Friday, February 29, 2008

Blog Update For February

Brawl has a release date! The 6th of June is supposedly the release date for Super Smash Bro's Brawl in Europe. On Gamespot, this is the listed release date, although, having said that, there has been no such mention on the Dojo. Furthermore, this is some what undermined by Game's website listing the release date as the 1st of May and Nintendo, the publisher of Brawl, refusing to confirm any of these release dates. Personally, I think it will come out 6th June, but that date is not set in stone just yet. It will probably be confirmed after the American release date (March24th)

Also, you will have noticed I have slightly spruced up the design. I hope you like the improvements. The next couple of months I will be working to put the Podcast together and hopeful securing some interviews for the blog. Then the focus will switch to the Flash Media Player - to play said podcasts and videos. Finally, when that is all done, I will hopefully have a proper server and I will build a forum. If you would like to secure your desired user name, because there will be so much demand, I will be setting up a form on the forum page in the coming months. Please do, as it will give me an idea of the no. of users. All you will need to do is write down your desired user name and your email address so I can contact you when the forum is being built.

GDC was this month. There was a very interesting video about Fable Two presented by Peter Molyneux. It really made me want to dig up my copy of Fable. It was a shame, as being English, no one got any of his ironic jokes, however, I still enjoyed it. One highlight was when he went to visit his husband and child (yes, he was female and had to be pregnant - [he apologised for there being no labour mini game) When he arrived, his child ran up to him and was like "Hey Mummy, your home!" Whereas, when he went up to his husband, he was cross that he had left him for so long. Then, his co-op partner just shot his husband. Peter then explained how that was it, game over for his husband. He could not and would not come back. When he went away adventuring, his child would be taken in to an orphanage. I may possibly be doing a 3 part feature, one a preview on F2, one discussing the Good/Bad decisions that make the heart of Fable and a third on something else.

Also, there was a video for the new Unreal Engine. Personal highlight was the "Block of meat we built" This was to demonstrate the soft body physics engine the new build will feature. Also, there were some cool water effects. The engine was demoed with the Gears of War protagonist. Talking of Gears of War, I purchased a copy for a friend on Ebay, so, if it turns up on Wednesday, I will be able to play on it for that evening.

Oh yes, there was a , albeit brief, trailer of Gears of War. Very cool and well worth checking out (All links are at the bottom of the post)

GDC, as good as it is now, will, like E3, change. This is because it is meant to be an academic event and, following the collapse of E3, it has become much more commercialised. I feel this is good, as I don't want another E3, however, the way they are securing this future is by banning all non-full time journalists. Meaning - I can't go.

Also, Civilization Revolutions has been put on indefinite hold for the Wii (not for the 360 or the PS3) This usually means cancelled, which will be a shame as the Wii is the console most suited to this title.

EA Bought 2K this month. 2K being the publisher of Civilization. While Sid doesn't seem to be too fussed, I am worried as EA has a habit of milking cows till they bleed, and even then. I can't count on all my fingers and toes the number of Sims titles there have been, for example. We will have to see where this partnership goes, because, between the two of them, they have quite a lot of every market cornered. The last big publisher is THQ and Sega maybe. Oh, and Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, but they don't count.

Op-Ed Article: Graphics Galore (title pending) I will be looking at the supposed "HD Era" and how good good graphics actually are. Can they be the icing on a cake or make up on a elephant? You will have to read tomorrow to find out.

Links

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Viva Pinata on Ebay

Just a quick post. Thought I would let you know, in a kind of VG reader exclusive, that I am selling Viva Pinata on ebay. You can bid on this item here. If you are interested please bid, or if you know anyone else who may be interested, please send the link to them. Any questions, you can always leave a comment!

Also, if anyone is interested, I am also selling a Rock Tumbler- Turns stones in to little gems. You can view that here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cloverfield and 28 Weeks Later

I went to go see Cloverfield at the weekend and wow, what a film it is. This film is amazing. As a testimony to this, when I went in, before the film started, it was quite a boisterous audience, however, when I left, when there is normally chat about the film, it was deadly silent. Cloverfield leads you into a false sense of security by showing a gentle humour 10 minute introduction about a party before throwing you in to the deep end. The deep end, as I will refer to it as, is amazing. The film takes elements out of so many great films and combines them perfectly. Obviously, the Hand-Cam comes from The Blair Witch Project, but "the Deep End" takes inspiration from films like Alien, 28 Days Later, King Kong and Godzilla among others. My only criticism is that the ending well, lacks ending. There was a place where I thought it was going to end, however, it didn't and the remaining 5 minutes of the film actually detracted from the entire film. However, considering there presence, I thought there was going to be something such as a mock CNN report on it "Ten Years On" to offer an explanation; which there wasn't. Despite that, I still highly recommend going to see it, although do suspend disbelief, because the camera they are using is amazing, the sound quality, picture quality and battery lift are absolutly outstanding!

Also last month, I managed to see 28 Weeks Later, a film I have wanted to see for quite some time. Is it any good, well, my comment for this film is much the same as it was to 28 Days Later. It starts fantastically, but then gradually degrades to senseless violence. Once again, the shots of an empty London are both creepy and effective, as are the panning shots showing people running away from "the Infected". The story is a little predictable. A highlight in the film for me was when you see an overgrown football pitch as it really adds to the sense of desertion. If you enjoyed 28 Days Later you should enjoy this, if you didn't you won't and if you haven't seen 28 Days Later, do so first as it is better.

Bonus Review!!!
No purchase necessary

I finished watching Green Wing for free on Virgin Media on demand; a fantastic service without a doubt. If you have VM, you can watch all of S1+2 of Green Wing on demand for free (under TV Choice>Comedy>G) If you can, do. It is probably my favourite comedy, out ranking even the Peep Show, and the ending so simply poetic and beautiful you could almost forget it is a bizarre comedy. If after watching the first episode you just thought it was weird, watch another one, because yes, it is weird, but you will get in to it. I would recommend this to anyone who isn't offended by a little nudity.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Medal of Honor 2: Heroes First Impressions

Some of you may have been aware that I got Medal of Honor for the Wii today. Yes. Medal of Honor. As in that clich├ęd WWII that's been around for too long.And no, I haven't taken leave of my senses. The reason I got Hereos is two fold. Firstly, it is meant to have a sweet control scheme - arguably the future of FPSs. But, more importantly, it has 32 player online. So, is the game any good. Well, as it turns out, I could have told you that before I got it.

Good parts:

  • Sweet controls
  • Neat, lagless online
  • Some funky gimicks
  • The arcade mode is fun
Bad parts:
  • It is so MoH, it feels like it is taking the mic out of itself
  • A couple of the gestures are fidly and annoying
  • The single player is Medal of Honour
I will use the remainder of this post moaning about the fiddly gestures. After briefly stating: no matter what impression you get from this, my initial impressions are good, the online is worth the wait.

The first point of frustration is the melee, executed by chucking the Wiiremote an N/Chuck forwards. This is very difficult to do and will usually end up with you reloading, loosing your aim, loosing your sense of direction and completely missing the enemy. I imagine, however, it is quite realistic, because you do not see the British army melee-ing people left right and centre, however, coming from Halo, it feels an intrinsic part of killing someone! Fortunately, online you do not have to bother with this, as you can just press Z.

The next example, is the sniper rifle. To alter the zoom, you rotate the Wiiremote. Apart from the fact this is very fiddly when you are being shot and you are also trying to line up a head shot, it adds nothing to the game as to zoom in in real life does not involve putting the gun upside down. It is good to see EA using the Wiiremote, but like Super Monkey Ball, some of it feels hit a miss.

Finally, the shotgun requires you to "pump" the N/Chuck. For the first two shots you will forget completely and wonder why you aren't shooting. Then, there are, perhaps, four shots after you have worked it out where it is quite cool and is a really nice finishing touch when you kill someone. The problem is, the shotgun isn't very good, and having to pump after every shot, like the melee, just messes up your aim.

There are some good ones, like the grenade throw, where how you throw actually effects the course of the grenade and of course aiming with the pointer is great! Please buy this game, as it may encourage a real shooter and the multiplayer is genuine fun. Full review coming out in March hopefully.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Band Mashups

I just got a press release from THQ and this quote was too good to miss:

"Fighting with a sniper violin or flamethrower guitar is something gamers should definitely look forward to."
Apart from the fact this game will be rubbish and, another cheap Wii game, this game also perfectly sums up the decay in the video game world. However, I now WANT to see how a game with "Sniper Violins" can ever work. You can read the full press release here.

In other news, my Live trial has run out, so I should now be able to increase productivity, getting reviews of Galaxy, Enter the Matrix, Rock Start Presents Table Tennis, Halo 3 and Forza. I also have plans for the website how I can make it look a little more, well, snazzy.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Importance of Being Online

My first Op-Ed article: How important is online?. I hope you enjoy it, I am working on my style and really appreciate any suggestions. Also, make sure you post your opinions, as they will be read out on the podcast next month! In this article, I will be discussing online and what it adds to and subtracts from games.

Online has, up until now, mainly something that PCs, and PCs only, do. Yes, the original Xbox connected to the internet, and technically so did the PS2, but even the Xbox was quite a lot of trouble to get it online and most games weren't even Live enabled. This has changed greatly in this generation. All current-generation consoles have online capabilities, in fact, I would go so far as to say, that online is what this generation is about. Great graphics barley make up half the market share, motion sensing is also about half the market share, but all 3 consoles, for better or for worse, have online. Not only this, but online is making stories for all 3 as well. Xbox Live has a massive reputation, obviously, but that isn't it, the PSN is trying to be a free, better version of Xbox Live and is one of Sonys main points to push. The Wii, also in the news about its online capabilities, namely how they are under-used, over-restricted and generally disappointing considering the Wii has built in Wi-fi. Finally, the PC's online is changing too, with Windows Live coming in to play, where some users are now paying for a service that used to be free. So to say online is at the forefront of gaming news would be a bit of an understatement, but how important is it really? Is it even a bad thing?

It is possible that online detracts from the games quality. As many of you will be aware, I recently purchased and completed Halo 3. I did so on the second to hardest difficultly, did not play it obsessively and managed to complete it in a matter of days (less than 5) For a game which has been in production for over 2 years, is that not a little short? If I had paid £40 for this game (as it happens, I managed to get it pre-owned) and did not have any intention of getting Live, I would be very disappointed with the game. While online may be very wide-spread, it isn't 100%. Some people could argue that, if you don't have online, you don't get Halo. I agree, but why should they miss out on a fantastic, albeit brief, game. Besides, it isn't just Halo. Call of Duty is another example (And I am sure Metal Gear Solid will be too) Some of this shortness can be attributed to the fact developers need to make amazing graphics or otherwise their title will just be shunned (that is what next months article will be on) However, I don't think it can be entirely responsible, as many of these games use pre-built engines anyway.

Also, as game developers are presuming the game is going to go online, they are delivering un-finished games. This used to be limited to PCs, where developers would just release a patch a month after launch. This was infuriating for the consumer, and when games are costing upwards of £40, it really isn't acceptable. That is not the worst of it, however. Some games take content out that had already been produced at the games launch to sell for more profits. Games aren't cheap, games are short, half the market is PAYING for online anyway, there really shouldn't be additional fees, particularly for horse armour.

That brings me on to my next point, cost. If assuming that you need online to enjoy a game to the full, you are going to need to spend some money. The 360 is the most guilty of this. If, firstly, doesn't have built in Wi-Fi. This is in itself shockingly bad, given that even the underpowered Wii does. But it gets worse, Microsoft charge £60 for the Wi-Fi card. It isn't a special card, it is a USB wireless adaptor, something that you can buy for PC for under £20 without going budget. It isn't even reliable, my friend has got through 4 since getting his 360 this Christmas. Surely Microsoft has taken enough of your money now? No, you have to pay for online. I mean, come on, that is ridiculous. Yes, Live is better than both the PSN and, obviously, the Wii, but £40 a year better? The truth is no, but it won't change because everyone, myself included, will keep buying it because they want to play their games online. It isn't just Microsoft who will rob you though, the PS3 has got a game coming out later this year BUILT around the idea of micro-transactions (Home)

Despite all that, online does have many good points too. The most obvious one is how it extends the game. Single player, no matter how long, will eventually get old, in theory, a decent evolving online game won't. Case in point: Halo. In 5 years time, Halo will still be a blast to play online. Offline multiplayer requires organisation, online doesn't Online means you can pick the game up for 5-10 minutes, play and go. Online means you can meet your friends online and be able to play them with out breaking commitments to other ties.

Also, many game developers will release more content after launch. Sometimes you will have to pay, sometimes you won't. It means that if they find something that isn't balanced, it can be fixed, increasing the longevity of the game. Halo periodically releases new maps that eventually become free. This, once again, keeps players coming back and helps to keep the game fresh. Yes, micro-transactions aren't cool, but if the content is right, then why not? You pay for games. I am not talking about horse armour, something I will never forgive Bethesda Studios for, but extra missions, new maps, different variants etc.

Finally, one of the key things about technology at the moment is user generated content. Take a look at any modern "Web 2.0" site. Post comments and write blog links are everywhere. Games are starting to embrace this, most obviously with things like Mii creation, but also more crucially things like screen shots and movies. Last generation, there were loads of movies created by fans using their favourite games, just search YouTube for Halo 2 Red Vs. Blue if you don't believe me. Or Halo Music Videos But this generation, things can get a little more advanced. With the ease of online, users can work together to make really good content. The online community is ready to embrace you.

So, do we need online? It definitely makes developers lazy, both with length of single player and bug fixing, but mulitplayer is usually the most fun element in a game and online multiplies that tenfold. I recently marked Metroid Prime 3: Corruption down for not having it. It would be, quite frankly, hypocritical to say no to online, as I just finished a Halo game online. However, one thing that might be possible if a developer was feeling really kind, and in some ways Metal Gear Solid is going to do this, is ship the offline portion on the disk having spent all the development time creating it. Then, because it will take a few months for everyone to complete, they develop the online portion and deliver it digitally. People who don't have online won't receive it, but it doesn't matter, because they won't be using it either. However, this won't happen as people are buying short games at full price. What I think we are going to see, however, is single player stuff being added later for a fee. Please leave your thoughts, comments and suggestions how I can make these articles better in the remarks button below.
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