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    Hands On with God of War: Ascension Multiplayer

    The gigantic Kratos statue outside Sony's God of War: Ascension booth

    Coming into this year's New York Comic Con, there were only a handful of games I was excited to see, one of which was God of War: Ascension. As a frothy-mouthed supporter of the original trilogy, I know single player will be another visceral, beautiful, face-melting affair, however the addition of multiplayer was a bit of a worry point. Thankfully multiplayer is exactly what Sony had on display on the Javits Center floor, so I was either leaving with soothed nerves or the rage of the Gods.

    Disclaimer: like a good Christopher Nolan film, this article will leave a variety of open questions. The kind Sony folks protecting the giant Kratos statue were unwilling to offer answers when questions were posed. Whether or not this was due to my lack of press badge is up for discussion.

    We started with some very underwhelming customization options, as I was only able to adjust my avatar in a few simple ways: choice of two very similar helmets, and choice of either mace or sword. My armor was reminiscent of Hercules' and I believe my name was something along the Herculean line, so I assume I was his champion. Can't say for sure because no one would answer my questions! SCEA: 1, OBG: 0.

    After the cosmetic options, I was given the opportunity to choose a magical skill and was then forcibly ushered into the game by the Sony employees, who had no desire in fostering my snail-paced menu exploration. Due to this, I may have missed some options which would have been nice to mention here, but such is life. The match started with teams on opposing sides of the map, as is the norm for these games. The battle system felt very much like it did during the campaign of God of War 3, which is welcome. The player is blessed with light and strong attacks - both of which can be modified to special attacks while holding L1. My Spartan (from Sparta, not UNSC) could do everything else expected of Kratos, such as jump, block, evade, parry, throw, all the mundane necessities. There's also a Burst move (speaking in Guilty Gear terms) which knocks your nearest opponents back and recovers a bit of health. Yep, all the tools required to become a God of the arena.

    The stage up to play was built as a selection of elevated platforms connected by bridges, ziplines, and hookpoints where 8 warriors fared combat as a gigantic cyclops thrashed the very near background. The game started much as a 4 on 4 deathmatch pit between Spartans and Trojans, but seemed to evolve into an objective piece once the teams realized what what happening. Different points on the map were contested to control the chained cyclops, and when either team held the points, they also held the Gods' favor.

    Battle felt surprisingly tight and well polished, almost as if I were playing a single player affair. The action ran smooth in all respects whether 2 or 8 players on screen, with the titanic cyclops thrashing just behind all the while. During battle, prompts were given for various actions, similar to how Kratos dispatches non-player characters in campaign. There are gruesome quick time events during grapples as well as executions to rid yourself of an opponent. The heat of battle was so frantic I often found myself missing these commands, perhaps they are not prominent enough, or maybe I'm too impatient. Either way, I do think the commands could use a little more visibility.

    Aside from properly thrashing everything on screen, there are other concerns to take note of. The battlefield is littered with respawning chests which contain magic, health, bonus points and other goodies. There are also powerups to grab for a temporary advantage, all in line with the mythos of course, such as Hermes' boots which give you a speed boost and are simply dashing. My favorite touch to the map are the selection of traps laying about, which are triggered by pulling a switch sitting just within spitting range of the hazard. A pit of spikes greeted me once too many during my session, and only afterwards did I begin paying attention to where I roam and when I engage combat. I'm not sure if the traps caused friendly fire, for obvious reasons. SCEA: 2, OBG: 0.

    After each side had hacked, trapped, grappled, platformed, and magicked the Hades out of each other, a weapon of Zeus himself screeched down from Olympus and crashed onto a platform beside the weary cyclops' drowsy head. In the heat of battle and the flurry of 8 player fury, I may have missed what exactly occurred with said spear (SCEA: 3, OBG: 0), but our match was capped with a thrilling cut scene of one of my teammates wielding Zeus's spear and dispatching the cyclops with a clean pierce to the middle of the eye. Sick.

    I will never question the integrity of the God of War: Ascension campaign, as my previous experiences have have prepared me for the enjoyment to come. At a time I was concerned about multiplayer, but after my time spent in the old world, my worries have been surprisingly released as red orbs of joy, and now I look forward to more of the multiplayer of the Gods.


    Gambling at New York City Comic Con '12 (+ win a free game!)

    It happens every year. Comic Con rolls around and I'm all pumped about live blogging the coverage with snapshots and tweets and all that goodness. Then the horrible realization dawns that 3G service is unusable in Jacob Javits Center and the sluggish wi-fi is not worth the daily premium. Have I learned my lesson? Not at all. This year I'm on 4G - LTE if you will - and I plan to make that Comic Con show floor my bitch. Will it happen? Probably not. But you know what? Screw it.

    I registered as press a little late, and though I just barely made the deadline, my press access was denied so you won't see any behind the scenes, insider shit, but if this plan works you will have the team and myself flossing the press mentality with public access badges. Which means I may be banned, fined, or arrested at some point during the day. Again, screw it.

    So my plan for tomorrow is to begin livestreaming and adding photo/text updates shortly after 10am EST, provided AT&T's LTE network is worth a damn. And to make things a little more interesting, leave a comment below with a simple yes or no answer to this question: Will this plan go accordingly? If you answer correctly, you'll be in the running to win a copy of Retro City Rampage for Steam courtesy of my dwindling bank account.

    Contest closes on October 12 at 10am sharp, any entries after the deadline will be ignored!

    Update: Unfortunately, the plan was a complete failure! I had a feeling LTE would fall just as 3G had fallen before it. Maybe in a few years 5G will be able to handle Javits Center? More than likely not, but a cheapskate who is unwilling to pay $25 for a few hours of crappy wi-fi (see: broke-ass) can dream, can't he?

    A winner among those of you who answered 'no' has been selected and contacted via email. For those who answered 'yes', sorry you didn't win but I love your positive energy. You're all winners, sexy, well-endowed, winners at that! 


    Timekillers: The Past Week in Brief

    What up, suckas- I mean, dear dear readers! I just flew in from Amsterdam last night and I'm in desperate need of a recharge, but moreso than that, you're in desperate need of me to tell you to look at things! Most of what's contained within is old news that I missed (which I'm posting regardles of whether or not you missed it as well), so it will be conveniently re-blogged for your viewing pleasure:

    That's all I got. Time for a jet-lag induced nap. 


    Assassin's Creed III: The Tyranny of King George

    With this appropriately incredible teaser image, Assassin's Creed III has revealed what is perhaps the greatest downloadable content since.. Maybe ever. 

    The Tyranny of King George, an episodic series of DLC, is an alternate universe in which our presidente uno George Washington is driven mad with power. In the dictionary of Assassin's Creed, that is the definition of assassination target. It'll be George Washington vs. Connor Kenway, just like I was taught in history class! 


    Mark of the Ninja: Stealth Revival

    I often wonder what it would be like to be a ninja. It's been a secret dream of mine since childhood, along with the desire to be an astronaut, dinosaur, underpaid startup employee, and unheralded videogame blogger. But at the end of the day, ninja is the one dream that persisted. If gaming has taught me anything, it's that ninjas are pretty much space marines with swords who every now and then rely on the cloak of shadow to replenish health before running back into broad daylight, slicing everything up like a food processor. Having done plenty of study on my future profession, I'm wise enough to know ninja blend into crowds like normal folk, using simple subterfuge to complete their tasks. While Mark of the Ninja isn't quite on that level of subtlely, it's one of the best representations of my shadow brethren since Tenchu. But is it any good?

    Click to read more ...


    Mecha? In My Halo 4? Yesplzthx!

    Just so you know, there will be giant bi-pedal tanks in Halo 4 which can shoot machine guns, missiles, and even stomp the fuel cells out of Warthogs and Ghosts. Apparently, they can also hump a corpse pretty damn good. This is a good addition, right? Of course it is.

    I can't wait to see what the clever Halo community cooks up using the Forge. Who needs a new Armored Core game?


    Halo 4's Covenant Weapons: Old Classics

    My bad for not pushing this in your faces sooner. I love staying on top of Halo 4 details, but completely missed this one. Either way, here it is, club music set to the flashing lights and quick kills of energy based weapons. While the Forerunners may have the award locked up for flashiest weapons, don't write off the Covies tried and true series staples. Of note: the Needler. After beginning its life cycle as an under-powered, pink piece of crap, it has become increasingly better with each installment of the series. I expect the Needler to be the Gods weapon in Halo 4, no doubt. 

    I'm so ready. I can't wait. And while I am enjoying playing Borderlands 2 right now, it's really just a time sink until Halo 4. Pre-order before it's too late! (affiliate link)


    Overstrike Ditches the Humor and Personality, Becomes Fuse

    Overstrike circa Summer 2011

    During E3 2011, a game called Overstrike was announced via non-gameplay trailer. While details never really surfaced, we were able to surmise that Overstrike had something to do with a team of super-spies, dripping with personality, kicking all kinds of ass amidst colorful backdrops; think Team Fortress 2 meets Borderlands. Nary a shred of information regarding Overstrike released from that day until now. Unfortunately, humor and personality doesn't sell games, or so some of these companies think.

    Overstrike has been cannibalized into Fuse, a shell of its former self that puts the focus on third-person shooting action and completely strips every endearing part of the source material. Insomniac Games what the fuck are you thinking? You've taken a new IP that had tons of buzz and made it a grey-brown shoot-and-snore fest. Oh but you can use different types of ammo and work as a team of four players! And what? That's nothing we haven't seen before, in fact it's something we see almost every damn day. Witty dialogue, colorful locales, characters with real personality and a sense of humor? Something gamers rarely see. So what happened? Did the boys at EA drop the hammer on your mockups, squeezing out every inch of life to fit their standards? 

    Obviously, I'm pissed off about this. Feels like I just finished playing Inversion, one of the most lifeless games I've played in a while, but it looks like Fuse is challenging for that title. Take a look at the Overstrike trailer above and the Fuse trailer below and tell me: do you think these changes have been made for the better? 


    PUFFiT Vaporizer: Clean, Smart, Gamer Approved

    A popular subculture of gaming's mega-culture is smoking. It's a huge part of everything everywhere, to be honest. Cigarettes, hookah, beedies, weed, even electronic cigs are found everywhere, inhaled by all walks of life. As an occasional smoker myself, I thought I should share with my fellow gamers a simple and elegant solution to avoid burning out your lungs, which has been starting to really come into its own and gain more attention of late: vaporizing.

    Click to read more ...


    Bullet Points: Avengers Initiative

    Hulk looks like he's having fun, but don't be fooled - he's wishing someone could kill him

    Marvel knows a big thing when they have it, and honestly when it comes to their latest focus of movies, big things have been few and far between of late. Seems like any Marvel flick that doesn't feature Robert Downey Jr. is doomed for mediocrity. On the strength of Mr. Tony Stark and Joss Whedon, The Avengers has been absolutely steam-rolling everything from the box office to the BluRay, and everything in between. With a property which can do no wrong, Marvel Entertainment now attempt to conquer mobile gaming by way of Avengers Initiative, an Infinity Blade rip-off.

    There have been quite a few Infinity Blade rip-offs of late, however most tend to put their own spin on things rather than straight re-skin the source material. In all honesty, that is exactly what Avengers Intitiative feels like, rather than its own experience. The game is set to unfold in four separate chapters spanning The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man, where each chapter costs $7. As the Avengers' most powerful and volatile member, I was excited to see what The Hulk would be able to do, expecting building leaps, wall runs, limb ripping, and general chaos. What I received instead was a literal stroll down memory lane, using memories stolen from Chair Entertainment.

    Infallable Infinity Blade gameplay
    -  Uninspired re-skin of Infinity Blade
    -  IAP fueled customization system
    -  Sad excuse of a Hulk

    The Avengers' Hulk was a quivering, snarling, white-hot bowl of gamma-irradiated terror. Hulk as he's presented in this title is more doctor than destroyer, casually walking up to enemies, waiting for the player to initiate the battle, then half-heartedly taunting before engaging in the repeated swing of fists. Give us the Hulk. Let us barrel through enemies like the unstoppable freight train the green guy is. We want to jump over mountains and gamma clap helicopters mid-flight. Avengers Initiative is a sad cash grab that deserves to be disrespected as Loki was at film's end. If the other chapters plan to be much the same as this, shame on you Marvel.