Sunday, January 30, 2011

Battlefield Bad Company 2 - Africa Parody

Here's a pretty good parody of Toto's "Africa" except it concerns Battlefield Bad Company 2 and is called "Arica" (named after one of the maps, Arica Harbour). And what's a BFBC2 video without some insults towards the Call of Duty series? :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

If only Yes could do a track for Mass Effect 3...

It's probably too late, and also unlikely this would ever occur, but how awesome would it be if the band Yes did the ending credits to Mass Effect 3? I recently acquired a copy of their album "Big Generator" which doesn't have the best songs the band has made (although there are a few good ones), however the stand-out track is "Shoot High, Aim Low" and whenever I hear it I could just imagine it being played at the end of Mass Effect 3. After all, Yes is a prog rock band a lot of there music could be considered "space rock" so it would fit quite easily in a sci-fi game.

Oh and this isn't the first time they've done a track for a sci-fi game - they've already done that with the classic game Homeworld by Relic. So it's not a far stretch of the imagination.

What do you think would be a good ending track for Mass Effect 3? Or should they just incorporate a non-licensed track like they did with Mass Effect 2?

(At the last minute I came across someone doing a similar post on the ME3 forums and think this song is a good idea too since it actually references the Reapers :)):

Sunday, January 16, 2011

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2011 - (#5 to #1)

And here are the remaining games of my most anticipated PC Games of 2011

5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Why it might be good:
  • Deus Ex is one of the greatest games ever. If this is half of the game the original was, it'll be worth playing.
  • Graphics are looking awesome.
Why it might be bad:
  • The game isn't being developed by any of the original developers.
  • Being a prequel there is a chance the developers will use it as an excuse to not link the game to the Deus Ex continuity.
  • No Alexander Brandon for the soundtrack :(
Release Date:
April 2011

4. Portal 2

Why it might be good:
  • More puzzle-solving goodness with the use of portals.
  • Get to learn more about Aperture Science and GLadOS.
  • Trademark black humour from the series seems to be back.
Why it might be bad:
  • The original was pretty good, it'll be a challenge to live up to its high expectations.
Release Date:
21 April 2011

3. Diablo III

Why it might be good:
  • More of that hack 'n' slash RPG goodness
  • Get to see what happens to the world of Sanctuary after the last outing.
Why it might be bad:
  • Diablo III has competitors in this market which are either outright clones or games with similar gameplay elements (e.g. Titan Quest, Dungeon Seige series, Borderlands, Torchlight, Guild Wars, etc.)
  • No Matt Uelmen doing the music :(
  • People might not like the artistic style of the new 3D engine.
Release Date:
Q4 2011 (hopefully just in time for X-mas!)

2. Guild Wars 2

Why it might be good:
  • ArenaNet promises to redefine the MMORPG genre once more. The game promises to be more like a single-player RPG in terms of immersive story than other MMOs.
  • There are now persistent world areas along with traditional instanced ones
  • You get to play as different races besides humans.
  • Jeremy Soule!
  • Still no subscription fee required!
Why it might be bad:
  • ArenaNet's gamble in making a system not reliant on quests may be too much to bear for the traditional MMORPGer
  • It's been an awfully long time since Guild Wars and old Guild Wars players may have moved on to different MMORPGs.
  • What will happen to Guild Wars 1?
Release Date:
2011 (hopefully!)

1. Mass Effect 3

Why it might be good:
  • It will conclude the Mass Effect trilogy with a bang.
  • You will be able to import apparently 1,000 variables from the previous two games, customising your story even more.
  • Looks like you may even get some glimpses of what Earth looks like in the future (a war-ravaged one at that).
Why it might be bad:
  • It could just as easily end the trilogy with a whimper.
  • Juggling that many variables from the previous game can mean the game may be extremely buggy.
Release Date:
Q4 2011

Cheapest Place in Australia to buy Test Drive Unlimited 2

As Test Drive Unlimited 2 is next on my WANT list, I decided to do a bit of research on which store is best to buy from. So here are some options from the usual suspects:

JB Hi-Fi
  • Price: $74
  • Comments: If you pre-order you get 3 cars unlocked including the Aston Martin DBS Carbon Black Edition, Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport and the Ferrari 612 Sessanata

EB Games
  • Price: $78
  • Comments:If you pre-order you get access to the TDU2 Casino Online mini-game. Not actually sure if it's incorporated into the game (since they mention it's standalone) but you apparently can unlock 2 cars by playing it.

  • Price: $74 (incl. FREE shipping)
  • Comments: No pre-order bonuses have been mentioned.

  • Price: USD$40 which is currently about $45
  • Comments: If you pre-order you get the Pagani Zonda Tricolore as an unlockable car

The math seems pretty simple. If you don't mind buying digitally distributed games, Steam's offer seems the way to go.

If you prefer buying a box but don't care about unlocks, get it from GAME.

If you do want unlocks and a boxed copy then you'll have to buy from EB or JB Hi-Fi, depending on which unlocks you prefer.

10 Most Anticipated PC Games of 2011 - (#10 to #6)

And here is my top 10 list of most anticipated PC Games of 2011. The funny thing about this list is that perhaps half the games here have uncertain release dates (and may not even be released in 2011 at all) - it is becoming very likely that they will though...

10. Star Wars: The Old Republic

Why it might be good:
  • Storyline based off the awesome Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic franchise
  • Being developed by Bioware likely means a really immersive universe
  • Story-driven MMO mechanic might make it not boring
Why it might be bad:
  • May ruin the legacy of the KotoR series
  • This is Bioware's first MMO meaning it could be a disaster
  • It remains to be seen how different this MMO is to others in terms of gameplay mechanics
  • Getting KotoR fans to pay a subscription fee to see what is effectively KotoR 3 is not choice.
Release Date:
Q2/Q3 2011

9. Rage

Why it might be good:
  • Being developed by iD Software, the grand-daddy of FPS development studios
  • Looks like an FPS version of Borderlands, which is a good thing
  • Using iD Tech 5, it should have some pretty nice graphics
Why it might be bad:
  • While iD are good at developing engines and fun games, they are sometimes not so good on the story front.
  • Does the market really want another post-apocalyptic game after the likes of Fallout 3 and Borderlands (and their many expansions)?
Release Date:
13 September 2011

8. Test Drive Unlimited 2

Why it might be good:
  • The first TDU was quite revolutionary in that it was a successful online racing game
  • Apparently TDU2 includes the original location of Oahu, Hawaii and the new location of Ibiza to drive around.
  • There are a lot of new distractions and extras to the game when compared to the old TDU.
Why it might be bad:
  • Multiplayer simply didn't work properly for me and my friends. It might be the same for this latest iteration too.
Release Date:
11 February 2011

7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Why it might be good:
  • If they get Jeremy Soule to do the soundtrack again, they're guaranteed an awesome soundtrack
  • You get to explore Skyrim which is where the equivalent of Vikings in the Elder Scrolls universe live. Choice!
  • If Skyrim uses a similar formula to Morrowind and Oblivion, that's guaranteed big bucks for Bethesda Softworks and what every Elder Scrolls fan has been waiting for.
Why it might be bad:
  • The greatest strength of Bethesda Softworks RPGs are also their weakness; the fact the games are so open-ended and long can leave some players bored with the aimless wandering.
Release Date:
11 November 2011

6. Dragon Age II

Why it might be good:
  • The game is going to now be more similar to Mass Effect in terms of conversation, so goodbye silent protagonist.
  • The game allows you to import your character from the first Dragon Age, similar to what you can do in Mass Effect 2.
  • The game is a Bioware RPG, known for developing RPGs with good storylines.
Why it might be bad:
  • If the game is too dumbed down, it might turn off some of the original Dragon Age fans.
Release Date:
11 March 2011

My picks for #5 to #1 will follow soon.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year all!

Seems like I'm always apologising for the lack of updates but it's because this time I'll actually be moving to the other side of the country, back to my hometown.

And that is my latest excuse for not posting, take it or leave it :P.

Anyway, 2011 is going to be an exciting year in terms of updates, there are a lot of highly anticipated games, and I'll be sure to cover them in a top 10 most anticipated games for 2011 post :).

I also have to finish off with reviews for a few games released last year, namely Deathspank, Back to the Future: Episode 1 and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. I then can complete the annual Game of the Year Award for 2010.

So please stay tuned and hopefully I can start knocking some of these off (the Civ V was way overdue as you can tell!).

Civilization V Review

Whenever a new iteration of Civilization comes out, it's heavily anticipated, and the same goes for the latest offering to sport Sid Meier's name, Civilization V. Thinking Firaxis could do no wrong, I bought the Collector's Edition of the game to show my support of the series and to also get a neat soundtrack (or at least so I thought at the time). Does Civ V live up to the greatness of its predecessors? Read on to find out.

Sound (5/5)
As with most Civ games, the sound/audio is exceptional. There are the sounds of war as your units go to battle, the sounds of people going about their business as you zoom in on cities, and the sounds of the countryside as you cross the hills, mountains and plains.

The best part and a new feature to the series is that the AI leaders actually speak in their own respective languages! They're not reading the lines verbatim mind you, but it still adds a bit of authenticity to the experience!

There's no Leonard Nimoy to add a voice to the Technology quotes, but Morgan Sheppard does a pretty good job.

Music (4/5)
A lot of effort went into the music of this game although I think it was somewhat misdirected effort. Sure the music is top notch, and it's performed by a live orchestra, but just because you add a sitar to an orchestral piece, doesn't instantly make your track sound Indian! I think they would've been better off just playing some traditional and authentic pieces from the respective cultures, but I digress. Overall the music is good but some particular pieces I find annoying.

If you want to read more about the soundtrack, check out my review.

Graphics (3/5)
If you're a dumb sod like me not playing your games on Windows 7 to unleash DX11 goodness, then you're in for a shock when you play Civ V since the graphics actually look worse than Civilization IV (or at least are on par). Worse, I get little red scabs on my terrain when it gets generated which is strange, since they don't appear to be artifacts but are part of the game (and my friends don't experience this issue when using non-Windows XP systems).

The game also has very low framerates and my system exceeds all the recommended system requirements, besides the aforementioned operating system... Consequently I can't really hype much about the graphics, but just as well for Civ series, graphics were never really its forte anyway...

Plot (5/5)
As with every Civ game, the plot is determined by you, and the plot involves world history, which is totally awesome! Since no two games will ever be the same, this is what makes the Civilization series great.

Gameplay has improved somewhat - although I reckon they made units slower to produce and occupying one space just to get rid of the nightmare the game becomes late in the game with 500 units moving around each turn! However they've actually failed in this regard it gets much slower later on in the game - huge performance issues.

In terms of specifics to what they've done, I guess the major additions to gameplay include the addition of City States, social policy and the hexagonal grid. Now you have mini-civs which are one-city states that can help or hinder your progress in the game. If you be nice to them, they may give you free units, culture or food. If you aren't, then you can find yourself at war (and they are more likely to ally with each other if you take more than a couple - which is awesome since it's emulating the formation of the Allies in WWII or the United Nations during the Korean War).

The Social Policy has two purposes. It is here where you can choose what are essentially the government types from previous Civ games and completing a requisite number of Social Policy tracks enables you to win the game with a cultural victory. So as you can see, culture has been somewhat revamped.

You also now have the hexagonal grid which doesn't actually seem to do much but it does mean the fronts are now much larger in the game plus there are a whole bunch of combat modifiers in the game that rely on adjacent units - consequently, with a hexagonal grid this opens up more opportunities.

There are many more changes to the game, but they're mostly minor (e.g. some tweaking of the tech tree) or returning back to the game mechanics in previous Civ games (e.g. making ranged units actually ranged).

Replayability (3/5)
Thanks to the addition of Steam achievements, I guess the game is even more replayable before (I'm getting to use that line a lot nowadays - damn you Steam!). The Civilization series was always immensely replayable thanks to the fact you could play on randomised maps with different civilizations. The addition of multiplayer in latter iterations was a welcome addition too but sadly, multiplayer isn't so great in Civ V, in fact it's probably taken a turn for the worse.

Sure it seems more stable and I've yet to see any sync errors, but there is less customisation as you're not allowed to customise your Civilization name or your leader, yet you're allowed to in single player for some reason. Also gone are the combat animations when units attack each other, making battles more like one chess piece taking another. Admittedly, getting rid of the animations does speed up the game somewhat, but I would argue that saving a few seconds a turn by removing the choice combat animations is making the game lose some of its charm overall.

And while we're on the poor multiplayer, unlike in single-player where you can zoom in on threatened units, you can't do so in multiplayer making it very easy to lose units with "Go To" orders or are automatically exploring. Oh and did I mention that you can't actually save multiplayer games and that you have to instead rely on autosaves? This I suppose is a functional system but what happens if you want to have more than one multiplayer game running at a time with two different groups of friends?

I think more harm than good was done to Civ V's multiplayer and sadly, it consequently suffers in the replayability stakes.

The game is generally well polished but it does have occasional bugs (often involving the ending of your turn) and the game froze on me a couple of times while alt+tabbing. Also, the cutscene can't be skipped at the beginning of the game which is a pretty major oversight. Fortunately it can be quite easily rectified with a little tinkering.

Overall - 8/10
There are a lot of good ideas here but unfortunately a myriad of performance issues and a sloppy multiplayer mode prevents this Civ iteration from true greatness.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.