Author - Jerry Paxton

Dead Space 2 – Aliens to Dead Space’s Alien

Visceral Games and Electronic Arts gave us a great dose of hybrid survival-horror/third-person shooter goodness with their 2008 hit, Dead Space. For those of you who did not play it, you traversed the game as engineer Isaac Clarke who was tasked with fixing whatever might have caused the USG Ishimura mining ship to go off communications. As it turned out, however, what caused this was an infestation of insane people and undead mutations known as necromorphs.

Dead Space 2 takes place three years after the events of Dead Space. The game begins with Isaac Clarke being awakened inside the future-equivalent of a ‘padded room’ after another outbreak of necromorphs has occurred. Dead Space 2 on the Windows PC platform is a complete step above the first game’s PC port. The controls are smooth and graphics can be pumped up quite a bit over its console brothers.

Overall, gameplay mechanics stay similar to the original, with some exceptions. The best of these changes being the ability to use your ‘gravity gun-like’ telekinesis to grab objects and fling them at targets. More so, the telekinesis can grab things like the spiked limbs off fallen necromorphs. Basically, you can shoot their own spikey bits back at them. Spikey bits, water jugs, mops, etc… This, in and of itself, is extremely satisfying – especially if you are out of plasma charges. Best part is that this ability does not need recharging – you can ‘gravity gun’ things all you like!

Another big change to the gameplay mechanics is the ability for stasis energy to recharge itself over time. This makes the game far more user-friendly than having to constantly worry about your energy reserves. You already have so much to worry about in the world of Dead Space 2: Necromorphs, the mentally-ill, corrupt religious fanatics, and more – so, as Forrest Gump once said, ‘One less thing’. Of course, you can still charge up at stations (the auto-recharge can take a while) so that is an option for players looking for a quick top-off.

If Dead Space is the video game equivalent of Ridley Scott’s classic film, Alien, then Dead Space 2 is certainly James Cameron’s Aliens. Case and point, the entire way I experienced this game was very different than how I experienced the first one. Isaac Clarke as a character reflects these differences as well. In fact, it is quite an evolution and if you have not played Dead Space, I highly recommend you do so before embarking into Dead Space 2 – but I digress. More to the point, in Dead Space 2 I found myself not creeping inch-by-inch into every hallway and room encountered but, instead, often times charging in, plasma cutter blazing, just waiting for a necromorph to pop out from somewhere. As a character, Clarke has already dealt with this scourge before. His ordeal on the Ishimura has forged and hardened him. In the craziest of situations, this man – who not hours before was cooling his heels in a mental hospital, is the most qualified individual to handle things.

That is not to say the game won’t make you jump or surprise you – it will. More than once… However, much in the same way Aliens had its share of jumps, you get to dish out more than your fair share of havoc on the grotesque necromorphs. I distinctly remember one moment where I got jumped by a group of necromorphs: a few of the standard walkers and maybe five of the smaller child mutations. The one thought in my head at that moment was Cameron’s Vasquez yelling, ‘Let’s rock!!!’ as she began blasting away with her smart gun. It is a very satisfying mix of scare and balls-deep action that leaves you with a smile on your welding mask-clad face.

As alluded to before, the visuals of Dead Space 2 are excellent – effective at being both beautiful to look at as well as inspiring terror and dread. Textures are well-detailed and the necromorphs are truly-sickening in their mutations. They have this really gross ‘wet-look’ to them that inspires a visceral (no pun intended, Visceral Games) response. The level design is also well done, with routes being more instinctual than in the first game. Thankfully, you still have your route locator device to plot your course when things do get confusing. There are also several small, alternate paths that you can take – I highly recommend you not be afraid to explore. Often times, loot awaits you – even if you have to slay some necromorphs to acquire it.

The audio in Dead Space 2 is even more impressive than the excellent visuals. The entire aural experience is unnerving and creepy. It is easily the best use of audio I have ever experienced in a video game. From walking past residential hatches where you can hear the muffled horrors taking place inside to the general chaos of entering a public thoroughfare full of panic-stricken civilians, Visceral Games audio folks need some serious congratulations of a job well done. As a topper to the terrifying aural bouquet, even the voice acting is above average and believable!

The only annoying or repetitive parts of the game come in the form of the ‘act or die’ sequences. These are action-packed scenes featuring the player character in imminent danger. These scenes usually unfold in multiple segments and, in order to progress to the next segment (and continue surviving), the player has to perform a specific action in a short amount of time. Often times, it is difficult to make out your objective due to the Michael Bay-style camera shaking and the tons of objects/debris that occupies your screen. If you die several steps into the encounter, you must re-do all the past segments up to that point.

Overall, Dead Space 2 is an action-packed, suspense-filled, and jump-inducing experience which is a great second step in the Dead Space universe. It features all the best things about the original game while upping the ante in several areas. Go out and buy this right now for your favorite platform – you will not be sorry.

Champions Online Announces Free to Play Model Starting on January 25th

Cryptic Studios has announced that its super-hero MMO, Champions Online, will switch over to a free-to-play model on January 25th, 2011. In a surprising move, Cryptic also announced that everything in the base game will be free for players to access – usually, companies lock off higher-level content for paying players. In this model, only the special add-on packs will cost. Not surprisingly, this announcement coincides with the recent launch of Sony Online Entertainment’s competing super-hero MMO, DC Universe Online.

‘It’s a genuine pleasure to be able to announce our release date for Champions Online: Free for All,’ said John Needham, CEO, Cryptic Studios. ‘On January 25, 2011, any gamer or would-be superhero can play within the ever-improving world of Champions Online for no cost.’

You can find out more about Champions Online over at the game’s official website.

DC Universe Online Released, Official Launch Trailer

Sony Online Entertainment has announced the release of their new MMO based in the DC Comics universe, DC Universe Online. The game is available on the Windows PC and PlayStation 3 platforms for a retail price of $49.99 and $59.99, respectively. In the game, players customize and take on the role of a new hero or villain.

‘We’re redefining the genre and blazing a new trail in the gaming industry with the introduction of DC Universe Online,’ said John Smedley, President, Sony Online Entertainment. ‘This is the first true action MMO utilizing twitch-based combat and physics to deliver a completely unique and immersive gameplay experience that is reflective of the creativity, action and strength of the DC Universe.’

Archos 70 and 101 Tablet Demo

Archos showed off their 70 and 101 inch tablets at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, and gave us an up-close look at them. The 70 is their 7-inch display model while the 101 is their recently-announced 10.1-inch tablet.

MLB 2K11 First Look Trailer

2K Games has released a first look trailer for their upcomig MLB 2K11. The game is due out on March 8th, 2011 on the for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation2, PSP, Wii, and Windows PC platforms. MLB 2K11 features Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies and is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB.

Valve Unveils Official Portal 2 Box Art

Valve Software has unveiled the box art for their upcoming physics-based, teleportation-bending, puzzler – Portal 2. The game is due out on April 18th, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, and Mac platforms.

Checkout the PS3 and X360 box shots, After the Break!

DC Universe Online End of Beta Event Announced

Sony Online Entertainment has announced that tomorrow night, January 5th, will mark the end of the beta testing for its upcoming MMO, DC Universe Online. In celebration of this milestone, they are hosting an end-of-beta event called the ‘Battle of the Legends’. During this event, which is scheduled to take place at 6pm PT, players can join in on the side of their favorite DC heroes or villains in battle against one another. Furthermore, celebrity guests will be playing the game alongside you — see the schedule for details.

Official Schedule
* On Wednesday, January 5th, at 6PM PT fight alongside comics legend Jim Lee aka ‘Future Batman’ as he takes on IGN’s Nick ‘Guyman McMonocle’ Kolan and his league of villains in Gotham Botanical Gardens! (PC players only)

* At 7PM on Wednesday, January 5th, Jim Lee will defend humanity as ‘Future Batman’ in the Botanical Gardens against the evil duo of IGN Editors Greg ‘Blue Business’ Miler and Hilary ‘The Temp’ Goldstein! PS3 beta gamers can jump in and assist the Dark Knight, or help IGN rain evil down on the universe!

DCUO is scheduled for release on the PlayStation 3 and PC platforms on January 11th, 2011.

Our 2010 GamingShogun Game of the Year is Red Dead Redemption

The pick for our 2010 Game of the Year is Rockstar Games Red Dead Redemption. Developed by Rockstar’s San Diego studio, Redemption is a riveting tale of a former outlaw drawn back into a world of corruption in order to save his family. The game fully-immersed players into protagonist John Marston’s Old West life, featuring open-world gameplay a la Grand Theft Auto 4 and third-person shooter mechanics, both on horseback and off. With a wide array of characters to meet and quests to complete, Red Dead Redemption turned even the most cynical gamers into fanboys.

Not content with the base game alone, Rockstar Games has released several expansion packs, including the zombie-filled ‘Undead Nightmare’ pack, which have all been very well-received.

2010 GOTY Runners-Up: Mass Effect 2, StarCraft II.

GamingShogun’s Five Most Anticipated Games of 2011

With 2010 rapidly drawing to a close, we here at are taking a look at our most anticipated titles of 2011. However, there was a catch in writing up a list like this. Sure, we could go with the really popular titles like Gears of War 3 or just list out hundreds of titles as not to miss anything being released next year – but, no! We will not do that. This is a highly-focused list of our five most-anticipated titles, regardless of platform. It was a tough call on some of these, but that is the price of brevity.

Take a look at our five most-anticipated titles of 2011, After the Break!

#5 – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: X360, PS3, PC
Due out: November 11th, 2011

Another classic series making a comeback this year, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim picks up where Oblivion left off, this time in the kingdom of Skyrim. The game utilizes a brand-new, internal engine not seen before in past Elder Scrolls games. Skyrim is a mountainous land, with snowy peaks and frosty valleys. The Nord race hails from Skyrim and all of this combined should make for a very visually-stunning environment. Hopefully, Bethesda will leave out the level scaling this time!

#4 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Platform: X360, PS3, PC
Due out: March 8th, 2011

A classic Windows PC title, Deus Ex was an amazing RPG experience that had a marked effect on how the genre would evolve on the platform. The game featured multiple ways of dealing with just about every mission presented and even had several endings depending on the player’s actions. Human Revolution is actually set 20 years prior to the events of Deus Ex, and looks to correct the so-so experience which was Deus Ex 2: Invisible War. In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, players take on the role of a security officer looking to uncover the truth behind a brutal attack. The only questionable note here is that Warren Spector is not behind this project.

#3 – The Last Guardian
Developer: Team Ico
Platform: PS3
Due out: Q4 2011

This is the Team Ico’s first game since the highly-acclaimed Shadow of the Colossus and is a very intriguing title which promises to explore the developing emotional connection between a young boy and a gigantic, monstrous creature. Over the course of their adventure, the two will have to overcome several puzzles and tasks. As the young boy, players will have to command the creature by using its ‘natural behavior’, such as following thrown objects, eating prey, etc. Plus, the game is being designed by Fumito Ueda, who was also the designer of Shadow.

#2 – Mass Effect 3
Developer: Bioware
Platform: X360, PS3, PC
Due out: Holiday 2011

This third part of the Mass Effect trilogy sees the Reapers finally invading Earth causing, as the debut trailer’s main character lays out, millions of casualties in the first day alone. One of the most intriguing things about Mass Effect 3 is that it will pull in what is estimated at over 1,000 variables from the player’s Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 experiences to uniquely alter the universe based on those past decisions.

#1 – The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Platform: PC
Due out: May 17th, 2011

CD Projekt RED’s follow-up to the popular action-RPG from 2007, The Witcher. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings takes monster hunter and protagonist, Geralt, on another adventure with very mature themes and situations. Rumor has it that the timed mouse-click system of combat from the first game has been overhauled as well as the graphics engine, meaning that all of that virtual cleavage is bound to look even better than before. Just checkout this internal video presentation on the title!

So there you have it, our five most-anticipated titles for 2011. Sure, we could make a list of fifty if given the chance – Star Wars: The Old Republic, Diablo III, and even Gears of War 3. However, that would be too easy – limiting yourself to the top five ups the difficulty factor significantly.

What are your most-anticipated titles? Tell us in the comments below!