Feature | Beyond the Cube (September 2011)

By Calum Peak 19.09.2011 2

Beyond the Cube: The World Outside Nintendo

Welcome one, welcome all to Beyond the Cube, Cubed3's foray into the world outside Nintendo. Last month we took a look at the San Diego Comic-Con event, as well as a series of previews covering the latest in the Assassin's Creed and Soul Calibur franchises. This month the news hasn't stopped rolling in, courtesy of Gamescom, PAX, and the first Call of Duty XP event. On top of this, we also have a hefty review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution for you to sink your futuristic teeth into and even more previews covering Journey, Rayman Origins and Dragon's Dogma! So, saddle up and let's take another look at the world outside Nintendo this month...


Activision Hosts First Call of Duty Expo

Call of Duty has taken the world by storm, with each year's release seemingly bigger and better than the last. To mark this achievement, Activision hosted their first annual Call of Duty XP event, unveiling Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer, as well as allowing attendees to participate in tournaments for prizes, play paintball on a fully realised version of Modern Warfare 2's Scrapyard level or eat in the game's Burger Town restaurant. In a show of good faith, all the money that was raised from ticket sales and other means was donated to Call of Duty Endowment charity, which helps ex-military veterans get into civilian careers. Attendees were also rewarded with a copy of the Hardened Edition of Modern Warfare 3, containing a subscription to the social network-inspired Call of Duty Elite, which grants stat tracking, videos and access to all upcoming DLC.

Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer showed off some significant adjustments, and it is claimed that Infinity Ward worked closely with the community to make it the best yet. Firstly, they overhauled the killstreak set up into 'strike packages': Support, Assault and Specialist. Support focuses on support type kill chains, lending a hand more to remotely controlled UAVs, upgraded team armour, EMPs and Anti-Air guns. Assault focuses more on kills and defence with predator missiles, Juggernaught suits and the all-favourite AC130. For the Specialist package, Infinity Ward took a different stance for the lone wolf players. Instead of killstreaks, for each kill they get players are awarded perks up to eight kills, meaning they can stack Sleight of Hand, Deadly Silence, Sitrep, etc., on top of each other - however, they reset upon death.

To add more depth to level progression and unlocks, they have also added weapon proficiencies. The more you use a certain weapon, the more proficiencies you unlock for it, improving it in areas such as Kick (reduced recoil), Extra Attachments (two attachments), Focus (reduced recoil when hit) and Stability (reduced sway). Other major changes which have been made to the core gameplay can be found below:

  • No Commando (and thus no knife lunges of epically unfair proportions).
  • No Last Stand.
    [li]No Tactical Nukes.
    [li]Killstreaks are now point-based.
    [li]No shotguns as secondary weapons.
    [li]No One Man Army (also evil an evil perk!).
    [li]Call of Duty Elite subscription is £35 for the year, or included with the Hardened Edition.
    [li]20 DLC packs coming - though they are included in a Call of Duty Elite subscription.
    [li]DLC dropped monthly for elite players instead of packages.
    [li]Kill Confirmed - a new multiplayer deathmatch mode which requires players to pick up the dog tags of fragged enemies.
Modern Warfare 3 is set to release worldwide on 8th November.

PAX Prime 2011

Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX as it is more commonly known, opened its doors at the end of August in Seattle to a flood of over 70,000 attendees, all eager to get their hands on the latest games and news. No significant announcements were made, but the news jumped all over the place with tidbits of information from different developers.

  • [a href="http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/08/28/bioware-with-mass-effect-3-commander-shepards-story-is-complete/" target="_blank"]Bioware states that Mass Effect 3 will complete Commander Shepard's story, but the Mass Effect universe will continue.
  • Atlus announces a Persona 4 remake for PlayStation Vita, and teases at [a href="http://andriasang.com/comxu1/" target="_blank"]Persona 5.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution will receive 'The Missing Link' DLC in [a href="http://www.destructoid.com/deus-ex-to-receive-the-missing-link-in-october-210507.phtml" target="_blank"]October.
  • Batman: Arkham City will have a [a href="http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2011/08/30/batman-arkham-city-will-have-new-game-plus.aspx" target="_blank"]New Game Plus mode.
Other News

  • Counter Strike: Global Offensive announced, will feature cross-platform play for PC and PlayStation 3, but not for Xbox 360.
  • Razer announces new [a href="http://www.razerzone.com/blade" target="_blank"]Blade gaming laptop featuring OLED context keys and advanced graphics.
  • Same sex [a href="http://twitter.com/#!/DCDeacon/status/106531907218579457" target="_blank"]marriage allowed in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. DLC will be arriving on the Xbox 360 first, with two expansions planned so far.
  • Kinect Star Wars has been delayed until [a href="http://www.oxm.co.uk/32722/news/kinect-star-wars-delayed/" target="_blank"]2012.

  • Battlefield 3 will span two discs on Xbox 360, and a trailer showcases impressive presentation and destructible environments. It will reportedly take 100 hours to unlock everything.
  • Devil May Cry 1, 2 & 3 have been rated by the ESRB for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, hinting at a [a href="http://www.g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/716112/devil-may-cry-1-2-and-3-rated-by-esrb-for-the-ps3-and-xbox-360/" target="_blank"]HD collection in the future.
  • Max Payne 3 is set to [a href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-09-08-max-payne-3-out-march-2012" target="_blank"]launch on March 2012.
  • OnLive's game streaming console will arrive in the UK on [a href="http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/08/11/onlive-arrives-in-uk-22nd-september/" target="_blank"]September 22nd 2011.
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2 is likely to be in [a href="http://www.destructoid.com/looks-like-epic-mickey-2-may-be-in-development-210015.phtml" target="_blank"]development for multiple formats including Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well as Wii.
  • Level-5/Studio Ghibli collaboration Ni No Kuni has been confirmed for [a href="http://www.gameranx.com/updates/id/2946/article/ninokuni-north-american-release-confirmed-for-2012/" target="_blank"]North America in 2012.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

(Square-Enix :: Xbox 360 , PlayStation 3, PC)

Whilst the world waits with baited breath for the annual game release massacre of the autumn, one title has not strayed far from many critics' lips in the past month. That is, of course, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the prequel to one of the most highly regarded titles on PC. Echoes and whispers of the game have been bounced around since 2007, but now Human Revolution has finally hit home. Was it worth the wait? Let's take a look...

The year is 2027, and it's a future that isn't too hard to see from where we are now. Technology has blossomed and created advanced cybernetics termed 'augments', and yet the world is still split and dysfunctional. You take the role of Adam Jensen, a gruff speaking, ex-SWAT mercenary whom now lends his expertise to Sarif Industries, one of the major pioneers in human augmentation. Before you can say 'predictable', however, Jensen's life is literally torn apart as his body becomes decimated and he loses his partner, Dr. Megan Reed, when Sarif HQ comes under attack by a militant force. Jensen's body is painstakingly put back together by Sarif, granting him an impressive arsenal of augmentations, and he sets out to uncover the attackers, understand Megan's death, and unravel his own mysterious past.

These augmentations that Jensen now possesses lend their hand to make the game world more dynamic by allowing the player to tailor Adam to their play style through the use of XP and Praxis kits, which allow the unlocking and upgrading of abilities. Are you an all-guns-blazing kind of fellow? Upgrade your strength and weapon proficiencies. Or maybe you prefer to take the Sam Fisher approach and sneak and stealth kill your way through? Cloaking, hacking and noise cancellation is where you want to be focusing on. Whichever way you play you'll have a lot of fun, as Eidos Montreal have incorporated multiple paths to the objective and ultimately, different outcomes (some of which pull on the heart strings), encouraging multiple playthroughs.

Throughout the story different locales are presented beautifully, from the streets of Detroit to the lofty skyline of Hengshaw, and it certainly feels like you get to see it all, since the narrative has you discovering areas that you never knew existed, especially if you are pushing for completion without killing or setting off any alarms. The world of Deus Ex feels like it has been dipped into the pallet of a renaissance artist. Everything from the clothes to the story have a flair about them that mixes seamlessly with the futuristic architecture that is contrasted against dark and light; reminiscent of many masters of the era. Similarly, Michael McCann's score sets the tone of the game perfectly; whilst the selection is relatively sparse, you would be hard pushed to find audio that matched the style of a title so perfectly.

There are a few issues with the yellow-tinted world of Deus Ex: Human Revolution however, the most prominent problem being the boss fights. For a title that allows you to avoid almost complete confrontation (if you so choose) of any type, springing those players into what is effectively a one VS. one against a tank is not fair in its own right - it causes a major difficulty balancing issue within the game and may dishearten some players. Occasionally the story is fairly circumstantial and a few plot holes pop up from time to time as you are led on with small teasers about Jensen's past that are never fully delved into, and the ending leaves you wanting more. In that regard it is relatively short for an RPG. However, with scheduled DLC appearing in the months ahead, Adam Jensen may become more fleshed out.

Overall Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a near perfect title that rewards both fans of the original and newcomers alike. The world shows off its impressive grandeur, the narrative brings in a heavy undertone of deceit, corruption and severe social dysfunction to the table, while the visual and audio fidelity that Eidos Montreal have created brings the Deus Ex universe to life. There are some gripes with gameplay and general progression, but Eidos Montreal have done a fantastic job with Human Revolution that no one quite expected - it would be quite difficult to find a better game this summer. You never asked for any of this, but you need it. 9/10


All previews written by Mike Mason, Reviews & Features Editor.
[a name=journey]


(thatgamecompany :: PlayStation Network (PlayStation 3) )

Thatgamecompany have wandered lonely as a Cloud. They have eschewed the normal thorns of games - the violence - and delivered only the Flower. Now it is time for them to take you on a Journey through a dream-like world of sand dunes, mysterious ruins and wanderers with pin-like legs. It is glorious.

During the entire time I played Journey, I was offered no direction in-game or by booth staff. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, pottering about for the sake of it, but despite this Journey felt excellent. Your spindly-legged avatar sweeps sand into waves as he skips through the sand nimbly, his cloak billowing around him. Sand stretches out as far as you can see, smooth mountains formed on the surface, the odd broken pillar or derelict temple dotting the landscape. It's barren but absolutely beautiful.

Push your way up a hill and your reward is the chance to glance around at yet more of the environment, before skidding right back down again as if cutting up snow on a board. Happen upon a decrepit, rotting banner, flicking in the breeze as if wistfully remembering better times, and you can reinvigorate it, filling it with colour and ancient symbols once more before it burns away brightly. 'Saving' these scrolls will open up holes from which pour dozens of cards, floating around in a way reminiscent of Flower's petals. Activate these cards in the same way as the old banners and they will aid you, building new bridges to cross or launching you through the sky, allowing for spectacular jumps that give the impression that, however briefly, you are one with the wind.

Journey has been designed with co-operative play in mind, though not in wholly traditional form. Players connected online will be able to meet complete strangers, random pilgrims, to adventure together. Unlike other co-op titles, there will be no communication between players, no PSN IDs floating above their heads - thatgamecompany want people to experience working with others, building bonds, through their travels alone. Single player Journey is a treat; we can't wait to see how adding multiple players changes the game's feeling.

Rayman Origins

(Ubisoft :: Xbox 360 , PlayStation 3, Wii, 3DS, PlayStation Vita)

If this is what happens after a series is abandoned for years, unexpectedly taken over by ancillary characters in a sister series, then bring on the next Raving Rabbids. Rayman is finally back in a starring role in his own game after being tossed aside by his moon-dwelling bunny antagonists, and he could not have returned in better style than Rayman Origins.

The visuals. Oh my word, the visuals. Using Ubisoft's UbiArt Framework, which automatically distorts and animates artwork so that the artists only need worry about posing models and editing silhouettes, Ubisoft Montpellier have put together a game that looks like a truly gorgeous HD cartoon. The environments tick with life, while Rayman and his merry band of cohorts, huge on the screen, have never looked better.

Rayman Origins is a more simplistic approach to the franchise than the 3D efforts, taking the form of a 2D platformer with a heavy emphasis on co-operative play. Up to four players can join in, jaunting through a variety of stages - we only played the jungle level, but platformer staples such as icy, fiery and cloudy stages are in there too - to save the Glade of Dreams from the Bubble Dreamer. It's very easy to pick up and play, offering several user friendly features. If only one player can make it to an exit, all will be dragged along so that nobody is left behind. If somebody dies they swiftly return, inflated like a balloon and bouncing along until somebody 'pops' them, just as in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Enemies are dispatched with a quick slap to aerate them, leaping into them to burst them in the same way.

From what we played, Rayman Origins does not do a huge deal that is fancy outside of the fabulous art, but it offers good quality, simple platforming that should appeal to a wide range of people. We're looking forward to getting more time with it when it's released in November.

[a name=dragon]

Dragon's Dogma

Capcom :: Xbox 360 [tested], PlayStation 3)

The short Dragon's Dogma demo we tested was a little dogged by framerate issues, stuttering around more than was favourable. There is potential for a good game to burst out from beneath those distractions, though, with six months or so to go until release.

Capcom's own Monster Hunter and Team Ico's Shadow of the Colossus are clearly large influences on Dragon's Dogma. Selecting the field stage, we were faced with the challenge of clearing the area of some pesky goblins with the aid of three talkative AI chums. Not a problem - you can dive in sword first, or pick them off from afar with your bow. That is until a griffin swoops in and starts causing trouble, breathing fire and assaulting your team. The challenge then shifts towards a battle to bring down the beast, slashing at its legs while it stomps on the ground, firing arrows at its sizable wings when it retreats to the sky temporarily.

Blood stains its feathers and the ground as its injuries become more severe in battle, its movements becoming more frantic and deadly. In its weakened state, you are then able to have a team mate launch you into the air and onto the creature's back, gripping on and attempting to carry out a lethal blow to its cranium in a manner that directly cribs from Team Ico's classic.

Bringing an end to the griffin also finished the demonstration. When Dragon's Dogma is released you'll be able to pick between magic-focused mages, the slash and smack attack type found here, and speedier guys and gals to trample around a huge open world plagued by monsters. Interestingly, the non-playable characters in your party can be 'borrowed' by other players online - we'll have to see how that works out next year.

This month has been an explosive one in terms of news and previews to say the least. Next month the summer drought will officially be over, so expect reviews on Dead Island, Gears of War 3 and Bethesda's post-apocalyptic shooter Rage. There will also be hearty coverage of this year's Tokyo Game Show (TGS 2011) as well Eurogamer Expo, which takes place in London at the end of this week. We hope you enjoyed this month's look Beyond the Cube - catch up with you next month!

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RT (guest) 20.09.2011#1

Excellent article! I'm particualry interested in Rayman Origins, I am the world's BIGGEST SUPER FAN and love the fact it's back in 2D again, those games were the greatest!

Jman (guest) 21.09.2011#2

So despite Wii selling boatloads, it delivered nowhere near the experience for me that the PS3 and 360 did. Both of which are still going strong, while the Wii is all but dead.
Just goes to show, as a consumer, big sales don't mean everything. Games do.

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