Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Director Has a Sequel in Mind

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon image

The warm welcome for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon means we may not have seen the last of Sergeant Rex ‘Power’ Colt.

The first hint of a potential follow-up has come via Colt’s voice actor, ’80s action legend Michael Biehn (Aliens, The Terminator).

“[Creative director Dean Evans] was with me on the phone last night. He was pretty jacked up,” said Biehn, speaking to Major Nelson Radio.

“He was going into a meeting today to, you know, I think he wants to turn it into some sort of franchise. He’s got a sequel in mind.”

Biehn, who concedes he’s not much of a gamer personally, sounds pretty amazed by the fan response to Blood Dragon to date.

“I did an Aliens game last year that just, kind of, nobody really talked about it very much and I never really heard too much about it,” he said. “I heard when it came out. Nobody ever came up to me afterwards and said, ‘Oh, that Aliens game was really good’ or whatever.”

“I’m telling you, I have more people approaching me now on the streets about this video game. Way more than they do now about, like, ‘Oh, weren’t you the guy that was in The Terminator?’ Or ‘Weren’t you the guy that was in The Victim?’ Or ‘Weren’t you the guy that was in Tombstone?’”

Biehn estimates that he’s had around 100 people approach him and ask about the game in just the last two weeks.

“I want to go out right now, actually, and I wanna go buy a system to play the game on, and I want to buy the game, and I want to learn how to play it,” he said. “There’s something about this game, and I don’t know what it is, but it has people, young people, really excited.”

You can read Mitch’s thoughts on Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon here, and you can hear the complete interview on Major Nelson Radio here.

Luke is Games Editor at IGN AU. You can find him on IGN here or on Twitter @MrLukeReilly, or chat with him and the rest of the Australian team by joining the IGN Australia Facebook community.

By Luke Reilly

Madden, NCAA Class-Action Lawsuit Extended

Madden 2012 image

A class action lawsuit filed against EA in 2011 over an alleged monopoly in the football simulation games market has been modified to allow for increased compensation in the case of approval by the court. The claims period has been extended accordingly to May 15th, allowing affected individuals more time to file their claims.

The lawsuit alleges that by creating a monopoly, EA has been able to overcharge its customers for football games.

You are automatically affected by this lawsuit and entitled to possible compensation if you are in the United States and if you bought a new copy of a Madden NFL, NCAA Football, or Arena Football game for Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, GameCube, PC, or Wii, with a release date between January 1, 2005 and June 21, 2012. You are excluded from this settlement class if you purchased a secondhand copy of the game, or if you purchased it directly from EA.

If the settlement is approved by the court, you are only eligible to receive compensation if you have submitted a claim. Affected gamers may file a claim at the Pecover v. Electronic Arts Inc. Settlement website before May 15th.

If approved, valid claims for the purchase of games from the listed franchises for the Xbox, PS2, PC, and GameCube will be valued at $20.37 each, up to a total of eight games ($162.96). Valid claims for games for the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii platforms will be valued at $5.85 each, up to a total of eight games ($46.80).

Katie Williams is a freelance games journalist and critic. She tweets at @desensitisation and hopes that one day, a bird will tweet back.

By Katie Williams

Aliens: Colonial Marines Review

The dull, unattractive Aliens: Colonial Marines is a functional shooter, but little more.

The Good

  • Online multiplayer offers some fun, anxious moments
  • Interesting stealth level brings some suspense to the single-player campaign.

The Bad

  • Campaign is mostly devoid of tension and challenge
  • Static pace and lack of variety lead to boredom
  • Tacked-on cooperative play completely negates the narrative
  • Dated visuals and assorted bugs.

The Alien franchise deserves better than this. Aliens: Colonial Marines is a disappointing exercise in bland corridor shooting, dragged down by laughable dialogue and cooperative play that makes the game worse than when you adventure on your own. Colonial Marines is unremarkable in every conceivable way: it’s far too easy, generally devoid of tension, and lacking in the variety it so desperately needed. It occasionally lets you peek at the game that could have been, allowing its rare scraps of unsettling atmosphere to seep into your bones. But brief moments of dread and excitement are quickly supplanted by more shrug-worthy shooting and a general aura of “whatever”-ness.

In Colonial Marines, this is the height of excitement.

  • Comment on this video
  • Watch this video in High Def

“Tepid” isn’t likely what you want from a shooter–nor is it what you look for in an Alien narrative. Easter eggs are there for the fans of the film franchise who want them, but even when the game pays homage to the films that inspired it, the results are lackluster. A gruesome event that remains Alien‘s most well-remembered image is replicated here without a hint of fright or gusto, and Colonial Marines frequently relies on visual and dialogue references to fill in for proper storytelling. (Hey, that guy just mentioned Ripley!)

When relieved of the cumbersome cloak of nostalgia, the story gives you little to hold onto. As Corporal Christopher Winter, you join other marines on a rescue mission to infiltrate the U.S.S. Sulaco, thus initiating your post-Aliens journey through a number of storied areas from the franchise, such as the Sulaco and Hadley’s Hope. Several strained confrontations between key characters temporarily raise the narrative stakes; when anger comes to the forefront, you get a glimpse into the loyalty that bonds the marines. But most of their interactions are characterized by snippets of awful dialogue, such as, “Any thoughts on the exploding chest issue?” and “Woke up gagging on a creature like a spider, but wrapped around my face. It’s dead, sir.” Such lines are delivered without a hint of irony–or any other emotion, for that matter.

Sometimes, acid harms you. Most times, it doesn't.

Sometimes, acid harms you. Most times, it doesn’t.

The awkward storytelling is hardly energized by character models and facial animations so stiff that humans look every bit as synthetic as famed series androids Ash and Bishop. Aliens: Colonial Marines is not a looker. Graphics glitches abound, fire and goo effects are unconvincing, and clumsy visual details–jittery transitions in and out of canned animations, abrupt game-over screens upon death–give the game an air of carelessness. Graphics may not make or break a game, but the success of a game in this universe relies somewhat on the atmosphere, and these flaws can make it difficult to stay immersed. And that doesn’t account for nonvisual bugs, such as scripting errors, and the occasions when you spawn into the game in a nigh-unusable third-person view.

Luckily, moody lighting and some creepy environments help pull you back in, though not consistently. Outdoor exploration is given heft by the sight of burning structures dotting the horizon on LV-426, and dark corridors are lined with shiny slime and gross tendrils, keeping your eyes momentarily averted from the bare textures and poor animations. You move through these places, mostly corridors, shooting down xenomorphs, mercenaries, and little else. There’s mild entertainment here and there, at least during the biggest battles. At one point, you must disconnect several fuel lines as aliens skitter across ceilings and appear along the walls, eager to close in and snatch your life away. An enjoyable rhythm can set in as you fend off waves of gross xenos before making a run for your objective. It’s satisfying to gun down an alien before it makes its way to the ground from a high ledge, and watching xenos explode into gushers of goo has a grotesque appeal.

Bella looks cross. You would be, too, if you appeared in such low-res cutscenes.

Bella looks cross. You would be, too, if you appeared in such low-res cutscenes.

All too often, however, you just walk forward, shoot the aliens and mercs that appear with your bog-standard weapons (assault rifle, shotgun, and so forth), open a door, and do it all again. On the whole, the action lacks any sense of momentum or challenge. Aliens: Colonial Marines is exceptionally easy on normal difficulty; human enemies lack smarts, and alien arrivals aren’t horrifying–just horrifyingly predictable. You’re granted the requisite Alien motion tracker, but it’s wholly unnecessary; you don’t need it to stalk aliens hiding in the shadows, or to avoid xenomorphs on the hunt. Enemies arrive just as you’d expect, and you shoot them.

And that’s Colonial Marines’ biggest problem: enemies come, and you shoot them down easily, again and again. The game is remarkably light on variety. A couple of battles masquerade as boss fights, but they require no strategy and are just as easy and thrill-less as the rest. The four- to five-hour campaign has no thrust to it; it feels the same from beginning to end, and the finale just drops with a thud. And by being so easy and predictable, the game lets down the license. There’s little suspense, nothing to absorb you or spur your curiosity. Colonial Marines is tone-deaf to what makes the Alien franchise what it is–and what makes the best shooters so exciting.

The dull, unattractive Aliens: Colonial Marines is a functional shooter, but little more.

By Kevin VanOrd

Will Dark Souls 2 Revisit the Painted World of Ariamis?

Dark Souls 2 image

IGN debuted the world’s first look at Dark Souls II gameplay today. Combing through the footage reveals a hint as to where we’ll be playing, and potentially when.

Specifically, we believe we will revisit the Painted World of Ariamis from Dark Souls, judging by a comparison of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II screens and image. We also believe this section will be set before the events of the Dark Souls. See below for yourself.

The bridge to the Painted World of Ariamis from Dark Souls.

Possibly the same bridge, from Dark Souls II gameplay.

From the original Dark Souls II CG reveal trailer.

The Painted World of Ariamis is an optional zone in Dark Souls found in the city of Anor Londo. It exists in a sort of cursed-state, trapped in time, and is inhabited by some particularly terrible things, including Crossbreed Priscilla, a part woman-part dragon.

What do you think? Will we see and/or play through the origin story of Ariamis, and learn how the ill-fated town became a shell of what it once was? Will we learn more about Priscilla and her Peculiar Doll?

Let us know your theories in the comments below.

Casey Lynch is IGN’s Head of Beard and Community. He once played Darks Souls on IGN for 24 hours straight. Follow him on IGN and on twitter at @Lynchtacular.

By Casey Lynch

Antichamber Review

Antichamber bends the rules of space and time with challenging puzzles and a fantastic sense of atmosphere.

The Good

  • Mind-bending and inventive puzzle design
  • Stark and stylish visuals
  • Eerie ambient soundtrack is a fitting accompaniment to your travels
  • Gives you a great sense of accomplishment.

The Bad

  • Some brief moments of frustration.

Antichamber is a game that demands patience. Its puzzles can’t be rushed, nor their solutions fully grasped without a second’s thought. No, this is a puzzle game that rewards a gentle, studious approach of careful logic and inventive experimentation. It helps to keep an open mind too, for there are few rules that Antichamber doesn’t shatter with its swaths of non-Euclidean space and its stark, stylish visuals. But while its trials of the mind verge on the extreme at times, they are an integral part of this remarkable achievement. Few games reward you with such an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and intelligence, or boast such thought-provoking game design.

 Antichamber's distinctive aesthetic can be difficult to wrap your brain around.

Antichamber’s distinctive aesthetic can be difficult to wrap your brain around.

Part of the charm lies in Antichamber’s reluctance–however complex the task–to provide you with anything more than the simplest of instructions. There’s no hand-holding, no drawn-out tutorial section, and no quick-and-easy puzzle to get you started. Instead, you’re placed in a small chamber where the walls are covered with the basic first-person controls, and an interactive map points you towards the first puzzle. It’s from this room that you see the many secrets of the game unfold. With each puzzle you discover, the map grows larger, while another wall is gradually filled with unsettling but clever sketches and clues that you uncover during your journey.

Aside from providing visual feedback on your progress, this starting chamber performs an important task; it is the only constant in a journey full of misdirection. There are no set paths to wander down or a narrative to point you in the right direction. The joy of Antichamber is in discovering things about the world that shock, mystify, and teach. When you encounter a puzzle, you never feel like you were pushed there or that a character forced you. The path you take through Antichamber is guided by your own curiosity and your own inventiveness. So it helps that at any point you can instantly jump back to the starting chamber to gather your thoughts and see the sprawling path you’ve carved through the many puzzles.

Those puzzles are unlike anything you may have seen before. The simple white walls and thin black lines that make up each room, hallway, and tunnel provide an impeccable distraction-free backdrop for the most complex of ideas. There are rooms where stairs that point up or down lead back to the same starting point, and rooms where four right turns lead you into a completely different area. Floors appear in midair, walls disappear before your eyes, and huge chasms send you on endless loops back to their peaks. To succeed in Antichamber, you must forget the rules and embrace its unique way of thinking. And that applies not only to the laws of physics, but to the rules of video games too.

A clever use of colour, line and shape helps guide you to the answer.

A clever use of colour, line and shape helps guide you to the answer.

Where you might be inclined to push forward, going back may open up a new set of options. Jumping headfirst into a chasm might normally spell death, but here it is a means of exploring areas that are seemingly out of reach. There are no set rules to how these rooms are connected or how they interact with one another, which makes wrapping your head around the game’s most wild ideas a stiff but inherently satisfying mental challenge. If you get stuck, your only option is to mull over each puzzle, and keep trying until you get it right. What little help you receive comes in the form of cryptic clues and illustrations scrawled onto walls that kick-start the thought process rather than give you direct hints about each puzzle.

What really messes with your mind, though, are the later combinations of logical and lateral thinking. The logical puzzles take the form of Antichamber’s most traditional game-like mechanic, which is a gun that lets you pick up and place small cubes around the environment. The cubes are used to open doors, trigger laser trip wires, and build objects that can be used as bridges and steps. Those puzzles alone are tricky enough, but to switch between lateral and logical ways of thinking–and to often combine the two–is a challenge that can break even the most astute of minds. But with such great trials come even greater moments of elation. It helps, too, that the solutions never seem unfair.

Even during the later stages of your adventure, Antichamber continues to surprise with its puzzles and delight with their solutions. Most impressive of all is how it creates a sense of foreboding and horror, not through its narrative or with cheap scare tactics, but with the puzzles themselves. When the very fabric of reality is made meaningless by a world where up can mean down, left can mean right, and walls can be nothing at all, everything takes on a deeply sinister edge. The soundtrack that backs it all up adds to the foreboding, building up as it does from nothing into a fittingly eerie, synth-driven ambient soundscape.

  • Comment on this video
  • Watch this video in High Def

There are moments in Antichamber that remain with you long after you’ve uncovered your last clue and solved your last puzzle. What has been created within its barren walls is supremely intelligent and wildly inventive, and Antichamber doesn’t give up its ideals for the sake of accessibility. The few spells of frustration are fleeting and never compromise Antichamber’s powerful achievements in design and style. “Every journey is a series of choices,” you’re told at the beginning of your adventure. You should choose to begin yours in Antichamber: it really is quite unlike anything else.

By Mark Walton

Some Dead Island Steam Codes Mistakenly Redeeming Dark Souls

Dead Island II image

Some copies of Dead Island Riptide mistakenly contain Steam codes for the wrong game. As posted on the Steam forums, some retail copies of Dead Island Riptide include codes inside the box that redeem Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition instead. According to Deep Silver, the issue affected “retail copies in the United Kingdom and Nordic countries.”

“Dark Souls is an amazing game, but you probably bought Dead Island Riptide to play Dead Island Riptide,” a Deep Silver representative posted. “For those of you who don’t know this, Dark Souls is also not a Deep Silver game.”

According to the post, Deep Silver has worked with Steam and “if you are getting your retail copy of Dead Island Riptide today, the code will work properly.” For players who did mistakenly receive Dark Souls, Steam support is “aware of the issue and will make sure the correct game will be attached to your account.”

This isn’t the first time this kind of mix-up has happened, following Mass Effect 2 accidentally included with Call of Duty: Black Ops II on PC and copies of LEGO Lord of the Rings on Xbox 360 accidentally marked as demos last year.

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.

By Andrew Goldfarb

Papo & Yo Review

The gameplay of Papo & Yo won’t grab you, but its imaginative portrayal of a young boy’s struggles makes it a worthwhile and special experience.

The Good

  • Handles difficult subject matter wonderfully
  • Filled with magical, empowering moments.

The Bad

  • Puzzles are too easy to be rewarding.

A child’s imagination is a powerful thing. It can imbue the world with wonders, taking the mundane and making it magical. It can also help a child cope with real-world fears that are much too big and scary to confront otherwise. For Quico, the young hero of Papo & Yo, his imagination serves both purposes. The game is wise and knowing about the ways in which a child’s imagination can empower, and the ways in which it can obstruct, when push comes to shove and reality needs to be faced. As a puzzle-filled adventure, Papo & Yo is too easy to offer the stimulation and satisfaction that come from working out the solution to a perplexing conundrum. But as a journey into the world a child creates as an escape from the pain of reality, Papo & Yo is a beautiful experience that addresses serious issues with a deft, graceful touch. This PC version looks a little better and plays a little more smoothly, but it doesn’t improve significantly on the already lovely PlayStation Network release of last year. Still, if you couldn’t experience this meaningful game on the PlayStation 3, you should seize the opportunity to do so now.

Tranquil moments with Monster foster a sense of connection that makes Quico’s struggle to save him that much more poignant.

  • Comment on this video
  • Watch this video in High Def

As Quico, you follow your sometimes helpful, sometimes playfully cruel sister through a Latin American village that’s made up of realistic pieces; the structures look as if they might be ordinary homes that ordinary families live in. But this is no ordinary place. From chalk outlines drawn by your sister on walls, doors spring into existence. By turning gears, you can make stairs slide out of walls. By pulling levers, you can peel back layers of the world. The gears, levers, keys, and other objects you can interact with give Quico some measure of power and control in this place–an important thing for a boy who, as an opening scene suggests, has little power and control in his unstable home life.

Quico’s abilities are also empowering to you as a player. In an early puzzle, you come upon a vast divide separating you from where you need to go, and somehow, you must use the small boxes in front of you to bridge the gap. The instant you lift one is a magical moment, as it immediately becomes apparent what the boxes do. By moving the boxes, you are also moving large buildings around, restructuring the world to fit your needs and creating platforms that you can leap across to reach your destination.

This sensation of wonder is repeated again and again throughout the game in ways large and small. It is almost never challenging to figure out what you need to do to advance. Turning the available keys, pulling the available levers, and trying out anything else in the area that you can interact with generally makes the solution to your current predicament clear. But there’s a tranquil pleasure in going through the motions and observing the magic that takes place, in seeing a stack of buildings grow taller and taller until you can twist it like a snake and run up it like a giant staircase.

Quico has no control over his chaotic home life, but his imagination lets him escape and feel empowered.

Quico has no control over his chaotic home life, but his imagination lets him escape and feel empowered.

Quico is not alone on this journey. He has his toy robot and trusty friend Lula, who can zip to faraway switches, help Quico jump farther, and offer words of encouragement. And then there’s the monster named Monster, who is not just a companion in this story; he is at its thematic and emotional core. He’s an imposing presence with his hefty frame and his sharp horn, but he’s usually a docile creature, prone to dozing and easily led about with tantalizing lemons. Quico sometimes needs to bounce off of Monster’s big belly to reach high places, or get him to stand on a specific spot to trigger a switch. Through these situations, the game creates a meaningful relationship between Quico and Monster, which is necessary for this story to have any power.

You see, Monster has a dark side. Frogs hop around in certain areas, and Monster can’t resist eating the little critters. But whenever he does, he becomes a frightening, fiery creature who chases Quico and flings the poor boy through the air. There’s no penalty for being caught by Monster–Quico can’t die–but it’s still painful to see him being savaged by the normally friendly beast. Only by finding rotten fruits can you purge Monster of the madness that overtakes him. Like all the other puzzles in Papo & Yo, those involving Monster’s frog-induced rages aren’t particularly challenging, but they have real emotional impact.

There's no penalty for getting caught, but you still understand and empathize with Quico's fear of Monster.

There’s no penalty for getting caught, but you still understand and empathize with Quico’s fear of Monster.

Quico’s quest eventually requires him to seek a cure for Monster, and to say too much about how that progresses would risk spoiling the story. But suffice it to say that Papo & Yo doesn’t disrespect its audience or trivialize its subject matter by offering easy, falsely comforting answers. Like all good fables and fairy tales, this story about a boy using his imagination as an instrument of perseverance in a painful world confronts painful truths in order to offer a realistic foundation for hope. It’s that rare game that’s good for children, not just as a distraction or a piece of entertainment, but as a nourishing tale that helps to make sense of a world that sometimes makes none at all. But you don’t have to be a child to be enchanted by Papo & Yo. Even adults need to see the world through a child’s eyes once in a while.

By Carolyn Petit

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review

Packed with entertaining action and hysterical writing, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is an ’80s-inspired blast.

The Good

  • Hysterical dialogue and collectibles
  • Lots of smart references to 1980s pop culture
  • Taking on blood dragons is always a delight
  • Smart levels and missions make for rewarding stealth
  • A lot of terrific open-ended action for a great value.

The Bad

  • A few enemy behavior quirks
  • Some crass jokes land with a thud.

Great 1980s movie montages featured plucky underdogs, perhaps played by Sylvester Stallone, or maybe Ralph Macchio, demonstrating their determination to triumph over the forces of communism, bullying, or stodgy adults who don’t believe in the power of young love. They were accompanied by properly cheesy pop hits, possibly performed by Joe Esposito, or maybe Deniece Williams, creating a wonderful audiovisual time capsule that could have only originated in that fabulous decade. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon understands the power of the ’80s. When its inevitable montage comes, you probably won’t know the music, but you’ll know the type. It’s the kind that would have been sung by Michael Sembello, or Kenny Loggins, or Foreigner. If you’re a child of the decade, you’ll be glad that Blood Dragon knows you so well.

Here there be blood dragons.

  • Comment on this video
  • Watch this video in High Def

Don’t worry, though: if the 1980s are before your time, or if you don’t retain any nostalgia for the decade of parachute pants and the Brat Pack, Blood Dragon stands on its own without relying on references, though it packs in plenty of them. This downloadable spin-off of 2012′s Far Cry 3 is a fantastically entertaining first-person shooter with more clever dialogue and action-packed hours than most full-priced games. At $15, it’s a better deal than every Cabbage Patch Kid you ever loved, every Tears for Fears record you ever spun, and every Muppet Babies episode you ever viewed. Combined.

Well, perhaps Blood Dragon isn’t quite that valuable. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to be charmed from the moment it begins. Low-resolution cutscenes introduce you to Rex Colt, cybercommando. Rex is voiced by ’80s mainstay Michael Biehn, better known for appearing in films like The Terminator (as Kyle Reese) and Aliens (as Dwayne Hicks). Biehn’s forced rasp is the perfect complement to Rex’s nationalist badassery, and his sincere line delivery makes several scenes all the more hysterical. Consider this dialogue: “I swore an oath to a special lady. Lady Liberty. She taught me that winners don’t use drugs.” It’s a corny line right out of a War on Drugs-era public service announcement, but in the context of an offer to have dragon blood injected into Rex’s veins. Meanwhile, you “rent” (that is, collect) VHS tapes of movies with titles like Bourne to Dance; this particular film features a special teacher showing his student “the kind of love he’s never known before…the love of dance.”

So. Many. Teeth.

So. Many. Teeth.

You don’t need to know the ’80s to get Rex’s repeated oral sex gags, of which there are far too many. Nor do you need to know the past to understand that calls of “no” during a consensual sex scene would have been inappropriate in any decade. Luckily, most of the jokes aren’t so juvenile, including video game cracks that make fun of red exploding barrels, game-violence controversies, and even Ubisoft’s own games, like Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed. (Listen for bits of throwaway dialogue about girls with tribal tattoos and feather collecting.) The tutorial sets the tone straight away, telling you to press a button “to demonstrate your ability to read,” and loading screens helpfully inform you that if you need a hint, perhaps the next loading screen will have one for you. Not every joke is so obvious–you may not notice or get nods to erotic artists and prison documentaries–but the gags are there, making Blood Dragon one of the funniest games in recent memory.

Of course, an ’80s-focused game wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t look the part, and Blood Dragon certainly makes proper homage to its inspiration. Cutscenes look as if they could have been ripped right out of the original Metal Gear, or Shadow of the Beast, complete with the muddy reds, purples, and blues that characterized them. The same color scheme, in turn, infuses the first-person gameplay, as if you’re traversing the game’s medium-size island while wearing dark magenta sunglasses. Small audiovisual touches, such as the way Rex sometimes takes a blowtorch to his cybernetic arm when healing, and buzzing sounds to indicate Rex’s part-mechanical nature, enthusiastically sell the roboapocalyptic setting. And by the final hour, which lends a sly twist to common action-game power trips, you’ll appreciate how Blood Dragon uses nostalgia and humor to say something about the state of modern shooters.

It's dark and spooky enough to be another sequel to <i>The Howling</i>.” />
<p class=It’s dark and spooky enough to be another sequel to The Howling.

Blood Dragon isn’t just an homage to great memories, however, but a terrific game in its own right. If you played Far Cry 3, you will recognize the structure. Enemy bases are strewn about the island you explore, and by annihilating all of the enemies that patrol them, either silently or forcefully, you convert them to your cybernetic cause. Meanwhile, you move from mission to mission, infiltrating dams and rescuing endangered trash-talking scientists, using semi-futuristic variants of familiar weapons–a sniper rifle, an assault rifle, a bow, and so forth–that handle like their standard Far Cry 3 counterparts. In time, you upgrade most of these weapons; your sniper rifle’s bullets gain an explosive charge, your shotgun gets a flaming kick, and so on. You earn access to weapon upgrades by finding collectibles and performing side missions, and you earn other enhancements, such as the ability to perform silent takedowns on heavies wielding flamethrowers, by leveling up. There is no skill tree or anything like that: when you cross the necessary level threshold, you gain new skills automatically.

Packed with entertaining action and hysterical writing, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is an ’80s-inspired blast.

By Kevin VanOrd

PlanetSide 2 Update Brings New Vehicle, New Weapons, Character

PlanetSide 2 image

Game Update 08 hit PlanetSide 2 today, bringing an all-new vehicle, new MAX updates in the form of weapons and helmets, balance and tuning changes, helmets for non-MAX players, UI changes, and bug fixes.

The Harasser – the all-new, three-man assault buggy – allows players to move across the battlefield at a high-speed, with each player seated in a direct role. There’s even a 360-degree mountable turret on the top and a rumble seat for carrying additional soldiers, even the MAX robot suit.

New MAX weapons include the Vortex VM21, MR1 Fracture, and NCM3 Raven. Each is used for a variety of different conditions and are designed to compliment the existing MAX-AV weapons.

Both MAX and non-MAX classes are getting additional helmets, with MAX receiving two sets and a set of armor, while non-MAX only gets one.

No new MAX abilities arrive in game update 08, but creative director Matthew Higby says they’re coming soon and just need “a bit more time to make sure they are properly tuned.”

UI updates include the ability to separate the customized colors for players and facilities, as well as capture progress bars now animating to make it easier to see whether it’s being captured or secured.

There are a load of balancing and tuning changes mostly revolving around separate classes and keeping them in check, too, so that players will want to use them. Tank armor has been beefed up, allowing them to last longer against normal infantry. Meanwhile, weapons specifically designed to take down tank armor received a power boost to compensate.

This only scratches the surface of changes in Game Update 08, which SOE claims is the “biggest game update since launch.” Check out Higby’s dev blog for a more detailed breakdown of what’s inside.

Alex Rubens is a freelance writer based in Seattle who spends too much time talking about Star Wars and The Fast and The Furious. Talk to him about it on Twitter at @alexrubens.

By Alex Rubens

The Best First Encounters in Video Games

BioShock Infinite image

Elizabeth’s debut in BioShock Infinite is nothing short of mesmerizing. Locked away in a tower in the impossibly fantastic floating city of Columbia, something is certainly awry. Who put her there? Is the city a threat to her, or is she a threat to them? Players are left almost waiting for the other shoe to drop, which makes her debut both breathtaking and unnerving. It’s a warped and wonderful twist on the infamous “rescue the princess” tale that only begins to tear the entire script open for interpretation.

And it’s an amazing way to introduce a new character. Some games handle that assignment with less intrigue (A NEW CHALLENGER APPROACHES!) while others weave hours of mystery and deceit into the plot until the character’s climactic debut. I gathered a few of my friends here at IGN to reflect on the most memorable first appearances of gaming characters that truly resonated with them. What were yours?

Frog, Chrono Trigger

Marty Sliva, Associate Editor says….

It’s hard for me not to pick Frog, who’s possibly my favorite character in what’s probably my favorite RPG. But those caveats aside, his entrance a few hours into Chrono Trigger is the stuff of absolute legend. With your party of naïve kids stuck in an endless battle, it’s the amphibious knight who swoops in and makes quick work of the creatures that haunt Manolia Cathedral. At this early stage in the game, the player has yet to encounter a character that’s so damn powerful. With an emotional backstory, iconic weapon, and phenomenal theme, Frog is the epitome of a hero who knows how to make an entrance.

Legion, Mass Effect 2

Casey Lynch, Head of Brand & Community says….

The loyalty missions were an innovative way to keep the action moving forward in a character-focused manner in Mass Effect 2, but none were more compelling than Legion’s.

Meeting the hive-mind Geth while scouring the derelict Reaper for the IFF was totally confusing. Legion wore Shepard’s armor and helped defend “Shepard Commander” from the ship-full of Husks. Legion’s first encounter was made all the more intense thanks to Sam Wall and Jack Hulick’s incendiary soundtrack as Legion’s theme boasts one of the more rousing crescendos in the entire game.

Vaas, Far Cry 3

Mitch Dyer, Associate Editor says…

Lots of games open with you locked in a prison you immediately need to escape, but few of ‘em open with such a frightening (yet somehow endearing) warden. Vaas establishes an intense, bleak tone to Far Cry 3 with a lengthy speech about how f***ed you are. He killed your friends, he’s put you in a cage, and he’s going to sell you. Nice to meet you, Vaas.

Ayla, Chrono Trigger

Meghan Sullivan, Database Editor says…

When Chrono and his merry band of time travelers find themselves trapped in the Stone Age and surrounded by giant green lizards, things look pretty bleak. But just as the monsters are about to devour our heroes, a cave woman by the name of Ayla literally barrel rolls her way into the scene and starts clobbering monsters left and right with her bare hands. Thanks to her, Chrono and his friends are able to get the upper-hand, and together they trounce their enemies. Ayla’s entrance is easily one of the best character introductions ever, and it doesn’t hurt that she also has one of the best character themes, either!

Setzer, Final Fantasy VI

Colin Moriarty, Editor says…

There are so many reasons why Final Fantasy VI tells perhaps the greatest story in RPG history, and one of those reasons is how the character Setzer is introduced. Setzer is a prolific gambler swimming in enormous winnings, so much so that he owns an airship that’s the marvel of the world. Your party in Final Fantasy VI knows this, and they set up an incredible ruse to trick Setzer into kidnapping Celes – who he thinks is another woman – so that they can gain access to the elusive gambler and his famous airship.

But things don’t go according to plan once Setzer kidnaps Celes and is tricked into helping the party when he makes a bet using Edgar’s trick coin. It all sounds a little confusing, but trust me when I say that the way Setzer is weaved into Final Fantasy VI so deep into the game, once you’ve already met a vast majority of your party members, is artful, clever and emotional, especially when taken into context with Final Fantasy VI’s famous opera scene, which is just one of the many scenarios in the game just begging for an HD remake.

Tyrant 103, Resident Evil

Stephen Ng, Editor says…

The silent Tyrant – silent only until Chris and Jill escape to the Spencer Mansion’s roof – delivers a nice, fat surprise while you’re trying to escape before the whole place self-destructs. Fans of Resident Evil will remember that the only weapon that destroys it won’t even appear until near the end of the escape (depending on the damage you manage to inflict) but on some versions, Tyrant even effortlessly bats away your first shot.

D0G, Half-Life 2

Dan Stapleton, Executive Editor of Reviews says…

Seeing a giant, physically imposing robot behave like a playful but protective pet is a fantastic way to get to know D0G. It both instantly establishes his relationship with Alex Vance and gives a great tutorial for how to use the Gravity Gun by throwing heavy stuff at you. Every time he shows up to hurl vans at Combine troops, it’s hard not to picture him as a dog playing with his toys.

Iriqouis Pliskin, Metal Gear Solid 2

Sean Allen, Community Manager says…

We know exactly who he is, despite the fact that he tries to hide is identity to Raiden. It’s not so much we are being introduced to the character, but this is the first time he is introduced as a secondary character. Suddenly, because he isn’t the player, all bets on who he is and what happens to him are off.

Proto Man, Mega Man 3

Brian Altano, Senior Editor says…

This mysterious robot – complete with his signature whistled anthem – shows up seemingly at random in the middle of select stages in Mega Man 3, pretty much just to jump you and kick your ass. He’s equal parts awesome and dangerous and that’s what makes his appearances so intriguing. It isn’t revealed until later in the game that he’s on your side against Dr. Wily, but most players won’t learn that without handing over a few energy tanks first.

So what was your best first encounter in a video game? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Brian Altano is IGN’s Senior Editor. Be sure to follow him on Twitter at @agentbizzle.

By Brian Altano

1 2 66