Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Videos for Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization

Found a few new videos on Sid Meier's new Colonization remake on YouTube. Check them out:

Trailer:


Gameplay Video:


Map of the Americas:


Pity I can't really hear any of the music - I was hoping they'd redo some of the classic tunes from the original :)

Hinterland Beta Sign-Up

Anyone wanting to get a chance at beta testing Tilted Mill's (who specialise in city building sims) latest game, Hinterland, go here to put your name on the list :). Being a fan of the city-building sim genre and of Impressions and Tilted Mill, it seems only natural to give it a shot.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Red Alert 3 Cast revealed

And there's a few familiar faces here that even I recognise (and that's saying something since I don't watch much TV/Movies :P). Check out the announcement.

Also check out the video here on YouTube:

Gamespy previews Spore's Civilization Phase

Another interesting preview of the highly anticipated game from Maxis, Spore has been typed up by Gamespy.

This time Gamespy got to play around with the Civilization Phase of the game. To summarise:

- The Civilization Phase starts once you've established a capital city. Then the entire planet is unlocked.

- In previous phases, you're fighting for survival from other animals - the Civilization Phase assumes you've become the dominant species on the planet.

- As you build your capital, people from your species will settle new empires. It's up to you to unite the various empires together, through peaceful or aggressive means.

- This Phase of the game ignores individual creatues.

- The Phase instead focuses on cities, vehicles and resource nodes.

- You can choose the architectural style for your buildings.

- You can also design military vehicles.

- Each city is ranked according to income, happiness and defense.

- You must choose a specialisation for your first city: Religious, Economic of Military. It is apparently important since this will determine what strategy you use against your first opponent. An economic city cannot produce tanks.

- Three ways of taking over cities which corresponds with the specialisations: by religious, economic or military conquests. It also corresponds well to the happiness, income and defense model for cities. Low happiness = easy religious conquest, low income = easy economic conquest and low defense = easy military conquest.

- Gamespy worries that the strategic model may be a bit too simple for hardcore gamers. The victor of battles is the simply the one who brings the most tanks along.

- Taking over four cities unlocks flying vehicles.

Gamespy gets a glimpse of Sims 3 gameplay

Gamespy has recently typed up a preview of The Sims 3 after watching a demo of it actually functioning. To summarise:

- As mentioned before, the whole neighbourhood progresses in time now rather than individual lots as in previous The Sims games.

- Because of the above point where you live does matter since it determines how long it takes to visit friends, the shops or go to work.

- Bad news for micromanagers: other Sims are doing their own thing like changing jobs or having babies and you can't do anything about it! The games seems to be aimed directly at casual gamers.

- Sims now have traits like "Good Conversationliast", "Schmoozer", "Extremely Materialistic", "Ambitious" and "Party Animal". These all affect your Sim's personality. Apparently there's a lot to choose from.

- Gone are the 1-10 attribute bars like "neatness". This has been replaced with the "Neat Freak" and "Slob" traits.

- Many other statistics relating to mood have been chucked out as well. Only Energy, Food, Bladder and Entertainment are tracked.

- Instead of bad, normal and platinum moods, Sims now get "moodlets". For example when they study at a library they could be in a "studious moodlet" which makes them study more efficiently. If a loved one dies they might experience a "mourning moodlet", etc.

- Character customisation is even more detailed. Heavy-set people actually look it and you can actually change different layers of hair.

- You can even customise clothes with your own patterns now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Need for Speed Undercover preview by Gamespy

Gamespy has written up a preview on Need for Speed Undercover at it sounds pretty positive so far. To summarise:

- Cop cars are returning
- Cosmetic damage model is returning (i.e. damage doesn't actually hinder the performance of your vehicle)
- Free roam is returning, with three cities to explore.
- Basically it's like a revamped Need for Speed: Underground, which is what core NFS fans seem to want (myself included), however...
- One change they have made is outrageous modding of your car has been toned down and although you can mod your car it is more subdued with a focus on performance improvements rather than aesthetic.

Expect the game to hit stores in the US (and hopefully Australia) on the 17th November later this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

EA merger with Take Two is A-OK with authorities

According to this article on NEWS.COM.AU, US antitrust authorities would approve a merger between EA and Take Two.

It would be interesting to see what happens as a result of this merger. EA is notorious amongst gamers for having the reputation of dumbing down games, pumping out sequels and stamping out innovation in the gaming industry. However, in the past few years I believe EA acknowledges that this image is hurting them and they've loosened the leash on some of their more recent acquisitions. One of their now older acquisitions, Maxis, is an example of a development house that they've pretty much left alone to do their own thing. However will they do the same with prominent Take Two developers like Rockstar and Firaxis (my personal favourite)?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Starcraft II Q&A Batch 43 released

Check out the latest Q&A on Starcraft II. To summarise:

- There will be critters.
- Terran Nomad and Protoss Stalker units have undergone a complete revamp in terms of looks.
- Hydralisks are more of an anti-air unit in Starcraft II.

Gamespy previews Call of Duty 5

Gamespy has written up a preview for the upcoming Call of Duty from Treyarch. Here's a summary of their preview:

- CoD5 is using a slightly modified version of the CoD4 engine.
- There will be not one, but two co-op modes.
- Standard Co-op is for 2-4 players and experience points are gained through co-op play.
- Feels worthy of the CoD title so far.
- There is a Russian campaign in Europe (so it's not only the Pacific theatre)
- There is also a competitive co-op mode that is more risky since you've got to achieve a certain amount of kills in a certain amount of time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Red Alert 3 Unit Profile: Imperial Warrior


Another new unit profile has been posted on the Red Alert 3 website. Introducing the grunt for the Japanese side, the Imperial Warrior. Basically he's equipped with a carbine but can use a nasty katana at close range to hack his oppponent to bits.

Sims 3 Site Updated


Well it's been about time, but the Sims 3 website has been updated and it looks like they're now promising to give more regular updates to the site over the coming months.
This month they've decided to start with a feature on the new "seamless neighbourhoods" that exist in the game. Basically, in the old Sims games, each house was its own microcosm and they all acted pretty much independently of each other. The only contact you having with the outside world being the other Sims in the neighbourhood who you could invite over. However this created an interesting abberration: in the Sims 2 ageing was introduced and while you were at a Sim's house, they would age - but their friends who came to visit, wouldn't - meaning the whole neighbourhood was out of sync (if you played with one Sim more than another, two Sims who were originally the same age could end up a generation apart). Perhaps this new "seamless neighbourhood" feature though will put an end to that.

Age of Booty submitted for Microsoft Certification Testing

Well Age of Booty must be near completion if Certain Affinity have submitted the game in for approval by Microsoft. It seems that they've even given us a hint at the release date which should be a late September - early October release.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gaming Tips and Tricks #2: Blue Screen of Death

Some of you might not want to see the Blue Screen of Death but it's a whole lot more helpful than not reading anything at all and just watching your computer automatically reboot everytime something goes wrong. If you want some info to diagnose the problem (e.g. what is the offending file) then you'll want to enable the feature (which I believe is disabled by default on Windows XP and Vista). Here are some instructions (gathered from here) on how to enable the Blue Screen of Death for troubleshooting purposes.

1) Click Start Button

2) From the Start Menu click Control Panel

3) In the Control Panel click the System icon

4) In the System Window look on the left hand side of the window and you will see a list of options. Click on the Advanced System Settings option.

5) Computer Management requires Administrator privileges so you may find the the User Account Control will pop up. If it does then enter the required information (if you are not the administrator) or, if you are the administrator, click the Continue button.

6) In the Advanced Settings window look for the Startup and Recovery section and then Click the Settings button

7) In the Startup and Recovery window look for the section marked System Failure and remove the 'tick' mark from the 'Automatically Restart' option. Now press the OK button.

8) Finally click the OK button on the System Properties Window and then close the System Window.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Battlefield Heroes Preview by Gamespy

Another preview has been provided on Battlefield Heroes by Gamespy (they must be pretty excited by it - I think this is their third one). Nothing really new to report although I believe this part is interesting:

The game's matchmaking system will also work to impose balance. According to
Cousins, when players jump into a game, they'll automatically be matched with
like-leveled teams. Since there are no server lists to speak of, it will all
evidently work behind the scenes, bringing you and whoever you happen to be
grouped with into an appropriate match...


Hopefully that suggests that you and your friends can group up together to get past the matchmaking system since it would really suck if it forced you and your friends to be in different games based on your skill levels.

Gamespy gives Space Siege 2.5/5

Looks like Gamespy were like myself, unimpressed with Space Siege. They've awarded tha game 2.5/5 stars or 50%. Basically it boiled down to the game not being fun and repetitive. They even took out the best bits of action RPGs (extensive character customisation and loot!). In the end, they reckon the older Dungeon Siege is superior to Space Siege - the only thing going for it is it being in a sci-fi setting and being mildly fun in multiplayer.

Check out the review here.

Spore goes gold!

According to this article at Gamespy, EA and Maxis have reported that Spore has gone gold - that means the game is finished and is now in production.

Can't wait to get my copy! :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Price Check for Spore and Colonization

Just thought I'd get a price-check from Australia's popular retailers on two games in particular that I want to get next month, Spore and Colonization.

Seems like JB will be the way to go - and there's only one choice for Colo at the moment!

Spore
- EB Games: $99.95
- GAME: $99.95
- Games Warehouse: $89.95
- JB Hi-Fi: $79.00

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization
- EB Games: N/A
- GAME: N/A
- Games Warehouse: $44.95
- JB Hi-Fi: N/A

Heavy Update coming soon for TF2

News on Gamespy says a new "Heavy Update" is coming out for Team Fortress 2. It will apparently be the biggest update yet and includes new maps, a new mode and new achievements and updates to the Heavy (most likely, the aforementioned achievements and perhaps some new unlockable weapons I'd say).

More Diablos in the pipeline?

Gamespy has just dissected some information from an MTV blog that indicates that Diablo III may not be the last Diablo in the series. Check it out here.

Sid Meier's Colonization Primer - courtesy of IGN

For those of you who've heard of Sid Meier's Colonization but have never played it check this primer for an overview of what it's all about.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gaming Tips and Tricks #1: Process Affinity

Hey all. I've decided to start writing "Gaming Tips and Tricks" articles every so often that may help some of you gamers out there in troubleshooting problems.

Today's lesson is about multi-core processors and older Windows games. You may notice that on older Windows games such as The Sims 2 or System Shock 2, that the game may become unstable, have intermittent drops in framerate or even freeze your computer. If you have a processor with multiple cores, this may be the culprit. The manual fix for this is everytime you run a game you'll need to change the "process affinity". How do you do this? Read ahead:

Note that the instructions here are for Windows Vista. The process is similar for Windows XP although it doesn't have the UAC/security prompts.

1. Boot up your game
2. Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc)
3. Click the Processes Tab.
4. Click on the Show Processes from all users button
5. Click Continue button for UAC Prompt
6. Right-click the process you want to change the process affinity on (it should have a name similar to the name of the game).
7. Click on Set Affinity.
8. Check the CPUs that you want the process to run on. Usually you'll need to disable all cores except one in order to get older games to work.
9. Click OK
10. Close Task Manager when done. Note that the changes you make only last while the process is running. i.e. the usage of one core will only apply to your current gaming session. Once you close the game, all cores will be used again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Australia to receive edited version of Fallout 3?

Rumours are circulating that an edited version of Fallout 3 is to be released in Australia that will censor the drug references that got it banned in the first place. Check the following sites for news on it:

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3169154
http://www.bethsoft.com/bgsforums/index.php?showtopic=865304&st=0
http://www.gamestooge.com/2008/08/03/fallout-3-approved-in-australia-no-drugs-anymore/
http://www.gamestooge.com/2008/08/03/fallout-3-aussie-unban-update/

Frankly, I think it's quite ridiculous how Fallout 3 got banned. Perhaps it's again another publicity stunt by the OFLC to show how ridiculous the Australian rating system is for computer games (i.e. we have no R18+ rating but other media do).

Fury shuts its doors

Well it seems like the very first Australian-made MMO has unfortunately come to its end. Fury, a PvP-centric fantasy MMO developed by Auran has had all its servers and website shut down due to a failure in finding "a viable business model". My sympathies to those who actually forked out money for the game - this is the problem with multiplayer-only games in general - if it isn't popular anymore it's going to be too expensive to support, and consequently shut down. Not so bad if it's been around for several years (so at least you can say you've got your money's worth) but when it was around for only 10 months like Fury has, you might not feel so satisfied.

H.A.W.X. Q&A Updated

The Q&A for Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. has been updated recently. Here's a summary of info regarding the game:

1. The game will be less realistic than games like IL-2 Sturmovik and Lock-On
2. Being developed by Ubisoft Romania
3. More than 50 aircraft featured in the game.
4. There will be realistic cockpits for each of the playable aircraft (that's pretty awesome if they can pull that off!)
5. Ammo is limited (so it's kind of realistic).
6. Players won't need to worry about running out of fuel (this is related to point 1)
7. The player unlocks new planes using experience points.
8. Damage model is simplified.
9. Game will likely be released first quarter of 2009.
10. Game will be available on Xbox360, PS3 and PC.
11. There will be a ranking system.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Far Cry 2 system requirements

Far Cry 2 system requirements have been revealed on the developer blog. Check out what rig you'll need to run it:

Minimum

CPU: Pentium 4 3.2GHz, Pentium D 2.66GHz, AMD Athlon 64 3500+ or better
RAM: 1GB
Video: NVIDIA 6800 or ATI X1650 or better (Shader Model 3 and 256MB of memory required).
DVD-ROM
Hard disk space: 12GB of free hard disk space

Recommended

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo Family, AMD 64 X2 5200+, AMD Phenom or better
RAM: 2GB
Video: NVIDIA 8600GTS, ATI X1900 or better (512MB of memory required).
5.1 Sound card recommended

Supported video cards:
NVidia 6800, NVidia 7000 series, 8000 series, 9000 series, 200 series. 8800M and 8700M supported for laptops. ATI X1650 – 1950 series , HD2000 series , HD3000 series , HD4000 series

New RA3 unit profiles: Sky-Wing and Stingray



2 new unit profiles from the RA3 website were posted recently. One is of the Japanese transformer (TRANSFORMERS... MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE.... sorry couldn't help myself :P) Sea-Wing/Sky-Wing and the second is the Stingray, a Soviet amphibious vehicle (there seems to be a lot of amphibious vehicles in this game!)

Anyway, the Sea-Wing/Sky-Wing summarised:

- Has two modes - a submarine mode where it can surface to shoot down aircraft with its AA guns (but it can't attack other naval targets.... which is kind of strange) and an aircraft mode where it can fire a weapon that is good against weak targets.
- In Sea-Wing mode, it's almost totally undetectable whilst underwater.
- Principally used as a spotter for battleships.

And the Stingray summarised:

- Armed with Tesla coil-guns
- Can perform a Tesla surge that electrocutes everything in the surrounding water. Mainly used to kill off Allied dolphins.
- Not as maneuverable on land as in the water, the Stingray still has the ability to walk on land (it looks a bit like a robotic spider) if the need arises.
- Stingray's are lightly armoured.

Tilted Mill to produce Hinterland


I think it's a good premise and even though some people are critical about Tilted Mill's past games (Children of the Nile, Caesar IV, SimCity Societies, etc.), I actually enjoy them to some degree. They're good casual games that you can use to de-stress after playing more competitive or difficult ones :).

Hinterland apparently mixes the RPG and City-building sim genres (what Tilted Mill is renown for) by allowing you to run a little hamlet in a fantasy kingdom. Basically, in order for your hamlet to grow, some ingredients need to be gathered from the monsters roaming in the wilderness. This is where you gather a party of your villagers (since each villager has stats) and get them to go on quests to slay the monsters for loot. It sounds like a clever idea that may just work. Not to mention you can't complain about the price: they're aiming to charge only $20 for it (apparently it's direct download - most likely on Steam considering Children of the Nile is on it).

According to Gamespy, it's out Q4 2008.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pathfinder Episode III

The latest episode from Oggycheese's Pathfinder series (based off Guild Wars). Enjoy!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

EA announces Shipping Date for Warhammer Online

For you MMORPG fanatics out there, September the 18th is the date to pencil in as that will be when Warhammer Online is released (although if I'm reading it right, it's an early release for those who pre-order the game).

Subscription fees for the game are (with Australian Dollar equivalents):

- Monthly subscription: $15USD = $16AUD
- 3-Month subscription: $42USD = $46AUD
- 6-Month subscription: $78USD = $86AUD

So for one year, it'll cost about $172 Australian Dollars in subscription fees.

The most exciting news I could gather from the announcement is that the servers going live will be located in North America, Europe and Oceania - hopefully by "Oceania" they actually mean Australia which will be a great boon for Australian MMO players.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gemma Atkinson to play Lt. Eva in RA3


A minor UK celebrity/pin-up girl, Gemma Atkinson, will play the role of Lt. Eva in Red Alert 3... is her jacket low-cut enough? :O

Check out the site if you want to grab a couple of wallpapers with her in it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Space Siege Demo Review

I know, I know - it's only a demo so how could I possibly pass judgement on it? Well, demos are sneak peeks into what the final game is going to be like, so basically it's the closest legitimate means for the public to try before they buy. Of course take this review (and the demo itself if you play it) with a grain of salt since the final game may be better, or it may be worse.



However, based on what I've seen, this is the score I'll be giving:

Sound (2/5)
Pretty standard sci-fi sound effects with average voice-acting.

Music (2/5)
I can't really hear the music but it seems to be standard sci-fi fare. At least it's not so annoying that it distracts you from the gameplay.

Graphics (3/5)
Graphics wise, the game looks a bit dated but it mostly looks good enough. The addition of a physics engine to this genre of game is a nice touch though and fairly novel, resulting in the shooting of barrels and gas cylinders to bounce around the map causing explosive havoc.

Plot (1/5)
The plot is a little worse than average since not only is it the typical humans fighting aliens that are trying to exterminate us but at least from the demo, there wasn't much evidence of complex NPC interaction at all. Fair enough, the demo probably skimped on these details since it's basically a combat tutorial, nevertheless, it would've been nice for Gas Powered Games to advertise their NPC interaction system.

The introduction of a dilemma on whether to improve your body with cybernetics at the expense of your Humanity is admittedly interesting however I don't see how this is going to be balanced. In fact, from this demo it would seem that there's only benefits to be gained in losing your Humanity (upgrading yourself in this demo results in you being able to lift a minigun whereas you wouldn't be able to do so as your average Joe Human). Also improving your body with cybernetics isn't exactly a novel idea as this idea was already played around with in another Diablo clone turned sci-fi called "Restricted Area".

Gameplay (2/5)
Gameplay seems to be pretty standard Dungeon Siege or Diablo fare, except you're firing an assault rifle. Points can be set in improving damage done by your weapons or special abilities. Unfortunately the demo didn't give any opportunity to play around with your robot companion.


Replayability (2/5)
Hard to tell how replayable this game is. It doesn't seem you have any ability to customise the appearance of your main character in single player mode and you would only hope that they have the option in multiplayer (which was disabled for the demo) - a squad of four Seth Walkers, all identical in appearance smells of laziness. As with previous Siege games, levels aren't procedurally generated so maps will be pretty much the same each time you play them. With little prospect of customer characterisation (besides choosing how much Humanity to sacrifice and what upgrades to put on your robot) - I can't see there being too much scope for replayability beyond what is the norm.

Polish (1/5)
It actually probably would've been better if the developers locked the view of the player so that it was similar to the Diablo games. Giving the user the ability to pan the camera, which may seem like a good idea at first, becomes quite cumbersome, and if you're not looking at a certain angle at a certain time, you can miss the fact you're being attacked by hostile aliens. The demo also ran suprisingly slow on my machine - around 30FPS on a machine with 8800GT and a dual core E8400 with 4GB of RAM. The visual aspects of the UI though are good with big icons and minimal visual clutter.

Overall - 38%
From the looks of it this game isn't going to be necessarily a bad game - you wouldn't expect that from a company like Gas Powered Games which isn't exactly a stranger to the games development scene. However it doesn't seem to be anything really special either besides a revamped Dungeon Siege in space. Multiplayer may be fun and that may help to breathe some more appeal into this title but at the moment, I'm expecting a well polished, but so-so action point 'n' click RPG.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Red Alert 3 Site Update: Q&A and The Dolphin

Once again some new Red Alert 3 site updates. Once again we have some more questions answered in the Q&A which can be summarised below:

1. Mirage tanks have a mobile gap generator which cloaks other units. It also has the innate ability to disguise itself with the surroundings (as it used to do).

2. Spies cannot bribe aircraft or construction yards.

3. Tier 1 base defences can be placed on land and water. However, non-amphibious infantry obviously cannot man the ones placed on water.

4. Japan was finally decided as a side since it fit in well with the alternate WWII storyline plus there was a lot of Japanese culture through anime and manga that the team could use as inspiration for the side.

And we've also got the return of The Dolphin from RA2. Check out its details:

1. Pretty much the same in every respect as the RA2 dolphins except they can now also leap in the air to avoid harm.

2. They apparently have a "superior scan range"

3. They're apparently not expensive.

Tim Willits from id Software, talks about Rage

Here's some points that summarises this Gamespy article about id's upcoming Rage:

1. Uses id Tech 5 engine

2. Part FPS, Part Vehicle Combat

3. Post-apocalyptic setting brought upon by comet colliding with Earth. You wake up to find the world in anarchy even though there was meant to be a plan to rebuild the Earth in the event such a catastrophe eventuated.

4. Driving the vehicle is meant to be simplified and not realistic. This is to appease FPS fans who might not like driving realism.

5. Driving will offer multiple ways to complete missions. You can for example drive past danger and take a safer route, or go head-on.

6. Functional and aesthetic modifications will be available for your vehicle.

7. You'll have an in-depth inventory system (sounds a bit RPG-ish doesn't it? Not your typical id FPS!)

8. Multiplayer for Rage will be more co-op focused than deathmatch (which other upcoming id titles "Quake Live", "Doom IV" and "Wolfenstein" will offer).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Guild Wars Pathfinder Episode II

Oggycheese has done it again and made another hilarious episode of his new series, Pathfinder. The Tsumei Village skit was particularly funny, in a Monty-Python-esque way :).

Friday, August 1, 2008

Battlefield Heroes - Beta Keys up for grabs

If you're quick enough, each time the Battlefield Heroes website updates with a piece of news (apparently two times a week up until release) you have a chance of getting a beta key (provided you're one of the first twenty to add a comment to the news article).

So check out the Battlefield Heroes website for your chance to grab a key! Apparently any beta testers that are selected will eventually get invites to give to their friends too!

Unfortunately, the reason DICE are doing this is because Battlefield Heroes's release date has been delayed. I'm guessing it'll come out in Fall 2008 now (Spring 2008 in Australia).

Red Alert 3: Shinobi Unit

A new profile has cropped up on the Red Alert 3 website: the Shinobi unit. This is basically your traditional Japanese ninja and seems to work as a sort of Commando/Spy for the Empire. The Shinobi can infiltrate enemy buildings and also kill most infantry in one go with his katana. His secondary ability allows him to drop a smoke grenade and make a hasty retreat.

Starcraft 2 - Terran Battlecruiser out of Lego



Check out this site with a Terran Battlecruiser and some other Terran units and buildings, all made out of Lego!