Tag Archives: Rockstar Games

Heists Coming to GTA Online In March

The long-awaited and much complained-about feature that Rockstar sold to fans from on the onset of GTA Online is finally coming to the multiplayer community over a year later. Four-player heists are launching on Grand Theft Auto V‘s ambitious multiplayer platform in early March. Continue reading Heists Coming to GTA Online In March

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Grand Theft Auto Online Revealed: Not Your Average Multiplayer

Today Rockstar Games unveiled the core details of its new multiplayer service, and boy it’s a doozy. Like the gameplay trailer that came out a month ago, a lot of information is divulged in a short amount of time so let’s get right to it:

A persistent and continually expanding world” is the mission statement of Grand Theft Auto Online. In it, up to 16 players can run amok in Los Santos, engaging in a ridiculous amount of activities that include the expected things – ‘classic online modes’ (We’re guessing team deathmatch type stuff), racing, recreational sports and random acts of violence – but also what appear to be more scripted missions similar to those featured in the single-player game. These ‘jobs’ reward the player with cash which can be used to customize characters, vehicles and weapons or homes and garages to keep some of the fancy cars, planes, boats (and telescopes?!) amassed over time. It’s basically a whole separate version of Grand Theft Auto V you can play with 15 of your friends.

What’s more, the trailer promises that Rockstar will be dedicating itself to adding more and more content to the multiplayer over time and, on top of that, a content creator is built-in to allow players to custom build their own deathmatch arenas and vehicle races. In short, GTA Online is designed to keep expanding long after its release.

GTA Online

A wonderful Redditor who goes by the username /u/ColdPhone compiled a list of additional details on GTAO from CVG’s impressions of a 50-minute off-hand preview:

  • Characters from GTA V will appear in GTA Online
  • GTA Online will not always be limited to Los Santos; additional locations are in the works
  • CVG says you can do anything in GTA Online that you can do in GTA V. They list the following: heists, co-op missions, gang attacks, death matches, impromptu deathmatch, races, tennis, golf, base jumping, shooting range, ambient events (hold ups of stores, armored van robberies, crate drops, import/export missions involving car theft, bounties that you can set on other players and people can claim), betting
  • If you are killed while holding money (CVG says 1million as an example) you will lose a large portion of it, and others can steal it. Use banks to keep money safe
  • An in-game smartphone can call your friends whether they are in GTA Online or GTA V. You can also use this to set waypoints for your friends. While using the phone, your avatar moves their lips with yours.
  • While you are driving, you can choose to grant someone else permission over the radio
  • In-game AI will respond to how aggressive you are on your mic (as in, if you’re shouting during a robbery, the AI will react and speed up/become more frightened)
  • Whoever sets up a heist decides who gets what cut of the final money when that money is obtained
  • Garages range from two car ports to 10 car ports
  • Cars can have retractable roofs controlled by the player
  • Missions can be accessed by physical markers or through a quickmatch sort of menu
  • User-made missions can be favorited and rated
  • You can assign other players certain roles in missions based on the particular abilities they have leveled up
  • You can share cash and ammunition with other players
  • There are stealth kill animations, possibly with a knife. The game tracks the amount of noise your character is making, and the AI will respond accordingly
  • You can steal physical items. During the demo, a mission was done in which a bike warehouse was robbed. The bikes had to be transported out in a large truck
  • “RP” are the points you get to level up your character
  • You can use physical gestures, such as flipping the bird
  • All of your info/communications in the game appear in the “Feed.” Rockstar mentioned this as a sort of Twitter for GTA Online
  • You can purchase insurance for your car. By insuring your vehicle, if it gets destroyed or stolen, you can have it replaced by paying a small premium
  • Police helicopters have cameras mounted to the front of them. In real-time, you can watch on live TV (on the news channel in your apartment) players with a high wanted level being chased by the police. There are additional channels with programs such as a crime noir show
  • Heists can have up to 20 different components. A heist is mentioned where a Titan (largest aircraft) is guarded by “Maryweather” (sp?). The Titan is indeed a flyable aircraft
  • There is a heli-pad on the roof of (at least) the largest AmmuNation and the store can also be accessed from there
  • Off the west coast of Los Santos, there is an another island with lots of buildings. This has not been seen before, but the folks at CVG saw it from afar
  • There is a “passive” mode where you cannot shoot or be shot
  • Your online world will always be populated with by 16 human players. You can still have friends in the game with you, but the other slots will fill up with random people around the same reputation level, as well

Some of these details, like AI reacting to your voice on-mic, sound like major gameplay breakthroughs, while others, like car insurance, are smaller elements that altogether deepen the experience considerably. This is not tacked-on multiplayer or a companion piece to the main game. GTA Online is a stand-alone, immersive world-building exercise that happens to be centered around one of the most entertaining video game franchises of all time.

Grand Theft Auto Online goes live October 1st, 2013 and access comes free with retail copies of GTA V.

New GTA 5 Trailer Hits the Internet!

Grand Theft Auto is on a very short list of franchises that can make headlines by releasing a trailer for a video game, though developer Rockstar Games has always made these short previews worth your time  if you’re willing to dig deep. Aside from the showy explosions and crime-ridden tableaus the teasers are known for, Rockstar always makes sure to sprinkle some core details in their carefully selected clips, and fans are known to pick the bones clean of each new reveal. The new trailer for Grand Theft Auto V, which released just today, keeps to the same tradition and showcases some big moments and equally important subtleties.

The first thing to note from the trailer, as with the initial announcement teaser before it, is the variation in Los Santos’s environment. Aside from the sprawling cityscape (which looks pretty varied in itself), you’ll also have mountains, deserts, suburbs, and even, if certain rumors are to be believed, underwater depths to explore. All this geography is a part of a map ‘3.5 times bigger than Red Dead Redemption’, and according to IGN “you could fit the Red DeadGTA IV and GTA: San Andreas maps into the GTA V map and have room to spare.”

That is no small feat; San Andreas itself boasted a map so large that not that many sandbox games have outdone it in the 7 years since its release. To dump two other open world games in there is nearly ludicrous. I also suspect that Rockstar is no longer satisfied with a huge-but-sparse landscape. If GTA IV is any indication, they want their worlds to feel more lived in than previous titles, which means much less sprinting across empty fields with narry a landmark to please the eye.

The next thing to take into account is the focus on characters. For the first time since its early days in top-down camera mayhem, Grand Theft Auto V will have you playing as more than one characterThis implementation is more than just changing up the player skins however; Rockstar has made this element the focus of the game so far. Everything from narrative to gameplay to basic traversal are affected by transitioning between characters in GTA 5. New systems in place will allow you to jump between protagonists during some missions:

[box_light]“GTA V is going to pack solo missions, tag team missions and then big three-man escapades. When this happens, you’re going to either be given the choice of who to control (Don’t want to fly the helicopter? Be the guy shooting out the back of it or vice versa.) or be funneled [sic] to specific characters like Franklin sniping from across the map.”[/box_light]

However you’ll also be able to jump from one character to another whenever you want outside of missions, as well.

[box_light]“When you’re just feeling like roaming the streets of Los Santos, you can switch to whatever character you want – you’ll even take control of them as they’re out living their lives.”[/box_light]

Lastly, there are some gameplay features that are alluded to during all the action in the trailer. Planes will make a return as usable vehicles after their sorely missed absence in GTA IV, and all signs point to racing and the usual smorgasbord of criminal activity maintaining their place in the Grand Theft Auto universe. Gangs become an important focus this time around, as do heists, which look to be the driving focus of the story.

[box_light] “GTA V has a goal. You’re not just trying to make ends meet however you can. You and your crew are trying to pull off five to six heists to bankroll as much money as possible and get on with life. The missions you have in the game are all about setting up these heists, these Ocean’s Eleven/Heat moments. There’s a driving force for your actions[.]”[/box_light]

This is the most appealing feature of all that I’ve heard about Grand Theft Auto V. As much as I love the free-wheeling openness of the previous games, the goofy characters and the snarky parody of the American lifestyle that seems to be threaded throughout the franchise’s history, I’ve never felt much like I was experiencing a momentous narrative. For the first time it looks like a GTA game’s endpoint is more focused than “amass an unspendable fortune and then buy everything in sight”. With the way Rockstar treated storytelling in Red Dead Redemption and the continuing innovations Rockstar makes to their gameplay, this could be the best trip to the criminal underworld yet.

Also thiiiiiiiisssss

What do you think of the Grand Theft Auto V trailer? Sound off in the comments section below!

CCI 2012: Video Games News Recap (Day 1)

If you are a huge video game fan like me, you might be disappointed with how little information regarding upcoming games was released today. Either case, there are some noteworthy ones. Let’s just get straight to the point.

Borderlands 2 Wimoweh trailer

2K Games released a trailer for Borderlands 2, showcasing its environments and enemies. The premise of the trailer itself is actually pretty smart. Foes are seemingly presented as predators on plains, and the protagonists as hunters. We also manage to catch a glimpse of character abilities. Not bad.

Two Screenshots from Grand Theft Auto: V

As the title suggests, we have two more pictures from the upcoming GTA. The game is shaping up great. What made GTA: IV memorable was its city – the city was as much of a character as Niko Bellic. Look at the guy dipping his feet in the waters in the second screenshot, and tell me Rockstar Games is not busting their asses trying to create another lively open-world experience.

Live Action Street Fighter TV Series in the Making

Now this is scary. No Street Fighter games convey storylines good enough to generate any form of motion picture entertainment. It was proven in the mess back in 1994, as well as the one in 2009. Anyways, the producer of the series will be someone who made this:

Titled Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist, the story will follow Ken and Ryu through their early years when they were living in the wild and being secluded and all that stereotypical Asian warrior bullshit. There, they learn some fighting skills from Gouken. Unbeknownst to Ken and Ryu, they’re practicing Ansatsuken, which has a dark and tragic legacy.  Yea, that’s pretty much it. The press release claims that the story will be “thrilling” and “multi-layered”.

Yea, whatever.

I just had to. Guile theme does go with everything.

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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.