Video Games Plus is a weekly update on all things gaming. Check it out every other Thursday.
Santa doesn’t arrive with his sleigh full of presents and toys for a few more days, but Video Games Plus has arrived with plenty of goodies from the gaming world. We got debut trailers from “The Amazing Spider-Man” and Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us” as well as news on “Skyrim’s” award season sweep and a review of “Rayman Origins.”
Spider-Man is Back in Action
Pity poor Spider-Man. The web slinger’s games used to be the best super hero gaming action you could find on a console, but they’ve been lapped recently by the recent Batman games and "Infamous." But Activision seems to think that the Spider-Man game will be amazing enough to take ol’ webhead’s gaming crown back.
The publisher blew the lid off a game based on the film “The Amazing Spider-Man” next summer for the Nintendo DS and 3DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The trailer that debuted during last week’s Video Game Awards show on Spike TV, and features Spider-Man taking on some killer robots being manufactured in Green Goblin’s Oscorp facility.
According to a press release from Activision, this version of Spider-Man will feature more of an open environment for players to explore as they choose. More recent titles have featured more linear gameplay with more of a focus on combat. The game's story will follow Peter Parker right after the events of the film, set to hit theaters July 3.
The Last Us
What do you get when you combine “The Walking Dead” TV show, Cormac McCarthy’s book “The Road,” and um, a nature documentary? If you’re Naughty Dog, makers of the Uncharted series, you get “The Last of Us,” an upcoming game with no announced release date that got a debut trailer during the VGA’s Saturday.
“The Last of Us” is being described as part action/part survival horror with a character driven story about a post-apocalyptic population decimated by a modern plague. Cities are abandoned and being reclaimed by nature and the remaining survivors are killing each other for food, weapons and whatever they can find. Joel, a ruthless survivor, and Ellie, a young teenage girl, must work together to survive their journey across what remains of the United States.
The zombie-like enemies seen in the trailer have reportedly been inspired by a clip from the BBC nature documentary “Planet Earth” where a killer, parasitic fungus invades the brains of insects and controls the movements of its hosts. From the looks of it, “The Last of Us” treads familiar territory with a slight twist. But hey, after the delight that’s been the last three “Uncharted” games, we’re excited to see what Naughty Dog has up its sleeve.
Skyrim Racks up Awards
Recently we gave “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” a giant thumbs up and (gasp!) it looks like I’m not the only one in love with the epic role-player. Skyrim was chosen as Game of the Year at the Spike VGA’s, topping other worthy contenders “Batman Arkham City,” “Zelda: Skyward Sword,” “Uncharted 3” and “Portal 2.” Bethesda Softworks' also took home another Game of the Year prize at last week’s Machinima.com’s Inside Gaming Awards, beating out a whole host of other titles.
It’s also the most played Xbox 360 game according to a recent report from Raptr.com Statistics showed that the average Skyrim player logged 2.92 hours in one sitting -- the highest one-month average in Raptr history. “Modern Warfare 3” players, meanwhile, played slightly more than two hours on average. Skyrim also dominated the role playing game category with six times more total playtime than the closest competitor, "Dragon Age 2."
It begs the question, is there any gamer not dragon hunting these days?
Rayman Origins Review
(Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)
If ever a video game mascot could qualify for indie-underground status it’s Rayman – a goofy looking character who never quite achieved the rock star success of Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog. But as far as cutesy, run-and-jump games go – “Rayman Origins” stands as a minor masterpiece. The rich hand-drawn art style never fails to delight and there’s a whimsical and clever sense of humor at play throughout.
Part of the genius of the game is in the simplicity. At the beginning, Rayman doesn’t even have the ability to attack until part way through the first stage. But even after unlocking all of his abilities, the game utilizes only three buttons, one which jumps, one to attack, and a shoulder button for running. Unlike many games, you aren’t asked to pick the right move or right power at the exact moment you need to. Instead, you’re asked to nail tricky jumps with hungry fish and spiky plants waiting for you to screw up your timing.
Much like the “New Super Mario Bros.” and the most recent Kirby game on Wii, you can play the game solo or cooperatively with partners. It can be a bit chaotic with four players simultaneously, but the game seems built with the idea in mind that your team will die a lot, and then balloon around and float to try to regain life and rejoin the game.
“Rayman Origins” may not be the hippest game around, but it’s beautiful to look at and deceptively fun to play.
For more from Ryan Smith, follow him on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter