We get our Nostradamus on in a preview edition this week in gaming.
SOCOM 4 (PS3)
Set in a fictitious Asian country, Zipper Interactive’s SOCOM 4 sees you take control of the Ops Commander of a NATO Special Forces squad trying to dismantle the (also fictional) Naga Revolutionaries. Immediately, the game is recognizable as a SOCOM entry with its third-persontactical shooter gameplay and team control of both blue and yellow squads. Besides a new adventure in the SOCOM universe, the fourth iteration brings two Sony-centric advances to the game: 3D and PSMove Sharpshooter control options. The latter felt like a big step forward for motion controlling a shooter, even over Killzone 3, which also use the Sharpshooter peripheral in a satisfying way. The 3D in the game also seems like an improvement over recent titles, and we credit Sony facilitating the sharing of 3D tech in an unusually open way. Individually, these two aspects make the game feel a bit deeper but combining the two kicks up the game’s interactivity in a great way—so don’t be surprised if you find yourself screaming orders at your friends to jump into a freshly made couch fort. Luckily, you’ll realize that shouting commands is unnecessary. For one, the game doesn’t utilize voice recognition for controlling teams anymore, so those frustrating moments where a confused command sends your allies to their doom are a thing of the past. Secondly, your allies are controlled by one of the smartest AIs we’ve seen in gaming (Jeopardy doesn’t count, Watson) so a button-press won’t just send them to a spot in the level but will have them locking it down, giving you cover fire, and tearing up the enemy if you’re not fast enough as the triggerman.
SOCOM 4 comes out Tuesday, April 19. Until then we’ll be pacing the Maxim office with our Sharpshooter shouldered, chanting:
This is our rifle
This is our gun
This is for fighting
This is for…crap—what rhymes with “gun?”
Virtua Tennis 4 (Xbox, PS3, Wii)
Sega’s answer to 2K Sports’ Top Spin Tennis is just on the horizon. We went hands on with Virtua Tennis to get an impression of what to expect from the “other” tennis game gracing our consoles this year. The game, Sega’s first entry since 2006, ramped up the technique factor in order to compete with Top Spin’s intricate control system. Though the amount of players to choose from isn’t as robust as its competitor, the average tennis fan will have no problem picking a recognizable and competent player’s shoes to fill. Of course, there is also World Tour mode where you can create your own player and hold his hand as you cross the globe, tearing up competition and making a name for yourself. Gameplay is intricate but remains accessible in a way that any fan of Virtua Tenniswould expect. On a traditional controller, just about anybody can pick up the game and jump right into a decent volley with the AI. As the demo took place at the Sony Style Store in NYC, we only got to check out Sony’s motion-control offerings and the game fared exceptionally well. As we tire of the excellent Ping-Pong game within PSMove’s Sports Champion, we’re warming up our tennis elbows in anticipation of Virtua Tennis 4’s sweet, sweet Move implementation. More about timing and racket-angle and less about running around the court, the camera swings around your player for an in-your-face rawness that isn’t found anywhere else in the world of tennis games. Though the game will also support Kinect and Wii-motes, our rep implied that the PSMove’s one to one motion tracking (and, in our opinion, the fact that you’re holding a physical controller) makes this title advantage: Sony.
Virtua Tennis 4 starts service May 10.
Infamous 2 (PS3)
The highly anticipated sequel to Infamous should already be on shelves. Delays are usually a worrisome aspect of a game’s launch, but rest easy. The extra time is only helping make this sequel worthy of its awesome predecessor. Infamous 2 opens with series protagonist Cole getting bitch-slapped—even with all of his powers from the original game intact—by the villainous Beast. This theme of everything that came before, just bigger, runs throughout the game. Levels are more varied: cities are taller, landscapes are more sprawling, and forts are more fortified. Though Cole ischarged up from the word go, there’s still room for growth, and Sucker Punch Productions has gone lengths to maximize the power-ups while still increasing difficulty. The combat system has also been revamped to quell complaints about the original’s biggest drawback. Fighting is now fluid, fun, and it’s as easy to opt for some hand-to-hand action as it is to Taze enemies from a distance. After getting a good fill of what’s shiny and new in Infamous 2, we were astounded to find that the levels we’d seen were all from the first third of the game, all leading up to a crossroads that would set Cole on divergent paths and change the outcome of the game depending on your choice. Finally, we were able to see the game in glorious 3D and where we were onlysort of impressed with the 3D gameplay, the story-progressing cut scenes were well done and made us appreciate the inclusion of 3D in this title. Not to spoil anything, but there’s just something special about seeing boobs in 3D, CGI’d or otherwise.
Infamous 2 electrifies shelves June 7.
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