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BEYOND: Two Souls Tribeca Film Festival Preview Part 2 April 30, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Previews.
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At some point yesterday morning my younger cousin gave birth to a seven pound baby boy who just so happens to share my name. As I looked at the pictures of the healthy baby boy I was emailed by my mother I was reminded of everything I had witnessed this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival.

BEYOND: Two Souls follows the life of Jodie, played by Academy Award nominated actress Ellen Page. She was born with a deep spiritual connection to a ghost she refers to as Aiden.

This is Part 2 of a Two-Part preview from the Tribeca Film Festival.  If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can read it here.

Jodie and the homeless man who saved her life desperately run out to the supermarket to try to get the things they need to help their friend who is in labor.  However, it’s the middle of the night and the supermarket is locked up tight.  With no money and the market closed, the leader then admits he doesn’t actually have a plan and has no idea what to do.  In a truly sentimental moment, he exclaims to Jodie that he just wants the baby to have nice things like any other baby would expect to have.

Jodie says she has an idea and the player switches over to control Aiden.  Since Aiden is a ghost, he is able to pass right through the market’s walls, and manipulate some of the objects inside.  Jodie says there must be some kind of lock or switch that will open up the security gate, and the player focused on an alarm panel on one of the walls.  Aiden breaks the security panel and allows the two homeless people into the supermarket.

However, before they enter, Jodie gets a very bad feeling and asks Aiden to check the supermarket again.  Sure enough, after switching back to Aiden, we notice the security camera inside is still functioning, and the player makes Aiden destroy it.  With the security disabled and the camera destroyed, Jodie and her homeless friend take only what they need for the baby and are out of the market quick as a flash.  The older homeless man who was staying with them rushes into the scene to say that they were able to break into the abandoned building and everyone else is now over there waiting for them.  The scene fades as they follow him.

As the scene fades back in, the group has gotten back together in the abandoned building and the pregnant woman is deep into labor.  The baby is close and the woman could give birth any moment now.  She asks the men to leave and that Jodie stay with her.  Jodie admits she’s never delivered a baby before, but she was going to try her best.

At this point, it looked like the player had control of Jodie back, and we start to investigate the room.  Jodie turns on the heater so the room could warm up and make the woman more comfortable.  Then she walks over to the pregnant woman and a dialog begins as the woman enters her contractions.  Three dialog options present themselves, and now I know if I’m ever expected to play midwife in an emergency situation, my dialog options are to reassure the woman, then tell her to breathe, and then tell her to push.  In what has to be the first ever live birth scene in a video game, Jodie holds the homeless woman’s hand and talks her through it.  After some very tense moments, a healthy baby girl is born, and the new mother says she’s going to name her baby girl Zoey.  If you didn’t know you were looking at a video game at that very moment, you would think you were watching a baby show on Discovery Channel.

The two women and baby invite all the males back into the room, and none of them can hold back their excitement.  The baby is just perfect.  It’s a cute scene, and a really good payoff after all of the worries we’ve had in the previous scenes.  After all of that excitement, they all realize just how late it is, and decide to sleep in the building for the night, and the scene fades out.

Jodie wakes up in the middle of the night to the sight of her nightmares made real.  The building is on fire, and we have no idea why.  With Aiden’s help, she breaks the door down, and checks the other rooms if any of the other homeless people are trapped.  The player controls Jodie as she investigates the floor, and in the distance we hear cries for someone’s help.

The first person Jodie runs into is the leader, who is suffering from some smoke inhalation but is otherwise okay.  He says that someone else is on that floor, but more people, including the baby are up on the second floor.  He offers to go with her but Jodie says that she will get them all by herself and to get out of the building as fast as he can.  She checks the other end of the floor first before going upstairs.  The fire is raging hard, and the walls, ceilings, and floors are breaking all around her.  She checks another barricaded door and Jodie screams for Aiden to bust it down.  We see a controller shake prompt on the screen, and a wave of energy hits the door, breaking it.  The older man is on the other side of the room, and he tells Jodie that there are still others on the floor above them.  Jodie says that she will handle it and tells the man to get outside.

The staircase is barely together as Jodie climbs it to get to the next floor.  As she enters the room where the younger man is staying, we can see that there is a huge gap in the floor of the room between the door and the corner he is huddled in.  Jodie screams at him to jump the wide gap.  An Olympic jumper may be able to make this jump but he’s convinced he sure can’t, and he’s not going to try.  Jodie realizes he’s not going to move, and so she’s going to have to make him move.  The player switches control to Aiden, and at first we assume that Aiden is simply going to push the young man across the ledge.  Instead, Aiden takes over the man’s body.  A prompt comes up on the screen for the player to perform another controller shake very much in the same style interface as Heavy Rain, and the possessed man successfully jumps the gap over to Jodie.

No longer under Aiden’s possession, the young man then tells Jodie that the mother and her baby are in the next room, but the only way to get to them is through the window and across the ledge.  Jodie tells him to get outside and she’ll get them out safe.  Climbing out unto the ledge through the window, Jodie hangs on tight as she tries to get into the next room’s window.  Down below, we see the other members of the group are safe outside of the building, and they can only watch as Jodie enters the window for the room that the mother is trapped in with her baby.

Jodie gets into the room through the window to find the mother and her baby okay but completely trapped.  A jump from the window would be suicide and the only door out of the room is on fire, along with most of the floor around it.  Jodie tells the mother to trust her and to stay close.  Suddenly, a barrier of protection rose up to surround the three of them.  Now invulnerable, they are able to literally walk through the fire together.  It’s likely that Aiden possessed the ability to protect Jodie and anyone else in close enough proximity to her, and can make them invulnerable to harm for a short time.

Even though they’re able to make it through the fire into a safer area on the floor, they find themselves still backed into a corner.  With no way out, Jodie instructs Aiden to break the wall down.  We switch over to Aiden’s perspective and he does exactly that, punching a clear hole into the wall.  It’s not very big, but it’s big enough for the mother and her baby to escape.  Sadly, the building is becoming more and more unstable with every second, and Jodie is unable to follow.  With no other options, she heads for the window.  The jump would be fatal to any normal person, but Jodie can only hope that Aiden can somehow help her survive the fall.

For the second time in this preview, Jodie jumps.  Aiden’s power surrounds her, and her fall is slowed to help her to a soft landing.  At this point there is no missing or mistaking it, the homeless people saw firsthand that Jodie’s abilities are anything but natural.  However, they’re extremely grateful to be saved, and thank her.  As they shake off the smoke, one of the group members asks how the fire could have started.  Almost as if on cue, we find out.  The three college-aged jerks start beating on the group without any provocation.  One of them is holding a torch, saying that he said he would be back for them after the beating Jodie gave them earlier.  Too weak to fight back, Jodie is knocked to the ground just as the ambulance and paramedics arrive.

The camera pans up over Josie’s body as we hear the paramedics shouting orders at each other, the other homeless people huddled around her.  It’s almost as if we’re watching this scene from Aiden’s perspective.  The paramedic’s shout at each other they’re not getting a pulse, and the further up the camera pans, the brighter the screen turns, until finally the screen becomes completely white.

The screen then fades to black and the words To Be Continued… faded into the bottom of the screen.

And there you have it guys, thirty-five minutes of the game BEYOND: Two Souls, broken into two parts.  That’s nothing though.   The final version of the game promises to tell a complete story of Jodie’s life from when she is a very young girl up to when she becomes an adult.  David Cage confirmed the full game will be about ten hours in length, and the accompanied trailer announced an exclusive edition of the game will be available through GameStop, as well as exclusive DLC.

BEYOND: Two Souls is coming October 8th, 2013 exclusive to the Playstation 3.

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Watch Dogs Release Date April 30, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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The highly anticipated open world game Watch Dogs has a release date.

Originally previewed at E3 2012 to a stunned audience, Watch Dogs tells the story of Aiden Pearce, a hacker with the ability to manipulate the operating system that controls the entire city of Chicago for his own ends. He can investigate people’s bank transactions, hack security cameras, manipulate traffic and monitor phone calls. Oh and he can fight if he needs to.

Watch Dogs is coming November 19, 2013 to the PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii U. The game is also coming to next generation consoles, for example, the PS4.

BEYOND: Two Souls Tribeca Film Festival Preview Part 1 April 29, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Previews.
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At some point this morning my younger cousin gave birth to a seven pound baby boy who just so happens to share my name. As I looked at the pictures of the healthy baby boy I was emailed this morning by my mother I was reminded of everything I had witnessed this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival.

BEYOND: Two Souls follows the life of Jodie, played by Academy Award nominated actress Ellen Page. She was born with a deep spiritual connection to a ghost she refers to as Aiden.

The section of gameplay that we saw was called “Homeless.” At this point in the game, Jodie has lost everything. She has no family, no money, no food, and she is now forced to live on the streets. As the scene opened, the audience saw a familiar environment very similar to what was outside of the theater. An unnamed urban landscape covered in snow came up on the screen. A lone police car drove the snow covered streets as more snow fell from the sky. Personally, this opening reminded me of the environment to Quantic Dream’s 2005 hit, Indigo Prophecy (Faherenheit) more than anything. Alone, Jodie shambled through the cold, trying desperately to stay warm. From her appearance, she looked like she didn’t have much time left before she froze to death. Her movements were slow, as she desperately tried to hold on to her life.

She makes her way to a lone payphone on the sidewalk, picks up the receiver and began to dial. She never says who she is calling, but it is quite clear that Willem Dafoe’s voice was on the other end. Previous material announced Willem Dafoe plays Nathan Dawkins, the scientist who has followed Jodie’s mysterious case since she was a small girl. Jodie says very little on the phone, but mentions that she didn’t have much time left. On the other end we can hear Nathan pleading for Jodie to tell him where she is so he could go get her and bring her somewhere safe. She hangs up the phone and collapses a few seconds later.

The player then took control of Aiden, and started to investigate the area around Jodie. In an alleyway near where Jodie collapsed, a single homeless man was investigating a dumpster for food and supplies. Suddenly, the player made Aiden blast some of the adjacent trash cans, getting the homeless man’s attention. The homeless man then started to investigate the area to see what could have knocked the trash cans over, and as he walked out of the alley he saw Jodie’s lifeless body. Immediately he rushes to pick her up and the scene fades out.

As the scene fades back in, we see brief flashes of Jodie’s nightmares. We see fire, and hear someone in the distance screaming for her to jump! We don’t know if these could simply be some of Jodie’s fears of perhaps visions of the future. As she wakes up, the homeless man who saved her offers her some coffee he made. He explains that she had passed out and he had brought her to his shelter. He seems like a genuinely nice person who looks out for other homeless people like himself. He asks her some questions, and the player can choose to answer or evade them however they wish.

After the conversation, Jodie looks free to investigate the area. In the distance, there look to be other homeless people seeking shelter there as well, but the player doesn’t instruct Jodie to talk to them right now. Instead, Jodie sees a blinding light coming from outside, and walks over to investigate it.

The player walks Jodie out from under the bridge and into the blinding light outside. We see that the shelter is located under a bridge several stories above a busy highway. If she were to fall, it would be quite deadly, if not from the drop, then from the cars that surely would not be able to stop or get out of the way in time. The player is then prompted to either jump or to back away from the ledge. The player chose to jump.

Jodie leans forward, but as she starts to drop an invisible force stops her fall. It is obvious that Aiden does not want her to die. In a scene that Ellen Page should win this year’s Academy Award for, Jodie pleads with Aiden to let her die. She says she has nothing, no food, no money, no family, and as she bursts into tears she says all she wants is to end it. As she backs away from the ledge, the homeless man who saved her steps outside to inform her that they ran out of food. We don’t know if he saw what happened on the ledge or not, but it is highly unlikely that he did. He then asks her to go with him so “she can see how things work around here”. With nothing else to do, Jodie goes with him.

As Jodie and the homeless group’s leader start to walk the streets, he explains to her that they need to make five dollars. That would be enough money to buy food and whatever else they would need for now. He sits down on a spot on the corner next to a cup, and Jodie sits next to him. It looks like they’re going to panhandle for money. Jodie asks how long it normally takes to make five dollars and he says depending on people’s charity it could be a few hours or a week. You can talk with him more if you like, but the player decided to get up and try panhandling from a different spot.

Jodie walks down the street a bit more, and we are presented with different options Jodie has to make money. As she walks past an alleyway, a very sleazy looking guy offers her ten dollars for her company. The player is presented with the option to accept his offer, but the player turned him down, and Jodie walked away from the disgusting offer. Jodie walks past another possible panhandling spot, this one near an ATM station, but the player chose to keep going further down the road.

Down the block, another homeless guy is also trying to panhandle, only he happens to be doing it with a guitar by his side. She asks him if he can play, and he says that sadly its far too cold and his hands are too numb to play. She asks if she can borrow his guitar for a bit, and he says that’s fine. She picks up the guitar, and starts to play. In one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen in a video game, Jodie plays the guitar and sings a beautiful song by Beck as onlookers pass by. As the song continues, the day fades into night, showing time is passing by in the background but the song continues uninterrupted. The song finishes, and Jodie’s made fifteen dollars. During the Q&A session after the demo, David Cage was asked about this scene, and he said that it was just something that he had come up with when talking to Ellen. They motion captured her playing David Cage’s own guitar while singing all in one take.

Fifteen dollars in hand, the homeless group’s leader heads into the supermarket to buy food. As he goes in, Jodie stands across the street to keep watch. As he comes out, we can hear some pretty nasty voices taunting him. Not wanting any harm to come to him, Jodie rushes across the street to investigate. Three college aged men, one of them holding a video camera, are beating the homeless man and videotaping themselves doing it. She warns them to back off, but they’re not intimidated by this young girl and attempt to attack her.

We quickly find out that Jodie is no pushover. It may be combat training, the assistance of Aiden, or some other kind of supernatural or purely explainable reason, but Jodie kicks their asses. As each of the young men attacked Jodie, the screen slowly turned to black and white and slowed down for a brief second. This was not explained in the preview, but looked to be some kind of player prompt to intervene. From the looks of it, if the prompt was responded to quickly enough, Jodie would deflect, block or counterattack. If the player missed, the screen flashed red for a brief second, indicating Jodie may be taking some damage. While the game’s interface looked very similar to Heavy Rain’s in a lot of ways, this kind of combat sequence was not used in Heavy Rain, and as such I cannot fully explain how I think it works.

The college boys run off, taking their video camera with them. Jodie picks up her friend, who has a few bruises on his face, but is alive. They pick up their food and head back to the bridge, where the homeless group enjoys their food together. This is the first time we’re introduced to some of the other people staying under the bridge with them. One of them is a young man who has been staying with them for a few months. Another is an older gentleman, who has been homeless for several years. Finally, we meet a young pregnant woman. Her boyfriend would beat her, and she ran away from him because she was concerned for the life of her baby. They ask Jodie about her life, and the player chooses that Jodie will tell them about her gift. She doesn’t go into specifics, except to say that she’s special, but that she really feels like a freak. The group doesn’t read too much into it, thinking that maybe she may have had a bit too much to drink.

The pregnant woman says she should be due any day now, but she’s concerned because the baby hasn’t been kicking in a few days. Jodie says that she can check on the baby if she’d like, and the player switches over the Aiden to investigate the woman’s tummy. As Aiden investigates, we can hear what sounds like the echo of the baby’s heartbeat. The player switches back to Jodie and she tells the pregnant woman that her baby is fine. The group goes to bed.

Jodie wakes up to the sounds of screaming, the woman is in labor. Waking up, the group checks on the woman, and quickly realize that they don’t have the facilities for her to give birth in. They have no blankets, diapers or even hot water. One of the group members says they should take her to a hospital, but the pregnant woman screams out, “No, no hospital. I’m afraid they’re going to take my baby from me.” The leader tells the young man that there is an abandoned building not far from there, and to break into it however he can. He then says that he has a plan and he asks Jodie to come with him.

And that wraps up Part 1 of this preview of BEYOND: Two Souls. Stay tuned to the site for Part 2!

BEYOND: Two Souls is coming October 8th, 2013 exclusive to the Playstation 3.

BEYOND: Two Souls Tribeca Film Festival Trailer April 28, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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For those of you unable to check out the BEYOND: Two Souls preview at the Tribeca Film Festival yesterday, here’s the game trailer which premiered at the event!

Expect a full preview of the game from that event on the site soon!

BEYOND: Two Souls is coming October 8th, 2013 exclusive to the Playstation 3.

Wii U Virtual Console and Panorama View Launched April 28, 2013

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Less than a day after the Wii U released Firmware Update 3.0, which brought all of the promised performance improvements to the Wii U’s operating system, Nintendo updated the Wii U’s eShop, launching the Virtual Console and Wii Panorama View.

The launch titles for the Wii U Virtual Console include Super Mario World, Excitebike, Ice Climbers, and Donkey Kong Jr.  The games are fully compliant with the Wii U controller, and will support controller-only play.  They also share a feature the Virtual Console on the 3DS supports, which is the ability to create a save state for your game.  The games range in price from $5-$9 US.  If you have already purchased any of these games on the Wii, the games will be automatically discounted at purchase, so long as you transferred all of your Wii’s data to the Wii U.

Nintendo has also released the first Wii Panorama View videos.  Panorama View allows you to watch a video in a full 360 degree view using the Wii U controller.  You can currently purchase videos which depict the flight of an ultralight aircraft, the view from a double-decker bus in England, and a sightseeing tour of Kyoto.  If you’d like to demo Wii Panorama View, there is a free demo available which includes clips from several of the videos which have been released.  Each Wii Panorama View video is sold separately for $2 US a piece.

BEYOND: Two Souls Preview Tomorrow at Tribeca Film Festival April 26, 2013

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Sony’s Playstation Blog has announced that a two-hour preview event for BEYOND: Two Souls, a major PS3 exclusive release, is going to take place Saturday, April 29th, 2013 at the Tribeca Film Festival. This is where the developers plan to premiere the game’s newest trailer and show a 35 minute gameplay demo, which they say will avoid major spoilers. Afterwards, a Q&A will take place with the game’s director David Cage, lead actress Ellen Page, and supporting cast members Kadeem Hardison and Eric Winter.

At the time of this writing, tickets are still available for people who would like to attend in person, and they can be purchased here. The event will also be streamed online through the Playstation Blog, Playstation Home, and the Playstation Facebook page. Those unable to attend can watch the live feed on this site.

BEYOND: Two Souls is coming October 2013 exclusive to the Playstation 3.

Playstation 3 Firmware 4.41 Released April 26, 2013

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PS3 owners should start firing up their consoles and clicking over to the software update feature on the XMB because Sony has released Firmware 4.41 for the Playstation 3.  No patch notes were supplied with the update but it has been reported that the new firmware includes some bug fixes and other behind the scenes improvements.

The new firmware is required for players to access to the Playstation Network.

Wii U Firmware 3.0 Released April 25, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Wii U owners frustrated with the operating system’s long load times can breathe a sigh of relief tonight as Nintendo has just released firmware version 3.0 for the Wii U.

The update will start automatically the next time you fire up your Wii U. Once it’s finished downloading in the background, you can start it from the download menu. Just press the Home button on the Wii U controller to check the download’s progress. Or you could just start a manual update from the Settings menu. The download should take around 30 minutes, and about five more for the installation.

The update does more than just improve load times for the Wii U’s operating system, it adds the ability for the Wii U to download and install system updates while turned off. If you want to enable this feature, the system will prompt you about it after the update is finished and the system restarts.

Batman Games Podcast April 25, 2013

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The GameXcess.net podcast is back, and this time we’re going to be talking about a very long standing licensed franchise, Batman. The Caped Crusader has inspired many games over the years, and finally hit its stride with the Arkham games by Rocksteady and WB Games.

Maniac discusses the history of The Dark Knight’s video games. In it we discuss his comic book origins, some of the early games he appeared in, and finally the story of the Arkham series we all know and love.

Stay tuned next time for our Bioshock podcast, coming soon, same bat website!

Miiverse is now on the Web April 25, 2013

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Fans of the Miiverse can rejoice today!  Nintendo has officially announced that Miiverse can now be accessed on the World Wide Web through your web browser or smartphone of choice, with no need for a Wii U.

Miiverse is the Wii U’s official social platform.  It allows Wii U owners with Nintendo Network accounts to post their thoughts through either text or art in various different Nintendo communities.  They can talk about current and future Wii U games, or join special communities with a more general focus where you can discuss things ranging from The Legend of Zelda to The Year of Luigi.

Currently, the online Miiverse is in beta.  Only people with a Nintendo Network account can access it, and you can only sign up for a Nintendo Network account through a Wii U.  So from the looks of it, this is going to be Wii U owners only for right now.  Existing Wii U owners with a Nintendo Network account can check it out right now from their web browser or smartphone at miiverse.nintendo.net!

Nintendo has previously announced a native smartphone app for Miiverse is coming in the future.