Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whooo exams are over. Minecraft time.

On Monday I finished my last exam. This has been a long time coming and now I finally have time to do the things I want to do. Like play Minecraft guilt free and till 3AM.

Also I don't know if some of you have noticed but Bethesda has released the newest game in the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim. While sounding more like an uncomfortable sexual position rather than a highly anticipated video game I decided it was about time I started playing Oblivion. Then I remembered I gave it to a friend of mine for safekeeping while I did my exams. What was I to do? Instead of giving it too much thought I just went back to playing Minecraft.

Yes folks, about a week or so ago Minecraft went into full release. Or went 'gold' so to speak. To be honest I'm just glad they brought back creative mode. So now I can build my giant fortresses without being bothered by trivial things like gravity and exploding green penises.

Anyway I'm going to keep this one short this week because I'm too busy discovering things to do with my new found freedom. Like watch re-runs of Stargate Atlantis.

Till next week when I have something better prepared. Like that Splinter cell review I said I'd do ages ago.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OPINION: Developers Aren't Punching Bags.

As exams are still eating my life this weeks post is from Elizabeth Danger. She is a freelance journalist who writes for Level 3 and Save Game Online. Thanks for stepping in Liz. I owe you one.


I can't help but feel I've been a little too hard on BioWare about the future of Mass Effect.

I was looking at the BioWare Social Network forums yesterday, and among the shame-filled ocean of creepy topics about Tali and what her sweat would smell like (and the accompanying fan-made chemical formulas,) I noticed how much criticism the direction of the third game is getting from its own fans.

While I tend to avoid the BSN forums like a plague unless something awesome goes down (such as David Gaider standing up for gay romance options in Dragon Age 2), I found myself thinking about the fandom circles I do participate in. While small and more of a social circle than anything else, I can't help but again notice how damned harsh we are on a game that isn't even completed yet.

I've done a little bit of reflection on this matter and I have to admit I'm guilty as charged. But why? Why is it that I'm so passionate about this game being a success? Why am I so obsessed with it being the perfect game?

Probably because I'm so emotionally attached to it.

Say what you will about BioWare, but they know how to pull you in and not let go of you. BioWare is one of those developers that writes characters so well-rounded and interesting that you find yourself tempted to delve into the world of fanfiction just to fill the void once you've finished the game. DA2 may have been extremely flawed in its gameplay and even execution -- for the record, I didn't think it was awful, but I tend to roll mage, and not much has changed in that class -- but it still caused me to cry during its more tender moments.

Some complain that Mass Effect 2 shoved off their favourite characters and feel ripped off, which in itself is testament to how well those characters were written in the first place, but I found the story and characters so enthralling that I actually didn't leave my apartment for two days to play it. Okay, that might be lack of responsibility. Maybe.

When a series causes people to become so emotionally attached to the characters and the story itself, you can't really be surprised when the fans get very protective of something they love. It's not new, either. We all remember how the Star Wars community reacted to the changes that were made to the Blu-Ray release; a few more alterations and I'm sure they would have been ready to storm Lucas Ranch with torches and pitchforks. On a smaller scale, there was outrage that 'Bananas in Pyjamas,' a show most of us haven't actively watched in about a decade, had made the change to 3D animation. So of course, you can imagine the reaction the Mass Effect community has every time there's a whisper of change.

Again, though, I think I may have been too harsh on BioWare. Sometimes we forget that behind all the poorly thought out marketing moves and morally questionable forum moderation, there's still a developer with heart that gives us some really good games. Fans, I think, sometimes forget that BioWare is the developer who gave them the games they love so much in the first place. BioWare developers take chances and experiment, and if they hadn't, you wouldn't have had the game you so desperately defend at every corner now as though it's your child and the 'mainstream' AAA game market is some kind of enraged bear.

Surely, if these guys gave us a game that we take so much joy from playing, we can at least give them the respect they deserve and trust them with the third installment. I can remember fans being almost as sceptical about the second installment and look what we wound up getting! Sure, Dragon Age 2 wasn't the best game it could be, but comparing any Dragon Age games to any games in the Mass Effect series is like comparing apples to oranges.

My parents like to tell me this joke, which I think is more wise than funny. A man is driving in a rural area, and one of his tires goes flat. He pulls over and realises that he's left his tyre-jack in his garage at home. He remembers seeing a house a few miles back, so he sets off on foot to ask if they have one he can borrow. He walks for a few minutes and thinks to himself 'lucky thing that house is in walking distance at all! This will be easy, I'll just ask him for a jack, change my tyre, drive back and return it.'

A few minutes pass. 'I hope he doesn't think I'm going to steal it,' he thinks to himself. 'It shouldn't take long, hopefully he's okay with it.' He continues walking, and he keeps envisioning the situation. 'Oh man, what if he's in the middle of dinner with his family or he's fixing his own car? He's gonna be really angry with me if he is.' He can see the house in the distance now. 'Shit. He's going to be really rude to me and probably ask me for money or something. I can see it now.'

He gets closer and closer to the house, only a few minutes away. 'He's gonna shout at me!' He thinks to himself. 'No, he's gonna full on abuse me for asking a stranger for a favor! What an asshole! I can't believe it! I'm only asking to borrow something and he's not going to help me out for no reason at all, and be rude to boot!'

Eventually, the man arrives at the house and knocks on the door. An elderly man comes to the door, and before he can even say hello, the first man shouts "Stick that jack up your ass!" and storms off.

This is what fans, including myself, seem to do. We spend so much time convincing ourselves that games are going to be terrible that by the time they're released, we already genuinely believe they're just awful when in fact we should be excited about these releases.

I guess what I'm trying to ask fans to do here is to essentially cool their jets and take a step back. I know it's a big ask and it's probably like politely asking a fire to not engulf one's home, but I really don't like seeing people be so harsh and sometimes borderline abusive about something that isn't really up to them in the end. Maybe knowing that BioWare does take community feedback into account like it does has gone to a few heads and given a false sense of privilege. Maybe it's just a case of the most vocal being the most crazy. But I've actually never seen a community get almost offended by the concept of change like this. We need to start giving developers credit where it's due, I think, and this goes for any game series.

So, BioWare, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for every time I flipped my shit at you over the concept of multiplayer (which I'm pretty excited about right now, to be honest). I'm sorry for nitpicking over changes to the squad lineup; I'm sure you've got it written in a way that will leave me just as pleased as I would be if Thane were a part of it. I'm especially sorry for losing my cool over things that haven't even been confirmed to be true. I'm going to try and save my outrage mode for after I've gotten my hands on the game.

It's BioWare's game just as much as it's the fan's experience. Mass Effect 2 was a great game, and I think the best thanks we can give them is to let them finish the series as according to their own vision.

Unless they kill off Garrus.

Then they can go to hell.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Free speech - the dilemma

I origionally posted this on my personal blog (where I just talk about non-gaming stuff, yes it does happen) and I thought it was relavent to post here.

The topic of free speech has been weighing heavily on my mind over the last few days. Being the son of a left-wing-Marxist-scholar-revolutionary has taught me a few things. One of those is to uphold the right to free speech. The reason I started this website is because the 400 character limit on facebook was restrictive to the point that I felt I couldn't make my point. That in some way my right to free speech was being impeded by not being able to rant on the internet.

I can't remember who said it (some french bloke I think around the time of the first revolution) but the saying is 'I disagree with what you say but I'll die for your right to say it.' I take that saying very seriously and as annoying as it has been sometimes, I've stuck to it.

Recently a very good friend of mine has come under fire for putting forth her opinion on an ad she found offensive. She stated her reasons and put forth logical and convincing arguments. To which in return she gets called a fat hairy lesbian among other horrible things. Oh and death threats, can't forget about the death threats. Now this is the kind of stuff I'd expect on 4Chan (A.K.A the arsehole of the internet) but not in the civilized parts of the world wide web.

I like to think that gamers are rather tolerant people. With games like Mass Effect where you work with (and if you are so inclined get freaky with) aliens how could you not. I still like to think that gamers as a whole are, but of course there are idiots in every bunch. It's these people that are making me question my belief in free speech. On one hand these people should not be allowed to say this kind of stuff, let alone be allowed to breed, but on the other hand they are well within their rights to say it. I'm feeling really conflicted on this issue and it is something that weighs heavily on my mind.

I feel like I should do something but what? I suppose all I can do is say 'hey... stop that, not cool dude.'

Actually I think I can.

There's nothing wrong with debate. Matter of fact it's great. Its how ideas are formed and forged and allow for people to think on a subject in a deep and significant way. But how are you making any kind of intellectual contribution by simply calling someone a fat hairy lesbian? If you disagree, fine but put forth an argument and make your reasons tangible. If you can read, spell and you are familiar with how to use a computer then it would stand to reason that you can make a counter-point. Because by just name calling you just make yourself look stupid. Like you're too stupid to enunciate how you feel about the subject. 

Think before you type.

Till next week, peace.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

OPINION: Social Gaming And Eating My Words

This weeks post is not from me as at the moment I'm in the middle of exams (which are going fine by the way thanks for asking) and neck deep in text books. This weeks post comes from a very good friend of mine Elizabeth Danger. She is a freelance journalist who writes for Level 3 and Save Game Online. Enjoy while I go nose deep into my Psychology text book, yay.


This week, readers, I became everything I have ever hated. I've started playing The Sims Social. I still remember the feeling of almost disgust that ran through me when it was announced at E3. 'How sad,' I thought. 'People are actually going to spend time playing this game instead of actually doing what they're acting out in real life.' I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to watch their two Sims having fun instead of... you know, hanging out with that person and actually having fun with them.

And then this week, with the intent of having sexual relations with all my friends Sims (as a sign of friendly affection, I assure you,) I started playing the game.

And I actually found myself enjoying it.

We recently learned that, according to AppData, The Sims Social has surpassed FarmVille in Daily Active Users (DAUs.) I never really could get into the FarmVille thing, or any social gaming, really, so I'm having a very hard time trying to understand why Sims Social is so different for me. It goes without saying that the Sims formula is addictive enough as it is, I've been wasting my life on the franchise for almost 10 years now, and I don't doubt that the accessibility of the game is a massive pull. Because it's free, it's easy to jump right into. I remember paying about $70 for the first Sims game, which to be honest had less features than Sims Social and has left me feeling a little ripped off that it's available for free.

Once you're hooked in by the concept of a free Sims game, it's a bit of a slippery slope. In my case, I wanted to have my Sim (affectionately named Assbutt,) swapping bodily fluids with everyone I knew playing the game as a bit of a joke. I wanted that 'Whoo Hoo' notification that made me laugh so hard during the E3 keynote littered all over my friends walls. After creating my scarlet woman of a Sim, I discovered this wouldn't be so easy.

First I would, obviously, need a double bed for my Sim to bonk in. On buying the double bed, I discovered that to assemble it, I would need some items that were only attainable by performing quests, making social interactions and fulfilling Assbutt's various needs. Whatever, right? Surely I could just play for a few hours and before I knew it my Sim would be bonking her way into this joke and we'd all have a laugh about it later.

It was about halfway through my bed quest that I realised all my friends had better houses than me. To be completely accurate, Assbutt was living in a one bedroom flat with a single bed in the bathroom to make room for her computer desk while Breanna Sim was living in a mansion with a spa in the living room just because. I couldn't have this. Breanna isn't a gamer in real life, I am. I should be winning at having a nice virtual life!

It was on. I'd started this imaginary contest with Breanna purely to flex my e-muscles. First thing I'd need would be another room to house my yet-to-be-assembled double bed in, which would require 3 friends to help me in building because apparently tradies don't exist in the Sim world. I can pinpoint the exact moment of my downfall, because it was when I did what I promised myself I wouldn't do and actually actively invited friends to play the game. That was it. The minute I clicked that 'send invite' button I became everything I said I wouldn't.

While I'm yet to invest any money in this game (and trust me, I have been very tempted to,) I've invested more time than I should. I actually put off playing Fallout last night to finish a quest in Sims Social. I've legitimately had a conversation at work about the game. Before I wrote this article I was playing it. Not even the shame and embarrassment that I once felt playing social games haunts me like it did during what I have named 'The GagaVille Incident.'

Thinking about it a bit more, though, I suppose the only reason I'm even writing this confession of sorts is the stigma associated with social gaming in the gaming community. We constantly scoff at FarmVille, but Zynga makes an obscene amount of money off those casual gamers. I used to joke that social games were the vampires of gaming, and not the cool ones, either. I mean the stupid sparkly ones. Well, now one of those sparkly vampires is watching me sleep and making me choose between him and my werewolf friend and goddamn if I'm not enjoying it.

The worst thing is, however, I'm already planning how I'm going to ween myself off this game. I know I'm down the rabbit hole and I know I'm going to need to stop myself or I'm just not going to play any other games, which isn't okay because I still need to play Deus Ex and Dead Island already. I can't help but wonder if I've been too hard on those who indulge in FarmVille and Vampire Wars, maybe it's no more embarrassing than being a serious WoW player. Perhaps the stigma attached to social gaming is one we've created because we as gamers fear change, or we fear our world that has been so niche for so long becoming as mainstream as it is.

Stigma or no, spending any amount of time on this game probably isn't healthy, and my original argument still stands: I could actually be hanging out with my friends instead of sitting at a computer and simulating it. That being said, however, in the end, I can't get my freak on with every single one of them in real life (nor would I really want to,) so maybe I've found something that only Sims Social can offer me.

For the record, Assbutt is yet to bed any of her neighbours. Just like real life.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GTA V Announced

Rockstar Games posted this on their website yesterday. It shows that Rockstar are developing a new Grand Theft Auto title which is speculated to be released either early to mid next year.On the bottom of the page it says that there will be a trailer posted next week. I really hope its a sequel to San Andreas and not GTA IV. Looking at the logo for five I'd say its entirely possible.

Tune in Next week to watch the trailer. In the mean tome which Grand Theft Auto title do you want to see a sequel of.

Comment below.

UPDATE: Here it is

^My reaction as soon as I saw the Vinewood sign^
Not a good move at 7:00AM when your sister is trying to sleep. But still YAY :D

Oh man I've been waiting for this for years. GTA San Andreas is my favourite GTA game in the series and is 2nd after Wolfenstien 3D in my top 3 games I'd like to be stuck on a desert island with. While the trailer shows a character that has nothing to do with CJ and the Grove St boys and seems to go more along the lines of Californication I'm not complaining. Californication is an awesome show. David Duchovny *drool*

No release date but I am so pre-ordering the collectors edition of this. Even if I have to pimp myself to do it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No post this week sorry folks

I was writing a review of Splinter Cell: Double Agent (both the PS2 and Xbox 360 versions) however due to a death in the family I haven't had the time to finish it.

So in the mean time I'll ask a question. Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops, Which is better?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Announced and Details Revealed

A week or so ago rumors were going around the internet that Mass Effect 3 would have a multiplayer component. It was this flyer that surfaced online (Below) which started the rumor.

A few days ago Bioware confirmed via PC PowerPlay magazine that Mass Effect 3 will have a four player online co-op feature.

Furthermore, Bioware's Community Co-ordinator Chris Priestly has posted details about Mass Effects multiplayer experience and its Galaxy at War system on the Bioware Social Network yesterday:

Hi Everyone
Today BioWare and the Mass Effect 3 team are very pleased to announce 4 player co-op multiplayer missions and the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system for Mass Effect 3 on the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

4 player co-op multiplayer
Join your friends in the all-out galactic war to take Earth back. The universe of Mass Effect expands with the addition of new co-op multiplayer missions, playable over Xbox Live, PSN and PC internet. Players can choose from a variety of classes and races, form an elite Special Forces squad, and combine their weapons, powers and abilities to devastating effect as they fight together to liberate key territories from enemy control. Success in multi-player will have a direct impact on the outcome of the single player campaign, giving players an alternative method of achieving ultimate victory against the greatest threat mankind – and the entire galaxy – has ever faced. 
Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War 
As a bonus to the campaign, BioWare is introducing the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system, a new way for players to manage and experience the galactic war from multiple fronts, including a new 4-player co-op mode. The key to saving the galaxy is the “Galactic Readiness” level, measured by Commander Shepard’s ability to apply
every possible asset – people, weapons, resources, armies, fleets – in the final battle against the Reapers. Players can impact their game’s Galactic Readiness level in multiple ways via the Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system, including multiplayer. Other platforms and interfaces will be announced in the coming months. It is important to note that the system is entirely optional and just another way players can have control over your game experience – it is still possible to achieve the optimal, complete ending of the game in Mass Effect 3 through single-player alone.

Why include 4 player Co-op multiplayer in Mass Effect 3?
  • Being able to explore and fight alongside your friends in the Mass Effect universe has always been something we thought would be fun and compelling, and many players have asked for it for a long time as well. Mass Effect 3 is the best place for us to introduce multiplayer through co-op because of the premise of the game – all out galactic war. 
Why only 4 player co-op? What not a versus mode? 
  • We have always maintained that we would only add multiplayer into the Mass Effect series if it made sense and did not compromise the power of the single player campaign. Fighting together against a common threat was the multiplayer experience that made the most sense for Mass Effect 3. The way we have designed co-op as a wayto take control of key conflict zones in the galaxy is a natural extension of the premise of Mass Effect 3. 
Why did you decide not to include it as a part of the main campaign? 
  • Our priority and focus with Mass Effect 3 has and always will be to deliver a complete and satisfying single player experience. 
Does the addition of co-op multiplayer missions impact the scope or quality of the single-player experience? 
  • No. A dedicated team from our recently formed BioWare Montreal studio has been focused on creating the multiplayer game features while the main game continued to be developed by the team in BioWare Edmonton. Both teams are integrated under the same leadership group that produced Mass Effect 1 and 2, led by Casey Hudson. BioWare remains dedicated to delivering one of the most amazing single-player campaigns gamers have ever experienced. 
How did developing multiplayer impact the single player game? 
  • BioWare is dedicated and focused on delivering an engaging, fun, and action-packed experience for Mass Effect 3, one that lives up the BioWare standard. To reach that level of quality, last year BioWare opened a studio in Montreal that is home to designers, programmers, engineers, and other developers. Both studios work together as partners, lead by the core Mass Effect team, unified in a single vision. Under the direction of Casey Hudson and other team veterans, both studios make contributions to both the single player and multiplayer modes in Mass Effect 3. Rest assured that no compromises were made to either of these modes in the development of Mass Effect 3. 
Which characters can I play in co-op multiplayer? Can I play as Commander Shepard? 
  • Commander Shepard’s part in the war will take place in the single-player campaign, as will that of other beloved characters in the franchise such as Garrus, Ashley, and Liara…these characters do not appear in the multiplayer missions. In multiplayer, players will create custom characters to fight on different and unique fronts in the war. This will include the ability to play as favorites like Turians, Krogans, Asari and more… each with their own unique set of abilities. 
What if I don’t like multiplayer – will my experience be negatively impacted? 
  • Mass Effect 3 is a complete, standalone game that will deliver a satisfying story experience, even if you choose not to try multiplayer. The Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War system and all of the individual components are meant to complement that amazing game and can be enjoyed on their own or as part of the Galaxy at War experience. 
What if I am not good at / do not like multiplayer? Will my readiness rating go down? 
  • ME3 is a story about a war against overwhelming force where the most you can hope for us survival. The more you do to fight that war, the more you can change that story into a more optimistic one. You can reach the highest levels of success in the single player experience alone, but Galaxy at War gives you alternative ways to get there. It’s about choice, and allowing players to find their own ways to stay immersed in the Mass Effect universe. 
Will you be adding any additional maps or modes through DLC? 
  • We can’t comment on specifics right now, but can confirm that we are planning on having DLC for Mass Effect 3. 
Do save games from ME1 or ME2 impact the co-op multiplayer missions? 
  • No. 
Do characters level up in co-op multiplayer? What is the progression system? 
  • Character progression, weapon upgrading and leveling up is present in co-op. We’ll release more information on this topic in the months leading up to launch. 
Is there more info about the other platforms of Mass Effect 3: Galaxy at War? 
  • We are not going into details about the other components of the Galaxy at War at this time except to say we are designing each to make sense for that platform. Each component will be able to affect a player’s “Galactic Readiness” level in a different way. Again, participation in any or all ME3:GaW elements is entirely optional.

It is quite clear that Bioware are trying to expand the number of ways to experience the massive story in Mass Effect without compromising other parts of the game. Because Mass Effect in the past has been a single player only game it will be interesting to see if players take it up or not. This is the gaming equivalent of creating a multiplayer choose your own adventure novel.

Another thought that springs to mind is how the lobby system works. Chris states above that this is meant to be enjoyed with friends. I myself play Mass Effect and I'm a huge fan of the series. With my main Shepard character (who looks like just the standard Shepard) I have made all the positive choices but I have friends that make all the negative choices and turn their characters into someone out of a Lethal Weapon movie. While you don't play as Shepard in multiplayer the choices made by him/her effect how the over-arching story pans out. So would my multiplayer character from the good Shepard universe be able to fight along side my mates badass multiplayer character?

Comment below and let me know what you think. Are you excited about ME3 multiplayer or do you think it will be a game breaker?


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From the vault: What I Think of Modern Warfare 2

While in the Call of duty swing I thought I'd share with you all my thoughts of Modern Warfare 2. Also it was the first review I ever wrote so it has sentimental value. That and this is the only article left that OzBoxLive has decided to credit me for.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (or just modern warfare 2) was the most hotly anticipated game of 2009. Its creators Infinity Ward and Activision said it was to deliver us the best first-person action game since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. But it wasn’t.

I don’t hate the game, but it could have been better. The story was a disappointment. The plot itself is good but it’s a major anti-climax. Very little actually happened. The story asks tons of questions and answers very little. It’s that I’m annoyed about. I was ticked off when I finished the campaign. Without going into detail, Modern Warfare 2 takes place five years after Call Of Duty 4 and it’s up to Soap and Task force 141 to fight a new bad guy called Makarov. If you can’t remember what happened in Call Of Duty 4 the first cut scene gives you a quick recap.

Game play is awesome! It’s classic Call of Duty 4 game play with a few additions. Modern Warfare 2 has new weapons like the ACR and the AUG HBAR. Attachments make a comeback and show up on all the weapons in a variety of combinations. Some of the new ones include a thermal sight and a heartbeat sensor.

The Vehicles are not just cover in Modern Warfare 2, in some missions you get to drive or be driven about the map. The rest of the missions are fun and are set in locations throughout the world including a shantytown in Brazil, the deserts of Afghanistan and Washington D.C.

The attention to detail in Modern Warfare 2 is insane. Modern Warfare 2 spares nothing, right down to the paintings in the White house. It’s that kind of detail that just makes the game so beautiful to play. The guns look good and the small shockwave that is made after firing a round is a nice touch.

The sound is now more realistic than any game made before it. The AK’s sound like AK’s and the voice acting is fantastic. The Russians sound like Russians and the British are British. Normally in American games the accents let them down because Americans can’t tell them apart but in Modern Warfare 2 they’ve nailed it. The whole game is given a musical score that rivals any Hollywood production. It’s amazing; I wish I could get it on my iPod.

The game is given a longer playtime by adding a total game completion bar. This means to get 100% completion you must finish the game on all difficulties, find all pieces of enemy intelligence that look like laptops, finish the Special ops challenges and achieve the highest rank in multiplayer which is a new feature for Modern Warfare 2.

It should be noted that there is a level where it asks if you want to skip the level due to the “disturbing content.” You are not penalized in achievements or game completion for skipping the mission but you do miss out on a part of the story. What you do in this level is shoot innocent civilians in a Russian airport.

Modern Warfare 2 has fantastic graphics and sound along with the classic Call of Duty game play we all love. It’s the story that lets the whole game down but if you take it with a pinch of salt you’ll have fun. Modern Warfare 2 is a game best played with friends over Xbox Live or in split screen.

6 out of 10

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Modern Warfare 3 achievement list revealed.

Modern Warfare 3 is out November 8 and for those of you itching to see what you need to do to get that gamerscore below is the complete list of achievements. Reading through the list there are achievements for both the single player campaign and Spec Ops mode but no multiplayer ones. Maybe Infinity ward are confident that players need no further encouragement to play online and I don't blame them.

*WARNING: SPOILER ALERT* The single player achievements go into quite a bit of detail about the games story line so if you want a spoiler free experience then just skip past the first 20 odd achievements on the list and read the rest.
  • Back in the Fight - 5G: Start the Single Player Campaign on any difficulty.
  • Too Big to Fail - 10G: Destroy the Jamming Tower. Complete "Black Tuesday" on any difficulty. 
  • Wet Work - 10G: Take back New York Harbor. Complete "Hunter Killer" on any difficulty. 
  • Carpe Diem- 10G: Escape the mountain safe house. Complete "Persona Non Grata" on any difficulty. 
  • Frequent Flyer - 10G: Defend the Russian President. Complete "Turbulence" on any difficulty.
  • Up to No Good - 10G: Infiltrate the village. Complete "Back on the Grid" on any difficulty. 
  • One Way Ticket - 10G: Make it to Westminster. Complete "Mind the Gap" on any difficulty. 
  • Welcome to WW3 - 10G: Save the US Vice President. Complete "Goalpost" on any difficulty. 
  • Sandstorm! - 10G: Assault the shipping company. Complete "Return to Sender" on any difficulty. 
  • Back Seat Driver - 10G: Track down Volk. Complete "Bag and Drag" on any difficulty. 
  • We'll Always Have Paris - 10G: Escape Paris with Volk. Complete "Iron Lady" on any difficulty. 
  • Vive la Révolution! - 10G: Reach the church. Complete "Eye of the Storm" on any difficulty. 
  • Requiem - 10G: Escape the city. Complete "Blood Brothers" on any difficulty. 
  • Storm the Castle - 10G: Discover Makarov's next move. Complete "Stronghold" on any difficulty. 
  • Bad First Date - 10G: Find the girl. Complete "Scorched Earth" on any difficulty.
  • Diamond in the Rough - 10G: Rescue the Russian President. Complete "Down the Rabbit Hole" on any difficulty.
  • The Big Apple - 25G: Complete "Black Tuesday" and "Hunter Killer" on Veteran difficulty. 
  • Out of the Frying Pan... - 25G: Complete "Persona Non Grata", "Turbulence", and "Back on the Grid" on Veteran difficulty. 
  • Payback - 25G: Complete "Mind the Gap", "Goalpost", and "Return to Sender" on Veteran difficulty. 
  • City of Lights - 25G: Complete "Bag and Drag" and "Iron Lady" on Veteran difficulty. 
  • The Darkest Hour - 25G: Complete "Eye of the Storm", "Blood Brothers", and "Stronghold" on Veteran difficulty. 
  • This is the End - 25G: Complete "Scorched Earth", "Down the Rabbit Hole", and "Dust to Dust" on Veteran difficulty. 
  • Who Dares Wins - 40G: Complete the campaign on any difficulty.
  • The Best of the Best - 100G: Complete the campaign on Hardened or Veteran difficulty.
  • Strike! - 20G: Kill 5 enemies with a single grenade in Single Player or Special Ops. 
  • Jack the Ripper - 20G: Melee 5 enemies in a row in Single Player or Special Ops.
  • Informant - 20G: Collect 22 Intel Items. 
  • Scout Leader - 35G: Collect 46 Intel Items.
  • This Is My Boomstick - 20G: Kill 30 enemies with the XM25 in "Black Tuesday."
  • What Goes Up... - 20G: Destroy all the choppers with only the UGV's grenade launcher in "Persona Non Grata."
  • For Whom the Shell Tolls - 20G: Destroy all targets during the mortar sequence with only 4 shells in "Back on the Grid."
  • Kill Box - 20G: Kill 20 enemies with the Chopper Gunner in a single run in "Return to Sender."
  • Danger Close - 20G: Take down a chopper with an AC-130 smoke grenade in "Bag and Drag."
  • Ménage à Trois - 20G: Destroy 3 tanks with a single 105mm shot in "Iron Lady.") 
  • Nein - 20G: Kill 9 enemies with A-10 strafing runs in "Scorched Earth."
  • 50/50 - 20G: Complete a Special Ops Mission Mode game with the same number of kills as your partner. 
  • Birdie - 20G: Kill 2 enemy helicopters without getting hit in a Special Ops Survival game.
  • Serrated Edge - 15: Finish a Juggernaut with a knife in Special Ops.
  • Arms Dealer - 20G: Buy all items from the Survival Weapon Armory. 
  • Danger Zone - 20G: Buy all items from the Survival Air Support Armory. 
  • Defense Spending - 20G: Buy all items from the Survival Equipment Armory.
  • Get Rich or Die Trying - 25G: Have $50,000 current balance in a Special Ops Survival game. 
  • I Live - 10G: Survive 1 wave in a Special Ops Survival game.
  • Survivor - 20G: Reach Wave 10 in each mission of Special Ops Survival mode.
  • Unstoppable - 40G: Reach Wave 15 in each mission of Special Ops Survival mode.
  • No Assistance Required - 20G: Complete a Special Ops Mission Mode game on Hardened or Veteran with no player getting downed.
  • Brag Rags - 10G: Earn 1 star in Special Ops Mission Mode.
  • Tactician - 20G: Earn 1 star in each mission of Special Ops Mission Mode.
  • Overachiever - 40G: Earn 48 stars in Special Ops Mission Mode.
  • Secret Achievement - 20G: Continue playing to unlock this secret achievement.
The modern warfare games (as much as I have bitched about them in the past ) I reckon are the best in the Call of Duty series. Then again the Modern Warfare games have had to compete with World at War and Black Ops. Which are good in the same way you praise a toddler for using the potty. So I'm really looking forward to MW3.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Retro Review: Wolfenstien 3D

I've been having so much fun playing all my old games that I thought I'd review another one. This time I've gone way back in gaming history to where it all began for the FPS genre. Before Battlefield, before Call of Duty, before Unreal and even before Doom, there was Wolfenstien 3D.

I've been playing Wolfenstien 3D since the early 90's. Back then I used to play it on my Dads thumping gaming PC that boasted 64 megabytes of RAM and had a huge 128 megabyte hard drive. It was the game that got me and many others into gaming. It's graphics were cutting edge with a fully 3D map to explore in first person. Unlike other 3D games at the time which had you merely rotate on the spot and just shifted images, Wolfenstien gave the player full fluid movement. Many things in FPS games today we take for granted, like cross hairs and reloading weapons, are non existent in this game. Adding further challenge even today. The game engine was all coded in hexadecimal format. If you're a programmer you will know that coding anything as sophisticated as this in hex would be a bitch. The engine is so solid the developers, I.D software and Apogee, held onto it and would be used to make great games like Doom and Doom 2.

Back in the day developers couldn't rely on a game selling well because it had shiny graphics or an awesome multiplayer experience. Games needed characters and rich plot lines that engaged you and kept you wanting more.Wolfenstien is the original world war two FPS. You play as B.J Blazkowicz, an american G.I who is captured by the Nazis and held in castle Wolfenstien. The first episode (which consisted of ten missions) is about B.J escaping from the castle and killing every Nazi in sight in a blaze of gunfire. Subsequent episodes had you fighting Nazi Zombies and even fighting Hitler himself. There are no cut scenes and the pieces of the story are revealed at the end of each episode and it is really well written. Although I'd like to have seen some more back story for B.J I can't say I.D software didn't accomplish what they set out to do.

There are two ways players can move about and shoot in Wolfenstien 3D. One was to move and shoot with just the keyboard. Which works well but I feel is restrictive. The other being to use the mouse to move and shoot and only use the keyboard for opening doors or switching weapons. I prefer to use the mouse because not only does it make taking out multiple enemies easier and quicker it also allows you to move as fast as you can move the mouse. While the keyboard movement was at a set speed, slow. Because there are no cross hairs aiming came down to just pointing the gun at the enemy. No head shots or blind fire here. Also while there is no cover system per-se enemies will tend to either charge straight at you or move in a pre-set pattern which usually had them moving from cover to cover. the easiest way to dodge bullets is to open a door blast away and then close it before the enemy fires back. Every gun used the same ammo type so conserving it was important. The instruction manual in the game states that you should fire in bursts. Seeing as it only takes three shots from any gun to kill the basic grunts (Brown shirts) who would then drop ammo this stops being an issue after level 1. While the game is focused on just charging about blasting everything it is possible in some levels to sneak up on someone or a group and launching a surprise attack. It doesn't make a difference as far as the game goes but if you feel like it or you're on low health this is a good thing to keep in mind. The only real problem with it is navigating the huge levels can be quite tricky because there is no in game map or navigation system and many rooms appear the same.

The graphics at the time set the standard for all FPS games to come after it. At the time many shooters were side scrolling platform games and Wolfenstien 3D showed that it was possible to make games with 3D universes to explore. However the game isn't truely 3D. The way it works is it generates a series of 2D images and either expands them or contracts them depending on how close you move to an object in game. If you open up the game in a sprite editor you'll see that all the sprites are smaller then they appear in the game. Even though this left the graphics blurry, they are so well drawn (All the sprites including the animation frames were drawn by hand on a computer by the way) that it made little difference to how the game played. Worth noting that the game is set in a Nazi castle so there are a million Swastikas and pictures of Hitler on the walls all throughout the game. So if you're offended by these images you might want to by the SNES or Atari Jaguar port of the game which has all of this removed.

Wolfenstien 3D was one of the first games to have voice actors. Each enemy you come across will utter some word in German before coming to attack and will say something else when they die. The in game music while all just a series of beeps and bops (Come to think of it, isn't that what techno music is?) it really set the mood for each episode. Also an 8-bit version of the Nazi party anthem 'Horst-Wessel-Lied' can be heard while in the games main menu. Considering having sound at all was a technological mervel it is amazing to see it not just there to show off but to add to the atmosphere of the game.

If you want to get a copy in its original, form I.D software is still selling it along with the prequel Spear of Destiny on its website for fifteen bucks. I think it's also available on Steam for around the same price. The free shareware version which is the first episode is also available here. It is a tiny download at only 30 megabytes and uses less than a megabyte of RAM it will not push the limits of even the weakest systems.

Every First person Shooter out there can trace its roots back to Wolfenstien 3D and without it would not even exist. Even 19 years after the games release it is still played and the mod community for it is still going strong. There are not many games that can claim this level of popularity. This game is a piece of gaming history and even if you hate first person shooters or you are a COD player through and through, if you are a gamer you must play this game.

9 and a half out of 10

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Retro review: Bushido Blade

For those of you who follow me on twitter you will have noticed this week lots of my tweets have had the hashtag #BushidoBlade in them. In that case you will know that I LOVE THIS GAME! Bushido Blade is a PS1 title brought out by Squaresoft. Yes, you read correctly, Bushido blade is one of the few titles Squaresoft made that didn't include the words Final Fantasy anywhere.

That being said I was quite surprised that I was able to finish the story modes of all 6 characters, on hard difficulty, in less than an hour. Then again Bushido Blade is a fighting game and not an RPG. Each characters story follows the same path with minor variations here and there. They all belong to a secret group of assassins that want to escape their life of doing assassin stuff for something that never really gets explained. Probably a quiet and peaceful existence or something like that. Only after reading the Wikipedia entry on the game did I realize that Bushido Blade is set in contemporary Japan. Then again that does explain the fight on a helipad up on a skyscraper.

Bushido Blade is very unforgiving, one slip up and you're gone. This would usually put me off a fighting game but for some reason as of the last few months I've been getting into them. Bushido Blade just struck a chord with me. Unlike most fighters there is no health bar and it's one hit kills, provided you hit the chest or neck. If you hit the legs or arms you can wound your opponent. Limiting how they move and the speed at which they attack. The controls are very simple to learn and you can start playing rather quickly. I had the controls worked out in 45 minutes and was fighting against my mates within an hour. From the basic controls which are very powerful and various in their own right one can expand ones fighting capabilities by performing combos. These combos not only differ from character to character but also change depending on what weapon you use as well. There are a variety of weapons from the traditional katana to a sledge hammer. The same weapon will be handled differently by two characters because some weapons are heaver than others and certain characters are better equipped to use heavier weapons. The trade off being that heaver weapons do more damage and their chance to hit ratio is high but at the cost of speed and agility. I don't know if it's because by PS2 controllers are old but the reaction time between imputing a combo and it happening on the screen is visible. Meaning that you really need to think one or two moves ahead to do well in this game.

Aside from a story mode there is one called slash mode where you basically have to carve your way through a hundred sword wielding maniacs. Unless you can do so without dying there is no reward for doing so. I spent many an afternoon trying and at about 30 kills or so I'd just miss or my timing would be slightly off and I'd get killed. Another mode is called POV mode. Instead of playing the game at the traditional side on view the game is played from a first person perspective. At first this is really confusing because the movement controls are mostly the same as normal. After a few minutes you get used to it and it makes the game more challenging. While on the subject of challenging this game is super easy. Even on hard difficulty the games A.I will not have you working a sweat to win. So anything that makes the game more challenging is a plus.

There is really no user interface to speak of. Then again you don't really need it. Without it the whole game looks very cinematic and makes the graphics seem better than they are. It's a PS1 title meaning the graphics are not great to begin with. Squaresoft working their 'we make games look pretty' magic on them has made it slightly better but it was never going to win any awards for them. Still reckon for that generation the Nintendo 64 had better graphics by a mile.

Although I have been playing the English version of the game all the voices are in Japanese with subtitles. Except for each characters opening cutscene which is in English. As well as the voice acting being Japanese the opening video for the game has all the credits (at least I think they're credits) in Japanese. Thankfully the menus are in English making menu navigation possible. The whole point of the game is to fight in the way of the Bushido but the music just makes you want to hack and slash like its God of War. But this issue with the music is only the western release of the game. My mate has the Japanese version and the music in that is much more fitting. It's all traditional Japanese music that is reminiscent of feudal Japan with samurai running about.

Multiplayer mode is why you play the rest of the game. So that you are good enough to fight your mates. This is a good game to have at a party with all your retro gaming mates. Fights here can last as little as 2 seconds or as much as 30 minutes. If you have a mate with a PS1, a copy of the game and a way to link two  PS1 consoles together you can actually LAN Bushido Blade. This is so that people can fight each other in POV mode. Haven't tried the LAN feature out so I don't know how good it is but I'm really looking forward to finding out. That is when I can find another western copy of the game.

This game is hard to find in shops so you're better off looking for it on eBay. The copy i have was only $5 AUD. Or if you have a PS3 you can get it on PSN really cheap. I had a lot of fun playing Bushido Blade and it is going to do so well into the future. This is a game that has so far stood the test of time and I think will last far into the future.

9 out of 10

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Retro review: Duke Nukem - Manhattan Project

These past few weeks I've been laid up in bed with the flu. Because of this I haven't been able to get any new (or old games) games to play and review. So I've been going through my collection and I stumbled across this. One of the last games made before the decade long development of Duke Nukem Forever.

The story is quite basic but that's expected when playing a Duke Nukem game. New York City is under threat by some cyborg nut-bag professor that has pig cops and kung-fu rats running amok and its up to Duke to save the world...again. To achieve this Duke has to travel across the big apple kicking arse and chewing bubble gum. Sersiously simple.

Duke Nukem - Manhattan Project brings back the classic side-scrolling platform gameplay were used to and brought it into the 21st century. With 3D (as in not 8-bit, none of this jumping out of the screen crap) graphics that really bring the arse kicking to life. However this does make navagating a bit tricky at times. DN-MP isn't as straight forward as press right arrow key, hold down fire key, win game. While much of the game will involve holding down either the left or right arrow keys, occasionally jumping to get to higher areas, at least once throughout a level   you will have to move along the Z-axis to access the next part of the level. An in game prompt will inform you when you've reached a place that requires this, when exploring the map these are not always obvious. I remember passing several of these from time to time and getting stuck in a level for ages while I retraced my steps. To reach the end of a level you'll need to find a keycard hidden somewhere in that level. Its worth going to the exit without a one to hear the Duke talk about his hatred for motherfu*#%ng keycards. The game gets a little repetitive as much of it is just looking around for the keycard then exiting the level. While to try and distract you from this apparent truth DN-MP has you searching for scantly clad women strapped to nuclear devices

There are a variety of weapons to be picked up throughout the game. But because most of them use the same type of ammo (how shotguns can fire the same type of ammunition as a light machine gun I'll never know) you'll end up sticking with the shotgun as it wastes the least ammo. Only once in the game did I need to change weapons to the RPG and that was to blast down a door I couldn't reach with pipe bombs.

As far as platform games go, even by today's standards, the graphics still hold up. It's really smooth up close but as soon as you catch a glimpse of the background you can really see how old the game is. Its the classic stretched out image tiled with an obvious cut line. Remembering this game came out in 2002, draw distances were still a really fancy piece of technology that nobody could afford and just made games look like they were set in places that were really foggy.

Music was very standard for a Duke Nukem title. Heavy metal music interspersed with Heavy metal. Not that this is a complaint. It gets you in the mood for arse kicking. The music does what it needs to do. Not a distraction but just blends in and when it needs to will make itself apparent. But most of the time there will be too much gun fire to hear it anyway.

At the end of the day I finished the game in an afternoon and if Duke Nukem forever pissed you off too much and you can't find your copy of Duke Nukem 3D this one is good for a few hours of entertainment. But as fun as DN-MP is it is quite apparant this was the beginning of the end for the Duke. For us console fans (A.K.A real gamers) it is available on Xbox Live arcade.

6 out of 10

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

From the vault: Halo reach review.

This is a review I wrote for OzBoxLive ages ago but seeing as though they have decided to no longer credit me for the work I'm going to post it here. Expect more of these to come.

The game we have been devoting our lives to has released the next installment to the Halo universe… Halo: Reach.

If you have been living under a rock and are wondering what Halo: Reach is all about here is a quick run down of the story - you are Noble 6, a Spartan III who has been brought in to replace one of Noble team’s fallen. Noble team are a group of Spartan III’s (created after the legendary Spartan II of the Halo series, Master Chief) who are the best of the best. No mission is too dangerous or too great for these artists of death. They are on the planet Reach (the crown jewel of the UNSC’s defensive fortifications) fighting the Covenant for every square centimeter of the planet when it was turned to glass by Covenant ships above. The fate of Reach has been known since the first Halo, and now we can relive those famous final days. The way the story is told is great, you really get to know the characters in the short amount of time you have and develop a bond with them, which is so uncommon in games these days.

General gameplay is really good, as expected from previous Halo games. New strategies will need to be formed with players able to fly down or sneak up on an opponent. The controls are different from Halo 3 and as a result the default settings can be very confusing at first. If you want a similar feel to Halo 3 the best you can get is the bumper jumper configuration. I wished there was a custom configuration setting that you can change the controls to suit like in PC games. Halo Reach is made for teams - if you go lone wolf you'll get blown to smithereens even on normal difficulty. Especially with four player co-op there's no need to run out and do it all yourself.

Multiplayer is great. In multiplayer all the individual areas of a map have been given names so if you get pinned down you can call out where you are and everyone knows. This is important because it makes the location names universal and allows for players who don't normally play together or have just met can stand a chance against teams that train and play together. When you first enter the lobby you and your fellow players are given a choice of three maps and game types to vote on playing next. Once you have voted the map begins to load, which is super fast if not sometimes instant. When you enter the game you are given the choice of what abilities you want to spawn with. Weapons wise you can spawn with the standard assault rifle and pistol or through the options menu you can change these options. If you're familiar with the Call of Duty “custom classes” set-up you’ll know the gist of these options. Reach is mate-friendly if you want to play with your friends online the active roster shows you which friends are playing reach and what they are doing. In Halo 3 you had to tell them to quit the game and enter a lobby with you before you start matchmaking, now you can enter the lobby your mates are in and if they are in a game you can just wait in the lobby until it finishes.

New gametypes have been introduced. Along with the ones we know and love there are now four more to play with. “Headhunter” is Slayer with the focus on surviving, but when you make a kill flaming skulls scatter about the body, and when collected these are redeemed for points which make up the overall score for the round. Obviously, the more skulls you have before you redeem the more of a target you are to other players. “Stockpile” is a fancy version of capture the flag. On any given map there are flags scattered throughout, each team must collect these flags and bring them back to their base and guard them until the collection timer hits zero and the flags respawn at their previous locations. Generator Defense is an attack and defend type game. The attackers are the Elites and their job is to destroy the generators scattered about the map and the Spartans are to defend the generators. Finally we have invasion, the ultimate team slayer game type. Its Spartans vs. Elites in an objective based match designed for the map Boneyard. The Elites are the attackers and their job is to get from one end of the map to a covenant ship on the other. The Spartans are the defenders and are to prevent the Elites from getting to the ship at all costs. As the Elites get closer and closer to the objective each team can respawn with more powerful weapons. Other maps worth mentioning are Swordbase which is designed with the jetpack in mind and Power house which is a small open map made for general slayer type games.

Firefight makes a comeback and it is now possible to get the achievements for it. Because you can still get the achievements with invincibility turned on it stops being a matter of skill to get the achievement it’s a matter of endurance. It will take around three and a half hours to get the million point achievement on your own, and with mates it’s around an hour and a half. Forge mode in Reach is a significant improvement on the Forge set-up in Halo 3. No more having to do tricky stuff to make objects float and new objects mean that creating maps is easier. A new object that deserves a mention is the golf objects – you get a golf ball, mound and hole to aim for and a golf club which is gravity hammer in disguise. All the maps from multiplayer can be edited and a new map called forge world can be opened complete empty of objects that is a good place for up and coming map makers to muck around. Who knows… we may see the next PGA pro-golf tour stop over on Reach!!

Weapons have been given both a visual touch-up as well as some improvements. For starters all the weapons from Halo 3, except the battle rifle, make a return with upgrades to their accuracy and rate of fire as well as a change of appearance. Some new guns include the Designated Marksmen Rifle (or DMR for short), which is a medium-long range semiautomatic rifle that is a cross between the battle rifle and the sniper rifle, and the Needle Rifle which is the Covenant equivalent of the DMR, as usual with the supercombine ability of Needler weapons. This time around deployable tools are out and abilities are in. In single player odds are you will start with sprint but in multiplayer you can choose abilities before you spawn and give you an advantage in the battlefield. These include a jetpack that allows you to fly about the map, “camouflage” allows you to hide and strike from the shadows (no more having to pick it up in game!!) and “armour lock” which, when activated, makes you invincible but at the cost of movement, though people tend to hang back and once your abilities energy runs out one well thrown grenade will have you pushing daises. Weapon recoil is okay with the exception of the DMR. The DMR is designed to be fired slowly at long range. So if you want that headshot you can't mash the trigger. To tell the amount of recoil on a weapon the crosshair expands as you fire and contracts when not.

When you first start Reach you will have to create your character Noble 6. Given you have just started the game there is not a lot you can customize and with a 5000 credit starting budget there is even less. However the amount of customization is fantastic from helmets to chest plates, shoulder pads wrist guards and holsters. You can even change the animation of how you die and your voice. Maybe its because I spent most of my credits on the ODST helmet but some of the stuff costs an awful lot. Spartan armour is obviously not cheap!! When you see the main menu you can tell Bungie has spared no expense to detail. The background is very beautiful, it shows the planet Reach and the heaps of scrap that the Covenant have made of Reaches ships and defensive platforms.

In-game graphics are reminiscent of Halo 2 - a bit dirty and grainy, but this adds to the apocalyptic feel of the game compared to Halo 3 which was really clean and shiny. I mentioned earlier that the weapons have been given a cosmetic upgrade. They all look good except the assault rifle, I liked the look of the original one and if it isn't broken don't fix it. The HUD is better, it is a lot clearer and easy to read – obviously that’s really important when you've got bullets whizzing about your head!!

All the gun sounds have been redone to sound more like the real world guns they resemble. If you think about it, it seems a little silly that the game is set 500 years from now, yet you would think that guns may sound a little different in the future. The music keeps up with the standard that the series has set itself over the last decade and is not a distraction when the action starts and is there when it's supposed to.

I must say that for me personally Reach does not live up to all the hype. Don't get me wrong as it's still a great game but don't believe all the hype, just take the game with a pinch of salt and you'll have fun. But at the end of the day it looks like Halo 3 with everything wrong with it fixed. Good time guaranteed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Details about Battlefield 3 released

This week EA has released a fact sheet containing what is going to appear within the game. Below is the fact sheet highlighting some of the details about what weapons, vehicles and maps will appear in the game. I'd speculate more on it but I have the flu and reading is giving me a headache at the moment. But comment below and tell me how excited are you for Battlefield 3 and what features are you looking forward to appearing in game?

Play Your Way In the Biggest Battlefield Ever! From city streets to open rural landscapes, Battlefield 3 offers unparalleled depth and gameplay variety. Classic ‘Rush’ and ‘Conquest’ modes are complemented by newly introduced ‘Team Death Match’ for an instant action fix.

Extensive Co-op Campaign: Unique maps and missions are available for players to tackle online with a friend, using co-op specific gameplay features. Co-op missions tie into the single player story.

Powerful Social Features in Battlelog: Players will never go into battle alone thanks to the powerful new community features of Battlelog. Players can build their platoon, communicate with other gamers, and compare their multiplayer prowess with friends and foes alike. Battlelog is free on all platforms.

Frostbite 2-Enabled Destruction: Frostbite 2 creates a whole new level of life-like destruction. Enhanced large and small scale destruction now has a tactical purpose. Chip away at cover, blow holes in walls, deform the terrain, and bring down entire building façades on enemies.
Keep reading to see the rest of the Battlefield 3 multiplayer fact sheet.

Ultimate Vehicle Warfare: The signature Battlefield vehicle warfare experience is even richer and more rewarding. Damaged vehicles can now retreat or be defended until they automatically regain armor, while disabled vehicles become static gun platforms to cover players doing repairs.

Accessible Team-Play: Battlefield 3 offers fine-tuned team-play possibilities and accessibility for newcomers. Team-play is key for players to reach dominance on the battlefield.

Personalized Dog Tags: Players can express their individuality with their own dog tag that gets displayed to defeated enemies. Players choose a design with a dynamically tracked in-game stat that expresses their personality and play-style.

The Physical Battlefield: Use the environment to your advantage. Deploy your machine gun bipods on any mountable surface for greater accuracy. Claim the dog tag of enemies via skillful knife takedowns. Lay down suppressive fire to limit the combat capabilities of enemies.

Enhanced Persistence: There is always a new rank or reward to unlock in Battlefield 3. The depth and vast range of unlockable weapons, vehicles, upgrades, and tools will keep Battlefield 3 players occupied for years to come.



9 total including:
Caspian Border
Operation Métro

Conquest 64 (PC only)
Team Deathmatch
Squad Deathmatch
Squad Rush

 There will be close to 100 ribbons and medals in BF3
More than 350 personalized dogtags including:
Rush Ribbon
Recon Service Star
40mm Master
BF2 Veteran

Battlefield 3 will be released on October 25, 2011.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Has Team Fortress 2 changed since becoming free to play?

Recently the popular FPS from Valve Team Fortress 2 has been made free to play on Steam. This of course has increased the number of players on its servers and made it easier to find a game but is the game better off for it?

For Valve making the game free means that their revenue source for TF2 will be from people making in game purchases of weapon sets or clothing. While many of these items are cheap (some as low as 50 cents) the large increase of people will mean that Valve's profit margins will not take a hit. The game before going free had been in a steady decline in terms of its player base. more or less because players who had bought the game were growing tired of it and had moved onto other games.

Team Fortress 2 will be four years old in october, its had a good run and for any game to last this long and still be popular is quite an achievement. Usually at about this time in a games life the developer would be well into making the next game in the series or will slowly stop supporting the game on their servers. So to see it go free to play tells us that Valve love the game but given that there have been no announcements as to a Team Fortress 3 it seems that the company are trying to milk TF2 for all its got. But to extend the life of a game does not make it better.

Over the past week (as many of you know) I've been asking you readers what you think of TF2 going free and if it has made the game better or worse. The responce I got was massive. I was so surprised at how many people had messaged me on facebook and Google+, sent me a Dm on twitter or emailed me with your thoughts on this game. Before even reading them this told me a lot. Team Fortress is popular and while its player base was shrinking the amount of people still playing is massive. After reading every single message, DM and email it seems the community are divided in their feelings.

Some people hate it because it means more servers are full and that while having one new player on the team was okay, having an entire team of them is just plain annoying. Also one reader pointed out that hackers can create accounts at no cost and make the game unenjoyable for other players.

On the other hand not every person with a free account is terrible at the game or wishes to disrupt it. It has increased the player base significantly meaning that there are little or no empty servers at any time of the day or night. Many seasoned players are just playing on servers that don't have any new players in them so the game becoming free has made no difference at all. One reader who goes by the name Amyler on steam had decided that not helping noobs was counter productive and was teaching them how to play:

"There is fun to be had in teaching people how to be better at the game. I've taught plenty of Pyro's to airblast burning allies, incoming rockets and planted stickybombs. I've taught medic's when to ubercharge and what loadout to use for matchtypes. I've taught Snipers to stop running into the front lines with the fucking uzi. Seeing people learn from what you tell them and get better is more entertaining then simply dominating a clueless opponent."

So it seems that if you're a hardcore player, you wont notice the influx of free players because odds are they play with other hardcores on their own servers or you help the noobs and create a community that has people help each other.

In my opinion making TF2 going free has given life to a dying game. It has allowed people who weren't sure if they wanted it or not a risk free chance to find out if they like it or not. Plus because of how balanced the class system is (provided you don't use community built weapons) this game could be used in e-sports tournaments as an entry level game.

Once again I'd like to thank my readers for sending me your opinions. Still if you want to weigh in on this debate feel free to comment below and tell me. Do you think that making Team Fortress 2 free has made it better or worse?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sticking up for the ODST

Halo 3 ODST copped a pretty bad wrap because of its crippling lack of PvP multiplayer and that firefight mode lacked depth. Some have even said that the one thing the game has, its storyline, was shocking. I reckon it is the best game in the series after Halo 1.

Lets look at its weakest point. The lack of a more traditional multiplayer. It appears to me that Bungie were trying something new. Instead of having people trying to kill each other you would have people work together toward a common goal. Yeah its a good way of uniting the community but in reality its just the campaign without any discernable plot besides the Earth is being invaded by aliens and your job is to holdout as long as you can. Oh wait, that is the storyline. A developer can never fully satisfy the whole community with a sequel but in order to make future games better sometimes you've got to make mistakes. Still, firefight mode made it into Halo Reach and really complemented Halos traditional deathmatch.

The selling point of Halo ODST was the campaign. It was a simple story that had you as an ODST exploring New Mombasa to discover what had happened to the rest of your squad. While the exploration between levels felt like the game buying itself time it did mean you could play the game in any order you wanted to. That being said the side story of the girl who would argue with the superintendent (the A.I for the city. Yes she was arguing with the city itself) did inspire me to explore the city and discover all its secrets.

Without a doubt the music in this game is the best by a mile. The smooth jazz gave the whole game a noir feel set in a sci-fi universe. Plus it added to the game and didn't distract you from it. I'm a huge jazz fan so to see it appear in a game automatically earns it points because it is a genre hardly used by games but one that has a lot to offer them.

All in all the game put the superman like powers of master chief aside and gave players a challenge. One that I had not seen since Halo 1. For a game that was originally intended to be an add on to Halo 3 it has done incredibly well.

Till next week, peace. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

San Andreas goes HD

I don't normally talk about mods for games mostly because there are so many and most either make the game look better or add silly stuff into the game. But this one peaked my interest.

A group of fans have ported the Rockstar classic Grand Theft Auto San Andreas into the GTA 4 engine. It's a total conversion bringing everything including missions, vehicles, collectibles and all the radio stations into the latest rendition of the series.
These guys have put a lot of work into making San Andreas HD. All the graphics have been brought to the cutting edge for the latest generation of computers. While the walking and running controls in GTA 4 are terrible I'm really exicted at seeing Los Santos with brushed up graphics.

People who loved the game back in the day will enjoy it and new players will love it. If you are new I recommend getting the original game and playing that to truly experience the game in all its glory. You can pick up a copy for as little as $20 on Steam.

The mod is only available for the PC version of the game. Hopefully Rockstar see it and re-make San Andreas for modern consoles *HINT HINT!*

The original is my all time favorite GTA game and its good to see modders really putting themselves out there. So far the Mod is in beta and you can download it for free from their website.

Comment below and tell me, What's your favorite mod and why?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Australia is ready

Brendan O'Connor the minister for home affairs announced that following last weeks SCAG (Standing Committee of Attorneys-General) meeting in Canberra an R18+ rating (Restricted to persons over 18) for video games will be introduced in the coming months. After years of debate amongst both state and federal politicians it will finally happen. The hearing has come with great reception to Australian gamers all over the country.

The announcement has not come without controversy. Following the terrorist attacks in Norway a few days ago where so far 96 people have lost their lives, many of which are children, debate has flared to if violent video games should be banned outright. Brendan O'Connor has said that this terrible event will not change the decision.

What this means is that games once refused classification, such as Mortal Kombat 9, will now have a good chance at being given an R18+ classification. Games once modified to meet the previous highest rating of MA15+ (restricted to persons over 15 with adult supervision) may be able to be reclassified with the adults only rating in its unmodified form. The most prominent being the Grand Theft Auto series which is known for its strong violence and sexual content.

The legislation should go through by the end of the year. I’m looking forward to seeing kids try and get their hands on the latest Grand Theft Auto or Modern Warfare 3 and getting asked for ID just to see how they talk their way out of it.

Till next week,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CGBC wrap up

After finally recovering from last week I'm now ready to tell you all how awesome last week was.

The Computer Games Boot Camp has finished for another year. It was a week of celebrating gaming culture, playing games, winning consoles and hearing almost 2000 people chant the meme "Dental plan, Lisa needs braces." It has been described as the E3 of the southern hemisphere. It certainly is the biggest gaming event in the southern hemisphere, however we'll have to wait and see if EB expo coming up in October will beat it.

The Australian qualifying leg of the Call of Duty tournament was a long and brutal tournament with the winners being ArchaicMSi who will be flown out to L.A in September to play at the Call of Duty XP million dollar tournament. It was some of the best playing I've ever seen and I'm certain that ArchaicMSi will represent Australia well this September. Come on Aussies put your support behind our team.

Aside from all the modern games like Halo and COD I was really surprised at how popular the retro games were. In particular Power Stone 2 on the Dreamcast and Baku Baku on the Sega Saturn. Although these are really great games that deserve to be ported to more modern consoles especially Power Stone 2. That is one addictive game both to play and watch. It's basically all the fun bits of Super Smash Bro's but without all the complexity. 

CGBC is about more than just tournaments, memes and free stuff (although all that is really cool) people from all across the gaming industry came down and gave presentations on a range of topics. One worth pointing out is Damian Scotts' talk on how to make use of the Unreal engine for machinima and his up coming movie based on the story of Darth Bane from Star wars. Another would be Sony's presentation on the Playstation Vita and what it can do. I tell you what I want one after seeing what it has to offer (plus virtual pool looked really cool). 

I'm really looking forward to next year. If you are interested in attending check out the CGBC website and register for CGBC 2012.

Till next week,


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CGBC is on (sorry for not saying more)

I was going to write about how we're at the tail end of CGBC 2011 and how awesome it has been so far but it's just because of that I can't. I am absolutely knackered and I've been up late working along with my good friends at Level 3 to make it awesome.

So I'm just going to say sorry for no post or even some back up news but I promise that next weeks post will have the lot. But in the mean time feel free to watch all the action live online here.

Till next week I'm gonna get some sleep,


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CGBC is back

The Computer Games Boot Camp is on again. I'm really looking forward to attending this epic event. Those who don't know about it CGBC is a week long event running July 9-15 for high-school students over 15. It's held at Monash universities Clayton campus in Melbourne. The space is huge and has had to expand every year because of how popular it is. Not quite as big as E3 but almost. Close to 2000 people are booked to be there this year. I personally have attended this event since the first one back in 2009 and it has grown and really become the biggest gaming event in Australia.

The week consists of speeches from some of Australia's big biggest names in gaming, tournaments for a wide variety of games, workshops,
competitions and more prizes get given away then there are people to accept them. Thermaltake, IAH Games, Autodesk, Sony and Adobe just to name a few will be there to give talks and give away some prizes.

Exclusive to CGBC will be the Australian leg of the Call of Duty tournament. The winning team will qualify to go on to LA to play in the finals for a chance at one million dollars USD. The tournament is open to any team of four with all its members over the age of 18. Details are still being announced regarding the tournament so stay tuned for more information as it comes to hand.
Registrations are still open so feel free to register your interest now Here but the event starts this Friday so do it fast. Keep up with all of the latest news from the event you can join the conversation on facebook. If you can't attend but you still want to see whats going on Level 3 are doing an all day live stream of the event from start to finish. So you wont miss a thing. Read more about the live stream here.
I hope to see you there and if you see me (which wont be hard my face is the logo for this site) feel free to come up and say hello.
Till next week, peace.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I think of Brink (Hey that rhymes)

Brink is one of those games I had my doubts about. Because of its unique seamless blend of singleplayer and multiplayer. I wasn't sure if it would work. But it does and it works so very well. All the doubts I had before I played Brink are now gone.

Brink at first appears to have a rather straight forward storyline. A civil war on a floating city called the Ark built as a way to save humanity from extinction due to global warming and rising sea waters. There are two sides to this fight. Ark security who are fighting to maintain control of the Ark. And there's the Resistance who are trying to get off the Ark and contact what's left of the outside world. Each side has its own storyline that will crossover with the other. Each campaign comes to its own different end and afterwards there are some bonus 'what-if' spin off missions you can do. These missions are usually levels in the campaign that you play from the opposing side.  Usually in games that allow you to choose sides by the end of it you have a good idea which side you should be on. Even after playing through both campaigns I still don't know which side to be on. This isn't a bad thing. Brink just gives you all the facts and allows you to make up your own mind on what you think is right.

While I have ranted on a bit about the story don't let that scare you. Every cutscene can be skipped and while it does set up the gameplay it doesn't get in the way of it. The major parts of the story are told in the campaigns but if you want the whole picture you're going to have to unlock all the audio tapes. Similar to the holotapes in Fallout 3 audio tapes give you an insight into what the major players on the Ark are thinking. So if you're like me and love a game with a good storyline this gives Brink a lot of replay value.

The whole focus of the game is how it plays. I've heard people say it's Mirrors edge with guns. This isn't entirely true. Mirrors edge focused on movement and discouraged you from using guns whereas Brink puts its focus on combat. It doesn't matter what kind of gun you have movement is still the same. Character customization however does have an effect on movement but there's a fair trade off. When you customize your character you have the choice of three body types: light, medium or heavy. The light body type can move the fastest and jump higher than the other two but it also has the least health making them easy to take down. In contrast the heavy body type is the slowest and least agile but has the most health and is the only body type that can carry heavy weapons. The medium body type has a good mix of health and finesse and is a perfect starting point for new players. Depending on your own playstyle you will discover what works for you. The rest of the customization options for your character are purely cosmetic so unleash your inner 5 year old and play dress up. Like Rainbow six Vegas you gain XP both offline and online. As you level up you'll unlock more outfits and earn ability points to upgrade your characters skills. Like Team fortress 2 skills are divided into classes: Soldier,Engineer, Medic and Operative. There are universal skills that can be purchased and used no matter what class you choose but to get the really cool stuff you need to decide which set of cool stuff you want.

Weapon customization is a bit disappointing but still better than almost any other game. What I do like is that weapon add-ons can all be unlocked before you start either campaign. They can only be unlocked through challenge missions. Challenge missions are separate missions from the campaigns and I recommend you try them first. Not only will you unlock cool doodads for your guns but they also teach you how to play Brink.

Objectives are very flexible. Each level has a list of objectives that your team has to complete. These range from defending a certain spot, blowing up something to repairing or building defenses. The interesting thing is that you can complete these objectives in any order. There’s one main objective and the rest are secondary to it. Depending on how you want to play will determine which objective you'll want to do. As long as you're doing something you will be helping out your team. This means that those people who prefer to be lone wolves won't make it any harder for team players or people new to the game. All objectives are class specific. This means in order to win a game you can't all go engineer and spam place turrets and mines everywhere.

Every level is unlocked right out of the box. This is because there is no separate multiplayer section of the game. Every level can be played either online or offline or you can open up your game and let people jump in whenever they like. I recommend for the first playthrough of the game you play it in order and leave the what-if missions till last. This is definitely a game that you'll want to play with friends or other people. Maybe it's just because I'm terrible at shooters but the A.I on your team is terrible and the opposing teams A.I seems to have been programmed by a super genius.

The soundtrack is small but really good. The songs don't get in the way of the rest of the game and it really sets the tone for what brink is all about. Probably not going to make any one's soundtrack to buy list though.

The graphics really convey the point that you're in a distopyian futuristic society. You really get the sense of how small and fragile the Ark is. In terms of cutting edge though it's fairly average. It can be a bit rough in some areas and maybe its just me but the grenades just don't look quite right.  

I had great fun playing this game. It was good to play a game that is so flexible and that just gets to the core of what an FPS is and gets out of the way and lets you do what you want.

8 out of 10