New Arkham Asylum Toys: Series 1 Pre-Orders!

Arkham Asylum figures have finally been designed and created and can now be pre-ordered for final shipping in January 2011.

If you were a fan of the game, you probably enjoyed the incredible redesigns undergone by some of the most popular characters in the Batman mythos and it’s with pleasure that I say the game’s three most striking villains have made the cut in this first series, joining a grim-looking Dark Knight: The Joker, Harley Quinn and the syringe-fingered Scarecrow. The cast has never looked cooler. They’re joined by bonus figure Scarface, puppet and puppetmaster of the villainous Ventriloquist.

Arkham Asylum Batman figures from DC Direct

And how about that new Arkham Asylum 3D release? Well, Destructoid has the news.

Last week, Eidos Interactive released a “Game of the Year Edition” for Rocksteady Studios’ critically-acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum, less than a year after the game’s initial release.

Packed with the original game, the disc (for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) also includes additional content previously only available as downloads. The four challenge maps — “Scarecrow Nightmare,” “Crime Alley,” “Totally Insane,” and “Nocturnal Hunter” — are a nice addition to the already great gaming experience. But the real extra to note here is that Batman: Arkham Asylum can now be played in 3D, on any television, using the included 3D glasses.

How does the 3D look, and does it add anything to the experience? I took it for a test run. Impressions and more after the jump.

Without going into too much technical detail, the 3D utilized in Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition is a process called TriOviz 3D. The method allows developers to implement 3D stereoscopic tech into existing titles, leveraging depth-of-field to create multi-layered effects. It requires 3D glasses with pink and green lenses, two pairs (one Batman-themed, the other “Welcome to the Madhouse” Joker-themed) of which ship with Batman: Arkham Asylum.

The 3D effects in the game are fully optional, and can be toggled on and off in the options menu at any time. But when the game booted up and I was given my initial set-up choices, I immediately flipped on the effect and (as instructed) slid on the rather silly-looking 3D glasses.

As the game’s first cut-scene kicked in, I wasn’t sure if it was “working.” I didn’t see much of a difference, but was immediately surprised that the pink and green lenses didn’t interfere with the color quality much, if at all. As the camera panned across the Gotham City sky-line and the Batmobile raced through the city’s streets, I started to notice the subtle 3D effects. And I seriously mean “subtle.”

Because Arkham Asylum’s cut-scenes were (presumably) not designed with 3D in mind, there was none of that “debris flying towards the screen” nonsense you get with content designed with 3D intentions. Instead, the Batmobile itself was felt slightly offset from the street, the buildings in the foreground of the sky-line “popped” more, and the gate leading into Arkham Asylum had clear and apparent depth.

The effect was more obvious once the game’s long opening sequence kicked in. As I moved Batman down the halls of Arkham, following guards as we escorted a restrained Joker, there was some clear separation between the models and the game’s environments. It’s a bit of an odd effect, but surprisingly effective, almost as if you were looking at a diorama come to life on your television set.

As far as gameplay and immersion goes, once combat started up and I was controlling the on-screen action, the effects were still noticeable, but not as much. The issue here was that I was so focused on the action itself — my button inputs and the results of them — that I wasn’t really paying attention to the 3D effect all that much. It wasn’t particularly distracting either; remarkably, the hit that the image quality takes is very little. Colors are intact, if slightly muted; the overall visual quality isn’t quite as sharp, but maybe that’s the trade-off here for this 3D-for-all solution.

I suppose that’s the question, though. Are these trade-offs — slightly reduced image clarity and having to wear idiotic glasses on top of it — worth the 3D experience? It’s a novel effect, and I can see the appeal, but I’m not entirely sure it adds enough to the affect of the game to necessarily make it worth your time… at least in the case of Arkham Asylum, which wasn’t a 3D title from the jump.

The tech industry is making a pretty big push for 3D gaming, with Killzone 3 recently confirmed and television manufacturers trying to convince me that it would be fun if it were just like sharks were swimming in my living room. (That actually frightens me.) I don’t believe it’s going to stop anytime soon. I know of more than a few games that are making the leap to 3D, some of them high-profile, multi-platform titles utilizing a range of 3D techniques. (Interesting note: Darkworks, the company behind the TriOviz tech used for Arkham Asylum, was at one point the developer of Ubisoft’s missing-in-action title, I Am Alive.)

If I came away with one thing from playing Arkham Asylum in 3D, it’s how damned good the game is, fancy glasses and effects or not. At $49.99, if you haven’t played or purchased the game, here’s your chance with some extra content and kinda-neat 3D for “free.” (Those who already do own the game, note that your save files won’t carry over; the Game of the Year Edition wanted nothing to do with my old files on my PS3.)

You can buy this video game from Amazon.com

Resident Evil: Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar Figures

At a 1:6 scale, the new arrivals to our Resident Evil section are not only impressive in size, but in the level of detail included in the sculpting, the weapons and the clothing. Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar from Resident Evil 5 are the latest additions to Hot Toys and Sideshow’s collection of 12” RE figures. And they are gorgeous. Not that it’s hard to make good-looking figures out of two zombie hunters blessed with video-game-perfect bone structure. Here’s a look at Sheva…

Here’s the official list from the folks at Hot Toys…

The Sheva Alomar 12 inch Figure features:

* Hot Toys 1/6 scale female body with over 30 points of articulation, featuring Sheva’s signature tattoo
* Jeans
* Vest
* Faux-leather boots
* Earrings
* Necklace
* Armbands
* Knife
* Handgun/M92F
* Machine-Gun/VZ61
* Machine-Gun/AK-74
* Shotgun/M3
* Riffle/H&K PSG-1
* Magnum/S&W M29
* Hand Grenade
* Shotgun/Ithaca M37
* Ammo Pack / Handgun
* Ammo Pack / Machine-Gun
* Headset
* Radio
* Three interchangeable posing hands with gloves
* 12-inch figure stand with the Bio Hazard 5 logo and Sheva Alomar nameplate”

Naturally, Chris comes with everything he requires, which is essentially the same supply as Sheva with differences in the weaponry (it helps to diversify when your enemies are as varied as the beasts roaming Africa in RE5). He looks as handsome as Sheva does beautiful, but what I really appreciate is the strength in both characters. Though there’s still a ways to go, I’d say that video games are definitely better than films in representing the fact that good looks are not enough and that it’s necessary to make characters believable as action heroes if they’re going to do the dirty work.


Shipping this month: BIOSHOCK 2 FIGURES!

A cinematic tale with a dark feel that combines Verne with 1950s kitsch and more than a little steampunk, Bioshock took the world by storm when it was released. And now, with the release of the second game, there comes a new duo of figures: Big Sister 2 and Subject Delta. They join the original trio of Big Sister 1 and Little Sister (sold as a pair) and the deluxe Big Daddy. The figures are honestly great-looking as NECA gives them the usual high-detail treatment and they stand taller than most at 7+ inches. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the game.

Frankly, though, I haven’t played my way through the games and even I have to marvel at the character design (and the cut scenes watched as others play before me) and the incredible settings they’ve created. Whether I look forward to the inevitable film, of course, I’m not sure, but for now I can still enjoy the look of it all.

And if you haven’t played the game but are seeking it out, here’s our Amazon.com link to pick it up:
BioShock for PS3
BioShock for Xbox
Bioshock 2 for PS3
Bioshock 2 for XBox

New Year, New Arrival: Ratchet & Clank

The Sony Playstation and Playsation 2 seemingly came out of nowhere to trounce Nintendo in the 90s and early 00s (the balance has since shifted again with the unexpected success of the Wii) and brought a ton of new and innovative games with them. One such game was Ratchet & Clank for the Playstation 2. Here’s a quick description from the wiki:

The game follows the exploits of Ratchet (a bobcat-like creature known as a Lombax that is very handy with tools) and Clank (a diminutive sentient robot that befriends Ratchet) as they save the galaxy from several evil forces.

Sounds like a pretty average premise for a game, but it was the innovative worlds, characters and weapons that won the hearts, minds and thumbs of the gaming world. The game became a massively successful franchise and has come to include downloadable mini-games and character spin-offs on top of the full-length console adventures. Really, given the popularity of it all, it’s almost a surprise that it’s only now that DC Direct is releasing action figures based on the game! Check out the Ratchet & Clank collection over on our website to see the rest of the items (including the series’ villains and a new look for Ratchet), but here’s one now:

For anyone not yet into the game, what are you waiting for? Here are the links to grab it over at Amazon.com!
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
PSP 3000 Limited Edition Ratchet and Clank Entertainment Pack – Silver

Twisted Metal: Sweet Tooth Action Figure

The Joker might corner the market on Evil Clowns, but it isn’t a monopoly. From Stephen King’s Pennywise to Are You Afraid of the Dark’s Zeebo, the painted, grinning faces have been scaring (and thrilling) audiences for years. But if you were a gamer in the 90s, then you might add another to that list: Twisted Metal’s most popular character, Sweet Tooth.

His flaming clown head burning on the cover of every entry to the Twisted Metal franchise, he was one of the emblems that would come to represent the rise of Sony’s Playstation.

And now, finally, he is brought to life in the real world by the folks at DC Direct–and with their expertise both in figured and the evil clown subject matter, it’s sure to be a stunning piece. You can already pre-order the 6-inch figure now, though it ships in August 2010! ‘Til then, book mark this page for updates!


Video Games: Figures and Awful Voice Acting

As many are saying nowadays and as I have said in a recent post, Video Games are becoming more and more cinematic. The scale is epic, with massive new worlds being created as stages for brilliant stories, sweeping tales that truly immerse the player. More and more video games are being made into movies (such as Brad Pitt’s recent purchase of Dark Void) for a mainstream audience who might want to get in on the tales without devoting hours to playing. And manufacturers are beginning to see that, beyond the games themselves, there’s a huge market for merchandise, from soundtracks to figures. And in the latter category, we can help fans out by offering a wide selection of toys from Bioshock to Super Mario, Street fighter to Call of Duty, Super Metroid to Halo and much, much more. Check it out!

 

But of course, there’s another side to that coin. Though video games are definitely improving in quality and becoming closer and closer to films, there’s still one area in which many are…shall we say…lacking: acting. Now, don’t get me wrong: there are a ton of really talented voice actors out there and they deserve all the work they get, if not more. But this youtube video captures a lot of moments where things just didn’t come together. Enjoy!

Brad Pitt acquires DARK VOID

It’s hard to come up with even the beginnings of a list of successful, high-quality video game movies and it’s more than just Uwe Boll: there seems to be a conflict between what the moviemakers think their audience wants and what viewers are actually paying to see. When Tomb Raider is considered a relative critical darling, you know the genre’s in trouble.

Which is why there’s some hope in the fact that Brad Pitt has now acquired the rights to produce a film version of the upcoming game Dark Void. Some might wonder why they should trust the actor’s choice, but his track record includes The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Departed, God Grew Tired of Us, Running with Scissors and 2010’s Kick-Ass. So if that’s any indication, look forward to Dark Void being potentially becoming a legitimately good adaptation.

Here’s a look at the game’s trailer…

For more , here’s Steven Zeitchik’s article from Yahoo News.

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – “Dark Void” will yield movie development matter.

Indian giant Reliance BIG Entertainment and Brad Pitt’s Plan B shingle are developing a film version of the upcoming video game, and Pitt could well star as the lead combatant.

The two firms have acquired rights to the Capcom third-person shooter and will develop the material as a feature. The companies said the project would be a “potential starring vehicle” for Pitt. No writers have been hired yet.

“Void” centers on a cargo pilot named Will (Pitt’s presumed character) who, after crashing in the Bermuda Triangle, ends up in a parallel universe where a band of humans must fight an alien threat that had long been thought extinct. Will and the other humans are outmanned but have a number of weapons and powers to help them beat back the alien incursion.

The game will be released for Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in January.

The project is the first to come out of a development partnership between Plan B and Reliance that was announced at the Cannes festival in 2008. The Indian giant has deals with a number of other Hollywood production banners, including Julia Roberts’ Red Om and George Clooney’s Smokehouse.

Video games have had a mixed record on the big screen, with title likes “Max Payne” mutating into critical and commercial flops. But executive involved in this deal pointed to the advantages a “Dark Void” movie would have over its predecessors.

“As a game, ‘Dark Void’ was developed with a wide-screen mentality — a world full of adventure presented in cinematic scope and scale,” Capcom senior vice president of licensing Germaine Gioia said.


And if you’re among the many looking to get your hands on Darv Void for your console of choice, you can find it over at Amazon.com!

Dark Void for Playstation 3
Dark Void for XBox 360
Dark Void for PC (Windows)