2012 June

June 30, 2012

Next Xbox code named “Durango” may not have a disc drive

According to MCV Microsoft is telling their partners that the next installation of the Xbox will do away with the optical disc drive. Its not likely to completly do away with physical media just yet though. Rumor has it that instead of a disc drive the next Xbox will utilize solid state storage, i.e. an SD card, MicroSD etc. etc. Whats not being talked about is exactly the type of media that will be used, whether Microsoft uses proprietary memory cards or a pre-existing format is unknown. 

 

What does this mean to the consumer? The affects could vary but this is no doubt a move to eradicate the used games market, a factor that has been highly controversial in the gaming development world, more so lately it seems. With the card storage still being floating rumor its unclear how it would be used exactly. If it were to simply replace a disc that would defeat the purpose of any attempt to cut down on used game sales. Its more likely that the cards will have more than one function one of which could be to circumvent issues that arise with consumers that either dont have access to or choose not to purchase broadband internet. This is a huge issue to be taken seriously, if Microsoft does away with a disc drive and reverts to download only content they would be excluding those without the means to download a 5-10GB game, without some sort of alternate method this will create huge waves. However the biggest issue will likely be the fact that this will add cost to playing your games, unless you already have broadband internet you will be forced to either pay extra for broadband or simply miss out on the next gen Xbox. One wishfull thought I’ve got about this though is that with the money saved with digital distribution hopefully the cost of games would go down, however unlikely that may be.

 

What are you thoughts? would you be ok with being forced to have broadband? or having your option to save some coin on a used game taken away?

June 29, 2012

Combat Mission: Fortress Italy Announced

Yesterday Combat Mission developers Battlefront.com announced the next installment in their Combat Mission series, Combat Mission: Fortress Italy. The newest to use the CMx2 engine, the game introduces several really damn cool features fan have been clamoring for. Most of these new features are small little things that actually have a sizable impact, but the best part is simply that Battlefront.com listened to its community and decided to add popularly requested features.

 

As another benefit, all these features are going to make their way back into Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy, albeit as a paid upgrade. While I moderately understand the idea of paying for your old game on the brand new version of the engine, it seems a little insane to think about shelling out money for what is essentially a large patch, even more so when it doesn’t add a whole lot of content beyond some new orders and tweaks to the way the game plays. But they also have yet to announce a price, so if it’s something paltry like $2 it won’t be a problem. Sadly, knowing the “niche grognard strategy genre,” they can price whatever they want and people will buy it regardless. CM:BN launched at $60 and is still $55 (currently on sale for $45).

 

Thankfully the Combat Mission games have always been of high quality, so regardless of any pricing patch/DLC issues, Fortress Italy looks fantastic already.

June 29, 2012

Get Ready for Guild Wars 2

Although I didn’t have time to sign up to the beta for this game, I’ve heard great things about it online and from friends who have been playing the beta. The original Guild Wars, released five years ago, sold over 6 million copies, but wasn’t classed as a MMORPG; this time around Guild Wars 2 is definitely a MMORPG and will be following the free-to-play model like the original. The development team at ArenaNet are adament that it doesn’t fall into the traps of traditional MMORPGs, forcing you onto a grinding treadmill and making you spend hours preparing to have fun rather than just having fun. Love or loathe MMOs they want you to try this game and see for yourselves.

 

Guild Wars 2 is set in the fantasy world of Tyria which has long been ravaged by war between the five races: Sylvari; Norn; Charr; Asura and Humans. Now, the undead Elder Dragon Zhaitan has raised the sunken nation of Orr triggering earthquakes and tidal waves which has caused widespread destruction and devastated cities. With the people of Tyria corrupted the disbanded guild ‘Destiny’s Edge’, made up of the five races of Tyria, must put their rivalries aside and reunite to take down Zhaitan. Definitely check out the Guild Wars 2 website for the whole story, the background to the five races is particularly interesting: www.guildwars2.com/en/the-game/races/.

 

The game is now available for pre-order at buy.guildwars2.com or at select retailers. Pre-ordering Guild Wars 2 gives you guaranteed entry into beta weekend events, three-day headstart access to the final game, and the Hero’s Band in-game item. Players of the original are able to reserve their in-game name from Guild Wars so they can guarantee its availability in the sequel. By logging in since 1st January 2012, a player’s name will be added to an active list, preventing anyone from registering it on the title’s launch day.

 

The next and final beta test weekend is planned for 20-22 July and the release date is set for 28th August 2012.

June 28, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Extended and New Endings

If you were like me many of you were extremely disappointed with the rather… terrible endings of Mass Effect 3.  They felt incomplete and they were full of outrageously glaring plot holes and inconsistencies.  The outcry against the ending was so large that it prompted Bioware to modify the endings and even add new ones to the game to appease upset fans.  I think this speaks volumes about Bioware and shows that they actually listen to the people who play their games.  While I’m not totally thrilled with the endings they are a large step in the right direction and are far more acceptable than their predecessors.

 

I thought for those of you who had already uninstalled Mass Effect 3 it would be much easier to just watch the new endings instead of re-installing the game or throwing it back in your 360/PS3.  Be forwarned these DO CONTAIN SPOILERS!!!! If you have not played Mass Effect 3 or plan on playing it do not watch these as they will spoil the endings for you.

 

Another big complaint I had was the massive glaring plothole that the endings created.  In each of the original endings the Mass Relays are destroyed.  Effectively trapping the entire space Armada above earth and destroying galactic civilization which is what we spent 3 games trying to save?  Additionally when Mass Relays are destroyed they wipe out entire solar systems which in essence would destroy every planet which would defeat the purpose once again.  I’m happy to say they fixed that plot hole by stating that the Mass Relays were not destroyed but just damaged and that they can and would be repaired.  Keeping galactic civilization as we know it… intact.

 

That being said here they are:

 

Synthesis Ending (Extended):

 

Destroy Ending (Extended):

 

Control Ending (Extended):

 

Refusal Ending (New):

 

– Source : Videos from IGN

June 28, 2012

Planetside 2 Producer’s Letter

Producer Josh Hackney has published an open letter to fans on the Planetside 2 news blog, something you can read for yourself here.

 

The long and short of it is plans on how they’re doing beta testing, as well as a special bonus for Planetside veterans. For the beta schedules, they’re currently doing “closed internal beta” which is just team members and friends/family. Between that and the external beta is a testing phase where they try out various computers and make sure the game runs nice on all sorts of different setups, which is likely related to the email sent out recently to players signed up for the beta in which system specs were asked for. After that is the first real external beta, being opened up to Planetside vets and anyone who purchased a priority access beta code in April’s PCGamer.

 

It sounds like there’s one more phase of closed testing between us real people playing the game, and that phase is going to feel like forever. But there’s good news for anyone who played Planetside previously: July 1st has been declared Planetside Day, and any current or former subscriber to the game will be granted 30 free days to play, making the wait for the Planetside 2 beta that much easier to bear. If you played Planetside that is.

 

You can grab the game here, and you don’t need to buy the game but simply click the “reinstall” button to the side of the “buy” button to get the downloader.

June 28, 2012

We say good bye to yet another developer, Radical Entertainment

Today brought some sad news, via Kotaku, that Prototype series creator, Radical Entertainment is no more. Sad news seeing as Prototype 2 to was launched just in April of this year. Radical Entertainment has been around since 1991 and has seen successes with as of late The Simpsons: Road Rage and Hit & Run, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Crash Tag Team Racing, Scarface: The World is yours, and the Prototype series. It’s just a weird coincidence that the other night my girlfriend’s younger brother had handed me a GameCube copy of Monsters Inc. Scream Arena, which was made by Radical. I looked at the back and saw their logo and stated “Radical, they have made some great games”. It’s truly heart breaking that we will never get a sequel to one of greatest Super Hero games of all time, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, using a car as boxing gloves was just as fun as it sounds. Activision’s press release on the matter stated that “Although we made a substantial investment in the Prototype IP, it did not find a broad commercial audience…….. As such, some employees will remain working for Radical Entertainment supporting other existing Activision Publishing projects, but the studio will cease development of its own games going forward.” What it sounds like is, the Prototype series didn’t sell Call of Duty type numbers so were going to fire almost everyone and have then work on Call of Duty related things. I would not be surprised if in the next year or so the Radical name popped up on the back of a Call of Duty box. As of last year’s Modern Warfare 3, the back covers of Call of Duty boxes are becoming milk cartons for lost Activision developers. Prototype 2 was well received by critics and topped the NPD sales chart for April and came in 4th the following month to the juggernauts of Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3; apparently those numbers are imaginary and mean diddle. I picked the game up in May and had a blast with it and Prototype 2 did what only a handful of sequels do, outshine their predecessors. It’s a sad day when any developer has to shut their doors for good, it hurts when it’s one you have found memories of enjoying their games, Radical Entertainment 1991-2012.

June 27, 2012

Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam Released!

Oh thank Allah it’s finally out! Crusader Kings II‘s expansion Sword of Islam has finally released today, with it allowing players to finally play as any Muslim character they choose legally, without editing the game. A brief synopsis from Paradox’s own post:

 

“Thought keeping an eye on one wife was bad? With the release of the Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam expansion, this scheming strategy RPG will allow players to command Muslim nations, opening up a world of polygamous problems, new laws, traits, titles and over 100 new events, as well as a flavorful Islam-inspired interface. Experience the Crusades from the other side. Combat decadence within your own dynasty. And solve problems arising in your very own harem. Or just start panicking and invade France. Your call.”

 

 

Adding to the awesomeness is the fact that even without the expansion, a ton of game mechanics are being updated and bugs squashed with the 1.06 patch. But why would you stick with the vanilla game when you can now lead the Turks to glory, or take the Shia Caliphate to Rome? This game is the medieval soap opera that keeps on giving, and now it’s offering up a telenovela expansion, all for the low price of $10, less than a stupid map pack for a terrible shooter!

June 27, 2012

Darksiders 2 Commentary

While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first Darksiders, there was enough enjoyment there that I am looking forward to Darksiders 2. I have always been a huge fan of the four horsemen. I used to concept sketch them all the time (while other girls did their makeup, I was drawing death on a pale horse). That aside, the game has had some push backs on release dates which seems to be happening a lot in the gaming world.

They released a very interesting live action trailer that features Jeor Mormot ‘the bear’ from Game of Thrones if you are a fan of the series. However, to watch the full cut of the trailer you have to go to the Darksiders facebook page, which I feel is worth it. I saw a review somewhere saying that it was pretty campy even as far as live action trailers go, but I quite liked it.

One thing I don’t like is the marketing ploy of the Darksiders team at E3. There has been a LOT of talk about booth babes, and I have been asked to give my opinion on them several times. I do not care if companies choose to use attractive, approachable women to market their products. The company I work for (The D20 Girls Project) is an agency for said girls, so I must not be that against them. However, I would much rather see girls who can cosplay and know the industry than girls wearing fishnets and holding the game as featured below. How cool would be it be to see two or three girls in full armor of Death and War standing around. Much cooler I think, and I would happily volunteer.

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/pictures/e3-booth-babes/booth-babes-darksiders-2-002.jpg.php

June 27, 2012

An Interlude with Rocksmith

Having spent a little more time with the guitar education game Rocksmith over the past few days, there are more shortcomings I would love to see addressed, but sadly they likely will never even be looked at.

 

Fingerings would be VERY nice. I would love to see the recommended fingering for every individual note during practice. Thinking along the lines of tablature instead of “real music,” there are certain patterns played more easily with certain fingerings, leaving fingers anchored down or even barring a fret. It would be incredibly easy to assign either a “1,2,3,4” number to each note, or even go to “p,i,m,a” for any songs that would require it, though I don’t believe the game has any songs to be played with finger picking, as the game seems to be called “rock” smith. Regardless, it does have suggested fingerings hinted at with a four fret area highlighted blue where they think your fingers should lie, but it’s very underwhelming and doesn’t really help with playing many phrases, especially those involving slides or just a wide stretch larger than four frets. Sweeps would particularly benefit from this addition, something becoming more and more apparent the longer I work on songs from Megadeth and Judas Priest. Sadly, as mentioned before, it’s unlikely this “issue” is something they would address, even in the event of a Rocksmith 2.

 

Another downside is again the ability to select amount of notes and speed played at at the same time. I just got done attempting to get one of the solos down from Hanger 18 at full notes, but low speed. When you pick the speed leveling trainer it does an initial run that freezes on any note you miss, picking a speed for you to start out at when you’re finally done with that check. After butchering over twice as many notes as I had before cranking the section up to 100%, the game decided to set me at 60% speed, something frustratingly above what I was expecting. Adding insult to injury, I was unable to manually adjust the speed, only the actual mastery of the section. After a few attempts I simply gave up as I wasn’t able to slow it down any further which is what I had set out to do.

 

Meanwhile, I played a bit of Icky Thump this evening and have a very high mastery on it, most of the riffs well over 90%. Rocksmith taught me that song fairly well, and I actually know Judas Priest’s Breakin’ the Law almost by heart now thanks to it. That said, there’s only so far it can go without being refined and adding in the ability to break things down as I’ve mentioned previously. When attempting Priest’s Painkiller or Megadeth’s Hanger 18, I feel I would be better off going and buying a book or finding the songs online so I can look at the riffs and practice them note by note over and over, finally combining them into measures and phrases. Despite breaking things like solos and verses into sections, Rocksmith doesn’t break them down enough for more difficult passages, leaving me unable to practice JUST the snippet I want to, instead running through an entire part of a solo just to run six eighth notes. This also adds to the frustration and moderately nullifies the point of the game if I’m considering turning it off and finding a written transcription of the piece.

 

Still, I’m enjoying my time with Rocksmith and there’s a lot more songs to take a look at, as well as improving the ones I’ve already seen. More than likely there will be more on this game in the future.

June 26, 2012

Skyrim: Dawnguard Out Now

For fans of the Elder Scrolls entry Skyrim today is a day of rejoicing as the first DLC has been released (Xbox 360 only, sorry PC and PS3 players you’ll have to have wait).  You can pick up the expansion on the XBL market place for a mere 1600 points.

 

Here is the press release “Once Dawnguard is installed, if you’re level 10 or higher you’ll hear rumors about the Dawnguard from guards in major cities. You may also be approached by a courier who will give you a note about the Dawnguard. Otherwise, if your character is below level 10 or you wish to find the Dawnguard on your own, you can seek out the Dawnguard headquarters roughly east/southeast of Riften. It can be reached by a small cave through the mountains.”

 

This expansions looks to have added 20+ hours of content so the asking price of 1600 Microsoft Points ($19.95) seems very reasonable.  I’m looking forward to hearing some of our viewers opinions.  Let us know what you think!

 

 

Check out sexy trailer below:

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