Latest Articles (Page 1807)

  • Image for SOE To Make Indian-Superhero MMO

    Today's top online gaming story is beautifully unpredictable:

    Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), a global leader in the online gaming industry, is teaming up with Sir Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra’s Virgin Comics to bring the popular, India-based Ramayan 3392 A.D. comic book universe to life as an MMO video game initially for the PC.

    Blimey. They go on to say:

  • Image for 20 Seconds to Comply

    One of my quiet gaming obsessions is the concept of missing links. We all know the mainstream history of gaming (You know - the first RTS being Dune 2). Many of us will know the critical consensus-history of gaming (You know - the first RTS being the Megadrive's Herzog Zwei). What interests me is the stuff both of those history leaves out - you know, what they're forgetting about in order to make a simplified neater history. In that case, I dare say you can trace the RTS further back than Herzog Zwei if you like. At the least, you need to bring - say - Populous into the consideration. Sure, it doesn't play in a way akin to how the genre gentrified... but neither, really, does Herzog Zwei.

    Not in a trainspottery High-Fidelity-records-collector way. Well... at least not MOSTLY like that. But in a interest in how gloriously tangled the rainforest floor of gaming is.

    Anyway - enough set up. On with 1991's proto-First-person shooter Robocop 3's awesome ED-209s!

  • Image for Uprecident-o-news: Invaders... from Space.

    Something else that happened when I was away which I think's worth mentioning: City of Heroes hit double-figures in its updates, with Issue 10 going live. This time the Rikti, the perennial Big Bads of the series are back. And this time, they're shinier. Shiny-shiney-shine.

    It kicked off with a world-wide invasion event, with the aliens in question causing trouble, as well as setting up new Rikti-centred zones and task forces - which, cutely, allow high-level (35+) heroes and villains to team up and fight the greater foe. Which is about as superhero comic-book perfect as wearing spandex, gleeful homoeroticism having your arch-enemy cut up your girlfriend and store them in the fridge. In other words, compared to Issue 9 which introduced the new invention system, it's a lot more about Biffing people in the face.

    But that's not what particularly has got me thinking about it. While a Civ4 relapse has been eating into my gaming time, I haven't played it yet, but apparently in the world event stuff - that is, the Rikti appearing all over the place to fuck shit up - the Rikti are "levelless". Only their class (whether they're a lieutenant, elite or boss or whatever) determines how difficult they are to hit and kill. In other words, without sidekicking (City of Heroes' feature where a player is artificially raised to a higher hero's level so they can play together) a Level 5 and a level 50 character could stand side-by-side against the same foe and FIGHT.

  • I've been making snooty comments (usually involving charming phrases like "not a scrap of ingenuity" and "egomaniacs" and "cat-murdering, passionless money-men*") about id for a good few years now, but this week I've been feeling an great wave of affection for the somewhat atrophied father of the modern FPS.

    It's not because of Rage, which though it sounds very interesting currently doesn't really look it. It's because id's slapped their back catalogue onto Steam. It was a shock at first - id asking Valve if they can flog their wares in their great rival's online store is a little like The Rolling Stones asking if they can sleep in David Bowie's garage. But it makes total sense - soon enough, Valve and Google will be the only places we ever need for any information or entertainment. It's also the final seal of approval Steam really needed to become the one true home of the modern PC game. With this done, Steam is unstoppable.

    More importantly (and I realise that having a Steam press account that grants me everything on it for free does rob me of a certain chunk of objectivity here, but hey - it's £30 for every id game ever. I'd happily pay that myself.), it's an utter delight to have what's in many ways the entire history of FPS laid out before me in one place.

  • This thread over on the Quarter To Three games forum discusses whether the PC was the “real winner” of the latest generation console wars. The thread author suggests that the PC will 'win' by virtue of having lots of console games converted to it at a later date, but I think the reality is a little more subtle. If there is something to be learned from the current spread of games then it's not necessarily the brute number of conversions to PC that matters – it's the money going into the really significant games. Publishers need to figure out how much they can spend on a game, and they'll spend more if it's likely to do well on a console as well as a PC.

    Quake Wars has undoubtedly benefited from being converted to 360. The console format meant that the team had to factor bots into the game – a fact that gave them extra months to polish the game as a whole, and also means that instead of a pure multiplayer game we also now get bots to play with.

    Bioshock is another example. There's little doubt that it would have been a masterpiece whatever the format – but more money would have been coughed up for the overall development costs because it's going to be on 360, and not just 'conversion costs' either, since these tend to disappear into the overall equation of running a studio anyway.

  • Image for Hungry like the Old English Poem

    It's late.

    Okay, I was thinking I may actually have an exclusive for the half-dozen readers that Rock Paper Scissors has at the moment, involving a little thing by the name of Beowulf that was announced the week before last.

    While I went to see the game of the film of the poem almost two months back, the Non-disclosure agreement only lifted on July 26th to tie in with the film of the poem's proper unveiling, meaning my interview/preview for Eurogamer was only published then. It's basically one of the post-God-of-War combat games which are increasingly coming to light after Sony's game's enormous and justified success (For a pure-PC example, cast your eyes at Loki, which Jim will have words to say about later, I suspect). Well - it's God of War meets Ghost Recon, in that you've got some mates you can order around, but it's basically God of War.

  • Chatting to assorted folks about the freshly-announced next World of Warcraft expansion, I'm hearing a lot of apathy. Clearly, each and every one of those people will buy it and play it obsessively anyway, but I'm definitely getting the sense the rot may have finally set in. What happened to Everquest and Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot and etc and etc and etc is now affecting the game that was supposed to have broken the known rules of MMO success.

    What I mean is that WoW seems to have now passed the point where anything it can do will realistically attract many new players. All it can do now is keep its existing ones there - and its existing ones are the stat-obsssessed hardcore, even if, terrifyingly, that group does number in the millions. Look at the list of stuff in Wrath of the Lich King and there's nothing there to lure back a lapsed player, let alone attract a brand new one. Haircuts? A new skill? A new class? Fun if Azeroth's magic still enchants you. But entirely incidental. It's all about the raised level cap - but not, crucially, about the experience of reaching level 80. It's about what happens once you are 80, and the instance and reputation and PvP grinding to then be done on repeat every night.

    Though I kept playing for a while afterwards, where WoW and especially The Burning Crusade broke for me was the point that I understood almost everything. The game was incredibly entertaining when I was confused and shambolic, making stuff up as I went along, nervously eyeballing the art of a new location or enemy, rather than the level number on it, exactly what spell it was casting and what its likelihood of dropping a green item was, according to my raft of UI plugins. The mystery, the sense of exploration and discovery, was gone. I'm now so utterly familiar with the mechanics behind the game that no expansion can possibly recapture the sense of wonder of WoW's first 30-odd levels. I can't believe I'm alone in this. It's now a game for people who understand the maths, and them alone.

  • Image for Rage HD

    Here's a link to the high-def version of the Rage trailer, as seen at QuakeCon '07. Looks to me like we've hit some kind of graphical ceiling, eh readers? Perhaps game design will be more important than bump-cleverness? I do hope Id can deliver an entertaining rascal of a game, I really do. Something at the back of the mind however (perhaps one of them brain-rats), is gnawing away at me. Sceptical thoughts are stirring.

    They shouldn't be though: a free-roaming Mad Max FPS, with co-op play. That's exactly what I've been wanting over the last couple of years. Could this be Id's return to excellence? I think if they can balance exploration and fun road-physics with a solid sense of violence then they could be on to something. It'll be interesting to see just how big and beautiful Id's tech can make the landscapes. Quake Wars, which is getting on a bit now graphics tech-wise, is looking stunning, and gives a superb impression of unlimited space (despite being Battlefield-like in its scale). I'm sort of hoping that Rage can capture the minimalism and solidity of Quake 2 & 3 with vehicles. If they manage that then it could be a potent formula.

    Nice fly too.

  • Image for The Right To Bear Arms +4

    [First of our SPECIAL GUEST posts by friends of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. This time it's world-traveler and local-bemuser Quintin Smith, who I once spurred into hitting on girls in the manner of an Oblivion conversation. No, really.]

    There's a degree of masochism involved in playing roguelikes. As well as choosing to suffer through hideous tile-based graphics and razor-sharp difficulty spikes you have to deal with the total loss of progress with each death. But you know what? It's just so hard to find the freedom and unpredictibility they offer anywhere else.

    So that's my excuse as to why, after swearing them off as a genre following a long hot summer where I was having my heart broken by Zangband on a nightly basis, I've started again. I'm playing Iter Vehemens ad Necem this time, which is a little less polished and forgoes races and classes but manages to squeeze in a plot and gets nice and specific with regards to body parts. Limbs can be lost (and replaced with poor-quality substitutes), heads can be struck (causing blackouts and brain damage) and groins can be melted away.

  • Image for Pictures of Trees: 9 Million Explode

    Jim and I were just sitting in the Garden, ignoring spiders and bats fluttering by, and talking about the world's biggest videogame news. We realised that while it was good to have blogged a story involving Blizzard in the last 24-hours, if we're actually trying to be a serious mainstream PC-videogame site, we perhaps chose the wrong one.

    So...

    LOOK AT THE FUCKING TREES.

  • Mentisworks has posted an excellent review of the 'best' 27 indie art games ever. The author explains:

    When I think of art that has influenced me most, it is generally work done by individuals. I can't recall the last time a corporation created a brilliant painting. I find that this also tends to be true in the emerging area of art games. Individuals are not generally driven to create purely for profit, and have more leeway to experiment and create according to their own artistic vision.

    I thought it was time to compile a "best of" list for art games, because there has only been one other such list that I recall online. I'm sure someone will correct me on that point if there has been in fact another well drafted list somewhere out there.

  • Image for Short Sharp Shock

    Eureka! I think I've just discovered the perfect game review format for Today's busy, confident, man-about-town.

    Reviews Constructed Entirely From Official Forum Thread Titles (RCEFOFTTs for short) mean reviewers get to spend more time loafing, and readers get to spend less time wading through tedious personal anecdotes. It's a win-win situation.

    Here, as proof of concept, is a RCEFOFTT for Battlefront's new 3D wargame Combat Mission: Shock Force.

  • And it's a vehicular shooter. The game will be based on Carmack's new graphics engine, which makes use of the innovations that made Quake Wars' large maps possible. There's even going to be some co-op multiplayer. Gadzooks.

    This is the tech demo from some computer expo thing:

  • Image for It's Good To Stalk

    A quick anecdote from Stalker, which I've been replaying on and off, just to see what I can change/break.

    I was playing through one of the early sections where an NPC character arranges to set up an ambush with you to rescue his captured colleague. The ambush was set, but things went batshit – completely different from the smoothly executed sequence of events I'd seen the first time I'd played through this section. For some reason the game spawned a hostile bandit patrol just within aggression range of my NPC partner. They shot at him at the exact moment the scripted ambush was supposed to occur. To deal with this random occurrence the game made the chap we were supposed to rescue vanish entirely, and then filled the other NPC with a murderous rage. He moved into the nearby building complex, with me still in tow, and systematically hunting down and killing every single bandit in the area.

    Only when we reached the roof and the last bandit lay dead did the NPC stop and complete his designated plot device. He turned to his now non-existent companion and said “No problem, but you have this Stalker to thank.” Then he just stood there, frozen and unable to continue his existence thanks to the earlier interruption. When I returned an hour later he was dead.

  • Rumours surrounding the Bioshock copy-protection suggest that you'll have to reinstall the game from scratch if you change any element of your hardware configuration, and that you'll need to be online all the time to play at all. If your net connection goes down there'll be no underwater adventures for you. I can't find the relevant Gamespot thread, so this is just specumalation.

    Yeah, okay, I'm posting irrelevant waffle, but in some way I hope this is true so that I can post extra-indignant things on the internet decrying our loss of convenience/privacy.

  • I just replayed the opening sequences of the original Half-Life. It's left me somewhat frustrated.

    Despite the incredibly over-long sequence on the monorail, and the astonishing - and surely unnecessary - frequency of the loading points, it really still is the best introduction to any game, ever. From the moment you arrive you're being set up for what's to come, but without the game forcing you into rushing. You can explore the few rooms of the facility open to you, bother the scientists, explore the lockerrooms, blow up the contents of a microwave... It's you that chooses to trigger the beginning of events proper by stepping into the test chamber and triggering that resonance cascade. "They're waiting for you, Gordon... In the test chamberrrrrrrrr."

    There's lots of time for silliness, like listening to the two scientists discussing that I'm a "highly paid professional", while I jump up and down on the spot. And then kaboom - it all goes wrong and the area you just familiarised yourself with has changed, been broken. And that's rewarding. As you try to find a way out, so much is happening. Bodies lie all over the floor, a scientist is trying to resuscitate another, people are panicing, and you're being introduced to how the enemies work - seeing the head crabs take their first victims.

  • Shocking news from The Australian, which reveals that Second Life has become a terrorist training camp:

    On the darker side, there are also weapons armouries in SL where people can get access to guns, including automatic weapons and AK47s. Searches of the SL website show there are three jihadi terrorists registered and two elite jihadist terrorist groups.

    Once these groups take up residence in SL, it is easy to start spreading propaganda, recruiting and instructing like minds on how to start terrorist cells and carry out jihad.

  • Image for A Rose By Any Other Name

    We admit, we'll jump at any chance to use this screenshot again...

    Rossignol already talked at length about the simple joys of cat-fighting game, Rose & Camellia, but the exciting news that someone has actually translated it into English deserved another plug. So now, at last, those who would haven't played it, due to them needing to experience the divine narrative carefully crafted by the modern heirs to the spirit of Gogol with their face-flapping, or it's just not worthwhile (i.e. Walker, probably) can finally get down with the slapattacks.

  • Image for Clunky ClickClickClick

    A sad realisation came upon me this afternoon: I don't use joysticks anymore. I have one somewhere, but I don't think it's been plugged into a PC for about five years. On my consoles and PC there are gamepads galore, but the grand stick of old is gone. Some people still think themselves connoisseurs of the rubberised grip, however. One such person is Gasbandit, who has been writing about joysticks past and present. He makes a few suggestions.

    Maybe if there were some decent, inexpensive yet sturdy and dependable joysticks to play with that weren't concerned about finding places to mount 58 impossible-to-program buttons somewhere on the surface of the stick, devs might actually see a market for some good flight sims again.

    I wouldn't hold your breath, Mr Bandit. You'll be blue and dead a long time before joysticks cause a resurgence in accessible flight sims.

  • Image for 2Moons Beta

    2Moons, the free-to-play MMO by none other than David Perry (and not Dave Perry), has just gone live as a beta version. You can download the client from GamersHell. We'll offer some insightful and informative comment soon, probably. In the meantime here's a picture of a dude with swords:

    Someone might love him...

  • 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.