Activision today announced a subscription based service which will compliment the Call of Duty series called Call of Duty Elite. No price has been confirmed but Activision are saying it will be similar to video streaming services like Netfix in the US which costs $7.99 (about €5.50) a month. For your money you get all the DLC as it’s released as well as access to a huge stat tracking system which goes into the tiniest of details with stat infused maps and iPhone and iPad compatibility.
There seems to be a genel uproar on the internet today but here’s my thoughts on it. I don’t like it.Continue →
Might & Magic: Clash Hero’s represents a near perfect match of puzzle mechanics and RPG elements which I’m a complete sucker for. It was originally a Nintendo DS game, which as a hand held is the perfect platform for puzzle games but I’m glad Ubisoft have now made it available to download on Xbox 360 as its such a genuinely unique and well thought out game.
The plot follows five young adventurers who have been thrown together in order to stop demons from taking over the world. Its set in the Might & Magic universe but don’t worry, you really don’t have to know anything about it. Its a stand alone story featuring wizards, elves, knights and dark forces. That is all you need.Continue →
Torchlight arrived on the PC’s way back in 2009 and to be a huge hit. No-one expected much but once it was played, word of mouth and some crazy price drops, propelled it into stardom. Since the new XBLA console iteration was announced, the lazy part of me was really looking forward to being able to lay back on the couch and play a ‘living-room’ version of the PC game which I had sunk countless of hours into.
If you aren’t familiar with Torchlight, you can choose to play as one of three characters, either an Alchemist, Destroyer or Vanquisher, each with different abilities and weapon classes. You’ll explore the mines beneath the town of Torchlight killing monsters picking up gold and grabbing tonnes of loot, as you collect weapon sets, craft items, and feed your pet items to turn them into different types of creatures to fight by your side.
When launched, Torchlight was a PC game through and through. Players would use their mouse to click their way down through the levels, on enemies and practically everything. So would the game be able to translate well from PC to Xbox? Thankfully Runic Games have done a great job at utilizing the Xbox controller with the character movement on the controllers analogue stick being particularly smooth and the navigation thorough a plethora of menus without a mouse or keyboard was not a bad as I thought it might be. Spells and items are mapped to different buttons on the controller and I soon got used it, possibly even preferring it to the PC.
The games retains the highly stylised characters and environments from its PC predecessor and it still looks excellent. There are a few bonus features that Xbox fans will be given including new armour sets, new quests, and a new pet called a Chakawary. I chose him to see what he was like and the best way to describe him would be to compare him to the dinosaur in Jurassic Park that spits in the fat guys face, then eats him.
With a new console friendly streamlined version of Torchlight, I think Runic Games are going to see their biggest success to-date. It has everything, eye-popping environments and character models, great voice work and a sweeping musical score. Couple this with a variety of difficulty settings to appease all levels of gamers and a mountain of different loot items, you’re probably going to come back to the game quite a few times.
The story is somewhat lacking, but for me wasn’t really important when tracking down quests and taking on the beastly minions. All to easily I lost track of time whilst exploring the depths of the mines, which was great for the gamer in me, but bad for the real life priorities like eating and leaving the house. If you’ve enjoyed similar Dungeon crawler games on the PC such as the Diablo series, you will love this, if you haven’t played this style of game before I’d still recommend picking it up. Its has something for everyone, its deep enough to satisfy even the hardiest of loot hoarders but also approachable for novices to the genre. A must have.
So this is Christmas and what have you learned? Well if you’re a gamer, you’ve probably learned that so many titles came out in the last month or two that you really cant decide which title you want to devote your time too. Currently the big game online is Call of Duty: Black Ops, but not so long ago it if your memory hasn’t been wiped by continuous air strikes, attack dogs, and remote controlled explosives, it was Halo Reach.
The folks over at Bungie definitely haven’t forgotten this; they’ve made a damn good game and they want to make sure that people keep playing it and getting the most value out of its online offerings. With this in mind, on the 30th of November Bungie released the first new map pack for Halo Reach.
The map pack entitled the “Noble Map pack” costs 800 Microsoft Points (roughly €9.30) and if you’re a fan of the series, and can’t get enough of your Halo, is well worth the bang for your buck. The pack itself is comprised of three separate maps, two large scale maps for 8-16 players and one smaller scale map for 2-8 players (for when you just cant find enough people to play with or your connection speed doesn’t deal so well with large battles).
The smaller scale map is called “Anchor 9” and is set within a low orbit-dry dock it is made up of narrow hallways with a central open hangar bay (perfect for good old fashioned close combat).
The two larger maps are called “Tempest” and “Breakpoint”. Tempest is set on a snowy mountain tops with a number of crevices and bridges surrounding the peak and contains a number of tunnels and lab buildings for shelter; it’s perfect for those big team battles.“Breakpoint” is set on a rocky piece of terrain bordered by the sea. If you’re a fan of the Halo series, think of it as Halo 3’s classic Valhalla map with a scenic ocean view. This map has all you need for a big team assault.
So there you have it, three maps for 800 Microsoft Points, if you’ve bought these kind of packs before it’s a pretty standard offering, however to sweeten the deal Bungie have thrown in a couple of little extras. Firstly, you can take these maps into Forge and edit them to create your own versions and game modes which you can then share with the Halo Reach Community. Secondly, for all you point obsessed perfectionists Bungie has included an additional bunch of achievements worth 250 gamerscore points for you to unlock.
I’ve been playing reach for quite some time and was finding the included existing maps to get worn, if you enjoy reach and are looking to add some freshness back into the online game play then I’d highly recommend investing in this add-on.Continue →
If you read my review or listened to last week’s podcast then you’ve probably figured I quite like Just Cause 2. But the sandbox on steroids has flaws, mainly to do with annoying little things that could easily be fixed and thanks to some clever PC mods already have been. I figured I’d write something in the hope that my ideas will be stolen and implemented everywhere. I’m also not the first to think of some of these, Chris Livingston and Tom Francis have also written their thoughts.
Lately I’ve been playing the PC version with a load of mods installed most of which can be found at www.justcause2mods.com. So I’ll start with the stuff that can actually be changed by these:
The Unbreakable Rope
Half Life has the Gravity Gun just as Just Cause 2 has the grappling hook. Amongst it’s many fine features is the ability to tether things together. People to trucks, planes to cars, bikes to windmills, that sort of thing. Trouble is the rope snaps if too much force is put on it, this is not fun. If I want to grapple an ice cream truck to a passenger airliner then damn it I should be able to and thankfully can with the excellent BOLO patch (or the BOLOLOLOLOL patch, as my head pronounces it.)
Many Unbreakable Ropes
Whats more fun than tying an ice-cream van to a plane? Tying two ice-cream vans to a plane… and ice cream men to the van. Also possible with the BOLO patch are multiple ropes. This one isn’t perfect, the aiming reticule breaks a bit and the game feels a bit glitchy when it’s turned on but for the most part it works. It removes the ability to undo ropes which means you can’t drop things from the helicopters like you can normally.
Faster Vehicle Spawn
Some genius decided that whenever Rico wants a vehicle air lifted to him he must watch two cutscenes and scroll through an annoying menu system every single time. This is stupid.
Thats about it for what I’ve managed to get from the mods that’s worth being fully implemented. there’s plenty more fun ones, such as the 3 kilometre long grappling hook but these are really just fun cheats rather than gameplay improvements. Here’s a couple of things I’d like to see:
Take the Wheel!
One of Just Cause 2′s best features is the vehicle combat. But it’s not enough! First of all jumping onto the roof of your car is great but control is lost too easily. In one of the very first missions an AI companion drives while you stand on the roof, this means you can zip from car to car and always have a safe spot to jump back to. I’d suggest a combination of these. Occasionally Rico drives with friendly passengers, whenever he jumps on the roof he should shout something along the lines of “Take the Wheel!” Rico can now focus on the combat and not have to worry about the car smacking into a forest, he can resume control of the car at any moment leaving his companion free to fire out the window. If needed Rico can hijack another vehicle and split, creating a decoy. He then has a certain amount of time to catch up with his passenger if they need to be kept alive.
Instant Black Market
Removing those cut scenes is not enough! Vehicles and weapons should instantly parachute down when Rico calls them in. On PC they should be binded to keys, removing the menus altogether. Custom drops can be created and binded allowing Rico to drop vehicles containing weapons. If Rico is driving, his jet can be called in on auto-pilot to hover above the car, he can then smoothly transition between the two. If Rico is escaping from enemies then this could be balanced by putting a timer on the spawns. Once called in Rico must stay alive for thirty seconds or so before the jet arrives and he can escape. Also once vehicles and weapons are unlocked they should cost nothing to spawn. The ridiculous cost of some vehicles means you can only rarely use them when its far more fun to have them all the time.
Destructible Trees or No Trees at All
Trees look pretty, but they get in the way. The best place to be in Just Cause 2 is the desert because it has very few trees or big rocks meaning off road driving fun is an option. In the desert you can get far more creative, especially in the driving off cliffs area of things. Everywhere else vehicles are useless off road because they simple can’t be driven through forests. Some trees can be knocked over but most can’t, this should be the other way around. Off road handling could be better too, even in the lovely empty desert it’s way too easy to over-steer.
Red Faction Style Destruction
A few months ago Chris and I said that more games must now use Red Faction’s amazing destructible building physic. Seeing as how to progress in Just Cause 2 you need to blow stuff up, its the perfect game to implement this system. Thanks to it’s size the whole “what if the player blows his way out of the game world?” problem isn’t even an issue.
The Mouse and Left Stick are for looking and aiming, not moving
When skydiving for some silly reason looking with the mouse rotates Rico, sending him off course from where you want to go. This denies us from some spectacular views of one of the prettiest games ever made. If we don’t need to aim something then let us look around. We’re allowed to do it in planes so why not while sky diving? Also on the subject of skydiving Rico should be able to fly forwards a bit more than he can, a hell of a lot more base jumps could then be pulled off.
All games need jet packs.Continue →