XBox 360 Universe Straight from the source
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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews

    Retro in a good way. Modern-looking. And there you have Grey Goo, a back-to-the-future real-time strategy game from the Westwood veterans at Petroglyph. This is an impressive if deeply traditional game that is both a blast to play and a walk down memory lane for old timers who played Dune II and the first Command & Conquer in a time of parachute pants and high-waisted women’s jeans. Like every good homage, though, Grey Goo does not feel old or derivative, even while it blatantly draws on the influences of its antique forebears and current genre giants like StarCraft II. Shrewd map and scenario design, beautiful visuals, aggressive artificial intelligence, and more combine to make for a very challenging experience, no matter if you’re playing solo or multiplayer.

    The sci-fi setting is a millennium or so into the future, a time when humanity has traveled into the stars and encountered two (apparently) alien races. The first is the Beta, a bipedal but vaguely insectoid (check out their nifty mandible-hand chest thingies) species that could have been ripped out of any one of a dozen old real-time-strategy affairs. But the second is the Grey Goo faction of the title, self-replicating nanobots that look like, well, piles of grey goo. The name comes from a well-known doomsday scenario wherein such microscopic machines run amok on Earth and consume the entire planet.

    Unsurprisingly, these three species form the usual RTS triumvirate of factions. This trio is featured in a 15-mission campaign and four-player-max multiplayer/solo skirmishes on eight included maps, with three modes of play in Standard (destroy key enemy facilities), Annihilation (destroy all enemy facilities and units), and Destroy HQ (which should be self-explanatory). The game has been set up so that you must play through the campaign--which rolls out the Beta, then the Humans, then finally the Goo in five missions each--to learn enough about each faction to slide into multiplayer. Each section of the campaign plays out like an extended tutorial. You figure out the basics of the interface and base construction. You open up the whole list of buildings and units. You face varying objectives and a couple of seriously tough fights. Then you do the whole thing all over again with a different faction.

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    The Grey Goo campaign story is an interesting collection of fast-paced plot points, gorgeous cutscenes that look like excerpts from an animated sci-fi movie, and a sharp script coupled with first-rate voice acting (even if some of the accents are distracting, like the Beta who apparently come from deep space by way of Johannesburg). Everything held my interest, even though I could see the story twist coming a mile away.

    Lack of mission variety and extreme difficulty proved more of a pain. Timed goals, waves of enemy attacks pressing my bases from the first moments of missions, and sudden challenges from new units firing down from hills and the air led to a bit of frustration and regular level replays. Enemy AI is smart and aggressive, probing weak points and continually hammering at defenses. Parts of the game are uncomfortably twitchy, forcing you to be quick with both combat and production orders, and many maps have a puzzle feel. I soon came to regard my first attempt at any campaign scenario as a suicide mission during which I needed to check out the battlefield. Gathering this reconnaissance info and then restarting was vital to having a reasonable shot at emerging victorious.

    I didn’t need any recon missions to figure out the Grey Goo factions. The two humanoid types are quite familiar, differing mainly in how they construct their bases. Humans are standard techy types centered on robot drones, which run the gamut from little gunboat thingies and looming siege tanks to giant mechs. Base-building is centralized, with headquarters established near a pool of the game’s single Catalyst resource (think of it as a magic oil that flows out of the ground at various points on maps). This is gathered up via an automated system and then pumped out through power supply conduits that allow for the construction of the usual factories, walls, gun turrets, and so forth. As you might expect, these lines are vulnerable to attack. If connections are cut, the power goes down. Tech can help with cutting the cord to some structures, and the Humans can also teleport units across the map as well as build powerhouse gun turrets for base defense, but generally, the lines are your life.

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    Beta have a similar feel, although they are more hard-and-fast brawlers fairly similar to that in a modern human military. Units consist of commandos, tanks, bombers, and the like. Their bases are much more self-contained than those of their Human counterparts. Large facilities near Catalyst pools host the main HQ, while smaller hubs (which also generally need to be located beside Catalyst for ready collecting) allow multiple modules to be hooked up, serving as factories and the like to expand your reach. Both Beta and Humans also have roughly parallel upgrade paths and tech options, so once you have a handle on one, you can easily slide over and control the other.

    Only the Goo greatly stand out. They function in an entirely different manner, which is emphasized by a completely different interface (which is fortunately just as easy to use as that applied to the Beta and the Humans). Giant, amoeba-like Mother Goo serve as bases. Just settle one into a pool of Catalyst and it will soak up the resource over time, allowing for mama to begin reproducing. The longer you wait, the bigger the offspring can be, resulting in smaller globs of nanobots that can then be further split to serve as scouts, light assault tanks, artillery, and so forth. This results in some micromanagement, as you need to click back and forth to your mothers whenever enough Catalyst has been gathered for them to do the mitosis thing. Thankfully, the interface makes this a snap, by showing the status of each mama and allowing you to access them and give orders with a single click.

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    New Mother Goos can also be created to take over other Catalyst ponds and spread out your zone of control. And the original mom can be moved from one pool to another, gradually sliming her way to the front lines. As a result, the Goo are more mobile than just about any other RTS faction out there (they can also go just about everywhere, traverse otherwise impassable mountains, and so forth). This offers a lot of tactical options, although I personally found that the Goo best worked with rush tactics due to their quick consumption of Catalyst and their rapid reproduction. I could crank out huge armies and overwhelm opponents in short order. Goo form is just as unusual, as their creepy units resemble a cross between the old B-movie Blob and slightly see-through space octopi. Disjointed, electronic sound effects accompanying their movement add to their surreal, sci-fi character.

    Maps are cunningly put together with an eye toward encouraging tactical thinking. This offers significant challenges both in the solo campaign and in multiplayer. Catalyst resource pools are spread apart just far enough to make you think tactically before attempting any sort of expansion. This places importance on smart, sustainable base building. It also emphasizes the value of erecting walls and gun turrets to protect your facilities.

    The visual quality of the maps is impressive. Everything looks fantastic, with an incredible amount of detail that also has a significant impact on combat. The drawback here is how the game pushes even serious gaming systems, resulting in regular framerate hitches and pauses when transitioning from pop-up screens like tutorial tips.

    Still, what you get in terms of look and feel is worth it. Forests and heavy brush provide camouflage akin to flipping on a cloaking device. Height offers similarly incredible benefits. Both are a little over the top. Even tanks become invisible in trees. Aerial units and those atop cliffs and hills can’t even be fired upon by standard ground forces. But as much as I cursed when these strategies were used against me (that hill can’t be more than 20-feet high--why the hell can’t my commandoes shoot up there?!), I loved utilizing them myself as choke points, especially when setting up killing zones outside of bases. Just a few tanks stationed in the right place could decimate line after line of foes, letting me concentrate on other fronts.

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    Tactics are open, dependent on the ins and outs of the often puzzle-like map being battled over. Although I had success at times by turtling behind walls and building up Catalyst reserves with which to stream out huge armies, I also did well with rushing tactics when forced onto the offensive by aggressive AI or human players. A big help here is the absence of unit limits and the generally quick flow of building and tech progression that allows the zippy creation of masses of basic units such as the Beta Predator tank and the Goo Strider or Destructor.

    Each faction also has an epic unit that can lay the smack down. I found cranking out swarms of the smaller units much more thrilling in that “I am become Death!” ego trip common to serving as an RTS general, due to the sheer fun of sending out columns of troops and tanks to cover the screen with laser fire. Still, it was also satisfying to fulfill the conditions necessary to let rip with the Beta’s super-tank/factory/cannon Hand of Ruk or the Human Alpha, a mech that could duke it out with Godzilla.

    If you can get past the name to figure out what Grey Goo is supposed to be, you will discover one of the best traditional RTS games to hit the PC in a number of years. Petroglyph has done a terrific job both revisiting the tried-and-true formula that served as a foundation for the entire RTS genre, and providing catchy, tactically smart gameplay for the kids of the players who got everything going.

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews

    Sony Online Entertainment, the company responsible for MMOs such as Planetside 2, H1Z1, and DC Universe Online, has broken away from Sony and is now operating as an independent company.

    The extraordinary transition was made possible after Columbus Nova, an investment management firm based in New York, had bought out the company for an undisclosed sum.

    "This means that effective immediately SOE will operate as an independent game development studio where we will continue to focus on creating exceptional online games for players around the world, and now as a multiplatform gaming company," the studio wrote.

    "Yes, that means PlayStation and Xbox, mobile, and more!"

    Jon Smedley, the president of the company, has already stated his intent to make Xbox One games.

    can't wait to make Xbox One games!

    — John Smedley (@j_smedley) February 2, 2015

    The sale of the business comes with a name change for SOE, which henceforth will refer to itself as Daybreak Game Company.

    "This name embodies who we are as an organization, and is a nod to the passion and dedication of our employees and players. It is also representative of our vision to approach each new day as an opportunity to move gaming forward."

    The company urges that there will be no disruption to its current online games during the transition.

    "It will be business as usual and all SOE games will continue on their current path of development and operation. In fact, we expect to have even more resources available to us as a result of this acquisition. It also means new exciting developments for our existing IP and games as we can now fully embrace the multi-platform world we are living in."

    Sony Online Entertainment was founded in 1995, starting with the name Sony Interactive Studios America, and in 1998 became SOE. It was originally tasked with making PlayStation-only games, though in recent years has focused specifically on free-to-play PC games.

    "Our games and players are the heart and soul of our organization, and we are committed to maintaining our portfolio of online games and pushing the limits of where we can take online gaming together."

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews

    The Witcher 3 will require around 50GB of install space on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, its developer has confirmed to GameSpot.

    CDProjekt RED, the Warsaw based studio currently finishing work on the highly anticipated action-RPG, could not provide exact details on install sizes at this juncture. But, following a purportedly leaked PSN listing, the studio has confirmed that 50GB is the ballpark figure.

    Minimum and recommended PC specs for the Witcher 3, which were released in January, had already suggested that about 40GB of hard drive space was necessary to install the game.

    Fifty gigabytes of required space makes The Witcher 3 one of the biggest next-gen console games yet, though it's not uncommon for certain Xbox One and PS4 games to carrry similar storage requirements. NBA 2K14 and Assassin's Creed Unity both require more than 40GB of space.

    The sheer scale of The Witcher 3 has already become a talking point for its developer. The game's world is apparently about 35 times the size of its predecessor, and about 20 percent bigger than the vast world of Skyrim. It will also render at 1080p on PlayStation 4 (and at a visually similar 900p on Xbox One).

    The Witcher 3 release date is May 19 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

    See below for a selection of the latest Witcher 3 images:

    Click the thumbnails below to view in fullscreen2789919-witcher.jpg2789920-witcher1.jpg2789921-witcher2.jpg2789922-witcher4.jpg2789923-witcher5.jpg2789924-witcher6.jpg2789925-witcher7.jpg2789926-witcher8.jpg2789927-witcher9.jpg

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews

    Upcoming shooter Battlefield Hardline features an assortment of ground-based vehicles and even helicopters for its multiplayer mode, but could the game add planes someday? That's what one fan asked developer Visceral Games recently.

    The studio teased that planes could be added if they fit with the theme of future DLC.

    "In the initial release no," Visceral said on Twitter. "But if it fits the themes of any additional content, perhaps." The developer added: "No Jets or Tanks in this one."

    Jets don't really seem to fit the overall cops vs. robbers theme of Hardline, I'd say. Jets, along with tanks, align better with the core Battlefield military-themed series. While Battlefield fans may not get jets or tanks in this year's Battlefield, they might next year. The Battlefield game due out in 2016 will return to the franchise's military-style roots, according to previous comments from Electronic Arts.

    Hardline enters open beta tomorrow, February 3, across consoles and PC. For more, check out the video above and GameSpot's previous coverage about the pre-release mulitplayer trial.

    The game's official release date is March 17 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC.

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews
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    In an interview with GameSpot, Battlefield Hardline senior producer Scott Probst described a player feedback program called "Game Changers". The program includes YouTubers, influential Battlefield community members, fans of competing first-person shooters such as Call of Duty, as well as general fans of first-person shooters. "At the end of the day, it's an accurate representation of our fan-base," says Probst.

    Members of the Game Changers program were invited to Visceral Games' studio to participate in multiple, day-long playtesting sessions over the course of Hardline's development.

    "They've been key to our success," said Probst. "They gave us very, very clear feedback on what they really like, what they really didn't like, what they'd like to see changed. And they've been working with the team even outside of their individual visits to the studio. They've gotten on email and fired away tons of thoughts."

    They've been key to our success.

    Scott Probst, senior producer

    Probst said programs like Game Changers are useful for collecting feedback on maps and game modes that aren't included in open beta versions of the game: "We've tuned a lot of specific game modes according to their feedback to make sure these things are going to serve the Battlefield community the way we want them to."

    YouTubers who attended these playtest sessions were permitted to capture footage of Hardline, with resulting videos conforming to the EA Ronku sponsored video program.

    YouTuber "jackfrags" describes his experience participating in the Game Changers program in the video below.

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews
    Actor Liam Neeson in the Clash of Clans Super Bowl ad

    Last night's Super Bowl XLIX was stuffed with commercials. Some were great, and others were kind of strange. But we're not here to debate the creative merits of the ads, which cost as much as $4.5 million for 30 seconds. There were actually a few commercials for video games, and if you missed them, we've collected them below, along with the new spot for Jurassic World, because it was pretty great.

    Notably, all the video game ads this year were for free-to-play mobile games, not console titles. A sign of the death of console games? That seems like a stretch. One explanation could simply come down to timing. After all, the new release slate in February is quite light, with new releases like Evolve and The Order: 1886 leading the way. And those are new IPs, too, not established franchises that would be more likely to resonate with the 100 million-plus people who watched the Super Bowl.

    Clash of Clans:

    Game of War: Fire Age

    Heroes Charge:

    Pac-Man (the theme of a Bud Light commercial)

    Jurassic World:

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews
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    Japanese developer Platinum Games has released an 8-bit Bayonetta game, and you can play it right now in your browser. It's a fairly straightforward game, but it's actually is kind of really tough.

    No, my high score is not zero. This is a screencap of the start-screen. All you do is jump and shoot, but as more and more enemies come on-screen, it can get pretty challenging. Post your high score in the comments below to see how you stack up against other readers.

    The game was released this week as part of a new Platinum hiring push.

    Recently, it was rumored that a sequel to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which was developed by Platinum, might be in development. However, Kojima Productions was quick to shoot down that speculation.

    Platinum's most recent release was the award-winning Wii U game Bayonetta 2. The developer is now producing Scalebound, an Xbox One exclusive that certainly sounds like it could be a big deal.

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews

    We've seen a golden PlayStation 4 console before, but now comes a system decked out with "thousands" of Swarovski crystals. The console--one of the rare 20th Anniversary Edition models--is up for auction on eBay right now from UK seller Krystal Boutique. After two bids, the system has reached £800, or around $1,200.

    Only 12,300 20th Anniversary Edition PS4s were made; this is for unique console number 11,016.

    "The pictures don't do this much justice," the seller writes. "It's STUNNING to look at, very sleek, and would be an amazing show piece as well as useable and totally functional console unit for anyone looking for a completely unique piece of PlayStation history or an amazing gift!"

    The crystals, which are apparently "genuine Swarovski crystals," were applied by hand, using professional glue. Krystal Boutique notes that the system features "very hard wearing," though also cautions that "obviously care must be taken as to keep it in pristine condition."

    Krystal Boutique will even throw in a 1994 Swarovski beanie. 1994, of course, was the year the original PlayStation arrived in Japan. You can take a closer look at the console through the Instagram video below.

    I am pretty amazed/horrified that someone would do this to a PS4, let alone an incredibly rare system like the 20th Anniversary model. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

    Via: Kotaku

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews

    From pixel artists Paul Robertson and Ivan Dixon comes a new Simpsons intro, a remake that's so good you might think it's actually official. It's not, but wow--even the culminating couch gag is great.

    The video features music from Jeremy Dower, doing his best to re-imagine Danny Elfman's classic theme with a new chip-tune sound.

    Robertson and Dixon didn't just remake the well-known intro, they added to it with even more Simpsons references. You'll notice that Frank Grimes (with a halo over his head) makes an appearance, along with Poochie and Stampy the elephant, among others.

    You'll definitely want to watch the whole thing. And after you're done, click through the names to find more from the very-talented artists: Robertson, Dixon, and Dower.

    Via: Polygon

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    February 2nd, 2015GamespotPreviews

    During the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIX last night, singer Katy Perry danced with singing sharks and rode a mechanical tiger. But that wasn't the craziest part of her performance.

    It looks like she wore a Wii Remote strap during the event. Nintendo can now rejoice, as someone out there is actually doing what they say and wearing it.

    In case you missed it, the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to claim victory at Super Bowl XLIX last night in Glendale, Arizona. That's the exact score that EA Sports' Madden NFL 15 simulation predicted. The game also predicted that Julian Edelman would catch the winning pass, and that Tom Brady would be named Super Bowl MVP. And that's precisely what happened.

    One of Perry's dresses last night also appeared to resemble the Pokemon Emboar, the folks behind Pokemon Tweets astutely noticed. See below.

    Image credit: NeoGAF
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