Classic Sonic Returns, Gears 3 Beta Is Opened, And Portal 2 Gets Its Release

Now that the summer is here, the gaming world is really starting to pick up the pace; in the last day or two we have heard a big announcement from Sega about their next project, a beta opened for what will be one of the more popular titles of the year, the release of the first ‘AAA’ game of the year, and more rumours about Nintendo’s new console…

So then, lets start off by looking at Sega. In order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sonic The Hedgehog, they have announced a new title, to be called Sonic Generations: and the major selling point is that CLASSIC SONIC IS BACK!!! Yep, pot belly, button nose and everything. The main plot of the story is that an unnamed villain has opened up rifts in time or something stupid, meaning that Classic Sonic and New Sonic have to team up to defeat him. What is interesting is the gameplay that has been revealed; the game will feature old school 2D offerings for Classic Sonic with a basic moveset (directions, jumping and spin dashing), while offering 3D inventions of the same stages for new Sonic to combo and dash through. All the stages will be taken straight from Sonics 20 year history, with the only one revealed at the moment being the iconic Green Hill Zone. The trailer for the game looks brilliant; Classic Sonics 2D run through the graphically improved zone looks much more…well, classic, than it did in the poorly received Sonic 4 Episode 1, and New Sonics breakneck speed run through a 3D environment will no doubt please modern fans of the series. No word has been given yet on whether other characters from the series, such as Tails, Knuckles and Shadow, will receive a similar treatment.

The question now of course is, will it be any good? Fans will be more than aware of the ‘Sonic Cycle’ which has prevailed in the series since the late Dreamcast days, and the last game made to celebrate an anniversary, the 2006 title Sonic The Hedgehog, is regarded as one of the worst games of the last decade. Sega seem to be on a bit of a roll now though; Sonic Colours was well received on the Wii last year, and Team Sonic will be looking to pull out all the stops to return the mascot to his former glory. It will be a case of ‘watch this space’ for the moment I reckon, and see if the cycle takes hold again.

Sonics worst enemy is not Eggman...its internet speculation

The second piece of news concerns those who picked up the Epic edition of Bulletstorm; the beta for Gears Of War 3 is now open. It has been open to journalists and testers for a short while, but now the public can get their hands on it. This afternoon I managed to get a small bit of game time on the beta. Initial impressions are mixed. First of all, I’m pleased with the way matches are now set up; whereas in Gears 2 It could be quite a long drawn affair, the beta has thus far offered a smooth multiplayer experience. Epic have also stolen some of the aspects that have made Call Of Duty so popular for its ranking system. You get basic XP for kills, finishing matches and the like, but there are now hundreds of little objectives that can be completed for bonus XP, such as getting 25 perfect active reloads and avoiding death in a round. Should this be implemented into the main game, grinding through XP levels should be less of a chore. The actual beta is a pretty thing to behold as well. Well, pretty in terms of there are pools of blood and brutal executions on show everywhere. One execution we witnessed was a Locust ripping our arm off and beating us to death with it. Nice.

However, I found it to be a bloody tough game to get in to. Aiming is now a much more erratic affair with less accurate crosshairs, and it seems to take too many bullets to down a person, never mind kill them. I can perhaps attribute this to my lack of time with the beta, but it seemed a much harder process than it did in Gears 2. If you are looking for a more in depth look at the beta, I would recommend looking around for gameplay diaries, and it will be interesting to see what people make of it in the weeks to come as more stuff is tested.

Puzzle lovers rejoice! This week also marks the widespread release of the much anticipated Portal 2, the sequel to the smash hit Portal from 2007. Featuring an enlarged story, more characters and a multiplayer mode, it has received some massive scores from reviewers who have praised the new challenges and the voice work, which now includes Stephen Merchant (from The Office and Extras) and J.K Simmons (J Jonah Jameson from the Spiderman films. Insert ‘Get me pictures of GLaDOS!!!’ jokes here). If the account of one my fellow reviewers from Gamepad is to be believed however, Portal 2 is another very short game though: he got it this morning and was done by mid-afternoon. If I manage to get my hands on a copy, I’ll post a review in the near future.

Finally, a few rumours about the new Nintendo console for you, this time regarding the controller. It has been stated by 01net, a French gaming site, that the new controller will have a six-inch HD touchscreen built into it, with a front facing camera, bumpers and triggers as well as face buttons and a d-pad, and will be able to be used as a Wii sensor bar. That’s a lot to fit into one controller, and it raises two massive points: number one, how big is the thing going to be, and number two how much will it cost? I wouldn’t be surprised about the inclusion of a touchscreen; Nintendo have this dynamic pretty much nailed with the DS and 3DS, but again this is all smoke and mirrors at the moment. We will have to wait until E3 for definitive proof.

And so now you are up to date with everything. Check out my recent posts for more reviews, news and features, and I’ll be back soon.

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