Thursday, May 30, 2013

MoreConsole drops some knowledge on the Xbox One

If you know @MoreConsole, you know he's obsessed with Halo and Destiny, and his fan mail to Bungie takes up 3 storerooms. The man is also a dedicated Xbox Gamer and has some vids on what we can expect from the Xbox One. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Metro: Last Light review

When the echoes of the past have you in their grip, clawing your way out seems to be the only option. Shadows that are illuminated by lighting bolts don't just seem to move, they do move. Ghostly images of past lives litter the world and you sense, if not outright feel, their chilled hands clinging to you in search of warmth. These are just a few of the haunting examples you will stumble across in Metro: Last Light. Even though it's a direct sequel of Metro 2033, Last Light stands as it's own game.

The story follows Artyom, the soldier you played as in Metro 2033. There is no real introduction page to the story. The game merely assumes you have a fair bit of knowledge of the prior game's storyline and goes from there. The conflict with the "Dark Ones", mysterious psychic humanoids, reached a tipping point in the past title. Regardless of your decision in 2033, the game follows the bad ending choice. Artyom bombs the Dark Ones' nest, tossing them into oblivion. Apparently he didn't do a good enough job, as a Dark One survived, which sets the story of Last Light in gear.
You return to a post-nuclear fallout Moscow. With lethal amounts of radiation still present on the surface, the surviving groups of humans have to reside deep inside the Metro lines. They are not exactly safe by any means, but it does offer more protection than anywhere else. There are almost no areas of the game where you are without enemies. The obvious giant mutant rats and winged demons (think extremely large bats with added shudder inducing features) can't really be overlooked, but even worse enemies lurk in the dark.

What happens when you add insects, spiders, and scorpions to a pool of radioactive sludge? My worst freaking nightmare.

Even these murderous beasts do not hold a lighter to the true enemies. People live in fear of each other, for when the world goes dark, mankind is among the worst horrors in a land of mutated beasts. Before you really even get too deep into the game you are captured and then thrust into the hands of Russian Nazis. They are like regular Nazis, they are just Russian. What follows is a heart pounding escape from a Nazi Metro fortress. You get mingled in with a brother-in-arms, who affectionately refers to your duo as the "Two Musketeers". Unfortunately he gets captured again, leading you to focus on rescuing him, since you both need each other to get out.

The gameplay can be rough at times, with a sloppy AI, occasional invisible barriers, and a lighting system that really doesn't make sense when sneaking around. The game does excel however, in tossing multiple kinds of gameplay at you. There are even amounts of stealth action, fire fights, standard linear explorations, and panic inducing monster battles and they all shift and meld together with ease. If you prefer a stealthy approach, those are provided in spades. If you prefer balls-to-the-wall action, just shoot one of the guys during the stealth areas and you'll get your wish.

Where the game really shines is in the atmosphere. The change from radioactive surface where every open space could mean your death to the tight, enclosed pits of the dark underbelly which also could mean your death, Last Light rarely fails to disappoint the feelings you would expect to encounter in those situations. It's a game where running for your life really feels like running for your life. Pitch black corridors filled with webs are ominous and you know exactly whats waiting, but that power box won't fix itself so inside you plunge with your trusty flashlight. One of the first experiences on the surface involves moving through a wrecked plane, where your nerves will be seriously rattled.

The sights and sounds are beautifully done, especially in regards to the weapons. The detail on the guns is great and the unique sound and feel of them really ramp up the immersion factor. Watching the ammo counter tick down while at the same time seeing your magazine sliding out of the side of the old fashioned SMG adds to the game's feel of future/past combination. At times the game feels like the 2030's and at times like the 1930's.

The biggest detraction is the characters themselves. The voice acting is fine, but it lacks much of what we would call emotion. The biggest outburst of emotion I ever came across in the game was someone just repeatedly saying "Shit! Shit shit shit shit shit!" The conversations and stories are quite interesting, and a lot of times entertaining, but the waxy expressions and dead eyes turn even the most intense situation into a bit of a joke. It's very difficult to focus on how scary this interrogation is supposed to feel when the guy looks like he is on autopilot. It's almost enough to make you beg for them to just keep hitting you. Even the point where a stripper is giving you a lap dance (hey it's a futuristic hell hole with nothing but murderous beasts outside, let the guy have a bit of fun) seems forced and the vacant expression on her face is far removed from the fake ecstatic expression you normally see at the gentleman's club. Even that big box of ammo you just gave her doesn't bring a smile to those mannequin features. On that note lies another problem. Women in the game are portrayed in 3 main categories. Strippers, prostitutes, and potential rape victims. These are really the only interactive female characters you see. There are a few background roles of a metro cook, or a nagging wife, but even the can-can dancers are in it for the show. The only truly worthwhile women roles are found in cut scenes or the sniper you work with in the beginning who, unsurprisingly, eventually becomes a love interest which inevitably ends up with a poor first-person lovemaking scene.

The game really feels at it's best during those solitary moments when you just explore the irradiated world. The entire area is bathed in psychic energy from the Dark Ones, as vision after vision transforms the world we see, into the world which was. These visions are both truly unsettling and completely mystifying. You begin to wish for more than the game can give you. Are those shades hovering nearby wistfully remembering the beauty of what once had been, or are they crying out for what has been lost to them?

While the game does a fantastic job of building up the suspense, the ending fails to deliver that really big punch. Some questions are answered but the bigger mystery of the game is left unsolved. Both karma influenced endings of the game feel a little empty after investing yourself that far into the story and, while they are still well done, ultimately it feels as if 4A Games missed a great opportunity to finish strong.

While there are some things 4A could have done better, the game is a good amount of fun. If you're looking for an intensely atmospheric setting with a lot of mystery, this is the game for you.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bungie releases new Destiny trailer “The Law of the Jungle”

The net has been both confused and excited for news on Destiny, the newest title from Bungie. With the trailer released today, there seems to be no fear about how this game will be a hit. A beautifully rendered live-action/CG trailer with almost haunting music ramps up the hype this game has already begun. The game is still clouded in mystery, but now it feels more like a chase, rather than a pause.

Xbox One leaked pricing and release date

Retailer Zavvi may have inadvertently leaked the price and release date of the next gen Xbox One console.
According to Zavvi’s pre-order page it debuts at £399 with a 30 November release date. It does however have a disclaimer that reads “release date and price yet to be confirmed by Microsoft.”

With the reveal of the Xbox One on the 21st, multiple sites have been taking guesses about unanswered questions, especially the price and launch date. Does Zavvi have it right, or will it take E3 to let us know the full score?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Conroy will not lend his voice to Batman: Arkham Origins

The previous report of Conroy not lending his voice acting in the newest Batman Arkham title was confirmed yesterday. Kevin Conroy will not be resuming his long career of the most iconic voice actor of all time in Arkham Origins. It’s been confirmed that instead, Roger Craig Smith, the voice of Ezio Auditore from Assassin’s Creed, is confirmed as the caped crusader.
“We’ve been working for about nine to ten months on the next Arkham,” he said. “We all signed these contracts that we weren’t allowed to talk about this. The studio likes to completely control the roll out of any product, so they don’t like any of us to talk about anything. It’s now been announced. It’s an unbelievable game. I still can’t say anything about it. You don’t want me to anyway because I’d ruin it for you. But it’s amazing. It’s a huge, huge cast and a big story. It took almost a year to write and put together. They’ve been working on it for a long time.”
Not only do we get this tidbit of info, we also learn that Deathstroke will be a playable character. Whether this means he will be an extra skin, a full new storyline character, or just a battle brawler for the fight challenges is unknown at this point. What is known, is that Deathstroke is being offered from Amazon for pre-order bonus. We should hear more about the game at E3.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Batman: Arkham Origins teaser trailer released

Batman: Arkham Origins has been a highly sought title since it's announcement. Recent Batman games have propelled the hype of superhero games through the ceiling and into the stratosphere. Now, we have a teaser trailer on this newest title that pits Batman against the DC assassin, Deathstroke.

A full trailer will debut May 20th. Batman: Arkham Origins launches October 25th on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U.

EA discontinues online passes

One of the most controversial issues in online gaming is the requirement of online passes from certain companies. The idea is that gamers who purchase a new title will be given an online pass, while used buyers are required to purchase one before being allowed to play online. This was a push to promote sales of new games rather than waiting for a cheaper, used price. Publishers don’t receive any money from a used title so to make up for that lack of cash coming in, online passes were setup. One large company, Electronic Arts, is abandoning this practice.
In a statement to VentureBeat, EA’s John Roseberg reported they were “discontinuing” the practice and that “none of our new EA titles will include that feature.”
Roseberg continued explaining the reason for getting rid of the practice by saying “Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn’t respond to the format. We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.”
With EA already in hot water over recent published titles and fresh off the stage as the “Worst Company in America” award for the second straight year, this move may calm the storms and bring back some positives to the towering icon in gaming.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Viking 360 Macro controller review

Many online gamers think that a modded controller is mainly just a rapid fire controller. Hold down the trigger and you’ll be able to hit any cap on semi-automatic weapons without fail. They would be right, but they also would be missing a larger part of what modded controllers can be.

Where the Viking 360 Macro excels is the scope of it’s functionality. Six tact switches (yes I said SIX tact switches) allow for easily accessible page turning and macro engaging. What does “page turning” mean? Imagine you have two macros set for Black Ops II. Each can be enabled with the macro right next to your palm, whether it’s a simple rapid fire/drop shot/jitter fix. Then you might decide to pop in Halo 4. Rather than try to adjust the macros or rapid fire settings, just toggle a tact switch to scroll to the next page which has your preset controls for that game. Then switch again for your favorite fighting game. The controller holds up to 16 pages of different controls, all easily accessible with a single button tap. Don’t play 16 games? Setup different macro combos for the same game on each page for use with different weapons. Want rapid fire on the semi-auto? Page 1. Drop shot maybe using a sniper (don’t ask questions!)? Page 2. And so on and so on. It’s also the only controller that can do auto hold sniper breath, akimbo, jitter, drop shot, and rapid fire all on a single mode. Another innovation that is a godsend on some games is the ability to record button presses in real time. These button combos can then be activated again with the touch of a single button. Fighting game combos are relatively simple using this feature.

The controller has a vast customizable macro system for a build a bea- wait no! I meant macro! Using the incredible Time line software, you can alter button presses down to 1/100th of a second for the best accuracy imaginable. With this editing system, players can design a single button macro or make a full macro set. If you are looking to avoid figuring out some personal macros, they also offer user generated ones in their Macro library. Some of the library macros are a bit outdated, so you may have to experiment with some of them to see if they work with current titles (e.g. Black Ops macro working with Black Ops II). All of these can be installed right to your controller by using the play-n-charge cable that is included with the controller package. The program disc also features video breakdowns to get you through the simple features all the way to the advanced settings for experienced macro users.

One of the cool features is the button remapping. Rather than take your thumb off the joystick to hit the “A” button, you can use one of the fingers holding the controller to tap a tact switch instead. This can help with serious gamers as well as those with disabilities.

The great thing about this controller is that it’s made with an official Xbox 360 controller. Players don’t have to sacrifice the durability and comfort of a design they’ve had for 7 years. It’s completely wireless and feels just a like a factory standard controller, minus the tact switches. It also means that the controller is 100% stealth. Your Xbox won’t be able to detect the controller or the chip, allowing for use with any game. It utilizes a PIC 24FJ256 chip which grants it the ability to handle high processing demands and also lowers the energy consumption. That being said, the controller does use up battery life fairly quickly, however Viking includes a rechargeable battery pack and the play-n-charge kit that you would use for the macro downloads.

One feature is something of both a personal nature and utilization one. 8 tri colored LEDs allows for the ring of light to produce 16 different colors. These are used to assign colors to different pages and macros so you will know which one is active at any given time. When using the controller in standard mode, you can make the main LED any color you want. So if you don’t like the standard green, you have 15 other colors to choose from, as well as a strobe effect if you really want to go all out. It’s a disco in your hand! That’s a type of music for all of your young’uns.

The customized shells, button colors, sticks, and bumpers really make the controller feel personal. You can get it exactly how you want. Unfortunately we had a problem with the first controller having a bad paint job. A few issues with the clear-coat edges made the joystick skip slightly and the battery pack wouldn’t fully seal. After expressing concerns, a new one was shipped out with the company keeping in touch through the entire process and it came in perfect. Customer service is a big part of what makes a product and Viking excels in that department.

The price is pretty steep coming in at $249.95 without any of the customized shells, button colors, etc. However, the full package this controller comes with more than makes up for the cost.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Next Xbox will work without internet connection

For months, even years, the gaming community has been apprehensive about each new console that debuts. The rumors about a console needing to be permanently connected to the net have been circulating gaming and tech sites for the past year. A new Microsoft inter-department email obtained by ars technica looks to finally be putting the "always online" rumor to rest.
"Durango is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today's Internet." It continues, "There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should 'just work' regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game."
Watching live TV also may confirm another rumor that's been flying around for the past few months. Connecting your cable straight to your Xbox would free up that clutter-hogging cable box. Now, if only we could eliminate the need for cable at all.

Batgirl confirmed for Injustice DLC

Well, the leaks and rumors are true. Batgirl is confirmed to be a DLC character for the title Injustice: Gods Among Us.  The second of four planned DLC characters, Batgirl debuts after Lobo hits the stage tomorrow, May 7th.

“Looks like the bat’s out of the bag,” NetherRealm wrote. “Batgirl is a playable DLC character in Injustice. Catch her gameplay next week!”

13 year old slashes friends neck. Police say video games a "factor" in attack.

-Clydebank, Scotland. Police officers attributed violent video games to an attack on a 14 year old who was assaulted by his 13 year old friend. The two had met online while playing the mature rated title Gears of War 3, and had a falling out a few months later resulting in name calling over Xbox Live messages.

On April 14th, 2012, the victim and his friends had encountered the perpetrator at a local shop and left without further altercations. That evening as the victim and a friend were walking to another house, they came across the perpetrator again. Grabbing the victim and slashed a knife across his throat exposing his windpipe, the perpetrator then reportedly said to the victim “Don’t die,” before walking off.

The victim required 20 staples after the surgery done to repair the damage.

A Microsoft spokesperson made this statement,
“We have some of the most robust parental control systems to empower parents to decide how their children play and communicate. We have the greatest sympathy for the victim and his family.”
There are reasons why violent games are usually rated 'M' for mature. Images in the game can be graphic and sometimes unsettling. Most game stores won't even allow someone to purchase mature title without showing proof of ID. These young gamers will often resort to going to mom & pop stores where the owners don't care or don't pay any attention, or they cry to their parents until they give in. However, playing the games never cause kids or even adults to act out what they see or experience.

That being said, there are rare cases of a gamer who goes off the deep end. Newspapers, government officials, even court officials are always quick to jump on these cases and point the finger solely at video games, never questioning if there might be other factors. In this case, it appears to be more of a lack of self control and possible mental issues rather than video games. The fact that the 13 year old is already a parent would also imply that the perpetrator has issues with mature decision making. The argument seems to be the catalyst, not the game itself.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gearbox/Sega in court to battle a lawsuit over false advertisement on Aliens: CM

The dismal attempt of Gearbox and Sega to develop an Aliens game has come back to bite them in the ass. The two companies are now defendants in a class action lawsuit for falsely advertising the quality of the game using commercials stating "Actual Gameplay Footage". The problem? The "actual" footage never made it to the game. What was released instead was a much lower graphic standard and glitchy gameplay during the exact same sequences as was seen in the trailers.

There you see the difference between the demo version and the final version. AI did not function the same, giving players a sad excuse for futuristic marines who needed hand holding and glitched through objects rather than being the hardcore 'Oorah!" real marines we got during the trailers.

The suit (discovered by Polygon) claims foul play in regards to a press embargo lift of the early morning hours on launch day, resulting in gamers going in unaware of the changes to the final version. Since gamers were, for all intent and purposes, duped the lawsuit seeks damages for any gamers who purchased the game on release.

"Each of the 'actual gameplay' demonstrations purported to show consumers exactly what they would be buying: a cutting edge video game with very specific features and qualities," the claim reads. "Unfortunately for their fans, Defendants never told anyone — consumers, industry critics, reviewers, or reporters — that their 'actual gameplay' demonstration advertising campaign bore little resemblance to the retail product that would eventually be sold to a large community of unwitting purchasers."
 This might come as a relief to those gamers who feel abandoned by the companies. Others will probably voice the opinion of "too little, too late". Trust of a company relies on going through with their promises, something Randy Pitchford understands perfectly. With so many TU's to fix Aliens: CM hitting the scene, it's a wonder gamers can even play the game once before having to update.