Jun 24, 2010

Plants vs. Zombies Theme Sung Live!

If you haven't guessed by the sheer amount of posts on this site about Plants vs. Zombies, I kind of have a soft spot for the game. After all, regardless of what any gamer may think, PvZ is an incredible experience and shouldn't be passed up.

Laura Shigihara, the songwriter/composer of the game recently posted a video of her doing a live rendition of the PvZ theme on youtube, complete with George (The game's designer and voice of the zombies) doing what he does best.

I suggest you sit down when watching this, the sheer amount of adorable may be hazardous. 

via Kotaku [Thanks Dustin!]

Spare Parts Debut

After reading the press release for Spare Parts, the game seems a bit like every other action adventure title you've ever played, except it has robots. Two "courageous robots Mar-T and Chip, who find themselves dumped out with the trash on a strange planet. Working together in co-op mode (either local or online), the mechanical duo must find a way to repair an abandoned space ship and escape the planet before evil Lord Krung can dispatch his henchmen to destroy them."

Initially reading Lord Krung as 'Lord Mung', I became deeply concerned over what exactly was going on over at EA Bright Light, the developers of Spare Parts, but was relieved to discover that this game would include a "Super Huge Mega Laser", which assuredly proves this game is mind-blowingly on-track.

Aesthetically looking like Ratchet fell into Crash Bandicoot, it should be engaging to see what exactly Spare Parts has to offer when it releases on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network this winter.

Risk: Factions Launch Trailer

In case this game fell under your radar prior to being released yesterday, you should feel ashamed of yourself. Developed by Stainless Games, the same card-tapping individuals who created Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers - Risk: Factions is looking to refresh the relatively tired turn-based strategy game that many of us got angry over and stormed away from during our childhoods and even over the course of some of our adult lives.

Bringing one of the five factions to the table, each with a different stregth, will attempt to revitalize just about everything about the Risk franchise by showing up on Xbox Live Arcade. Whether you choose to play as Zombies, Robots, Humans or Kitties, it seems like this might be capable of shaking up a previously mundane game. The game is currently available and seemingly a steal for 800MS points, but stay frosty for an incoming review, which should be touching down in the next week or so.

Jun 22, 2010

PopCap Games Shows UK Needs to Get Back to Work; Stop Being Lazy

Surprising nobody in the least, it seems that in a recent study undertaken by PopCap Games, creators of Peggle, BookWorm and Plants vs. Zombies, 65% of workers in the United Kingdom admit to performing non-work activities during working hours of the day. If that wasn't shocking enough, the average Brit take up to one hour during the business day for themselves, while almost half spend time surfing the internet with an additional third playing games online, on their computers or by utilizing a mobile device.

Experts however believe this could be a positive trend and are currently undertaking a second study into the effects of casual games and promoting positive mental health in the workplace. Dr. Carmen Russoniello, Director of the Psychopsychology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic at East Carolina University states, "I believe British workers are taking time out during work as an attempt to manage the consequences of dealing with life stressors including work. Randomised controlled studies in our lab using electroencephalography (brain wave) and heart rate variability measurements have clearly demonstrated that mood improves and stress decreases while taking time out to play casual video games such as Bejeweled 2 and Peggle. People are instinctively taking time off to slow down and let the body and mind rejuvenate. Studies have shown that people’s performance increases and physical and mental problems are decreased saving employers a lot of money as a result of micro breaks. Ironically, however, most employers do not support these mini breaks.”

Adding insult to injury are the more youthful counterparts of the English workforce. Almost 80% of the 16-24 year-olds who were surveyed admitted that they take time out at work. On the other hand, workers aged 55 and over claim that they've never taken any downtime at work. While a staggering 85% of those 16-24 year-olds play games online or via a mobile device such as a PSP, DS or iPhone, Dr. Russoniello's research shows that this can alleviate nervous or anxious workers who may be feeling the strain of increased hours and extra workloads thanks to the recessional downsizing that has been so prevalent worldwide. 

Of the 1,564 UK adults surveyed, they all resided within Great Britain and were over the age of 18. 

Jun 18, 2010

PvZ Pea Shooter Cooler than You

Believe it or not, there are still people who will have no clue as to what Plants vs. Zombies even is - despite an appeal that has grown to be universal. A cleverly disguised tower defense game that puts players in command of various flora in an attempt to stave off waves of famished undead, it turns out to be surprising deep regardless of what platform it's being played on.

Stemming from this (excuse the pun), a user on Etsy, a site specializing in a calvalcade of creative works and the people who design them, offered up a pattern so those truly skilled (read: not me) could actually give this a go and create a Pea Shooter of their very own. Unfortunately, the patterns have long since been sold-out, which is exceptionally disheartening as I had just gotten around to convincing my not-so-traditional-gamer girlfriend to actually set aside her cross-stitching and give this a go - as a gift for me - of course. 

The listing is included after the obligatory jump.

Review: Blur

Some have found it completely outrageous than anyone would attempt to compare Blur to Mario Kart, the problem is that the comparison is so ridiculously easy to make. While Blur is not the rainbows-and-sunshine kart racer that Mario Kart has always been, it is virtually impossible to not see the influences Bizarre Creation took for inspiration when it came time to start developing their racing title. Games under their belt likeProject Gotham Racing and more notablyGeometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Geometry Wars 2, the designers are no strangers to coming up with experiences that borderline on digital heroine capable of keeping players coming back for more on a routine basis. It seems to me that every element of Blur is designed from the ground up to appeal to those who grew into adult playing Mario Kart. Doing away with the cutesy environments and power-ups, Blurattempts to give the player a set of teeth and a license to fly through races by the seam of their pants. Certainly possessing a few frustrating issues, Blur maintains a consistent atmosphere that borderlines on fodder for starting a digital addiction.

Setting out to poignantly embed itself with the player in the first few seconds, Blur doesn’t make any effort to hold any aesthetic back. Taking numerous visual cues from perennial series’ such as Need for Speed, it almost appears as though players have fallen into The Fast and The Furious. Bleeding the mantra of the underground car racing scene, as far as Hollywood would have us all believe, there is an attempt at a serious tonal edge. But when the power-ups come into play during the first race, it devolves into sheer madness.

The first time a power-up is obtained; there is initial curiosity as to what kind of ability the game is placing into your hands. While questions players might have can be answered by the various instructional in-game videos that appear prior to certain races or sections, many will just jump right in haphazardly. The most important factor when it comes to the power-ups though is whether or not they make the player feel powerful when they get picked up and in a roundabout way, each one does. Shunts, boosts and even the shields can all be utilized strategically out of the sheer fact that Blur allows for three power-ups to be held at any given time. What initially seems like merely a blatant, raucous attempt to outshine other racing titles turns into a tactical face-slapping as you realize that combinations used in concert can enable you to make it to the front of the pack faster. Moreover, the ability to deflect opponent launched assaults by properly defending with an appropriate power-up at an apropos time can make a skilled player in even the most mediocre vehicle a force with which to be reckoned.

No doubt there will be more than enough vehicles for even the pickiest player to get their race on with, but that also runs parallel to how many fans a gamer is capable of garnering. As each race tosses a few fans at anyone based on how much damage they do, how well they drive and even what place they finish – it is unavoidable to finish any race without adding a few new screaming fans to your little section of racetrack. Seemingly catching a severe case of Modern Warfare 2, there is little doubt that Bizarre Creations set out to create a game that would keep players coming back and by incentivising the leveling system. Each new level unlocks new vehicles and mods to improve various aspects of your vehicular experience. The customization ability is merely a cherry on top of an already packed plethora of racing types.

Races are genuinely fun as using power-ups amongst crowds of AI controlled vehicles never gets old nor does the more specific racing types. Checkpoint, a single, timed event places the player in one of the race courses that they may or may not have become intimately acquainted with during their time in the specific racing ladder. Players must reach the final checkpoint before the timer hits zero, but are aided along the way by stopwatch icons to give them a few more precious seconds or boost power-ups in the hopes of reaching their goal in the nick of time. The most problematic type though stems from the one on one race at the end of each racing ladder.

Each ladder is divided into the varying racing types combined with an overall set of goals that must be accomplished before the ability to take on you rival in that particular section is unlocked. The objectives could range from collecting a certain number of fans to deflecting an attempting power-up attack – but the end result is always the same – taking on another vehicle head-to-head. While this seems to work in theory, it is without a doubt the biggest failing on the part of Blur. As the majority of the game experience is centered on racing other vehicles en masse either single player or online, it seems like a strong divergence to force a match against a boss character for the sake of progression. Understandably, the design prospects surrounding this decision for the sake of creating compartmentalized experiences within the overall game, but seem to break the pacing in a way that at times feels frustrating and unrecoverable. Adding to the mess is that Blur forces a particular car to be used by the player during these respective races, arguably contributing to the ‘challenge’ of the event. But this just seems to hinder the player, making it feel as though the game is outright screwing with them as they struggle to learn the feel of a new vehicle. Suffice to say, expect several replays.

Regardless of the boss races, there is a lot of fun to be had with Blur pending that you are focused more on fun as opposed to winning. Winning certainly isn’t impossible, but it is exceedingly difficult to recover at certain points in the single-player races and will result in failure or placing third, causing the more competitive minded gamers to retry the racers in an addictively OCD fashion. Such a tenet shines brighter than a pair of oncoming headlights in multiplayer, but definitely holds the game back for those who wish to play Blur entirely solo. Nevertheless, when not racing against the computer and locked in a struggle for first place against other human-controlled vehicles, that is without a doubt where Blur stands out. Failing to distinguish between this principle could certainly frustrate many of the more competitive players who feel another victory is significantly more important than simply having a good time.

More or less, Blur is a great racing game with a lot of potential as a prominent series if Bizarre Creations accepts some creative criticism from both designers and the gaming community alike. Marketing itself as a replacement for Mario Kart is a high-handed shot to take, but still a bit impromptu as it is the first iteration in what could possibly end up being a very engrossing franchise for the players who grew up firing red, blue and green shells at fellow gamers. Despite the similarities in design choices as well as the somewhat kitschy marketing, Blur is worlds apart from many of its contemporaries and offers something different amongst a relatively unchanged canvas.

Jun 17, 2010

Behold the Power of 3DS

What is Kinect's Price?

Monday Engadget was kind enough to discover and post this picture from Gamestop. Depicting at the very least the current cost of Microsoft’s Kinect in Arcade and Elite bundles as well as by itself, this is without a doubt the proof many needed to confirm what wasn’t mentioned during the press conference held earlier today.

While Kinect has proven to be impressive enough thanks to such games as Kinectimals, Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports, it seems a bit early yet for the pricing to be announced, hence why the leaked image was removed shortly after the screenshot was taken, rendering the url to the page dead. Despite the relative viability of Kinect to draw in a significant amount of the more casual crowd into Xbox 360 ownership, the price may seemingly be the initial barrier that must be surmounted if any success is to be achieved.

Utterly, it would be a shame if the device fell into relative obscurity in the same vein as Sega’s 32x peripheral or the 3DO gaming console before it had any real opportunity to garner a following, cult or otherwise.

This has since been confirmed by several retailers as the price, but no official word has been given by Microsoft to support or deny it.

Kinect is slated for release November 4th of this year.

Jun 16, 2010

Killzone 3 Demo E3 2010

Homefront: Making the Familiar Feel Alien

Portal 2 First Gameplay Footage E3 2010

Yes, you read that correctly. This is indeed the first gameplay footage to come out of E3 to actually show off a bit of Portal 2 gameplay, courtesy of IGN. 

Regardless of which system you end up playing it on, I'm sure we can all agree on the simple, basic fact that Portal 2 will, in fact, be one of the most anticipated games of 2011. 

Machinima Interviews Rage's Tim Willits

How The XCOM Debut Almost Ruined It For Me

X-Com is probably one of the better, fluffier strategy games from the bygone era of PC gaming. Tactical elements combined with strategic management of resources and research to fight extraterrestrial foes continued to keep the gameplay fluid, random and extremely engrossing for the players who allowed themselves to be sucked into the world laid out for them by the outstanding narrative premise presented by the story. But with a 2K-helmed iteration on the horizon, those who remember the series fondly are less than enthused.

Halo: Reach Firefight Trailer E3 2010

Zero Punctuation: Alpha Protocol

This sort of renders my second opinion piece as moot, seeing as it hit my feelings on the head.

Microsoft Wants You to Expect More

In what should come as no surprise following the events of Microsoft's E3 keynote presentation, Marc Whitten, Vice-President of Xbox Live, released an editorial that appeared in the Huffington Post reminding all of us just how much Microsoft not only wants to change how we play, but to expect more from our entertainment.

This comes as more or less as a surprise since Microsoft really didn't blow anyone away with their announcements regarding the new interactivity surround Project Natal, oddly renamed Kinect, or the games that just about everyone in the gaming community has been aware of for a while now. Microsoft seemingly failed to really show us anything new at E3 this year with the exception of the new ESPN integration, while cool, will only impress a small aspect of their overall fanbase.

But Microsoft wants you to expect more. After watching all 3 major press conferences from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft - I can plainly say that I did expect more from Microsoft this year and I guess we'll just ahve to wait and see what they bring to the table next year.

The editorial is after the jump. As Microsoft would say, "Jump In." I guess.

Call of Duty Catches Another Case of Eminem

Gears of War 3 E3 2010 Demo

Nintendo 3DS Hands-On - E3 2010

After watching the press conference for Nintendo this year, it wasn't a hard leap to say I was pretty much sold on the 3DS.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta Trailer - E3 2010

Twisted Metal Trailer - E3 2010

Medal of Honor Campaign Trailer - E3 2010

Launching on June 21, that's right, this coming Monday players will be able to get their first taste of Medal of Honor on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Beta codes will be issued by retailers to those who have pre-ordered the title while those who have Bad Company 2 VIP access along with pre-purchasing MoH will recieve early access to the beta starting tomorrow, June 17.

Players will discover two maps included with the beta, Kabul City Ruins and Helmand Valley, both of which are capable of supporting 24 players. At this time, only two gameplay modes have been announced, Team Assault and Combat Mission, but should give EA a pretty good indication as to how much interest is being taken in their reboot of the popular traditionally World War II franchise.

Despite further utilizing beta access as a selective demo, it should be interesting to see how this pans out for the game and the general reactions of the players who garner access to it. More details can be found at medalofhonor.com.

Medal of Honor is slated for release on October 12.

Portal 2 Trailer E3 2010

It's official, Portal 2 is coming in with the velocity of a three-portal jump and it no doubt means a whole bunch of business. Well, as much business as GlaDOS can muster and after that little incident at the end of the original - she seems like she might be ready to throw a bit more at players than they originally thought.

The trailer cleverly placed above was shown at Sony's E3 press conference yesterday at which time it was revealed that Steamworks would be integrated with the PlayStation Network thanks to the classic Valve ingenuity. While there is currently speculation as to why the move occured - be it pressure from stockholders, EA or Sony's ability to procure a sizeable dumptruck and the money to fill it with - it is still good news for anyone who hasn't yet picked up a PS3 and might still need some convincing.

Portal 2 is slated for release in 2011.

Jun 15, 2010

Capcom E3 Line-up

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2: Nathan Spencer returns as a daring, elite soldier equipped with special bionic abilities. In the sequel to 2008’s retro-flavored sidescroller, Spencer will have to face his greatest challenge yet as General Sabio, a new technologically sophisticated foe, is on the brink of launching a deadly missile attack. In addition to his trademark bionic grappling hook used to traverse lush new environments, Nathan Spencer has upgraded his abilities to include the much requested jump move, new weapons and upgraded moves for his bionic arm. Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 is headed to Xbox Live and PlayStation Store in early 2011.

Dead Rising 2: Dead Rising 2 shifts the action from the everyday world of mid-West America introduced in Dead Rising, to the glitz and glamour of Fortune City, America’s latest and greatest entertainment playground. People flock to Fortune City from around the globe to escape from reality and the chance to win big. The original Dead Rising allowed gamers to turn everyday objects they found in a Mall into improvised weapons capable of fending off attacks from hundreds of zombies on screen at any one time. Dead Rising 2 promises to increase the carnage as players can combine found objects to create unique and powerful weapons which will make the undead dead. Cooperative gameplay allows two players to team up at any time to massacre the hordes of zombies they encounter. Dead Rising 2 also allows players to experience the carnage of Terror is Reality with a series of multiplayer challenges for up to four players via online play.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero: A unique and stand alone piece of content, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero will introduce players to the main protagonist, Chuck Greene, and game play features of Dead Rising 2 ahead of its release. Available exclusively to Xbox 360 owners via Xbox Live, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is set two years after the Willamette incident chronicled in the original Dead Rising and three years before the action of Dead Rising 2. Players purchasingDead Rising 2: Case Zero who then go on to buy Dead Rising 2 will be able to carry over character attributes earned such as Player Level, to a maximum of five, Prestige Points alongside skills, Combo Cards and a number of alternate outfits.

Ghost Trick Phantom Detective: Created by the original director of the Ace Attorney franchise, Ghost Trick Phantom Detective introduces Sissel, a murder victim who gains the special power to possess and manipulate objects. On top of being dead, he’s lost all of his memories. He uses his newfound powers to solve the mystery of his suspicious demise while changing the fate of many. Ghost Trick Phantom Detective is headed to the Nintendo DS this Winter.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds: This year’s E3 will be your first chance to get your hands on one of 2011’s most-anticipated titles. Come by the booth to experience the brand-new fighting system and battle it out in frenetic 3-on-3 matches. Rock out with long-awaited Dante from Capcom or challenge him as Marvel’s Deadpool; breaking the fourth wall with his distinctive fighting style inspired by the comics. And it’s all presented in stunning HD courtesy of Capcom’s MT Framework, an advanced version of the graphics engine used forLost Planet 2 and Resident Evil 5.

MotoGP 09/10 DLC: New to the 2010 season of the MotoGP, Silverstone Circuit will be included as part of the first free update to MotoGP 09/10. Released on March 23, MotoGP 09/10 includes all the tracks and racers from the 2009 season with downloadable updates to the tracks, riders, teams and liveries for the 2010 season available as the season unfolds providing the most up to date MotoGP experience than ever before.

Ōkamiden: Taking place many months after the events of Ōkami, Ōkamiden follows the adventures of Chibiterasu – a young sun god who is summoned to protect and restore color to a darkened land. Armed with the powerful Celestial Brush and a vibrant cast of partners each with unique powers and abilities, this little god is ready to make its mark on the world. Ōkamiden is headed to the Nintendo DS in 2011.

Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition with PlayStation Move: Utilizing an update released simultaneously with the PlayStation Move system, Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition will be enhanced this fall with a brand new control scheme incorporating next generation motion tracking technology into the game. The latest chapter in the critically acclaimed franchise, Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition includes the original best-selling game and all downloadable content, including two new playable episodes that take you deeper into Resident Evil 5 lore.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes: Set during a tumultuous period of Japanese history,Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes follows players as they fight their way to the climatic battle of “Sekigahara.” Players will master the fists, swords, spears, bows, and guns of more than a dozen fierce samurai warriors in battles against hundreds of opponents. On their journey to the final battle, unleash powerful and spectacular Basara arts or make use of Hero Time to decimate as many enemies as possible. Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes comes to PS3 and Wii in Fall 2010.

Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millenium MMO E3 2010 Trailer

This confirms basically what many of us have know for a while - Warhammer 40k is getting it's own MMO to compete with World of Warcraft, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: Kotor, Eve - you see where I'm going with this? 

With the slew of MMOs out there and the amount of Warhammer 40k hobbyists who are slavingly loyal to Games Workshop and everything they produce, it should be interesting to see who the gamers are that demonstrate a genuine desire to play this as an MMO. If nothing else, it'll certainly be fun for a bit. 

Either way, this explains why all of those Dawn of War games came to the PC - to basically indoctrinate gamers into wanting to experience the grim darkness of the future.

Okay, I admit it, the Warhound Titan looks pretty damn awesome. 

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood E3 2010 Trailer

The multiplayer romp is arriving courtesy of Ubisoft onto the PlayStation Portable bringing the shadow war occuring between the Assassin's and the Knight Templar into the light.

Things are going to get very ugly.

Dead Space 2 E3 2010 Demo

If one picture is worth a thousand words, what kind of terrifying Hell is this?! Suffice to say, can't wait for Dead Space 2 to arrive next year on 01.25.2011.

New Hot Pursuit On The Horizon

Have I ever mentioned that Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit is one of my favorite games to ever grace any console in any generation? No. Well, it is and you know why? Because being chased by the cops while attempting to break the land-speed record is one of those things that just comes naturally to me - in video games. 

EA has officially announced that they do have a new Hot Pursuit in the works and for those of you who are not in the know, yes it's awesome. And the prospect of finally being able to wear my Sheriff badge while playing on Xbox Live just makes it all the freakin' better. 

Stay tuned as a November release has been slated for the game.

Jun 14, 2010

Metal Gear: Rising E3 2010 Trailer

Forget all about Stealth Action, Raiden is all about Lightning Bolt Action and from the looks of it, he means business.

Star Wars: ToR Trailer puts Episodes I, II and III to Shame

As a born and raised Star Wars fanboy, I say this with no uncertain terms that this is probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen in the SW universe - especially the newer, terrible trilogy. While the MMO Knights of the Old Republic is shaping up to be something that could easily compete with not just Star Trek Online, but World of Warcraft - it sets an impressive prescedence for not only what could be as a game, but a movie (even a CGI movie) as well.

Star Wars: The Old Republic "Hope" trailer after the jump.

Halo: Reach E3 Trailer

Another year, another E3 press conference is the bag and while there is a proverbial storm of news pouring out of the conference - Microsoft has things locked down with some pretty awesome footage from their latest and greatest titles coming out later this year and early next.

Halo: Reach, the last of the Bungie produced Halo titles - for the time being anyway - follows Noble Team, a group of badass Spartans as they punch, stab and shoot their way across the UNSC planet Reach. While everyone was expecting a modicum of gunfire and gore, it seems that no one was expecting what occurs in the final moments of the trailer.

That's right - space combat. Bet you didn't see that coming.

Thanks Hawty!

Jun 10, 2010

Tetris vs. Contra

This was posted on youtube and while I'm not sure who to credit as the original creator, I can succinctly sum up my feelings here

Book Review: Starcraft II: Heaven's Devils

Blizzard is notorious amongst the gaming community for the exceptional storytelling behind each and every character, the realities they inhabit and the games that give those worlds life. Heaven’s Devils, penned by William C. Dietz, while not the most superb example of narrative is still notable for the aspects of the overarching Starcraft story that is fleshed-out. Illustrating the details surrounding the early years of Jim Raynor, his meeting of Tychus Findlay and their experiences serving together in the Confederate Marine Corps. fills in several gaps that had previously been left blank. While the underlying story remains interesting throughout, I feel like there are quite a few issues with the writing that leave it feeling more often than not predictable and rushed, which results in some of the minor characters feeling static, if not shallow. But for a die-hard Starcraft fan, the prospect of learning the background behind Jim Raynor and how he ended up as the character players met in the game, this is an opportunity for information that may prove unavoidably alluring.
You know the drill; hit the Read More link for the full review!

Jun 4, 2010

Review: Alan Wake

As a kid, I would constantly be terrified by the subtle horrors that Stephen King would give to life in his creative wrks, wrestling with nightmares while still utterly compelled in my anxiousness to turn the next page and see what happens next. The same can be said for Alan Wake, which conducts the exact same atmospheric dissonance of a Stephen King novel, thereby compelling gamers to feel seized by similar feelings of dread. Without being grotesquely terrifying as one of the many Silent Hills or Resident Evils, it does possess an innate eeriness that slowly grabs hold of the player. Over the course of the experience, the game never thrusts horror into the narrative. By utilizing Alan Wake as the singularity of light and darkness, players are constantly plagued by a fear of the unknown, which remaining constant throughout continually possesses the potential to make them jump.

For a game that was announced in 2005 and originally slated to be a launch title for the Xbox 360, it would be a slight stretch to argue that Alan Wake is a bit late to the party. However, instead of arriving when everyone has left and things seem to be dying down, the game has come off as appearing fashionably late. After five years of development, it has been refreshing to finally have first-hand experience playing Alan Wake instead of another cavalcade of screen shots and trailers. Moreover, it is exceptional to see that despite the amount of time between announcement and release, Remedy Entertainment maintained the focus to bring an overall exceptional game to the community.

Blizzard vs. MDY Over Game Ownership, Glider

If you head down to your local game retailer or snatch a copy online of World of Warcraft, does the game ultimately belong to you or is it merely a vehicle for a license that grants you the ability to use that software with the unwieldy blessing of the developers? That is what is going to be debated in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when Blizzard, creators of the perennial MMORPG and MDY, developers of Glider face off over the appealed legality of the matter.
Arguably, purchasing a legal copy of a game would entitled you to make copies and adaptations that would allow for unparalleled ease of use as well as the ability to resell the product should you no longer wish to make use of it. That is your basic right as a consumer and cannot be limited by any license on any product that is currently available on PC, consoles or handhelds.
When it comes to Glider however, Blizzard vehemently argues that this product violates the Terms of Use, which violates the license agreed upon every time a player clicks ‘accept’ post-update before heading into Azeroth. Glider, a bot program that essentially plays the game for you, allows for players to garner gold and experience over a significant span of time while running on auto-pilot. A victory for Blizzard in lower court secured the ruling that players don’t own their software, but are licensed to use it basically enabling the insinuation that every World of Warcraft DVD produced is still owned by Blizzard – they’re just letting you use it as long as you don’t break the rules.
Due to copyright ramifications as well as inconsistent laws across not just areas of the United States, but North America and the world, it is clearly understandable that MDY has since appealed the ruling. Of course, the big picture is the licensee versus the owner-licenser argument and could stand to close the book on the many varying degrees of software copyright issues that pertain to the privileges of users. Nevertheless, the case is slated to be heard next week and stands to aptly alter the relationship Blizzard has with its end-users.

Jun 2, 2010

Book Review: Halo: Helljumper

Even with the aid of hindsight, it’s difficult to imagine what the creative minds at Bungie were thinking when they began creating Halo. After the release of the game, which launched alongside Microsoft’s original Xbox, Haloremained a blockbuster hit throughout the lifespan of the console. Over roughly the last decade since then, the series has exploded into a media powerhouse. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising when Halo: Helljumper, a Marvel created comic series, was released to coincide with Halo 3: ODST arriving on the Xbox 360. But, where many would have anticipated a shallow tie-in, Marvel offers up an ordered, well-crafted compendium.

Jun 1, 2010

Murlocs Discovered?

GammaSquad is currently carrying a pretty interesting, if not prophetic 'whale of a tale' about new species of fish that have evolved to have hands. While the scientific community has only been able to discern four of these creatures in areas surrounding Hobart on the Australian island of Tasmania, it still gives little reason to completely discredit these fish now as the earliest possible known descendants of Murlocs.

Directly from National Geographic:
Only four specimens of the elusive four-inch (ten-centimeter) pink handfish have ever been found, and all of those were collected from areas around the city of Hobart (map), on the Australian island of Tasmania.
Though no one has spotted a living pink handfish since 1999, it's taken till now for scientists to formally identify it as a unique species.
The new-species determinations were made based on a number of factors, including number of vertebrae and fin rays, coloration, the presence of scales and spines, and proportional body measurements, according to review author Daniel Gledhill of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO.
All of the world's 14 known species of handfish are found only in shallow, coastal waters off southeastern Australia, the review notes.
 Ugly as they may be, this is a major evolutionary step for fish everywhere. I'm not saying we should start expecting the Australian shores to be littered with slews of tribal villages containing bipedal fish that run at us screaming in their gurgling language, but in the next hundred years or so we could.

Overall, I'm pretty much cool with this as long as the Dark Portal doesn't suddenly open up somewhere. Unless it's Antarctica, that'd be okay.