Last year we got two of the most anticipated Fantasy Action-RPGs out there with the release of both Dark Souls and Skyrim in the fall. Each of those games offered a unique take on the genre providing completely different experiences for gamers to explore. We are now in the second quarter of 2012 and May is a month that is filled with a lot of exciting releases. There is however one game coming up with a relatively under the raider background that is bound to surprise a lot of people. Yes, Dragon’s Dogma is a Fantasy Action-RPG title that while most people were skeptical about might just prove its doubters to be very very wrong.
1. Huge open world
The world of Dragon’s Dogma, while not as expansive as Skyrim, offers plenty to explore. The vast terrain and variety in locations available presents great sense of exploration and adventuring. The same drive that had you striving to reach every area in Skyrim is similarly available here, and will play a key factor in how attached you become to the game.
2. Day/Night Cycles
Dragon’s Dogma’s world operates on a full 24-hour Day/Night cycle. This means that the game has an internal clock that changes and affects the world. The Day/Night shift is not for mere aesthetic purposes but it rather plays a huge part in the game’s system. It’s always recommended for you to accomplish your quests while the Sun is still up whenever possible. This is because when night time arrives things get real nasty. Different much more powerful creatures appear at night, ones that you will often have a very hard time fighting against. This cycle system creates an interesting spin on how you would manage your in-game time to accomplish your quests as efficiently as possible while avoiding the night.
3. The Pawn system
The Pawn system is something that is quite unique to Dragon’s Dogma. Pawns are basically servants that can be hired by the main character of the game to aid you throughout your adventures. Your main Pawn is the one you create yourself at first, tailoring him/her to your own liking from appearance to personality. While this may sound at first like a regular companion found in other Western RPGs, Pawns actually have their own personalities and often speak or give advice to you on your journey. To top that off, your main Pawn can be shared with other players online so that he/she can explore different areas and come back with stories and information that can aid you in the game. While Dragon’s Dogma is solely a single player game, the Pawn mechanism offers the ability to connect with different people in a unique and fresh method.
4. Mix of Strategic and fast paced combat
The combat in the game offers the best of both worlds. In other words, while the combat feels fluid and it also offers enough depth making sure what you do actually matters rather than it being mindless hack and slash. The combat feels similar to the one found in the Souls series, but is less punishing and much faster in terms of speed. Dragon’s Dogma also introduces the ability to actually jump on creatures you fight and hang on to them. For example, while fighting a Griffin in the demo I was able jump on its back while it was ascending to the air. This made the combat experience very different than regular ground fights as you were struggling to keep hanging on while trying to bring down the creature at the same time. All of these different elements shape Dragon’s Dogma idea to demonstrate its own take on how combat is supposed to be done in Action-RPGs.
5. Tons of content available
In order to finish the main game it’s going to take you 40-50 hours of playtime. While if you want to complete more side quests and explore the whole world of the game then you are looking at 100+ hours of playtime. This means that the game has a ton of content to offer and will keep you engaged for a long period of time.
The demo of Dragon’s Dogma is currently out on both XBL and PSN, while the final game comes out on May 22nd in NA and May 25th in EU. Be sure to check it out and tell us what you think in the comment section!
I can’t believe that it has already been 2 months since the PS Vita first launched on February 22nd 2012. It seemed only yesterday that I was watching Sony’s 2011 E3 Press Conference and coming out of it with high anticipation to get my hands on the system. But that now the handheld has been out in the market for a while, how is it doing? We already know that the PS Vita is struggling sales wise in Japan, but how are the other aspects of the Handheld holding out?
The PS Vita is certainly a magnificent piece of hardware. It has nearly everything you would look for in a portable gaming device and its possibilities are quite vast. The launch library that the PS Vita came out with was pretty impressive as it had a large diverse amount of titles for people to choose from. However, looking at the handheld now we can’t help but agree that everything it had going for it has sort of slowed down to some extent. There are very few games that has released for it after launch and there is a question mark on what Sony has in stores for the system for the rest of the year. I mean we had a few exciting announcements such as Final Fantasy X HD and Bioshock Vita but we don’t exactly know when those games will be out. To top that off Sony has yet to announce when we are going to see PS One classics being playable on the PS Vita. A lot of people wanted that feature right from the start but Sony has been awfully quiet on when we can expect it.
So far it has been a mixed bag from Sony and E3 needs to be another big push for the system to keep interest in the PS Vita alive. There has to be solid announcements for handheld and a lineup of when we can expect new software for it. While Nintendo was also in the same position with the 3DS this time last year, they managed to flip the tide upside down by slashing the price of the Nintendo 3DS well as introducing the Nintendo Direct Program which helped push brand new info to consumers at certain intervals during the year.
The easiest answer to the PS Vita’s current form is software. Announce more games for it and give people release dates which highlight when those games are going to come out. This makes people who already have the PS Vita exited for what’s to come and gives prospective buyers a reason as to why they should make the purchase. The original PSP suffered from lack of software that killed its interest in global markets early on in its cycle, so Sony needs to buckle up and start pumping out some release dates before things start going out of hand.
If you have been waiting for a FPS to come out on the PS Vita already then the release of Resistance: Burning Skies on May 29th/30th next month is surely an important day to you. While developer Insomniac left the series in the hands of Sony, developer Nihilistic Software were given the chance to continue the franchise with this brand new entry. We managed to get a hands-on a preview build of the game and so far things are looking pretty well for the next installment of the Resistance franchise.
Resistance: Burning Skies is set between the events of Resistance 1 and 2 and it tells the story of a brand new protagonist named Tom Riley. Riley is a New York fireman that is thrown into the action both because of his duty and his need to protect his family. The game opens off with the Chimera starting their invasion into U.S. soil for the first time. You control Riley in New York City trying to secure the safety of civilians while searching for his family to make sure they are out of harm’s way. The preview build ran for the first three stages and it seems that the game overall retains the Resistance feel quite well. The visuals in Burning Skies are well done especially when it comes to the character models, the environments however lacked detailed textures and often felt inferior compared the characters. There were also a few notable frame drops whenever a lot of action is going on screen but both problems can’t be fully judged just yet as this was a mere preview build.
The controls are the obvious main change in Resistance: Burning Skies, and while at first they take a bit of getting used to they do end up working pretty well. The top triggers and face action buttons follow the standard setup from previous Resistance games, and the availability of the dual analog sticks on the system makes sure that Nihilistic is trying to deliver an FPS experience with no compromises. The two significant changes to the controls however are the sprinting and the use of secondary weapons. Sprinting is now done by either tapping twice on the back touch panel while holding forward at the same time or by holding down on the D-Pad. As for secondary weapons, they are activated through the use of different specified gestures on the touch screen. The control scheme does the job well and is definitely heads and shoulders above anything I have experienced from the genre on a handheld.
The Weapon wheel returns from Resistance 1 and 3 as well as the ability to upgrade weapons using a type of technology called Grey tech that you collect as you progress through the game. It’s also important to note that the upgrades in this game are limited and you need to choose which kind of enhancements you would want in each weapon. The fact that you can’t upgrade everything to max performance means that choice is an important factor in the game and it can dictate how you use each weapon available in your arsenal.
Nihilistic are looking to deliver a solid FPS experience on a handheld device for the first time with Resistance: Burning Skies and it seems that they have done a good job of reaching their goal. The PS Vita has plenty of input options and Nihilistic made sure that they choose things that work well to use system’s offerings effectively . Resistance: Burning Skies is looking to be a welcomed entry to the PS Vita’s library and one that would set a new standard for the FPS genre on handheld devices.
The announcement of Pokémon Black & White 2 came as a shocker to most fans of the series. This marks the first time Nintendo moved away from their typical handling of the series and opted for direct sequels for the first time in franchise’s history. There are few new things that could come out because of this decision and here are our top 5 things we would love to see in these brand new sequels.
1. Continued Story
The Pokémon games always started right from the beginning, with you choosing one of three starting Pokémon and then heading off to challenge the world while chasing all 8 GYM badges to complete the game. Since this time around we are getting direct sequels to Black and White it would be awesome to have the story pick off sometime after the events of the first two games. Nintendo can either opt to continue the story of the characters from the first two games or bring in brand new characters set in the same world as the previous ones. Either ways it will be awesome to see a brand new take on the Pokémon formula because of the nature of the two games.
2. The ability to carry over your progress from Pokémon Black/White
It would be quite exciting if players of the previous games were able to carry their progress from Black/White to these brand new sequels. New players who will play the game for the first time can instead start a brand new save with a few events preset from the start. The idea of having the experience you had from Black/White somehow affect the events of the sequel is something that has never been done in Pokémon games before and it would be a fantastic addition to Black/White 2 giving a much more personalized experience to fans of the series.
The Asphalt franchise has become wide spread over the span of several recent years. Whether it’s on iOS , Android, PSP or 3DS, you know you have come across the Asphalt franchise one way or another. The arcade-style racing game created by Gameloft was popularized on iOS and later ported to a wide variety of mobile devices. The PS Vita launched on the 22nd of February and with it an Asphalt game was bound to be out for the system. Asphalt: Injection on the PS Vita is a port that does very little to differentiate itself from other racing games in the market but still does a decent job of fulfilling your racing game fix.
As with previous games in the series, the Asphalt: Injection puts you directly on the racing tracks without any unnecessary setting or storyline. The game has several modes available which includes both single player and multiplayer components. The main single player mode in the game is the career mode which has you playing through a variety of races to expand your car collection and win trophies all around the world. The career mode is quite lengthy in size and does do a good job of giving you a variety of race types and places to try out. If you grow tired of playing the career mode then you can also play the free race mode which gives you the freedom of picking your choice of the car, track, and race type to play.
Asphalt: Injection plays exactly like every other Asphalt iteration out there. There are no noticeable changes in the gameplay as it remains the arcade-style over the top racing game it always was. This version on the PS Vita runs smoothly at 60 frames per second without any slowdowns or technical issues. The game’s physics engine remains to be problematic however as car crashes happen with the slightest touch to other vehicles on the road. This can lead to frustrating times as you can easily lose a race due to broken AI and a horrible physics engine. The gameplay overall however does work relatively well and delivers the fast-paced racing action that you would expect from an arcade-style racing game.
In terms of car selection, Asphalt: Injection this time around boasts over 40 licensed cars being available in the game. The diversity of the cars available has definitely improved from previous iterations in the series but is nowhere as expansive as other similar franchises. Car customization and enhancement is also brought in the game and while this does improve it’s still far from being anything as deep as customizations found in games such as the Need for Speed Underground series. You unlock these customizations by collecting trophies in the career mode and the upgrades vary from mere aesthetic changes to ones that affect the car’s actual performance.
Multiplayer in Asphalt: Injection is available both as local ad-hoc multiplayer and online multiplayer. While ad-hoc multiplayer works pretty well it’s the online part where it gets tricky. If you manage to get into a race with someone then the game runs surprisingly well with little to no slowdown or latency. The IF here is extremely important as there are very few racers online making it very hard to get a game going on.
Asphalt: Injection on the PS Vita is a decent attempt to provide a good arcade-style racing experience but lacks any unique selling points to differentiate itself from other similar games in the market. What it does however is offer you a quick way to get your racing game fix on the go. If you can’t wait to get your hands on an arcade-style racing game for your PS Vita then Asphalt: Injection might be the game for you. If however, you are looking for a more polished and exciting racing experience then you should probably pass on this one.
The original PlayStation Portable’s launch was not one that was remembered with having a large array of quality games. It did however bring the first Lumines game to the world which quickly became one of the most addicting and unique puzzle-games ever made. The series combines solid gameplay mechanics with vibrant visuals and a set of amazing music tracks to create a highly engaging experience. Overtime the Lumines franchise expanded onto more platforms and received a variety of additions to its formula. Lumines: Electronic Symphony for the PS Vita continues the series’ excellence by adding brand new features to the mix that make this title a must-have for any PS Vita owner.
Lumines: Electronic Symphony is a puzzle game that resembles titles from the likes of Tetris and Columns. 2×2 Squares containing 4 blocks start falling in as the stage starts and each block consists of one of two color pallets. You must connect 4 blocks of the same color together in order for you to clear them off the stage. The more blocks you clear the more points you get increasing your overall score. Electronic Symphony also features two specialty blocks you encounter while playing. The first one clears all blocks of the same color that it touches, while the other switches up the colors of all the blocks it comes in contact with. Having those two special blocks gives a different spin on what kind of way you should arrange your blocks to take advantage of each of their abilities.
Electronic Symphony introduces a few additions that tweak the Lumines formula in a new direction. The first one being that the avatars, which were previously mere aesthetic choices, now have their own special abilities which can be activated by filling the avatar gauge. The gauge can be filled by tapping the back-touch panel of the PS Vita. This addition, although useful, can get pretty annoying because of the forced tapping mechanic being implemented in order to use it. Another addition to the game is the fact that everything you accomplish in the game gives you XP which add up to increase your in game level. By increasing your level you are able to unlock more avatars and skins (stage are called skins in Lumines) to use in different game modes.
The main “arcade-like” mode in Electronic Symphony is called Voyage. This mode basically has you going from one skin to another until you either lose or complete all skins available. The game also includes a time-attack mode, a playlist mode which gives you the options to choose which stages you want to play, as well as an ad-hoc Duel mode which allows multiplayer over Wi-Fi. The diversity of the modes available keeps the game interesting as it gives you a variety of ways to enjoy Lumines. All scores and stats in the game are uploaded to the servers and can be compared with both your friends list and players around the world.
The visual and audio aspects of Lumines: Electronics Symphony are one of the main reasons as to why the game is so compelling to play. Q Entertainment, the studio behind the game, does an astounding job of making sure all three parts (visuals, audio, and gameplay) fit together perfectly and it pushes this combination to new heights with Electronic Symphony. This time around the blocks being used are actual 3D-Blocks rather than the 2D sprites that were used in previous games. Having 3D-Blocks allows for more unique and interesting design choices for the blocks and adds a ton of skin diversity to the game. The soundtrack of the game complements the stages extraordinary well making playing the game all that more fulfilling to play.
The first Lumines back on the PSP introduced an amazing game that many spent countless of hours playing. Lumines: Electronic Symphony refines the Lumines formula to all new levels and adds a variety of features to make the game quite the outstanding package. The PS Vita was launched with a large amount of titles to pick from, but Lumines: Electronic Symphony stands tall as one of the must-buy games in the PS Vita’s current library.
The Mass Effect franchise has become one of the most critically acclaimed series in recent years. The original Mass Effect, launched back in 2007, and was met with enormous amounts of success. But it is in Mass Effect 2 where the series really began to shine as something quite extraordinary among other titles. Bioware managed to create one of the most memorable universes out there while emphasizing on providing a highly customizable and enjoyable experience. Mass Effect 3 is the final conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy and is set to tie up all the ground work that had been laid out by the previous two games. With Mass Effect 3, Bioware topped off nearly every element from the previous iterations and created a fantastic game that is just short of being called a masterpiece.
Mass Effect 3 puts you in the shoes of Commander Shepard, a galactic hero who is the main protagonist in the Mass Effect trilogy. Following the events of Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3 starts off with the return of the Reapers, an alien race of machines that appear every 50,000 years to destroy all organic life forms in the universe. The game starts with the Reapers arriving on Earth and you witness firsthand their destructive capabilities. It’s now up to Shepard to unite the different races and forces of the galaxy in order to be able to stand a chance of defeating the them.
Unlike Mass Effect 2 which focused on building your squad and expanding your relationships with them, Mass Effect 3 is a lot more focused on the end goal. Nearly every mission and task you come across is all geared towards gaining War Assets to assist you in defeating the Reapers. While increasing your War Assets and gathering help around the galaxy, you will come across a variety of familiar faces you met in the previous two installments. Who you meet and under which circumstances are all dependent on what your choices were in the previous two games. If you, however, did not play Mass Effect 2 before and did not import a save file from the game then Mass Effect 3 adapts quite well to take that into account. It is however highly recommended that you play both Mass Effect 1 and 2 in order to fully appreciate the game’s brilliant moments.
In terms of combat, Mass Effect 3 is classified as a cover-based third person shooter with a large array of RPG mechanics supporting it. However, gameplay usually differs in style as it is heavily dependent on which class you choose to play as at the start of the game. The game offers 6 different classes to choose from and each play out very differently from one another. The Soldier for example is the standard class which offers the more traditional cover based shooting experience with a huge reliance on your guns to do most of the damage. If you choose to be an Adept however, you focus more on abilities and skills to attack your opponents rather than relying on guns.
Super Stardust HD on the PlayStation Network is one of the best twin-stick shooter experiences out there. The game was filled with highly addictive gameplay, an amazing soundtrack, and great visuals which makes for a quite an engaging experience. Super Stardust Delta is a brand new entry in the series specifically catered to the PS Vita. It provides new elements to players by adding new in game mechanics as well as using the PS Vita’s different control methods. The result is a fantastic game that perfectly suits PS Vita by offering one of the best twin-stick shooter experiences on the go.
If you played Super Stardust HD before then you will feel right at home with Delta. Super Stardust Delta plays out similarly to Super Stardust HD but with a few gameplay changes. The game is a twin-stick shooter that has you navigating a spaceship around a planet’s orbit by dogging incoming enemies and breaking down incoming masses from space. The more you break and destroy, the higher your score is going to be. The game offers two different weapons, ice and fire, that can each be used effectively in different situations. For example if you are trying to destroy smaller enemies then the fire weapon would be more suitable for that situation. These weapons can be enhanced by picking up various upgrades floating around as you destroy various objects on orbit.
Super Stardust Delta introduces a few additions to the Stardust formula mainly in the form of black holes and missiles. Black holes and missiles are replacements for bombs found in Super Stardust HD and are executed by touch the back or front touch respectively. Boosting has also been adjusted to give a slow down when activated so that you can plan out the path you want to boost to more easily. These additions are great in refining the experience to another level but understandably some people would just prefer the play Stardust the original way. Thankfully Housemarque, the developers of the game, has included the ability to play the classic Stardust formula without all the changes done in the normal mode of the game.
In addition to the main Arcade and Planet select modes, Super Stardust Delta has a selection of mini-games based on both the motion and touch abilities of the PS Vita. These mini-games are not available from the start and must be unlocked by completing the five stages of arcade mode. There are in total five mini-games and they all have their own leaderboards to compare scores with your friends and players around the globe. The mini-games can be a fun way to pass time and deviation from the main game but are a mixed-bag in terms of quality.
Super Stardust Delta is the perfect game to play on a portable device. It’s highly engaging and can be enjoyed in small bursts wherever you are looking for your twin-stick shooter fix. Competing for higher leaderboards ranks against your friends and people around the world will keep you coming back time after time. If you are picking up a PS Vita or have already picked one up then getting Super Stardust Delta is a no brainier.
Recently there has been resurgence in westerner themed action-RPG games. 2011 saw the likes of Skyrim and Dark Souls come out as well as many other similarly themed games being announced for 2012. At first Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning seemed like “another Action-RPG” game. However when you took a closer look at the people working on the game you would realize the amount of experience and skill that is behind the title. The Lore and world is written by New York best seller R .A. Salvatore, the art is done by famed comic book artist Todd McFarlane, and the game’s creative director is Ken Rolston who previously world on the Elder’s Scrolls series . Theoretically speaking Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning seemed to be a dream come true for fans of the genre. While Kingdom of Amalur does not do anything revolutionary to the genre, it’s definitely a fun and highly engaging title that Fantasy Action-RPG fans should check out.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is set in the world of Amalur, a high fantasy universe created by famed New York best seller R.A. Salvatore. The game starts with your character, the fateless one, dying but somehow managing to be brought back from the dead. You quickly learn through the opening tutorial that the character that you created is fateless since he has already died and accomplished his fate. The game from then on opens you up to explore the world of Amalur while trying to figure out the reasons behind the events that happened to you.
The world of Amalur is huge. It’s filled with a variety of areas and locations that you can visit and explore. Cities in the game are well designed and are quite diverse in both style and feel. The game’s dungeons are all handcrafted without any randomly generated dungeons being included in the game. While many people would compare Amalur’s world to having striking similarities with World of Warcraft, the level of detail that the world is composed of and the different artistic direction given by the artist makes Amalur a world of its own.
The gameplay of Kingdom of Amalur is largely influenced by the background story. Since your character is fateless, he/she can be whoever they choose to be. There are 3 main ability trees that you can develop as your character progresses: Might, Magic, and Finesse. The game allows for a great amount of freedom in developing your character. You can mix and match between all three ability trees if you like or simply just focus on one or two. If you felt later that what you initially started with didn’t feel right you can easily visit an NPC called the fateweaver and redistribute all your skills points from the ground up. The flexibility and freedom offered in the game is something that a lot of RPGs lack and is something that should be pushed for even more as the genre evolves.
In addition to combat based skills the game also has different abilities such as Blacksmithing, Persuasion, and lock picking. Each of those abilities give your character different capabilities to work with outside of the actual combat that can be of benefit in your journey. For example improving blacksmithing will enable you to create better gear and weapons while working on persuasion will cause you to change people’s minds at times.
The true highlight of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning however is its combat. The game boasts one of the best combat systems available in an action-RPG title. Fighting is fluid and highly engaging making the whole experience very addictive. The game adds in quite a variety in skills and weapons to be used in battle which makes the combat all that more enjoyable .Regardless of whether you found the main story to be highly interesting or not, the combat is so well done that it will keep you playing on for hours and hours.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning didn’t bring anything revolutionary to the table but was able to polish a lot of its aspect to impressive levels. When you set aside the forgettable characters and boring dialog you find a game that is so well polished in many of its other aspects. The title boasts one of the best combat systems ever in an action-RPG and a highly flexible class system that allows the player to choose to be whatever they want to. If you are a fan of action-RPGs then Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a great experience you will definitely enjoy.
FIFA is a franchise that has seen tremendous improvements over the course of its lifetime. Last year’s FIFA 12 came out and completely changed several core game mechanics with additions such as the impact engine and tactical defending. When the PS Vita was officially unveiled, FIFA Football was announced for it as well and the prospect of being able to play FIFA anywhere was exhilarating. However, you are probably wondering why they called the game FIFA Football rather than straight out FIFA 12. Well quite frankly because it is not FIFA 12. FIFA Football on the PS Vita is actually based on the FIFA 11 engine but with the visual and aesthetic changes that came with FIFA 12. The game lacks all the core mechanics added to FIFA 12 but brings in a few changes specified to the PS Vita’s hardware. The end result is a mixed bag of both good implementations as well as a series of disappointments.
FIFA Football of the PS Vita is mostly what you would expect from a FIFA game. The game has a variety of modes to play in. Those range from Exhibition matches, to Career mode, and even online head to heads. There are however certain modes that are unavailable in the game such as Live Season as well as Ultimate team. The particular exclusion of those two modes is a huge disappointment since they both add quite a ton of replay value.
The gameplay is where FIFA Football really disappoints. With FIFA 12 the game was improved to a whole new level by the addition of tactical defending and the new realistic impact engine. These features completely changed how you play a FIFA game and having to suddenly go back to the way FIFA 11 played felt very awkward. EA Sports did however find several clever ways of using the front touch screen and back touch panel available on the PS Vita. You can pass, lob, or through pass to any player on the field by applying a specific gesture on the front touch screen. This feature might not really be needed for gamers who prefer physical controls but could be beneficial to the more casual audience. The true beauty however comes with how EA Sports chose to utilize the PS Vita’s back touch panel. The idea is that the back touch panel is the goal and touching a specific area on the back touch will cause your player to shoot to that area. This feels like a truly great implementation as it’s accurate and easy to use while not interfering with what’s going on the screen. Either ways whether you like or dislike those touch specific additions you can turn them off from the controls settings.
Graphically FIFA Football looks quite close to FIFA 12 on consoles. While some of the textures aren’t as detailed as the console versions, the game looks amazing on the PS Vita’s 5inch OLED screen. It’s important to not however that at times FIFA Football gets some slowdown during gameplay. It’s nothing significantly flawed since it doesn’t happen that often and wont greatly reduce the quality of the game but it can be irritating at times.
Looking forward to FIFA Football on the PS Vita I was expecting a great port of the game that I know and love. However after finally playing it the game gave me mixed reactions. On one hand the game looks great and does a good job of using the PS Vita’s capabilities, but on the other hand it’s based on an outdated engine and lacks some of the modes that made FIFA really interesting. FIFA Football is all in all a good attempt but is not the full experience that most fans of the series wanted out of a portable FIFA game.