Feature | Beyond the Cube (August 2011)

By Calum Peak 08.08.2011 9

Beyond the Cube: The World outside Nintendo

Welcome one, welcome all to Beyond the Cube, Cubed3's foray into the world outside Nintendo. We'll be taking a look into the news, the hottest releases and future titles on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PC and Xbox 360 on the second Monday of each month. Though the summer gaming drought has reared its ugly head yet again, it does offer some benefits in relieving release schedules for events and conventions, plus some sweet indie games; there is still plenty to play and see. Last month the San Diego Comic Con took place, releasing a much needed wave of information to satiate gamers worldwide, and Bungie also emotionally discharged the Halo series, to name but a few happenings. We will also be taking a look in depth at a couple of titles that launched over the past month, namely the quirky Xbox Live Arcade title Ms. Splosion Man, and horror FPS F.3.A.R.. On top of this, we have previews from some anticipated Namco Bandai and Ubisoft titles from recent press events. So put on your shades, get a refreshing drink and let's take a walk Beyond the Cube for the first time this summer...

News

Bungie Say Sayanora to Halo

Amazingly it has been a decade since we first stepped into Halo, took control of John, listened to Cortana, and brought down the Covenant. An emotional ride and six games later, developer and creator of their spectacular universe, Bungie, bid a tearful farewell to its franchise. The US developer celebrated its 20th anniversary with a heavy focus on its most precious creation. "Thank you for making our 20th anniversary, and this year's Bungie Day, kick so much ass. As we prepare to become fans of the universe our studio began creating more than ten years ago, it's nice to know that we'll be counted among such esteemed company," Bungie's community manager Eric Osbourn quipped.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

It's not the end of the Halo series, however; the rights remain with Microsoft, who have passed the reins on to 343 Industries. The 10th anniversary will be marked in October with a remake of the original, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, while Halo 4 is scheduled for next year. Since parting ways with Microsoft, Bungie has signed with Activision to put all their focus on a new IP. "We'll be going dark on our studio's next major endeavour - the creation of a brand new universe. You'll still have a home here should you choose to stay , but our next project demands an unwavering focus. We owe it to ourselves to make something better than we ever have before. We owe it to you, as well." Keep your eyes peeled, folks. [a href="http://www.bungie.net/News/content.aspx?type=topnews&link=seeyoustarside" target="_blank"]Read the full letter here.

Comic Con 2011

Batman VS Spiderman, DC VS Marvel - Comic Con in a nutshell. Whilst the event itself doesn't revolve around games per se, there were a few gaming announcements from both Marvel and DC sides. The full list of characters for the upcoming November release Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 leaked, showing off twelve new characters. On the Marvel side expect faces such as Ghost Rider, Dr Strange and Hawkeye - the Capcom side will be getting fan favourite Phoenix Wright, Frank West (previously seen brawling in Tatsunoku vs Capcom), and Nemesis.

Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3

DC fans have been eagerly awaiting more news of Batman: Arkham City and weren't disappointed as The Penguin, Solomon Grundy and Talia have been announced as playable characters that players will be able to get their hands on in late October. Monolith Studios also set a release date for their cartoon-like shooter Gotham City Imposters where players will be able to wage war with fake Batmans against fake Jokers; set to be released on the PSN and XBLA Q4 2012 for $15.

Batman: Arkham City

Director Neil Burger spoke about his big screen adaptation of PlayStation 3 exclusive Uncharted, praising its impressive set pieces, narrative and character development. Whilst details where sparse he stated that he is "throwing himself into the project 100%" and that the script is still in progress with no actors confirmed, though Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper have shown interest.

Other News

  • Grasshopper Manufacture announced Lollipop Chainsaw: Cheerleaders vs Zombies, to be published in the west by Warner Bros., while CEO Suda51 wants the No More Heroes Mobage game to be the bloodiest social game ever...what goes on in that guy's head? However, sales of Shadows of the Damned, the developer's latest title, have not been high in America to say the least.
  • Planetside 2 is [a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/tag/planetside-2/" target="_blank"]coming to PC.
  • EA have [a href="http://www.vg247.com/2011/07/26/popcap-ceo-every-indication-is-that-ea-like-us-as-we-are/" target="_blank"]purchased PopCap games (Plants VS Zombies, Bejeweled) for $750m.
  • L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi and Rockstar [a href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-07-05-la-noire-the-team-bondi-emails-article" target="_blank"]have painfully parted ways over various disputes, and since the game's release Team Bondi are allegedly circling bankruptcy. Rockstar retain the L.A. Noire IP.
  • Bethesda Studios are to release a new IP, [a href="http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2011/07/07/august-cover-revealed-dishonored.aspx" target="_blank"]Dishonored.
  • Goldeneye: 007 moves from Wii to PS3 and 360 under the updated title [a href="http://www.gamingbits.com/xbox-360-news-bits/goldeneye-007-reloaded-announced-for-consoles/" target="_blank"]Goldeneye: 007 Reloaded.
  • Australia finally gets [a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-22/games-rating-agreement/2806200" target="_blank"]R18+ ratings approved by federal and state governments for games - mature games will no longer be hindered by their system.
And Yet It Moves

  • Pay what you like; the Humble Indie Bundle 3 is now available for download on PC featuring Crayon Physics Delux, Cogs, VVVVVV, And Yet It Moves, Hammerfight, Steel Storm and Atom Zombie Smasher. As a bonus, those who pay over the average spend will also receive the games from Humble Indie Bundle 2.
  • The console versions of Battlefield 3 will [a href="http://www.vg247.com/2011/07/26/battlefield-3-dice-discusses-multiplayer-differences-between-console-and-pc/" target="_blank"]feature 24 player online over PC's 64 so as to keep graphics and the experience in tact as much as possible. Battlefield 3 pre-orders are also on par with last year's Call of Duty: Black Ops.
  • EA titles are disappearing from Valve's Steam platform - there is still no clear cut reason why, though speculation suspects disputes between Steam and EA's Origin service. [a href="http://www.australiangamer.com/news/4006_ea_vs_steam_war_continues_-_battlefield_3_the_latest_victim.html" target="_blank"]Battlefield 3 will not release on Steam.
  • PC RTS Heroes of Newerth [a href="http://www.destructoid.com/heroes-of-newerth-goes-free-to-play-206933.phtml" target="_blank"]goes free to play.
  • Sony is testing [a href="http://www.gamesradar.com/ps3/playstation-3/news/sonys-testing-3d-virtual-reality-games-with-headsets-and-everything-early-90s-here-we-come/a-2011071910317107034/g-20060314115917309058" target="_blank"]3D reality gaming, complete with headsets and other peripherals.
  • Windows 8 coding suggests that it [a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/12/xbox-360-pops-up-in-win-8-code-console-game-compatibility-comin/" target="_blank"]may be compatible with Xbox 360 games, leading to the possibility of 360 games being playable on PCs in the future.
  • Console peripheral creators Mad Catz are to [a href="http://www.industrygamers.com/news/xbox-360-games-coming-from-mad-catz/" target="_blank"]expand into game publishing.
  • Modern Warfare 3 is set to become more accessible with options for [a href="http://www.joystiq.com/2011/07/08/modern-warfare-3-will-feature-color-blind-assist-option/" target="_blank"]colour blind players.

Reviews

Ms. Splosion Man

(Twisted Pixel Games :: Xbox Live Arcade)

Ms. Splosion Man

As hilarious as it is difficult, Ms. Splosion Man mixes fiendish platforming with pop music by the bucketload. The titular character saunters, skips and spins between obstacles, all the while spewing out squeakily-voiced girl power sentiments, film quotes and song lyrics - from a range that includes Beyoncé and TLC - without breaking a sweat. Players propel themselves around the increasingly tricky stages by exploding to jump, boost off walls, assault enemies and blow up burnable barrels, with the drawback being that Ms. Splosion Man can only 'splode' thrice before needing to recharge by touching a surface or destroying an explosive.

Picking up exactly where Splosion Man left off, Ms. Splosion Man is more of the same, but is not nearly as hesitant to put the pressure on - from the very beginning it feels as if Twisted Pixel have pulled no punches, thrusting forward new elements and amping up the challenge wherever possible. Restarting after a death, mercifully, is super fast, which lends the game plenty of 'just one more go' credence. If there's a section you truly cannot pass, there's also an option to skip to the next checkpoint - if you're prepared to deal with the consequences...

Tight platforming might make up a huge meaty hunk of Ms. Splosion Man's appeal, but it is garnished with a large range of unlockables and collectables to keep you pushing that splode button. Running with the stereotypical girly-girl theme, shoes are hidden in each level, and there's a mall where any hard-earned coins can be spent on all manner of goodies, from concept art and hysterical videos, to audio tracks, dashboard themes and avatar awards. Then there are multiplayer modes, where up to four Mses can splode through a campaign separate to the single player, downloadable challenges and the terrifyingly difficult Two Girls One Controller mode - as the name suggests, you control two Mses with a single pad.

Not content with creating a great game alone, Twisted Pixel have crammed as much content as possible into Ms. Splosion Man, and the pricepoint of just 800 Microsoft Points only makes the deal sweeter for this well-cooked product. 8/10
- Mike Mason, Reviews & Features Editor

F.3.A.R.

(Warner Bros. :: Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC)

F.3.A.R.

Monolith Productions' First Encounter Assault Recon, or F.E.A.R. as it has come to be known, originally launched on the PC in 2005. Heralded for its extremely creepy atmosphere, it played with light and shadows courtesy of the Lithtech engine and had players gripping their mice in horror as they faced off against the paranormal young girl known as Alma. Fast forward six years through various iterations, shifting development duties over to Day 1 Studios, and F.3.A.R. continues the psychic battle against Alma as her sons, Point Man and Fettel. This time Alma is pregnant and all hell breaks loose on the world as her contractions start. Entire cities lie in ruins and vicious mutants and creatures are ravaging the land; it's the brothers' aim to get to Alma and either save or destroy the child, uncovering their own gruesome pasts in the process.

Both Point Man and Fettel possess unique abilities: Point Man can slow down time and dispatch enemies quickly and efficiently, whilst Fettel acts in more of a supporting role, possessing enemies, buffing up Point Man's shields and exploding bad guys at the flick of his wrist - it's worth mentioning that this game has co-op explicitly in mind. Whilst the run and gun elements of F.3.A.R. work well, with copious amounts of enemies thrown at the players, it is this very aspect that destroys the game. It lacks any form of pacing; gone are the devilish plays on light and things moving out of the corner of the player's eye, and if they are there, you are moved through the areas so quickly that they are barely noticed. The majority of the game plays out in near enough broad daylight with a few darker creepier areas here and there, and any time a 'big scare' rears its head the screen bloodshots and shakes as if to say "Hey! Look! Scary bit coming up!", completely ruining the illusion. This is not helped by the co-op mode either.

F.3.A.R. isn't a bad FPS, but as a horror title players would be better off looking elsewhere. While the controls are good and the areas are varied, it lacks finesse. The opportunity to play through the game as both Point Man and Fettel, as well as multiplayer and co-op modes, ensures that it will last a long time...but it's whether you would want to in light of the series' changed dynamics. 6/10

Previews

Inversion

(Namco Bandai :: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

Inversion

There has been some buzz surrounding Inversion, Namco Bandai's upcoming third person shooter for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, so it was a no brainer that Cubed3 gratefully accepted an invitation to try it out alongside a host of other games that Namco Bandai were presenting. In Inversion players take on the roles of Davis Russell and Leo Degaldo during an invasion from Lutadore aliens which sends the planet's gravity haywire: skyscrapers float, cars fly sideways, etc..

What was really intriguing was how these gravity shifts effect gameplay; whilst there was only a small portion of the game on show of an underground level (no outdoor areas unfortunately), it was easy to see how the game could mess with a player's head. Whilst taking cover and firing, Davis can manipulate gravity in small areas courtesy of his 'Gravlink', which allows him to pick up and throw objects, create cover for himself, and more offensively levitate enemies out from cover or crush them with high gravity. This looks phenomenal, with destructible environments and huge amounts of explosives littered about. There are perhaps too many explosives, actually; repeatedly being killed by stray enemy bullets hitting unnoticed canisters behind you is no fun!

The level's real twists came in the grav points which let you walk on walls and ceilings with enemies above, below and to the side of you; things quickly got crazy. The demo ended with a short zero gravity section as a teaser of what's to come. Inversion's gameplay is fresh enough to separate itself from other third person shooters, and visually it's very stunning - those city vistas are going to look gorgeous whether it's from the ground or as you stand on the side of a building, hundreds of metres above street level.


 

Soulcalibur V

(Namco Bandai :: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

Soulcalibur V

Soulcalibur V was also on show, though not in playable form unfortunately; instead, 10 minutes of a very early build of 1 VS 1 multiplayer was presented. Developed by Project Soul, the team behind the original games, they explained that the new storyline is set seventeen years after the original titles which allowed them to create a new character roster. The story follows the journey of Patroklos and Pyrrha as they chase the legendary weapons, Soul Calibur and Soul Edge.

Project Soul have designed a new dynamic system that allows for increased strategy for veteran players while simultaneously being more accessible for new players with new parry and guard break mechanics. They explained that they have also tweaked the combat engine slightly so that players now have the ability to unleash brave edge and critical edge attacks which deal 60% and 120% damage respectively, similar to Street Fighter's super and ultra combo makeup. From the gameplay shown off, Project Soul know what they are doing; fighting is still fast and fluid with classic characters such as Ivy and Mitsurugi shown battling it out, plus a new character, Natsu. Soulcalibur V still has a long way to go, but it isn't set for release until late 2012 - it's shaping up well from what was shown.


 

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

(Namco Bandai :: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Namco Bandai seem to be going for different feel with their upcoming Ace Combat title, with the story taking place in the near future and closely following one main character. It seems that they have taken a leaf out of Burnout's book. Jets feel considerably faster than before, especially with the new close combat dog fighting mechanic, which allows you to lock yourself onto an enemy and chase them down through the realistic environments (satellite imaging is being used to recreate real world locations) whilst peppering them with bullets.

Namco Bandai have boasted that Ace Combat: Assault Horizon will let players "make metal bleed", and living up to that jets will literally 'bleed' bits of metal and fuel before exploding in a grand fashion. 30 aircrafts and helicopters have been licenced, which opens up new gameplay opportunities such as taking control of a door gunner. 8 VS 8 multiplayer team battles are on the table too, comprised of four wingman pairs. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is set to launch on October 14th.


 

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

(Ubisoft :: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

At an Ubisoft event in west London, a wall of PlayStation 3s were used to demo Assassin's Creed: Revelations' 3 VS 3 assassins VS targets multiplayer. A small briefing by Dr. Warren Vidic greets you, and then the leaders of your groups choose the appearance of your teams. Six different character models were available to choose from, each able to blend in with the wandering non-playable characters so as not to arouse suspicion from the other team.

As an assassin, your team's duty is to rack up the points by killing members of the other team. This at first seems simple - just go up to a target by following the on-screen compass without being noticed, and casually shove a knife into them - but targets have their own tricks as they aim to blend into the environment unnoticed. Walking around in groups is one such basic technique; they can also sit down on benches, which changes the appearances of surrounding NPCs to fool opponents into killing innocents, resulting in the assassin losing their compass for a number of seconds. Targets can also get away by setting off a smoke bomb or knocking their attackers down for about ten seconds, after which they'll have to restart at another point of the map.

All other mechanics stay the same as in previous games; you can ascend buildings, fall and hide in hay stacks and, and if you're an assassin, kill from above. Matches play out over two rounds, giving the player the opportunity to play as both assassin and target. I enjoyed my time playing the game, and it's something to look forward to for all PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC users by the end of the year.
- Stuart Lawrence - General Writer


 

This month has been fairly quiet in terms of a release schedule, but there has been more than enough information released to whet the appetites of gamers everywhere. Next month you can expect a hearty review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution among other previews and the month's hottest news. I hope you enjoyed Cubed3's first look Beyond the Cube and I'll see you next month!

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Comments

AdamC3 (guest) 08.08.2011#1

I'm pretty out of the loop when it comes to non-Nintendo stuff, so this article proved to be a very interesting read!

Afraid6 (guest) 08.08.2011#2

Wow it is great to see more multiplatformer news featured here on Cubed3! I've been reguarley visiting Cubed3 from 2008 and since I started visiting I got a PS3 and play more PC so it is good to see more like this!

Very cool idea. Smilie I was regularly checking other sites for multiplatform news as well before I temporarily stopped due to danger of getting Skyward Sword spoilers thrown at me, so I knew most stuff here already. For those who aren't following all videogame-related news though, it sure is a really neat idea to do one of these each month and sum up the most important things of the past month(s) and future releases.

Oh, and the reviews and previews are really nice as well. Smilie

( Edited 08.08.2011 12:57 by SirLink )

Great feature; definitely what C3 needs.

I've already been keeping tabs on Lollipop Chainsaw. Definitely my type of game, and anything that comes from Suda 51 is automatically awesome in my book.

Only other game there that I'm really interested in is SCV. Already liking the look of Natsu (Odashima released a sketch of her through Twitter, my current avatar), though I seriously hope Mina returns; I've used her since the start. But also them saying they want Final Fantasy guests in the game has me foaming at the mouth. Lightning plz.

Yea, agree with everyone. This is a really nice idea for articles.

I saw a couple minutes of Inversion's gameplay and it was intriguing to say the least. SC5 also looks great. It looks like they're following the SF formula and adding their versions of supers and ultras. I hope it's better than 3 and 4. The first 2 SC's (not including Soul Edge, never played it), were incredible.

Fantastic work Cal! Smilie

Lynaluma (guest) 08.08.2011#7

Wait... Halo is 10 years old?! Bloody hell no way, it seems younger than that imo

Definitely looking forward to SCIV, played III briefly and enjoyed it, and can't wait to see how they expand on it without just simply popping on new faces. Really difficult with fighting games, but the new parry/guard breaks sound good. Needs a good Weapons Master mode too!

Can't believe Halo's ten years old?!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Thanks everyone for the positive comments! If you wish to see something in the Feature or have any queries, just send a PM my way Smilie

Now I need to gear up for next month!! Smilie

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