Tag: EA

need for speed: the run

RELEASE: 11/2011 | PLATFORM: PS3 | DEV: Black Box | PUB: EA | ESRB: T for Teen
Need for Speed: The Run was developed by the franchise’s primary developer EA Black Box, who are responsible for six of the sixteen large Need for Speed (NFS) games. “The Run” for which this game is named is an underground street-racing spectacle. Jack Rourke, our main character, will join top racers heading from San Francisco to New York City with a $25,000,000 payout to whoever gets there first. I really like the idea of having a specific destination to race towards; thinking back, I can’t remember a racing game quite like this. This race is more like an actual road trip rather than just getting through checkpoints or marked spots on a map. This is the first game in NFS history to feature quick time events, where the player actually exits their car and travels on foot.

This game may be hard for novice racers, definitely not a realistic driving simulation like Forza but it’s no kart racer either. Need for Speed: The Run isn’t supposed to be realistic, the game is about going absurdly fast and driving in a manner that is anything but safe. Let go of realism and just focus on navigating the road and quickly approaching traffic ahead. The Run follows a linear path, traditional for racing games, rather than the sandbox-style of other racing games made popular by developers like Criterion. The cross-country race is divided into 10 stages, each with a number of different challenge courses. The courses start off moderately fast but fairly soon into the race they get faster and faster. Traveling across country makes for a scenic ride with variations in weather and road conditions along the way. Types of courses range from your standard of passing cars to making up time by passing through gates, others will have you face off against a particular rival. Some of the more twisting, winding tracks will require a large amount of finesse and patience to get through.

Experience with previous NFS games or the Burnout franchise is a plus here. The basics are the same and will give you an leg up on the learning curve. As with all racing games you will adjust to the handling and eventually memorize the tracks. While most players will opt for the, default, third person perspective the first person perspective is available as well.

One distinction that Need for Speed has always had over the competition is real world cars. There is a large range of brand named vehicles. The usual mix of muscle cars, street racers and refined exotics. The long list of manufacturers include Audi, BMW, NIssan, Volkswagen, Chevy, Dodge, Ford, Mazda, Pontiac, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Subaru. The exotics include Lamborghini, Lotus, Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Austin Martin. I’ve probably missed a few, the list seems endless. As you may expect the better cars are unlockable in game while some “supercars” are part of a limited edition version of the release.

Crashing is hard and fast. While not nearly as detailed and long as Burnout crashes, they definitely stop you in your tracks. There are some fun angles the designers chose; my favorite being the camera view out the windshield after a crash. The other side of crashes would be taking out other drivers, The Run slows down and pauses the clock to allow a look back at your car flipping handy work.

NFS Autolog returns, a feature that has been present since its debut in NFS: Hot Pursuit. Autolog tracks player progressions and statistics compared to other players and recommends events in order for you to test your skills. Autolog also has social media type entries, which allow players to post pictures and (limited) comments. The game also features a “rewind” option to allow you to restart an event to the last checkpoint. This is a great way to get back in the race for a small (or devastating) mistake. Rewind opportunities are limited and using them will negatively impact your overall score.

The game’s cut-scenes are where the “out of the car” moments occur. There is a plot woven in between the racing stages. And while the plot is about as deep as the TV series Prison Break it is also fun in the same way. The quicktime events, which consist of pushing the right button at the exact right time you are prompted, will keep you focused on the scene. I welcome this attempt at instituting a narrative into the racing game. While not 100% successful, it does make The Run stand out from other racing games. With a better narrative, a game could draw in new players that would normally pass on a racing title. The plot is at its best when Jack is captured by the police and has to bust a few heads to escape.

The multiplayer option is online only. Broken up into sessions that you join with other online racers. The current leader picks a selection of tracks referred to as the playlist. Playlists offer distinct experiences by mixing different locations, vehicles and performance tiers. Other racers can out vote the leader in picking the playlist. They are mostly head to head races with a few cooperative challenges thrown in. Bonuses include unlocking new cars and avatar icons as well as experience points toward your ultimate score.

I wish the map shown during the load screens was a bit more accurate, showing where you are on the path, rather than highlighting your last checkpoint. Even more confusing is the map graphic is overlaid onto a separate image of the United States. The overlay is tilted so it looks like you heading toward Florida rather than NYC. Really not an issue in a linear game like this, more a stylistic choice that kinda bugs me. While on a track, you also have a small in-game map, that I’ve truly never seen because you can’t take our eyes of the road long enough to look at it. Supposedly, it can help you find shortcuts in the route ahead.

I don’t have too many complaints about this game. In fact, I’m surprised at some of the low scores it has received. The Run is a great time, it has a good soundtrack and is perfect for racing game fans old and new. I did experience some glitches: awkward passing and miracle moments will jostle the third person to first person shift, not great. The story mode isn’t long but I wouldn’t refer to it as short either. Although, I must say, what is with these unlockable profile icons? Either let me use my own or don’t do it. I enjoyed having the added narrative to the game and hopefully this will inspire some better attempts at incorporating a story into future racing games.

Cars, I got covered

Michael Bay teaser trailer that spoils most of the game:

mass effect 2

Traveling across galaxies trying to recruit a band of heroes for a “suicide mission” can be tough work. Commander Shepard, a trained human soldier, is on a mission to save the universe from the threats facing civilization. In Mass Effect 2 the latest threat is from the alien race known as the Reapers. The Reapers, working in conjunction with the mysterious Collectors, are causing human colonies along the fringe frontiers to disappear. In order to face the Reapers, Shepard and crew with have to use the the Omega-4 Relay to reach the Reavers part of space. It’s a suicide mission for one man alone; you will have to make valuable allies along the way both human and alien. Shepard will save the day, that is, before he dies. Because you basically start this action-oriented, role playing game floating in space, dead.
WARNING: Slight spoilers on an older game ahead

The Normandy SR-2 that appears in ME2, the “successor” to the SR-1 from ME1

 Mass Effect 2 expands the cast of characters and groups in this already dense fictional universe. It’s the sequel to the first Mass Effect game (which was and is still, an XBox exclusive). The first group Shepard will meet is Cerberus, a militant organization with pro-human values. Cerebus has dealings in the black market and is responsible for behind-the-scenes work. That is, work outside the eyes of the Alliance, which polices most activity in the universe. Cerberus’s current project, “Lazarus”, is a radical, scientific process that revives Commander Shepard using the latest tech the year 2148 can provide. Shepard awakens during an attack on the Cerberus station where the experiment is taking place. Wasting no time he gets back work as the trained soldier he is. After being brought up to speed on the situation and the lingering threats Commander Shepard agrees to work with Cerberus to continue his mission to prevent the Reaper invasion. While he doesn’t agree with some of their methods they share the same motives to stop the Reapers.

Working with Cerberus does have its perks despite some of their more shady deals. They have reconstructed your starship the Normandy and located members of your old crew, some of which are already at their stations on the ship. Shepard must recruit and gain the loyalty of a diverse team to stand a chance against the Reapers. Cerberus provides you valuable intel in your mission against the Reapers. They have also supplied dossiers on perspective new crew members that will help you in your mission.

Sometimes dubbed a “Shooter-RPG”

The game itself is action RPG. The majority of the gameplay is a tight 3rd person shooter mechanic. There are well rendered CG cut scenes with dialog choices really allowing you to take control of your character. It’s up to your moral choices in conversation whether you are going to follow the path of the paragon or the renegade. Other forms of game play are short “hacking” scenarios in the form of puzzles, piloting the M-44 Hammerhead transport and mining planets for ore.

The developers of Mass Effect 2, Bioware are known for the sheer scope of the story they have constructed. Believable alien cultures with detailed worlds to explore. The individual characters all have rich histories. Shepherd’s own journey may be the the central plot but one can happily get lost exploring all the side quests and missions available. Of course, the longer missions are more fun, they generally test your skills against a boss type character. The story can really take some surprising twists during dialogue exchanges between Shepard and NPCs. The choices you make affect your experience. Choose between Paragon (good) and Renegade (bad) to determine how your Shepard acts. It is wise to commit to Paragon or Renegade throughout the entire game. Not only are you rewarded with additional dialogue choices, you will enjoy a better gaming experience. The Mass Effect 2 story really heats up when you achieve a romance with another character. I have eyes for a certain alien myself.

Do I want Purple or Green for this mission?

No soldier in the future is specialized in just weapons and melee fighting. Advances in technology and the study of mass effect fields have equipped beings with biotics, crafted to their bodies. All members of the crew, including Shepard, have a multitude of equipped biotic powers. Powers like weapons can be upgraded throughout the campaign using collect Element Zero. Before each mission you will select from your crew two members to accompany you, strategy is involved in picking crew members with appropriate powers. If you know you’re going into a tough fight you’ll want to a companion to have barrier powers or a concussion shot to the head, which can hit targets around corner. Other powers include advanced melee fighting, invisibility and force throws.

Running a ship like the Normandy with a full crew gets expensive fast. Luckily, the universe seems to run on some common elements found on different planets and moons. A lot of time will be spent mining. Mining is basically a mini game, similar to lockpicking or bomb defusing in other games. Scan the planetary orbs and launch probes at spiking element areas. There are four ores that you collect Platinum, Palladium, Iridium and the most rare Element Zero. The different ores are associated with specific upgrades be them weapons, shields or biotic upgrades. Not a very “green” feeling game, I did feel a little bad stripping the known universe of all of its precious elements. 

She’ll love you no matter what your wearing

Role playing games in general seem to always have the same flaws. Most of which are offset due to the detail and length of Mass Effect 2. That said, the usual culprits like broken dialog during cut scenes and choppy graphic glitches are present. Frame rate issues where some pieces move and others stutter. Almost expected with a game this big: game freezing. If this is your first RPG you may notice most gamers are a custom to this happening every once and again.

This is about as close to space travel as you are likely to get. If you ever dreamed of intergalactic battles or going where no man has gone before than this is your game. It’s basically a love letter to sci-fi crafted by a team obviously devoted to creating a quality game. The game leaves you with a lasting bond with the characters and is sure to make it onto your personal favorite games list. I do have some complaints, at times, I felt like I was organizing a field trip. Meeting a character and earning his or her loyalty basically equates to getting their permission slip signed. I’m all for all for team work but it’s time authors move past the Tolkien-esque “Fellowship” routine. Perhaps next time we start with a full crew, do their individual missions and try to keep them alive. A small grievances for a title which will go down in gaming history and as a Gamedae Favorite.

Commander you have received a new message at your private terminal

E3 2012: what we know now

Insights and opinions with Anotherdae, Verdeberg and Zoidberger:
Had to hold off and let E3 2012 sit in before starting a recap post for this year. My gut reaction (which you can find examples of on Twitter) was disappointment. I knew going in we weren’t getting any new consoles, that we hadn’t previously seen, so there was a lackluster ambiance to the whole event. You could almost see the strain in the G4 and Spike on air staff desperately looking for a story to latch onto that they could use as the headliner. Instead, we saw a lot of cool new games and a few new tech demos that are all very cool but either too expected or lackluster.

I felt a lot like this E3 was a summer movie announcement where 85% of the new movies were sequels. I didn’t see a lot of innovation or anything else I’ve come to expect from an E3.

I agree with Verdeberg, this E3 felt like a summer of movie sequels. The annual tour of Modern Warfare, Halo 4, Dance Central 3 and others just shows how safe the game industry is being with their funds for game development. Innovation carries the risk of failure where as past success bring with it the customer base and community support. With that being said games like Beyond: Two Souls and the new Tomb Raider reboot really stood out to me.

Dead Space 3 is yet another sequel in the works

I’m starting to wonder if there will even be next gen consoles at all. With the advent of browser gaming and streaming services like Onlive it only makes sense to me to remove the costly hardware the video game industry is a custom to. Cloud gaming is already serving to store our game saves removing the hard drive necessity. Though storage space will be a major issue. 
I predicted in the Microsoft keynote recap that we wouldn’t see the next generation console war start until next years E3. The other big two (Nintendo already announced the Wii U last year) wouldn’t risk unveiling their systems only to lose interest when the last of the two steals the spotlight at next years E3. You always want that momentum on your side the closer you are to release, which is why, releasing it this year would have made no sense for either Sony or Microsoft.
I agree that Cloud systems will play a part in the next generation of games. I cringe at the thought of web browsers on my video game console. The game controller doesn’t allow for easy browser navigation. I turn on my game system to play games not to browse the web. With the growth of tablets in the last two years I see the need for a browser diminishing in our game systems. I am also curious as to how far the processor and graphical envelope can be pushed by these new consoles.
I’d expect that there will always be a need for a console gaming system, other than processor speed, I just don’t know where the big leaps and bounds will be. Where graphics are now, I wouldn’t expect much of a huge development there. I’d really hope that loading screens will be a thing of the past also hoping that “casual/mobile gaming” or touchscreen controls don’t take up too much of developer’s time. Much like how the Wii sparked a scramble for motion controlled gaming, I’d hate to see another gimmick take focus.
I also hope that with stronger processors, larger and longer, more involved games will become more standard. Stronger processors are the one big advantage PC gaming has over console gaming.
One big disappointment I’ve experienced with the new crop of action adventure games has been that game time in main campaign story modes has been sacrificed in lieu of an involved multiplayer experience. I would really like to see a better balance between the two. 
This E3 has reminded me of a fun fact: I don’t like waiting for new games to release. I hate hearing about and seeing teasers for games a year-plus from release. Yes, I like to know everything, so this issue won’t change, but I wish they would take a more queues from companies like Apple and release games and hardware the same day as an announcement. 
I agree with the “hate to wait” but as we have seen with blockbuster movie sequels you need the “hype” to move units. You need your fan base to get excited and you also need to give time for people new to a genre or series to familiarize themselves with the product. I to also hate to wait, but I understand the marketing strategy behind it. 
100% agree. Don’t tout a game as the next big step in gaming and then reveal that the release is another year away. That is basically saying that the games I buy in the meantime are totally not worth it. If a car maker made a mass consumer announcement that their next breed of cars would require two thirds less gas as the current crop, people would wait to buy.
Metal Gear Rising Revengance, along with a host of other
announced titles, will not be released until 2013

Looking forward to the new Need For Speed game from Criterion. I know Verde’ and Zoid were both big fans of Criterion’s Burn Out Paradise too. If this is anything close to what a sequel to Burn Out would look like, I’m on board. 
Beyond: Two Souls looks rad. I’ll be watching for that. I’ve really grown to love games that play like really good movies with a strong focus on story and characters. Also the new game from Naughty Dog, The Last of Us. Naughty Dog won my allegiance with the Uncharted franchise. 
I need to do one of two things, either punch Verdeberg in the face for taking the two games I was going to mention or check my room for hidden cameras. Apart from Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us, I am genuinely excited about the Tomb Raider reboot. It looks very gritty and much darker than the previous Tomb Raider installments. Looks like a complete remake in the game engine with a more Uncharted feel to it. 

The Tomb Raider (2012) reboot is looking to have a very different Lara Croft
Picking an E3 winner is a moot point, however, in my opinion Sony has their house in order the best. Lots of new offerings on many different platforms from them and Jack Tretton speaks very well. I was hoping to hear something new from them related to their cloud gaming deals. Either a new streaming way of playing games off your XMB or maybe the next “iteration” of Playstation. 
I think Sony came out as the winner this year but for a different reason, last year was a PR nightmare for Sony with the hacking of the PSN. This year was all about setting themselves up for next years presumed console unveiling. I think they did a great job last year PR wise and this year was to remind everyone of just how great the lineup of games the Playstation can have.
They were also less about the Playstation: Move compared to the amount of focus that Microsoft put into The Kinect. In my mind, the less they talk about those gaming peripherals the better. Sony also had the 2 games that came out of nowhere to really get me excited, Beyond: Two Souls and The Last Of Us. I feel that Sony was really humbled by what happened last year and this year they put their fans first with a slew of solid titles and a reminder of just how good Sony can be. 
2011 was a rough year for them as far as customer concerns go. With the hacking of PSN and the subsequent month-long outage. With this year’s lackluster PS Vita release they recorded a huge financial loss. To me its not about winners and losers, it’s about companies that are as loyal to me as a consumer as I am to them. The Sony E3 address was all about thanking their customers and I appreciate that. As a Playstation 3 owner I want to feel good about not having to buy another game system right away. As long as Playstation continues to keep me happy, I’ll keep buying Playstations. 
Sounds like we all have high hopes for E3 2013. With a year lacking in surprises expectations will be compounded. I expect a year of speculation and “leaked photos” ahead of us, so in other words, life as usual.

E3 2012: electronic arts the download

Live at the Orpheum Theatre on South Broadway in LA. Speculation time is over this event is streaming live around the world and airing on Spike and sister networks. Kicking it off is logo montage of the big EA titles we are going to see. Cheers and claps for the fan favorites.

Join us below the jump for the rest of the keynote.

Keynote available online at: http://www.ea.com/e3

Taking the stage is EA CEO, John Riccitiello. Exclaiming that today’s show will be “less like the Oscars more like Sundance”. I bet that sounded pretty cool to him but not really the case when you are only showing AAA titles.

A trailer for Viceral game’s Dead Space 3 gets the crowds attention. VP and General Manager at Visceral Games, Steve Papoutsis is on hand to describe the new locations like the frozen, xenomorph invested planet shown. DS3 will (finally) have drop-in, drop-out co-op! The new character alongside Isaac is John Carver. They played a frantic live demo of co-op for the crowd. The game will be released in February, 2013.

Moving along, it’s Madden time. The intro video is a heart-string pulling video of Ray Lewis the Baltimore Ravens Superstar. Madden 13 will be powered by a new “Infinity Engine,” which adds run-time physics to the game. Cam Weber, GM of American Football at EA Sports breaks down what’s new this year “Pre-determined outcomes—they’re history.” Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin has taken the stage to discuss career mode. You can also manage your Madden team from your PC, tablet, or smartphone. Can this connection to Facebook and Twitter as well end of days of pen-and-paper fantasy football?

Lucy Bradshaw, SVP of Maxis, presenting SimCity. Two titles this year the first, SimCity Social is coming to Facebook. promising to be the best building game on Facebook. It’s coming in a “just few weeks”. SimCity for PC “…will revolutionize simulation with our new Glassbox engine.” Gameplay choices affect not only the Sims of your city, but also the cities surrounding you as well.

CEO John Riccitiello returns to congratulate DICE Executive Producer Patrick Bach and EA COO Peter Moore on Battlefield 3. They give us some fun stats to repeat like over 1.6 trillion bullets have been fired by 50 MM people world wide. Battlefield 3 Premium has been officially announced. Digital membership will cost $49.99 with you will get in-game gear and all current and future expansion packs. This equals roughly 100 hours of new gameplay. New expansions announced: Armored Kill, will focus on all-out vehicle warfare, Aftermath will be set in a city destroyed by a massive earthquake and motorcycles will be introduced in End Game.

Dr. Ray Muzyka, Co-Founder of BioWare, has stepped on stage to talk Star Wars the Old Republic (Rebel anthem playing in the background). The Old Republic will be adding new PvP warzones to the game with more challenging group and high-level content. Along with a new difficulty setting called Nightmare, new companion characters, a new playable species called the Cathar and a new planet called Makeb. The level cap and combat abilities will also be expanded. The F2P version of SW:TOR is growing, play up to level 15 for free.

Greg Goodrich, Executive Producer on Medal of Honor Warfighter takes the stage. Adding to the authenticity of the MOH franchise, Warfighter’s global stories will “draw a dotted line to actual event or real world hotspot”. To underline the global aspect Warfighter will introduce 12 Tier 1 units from 10 different nations to choose from. The trailer is frighteningly realistic looking; about as close to Somalia as I ever want to get. Will this be MOHs latest attempt to dominate the FPS category once again. We’ll find out, when MoH: Warfighter is released on October 23, 2012.

Andrew Wilson, EVP of EA Sports, has taken the stage to talk about the full lineup of sports titles EA is famous for. First the focus is on social platform games. Madden NFL Social has been announced and will launch this fall. It will be playable on both Facebook and mobile devices. Next we focus on Soccer. 11 million people are registered members of the EA Sports Football Club. FIFA 13 is coming. It will be playable on iPad, iPhone, and (of course, later on) Android. All aspects of the game will be connected to Football Club online. This year Lionel Messi will be the FIFA 13 cover athlete. FIFA 13 will connect soccer fans as a global platform for futbol.

Now, what sports fans are really interested in: UFC (mixed martial arts). Exciting to see Dana White, President of UFC, has just walked out onto the stage. EA is announcing a new partnership with UFC to create a brand-new fighting game! Dana shares some facts like UFC is the fastest growing sport in the world. Sadly, this was just an announcement and we’ll have to wait for the next game (previous UFC games were released by THQ).

Time for Need for Speed Most Wanted! EA confirms that Criterion (of Burn Out fame) will be producing the game. Criterion Producer, Matt Webster, just said they put NFS back on the map when they released NFS Hot Pursuit. Most Wanted will once again integrate the Autolog system to maximize competition between your friends and rivals. Open world driving is back (ala Burn Out) The trailer includes rivals, billboard smashing and of course slo-mo crashes. Need for Speed Most Wanted will release on October 30th. Matt walks off stage saying “God save the queen”.

Cevat Yerli, CEO and Founder of Crytek, shows off the Crysis 3 game demo to end the show (which is over the allotted time slot at this point). “We are pushing the limits of shooter gameplay to deliver adaptive warfare, stunning visuals, and intense sandbox action.” Crysis 3 will introduce seven new areas called “The Seven Wonders,” ranging from canyons to deadly swamps, and more. Crysis 3 is available in February 2013.

CEO John Riccitiello closes the show. proud of his team, welcoming the crowd to enjoy the rest of the expo.



E3 2012: microsoft keynote
E3 2012: home viewing guide

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