Author - Jerry Paxton

LittleBIGPlanet 2 – Review (PS3)

First person shooter? Racing? Adventure? Puzzle platformer? What type of game do you want to play? What type of game do you want to make? These are the questions that LittleBigPlanet 2 asks you. In the most basic sense, this is not a game. This is a mighty tool to let you create and experience whatever you want. And to top it all off, Media Molecule tacked one of the best platform games of the past few years on to the disc.

The story mode in LBP2 is fun. One of the best games I’ve played in a quite a while. The (very loose) story present is this: All of CraftWorld is being threatened by the Negativitron and it’s up to you to join with the Alliance to save the day. Well… Maybe it should read more like, ‘All of blah blah… Forget it. Here’s a bunch of levels designed to show off the new crap we put n the game. Have fun!’

Story isn’t so much LittleBigPlanet’s strong suit, but hey, you’re not buying this game for the story. Mario games rarely have much more of a story than ‘The princess is in another castle’ and they are the best platformers of all time. The story mode of LBP2 shows off some the best platforming levels of the last ten years all while teasing the sorts of games you’ll be able to create with a little time and effort. Throughout the game’s core 30 levels you’ll ride bees, shoot cupcakes out of your head, and grapple-hook through flaming forests. Each world shows off a different gameplay mechanic and I can’t wait to see what the community creates given these new toys.

LittleBigPlanet 2, like the first game, comes with the promise of user-generated content. Early adopters of the game have been lucky as it is backwards compatible with all 3 million or so levels created so far for the first game (along with any unlock able content you may have earned in the first title.) The search tools are far more streamlined this time around. Searches lead to content lists, opening a level can link to levels created by the same user, which can further link to their personal favorites and so on. My favorite part of the search tool is the new Media Molecule Favorites list, levels the developers themselves have chosen to show off.

Creating these levels is no small feat, but it Is a little user-friendlier than the first game around. The first game seemed to have endless demo videos to watch before you were allowed to think about touching an edit tool.LittleBigPlanet 2 does away with that, instead opting for a few basic tutorials before you can choose to either continue watching demo content or jump right in and try it for yourself.

Some of the better tools at your disposal this time around are the all new SackBots. These are programmable bots that can be used as enemies, NPCs, or heck… I don’t know… backup dancers? Their behavior is up to you.

Levels can now be linked together to build a game as large as your imagination will let you. Your levels are no longer confined to simple platforming. The intent behind LittleBigPlanet 2 is to give one the ability to create entire games of wildly varying genres. You can do this to your heart’s content with the ability to record your own dialogue, change camera angles at your pleasure, program the behavior of different tools, etc. For a game built around 2D platforming, I’ve started to see FPS-based levels being uploaded. This content generating freedom works well enough now and will only grow with time as users get more creative and crazy.

I’ve got little to no complaints about this title. Jumping is still a little floaty and shifting between foreground, middle, and background can be a tad off at times. Other than that, there is plenty of fun to be had here. Whether you’re purchasing this just to jump in and make your own games or if you’re more my speed and are looking forward to endless amounts of content waiting your consumption, this games has something for everyone. Personally, I’m going back online to play through some LittleBigPlanet recreations of The Human Centipede.

Battle: LA Game Outed by Australian Classifications Board Listing

A new entry on the Australian Classifications Board website suggests that there is a video game tie-in of some kind being created by Konami and Saber Interactive (TimeShift, Inversion). Not much is known about the game save for its publisher, developer, and that it is listed in the ‘Computer Games’ category (also, they rated it MA15+ for strong violence)! Battle: LA is due out in theaters on March 11th, 2011. We have put emails in to both Konami and Relativity Media for comment.

*UPDATE – We received a simple, yet very polite, ‘No comment, but thank you for checking in.’ from Relativity Media. We will update this post when we hear back from Konami.

LINK: ACB Listing

Canceled Thundercats CGI Movie Footage – Confirmed

Here is some test footage from a canceled CGI Thundercats movie. Lion-O is being voiced by the OC’s Ben McKenzie and the CGI itself was created by Digital Domain. Apparently, the plan was to co-develop a movie and game for the franchise but, because of multiple factors, was never created.

Buttkicker Gamer2 Review

You may recall the Obutto gaming cockpit from our recent review. If not, be sure to check it out, however we decided to add one additional detail to the gaming cockpit for even more immersion into our favorite games – The Guitammer Company’s ButtKicker Gamer2

Obutto Gaming Cockpit Review

It has been the goal of many a flight sim jock and race car gamer to have their own home cockpit with which to play their favorite games on. Often, dedicated home cockpit, or, ‘pit’ solutions can run into the thousands of dollars – much more when you get into the motion platform category. While these units offer a lot of realism, they are extremely specialized – e.g. You would not want to use a full-on flight simulator for racing and vice versa. If you are like me – a gamer with a limited budget, looking for a gaming cockpit that has enough chops to give both good flight and racing experiences, or even just general computer usage, then you should take a gander at the Obutto gaming cockpit.

The fully assembled Obutto gaming cockpit with all the accessories.

PURCHASE PROCESS (U.S. Distributor)
Obutto has named a select number of shops worldwide to be their distribution partners, so they are not available just anywhere. Their U.S. distributor is MainPerformancePC – so that’s where we turned when looking for the gaming cockpit. The MainPerformancePC website is straightforward and allowed us a good look at the Obutto prior to purchasing.

ACCESSORIES
There are several accessories that you may consider picking up with your Obutto. First, if you are a PC gamer used to a full computer desk, is the acrylic table top. Sitting on the platform usually dedicated for a racing wheel or flight yoke, the large, black acrylic table top allows you a nice surface to sit your front speakers on as well as any extra PC equipment like a TrackIR head motion-tracker or Nvidia 3D Vision transceiver. The table top retails for $110 dollars and is a very worthy addition to the cockpit system.

Additionally, if you want to use three monitors for an ultra-wide screen viewing option, you will need to pickup the optional triple monitor mounts. These extra monitor arms allows the Obutto to wrap you in LCD goodness. The triple monitor mount retails for $110 dollars.

Most-importantly for flight simmers is the center flight stick mount. While the Obutto comes with carbon steel pylons for a side-stick and throttle setup, having a center flight stick may be preferable depending on your sim of choice. For $55 dollars, if you get ANY add-on for the cockpit, this should be it. Of course, if you prefer flying an F-16D Block 52 Falcon, you would probably want to skip this one.

For our purposes, we added all three of the accessories. Our total came to $759 shipped anywhere in the US, tax not included though for WA & VA residents. The shipment arrived in three large boxes – the main box weighing over 100 pounds so, before you pull something, remember the old saying, ‘Lifting is a breeze when you bend at the knees’.

CONSTRUCTION
The only real problem with building the Obutto gaming cockpit is its instructions. The small, folded piece of paper is not verbose or stepped-out enough for novice builders and you will undoubtedly find yourself looking online for other build stories or images with which to base your construction. Also, the instructions don’t mention that you will need to have your own Vesa screws handy to mount your monitors to the cockpit. It also does not mention that you will need your own socket wrench or hex key. In an IKEA-dominated world, I half-expected them to ship with the cheap ones in the box. To Obutto’s credit, they don’t include them because those ‘punch-out’ tools are often shoddy and do not work right. While I don’t take issue with that point, it would have been nice to know on the instruction page.

One of the carbon steel peripheral arms which connect to the chair frame.

Aside from the shortcoming of the instruction pamphlet, Obutto and MainPerformancePC have a series of instructional videos on putting together some of the pieces of the gaming cockpit (the video links are private and will be sent to you after purchase). Also, MainPerformancePC has some really friendly people willing to answer any questions we had about the unit – so make sure to ask questions if you need to. The overall build time, including the drive to Lowe’s for proper Vesa screws, took about four hours. Once put together, the Obutto is a thing of beauty, its black frame giving an air of spartan, executive style. It is the ultimate conversation piece.

PERIPHERALS
Using the included carbon steel arms, you are able to mount a wide variety of peripherals for your gaming needs. For flight simulators, you can mount a throttle quadrant and flight stick or flight yoke to the Obutto. For racing games, you can add a racing wheel and pedals on the floor board. In most circumstances you should not have to attach the peripherals by anything other than Velcro strips. It should be noted, however, that Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS users can drill mounting holes into the arms and screw down their peripherals.

THE FUN
With the Obutto gaming cockpit finally assembled, we set our gaming rig, routed all of our power and controller cabling carefully around the metal frame (using twist ties and cable cowling), and powered up the PC. Sitting in the Obutto gaming cockpit is a very comfortable experience. The cockpit seat is a professional-grade, high-back chair that hugs your back and bottom. The Obutto also has a large foot pad that can be angled for additional comfort. This also makes a great base on which to set your rudder or vehicle pedals.

The large keyboard and mouse platform attaches to the side of the chair frame and gives you a wide surface that will accommodate any gaming keyboard out there. You can mount the keyboard and mouse platform on the left or right side of the chair, depending on your personal preference. For console gamers, you don’t even need to attach it if you don’t want to. The keyboard and mouse tray’s distance from the user is adjustable by sliding the tray forward or backward along the attachment arm. This is accomplished by slightly lifting the unattached side of the tray and scooting the platform away or towards you. The top side of the tray is padded with a rubbery-foam that allows you to use a gaming mouse directly on it if you like. It also helps one’s wrists to not get chaffed after long periods of gaming.

I feel the need. The need, for speed.

Currently in beta form, DCS A-10C Warthog is a hyper-realistic upcoming flight simulation. We used it as our primary test flight sim with the cockpit, and even mounted the Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS system to the center flight stick and side throttle mounts. With the three screens of the gaming cockpit nearly wrapping around you and the hugging fit of the seat, firing up the A-10C is awesome. We use a TrackIR head-tracking system and having that much screen real estate track with our head movements while at the same time utilizing the center-mounted flight stick is an exceptional experience. We also fired up DiRT 2 from Codemasters for our racing game testing. DiRT 2 features some really pretty visuals and seeing the dashboard sprawled out before me as I took harrowing tracks at break-neck speeds was a treat. The overall immersion that the Obutto afforded me as a sim gamer was a welcome experience that gave me feelings of actual motion at times.

Basic computer usage is also enhanced by the Obutto gaming cockpit by proving a very stable, comfortable surface to type from. I typed up this entire review while on the Obutto and have enjoyed many hours of non-gaming editing on it as well. Although, I should caution you that if you use a wired gaming mouse, the swivel action of the keyboard tray can accidentally knock it off if not careful. To combat this, it is highly advisable that you get a wireless gaming mouse.

Of course, the Obutto is useful in any gaming experience, not just simulators. I played many hours of Breach as well also a long run of Dead Rising 2 on the Xbox 360 while sitting in the Obutto. Whatever I could think of playing turned out to be a great experience on the user level. I simply have no complaints about the unit whatsoever after it was all setup and ready for use.

CONCLUSION
Whether you are a PC or console gamer, racing game fan or desktop flight sim jock, the Obutto gaming cockpit has you covered. In a world where many gaming desks and sim platforms can cost thousands of dollars, the Obutto is an excellent gaming cockpit solution for under a grand. Obutto is also to be commended for not only creating an optimal gaming cockpit but also one of the coolest, most stylish computer ‘desks’ you will every see or have the privilege of using. I can’t recommend the Obutto gaming cockpit enough.

LINK: Official US Distributor Website

DISCLOSURE: GamingShogun was sent a gaming cockpit for review but did also go through the MainPerformancePC purchase process for review purposes.

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.