Remember Project Cars, the beautiful sim racer from the team behind Need for Speed: Shift? Well, it’s finally coming out, and relatively soon. Or at least that’s what developer Slightly Mad Studios is promising, anyway. After three embarrassing delays, we’ve got a new release date for your calendar: May 6th. The game will be available first on PC (via Steam) in the US before a staggered international release on PS4 and Xbox One: it’ll arrive in Europe and Australasia on May 7th, followed by the UK on May 8th and North America on May 12th. There’s no word on the Wii U version though, which is a little worrying.
Sony and Microsoft’s latest consoles already offer a few realistic driving games (Forza Motorsport 5, Forza Horizon 2, Driveclub, etc.) but Project Cars is shaping up to be a worthy contender, at least in the graphics department. The latest trailers and screenshots look drop-dead gorgeous, with pixel-perfect cars and immersive weather effects. As usual, it seems PC will be the optimal platform if you have a high-end gaming rig though. The game supports a whopping 12K resolution, which trumps the 1080p and 60 frames per second offered on the PS4, well as the 900p and 60 frames per second found on Xbox One. Not that many people have three 4K monitors lying around, but at least the option’s there.
Filed under: Gaming
Source: Project Cars
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a new game from The Chinese Room, the studio behind beautiful exploration experience Dear Esther and horror game Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. It’s exclusive to PlayStation 4 and takes place in a gorgeous, abandoned 3D world. In-game, players embark on a mission to discover where everyone in this quaint village went — how and why they all seemingly, suddenly popped out of existence. Time plays a “fairly central role” in the game and it involves mysterious beams of golden light. The Chinese Room revealed Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture at Sony’s Gamescom presentation in 2013 with an eerie trailer hinting at a retro, post-apocalyptic environment, and the latest video expands on these themes. It’s similarly vague but offers a look at another environment, this time an empty children’s classroom that appears to have been ransacked by … something. Along with the new video, The Chinese Room offers a taste of the game’s music with a haunting, orchestral track.
Creative Director Dan Pinchbeck predicts the soundtrack is going to be a major hit this year. “Actually, I think it’s better than that, it’s one of the best game soundtracks ever created,” he says. Bold words about a mysterious game. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is due out this summer, but you can listen to the new song and watch the latest trailer right here:
Source: PlayStation Blog
Mortal Kombat is synonymous with violence — hell, it’s baked into the franchise’s name. But despite how increasingly gruesome the series has become with each successive release throughout its 23-year history, it hasn’t lost sight of keeping the tone light as a counterbalance. Whether that’s a head popping up saying, “Toasty!” in falsetto after a particularly brutal uppercut, or turning an opponent into a crying baby that slips on a puddle of frozen urine at the end of a match, humor is just as intrinsic to the game as its bloodshed. What the series delivers is cartoony, over-the-top violence akin to the B-movie horror of something like Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. Fatalities, Mortal Kombat‘s signature, end-of-match moves, are shockingly gory, for sure, but somehow developer NetherRealm keeps the game from feeling like torture porn.
“We’re not out trying to make Saw or a horror film,” says NetherRealm Lead Designer John Edwards. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
To understand where the series’ newest installment, Mortal Kombat X, gets its groin-exploding levels of violence from, though, you need to take a look at where it all started: the arcade.
Back in the early ’90s, arcade games didn’t have the multimillion-dollar ad campaigns afforded to modern releases, so to stand out from the crowd they needed to be bigger and louder than whatever cabinet was closest. “You have to hit people over the head with something that gets them to put a quarter in,” says Dave Lang, CEO of Divekick and Killer Instinct developer Iron Galaxy Studios.
Lang worked as the studio tech director at Midway Chicago, MK‘s original developer, before the company dissolved due to bankruptcy in 2009. As he tells it, humor was a key factor to all of the games that came out of the studio: NFL Blitz, NARC, Revolution X, NBA Jam and, yes, Mortal Kombat.
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“Mortal Kombat in general is the byproduct of kids in their 20s (us, 20 years ago) who grew up on ’80s and ’90s movies,” says series co-creator and NetherRealm Creative Director Ed Boon. He cites hyper-violent action movies Terminator, Predator, Enter the Dragon and Bloodsport as direct influences, and it’s easy to see how those made their way into the game. Consider the obvious example of Mortal Kombat‘s Johnny Cage, the not-quite-Jean-Claude-Van-Damme character. In general, though, it’s mostly the over-the-top tone that ran rampant in 1980s cinema that pervades Mortal Kombat.
“Mortal Kombat is the byproduct of kids in their 20s who grew up on ’80s and ’90s movies,” says series co-creator and NetherRealm Creative Director Ed Boon.
That level of nonstop violence is what makes the game so fun to watch — it’s the most brutal form of slapstick you’ll likely ever witness. It’s also relentless. Mortal Kombat‘s trademark fatalities and other vicious combos are entertaining precisely because they don’t stop. For example, one of character Cassie Cage’s fatalities starts with her kneecapping an opponent and then shooting them in the skull with a pistol.
Had NetherRealm stopped there, the resulting move probably would feel a lot darker than the actual end result. But that’s where the levity, and the absurdity, of Mortal Kombat‘s violence comes into play: Cage, drenched by the still-spraying blood of her opponent’s fresh wound, walks up and blows a bubble with her chewing gum. She then pulls the bubblegum from her mouth and plugs up the spurting wound. But that’s not all. With no other outlet for the blood to go, it fills up in her opponent’s head, blows a bubble of its own and then pops. Gross? Definitely. Upsetting? Not so much.
“We want people to cringe and then laugh about it at the end,” says Edwards. “We never really try to shock someone and then leave it at that.”
“The fatalities we have in the game are so over the top, 95 percent of the responses we get are laughter,” he says. “It’s like the Evil Dead movies: You can’t take it seriously.
“If that ingredient [humor] wasn’t there, it’d be a really dark game,” Boon says, laughing.
“When you’re working on a franchise for that long, it becomes ingrained in the culture of the studio,” Edwards says. “These are the things we do; these are the things we don’t do.”
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What’s more, keeping MK‘s tone consistent apparently isn’t all that difficult. Fatalities are a team effort and everyone at the studio is welcome to pitch their ideas. With so much veteran talent in every department and a team that’s worked on the series for over two decades, the boundaries of what’s appropriate are already pretty well-known.
“We want people to cringe and then laugh about it at the end,” says Edwards.
When I ask Boon if there’s a line that wouldn’t get crossed in terms of violence, his tone shifts dramatically, going from jovial to sober.
“Absolutely. We have these meetings where we come up with ideas, and inevitably somebody will say something where we go: ‘That’s not funny. That’s crossing some kind of difficult-to-define line.’” Boon agrees that the line is similar to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s 1964 attempt to define hardcore porn as a hard-to-describe, but “I know it when I see it” thing.
“We all know when it’s crossed,” Boon says.
For example, a fatality that involves slashing an opponent’s wrists and then watching them bleed out would never make it into a Mortal Kombat game because real-world violence doesn’t have a place in the series. Unless you happen to be a mystic ninja who can control fire, chances are you won’t be blowing a hole through an enemy’s torso with a fireball and slicing the front of their face off with a sword anytime soon. It’s comic book or cartoon violence the team is after — not realism.
“We try to not do things that are gratuitously cruel or realistic just for the sake of shock value,” says Edwards. “Our shock value is more like ‘Hey, that’s impossible, but look how cool and creepy it looks.’”
Johnny Cage’s Jack Torrance impression starts at the 1:10 mark.
And speaking of how it looks, that evolution in graphical fidelity is really what drives the game’s gore system forward. The fatalities that sent former First Lady Hillary Clinton and former Sen. Joe Lieberman into a tizzy in 1993, and spurred the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, are nothing compared to what’s in 2015’s Mortal Kombat X. That doesn’t mean the team is doing stuff it wouldn’t have 10 or 20 years ago; it just means there are few, if any, tech roadblocks in the way.
Whereas two decades ago, ice-ninja Sub-Zero ripping an opponent’s pixelated head off (with their spine still attached) pushed the limits of arcade hardware and home consoles, now he can shoot an ice ball at an opponent’s gut, shatter it, reach inside their gaping torso, break their spine in two and then rip their body in half horizontally. And yes, that’s totally something you can do with a few button presses in this week’s Mortal Kombat X.
“It’s obviously something to just get a response out of you. I don’t know how you can get mad about that,” says Lang. “It’s brutal, but not cruel.”
“I don’t think we’re doing anything that’s any different than what we’ve done in the past,” Edwards says. “Obviously we’re able to do more, cooler things based on tech, but we’ve kept the same personality and style throughout all the games.”
Mortal Kombat X isn’t a massacre-simulator like the controversial PC game Hatred. Instead, it embraces the idea of grotesque violent comedy and puts the player in control of the slapstick. When Mortal Kombat‘s Johnny Cage peers through an opponent’s ribcage saying, “Heeeere’s Johnny!” it’s the equivalent of metal band Gwar’s Oderus Urungus force-feeding a fan to Gor-Gor the Dinosaur; it’s silly and stupid and intentionally absurd.
“I’ve watched on Twitter whenever they’ve released a [Mortal Kombat] trailer and there’s a predictable backlash,” Lang says. “I just don’t get it at all; it’s just so obviously over-the-top, ridiculous and impossible. It’s obviously something to just get a response out of you. I don’t know how you can get mad about that. It’s brutal, but not cruel.”
Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report
[Image credit: NetherRealm/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment]
Pre-orders for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided are live today via the game’s official site, open to pure humans and transhumans alike. (The site is down at the moment, but it should be “back soon”). Mankind Divided is in development for PS4, Xbox One and PC, and it doesn’t have an official release date. Yes, you can pre-order a game that was revealed, without many details, just minutes ago and that doesn’t yet have a release date. Welcome to the future.
Mankind Divided is the follow-up to Deus Ex: Human Revolution and it’s set two years after that game, in 2029, when people with technologically augmented bodies are at war with unaltered humans. Details about the game leaked yesterday, right in the middle of Square Enix and Eidos Montreal’s days-long teaser campaign featuring a Twitch stream of a man locked in a futuristic-looking cell. He spoke of transhumans forced to live in ghettoes and he vowed to fight for freedom. “We are stronger, faster, smarter,” the man read to the camera. “We have transcended our fears and because of this you have declared war. And so we will fight for the respect we deserve.”
Mankind Divided will have a heavy focus on player choice, and this idea was integrated into the Twitch teaser: At one point, viewers decided if the man should “resist” or “collaborate” with his captors by typing their choices into the chat (they chose “resist”). Square Enix officially revealed Mankind Divided with a pretty, action-packed, CG trailer, which you can view below.
Source: Square Enix
It’s been just under two weeks since Bloodborne brutalized me on JXE Streams. After years of building up the gumption to actually tackle one of From Software’s vicious action role-playing games, I finally braved its rank, monster-filled hallways. Know what? I loved it; the tension, the terror and the challenge are intoxicating. Not content to only explore Bloodborne‘s Victorian nightmare, I’ve decided to finally try its swords-and-sorcery predecessor, Dark Souls 2. We streamed Dark Souls 2 when it came out on PC in 2014, but this is the brand new PlayStation 4 version. We’ll play it for the first time live, for your pleasure.
Tune in right here, to Twitch.tv/Joystiq or at the top of Engadget.com/gaming at 3PM ET to check out the first two hours of Dark Souls 2. Have we played it before? Never. Are we going to die a whole hell of a lot for you? You know it.
If you dig the stream, please make sure to follow us on Twitch! That way you’ll know when we go live. If you want to know what we’ll be streaming in the coming weeks, bookmark Engadget.com/gaming to check out our schedule.
[We’re playing a retail copy of Dark Souls 2 on PlayStation 4 streamed through an Elgato Capture HD via OBS at 720p.]
[Images: Bandai Namco]
If you were quick to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you’ve probably had that horrible moment when you realized that your friends with last-generation systems couldn’t join you in online games. You won’t have to leave them behind when Skullgirls arrives, however. The fighting game’s senior animator, Jonathan Kim, has confirmed that the PS4 version will let you take on PS3 opponents. The notion of a cross-platform strategy isn’t completely new, since titles like Guilty Gear Xrd Sign do it. Still, it’s helping to establish a welcome trend — you may not always have to abandon your favorite players to get a new console, or feel pressured to upgrade just to keep up with the Joneses.
Filed under: Gaming
Source: Jonathan Kim (Twitter)
If you were intrigued by PlayStation Vue as a substitute for cable TV but refused to sign up until you could watch The Walking Dead, it’s time to hop aboard. Sony has added AMC Networks to Vue’s channel roster, giving you AMC proper as well as IFC, Sundance and WEtv. Be prepared to pony up if you just have to catch Portlandia, though — while you’ll get AMC and WEtv in the base Access package, IFC and Sundance are only available if you’ve subscribed to Core or Elite. This certainly isn’t the best deal if you care about AMC or IFC above all else (Sling TV offers it as part of its $20 bundle), but it’ll make Vue a better value for your cord-cutting dollar.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Am I “good” at games? I don’t know.
I’m 30 years old: I’ve been playing video games for 25 of those years, give or take, and covering games professionally for just over six years. I spent two weeks this year completing Mega Man 1 through 4. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into Spelunky. Whether I’m “good” at games is up for debate; I love challenging games. Despite this, I’ve never loved the divisive, feverishly adored/hated Souls games (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1 and 2). Their challenges felt too great to overcome, their systems too inscrutable, their technical issues too great in number. They felt frustrating instead of challenging.
Bloodborne — the latest entry in the series and the first without a “Souls” moniker attached — changes that. This is a game I love to hate. But I mostly just love it.
Really quickly, for those of you who don’t know what kind of game Bloodborne is:
- It’s a third-person action game.
- You play as an avatar of your creation made at the start of the game.
- The game’s narrative is largely unimportant; its setting is not. Bloodborne is set in a monster-filled version of Victorian England (a fictitious town named Yharnam).
- Each enemy, however weak, can easily kill you. Bloodborne (and the rest of the Souls games) demand careful planning and strategy with every single fight.
- It’s a game of exploration; specifically, it’s a game of exploring one massive, interconnected world.
So, what makes Bloodborne different from previous series entries? It’s not nearly as much of a dick as previous games. Yeah. Really.
I’m not trying to be flip — that’s a totally serious statement. While previous games punished players incessantly with compounding measures, Bloodborne encourages you to keep trying. That is a crucial difference in game design, and one that should make the PlayStation 4 exclusive appealing to a much larger audience than other Souls games.
Death in previous Souls games imbued status effects on your character — namely, lower overall health. That’s to say, “Each time you died, you started your next life with slightly less health than before.” Oh, and all the (terribly hard) enemies reappear after each death. If you got frustrated in your last attempt at an area and tried rushing through it on subsequent attempts, you were likely to die again. And quickly. That actually remains the case in Bloodborne — no rushing! But if you do rush, the worst that happens is you have to start the area over from your last save point (that is a punishment unto itself: save points are represented by in-game lamps placed throughout the world).
I used the word “inscrutable” earlier in reference to the systems of previous games. Bloodborne is, by contrast, concise and easily understood.
Your character wields a large sawblade melee weapon that transforms into a longer version of itself (which takes a bit more time to swing). He or She has a firearm in their other hand, and you use weapons by pushing the shoulder buttons and triggers. Simple!
There are a handful of “origins” to choose from at the start of the game. These are tied to your characters stats (seen below) — just seven boxes to dump points into (stuff like strength and vitality). Again, simple! I’ve been pushing mine into strength, vitality and stamina. Bloodborne demands offense far more often than defense, so I’ve spec’d up my character to be the stone-cold killer he needs to be.
There is only one currency in Bloodborne, which is used both for items (new weapons, armor, ammo, etc.) and for leveling up your character. Hilariously, the currency is called “Blood Echoes” (the replacement for “souls” in previous series entries). Everything in Bloodborne has the word “blood” in it. It’s charming and gross and silly, like so much of Bloodborne‘s themes. It’s the Uglydolls of video games.
You get these “blood echoes” from killing enemies. Should you die in battle, a blood stain remains on the ground, holding your precious money until you return to that spot. In a messed up twist, sometimes the very enemies you were fighting gank your money. Revenge is a must; not just because it feels good, but because that’s the only way to get your money back. Messed up! But, again, thankfully simple!
Maybe don’t fight the electric beast first thing
Every game in this series, from Demon’s Souls through to Bloodborne, is about understanding and mastery. Mastery isn’t just about knowing the levels and the enemies, but knowing your own character’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing when to fight and when to run. Knowing when not to go into a certain part of the world just as much as knowing when you should.
In the first part of Bloodborne, you’ve got two main pathways to go: toward two different bosses. One is hard, but beatable. The other is nigh impossible in the early stages of character development.
Again, maybe I’m not very good at games.
This is “the hunt.” Bloodborne says you’re a hunter, destroying the beasts that plague Yharnam. A hunter who should know better than to shoot a grizzly with a Derringer.
Instead of pushing me down, Bloodborne forces me to play smarter. And it doesn’t make me feel like a jerk when I don’t. I don’t know if I’m good enough for Bloodborne, but I’m trying to be.
Axiom Verge — a grotesque and intoxicating new action game for PlayStation 4 due out next week — wears its heart on its sleeve. From the aliens wandering its creepy interconnected halls to the variety of unusual tools you find exploring its twisted world, creator Tom Happ’s game explicitly calls back to Nintendo’s Metroid. Rather than lose its identity in an homage mishmash, Axiom Verge actually uses that inspiration to build a demanding game that feels as new as it does eerie. We’ll dig into its deep parts and interview Happ himself on today’s stream!
Starting at 3PM ET on Engadget.com/gaming, Twitch.tv/joystiq and right here in this post, we’ll be playing the first two hours of Axiom Verge for your viewing pleasure. Then creator Tom Happ will join us at 4PM to discuss the game and the thorny business of making a successor to Metroid.
Enjoy the stream? Follow us on Twitch to know when we go live!
[We’re playing a digital copy of Axiom Verge on PS4 streamed through an Elgato Capture HD via OBS at 720p.]
Yes, developers are still rehashing popular last-generation games in an attempt to pad out a thin current-gen catalog — meet God of War III Remastered, a PlayStation 4 overhaul of the classic deity-slaying PS3 title. Sony Santa Monica isn’t being too specific about what’s new, but it’s promising prettier, “silky smooth” 1080p brawling (here’s hoping that means 60 frames per second) and a new photo mode that lets you capture vicious kills or scenic vistas. The PS4 refresh arrives on July 14th in the US, and July 17th in the UK. It won’t make up for the Uncharted 4 delay, but it’ll give you something fun (if not strictly new) to play during the usual summer game drought.
Source: PlayStation Blog