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Assassin’s Creed IV will fly the flag for the Golden Age of Piracy

It’s not much of a leap to link pirates with the Assassins, and this trailer does so rather straightforwardly. Disenchantment with order, devotion to freedom (and debauchery), and a certain predilection for pointed objects – they’re all present and accounted for. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will apparently show us the “true story” of the pirates, “rough and unvarnished”. (The story, that is, not the pirates. You can’t varnish a pi- well, I wouldn’t want to be the one to try it, anyway.)

If you’re detecting a certain lack of excitement in these quarters, you’d be right. As a longtime Assassin’s Creed fan, I just can’t bring myself to get too worked up about this installment. After the agony and the ecstasy (mostly agony, though) of Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft’s next game really needed to sing a redemption song to get the franchise back on track. Instead, what we’re getting is another one-year-later sequel; but what’s worse is that it’s got a ‘IV’ tacked on to the end. Is Black Flag really going to be the bold next step for the franchise? When you consider that Brotherhood, ground-breaking in so many ways, didn’t get that honour, you have to wonder. I loved the naval combat in Assassin’s Creed III, but I don’t think that doubling down on one of the shining lights in an otherwise broken game is the way forward for Assassin’s Creed. Hopefully, Ubisoft and Edward Kenway will prove me wrong when Black Flag launches on October 29th.

The Dark Knight returns in 2013 with Batman: Arkham Origins

Game Informer’s May cover story has been revealed to be Batman: Arkham Origins. The official announcement says:

As the title suggests, the game takes place years before both of the previous Arkham titles when a young, unrefined Batman encounters many supervillains for the first time. On our full cover image below, fans will recognize the assassin Deathstroke, who appears for the very first time in a core Arkham game.

Here’s what we know:

  1. Rocksteady Studios isn’t making Arkham Origins (!) – Warner Bros. Games Montreal will be taking the reins on this one.
  2. Eight of the world’s foremost assassins have come to Gotham City on Christmas Eve for caroling to kill the Bat (and then maybe caroling).
  3. Arkham Origins will be the first Arkham game to actually take place on the streets of Gotham (as mentioned in the developer video I’ve embedded after the break).
  4. Batman: Arkham Origins will release on October 25th for the Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

There’s a lot to talk about here. No Rocksteady, and no Paul Dini? That’s worrying enough, but when you consider that the man tasked with “heading up the vision for Arkham Origins” is Eric Holmes, best known for “being the lead designer of open world action hits The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and Prototype” – that, right there, is when I started to worry. Still, as long as they don’t deviate too much from the foundation that Rocksteady’s laid down, we’ll get a good game.

Another sour note rings out, however – Mark Hamill’s stated that he’s done voicing the Joker, which leaves two possibilities. We’ll either be getting a prequel Arkham game with a ‘young, unrefined’ Batman that will not feature the Clown Prince; or, somebody new will step into Hamill’s cavernous shoes. Neither of those prospects is terribly appealing. Still, Deathstroke could be an extremely capable Big Bad if given the right treatment, and he’s been sorely under-used so far.

Personally, I’m finding the lack of any mention of next-gen platforms to be rather interesting. Of course, they could be saving that for a later announcement – maybe sometime next month? – but it does leave the door open for a Rocksteady-made Arkham City sequel for next-gen consoles, which would be…eggcellent.

Of course, we then run the risk of Bat-saturation (baturation?) but that’s chance I’m willing to take.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag will shiver your timbers October 29th

Well, well, well. Just days after the existence of Assassin’s Creed IV was confirmed – and with two days still to go until Ubisoft’s official “reveal” on the 4th – the above trailer’s been leaked, courtesy of GamesRadar. While the original video has since been pulled from YouTube, we can safely assume that October 29th will see the fourth major entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, just a year after Assassin’s Creed III.

Black Flag stars Edward Kenway, father of Assassin’s Creed III’s charming ne’er-do-well Haytham Kenway. As such, it will almost certainly be a prequel; and, judging by the trailer, naval battles (my favourite part of Connor’s journey) look set to play a prominent role. So far, so good; even if so far, so little in terms of gameplay. It undoubtedly looks pretty enough, a worthy successor to this, this and this.

His official Wiki entry confirms that Edward was an Assassin, an ‘occasional pirate’ (gotta love those New World hobbyists!) and, most importantly, an ancestor of Desmond Miles. Also, in a first for the Assassin’s Creed series, he’s blonde! Who said Ubisoft can’t innovate, eh? (His golden tresses certainly seem to have impressed Blackbeard, given how effusive the bloodthirsty buccaneer’s being with his praise.)

We’ll know more when Black Flag is officially announced on Monday. For a look at the box art and a spoiler-filled analysis on what all of this could mean, man, click on past the break.

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No need to worry, Aliens: Colonial Marines brought enough testosterone for everyone

When the lead writer for a game hastily distances himself from a promotional trailer, it’s almost certain that it might not be in the game’s best interests. After watching the eloquently named ‘Kick Ass’ trailer, it’s also clear that whoever wrote that voiceover subscribes to the Samuel L. Jackson school of narrative (it’s the one that says ‘bad motherf*****’ on it). This may yet be intentional parody – for the game’s sake, I certainly hope so, because what we’ve seen so far looks pretty good indeed.

Spike Video Game Awards 2012 – and the winners are…

There’s always a certain amount of skepticism about the Spike VGAs, as there will be about any gaming awards that try to blend recognition with as much spectacle as this. And I don’t think anybody besides Spike themselves would disagree that the world would be a better place with fewer celebrities pretending to be obsessed with games. (It’s just awkward for everyone, really.)

I’ve been skeptical myself, but not this year. Why?

Because The Walking Dead won Game of the Year.

Once you recover from your shock/happiness, click on past the break for the full list of winners. Trust me, you’ll want to.

 

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Not sure if Aliens: Colonial Marines or Left 4 Xenomorphs

Your mileage may vary, but my immediate response to the above trailer for Aliens: Colonial Marines was a heartfelt ‘D’oh!’. Why? Well, the trailer – which focuses on the upcoming release’s Escape multiplayer mode – bears more than a passing resemblance to the Survivors vs. Infected gameplay found in Left 4 Dead‘s Versus games. And once you make that connection, it’s a forehead-slapping-worthy moment when you realize just how well that type of gameplay would work in the Aliens universe. Heck, so many missions in the earlier games used to end like this anyway; the difference being that this time there’ll be other players dropping on you from the ceiling or bursting out of the walls. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good Saturday night. (They’re alright for fightin’, don’t you know?)

This must be how the guy who accidentally mixed peanut butter and jelly together for the first time felt. Or bacon and…well, anything, really.

Darksiders 2 trailer is a study in self-awareness

Given that the character you’ll play in Darksiders 2 is Death himself, it’s safe to assume that there will be some dyin’. In the above video, Lead Combat Designer Ben Cureton explains how you can make yourself happen to your enemies (whether singly, multiple or boss-like) in a myriad of ways.

Thanks to the good folks over at  e-xpress Interactive Software, a copy of Darksiders 2 should be winging its way towards me as I type. Time, weather and apocalypse permitting, my review of the same will be up shortly. Watch this space!

Snoop Dogg is in Tekken Tournament 2, did you know his first name was Calvin?

One day, Snoop Dogg woke up and decided that he wanted to be in a videogame. (It’s possible that he was inspired by this video, but we may never know.) And because he is Snoop Dogg, it was done. The game  in question? Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Now, while most celebrities would be content with a cameo appearance as a fighter, Mr. Dogg is not most celebrities. As the above trailer showcases, El Perro Grande will be the centrepiece of an entire stage in the September release. He will, of course, be accompanied by the requisite bevy of gardening implements – as any self-respecting rapper would – and has also composed an original theme for the stage’s background music. This is not the first time the worlds of music and gaming have intersected – we’ve had good, bad and ugly. Full press release after the break.

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Assassin’s Creed III reminds us that today, they celebrate their independence day

Given that Assassin’s Creed III deals with the period of chaos surrounding the creation of the United States of America, it would have been practically treasonous to not have a trailer out on the 4th of July. ‘Independence’, that shiny bundle of patriotism up there, manages to do what every other trailer for Assassin’s Creed III has done till date – i.e., make October 31st seem even further away.

So, the good news is that there’s a new Aliens: Colonial Marines trailer…

It’s called ‘Suspense’, and, as you can see for yourself, it’s pretty good. Good enough to take your mind off the fact that it’s been delayed until February 2013? Sega thinks so.

I have to say, the beginning of this trailer really gave me hope. To this day, Aliens vs Predator 2 holds a special place in my heart for the way it mercilessly shredded my nerves throughout the Marine campaign; and, if I’m honest, no game since has really matched up. This, though – if it can maintain the…well, suspense of those opening shots – it might just usher in a whole new series of sleepless nights.

Full press release after the break.

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