Battlefield 4 dev ignoring motion control 'gimmick'

DICE executive producer says companies have been “throwing money” at the studio in an effort to get them to code support for motion controls.

The gaming industry’s current state of motion controls is a “gimmick” and won’t be featured in Battlefield 4, according to the DICE executive producer Patrick Bach.

Speaking to Edge, Bach added that companies have been “throwing money” at the studio in an effort to get them to code support for “quirky” control schemes, but added that DICE is not interested.

“We are not interested in things that don’t make the game better,” said Bach. “There are a lot of gimmicks–people throwing money at us–‘can you implement support for this quirky control thing’. No, it doesn’t make the game better.”

“We are extremely open to innovation, but if it’s a gimmick, there’s no point unless it adds value to the player. Touch screens used to be a gimmick, because no one could get it to work until iPhone came out and used it right. It adds to the experience, and now everyone is doing it. To us it’s the same with motion control and perceptual gaming in general; if it adds, great. If it’s a gimmick, ignore it.”

Battlefield 4, which uses the next iteration of DICE’s Frostbite engine, was announced with a 17-minute gameplay video at GDC 2013. The game is due to be released later this year, but so far only Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC versions have been confirmed.

Promotional material spotted at US retailer GameStop suggests Battlefield 4 will feature three playable factions and see a return of Commander Mode.

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By Martin Gaston, News Editor

DmC: Devil May Cry Review

With assured storytelling, great combat, and imaginative design, DmC: Devil May Cry is a more-than-worthy reboot for a classic franchise.

The Good

  • Tight, enthralling, and deep combat
  • Big variety of weapons and enemies
  • Imaginative demon designs
  • Convincing voice acting
  • Reboots the series without compromising its soul.

The Bad

  • Boss battles aren’t nearly as fun as regular combat
  • Some minor graphical glitches
  • Ending doesn’t live up to the rest of the story.

There’s a point in DmC: Devil May Cry where everything just falls into place, a point where–after being mollycoddled through hours of gentle combat–you’re finally let off the leash. And at that point, chaos ensues. The gates of hell are opened, once-timid demons become tremendous horrors, and Dante transforms into a fighter of glowing theatrics and tense technical wizardry. Immense, over-the-top combos flow from the fingertips, unleashing all manner of visually enticing carnage with a precise, fluid feel. So entertaining is the combat, in fact, that it’s easy to overlook what a wonderful achievement DmC is as a whole.

What’s more fun than stabbing demons with a sword? Knocking them into the path of a demonic ferris wheel of course!

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But to do so would do the game a great disservice. The story, for instance, is light-years ahead of previous games in the series. Where they were schlocky, B-movie tales of adolescent fantasy, DmC has a sense of restraint, and maturity. Not that it’s entirely evident from the off. A slew of half-naked bodies and raucous rock music make for a less-than-enticing introduction to the new, modern-day Dante’s world, where he lives the playboy lifestyle of booze, nonstop parties, and sleazy sex. It’s only with the arrival of the hardened psychic Kat and the emergence of a frightening demon horde that Dante, and the story, begins to grow up.

What follows is a tale of evil, world domination, and love that weaves in touches of conspiracy theory and religious dogma to great effect. There’s no denying that there’s still a drop of Devil May Cry lunacy to it all, particularly in Dante’s cheesy quips, but underneath that over-the-top exterior lies heart. There are real moments of drama and excitement that are coupled with some well-realised characters that walk a fine line between good and evil. It helps that they’re backed by a terrific voice cast–especially the truly frightening villain Mundis–that delivers even the maddest of dialogue with the utmost sincerity.

DmC’s greater focus on storytelling comes at expense of some freedom, but the game is no worse off for it. Gone is the tedious backtracking and repetition of Devil May Cry 4, replaced with an adventure that–for the most part–propels you forward at a breakneck pace. One moment you’re escaping a blood-red city that’s folding and crumbling around
you, and the next you’re infiltrating the offices of a famed TV network where the earthly world and that of Limbo have collided in an explosion of vicious demons and ghastly black ooze that drips from every wall.

Dante might have a new look, but deep down he's still the same ass-kicking demon slayer.

Dante might have a new look, but deep down he’s still the same ass-kicking demon slayer.

Such is the variety in your adventure that it does an admirable job of glossing over the linear nature of the story. It helps, of course, that the action is exciting too. Dante is a man with some impressive physical skills that are augmented by an equally impressive range of deadly weaponry. Initially that weaponry takes the form of Rebellion, a sword with a medium speed and attack range that serves as the bedrock for combos.

With just a few taps it’s easy to perform simple combos that cut a sharp path through enemies and launch them into the air where you can deal more damage before they explode into a wonderfully satisfying mess of gory blobs. It’s not long before you reach the limits of what you can do with a single weapon, though, which makes the time it takes to gather new ones a tad grating. Still, once the game finally lets you loose with a bigger arsenal, the combat takes a rewarding turn. What opens up before you is a vast set of moves that can be smoothly chained together for some technically impressive and oh-so-gorgeous-looking combos.

The combat is done in a way that cleverly plays to the strengths of each weapon, and that of your opponents’ weapons. For instance, lighter, angelic weapons like the Osiris scythe are geared towards juggling enemies in the air and dealing spinning swipes that take out large groups all at once. Heavier, demonic weapons like the Arbiter axe focus on all-out strength, pummelling demons into the ground with a hefty brute force, albeit at the expense of attack speed. Combine the two, and you can knock out enemies with the swifter, lighter weapon before neatly finishing them off with a deadly demonic blow.

Dante was soon disappointed to find his jacket was dry clean only.

Dante was soon disappointed to find his jacket was dry clean only.

As you gain more-advanced weapons and abilities, the combos that are open to you become more complex. Chains that let you pull yourself towards enemies, or pull them towards you, result in some explosive combos that see Dante zipping elegantly between enemies, dealing out brutal punishment between each throw of a chain. Then there are Dante’s guns, Ebony and Ivory, which are ideal for dishing out short, sharp bursts of bullets and filling in the gaps between other attacks. Combine your moves, and the combat turns into a harmonious ballet of sword slicing, swinging, and all-out carnage that’s not only impressive to look at, but delightful to perform too.

With assured storytelling, great combat, and imaginative design, DmC: Devil May Cry is a more-than-worthy reboot for a classic franchise.

By Mark Walton

Long-delayed XCOM shooter's website and videos pulled by 2K

Speculation around delayed first-person shooter suggests a rebranding by publisher 2K.

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The official website and accompanying images and videos for 2K Marin’s long-delayed XCOM first-person shooter have been taken offline.

Spotted by Digital Trends, a 404 error is given when attempting to access the site, and the game’s trailers on YouTube have been set to private.

2K unveiled the 1960s-themed XCOM shooter in 2010, and the game has been delayed multiple times since then. The most recent financial report of 2K Games parent company Take-Two Interactive states the XCOM shooter will be released between April 2013 and May 2014.

The last time 2K showed XCOM in public was at E3 2011.

Recent reports have suggested that the game is being rebranded as The Bureau (via Kotaku), after two domains have been registered–whathappenedin62.com and whathappenedin62.net–coinciding with the year the XCOM shooter was set.

Further rumours dating back to last year claimed XCOM has been turned into a third-person shooter. 2K also asked customers, via a marketing survey, whether they’d rather pay full price or opt for a cheaper downloadable title.

Meanwhile, Civilization developer Firaxis launched its remake of the original XCOM: Enemy Unknown last year. GameSpot awarded Firaxis’ game an 8.5 in its review.

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By Martin Gaston, News Editor

Gears of War: Judgment Call to Arms DLC out next week

Second expansion for shooter launching April 23 for Season Pass holders, April 30 worldwide; also introduces Masters at Arms game mode.

Gears of War: Judgment will add the Call to Arms expansion next week, Microsoft and Epic Games announced today. The game’s second expansion, which adds three new multiplayer maps and a new game mode, will be available April 23 for VIP Season Pass holders and April 30 worldwide.

Blood Drive.

Blood Drive.

The content will be available as a free download for those who hold a VIP Season Pass and will sell for 1,000 Microsoft Points ($12.50) as an individual download. Season Pass holders also receive permanent multiplayer double XP.

New maps included with the Call to Arms DLC for Gears of War: Judgment are Terminal, Blood Drive, and Boneyard. According to Microsoft, they are set against the backdrop of the Locust invasion of Halvo Bay and include a mix of close quarters and vertical combat.

The Call to Arms DLC also introduces a new game mode called Master At Arms, a free-for-all gametype that challenges players with getting kills with each of the 20 different weapons without using melee techniques or grenades. Every kill will automatically advance players to the next available weapon until they have used each and become the “master at arms.”

The Call to Arms DLC also packs in 10 new achievements worth a total of 250 Gamerscore.

The content follows last month’s Maxim-sponsored expansion, which saw a new map (Haven) and game mode (Execution) added to Gears of War: Judgment for free thanks to its partnership with the men’s magazine.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Skyrim team moving on to next project

[UPDATE] Bethesda says it will release only “minor” updates for latest Elder Scrolls game; no new DLC in the works.

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[UPDATE] Following the publication of this story, a Bethesda representative confirmed with GameSpot that no new downloadable content for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is in the works.

“No, there will be no other DLC,” the company said.

The original story follows below

Bethesda Game Studios is moving on from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, its award-winning 2011 role-playing game. In a blog post today, the developer said its next project is now at the point where it requires the studio’s full attention, though the outfit promised it will continue to support Skyrim.

“Even though we’re moving on, we’ll still have minor updates to Skyrim as needed,” the developer said. “We’ve invested so much of ourselves into Skyrim and will never truly say goodbye to it.”

Since shipping Skyrim in November 2011, Bethesda has released three downloadable content expansions for the game (Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn) as well as Kinect support for the Xbox 360 version and the Creation Kit for the PC version.

No official details regarding Bethesda Game Studios’ next project have been divulged, though a past report suggests a Boston-set Fallout 4 is in the works. In addition, Bethesda parent company Zenimax Media this month trademarked a new game called “Starfield,” though the publisher has declined to comment on what this may be.

Bethesda said last week that it would make “considerably more noise” in 2013.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Aliens: Colonial Marines for Wii U canceled

[UPDATE] Sega confirms Nintendo version of first-person shooter no longer in development; “business-as- usual” at developer Demiurge.

[UPDATE] Following the publication of this story, a representative for Demiurge Studios provided a statement saying it is “business-as-usual” at the company following the cancellation of Aliens: Colonial Marines for Wii U. The statement comes from Demiurge CEO and cofounder Albert Reed.

“We were very sorry to hear about the cancellation of Aliens for Wii U. It’s business-as-usual here at Demiurge Studios. We are focused on making Shoot Many Robots for mobile kick ass and we’ve got another unannounced game in the works that we can’t wait to unveil!”

The original story follows below

The Wii U version of Aliens: Colonial Marines–said to be the best-looking version of all–has been canceled. It was originally expected to launch by the end of March.

“Sega can confirm that the Wii U sku of Aliens: Colonial Marines is no longer in development,” Sega told GameSpot today.

No rationale for the cancellation was provided, though the game’s fate had long been in question.

It is not clear when exactly Aliens: Colonial Marines for Wii U was canceled or if the move will result in layoffs at Cambridge, Mass. developer Demiurge Studios. A representative from the studio was not immediately available to comment.

Prior to today, Sega had three times refused to provide a status update on the project following the critically panned launch of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC version in February.

Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford said last month that he was unsure if Aliens: Colonial Marines for Wii U will ship at all. “We’ll see,” Pitchford said at the time.

“That’s not our call. I think [developer Demiurge Studios] did amazing work,” he went on. “I think it’s really cool, but Sega’s got to figure that out. We’re doing the best we can.”

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Review

In an impressive show of style and technical brilliance, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance takes a turn for the brutal and rarely looks back.

The Good

  • The fast-paced combat excites your reflexes
  • Depth and complexity coexist in harmony
  • Decimating environments is a guilty pleasure that never gets old
  • Raiden’s intriguing personal story justifies his return to the spotlight.

The Bad

  • Occasional camera issues can be distracting
  • Most environmental palettes lack variety
  • The predictably political plot fails to excite.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance sees the cybernetically enhanced Raiden severing his ties to the stealthy gameplay of old, charging headlong behind enemy lines with a fresh pack of batteries and a thirsty blade by his side. His newfound lust for battle fits nicely into the quirky Metal Gear universe, thanks to the persistence of the Sons of the Patriots plotline and other carefully laid traces of time-honored traditions. Still, despite these ties to the past, Revengeance is ultimately a departure from the old way of doing things. Almost every scenario demands conflict rather than silent infiltration, and instead of conforming to his environment, Raiden can transform it in a matter of seconds.

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Four years after the conclusion of Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden’s cyborg strength is under the employ of a private security firm hired to protect a peaceful and influential African prime minister. His convoy is intercepted by two cyborgs representing the disruptive Desperado Enforcement, and they quickly make a mess of things by kidnapping their target, disabling Raiden, and slipping away unharmed. Not one to stand idly by, Raiden pursues his assailants after receiving the latest cybernetic upgrades from his comrades at Maverick Consulting.

It’s a brief yet satisfying ride through a fast-paced action game, and dozens of unlockable rewards continually entice you back into the fray. Though Revengeance has addictive combat and a killer sense of style, it’s unfortunate that the simplicity of its underlying story fails to hit many high marks. Outside of a few memorable antagonists (Sam, for instance, is a sadistic delight), you won’t walk away with fond memories of the overall plot, but Raiden’s personal transformation reaches an atypical and invigorating conclusion. He’s perfect for the role of the antihero, and through his transformation, Revengeance emerges as a fantastic action game set in the Metal Gear universe.

Raiden spies a repair unit that's ripe for the picking.

Raiden spies a repair unit that’s ripe for the picking.

Raiden faces hundreds of cyborg soldiers and biomechanical contraptions while searching for the Desperado elites, and despite a mostly mundane selection of environments, the excitement of taking on sword-wielding, rocket-launching foot soldiers holds your attention from the very start. Enemies don’t waste time during battle, and though Raiden is no slouch, it will take considerable practice to completely realize the potential of his various attacks. He’s fully capable of bolting through a crowd without taking a scratch, but he’s bound to falter in the hands of a novice. Yet regardless of your initial skill level, Revengeance is an accessible action game that emphasizes entertainment without overshadowing the importance of depth and nuance.

Beyond the flow of combos and timely parries, Raiden can enter a heightened state of awareness known as blade mode by siphoning electrolytes from his enemies. You can choreograph precise slices that tear through weakened objects and enemies with as much accuracy or desperation as you desire. Tapping light and heavy attack buttons unleashes a flurry of horizontal and vertical slices, with the right analog stick dictating controlled cuts along a projected vector.

Hitting an enemy’s sweet spot, indicated by a pink icon, initiates Raiden’s Zandatsu technique. Reaching into his opponent’s torso, he tears out the spine-like repair unit, crushing it in the palm of his hand with a push of a button. It not only replenishes his health and electrolyte reserves, but it pronounces his deep-seated ferocity.

I may not always dress like an astronaut, but when I do, I carry a giant electrified mallet.

I may not always dress like an astronaut, but when I do, I carry a giant electrified mallet.

Performing the Zandatsu doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part, but if your initial trajectory isn’t quite on point, small adjustments with the left analog stick may be required. It’s usually a simple procedure, but some boss battles require you to find the right pitch and angle under considerable pressure, and it can be a bit of a headache, and frankly a bore, to attempt these same sequences over and over again if you should fail. Such precise demands slow down the pace of combat, one of the game’s strongest characteristics.

The merits of speed wouldn’t shine if it weren’t for the game’s consistent frame rate. Outside of loading sequence stutters, Revengeance almost never skips a beat. Deforming models in direct relation to your strikes calls for heavy calculations on the fly, and it’s nothing short of a technical marvel that the game’s high frame rate doesn’t choke in the process. Raiden can capably whittle his way through most objects, from chain-link fences to armored plated tanks, but your happy-go-lucky slicing eventually collides with the cold reality that not everything is destructible. You can thank Revengeance’s linear design for these boundaries, but the limitations are only a minor distraction from the enjoyment of decimating foe and prop alike.

In an impressive show of style and technical brilliance, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance takes a turn for the brutal and rarely looks back.

By Peter Brown

Minecraft XBLA sells 6 million

Open-ended downloadable sandbox game reaches new sales milestone 10 months after launch.

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition has sold more than 6 million units, developer 4J Studios has announced through its Twitter account. This is up from 5 million at the end of 2012.

The game sells for $20, meaning it has generated $120 million since its original launch in May 2012.

Sales are likely to increase further, as a disc-based Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is coming to United States retailers on April 30. This will be followed by launches in Australia, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan in early June.

For more on Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, check out GameSpot’s review.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Bethesda teases new project but rules out Fallout 4

Publisher teases currently unannounced project on Vine.

Bethesda has posted a short teaser video on social media service Vine.

The teaser shows shots of barbed wire, followed by a spinning 33 1/3 LP by The Moonlight Trio and George Shackley. Flashes of Johann Sebastian Bach and Air on the G String can later be seen.

While Johann Sebastian Bach was featured in Fallout 3′s soundtrack, speculation that Bethesda was teasing Fallout 4 was promptly shot down by Bethesda VP of marketing and PR Pete Hines on Twitter. The latest rumours suggest Fallout 4 will reportedly be set in Boston.

Last week Bethesda promised to make “considerably more noise” in 2013 as a publisher.

Other Bethesda projects rumoured to be in development are ZeniMax Sweden’s “Project Tungsten,” with previous speculation pegging the game as a new entry in the Wolfenstein series. Earlier this year Wolfenstein popped up on the quickly-edited resume of composer Julian Beeston, with a release date of 2013. Beeston marked the game as in development at MachineGames, which was purchased by ZeniMax in 2011 to become ZeniMax Sweden.

ZeniMax also registered the Wolfenstein.com URL back in May 2012.

MachineGames was founded in 2009 by former members of Starbreeze Studio, developers of The Darkness and The Chronicles of Riddick. ZeniMax has said the team is working on a title using id Software’s id Tech 5 engine.

The teaser could also potentially be for Project Zwei, the survival horror game in development by Resident Evil designer Shinji Mikami that Bethesda is publishing.

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By Martin Gaston, News Editor

Volition: Saints Row's 'juvenile' tone doesn't hurt sales

Senior producer says fans enjoy open-world franchise’s irreverent tone, even if they may not admit it.

The “juvenile” tone of the Saints Row series does not hurt sales, but in fact is a component of the franchise’s success. That’s according to Volition producer Jim Boon, who told OXM that fans have spoken and they enjoy the series’ irreverent nature.

“Ultimately, I don’t think that Saints Row’s tone gets in the way of bigger sales. If anything, I think our tone is an element of our success,” Boon said. “Saints Row is quite unlike anything else out there, and I think gamers crave unique experiences–I know I do. We have a lot of passionate fans that love Saints Row, so I think we are striking the right chord.”

Boon explained that past and present management have been pleased with the series tone, including that of this year’s Saints Row IV, which features features a dub-step gun, aliens, and superpowers, among other new features. Boon said former THQ president Jason Rubin had no qualms with this approach and new owner Deep Silver never asked Volition to make any changes.

Boon explained that the Saints Row franchise is much like film series The Hangover, where people enjoy the humor, but would perhaps not be inclined to discuss the subject material with their parents.

“Based on the overall reception and sales of Saints Row: The Third, I strongly suspect many people enjoy this aspect of Saints Row, even if some may not want to admit feeling that way,” Boon said. “Thinking of a movie series like The Hangover–people love the humor but you might not want to discuss some of the finer moments of those movies with your mom, for example.”

“I think the same might be true for Saints Row,” he added. “We do get an awful lot of feedback from fans telling us much they love our juvenile tone–with some asking us to go even further! Ultimately Saints Row IV doesn’t try to take itself too seriously and we even have a lot of fun at our own expense.”

Saints Row IV launches August 20 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. A Wii U version is not happening.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor