Let it be clear that this is simply an unboxing and a quick overview of my first impressions of the 3DS. This is NOT a system review. Quite frankly, when I see reviews for a gaming system it makes me feel a little dirty inside. I’ve seen a few members of the gaming press give out scores to handhelds and consoles and I feel like it’s undervaluing what the system is capable of. The system will make a name for itself once the games are released and the library is expanded. So here’s my impressions of the new 3DS.
Love at first sight?
As far as form-factor goes, the 3DS is just as glossy as every other piece of handheld tech out there. The “interior” also comes complete with the shiny finish that’s sure to gather some smears and fingerprints. The clamshell design isn’t a far departure from previous iterations of the DS, but if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. Hardcore and casual gamers have fallen in love with the dual-screen experience that only the DS provides. However, since the dual-screen gameplay is rooted deep within the 3DS’s DNA, it doesn’t really allow the system to be any smaller. That’s just the reality of it. The 3DS is still a small system, but gamers looking for something more compact than the DSLite or DSi may find themselves a little disappointed. But this shouldn’t stop any potential buyers to shy away from the 3DS altogether, it’s still compact enough that it will fit in most pockets. It’s not like Sega’s Game Gear or anything, but people who are use to DSLite or DSi’s occupying the pockets for some time may find their pants a little tighter (lolz). But there’s no denying it’s a sexy piece of hardware.
How bout that glowy thingy that lets me see games?
The top screen is 90mm in diameter and wider than the bottom screen’s 77 mm display. It’s a little strange to open up a DS to see two differently sized screens, but it’s all for the better. The top screen… wait for it… displays games in 3D!!! (insert dance music + fist pump) In all seriousness, the wide display is a great showcase for the system’s stereoscopic selling point. People wondering about the quality of the 3D should cast aside their worries. It’s legitimately good 3D that displays depth in an impressive manner. Not everything punches out at you, games will also allow you to see “into” them. I REALLY hate to say it but, “it has to be seen to be believed”. I wear corrective lenses and I have no issues enjoying the 3D with or without my glasses on. While some games even warned against playing it for long periods of time, I sank a couple straight hours into Super Street Fighter 4 3D without any strain on my eyes or a resulting headache. The bottom screen is basically the two-dimensional touch screen you’ve come to expect on other DS systems.
What about the clackity clacks?
The 3DS has the typical assortment of “Nintendo buttons” that consist of L, R, Y, X, B, and A. Of course there’s the d-pad along with “Select” and “Start”. What’s new is the “Home” button that has been popularized on home consoles. It lets players suspend their game and open up a different program if they choose to. It’ll simply close out the existing game/program and launch the other one with relatively no trouble or lockup. This function itself makes the 3DS feel more like a modern handheld and sure beats restarting the entire unit just to reach the home menu. The analog “stick”/nub/disc sits above the d-pad and feels surprisingly good. There’s a little concave groove you can nestle your thumb into comfortably. It kind of feels like you’re rubbing your thumb on a smooth tablet of Pepto Bismol (weird analogy I know). The button real estate has changed a bit from the DS models of yesteryear. “Start” and “Select” now join the “Home” button right under the bottom touch screen. The power button is no longer a slider, but it’s own independent button that will allows you to put the system in sleep mode or power it off entirely. All the buttons along with the analog nub feel great and give satisfying feedback. They all feel “clicky” instead of “mushy”.
What’s under the hood?
A custom PICA200 processor is the source of the 3DS’s graphical horsepower. The hardware upgrade from the normal line of DS units is far from incremental. Just from playing SSF4, it’s very apparent that there’s more fight in this dog. With promising titles like Kid Icarus, Resident Evil: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D in the pipes, it’s hard not to be impressed. It’s a shame that those games aren’t readily available at launch, but they offer an exciting forecast of the games to come. In terms of audio, the 3DS has two speakers; one on each side of the top screen. Pretty standard, but people may notice it’s a tad quieter than previous DS models. No big deal, I’m splitting hairs purely for the sake of observation. There’s also a camera facing inward that takes pictures as well as two facing outward that takes 3D pictures. The cameras aren’t the greatest quality. They’re simply functional enough to let you mess around and add in your own 3D effects. Wifi functionality will let you go toe-to-toe online with people in your region and across the world. My online experiences thus far have been serviceable and my time online with SSF4 3D was comparable to that of the console versions.
The 3DS’s power of appeal is undeniable. The thought of 3D gaming on a portable system sounds like a mad man’s design, but Nintendo has nudged (pushed?) the gaming industry forward into the age of 3D gaming. The mass market appeal of glasses-free 3D will keep gamers and non-gamers talking. Coupled with a chipset that is powerful enough to run some of the most stunning visuals ever seen on a handheld yet, the 3DS certainly has potential for innovation. While the launch lineup is lacking, there is still room to grow for Nintendo’s new handheld. The new e-shop coming in roughly a month promises to bring classic Gameboy and Gameboy Color games. However, Nintendo’s track record for steadily releasing classic content has been largely shaky. Hopefully they can make amends and really turn it around with the 3DS. Hopefully…
Hopefully with some innovation and a little faith in the hardware, developers can come up with some creative new experiences to appease the nomadic gamer.
Check out Life Culture Geek’s unboxing of the 3DS below!
NOTE: In the video I did say that the 3DS doesn’t have a mic. I’m very mistaken as it DOES have a microphone. I apologize for the misinformation. I ended up trading in Ninja Gaiden for nothing 😦
While the country slept, Japan was struck with a 9.0 earthquake and the resulting tsunami further devastated the country’s coast. The unfathomable devastation has left millions without shelter, warm clothes, food, and clean water. Relief efforts are currently underway to help get the nation back on it’s legs. Many philanthropic entities are raising money and sending whatever aid they can to ease Japan’s recovery. While we may be on the other side of the globe, here are several ways that gamers across the world can use our beloved past time to help our fellow man.
Facebook – People can join groups to stay informed on the relief efforts in Japan. These groups will often have links to charitable foundations that will take donations over your Facebook account. Facebook members who are addicted to Farmville and Car Town can purchase in-game items in which the proceeds go to charitable foundations in Japan. Farmville players will get special crops that are exclusive to those that donate and Car Town players will get a limited-edition Red Cross ambulance for their contributions. Buy virtual cars and plots of land + do good = Win.
Fiesta Online – Those who are into the cult MMORPG Fiesta Online can make a donation of $5 and receive an exclusive in-game pet. Apparently this pet has some “sweet stats”. I’m not too familiar with this game, but if you happen to be a community member of Fiesta Online be sure to pick up this “epic pet” for a good cause.
Nexon – Gamers who enjoy the free-to-play titles such as Combat Arms and Maple Story can purchase various in-game items in which 100% percent of proceeds from sales will go to humanitarian efforts in Japan. As far as I know, Nexon is not offering any exclusive content, but c’mon that $5 magical sword you’ve been eyeballing is bound to buy itself eventually. Plus, those five bucks can go a long way where it’s needed.
Capcom – Capcom has reduced the price of Street Fighter 4 on the App Store to 99¢. All the profits made from the purchase will go to aid those in Japan. If you’ve got an iTouch, iPhone, or iPad this is a small sum that will bring help to those in need. You’ve already blown a ton of money by getting an iPad anyway, what’s another 99¢ you Apple hipster you?
Bungie – Strange how a developer so renown for making games where you mercilessly blow aliens to bits is lending a helping hand. Jokes aside, the folks at Bungie Studios are people too and they’re sending out some pretty cool looking wristbands to those who donate $5. Here’s the link to the donation page:
GameStop – While gamers may cringe at the thought of Gamestop; they’re partnering with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to deliver much needed donations to The Land of the Rising Sun. A link for donations can be found here:
While these are only a handful of ways gamers can donate, non-gamers (or just about anybody) can of course still text REDCROSS at 90999 to donate $10 that will help efforts in Japan. The calamity that has befallen Japan has certainly saddened the nation. And that’s a severe understatement, but with the world’s collective effort and charity we can help our fellow man and participate in rebuilding a beautiful and humble country. Times are tough and some of us may not have the money to donate; but we can at the very least keep Japan in our prayers. I sincerely appreciate your time.
The crafty guys and gals at Eidos Interactive are giving us a glimpse of what to expect from the upcoming Deus Ex: Human Revolution. They’re continuing the franchise’s signature melting pot of social interaction, stealth, and gunplay. To further entice us, publisher Square Enix (yep, THAT Square Enix) and Eidos have put together an impressive gameplay video that shows off the game’s multi-approach design. The demo is played out in stealthy fashion and then aggressively to emphasize the differences in the open-ended gameplay. It’s rather astounding as later on in the demo, the player avoids confrontation altogether as he/she takes a more passive route to achieve their objective. No muss, no fuss.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is set to be released in late summer on August 23rd and 26th in North America and Europe respectively. It will be available on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
The original Batman: Arkham Asylum was a surprise hit when it was released in 2009. It defied normal conventions of what a licensed game could be. It took players through a rich, story-driven adventure that had fans aching for Rocksteady’s excellent marriage of stealth and action.
Rocksteady Studios snuck out a new gameplay trailer for their upcoming sequel; Batman: Arkham City. If you decide to wet your pants, now would be a good time. The talented crew at Rocksteady has greatly expanded the real estate you’ll be navigating in. The dark and dingy cityscape is there for you to explore and dish out justice however you see fit. This allows for countless approaches to your objectives and prey.
The smooth as butter combat is back and better than ever. It’ll allow Batman to dispatch multiple foes silently and brutally. The newfound verticality will also let Batman take on foes from the air and vanish as quickly as he came. Rocksteady is still maintaining the crucial stealth aspect that made the first so great, however players can still get scrappy with thugs if they’re so inclined.
Returning characters like the iconic Joker and Harley Quinn will be returning to reprise their demented roles. Arkham City will also see some of Gotham’s other villains like the Riddler, Hugo Strange, Two-face, and Catwoman. It’s a very well rounded cast that is sure to please the hardest of the hardcore DC fans.
Batman: Arkham City is set to be released on the October 18th on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Check out the new gameplay trailer below courtesy of IGN.
Gaming as a past time has long since removed itself from “nerdom” status. I remembered when I was younger I never would’ve been as vocal about my gaming habits as I am now. Which is ironic right? How is it that this full-grown man is much more inclined to discuss his geeky passion for video games moreso than he would’ve in years past? To put it simply and ambiguously; video games have become something else.
When the game industry was in it’s infancy most games consisted of jumping gaps and running through a level until you’ve essentially crossed a finish line. The extent of story-telling in those early games was text, usually revolving around saving a princess or the world. While there is still some of that today, video games are doing a much better job of conveying a more human experience. The hardware available to developers today allow for uncanny levels of realism. Graphics and storytelling are now evoking emotion that is normally found in filmmaking or novels.
What is it about a video game character that makes them so compelling? Well, the character on-screen is dictated by the person at the controls. This control in concept NOT the actual controller, is the key to immersing players in every game. This character embodies the will of the player at the controls. Players can be the athlete they’ve always wanted to be, lead a life of heroics or villainy, or simply do whatever and go wherever they want. Gaming allows us to do things we’re not normally capable of doing and allows us to do it with ease. Empowerment is what separates gaming from movies and novels. It is very divisive tool in the gaming industry that elevates games beyond mere entertainment and allows it to become an experience.
Of course not all games are dramatic reality-bending excursions. Video games can be simply that; games. While there are people who may profess to never playing video games, they might not recognize that they’ve probably already done so without knowing it. Millions upon millions of people are addicted to Farmville and other Facebook games. Many people dive into a couple games of Tetris or Blackjack on their phones while waiting for the bus and your English professor likely plays Angry Birds while grading papers. Games are all around us and EVERYONE plays them. It is a means of entertainment that draws us away from the everyday and places us somewhere else – even if only for a bit.
Since life is based on repetition it’s easy for us to become jaded. We all have school and/or work alongside a healthy dose of worries that reminds us we’re all mortal and fragile. To escape the tropes of life people may take small steps like reading a book or going outside to exercise. The supremely weary will go as far as to drastically change their surroundings with a vacation. All of that is fine, but the problem is that you’re still YOU. I don’t mean to sound disingenuous, there’s nothing wrong with being who you are (because everybody loves you); it’s just that you’re still stuck in reality. Our means of escapism is relegated to this pseudo-bubble that constantly reminds us that we’re Homo sapiens. Video games let us transcend that barrier and allows us to be genuinely enchanted in something. It’s no different than daydreaming, like when you’re constantly thinking about what it’s like to be a millionaire or if you could fly. Video games encourage us to explore distant worlds and shape things to how we see fit. It’s simultaneously wondrous and terrifying; which is why it’s so great.
If the world warrants American Idol and Jersey Shore as a means of entertainment, then let us geeks have our video games. If fans of the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter movies are showing up to midnight premiers dressed as their favorite characters and watching the movie in their Snuggies; let me chug my Red Bull while I wait in line for a next-gen system. If you want to go on Facebook and see who’s broken up, read your friends’ status updates, and play Farmville, so be it; gamers will be okay with “shootin’ the shit” while blasting away zombies. To each their own of course. We at LCG have an endless passion for all things digitized, pixelated, and polygonal. To call gaming “nerdy” or a “waste of time” is a severe understatement. With the same amount of effort, you can either take yourself on an unforgettable journey or you can sit there and watch drunk chicks from Jersey in between commercial breaks.
This is why we game.
When Dice initially released a trailer for their upcoming shooter Battlefield 3; it teased a few impressive looking gameplay moments. They’ve recently put out extended cut that really shows off the horsepower of the Frostbite 2.0 engine.
The gameplay that was featured was obviously running off a PC (note the “WASD” keys during the interactive cutscene). It demonstrated the advancements made in Dice’s proprietary engine. It displayed some realistic looking particle and smoke effects. Of course the attention to detail on the soldiers and how they behave are just as jaw-dropping. Dice has also overhauled the lighting to give the environments some life. It’s a pretty surreal transition going from indoors to outdoors, as light-bloom effects force your eyes to adjust.
It’s pretty much been confirmed that Battlefield 3 will look godly on a PC that can handle it’s assumedly high-end specs. How it will look and handle on consoles remains to be seen. Battlefield 3 will be released this Fall on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Check out the explosive extended trailer below.
Sony’s flagship FPS is touching down on the PS3 for a second time and boy is it a looker. Killzone 3 is continuing the franchise’s tradition of high-caliber weaponry and testosterone-fueled interplanetary drama. This time Sev and the ISA forces are on the move to escape the Helghast homeworld after killing the Helghan leader, Visari. As you can imagine, the remainder of the Helghast forces aren’t too happy and are on a planet-wide hunt for the ISA.
While the premise of the story is fairly straightforward, it doesn’t do a good job of presenting it. You really don’t care too much for the protagonist you play as. Sev and Rico are simply two dimensional military meat heads. They’re not bad characters persae, they’re just in place to be badasses and perpetuate the drama. Malcom McDowell steals the show with his role as General Stahl and James Remar did passable voice work as Captain Narville.
The Killzone 3 timeline jumps back and forth so often that you never really get a sense of how much time actually passed. At the very beginning of the game, there’s a moment where you’re treated to a cutscene where particular members of the ISA are in a bind. Right when things start to escalate the story jumps to another shot in a completely different setting with the words “Six Months Earlier” at the bottom of the screen. Just as soon as my confusion set in, bullets were flying and explosions were going off all around me. There’s a bit of tedium before the action kicks into full gear, but when it does you’ll be reminded quickly as to why you play Killzone games in the first place (on the PS3 at least).
The Killzone series is known for it’s iconic heft. Love it or hate it; it remains intact to greater effect. Every action in the game is very deliberate in making the player feel like they’ve assumed the role of a ground-pounding trooper. Weapons have an immense sense of firepower and weight. Actions like tossing a grenade or reloading are appropriately jolting. It may sound strange on paper, but it’s something that is better understood when seen. The controls now have you toggling in and out of cover rather than holding down a button to stay in it. This allows players to easily ADS without overhauling the control scheme like in KZ2. Largely the control schemes are limited to the default and a very CoD-esque layout. Each one is excellent in their own right and get the job done.
Guerilla didn’t pull any punches when it came to giving players an excuse to blast away science fiction’s version of a Nazi. While the Helghast may not be too original, they certainly have personality. The enemy is well coordinated pack that will work together to constantly out-flank you. They’ll lay down some fire or throw some grenades at you, while others move in for the kill. The feeling is indescribable when a crimson-eyed commando runs up and unloads on you while you’re exchanging bullets with another group. You’ll be gunning down humanoid enemies for a large portion of the campaign. It’s a good thing that the foes are so intelligent; since it makes encounters with the Helghast all the more engaging. The Helghast are well animated and will appropriately recoil when shot. The impressive hit detection contributes to a large part of the realism. If you cap one in the legs he’ll stumble and limp, if you unload an entire clip into his torso he’ll writhe and scream as each individual round impacts his body differently. There’s a strange morbid sense of satisfaction when you put down a soldier in KZ3 that you don’t get in other shooters.
A brutal melee mechanic now brings you closer to the action. When you’re in close enough proximity to a Helghast soldier a button prompt will appear that allows for some dynamic melee moves. It’s contextual depending on where you are. If you remain unseen and behind the enemy, you’ll just get a silent throat slit. If the enemy is behind cover, the player may punch or kick him up against sandbags and stab him. It’s all very gruesome and never gets old. The downside is that you’re completely open to fire when you have a knife in a space Nazi’s throat. But try and tell me it’s not worth getting shot at to jam your thumbs into someone’s eye sockets. The melee mechanic is a welcome new addition that makes the already intense firefights much more intimate.
Killzone 3’s campaign does an excellent job of giving players new things to do in a variety of different locales. One moment you’ll be linking up with remnants of the ISA forces for some house-to-house urban combat, the next you’ll be punching up a highway as Helghast forces try to prevent you from evacuating the planet. While all the objectives underline every FPS cliche (blow up this AA gun/plant explosives on this wall/follow this guy, stab that guy), Guerilla did a great job of varying them so it doesn’t make you feel like you’ve done the same thing twice. For a game that’s simply about shooting dudes; Guerilla succeeded in setting up encounters so they feel appropriately epic. Inevitably, players will find themselves on the front lines in variety of environments. KZ3 features some of the most intense and populated battlefields in videogames today. Every time the game brings you into a new locale, you can be guaranteed that you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with fellow ISA troops.
The setpieces are truly something to behold. It feels like your contributions during a firefight are only a small part of a bigger picture. Many of the game’s battlefields are genuinely intimidating when you first come across them. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the enemy’s numbers and the sheer scale of the battle at hand. The skyline is dotted with dropships, sentry bots are flying around chopping down your fellow comrades, the ever-advancing Helghast are shouting obscenities and shooting at you from the other side of the battlefield. Sensory overload is an understatement, especially later on when you work with other squads to take down a towering mech that occupies the ENTIRE view of the sky.
The environments that KZ3 place you in are as sporadic as the story’s timeline. You’ll be running through the obligatory crumbling urban warzone, sneaking through a strangely lit neon jungle, and trekking across Hoth-like tundras. While the game made up poor reasons to visit these places, I appreciated the variance they came in. Not only are they easy on the eyes, but they carry the story through it’s paces. Although the story isn’t cohesive by any stretch, it merely serves as a conduit to let players jump into a mech or blast away in scripted on-rails sequences every once in awhile. On too many occasions the cutscenes write a blank check that attempts to excuse a turret sequence or a change in scenery.
I would suddenly find myself thrust into a vehicle sequence or manning a gun when only moments before I was on foot shooting bad guys in the thick of it. It’s a shame since KZ3’s base gunplay is so engaging; being repeatedly forced to view the action from behind a stationary gun makes the experience feel more like a shooting gallery at times. I understand a developer’s need to put in turret sequences to break up the action and allow the experience to be mindless for a few moments; but the amount of time spent on-rails is more than I would have liked. It seemed like where Guerilla didn’t know how to smoothly transition story elements and action setpieces together, so they simply glue-gunned in a turret sequence. I won’t spoil much of the game’s ending but; the final moments of Killzone 3 = on-rails turret sequence. Anti-climactic; but many fans will find themselves content with the ending.
The campaign is fairly lengthy, clocking in between 8 – 10 hours on the “Normal” difficulty. It may not sound like alot to some people, but most shooters tend to clock in at around 6 hours these days. Bare in mind that the final playtime is always relative to a person’s skill and what difficulty they’re playing on, so your mileage may vary. You can also run through the campaign with a buddy via split-screen co-op. KZ3 with a friend is an absolute joy to play. There’s a strong sense of accomplishment when you work together to take out entrenched enemies and fortified positions, especially on higher difficulty levels. Unfortunately there is no online co-op. Hopefully this can be remedied with a patch. But if it’s online gameplay that you’re looking for KZ3 has that in spades.
Killzone 3 follows the obligatory ranking progression that was made popular by the Call of Duty franchise. Players will gain XP by killing other players or by completing objectives. There are five classes that players can choose from; marksman, engineer, field medic, tactician, and infiltrator. Each one plays a vital role in a team’s success and will yield immense amounts of XP if they utilize their specialties. Field medics can (you ready?) revive and heal other squadmates while engineers can repair sentry guns and ammo dumps. They all operate differently so it’s a manner of finding the best play style suited for you. There’s nothing quite like playing as the infiltrator; running into enemy territory and disguising yourself as the opposing force only to sink a knife into their backs when they least suspect it.
There are three main modes of play in KZ3’s multiplayer. Warzone has your team rushing around the map completing objectives against the other team. This mode offers alot of variety and chaos as objectives are constantly changing on the fly. Guerilla Warfare needs little explanation since it’s basically team deathmatch. Operations is an attack/defend objective-based mode. The attacking team will have to set charges or retrieve items to foward the team’s progress. The defending team would have to stop them at any cost before the timer runs down. It’s a neat mode that adds a little narrative to the multiplayer by placing players into cutscenes between objectives and at the end of the match. Players will accrue points that will allow them to access better weapons and equipment. You can either upgrade a class you prefer to stick with or ones that you don’t even play as. Dedicated players will find themselves occupied with the rich multiplayer long after beating the campaign. It ships with 8 maps (an additional 2 if you pre-ordered) and supports up to 24 players.
Unfortunately, we at LCG don’t have a 3D television to test KZ3’s 3D capabilities on. So judgments about the quality of the 3D is withheld for this review. The Playstation Move is supported here but I found myself switching back to the Dualshock after getting shot in the face one too many times. It’s functional, but not responsive. Overall, Killzone 3 is a solid package with alot to offer. The graphical powerhouse that is the PS3 is on display here. The single-player campaign isn’t the most cerebral, but it is undeniably exciting and has some memorable moments you’ll want go back and revisit. Split-screen co-op is a welcome addition as well as the mountainous multiplayer suite that is sure to please shooter fans of all types. Hours upon hours of quality content are just asking to be devoured. Call out of work and put your phone on silent, Killzone 3 is here to suck up your time.
And you know what? You’ll let it.
+ Best looking game on any platform yet
+ Campaign is intense and fairly lengthy
+ Split-screen co-op is an absolute joy
+ Multiplayer will have you coming back again and again
– Weak story
– Excessive amounts of turret sequences
– No online co-op
– No split-screen online