Tagged "Halo 4"

Professor Layton and The Azran Legacy
Nov 06

It’s a bit of a funny old week for new releases. Why so, you ask? Well, there’s a new PlayStation 2 game for starters in the form of Konami’s PES 2014. It’s also out on PSP this week if you still have one of those as your handheld of choice.

Blackgate

The Wii U and 3DS are also playing catch-up, with their belated versions of Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. Word has it that the Wii U version of Origins is the most stable of the lot, with less screen tearing, fewer glitches and a steadier frame rate than the PS3 and Xbox 360 iterations. There’s no multiplayer though, which may prevent some from making a purchase.

As for Blackgate, the 6 hour length may be a problem for some. It’s apparently pretty good while it last though – GamesRadar dished out a 3.5/5 for it last month.

Joining Batman on 3DS there’s Professor Layton and The Azran Legacy, which is to the last adventure in the series. This latest escapade sees Layton go out in style with one-a-day DLC puzzles to boot. Eurogamer gave the brain bender 9/10 while the Official Nintendo Magazine said goodbye to the professor with a glowing review.

SonicandMario

Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games on Wii U hasn’t gone down quite a well, which is perhaps why the likes of Amazon are offering it for £29.99 already. Polygon highlighted a lack of depth in their 6.5/10 review while CVG said it left them feeling cold. If this goes on to sell even a tenth of what the first Mario and Sonic game did, we’d be very surprised.

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DmCChart
Jan 21

Dante’s latest has shot to the top of the UK chart, becoming Capcom’s first UK #1 since Resident Evil 5 in 2009. However, all signs point to DmC not having to shift all that many copies to bag the top spot – it has only sold just over a third of what Devil May Cry 4 did at launch in 2008.

Nevertheless, choosing to launch DmC on Tuesday was a very wise move seeing that almost the whole of the UK has been snow bound since. It was almost as if Capcom knew what the weather was up to.

With DmC at #1, FIFA 13 drops to #2 and is followed by Black Ops II, Far Cry 3 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Halo 4 was at #7 last week but has now dropped all the way down to #22. We think this may be down to a temporary price cut at GAME that has now seemingly ended.

Another faller is SEGA’s Anarchy Reigns, down from #16 to #31 during its second week of release.

The only other chart activity of note this week is NBA 2K13 re-appearing at #19 and Paper Mario Sticker Star at #35.

Dec 22

It truly is the season of goodwill – Microsoft has bestowed upon us the ability to unlocked Xbox 360 achievements from the comfort of our iPhone.

Hallelujah!

That’s to say, Microsoft Studios’ free to download Wordament was released yesterday on the App Store and offers 10 Xbox 360 achievements worth 50G. It’s quite a significant event so it’s odd that Microsoft has chosen not to make an official announcement about it. Our first guess is that Xbox 360 achievements are one of the Windows Phone’s selling points, hence why they’re keeping it quiet. Another guess is that they’re simply testing the water.

Although Wordament looks like yet another grid-based word search, there’s a fair bit of technology going on behind the scenes – it’s played online against countless other eagled-eyed word spotters at the same time. At the end of each two minute match a list of all possible words is shown as well as your position on a leaderboard.

There are no lobbies or such – as soon as you’ve signed in with your Xbox Live profile (or as a guest, if you don’t have one) you’re dropped straight into a game. This does mean though that sometimes you end up joining a match when there are just a few seconds left on the clock. Earlier this afternoon we found ourselves playing against over 1,200 people – a fair old amount for a game that’s currently less than a day old.

Presentation is more functional than flashy but you can choose a colour palette and also add “frenemies” to compete against. The achievements aren’t too hard to unlock either – there’s even one for tapping on the word tile shuffle button for the first time.

In related news, two fake Halo 4 games have also appeared on the App Store from a duo of rather dubious sounding companies – Dung Bui and Toan Tran.

The product descriptions for each feature official artwork and screenshots from the Xbox 360 version but those who have been tricked into paying $4.99 for either have discovered that one is simply a chess sim, named Chess 4, while the other is a terrible racing game. A load of dung indeed.

Nov 14

If Halo 4 were food, it would be tomato soup – something you’ve had loads of times before yet it’s still comforting. The first few levels in particular have a slightly overbearing sense of familiarity, thanks to an opening not unlike the one found in the original Halo. Make no mistake – 343 Industries can do a very good Bungie impression.

After being woken from a cryogenic pod by a rather panicked Cortana, Master Chief grabs his trusty rifle and magnum to find that his ship has been boarded by the Covenant. Their truce has abruptly come to an end, for reasons later discovered, while Cortana is having her own problems – she’s nearing her ‘best before date’ and slowly losing her digital marbles.

The second mission too feels rather similar to what we’ve seen before – Master Chief crash lands on an alien world where, not far into the mission, a few Warthogs vehicles are found completely unscathed from the crash. Come mission three though and it’s all change – here we get to see what 343i has to bring to the Halo universe. To be exact – a new alien race, complete with a whole new set of accompanying alien weapons. The Promethean Knights are a formidable foe, able to spawn a floating device that can not only heal them but also revive the dead. They bring with them an enemy known as a Crawler – a canine-like creature able to run up and along walls.

The weapons that they drop have some fancy reload animations but are essentially just alien-variants of rifles, shotguns and missile launchers. However, also included in their arsenal are a new grenade type and a Promethean Vision skill that can be used to see through objects. The latter can give players a serious advantage if used in multi-player.

From the fourth mission onwards things become less familiar. The problem with this is that there are only eight missions in total and we had no problem breezing through single-player in a couple of evenings. While it lasted though it was thoroughly entertaining, with a later mission dedicated to vehicular combat and sniping being a highlight. This mission sees Master Chief catching a lift on a vehicle known as a Mammoth – a troop carrier so large it would easily overshadow the infamous Star Wars Jawa sandcrawler.

It’s clear right from the start that this is the best looking Halo yet – each texture is as sharp and detailed as the last and some very clever lighting effects have been used throughout. If this isn’t the Xbox 360 running at full pelt then it’s surely not far off it. Sound effects too impress, with the UNSC weapons sounding meatier than ever.

Whereas single-player is for the most part more of the same, the ‘War Games‘ multi-player mode has had a significant overhaul. There’s a bigger focus on load-outs, with less weapons available on the battlefield. XP now earns tokens, used to unlock new weapons, grenade types and skills such as the ability to run constantly. Characters are customisable, with new armour unlocked as you level up. The map assortment is a mixture of old and new, but thanks to a new coat of paint and a new vehicle – the Manis mech – the old maps don’t feel tired in the slightest. The Forge level builder makes a welcome return, and as before videos and screenshots can be shared. It’s an incredibly comprehensive package. The only problem we had was that in the ‘kill the king’ Regicide mode you often respawn in plain sight of the opposition, which doesn’t really seem sporting.

As well as competitive multi-player there’s the new Spartan Ops mode, which offers bite-sized missions set on small maps. New missions are being added to it on a weekly basis, five at a time, and can be played with three others. These missions have simple objectives and a focus on challenges – kill X amount of enemy Y, mostly – your progress in which you can check using Halo Waypoint. It’s a generous addition – the new episodes are free – but we do worry that 343i are going to quickly run out of ideas. Of the ten missions currently available to play through most are indistinguishable in terms of mission objectives.

Unless you’re expecting a total reinvention of the franchise, Halo 4 shouldn’t disappoint. We do hope though that now they’ve found their feet with Halo’s universe, 343 Industries will spice up Halo 5 with a few more new ideas of their own. Spicy tomato soup. We’d like to try a bowl of that.

Nov 12

Due to a certain game being released tomorrow, it’s looking like Halo 4 will only get one week at #1. That week is this week – Halo 4 sits on top of the UK chart, proudly selling more copies than Assassin’s Creed III managed at launch.

However, it hasn’t sold as well as either Halo 3 or Halo: Reach did during their launches, and has ‘only’ become the UK’s 18th fastest selling game in regards to week one sales.

Last week’s #1 Assassin’s Creed III drops to #2 and is followed by FIFA 13, Need for Speed: Most Wanted – which is up one place this week – and Football Manger 2013.

GAME’s current £19.99 deal for Borderlands 2 seems to have an effect on sales. It’s back in the top ten at #8, up from #13.

The only other new entry in the top 40 is LittleBigPlanet Karting at #24. Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth does make an appearance in the Xbox 360 chart though, at a not too impressive #30.

Nov 08

What are the scores on the doors for Halo 4? A curious mixture is the answer. The highest score we’ve seen is a lofty 9.8 from IGN, followed by 97% from GamesMaster magazine. At the opposite end of the scale sits EGM’s 7.0 review, who panned the shooter for being too similar to the previous games.

8/10 seems to be the median score though, which is what both Eurogamer and EDGE gave it. “Halo 4 isn’t a reinvention so much as a recalibration, a common-sense repair to a drifting narrative, with a hero who is now back in play and back at his best,” said EDGE.

With Microsoft’s big name Kinect titles Dance Central 3, Fable: The Journey and Nike Plus Kinect Training failing to enter the top 40 (aside from Fable, which entered at a lowly #37), Microsoft needs Master Chief to perform well this winter and we don’t doubt that he will.

Speaking of Kinect, Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth is making a not very earth shattering appearance. We weren’t too impressed by the demo, but reviewers seem to be enjoying its simple but frantic nature – EGM and The Official Xbox Magazine both awarded it a 7.

Over on Wii there’s Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals: Sing & Dance from the brilliantly named Tubby Games, and something called Pirate Blast, which comes with a plastic gun.

There are a couple of re-releases out this week too. The Caribbean city building sim Tropico 4 Gold Edition includes the full game and the Modern Times expansion for £29.99. We quite enjoyed the original. Then there’s the Mass Effect Trilogy which bundles the three games together, but no DLC for either ME2 and ME3, and only one piece of DLC for ME1 – Bring Down the Sky. PlayStation 3 owners will have to wait until December for their trilogy. Edge of Reality, who usually handle EA’s console version of The Sims, are converting the original Mass Effect to it. Apparently it runs rather well. Lest you forget, the original hasn’t previously been released on PS3, being an Xbox 360-exclusive.

A couple of big hitters are arriving on Sony formats – LittleBigPlanet Karting and Ratchet & Clank Q-Force. The latter is a purse pleasing £14.99 and contains both the PS3 and PS Vita versions. LittleBigPlanet Karting on the other hand is a full price release and has been developed not by Media Molecule but by Sleeping Dogs developer United Front Games. Reviews have been mixed – IGN gave it a mediocre 5.0 while Game Informer thought it was worth an 8.0.

Spy Hunter is also slipping out on 3DS. Despite some fanfare when being first announced, Warner Bros. has since been reluctant to show it off to the press. The PS Vita version was sneaked out last month to mediocre reviews.

It’s not just Spy Hunter that’s flying the flag for retro this week. ToeJam & Earl Vintage Collection and Karateka are hitting the download services. That’s on Xbox Live Arcade at least – PSN (and Steam) users have to wait until the end of the month for Karateka. It’s a remake of the game that inspired the original Prince of Persia. Eurogamer has a few screenshots here.

Next week: Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PS3, 360, PC), Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified (PS Vita), Wonderbook: Book Of Spells (PS3), Sonic And Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed (PS3, 360, 3DS), F1 All-Stars (PS3, 360, PC), Rugby League Live 2 (PS3, 360), Nintendo Presents: New Style Boutique (3DS), The Hip Hop Dance Experience (Wii, Kinect), Rabbids Rumble (3DS) and Saints Row: The Third – The Full Package (PS3, 360, PC).

Nov 06

Halo 4 is out today. For those who have been living under an inanimate object for the past year or so, 343 Industries are at the helm of this new trilogy rather than Bungie, who have buggered off to do Activision’s bidding.

Tracking down an address for 343 Industries wasn’t the easiest of tasks – most websites point you to Microsoft’s Redmond HQ – but after a bit of sniffing around we found it. Appropriately enough, it’s Bungie’s old home. To Kirkland, Washington!


View Larger Map

A pretty plain and simple building all told, and have to admit to being disappointed by the lack of Warthogs in the carpark. It’s in a decent location for 343i’s employees though – a Starbucks and an Original Pancake House are situated right next door. Sugar and caffeine, we would imagine, are ideal sustenance for long coding sessions.

Do you know who 343i employees might bump into at said locations? Staff from Valve, whose sizeable HQ is also next door.

Must be handy if they ever need to borrow a crowbar.

Sep 27

This year’s Eurogamer Expo kicked off today, hosting the widest range of games imaginable. If you can’t find something to grab your attention at the show then you’re beyond even our help.

As you may expect it it’s the anticipated likes of Halo 4, ZombiU and Call of Duty: Black Ops II that are drawing the biggest queues.

Black Ops II has a dedicated section bigger than most with the centrepiece being this faux ‘command table’ arrangement of demo units. The multi-player mode is on offer, complete with a rather excitable chap providing commentary for every match. We certainly couldn’t knock his enthusiasm while we attended – he made every headshot seem as thrilling as the last. We wonder if that’s going to be the case still come Sunday.

Whoever organised the retro section deserves a pat on the back. Almost every console to be released is present from Amstrad GX4000 to Atari Jaguar. Mario Kart, Power Stone and Bomber Man proved to be very popular. It could just be us, but those indulging in multi-player frolics appeared to have far bigger smiles on their faces then those playing, let’s say, LittleBigPlanet Karting.

Carm-and-get-it. See what we did there? Anyway – Carmageddon has a heavy presence. As well as Carmageddon Reincarnation on its way Carmageddon Funsize is going to be making a grizzily mess on mobiles, available as a free and premium download. If the stickers plastered in the men’s toilet are to go by, the grannies who yell “I was in the war” before colliding with your windscreen will be making a welcome return. Yes!

Aliens: Colonial Marines is another one with queues long enough to make our feet hurt. We’ve snapped a photo of Bella, the latest edition to the gun-ho marines. Bella’s inclusion came about after fans complained to Gearbox about the lack of female characters.

We had a little play on F1 Race Stars and liked what we saw. Vehicles take damage and can enter a pit stop, the three-tiered boost system is innovative and the pre-match animations are neat. The track we played – a fantasy world with a medieval-style castle – featured pedestrian traffic, steep hills and wet weather conditions to battle with.

Merchandise is on offer and comes in all shapes and sizes, from inexpensive keyrings to these elaborately detailed figures from Square-Enix. It’s quite odd to see Square-Enix producing figures based on other publishers’ IP, like Master Chief and Chun-Li here.

The Mountain Dew stand – which had a promotion to tie-in with Halo 4 – is one of the more creative ones, featuring a pair of novelty petrol pumps. This glowing Xbox 360 caught our attention. Sadly, it’s not an actual working console – it’s as hollow as your average YouTube commenter’s brain.

Lastly, here’s the Just Dance 4 funky fun bus as it (probably) wasn’t called. Anybody willing to have a boogie in front of a sizable crowd is a braver soul than us.

Next year’s show has been confirmed to take place 27th-29th September.

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