Saturday, August 28, 2010

Is this the end of physical formats?

The latest digital format to grab the world is the Blu-ray, and it marks a huge leap forward. A twin layer Blu-ray disc can hold around 50 gigabytes (GB) of data, which is more than enough room for a high-definition film, or even a 3D one.

But will it be enough for the 3D films of the future that don’t require 3D specs? The format saw off its HD DVD competitor back in 2008, but is another challenger lurking in the shadows? Perhaps Blu-ray will be the world’s last physical disc, as we begin to download films and games straight to our hard drives instead.
How times have changed

The Sony Walkman revolutionized portable, personal music and the iPod took it to another level. But in my opinion, this format is far from perfect. MP3 audio is so compressed that it lacks its original hi-fidelity, and you can’t lend an album to a friend like you could with vinyl.

Maps have taken a hammering in recent years, too. GPS has muscled its way onto mobile phones and cameras. And I can see the benefits. When you’re taking a trip it’s best to travel light. A road map of France is likely to hold more information than you’ll actually need driving all the way down to Nice.

Plus, GPS maps are more personalized. If you’re a vegetarian your GPS could direct you to a suitable restaurant, or if you’re a blues fan it might let you know of a little blues bar round the corner from your hotel. It might take the adventure out of traveling, but oh, the convenience!
Time to move onto ‘the cloud’?

But don’t be tricked into thinking that the digital stampede will end once it’s obliterated its analogue and physical counterparts. I don’t think people will be satisfied with emptying the VHS drawer beneath the TV – I can see them wanting to reclaim the space on their computers’ hard drives too.

In time people will still own the maps, songs, video games and news that they buy. But they won’t be able to touch them physically – or even see the space that they occupy on their multimedia tablet’s memory. Instead it’ll all live in ‘the cloud’ and be accessible over the web through any media portal of choice.

Core gamers will be all over Kinect

…says Rare’s Nick Burton.

Burton told Eurogamer in an interview that he believes that hardcore gamers will be all over it when it gets released, despite that they may be saying to the contrary on forums. I am not sure if he was just punting his own game when he explained that he expects Kinect Sports to be big with core gamers.

He confidently told the site, “You watch the Live leaderboards when these things come out, we’ll be there going, ‘How the hell have they gone that fast?’ or ‘How have they got that big score?’ That will be the hardcore doing that.”

Burton urges core gamers to try Kinect, saying that “until people play Kinect, and they play it for more than a couple of seconds, which is unfortunately practically what you get in the trade shows… But you know hardly any body’s getting a chance to play it”

Those be some bold statements Mr.Burton!

New Zealand Minister condemns MOH

New Zealand’s Minister of Defence, Wayne Mapp, has spoken out against Medal of Honor, which will allow players to control Taliban insurgents and fight against other players controlling coalition forces in its multiplayer mode.

"This game undermines the values of our nation, and the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform," said Mapp. “Terrorist acts have caused the deaths of several New Zealanders.

"Hundreds of New Zealand servicemen and women have put their lives on the line in Afghanistan to combat terrorism, and this month Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell died in action over there."

Mapp’s comments echo those of his English counterpart Liam Fox, who said to the BBC, "It's hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game.

"I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product," finished Fox.

The controversy around Medal of Honor is similar to the hysteria around Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, prior to its release late last year. That game included a level wherein players controlled a terrorist and could shoot civilians in an airport.

Medal of Honor is coming out on the 15th of October for Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3.

It’s a great time to be a gamer

It’s the end of August and the weather is getting colder. It's time to pull out the sweaters and resist the pull to go out. While you may want to head out into the sun and enjoy the final days of summer it doesn't take much to get you to stay in. For Xbox owners your going to have some great excuses not to get off the couch. As I write this we are just weeks away from the final installment in Bungie’s control over the Halo franchise. Halo Reach is set to hit store shelves on September 14th, however a leak of the game this month may push that release date up. Microsoft has yet to comment on either.

The Halo franchise launched the original Xbox. Combined with Xbox Live, it changed the way people play on-line and the way video games are played. In some form or another people have been playing it in some form or another for nearly a decade. This is Bungie's final hurrah. After Reach, the intellectual property is moving to 343 Industries.

The story of Reach goes back wards instead of forward, focus on the battle that launched the very first Halo game. There promises to be plenty of nuggets for everyone who played through the entire story, and show off a fight that was discussed through the games but never seen.

Halo Reach from Bungie.

Halo Reach from Bungie.
Now if you don't have an Xbox you're in luck because Reach is just the first of many games players are drooling over. If your hands cramp up from all that multi-player mahem, with the new jet packs and hologram drops, you have the arrival of Fallout: New Vegas.

This is one of the games that I'm the most excited for. I loved Fallout 3 played the hell out of it, and all of it's DLC expansions. I have been looking for from moving from the ruins of D.C. to the Las Vegas strip for months. I have seen some videos of the new game, and it's getting pretty positive reviews overall, despite most testers only getting an hour or so with it. There is the promise of a deeper story, better partner AI, and the graphics have gotten an upgrade. Those are some of my biggest complaints about Fallout 3 since your partner was really just a walking repeating killing machine. I hated having to re-load a save because my loyal Ghoul side kick kept getting killed by a batch of RadScorpions. While there was some soft edges in Fallout 3 it looks like New Vegas cleans most of them up. Plus you can gamble, spending your scavenged caps on blackjack and roulette. It may just be me, but I'm itching to put my survival skills to the test in the new game. The raiders will never know what hit them.

So if you get tired of exploring the wastes and shooting giant lizards and super-mutants, there is the one more early Christmas present for players.

I'm talking about Call of Duty: Black Ops.

The Vietnam era is a new one for the franchise, and while there has been a lot of focus on the single player campaign, along the Huong River, with the addition of alot of stealth elements, it's the multiplayer that is going to make or break this game. Modern Warfare 2 was billed as the biggest game release ever. No matter what Black Ops does it will have that shadow cast over it. The question is if the people at Treyarch can produce their own title, taken out of the 50's and make it work. Either way no matter what your vice there is plenty to look forward to as we count down to 2011. The new year is making a name for itself with the promise of Gears of War 3.

Why Halo Reach Is Important To Non Halo Players

I have had the pleasure of buying and playing through every Halo game to date. I know gamers who absolutely adore it and I also know of those who despise the game. Personally as far as the game is concerned, I find it enjoyable for short periods of time. Online it is probably my worst game as far as skill goes. I am easily frustrated by the 10 year old teabaggers and the unbelievable no scope deaths from a sniper rifle (that I suck at using). The campaign is enjoyable yet I cannot regurgitate all of the storyline or give anyone intricate details on the planet names, characters etc.

Halo Reach is not important to just fans of the series however. The repercussions of the game "reach" far greater than the Halo fan base. Whether you like Halo the game or not, Bungie is a developer that should be a role model to other developers in the future.

The Web Factor: Heading over to will leave your eyes bleeding from all of the content and features that the Halo Website offers players. Check your game stats, achievements, learn everything about the Halo Universe, purchase merchandise and much more. Bungie has done a terrific job of staying in contact with their customers and providing loads of information in the form of Podcasts and Bungie Weekly Updates. Interacting and staying in contact with your fans is something other developers should take note of.

Ban Hammer: Leaderboards on most games are usually topped off with illegitimate stats and known glitchers and cheaters. Bungie is one of the few developers I have seen to take such drastic steps to ensure cheaters are perma-banned and glitches are almost obsolete. This is one game where you will never get messages from kids wanting money to boost your account. Cheaters ruin so many games online, and the majority of the time developers just turn a blind eye to the problem. Developers take note, you put in hundreds of hours creating your game - don't let some jackass ruin your work so they can be at the top of a leaderboard that means nothing. Halo Reach is going to take things to the next level and deal with those players who are chronic quitters when they start losing. Would love to see this implemented more in games!

Matchmaking: How many multiplayer games have you seen where all you want to do is play with your friends and you are left with frustration? The matchmaking in Halo is one of the best gamers can experience. Want to search games by skill? connection? Want to party up with strangers who seem cool after a game? Whether you have a party of 2, 4, 8 - doesn't matter. There is a playlist that you can enjoy the game with your friends on. The entire multiplayer experience is based off your interactions with other human beings. Why can't other developers learn that matchmaking is such a huge component of multiplayer games and learn from Bungie. On top of the matchmaking system lies the playlists that are constantly monitored and updated to kill unpopular playlists and add new ones with different variants to keep things fresh and feeling new. Halo Reach will be implementing a new matchmaking system for co-op campaign. Co-op FTW!!!

Theatre: How many times have you been playing a game and had a moment that you wish you could relive, or see how in the world your opponent was able to kill you? Maybe you had an unbelievable game and want to simply share it with your friends. The theatre feature in Halo lets players relive these moments in game and allows one to save and share these moments with their friends. This is a fantastic feature and it looks as though other games are starting to take notice. In a recent trailer from Call of Duty: Black Ops, they showed a screenshot that suggests Black Ops will also have a built in recorder functionality.

Forge World: Multiplayer can really only stay as fresh as the variety that a game can allow. Playing the same maps and game types day in and day out will eventually wear on the majority of the population. When Forge was introduced to Halo, it allowed gamers to take their imagination and run wild. Players can build their very own custom maps and game types by using very simple and easy to use tools. Designing a level has been taken from an office building and delivered into the homes of millions of gamers. Not only does Bungie allow users to create new maps and game modes, but players can also share those creations with their friends. Halo Reach is going to even incorporate some of these great creations in new playlists for the community. How much life could have been pumped into a game like Battlefield 2 if you were able to create your own maps by using a similar setup?

Without even talking about the in game mechanics, armor customizations, ranking system - at the end of the day, the bottom line is SUPPORT. Throughout the years, Bungie has supported the gamers and that's why so many gamers support Bungie. September 14th, I will be picking up Halo Reach and I know that I will be buying a game that will have support from its developers. Whether you are a Halo fan or not, let's hope that more game creators start paying attention to why certain games succeed and take notes on how to support their customers.

Coming Soon on PlayStation 3 (Winter 2010)

After May’s unrelenting pace of dishing out great new games for your PlayStation 3, it’s been good to get a break to catch up on some of the gems you might have missed. Now, looking to the future, with the PlayStation Move hitting your PS3 any day now; and another packed schedule heading this way, you’d be forgiven for forgetting one or two of the most anticipated titles of the season. But fear not, as PlayStation Future is here to put the best upcoming releases all in one place. Want more info on the latest PSN and PSP releases? Stay tuned for a follow-up article soon…

R.U.S.E. (UBISOFT) – 10th September

Another game with high hopes now – and that’s R.U.S.E. – a new real time strategy game set in World War II for PlayStation 3. The main thing about this game that you need to know is that it aims to make real time strategy games on consoles a lot less fiddly by introducing a better control scheme. You’ll also be able to manipulate the camera to view the battlefield as a whole, or to zoom in on individual soldiers. If that’s not enough, there’ll be full online multiplayer gameplay as well. Want to know more? Read our preview here.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (ACTIVISION) – 10th September

It’s safe to say that over the years, the endless stream of mediocre spider-man movie tie-in games has somewhat dampened the opinion of the franchise. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions aims to change that though, by creating a game separate from the movies, one that is already looking a lot better to play. You’ll be able to control four different ‘types’ of Spider-Man, each with a different fighting technique. Not only that, but the adventure will take you to places throughout time and space.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X 2 (UBISOFT) – 7th September

Ubisoft’s next addition to the Tom Clancy series is a sequel to the generally well received H.A.W.X. This time you’ll be flying around the Middle East in several aircraft including F-16, F-22 Raptor, AC-130, F-35 Lightning II and Su-37 Terminator. You’ll now be able to take-off and land your plane whilst the AI and damage system have all had an update. A new multiplayer section will be making its way in too, with four player co-op and eight player competitive modes.

Sports Champions (SONY) – 15th September

One of a possible three titles coming out at launch with the PlayStation Move, Sports Champions is a bit like Wii Sports, but all in HD. The sports on offer are: Disc Golf, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Gladiator Duel, Archery and Bocce (no, me neither – apparently it’s like boules). There will be three modes available with each sport, Free Play (no surprises to see here), Challenge Mode (playing in competitive tournaments) and Champion Cup (an olympic like tournament). Sony have also promised that DLC will be on the way, although exactly what it will comprise of, we’ve yet to know.
Start the Party (SONY) – 15th September

Ok. So we’ve got the generic sports game for the Move. Now for the generic party game, full to the brim with oodles of mini-games to play with your friends and family. Your PlayStation Eye will be constantly capturing video footage of you and displaying it on the screen, with the Move controller being replaced by something else on-screen to make it look like you’re wielding a weapon or tool, such as a tennis racket or a hammer.

F1 2010 (CODEMASTERS) – 24th September

The PS3 hasn’t received an F1 game in yonks – with the last F1 title being F1: Championship Edition way back in 2006, however it seems that F1 2010 really is going to make up for that long wait with one of the most complete and accurate simulations of the motorsport yet. There will be all different types of weather and you’ll have to choose when to pit in order to gain an advantage over your competitors, then you’ll have to meet team targets in order to rise through the ranks and become world champion. F1 2010 looks to be the best F1 game we’ve seen on a console to date. Read Pepsicoke’s recent preview here.
The Shoot (SONY) – September

The last in the Move launch line-up, The Shoot well, involves a lot of shooting. You’ll be using your PlayStation Move controller to aim at the screen and shoot down various targets in five Hollywood-style locations including Western, Sci-Fi and Horror Themes. The story revolves around you helping Hollywood to make action movies, therefore if you’re ‘shot’ you lose a ‘take’ rather than a ‘life’. Special moves requiring you to aim the Move at particular places will also feature and allow you to take out all enemies on the screen at once or dodge their attacks.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (NAMCO) – 8th October

Enslaved is the first post-apocalyptic entry to be released this autumn, but this version of post-apocalyptia is much greener than say Bethesda’s look on things, with lush plants taking over the once great cities. Unfortunately the robots, which caused all of this mess in the first place, are still around to get in your way. Enslaved is a platforming adventure with great graphics, and from the looks of things solid gameplay. PlayStation Future has high hopes for this game…
Heavy Rain: Move Edition (SONY) – 8th October

Don’t worry current holders of Heavy Rain. You won’t have to go out and buy your game again just to get Move compatibility, Sony will release a patch available to download free of charge for all users. Heavy Rain is all about the lives of four characters, each with their own set of problems and all of them to do with the Origami Killer. The game follows these four characters and the events leading up to the Origami Killer’s demise (or not). With multiple paths through the story and the addition of new Move controls, the way you play is up to you…
Medal of Honor (EA) – 15th October

It’s safe to say that this title has already caused a lot of controversy in the UK, much like Modern Warfare 2 had done this time last year. The reason? Medal of Honor takes place in the Middle East, and is all about the war in Afghanistan which to this day is still going on. EA and DICE have focussed on making the game as realistic as possible by featuring objectives that you would find yourself completing were you a soldier in Afghanistan right now. The multiplayer side of the game will allow players to fight as several factions, including as the Taliban.

Fallout: New Vegas (BETHESDA) – 22nd October

Fallout: New Vegas is the second post-apocalyptic title to be released this autumn, and we’ve moved on from the Capital Wasteland that featured so heavily in the brilliant Fallout 3. This semi-sequel to the game is set in Las Vegas, and is developed by Obsidian (the developers behind the original Fallout); you’ll be able to gamble at the tables, and there’s going to be a few extra additions to the game including extra modes. Sadly the graphics don’t seem to have updated too much from Fallout 3, but it’s the gameplay that counts, right?
EyePet: Move Edition (SONY) – October

Gone are the days of having to use that stupid pad to control your lovable ball of fur, or at least they will be soon when you’ll be able to use your Move controller to do everything you could before, without the burden of a ‘detection’ pad. As with Heavy Rain, current owners of the game have no reason to fret as the game will be updated at no cost to give it all of the features found in the Move edition. EyePet is all about having your own virtual pet and completing various tasks throughout the day in order to train, groom and make friends with your new pet.
Gran Turismo 5 (SONY) – 3rd November

And I thought that F1 2010 was a long time in the making! Gran Turismo 5 seems to have been in unending development over the past five years, but the guys at Polyphony Digital are finally ready to reveal the fruits of their excruciatingly detailed labour. Gran Turismo 5 will ship with around 1000 cars in its stock, with 70 different tracks to race them around and a physical and mechanical damage system to boot. All we can hope is that this one really will be worth the wait.
Call of Duty: Black Ops (ACTIVISION) – 9th November

With the Infinity Ward crisis earlier this year, Treyarch has been given the burden of keeping the hugely successful Call of Duty series alive and kicking. This instalment in the series takes place during the Cold War with a few extra unique weapons such as the crossbow. The multiplayer element will remain relatively unchanged from previous instalments of the series (retaining the XP and Reward systems) with the addition of the ability to video capture and a new four-player multiplayer mode.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (UBISOFT) – 19th November

It’s only been a year since Assassin’s Creed II wowed us on the PS3, but the game is already getting a sequel. No, this won’t continue the main storyline, but it is back with Ezio Auditore da Firenze, only this time you’ll be in Rome. Expect an adventure on a bigger scale in this instalment of the series, with bigger maps, bigger missions, and the addition of online gameplay. Just make sure you enjoy it all while it lasts, as rumour has it that Assassin’s Creed III won’t hit our consoles until 2012.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (EA) – 19th November

I think I speak for everyone when I say that the Need for Speed series has gone downhill in recent years. That’s why EA tasked Criterion Games (the developers of the highly successful Burnout series) to revamp the series, and this is what they came up with. Criterion have decided to allow you to play both as cops and ‘robbers’, with each faction having its own special weapons to gain a competitive edge. Criterion have also been hard at work on the online component of the game, which is said to include a feature likened to Facebook but for what your friends have been up to in NFS Online.
LittleBigPlanet 2 (SONY) – November

The sequel to the critically acclaimed LittleBigPlanet is just around the corner, and the series that changed the way we look at gaming is going to be bigger and better than ever before. LittleBigPlanet 2′s focus this time is about making whole new games rather than whole new levels. Feel like making a shooter? No problem. What about a cool puzzle? Knock yourself out. Even make an RPG? By all means. Not only that, but you can make your own music, add voice acting, even create chains of levels and make proper cutscenes. LittleBigPlanet 2 really is looking to be the best sequel to a game ever made.
The Sly Collection (SONY) – November

Created by the developers that made 2009′s smash-hit inFamous, Sly Cooper was a brilliant trilogy that appeared on the PS2 a few years back. Wait a minute, you wish you could play all three of those classics in HD? Well now you can with the Sly Collection! All three games have been ‘digitally remastered’ in HD for your pleasure, and there are even some extra mini-games made exclusively for use with the Move, top it all off with 3D capabilities and not one, not two, but three shiny Platinum trophies and I think it’s safe to say that we’re on to a winner here.

Final Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions Universe Revealed

Rounding out this sweet package is a list of the voice actors who will be contributing to the new game. Each Spider-Man will be voiced by a different classic Spider-Man voice actor. This will add a definitely sheen of authenticity to the title.
The voice actors are:
- Josh Keaten will voice Ultimate Spider-Man. Josh is known for voicing Spider-man in the “Spectacular Spider-Man” animated series from 2008-2009 (originally premiering on KidsWB on CW then ending on Disney XD).
- Dan Gilvenez will voice Spider-Man 2099’s Miguel O’Hara Spider-Man. Dan is known as the classic voice of Spider-Man from the 80’s animated series, “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends”.
- Christopher Daniel will voice Spider-Man Noir. He is arguably the most recognizable voice of Spider-Man as the voice actor from the 90’s “Spider-Man: The Animated Series” TV show that ran on Fox Kids. This will always be the true Spidey voice in my mind….
- Neil Patrick Harris will voice the Amazing Spider-Man. Neil is known as the voice of Spider-Man in the short-lived CGI “Spider-Man: The New Animated Series” that ran on MTV in 2003.
As has been the case all along, this game just continues to impress. Here is the Comic-Con 2010 reveal trailer of Ultimate Spider-Man, the final world of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions!

Stores Breaking Street Date for Halo Reach Already

When it comes to Halo games, fans are going crazy when it comes to stores selling it early. With Halo Reach coming in just a couple of weeks, it seems that some retailers are already breaking the embargo.
According to our anonymous tipster, an unnamed retailer is starting to sell Halo Reach. It is not clear as to what retailer is selling it. To someone that sent us this picture, we hope you don’t play it yet online as Microsoft will surely ban you for playing a pre-release UNLESS you really bought this from the store
Halo Reach is expected to release this September 14th. Check back with us at the day of release for our EXCLUSIVE coverage.

Thanks to Anonymous
Update: Just to update the story, we have no ways of knowing if the game is really indeed bought in store. The tipster that sent out the pictures didn’t say what store they bought it from.

Mass Effect 2 – PS3 owners should be excited

Gamescom 2010 had many highlights but possibly the most exciting announcement was that Mass Effect 2 will be making its way to the PlayStation 3 in January 2011. BioWare’s crowning achievement has been wowing PC and Xbox 360 gamers for the past year and it’s now our turn to travel the galaxy in this awesome space-travelling RPG. Here’s a quick round-up of what we’ve been missing out on.
Mass Effect 2 is an epic space opera that has you travelling across the galaxy recruiting crew members before pitting you against an unimaginably powerful enemy. On your journey you’ll meet a wonderful array of species and visit several beautifully crafted planetary systems.
The story follows on from where Mass Effect 1 left off. Fresh from saving the galaxy, the hero Commander Shepherd and his crew are surfing the stars looking for any remaining Geth, an enemy from the first game. The peace doesn’t last for long before a new unidentified enemy arrives on the scene. Equipped with a massive ship and boasting a ridiculously powerful weapon, the enemy has its sights set on the Normandy (Shepherd’s ship).
The opening sequences are as powerful as you’ll see in any game, so it’s best that I avoid telling you what actually happens. All I’ll say is that Shepherd will end up back at square one; with no one to trust, no crew, and working with people he once called an enemy. Our story starts from here.
In terms of gameplay, Mass Effect 2 is probably the first game to truly successfully merge the RPG and third-person shooter genres without leaving at least one half feeling a little under cooked. The combat is fast and tight, you’ll enjoy ducking in and out of cover and blasting away like a maniac. The camera is also well positioned just over Shepherd’s shoulder.
While the shooting mechanics are way ahead of similar RPG/shooter types, they are not as fulfilling as those found in the best third-person shooters like Uncharted 2. This is simply a result of the enemies’ often indifferent responses to being shot. You know they’re being hit – you can see their health bar depleting – but their bodies rarely give an indication that they care that a blaster is ripping right through them. In the end, this is only a minor complaint because Mass Effect 2 excels in different ways. For a start, it makes you think more strategically than most shooters, and I would argue that this is more satisfying than seeing an enemy clutching his arm after being shot.
Strategy and effective squad management are at the centre of the combat. While controlling Commander Shepherd you are flanked by two team members who fight independently alongside you. You can leave them to look after themselves if you like, but by managing them yourself you will find them much more effective.
One of your key duties is to tell them where to go; this is done simply by hitting the appropriate button when aiming at the position you’d like them to take up. By making smart choices, you have the chance to flank enemies and help protect yourself from being exposed.
mass effect 2 teamwork e1282951058315 Mass Effect 2 – PS3 owners should be excited
You have two supporting squad members, make the most of them
The shoot-outs can get quite frantic, but if you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed you can freeze the play by opening up the Command HUD. From this screen you can scan your surroundings and choose your weapons, ammo and power ups. You can ask your team mates to change weapons and you can also give them orders. This opens up some interesting strategic opportunities. For example, you could overwhelm your enemies by having all three of your characters fire at them at the same time. These triple whammies can be very satisfying.
Each member in your squad has different skills for them to bring into the battlefield. You should take full advantage of these abilities. Your team mate Jacob Taylor, for example, has a move called ‘pull’ which he can use to make enemies levitate; it’s a very useful power up. If an enemy was hiding behind a wall, Jacob could pull him into the open, leaving him vulnerable to your attacks.
Admittedly, these managerial responsibilities do sound fiddly but the system is actually very intuitive.  It won’t be long before you’re dishing out smart tactical manoeuvres on the fly. It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game much either because the transition between real-time combat and the Command HUD is so instantaneous that you barely even notice it happening.
BioWare have done such a great job with the combat. They have managed to find a balance that will satisfy the twitchy fingers of the shooter fans while also offering enough complexity to please the RPG crowd. It’s not an easy balance to get.
The RPG fans will also be delighted to know that Mass Effect 2 has customisation options in abundance. At the start of the game you will have the chance to create your own character. Not only can you design your avatar to look like you but you also get to choose its class. There are six military classes on offer: Adept, Engineer, Infiltrator, Sentinel, Soldier and Vanguard. The class you choose will affect what skills you have at your disposal; for example, an infiltrator can use cloaking technology. Every type of gamer should be able to find a class that suits their playing style.
No matter what class you choose, your character will have much to learn. Levelling up has to be done, good weapons have to be acquired and upgraded, skills need learning and new upgrades need to be researched.
Mass Effect 2 also features an interesting morality system which allocates you points for being a “Paragon” or a “Renegade”. If you play nice you’ll be a Paragon, whereas if you act like a ruthless murderer then you will be considered a bit of a Renegade. Points are allocated depending on the choices you make during conversations and during other events. It has to be said, while being a Paragon will sit nicely with your conscience, the Renegades have much more fun.
BioWare are eager to give you the freedom to choose the pace and direction of your gameplay – whenever possible. If you like, you could stick entirely to the story missions, but if you want a break away from these there are a number of sidequests on offer. These are accessible at just about any time.
You also have the freedom to go sightseeing across the galaxy. Planets can be explored and their minerals can be mined. You can find the minerals by playing a very simple but addictive mini game which has you scan the surface of a planet looking for places to send a pod down to mine. The mini game is very basic but it’s easy to lose ten to fifteen minutes on just one planet ripping up as much of its resources as possible. These minerals contribute to your research department. Scanning can also pick up anomalies on planets which normally open up new sidequest opportunities.
Mass effect 2 grunt e1282951142955 Mass Effect 2 – PS3 owners should be excited
If you hadn't already guessed, this is total science fiction
It’s easy to pass time in Mass Effect 2’s world. I personally enjoy just walking around speaking to the huge number of interactive characters. There are hours upon hours of recorded dialogue in the game. This may not appeal to everyone but the dialogue is superbly written and performed, so it’s almost always pleasure to listen to the other characters speak. BioWare also deserve praise for their impressive use of facial expressions.
Mass Effect 2 is just so impressive all round, in both scale and quality. BioWare have left no stone unturned in their quest to have the perfect game. The perfect game is such an unobtainable target, but BioWare have created one that leaves little to complain about. It’s a wonderful space opera that thrills from start to finish.
Since it was announced that Mass Effect 2 was coming to PlayStation 3, many have said that gamers who haven’t played Mass Effect 1 will have a poorer experience. But this shouldn’t stop anyone from buying the game when it gets released: BioWare have already said they have added many touches to the game that will offer new players a “seamless introduction“.
I haven’t played Mass Effect 1 but that didn’t stop me loving the second game. Anyway, the first game was hardly everyone’s favourite. I’ll leave you with the thoughts of Echo307; a man who loves Mass Effect 2 but not the first game…
Mass Effect 2 is amazing, simply put. When I say it’s amazing, I want to make one thing very clear: PS3 owners should be absolutely ecstatic about this game coming to the PlayStation 3. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of comments from the X-Box side claiming that PlayStation owners will never get the best experience of the Mass Effect story due to the lack of the original game on their console. While I see their point to an extent, we should hash this thing out further.

Let me tell you my story with Mass Effect. I was very late to the party. I didn’t sit down and play the original game until over a year and half after it hit shelves. I kept hearing my buddies talk about how great it was so I finally decided to give it a try once I found it for cheap… and I hated it.  I put almost 6 hours in to it before realizing I couldn’t stomach it. Sure the voice acting and story were solid but in my opinion, the game handled like crap.  The cover system, the gunplay, the frame rate and planet navigation took me to very high levels of frustration before I finally gave up.

A year passed and lo and behold, Mass Effect 2 came along. I still don’t remember what it was that compelled me to purchase it after despising the first game so much but after about 2 hours of playing it, I no longer cared. Mass Effect 2 is one of – if not the – greatest games I’ve played this year. The story is absolutely amazing, the voice acting is concrete, the cover system and gunplay are fantastic and the game’s atmosphere and visual style are the icing on the cake. So I’m here today to tell you that you do not need the original Mass Effect to appreciate just how amazing this game is and to appreciate the world it takes place in.

mass effect 2 facial e1282951274502 Mass Effect 2 – PS3 owners should be excited
Mass Effect 2 has some of the best facial animations around

Ok, so I don’t piss off any of the series’ die-hards, I’ll also say this: you are missing a small piece of the world that others have gotten to play but for me I didn’t feel like it took away from the experience one bit. Not even half way through the game I understood exactly what was going on, I had caught on to all the lingo and I didn’t even think about there being a game prior to the sequel.

If you really think about it, in one aspect you’ll actually be getting an escalated experience that rises beyond what 360/PC players have gotten. All the DLC – the extra characters, the Normandy crash site and the expansions – will be available from day one.  The world will actually be at its biggest when you crack open that case for the first time. Most players on other platforms didn’t get to experience that added depth until after they had already finished the game. You’ll be seeing the world in its most fleshed-out form on your first play-through.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that you’ll be lost in the story or won’t know what’s going on, just remember that there’s at least one gamer out there that thinks that is complete hogwash – and I believe my perspective is coming from the same direction that a lot of other PS3 gamers will come from.
Buy this game.  You won’t regret it.

Violent Video Games Kill Again

As detectives in Puyallup, Washington investigate the rape and murder of 16-year-old Kimberly Daily by 18-year-old Tyler Savage, the role of video games as a catalyst for teens to commit violent crimes is once again called into question.
According to police statements, Savage confessed to luring the developmentally-delayed Daily into a vacant parking lot, where he subsequently raped and murdered her. Upon further investigation into the events preceding and following the murder, Savage told police that he went to a friend’s house afterword, to play Dungeons and Dragons Online and “cope” with what he had just done.
Although Savage reported playing Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) after the murder, the courts are investigating the game’s possible involvement in influencing Savage commit the heinous act. As Savage had no criminal record, many are looking to blame DDO as an influence in this, and many similar murder cases.
Daily’s murder is yet another example of misplaced blame in the growing trend of turning the gaming community into a doormat whenever a teenager acts out in an uncharacteristic or violent manner. Just like the accusations in the 1920s that jazz music was causing women to become loose alcoholics, and in the 1950s that comic books were were the cause of juvenile delinquency, today’s scapegoat for the fall of western civilization are video games like Dungeons and Dragons Online, Halo, Manhunt, and Grant Theft Auto.
This trend has repeated itself many times in the past. From blaming the Columbine shootings on Doom, to attributing Daniel Petric’s murder of his mother on Halo 3, critics are always able to blame someone other than the killer, himself. What critics fail to see, though, is that video games are a hobby and a lifestyle no different from watching movies, or reading a book. Yes, it is possible for certain people to become obsessed with or overtly influenced by what they experience in a fictional world, but this is not the norm and certainly doesn’t reflect the experience of the mentally-stable.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the rating system put in place to enforce age limits on video game purchases, exists for a reason. Games have age restrictions, just as movies do, because it is assumed that an 18-year-old will be mentally stable enough not to act out in real life what they see in a game that is rated “M for Mature”, whereas a 12-year-old would not. Oftentimes in cases similar to Savages, the defendant was either under the age limit for the game, or was mentally unstable. Blaming Dungeons and Dragons Online in the Savage case is an easy answer to a complex murder that people don’t want to wrap their heads around. Nobody wants to believe that an 18 year-old would brutally rape and kill a 16-year-old developmentally-delayed girl. It becomes much easier for society to handle when they can point a finger at the gaming industry for “the way this one turned out”, even though there are measures in place to prevent those who are not deemed mature enough from accessing maturely-rated material.
Claiming that Dungeons and Dragons Online influenced someone to commit murder is like saying that Satan influenced you to sleep with your neighbor’s spouse; both notions are equally absurd and both remove culpability from the culprit. We all know that it is illegal to kill, and we know the consequences; if you kill someone in real life, you’re going to jail. If the defendant isn’t able to reason that logic, or distinguish a virtual world from reality, then he/she is obviously suffering from a preexisting mental illness. If Tyler Savage had said that he went swimming after killing Kimmie Daily, would we be shutting down pools nationwide? Of course not, because that would be ludicrous.
People commit murder for a multitude of reasons, but making a scapegoat out of an innocent third party just to be able to lay blame somewhere is a far cry from justice, and is an insult to the memory of the victim.
So cool-it, all you quick-to-judge critics, and wait here while I go enchant my staff to deal +5 arcane damage to your poorly-constructed logic.

Why the Industry Needs Exclusives

Last week at Gamescom, BioWare surprised the world by announcing that Mass Effect 2 is coming to PS3. The series was previously an Xbox 360 and PC exclusive, something that Microsoft fans were quick to point out. And they had a reason to proud, since Mass Effect is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed RPG series ever. PS3 owners who previously missed out on the series are no doubt pleased with the move. But it represents a growing trend that might not be healthy for the industry as a whole.
In the current console generation we have seen a multitude of traditionally-exclusive franchises go multiplatform. Tekken appeared on Xbox 360, while Ninja Gaiden and its sequel came to PS3. Final Fantasy, which had been Sony-exclusive for about 7 iterations (not counting the spin-off Crystal Chronicles and MMO games), went multiplatform. Dead Rising, Lost Planet, BioShock, all started on a single console, but didn't stay that way. For game consumers, it might seem like a golden age, with so many choices available.
But there is a downside to the trend. As there are less and less exclusive games on each console, the reason to own both is dwindling. If nine out of year's top ten titles are on both systems, is it worth a couple hundred dollars to gain access to that last game?
Master Chief v Solid Snake
The heart of the problem is product differentiation. In any market or industry, each individual competitor needs to mark out their territory, build their brand name, or show the consumers what makes them different. Wal-Mart prides itself on the lowest prices, Target tries to have the best organized and cleanest stores, Best Buy wants the most informed and helpful employees. Each focuses on different aspects of the experience, so that even though all three offer the same games and electronics, there is a reason to shop at all three.
This is just one example, but pick any industry and you'll find the same trend. Musicians try and develop unique styles, car companies have their own flair and features, restaurants specialize in certain foods. If you don't differentiate yourself from your competitor, you become redundant. Look at the failure of K-Mart as a national chain, partially due to its vague standing between Wal-Mart and Target.