Sunday, July 25, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010: Day Three Video Game Panels

Scheduling for the third day of video game panels was a bit complicated, some were early while others were too close from others.

Despite some misses, I got into the "Street Fighter" and "Epic Mickey" panels.

Street Fighter

"Super Street Fighter IV" producer Yoshinori Ono began the panel about the rumored "Darkstalkers" game believed to appear in Comic Con. Confirmed to not be true, Ono though asked the crowd to pull out a dollar and were photographed to convince Capcom to help create a new entry in the series.

Ono then talked about the success of Super Street Fighter IV and planning for a Nintendo DS release of the game.

"We're going to do our best to have the look and feel of SSF4 on the 360 and PS3 and bring that to the DS," Ono said. So be on the lookout in the future for more information about SSF4 on DS."

The two mysterious character slots featured in the upcoming arcade version of SSF4 have been discussed with the crowd guessing who will they be.

"In September we have the Tokyo Game Show and we'll talk about that more then," Ono replied.

Ono made an announcement that a new version of "Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike" is now in development with the additional subtitle "Online Edition." No further details including platforms have been released.

He jokingly said shortly after, "because you saved my job, the least I could do is bring Street Fighter III back to you."

During some talk about additional content to SSF4, people from Namco interrupted by giving out copies of Tekken 6 and suddenly producer Katsuhiro Harada came in to announce that his company and Capcom are working on two projects using characters from Tekken and Street Fighter.

The first revealed titled "Street Fighter X Tekken" (X pronounced as cross) is being developed by Capcom. It seems to resemble and play more like Street Fighter IV with additional tag features.

Harada announced that Namco will be developing "Tekken X Street Fighter" which will play in a 3D gamefield, closer to what is in Tekken.

Ono did want the crowd to enjoy "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" first as both of the "X" games will not arrive "for a while."

Epic Mickey

Later on in the day, renowned developer Warren Spector and Marvel writer Peter David were panelists for their upcoming Disney project tentatively titled "Epic Mickey."

Spector considered that when people get their hands on the game, they should "perceive the game as they want it."

Spector began to talk about the origins of the creation of Epic Mickey including his strong interest in developing a platformer and David's involvement after the Marvel/Disney merger.

A new trailer was reviled showing familiar locations like Steamboat Willie and new ones influenced by Pirates of the Carribean.

Later on, the topic of morality in the game was discussed. Spector wanted to avoid the good/bad path and dig deeper into more detail like how one group might admires a said activity while another group doesn't.

As additional content, a digital comic named "Tales of Wasteland" was announced providing background information about the universe named "Wasteland;" where older Disney characters and settings have been deserted.

David will be working on the six issues as well as an 64-page graphic novel adaptation to the game when it ships fourth quarter of 2010.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010: Day Two Video Game Panels

On the second day of Comic Con, I visited some of the important video game panels including Epic Game's anticipated shooter "Gears of War 3."

Twisted Metal

Earlier in the day, I went to see info on the upcoming "Twisted Metal" coming for the PlayStation 3. People at the panel featured members of the development team Eat Sleep Play including series creator David Jaffe.

Jaffe detailed on the single player mode which will focus on four characters; Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, Dollface and Preacher. Each will have live action sequences detailing some backstory as well as endings.

Eat Sleep Play would later reveal a new level still planned in development named "Rooftop;" heavily influenced by similarly named maps in the first two Twisted Metal games.

Jaffe also discussed different concepts of what Twisted Metal was supposed to be. Included is "Twisted Metal: Apocalypse" taking place in a post-nuclear setting and another was a clean and stylized approach similar to what can be seen in the "Midnight Club" game.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Unfortunately, I missed the "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" panel due to being open when Twisted Metal ended and being full in the meeting room. From what I have heard, it basically talked about what the game was and shown the trailer to new character and Okami protagonist Ameterasu.

Gears of War 3

During the evening, Epic Games shown tons of new content for "Gears of War 3" and other expanded content surrounding the series.

Moderated by G4TV's Adam Sessler, Epic Game's Rod Ferguson and Cliff Blezinski appeared to talk about new stuff in Gears of War 3.

They begun talking about the origins of the new mode "Beast." After some testing of "Gears of War 2's" "Horde" mode, it was believed that an Epic developer suggested trying the Locust Horde and lead to the creation of Beast. It's different from Horde where players take roles as the Locust in order to take down the humans. Blezinski called Beast a "class-based squad mode."

Both Blezinski and Ferguson provided specified commentary to the E3 co-operative demonstration giving more insight to parts including weapons and enemies.

While female characters were confirmed, more details was revealed in the panel. Actress Claudia Black was confirmed to play as a soldier named Sam. Another named Bernie was confirmed to fight along with the other Gears.

The rumors of hip-hop artists Drake and Ice-T in Gears of War 3 was confirmed to be true as they will be important characters in the story.

Book series author Karen Traviss who worked on the previous two Gears of War novels is now confirmed to be writing two more books respectively titled "Anvil Gate" and "Coalition's End." The latter book has been revealed that it will take place 18 months in between the second and third games.

The action figure series by NECA is still developing new models just in time for Gears of War 3. The main panalists were then suddenly interrupted by actor Carlos Ferro, who played as major character Dom. Eventually the voice actors of Cole, Lester Speight, and then Carmine, Michael Gough, appeared creating loud reactions from the crowd.

Gough especially talked about the dispute of Carmine's fate and was split on both choices: "Save Carmine" and "Carmine Must Die." Blezinski would introduce a video serving as a campaign video about picking one of the sides.

The panel ended with a strong question and answer session involving things in multiplayer and the universe.

Fans of the game were able to get autographs from every panelists including Gough who was eager to get as much signatures as possible.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

San Diego Comic Con 2010: Day One Video Game Panels

Thursday at this year’s San Diego Comic Con International featured a prominent video game appearance including special panels for upcoming releases which some I visited.

At the morning, one of the many meeting rooms featured Capcom’s “Dead Rising 2” with a high volume of people attending.

While developers Blue Castle Games were unable to come by to talk about the game, creator and executive producer Keiji Inafune and producer Shinsaka Ohara appeared before the crowd. Inafune discussed a bit of how surprisingly successful the first game was and hopes that Dead Rising 2 will “cater more to western audiences.”

More details of the plot have been revealed where the zombie outbreak hit Las Vegas and later the main area Fortune City.

While Dead Rising 2 takes place 5 years after the original, the downloadable “Case Zero” will confine to the Vegas infection just two years.

Dated for an Aug. 31 release date just a short of a month before the full game, Case Zero is an Xbox 360 exclusive priced at 400 Microsoft Points. The game is “To provide a taste of Dead Rising 2 while serving something new,” Inafune said. Case Zero introduces sequel protagonist Chuck and his daughter surviving zombies in Vegas. The downloadable also gives background on the anti-zombification medicine “Zombrex” which will serve a strong role in the full sequel.

Chuck in Dead Rising 2 participates in a zombie killing show in Fortune City to fund enough money for his daughter’s Zombrex medication. Along the way, Chuck gets framed for trying to destroy television equipment and must clear his name before a 72 hour extraction deadline.

Capcom also details about Dead Rising 2’s multiplayer where players can play against each other or in co-op as well as participate in mini-game challenges dubbed “Terror Is Reality.”

Set for Sept. 28, Dead Rising 2 will receive a special “Zombrex” edition featuring various props and a special disc different in both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. While the PlayStation 3 will receive a making of documentary, the Xbox 360 version will have Inafune-directed B-movie horror film “Zombrex Dead Rising Sun” with an exclusive alternate ending.

Later on, Ubisoft began a panel for “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” featuring G4TV’s Morgan Webb on moderation.

Writer Jeffrey Yohalem described how the whole Assassin’s Creed series relied on a specific set of rules where everything in the game had to have justification for it to exist. The storyline relying on controversial historical periods and being “the spine of the experience;” meaning that other elements including gameplay and sound aids this plot.

Brotherhood continues the storyline of Italian assassin Ezio Auditore di Firenze and his struggle leading to truly leading the Assassin Order. Yohalem confirmed that the themes of Brotherhood was heavily influenced by “The Prince” by real-life person and series character Machiavelli. Characters in the “Assassin’s Creed 2’s” story including Ezio’s mother Maria and will have a much larger and complex role in shaping his destiny.

The multiplayer fits in to the story where members of the antagonistic group Abstergo takes over personas of assassins to train them. Along with an overview, two new characters were announced including the bearded “Blacksmith” and the smirky “Soldier.”

With the release of Brotherhood, a comic book series is planned. Taking place in early-1900 Russia, the protagonist is a novice assassin named Nikolai who travels between Siberia and St. Petersburg while the infamous Tunguska Event occurred.

Towards the evening, members of Bungie initiated a demonstration of new features in “Halo: Reach.” Multiplayer designer Lars Bakken discussed the options that can be placed in returning mode “Firefight.” Players can customize wave types and enemies, end a game prematurely, and provide objectives including generator defense. Still multiplayer enabled, Reach features matchmaking along with friend based joining. A mode introduced in the panel is “Versus” where one can be a Spartan defending Covenant forces led by another playable member. Versus will be playable tomorrow at Comic Con.

Another part of the live demonstration is the much improved “Forge” mode. While the multiplayer favorite “Blood Gulch” returns to Reach re-titled as “Hemorrhage,” it’s part of a tremendously bigger map called “Forge World.” Just like its title, it’s a map perfect for different designs using Forge. The capabilities of constructing new things in Forge has increased like where objects can clip on other pieces and much better rotation controls giving new possibilities in making outrageous designs. Bungie also had video documentary shortly released showing what can be done in the new Forge mode.

Before the end of the Halo: Reach panel, Bungie revealed a special Xbox 360 containing a special silver design on the console and two controllers along with a full copy of the game. The special edition console is planned to release the same as Reach.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cermemony - Rohnert Park/Trash Talk - Eyes & Nines

California Über Alles
These two northern California bands share a lot of similarities. Interesting to note that these bands are friends to one another and a member from each group contributed in the others' latest releases. Both Ceremony and Trash Talk in their previous works combined a very fast and straightforward style very reminiscent of Infest and other groups distinctive to some modern hardcore punk today. The latest releases from both bands signifies a departure from that approach. Yet different, their favor of finding a new noise still binds their musical relationship.

From the two, Ceremony takes a huge left turn in "Rohnert Park." There is a profound difference in comparison to their earlier recordings "Violence, Violence" and "Still Nothing Moves You." From hyperspeed anger to now nostalgic homage of more classic hardcore groups from the 1980s. The stylistic changes help create catchiness and variation. While some sound like a punk in the default sense, the others including 'The Doldums (Friendly City)' feel like something out of a new wave band. Beginning song 'Sick' pays respect (and jokingly disrespects) to those bands while the constant punk beat goes on and vocalist Ross Farrar goes misanthrophic about Barrack Obama, the GOP, atheists, buddhists, and other annoyances.

Lyrically, the content is strong detailing things Farrar's stints in Main County Detention Facility in Sonoma County, California ('MCDF'), his near death experience seconds after his birth ('Back In '84'), and the dullness of growing up in the city of Rohnert Park ('The Doldrums [Friendly City]'). The clarity of his storytelling always felt enjoyable and immersive while digesting. Sure it's not exactly distinctive to other suburban kid angst content but it's all about the details.

Hours east is Sacramento where Trash Talk formed and vocalist Lee Spielman still resides. His approach in "Eyes & Nines" is more centered towards many different (and sometimes abstract) themes as opposed to personal pieces. It can range from smoking pot on Wednesday ('Hash Wednesday') to pyromania ('Explode). Lyrics in Trash Talk though is not their strongest suit but rather their assaulting manner of the vocals and instruments mixing.

It's different from their earlier releases yet have a similar feeling. Trash Talk tries out a Discharge-like d-beat approach and hell it's successful. Sans the super doomy Hash Wednesday, Eyes & Nines lasts only 12 minutes long thanks to the constantly fast and seamless transitioning of songs. The bludgeoning strikes in 'I Do' immediately continues in 'Trudge' and does the same in 'On A Fix' and the titled and ultimate track. Especially at the second half of the album, it's energy-inducing and doesn't take breaks; Trash Talk still knows how to make swift and memorable strikes.