A week in gaming: Killzone 3 open beta; Namco Bandai announcements and other miscellany

I've gotten so many press releases and other tidbits of news lately that I thought I'd try something a little different this week: a wide-ranging wrap-up of game news. I'll try to keep doing this in the weeks ahead, but no promises. I'm kind of lazy.

A FREE FRAGFEST

You can try some of the multiplayer modes of the upcoming PlayStation 3 title "Killzone 3" for free right now by downioading the game's open beta from the PlayStation Store.

For the low, low price of nothing at all, you get access to one giant map, Frozen Dam, and three game modes: Warzone, where the objectives keep changing; Guerrilla Warfare, team deathmatch by another name; and Operations, a story-driven mode. I haven't tried the last one yet, so I can't describe it any better. If you don't want to play against real people online, you can play in the Botzone, which is Warzone against AI-controlled opponents.

The beta supports both the Move control system and 3-D televisions, and it is scheduled to run until Feb. 15, 2011. The full game is scheduled for release on Feb. 22, 2011.

Note: Because Sony considers this a beta, not a demo, you won't find it in PlayStation Store's demo area. The easiest way to find it is just to use the store's search bar.

SO MANY GAMES

Namco Bandai has filled my inbox with an incredible amount of game announcements this week.

The biggest news, in my opinion, was the release of details about two games the company is releasing in partnership with developer FromSoftware: "Dark Souls" and "Armored Core V."

OK, "Dark Souls" has me the most excited. It appears to be a spirtual successor, if not direct descendant, of the 2009 hit "Demon's Souls." Namco Bandai describes it as an action RPG "set in a rich, dark fantasy universe. Tense dungeon crawling, fearsome enemy encounters and groundbreaking online features combine for a truly unique RPG experience. 'Dark Souls' breaks down barriers with a seamless world design that encourages exploration and fosters an adaptable gameplay experience. As players encounter terrifying enemies and discover new areas, the unerring foundation of challenge and reward permeates to offer an unparalleled sense of achievement."

A bit hyperbolic, perhaps, as press releases often are, but still the game looks great — though the idea of fighting armor-clad, shield-holding dragons intimidates me a bit. (Trailer here.) "Dark Souls" is slated for release this year on PS3 and Xbox 360.

"Armored Core V," scheduled for release on both systems sometime next year, continues long-running series of mech combat games. Namco Bandai promises it will have "more content than the previous games, a completely new atmosphere and a robust offline mode." (Trailer here.)

Namco Bandai also announced that it has obtained the North American rights to publish games about the "Power Rangers."  The initial focus will be on creating games to go along with the upcoming TV series "Power Rangers Samurai."

Other games announced by Namco Bandai:

— "DualPenSports" for Nintendo 3DS, this spring. The game promises to have seven sports minigames, including boxing, soccer and archery, and will somehow involve training both hands to improve coordination.

— "Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions" for 3DS, this year. In "Pac-Man Tilt," players will use motion-controls to maneuver the pellet-munching hero. "Galaga 3D Impact" will use similar concept to allow players to shoot down hordes of alien ships.

— "Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3" for Xbox 360 and PS3, this summer. In partnership with Tecmo Koei Games, this title combines the hack-and-slash mechanics of "Dynasty Warriors" with the giant, robot battle suits of the Gundam universe. It promises to have more than 50 playable characters, more than 70 Mobile Suits for them to wear and a few new gameplay additions.

— "Ridge Racer Unbounded" for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, no release date set. This next chapter in the street-racing series will add destruction to the mix.

NO LONGER EXCLUSIVE

Bethesda Softworks announced Friday that "Dead Money," an addition to "Fallout: New Vegas" previously exclusive to the Xbox 360, will be available for download on PS3 and PC on Feb. 22, 2011.

The company also revealed that three add-on packs will be released in the coming months, simultaneously on all platforms.

READY TO RUMBLE?

Sega has been steadily releasing info about PlatinumGames' next title, "Anarchy Reigns." Scheduled for release this fall on Xbox 360 and PS3, "Anarchy Reigns" will be an attempt at a multiplayer brawler — and I don't think they mean one-on-one fights. While they haven't specified, I'm pretty sure it will be two-on-two at the very least, as tag-team battles have been promised. So has a royal rumble mode.

So far, they've introduced four characters:

— Big Bull, (first image below) whose brain is encased in a robotic minotaur suit.

— Jack, (second image) a guy with a retractable double chainsaw fitted on his right arm, a la "Evil Dead 2" and "Army of Darkness."

— Zero, (third) a high-tech armored ninja who wields two katanas.

— Sasha, (fourth) a busty female whose special nanomachine-equipped suit creates and fires ice-coated blades.

 

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