Tag Archive: High Moon Studios

Don’t forget your syrup! We’re making pancakes!

It’s never easy turning a licensed product into a videogame, but it can be especially hard when it comes to comic books. Developers typically have a wealth of history from which to draw, but that also leads to fanatical fanbases who love to criticize the slightest bit of “creative interpretation.” Or, on the flipside, you’ll see projects commissioned to be made with half the budget and half the time—and then publishers wonder why we, the game-loving public, trash the end result.

But every now and again, the stars align. With time, money, knowledge, respect for the product, and understanding from the fanbase, you’ll have an experience worth playing. The guys at High Moon Studios are familiar with this; they’ve done it twice now with a pair of original Transformers videogames. But can they possibly handle the biggest challenge they’ve faced so far in the form of Deadpool?

Based on the Marvel character best known for breaking the fourth wall and spoofing a flurry of other comic-book characters, Deadpool is a love letter, plain and simple, to the fans who’ve supported him since the Rob Liefeld/Fabien Nicieza days in the early ’90s. Luckily for us, though (no offense to those guys—well, maybe Liefeld a little), High Moon asked Daniel Way to write the script instead. Fitting, since Way’s run with the character is probably why Deadpool’s now at the height of his popularity.

And the game unfolds exactly how Deadpool fans might expect: Everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth decides he wants to be in his own videogame. Yep, fourth wall already smashed to smithereens. So he calls up the guys at High Moon, threatens them (a lot!), and gets the green light. We then begin stage one, where Deadpool must hunt down a big-time executive type in order to rake in a big bounty. Unfortunately for Deadpool, this particular fat cat is doing business with the Marauders and Mister Sinister, and he’s under their protection. Deadpool can’t be having that—no, sir!

Thus begins one of the wildest gaming rides I’ve had in quite some time. Sure, Way’s comics made me laugh for a couple of minutes each month, but this game had me in stitches for almost the entire eight-hour experience (give or take an hour, depending on your difficulty).

Aside from the smartly executed script, the game looks solid; it’s firmly entrenched in Marvel lore, yet it’s also got a splash of Looney Tunes when it comes to animations, character reactions, and general tomfoolery. The excellent voice work certainly adds to the atmosphere, too. Nolan North channels every ounce of Deadpool (and the voices in his head) he can muster through that red-and-black mask and when grouped with other voice veterans like Steve Blum as Wolverine and Fred Tatasciore as Cable, the acting is top notch.

But not everything about Deadpool is a perfect mile-high pile of pancakes. Deadpool loves guns. He also loves swords. In fact, any tool that can deal death is a high priority in his fractured mind. So High Moon faced an understandably difficult undertaking in finding the proper balance between guns and melee weapons. Unfortunately, the Deadpool game doesn’t quite get that balance right as the action ebbs and flows back and forth between having to use guns and then use melee weapons, instead of blending the two together more to craft a smoother combat experience. Also, while the combo system works fine and sees Deadpool transition smoothly from enemy to enemy, the broken camera and floaty platforming sequences serve as unseen foes that ultimately detract from the experience.

Still, Deadpool also features a few combat tweaks that definitely add to the experience, such as a “Momentum Meter” that fills up with continued success. The upgrade system that requires you to cash in “Deadpool Points” earned from massive combos is a decent touch, and being able to wield a variety of handheld, throwable, and projectile weapons helps keep the experience from becoming a complete button-masher. The game also offers eight challenge maps—with four levels of difficulty—that offer some replayability.

Even with a few gameplay issues, Deadpool hit just about every note I wanted. The campaign offers enough hysterical choices that I played through it several times—and I even watched as others in the office experienced it for the first time. Ah, so many fond memories.

If you’re a fan of Deadpool, you’ll certainly appreciate the experience, but if you’re really unfamiliar with the character (even though I don’t know how that’s possible at this point), you might be a bit wary of having this game be your first experience with Wade Wilson (Oh, no! I revealed his secret identity! Spoilers!).

Developer: High Moon Studios • Publisher: Activision • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 06.25.13

You’ll be fighting the camera sometimes as much as enemies, and the balance between guns and melee needs a bit more work, but most of the time, I was laughing too hard to care. The script is a love letter to Deadpool fans, so if you love the Merc with the Mouth, this game will hit your chimichanga-flavored sweet spot.

The Good Hysterical story that channels the best of Deadpoool.
The Bad Balance between melee and guns needs work; camera can be a hindrance.
Deadpool is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

More Than Meets the Eye

Some franchises are what Comic-Con was made for. That perfect pop culture blending of action figures, video games, comic books, cartoons, and movies ensuring that they resonate with fans of all kinds on at least some, if not all, of those mediums. Transformers is one of those franchises and they kicked off SDCC 2012 with a bang.

On the heels of their major announcement that they’re actually moving Transformers: Fall of Cybertron’s release date up a week to August 21st, High Moon Studios and Activision invited us for a chance to go hands-on with not only some of the single player campaign, but dive into their revamped multiplayer modes and new Transformer customization feature for the first time. And this new time with the game only makes me wish they moved it up even further because Transformers: Fall of Cybertron looks to hit every major note with fan boys and hardcore gamers everywhere.

I started my evening by jumping into the single player campaign and trying my hand at some missions midway through the game. My first mission threw meright into the pilot’s seat as I went flying for the first time with Combaticon Vortex through Cybertron and mowed down Autobot grunts with machine guns or dropped some devastating bombs on them that wiped out chunks of the battlefield. What was amazing about this mission though was how critical Vortex’s vehicle mode was as the battle took place across platforms of varying altitudes. As I transformed and let out a circuit shattering shockwave, I immediately had to leap and seamlessly transform back to vehicle mode and start climbing to take down grunts with rocket launchers before switching back to robot mode and moving further into the base. It was crisp, clean, and felt damn good.

I then skipped ahead a little further and if Vortex felt good, playing as Megatron felt down right badass. With his massive tank cannon I turned countless Autobots to slag as their puny pistols bounced off my frame. And then with his new hover mode’s stomp ability, I was able to literally crush them beneath my heel as I continued on my path to counteract the Autobots master plan.

After getting only a taste of the campaign, I hurried off to Team Deathmatch. But before I even had a chance to explore one of the ten maps the game is shipping with, I played around with the Transformers customization mode where I mixed and matched different body parts on one of the four returning classes to make a Transformer truly unique to my style. And announced at SDCC was the Insecticon and Dinobot customization DLC pack that would add features to this mode. While it may sound like a costume pack, which I admit isn’t something I typically get excited for, to make my own personal multiplayer avatar look like one of these iconic Transformers definitely piqued my interest.

So, once I made a red and blue Autobot Infiltrator with a Short Fuse EMP Grenade and some massive shoulders, I rolled into combat and wreaked havoc (I was match MVP with 15 kills to 7 deaths with 6 assists, but my team lost 33 kills to 30 before time ran out) in what is still a tremendously tight mode.

Admittedly angry over my team’s loss, despite my personal domination, I tried out the Conquest mode next. Set up as your standard Capture the Point match, we were required to capture three possible stations and scored points every few seconds for each of the three we had. First to 400 points was declared the victor. Again, a very tight take on a classic versus multiplayer mode, but this time my team was victorious although my K/D was a lot worse. I shared the MVP award this time with EGM News Editor, Eric L. Patterson as I captured the most points, but he dominated on the K/D front.

Finally, we moved over to the revamped Co-op mode, Escalation. Although featured in War for Cybertron, this Transformers take on Horde mode has a new twist in that each player is required to fill one of four positions. Only one person can be a healer, one can be a gunner, one can be a shield, and one can deploy ammo. This forces a lot more teamwork and communication than in the previous version of the mode and deters anyone from being a lone wolf. Eric and I found this out the hard way as we couldn’t even get past 10 waves before succumbing to the Decepticon onslaught. Traps of all kinds littered the battlefield that we could activate for a price, and each unit had a special power to help turn the tide of battle, but even on Easy Mode, if you don’t work as a team, you’re just booking yourself one way tickets to the scrap heap.

When all was said and done, I don’t think I could have been more impressed with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron as a whole. I can’t wait to see the full campaign and how everything ties together and I really can’t wait to spend a night just making a dozen different personal Transformers for multiplayer. I think that any and all Transformers fans out there, no matter what medium may have drew them into the franchise, will find something to love about this game and am really looking forward to getting my hands on the full thing next month.

As has become the standard for major releases nowadays, Activision has announced a pair of exclusive retail offers today in regards to the August 28th release of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.

Fans who pre-order the game at Amazon will get a unique code for the G2 Bruticus skin that you can use during his single-player campaign mission and that should instantly be recognizable by his iconic hodgepodge color scheme.

Fans who pre-order the game at GameStop will get the bigger bundle though as they get the full G1 Retro Pack that features G1 weapon designs for Megatron to be used in the single player campaign and full G1 Optimus Prime skins that can be used in both the single player and multiplayer modes so you can transform and rollout in classic retro style.