude Studios announces the release today on Steam of two different ENDLESS SPACE pre-order packages, in which players will get instant access to the Alpha version of the game and all upcoming versions including the final game. The Admiral Edition will include community bonuses and the digital soundtrack of the game, while the “Support the Game Dev” Emperor Special Edition will include all Admiral Edition content and additional in-game content. Both editions will be available at a 25% discount until May 31st 2012.
Endless Space - Explore the Alpha Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Wr19Ln9sO4

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New Australian developer Total ArKade Software (TAKS) is proud to announce AbraWordabra is now available on iOS, Android and Bada formats!

An original game featuring clever word puzzles mixed with unique, addictive arcade action, it follows the story of Marvo the sad and bad Magician who has cast a spell and transformed all around him into Blocks! 

AbraWordabra is a whole new experience in word gaming and introduces some of the funkiest, cutest and most downright fun characters seen in a video game!
Featuring Tufty and Lufty, Shrieking Shirley and 'Baaaad' Baby through to Fanny, crazy guy Tongue and The Don, it’s now up to you to save them.

 AWD is a Universal app for iPhone and iPad and is available on Android and Bada priced at 99 cents. A Lite version is also available.
For all the latest news and info, visit the official website at www.abrawordabra.com

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SEGA® of America Inc. and SEGA® Europe Ltd. today announced today announced the release of the SEGA Mega Drive Classics Collection 5 for PC digital download. Turn back the clock and grab these fantastic retro hits today from the SEGA Store.

The SEGA Mega Drive Classics Collection 5 gives players the chance to experience iconic moments from the golden era of the Mega Drive with the added help of full in-game save features. Titles in the collection include:
Golden Axe™ III
Beyond Oasis / The Story of Thor™
Dynamite Headdy™
Phantasy Star™ II
Phantasy Star III™: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium™
Streets of Rage™3
The Revenge of Shinobi™
Vectorman™ 2
Wonder Boy™ in Monster World™”
All ten games are available for individual purchase at $2.99/£1.99 /€2.49 /AUD$3.49 each. Players can also grab the entire collection for the true Mega Drive experience for $7.50/ £5.50 /€7.50 /AUD$9.99.

For more information on the SEGA Mega Drive Classics Collection series, as well as SEGA's other titles, please visit www.sega.com/games. For press assets please visit www.sega-press.com. For more news, follow SEGA on Twitter @SEGA or “like” us on Facebook.

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Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax® Media company, today announced The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMO in development at ZeniMax Online Studios. The Elder Scrolls Online will be the first Elder Scrolls game to allow gamers to explore the legendary Elder Scrolls world with others.

The Elder Scrolls Online is being developed for PC and Mac under the leadership of industry veteran Matt Firor, who has spent the last two decades working in online game development. Details about the game are revealed in an exclusive cover story in GameInformer®’s June issue, which ships to subscribers and newsstands this month. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim® is the most recent title set in the award-winning Elder Scrolls universe. Skyrim, developed by Bethesda Game Studios, was released in November 2011 and enjoyed worldwide critical and commercial success. Skyrim earned hundreds of ‘Game of the Year’ awards, including top honors at the 2012 Game Developers Choice Awards, the 15th Annual 2012 Interactive Achievement Awards held at the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit, and at the 2011 Video Game Awards. Internationally, Skyrimshipped over 10 million units within the first month of its release, was the second highest grossing title in the industry last year, and is the fastest selling title in Steam’s history.
  
The Elder Scrolls Online has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

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GameStop (NYSE: GME) is rewarding loyal Call of Duty fans with the opportunity to get in early and get more with four unique waves of pre-order bonuses for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, one of the most anticipated games of the year coming Nov. 13. Customers that join the first wave and pre-order at GameStop beginning today will receive an exclusive, limited edition two-sided poster. The poster features art from Treyarch’s massive new blockbuster that pushes the boundaries of the storied franchise to new heights where THE FUTURE IS BLACK™. Posters will be distributed while supplies last.

First wave pre-order customers are invited to show off their exclusive bonus by snapping a shot with the limited edition poster and sharing it on Twitter or Facebook using #GSFIRSTWAVE. Beginning May 21, 2012, GameStop will showcase the most creative pictures each week for its 4.2 million-fan Facebook community.

In addition to the poster, GameStop® PowerUp Rewards™ members that join the first wave and pre-order by June 30, 2012 will also receive an instantly redeemable Prestige Token for Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3, the record-breaking title that continues to be played by millions. This highly sought-after currency within the Call of Duty multiplayer universe can be spent in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Prestige shop for highly valuable items, including Double XP.

Customers that get in early and pre-order during the first wave will automatically receive bonuses revealed in waves two, three and four. Visit www.GameStop.com/BlackOps2 for information on upcoming waves and complete details on how to get in early to get more.

Set in the year 2025, Call of Duty: Black Ops II propels players into global conflict featuring advanced weaponry, robotics and drone warfare in a new Cold War scenario whose seeds are being sown in today’s headlines.  Featuring new graphics technology that drives stunning cinematic action, Treyarch’s new creation delivers an epic single-player campaign including branching storylines and non-linear missions, a re-imagined multiplayer and the most diverse and biggest zombies experience ever. Call of Duty: Black Ops II is in development by Treyarch and will be published by Activision Publishing, Inc.  The title has not yet been rated.  For more information, visit www.callofduty.com/blackops2 or follow Call of Duty: Black Ops II on www.facebook.com/codblackops

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TopWare Interactive announced today the upcoming release of "Enclave - Shadows of Twilight" for the Nintendos Wii™ on May 22nd 2012. In cooperation with development team Dojodoo Enterprise, TopWare will be bringing the franchise to consoles for the first time.

"Enclave - Shadows of Twilight" masterfully weaves the features of the award winning 2003 PC release with the unique gameplay possibilities posed by the Nintendo Wii™ console.  The result is a modernization of the fan favorite which elevates the fantasy RPG experience of the Enclave series to heights never before reached!

Innovative adaptations to the classic gameplay elements provide an entirely new experience, effectively expanding the level of immersion in all directions. Players now charge into battle brandishing the Wii™ Remote, laying waste to the hordes of enemies that stand in the hero’s way, all the while upgrading their character’s equipment by looting the corpses the throngs of fallen enemies left in their wake. 

The riveting combat system is complimented by numerous artfully-crafted cut-scenes, vibrantly narrating the nuances of the hero’s epic journey as players explore the bountiful environments of the expansive fantasy world. For more information about the game please visit: www.enclave-game.com

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The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, the new investigation game for Xbox® 360, PlayStation® 3 and PC developed by Frogwares, unveils its release date today. The new investigation of Sherlock Holmes will debut in September, on consoles and PC. To celebrate this announcement, discover five brand new screenshots, taken directly from the crime scenes that await you in September.

Even though London’s police are actively searching for him, Sherlock must complete the investigation he began. Watson witnesses, powerless, the suspicious behavior of the famous detective… and while he agrees to help his partner for the time being, this certainly won’t last if Holmes refuses to explain his incriminating actions. The five new screenshots reveal more of the detailed locations where Sherlock and Watson begin their investigation this September.

You are Sherlock Holmes, and this is your investigation. Unfold an incredible conspiracy on PS3, Xbox 360® and PC in September 2012!

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On this Cinco de Mayo, Twisted Pixel is launching the fourth in a series of themed challenges for Ms. Splosion Man.  The challenge shows up in the opening menu of the main game, but only for the duration of the contest, which runs May 5th - 20th, 2012. Twisted Pixel has a special prize in store for the top 5 leaders in this challenge.

In “Splokour”, Ms. Splosion Man does her take on the physical discipline phenome: parkour.  Gracefully guide the femme fatale through the whole level without ever once touching the ground.  For every time she hits the pavement the game will add 10 seconds to your final time, so try your best to stay airborne.  The five (5) fastest times on the leaderboard by 11pm EST on May 20th will win a Ms. Splosion Man plushie AND a copy of Twisted Pixel’s next Xbox title, which will be announced at this year’s E3 conference on June 5th!

Everyone can play for a chance to win in this challenge, so get sploding.  Be sure to get the info on what Twisted Pixel has coming up by checking in with us at E3.  See you in June, and good luck on the challenge!

Learn more at www.TwistedPixelGames.com and Twitter@twisted_pixel.

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XSEED Games, an independent-minded publisher, today announced it will publish the highly original music strategy game, Orgarhythm, for the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system later this year in North America. Developed in Japan by ACQUIRE in conjunction with Neilo, the new studio founded by Takashi Hirai who is best known for his past work on Space Channel 5 and Rez, the title blends music and real-time strategy elements to create a new experience specifically designed for touch-enabled mobile play. Playing as the God of Light, players will battle the forces of the God of Darkness by deploying elemental soldiers for rhythm-based attacks synced to a hypnotic mix of rock, club and tribal music. In the game, rhythm is a weapon and different attacks occur on different beats, making the game’s catchy soundtrack dynamic to user input.

Orgarhythm is expected to ship later this year, exclusively on the PS Vita system. With music being such a key component, aspiring musicians are encouraged to submit their songs for consideration to be selected into future DLC packs, more details of which will be announced at a later time. The game is not yet rated by the ESRB.

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XSEED Games, an independent-minded publisher, today  announced that it will release the popular action RPG title Ragnarok Odyssey later this year on PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system in North America. Developed by Grandia and Lunar series veteran studio Game Arts and published by GungHo Online Entertainment in Japan, Ragnarok Odyssey is a new title set in the familiar Ragnarok Online universe. The game was released in Japan in early February to both retail and critical success as it garnered strong sales while earning a Famitsu Gold Award. The publishing agreement with GungHo Online Entertainment gives XSEED Games exclusive publishing rights for Ragnarok Odyssey in North America.

An action-heavy RPG set in the lush landscape of the familiar Ragnarok Online universe, Ragnarok Odyssey is a fast-paced game with a heavy emphasis on melee combat. The game is set in a world where humans and giants are pitted against each other in battle following the death of the world’s ancient gods. Based on Norse Mythology, the world of Ragnarok Odyssey will begin to take form as players advance through the story, with new areas opening up as their journey goes on.

In Ragnarok Odyssey, players will embark on a campaign to take down monsters and giants of massive scale, and characters can chain together massive combo attacks both on the ground and in the air thanks to the game’s extremely versatile combat system. Massive enemies can literally be smacked across the screen, and players can even up their speed and agility at the expense of HP for particularly challenging battles. On top of this, the game promotes cooperative gameplay, supporting up to four players for ad-hoc and online cooperative gameplay.

Ragnarok Odyssey was developed by Game Arts and GungHo Online Entertainment, exclusively for PS Vita system. The game will be published by XSEED Games in North America in 2012.
  
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ATLUS ONLINE, a division of ATLUS dedicated to massively online gaming and entertainment, announced a new partnership with ZQGame to launch the free-to-play real-time strategy game Shadowland Online via the ATLUS ONLINE Portal. To celebrate the launch, Shadowland is offering exclusive items for ATLUS ONLINE users and hosting special events during the launch period and throughout the month of May.

Shadowland Online is a social strategy game that allows gamers to manage and expand their empires to discover new environments, regions, characters, and quests. Players will engage in a sophisticated mix of real-time strategy and realistic simulation. Special social features will let players build alliances and partake in massive team battles, taking the experience far beyond traditional single player fare.

New Shadowland players who register via ATLUS ONLINE during launch (from May 3rd to June 3rd) will be offered an exclusive ATLUS ONLINE Beginners Pack ($15), providing new users with 3,000 gold coins, 250 diamond, and 150 battle achievements! In addition, ATLUS ONLINE will host "Double Battle Achievement" Weekends (May 11-13, May 18 -20) for all Shadowlandplayers.

To register, play, and find more info about Shadowland Online, visit the ATLUS ONLINE game site at http://shadowland.atlusonline.com.

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Acclaimed localization studio and video game publisher Aksys Games today announced that Record of Agarest War 2 will be coming to North America for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system accompanied by an extremely unique Limited Edition version! Featuring an inflatable doll, compressed hand towel, and an unforgettable artbook, the Record of Agarest War 2 Limited Edition is definitely a unique set of items you’ll want to get your hands all over. Developed by Idea Factory, Compile Heart and RED Entertainment, and localized by Aksys Games, Record of Agarest War 2 is a new installment of the Record of Agarest War series with all-new strategy RPG gameplay, HD graphics, and bonus mini-games.

LE Contents:

Inflatable Felenne Doll: An adorable inflatable doll that will make a nice addition to any location that you can feasibly place it.
Compressed 8 x 12” Hand Towel: Conveniently compressed into a heart shape, this towel is the ideal object of your desire for when you need a small object that expands into a full hand towel.
Collectible Artbook: Titled “Heroic Trials from the Lands of Agarest”, this artbook is a humdrum addition to the many boring books you’ve read recently. Or so we would like others to think…

Curious to see what’s behind the mosaic, the expanded form of the towel, or the content within the artbook? The nitty gritty details will come soon, so stay tuned for more!

Game Features:

Revamped Battle System: Unlike the first two games of the series, Agarest 2 battles are fought with an engaging active grid-based battle system.
HD graphics: Enjoy your favorite characters, environments and CGs in high-definition!
Mini-games: Engage in PlayStation®Move compatible Bathtub, Shiatsu, and Massage mini-games.
New Agarest Universe: Roam freely in the newly designed world of Agarest

Record of Agarest War 2 has been rated ‘T’ for Teen by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). More information aboutRecord of Agarest 2 can be found at www.agarest2.com.

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Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced the arrival of the free Portal 2 update titled "Perpetual Testing Initiative."

Available now for PC and Mac, The "Perpetual Testing Initiative" allows players to easily create, share, and play Portal 2 puzzles. The Initiative comes with a simplified Puzzle Maker that allows that creation of mind-bending puzzles without ever leaving the game.

The Puzzle Maker can directly publish maps to the Steam Workshop where users can browse, vote on, and select to play them. Selected puzzles will automatically be downloaded and installed inside Portal 2.

Portal 2 holds a Metacritic score of 95% and has been awarded numerous Game of Year awards. It features expansive single and cooperative multiplayer game modes.

For more information on Portal 2 and its downloadable content, please visit http://www.thinkwithportals.com.

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iOS gamers will be to join the blood-soaked fun in the new vampire MMO Dark Legends fromSpacetime Studios, the developer of Pocket Legends and Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles.  The title is now available in theApp Store, already has more than half a million active users.
Set in a gritty modern-day urban environment in which humans are aware of vampires’ existence, players assume the role of a recently sired vampire who must battle to survive in a world which fears and hates their kind. In the struggle, players must face gangs of well-armed humans, hordes of the undead, packs of werewolves, covens of warlocks and legions of demons. 
   
Dark Legends is the third title in the highly popular Legends franchise of mobile and desktop games. The first two titles, Pocket Legends and Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles, are the world’s largest mobile MMOs with more than seven million downloads. 
The title is Powered by SpacetimeSM which will allow Android, iOS and Windows users to play together globally. The technology supports game play over Wi-Fi, Edge, 3G and 4G networks.

Dark Legends is free to download and play at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dark-legends-3d-mmo/id475249795?mt=8. The game features optional microtransactions and virtual currency that enhance the play experience with vanity items, health packs and premium revives. 
For more details visit http://www.darklegends.com.

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