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]
Today’s news roundup sees Miyamoto hint at high-definition coming to Nintendo, Rumours of Mass Effect 2 coming to the PS3, and Microsoft claim Sony’s stronger September sales are no reason to worry.
Recent comments from Shigeru Miyamoto seem to suggest Nintendo are finally ready to embrace HD. “I don't think there's anything wrong with pretty graphics, and if I'm a consumer that has an HDTV, I'd want to be able to play my games with nice graphics too,” said Miyamoto. “And I think as we've seen the penetration rates for HDTV increase, we're going to see video games and Nintendo's games move along in step with the progression of technology.”
Nintendo’s philosophy has always been to focus on gameplay first, but with these comments it looks like Nintendo are finally ready to give in to peoples demands for high-definition. Although Miyamoto still claims “we're still going to focus on the gameplay, but we'll take advantage of the technology as it comes out.” [IndustryGamers]
During a presentation of Mass Effect 2 at this year’s Poznan Game Arena in Poland, Jay Vatamanyuk of BioWare let slip the possibility of Mass Effect 2 on the PlayStation 3. The presentation highlighted three platforms the game is intended for; the Xbox 360, the PC, and “probably PS3” according to Vatamanyuk.
Upon realizing the impact of what he said, Vatamanyuk declined to comment, claiming they “do not comment on rumours or speculation,” even if they were the ones that started it. For now, this will have to remain in the rumour pile, but it will at least give Sony fans some hope they’ll see Mass Effect on their machine. [Polygamia]
With the September NPD numbers due shortly, it’s pretty much guaranteed Sony will coming out top. Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg even agrees, although he claims it’s a small victory for Sony. “I can tell you that when NPD releases September sales later today, we fully expect PlayStation 3 will come in as the console with the most units sold for the month," he said.
"This is frankly not a real surprise to us ... as it is typical to see a short term bump following the introduction of new hardware and pricing into the marketplace. What I can tell you is we remain confident that Xbox 360 will not only outsell PS3 for the full calendar year, but for this entire generation." He compares the console race to a game of baseball, claiming winning just one inning won’t win you the game. For those of us who don’t live in baseball world it sounds like he’s not too worried. [GameInformer]
Okami may yet get a sequel if a recently trademarked name by Capcom is anything to go by in today’s news. Other news looks at Bayonetta introducing a “Very Easy Automatic” mode that allows the game to be played with one finger, Mass Effect receiving the Pinnacle Station DLC, and the PSP version of GTA: Chinatown Wars seeing a release date.
Clover studios may not be around anymore, but rumours of an Okami sequel have been circulating due to a recently filed trademark. The name “Okamiden” is the trademark in question coming from Okami publisher Capcom. Speculation suggests this may a shortened version of “Okami Gaiden” or “Okami Densetsu”.
These ideas are further backed up by the Japanese habit of shortening words (Pokémon for example). Okami may not have sold enough to warrant a sequel, and when the game was ported to the Nintendo Wii sales weren't as high as they would like. Still Okami was a highly critically acclaimed game, deserving of a sequel and more recognition, so hopefully Capcom can confirm these rumours soon. [Siliconera]
Bayonetta decides to make life easier on gamers, introducing a “Very Easy Automatic” mode that basically plays the game for you. Director Hideki Kamiya refers to it as “Mommy Mode” when he recently showed off the mode on the official website. “Yep. This is the power of Automatic. Automatic can be used on Easy and Very Easy difficulties, and leaves the most complex controls up to the CPU” said Kamiya.
Apparently to play the game only a single button has to be pressed, the punch button. The game will put your character in the perfect position to attack, while unleashing combos. Pushing the punch button will allow you to dodge. Kamiya considers automatic mode to be “a helping hand from an incredibly skilled expert in the game.” Bayonetta should be out in January. [1UP]
When the Switzerland official Xbox 360 website revealed the new Mass Effect downloadable content “Pinnacle Station” before anyone else, it was seen as a bit of a premature move. Well, it turns out they weren’t so hasty after all. Pinnacle Station is now available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Offering two or three hours of gameplay, the DLC is available for 400 Microsoft points as expected, letting you play 13 different battle scenarios.
The PSP port of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars will see release on October 20th according to RockStar Games’ official Twitter feed. Whether or not this release date applies to just America or Europe as well, is unconfirmed. The GTA that was originally only available on the DS will be available as a UMD for the original PSP and a digital download for the PSP GO, that couldn’t even take a UMD if it wanted to.
Chinatown wars received great reviews, but didn’t manage to sell as well as expected. The GTA games on the PSP have seen great success, so the idea of a port makes sense. The confusing part is how the touch screen controls and inferior DS graphics will translate to the PSP, but hopefully Rockstar will have answers soon. [GameSpot]
Microsoft defend their extraordinary failure rate in today’s news roundup. In other news, Gran Turismo 5 looks set for a late 2009 release date, the Mass Effect DLC is prematurely revealed, and Nintendo come up with their own plan to counter Sony’s PSP Minis.
Following the report that the Xbox 360 holds an incredible 54.6% failure rate, Microsoft has intervened offering an official statement. “Microsoft stands behind the Xbox 360 as a superior entertainment console with one of the best warranties in the industry,” said a Microsoft representative. “We are constantly improving the design, manufacture and performance of the console through extensive testing of potential sources of any problems. Xbox 360 is pleased to maintain the title of 'most played console' and the vast majority of Xbox 360 customers have enjoyed a terrific gaming and entertainment experience since their first day, and continue to, day in and day out.”
Although they boast their console provides “superior entertainment” and holds the title of the “most played”, they don’t mention the numbers themselves, nor do they dispute them, or provide their own figures. Back in February 2008 Microsoft claimed their failure rate was a low 3% - a far cry from the 54.6% gathered by a third party (and therefore not influenced by Microsoft). Still it’s important to remember 54.6% may not be a reliable figure either, but anywhere near that is still frighteningly high. [TGDaily]
Gran Turismo 5’s pending 2009 release date seems all but confirmed thanks to an official brochure handed out at GamesCom last week. According to the Brochure “The Ultimate Racing Game Returns” with a release date of “4th Quarter of 2009.” The game boasts over 1000 cars to race with, offering new NASCAR and WRC championships, so you better hope this brochure is accurate if you hope to play Gran Turismo 5 this year. [GTPlanet]
The Swiss Xbox site may have jumped the gun when it revealed the upcoming Mass Effect DLC. Rumours have been circulating for a while now, but confirmation from an official source is pretty undisputable. The content is named “Pinnacle Station”, costing 400 Microsoft Points according to the listing. Set on a “remote, top-secret space station” the content will feature 13 battle scenarios, offering roughly 2-3 hours of gameplay. No release date has been confirmed but couldn’t be too far off. [EuroGamer]
Following Sony’s announcement of PSP Minis - Bitesized downloadable games available for cheap prices – Nintendo have countered with their own strategy to match this. Nintendo is setting up a similar DsiWare initiative in an attempt to attract more indie game makers, who can make smaller games for cheaper prices.
To facilitate this, Nintendo will charge developers different royalty rates based on the size of their games, which will affect prices. A game selling for 500 Nintendo points for example would have to be smaller than 20MB, similar to Sony’s 1000MB limit for Minis. Nintendo haven’t confirmed when this will be set in motion, but given their position in the handheld market it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. [PocketGamer]
Final Fantasy XIV is held up on the Xbox 360 due to issues between Square Enix and Xbox Live, in today’s news roundup. In other news, Mass Effect 2 won’t suffer the same problems as its predecessor as the frame-rate is locked to 30FPS, the Xbox 360 outsells the PS3 in Japan, and Borderlands has DLC already in the works.
Final Fantasy XIV will be hitting the Xbox 360 at some point, despite no official announcement. Producer Hiromichi attributed discussions with Microsoft for the delay. “For FFXIV, because 360 has its own policy with Xbox Live that is different from [the] internet, that's something we're in discussions with Microsoft [about], to come to an agreement," he said. “That's one of the reasons it's not going to be launched [simultaneously].”
Back at E3 Sony announced Final Fantasy XIV will be a PS3 exclusive, before Square contradicted this revealing it will be coming to other platforms. Whatever the case, it looks like Final Fantasy XIV will be receiving a short window of exclusivity on the PS3 before Microsoft get their hands on it. [VG247]
Mass Effect was released in 2007 to much critical acclaim and praise. But amongst this, there was the occasional complaint of problematic framerates and lengthy load times, something that won’t be an issue in Mass Effect 2. “If you look at most good shooters, they lock down frame-rate at 30 FPS. We've done the same thing. Bam. Everything's 30 FPS, streaming is fixed up,” said associate producer Jesse Houston.
“If you remember in Mass 1, if you took a step backwards and you hit a weird stream and it'd pause for a moment. We've done away with that. What you're seeing here is pulled straight from the game”. Mass Effect 2 will see an early 2010 release on the Xbox 360 and PC, without any “weird streams” hopefully. [VG247]
The Xbox 360 isn’t a big deal in Japan. Its main aim seems to be avoiding last place in the hardware charts along with the much older and less powerful PS2. The news that the 360 managed to pummel the PS3 saleswise comes as quite a surprise. August 10th to 16th marked a week where the 360 managed to sell an impressive 9,162 units while the PS3 trailed behind with only 5,944 units sold.
Obviously these figures are a long way off to putting the consoles in reach of the DSi (87,936 units sold) and the Wii (47,732 units sold) but they are exciting from Microsoft’s viewpoint at least. Strangely, the sudden surge in sales doesn’t seem to be inspired by anything in particular. No new software for Microsoft has made an impact in Japan this week or any in recent memory. Perhaps Bill Gates went into Japan and bought 9,000 360s just to get one up on Sony? Or perhaps it's much more likely that Japanese consumers are holding off until the arrival of the PS3 Slim. [GameSpot]
Downloadable content is pretty much a necessity with any big-name release nowadays, and the sooner, the better. This is something Gearbox president Randy Pitchford hopes to take advantage of with Borderlands, announcing, “people are going to be surprised when they find out how quickly we're coming” with the DLC.
“We're going to watch and see what happens when the game launches, so we can have our plans affected by what our customers want more of” said Pitchford. Gearbox are currently working on “plans for the initial stuff”, which will be announced soon, but are waiting for fan feedback before deciding exactly where to take the DLC. Pitchford claims Borderlands is the “best we’ve ever done” and is headed for an October 23rd release date. [Eurogamer]
Today we look at the leaked Xbox Live preview update which is due to be officially released on August 11th which has been leaked and is available now. Also we look at the newly released Gran Turismo PSP Box Art and finally we find out one game that will definitely be released on launch day of Xbox’s Games on Demand Service.
The latest Xbox live preview update has been leaked and various reports are coming in that users will still be able to get onto Xbox Live even if they were not invited to update their systems to this latest update. Once an individual downloads and installs the update, Live will not be connected to automatically, instead users will have to first connect manually to Xbox Live. However please note that to install at our own risk. Hit the link for more info. [justpushstart]
The box art of the soon to be released Gran Turismo PSP will feature a Corvette ZR1. After arguably better alternatives such as a Ferrari Enzo or a Pagani Zonda, Gran Turismo creator and cult legend Kazunori Yamauchi decided that having visited “the Big 3” in Detroit, being around those muscle cars just made him happy and so he decided to feature the Corvette ZR1 on the box art. Hit the link for the full box art. [gtplanet]
On the official Mass Effect 2 twitter page it has been revealed that "T-minus 11: Mass Effect hits Xbox live in 11 days!" As the Games on Demand service launches on August 11th it seems that Mass Effect will be available to purchase at Launch. [cinemablend]
More details regarding the plot of the upcoming Asteroids movie are revealed in today’s news roundup. In other news a new Xbox 360 model is potentially revealed, and more details are given on the incredibly ambitious Mass Effect 2.
An Asteroids movie has been confirmed for a while, and now a few plot details have emerged. Lornezo di Bonaventura, producer of the upcoming film said “it's funny because people say there's nothing in the game, but that's not entirely right. I was attracted to Asteroids, plain and simple, because I think what it tells you is that there's going to be this big thing in space”.
Bonaventura went on to say “We've crafted a really strong, deep mythology for the thing. Without divulging too much about it, it's two lead characters -- two brothers -- who have to go through a seminal experience to figure out their relationship, against this huge backdrop”. Deep indeed. Bonaventura also wants to honour the fun of Asteroids by making sure the movie better have “some guys in spaceships blowing stuff up”. Making sure to honour the hardcore fanbase that doesn’t even exist. [IGN]
A recent news blog on Graphics programmer Ryan Geiss’ website has lead to speculation on the confirmation of a new Xbox 360 model. "I can finally disclose that I'm one of the core developers of the human-tracking algorithms for Project Natal, bringing full-body motion control the Xbox 360+” said Geiss in his post.
That tiny little + sitting next to Xbox 360 is apparently proof that a new model of the 360 is on its way, titled Xbox 360+ or plus. The plus could easily be written off as a typo, but unlikely considering the shift key needs to be held down for a +. More details are sure to follow. [XboxEvolved]
Lead producer of Mass Effect 2 Casey Hudson explained in a bit more detail how much decisions, both big and small, made in the original Mass Effect can affect your adventure in Mass Effect 2. "When you're playing the first game, everything that you do is setting a variable so that as the story progresses we know that you did a certain thing on a certain planet, and then internal to the game, we can reference those things," explained Hudson. "Your Mass Effect save game contains all of that information. When you import it into Mass Effect 2, now we can continue mining all that information”.
Hudson went on to further explain “Anytime we have a plot or a character or situation in Mass Effect 2, we think about what you did, potentially, in the first game that might affect said plot or character or situation in the second”. It all sounds incredibly ambitious, choices can affect choices that affect other choices, relationships with other characters can depend upon seconds of dialogue in the first game, and if Bioware can pull it off it will be something pretty incredible. [PCWorld]