Episode #46: Crimson Affinity

Posted by jeffp2662 on October 10, 2011 in Episodes tagged with
It’s Official!! ME3 Multiplayer
Following our earlier report yesterday, executive producer Casey Hudson has officially announced the details of the secret four-player co-op multiplayer missions on its forums. According to Hudson, the co-op missions will take place outside of the main campaign and not affected by the game saves from the two previous Mass Effect games. “Players can choose from a variety of classes and races, form an elite Special Forces squad, and combine their weapons, powers and abilities to devastating effect as they fight together to liberate key territories from enemy control,” he revealed. “Success in multi-player will have a direct impact on the outcome of the single player campaign, giving players an alternative method of achieving ultimate victory against the greatest threat mankind – and the entire galaxy – has ever faced.” 

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Is Wave-Based Survival, Features Persistent Progression
Multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 will be realized as a four-player wave-based survival mode. Players will create characters, with control over things like gender, race, character class and, on a match-by-match basis, equipment loadouts. As you complete various 11-wave showdowns you’ll earn experience that levels up your classes persistently.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Can Impact Single-Player Story’s Outcome
by Chris Pereira of 1UP
The four-player co-op mode is one aspect of the Galaxy at War system.
Before single-player fans begin panicking, there’s an important detail you’ll want to hear: it’s all completely optional. You’ll still be able to complete the game in the most ideal way possible without ever diving into the multiplayer portion; it’s merely an option for those who wish to take advantage of it.

This news comes by way of a forum post authored by BioWare staffer Chris Priestly. Many details are being kept under wraps, but enough information was shared that those who complained about the single-player game being negatively impacted should feel better.

The co-op multiplayer doesn’t feature Commander Shepard or any of the other characters from the main game. Instead, you’ll create a character specifically for that mode, and for the first time in the series, you’ll be able to play as non-humans. Krogans, Turians, Asari, and others will be playable, each having its own abilities. Your character will level up and you’ll be able to upgrade his or her weapons.

Players will work together to wrestle control of certain areas away from enemies. This will be one of several components of Mass Effect’s Galaxy at War system. (The others will be announced at a later time.) You’ll work to raise the galaxy’s “Galactic Readiness” level, which is “measured by Commander Shepard’s ability to apply every possible asset — people, weapons, resources, armies, fleets — in the final battle against the Reapers.” Playing co-op is one way of increasing this level, which is completely optional — as noted above, it’s “still possible to achieve the optimal, complete ending of the game in Mass Effect 3 through single-player alone.”

Certain Affinity Announces Vengeance for “Crimson Alliance”
(Austin, TX)
Certain Affinity is excited to announce the upcoming Vengeance Pack for “Crimson Alliance,” coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade on October 12, 2011. Following up on the intense combat action of Crimson Alliance, the Vengeance Map Pack allows up to four players to continue cooperatively hacking and slashing their way through the perilous lands of Byzan.
“From the start we wanted to keep the adventure going by giving players new places to explore with their friends. When we finished the game back in May we had a few months to wait before the Summer of Arcade was over. So we devoted ourselves to building the kind of maps that we wanted to play: fiendishly difficult ones that are perfect for co-op,” said Max Hoberman, President of Certain Affinity.
The Expansion pack contains new campaign levels pitting players in a race against time to hunt down and destroy two dangerous new threats. Also included is a new Challenge Map called “Fistful of Coins,” which allows users to test their skill against an increasingly deadly onslaught of enemies, with mountains of gold at stake. New loot, new enemies, and new challenges await in the first downloadable content expansion pack for Crimson Alliance!
Prepare to take Vengeance on October 12, 2011 for 240 Microsoft Points. The pack will be available from the main game menu, and will require a 40MB download.
For more information visit www.crimsonalliance.com or contact press@certainaffinity.com with inquiries.

Hitman : (Whatever they end up calling it) has gameplay footage
Somehow, this is the first official in-game footage of Hitman: Subtitle which has been released to the hungry eyes of the public. Feast, feast!

That, er… that sure ain’t Blood Money, is it? I didn’t realise 47 had a cameo in the next Deus Ex: Human Revolution DLC. Stick with it though – around the 11 minute mark things start to become a little more like ‘our’ Hitman, albeit with more cutscenery. Also, donuts. Great ending, too – that telltale mind-tickle of excitement is now upon me.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 planning monthly DLC
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is extending the story built in the first game, but we can expect the game to continue far past what you’ll find on the disc. Producer Yoshinori Kitase has revealed that the game is planning plenty of downloadable content, and estimates roughly one or two packs per month.

The Japanese magazine Dengeki PlayStation (via Andriasang) reports that each of the packs will contain multiple items, for an undisclosed price. Kitase promised the content will strike a good balance between price and quality. And while none of the packs have been detailed, we know that costumes, weapons, and enemies are among the goodies you’ll find in the packs. Square Enix is currently working to make downloadable costumes work inside cutscenes.
These plans are for Japan, but it’s likely North American plans will be similar.

The magazine also details the “Summon Raid” and “Syncro Drive Gauge” systems — keep in mind, those are translations and may not be the final names in the North American release. The Summon Raid lets you capture monsters in battle according to a crystal percentage. Meanwhile, the Syncro Drive Gauge lets your monsters unleash a powerful attack once it’s full, and these attacks will sometimes include quick-time events.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is due on January 31 in North America.

Time Travelers, Now Multiplatform, Detailed
It’s been a while since Level-5 let the public have a peek at Time Travelers, the 3DS adventure game penned by Jiro Ishii of 428 fame. Famitsu magazine let out some more details this week, and the biggest news for net-forum console warriors may be that the game’s no longer a 3DS exclusive — instead, it’ll be coming out sometime in 2012 for the 3DS, PSP, and Vita.

Time Travelers is set in Tokyo circa 2031, a place where a lot seems to be happening all at once. 18 years previous, a massive explosion — whether it was a natural phenomenon or a terror act was never determined — literally ripped a hole in the skyline which still exists today. A space elevator shoots into the sky from the harbor, and holographic advertising lines the streets. The story is centered around Mikoto Shindo, a girl with natural time-travel skills that gets involved with thwarting the plans of Skeleton, a new terrorist group that kicks off the game by hijacking a downtown bus.

Poor Valkyria Chronicles II Sales Mean No VCIII for the West
Sega’s Hiroshi Seno has revealed to GameSpot that the publisher has no plans to create an English version of the RPG for western markets. That’s thanks to the overall lack of popularity of the PlayStation Portable (which the second and third VC games were made for) in those regions and the poor sales of the second game.

Valkyria Chronicles II was released last August to fairly strong reviews. Its predecessor wasn’t a huge seller on PlayStation 3 in North America but was much beloved by those who did play it. A fan campaign did manage to lead to a sizable jump in sales, though not enough to convince Sega to create another console title.
Valkyria III was rumored after URL registration were discovered last year. Sega teased it was coming and then accidentally confirmed it ahead of the official announcement last September. It was released in Japan this past January, earning a 36 (of 40) score from Famitsu.

Seno said Sega may release a downloadable version of VC for Vita, but again, that does fans in the west no good if the game isn’t localized. Knowing fans of the series — and the fan campaign that ensued with the first game is the perfect example of this — it wouldn’t be surprising to see an attempt to change Sega’s mind.

Activision’s Skylanders erases the line between toy and video game
Skylanders was first shown at Toy Fair, not at a video game event, and that decision makes sense. This is a product that works on a few levels, including the irrational need to collect things, and to level them up. The cynical part of me wants to call this a money-grab, but the more child-like part has already fallen in love with the concept, especially after I was given the chance to play with the toys and the game.

Here’s the trick: by placing a toy on a portal that connects to your system via USB, you transport it into the game, level it up and unlock new powers and upgrades. You can switch out your playable character at any time, and a friend can likewise put a toy on to play with you. All the information is stored on the toy itself, so you can bring the action figure to a friend’s house and keep your data. It’s as fun in action as it sounds in print.

Playing the game
“Do you want to play?” the Activision representative asked me when he saw me eying the game. I said yes, and stepped up to the television. “Pick a character, and get to it!” There were a few different plastic toys on the display, but I zeroed in on Spyro himself, put him on the portal, within a beat or two the virtual Spyro warped onto the screen.

The game itself plays like Gauntlet, with a lot of running around, item collection, and whaling on the enemies. The stylized, animated look was inviting, and I had already begun to look forward to playing this with my kids. The representative was getting restless watching me play alone, so he grabbed another member of the press, who chose a little imp with two guns to place on the portal. The character warped into the game, and soon we were playing co-op.

The speed in which you can switch characters was impressive, as was the physical action of swapping out toys. If you’re in an ice area, find yourself a fire character and swap him out. If you’re in a fire area, bring in your water character. It takes only a second for the portal to read the toy and bring that character into the game to continue the fight. Different characters are more or less powerful in certain areas, and the game will tell you when you’re being given an elemental advantage. At launch there will be support for 32 characters, and the starter pack will come with three characters, the USB portal, and the game for around $70. You’ll be able to buy booster packs of toys for an unspecified price to grow your collection of characters.

The Darkness 2 Already Looks Like Digital Extremes’ Best Game
The Darkness 2 can be off-putting for several reasons. It uses that “graphic noir” art style, which ultimately means that there are really pronounced outlines on everyone, and the colors on the textures of character skins tend to have a bolder (but odder) look to them. Besides utilizing a cel-shaded-but-not-quite art style, the other off-putting aspect is how The Darkness 2 isn’t from Starbreeze, but from Digital Extremes

The Darkness 2 publisher 2K Games likes to play up the “quad-wielding”, where you can easily use your firearms and demon arms together; the former with the triggers and the latter with the bumpers. Rather than use a menu or a context-sensitive ability, the two demon arms fulfill different functions: the left one grabs stuff while the right one slashes at stuff. The grabby demon arm feels somewhat like a gravity gun — it latches onto to anything highlighted in purple and can toss that same item easily. The slashing demon arm performs a basic slash at the tap of the bumper, but holding it down and using the right-analog stick lets you direct the tentacle around the cardinal directions, for when you really need to cut something east-west rather than north-south.

The main result of this quad-wielding is that it feels pretty smooth. Right/left trigger for right/left weapon isn’t new, but adding those two demon arms makes for some interesting tactics. I can open up with a weapon and then close in for a quick slice or two. I can use the grabbing arm to snag a car door to use as cover for a particular stretch of trigger-happy goons. I can switch between the guns and the slashing arm to weaken someone until his heart becomes visible, after which I can use the grab to snag him for a context-sensitive execution (said execution varies depending on which body part my demon arm grabs — the arms tearing someone apart from the crotch results in the “wishbone” execution).

My reward for varying up how I take out goons — via gun, demon arm, or a combination of the two — is points; points that I use for another new feature: a skill tree. Walk up to a talent shrine (I don’t have an in-game explanation for what this is), and you can then level up your, er, darkness-itude up four talent trees: Demon Arm Upgrades, Darkness Powers, Hitman Upgrades, and Executions. Each tree emphasizes a different skillset, and there are distinct branches within each tree as well. The Darkness Powers split between Gun Channeling (turning your firearms into unlimited ammunition dark power-spewing death machines for a set period of time) and Swarm (unleashing a bunch of insects — someone at Digital Extremes was fond of unleashing bees in BioShock), by example. The Demon Arm Upgrades add additional tactical uses like slamming fools onto the ground or, conversely, tossing them up for juggling (and therefore more points for the kill to spend on other abilities). The Hitman tree adds support abilities, such as increased ammunition count per magazine; and finally, the Execution tree enhances your Execution moves (like triggering Hitman Executions that add ammunition when pulling them off).

It’s stuff like this crazy skill tree that tops off what makes The Darkness 2 stand out the most. Or how the Darkling is a singular yet controllable critter (all I get to do is guide him down some vents and have him bite some dude in the neck, so I can’t make a real judgment call on this yet). Adding skills, abilities, and controllable minion minigames to a shooter isn’t a big deal in general, but big addition like this from Digital Extremes is something I take notice of. That, and the art style (that I’m not a fan of) end up fixing an issues I’ve seen in previous all-Digital-Extremes games: namely how utterly generic they look and feel. It probably helps to have The Darkness as a license, but having crazy upgradeable powers plus the art style plus the bizarre situations — like brothels in mannequin factories — result in what already looks like Digital Extremes’ best game.

Direct Show Link