My body (and controller) is ready for the Xbox One

Just a few days until the release of Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox is released, so I’ve done the natural thing and purchased a controller for the console 5 days before I can actually play it.  It’ll look good on the entertainment stand until the Xbox One’s sitting comfortably under my television.

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Classic KI being bundled with Killer Instinct Ultra Edition

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The upcoming reboot of Rare’s classic Killer Instinct will be available this Friday with Microsoft offering players two solid reasons to buy the Ultra Edition instead of just taking the free demo ride: Classic KI.  The launch title will be available for free to all Xbox One gamers with only one fighter: Jago.  Players interested in getting the original arcade game will have to drop $40 on the Ultra Edition as Microsoft has stated that there is no plan to release it separately.  As stated above, there will be two renditions of the arcade release with this bundle–the original release as well as the 1.5D ROM revision.  Gamers interested in getting the Ultra Pin Edition for $60 exclusively from the Microsoft Store will also be gifted these two KI ROMS.  For players new to the franchise (or weathered vets who haven’t played in nearly 2 decades – such as myself), there will be a training mode included with these classic re-releases.

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Killer Instinct is developed by Double Helix, published by Microsoft Studios and releases this Friday alongside the Xbox One.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 trailer is live

The second season of Telltale’s award winning The Walking Dead is coming to consoles, PC, and mobile soon and to drum up some excitement for what is sure to be a heavily emotional experience, they’ve released this brief teaser.  The first season was easily some of the finest adventure gaming I’ve ever experienced with some incredibly heavy moments (the season finale was just brutal), so I’m really looking forward to what this next season has to offer.

Ascend: Hand of Kul in open beta today

While the game has been in closed beta for some time now, there had never been any specifics as to when Ascend would see a full release. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that time had come. Available now as an “open beta,” Ascend: Hand of Kul is essentially fully available to gamers on Xbox 360 courtesy of Signal Studios and Microsoft Studios. While billed as an open beta, gamers have access to the entire world and story of Ascend as well as the game’s achievements. I just suspect we’ll be seeing more fine tuning and updates than a standard game release for a while. Stay tuned for a full review.

Feast your eyes on the new The Evil Within trailer

Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is bringing a new vision of survival horror to consoles and Windows PC next year.  From the trailer below, it looks like it’s shaping up nicely.  In a disgusting and terrifying sort of niceness.

Diablo III console edition impressions

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I can’t really label this a review since I haven’t completed the game yet and don’t really have a fully formulated opinion of it.  But, I have spent several hours with the console release (specifically the Xbox 360 version) of Diablo III and have some thoughts I’d like to put down on digital paper.  The game is over a year old on PCs now and so it doesn’t really warrant a review in that sense.  It’s Diablo – the king of dungeon crawlers.  It’s awesome.  Yada yada.  But how does it play on consoles?

Pretty great, actually.  Honestly, for several years now I’ve been favoring console dungeon crawlers over their PC counterparts.  There’s not always a whole lot of ports, but since the days of the Dreamcast, I’ve been doing most of my killing and looting with a controller in hand.  This isn’t to spark a PC vs. Consoles debate, this is just my preference (and you’d damn well better respect my preference).  PC gamers tend to have a bit of apprehension when it comes to ports of their beloved mouse and keyboard exclusives.  Sometimes they’re right to be worried (typically, real-time strategy games (RTS) don’t translate well to console controls), but sometimes their apprehension is unfounded.  Thankfully that’s the case with Diablo III.

diablo-3-demon-hunter-02Personally, I wasn’t worried about the transition.  I had enjoyed Torchlight immensely in its console release (and sincerely hope that its sequel gets some new life on consoles) and knew that Bilzzard was more than capable of delivering a high-quality port.  They did, too.

I think the biggest selling point for me on the console version is the couch co-op.  I can be old school at times and so I’d much rather be playing a game with my friends in the same room as me than as disembodied voices over the internet.  It’s a much more enjoyable experience.  That being said, killing, questing, and looting is so much more rewarding to me when I can sit back on the couch and maybe throw back a couple of drinks with my pals while making clever or not-so-clever quips.  It’s great to have that social interaction mixed in with my favorite hobby.  It also helps that the translation to consoles didn’t affect the fun factor of Diablo.

It would be insulting to say that there’s not much to the game on PC, but in playing games like Diablo it has a missing sense of control.  With playing the game with a controller in hand, I feel much more like I’m playing a game.  My character moves where I’m leading him and reacts to my every move – I’m not just telling him what to do and he follows my commands; I’m given a much greater sense of control.  That is what I like about playing Diablo III on my console.  Does the console version have its drawbacks?  Sure.  It’s not perfect, but it offers to me as a gamer more of what I’m looking for in a game than the PC version does.

The biggest disappointment I have with Diablo III is less of something the game did wrong and more of a hugely missed opportunity.  Couch co-op is great.  I love sitting with my pals and playing this game on the same screen.  However, sharing the screen during inventory management sessions sucks.  Only one player at a time can view his or her inventory or have any interactions with merchants.  This breaks the flow of the game and results in several sessions of checking facebook or playing games on your phone while you wait for your pals to finish up their shopping, crafting, and customizing.  This is something that could have been easily remedied with SmartGlass.  Let’s say that you’ve got 3 friends over and you’re all looking to score some epic loot.  Well, while Johnny McSlowshopper is browsing the shops, you can connect with SmartGlass and interact with a shop keep or examine and manage your inventory on your phone while the television is occupied with someone else’s menu.  This would have been a great solution in keeping the game moving at all times rather than making every trip to town a 20+ minute ordeal because you have to take turns managing your inventory.  With that said, it’s a relatively minor complaint.  It’s not a broken gameplay mechanic or a fatal flaw in the game, it’s just a painfully missed opportunity.

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Diablo III on the console is a blast.  It’s pretty much everything you can expect from a Diablo game while giving you a little bit more joy with couch co-op.  It’s a welcome addition to my gaming library and I’m sure I’m going to sink many, many hours into its loot-filled world.

 

Diablo III is currently available on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.  A PS4 release is planned and in development.

Fable Anniversary pushed to February 2014

Fable fans waiting for the HD remake of what is arguably the best game in the series are going to have to wait a little bit longer. Lionhead by way of Ted Timmins has stated that the studio needs a bit more time to provide the best Fable experience for fans. He even hinted at some “top secret announcements” for the game. So, it’s entirely possible that Lionhead is working on some new content for the decade old action RPG.

Xbox Music now on Android and iOS

Microsoft’s rebranding of Zune services, Xbox Music, has now found its way to competing mobile devices. The service allows music streaming similar to online radio providers, but a subscription to the service enables unlimited music downloads as well as access to full albums. The service is live on iOS and Android now through the App Store and Google Play respectively. A subscription to Xbox Music is $9.99/month or $99.99/year.

Ryse: Son of Rome Gamescom trailer

Xbox One is not that far away now.  And, since it is not that far away, Microsoft needs to drum up a little more interest in the system.  What better way than to show off some new footage from the absolutely gorgeous launch title Ryse: Son of Rome?  There is no better way.

The trailer starts off with a pre-rendered segment before showing off gameplay in Gladiator Mode.  It’s violent, it’s bloody, and it’s beautiful.  I noticed some neat new things with the finishers.  It appears now that button prompts are gone (which is great) and are replaced with colored outlines.  I could be wrong in this assumption, but I’m fairly certain that the colored outlines indicate what button to press.  Instead of an obtrusive button prompt on your screen, a slick colorful outline will help keep you immersed.  You’ll see in the trailer yellow and blue outlines which seem to indicate Y and X button presses.

Anyway, the game’s looking better now than it did at E3 with more depth than a simple quick time button masher.  Take a look for yourself.

The Wolf Among Us trailer

Telltale’s upcoming adventure series The Wolf Among Us, based on DC Comic’s Fables series, has its debut trailer.  The developer is most recently known for its fantastic interpretation of The Walking Dead and before that reviving the Sam & Max and Monkey Island properties.  The Wolf Among Us will be available on PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PS3 in quarter three of this year.