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Halo 5: Guardians Opening Cinematic August 31, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Without being clear with what specifically they were planning to show, Microsoft and 343 Industries have been teasing new footage from Halo 5: Guardians was going to be released in the past 24 hours.  There is no exclusive game coming to the Xbox One this year that is more anticipated than the next Halo game and we have just discovered that Microsoft has chosen to premiere the game’s opening cinematic tonight, just shy of two months before the game is scheduled to launch.

With all the apps and services Microsoft has at their fingertips, you would think they would choose to premiere tonight’s content on the Halo Channel or The Official Xbox YouTube Channel, but for some reason that completely escapes me Microsoft chose to premiere this game footage on Buzzfeed.  Regardless, it looks incredible. Enjoy.

Halo 5: Guardians is coming October 2015 exclusively on Xbox One.


Final Fantasy XV Driving Demonstration August 31, 2015

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At PAX Prime 2015, Final Fantasy fans got a great look at what driving is going to be like when Final Fantasy XV gets released next year.

I spent a year living in Southern California, and while I didn’t have a car during that time, I have fond memories of cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway with my family and friends. Somehow, watching this footage brought me back over ten years into the past, and I felt like I was back again. Take a look for yourselves.

Final Fantasy XV is coming in 2016 to Xbox One and PS4.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Release Date August 31, 2015

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The most anticipated upcoming game for the PS4 finally has a release date!

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, the fifth game released in the amazing Uncharted franchise is coming next year.  The game will be released alongside two collectors editions, and you can read the details about all of them as well as what content retailers will be offering to anyone who preorders the game on the official Playstation.Blog.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is coming March 18th, 2016 exclusively to the Playstation 4.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Launch Trailer August 31, 2015

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A game that people have been waiting years to play, and may be the final Metal Gear game which series creator Hideo Kojima had any involvement with, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is going to be released tomorrow. To celebrate, here’s the game’s official launch trailer.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is coming September 1st, 2015 to the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and PC.

Final Fantasy XV is Coming in 2016 August 30, 2015

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Last night at PAX Prime 2015 the team at Square Enix confirmed that Final Fantasy XV, a game originally titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII, will be getting released next year.

If you’d like to see the highlights of what was shown at PAX Prime, take a look at this Active Time Report snap shot.

Or you can watch the entire Active Time Report here.

Not a definite enough release date for you?  Don’t worry. Square Enix says they’ll be able to announce an exact release date in March 2016.

Final Fantasy XV is coming in 2016 to the Xbox One and PS4.

FAIL: Why Haven’t There Been Sequels to Who Framed Roger Rabbit August 28, 2015

Posted by Maniac in FAIL, Site Videos.
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FAIL is back, and it’s back in a big way.  For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it’s a chance for us to take a look at Hollywood’s biggest failures, both on the screen and behind the camera.

After already speaking about popular franchises like Superman and The Terminator, Maniac has now set his sights on something a little more personal.  After being inspired by YouTube creator The Dom and his fantastic series Lost in Adaptation, Maniac decided to set his sights on one of his favorite films of all time, the 1989 classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  When it was released it was one of the most groundbreaking and successful films of all time, and yet in all the years since its release it never received a sequel.

Turns out there’s a very complicated reason why.So sit back and relax as Maniac gets to the bottom of why Disney never produced another Roger Rabbit movie even though scripts were made, money was set aside, and the actors were willing to come back.  Prepare yourselves to hear a story of Hollywood at its worst.

A Remedy Fan’s Speculation on How Quantum Break’s TV Series Should Be Presented (Part 3: Controls) August 26, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Welcome back to our ongoing essay series where we are speculating about the upcoming Xbox One title, Quantum Break.  The game is being developed by Remedy, the developers of Max Payne, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne and Alan Wake.  You may remember those titles because of their in-depth stories, something that Remedy has routinely delivered for over the past decade.  Now, Quantum Break looks to completely evolve storytelling in a way that games have not dared before, by including a live-action television series which will be fully integrated into the game’s story.

We’ve already discussed the technical issues with creating such a groundbreaking title and shared some of our ideas on how to best present this series to players, but if I may be completely honest there is something that I’ve neglected to bring up until this point and that is control.  How do you best control these sequences?  At this point, there’s so little information available to us and very little precedent I can use for possible examples that control may very well be the hardest thing for me to write about.

Once again I have to remind you all that this article will be written entirely upon my own speculations based on my experiences playing other titles. Under no circumstances do I believe Remedy needs to take any of my recommendations as a mandate, because for all I know, they could come up with different ideas that are better than mine by the time the game is released next year.  This article will strictly focus on what we’ve seen work and not work in other games, and we will name those titles when applicable.

In order for me to tell you my perspective on video game cinematics, I need to tell you this personal story about myself.  In early 2000, I asked my parents for an original PlayStation just so I could play the first Metal Gear Solid on my birthday, and it became one of my favorite games of all time.  A brief time later, Konami announced that they were making a sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty exclusively for the PlayStation 2.  When it came out in November 2001, a brand-new PS2 cost $299 US, something that neither my parents nor myself could afford, so I ended up playing through the game over at my cousin’s house during the times my family visited their house between Christmas and New Year’s.

As I’m sure you know, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has some of the longest story segments in video game history, and the player’s only option to interact with the game during these sequences is to either watch or skip them.  For someone who was an enormous fan of Metal Gear Solid, skipping the cutscenes on my first play through was not an option.  For a person watching these extremely long cutscenes while his family is constantly trying to get his attention to do other tasks like eat or leave, this was difficult.  Nevertheless, I got through the game and was eventually able to get it myself at a later date.

Why bring up Metal Gear Solid when we are talking about a completely different game from a completely different developer made for a completely different platform?  Well, one might argue that if Remedy intends to integrate episodes from the series directly into the game’s presentation, you could think of Quantum Break’s live-action television episodes as a long cutscene, and because of that we could draw some inspiration from games known for their long cutscenes, like Metal Gear Solid.  While I didn’t think I would need a rewind feature while I was gaming, I can’t say how many times I wished I could pause MGS2‘s cutscenes, so I could eat or use the bathroom without having to wait for the scene to end.  Thankfully, times have changed and newer games with lengthy cutscenes will allow you to pause them, like Final Fantasy XIII.  Heck, Kojima added a pause feature for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, something I and my brother-in-law greatly appreciated.

We don’t have to limit our inspiration from just video games, We could also draw inspiration from the ways people can interact with their television shows nowadays.  Since the days of DVD, anyone can binge watch a series of their choice, and have the ability to select any episode, pause, rewind, fast-forward, or skip to their heart’s content.  In the past fifteen years, all that’s changed about this ability is the medium the content has been presented to us whether it be through DVD, Blu-Ray Disc (BD), Digital Video Recorder (DVR), Video On-Demand (VOD), or online streaming services like Netflix.  Now in 2015, consumers expect this bare minimum of functionality when watching television, and this could provide a great benefit if it is brought to Quantum Break.  I think that at bare minimum people are going to want to know if the TV series even be skipped or they may end up calling up the guys over at The Escapist, as someone who would love the chance to rewatch these scenes after I’ve unlocked them I would hope for a lot more.

So, let’s say that we get all of the functionality to control these sequences that we could imagine, including the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward the game’s television episodes after they’ve been unlocked, how do we control them?  Actually, there’s more options than you’d think, and we’re going to talk about each of them.

Let’s start off with the most obvious option players will have right away, and that is the Xbox One controller.  The Xbox One’s controller is the most obvious option because controllers have been tried and tested to work the best when it comes to video games, and the best part is they have the benefit of you being guaranteed to have one.  A typical Xbox One controller has two analog sticks, several interface buttons, two trigger buttons, and two bumpers.  That is more than enough to navigate through any video, but could other options work better?  There’s a big debate about that.  Some studios have tried to replace the controller, or “improve” it through features like motion control, microphones, or touch screens, but many have argued over the years that the controller is perfect the way it is and nothing could ever replace it.  Next, we’ll talk about some things that could replace it.

If you bought the Xbox One within the first year of its release, you found an optional peripheral included with it which was intended to greatly improve your Xbox One gaming experience, the Kinect.  On it’s face, including the Kinect with all Xbox One units sounded like a great idea, because there was a lot that Microsoft and Xbox developers could do with it.  To improve Xbox One navigation, Microsoft implemented Kinect voice and gesture commands so players could easily launch their games, stream their content online, or save video content to the console’s internal DVR.  Why bother searching for a remote when you can simply say, “Xbox, Pause” to your television, or tell it to go to a specific channel?  If you’re like me and were interested in watching an episode of the Quantum Break series with friends, it would be more convenient to implement voice commands, than to constantly have to look for wherever you left the controller.  It’s also pretty useful for quickly navigating menus, doing gesture commands with the controller, and handling the Xbox One’s dashboard.  I don’t think I need to remind you all that Quantum Break was in development during the time that Microsoft was planning to offer a Kinect with every Xbox One system they sold, and Remedy did post job offers for Kinect experienced developers.  It would be likely to assume that Quantum Break could have SOME Kinect functionality in it, but due to the poor reception of the peripheral, I think many developers are going to try and distance themselves from it.

The next option I wanted to talk about is something you may not even consider a controller, your personal digital device.  That’s right, your SmartPhone or Tablet, regardless of who made it, can be used to interface with the Xbox One through the dedicated Xbox One SmartGlass app.  Games like Dead Rising 3 have used SmartGlass to great effect. If used right, it enhances the game experience, and adds another layer of depth to gameplay.  There’s no limit to what you could do in Quantum Break with a SmartGlass component and it would work very well for players who preferred to control the game or watch the series from a touchscreen.

If you don’t want to use SmartGlass, I mentioned in a previous article that Remedy has several mobile programmers on staff, so it isn’t unreasonable to assume Remedy could create a dedicated app for portable devices that could work as a remote.  Other games like Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes are compatible with a dedicated third party mobile app, so we know that Microsoft will allow non Microsoft programmed apps to connect with the console.  Pause, rewind, stop and fast-forward buttons are trivial to design on a touch screen, and for those who prefer tactile feedback, they could always add a vibration or sound effect every time the user inputs a command.  I would love to see this feature in action.

However they choose to present this groundbreaking series, I’m sure the experts at Remedy will do it right. Until then, you can expect plenty more Quantum Break coverage on this site as new information is revealed.  Hope you enjoyed the series and if you had any ideas you’d like to share feel free to post a comment below.

Quantum Break is coming April 2016 exclusively on the Xbox One.

Until Dawn Launch Trailer August 25, 2015

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A horror game I have been waiting years to play has finally been released and to celebrate the launch of this unique game, Sony created this brand new trailer. Enjoy.

Until Dawn is out now exclusively on PS4.

Console War VI Part 1 August 25, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Console War, Histories.
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In 2011, Nintendo would be the first to enter a new generation of console war.  Fueled by the tremendous success of the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, Nintendo was ready to take another gamble to try to repeat the unbelievable success of the Nintendo Wii.  They planned to create a low powered reasonably priced console which would reinvent the controller in a way that only they were capable of.  Taking inspiration from their successful handheld lineup, and the increasing popularity of personal tablet computers, Nintendo created a console based entirely around a controller equipped with both motion controls…and a touchscreen capable of displaying its own video feed.  The Nintendo Wii U was officially announced at E3 2011 to incredible fanfare, and a wide variety of first and third party games Nintendo was preparing for the console’s launch.

Sony and Microsoft said nothing about the Wii U’s announcement, and they were not concerned about Nintendo launching the next console war first.  They knew their consoles would have at least one more year in the market before they would be considered technically obsolete and they were not ready to reveal what they were working on just yet.  The mainstream gaming press gave Nintendo a lot of positive praise for the Wii U, but many were wary.  The console’s graphics were basically on par with what the Xbox 360 and PS3 were already capable of, and without the tablet controller, the Wii U was essentially a high-definition capable Wii.  The Nintendo Wii U launched at the end of 2012 with a pretty impressive series of launch games including Super Mario Bros UBatman: Arkham City Armored Edition, and the most anticipated third party game in the Wii U’s lineup, ZombiU,  To best show off the system’s capabilities, Nintendo bundled the game Nintendo Land with every premium black Wii U model sold, hoping that it would bring the same success that bundling Wii Sports with every Wii brought.

Wii U sales were slow, but the system gained a loyal following.  People who did buy the system opted to only buy the premium black model, so Nintendo eventually eliminated manufacturing the cheaper white model.  Reviews for the system ranged all over the place, while players loved Nintendo Land and ZombiU, most felt that the games alone did not merit the console’s purchase, even though it was compatible with every Wii game and allowed players to transfer all their save games, Miis and digital purchases from their Wii to the Wii U.  Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft continued to promote their current platforms but remained tight lipped if they had any plans to replace the PS3 or Xbox 360 with new consoles.  Christmas 2012 would be dominated by the Wii U, but would it be alone for long?

In February 2013, Sony announced their successor to the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation 4.  They had no demo unit available to show the press, only a controller, a 3D camera, and a very select amount of games.  The PS4’s architecture would be a complete 180 from what the PlayStation 3 used, making it completely incompatible with any PS1, PS2 or PS3 game.  In fact, most of the system’s presentation revolved around Sony’s plans to offer a game streaming service based on Dave Perry’s Gakai service.  After the platform’s creator unveiled some of the system’s major features, including an impressive standby feature, several games were shown including a racing game called DriveClub, as well as new entries in the Killzone and inFAMOUS franchises.  Third party developers like Ubisoft also demoed their upcoming games on the PS4, and showed Watch Dogs would be coming to the platform.

After the presentation concluded, PS4 buzz began almost immediately.  It was undoubtedly a powerful system, but there were still a lot of questions about it.  Since Sony had not included a mock up of what the console was going to look like at its initial presentation and spent so much time going on about the console’s streaming services, players did not know if the PS4 would even include a disc drive until after Sony released the system’s specification sheet.  Also, the lack of backwards compatibility was an issue, especially since Sony was planning to sell new PS3 and PS4 titles over the next year, and Nintendo was able to offer Wii compatibility with the Wii U.  However, the console’s specifications impressed and the games looked incredible.

After Sony’s PS4 announcement wrapped, all eyes were on Microsoft to announce their successor to the Xbox 360.  Microsoft would announce their next Xbox console a few months later.  At the announcement event, Microsoft unveiled what their next console would look like and it’s name, the Xbox One…which happened to be the exact same thing most of the mainstream was already calling the first Xbox console since the Xbox 360 launched.  To show the audience how revolutionary their new console was, they showed a clip from the popular game show The Price is Right to show the world their console could stream regular television feeds by connecting with mainstream cable/satellite provider’s set-top boxes!  That’s right, Microsoft was showing how revolutionary their next generation console was by demoing gimmick features nobody would make use of.  They also announced a new Halo TV series was in development with the help of Steven Spielberg, but to this day absolutely nothing has come of that project.  The first game that was shown on the system was Remedy’s Quantum Break, a game which has not been released at the time of this writing, but still remains my most anticipated Xbox One game.

To cap the presentation off, Microsoft announced that every Xbox One sold would come bundled with its own brand-new Kinect camera which would enable full voice control, motion tracking, and video streaming.  When Microsoft launched the first Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360 in 2010 a lot of people thought that it had a lot of potential, but most game developers were not willing to develop games for such an expensive optional accessory.  Now that Microsoft was planning to bundle new Kinect units with every Xbox One sold developers could take full advantage of everything the Kinect added to the platform.

The Xbox One impressed a few but a lot of people remained skeptical.  With the exception of Quantum Break’s showing, most of the time Microsoft spent unveiling their next generation games console was used to talk about everything the system could do but play games. Also, most of the mainstream press had a bad feeling about the things Microsoft was not saying about the new system.  The Xbox 360’s Kinect was revolutionary when it was released, but anyone who had one knew it was too unreliable to work as well as a controller did.  Plus, with the improved camera, a lot of people expressed major privacy concerns with what they considered should have been an optional accessory.  However, the biggest concern the mainstream media would have about the new platform was how it would handle used and traded game sales.  Several media outlets had heard musings that the Xbox One would deny playability to all resold, rented or traded games, one of the most anti-consumer practices that any game developer could have engaged in.  On video, Microsoft spokespeople denied these claims, but officially Microsoft had planned for the Xbox One to be one of the most anti-consumer consoles in gaming history.

With the last two major console announcements out of the way, all eyes were on E3 2013.  There was no doubt that Microsoft, Sony, and third party publishers would be showing off more games for the Xbox One and PS4.  Microsoft struck first, announcing tons of exclusive titles would be coming to the Xbox One including LocoCycleKiller Instinct, Dead Rising 3, D4, Forza Motorsport 5, and the next main Halo game.  As the show concluded, they announced the Xbox One’s price, $499 US, and said all systems would include a controller, headset, 500GB internal Hard Drive and a Kinect.  However, Microsoft said nothing about how the system would handle its games or how disc purchases would be handled by the system.  Even after the show wrapped, many were still extremely concerned that the Xbox One would not be usable for players who lacked an internet connection, and that game rentals and used resales would be impossible on the system due to heavy anti-consumer copy protection.

A few hours later, Sony took the stage to show the final version of the PS4 and several of the games that consumers would be able to play day one.  Most of the games shown were multiplatform titles and sadly, Sony had no God of War or Uncharted game to show.  However, near the end of the presentation Sony had a moment that most of the mainstream press considered one of the greatest moments in the history of E3, a “drop the mic” moment if you will.  Sony’s executives made it crystal clear in plain English that the PS4 would ship with absolutely no anti-consumer copy protection and have no problem playing borrowed, resold, and rented game discs.  The system’s final price would be $399 US, a hundred dollars cheaper than the Xbox One’s.  The crowd exploded, and preorders for the PS4 in the US went crazy that night.

Nintendo was the last to present, and they showed off a library of upcoming games for the Wii U including Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, and a Wii U remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.  It impressed Nintendo’s loyalists, but Wii U sales had been slumping and many were concerned that these games would not improve the Wii U’s sales.

After the E3 show concluded, both Sony and Microsoft started looking at their preorder numbers.  Sony was happy, Microsoft was not.  Oddly enough, Microsoft’s anti-consumer plans for the Xbox One were not resonating with consumers, and the lower price and solid titles offered by the PS4 was more than enough to earn gamers’ trust.  Fearing their own decisions would make them lose the console war before it even stared, Microsoft scrambled their PR teams to try to fix this debacle before the console’s launch, and they made a public announcement to all of their dedicated retailers that they were changing course with their plans and removing the online requirements and rented/resold/borrowed game restrictions of the Xbox One.  The console would have an initial online activation requirement at launch (similar to how a SmartPhone has to get activated in a store before you can take it home with you), but that would be all.  Many consumers, myself included, breathed a sigh of relief over this announcement, but the news was considered too little too late for many who simply didn’t trust Microsoft and had already planned to buy a PS4.

Fall 2013 came around, and the battle was about to start.  The PS4 launched first and quickly sold out its initial allotment.  Demand for the console was so high many were turned away with their money still in their pockets.  Even though it had no backwards compatibility, few exclusive titles, and a launch lineup of games you could likely get for other systems, new PS4s would not stay on retail shelves for long.  When asked why most players were interested in the system, the mainstream consumer listed price and technical capabilities as their primary reasons for buying a PS4.  They believed the multiplatform games looked and ran better on PS4, and for $399 US, the price was right.

Microsoft launched the Xbox One with a Kinect, a huge lineup of exclusive titles for download and retail release, and a $499 price tag.  Aside from a huge market for people who purchased the Day One edition of the console, any non-Day One Xbox One system sat on shelves to collect dust.  The peripheral that Microsoft felt would give the Xbox One a huge leap over Sony’s PlayStation 4 console became every conspiracy theorist’s whipping boy.  Even though Microsoft had reversed their decision to restrict used game sales and require a persistent online connection to play their games, privacy concerns over the Kinect sensor became the reason many gamers refused to pick up the console.  In contrast, Sony’s console was such a hot seller consumers wouldn’t be able to find it on shelves for another three or four months,  By E3 2014, Microsoft backtracked on their decision to bundle the Kinect with the Xbox One, and announced the Xbox One would be sold without a Kinect for a price of $399 US.

What came of this decision and how did this effect the Console War?  You’ll have to read that next time!

Pokkén Tournament Announced for the Wii U August 21, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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The Pokémon Company kicked off this year’s Pokémon World Championships with a big announcement, the Japanese arcade game Pokkén Tournament is coming to home consoles next year!

Pokkén Tournament is an arcade fighting game developed by the creators of TEKKEN featuring many of the characters from the Pokémon franchise.  Before today, it was believed that Pokkén Tournament would never be released outside of Japan. Now we know that the international community will not only be able to play it, they’ll be able to play it on the Wii U. Take a look.

Pokkén Tournament is coming Spring 2016 exclusively to the Wii U.