Monday, December 31, 2012

Quinn DelHoyo Discusses Judgment MP and eSports

Gears of War Judgment has been in the gaming news a lot the past few weeks, mostly regarding the controversial issues surrounding the removal of the Locust from multiplayer and also the removal of the Down But Not Out mechanic.

In a recent interview with GamerHub, Quinn DelHoyo, Multiplayer Designer at Epic Games, discussed the new game mode Overrun and his desire to see it picked up by eSports.

To run down a few of the more important pieces of this video:

  • Judgment is more "simplified" than past titles
  • The game allows players to be "freer"
  • Control change was one of the "biggest, boldest moves" Epic did concerning Judgment
  • Quinn is a big fan of eSports
  • Overrun is designed to be a competitive mode
  • Overrun was designed with eSports in mind
  • 2 lanes instead of 3(+) makes Overrun "focused, intense, fast paced"
  • Overrun "fun to spectate"
  • "From a spectator perspective because it’s a third person camera, OverRun is good for eSports because you can see who the player is controlling"
  • "With the monsters that are in OverRun with the Locusts and all the other classes that are easily defined, someone that’s commentating or casting could easily hypothesize, This guy is a boomer or a mauler and this is what he can do. These are his abilities."
  • "You can predict what is going to happen. And that builds the drama and the intensity that people that watch sports or eSports really enjoy"
  • Overrun has 3 objectives: 2 e-hole covers and destroy generator
  • Overrun "simple, but not shallow"
  • FFA was wanted by fans and "competitive community"
  • FFA stemmed from private KoTH matches where friendly fire was turned on "You want a free for all experience? Now you have one"

In regards to Gears 3 influencing Judgment:
"We’re always trying to tune and evolve and make sure that the experience we have is as well balanced as possible, especially with multiplayer. We’re always looking at weapon damage and kill counts and kill percentages. In addition to the new systems and things that we’ve added to multiplayer, we’ve made a whole balance pass within the weapons to make sure that if you want to play as a sniper there’s a new weapon that’s not as clunky and doesn’t have the reload penalty that perhaps that long shot has. We’ve introduced a new weapon, the semi-automatic, which has a zoom, but it’s not the same zoom as a long shot. You can quickly tote it around and still act as a sniper. We’ve balanced weapons and we’re trying to give everybody who wants to play a different role an equal opportunity to succeed through multiplayer tuning and data mining that we’ve done from the past."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hitman Absolution: Breaking it beyond belief

Youtube user Cricken seems to love taking games to their breaking point and then breaking em some more. How does he find these gems? Walking around for hours? Anyways, this time he breaks the Hitman Absolution stealth ability. And I mean breaks it. There are some parts that make you want to just shake your head in disbelief, and quite a few where you can't stop laughing. Take a look.

Want Borderlands deals today? XBL has you covered.

During the Xbox Live Daily Deals today, you can pick up Borderlands for $9.99 from Games on Demand. Not only that, but if you want to continue the story, Borderlands 2 is also on GoD for $39.99

I was skeptical about Borderlands since a cartoonish shooter didn't really fit my play style, but man was I wrong. If you can afford to take a chance, these would be excellent games to do so. If you have friends with the game, it's even better.

Also, for those who already own Borderlands 2, the DLC Season Pass is on sale today for 1800 MSP. That's about an $8 savings. Not much when compared to the rest of the cost, but hey, that's a Subway footlong and a couple cookies right there.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Borderlands 2 Sir Hammerlock DLC Trailer

Sir Hammerlock. A dashing man with a witty repertoire, he is well known for his love of hunting very large and dangerous beasts. He also is fond of sending you out to possible doom and disembowelment to hunt this creatures for him. But when a Gentleman like Sir Hammerlock politely asks you to do something, you cannot refuse.

Check out the newest DLC trailer from Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt:

Filled with nasty new enemies, dangerous creatures, and a brand new continent to explore, this DLC will be much more of a challenge than the last two you've faced. Launching January 15th, 2013 for $9.99

Like a Sir

Hitman: Absolution Xbox 360 Game Review

There are few truly good stealth and assassination games out there in the virtual world. Hitman is one of them. I've never been a Hitman fan. I actually haven't touched the games, just enjoyed seeing trailers and a few youtube missions. Nothing can take the place of actually being Agent 47.

The story is intriguing, although it lacks some key elements that would make it great. A fair amount of cliches can make it feel impersonal, and trying to immerse yourself in the story is rather difficult. The cutscenes put in a lot of cursing in an attempt to cover up the story failings, and when I say a lot, I mean more than I say in a week. That is a feat not many mediums can accomplish. Starting the story up by shooting a naked woman in her shower kind of ruins the fact that there was a naked woman in the shower. By the way, the graphics in the cutscenes are really good.
Why 47? Why?
The game starts off well with an interactive tutorial during the first mission. Crucial mechanics are learned early on which is very helpful. The choices of where to stuff the bodies is fun to choose. I usually went with the closet or dumped em over the railing. Some weird sound glitches happen with that last one though. Kicking or shoving a person over a railing results in a scream which makes sense. But shooting someone in the head and then have them scream when falling over the landing is just ridiculous.

One particular handy skill is your instinct ability. It allows you to see through walls, notice helpful objects like keycards and air ducts, as well as where to place bodies. When combined with your choice of disguises, it can allow you to slip through any groups of like-outfitted enemies. The meter runs out fairly quickly, but once it's upgraded through gameplay, it can regenerate on its own or can be filled back up by specific mission goal completions. The RB it is assigned to will be the one you hit about 95% of the time.

Blending and use of cover is key for many missions. Taking cover automatically returns your stealth bar to full, while staying in large crowds can fool cops and thugs alike. It's especially useful when you need to make a kill while remaining inconspicuous. Pulling out a gun in a crowd will alert guards to your presence, but tossing a remote explosive conceals your identity. Toss, start walking away, trigger explosion, don't look back = Badass.

Point shooting is a neat little feature that comes in handy quite a lot. While in your instinct vision, pressing X puts you into a slow motion vision allowing you to mark your targets to make instantaneous kills. Make sure you aim for the head though, otherwise you just end up wasting bullets. The amount of kills is only restricted by the amount of enemies visible in your 360 degrees of vision. It does not allow you to pinpoint enemies through walls or objects they have taken cover behind. Once selected, merely execute the command and the baddies will all be dead before the first one hits the ground. This uses up your instinct bar considerably, so only use it as a last resort or if you can take out all targets at once.

These nuns are Hot! Except they are trying to kill you. Still hot though.
Probably the greatest thing about this game is the path choice. You can go in all stealth, cover slip, and sneak past everyone never losing your signature suit. Or you can garrote a few enemies, grab their clothes and continue on bypassing all of the people standing around. Or my personal favorite. Shoot everyone in the head. This usually involves a lot of gunfire and possibilities of a horrible death, but it's fun too.

What is this? I don't even...
While this game has a lot of cool things about it, it has some very bad things as well. There are several game breaking glitches. One glitch involved a helicopter knocking over a piece of cover, trapping me completely underneath. It required a checkpoint redo and I had to run straight through as it happened again while sneaking. This led to a near death experience and I had to make my way through the last of the level perfectly to keep from actually dying. Another one had to do with a guard and a door. A guard while exiting a room I was hiding in, had the door close on him. He ended up becoming stuck and nothing I could do would fix it. I tried shooting him, garroting him, even planting an explosive charge. Nothing would get him to budge. I tried shooting enemies out the window so they would charge in, but they also got stuck on the other side. Bullets also at times seemed to have armor piercing effects, hitting Agent 47 through cover, including solid two foot thick concrete barriers.

Audio issues were another thing that plagued the game. Weapon sounds were usually perfect, although some assault rifle sounds lagged behind the actual bullets for a full second. Cutscenes had some conversation tweaks, allowing mouths to move late after the words had been said, much like a bad ventriloquist.

Overall the game is solid. Story could have been done a little better, but it was entertaining. Glitches were fixed by reloading checkpoints, even if you lost a fair amount of time, and the audio problems were a minor nuisance. The fun of the game definitely outweighs any issues I experienced and I'm gonna feel bad hanging up those Silverballers.

Mechanics are solid
Enemies are challenging but not overly so
Stealth works very well
Choice of gameplay style
Excess amount of swearing

Story is lacking depth
Enemies are predictable
Gamebreaking glitches
Audio issues

Overall score: 8/10

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Locusts get the boot - A Gears of War Editorial

Sorry guys, you're all fired.
When people hear Gears of War the first things that come to mind are the Lancer, the Gnasher, and the big brutal baddies that terrorize, maim, torture and exterminate every human on the planet. The Locust are a powerful force to be reckoned with. They have guns, they have ingenuity, and they have gigantic beasts under their control. How do you look at the creatures of the Horde and not think "Oh shit, that is a 20 foot tall spider. I'm royally screwed. What's that sound behind me? They have a giant dinosaur too? With ROCKETS??? Yep, just gonna sit down and wait for me to die."

The same thing can be found in the multiplayer aspect of the game. Sharp teeth, thick hides and the looks of a homicidal killer would give anyone pause to chase one of these things down and execute em. But execute them we do. Chainsaws biting through bone, bashing in their skulls, maybe even tagging a frag to their back and watching em go boom. Those who love playing as the COG enjoy thinning the herd and giving em some payback. Those who like to play as the locust envision a complete and total slaughter of the surface dwellers. People have their preferences to sides, just as much as they have preferences of the characters on those sides.

With the newest Gears game, Judgment, we no longer have those choices. The locust have been fired, and in it's place, we have COG Blue Team, and COG Red Team. Are you kidding me? This almost directly copies all standard shooters nowadays. Red and Blue are the most common colors to differentiate teams, due mainly because of the contrast in colors. It's the standard for most games, not counting urban warfare games which use varying camouflage coloring.

Quinn Delhoyo, Multiplayer Designer at Epic Games gave one of the reasons the Locust were removed.
DelHoyo said fans didn’t love playing as the locusts, so they took them out of the competitive game, and replaced them with red and blue COG teams.
I would be interested to know where these statistics come from. Are we talking 60% of fans? 70%? 80%? What was your base figures? What kind of polling did you use? How did you calculate the overall decision to remove the locust from multiplayer? These questions have been asked over and over on the official Epic Forums, but no answer has been given yet. Hopefully the upcoming podcast will give us more information because at this time, the idea that the fans didn't like playing as the Locust is laughable.

Another reported reason is that the Locust noises sound too similar. This quote can be interpreted in a couple ways. One being the locust, apart from Kantus and the Queen, sounded too similar to each other. In which case the Therons disprove that, as they sound quite different from the Drone classes, and even amongst themselves. RAAM has a unique voice compared to the Therons. Drones are different too, with the Grenadiers having a significantly deeper voice. Another way to interpret it was that they sounded too similar to the COG. If that's the case it's absolutely ridiculous for obvious reasons. I have not received a response from Quinn regarding this reported quote.

Let's get onto the COG difficulty side of this. Before with COG vs Locust, enemies and friendlies were easy to tell who was who. Either shoot the guy with hair, or shoot the guy with a bare chest/covered in robes. How difficult is that? Now, we will have to take the time to actually see if it's a friendly or not. The armor color differences stand out, but not as much as is appropriate for the scenarios I can see happening. You hear a guy coming around the corner and you have a split second to react. Fire your boomshot and either end up with a kill or a wasted ordinance. Sound won't make a difference. What if you each have a Baird on your team? Not only that, what if there are 10 Bairds on the map? If the multiplayer choices aren't restricted, this could be a major problem. Sound won't mean a damn thing.

I'm not sure why they decided to remove the Locust, but I do know one thing. The feedback from the fans are not too happy right now. As for me, I miss my RAAM.

Friday, December 14, 2012

DBNO Removal in Gears Judgment - An Editorial

Judgment has been called "a brand new game", and while there are a few things that are returning, there are many changes as well. Removal of stopping power, weapon alterations, weapon additions, new grenade types, vertical map influence including dives off a ledge from any height, even 2 story buildings. There are new gametypes, such as Free For All and Overrun. The game needs to grow, since too much of the same old same old can lead to stagnation of the fans. But when changes affect the core mechanics of the game, is this going too far?

Recently announced was Epic's decision to remove the DBNO (Down But Not Out) feature from the Gears series. Judgment will be the first game without DBNO. Mechanic additions are usually welcomed. They require a bit of learning and adaptation to the game to make it work, but overall it's not always tossed into the gutter. Mechanic removals though? And this is a core mechanic that has been here since November 7th, 2006. One of the draws of this game was the uniqueness of that feature. No other game had a system like it, and for good reason. It was innovative. It was brilliantly executed. It was a risk that had one of the greatest rewards. Why though, was this overly simple idea such a large factor?

The game revolves around strategic gameplay. Even with the first Gears of War game, strategy was always crucial to rush the enemy, flank, provide cover fire, even just to sacrifice yourself for the good of the team. And the DBNO feature contributed a large amount to the way the game was played. Cover usage only increased in Gears 2 and 3 due in large part to stopping power and overly powerful rifles. Becoming downed was one of the ways to survive such a large onslaught of bullets. The crawling ability enhanced your survival odds. And what was the biggest way to get back into the fight? Revives. The gaming aspect of never leaving a man behind. It can change the balance of the round, leading to victory when all the signs showed defeat. It was a second chance to get back in the fight when an enemy couldn't finish them off.

Which leads to the next aspect. Executions. Gears is all about being brutal. There is a chainsaw on a rifle that is used to cut through an enemies torso, sending bone and blood flying. You can crush a person's skull underneath your boot. You can rip someone's arm off and beat them to death with it. Slamming rifles onto backs, decapitating struggling foes, crushing them beneath heavy weapon casings, even shoving a flamethrower into their chest and watching the fire burn through their bodies from the inside out. Gears is one of the most brutal shooters on Xbox live. It's demoralizing to your opponent to see themselves humiliated by using their own corpse as a meatshield and then shoving a grenade onto their backs turning them into a meat bomb. All of these features are lost with the removal of DBNO. A stat tossed out says that only 0.2% of the population used executions. I am fairly positive this was a random number spouted off to try and make it seem this was a good removal. Even if that number is true, how much do revives add to the usefulness of DBNO? Meatshields? Bag n tags? There is no way that the use of the DBNO feature adds up to 0.2% It's a ludicrous statement.

The reasoning we've heard from certain testers and developers was that it was removed to "speed up gameplay". There is not a chance that this will speed up gameplay. People were scared to move anywhere when over-powered rifles and stopping power was an issue. But they moved anyways because a revival was possible. Grab that power weapon, get downed, teammate revives you. Now, with no chance of being revived, it will require a constant stim grenade just to go anywhere. Flanking will be almost impossible without the chance of beating that one loner in shotgun duels to get behind the enemy team. Rushing will be eliminated because of the fear of instant death. Camping will be the newest form of gameplay, even to the point of staying in spawns. On the off-chance you grab a kill, the majority of players will retreat to the high ground and take potshots to keep that lead. If they keep the 'more kills equal automatic win' instead of 'eliminate entire team' the matches will be stale and boring. And if they do put it back to elimination, nobody will move and there will be stalemates every match. Another reason is it resolves kill-stealing. Wrong. People will still complain about it, saying "I put more damage into him, I deserve the kill." Complaints about kill distribution will never end. It won't. I can guarantee it there will be as much, or perhaps even more, complaints about this new system.

It was one of the four largest staples of the game. Cover, Lancer with a chainsaw, Revives, and Executions. Taking out DBNO, it eliminates two of  the four critical appeals of this series. There are many people who don't realize how big of an impact this will be. A few days worth of playing, it might seem new and exciting, but so did Gears 3. after months of playing a more casualized game, the edge of your seat adrenaline is replaced with "they're going over there, smoke em, toss in the ink and rush em." Over and over. There were no epic battles. There were no clutch situations. There was no glory through gore that we had in the past titles. This removal seems to enhance that issue, and it makes even I, as probably the most staunch supporter and fan of the series, consider this game as a campaign rental over a multiplayer purchase. I'm sure the story is great. From what I've seen and read it will give me quite a lot of entertainment for 10-12 hours. But what is after that? I don't buy games for a short campaign. I buy games with either a very deep campaign that has dozens, even hundreds of hours worth of gameplay, or a really exciting multiplayer. Judgment it seems, fails on both aspects that would make this game an automatic purchase.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

GOW Judgment: New podcasts, screenshots, extended gameplay videos

Today Epic released a huge amount of Judgment info. Podcasts, screenshots and extended multiplayer gameplay videos are everywhere. I'll be posting the images and podcast links, as well as the three videos Epic released. You can catch the podcasts here and check out the Polygon interview with two members of the Judgment writing team, Tom Bissell and Rob Auten. For a more visual interview with the writing team, check out the IGN video.

Epic decided to remain true to the Gears story when writing Judgment. The bad-ass enemies remain, the desperate need for survival, the grueling horror when you come across your decimated friends. It gives it the same intense feeling from the previous Gears games.

The story is told through the eyes of Kilo Squad. Each mission is narrated by a different member of the Squad, and they rotate in turn laying out the events that take place in the game. You aren't playing what it is. You are shaping what it was.

Rager Locust
There are no overgrown ruins. No peaceful rest areas. No quiet zones where you don't even hear birds. The cities are alive, and they are burning. The locust number in the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, converging on the last of the human strongholds. This is before the Hammer of Dawn global strikes wipe out a large amount of the enemy forces, so seeing them in small numbers isn't likely. All of the baddies we know from the old gaming days are present, and they've added even more.
This is Karn. Karn is mean.

But with new baddies comes new tools. Tools that go bang bang. Meet the Markza sniper rifle, and the Booshka grenade launcher.

The Markza is used more like a distance rifle than a sniper. Semi-automatic, it can pop heads and pierce flesh as easy as a chainsaw through butter. The locust version of this weapon is the Breechshot. It works the same way, it just adds a blade to the handle.

The Booshka is an interesting weapon. It replaces the original boomshot loadout for the Overrun 'Soldier' class. It holds 3 grenades before it has to reload. These grenades bounce when hitting walls and barriers, so it's quite useful for getting those corner campers.

Another little tidbit is the addition of two new grenade types, used in overrun. The Beacon, which shows enemy locations within its range, and the Stim gas grenade, which can revive DBNO players at a distance.

Both of these grenades will change strategies used in multiplayer. You need to be able to use them effectively, and also counter them aggressively.

Now we'll get into some of the videos.

Overrun on Junkyard

FFA on Street

Mansion Campaign Gameplay

Museum Campaign Gameplay

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Skyrim: Dragonborn Review

Warning, there will be a few spoilers in this review, but nothing horrendously important. If you wish to continue, read on.

When I first heard about this DLC I was stoked. Returning to Morrowind after all these years kept me on the edge of my seat as the game loaded. The last 200 years (in-game time) has not been kind to Morrowind. Ash litters the ground from heavy volcanic activity. Snow rules in place of what was forest, and the extreme swing from ash to snow to calm lakeside areas is a bit odd. Giant mushrooms have been turned into houses (which you can eventually own one for yourself), and random patches of ash spawn undead creatures of fire. The story though, that's another matter.

You begin the story by being attacked. Pretty much how every big quest starts isn't it? Cultists, sent by Mirrak, appear in Skyrim to eliminate you from the picture. It's the first taste of the enemies you will face in Skyrim, and they seem unimpressive. Dispatching these foes, you find a note informing the cultists of your identity and whereabouts.

After hiring a boat to take you to Morrowind, you reach a settlement riddled with ash from the nearby volcanic region. This doesn't seem to damper the citizens spirits though. They seem just as miserable as before. Questioning the people about Mirrak doesn't get you anywhere at first. Nobody seems to remember anything about him except some vague scraps of info talking about a temple.

Other landmarks include large stones coming up through the ground. Mind controlled slaves endlessly build arches and buildings around them, trying to finish... something. Touching the stone yourself ends up making you a slave to the control as well, but only temporarily. Dragonborn cannot control another Dragonborn. And that's what Mirrak is. The first Dragonborn.

Fear my awesome mask of tentacles
The story progresses like normal. Learn who he is, tear down his sources of power, and ultimately find a way to beat him. It's difficult though, because everytime you kill a dragon, the bastard comes in and steals the soul. How am I supposed to defeat you if you keep jacking my shit?

Eventually into the story, you meet Hermaeus Mora when you get transported to his realm. Man does he look freaky. A floating giant eye surrounded by dozens of  little eyes all blinking at random intervals. Not only that, but there are tentacles popping down through the sky in multiple places. It's creepy but you can't look away. Anyways, Hermaeus Mora gives you some knowledge on how to defeat Mirrak because he's bored.

That's enough of the story, lets get into more important stuff. Ash Spawn enemies are a pain because they can rise up directly under your feet. It's annoying and can hurt a lot before you get your bearings. Other enemies include raiders, the Morag Tong and werebears. Most of the craftable weapons and armor are useless if you put a points in dragon smith. But Stalhrim can be quite useful. It's extremely rare though so carry a pickaxe at all times.

New shouts are out there, including Bend Will which makes creatures obey you, then humanoid creatures and eventually dragons. Bending dragons to your will allows you to mount and ride them. Kick. Ass. If you rush through you're looking at about 10 hours of gameplay, but going through the mines, doing the side quests, you net about 30 hours extra into your Skyrim career. At 1600 MSP, 30 hours is a steal.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Halo 4 Mythbusters

The newest members of the Mythbusters team are Defend the House. They will be working along side Adam and Jamie to... oh wrong show. Anyways, Defend the House have tried and tested many Halo 4 myths and compiled them into a couple of neat videos. Want to learn if the rumors are true?

Need XP? MoreConsole breaks down how to get 7k in Halo 4

With his latest video, MoreConsole tells viewers how to earn 7,000+ XP each match in Halo 4. Take a look.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

VGA Rundown of the most anticipated titles

VGA Ten is over. With it, we got incredible World Premiers that took our breath away, and most of us scrambling to our wallets to make sure we had cash. A few trailers stood out above the rest.

Phantom Pain

Could this be a new Metal Gear Solid game? The character crawling along the floor certainly looks like it could be Snake. The gameplay seems like it would fit one of their titles. And Moby Dick studios seems like it comes out of left field, considering the only thing we have on record for them is this one trailer. Unless this is a brand new company, with one of the most kickass trailers, which is all gameplay mind you, it's looking more and more like a MGS surprise reveal.
That is a Unicorn. Made of Fire. I'm done.
South Park: The Stick of Truth

This could be one of the greatest trailers at the VGA's. South Park is one of my favorite cartoon series, and this game looks like it could be huge. With a wizard, warriors, paladins, Elves, a High Jew Elf, a Princess (Kenny), and apparently a Star Trek cadet, this game looks incredibly badass.

BioShock Infinite

This kicked serious ass. We've been waiting for this game for a year, and with multiple delays, it seemed like we would never get to see it. Well, that ended last night with you gliding along cables, slashing enemies throats, summoning crows to attack your foes, and a gigantic 'handyman' popping up to rip apart anything in it's way. Great Job guys. Killer video.

Dark Souls II

One of the hardest games in the last few years, Dark Souls was a nightmare. But it had one of the greatest stories that we've played. Dark Souls II seems to add to that story and make it even more of a beautiful series. Walking through the bones of dragons, exploring dark caverns, fighting spells with cold, hard steel. This game has all the makings of an incredible RPG.

Gears of War: Judgment

This trailer was just ridiculous. 30 days after the locust emerge and they've overrun an entire nation. Cities are burning, Gears lay dead and dismembered. New enemies that look like creatures from hell are swarming the world of Sera. How do we stop the carnage and devastation of the Horde led by the ruthless Karn? Can they even be stopped at this point? Will Kilo squad even make a dent? Will they even survive?

VGA Ten left us with more questions than answers. But we loved every minute of it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gears of War Judgment Trailer Reveal

New creatures. New leader. New battles. New characters. A new side of an old war.

The Judgment trailer just released during VGA Ten. In it, we see Kilo squad surveying a totally devastated regiment. Dead litter the field. The locust force, led by a demonic Grub named Karn on a gigantic Corpser, has overwhelmed the city. Fires rage unchecked. Beasts that look like the spawn of hell itself charge soldiers of the COG.

Death. Destruction. Rage. These are what we will face, in the time of our Judgment.

Thinking with LEGOs uh, I mean, Portals.

What would you get if you mixed Portal with LEGO? Lertal! Or Porgo. Something like that. You know what, just watch the damn video.

Halo 4 Crimson Map Wreckage Walkthrough

IGN gives us a walkthrough of Crimson Map pack's 'Wreckage'.

Crimson Map pack releases Tuesday, December 10th.

Mature Wii U eShop titles restricted until 11pm (Europe)

When console manufacturers do things without telling their gamers, there's usually a bit of backlash. Nintendo seems to like raising the stakes. In a seemingly unheard of move, Nintendo of Europe has blocked all 18+ titles on the eShop until, get this, 11 PM. Child account or not, all profiles have this new restriction placed on them. Gamers expecting to download games like ZombiU were suddenly finding themselves impeded by error pages.

What is the reasoning for this outrage? Well, it seems to stem from Germany and their weird entertainment laws. Digital distribution is supposed to be off limits to this sort of ruling, but Nintendo apparently wants to make nicey nice and play it safe. Bad move Nintendo. Gamers aren't gonna be happy waiting until that late at night to buy from your shop. This ain't a midnight release. You just put out a new console and you decide to pull a stunt like this when your console is already lagging behind your previous Wii?

MoreConsole goes silent but deadly in FarCry 3

MoreConsole is all about Halo. Or at least he was until FarCry 3 came out. Check out his impressive amount of takedowns.

Eurocom closes the gaming doors

Eurocom, who recently let go 150 employees in it's gaming department, was left with a meager staff of under 50 people. Today, they let the remaining staff go. The studio suffered from what all major developers go through. Cash flow shortage. Unfortunately, Eurocom had to shut down their video game development side of the business, closing the doors on a legacy of multiple game franchises, from James Bond to Harry Potter.
Newly appointed Administrator Dean Nelson stated: “Whilst this is unfortunately the end of the established Eurocom business, efforts are continuing behind the scenes to attract interested parties to Derby in order to help fill the void left by Eurocom. We are still hopeful that there will in the future be a specialist software business operating in Derby in place of Eurocom, but the focus will be completely different and therefore this is sadly the end of the console games development business.”
Eurogamer also went on to mention that shortage of gaming sales led to multiple contract delays, which ultimately resulted in the final nail in the coffin for the struggling developer.

Bioshock Infinite gets delayed until March 26th

Originally, Bioshock Infinite was set to release October 16th of 2012. Unfortunately for fans, it was not ready for E3 and launch was delayed until February 26th, 2013. Now however, it appears gamers will be disappointed by a 2nd delay. This delay is meant to add more benefit to the game in the long run, according to Rod Fergusson, who recently departed from Epic Games Studios to join the Irrational Games staff.

A suggestion to the staff from Rod about delaying the game 3-4 weeks was heeded, and will now undergo a rigorous polishing effort to have it ready for March, Ken Levine announced at a press conference.
“When Rod Fergusson came on board we looked at the game. He was there for about a month and he said, ‘look, I’ve been looking at the schedule and looking at the game and frankly you could really benefit from another three or four more weeks for polish and bug fixing.’
“We talked about it. I knew I’d probably get beat up in the press a little bit about it. But at the end of the day, if it’s going to make a better game we’re going to do it.
“So the new date is March 26. That’s my bad news.”
So fans, what impact do you think this might have on the game's launch? Hurt sales? Help sales? How will it affect your purchase?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Best Wii U commercial out there and it's not from Nintendo

How do you explain the Wii U? It's confusing to even talk about it with other people. This is the EXACT conversation I had with my wife.

"So what do you think about the Wii U?"
"The 'we you' what?"
"No the Wii U."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"You know, from Nintendo."
"Oh you mean the Wii."
"No the Wii U."
"You aren't making any sense."

Hell, my sister has owned a Wii since day 1 and she doesn't understand about the Wii U. This commercial though might help. It's fan-made and fantastic.

Too bad this doesn't work in real life.

Sony tells Planetside 2 hackers "Goodbye"

Planetside 2, a MMO FPS, is the latest in MMO games to be plagued by hackers. With these hacks, comes bans. Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley weighed in on the situation via twitter:
"I want to make some very clear statements about hacking in Planetside 2. We are aggressively banning people. As they develop hacks we will break the hacks. We have time and great people. Trust that this is a top priority. Hackers will not win."
To a particularly bad hacker, Smedley had this to say:
"Goodbye you scumbag. Find a new hobby or get good at the game."
Right on Smedley. Right on.
I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are trying to hack our game, I can tell you we don't have any patience. But what we do have is a large red button.We will find you, and we will ban you.

Black Ops II hits $1 Billion in revenue

Call of Duty is a huge money-maker in the gaming world. It's got a huge following, and easily beats out all other titles on any console for now. It's the equivalent of printing money for the developer, and Black Ops II is no different. Hitting $1 Billion in worldwide revenue in 15 days, it beat out the previously held record by last year's COD title, Modern Warfare 3 which took 16 days to hit $1 Billion. Whatever these guys are doing, they're obviously doing it right.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mike Capps steps down as President of Epic Games

Announced today, Mike Capps, President of Epic Games Studios, has decided to retire from his presidential responsibilities to act in an advisory role. An excerpt from his community letter:
After dedicating a decade of my life to Epic, and with so many close friends here, it’s impossible to just walk away. I absolutely love this company. If you cut me, I think I probably bleed nanoblack and Imulsion. (Wow, just think about what mixing those would do…) Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney and other board members asked me to stay on the board, and I’m thrilled to do so as I’m truly excited about our future games and Unreal Engine 4.
With 10 years under his belt as acting President, it's impossible to imagine Mike not being a part of the team, so luckily he has agreed to serve on the board of directors as well as in an advisory capacity. Mike and his wife are expecting a baby boy and he wants to be a stay at home dad with his newly found freedom. Gotta tell ya Mike, childcare ain't exactly freedom, but it's the greatest feeling in the world. Stay awesome Mike.

IGN gives us the gift of Halo 4 Harvest Gameplay

And we are down to just one week away from getting some sweet, sweet DLC. Halo 4's Crimson Map Pack will be here next Tuesday, and IGN has decided to show us a little Christmas cheer and give us a few minutes of CTF gameplay. Check it out.

Nintendo says "Come at me bro!" regarding Wii U day one update criticism

Sometimes products miss a deadline. This usually means taking a big risk in deciding to postpone release (which can cost sales), or pushing it out the door (which can lead to upset consumers). Nintendo decided the latter was a better option.

While they made a good business decision, they sure pissed off a lot of fans. Games that require Day 1 updates are bad. It drives fans nuts that they have to wait 30 minutes to actually boot up the brand new game they just unwrapped. But that's just a single game. Imagine if you had to wait over an hour to play on your brand new console?

The Wii U required a first day patch, leading to a huge amount of criticism from gamers across the board. Console updates can take forever, but an hour on the first day? That's just astounding. Speaking to Gamasutra, Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, gave an explanation on the regrettable update.
"Nintendo developers want to make sure that the very best product is available to consumers," he said. "That creates a dynamic where our developers are working on elements until the very last point possible. That's why the system update was required on Day One - and this is quite similar to what's happened with other consumer electronic products."
This is an understandable reason, but it doesn't help the gamers who stood in line for hours, even days, to be the first to play on their new console. But while providing a reasonable explanation about the update, Nintendo didn't continue being civil when it came to negative criticism of their new Wii U.
Fils-Aime: "Reviews of a system or review of a game really come down to the quality and capability of the reviewer," he said. "There has been a range of comments and commentary. But when I go on Miiverse and see how consumers are reacting to games like ZombiU or … Call of Duty, that tells me we're doing something very, very positive. Similarly, when I go on other consumer social networks and see other consumer reaction that is positive, I know we've done well."
Now, now Mr. President. You were the ones who put a new system out on the market. No product is perfect and there are plenty of things both Nintendo and the Wii U did wrong this time. Negative reviews are part of the business. You can't decry or discredit people on their opinions and critiquing. If you failed doing something, you will be called out on it, and trying to tell people they gave a bad review only because they lack quality and capability to be a game journalist doesn't help your case. You know the territory and you need to expect and accept the negatives. Try and use them as feedback, rather than turning a blind eye.

Guardians of Middle Earth Says No to Microsoft/Sony Certifications

MOBA games (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) require pinpoint balancing acts to keep the game running smoothly and make sure it's a fair fight. Almost always this requires updates from small, almost insignificant tweaks to massive game breaking problems. These can cost developers up to $40,000.00 to receive the necessary certifications for PSN or XBL updates.
Oh you want $40,000?

Monolith decides a "No" is appropriate here. They are going the "Cloud" route. What this means is that a tweak, or update can immediately be sent out, bypassing all the red tape. Speaking with VG24/7, Guardians of Middle Earth producer, Bob Roberts, had this to say:
"[We built] a system for having a lot of our balance database saved in cloud storage, that you’re going to download every time you launch the game. It’s a very small, quick update that doesn’t have to go through certification, so we can update it every day, every week – however often we need to if we see critical balance issues.”
With the game releasing on PS3 today and Xbox 360 tomorrow, Monolith also wanted to express how much time they put into balancing the game before launching it.
“The basic idea is that, if they can sink time in and really practice a particular combo – say five guardians that really compliment each other really well , and the perfect item build – that there is always a counter for that.
“So no matter what the testers figured out to be the best possible strategy that they could think of, and was over-powered for a couple of days, someone else on the team would figure out a counter to it. That strategy would then become dominant for a couple of days, and it cycled around like that whether or not we changed any balance.
“That’s the point we got to where it feels like a good equilibrium for this type of competitive game, because with any competitive multiplayer, you want it to not be about individual champions or items. It’s got to be something that where the community will find emergent counters to strategies, and keep things cycling around on their own.”
 They will still be keeping a very close eye on the game's stats to make sure it's an even playing field for all.