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    Entries in xbox360 (212)


    Soul Calibur V: Creating a Solid Fighter

    Soul Calibur IV is one of the only non-classic fighting games that I was playing as recently as late 2011 - 3 years after its release. Wait, does that make it a classic? Er, well instead of splitting grey hairs, let's get back to the matter at hand. Soul Calibur V has supplanted its predecessor, but how much time should you invest in this one, if any?

    Soul Calibur V is set 17 years after the conclusion of the fourth. The old Nightmare has been defeated, and the Soul Edge has chosen a new master, much like the Soul Calibur has chosen one other than the ageless beast, Siegfried. The story follows the adventure of Sophitia's offspring, Patroklos and Pyrrha, as they quest against the Edge in the name of the Calibur, and in the name of revenge.

    Ezio is immediately the most fitting bonus character added to a Soul Calibur title

    Put simply, the story mode is atrocious. The tale is blandly told with voices layered over black-on-parchment sketches that aren't even fit for concept art. There's some sort of world map to make it seem like the player has a destination and purpose, though there is no real reason for it, the battles move forward very linearly. Every now and then the player is rewarded with a cut-scene for their hard work, which seems like more of a thrown bone than anything else. Fortunately, the fight mechanics are tight and tuned, and the battles hot and heavy.

    The game has drastically changed in many ways, except for perhaps Ivy's bust size. Gone are many of the characters known and loved by the series' fan base, replaced with alternates of similar styles. Some old favorites stand the test of time, others are gone completely. Most notably, Kilik is replaced by a younger Kali Yuga disciple, Xiba. Though Kilik makes a special appearance as a hidden character, he is without pole arm, and instead uses the weapon shifting style of his mentor, the Edge Master. The complete omission of my all-time favorite style, that of Hwang/Assassin/Yun Seong is what really hurts most.

    Mitsurugi remains, because the grizzled Japanese samurai is irreplaceable

    Questionable design choices aside, I'm still captured by the combat. In my arcade adventures and versus violence, I grit teeth, shouted at the screen, and attempted to snap my controller on quite a few occasions. Mostly to clean, close battles as opposed to computer cheese and frustrating controls. The fighters are responsive to input commands and combos, as tricky as they are. The biggest change is perhaps the ease of firing off Critical Edge 'super' moves. Whereas they previously required a bit of skill and a bit of chance to open the window for a Critical Finish, now all you need is a full Critical Edge gauge and, boom, instant gratification at the expense of your opponent's life. As with many true 3D brawlers, command sequences are king and memorization is the queen, so the uninitiated should not expect to be pro from the go. Even with an inhumane amount of hours logged in SC4, it still took me some time to reacquaint myself with SC5's action. Button-masher beware!

    My excitement for Soul Calibur V lie directly tied to the revamped character creation tools, the very thing that kept me locked on Soul Calibur IV for so long. This time around the tools do not disappoint, with the ability to add numerous patterns to clothing, position pre-made labels, and tack on extra bits of equipment just about anywhere on your characters person. Make yourself and your friends, make your favorite movie stars, hell, even make fighters from other games. Just about anything is possible. The selection of faces leaves a bit to be desired, but the other customization options are so robust, I'm pretty sure the avid creator will not mind too much. Unfortunately, back is the limit of 50 characters, which I probably shouldn't be bitching about, but here I am doing it anyway. Creation is as addictive as huffing spray paint, so if you're anything like me you'll hit that 50 character limit in no time flat.

    Ronald McDonald, created by the boys at Japanese blog Esuteru

    Offline modes are a bit limited, with the usual story, arcade, training, and versus fares. Online multiplayer on the other hand, has quite a few interesting option for the brave digital warrior. Player matches allow you to jump in a room of up to 8 people, with rotating battles where the winner stays on, and all others become a voyeur. You can voice and text chat with everyone else in the room, so be sure you cheer against the guy who just kicked your ass. Ranked matches pit you one-on-one, where victory leads to a load of player points for increasing your rank, and a loss nets you comparatively less. The most interesting online mode is probably Global Colosseo, where you can choose one of an assortment of regional lobbies, which house dozens of fighters. Once settled, you can see an overview of all players in the coliseum, and from there you select a specific player to battle, or drop your name into a digital hat, letting the system match you up against a random who has done the same. It's a neat take on instant action, and probably the mode I enjoyed most, since I rarely had to wait to take on my next opponent, who most times was a created character that looked no where as lovingly detailed as my own.

    The story of Soul Calibur V doesn't make much sense, nor does it need to. The engine is tight, the action is smooth and deliberately paced, beneficial of those who train themselves to be the best, rather than button mashing. While series fans may be rebuffed at the exclusion of some old favorites - give me Hwang/Yun Seong as DLC! - the new additions fill the gaps well enough. If you're a crafty creator, and love going to war with the models of your machination, Soul Calibur V's character creation is second only to wrestling games in the fighting genre. It's enough to keep me entranced, and I feel is a fine 60 bucks spent, especially if you're playing with a group of friends or constantly hitting the online stage.

    The Score: 8 outta 10 Blasters!


    Shank 2: A Probable Get

    In case you may not have heard, Shank 2 has released! As I toil away here at work, I am imagining what it would be like to put on the bandana (and chainsaw, and machete, and shotgun, and pistols, etc) again. Just the thought is making me glow like a New Jersian guido.

    The original Shank was a wild romp of blood, weaponry, and style; three things that rank highly on my food chart of consumable dopeness. Look for a review up here very soon, but in the mean time you should probably play it yourself. With better visuals, more ridiculous scenarios, outrageous costumes, and tightened gameplay, I think Shank 2 will be worth your $10. 


    Retro City Rampage Release Reveal Date?

    Brian Provinciano is a fucking beast. As the man behind my much hyped Retro City Rampage, dude has been putting in work in a multitude of ways. Though there is one particular bone he hasn't thrown us, a release date. Brian and Phil Fish of indie platformer Fez are probably sitting at a wooden roundtable adorned with goats heads, candles, and naked virgins, both cackling madly as they keep their fan bases dangling in suspense.

    This here is the latest teaser for Retro City Rampage. It doesn't feature anything new or amazing aside from the 8-bit 1980's lunacy that originally suckered us in. It does, however, have a big 'but' that would make Sir Mix-a-lot pop wood. A very committed non-committal date of February 20, less than two weeks from today.

    What could it be? A release date? A reveal of the release date? An incredible trolling? I have no clue, but I am freaking PUMPED for it. This vein on my forehead is ready to burst! Damn you, your beastly ways, and the hemorrhage you are about to cause me, Brian Provinciano! 

    Edit: A lot of people would be extremely happy to have a Steam version of RCR announced on two-twenty, and you know what? I don't blame them. That would be an awesome addition to this already amazing appearing title.


    Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Flaunts Fate Shift Kills

    I hope the title has properly confused you. If what I've gathered is correct, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has something to do with bloody socks and Spawn. Alright, not really, but former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and comic book legend Todd McFarlane are driving forces behind this new IP, as developer 38 Studios' founder and art director respectively. Can you tell I'm not too familiar with this title?

    Marketing has been stealth at best, and what has been shown off was never enough to pull me in. Maybe it's because I'm an extremely dismissive person by nature? Whatever the case may be, the Oblivion-sized Reckoning has finally released some footage worthy of my dwindling attention span. COMBAT! While many of the story-specific combat elements seem a bit convoluted (whut is a fate shift kill?), the action looks lovely in motion, doesn't it?

    KoA:R, I will now try my best to pay attention to your press releases within my collapsed quarry of an inbox. Don't screw this up!


    Max Payne 3: More than Bullet Time

    Max Payne is back for the third time, and he brings bullets and time. But that's old news. With Rockstar at the helm of the fabled action series, the forces driving Max Payne 3 is the big story. Targeting, animation, enemy intelligence, pimpin'! I had the chance to see some of this in person, and it was pretty damn impressive. Now, you can see it too! Though more a developer diary than a full on trailer, these 3 minutes of Max are as lovely as they are informative. You want neck shots? You got it. How about Max bullet-diving into the side of a bus? Gotcha covered. 

    Max Payne 3 is looking as smooth as a bald head so far, and it'll probably continue to. My worries begin and end with how deep the gameplay will be. Shooting dudes in the eye while diving backwards down a flight of stairs never gets boring. Or does it? Rockstar better figure out a way to teach this old dog some new tricks.


    Tim and Eric and Genki Sell You on Saints Row: The Third

    Did you know that Tim and Eric teamed up with Saints Row: The Third to make a reality out of the fictional Professor Genki and his Japanese inspired game show wack house? It's true. And it's actually pretty good. Normally, not even the Chains of Olympus could keep me in my seat for an entire 12 minutes of YouTube video, but I can honestly say I watched Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax from start to finish, without any forwarding of the timeline. Highly amusing!

    If you're a fan of Tim and Eric's offbeat sense of humor, this video is made especially for you. Even if you're not a fan of the ambiguous duo, this "game show" has enough gratuitous skin, fried chicken, and tall cats to keep you entertained, and perhaps coax a $60 purchase of Saints Row: The Third. As if the game didn't look like enough of a wacky romp. My question is, when will we see Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax on weekly network television? Not soon enough.

    Preordered Saints Row: The Third yet? Get off your ass and do it, you'll get $10 of Amazon credit and the Genki Pack, which includes a Professor Genki suit and Man-A-Pult Car. Praise Genki!


    What do Jonah Hill, Sam Worthington, and Dwight Howard Have in Common?

    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, of course. Activision has a history of creating amusing live action spots for their cash cow, so why should MW3 be any different?

    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 releases on November 8. Hey, that's this week! Preorder now, if you haven't already. That is of course, providing you're not content with your purchase of Battlefield 3. Or not planning to throw every waking hour of your winter away on Skyrim. 


    SoulCalibur V Character Creation Rocks My World

    One of my favorite things to do in SoulCalibur IV was create characters. I spent hours and hours creating everyone from Batman and Joker, to Magneto, the cast of Samurai Champloo, even myself and all my friends. The character creation utility was not the most robust, but the sheer amount of clothing and armor options available meant it was possible to create just about anyone you could think of. It looks like Project Soul has outdone themselves this time.

    I realize this character creation trailer may be a hard trailer to watch, as it's a) upwards of 5 minutes long, and b) filled with silly Japanese humor, but sit through it, it's worth it. In addition to the wealth of armor and clothing that is no doubt available, you're now given an amazing level of control to finetune your character exactly as you'd like. Adjust individual body parts, place special customization pieces anywhere on your body or armor, change clothing colors and patterns, scale the patterns, change the color of your weapon effects, sky's the limit pretty much! In addition to creating new characters, you can even change existing characters to to fit whatever ridiculous standards you may hold them to. Mitsurugi in a leopard print dress? Ivy with a negative bra size? Go nuts! 

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the amount of characters one can create on a single profile. SoulCalibur IV was capped at 50, which was no where near enough. I've put the question out to Project Soul, so hopefully they respond with news. Regardless, SoulCalibur V is going to be dope, and the character creation only reinforces that. SCV drops on January 31, 2012. Save the date!

    Preorder SoulCalibur V on Amazon


    Ace Combat: Assault Horizon: Dogfight in The Danger Zone

    Growing up, I loved fighter jets, the open blue sky, and explosions. Aside from having an active imagination, I have Ace Combat to thank for that. Not sure how or why I acquired the first Ace Combat game back in 1995 - known then as Air Combat - but I did, and it was good. Fast forward to the year 2011, some 5 or 6 home console sequels later. Having not played any of Namco's recent air dominance titles, I wasn't too sure what to expect from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. After having logged hours in the sky, I can easily say Assault Horizon offers a surprisingly complex and unique experience that I will continue to revisit in the next few weeks, even ahead of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3.

    Click to read more ...


    There Can Be Only One: Battlefield 3 vs. Modern Warfare 3

    This fall's somewhat-but-not-quite similar military shooters are vying for your attention (and money). As much as people like to believe that these two games can coexist, they simply cannot. They are too much alike. Have you ever walked down the street and spotted someone who looks sort of like you? At the moment where the two of you glance at each other, the intergalactic threads of time and space begin to unravel and bolts of plasma rain down upon the ethereal plane; instant enemies. Yep, that's exactly what happens each time a copy of Modern Warfare 3 crosses paths with Battlefield 3

    One releases in a few days, one in a few weeks, but both have released newish 'launch' trailers to get you hyped up and get your wallet open. So readers, where will your money go, Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 or both? Personally, I could go either way, but will probably buy Modern Warfare 3, as more friends of mine will be throwing their money at Activision as opposed to EA. 

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