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The Agony and the Ecstasy: Hands on with Trials Fusion

April 16, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

I spent some time with “Trials Fusion” this weekend at PAX East, where Creative Director and co-founder of RedLynx Antti Ilvessuo walked me through some of what’s new in this latest “Trials” title (hint: there’s a lot).

The new look and feel is apparent from the title screen, which is simplified to just two main options: Ride and Create. “The first game (‘Trials HD’) was in a warehouse, next (‘Trials Evolution’) was outdoors,” Ilvessuo explained. “This will be the first experience in a new game, and it won’t look like an ‘Evolution’ level. Everything will be shiny and new.”

The way “Trials Fusion” treats your progress is also quite different, which you’ll notice in the post-race screen. Everything you do on the track: career, multiplayer, everything is represented by a total experience level for each track across every mode. You also now have an overall XP level, which supplements the returning, all-important leaderboards. Now you know who has spent the most time on tracks, putting in work to post a fantastic time on a course.

Everything in between the main menu and the post-race is the pure, awesome physics-based gameplay that has made the “Trials” games so fun. “The great thing about physics is you don’t know how it will end until you land,” said Ilvessuo.

This fact is never more apparent than in the new FMX mode, which has players gunning for high scores by pulling risky tricks and successfully landing Tony Hawk-style; you only bank the points if you don’t crash. You’ll have the opportunity to plot out devastating combos in FMX Training, a kind of zero-gravity safe zone where you can toy with the moveset, free of the fear of crashing.

The realistic physics engine means wipeouts are still incredibly fun to watch, and I’d expect Upload Studio to be filled with painful-looking blooper reels in short order.

There’s a lot more “new” in “Trials Fusion” too: 40 new levels, including many aimed at the hardcore audience, more character customization options, unique – and sometimes bizarre – challenges for each track, and a 4-wheeler that handles completely differently than the bikes you’re accustomed to.

RedLynx apparently has much more in the works. “The whole idea of ‘Trials’ is what we call the ‘Minecraft Model’ you buy it once, and you get all the upcoming features for free,” Ilvessuo told me. “You buy the game, you’re buying a ticket. We know what we want to do one year in advance, we’re planning two years in advance. We’re planning online tournaments, teams, and then online multiplayer. Huge stuff is coming.” (Ubisoft clarified that while they will be offering players many upcoming features for free, this does not preclude paid DLC for new tracks and editor mode assets)

So why “Fusion”? “Fusion is the greatest power in the universe,” said Ilvessuo. “Evolution was second.”

“Trials Fusion” is now available for Xbox One and Xbox 360.
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Why DICE is wrong to worry about Battlefield: Bad Company 3

April 16, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

Ed sticks up for videogame comedy.

Nothing travels faster on the internet than a good joke, particularly if it takes the form of a cat doing something undignified. The same isn’t true of jokes in shooter videogames, or so DICE’s executive producer Patrick Bach would have us believe. Shooters, after all, are serious business. Everybody knows that. They need to be grim and unsmiling and heroic, capable of a grand total of two witticisms per coast-to-coast aerial bombardment. Or do they?

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What we’ve learned from Batman: Arkham Knight’s latest screenshots

April 16, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

The World’s Greatest Detective ain’t got nothing on us.

What’s in a screenshot? It’s all in the eye of the beholder. You see, some may look at the latest batch of Batman: Arkham Knight screens and simply see Bruce laying into a gang on nondescript thugs. I look at them and I see clues as to the overarching story of Rocksteady’s third and final Arkham game. I may be completely wrong, of course, but hey – it’s fun to guess.

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Titanfall updates will be “more frequent” – Respawn details plans

April 16, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

Free updates will include everything from fixes to new features.

In addition to Titanfall’s recently announced premium DLC plans beginning with Expedition, developer Respawn has promised to continue to support and improve the game via free regular updates.

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Bungie sacks Halo composer “without cause” – “today, as friends, we say goodbye”

April 16, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

Marty O’Donnell takes his leave of the Destiny developer.

Halo: Combat Evolved’s wistful yet energetic main theme has comfortably stood the test of time. Alas, the same can’t be said of composer Marty O’Donnell’s place at Bungie – he’s just been let go in rather mysterious circumstances.

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Snoop Dogg provides his voice for Call of Duty: Ghosts

April 16, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

Rapper calls the action in multiplayer, ya dig?.

West Coast rap legend Snoop Dogg (formerly Snoop Lion, formerly Snoop Dogg) is the new voice of multiplayer in an upcoming DLC pack for Call of Duty: Ghosts.

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Prepare for Battle: Titanfall

April 15, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

When you’ve spent the last few weeks playing “Titanfall” as much as we have, you know that picking the right tools for the job is a crucial step for developing a winning, robot-crushing game strategy. Luckily, no matter your experience, “Titanfall” has a loadout to meet your needs. Whether you’re a brand-new “Titanfall” player or a seasoned vet who’s been playing since launch, we’ve got some suggestions for weapon and ability pairings that go together like fine wine and delicately-aged cheese. If wine and cheese were, you know, explosive.

“Titanfall” doesn’t allow loadout customization until Level 10, so for your first few rounds, you’ll need to select from presets. Luckily, these are all more powerful than you’d think. Even more luckily, one pilot loadout and one Titan loadout are particularly useful for brand-spanking-new players.

  • Pilot Loadout: Assassin
    The Assassin’s Smart Pistol gets a lot of grief from experienced players for good reason: It’s a veritable XP-printing machine in the right hands. It locks-on instantly to any of the game’s A.I.-controlled minion characters, providing the opportunity for multiple one-hit kills simultaneously. It will even take out human opponents, if you can stay focused long enough to achieve three separate lock-ons. That’s technology!
  • Titan Loadout: Assault
    Since the slightly slower pace of Titan combat can take some getting used to, many newcomers will find the spray-’n'-pray feature of the Assault Titan’s XO-16 Chaingun useful. It offers the opportunity to inflict at least some damage against Titans and pilots alike even if your aim isn’t exactly, ah, sniper-like. As an added bonus, as you get the hang of aiming at moving targets, you’ll discover the XO-16 can actually be fairly brutal if well-targeted on an enemy’s weak spots.

As you begin to find your footing, you’ll discover that the above options sacrifice damage potential for the sake of user-friendliness. Sure, you can get really good at them — but the average “Titanfall” player will likely want to find something with a bit more oomph. By now, you’ve hit Level 10, so let’s take a look at tweaking your own loadouts.


  • Primary Weapon: R-101C Carbine. Embrace the Carbine. Love the Carbine. The Carbine is your friend. An effective tool no matter your level, the full-auto Carbine does reasonable amounts of damage, and can eventually be modified for long-range, close-range, or even stealthy play. All hail the Carbine.
  • Anti-Titan Weapon: Archer Heavy Rocket. It takes a bit to lock on, but its range is practically infinite, allowing you to rack up Titan assists from across the level.
  • Sidearm: RE-45 Autopistol. The rodeo-er’s best friend. When your Carbine clip is empty, switch to your sidearm and plunk 20 rounds into an enemy Titan’s interior in seconds.
  • Tactical Ability: Cloak. Most human players will start to be able to pick out cloaked enemies pretty quickly — but Auto-Titans and turrets can’t. You can see how that might be helpful.
  • Ordnance: Frag Grenade. Your …read more

Building for Good: The Xbox Way

April 15, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

Star Wars’ Galactic Empire never got the message: Build for good. But Microsoft and six other Seattle-area companies did. Seattle’s EMP Museum played host to LEGO’s “Build For Good” charity event late last week, where seven five-man teams were challenged to create something beneficial for humanity using only LEGO Mindstorm EV3 kits.

The souped-up LEGO kits sell for $350, and have electronic components that can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks such as grasping, traveling along paths, and sensing objects via infrared. It was this Mindstorm EV3 kit that inspired 12-year-old inventor Shubham Banerjee to build a Braille printer he dubbed “Braigo.” And, in turn, Braigo inspired LEGO to challenge companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, and Nordstrom to use its toys to promote an appreciation for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines and conjure creative solutions to everyday problems.

The teams competed for charity and the thrill of crushing the competition with the awesome weight of their technology. Amid the backdrop of eclectic pop-culture themed exhibits (and a towering sound-themed sculpture titled “If VI Was IX”), the companies presented their inventions. Microsoft came up with the evening’s most elaborate presentation in the form of a real-life recreation of its animal-themed simulator for Xbox One, “Zoo Tycoon.”

“It’s interactive role-playing for kids with disabilities,” presenter Troy Barnes said. Barnes and his team created ZETA (Zookeeper Extraordinaire Technical Assistant) and ECHO (Exhibit Crate Hauling Overseer) to recreate “Zoo Tycoon’s” gameplay: ECHO picked up and dropped off zoo exhibits, and ZETA traveled along a red-lined track dispensing “food” to hungry animals in the exhibits. The display synched with the real-time events controlled by the “Tycoon” app being played on a Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8.1; all told, Barnes said, the team put in 150 hours or so building and programming the project, which also used an Xbox One and Windows Surface 2 Pro.

For their parts, Amazon’s team created a robot that distributed seeds among a path and, comically, used a swatter to knock faux-weeds aside with an almost practiced disdain. “Selfie-Bot,” made by HTC, was built to allow those with mobility impairments to take pictures and post them to the Internet. The inventors for Nordstrom cobbled together a spasming robot with a “party dance mode.” Nord-1, as its license plate heralded, dispensed pills, played snippets from Debarge’s ’80s anthem,
Who’s Johnny? — and topped off its goofy presentation with sound samples from classic “Short Circuit” automaton Johnny Five.

When the smoke cleared, all the participants got consolation ribbons made of LEGO. The “Zoo Tycoon” display netted the award for most entertaining robot — but Nord-1, the pill-dealing robot meant to make taking medicine more fun and less of a chore, won the grand prize. Nordstrom, as the champion of the Mindstorm-building universe, collected a red-and-gray trophy made of (what else?) LEGO, and received five EV3 kits to dispense to a charity of its choosing.
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EA to Release Fourth Quarter Fiscal Year 2014 Results on May 6, 2014

April 15, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

EA to Release Fourth Quarter Fiscal Year 2014 Results on May 6, 2014 …read more

Ubisoft Massive isn’t just working on The Division – “we have a couple of things cooking”

April 15, 2014 By: Merciless Category: Whats Up?

“Crazy prototypes” under way in the background.

If you’re looking for reassurance that Ubisoft’s shared-world shooter The Division won’t slip back to next year, try this on for size: the developer has a few new projects on the way, too. They don’t appear to be very far along, so the odds of an E3 2014 reveal are fairly low.

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