Tag Archives: Games

PS4 Hype Train? All aboard!

PS4 devkit and new controller image via T3.com

Hype level critical?  Video Games forum posting privileges not revoked?  A much-loved, custom Jack Tretton action figure clutched to your ample bosom?  Your best “Rii-iii-iii-ddd-ggg-eee R-aaa-ccc-eee-rrr!” impersonation ready to be unleashed?

Yep, you’re ready for tonight’s PlayStation press conference and the awe-inducing technology bound to be revealed as the latest iteration of the PlayStation console (are we still calling it Orbis?) makes its worldwide public debut tonight in New York – just as I go to bed, in fact:  I hardly dare guess how large the NeoGaf threads will be by tomorrow morning…

Expect the motion-sensor DualShock pictured above to feature, some increased online functionality to be embedded in the system, heavily rumoured game streaming tech from Gakkai to solve the backwards compatibility issue which bedevils new games consoles and all manner of widgetry to take advantage of those tablets and smartphones which were but so much vapour when the PS3 made its debut in 2007.

In conclusion?   I am, in the parlance of the young people, like so totes stoked, yeah?

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“Wreck-It Ralph” – the ultimate video game movie?

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Video games and movies – traditionally uncomfortable bedfellows, wouldn’t you agree?   Made on the cheap, by inexperienced directors graduating from making adverts and frequently starring actors who would clearly rather be doing something else, the list of video game adaptations is a list of movies which aim low and miss even that humble goal.

So, perhaps, a different strategy is required?

Disney‘s “Wreck-It Ralph” is a movie set in the world of arcade games, has cameo appearances from many classic gaming characters and does such a good job of imbibing the essence of video games and utilising the best aspects of film that you wonder why in the name of Mario Mario anybody would want to make a cheap cash-in action flick out of an FPS when they could be doing something far more worthwhile – and financially lucrative – like this.

The film follows the titular anti-hero, voiced wonderfully by John C. Reilly, who toils as the archetypal bad guy in 1980’s arcade game “Fix-It Felix Jnr.”  A combination of career fatigue, hostile co-workers and a lack of cake prompts Ralph to experience a mid-life crisis and our protagonist realises that he no longer wants to be bad.  As noble an ambition as that is, the video game world needs antagonists and Ralph soon realises that he’s going to have to take matters into his own gigantic, 8-bit hands by winning a medal and reaping the spoils which come from ascending an arcade game’s leader boards.

Sweet Wheels, pint-size.

Sweet Wheels, pint-size.

Though steeped in nerdy video game arcana – oh hai there, Konami code! – “Wreck-It Ralph” functions best as a propulsive action adventure with a simple and mostly unobtrusive moral about the importance of not judging books by their cover, and is well served by a talented voice cast.  Reilly is impeccable as the sad sack wannabe nice guy, Sarah Silverman is just on the right side of the cute/annoying divide as game glitch Vanellope, as ostracised by the other characters in her kart racer game “Sugar Rush” as Ralph is in his digital home.

You don’t need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of arcade gaming, home consoles and game trivia to get the most out of “…Ralph” – sensibly, this film concentrates on inhabiting the world and giving a layer of delightful referential subtext for fans to geek out over whilst allowing a young audience to enjoy a blisteringly-paced adventure with so many primary colours on screen during the “Sugar Rush” race sequences that you’ll think you’re having some sort of acid flash-forward.

A must for gamers, a safe bet for family audiences and a fine addition to the ongoing canon of Disney animation, “Wreck-It Ralph” is a deftly-made, charming example of what the House of Mouse does best and illustrates the combination of artistry and storytelling which marks them out from their competitors in the overcrowded CG animation field.

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New Xbox watches you

 

Kotaku, the gaming news blog which is ever the scourge of the self-described thinking gamer, may have done it again.

Citing information and documents gleaned from arch thorn in the side of Microsoft, SuperDAE, the games blog today claims to have an inside track on many things Xbox 720 related.

Fancy having a Kinect plugged in all the time (because the new Xbox integrates the peripheral video control deeply into the Xbox UI)?  Keen on the idea of playing a game as you install it to the now standard 500gb HD platter?  It would be intriguing to see how much of this stuff comes to pass and how much is just click-bait designed to inspire comment thread meltdowns (which drives more clicks) – if the word on the boards is true, we’ll find out just how much is on the level on or around the big Sony announcement on 20th February.

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New Xbox – no Xbox?

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Ruh-oh.

Edge Online is reporting that Microsoft’s next Xbox console may require users to have a permanent internet connection, virtually ensuring the end of the second-hand games business.

You’ll still be able to buy a physical copy of a game (which will ship with a one-use unlock code, tied to your Gamertag), but Microsoft’s overarching strategy for the next-gen is download-based.  Great if you live in a major city with serious broadband infrastructure, but not so brilliant for everybody else.  Can’t afford a decent download speed?  On a monthly plan which caps your downloads?  Sucks for you.

This is, to say the least, a bloody risky gambit and one designed to lock out a great many gamers who can’t afford to buy a $60/£45 game every month  – I find it hard to believe that Microsoft, of all companies, would view providing a download version as an opportunity to pass on cost savings to the consumer.  Their ‘on-demand’ store on Xbox Live currently charges hilarious prices for games – and I would suspect that controlling the method of delivery to gamers will only make that worse.

Of course, Microsoft don’t comment on rumours and speculation ahead of one of their major product announcements, but if this method comes to pass, I don’t see myself persisting with Xbox gaming – after a while, you begin to get the message that Microsoft are akin to the neighbourhood kid who took their football home when the game wasn’t going their way.

There’s no word on whether Sony are looking to carry out similar measures with their PS4 – and a gambling man would suggest that where Microsoft choose to go, the Japanese company might look to distinguish themselves to consumers by offering a different system which doesn’t seek to marginalize and alienate potential consumers.  Just an idea, mind you.

I’ve given up Xbox live this year and felt no ill-effect from doing so.  If Microsoft are going to treat gamers like this, it might be time for me to jettison any thought of adopting their future platforms.  I mean, as I’m European, it’s not as if Microsoft gives a toss about me anyway, is it?

 

 

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Rogue Failure. Or ‘How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Paragon’

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I am not and never have been a rebel.  In life, as in gaming, I tend to follow a path of general decency and behaving unto others as I would wish for them to treat me – it isn’t cool, it rarely yields great rewards and marks you out to others in the world as being even more of a nerd than they expect you to be.  Thankless existence, unto eternity?  You said it.

I am, dear reader, a Paragon, a Paladin, a White Hat – and I’m ok with it.

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My current favourite gaming experience, the omnipresent “Kingdoms of Amalur”, gives me the chance to play as a rogue class ranged fighter and what I’ve discovered from my now 52 hours of game play is that I’m absolutely useless when given the choice to exercise bad behaviour in games.  ‘Amalur’, for example, gives your levelled-up Rogue class the chance to use your stealth ability to sneak up on adversary and ally alike and either shank them assassin style or simply pickpocket them for nifty loot.

Curiously, I find it more morally acceptable and preferable to sneak up on humanoid aggressors and slice them six ways to Sunday than to go creeping around the game world and cut purses or rifle through wallets – how’s that for a bizarre reaction to choices that a game designer provides you with?   I’d like to think that it doesn’t prove that I’m a sociopath-in-waiting but it does give you pause.

It’s this odd disconnect between real world personal conviction and the options inherent in a video game environment  which has kept me from playing sandbox gangster titles like “Saints Row”, “Mafia” and the grand-daddy of them all, “Grand Theft Auto”.  If I can’t envisage ever wanting to be the characters or inhabiting their world, there’s no way that I’m going to play the title – it’s probably a Boy Scout reaction to the criminal anti-hero archetype but there you go.

That’s not to say that I require characters in-game to be Peter Pureheart and impossibly, impractically noble as that option offers as much of a game-breaking flaw as glitch code or poor design decisions but I don’t want to play games where the protagonist’s raison etre is slaying innocent bystanders and arbitrarily causing car crashes.  It’s just not how I’m wired, folks.

I suppose the point that I’m grasping towards is that I like being offered choice about what I do in games – perhaps I should make 2013 the year that I start to take advantage of those choices and see where they take me in games?

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Is this the next Xbox – or just a very confusing infographic?

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Look! Colours and boxes!  Via VG Leaks.com

So, this is what the inside of the next Xbox looks like, apparently.

It’s a deeply interconnected series of coloured boxes with vaguely impenetrable titles, which will somehow allow you to play the next “Gears of War” in eye-wateringly intense super HD vision from the future.  Why, it’s almost as if we’re on the verge of a new generation of games consoles, Valve-approved PCs and similar free time monopolising devices of fun…

I’m no technologist, but I know that 8 GB of RAM and an identical number of CPU Cores promise lots of potential to deliver more immersive games worlds.  Of course, it’s an arguable point as to whether the complexity of the PS3‘s internal architecture was ever satisfyingly grappled with by most of the multi-platform publishers and developers in this generation of machines – if the 360 couldn’t handle it, it does seem that EA and Activision didn’t exactly shoot for the fences with the systems out there.

Ever played “Dragon Age: Origins” on the PS3?  Exactly.

Expect major fireworks to be unleashed come E3 this June – or possibly earlier, if you believe the word on t3h str33tz…

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Bungie’s Destiny revealed?

Looks…wintry?  Image via Bungie.net

If secrets were an ocean, the internet would be an especially leaky boat.

By accident (or design) early images of Bungie’s ultra top secret, post-“Halo” game, codenamed ‘Destiny’ by those in the know, have leaked online and prompted the presumably sanguine developer to post their own preview image by way of response.  And as that blog post I’ve just linked to suggests, further updates will be coming soon, suggesting that fans of the “Halo” creators action oeuvre might yet get an early Christmas gift to speculate wildly about.

As you can see, the image above suggests that Bungie haven’t gone nuts and come up with a cute IOS casual title – we’re still firmly in the realms of big sci-fi chaps with guns and esoteric hardware, whatever else the game might be about.  Rumours suggest that this universe features a future, space-faring Earth society beaten back to their home planet by a hostile Alien presence in the universe only to be defended by a mysterious alien ship which hovers above our humble blue-and-green marble world.

One to add to my ludicrous pile of shame once it appears in 2013 or 2014, wouldn’t you agree?

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