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Street Fighter X Tekken Review

Monday, March 26, 2012 | 32comments

In 2005, Namco published a game called Namco X Capcom, which featured characters from Street Fighter, Tekken, and various other games from the two developers. Fighting game fans were thrilled when news of the game was first leaked, but were quickly disappointed to find out it was a tactical role playing game rather than a fighting game.

Though news of a potential crossover fighting game had been hinted at every so often thereafter, it wasn’t until 7 years later that this dream would finally come to fruition; however, initial screens, gameplay, and announcements of Street Fighter X Tekken were met with a lukewarm response, with players questioning what it seemed to share with Street Fighter 4 as well as the viability of the new Gem system. After much tweaking and adjusting, the game is finished, but, does it live up to the hype?

At A Glance

Though the game looks similar to Street Fighter 4 from the get-go, players will realize that this game is much different after just a few matches. Street Fighter X Tekken borrows the tag-team feature from the Tekken Tag series, allowing you to choose 2 characters to play as interchangeably during the fight. The round ends if just one character’s life is depleted, making vitality management a big factor. The tag system is complemented by several new features including Switch Cancels (canceling an attack with a tag midway, allowing a character’s partner to continue a combo), Cross Arts (a powerful attack delivered by both characters that uses all Cross Gauge), Quick Combos (combos designed to help novice players perform complicated attack sequences), and Pandora Mode (a comeback mechanic in which a partner is sacrificed for an increase in damage).

Borrowed from Street Fighter 4 are EX Special Moves and Super Combos (called Super Arts here), both of which deplete your super meter (called Cross Gauge). Gone are Focus Attacks and Ultra Combos. The game also has several modes including the familiar Trial and Tutorial modes as well as the new Scramble Battle mode, where all 4 characters battle onscreen simultaneously in total bedlam.

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Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | 16comments

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City delivers a true third person team based shooter experience set within the dark and sinister Resident Evil universe and a reinterpretation of the events depicted in Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. Zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W's) add to the mix as players not only compete against an opposing squad but also tackle this third unpredictable element, creating a brand new style of gameplay and breaking the conventions of traditional team based shooters.

It is September 1998 and the action centers once more on the ill-fated Raccoon City and the horrific consequences of the deadly T-virus outbreak from the Umbrella facility. With a cover up required, Umbrella orders an elite team into Raccoon City to destroy all evidence of the outbreak and eliminate any survivors. Hearing of this plan, the US Government dispatches its own special forces to uncover any evidence that exposes the cause of the viral infection and Umbrella's actions. Players take on the role of an Umbrella Security Services soldier (U.S.S.), competing alone or in four player co-op in a battle against all the competing forces at play in Raccoon City.

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Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations review

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Posted by: Mike Splechta

I've always been a fan of the CyberConnect2's Naruto Storm games. Not only were they the first game to truly nail not only the anime aesthetics, they were also the first to offer completely simplistic yet exhilarating combat, that delivered on the promise to make it feel like you're playing the anime series. The latest venture, dubbed Generations, gives fans not only a crash course into the original Naruto storyline, but the more grown up Shippuden storyline as well. Does this mash-up of generations make this the ultimate Naruto game?

Yes and no. Generations is an odd end-result of a line of games that were both extremely fun and informative (when recapping the story) and completely approachable by anyone willing to pick up a controller and take a stab at it. Ultimate Jutsu's were only a button press away, stylish air dashes and substitutions were pulled off with ease, and each and every battle was a spectacle to watch. The first two games also had a nice sense of exploration and had players venturing through Hidden Leaf Village in Storm, and even surrounding areas in Storm 2. So where does Generations stand in all of this?

Right in the middle.

The combat is still as simplistic as ever. With one button, you can pull off incredible and fluid combos that will have your character kicking your opponents ass from one side of the arena to the next. There are absolutely no button input combinations a-la Street Fighter, instead, pressing the action button with various directions will yield different combos. It's a neat system that helps make the game feel more like the anime. A ranged button will throw shurikens and kunais at your enemies, and your Jutsu button will activate your aura to either execute a super move, or an ultimate move.

If you're at all used to any of the previous Storm games, chances are you'll feel right at home here, but rest assured there are a few tweaks. The biggest one is a substitution meter. In essence, previous games relied on a precise block button input, right as you're about to get hit. This will turn your character into a stump of wood, or whatever element they represent, and pop up immediately behind the attacking character. This was a great system which allowed for players stuck in combos, to quickly change the flow of combat and get an upper hand. The problem here was that this could be used over and over by both characters, resulting in a substitution duel, rather than an actual fight. The new substitution meter only gives a certain amount of substitutions each character can pull off, until it's replenished. It's a welcome addition that doesn't make that system feel cheap.

You can still select up to two support characters to take along to the fight with you, but you still can't switch to them mid-combat, instead you can call upon them to jump in and perform their offensive or defensive move. Call upon them enough and your Support Drive will fill up, meaning they'll jump in and help regardless of you pressing their button. Another sweet addition are the Ninja Info Cards. These can now be tied to your profile which not only personalize it, but each card grants a certain buff in game. These are especially useful when taking the fight online.

Where Generations differs greatly from it's predecessors is the presentation. I was excited to hear that both the original and the Shippuden storylines were being included in the game, as I was really hoping to play through them in a similar manner as Storm 2. I wanted to once again explore the lands that the world of Naruto takes place in, and once again experience the battles that made the series so heart pumping. Instead, the game decided to go completely back to basics. The story is now even more abridged, with a ton of key fights not even present in each story, but the exploration was completely taken out. Now, each story is essentially a short anime cutscene, and then a bunch of voiced over stills, followed by a short fight. Was I a bit disappointed? Definitely.

The exploration wasn't the only thing that was cut. Some of the key fights that don't appear in the game, were actually some of the most exhilarating ones from the previous games. Where is the fight with Naruto against Gaara, where Gaara unleashes his Jinchuuriki, and then Naruto is forced to fight the giant beast that resides within him. Or for that matter, I also miss the mid battle cutscenes that resulted in a few QTE instances, which always had some epic animations associated with it. Instead the game is completely stripped bare down to the essentials, which results in short fight after short fight, with some exposition thrown in between. With that said, the other characters you can play as in Story mode offer some truly great back stories that were not touched on previously in Naruto games, such as the tale of Zabuza and Haku.

I think what also bothers me the most about the game is that despite the minor tweaks to the fighting mechanics, I could almost not distinguish this game from it's two predecessors. Though there are 38 stages, a lot of them are exactly the same ones we've been seeing in the past games. It's tough to improve on something graphically that already looks so damn impressive, and this I understand, but at the same time, I shouldn't be feeling like I'm playing the same (or very similar) game I've played before. But then again, I can't even imagine how Call of Duty players feel like year after year. I said it.

Don't get me wrong however, Generations is still an extremely fun game. The fact that it's devoid of many of the features that I've grown to love in the series does not negate the fact that the fighting is still incredibly fun. There are still a ton of things I love about Generations. For one, the sheer amount of characters that you unlock (yes you heard right, unlock!) throughout the game are all fun to play as. Sure there are a few versions of Naruto and a few versions of Sasuke, not to mention young and older versions of his friends, but luckily each of these come with varied movesets, that don't resemble their counterparts. The total number of playable characters is a massive 72, along with 15 more characters that can only be used as support.

You can take the fight online like I mentioned previously but this experience is hit or miss, or at least it was in my attempts. When trying to set certain parameters for finding other people to play, I would usually time out, or by the time I was presented with other players, it said they're room was already full. Quick Matches yielded better results here and there, and when it actually did work, it was a blast! Though be prepared to know your Jutsu's, people are truly relentless online.

There is also a ton of collecting to do in the game. Each fight nets you a Ryo (currency) bonus, which you can use to spend on items in the shop, such as different substitutions, new Ninja Info Cards, or titles which you can adorn your cards with. It's not all amazing stuff, but those into collecting everything will have tons to do in Generations.

I've already mentioned that the game is damn near impossible to distinguish from its anime counterpart, save for the extremely fluid animations, but it also sounds amazing. Fans of the show can use the original Japanese voices or the American dub as well, and the soundtrack is brimming with Naruto goodness. Honestly, these songs range from epic Asian influenced combat songs, to somber and moving tunes which only enhance whatever the current scenario playing out is.

I don't have to tell Naruto fans twice, as they've had this game pre-ordered for months I'm sure or already have it in their systems now. Outsiders that want to break into the Naruto franchise might actually have the best chance with Generations. Though I've stated that some key battles were left out of the main storylines, you can still get a gist of what the storyline is about, and walk away with a general understanding of the series. Though Generations won't impress the hardcore fighting fans with it's simplistic combat, it's still fun enough for anyone to pick and play, and have a great time with. Believe it! (Sorry, I just had to)

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Ninja Gaiden 3 review

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Not everyone is going to be accepting of the fact that Ninja Gaiden 3 exists without the assistance of former Team Ninja leader Tomonobu Itagaki. For the longest time, this producer defined what the hardcore ninja experience is supposed to be, and since his hasty departure from Tecmo Koei’s camp, many were wondering how the legendary Ryu Hayabusa would fare without him. Well, now that the game’s here, we can honestly say that, yes, it is a different venture for him, but that doesn’t mean it sucks. In fact, this ninja is still as sharp as ever, mind a slight misstep or two.

The third chapter follows Ryu as he carves his way through an enemy army, before coming face-to-mask with an evil alchemist who has a trick up his sleeve in the way of sorcery. Following a fierce battle, Ryu finds his arm infected with a strange demonic force. Desperate to get back to his normal self – and save the world in the process – Ryu sets out on his most difficult task yet, stopping this madman and his mutant army.

Yeah, the story goes off the rails at times, but that’s just part of the fun. One minute, Ryu finds himself in a test facility, facing off against mutating creatures and narrowly escaping death by jumping across chasms; the next, he comes face to face with a robotically enhanced T-Rex, charging at him from all directions and then, just when you think he’s disposed off, popping up again. This is probably the most lively we’ve seen the Ninja Gaiden series be, even if it’s slightly unbelievable.

To make the gameplay feel a little more fleshed out, Tecmo added a few things to the sequel. For instance, you can now climb up walls using your daggers, and while it takes a bit of practice (one hand needs to be firmly planted or you’ll lose grip), it’s an interesting new technique. You can also call upon occasional dragon ninpo to clear the screen in an explosion of brightly lit fire, or use your demon arm to cut some enemies to shreds in a hurry. There are quick-time events too, though they aren’t nearly as annoying as we’ve seen in previous games. In fact, some are pretty damn slick, particularly when you’re getting the jump on a surprising enemy, stabbing him without looking.

The controls retain the same hack and slash action we’ve gotten used to. While we’re a bit sad that you can’t chop off limbs like you could in Ninja Gaiden II, there’s still plenty of blood to spill, which is a good thing. And while things do get slightly repetitive (you’re stuck with the main sword at first, though more weapons are coming via DLC), it’s still quick, ninja-enabled fun, so if you’re a fan of that, it’s still intact.

Graphically, Ninja Gaiden 3 may not have evolved much from the previous game, but parts of it still look quite fantastic. Both the indoor and outdoor environments look great (particularly the dusty deserts of Saudi Arabia), and the animation is razor sharp, right down to Ryu’s cool little “ghosting” ability with some attacks. There are times the frame rate drops a bit when the combat gets somewhat heavy, but never to the point that it becomes lackluster. And the camera manages okay, though there are slight occasions it gets stuck behind a wall. No biggie.

As for the dialogue, it’s acceptable. Not to say it’s not cheesy at times, as enemies repeat the same thing over and over (“Damn ninja!”) and the alchemist is a little too show-offish for his own good, but we’ve heard worse.

Along with a main story mode, which will take you a few hours (maybe longer on Hardcore difficulty), you also get some pretty good online content. A co-op mode has you team up with a fellow ninja for various Spec Ops-style missions, relying heavily on teamwork. There’s also a cool little four-on-four team deathmatch kind of mode, which may not be heavy on strategy, but still packs plenty of bloodshed. Nothing wrong with that.

So maybe Ninja Gaiden 3 doesn’t raise the bar like some fans may be expecting it to be, but overall, it’s still a worthwhile sequel, especially when it comes to its crazy boss battles (I'm telling you, that T-Rex is NUTS), great online compatibility and an above-average presentation. What it lacks in the “Itagaki touch”, it more than makes up for with some impressive “slice-and-dice”.

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Assassin's Creed III MP tasked to Revelations team

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The multiplayer component of Assassin's Creed III is being tasked to the team behind Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, according to a host of Twitter and LinkedIn profile listings (via Gamesradar).

In addition to work on the Assassin's Creed franchise, Ubisoft Annecy designed the multiplayer components of the Splinter Cell games Pandora Tomorrow (2004), Chaos Theory (2005), and Double Agent (2007).

Little is known regarding the multiplayer component of Assassin's Creed III. If it is based on the setting of the single-player campaign, gamers can expect to traverse various sites in Colonial America during the Revolutionary War.

As of press time, Ubisoft had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment. Assassin's Creed III is due out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and PC on October 30, with a European launch pegged for Halloween.

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Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown preview

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When Sega first released Virtua Fighter 5 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it entertained the masses with its slick animation engine, quality 3D backdrops, and elegant fighting style. The 360 version came with extensive online fighting options, making it a clear-cut winner — for the time being — with players who earned their skills in the arcade. Since that time, fighting games have moved on extensively, between Capcom’s crossover brawling affairs and Midway’s rebooted Mortal Kombat. Now Sega is eager to get back into the ring with a new version of Virtua Fighter — one that offers a number of new options and a much cheaper price. We recently got a chance to try it out at the company’s Digital Day event in San Francisco.

First off, most of the options that were in the original game are present in the Final Showdown expansion. You’ll find all the modes included, along with a Practice Dojo. Here, you’ll attempt to complete objectives and master moves using one of the game’s numerous characters. It’s a great mode to simply pass the time with or perfect your skills before you head online to take on the world.

Yes, for the first time in the series (the original game didn’t offer it), Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown will bring online play to the PlayStation Network. (It’ll be compatible with Xbox Live Arcade as well.) The game will introduce a great new matchmaking feature, where you won’t always be paired up against those who could thrash you in a heartbeat with the drunken Shun Di. Instead, it carefully examines your skill level and pairs you up against someone with an equal set-up, so you stand a better chance of winning the match. You’ll still have a fight on your hands, though, so be ready.

Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown’s cast of characters is quite the delight. A lot of old favorites return, including the leather-clad Sarah Bryant, still as sexy as ever; the traditional brawler Akira, who also appears in Dead Or Alive 5 (obviously, he’s much more natural here); the crazy Shun Di, who powers up with a new move every time he takes a swig from his bottle; and the returning Taka-Arashi, a Sumo wrestler who first debuted in Virtua Fighter 3. A new character, Jean Kujo, also joins the fracas, bringing a number of charge moves that make him devastating.

For a downloadable fighter, Virtua Fighter 5 looks razor sharp. The environments are somehow better than in the previous retail version, though the animations continue to be spot on, from Sarah’s spin kick to some of Shun Di’s more ridiculous grabs. It’s a polished engine, and the best Virtua Fighter we’ve seen to date. The audio is still what it is, with voices that either fit a character or make them sound worse (at least Sarah sounds nice) and decent background music.

But gameplay is the main draw here, and we’re happy to report it’s completely intact. During the demonstration, Sega broke out the deluxe fighting sticks to show just how dedicated the game is. It feels just right, between setting up Sarah’s lightning kick attacks and Wolf’s crazy wrestling moves. We didn’t have a problem executing any of the moves, even in the thick of a versus battle. Granted, your performance may vary if you’re using a regular Xbox 360 controller, but fighting fans will feel right at home here.

Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is yet another awesome release in Sega’s digital library, and one that fighting fans will definitely want to save some time for when it debuts this summer.

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World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta 'very close'

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Beta testing for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria will begin shortly, Blizzard has announced. The developer launched a beta opt-in FAQ late last night for the upcoming expansion, filling gamers in on the trial's details.

Players interested in participating in the Mists of Pandaria beta can opt in today via their accounts. Blizzard did not say when the beta will begin, but noted that players chosen for the trial will be alerted via email.

Players will not be forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement to participate in the Mists of Pandaria beta period. The developer made clear that Mists of Pandaria is an in-development product, and anything gamers encounter in the trial is not necessarily representative of the final product.

Blizzard did not say how many gamers it plans to invite to the Mists of Pandaria beta test, but did say its "primary focus" will be making sure all WOW Annual Pass holders are granted access to the trial period. Announced in October 2011, the WOW Annual Pass rewards gamers who make a 12-month commitment to WOW with a free copy of Diablo III, among other items.

Mists of Pandaria is WOW's fourth expansion. It follows The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of the Lich King (2008), and Cataclysm (2010). The add-on is set on the new continent of Pandaria and focuses on the Pandaren as well as the monk player class. The expansion pack, which does not have a release date, will also increase the player level cap to 90.

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