2012 November

November 30, 2012

Hitman: Absolution – Missing the Mark

IO Interactive’s Hitman series has had its shares of ups and downs over its four title lifetime, having both innovated and frustrated the stealth genre. Now it brings its newest title, Absolution, to the table, and while the game itself is undeniably a Hitman product, the parts it chose to borrow from its older brothers are highly questionable, embodying the “one step forward, two steps back” motto.

 

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun

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November 26, 2012

Copacabana beckons as Firefall Beta is unveiled

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Red 5 Studio unveils a future Earth where it’s up to you to reclaim what’s yours.

Firefall Screenshot

There is a new MMO on the horizon, although it’s probably not like any MMO you’ve seen before. Described by Red 5’s Vice President, James Macualey and lead designer, Scott Youngblood as an “MMO Shooter”, this game is part shooter, part MMO, part RPG and part RTS. Firefall aims to improve upon the traditional questing models followed by other development companies such as Blizzard. The game is set on a future Earth where most of the population have been wiped out in a disaster which has created a ravenous race of creatures called The Chosen, it’s up to you to reclaim what’s yours and take back the Earth.

For much of 2012 Firefall has been in beta testing and this has allowed the development team to refine the game mechanics on a much larger scale than is conventionally seen with games like this, and it sounds like they are going to need this extra testing time because there is so much going on with this game, it’s ambitious to say the least. As I read about Firefall I notice more and more that Red 5 are mimicking the dynamic questing that we saw so prominently in Guild Wars 2, released this year, where players become part of world events that can happen anywhere and you instinctively form groups and alliances – and who can blame them, this dynamic questing is definitely proving a refreshing change from the norm and is definitely a hit with this player. It’s also going to be free-to-play, which no longer casts aspersions on the viability of the game, the free-to-play model is now a popular choice for both existing and new games to the market, e.g., swtor and GW2.

Firefall screenshot

What’s even more interesting about this game is that you can actually lose it, and when I say lose I mean that you can get kicked off the server! That’s something that I have never seen done in any MMO before, of course that really is the last straw, the aim is to work together to fight back The Chosen and keep hold of precious resources that give you the tactical advantage.

The release date for Firefall is set for Summer 2013, but you can sign up right now to join thousands of other players for the public beta weekends, where you can check out the first major city, Copacabana. The weekends are as follows:

Population Control: November 30th, 2012 until December 2nd, 2012
Chosen Invasion: December 7th, 2012 until December 9th, 2012

Or, to get free beta access you can get a beta code by picking up the Christmas edition of PC Gamer. Whatever method you choose you can find out more information on the beta weekends page of the Firefall website.

November 20, 2012

Planetside 2 Live Today! Happy G37 Everybody!

Planetside 2 has officially launched today, bringing with it combat on a massive scale. A possible way to think of it is to take Battlefield 3 and multiply its mapsize by a power of ten and then do the same for the player count. It’s also Free2Play, which is incredible considering that it very easily breaks the F2P quality barrier and stands up alongside any other AAA title. However, as with any other launch, it does have its problems with opening the floodgates to the entire world all at one.

 

G37: A quick Google search indicates this means you couldn’t connect, that’s all.

 

Harkening back to the Diablo 3 massive launch SNAFU, which also happened to use error code “37,” Planetside 2 is a victim of its own success and is currently being overwhelmed with players trying to get in, generating a game-killing G37 error. HOWEVER, before the deters you from attempting to play today, I was able to connect multiple times to create multiple characters on separate servers simply by retrying over and over until I got past the error. All in all it took me about fifteen minutes of combined effort to get all of that done, and I could have kept playing had I not come here to post this.

 

Planetside 2 can be attained from the official SoE webite for it here, or through Steam here.

November 19, 2012

Dishonored Review

Way back in 1998, when shooters were trying to expand themselves beyond “shoot what isn’t you,” gameplay, Looking Glass Studios released a game with the idea of “shoot nothing.” Thief instead encouraged and rewarded avoidance of confrontation, especially by casting a player character who had difficulty in a one-on-one fight, let alone superior numbers. The higher difficulties in the game stacked the odds increasingly against the player, even including mission fail conditions if the player killed anyone. The game and its sequel are often credited for popularizing the stealth genre, heavily influencing games to follow. Stealth games since have been a lot less about avoiding confrontation and more about doing it in a quiet and efficient manner while not getting caught. Now, Arkane Studios (Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Arx Fatalis) are tossing their hat into the ring with Dishonored, and it lands pleasantly close to the totem planted by Thief all those years ago.

 

The game looks pretty, thanks to a good use of UE3

 

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November 18, 2012

The Wii U is here at TheGamersBlog!

 

After a very interesting night with Brad “thsoundman” and my brother playing Halo 4 and discussing how awful cheap beer and canned beer really are, I was up bright an early to grab the sites new shinny Wii U! I have an array of unboxing pics and wanted to bring to attention the media the games are printed on. Nintendo stated that it’s a proprietary disc format that is capable of holding 25GB of data, the same as a single layer blu-ray. Nowm now in the pictures I show the comparison between a Wii U disc and a blu-ray disc. The Wii U disc has rounded edges which is neat but weird to the touch for the first time. The other thing I noticed with the Wii U disc is the color of the information on the disc is the same as a blu-ray, it has the weird steel/purplish color to it, which begs the question; could the Wii U have a future update to play blu-ray movies? I will put my impressions up after I have had a proper chance to play some games and explore the system a bit more. Oh, and for those who are getting the console today prepare for quite a large firmware update around 5GB. Fare warning as well DO NOT power off the system during this update, other sites have reported it can brick your console. Enjoy the pics, sorry for the quality I had just my regular camera around.

 

November 18, 2012

Ingress – The new Massively Multiplayer Online Game

“It’s happening all around you. They aren’t coming. They’re already here.”Offical Ingress Website

Ingress image of new energy around a monument

On the 15th November Google introduced it’s new MMO, Ingress, which is currently in beta testing for the Android platform. From the video, the game’s central theme is the leak of a secret project being run by Niantic Labs which has has released a new form of energy into the world – with certain places attracting both people and events. The project was discovered by a group known as the Resistance and their goal is to stop Niantic Labs from using the energy as a weapon to hack into people’s minds.

Using your Android phone as both a GPS device and game controller, you’ll be able to choose your faction and either hack or protect energy portals and annomalies at various points across the world, depending on what you choose – but you’ll need to actually be at the locations to engage with them, that’s another central tenant of the gameplay. Google’s Ingress is therefore using the largest in-game map ever, the real world!

To find out more about this new game from Google, why not request an invite to the beta test here: http://www.ingress.com.

Interested as always to hear your thoughts?

November 17, 2012

Gaming in Stereo: Skyrim, Deus Ex, and a bit of Zelda.

 

Released last week, Andrew Skeet and the London Philharmonic Orchestra released their collaborative effort The Greatest Video Game Music 2. It’s a sequel to their previous effort The Greatest Video Game Music and has been featured on here from time to time. They now feature 17 new renditions of fan favorite video game themes. The CD is once again beautifully crafted and outstandingly performed by the renowned London Philharmonic Orchestra. Being the week of Veterans Day, I wanted to dedicate this to my grandfather, Alexander Atremko. Because of him I have grown up to appreciate video games and classically performed music. He was the one to introduce me to my Atari 2600 and to finely composed music performed by both the London and Moscow symphonic and philharmonic orchestras. He would record them any time there was a PBS special and listen to them for hours. My grandfather was also a veteran of 3 wars (WWII, Korea, and Vietnam) and I have the upmost respect for him, not because he was military, but because he was never disrespectful of his enemy, never proud of the things he had done, and never wished military life on anyone. He was unfortunately drafted out of college and sent to the Air Force and the Pacific theater. My family has had a line of military personnel including recently my aunt (honorably discharged), my uncle (army reserves), and my brother and his wife (both active air force). I respect them all for doing a job I wouldn’t touch with a 50ft pole, but my grandfather is the one I respect the most. Now on to some great music!

 

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Far Horizons

This piece played during the free roaming portion of Skyrim. It beautifully crafts the Viking like region of Tamriel. Much of Skyrim is vast trees and mountains, and epic wilderness full of Jarls, dragons, and swords. Anyone who has played the game should recognize this sweeping song, especially the powerful horn melody (0:00) that is beautifully picked up again at (1:00) by the whole orchestra. Now something they did differently in this rendition was the added piano melody at (3:01), which transitions beautifully. I have wanted to feature music from Skyrim for some time but it is very hard to get a hold of. Enjoy.

 

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Icarus Main Theme

Along with the Skyrim theme, this is another track I have wanted to share but it has been hard to track down. There is just two points on this epic track I wanted to focus on. At (0:28) the repeated melody that is strung throughout the piece and the epic build up to the fanfare at (2:29). Human Revolution was a fantastic game and the soundtrack complimented the cyberpunk universe. Listening to this track you can feel the tension and corporate struggles. Human augmentation looks pretty cool though.

 

Bonus Track – Legend of Zelda – The Wind Waker: Dragon Roost Island

Every Zelda is full of great music and Wind Waker is no exception. Their take on this tune from the GameCube seminal title is fantastic. The track starts off soft with a guitar (0:20), then the melody changes hands at (0:40) to some strings. The melody is then handed off to a piano at (1:25) and has a jazz feel to the song. The melody then switches hands again to a sax at (1:56). Finally the grand theme hits (2:46) and you can feel the epic seas take flight. I want a HD rerelease of this game on the Wii U, Nintendo are you listening?

November 15, 2012

Halo 4 Soundtrack Contest Winner!

 

Congratulations to Darklurkr23 for winning our new, sealed copy of the Halo 4 Official Soundtrack. An email has been sent to the email you provided when registering your account. Even though this contest wasn’t the hit I wanted it to be there will be more soundtrack giveaways in the future. On that note, would everyone, the readers, prefer digital copies or physical copies of the contest prizes? Again congratulations to Darklurkr23!

 

November 13, 2012

Launch Date Announced for Heart of the Swarm

StarCraft 2 Banner

The next chapter of Blizzard’s StarCraft II saga, Heart of the Swarm, will launch on March 12, 2013.

Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard’s first expansion to StarCraft II, picks up where Wings of Liberty left off, focusing on Kerrigan’s quest to reunite the Swarm and take revenge on Arcturus Mengsk. You will follow Kerrigan as she travels the galaxy, growing in strength from mission to mission (20 in total), and players will be able to customize her with powerful new abilities, as well as evolve various zerg strains into fearsome new subspecies. Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment says that “With Heart of the Swarm, our goal has been to expand on the multiplayer action and cinematic storytelling of Wings of Liberty. Combined with features like unranked matchmaking and our new leveling system, this expansion elevates the StarCraft II experience for players of all skill levels.”

Pre-sales for the standard digital and Digital Deluxe versions of Heart of the Swarm are now available. Players who would like to purchase either version and be ready to play the moment the expansion launches can do so now by visiting www.StarCraft2.com.

The Digital Deluxe version of Heart of the Swarm includes a full digital copy of the expansion along with the following in-game bonus items:

  • StarCraft II Torrasque
  • StarCraft II Battle.net Portraits and Decals
  • World of Warcraft In-Game Pet
  • Diablo III Blade Wings and Banner Sigil

While the collectors version includes all of the above plus:

  • Behind-the-Scenes DVD and Blu-ray
  • Collector’s Edition Soundtrack CD
  • Heart of the Swarm Hardcover Art Book
  • Zerg Rush Mousepad

To learn more about StarCraft II and Heart of the Swarm, visit the official website at www.StarCraft2.com.

November 9, 2012

Gaming in Stereo: Halo 4 Special – You know me. When I make a promise….

 

 

* The track descriptions may hold some minor spoilers, you have been warned. The tracks are before the descriptions if you wish to just listen. Again, they might contain minor spoilers, you have been warned. 

 

I round out the week with one of the most recognizable tracks from Halo 4 and a song that is very befitting of our dear Master Chief. I have been doing this “feature” article on and off for some time now and really enjoy bringing to attention how this interactive medium is more than just bleeps and bloops; more than visuals and new controller doodads, this industry has a very strong musical background as well. Halo: CE was the first game soundtrack that I went out and purchased. O’Donnell’s score changed how I saw the tracks behind the game. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great soundtracks before Halo and I appreciate them fully; I am just saying Halo’s soundtrack opened my blind eyes. Now almost every release that I feel brings something musically to the table I am hunting down soundtracks either from the downloadable sources or physical media. Music is just an integral part of gaming as control schemes, gameplay, and art styles/visuals. Would Final Fantasy be the same without Nobuo Uematsu? Would Mass Effect sound as awesome without Jack Wall (ME3 didn’t have him, while it was well composed, it lost some of its edge)? Would the Halo trilogy be the Halo trilogy without Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori? All of these game franchises have different composers now that take the previous work into account but it was these composers that made the franchises sound the way they do.  Anyway enough praising lets finish out this week of Halo 4 with two very iconic tracks that I would love to see return in Halo 5.

 

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Revival – Neil Davidge

This is the Didacts theme throughout the game. First introduced in Halo Legends, the Didact takes a pivotal role in the game and this new trilogy. This is the classic Halo “chant” track for the game. At (0:38s) you have the beginning of the chant that feels like a built up to the (1:49) mark where it feels like the evil has awaken. Hitting up at the (5:42) mark is the central theme where this track takes a turn for the electronic and at (6:01) it hits home. The electronic samples at the end of the track feel at home with the Forerunner enemy; they are an advanced race that was the epitome of technological geniuses.

 

117 – Kazuma Jinnouchi

The only track on the OST that was not composed by Davidge is the theme for Master Chief. This track comes in two movements. They are both very fitting, at least the way I see them. The first (starting at 0:00 and ending at 3:45) with the silent horn, feeling very militaristic in tone, shows the Chiefs military side. Being taken away as a child and forced into the Spartan program, military indoctrination is all that he knows. Saving mankind and being selfless is just what he does. The second movement (starting at 3:46) shows something different, something that we have never seen in Halo title yet, his humanity. The second movement throws us back to old Halo soundtrack tropes starting with (6:01) the ringing bells and the stout piano (6:05). This second half feels not like he is saving humanity but also himself in the process.

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