HALO REACH gave gamers a brand new chapter in the Halo mythology, allowing them to explore the days before Master Chief and see the world of the game as it once was. The story and the characters spoke to the heart of the player as well as entertaining them, intricate and inspiring on many levels.

It’s therefore no surprise that the above figures are a cut above the rest, getting more than just the usual treatment and joining the Play Arts collection under the Kai series banner. The Kai series, if you are unfamiliar, is “an improved version of [the] popular Play Arts action figures, with a greater attention to detail, more points of articulation, and additional parts for greater customization.”

Shipping in January, you’ll find Noble Six, Jun-A266 and Emile as the first wave of Kai figures and they’re available for pre-order now, as individual items or in a pack of all three. They join the complete Halo Reach Collection over at!

HALO REACH: The Kai Series Figures

Those are three new HALO: REACH figures available from the amazing designers and sculptors at Play Arts, a division of Square Enix, whom you might know as the company behind the incredible Final Fantasy collection. They specialise in beautiful figures as it is, but the Kai series takes even their amazing work a step further. From their Press Kit:

Square Enix’s Play Arts ~Kai~ figures are an improved version of their popular Play Arts action figure series. With a larger scale, a greater attention to detail, more articulation points, and additional parts, these are their finest action figure yet.

Featuring Jun-A266, Emile and Noble Six, the first series of Kai Halo figures stands about 8-inches tall and comes decked out with all the weaponry you would expect from a trio of soldiers. They’re currently available as pre-orders and will be shipping out in February 2011!

In the meantime, if you haven’t snagged REACH yet, here’s the Amazon link where you can grab it!

HALO REACH for the XBox 360

HALO REACH: New Figures Have Arrived!

Halo fans can now snag the newly-arrived HALO REACH 6-inch action figures over at CmdStore! Though the vehicle section reminds on pre-order, we’ve just gotten a shipment of the character figures, both in one- and two-packs–all of which can be purchased individually or in sets of the entire series. Here’s a look at what you’ll see in each one!

Noble 6 with Assault Rifle
Jorge with Jorge’s Machine Gun
Emile with Shotgun, Knife
Spartan with Assault Rifle
Elite with Needler
Grunt with Plasma Pistol

Spartan 2-pack: two customized Spartan Soldiers in classic red & blue team colors
UNSC Trooper 2-pack: two UNSC troopers in a ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ version
Noble 6 & Elite 2-pack: features a unique version of both – ONLY available in this set

DC Origins Figures: Batman, Catwoman and More!

I’ve always been a DC fan. Marvel’s great, there are a ton of cool characters, but if I’ve gotta pick one, I’ve gotta go with good old Detective Comics. And once there, I zero in on one hero: Batman. So I am definitely pleased that both Batman and DC are being so fondly represented in DC Direct’s new line, DC Origins: Batman.

Sold in packs of two, the figures are renderings of first-appearance characters paired with their current or more modern incarnations. Batman leads the pack, but he is joined by arch-nemesis Joker, who rivals Batsy for least-changed of the group, femme fatale Catwoman and former-Robin-gone-solo, Nightwing, who decided at some point to stop rocking the disco collar.

Grab the packs individually or as a set by heading over to our DC Origins section or clicking one of the links below!

Batman with batarangs
The Joker with cane
Catwoman with whip
Nightwing with awesome disco collar
Complete DC Origins Series 1 Set of 4!

Plus, you can also pre-order the unreleased series 2, which features Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern! Check ’em out .  They ship in September!

While we are on the subject of Batman….I would recommend that you pick up one of the better video games of the year: Batman Arkham Asylum.

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

Sonic Jazwares Figures and Sonic the Hedgehog 4

Sonic the Hedgehog has been around since 1991 in dozen of different incarnations: the original side-scroller, 3D platformers, television shows, guest appearances in other games and dozens more. He’s easily one of the most well-known and “busiest” video game heroes ever, but when Sega fell out of the console race, it seemed that Sonic’s days might be numbered. His games were becoming diluted, the core elements replaced with gimmicks and attempts to stay relevant. Gamers didn’t take to it. Which is probably why SEGA has seen fit to try to bring back the brand with toys and a new adventure. We’ll handle the merchandise, which ranges from fully-articulated Sonic action figures to plush toys and soundtracks, but after that, read on for a look at what you can expect in the way of play.

From an editorial over at The Escapist

This weekend, there were rumors that the long-teased “Project Needlemouse” could perhaps actually be Sonic 4, the direct continuation of a once-glorious 2D platformer franchise that had been dormant since 1994’s Sonic & Knuckles. And yes, those days had truly been glorious (personally, I consider the combination game Sonic 3 & Knuckles to be one of the finest old-school platformers ever made). But no, it was just wishful thinking, wasn’t it? Sega couldn’t possibly be giving the fans what they’d been asking for for years, could it?

As it turns out, yes. Yes they could.

“Project Needlemouse” is indeed Sonic the Hedgehog 4, reports Gamespot, and will be out on all three major consoles as a downloadable title (via XBLA, PSN, and WiiWare) this summer. Curiously, the launch trailer seen above refers to Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Episode 1, which indicates that there will be more to come. That, of course, makes it even more like Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which was one game that was released in two parts thanks to time and budget considerations (so in a way, the precursor to modern DLC when you think about it).

Sega associate brand manager Ken Balough told Gamespot that Sonic 4 will pick up directly where Sonic & Knuckles left off, and will include old-school elements such as the spin dash and power sneakers – as well as online leaderboards for the world’s fastest hedgehogs to strut their stuff, and optional motion controls for the Wii Remote and the Sixaxis.

It remains to be seen if Sega can still pull the same magic out of the franchise, but the classic “Se-ga!” jingle brings a smile to my face nonetheless. One thing remains certain: As long as they call him Dr. Robotnik and can this “Eggman” crap, we’ll be good.

And finally, check out the first trailer!

Mass Effect Toys: Shipping this Fall!

An incredible, sweeping sci-fi epic, Mass Effect (and perhaps some of the mild controversy it caused with a few select scenes) and its sequel have garnered legions of fans. And what happens when you get enough gamers passionate about a franchise?

DC Direct makes action figures of it! And everybody wins.

The first series of 6-inch figures has only been seen in photos like the one above, which showcases the prototypes of the first four figures: Thane, Tali, Shepard and Grunt. If the images there are any indication, this is going to be a very nice-looking and detailed line. I really am impressed with the way that DC Direct has stepped up and gone beyond its own cast of characters to acquire the licenses for a ton of other awesome lines. They’re beginning to broaden their own definition and it’s great, leaving their own mark rather than following Marvel and signing with manufacturers who too often cut and run.

In any event, back to Mass Effect 2 toys: Super-fans can actually pre-order now, though the figures themselves will only be shipping in August of this year. In the meantime, the uninitiated can check out the game over at!
Mass Effect for XBox 360
Mass Effect 2 for XBox 360
Mass Effect 2 Collector’s Edition

Mass Effect can also be purchased from the creators at EA Games! Check it out, along with a wide range of their other hugely successful games.