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‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ hands on preview

- April 11th, 2014

Wolfenstein: The New Order is resurgence of a genre done right.

In the first official hands on demo that premièred at PAX East on Friday, players take control of solider B.J. Blazkowicz who has been tasked with taking down one of the most violent, genetically -and mechanically- enhanced divisions of the Nazi party.

What strikes you first when you sit down to play it for the first time, a pair of headphones secured tightly on your head, is the radiant graphics.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order feels like a next-gen first person shooter that can finally be accessed on both Xbox and Playstation platforms.

The game starts with the player embedded in a fighter jet, blazing through the sky in an epic dog fight.

Like most games, the ranking officer commands Blazkowicz to complete a series of semi-menial tasks in order to keep the plane afloat.

Tedious at points, it’s all worth it for the stunning ten minute dog fight sequence. Between the crisp audio, generous graphics, and decent control scheme, it’s a great intro to the game.

Once landed, however, the game turns into a traditional Wolfenstein game, except for one important element: a lack of shocking, horrifying images.

I’ve only played a couple of Wolfenstein titles, but one of the biggest elements to each game that I vividly remember was the sense of absolute terror hiding around every corner.

It made sense, when the context of each game’s plot was taken into consideration. Nazi games should be scary, and less glorified.

Instead, Wolfenstein: The New Order feels more like DICE’s Battlefield with action elements woven in throughout the demo.

Granted, this was just a demo, and in no way does that account for what the entire game will feel like, but it was one of the biggest concerns I found myself thinking about after I finished playing.

Chances are, there will be horror intricately placed throughout the game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t.

As much as MachineGames, the developer behind the newest Wolfenstein instalment, is going to want to appease the biggest Wolfenstein fans, they’re also tasked with the incredibly difficult job of creating their own game within the franchise.

In fact, Wolfenstein: The New Order is the first title of the nine game franchise that wasn’t developed by Id Software, instead handing the reigns off to MachineGames.

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MachineGames may not be as well known as their Wolfenstein predecessor, but they’re in no way an amateur development team.

Magnus Högdahl, one of the founders of the company, was a founding member of Starbreeze Studios, the development team behind The Darkness, Syndicate, and Pay Day 2.

It’s fair to say Högdahl isn’t a stranger to creating action games, then.

That’s precisely what Wolfenstein: The New Order comes off as. A fiery mix of Battlefield, Syndicate, and just a hint of previous Wolfenstein titles.

It’s a little more colourful than previous instalments, and a little more eyebrow raising, but that’s what made it fun to play.

It feels like an entirely new world moulded into a familiar universe.

Wolfenstein: The New Order will be available on Playstation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and One, and on PC May 20.

E3 2013: The Last Guardian still alive

- June 12th, 2013

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Never have so many questions been asked of so many people about a single game’s status. So let’s add another piece of wood to the fire.

Notably absent from E3 this year is The Last Guardian, an upcoming (or is it?) game from the creators of the modern classic PS2 titles ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. It seems every interview with a Sony executive includes a question about the game. Is it cancelled? On indefinite hiatus? Is it going to be for the PS3 or the PS4? There have been conflicting messages.

So at the end of an interview today with Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, I simply asked him if The Last Guardian is still something we can look forward to.

“I think The Last Guardian is something we can look forward to,” House said with a smile. Which doesn’t really clear a whole lot up, other than the game isn’t yet dead. Or maybe he just meant we can look forward to it the same way we look forward to winning the lottery. Doesn’t mean either will ever happen.

No, I’m gonna go with the “will come out some day” interpretation of that remark. Trico lives!

E3 2013: Two new ones from Ubisoft

- June 10th, 2013

Which one’s fast, and which one’s furious?

Call it World of Carcraft.

Ubisoft has taken the wraps off The Crew, a next-gen driving game that’s kind of like an MMO on wheels. Set in a virtual USA that includes detailed recreations of New York, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas and more, the game will urge players to form up into groups and take on Fast & Furious-style missions ranging from races to taking down an armoured truck

I went hands-on with the game Sunday afternoon, and it shows some promise. Developed by new studio Ivory Tower, which includes members of both Eden Games (the Test Drive franchise) and Reflections (the Driver series), the game will allow players to hop into any spot in its sprawling, persistent world, in which each city is the size of Grand Theft Auto IV’s Liberty City.

The game is developed with “co-opetition” in mind, where players group up for missions but then receive individual scores based on how well they perform. There’s a staggering amount of car customizability, and doing missions earns you the automotive equivalent of loot, netting upgrades that improve various aspects of your ride.

I played a very early build of the Xbox One version of the game (which marks my first time using the new Xbox One controller to actually play a game – felt great), and while there’s plenty of visual shine, it’s still got a ways to go. But that very specific Venn diagram overlap between car nerds and MMO fans should go nuts for the game when it comes out early in 2014.

The Crew will feature lots of licensed vehicles to race, roll and wreck.

Also coming up from Ubisoft is a new next-gen Tom Clancy game, called Tom Clancy’s The Division. Now this… THIS sounds intriguing. Based on the idea that society is always “nine meals away from anarchy” – that is, three days without food, water or services until all hell breaks loose – the game will cast players as a decidedly non-super soldier, part of a group of jacks-of-all-trades trained to activate if the world goes to hell.

The backstory of the game involves a pandemic spread through currency on Black Friday, and the game will play as a third-person shooter melded with an open-world online RPG – think Watch Dogs meets Day Z. It’s an ambitious departure for Ubisoft and the Clancy franchise, and I can’t wait to see more.