Saturday, 30 June 2012

Book: Blue Magic

I love a good Fantasy yarn. Spun correctly, the characters, no matter the crazy names and dialogue, or what they're involved with, come off the page as believable on some level.

I like to use the Beer Scale for Fantasy novels. Would I buy a beer for this character? Would I sit down and drink all night with this character? It's not scientific, but that's the gauge I use when reading the genre.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Video: Endless Space Update (PC)

Mr. Nash gives us a quick update on how things are looking in Amplitude Studios' upcoming space 4X game, Endless Space.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

News: Radical Entertainment Massively Reduced in Size

First there were rumours, then full-fledged pronouncements soon after, now it has been confirmed by Activision in a statement that the Vancouver-based Radical Entertainment has all but been shuttered.

The official word from Activision states the following:
Although we made a substantial investment in the Prototype IP, it did not find a broad commercial audience. Radical is a very talented team of developers, however, we have explored various options for the studio, including a potential sale of the business, and have made a difficult conclusion through the consultation process that the only remaining option is a significant reduction in staff. As such, some employees will remain working for Radical Entertainment supporting other existing Activision Publishing projects, but the studio will cease development of its own games going forward.
While it's heartening to hear that the studio, which recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary, wasn't completely closed down, there are reports as many as 145 people lost their jobs. Even with the mass firings, the PC version of Prototype 2 will still launch July 24, 2012 according to statement on Radical's Facebook page.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Review: Lollipop Chainsaw (360)

Lollipop Chainsaw is like that summer movie no one wants to admit they actually had fun watching because it was ridiculous, you didn't know what was coming next (and didn't care), and you were watching it just because it paired well with sitting in a cool, dark room enjoying a drink and some popcorn.

That's what this game is, solid entertainment, even if you wouldn't want to admit it to your wife and/or girlfriend.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

News: War of the Human Tanks Coming This Fall (PC)

In the past few years, more and more companies have gotten into the act with bringing localized versions of Japanese indie games to the West.  Rockin' Android, Carpe Fulgur, NyuMedia, and now we get to add Fruitbat Factory to the list, as they will be bringing the rather cute-looking War of the Human Tanks to the PC in the Fall.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Review: Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

As of this writing, Kid Icarus: Uprising was released months ago. Whatever else I write about it should be taken in that light; it has been the portable game I keep coming back to even at this late date. That accounts for the tardiness of this review. Once a review is complete, there's usually no reason (and no time) for me to return to a game unless the multiplayer pulls me in or there's some significant new content available for it.

That's what I've been using to excuse myself from writing the review. "I'm still playing it!" I tell myself. "I can't possibly be ready to write the review."

E3 2012: Bellator MMA Onslaught - Preview

For the last few years, the eight hundred pound gorilla for MMA fighting games has been THQ's UFC Undisputed series.  With an almost obsessive amount of detail and a lot of sweat poured into making every fighter currently or formerly in the UFC look as life-like as possible, the Undisputed series has earned a reputation for being a hardcore fighting simulation. But with THQ's financial situation, and the future of the Undisputed series in doubt for many, it's to be expected that there will be some contenders for the top spot.  One of those early contenders appears to be Bellator MMA Onslaught.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Weekly Checkpoint 13

It's time for another weekly news round-up.  This go around we look at 72 hours of limited access in Diablo III, the 3DS XL, the Microsoft Surface, Valve and Adult Swim teaming up, and Phantasy Star Online 2.

News: Blizzard Restricts New Diablo III Digital Purchases for 72 Hours

According to the official Diablo III website, as of patch 1.0.3, anybody purchasing the game electronically through the Blizzard Store is now going to be restricted to Starter Editions for the first 72 hours after the purchase.  The details of what this means are below:

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Adventures of Shuggy Gameplay Impressions (PC)

Mr. Nash has been fiddling around with a new platformer, The Adventures of Shuggy, and gives us some early impressions of the game.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Review: Max Payne 3 (PC)

Max Payne isn't a broken man.

Hooked on pain killers, a stumbling alcoholic, and plagued by guilt, loneliness, and rage, Max Payne is a shattered man who continually screws up his job as personal security for a rich family in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Ultimately, he tries to pull himself together as an act of some kind of redemption, if not forever then at least long enough to "fix" things. It offers a simple contrast to the disassembly and dysfunction that drives the entirety of the plot, which plays out in extensive cutscenes and flashbacks to explain how Max wound up in Brazil.

E3: The Elder Scrolls Online - Preview

When the announcement for Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) was made, the Internet seemed to give a collective shrug.  "This has been done before," the complaints went.  "I liked this when it was called World of WarCraft."  It wasn't quite fear and loathing, but it wasn't precisely a warm welcome, either.  At E3, we were treated to a longer non-interactive demo of the game, and from what I can tell, it's not going to be another mindless WoW clone.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

News: Magna Mundi Cancelled

The Europa Universalis III mod that eventually became a commercial project, Magna Mundi, has been cancelled by Paradox Interactive.  Looking at the official announcement on the companies official forums, it certainly makes one wish more companies were this candid when talking about problems that come up during a development cycle!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Weekly Checkpoint 12

It hit a few technical snags, but we finally managed to get the new Checkpoint up.  This week we talk about cheaters in Max Payne, the possibility of Star Wars: The Old Republic going free to play, and Diablo III's real money auction house going live.

Review: Nexuiz (PC)

Nexuiz's biggest problem might be the "stickiness" of its name. How is it pronounced?

Nex-u-is? Or Nes-uiz? Or more simply Quake III Team Arena?

That last one might be the best way to remember it because Nexuiz is a fantastic-looking Quake III Team Arena clone with some neat "mutators" that can really randomize the action and keep games interesting by forcing a change-up of strategy when the floors are suddenly super slick or everyone starts bouncing around like rubber balls.

Friday, 15 June 2012

E3 2012: Hawken - First Impressions (PC)

It's been a long time since I got a mech game that I could really sink my teeth into.  I was a long time fan of the Mechwarrior series.  I flirted with Heavy Gear.  I laughed while running around the city in Shogo.  The price point of Steel Battalion was too steep for what I was going to get out of it.  Games like Front Mission helped cut down on the cravings, but being in the cockpit and looking through the sights themselves was the best way to experience the sort of visceral thrill that comes with watching a giant robot blow up in front of you.

Review: Grand Slam Tennis 2 (PS3)

Sega and 2K games have always dominated the sports genre when it came to tennis. The original Grand Slam Tennis (GST) was released only on the Wii, but now the series is getting the full HD treatment on the PS3. GST 2 comes to the court with an intuitive control scheme, the ability to play as past tennis legends, and today's top stars.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Review: Starhawk (PS3)

Starhawk represents the fusion of multiple genres of gaming – Vehicle Based combat (Battlefield 3), hectic 3rd person shooters (Gears of War), and Real Time Strategy (Command and Conquer). This non-traditional mix makes for a very different type of gameplay – such that no two people will play the game the same way.

The universe of Starhawk is a future where pioneers stake their claims on far-off worlds all in search of Rift Energy, the new power source for a new generation. This valuable commodity is highly sought after and unfortunately fought over. People who have been infused with Rift Energy become drug addicts called Outcasts – destructive in hunting down anyone collecting it and trying to preserve as much of it as possible. You play as Emmett Graves, a security expert who helps defend these border claims from Outcasts. As your defeat enemies and collect Rift energy you can call down additional equipment – not only adding additional features to the map but bringing down vehicles or defensible positions depending upon need. As you can imagine you can quickly change the battlefield with the addition of new buildings on the field, or leave the battlefield all together by calling down a Hawk for yourself to fly above it.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

E3 2012: Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two PS3 Hands-On

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is a sequel to 2009's (mostly) critically acclaimed game. In the Power of Two, Mickey returns to the Wasteland with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to save the land. The game can be played cooperatively offline with a friend. You can have a friend drop in and drop out of the game at anytime. In addition to that, co-op is handled through split screen play, so you don't have to worry about your buddy falling behind. Both Mickey and Oswald have their own unique abilities. Mickey can use paint or thinner to draw in pathways and walls or defeat enemies. Oswald can use electricity against enemies.

E3 2012: Sly Cooper Thieves in Time Hands-On (PS3)

Sly Cooper received the full HD treatment last year with the release of the Sly Collection on Playstation 3, which featured all of the original Playstation 2 titles in one package. Sly Cooper Thieves in Time is the first original title in the series for the PS3. I was a big fan of the series on the PS2 and was eager to get my hands on the demo at E3.

E3 2012: NBA Ballers Beats Xbox 360 Kinect Hands-On

NBA Ballers Beats is the first basketball game for the Kinect. Using your body and a real basketball, the game requires players to dribble and do different moves to the beat of music. The game will ship with an official NBA basketball (no price point was mentioned at E3). There are more than 30 licensed tracks in the game spanning genres from hip hop to classic rock. Each of the games songs can be played on multiple difficulties.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

E3 2012: Hybrid XBLA Hands-On

Hybrid is a third person online shooter set in a post apocalyptic world during a war between the Variant and Paladin. There's no walking in the environments, rather you fly from cover to cover. Once behind cover, you can move along it or you can jump over it or fly to another piece of cover. This may sound a little nutty at first, but this mechanic works extremely well.

E3 2012: Need for Speed Most Wanted PC Hands-On

Criterion Games developed Need for Speed Hot Pursuit back in 2010 and had previously been at the helm of the Burnout Franchise. This time around they are behind the wheel of the next iteration in the Need for Speed series, Most Wanted.

Most Wanted will give players a true open world racing experience, similar in some respects to Burnout Paradise (City). At E3 I got to try out some of the multiplayer modes in the upcoming game.

Review: Naruto Shippuden Ninja Storm Generations (360)

Naruto Shippuden Ninja Storm Generations has to have easily taken over the mantle for most unwieldy title to try and say in casual conversation. Being a huge Naruto fan, I have always gravitated naturally to these titles – I mean who wouldn't enjoy playing as your favorite character and really cutting loose on some baddies? Featuring a staggering 87 playable characters (some replicates for different ages of Naruto and Sasuke) all manner of combinations of opponents can be set up to scrap. Combat takes place in 3rd person perspective with the camera shifting based on where you are facing. Each character gets a support character to summon during the fight to try and turn the tide of combat.

E3 2012: Rock Band Blitz XBLA Hands-On

I've always been a fan of the Rock Band series. Even to this day, I still download weekly DLC released by Harmonix to keep the experience fresh. Rock Band Blitz is the newest addition to the franchise and ditches all the plastic instruments that have cluttered our living rooms the past several years.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Krater Gameplay Impressions (PC)

Mr. Nash has been fiddling around in the beta for the tactical RPG, Krater, that is due out on Steam later this week.  In this video, he gives some early impressions of the game.

E3 2012: Medal of Honor Warfighter PC Hands-On

I was one of the few people who found some enjoyment in Medal of Honor 2010. Even though my enjoyment was limited to the single player campaign, I was still excited to see what the latest installment of Medal of Honor had in store for multiplayer.

I played a 30 minute multiplayer demo of the game, which took place in the war torn streets of Mogadishu, Somalia. The mode we played was similar to Domination in Call of Duty. There were three control points throughout the map and the objective of this mode was to own all control points on the map for the longest time possible.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

E3 2012: Brave Xbox 360 Hands-On

As with every major Disney movie that comes out, it's only natural that we have a video game tie in. In a few weeks Pixar's new movie titled Brave will be released in theatres and to accompany the release will be a video game tie in. The video game loosely follows the story of the movie. Like Epic Mickey 2, Brave can be played with cooperatively with another player. The main character of the film is the Princess Merida of Scotland who is a badass archer. When playing cooperatively, player 2 will control Will O' the Wisp who looks like a dark blue cloud.

E3 2012: Bandfuse Xbox 360 Hands-On

Last year, Rocksmith taught players how to play real guitar. Rocksmith was a great starting point for people new to the instrument, but there were several shortcomings, most notably, the lag, the long loading items, endless tuning of your guitar, the inability to create your own music and lack of bass support. Bandfuse seems to improve upon the Rocksmith experience by featuring guitar and bass support, real music tabulature, an open ended career and the ability to record your own music. Bandfuse is hoping to offer the most authentic experience to date. 

Review: Max Payne 3 (360)

Addicted to painkillers and a raging alcoholic. Emotionally and mentally tortured by the murder of his wife and child. His law enforcement career completely done. The New Jersey mob has a vendetta contract out on him. Zero self-respect for himself. And people around him have a penchant for dying in horrific and painful ways. Yeah, Max Payne's not exactly the life of the party in his return to gaming with Max Payne 3 on the Xbox 360. But while Payne himself is figuratively in the gutter of life, the game itself is Park Avenue great, with the trademark Rockstar solid storytelling in the long-lasting single-player mode along with a surprisingly robust multiplayer mode.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Weekly Checkpoint 11

It's the end of the week, and time for Mr. Nash to sound off on all of the things that have happened in the game industry over the last seven days.  With this year's E3 in the bag there's a lot to talk about, not the least of which being how disappointing this year's show was.

Friday, 8 June 2012

News: Activision-Blizzard Going Up for Sale?

So, Bloomberg is reporting that Vivendi will be looking at selling off Activision-Blizzard.  Apparently the reasoning for this has something to do with "unlocking asset value".  I'm not going to pretend to be some big business analyst that knows what he's talking about, so let's speculate away and make baseless accusations in the comments section!  Surely the sale of such a big game publisher means the sky is falling, we're all doomed, or some such. ;)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Review: Noitu Love 2 Devolution (PC)

Noitu Love 2 Screenshot 1

When it comes to retro side-scrolling action games, I'm usually a lot more comfortable with a gamepad than a mouse and keyboard.  The pad just feels more natural for those sorts of games.  Granted I grew up playing a lot more console games than I did anything on the PC, so all those years with an NES pad have hardwired some rather rigid preconceived notions into my head as to how an old school action game "should" handle.  Noitu Love 2 is the first game to come along and challenge me on this, as it proves that these sort of games can be pretty darn fun with a mouse and keyboard if the control scheme is well thought out, and there's a good level of frantic goings on...erm...going on...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Review: Diablo III (PC)

Diablo III logo
After StarCraft II, it's no stretch at all to say that Diablo III has been the most anticipated sequel in Blizzard's long history of game franchises. It is a title whose development has taken several years, with details dribbled out with the precision of the Chinese water torture. It has courted controversy practically from the first announcement of its existence. And now, it has finally come out. Was it worth the wait? Did the naysayers have a point? Was the hype and the controversy overblown and unfounded?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

News: Star Wars: The Old Republic Going F2P (Somewhat)

Looks like Bioware is drifting to a somewhat free model come July for their Old Republic MMORPG.  At that point, the game will allow people to play the game for free whenever they want, but they'll only be able to go up to level 15.  So, it's pretty much the same as WoW's system of letting players futz around in low-level areas to their hearts content without paying a dime.

Of course, the question is whether this will be a slippery slope towards a full-on F2P model for the game.  Unlike WoW, TOR doesn't have 10 million subscribers to profit from, and the game has been riddled with problems like lack of subscribers, relatively unpopulated servers, and there doesn't seem to be much on the horizon that will convince the unconverted to invest their time, let alone their money, in the game.

Monday, 4 June 2012

News: Zeno Clash 2 Coming in 2013

I quite enjoyed Zeno Clash when it came out, as it was a very unusual, surreal experience with its strange world and characters, not to mention its one of the few first person action brawlers to come out in recent years. Learning that the game is now getting a sequel definitely comes as a pleasant surprise, as Ace Team has announced that indeed a Zeno Clash 2 is in the works.

So far, we know the game will feature both Father-Mother and Ghat, but this time around it looks like Zeno Clash 2 will feature an open world to explore. This nice to hear as the strange surreal-ness of the original game always begged for such a game world, but instead went for fairly small, linear areas that players could wander around in.  The game is currently slated for a 2013 release.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Weekly Checkpoint 10

Happy weekend, everybody!  It's time for us to round up the previous week's gaming news once more.  Some of the things covered in this show include Dota 2 going free to play, the next Rift expansion, and Blizzard running into some trouble in Korea over Diablo 3 refunds (or lack thereof).

Hardware: Alienware M18x Gaming Laptop

I've been using the M18x for the last 6 months. That time has spoiled me, particularly because I've been able to play so many games on it. It's to the point that even if there's a menial computing task I need to do, like posting this review, I'll use the M18x rather than my seemingly limp desktop PC (which is equiped with a Zotac GeForce GTX 560Ti). My desktop PC is fine and dandy and should serve for another couple of years when it comes to gaming, but with the M18x it's like having access to a flying sports car. I'd rather be driving/flying it than driving my reliable road-based mini-van.

Friday, 1 June 2012

News: Dota 2 Going Free to Play

In a not all that surprising move, Valve has confirmed that their entry into the world of MOBA games will be going free to play.  Anyone will be able to download and play Dota 2, however there will be an in-game store attached to it where players can buy items that will allow them to make aesthetic changes to their heroes.  Interestingly, Valve has opted not to charge money to unlock heroes in the game, instead making them free to everyone from the get go, unlike other titles in the genre.  All-in-all it looks like the company is doing as much as they can to avoid the game being pay to win, and going for a purely optional aesthetic route for making money from the player base.