Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mytheon coming out next year

I admit that my interest for Petroglpyh Games only derives from two reasons, (1) Frank Klepacki works there, one of the best game composers of all time and (2) a lot of the former Westwood Studios employees work there (at least last I heard).

It's interesting then that Petroglyph have strayed from their RTS roots and have decided to develop an MMO - okay maybe not a true MMO but it's actually more like a Diablo clone from what I hear. The game is apparently going to be free and it relies on micro-transactions to make money. Gameplay apparently revolves around collecting stones of power that allows you to spawn different creatures to aid you against the Greco-Roman gods you'll be up against.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Valve appeals Left 4 Dead 2 ban

According to Internode's Games.On.Net, Valve has already appealed the ban the OFLC has made on Left 4 Dead 2. Valve has also provided details on the ratings that other territories have provided:

PEGI (continental Europe) - 18+

ESRB (North America) - M

CERO (Japan) -Z (corresponds to Mature in US)

IFCO (Ireland) - Approved the title for classification.

USK (Germany) - 18+

Singapore - Mature 18

FPB (South Africa) - 18+

KGRB (Korea) -18+

The UK and NZ are yet to complete classification of the game. Most it seems have given the game an R18+ rating which is sad since Australia doesn't have one. However, the US didn't even give an AO (Adults Only) rating to the game which would have prohibited the game for play to anyone younger than 18 years old. Instead they gave a "Mature" rating which from what I can tell is only a recommendation that 17 year-olds and above play the game!

Battlefield Heroes reaches 2 million users

According to Gamespot and a whole bunch of other sites, Battlefield Heroes now has 2 million registered users - quite an achievement for the game although I wonder how many are actually active users? They will be releasing a new map along with a bunch of other goodies for paying customers very soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tropico 3 First Impressions

Well I've dabbled around a bit with the demo of Tropico 3 and have finished the tutorial and 2 scenarios that come with it. All those die-hard fans of the original Tropico can breathe a collective sigh of relief since this game is more of an evolution of the original rather than a drastic change, so many elements will be familiar.

The gameplay remains pretty much the same: you're El Presidente for a small Caribbean republic set during the Cold War. You have control over constructing the primary, secondary and tertiary industries of the island, including the infrastructure and public services. Points are gained for satisfying the people's wishes, how much money the treasury has thanks to profits from exports and tourism, and (last but not least) how much money you've got in your Swiss Bank Account.

Some of the new improvements include new buildings (like the Foreign Aid station), the addition of actual roads to the infrastructure (i.e. cars), El Presidente being a customisable avatar that can actually walk around your island, and you also get to make election speeches too (that can actually be heard on the radio, Mass Effect style!) As you can see, they're not huge changes but incremental ones.

The graphics have been significantly upgraded however, and you'd expect that after the Railroad Tycoon 3 engine they used for the original Tropico! The music and audio have pretty much stayed the same, or even regressed since you don't have actual songs on the soundtrack anymore, just a generic Latin American sounding one - but it's still pretty good.

The only thing I'm finding annoying at the moment is the interface which is not very intuitive. In this game, the right-click actually activates menus whereas in most games, the right-click is used for closing menus or canceling actions - this has caused me to open and close menus by accident many times. Also the mouse wheel is used for zooming (which is pretty much standard in most games) BUT when in Place Building mode the mouse wheel turns into what you use to rotate the building, and zooming is disabled - which can get quite annoying if you're already zoomed up close since you have to exit the Build Mode and make sure you're at just the right distance before deciding to activate it again. It might seem minor but after having to go through the same process several times it can get annoying.

Overall, I think Tropico 3 looks promising and it may very well be a worthy successor to the original Tropico. It isn't a quantum leap but it's more of an incremental change, like SimCity 2 to SimCity 3...

Friday, September 18, 2009

50% off Monkey Island Special Edition on Steam

If you have Steam and haven't got around to downloading Monkey Island: Special Edition, now is your chance. To celebrate "Talk Like A Pirate Day" (which is on tomorrow) Lucasarts are discounting 50% off the price of the game - that's $4.99 USD!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 Refused Classification in Australia

As many of you have probably heard already, Left 4 Dead 2 has been Refused Classification in Australia. Apparently the reason was because the newer version (even though IIRC it's using pretty much the same graphics engine) depicts more violence thanks to the introduction of melee weapons, such as a chainsaw for example. I'm hoping that EA will ask for a review of the decision but I don't know what their chances will be. Developers have tended to be compliant to the needs of censors in the past (e.g. World of Warcraft being altered for Chinese use, Fallout 3 being altered for Australian use, etc.) - although it'd be hard to get rid of the violence in the game (since it's kind of integral).

Left 4 Dead 2 is the 4th game to be Refused Classification this year, along with relative unknowns Necrovision, Risen and Sexy Poker.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Game Music of the Day - Another World

AKA Out of this World this game was truly a breakthrough when it was made - I believe it was coded by one person (ah the good ol' days of gaming) and its use of polygons to create fluid movement was amazing. The intro is pretty awesome as well with a chilling soundtrack.

To be honest though, most of the game is pretty silent, besides the beginning (IIRC) so I'm surprised it even got a game music YouTube video...

Tropico 3 demo released on Steam

It seems like Haemimont Games has released a demo for Tropico 3! This is great as it gives players a chance to try their hands at ruling a banana republic - well at least that's what you did in the original Tropico and apparently in this one too. I'll dabble around with it once I get a chance and then hopefully it'll give an indication whether this game is worthy to be a successor to the original or if it's a lemon republic instead...

(You'll of course need a Steam Account in order to try and play this... or you could always go here to download it off games.on.net :) - oops)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Game Music of the Day - Star Control II

Now this is a great soundtrack! I actually first heard about Star Control II while searching for info on best game soundtracks... a pretty old article by Gamespot mentioned it amongst its top 10 - so I thought it was worth checking out. Thankfully, the game is now freeware so it was easy to acquire. To my delight not only was the music as good as they promised but the game was pretty awesome too.

Each race had a theme song that fit its character perfectly - the cowardly Spathi had an almost frenetic theme song filled with panic, the Slylandro had an almost playful theme to reflect their naive and curious nature, whilst the Humans had industrial dance music, since after all they were the industrial powerhouse behind the former Alliance of Free Stars.

For those of you who loved the music from the game as much as me should check out the Precursors website where the original composers have remixed the tunes for the new freeware version of Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dungeons & Dragons Online is now free!

Or at least there's a free version of it now called "Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited". So for all you MMO tragics out there, here's another one to sink your teeth into :). It does have something going for it though since it's based on the official D&D franchise and lore (and from what I saw there are a lot of classes).

Unfortunately there is a catch (isn't there always?) since it seems to have adopted the model often seen in Asian MMOs in that in order to get extra items you'll have to use micro-transactions - still might be worth a look (but not from me, I don't have enough time to invest in another MMO!)

The Siege of Spinner Cay Review

Towards the end of last month the second episode of Tales of Monkey Island was released and after a few hours dabbling around with it, and several days before I found some free time to write a review. It’s recommended that you read the review I wrote for the first episode since a lot of the judgements in this review will be similar.

Sound (2/5)
Once again, voice acting is great especially Dominic Armato as Guybrush and Alexandra Boyd as Elaine. The only drawback is the sound quality for some of the voice acting can be poor at occasions, especially Elaine who tends to hiss whenever she pronounces “S”. Some research into this on the Telltale forums suggests this isn’t an isolated incident either with previous Telltale games suffering this problem for some users. It’s a pity since adventure games really depend on their artistic merit (aural and visual) and this is a major blow to this episode’s quality. Hopefully the problem will be rectified in future ones although I’m not holding my breath!

Music (5/5)
Once again Michael Land weaves a magical soundtrack for us in the second episode. This episode, even more so than the previous one, really showcases the diversity in his musical styles with dreamy music for the merfolk of the Jerkbait Islands and a re-crafted LeChuck theme that turns the original onto its head.

The Siege of Spinner Cay Gameplay Video

Graphics (4/5)
The same pros and cons exist with the graphics as was the case with the first episode. They appear to have once again used a cookie-cutter when modelling all their pirates but at least they made a bit of effort with the merfolk (although there are two of them who look exactly the same mind you).

Plot (4/5)
I’m happy to say the plot is as good as the first episode so if you liked the first one, you should definitely like the second. The in-jokes galore are back again and most of them occur whenever you encounter a young bounty hunter named Morgan LeFlay – but this is only natural since she’s actually a fan of Guybrush! The rubber tree gag also makes a re-appearance not to mention a short recording of the "I Pirate I Was Meant to Be" sea shanty from The Curse of Monkey Island (which did you know was only included in the English version of the game?.

One of the most interesting aspects of this episode is that you actually have to cooperate with LeChuck in solving some puzzles. This helps the fans learn a bit more about their former adversary’s mindset and how he goes about resolving issues. The episode once again ends with a cliffhanger like the first, but compared to the mystery in the first episode, this one was laugh-out-loud moment for me :).

Like the first episode, this is your typical point 'n' click adventure game, except with 21st century graphics and voice acting of course! I found the puzzles slightly more challenging in this one, having got stuck for a very long time on one in particular. Even though I knew what the general gist of the solution was (and I would be proved correct later) it was just the manner of execution which was my crucial flaw. This makes it frustrating at times yet also more rewarding once you finally figure it out. Getting the difficulty of puzzles in adventure games right is a delicate tightrope to walk; make it too difficult or obscure and people will be too frustrated to continue, make it too easy and the game won’t be very memorable. I think the developers got it just right.

Also as a minor note I finally figured out how to run (hooray!) – this makes the game much more playable since I don’t need to walk everywhere anymore!

Replayability (4/5)
As mentioned in the review on the previous episode, the only replayability that you could possibly get in adventure games is encouraging players to replay the game thanks to the atmosphere generated by combination of excellent dialogue, puzzles, characters, music and graphics. Adventure games can't rely on multiplayer like most FPSs or RTSs do, or multiple classes and quests like RPGs do in order to keep players coming back for more. As far as adventure games go, this series has so far been pretty good in the replayability department thanks to the staple of the Monkey Island series: humour.

Polish (3/5)
I managed to get some occasional CTDs (Crashes-to-Desktop) this time around! Consequently, this episode gets a slightly lower score than the previous one.

Overall - 82%
Not as polished as the first episode of the series but still manages to maintain the laughs.

If you want to get the game, you can purchase it online off Telltale Games.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hell March used on Top Gear

Was browsing Wikipedia and reading Frank Klepacki's article when I read that Top Gear apparently used the classic "Hell March" from "Red Alert" in one of its episodes. Sure enough, here is the video evidence:

New Tropico 3 Trailer

This trailer shows us a little bit of the gameplay, looks to be marked improvement over the original (at least in the graphics department) but will it retain the excellent gameplay of the original?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dragon Age voice actors revealed

Looks like Dragon Age has got quite a bit of voice acting talent in it! Seems like Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager), Tim Russ (also from Star Trek: Voyager), Claudia Black (she's in Farscape and Stargate SG-1) and good ol' Tim Curry will offer their voices to the game.