Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
Developed by: Relic Entertainment
Published by: THQ
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Rating: M (for Mature)
Price: $59.99, Standard Edition, $99 for Collector’s Edition
What's a Space Marine to do? You’ve conquered alien worlds, you have been tested in combat and only one foe can take you down. Marcus Fenix. I know, it’s an unfair comparison. You shouldn’t look at Space Marine and have thoughts of Gears of War, but sadly, with its release so close to close to Gears, it’s a comparison that will be cemented in history.
Developed by Relic Entertainment and published by THQ, Space Marine isn’t the first Warhammer to grace consoles. It is, however, the most successful offering of the Warhammer series on video game consoles.
The story starts off with a planet that’s being invaded by orks and the Forces of Chaos. You are introduced to Captain Titus, this big, bad super Space Marine who’s sent – with a small unit of Space Marines to bring the rain to the enemies of the Imperium.
The plot is rather interesting. You start off bailing out soldiers who are overrun, outmatched and outclassed by orks. You start off with your basic weapons – a Bolter – this automatic pistol – and a Chainsword. Yes, a chainsaw sword. You have two options during combat – use your pistol/rifle to take out enemies or melee. Melee is really where this game shines. There are limited health power-ups throughout the game, so you have to rely on getting health via hand-to-hand combat wins. Every ork you send to the great beyond, you get power. When you do a special move – you stun them with the B button on the Xbox 360 controller and hit B again to do a wicked execution. That execution, no matter how low your health is, replenishes your health bar fully. As your Fury meter builds, you can call on the name of the gods to unleash some serious Act Right on your enemies. With FURY engaged, you can enter RANGED FURY, which slows down your aim, similar to the use of slowing time in Fable and Timeshift. With FURY engaged in melee combat, it makes for spectacular attacks.
Space Marine multiplayer is sweet. It’s not hard to find a match (even for me with an early copy THQ sent me before retail release) and get your game on. Be forewarned – if you are feeling thrifty, you will need to buy a special code to access online features. You can play online without it, but you will be limited in what you can and can’t do online. The code will cost $10 and is available on Xbox LIVE or PSN.
Here’s the skinny from the Warhammer site:
Space Marine will feature an ‘Elite Pass’ for the Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms. A single-use code will be printed on the back of the manual found in all new copies of the game which unlocks the full multiplayer experience. Players who don’t have the pass will have access to the entire single-player campaign as well as multiplayer modes and maps, but they will not be able to progress past rank 5 or unlock any of the associated upgrades. Users without an Elite pass will be able to purchase one for $10 through the Xbox Live and PlayStation Network stores.
Now, there are some issues with the graphics. They look good, not great. The environments feel wide open, and other times they seem congested and close quarters. It can be annoying at times. While the art style is rather impressive, the overall graphic presentation feels uneven at times.
Audio is great. The soundtrack is haunting and truly a work of art. The voice acting is ok, though all of the voices feature actors and actresses from Australia, I suspect. Plus, hearing the orks scream “Space Marine” several times during the game gets old fast.
Which leads me to a very important point: As sweet as the game is, there’s one glaring problem. The issue? The timing of the release is really, really bad. When you release a game, you should look to see if another competitor is releasing a similar game within a month or two of your title. You never want to make consumers choose against an established franchise, especially when this game – aside from the level ups and wild ending – emulates Gears of War in sooooooo many ways. The chainsaw kills and executions are a dead giveway.
Sadly, I see the genius in this game. I really enjoyed playing through it, but due to the timing of the release – and the simple fact it really brings nothing new to the table for gamers, it’s a title that will forever be in the shadow of Gears 3.
Pray for a redeployment, Space Marine.
The verdict? 7.5 (out of 10)
Dead Island: Special Edition
Developed by: Techland
Published by: Deep Silver
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Rating: M (for Mature)
Price: $59.99 Standard Edition and Special Edition, $49.99 for PC
Anyone who knows me knows how much history zombies and I have. I have learned more in my short time here on the 3rd rock about zombies than I care to ponder on. Not only are zombies the reason for my sole entry in wikipedia at the moment - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_4_Dead_2 - but they have this unreal following. Why do they rock? They are undead folks who are sick and want to make YOU sick. Kinda like children who want to make their parents the host lol.
Developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver, Dead Island gathered serious attention with this trailer.
With the attention and hype surrounding this video game, which will become a movie, I was hoping that the game would deliver half of what that killer trailer revealed. It did, but Houston, we have a problem.
The game starts off with players able to choose a survivor. There's an ex-athlete, an assasin, an ex-cop and a washed-up rapper who looks an awful lot like Bubb Rubb (The Whistles go WOO-WOO Bubb Rubb) sans Lil Sis. Each player represents a different skill class. Choose wisely - it could come back to haunt you later.
You wake up after a wild party to an empty hotel in an exotic locale. As you wander the dark, empty hallways, you see a body fall from several floors above you. Yikes! Then, you end up getting chased by a horde - yepp - a horde of undead Tea Party zombies - sorry, wrong review - zombies who will kill you if you don't follow instructions. This is where the game gets really, really interesting.
You wake up in a lifeguard station and the man who saved you starts asking you to do fetch missions. This is the where the beauty of Dead Island shines through. It's somewhat open sandbox and you can spend your time, at your own pace, looting and relooting honey pots (the respawns are wicked) and finishing the game quickly, or taking the M4d Ski11z approach and investing over 43 hours into the game.
If you do opt to advance, most missions will advance you a level or close to it. Each level unlocks neater weapons to use. When you start off, you have a few basic tools - a rusty pipe, a paddle - but later levels, you are welding fireman axes, heavy pistols and my personal fave, the Ripper mod, that combines a baseball bat, a battery and circular blade for a bloody mavelous time.
The graphics look ok, well, the ones you interact with. Make no mistakes, the environments are impressive in the distance, but up close and personal, not so much. The enemies and undead look pretty good, though some of the zombies will surprise you when they jump out and scare you out of your seat.
However, and it always seems to be a however, Dead Island isn't Paradise. It has some serious glitches that the reported day one patch didn't fix. Sometimes, you will exit the game and the disc freezes - and you have to reboot your console. Then, when you reload the mission or area, all of the quests you finished are marked as unfinished. The only way to trick the game into realizing you did complete the task is to go halfway to your objective. Something happens and the game realizes 'Oh yeah, they did do this already.'
There were other glitches, including the undead swatting and connecting with me through wall and doors. At least you can kick them off of you through the obstacles.
As frustrating as the game is, and the ending that makes you go 'Hmmmmmmm,' it still is a load of fun, especially with online co-op and multiplayer. The co-op mode was very similar to Borderlands, though it was much easier to find another player to help you on your missions. If another player is close by while you are playing, a message will appear on your screen.
The glitches may make you pull your hair at times, but the game is crack. No wonder people are paying $100+ plus for the Gamestop-only Special Edition of Dead Island. It's a game that really will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The verdict? 8.25 (out of 10)
PS3 Wireless Stereo Headset
Made by: Sony
Available on: PS3
I am a music purist. I can't tolerate devices that skimp on delivering great audio. I may tolerate some video games, but my music? Nope - no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Fortunately, Sony's new PS3 Wireless Stereo Headset doesn't disappoint.
The headset is very lightweight - it feels very flimsy but should hold up under daily use. The earpads are large and thick and will fit over Spock's ears lol. The sound reproduction is impressive, especially in 7.1 surround sound. The earpads feel cheap but keep the sound locked in. The mic retracts in and out.
Out of the box, the headset is ready to connect to your PS3. It communicates to the PS3 via a USB dongle. A previous system update included drivers to make this headset work. After a quick charge with the supplied USB cable (the batteries are internal and require charging), power the headset on by pressing the left side of the device in and release. Immediately, the headset will roar to life. If your TV is on, you should notice on-screen notifications whenever you adjust the volume, mute the mic or enable surround sound.
The battery last a reported 7.5 hours, though I haven't tested it that long. What I am curious to see is how long will the battery last and what happens when it loses its charge and needs to be replaced.
The surround feature isn't the only features worth mentioning. Via Sony's web site:
7.1 digital surround sound* enables you to hear the enemy before they see you
Crystal clear conversations to strategize with teammates
Breathable oversized earpads allow for hours of comfortable gameplay
Stay informed with exclusive on-screen headset status updates
Enjoy hi-fidelity sound while watching your favorite movie
Easily access headset Volume and Mic Mute controls
Retractable microphone for use only when you need it
There are a few drawbacks. First, the headset will only work on a PS3. That's kinda sad because the headset does excellent sound reproduction, but it's only enabled for the PS3, hence the name.
The second drawback is the headset's actual construction. Everything feels like you can break it easily. That's not a good feeling to have if you have bear claws like mine.
Still, it's an impressive piece of equipment and gives gamers to crank things up in their world - or on a Blu Ray - to unreal levels without disturbing a soul. If you are looking for good headphones to use with your PS3, check these out.
The verdict? 9 (out of 10)