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Review: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (PS4)

acv-gi-bg1For as long as I could remember, there’s always been something very amazing about Assassins. They could attack from anywhere at any time, they are skilled combatants, and are never prone to fear. Let’s not forget they always look really cool, right? While I possess none of these qualities (except for a sweet collection of graphic tees, which I think are really cool), I’ve always wanted to know more about Assassins. So naturally Assassin’s Creed is a fantastic series to dive into.

While Ubisoft wasn’t the first video game company to go with the Assassin theme for a video game, they’ve definitely received quite a bit of recognition for Assassin’s Creed, and fans were pretty blown out of the water. Players were given these mysterious stylish characters who could do the unthinkable. This sandbox-style game had it all. Huge open world maps, fun stories, and great gameplay. Spanning over 8 years, 2 generations of consoles, and over 9 titles in the series, Ubisoft really beefed up their arsenal with this franchise.

The latest title in the Assassin’s Creed saga, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, takes place in late 19th century London during the end of the Industrial Revolution (my favorite period in history!), following twins Jacob and Evie Frye as they strive to take London’s freedom back from those nasty Templars led by Crawford Starrick. Without going into too much detail to ruin the plot for you, our beloved assassin twins seek to take control of London through forming their own gang, slowly working towards taking down Starrick’s organization. This is the first Assassin’s Creed game in the series to not only feature two playable characters, but to have a female at the helm of the game. Whether this was in response to the backlash they received about the lack of female characters in the series, or simply a natural decision they made, this gives their latest title a refreshing feel.

The gameplay is very exciting. The fact that both twins have separate styles really adds a nice sense of freedom to the game. Whether you want to be the loud-mouthed Jacob Frye, the rebellious British bad boy, or the stealthy Evie Frye, who takes her targets from the shadows, your options are there. While certain missions do require you to play as a specific twin, Ubisoft picks no favorites among the twins as both play their own respective roles in the story to free London.

After an intense amount of binging Metal Gear Solid 5 and Batman: Arkham Knight, I was going into the game fully thinking I would take on Evie Frye as my favorite character, but I really do enjoy Jacob’s personality more, as we all need a little British rogue in our lives, right? While the twins each have their own unique playstyle, you can do the sidequests with either, and I just naturally went for the charming hunky male character. That’s not weird, right?

Players get to choose between 3 different styles of weapons to use for their melee combat: the assassin’s kukri, the hidden cane sword, and a pair of brass knuckles, with each style offering its own benefits to the game’s combat. The Kukri offers more damage, with a more heavy focus on swift kills; the cane-sword and the brass knuckles provide a higher stun rate, which allows you to perform more combos while battling more than one opponent. While the options are nice, especially with the inclusion of achievements for multi-kills, I prefer a more direct approach to combat, killing my enemies one by one. I’m not going to lie though, those multi-kill scenes are pretty amazing.

One of the new features that I’m surprised hasn’t been added into previous Assassin’s Creed titles is the Grapple hook. With the ability to scale tall buildings in seconds and remain on rooftops by connecting a zipline is both very cool and a real time saver. With the environment being as large as it is, a quick means of getting to your destination is vital to keeping players hooked. You can even assassinate enemies while ziplining too! Nothing is sexier than assassinating someone mid-air, right? Right.

One of the biggest drawbacks I had with the game was driving the blasted carriage. While the game strives for an accurate representation of London’s roads in the late 1800’s, I find it really irritating. London’s roads are tiny and the carriages are simply too large. When there is traffic, you can imagine navigating through it is a challenge in its own right. The controls aren’t very smooth either. Turning is a pain, and even carriage battles are rough. I get more joy getting off a carriage and walking to my destination than I do getting onto one to drive somewhere. It’s about as smooth as Arkham Knight‘s Batmobile, which makes me fear for London’s gorgeous architecture…

Since I was fortunate enough to get Austin Wintory to give me an interview, I thought I’d talk about the game’s soundtrack as well. The music is absolutely fantastic, and I find that it really helps set the tone for the setting and events as you move along. Whether for things like getting tough during a mission or scoring a sweet victory, the music changes to fit the specific mood, and it really breathes life into the game. Being an avid fan of video game music, I find that this element is just as important to setting up the game as the story, as music is one of the bigger components that makes or breaks an experience for me.

Since Assassin’s Creed is a large sandbox title, having a lot to do within the giant city you’re in is important. With Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, one of the many side-quests you have to complete involves taking over London’s various territories led by the Templar’s top brass. While I’m always up for a good ol’ fashioned gang war, this is actually one of the parts of the game where I have to give it a lower score than the rest. While the missions themselves can be very exciting at first, they don’t change per territory so much as the difficulty of the computer level is just increased. You have 4 different types of missions just thrown on repeat. While some have special objectives to get bonus rewards of EXP and money, they aren’t too difficult either. One of the downsides to the sidequests is that most of them are available to you right away, despite some of them having certain bonus requirements can only be met by completing more of the main story quests. With subtle hints about the objectives, I’ve missed some opportunities only because it wasn’t recommended that I have a specific tool that I was supposed to get later in the story.

One of the biggest joys I’ve had out of the game so far was the DLC content. While there were a couple of busts, most of them were pretty entertaining. I’ve really been enjoying the Penny Dreadful and Darwin and Dickens stories simply because they’re such a refreshing break from the usual gang territory takeovers. Being a huge fan of mysteries and great stories, the DLC side-quests are very exciting despite other reviewers claiming they’re a bit lackluster. Finding clues to a murder suspect is very exciting and makes me feel like an old world vigilante detective (All we need is a bat symbol and a cape!).

One of the biggest reasons I enjoy a good sandbox title is the fact that there is a large sense of freedom. If there’s one thing I love almost as much as a good story and fantastic music, it’s the ability to explore. Finding nice views where I can idle and listen to a soundtrack is simply the best. And since I can’t do parkour, nor do I have any sweet gadgets to get me anywhere in the real world (yet), video games are the closest things I get to having an epic adventure. Sandbox titles do have significant drawbacks though, too much space can be a bad thing too. With the great technology comes great responsibility. Nobody needs a giant map with nothing to do, right? So thank the video game heavens that Assassin’s Creed has plenty of side-quests that keep you busy, despite a bit of repetition.

All in all the game is pretty fantastic. I’ve been playing since the release and can’t put it down. With a plethora of missions, side-quests, and achievements to accomplish this game will keep you busy for many weeks to come. Let’s not forget that the Season Pass offers more missions, and a Jack the Ripper questline, which I am very excited to try out!

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is available on both the Playstation 4 and X-box One with a PC release coming out later this Holiday season. The Season Pass Bundle is $29.99 and available now with more content coming out soon. I’m looking forward to what Ubisoft will throw at us!

I hope you enjoyed my review and thanks for reading!

Gameplay: 9 Story: 9 Music: 9 Side-quest: 7 Overall score: 8.5

Interview with Austin Wintory (Composer of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate)

assassins-creed-syndicate-header-2When it comes to video games, music is a very powerful tool that can make or break an experience. It can be used to motivate you to complete your objective, boost morale to play better, set the tone for an environment or scene, or even do all the opposite. Often times I find myself playing a title and wishing the score was better so I could really dive into it. In a day and age where video games are becoming the norm, people need an experience that can take them away from the harshness of reality, and music is one of these elements that often gets the least amount of love in this market, despite being a key tool that really serves as the sweet frosting on cake. And who doesn’t enjoy frosting? (Save it, you dieters. Frosting is amazing.)

When discussing games with friends, I seem to be the only one interested in the music, while everyone else seems to dismiss it entirely. It often breaks my heart to be the only one who thoroughly enjoys the music from titles, because I feel that’s the one of the bigger components that makes or breaks a title for me. Even if the gameplay is fantastic, if the music is awful it just makes me want play it less and less.

While video games have definitely seen a drastic change over the 30+ years they’ve been accessible to the public, the music has been one of the elements that has undergone the biggest development. Developers didn’t have the technology to add instruments and vocals back in the 80’s like they do now, so the ability to create music fitting for a title wasn’t easy. Nowadays we’re fortunate enough to have more at our disposal to undergo an experience that’s out of this world.

Now I’m sure I’m not the only one who has epic spy music playing in my head when I’m sneaking around, right? No? Just me? Drat. Well needless to say, when it comes to being an assassin/ninja and sneaking around, one of the biggest things that I need is a sweet soundtrack to fit the tone of what I’m doing. It gives a depth of flare to my life! So naturally the best person talk to about that is Austin Wintory, the composer of the next Assassin’s Creed title: Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, right? Right.

So without further ado, here’s the interview!

Graphic Policy (Michael): You’ve been composing the music for video games for quite some time now, but I see you’ve also composed music for films as well. Do you find composing a track for a video game to be different than that of a film?

Austin Wintory: At the end of the day, what matters most is if I feel I was able to write worthy music. And by that I mean music, which justifies its own existence. Something that’s got personality and perspective and is worthy of the film or game it was written for. So in that sense, composing film music and game music, or concert music, or anything else, are really not that different. Music is music. But once you get your hands dirty and go deeper you realize that they actually are QUITE different. The interactivity of games sets them extremely apart from films. It’s difficult to summarize without being very long-winded but I will just say that in terms of the details they are very distinct from each other.

Graphic Policy: Music is such a powerful tool used in video games; be it a track that motivates you to save the princess and free the Mushroom Kingdom, or through using sound as a tool to help guide players together like in Journey. What were some of the big inspirations you felt with coming up with the music for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and how exactly did you want it impact the players?

Austin Wintory: With all games, or films for that matter, I try to use the project itself as the main inspiration. So Journey was Journey’s inspiration. And in the case of Assassin’s Creed, the game itself, the characters, the writing, the story, all of that was the primary inspiration. So you have this Victorian London setting, and two principal characters of sibling assassins Jacob and Evie. They have a particularly strong personality and an interesting dynamic between them that’s sort of irreverent and sarcastic, and that played a big part in figuring out how the score should feel. So even though I mentioned the time period of the 1860s, I didn’t really go out of my way to make it some so-called “period-authentic” score. Nonetheless, I would call the score in a way “Neo-Mendelssohn,” because I tried to channel this wonderful dancing quality that I find in Mendelssohn’s chamber music. It just so happens that that would be somewhat authentic to the period but it’s mainly that it feels right. The way in which I’d love for it to impact players is simply to enhance the game experience! One of the things I love about games is that we don’t really go out of our way to dictate the kind of experience the player “should” have. I see it as us creating a sandbox full of tools and toys that the player can then assemble kind of freely, and allow them to experience whatever they’d like. So my goal is to be part of the tool-set that lets them have whatever kind of experience that they want. Though obviously that’s through the lens of my perspective. So we’re not giving them a completely wide-open set of possibilities; it’s not objective, but we are nonetheless trying to give them more than just a rigorously defined experience the way a film might. Of course even as I say that, great films are very often subject to interpretation, so maybe I am simply stating the obvious.

GP: In your interview with Ubisoft, you explained that you’ve been a longtime fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. Did your experience with playing previous titles give you help with composing the tracks for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate?

AW: Most definitely yes, and also that familiarity with the franchise can give me a springboard to clarify something. I didn’t really compose “tracks” for the game, in fact no game score would I say I really compose ‘tracks.” I would call them cues, because “tracks” implies that they are linear pieces of music like you could just throw onto a CD or MP3 player and play back immediately. But the music in the game is often deeply interactive, and multi-layered, and full of algorithms that will change the way in which you change the music in real time. So for example, because I had played the previous games I was very familiar with the concept of the “reach high point.” These are the moments in the game which you climb up to some noteworthy landmark and “synchronize,” revealing things on the map, etc. Those moments are always intended to be kind of these beautiful little islands within an otherwise very action-driven game. I was deeply familiar with them because of it being such a core moment within every prior AC. However “reach high points” are not scored with some single linear track, it’s actually a series of interactive cues which sculpt the players experience as they are rising, and then ultimately performing the “leap of faith.” Had I never played any of the previous games, I would have had a lot of catching up to do to really appreciate how big a part of the overall experience these moments are. But because I was so familiar, I was able to immediately start coming up with ways to hopefully make it interesting and dynamic. It’s not one size fits all the way a linear track would necessarily be.

GP: I saw that you did a track for The Order: 1886. With that taking place in the same time period as Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, did your previous experience in dealing with late 19th century London help you to compose tracks for this title?

AW: In the case of The Order 1886, that was Jason Graves’ score for which he and I co-wrote the main thematic material. So I didn’t actually even write that first track on the album, it’s something that he and I co-wrote and which he then drew from when writing the rest of the score. So my job was very specific there. Additionally, that game was an alternate history of Victorian London, so even though the time period was similar, and the setting was technically the same, the context for that setting was distinctly different. There are no wildly futuristic elements to Assassins Creed like there were in The Order, and also the storyline, and the characters, and the motivations, and all that were radically different. A story of the knights of the round table persisting into the industrial revolution, and fighting werewolves in dark alleys, is a completely different game from an eternal struggle between assassins and templars in Victorian London (never thought I’d say that sentence!). So in my mind, because the music is always coming from “who are these characters and what is this story?” there was no real overlap, I would say. So it didn’t help nor hinder.

GP: From a game where there was no dialogue and just music and sounds, and to a game about assassination, has working on the music for Assassin’s Creed proved to be a different experience from your previous work with video game soundtracks? If so, how?

AW: Well certainly every game is different from the rest, and in some cases dramatically so. There is no question that Journey and Assassins Creed have very little in common in terms of the experience of playing the game. But at the end of the day, the underlying concept of just trying to write music that really faithfully captures the player experience is the same. So it doesn’t really matter that the games themselves are so different, my philosophy is unchanged. It’s hard to get more specific than this without breaking down each individual game that I’ve worked on but basically yes, they are all very different and that’s one of the things I love about scoring games. There is never a boring day on the job. You never know what to expect.

GP: Time travel plays a huge role in the Assassin’s Creed titles, despite the games taking place primarily in earlier time periods, did you utilize any concepts of a modern day or a somewhat futuristic tone for certain tracks in the game or did you stick with music that fit the setting of London in the late 1800’s?

AW: Well, bear in mind that Assassins Creed is not actually about time travel, it’s about people in the future using technology to look back into the past. So the game’s settings really are in that past, even though in theory were looking at it through the lens of someone seeing it from the future. And that has played a big part of the aesthetic of the scores in the previous games; they very often sought to channel that futuristic sci-fi quality with cool analog synths and things like that. I thought Sarah Schachner on Unity did a particularly good job at blending those things. However that was not the goal here, the present day aspects are actually pretty minimal in this game, and we also made the aesthetic choice to let those moments play on their own so there is very little in terms of music then. It’s really solely preoccupied with Victorian London. Thus it was with the score.

GP: With some video games having a production cost that can rival films in Hollywood, has working on a title as big and popular as Assassin’s Creed provided more pressure on you than other titles you’ve worked on?

AW: I wouldn’t really say so; certainly the overall size of the score was bigger than average, but I’m no stranger to elaborate productions, from both films and games. For example, a game like The Banner Saga, even though that was a relatively small independent game, the scope and production of the score was really only slightly smaller than that of Assassin’s Creed. So I wouldn’t really say that there was more pressure. I tend to put more pressure on myself than any outside entity could ever hope to!

GP: With music being a conduit to set the tone for the game’s plot and setting, what was the main process for composing tracks for the game itself? Were you given footage from the game to match to a scene or a storyboard you had to read?

AW: For me it’s all about play testing. I spend a lot of time with the game and really try to internalize how it moves and how it feels. And once again it was really really helpful to have played the previous entries of this franchise so thoroughly because I was less reliant on play-testing for this as a result. I try not to ever get caught in a situation of having to write music in a vacuum. By that I mean, writing music to a scene which is being described in some spreadsheet somewhere but which I have no real connection to. So I read the script, I would spend a lot of time playing the game, but then also in situations where I was not able to play the game myself the team at Ubisoft would do captures for me which I would then send follow up questions to and they would do additional captures as a way of answering my questions. So I would have them do for me the things that I would do myself if I had been playing. I would say to them “instead of going up the side of the building, can you jump and tackle that guy in the street,” because that would have been how I tested the game in that moment. They happily obliged me throughout the process. I should use this as a segue to really point out that the team at Ubisoft were absolute dreams to work with. Audio director Lydia Andrew and musical supervisor Christian Pacaud were absolute perfect collaborators. Couldn’t have had a better crew to work with.

GP: Were there any specific moments in your life that inspired certain tracks for the game? Maybe you dropped something on the ground and it had the perfect tune you were looking for? Perhaps a bowl of cereal that crunched just the right kind of way to inspire you? Possibly a bird chirping outside your window at 5am?

AW: I’m afraid my answer to this is yes, but nothing like the examples you provided. I actually suffered some very huge personal losses during this project and that played a very large part in my creative process. I don’t want to drag you through a long difficult story but the short version is that just days before I began, my father rather suddenly lost a battle to cancer after falling sick only weeks earlier. So my music started with a note of intense grieving as I tried to reconcile that. Then a few months later as I was near finishing the project, the same thing happened to one of my closest friends. There are a lot of specific moments in the score that I could point to as representative of my dealing with these losses in that moment. But I’ll just leave it at that for now.

GP: We see a strong separation in both Evie and Jacob’s personality and their styles of gameplay; with the ability to switch between them freely, will this also feature a switch in tracks? Have you specifically written different tracks for each sibling, or a single song that really captures the essence of both?

AW: Well I will once again specify that the score does not really consist of “tracks” or songs, but nonetheless your intuition is absolutely correct. Instead of having different themes or leitmotifs for Jacob and Evie, I have a single theme that represents them collectively because their story arc is a shared one. It’s all about the journey they go on together and the ways in which they grow apart and come back together, etc. But that said I do assign different colors to them. Specifically I have a solo violin played by Sandy Cameron, that I associate with Jacob, and a solo cello played by Tina Guo that I associate with Evie. So, in the areas of the game where you have specific missions that force you to play as one or the other character you will always hear that specific instrument featured. Then during the open world moments where you can switch back and forth freely, I recorded separate violin and cello solos within a given passage and the system will automatically toggle the soloist based on whichever character you’re playing as. So that way players will have different experience throughout the game musically based on who they’re playing.

GP: Any particular track you had the most amount of fun composing? Was it an epic fight track or possibly just a nice song to idle to?

AW: I put so much work into every moment of music in the game that it’s difficult to play favorites. Referencing my answer before about the losses that I endured during the writing process, there are some moments that are my own little private homages to those people. I snuck personal references and things into the score of my history with both my dad and my good friend. But other than that, I would say that the entire score was a joy to do. I really loved that the combat music ended up taking this almost ballet-like dancing quality. And so any time I was writing combat music I found myself wanting to leap to my feet and that’s just a great feeling. The grand finale of the game, on the subject of epic fights, is kind of a triple concerto where I finally bring out a third soloist, the pianist, played by Iain Farrington. This was a big show piece that was an absolute blast to do because it really let the three star musicians come together and just sizzle.

GP: With the Templars being the primary antagonists of the game, did you aim to give them a type of gothic theme that’s more commonly used, or did you plan to go with a different kind of genre?

AW: The templars actually don’t have their own theme in the score, which was something that I advocated for with Ubisoft because I really wanted to make it about Jacob and Evie, primarily. But that said, much of this game is preoccupied on a story level about the rise of industrialization, and the way in which this era brought out certain types of personalities, like thieving robber barons that were quick to take advantage of people. Because that’s a thread that all the villains tend to have in common, a thirst for power and a thirst for influence which often is expressed through money, I decided to treat that as an almost religious idea. There are moments in the game where I go for a kind of cathedral or religiously mystical aesthetic, and those are always the moments associated with the villains. So I would say that the templars don’t have a theme, so much as this intentionally ironic religioso aesthetic.

GP: Easter Eggs in video games has become such a norm whether it be some small dialogue, a picture somewhere referencing something, or even hidden scenes. Do you have any extra tracks that you were tasked to compose for any of these kinds of segments? If there were, did you know you were doing them for that specific part?

AW: There are definitely easter eggs, and if I told you, they wouldn’t really be easter eggs now would they??? ;)

GP: I know there are certain developers who like to put staff and crew into the game as little extras. Will we be seeing you in the game at all composing music, or struggling over writing a song in one of the many British taverns? Maybe a side-quest involving finding your missing music sheets?

AW: I wish! That would have been great fun and I have done this sort of thing before; I have on-screen cameos in several movies I’ve scored, for example. But in this case, my presence is purely musical. Though there are definitely some surprises in the spirit of what you’re asking about…

GP: Since you’ve been a fan of the series, which title is your favorite, and are there any particular weapons and characters you’ve found more appealing than others?

AW: Like so many others, I would say that my favorite was Black Flag, and part of what I loved about it was how stunningly beautiful it was and how easily the notion of an assassin translated to high seas pirating and that sort of thing.

GP: What was it about Assassin’s Creed that really drew you into the series?

AW: I always loved the sense of movement, loved the freedom, I loved the way the game felt under my fingers. I’m usually much more of a PC gamer but this was one of the rare instances where it really really made me love playing it on my Playstation. In terms of Syndicate, what drew me to it was how eager Ubisoft were to experiment and try something new with the score. And that would have been a draw no matter what the franchise was, I suppose.

GP: I heard you joke about a baton dagger in your interview with Ubisoft, any chance we’ll be seeing Austin Wintory as an assassin in the next Assassin’s Creed title? Assassin’s Creed: Traveling Orchestra perhaps?

AW: I’m not currently engaged to work on any other Assassins Creed games, but you never know what the future will bring. I certainly am planning to perform the music on-stage in a variety of different contexts, so maybe I will conduct from a hidden blade wrist baton of some kind!

When it comes to loss, it’s a difficult trial to bounce back from, so I’m very glad to hear that Austin was able to make something amazing out of his ordeal in order to pay tribute to his dearly departed. I can certainly relate, as the recent loss of my own father was the reason I ultimately took the plunge into writing. My sincerest condolences to you, Austin, and I know the game will be fantastic with your beautiful music. I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to take my interview. Thank you to Austin’s publicist and the rest of the people at Ubisoft!

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate comes out October 23rd for the Playstation 4 and X-box One and November 19th for PC fans. Stay tuned for a review when the game releases! Thanks for reading!

Assassin’s Creed Returns to Comics from Titan Comics

UBISOFT logoTitan Comics has announced it has secured the license to publish Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed comics!

Assassin’s Creed is one of the most popular franchises in the video game industry, with more than 93 million units sold since its inception in 2007. Over time, Assassin’s Creed has broadened its reach into numerous media beyond games, enriching the Assassin’s Creed lore for the joy of many fans.

Titan comics will soon expand the realm of Assassin’s Creed visual storytelling with the creation of a brand new comic series.

The first 5-part arc will be illustrated by the artist of Doctor Who: Four Doctors – Neil Edwards!

There have been numerous volumes of comics already released based on the game. Some are cannon and some haven’t been. The last few volumes were released by Wildstorm and DC Comics.

Ubisoft E3 Press Event – Live Reaction

Alright, here is our last live reaction press event of the day: Ubisoft. Yes, Sony is after this, but I will have to give a post-show reaction later tonight as I will be in a movie theater for the PlayStation E3 Experience. I may have to duck out before the end of Ubisoft to get there, but hopefully not.  Anyway, exciting stuff ahead: Assassin’s Creed, The Division and much more! Get ready!

This page will not automatically refresh. I will put the latest update at the top of the list, so if you join us late, scroll down. Here is the full E3 coverage schedule, so stick with us.

Update 11: Nope, playable on the floor and in a few cities across the globe. Yves is back for one last thing. Fighting a drug cartel as a tactical team…this looks incredible. Open world. Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Bam. Ubisoft is the winner so far. I give that a B. New IP announcements, showing more from what we are curious about, but too much time spent on not the games. Alright, time to run for Sony. Check out my write-up later.

Update 10: Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate time. Victorian London, here we come. Streets covered with filth, a gray haze to the industrialized air. Think you can cook? He’s got a grappling hook. Lots of new elements coming forward in time. More firearms, more vehicles, jumping from carriage to carriage, and building your gang. No game play yet, but it looks cool, and I think we are abut to change that.

Update 9: Beta starts September 24th. TrackMania a customizable arcade cart racer is coming to consoles. It is like if you could actually drive your Hot Wheels tracks that you made as a kid. It is fast and ridiculous. It also has a random track generator.

Update 8: Rainbow Six: Siege gets a great trailer staring Angela Bassett, who comes out on stage. She is the deputy director of the Rainbow team. Then we get a mini-interview with her. It is fine, but doesn’t tell us anything new about the game. Here comes the info though. Terror Hunt mode is back- playable solo or coop against AI opponents. They show us a level that was pretty intense. The team had to go into a consulate and defuse a bomb.

Update 7: We’re still on Just Dance. I guess if you are the biggest seller you get more stage time than is strictly necessary. Available October. Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 players will have access to a dance streaming service that brings new songs and greatest hits to the new game. It is a “Dance on demand streaming service” no talk of price.

Update 6: Just Dance 2016 time. No camera needed, you can use your smartphone as the motion controller. Now, a dance break with Jason Derulo. Apparently Just Dance is now the biggest selling music game of all time. This is worse than Pele. At least Pele had interesting stories. This isn’t even a good performance.

Update 5: Next up is a city builder, but it is set on the moon. Anno 2205, oh cool. You don’t start on the moon, but can get there. The Anno series is a solid sim series, and this looks to continue on that fine record.

Update 4: The Division time. Introducing us to the “dark zone” which seems to be the PVP area? You can work cooperatively or against other players. The demo shows computer enemies and a group of players getting ready to attack for loot. Another group of players show up and their is a brief discussion on if they should attack the other player group. There was no evidence of the two groups being able to communicate. As they wait for extraction, they decide to jump the other player group which ends in two injured from the team and the third member deciding the loot is too great, and takes out his teammates and makes off with all the loot. Betas are coming early next year. Release date is March 8, 2016.

Update 3: Expansion time. The Crew Wild Run Expansion is taking the game off road. Monster trucks, rally cars, drag racing on salt flats. Coming November 17th. Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max expansion is coming. We just got a video of a cat with a gold-plated handgun riding a unicorn. I’ve got nothing.

Update 2: Yves Guillemot, CEO, comes to the stage to present a new IP- vikings and knights fighting…and samurai? Okay, you have my interest. Only a video so far. But it looks brutal and pretty awesome. For Honor is the title. It looks pretty interesting. The Montreal studio is behind this game. High promises for the immersion of the melee battle. We are going to get a demo right now, 4 on 4 on consoles. We have knights against samurai. The combat looks similar from the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but weightier. You seem to play captains on a field of soldiers. It is playable in the booth, which is really impressive for a new IP.

Update 1: South Park: The Stick of Truth is getting a sequel? Yes, South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Hilarious. This time, we are ditching the fantasy for superheroes. Aisha Taylor is once again our host (thank goodness) and now Matt Stone and Trey Parker from South Park are on stage and have already made the Ubisoft press conference the most profanity filled E3 presentation. I personally had a good time with Stick of Truth so it will be interesting to see how this one shapes up without Obsidian.

Dynamite and Ubisoft Team Up for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Echoes!

Dynamite Entertainment has announced it is teaming up with Ubisoft to release Tom Clancy‘s Splinter Cell Echoes, a thrilling comic book series based on the award-winning Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell video game franchise that has sold more than 27 million copies worldwide since its introduction in 2002. The project is written by Nathan Edmondson and art by Marc Laming.

Splinter Cell Echoes takes place between the events of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist. The comic book series bridges the gap between the two games with a realistic, original story that sets the tone for the opening events in Splinter Cell Blacklist.

Sam Fisher, once a Splinter Cell–a clandestine elite operative operating in the shadows of the NSA–is now retired. His enemies, however, are not. Haunted by dreams and memories of his past, he struggles to put his life back together. But when a mysterious terrorist organization called KROWE begins pursuing targets around the globe, Sam’s expertise is needed to uncover their endgame and stop them before the deadly plot unfolds.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Echoes was previously only available in a limited print run as part of the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist Collector’s Edition. Dynamite will release the project as a four issue mini-series shipping July to October, with a collection to be published shortly thereafter. The project will feature new covers by Marc Laming and include bonus behind-the-scenes material in each issue from Ubisoft.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Echoes #1 will be solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ May Previews catalog, the premiere source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release on July 2nd, 2014.


Gen Con 2013: Ubisoft and Might & Magic Cast a Spell on the Show

Might_and_Magic_LogoUbisoft and Might & Magicare set to take over Gen Con 2013, running August 15–18 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Might & Magic Duel of Champions, Might & Magic Heroes Online and three Might & Magic classics will be playable. Additionally, a live demo of Might & Magic X Legacy will be on display for event-goers. Gen Con attendees can come see all of these games in the Wabash 3 Ballroom, open daily from 9 am through 10 pm ET.

Gamers will also have the chance to attend a live Q&A with Erwan Le Breton, creative director behind the Might & Magic franchise, on Thursday, August 15, at 7 pm ET.

Might & Magic Duel of Champions will host a live qualifier for the Road to Paris competition. The Gen Con champion will win a Final Four spot to face off against North American champions from KublaCon, Origins Game Fair and Fan Expo. The North American champion will fly to Paris to compete against the world’s best Might & Magic Duel of Champions players during Paris Games Week. Registration for the Gen Con qualifier starts on Friday, August 16, at 9 am, and the tournament takes place on Saturday, August 17, with the first round scheduled at 10 am and the final match at 7 pm. Gamers can also tune in from home through a Twitch live stream of the event and competition on Friday and Saturday from 3 pm to 9 pm.

Details for the Might & Magic Gen Con appearance include:

  • Might & Magic Duel of Champions and the Road to Paris qualifier. Might & Magic Duel of Champions is an online strategic card game available for play by all attendees on iPad® and PC. Fans can compete for a chance to represent the US in the Road to Paris tournament at Paris Games Week in October.
  • Might & Magic Heroes Online – a turn-based battleground RPG in which players control powerful Heroes and their armies in battle. For the first time in the US, fans will have the opportunity to play the game and register for the game’s VIP community test.
  • Might & Magic X Legacya classic turn-based RPG for PC set to release in 2014 will feature a live demo open to all attendees.
  • Classic Might & MagicGames – fan favorites Might & Magic® Heroes® VI, Heroes of Might & Magic® III and more will be available to play.
  • Fan giveaways – fans will have the opportunity to win limited edition iPads, T-shirts, posters and more!

Around the Tubes

The first day of New York Comic Con is over, on to day 2! You can check out photos at our Facebook page.

Around the Blogs

MPOGD – Ubisoft Announces Splinter Cell Graphic NovelHow isn’t this a regular series?

Comicvine – NYCC 2012: Superman PanelSome cool news.

ICv2 – ‘Arrow’ Sets CW Viewing Records It was ok.

Robot 6 – NYCC | Marvel expands Season One with Thor, Iron Man, WolverineA nice selection.

The Celebrity Cafe – ‘Lost’ showrunner Carlton Cuse, NBC developing adaptation of ‘The Sixth Gun’ graphic novelVery cool.


Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – Stumptown #2

Your Canterbury – Supernatural: The Dogs of Edinburgh

Spandexless – Twisted Dark Volume 3

Little Minx & Ridley Scott’s Prequel Film, Ghost Recon Alpha, on DVD/Blu-ray 5/22 Day & Date with Ubisoft Video Game

Tom Clancy Ghost Recon BD-F

Live-Action/CGI Prequel Film Produced by Little Minx, a Ridley Scott & Associates company,
Releases in the U.S. and Canada on May 22 for the First Time on Blu-ray (HD) and DVD

A sharp-looking little action film…gorgeously shot.” Kotaku 

May 3, 2012 – New York – After a decade-long manhunt, U.S. Intelligence has received new intel on Chevchenko, a mastermind of the world’s most heinous war crimes. Linked to Russian ultranationalists, Chevchenko is about to deliver a dirty bomb large enough to contaminate Moscow for centuries. Enter the Ghosts, the U.S. Army’s most elite Future Soldiers.  These precision-trained and lethal human weapons are armed with the most devastating high-tech combat systems, and they are tasked with taking out Chevchenko and stopping this international catastrophe before it erupts.

On May 22, New Video’s Flatiron Film Company will release Ubisoft Motion Pictures’ TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON ALPHA® on DVD and DVD/Blu-ray combo day-and-date with the release of Ubisoft’s highly-anticipated Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier video game for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Sony PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.

TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON ALPHA* boasts a line-up of top Hollywood talent.  The film was directed by Academy Award winners Hervé de Crécy and François Alaux, who won an Oscar in 2010 for Logorama, and produced by Rhea Scott for Little Minx. Tim Sexton, 2010 Academy Award nominee for Children of Men, and Gregory Pruss, longtime writing collaborator with David Fincher, wrote the gripping script. The film was shot by District 9 cinematographer Trent Opaloch; edited by Pietro Scalia, two-time Academy Award winner for Black Hawk Down and JFK; with sound effects and sound effects editing by Per Hallberg, two-time Academy Award winner for The Bourne Ultimatum and Braveheart as well as Michael Mann’s Heat; production design by Jan Roelfs (Gattaca, Alexander); and costume design by Sammy Sheldon (V for Vendetta, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, Black Hawk Down).  Military Weapons Specialist Harry Humphries, consultant on such notable action films such as Transformers, Thor, Iron Man and Armageddon, ensured that the futuristic weaponry in the film was entirely realistic.

TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON ALPHA* is the 25-minute prequel film to the video game Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier and follows the Ghosts as they are dropped deep behind enemy lines in order to eliminate one of the world’s most sought-after war criminals. DVD/BD bonus features include the producers’ 2010 Comic-Con teaser and a “Making Of” featurette.

Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon brand launched in 2001 and the franchise has sold more than 18 million video game units worldwide. This is Flatiron Film Company’s second Ubisoft release, following ASSASSIN’S CREED: LINEAGE (November 2011).

Pricing:               $14.95 US/$16.95 CAN
Runtime:             50 mins., inc. extras
Rating:                NR
Catalog #:           NNVG262360
Language:           English
Color:                 Color
Audio Format:     Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Genre:                 Action

DVD Single
Pricing:               $7.95 US/$9.95 CAN
Runtime:             50 mins., inc. extras
Rating:                NR
Catalog #:           NNVG262370
Language:           English
Color:                 Color
Audio Format:    Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Genre:                Action

About New Video:
New Video is a leading entertainment distributor and the largest aggregator of independent digital content worldwide. Headquartered in New York City, with an international presence in 45 territories, the company delivers feature films, TV programs and web originals via digital download, streaming, video-on-demand, Blu-ray, DVD, and theatrical release. In 2011, New Video bowed Oscar®-nominated Hell and Back Again and South American blockbuster Elite Squad: The Enemy Within in US theaters. Through a new partnership with digital exhibitor Cinedigm Entertainment Group, New Video is poised to bring more independent films to theaters nationwide. New Video streamlines distribution and marketing for filmmakers and partners, bringing a wide variety of fresh content to new audiences. The company’s library includes original TV series and movies from A+E® Home Entertainment, HISTORY™, and Lifetime®, unforgettable games and trophy sets from Major League Baseball®, storybook treasures from Scholastic®, award-winning documentaries from Docurama Films®, next-gen indies from Flatiron Film Company®, and acclaimed independent films and festival picks through partnerships with the Sundance Institute and Tribeca Film. New Video is proud to distribute many Oscar®-nominated documentaries including GasLand, Waste Land, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory and Hell and Back Again.