Recent news has seen gamers lash out over the launch fiasco surrounding EA’s latest SimCity title. The game requires an always-on internet connection, which meant it broke as soon as it went live as thousands of enthusiastic gamers tried to play at once.
This happened days after Crytek CEO, Cervat Yerli, said, “I think the notion of a single-player experience has to go away.” Instead, he believes there should be more integration with the online world with “online single-player.” So, while keen to plug his upcoming online game, Warface, he’s stupidly kicked his other game -Crysis 3- in the stones. Guess we know why Crysis 2 and 3’s single-player modes can only muster a rental recommendation then.
It shouldn’t surprise you that here at Dealspwn we still think that single player games have a huge part to play in gaming. Yes, titles like Warface and Bungie’s Destiny look set to do great things with online multiplayer. However, as EA have shown recently, internet technology, server competence, a bewildering capacity to underestimate traffic and an astonishing amount of shortsightedness are constant reminders that developers and publishers simply aren’t ready.Click here to read more...
We celebrated the Mario Kart series' twentieth birthday in Europe this week, and marked it with the first in what will hopefully become a semi-regular series of gaming showdowns - pitting the SNES original against its N64 successor. Of course, when it comes to picking a best Mario Kart game (let's face it, the portable ones rock the hardest), the GameCube's instalment - Double Dash - tends to be left out in the cold, having attempted to stuff the franchise with a number of seemingly-superfluous additions, and suffered some rather disappointing lapses when it comes to inventive design.
It says much about the game when the most enjoyable track in the whole thing turned out to be a simple oval. After the excellent driving mechanics exhibited in Super Mario Kart, and the superb track layouts in MK64 afforded by the 3D engine, Double Dash's recourse was to feed more items into the mix, have two characters per kart, and throw as many colourful things into the ideas blender as possible, whilst nixing the hop so favoured by time trial aficionados.
There's an argument to be made that Mario Kart: Double Dash was, to borrow a fellow writer's description, a complete and utter mess.
But mess can be fun. Food fights, mud wrestling, that scene in Zombieland where the protagonists go into that abandoned store and smash everything to pieces. There's a reason why Double Dash was stuck in our Gamecube at uni for years, and that reason was named 'Baby Park'.Click here to read more...
The last few years have given rise to the stereotype that video game protagonists should be male, dark-haired thirtysomethings, with a hint of gravel to lend their voices gravitas, and the hint of some designer stubble to ensure gruff machismo...possibly voiced by Nolan North. But there was a time, back in the glorydays of the venture game, when heroes didn't have to be armed with chain blades, AKs, M4 rifles, dual silver ballers, or a massive scythe . In fact, they didn't have to be armed at all.
Long before the likes of Nathan Drake were delivering throwaway lines following the mass murder of several goons, there was a floppy-haired Yank with a frequently flippant sense of humour saving the world from Templars, Aztec deities, assorted gangsters and drug barons, armed with only a quick wit, an uncanny gift for hide-and-seek, and a seemingly unlimited supply of air miles.
That man is, of course, Broken Sword's George Stobbart.
One can't forget the unnaturally deep pockets too, nor his affinity for disguise. As much at home yanking out a manhole and heading into the sewers as masquerading as a doctor or a hilariously bad jongleur, Mr. Stobbart's best qualities are an undeniable sense of curiosity, and the tenacity of a bloodhound with a scent caught in his nostrils. He's a child of the Nineties - no Wella-styled hair for him, it's all about an early-Beckham mop on top. There are times when Stobbart channels the pithy asides of classic Hugh Grant, albeit without the quintessentially English bumbling.Click here to read more...
When it comes to racing games, there's nearly always at least one track that separates the wheat from the chaff. Though free-for-all arenas such as Double Dash's Baby Park provide frenetic, item-led affairs that see racers switch and swap every second, there are always courses that require concentration and focus, knowing that one slip-up can result in karter and chariot careering helplessly into a sparkling ether.
In the Mario Kart series, that course has always been Rainbow Road.Click here to read more...
Doing this week's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD review got me thinking about some of the other extreme sports titles that have come and gone over the years. Some were great (SSX), other were ok (Shaun White's Snowboarding), and some were absolutely awful. Welcome, BMX XXX!
Buoyed by reaping the profits and cashing in on the burgeoning Xgames market with Dave Mirra's Freestyle BMX series, Acclaim wanted more. Sadly, though, rumour has it that the follow up was shaping up to be utter balls, and so, in an attempt to somehow salvage the nosediving product, reports suggest that the publisher made a decision to throw caution to the wind and transform the game into a raunchy sex comedy.
Developers, take note. This is generally a terrible idea. Especially in an industry that has been unfavourably associated with basements and masturbation. In a toss-up (Risky - Ed.) between making your game better and throwing in some tits, always go for the first option.Click here to read more...
CDPR co-founder Marcin Iwinski believes that many publishers are continually "over-exploiting" us gamers with DLC and monetization schemes... and that this practice will eventually come back to haunt them. Instead, he's struck upon the bizarre notion that, perhaps, developers and publishers should actually treat their fanbase like valued customers, creating "good will" instead of chiselling us at every opportunity.Click here to read more...
Video games have had many villains over the years, but perhaps none so charismatic as Kane - the megalomanical sociopath with an IQ of 192, who calls himself the Messiah and leads the Brotherhood of Nod.
Ah...the Brotherhood of Nod. Fiendishly difficult to define, depending upon who you speak too, and which games you take note of, the Brotherhood is part Abrahamic religion, part multi-national corporation, and part decentralized nation-state...or, indeed, none of these things.
It could, of course, just be an entity designed to fuel Kane's imperialist tendencies, but then he has as vague a past as his cult: reportedly several thousand years old, rumoured to be the original brother of Abel, or indeed an alien from outer space.
Which would make him Xenu. Hmmm....Click here to read more...
Skyrim can feel like a lonely and loveless place sometimes. Despite the abundance of NPCs and followers, it's easy to feel unappreciated and unloved; a solitary wanderer in a hostile and expansive land full of surly individuals. Sure, you can become the head of a guild or a master assassin, but your new friends have to like you - not because of who you are , but because you're their boss. Not to mention that you can kill dragons and eat their souls.
And yet, lovelorn players soon discovered that Skyrim harboured an interesting little secret. Deep in the heart of thief-ridded Riften lurks a priest of Mara, the Goddess of love, from whom you can buy an unassuming little amulet that slightly buffs your Restoration skill. Nothing seems to change once you don this humble trinket... but after a while, everything starts to get a little... weird.
And more than a little sexy.
Yes, the Amulet Of Mara is a fun optional extra in an enormous game, but it's also so much more. It's a powerful narrative device and a shining beacon for the relationship choice in videogames - and it's high time we told you exactly why we love it.
Click here to read more...
It shouldn't have worked. In fact, if one takes statistics into account and appraises the situation from a purely numerical perspective, it didn't. But somehow Nintendo's little purple box of wonders has left an indelible mark on hearts across the globe. It was the little console that, in the end, sadly couldn't. But for the faithful, for those who took the rather inexplicable plunge and sampled it's delights, there was nothing else we'd rather have been playing on.
Looking at Nintendo's practices now - with their last two consoles built and sold on hardware gimmicks and promises rather than stacks of excellent software - the GameCube defies all logic. Indeed, it seemed to defy logic back in May 2002 as well, launching without the ability to play audio CDs or DVDs (instead plumping for the laughably cute mini optical discs), abandoning the N64's trident controller in favour of a dual-analogue approach, there was no backwards compatibility, and it looked ridiculous. It even had a carry-handle!
But it also had some of the best games of its generation.Click here to read more...
As games journalists, there are times to attempt some semblance of detached objectivity, to assert a certain amount of professional control that serves to isolate a critical perspective from the swathes of subjective feeling that come with being a part of the world's most interactive cultural industry.
And sometimes, you just have to say f**k that!
An industry with a discerning, intelligent, and pointedly critical consumer audience, gaming focuses too often on the negative aspects, albeit often with good reason. But when someone comes along and does something right, we should shout about it from the virtual treetops and give credit where credit's due.
I refer, of course, to CD Projekt's recent spring conference, wherein they detailed a myriad of consumer-oriented gifts, bonuses, and giveaway. The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition featured heavily - the free upgrade for existing PC owners, the free digital, DRM-free copy for all purchasers, the 1,000-strong giveaway - as did GOG.com, with the 48-hours fallout freebie up for grabs. The response, as one might expect, was extremely favourable, and rightly so.Click here to read more...
Super Mario 64 was one of the best titles that ever graced the Nintendo 64, in fact it's one of the few cartridges I still regularly find myself plugging into my dusty old console, although you could always download it through your Wii's virtual console to save yourself a trek up to the loft. The platforming action contained within the game is phenomenally good and I'd say it even stands up to those that are out on the market today.
The music that featured in most Nintendo games of this era was amongst the best our ears have ever been treated to in my opinion and this instalment of the Super Mario series is no exception, it's soundtrack captures the light hearted nature of the series that makes it so accessible, yet it also manages to wonderfully complement it's darker moments.Click here to read more!
Blue shells are capable of dragging up both the light and dark side of human emotions in gamers, on the one hand they can produce a feeling of joy that makes an evil smile slowly cross your face as you send them on their way to take out the player who's leading the race, which can be particularly satisfying when that player's one of your friends who fancies themselves as a bit of a Mario Kart legend. On the other hand when you're in the lead and you've broken away from the rest of the pack whilst heading towards almost certain victory, the sound of a blue shell rushing towards you can cause you to take some drastic action whilst screaming a long list of profanities at the screen, which in the majority of cases is utterly futile.Click here to read more!
The topic of this week's Why We Love may well be a divisive one, so let me start off by saying it's not how the Mako was used that I love because lets face it the planetary exploration in Mass Effect was incredibly repetitive, but that doesn't stop the Mako from being a video games vehicle that I love. I realised this whilst playing through Mass Effect yet again at the end of last year as a 'bad' version of Commander Shepard, and when I dragged my new character into Mass Effect 2 I couldn't help but sit back and feel slightly disappointed that I no longer had the little tank at my disposal, yes you get to pilot the Hammerhead but it's just not the same.Click here if you want to read more!
Forget why we love, this is why I love the Three Leaf Clover Mission in GTA IV! I think this is without a doubt the best mission in any video game that I've ever played, but then again I'm completely obsessed with movies and I loved this almost flawless homage to Michael Mann's Heat. By the time you get to this mission, you've already started to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld in Liberty City and you're starting to get a bit cocky, so when you hear you're on your way to a pretty big heist you can't help but think, "I've got plenty of guns, some guys to back me up, and there's probably a pretty quick getaway vehicle nearby, so how hard can this be?"Click here to relive this action masterpiece!
The Darkness is an incredibly underrated game, but if you've played it chances are that you've fallen in love with it for a plethora of reasons ranging from generally terrorising your enemies from the shadows, blasting them across the environment with a pair of elaborate pistols, unleashing a set of supernatural powers to rip anybody in your way to shreds, and lastly sending out some ghoulish little creatures to cause a bit of chaos!Click here to read more...
These days, the bulk of our attention is focused on the biggest titles slated for the PS3 and Xbox 360; the big boys on gaming campus who have the graphical grunt and online infrastructure to support the increasingly shiny, detailed and violent videogame experiences that we so desperately crave. The PC receives its fair share of visual powerhouses and innovative indie experiences alike, becoming the platform of choice for those who love to game without compromise.
However, in terms of sales - and in terms of precedent - one console beat them all. The Wii did so without directly competing with Microsoft and Sony, instead creating its very own niche and exploiting that most under supported of demographics: absolutely everyone in the world. Not only has Nintendo's console delivered some of the most imaginative games of this generation... but it redefined what it means to be a gamer. It's certainly not better than any other console, but it isn't designed to replace or supplant them. The Wii is incredibly important, possibly more so than any other console in videogame history.
We love an underdog here at Dealspwn. Allow me to explain exactly why.
We currently live in an age where the word "gamer" is losing its relevance, an era where literally anyone can enjoy our favourite hobby and artistic medium regardless of age, gender or ability. The rise of apps and mobile gaming certainly has a lot to answer for, but it was the Wii that originally proved that everyone can be a gamer. That everyone is a gamer.Click here to continue reading our salute to the Wii...
First of all, a qualifying statement.
We're all for the metaphor of not growing up, of holding onto wide-eyed childlike innocence, with some of the finest examples of art across a myriad of media having dealt with the search for wonder in an adult life of jaded cynicism, lamenting the loss of innocence and the purity of childhood joy. Pieces like Peter Pan, Never Let Me Go, Forrest Gump, Toy Story, Lord of the Flies...these are all examples of art that deals with the loss of innocence. The most successful, the most worthy, often deal with that loss and set about finding a way of recapturing it, with the conflicts and complications of adult life thrown in to provide some obstacles on the way there. Should the piece be a comedy, in the broadest sense of the phrase, a happy ending more often than not sees a reaffirmation of the importance of having a youthful heart at the very least.
When Robin Williams rediscovers that he can fly in Hook, for example, we cheer and smile. Here is another middle aged man, dressed all in green, frolicking about in forests with fairies. But we accept it. The Boy Who Never Grew Up has grown up and been lost, but his return heralds a change of heart in him, and sets the ending up for (SPOILERS) a reassessment of his relationship with his family. Peter Pan's return to Neverland reawakens the child within, a change that he takes back with him to his 'real' life acknowledging that he now has the responsibilities of an adult, but assuaged by the new knowledge that one can still be, indeed one still should be, young at heart.
This is not something we get from observing a rotund, middle-aged mercenary creeping about the place, pretending to be a fairy, selling directions to kids.Click here to read more...
Carl and I had a chat the other day about video game composers, with an eye towards creating a list of the best for one of our Tuesday top ten lists. We have since realised the impossibility of that task. There are simply too many outstanding soundtracks out there, in too many different styles, from the sweeping, majestic scores of Final Fantasy to the tense, discord of Dead Space. Could composers with one fantastically scored game to their name outmuscle those with a consistently strong track record, if lacking an triple-A stunner? And what of the difference in styles between East and West? Could we sub-divide by genre?
Every previous list we looked over had glaring omissions. Every time we thought we'd reached a conclusion, another name was remembered. We were utterly stumped.
But one name was always a shoe-in...Click here to find out why we love Koji Kondo...
Picture the scene. You're a lone, beleagured mercenary on his way back from a dangerous mission. You've spent all of your ammunition, used all of your bandages and are barely able to keep putting one foot in front of the other. A meagre reward and scant praise await you back at base... but in your way lies a towering railway bridge. Several soldiers patrol the road below; and without money to bribe them, they'll surely cut you to ribbons with their superior firepower before you land your first shot. Unfortunately, the only other way through is a cramped tunnel that courses with crackling electrical anomalies. A single misstep will result in instant death.
It's the devil's own choice... but then then you spot something out of the corner of your eye. A patch of sky where there should be a barbed wire fence. Hoping beyond hope, you heave yourself up the embankment with your last ounce of strength... and there, as a single ray of light in your bleak and hopeless adventure, is a gap in the fence. You'll be home soon.
If you haven't worked it out already, I'm referring to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow Of Chernobyl... but I don't really love the gap itself. Rather, I love what it represents: meaningful choice and roughing it.
Click here to discover what Jon's driving at >>
Mortal Kombat's been out for a couple of weeks now and I have to say I'm LOVING it! Whilst sitting back on the sofa and pummelling my opponents into the ground in order to get to a delightful fatality, I started t0 think about my favourite characters in the series, the ones who I've also gotten a thrill out of taking into the ring since the very first instalment of the series. The two who stand out the most for me are Scorpion and Sub-Zero, sure Liu Kang and Johnny Cage can be fun in small doses, but I've always revelled in besting an opponent with the cool blue ninja and the resurrected yellow clad warrior. Also, lets not forget that both are wrapped up in a rather heavy storyline with one another.
I'll get things rolling by casting my gaze over my time with Sub-Zero. He's the first character in any fighting game that I bothered to learn all the moves for, mainly because I loved tormenting my friends as a kid by freezing them in place, laughing, and then knocking away a fair chunk of their health with a perfectly timed uppercut. To be honest though all of his moves are cool (pardon the pun), whether you're quickly sliding into your enemy's side, freezing the ground beneath their feet, or creating an ice clone to catch an unsuspecting opponent off guard, saving your skin for a few seconds.Click here to read the rest of Tom's MK love-in...