Saturday, May 5, 2012

'Black Ops 2' trailer hints at series' dark future

(CNN) -- A new teaser trailer for "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" reveals important details about the setting and gameplay options for the latest title in the blockbuster "Call of Duty" series.

The clip was posted online Tuesday night and has already attracted 1.4 million views on YouTube. It features a near-future scenario in which the U.S. military has developed technology that puts unmanned vehicles and robots on the front lines of battle. An enemy gains access to that technology and turns it against cities all over the world.

Developed by Treyarch and published by Activision, "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" will be released November 18. Its predecessor, 2010's "Call of Duty: Black Ops," is the best-selling video game ever in the United States, according to some estimates.

Mark Lamia, Treyarch studio head, said his developers did a lot of research to set the game in a plausible future. He said for its single-player campaign, the game will feature multiple plotlines and nonlinear gameplay in which a player's actions affect how the story unfolds.

Gameplay in the video shows a bombed-out Los Angeles, urban combat through city streets and ... horseback chases through the desert. It appears to mix futuristic, sci-fi themes with present-day elements.

Lamia also confirmed that zombies are returning to the game. "Our biggest, most ambitious zombies ever," he said.

He would not reveal anything about the game's multiplayer action. Lamia said more information on that will be released later.

The futuristic tone of the game seemed to polarize fans on the Internet. Some joked about whether Treyarch was making Anonymous, the real-life hacker group dedicated to promoting free flow of information, the game's main villain.

Twitter user @killyourfm said, "You know what? I'm BURNT OUT on shooters, especially Call of Duty. But that trailer got me very interested. Futuristic toys. Horses. Cool."

However, "Call of Duty Elite" forum user Oneqwkford laments, "This looks stupid! If I wanted to play a Si-fi game I would play Gears of War or Halo! I always get Very excited for a new CoD game but this one looks very Disappointing. I will not be buying this one!"

Many other gamers said they were waiting for more details on "Black Ops 2's" multiplayer action before making a decision about purchasing the game.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Samsung unveils Galaxy S III smartphone with face, voice recognition

London (CNN) -- Samsung has launched its Galaxy S III smartphone, which it hopes will help solidify the company as the leading challenger to Apple and its iPhone 4S.

The new handset, with a whopping 4.8-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera, was unveiled at a slick launch party in London on Thursday, complete with a backing orchestra.

Billed by Samsung as having been "designed for humans," the phone features voice and eye-recognition technology that the company hopes will set the handset ahead of its rivals in the crowded smartphone market.

Samsung has overtaken Nokia as the world's best-selling mobile phone maker, and Juniper Research reported Tuesday that Samsung also overtook Apple in smartphone sales in the first quarter, in what it described as "increasingly a two-horse race."

The new Galaxy handset, which runs the most up-to-date version of Google's mobile operating system -- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich -- recognizes when a user is looking at it, and ensures the screen doesn't go dark while it has eye contact.

S Voice technology -- Samsung's equivalent of Apple's Siri -- enables users to wake up their phone with a simple voice command. And voice recognition goes further -- saying: "Hi Galaxy ... picture," for example, opens the phone's camera app, and saying "cheese" takes a picture. Face-recognition software then identifies Facebook friends within images, and prompts the user to share them.

Samsung -- a sponsor of the Olympics -- revealed it will be sending devices enabled with mobile payment technology to the 2012 games in London.

Chris Hall, editor of technology website Pocket-lint, said he was "pleasantly surprised" by the new phone.

"When you compare it to the nearest rival it feels like they have pulled off a bit of a trick," he said. "They have put some effort into software innovations, particularly the eye recognition. The voice recognition feels like a reaction to Siri on the iPhone, but I don't know many people who actually talk to their phones."

"I think the success of the Galaxy S II proves people want something different that isn't an iPhone, and I think the S III is a valid successor to the S II." Samsung said the phone will be available in Europe on May 29, followed by launches in Asia, Africa and Latin America. A 4G version will go on sale in North America, Japan and South Korea in the summer.

Samsung did not announce what prices on the phone are expected to be.