Kind of a big update today, with lots of pictures. Let's get straight to it....
Could someone explain Dead Rising 2: Off the Record to me, please? Apparently Frank West wasn't in Fortune City during the second game, while Chuck was trying to save his daughter. But now he's been retconned into actually having something very similar to Chuck's adventure? Actually, hell with it. I don't need to know. What I do know is that Frank will be an even better zombie-killer come October 25th. That's when the "Cyborg Skills Pack" DLC is released for $1.99. This pack turns Frank into an awesome cyborg with electric powers, a la Cole McGrath. The add-on will add electricity damage to all of your attacks, increase your overal melee damage, and amp up your electric effects when using appliances. But forget all of that, look how awesome this guy is:
If you're excited about Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, and who isn't, you may be interested in the DLC pre-order plan Sony has launched. Appropriately named the Fortune Hunters Club, for $24.99 you'll have access to the upcoming DLC and some extra bonuses. Pre-order the Club now, before the game launches on November 1st, and you'll get the the first four multiplayer map packs, and three multiplayer skins for free. If you're planning to buy all of this DLC at $45, you may as well save yourself $20 by ordering it ahead of time. You'll also get an exclusive XMB theme immediately upon ordering. By the way, this would also count towards the October promotion where you'll get $10 in November if you spend $60 on PSN this month.
Just a guess, but I'm thinking all of that DLC from Uncharted 3 is going to bring a bunch of multiplayer trophies as well. Not that these little icons (or their XBox equivalent achievements) actually do anybody any good, but it is fun to see them ding up and then compare your scores to your friends. At least, I think it's fun to compare, but that's probably because I have the highest level on my friends list. Of course, I'm only at level 15 (with 19 platinums - that's 1000/1000 for the XBoxers), so the latest news on this front from Sony means little to me or anyone I know. Apparently the trophy level was capped at 50, which a player called Hakoom reached after earning over 15,000 trophies. He has since had his level upped to 55. Is there a new cap? If so, what is it? So far, Sony hasn't said. Unless you're Hakoom, or play on a shared account, it's safe to assume that you'll never actually know.
Sony's got a couple of other big news drops this week as well. First, the Playstation Store is now available on the Sony Tablet S. This is an expansion of the Playstation Suite, which brings classic Playstation games to Android-based products. At launch, the PS Store App will have ten PSOne Classics for $5.99 each, with more planned to arrive shortly. In addition to what you can see in the picture, launch games include Motor Toon Grand Prix, Rally Cross, and Wild Arms.
But probably Sony's biggest news drop for the week is the North American launch date for the PS Vita. You'll be able to get your hands on the next generation of portable gaming on February 22, 2012. There are currently over 100 titles in development for the device, which is a good thing, considering the PSP has always suffered from a lack of quality titles. Among those 100 are some huge names, particularly Call of Duty, Uncharted, and Assassin's Creed. The handheld will also come with connectivity to Facebook, foursquare, Skype, and Twitter, making it a social tool as well as a solitary one. You can pre-order the Vita on Amazon now. The 3G version is $300, while the wi-fi only option is $250.
Since the latest way to scrape a little more cash from game consumers has become the collector's/limited/ultra special cool/thematically titled edition, why not go one step further and make two of them? That seems to be Square Enix's thinking with Final Fantasy XIII-2, though it's hardly a new concept. They've recently announced the Limited Collector's Edition, which includes a soundtrack CD, art book, six postcards, a lenticular print, and a clamshell package. Also announced was the Crystal Edition that includes everything from the Limited Edition, plus a t-shirt and premium packaging. Both editions will be available alongside the standard retail package on January 31st. Prices for the special editions haven't been announced, but I would guess $80 for the Limited and $100 for the Crystal.
Classic, over-the-top, arcade, 90s football action is making a return in HD. My first thought when I saw this story was "how can that be legal?" But, it turns out that EA bought the rights for NFL Blitz from Midway when they went bankrupt. Which makes sense. No one else is going to buy it when EA holds the exclusive NFL video game rights. Regardless, this is certainly inspired by the recent success of NBA Jam's return in the downloadable space and I think it's a great idea. In addition to the classic 7-on-7 gameplay, two minute quarters, no penalties, 30 yard first downs, and players ON FIRE!, updated features to the game include HD, 60 fps, Blitz battles (head to head or two on two match-ups, locally or online), Blitz Gauntlet single player campaign, and an Elite league where you build teams with card packs (bought through in-game currency earned by winning online matches) and gamble them in risk-reward match-ups. The game is set for a January release on XBLA and PSN, $14.99.
I expressed some discontent in Tuesday's VGQH about Catwoman only being available in Batman: Arkham City via the online pass pack-in with new games. If you don't buy new, you'll have to buy the online pass for $10 to access the additional character. Turns out, Rocksteady and Warner Bros. have had a little trouble with his beyond just annoying fans. Apparently, some of the games shipped didn't actually include the code slip to give the buyer access. Further expounding the problem, some of the packed in codes are not registering as valid with their online service. To be fair, only about one half of one percent of purchasers are having either one of these problems. Which, considering the logistics of a game that will sell this many copies, is still pretty good quality control. If you are one of the unlucky few with a bad or missing code, Warner Bros. wants to help. You can contact the WB Games customer service department via phone (410-568-3680), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or their forum. So, kudos to them for trying to fix it. But, the biggest advertised selling point of the game could have just been included and avoided this whole problem.
On a related note, Mark Hamill told IGN in May that Arkham City would be his final bow as the Joker. While legions of fans hoped this wasn't true, it appears the actor, best known for his role as Ken in Corvette Summer (not an epic trilogy by George Lucas), has not changed his mind. Hamill recently posted on Twitter, "Hello/Goodbye Joker! I've enjoyed every minute behind the wheel of the Crown Prince's crazy car- I'm going to miss him more than I can say!!" And we'll miss your talents behind that wheel, Mark.
I know I'm a little late to the game by just starting L.A. Noire earlier this week. But, if you havent played it yet, you may want to hold off just a little longer. The Complete Edition, which features all DLC cases released so far (and there probably won't be any more with Team Bondi out of business), will be hitting shelves November 15th.
On the other side of the coin, a game that is getting more DLC is Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. The new pack will include two new skins and a fictional plane. The first skin is a Halloween-themed jack o'lantern. The other is a respectful nod to the legendary Marine Corps squad, a Red Devils skin for the F/A18-F Super Hornet. Your fictional plane is the ASF-X Shinden. All three will be available via XBLA and PSN on October 25th.
It's never been a secret that the 'bots around here are big fans of Zen Studios' pinball games (in whatever incarnation they come on your console). Anyone wanting to step into the virtual pinball arena has some stiff competition already established. That hasn't stopped Creat Studios, who will be releasing Pinballistik, exclusively to the PlayStation Network, on November 1st. Much like Zen Studios, they are releasing a small version of the game at a relatively cheap price with additional tables available as DLC. The pricing ($3.99 for the first table, $2.99 for each additional) isn't quite as good as Zen's in my opinion, but they have an ace in the hole. There will be a local multiplayer (or against an AI bot) battle mode. This looks like it has potential, featuring two players battling on a conjoined table, vying for shared goals. I have a hard enough time playing pinball as it is. I'm not sure if making it actively competitive will change that for better or worse. But it does sound cool. The initial buy will get you the "Circle the Wagons" table. "Sector X" and "Made of Money" will both be available at launch.
It's not too often that I get really excited for a demo, especially one that won't be out for another 2-3 months. But when we're talking about Mass Effect 3, I just get giddy. Bioware announced this week that the demo for Shepard's climactic third game will be available in January. The demo will include both single player and "Galaxy at War" multiplayer. Considering I just pre-ordered the game this week, a demo doesn't need to sell me on the game. But hopefully it will set me at ease about the addition of multiplayer to the franchise. And if January just seems too long for you to wait, then I hope you're buying Battlefield 3. An early unboxing of the game revealed an insert advertising early access for buyers of DICE's latest FPS. The in-game ticker will keep you up to date about when you'll actually be able to access the demo. All of this is just to whet our appetites for the full game's release on March 6th.
As mentioned in Tuesday's column, I have held the idea of Ezio Auditore da Firenze as a playable character in Soul Calibur 5 as wild rumor. Until I saw the official confirmation from Namco Bandai and Ubisoft this morning. Also announced, but much less cool, is the pre-order bonus DLC: Dampierre, the top-hatted freak show from Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny. You'll be able to play as both characters when the game releases January 31st.
That's not the only news in Ezio's world today. Sony Pictures has acquired the movie rights to the Assassin's Creed franchise. Apparently they are handling production and distribution of the film, but Ubisoft Motion Pictures will have heavy involvement. The newly formed studio also has projects in the works for Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell movies. I'm looking at this with serious trepidation. Video game movies have a pretty bad reputation. Sony Pictures was responsible for the Jake Gyllenhaal Prince of Persia film. That one wasn't exactly cinematic gold, but it wasn't completely awful.
There hasn't been an announcement that the SSX reboot has been delayed, but it apparently has. The original release window for the game was January 2012. But the confirmed street date is actually a little later, February 14th. Not a big slip, and it may just be related to timing the retail landscape. Regardless, I'm certain many of us can think of worse ways to spend Valentine's Day than rocketing down a mountain on a thin board catching ridiculous air and bouncing hard on the ground below from holding a trick a little too long.
As we get closer to Halloween, I'm finding an urge to play games that are more themed to the holiday. I just started L.A. Noire this week, which just doesn't put me into the mood for my favorite annual holiday. Also, I'm apparently really bad at that game. I picked up Costume Quest for free via my PS+ account recently. I think I'll have to start that one this weekend.
What other games would you suggest for getting into the Halloween spirit?