Author - Jerry Paxton

Details from THQ’s E3 09 Media-Only W40k Space Marine Presentation

If you had a media pass at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, or were just really lucky, you could stand in line to get special look at THQ’s upcoming Warhammer 40k: Space Marine. We have enjoyed THQ’s W40k offerings before, but this game represents a break with tradition in taking the series to a third-person actioner, and we were really looking-forward to seeing it up close. (cont.)
The four and a half minute presentation began with the E3 trailer and was followed up with some random video clips of the game and a question and answer session with the on-hand developers.

The most interesting things we learned during the Q&A was not from what the developer’s would say, but from what they wouldn’t! The way a person phrases a ‘no comment’ statement can say quite a bit. When asked about multiplayer modes, the developers came back by asking us to look at other THQ Warhammer products’ multiplayer features. The dev also let slip that ‘[Space Marine is] not a solo game’.

Another reporter at the presentation asked about character customization. While the developers replied by saying that has not ‘been confirmed’ at this time, we could plainly see in some of the random game clips a screen showing a level 5 sergeant and his stats which looked upgradeable to us. So, we are presuming from this that you will be able to upgrade your character(s).

When I asked about how the single-player missions would be doled out, and if it would be selectable like the Dawn of War II missions are, they responded with another ‘nothing has been confirmed’ statement. There was nothing more to glean from the way they said this but a more dynamic story would not surprise us after how succesfuly it was in DoW2.

Vehicles and Dreadnaughts were brought up in one person’s questioning and the developers slyly responded with a ‘no comment’ and one actually verbalized ‘wink wink’. While a Space Marine actually has to die to become a Dreadnaught, thus not making it likely to be a ‘dread’ in the title, it would seem that they (or perhaps just APCs) will be in the game to some degree – perhaps simply one a supporting fire mission.

One of the issues many gamers seem to have with the E3 trailer for Space Marine is the focus on the space marine chapter known as the ‘Ultramarines’. While most of the ad material for the game also supports their being the central focus on the game, the developers stated that there has never been any confirmation on that fact and that since Space Marine is the beginning of a ‘new franchise’ we should not presume this to be true. Perhaps they are creating a new chapter for this title?

After the presentation was over, I ran into a will-remain-nameless person on the team I know. I inquired as to what game engine the game uses as many believe it to be the same as DoW2. He replied by saying it is actually not the same engine but looks similar as many of the same artists are worked on both titles.

No one would confirm a release date but the game will be coming out on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (hopefully a PC version will be announced at some point). Stay-tuned as new details are released about this game which looks quite intense with some seriously-fun action.

A Behind Closed-Doors Look at SEGA’s Aliens Vs Predator from E3 09

A big highlight of the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo was being able to check out SEGA/Rebellion’s upcoming Aliens Vs Predator. After all, Rebellion scared the bejeezus out of us when we were younger with their first AvP title and brought a healthy dose of action to the scares with its sequel. This, their third entry into the series looks to be an extremely intense roller-coaster ride.

We hiked to SEGA’s meeting room at the convention center and checked in at the press desk. We would like to thank their Senior PR Manager, Tali Fischer, who got us all squared away and into the proper queue to see the game up-close… (cont.)
(cont.) When it was our turn to see the demo, we were led into the small, dark room where we met some of the game’s development team including Tim Jones, the head of art & design on the project, and Paul Mackman, the game’s producer.

They introduced the game and began presenting the demo which featured the colonial marines’ side of the conflict. Set thirty years after the events of Alien 3, the colonial marines have been sent to yet another United Systems’ colony where xenomorphs have taken over.

The first level we were shown was bereft of xenomorphs but did feature claustrophobic hallways and a lot of acid burns through floor and ceiling grates. It resembled the colony on LV-426 from Aliens in art design had was very richly detailed. A big focus was placed on telling us about their in-house Asura game engine and its ability to render real-time shadows. A marine throwing a flare behind a stairwell gave way to a beautiful array of light and shadow. Even the marine character’s flashlight yielded realistic, real-time shadows from the surrounding environment.

The HUD for the marine character is very spartan, leaving the player with more room to enjoy the brilliant visuals. To the lower left corner of the screen is the player’s motion detector with its constant sonar-like pinging of the area. To the bottom right is the player’s weapon info (ammo count, etc).

In another level, we were shown the marines setting up sentry turrets and locking down an area of the colony, to lick their wounds we imagine – they all looked pretty messed up. After the marine character spoke to some of his fellow brothers (and sisters) in arms, they were under siege by xenomorphs. Eventually, the xenomorphs managed to cut the power to the locked-down area and breach the perimeter. What followed was a very intense firefight with a few scattered xenomorphs. One fellow marine was even pulled up through the ceiling by one of the alien creatures to his inevitable death (or impregnation).

The xenomorphs move a lot more fluidly than in the last two entries of the series. Their design looks based on those of the creatures in Aliens (which we found to be the most appealing even over the design of the original Alien) and seeing their carapaces crawling across the walls and ceiling is very unnerving.

Eventually the marine character had to evac the locked-down area and move into one of the entrance tunnels which was under-guard by a sentry turret and a make-shift barricade. Aliens began swarming toward the marine, eventually overwhelming even the turret. Thankfully, the developers spared us a horrific death and ended the demo at that time.

One cool gameplay element we saw was that xenomorphs can jump onto the marine character and begin their ‘inner-jaw penetrating your skull in a grotesque fashion’ sequence seen in the film series. While they were still working on the control system for this, the marine character could kick the xenomorph off and onto the ground in front of him (or her) allowing the marine time to blast it with their upgraded M41 pulse rifle.

Yes, being 30 years since Alien 3, the United Systems Colonial Marines have definitely upgraded their equipment. Their armor is a bit more futuristic in design and their weapons also look slightly modified. How much of this is due to the events of Aliens is unknown as is if the United Systems had covered the event up to the colonial marines, leaving them again unawares. Whatever the case, I am sure the evil Weyland-Yutani corporation will fit into the story somehow.

While no confirmed date was revealed to the GamingShogun and his intrepid crew, an early 2010 release seems probable for the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 platforms.

GamingShogun E3 09 First-Look: Dexter iPhone Game

Yesterday at E3 09 we got the chance to get an up-close look at Showtime/Marc Ecko Productions/Icarus Studios’ upcoming iPhone game based off the popular television series, Dexter. For those of you who do not know about the show, its titular character (Dexter) is a man driven to brutally kill those who he finds guilty of heinous crimes of their own. This, all while working with the local police department as their blood-spatter analyst… (cont.)
(cont.) In the iPhone game, players are tasked with not only carrying out the brutal acts that Dexter commits in the name of his own version of justice, but also on the investigations that lead to them. This adds a lot of variety to the game by giving players other things to accomplish besides killing.

For instance, a major part of the game tasks players with evidence gathering. From following a suspect to sneaking about their residence on the search for clues, Dexter will put together a picture of their guilt or innocence.

Thankfully, a lot of Dexter is voiced by the actual actors from the television series including Michael C. Hall, who plays Dexter. You may remember Hall from his role in the critically-acclaimed Six Feet Under as the homosexual funeral home owner with many inner-demons to battle. This authenticity adds a lot to the overall experience in making it seem like a part of the television series.

The Dexter iPhone game will eventually be an episodic adventure that actually follows along with the television show. For instance, in one of the game’s investigative moments, Dexter is tasked with searching a suspect’s residence for clues. This is not seen in the series episode it parallels, so now gamers and fans of the show know what happened ‘in between’ those critical events. It helps fill out the overall Dexter mythos in a way that only an engrossing game can.

Once your suspect is succesfully abducted, Dexter will proceed with interrogational techniques which would make even the toughest CIA agent flinch in discomfort. He will cut on his suspect and more while goading them into confessing their ‘sins’ (Dexter does not kill those he considers innocent). Once they do, Dexter dispatches them with a killing blow. This is accomplished by a swipe of the finger against the iPhone’s touch screen in the case of a knife or similar object but can be different patterns for varying instruments.

Dexter features very nicely-rendered 3D graphics which give many PSP games a run for their money. Controlling the Dexter character can be accomplished by using a virtual joystick on the screen or the iPhone’s accelerometer (although that method seemed to need a bit more fleshing-out.

Overall, Dexter for the iPhone looks to be a great addition for long-time fans of the series as well as people who have little knowledge of the TV show at all. The Dexter iPhone game will be released later this Summer. Current, its price point is still being determined.

GamingShogun Previews Sega’s Alpha Protocol at E3 2009

The fine folks at Sega were nice enough to give us a preview of their upcoming spy shooter, Alpha Protocol at E3 2009. I hesitate to generalize or limit this game by calling it just a shooter because it’s so much more. Before, and even during missions, your actions and interactions with other characters determine how you progress through the game.

The player is based at one of a number of safe houses all over the world. At these safehouses, the player can purchase new weapons, select new missions, even view trophies from previous missions. One interesting feature is a dossier set on all main characters the player meets in game, including notes on techniques to deal effectively with the character… (CONT)
A player can choose either a stealth or commando skillset for each mission.  Prior and during missions, the player will encounter and interact with other characters.  The player is then presented with a choice on how to deal with this character (friendly, diplomatic, honest, evasive, aggressive, etc…), and these choices and the player’s actions in the mission will affect the player’s reputation with that character.  Rub that character the wrong way too often, and they will be less helpful, or downright hostile, changing the course of the game.  The devs we spoke to really hyped the reputation system, and replayability.  Make different choices and experience an entirely different gameplay experience.

In missions, the player can select from four classes of weapons (pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, and assault rifles), and they can all be extensively modified/customized. Each weapon will have four different upgrade slots  for the player to make use of. The amount of customization is really incredible, not only to your weapons but also to the rest of your equipment and appearance.

The developers also stated that the player will gain numerous perks as he gains experience and levels.  These perks are automatically selected based on the skills the players in-game decisions/actions.  We asked how far player can expect to level in the game and were told that if a player does all missions and maximizes experience, he would reach level 20 or so.  As players level, they gain points to put in any of the 9 different skill attributes (small guns, martial arts, etc…).  To maximize every skill would require approximately 200 levels of points, which, with a soft-cap of 20, will never happen.  Therefore the player has to be very particular where skill points are placed. This also makes it fun for players to go back through and play the game, multiple times, from different character types and actions. In fact, the developers mentioned the classic and brilliant PC title ‘Deus-Ex’ as one of their inspirations for Alpha Protocol.

While Alpha Protocol is not the most ground-breaking title we have seen in terms of visuals, it is very attractive and has a crisp style. This is somewhat refreshing as opposed to many titles out there using all manner of filters and overlays to ‘enhance’ their looks. Movement and game play seems typical, though we were not able to get a hands on demo to confirm.  Sega is shooting for a Fall 2009 release date on all platforms.  Visit Sega’s Alpha Protocol site for more info!

GamingShogun Previews Parabellum, a Free2Play Title From GamersFirst

GamingShogun got a quick moment this morning to preview GamersFirst’s Parabellum. The title is a multiple play on words, with 9 mm parabellum ammunition being one of the most common caliburs, but also part of a phrase in Latin ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’ which means ‘If you wish for peace, prepare for war.’

Parabellum is an online, first person shooter, akin to Counterstrike. Player avatars are highly customizable, and the instance-based missions seem engaging. Parabellum, like other titles from GamersFirst, is a Free2Play game. There is no cost to either download or play the basic game, however, certain customizations and weapons must be purchased… (Cont)

The developer we spoke with claimed that, on release, Parabellum will only have about 10% of their final intended content.  This means gamers can expect regular updates, items, and maps. 

Parabellum just entered closed beta, and the devs are shooting for an August 09 release date.  Check out the official Parabellum site for more info!

First Look At Bethesda’s Brink from E3 2009

GamingShogun met with Bethesda on the first day of E3 2009 to preview their upcoming water-wasteland title: Brink. Brink is being developed by Splash Damage (makers of Return to Castle Wolfenstein).

Set about 40 years in the future, global warming has caused the oceans to rise, flooding most of the surface. The last refuge for humanity is the Ark, a floating city which originally built and designed as a social engineering project… (Cont.)

Movement within the world of Brink has a new feature.  In addition to the standard controls, Brink introduces S.M.A.R.T. movement.  S.M.A.R.T. stands for Smooth Movement Around Random Terrain.  Simply point your character in the direction you want to go, hold the S.M.A.R.T. button, and your character will take the ‘smartest’ route towards that point.  Sometimes this means walking around obstacles, sometimes it means jumping a ledge, grabbing a bar, and swinging up a level.  Without a hands-on demo, it’s hard to tell whether this feature will be a novelty, or will dominate how you move through the game. When engaged it is very reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge movement system (only automatic).

There are two main playable factions in Brink:  refugees, and the security forces attempting to maintain order for the social elite living on The Ark.  Characters are highly customizable, allowing each player to make a truly unique avatar.  One truly unique feature is the ability for gamers to take their single-player mission character and continue their campaign in multiplayer mode.  Need help on a mission?  Call a friend!

The preview highlighted a mission to Container City (picture a shanty town made of lego stacked cargo containers).  The developers showed us how selecting different objectives mid-mission can help guide your team through the action.  If an engineer is needed, but there are no engineer NPCs in the mission, the player can change classes on the fly to fill whatever role is needed.

Action seems intense, and the storyline engaging!  Stay tuned or visit Splash Damage’s Brink site for more info!

E3 2009 – Live Blog of Konami Press Conference

At 2:55pm, tune-in to our coverage of Konami’s E3 2009 press conference courtesy of CoverItLive. This will be our second usage of the live blog system and we hope you enjoy the streaming coverage of the event. Also, feel free to post questions to the reporter on-hand during the show.

Archived E3 2009 Microsoft Press Conference

If you were not lucky enough to catch the LIVE feeds of the big E3 09 press conferences do not worry. Aside from our continuing E3 coverage you can check out the full Microsoft presser below. The Milo demo at the end of their Project Natal stuff is incredible.

GamingShogun Personal Log 3 – E3 2009 Day One Completed

So this is the end of E3 2009: Day One. At least, officially-speaking. We all know that there has been a flurry of activity here over the last couple of days. I just wanted to keep you guys up on current events as well as the coverage we have for you.

Due to the intense schedule I have our reporters chewing on, there has not been a lot of time to post our interview and preview articles. We are tirelessly working through the wee hours to bring you much of the incredible stuff we saw today.

In the meantime, be sure to keep up on all the action at my official Twitter account. Also, check out TheJester’s Twitter account for his take on the day’s events. There are plenty of TwitPics to enjoy as well!

A Look at Mass Effect 2 from Electronic Arts E3 2009 Booth

Thanks to the EA press folks today who granted the old GamingShogun and his cohorts EA Media badges. You see, in all my scheduling I forgot to book anything with EA. Massive doh!

Anyhow, once we got into the EA Media status, we got a behind closed-doors look at the upcoming RPG epic, Mass Effect 2. The demo we were shown featured a few different environments as well as showed off a bit of the game’s new features.

First thing we learned was that Commander Shepard is still alive. At least, for now, but more on that later. It seems that some unknown force is abducting human beings all over the known galaxy and Shepard has been tasked with finding out who… (cont.)
is responsible. So Shepard has to build up a new team to handle this mission which will find him aligning with a pro-human extremist group with some leads into the matter. From the way the developer spoke, it seems that the majority of the game is spent going from planet to planet and building this team.

Then EA showed us a new way to interact with others. Resembling a quick-time event, in some dialogue sequences a button will flash in the lower-left corner of the screen and upon clicking it, Shepard will effect some ‘physical justice’ on whomever he is talking to. This could be a simple shove or something as extreme as pushing a character off a ledge to their deaths (they showed this). All of these actions seem to be negative choices, which fits in with the darker tone of the game. They also showed Shepard and his crew (two unknown individuals) attempting to recruit this renown assassin named Thane.

Thankfully, on the way to Thane they encountered multiple new enemies that we had not seen in the previous game, as well as a few we had… The combat looks a ton more streamlined and is definitely touching more on the line of a shooter. Thankfully they keep their tactical aspect by allowing you to stack-up actions against multiple foes and then returning to real-time to watch them play out. Overall this looks to be a welcome combat upgrade.

The final thing thing they showed us was a ‘spoiler’, SO DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT if you do not want to know it….

The final sequence illustrated the fact that Shepard does not have to survive this game in order to complete it… In this spoiler, the Normandy was shown being destroyed and Shepard made a series of decisions leading to his demise. If this happens, your character will not be allowed to continue him and his stats on to Mass Effect 3…. You have been warned.