Greetings humans, Monki here with a fresh batch of game news for you. It's been a busy week here in the treehouse as I am currently relocating to a fresh new abode, one where I can put all my arcade games and wire the hell out of the entire place. There will be a party and you will be invited. (Maybe.)
Aside from that, I've been busting my furry ass trying to beat Guitar Hero 2 on Hard. "Jessica" can bite my bald red ass.
Earlier this week I kicked off a new contest, make sure you drop an entry in. Read more about it here.
Also in this column I'm bring in one of our new games writers to talk about the recently released Forza 2. Hopefully we'll be getting more of these as I'd like to get a new review up weekly!
Lots to cover, here we go.
Press Releases of the Week!
Okay, admittedly, this release is old but I promise I will make up for it with the accompanying video. Enjoy.
ATLANTA - May 17, 2007 - GameTap, the first-of-its-kind broadband entertainment network from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.), announced today the launch of a new GameTap Retrospective series and a new original animated series, "Re\Visioned," that pays homage to one of the game industry's top franchises of all time – Tomb Raider.
"10 Years of Tomb Raider – A GameTap Retrospective" profiles the creators, the games, the live-action models, and the fans who have collectively made Tomb Raider a pop culture phenomenon. The documentary will be available for free for all fans to view at www.gametap.com/tombraider and new segments will be added each week through June 7th.
"The Retrospectives series explores the most beloved game franchises and their impacts on pop culture. With ‘10 Years of Tomb Raider,' we show the history of this legendary series of games," said Ricardo Sanchez, GameTap's vice president of content. "Fans of Tomb Raider will get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at one of the industry's most successful game franchises."
"We wanted to do something special for Lara's 10th anniversary," said Larry Sparks, Eidos' head of brands management. "Working with GameTap allowed us to tell the Tomb Raider story like never before, complete with fan interviews from around the world and a first ever photo shoot that brought together the live action Lara Croft models."
GameTap has also created a new original animated series, "Re\Visioned", for GameTap TV. This all-new animated series explores and reimagines well known video game franchises. The first season features interpretations of video gaming's leading lady, Lara Croft, by well-known animators, comic book artists and writers.
To create "Re\Visioned: Tomb Raider" GameTap commissioned Peter Chung, Jim Lee, Warren Ellis, Cully Hamner, Gail Simone, David Alvarez, Michael Stackpole, Brian Pulido, and Christos Gage, among others, to provide their ‘Re\Visioned' view of the famous video game heroine. The first episode in this original animation series will debut on July 10th with new episodes running through August 23rd. There are 10 episodes in total and they will be available to view for free at GameTap.com.
"Lara Croft is an icon, so we brought in some of the most iconic creative talent of today," continued Sanchez. "These writers and artists have created or worked with some of the best known characters from comics and animation and we've been honored to work with them to make the first season of our ‘Re\Visioned' series a reality."
Visitors to the newly launched micro-site, www.gametap.com/tombraider will get access to the new Retrospective documentary, "Re\Visioned: Tomb Raider" animated series, trailers and clips for both programs.
Fans can also purchase the PC version of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary at GameTap.com's new digital retail storefront and GameTap subscribers can play the game day and date when it hits retail shelves on June 5th, 2007.
And, as promised, a special video.
IGN has the photos...hooray.
Personally I've been a fan of re-imagining video games as long as the core gameplay isn't modified. I would love to play some of the original Tony Hawk levels with the new engine from Project 8, or get my hands on Warcraft 2 but all 3d modeled and what not.
There was a project a while back to convert the first chapter of Doom for Doom 3 called "Classic Doom." You can find it here. I never got a chance to check it out but I love the idea.
Pretty Images of the Week!
The Darkness is one of those games that just looks fun as hell. You are a mafia guy with giant evil monsters coming out of your back? Wicked.
From a violent shooter to a family title...with all the Star Wars news going around, I gotta throw this trailer out there. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Ep's 1-6)...looks like a good time for the whole family.
Who wants to help me disassemble Jar Jar over and over?
Monki's X Most Important Stories of the Week!
New York is donating money to the ESA...via a video game law that will be shot down.
Holy crap. Forza 2 artists are freaky good. I want to drive a Butters-mobile!
Microsoft launches Surface. RTS fans around the world collectively crap their pants. (Does that count as WoW news?
Spy Hunter gets a new director. When is the Halo movie coming out again?
Oh yeah...we're not sure if it is even coming out. Man, I wish some company with a shit-ton of money would back it. You know, maybe someone who publishes the game...I don't know...who could have that kind of money?
Dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria. We must be near the end-times when these two are on the same stage. I wonder if either of these guys can pay for the Halo movie.
Behold, the wireless axe. My next tool to fail horribly on "Jessica" with.
I foresee a lot of sick days within these few weeks.
Stepping Away from the Podium of the Week!
This week I'm going to hand off some time to Player One who is one of our new AICN Games writers. He sent in a brief review of Forza 2, now available for the XBox 360. I'm not a huge "car game" fan, so this is perfect for me to step aside from and let someone else take the mic. Expect to see more stuff like this over the next few months with AICN Games. Enjoy Player One's review.
Forza Motorsport 2 isn't your little brother's racing game. There are no blue shells, nor are there any sweet jumps or traffic checking. Rather, developer Turn Ten has delivered an honest to God driving game for the Xbox 360 where the main focus is exactly that: driving. In order to make an accurate and compelling driving sim, the art and science of what makes a car 'go' must be understood and implemented well into the mechanics of the game.
Turn Ten has built off the already amazing driving engine from their previous Forza game in 2005, but have improved upon them as they have focused on honing and adjusting the car physics to be as accurate as they need to be. The result is astonishing as every car feels distinct and unique as they react to speed and the road with amazing reality. Yet it is in these surreal behaviors of the cars that may act as a deterrent to anyone new to the franchise or the genre. That is to say that the game isn't as accessible to those who do not already have an interest in racing sims or who aren't huge gear heads. It isn't all that fun for Newman Newbie to be constantly be spinning out and crashing into walls in a Volkswagen Beetle. Despite this, the game tries to break those dividing walls and does a great job at combating this harsh learning curve by providing plenty driving aids as well as refined braking line that guides the driver of when and where they should break during a turn. Forza 2 is a hard game, but with the driving aids it is only as hard as you want it to be.
The driving engine may be the star of the game, but the community marketplace is where the game becomes addicting. With a mix of eBay and the World of Warcraft auction house, the Forza 2 online market is simply incredible. By allowing one to sell and buy cars and paint jobs from anyone in the world, it makes the game personal and intimate. The custom paint job system in the game is so layered and advanced that it allows for some truly amazing works to be made; and then sold for a nice profit.
Forza 2 in essence is that girlfriend you used to have who you loved dearly yet wasn't pretty enough to show off to your friends. The visual in Forza 2 has this effect on the game as it fails to impress graphically; especially in standard definition. While the game runs at an amazing 60 frames per second, the 'wow' factor is missing. Sure, the car models are amazing, but so is every next gen racing game's. In the new age of high def graphics, Forza 2 has no visual leverage in the racing game market to warrant a purchase merely off of visuals. For Forza 2, graphics aren't king; gameplay is. And it would seem as if many Microsoft games are taking this approach (*Cough*Halo 3*).
At the end of the day, Forza 2 delivers only what it promises; a great driving game with plenty of community input. Anything beyond that, the game wanes and fails to impress; especially on an aesthetic level. Turn Ten understands the language of racing cars as well as car worship, and in doing so speaks loud and clear to the enthusiast in all of us.
Two Credits to continue...