Home » Archive for "Xbox 360"

Metal Gear Solid 4 ‘Too Enormous’ for Xbox 360

Metal Gear Solid 4 LE image

Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima has explained why Metal Gear Solid 4 and the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection will not be released on Xbox 360.

In an online radio show discussing the Legacy Collection (translated by Kotaku), Kojima said “I’m sorry to say an Xbox 360 version isn’t being released, because an Xbox 360 version of MGS4 hasn’t gone on sale. To explain the situation, the amount of data in MGS4 is just too enormous.”

Kojima pointed out that due to Xbox 360’s use of DVD (as opposed to Sony’s use of Blu-Ray) Metal Gear Solid 4 would require seven discs to be released on Xbox 360. Kojima (presumably referring to the Metal Gear Legacy Collection) said “I want to put it out [on the Xbox 360], but we won’t be releasing it.” He added that “if we released a version on the Xbox 360 without MGS4, then it’s not The Legacy Collection.”

Kojima did note that “when it’s the next console, maybe we can release it.”

Will Xbox 360’s successor support a different disc format? We’ll find out on May 21st.

The Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection contains Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: HD Edition, Metal Gear Solid 3: HD Edition (which includes the original MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2), Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition, Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions and Metal Gear Solid 4. It will hit PlayStation 3 next month.

We’ve reached out to Konami for further clarification on Kojima’s comments and will update this article with any additional information we receive.

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.

By Andrew Goldfarb

The Evolution of RPG Archetypes

Seems like every game is an RPG these days. At this point we fully expect the next chapter of Tetris to tout “RPG elements!” on the box. It’s the cliché of our times. But saying something has been inspired by RPGs usually means more than “it has numbers and a skill tree.” Just about anything with even a whiff of RPG about it can trace its roots back to Dungeons & Dragons, the tabletop adventure that debuted back in the ’70s.

Perhaps the greatest contribution D&D made to gaming wasn’t just the use of numbers and random rolls to determine success and strength, but rather the definition of, well, roles. D&D laid down the basis for the character archetypes that appear in nearly every modern game, especially anything that even vaguely resembles an RPG. And, as it turns out, just about everything breaks down to one of three character types: The warrior, the wizard, and the thief. Or to put it into proper D&D 1st Edition terms, the Fighter, the Magic-User, and the Rogue.

The Fighter



What Was It?

Your basic down-and-dirty brawler, the Fighter makes use of a wide range of weapons and armor in order to deliver efficient hurt to deserving foes.

What Inspired It?

The Fighter was Conan the Barbarian through and through. John Carter of Mars minus the laser guns. Your classic huge, muscular man with a sword in one hand and a buxom newly-liberated slave girl hanging off the other. He probably speaks without bother with things like “articles” or “grammar,” and when other people describe him they probably use words like “thews” and “sinews.” He may not be highly educated, but he know exactly where to put the pointy part of a sword for maximum effect.

The Paladin

The Paladin took the Fighter concept in a very specific direction: As holy warriors sworn to work to protect others and uphold the greater good, Paladins gained greater power and impressive spiritual skills. The tradeoff? They could only behave according to the strictures of D&D’s Lawful (or Lawful Good) alignment, limiting their potential solutions for problems as well as their potential allies.

The Ranger

The Ranger uses his strength to commune with nature and befriend animals. This may sound silly, but when a Ranger’s animal pals include eagles, bears, and even dragons, you probably don’t want to laugh too loudly. A Ranger probably won’t help much in cities, but he’s an invaluable ally in the wilderness… you know, where most D&D adventures take place.

The Monk

If you grew up in a Christian-dominated society and the word “monk” evokes visions of dudes in sackcloth and tonsured hairstyles, this class might have been a little confusing at first. No, the D&D Monk draws upon the Eastern monastic tradition of ascetic living and sweet martial arts. Devastatingly powerful unarmed fighters, Monks tend to be a little fragile since they don’t wear heavy armor. But they make up for it with their mastery of the spirit, which allows them to channel their inner strength anf the power of the Earth to heal themselves and others.

What’s Its Legacy?

The fighter is basically the default class in any kind of role-playing game. After all, it’s the easiest role in a combat-driven RPG to understand: You hit something, it dies. But there’s surprising nuance to this class and its interpretations.

No look at character classes would be complete without the Final Fantasy Job System, one of the most detailed and considerate distillations of character skills in the medium. The Job System typically includes Knight and Monk among its most basic classes, with interesting variants along the way. The Mage Knight allows players to retain the standard perks of the Knight class with elemental augments, where Rangers and Archers incorporate ranged combat skills into their repertoire. Final Fantasy’s Job-based games also offer one of gaming’s purest takes on the D&D Monk class, fast and powerful albeit fragile.

The Fighter concept mutates in interesting ways for RPGs that stray from the classic sword-and-sorcery template. In Mass Effect, for instance, most combat revolves around shooty sci-fi weapons… but then you have the Soldier class, which leans on heavy weapons and high durability, and the Vanguard, whose strength is closing the gap with enemies quickly to deliver a shotgun blast to the face. Similar concept, different execution.

In massively multiplayer RPGs, the Fighter’s descendants usually serve as the base of the team, serving the essentials roles of tank and the DPS. And of course you have those old-school fantasy brawlers, where Golden Axe’s barbarian and the alarmingly pinheaded Amazon in Dragon’s Crown uphold the classic archetype.

The Magic-User


What Was It?

“Blimey, ‘arry, yer a wizard!” Casting magic, slinging spells, and not necessarily being a fragile little weakling in a robe while doing it.

What Inspired It?

Pretty much everything in D&D came from Lord of the Rings, so it seems pretty likely Gary Gygax had his thumb on the bits where Gandalf did cool stuff like splitting rocks and summoning great beasts when he was drafting the Magic-User. In the super old-school D&D days, Magic-Users had to really work hard to do their job, memorizing a limited number of spells and only being able to use them once per day — and forgetting them once cast! Honestly, modern-day magic points are just a watered-down imitation of true D&D rules.

The Wizard

The classic model of the magic-user, the Wizard suffers extreme physical frailty heightened by their inability to use any armor that’s worth a damn. But when it comes to nasty battles against huge mobs of foes or insanely high-level beasts, there’s no one you’d rather have on your side than a rumpled old man chuckin’ Magic Missiles with impunity.

The Cleric

Originally, Cleric was one of just three classes available to D&D players, standing separate from and distinct to Wizards. But soon after, they rolled into the general mage category, becoming the “white” counterpart to the Wizard’s “black” magic. Calling on holy power, the Cleric could heal the living and banish the undead… and isn’t too lousy in a scrap thanks to some decent weapon proficiency.

The Bard

A special prestige class, the D&D Bard took exceptional dedication to master. But the result was a spectacularly talented character, one able to hold his own as an active combatant or a valuable support character. In later editions, the Bard drifted from mage classification to become more of a Rogue type. A Roguelike, if you will.

What’s Its Legacy?

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the series’ steadfast old-fashionedness, Dragon Quest has always stuck most closely to the traditional D&D concept of magic-users. Sorcerers like DQIV’s Maya are physically weak — almost tragically so — but cast devastating attack spells and can sometimes even transform into raging beasts. on the other hand, Dragon Quest clerics tend to be handy melee warriors but trade a degree of physical strength and defense for the ability to cast curative magic.

In Japanese RPGs, mages generally tend to be young female characters, often scantily clad (apparently they figure that since they can’t use armor for protection, they shouldn’t bother dressing at all). They usually wield staves and rods, deal negligible physical damage, and should lurk in the back row of combat to avoid being utterly slaughtered.

Western RPGs, on the other hand, tend to favor the Gandalf model. Old dudes and ancient crones study magic for centuries, becoming wizened little Yodas capable of tear the fabric of reality asunder with a thought. All along the Sword Coast, the scent of magical catalysts is complemented by the smell of Ben-Gay.

Even RPGs that avoid using fantasy conventions, such as our old friend Mass Effect, deal with wizards. They call magic “biotics” and their mages “Adepts,” but whatever. Memorizing spells and amplifying your innate psychic potential with implants is all pretty much the same.

Meanwhile, more traditional RPGs like Etrian Odyssey and Final Fantasy Tactics make use of Bards (and their lady equivalents, Dancers) in the classic D&D sense: A nimble warrior skilled in the sword but even better for singing spells of party enhancement and enemy debuffs.

The Rogue


What Was It?

A sneaky pilferer who slips through the night in order to take your money. And your heirloom jewelry. And, possibly, your life.

What Inspired It?

The Thief began as a rogue, equal parts Bilbo Baggins (sneaking silently to steal goodies) and Fritz Leiber’s Gray Mouser (preferring guile to conflict). While D&D originally began life as a distillation of tabletop war gaming, it had stats like “charisma” and “intelligence” that determined how effectively its players could role-play in the true sense: Interacting with characters performed by the game master, creating allegiances and winning allies with words as much as deeds. The Rogue and Thief classes specialized in these areas… and in figuring out how to crack locks and disarm traps, whether on the door of a citizen’s home or hiding treasure inside a dungeon chest.

The Assassin

While the Thief specialized in pilfering goods, the Assassin class used its stealthiness in a more predatory capacity: Namely, pilfering lives. With greater combat capabilities, instant-kill skills, and better proficiency in disguises, Assassins took the Thief profession in a deadlier direction — albeit one with less finesse.

What’s Its Legacy?

The Rogue has never been that huge a presence in Japanese RPGs. Sure, you can name some memorable thieves — Locke Cole from Final Fantasy VI (though he preferred the term “treasure hunter” and Rutee Katrea from Tales of Destiny come to mind — but by and large that class never gained much traction. That’s probably because Japan already has ninjas, which are basically thieves and assassins, but several orders of magnitude cooler. Video games never have “cyborg thieves,” but “cyborg ninjas”? Those guys are all over the place.

On the other hand, Western RPGs love the concept of Rogues and Thieves. This is true of licensed MMOs like The Old Republic — the Smuggler class is basically Han Solo, who was referred to multiple times in the movie as a rogue! — and of more traditional RPGs as well. In fact, stealth and theft have become endemic elements of Western RPGs to the point that Rogues often make the easiest class to play.

Case in point: The Elder Scrolls games. Between the class’ tradition of a silver tongue and the utility of stealing (and selling) everything in sight, building a thief is so practical that it’s one of the game’s core options. Built right, Elder Scrolls Thieves essentially break the game by combining stealth, archery, and preemptive attack perks.

Jeremy Parish was voted Best Dressed Games Writer by a jury of his peers. Follow him on Twitter @gamespite for updates on Breaking Bad, fancy hats, and roguelikes.

Seems like every game is an RPG these days. At this point we fully expect the next chapter of Tetris to tout “RPG elements!” on the box. It’s the cliché of our times. But saying something has been inspired by RPGs usually means more than “it has numbers and a skill tree.” Just about anything with even a whiff of RPG about it can trace its roots back to Dungeons & Dragons, the tabletop adventure that debuted back in the ’70s.

Perhaps the greatest contribution D&D made to gaming wasn’t just the use of numbers and random rolls to determine success and strength, but rather the definition of, well, roles. D&D laid down the basis for the character archetypes that appear in nearly every modern game, especially anything that even vaguely resembles an RPG. And, as it turns out, just about everything breaks down to one of three character types: The warrior, the wizard, and the thief. Or to put it into proper D&D 1st Edition terms, the Fighter, the Magic-User, and the Rogue.

The Fighter



What Was It?

Your basic down-and-dirty brawler, the Fighter makes use of a wide range of weapons and armor in order to deliver efficient hurt to deserving foes.

What Inspired It?

The Fighter was Conan the Barbarian through and through. John Carter of Mars minus the laser guns. Your classic huge, muscular man with a sword in one hand and a buxom newly-liberated slave girl hanging off the other. He probably speaks without bother with things like “articles” or “grammar,” and when other people describe him they probably use words like “thews” and “sinews.” He may not be highly educated, but he know exactly where to put the pointy part of a sword for maximum effect.

The Paladin

The Paladin took the Fighter concept in a very specific direction: As holy warriors sworn to work to protect others and uphold the greater good, Paladins gained greater power and impressive spiritual skills. The tradeoff? They could only behave according to the strictures of D&D’s Lawful (or Lawful Good) alignment, limiting their potential solutions for problems as well as their potential allies.

The Ranger

The Ranger uses his strength to commune with nature and befriend animals. This may sound silly, but when a Ranger’s animal pals include eagles, bears, and even dragons, you probably don’t want to laugh too loudly. A Ranger probably won’t help much in cities, but he’s an invaluable ally in the wilderness… you know, where most D&D adventures take place.

The Monk

If you grew up in a Christian-dominated society and the word “monk” evokes visions of dudes in sackcloth and tonsured hairstyles, this class might have been a little confusing at first. No, the D&D Monk draws upon the Eastern monastic tradition of ascetic living and sweet martial arts. Devastatingly powerful unarmed fighters, Monks tend to be a little fragile since they don’t wear heavy armor. But they make up for it with their mastery of the spirit, which allows them to channel their inner strength anf the power of the Earth to heal themselves and others.

What’s Its Legacy?

The fighter is basically the default class in any kind of role-playing game. After all, it’s the easiest role in a combat-driven RPG to understand: You hit something, it dies. But there’s surprising nuance to this class and its interpretations.

No look at character classes would be complete without the Final Fantasy Job System, one of the most detailed and considerate distillations of character skills in the medium. The Job System typically includes Knight and Monk among its most basic classes, with interesting variants along the way. The Mage Knight allows players to retain the standard perks of the Knight class with elemental augments, where Rangers and Archers incorporate ranged combat skills into their repertoire. Final Fantasy’s Job-based games also offer one of gaming’s purest takes on the D&D Monk class, fast and powerful albeit fragile.

The Fighter concept mutates in interesting ways for RPGs that stray from the classic sword-and-sorcery template. In Mass Effect, for instance, most combat revolves around shooty sci-fi weapons… but then you have the Soldier class, which leans on heavy weapons and high durability, and the Vanguard, whose strength is closing the gap with enemies quickly to deliver a shotgun blast to the face. Similar concept, different execution.

In massively multiplayer RPGs, the Fighter’s descendants usually serve as the base of the team, serving the essentials roles of tank and the DPS. And of course you have those old-school fantasy brawlers, where Golden Axe’s barbarian and the alarmingly pinheaded Amazon in Dragon’s Crown uphold the classic archetype.

By Jeremy Parish

Defiance Review

Defiance is the B movie of massively multiplayer games: rickety and unrefined, yet a good time all the same.

The Good

  • Exciting arkfalls capture the sense of a population fighting for riches
  • The lure of interesting new weapons is irresistible
  • Well-paced co-op missions
  • Great scaling and progression have you exploring the world early on.

The Bad

  • Depressing array of bugs intrude on almost every aspect of play
  • The shooting lacks a sense of power
  • Wonderless world and story
  • Jumpy frame rates
  • Unbalanced difficulty in story missions.

Defiance is a difficult game to wrap your head around. That’s not because it’s all that complicated, but rather because it’s just so much fun, even though none of the elements are done particularly well. Defiance is a massively multiplayer shooter in which every aspect is merely decent at best, yet it somehow pieces the jagged elements together into an entertaining picture as you pursue one challenge after another across its postapocalyptic landscape. What a shame that the trek is interrupted not just by the squishy kinds of bugs that you like to kill with guns and grenades, but technical kinds of bugs that have you cursing and rolling your eyes.

Your first arkfall will hardly be your last.

  • Comment on this video
  • Watch this video in High Def

Look beyond the hitches and the jittering frame rates, and you discover a game with a scrappy attitude and a tight handle on what a massively multiplayer world needs to keep you coming back in spite of the frustrations. What is this world? Well, it’s Earth, as it happens–more specifically, the San Francisco Bay Area. An alien war has ended, and an uncertain peace between exhausted factions remains. The decrepit remnants of an annihilated fleet of spaceships orbit the planet, occasionally plummeting to the land beneath, and drawing in treasure hunters eager to scour the remaining debris for valuable commodities. Terrestrial and extraterrestrial plant life have merged, causing bizarre purple flowers to grow from the gnarled branches that corkscrew above crumbling highways and rusting copied-and-pasted factories.

You shouldn’t come to Defiance to be immersed in the world, which looks too monotone to be all that compelling. Ruinous environments can have their own kind of disastrous beauty, but this vision of Earth lacks the tense atmosphere and visual variety of gaming’s best ravaged lands. You might become invested in this world in spite of its mundane looks, however, depending on your level of interest in the SyFy television show of the same name. Story-based missions feature the vague likenesses of characters from the show, and future story missions are promised, but stiff facial animations and inconsistent voice acting–not to mention a lot of cheesy (in the bad way) dialogue–make it hard to whip up any excitement over the narrative in spite of an abundance of cutscenes.

Massively multiplayer online games have trod in alien territory before, though MMOGs remain a rarity on consoles. Nonetheless, Defiance’s structure is a familiar one. The game pushes you from from one task to the next, having you clear meadows of giant hellbug swarms, free captured prisoners from their bonds, collect data from computer terminals, and so forth. You perform most of these missions in the open world, though key assignments might send you into instanced areas meant only for you and your groupmates.

Robots can't feel pain, so it's ok to shoot them.

Robots can’t feel pain, so it’s ok to shoot them.

Defiance is not a typical role-playing game, however, but a shooter through and through, so while you have special skills to perform, you can generally concentrate on aiming at your target and pulling the trigger. You initially choose one of four powers so that you can run really fast, go invisible, create a ghostly decoy, or enhance weapon damage. From there, the power grid expands, allowing you to earn and improve lots of passive perks, though you can equip only as many perks as your loadout allows, and eventually you can unlock the other powers to play around with.

These skills are called EGO powers, named after the Environmental Guardian Online artificial intelligence fused with your body. This AI is Defiance’s version of Halo’s Cortana, though EGO makes a far more annoying companion than Cortana, what with the sharp treble of her voice and the repetitious line readings that don’t necessarily make sense in every context. (Do hellbugs really call in reinforcements, as if they have tiny radios strapped to their heads?) But you’ll be glad of the abilities she grants you, which aren’t very thrilling to activate or watch, but are nonetheless useful in battle. Need to shake off a flame-spewing munchkin? Distract him with your decoy, and shoot the fuel supply strapped to his back. In over your head? Turn invisible and make a quick getaway.

It isn’t the powers that make for rewarding progression in Defiance, however; it’s the weapons. There is a cornucopia of choices, and once you get a taste of each gun type, you’ll be pleased that your inventory is constantly filling with so many deadly possibilities. Simple pistols and machine guns are soon upgraded with modifications you purchase and earn, or are replaced with similar weapons infused with effects like fire and poison. Launchers come in all sorts of varieties. You might be able to lock on to your target, or perhaps your payload explodes in midair and spews fire onto your enemies beneath. Infectors cause bugs to spawn within your victims and eat away at their flesh; biomagnetic guns allow you to siphon health from foes and grant it to friends.

Virtual Grant Bowler is not as charming as Real-Life Grant Bowler.

Virtual Grant Bowler is not as charming as Real-Life Grant Bowler.

And so your drive to continue playing is fueled by the ever-present possibility of a new gun, a new variant, or a modification that enhances the bond to your current weapon of choice. That bond is then broken when a shiny new toy makes the old, newly obsolete weapon a relic of the past, though weapons remain surprisingly effective for some time. In fact, the gap in weapon effectiveness that you usually feel in a persistent-world game as you level up isn’t so pronounced in Defiance, due in part to how well enemies scale based on how many players are in the vicinity.

The gentle progression curve allows developer Trion Worlds to take you on a tour of its world without dividing it into territories that cater to players of specific levels. Reaching one end of the county doesn’t mean having to fight your way to some arbitrary level limit, which makes Defiance feel more freeing than other online worlds, even though it doesn’t cover the exhaustive amounts of real estate other games do. That isn’t to say that Defiance doesn’t feel appropriately large, or doesn’t give you a lot to do; the world map is dotted with orange waypoints that lure you to vehicular speed challenges and side missions, and white waypoints that indicate vendors promising special guns for sale.

Defiance is the B movie of massively multiplayer games: rickety and unrefined, yet a good time all the same.

By Kevin VanOrd

Former Witcher Producer Making Next-Gen RPG Lords of the Fallen

The executive producer of the first two Witcher games is developing a new RPG for PC and next-gen consoles that he claims is a mix of Dark Souls and Borderlands.

In an interview with Eurogamer, Tomasz Gop explained that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 developer City Interactive will publish Lords of the Fallen, but most of the development is being done by German studio Deck 13, which has been working on the game for two years already.

I would say Dark Souls, I would say Borderlands in terms of the experience of developing your character.

“It’s a challenging game, action RPG, which means a lot of advanced combat,” Gop explained. “When you walk through a location, and you have to fight 10 enemies, that takes around an hour.

“When you fight in Mortal Kombat, when you fight in Tekken, that’s why it takes so long – Dark Souls is probably a strong reference as well. But we’ve done a lot of things differently. For example, we have a skill tree. I would call Borderlands here, because we’re gonna have something like action skills in the game, so classes, stuff like this.

“I would say Dark Souls, I would say Borderlands in terms of the experience of developing your character.”

Gop confirmed that the game was in development for PC, PS4 and Microsoft’s unannounced next Xbox, revealing that creating the world on the PS4 was proving to be a pleasant surprise. He did suggest, however, that the next Xbox wouldn’t be as much of a game-changer as some people think.

“I can’t talk too much about the next-gen Xbox,” he explained, “but I don’t think a lot of people [are] going to be surprised. I don’t think it’s going to be huge news what’s inside, no – seriously.”

Luke Karmali is IGN’s UK Junior Editor. You too can revel in mediocrity by following him on IGN and on Twitter.

By Luke Karmali

Mark IV Style, Mr. Falcon.

Through my scope, I watch a neon-lit dinosaur shoot laser beams from its face in a fierce battle with evil robots. When it’s done roasting our mutual enemies, I blow the beast up with sniper-rockets. Suddenly, there’s a 16-bit style sex montage. Nobody in their right mind would create something as wonderfully absurd as Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – so I’m glad someone in charge at Ubisoft is at least a little nuts.

Don’t go in expecting a traditional Far Cry game. Blood Dragon is philosophically, tonally, and mechanically the fundamental opposite of its straight-faced predecessors. It’s like entering the imagination of a nine-year-old boy. Or my mind at age 25, honestly: These are action figures and super-powers come to life for an action-packed six-hours of open-world first-person shooting.

The hero, cyborg commando Rex Power Colt, has no limits. He doesn’t get tired from running at inhuman speeds, he doesn’t need air to breathe, he can survive any fall, and he rattles off more one-liners than a Paul Verhoeven anthology – all to the tune of a groovy synth soundtrack. Knowingly awful writing, rich with eye-rolling puns and delightfully inappropriate profanity, is a reminder that the dopey dialogue of ‘80s action movies is still a special sort of hilarious. These silly mission objectives, which reference everything from Die Hard and D20s to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Aliens, are a rare delight in first-person shooters.

It isn’t able to keep the A-material jokes coming the whole time, though. Certain gags get reused more often than would be ideal, which can stall the comedic momentum. But what occasionally brings Blood Dragon’s pace to a halt most is its cutscenes – the 16-bit story scenes have a habit of overstaying their welcome.

This gun? Pretty good.

…Die Hard, D20s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Aliens.


Of course, things get back on track the moment the action begins again, because this overpowered badass is so entertaining to play. Rex starts out so strong, in fact, that his upgrade tree (a linear, simplified version of Far Cry 3′s) isn’t terribly rewarding. Earned XP unlocks different melee takedowns, but you’re very well equipped from the start. Instead of meaningful progression, Rex’s guns and their upgrades define his style. An exaggerated sense of empowerment comes with carrying more grenades than is reasonable, laser machine-guns, quad-barrel shotguns with flaming shells, and some seriously devastating, hysterical tools you couldn’t pay me to spoil.

It’s the blood dragons themselves, however, that create the most memorable and comical moments. The laser-breathing reptiles are easily baited into attacking enemy outposts. On the default difficulty, letting a dragon do your dirty work for you makes combat far too easy for experienced players. When the difficulty gets cranked up to hard, it’s an essential and rewarding tool.

What’s missing from Blood Dragon is something for Far Cry 3′s stealthier players. The trademark bow returns, so you can still kill without sounding the alarm, but nothing has been added to change or improve the silent gameplay in the same way the guns-blazing approach has been supercharged.

That exaggerated absurdity of the action is what Blood Dragon is all about, though, and is more than entertaining enough to make it a great experience. Players without an established love for Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Carpenter, arcades, CRTs, and VHS tapes might miss the point of what Blood Dragon’s going for, but even they can appreciate the wacky sandbox world just waiting for mayhem. Although there’s less room for freeform play styles in the linear missions, the open world has plenty to discover, and presents plenty of exciting enemy encounters — even if you’ve already mastered Far Cry 3’s enemy behavior.

The Verdict

Blood Dragon’s playful focus on humor, nostalgia, and self-aware absurdity allows it to delve into a subject far more important than African arms races or tropical sociopaths: Video games are really, really fun. This comical, explosive shooter takes everything that makes Far Cry 3′s gunplay great and dresses it in the kind of wit and over-the-top fun that Duke Nukem Forever is so desperately missing. Blood Dragon is a different beast – and it’s something you shouldn’t miss.

By Mitch Dyer

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Director Has a Sequel in Mind

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon image

The warm welcome for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon means we may not have seen the last of Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt.

The first hint of a potential follow-up has come via Colt’s voice actor, ’80s action legend Michael Biehn (Aliens, The Terminator).

“[Creative director Dean Evans] was with me on the phone last night. He was pretty jacked up,” said Biehn, speaking to Major Nelson Radio.

“He was going into a meeting today to, you know, I think he wants to turn it into some sort of franchise. He’s got a sequel in mind.”

Biehn, who concedes he’s not much of a gamer personally, sounds pretty amazed by the fan response to Blood Dragon to date.

“I did an Aliens game last year that just, kind of, nobody really talked about it very much and I never really heard too much about it,” he said. “I heard when it came out. Nobody ever came up to me afterwards and said, ‘Oh, that Aliens game was really good’ or whatever.”

“I’m telling you, I have more people approaching me now on the streets about this video game. Way more than they do now about, like, ‘Oh, weren’t you the guy that was in The Terminator?’ Or ‘Weren’t you the guy that was in The Victim?’ Or ‘Weren’t you the guy that was in Tombstone?’”

Biehn estimates that he’s had around 100 people approach him and ask about the game in just the last two weeks.

“I want to go out right now, actually, and I wanna go buy a system to play the game on, and I want to buy the game, and I want to learn how to play it,” he said. “There’s something about this game, and I don’t know what it is, but it has people, young people, really excited.”

You can read Mitch’s thoughts on Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon here, and you can hear the complete interview on Major Nelson Radio here.

Luke is Games Editor at IGN AU. You can find him on IGN here or on Twitter @MrLukeReilly, or chat with him and the rest of the Australian team by joining the IGN Australia Facebook community.

By Luke Reilly

Dead Space 3 Review

Dead Space 3 carries the series’ standard admirably, thanks to deep weapon crafting and a wealth of exploratory possibilities.

The Good

  • Excellent weapon crafting system adds flexibility to combat
  • Outstanding sense of atmosphere
  • Great amount of environmental variety
  • Co-op makes for a fun alternate approach to the campaign.

The Bad

  • Convoluted story
  • Some gameplay sequences fall flat.

Dead Space 3 doesn’t want to take sides in the debate over what constitutes a true survival horror game. It would rather leave the choice up to you. This is a game rife with options and flexibility, building on the strengths of the franchise with clever new ideas that let you tailor the experience to your liking. It hits a few sour notes in its story and struggles at times when it steps away from the core combat, but Dead Space 3 is a thrilling and worthwhile sequel.

Reintroducing Isaac Clarke: the world’s unluckiest engineer.

  • Comment on this video
  • Watch this video in High Def

Dead Space 3′s story follows closely in the footsteps of its predecessors. That is to say, it’s nearly incomprehensible. Isaac Clarke, now caught in a confusing love triangle, has been sent off to the frozen ice planet of Tau Volantis, believed to be the marker homeworld. You remember every last scattered detail having to do with markers and their sundry effects on humanity, right? If not, you’re out of luck: aside from a brief “previously on Dead Space” video buried in an extras menu, the game makes precious little effort to explain anything of remote importance. It’s an issue compounded by a dearth of interesting characters, and this ultimately makes it difficult to feel attached to anything that occurs in the haphazard, quickly moving narrative.

But no matter: while Isaac’s latest journey may not unfurl with the deftest of storytelling, it fully succeeds in ushering you from one incredible locale to the next. Whether floating in the starry abyss amid the vast wreckage of destroyed spacecraft or attempting to stay alive in a suffocating blizzard, Dead Space 3 keeps you on your toes with one expertly crafted environment after the other.

The game’s opening chapters tend to favor loud and boisterous set pieces, but once you start digging deeper into the frozen hellscape that is Tau Volantis, a feeling of subdued terror gradually builds. Where atmospherics are concerned, developer Visceral is once again at the top of its game. Interior spaces are a terrifying stage show of light and shadows, and even some of the planetside vistas are capable of making a glowing sunset look deeply unsettling. Just as creepy is the game’s sound design, which marries subtle audio effects with a restrained score to further build the tension.

Whether you're stuck in a dark hallway or floating in space, Dead Space 3 looks fantastic.

Whether you’re stuck in a dark hallway or floating in space, Dead Space 3 looks fantastic.

Yet Dead Space 3 doesn’t simply mimic what the series has already done well. With its introduction of a robust weapon crafting system, it takes a significant step forward in terms of depth and flexibility. Every classic weapon, from the plasma cutter to the ripper, has been broken down to its basic components, spare parts you can cobble together at a workbench to create the most surgical or bombastic weapon you can conceive. Scavenging for parts often feels like collecting loot in Diablo: a virtually endless stream of rewards you’re constantly picking up from lockers and fallen enemies.

You start with a basic frame and then slot in tools that determine the primary and alternate fire–say, a plasma cutter coupled with a flamethrower, or a telemetry spike augmented with an underslung grenade launcher. You then add attachments that can further modify the weapon fire–goodbye vanilla grenades, hello acid grenades–and finally, plug in upgrade circuits to modify basic stats such as rate of fire and reload time. The only thing more staggering than the number of modular parts is the number of theoretical combinations. All of this weapon crafting takes a little while to fully comprehend, but this new feature adds a deeply satisfying amount of depth and strategy to the game’s core combat.

This is primarily due to the fact that your creations are never set in stone. You’re always combining new parts to meet the demands of the game’s increasingly terrifying onslaught of necromorphs, a mutated collection of zombified somethings operating in collusion to ensure you never get too comfortable behind your current weapon of choice.

There are only a few boss fights in Dead Space 3, but they're quite fun.

There are only a few boss fights in Dead Space 3, but they’re quite fun.

As in previous titles, Dead Space 3′s combat is a methodical take on the third-person shooter that encourages aiming at the limbs of necromorphs as the most effective means of taking them down. But that roster of enemies is a wildly varied bunch, and their mutations require different approaches to combat. The basic plasma cutter works well early on against slashers and wasters, humanoid enemies who simply charge at you upon sight. But you need to modify your approach as the game mixes in different types of foes, like the chaotic swarms of feeders, those weak but agile necromorphs who attack you in massive numbers. For these, slotting in a powerful melee attachment like the hydraulic engine works well by smashing them down in wide, sweeping arcs of devastation. But later, you encounter immensely powerful foes like the snow beast, a four-legged necromorph roughly the size of a truck. This is when being able to slap a secondary grenade launcher onto your primary weapon suddenly comes in very handy.

Dead Space 3 carries the series’ standard admirably, thanks to deep weapon crafting and a wealth of exploratory possibilities.

By Shaun McInnis

How Grand Theft Auto 5 Moves The Series Forward

GTA 5 image

In both Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto 4 – and Vice City and San Andreas before them – Rockstar channels its ambition into two areas that sometimes feel like they’re conflicting with each other: firstly, the open-world freedom of its gameplay, and secondly the cinematic impact of its story and characters.  In Grand Theft Auto 5, the developer is shooting for a new plateau with both. Story-wise, we’ve moved on from a single character and will now be following a trio of protagonists, bringing the game closer to an HBO drama than a film in terms of narrative scope. The world, too, looks more open, detailed and reactive than before, both within the cities and out in the countryside.

Watching the latest Grand Theft Auto 5 demo, I was blown away by that world. Much as I loved Liberty City, in retrospect I mostly loved looking at it; I could never forget that I could only actually enter about 1 in 500 of its gleaming buildings. As Franklin parachuted over the mountains of GTA 5’s Blaine County, I could see deer stopping for a drink by a river, hikers making their way up a dusty trail, a group of guys on a fishing trip, some ATVs racing up a mountainside… it was very much alive and inviting in a way that previous GTA games haven’t been, for me. It felt like you could go anywhere and find something to do.

This is best exemplified by the incredible attention to detail when you go underwater. When Trevor threw on some SCUBA gear and hopped off the side of a boat, I was expecting the usual sparse underwater trench with a few floating bits of seaweed – not circling sharks, deep underwater ridges, schools of fish, a barnacle-encrusted wreck and shafts of sunlight shimmering through the water. It’s properly explorable down there, assuming you aren’t crippled by a paralysing fear of sharks. You can literally dive for sunken treasure. This marks a huge step forward for Rockstar’s worlds.

The three-character structure potentially marks a huge step forward for Rockstar’s storytelling.

The three-character structure potentially marks a huge step forward for Rockstar’s storytelling, too. Right now Grand Theft Auto 5 reminds me of the Sopranos, and not just because it stars a rich and miserable gangster going through a mid-life crisis on his therapist’s couch. The Sopranos tackled the dissonance between a life of crime and love for your family, between the desire to escape the life of a gangster and the dark compulsions that pulled its characters towards it. Grand Theft Auto has attempted to tackle that before with Nico Bellic, but for a lot of people it wasn’t quite successful.

It was sometimes difficult to reconcile the difference between the character that you play, potentially blowing up gas stations and causing massive pile-ups for fun, and the Nico that you’re shown in cutscenes. If I’m a war veteran who’s sick of conflict and has come to America to try and find a better life, why am I running errands for petty gangsters? If I’m a good guy, deep down, then why am I killing so many people? I reconciled myself with Bellic by seeing him as a tragic figure – a guy who’s so defined by violence that he doesn’t know any other way of life, who’s come to America in search of better and finds that human nature, and his own nature, is the same everywhere he goes. He’s sucked back into crime because that’s all he knows.

Grand Theft Auto 5, by contrast, stars a hillbilly psychopath, a rich and miserable former gangster, and a guy ostensibly trying to make his way out of gang culture, who plan and carry out heists for fun. I can’t see there being as much ludonarrative dissonance with this cast of characters. But encouragingly, what we’ve seen of Michael’s dynamic with his family (who mostly seem to hate him, kind of like Tony Soprano’s) and Franklin’s background suggests that GTA 5 isn’t jettisoning the idea of saying something meaningful, either. All the things you might do in the game that could seem dissonant or contradictory in one single character make more sense when spread out across three.

All the things you might do that could seem contradictory in one single character make sense when spread out across three.

Individually, too, GTA 5’s characters offer different things. Few TV shows can sustain 50 hours of story by sticking with one character’s point of view; with three, Rockstar has the flexibility to move between them to pace the both story and the gameplay. Seeing Michael beat up a bunch of gang members with a baseball bat might not gel too well with the reformed-gangster-trying-to-be-good that we see in his cutscenes, but Trevor after a few too many whiskies? I can definitely imagine that.

You can see already that Grand Theft Auto 5 really is aiming higher than Rockstar ever has with both its world and its storytelling, and it’s seeing these two things working in tandem in this demo that makes me properly excited about the game. So often in video games you have to choose between them: you can have a narratively excellent game that doesn’t leave you much room to shape it with your own actions and explore beyond its linear confines, or you can have an open-world game with reams of gameplay ambition but little definition around its story or characters. But Grand Theft Auto 5’s world looks astoundingly rich, and its three-character structure could solve a lot of the narrative problems that video games often rub up against. If it gets both of them right, it will be a landmark achievement.

Keza MacDonald is in charge of IGN’s games coverage in the UK. You can follow her on IGN and Twitter.

By Keza MacDonald

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen Review

Dark Arisen adds some great new content to the excellent Dragon’s Dogma, though the new dungeon’s unbalanced difficulty turns fun into frustration.

The Good

  • Bitterblack Isle features lots of great battles with fearsome foes
  • Ominous atmosphere and pensive story enhance tension on the isle
  • Eternal ferrystone eases the burdens of long journeys
  • The main game remains a special thrill.

The Bad

  • The grueling final third of the new dungeon lacks any sense of balance or fun
  • Pawns require more babysitting than ever.

On Bitterblack Isle, there’s always something nasty lurking in the darkness. Perhaps it’s a ferocious wolf that snarls and charges, forcing you to run to safety or block its substantial weight. Maybe it’s a two-story-tall ogre, once restrained by impossibly strong chains, now on the loose and hungry for entrails. Or it might be the chilly grasp of death itself, the grim reaper floating menacingly toward you and threatening eternal sleep.

You don’t have to latch on to this undead freak if you don’t want to, but it’s fun all the same.

  • Comment on this video
  • Watch this video in High Def

This island dungeon harbors many fears, and is the main new attraction in Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, a rerelease of one of 2012′s best role-playing games, with new content added to tempt the faithful back to the city of Gran Soren and beyond. Strangely, Bitterblack Isle isn’t available to you any other way, though it would seem to be a prime candidate for release as a downloadable add-on. In any case, if you’re a Dragon’s Dogma veteran, seeing this new content means buying a new version of the game for $40, though the extensive dungeon is no small morsel, which makes it an intriguing proposition for returning adventurers. What a pity, then, that much of the new content gets in its own way, sometimes making it difficult to enjoy the story’s hushed mystery and the undeniable thrills of felling a gargantuan winged cockatrice.

If you’re new to Dragon’s Dogma, however, be prepared for a journey unlike any other. The core game is a flawed beauty, an almost-classic that merges the open-air qualities of Western role-playing games with the harsh delights and frustrations of Capcom’s own Monster Hunter series. The setting is the fantasy land of Gransys, which is flush with soft greens, browns, and grays; it’s a weary place, burdened by the colossal creatures that roam its plains. Dragon’s Dogma looks initially bland, but the soft consistent hues allow ornate towers to cut a powerful silhouette against the swaying trees. An additional disc allows you to install higher-resolution textures to your hard drive (as well as an optional Japanese voice track), which makes Gransys look sharper than before, though not dramatically so.

Of course there are dragons! It's right there in the name.

Of course there are dragons! It’s right there in the name.

As described in the original review, Dragon’s Dogma comes with its fair share of frustrations, though the wonders overshadow the weaknesses. Most of the standout moments come by way of astounding encounters with cyclopes, griffons, chimeras, and the like, with many such monstrosities looking like various creature parts were grafted together to create fearsome, never-before-seen breeds. If you choose a melee-combat class, you can leap onto these roaring beasts and climb all over them if you desire, stabbing them in the head until they throw you to the ground in a fit of disgust. Or you might summon an icy eruption and fling your foe toward the heavens, if magic is more your style.

Whichever path you follow, these battles are a constant thrill, with monsters rearing up and flailing about as you might imagine they should, presuming you have ever imagined what the progeny of a wolf and a jumbo chicken would look like. You’re joined in these endeavors by three helpers–pawns, as they’re called–that express unreserved wonder at their surroundings when not setting goblins on fire. “Perhaps we’ll find aught of use,” one might say as you scavenge for curatives–and a bunch of other times, too. “Attack when it reels!” another calls out in the midst of battle, reminding you of what you already knew. Having the company of pawns is like babysitting curious children, though like curious children, they often do what they wish, even when it isn’t the wisest option. They have a way of getting trampled by ogres even when they acknowledge aloud that it’s best to attack from behind, and if they’re in the midst of casting spells, they probably won’t respond to your manual command to regroup.

Brace yourself: it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Brace yourself: it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

Dark Arisen’s new area, Bitterblack Isle, offers many of the main game’s same delights, but it also tips the scales too far toward the “frustrating” end, especially in the final third of your sojourn. You reach Bitterblack Isle by speaking to a shimmering maiden who appears on the docks at Cassardis at nightfall. Her name is Olra, and she is still piecing together her memories of how she came to the dark, dreary island she transports you to. As you make your way through the dungeon’s dank passages, a melancholy tale of love and loss forms, related by the groans of an unseen visitor and the etchings that you piece together on a monolithic memorial.

The cheerlessness carries over into exploration. Bitterblack Isle’s biggest battles occur in spacious arenas and gardens, though much of the time, you are trudging through narrow corridors, holding your breath lest some flaming lizard reveal itself. Developer Capcom recommends that you be at least level 50 when you enter, and for the first two stages of the dungeon, that seems about right. There are moments that have you uttering profanities during these hours, though, such as at the first appearance of your pursuer, Death, who sometimes appears in a brief, terrifying moment of near-blackness. This dark lord is likely to mercilessly annihilate you along with any pawns nearby before you realize you’re meant to do scant amounts of damage, then run before you succumb to his will.

Dark Arisen adds some great new content to the excellent Dragon’s Dogma, though the new dungeon’s unbalanced difficulty turns fun into frustration.

By Kevin VanOrd

You Know You’re Playing An ’80s Game When…

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon image

The release of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has given us cause to revisit the 1980s, a decade in which childhood summers seemed to last for months, SodaStream tasted better than Coca-Cola because you put the bubbles in it yourself and completing your Panini sticker album required endless rounds of swapsies with your friends. There were also a host of telltale video game conventions to be observed – some we miss, others not so much.

…You Can Save The World With Just A Couple Of Buttons

Game controllers were once exemplary pieces of minimalist design. You could save a princess, master a sport, defend the Earth and help a frog to cross the road with no more than a button or two. The skill was in how you played the game not whether you could contort your fingers and your mind around an assortment of bumpers, knobs and gyroscopic nonsense. Individually, the buttons did something cool, while pressing them both at the same time was guaranteed awesome.

Ahh, a simpler time.

…You’re Spending Your Time Playing, Not Watching Cutscenes

Once upon a time you could learn everything you needed to know about your character’s background and motivations by reading the back of the game box. Developers didn’t feel the need to prefix their game with 10+ minutes of poorly scripted, non-interactive exposition. You jumped right-in and got on with the serious business of delivering those papers, killing those aliens and Shinobi-ing-up the place.

…The Box Art Is Terrible

’80s video games had a lot going for them but the packaging was not was not one of their strong points. Haughty exclamations of “State-of-the-Art High Resolution Graphics” and hopeful tag-lines promising “All the Arcade Action” were accompanied by bandana-wearing macho men or a picture of a lone plane or helicopter. Arguably the worst offender was SEGA, with its blue and white graph-paper-style Master System boxes that looked as though a school child had become bored and doodled in their exercise book.

Anyone fancy a round? Anyone… (Credit: The Old Computer)

…Part Of The Fun Is Whether The Game Will Load

A legitimate part of the fun of the cassette tape games of the ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64 was A) betting Pick ‘n’ Mix sweets with your friends over how high the tape-counter would get before the game loaded and B) deciding how long to leave it before acknowledging that the game had crashed. It was a popular parental axiom of the era that if you wanted to teach your child the value of anticipation over instant gratification you buy them a cassette tape personal computer. True story.

…You Pay One Price and Get A Whole Game

The internet has brought us many wonderful innovations and means we now seldom have to venture outside for entertainment, gratification or information unless we really want to. Unfortunately, it has also opened the door to the nefarious notion of selling our games to us piecemeal in the form of shoddily packaged downloadable content. There was a time when all the horse armour, pretty outfits and playable characters you could ever want came included on the cartridge to be unlocked via dedicated play or quick-fix cheat codes.

…The Amusement Arcade Is THE FUTURE

The best thing about family holidays was wandering into an amusement arcade with pockets full of change and eyes full of wonder. Arcades offered a shady retreat from the midday sun filled with a cacophony of electronic noise and myriad brightly lit screens, all vying for your attention. Some let you pilot an X-wing and take down the Death Star while the likes of Gauntlet allowed a staggering total of four players to team-up to raid dungeons – “Wizard shot the food!” Stupid wizard.

…You Win Or You Lose, There Is No Save

Quick Save, Auto Save, Save and Quit: it’s little wonder that kids’ attention spans are getting shorter. Arranging falling blocks and gobbling-up dots was once considered serious enough business that it couldn’t be postponed just because you had to visit the grandparents or go to bed. You sat and played for hours-on-end until you either saved the world or you didn’t. Now, games bleat at us every 15 minutes to “take a break and go outside” but in the 1980s you had to pry a kid’s Power Glove out of their sweaty little hands to get them to stop.

…It Makes Sense That Your Character Doesn’t Speak

When games were the size of modern-day email attachments it made sense that none of the characters spoke actual audible words. Truth be told we didn’t need them to; we read the back of the box, we read the manual and we read the words on the screen. Now we have a strange mismatch of Hollywood stars rattling through pages of dialogue while your character remains mute throughout. Link must’ve really seen some terrible things to still be struck dumb after all these years.

…The Game Goes On Forever (Kind Of)

If you measure value for money in terms of hours of gameplay then the games of the ’80s could be considered the cream of the crop. Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Tetris: all were games that could theoretically last forever as they had no programmed end and, mercifully, no final boss. Unfortunately, a range of issues that often involved internal counters and messy 8-bit integer overflows frequently meant that the game came crashing to an end anyway, unceremoniously ending that hard-fought high-score run.

…The Tutorial Consists Of Reading The Manual

Want to know how to play the game you just spent all your pocket money on? Read The Flippin’ Manual! Unsure how to use that cool new power-up? Read The Frakking Manual! Can’t work out why Little Mac keeps getting knocked on his ass by Mike Tyson? READ THE F****** MANUAL! This method worked just fine for all of us until someone decided that we were all too stupid to read the manual and that the start of every game should be given over to a lengthy tutorial. It was probably the same person who thought cut scenes were a good idea.

If that’s got you feeling nostalgic for a bygone, neon-tinged time, check out our feature You Know You’re Watching an ’80s Movie When.

Stace Harman is a freelance contributor to IGN and is convinced that zombies will one day inherent the Earth. You can follow him on Twitter.

By Stace Harman

1 2 62