Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Review: Ravaged (PC)


Not knowing the story behind how Ravaged was developed might have been for the best.

Part passion project, part Kickstarter success story -- 2 Dawn Games got more than double their $15K goal -- Ravaged is a pure multiplayer shooter set in a post-apocalyptic world. There's no single-player option, not even a tutorial, to provide the basics. While anyone with exposure to the Battlefield or Team Fortress games should have little problem adapting to the action, all players will have to learn while they play.

Review: NHL 13 (PS3)

There is nothing more unsatisfying then having to simulate a hockey season, but for the 4th time in my lifetime, we're having yet another stoppage. At least the price of EA's NHL series doesn't go up year to year like our ticket, concession, and parking rates do. Serving as the salve to our bruised egos, we get the chance to live out the season our personal dreams electronically.

Editorial: A Compromising Position

Have you ever been offered money under the table to write a favorable review?
No. Never. Thank god. But if someone ever did, not only would I chew them out big time, but I’d probably write about it in the magazine. Or threaten to at least.
Over the last number of days there's been quite a bit of arm-flapping and finger-pointing in regard to "games journalism" and alleged collusion between those in the gaming press and people in the marketing and PR departments of game publishers.

There have been broad-brush generalizations, accusations of elaborate Mafioso alliances that would have made Mario Puzo's brain melt (never mind my own), and just about everything between those two points. The thread on NeoGAF batting this around appears to have "leveled off" slightly with repeated calls for the big sites like IGN, Kotaku, GameSpot, etc. to come out swinging and make some kind of hard-hitting, kick-to-the-balls ethics statement about the relationship between the gaming press and PR/Marketing departments of game publishers, and that a lack of response indicates the enthusiast press' tacit approval and wagon circling for the press/publisher relationship as it stands.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

News: G4 To Reach Final Form, Drops X-Play, AOTS

This really shouldn't surprise anyone, but G4 has announced that they are ending their long running shows X-Play and Attack Of The Show.  An announcement over TV Guide indicates that new episodes will play through December.  A series of guest co-hosts are expected to rotate through both shows, which are likely to be doing a lot of retrospective pieces leading up to their closure.

By the time they close, AOTS will have over 1700 episodes aired, while X-Play clocks out after 1300.  Long time viewers and astute observers will recall that Adam Sessler left X-Play back in April over a contractual dispute.  It is probably a safe bet he will not be reappearing for the finales.

Meanwhile, G4 has not yet announced what will replace those programs.  The network has been moving away from the tech-oriented focus of its earlier ZDNet iteration for years, and suspicions are that they will undergo a further name change in their quest to pander to the "young male demographic" more obnoxiously than Spike.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Review: One Piece: Pirate Warriors (PS3)

The One Piece franchise has been a multi-media juggernaut over the past 15 years; the highest selling manga in Japan since its inception and one of the highest watched TV shows since forever. As everyone knows, a great series deserves a video game tie-in and there have been more than a few in the past, most of which never made it to North America. Truthfully, this has been the first One Piece game that I played that I felt was not only respectful to the source material but actually fun to play.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Review: Pokémon White Version 2 (DS)

For all the graphical tweaks and upgrades that the Pokémon games undergo, there's a glaring omission when it comes to accommodating older gamers.

Rather than starting the game with, "Are you a boy or a girl?" the player should be able to hit the option, "I don't care! Skip the story! Let me play! I'm 35-years old and time is precious!" That feature will likely never be implemented but it would help strip out the part that I find completely insufferable about Pokémon: the story.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Collectible: Chun-Li (Street Fighter)

For every thing right that Pop Culture Shock did with Chun-Li there's one aspect that only stopped bothering me recently. It's the eyes! But before those specifics, we should probably take a look at the rest of the figure, which fits in easily with a couple of other fighting game collectibles I reviewed in the past.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Interview: Pamela Horton (Miss October 2012)

There seems to be a tendency exhibited by the hardcore gaming crowd to be immediately suspicious of any gorgeous woman -- or any woman, for that matter -- who might be into games. Is she being genuine? Or did she like Space Invaders back in the day? And her boyfriend likes Call of Duty? If anyone was going to be heaped with suspicion it would be Pamela Horton (a.k.a. Miss October 2012) who has been tagged as "Every gamer guy's dream!" The thing is, she's not pulling a fast one. She really is a gamer and there's documented proof!
What is your biggest claim to fame other than being Miss October?

I’m an artist, I love music, I love learning. There’s more than meets the eye. I’m not your average girl; I’m not materialistic in any way. I don’t know how to do my hair, I don’t know how to do my make-up. I wear jeans and a t-shirt on regular basis.

You've been touted as "Every gamer guy's dream!" So how do you answer to critics that say, “Well she’s a Playmate that must mean she’s a poser when it comes to video games. She’s not really into it. She likes to play Pac-Man and that’s about it!”

No, no! [laughs]

Sunday, 21 October 2012

It Came From the Backlog: Geneforge 1 (Part I)

There are a lot of people out there with a massive collection of games that they really would like to finish but haven't for some reason.  It just sits there and grows as things like Steam sales come along and we get yet more games and still don't get around to completing them.  I'm one of these people, and I've got a worryingly huge backlog, so I've decided to make a concerted effort to put a dent in it by actually writing about my experiences in these games as I try and finish them.  I doubt I'll ever completely clear my backlog, but this should be a good start.

For my first game in this grand experiment, I've chosen to play through the first Geneforge game.  I got it as a compilation with the rest of the Geneforge series at a Steam sale a while ago, but never got around to playing any of the games.  It was only when the series had its "Pay What You Want" campaign a little while ago that I thought to myself, "Oh yeah, I have those games, maybe I should try actually playing them," and here we are.  It's an RPG about a group that is part magic users, and part genetic engineers, and they may not be the nicest folks around.  You're plunged into their world and have to decide whether you're with them, against them, or going to forge your own path.  Before proceeding I should say that there will be spoilers in the article, as the story is such a central part of this game that I don't feel I could properly discuss it without talking about it.  So, if you're cool with that, read on, if not, you may want to stop reading here.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Review: Mass Effect 3 DLC - Leviathan (360)

Part of the "game" of the Leviathan DLC for Mass Effect 3 is simply finding it after it's been downloaded.

This being the only bit of Mass Effect 3 DLC I've played, it's possible the other available content suffers the same problem but what I don't understand is why, after paying money for something, the player is left to hunt down the starting point of the extra content.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Review: The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner

As horrible as The Walking Dead continues to be, for some reason I anticipate every episode. Even when I know right from the title screen that the horribleness will stretch as far as the eye can see, I dedicate 2 - 3 hours to play from start to finish. Episode 4: Around Every Corner not only lives up to it's subtitle (and horribleness), it also expands into other territories: Up in the Attic, Inside the Sewer, and Back to School. The latter, unfortunately, without Rodney Dangerfield.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Come Back, Kururin!

Kuru Kuru Kururin Japanese GBA Box Art

Get talking about any game series that's not all that popular, and before long someone pipes up and says, "You know what game needs to come back? This one. You know. The one with the stuff." and it all deteriorates into a nostalgia filled soliloquies about some long forgotten game that you may or may not have heard of. It's kind of annoying, but the guy yacking is your friend, or at least smells nice, so you just let him prattle on for a while. Well, guess what, today I'm going to prattle on about why a fabulous game series featuring penguin-powered rotating sticks needs to make a comeback (Don't worry, I smell nice!).

Review: Marvel vs. Capcom Origins (360)

A compilation of Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes on Xbox Live Arcade is another stunning example of how far we've come in terms of graphics and twitch-based fighting games. (See our review of Marvel vs. Capcom 3.) But it also reaffirms just how awful I was -- and continue to be -- at both games.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Review: Dishonored (360)


No doubt about it. Dishonored is a game along the lines of an alternate universe techno-Steampunk super hero game using a story framework demonstrated by the likes of BioShock and Half-Life 2 where a lot of the story and history of the game world is recounted without a word of dialogue.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Travelling Around Tyria: My Time in Guild Wars 2

Engineer with a flamethrower
Who doesn't like shooting people in the face with a
Do you like explosions and / or burning things? Then you may want to consider rolling an engineer in Guild Wars 2. Also, seek professional help because that's not normal. Recently I created a character in this class, and it's been one hell of a good time, and much a nice change of pace from my ranger. In fact, this character may wind up being the first I take to level cap in the game. I'm enjoying my time with him just that much.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Preview: Need for Speed: Most Wanted (360, PS3)


The Need for Speed franchise dates back to the mid 90's and I can still remember being twelve or thirteen and playing endless hours of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit with my friends on PC while listening to Third Eye Blind and Smash Mouth while one player would play as the cop setting up spike strips and the other would be the bad guy evading the police. The Need for Speed franchise has changed focus over the last decade focusing heavily on street racing during the middle of the decade with the Hot Pursuit style gameplay re-emerging over the past few years. 

I played Most Wanted's multiplayer back in June at E3 2012 and walked away impressed. During a recent media event in Germany, we were given significant amount of time with both the single and multiplayer portion of the game and it certainly boosted my good feelings about the game.

Feature: Need for Speed - Germany

I left for Leipzig on Friday afternoon (September 28th). Prior to this trip I had never been to Europe other than a 6 hour stop in Frankfurt on the way to India thirteen years ago. Prior to the trip I asked my co-workers who had been to Germany about the city, but no one had ever been to Leipzig. There definitely was some mystery as to what lay ahead in the city where I would be spending time with Need for Speed: Most Wanted.

Day 1
9:00AM. All the press gathered in the hotel lobby to wait for the shuttle to pick us up and drive to the day's events.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Why the Obsession with Reviews?

Before taking another step, I should say that I don't have an answer to this question.  I'm not trying to tackle this from some sort of authoritative position on high.  It's just something that I've often seen over the years, and want to articulate my own thoughts on it while also hopefully engaging whomever stumbles across this article, generating a little bit of discussion in the process.

But yeah, reviews.

It would seem that a lot of gamers really care about these things.  REALLY care about these things.  Of course, reviews are important in helping us determine whether something is worth investing our time, money, or llamas in.  Even I check reviews before deciding whether I want to buy a game, see a movie, read a book, or whatever.  It's just nice to have some basic idea of what to expect from the thing in terms of its quality.  However, in the realm of gaming this seems to be the central focus of so many.  Game X comes out, there's the Day One Reviews, and people flock to them.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Indie Review: Gratuitous Tank Battles (PC)


Having played Positech's first game, Gratuitous Space Battles (GSB), I wasn't entirely certain what to expect with Gratuitous Tank Battles.  While I enjoyed the visuals on GSB, the punishing learning curve and lack of advancement in single player turned me right off.  Trying to find the most effective build for ships quickly became a chore.  For this second offering from Positech, the lessons from the first game seem to have been learned nicely.  Gratuituous Tank Battles serves as a worthwhile and enjoyable little tower defense game that also acts as a quick playing RTS.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Review: Darksiders II (PC)


The Apocalypse has served as the backdrop for countless stories, usually ones focused very intensely on one or two individuals as they grimly make their way through the End of the World.  But the Apocalypse is a pretty big event.  The end of all things certainly offers the opportunity to cover the breadth as much as the finality.  While Darksiders covered the story of War, Darksiders II covers the story of Death, explaining what the Grim Reaper was doing while his brother was busy in the ashes of Earth.  It ties in nicely with the first game in the series, which kinda weakens it when you look at it on its own.

Borderlands 2: Mechromancer DLC is Here

People playing Borderlands 2 with a hankering for cute girls who can control robots will be happy to note that the new Mecromancer DLC has gone live for the game. For $10 players can get their mitts on the new playable class unless you happen to be one of those fancy pants Premier Club edition owners, in which case you get her for free.

The girl even has a name (it's Gaige), and a big, burly robot to boss around. So, if she sounds like your sort of character get downloading, buying, et cetera except if you're really not into DLC in which case commence angry fist waving, and start a heated debate on your gaming message board of choice.  As for me, I'll be taking the same approach as I did with the first game: wait a couple of years and get it with all the things at a Steam sale for a sack of nickles, and a button. See you in 2015, Borderlands 2!  ლ(́◉◞౪◟◉‵ლ)

Friday, 5 October 2012

Feature: Sony Holiday 2012 Preview Event


When I arrived at Sony's annual holiday preview event in Toronto I immediately felt a sense of comfort. This sensation was far different from the very first time I arrived at such an event. As the years have passed I have made connections with my fellow journalists and these events are not only a time to play the latest games but also a time to get together face to face with those that share similar passions. It has not only become comfortable, but also enjoyable.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Review: Darksiders II (360)

Two years following a successful launch of a new intellectual property, Darksiders II has galloped full-steed ahead, this time with the star horseman being Death. Taking place parallel to the events of the first game, Darksiders II retains the same high level of quality that the original did. Amazing graphics align perfectly with great, huge environments with expansive dungeons to crawl, plenty of slashing, hacking and looting a la the God of War franchise with a RPG character-building aspect, and 25-40 hours of fantastic action gameplay.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Review: Resident Evil 6 (360)

The glacial pace that the Resident Evil franchise is moving away from its roots in survival horror to "action game with zombies" is happening too slowly. Resident Evil 4 was a marked departure from the fixed camera of the first trio of games (quadro if you count RE: Ø) but it still suffered from tank-like controls, even if the game was heaped with praise during it's glory days.

Resident Evil 5 started the melt toward Gears of War's 3rd person action; Resident Evil 6 nudges it a little further. But what the franchise needs is a rapid warming to move one direction because it feels like the developers are trying to straddle too many horses at once with Resident Evil 6.