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BioShock 2 Rapture Metro DLC Revealed

When 2K announced that "Rapture Metro Pack," the second DLC for BioShock 2, would add six new maps and other goodies, it was welcome news for fans of the shooter who felt burned by the game's anemic first DLC, the "Sinclair Solutions Test Pack." As I mentioned in the Verdict on that DLC, "Sinclair" didn't add any new maps, or anything else of real substance. But with "Metro" offering much more than that, it seemed, 2K was actually offering downloadable content that was worth downloading.

Well, so much for that idea. While the new DLC adds six new maps to the game, as of launch week, the odds of you actually getting to play any of them are pretty slim. Let me explain. The way BioShock 2 integrates them is to place them into rotation alongside the original ones. It's not like in Gears Of War 2, which had special sections for people who owned specific map packs. The problem is, if you're in a lobby, and not everyone has the new maps, the game only picks from the old ones. If even one person doesn't own "Metro," none of the new maps will come up.

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BioShock 2 DLC Screens: Meet Louie McGraff And Oscar Calraca

A few days after 2K Games released the "Sinclair Solutions Test Pack," the first multiplayer-oriented add-on for BioShock 2, it was revealed that the DLC was not actually something you downloaded, but something already built into the game, you were merely downloading a key to unlock it. This revelation has thrown fans of the shooter, and its online modes, into a tizzy, crying foul, and deeming this a total rip-off.

The odd part is that they're right, but for all the wrong reasons. The issue isn't that the contents of "Sinclair" were already part of BioShock 2; the real issue is that the contents of "Sinclair" don't really add much to BioShock 2.

For those who haven't played BioShock 2 online yet, the game has seven different modes, including versions of  “Team Deathmatch” (“Civil War”), “King Of The Hill” (“Turf War”), and “Capture The Flag” (“Capture The Sister”). It also has as a leveling up system akin to Modern Warfare 2, in that you gain Adam (read: experience) from killing or getting an assist on a kill, by winning or simply finishing a match, and by completing such “Trials” as killing a set number of enemies with a specific weapon. You can also gain Adam by hacking turrets and vending machines, by taking pictures of other player's dead bodies (which gives you a damage bonus against them), or just by picking up bottles of the stuff that's been left lying around where any kid can get his or her hand on it.

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Tom French (The Saboteur) and Tim Schafer (Brütal Legend)

While E3 is supposed to be for developers, game journalists, and other members of the video game industry, there are always a few ne'er-do-well celebrities — we’re looking at you, Robin Williams — who try and crash the bash, and get their filthy mitts on the new games, too. But this year’s show looks like it might be a Celebrity Free Zone thanks to “House of Game,” an event held the Monday before E3 began that let celebs and other Hollywood power brokers get their hands on some hot upcoming games without having to cockblock people at E3.

The impetus behind “House of Game” wasn’t just to keep Robin Williams from getting between us and Modern Warfare 2, though. “I came up with the idea after I took some celeb friends of mine to E3,” explains Tom Ham, a veteran game journalist who organized the event with Kevin Chang, a production executive at Misher Films who worked on the upcoming Johnny Depp movie Public Enemies, and Zach Schiff-Abrams, a producer at Mike DeLuca Productions whose next project is Brothers with Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire.

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Dragonica Online Preview

Dragonica. You’re probably thinking it's the name of a hardcore fantasy role-playing game in which knights, mages, and archers have to face an army of dragons. Or a power metal band doing some crappy songs for Guitar Hero 5. But you’re wrong on both accounts. Dragonica Online is a fantasy MMO from THQ, but one that’s actually aimed at teens and tweens. Which is weirder than it sounds because, after seeing the game in action at E3, we think there might be some old-school gamers who will want to play it, too.

Dragonica Online is a casual but action-oriented MMO set in a world where dragons return from exile seeking revenge. Except that the action this is oriented for is of the side-scrolling variety. Yes, this game actually plays a lot like such old-school games as Contra and Castlevania. Though which one specifically depends on what class you’re playing as: there are arrow-shooting archers, melee-loving warriors, magic-using magicians, and sneaky thieves who use Wolverine-like clawed gloves. The game even has something of an old-school look, as it has more of an animated — or rather, anime — feel than a realistic or gritty one.

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You’re going to have to forgive us, but with Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine still early in development, there isn’t much to see yet. Not only did THQ not let us play it at E3 this year, but they didn’t even have a playable version that we could watch someone else play. But they did have a trailer handy, and we were allowed to ask questions after we watched it, so here’s what we can tell for now.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine E3 2009 Trailer 

Warhammer 40k Space Marine E3 2009 Trailer »



The game is a third-person action-RPG that, if the trailer is to be believed (and we don’t see why it isn’t) will be more along the lines of God of War than Diablo. It is currently being developed by Relic Entertainment (who’ve made such RTS games as 2004’s Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, and 2006’s Company of Heroes) for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. 

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While most shooter fans liked what the Rainbow Six series did when it went to Vegas, some fans of tactical military shooters wished that series had stuck to its realistic roots. Well now Codemasters is bringing the Operation Flashpoint series to consoles with Dragon Rising, and while it won’t be a hardcore sim by any stretch of the imagination, a playtest of the game at E3 today revealed that it isn’t sending realism on a vacation, either.

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising E3 2009 Trailer

 

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising E3 Trailer »



The game is set in May of 2011 on the island of Skira, which is off the coast of Russia and China. In fact, it had been a Russian territory until they struck oil, which prompted the Chinese to invade. So the Russian’s have asked the U.S. for some tactical support.

Which officially makes this the most outlandish game at E3 2009.

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Homefront Preview

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Posted June 5, 2009 - By Paul Semel

Homefront Preview

While some pundits, and the creators of South Park, view Kim Jong-il, the leader of North Korea to be a puppet-like bumbling fool, others view him as a clear and present danger to the United States and its allies.

Clearly, the guys at KAOS Studios are among the latter camp (or they just think it makes an interest premise) because they’re making Homefront, a first-person shooter for THQ in which Korea has taken over the United States.

Set in 2027, a few years after the Korean occupation began, the game casts you as a resistance fighter who has to travel from Colorado to San Francisco. Though, at least in the part of the game we saw, this isn’t as easy as just taking the train. Still recovering from some unknown injury — well, unknown to us; this level is early in the game, but it was all we saw — you have to jump into the fray when the Korean’s attack your settlement.

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When the original Just Cause came out in 2006, it was a true guilty pleasure, an open-world third-person shooter that tossed reality to the wind like so many ’80s action flicks. Now a sequel is being readied for release by Eidos next year on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, and if our look at the game today at E3 showed us anything, Just Cause 2 looks like it’s going to be an even guiltier pleasure.

Cribbing from Apocalypse Now, the game has you — reprising your role as CIA black ops specialist Rico Rodriguez — heading to the fictional Southeast Asian Island of Panau, where you have to take out Tom Sheldon, who was your friend and handler in the original game. This is not going to be easy, though, since Panau is a lot bigger than the island of San Esperito, the original game’s setting.

Just Cause 2 E3 2009 Trailer

Just Cause 2 E3 Trailer »


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DiRT 2 Preview

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Posted June 5, 2009 - By Paul Semel






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It may not be called DiRT 2: Electric Boogaloo, but for fans of realistic offroad racing games, there is something electrifying about this upcoming driving game from Codemasters. Slated to be released this September on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP, Wii, DS, and PC, the game is promising to offer more of the great road-less racing driving fans got in the original.

Taking the wheel of the 360 version, we took a rally car for a drive around a muddy track the team made up on the streets of Shibuya, Japan, complete with a jump you won’t want to miss, especially if you’re not wearing your seatbelt. We also drove a course in Croatia that had us driving the streets of a mountainside village, as well as one they also built in and around London’s Battersea Power Station, which is best known in the U.S. for being where Pink Floyd shot the cover to their 1977 album Animals (hence our request that they include an achievement for winning an event there called “Pigs On The Wing 1”).

DiRT 2 E3 2009 Trailer

DiRT 2 E3 Trailer »


In each of these, we found the controls to be tight and responsive, though decidedly leaning more along the lines of a sim than an arcade racer. It’s not totally sim-ish, but the game is certainly not an arcade racer. This was especially evident when we drove a trophy truck around the Baja course, and we spun around more than an Olympic ice skater in the semi-finals. But if you play a lot of sim-style racing games, you probably won’t have as much trouble with it as we did. Though even we got better with it after a couple of tries. And a Snicker’s bar. 

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TMNT Smash-Up E3 2009 Preview

Given the fanfare with which it was greeted, you’d think more game companies would be developing their own version of Nintendo’s cartoonish brawler Super Smash Bros. Brawl. We just didn’t expect the first one to star those heroes on a half-shell, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But while it seems like Smash-Up, which is slated for release by Ubisoft this September on the Wii, won’t be as deep as Super Smash Bros., from what we saw and played at a recent Ubisoft event in Los Angeles, this brawler does look like it’ll be fun for fans of these young adult-aged, genetically-altered, martial arts-trained amphibians.

Like Super Smash Bros., Smash-Up is an arcade-style 2D fighter. Accommodating up to four players, fights can be 1-on-1, 2-on-2, or even 3-on-1 if you’re feeling especially brave. You can even battle 1-on-1-on-1 or 1-on-1-on-1-on-1. All the expected characters will be playable, be they one of the turtles or such ancillary characters as April, Splinter, or Shredder, while the arenas are fitting settings like your dojo, the sewers, or atop the skyline of Manhattan.

Battle arenas also multi-layered and multi-leveled, though rather than just let you jump from one to another, you’re sometimes forced to move by, for example, a sudden blast of water that shoots you from one area of the sewer to another.

There are even some environmental hazards to be found here, such as a rather large alligator who, mistaking you for the little kid that flushed him down the toilet when he stopped being so cute, jumps up and knocks you down.

Befitting such an arcadey game, there are the usual requisite power-ups to be grabbed, including some that will give you the ability to breathe fire or shoot electrical bolts, though you can actually turn these off before you start a bout if you like. Other variables are changeable before each match, so you can customize each fight to your advantage when your opponent isn’t looking. Which may not be fair since your opponent will probably be your own son, but he should’ve thought of that before he kicked your ass at this game eight matches in a row.

Admittedly, this doesn’t look as accomplished or as deep as Super Smash Bros., at least not yet. But for anyone who prefers Michelangelo to Mario, Donatello to Donkey Kong, or Splinter to Samus, Smash-Up might be the brawl to end it all... amphibiously-speaking.


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There’s something to be said for not getting your hopes up. Or not jumping to conclusions. And yet, when I saw that Ubisoft was making a new Heroes of Might and Magic game for the DS, I got excited that they were making a hack-and-slash action game set in a Tolkien-esque world where men are men, women are women, and orcs are orcs.

Man, was I wrong. Instead, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes — which Ubisoft is planning to release this August — is a strategic, puzzle-ish, role-playing game. This is not to say it’s going to be a bad strategic, puzzle-ish, role-playing game (or a good one for that matter), just that anyone hoping to button-mash some orcs better look elsewhere.

‘Might And Magic: Clash Of Heroes’ Preview ‘Might And Magic: Clash Of Heroes’ Preview

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C.O.P. The Recruit E3 09 Preview

When you consider that even Rockstar didn’t make Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on the DS as a 3D open-world game, it seems ambitious almost to the point of foolish for someone else to try it. But undeterred (or uninformed), Ubisoft is going to try anyway with C.O.P. The Recruit, a very GTA-ish cop drama for the DS.

In the game, you play as a former street racer turned undercover cop. As a result, you not only drive really fast around the city you’re supposed to be covertly protecting, but you also occasionally have to race bad guys as well. In other words, the game isn’t just cribbing from GTA, but from Need for Speed as well.

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Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood

At a recent Ubisoft press event held in Los Angeles, the company showed off a number of their upcoming titles, including the Wild West-themed first-person shooter Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, which is a prequel to the suffix-less Call of Juarez released two years ago.

However, because there was no one present from Techland, the Polish developers who are making the game — probably because they were trying to finish the game in time for its announced June 30th release — we were somewhat left to our own devices to figure the game out. Well, our devices and our ability to email a PR person later for a fact sheet.

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Rabbids Go Home

At a press event they held last Summer in San Francisco, Ubisoft thanked every journalist who came with a set of action figures of the Rabbids from the recent Rayman games. And while we journos normally pretend not to care about such things, we (and I do mean “we”) were so happy with our new toys that within moments people were already posing them for pictures (and no, not the kind you’re thinking of, you pervert).

Given their popularity, and not just among game journalists, it seems odd that it’s taken this long for the Rabbids to shake Rayman and get their own outing, but that’s what they’re doing with this action-adventure game, Rabbids Go Home, which is due out on the Wii this October.

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Wet Hands-On Preview

A few weeks ago, when we saw the stylish shooter Wet demoed at Bethesda’s event in London, we liked what we saw, but were left wondering how it would work. If you can go into slo-mo whenever you want, we thought, wouldn’t that make the game really, really easy? But after playing a bit of it at Bethesda’s booth during E3 today, we don’t think it will, making us that much more enthused about this game.

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