I dread playing games like this for the first time.  There’s this habit I have of holding in contempt anything that’s too popular.  Batman: Arkham Asylum only reinforced my unprovoked dislike with a long and gratuitous semi-interactive introduction (think Half Life).  With little else to do than walk slowly and listen to the Joker taunting me as I and a handful of guards escorted him into the asylum, every little flaw and oversight became a horrendous crime against gamers in general and me in particular.

Once the introductions were taken care of and I steered the caped crusader off on a quest to recapture his arch-nemesis, the combat tutorial began.  It’s pleasingly unintrusive, simply demonstrating a new move every couple of fights.  After finishing off a sweet combo by jump kicking a henchman into a wall, I cracked a little smile.  Gratuitous violence is fun, and Batman: Arkham Asylum is more than gratuitous enough to keep even me amused.

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“The Lost Episode” is code for “I was too busy and lazy to post it when it was relevant”. Chances are that by the time you’re reading this, episode #61 is up, and the After Dark shenanigans are well over. Right now, as I write this, though, the race is on between Brian posting #61 and myself posting a podcast which is now a week old. Oh well, here it is.

With Xbox 360 rolling out Facebook and Twitter any second now, Sony are also jumping on the social media bandwagon in their upcoming 3.10 firmware. Amongst other things it brings Facebook functionality. While not as comprehensive as Microsoft’s version, remember that PS3 already has an inbuilt web browser. The Facebook functionality is really only sharing information such as trophies, PSN downloads or specific game events determined by developers.

As if Uncharted 2’s Twitter feature wasn’t awesome enough for you, when turned on Facebook will be updated for every game. Be prepared for a swarm of Trophy awards on your Facebook news feed as your PS3 chums take advantage of the firmware’s latest feature.

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There are games, and then there are games, by that I mean, there are games that no one gives a shit about which are contrasted by the titles that every single person on the internet (and sometimes in real life) are talking about. It’s tough coming into a game like this and writing a review because you want to honest and unaffected by the masses of opinions already out there. My first action to achieve this is to completely avoid reading anything about the game, no reviews, no previews, no forum chatter. Play the game, write some thoughts, end of story.

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 ratchet

Witty taglines will only get you so far in today’s competitive gaming market, so ditching (at least temporarily) the innuendo and concentrating on the game play and story telling for the latest Ratchet and Clank seemed like a great idea to me. Fans of the series that have followed the ups and downs of the unlikely duo will be eager to see what this game holds, and I was interested to see if it could improve on what I felt was lacking in the last full title that released two years ago.

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finalfantasyXIII

Square Enix have finally bit the bullet and revealed the release date for Final Fantasy XIII (or 13 if you have trouble with roman numerals, don’t be ashamed it happens to everybody at sometime or another!). Now wait for it… the release date for Americans is the 9th of March 2010. So not long to go now folks, well don’t go grabbing your wallet just yet, it is still a number of months away.

Remember that no more is Sony’s platform favoured over the rest, Final Fantasy XIII is releasing on both 360 and PS3. After the break you will find one of Heaven’s messengers present the important announcement featuring a few of the developers sharing their thoughts and of course a few seconds of gameplay. Continue reading

Even a hardened player of MMORPGs might well be reluctant to dig into a game like Aion.  For one, it’s Korean.  The stereotype speaks for itself; many hours of hard grinding, incomprehensible plotlines, and incredibly adept multiplayer opponents.  For the dedicated, it can become a way of life.  The rest of us are often left baffled, frustrated and even a little frightened.  The second issue involves the graphics.  This mother is built on the extremely impressive CryEngine, a graphics engine renowned equally for stunning visuals and for bringing PCs to their knees with its demands for system resources.

Despite these fears, getting into Aion is a relative doddle.  I say relative, because it’s still an MMO, with all that implies, including a slightly broken self-updating tool, a balky login interface, and every decent character name being taken within days of its launch.  If, like me, you’ve lived with the likes of World of Warcraft for any length of time, you’ll come to terms with it.  Those who’re more used to more conventional games might get a bit frustrated before the game even starts.  Such is the price we pay to play MMOs.  Well, that and the monthly subscription.

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bayonetta

Worth posting if only because of it’s name, the collectors edition for the upcoming hack and slash featuring the hot and hairy witch Bayonetta. The climax edition will come with a collectable gun in pretty pink along with a soundtrack of music from the game and an art book. Mighty Ape have the package listed at a RRP of $129 and will be available on both the PS3 and Xbox 360.

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EA sports has leaped into the NBA season with their chin up and chest out as they attempt to offer up a basketball simulation that can compete with the yearly offering from 2K Sports, who have taken great pleasure throughout recent times for consistently offering up a better game. Even though purists of the game would agree, it’s hard for kiwis like me to admit 2K Sport’s dominance over the years, as their games have had a relatively short life span on our shores. For years EA Sports went unchallenged in Aotearoa, as basketballers across the country enjoyed pixelated basketball on their Sega Megadrives and other similar systems. Times do change however and a solid release from EA Sports this year have them looking to compete well against NBA 2K10

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After the cult following that Psychonauts developed, I’d always been dead keen to see what would come next. Tim Schaffer’s latest project is set in a world of Bogans, a world where the four elements are Fire, Blood, Noise and Metal. If you were thinking Psychonauts reskinned (perhaps “Psychonaüts”), then you’re in for a shock. After all, given that Psychonauts was a platformer at heart, Brütal Legend occupies a far different space as a game where the only kind of jumping takes place when a hot rod takes a ramp at high speed.

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