Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Bioshock Infinite

September 24, 2010

bioshock inf

So here is the first taste of 2k’s latest effort Bioshock Infinite. The game is certainly shaping up to be the spectacular, vertigo-inducing cyberpunk extravaganza Ken Levine had promised last month. You might want to have an air sickness bag at the ready.

Bioshock Infinite will be the third instalment of the hugely successful franchise and the first to depart from the claustrophobic metropolis of Rapture. Favouring a more grandiose affair; the cyberpunk inspired city of Colombia will be your backdrop –gliding through the skies as a both a symbol of American opulence and technological dominance. The game is set in 1912, fifty years prior to the events of the first two games. Players with take on the role of one Booker DeWitt, professional wrestler? No, a former Pinkerton agent now known as a “fixer” sent to Columbia to rescue Elizabeth.

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I remain intrigued by the project and while the footage does look incredible. One thing I cannot get my head around is the release date. The game is scheduled for release sometime in 2012. Which begs the question, can the hype be sustained for that long?

We’ll see….

Dré

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Red Dead Redemption

May 20, 2010

red dead

This game has been getting some rather exceptional scores lately and its becoming more and more apparent as to why. Rockstar Games’ latest epic, released Tuesday for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in North America and tomorrow in Europe, takes the open-world formula that has proven so well for the Grand Theft Auto franchise and applies it to a different place and time. Forget the Infernus’, the bowling and wanted levels. Now horses are the mode of transport, cards and dice are the games of choice and avoiding bounties will be your main concern in the Old West.

Here’s the trailer:

Rockstar has done a good splendid job transplanting the familiar Grand Theft Auto aesthetic into a world devoid of technology, grid systems and bustling street corners. Red Dead Redemption’s charm threatens to draw me back into open-world epics, although I’d would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated by this prospect.

In an age where single-player games are increasingly being streamlined down to a succinct 5 hours or so, Rockstar’s open-world experiences are becoming increasingly rare — and difficult to devote so much time to.

Here’s an interesting two part video giving you the run down on some of unique features in the game.

Life in the West: Part 1

Life in the West: Part 2

Image courtesy of Rockstar Games
Red Dead Redemption, out 21st May on PS3 and Xbox 360

Dré

Little Big Planet 2 – New Tools, New Rules.

May 12, 2010

MM

Co-Founder of Media Molecule Alex Evans discusses the new tools and features in Little Big Planet 2.

If you missed our post on Play, Create, Share click here. Or you could just scroll down a bit you lazy so and so..


Video Courtesy of Gametrailers

Dré

Play, Create, Share

May 11, 2010

play create share

Play, Create, Share is the future of video game content.

sack boy

This was the Sony’s statement to its competitors nearly two years ago. Three words with endless possibilities, awash with post-modern vector power points and encapsulated within its flagship community-based video games. The term was created by Sony for its exclusive titles. Titles that rely heavily upon user-created content which can be uploaded and distributed over the PlayStation Network. Little Big Planet was the first release to fall within the Play, Create, Share bracket and despite initial teething issues it has proved to be a true success story in both micro transaction and community-based products.

After a year of speculation, Sack Boys worldwide popped, slapped and guffawed as Media Molecule announced there would be another Little Big Planet offering. Sony have alluded to creation on a grander scale than the first game. The trailer hints at this with a wider level of customisation with digital puppets, intelligently design characters, narrative arcs and hybrid genres all being demonstrated within the revamped engine.

Here’s the trailer (Did Nathan Barley do the score?):

The biggest concern with a sequel so heavily reliant upon its players content is that a new release would make everything previously created on the original LBP redundant. Media Molecule were keen to dispel this rumour by confirming that all the levels from the first game would be incorporated and fully compatible with Little Big Planet 2.

sack boy mod nation

Great news for content junkies but the gripe many have with the original release is the constant removal of content that has even the faintest nostalgic wink to a red plumber or blue hedgehog. Both Sony and MM demonstrated draconian copyright enforcement that would make Viacom blush. Let’s just hope that they won’t be too strict this time around when it comes to punishing the hard working individuals that served as stanchions for the community. People spent hours upon hours meticulously trying to rehash their favourite levels from classic franchises only to have them erased within thirty minutes for having the audacity to reference a mushroom.

mario lbp

The success of Play, Create, Share will be dependant on Sony’s communication with competitors rather than ambiguous statements of intent. Little Big Planet did exceptionally well considering its restrictions but did not fully live up to the original claims it made. ModNation Racers will arrive in two weeks time; the second game in the Play, Create, Share banner with just as bold claims.

It looks astounding what this game could and should be capable of. An intuitive and easily customisable sandbox that will allow the player easy access to a range of physics tools to create kart levels with both the fun and freneticism of Mario Kart and aesthetic horse power of the Playstation.

modnation

With two strong titles on the horizon Play, Create, Share appears better equipped this year. I shall remain optimistic as the framework is certainly admirable. If the press conferences’ claims turn out to be accurate this time it will signify a new era in video game console development and could usher in a new way we experience video games, training a generation of aspiring level designers, mappers and skinners in the process. Just to reiterate, brokering will be key in opening the door to true ubiquitous, uninhibited content. Look no further than Spotify for proof of the pudding – a handshake and discussion goes a long way.

ModNation Racers, scheduled for release on the 21st May 2010 on Playstation 3 and PSP
Little Big Planet 2, expected Winter 2010

Dré

Marvel vs. Capcom 3

April 22, 2010

capcom logo

After a decade of anticipation, yesterday Capcom officially announced the third installment of the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise. It will the first in the series to use three-dimensional graphics; similar to that of Street Fighter IV.

With Super Street Fighter IV due later this month, it appears we may be heading back to the good old days when an annual Capcom beat ’em up left egos bruised, fingers sore and friendships broken.

dhalsim

The MvC team will be using Capcom’s MT Framework engine. The same engine seen in Resident Evil 5 and the eagerly anticipated Lost Planet 2. Although this teaser suggests a cel-shaded, comic book aesthetic.

Expect Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 on shelves Spring 2011.

Here’s the teaser:

Interview with producer Ryouta Niizuma.

Video courtesy of Gamespot

Dré

iPad’s first ad

March 8, 2010

Yeah I don’t really buy into the hype either, but as it’s THE gadget of 2010 so far I suppose it should be included here at the Fold. First aired during the 2010 Oscars, try watching this Youtube vid on one… oh. Ah well, never mind, I’ll send it you on a USB stick… oh.

Goddamn you Steve.

James

Heavy Rain – A Breath of Fresh Air

January 19, 2010

heavy cry

Every so often, a game turns up with the intention of redefining the industry. It boldly states its claims to the public on a plinth of pretension, outlines its methods of said redefinition and is subsequently shot in the face, teabagged and pick-pocketed of its innovations. Sadly, for the most part, the majority of gamers would quite happily remain on a strict diet of bullet ballistics and limb dismemberment.

The latest game to stake this claim is Heavy Rain – here’s what its saying.

In Heavy Rain you are in control of four everyday people with no connections, thrown into extraordinary circumstances (stay with me). You control an architect (father of two), a rotund private detective, a FBI profiler with C.S.I credentials, and a female journalist. The bridge of these characters being supported by an elusive serial killer named the Origami Killer. Sounds fun, but where is this innovation you speak of? It’s developers Quantic Dream have stated that the innovation lies in its variations. You see, if or when one our your protagonists dies, the story continues, the narrative evolves and the climax is tweaked.

staircase

This game is all about the sequencing. What order you press the buttons, dictate the events on screen. Critics have alluded to the game being one drawn out quick time event, while others believe this could introduce the move towards instinctual free flowing narratives, based on the players own decisions, rather than the linear path with which the majority of games follow. Certainly, the Wii’s waggling dominance over the last four years coupled with Sony and Microsoft’s iterations would suggest this.

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The aim is to integrate the player into the characters. The way it has been presented thus far would suggest that they are on the right track. The end result, if executed correctly could be monumental to the industry. Emotional attachment in a video game. Let me repeat, emotional attachment in a video game (and don’t give me the horrible Final Fantasy counterpoint, those tears were on wasted youth, nothing more). If this is to be achieved then the player must never feel like they are not affecting the events on screen (like say, Final Fantasy, sorry to keep going on but they are not games, just lengthened bloody tech demo’s).

pudge

As Infinity Ward demonstrated recently with its ‘No Russian’ level in Modern Warfare 2, it is difficult, if not impossible to portray emotional, social themes in a video game effectively. I would argue the failure on their part was on the character impotence within that particular situation. Perhaps Quantic Dream can achieve the impossible.

I’m seeing this game being a huge critical success for its scope alone, but as for the commercial success, I shall remain sceptical. Heavy Rain states the understated by going back to basics. Its focus on quick-time events and simplistic controls may not appear progressive at first glance, but it falls in line with David Cage’s (QD, CEO) vision. Heavy Rain is trudging through new territory here. Whether or not it proves successful, it already stands apart – I still remember Shenmue!

Look out for it on the 26th February. Interested, have a look below.

Dré

Bi-Pixel Reviews: Modern Warfare 2 – Part Two

November 18, 2009

Here is part two of the Bi-Pixel reviews. If you missed part one, click here.

Before we begin, I have tried my utmost to avoid spoilers. What appear as vague, sporadic statements are actually beautifully surmised acumen to help you, the eager reader. That and poor writing.

shite

“Hello narrative, how are you today?”
“I’m good thanks, how you been keeping?”
“Sorry, I can’t answer that.”
“Okay, how’s plot doing these days? The one I keep hearing about?”
“Sparta!”

This year’s summer blockbuster has been repackaged in the form of a video game. Modern Warfare 2 arrived last week under some heavy scrutiny brought on by its Arnie credentials and children’s attire. So what does one make of this spectacle? Let us begin.

cod

The game is not trying to portray a docudrama so I will forgive the ludicrousness; we are in it for the thrill, not the accuracy. The problem is when it you are able to fully comprehend it, it’s fully preposterous. The characters are just too flat and often indistinguishable. As a narrative, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 does not measure up to the best video games, including its predecessor. That is not to say that the original Modern Warfare was in any way realistic, rather, a plausible logical progression of real world military events that we have seen, read, heard or even actively participated in.

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Modern Warfare 2 seems to revel in its multiple protagonists to the point of self-parody – switching between the characters quicker than a Kyle moral stance. Four different characters get at least one full level a piece and for me that became a problem. Due to the small amount of time I had to spend in each character’s shoes, it diminished the impact of the events that take place around each character. When John Smith takes that inevitable bullet, John Smythe steps in to fill those unassuming shoes.

Remember the ‘holy shit’ moments from the original? Well, the good guys at Infinity Ward have taken that set piece and ran with it for 5 or so hours; one jaw dropping moment follows the next. The problem with the Schwarzeneggisms is that they lose their bite after a while, the game tries so hard to flummox the player that at times it feels like you are in an episode of 24 (season six, I would be okay with the Bauer 1.0). For a game that tries to stir such a vitriolic response through these set pieces it me left wondering why the game tries to place the character so specifically within their environment. Why was it that Soap in Durkastan feels more believable than Roach Sanderson in Afghanistan?

MW2

That ambiguity of the previous instalment left the player to fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, this time round we haven’t developed the capacity for analogy. The script seems as if it were written by a 9/11 conspirator. The game over screens that recite ambiguous smuggery from Voltaire and Gandhi are now coupled with quotes from progressive forward thinkers like Rumsfeld and Cheney. The morality of conflict underpins the narrative of the franchise, I accept this, but what is more concerning is how Modern Warfare 2 revels in sheer delight at the despicable atrocities on screen. The game’s power lies in its perverse achievement – you actually feel bad for playing it. Take for example that controversial incident. The game slows down to absolute zero, while you walk through taking in the ‘scenery’. Infinity Ward should have put signs up around the terminals at this point.

“Look what you are doing!”
“Yes we designed it, but you are playing it, yes you……David!”

cod

I know i’ve defended the right for this particular scene, having not experienced it within a narrative context. Having now digested the scene within its context, I can safely say that it offered nothing to the flow of the game. It occurs far too early to hold any weight, we don’t know the character at this point and have only just dipped our toes into the plot when the onslaught proceeds. If it had come at a later stage of the game, when some emotional attachment (okay a bit far stretched) had been cemented, I would be the first celebrate. After all, the industry has had its fair share of critics since the first pixels blipped. A scene like this only supplies ample resources to the snobs who sneer, while divulging in subtitled, silent snuff films. I guess my main gripe with the single player campaign is that it feels like it has something to say about our political climate, it tries to shock and heckle, but it essentially hands you firecrackers for 5 hours then highlights what a bastard you are for using them. I must admit though, when done right those bangs are mighty impressive.

boom

Dré

Bi-Pixel Reviews: Modern Warfare 2 – Part One

November 11, 2009

After a year of hype, a dubious mark up and tabloid controversy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 finally arrived on shelves. You know the drill, part one good, part two bad. Here is part one of Bi-Polar Reviews, which I shall now refer to as Bi-Pixel reviews…See what we did there??

Yeah I know we could…a lot better.

mw2

The new Modern Warfare is not so much a reinvention of the automatic, but rather, a refined scope to a more than substantial arsenal. As the tired saying goes, it’s the little things that make the difference. If you’ve played a significant amount of the first Modern Warfare, the game will feel dramatically different even though the core is essentially the same. For the developers Infinity Ward, this was a considered choice rather than simple economy. Why change a structure that many rivals have struggled to emulate?

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Online gaming shaped the franchise, so understandably, it is this aspect of the game that has been given the biggest revamp. A lot of these changes come via expansions upon the perks concept that became a stable for the original game and a tablet for subsequent multiplayer games. The system of class creation has been expanded in spots and heavily reworked in others. Perks that got a lot of complaints in COD4, like Martyrdom and Juggernaut have been rebranded. The infamous Martyrdom is now a “deathstreak” bonus. If you die four times in a row without killing anyone, your next spawn will give you one instance of Martyrdom. This may not sound like much, but these minor adjustments will enable the gamer to have a more fluid experience – one not buried under several clouds of debris. Juggernaut is gone completely, but arrives in small doses in the shape of Painkiller, another deathstreak perk that will give you triple health if you die three times in a row, a bonus that will only last for ten seconds after spawning. Before I begin to sound like a reclusive Warcraft tactician (Leeeroy!), I will simply say that the new multiplayer experience is a streamlined affair that doesn’t lose the feel of the developers previous release in the process.

mw2 pic

The new mode, Spec Ops is a welcomed addition. A series of two player missions, built using chunks of the environment from the single player campaign – help bolster up replay value for the game. There are 23 missions that cover a lot of ground, from stealth missions that require you to snipe from one end of the map to another, to more grandiose battles that pit you against hordes of enemy troops in contrasting environments. All require a level of patience, strategy and skill. However, the ability to revive your fallen soldier makes the mode not nearly as taxing as it might sound.

kk

Then of course there is the single player campaign. Modern Warfare 2 picks up five years after Call of Duty 4 and deals with a conflict between Russia and America. The game is around 5-7 hours long on default depending on your skill level. It’s a tightly packed adventure full of elaborate set pieces and an overwhelming sound board. Missions range from the stealthy, to the vehicley to the ‘oh my god I just stabbed him in the face!’

knife

I’m deliberately talking around the story, but it is safe to say that like its predecessor, the campaign jumps between multiple perspectives. One minute you may be a grunt trudging through a decayed landscape of Afghanistan, and the next you will be member of Task Force 141, working an undercover operation that puts you into that pretty uncomfortable situation you’ve been hearing a lot about recently. The story feels like it’s been given the Bruce Willis stamp of approval. The events of the previous game felt plausible if a bit on the silly side, Modern Warfare 2 on the other hand aims to keep chins on the floor, and then work around that awe.

Modern Warfare subscribes to the more and better theories of sequel design. If you have played the original, a lot of it will feel familiar (possible like this sentence), but you are still in for good value for that hard earned stirling. If you haven’t played the series before, bad guy kills good guy, good guys kill bad guys friend, bad guy kills good guys friend, good guy kills bad guy – the end.

cod6

Dré

Prince Of Persia Trailer

November 5, 2009

prince of p

Video game adaptations are traditionally lacklustre attempts to latch onto a well established fan base. Some have argued that the two industries need to stop looking over the fence so often. Others have said that the problem with these video game adaptations is that Uwe Boll usually takes the helm. The film flops, the fans dispair and everyone feels a little bit more dirty afterwards. There was that interesting scene though, where the camera went all third person and it was like you were watching someone playing the..oh..that doesn’t constitute a reward for the fan? Then I digress.

Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry “CSI, Yeeeaaaaah!” Bruckheimer have decided that enough is enough. Throw more money into the equation and you will reap the benefits, while at the same time, not leave the audience wanting to gouge out their retina’s at the first sight of a poorly cast character.

Anyway, the new trailer is up for the new Prince of Persia flick, starring Jake Gyllanhaal, Gemma Arterton and The Honourable, esteemed Sir Ben of Kinglsey.

Heres the official synopsis:

From the team that brought the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy to the big screen, Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films present PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME, an epic action-adventure set in the mystical lands of Persia. A rogue prince (Jake Gyllanhaal) reluctantly joins forces with a mysterious princess (Gemma Arterton) and together, they race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time—a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world.

Looks worth the watch and I imagine it should fair strongly at the box office. The only concern I have is whether a film like this will take itself too seriously and end up looking like a camped up Persian Spiderman with daggers. If the English accents are anything to go by (and I hope they are not), we are in for some interesting parodies on the tube for years to come

Heres the Clip,

Dré