Gaming Week #2 (Day 2 | Special Cosplay):
Anya from Gears of War 3 cosplayed by Meagan Marie (Tumblr)
Halo 4 bitches
The world premiere of the Gears of War 3 campaign trailer will air next Saturday, during two of the world’s biggest sporting events.
The footage will debut on 28 May at 21:45 BST, during the Champions League Final, and during Game 6 of the NBA Playoffs in the U.S.
The trailer promises to give fans of the series a “gripping preview” of the game’s campaign, as Marcus, Dom, and their fellow battle-hardened COGs make a last-stand against their old foes, the Locust, and their new nemesis, the Lambent.
Gears of War 3 is released worldwide on 20 September 2011
There’s a good chance I’ll never hurtle down the backroads of Finland at more than 100 mph in a BMW Z4. To be honest, I’d be terrified to cross into triple digits on roads so narrow. But to be able to experience such a feat in a safe environment is divine. Dirt 3 delivers this power, reminding rally nuts what a fun ride this series is.
The driving in Dirt 3 feels tight and responsive, and the six tuning options return to balance out any terrain type. Driving through Finland, Michigan, Norway, LA, Kenya, and Monaco feels superb. Cars respond effectively to the slightest control touches and the need for tight braking stands out. Every slide from gravel onto tarmac or snow feels significant and the variations require extreme concentration. When competitors kick a spray of snow onto the windshield, the effect is appropriately chaotic. The addition of rain, snow, and nighttime driving is not simply cosmetic – headlights are required, wipers stay busy, and tires are tested.
On the event side, Dirt 3’s choices keep coming. Not only has rally returned to the forefront in event selection, entire disciplines can be minimized if they don’t hold your interest. Don’t get me wrong, every discipline has been expanded, but rally keeps the highest event count. The main tour is split into four seasons, but as the podiums add up, six discipline-specific tours emerge, pushing the total race count to even higher numbers. The locations, track variations, and event types make this a ride that lasts a long time. And with so many time-specific events, repeating races is a surefire path to longevity.
Codemasters made an odd choice with car collections. Money’s been thrown out the window and cars are automatically sent over by teams and sponsors through leveling up. It feels as though nothing’s been accomplished when the garage is full of random new cars I didn’t specifically choose. Also, the newest cars provide the greatest driving bonuses, so choosing anything less will lead to earning fewer points. My favorite cars gathered cobwebs for this very reason.
Regardless of their organization, the full set of cars is impressive. Dirt 3 reaches across all decades of rally racing giving the option to pull vehicles dating back to the sixties. Driving older cars, like the Fiat 131 Abarth, is a stark contrast to the feel of souped-up Trailblazer cars.
Dirt 3 is the best looking Dirt game to date. Watching sunsets and sliding through puddles in the rain is stunning, at both high and low speeds. Details like background fireworks and pedestrians scrambling out of the way are a nice touch in a world that feels alive, even in the remotest locations. Car bodies collect dust and snow buildup, and the shiny gleam of rain on the windshield sets the tone of a muddy race.
Dirt 3’s sound stands out. Not just in the roar of engines, but also in the details. From the trackside fan shout-outs to the crunch of packing snow, the details are what make the soundscape superb throughout. The impact of a bad drift or a head-on collision smack you in the gut.
In Dirt 3, triangles are the design center of the menu presentation. These unfolding shapes reveal events, seasons, tours and freeplay options. Animated cars spit out bundles of triangles from the tires, and the look is spot-on, keeping in tradition with the unique, beautiful menu aesthetic the series is known for.
There’s no longer an RV that travels around the world stopping at different events as in Dirt 2. Instead, you begin as a professional driver just signed by an agent. This disembodied agent’s voice provides advice and direction through the game’s insane number of events. A mechanic and fan manager also help discuss car setups and how to make the most out of the community. Unfortunately these voices are bland and ultimately forgettable. The false positivity they provide through thick and thin is grating, when it’s really just the racing that matters. The fan manager constantly suggests uploading clips to YouTube, even when the footage isn’t compelling.
Race replays are lacking in Dirt 3. While I mentioned YouTube uploads, the clips are limited to thirty seconds, meaning one can’t show the world their flawless, five-mile Kenya run. Replays also can’t be saved, so unless you upload a small clip online, all records are lost. It’d be nice to get a second shot at seeing old footage, and not just in tiny increments.
Taking the race online opens up additional options that aren’t found in single player. The new Jam Session Party Modes provide capture the flag and tag-style events that are great in short bursts, but grow tiresome after too many rounds. Serious racers can tackle time trials and leaderboards, force cockpit views in hardcore mode, and even compete with up to eight people in Gymkhana as ghosts sliding through each other. These options are robust, so long after season four concludes, online keeps players racing.
CLOSING COMMENTSIn Dirt 3 a few scratches tarnish an otherwise impeccable product. It’s a superb racing experience and shouldn’t be missed. While the agent isn’t the best leader through the tour, and the garage is limited in its operation, the solid gameplay, variety of tracks and events, and overall fun factor make this a terrific game.
It won’t really come as much surprise, but a tweet from Bioware developer Alistair McNally today has spilled the beans on the next installment of the Dragon Age series.
The tweet confirms Bioware is looking for new talent to work on Dragon Age III, stating ‘I’m looking for exceptional environment artists to join me at #BioWare Edmonton, Canada to work on #DragonAge3 #gamejobs #jobs #3D #artists’.
This was further retweeted by Christina Norman of the Mass Effect team, lending further veracity.
This is the first official confirmation that the sequel is underway.
Set in a nearby future, Brink attempts to do something different with multiplayer gaming by focusing on free-running and parkour. With some good ideas, Brink borders on fun, but its repetition, lack of depth, and graphical problems keep it from being a real contender.
Brink is set atop a floating city called The Ark that has been isolated for over twenty years. A bastion for surviving humans, the Ark is split into two zones, one guarded by security forces, the other by rebels. Brink immediately asks you to choose a side, but, you can take your persistent character through both sides of the bland story, making it pointless. In fact, during character creation, the only permanent choice is a character’s facial appearance and their tattoos. Beyond that, you can change your size, look, weapons, class, and faction on a whim. This makes starting multiple characters almost irrelevant, except that experience maxes out at level 20.
There are four classes in Brink, but there’s a disappointing lack of definition between them. Due to the nature of Brink’s maps, classes require constant changing. One objective might need repairs from an Engineer, while another might have a Medic heal a VIP. But classes don’t really play differently. I was often confused when I couldn’t drop a turret only to remember I was a Soldier, a class with a different set of skills. There’s not much of a chance to pick and master a favorite class.
Brink’s one shining aspect is SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain). Using SMART, holding a single button lets you navigate up walls, over obstacles, and through the game world. Depending on your body size, you can do more or less with movement, but overall this finesse is fantastic. Nothing in Brink feels quite as good as sliding under gunfire into someone, taking them out with a shotgun.
However, it’s easy to forget which size your character is in first-person perspective, as movement abilities don’t change dramatically. While the Large size allows miniguns and shotguns, they still move only slightly slower than the Medium size. Only Small characters can really burst through levels, leaping off of walls and finding clever passageways.
Brink offers 50 skills to unlock, but only 20 are assigned to a specific character. While some high-level skills can really augment how the game is played, such as the Cortex Bomb or firing while incapacitated, a first level player can generally compete with a twentieth level player if they know FPS games. No skill choice is set in stone, so the ability to reassign points at any given time is available.
Brink gives experience upon completing objectives, killing enemies, and helping the team. There is no incentive to become a lone wolf — there are more points for reviving a teammate than going it alone. Brink’s lack of stat tracking is glaring, though. The official website will launch a stats page, but otherwise level, kills, deaths, and successes are hidden — those of other players too.
While Brink’s campaign explains both sides of story, the missions don’t need to be played in order. Brink’s entire campaign can be played solo or online. Any gaps in a match’s player count are filled in with bots, which can’t really compete with the real thing. The AI always makes a full team push to their objective at the last second, so you always know where to be.
You can jump sides at any point outside of a mission, and even general multiplayer just presents the same set of missions, shuffled like a deck of cards. Cut-scenes vaguely indicate a reason to fight. Each faction has a leader and a goal, but neither is very interesting, and the player merely shows up as a background character as other NPCs discuss mission plans and story details.
There are eight maps in Brink, and depending on the faction, the goals are slightly different. Teams either place explosives, hack devices, escort a VIP, or operate machinery on one side, or simply do the opposite for the other faction. Unfortunately, there are only so many ways to tackle these same objectives time and time again on a small number of maps.
Brink’s objectives are repetitive, but the level design is better. Because different sizes of characters allow access to different areas, discovering the full breadth of a map will take quite a while. But again, since objective locations never change, I realized there are a finite number of ways to get things done, and grew weary of certain maps. With a game dedicated to the online experience, there truly needs to be more content in this department.
Time plays a huge factor in every match of Brink. While a bomb timer makes sense, there are some truly odd design choices based on an arbitrary ticking clock. For example, when one team needs to save a VIP, the other team’s job is to stop them. But when downing the VIP, the team must guard the body lying on the ground for up to ten minutes, just keeping the enemy at bay and waiting for the clock to run out like it’s the end of their shift. The waiting is frustrating, especially when dominating a match or if stuck helplessly battling a talented team.
At least the visual design of the overall package looks cool. Brink’s elongated characters have a style all their own and leveling up unlocks new clothing options. However, while the art design is cool, the graphical execution isn’t on par. During play, Brink suffers from pixelated lines and a murky look, making for a downright ugly game at times. Textures often fail to load properly, and with colored outlines on your teammates and the enemy, the detail in everyone’s dress is obscured most of the time.
An online shooter needs variety, depth, and addictiveness to succeed over the long term. Brink might find a niche with some hardcore fans, but it isn’t for everyone. I’d love to see more of the parkour gameplay, but one mechanic isn’t enough to carry an entire game. Brink has heart, but the overall package is lacking.
6.5 of 10
Gears of War 3 Pre-Orders Top One Million
Microsoft and Epic Games have announced earlier today that pre-orders for the upcoming Gears of War 3 has topped the one million mark. This makes Gears of War 3 the fastest pre-ordered game in platform history.
“Consumer demand for ‘Gears of War 3’ has been incredible. It is one of the few times in our history that we’ve seen a title hit this level of pre-order numbers four months out from launch, putting ‘Gears of War 3’ on track to be one of the year’s biggest blockbuster gaming hits.” —Bob McKenzie, Senior VP of Merchandising at Gamestop
The multiplayer beta (which ended May 15) pulled in 1.29 million fans from 145 countries and featured three distinct game modes and four new maps while running on dedicated servers for the first time ever.
“An overwhelming success – we can’t thank the fans enough. While the beta was a fun way to give players an early taste of our game, it also provided us with invaluable feedback to help us refine and polish ‘Gears of War 3’ to ensure it’s truly the culmination of the trilogy we promised to the fans.” —Cliff Bleszinski, Epic Games Design Director
Gears of War 3 launches on September 20, 2011 on the Xbox 360. If you haven’t pre-ordered yet, get to it!
Also check out: Gears of War 3 Epic and Limited Editions
(image via: extremeworld)