Video Games Plus is a weekly update on all things gaming. Check it out every other Thursday.
Master Chief may not talk but soon you’ll be able to speak to Master Chief in Halo games. Voice commands via Kinect are coming to Halo this fall, but that's just the beginning of all the gaming goodness we have for you in this edition of Video Games Plus. We also have details on a new multiplayer mode in Mass Effect 3, a way to save money on Uncharted 3 and we review Dead Rising 2: Off The Record.
Halo Gets Kinected
In case you’re worried that the rerelease of the first Halo this fall will be a straight-up port of the original -- slapped with a new coat of paint -- Microsoft showed off a few new tricks it has up its sleeve at New York Comic-Con last weekend. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary will be compatible with Kinect and a couple of different functions were on display including:
Learning about a game’s world is usually a passive experience, but Master Chief will be the world’s coolest librarian in Halo Anniversary. When you come upon an item of interest like a vehicle, weapons or different types of enemies, you’ll switch to Analyze Mode, point the reticle at it and say the word “scan” into the Kinect microphone. The item will then pop up in the Library, an interactive encyclopedia of Halo lore and background information that can be explored through the use of gesture controls.
In case you are too lazy to hit certain buttons or get some of them mixed up, you can also use voice commands with Kinect to reload weapons, toss grenades, switch between classic and remastered graphics and more.
In addition, Halo Waypoint will be getting a new interface and will be able to be accessed from your Xbox 360 or Windows Phone. With a Windows Phone, gamers can download a Halo Waypoint ATLAS (Advanced Tactical Assault System) app, which will allow them to see a constantly updating map of either Halo: Anniversary or Halo: Reach, meaning you can track your teammates during gameplay in real time. But no, sorry, the technology won’t also work to let you track your boss or teachers on your phone.
Multiplayer Comes To Mass Effect 3
The Mass Effect series has remained a solo experience thus far, but you’re going to want to bring a friend or two for Mass Effect 3. That’s because Bioware has recently unveiled a brand new multiplayer cooperative mode that will make life in space a little less lonely.
Don’t expect a Call of Duty-like deathmatch experience, however. Instead, there will be a four-player wave-based survival mode that recalls Horde Mode in the Gears of War series. But while “Gears” lets you play as the game’s main cast of characters in Horde mode, Commander Shepard and crew will be on the shelf. You’ll be creating your own character specifically for the mode and picking humans or just about every alien race in the game, including Krogans, Turians or Asari -- each with their own special abilities. You’ll also be able to customize your gender, class, and weapons loadouts.
We got some hands-on time with the four-player co-op mode, and we can tell you that so far it plays much like other action-shooters with horde-type modes. There is a bit more strategy, however, because of the paper-rock-scissors way that you must switch weapons to effectively attack enemies that have different types of shields.
One interesting aspect of the multiplayer is that you’ll be able to use it to gain “War Assets” to help you get the best possible ending in the single-player campaign. It’s totally optional, says the game’s developers, but you can raise your “Galactic Readiness” level, which aids you in the final battle against the Reapers, by playing co-op. Players can increase their Galactic Readiness level in other ways using the game’s Galaxy At War system, but BioWare has yet to reveal how. Stay tuned for more.
Sony Offers Uncharted DLC Subscription
Many major titles are now asking gamers to buy a package of their future downloadable content upfront, so it’s not surprising that Sony and Naughty Dog are opting to do the same with Uncharted 3.
It’s being marketing as the Fortune Hunters’ Club and it’s available now for preorder on the PlayStation Store. It retails for $24.99, but Sony says that paying upfront will give you $45 worth of DLC. That includes the first four multiplayer map packs and first three skins pack, which will begin to hit PSN after the game’s release on November 1. Players will also get a exclusive theme and will get alerts to new DLC from messages on the PS3’s XMB.
Sony might be the real fortune hunter here, but hey, if you’re planning on hanging out with Drake a lot this year in Uncharted 3, it sounds like the Fortune Hunters’ Club might be the way to go.
Review: Dead Rising 2: Off The Record
Sequels are commonplace, but how often are games re-released with a different main character? Not often, which makes "Off the Record" something a curiosity. It's a zombie killing action game set in the Las Vegas clone of Fortune City with the same plot and characters as Dead Rising 2, with one major alteration -- protagonist Chuck Greene has been jettisoned for Frank West, the down-on-his-luck photojournalist from the original game.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Chuck was a rather ho-hum hero and fetching Zombrex for his cutesy daughter grew annoying after awhile. Frank, meanwhile, is a flawed but fun character who is full of cheeky self-conscious dialogue.
Since Frank is a photographer, he also gets to take pictures of the action for bonus experience points like he did in the first “Dead Rising.” Beyond that, the biggest addition to the game is the so-called Uranus Zone in Fortune City, an amusement park filled with wacky minigames and places to commit over-the-top zombie kills. Also returning from the first game is Sandbox mode, which lets you explore the world at your own pace without having the objectives continuously nagging at you.
“Off the Record” improves one of the best zombie games of all time, so those who new to “Dead Rising 2” should shamble to their store to grab a copy. Veterans of the series be warned, this is an awfully familiar zombie apocalypse.
Follow Ryan Smith on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter