Gaming Article (13)
» May 11, 2013 05:00PM
» May 8, 2013 05:00PM
Bioshock Infinite Review
» April 15, 2013 05:00PM
Humble Bundle with Android 5 Review
» March 9, 2013 05:00PM
NVIDIA Free-to-Play Review
» February 16, 2013 05:00PM
Gaming News (774)
Posted: May 21, 2013 07:46PM
Microsoft announced the new Xbox One console earlier today, and while that may have been relatively light on games, there's one good thing to look forward to with it. NVIDIA has announced its supporting its PhysX and APEX SDKs for the Xbox One, ensuring the same level of technology is shared between PCs and consoles. NVIDIA PhysX is "the world’s most pervasive physics solution" to bring real-world effects into the virtual world, be it for bodies, fluids, fabric, and more. NVIDIA APEX is similar to PhysX, but steps it up for some of the most physics-enabled (and destructive) environments you can possibly have in a game. The quanity and visual quality of destructive objects can be expanded, turn smoke and other particle-based fluids into gameplay components, and even make life-life clothing that properly interacts with characters for that ultimate immersion factor.
Source: Press Release
Posted: May 21, 2013 11:06AM
The rumors on Microsoft's next Xbox have been around just as long as those on the PlayStation 4, but then Sony went ahead and revealed its new system to the world this past February. Now it's Microsoft's turn to show off its next console, which we've known the date for a while but that's pretty much all. Until now, that is, as Microsoft has formally unveiled the Xbox One. It isn't the Xbox Infinity, Loop, or even 720, but Xbox One. It's designed to be the center of your living room, with games, movies, music, and more all being controlled by the console. It does require an Internet connection, but you can still play games and watch movies/TV if it drops out. There's a new Kinect sensor, a controller that pretty much resembles the current X360 one, and, oh yeah, a look at the Xbox One itself.
Microsoft's Xbox One is similar in size to the 360, except it's much more angular without a curve in sight. Since it's meant to be the center of your living room, it can turn on your TV just by telling the console: "Xbox on." There's no need to change inputs manually either if you want to watch TV, just another voice command changes it over for you. The Xbox One features near instant switching if you want to get back to gaming, or browse the Web, or watch a movie; Microsoft is touting less than a second delay for the switching. It features a snap mode similar to the PC one, where you can have the browser on one side while you're watching TV on the other. It's multitasking on a console, which is great to see in this day and age.
The Kinect sensor comes bundled with every Xbox One, so it's no longer another accessory. It's been improved with a 1080p camera and can process 2GB of data a second to read the room. Skeleton and 3D tracking are more precise, plus it can even read your heartbeat (useful for exercise/dance games). Since the Kinect is included with every console, it means your living room is now the perfect spot to make and receive Skype calls. Oh, and it's the only way to do group calls, too. Microsoft has worked in a TV guide into the Xbox One, with the Kinect (or a smartphone) controlling that side of it.
Alright, so enough about what the console can do in the living room, let's see what's powering the Xbox One to see how it stacks up. For starters, it has an eight-core CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM that is shared between the CPU and GPU, 32MB cache of SRAM for the GPU, a 500GB non-replaceable HDD, a Blu-ray drive, 802.11n WiFi with WiFi Direct, HDMI in/out, and USB 3.0. The CPU is of the 64-bit variety, although exact specifications are lacking at this time. The Blu-ray drive looks to be of the slot loading type, so no more disc tray that needs to take up more space. The built-in hard drive can't be replaced, but Microsoft is allowing external USB 3.0 drives to store everything the internal one can, like games.
The Xbox One is, well, rather large in size, as is the new controller. Like I said before, it resembles the current X360 one, but with some refinements. The Xbox jewel in the middle is moved up top, vibration sensors are built right into the triggers, the D-pad has been reworked to hopefully remove frustrations, and the battery compartment is flush with the body.
Xbox One uses a rather unique method for the OS, as it runs not one but three simulatenously. There's the main system OS that's a paired down version of Windows for apps and non-game software downloaded from the store, an "Xbox OS" to handle games, and finally a third OS that's really more of a virtualization helper to make sure the main and Xbox OSes can talk to each other. The Xbox OS is a fixed component throughout the Xbox One's lifespan, so developers know that won't change regardless of what kind of updates Microsoft rolls out to the main OS. These OSes enable the multitasking of the console, especially with the HDMI passthrough for a cable/satellite box. However, even though Xbox One runs a modified version of Windows, developers won't be able to drag and drop PC apps onto the console. Microsoft says it's possible, but it requires some coding and UI tuning to make it work.
There's no release date or price mentioned, with Microsoft planning to reveal a lot more at E3 next month. Forza Motorsport 5 is a launch title, but information on it is very lacking. EA was on stage to show off its new EA Sports Ignite engine that's going to be powering the likes of Madden, FIFA, NBA Live, and UFC, with those four games due "in the next 12 months." Activision showed off the new Call of Duty: Ghosts, which includes timed DLC exclusive for the Xbox One. CoD:G features a new game engine and an impressive-looking world, complete with 3D textures for better immersion. As for any other games, it seems we're left waiting until E3.
If you're wondering how the Xbox One's PC architecture will handle current Xbox 360 games, well, it won't. The Xbox 360 is based on PowerPC and that means games built for it, including Xbox Live Arcade games, won't be able to make the transition to the Xbox One. No backwards compatibility may be an issue for some people, but Microsoft isn't concerned about that as it still plans to support the 360 with new games and apps. Your Xbox Live Gamertag and Gamerscore are going to transfer over to the new system, however, so at least there is that.
Posted: May 20, 2013 03:55PM
Author: Nick Harezga
It was already known that the next game in the Batman: Arkham story line is being developed by Warner Bros. Montreal, a departure from the creators of the previous two games, Rocksteady Games. A new hands on demo revealed some more details about the gameplay for the latest iteration in this series, and it follows the "If it isn't broken, don't fix it," policy. The combat similar to the formula from Rocksteady will be joined by the all new Detective Mode that sees the Dark Knight use his high tech gadgets to recreate unseen events. The game itself takes place prior to the previous two games in the series, and follows Batman as he dodges villains out to kill him on Christmas Eve.
Source: Ars Technica
Posted: May 19, 2013 06:40PM
Nimble Quest is a free-to-play, top-down action game that resembles the classic game Snake, but with a twist – you control a "conga line of heroes." The object of the game is rather simple – kill a set number of enemies in a level to advance to the next. The heroes in your "snake" will automatically attack when an enemy is within range. The only control you have is maneuvering your snake up, down, left, and right. And like Snake, if you hit a wall or an enemy, you die. However, you can also die if the hero leading your snake runs out of health. Yes, the enemies attack too. Your other heroes have health too, but if they run out, they simply leave your snake allowing you to continue on without them.
Three heroes are initially available with an additional thirteen unlockable by beating levels. In order, heroes include Knight, Forest Hunter, Fire Mage, Pirate Sharpshooter, Skeletal Warrior, Gnome Inventor (hurls bombs), Champion, Lightning Mage, Ninja, Demon, Warden Spirit, Dark Wizard, Orc Warlord, Assassin, Ice Mage Princess, and Elemental Monk. While you start each game with just one hero, heroes randomly drop when you kill an enemy. When you beat one of the first thirteen levels for the first time, unlocking a hero, the hero automatically gets added to your snake at the start of the next level. As such, I actually found my first couple runs to be far better than my later attempts, as I had an easier time gaining extra fire power. As in Snake, when you get longer you do have a tougher time maneuvering – and if you crash into yourself, it's game over – but due to the attacking mechanic, growing and maintaining a long snake is essential, as you'll want to dispatch enemies as quickly as possible.
Nimble Quest also features some light RPG aspects. Aside from possibly dropping a hero, killed enemies also drop gems or one of seven items. Items include a chest that spills gems all over the level, a healing potion, an increased attack speed buff, a magnet to draw gems to you, a bomb that destroys any enemies within the blast radius, a shield, an item that temporarily freezes all enemies on the screen, and tokens. Gems can be used to upgrade the items, such as increasing the duration of the magnet or increasing the blast radius of the bomb, or to upgrade your heroes. Heroes can be upgraded three times each, improving such stats as attack rate, armor, damage, and range, depending on the hero. The first upgrade is fairly affordable, but the third upgrade is crazy expensive. Everything in the game can be earned and upgraded by playing, but micro-transactions certainly speed up the process if you're lazy, frustrated, or just want to support the developer.
While gems are spent on permanent upgrades, tokens are spent on one-offs. At the start of each level, you can add a hero, skip a level, increase the health of all heroes by 25%, increase run speed by 25%, start with a shield, or increase the attack speed of all heroes by 25%. Each of those things cost one token and are only active for that playthrough. You can also spend one token when you die to retry the stage you were just on. You probably won't be surprised to learn that tokens are quite rare. You can buy them for 1000 gems, though it appears there may be a limit of five through that method (I do not have enough gems to test that out). Of course if you're willing to spend real money, you can always purchase tokens and gems, but again, it's not necessary to play and advance in the game.
If you're wondering how I've already played Nimble Quest, it's because the game is already available for free in the iOS App Store, Mac App Store, and Google Play. I have been playing the game on my iPad. There appears to be this elitist attitude by many Steam Greenlight voters wherein they believe mobile games have no place on Steam. I think that is absolutely ridiculous – if a game is fun, why does it matter what platform it originated? And Nimble Quest is indeed fun. If you don't believe me, go download it on your iOS or Android device (or if you don't own one of those devices, ask a friend who does). Nimble Quest is free-to-play, so what to you have to lose? And on that note, let's end this elitism and welcome Nimble Quest onto Steam with open arms!
Posted: May 17, 2013 06:34PM
The other day NVIDIA announced Project SHIELD has been renamed to just SHIELD, and would arrive next month for $349. Pre-orders were going to go live on May 20, with anyone subscribed to the SHIELD newsletter getting a headstart. However, it appears NVIDIA had a change in plan and opened up pre-orders to everyone starting today. Interested gamers can get the Tegra 4-powered Android handheld online at the SHIELD website or at Newegg, GameStop, Micro Center, and Canada Computers. A carrying case and custom lids can also be pre-ordered at the SHIELD website, with the case running $39.99 and lids (carbon fiber or glossy black) at $19.99.
NVIDIA's website lists the SHIELD will ship by the end of June, but again no solid date is mentioned. Each SHIELD includes a copy of Expendable: Rearmed and Sonic 4 Episode II THD to get your gaming started right away.
Source: NVIDIA SHIELD
Posted: May 14, 2013 03:30PM
NVIDIA first introduced the world to its Project SHIELD this past January at CES. This device is an Android-powered gaming handheld, with a 5", 1280x720 touchscreen built directly onto a game controller. Oh, and that controller contains a Tegra 4 processor to deliver plenty of power. NVIDIA has shown off a little more since CES, but has left out two important details: price and availability. However, wonder no more as NVIDIA has provided both as well as the proper name. The NVIDIA SHIELD arrives next month for $349 in the US and Canada, with the likes of Newegg, GameStop, Micro Center, and Canada Computers carrying it. Pre-orders begin on May 20 from those places and the NVIDIA SHIELD website, although NVIDIA is giving anyone who opted to receive Project SHIELD updates first dibs on pre-orders today.
SHIELD offers the full Android experience with access to games and apps from Google Play. It also includes TegraZone to show off exactly what that Tegra 4 processor can do, and a little something called Steam. There's GeForce game streaming, launching as a beta, to give access to your GeForce GTX 650 or higher-powered computer to enjoy games from wherever you are in the house. NVIDIA is working hard to be sure every PC game can stream without issue to SHIELD, and plan to unveil a list of supported titles at launch. A list of recommended routers is also going to be available at launch to ensure optimum streaming potential.
Some of the Android games NVIDIA is excited about at launch include: Broken Age and Costume Quest from Double Fine; Flyhunter: Origins from Steel Wool Games; Skiing Fred from Dedalord Games; and Chuck's Challenge from Niffler.
Posted: May 7, 2013 12:41PM
Bethesda teased a new project yesterday, and now we know exactly what the company is up to. Wolfenstein: The New Order has officially been announced, with developer MachineGames at the helm. This isn't the Wolfenstein you're familiar with however, as it's set in 1960 after the Nazis won World War II. That's right, in The New Order the Nazis became the dominant power, and it's up to series hero B.J. Blazkowicz to launch an "impossible counter-offensive." The game is set in Europe and tasks you with infiltrating various Nazi strongholds, facing off against a multitude of enemies, and even using some "super weapons" the Nazis have used to control Earth "and beyond." The announcement trailer is available below that you should really check out.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is due to arrive on PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and next-generation consoles at the end of this year. Developer MachineGames is composed of the original founders of Starbreeze Studios before, who left in 2009. Zenimax, parent company of Bethesda, then acquired MachineGames in 2010.
Posted: May 6, 2013 07:58PM
Earlier today, Maxis and EA officially announced that The Sims 4 is currently in development for PC and Mac. Expected for a 2014 release, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the announcement was EA's choice of words in describing the game – a "single-player offline experience." I think it's a safe bet to say that those words were carefully chosen as a result of the SimCity "always-on" debacle.
Has EA learned its lesson? Still too soon to tell, but it's a good sign. That news will surely please the millions upon millions of The Sims fans.
Source: Electronic Arts
Posted: May 5, 2013 12:59PM
Flowstorm is a top-down 2.5D racing and aerial combat game created with the Unity 3D engine. I suck at it. To call the game unforgiving would be an understatement – more like sadistic. You control a rocket ship through various levels, but if any part of the ship other than the armored underside touches a wall, you shatter. We're not talking high speed collisions here; you can be going as slow as possible, just lightly scrape the side of the rocket against the wall, and BOOM! It's a good thing the death animations are beautifully done, slightly soothing the pain of dying over and over.
The controls are simple to use yet hard to master. I know that sounds cliché, but it really applies here. W or Up Arrow accelerates, while A or Left Arrow and D or Right Arrow turn you left and right, respectively. When the game mode permits it, pressing Shift or Spacebar fires a grenade – its length of travel and arc depends on how long you hold down the key. Pressing R, Tab, or Return respawns you; you'll be using that a lot. The game also supports a gamepad, though I think that would make it even thougher to control. No matter what your preferred control method is, your rocket is affected by gravity, firmly planting Flowstorm in the Thrust-clone sub-genre.
Flowstorm sets itself apart from other Thrust-clones with its unique sliding mechanic. As I mentioned earlier, your underside is armored. With careful manipulation – and maybe a bit of luck – you can use the underside of your rocket to slide across surfaces and keep momentum through turns. It's an interesting mechanic that can be quite useful in the racing levels, though probably not so much in aerial combat. It also happens to be essential in one of the six "game modes" you can partake in.
The reason I put "game modes" in quotes is because Flowstorm handles them in a rather unique way: each level features all six modes...at once. Let me explain. It's probably more apt to call them "styles of play" rather than game modes. When you select a level, you will see six leaderboards, each representing a different style of play. The most basic leaderboard is titled Racers, which is simply finishing the level as fast as possible. Environmentalists tasks you with finishing while using as little fuel as possible (this is where the sliding would be essential, as it conserves fuel), Accelerators is finishing as fast as possible under constant acceleration, Counterclockers requires finishing the level without turning right, Clockers requires finishing the level without turning left, and finally Untouchables is finishing the level without touching the ground. This is a great way of doing things because it takes out the tedious step of choosing a game mode – the game handles that for you. Release the accelerate key and the Accelerators time disappears. Touch the ground and Untouchables disappears. It's a very novel system and absolutely perfect for a game where you frequently die.
Such a system also lends itself well to level creation as the map creator doesn't have to worry about choosing which game mode(s) to allow. And yes, that was a subtle hint at another great feature of Flowstorm – it comes with a level editor! Though I did not get to test out the level editor – it's only available in the standalone version of the game and not the free-to-play web version that I tried – based on the videos, it looks quite easy and intuitive to use. If you have any experience using the Pen Tool in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, or the Curve Tools in 3D modeling programs like Maya, you'll be right at home in Flowstorm's level editor. In fact, it may actually be easier than those aforementioned tools, as you can easily add and remove points, divide segments in half, and toggle linearity (lines vs. curves). After you lay out a path, you can set the spawn point and place checkpoints and various props to bring the level to life.
As I mentioned above, there is a free-to-play web version that's currently available at the official Flowstorm site. It's classified as Alpha 4.0, so don't expect perfection or a complete game, but it's certainly very playable. It features five racing levels, three racing levels with targets you have to destroy, and one local 1v1 combat level. You can register for free to have the game save your scores, as well as provide you with stats. The standalone version supports PC, Mac, and Linux. Though I'm a bit late for the Kickstarter (it ended unsuccessfully on Thursday), Swedish developer Neat Corporation (the duo of Jenny "Sranine" Nordenborg and Joachim "Acegikmo" Holmér) is continuing development. Multiple rockets are planned, each with unique properties (two are in the game right now, though the fatter Rooket doesn't have crash animations, so it's not as satisfying to play), as well as a 2v2 multiplayer mode where you kill opponents to steal energy cores that you then have to bring to your base. So go vote YES on Greenlight – don't blame them if you suck at the game like I do.
Posted: May 1, 2013 03:11PM
Author: Nick Harezga
The International, a $1 million Dota 2 tournament put on by Valve, is back for the third year in a row. Taking place in Seattle, WA from August 7-11, the tournament promises days filled with competitive Dota. Valve has announced the 13 invited teams which include a mix of Western and Chinese teams including returning champions Invictus Gaming and fan favorites like Natus Vincere and Team Liquid. Western qualifiers will take place from May 13-19 and will be hosted by The GDStudio while Eastern qualifiers will take place May 20-26 and are hosted by Beyond The Summit. The qualifiers will fill out the remaining three teams in the 16 team bracket.
Posted: April 30, 2013 02:48PM
Author: Nick Harezga
The next game in the Call of Duty franchise is expected to be officially announced tomorrow, but a teaser has popped up on the official site. The series has been following a yearly release cycle for several years, and Activision wants to keep the money flowing. The image is being revealed slowly through the use of social networking site Twitter. Sales posters have been leaked by a number of retailers which reveal that the game will be called Call of Duty: Ghosts and will probably be released during the holiday shopping season.
Source: Venture Beat
Posted: April 30, 2013 09:11AM
Rockstar Games has been showing information on Grand Theft Auto V little by little, but today we have something that's sure to excite everyone. There's a new trailer available that takes a look at the three main characters of Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. Each of the three men have a different background, but they all share a certain amount of crazy. Michael is a rich family man who's trying to keep it all together while keeping his family together. As he says, he's "pretty average for this town." Franklin, meanwhile, is a gang-banger who isn't exactly happy with his current lifestyle. Or maybe it's just the friends he keeps. Finally there's Trevor, who is
perhaps definitely the craziest one of the three. He's a drug dealer who lives in a trailer park, and let's just say his social graces are a little lacking. His anger most certainly isn't, however.
Grand Theft Auto V is due to arrive on September 17 for the PS3 and Xbox 360. There's still no word on a PC version, but considering pretty much every other GTA game is on the computers, it's only a matter of time. The trailer below is not safe for work for obvious reasons, so just make sure you have some headphones handy.
Source: Rockstar Games
Posted: April 29, 2013 07:23PM
Back in August of last year, we unveiled Dead Island developer Techland's newest project, Project Hell. Today, Techland posted a new blog entry, officially unveiling the game's title as Hellraid. Project Manager and Designer Marcin Kruczkiewicz (Kruq) calls the game a "first-person co-op slasher" set in a unique dark fantasy world. The combat system will require "precision and good timing when striking enemies and parrying their attacks," highlighted by copious amounts of blood. That being said, it's not all about melee attacks, as the game also features ranged weapons and magic.
Hellraid consists of two game modes: a single-player, story-driven campaign and four-person cooperative multiplayer against hordes of hellish monsters. It's the latter that is Techland's main focus, and despite the co-op nature, it'll actually feature a bit of competitive flair. Players will earn points by performing various actions, such as killing monsters or aiding a dying companion. Not only will there be leaderboards, but the best players will receive "special rewards." Lastly, Kruq discussed a feature of the game called the Game Master, which adds a bit of randomness and replayability to the game. The Game Master system randomly generates loot and enemy spawn locations, as well as online challenges. The latter essentially sounds like a dynamic quest system, which could make each game feel quite different.
Unfortunately, there's no trailer to show just yet, but hopefully we get one soon – Kruq does say more will be revealed in the coming weeks. It all sounds very promising so far, but I just hope the focus on the cooperative multiplayer aspect of the game doesn't negatively impact the single-player campaign. The screenshots and enemy models below sure do look sweet though! Hellraid is coming to PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, but a release date is unknown.
Source: Official Hellraid Site
Posted: April 27, 2013 05:47PM
DreadOut is a third-person survival horror game being developed by Indonesian studio Digital Happiness. It's a modern take on Fatal Frame with an Indonesian horror mythology flare. The first Fatal Frame (Project Zero in Europe and Zero in Japan) was released in 2001 for PlayStation 2 and eventually Xbox, and is widely regarded as one of the best survival horror games of all time. Its main mechanic is using a camera to photograph ghosts in order to destroy them. DreadOut uses this same mechanic, but with more modern devices, such as a smartphone.
You do not have to love Fatal Frame in order to enjoy DreadOut, you just need to want a true survival horror experience. If you have enjoyed the last three Resident Evil games (not counting spin-offs) more than the original three, then walk away now – DreadOut eschews action for tense, atmospheric horror. There's no running and gunning here, and while there is a Sprint ability, you'll more than likely be cautiously moving along, praying that nothing scares the crap out of you around the next corner.
DreadOut takes place in an "authentic local Indonesian setting" where a group of high school students on vacation stumbled upon a deserted town. This being a survival horror game, said town is unsurprisingly haunted. You control one of the Asian schoolgirls named Linda, with the aforementioned smartphone at your disposal, along with a digital camera and digital video camera, according to the game's description. You can see the smartphone in the video below, which is footage from the demo. While the demo is a healthy 500-600MB, depending on your platform (PC, Mac, or Linux), I really urge you to try it out. Nothing I say can fully illustrate the atmosphere and tension you feel while playing it. Lighting is very sparse in the demo and the audio is superbly done, providing a perfectly eerie feel. I do strongly advise that you hit ESC after starting the game to view the Tutorial, which is simply a static screen that explains the key game elements, such as blurred, colored screen borders under certain situations.
While the demo is short, Digital Happiness promises a "thrilling storyline full of twists," varying gameplay elements, and several authentic Indonesian ghosts to encounter. While the main storyline will be linear, there will also be "options to further explore the world and solve the mysteries within" through optional side quests. There will also be Facebook integration that allows you to share photos you've collected, if you so choose. But don't worry, there's no always-on requirement – the game is DRM-free.
If you like what you see, there is currently an Indiegogo campaign with 22 days remaining (as Digital Happiness is an Indonesian studio, Kickstarter is not available). A minimum of $15 nets you a digital copy of the game upon its release, while additional contributions provide you various extras, both physical and digital. While DreadOut is certainly not for everybody, I could not resist choosing it as this week's Spotlight. If AAA developers are going to abandon pure survival horror (we'll see what The Enemy Within brings), at least indie developers are willing to step up to the challenge!
Posted: April 25, 2013 03:36PM
Last summer, Hidden Path Entertainment launched a Kickstarter for Defense Grid 2, the sequel to the highly popular tower defense game Defense Grid: The Awakening. The Kickstarter was a little unique, as the initial funding goal of $250,000 was for Defense Grid: Containment, an expansion to Awakening, while the sequel would only be a reality at $1 million. It was created that way so fans would at least get something regardless of funding level, which ended up being the case as just before the campaign expired, the $250,000 goal was hit. Containment released this January, but news was extremely light on whether we'd ever see DG2. That is, until today, when Hidden Path founders Jeff Pobst and Jim Garbarini announced Defense Grid 2 is in development thanks to an investor and the overwhelming enthusiasm of all the fans.
The exact name of the investor wasn't stated, but Pobst and Garbarini were positively ecstatic when sharing the news. Defense Grid 2 will be due out in the first half of next year, and it'll contain a new game engine, towers, enemies, and even multiple locations for the power cores. It's even going to have competitive and co-operative multiplayer, plus support for user created content. Hidden Path loves to listen to fan feedback, so to that end it's opening its UserVoice voting for all Kickstarter backers until July 1. After that day it'll be open for all fans, just Hidden Path wants the backers to have the first chance. Kickstarter backers will also have access to various betas and other opportunities to make their voices heard.
When it arrives, Defense Grid 2 will be a Steamworks game for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Oh, and all 6,291 Kickstarter backers are going to get it for free. Expect more information throughout the year, including a solid release date and whichever person/company made DG2 a reality.
Posted: April 24, 2013 12:29PM
Microsoft earlier this morning confirmed that the next generation Xbox will be revealed at a special event on May 21. Invitations were sent out to the media about the reveal, and confirm the event will be held at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington. The reveal will also be broadcast live, and on Spike TV.
Paul Thurrot initially suggested that the May 21 event would be to reveal the new Xbox a month ago, but until now it was unconfirmed. The event is planned to occur three weeks before E3 2013 in Los Angeles, where Microsoft is expected to showcase some of the release titles for the next-generation console. The May 21 event is likely to consist of revealing the technical specs of the new console, as well as marketing the next Xbox as more than just a gaming device.
Posted: April 22, 2013 12:26PM
Author: Tobias Thydal
I know that the majority of people on OCC takes pride in building the optimal computer for specific tasks; however, sometimes it's easier to go with a pre-built computer, since it's a lot less of a hassle. Especially if you are building for friends and family, and do not want to have to troubleshoot every other week, because they accidently deleted System32 or dropped the computer on the floor.
MSI has released the world's first 27-inch all-in-one PC aimed at gamers. It features a touchscreen with anti-glare coating and a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, a GTX 670MX with 3GB dedicated GDDR5 RAM, an Intel Core i7-3630QM, up to 16GB, 1TB HDD and an optional SSD. The all-in-one PC can also act as a monitor for consoles such as PS3 and Xbox 360 via HDMI cables. And you can even switch between Windows and the console by pressing the OSD key on the PC.
The all-in-one PC packs some hefty specs, and they should be plenty for most gamer's needs. So if you're approached by a dad asking to build a computer for his 12-year old son who loves gaming, this thing might be an easier alternative to self built computers.
Posted: April 17, 2013 12:28PM
It's been nearly two months since the last batch of greenlit titles were announced, but batch number six has finally be unveiled:
The latest software titles (click here to see all Greenlit software):
The latest games (click here to see all Greenlit games):
- Agarest: Generations of War
- Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures
- Battle Worlds: Kronos
- City of Steam
- Dead State
- Dead Trigger
- Death Inc.
- Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey
- Frozen Endzone
- Legend of Dungeon
- Pinball Arcade
- Planet Explorers
- Rush Bros.
- Shovel Knight
If you don't want to count, that's two software titles and 18 games, including a few of my past spotlights: Hammerwatch, Planet Explorers, Death Inc., and Frozen Endzone. As always, these greenlit titles will be available on Steam when they're ready.
Source: Steam Greenlight
Posted: April 14, 2013 04:48PM
Frozen Endzone is a simultaneous-turn-based sports game from UK-based indie studio Mode 7, the developers that brought us Frozen Synapse. By all accounts, Frozen Synapse was both a critical and commercial success, so you may be wondering why Frozen Endzone is on Greenlight rather than simply appearing on Steam when it is ready. This wasn't something Valve asked Mode 7 to do, but rather something the studio decided on its own. The team wants "direct feedback on what people actually think of the game," they wanted to "start building up a community on Steam and have a centralised place to release updates and info through development," seeing Frozen Endzone voted onto Steam by the community would mean a lot to them as a "vote of confidence," and maybe most surprising of all, they want to support what Valve is doing, saying that "Greenlight is awesome and if slightly more established devs use it then that will benefit everyone." When I started my Greenlight Spotlight column, I stated that I would focus on hidden gems, which Frozen Endzone can hardly be considered. Yet Mode 7 has a point – what if more established developers used Greenlight? Could you imagine if every studio, big and small, had to actually prove their products to consumers prior to release? Maybe the Sim City launch debacle would have been avoided. Maybe Dark Souls wouldn't have been such a shoddy port. But I digress...
If you have never played Frozen Synapse, it may be difficult to grasp the notion of simultaneous-turn-based gameplay. As the name implies, both sides take their turns at the same time, which makes the already tactical nature of turn-based gameplay even greater. In Frozen Synapse, you didn't simply map out your actions, but also what you thought your opponent would do, test how it would all play out, then make adjustments until you were happy. Once you committed your plan to action, there was no turning back. It was the ultimate guessing game. Frozen Endzone will play out in the same way, but instead of trying to kill your opponent with a team of military personnel, you're instead trying to score touchdowns in a futuristic version of American football. Now you may think my love of the sport is causing me to be a bit biased, but I actually typically hate sports video games – they're simply never as good as watching or playing the real thing, and typically devolve into simply exploiting some weakness in the game design than actually tactically mastering the gameplay. Frozen Endzone, on the other hand, looks to offer an entirely different and unique experience. Aside from it being more simplified than actual American football, the terrain and player placement will be randomly generated each time you play, with each drastically affecting how you plan your moves, as can be seen in the screenshot below.
Frozen Endzone is still early in development, with it not expecting to launch until 2014, but it already looks quite impressive. The art style certainly has a futuristic feel to it and its 3D nature is naturally more expressive than Frozen Synapse's top-down 2D look. The animation system plays a huge role in that. According to Lead Animator Martin Binfield in an interview to PC Gamer, "the play is evaluated and then the replay is constructed based on what happened." As such, all the animations will be pre-calculated, with the system using what he called "paired animations" to create a cohesive look. Also, since the players are robots, expect more exaggerated hits than any normal human could take.
Frozen Endzone is an ambitious project, but Mode 7 has already proven itself with Frozen Synapse. The game will feature both single player (Skirmish and Season) and multiplayer (various modes), and it's being developed for PC, Mac, and Linux. As with Frozen Synapse, Frozen Endzone will have asynchronous multiplayer, which means you don't have to wait around for your opponent to take his or her turn and you can have multiple games active at once. Even if you're not a football fan, if you like tactical games, Frozen Endzone is certainly a game to keep your eye on.
Posted: April 11, 2013 06:51PM
Good news for fans of Grand Theft Auto's musical stylings, as Rockstar has announced the radio stations from many of the GTA games are now on Spotify and iTunes. Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, San Andreas, Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, Chinatown Wars, GTA IV, and Episodes from Liberty City are all accounted for on both platforms, so no matter which GTA game you've played, you'll hear something familiar. One minor issue is some songs may be missing due to not being available on Spotify and/or iTunes just yet, but Rockstar hopes to change that if possible. Commercials featured on the radio stations can be checked out at The Advertising Council repository, although ones from GTA IV are still on the way.
Be sure to head on over to the source to check out all the stations and how to access them on Spotify and iTunes.
Source: Rockstar Games
Thanks to sdy284 for the tip!
Posted: April 9, 2013 01:49PM
Author: Nick Harezga
The prequel to the popular Arkham based Batman games, Batman: Arkham Origins, will be available on October 25 on PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U. This game is set "before the rise of Gotham City's most dangerous criminals, [and] showcases a young and unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crime fighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight." The game is being developed by WB Games Montreal, whereas the previous two games were developed by Rocksteady Studios. Executive producer Reid Schneider said, "We are huge fans of the franchise and are committed to creating an experience that offers players more of what they love, as well as the chance to play as a younger Batman within a fresh storyline and expanded world."
Source: PC Magazine
Posted: April 8, 2013 11:09AM
According to a report on 'The Verge', Microsoft may be planning to unveil its upcoming Xbox console, dubbed the Xbox 720, at a special event next month. The event is said to be held at a 'small venue', and will note the key features of the upcoming console. Previous reports have indicated an event planned on the 24th of April, however this date appears to have been pushed back for an undisclosed reason.
It has also been reported that the next generation Xbox will be fully revealed during E3 in June, which would be followed by a launch during early 2014. The Xbox will also make an appearance at the Microsoft Build conference in late June, when Microsoft is likely to announce more technical aspects of the upcoming console.
Source: The Verge
Posted: April 6, 2013 01:35PM
Death Inc. is described as a hybrid of real-time strategy, god game, and business simulation. You control a reaper named Grim T. Livingstone, tasked to spread the bubonic plague throughout 17th century England with an array of infected minions. But as in any true god game, you do not have direct control over your units, you can simply issue commands and hope they follow through as you wanted. Thankfully, control in Death Inc. seems easy to use and minions are smarter than you'd think for a bunch of undead.
Control of the game is largely done by a "unique 'freehand' paintbrush-like control system." In fact, the motions are so fluid that it seems like the perfect fit for a touchscreen device like the PS Vita. Thankfully, the controls feel equally smooth using a mouse and keyboard. By simply left-clicking and dragging across the screen, Grim appears and lays down a bright pink (or green, yellow, and blue) path for your infected minions to follow. Any minions that are near or on the line will immediately follow the path you drew until it ends or they come in contact with enemies – basically anyone who's not already infected. Pink orders are followed by everyone, while the aforementioned green, yellow, and blue allow you to fine tune orders so that only specific unit types carry them out; unarmed, ranged, and armed melee, respectively. There are eight standard fighting units and three rare support units. The eight standard fighting units are Peasants, Militiamen, Archers, Soldiers, Musketeers, Brutes, Pikemen, and Cavalry, while the three rare support units are Monks, Plague Doctors, and Captains. In addition, there are also a few siege weapons that can be found scattered in some levels, which can be seen in the following video:
If you took a break from reading this spotlight to watch the video above, you probably saw another feature of the game demonstrated – special abilities. The one shown off in the video is Plague Rats, which when cast on an appropriate building causes infected rats to pour out and attack any enemies near by. Additional abilities include death from above via Pigeon Pox, mass panic and evacuation via Norovirus Brunch, and Exploding Livestock because, well, didn't everyone enjoy rampantly clicking on sheep in Warcraft just to watch them explode? (Please don't call PETA)
Although Death Inc. is largely about ordering your minions to attack and infect your enemies, you're free to tackle each map in your own way. Levels aren't linear, but rather a sandbox with multiple paths. There are even physics puzzles along the way that can help you if you so choose to tackle them, such as ordering your minions to turn a wheel that opens or closes a gate (depending on whether you want to get out or prevent enemies from getting to you). And if you remember from the opening sentence, this game is also part business simulation. Along the way you'll be collecting souls that can be spent to hire underlings, complete secondary challenges, decorate your living quarters, and more.
A demo was released back in February that provides a small taste of the game. It's just one level with no special abilities, no siege weapons, and no physics puzzles, but it does allow you to test out the fluidity of the controls. It's available for Windows (28MB), Mac (32MB), and Linux (28MB), so no matter what you're running, you can go try it out. Although its Kickstarter campaign was unsuccessful, developer Ambient Studios assures us that they're "working extremely hard to make this beautiful, bonkers, original game a reality for you all." In addition, if the reliance on colors worries you, the Kickstarter page mentions that there will be a color blind mode. So go vote Yes because while the Kickstarter wasn't successful, Death Inc. certainly deserves a spot on Steam's digital shelf.
Posted: April 3, 2013 12:32PM
Some very sad news in the world of video games, as Disney has shut down LucasArts and leaves the status of its current projets firmly up in the air. That means Star Wars 1313 could be canceled, however it sounds like Disney may try to find an external developer for it in order to complete it. Other projects could see the same fate, including a reported downloadable shooter called Star Wars: First Assault in the same vein as Battlefront or Republic Commando. As for why LucasArts was shut down, here's Disney's official stance:
After evaluating our position in the games market, we've decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company's risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we've had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.
Reports are coming in that 150 employees in total are now without jobs, so hopefully it isn't long before they find a new home. LucasArts hasn't been in the most stable hands over the past decade or so, with restructuring in 2004 and a revolving door of company president's since 2008. New members would join to try and bring new life to the studio, but even those didn't last long, like Clint Hocking. Some of the big projects, like the aforementioned Battlefront series and Republic Commando, plus The Force Unleashed, Rogue Squadron, and Jedi Knight series, seemed to drop out of the company's focus over the years, which didn't make much sense to the fans. The Old Republic tried to follow in the footsteps of Knights of the Old Republic albeit in MMORPG form, and it lasted barely a year before switching to a free-to-play model.
Many fond memories of LucasArts exist beyond just the Star Wars games. Some of the best adventure games were produced by the company, like The Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, and Day of the Tentacle, which are still high on the list of many gamers. The Indiana Jones series never really took off in video game form, but it did inspire the likes of Tomb Raider and Uncharted. The licensed LEGO games based on Star Wars and Indiana Jones helped give a whole new take on the classic films, even if Traveller's Tales handled everything.
No matter what had happened to LucasArts of late or what finally became of it, it's hard to say goodbye to a company who had a hand in the gaming memories of so many people. Our deepest sympathies to all those laid off from LucasArts today.
Posted: April 3, 2013 07:17AM
Author: Nick Harezga
Last night Blizzard announced a partnership with several major eSports organizations that will bring the StarCraft II World Championship Series 2013 to light. The WCS will be split up into three regions, Korea, America, and Europe. Each region will have three seasons throughout the year with the top 16 point earners making their way to the Grand Finals at BlizzCon. Each season will end with a final event hosted in one of the regions with six players competing from that region and five from each of the other two. All WCS games will be streamed for free in 720p HD on Twitch TV, and competition begins tomorrow and runs through November 8.
Source: Blizzard Entertainment
Posted: March 27, 2013 12:24PM
EA has released the first official gameplay trailer for its upcoming game Battlefield 4. It is based on a short 17 minute extract from the game entitled "Fishing in Baku". The extract provides a glimpse into the single player campaign of the game, and showcases the numerous graphical and physics enhancements made in Battlefield 4.
The game is slated for release during fall this year, however users who pre-ordered Medal of Honor: Warfighter will also recieve early beta access to the game. Battlefield 4 is being built on the new Frostbite 3 engine, the sucessor to the Frostbite 2 engine used in Battlefield 3.
Source: Battlefield Blog
Posted: March 27, 2013 12:04PM
AMD have announced a new series of graphics cards aimed at the cloud gaming industry that enable partners to provide services that involve streaming HD games over the internet. Dubbed the 'Radeon Sky Series' the cards can stream to any 'smart' device with an internet connection. They also support new RapidFire technology, an open API allowing partners to optimise their applications to achieve minimum latency, high visual quality while utilising optimal network bandwidth.
The cards are based on AMD's 28nm GCN architecture, and support all DirectX 11.1 features such as advanced tesselation and TressFX hair. The cards are designed for use in servers, and employ a passive cooling system as well as a number of AMD technologies aimed at reducing the power consumption of the device.
The lowest end card, the Radeon Sky 500, has a core clock of 950MHz combined with 4GB of GDDR5 memory. It has a peak power draw of 150W and utilises a PCI Express 3.0 x16 port. The mid-range Radeon Sky 700 has a 900MHz core clock combined with 6GB of GDDR5 memory, albeit with a 225W peak power draw. The high end Radeon Sky 900 has a core clock of 825MHz but also features dual-GPU and a 6GB framebuffer, and draws 300W of power at maximum load.
Posted: March 26, 2013 02:28PM
Author: Nick Harezga
Hawken is a free to play game from Meteor Entertainment and the developer took some time this weekend at PAX East to unveil the destructible environment possibilities in the game. Using APEX Destruction and GPU Rigid Body simulation the team is "able to maximize the amount of simulated destruction, and create one of the richest destructible environments ever seen." APEX Destruction provides the brains behind blowing up the environment and how different events can interact to make that happen. Nearly everything in the game is destructible including buildings, barriers, and roads and the destruction of the surroundings can help to provide cover or set traps for the enemy. If you missed the demo at PAX East this past weekend, it will also be available for viewing at the Game Developers Conference this week.
Posted: March 26, 2013 02:01PM
Author: Nick Harezga
NVIDIA has announced that it is hosting the GeForce eSports World of Tanks Open Tournament with GeForce GTX 600 cards as prizes in addition to a $100,000 prize pool. Preregistration is open now and registration will be open March 28, and will remain open for two weeks. There will be five regions open to qualifiers including China, Russia, and the Americas. Teams of seven players will compete in best of three matches for a minimum of four weeks of group play before double elimination championship brackets. The top teams from each region will receive an all expense paid trip to the grand final event at a time yet to be announced. Games will be available to watch on Twitch TV with English casting by David “Nagatron” Williams and James “Relics” Starr.
Posted: March 24, 2013 07:08PM
Gravi is a puzzle platformer that will put your brain and reflexes to the test – and test your patience. You control the titular character Gravi, an alien blue ball of energy. The object of the game is to escape a "trap-filled underbelly of an alien test facility." At your disposal is the ability to bend gravity at will, but in a way that sets Gravi apart from other gravity-bending platformers. By pressing the left mouse button, you shoot off a part of your blue energy, which then pulls you toward it within its sphere of influence. The game's option menu refers to this as "Mitosis", implying that you're actually splitting off a part of yourself. You can also press the right mouse button to shoot off up to five smaller orbs, reducing your size to pass through small openings, while you can press Space Bar to recall the orb.
While the game mechanics seem simple on the surface, passing each level often takes precise timing and quick reflexes. After playing the ten-level public beta, I have come to the conclusion that Developer Hashbang Games seems to have placed (numerous) traps in the perfect spots to induce massive levels of frustration. In fact, you can see my stats in one level where I started to question whether I was a glutton for punishment (photo has been resized, so is not indicative of graphics quality or text readability):
Yes, you read that correctly – I suffered 41 deaths on Level 5! Now granted, a large majority of those deaths came as a direct result of me trying to attain the "Collectable" on that level, but I'm sure I'm not the only one that would attempt such a thing. I should also mention that the controls are ultra-sensitive. Pushing A (Left) or D (Right), causes you to move quite a lot. When you're trying to abruptly park yourself in the middle of two traps, precise control can be the difference between life and death. Another quirky control issue is that Gravi occasionally orbits the orb before absorbing it, which can throw you off your path and cause your next shot to not go where you expected it. These are minor issues, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention them. Levels do feature checkpoints – usually multiple ones and often after particularly tough sections – so at least you don't have to replay whole levels over and over again.
While I died a lot during my play session, I did wind up beating all ten levels in about 30 minutes, including acquiring all collectables. With the final game featuring just 40 levels, this has me a bit worried that, while it will surely be an enjoyable (and frustrating) experience, it may very well be quite a short one. Obviously I'd expect subsequent levels to be even harder and take more time, but it's still something to consider. Along the way, there are also four boss encounters with Gravi's nemesis, Anti-Gravi. Anti-Gravi is a red ball of energy that Hashbang says "has been infused with a Reaction AI system." The final level of the demo features one of the boss battles, and it was rather refreshing compared to typical boss battles in platformers – just like the rest of the game, it's more about solving a trap-filled puzzle using your gravity-throwing skills.
Gravi's graphics are quite good and I really like the farther-than-usual perspective, as it allows you to see hazards far into the distance. While the game is predominantly grey, there is just the right amount of color splashed here and there. It works quite well in distinguishing key features in a level. Curiously, the highest resolution I could select was 1600x900, though that was perfect for windowed mode, so not a huge problem. If you like puzzle platformers, I certainly suggest you download the public beta demo and definitely vote Yes on Greenlight! Gravi will be available for PC, Mac, and Linux!