Thursday, July 31, 2008

RA3: In-Depth Look into Empire of the Rising Sun Build Mechanic

The Red Alert 3 website has released an interview with Producer Greg Kasavin to shed light on the build mechanic of the Empire of the Rising Sun and how it differs from the other sides. To summarise:

1. Different build mechanics for each side planned from the start.

2. Empire of the Rising sun has the most unrestricted out of the building game mechanics.

3. Empire can build anywhere.

4. Apparently the downside is that it's easy to spread yourself too thin, but I don't quite see how this is going to be a problem provided you take that into account!

5. The way the Allies can counter this is with recon and scouting units early on.

6. The Allies also have a traditional C&C-style build mechanic where you can queue up base-defenses.

7. Soviets have an extra crane that allows them to build multiple buildings at once (a bit like the crane they had in C&C3).

8. Soviets also have a large build radius.

9. Gameplay style for the Empire is intended to have a deep learning curve - it favours unit micromanagement over base micromanagement.

Warhammer Online Minimum System Specs are out

A Minimum System Requirements List has been released by Mythic on their website. Looks like you need a reasonably beefy system to run this MMO (2.5GHz processor and 2GB of RAM minimum on Vista) .

Space Siege Demo Out

That's right. It's been pretty quiet at Gas Powered Games with respect to Space Siege but they've recently released a demo for it! Download it from here, if you're in Australia (or better yet, an Internode customer :)).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mass Effect: Bring Down the Sky finally available for PC

The free downloadable content that Bioware has promised for PC gamers of Mass Effect has finally arrived and is now available for download. Check it out.

Need for Speed: Undercover Trailer

Apparently, due to the lacklustre performance of Need for Speed: Pro Street, EA is going back to its roots with more open gameplay like previous Need for Speed games in their next iteration, Need for Speed: Undercover. Check out the teaser trailer:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Red Alert 3 Site Update

Once again a massive update by the Red Alert 3 team. Firstly let us go through the Q&A they've answered recently:

1) Engineers won't be able to capture fallen mechs, but Natasha can snipe pilots out (like Jarmen Kell from C&C Generals) so that any infantry can steal it.

2) Dolphins are similar to RA2 dolphins in that they attack by amplified echolocation. They however have a secondary ability which allows them to leap out of the water to dodge torpedoes.

3) Moving a construction yard results in you losing any researched technologies if the appropriate buildings are outside the construction yards radius.

4) You can use superpowers on your allies (e.g. Iron Curtain to make your ally's unit invulnerable).

5) Unit creation buttons will be stylized to look like a graphic novel.

Secondly, let us check out the two new unit profiles, a RA fan favourite, the Apocalypse Tank and the new Allied Assault Destroyer (although maybe not so new since they did have destroyers in RA1 IIRC).

The Apocalypse Tank is summarised below:

1) It can roll over anything, including other tanks.
2) Powerful dual-cannons makes short work of other vehicles
3) Its disadvantages are that it's slow moving and has no AA (I think that's a new weakness)
4) Its secondary ability is a magnetic harpoon that can bring vehicles closer to its threads so it can crush them.

The Assault Destroyer is summarised below:

1) At first glance, it may seem like an ordinary ship but amazingly the Assault Destroyer is amphibious! It can actually traverse over land!

2) The Assault Destroyer is heavily armed and armoured.

3) The Assault Destroyer's secondary ability is a black hole armour generator that redirects any hostile fire towards itself, keeping vulnerable allied vehicles out of harm's way.

Warhammer Online Realm War Page explained

Ten Ton Hammer has just conducted an interview with Scott Stricklin, Web Development Lead at Mythic Entertainment, asking about "Realm War" tab on the Warhammer Online Website. See below for a summary of it:

1) Realm War is basically just a rankings list
2) It'll list all the players stats, equipment and some other info.
3) It'll also update you on who is winning on which server in terms of guilds and conquered cities.
4) Information is updated every 30 seconds.
5) Apparently they aim to reward people with fame with the introduction of this page instead of players getting lost in a "vast sea of the anonymous."

Alpha Protocol will have "Ladies Man" Achievement

It seems that according to this MTV blog that your character in Alpha Protocol can choose to sleep with all the women in the game or abstain from having sex with any of them (both will have the achievements "Ladies Man" or "Lone Bachelor" conferred to you respectively). Apparently this is a game mechanic that'll result you in gaining favour of certain factions (since the women will be from different factions). Seems they've taken a leaf out of the Bond 007 book...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Starcraft II Site Update - Mar Sara Bio

Ahhh this planet definitely brings back memories - it's the planet you fought on as a Magistrate for the Terran Confederacy in the original Starcraft. After the planet was incinerated by Protoss fleets (as shown in Starcraft), the planet was left to uninhabited for several years. However, more recently the Kel-Morian Combine has started to mine the planet again. The Terran Dominion has also arrived apparently at the Combines request, as they require defense against pirates in the system and apparently even some Zerg (as the planet appears to be infested by them again).

Diablo III - new screenies, artwork and a wallpaper

Check it out at the Diablo III website.

Call of Duty 5: World at War Co-op Gameplay Video

At E3, a video was released displaying the co-op gameplay in CoD5 - check it out:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Red Alert 3 Summit reveals more info

Thanks to a recent RA3 Summit, a lot of fansites have been given more info about the upcoming game. Check out this site which has tech trees and info about each of the factions.

Battlefield Heroes to show at Games Convention

Battlefield Heroes will be on display and available for play at the Leipzig Games Convention. It's probably a safe bet that the game will be finished by then since (1) It'll still technically be Summer 2008 in the Nothern Hemisphere and (2) they indicated you'd be actually to play the game at the Convention. Consequently, I've changed the release date to 24/08/2008 for now.

Street Fighter IV - Not only when but who?

Street Fighter IV is rumoured to be coming out to PC later this year, but that's all fine and dandy when you have Capcom as a local distributor in your country, but Australia unfortunately doesn't. According to this article (which I apologise is a couple months old), apparently local distributor Red Ant has secured a deal with Capcom to distribute their games over here - however there doesn't seem to be any info on their website when exactly Street Fighter IV is coming out...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Starcraft Q&A updated

We're now up to Starcraft II Q&A Batch #41. Here is a summary of the points that stood out the most for me:

1. Vespene Gas collecting is more complex in Starcraft II. You can invest minerals into different gas refining technologies that would increase the rate you extract gas from the geyser

2. It seems Zerg defensive structures can move position.

3. Dropships will be better this time around encouraging Terran players to use them more than previous games.

Another Gamespy Preview of Left 4 Dead

Gamespy has played around a bit more with Left 4 Dead and once again praise its co-op gameplay, however they reckon this could also be its weakness since not working as a team in this game can spell the death knell for your group. One person cannot take all the zombies by themselves - you have to stick as a group and provide supporting fire (without team-killing).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Diablo III Info

Well the Diablo III website has been up for awhile but thought I'd actually take time to give it a read and see what background story I can gather. This is what I've discovered from Deckard Cain's diary:

1) It doesn't seem Deckard Cain is the "Last of the Horadrim" (although playing the previous games, I was persuaded that was the case!). He likes to think himself as one and is a well-learned man on the topic.

2) After it appears that Archbishop Lazarus has slaughtered several of Tristram's villagers, Deckard Cain becomes committed to reading the old texts to finding a way to stop the evil that has beset the village.

3) Adria isn't one of the normal villagers and only came to inhabit the outskirts of Tristram once trouble brewed.

4) In the following days, several adventurers come to Tristram in the hopes of defeating the forces of evil. Many perish.

5) Finally a man of little words, known as "The Wanderer" arrives (the original Warrior from Diablo I).

6) Deckard Cain finally realises his worst fears have been realised, that Diablo has risen again and is the root of all the troubles.

7) The Wanderer is victorious (end of Diablo I).

8) Tristram celebrates the defeat of Diablo. The Wanderer remains suspiciously silent. It appears that Deckard is unaware of what sacrifice he made to defeat Diablo.

9) The Wanderer leaves to head to the East. Shortly after he leaves, the town of Tristram is consumed by Undead and noone survives (except Cain). These are the events that lead to the start of Diablo II (as evidenced by the intro on the website).

10) Diablo and Mephisto are defeated. A demonic army raised by Baal marches on Mount Arreat (this is the start of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction).

11) Baal is defeated but at a great cost. The Worldstone which is protected by the Barbarians of Mount Arreat is corrupted by him and the Archangel Tyrael thinks the only way of ensuring the world is safe is destroying the Worldstone - however the ramifications of doing so is uncertain. The world will very likely change forever.

Tristram apparently gets resettled in the years after the defeat of Baal, Mephisto and Diablo, and is dubbed "New Tristram". The town mainly existed to equip adventurers that decided to descend the old cathedral in search of loot. Now it's in a state of decay.

I keep trying to reinforce this fact but Blizzard claims that only five character classes will exist at launch, and the Witch Doctor and Barbarian are two of them. This means that you won't have the original line-up of classes that you had in Diablo II. Of course the chances of more classes being added in subsequent expansions is probably very likely ;).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quake Live

It was announced recently that good ol' Quake III is being revitalised in the form of a FREE web-based multiplayer game. This project is called "Quake Live" and they're currently accepting sign-ups for the beta. Being an oldskool Quake III player myself I thought why the hell not :).

Red Alert 3 Site Update

Once again, the Red Alert 3 site is a hive of activity. Two new Japanese unit profiles have surfaced including another Q&A. Not much news in the Q&A so I'll move onto the units...

Firstly, we have the "Tankbuster". This unit appears to be the Japanese anti-armour infantry unit that uses a laser gun to melt vehicles. As in previous C&C games the anti-armour infantry does have a weakness and once again, that's from other basic infantry. The Tankbuster does have a special ability however that enables it to minimise damage: they can burrow underground - however this prevents them from attacking while in this mode.

The second unit is a special unit for the Japanese: "Yuriko Omega" (which sounds suspiciously like a parody of "Yuri Prime" from RA2). She is basically the psychic unit for the Japanese, and seems almost impossible to kill. She can levitate which means she can go anywhere, she can use a "psychokinetic blast" to knock down large units of infantry, and she can destroy buildings and tanks with ease.

Dragon Age Site Update

Well this actually occured quite awhile ago but due to the barrage of E3 news, I had to let this one slide: The Dragon Age website has been updated and now contains a little bit more info on the game (not much more but it's better than before!). There are also some new screenshots and videos. Info about the game summarised:

1. It has been four centuries since the last Blight, but another one is rising. What is this "Blight" you may ask? Well it's apparently a horde of monsters that were evil sorcerors in one life.

2. The Grey Wardens are your typical secret order sworn to fight the ancient terror aforementioned in point 1.

3. Ogres are featured in the game.

4. Two characters are introduced, a young king named Cailan who was the first Ferelden king to be born in his land free from foreign rule - and a general, Teryn Loghain who served with Cailan's father when he was still a prince.

New Gamespy E3 Preview on Civilization Remake

Just a few extra bits of info gathered from this Gamespy Preview:

1. It seems that the 52 Founding Fathers in the game are like a pool of special people. Each side gets to pick two at the beginning and the rest will join you depending on whether your side meets certain criteria. Like wonders in the Civ games, once one person has a Founding Father it isn't available to the other sides.

2. You have a 300 turn time limit to win the War of Independence (can't remember what it was in the original).

3. City Interface will be familiar to oldskool Colonization fans.

4. Gamespy concerned that is the game different enough to warrant a separate purchase (if it's the same price as an expansion, I say "Definitely, yes!" IMHO :)).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fresh E3 Previews from Gamespy

Three new previews of note at the E3 Preview for today, namely the ones for Space Siege, Street Fighter IV and Alpha Protocol.

Firstly let's head to the Space Siege Preview considering it's meant to be the one coming soonest to PC. Unfortunately, it looks like Gamespy are more critical of the game now that they've been given a better look at it - which incidentally is where it falls down: graphics (although I'd like to add "as if there was any doubt from earlier screenshots and videos!"). The co-op was touted as one of its strengths (it's good to see a lot of developers nowadays returning to adding co-op to their games) plus the easy-to-use interface.

Secondly, we have Street Fighter IV which is already out in the arcades, coming soon to consoles, but surprisingly, also to PC! No news on release date and considering GAME over here in Australia is only mentioning the console releases as coming out in February next year, it could be a bit of a wait.

Finally we have more news on Alpha Protocol, and it looks like Obsidian Entertainment are playing on their strengths. They're bringing strong RPG elements to the world of modern espionage and you're provided with lots of choices in how you handle situations. For example, in Gamespy's preview you could decide to be stealthy and avoid guards, go in guns blazing or talk your way out of it. The choices don't end there though, conversation choices are quite rich and you can pick what OE calls the "Three J.B.'s" emotional paths through the game: the professional ("Jason Bourne"), the suave and sophisticated ("James Bond"), or an aggressive psycho ("Jack Bauer") Picking different dialogues and courses of action has an effect later on in the game since factions will remember how you've treated them. The combat system is said to be somewhat lacking and is looking similar to Mass Effect's.

Puzzle Quest delivered and installed

Woohoo! Got to install and play Puzzle Quest a bit last night and it's an addictive game (especially when you get frustrated fighting a zombie that is clearly using h4x to defeat you)! Currently playing with a level 10 Druid and even though it starts off quite simple it gets rather challenging with some opponents later on. I obviously don't have the hang of it yet! Anyway, once I finish it (I'm assuming you can finish this game) or I get close to it, I'll start writing a review as well (but first I probably should finish Mass Effect)!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gamespy Screenshots of Sid Meier's Civ IV Colonization

Some nice screenies of the improved graphics engine used in Civ IV Colonization. Nice to see that the interface is very similar to the original game too!

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization ScreenshotSee More Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization Screenshot at

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix Trailer

I'm a bit late in posting this trailer up but it's one for Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. It's looking pretty good for a puzzle game, but wonder how the hexagonal grid will work - not to mention I can't say I'm a big fan of the music (the music in Puzzle Quest was okay but I think you need higher quality synth if you want to get away with a proper Space Opera soundtrack).

Gamespy E3 Preview - Red Alert 3

Gamespy got to have a hands-on preview of Red Alert 3 as the Japanese. Seems all is good so far although they worry about the heavy micro-management required. Here is the review summarised:

- Japan's special unit is a psychic schoolgirl called "Yuriko"
- Three of the Empire's mech units resemble mechs from Robotech
- Empire will appeal to players that like to micromanage.

Gamespy E3 Preview - Spore

A very positive preview by Gamespy on Spore's Tribal and Space Exploration Mode. Some of the interesting points:

- Tribal Phase is like a Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game
- In Tribal Phase, each member has a randomly generated name except the Chieftain. He is larger than the other creatures and carries a large stick.
- Gamespy attempted to win over other tribes through culture. When playing music, you enter a mini-game where you have a few seconds to match the expectations of what your audience asks of you.
- You can eventually get tribal clothing and there is an editor for this.
- Clothing changes throughout the ages and you'll get a new choice of clothes at the Space Age.
- There is also a building editor
- ... and a vehicle editor
- There's pretty much an editor for everything!
- Space part of the game is like a Space RPG - it actually sounds a lot like Star Control 2! Your aim is to explore the galaxy to find parts to upgrade your spaceship.

Gamespy Preview - Dragon Age: Origins

Gamespy's done an E3 preview of Dragon Age: Origins. Here is a summary:

- Claimed to be a "spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate".
- Gamespy guessing that the recent name change to "Dragon Age: Origins" is a hint that the upcoming Bioware MMO may be set in the same universe.
- Spells can affect other spells, which reminds me of Guild Wars in some regards (e.g. cast a Blizzard to set out a Fire spell).
- Enemies will be able to use the terrain around them and hurl it at the player's party.
- Unlike Mass Effect, once again your character will be a silent protagonist.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More E3 trailers

And now for some trailers about games already existing on my anticipated games list...

Red Alert 3
Finally some info has been revealed on the Japanese faction (The Empire of the Rising Sun). From the video, it appears that unlike what I previously thought, you can build several King Onis at once! Also the backing track to the video sounds like a remix of the Hell March theme - perhaps we're listening to Frank Klepacki's Hell March 3?

You can see the video here

The Sims 3
The Sims 3 is looking good if this trailer is any indication. It seems the emphasis is getting away from the gameplay seen in the original games (where you micro-managed each house independently) and now you can manage the neighbourhood as a whole (i.e. each house isn't its own little microcosm).

Spore has released a new trailer of the game for E3 - nothing terribly new here but having the trailer narrated does seem to help explain what's going on. Check it out below:


Thanks to E3 there's going to be a HUGE volume of updates for the next couple of days. Some new games have piqued my interest and there's a lot of trailers for games that are listed on my "Australian Release Dates" list.

First, let's go through the games I've added:

Age of Booty (previously known as Plunder)
This game caught my interest since it looked quite a bit different than the rest. The game promises to be a casual game about pirates. Since I was a big fan of Sid Meier's Pirates! and this game seems to be multiplayer, I thought it was worth a look.

Alpha Protocol
The game sees you as a CIA agent that is framed and hunted down by your previous employer while trying to bring the actual perpetrators to justice. What makes it more than just your typical action shooter is that it's a game being developed by Obsidian Entertainment. Staying true to their RPG roots, the consequences of your actions will alter your character and ultimately the outcome of the game.

Dark Horizon
Not really much is known about this game except it looks like a space sim, which happens to be one of my favourite genres. The game is being made by veteran Swedish developers, Paradox Interactive so it could be good.

How could you not be excited by the next game in the pipeline by master developers, id. These guys who spawned the Doom and Quake franchises are apparently creating a whole new engine for this game called the id Tech 5 engine. It definitely looks very nice and from the looks of the trailer it seems to be a game with a Mad Max/post-apocalyptic setting. I read somewhere that you get to drive and modify vehicles whilst also being a more traditional on-foot FPS at the same time. Definitely one to look out for. EA will apparently be the publisher. Release date is still unknown.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI
Being interested in Chinese History, especially the Three Kingdoms era and also being a fan of Koei games (many hours spent playing Genghis Khan 2 in particular) means that this latest itereation of the long running Romance of the Three Kingdoms series should be well worth a look. Unfortunately, I don't think there is (or if there ever has been) a local distributor for the game here in Australia, so the release date is based off the US one (and I'm hoping it'll be released here).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

E3 Ghostbusters trailer

Check out the E3 Ghostbusters Trailer - if they can retain the same humour as the original series that'd be awesome :):

Puzzle Quest ordered

I couldn't help myself. I ordered Puzzle Quest from Games Warehouse for $19.99 (but it'll be more like $26 after shipping and handling). The game looks like the perfect game to play when you've got a spare 5-10 minutes to wait but not wanting to commit yourself to a game that requires more time (e.g. a Guild Wars Tombs Run). I've heard generally good reviews from the press (85% from GameRankings and 84 from MetaCritic) and my girlfriend is addicted to it - but not so good reviews from co-workers (I'm actually surprised at how many people are playing it).

Unfortunately it's currently out of stock so I may be waiting awhile.

Monday, July 14, 2008

RA3 Big Update

A huge RA3 update over the weekend, with the addition of the box art, a new unit (the Soviet Twinblade Chopper) and some Q&A.

Firstly let's check out this new chopper unit. It seems to be adept at attacking ground targets (as most attack choppers are) with a chaingun and several rockets. It seems that it's most effective to use the rockets in a barrage since it takes a long time to reload them. The Twinblade (like the Hind) can carry troops on-board and can even carry tanks (unlike the Hind). The Twinblade's only weakness is that it is vulnerable to attack aircraft as it has no defence against them.

Secondly, a look at some important points from the Q&A:

1. Submarines aren't stealthed BUT they cannot be attacked while submerged, except from torpedoes.

2. The Iron Curtain returns as a superweapon in RA3 and has the same effect as before (gives temporary invulnerability).

3. As before, you can build off an ally's construction yard

4. The Allied Particle Cannon is similar to GDI's Ion Cannon.

5. Peacekeeper shields don't make them invincible to small arms fire, but does give them a significant armour boost.

Finally a look at the box art page's important points (which is the Features page) - don't know if this was updated recently but regardless it's got some good summary info on the game:

1. Story involves Soviets on the brink of defeat to the Allies going back in time to kill Albert Einstein, developer of chrono technology. They return successful and the Allies are in a weakened position. However they've also spawned a new faction to dominate the Earth called the Empire of the Rising Sun (Japan basically).

2. All three factions will have a story campaign.

3. You can play the story campaigns co-operatively (awesome!)

4. Like previous Red Alerts, you get naval units!

5. Return of cheesy FMVs!

Warhammer Online News

Firstly, Warhammer Online launched their Guild Beta on the 11th. I had no idea what they meant by a Guild Beta but it seems it's just a normal closed beta except restricted to 10,000 guilds (so you have to create the Warhammer guild BEFORE you even have the game in order to play I suppose). Apparently 750,000 applicants applied (that's quite a lot of applicants!). Apparently, many of the applicants had extensive MMORPG experience.

Secondly, there has been an interview published by with Mark Jacobs, Vice President and GM of Mythic Entertainment (Second part of the interview is here). To summarise (as I so often do :)):

1. EA Mythic has been renamed to Mythic Entertainment. EA has apparently become more relaxed in terms of branding developers it acquires - perhaps they're now letting good developers do their own thing, give them more freedom to be creative (Maxis would be the most early example of this).

2. Mythic has partnered with Punkbuster to introduce an anti-cheat system for Warhammer Online.

3. Number of Capital Cities in the game has been reduced from 6 to 2.

4. 4 Classes are being cut out of the game.

Seems that all these cuts that Mythic have introduced means they're rushing to get the game out the door - I wonder if EA truly is giving more freedom to the developers besides a name change? Although apparently Mythic claims it's not the case.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix slated for a Q1 2009 release

I always love plugging Australian made games and a recent success story over the past year or so is Infinite Interactive's Puzzle Quest (I swear they stole my idea - I too was thinking of a hybrid RPG/Puzzle game a couple years back - I confess that Bejeweled wasn't one of the candidates though :)). They're now continuing that formula but instead of having a fantasy themed game for the RPG component, they're now deciding to do a sci-fi one (my favourite genre). It seems that fighting is done using spaceships and each of the colours on the puzzle board reflects different systems of the ships (e.g. computers, lasers, shields, etc.). Looks interesting to say the least and it's expected to come out early next year (it's been added to my Release Dates list).

Gamespy also has a preview of it on their website.

Dragon Age: Origins Teaser Trailer

Well looks like they finally placed a teaser trailer of Dragon Age: Origins. Unfortunately, it doesn't really tell us too much about the game. Click below to see the video anyway :):

Friday, July 11, 2008

Where are they now? - Alexander Brandon

The first time I heard of Alexander Brandon was when I was playing Deus Ex and thinking, "who composed this awesome soundtrack using MODs?" (which IMHO is a far superior format to MIDI). Digging a little deeper, I discovered that he was quite an accomplished composer, creating the soundtracks for games like Tyrian, Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal and Thief.

Fortunately, he's still in the business of creating music for games, but I'm not quite sure how much actual composing he does nowadays as he's had several roles as an "Audio Director", his most recent post being Audio Director at one of my favourite development houses, Obsidian Entertainment. The last game he has been credited on was Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. He's apparently now working on the soundtrack for the next expansion, Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir.

To celebrate his awesome music, I just got a random sample of fan-made videos that play his music. Enjoy!

New RA3 unit - The Allied Aircraft Carrier

The aircraft carrier makes a return and just like the previous ones (IIRC) the fighters (which are now Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles, drones essentially) regenerate over time. The carrier also comes equipped with an EMP missile that can disable other units and buildings. Apparently due to it being quite a formidable weapons platform, it's going to come at a hefty price tag.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dragon Age: Origins revealed

Well what do we have here? It seems that Dragon Age has been renamed to Dragon Age: Origins - this hints to me that Dragon Age will now be used as a name for a series or universe, which means there's likely to be more Dragon Age games in the pipeline. Bioware has stated that there will be a trailer available on GameTrailers soon and I'll be sure to post my thoughts about it once it surfaces.

Fallout 3 banned from Australia?

It appears that the OFLC has banned Fallout 3 from ever reaching our shores by slapping a RC (Refused Classification) label on the game. According to an article on Gamespot, it would appear that the reason the OFLC banned it was because there was some drug use in Fallout 3 (which is totally ridiculous considering how many other games that WERE classified had drug use (e.g. Jagged Alliance 2, Starcraft, etc.). It's true that in these other games perhaps the drug use wasn't as graphic but regardless, thanks to this ruling adults are prevented on playing one of the most anticipated games of 2008 from a franchise that is known for its excellent storyline. Once again, it's become apparent that Australia needs an R18+ rating.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Where are they now? - Greg Kuperberg and Paratrooper

Another game I used to enjoy playing on my old Multitech PC was a 1982 game called Paratrooper. Only now did I find out that the game is actually a clone of an Apple II game made a year earlier called Sabotage. The game involved you controlling an anti-aircraft turret that had to shoot down any threats to your position. Threats initially come in the form of helicopters dropping paratroopers (hence the name of the game). If you don't manage to shoot the paratroopers, their parachutes (so they could plummet to their death) or the helicopters, there's a very real chance that four paratroopers would eventually land next to your turret, form a human pyramid and blow you up. Just to make things interesting, if you happen to do well, bombers would then appear that would drop bombs on your position (and it's very hard to hit either the bomber or the bombs!).

The game was developed by Greg Kuperberg, a naturalised American who was originally born in Poland in the late 60s. During the early 80s, he developed three games for the IBM PC which would all turn out to be ports from other platforms (the other two games he developed were Pac-Man and J-Bird, a port of Q*Bert). He soon after enrolled into Harvard University and received a bachelor's degree in 1987. Greg is now a well published professor of mathematics at the University of California, Davis.

To download the original Paratrooper (at a whopping 6.9kb!) go here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mass Effect Original Soundtrack Review

  • Name: Mass Effect Original Game Soundtrack

  • Label: Sumthing Else

  • Composer(s): Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, Richard Jacques and David Kates

  • Number of Tracks: 37

After hearing several stirring tracks whilst playing the game Mass Effect, I decided to purchase the soundtrack for Mass Effect. Even though it took me awhile (which fortunately didn't turn out to be as long as it could've been) and cost me an arm and leg (around $50 AUD) I finally got my hands on it a few days ago. So how good is it really? Well let's find out.

Artistic Merit (52%)

For those of you frothing at the mouth at why I only gave 52% for the Artistic Merit, let me get the negative comments out from the start. While the soundtrack has some sensational tracks on it, its score gets dragged way down due to the amount of filler there is. Now let me get this straight, it's very *nice* filler - the quality of the tracks bar a couple are really good and they definitely evoke memories of all the different locales you visit in the game, however a majority of these tracks can get repetitive, very quickly and consequently they can lose their novelty, very quickly. I like themes and melodies and this reflects in the tracks I've picked as ones that are worthwhile. I repeat, since a lot of the tracks are ones played during action sequences, they do happen to fit the situation they're meant for listening to them on their own. However, if you're listening to them in your stereo or while you're driving in the car, you have to admit that some of the tracks make for bland listening material (especially the ambient stuff).

Now that the bad stuff is out of the way, onto the good stuff. What's great about this soundtrack is that it has a very retro 80's sci-fi film feel to it - and this is no mistake. Jack Wall has commented that his influences for the soundtrack came from John Williams, Blade Runner and Dune. The best tracks for me on this album would be the ones that revolve around the main Mass Effect Theme (which helps set the scene, giving you an impression that Humanity has only taken its first steps into space and is raring for an adventure into the unknown - Humanity's recklessness would prove to be a central motif for the game in general) . The tracks "The Citadel" and "Spectre Induction" continue to elaborate on this theme. Indeed, the game itself culminates with a reprise of the main theme, preceded by a moving piece that complements Humanity's victory over the enemy (I'm not exactly going to say who - you'll just have to find that out as you play :)).

Tracks which also deserve a special mention are "Vigil", "Uncharted Worlds" and "M4 Part II". "Vigil" which is the main menu theme and the theme to the Protheans is an excellent track; very relaxing and evoking a sense of awe and wonder at the technological aptitude of the Prothean race. "Uncharted Worlds" is also an enjoyable ditty that unfortunately is very short. It's played whilst the player is viewing the Galaxy Map in the game and the stacatto beeps merging into a tune backed by a flute seems only appropriate when viewing the stars merging into a panaroma of the Milky Way Galaxy. The last track on this album is perfomed by the Canadian alternative band, The Faunts. In a word, this track is awesome - and it fits in so well with the Mass Effect soundtrack! The Faunts's combination of retro U2-esque guitar playing, the lead singer's brooding vocals and 80s synth is just so perfect for Mass Effect as a credits theme as it truly gives the sense you've been part of an epic intergalactic 80s sci-fi adventure.

Value (50% - Average)

As mentioned before I spent $50AUD to get this album. The actual price is US$13.95 which initially doesn't sound too bad especially considering (thanks to the strong Australian Dollar) it's only about a dollar more off the US price. However, it cost me an extra $30-35 to ship the thing over here. Considering you can get an album by a normal artist (i.e. non-video game soundtrack) for about $30 it brings in to question whether it's really worth it. However, I refrained from giving a "0% - Bad" score due to some tracks on this being truly awesome and the fact that video game soundtracks are hard to come by at your local JB Hi-Fi or Sanity shop, so you're expected to pay a premium... I just hoped not this much!

Length (100% - Good)

No complaints about the length. The soundtrack almost maxed out all the space on a typical 800MB CD and there *are* a whopping 37 tracks on this CD after all. True a lot of them are very short but altogether there's a decent amount of music here.

Total Score: 67%

For those wanting to order the album, you can get it from Amazon or Bioware's online store.

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Fallout 3 Fan Interview #2

Bethesda has released their second Fallout 3 Fan Interview and have given quite comprehensive answers to the questions received. I'll summarise some of them here to give an idea of Fallout 3's features:

1. Fallout 3's themes have not been tempered down compared to the previous games. The world is still a harsh and unforgiving place with many adult themes (but apparently no child-killings or nudity).

2. You can't kill children. Children will flee and any NPCs related to the children will attack you on site if you try. You can kill almost anyone in Fallout 3 but there are a few essential NPCs that you just cannot kill.

3. Some non-humans can be reasoned with or even hired as companions.

4. Crimes committed in a town will be known by the whole town but not the whole world. Crimes committed to a group though can potentially be known across the world, provided the group spans that far.

5. Not only will you be able to don armour to give you defensive benefits but you'll also be able to wear mechanic and trader outfits that will boost your repair and barter skills respectively (reminds me a bit of how outfits in Arcanum can make people see you in a different light).

6. The Inventory is similar to Fallout 1 but things are categorised and there is a limit on how much weight you can carry.

7. Oblivion's Radiant AI system is being used and enhanced to make NPCs seem realistic in what they do day-to-day.

8. Most "dungeons" won't respawn baddies.

9. Map travel works like Oblivion.

10. Being lower in a marksmanship skill means you do less damage with the weapon and to a lesser degree, your accuracy decreases (i.e. your hand wobble).

11. Character customisation sounds similar to what was used in Mass Effect - you get quite a few options for the face but that's about it (you can't alter the body).

12. You can crouch but not go prone or climb.

13. There is no rain in Fallout 3.

14. Like in previous Fallouts, you can only have one companion at a time.

15. It may be possible to finish the game with just unarmed combat - but not 100% confirmed.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Soundtrack Reviewing system

Hey all, this'll be my first game soundtrack review on this blog. I've decided to adopt this scoring system when it comes to reviewing musical albums:

- Artistic Merit: This will be on a track by track basis. Each track will be given a score of 0, 1 or 2. 0 indicates a track that is clearly filler and has no merit whatsoever (relatively rare). Most tracks will get a score of 1 where they're okay or they have some talent in its composition. 2 points are reserved for tracks that stand out from the album - the ones you always go back to play and play it again. All scores are added then divided by the number of tracks multiplied by 2.

- Length: Indicates how much music you're getting on the album. If it maxes the space on your CD it's obviously a very long length - if it's only a couple of tracks totalling 15 minutes, it's not very long. Also uses a 0,1,2 scale where 0 is short, 1 is average and 2 is long.

- Value: Just a final score that gives me a chance to decided whether the . Again it uses a 0,1,2-system where 0 means it's not good value, 1 is decent value and 2 is a bargain.

The three scores are expressed as percentages, added then divided by 3 to give the final percentage.

I've just finished my Mass Effect OST review - I just need to get some further details before uploading it.

Red Alert 3 - New Unit: King Oni

Finally a preview of one of the Japanese units and you won't be disappointed. The King Oni is a gargantuan samurai robot (Gasaraki anyone? Or just about any mech anime for that matter?) that fires laser beams out of its eyes. It's heavily armoured, heavily *armed* and can trample units. Something tells me that this will be the special unit for the side, in that only one can be built at a time (or it's so terribly expensive you wouldn't think of having many of them). The only weakness of the unit is that it has no defense against air units.

Dragon Age - ominous Coming Soon.. notice

Looks like the Dragon Age website has a notice indicating that more information is coming soon, very soon (2 days in fact). Not sure how long that notice has been up there but if there's info coming soon about another Bioware RPG, you know I'm going to be pretty excited :)!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mass Effect Soundtrack has arrived!

Well that was actually a bit of a surprise, after reading all the details on the Bioware Store website I thought it'd take another 6-8 weeks, especially since they suggested that surface mail was going to be used. However, it was actually sent by air mail (thank God) and now I'm enjoying this most excellent fusion of Blade Runner and John Williams created by Jack Wall. The closing track by the Faunts is also highly recommended :). I'll post up a review for it soon.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Monkey Island 1's Plot - in only a few minutes

Thought this was too good to miss but someone's done a very quick rehash of the Secret of Monkey Island's storyline in only a few minutes. The original was done in German but this is the English version :).

Starcraft II Site Update - Zeratul Bio up

Yep - that badass Dark Templar that we all know and love, Zeratul now has a bio posted up on the Starcraft II website :). Doesn't appear that much has been revealed about Zertaul in terms of what's happened between Brood War and Starcraft II but at least it gives you a bit of a recap of events :).

Get your own Battlefield Heroes ringtone

To celebrate the upcoming release of Battlefield Heroes, DICE has given the opportunity for fans to download a copy of the Battlefield Heroes theme as a mobile phone ringtone. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New RA3 unit posted - Apollo Fighter

The latest RA3 unit to grace their website is the Swedish-developed Apollo Fighter. Apparently it's going to be the backbone of the Allied air force. It's basically a VTOL fighter equipped with autocannons. Since it's marked as an air superiority fighter, it can't retaliate against ground targets (although I suppose the earlier mentioned Century Bomber will fulfill that role).

Warhammer Online Preview by 1UP

A short preview posted up by 1UP reveals how Warhammer Online will differ from other MMOs out there. Once again, summarising the preview:

1. Will be focused for players who don't like spending more than 20 minutes at a time of gaming. There's a major focus on the concept of "public quests" in this game where you may stumble upon a part in the persistent world doing the same quest as you.

2. At the completion of quests (I like this feature) you'll be sub-divided loot that is appropriate for your character and depending on how much help you actually provided in the battle as a whole. So if you helped a lot expect to get big rewards in return.

3. They also mentioned again the fact that you have Realm vs Realm combat.

4. One cool feature is the ability to make your own guild emblem, but not only that, you can then use it as part of your standard and then one of your guild members can wield it as a weapon (not to mention any members within a certain radius gains benefits from it)!

Heads-up on next Call of Duty game from a fan

Well there is a rather long post I found on the Call of Duty forums by one of its fans about features we can expect to see in the game so far. I'll try and summarise some of the more interesting points:

1. Will be quite gruesome considering it's in the Pacific Theatre and the Japanese troops are not shy when dishing out torture on POWs.

2. The flamethrower is a central aspect to the game. It apparently makes things much easier when clearing the jungle but of course makes you a tempting target for the enemy.

3. There is a 4 player co-op multiplayer mode (hooray)!

4. There seems to be a perks/experience system similar to what was used in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

5. Promises to be a different style of game to other Call of Duty games since you're against the Japanese. Japanese soldiers will apparently play dead until you can get close enough for them to stab you or worse, detonate a grenade. The Japanese will be masters at camoflague and ambushing US soldiers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Spore Preview by Gamespy

Gamespy has completed a hands-on preview on the latest build of Spore and have attempted to answer the question plaguing everyone's mind, "Spore seems great in terms of the ability to create stuff but is there any game there?". Gamespy were worried that the game would be like Black & White: great in terms of interacting with your creature but a pretty shallow game underneath.

Some facts about Spore from this build (some are old ones, some new):

1. The cellular phase has you choosing whether you're going to be a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore. Choosing which path you go will give you different options and abilities further down the track.
2. Like many games these days, Spore has an Achievements system. For example, the Gamespy team by not killing any other organisms during the cellular phase got a "Pacifist" achievement.
3. Gamespy concluded that there were plenty of hard decisions to make and are convinced that there is good enough gameplay here to keep people occupied

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Where are they now? - Digger and Windmill Software

The first game I ever remember playing on my computer was the 1983 game by Windmill Software, Digger. This game had you controlling a little digging machine, similar in appearance to a bulldozer as you navigated your way around several levels trying to collect all the gems and gold so that not only could you progress to the next level, but get a higher score too. To impede your progress, you would be chased by monsters called hobbins and nobbins. You could either continue to evade them or fight back with one of three ways: (1) Fire a cannon from your Digger (although it takes a few seconds to reload), (2) dislodge bags of gold so that they fall on top of your enemies or (3) wait until a cherry/bonus appears and after consuming it you'll be able to eat the enemies, for a limited time (a bit like Pac-Man). Why the game was so memorable for me was probably for its fun gameplay, bright graphics (red, orange and green CGA) and music (it had Popcorn as its main theme and the William Tell Overture when you got the bonus).

The developers for this game, Windmill Software actually still exist in one form or another, however, they don't produce computer games anymore. Jo-Anne Kempe (ex-wife of game producer, Rob Sleath) now runs the Canadian company which is involved in developing management information systems. Rob Sleath is now an IT Consultant/Webpage developer.

If you're wanting to still play Digger today, thanks to Andrew Jenner, you can download a remade version for Windows, free of charge.

Australian Fallout 3 Preview

A man by the name of Chris Stead from the Australian Gameplayer site has given us a bit more info on Fallout 3. It's definitely starting to whet my appetite! Check out these interesting tidbits:

1. As mentioned before, you start the game literally emerging from the womb - apparently it's pretty gross too.
2. You jump to key moments in your life (ages 1, 10, 16 and 19) that help mold your character - reminds me a bit of Fable in some regards.

and that's about it... somehow I can't read the rest of this article :S. I did however see it mentioned on the Bethesda Blog that the game will have parts similar to Bioware RPGs except even better. Looks like they're competing with Bioware to show that the consequences of your actions really do have an effect on the outcome of the story further down the track.