Jan 142014
 

Mirror's_Edge_2

Everyone is looking forward to something this year. Here are my most anticipated games of 2014.

 

 Mirrors Edge 2

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By far in my opinion the prettiest game of the last gen and a true cult game. this follow up (prequel) is very much on my to watch list. However I do not think that we will see a release this year, but some gameplay footage would satisfy me.

 

Watch Dogs 

 

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Even though this game has got a lengthy delay which should cause some concern, I am still very much getting this when I buy my next gen console (lets hope I have the money for it). 

 

Never Ending Nightmares

 

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I am so happy that this game got the funding and attention that it fully warranted.  This is more than just a game, and I fully recommend you go and check out the story behind this game.

 

The Witcher 3: wild hunt

 

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I don’t care if this game doesn’t come out for another 2 years; it looks epic and sounds epic.

 

  Paradise Lost

 

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An intriguing indie title that I come across on greenlight some time ago. Its narrative is about you playing as an impossible being escaping from a research facility.  

 

The Witness

  

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John Blow’s PS4 title looks wonderful and sounds strange, perfect! 

 

 Super Smash Bros: Wii U

 

  

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Probably the sole reason why I got a Wii U in the first place (I’m joking, I think). Cannot wait to return to the series, and I hope that there isn’t a confusing story mode or a lag online!

 

  Below

  

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Not much about this Xbox one indie title, but it looks good.

 

  Everybody’s Gone to the rapture

    

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A spiritual successor to one of my favourite indie titles dear Esther. This game allows you to explore the lives of 6 people 5 hours before the apocalypse.

 

 Mario Kart 8

     Mario-Kart-8-2

I know this is rather predictable, but as soon I saw those cars racing underneath that track I got pretty excited (Plus Mario Kart makes for some excellent drinking games) 

Well that’s my list what’s yours? 

Aug 232013
 

caution

Everyone suffers from a bit of frenzy when they seemingly cannot do something correct. But it is the gamer who probably sees this frustration the most.

 

My housemates’ boyfriend has ridiculous gamer-rage over FIFA; I’m talking about full on stomping the floor, chucking the controller and punching the wall. The view of Gamers has obviously changed from angry fourteen-year-old boys throwing tantrums to more generalised acceptance as everyone has a smartphone or tablet with “games” and therefore can be considered a “gamer”. But what has been evolving in the past 2-3 years is how easily consumers can get in contact with developers with social media sites. Indie developers rely on such platforms as kickstarter and Steam Greenlight to get interest and money and in return we get access and a greater say than ever before whilst games are in development. But it is the development of how the Internet works and what people can now do with it that has lead to this unprecedented amount of abuse and rage in some cases. I take the most recent example of this being the happenings around Fez developer Phil Fish. It’s unfortunate that Fish took this action but this gamer hate quite simply doubled when he announced that he was stopping Fez 2.  However in contrast Gamer rage has been a force of decent means, such as in the inclusion of SMB Melee in Evo 13, in which the backlash from social media sites (including their own) was enough to make them revoke their action. We can also say that Gamer rage has also taken form in the fan bases of games; you think that Mirrors Edge 2 would be in production if it didn’t have the large out cry for it to happen?

 

With regards to fandom comes the rage that stems from “console fan boys” a rather retro term to use now days but still relevant and a somewhat important aspect of the industry, as it has led to the Mass effect 3 change and the Microsoft’s backtracking one the Xbx one. As we full well know the biggest console showdown  is just around the corner and you can be sure that the marketing is going to be huge this year, put into perspective that this kind of competition hasn’t happened in a very long time, and as a result the gamer hate on forums and sites is particularly more extreme than it usually is. This kind of argument (lets call it that) is based on many years of gaming but also in the information we digest from the Internet, honestly did I really bother about the technical spec when the Ps2 came out, no.

The information that we can attain instantaneous means that we have a better view of what we are purchasing or what topic of news we are talking about. This in turn affects how games are made for us, because we can say if a gamer is rubbish and it’s because of this we have (in my opinion) a saturation of FPS games as this is what consumers tend to buy the most of. When we walk into a store we already have a preconceived idea of what the game is, and is it any good all this from things we have read. Very rarely would you now go in store and take a chance on a game in which the information you have been on the back of the disk case. This is a consequence of the times, however the way we vent our rage and in some cases hate, may mean that we are limiting the variety of games we can pick up from the shop. So when you are next in the shop take a chance at something you don’t know much about, because it might end up surprising you (or you could just whine about it).    

Jul 242013
 

James Silva, one of the biggest names that has come out of the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace, went toe to toe with sensationalist and media bully, Ben Kuchera.

The situation started by Silva stating that the Xbox One indie policy rumor isn’t a backtrack but more of a clarification. Soon after, Ben Kuchera responded to Silva to notify him that he was incorrect. As Silva stood his ground and added examples of how Microsoft’s publishing rules work, Kuchera wanted none of it and continued to try to hammer the point of Microsoft’s perceived backtrack.

Kuchera gleefully pointed out that self published games will require an approval from Microsoft, which Silva explained was to prevent Gamer Score fraud. Silva informed Kuchera that learning the facts before jumping to conclusions absolutely helps when writing about how something works. Unfortunately, Kuchera decided to point out that fraud wouldn’t hurt Sony’s trophy system. James Silva’s partner in crime responded that Microsoft’s system is more popular and an Silva finally pointed out that Sony has an approval policy as well.

Kuchera at this point wasn’t getting it. He became frustrated at the fact that devs were pointing out the flaws in a full-feature self published environment and announced that he wasn’t going to continue the conversation. This is Ben Kuchera though, he came back to try to argue that indies on Vita and PS3 were better and finally that the Xbox Live Indie Games weren’t even relevant to the discussion.

Take a look at the conversation below and tell us who you think came out on top:

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Jul 232013
 

xbox-one-logo-wallpaperXbox One fans have started up a petition to get back the original ‘Xbox One we were promised at E3’. Microsoft reversed the restrictions that they named at E3, such as the DRM, a few weeks after the big conference was held. The petition has hit over 25,000 signatures and is still counting on 7,655 until it hits its maximum.

Microsoft reversed it’s policies for the next-gen Xbox to win their fans back over and when it was announced many people sighed a big sigh of relief. So why are there so many people wanting them to change it back again?

To me, the new console isn’t much of a problem. Sure, it’s just an overpowered Xbox 360 but it takes off all of the restrictions that people moaned about in the first place. I’m not surprised that Microsoft are so confused! It just seems like they can’t win anyone over anymore, and that really is a bit heart breaking.

I feel like no matter what Microsoft does to try to keep people happy, there’s always something that they are missing. In my honest opinion, they need to stop for a few years and focus on something different, then go back to the drawing board and create a console that will blow every other console off the market.

As much as it would please the people who have signed the petition, I don’t think that Microsoft are going to reverse everything again. If they do, they’d be stupid. There was so much hatred for the Xbox One before, so going back on their reversal is the total wrong way of winning the audience back. But, at the same time, they don’t have anything to lose. They are just fighting a losing battle, in my eyes.

I feel like the Xbox One shouldn’t have been changed in the first place, as it does add in new features that can enhance your gameplay experience. The only thing that really bothered me was the used games problem. Used games are a good thing for the industry, not a bad thing. Massive boo-boo there, Microsoft! But regardless, they shouldn’t have changed the whole thing. Maybe just tweaked some of the features.

What are you guys thinking about it? Do you agree with the petition and are going to sign it, or are you staying away from it?

Mar 252013
 

Gears of War has become the poster child for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 ever since the original’s release way back in November of 2006. With this generation of consoles quickly winding down, it’s only fitting that Epic and Microsoft release one last Gears of War before focus shifts to whatever the next Xbox will be named. But still, even with that “fitting” nature, many people still wondered if Gears of War Judgment was necessary. But more importantly, with it now being a direct spin off from the previous games, would it acquire the same passion and care that the last three installments so eloquently flaunted?

The Locust invasion story has never been a particularly fascinating one in the Gears universe. It’s been the constant string tying all four installments together but the storytelling mostly relied on your care for the main four COG members: Marcus, Dom, Baird, and Cole. With the ending of Gears of War 3, it was abundantly clear that Marcus and Dom’s stories were over, meaning placing them in a subsequent sequel would feel forced and unnecessary. To avoid that, Epic and People Can Fly decided to delve into the previously untold backstory of Cole and Baird. It’s been alluded to that they were on trial before meeting up with Marcus and Dom but the actual ins and outs of that trial have never been elaborated upon. In Gears of War Judgment, all your questions regarding that trial are answered, although the answers may be much less interesting that you had once thought.

Judgment introduces two new characters that join Cole and Baird on their journey, Padduk and Sophia. These characters are given slight backstories but never anything that propels them up to what you already know about Cole and Baird. Despite some of People Can Fly’s efforts, Cole and Baird are the two characters you ultimately care about. I’ve always had a slight admiration for Baird, though I understand that isn’t the popular opinion regarding him. That being said, him and Cole are especially reserved this go around, never really exerting their standard “hoorah” bravado. The actual story is told almost exclusively in flashbacks from the four characters, with you taking control of that character each time they give their “testimony.” Sadly, the trial itself is incredibly uninteresting and never becomes anything more than a platform to propel the next gameplay section forward.

Gears of War Judgment

The Unreal Engine has been a staple of the Gears series for years, and it’s beginning to show. The same grimy nature of the enemies and busted buildings still exist. On top of all that, the color palate remains rather bleak, apart from some surprising use of the always allusive blue color near the end of the game. That doesn’t mean that there’s a complete lack of variety however as some of the more open areas flaunt some really nice scenic views. These shots are few and far in between but when they come up, it makes you want to stop moving and just examine this ravaged world.

One of the biggest question marks heading into Judgment was how in the world the developers could make this single player campaign engaging yet again. Epic managed to hold our attention for three straight games but at the end of Gears of War 3, I felt more than done with Gears of War’s single player. With development now shifting to the Polish studio, People Can Fly, odds were stacked against them in their hopes of making their first Gears campaign an interesting one.

But they’ve managed to overcome those odds mainly due to the addition of a “declassified” objective that is available before the start of every section. These declassified objectives can vary from forcing you to use certain weapons all the way to giving you a time limit that forces you to hurry through the current section. The time limit contrivance can be a bit annoying but every declassified objective manages to add an interesting layer that otherwise would not exist. Also thrown into the campaign are horde mode sections that force you to fend off two or three attacking waves of Locust. The additions People Can Fly installs into the single player work brilliantly in revitalizing what seemed to be a lifeless experience prior to release.

Gears of War Judgment Review

There are a few fundamental changes that Judgment inserts which were not in previous installments. For example, instead of using the d-pad for weapon changes, you now tap Y to alternate between your two weapons. It’s a tad frustrating at first due to the removal of one of your weapon slots, but you quickly learn to get used to the new Call of Duty esque weapon swapping. With this change, you now use LB to throw grenades, which led to me using grenades much more often than I previously did. Now instead of being forced to swap out of your weapon mid firefight, you can simply tap LB and let whatever modified grenade you have in your inventory fly. It’s a smart but subtle change that goes a long way in making the Gears experience more accessible and easy to handle.

The lifeblood of the Gears franchise has forever been its expansive multiplayer. I remember many of nights spent playing Gears 1 and 2’s online multiplayer until I could see sunlight creeping back through my window after long hours filled with Coca Cola and Cheese Puffs. That magic had worn off slightly when Gears 3 released but that didn’t mean the multiplayer was any less impressive. By far the most bewildering part of Judgment’s multiplayer is the lack of any kind of Horde mode. If you remember correctly, Horde was the wave based survival mode focused on upgrading turrets and barriers. It was a widely loved feature that somehow did not make it into Judgment.

Instead, we have received a mode simply called “Survival.” Survival is also wave based but instead of having fifty waves, it only has ten. Also instead of being able to upgrade barriers and such, you can simply repair them after the Horde does their damage. You begin Survival by choosing between four classes: Medic, Engineer, Soldier, and Scout. Each class has its own special ability such as the engineer can repair barriers whereas the soldier can throw out a grenade that refills your teammate’s ammo. Survival is an acceptable mode that provides a few thrills, but never anything on the level of Horde. Due to that, you’re left feeling immensely unsatisfied after each round comes to a conclusion.

gears of war

Not all the new modes are unsatisfying however as People Can Fly combined both the Beast mode from Gears 3 and the aforementioned Survival mode to form Overrun. Overrun involves two teams taking turns at attacking emergence holes that have been covered up by COG soldiers. As the horde, you’re choosing between multiple classes and pushing forward in hopes of breaking down enemy barriers and ultimately opening up room for an all-out rush on the E-Hole. Once you do destroy the cover on the E-Hole, the COG falls back to another area and the process begins anew. Once you destroy the covering yet again, the COG falls back to their generator which is the last line of defense. If you destroy that generator, that round is over and you transition to the COG side as you try to fight off the invading Horde. It may sound a bit tedious, and it does become a little tiresome after multiple hours of playtime, but it’s still a very fun mode to dive yourself into.

The head to head multiplayer feels mostly unchanged in the grand scheme of things. The biggest change is due to the new way you switch weapons, it forces you to only have one main weapon. Thankfully, you do get to choose what weapon you want before the match begins and there are still larger weapons strewn across the maps. But it seems as if everyone selects the Gnasher Shotgun as their one weapon, leading to a mostly shotgun dominated multiplayer experience. Possibly my biggest complaint regarding Judgment’s multiplayer is in regards to the lack of maps. There seems to be around four maps that are played on religiously, which gives me the bad feeling that if you want more variety, you better get ready to pay for some DLC.

I’ve never been a fan of Halo nor the Call of Duty franchises, but for some reason I’ve always had a love for Gears of War. That being said, I did not expect Judgment to be the tight little bow I had hoped would wrap up this beloved franchise. I, like many others, felt like Judgment was simply one last cash grab from Microsoft before the Xbox 360 ultimately rode off into the sunset. Thankfully, I was wrong. While Baird and Cole’s story isn’t the most interesting, the gameplay mechanics surrounding it make up for the dull storytelling and the multiplayer remains interesting, if not a little dumbed down from previous installments. Gears of War Judgment overachieves, which is something many did not expect, but it’s become clear that the series deserves to be put to rest.

Bulletstorm 2, anyone?

XBox 360

Graphics

80
 

Audio

85
 

Gameplay

80

Creativity

85
 

Execution

85
 

Offset

80
    

8.3

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Jan 142013
 

It’s becoming that time yet again, folks. It’s time for the next gen hardware rumors to start swirling about like a Disney Channel character’s hair. This time around the rumor is being surfaced by a group that seems to know their business, Baird Equity Research. Colin Sebastian, a Baird representative, took his time to gather up all the rumors that have been floating around for the past year and has concluded (somehow) that both Sony and Microsoft will reveal their consoles just prior to E3 in June. Here are some direct quotes from Sebastian:

“Our checks suggest that next-generation console hardware will be largely built from ‘off the shelf’ high-end PC components, along with hybrid physical/digital distribution models, enhanced voice controls and motion sensing (Kinect integration with every Xbox), and broad multi-media capabilities,” he stated.

He also said: “Moreover, a PC-based architecture (Intel chips in the case of Xbox) should have a number of advantages over custom-developed silicon: for one, the learning curve for software developers will be shorter than completely new technology. Second, the cost of production and retail price points should be lower than prior console launches.”

Also predicted was that Sony would release their console in October while Mirosoft would release the new Xbox in November. Perhaps one of the best tidbits was that both consoles are expected to be $350-$400, a price point that is significantly lower than the PS3’s original $600 price tag.

As of right now this is all one groups prediction, with no real facts to back it up, but it does seem likely in the grand scheme of things. We shall see if Mr. Sebastian is correct in just a few more months as E3 begins to slowly creep upon us.

Source

Nov 052012
 

Halo 4 comes out today, and is unsurprising one of the biggest releases of the year. The general consensus seems to be that the game is pretty damn great, even if it doesn’t do a lot to push the series forward. While Halo 4 may not be the most innovative game, the Halo series is one of the most influential series in the history of video games. Halo has contributed several key innovations to the industry, as well as some more subtle contributions. I think it’s safe to say that without the Halo series, first person shooters, especially on consoles, would simply not be what they today, whether that is a good thing or not is up to the individual. I am not here to judge the positives or negatives of Halo’s influence on the industry, I simply want to illustrate just how influential it has been.

10. Downloadable Content

While not the first example of downloadable content, the several map packs released for Halo 2 were one of the first examples of being able to add on to a console game. Sure, mods and updates had existed on PC games for years at that point, but being able to buy new content for a game, especially on a console, without having to go buy a boxed expansion pack was certainly a fairly new concept at the time, and it certainly paved the way for the DLC scene of today that started becoming popular when the 360 launched a year later.

9. Two Weapon Limit

Before Halo came out in 2001, the concept of a weapon limit was a pretty foreign one. It had been done before, but like many of the features on this list, it was popularized by Halo. The two weapon limit added a layer strategy to your weapon selection that wasn’t present in games like Doom and Quake where you could carry as many weapons as you wanted.

8. Theater Mode

Once again, demo recording had existed for years on the PC by the time Halo 3 implemented Theater Mode, but it was still an influential addition. This was one of the first times that demo recording was a feature built into the game with an in-game way to edit and share your videos. Without Theater Mode in Halo 3, you wouldn’t have seen similar features being implemented into Uncharted and Call of Duty.

7. Online Community

For as long as video games have been playable with others over the internet, there have been online communities. However, instead of the game and the community being two separate entities, Halo combined them. Halo 2 was one of the first games to provide players with a means of connecting within the frame work of the game itself. The game had the most in-depth friends list at the time, with fully integrated clan support and interesting connectivity between the game and the website. Players could connect with their in-game friends on the game’s website and easily manage clans and view their friends status. This may all sound basic by today’s standards, but at the time it was an amazing step forward.

6. Stat Tracking

Connecting nicely to the last topic, Halo 2′s website was also revolutionary in terms of stat tracking. Players could view their entire game history, complete with detailed statistics. If you were beaten badly by another player, you could go onto the website, look up the game, and then view that players game history and skill level. With subsequent releases in the series, they added crazy amounts of stat tracking like heat maps, detailed weapons stats ( accuracy, kills, headshots), and detailed accounts of your medals and game averages. Like most of the entries on this list, this type of stat tracking is pretty much expected today, but at the time it was truly amazing.

Oct 272012
 

Within seconds of starting Serious Sam 3: BFE’s Single Player campaign, you’ll have a face to face encounter with your first extraterrestrial enemy. You’re unarmed. The beast in question is a charging, snarling, muscluar cyclops with shoulders as wide as a truck. Within the next few seconds, you are plunging fists into the abomination’s face and tearing out it’s singular eye with your bare hands, the corpse collapsing to the floor in a bloody mess. This approach to getting the job done pretty much reflects Croteam’s approach to the whole game.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Serious Sam series, it has roots in PC gaming history as being chaotic, over-the-top FPS action. The gimmick has always been expansive and open level design which Croteam fills with incredible numbers of enemies who set about simultaneously charging and attacking you. Unlike any other FPS I’ve experienced, the Serious Sam games really do pit you as the centre of the action. There are no misconceptions, no stealth – everything is out to kill you as quicky and brutally as possible. Handily, Sam is a bit of a badass.

Just a normal day at the Office. Who says men can’t multi-task?

Flying in the face of pretty much the last decade of action games, the only cover Sam has is his T-Shirt. This is all about taking on insurmountable odds with a satisfying and powerful arsenal whilst keeping moving at all times. There’s no time to hide, no where to camp and no where to stop running to catch your breath – unlike some modern military shooters.

This third installment in the series, originally released on the PC at the end of last year and recently launched on the Xbox Live Arcade sees players once more take control of Sam and his T-Shirt to do battle and hopefully protect the Earth from complete alien domination. Sam seems to have stepped up to fill in some of the gaping chasms left in gaming by the polygonal abortion that calls itself ‘Duke Nukem Forever.’ Sam is the epitome of a steroid ridden, wisecracking, fearless headcase, always happy to punch evil straight in the balls.

For when you have to give them both barrels. Twice.

The opening levels prove frustrating, especially if you are aware of what you can expect from the weaponry later in the game. After the aformentioned eyeball ripping, you quickly find your starting kit of a sledgehammer, a pistol and a woeful shotgun (don’t worry, there’s a better one later) and you are stuck with these for a touch too long. They feel ineffective and lightweight which goes against the grain when the game’s core mechanic centres on going into action all-guns blazing.

The pace picks up eventually, as the enemy headcount rises dramatically and the weaponry improves to counter this. The weapons on offer are FPS stalwarts, shotguns, assault rifles, rocket launchers, with only the mystical leash offering anything fresh in terms of mechanics. Even the leash will feel familiar if you’ve played Bulletstorm but it’s implementation is slightly different, given the numbers of adversaries facing Sam.

So far, so Serious Sam. It’s more of the same essentially, but with a good level of graphical shine. The engine has to be capable of coping with the high number of attackers and long draw distances, which it does so admirably. This is presumeably possible as the AI is about as basic as it gets and although textures and enviroments look good, the level of effects is pretty average. To be fair to the AI, it doesn’t really need to be much more than ‘Head for Sam > Attack Sam’ to tick the right boxes.

Audio is nothing revolutionary either, but it is worth noting that the bestiary is very distinguishable through clear audio clues. The approaching suicide bombers’ incessant “AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH” will haunt you, as will the boney, clattering gallop of the Kleer. These subconciously help you to switch to an appropriate weapon and aim in the right direction, all helping to tighten the experience

This may look like a tough situation, but what you can’t see here is the other 60 aliens.

Multiplayer has been well catered for, with the entire Single Player campaign being playable co-operatively, including local split-screen, with the number of enemies being increased exponentially. The highlight (with the right players) is the excellent Survival mode, which pits players against wave after wave of nasties, serving to really highlight the strengths of the game mechanics.

The core gameplay will fulfill but not exceed the expecations of the series’ fans. The increase in graphical finesse is welcome, but is also not going to set the world alight. Ultimately, for 1200 MS Points, Serious Sam 3: BFE represents solid value and a predictable, but very enjoyable, pure arcade FPS experience. Fans of the series are well catered for and will be pleased to see Sam has not gone the way of a certain Mr. Nukem. Newcomers to the series, well, you’re in for some sweaty palms and swearing, but also a grin.

XBox 360

Graphics

75
 

Audio

70
 

Gameplay

85

Creativity

70
 

Execution

85
 

Offset

75
    

7.7

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Oct 132012
 

 

 (A custom picture I made showing the clash between physical media and digital downloads. We want the best of both worlds but currently DLCs are digital download only.)

 

So what is a D.L.C? Simply put, it’s an extra add-on to a game that the game didn’t originally come with. It doesn’t have to cost money, as many free DLCs have been released before, but in general because the content costs money to produce, Game studios tend to charge for it.

Depending on the company, you either love, hate, or ignore DLC content altogether. Some companies have hard and fast rules against using DLCs and others revel in it, wanting customers to spend more money on downloaded content.

But as with every new change in Gaming we should be responsible and ask questions about it first before jumping in wholeheartedly. Firstly, how should the game industry be treating DLCs and what practices should they follow? Secondly, do DLCs have a place in gaming and if so what is that place and what lines should the industry not cross? Finally, which companies have adhered to these principles and which are out there to simply make more profit?
We’ll start off with a company that loves DLCs and analyze DLCs in general as we go along.

 

(For some companies, DLCs are angels sent from Heaven, regardless of how you distribute them.)

The first extreme example we have comes from BioWare who had their popular Mass Effect 3 game packaged with a day one DLC. As the name implies, if you’re willing to pay extra for it, in this case it was 10 dollars (800 Microsoft points), you could get additional content that would make your gaming experience better.

Later on it was found that large parts of the DLC were on every disc sold to consumers and required a special key to unlock on the disc. The DLC was also found to be integral to the story of the game and interwoven into the whole second half of the game as well.

To analyze the issue better though we need to speak more about DLCs in general.

Here is the first central rule to DLCs:

———
Principle 1 “Spirit of a D.L.C”
 
This is an unspoken rule in the gaming industry that implies if a DLC comes out it must not be central or vital to the core of a game. A game must be enjoyable and finished completely without a DLC, or it’s like your charging customers extra for a piece to finish their unfinished game. Doing that reeks of a scam and smells of fraud because no one likes to be scammed and forced to buy unfinished games. The Spirit of a DLC is that it only provides fun content after the fact that tacks onto a game.
 
———
 
 

Bioware actually admits to this central tenet of DLCs. 

Casey Hudson Executive Producer of Mass Effect 3:

“The DLC, whether it’s day one or not, is always going to be sugar on top, the extra,” he told VentureBeat. “You know, the extra little bits of content that tell side stories.”

“But it’s always optional. We would never take stuff out of the core game and only have it in DLC.”

Source

The whole gaming industry knows of this unspoken principle because they don’t want to be labelled scammers or fraudsters. They don’t want their customers to think of them as greedy tycoons out to suck ever penny out of them. But we have to remember that actions speak louder than words.

Some people break this rule and claim they don’t; the key to remember is to analyze their action. So let’s do that, let’s look over the evidence with Mass Effect 3.

1. Day One DLC: The day the DLC is released is important because it tells you when the development company was working on it. If it’s released on the same day as the game that means they were coding it, debugging it, and making it part the story of the gaming from its inception. It’s very very hard to tack on extra content when at the same time you’re making the game itself. There is a slippery slope that you may include something in the DLC that would make it critical to having it.

Also think of it from a game companies perspective. If this content is completely additional, why not just wait til we finish the game to code it and sell it a month or two later? We don’t put these things in boxes or on discs so distribution and production is next to nothing.

Day one DLCS are really an issue because, as we saw with ME3, the DLC was vital to experiencing the game. Most Day one DLCs tend to have this issue and very rarely are small additions because they’ve been worked on for months alongside the game itself and a lot of planning has gone on behind the scenes.

This isn’t my opinion, this is what Bioware says, and it completely agrees with me. When asked why large parts of the DLC were on the disc and why it seems like the game was built with it Bioware answered:

Mike Gamble of Bioware

“Because the plot of ME3 is so richly interwoven with the character
interactions and moments, you simply cannot use a DLC module to ‘insert’
a new character,” he said. “As we’ve mentioned before, that character
has to be planned and the framework has to be established ahead of time
for us to build off of with the DLC module.”

Source

Erik Kain from Forbes Magazine makes a great point about this topic:

“Imagine a band releases a 12-song album for $14.99. On the same exact
day the same band offers a downloadable extra that has three songs not
included on the album for an additional $4.99. Then the band says that
those extra songs are just “sugar on top” and that they’re trying to
release “awesome music” so fans should just stop complaining because
“they don’t know what it’s like to record music.”

Now imagine that the same band had, in previous years, released 15 song albums for $14.99.”

Source

So as has clearly been decided by gamers, Day one DLC, while idealistically can be acceptable, tends to make games worse off as the DLC tends to be vital to the game itself. It’s very difficult to create a cherry on top when you’re making the cake at the same time.

So for the gamers sake developers need to know to release their DLCs and produce them at a later date.

2. On the Disc: As mentioned above, when a game is included on the disc or large parts of it are interwoven into the game, you know you’ve got a problem on your hands.

Theoretically you could still fashion a game from scratch that was only an addition and put it on the disc but this rarely occurs. The temptation by producers to make a chunk of the game that is vital to the story is increased, than if they were to create the DLC after they made the original finished game.

By then they had already created a finished product. There’s no threat of adding on more content if you’ve already worked your hardest finishing up the original game.

3. Price – As a side note:  The price of a DLC is also something that should be scrutinized. Since it adds to a game and isn’t a game in and of itself and requires that you buy the game to use it, the price is critical, regardless of how much content you provide.

Most games do not require other games to play. Even Mass effect 3 can be played if you’ve never owned Mass Effect 2. But this isn’t the case with DLCs. You can never sell DLCs as they’re always connected to your account, and you never get a box or a disc for them. They require an upfront $60 dollar purchase of a previous game and they should not be integral to the story or the playing of the first game. They are the digital cherry on top, so to speak.

Given all these facts we can deduce what DLCs should cost. I’ll make this my second principle of DLCs:

———–

Principle 2 “Price of a D.L.C”

We can all agree that charging the same price as a full game is completely unethical as you’re not getting the same value as a full game. Even half the price of a full game is unheard of because DLCs do not add critical gameplay elements to any game; explained already because of principle 1.

So the red line in the sand for a DLC should be half of half the price of a game. Another way of putting that is 1/4 or 25% the price of a full game. Currently that’s $15 dollars.

That doesn’t mean every game should charge that much. It only means that should be the upper limit and no one should pay a dollar more. Only the best DLCs with the most content should even attempt to pay this much.

———–

BioWare Verdict

So given that the DLC was day one, that large parts of it were on the disc, and that the DLC was integral to experiencing the game which violates the spirit of a DLC, BioWare completely botched their gaming experience and as a result paid for it.

They also botched the ending of the game and as a result had to give gamers a new set of endings that actually ended the game off properly. Hopefully Bioware has learned from its mistakes and other companies can learn from them as well.

 

(For other companies, DLCs are like this ugly dog; kept at a distance.)

The other extreme side of the spectrum is the gaming juggernaut Nintendo. The statements they’ve made leave hardly any room for discussion:

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata

 “Nintendo, as a software maker, does not plan to [run a business] where our consumers cannot know in advance which [product] will appear as the result of their payment,” Iwata said. “As a software maker, Nintendo believes that its packaged software should be sold to our consumers in a form so that the consumers will know in advance that they can enjoy playing the software they purchased just as it is.”

Source

Reggie Fils-aime, President of Nintendo of America

Source
Nintendo seems to be worrying about the slippery slope with DLCs and how game companies might start off with good intentions but might end up selling incomplete games with DLC.

Nintendo’s zeal for their customers is impressive and even if it’s only a P.R gimmick it still feels good to know a company wants to do everything they can to give you a fulfilling experience.

But Nintendo does need to realize that DLCs are here to stay and we are buying them because sometimes they’re done extremely well and are extremely fun.

Some best selling well done DLCs are listed below:

Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare

 

This game literally added another 8 hours or so of a side story to the game of the year winner Read Dead Redemption. It also added a new mode to multiplayer that was survival oriented. It’s simply the closest a DLC has ever come to a standalone game and it was worth every penny for those that bought it. Nintendo has to understand that a world without DLC would mean a world without this amazing game.

 

The 5 Fallout 3 DLCs

 

For a lot of people, it was Fallout 3 that introduced them to the idea of DLCs. Fallout 3 really popularized the idea and showed the hidden potential and profit for companies willing to take on the endeavor.

Broken steel became a must own when it continued the story and increased your level cap and Point lookout gave us a real taste of the south. If that wasn’t enough, how about going on an Alient spaceship? Even if the first two were not must owns, the last 3 were extra experiences that gave the game hours more fun and another round of Fallout before Fallout New Vegas came out. Again if Nintendo owned the gaming industry, these gems would never have seen the light. 

Skyrim Dawnguard
 

As if Skyrim didn’t already have enough content, we had even more added on top of it! I have to say though, the price of the addon was excessive at 20 dollars. But then again, you get so much content with Skyrim to begin with, in the long run, you’ve already made your money twice over. Skyrim definitely deserved more than $60 when we purchased it.
Verdict

There are a ton of other great DLCs out there as well. GTA IV has two very popular ones and many of you have in mind examples of other great DLCs not mentioned. DLCs have a proven track record and while not every developer is good at making them, the fact that some can do so very well means that for gaming it’s a product that will be with us, and should be, as gamers enjoy these add-ons.

Nintendo has seemed to sense this and in the middle of 2012 announced their first DLC for New Super Mario Brothers 2. It was inevitable that it would happen but no one knew that it would come months after the strongly negative statements they made at the beginning of 2012. So in that sense Nintendo is a bit hypocritical but it’s all in the past now.

We all want Nintendo making DLCs and we know they’ll raise the standard high because they refuse to release games that are unfinished, as we’ve seen with their statements. As DLCs did better and people saw their potential, companies like Nintendo had to realize that this was a market they had to get into and was what gamers demanded of them.

 
Final thoughts

So we’ve gone over the companies that hold DLC up like a holy grail and we’ve also gone over the very pessimistic ones like Nintendo. We’ve learned the two most important principles when making a DLC and what game makers should price them at. The future is bright for DLCs as it’s an industry that has just started and been barely dabbled into.

Hopefully companies can get more creative with the ways they add onto games and possibly gamers as a result will hold onto their games longer knowing a DLC is imminent

What we need more of in DLCs is extra content from the games we love. What we need less of is gaming companies pawning off parts of their games and selling them unfinished, especially as Day One DLCS.

At the end of the day if game companies remember the key spirit of DLCs, they won’t go wrong:

Spirit of D.L.Cs

An unspoken rule in
the gaming industry that implies if a DLC comes out it must not be
central or vital to the core of a game. A game must be enjoyable and finished completely without a DLC,
or it’s like your charging customers extra for a piece to finish their
unfinished game. Doing that reeks of a scam and it smells of fraud because no one likes to be scammed and forced to buy unfinished games. The Spirit of a DLC is that it only provides fun content after the fact that tacks onto a game.

http://img52.imageshack.us/img52/272/immortalphoenixheaderco.png

www.ImmortalPhoenix.net

Aug 282012
 

^You

Yep you read that right. After the rumours began circulating based around titles found in the games code and a copyright application, Bethesda have just announced that the next DLC pack for Skyrim will be called Hearthfire and available for Xbox next week on September 4th priced at just 400 msp!

We love Skyrim because it is awesome and, well, goddamn dragons! But we all loved The Sims because it allowed us build our dream house and settle down. Now, the two collide because once you have built your Skyrim mansion, you can go onto add new sections, furnish it with display cases, an Arcane Enchanter, Apothecary Table, Kitchen as well as displaying a whole ton of trinkets and statues. Whether they be statues of beasts you have slayed in combat, or just the odd Mudcrab.

While you’re at it, how about settling down and having a few kids? Totally possible. Keep the place tidy though otherwise you could end up with a nasty Skeever infestation. Outside the building you’ll also be able to add to the grounds of your very own skyrim palace including beehives, fish hatcheries and cattle amongst others. Be wary of the odd giant, but to hell with that guy, just Fus Ro Dah him to let him now he’s not wanted and cut him up if he doesn’t take the hint.

Obviously, I’m just a tad excited, but if you aren’t too, then you are colder and more dead inside than a Dwarven Spider. So go watch the trailer below, calm down and start planning the totally awesome, Skyrim mansion you are going to be building come next week! Might be an idea to take the day off work too.

Aug 222012
 

Kinect has now been out for almost two years, and while the quality of the product has been debated back and forth, people have all agreed that the price was a bit too steep. That reasoning and the questionable software are two of the main reasons Kinect has not blown up exactly how Microsoft would have hoped. Microsoft has at least began to attempt a fix on one of those problems, slashing Kinect’s price down to $109.99.

Major Nelson announced:

“Today we are announcing a new price for Kinect. The new permanently reduced price will be US $109.99 in US. There will be also a permanently reduced price in North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions where Kinect is sold. Additionally, on October 4, the Kinect sensor will be available for a permanently reduced price in Australia and New Zealand.

The final retail price will vary in each region based on the currency and other variables

There are no price drop plans for EMEA and Japan.”

My apologies to Japan but it’s good that most of us should be seeing a 40 dollar price drop here soon. But is this 40 dollar price cut enough to make up for the lack of quality products you get once the Kinect has been purchased? What says you, world?

Jul 122012
 

Ever since the HD remake of Combat Evolved was released last year we have had a swings and roundabouts situation, a will they, won’t they remake Halo 2, meaning all games in the series would have HD support. Now it appears the questions have been answered with a big fat no.

Despite evidence to the contrary with the UK’s Official Xbox Magazine reporting that the game was on it’s way due to the success of Combat Evolved Anniversary, it now seems 343 Industries have confirmed that the game is not in development. When asked at a Q&A the official response was ”We are not working on that at this time. We are kind of busy.” which was followed by a similar statement from Microsfot when they were approached.

While this could be seen as a blow, it isn’t dissimilar from the way Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary was approached during it’s development and it is still two years until the ten year milestone for the second game. We could even have a new Xbox by then.

Jun 042012
 

If you’ve been under a rock for the past few hours then you may have missed the fact that Microsoft have given their massive, E3 opening Keynote and here is all the juicy information that you could possibly want from the future of the Xbox and Kinect in our E3 2012 Microsoft Keynote Round Up!

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider is one of the most famous series to ever grace a games console and this new origin story looks set to fill in a few gaps about how Lara got so badass but is the game moving away from the puzzling explorer roots of the franchise whether or not this will be a good thing remains to be seen.

The gameplay footage that we witnessed at the unveil showed a dishevelled Miss Croft moving through the desert island terrain and encountering a few bad guys, perhaps it was just the one section of the game but the whole thing looks set to be more of an action packed romp than intelligent puzzler. The weaponry ranges from basic bow and flaming arrows to pistols and shot guns with a handful of environmental hazards to boot.

Quick time button presses are also making a return and Xbox 360 gamers can expect to see the first piece of DLC for the game before other platforms. Sorry PS3 gamers.

Xbox New features

While the widely rumoured new console didn’t get an announcement, once again the Xbox feature list is being updated to give you the feel of a new console in the same old package you have sat under the TV. First up is the new countries and languages which support the Kinect’s voice search feature, Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland are the twelve new additions to the list.

Nike have also announced another step for them into technology, with the success of add ons to smartphones such as the Nike+ range the latest addition to Nikes fitness arsenal is the FuelBand. This allows you to track all your daily excertion in the form of Nike Fuel points and now the company is adding support for the new device to the Xbox. This will allow you to track your excercise and fitness levels and will on a weekly basis review how you’ve been doing and give you tips on how to imporve your fitness.

The biggest string added to the Xbox bow comes in the form of SmartGlass a feature which will be avaliable later in the year. The aim of SmartGlass is to get all of your devices synced together through the Xbox for example, if you’re watching a movie on the way home when you get there you can continue to play the video you were watching on your Windows Phone or Tablet through your TV via the Xbox. While a movie plays on your Xbox, the smaller devices will be used to give you information on what you are watching right in the palm of your hand. No more guessing what obscure movie you last saw that actress in.

Finally is what we have all been waiting for courtesy of a browser for the Xbox. Internet Explorer will support Kinect voice and gesture control and will give you the whole web straight from your console and it promises to be more impressive than any other console browser and will be coming to your console this fall.

Bing search through kinect, 12 new languages, Nike fuel band interration, smart glass gives cross device video etc, ie for xbox

Forza: Horizon

The Xbox exclusive racing series is set to make a welcome return but with a bit of a twist. Instead of limiting the series to the worlds greatest race tracks, Forza Horizon will unleash you on the unsuspecting wide world ready to street race into the stunning horizon

I call it stunning because that’s what this game looks like, the sun reflecting off wet tarmac or hot metal car bodies is incredible, while racing games looked as though they couldn’t improve on the realism, Forza laughed a these thoughts and just made everything look incredible. Where Need For Speed ran with the street racing thing and killed it out with game after game Forza: Horizon looks set to ressurect this once great sub genre when it releases on October 23rd.

Halo 4

Halo 4 kicked off the huge Microsoft event with some brand new, incredible gameplay footage. We got to see the covenant in an almost new form, the visual changes to the grunts are especially beautiful and it seems as though 343 have managed to make everything look a lot more organic and fluid from movement to tense creatures readying for a fight.

The Forerunner also finally made an appearance with a variety of new enemies and weapons that will leave you salivating for more. While there was some larger enemies which have the appearance of an ancient Elite, it seems to be the smaller enemies who will present more of a challenge. Some are minute almost the size of the minuscule Flood spores, they take a few hits to down and can provide some devastating attacks. The orange and grey menace of Forerunner also took to the sky showing us that they are multi talented but don’t look to be as irritating as the “bugger” flying enemies from previous games.

Story clues revealed with UNSC Infinity crashing into the Forerunner planet and being attacked by the hostile ancients with the last message before Master Chief is overpowered showing that the creatures were making their way to the bridge. Updates came from a small window on the HUD which also showed Cortana in her new form with shorter bangs. This wasn’t all we saw of our blue A.I friend as the Rampant Cortana makes a brief appearance toward the end screaming that we will never leave this planet.

Dance Central

Dancing games look as though they are getting ready to join in with the annual Christmas rush. Usher popped on stage to show off the latest incarnation of Dance Central but there wasn’t a whole lot of stuff to make anyone but die hard fans rush out with $60 on release day. Could Dance Central be heading the way of Guitar Hero and Rockband? Do we really need an annual installment?

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Blacklist sees Sam Fisher on the ground in the Iraq/Iran border once more saving the world from a terrorist organisation which has the world held secretly at large. As the title would suggest, Blacklist bases itself around terrorist organisations having a Blacklist of countries which are intended targets. The threat is made that unless US and NATO troops are pulled out of several countries then the terrorists will respond by attacking countries on the Blacklist.

Visually, Splinter Cell has had an overhaul, with the desert and indoor scenes all looking incredible ahead of the games release and as we would expect Kinect will play a part. Voice controls will allow you to distract targets by throwing your voice in game and hopefully more in the future. On top of what will be a great and wide reaching campaign there will also be the return of PvP modes and some coop so you can sleuth around saving the world with your friends.

Football

It’s almost that time of year again when sports games get there redesign and release ahead of the next season and the two biggest are easily Madden and Fifa. Each game is set to get a new overhaul courtesy of Kinect rather than just the usual team updates and visuals.

Madden will see controls possible almost toatally through the device allowing for an almost complete, controllerless experience. You can tell your players to change direction in the middle of runs, hike the ball and call out to other polayers, giving you the power to instruct your team mates in real time.

Fifa will have less of a Kinect focus with many already hailing last years release as a radical and welcome redesign, the Kinect voice commands will allow you to direct players off the ball but if you have a foul mouth, you may want to avoid giving the referee too much abuse as if they hear drop an ill timed F-bomb then he will come over for a quiet word.

Fable: The Journey

The next entry in the Fable series is set to be a full Kinect based romp and almost like a cartoony brother to Skyrim in appearance. To me Fable: The Journey looks great. Rather than RPG this latest offering seems to be a rail based shooter but less serious and more fun, bringing the old genre into the new world courtesy of pretty visuals and innovative controls.

The player will use the Kinect to cast different types of spells at waves of enemies with different gestures producing different spel;ls which will undoubtedly vary as to which enemies will be damaged.

South Park: Stick Of Truth

One game where I won’t rant about how amazing it looks is South Park but that doesn’t mean it is going to be a bad game. Rather than the arcade style and tower defence games that we have come to know from the series, the plan for stick of truth was to make it look like an episode of South Park. The game with have a some what RPG feel whilst keeping well within the humorous realm that the show is famous for.

The game is also set to mark the first time in which the show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have had to map out the town of South Park so expect some in depth laughs and adventure when Stick of Truth finally sees the light of day.

Resident Evil 6

Once we got passed the hilarious logo and the over the top special edition, Resident Evil 6 is finally shown off for what it is, a new, dark, horror outing into Racoon City and it looks good. Thankfully it seems as if the series is returning to its survival focused roots, seeming to ignore Resident Evil 5 and favouring instead what was my favourite game, Resident Evil 4.

Leon will have to make his way through the city and the action is in no way lacking, decapitation in a dark stair case never looked so damn good before the demonstration culminated in our hero surronded by more zombies than we have ever seen in one place ever.

Black Ops 2

While it is easily the biggest franchise in the world and most anticipated game of the year, Black Ops 2 following the Usher Dance Central ‘Zzz-fest’ meant for a pretty dull ending considering all the greatness that had come before it. But alas, many of us will dabble in “Call of Duty: Future Warfare” and it will without a doubt be the biggest selling game ever like its brothers before it, but it still just looks like Call of Duty to me.

Once more, sucks for PS3 fans as Black Ops 2 DLC will be available for Xbox first.

Jun 042012
 

During the Microsoft E3 press conference, as expected, the Kinect began to play a huge role early as EA Sports games were demonstrated using the Kinect sensor. During gameplay footage of FIFA 13, you were able to call out to other players, and even be penalized for shouting swear words that are within ears reach of an official. When the next Madden is available, you will be able to change routes, call audibles and even hike the ball. Joe Montana was needed to show this new feature off, apparently, as he stepped on stage to help demonstrate the Kinect features in the next Madden. The Kinect will no doubt be getting more love later in the show, and we expect some more Kinect features during EA’s press conference later on. Shortly after, Nike unveiled Nike+ Kinect Training, a feature that allows you to work out, track progress and even compete with other users. How do you feel about the more athletic Kinect features?

Gaming Irresponsibly will be bringing you updates as they are made available for the duration of E3. Stay tuned for more news and happenings from the industry’s largest convention here at GamingIrresponsibly.com! You can also follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter

Jun 042012
 

Microsoft didn’t waste any time opening up the Electronic Entertainment Expo with a bang. The first actual gameplay footage was shown during the conventions opening keynote presentation. The game features a more advanced looking HUD and more polished graphics (as expected). The gameplay footage took place inside a sprawling jungle landscape with attacking Covenant forces. Shortly after, a new threat was revealed, giving us what will more than likely be the villains of the second trilogy. The tag line “an ancient evil awakens” was plastered at the end of the demonstration. Also, during a brief trailer after the live gameplay footage, a very upset and deteriorating Cortana was shown. The game seemed to play just as similarly to previous Halo titles, so fans of the Bungie made titles should not be disappointed with what 343 Studios has produced. Did you see the gameplay footage? Are you excited for more Halo? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Gaming Irresponsibly will be bringing you updates as they are made available for the duration of E3. Stay tuned for more news and happenings from the industry’s largest convention here at GamingIrresponsibly.com! You can also follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter

Jun 042012
 

Ahead of Microsoft’s massive opening keynote presentation at E3 2012, some details about the latest entry to the GOW franchise have surfaced courtesy of Game Informer who have landed an exclusive for this months issue. The new game will feature a campaign set fifteen years prior to the events of the first Gears of War and a new, class based multiplayer.

The multiplayer will feature four COG classes while the locust has eight variants.

COG 

  • Engineer – Damon Baird – Equipped with a Gnasher and a Blowtorch, Damon can also deploy sentry turrets and repair damaged defences.
  • Medic – Sophia Hendricks – Carries a Lancer and Snub Pistol as well as Stim Grenades which can be used to revive downed team mates.
  • Scout – Garron Paduk – Armed with a Longshot and Snub Pistol Paduk also carries Beacon Grenades.
  • Soldier – Augustus Cole – Carries a Lancer and Boomshot, Augustus can drop ammo crates which can also be used by Baird for Blowtorch Ammo.

Locust

  • Wretch – Can jump over any hazards
  • Kantus – Heals team mates
  • Mauler – Carries a shield
  • Grenadier – Specialises in grenades
  • Ticker – Can eat defences and grenades
  • Bloodmount – Melee specialist
  • Corpser – Can tunnel underground
  • Serapede – Provides ranged support

While the game is already starting to look like a Team Fortress outing for the Gears franchise, there is also new mode Overrun which will be a 5v5 objective based game type with teams having to attack and defend several objectives.

The campaign details are still incredibly thin on the ground but we do know that the four multiplayer characters are going to be a team that is on trial for multiple charges including desertion and cowardice. Setting wise, the game is set in Halvo Bay which houses the Onyx Guard Academy and is said to be based on San Francisco. More details should be expected from Microsofts Keynote and we’ll have all the news as soon as it happens so be sure to check back for updates all this week.

The Game Informer Cover Art

Jun 042012
 

For the next three days, I have convinced myself that I won’t be getting any real work done at my job.  E3 2012 is upon us and that means three days of breakthrough announcements, upcoming title reveals, and Reggie Fils-Aime from Nintendo somehow making a fool of himself.  If you’re wondering when the big three game companies as well as the some game developers are presenting their keynote speeches, below is the official E3 schedule of when their conferences will be held.

Monday, June 4

  • Microsoft Press Conference ( 9:30 am – 11:00 am PT)
  • EA Press Conference ( 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm PT)
  • Ubisoft Press Conference (3:00 pm – 4:00 pm PT)
  • Sony Press Conference ( 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm PT)
Tuesday, June 5
  • Nintendo Press Conference ( 9:00 am – 10:00 am PT)

As you can see, it’s quite similar to that of last year’s schedule.  You can watch the conferences live on the company websites, so definitely check them out to be there when the big announcements are revealed.

Also, be sure to check the site for updates on today’s announcements as well as commentary from the staff.  The Gaming Irresponsibly team would like to wish our readers a Happy E3!

 

May 312012
 

We’ve had well over six months to work our way around the glorious and magnificent world of Skyrim and despite having such an enormous open world, many have worked through the key parts of the game itself and have been long awaiting with baited breath the next epic installment. Well that wait is now almost over.

Earlier today, Bethesda released a new trailer for the add-on, introducing us to what seems like a new area which we will be able to explore, bringing with a whole host of new and incredible features. From the trailer, it looks as though we will be meeting a new faction of vampires with far more menacing plans than any we have met so far, as well as new foes, parts of the trailer seem to suggest that we will be able to become one of them and begin a brutal rampage of terror in a new form.

You can check out the trailer below, Bethesda have given a tentative release date of Summer 2012, hopefully we will get something solid when E3 rolls around. Pricing has been confirmed for the Xbox 360 at 1600 Microsoft Points, notably cheaper than the Shivering Isles expansion we had for Oblivion. No word yet on when we can expect to see Dawnguard on PS3 or PC.

 

May 312012
 

Not much has been said about the future of Epic Games’ successful, Xbox exclusive mega series, Gears of War, and for now, that is just fine. But with the overwhelming financial gain and massive critical acclaim the series has generated over the years cannot be ignored forever. The games still remain a staple of Microsoft exclusive titles that seem to be running few and far between, so it would take a fool to expect, no matter how the last game left off, that Microsoft or Epic Games would let such a money making machine dwindle off into the distance. Will there be a Gears of War 4? Is the future of this franchise nonexistent or is there still some creative gas left in the tank? Let’s go over some of the possibilities the future of the Gears of War series may hold, and tackle some of the features and story that we may come to expect.

First we will begin with when this game might be announced or released. With Epic Games recently unveiling screen shots from its latest engine, Unreal Engine 4, it would be safe to assume that any future iterations of the Gears series would appear on that engine. Epic has no doubt been working tirelessly on this technology, and creating a game with a proven track record utilizing this technology could be a good selling point. It seems as if every game created in the most recent generation of console and PC gaming has used Unreal Engine 3, and Epic would certainly want to continue that trend with its latest creation. Seeing a Gears of War game on an updated and more polished version of a popular engine just may help Epic continue to dominate the market. This of course would most definitely require the next Gears game to be played on the upcoming generation of consoles. With Microsoft and Sony having yet to officially announce their new hardware, the transition from this generation to the next seems increasingly imminent. The game will more than likely release on one of these consoles, completely created using Unreal Engine 4. And with Microsoft seeming to be a bit short handed in the exclusives department over the past couple of years, you can bet that they will try to keep the license exclusive. But don’t count Sony out. Epic has stressed their interest in creating a popular game for multiple platforms in the past, and if Sony has anything to say about it, they will try their best to steal away another Microsoft selling point.

When we last left Marcus and the rest of the Gears, he had just removed his bandanna, took a seat on the sand and breathed a sigh of relief. The ending of Gears of War 3 left everyone feeling as if the series had reached its conclusion, much like the Halo series did with its third installment. Not so fast. You witnessed just how quickly Microsoft resurrected the Halo franchise when exclusives began dropping and you can expect they will do the same with Gears of War. With the game running on Unreal Engine 4, primed for a new generation of consoles, this game could be a great tool to use in putting more next generation Microsoft consoles into homes worldwide. Only a fool would believe that this is the end of Gears of War, as most companies will generally squeeze the life out of any popular franchise in order to make a buck. And that is exactly what Gears of War is, a money making machine. So what story can we expect from the next Gears game?

As mentioned before, the game had a pretty solid closing, leaving everyone feeling finished and satisfied unlike other popular titles (ahem…Mass Effect 3). So what might Marcus and the Gears encounter on their next go around? With the Locust having been all but eradicated, and the Lambent threat no longer existent, the likelihood of the gang facing another, much tougher opponent, seems like the best bet.  The story for Gears of War was nothing amazing, but the characters were intriguing and the main plot has lots of appeal. It was something that we had already seen, yet never seen before. Alien invasions are nothing new to gaming, but for them to come from within the very soil upon which you stand was a fresh take on a tried and true idea. You can expect the story to take a turn towards the bizarre, with fresh new enemies, and perhaps a touch of the old ones.

As for the multiplayer, Gears of War has nearly always hit the nail on the head, using nearly to describe the lackluster experience from the second installment. Gears of War 3, however, was packed full of different modes, maps and unlocks. The game was really complete in terms of DLC, map varieties and a plethora of different modes such as Horde, Beast, Co-op and your basic Deathmatch battles. Expect the next Gears to build on that even more. With the success of the additional modes like Beast and Horde, you can very well anticipate that Epic will cater to fans of these gameplay styles. More waves in Beast mode, for starters, would be a good indication of their intent to build upon a successful product. You can also guarantee that old favorites such as Gridlock and Mansion will make an appearance for those who want a little nostalgia and wouldn’t mind seeing older maps re-imagined on a brand new platform and engine.

So, there it is. The next Gears will more than likely play host to a new console, as well as a new Unreal Engine. The story will likely seem a bit out of left field, with the Epic team having to create a whole new enemy in an already existing universe, but it shouldn’t be an issue. The multiplayer will most certainly be bolstered a bit, with a larger focus on the Horde and Beast modes. Regardless of whether or not you think Gears might be done, the fact still remains that it is one of Microsoft’s very few exclusive hits. combine that fact with Sony having more and more first party exclusives, and you can ensure that Gears has yet to see its final day. Now, tell us what you think. Did we get it all wrong? Is Gears of War finished? Did we insinuate anything that you think to be completely false, or was their anything we missed? Let us know what you expect from the next Gears of War title. What are your hopes for the franchise? What do you want to see from the series. Let us know in the comments below.

 

May 292012
 

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Max Payne 3

Mac

Contains: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.


It has been over a decade since we first encountered Max Payne in July of 2001, and nearly as long since our last meeting, and for Max Payne fanatics, it seemed even longer. Even though the series had seem to fade away into the infinite abyss, fans of the beloved antihero thirsted for more. Now, Rockstar Games has had their hand in the Max Payne franchise for quite a while, but never have they ventured on their own to develop and publish a Max Payne title without the help of Remedy Entertainment. After Rockstar announced that it would venture back into the drug addicted, alcoholic induced mind of Max Payne, many feared out what may become of the once popular franchise. But rest assured, from the moment you begin your journey through Max Payne 3, you get the distinct feeling that Rockstar Games, sans the Finnish developer, hit another home run. Now that the introduction is out of the way, lets continue with the basics.

Story

In Max Payne 3, you begin, more or less, as a personal security detail for a very rich and famous South American family known as the Brancos. The Brancos are a trio of brothers that include; Victor, a successful politician, Rodrigo, a wealthy businessman, and Marcelo, a party crazed socialite. During a small cocktail party on the roof of the Branco family’s skyscraper, one that just so happens to overlook the most poverty stricken areas of Sao Paulo, a group of masked terrorists burst through the doors in search of the Branco brothers. After an attempted kidnapping of both Rodrigo and his main squeeze Fabiana, Max and his partner, Raul Passos, discover that the party crashers belonged to street gang Commando Sombra. From there, the games takes you through the ‘highs” and lows of the life of Max Payne. The endless nights of binge drinking and pill popping have yet to heal the wounds his departed family has left behind, and each day seems harder than the next for Max. Between getting drunk and drinking more, Max seems to have let another kidnapping take place, only this time at a popular nightclub. This time, Commando Sombra is successful in acquiring Fabiana, and Max is left to try and pick up the pieces. The game continues to take you on a journey through Sao Paulo in search of Fabiana. Soccer stadiums, abandoned boat yards, and even a little New Jersey flashback are some of the locals from the first act alone. Overall, the story is great, and fans of the series will appreciate the references to the previous installments of Max Payne, as well as the vivid and painful story lead writer, Dan Houser, and his team have created.

Graphics and Visuals

The look and atmosphere of Max Payne 3 is incredible. The graphics are nothing that we haven’t seen from this current generation of consoles, but that is to be expected with Rockstar developed games. The game may have been released near the end of this generations life cycle, but it definitely did not push the bounds of visual technology. With that being said, the graphics were still above par, and the Tony Scott style effects during the incoherent drug binges were a very welcome touch. Occasionally, you will come across some cut scenes that feature key words being visually displayed throughout the screen. Most of them are important to the story, but some are just there to add some ‘kick’ to the overall story. The best part of the game, however, are the slow motion kill cams and bullet time, but more on those later.

Audio and Sound

The music in Max Payne 3 is excellent. The sharp tones during moments of uncertainty help to build the tension. As far as the narration is concerned, James McCaffery reprises his role as Max Payne, offering some nostalgia for those that have played previous titles. The dialogue may seem cheesy and over the top at times, but it works. Occasionally, Max will utter a one liner worthy of a B rated action flick. Such instances occur when you come across pills during the game (pills are what regenerate your health, just like previous Max Payne titles), or progress to the next checkpoint. Other than that, the game fires on all cylinders audibly.

Gameplay

Now, time to talk slow motion gameplay. The bullet time feature is just as it has always been, you jump out, activate the bullet time feature, begin mayhem. No matter how simplistic, or how redundant the feature has become over the past few years, the bullet time feature has been such an awakening. The newer addition to the slow motion killing department is the new slow motion kill cam. What this does is that during your encounter with the last enemy in a specific area, the slow motion kill feature will be in effect. After you kill this last enemy, you are taken immediately into the slow motion kill cam mode. Here, you can watch slowly as someone you have just murdered is repeatedly filled with lead, all the while you are controlling the speed of the person’s death by slowing the kill cam using the appropriate button presses. As far as single player is concerned, the gameplay is excellent, sometimes the aiming can get a bit wonky, but that is to be expected from a Rockstar developed game. This can also be avoided by using soft and hard auto target locks that the game allows you to chose as opposed to the free aim mechanic. Multiplayer is a welcoming surprise, as the matches are quick and packed full of action. There is nothing really new about the way Rockstar has introduced the multiplayer into Max Payne, but the online gameplay feels surprisingly fresh and strongly increases the replay value of the title. Like most online multiplayer games that have been released in the past five years, the game features tons of unlockable guns and characters which become available upon reaching certain levels.

Final Verdict

Max Payne 3 is an excellent game. It may have warranted more attention if it hadn’t tried to compete with the simultaneously released mega hit, Diablo III. Regardless, for console gamers, Max Payne 3 was the major release for the month of May. The title has been met with critical acclaim aw well as great user feedback. The game also utilizes the Rockstar season pass, in which you can purchase all of the future downloadable content for a one time transaction at a discounted price. It has been discussed that there would be somewhere near seven future content plans and that the season pass would save you just above 35%. So keep that in mind if you want to add some more longevity to your Max Payne 3 experience. For those who are interested in the Max Payne 3 Season Pass, it would be 30 bucks. Overall, the game is amazing. The environment and atmosphere created by Rockstar can easily dump you into the hectic and drug riddled world of Max Payne. Rockstar does an amazing job here of using visuals and audio to tell an amazing story, and the unique camera angles and visual effects layered on top of the cinematic cut scenes gives the game a little more edge and mystery. And when it comes to the gameplay, forget about it. Nothing is cooler than jumping from behind cover in slow motion, and blasting four dudes to pieces before they even have a chance to pull the trigger. That is why Gaming Irresponsibly gives Max Payne 3 a final score of:

XBox 360

Graphics

89
 

Audio

90
 

Gameplay

91

Creativity

85
 

Execution

95
 

Offset

95
    

9.1

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

PROS

  • Great Audio
  • Fun Multiplayer
  • Involving Story
  • Bullet Time/ Slow Mo
  • Drugs and Booze
  • Excellent Use of Visual Effects

CONS

  • Dialogue Seems Cheesy Sometimes
  • Free Aim Has Small Issues
May 082012
 

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few years, you surely are familiar with the game Minecraft. If you haven’t, damn, you need to get familiarized with such an awesome game! You want to know what is better than Minecraft for your Xbox 360? FREE Minecraft for your 360. (All caps makes it even cooler! Look it up, it’s on the internet)

The folks at Raptr and Microsoft have teamed up to give a chance to 2,500 gamers to win a copy of Minecraft: Xbox 360 version by using their awesome Raptr Rewards program. What do you need to do? Well, first I’ll need you to calm down, I can literally hear your excitement. Second, you need to play the games you love to play. Yeah, I know it is hard work, I hope that doesn’t discourage you!

You see, Raptr has been giving all sorts of cool things to their users. Things like coupons for Logitech peripherals, beta codes for games like Diablo 3 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and even free games. You need to create an account and then download their client, after adding your accounts to it you are ready to start earning cool things and even having a universal way of keeping up with your friends while they are gaming. You can learn more about earning these rewards here.

You know what? While you are clicking on links, create an account. It won’t hurt. I’m a trustworthy guy, I promise. Besides, the reward goes live on Thursday (the 10th), so the time you waste is time you aren’t earning cool swag!

May 012012
 

This week, Gaming Irresponsibly is choosing yet another zombie themed indie game. Yes, there are more zombie indie games than there are people to play them, but this one is definitely worth the time and money. CSR Studios, a one man company created by John Common, created what could be one of the most fantastic games to ever grace the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace, Dead Pixels. Dead Pixels is described as an “8-bit zombie simulator”, where you move about a two dimensional world, blasting waves of zombies, while rummaging through abandoned shops for supplies. The game has elements of role-playing as well, allowing you to visit traders which will sell you upgrades that level up specific traits such as luck, strength, bargaining and so on. The game blends this role-playing element with arcade style action with fluidity and grace, and must be experienced for those of you who may love both indie games or zombies.

Dead Pixels thrusts you into New Hexington, NY, a city that has been taken over by zombies. A toxic waste spill, from a local chemical plant,found its way into the water supply, and in three short days, turned all of the dead into living. After a botched attempt by the military to control the situation, the city was quarantined until further notice. Lucky for you, a group of survivors have a helicopter on the other side of the city, and its your only way out. To get there, you must fight your way through the streets of New Hexington collecting supplies, and avoiding death. The story is nothing to write home about, but it serves the purpose of driving your character from one end of the city to the other. The real greatness of Dead Pixels, is the gameplay.

The game plays much like many older arcade-style, 8-bit, two dimensional side scrollers. You can move up and down, side to side, using your weapons to defeat enemies and using power-ups to aid you. Pretty simple, but the game gets deeper by adding a role-playing element as well. While progressing through Dead Pixels, you will have the ability to visit abandoned shops and store. These shops and stores will be home to a variety of power-ups, valuables, medical supplies and you new best friends, guns. All of these items can be picked up, but don’t get too excited, the more weapons and swag you tote with you, the closer you get to becoming over-encumbered, which will more than likely make you zombie bait. There is also the occasional trader located within the city. These are marked by green arrows pointing towards the door, or signs painted in green as well indicating that there are living still inside these buildings. Once at the trader, you can purchase goods such as health and ammunition or sell off some of the valuable items you snagged along the way. There is also the choice to upgrade specific abilities. You can add more strength, allowing you to carry more stuff, or upgrade you melee or weapon skills, which will grant more explosive attacks.

Another great thing about Dead Pixels is the style and flare that it presents to the gamer. The screen in general has a 70′s horror movie feel to it, as the screen seems to crackle and pop with small imperfections strewn across its landscape. The in game intermission is a nice touch as well, poking fun at older movies and drive-ins with adds for concessions. You may notice, while playing through Dead Pixels, that the game pays more than just an homage to the first Resident Evil game. The weapons feature the last names of the main characters, for example the Redfield Beretta or the Valentine Shotgun. You will also notice some of the streets named after them as well, such as Wesker Avenue. Some of the more subtle tributes will include umbrella shops in the mall, painted with an alternating red and white pattern, as well as, the Moonlight Sonata playing in the background of the trader shops throughout the city.

Overall, Dead Pixels is a must buy. Despite most zombie games catering to a specific audience, Dead Pixels does a great job of opening it up to everyone, giving each something great. It is a great 2D action arcade style game, with deep RPG elements. The combat is amazing, the controls are good and John Common did a fantastic job of crating a small world with such great ambiance. The game also features a few extra chapters, The Solution and The Last Stand, so those that haven’t gotten enough Dead Pixels, can have a little more. If you don’t want to face the pending zombie apocalypse alone, the game does feature a local multiplayer, where you can bring along some friends to blast the undead with. If you want to try Dead Pixels, you can head on over to the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace and purchase it for 80 Microsoft Points ($1.00).

Every week, Indie Game of the Week will feature a popular, and entertaining Indie Game and share it with our community. Do you have a suggestion for next weeks game? Have you played an indie game lately that knocked your socks off and want to help tell the world? Then follow Ryan Hillis on Twitter @rchillis. You can also like us on Facebook, and leave us feedback on what titles you would like to see featured.

Apr 272012
 

You may, or may not be aware of a new little bit of legislation known as CISPA or The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. If you are In the know then you realise how terrible this act is and if you’re not, allow me to introduce it to you and to let you know why it is a very dangerous piece of legislation.

So what is CISPA?

CISPA is unlike any other piece of legislation that the US has ever seen, although the public outcry has not been dissimilar to what we saw around SOPA. The big difference however is that CISPA hasn’t only made it into the house of representatives, it was voted on and passed yesterday, the day before it was scheduled to be.

The main premise of the act seems to be in response to the massive increase in ‘hacktivist’ activity that we have seen in the recent months and years as well as the ever present threat of terrorism. On the whole, the Internet is a place where it is easy to communicate in private and anonymously, meaning that it has been used for much scrupulous behaviour, social media played a part in the riots over here in England last year and as a whole the Internet has been used for both cyber crime as well as by organisations with terrorist links. The aim of CISPA is to try and prevent this by granting the government the power to watch closely over everything a person discusses which could lead to them being considered a threat. It would be done thanks to the cooperation of major approved companies, giving the government access to information such as private email.

This Pretty Much Covers What Freedom Should Be

But what’s the problem?

While the stated aim of the act as a preventative measure in the fights against cyber crime and  terrorism makes perfect sense and is arguably necessary in the times that we live, the main problem with the act is not dissimilar to the problems which most people had with SOPA, mainly that it is poorly worded, with little definition as to what would give the government the right to go all ‘big brother’ on your private life. The act essentially has no real stated boundaries and while something does need to be done, generalisation isn’t the right way to do it, sometimes there will be a real reason that the powers that be would need to be able to get at this information covertly, but these situations should be clearly defined and acceptable.

This lack of definition should definitely set alarm bells ringing as it leads to the line being massively blurred as to what is and isn’t acceptable for the government to know about you and your personal life. At the end of the day that’s what it is, your life no one else’s, if you don’t want Uncle Sam going through your text messages, emails and even Xbox live conversations, then he should have to keep his nose out, unless he has a really serious reason to think that he needs to. Not to mention that the proposed Act will also over ride pre existing laws including laws on privacy and surveillance.

And how can this effect me and you?

As with SOPA, there is a lot of big companies backing the act, again it can be argued that they have an interest in national security, but at the same time why is it so unbelievable that they would not have their own agenda, all big business could benefit from having access to your personal information, which could include Facebook information and even Google searches, and while massive abuse of the system would be unlikely, without set boundaries it remains a real possibility.

This is after all a gaming site so primarily we should focus on what this could mean for you as a gamer. One of the biggest companies backing the act is Microsoft, a huge multinational company who make a lot of money from gaming, both Xbox and PC. they have access to a lot of your information and also a big interest in knowing what you get up to. Whether it be for financial reasons or just to know what you’re doing with your console, it is valuable information.

What can we do? Is there any hope?

With the act having been slyly rushed through the House of Representatives a day early and already having been approved there, no, what you can actually do is very limited but the power of people has got our point across before and we can do it again. Writing to your representative and pointing out that you are not pleased still gets the message across, as does campaigning across the Internet whether it be a hashtag or whatever you want, making the point that this kind of involvement from your government isn’t right, don’t forget that invasion of privacy is illegal, no matter who it is invading that privacy. As for hope? The President himself has already stated that no matter how far the act goes, he will veto it, the man either understands what the people want or right from wrong.

Apr 202012
 

Few games this year will be generating as much hype and excitement as Halo 4. One of the worlds single biggest franchises, with one of the most recognisable protagonists, will be storming back onto consoles later this year. In the grand scheme of things it will have been five years between releases of “proper” Halo games, while we have dabbled in the universe itself, Master Chief has been drifting through space in stasis since 2007. The first thing that is the newly confirmed release date, November 6th if you haven’t already booked it off from work.

Over the past weeks and months, information on 343 industries first solo outing into the Halo universe have come through in relatively slow trickle, but in the past few days the floodgates have begun to open a little more. As well as a truck load multiplayer information, images of how the game and it’s surroundings have also been hauled out into the public eye and for the cherry on top, elements of the character development and story have been added on too. With such a plethora of information to chose from, where should we begin?

Some Awesome Art From Game Informer Showing New Cortana

For me single player is the epicenter to any Halo experience, it’s the story that means the most with the multiplayer giving the game its longevity. One of the biggest rumours surrounding the game has been linked to the story that the single player campaign will tell and a few details have been semi confirmed, but nothing that could really be considered key to the story or spoiler material. The primary, arguably original rumour, was that the game was going to focus on Cortana beginning to break down into a state known as Rampancy/ going Rampant. Rampancy is a stage that an A.I. reaches during in it’s life span where what it has learned causes it to wear down causing it to go Rampant, essentially, it appears to be psychosis for super advanced artificial intelligence. Recently, from both 343 and the Game Informer information, it has been confirmed that Cortana’s Rampancy will be key to the story and that the game will also spend far more time exploring Master Chief himself, it looks as though we may soon be playing as John more than Spartan-117.

John Or Master Chief?

As well as story details, the new setting for the game has also begun to come to light. Throughout the series the environments and settings have always been played fairly safe, everywhere has been earth like whether it be Reach or one of the Halo ring apart from a smattering of Covenant warships and flood covered areas, we haven’t really seen a whole lot of the Forerunner. That is all set to change. From the very first details, courtesy of odd pieces of concept art, we have known that Halo 4 will be exploring much more of the Forerunner mythology and now to back up those early pictures we have more of an explanation to give us a better feel of what lies ahead. The game will take place in 2557 approximately four years, seven months and ten days since the end of Halo 3 and sees Chief and Cortana crash landing onto Requiem, a Forerunner planet which is encapsulated by a Dyson Shell.

When it comes to enemies and weaponry, there is still scarce details, but we can apparently rule out fighting the Covenant again, although at least Elites and Grunts are set to feature in some form. It has been stated that Requiem will have it’s own inhabitants, a new species or faction of enemy. This new faction is said to be more complex and intelligent than the Covenant which could mean a tougher fight as they will also have their own set of new weapons and equipment. So far there has been no mention of the Flood, but with the Forerunner being the ones responsible for the pesky, brown menace, it could be unwise to rule them out just yet. On the human weapon front, so far all we have to go on is the assurance that our arsenal has been added too and some weapons will be returning. The list of returning weapons, human and Covenant are as follows Assault Rifle, Battle Rifle, DMR, Assault Carbine, Covenant Carbine, Shotgun, Rocket Launcher, Sniper Rifle, Magnum and Plasma Pistol.

Want to know what’s going on with multipayer? Then keep reading.

Apr 132012
 

Over at GamesIndustry International, former THQ executive Richard Browne has penned a piece castigating the practices of used video game retailers such as GameStop and indicting them for damaging the “the creativity and variety of games available to the consumer” and for “the death of single player gaming.”

Browne’s harangue comes a couple of weeks after Kotaku reported rumors that the PS4 will block owners from playing used games by locking titles to their PSN accounts. He condones such measures as a necessary “Nuclear Option” from Sony and Microsoft to combat the stagnation of new game sales and notes that several developments in modern gaming — including DLC and the ubiquity of multiplayer modes — are the direct result of publishers attempting to stop the “churn” created by used game sales.

“The real cost of used games has been the destruction of the mid-tier publisher and the elimination of many an independent development studio who in the past conducted work in that space. With next generation budgets leaping yet again only the ‘mini-publishers’ – such as Epic, Insomniac, Bungie – can possibly survive externally to an actual publisher. Beneficial to the customer? No,” he wrote.

Browne isn’t the only industry voice speaking out against used games – Frontier Developments founder David Braben was interviewed by Gamasutra last month and made similar comments, saying, “The real problem when you think about it brutally… [is] pre-owned has really killed core games…. I know publishers who have stopped games in development because most shops won’t reorder stock after initial release, because they rely on the churn from the resales.”

It’s worth noting, however, that digital distribution continues to grow in popularity, and many gamers opt for preloading games on Steam the night before a release instead of waiting in line at a retailer. It’s quickly becoming a matter of when, not if, future consoles lack media drives, and we could be only years away from used games being relics of the past.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Apr 102012
 

I was, at one point, a big fan of the Fable series. However, with the disappointing Fable 3 and the upcoming Fable: The Journey (which I have zero interest in), I don’t really care much about the series anymore. I was aware of the Fable Heroes announcement, but I didn’t pay it much attention. When I saw Fable Heroes on the show floor, I figured I should at least give the game a chance, and to tell you the truth, I was pleasantly surprised.

The game is not really a canonical entry in the series, as it is actually technically a game within a game. The way it was described to me, the game is actually sort of like a Fable version of a tabletop game being played in a pub with the hero dolls seen in past games. That’s only the in fiction description of what the game is; in reality, it’s a four player cooperative beat em up. The game actually sort of reminded me of a cross between Gauntlet Legends and Castle Crashers, and considering these are two games that I really like, the game was off to a good start in my mind.

You can choose to play as already established heroes from all three main Fable games to this point, such as Hammer, Reaver, or even the main hero from the various games. Each character is rendered in their doll form, and they all have their own unique weapons and move-sets. For example, Hammer obviously wields a Hammer, while Reaver is all about guns. There were only a handful of characters in the demo I played, but I was told there will be many more in the final game, with 2 characters from Fable: The Journey also appearing in the game.

As for the gameplay itself, I found it to be quite fun. The basic goal of the game is to move through the levels, killing enemies and picking up coins. Like I said, each character has their own moves, which means each player will be attacking each encounter differently. While the moves themselves are different, each character has a basic attack, a heavy attack, and a charge attack which uses up energy. While it is technically a cooperative game, there is a big emphasis on competition amongst players. The game keeps individual score for each player (with a multiplier that goes up as you kill enemies without taking hits), and there are both good and bad power-ups that can be found in chests. If you find some power-ups, it triggers a sort of roulette that decides which player gets it, and negative power-ups can even be transferred from player to the other by tagging them when you’re affected. When you die, you can still play (albeit in a ghostly form), you are just prevented from earning any points or leveling up until you collect a heart (which can be found in chests or dropped from defeated enemies).

The game will also put a large emphasis on boss fights and re-playability. Each character levels separately from another, so if you reach max level as Maze, you can still go back through and level up Hammer. The levels also have branching paths, so there is some incentive to play through again, in addition to trying to beat your friends’ high scores. The level I played also had a boss fight at the end, and I was told every level will have a boss fight. The boss fight was decent enough, though it didn’t seem to require much strategy aside from “hit enemy until dead”.

Though the game is best described as a beat’ em up or hack ‘n’ slash, it is actually rendered in polygonal graphics as opposed to the typical 2D sprites. The art style is very striking, and I found it worked very well. It definitely looks like a Fable game, but everything has a handmade miniature look to it, obviously playing to the fact that it is meant to be a tabletop game. The environments also sort of look they are out of a pop-up book or something like that, and it all looks great. Some of the signature elements of the Fable series, humor and morality, didn’t really seem to come across in the brief time I had with the game, but that isn’t to say that these things aren’t in the game in some form, I just don’t know.

While I only played for a brief time, I would definitely say I enjoyed myself. It isn’t the most complicated or original game I’ve ever played, but it seems like a solidly made game with the potential for some fun with friends. A big plus, is that the game comes out very soon, May 2, and will only cost 800ms points, which makes it cheaper than pretty much any XBLA worth playing you’re likely to find released in the last few years.

Mar 282012
 

Recently, a friend of mine recommended that I try out a new Xbox Live Indie Game entitled, ‘Try Not to Fart’. How could I pass it up? So I hopped onto the marketplace, and purchased this indie gem for eighty Microsoft Points, a real steal for such a rich and smelly experience. I loved the game so much, in fact, that it prompted me to begin this series of articles, each featuring a new and popular Xbox Live Indie Game. So, let’s get down to the basics. Try Not to Fart is an Xbox Live Indie Game available on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 80 Microsoft Points. It is one of the many titles developed by Silver Dollar Games to be featured in the XBLIG marketplace.

"Whoever smelt it, dealt it."

Try Not to Fart, is simple in theory, but complicated in execution. The story goes as follows. You are a young gentleman that has just met a beautiful woman at a bar, during conversations with her, you must try your best not to break wind in order to move on to the next scene. As you progress throughout your life with this woman, you must retain an eternity of farts, or else your life is over. The game places you in the most awkward scenarios where one would feel it most embarrassing to ‘let one rip’, such as a first kiss, meeting the parents, or even the birth of your son.

The game uses simple mechanic of pressing and holding random buttons on the controller, and letting each one go when prompted. It seems easy at first, sure, but as the game progresses, you will find yourself in similar pain as you would actually trying no to fart. For example, holding the ‘X’ button with the ‘LT’ button seems easy enough, but before releasing, the game will ask that you press a few more buttons, such as ‘B’, ‘A’ and ‘LB’. Not terribly hard, until you consider that each individual button needs to be released at a certain time, causing your mind to wander, your fingers to cramp, and your anus to loosen. With that in mind, the beginning levels will have just three or four button combinations, but towards the end, you will be pushing buttons with fingers you didn’t know you had, trying to keep it all in during complex presses and releases. Your hands will burn, you will use your pinkies and probably your nose too, and you will fart, a lot.

"Beans, beans, they're good for your heart. The more you eat the more you............oops!"

The game is great fun, especially if you have a few friends over. You can ‘Try Not to Fart’ more than the next guy, and the leaderboards can tell each of you who the best at holding bodily functions is. Hardcore mode provides an additional challenge to those that can hold farts like no one should. The story is the real gem of this game, with funny dialogue and cliche comments from the judgmental patrons, the humor doesn’t stop with the flatulent fun.

Silver Dollar Games really hit a home run with this indie title. The ease of use from the controls, the laugh-out-loud hilarity, and the borderline inappropriate humor make this game a steal for just 80 points. You know how you always have to purchase more points than you need in order to buy your Call of Duty map packs, well this game is well worth those spare points, that you would otherwise use to purchase a Call of Duty Avatar item, like a stupid shirt, or some combat boots. Just keep in mind that there are great small games out there that need attention too, and with the amount of fun packed into such a small price, Try Not to Fart is a great example of one of these games.

"Push!!!!! Not too hard though, don't want to stink up the place!"

Every Wednesday, Xbox Live Indie Game of the Week will feature a popular, and entertaining Xbox Live Indie Game. Do you have a suggestion for next weeks game? Have you played an indie game on Xbox Live that knocked your socks off and want to help tell the world? Then follow Ryan Hillis on Twitter @rchillis. You can also like us on Facebook, and leave us feedback on what titles you would like to see featured. 

Jan 102012
 

It was rumored after the Kinect’s release that Microsoft was looking to port the motion capture device to the PC.  Now that rumor has become true with Microsoft announcing Kinect for Windows at this year’s CES conference.

The device is set to hit stores on February 1.  Not only will the Kinect have functionality for some PC games, it will also have a communication usage for it.  Several companies like Toyota and Boeing have confirmed that they will utilize Kinect for Windows within their offices.  According to Microsoft’s Harry Hryb, Kinect for Windows, “will only work on computers running the SDK software”.

The bad news, Microsoft confirmed that the device will cost consumers $250; $100 more than the Kinect for Xbox 360.  Microsoft commented on the high price for Kinect for Windows.

“The ability to sell Kinect for Xbox 360 at its current price point is in large part subsidized by consumers buying a number of Kinect games, subscribing to Xbox LIVE, and making other transactions associated with the Xbox 360 ecosystem, ” said the Kinect to Windows Team.

“In addition, the Kinect for Xbox 360 was built for and tested with the Xbox 360 console only, which is why it is not licensed for general commercial use, supported or under warranty when used on any other platform.”

I think I’ll just stick to Kinect for Xbox 360, and save the extra $250

Source: Kotaku

 

Dec 302011
 

So Christmas is over and the new year is fast approaching, where this is normally a time for relaxing and reflecting on the year, a couple of news stories have popped up over the past few weeks which have really gotten under my skin. Once more the culprits are responsible of either crappy research or not wanting to step on any toes so welcome to what has pissed me off over the past few weeks and enjoy.


The Sun – Phishing is not hacking

Here we have Rupert Murdochs flagship, phone hacking, constantly getting any unsensational story regarding gaming and cocking it up. Running with the headline “XBOX CYBER HACK” one immediately thinks that LulzSec are back and that they are bored with Sony, the headline alone was enough to make me begin calling the bank to cancel credit cards and begin changing passwords to everything, until I actually read beyond the opening lines “Hack” claims and realised it was morons reporting on morons.

The issue here was not a hack that was causing us to have our accounts emptied to prince Dave the twelfth of Nigeria, this was just phishing. For those possibly out the loop, this means somewhere along the line, login details where tricked out of their owners and the theives then used this information to empty said accounts of card details, giving access to cash. This is nothing new and is not “hacking” this is just a huge lax of intelligence on behalf of the user.

For example, if bob_microsoft_dev@fakemail.com asks for your login details through email because you have won an avatar boat and 5million Microsoft points, you should probably tell him to go suck a lemon rather than actually giving him the valuable details to your valuable account, cash and gamerscore could be at stake here. While it probably sucks very hard for the people affected I just implore you to think before giving any details to anyone and to The Sun to not sensationalise a none sensational story and put it on the front page, it just makes you look even more stupid than you already do.

Political Correctness – Slavery

A while back the Internet was losing its mind when a trailer for Slavery: The Game hit the web. Reddit, 4chan and everyone else began going crazy over what looked to be the single worst tasteful and completely tactless video game to ever emerge from any developer ever. When I first saw the idea I too thought that it was a bad idea, games are about enjoyment and who could ever enjoy something where the general premise is to reenact the torture and enslavement of other human beings, but then I thought about it and realised that we have already been doing it for years.

Long story short, the whole thing was a hoax to raise awareness that slavery is still a very real problem in the world whether it be forced labour or the sex trade and no matter how many times we watch Taken, it is a problem that Liam Neeson alone cannot kick the ass of. But as I said before, we have already tortured people in hundreds of games, we have seen so many world war games which paint all Germans as the only enemy we have ever faced, but this kind of historical accuracy that could upset the German people is acceptable where as something which would make most of the world cringe is not?

The days of the slave trade are a hellish memory that history books will teach us for years to come and films and charity will continue to remains us that the problem is still very real. We should not ostracise something because it forces us to relive awkward historical fact, we should embrace it. Teach kids to understand the horrific things our fore fathers did by showing them through a medium that they can relate too, don’t force them to play, but make an informed decision as too whether the want too learn like this and if we want to teach them. Alas, political correctness would more than likely never let a game like this see the light of day, a fact that upsets me to some extent as it could have been a fantastic way to raise both awareness and money for the charities who are working to put an end to these atrocities.

Political Correctness – Guns

Whilst sat in the car, flicking through a days worth of gaming news just a few days ago, I found the story that the Xbox live market place would soon be removing guns as avatar items from sale. Don’t worry, if you already have them then you will not be affected, but those of us who don’t and may want them in the future, should buy up fast.

The claim comes from Epic games who advised users to grab the gears of war weapons before Microsoft removed them from January 1st 2012, there is still no real word on why but it’s more than likely because of Microsoft having invested so much in making the Xbox more family friendly. This looks to me like political correctness gone totally insane, especially when you take into account that Microsoft has it’s own gun club.

I’m from the UK, our gun control is immensely stricter than that of America and even I think this is over the top. Would it be possible to argue that it is a breah of the American constitution? If a person has the right to bare arms then why does this not extend to an online visualisation of that person?

It’s ridiculous, the avatars on screen don’t go round graphically dismembering other avatars with a Lancer, they are a prop that is used to show off your taste in games. While I may be in the minority I just fail to see the problem with an avatar holding a weapon, why not just make it so that accounts registered to children do not have access to these items or can’t see other avatars holding them rather than essentially punishing the entire community? Not to mention that Microsoft hasn’t addressed the issue personally, meaning the whole thing could either be misinformation or the company planned on doing it spur of the moment and very quietly come next week.

Think I’m wrong? Reckon Slavery would have made a terrible game? Let me know in the comments after you’ve rushed to the Avatar Marketplace to grab some heavy weaponry before the new year ban.