Tag Archives: Call of Duty

Grizzly Game Review: Sleeping Dogs

Summer is a quiet time for video gamers. With triple-A titles such as Call of Duty and Dishonored not being released until fall, there really isn’t a reason to get excited about summer if you’re a gamer. Of course we have Darksiders 2 which came out earlier this week, but that’s pretty much it.

Or is it?

Sleeping Dogs was also released on Tuesday for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. The game, once went by the name of True Crime: Hong Kong, was under United Front Games’ development before it was dropped by Activision. The publisher of the infamous Call of Duty  franchise decided that doing something different and switching things up are not part of their repertoire, and thus gave up on the title after pooling in a couple of years’ worth of resources and time. Six months after the game’s cancellation, Square Enix purchased the publishing rights to the game. And a year later, the game was released.

So, does the game make you put your dogs to sleep? Wait, that’s a horrible attempt on a pun, like “I’m gonna perform seppuku to express my shame” level of horrible. It doesn’t even make sense. What’s wrong with me?

How about this:
So, will you be playing Sleeping Dogs for a long time? Or will you be watching sleeping dogs online instead?

That’s much better.

Story

The game puts you in the shoes of Wei Shen, a detective working for San Francisco Police Department. He was seconded (or “lent”) to the Hong Kong police to help investigate a triad known as Sun On Yee. Wei was born and raised in Hong Kong for most of his childhood, and has some connections to triad members in the city. These factors make him a seemingly perfect candidate for undercover work in the gang. So, Wei is assigned a handler and his journey on the fine line between black and white begins.

Yea, we have all heard that story before.

Plot-wise, the game is fairly predictable. The characters range from the good-guy-who-turns-out-to-be-the-big-bad to the asshole-who-turns-out-to-be-cool-cat. You know, the usual stuff. Of course, there are also the dialogues practically made out of cheese:

Handler: I’m shutting the operation down because you can’t handle the stress
Wei: You can’t do it now! They see me as one of them. We’re so close!
Handler: That’s what I’m worried about – you’re one of them.

Obviously, we also have the melodramatic sequences in which the protagonist is not sure of his identity. You know, sound bites of characters from both sides of the law playing in the protagonist’s mind as he drives in the rain to confront a major antagonist and sad music about being lost or something like that playing in the background. It’s pretty much a basic requisite for any form of entertainment that involves police working undercover.

Despite of the story’s predictability and cringe-worthiness, I find it, strangely, enjoyable (though not by any means good). How the journey unfolds feels right, and most of the characters are fairly likable. Characters complement each other very well even though they’re molded straight from the cookie cutters of movies or TV shows dealing with Asian gangs. In this case, they picked the right cookie cutters and baked good cookies. They’re nothing mind-blowing, but they are very solid. The story flows well and is satisfying. Like a well-made sponge cake, it is nothing to be excited about, but you’ll eat it. It’s relatively bland compared to other cakes, but at the very least, it will meet your expectations since there aren’t too many things that could go wrong in a sponge cake. In non-food-analogy terms, the game tells an average story. Since the story is pretty easy to execute, and the writers delivered a solid performance, there aren’t too many flaws to be found in the end product. Your low expectations are easily met.

I still don’t understand the title though. Just thinking about it is wrinkling my brain.

(Note: Per TV Tropes. the title is based on the proverb “Let sleeping dogs lie”. It should be interpreted as “leave something alone as it may cause trouble”.  I still don’t get it though. Does that mean the protagonist should have left his past alone? Whatever. I’m done with this.)

7 grizzly paws out of 10.

Gameplay

Throughout the game, you will be completing around 30+ story missions. There aren’t too many varieties among missions. Most of them feature the player getting from point A to point B in a car, kick some asses, chase someone down on foot, and maybe pick up a gun and shoot some people. They’re fun, but not revolutionary. Early story missions introduced side quests. More on that later.

As far gameplay mechanics go, they are pretty well-done. The cars feel grippy, and are fun to drive. The devs did a great job in creating the sense of speed. Driving down the highway has never been more satisfying. Cars have different handlings. You can tell the difference between driving a van and a coupe. I did not like the motorcycles though. Their handling is not agile enough for me to pick them over cars. You can hop from one car to another as you drive, performing a mid-air high jack of sorts. Personally, I didn’t care for this feature. The cars you purchase from merchants are much faster than civilian cars anyways.

The shooting mechanics are so-so. They’re just there because open world games set in modern times need guns. You have a reticle and you shoot people. There are pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, shotguns and grenade launchers.  That’s pretty much it. They don’t feel all that different. You can get into slow motion if you hit X (on the PS3 controller) as you vault over cover. That’s generally how I eliminate the baddies. Bullet time is somewhat over-powering if you ask me. A skilled player can take out quite a number of hostiles in one use.

The fighting mechanics, however, are other-worldly. Picture Batman: Arkham Asylum’s system on steroids.  Unlike Arkham Asylum, you can grapple your enemies in this game, and you need to hit a different button to counter enemy attacks. You can’t chain up insane combos in this game like you can in Batman, but I would take the melee combat system in this title over the other. Why? The combat in Sleeping Dogs is very fluid and much more brutal. You have the usual melee weapons as well. Most importantly, you can use the environment to your advantage. Grappling your enemy and hauling his ass into the spinning blades of a fan cannot be more satisfying. Or drop a car engine on him if you feel like it. Hell, you can throw him off a building if given a chance. It has the hands down most awesome hand-to-hand combat in open world games.

The parkour style on-foot chases are decent. Basically, you hold down the X button to run, and when the screen prompts you to vault or climb, hit the X button. It’s not Assassin’s creed though, since you can only climb low walls. It’s not like you can get to the top of a 10-storey building by just climbing up the side of said-building.  The pursuits are fun due to the diversity in environments. Running through the crowded night market of Hong Kong chasing after a gangster is pretty mesmerizing.

When it comes to side quests, the game offers a decent amount of those. Obviously, there are the usual street races, which are fun because they’re short and the driving mechanics are great. There are also the random encounters, which are diverse in objectives, though most of them follow a similar structure – the usual get to a certain point, do some stuff, and get paid. You may also pursue a romance if you so desire. Romantic interests appear as contacts on your phone after certain missions. You can invite them out for a date. Afterwards, you’ll receive some sort of reward. Most of them reveal the locations of hidden items on the map. These relationships are incredibly shallow since you won’t be able to contact them anymore after that one date (and in some cases, not see them ever again throughout the story). I have no idea why the devs were bothered enough to include this feature.

Speaking of hidden items, there are different types of those. There are health shrines, which boost 10% of your health for every five you find. You can also look for lock boxes, which grant you a generous sum of cash, or clothing items, or even a firearm. You are also asked to keep an eye out for security cameras. These cameras are located all across town and you’re asked to hack them on location. Hacking them will lead to potential drug busts. There are also statues which you can keep an eye out for during missions. These statues, when brought back to the wushu academy, can give you new fighting abilities. The rewards are immediate and adequate enough for you to actively seek out for them.

The critics are in love with the leveling up. To me, it just seems like a no-brainer. You have the cop XP and the thug XP. The former requires you to drive carefully throughout missions and not harm innocent civilians. The latter asks for you to be brutal towards your foes. (Perform an environment attack for example.) They do not contradict each other. There is the face meter as well, which keeps track of your progress on side missions. The more side missions you complete, the more you progress on your face meter. For each level of face you gain, you will unlock perks such as reduced prices of clothes and cars.

Customization options are limited to clothes. Wearing different sets grant you different perks as well. Some increase your XP and some reduce the price of cars. You can also purchase cars from merchants. They are generally faster than the generic civilian transport. Either case, there is nothing too special about them.

Powerups are available in food stalls. Different types of food grant you different temporary abilities. Consuming a can of energy drink will enhance your melee damage whereas eating a bowl of curry fishballs will increase your rate of health regeneration. They are readily available at all times, even during missions.

In conclusion, the gameplay is fine. It will last you somewhere over 20 hours. There is nothing innovative, but there are also little wrongdoings. The game is just fun to play. The complaint will be the devs were playing it a little too safe.

7.5 grizzly paws out of 10.

Presentation

Presentation is where this title shines. Having spent the first 16 years of my life in Hong Kong (which is a shit hole if you ask me), I am glad to report that Sleeping Dogs is a fairly accurate portrayal of Hong Kong. The game covered only one of three major areas of Hong Kong and only four of eighteen districts. Despite of these shortcomings, you can clearly tell the devs did their research. There is a balanced mix of eastern and western architectures across the city. Each district has a distinct feel to it and is a good representation of its real life counterpart. The narrow roads on the slopes of Central and the neon lights in North Point brought me a sense of nostalgia. Certainly, street vendors selling food do not happen anymore and the back alleys are much cleaner in reality, but there is no complaint from me. As a matter of fact, their inclusion gives the city an early-90’s feel, when nasty alleys and food carts were everywhere.

Complementing the city’s sights are the sounds. There are many interesting dialogues going on between pedestrians and they are surprisingly good reflections of the current Hong Kong culture. Some of the swear words / phrases are surprisingly explicit (which is a plus in my book). Well, I’m sure most of you don’t understand Cantonese, so this may not be a point of interest to you. Either case, I must applaud the devs for putting in all that hard work in making the city feel authentic.

I must also compliment the voice acting in Sleeping Dogs. The devs somehow managed to involve big time Hollywood actors in the project. Names such as James Hong, Will Yun Lee, Lucy Liu, Tom Wilkinson, Kelly Hu, and even our beloved Emma Stone appear on the credits.  They did a fantastic job in giving lives to the characters they were playing. Sadly, the devs have underused many of these talents. Most of them appeared in no more than a couple of missions only to be ditched and forgotten. For any Emma Stone fans out there, she appeared in only two missions and her character was never mentioned again. Anyways, I must also give credit to the rest of the cast – the ones voicing the nobodies on the streets. They were responsible for making the in-game city alive.

When it comes to soundtrack, the game covered a good number of genres. From Canto pop to Chinese oldies to American hip hop, they have it all. Don’t ask me if I like the Chinese tracks in the game. I listen to English music exclusively. Modern day Canto pop consists of incredibly one-dimensional love songs only. Anyways, the soundtrack doesn’t blow fishes out of water. It’s solid, but it’s also nothing special.

9 grizzly paws out of 10.

With that said…

The game is good. It is nicely executed but lacks in innovation. Without a doubt, it’s much better than its predecessor, True Crime: New York.

7.5 grizzly high fives out of 10

I don’t do round-ups.

Should you buy it?

Not now. As good as the game is, it is not on the level where Square Enix can command 60 bucks. Grand Theft Auto IV was perfection in presentation and Saints Row The Third was creativity at its finest. Certainly, the presentation of Sleeping Dogs is almost on a phenomenal level, but it is not enough to overcome the shortcomings in gameplay.

It’s a good, clean punch but not a knock out.

Rent the game or wait till a price drop (to somewhere under 40 bucks).

Grizzly Game Review: “Max Payne 3”

For years, the shooter genre has remained largely where it was half a decade ago. Most of the innovations within the genre came largely from incorporating elements from RPG games, most notably by including more customization options as well as various leveling up features. The impact of RPG games doesn’t end here, as video games, in general, are becoming more and more plot-driven. Furthermore, the design focus has shifted from single player to multiplayer, as evidenced by the tremendous success of the Call of Duty series. Max Payne 3 attempts to find a balance among all things: story and gameplay, single player and multiplayer, etc. So the question to ask is, does it succeed?

Before we dive into the details, it’s best if you learn a little something about the franchise. Max Payne 1 was developed by Remedy Entertainment (now largely known for Alan Wake) and was released in 2001. Its subsequent sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, would be released two years later in 2003. The series is largely known for its insane, over-the-top, Hong Kong style action by incorporating bullet time and shootdodge mechanics. It is also embraced by fans for its grimy tone and graphic-novel-like cut scenes. Despite of adoration by critics and hardcore fans, Max Payne 2 performed disappointingly in sales and was left to rot. It wasn’t until 2009 when Rockstar Games, the publisher of the games, announced that Max Payne 3 was in development. After two more quiet years, Rockstar Games finally gave its fans a firm release window of 2012. Now here we are, playing the game.

As mentioned, the story of Max Payne has always been dark and noirish. Max Payne 3 is no exception. This time round, the titular character is even more depressed than ever. Not only is he a suicidal maniac who pops pills like candies and substitutes alcohol for water, he also carries guns. Here’s a question. What is the sum of a man with nothing to lose and lots of guns?

*starts humming music from Jeopardy*

DING! DING! DING!

If your answer was lots of trouble, or something along those lines, then I’m glad to tell you that you were right. Basically, Max steps on the toes of some bad people. As a result, he takes up a job offer in Sao Paulo, thousands of miles away from his home in New Jersey. There, he is assigned to protect the wife of Fabiana Branco, wife to the rich and powerful Rodrigo Branco. Fueled by the loss of his loved ones, Max feels absolutely obliged to protect Fabiana. So, when Fabiana is kidnapped, Max goes ahead and unleashes wrath’s of fury upon those who took her away, and more importantly tries to bring Mrs Branco back safely.

For the most part, the plot is fairly straightforward, even predictable at times. It is very much in tone with the first two games, in which smaller events unveil larger conspiracies. Compared to the last two games, the storyline in Max Payne 3 is a lot more grounded and believable. Many had concerns over the atmospheric change in the game, citing that Sao Paulo is not nearly as dark as New York, and hence, the end product would end up going against its roots. Personally, the change in setting didn’t affect me one bit. The story is as dark as ever and the setting doesn’t change that fact. Plus, there are flashback missions set in New Jersey, which should please the doubters. Generally speaking, the story is fine. There are, however, a couple of moments which are clearly products of lazy writing, and they can’t simply be disregarded.

With that being said, why should you care about the story? The answer is simple. Max, as a character, is extremely well-written. The character development is very organic. Events throughout the game bring subtle changes to Max’s personality and approach. The dialogues, filled with Max’s sense of dark humor, are amazing. I especially enjoyed the line which Max says, “I had a hole in my second favorite drinking arm,” after taking a bullet in his left arm. The presentation compliments the character study very well. The largely varied soundtrack sets up the atmosphere. Cut scenes highlight snippets of important quotes by characters. For those who miss the comic-panel cut scenes, Rockstar has incorporated various freeze frame cinematic techniques. The cut scenes are rendered in real time using the game’s engine and they look absolutely gorgeous. As a result, the transition from cut scene to gameplay is very smooth (with no loading screens), and is a very nice touch for a plot-driven game.

As cinematic as it is, Max Payne 3 is still a video game at the end of the day. So, how does the gameplay fare? I am glad to report that the single player mode is still very “Max Payne” at heart. Run and gun is undoubtedly the way the game is intended to play. If you intend to duck behind a wall and blind fire until your bullets hit someone, then this is simply not the game for you.

To discourage players from hiding behind covers, Rockstar has brought back the health pack system. Well, it’s a Max Payne game after all, so instead of calling health packs first aid kits, we call them painkillers. More importantly, the health regen we’re so used to is almost non-existent. Your health will only regen by a bit if you’re on the verge of dying.

In addition to the old school health system, the maps are large and are designed for flanks, which your foes are more than happy to do. Some of your enemies will lay down cover fire while the rest will charge at you. As you can see here, the AI is fairly smart. They aim with surgical precision, making the game that much harder. This is also the very reason why bullet time is so important in this game, as it gives you more time to aim. The bullet time bar depletes at a significantly higher rate on higher levels of difficulty, further amping up the challenge. Slow-mo shootdodging is still somehow possible when the bullet time bar is empty. You wouldn’t want to use shootdodging unless in desperate circumstances since it takes a while for Max to get back up on his feet after performing the move, deeming you a sitting duck at this point. Even though you may still fire your weapons at any direction in prone position, it is still a significant disadvantage. Should the player run out of health with at least one painkiller in possession, the screen will go into slow motion, giving the player a chance to take down the enemy who fired the fatal shot. If the player succeeds, Max will be revived.

For people who are not used to a run-and-gun styled gameplay, the game provides three aiming options. The hard lock would aid the player by snapping on targets automatically; the soft lock would only snap on the target closest to the reticule once the player aims down the sight; the free aim, as its title suggests, will give you no aid whatsoever. I went through the game with free aim and have come to conclude that it is the most satisfying of the three options.

Like any typical Rockstar game, there are various collectibles hidden throughout each level for players to find. These collectibles come in the form of clues and golden gun parts. Clues give players a better understanding of the story and Max’s past. Golden gun parts grant players larger clip size. Each firearm contains 3 golden parts. Once the player has managed to find all 3, he/she can enjoy the benefit of a larger clip for that particular weapon. The weapon will become gold-tinted as well.

Other than the story mode, the game also features a couple of arcade modes. In Score Attack, your primary goal is to gain points by finding ways to kill your enemies as stylishly as you can. The fan favorite New York Minute is also back, in which you start out with one minute on the timer, and time is added as you kill more and more. Personally, I have no interest in the arcade modes whatsoever, since they play out the exact same scenarios in the game and offer up little differences.

Presentation wise, the game is phenomenal. The graphics look fantastic, and the RAGE engine combined with Euphoria, as usual, feels realistic. It is particularly noteworthy that each bullet is individually rendered. Bullets whizzing all over the place in bullet time is absolutely a thing of beauty. When you manage to finish off the final bad guy in the area, a bullet cam is triggered, which follows the bullet on its path to take the life away from its victim in slow mo. At this point, the player is welcomed to pump an excessive amount of rounds on the poor fella as he drops to the ground. Wounds are created on bodies, and enemies react according to the spot of bullet entry. If you hit an enemy standing on top of a building in the knee, he might lose balance and fall off the building to his impending demise. Headshots have never been more satisfying, as you watch their lifeless bodies thud to the ground.

Last but not least, there is the multiplayer. Multiplayer is insanely fun *ahem* unlike the *ahem* forced co-op in *ahem * Mass Effect 3 … *ahem*. Players are allowed to customize their avatars, by designing their looks and picking their equipments, as well as forming crews (which would carry on to other Rockstar titles). Each player is also allowed to select a nice variety of bursts, which are essentially perks. Before you ask, yes, the ability to activate bullet time is one of the many bursts. There are also some nice little touches to spice things up, such as declaring vendetta on a certain player. Players are also given options of playing with free aim or soft lock, and would only go up against those with the same settings.

In addition to the standard deathmatch options, the game also includes two unique ones. They are Payne Killer and Gang Wars respectively. Instead of explaining it myself, I’ll let the video do the talking.

There are times when you respawn into the middle of a firefight, which can get really annoying. However, they can be overlooked given the overall level of fun provided by the game modes.

Max Payne 3 is an incredibly ambitious project. Rockstar Games stepped out of their comfort zone into an area they have never explored, and genuinely attempted to revitalize a subgenre of shooting games. Their innovations, while not particularly groundbreaking or trend-setting, are exceptional in today’s predictable video gaming industry. Bottom line, Rockstar Games did set another high bar in terms of technological achievement for video gaming, and Max Payne 3 does provide a fresh, different experience compared to other shooting games. For those reasons, Rockstar Games deserves a whole lot of credit, and our money.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 Announced! Where My Nazi Zombies at?

November 13th, 2012 – You will probably not see Dr. Kronner and I for a week after that date. Via Gamespot, the announcement that came to the surprise of exactly no one was released and it is that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is announced to come out in November, just in the usual CoD launch window that Activision always delivers on to make sure their Q4 numbers are spiked.

So what can we expect from this game? Probably more of the same. Let’s be honest, Call of Duty is becoming the Madden of first person shooters. The differences are pretty miniscule between each individual series. By that, I mean the Modern Warfare series and the Black Ops/World at War series. Both are developed by Infinity Ward and Treyarch respectively, and I honestly prefer the single player of the MW series over Black Ops. However, I will say the multiplayer of Black Ops and the Treyarch team is superior. That and it has nazi zombies which is simply the best party game amongst our group of friends since Goldeneye and WCW/NWO Revenge or Smash Bros or Mario Kart. So with this game, what I’m looking forward to is seeing what improvements they have done to multiplayer, new modes, guns, all that jazz. Of course the maps. As long as I don’t get more maps like Cracked or Hanoi, I will be a happy dude. I almost said happy camper, but that would just make me be a dick.

Anyways, on CallofDuty.com, the reveal shows that it will be tonight on TNT for the NBA Playoffs so I’m sure I’ll update this article tonight once the trailers hit YouTube and the such. Activision in the UK actually jumped the gun before taking down the splash page for the new game by apparently showing the Los Angeles in ruin, not unlike NYC in the last MW game. Other places like China, Japan, and Afghanistan were shown too so like always, this will be a global affair. Again, we await more details to come out so stay tuned to this post once we get more info.

So it’s basically Terminator and Skynet. That’s cool. Maybe some Cowboys and Aliens. Maybe not that cool. Am I playing it? Child please.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2? Yes, please, I want to go to there.

You knew it was going to happen. Apparently Activision does not want you to know it is going to happen but hey, we are going to take the news and run with it. Gamespot is reporting via GameBlog, a French gaming site, that Black Ops 2 definitely does exist. Apparently they stumbled upon some screen shots from the Amazon France site that showed it was ready for preorder before the site decided to shut the page down. Obviously, those sneaky French gaming bastards screen shot the evidence to tell the rest of the world. Of course, they also ended up getting a warning from the French division of Activision demanding the news would be pulled. GameBlog refused and then Activision has decided to blackball them from media events and pull their advertising. Over a game they are probably going to announce soon. Hell, it’s Amazon France’s fault anyways. They just wanted to get their preorder money’s worth before the Euro collapses.

I will say that I mildly dislike the single player on World at War and Black Ops, but the multiplayer experience is definitely better on these games. Why? Nazi Zombies. So yeah, this will be bought for the multiplayer because it still remains the game that most of us writers play and swear at each other constantly. Anyways, this is a boring post so below is my favorite kills/kill streaks. Also, Dr. Kronner loves getting a hatchet to the face in Sticks & Stones.

Button Mashing: Max Payne 3, Resident Evil 6 & Mass Effect 3

This is Button Mashing, Grizzly Bomb’s video game news headquarters. Previews, interviews, rumors and all the latest stories relating to the biggest games, all in one place.

I’m The Wozz, and here are the most important things you need to know for the week of January 23rd, 2012:

Max Payne 3 Shows Off Its Targeting/Weapon Systems

Rockstar Games is doing a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes which shed some light on the new mechanics and technology going into the upcoming return to the Max Payne franchise. The second one is out now, and it goes into some of the ways they’ve fine-tuned the shooting mechanics.

Initially I was pretty dismissive of a new Max Payne. I really liked the first two games, they were powerfully story-driven, atmospheric and the gameplay was enjoyable, to boot. But the bullet-time feature that drove the whole franchise, and revolutionized almost every single shooter after it was getting tiresome by Max Payne 2. It’s a very cool thing to see the first 6 or 7 times, but it eventually becomes a pace-breaking crutch, just like the more recent ‘VATS’ mechanic in Fallout.

But these little promos are really starting to work their magic. Rockstar Games are just some of the best storytellers and innovators in the industry, and Max Payne looks like it’s just as wonderfully dark and unique as ever before. Begrudgingly it’s turning me around.

Resident Evil 6 Announcement – (Side Mission)

Resident Evil fans were abuzz last week because promos for RE6 started being reported at retailers. Posters like this one have appeared in stores around the country, point at a November 20th, 2012 release date:

The news comes, as promised, following a viral marketing campaign from NoHopeLeft.com, which posted dozens of mysterious photos and videos pointing to some kind of conspiracy. The blog repeatedly pointed to January 19th, 2012, at which point the official announcement was made.

Following the reveal of Resident Evil 6 came this teaser:

The trailer reveals the return of Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy, and an amazing amount of content for a first teaser.

Skyrim Creation Kit is Almost Here – (Bethesda Blog)

Coming straight from Bethesda themselves, it looks like the biggest game of 2011 is about to give players the opportunity to create their own content in Skyrim. From Bethesda themselves:

For all you PC gamers, you will be happy to know that the Creation Kit and Steam Workshop are nearly ready. Bethesda is currently working with members of Valve and their modding community to do some final testing and are on track for a public release near the end of the month. The current update plan for the PC is to first release updates as “beta” versions through Steam. This is something you’ll be able to opt into through Steam and back-out of if needed.

Meanwhile, the developers are also working on the game’s latest update. Version 1.14 will patch a lot of the game’s hiccups for all 3 platforms, hopefully making it even easier to lose yourself in Tamriel’s Northern-most province. For a list of all the glitches and bugs resolved in the update, they’re all listed on the blog.

Infinity Ward’s Looking Ahead at Next-Gen Call of Duty – (IGN)

IGN shrewdly discovered that a job listing posted on Infinity Ward’s website is requesting a senior animator “with experience in-game development and an interest in working with next-generation technologies.

It’s not a huge surprise that there are plans to make a CoD game for the next iteration of the home consoles, but Sledgehammer Games has reportedly already done the same. IGN speculates as to the possibility of the job offers being connected, but it will be a long time before the full story is announced – Sony and Microsoft have still not made any official statements regarding the release of new hardware.

Mass Effect 3 Will Feature Kinect Voice Control – (IGN)

If there’s one thing hardcore gamers will come together to support, it’s the unanimous disdain for motion controls and extra peripherals like voice commands. The joypad is king to the dedicated player, so fans were kind of disappointed when it was announced that Mass Effect 3 would allow Xbox Kinect users the opportunity to use voice control for certain actions. However, doubters might want to relax because apparently the voice commands work extremely well, and really compliment the gameplay:

Mass Effect 3 uses Kinect only for voice commands – absolutely no motion recognition is supported. Instead, any command that players previously had to pause the action to access, like Biotic powers, ammo swapping or party member management can now be managed by voice. This allows players full access to Shepherd’s suite of combat options without ever pausing the action.

Most important of all is that this Kinect integration just works. When you say sniper rifle, Shepherd switches to his sniper rifle. Saying “Adrenaline Rush” activates the biotic power. Say “James, Move” and your squad mate moves to the location you have pointed out. During the entire demo, I never once had a voice command not register properly.

“Miranda, Disrobe” The one voice command not accepted…

I don’t own an Xbox 360, and while I’m not heartbroken that I’ll be missing out on the voice commands, I’ll admit that bringing up the power menu or designating your squad to move around during combat can be a chore in Mass Effect. If the tech works as accurately and consistently as IGN says, it could resolve one of ME‘s few flaws, and allow for more fluid, better-paced combat.

Mass Effect 3 PC Specs Announced – (Side Mission)

I know all too well the pain of having to scale back a game’s graphics in order to make it work on my rig (Read: mediocre 5 year old laptop). In fact, I had to reduce Mass Effect 2‘s specs to some extent to run it on Steam and still could only play in 45-minute intervals or run the risk of overheating. It sucks to not be well-equipped, is what I’m saying. But thankfully I’ve got the requirements for Mass Effect 3 right here, so you won’t have to worry about whether or not your PC can adequately handle it:

Minimum Spec:

• OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
*Supported chipsets: NVIDIA 7900 or better; ATI X1800 or better. Please note that NVIDIA GeForce 9300, 8500, 8400, and 8300 are below minimum system requirements, as are AMD/ATI Radeon HD3200, HD3300, and HD4350. Updates to your video and sound card drivers may be required.

• CPU – 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
• RAM – 1GB for XP / 2GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
• Disc Drive – 1x speed
• Hard Drive – 15 GB of free space
• Video – 256 MB* (with Pixel Shader 3.0 support)
• Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible
• DirectX – DirectX 9.0c August 2009 (included)

Recommended Spec:

• OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
• CPU – 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
• RAM – 2GB for XP / 4GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
• Disc Drive – 1x speed
• Hard Drive – 15 GB of free space
• Video – AMD/ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB or greater, NVidia GeForce 9800 GT 512 MB or greater
• Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible

Side Mission also included the fact that in order to run ME3 PC users will have to register and run Origin, both for online and offline use.

Button Mashing: MW3 DLC, Hitman Absolution, ME3 Characters & More

This is Button Mashing, Grizzly Bomb’s video game news headquarters. Previews, interviews, rumors and all the latest stories relating to the biggest games, all in one place.

I’m The Wozz, and here are the most important things you need to know for the week of January 16th, 2012:

Modern Warfare 3’s First DLC Hits Jan. 24 on Elite – (Side Mission)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Elite subscribers are about to get their first downloadable pack, featuring new maps and multiplayer content. The first bundle is slated to kick off what Activision and Infinity Ward call a “Modern Warfare 3 Content Season for Call of Duty Elite,” which essentially consists of 9 months of periodic DLC.

The process will dole out all of the game’s future bonus content as it is finished and ready to go, as opposed to lumping several of them together in less frequent, individual packets, as promised to all paid Elite subscribers.

This initial release will include two maps, Liberation (a take on NYC’s Central Park) and Piazza (an Italian villa), which will be playable in competitive multiplayer, as well as Spec Ops Survival mode.

On top of that, Infinity Ward’s creative strategist, Robert Bowling, mentioned that future packs will include more varied offerings, like new game types and Spec Ops missions, and even the possibility of new weapons:

It is something that we’ve looked at,” Bowling said. “All of that stuff is on the table for us when we’re looking at what sort of content drops we want to do throughout the season.” Bowling added that there’s “a bunch of other stuff we want to experiment with” for future Modern Warfare 3 content drops.

Along with the two above maps, premium Elite members will get access to three more between now and March. Later all of that content will be bundled together and released for the rest of the Xbox Live community. As of now there is no word on a release date for non-Elite PS3 or PC players.

A Full List of Mass Effect 3’s Cast of Characters – (IGN)

Mass Effect is hands-down the most character-driven video game franchise out there, if not for its stellar writing and RPG interactions, it’s because of its unprecedented ability to bring some of your old friends and enemies, complete with your full relationship history, into each subsequent chapter (providing you haven’t killed them all, of course).

This means that fans will be dying to know who is going to make a return in Commander Shepard’s final mission. Well, IGN has compiled a list of confirmed characters you’ll reunite with in your battle against the Reapers:

Ambassador Donnel Udina
Ashley Williams**
Captain David Anderson
Captain Kirrahe**
Conrad Verner*
EDI:Garrus*
Grunt*
Jacob Taylor*
Jack*
Joker (Jeff Moreau):
Kaidan Alenko**

Kelly Chambers*
Legion*
Liara T’Soni
Miranda Lawson*:
Continue reading Button Mashing: MW3 DLC, Hitman Absolution, ME3 Characters & More

PS3’s The 10 Best Video Games of 2011

2011 has been one of the biggest and most memorable years for the video game industry that I can remember. An amazing library of games has come out in the past 11 months, and we were treated a massive fourth quarter that likely took a huge toll on your wallet. As 2012 draws ever-closer and with thanksgiving just passing by, I think it’s time we reflect on the best titles of the year. So here it is, the top 10 games of 2011:

10. Mass Effect 2

I’ll be completely honest; I’m cheating here. Those of you paying attention should know that Mass Effect 2 actually came out in 2010. I’m copping out by using the PS3 port that came out in January as a brand new release because even as a game I’d already played on the more responsive PC, ME2 is one of the most impressive space-sagas I’ve experienced in any medium.

The galaxy you explore as Commander Shepard is as deep and fully realized as those in Star Wars, Star Trek or any other galactic fantasy out there but what really makes Mass Effect 2 an amazing video game is a great story, real choices with actual narrative impact and satisfying, tight combat mechanics.

It’s a good enough package that a year later it would otherwise tie for 2nd place on my list of 2011’s best games, but I can’t quite overlook that it already came out in 2010, so I’ve compromised and put it at #10.

Continue reading PS3’s The 10 Best Video Games of 2011

Call of Duty: Black Ops – Nazi Zombies on the Moon? Nazi Zombies on the Moon.

This is pretty self-explanatory. One of the biggest pastimes for us writers is to get online during the late hours of the night and embarrass ourselves with horrible teamwork and spite for each other (shooting George Romero in Call of the Dead just to piss each other off). We’ve been doing this for almost 3 years now, and looks like we are strapping in for one more time. According to Gamespot, and the Call of Duty website, it has been announced that the latest and last map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops is ‘Rezurrection’ and it will be 5 zombie-infested maps. And yes, we’re going to the moon for this one.

Continue reading Call of Duty: Black Ops – Nazi Zombies on the Moon? Nazi Zombies on the Moon.

CoD: Modern Warfare 3 Trailer

I love Call of Duty. I am aware how repetitive it can get, and that it’s mega-popularity disguises the fact that we play the same damn game every time, but it’s just sooooo addictive. So naturally, just like Madden, and any sports game, Activision needs to continue the cash cow and decided to tease the new game with a trailer in preparation for E3 and the November 8, 2011 release date for Modern Warfare 3.

Now, the reason I’m posting this article is because the developer is Infinity Ward. With all due respect to Treyarch, who developed World at War and Black Ops, the Modern Warfare series is all Infinity Ward and it is the superior developer. The single player is better, the multiplayer is better, the game feels cleaner…after all – they started the series.

Now Treyarch did give us Nazi Zombies so I have to give props, but in comparison there’s a reason why I’m excited for this game. After the trailer, you should be too.  Until  TheBustedBoxes blows your head off while hiding in a corner waiting for you. But then the excitement returns with a hatchet to Dr. Kronner‘s back. So really, it’s a wash and we’re back to full joy and glee.