Valve Invades Toy Stores!

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm
By Alexander Bevier

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Valve Software characters are some of the most adored in the industry. From the silent Gordon Freeman and the always-talking Glados, to the Heavy Weapons Guy from Team Fortress 2, these character define modern PC gaming. Now, thanks to the good people at Gaming Heads, you can have Valve toys to play with.

The Heavy is the first character in a line of figures based off of Valve's games. Characters from Half Life 2 and Left 4 Dead are soon to follow, as well as life-sized weapons. That's right, you read that correctly. People may soon be able to buy an actual-sized Portal or Gravity gun.

Pre-orders for The Heavy will be available on May 3rd. So hold on to your wallets, because these toys look nice enough to show off to your mom.

[Review] Splinter Cell: Conviction

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm
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First off, let me apologize for the latest of this review. I don't have a really good excuse - I received my review copy late and I had a hard time scheduling some online sessions, but still could have managed to get this review finished before now. But I think the fact that I dragged my feet a bit on writing about this game is telling in its own way. You see, I'd consider Splinter Cell to be one of my all-time favorite series. I've finished every game in the series (including most of the mobile spin-offs) and been lucky enough to visit the Ubisoft development studios in Montreal and Shanghai, China. I love this series, but I don't love Conviction. Don't get me wrong, I like it - a lot. This will be a largely positive review. But is Conviction the Splinter Cell game that we hardcore fans have been waiting years for? No, it's definitely not.

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[Reader Review] After Burner Climax

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm
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One of our goals at Joystick Division is to create a site with a community. We may not have forums or user blogs or many of the other features that larger gaming sites have, but we still want you to feel like you can interact with us and tell us what you're thinking about. One of our regular readers and commentor "Ben-jamin" took it upon himself to write a review of a game that we hadn't covered and sent it my way. I love the he did so and have reprinted the entire (lightly edited) review below.

I'd love to see more reviews from readers in the future. There's a big difference in the way professional reviewers and average gamers play games, and we value your opinions. If you'd like to contribute your own review, send it to joystickdivision@gmail.com and we'll take a look at it and possibly even post it. You can also interact with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or just hit us up in the comments section. And with that, on with Ben's review!


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Games for Lunch: Halo: Reach beta

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm
Games for Lunch chronicles the first hour of a different game every weekday. Each hour ends with the answer to the only question that matters at that point: Do I want to keep playing? For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions.

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Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: May 3, 2010 (public beta)
System: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: NR

In a nutshell: Getting into it wouldn't be much of a reach.

0:00 The Halo 3 beta was actually my very first game for lunch back in 2007.I haven't exactly become an avid player since then -- give me a Left 4 Dead or a Borderlands any day -- but I'm still interested to see what all the fuss is about.

0:01 A very short introductory trailer shows a Spartan putting on a helmet and some sort of flying vehicle crash-landing amidst a firefight. Then a quick cut to a black screen with blue text. "Welcome to the Beta... the experience you are about to enjoy is a delicious sampler platter of multiplayer modes from Halo: Reach." Delicious! They want honest feedback at bungie.net. I'll provide it here instead.

0:03 I don't have any "credits" yet, so I can't buy any of the cool armor on display in the armory. I can change my service tag to any four-letter combination of letters, numbers and symbols, though. I choose "@_@*" because that's what I expect to look like after sucking it up in this beta.

0:05 I'm playing this at ten in the morning the day after I got my code. This is partly because that's when I finally found the time, but it's partly because I really suck at Halo and didn't want to go up against all the good people with super-early access. Then again, if you're still playing at 10am the next day, you're probably pretty good too.

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Zeno Clash Hits XBLA Next Week

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm
By Alexander Bevier
 
One year ago, Zeno Clash was released upon the world to wondrous-yet-confused acclaim. The game took place in the world of Zenozoik and featured some of the most bizarre character designs gaming has seen on modern technology. The Chilean first-person brawler will be making its debut on Xbox Live Arcade next week under the name Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition.

The Ultimate edition, published by Atlus, will feature a completely overhauled combat system, a new Co-op mode, and a character gallery (so you can see the bizarre characters up close).

Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition will be available on Wednesday, May 5 for 1200 Microsoft Points ($15). 

Hands-On: Halo: Reach Multiplayer Beta

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 10:30 am
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Yesterday I was able to tool around on the Halo: Reach beta with about 4,000 other lucky folks who got the early key. For me, the multiplayer aspect of the Halo games is the most enthralling part, and though I bought ODST when it came out, I thought the new additions to the multiplayer in that entry were largely disappointing. It has been years since I've experienced a fresh Halo match, and I can tell you right off the bat, the experience is different than anything we've seen before.


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Pretension +1 Overlords and Astronauts

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 9:00 am
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I don't see eye-to-eye with my buddy Mike when it comes to videogames. Sure, we like a lot of the same games, but we take different things from them. Mike is a gameplay guy. He admits to skipping story bits when he can. He loves to get wrapped up in the mechanics of games, especially RPGs, and really tinker with the way they work.

I'm fine with those kind activities, but story is what keeps me involved. I turn up the volume when its time for characters to speak -- even when their lines are hackneyed and poorly acted. I get off on exploring new worlds, meeting new people, slipping into a different skin.

And because games can deliver two, seemingly disparate experiences, I'm coming to believe that gamers, too, usually identify with one of two camps. 

If you're into games, you're either an overlord or an astronaut.
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Steam for the Mac Gets a Push

Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 8:32 pm
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​It was previously stated that Steam for the Mac would be coming sometime in April. This is a statement that can now be seen as a malicious and contemptible lie! With only two days left in the month of that godless egg-laying rabbit, Valve has informed us that the Mac release of Steam will be an entire thirteen days late. Okay so maybe it was less of a malicious lie and more of a slightly overly optimistic estimate, but that doesn't sound nearly as good.

May 12th is the new release date, and come that day Apple users everywhere will be able to rock the Half-Life series, Left 4 Dead 2, Counter-Strike, Portal, and of course Team-Fortress 2. Let the new countdown begin!

Get a Great iPhone Game for a Buck [Update]

Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm
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I'd just like to take a moment here to shill for a game that I really enjoyed and think that everyone with an iPhone or an iTouch should check out. Space MIner: Space Ore Bust is now will be on sale on the App Store for the bargain-basement price of $0.99 starting Saturday. You can check out my review of the game here, although much has changed since I first covered it - a recent update has improved the graphics and added new modes and items. If you don't already have it, you now have no excuse not to pick up this excellent little game.

[UPDATE]: I jumped the gun a bit. The sale doesn't start until Saturday.

Bungie Announces Partnership with Activision

Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm
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There's long been speculation about who Bungie would team up with for its first post-Halo game, and now we know. The developer announced today that it has signed a 10-year exclusive partnership with Activision. The full press release is below, but here's the key language about the deal:

"Under the terms of the agreement, Activision will have exclusive, worldwide rights to publish and distribute all future Bungie games based on the new intellectual property on multiple platforms and devices. Bungie remains an independent company and will continue to own their intellectual property."
In short, Bungie remains independent and owns the rights to all their games. The first game that will be produced under the deal is apparently well under way and is multiplatform (which probably means 360, PS3 and PC but not Wii).

Finally, a prediction before moving on to the full press release: Based on the speed at which Bungie has typically worked, I predict that the developer will produce three Activision-published games over the course of the next ten years. I guess we'll see.

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