2012 July

July 31, 2012

Fall of Cybertron Demo is Here!

 

I woke this morning to a wonderful surprise, the Fall of Cybertron demo was on Xbox live Marketplace. The demo will be available on the PSN as soon as the Tuesday update hits. The demo includes a portion of an Autobot level, where you take control of Bumblebee towards the beginning of the game. The second portion is a Decepticon level, that takes place later in the game. The third portion includes a bit of the multiplayer, complete with what I have dubbed the “create-a-bot”, which is nothing more than class customization. But I did make an Autobot named Gasket, and he is Bumblebee’s friend. Sorry, sorry, the fanbot  , I mean fanboy got a little out of hand. The demo shows that even if this was code from months ago, the game will be ready come August 21st. Enjoy!

 

Transformers FoC

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July 31, 2012

SWTOR to be Free to Play

Bioware just reported that they intend to make Star Wars: The Old Republic ‘free’ to play. I have been hearing whispers about this for months, ever since a big patch issue and a few other dramas made them lose a huge player base. The game started out strong, pulling players from the behemoth World of Warcraft (including myself) but lost steam after a few months. The developers have decided that the monthly subscription is a restrictive format for some players. The game will be free to play up to level 50, and then to access end content there will be some sort of subscription or unlocking fees. They are also adding in something called Cartel Coins that will be currency in game that you purchase with real money. I absolutely hate this idea. I feel like every time a player has an opportunity to make gold/currency in a game with real money it cheapens the experience a little bit. I don’t want to feel like I have to compete with people who are throwing money at the game when I am not.

Making this game free to play could either bring back a player base, or completely destroy the game in my opinion. The success on this move completely relies on how they decide to play their cards with where players do have to spend money. I have been playing SWTOR since it was first released, and I do enjoy the game. However, the more and more I play the more I think it is just World of Warcraft in the Star Wars universe. Bioware simply fixed some things Blizzard did wrong, but I don’t see enough innovation. I barely even have to pay attention to any controls or figure out how anything works in the game, just because it is exactly like World of Warcraft. Is that a bad thing? Now that is another question.

July 31, 2012

The Halo 4 Hype Train keeps rolling along

To keep fueling the fire that is rising beneath Halo 4, Microsoft released this “accolades” trailer. It shows off the impressive visuals we have seen before while toting along some “Best in show” clout that highly anticipated games get via the gaming press. What is even more impressive and stands out to me with each passing trailer, is how great the soundtrack is sounding. Neil Davidge is doing a fantastic job, not to ever replace O’Donnell’s score, but making this new trilogy is own with a fantastic mix of orchestra and electronics into something truly unique but fits well within the universe. At this point I am not sure what I am more excited for, the soundtrack, the game, or the combination of everything. I also wanted to note that it really feels like Jen Taylor, the voice or Cortana, is giving her all, and seeing the revelation of her fate is something that really intrigued me since witnessing her inception in Reach. This may very well, and hopefully, will be the last Halo title on the current hardware, but good gravy dipped pixels it’s beautiful. 7 years of engine and hardware tuning have done wonders.

 

I believe I have posted this video once before, but here is a refresher to remind everyone of how great this soundtrack is coming along. It is sweeping, epic, yet personal; and the electronics towards the end feel cold and calculated. Now my addiction has kicked in again, 4th play through and I haven’t even posted this article yet, so good, so good.

 

 

July 31, 2012

Top 10 Games That Need a Remake Day 1

I went looking through all of my games the other day both good and bad and thought to myself that several of these games deserve a remake if not a sequel depending on the franchise.  So for this week I’m going to go over several games that stick out to me that are dying for either a sequel or just a full blown remake.

Yes I actually still have this manual and the original game discs.

Yes I actually still have this manual and the original game discs.

The Game:

This game is probably one of my most treasured games of all time.  It had a massive following back in the 90’s when Space Combat Sims were wildly popular on MSN gaming zone.  By the way MSN gaming zone was one of the coolest gaming communities ever next to heat.net.  Those of you who recognize those names deserve some props.

Today’s game (you guessed it) is Xwing vs Tie Fighter.  As I’m sure many of you know there were many titles in the Xwing and Tie Fighter series along with several expansions so before anyone gets offended that I didn’t choose Tie Fighter or X-Wing please understand that I am taking this franchise as a whole.

X-Wing vs Tie Fighter (XvT) allowed you to take control of several rebel or imperial fighters and fly missions everyone from escorting to destroying imperial or rebel fleets.  It also allowed you a wide range of controls over your fighter craft allowing you to pilot and fight in several ways.  Many of you remember the quote from A New Hope “shields double front”.  This quote has a real important meaning in XvT along with many other customizeable aspects of your fighter craft.

Why We Loved It:

XvT was not only a top notch game, and a Star Wars game to boot but it was also one of the first Star Wars games to allow true multi-player and co-op missions.  It also had a very large number of missions that could be played in may different ways and had an early form of acheivements.  If you could beat a mission on a certain difficultly level within a certain amount of time you would get a different medal.  The replay value on XvT was extremely high.

It also was extremely modifiable and there was a huge modding community that added a ton of content into the game which include but wasn’t limited to new missions, additional star ships and fighters and new sounds.  Creating mission was extremely exciting as you could basically create and battle you wanted to create and play it out real time.  I was involved in a few of these communities but the ones that really stuck out, before they disappeared were Datamasters XvT and Correlian Ship Yards.  They had some amazing modelers and mission designers and they added years of replayability to the game.

For it’s time XvT was an extremely pretty game and it was very immersive.  You got to pilot almost any fighter you wanted to on both the Imperial and Rebel side and once you got bored you could with a few edits add in any ship you wanted and later down the road you could pilot capitol ships!   Granted those were a little buggy but it was fun none the less.

Why It Needs a Remake:

While XvT was impressive for the time the technology of the day really didn’t do it justice.  Graphics technology today compared to the 90’s has litteraly jumped a galaxy.  XvT with a DX11 setup on a solid gaming PC or a console would look mind boggingly beautiful.  The dog fights, explosions, disintigrating capital ships and the improved sounds would make a modern day XvT a sight to behold.

It’s time to resurrect the Space Combat genre… sadly it has been on it’s deathbed for quite some time and ever since the advent of modern consoles with the exception of the X Universe by Egosoft there has been little or no movement in this genre.   I think a quality Lucasarts title (yes I know that is very hard to imagine) would go a long way into breathing life back into this dormant genre.

Will it happen:

Lucasarts has been teasing for years that there is an ‘X-Wing’ game in the works but nothing has ever been officially announced yet.  Hollywood Games, the original developer, said they would love to do another title if the funding was presented to them.  If any additional news comes up you will hear it here first.

Check out some more images and videos below:

Two of these videos are from the expansions Balance of Power.

July 30, 2012

Planetside 2 Speta (Space Beta) Been Spelayed (Space Delayed)

Sadly for everyone who was hoping for Planetside 2 to open its doors today to the would-be masses, or at least small groups of the masses, they were disappointed. Not only has it slipped the intended date of Monday-Tuesday/Today-Tomorrow/July 30th-31st, but it has missed most of this week entirely. John Smedley tweeted earlier to both announce, and clarify.

 

As someone with access to someone with the tech test, I can assure you that this delay is not only a good idea, it’s almost a necessity. Various leaked videos of the tech test have shown some odd latency issues (potentially due to streaming/recording, or perhaps the client’s connection) that seem to be a game-breaking affair in an MMO, more so an MMO shooter.

 

Regardless, the beta has been delayed ’til the end of this week or the start of next, at which point everyone should be able top hop in and play, adhering to a testing schedule at first to make sure they’ve ironed out the bugs before letting the servers run 24/7.

July 30, 2012

The Secret World F2P Weekend


“Imagine if every myth, conspiracy theory and urban legend was true”. Funcom

The word is out about Funcom’s ‘The Secret World’ and everyone seems to be checking out this game. This weekend the game will be F2P, if you created an account for beta testing you can use this without having bought the game, while new players just need to sign up for an account. TSW is termed a modern-day MMO, set in a world where every conspiracy theory, myth and legend is true, three ancient societies (the Dragon, the Illuminati and the Templars) must come together to fight the rising darkness. There are no classes or levels, just choose your society and make the game your own. I’m intrigued by the idea of this MMO, it seems so different… I wonder if it can make good on it’s claims? I’m looking forward to taking a look for myself.

July 30, 2012

WoW Movie: Sam Raimi is Out


First announced in 2006 the World of Warcraft Movie has been simmering away on the Blizzard radar, with recent projects such as the release of Diablo III and the impending releases of WoW and StarCraft expansions: Mists of Pandaria and heart of the swarm, you will forgive me for being a bit out of the loop and forgetting that this was even in the pipeline.

Recently however, there has been alot of talk surrounding the movie with the news that Sam Raimi was no longer in the frame for directing it. At the San Diego Comic-Con he was quoted as saying “Actually, they don’t have me directing World of Warcraft anymore, because when I took the Oz job they had to move on to another director”, he then went on to say “They had to start making it”. With Sam Raimi going off to work on ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’, this leaves the field wide-open for speculation on who will be coming in to take his place and get the movie back on track.

Blizzard haven’t said anything on this as yet… Let the speculation begin.

July 30, 2012

New Games: Not As Good or Just Getting Old?

I’ve begun to notice a trend with myself in regards to mygaming habits.  I pick up almost every new release that comes out on Steam or that is released in general unless it gets completely atrocious reviews.  I’ve got 300+ games on my Steam list and most of them I have played.  But recently I started to notice a very disturbing trend compared to when I was younger  (13- 21 years old) compared to now (27) and that is almost every new game only holds my interest for about  3 – 4 hours before I’m bored and am ready to move on to another game and most of the time I never come back to the previous game I was playing.  This compared to when I was younger I would pick up a game and play it into oblivion… titles such as Star Wars: Rebellion, Goldeneye 64, Xwing vs Tie Fighter, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight and Star Fox 64 I probably sunk in 100+ hours hours into each of these games and that was before I even got started in the modding communties.  There were other games like Half Life and it’s assorted mods such as Counter-Strike and Team Fortress that I dropped a good six plus years of my life into and that doesn’t even include the mapping I did for those games.

Not since Counter-Strike has a game whether it be single or multi-player captivated my attention for long or gotten me to play through a second time, even with the addition of achievements and leader boards.  This got me to thinking is this because games now days are of a lower caliber? Am I over stimulated or am I just getting older and my tastes are changing?  Perhaps I’m losing my interest in gaming in a slow but steady pace?  I just don’t know…

I think when we are younger games are a bit more (for a lack of a better word), magical and the worlds come to life more brilliantly than they do as adults.  I mean even games like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace which got mediocre reviews at best I played over and over and over again through the campaign and I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread.  Having said all that I think games were more of an art form and were used to express creative energies compared to now where most games are designed as a packaged product to draw in as much money as possible.  I think I could argue pretty reasonably that most games now days aren’t as creative or immersive as their predecessors but that is just an opinion

On the flip side I’ve realized that I can’t game for 15 hours a day every day anymore like I could when I was in my teens.  I’ve got a job that usurps 50 hours of my week, I go to school part time for a Graduate Degree, I’m married and I run a gaming website.   I just can’t dedicated a whole day to gaming like I used to and even when I have time off I generally have to get up and do things all throughout the day.  I have a short attention span and I like to play games all the way through and if I get disrupted I tend to lose interest in the game.  I actually had this happen with The Witcher II which is a fantastic game but I kept getting taken away from the game and I finally just stopped playing.  I tried picking it up again and got all the way back to where I was and stopped playing again.

I guess in the end it’s most likely a combination of the fact that my interests have changed as I’ve grown in life over the past seven years, the amount of time I have to spend and the fact that most games don’t really innovate that much on things that have already been done.  I’m curious to see what some of our viewers think.  Have you guys had a similar experience as me or has it been different?

July 28, 2012

Mass Effect Movie in the works

Back in September 2011 Legendary Pictures announced it would be taking on a theatrical version of Mass Effect. Since then there have been little details, and still are, but some detail made its way through the grape vine.

The latest in this news is that there is a Mass Effect script. The author who wrote I am Legend, Thor and The Cell, Mark Protosevich has written a Mass Effect script for Legenday pictures. This is still in its preliminary stages and not much has been decided yet. What we do know is that the movie will center around a male Commander Shepard and his journey.

Originally Legendary intended to keep the game out of it and produce a movie based in the Mass Effect universe but tell a completely different story from what the games told. However it appears that the movie will be focused on the story that was portrayed in the first Mass Effect game. Legendary also stated that Seth Green would not be playing the Normandy’s pilot Joker. That could end up being the case but Legendary has also stated that no casting decisions have been made, so its possible we will see Seth Green as Joker.

 

I think the Mass Effect story would make for a great movie but as we’ve seen in the past movies based on games usually end up in a steaming pile of fail. But given the scripts author and his previous experience I have hope for this. Lets just hope they can get the casting right, a good script isnt worth a damn if its being murdered by the actor reading it.

 

Thoughts?

July 28, 2012

iOS Review: E.R.S Game Studios

Murder. Mystery. Intrigue.

If these are all things that you like to see packaged into an iOS game then you need to take a look at what ERS Game Studios has to offer. In addition to developing games for the iOS platform there are also PC, Mac and Online games to choose from spanning across a range of different genres including: IHOG, Puzzle/Adventure and Sim/Strategy. Formed in 2006, ERS Game Studios has developed a worldwide following attributed largely in my opinion to the polished gameplay and stunning graphics that some term ‘illustrative realism’. There are numerous reviews of the various ERS games out there and the quality of the final product and the graphics are always a big talking point.

I’ve been playing the iPhone and iPad versions of ERS Studios games for a while now and I’m glad I’ve now got the opportunity to talk a little bit about what attracts me to them and why I think they are so amazing. I started off playing ‘The Mystery of Joyville: Puppet Show’ which I found while browsing the App Store, as soon as I’d completed the game I actually looked up the game developers, found out what else they had released and got downloading. So far I’ve completed five of the eight iOS games that have been released, I’ve listed the titles of the eight games below (screenshots alonside this review are taken from Music of Death and Curse of the Raven) and you can find out more from the ERS Game Studios website. Where available it’s definitely worth springing for the collectors editions to get the bonus content at the end.

  • Maestro: Music of Death
  • Haunted Legends: The Queen of Spades
  • Haunted Halls: Green Hills Sanitarium
  • Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat
  • Redemption Cemetery: Curse of the Raven
  • Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • PuppetShow: Mystery of Joyville
  • Hidden Wonders of the Depths 2: Around the World

As with all IHOG games there seems to be a combination of factors which make them appealing rather than tedious, a really nice aspect to these games is that many tend to run in series, for example, the latest games I’ve played ‘Maestro: Music of Death’ and ‘Redemption Cemetery: Curse of the Raven’ both have sequels coming soon and it seems like a natural progression for the games rather than something that is forced to get a new game out quickly. Another aspect of the games that appeals to me is the tie in with Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, Poe being best known for writing tales of the macabre. It’s amazing how well the games in the series work alongside Poe’s dark themes which often dealt with death, reanimation of the dead and mourning .

When you first start one of the ERS games, literally when you touch the icon you know that effort has gone into making it, there is a sense of becoming involved in the story by adding a cinematic-style opening which combined with the music really make the game interesting from the start. You know what your objective is and now you need to work through the content to achieve it. The story is a true mystery and your role is to act in a detective capacity to figure it out, the puzzles are not hard but they will get your brain working and the hidden object scenes are just fantastic, they are miniture works of art which are a pleasure to behold. ERS Game Studios also have the graphics-music combination nailed, and I find myself humming along as I try to find the objects hidden within the scene. In each game the gameplay is slightly different and you need to constantly adapt to the situation as it unfolds. It’s not brain science, you won’t achieve mensa status by solving the puzzles, but they are fun and progress the storyline in a way that keeps you entertained and eager to find out what happens next.

In general these games get excellent reviews, the only recurring critism seems to be that they are lacking in originality and perhaps do not lend as much of a challenge as some would like to see, as eluded to above. Both are valid points, but I think that it would be very difficult to create a truly original story in this particular genre, of course that’s not a reason not to try, but I’d also be concerned that by changing the format too much it would remove something fundamental to the success of games like these, taking away the reason that so many people love them, it’s that mystery, working through the process and progressing through the story that makes these games appealing. I also think that making the puzzles within the game or the gameplay more challenging is more a question of appealing to the right demographic, ERS Games Studios pride themselves on being casual game developers, these are games you are supposed to be able to pick up and run through without it being so difficult that you end up frustrated by the whole thing and fling your iPhone/iPad across the room, essentially they are feel-good games that allow you to get the little grey cells working and have that sense of achievement at the end. They are great games for what they are designed to be.

To wrap up, here are some of the game features that might be of interest:

  • You can play a certain amount of the content for free before purchasing the game
  • There is an in-game tutorial to get you started
  • Some games have a strategy guide (in case you get stuck)
  • The collectors editions have special bonus content
  • The game saves as you go, just start and stop when you like

These type of games are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is definitely more than meets the eye and it’s definitely worth a look.

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