With Halo 3 just a month away, its promotion and hype engines are running at an almost deafening volume. The buzz has been so loud that Bioshock, an Xbox 360 and PC shooter set amidst the ruins of a rapidly declining utopia, snuck up on us more or less under the radar. Now that it’s here, though, it looks like a sure winner, featuring a compelling story, unmatched graphics, and a fantastic overall experience.
Bioshock takes place in the underwater colony known as Rapture. Built as a haven for the best and the brightest members of society, Rapture has become a cesspool of insane former virtuosos who are all hopelessly addicted to a DNA-altering drug called Adam. Apparently not satisfied with their natural gifts, the denizens of Rapture used Adam to supercharge their intellects and multiply their talents. Unfortunately, everyone became dependent on the substance, and if one doesn’t get enough, he loses his mind and his face falls off. Sounds quaint, doesn’t it? As your character explores Rapture, he’ll run across a variety of violent junkies called splicers, as well as enormous armored supersoldiers called Big Daddies. While standard weaponry can hold off splicers, fighting Big Daddies is a strategic affair. Attempting a frontal assault is suicide, so your character needs to get smart and use the supernatural powers granted by Adam to take them down. Yep, you’re using Adam, too. Are you going to end up a hopeless, addicted mess like everyone else? Who knows, but the engrossing storyline has a fair share of twists that could lead you anywhere.
Bioshock hits stores everywhere tomorrow, so be ready. It looks to be one of the season’s best buys.
Read More | GamePro
After postponing the demo for their upcoming skateboarding game skate—originally scheduled for August 15—publisher EA has settled on Tuesday, August 21st as a new release date. One of the anticipated features of the game that was to be available on the demo is the video capture and upload capabilities. It was reportedly technical problems with this functionality that delayed the demo’s release in the first place, but EA believes they have hammered out the issues. This allows players to make video clips of their game play and upload them to share with other players online.
Skate is challenging the long-running and popular Tony Hawk skateboard series and is scheduled for release on September 12.
Read More | IGN
President of Tri-Crescendo, Hiroya Hatsushiba, based the curious concept of upcoming 360 role-playing game Eternal Sonata on a desire to bring the music of Frederic Chopin to a wider audience—in this case, gamers.
In the game, players exist in a dream world concocted by the composer as he lies on his death bed suffering from tuberculosis which took the life of the famed Polish composer at the age of 39. This dream world grants magical powers to those suffering from incurable illnesses. Chopin’s music is incorporated into the game as unlockable rewards for completing side quests.
Considering the recent “are games art?” debate being held publicly between the likes of Roger Ebert and Clive Barker, perhaps the inclusion of already established artistic work can help lend some weight to Baker’s pro-art arguments.
Read More | Silicon Era
After an avalanche of press following its showing at E3, Bethesda is now soliciting questions from the community. In theory they’ll accept and answer questions about any of their properties but it seems pretty obvious from the comments so far that the main point of interest is Fallout 3.
With so much skepticism from the old school Fallout fans over the direction Bethesda is headed and the casual dismissal of those concerns that most of the mainstream gaming press has displayed, this could be a good chance for the developers to clarify some of the hows and whys diehards have been losing sleep over since the game was announced.
A movie based on the game Condemned: Criminal Origins is in production and the director of the visually arresting 2000 movie The Cell, Tarsem Singh, is set to helm. The movie, which is shooting under the title ‘Unforgettable’, was written by one of the writers of the TV show The Shield, Kurt Sutter and is currently slated for 2008.
Singh hasn’t done much feature film work beyond The Cell, but while that movie didn’t exactly set any box office records, it did have a compelling atmosphere which bodes well for adapting the moody game. So far no actors have been associated with the feature, and it isn’t clear how closely Sutter’s script follows the plot of the game. However, with the movie not even bothering to try and capitalize on the brand recognition (minor though it may be), it could easily be one of those “inspired by” rather than “based on” kinds of projects.
And of course you can always count your lucky stars that so far Uwe Boll’s name hasn’t come up in association with the project in any way.
Read More | The Hollywood Reporter
Guitar Hero II for the Xbox 360 is getting some additional downloadable content this week in the form of a three-song pack, this time from a single band: My Chemical Romance. The included songs are “Famous Last Words,” “Teenagers” and “This is How I Disappear,” which will be available for 500 Microsoft Points.
Single-band packs seem to make more sense than the grab bag of the first couple DLC options, but the price point hasn’t changed from the oft-maligned $6.25 level.
Read More | Major Nelson's Blog
Following a light week, Microsoft returns this Wednesday to the two game new/old format, dropping Hexic 2 (800 Microsoft Points) and the Sega classic Ecco the Dolphin (400 Microsoft Points). Hexic 2 comes from famed Tetris creator Alexy Patjitnov and follows up the packed-in original XBLA title and adds new modes including same-screen or Live multiplayer; Ecco the Dolphin boasts enhanced graphics and sound plus a “Best Time” leaderboard.
These games join more than 75 others on the service which has been a huge success for Microsoft as detailed in a lecture by Marc Whitten this week at GameFest, where he discussed the company’s plan for attracting the casual gamer to the XBox 360. Whitten stated that they’ve seen a 156% average financial return in the past year on XBLA titles, earning more than $30 million to date. Based on this success they expect revenue on XBox Live Arcade to double in the next fiscal year and predict that by the end of this year they will have reached 45 million downloads of over 100 available titles.
On Nintendo’s similar download service, Virtual Console, they’re dropping three new games this week including the original NES classic Metroid (500 Wii Points), plus the Sega dungeon crawler Shining in the Darkness (800 Wii Points) as well as the TurbGrafx-16 game Cratermaze (600 Wii Points). Nintendo is choosing now to push the original Metroid title onto the VC as a means of keeping their Metroid brand fresh in gamers’ minds as they prepare to release the marquee Wii game Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in two weeks. As part of this effort, next week’s VC title is expected to be the SNES sequel, Super Metroid.
Read More | Gamasutra
Today Madden 08, the latest installment in the perennial bestselling series from EA Sports, hits stores around the country. It’s available for pretty much every system you can think of, although naturally the big contenders are the technically superior Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. A lot of press in the weeks leading up to this release has noted the framerate differential between the two: the Xbox 360 version runs at 60fps, whereas the PS3 version runs at 30fps. Some might argue that the human eye can only register up to 24fps, so this is a moot point, but many FPS fans swear by blistering framerates and therefore would say that the difference is huge. Whatever side you may take in that debate, word on the street says that the PS3 game does indeed look choppy at times, although it’s not a dealbreaker.
The new Madden showcases a big new feature that designates top players at all positions as “Weapons”. You might have a fast receiver, a big hitter, and a smart QB, all of whom can outperform their competition in certain areas and are capable of some awesome plays. These designations go a long way toward rendering each team unique, a far cry from old school games where you could only tell an Pro Bowler from a rookie by the number on his jersey. Aside from this new feature, classic Madden gameplay has been tweaked and tightened up based on praise and complaints about previous incarnations to give us more of what we want.
If you’re looking to pick the new Madden up soon, take a look at Toys R Us, where you can get any other game in the store for 50% off if you get Madden on the same receipt.
Read More | Gamespot
With Call of Duty 4, series creator Infinity Ward is determined to change a lot of things. Aside from the obvious temporal leap forward from World War II to the present, the game is set to provide us with a pretty unique multiplayer offering. Imagine a game that offers a variety of character and equipment upgrades as you gain combat experience. Sounds like an RPG, doesn’t it? In fact, what we have here is a unique blend of shooter and RPG elements that gives players the chance to create a custom supersoldier as they improve.
Although Call of Duty 4 is still a shooter like many others, its multiplayer modes are slated to include a bevy of opportunites to earn skill points. These points may be earned via straight kills, assists, or headshots, as well as by more unorthodox means such as by killing a foe through a wall or even taking a dive off a building. These points will lead to promotions through the military ranks and the availability of new weapons, more powerful ammo, or unique tactical advantages. For example, you may be able to automatically drop a live grenade at your feet whenever you’re killed. In order to keep players from getting too powerful, some of the more devastating upgrades will feature drawbacks designed to level the field somewhat. This level of customization looks like an exciting new direction for the genre that should allow each player to build a character suited to his or her own style. Combined with a variety of new maps and gameplay modes, Call of Duty 4 could be a winner with tons of variety. We can expect a playable beta version later this month, and the game itself is scheduled for a November release. Keep an eye out for it!
Read More | Gamespot
Here is what we believe to be the final version of the Xbox 360. Sleek and elegant, is it not? Notice the lack of controller ports? Looks like they are going wireless after all; but what is the port on the bottom left, and the one at the far right?
Read More | Playfeed
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