What Lies in the Darkness?

I’ve wet myself repeatedly in excitement of the June 28th trailer announcement (among other things) of *dramatic pause* DIABLO III!!! WOW addicts beware! Blizzard really is bringing us a much desired, much anticipated sequel in the Diablo series (for both Mac and PC, yes).

The cinematic teaser is available to watch and if that doesn’t feel you with both excitement and rage (rage that it doesn’t come out tomorrow) I don’t know what will. Blizzard refuses to give an official release date, but gaming gurus around the web are predicting Christmas 2009, but with how much attention Blizzard developers are giving to this game, it’ll likely be 2010. Still, when we get updates, we’ll give them to you.

D3 will be using Battle.net for multiplayer game interaction. I wasn’t the hugest fan of the previous Battle.net for D2–dropped connections, slow connections, etc., but they’ve upgraded it and have it ready to roll for StarCraft II. I guess we’ll see what improvements have been made. It was free before, so hopefully the use of it will be free again (and anyone who knows for certain, please leave a comment).

As for classes, there will be five to choose from–male and female version alike instead of fixed–with the two revealed classes being Barbarian and Witch Doctor (which according to what I’ve read is going to be very similar what Shaman is to WOW).

NOSTALGIC MOMENT: Although I love the World of Warcrack in all its addictive glory (been clean a year now *wink*), I do like to see a game every now and again with a story to it–and that’s what the Diablo series has been for me. (I haven’t yet ventured into Starcraft). I remember the first time I got to see Diablo in D1, and I’m excited to face him again in D3. The wacky maze world in D2, and Mephisto and Baal–all good memories. D3 will be like the high school reunion you actually want to go to. (^_^)

So when the developers finally decide on a release date, you can be sure that Visual Crack will get it and review it–though I’m doubting most of you will wait for the review before you buy.

And if you’ve never played the Diablo series before, they’re probably cheap and could be a fun nostalgic trip, but if you’ve been impressed by Blizzard before, you won’t be disappointed with the new game. When it comes out, get it.

It’s a LittleBigPlanet

The second in my series of “Most Anticipated Games 2008” posts.

With the advent of the most recent generation of gaming consoles has come a giant leap in our expectations of game developers and their offerings. We expect bigger levels, more impressive graphics, and more open gameplay.

Enter LittleBigPlanet, one of the most hotly anticipated games of this year and number two on my own list of games I must own as soon as it hits the shelf. I have actually asked that the celebration of my own birthday be delayed to coincide with the street date of this game. If that doesn’t tell you how excited I am I don’t know what will.

LittleBigPlanet is a truly original concept: a game built for people want to both play and create their own levels and share them over a network. We’re not talking about your average level builder included in some other games. In this game you can build anything you want and if you see something in another level you want but don’t know how to build, you will have different options on how to obtain that item. This is the epitome of “Game 3.0”.

Digital Sackboy.Real Sackboy.Gameplay starts out with the base character, affectionately dubbed Sackboy. He looks exactly like he’s knitted out of yarn. The graphics are that good. Don’t believe me? Compare. On the left you see the digital Sackboy, on the right you see a real knitted Sackboy* (which I really want, by the way). Tell me that doesn’t look amazing.

But it doesn’t end there: Sackboy’s got personality. Feel like breaking out in air guitar in the middle of a run? Go right ahead. Feeling blue? Sackboy’s face – and hands – can reflect that. Compared to other games I’ve seen and played, you have an unprecedented amount of control over the character’s personality and appearance in real time. And the game’s not even finished yet. Come on, even the manliest among you can let that fangirl squee out. Nobody’s going to laugh; they’ll all be doing the same thing.

Character development.Building your level and building your character use pretty much the same mechanic: a bubble above Sackboy’s head filled with various items and shapes you can use. You can even decide what type of material you want to use to make your items, be it wood, cardboard, sponge, or rock. You can make sizzling hot pits to fry Sackboy to a crisp, electrify items to shock the plucky puppet, or even drop in ice blocks that will instantly encase the little guy in an ice cube if touched. The possibilities are endless.

All your base are belong to us!The different items you can actually build are astounding. From things that just look pretty to items you can actually use, you can create just about anything. And if you can’t figure out how to create it, there are people out there who can and probably will. echochrome, another game that gives players the option to build and share levels, could just be giving us a taste of how much creativity we can look forward to when LittleBigPlanet hits the street.

You can make your level as complex or simple as you’d like. When you’ve finished building it you can take it for a test drive and tweak it before you unleash it on the rest of the world. You make the rules for the levels you build (as long as those rules obey the laws of the physics engine, of course). And if you’ve managed to make something totally awesome you can choose to share it or keep it to yourself (just remember: Sharing is caring).

Now, I’ve never been big on multi-player games, but the brains at Media Molecule have done the impossible: just the idea of playing this with friends is enough to send me into a fangirl squee. This game can be played alone, but its real draw is in the cooperative play. Some levels will be a lot easier to get through if you’ve got some buddies to help with the heavy lifting (literally). This is a very social game and the first game that I’ve been excited about largely because of that social aspect.

Just a pretty picture from the game.I was going to link to more individual videos but when I ran across the Gametrailers LittleBigPlanet site I figured I’d just provide you with the link and let you have at it. I will, however, specifically link to the GDC 2007 demonstration video. It’s 18 minutes long but well worth your time. Also, check out Media Molecule’s blog. They’re the guys responsible for this masterpiece of gaming goodness and there’s no reason you shouldn’t pay them a visit.

Another good resource for LittleBigPlanet is the LiBiPl Blog.

*Real knitted Sackboy by one of the artist’s mothers.

Killzone 2 Moved to “Most Anticipated 2009” (list release TBD)

So it seems I’ve been somewhat behind the curve lately when it comes to gaming news. I really need to remedy that. It makes me sad, but Killzone 2 has been pushed to 2009, which means it won’t be joining my series of “Most Anticipated 2008” posts. Bummer. And I don’t get to play it until next year. Double-bummer.

But never fear, because when I finish with this series I’ll release my “Most Anticipated 2009” list and series of posts. In the immortal words of one of my very favorite bloggers: What am I? A giver.

Not-So-Post-Nuclear Simulation Blues

I’ve begun to play Fallout (the original, not #3; I’m not nearly so special that Bethesda decided to give me a chance to play with their new toy before they’ve finished it). For my reaction head on over to Into the Trenches.

Elite Beat Enjoyment

elitebeatMy brother walked up to me and handed me his DS, saying “try this!” With stylus in hand I selected a place to start and starting keeping up to the beat of Canned Heat and I was instantly hooked on Elite Beat Agents.

Ex-CIA man, Commander Kahn, is out searching the globe for those in need of help and sends in his Elite Beat agents to save the day. The object of the game is to keep the beat by tapping your stylus in little circles and “save the day.

Each song features a short story in manga/comic form, the outcome of which can be affected by how well you keep the beat. There are 19 songs, some oldies, some new (and aside from Sk8r Boi, enjoyable). Song list:

elitebeat021. Walkie Talkie Man – Steriogram
2. ABC – Jackson Five
3. Sk8er Boi – Avril Lavigne
4. I Was Born to Love You – Queen
5. Rock This Town – Stray Cats
6. Highway Star – Deep Purple
7. Y.M.C.A. – Village People
8. September – Earth, Wind and Fire
9. Canned Heat – Jamiroquai
10. Material Girl – Madonna
11. La La – Ashlee Simpson
12. You’re the Inspiration – Chicago
13. Survivor – Destiny’s Child
14. Without a Fight – Hoobastank
15. Believe – Cher
16. Let’s Dance – David Bowie
17. Jumpin Jack Flash – Rolling Stones
18. Makes No Difference – Sum 41
19. The Anthem – Good Charlotte

It may be a bit of an oldie (released 2006), but still a goodie, Elite Beat Agents is surpisingly entertaining and fun. It’s silly, but it should pass the time on a train commute or airport wait or whatever and for me, definitely some visual crack. *grin* I’ve seen prices from $9-$29 around the net, used and new.

japanjapan2For those who’ve already worn out their Elite Beat Agents copy and are looking for more, there are two Japanese releases available via Amazon.com and Ebay. There’s Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 which is basically Elite Beat 1 &2. WARNING: Japanese skills are probably required. ;) Prices I’ve seen range from $30-50 for the import.

Fallout from Fallout

I am extremely surprised right now. Never in my wildest imaginings did I ever think my post on Fallout 3 would generate so much traffic – and quite a bit of dislike, it seems.

So, in order to clarify myself (because I realize that a lot of stuff I left out of the original post was clear to me but not exactly clear to other people) I’ll address a few comments that have been made here and elsewhere.

First off, I know that gamers everywhere will scream blasphemy and curse me for ever calling myself a gamer for saying this, but I’d never even heard of the Fallout series until I saw the teaser trailer for Fallout 3 last year and started reading up on it. And I’ll give you the same reason I’ve already given elsewhere: I’m purely a console gamer and have been for most of my life. Any computer games I played were games that my dad bought and, sadly, he never brought home Fallout. Also, keep in mind we come from a fairly small city in the western US and at the time the Fallout games came out it wasn’t exactly hopping with electronics and game stores. Then I ended up overseas for a few years which meant I had to deal with the selection at my base BX (if you have any military experience at all you know exactly why that’s a significant factor here).

Second, because I’m pretty much just a console gamer I’m very much used to the structure of console games which, I gather from people who play more of both computer and console games than I do, have a different general structure than computer games. I realize that computers can run more complex games than a console can so my amazement at Fallout 3 having so many endings, even if they are just permutations, is due almost entirely to the fact that I’m used to console games with only about 10 endings or so – max. The way things are done in the Fallout universe is completely new ground for me. Yet another reason I find this new game so intriguing (and why it’s my most anticipated game coming up this year).

I would also like to point out that I’m not judging this game solely by the teaser trailer. It was enough to get my attention, which is what teaser trailers do. If it hadn’t been as cool as it is I would probably not have been quite so interested. By this point I really just want to see a new trailer with gameplay video. I’m getting a bit tired of drooling over screenshots.

If you’ve got anything to say about this series feel free to comment. I want to hear more about it and the more I hear from people who’ve played it, the more I want to play. I welcome your insight and, you never know, you may just be turning somebody else on to the series. I’m all for spreading the gaming love.

The Anticipation is Killing Me! (Pt II)

I somehow managed to completely miss the news that Bioshock is on its way to the PS3. I know, I know. How can I consider myself a gamer? Well, at the moment that is neither here nor there. The important thing right now is that I have to reexamine my “Most Anticipated Games 2008” list and add Bioshock.

So with that in mind, here’s the updated list:

1. Fallout 3
2. LittleBigPlanet
3. Killzone 2
4. Bioshock
5. Resistance 2
6. Mirror’s Edge
7. Dead Space

True, it’s only managed to take the fourth spot, but in all fairness I never thought I’d be playing this game on the PS3 and therefore have managed to get more worked up over my top three. In any case, this means you get to enjoy one more post in my “Most Anticipated Games 2008” series.