Ittle Dew Brings Back Memories

I’m back. Now that’s settled with, lets dive into it shall we?

This is Ittle Dew.

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This cutesy little Zelda-like indie adventure game has you in the shoes of a traveler and her trusty fox-with-dragonfly wings sidekick (named Tippsie) on an adventure! You start off on an island which is just reeking in it, and armed with your stick, you set off into the very first cave.

First off can I say just how pretty this game looks?! It reminds of Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, if it was a top down 2D game. The world looks like something you’d find in a comic book or cartoon and is brought to life with small animations like how the stencil outlines of characters are always moving and the way monsters move, like the floating turnips and waddling platypus (at least I think they are…). Its charming design drew me into the game quite quickly and I looked forward to finding out more. Controls are smooth and move fluidly enough to keep you on your toes while the world just looks so colorful and bright, even in the darker areas like dungeons.

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If you like games that reference other popular titles as well as self referential humor, than you will want to get this game. The jokes you’ll find here are varied from visual gags (best one is in the castle) to conversations between Dew and the other inhabitants on the island. Tippsie the sidekick lives up to his namesake, with his bottle of red liquid always at hand and Itan the Item Store owner has a strange obsession with carving all sorts of things, sea life especially. Even tutorial messages tend to kick out a smirk or snicker from me. So if you need a simple game with lots of humor in it, this game can easily serve your needs.

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Now onto the meat of the meal. The gameplay. Ittle Dew plays exactly as it should. Movement controls and actions are fluid and easy to pull off. It doesn’t ask for very complex maneuvers, as it is more puzzle oriented and asks more of your brain power, than button mashing.

The puzzles are varied and come in enough flavors to keep the game interesting, slowly starting you out with puzzle blocks, moving on to ice blocks and bombs, adding some depth into the whole package. It isn’t too difficult, so masochists might want to go back to Dark Souls II, but it is enough of a challenge to leave some sitting and pondering for a few minutes before your younger sibling comes by and solves it on their first try. (I’m locking my door from now on.) Dew will have a variety of weapons to wield that help solve puzzles, like the Fire Sword that lights things on fire and a Portal Wand (If you’re wondering what that does, go play something else.) among others.

As for how long this game will take you to finish, just the main story can go up to 3 hours or so, but if you’re a completionist, you may find yourself spending up to 6 hours or more. This is mostly in part that the trickier puzzles are hidden with pathways covered by trees and other stuff. Part of the challenge is finding them, solving them and grabbing that Collectible Card at the end. These cards usually comprise of Enemies and Bosses you’ll run into with some pretty funny flavor text included.

There really isn’t much in terms of replayability for Ittle Dew, as the puzzles will be straight forward once you’ve figured them out and the jokes can only be humorous after playing through it so many times. But it is a really fun game to play when you tackle it the first time. A solid recommend for fans of Zelda games of Indie adventure lovers. The creators at Ludosity, mentioned that there are Leaderboards and also encourage speed running as well as choosing to purchase only a certain combination of tools to beat the game to challenge yourself.

Ittle Dew will capture you with its charm and humor, and the puzzles will tingle your brains enough to keep you playing till the end.

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Ittle Dew is available on Steam for $13.99 or RM 49.72 for Windows, Mac & Ouya.

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The Humble Indie Bundle 7 Available Now

Hey everyone,

Another delightful group of indie developers have gotten together to offer all gamers the chance to download 6 fun and enjoyable games at any price you set yourself to be donated to Child’s Play Charity!

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This time around the games on offer are:

Snapshot, The Binding of Issac + Wrath of Lamb DLC, Closure, Indie Game : The Movie, Shank 2 and for those who donate more than the average of USD$ 6.01, they get to unlock Legend of Grimrock and Dungeon Defenders + DLC.

Also included with the download are each individual games soundtracks in FLAC and MP3 format. Get all of them right now via: http://www.humblebundle.com

You can also portion how much of your donation goes to the charity, the game developers or as a Humble tip to the organizers.

So not only is this an awesome deal to enjoy some great indie games, its an opportunity to donate to charity and to spread some joy to children in hospitals around the world.

Gamers at heart, with heart. 🙂

Hitman: Absolution is an absolute hit indeed!

Today’s game review is a favorite series of mine, made by Eidos Interactive in the older years, this series is now under Square Enix and IO interactive. This is of course, Hitman : Absolution.

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Hitman : Absolution is the latest installment to the series that follows on the story of Agent 47, a genetically enhanced super assassin with perfect finesse and to the point professionalism.

For those unfamiliar to the game, this is a 3rd Person Stealth Action game, while the emphasis is to prioritize on stealth assassinations and leaving the environment completely untouched, the option to go guns blazing and all out gun fighting is available. You can take the slow route or the fast route. Its greatest strength is in the multitude of choices available to players in taking down their targets, you can snipe them from a vantage point, poison their food or drip gasoline on an area they’ll walk upon and start a fire with a well placed shot, the choice is yours.

The game runs on the Glacier 2 Engine, and its a real treat to see just how detailed and lovingly made each level is. Character models too have been given a much deserved treatment making cinematic sequences that more engaging, coupled with very good motion capture that displays facial emotions very realistically and an amazing group of voice actors that absolutely drew me into the game when the action picks up. The engine also has the ability to create crowds of people to populate levels, as many as up to a 1000 or more people as seen in the Chinatown game play demo below.

Now as amazing as this game looks, there were a a few minor points which I didn’t quite like, mostly to do with the color. Some cut scenes had some odd color schemes that felt out of place and actually gave me some flashbacks to Max Payne 3 which used very off tone colors and also threw around some shocking bright lights. But these are very few and aren’t headache inducing.

The art style of the game is realistic and serious in tone, but don’t let it fool you, there are plenty of funny moments found within the game ‘s environments and from ‘accidental’ eavesdropping. Its the familiar kind of dark humor found in nearly every Hitman game, which balances the serious story line,  giving a very enjoyable giggle or two in between missions. Like in the very first mission, a guard gets some good news and is having the best day of his life, nothing’s going to rain on his parade, until I came along and thew him off a cliff. Don’t look at me like that, he was in my way.

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Environments range from secluded villa hideouts with lush gardens, a strip club, a shooting range and a small township stuck in a 50’s era feel, giving the game a lot of variety.  Also in between the larger map missions, there a smaller ones that can be completed in mere minutes, but even these short sections showcase parts of the Hitman back story which are actually interesting to play through. There are a total of 20 levels to play through, and while most can complete the game within 15+ plus hours, many will be replaying the levels, not just to collect every weapon or disguise available, but to complete the Challenges unique to those levels only. Completing the challenges unlocks abilities for 47, which are generally just minimal improvements such as faster reloading or quicker knock outs. These abilities remain active upon acquiring them, so there is no customization at all for Single Player. That includes the pre-mission load up of choosing your weapons and gear from your safe house. I always loved that feature of walking around your home base and testing your weapons before starting a mission, sadly this was taken out completely.

What is a great thing though is the fact that each mission and level is so well done. I found myself coming back to replay those missions at least three to four times. This is because at the end of every mission, a check list is shown next to your score and rating, showing all the possible items you can find and disguises as well as Challenges that act as clues to a specific way of killing your target. This actually compelled me to replay each level over and over again, until I got everything I could, or when I got stuck trying to complete them.

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Game play wise,  47’s movements and gun wielding abilities and tight  and easy to execute. Also, when aiming with guns, lightly squeezing the trigger actually focuses the cross hair, improving accuracy before taking the shot. Bringing in more fun to this is the addition of an Instinct Meter. This is 47’s “Eagle Vision”, when activated, all targets and henchmen are highlighted in a red or yellow silhouette and items of interest, such as key cards, switches, hiding spots and weapons are shown. The Instinct Meter is only used up in two ways, to slip by enemies of the same outfit 47 has on and when using “Point Shooting” which slows down time and allows the player to manually mark any enemy within sight and which area on their body 47 will shoot at (head shots, or crotch shots if you feel like it…), which when done or when the meter runs out, 47 will then do as planned in one swift motion automatically, with the dynamic camera zooming in and going slow-mo on killing hits, it is truly a sight to behold. This mechanic is a beautiful addition, and is easily my favorite thing to do, as it not only helps in a rough gun fight, it is also a surefire way to making sure a silent shot will make its mark. This ability does not work with sniper rifles though.

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Without spoiling too much of the story, in Hitman Absolution, Agent 47 opens up the game with a prologue where he has been assigned to assassinate his former handler, one which many veterans of this series will recognize, Diane Burnwood. Agent 47 later discovers why he has been tasked to do so and rescues a young girl, who holds a secret which forces the Agency to track them down, and along for the ride is a well organized team of very menacing cowboy-esque mercenaries and a top kingpin, who’s only goal is to get the girl and hold her ransom. The story is a chase, and a very engaging one at the that, but like many great titles out this year, its ending tends to be rather generic and does just enough to close up, its an appropriate ending, but I can’t help but feel that more could have been done.

Despite some characters having little to no exposition or growth from the entire story, the voice actors do an amazing job in displaying each character we see on screen. Each voice is just a perfect blend into the character models and expressions, and this makes a really absorbing and cinematic experience for players and viewers alike. Even the henchmen who chat and complain about their less than stellar employers add to the setting.

This is also the first game in the series to include multiplayer. This mode is called Contracts mode, and what it is, is essentially a worldwide challenge mode. Players can opt to go online and tackle assassination contracts for in game money which can be used to purchase more weapons and disguises as well as compete to be the richest assassin out  there. The coolest thing about this is the ability to create your own contracts, and this is done in such an easy way. How do you make a contract? Well, just play the game like your normally do, only this time, you can choose your targets and decide what disguise and weapon is to be used on said target. You can mark up to 3 targets and use anything found within the level or whatever you chose to bring for the mission from a very simple load out screen of whatever weapons and disguises you have unlocked. You then write in a mission brief if you want and then its saved online to be taken on by any and every player around the world.

This makes the game very competitive, as your high score is shown on every level along with the average high score for your country and worldwide. Placing not only you as an individual to outperform your friends, but as country to country as well.

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Suffice to say, I loved this game. It took away a few things, but it gave back so much more. Veterans and fans will find this game does justice to its predecessors and new comers to the series get to see and know just how bad ass Agent 47 is. As a whole, this game stands very strongly on its own, it does not call too much from its past lore to confuse new players, at the same time it does offer very little to long term followers. Nevertheless, its a very fun game to play, has a decent story despite its short and generic ending, a good amount of challenges to complete in Single Player and a good host of online levels to play through. This is a solid game to buy and to keep in your library.

Hitman: Absolution is available for purchase in your local game store for RM 189 and on Steam for USD$49.99. Free DLC is included  with full game if pre-ordered in certain outlets.

XCOM returns! This is how you remake a game!

XCOM Enemy Unknown has been on my watch list since the day it was announced. I have always been a hardcore fan of the game, ever since playing it for the first time on the old Atari computer. Now, after waiting for so many years, playing its less than attractive spin offs and agonizing over the risk that it may never come to be over the earlier debate that turn based strategy games are no longer in focus, it is finally here, and I can sum the game up in one word: Glorious!

Firaxis really does love this game, and they prove it by giving us a near EXACT replica of the very game we know and love, with improved graphics and personal touches that add even more to an already stellar game. Veterans of the series will appreciate the new additions that include, an enhanced Geoscope, customization of troops and armor, a satellite up link to control and monitor alien activity in other nations and a bonus reward when you have complete coverage of a continent. Besides that base construction is made more streamlined in an ant farm style, choose and place, UI.

The largest stand out however is the new squad limit. In the earlier XCOM games, a small battalion of soldiers could be deployed, in the newest revival, we start out with only four squad members, upgrades will allow a maximum of only six members. This makes strategy and planning integral, as the limited number of soldiers can only offer so much to get the job done, especially early game when you go up against aliens with much deadlier weaponry and technology. As you complete more missions and your survivors gain veterancy, you will start to learn and counter develop the alien tech and soon will be producing better weapons and armor to battle them back with, giving them a taste of their own medicine! But…

That being said, the Aliens aren’t a soft bunch either. Just as you study about them, they study about you too. As you advance in the game with newer toys to fry them up, they too start deploying more deadlier enemy types, such as the Berserker, a heavy melee enemy that takes a ton of damage and every time it get targeted, hit or miss, it gains a free move, getting ever closer to your Sniper or Assault troop. And that’s not all, mechanical enemies that have weapons which can easily obliterate a badly placed group of soldiers in one turn, soon emerge among the shadows. What was once an advantage for you, soon becomes nothing, so planning and execution is crucial to survival.

As the Commander of the entire XCOM initiative, its is your responsibility to ensure all the nations in the world are kept safe from the alien abductions and acts of terror. Missions range from mass rescue missions, extraction of VIP’s and Alien UFO landings\crashes. All of which are varied and unpredictable as the situation of missions can change just after one turn. One mistake could cost you the life of a valuable veteran or even worse, total annihilation. Every move must be considered and every advantage must be used, the efforts of one are nothing to the work of many and the heroes of today may very well be the casualties  of tomorrow.

Hence before every mission, it is important to go through each soldier and equip them with the essentials, Support troops should have med kits, Snipers are with the S.C.O.P.E attachment and Assault troops with Chitin add on armour, or if you want to go for more damage, bring grenades. Those who enter the battle relying purely on chance, will likely not return at all. This is why XCOM holds such a special place in my heart, its a game that has the challenge curve designed to be just enough to always keep you on your toes. The soldiers you control and command, will grow and soon a silent attachment is formed between you and them, you start to imagine how their personalities are like and what it would be like if they were real and how they would interact as a group.

And the heartache you would feel, should they fall in combat. Just as I felt when my very own Major Shinji “Shadow” Yamada took a critical hit from a enemy grunt. When his digital body hit the floor and my next soldier panicked, I panicked with him for a little while. I had to stop the game and just sit for a moment. I needed to realize that the tables have been turned again, my laser weaponry was barely cutting through the new enemy type and that I needed to rethink my strategy. After a quick drink, I jumped back in and this time, Shinji made it out alive with the rest of the squad.

It was only a matter of time however until more enemies started showing up, Shinji and his squad were put to the test. Having new squaddies get mauled and turned into zombies before chrysalids burst out from them, taking what survivors I could, to get them strong enough in time before the invasion got worse. Time is running out, my research team just alerted me that the alien weapon has been researched and we can start manufacturing the very same weapons they’ve been killing us with since the beginning. Its time for some payback.

XCOM Enemy Unknown digs deep into its roots and brings out the very best it has to offer to both old and new players. I highly recommend getting this game. If the turn based tactical strategy genre looked to be fading out of existence, XCOM definitely knocks that assumption out of the park. Get it and play it, either on PC, PS3 or XBOX, the people of Firaxis have made it easy to play for any and everyone.

Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, Yet

ImageWe return once more to the expansive planet of Pandora! (not the one with giant, blue, rat people, the “other” one). Gearbox’s beloved FPS + Loot-a-mania game makes a comeback with a bigger world, larger bosses and guns, guns, GUNS!

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Fans and players of the first Borderlands will understand when I say most share a love\hate idea with the previous game. It captured so many people with its colorful art style, smooth and responsive gun play, addictive randomized loot and of course its uniquely charming and witty characters. The major downside of it all was the less than stellar ending. (Still gives me bad flashbacks…)

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L -> R : Zer0, Brick, Lilith, Axton, Maya, Roland, Mordecai & Salvador.

However, all this is made up for with Borderlands 2, as they mesh a great story with the old vault hunters and the new ones, as they pitch in to bring down the game’s major bad guy, leader of the Hyperion Weapons Manufacturer, Handsome Jack. Players choose from any of the 4 classes, Commando, Assassin, Siren and Gun-zerker, each with their own skill tree’s which offer varying play styles. For those who pre-ordered or are a member of the Gearbox Club, you’ll get to enjoy the new DLC character class, the “Mechromancer” for free, otherwise its available in the Playstation Store for a reasonable sum.

Image After starting Borderlands 2 and laughing my head off to the opening title sequence, I dug right into the good stuff. I knew immediately which class was the best for me, Commando, and Axton was his name. I used Roland before and knew how to handle myself with my trusty turret, so you can imagine my reaction when I learned that Axton not only could recover his turret anytime he wanted for a faster, skill cool down (AWESOME!), and his skill tree allowed me to upgrade my turret to have a shield, a second barrel for double the damage and rocket pods with explosive damage to boost! 

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Maya, the siren has a different ability unlike Lilith, she doesn’t Phasewalk around, instead she has Phaselock, which traps an enemy in a bubble and lifts it up in the air for a few seconds, upgrades include the ability to draw opponents into the bubble like a black hole, additional elemental damage and the ability to cause health orbs to explode out from an dead enemy which will home on to Maya or her allies. This makes her an indispensable support character who can also act as a medic.

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Salvador the Gun-zerker, offers players what Rambo never could, the ability to duel wield ANY gun you have equipped. That includes rocket launchers, snipers, machine guns, anything, he can mix and match em. His abilities also aid in keeping his Gun-zerking mode to last or continue as long as possible AND also ensure his ammo never runs dry! Zer0 is a robot(?)/android(?)/cyborg(?) who is a master assassin and his skill, Deception, allows him to drop a decoy and turns him invisible, allowing quick getaways or a surprise attack as the next attack he does after using Deception is increased dramatically.

Zer0This game is bigger and better! The world is so expansive, offering more than just sand dunes and rocky cliffs. I’ve gone through snowy ice plains, desert ruins, lush green out lands and many a urban\mechanized city. The world is so much more vibrant and colorful, and the characters, are just hilarious! Just watch the intro title card when you first meet Marcus, what he does, basically sums up the kind of humor this games has. And the side missions are so much fun to do! I used to tire quickly from the first game, where they were basically, go here and kill “x” number of stuff or go on a scavenger hunt for gun parts, here the side quests have stories of their own and each one hints at a popular reference, like this sidequest titled  “The Good, The Bad and The Mordecai” which I found so awesome! It really made me want to search and complete every side quest I could find before continuing with the main quest.

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Borderlands 2 offers a much more solid story line, beloved characters return with new ones; which are just as hilarious, the new playable classes and their skills offer plenty of replayability and strategy (you can respec for a couple of bucks in game), battles are tougher, and the amount of fun you get by playing solo is amazing, which becomes even more so when played in multiplayer. This is THE game to get to play with friends online this year and in my opinion is worth every penny spent, and soon to be spent on its DLC.

ImageTo all you vault hunters out there, times a wastin’. Get yourself a gun, grab your friends and get out there! All the loot in Pandora is yours for the taking, and getting revenge on Handsome Jack, is at the top of your list!

Vanquish your enemies! With a super cool suit!

Its been a long time and with a long, LONG break. Its time to get back into the rhythm of things. More game reviews and daily life updates are back on track. Lets get back into it with the first game review. Its an old release, but I haven’t played it, so this review will count. Lets get to it.

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I have to say, this game is a ton of fun. The moment I booted it into the PS3 and finished the training mode, I was glued to the TV for at least 2 hours. The game play is smooth and chaotic  at the same time. Not to mention it looks jawdroppingly beautiful. Dave (main character) is in suit which is amazingly gorgeous to look at, and his gun is just as detailed. not to mention when you swap guns, he doesn’t put it away, it freaking TRANSFORMS right into the different gun!

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It makes good use of the Havok Engine which creates a very streamlined feel. I never felt confused or lost control of the action despite the chaos of bullets, rockets and lasers exploding all around. The scoring system where players who perform amazingly, can place themselves on an online competitive list.

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And the suit does so much more than allow you to oggle at. Instead of your typical dashing movement, the suit gives you the ability to drive around the map. By holding down onto the L2 button, Dave crouches down and stretches out where the suit then blasts out a jet like engine allowing him to maneuver around the battlefield with ease. Add in a dash of bullet time as well. This ability is very useful in many battles and in some boss fights it becomes absolutely necessary.

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Weapons are somewhat limited, but not so limited that you’ll get bored. For example, you have your standard fare, machine gun, shotgun and sniper rifles, but then they showcase some more sci-fi type guns such as multi-tracking lasers, Razor disc gun and a Light Frequency Gun (LFG) which fires an orb of gravity that devastates everything in a moving radius. Only two types of grenades, Frag and EMP’s. Did I also mention that all these guns are up-gradable? That’s right, throughout the game, there are upgrade drops which are collected and automatically upgrades your currently equipped weapon. Upgrades can range from extended ammo clips, greater firepower and additional attributes.

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And enemies are varied quite well to keep you on your toes. Never usually just groups of the same type, the game gives a decent challenge by mixing most enemy groups with 2 to 3 types of enemy types, ranging from mass made grunts, to sniper\shock trooper and large powerful mechs, Tougher difficulties will push you to maximizing your abilities and making full use of all weapons at your disposal with bullet time.

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Overall I find this game VERY satisfying. It was fun, challenging, exciting and just the thing if I ever get in the mood for a sci-fi 3rd person shooter. Boss challenges are varied, large in size and well made. Weapon choices are entertaining, offering me upgrades makes me like playing with all of them, rather than stick with just a few favorites. Story is decent and the voice actors are just barely acceptable, it is first and foremost a shooter aimed at action rather than becoming the next space opera, and I’m ok with that.

There are a few quirks that I found slightly distracting, but its not game breaking. One example is the full melee attack sucks up your energy, which is used for dashing around and bullet time, which when depleted causes an overheat, where Dave travels much slower and is a sitting duck to enemy fire. So full melee attacks and movement are critical in use, but are meant to be used sparingly.

Definitely a game to play and one to keep in your library. Its been well received for action and detailed graphical models, but it ranked lower due to its story and lack of multiplayer. Pick this game up or rent it, if you can’t find any more copies for sale.

“New Game” “Press Start” “Round 1” “Write!”

Hadoken!  Shoryuken!

Are the words I would love to hear come the time I finally start playing Marvel VS Capcom 3 when its released. Its one of the games I’m waiting, and thats cool, because of all the fighting games with its Godlike combo makers and brutal fatalities, MVC is practically the only brawler game that stuck to me since the beginning. I appreciated how the characters were comic styled and not trying too look too realistic with rather dodgy movement animations like the earlier Mortal Kombat games.

And besides, its the clash of two major comic players, Capcom and Marvel. Capcom has a team of stupendous and hard hitting fighters that have epic back stories with the skills to match any foe that comes their way, and because they have their Japanese origins, each skill set is flashy and epic with a touch of cool and Zen like posterity to their likeness. On Marvel’s side, you got all the action packed supers. Ranging from mutants to iron clad men, you have the American side of superheros that deal damage first and talk later,kind of heroes. The rugged and the refined all together.  Each one showcasing a beautiful display of colorful skills an deft finesse to their combos and breakers.

With this 5th installment of the VS Capcom series, after what has been years since the last game MVC 2. It is great news to see many of our old favorites return with an all new re skinning in 3D as well as new additions to the roster of playable fighters.  There are 40 in total with which 30 are already confirmed and revealed. For a complete list of characters, you can check it out at Wikipedia. And for screenshots as well as some gameplay videos, you can go here. As for the video showing you some of the characters in the intro movie you can see it here on Youtube. They have Amaterasu from Okami!! Thank you Capcom! =D

The visuals are BEAUTIFUL and they do not hold back on keeping each character to heart with new improvements. Ammy has many of her core skills from Okami and Ryu can do his Hadoken at various directions now, similarly Iron Man’s beam can be fired at a 45′ angle for awesome combo making. It gets even more insane now with the newer characters, anyone can have the showdone they have always dreamed off, want to see a fight between Chris and The Hulk? Done, want to see Dante take on Deadpool? Done, How about a tag team of Amaterasu and Viewtiful Joe against Dormammu? Or Wolverine agains Ryu?! Here it is!

I’m giddy as hell to get this game and I’m sure many of us in Malaysia are as well to get to unraveling the timing for executing perfect combos and learning newer strategies to take down our opponents. With online play, which they MUST have included, this will bring in a whole new world of competitive play for us here. So with the start of a new year and my final semester as well, this game will definitely be one of many amazing highlights for me this 2011!