EA quietly slips out ‘Picnic Closed Alpha’ invites for Plants vs Zombies
EA has started a closed alpha test for a new project codenamed Picnic, and Plants vs Zombies fans have been receiving invites. This is the “first glimpse” of the latest battle in the unending war between the forces of nature and the hordes of undead.
While you’re usually not supposed to blabber about this stuff online, invite recipients have obviously revealed the existence of the community test. The initial testing is focused on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and only supports English language.
Zombies eat greens so you don’t have to
Initial tests on:
- August 1 (7.00pm – 11.00pm GMT)
- August 2 (7.00pm – 11.00pm GMT)
A longer test is scheduled for:
- Begins August 3 (7.00pm GMT)
- Ends August 6 (7.00pm GMT)
EA is already running pre-alpha tests of Plants vs Zombies 3 for mobile platforms, so it seems like project Picnic is a whole other kettle of fish. In February, EA revealed to investors that a new Plants vs Zombies title was in the works, and that it’s scheduled to launch before the end of this fiscal year – so by end of March 2020.
Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?
In which of these games can you play Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow from TV?
- Injustice 2
- Batman: Arkham City
- Injustice: Gods Among Us
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold (DS)
The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!
Witcher live action airs in Q4 2019
Geralt of Rivia is getting the Netflix treatment with what’s being called a “very adult” show, spanning eight episodes in its first season. Henry Cavill plays Geralt, and he certainly looks the part – he has also supposedly played CD Project RED’s game adaptations for inspirations.
Expect monsters a-plenty when the show debuts later in 2019 – and in the meantime, check out the live-action trailer.
Remember: WB Games is also a thing
While San Diego Comic-Con might be hogging the limelight when it comes to comic book-related news, Twitter is where the really juicy almost-announcements happen: WB Games Montreal seems to be working on a DC comics property! They’ve allegedly got two projects in the works, and they’ve delivered quality working on Batman with Rocksteady before – oh, and apropos Rocksteady, they’re also said to be developing another DC project. Man, what a super project that must be!
Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series had a very different rhythm
Want to throw down with some of Joker’s goons? Well initially it would have been quite the rhythmic affair since the early combat prototypes for Batman: Arkham Asylum was as a rhythm action title. It was Rocksteady’s love of Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung movies that gave them the idea – it was the cadence those movies had for combat the team wanted to capture.
Eventually it got switched for what became the FreeFlow system, which is actually quite a performance to behold. It’s practically a dance involving fists, boots, head-butts, joint popping and flashy gadgetry. In fact the FreeFlow system has gone on to impact a number of other games – practically setting a new benchmark for close quarter action. Outside of that, Rocksteady was given remarkable freedom from DC to do whatever they wanted with the Batman universe.
Spider-Man on PS4 is the best comic book game ever, seriously
(Insomniac/Sony – PS4)
Judging by San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, now is a very good time to be a Marvel fan. Avengers: Endgame is the biggest movie ever, MCU Phase 4 was revealed, Square Enix are teasing Marvel’s Avengers, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 just hit the Switch.
Spider-Man is doing particularly well – he’s got a new movie out right now and the PlayStation 4 exclusive Marvel’s Spider-Man just became the best-selling superhero game of all time in the US.
In honour of that achievement, we’re training the spotlight on Spider-Man, which was just updated with Far From Home costumes, demonstrating just how committed Insomniac are to their game. We’ve played the game (including DLCs) half to death – and although we’re kinda more into Batman, we got to admit: Spider-Man is the best superhero game ever. Let’s have a closer look!
Alright, let’s do this one last time
Insomniac’s Spider-Man takes place in its own little universe, separate from the MCU, the comics – really, every other version of the character. While he’s still living in New York, Peter Parker is a little older than usual – he’s graduated from college and doing photography for the Daily Bugle, as well as working on research for a certain Dr. Otto Octavius. In this world, small-time villains like Rhino, Electro and Scorpion have been kicking around for a few years, while heavy-hitters like Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus and Venom have yet to appear.
All this means that Spider-Man can tell a really compelling story, and it’s the first major advantage it has over the Arkham Batman games. While the Arkham stories are interesting enough, they’re not really about Batman or Bruce Wayne, or about any of the people caught up in Bruce Wayne’s complicated life. Like Telltale’s Batman games, Insomniac’s Spider-Man is a bit more personal: It’s as much a story about Peter Parker and the people around him as Spider-Man’s struggle against the new villain Mr. Negative. So when things start to go south, you actually care!
Does whatever a spider can
The gameplay seems pretty heavily inspired by Arkham, complete with Scarecrow-style hallucination sequence and oodles of more or less useful gadgets – but swinging your way through Manhattan is a transforming experience. It felt pretty great in Spider-Man 2 back in the PlayStation 2 days, but this is a whole new level. It’s perfect, right down to the way the music kicks up its tempo once you start swinging, and calms back down when you’re back on your feet again. Sure, Spider-Man has some weak spots like the silly collect-a-thon side-quests (capture pigeons, you say?), but really – we don’t give a damn because doing anything in this game is just so much fun!
Swinging around, having nearby crimes tingle your spider sense, investigating and suddenly finding yourself involved in huge action set-pieces, webbing enemies to walls and lamp posts, taking selfies with notable landmarks … it’s all just jolly good fun! And most importantly, it’s fun because it captures the feeling of being Spider-Man, and just nails it 100%.
The Arkham games are pretty fantastic, but you never get to see Gotham City bustling with pedestrians just going about their day, or save unfortunate citizens from petty criminals in some dark alley. The Batmobile is a tank, Bruce Wayne is just a side-note, and Gotham City feels much more like a videogame level than a place. While there are things the Arkham games do better, Spider-Man does The Spider-Man Experience much better than the Arkham games do the Batman experience. And then there’s that twist … which we’re not gonna spoil for you!