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    Entries in CES 2011 (7)


    CES11: All About Marvel vs. Capcom 3

    Photography by Mark Hagan

    I came to Vegas having played Marvel vs. Capcom 3 a few times prior, so for the most part I knew what to expect. Capcom's set up in a posh suite high atop the swanky Aria hotel left nothing to be desired. Four stations housing the Fate of Two Worlds; three with fightsticks, and one with a gamepad for those who prefer less protrusion. One of the stations was even streaming its matches live on Capcom-Unity. Good stuff, all around.

    Coupled with the the pimp setting, Capcom broke out the newest build of the game. Well, what I thought was the newest. The CES whirlwind had put me out of touch with the week's news, so word that Mike Haggar and Phoenix had been confirmed as the latest challengers almost slipped past me, until Capcom PR and all around awesome dude Jason Allen enlightened me. Before the announcement of the two newest fighters, the build we played had everyone who was previously announced. MODOK, Zero, Storm, She Hulk, Arthur, Magneto, X-23, Wesker, Tron Bonne, Dormammu, C. Viper. Did I miss anyone? Of course I did, but you get the jist. 30 playable characters thus far, and I'd be happy with that. Bigger and badder though, the folks at Capcom and Marvel aim to please, so we can expect a ballpark of around 38, not including any DLC characters.

    I played some X-23, who was fast as hell. She made moves around the screen real estate and dished it out close range in blazing bursts. My type of fighter, all the way. I also messed around with Zero, who didn't seem to play much at all like his Tatsunoko vs. Capcom counterpart, though I could just be rusty. His style of laser sabering and charged shots was fun, but will definitely take a lot of practice to master. Finally, MODOK was a great big 'what the fuck' moment for me. My rush n' pummel tactics were not well received by the lumbering, big-ass head. He seems like more of the thinking man's fighter, who methodically picks apart his enemies mentally before punishing them physically. 

    The ebb and flow of MvC3's play styles are encouraging. The game moves slower than Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and each character seems to have their own weight and pace, unlike the 2nd installment, where 75% of the combatants best strategy was rush rush rush. 

    Just for the hell of it, I asked when Galactus and Taskmaster would be revealed. No comment. I asked whether or not the holiday picture reveal of Haggar was intentional. No comment. You win this round, Capcom.

    February 15th can't come soon enough.

    Check back in the coming days for video behind Capcom's lines at CES!


    CES11: PlayStation 3 is All About the Headaches

    Prepare to be terminated

    After a bit of wandering on the main show floor, we found Sony's huge chunk of real estate. Most of it, like almost every other company on the floor, was dedicated in some way to the tiresome technology that I hope fails miserably, 3D. Still cameras, video cameras, small displays, large displays, everything in 3D! In other words, one massive headache. Amongst all the folks looking cool with their dimension-augmenting shades was the PlayStation 3 section, where we happily set up. Thankfully, Sony's massive 3D screen was calling the attention of everyone within eye-shot, meaning uninterrupted game time.

    PlayStation's biggest and most interesting game set up by far was for Move, which featured a few screens dedicated to Killzone 3. Having played the multiplayer beta, I already know that this game is going to be a good one. At CES however, PlayStation wanted to give me a brand spanking new experience by not only putting a Move assault rifle in my hands, but also cranking the Helghass-kicking action out in 3D. Honestly I was a little overwhelmed by the sensory barrage, which I usual love. As a 3D skeptic already, having to deal with the enhanced visuals along with the still-foreign Move and rifle peripheral was too much to get down in under five minutes. Attempting to master the control didn't allow me to fully bask in the 3D, so yet another manufacturers attempt to cram this "new" technology down my throat was wasted. The PS Move controls were very finicky, reacting to the slightest movement of the rifle. The sensitivity may have been a little too high for me, but I eventually got the hang of it.. Right before I ran into a pack of Helghast in an attempt to use the melee function, which along with reloading is cleverly implemented. You aim off-screen and give the rifle a shake to reload, and to melee, you thrust the rifle at your enemy as if you're attacking with a bayonet. These motions were tricky execute without losing your aim or directional bearing, but like most things, a little practice will probably fix that right up. Killzone 3 will release on February 22nd, along with the branded peripheral, which will retail for $40.

    Also on display was inFamous 2, another PS3 exclusive that I can't wait to dive into. One of the first things I asked the nearest rep, as I smashed heads with Cole's tuning fork shaped cattle prod, was whether or not the title supported 3D. I was informed that the developers chose to concentrate on intense gameplay and an immersive world rather than 3D bells and whistles. Amen, brotha! Thus I cheerily smashed, shocked, ran, climbed, and slid my way -- headache free -- through inFamous 2's demo level. Those who have been keeping up with the released media should know the segment that was playable; where Cole is in pursuit of a limousine, and ends up being attacked by a chopper. The demo looked good when we saw it way back when, and thankfully, it played just as well in Vegas. Still very excited for this one.

    Surprisingly, Sony also showed off a little MLB 11: The Show, the first time I've actually seen it in action. Graphically, it appeared not much had changed from MLB 10: The Show, which was already beautiful looking. The only graphical enhancement was made by way of, you guessed it, 3D! YAY! I was not impressed by MLB 11's 3D at all. In a game like baseball, where depth of field is such a integral part of the experience when the camera is over the pitcher's or catcher's shoulder, the effect left much to be desired. It seemed like the biggest benefactor of the 3D treatment was the scoreboard, which honestly, I could care less if I see or not. I suppose the 'wow moments' would occur during a cinematic scene, like a home run, which in the punishing world of baseball sims does not happen often. A more drastic change has been made to the pitching and hitting mechanics, which can now be fully controlled by the analog sticks. Of course, if that departure is a little too hardcore for the casual baseball gamer, you can always switch back to the button-based method of heaters and whiffs. 

    Finally, Little Big Planet 2 made a showing. We didn't have a chance to give it a whirl, but it is what it is. If you're a user-creation crackhead, you probably shouldn't even think twice about buying it.

    All in all, PlayStation and Sony in general seemed to be relying too much on 3D for cheap thrills. I'm still not sold, nor will I ever be. I jokingly asked a rep standing near a PSP display where the PSP2 was at. "Over near the PlayStation 3 set up," he responded. Either he heard me wrong, or he was incredibly misinformed.

    3D glasses: making us all look stylish, one geek at a time


    CES11: A Fistful of Nyko

    Written by Mark Hagan

    We know what you’re thinking, just another set of third party controllers and devices we don’t want or need. Trust me, I know where you're coming from. When it comes to choice of controllers, especially in the console world, quality has usually been in the hands of the parent company. In the past, licensing restrictions and simple competing economics forced 3rd party manufacturers like Nyko to choose cheaper materials to undercut their 'parents'. Now it seems those days are far behind.

    Nyko came out, excuse the pun, guns ‘a blazin’ at this year's CES. They introduced a new line of impressive PlayStation Move peripherals -- the assault rifle inspired Power Shot and pistol modeled Perfect Shot -- for all your digital marksmanship needs. The Power Shot can be configured to be used with or without both halves of the Move system by way of a removable grip which can house the navigation controller, and can also be turned toward the left or the right, making it a comfortable fit for southpaws as well. The wildly popular Wiimote Perfect Shot will see an upgrade with the Perfect Shot Pro, the main difference being added vibration feedback. Though no colors have been finalized for the PS3 or Wii versions, the digital camo paint job we got our hands on was pretty badass, so we're going to hope that colorway makes it onto store shelves.

    The PS3 also sees two new gamepads that we were really impressed with. Named Raven, one variant comes in the standard Dual Shock layout, the other features alternate Xbox 360-inspired analog stick placement. In both of its forms, the Raven has L2 and R2 triggers, as well as a toggle switch on its back to swap the mapping of the 1 and 2 buttons. Supremely handy for the PS3 games which require you to aim and shoot with L1 and R1 respectively, and very good news for the Dual Shock haters out there. The weight and velvety feel of the controller had all of us drooling to pick one up immediately. I was so impressed with the feel of the Raven, I would drape myself in them if it were socially acceptable.

    The 360 wasn’t neglected despite Microsoft's harsh third party licensing restrictions. Though the days of RROD seem to be behind Redmond, the infamous Intercooler accessory got a very stylish upgrade to match the new Xbox 360 Slim body. The Intercooler STS diverts the hot air jetted out of the console's side vent to the front of your system, and in theory away from your home theatre setup, or whatever you may have stacked near. The “TempSmart” technology also enables the device to automatically sense when and how hard the cooling system needs to work. Though I'm skeptical of its practicality, it does turn your 360 into a Ferrari-looking monster of sex appeal, but the question remains, what is the Intercooler STS compensating for? We’ll leave that for you to decide. The black gloss finish may make your matte black 360 Arcade look a tad out of place, if aesthetics are you’re thing.. And we know they are.

    Nyko will also be releasing some very cool controller docks for the PlayStation Move and Nintendo Wiimote. The LED notification rings had us mesmerized when we dropped in our exhausted motion controllers. These charge bases will be available in dual and quad charge configurations, assuring even Goro or Kintaro's controllers will never run out of juice.

    The 3rd party peripheral world is a scary one. It is usually a case of buyer beware and you get what you pay for scenarios. Nyko has really raised the bar the last few years and have produced well built and attractive add-ons and game pads. Look for most of these products to hit store shelves early this spring at incredibly reasonable prices. Stay tuned for more news when they release.

    Check out the gallery for more shots of Nyko's upcoming products!


    CES11: Dolby Digital Does Critial Damage

    Written by Pedi Talai

    Dolby Axon
    Dolby Axon is a full 3D voice communication utility which greatly increases the audio experience between the player and their allies or enemies, and helps to further immerse the user in the game world. Axon is found in two different flavors; built into the games themselves, or operated from a standalone client.

    Currently found in a number of top PC games in Asia (as well as Need for Speed World), Dolby Axon has been used in-game in such clever ways as a microphone-tipped spy dart, which allows you to eavesdrop on conversations where the dart has been fired. Axon adjusts dynamically with the environment, changing as rapidly as the game setting you find yourself in. If you get closer to your teammates, you'll hear them louder. Distance yourself from your squad, and their levels decrease. The occlusion engine intensifies the effects, allowing you faithfully reproduce hearing a voice from around a corner, and similarly muting a voice heard behind a wall or shield. Dolby Axon also features voice fonts, which allows the player to alter and mask their voice in a multitude of ways. Believe it or not, the Axon package, while high quality, sends voice at low bandwidths to assure low latency, even between thousands of users per server, scaling seamlessly between multiple servers.

    Outside of the game world, Dolby Axon is looking to one-up programs like Ventrilo and TeamSpeak (and perhaps even Skype), and from what we've seen, easily does so. The client supports up to 50 users, each able of adjusting their position on a virtual grid, as well as their direction in a full 360 degrees. The program is currently available for Windows, with a Mac release scheduled for sometime this spring.

    Dolby Home Theater 4
    Dolby will be releasing the follow-up to their Home Theater v3 audio software later this year. Home Theater v4 turns a laptop's mundane audio output into a cinematic aural experience by allowing the user various control options that will maximize the sound quality of your music, movies, and games, effectively eliminating any other way to listen to them.

    Home Theater v4 will intelligently disseminate info from the track and convert stereo to 5.1, or 5.1 to 7.1. This allows vocals and background noise to be spread across the sound spectrum accurately, and makes audio much more pleasing to the ears. Of course this is something that needs to be heard to truly appreciated, but you can take it from us that it's nothing short of amazing. While Home Theater v4 has an available gaming preset, unfortunately we were not able to see it in action, as Dolby instead chose to focus showing this technology via movies and music. Nonetheless, we're sure Home Theater v4 will have the same wow-factor on game audio as it does with other audio mediums.

    Home Theater v4 will only be available pre-installed on certain Acer laptops in spring of this year. There are plans to make the software available on other Windows based computers, but nothing has yet to be officially announced by Dolby or their partners.


    CES11: Capcom's 'A' Games

    We spent some time in Capcom's suite, and as always, they brought their 'A' games. We saw 5 of their upcoming titles, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Okamiden, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, MotoGP 10/11, and of course, Marvel vs. Capcom 3. As MvC3 has enough content to warrant a post of it's own, we'll go over that a little later, but for now, dig in to Capcom's other offerings.

    Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS) January 2011
    I've heard about it, read about it, watched the videos but never quite seemed to care for it to go out of my way to make mention of it. After spending some time with the game however, I've taken quite a liking to the title. Designed by Shu Takumi, the mind behind the prolific Phoenix Wright series, Ghost Trick has the pedigree to be something special, but will it have the substance? Right now, all signs are pointing to yes. The artwork and character style -- like the Phoenix Wright titles -- are colorful, unique, and busting at the seams with style. The animation really stuck out to me, as characters moved smoothly and gracefully, enveloping their own personal styles. It was like watching a big-budget anime play out on the dual screens. I found the gameplay -- a truly unique puzzle solving experience which requires the lead to possess and control inanimate objects in order to complete tasks -- to be quite fun, with the grounds for evolving from enjoyable to flat out addictive. Don't make the same mistake I did by glossing Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective over, give it a well-deserved look, and when you're done, check it out again because you most likely missed an awesome detail the first time around.

    Okamiden (DS) March 2011
    Capcom has handled the marketing for Okamiden flawlessly, which isn't surprising seeing as how adorable the main character is. You take control of Chibiterasu, offspring of Okami's lead (and MvC3 combatant) Amaterasu. While related in blood, this adventure is not a direct sequel at all, but a spiritual successor. From what we played, we got to see a stage which utilized Chibi's Galestorm technique, via the Celestial Brush. The Galestorm was key to Chibi and partner Kurow overcoming the treacherous winds faced while attempting to successfully reach the next area, which appeared to be a mountain peak in the sky. Upon reaching the top of the peak, a miniboss rhythm battle ensued, where you had to slash at drum notes created by the decidedly Caribbean band. The stylus was in full effect throughout, reacting precisely the way you would want it to, and keeping well in line with the awesome functionality introduced by the original Okami. Our hands on wasn't quite in depth enough to garner a true decision on Okamiden, but there is some potential for good here, as well as the potential to disappoint.

    Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 (XBLA, PSN) February 2011
    Hot on the heels of the success Bionic Commando Rearmed found, the next installment attempts to plug in the gameplay holes of the original. It's not the first time we've played Rearmed 2, but it is maybe the most quality time we've spent with it, and we learned much under the informative tutelage of Capcom's reps. By now you must know that the ability to jump has been added it, and that completing the game without jumping nets you a nice trophy or achievement. What I didn't know was that there is a separate mode to play that restricts the moustached Nathan Spencer's jump, so you wont accidentally fuck up your achievement. The special abilities are a nice touch, adding elements like grenades, heals over time, and so forth. Unfortunately, there is still no online multiplayer, and I was a little let down by the operation of the local multiplayer. Basically, the camera follows the first player, therefore if the second player lags behind, they have a 5 second time limit to get back onto the screen. If they don't, it's life over for them. If the second player just happens to be the more seasoned BCR2 player, they're assed out, say in the situation that the first player screws up a jump and plummets 10 stories down. At any rate, the lack of online multiplayer for this $15 title is marginalized (if that's possible) by two details: 5-6 hours of gameplay, and online leaderboards for both the single player story, and the always entertaining challenge rooms.

    MotoGP 10/11 (X360, PS3) March 2011
    Capcom pushes out MotoGP 10/11 with all the content of the recently completed 2010 season, to go along with future free downloadable updates for the 2011 season, such as real time stat and ranking updates among other unique features. It was my first time playing, and I found the controls and physics to be punishing, if only because I'm terrible at racing games. Fans of a realistic racing experience and crotch-rockets alike will appreciate the gameplay of 10/11. For those of you like myself, who just cheese it for the duration of the course and use the nearest wall as your brakes, the offer of player assists turns the game from more of a sim to an arcade experience, more forgiving to the casual or beginner virtual racer. Another nice addition for the bike-newbs is the implementation of a dotted guide-line which shows the the best place to position yourself for the challenging turns, and also scales from green to red, offering a hint of what speed you should be shooting along at. Local co-op is available in Career Mode, with a second player hopping in as a mate to help your team take the pole position. Online racing pits you against a racing-record 19 competitors, assuring that you will need plenty of practice and hours logged to finish in the top 3.

    All in all another solid showing from Capcom, though nothing new or groundbreaking was introduced. It was good to see them in Vegas, and I hope to see more software developers use CES as a booster for their upcoming IPs in the future.

    Check in next week for more photos from Capcom's display!


    CES11: Kinect Gets Busy at Microsoft's Keynote

    Photography by Mark Hagan

    What better way to open CES weekend than with a keynote by Microsoft, led by the magnificently mad bull named Steve Ballmer. Microsoft has performed well on most notes, especially so with their gaming division (in the States, anyway). Mr. Ballmer wasted no time christening this CES 2011 with words of the Xbox 360, Kinect, and Xbox LIVE.

    After an initial introduction, the lovable mad man turned things over to Kinect hot-shot Ron Forbes, who gave us some old and some new. As this is a weekend about making news, let's not concern ourselves with the old stuff, instead focusing on what we can look forward to for Microsoft's gaming juggernaut: a lot of Kinect integration, specifically to Zune, Netflix, and Hulu Plus.

    The oft overlooked Zune feature was made to look quite slick in its pairing with Kinect, both by way of gesture and voice control. Speaking in a fluid conversational tone to his Xbox (as many Kinecters can already attest to), Mr. Forbes was able to initiate a few awesome features. The combination of gesture and voice allowed him to quickly and effortlessly receive suggestions of new movies available in the Zune application, from there allowing him to watch trailers, then jump right into the movie from the trailer. In his horrible taste, Mr. Forbes happened to be in the midst of a Twilight: Eclipse viewing, which he was able to jump right back into and resume from where he previously left off, without ever picking up a controller. More of the same was done with Zune music, albeit not as impressively as the video function. We saw a little more of the same being done with Netflix and Hulu Plus, however not as in depth as what was displayed with Zune, understandably so.

    Digital Ballmer's hand movements are as convincing as the real thing

    Moving right along, Ballmer reclaimed the stage in avatar form, in his likeness with the same lack of hair, and a mysterious lack of girth. As he spoke, his avatar's mouth kept up with his words. Its facial expression changed to mimic that of its owner. A laugh, a frown, all portrayed convincingly by Ballmer's digital image, right down the the most minute detail; a wiggle of the eyebrows. The audience was then treated to the realization of this Avatar Kinect. A party chat, which seemed to be set at a tailgate, featuring half a dozen avatars talking to each other, interacting, seemingly living and breathing. An awesome next step for the technologies. This was mentioned to be free for all Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers, with no mention made of the elephant in the room, Xbox LIVE free memberships.

    More was seen and said, but none as important as Kinect's next steps. Did you know Kinect has sold 8 million units world wide? As of this writing, I am NOT a Kinect owner, but this presentation has intensified my necessity for one. And for my sports fans, the ESPN3 app that I labor over to keep you satisfied will see new social integrations, such as mini-games and added avatar interactions. Look for the College Bowl Showdown in your ESPN3 app to get a sneak peek at what to expect. 

    All in all a strong showing from Microsoft's gaming division. No groundbreaking revelations, but genuinely interesting advancements to keep current customers locked, and entice those who may have previously doubted Xbox and Kinect.

    Is Steve Ballmer gonna have to choke a b*tch?


    Keep Up With Us at CES

    We are in Sin City for what is perhaps the most technologically advanced weekend of the year. While the gaming industry may not be at CES in full force, there will still be plenty of interest for our faithful readers. After all, gamers are also about cutting edge technology, are we not? We'll be reporting on gaming peripherals, PC hardware, displays, and maybe even some software. If we're really lucky, we might hunt down some PSP2, PSPhone, and 3DS news. 

    In combination with some of the other events and expos occuring during CES weekend, you can count on a wealth of fun and exciting updates from Team OBG.

    Get up-to-the-minute updates on Twitter, and look for daily updates right here. Keep it locked!