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    Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark Announced

    transformers_rise_of_the_dark_spark

    Activision is no stranger to hit game franchises, but one of its more recent surprises has been the High Moon Studios developed shooters based on the Hasbro’s hit Transformers toy line.  Both Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron were big hits with gamers.  Now the publisher is looking to score a trifecta with the announcement of Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, currently in development for current consoles and PCs.

    For fans, there are a few unexpected twists and turns in the Autobots’ upcoming road trip.  First, Rise of the Dark Spark may carry on the legacy of the previous Transformers games, but it will be doing so without High Moon Studios at the helm.  Instead, Rise of the Dark Spark’s development is being spearheaded by Edge of Reality, the studio behind SEGA’s The Incredible Hulk and the recently released free-to-play shooter, Loadout

    Even more surprising, Activision has announced that the new game will somehow tie the Cybertron game universe into the Michael Bay movieverse.  No details have been released on exactly how this will happen.  The story could somehow lead up to the beginning events of Bay’s original Transformers movie and then pick up after or during the events of the upcoming Age of Extinction flick.  Another possibility (used more than once in the Transformers comic books) is that some sort of cosmic event will bring the two distinct universes together.  Activision’s wording in the press release announcing the new game could certainly be construed that way:

    “This third-person action adventure video game goes beyond the movie by uniting the universe of director Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS movies with the ever-popular Cybertron universe. Players will choose from over 40 playable characters from the two different universes as they battle to secure the Dark Spark.”

    Transformers

    Regardless of how Rise of the Dark Spark attempts to bring the two Transformers properties together, fans of Fall of Cybertron and War for Cybertron should still feel right at home, as the new title looks to follow the same formula as the previous entries.  Once again, players will switch between Autobots and Decepticons over the course of the single-player campaign. Rise of the Dark Spark will also feature the return of the fan-favorite multiplayer mode, Escalation, which pits teams of up to four players against wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemy forces in a brutal survival mode.

    Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is currently slated for a June 2014 release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, 3DS, and Windows-based PCs.

     

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    Disney Infinity on PS3 Ruins Day for Little (and Big) Kids

    Disney

    You can’t help but wonder, sometimes, if a company should really see a problem coming.  For example, when SimCity launched recently for EA, the huge demand for the game should have been a clue that EA might want to beef up its servers. Now, it seems, Disney is learning that same lesson the hard way with its eagerly anticipated game, Disney Infinity.

    Launch day was HUGE for Disney’s new franchise, which merges the virtual world with real world collectible toys.  There were big launch parties all over, including the official launch event in Times Square.  Meanwhile, reviews of the game were trickling out, praising the game and its future potential (look for our review soon).  Xbox 360 and Wii U owners were hitting social media to gush over the fun they were having with the game … but PlayStation 3 owners?  They were singing a different tune … and one that would likely get cut from any Disney movie.

    Unfortunately, after a Day One patch was installed on the game, PS3 owners found themselves shut out of the Disney Infinity servers.  Unlike the Xbox LIVE servers maintained by Microsoft, the PlayStation 3 servers have to be managed by Disney, and it seemed like the Mouse House wasn’t exactly prepared for the deluge of fans wanting to play in the new Disney Toy Box. Compounding the issue, without the ability to log in, many players couldn’t even get to the opening tutorial.  And those that did somehow manage to get in were freezing up moments into the gameplay.

    As word spread online about the issues with the PS3 version of the game, some people tried to come up with their own fix.  Deleting the patch and staying offline seems to be getting some PS3 owners back in the game, though they are still unable to access the Toy Box mode, one of Disney Infinity’s key selling points.  Unfortunately, without the patch, people were reporting that the game was freezing, locking up, and worst of all, corrupting their saved game data and forcing them to restart everything from scratch.

    As of this writing, there’s been no response from Disney Infinity’s tech support staff.  However, the game’s official Twitter account did post the following:

    “For those who have reached out about issues with the PS3, we are working on it right now and will be back with more info soon!”

    Of course, this came as little comfort to parent who had dropped anywhere from $75 for the Starter Pack to more than $300 for entire sets, complete with packs of booster discs.  Many people took to social media talking about how they were having to now deal with crying children who had been anxious to play the game for months.

    Disney has a lot invested in the Infinity franchise, with many reporting that the company has dropped as much as $100 million into the development and marketing.  With that much at stake, having a technical glitch affect a major portion of your audience is a huge blow and definitely a black eye on an otherwise successful launch.  In the meantime, it looks like PlayStation 3 owners will be busy wishing on a star for a new patch to resolve the issue soon.

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    Devil May Cry is a Reboot Done Right

    Dante DmC

    The Devil May Cry series and I go way back. In fact, the first DmC game was the thing that tipped the scales and convinced me to purchase a PlayStation 2. I would spend endless hours playing and replaying that game in my dorm room as a college freshman. I also played (and hated) Devil May Cry 2. But it was the third game in the series that I fell madly in love with. Devil May Cry 3 was hard, but in that very satisfying way that forced you to improve and rewarded you appropriately when you did. I played through DmC 3 a number of times, and one of my coveted Dual Shock controllers even fell victim to my rage during one particular boss fight in hard mode. While I eventually I beat that boss, I’m fairly certain my blood pressure is permanently elevated by more than a few points as a result.

    As much fun as I had with Devil May Cry 3, I felt disappointed when the fourth game in the series seemed to squander everything that DmC 3 fought to accomplish. It’s not that DmC 4 was bad, but rather that it was intensely mediocre. The combat system felt like it should for a Devil May Cry game, but I felt like the level designs were boring. Plus, halfway through the game you end up retracing your steps through the same levels all over again. Let’s not talk about that “boss rush” crap that happens towards the end. I almost lost a Xbox 360 controller to that nonsense.

    dmc-devil-may-cry-screenshot-4Now comes Ninja Theory’s reboot of the series, appropriately titled “DmC Devil May Cry”. This new DmC aggressively reminds me of all the things I loved about this series. It is hard without being impossible,the combat flows beautifully making you feel in control at every second, and every combo feels satisfying. The game gives you all the tools to defeat higher difficulties, but you need to spend the time to get good at the game. The story is utterly ridiculous, just like it should be, but it makes sense in the context of the fiction that has already been created around these characters and this situation.

    I’m in love with this reboot of something I hold very dear. I’m so happy with it that as soon as I completed it on the medium difficulty, I quickly started a new game to play on one of the higher unlocked difficulties. The last time I did that with a character action game was, you guessed it, DmC 3. If you love combat that’s free flowing and fun and you don’t mind a difficult game with an absurd story you need to play this game. DmC Devil May Cry is easily a “buy”. Even if you’re on the fence, this DmC is easily worth a rental and a play through (probably at a lower difficulty) if for no other reason than just to experience a reboot that feels as good as the original.

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