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About Greg Hale

I've been an avid PC gamer since the days of DOS and the original Duke Nukems, though I've also dipped into the world of consoles. My primary poison is those of the shooter and MMORPG variety, in which I've stayed competitive for over a decade. Lately, however, I've been branching off into more strategy-based games, such as League of Legends and StarCraft II.


Overview of TopWare Interactive's E3 2011 Lineup

by Greg Hale on June 16, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m. PDT

We met up with TopWare Interactive at E3 2011 to check out their games lineup. Among the titles were Check vs. Mate, Raven's Cry, Scivelation and the Two Worlds II: Pirates of the Flying Fortress expansion.

Raven's Cry (PS3/X360/PC)

The first game we took a look at in Topware's lineup was Raven's Cry. While other pirate games tend to stick to the fanciful, romantic take on the 17th century Caribbean pirate lifestyle, this title significantly differs in that regard. Christopher Raven was only a seven-year-old boy when his family was killed, he was kidnapped, and he had his hand cut off by a band of pirates. Now an adult, Raven is seeking vengeance against them via any means possible. The gameplay was only shown as a video but takes place in an isometric perspective and centers mainly around on-foot combat. The game also features some ship-based gameplay, both in captaining a vessel as well as taking the fighting to the decks.

Raven's Cry's dark, gritty look is appealing, but the game still has some development left under its hat before one can tell how well it plays. It will feature cooperative play when it does, even allowing one player to steer the ship while the other fends off enemies from the deck. In essence, it's a game where you play as pirate Batman, and it could be something to keep an eye on once it gets closer to release.

Check vs. Mate (3DS/Wii/PSP/PS3/X360/PC)

Check vs. Mate is a game that should be immediately familiar to fans of games like Battle Chess, where the pieces actually fight one another to claim squares. The game is based on the Fritz 2 chess AI engine and can be played in one of two modes: Duel or Slasher. Duel mode plays much like a normal game of chess, but with flashy graphics and battle animations, and novices will find the game's helpful move range tips and tutorial a good way to learn the ropes. Slasher mode turns each battle into a hack-and-slash, complete with slow and quick attacks, making the strategy on the board not the sole deciding factor in the outcome of a match.

When one piece tries to claim another in this mode, the camera swoops in, and on each side, a number of chess-themed pieces battle it out. Using quick and heavy attacks, you must run around and eliminate all other pieces to claim the space. The attacking side gets the advantage of having more units in these fights, and though it does matter which piece types are used to initiate the attack, they don't necessarily dictate the outcome. It makes a standard game play more like an action title with a chess-themed map, and that can be a good change from the normal style of play.

Scivelation (PS3/X360/PC)

So a game developer, the bassist from Disturbed, and a priest walk into a studio to work on a game featuring one-world governments and religious oppression, right?

Topware's upcoming Scivelation certainly prompted a few "Wait, what?" moments as it was discussed, and though only concept art was shown, the game was described as a third-person adventure game in a world recovering from a massive war called the War of Tribulation. The war was fought to a stalemate, and from its ashes came The Regime, an oppressive one-world government; it's an organization with highly religious overtones that cruises around in flying cities above the rubble. The developers have been working with the above-mentioned priest and other religious figures to avert offending people as best they can, whereas John Moyer has composed a surprisingly fitting and non-metal musical score for the game.

There are two playable characters in the game: Mikhail, the captain of a resistance movement fighting against the government, and Alicia, a defected scientist from The Regime. Mikhail is being built as a more run-and-gun character, whereas Alicia uses stealth more to her advantage. We didn't get to check out any of the gameplay, though with assets getting released within a couple of weeks, it won't be long before we get to set eyes on the world of Scivelation for the first time.

Two Worlds II: Pirates of the Flying Fortress (PS3/X360/PC)

Coming out as an expansion for Two Worlds II, Pirates of the Flying Fortress will add a slew of new content and features. At the core of the game is the new story line that covers over 10 hours of gameplay, further bolstered by a multitude of side-quests and exploration. The plot stands alone from the original, so people who didn't finish the main story can still hop right in. In addition to the new plot content, the expansion will incorporate an all-new technology for facial animations, combat animations, lip-synching and voice-overs.

The graphics engine additions include new weather effects such as rain and mist, and many aspects could also carry over to the original game. The developers have been listening to fan requests and added features such as map markers to find your boat and horse as well as the ability to wield a crossbow as a new weapon. Much of the dialogue from the original game will be getting reworked, and four new multiplayer maps will be added. Though we didn't get any hands-on time with the game, it appears that the expansion adds to the game in many ways. Look for more information on the expansion as it gets closer to its release date.

Tony "OUberLord" Mitera also contributed to this preview.

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