Commander Shepard is back, and he's lost a few pounds. Mass Effect 2 kisses goodbye to fiddly item management, bland side-quests, the Mako and an uninspired combat system and says hello to a vastly improved action experience, unique missions and a continuation of BioWare's trademark character-driven narrative.
I'm going to make no bones about it, I absolutely love this game. BioWare's epic space opera had me enthralled from the word 'Go' and this heavier, moodier sequel ticks all of the right boxes. Dark horses Blockbuster are currently thecheapest vendors at the moment, selling the game a good £3 cheaper than the nearest competitor over at ShopTo.
There aren't as many twists and big reveals as the first game, and we could do without the absurdly tedious mining mini-game, but Mass Effect 2 is an undoubted success. BioWare have done an excellent job of assembling a rag-tag team of the galaxy's best and making you want to find out their backstories, and what makes them tick, each and every one of them.
The combat is now genuinely thrilling, with a solid cover system, a reload mechanic, ammunition quick-swapping and abilities that might be fewer in number, but are generally superior in terms of execution and effect. The AI is much improved too, with enemies taking heed of your bullets and position, and your squadmates generally staying out of your line of fire.
For a further appraisal of the game's many merits and occasional faults, you can check out my review here, but to be honest if you own an Xbox 360 and enjoyed the first game then you really should have this in your possession.
Thanks to dsenart at HUKD
Bethesda has released 5 expansion packs for Fallout 3, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous to the plain bad. However, they're now half price, as Microsoft has slashed them to 400 MSP each. Speaking as someone who's already paid top dollar for each and every one of the DLC packs, this is a fantastic deal of the week- and deserves your attention if you haven't already invested in the GOTY edition. As always, only Gold Members get the bonuses- and you'll need to log in before the prices magically drop.
Broken Steel ought to be your first purchase as it improves the Fallout 3 experience in myriad ways. New missions, new perks, new weapons and a level cap increase were worth the original 1200 MSP, and now it's available for 400. If you don't already have it, then get it now. Now.
The other DLC packs bring a few incremental improvements and diversions to the party. To sum it up...
Right, it's time to review the jewel in the Block Party's crown: Krome Studios' Game Room. Here we go!
At the time of writing, Game Room simply fails to load- both on the Xbox 360 and Games for Windows. It's currently unclear as to what the problem actually is, but the fact of the matter is that Game Room is completely and utterly bricked. As an avid retro gamer, I'm certainly disappointed- and wonder how badly this will hurt the service's reputation. Get it fixed!
After a shaky start, Microsoft have managed to get Game Room up and running. We've got access to a small selection of (fairly weak) retro games including Asteroids, Millipede and Lunar Lander (a personal favourite), though I simply can't recommend buying any of them as yet. There just aren't enough big names here. However, we've also got free demo access to four games as well as 1000 points worth of achievements.
As a veteran of Southend-on-Sea's Golden Mile, I'm delighted to report that the classic arcade atmosphere has been faithfully recreated. Avatars bustle around cabinets in the showcase arcade, and the background hubbub of bleeps, bloops and clinking quarters is spot on. Unfortunately, navigating the split-level arcade is extremely time consuming and unintuitive... hopefully some quick shortcuts will be put in place before too long.
The very Short Version: The infrastructure for a fantastic retro game library and social network is now in place- and it's up to Microsoft to secure some killer old-school titles. I'm going to have to cop out of a rating for this one... after all, we've been promised thousands of games. Stay tuned for the latest additions in future XBLA roundups!
Probably the most interesting DLC this week was Dragon Age: Awakening. This expansion pack essentially offers an entire new game experience- but it has a price point to match. It might be worth waiting for the physical copy to come down in price rather than downloading it from XBL.
Speaking of Bioware, the Firewalker DLC pack has been released on Mass Effect 2's Cerberus network. This hefty download adds a handful of tank-themed missions into Bioware's space odyssey- basically, if you have Cerberus Network then get the free DLC. If you don't, then it's arguably not worth the price of admission.
Finally, the Chapters of Deceit have been released for Army of Two: TFD. This pricey little expansion bolts two (much-needed) extra levels onto the end of EA's cooperative shooter that introduce a few interesting new gameplay elements. Being completely unarmed while your partner covers you from an adjacent building is a genuine thrill, though it soon descends into standard cover-based flank-heavy warfare. Which, let's face it, is why we love Rios and Salem in the first place.
The Playstation Move represents Sony's first move into dedicated motion control peripherals (not including the Sixaxis), and it looks fairly impressive to boot. However, Lionhead's eccentric CEO (and current Project Natal spokesman) Peter Molyneux has downplayed the importance of the Sony peripheral, though does show some grudging respect towards the precision that Move will offer. In an interview with Eurogamer, Molyneux stated:
"Yes, I have seen some of [the Playstation Move in action]. We're not really surprised, are we? I mean at E3 last year we saw they were having a wand, and that's kind of what I expected. It looks like they've taken a step forward but it's not as big a step as something like Natal, I don't think."
"To be honest, it's all down to what us poor old designers do with this stuff, because all these guys do is make the hardware. Whether we utilise that hardware in a real way or whether we just take shortcuts, that's really going to be where we succeed or not."
Actually, he does have a couple of good points. Natal and Move are both fantastic pieces of kit; but Sony's contender is an evolution of existing motion controls whereas Natal harnesses motion-capture technology and applies it in an entirely new direction. Molyneux's also right on the money as far as software support is concerned. The technology is out there... and it's very impressive... but it's up to game designers to funnel such vast potential into something more worthwhile than godawful minigame collections. We remain to see whether motion control will become a viable input method with real sticking power or a simple fad.
What do you think about the rush towards motion control? Moved by the Move? Numbed by Natal? Let us know in the comments!
Well, the Cerberus network was fun while it lasted, but EA have decided that we've got our "ten dollars" worth and will now be charging for future Mass Effect 2 DLC. Whilst I hate day one DLC and everything it stands for, at least EA didn't chisel us for content this time around... so long as you got a decent deal on a new copy!
The next DLC pack, entitled 'Kasumi's Stolen Memory' will add the female thief to the roster of characters (finally filling the sad, empty dossier on the character select screen) along with a new SMG, loyalty power and achievement. The new mission will take between one and two hours to complete- price TBA. [Joystiq]
According to the latest NPD Group data, Xbox sales have outperformed both the Wii and PS3. It's rare to see Nintendo's casual console slip from the top spot (though stock shortages may be retarding the Wii and PS3 sales somewhat). Here's the figures for your delectation. [via 1UP].
In an email to PC World, Microsoft has branded last month as the...
"biggest February in Xbox 360 history [with] a stellar portfolio of exclusive blockbuster games, a fresh pipeline of new content on Xbox LIVE and high anticipation for controller-free gaming and entertainment with 'Project Natal' for Xbox 360."
Both Microsoft and Sony have experienced steady growth this year (though arguably the PS3 had nowhere to go but up after its truly depressing first-year sales). However, Microsoft shouldn't celebrate just yet... since the immanent release of God of War III might well tip the balance towards the Playstation. System shifters don't come bigger than this, folks- though Sony will have to sort out its bewildering stock shortage before we see real improvement in the figures.
The NPD data also places Bioshock as the software sales leader, and impressively features Heavy Rain in the top 10 after a single February week of sales. However, Xbox 360 multiplatform titles sold far better than their PS3 counterparts. Congratulations to Microsoft and Quantic Dreams for now... though 2010 is just beginning...
It's a good day for BioWare and sci-fi fans! Alongside the groovy Mass Effect deal I posted earlier today, you can now pick up the sequel for just £17.99, although this one is for the PC version of the game. Shepard is back, and he's a bit more of a badass this time around, jettisoning some of the more fiddly RPG elements of the original for a faster-paced, darker and moodier second outing.
Coolshop just dropped their listing of the game by a fiver or so, now offering it for £17.99 and undercutting previous cheapest merchant The Games Collection by £2.
I've said it before in my review, and I'll say it again, this one is already on my shortlist for Game of the Year. BioWare really listened to the fans on the forums after the first game and have shifted and tweaked and streamlined no end to provide an action-RPG that's quite a bit heavier on the action side of things this time around.
The combat is now a joy to play, with a vastly improved and stickier cover system and thermal clips that you can now reload instead of risking overheating irritation, not to mention a quick button mapping on the fly and easier ammo swapping. There are fewer powers and weapon upgrades this time around, but they make more of a difference. Instructing your squadmates is easier than ever, and both the AI of your wingmen and the enemies you'll encounter has been improved.
The Mako hs been chucked, along with the bland side missions, but unfortunately BioWare has replaced the tedium of endless inventory dumping with planetary mining, which is teeth grindingly dull and would come close to ruining the whole experience if there wasn't so much more to do.
Mass Effect 2 is a game that will grab you and keep you hooked for hours. It's a superb piece of interactive storytelling with all of BioWare's big hallmarks - rich characters, pre-occupation with choice and consequence, amazing voice acting - and it succeeds in being genuinely thrilling at times. Admittedly it works better on the 360 than it does on the PC (in opposite contrast to Dragon Age: Origins), but don't let that stop you. No side-boob this time, though.
Thanks to amibees at HUKD
Hello, my name is Matt and I am a BioWare addict. Does that fact make Mass Effect any less of a great game? Of course it doesn't. Commander Shepard's first outing is still an epic action-RPG of huge proportions that puts a cracking storyline, rich characters, and third-person shooter action into one big pot and basically does for sci-fi games what JJ Abrams did for Star Trek.
Following the release of the sequel, there's really never been a better time to snap up a copy of the original game, and thankfully now that it's been absorbed into the Xbox 360's Classics line, it'll hopefully still be around for a little while longer. This version comes with two discs: one for the game, and one stuffed with behind the scenes movies, there's a premium theme in there, and also included is the DLC mission Bring Down The Sky - the awful Pinnacle Station didn't quite make it, but that's no loss. You can pick this up from Gamestation for £7.99, saving you £2 on the nearest competitor over at Game.
Mass Effect has, along with Fallout 3 and Oblivion, come to define the action-RPG genre of late. It's cinematic, immersive, and there's an unholy amount of fiddly customisation and character swapping, but it also balances itself out with machine guns and grenades and a cover system (a pretty poor one to be honest, but fixed for game no. 2) and all of the staples you might expect from a third-person shooter.
If the sequel could be accused of falling more heavily on the action side of the equation, then this is most certainly, more of an RPG. There are more things to fiddle with, more things to upgrade, and more walking and talking to do in the original than its more muscular brother. The combat here is not as good as it could be, and sort of lets the game down a bit, and the less said about the awful Mako sections and the cookie-cutter bland side missions the better.
But no one's really better at sucking you into a game than BioWare, and stating that they're good at storytelling is like saying that a pizza is cheesy, it's pretty much what they're best at. The combat is never off-putting, in fact at times it's a lot of fun and some of the battles (wait until you get to Noveria) can be pretty intense. The range of powers and armaments at your disposal is impressive, and the sheer number of different customisation options will please any RPG fan who likes to tinker. But it's the characters who really make a difference to the way you play and the choices you'll have to make, and you'll want to play through the game at least three times just to see what happens and how people react when you try something new.
Mass Effect has one or two flaws, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best games of the last few years and one that you really need to try.
Thanks to killabyte at HUKD
Is it just me or are new games falling in price really quickly this month? Actually, don't answer that or we'll probably jinx it. Whatever's going on, the results are good for us more conscientious consumers, and today brings news that you can pick up BioWare's epic space opera Mass Effect 2 for under £30.
At the time of writing, PC owners can still pick up the action-RPG from The Game Collection for under £20 as highlighted in the deal I posted the other day, but now 360 owners can delight in the fact that they don't have to pay the launch price any more either. Thanks to ShopTo you can snag one for the Xbox for just £28.99, saving you just over £4 on the nearest competitor over at Simply Games (£32.89).
Continuing the tale of Commander Shepard and his Reaper-baiting, galaxy-saving antics, Mass Effect 2 is everything a sequel should be. Like The Empire Strikes Back, it's moodier, beefier and more emotionally charged than the first game. The tweaked and refined combat system helps with the darker atmosphere, injecting a few thrills into the firefights and making the action part of the game much more exciting. Although some of the RPG elements have been scaled down, and we'd like some more customisation options please BioWare, don't be fooled - this is still a character-driven, narrative-heavy epic, with an emphasis on moral choice and consequence.
Say good bye to the irritatingly fiddly Mako, the bland side quests and the sluggish shooting of the first game, and hello to unique mission design, a cracking cover system and more smoothly integrated tactical teamwork. Like Empire the ending comes across as somewhat less than finished, but this is a trilogy in the making after all. We could have done without the tedious mining mini-game though BioWare. Seriously.
If you appreciated the first game at all then this is a must buy. Hell, if you own an Xbox 360 you're going to want this in your library. Early days, but probably going to end up being one of my games of the year. Check out my full review of the game right here.
Thanks to christ_ at HUKD
I'm going to make no bones about it, I am a massive BioWare junkie. The original Mass Effect has been one of my favourite games of the past decade and I was ridiculously excited when news broke that it'd be just part one of an eventual trilogy. Well, part deux is with us, and it's spectacularly good. BioWare, much like Ubisoft did with their Assassin's Creed sequel, have gone back, listened to the fans and tweaked every part of this space opera for a much more muscular, bigger, badder second outing.
If you're a PC owner and fancy saving the galaxy, you'll be pleased to know that you can pick up a copy of the game for under £20 from The Game Collection, which is pretty fantastic considering that the game has been out for less than two weeks. If you do decide to take advantage of this deal, you'll be saving yourself a good £3.50 on the nearest competitor over at Coolshop.
You can read a full appraisal of the game and see whether or not its lived up to expectations right here, but the short version is positive indeed. BioWare have streamlined the whole Mass Effect experience, distilling the essence of what made the first game so good, and beefing it up with much better support. Gone are the frankly awful Mako sections of the game,along with the cookie-cutter side missions. Now all of the side quest boast unique layouts, and indeed the entire game's design has been shuffled to provide more opportunities to use the much improved cover system.
Some of the RPG elements have been dialled down a bit, and some more customisation options would have been nice. The mining mini-game quickly becomes the bane of your virtual galactic existence, and you'll have to do it a lot, but thankfully there are plenty of colourful missions to make sure that you never really need to spend too much time probing away at planets for minerals and resources.
The bottom line, though, is that this is an absolute stormer of a game. It's early days, but I'm pretty sure that come December, this will be in my top three games of 2010, if not sitting pretty right at the top.
Thanks to fedexpress at HotUKDeals
Dealspwn Rating: 9/10
Three of 2009's best games - Modern Warfare 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2 - were all linear affairs, games that proved their excellence by taking a story or situation and guiding you through a wonderfully crafted experience, showing you where to look and when to be dazzled. However, the folks at BioWare, much like their genre rivals Bethesda Softworks, don't play by the rules.
You can spot a BioWare game a mile away as they're generally constructed using the same basic ingredients: a heavy emphasis on a spider-web narrative and dialogue, readily identifiable interesting character tropes and, perhaps most importantly, an obsession with choice and consequence. The studio works to a very simple base formula and then builds from there, adding layer upon layer, choice upon choice. With some games (ahem...Dragon Age: Origins...ahem) that formula is slightly more obvious than in others, but in the hands of skilled developers and master storytellers it becomes so much more than a skeletal theory. On the evidence of Mass Effect 2, Bioware haven't rewritten their working process just yet, but by God they've never been better.
It’s time to get your injection of serious Sci-Fi gaming entertainment. Mass Effect 2 promised to be everything the first game was, but done bigger and better. If Metacritic is anything to go by, it certainly doesn’t disappoint with a current massive score of 95%. So now’s your chance to snatch this game for £22.99, that’s including delivery from TheGameCollection. At that price it’s undercutting Coolshop by 50p and big-name Amazon by £4!
No one should be worrying about splashing out for the full price of Mass Effect 2, we’re still plugging away after a good twenty hours of some of the most enjoyable story-based PC gameplay we’ve experienced, and the end is still nowhere in sight. The presentation is utterly absorbing, drawing you into the Mass Effect universe perfectly with sumptuous graphics from the characters to the environments. The occasional lower-res backdrop does detract but the main scenery is perfect.
As you get deeper into the game following individual character story lines, fresh new styles of gameplay creep in, ensuring you don’t get too bored with what could be repetitive duck-and-cover tactics. From spooky abandoned research bases to fog-drenched alien worlds, which have you navigating by beacons, the environments stay varied. And just when you think it might be dragging the main arc storyline kicks back in.
The illusion isn’t always perfect, when one of the characters' personal storylines is on hold – as the game is waiting for you to act on their last request - you’re usually dismissed from conversation with a terse “I’m busy” or “Later on Shepard”, but this hardly distracts from the engrossing storyline, making it a must have game for 2010.
Thanks to ant eg on Hotukdeals!
The game of the moment has to be Mass Effect 2 and Argos has an interesting deal that should grab all Xbox 360 owner’s attention. When you order Mass Effect 2 for £39.99 from Argos you can get a free dual charger station with 2 battery packs worth £19.99 absolutely free. While on the Mass Effect 2 page, click the Special Offers tab and tick the charger station offer!
If you don’t already own a charge station then this is a great way of picking one up at a bargain price. Currently HMV will sell you Mass Effect 2 for £34.99 so even considering the higher price, this is technically £14.99 cheaper, as the charge base retails for £19.99!
As for the game itself it’s superb, if you were wise enough to play through the original game then you already know the epic level of story telling that you’re in store for. This sequel simply expands on this and brings film-style storytelling to your console. The fact that Bioware has managed to wrap such a complex storytelling vehicle inside an RPG that’s so effortless to play is a huge achievement and a testament to its genius.
For us there are minor flaws, the resource mining is a dull chore and the combat can become somewhat tiresome with its dumbed-down console controls and sometimes annoying cover system. But the sheer level of immersion you get inside the Mass Effect universe keeps you coming back to the varied missions and beautiful locations.
The XBL schedules for this month have been released and there are a few corkers coming down in price in the next week or two, so if you have a few Microsoft Points floating around you might want to hang onto them for a few more days. Check out the list of upcoming deals below and see if anything grabs your eye, we've put in the previous prices and the saving you'll be making in brackets. There's also a link at the bottom for the XBL new releases for the rest of this month:
Week Commencing January 18th:
Week Commencing January 25th:
The Mass Effect deals are perfectly timed to coincide with the upcoming release of BioWare's sequel. Of the two, Bring Down the Sky is the better one, although it's basically just a slightly drawn-out side quest with a couple of shiny new cutscenes. To be honest, it's actually quite fun, but it certainly won't blow your mind. I picked it up when it was 400 MP and thought that it was an okayish price, but 240 MP is an excellent deal and if you hankering more a bit more classic Shepherd action before part two arrives, this is the one to go for.
Pinnacle Station is a disappointment, essentially a gladiatorial arena for a creaking combat model. No one played Mass Effect for the combat, so designing a load of DLC specifically centred around combat should have been shot down in the ideas department from the start. You could spend 240 MP on it, but I'm not even sure if it's worth that.
Battleship is the classic game we all know and love with a few extra game modes thrown in for good measure. It was never really going to be worth 800 MP, so now that it's dropped to a respectable, if not quite dazzlingly attractive, 400 MP it's certainly worth a punt for any fans. There are enough extras, unlockables, achievements and party options to keep things somewhat fresh too.
Portal is the big one, though, and anyone who has yet to sample this stunningly inventive game should really do so without delay. You don't need to buy The Orange Box for this one any more (although you probably should as Half Life 2 is amazing!), and Still Alive comes bundled with 14 all-new hardcore bonus levels for maximum head-scratching. It was just about worth it for 1200 MP, but at 800 MP it's definitely a must-own game.
Thanks to Cuddy at HUKD and MajorNelson
UPDATE: Remember that for the rest of the month EA are offering an 800 MP rebate for anyone who buys three of their selected XBL Marketplace products. Original a Christmas deal, the run has been extended to the end of the month. You can find the full list here.
It's not too long until Mass Effect 2 is finally released and it looks set to be fantastic. So if you've still not played the great original game, you may want to hop to it while Zavvi are selling it at such a bargain price.
Zavvi's price of £7.95 is a good deal cheaper than the next best, giving you a saving of £5 against Click-a-Game's price of £13.19.
Mass Effect is a fantastic game for a number of reasons, not least its deftly told and exciting storyline. It may be an easily classified space opera but that does not mean that it is without surprises or originality. You take on the role of Commander Shepherd - a very well respected veteran soldier whose personality, background, appearance, gender and skills are in your hands. These opportunities for customisation make the game all the more satisfying and make for enjoyable repeated run-throughs. The supporting cast is made up of an excellent motley crew of characters, each with their own story to tell and
The gameplay is a tight mix of shooter and rpg, with skill points to spend strategically, some run-and-gun elements keepings things exciting and a team to oversee and command. While the textures can take a while to pop-in, the graphics are by and large excellent and the sound is great with very convincing voice acting and a nice cheesy sci-fi soundtrack. There's little to complain about; the only problems I had were in controlling/fighting in the slightly dodgy vehicle and navigating the often counter intuitive menus.
Mass Effect 2 is bound to be one of the must-have games of 2010 so I urge you to grab a copy of its predecessor before the new title hits!
Thanks to andywedge at Hotukdeals!
Brace yourselves darlings, here comes the 2010 line-up of games and it is hotter than a naked man wearing oven mitts (sorry). Some may lapse and some may fade but most of these are storming up the pixels to make you drool with delight. These release dates have been sourced from the press service but may well change at any moment so don't hit me if they are wrong. Here we go...
Fancy going on holiday to the Bermuda Triangle only to become tangled up with an alien race that doesn’t want to sit down and eat choc chip cookies? Well here you go, someone clearly knew you had this weird dream. In Dark Void you have a title with its own fair share of hype and people are clamouring for the demo that’s due out any minute now. Capcom’s title looks to be an interesting mixture of genres and concepts. And you have a jetpack. Jetpacks are cool.
Due Date: 22 January 2010
Commander Shepard returns in this next instalment of the role-playing brilliance that is Mass Effect 2. There are new characters, locations and pin sharp graphics to look forward to. Bioware have certainly put a lot of emphasis on it and seeing as this game was voted Most Anticipated Game of 2010 in the GamesIndustry.biz Network Survey, perhaps they are not far wrong. Let’s just hope it doesn’t disappoint.
Due Date: 29 January 2010
I’m no stranger to this one and I have to say that it’s looking mighty tasty in the Beta. Star Trek Online includes all the elements of the Star Trek universe and is a gem for the fan. Newbies will not feel excluded as the content is rich and diverse enough to appeal to most MMO gamers. I have high hopes for this MMO and, even though I am a biased Trekkie, I think it has the potential to draw in a lot of people.
Due Date: February 05 2010
Our heroine draws her super powers from her hair. Yes, ladies and germs, her hair. Bayonetta looks good enough to eat if the screenshots are anything to go by, and the action is reported to be tight and intense. She's just gorgeously wicked looking, so much so that I can't wait to snatch control of her and make her kick some butt. She's also proof that girls who wear glasses are as sexy as hell.
Due Date: 08 January 2010
It’s time for you to return to Rapture and take on the tortured denizens of this underwater maze. It’s rich, exciting and looks to be delightfully tight on the storyline front, a feature that more games need to attend to. I am desperate to play it and hope that the new release date is right on the money. Even if you've never played it before, this game should be something you look at this year.
Due Date: 09 February 2010
Massive Action Game a.k.a MAG looks set to break records while also dragging players in from across the globe. It promises action, fun, sweat and screaming for up to 256 players at the same time. Yep, at the same time. It’s either going to rock harder than Mick Jagger or it’s going to squelch under the carpet. I can't wait to hear what you think and I'm glad I don't have to wait too long.
Due Date: 26 January 2010
I think I will always cry a little at the fact that Splinter Cell got hijacked by the console but no matter my thoughts, this looks to be a superb title. Sam’s had an overhaul and a make-over. His three-eyed, black bodied stare has been replaced with gloomy casuals and a five o’clock shadow. He's just as sassy, his voice as sexy and the theme of revenge should be, ahem, killer. Bring it on.
Due Date: 23 February 2010
Rockstar are known for their gripping and visceral titles so this Wild West shoot ‘em up title isn’t likely to disappoint. You are John Marsten, outlaw and sharp shooter, riding your way through the old west with style and thievery. Hijack, chase, shoot and enjoy the adventure. It promises to be addictive and immersive and chock full of witty lines and fast-paced action.
Due Date: 27 April 2010
This title has met with critical acclaim for its visual style and dedication to the art of gaming. Quantic Dream have focused heavily (snort) on the storyline and emotive context with characters showing true emotions and depth. If they’ve pulled this off successfully then Heavy Rain could be one of the most impressively rich titles of the year.
Due Date: First quarter of 2010
After a long, long wait and lots of hints and hype it looks like Starcraft II may well be on its way to your PC. Although there is still no exact release date it has been promised for 2010 and will run across three different chapters. Fans of the series will probably be torn between extreme excitement and nervous caution, when something is this hyped there is always the fear it could go wrong. Well here’s hoping that Blizzard continue to make good of their ability to tap into our addictive genes and pop out a kicker of a title.
Due Date: TBA
In today's news roundup we hear the Square Enix is now accepting applications for Final Fantasy XIV's beta testing, Bioware explain their reasons for not bringing Mass Effect 2 to the PS3, and Sega wins its appeal against the Australian Classification Board allowing Aliens vs. Predator to be released with no cuts made.
Square Enix's second foray into massively multiplayer online roleplaying is due for global release next year for PS3 and PC, and avid RPGers will be pleased to know that the FFXIV beta programme for Windows went live this week. Hit the link to nip over to the official site and sign up to check out what promises to be one of the major events of next year's gaming calendar. You'll be testing out the game for the usual bugs, glitches and gameplay balance, no previous MMO experience is required, and the applications will be sorted out by content as opposed to submission order. [Wired]
To put an end to the multitude of rumours circulating around the Web regarding the possibility of Mass Effect 2 appearing on the PS3, the game's producer Adrien Cho has categorically stated in interview that this will not be the case, going on to outline Bioware's decisions for this move.
"We started Mass Effect on Xbox 360 - it was our lead development platform," said Cho. It made sense for us, we built all of our tools around that and again we're leveraging all of that experience working with the 360 and Unreal technology...it just made sense to continue working on that for the sequel."
The producer also hinted at DLC ranging from new weapons and armour to full mission-packs, and didn't rule out the idea of implementing a follow-up strategy similar to that seen in GTA IV. Finally, he suggested that there would be a digital distribution service for PC owners, but was not yet at liberty to say which. [CVG]
Australian gamers can rejoice, for once, as SEGA Australia confirmed that not only will Aliens vs. Predator be seeing an Autralian release, but that it will receive a MA15+ certificate and be unmolested by the censors with no game content edited or cut. Managing Director Darren Macbeth had this to say about the hard-fought victory:
"It is with great pleasure that we announce the success of our appeal. We are particularly proud that the game will be released in its original entirety, with no content altered or removed whatsoever. This is a big win for Australian gamers. We applaud the Classification Review Board on making a decision that clearly considers the context of the game, and is in line with the modern expectations of reasonable Australians."
The game was refused classification at the beginning of December, at which point SEGA made noises about pulling the game entirely as they'd already planned to do in Germany. Thankfully, now though, the situation has reached a happy conclusion.
Still sucks for poor old Valve and every would-be Aussie zombie slayer, though. [IGN]
In today’s news roundup the ERSB sum up why they gave Mass Effect 2 an M classification (and inadvertently make the game sound great). Activision try and drum up some enthusiasm for their new transformers title. And lastly, Yoichi Wada from Square Enix goes off on one and says why it won’t be long before all consoles are dead and buried.
The American ERSB (Entertainment Software rating Board) have just released a summery justifying their reasons for issuing Mass Effect 2 with a mature rating. Anyone who’s played the first edition will be pleased to learn that the sequel – out on PC and Xbox 360 in February 2010 – still contains plenty of gore, with enemies emitting ‘large splashes of blood when shot (especially in the head).’ You’ll also be treated to henchmen ‘freezing and shattering enemies’ and cut scenes depicting ‘dramatic interrogations in which human characters are threatened, punched, kicked, and shot (in the leg) by alien creatures.’
However, none of these issues worried our prudish transatlantic cousins quite as much as the game’s portrayal of sexual liaisons between human and alien characters. "Clothed alien/human characters may prop a partner on top of a space console, clear away the clutter from a bed-slab, unzip a future-blouse, or just talk it out," stated the ERSB summery. They added however, ‘though an alien/human may gyrate her hips while on top (fleeting - one-to-two seconds), actual sex is never depicted - the camera cuts away to space furniture and ceilings." On top of all that there’s pole dancing, ‘suggestive comments’ and loads of drug taking which, I know, all sounds great doesn’t it? [GamerRSS]
Although Activision has announced that another one of those Transformer games is currently in development, you could be forgiven for not getting overly excited given the dismal quality of the last two efforts. This time round it’s going to be Transformers: War for Cybertron which is set on the transformers home planet. But with Earth no longer in the picture are Activision really intending to make a transformers game where there are no cities to stomp around in, and no Earth vehicles? It’s already sounding dubious.
However Aaron Archer from Hasbo insists that with Hasbo working alongside Activision they will be able ‘to drive the Transformers fiction forward into new story arcs, demonstrating pivotal moments in Transformers history that defined who they are. This remarkable video game helps us to tell a critical event in Transformers lore that will be used as canon for future storylines in a way we could have only dreamed of a few years ago.’ [Eurogamer]
Yoichi Wada from Square Enix predicts that sometime in the next decade console platforms will decline and disappear forever. Wada told Developer that "In the past the platform was hardware, but that switched to the network. So a time will come when the hardware isn't even needed any more, because the true strength of the Xbox 360 is Xbox Live.’
He added, 'If we take a look at the PS3 we can see that it is like a home server in a sense - the Cell chip is well matched to the parallel processing we use on server-based games." So could this mean that one day we'll see Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all coming together to publish games on one unified piece of hardware? Yeah right… [DigitalSpy]
Today’s news roundup sees Mass Effect 2 span two discs due to the sheer size of the adventure, while Mirror's Edge 2 is considered for either a FPS or puzzler approach, and a Taiwanese man does the impossible and ‘finishes’ World of WarCraft.
Mass Effect 2 is set to be one of next year’s biggest games, and not just in terms of hype. Apparently the adventure will be so huge; two discs are needed to fit the whole thing in. Community coordinator Chris Priestly revealed this info on the BioWare forums, confirming it will arrive on two discs on both the PC and Xbox 360. Although he does point out the PC version can install both discs at the beginning, allowing the adventure to be played off a single disc.
The 360 version isn’t so fortunate however, with a disc swap needed halfway through the game, with Priestly promising “it occurs at a carefully planned place in the game (that does not interfere with gameplay) and is done once. You do not swap back and forth. 1 swap and then done.” No big deal really, when you consider games like Final Fantasy IX on the PS1 required four separate discs. Although it does suggest we will see a lot more games in the future arriving on mulitple discs, with Final Fantasy XIII released in March 2010 possibly spanning three discs. [1UP]
Mirror’s Edge hardly set the world alight, but was still a relatively interesting idea, perhaps just implemented rather poorly. EA CEO John Riccitiello still believes the game deserves a sequel, despite EA’s newfound (or re-found) focus on developed and therefore money-making IPs. While he does praise the originals “fascinatingly original world” and “fascinatingly original art direction”, he does recognise the game has its flaws. According to Riccitiello he has had several ‘lively’ debates with the developer regarding the future of the project.
He hints at the possibility of the game adopting a FPS approach, referring to the highly successful FPS market existing today. At the same time he suggests focusing more on the original aspect of the game, emphasizing “the smooth play and puzzles and move it toward, if you will, a Portal.” The sequel is currently in the works, so keep an eye out for new details emerging in the next few months revealing the direction they’ve taken. [Kotaku]
Despite all the hours gamers have invested into World of WarCraft, no-one has officially ‘completed’ the game. Of course this is quite a contradiction, as the game cannot actually be finished. By complete we mean collect every single achievement available in the game, pretty much the closest you’ll ever get to claiming you’ve beaten the game.
Well, a Taiwanese man has apparently achieved this, completing the maximum 986 achievements currently available in the game. Further inspection however reveals a controversial glitch, adding an extra, yet false, achievement point. The man is still missing the BB King event-tied achievement, but still, a fantastic accomplishment nonetheless. [CVG]
Today’s news roundup sees the DSi LL outsell the PSP Go in Japan, confirmation that Far Cry 3 is indeed in development, and BioWare reveal the lamest surprise known to mankind.
The DSi LL is out in Japan, but doesn’t appear to be faring as well as its slimmer cousin. According to Enterbrain the DSi LL managed to sell a still impressive 103,524 units in its first two days on sale, a decent bit behind the original DSi, which managed a whopping 170,000 units.
Makes sense considering the DSi offered a lot more new features at the time than the LL is currently offering, plus the original was the first major upgrade since the DS Lite. Sales of the PSP Go pale in comparison to both, with the machine shifting only 28,000 units in its first day out in Japan. [Kotaku]
Far Cry 3 may have been mentioned previously, but it’s been a long time since Ubisoft has shared anything new. Perhaps now they have decided to keep us up to date, with Ubisoft writer Kevin Short giving the not-so-exciting update that while he isn’t working on Far Cry 3 personally, “I know the team are and what I've seen looks pretty exciting.”
Of course this doesn’t tell anything else about when the game will be released or any other details, but we can assume it will continue to focus on its African setting, with Ubisoft Montreal’s Patrick Redding revealing last summer “There are still things we want to do with the African setting, and I think it's safe to say we'll continue to explore it. That said, we might find something new and compelling about the Antarctic setting that wants us to make the next game there, but honestly, we're still at the preliminary stages.” Hopefully Ubisoft can share more soon. [CVG]
The teased “coming surprise” for Mass Effect 2 that’s been getting fans foaming in the mouth with anticipation has finally been revealed, and boy is it disappointing. According to the Mass Effect 2 Facebook page, the surprise is no more than a, wait for it....website redesign. The latest status update reveals “Heading off to meetings for the rest of the day, so no more ME2 till later this week. Tomorrow's surprise, the revamp to the Mass Effect website, is looking really cool and we hope you like the new layout. Visit the Mass Effect 2 website tomorrow for the new look.” The news really couldn't have been more disappointing if it had tried. [INCGamers]
In Today’s news roundup BioWare tease a surprise Mass Effect 2 announcement is in store for next week, Mozilla FireFox will not be coming to the PS3 as rumours would appear to suggest, and Rare’s plans for a Natal release are cancelled.
Earlier this week BioWare hinted at big news concerning Dragon Age: Origins, revealed to be additional downloadable content. Now according to a tweet left by BioWare, Mass Effect 2 is set for a similar announcement. “Man, so much time tied up today in meetings and 'secret stuff' I didn't get any time with ME2 at all. = (" said BioWare in their Tweet. “Still with the coming surprise for next week on the ME2 website, I'm sure fans will forgive me for no update. Did I, Evil Chris Priestly, just drop a hint? Yes. Yes I did.” With no specifics on exactly what this reveal will be we can only speculate. But we’ll let you know as soon as we find out more. [CinemaBlend]
Rumours have been flying about recently, indicating Sony will be bringing Mozilla FireFox to the PS3, due to ongoing problems with their current web browser. PS3Center decided to find out how much truth these rumours contain, asking Mozilla directly if this was in their plans. Mozilla replied with a short and simple “Nope - not sure how that rumour got started but it's been keeping us busy all day.”
The rumour was fed to the public through an “insider,” who unfortunately has a history of being a little off the mark. The source previously claimed Sony would be revealing a PSP Go price cut, the PS3 Slim with a price cut on older models, new PSN, and firmware 3.0 at last years GamesCon. Considering he (or she?) only got two out of four right, s/he makes a rather poor mole. Especially when everyone on the planet knew of the PS3 Slim a long time before GamesCom. [PS3Center]
Rare were previously thought to be on track for a brand new game come next November, when Project Natal is rumoured for release. The aim was to have the product finished in under a year, but now it appears the game is no longer in development, being abandoned altogether. Given Director Bjorn Toft’s involvement with the game, it was largely believed the game would involve avatars in some way. The blame is placed on the “changing business environment” for the decision, but some good news has also been revealed. Toft has revealed Rare have been working on an undisclosed prototype for nearly a year now, although no details whatsoever have emerged to even suggest what this game is. Hopefully Rare can reveal more soon. [Split-Screen]
This week's Weekend Deal from Steam is Mass Effect at half price, making it just £6.49. Now that the EA online deal I posted about a few weeks back has sadly changed, you can no longer snaffle the game for a paltry £5 and so the Steam deal is the best out there at the moment. For a physical copy of the game for PC, you are looking at spending at least £9.99 and other direct download sites are also selling it for more than the Steam deal. Direct2Drive have it at £14.95 and it is back up to £14.99 at the EA Store.
The year is 2183 and you are Commander Shepard an elite soldier, born and bred in space, no wait, a biologically enhanced fighter born on one of Earth's extrasolar colonies, no, I mean a technical genius hailing from the streets of one of Earth's cities... The fact is you can not only customise your character's appearance and combat style but also pick his or her background and personality type. Your character is on what seems to be a routine mission but all is not what it first appears and quickly Shepard is drawn into a race to save the human race (and their extraterrestrial allies) from extinction.
Mass Effect is great for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the story is excellent and well told and the elements of choice really enrich and personalise the experience. The visuals and the voice acting are both spot on and create a political and physical landscape that you can really believe in. The combat is satisfying and the biotic techniques, in particular, keep things fun and can lead to some very entertaining battles. Sadly the in-vehicle sections can be awkward and frustrating and some of the menu design is counter intuitive and irritating but with so much to recommend this game these are little more than niggles in the grand scheme of things.
Thanks to Cuddy at Hotukdeals!
Today’s news roundup sees Mass Effect 2 confirmed for a January release date, the PSP Go failing to attract support from third parties, and a U.S postal worker manage to swipe $86,000 worth of games.
Mass Effect 2 is sure to be one of next years biggest hits, now with an official release date of January 26th in North America and January 29th in Europe. The game will be simultaneously released on the PC and Xbox 360, unlike the previous Mass Effect forcing PC gamers to wait several months before getting their hands on the game. “Our fans are in for a genuine thrill in the New Year with Mass Effect 2 -- the second installment in the trilogy will be of amazingly high quality," said BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka.
"BioWare's fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting this epic sequel, and we couldn't be more excited to reward them for pre-ordering by delivering some awesome bonus content.” Along with this news two additional pre-order bonus were revealed. The GameStop exclusive bonus offers players the Terminus Armour, and M-490 Blackstorm (a big heavy weapon thing). Pre-ordering elsewhere will net you the slightly inferior Inferno Armour. Expect more Mass Effect 2 news as the release date approaches. [1UP]
The PSP Go may have been out for a few weeks now, but still many new PSP games haven’t made it to the machine. The launch offered gamers many previously released PSP games on the PSN, but reports indicate at least five UMD titles have seen release since the PSP Go came out, but still aren’t available on the machine. Sony has since been demanded for an explanation, claiming that some third parties simply didn’t choose to make their games available for the PSP Go.
“It's up to individual third parties to decide if and when to publish their UMD releases on PSN," said PSN director Eric Lempel. "Most, if not all, are on board, as this is a revenue opportunity for them.” The decision to not make a simultaneous UMD/PSN release compulsory may be a vital one, as along with the PSP Go costing more money, it now seems all PSP games won’t be available to those who own one. [Joystiq]
Criminals do the dumbest things. Reginald Johnson, a former United States postal worker, has confessed to stealing in excess of 2,200 Gamefly packages from customers around Philadelphia. The game thief was caught red-handed during a covert surveillance operation monitoring the mail processing centre where he previously was employed as a truck unloader.
The feds estimate a whopping $86,000 worth of videogames was stole by the 34-year-old between April and September of 2008, a portion of which were handed into the local GameStop, netting him a small fortune in store credit. When Johnson was approached by the agents for arrest, he fled in his SUV, crashing only seconds later where he was captured on foot. All those years of postal training clearly didn’t pay off then. At the time of arrest Johnson had a total of 160 GameFly packages in his possession. He is currently awaiting trial and likely to receive between 12 and 18 months in the slammer for his crimes. [Philly]