2K Games announced today that BioShock Infinite will be available on store shelves in North America on October 16 and around the world on October 19. One of the year’s most anticipated games, the Irrational Games-developed title won more than 75 editorial awards at 2011′s E3, including Game Critics Awards’ Best of Show.
“After BioShock, we had a vision for a follow-up that dwarfed the original in scope and ambition,” said Irrational Gamers Creative Director Ken Levine. “BioShock Infinite has been our sole focus for the last four years.”
The first-person horror survival game lets players take on the role of Booker DeWitt, ex-Pinkerton agent, who has an AI companion named Elizabeth. They’re attempting to escape the falling sky-city of Columbia in an alternate vision of America in 1912; the game includes high-speed Sky-Line battles and plenty of new weapons.
Last month, Irrational Games announced 1999 Mode, designed for retro gamers who want to make things a bit more difficult. The mode requires skill development, resource planning and combat specialization. 1999 Mode applies permanent consequences to a player’s actions, requiring restarts and frequent game saves.
The original BioShock, with its underwater city of Rapture and its Big Daddies and Little Sisters, was released in 2007 to great acclaim. The sequel, BioShock 2, made a splash in 2010. BioShock Infinite will be released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. For more information, visit www.irrationalgames.com.
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Namco Bandai is known for favorite franchises like Tekken, Tamagotchi, Dragon Ball and Ridge Racer, so its appearance at E3 is always worth a look. This time around the company released a news item and showed off some exciting projects, including the new Ridge Racer and Soulcalibur games and the shooter Inversion.
The company announced at E3 that Atari and CD Projekt RED will adapt The Witcher 2: Assassin’s of Kings for Xbox 360 for a Q4 release in 2011. The Xbox version will be an enhanced version of the PC game that was released in May.
Details are yet to be announced, but CD Projekt RED Executive Producer John Mamais said, “I’d like to stress that we are doing a full adaptation to the new platform, not just a straight port. Technology-wise, this means we are aiming to push its limits in order to get visual quality as close to high-end PCs as possible.” He noted that the company is looking at feedback from the PC release to help create a polished gaming experience this time around.
The Witcher 2 is known for its freeform storytelling, high-quality graphics and mature themes. It’ll be interesting to see how this translates over to the Xbox.
For this year’s E3, Namco Bandai announced Tekken Hybrid on PlayStation 3; this Blu-ray title features an HD remake of the PS2 classic Tekken Tag Tournament and the new animated film “Tekken Blood Vengeance.” The film is also coming to regular Blu-ray and DVD this fall, and will be the first CG film based on Tekken.
In other Tekken-related E3 news, a new Tekken game will come to Nintendo’s Wii U, and Street Fighter X Tekken will be developed for Sony’s handheld the PS Vita.
Inversion, which is set for Xbox 360 and PS3, is a Saber Interactive-developed game featuring gravity-wielding combat, zero-gravity environments, vector changes and an interesting destructible cover system. This third-person co-op shooter offers players a Gravlink weapon to move objects and manipulate gravity, both to solve puzzles and destroy the game’s enemies, the Lutadore. Players take on the role of a cop named Davis Russel or his neighbor Leo Delgado in order to find Davis’ missing kid among a war-ravaged, gravity-twisted town.
What’s expected to differentiate this shooter is the gravity elements, and this did seem to be the case at the E3 demo. Your Gravlink will let you do things like capture lava and crush enemies in low-gravity mode and high-gravity mode. This provides a lot of flexibility, and the developers apparently want a lot of experimentation to happen. But gravity isn’t always your friend, since it affects your environment and your enemies as well as you. The title supports co-operative and competitive multiplayer for up to 16 players, and is due out on store shelves February 7, 2012.
Ridge Racer Unbounded was shown at E3, but not enough to satisfy the fans who are eagerly awaiting this 2012 release for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Supposedly, racers will be able to crash through every part of the environment, creating their own paths through urban settings. Destruction and chaos seem to be quite the thing here. The game is set in Shatter Bay, a fictional world/car playground.
This game looks much different than the Ridge Racer you’re used to, if you watch the trailer; the game is being developed not in-house by Namco, but by BugBear Entertainment.
Also shown by Namco was Soulcalibur V, the arcade fighting game. The next installment of the series will take place 17 years after its predecessor; expect about half of the characters to be new. The returning characters will be older; the game is set to include the children of some of the original fighters. At E3 it was revealed that the game features more dramatic moves and is more narrative-driven.
A demo for Dark Souls, the follow-up to Demon’s Souls on the PS3 that’s out this October 7, was made available inside a barely-lit mock dungeon at E3. The game apparently plays a lot like its predecessor in terms of control and the amount of times that you die. Running for your life seems to be a good strategy here, although the old hint system does help some. One new feature is bonfire checkpoints, but RPGamer says the game retains its challenging nature despite these assists.
We don’t have too much information about the Nintendo 3Ds game Ace Combat 3D yet; this may even be just a working title. We do know that players will be able to lock on to other fighters using the touch screen. Dogfights, missions and real-world aircraft will be included in this title, which doesn’t currently have a release date.
We do have a bit more information on Ace Combat Assault Horizon for the Xbox 360 and PS3, which gets some realism from the involvement of military author Jim DeFelice, who wrote the story. The game is expected to feature new aircrafts like super-sonic jets and attack helicopters, enhanced shooting and cinematic visuals, plus a powerful new AI. The game’s hero is Colonel William Bishop, a pilot leading an international task force against insurgent rebels and their experimental weapons.
The game will feature 30 missions and at least 30 customizable aircraft; the E3 demo featured airstrikes over Miami, but real-life locations like Dubai and Russia are included as well. The game will feature 8v8 battles, co-op and online play, plus plenty of acrobatics, destructive effects and high-impact battles. This one’s expected by the end of 2011.
Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc.’s press conference at E3 was highly anticipated because of the expected announcement of a new PlayStation portable system, dubbed NGP previously and now revealed as the PlayStation Vita. Also spotlighted were the PlayStation’s 3-D capabilities – clearly, Sony has committed itself to the cause – and new games that will support the Move peripheral.
Of course, the conference started with an apology by CEO Jack Tretton regarding the PlayStation Network’s downtime, who said that network connectivity is now back to 9o percent of what it was before the hack. He announced a new media partner, CinemaNow, before delving into the games – most of which were seen in 3-D by the 3-D audience with the help of glasses .
The Big Games
The first game trailer shown was Uncharted 3, which started Nathan Drake aboard a listing ship and ended with an explosion that broached the ship’s hill. The multiplayer beta for Uncharted 3 begins June 28; and, in October, a promotion will begin that allows gamers in the U.S. to visit their local Subway to get early access to the entire competitive game before it’s fully released in November.
Next came Resistance 3, which takes place in August 1957 about four years after the evenings in Resistance 2. Humans face extinction after the Chimera have won the war, and protagonist Joseph Capella leaves Oklahoma to make a last-ditch strike in New York, which means a sojourn across the country. He teams up with groups such as the Remnants in St. Louis to attack the invaders. The game, which supports Move, is being called a “perfect example” of how immersive action and action-packed gameplay can be done with the help of 3-D and Move. On September 6, Insomniac Games will offer the Resistance 3 Sharpshooter bundle, a package that will include the game, the Sharpshooter, a PS Move controller, a navigation controller and the PS Eye camera, all for $150.
Two collections were announced next: The Gears of War Origins Collection, a re-mastered work that includes Chains of Olympus and Ghosts of Sparta, and Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection, with games fully playable in 3-D available this September.
Apparently, more than 100 3-D games are available on the PlayStation now. And Sony announced that it will soon offer a PlayStation-branded 24-inch 3-D display, designed for affordable access. This display will actually let two people playing a game together to see individual, unique full-screen images, rather than having to deal with the split-screen. Sony will also offer 3-D glasses; both these items are coming in the fall. Also, the 3-D monitor will come bundled with a pair of 3-D glasses, a six-foot HDMI cable and the game Resistance 3 for $499; the glasses will be $69.99 separately.
Sony says the PlayStation Move is gaining momentum, with 8.8 million units sold so far worldwide and 200 games that will utilize it by year’s end.
To show off the way Move is being used in games, Sony brought a guest on stage to play NBA 2K12: Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who joked about the realism in the game and then said, “All jokes aside, this is so realistic it’s frightening.” He claimed that in the game, players ran the triangle offense better than the Lakers did last year.
A new fantasy action-adventure called Medieval Moves: Dead Man’s Quest was shown off next, utilizing the motion controls to allow a seamless transition between swordfighting, archery and projectile-throwing based just upon the gestures being used. A playable demo showed how this will work in the game.
INfamous 2, now available, was shown with its Move support as well. Sony announced that this fall, it would add unique user-generated content experiences to the game, allowing players themselves to create online missions that use Move.
LittleBigPlanet, coming in September, will also get a deeper functionality through letting users add their own levels utilizing Move.
In early 2012, expect a new third-person shooter called Starhawk, complete with mechs and, yes, Move support. Sony also showed off the game Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, expected in 2012.
One interesting bit of news is that the creators of Eve Online, CCP Games, are creating a PS3 exclusive shooter about planetary conquest and ground combat called Dust 514, and the game will come with a feature that’s never been attempted before. The console game will actually connect to the PC MMO Eve Online with a shared universe. The game supports Move and will be in closed beta by the end of the year, with a full release expected by spring 2012.It will also come to the new PS portable
BioShock Infinite was displayed in all its glory, with Irrational Games’ Ken Levine saying that he had expressed early skepticism with motion control until Sony contacted him following an interview and showed him the possibilities. Now, he says, the company is starting to “get our heads around what that means.” What it seems to mean that BioShock Infinite will support Move motion control. Levine announced also that there will be a PS portable game set in the BioShock world. And, by the way, if you purchase the PS3 version of BioShock Infinite, you’ll get a copy of the first BioShock game on the same Blu-ray disc.
Saint’s Row: The Third came up next, so that the announcement could be made that buyers of the PS3 version of the game will get a unique weapon. The game is set for release on November 15.
Star Trek, scheduled for release in conjunction with the new J.J. Abrams movie in 2012, is also set to be 3-D and compatible with Move. At that time you’ll be able to purchase a peripheral modeled after the phaser. And when Star Trek comes out, PS3 players will get the playable prequel to the game, a digital-only title available exclusively on PS3. The footage for this one was early, in the pre-alpha stage.
Electronic Arts came up to say that snowboarding game SSX will offer a special PS3-only race down Mt. Fuji, with 10 drop points and rendering from NASA satellite data. And Need for Speed: The Run’s Ps3 version will actually offer a special Blu-ray disc with seven additional supercards, including the Supersport, the Hennessey Venom GT and the Bugatti Veyron. Battlefield 3, also, will feature exclusive content just for PS3 users; the version will be bigger, offering a Blu-ray disc with an extra game, Battlefield 1943. EA also announced it will support the new Playstation portable.
Sony’s Kazuo Hirai came up to introduce PlayStation Suite, software designed to let owners of smartphones and tablets (on the Android OS, for example) experience PlayStation content and get a taste for what Sony has to offer. “It’s a whole world that will experience our products through PlayStation Suite,” he said.
Hirai then made the announcement about the Playstation portable system. He said that the next generation machine “breaks traditional boundaries of entertainment with new ways to control the device, new ways to interact with your world and new ways to interact with your friends and of course, with your entertainment. ”
The new system will feature a dual touch pad and 5-inch OLED screen, along with dual cameras for an augmented reality experience. The touch pads and cameras will be on the front and the back; the unit features a six-axis motion sensing technology. It’ll be called the PlayStation Vita, the first product that blurs the lines between entertainment and real life. It’ll be available in both Wi-Fi and 3D Wi-Fi models, and incorporates social network and location-based gaming. AT&T will be the exclusive carrier for Vita in the U.S., allowing users free access to 24,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.
Features include “Party,” letting users voice-chat live no matter where they are or in what game, and “Near,” a social connection tool that lets you share and connect with others. Cloud saving will be possible.
Games shown for the PS Vita included Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The Bend Studio guys played a demo to show how the game incorporated the touch screen, traditional controls and tilt controls to create a game that was unique to the PS Vita.
Ruin, which will also be compatible with the PS3, is an action-based RPG with character classes, deep advancement and lots of loot featuring a dynamic combat system. It demonstrated how you can seamlessly transfer your game from the Vita to the PS3 back and forth.
The creators of ModNation Racers displayed just how easy it can be to create a track using the touch-screen, then edit it using multiple touch points to create mountains and other landscape features. More features will be announced in the months to come, but it’s clear that owners of ModNation Racers on Vita will be able to access two million creations – tracks, cars, etc. – made by ModNation community users on day one.
Other games shown include Wipeout 2048, a Vita launch title allowing eight players online either via PS3 or Vita and LittleBigPlanet, offering an expanded toolbox.
Capcom’s Street Fighter X Tekken will also appear on the Vita, and the company’sYoshinori Ono had an exciting announcement to make: Cole MacGrath of the Infamous franchise will join the fights. He said Capcom felt that Cole’s electrical moves and flying attacks would play well in this fighting title.
All in all, Sony says there are over 80 titles in development for the PlayStation Vita, and every major game company has signed on. The system is set for release this holiday season, 2011. The Wi-Fi only model will retail at $249.99 and the 3G model is priced at $299.99.
Sony had some good news to tell for gamers, and it’s nice that the Vita isn’t priced completely out of reach. As a person who owns a PS3 but doesn’t play it much, I have to admit I was convinced that now, I might have to give the system another look.