E3 2015: Microsoft kicks Xbox One into high gear with exciting games lineup and backwards compatibility

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on June 15th, 2015

Microsoft kicked off E3 2015 with a media briefing that mostly included first-looks at anticipated game sequels and new IPs, and also a dash of exciting software and hardware announcements. It’s all for you after the break. (Click here for more…)

Star Wars stand-alone pic ‘Rogue One’ details surface; ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ game trailer inside

Posted in Movies,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on April 19th, 2015

The Star Wars Celebration convention continues. Mere days after unveiling the universally enjoyable second teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a second panel packed with franchise fans would parcel fresh intel regarding one of the two upcoming Star Wars stand-alone films. Today’s panel was originally supposed to feature Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank, but the latter director was a no-show due to an illness. So, only Edwards’ Rogue One spinoff film was discussed, and Trank’s still untitled Star Wars pic wasn’t brought up. Moving on!

Godzilla director Edwards was joined on stage by Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart. First and foremost, we’ve got a description for Rogue One: “A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans,” spills Star Wars’ official Twitter feed. At the panel, it was confirmed that The Theory of Everything‘s Felicity Jones will star as a Rebel soldier.

A brief teaser was screened at the panel; Lucasfilms has yet to post a clean copy of it online, but that never stopped the Internet before. You can search YouTube for cell phone recordings but be quick about it–they’ll be pulled before long. In case you can’t find it, here’s a quick description of the action. It opens with narration from Alec Guinness who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars film. The dialogue pulled from A New Hope went like this: “For more than a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.” The visuals start on a planet teeming with lush forestry. As the camera starts panning towards a bright sky, a TIE Fighter zooms by heading for what appears to be the planet’s nearby moon. As we follow it fly away, we realize that’s no moon–it’s the original Death Star hanging beyond the clouds. The teaser goes black, and just as solider radio coms chatter starts to get hectic, the Star Wars Rogue One title card appears.

Be mindful that this footage was made in collaboration with the folks at Industrial Light & Magic specially for this reveal. Edwards and his team are currently in pre-production with shooting set to begin this summer. The clip is a mere taste of what’s to come. In addition to the footage, concept art was also displayed for the rabid crowd; it depicts soldiers storming onto a rainy, muddy planet.

Edwards briefly expanded on Rogue One. “It’s the reality of war. Good guys are bad. Bad guys are good. It’s complicated, layered; a very rich scenario in which to set a movie,” he said. Don’t expect the film’s main set of characters to bring down their enemies with The Force or other mythological powers, because they won’t. Edwards says, “It comes down to a group of individuals who don’t have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy.” Sounds like a much more grounded, realistic approach to the franchise, one we haven’t yet seen. Edwards’ spinoff is very much a war movie; the director cited Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down as inspirations. “It’s called Star … Wars,” he reminded the crowd. In terms of where it fits in the Star Wars timeline: Edwards confirmed Rogue One takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope.

Expanding Star Wars‘ inherently sci-fi tendencies and pushing the franchise’s genre in new directions is, in fact, the point here. “The idea behind these movies is that Star Wars, as much as it is a set of stories and characters we know, it’s also a place–a place we can explore in terms of character and time,” said Hart. Edwards’ Rogue One will showcase a heist story set in a gritty, war-torn environment with relatable soldiers who wield no magic. Though we don’t have information to go on yet about Trank’s spinoff, his film is also set to play with the genre and inject new storytelling elements into the franchise.

We should stop using the term “spinoff films” at this point, since Kennedy and Hart introduced a new branding term for all non-trilogy franchise films. All spinoff/standalone movies set in the Star Wars universe are to be referred to as films in the “Star Wars Anthology Series.”

Star Wars Rogue One, the first Star Wars Anthology Series film, is slated to hit theatres December 16, 2016.

An incredible look at Electronic Arts’ video game Star Wars: Battlefront waits after the break. (Click here for more…)

Rock on: ‘Guitar Hero’ returns with all new ways to play

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on April 14th, 2015

Guitar Hero is dead. Long live Guitar Hero! More, long live the rhythm-based video game genre!

In March, Harmonix–the developers behind Guitar Hero (2005), its 2006 sequel, and spinoff Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (2007)–announced the revival of Rock Band with the fourth iteration in that long-running game franchise. Today, Activision followed suit by unveiling an unapologetically bold take on Rock Band‘s competitor, Guitar Hero. That’s right–the title that started the rhythm-based revolution is coming to current-gen consoles and it’s packed with fresh songs, a retooled guitar peripheral, and most exciting, new forms of gameplay.

Jump after the break for all the juicy details. (Click here for more…)

Discover the Master Chief’s origins in ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ exploratory marketing campaign [Update: Two new trailers inside]

Posted in Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on March 28th, 2015

Microsoft’s expansive marketing campaign for Halo 5: Guardians begins now. Watch the helmet-shattering teaser trailer above and at the end you’ll notice the hashtag #HuntTheTruth. Shortly after the televised teaser launch, MSFT opened up a “Hunt the Truth” Tumbler that further explores the mystery behind the shrouded plot of the upcoming game. Fictional journalist and war photographer Benjamin Giraud hosts a weekly podcast that promises an in-depth profile of the Master Chief with an aim to uncover the truth behind his origins and motives. Fans of the Xbox franchise (myself included) are going to eat this up.

Halo 5: Guardians is expected to release this fall on Xbox One.

Update (3/29): Microsoft unleashed two extended trailers for Halo 5: Guardians tonight during the season finale of The Walking Dead on AMC. The first features Spartan Locke threatening Master Chief: “All hail the conquering hero. The one who was supposed to save us all. But now I must save us from you.” The second spot reverses the roles, with Master Chief pointing his weapon and saying, “You’ve completed your mission, Spartan Locke.” What’s happening?! See for yourself after the break. Also confirmed: the next Halo comes exclusively to Xbox One on October 27. (Click here for more…)

‘Silent Hills’ will scare you (again) in new concept trailer

Posted in Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on September 27th, 2014

How many times have you played through Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro’s terrifying Silent Hills demo? Was one run-through enough to satiate your fears? Well, here’s something new to look at. The directing duo behind the latest installment in the Silent Hill video game franchise debuted a concept trailer at this month’s Tokyo Game Show. It will feel familiar to those who have played through the Playable Teaser on PS4; the game’s protagonist, personified by The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus, is trapped in a haunted house with creaky doors and creepy crawlers. The trailer, however, adds a boy’s severed head, sentient toys, and a giant monster to the mix. See above.

“The concepts we’re discussing, the ideas that we’re discussing and the tools that are in play to create Silent Hills are going to render an incredibly intense and an incredibly scary game,” said del Toro at TGS.

Silent Hills has an anticipated 2015 release.

[Via IGN]

Hideo Kojima reveals ‘Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on March 29th, 2013

Do you remember at the 2012 Video Game Awards when an intriguing trailer by the name of “The Phantom Pain” from Moby Dick Studios premiered to much fanfare? Well it turns out that the mysterious title is actually the next installment in the Metal Gear franchise from Konami. At the Game Developers Conference this week, Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima of Kojima Productions revealed Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain with a brand new nearly six-minute trailer that includes cinematic cutscenes and a more extensive look at Snake’s next adventure. Previously Kojima announced another MSG game in development called Ground Zeroes but according to a recent tweet GZ will serve as a prequel to TFP with a potential to ship on the same disc as TFP:

“Ground Zeroes” is a prologue of “MGSV”. 9 years after that event will be “The Phantom Pain”. MGSV is constructed w/ prologue and main game “TPP”. The game play demo I presented today is the opening of “TPP” which is tutorial that starts from crawling.

MGSV takes advantage of Kojima’s new FOX Engine and the game is confirmed to hit the current generation of platforms including Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. No word if the game will make the leap to next-gen consoles such as the PS4 and the next Xbox.

Now, there are reports that Snake will not be voiced by David Hayter, the voice actor who has played the franchise’s protagonist since the beginning in all English-language versions of the MGS titles. In an interview with GameTrailers, Kojima explained it like this: “What we’re trying to accomplish is [to] recreate the Metal Gear series. It’s a new type of Metal Gear game and we wanted to have this reflected in the voice actor as well.” But for fans this pill is surely hard to swallow. David Hayter is Snake, just as Steve Downes is Master Chief in Halo.

There’s no release date in sight yet, but feast your eyes on the next Metal Gear Solid. Like all things Kojima, it’s candy for the eyes.

‘Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’ is almost here, watch the brutal new trailer

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on January 15th, 2013

It feels like eons ago when video game developer Hideo Kojima debuted his Metal Gear spinoff game Metal Gear Rising at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. The slice-and-dice action game starring cyborg ninja Raiden is been in development for awhile and even saw a name change to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Kojima Productions failed to get the ball rolling, a deal was struck to have Platinum Games (Bayonetta) take over the reins and develop the game. Kojima’s team still remained heavily involved with the making of the title, however, as the game’s producer. Revengeance, which takes place four years after the events that occurred in MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots, retains Metal Gear DNA even though it plans to tell self-contained plot. Gamers can get a sense of the gameplay when a demo releases in one week on January 22. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance finally ships for Xbox 360 and PS3 in the U.S. on February 19. Preorder today.

Now sit back, relax, and hit play to watch the latest trailer for Revengeance, edited by Hideo Kojima himself. Like all of Kojima’s efforts this trailer is stunningly cinematic with gorgeous cutscenes and equally engaging gameplay.

2012 Video Game Awards winners and exclusive trailers

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on December 12th, 2012

On December 7 an energetic (is he ever not) Samuel L. Jackson hosted the 2012 Video Game Awards, this year celebrating its 10th anniversary. The game that won the most Vector Monkey trophies this year was The Walking Dead: The Game from Telltale Games. In addition to being crowned Game of the Year (besting Assassin’s Creed III, Dishonored, Journey, and Mass Effect 3), it also won Best Adapted Video Game, Best Performance by a Human Female (Melissa Hutchison as Clementine), and Best Downloadable Game. Developer Telltale Games was named Studio of the Year for making the title. Borderlands 2 came in close second taking home four Monkeys for Best Shooter, Best Multiplayer Game, Best Performance by a Human Male (Dameon Clarke as Handsome Jack), and Character of the Year (Clap Trap). Journey followed by winning Best PS3 Game, Best Independent Game, and Best Original Score (fun fact: the indie game’s composer Austin Wintory landed a Grammy nomination in the Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media category).

For the full list of winners, jump after the break.

Now in addition to handing out awards, game developers use the show as a platform to introduce gamers to upcoming titles and this year’s bunch was exciting and exhilarating as ever. The following games debuted never-before-seen world premiere trailers: South Park: The Stick of Truth (Obsidian Entertainment), The Phantom Pain (Moby Dick Studios), “The Last of Us” (Naughty Dog, coming out May 7, 2013), Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (Konami), Dark Souls II (From Software), Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington (Ubisoft), Gears of War: Judgment (Epic Games), Tomb Raider (Square Enix), Halo 4: Spartan Ops (Microsoft Studios), and BioShock Infinite (2K Games).

Watch all the VGA exclusive trailers after the break. (Click here for more…)

A grander look at ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ (trailer #2)

Posted in Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on November 17th, 2012

Rockstar Games knows how to make ’em. Here’s our second official look at the next Grand Theft Auto. It’s number 5 if you’re counting and can’t read Roman numerals. The developer says that Los Santos, the new LA-influenced setting for the game, is the most ambitious and expansive open world they’ve ever created. After you watch this trailer you’ll see exactly what they mean. Also, it looks like we’ll be following three different protagonists this go-around. If you were blown away by the game’s visuals the first time around (over a year ago!), just wait and see what this peek has to offer.

And now we have a release window. GTA V is slated to drop Spring 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

‘Halo 4’ releases Tuesday; prepare and watch ‘Forward Unto Dawn’ web series

Posted in News,Technology,Video,Web Series by Scott Meisner on November 5th, 2012

This Tuesday Halo 4 releases for Xbox 360 and a new trilogy forges on. In the original trilogy developer Bungie introduced us to the iconic Master Chief and we controlled the super-solider as he discovered the Halo Array and the Ark, crippled the alien alliance known as the Covenant, and battled the parasitic Flood. After going on to release a prequel to Halo 3 designated ODST and a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved with Halo: Reach, Bungie handed the franchise’s reigns to a new developer, 343 Industries. Halo 4 brings us back into control of the Chief, and we find him just where we left him at the end of Halo 3 in 2007; he’s aboard the UNSC ship Forward Unto Dawn, floating in space drifting toward a mysterious Forerunner planet called Requiem. Chief’s last words were delivered to Cortana, his AI companion, and they were, “Wake me, when you need me.” Halo 4, in addition to providing addicting online multiplayer modes, will delve deeper into the franchise’s mythology as Master Chief inadvertently crash lands on a Forerunner planet infested with Covenant, Forerunner technology, and, according to the game’s marketing, “an ancient evil awakens.” And on top of that, there’s something wrong with Cortana; she is going “rampant” (or insane) because she is operating beyond her natural lifespan.

Excited yet? Let me give you a boost…

Leading up to the release of Halo 4, Microsoft Studios and 343 Industries developed a five-part live-action web series set in the Halo universe. Forward Unto Dawn follows a group of freshman cadets at the UNSC’s Corbulo Academy of Military Science and places particular focus on troubled cadet Thomas Lasky. The story takes fans to the beginning of the Human/Covenant war and it seamlessly weaves into where things kick off in Halo 4. The series is a bold journey into the Halo universe and it tells a compelling story worth investing your time in, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise. The acting and special effects are surprisingly effective, and in addition to amping you up for the new game it will also make you wish a Halo miniseries a la HBO’s Band of Brothers was made. Forward Unto Dawn can be viewed online at Machinima or on your console via the Halo Waypoint app.

Halo 4 is being sold in various forms; there’s the regular copy ($60), the limited edition copy ($100), it’s bundled in a Halo-themed 320GB console package ($350), and there’s a Halo-themed wireless controller ($60). Want a read more before jumping in? IGN gives a glowing review. Watch the launch trailer after the break. (Click here for more…)

Video game trailer: ‘God of War: Ascension’ brings Kratos back to the PS3

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on April 20th, 2012

Here’s your very first look at the next God of War game that’s subtitled Ascension. After watching the teaser trailer, it’s assumed that this GoW will serve as a prequel and take place before the events played out in the other Kratos-led games. “There was a time before Kratos became the monster known as the Ghost of Sparta,” growls the teaser’s narrator. Besides this announcement video, the only other facts surrounding Ascension are these: Sony Santa Monica Studios is currently developing the game and Todd Pappy, GoW 3‘s design direction, is serving as the game director this time around. Is it too early to be hoping for a holiday 2012 release? More as more comes in.

[Via PlayStationBlog]

Mickey and Oswald team up in ‘Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two’

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on March 25th, 2012

Disney’s masthead Mickey is back in a sequel to the 2010 Wii exclusive Epic Mickey. Video game developer Warren Spector and his Junction Point Studios are hard at work on Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, refining the gameplay and aesthetics of the original. Fans of Epic Mickey will notice two key differences here: one, Mickey will have a trusty sidekick in the the sequel and it’s Oswald!; two, the game will release for Wii as well as the Xbox 360 and PS3, so gamers can now fully explore the grim but vibrant Wasteland in hi-def on the next-gen consoles. It has been confirmed that Epic Mickey 2 will be compatible with PlayStation Move accessories, however there are no plans to make use of Xbox’s Kinect. Check out the epic trailer above!

EM2 is expected to release this fall, and a 3DS companion game called Epic Mickey 2: Power of Illusion is on its way, too. Eye the box art after the break, as well as a video featuring Spector talking about the upcoming game. (Click here for more…)

2011 Video Game Awards winners and exclusive trailers

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on December 11th, 2011

This past weekend Spike TV played host to the ninth annual Video Game Awards. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim took home the Vector Monkey trophy for Game of the Year, besting Portal 2, Batman Arkham City, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Throughout the night, host Zachary Levi (Chuck) interacted with neat in-show augmented reality animations from the aforementioned nominees. Skyrim also won Best RPG and helped Bethesda get crowned Studio of the Year. Portal 2 was recognized multiple times throughout the night; it won Best PC Game, Best Multiplayer Game, Best Performance by Male and Female, and Best DLC. Arkham City also won multiple awards for Character of the Year (The Joker), Best Xbox 360 Game, Best Action Adventure Game, and Best Adapted Video Game. This year the Gamer God Award went to Blizzard Entertainment, and Shigeru Miyamoto was on hand to accept the first ever Video Game Hall of Fame Award for The Legend of Zelda. After the break you’ll find a list of all the night’s winners and losers.

Though the awards play a big part of the VGAs every year, it’s the world premiere footage from upcoming games that really gets gamers amped. Among the most celebrated were Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, Command and Conquer: Generals 2 from Bioware, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, Fortnite from Epic Games (introduced by Cliffy B. himself), Irrational Games’ Bioshock Infinite, and Blizzard’s introductory cinematic for Diablo III. And then were was the VGAs epic finale. Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima stepped on stage to unveil the latest pulse-pounding trailer for Metal Gear Rising. This one took my breath away; it’s a must-see. Jump after the break to watch all of the world premiere trailers screened at the VGAs.

[Via Spike 1, 2] (Click here for more…)