Latest Articles (Page 1710)

  • Image for C&C: Exposition Wars

    To placate angry fans, Command & Conquer 3's Executive Producer (now there's a title which, in film-land at least, means nothing, apart from 'gets to swim in all the money') Mike Verdu has posted on the official forums apologising for inconsistencies in the game's plot in context to the C&C 'universe', and pledging to fix them ASAP.

    The degree to which men can obsess over insignificant details fascinates me at the best of times (though admittedly, I'm just as bad, being able to name what year each of the 50-odd versions of Optimus Prime was released in off the top of my head). But complaining about inconsistencies in perhaps the most deliberately silly RTS of all time? I honestly can't believe there's guys who take its plot seriously. You're supposed to laugh at it - I did. Man, I really enjoyed C&C 3 for its over-the-top ease and big, happy dumbness, but anal trolls taking it too seriously makes me wonder if I was looking at it entirely wrong.

    Oh, and the kind of stuff they're bitching about? "A video briefing sequence in C&C 3 identifies the date as 2028, but that is inconsistent with the 2030 date set out in TS: Firestorm." Glad you're putting your passion for protest into a worthy cause, guys.

  • Dungeon Runners, from NC Soft, is free. Or it costs £2.50/month to play it properly. Which is still incredibly cheap. And it's remarkably fun. I review it with real words over at EG.

    At first glance, and perhaps second, third and fourth, it's impossible to see Dungeon Runners as anything other than a derivative of World of Warcraft. The completely free (well, we'll come to that in a bit) MMO seems to be going out of its way to ape the 9 million selling behemoth. Everything - from the fonts used to the colour-coding of the drops to the quest window design - appears to be designed to be familiar. However, with comparatively shoddy graphics, jagged controls, and an immediately obvious miniscule scale, this all seems to be shooting itself in the level 23 boot.

    That's until you play it for a bit. At the fifth glance, Dungeon Runners is, against all likelihood, a spoof of the MMO genre. NC Soft, one of the big players in the online world with City of Heroes, Lineage and the forthcoming Tabula Rasa, are taking a cheeky dig at the trend that's brought them riches. And oddly, it works.

  • Here at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, we received an email from someone calling themselves 'DefinitelyFromBlizzardHonest', telling us what will be announced at BlizzCon next week.

    There have been rumours flying for a while that Blizzard were to be announcing a new expansion pack for WoW, but because a stranger sent us an email, we're able to post a news story detailing massively exciting new things.

    The sequel to World of Warcraft is to be called World of Warcraft 2: Watery Warriors.

  • Image for Sky Biff

    Like almost everyone I know I've spent too many hours capturing large red or white circles in the World In Conflict Beta. There's something particularly compulsive about trying to hold a small area on your own, while the rest of your team mills about across the battlefield, attacking the enemy without rhyme or reason. I particularly like playing as infantry and fortifying a position as best I can, fending off tank attacks and napalm deluges with my tiny soldiers. Initially I thought that playing as infantry was the very worst option, but now I understand completely that in fact it is helicopters that are actually the least interesting option. If you want to challenge your tactical self, then you need to be support or infantry.

    What I think WiC does, aside from create a palpable “battlefield” atmosphere, is allow you to feel like you can influence the battle outside of your direct area of control. Even if you can't get units to an area that's in trouble, the tactical support allows you to call in artillery or airstrikes to help out.

  • Check out this video in which an academic physicist discusses (with some surprise and awe) the physics systems demonstrated in a homebrew vehicle simulation, Rig Of Rods.

    The actual system, which includes absurdly realistic elements such as chassis bending on large vehicles, can be found here. I don't believe there's any games using this level of physics yet, but I don't suppose it'll be long before someone picks it up. The blog for Rig Of Rods has gone quiet - a tell tale sign that its author has bigger things to worry about?

  • Image for Bloody Mess

    "Every time I yank a jawbone from a skull and ram it into an eyesocket, I know I'm building a better future." So Bender from Futurama, in the guise of a biker vamp, informs me as to how he thinks the world's problems should be solved. Ah, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Truly, you are the last of your kind. I no longer think you're one of the finest, however.

    Noting that yet another fan-made patch was out for the infamously broken swansong of that RPG/FPS hybrid genre awkwardly known as the immersive sim (unless you count Oblivion, which was a sort of waterered-down, action-only approach to the same concept), I've decided to revisit it. Despite slightly too fiercely defending it at the time against those who deemed it no classic because of the sheer weight of bugs, spelling mistakes and mindless combat in its twilight third, I never quite finished Bloodlines. I realised the shift from a game built on conversation, persuasion and seduction to one built on fists and knives and guns was an absolute one, so I stopped, with the story unresolved and my character not yet at the height of his dark abilities. I'd had my brainy fun, and I was grateful for it.

    These were, you understand, dark times.

  • I seem to recall having a conversation with someone (I believe it was John Smith, executive producer of Lego Star Wars) about whether it would be appropriate to have Lego Nazis. It seems that's no longer a concern.

  • Image for Armageddin' Outta Here

    RPS friend and Creative Assembly minion James Carey has spent the past few years being obsessed with PC soldier sims - first Operation Flashpoint and then its direct sequel (as opposed to indirect sequel, Operation Flashpoint 2. which was recently announced by Codemasters but won't be developed by Bohemia) Armed Assault. Over the last few months Carey has been teased a bit by me and others as he creates war scenarios, mods parachutes and "goes on maneuvers" with his weekend war chums.

    Carey was therefore pleased to be able to demonstrate that his own obsession with the super-accurate war games were as nothing compared to some of his militarist colleagues. Below is a picture of one Arma fan's setup. Click the image for full size.

    Insane? Or actually what most gamers want? I already own three PCs, two screens and a laptop. Something like this is the logical conclusion. Right? (I tell you, when I win the lottery there's going to be a picture of my neon-and-Leopard skin penthouse games cinema plastered across the entire internet.)

  • Image for Staring Into The Sun: Transformers

    Well, I hope Alec will be eating humble pie over his denouncing of the new Transformers game. I read on The Sun's website that the game deserves 81%! Alec, the shame.

    Let's analyse this critical masterpiece, mostly for the benefit of my formerly esteemed collegue so he can learn where he went so horribly wrong. It begins:

    WHAT’S THE STORY? I'm declaring an interest now as a big fan of the Transformer cartoon series from the 80s.

  • An ex-Rockstar employee, Jeff Williams, chose this week to write about his experiences working at the company, blogging some interesting details about his time on the inside.

    Apparently things were sordid from the very start. Well, in some sense.

    "They didn't believe in cubes," Jeff explains. "Ok, I understand that. But they didn't apparently believe in air either. Or cleanliness."

  • Image for Shoot You, Sir

    It's been a while since an online first-person shooter has consumed all of my attention. That's probably going to change. There are two reasons for this. One is called Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and the other is called Unreal Tournament 3.

    Quake Wars will be the first of these we'll be getting stuck into later this year. No confirmed release date, but the ongoing private beta suggests it can't be too far away. It's also the only one of the two (so far) that I've been fortunate enough to see first hand. There's all kinds of reasons to be excited about this game, not least because the team that are making it are the epitome of excited, obsessed gamers. Splash Damage has hired from the modding community, and was originally born of the modding community, but they've also had Id Software as their technical support and Activision as their sugar-daddy. It's not a recipe to be sniffed at.

    As for the game itself, well, the asymmetric factions fighting on asymmetric maps makes for a unusual yet somehow entirely familiar experience. While people talk about how it's like Battlefield in its overall vision and execution, the level of polish and design-insight makes Battlefield look quite clumsy. This is a game made by people who know what they want to see on an FPS screen. The HUD is perfect, and the vehicle controls can flipped instantly between realistic physics and vital newbie-friendly softness. This is a game of options and solidity.

  • Image for Getting Medieval

    I meant to post this before I jetted off to the US for a while. It's a report on my initial impressions of Medieval: Total War - Kingdoms, which may be of interest to humans.

    I'll confess that I didn't actually give the original game as much of my attention as I'd have liked. I wasn't commissioned to review it, so couldn't give it any of my professional time and there was so much else around that was genuinely new, returning to an old friend like a Total War games was relatively down my list. Which is a shame - and serves me right. Getting stuck into the add-on pack is a startling experience, and that it doesn't include any Carthaginians doesn't stop me loving it.

    That aside, it's interesting to note that Medieval II was the first time in the Total War series which it wasn't determinedly pushing onwards. No matter what your particularly favourite is - and there's an argument that the less-units in Shogun leads to an increased purity to the actual game, rather than wrestling with dozens of very similar unit types - there was an actual step forward every time in the road from Shogun to Medieval to Rome. The advances in Medieval II are relatively sleight, a matter of approach and polish rather than a fundamental change.

  • Image for B.E.T.T.E.R.

    Some dude's painstakingly coded replacement pixel shaders for the entirety of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Apparently it improves the buggy-but-brilliant FPS's both performance and appearance. So well, in fact, that it's to be a part of the next official patch. Clicky the below to embiggen and admire this fan-made handiwork.

    I've always maintained that, as well as porn and pictures of cats, the entire internet is built upon the kindness of strangers - strangers who, for free, make mods, and fixes, even those who risk jailtime by sharing forgotten gaming wonders with people they don't know. It's great to see one of those kind strangers receiving powerful thanks - hopefully it's the start of a long and lucrative career in games development for this JJ Walker fellow.

  • Image for Dwarf Balloonists In Saga Online

    PC game developers seem to have an increasing amount of faith in the 'free' MMO model, as we're seeing with the likes of Maple Story and Dungeon Runners. It's even being employed in the development of Saga by Wahoo Studios, which is an online persistent “massive” strategy, set in fantasy realms.

    The idea behind Saga is that players will undergo quests against NPC nations, but also fight each other in a struggle for land and honour in an online world. They'll pay for this either in the time they spend grinding away at the game, or in the extra soldiers they choose to pay for with real world cash. Wahoo are counting on their players wanting to command grand armies in the defence of their realms to pay for the game's ongoing upkeep and development – and you can see why that would appeal. Being able to spend a tenner to get yourself the mother of all monster hordes (or just a few quid to get that top-of-the-range dragon) has a certain appeal to it.

    The vision that Saga creates is quite startling: trade between nations, with all the attendent politicking and back-stabbing that such things entails. Then there are the vast fantasy armies, the favour of the gods, and the city-building. You can't exactly decry its ambition. (I particularly like that you can have dwarves hanging from balloons and taking potshots at enemy units with a flintlock pistol).

  • Image for Optimus Crime

    I'm preaching to the converted I'm sure, but whatever you do, do not buy, play or even pirate the Transformers game. It's no worse on PC than any other platform, but it is quite astonishingly dreadful. Part of the reason for this I lay not at the feet of the developers (Travellers Tales, best-known for the diminishingly excellent Lego Star Wars series, but in fact with a history of horrific licensed titles behind them) but at the nature of the game.

    Given its cast is, in the movie, demonstrated to be more or less invincible except at set-piece moments, the game has a hell of an albatross-o-con around its neck. It needs to devise something that sufficiently challenges the player without making them feel like they're not, in fact, a giant robot but are instead just another action game character with a health bar, who just happens to be 50 foot tall.

    I'm not convinced that, at least whilst at the technological point the current generation of games hardware clings to, Travellers Tales has a lot of options on that front. Having to get Bumblebee to /exactly/ this spot within /exactly/ 30 seconds or the game ends is a horrible horrible horrible disappointment for anyone wanting big stompy robot kicks, but I understand why that was deemed a better choice than just making him as weak as John Q. ThirdPersonActionAdventure. There's a reason so many licensed games are as inspid as they are, and it's because of the restrictive nature of their brainless blockbuster source material and its immortal heroes. Incidentally, the reason the Transformers PS2 game a few years back did work well was because its approach was entirely different - no cities, no people, just one robot versus thousands. Without humans, there was no sense of being gigantic, so the brain happily settled into playing a standard but polished action-platform game.

  • Image for Hey, it's the Universe At War Beta

    The chaps from Petroglyph have reached that vital testing stage of development with their new RTS, Universe At War: Earth Assault. You can sign up for the closed beta here, and I recommend you do so, because from what I saw earlier in the year this could be one of the most entertaining strategy games of 2007. Hopefully there will be an open beta to follow.

    The Petroglyph team, who previously made the fairly average Star Wars: Empire At War, have let the juice of game-glands flow freely on this one. It's feels colourful and slightly crazed. The scene is set by three alien races invading Earth, each one with its own concept and base-building methodology. Universe At War just seems to be dripping in ideas – stuff like the varied resource gathering could make for some fascinating tactics. The bio-invader aliens, for example, hoover up cows and people for their organic resources, while the robotic aliens need raw metallic materials from cars and other technological devices. You might find yourself defending a herd of cattle to fend off your enemy's advances, or staking out a car park to ambush the robotic harvesters.

    There's a strong whiff of the Starcraft asymmetric conflict going on, as well as some of the character and silliness of the Command & Conquer series. Petroglyph are all veterans of the Command & Conquer games, so we can expect the kind of polish and ease of play that you find in those games. While Empire At War seemed a bit stiff and constrained by the Star Wars licence, here the development team are clearly enjoying themselves, and just pouring whatever seems funny or entertaining into the game world. There's a sense of excitement in playing it that I've not felt elsewhere for quite some time. It really knows this is a game, and the mercenary sharkmen and titanic walker-robots really testify to that.

  • Image for MMO Kidnapping

    China View reports on Brazilian gang crime (for some reason) informing us that a top Brazilian MMO player was kidnapped for his Gunbound account:

    Brazilian Police arrested a gang on Tuesday that kidnapped the top scorer of online game GunBound in order to force him to transfer his gaming account to them. The player, whose identity has been kept secret, was the owner of the account with the highest score in the online game GunBound, developed and maintained by South Korea's Softnyx, and distributed in Brazil by OnGame.

    That's right, Gunbound, the cutesy online Anime shooter - like a shooty version of Maple Story, I suppose.

  • Image for Whose Orc Is It Anyway?

    Confused. Trying to play two MMOs at once really divides a man's loyalties, not to mention totally messes with his ability to memorise hotkeys. My muscle memory is going haywire, tapping controls that do nothing or inadvertantly cause the usage of some precious potion I'd been saving for an emergency.

    I'll have to be brief about both MMOs, as one I'm under NDA for, the other I'm writing about for other taskmasters. Both deserve a few words, however. The latter is Sword of the New World, aka Granado Espada, which usually sounds like Granny Spaniel when I try and speak it aloud. It's one of those Korean grind-centric MMOs even the most determined of games journos run a mile from. I was tricked into reviewing it by an editor pretending he thought it was an RTS. Actually, I've had fun, as it's really spectacularly silly despite the inherent repetition. You control a party of three soft-focus anime-fantasy characters - in fact with a well-realised Spanish colonial twist here - rather than the usual one, and to compensate on-screen enemies number in the dozens.You can kill a hundred beasts in five minutes.

    But that's enough semi-critique - what I wanted to point out was that Gammy Spagetti can be played for free, right now, from here. Only for the first 20 character levels (though you can keep playing even after that, it's just you won't level any further), then you have to subscribe. I've a sneaking suspicion those 20 levels are all anyone really needs from this game, and at any rate there's a good 10 or so hours of happyfuntime there. It's more entertaining than these things possibly have any right to be - take a look.

  • Image for An Island In The Fun

    The Far Cry 2 teaser site is up and running. You can click on the trees and birds fly off! Man, I'm sold. I haven't been this excited about a semi-interactive picture of an African vista since I don't know when.

    Yeah, this site is a 'teaser' in the sense that it's really not offering us anything, while at the same time making furtive suggestions about things it might want to reveal later on. Filthy creature! No real information, nothing concrete to go on, and elsewhere all we can dig up is some press release info containing random warble about AI or something. Oh, it also mentions this is a Ubisoft Montreal production, rather than a Crytek (original Far Cry studio) game. They're busy, you see.

    "Far Cry marked the beginning of a new era for shooters. An era of gorgeous graphics and of advanced artificial intelligence,” declared Tony Key, vice president of marketing at Ubisoft. "We are confident that Far Cry 2 will have the same impact again on the FPS genre landscape.”

  • Image for YOU WILL NOT EVER BE DEBTLESS

    Wise, wise words.

    While clearly I can't match Jim's Rose & Camellia from yesterday (though I can beat Jim's progress at the game itself - he only got to the maid, whilst I beat down the enormous Medusa Woman who descended from the skies for slap-vengeance) I can at least provide a piece of net-game strangeness that's somewhere in the same league.

    It's called Game, Game, Game and again Game (with the subtitle "or belief systems are small clumsy rolling-type creatures") and was created by one Jason Nelson. It can be best described as a collision between Manic Miner and mid-period Radiohead CD Covers. And it can be played here. It's a series of single-screen platform games with a strong glitch-aesthetic, the level getting increasingly distorted with cut-up poetry and enormous scribbles every time you pick up something. Also, includes the best use of FMV since the beautiful bald head of him from Command and Conquer.

  • Image for Italian Stalling

    Lord, I loves me that Peggle. In fact, I love it even more than I did a couple of weeks ago when I scored it 9/10. I increasingly wish I'd given it 10, if only because our resident misery John Walker would have become so angry about it that we'd have had to kill him.

    So, seeing a new game from Popcap, the casual games publisher/developer responsible for Peggle, crop up on Steam excited that growing part of me that's obsessed with brightly-coloured cartoon puzzle games that don't make pensioners cower in fear. Venice Deluxe is its name (if there's one thing to love about Popcap, it's that it suffixes its every game with Deluxe, just because it can), and shooting shapes is its game.

  • Image for Rose & Camellia

    The Independent Gaming Source regularly blogs come interesting 'indie' material, but this Japanese Flash game based around aristocratic feminine face slapping is one of the finest referrals so far.

    Translation honours go to Selectbutton who report that:

    The plot, according to the text below the game, is that the player girl is a commoner who marries into a noble family. One day after the marriage, her new husband breathes his last—but the pampered harpies running the House refuse to give this low-blood the honor that is her due. There is only one way to resolve the matter!

  • Image for Space Oddities

    Spent last week reviewing UFO: Extraterrestrials for Eurogamer. Ended up being very mildly warm towards it, which was more than I was expecting. Because it's taking from such a well-conceived source - UFO: Enemy Unknown or X-COM: UFO Defence, depending on whether you're in Europe or the US*, it ends up often being highly entertaining because it's such a determined plagiarist. And God knows, everyone would like a decent successor to the Gollops' masterpiece.

    I suppose that's one of the most interesting things about it. While true, it's not really fair to paint them as just plagarists. They're more akin to a covers band for a group who've long split. While other people have taken some stuff from X-COM - the UFO: Afterlight/Aftershock/Aftermath series - this is something that's deliberately much more faithful. Even then, it's not good enough. There's a determined mod community around the game who are increasingly altering closer and closer and closer to what they're actually looking for. In most mod communities, there's a clear division between the developers and people who like the game enough to want to mod it... but here, perversely, the fanbase for the game aren't actually the fanbase for the game. They're actually the fanbase of an entirely different game... exactly the same as the developers. They're like the Rabbis in Pi, searching for the name of God by re-arranging the alphabet of whatever.

    Of course, it's interesting to wonder whether "A New X-Com" is even achievable. For both sides of the argument, see this debate between a load of journos and Devs over at Quarter to Three.

  • It seems that Valve are winning at electronic distribution, thanks to PC-pleasing publishers THQ signing up to stick their games on Steam. Having already dragged Eidos on board with Tomb Raiders and Hitmen aplenty, Valve will now be able to provide the lazy with some more of the PC's finest, like Company Of Heroes and, er, Titan Quest. Stalker and Supreme Commander will be arriving shortly too. (Blimey, Company Of Heroes is just $25, which is a bargain.)

    So is anyone having problems with Steam these days? Or are we finally agreed that it was a good idea after all?

  • Image for Everybody! Everybody!

    The sheer unhindered joy that is Homestar Runner is on a short hiatus at the moment, since one of the Bros. Chaps has gone and had a baby, and apparently that's somehow more important than drawing a Flash cartoon on the internet.

    However, during the gap - and thankfully making writing about it relevant to this site - there's been an update to their excellent Videlectrix site. Should you be unitiated, a part of the H*R nonsense is Strong Bad's archaic computer, and the games that play on it. Celebrating the pixellated joy of the earliest PC games, and indeed their Acorn, Spectrum, etc counterparts, these spoof minis do a surprising job of being almost as good as the real thing.

    None are so great as the Thy Dungeonman series, capturing the inane nature of text adventures better than the text adventures ever did.

  • One of the most interesting games to come out of E3 last week was Echochrome.

    Announced for PSP and PS3, it's disappointing to learn that such an esoteric and unusal puzzler isn't planned to make home on the PC. However, it's slightly less disappointing to discover that it's already here. Sort of.

  • Image for Blacksite and Mr Smith

    I've just noticed that my PC Gamer piece on Blacksite has gone up on their C&VG site. This kind of preview is bread and butter for us, but actually this was one of the more interesting game demo events I've been to recently, and not because it situated in the skin-draped depths of Soho.

    Having played Midway's Area 51 and being distinctly unimpressed, I was going into the demo of this sequel with some scepticism. Despite the credentials (Harvey Smith and friends, of Deus Ex) attached to the Blacksite project, I thought a multi-format shooter based on last year's nonsense was a doomed enterprise. However the event itself demonstrated that the team do seem to have a pretty strong idea about what makes linear shooters interesting. The main fighting sequences are going to be fairly open "arena" areas, with players encouraged to use the space and operate alongside the AI (or indeed drop-in co-op like in Gears of War) in taking out a varied selection of baddies. These arenas are filled with scripted sequences (Star Ship Trooper-alike bug aliens leaping up onto buildings and so on) and your team react to their environment with some nice touches, such as kicking open some doors, while smashing glass to reaching round and open others by hand. It's all very linear, Half-Life 2 style, but it looks like there's scope for experimentation. That said, the smalltown America stuff was far more interesting that the by-the-numbers dusty Iraq sections.

    Those Yankee environments, being all small desert towns and semi-derelict trailer parks, look awesome in the Unreal 3 engine, and I suspect even if the game ends up being a bit thin we'll still be impressed by some of what the design team manage to come up with. The giant worm alien on a bridge set-piece was pretty spectacular, and only really marred by inexplicably crappy fireballs being emitted from the giant critter.

  • Gamasutra have a mention of Blizzard's team structure, which gives away that there's an unannounced game:

    "Our global headcount is 2,700," said Pearce, "And most of that is customer service for World of Warcraft! In terms of development staff it’s probably around 350. World of Warcraft is about 135 people, 40 for Starcraft II, 40 for team 3, our cinematics team is about 85 guys. Then there’s sound and Q/A and that sort of thing."

    When pressed for details regarding the new project, Pearce was cagey. "Team 3 is working on something really awesome. I can’t give you any hints, but it’s totally awesome."

  • Image for 67 Million Asians and North Americans can't be wrong

    Well, they can, but since it's got an European release, it's at least worth printing a screenshot to go "Aw! Bless!" at.

    Aw! Bless!

    The game in question is Maple Story. It's a side-on MMO with the aforementioned 67 million registered users across the aforementioned North America and the aforementioned Asia. And it's free to play with its funding through micropurchases, which probably explains a lot about the aforementioned 67 million. Note that they don't actually mention the aforementioned number of people who actually put down cold hard cash on a pair of magic spadangley trousers.