A year is a long time in this industry and Dead Space 2 suddenly seems an age away, but it's only been eleven months since that game hit. I was also quite surprised to find that Dragon Age II came out this year, hunting through the archives for earlier releases to make sure I hadn't skipped over any gems; but then again I'm pretty sure I'd attempted to erase it from my memory after I vented my disappointment at that game upon this very site. Such is the nature of Silly Season. The effect of having triple-A games coming out of the industry ears every week makes for an enormous backlog.
Thankfully, that's what December is for.
Depending on who you talk to, it's either been a great year for the industry or a frankly worrying one. The range of blockbuster titles has been enormous, but we've seen the middle ground suffer a lot, with studios closing left, right and centre, industry luminaries abandoning their grand sweeping legacies for smaller, less risky ventures where they can unleash their creativity without fear of publisher backlash. New IPs have been scarce, with quotes rolling in week after week regarding how dangerous it can be to dump a completely new game onto shelves in the middle of a recession.
It's certainly been an odd year, that's for sure, one I'll cover in more detail in my retrospective editorial at the end of the month, but review scores have been going up. 8 is the new 7, which was the new 5. Content is king these days, alongside production values, with bang for your buck being a crucial consideration. Gamers have aguably never had it so good, with a slew of AAA titles to choose from this year (too many?) and a wealth of creativity to be found in the indie scene. That said, publishers have been looking for sustainable franchises above all else, multiplayer is to be found in nigh on every game, shooters are everywhere and you'd better have a zombie mode...people will bitch and moan if you don't.
The slew of sequels means choosing the lists this year has been easy, but picking a winner less so. We'll be running our revised annual awards later this month, but for now let me kick off a week of staff highlights and personal accounts from the last year.Click here to read more...
If you're the lucky owner of an Early Game Access pass for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Bioware's sprawling, ambitious MMO is available right now. We don't expect to hear from you for quite a while. For the rest of us mere mortals, the game is set to release later this month, but Bioware is already hard at work on post-release content to keep their growing fanbase sated and content.Click here to read more...
Ahead of next week’s early access program for pre-order customers, EA and Origin have announced that players can now start pre-loading the game so they can be ready to jump into Bioware’s MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic the moment it becomes available from the 13th December onwards.Click here to read more...
Rumour states that you could get hold of this one for even less in a few weeks’ time, but if you really want to get hold of Dragon Age II on the PC this is currently the best deal around. Along with a saving of £2.50 you will get access to the Black Emporium DLC, which offers players an additional shop vendor and special items.
However, some may question whether, even at this price, this title is worth the purchase. Let me state it bluntly; chances are you’ll only give it one play through due to the lack of variation in the content, and you’ll probably not be blown away by the storyline, but the action is visually impressive and doing everything will clock up at least 40+ hours, which for less than a tenner is pretty good going these days. I would suggest checking out my review and Matt’s rant to help you decide. Thanks to Crybaby4ever @ HUKD!
BioWare (and Victory Games?) are clearly working on a military project that features tanks, APCs and what appears to be an isometric perspective. Rumours have linked them to the dormant Command & Conquer franchise... and if new domain registrations are to be believed, the new title may well be entitled Command & Conquer: Alliance. Fusible spotted fifteen domains that feature the game's title, which include EA in their registrant and contact fields. This certainly isn't a smoking gun - and could be a defensive measure - but it's very easy to add two and two together.
We'll know more at the VGAs later this month, when the title is set for a full reveal.
You know how every game needs multiplayer to sell copies, right? Right? Wrong, actually (just look at Skyrim) - but someone might need to patiently explain that to EA if a recent report is to be believed. According to another "insider" source from Kotaku, Dragon Age multiplayer is on the cards. The report alleges that it'll be an arena-based PvP and PvE experience, with playable dragons as well as more traditional warriors. Gah. Bleh. Wha?
Ignore my pained outbursts, though, because It's not all bad news. In fact, it's actually quite exciting. The new multiplayer project is rumoured to powered by Frostbite 2.0, and may ship as a standalone game as opposed to being part of the next Dragon Age title. Plus, playable dragons. If true, this could be one to watch.
On the other hand, BioWare certainly needs to nail the singleplayer component after Dragon Age II failed to wow critics and players earier this year.
Dragon Age II is a solid and enjoyable RPG in its own right, but its brutally cut corners and amorphous, hopeless storyline shook the faith of many BioWare fans. For £9.85, however, the PS3 version is probably worth a punt if you enjoyed Origins.
Spike TV has dangled a couple of seconds of footage featuring BioWare's latest title, which will be fully revealed at the VGA 2011 ceremony next month. You'll notice tanks and APCs shooting each other in gritty, modern surroundings... oh lord. This isn't Jade Empire 2. Many of us were still holding out hope despite the debut picture.
We've got the embed after the break, and we'd wager that this has something to do with the "military-genre FPS" that BioWare were hiring for a while back. Since this new studio is technically an entirely new outfit who are included under the BioWare branding, it will be interesting to see if they break with tradition. There are rumours linking this project to the Command & Conquer franchise - which ties in nicely with the military themes.
Anyway, let us know what you make of it. Not that there's much to go on at this stage.Click here to read more...
In a move to try and get the punters in to use their download client, EA have slashed 50% off their usual prices for Dragon Age II and Crysis 2. It means the offer on Origin will save you at least £1.50 on RPG sequel, and £2.50 on the FPS sequel. Please note that you will have to download and go into the Origin client to see and purchase the games at this price.
Is it worth the hassle and your bandwidth? Both titles aren’t the best examples in their genre (or their franchises arguably) but neither of them are bad games by any standard. For the asking price being asked for, it might be work a look at either game if you’ve skipped them so far. Thanks to shango @ HUKD!
BioWare have made a few little noises about the vague possibility of making an MMO based within the Mass Effect universe, and recently Creative Director Casey Hudson suggested that, at least in his own opinion, a Mass Effect MMO would be an attractive proposition indeed.Click here to read more...
BioWare producer Jesse Houston has loosed a huge batch of info (both old and new) about Mass Effect 3's cooperative suite in a recent Q&A session. There's plenty to sift through for interested fans, but we've done our best to smush the pertinent new details into a convenient roundup. Expect the unexpected... and PC DRM that requires a one-off internet connection to activate. Full details below.Click here to read more...
BioWare is set to reveal a new project at this year's VGA ceremony from a newly-christened internal studio. Naturally, our first instincts (or vain hope) were slanted towards a Jade Empire sequel, but a new leaked screenshot from Game Informer seems to put paid to that idea.
So, we're open to ideas. Vehicular combat in a post-apocalyptic desert setting? Please tell me that this isn't Mass Effect Kartz. We'll know for sure after the VGAs air on December 10th.
Dragon Age: Origins is full of brilliant characters, which is just one of the reasons that it's an awesome little RPG. It's also packed to the brim with gore, so you can expect to spill a bit of blood during combat. Getting the Ultimate Edition'll reward you with the Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening expansion pack, along with some other bits of DLC. Amazon are parting with Xbox 360 and PS3 copies of the game for £14.99, which'll save you about £3 on both versions. Thanks to bobcsg @ HUKD.
What with DICE recently calling in to question the current console's visual heft, we've wondered how long we've left of the PS3 and 360's life-cycle. With most developers chomping at the bit to wrangle some new hardware - whether the Wii U can slake that particular thirst is still inconclusive - we fear our beloved Microsoft and Sony boxes may be nearing their ultimate end. However, according to Mass Effect and Dragon Age studio, Bioware, maxing out the PS3 and 360 isn't a bad thing. In fact, it has allowed the developers to "iterate on gameplay" to ensure the likes of Mass Effect 3 are the best the studio can deliver.Click here to read more...
Like it or not, multiplayer is headed to the Mass Effect franchise in a big way. Mass Effect 3 will ship with a host of horde-style arenas that allow players to cooperate and collaborate away from the Shephard's heroic final campaign against the extragalactic menace. Eager to learn about what this exciting and controversial feature will offer, I sat down with a team of fellow hacks and got stuck in.
Eventually, that is. Before we started, our BioWare guide took great pains to reiterate that the multiplayer portion will only be an optional part of the proceedings, and will only affect the singleplayer campaign if you want it to. So in fairness, I should probably do the same before we crack on. Your multiplayer characters stand alone from the main campaign (no story characters or cameos, I'm afraid), and earn persistent experience that can be spent on more powerful skills, weapons and biotics for use solely in the online arena. However, the solo story involves preparing the galaxy for war against the Reapers, and hinges around a Readiness gauge that gradually increases as you complete missions. You can level it up to 100% completion and get the best ending without ever having to play a single multiplayer round, but at any stage, you can optionally convert your levelled multiplayer character into a corresponding amount of readiness. If you've reached 95% in singleplayer and want that extra boost, the online suite is on hand and provides a new way of cutting out the grind. What's more, it will grant us priceless peace of mind; knowing that it's impossible to screw up the galaxy beyond eventual repair.
Click here to read more...
BioWare has tweeted that a Mass Effect 3 singleplayer demo and multiplayer early access beta will be hitting the unsuspecting galaxy in January 2012. Firm dates will be finalised next month, but for now, be aware that owners of Battlefield 3 (and the Online Pass if you don't buy it on Origin, natch), will automatically gain early access to the Mass Effect 3 demo via their EA Account. Apparently an online tool will soon be available to check your eligibility.
I may or may not have tried out the multiplayer - and may or may not be able to tell you about it in six days' time. Embargoes are fun.
New York Comic Con in now in full flow, and last night developers from Bioware Texas took to the stage for a Q&A session to reveal some new information about the upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, as well as premiere a new in-game trailer.Click here for the trailer & more SWTOR news...
Following on from Bioware's statement yesterday regarding the recent Mass Effect 3 multiplayer announcement, further light has been shed on the controversial mode in a preview snagged from OXM. Bioware saw Mass Effect 3 as the perfect chance to introduce multiplayer, although the team had been planning its inclusion since the first game. Pitting four players against ferocious waves of Cerberus forces, Mass Effect 3's multiplayer allows you to pick from a variety of races and classes, from Krogans to Drell.Click here for much, much more
After confirming that Mass Effect 3 will feature cooperative missions in the wake of yesterday's magazine reveal, BioWare has gone one step further and detailed how it will work. The Galaxy At War system stands alone from the singleplayer campaign - but completing cooperative missions will increase your "Galactic Readiness" level. You'll also be glad to know that it hasn't impacted on development in any negative way. At all. So there. Full details after the jump.Click here to read more...
A picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words... and this one is taken from the front cover of Australian magazine PC Powerplay.
"That’s right – Mass Effect 3 is getting multiplayer! We travel to BioWare’s office in Edmonton for hands-on time with the series’ first foray into online gameplay, and chat with Mass Effect Series Producer and Mass Effect 3 Project Director Casey Hudson about the decision to go multiplayer in the epic battle for the galaxy."
So there. Unless the reveal is a big fat hoax - which is very unlikely - Mass Effect 3 multiplayer is definitely happening. We'll bring you more as we hear it.