Grand Theft Auto V: New Gameplay and Screens Winning Me Over
Yesterday Rockstar pried open the seal on their upcoming mega-blockbuster, GTAV.
Now, I’ll be honest with you since I like the cut of your jib: I’ve fallen out of love with this crime-centric, do-anything-you-want open worlder in recent years. I was there for GTA in its top-down days when vehicular manslaughter meant flattening tiny sprites. And I was right there in its golden age when Rockstar brought the concept to the three-dimensional plane and, soon after, worldwide infamy.
But this generation GTAIV — and its DLC extensions — failed to win me over. It could’ve been the open-world genre had become commonplace by then, with some direct rivals owning better ideas than Rockstar’s once untouchable franchise. It could’ve been the disconnect between me and the surly war veteran I controlled, Niko Bellic, as he begrudgingly (if not reluctantly) submerged himself in a life of petty crime.
But GTAV…The initial story trailers have all kept the status quo — violent, comical characters engaging in capers that satirize pop culture and society. Pretty standard fare for this series. But then there’s this goddamn gameplay trailer which has me sold on the game ten times over. The notion of switching between three separate characters on the fly is exciting on paper, but watching it implemented seamlessly into the flow of an action thick mission glued my eyes to the screen. For a “Do Anything” series, there’s always been a forced rigidity as soon as you picked up a mission. Effortless, real-time character swapping looks to body this complaint head-on.
My other perpetual bone to pick with these games, the combat, has also been banged out and shaped into a beastlier form, perhaps borrowing from the publisher’s experience on Max Payne 3 (kudos on the weapon wheel, Rockstar). Throw in a gigantic Los Santos with more depth and opportunities for interaction than this franchise has ever seen, mix that up with a slew of customization for your trio and the vehicles they acquire (see: steal), and layer it all with Rockstar’s now unmistakeably signature style. When September 17th rolls around, I doubt there’ll be any hesitation in the nerve bundles between my brain and wallet.
Microsoft Then and Now: Old Franchises Coming Back in New Ways
While the video game world anxiously awaits the banquet of announcements being served up at next week’s E3, Microsoft has slammed two appetizers on the table especially for impatient fans.
First up, Microsoft is trying to give you reasons not to box up your 360 and send it to trade-in pasture (Xbox One’s lack of backwards compatibility should’ve already convinced you not to but that’s another battle — and a losing one). Lionhead Studios is digging up their roots and giving their acclaimed RPG-adventure an HD overhaul for the Xbox 360 in Fable Anniversary. Not content on settling for an HD port, this re-addition is a full-on graphical remake that plays host to updated textures, Unreal backed lighting and rendering, a brand new UI, and all sorts of pretty 1080p uplifting.
Completionists will be pleased as hell to hear the Platinum Hits version’s Lost Chapters are included with Anniversary, as well as new achievements that play up the choice/consequence nature of the original title. Fable Anniversary places the classic back on store shelves Holiday 2013.
Halo — a moderately known sci-fi shooter that might’ve made a blip on your radar sometime in the past two console cycles — may be famous for its larger-than-life action but 343 Industries looks to shrink that signature epic experience and let you go mobile with Halo: Spartan Assault, a twin-stick shooter dropped in the gap between Halo 3 and 4's events.
The story follows Spartan Sarah Palmer and chronicles the rise of the Spartan Ops program that sought to bolster the UNSC with Master Chief-a-likes. Though bite-sized, Spartan Assault's 25 mission campaign shares the same DNA as its console brethren; you'll man a multitude of vehicles, customize your loadout with weapons spanning the series' history, and generally mop the battlefield floor with Covenant dregs. Some cross compatibility comes into play as blasting away in Spartan Assault earns you experience and unique emblems within Halo 4 so you can blast away with style there.
Unfortunately, this enticing little shoot em’ up is only bound for Windows 8 phones and tablets. If it proves successful, though, it’s very unlike Microsoft to avoid a mean stream of green, possibly paving a path for an XBLA version (we’ll keep our SMG’s crossed). Expect Halo: Spartan Assault out sometime in July.
Behold the arduous process of turning my 360 into a console more befitting of The Red Herb. Missed out on the limited Resident Evil 5 edition of the system back in ‘09 thanks to a sudden affliction of joblessness (fuck you very much, Gamestop). Recently, though, I got my hands on this fine shell and decided to put my shoulder to the wheel and tear apart my horrifically dusty console (and, to my surprise, found a whole cat lodged inside).
The undertaking lasted ‘bout ten minutes — would’ve taken closer to five if I wasn’t snapping useless pictures. I pondered making a How To but, really, what the hell for? There’s a million informative videos on YouTube detailing significantly crazier shit than cracking an Xbox and slapping a shell on it. The best Pro Tip I can impart is picking up this Opening Tool. It includes a little allen key perfect for those T8/T10 sized security screws (when I did console repairs, you’d find those screws stripped to hell because the kids who’d rip open their Xbox’s didn’t have the right screwdriver).
I’m still on the fence about the disc tray being white, I’d prefer either chrome or simply painting the thing black to nicely offset the red. Knowing me and my bottomless pit of laziness, I’ll likely leave the thing untouched and allow another pound of dust to gather on it. But, hey, at least I got that red part down pat.
“New ideas and some slight refining tweaks skirt around Epic’s established formula, but People Can Fly’s unwillingness to stray off the beaten path, paired with a relatively inconsequential story, ensures Judgment is the weakest entry in the series to date. Ah, don’t make that face. ‘The Bad One’ was bound to happen sometime.”
$99 Xbox 360 Kinect Bundle with Two Year Contract Officially Official
That so-called subscription Xbox 360 Bundle rumored last week is now available wherever there might be a Microsoft Store (which my sources say is nowhere). For $14.99 a month, you can enjoy a brand new Slim Xbox 360 with a Kinect Sensor and a two-year membership with Xbox Live. Adopting a contract similar to most cellphone plans, the system comes with a 24-month warranty and a termination fee that claims your firstborn if you decide to break monthly payments.
Everyone with sense and a calculator will tell you that, in the long run, it’s cheaper to just buy the bundle outright sans the contract — a fact already fueling dissenting opinions from the gaming public. Personally, I believe Microsoft is introducing the new payment model in an attempt to normalize alternative methods for customers to attain their product, so that going forward, people aren’t put off by the company initiating the very same business model for future devices and consoles.
Many may cry afoul this generation, but imagine the next lineup of consoles that hit the scene with price tags sure to zoom right past our current $300 comfort zones. If you offered me an Xbox 720 at release for a hundred bucks…well, let’s just say I wouldn’t quite snub my nose at it. We could be looking at a new trend, folks. We’ll see how this one plays out.
Man Attempts to Smuggle Blow in Xbox 360, Probably Voids Warranty
Deputies of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in Texas arrested a middle-aged gentleman during a routine traffic stop last week. Carlos Valenzuela, aged 42, appeared nervous during the stop, prompting deputies to search his Mercedes Benz for the source of his jitters. 1.8 kilograms of cocaine were found in Valenzuela’s possession in three brick-like bundles.
One bundle was recovered from a bag his eyes kept darting to on his passenger seat, but the real kicker were the two bricks (above) stuffed within an original model Xbox 360. Internalized components such as the heat sinks were removed from the system so that the hidden glad stuff could rest snugly on the motherboard. The disc drive is missing, but in a clever little touch, parts of the disc tray remain (the piece of black plastic in the second picture) giving the console the outward illusion of functionality.
Carlos was charged with manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance and put on a hefty $25,000 bond. Believe it or not, law enforcement officials cannot decipher that you’re transporting three bricks of California cornflakes, telepathically or otherwise. Valenzuela’s tell to deputies was that he failed to signal a turn. And if adherence to the rules of road isn’t the true lesson here, I don’t know what is.
What’s Microsoft Up To? A Subscription Based Xbox 360?
How would you feel about a 4GB Xbox 360 bundled together with a Kinect sensor for the low price of $99? That’s a saving of two-hundred dollars!
But there’s a catch, friend. In order to take that cheap, cheap bundle off of Microsoft’s hands, there’s sort of an eensy bit of a contractual obligation to take care of — for two years straight. The subscription fee Xbox would cost you about $15 bucks a month, netting you Xbox Live access and potentially other exclusives (like deals from cable providers) and comes with a two-year warranty as well as the looming threat of a cancellation fee if you decide to cut payments with Microsoft.
The company itself has refused to comment on the possible subscribed bundle, but if the report over at The Verge is to be believed, we could see this $99 Xbox as soon as next week. The Verge also points out that while the package is discounted at purchase, when compared to buying the full cost bundle now with two years of Xbox Live, it’s still fucking cheaper than riding out 24 months with the new bundle and subscription.
Despite that, tell a person he can make a quick buck today but make more if he waits, that person is still liable to defy reason and go for the instant gratification. If this subscription bundle is the real deal, Microsoft knows exactly what it’s doing when it comes to ensnaring more
Praise Birkin! RE: Operation Raccoon City is Getting Patched
The biggest issue that single-handedly knocked Slant Six’s spin-off down an entire letter grade was the horrendous bugs and glitches that accompany every play session, online or off (like zombies intermittently blinking in and out of existence — which they’re not often prone to do in real life, I’m told).
There’s a well of other problems plaguing this better-at-concept multiplayer mash, but enough shit has been stacked on ORC at this point — I’m sure we all have picked which side of the fence to stand on when it comes to loving or hating the red-headed step child of the franchise (my apologies to red-headed step children the world over).
Flawed game design obviously won’t be addressed but it has been confirmed on the Ask Capcom forum by the company’s friendly North American Senior Veep, Mr. Christian Svensson, that a patch is underway:
"There is a patch in the works to address some issues however I have no knowledge of whether or not these specific ones will be addressed. I’ve shared this thread…with many folks, including the producers in Japan and the QA team."
No hard details (like what’s being fixed or when), but the most staggering news here is that ORC has a Quality Assurance team. Faced.
Halo 4 concept art.
Lollipop Chainsaw's Starling Sisters Kick Zombie Dick
We’re steadfast in our approach to Lollipop Chainsaw’s June 12th release date and we have yet another trailer to add to our belt. This time, Juliet’s sisters, Cordelia and Rosalind, are showcased.
Not content with letting Juliet be the only zombie killing Starling, her sisters enter the fray with just as much talent for dismemberment and a penchant for flowery vulgarities (“My sisters and I wear our vaginas proudly,” proclaims Juliet, both affirming her femininity and ensuring a t-shirt out there somewhere will say that).