January 7th, 2012
(as of 2012-12-04 21:13:00 PST)
(as of 2012-12-04 21:13:00 PST)
Frisby PC Computer Laptop USB 2.0 Game Controller Pad Dual- Shock by Frisby
DescriptionPC Computer Laptop USB 2.0 Game Controller Pad Add a thrilling dimension to your PC games with dual vibration feedback motors. Experience every bone-rattling crash and blind-side hit. Feels great in your hands and gives you all the controls you need to dominate the competition. The Frisby game controller for PC, Computer, Laptops makes your games more realistic that you will feel every crash, hit, explosion, and more with its Dual Vibration Feedback motors. Works great for any normal NES or SNES emulation, and feels just like a PS2 game controller and comes with 1 year warranty. Most game controllers last for only couple months, thus our 1 year warranty shows high confident in Frisby game controllers. Soft-touch bottom and specially designed textured rubber grips allows you to get a solid grip. It's the ultimate precision instrument, whether you're going for the tackle, the kill, the gold, or the finish line. The comfortable grip keeps you at the top of your game for hours of play. Double Analog control : Feel the performance edge with double analog sticks and smooth, precise control with digital buttons and smooth 360-degree action. Dual joystick precision helps hit every target, every time Turbo and Normal Mode : Switch from turbo mode to normal mode or from normal mode to Turbo with a click of a button Plug and Play : Compatible with all PC,and Laptop and any PC games operating with Windows 98/2000/ME/XP/VISTA. Simply plug and play, no driver required Contents: PC Game Controler with USB Cable Requirements: 64 MB RAM* 20 MB of available hard disk space* PC with Pentium processor or compatible * PC with Pentium processor or compatible USB port Windows 98 ME 2000 XP Vista Related Video
Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal--citing an anonymous source--reported that Nintendo was working on a live-action Legend of Zelda Internet TV show for Netflix. It turns out, however, that this may not be true.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has now told Time: “As of now, I have nothing new to share with you in regard to the use of our IPs for any TV shows or films, but I can at least confirm that the article in question is not based on correct information."
You'll notice that Iwata's statement doesn't flat-out deny that such a production is in the works. GameSpot will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.
According to The WSJ's source, Netflix's Zelda TV show is aiming to be "Game of Thrones for a family audience."
Nintendo is known for being extremely protective of its franchises, only allowing a handful of TV/movie adaptations to date. Legend of Zelda was produced as an animated show, but it ran for only one season in 1989. And of course, the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie was a trainwreck.
More recently, leaked emails revealed that Sony and Nintendo were discussing a new Mario movie. Spider-Man producer Avi Arad is reportedly brokering a deal with Nintendo to obtain the Mario film rights. Contrary to earlier reports, Arad says negotiations with Nintendo are not finalized, but rather "just the beginning."
Nintendo's next core Zelda game, an open-world title for Wii U, will be released later this year.
Microsoft still has "hundreds of stories to tell" in the Halo universe, according to Bonnie Ross, who heads up the Halo team at developer 343 Industries. These stories could unfold across not only games, but also books, live-action, and other mediums, she says.
"For us, as we think about the Halo universe and how large it is, there are just hundreds of stories to tell," Ross said during the latest Gamer Girls Gone Wild podcast. "So we use our fiction and our novels to kind of broaden the universe so that we have more locations to go in the future with whatever we want to do; whether it's games, comics, live-action, wherever we want to go."
Expanding the Halo universe beyond games is a "pretty core part" of what 343 hopes to do with the Halo franchise, Ross explained.
Growing the Halo franchise in this way was a necessary move, she said, because the first three Halo games "had a tendency to kill a lot of characters," meaning the wider story was somewhat limited. Ross also pointed out that "you can only tell so much story" through the lens of a first-person shooter, so it was essential to move Halo into new storytelling areas.
Microsoft has experimented with a variety of non-gaming Halo stories, though these efforts haven't always worked out. The Peter Jackson Halo movie famously fell apart years ago, with director Neil Blomkamp creating District 9 out of the ashes of that film.
More recently, Microsoft's live-action Halo efforts have included Halo 4 tie-in Forward Unto Dawn and Ridley Scott's Halo: Nightfall, which is a direct prequel to this fall's Halo 5: Guardians. In addition to those, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg is producing a live-action Halo series, though Microsoft has kept this project under wraps since its announcement.
Microsoft has also commissioned a series of Halo novels, the most recent of which--Halo: New Blood, focusing on Halo 3: ODST hero Edward Buck--was announced in January.
As for Halo games, Microsoft has at least two new titles based on the series due out this year. Halo: Spartan Strike (early 2015) and Halo 5: Guardians (fall). Ross also teased that 343 will talk more about Halo 5: Guardians at E3 2015, offering new details about its story campaign, multiplayer mode, and more.
Halo 4 was supposed to the be the first of three games in The Reclaimer Trilogy that would have spanned Halo 4-6. However, Microsoft later clarified that this story was no longer a trilogy, but a "saga" that could extend beyond Halo 5 and Halo 6. Looking ahead, Ross said previously that she wants to get away from numbered Halo sequels.
Where would you like to see the Halo series go in the future? Let us know in the comments below!
By taking a wholly wholesome approach to designing Splatoon, Nintendo's created a game that stands out as new and different, bucking the need for direct comparisons to bloody, kill-focused behemoths such as Call of Duty and Battlefield. There are no headshots or kill counts here; the goal in competitive multiplayer is to cover more of the map than your enemy, using guns that are loaded with ink rather than bullets.
Fittingly, you play as Inklings, human-squid, and your dual-species status means that you can walk on two feet, but also swim through puddles of ink, an ability that's incredibly useful and unlike any maneuver seen in other shooters. While swimming through the opposing team's ink slows you down and makes you an obvious target, your own ink is the perfect hiding place; enemies can't see you if you remain motionless in squid form. Given that Inklings move faster through ink than on their feet, you can also take advantage of this ability to reposition yourself on the map, dodge enemy ink, and get to high ground beyond the reach of your modest jump ability.
The standard Turf War competitive matches are a blast in Splatoon, and while it takes a while to get over the shoot-to-kill mentality, it does sink in, and that transitional moment is when Splatoon's greatness clicks. Even though you aren't racking up kills to win a match, you still want to take out opponents on occasion, because your target can't contribute to the team painting effort during their respawn cooldown timer. However, spend too much time preventing the enemy from spreading ink by going for "kills", and you miss the opportunity to cover the map with your own ink. Thankfully, covering a large area in your team's color feels as good as taking down opponents in other shooters, so you never really miss the feeling of accomplishment by forgoing killing in the name of painting.
The ink swimming mechanic is the most unique and interesting element in Splatoon, whether you're using it to cross the map or to pop in and out of cover. It provides depth and strategy beyond what many shooters offer, which rarely extends beyond weapon choice and positioning. That's not to say those aspects don't matter here, just that they take on a different meaning. Positioning is largely guided by the need to paint, rather than the urge to kill. The same is true for your choice of weapon. There's the standard automatic rifle, which fires ink bullets at a rapid pace, but if you choose the ink roller, you paint large swaths of color across the map, and can easily overrun unsuspecting enemies. You have to sacrifice range attacks with the roller, but if your job on the team is to worry about coverage more than kill-age, you won't worry about your limited reach. Players can also earn currency during matches that goes towards purchasing new weapons and clothing, secondary equipment that comes with stat boosts. You do this from within Splatoon's humorous and charming hub world, which is filled with pun-derived merchants that play on the game's oceanic theme.
Splatoon easily stands apart from other shooters, but it's missing something that every competitive shooter must have if it's going to be taken seriously: team voice chat. Nintendo, for whatever reason (likely to maintain a family-friendly environment), has stated there will not be voice chat in Splatoon. Rather than strategize via direct communication, Nintendo suggests that players use the bird's eye view of the map that's displayed on the GamePad to locate their teammates. Even without voice chat, there are other solutions that Nintendo could have implemented, such as touching the GamePad screen to direct fellow Inklings. Currently, you can only guess what your friends are thinking by watching their movements.
Nintendo has been pitching Splatoon as a competitive game, but there's a single player adventure inside that's fun on its own, offering a unique set of equipment, challenges, and most importantly, level designs. Here, you are fighting to kill, essentially, by gunning for Octarians, your Octopus-like adversaries. There are other objectives which vary between stages, but inevitably, you need to clear a path by firing at your enemies, and this is when Splatoon feels more like the shooters that we all know, and that some of us love. Single player levels also differ quite a bit from multiplayer maps. They offer greater verticality and feature unique elements, such as sponge platforms that grow when hit with ink. I've only played a handful of Splatoon's single player missions, and while they were on the easy side, they were still more interesting and and varied than typical multiplayer matches, which says a lot.
Single player is a fun alternative to competitive play, but it's also a great way to hone your skills before jumping into ranked multiplayer matches. Most people will have plenty of time to practice as ranked matches will come post launch once a certain percentage of players reach level 10 in the standard multiplayer mode. These differ from the standard Turf War setup, one example being a king of the hill mode where you have to cover an isolated area of the map with ink and defend it from your enemies. Everyone starts with a rank of "C" in ranked mode, and it fluctuates based on your individual performance. To keep things fair, Nintendo's going to automatically filter matches based on rank.
Splatoon has come a long way since E3, where it was presented as more of a vertical slice, or a concept, rather than a complete vision. Now, Splatoon has an established world and story, a single player mode that feels distinct from multiplayer matches, and elements, including gear and ranked matches, to lure in fans of other competitive shooters. The lack of voice chat is concerning, but for casual players, it may not matter. I had such a fun time swimming as a squid, trying to sneak around a map and cover enemy territory with ink, that I wasn't as concerned for what my team was doing. Perhaps I should have been, but we were all doing the same thing, and most importantly, having a great time.
Splatoon splashes onto the Wii U in just a couple months, and with it, one of Nintendo's biggest bets in a long time. Its success, both as a new franchise and a multiplayer shooter, will rely on a large and active player base, which isn't something Nintendo's had to rely on in the past. If anything, it will be interesting to see how Nintendo handles all of the new challenges that Splatoon represents, and whether it has what it takes to drive up Wii U sales.
In response to the widespread server issues that marred the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection late last year, Microsoft announced a compensation package that included a free copy of a remastered version of 2009's Halo 3: ODST. But bringing this game to Xbox One was never the plan.
"We did not plan on putting ODST out," she said as part of the latest Gamer Girls Gone Wild podcast. "I mean, I love ODST. But we did not plan on putting it out. We were pretty deliberate on Master Chief's journey leading up to Halo 5 as being The Master Chief Collection."
Halo 3: ODST, unlike the four other games included with The Master Chief Collection (Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4), does not feature Master Chief himself. Instead, in that game--developed by Bungie--you play as an Orbital Drop Shock Tropper.
So why include it with The Master Chief Collection? It's what fans wanted, Ross said.
"Obviously when we had the stumble [with The Master Chief Collection], I think when we looked at what people were asking for, before the stumble and after, what they would love have," she said. "ODST was on the top of the list. So that's why we did it. But we had no plans to do it prior to that."
You can see a work-in-progress screenshot for the updated version of Halo 3: ODST above. Microsoft has not yet announced a launch date for the new edition of ODST. We'll have that information to you as soon as it's available.
In addition to a free copy of ODST, Microsoft already handed out a free month of Xbox Live Gold to make up for The Master Chief Collection's launch woes. Players will also get the Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer map Relic for free. Anyone who bought The Master Chief Collection between launch (November 11) and December 19 is eligible for the freebies.
Warner Bros. has released what it says is Batman Arkham Knight footage captured directly from PlayStation 4.
The video flaunts the graphical splendor of the current-gen-only title, in terms of both the scale and detail of Gotham, with the Dark Knight traversing across its skyline and swooping through the streets.
Warner Bros.' trailer then moves to the series' signature combat, with its familiar combo chains and counters. Perhaps most noticeable is the enhanced cinematography present throughout, with gameplay sequences stitched together by in-game performances and signified, at times, by changes to the musical score.
Also present is Batmobile gameplay, with the high-speed tank darting through the streets and launching missiles at enemy vehicles. The video ends with an interrogation scene, which caries a more sinister tone, adding to speculation that this final game in the trilogy will be the darkest of the three.
Originally intended to be released in 2014, Batman Arkham Knight's release date has been delayed again, this time to June 23. The game is coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. For more, check out some select images in the gallery below.
The recent round of layoffs at Driveclub developer Evolution Studios could affect a reported 55 staffers, amounting to "roughly half" of the UK-based game developer. That's according to a source speaking with Eurogamer on the matter.
Sony confirmed the job losses at Evolution on Friday, March 20. But at the time, the platform holder--which owns Evolution--did not provide any details regarding the extent of the cuts.
One of Eurogamer's sources suggested that "some" of the 55 affected staffers will stay on as contractors, though this has yet be confirmed.
The cuts at Evolution were made as part of a wider Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios restructuring effort. As part of the move, Evolution "will now focus on Driveclub as a service going forward," Sony said last week.
One component of this effort is releasing the long-delayed PlayStation Plus version of Driveclub, which Sony and Evolution say they remain committed to doing.
Driveclub was originally intended to be a PS4 launch game back in 2013. Following numerous delays, it was finally released last October. The aforementioned PlayStation Plus Edition, meant to be a free version of the game with select content, has been delayed numerous times due to technical issues with the full game. Sony once again confirmed last month that the Plus Edition has not been cancelled.
Nevertheless, the first few hours of the pack are a bit of a chore, as you travel through Claptrap's consciousness and memories hunting down needed objects. One of your earliest tasks is to scavenge for broken pieces of a bridge so you can continue. The stereotypical obstacles cause the quest to march on at a sluggish pace, and during the moments when a lack of real progress causes Jack to sigh in frustration over the intercom, I began to understand how he felt. After all, what is less exciting than a fetch quest within what is technically one large fetch quest?Claptrap looks much nicer on the inside.
The environments in which you tackle these early bits are a bit of a drag as well. Sure, there is that warm swelling of nostalgia when you first enter Claptrap's memories of Pandora's rustic Fyrestone, complete with cameos of broken holographic characters such as Dr. Zed who offer guidance. However, it is merely a brief distraction, as if to inquire, "Hey, remember this?" before ushering you onward with your dreary item hunt. I understand that this is merely a broken memory and little else. But as the quest inched onward, I longed for those old Borderlands days when Fyrestone was like an "Old Western" town in which to stock up on supplies, chat up the locals, and grab new missions (accompanied by that lovely acoustic soundtrack), instead of being just a brief distraction.
Thankfully, the game does loosen up some as you move along. As you venture deeper into Claptrap's consciousness, the broken memories of former Pandora, the structures made of neon lights and steel, and even the black hexagonal skies are brushed away. They are replaced with bright pink-orange hues, clouds, and floating islands, not unlike anything out of BioShock Infinite. Go deeper still, and you stumble into something akin to M.C. Escher, with waterfalls flowing from floor to ceiling and staircases on the walls leading to nowhere. It's a striking visual contrast with the cold interiors that first greet you. Claptastic Voyage deserves some credit in refusing to stick to one type of aesthetic, adding an appreciated splash of whimsy to the mind of our dubstep-loving robot. The main story itself revolves around running about searching for keys or other precious objects, but at least the landscape becomes fascinating enough to serve as a nice distraction from the tedium.You can't escape Claptrap, even when you're in his head.
The electric combat that I loved so much about the gravity-defying Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel also helps to put a charge into this short digital adventure. New enemies come in the form of glowing bugs and glitches, sharp-angled foes that attack in swarms and phase in and out of existence. Worse, however, are computer viruses, able to adapt to the elemental effects of your weapons. These foreign invaders are tough, but they provide some engrossing confrontations, with flying bolts of energy turning every battle into an industrious light show. It's doubtful you'll soon grow weary of blasting these nasty baddies, and you have plenty of opportunities to fight enemies from high in the air or butt-slam them into sparkly digital bits. You must also tackle Claptrap's own immune system, manifested as insecurity bots, robotic guard dogs, turrets, and more.
You won't always find yourself against one group of enemy types at a time. Scenes become chaotic as bugs and viruses clash with Claptrap's defense troops. If you find yourself being overwhelmed, you can look to the skies for volatile bits, floating lazily while switching colors between pink and green. Shooting one while it's green sends a barrage of corrosive missiles at nearby enemies, while pink gives you a welcome health boost. You find yourself caught in many encounters where these bits make a huge difference in whether you go down for the count or continue the fight.Welcome back to Fyrestone! Well, parts of it.
Claptastic Voyage features a new peculiar weapon type, one that is about as mixed up as Claptrap himself. Glitched weapons, typically recognizable by their sheen of flowing ones and zeros, flicker wildly, randomly changing their behavior. For example, by default a glitched weapon glows with a soft blue and doesn't act out of the norm, but with a flash to green, it's suddenly imbued with a scatter shot. When yellow, it fires nonstop until you reload or switch weapons, and when red, it shaves colossal chunks of health off enemies. I must admit: glitched weapons are easily my favorite component of this pack. They add a flare of unpredictability to every battle, allowing you to change tactics at any moment. One of my favorite weapons was a glitched laser gun, which performed admirably against single enemies, but not so well against multiple targets, forcing me to turn heel or leap away before getting overpowered. But in some of those fights, with a sudden shudder the gun turns green--once a rifle, now a rapid-fire shotgun--and allows me to turn back to lay waste to the pursuing army of hapless bugs and viruses. It is just so satisfying.
But not everything about Claptastic Voyage is equally as rewarding--and here I'm referring to the pack's extra content. Finishing the main quest opens up the mutator arena, offering loot if you survive three waves of enemies. Before starting, you can choose a game mode, such as half gravity, a difficulty--the higher you go the better chance for rarer loot--and a game modifier, which includes increasing butt-slam damage or increasing reload speed and likelihood of ammo drops for the rocket launcher while also decreasing its damage. The arena fights are not all that engaging, however, and I quickly decided that the chance of rare loot wasn't worth the effort.Travel through Claptrap on streams of data.
It also doesn't help that the arena's two hosts, a racially insensitive hot dog and a bored cat with a perpetual birthday, are incessantly annoying. Now, you would perhaps believe this has the makings of comedy gold, but in reality, no--it does not. The scripts for these two could have used some brushing up, as the unlikely duo often try too hard to be edgy and funny all at once. And hearing the hot dog shout "Treat 'em like Truxicans crossin' the border!" is not only aggravating after the tenth time, but also strays too close to being actually offensive. That, mixed with lousy hot dog puns and the cat's bored phrases interspersed with "meow," meant I found myself looking forward to the end of the third wave just so I didn't have to hear them anymore. I just…I just really miss Mr. Torgue.
Not all of the extras are bad, but they also aren't particularly thrilling, either. Some of the side missions that appear following the story are, again, more fetch quests whose prizes aren’t worthy of the time spent going back and forth to complete them. There are some standouts, though, such as helping Claptrap live out his hidden fantasy as a caped superhero or getting him in touch with his, ahem, more feminine side. Claptastic Voyage also comes equipped with the Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2--this increases the level cap from 60 to 70, which means 10 more skill points for your chosen vault hunter.New enemies include glitches and computer viruses.
Claptastic Voyage, much like our dear Claptrap himself, is an imperfect little thing. But it's still decent thanks to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's outstanding combat formula and some superb environments revealed as you delve further into the story. The adventure is a lengthy one, coming in at around 10 hours with the main quest and side missions complete--though that time should vary depending on your vault hunter's level. Yes, this is the end of Claptrap the mighty vault hunter, and though Claptastic Voyage could have been a better sendoff for his implausible profession, at least we know that his story will continue onward for some time to come. So long as there aren't any stairs in the way.
The pratfalling starts early as our heroine, an axe-wielding, platinum-haired, Amy Brown-meets-Assassins Creed-styled Red Riding Hood, states, "This is no fairy tale, because nothing here is fair.” She could've been warning everyone about the game's combat, but she's actually referring to the bustling city of Ulrica, which is currently falling to ruin at the hands of B.B. Wolfe, a steampunk Daniel Plainview who industrializes the tiny village and needn't associate with the unwashed masses again. Wolfe then puts the whole place under martial law enforced by an army of murderous tin soldiers designed by Red's father. After Red's father dies and her mother goes missing, Red, under the strict tutelage of her grandmother, takes it upon herself to infiltrate Woolfe's businesses and find the truth.
The pitfalls of such an approach are numerous, and Woolfe provides a harsh lesson in how to fall into all of them.
The elephant in the room must be acknowledged here, and it's named American McGee. The game feels like a story that'd be right in that designer's wheelhouse--and in fact, McGee’s game Akaneiro has already pursued the Red Riding Hood theme. (Tale of Tales’ The Path should also be acknowledged for having trod this ground as well, and with great style to boot.) Woolfe does look and act the part. The architecture and atmosphere of Ulrica are marvels of ruined, washed-out, Victorian splendor, with disorienting, flashy clockwork technology intrusively laid over it. This look is intentional, and it tells the story of this place much better than Red does. The impressive lighting effects in the town and forest only enhance it by imbuing everything with a natural magic, contrasting with the ruin instead of clashing with it. This is, in fact, the same marvel American McGee accomplished with the Alice games.
Alice and Alice: Madness Returns work not because they overwrite Lewis Carroll but because they expound upon it. The young Alice in Carroll's story is found insane in the real world, and her being surrounded by mental illness influences the changes in Wonderland. It's an organic blossoming of classic ideas into something darker, and it requires a sure hand to pull it off—one that Woolfe doesn't have. Instead, Woolfe settles for a lazy shorthand of fairy tale tropes but lacks the foresight to introduce any measure or promise of joy or catharsis worth running, jumping, or fighting for. The greed of the Big Bad Wolf is reduced to corporate greed. The sadness of a father forced to make toy soldiers into a real, unyielding military never has enough of a foundation in good times to stick. Red herself speaks in a mix of sub-Buffy the Vampire Slayer modern teenage one-liners and broken, self-loathing pseudo-poetry. It’s a mess, needlessly dour and "edgy" for its own sake, an immature approach to subversive reimagining. The exhilaration starts and stops with the art design.
Red herself speaks in a mix of sub-Buffy the Vampire Slayer modern teenage one-liners and broken, self-loathing pseudo-poetry.
When the game leaves story behind in favor of player interaction, it involves competent platforming and puzzle solving with a small measure of 3D movement and backtracking, but it’s still fairly linear. It's also wholly unremarkable, marred by a score of tiny and annoying but not game-breaking bugs. A puzzle on the second stage requires Red to perform a relatively simple shimmy along a set of pipes to jump across a gap before being drowned in a pile of sludge from above; this stranded me 20 minutes longer than it should have because the game refused to recognize and grasp the pipes on the other side. Long stretches of running from enemies are aggravating because Red snags herself on the edges of walls.
Combat is rather boring to begin with, with a light attack, heavy attack, and two magical attacks. Nothing works more effectively than just spamming heavy attack ad nauseum, especially at the frequent moments when hits don't register, which is especially frustrating in sections involving an evil Pied Piper who summons groups of rats. A ground pound attack, which is supposed to make quick work of the horde, rarely connects in the way you think it will, and the group can chip away at Red's energy far faster than she can readjust and aim for whatever's attacking her. Boss fights compound all these issues, with scripted events all suffering from occasional moments of glitchy failure.
Woolfe barely comes into its own before it's over, with the entire game taking about 2–3 hours tops. It's apparently only half of a two-part experience, but the halfway mark of the game doesn't show much promise for the second. Adult takes on childrens' stories are a hard balancing act, and the moral of this particular take is perhaps in showing just how much a storyteller has to grow up to get it right.
It fails to make a lasting impression, but that doesn’t stop the action from being gripping and entertaining early on. Robots roll on a single wheel up and down the various maps--resembling dance floors with their vivacious lights--while explosive dodge balls whizz by your head. Power-ups transform your projectiles into boomerangs and provide jetpacks mid-round, so it’s critical to keep your eyes on both the position of your opposition and these enhancements. Blasting opponents out of the air or pelting an unsuspecting robot with a ricocheted ball is supremely satisfying, but learning how and when to take a shot isn’t easy. You’re riding on a wheel against a surface providing little friction, so everyone on the dance floor continues to roll long after letting off the gas. Balls arc downward after being thrown and bounce off walls in often unexpected ways, so it takes a great deal of practice to understand how, when, and where to take a shot with so many variables at play.If it weren’t for the explosive dodge balls, I’d totally chill at this club.
Multiplayer games are player-hosted, so a high ping can result in robots flying from one end of the screen to the other as if hurled from a catapult; as a result, the already fast movement speed--which is only enhanced by a rechargeable boost--can be a little too sporadic to account for. There’s nothing wrong with combat that takes time to master, but even after hours of play, I never felt fully comfortable with the direction of my explosive shots.
Thankfully, there’s more to Disco Dodgeball than just throwing and catching balls. Beyond the classic Elimination and Deathmatch options, modes like Hoops and Grand Prix offer unique, interesting ways of playing with the mechanics. Hoops forces you to focus on fitting a specific ball through a square goal in order to score points for your team, while Grand Prix transforms the map into a speedway of sorts. Instead of using your momentum to dodge oncoming action, you must barrel through checkpoints as you race against the competition. Catching and throwing balls always remains a significant piece of the puzzle, but these various mechanical alterations allow for much greater in-game creativity that what the standard rules supply. Most servers lean toward the classic modes, but mixing up the rules within a room full of competent bots is always an option.The different game modes provide creative ways to explore the physics. Determining the arc of a throw is tricky, even after a lot of practice.
Once the early wonder starts to wear off, though, what’s left is a fun curiosity with hooks too dull to pierce the skin. There’s single-player content, including Arcade, Horde, Training, and a handful of other solo affairs, but the real appeal here is the competitive play. Leaderboards and the ability to level up provide some incentive to come back, but other than basic robot customization, the actual tangible rewards for continuing to play the game are weak. Without a true sense of progression, Disco Dodgeball doesn’t do much to pull you back onto its thumping dance floors.
When the connection is strong, the balls are bouncing as you intend, and there are enough players to populate the servers, Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball is a treat. The audiovisual package superbly complements the wall-to-wall mayhem found within a competitive round, and there’s a healthy suite of modes to mix up the action. There’s just not enough staying power, and controls that are a few notches too loose make it difficult to determine a shot’s trajectory. Disco Dodgeball is a creative player in a crowded space, but lacks too many attributes to stand out.
This is Cortex, an object lesson in a brand of futurism that's surprisingly hard to come by in the world of electronic sports. Its gridiron is littered with extruded geometries and embossed with cosmetic circuitry patterns. Broad-shouldered athlete-simulacra smash into each other like promo animations for the NFL on FOX as their head coach/Matrix operators look on, bottom-lit by monitor glow. It's a wildly speculative vision of what sports could one day be. It’s the kind of thing you used to see a lot more of earlier in the digital era, and a far cry from the current tack of e-sports with its gently iterative shooters and fighting games.
Frozen Cortex's other hereditary through-line runs straight back to football. In a planning phase prior to any action, two players simultaneously slip step-by-step instructions to their team of five robots, setting up running routes, passes, blocks, or zone coverage. The goal is to score by reaching the thin strip of the end zone or crossing smaller "extra point" tiles strewn across the randomly generated maps. Waypoints can be laid down with simple clicks of the mouse, and a bot will faithfully trace a direct route through them to the end of its line. With a full set of paths and nodes diagrammed out for the five robots, the traditional playmaking X’s and O’s here begin to take on the look of an electrical schematic, and it’s easy to imagine some subsequent Frozen Cortex ‘16 version introducing stutter-step resistors and spin-move inductors, or maybe a "battery" symbol for a stiff-arm to the face.
A lot of Frozen Cortex’s tactical potency is owed to the fact that it allows players to sketch out and demo their opponent’s game plan exactly as if it were their own. It’s a subtly brilliant little inclusion that opens up the opportunity to tailor-make counters to highly specific plays. Of course, the awareness that your opponent can just as easily construct a 1:1 model for any play you might conjure up ends up bleeding into your strategic subconscious, too. Against a well-versed player, a match of Cortex becomes an exercise in recursion: "They’ll be expecting the obvious pass--but they’ll also be expecting that I expect that they expect the obvious pass. But then again…"
You can imagine the effect this can have on turn length. Outside of a specialized mode with a thirty-second play clock, players can take as long as they want--days, even--to submit their move. But it’s all well accounted for in Frozen Cortex’s elegant matchmaking system, which allows you to field multiple games simultaneously and even enable email notifications in case your turn comes up while you’re away. While the server population never seems to stretch beyond thirty players at a given time, games are easy enough to come by. The measured, deliberate pace seems to attract a crowd that's more genial than most, if sometimes prone to "forgetting" about your match soon after you burn them for a big score.
This all means that it only takes a match or two to pick up the fundamentals, which is as long as I can recommend bothering with Frozen Cortex’s single-player mode.
With both players’ interpretations of the ensuing play in hand, the game crashes them into each other and films the resulting chaos like Jake Gyllenhaal’s creepy Nightcrawler cameraman, tailing runners with an uncomfortably narrow chase view or leaping sideways to frame the secondary getting burned on a long pass. A quibble, but it’s easy to lose track of a robot during these rare and irregular perspective changes, especially when a given part of the playing field so often looks like any other.
Learning to respect the deep ball is the first harsh lesson in the education of a Cortex player. A bot can hurl the rock from one end of the small field clear to the other--as long as there aren’t any tall blocks in the way--and drop it in the end zone to be caught or picked up by a nearby teammate. The longest passes freeze at their apex, ending the turn. This ostensibly allows the defense time to swoop in for an interception, but the effect is like a crystallization of that wonderful moment when an NFL cameraman begins that telltale, frantic sideways pan--the moment anyone watching suddenly realizes that something’s just gone dramatically wrong (or, less often for a Texans fan like me, right) in the backfield.
Unlike passes, runs draw out through the full length of a turn. True to real football, they’re the grind-it-out option, leaning on the cumulative effect of bonus point tiles for a win by attrition. Because of the idiosyncratic way that blocking works in Frozen Cortex, stopping the run requires a patient defense and timely risks. If it lapses enough to allow a robot to scamper through to the end zone after hitting a string of extra points, it’s a coup.
Two circles around each bot govern all collisions in a game chock full of them: one for blocking and one for tackling. A robot that’s "first on scene"--that is to say, reaches an area and goes stationary before the opponent does--will block any comers trying to run past its circle on their prescribed routes. But stationary bots will automatically bypass would-be blockers to snuff out ball handlers that enter their larger tackling radius. It's a strategic wrinkle that forgoes the random number generators so endemic to sports games in favor of something more aboveboard and ultimately more intuitive, too.
This all means that it only takes a match or two to pick up the fundamentals, which is as long as I can recommend bothering with Frozen Cortex’s single-player mode. There are two main formats: a one-and-done "Knockout" mode and a standard single-season league. In league play, the AI provides stiff initial competition, but it quickly fades as you use the perfunctory free agent system to outspend it on new robots with better stats. There’s an overarching text-based narrative involving an investigation into thrown matches, but it goes nowhere fast and rings especially hollow because Frozen Cortex actually allows you to bet against your own team and throw the game without consequences.
It's weird to cite a game for trying to go deeper or tell a story. But the futuristic coating that Frozen Cortex paints over its sport works best as a surface treatment. And if you don't cut into it, it looks great. The teams have slick, expressive names like "Heavy Perspective" or "SXT Vision," and their logos look like the glyph symbols in Blade that denote secret vampire rave nightclubs. The industrial electronica tracks thrum along as naturally as a pulse. A news ticker drip feeds evocative little blurbs like "Core 4’ Teams to Meet with WRC and League to Discuss Player Rights." It's only in the actual exposition that these things end up belabored, as the league's talking heads try to pack an entire personality into each of the tweet-sized messages they send before each match.
Maybe that's a mark in favor of replacing the human element in futuristic games like this. If you could only excise all those flimsy, unreliable human bodies, with their proclivities for head trauma and contract renegotiation demands, you'd perhaps reach something purer--sport ascended from the flesh, so to speak. Bigger but more thoughtful. Gladiatorial but safe. With blitzes that play out like chess, with mechanized athletes that can pull any move if you can just hit the right combination of buttons. Some ultimate game where nerd and jock fuse together and assume their final form.