In almost every case, videogame piracy is indefensible, inexcusable and plain wrong. Behind every angry assertion of draconian DRM or Robin Hood-style heroism lurks gamers who just want something for nothing, willing to effectively steal copyrighted code that developers worked hard to create. It may seem like a victimless crime, and it's difficult to sympathise with faceless corporations who clearly aren't short of a few bob, but when even struggling indie developers find their inexpensive wares being distributed and bundles end up on torrents, the whole thing becomes a farce. I can't stop you doing it, but don't try to defend it.
However, the practice of emulating older games via downloaded (or user-created) ROMs is usually lumped into same murky waters by overzealous publishers, and I'm not convinced that's entirely fair. At all. This might seem like a hypocritical double standard, but when you look closer at the scene, emulation has more in common with Kew Gardens' Millenium Seed Bank than the Jolly Roger.
In a perfect world, copyright holders make their back catalogues readily-available to purchase at appropriate prices on current hardware, else classify ancient games as free-to-distribute abandonware. And in fairness, in this imperfect world, it does happen. For example, Sony provides a huge library of PSX games on the PlayStation Store for pocket money prices, while Nintendo's Virtual Console and SEGA's Mega Drive compilations are a step in the right direction. There's no excuse for downloading a Metal Gear Solid ISO when you can just buy it on the store - or an Earthbound ROM now that Nintendo have finally released it on Wii U. That's... well, that'd be stealing.
Unfortunately, for every legacy game that's managed to make it into the 21st century, dozens if not countless hundreds more are becoming an endangered species.Click here to read more...
To this day, Carl will occasionally drop the words "Dragon Age II" into conversation just to send me off on a ten-minute rampage about how bitterly disappointing and shoddily constructed that game was.
It's all relative, of course. Dragon Age II is not a dreadful game. One would actually struggle to describe it as bad. But in comparison to the past glories of a company I grew up adoring for their mature, choice-stuffed RPGs, BioWare screwed the pooch with Dragon Age II. They abandoned the expansive approach that made Origins a modern classic, threw away the narratives we'd all spent hours constructing in that first game, and gave us a boring city surrounded by cookie-cutter dungeons and endlessly repetitive quests for a story that offered little bite.
I'm still annoyed by Mass Effect 3's ending (that's a whole other can of worms), but Dragon Age II exhibited warning signs long before the Reaper starchild showed up to retcon everyone's favourite interactive space opera. The lazy design is undeniable and was never fully addressed in the post-mortems after the game released. Accusations of rushing the game to completion, which would've explained an awful lot, were laughed off, as were suggestions that EA's high pressure corporate culture had negatively influenced the game.
We never got answers, but the results spoke for themselves. Something had gone wrong: BioWare were making games that looked better than ever, but had lost something underneath the surface.Click here to read more...
Platform: PS Vita (PSN)
Murasaki Baby is terrifying.
In fact, "deeply unsettling" might be more appropriate. This odd Vita exclusive sees you guiding an adorable teetering tot through puzzly levels as she clings onto her favourite balloon, but everything is... wrong. Horribly distorted tentacle-nosed freaks lurk within the nightmarish backgrounds, hiding nearly out of shot. Atonal scraping sends shivers up your spine as our baby staggers across atrocious hellscapes or twisted uncanny interiors past things you'd rather not look at directly. Then reveals that she has an enormous toothy maw in the top of her head.
Underneath the weirdness, however, lurks a fascinating little game that's designed to hold your hand in a very literal way, while showing off the Vita's wild array of input methods.
If you can imagine a touchscreen blend of Ico, Limbo and Frobisher Says... perhaps directed by David Firth (yes, the Salad Fingers guy)... you might be somewhere near the mark.Click here to read more...
We need more variety when it comes to gaming protagonists.
It seems like a no-brainer written down, after all everyone games these days, from toddlers to pensioners. Yet still there seems to be a prevailing idea of a majority market ruled over by a male, teenage demographic who demand the greatest attention.
It's getting better, of course. It takes less time to point to a game with a female protagonist, or at least the option for one, but we're still a long way off. There'll be those who scoff and argue that little needs to change, and I'd wager that the vast majority of those reactions will be from male gamers. I don't want to bash people over the head with talk of privilege, but it's important to take a walk in someone else's shoes from time to time.
As I explained in a vid on my personal channel over the weekend, I like playing female roles: I enjoyed Tomb Raider, No One Lives Forever is one of my favourite game series of all time, and I'll frequently take female characters for a spin in RPGs just to see how characters react differently to a protagonist of the opposite gender than to those when I'm role-playing as myself. But I also imagine what it might be like were the tables turned, with upwards of nine out of ten games released featuring female protagonists. I'd like to say that I'd be totally fine with that, but I'd be lying. Eventually I'd want to just be able to invest wholly in a character without compromise. It doesn't matter how well written the women in those imagined games might have been, at some point I'd want a character I could truly relate to. As a person. As a man.Click here to read more...
Nintendo have never played by anyone else's rules but their own. In an industry that's seemingly obsessed with power and statistics and framerate and pixel density and other hilariously finicky snippets of metadata these days, it's easy to forget that Nintendo's two greatest successes were built off of underwhelming tech used in innovative fashion.
The original Game Boy was the brainchild of Nintendo's much-lauded Research and Development 1 team -- a team spearheaded by a true industry legend in Gunpei Yokoi. Yokoi had already struck gold with Nintendo's Game & Watch series of handheld LCD games, but change was needed, and in the wake of other pioneering devices such as the Milton Bradley Microvision that released way back in 1979, it seemed that interchangeable cartridges were the way to go. The Game Boy might not have been the first "programmable electronic game system", as the Microvision had been branded, but it did more to popularise the portable sector than anything before or since.
The key to that strategy? Well, as the Wii would replicate years later, Yokoi's design philosophy for the Game Boy was simple: "Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology" -- or using easily produced, readily available, pleasingly cheap components in interesting ways. While rivals such as the Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear went for an expensive, but impressively-specced approach, the Game Boy co-opted a Z80-based CPU, and presented a display that struggled with more than one shade of grey let alone fifty or, god forbid, actual colours. It didn't matter.
In 1989, twenty-five years ago, a legend was born and we thought we'd share a memory or two of our time with Nintendo's grey pocket brick and invite you to do the same. Happy Birthday Game Boy!Click here to read more...
Halo 5 is coming. We'll probably have to wait until 2015 if the rumour mill is anything to go by, but as longtime fans of the series, we can't wait to see how 343 Industries push Bungie's legendary brand into the new console generation.
Actually, we do have a few ideas of our own - and some criticisms of Halo 4 to boot.
Halo 4 deserves to be studied in game design courses over the next few years, since it featured both the best and worst QTEs in recent memory.
The first level challenged us to climb up a collapsing superstructure in the most immersive QTE ever implemented by a videogame. Master Chief glanced left or right instead of relying on silly button prompts, allowing us to unconsciously make the right move without breaking the first-person perspective, to the extent that I had to replay the scene and intentionally fail just to convince myself that it wasn't a cutscene. It was utterly masterful (no pun intended) and we'd be happy with more of that - even in other games. Plagiarise the heck out of it, everyone.
However, we want none of the other kind of QTEs in Halo 5. The bad kind. The lazy kind. The immersion-killing kind. The 'press RB to kill the Elite' or 'hammer X to win the game' kind. No. Bad 343. Bad. Don't make me roll up a newspaper and bonk you on the nose.
eSports are all the rage these days, and Halo 5 is already perfectly placed to turn the best of its gametypes into a sensation. Grifball. Rooster Teeth's joke became a deadly serious mode, one that's as tense and tactical as it is ludicrously fun and riotously ridiculous.
So not only do we crave Grifball at launch, but we'd love loads of rotating championships and tournaments built directly into the game, supported by robust stat tracking, then perfectly accompanied by Xbox One Twitch streaming and DVR. See you in pre-season!
Oh, and we're looking for a fourth team-mate. We're undefeated in 2014. Sort of.Click here to read more...
Alice Tsukagami (Bloody Roar)
One of the stalwarts of the Bloody Roar series, which saw human fighters with the ability to transmogrify themselves into enormous anthropomorphic beasts, Alice's alter-ego was an enormous, insane-looking rabbit. For some reason the rabbit kept her tiny jacket, possibly because it was always a bit nippy in the arena.
Robbie the Rabbit (Silent Hill 3)
A bit of macabre entry, this one. Robbie's regular appearance in the Silent Hill games following his debut in SH3 is something of a mystery. A pink-furred anthropomorphic bunny with a ghastly, bloodstained mouth, Robbie is something of an homage to the sketchy nature of bloodied rabbits in horror films and the creepiness of human-sized mascots in general. He's just there to tenuously tie games together in loose fashion, and freak players out by just being there. Watching.Click here to read more...
It's often been the case that I've found myself lacking the patience for the seemingly needless convolutions at work in MMOs. Crafting in particular has always been something of a bugbear of mine, with systems often cluttered beyond belief, often only half-explained, and ultimately incredibly offputting.
The Elder Scrolls Online is nothing like that. In fact, it's something of a joy.
As it stands right now, there are six different professions available in The Elder Scrolls Online. Each have their own unique benefits, and what's impressive to see in a number of them has been how they tie into mechanics used previously in the series. As a player, you can start pretty much straight off of the bat once you emerge out into Tamriel -- it's just a matter of finding and obtaining resources and then getting to work. Here's a rundown of the sort of professions you can invest your time in currently:
There are still MMO staples involved here, of course. Running around and gathering resources from nodes is pretty repetitive and time consuming, but the respawn rate is fairly decent and if you're keeping your eyes open, you'll naturally spot plenty of maple, iron, jute and more on your travels. The limited inventory slots come into play when you're juggling lots of different ingredients for the alchemical and provisioning side of things, but you can stash crafting materials in your bank's vaults, so that takes the load off a little. The real fun begins when you get back to a spot of civilisation and can work upon turning your raw materials into useful items.Click here to read more...
Easter isn't just about chocolate eggs from eager-to-please bunnies (I've been told there's some religious alternative purpose, but we'll gloss over that for now), it's also a perfect excuse to discuss the oft-forgotten gem of our industry - the video game Easter Egg.
Easter Eggs are essentially secrets, hidden jokes or messages left by developers and designers for you to hunt out in game. They serve no purpose and have no reward other than the satisfaction that comes with finding something that most will have missed whilst playing. The first Easter Egg was discovered in a game released exactly 35 years ago this month - Adventure for the Atari 2600. By locating and manipulating a hidden "dot" players could gain access to a hidden room, which had the message "Created by Warren Robinett" - the game's programmer. Once this secret was found, Atari decided to keep it in game and call such secrets "Easter Eggs". The rest, as they say, is history.Click here to read more...
In today's episode of Game Night, the trio are the height of bro-fessionalism as they take on side-scrolling action-fest Broforce from Free Lives. Trust me when I say, it's bro-sesstial viewing for everyone.
Just remember - it's not over 'til it's BRO-VER. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH.
We love the LEGO games here at Dealspwn.com. From humble British beginnings, Traveller's Tales blended our favourite films with our favourite childhood toy, creating a gentle, accessible, hilarious and compelling set of adventures for everyone to enjoy. We've certainly had a lot of it to enjoy, too, from Star Wars to Indiana Jones.
And Harry Potter. And The Lord Of The Rings. And LEGO City Undercover and The Chase Begins and DC Super Heroes and DC Super Heroes 2 and Rock Band and The Adventure Continues and Pirates Of The Caribbean and Ninjago and The Legends Of Chima and Marvel Super Heroes and Universe in Peril and the LEGO Movie... culminating in a Hobbit tie-in that launched before the Trilogy has even completed, offers scant new features, feels unpolished and arrives less than two months after their last major release.
Uh-oh. This is actually rather worrying... because we've seen it before. When a franchise oversaturates its own marketplace and directly competes with itself because a publisher wants too much of a good thing, the alarm bells are bound to go off - as we learned thanks to a certain extinct music game featuring plastic guitars and a billion unnecessary semi-sequels all clamouring for attention.
If Warner Bros. doesn't throttle back, there's a real and present danger of our beloved LEGO series going the same way.Click here to read more...
As I write this, I'm listening to Martin O'Donnell's Rock Anthem For Saving The World. I have the Halo albums shuffled up in a Spotify playlist. Greatest Journey from Halo 3 is up next, and I'm steeling myself for epic Warthog flashbacks from that game's majestic final run. Under Cover of Night aurally describes the midnight before a dawn of fire -- the calm before the storm. The Overture from ODST takes me back to slinking around the Covenant-strewn streets of New Mombasa before Never Forget almost makes me shed a tear. Not for the plot of intergalactic war and the loss and despair that comes with it, but rather for nostalgic good times that have yet to be bettered.
So much of my enjoyment of the Halo series comes as a direct result of Martin O'Donnell's (and Michael Salvatori's) work. The Halo suite itself is an iconic theme that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It's a succession of strings that just says, Oh we got this!
In spite of his long service to the Halo franchise, it's the versatility shown in the games that don't feature Master Chief that gave me hope for O'Donnell's work on Destiny.
This week, though, presumably with much of the work on that game complete, Bungie terminated the contract of their in-house composer. Depending on whose account you read, it's either a straightforward affair, or possibly something a little fishy.Click here to read more...
If you read my Nosgoth preview earlier in the week, you'll know that things are coming along very nicely indeed with Square's F2P PvP arena shooter. In fact, I'll let Past Matt tell you exactly what I thought:
I had a blast with Nosgoth but I want to see more. We were only playing 4-v-4 team deathmatch. I want more modes, inventive game types. I'd love to see bigger maps and more combatants. Beacham mentioned the War For Nosgoth mode, which is basically the ranked tournament mode for the game that'll become available at regular time intervals, but I'm still curious as to how Psyonix and Square are planning on keeping players hooked for the long haul. I had fun, sure, but I'll need more if I'm going to invest time, let alone money, in the long term. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring you an update on that soon as we jump into the game's beta.
As for that last line, well, we're in! And to give you a better idea of how matches unfold in Nosgoth, here's a little Dealspwn Playthrough video showcasing my first match in the beta, and delivering some more information on the three basic classes for each faction and how battles unfold in the war between Humans and Vampires.
0RBITALIS is game all about flinging a satellite into the orbit(s) of various gravitationally significant bodies and trying to keep it within the boundaries of the onscreen star system for a distinct handful of seconds. It's a simple-but-tricky little game, and it requires a fair amount of thought. You can't simply bumble in and hope for the best beyond the first few levels.
The game was originally conceived by Alan Zucconi for Ludum Dare 28 last year, and the theme of the game jam was "You Only Get One".
In the case of 0RBITALIS, that "one" refers to the satellite itself. You only have one shot at plotting the course and measuring out the power of projection, and then it's up to physics to decide what happens to your little space module. You move the cursor to alter your trajectory, and then launch your craft with a single click.Click here to read more...
Over the last few months Carbine Studios have been slowly pulling the curtain back on a number of features for WildStar that, up until now, we had barely seen anything about. Customisation options were one such thing, Adventures were another, and we recently got a look at some of the Raids players will be (almost certainly) punished by during the developer panel at PAX East. However, one topic has been left until the very last second to discuss and it’s a pretty big one – Warplots. This PvP-centric mode aims to kick team-based combat up a notch with something that is part base raiding, part tower defence, and all-out warfare as two teams of 40 max-level players duke it out for supremacy.
It’s basically as if the original incarnation of World of Warcraft’s Alterec Valley and indie title Orcs Must Die! had a baby, and then many Chua were rained upon it for kicks – that’s pretty much Warplots in a nutshell.
You can get a general overview by watching the latest in-game engine-powered Flick embedded above, but you’re probably after some more details or something, and thankfully I have many to throw at you. Earlier this week, select members of the press were invited to watch a demonstration of Warplots in action, with a rather ill Lead PvP Designer Jen Gordy (who was suffering from PAX Flu at the time) providing commentary on what we were watching whilst giving us more detail into what options would be available for potential Warparties (yep, that means no hands-on experience just yet, but stay tuned – I assure you we’ll have something in the near future.)
Virtual Reality is already one of the hottest technologies and topics in videogames, with both the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus promising to revolutionise the way we experience our favourite hobby. The ability to enter our videogames, to be immersed and surrounded by them, is intoxicating - and we've been excited about VR's potential despite a fair few hurdles facing the fledgling venture.
Now that I've finally got to grips with Oculus Rift courtesy of Private Eye (the psychological thriller, not Ian Hislop's mag), both my greatest hopes and most worrying concerns about the resurgent technology have been set in stone.
VR is absolutely incredible, a huge leap forward for videogames and revolutionary new forms of interactive entertainment... but the very things that make it so amazing are likely to keep virtual reality out of the living room.
Project Morpheus may have a bit of a fight on its hands.
Click here to read more...
Virtual Reality is all about immersion. You've doubtlessly watched us hacks overuse this somewhat nebulous term to within an inch of its life over the last few years, but being able to get into our games, to be absorbed by them and enter a new reality for a while, is what many of us strive for. Considering that Oculus Rift is designed to effectively create a new reality around us, it's absolutely perfect for atmospheric games.
Private Eye is all about harnessing that power for a psychological thriller set in 1950s New York, wherein players become a wheelchair-bound gumshoe forced to relive the events that led up to his disablement, all while cracking a new case. It surrounds you with the videogame equivalent of Rear Window, letting you look around the environments in 360 degrees and spy on your neighbours from an intimate new perspective, all while building a sinister and tense atmosphere around us. Considering that the pitch was created as part of a VR Jam by single developer Jake Slack, Private Eye is already rather impressive.
It also has the privilege of being my first hands-on with Oculus Rift -- should that be eyes on? -- so naturally I was nearly violently ill all over the fine folks at EGX Rezzed 2014. At least we managed to interview Slack afterwards.Click here to read more...
Things are getting a little more interesting of late in The Elder Scrolls Online, especially now that I've reached Cyrodiil. There'll be a big, fat article PvP and the heartland of Tamriel later this week, but for now here are eight reason why The Elder Scrolls Online is filling me with ambivalence...
I LOVE... Skill Progression
The organic process of getting better by doing something repeatedly has long been a staple of the Elder Scrolls games in the past. But it's not how MMOs have traditionally worked. Thankfully, TESO said bollocks to tradition and stuck to its guns, proving all the better for it. Thanks to the implementation of Skyshards, there's not so much pressure put on levelling, instead giving more weight to exploration. Besides, actually improving your skills works outside of general levelling anyway, meaning that whatever you're doing out in the wide world, you're probably getting better at something.
Reached level 23 and want to turn your Dragonknight into a staff-wielding bringer of rain? Well you can.
I HATE... Level Grinding
The gap between levels becomes interminable pretty quickly. I get that MMO developers want to keep you playing for as long as possible, and that TESO isn't all about the rush to the endgame content, but this is ridiculous. Combat counts for virtually nothing when it comes to rising through the ranks, nor does exploration or crafting or anything, really. It's not long at all before progression slows to a crawl, and that's even when you're doing every quest that you find and battling every creature you come across. Making you work for it is one thing, but too often TESO turns into a bit of an interminable slog.Click here to read more...
In videogames we all have our favourite franchises. As much as we crave the new and different IP, there's something reassuring and fulfilling that comes from a franchise. Previous instalments have allowed us to form a love affair with characters, mechanics, plot and gameplay that have created a melting pot of an experience that appeals to us as an individual gamer. From Angry Birds to Zork, there's a franchise out there for everyone.
But it's perhaps easy to forget when we clamber over the latest Mario or FIFA game that franchises themselves are a poisoned chalice, that hang on a knife-edge (or indeed insert over-used metaphor here) for developers, because they present a bit of a headache. And it's not a headache that simple painkillers can cure. Because franchise development is a bit of a paradox. Fans love your franchise for what it is, so you need to stick to that formula. But heaven forbid of course if developers don't progress the idea in future instalments. Because as fans, we always demand more, and never more so than when we are talking about our beloved franchises.
But how did we create this problem in the first place?Click here to read more...
UPDATE: Please note that the weekend beta keys we are giving away will only work with EU NCSOFT accounts. If you do not have an EU account, there are other websites that will be giving out keys that will work. You can find a list of all the sites giving away codes here. Apologies for the confusion here folks, and if you have any other issues please let us know so we can help you out!
ORIGINAL POST: Looking to get in on the action of the upcoming WildStar weekend beta, which is set to take place between 18th - 20th April? Well, if you haven't put money down for a pre-order (with which you will gain automatic access to every beta weekend between now and the release on June 3rd) you may want to hit the jump to find out how to snab yourself a key, as we have 2000 weekend beta keys to give away.Click here to find out how to get one!