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Found 826 results

  1. At E3 2013, Sony went out of its way to demonstrate its support of indie titles and developers, dedicating a large section of their booth area specifically to independent games. One of the games on display was Supergiant Games’ Transistor which I was able to play for a sizable chunk of time. The demo of Transistor began with text, explaining that assassins had been silencing the important voices of Cloudbank one by one and that Red, one of the most famous and beloved singers in the city, was next. These assassins, who belong to a group known as “The Process,” fail to kill Red, but succeed in taking her voice. Red is saved by clutching onto the Transistor, a sword-like device that contains a sentient intelligence and can absorb other minds into its own. The Transistor whisks Red to safety on the other side of Cloudbank, where it explains to her what it is and who The Process are. Red sheds her impractical singer’s garb and takes off on the run from the homicidal machines of The Process. As I progressed through the level, I encountered people who had recently died or were dying. The Transistor was able to communicate with them and convince their souls to come along on the adventure, absorbing them into itself. Each time this occurred, a new ability was unlocked to use in battle. After unlocking all the abilities in the demo, I was able to attack with a short-range shockwave, a long-range piercing laser, a devastating cluster bomb attack, and teleport dash through obstacles and enemies to use sneak attacks. Much like Supergiant Games’ critically acclaimed Bastion, combat occurs in real-time. However, players can now freeze time and plan out their next few moves in advance before executing them in quick succession. This adds a very enjoyable layer of strategy to engaging enemies in combat. Players won’t be able to use this ability continuously. A bar at the top of the screen depletes after each usage, and players will need to wait until it fills back up again to unleash their strategic fury upon their foes. There are light RPG elements to the combat, as well. You can see how much life enemies have and how much damage you do to them. After a combo done in strategic mode, a small message will appear next to an enemy which tells you how well you did against it. I actually laughed out loud after I unleashed a flurry of attacks against a boss creature and the message progressed from “Great!” to “Overkill” to “Seriously, can’t you read?” Transistor felt really at home on the PS4. The Supergiant team did a great job mapping the controls to appropriate and natural feeling buttons and creating a pretty self-explanatory HUD. Each attack was mapped to one of the controller’s face buttons, while R2 controlled the time freeze ability. There was just something intangibly satisfying about destroying enemies in both real-time and in the lightning strikes following the time freeze. Given that Red has lost her voice, the Transistor becomes her voice. It talks constantly, explaining the world and monologue-ing about the state of affairs in which the two find themselves. The demo ends with the Transistor urging her to escape, but Red silently riding her motorcycle back into the heart of Cloudbank with the amazed Transistor in tow. I honestly couldn't wait to see what happened next and how abilities would be expanded and improved further along in the game. Visually and audibly, Transistor impressed me. I even heard that someone (i.e. me) put the trailer for Supergiant Games’ next hit on loop in a YouTube playlist, just to hear its music and see the visuals. But don’t just take my word for it. You can watch the trailer below: Transistor will release in early 2014 on PS4 and PC. View full article
  2. As many people know, Jonathan Blow, the creator of the highly acclaimed indie game Braid, has been working on his next game called The Witness. However, details on the project are incredibly scarce. What many people do not know is that a while ago there was a call for people to submit art that could become a poster for The Witness. It turns out that the art poster was (very) briefly featured in this PS4 promotional spot at about 0:57. You can now download the hi-res image from their website. From there, Jonathan Blow says that, "If you like it, feel free to use it as a desktop image, or whatever!" I know think I know what will be going up on my walls sometime soon!
  3. As many people know, Jonathan Blow, the creator of the highly acclaimed indie game Braid, has been working on his next game called The Witness. However, details on the project are incredibly scarce. What many people do not know is that a while ago there was a call for people to submit art that could become a poster for The Witness. It turns out that the art poster was (very) briefly featured in this PS4 promotional spot at about 0:57. You can now download the hi-res image from their website. From there, Jonathan Blow says that, "If you like it, feel free to use it as a desktop image, or whatever!" I know think I know what will be going up on my walls sometime soon! View full article
  4. The fine folks at CD Projekt RED were kind enough to show us a nearly hour long gameplay demo of the upcoming high-fantasy RPG blockbuster, as well as answer some of our nagging questions. Here is what we took away from what we saw. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is set several years after the events of The Witcher 2, meaning that there are few direct connections to previous games in the series. The decision was made to distance the third title from the previous two so that the team could step away from the political intrigue of the previous titles and focus on Geralt’s personal journey. In The Witcher 3, Geralt is in pursuit of a terrifying and deadly group of spectral warriors known as the Wild Hunt. In the game world, witchers were originally monster hunters and that aspect of the game world will become the central focus of the story. There are several new features being added into The Witcher 3: Trading and Bartering: the new system will make it profitable to travel around the world buying and selling items to locations that might have them in short supply to earn a profit. For example, fish will be cheap in coastal towns, while towns farther inland or far from bodies of water will pay well for fish. Transportation: With the dramatically increased scope of the world, the team at CD Projekt RED wanted to make it easy to traverse the world. To this end, they included abilities and vehicles like swimming climbing, sailing, riding, and fast travel. These means of transportation are not without their hazards however. We were cautioned that sailing into a storm, could result in a ship wreck and having to swim to shore and that swimming comes with its own dangers, like freezing from ice water. A Day/Night Cycle: You will be able to rest and change the time of day. This will have various effects on the monsters you hunt and how you hunt them. The example we were given was that if you were to fight werewolves, you would be better off fighting them in daylight, rather than under the light of a full-moon. Witcher Senses: the visualization of Geralt’s years of training. You’ll be able to see the important investigative markers that will help you track monsters. These clues will lead you to monsters or give you clues regarding how to best defeat them. The scale of The Witcher 3 has increased dramatically. For the purposes of the demo, we were only shown one island, but we were told that island was bigger than all of The Witcher 2. In fact, the entire world is 35x larger than the previous Witcher games and it is entirely open world. The team at CD Projekt RED designed the world to be large, but also dense, so there will always be something new to explore and see just over the next hill or behind the next tree. We were shown a portion of the main quest, which revolves around Geralt’s mission to destroy the Wild Hunt, a ghastly, deadly, and evil collection of spectral warriors. In the gameplay segment, Geralt was searching for Bjorn, the sole survivor of a raid by the Hunt. Traveling to the small village in which Bjorn has gone to stay with relatives, the demonstrator steered us toward some intriguing ruins on the top of a hill. He explained to us that the team has worked very hard to make such areas appealing so that players will want to diverge from the beaten path and explore. In the ruins, we discovered a hulking creature known as a fiend. Looking like a cross between a stag and a rhinoceros, the fiend charged Geralt and we were given the chance to see the titular witcher in combat. More dodge moves have been added since The Witcher 2, increasing maneuverability within combat scenarios. Geralt can also do minor magic, like shooting sparks and flames from his hands. These spells will have different effects on monsters, like lighting them on fire which can then spread elsewhere. As the fight with the fiend progressed, it demonstrated how important it is to know your adversary in The Witcher 3. When you discover what kind of a beast you are going to be facing, it is best to consult the Bestiary, a compendium of Geralt’s lifetime of monster hunting and adventuring. This will give players insight into how best to tackle the creature. With the fiend, he can cast a spell of darkness and shroud itself in shadow, the only visible thing remaining is a singular red eye on its forehead. It can use this opportunity to either attack or escape, making an unprepared attack on the fiend a very poor idea. For prospective players who are just hearing about this series now or who are intrigued, we were assured that players won’t have had to play the The Witcher and The Witcher 2 in order to understand what is happening. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in early 2014.
  5. The fine folks at CD Projekt RED were kind enough to show us a nearly hour long gameplay demo of the upcoming high-fantasy RPG blockbuster, as well as answer some of our nagging questions. Here is what we took away from what we saw. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is set several years after the events of The Witcher 2, meaning that there are few direct connections to previous games in the series. The decision was made to distance the third title from the previous two so that the team could step away from the political intrigue of the previous titles and focus on Geralt’s personal journey. In The Witcher 3, Geralt is in pursuit of a terrifying and deadly group of spectral warriors known as the Wild Hunt. In the game world, witchers were originally monster hunters and that aspect of the game world will become the central focus of the story. There are several new features being added into The Witcher 3: Trading and Bartering: the new system will make it profitable to travel around the world buying and selling items to locations that might have them in short supply to earn a profit. For example, fish will be cheap in coastal towns, while towns farther inland or far from bodies of water will pay well for fish. Transportation: With the dramatically increased scope of the world, the team at CD Projekt RED wanted to make it easy to traverse the world. To this end, they included abilities and vehicles like swimming climbing, sailing, riding, and fast travel. These means of transportation are not without their hazards however. We were cautioned that sailing into a storm, could result in a ship wreck and having to swim to shore and that swimming comes with its own dangers, like freezing from ice water. A Day/Night Cycle: You will be able to rest and change the time of day. This will have various effects on the monsters you hunt and how you hunt them. The example we were given was that if you were to fight werewolves, you would be better off fighting them in daylight, rather than under the light of a full-moon. Witcher Senses: the visualization of Geralt’s years of training. You’ll be able to see the important investigative markers that will help you track monsters. These clues will lead you to monsters or give you clues regarding how to best defeat them. The scale of The Witcher 3 has increased dramatically. For the purposes of the demo, we were only shown one island, but we were told that island was bigger than all of The Witcher 2. In fact, the entire world is 35x larger than the previous Witcher games and it is entirely open world. The team at CD Projekt RED designed the world to be large, but also dense, so there will always be something new to explore and see just over the next hill or behind the next tree. We were shown a portion of the main quest, which revolves around Geralt’s mission to destroy the Wild Hunt, a ghastly, deadly, and evil collection of spectral warriors. In the gameplay segment, Geralt was searching for Bjorn, the sole survivor of a raid by the Hunt. Traveling to the small village in which Bjorn has gone to stay with relatives, the demonstrator steered us toward some intriguing ruins on the top of a hill. He explained to us that the team has worked very hard to make such areas appealing so that players will want to diverge from the beaten path and explore. In the ruins, we discovered a hulking creature known as a fiend. Looking like a cross between a stag and a rhinoceros, the fiend charged Geralt and we were given the chance to see the titular witcher in combat. More dodge moves have been added since The Witcher 2, increasing maneuverability within combat scenarios. Geralt can also do minor magic, like shooting sparks and flames from his hands. These spells will have different effects on monsters, like lighting them on fire which can then spread elsewhere. As the fight with the fiend progressed, it demonstrated how important it is to know your adversary in The Witcher 3. When you discover what kind of a beast you are going to be facing, it is best to consult the Bestiary, a compendium of Geralt’s lifetime of monster hunting and adventuring. This will give players insight into how best to tackle the creature. With the fiend, he can cast a spell of darkness and shroud itself in shadow, the only visible thing remaining is a singular red eye on its forehead. It can use this opportunity to either attack or escape, making an unprepared attack on the fiend a very poor idea. For prospective players who are just hearing about this series now or who are intrigued, we were assured that players won’t have had to play the The Witcher and The Witcher 2 in order to understand what is happening. The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in early 2014. View full article
  6. One of the entirely new IPs brought to the Electronic Entertainment Expo by Square Enix, Murdered: Soul Suspect tasks players with solving one of the most difficult of all crimes: their own murder. After being killed under strange circumstances, Ronan O’Connor finds himself as a ghost in the land of the living. We were shown a section from the beginning of the game, involving the first investigative portion as well as the introduction of combat. The demo began with Ronan’s murder in the middle of a street at night. Feeling completely disoriented from his death, Ronan finds himself near his own body watching his murderer walk away from the scene of the crime. As police officers arrive on the scene and begin searching for clues, Ronan decides to help the investigation. Being an incorporeal ghost renders Ronan unable to directly interact with most objects or people. The objects that are solid to ghosts are known as “vestiges” and can be manipulated to progress through levels. This means that Ronan must use his wits and what vestiges or people he can influence to collect evidence and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. It also means that few walls have any meaning. Frequently, Ronan will be able to walk through walls, objects, and people to find new hints to take note of and observe. I was surprised to learn that Soul Suspect has one of the most logical explanations of why players can’t enter any building they choose that I’ve seen in a video game. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts a place that has been historically superstitious and has had many of its buildings consecrated. Ghosts like Ronan cannot enter a consecrated space unless invited, as with an open door, which was demonstrated in the demo. Once within the structure, he can freely move through the walls and furniture. Another of Ronan’s ghostly abilities is mentally influencing or outright possessing people’s bodies. In one instance, there was one witness to Ronan’s murder (it was in the middle of the street after all) and the woman was so distraught she couldn’t answer the police officer’s questions coherently. Ronan was able to enter her mind and had the option of focusing her thoughts onto a variety of topics. After choosing thoughts of the killer, the witness became able to clearly describe what she saw of the murderer to the officer and indirectly to Ronan. As Ronan continues to collect clues, he begins to have flashbacks to the events leading up to his death and realizes he was shoved from a window before being killed in the street. Moving toward the house from which he fell, Ronan sees one of the officers leave a door open, which allows him to enter the home. At that point, the demonstrator pointed out that later on in the game Ronan would be able to make electrical equipment malfunction, distracting people into revealing clues or allowing Ronan to proceed. On his way to the top floor of the house, Ronan encounters a young ghost, who is unable to move on because she can’t find her body. This was one of the game’s many side-quests in which Ronan can solve side mysteries to help other deceased move on into the after-life. It was at this point that we were also introduced to the combat. In the world of Soul Suspect, there are ghosts who pass on and there are the ghosts that cling to the world of the living. The ones that remain eventually begin feeding on other ghosts, obsessed with the idea that if they consume enough souls they will become human again. These ghosts become demons and are incredibly deadly to Ronan if taken head-on, but that is where players need to get creative. The best way to destroy a demon is by possessing them unexpectedly. Demons can’t find a ghost who has possessed someone, so possessing a bystander and then jumping into a demon was one of the solutions presented to us in the demo. The other method we were shown involved Ronan’s teleport ability, which functions as a dash that can be used to surprise and destroy the insane spirit. We only saw one type of demon in the demo, but there should be several other types in the final game. As Ronan progresses through the house, he encounters various runes and psychic imprints on objects that all gave clues. After reaching the window he was thrown from, the game entered deduction mode in which the player must correctly order clues and events in the proper order by using logic and reasoning skills. Piecing together his memories of the event and the clues present at the scene of the crime, Ronan realizes that there was a second witness to the murder hiding in the room with him at the time, and that she has disappeared. With no further clues as to the identity of his killer, Ronan begins his search for the witness, the only one who could help him bring his murderer to justice. Murdered: Soul Suspect will be coming to PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in early 2014.
  7. One of the entirely new IPs brought to the Electronic Entertainment Expo by Square Enix, Murdered: Soul Suspect tasks players with solving one of the most difficult of all crimes: their own murder. After being killed under strange circumstances, Ronan O’Connor finds himself as a ghost in the land of the living. We were shown a section from the beginning of the game, involving the first investigative portion as well as the introduction of combat. The demo began with Ronan’s murder in the middle of a street at night. Feeling completely disoriented from his death, Ronan finds himself near his own body watching his murderer walk away from the scene of the crime. As police officers arrive on the scene and begin searching for clues, Ronan decides to help the investigation. Being an incorporeal ghost renders Ronan unable to directly interact with most objects or people. The objects that are solid to ghosts are known as “vestiges” and can be manipulated to progress through levels. This means that Ronan must use his wits and what vestiges or people he can influence to collect evidence and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. It also means that few walls have any meaning. Frequently, Ronan will be able to walk through walls, objects, and people to find new hints to take note of and observe. I was surprised to learn that Soul Suspect has one of the most logical explanations of why players can’t enter any building they choose that I’ve seen in a video game. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts a place that has been historically superstitious and has had many of its buildings consecrated. Ghosts like Ronan cannot enter a consecrated space unless invited, as with an open door, which was demonstrated in the demo. Once within the structure, he can freely move through the walls and furniture. Another of Ronan’s ghostly abilities is mentally influencing or outright possessing people’s bodies. In one instance, there was one witness to Ronan’s murder (it was in the middle of the street after all) and the woman was so distraught she couldn’t answer the police officer’s questions coherently. Ronan was able to enter her mind and had the option of focusing her thoughts onto a variety of topics. After choosing thoughts of the killer, the witness became able to clearly describe what she saw of the murderer to the officer and indirectly to Ronan. As Ronan continues to collect clues, he begins to have flashbacks to the events leading up to his death and realizes he was shoved from a window before being killed in the street. Moving toward the house from which he fell, Ronan sees one of the officers leave a door open, which allows him to enter the home. At that point, the demonstrator pointed out that later on in the game Ronan would be able to make electrical equipment malfunction, distracting people into revealing clues or allowing Ronan to proceed. On his way to the top floor of the house, Ronan encounters a young ghost, who is unable to move on because she can’t find her body. This was one of the game’s many side-quests in which Ronan can solve side mysteries to help other deceased move on into the after-life. It was at this point that we were also introduced to the combat. In the world of Soul Suspect, there are ghosts who pass on and there are the ghosts that cling to the world of the living. The ones that remain eventually begin feeding on other ghosts, obsessed with the idea that if they consume enough souls they will become human again. These ghosts become demons and are incredibly deadly to Ronan if taken head-on, but that is where players need to get creative. The best way to destroy a demon is by possessing them unexpectedly. Demons can’t find a ghost who has possessed someone, so possessing a bystander and then jumping into a demon was one of the solutions presented to us in the demo. The other method we were shown involved Ronan’s teleport ability, which functions as a dash that can be used to surprise and destroy the insane spirit. We only saw one type of demon in the demo, but there should be several other types in the final game. As Ronan progresses through the house, he encounters various runes and psychic imprints on objects that all gave clues. After reaching the window he was thrown from, the game entered deduction mode in which the player must correctly order clues and events in the proper order by using logic and reasoning skills. Piecing together his memories of the event and the clues present at the scene of the crime, Ronan realizes that there was a second witness to the murder hiding in the room with him at the time, and that she has disappeared. With no further clues as to the identity of his killer, Ronan begins his search for the witness, the only one who could help him bring his murderer to justice. Murdered: Soul Suspect will be coming to PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in early 2014. View full article
  8. During the EA Press conference yesterday, John Vechey of PopCap Games took the stage to tell the crowd of gaming journalists that Garden Warfare was not a joke and very much a real product. The upcoming title combines the popular Plants v. Zombies formula with third-person action and some light tower defense elements. Vechey demonstrated a four player co-op session highlighting the four known classes: the soldier-esque Pea Shooter, the medic/rapid-firing Sunflower, the long-ranged Cactus, and the brawling Chomper. As the level progressed, players were able to plant vegetation in flower pots to provide fire support or bonuses to nearby allies. Occasionally, power-ups dropped in the level, like flying garlic drones. The session on display to the crowd at the conference was from Garden Warfare's survival mode, which pitted players against waves of enemies culminating with a boss monster. Garden Warfare will be coming first to Xbox One and Xbox 360 before making its way to PC and other platforms.
  9. During the EA Press conference yesterday, John Vechey of PopCap Games took the stage to tell the crowd of gaming journalists that Garden Warfare was not a joke and very much a real product. The upcoming title combines the popular Plants v. Zombies formula with third-person action and some light tower defense elements. Vechey demonstrated a four player co-op session highlighting the four known classes: the soldier-esque Pea Shooter, the medic/rapid-firing Sunflower, the long-ranged Cactus, and the brawling Chomper. As the level progressed, players were able to plant vegetation in flower pots to provide fire support or bonuses to nearby allies. Occasionally, power-ups dropped in the level, like flying garlic drones. The session on display to the crowd at the conference was from Garden Warfare's survival mode, which pitted players against waves of enemies culminating with a boss monster. Garden Warfare will be coming first to Xbox One and Xbox 360 before making its way to PC and other platforms. View full article
  10. Yusuf Mehdi took the stage for Microsoft today to announce the plans for the next three years of the Xbox 360. A new model for the Xbox 360 based on the Xbox One design is available starting today. The sleek design is smaller and will come packaged with a Kinect, though no price drop is in sight. Mehdi also explained that Xbox Live Gold memberships will extend to Xbox One as well as 360. Two free games will be given away every month to Gold Members, starting with Assassin's Creed 2 and Halo 3. Mehdi went on to promise hundreds of new games for 360 over the next three years. He singled out three titles in particular coming to 360. Perhaps one of the biggest bombshells was that World of Tanks, a competitive PC giant with over 60 million players, is coming to 360, expanding the competitive eSports edge of the console (as well as tanks blowing each other sky-high). The CEO of Wargaming took the stage, explaining the global phenomenon of World of Tanks and that the 48 million member Xbox Live Community was a compelling reason to bring the game PC to Xbox 360. World of Tanks will remain a free-to-play title while transitioning to console for Gold subscribers (and free for seven days for Silver subscribers), though it is unknown if it will be coming to Xbox One. Press Play, a quirky indie studio revealed its work on Max, the Curse of Brotherhood. The trailer for the game seemed to indicate a plot similar to the 80s cult film, Labyrinth. The trailer starts out with a young boy who casts a spell to make his younger brother disappear. The spell works, opening a portal between worlds and an evil creature abducts his brother and Max must journey, through platforms and hazards to retrieve him.You can view the announcement trailer below. Dark Souls II rounded out the three Xbox 360 titles, appearing to feature updated graphics, weapons and enemies, but nothing incredibly new or revolutionary was displayed for those familiar with the franchise. All three games discussed for Xbox 360 should be releasing later this year.
  11. Yusuf Mehdi took the stage for Microsoft today to announce the plans for the next three years of the Xbox 360. A new model for the Xbox 360 based on the Xbox One design is available starting today. The sleek design is smaller and will come packaged with a Kinect, though no price drop is in sight. Mehdi also explained that Xbox Live Gold memberships will extend to Xbox One as well as 360. Two free games will be given away every month to Gold Members, starting with Assassin's Creed 2 and Halo 3. Mehdi went on to promise hundreds of new games for 360 over the next three years. He singled out three titles in particular coming to 360. Perhaps one of the biggest bombshells was that World of Tanks, a competitive PC giant with over 60 million players, is coming to 360, expanding the competitive eSports edge of the console (as well as tanks blowing each other sky-high). The CEO of Wargaming took the stage, explaining the global phenomenon of World of Tanks and that the 48 million member Xbox Live Community was a compelling reason to bring the game PC to Xbox 360. World of Tanks will remain a free-to-play title while transitioning to console for Gold subscribers (and free for seven days for Silver subscribers), though it is unknown if it will be coming to Xbox One. Press Play, a quirky indie studio revealed its work on Max, the Curse of Brotherhood. The trailer for the game seemed to indicate a plot similar to the 80s cult film, Labyrinth. The trailer starts out with a young boy who casts a spell to make his younger brother disappear. The spell works, opening a portal between worlds and an evil creature abducts his brother and Max must journey, through platforms and hazards to retrieve him.You can view the announcement trailer below. Dark Souls II rounded out the three Xbox 360 titles, appearing to feature updated graphics, weapons and enemies, but nothing incredibly new or revolutionary was displayed for those familiar with the franchise. All three games discussed for Xbox 360 should be releasing later this year. View full article
  12. Metal Gear Solid V made an appearance right off the bat at the Microsoft press conference in a gameplay trailer. The gameplay clips highlighted how there will be live weather that changes realistically, the vehicles used to traverse the open world landscape, and the in-game day/night cycle. A new addition to the the series, besides being the first truly open-world Metal Gear title, will be the ability to drive vehicles and the sneaking options that go with each one. For example, Snake will be able to control jeeps, tanks, horses, and make use of various sneaking maneuvers with each, like the ability to hide within the flatbed of a truck or cling to the side of a horse. Since MGSV is set in 1984, players presumably won’t be finding much like the Stealth Camo from Metal Gear Solid IV anywhere in this game. However, in the Metal Gear Solid franchise nothing really remains off limits, so we will have to wait for the full release to see what kind of high-tech/retro gadgets become available. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be coming to Xbox One, PS4 and PC, as well as receiving downgraded ports to the Xbox 360 and PS3.
  13. Metal Gear Solid V made an appearance right off the bat at the Microsoft press conference in a gameplay trailer. The gameplay clips highlighted how there will be live weather that changes realistically, the vehicles used to traverse the open world landscape, and the in-game day/night cycle. A new addition to the the series, besides being the first truly open-world Metal Gear title, will be the ability to drive vehicles and the sneaking options that go with each one. For example, Snake will be able to control jeeps, tanks, horses, and make use of various sneaking maneuvers with each, like the ability to hide within the flatbed of a truck or cling to the side of a horse. Since MGSV is set in 1984, players presumably won’t be finding much like the Stealth Camo from Metal Gear Solid IV anywhere in this game. However, in the Metal Gear Solid franchise nothing really remains off limits, so we will have to wait for the full release to see what kind of high-tech/retro gadgets become available. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be coming to Xbox One, PS4 and PC, as well as receiving downgraded ports to the Xbox 360 and PS3. View full article
  14. There are two things in this life that I love: Great games and free things. Usually the two don’t coincide with each other. Most great games come with a price tag and those that don’t eventually sucker you into microtransactions or a subscription. It is incredibly rare to find worthwhile games that are completely free that provide a full gaming experience that you can sink hours into and feel satisfied. As a service to those of you who are strapped for cash or just looking for a great game to play, I scoured the corners of the internet for fantastic free games. I sorted through all kinds of shovelware and viruses, but emerged with a precious handful of gems. Here are the unsung wonders that I found, enjoyed, and whole-heartedly recommend. Exit Fate The first of two games on this list that spawned as a result of tinkering with RPG Maker software, Exit Fate, created by Dutch indie game developer SCF, is a gigantic love letter to old-school RPGs like Suikoden II. Random encounters with enemies make up the bulk of this title’s gameplay. Combat takes place in a traditional, turn-based style with the player’s party consisting of up to six characters arranged tactically over a 3x3 grid. To spice up the combat, SCF included a relationship system where characters have certain attitudes toward one another that affect their stats in combat if they are both in the party at the same time. There are 75 recruitable party members each with their own sidequests, personalities, relationships, and abilities. There is more to Exit Fate than grinding through enemies for experience. Occasionally the game will allow players to flex their strategic muscles by presenting them with large-scale battles. These play out over sweeping grids as armies take turns maneuvering troops. The player’s army can be customized depending on which characters have been recruited. There are several different kinds of troop units to master including: infantry, cavalry, scouts, and sorcery. These sequences serve as a welcome interlude between missions and offer a nice challenge for even veteran strategy gamers. However, no RPG can stand on its own without a compelling storyline to keep players interested. On this front, Exit Fate delivers one of the more original RPG stories I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Players are put in the role of Daniel Vinyard, a Colonel in the Kirkgard Army. Kirkgard and the nearby Zelmony Union, though technically at peace, have been at odds with each other for years over the ownership of Helman Island, a point neatly between the two nations. Kirkgard has assembled an army in secret and plans to take Helman Island and use it to stage an invasion of Zelmony. As the fighting begins, something goes horribly wrong and a twist of fate places Daniel on a course to meet his destiny. The fact that this incredibly solid game was crafted by one person should intrigue anyone interested in game development or indie games. The amount of time and detail that went into creating Exit Fate is staggering. The average runtime of a full playthrough of Exit Fate clocks in at around 40 hours. You are never left without something to do, there is always one more party member to recruit or secret boss to defeat, and the story keeps throwing out enough political intrigue, memorable characters, and plot twists to keep the average player engrossed for its entirety. Exit Fate is truly excellent and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to play a refreshing old-style RPG. You can download Exit Fate for free over on SCF’s personal website. For more information and strategy guides, here is a handy fan-made website dedicated to the game. Note: This is an RPG from a bygone age. Bosses are difficult and there can be long stretches without a save point. If you find that you have gone a significant period of time between saves, go out of your way to save your game and always have a backup save so you don’t get stuck in an impossible area. Wing Commander Saga For people unfamiliar with the Wing Commander series, this will be a bit of a gaming history lesson. The original Wing Commander released in 1990 for the PC and focused on a conflict in the 27th century between the human race and a cat-like alien species known as the Kilrathi. Players took on the role of a starship pilot using a variety of space fighters to engage the Kilrathi in large-scale space wars. It turns out that this kind of thing appealed to gamers (who would have guessed?) and the game was a huge success, eventually getting ports to several other systems. Wing Commander proved incredibly popular from 1990 until 1996 when the series went dormant. The core Wing Commander entries are famous for their extensive use of FMV cutscenes to convey their stories with well-known actors such as Mark Hamill, Christopher Walken, and John Rhys-Davies. Though Wing Commander has been gone for nearly seventeen years, fans of the series have by no means forgotten it. A group of enterprising and talented people who had enjoyed it during its heyday got together in 2001 to begin working on a tribute to the games they loved. After developing Wing Commander Saga for more than a decade, the team finally released their labor of love in 2012. Wing Commander Saga stands as fully-fledged campaign called Darkest Dawn which takes place during the events of Wing Commander III. This amazing product of dedication contains fully voiced dialogue, beautifully rendered cutscenes, and engaging in-game squad chatter. Players take on the role of a fighter pilot, call sign Sandman, stationed on the carrier-class starship Hermes. Gamers will be treated to lengthy missions involving eliminating Kilrathi fighters, bombers, capital ships, enemy carriers, defending human vessels, and general awesome space-shooting-explosions kind of stuff. A word of warning for new Wing Commander Saga players: plug in a controller or joystick and tailor the controls to be a bit more playable. The keyboard control scheme is convoluted at best and extremely unintuitive for newcomers. Mapping the controls to a controller feels much more familiar. You can download Wing Commander Saga from the official website. Doom Roguelike Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a space marine fighting the forces of evil from a top-down perspective with randomly generated levels and turn-based movement? If you answered yes, you’re in luck! Doom Roguelike is a remake of the original Doom, but placing it within the wildly different roguelike genre. Players select one of three initial classes: marine, technician, or scout. Each class has different starting stats and abilities that affect the way players can best approach the challenges that await them. Movement through levels occurs one tile at a time, slowly revealing darkened areas that are out of the character’s line of sight. Monsters that appear within character’s visual range begin attacking, either by closing in for melee attacks or by firing lethal projectiles. With each enemy neutralized, characters receive experience points which go toward unlocking new skills that will help players progress further. Numerous secret arenas are scattered throughout the 25 levels of the game world that push player abilities to the limit, but provide new weapons, upgrades, and healthy chunks of experience. The main hook of Doom Roguelike is the implementation of permadeath; if the player’s character dies, the game restarts at the beginning. Permadeath and the randomized elements in each of the levels result in a unique experience every play session. As a nice treat for fans of the classic Doom, enemies retain their original artwork and sound effects. Overall, Doom Roguelike isn’t a terribly nuanced game. However, it succeeds in providing an original twist on a classic gaming formula. Doom Roguelike feels like a well-designed breath of fresh air. As a free game that can run on practically anything, Doom Roguelike is definitely worth your time. You can download the full game on chaosforge.org. Star Stealing Prince Using RPG Maker VX, a person under the name Ronove created a surprisingly refreshing RPG experience. Clocking in at about ten hours in length, the mechanics, puzzles, beautiful hand-drawn artwork, and most of all the story never once left me bored or unsatisfied. In terms of gameplay, there is more depth than you would expect. Combat occurs in a traditional turn-based fashion, with characters gaining experience and leveling up to increase their stats. New skills are learned by finding magic tomes and determined by the weapons and armor characters have equipped. While magic skills use MP, skills that come from your equipped gear can be accessed when a character has built up enough TP by attacking or being hit by enemies. Outside of combat, exploration is almost always rewarded with a new piece of armor, weapon, or useful item. The crafty and entertaining puzzles that crop up from time to time were an unexpected pleasure. One riddle in particular takes place during a tense boss battle and requires you to brush up a bit on your astrology knowledge. The best way to describe the story of Star Stealing Prince is to equate it with a fairy tale. Like a fairy tale, Star Stealing Prince isn’t overly complex and there isn’t an overabundance of characters, but it doesn’t need those things to tell the story it wants to convey. To sum up the basic premise of this indie gem: On a remote island there is a kingdom shrouded in perpetual winter ruled by a prince named Snowe. The prince’s parents died when he was small, but they left behind a great many pieces of magic. One of their most powerful spells binds all of the citizens of the kingdom to the prince, making them feel what he feels. If he is happy, they are happy. The spell also shields the people from the cold, keeping them warm and dry in a land of harsh winter. After being wracked by a strange nightmare, Snowe discovers his parents trapped a girl within a tower for an unknown purpose… And so begins the gripping adventure of Star Stealing Prince. If I could only recommend one game out of these four, it would be Star Stealing Prince. It is a short, rewarding and game that has a lot to offer if you take the time to download and play it. It feels intensely personal and real. When you play Star Stealing Prince you just know that someone was putting a part of themselves into it, which isn’t a feeling you get from many AAA experiences. Since this game is free, you have no excuse not to play it. Do yourself a favor and download Star Stealing Prince over on the official site. I suggest that you download it with RTP if you want it to function properly on your computer. Honorable Mention: Candy Box I can’t really explain Candy Box without ruining what makes it so great. Just follow this link, leave it open in a tab for a few minutes, forget about it, and come back. Then your descent into obsession epic quest for glory can truly begin.
  15. There are two things in this life that I love: Great games and free things. Usually the two don’t coincide with each other. Most great games come with a price tag and those that don’t eventually sucker you into microtransactions or a subscription. It is incredibly rare to find worthwhile games that are completely free that provide a full gaming experience that you can sink hours into and feel satisfied. As a service to those of you who are strapped for cash or just looking for a great game to play, I scoured the corners of the internet for fantastic free games. I sorted through all kinds of shovelware and viruses, but emerged with a precious handful of gems. Here are the unsung wonders that I found, enjoyed, and whole-heartedly recommend. Exit Fate The first of two games on this list that spawned as a result of tinkering with RPG Maker software, Exit Fate, created by Dutch indie game developer SCF, is a gigantic love letter to old-school RPGs like Suikoden II. Random encounters with enemies make up the bulk of this title’s gameplay. Combat takes place in a traditional, turn-based style with the player’s party consisting of up to six characters arranged tactically over a 3x3 grid. To spice up the combat, SCF included a relationship system where characters have certain attitudes toward one another that affect their stats in combat if they are both in the party at the same time. There are 75 recruitable party members each with their own sidequests, personalities, relationships, and abilities. There is more to Exit Fate than grinding through enemies for experience. Occasionally the game will allow players to flex their strategic muscles by presenting them with large-scale battles. These play out over sweeping grids as armies take turns maneuvering troops. The player’s army can be customized depending on which characters have been recruited. There are several different kinds of troop units to master including: infantry, cavalry, scouts, and sorcery. These sequences serve as a welcome interlude between missions and offer a nice challenge for even veteran strategy gamers. However, no RPG can stand on its own without a compelling storyline to keep players interested. On this front, Exit Fate delivers one of the more original RPG stories I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Players are put in the role of Daniel Vinyard, a Colonel in the Kirkgard Army. Kirkgard and the nearby Zelmony Union, though technically at peace, have been at odds with each other for years over the ownership of Helman Island, a point neatly between the two nations. Kirkgard has assembled an army in secret and plans to take Helman Island and use it to stage an invasion of Zelmony. As the fighting begins, something goes horribly wrong and a twist of fate places Daniel on a course to meet his destiny. The fact that this incredibly solid game was crafted by one person should intrigue anyone interested in game development or indie games. The amount of time and detail that went into creating Exit Fate is staggering. The average runtime of a full playthrough of Exit Fate clocks in at around 40 hours. You are never left without something to do, there is always one more party member to recruit or secret boss to defeat, and the story keeps throwing out enough political intrigue, memorable characters, and plot twists to keep the average player engrossed for its entirety. Exit Fate is truly excellent and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to play a refreshing old-style RPG. You can download Exit Fate for free over on SCF’s personal website. For more information and strategy guides, here is a handy fan-made website dedicated to the game. Note: This is an RPG from a bygone age. Bosses are difficult and there can be long stretches without a save point. If you find that you have gone a significant period of time between saves, go out of your way to save your game and always have a backup save so you don’t get stuck in an impossible area. Wing Commander Saga For people unfamiliar with the Wing Commander series, this will be a bit of a gaming history lesson. The original Wing Commander released in 1990 for the PC and focused on a conflict in the 27th century between the human race and a cat-like alien species known as the Kilrathi. Players took on the role of a starship pilot using a variety of space fighters to engage the Kilrathi in large-scale space wars. It turns out that this kind of thing appealed to gamers (who would have guessed?) and the game was a huge success, eventually getting ports to several other systems. Wing Commander proved incredibly popular from 1990 until 1996 when the series went dormant. The core Wing Commander entries are famous for their extensive use of FMV cutscenes to convey their stories with well-known actors such as Mark Hamill, Christopher Walken, and John Rhys-Davies. Though Wing Commander has been gone for nearly seventeen years, fans of the series have by no means forgotten it. A group of enterprising and talented people who had enjoyed it during its heyday got together in 2001 to begin working on a tribute to the games they loved. After developing Wing Commander Saga for more than a decade, the team finally released their labor of love in 2012. Wing Commander Saga stands as fully-fledged campaign called Darkest Dawn which takes place during the events of Wing Commander III. This amazing product of dedication contains fully voiced dialogue, beautifully rendered cutscenes, and engaging in-game squad chatter. Players take on the role of a fighter pilot, call sign Sandman, stationed on the carrier-class starship Hermes. Gamers will be treated to lengthy missions involving eliminating Kilrathi fighters, bombers, capital ships, enemy carriers, defending human vessels, and general awesome space-shooting-explosions kind of stuff. A word of warning for new Wing Commander Saga players: plug in a controller or joystick and tailor the controls to be a bit more playable. The keyboard control scheme is convoluted at best and extremely unintuitive for newcomers. Mapping the controls to a controller feels much more familiar. You can download Wing Commander Saga from the official website. Doom Roguelike Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a space marine fighting the forces of evil from a top-down perspective with randomly generated levels and turn-based movement? If you answered yes, you’re in luck! Doom Roguelike is a remake of the original Doom, but placing it within the wildly different roguelike genre. Players select one of three initial classes: marine, technician, or scout. Each class has different starting stats and abilities that affect the way players can best approach the challenges that await them. Movement through levels occurs one tile at a time, slowly revealing darkened areas that are out of the character’s line of sight. Monsters that appear within character’s visual range begin attacking, either by closing in for melee attacks or by firing lethal projectiles. With each enemy neutralized, characters receive experience points which go toward unlocking new skills that will help players progress further. Numerous secret arenas are scattered throughout the 25 levels of the game world that push player abilities to the limit, but provide new weapons, upgrades, and healthy chunks of experience. The main hook of Doom Roguelike is the implementation of permadeath; if the player’s character dies, the game restarts at the beginning. Permadeath and the randomized elements in each of the levels result in a unique experience every play session. As a nice treat for fans of the classic Doom, enemies retain their original artwork and sound effects. Overall, Doom Roguelike isn’t a terribly nuanced game. However, it succeeds in providing an original twist on a classic gaming formula. Doom Roguelike feels like a well-designed breath of fresh air. As a free game that can run on practically anything, Doom Roguelike is definitely worth your time. You can download the full game on chaosforge.org. Star Stealing Prince Using RPG Maker VX, a person under the name Ronove created a surprisingly refreshing RPG experience. Clocking in at about ten hours in length, the mechanics, puzzles, beautiful hand-drawn artwork, and most of all the story never once left me bored or unsatisfied. In terms of gameplay, there is more depth than you would expect. Combat occurs in a traditional turn-based fashion, with characters gaining experience and leveling up to increase their stats. New skills are learned by finding magic tomes and determined by the weapons and armor characters have equipped. While magic skills use MP, skills that come from your equipped gear can be accessed when a character has built up enough TP by attacking or being hit by enemies. Outside of combat, exploration is almost always rewarded with a new piece of armor, weapon, or useful item. The crafty and entertaining puzzles that crop up from time to time were an unexpected pleasure. One riddle in particular takes place during a tense boss battle and requires you to brush up a bit on your astrology knowledge. The best way to describe the story of Star Stealing Prince is to equate it with a fairy tale. Like a fairy tale, Star Stealing Prince isn’t overly complex and there isn’t an overabundance of characters, but it doesn’t need those things to tell the story it wants to convey. To sum up the basic premise of this indie gem: On a remote island there is a kingdom shrouded in perpetual winter ruled by a prince named Snowe. The prince’s parents died when he was small, but they left behind a great many pieces of magic. One of their most powerful spells binds all of the citizens of the kingdom to the prince, making them feel what he feels. If he is happy, they are happy. The spell also shields the people from the cold, keeping them warm and dry in a land of harsh winter. After being wracked by a strange nightmare, Snowe discovers his parents trapped a girl within a tower for an unknown purpose… And so begins the gripping adventure of Star Stealing Prince. If I could only recommend one game out of these four, it would be Star Stealing Prince. It is a short, rewarding and game that has a lot to offer if you take the time to download and play it. It feels intensely personal and real. When you play Star Stealing Prince you just know that someone was putting a part of themselves into it, which isn’t a feeling you get from many AAA experiences. Since this game is free, you have no excuse not to play it. Do yourself a favor and download Star Stealing Prince over on the official site. I suggest that you download it with RTP if you want it to function properly on your computer. Honorable Mention: Candy Box I can’t really explain Candy Box without ruining what makes it so great. Just follow this link, leave it open in a tab for a few minutes, forget about it, and come back. Then your descent into obsession epic quest for glory can truly begin. View full article
  16. On Monday, Maxis and EA announced that The Sims Studio, the dedicated Sims development team, was currently working on The Sims 4 for both PC and Mac. The next official entry in The Sims franchise is scheduled for a release sometime in 2014. Only a few scant details are known about the upcoming title. Gameplay will resemble previous Sims games, while adding the ability to share player creations with other Sims 4 gamers. For those of you worrying about another always online debacle like Maxis’ SimCity, never fear. The Sims 4 is promised to focus on the single player experience and will have no always online requirement. If you are a Sims super fan and want the latest updates on The Sims 4, you can head over to the official site and sign up for their newsletter. Or you can keep reading Extra Life. You know which one you’d prefer (the second one, obviously).
  17. On Monday, Maxis and EA announced that The Sims Studio, the dedicated Sims development team, was currently working on The Sims 4 for both PC and Mac. The next official entry in The Sims franchise is scheduled for a release sometime in 2014. Only a few scant details are known about the upcoming title. Gameplay will resemble previous Sims games, while adding the ability to share player creations with other Sims 4 gamers. For those of you worrying about another always online debacle like Maxis’ SimCity, never fear. The Sims 4 is promised to focus on the single player experience and will have no always online requirement. If you are a Sims super fan and want the latest updates on The Sims 4, you can head over to the official site and sign up for their newsletter. Or you can keep reading Extra Life. You know which one you’d prefer (the second one, obviously). View full article
  18. The Walt Disney Company, the owner of all things Star Wars, announced today that they had chosen to contract EA to create new Star Wars video games for the foreseeable future. EA announced this with pride over on their official blog, adding that the future of Star Wars includes tablets, mobile, and other devices as well as the traditional console and PC entries. While I am sure that many gamers out there are curious as to what this means for old Lucas Arts Star Wars games like First Assault and 1313, EA has declined to mention details on any specific titles. However, they stated that they had top studios such as Battlefield developer DICE, Visceral, which created the acclaimed Dead Space franchise, and BioWare, who previously created one of the greatest games of all time with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, working on Star Wars related projects. All games coming out of these studios will be powered by the Frostbite 3 engine. While EA promised that all of the content coming out of these and other EA affiliated studios would be original, I wouldn’t mind if they dipped into the deep and relatively untouched well of past Star Wars series to give them a new life. A DICE developed Star Wars Battlefront or Rogue Squadron would be incredible. If Visceral took up the reins of 1313 or created another Star Wars Republic Commando I would be ecstatic. And if BioWare is working on a single player Knights of the Old Republic III, I would definitely disappear for a week when that releases. Any one of those hypothetical games would win me over to this new deal between Disney and EA, but for now we have to sit tight and wait for more news. What Star Wars titles do you want to see coming out of EA?
  19. The Walt Disney Company, the owner of all things Star Wars, announced today that they had chosen to contract EA to create new Star Wars video games for the foreseeable future. EA announced this with pride over on their official blog, adding that the future of Star Wars includes tablets, mobile, and other devices as well as the traditional console and PC entries. While I am sure that many gamers out there are curious as to what this means for old Lucas Arts Star Wars games like First Assault and 1313, EA has declined to mention details on any specific titles. However, they stated that they had top studios such as Battlefield developer DICE, Visceral, which created the acclaimed Dead Space franchise, and BioWare, who previously created one of the greatest games of all time with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, working on Star Wars related projects. All games coming out of these studios will be powered by the Frostbite 3 engine. While EA promised that all of the content coming out of these and other EA affiliated studios would be original, I wouldn’t mind if they dipped into the deep and relatively untouched well of past Star Wars series to give them a new life. A DICE developed Star Wars Battlefront or Rogue Squadron would be incredible. If Visceral took up the reins of 1313 or created another Star Wars Republic Commando I would be ecstatic. And if BioWare is working on a single player Knights of the Old Republic III, I would definitely disappear for a week when that releases. Any one of those hypothetical games would win me over to this new deal between Disney and EA, but for now we have to sit tight and wait for more news. What Star Wars titles do you want to see coming out of EA? View full article
  20. If you played Capcom’s open world, monster-slaying adventure and are planning to revisit the world of Gransys by playing through the New Game Plus mode or via the recently released Dark Arisen expansion, you may want to back up your save data. A recent game patch had the unintentional side-effect of rendering some player’s save data unloadable or unable to be saved from the last point the game was saved. Capcom suggests a temporary solution for those who have yet to update their game: “To prevent the possibility of permanent loss of your data, please copy your existing save data (whether it be Dragon’s Dogma or Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen) to an external storage device or cloud whenever possible--especially if you are picking up the game for the first time in awhile or switching over to Dark Arisen for the first time.” They go on to apologize to affected players for the inconvenience and state that they are furiously working on a solution to remove the glitch from the patch and to restore any lost save data that may have resulted from the patch.
  21. If you played Capcom’s open world, monster-slaying adventure and are planning to revisit the world of Gransys by playing through the New Game Plus mode or via the recently released Dark Arisen expansion, you may want to back up your save data. A recent game patch had the unintentional side-effect of rendering some player’s save data unloadable or unable to be saved from the last point the game was saved. Capcom suggests a temporary solution for those who have yet to update their game: “To prevent the possibility of permanent loss of your data, please copy your existing save data (whether it be Dragon’s Dogma or Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen) to an external storage device or cloud whenever possible--especially if you are picking up the game for the first time in awhile or switching over to Dark Arisen for the first time.” They go on to apologize to affected players for the inconvenience and state that they are furiously working on a solution to remove the glitch from the patch and to restore any lost save data that may have resulted from the patch. View full article
  22. Whenever people complain about the abundance of overly dark, washed-out post-apocalyptic settings and the lack of strong storytelling in video games, one game has always stood out as incredibly overlooked and underappreciated by the gaming community: Enslaved. In an age where brown, gritty visuals have become the norm and players are craving strong characters with compelling story lines, there exists a small group of gamers who have played Ninja Theory’s colorful reimagining of the 16th century Chinese novel by Wu Cheng’en, Journey to the West. Like any game, Enslaved has its flaws, the combat can be bland and the story treads some familiar ground, but what it does right, it REALLY does right. If someone is looking for textbook examples of solid art direction, riveting storytelling, engaging character development, or perfect pacing, Enslaved is their game. One of the hugely refreshing aspects of Enslaved is the vibrant and imaginative world it envisions. Many people have expressed frustration over this console generation’s obsession with realism and how that usually seems to translate into grey-brown shooters with explosions and feelings of despair. Enslaved eschews all of that (okay, it does have explosions), in favor of a colorized apocalypse. Though the game takes place 150 years in the future, the world has been destroyed for generations when the narrative begins. The time that has passed since the end of the world is beautifully reflected in the environments. The scenery embraces spectacle with truly magnificent vistas full of green foliage, crumbling structures, eccentric robots, and fantastical machinery around every corner. The depiction of a world in which nature reclaims mankind’s cities and dangerous future technology lies rusting and weathered is inviting simply through the originality of the visual design. This approach to visual aesthetic engages the player with the novelty of the experience. Not knowing what new fantastical sight could lie around the next twist in the path can be a huge motivator. Enslaved opens with a daring prison escape from an airship as it crashes from the sky into the remains of New York City (Edit: If that previous sentence doesn’t catch your attention and immediately get you interested in this game, I don’t know what will). During the harrowing escape, protagonist Monkey meets a young woman named Trip and the two nearly kill each other attempting to leave the rapidly descending vessel. Monkey, knocked unconscious while clinging to the outside of an escape pod, awakes to find that he has been enslaved by a headband Trip put on him while he was unconscious. If he disobeys one of her orders, if he wanders too far away from her, or if she dies, the headband will kill him. Trip agrees to remove the headband once Monkey returns her home. The arrangement clear, the two set off on a pilgrimage across the ruins of America in search of Trip’s village. As is to be expected from a story that was novelized in the 16th century, but existed in legends long before that, the story can seem a bit formulaic at times. However, there are enough twists, especially one toward the end, that keep the game compelling for its relatively short duration. Strong writing and performances elevate the story into something unique. Over the course of their adventure, Monkey and Trip gradually learn about each other and develop a strong, yet platonic, attachment to one another. Part of what makes their relationship relatively unique in the video game industry is that their interaction stays firmly rooted in friendship. Trip might be the only female character in the game, but she is never relegated to being the tired and overused role of damsel in distress/love interest. Too often video game characters are written to fulfill some stereotypical role that remains static for the remainder of the game. Monkey shows his rage at being forced into slavery, while Trip visibly shows her remorse at having used the headband in the first place, yet maintains that it was necessary to survive. These feelings change over the course of their time together in what feels like a natural progression. Writing and performances that make the characters believable as human beings set Enslaved apart. The authenticity the two characters display is largely due to the solid vocal and motion capture work from leading man Andy Serkis (best known as the actor who for playing Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films) and leading lady Lindsay Shaw (who might be recognizable from her role as Paige McCullers in the television show Pretty Little Liars). Both actors really steal the show and create the emotional bond that seems so absent in many games with larger budgets. Ninja Theory was careful to avoid falling into stereotypes and lazy writing with Enslaved. It was somewhat shocking that the team didn’t make Trip an obligatory love interest. Most games would have written her as a piece of eye candy who Monkey eventually has to save from some generic villain because he “loves” this person who he met a day or two ago. Instead, Ninja Theory took the time and effort to give each of the characters motivations and personalities and then threw them into strange scenarios. Ninja Theory even avoids cheapening the thematic elements of Enslaved like friendship, free will, and memory. Players are shown how Monkey deals with his enforced servitude through his interactions with Trip throughout the game. The result is a stronger, more effective narrative that allows players to connect with the characters and care about what happens to them. It would have been so easy for the writers and designers or the marketing department to tweak the originality out of Enslaved, but somehow Ninja Theory got the game through development while keeping what made it great intact. Enslaved represents almost perfect execution when it comes to pacing. Both the story and gameplay are perfectly timed so that you are never really doing the same thing the same way more than a few times. For example, there is a recurring boss robot that first appears early in the game. Each time players encounter this boss they must use a different tactic in order to proceed. Sometime you have to run, other times you have to fight or solve puzzles while avoiding its powerful attacks. When one enemy can recur and each time it feels new because different skills are in play; that's good game design. As previously stated, the combat in Enslaved isn't the deepest or most interesting, but Ninja Theory designed and paced Enslaved in such a way that players don’t lose interest in fighting the various enemy types. Well-timed set piece moments and the introduction of new abilities like projectile stuns and plasma blasts break up what could have easily been a lackluster experience and create something great. The story moves along at a good pace where nothing feels rushed and you aren’t left to grow bored with what is happening. Here is the TL:DR version – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West does so much right, that it is a crime that not many people bought it when it released or have played it since. The visuals are unique and interesting. An extremely competent narrative provides a few great water cooler moments. The character development between Monkey and Trip should be the standard for non-romantic video game relationships. The pacing is so well done you could probably power through the entire game in one sitting and feel like you never repeated a scenario more than once or twice. I’d strongly encourage anyone who is interested in game design or development to pick up a copy of this game.
  23. Whenever people complain about the abundance of overly dark, washed-out post-apocalyptic settings and the lack of strong storytelling in video games, one game has always stood out as incredibly overlooked and underappreciated by the gaming community: Enslaved. In an age where brown, gritty visuals have become the norm and players are craving strong characters with compelling story lines, there exists a small group of gamers who have played Ninja Theory’s colorful reimagining of the 16th century Chinese novel by Wu Cheng’en, Journey to the West. Like any game, Enslaved has its flaws, the combat can be bland and the story treads some familiar ground, but what it does right, it REALLY does right. If someone is looking for textbook examples of solid art direction, riveting storytelling, engaging character development, or perfect pacing, Enslaved is their game. One of the hugely refreshing aspects of Enslaved is the vibrant and imaginative world it envisions. Many people have expressed frustration over this console generation’s obsession with realism and how that usually seems to translate into grey-brown shooters with explosions and feelings of despair. Enslaved eschews all of that (okay, it does have explosions), in favor of a colorized apocalypse. Though the game takes place 150 years in the future, the world has been destroyed for generations when the narrative begins. The time that has passed since the end of the world is beautifully reflected in the environments. The scenery embraces spectacle with truly magnificent vistas full of green foliage, crumbling structures, eccentric robots, and fantastical machinery around every corner. The depiction of a world in which nature reclaims mankind’s cities and dangerous future technology lies rusting and weathered is inviting simply through the originality of the visual design. This approach to visual aesthetic engages the player with the novelty of the experience. Not knowing what new fantastical sight could lie around the next twist in the path can be a huge motivator. Enslaved opens with a daring prison escape from an airship as it crashes from the sky into the remains of New York City (Edit: If that previous sentence doesn’t catch your attention and immediately get you interested in this game, I don’t know what will). During the harrowing escape, protagonist Monkey meets a young woman named Trip and the two nearly kill each other attempting to leave the rapidly descending vessel. Monkey, knocked unconscious while clinging to the outside of an escape pod, awakes to find that he has been enslaved by a headband Trip put on him while he was unconscious. If he disobeys one of her orders, if he wanders too far away from her, or if she dies, the headband will kill him. Trip agrees to remove the headband once Monkey returns her home. The arrangement clear, the two set off on a pilgrimage across the ruins of America in search of Trip’s village. As is to be expected from a story that was novelized in the 16th century, but existed in legends long before that, the story can seem a bit formulaic at times. However, there are enough twists, especially one toward the end, that keep the game compelling for its relatively short duration. Strong writing and performances elevate the story into something unique. Over the course of their adventure, Monkey and Trip gradually learn about each other and develop a strong, yet platonic, attachment to one another. Part of what makes their relationship relatively unique in the video game industry is that their interaction stays firmly rooted in friendship. Trip might be the only female character in the game, but she is never relegated to being the tired and overused role of damsel in distress/love interest. Too often video game characters are written to fulfill some stereotypical role that remains static for the remainder of the game. Monkey shows his rage at being forced into slavery, while Trip visibly shows her remorse at having used the headband in the first place, yet maintains that it was necessary to survive. These feelings change over the course of their time together in what feels like a natural progression. Writing and performances that make the characters believable as human beings set Enslaved apart. The authenticity the two characters display is largely due to the solid vocal and motion capture work from leading man Andy Serkis (best known as the actor who for playing Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films) and leading lady Lindsay Shaw (who might be recognizable from her role as Paige McCullers in the television show Pretty Little Liars). Both actors really steal the show and create the emotional bond that seems so absent in many games with larger budgets. Ninja Theory was careful to avoid falling into stereotypes and lazy writing with Enslaved. It was somewhat shocking that the team didn’t make Trip an obligatory love interest. Most games would have written her as a piece of eye candy who Monkey eventually has to save from some generic villain because he “loves” this person who he met a day or two ago. Instead, Ninja Theory took the time and effort to give each of the characters motivations and personalities and then threw them into strange scenarios. Ninja Theory even avoids cheapening the thematic elements of Enslaved like friendship, free will, and memory. Players are shown how Monkey deals with his enforced servitude through his interactions with Trip throughout the game. The result is a stronger, more effective narrative that allows players to connect with the characters and care about what happens to them. It would have been so easy for the writers and designers or the marketing department to tweak the originality out of Enslaved, but somehow Ninja Theory got the game through development while keeping what made it great intact. Enslaved represents almost perfect execution when it comes to pacing. Both the story and gameplay are perfectly timed so that you are never really doing the same thing the same way more than a few times. For example, there is a recurring boss robot that first appears early in the game. Each time players encounter this boss they must use a different tactic in order to proceed. Sometime you have to run, other times you have to fight or solve puzzles while avoiding its powerful attacks. When one enemy can recur and each time it feels new because different skills are in play; that's good game design. As previously stated, the combat in Enslaved isn't the deepest or most interesting, but Ninja Theory designed and paced Enslaved in such a way that players don’t lose interest in fighting the various enemy types. Well-timed set piece moments and the introduction of new abilities like projectile stuns and plasma blasts break up what could have easily been a lackluster experience and create something great. The story moves along at a good pace where nothing feels rushed and you aren’t left to grow bored with what is happening. Here is the TL:DR version – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West does so much right, that it is a crime that not many people bought it when it released or have played it since. The visuals are unique and interesting. An extremely competent narrative provides a few great water cooler moments. The character development between Monkey and Trip should be the standard for non-romantic video game relationships. The pacing is so well done you could probably power through the entire game in one sitting and feel like you never repeated a scenario more than once or twice. I’d strongly encourage anyone who is interested in game design or development to pick up a copy of this game. View full article
  24. Electronic Arts announced today that it is bringing its popular city-building game to Mac on June 11. It will be available exclusively as a digital download through the company’s Origin service and other digital distribution sites. As an added bonus, future purchases of SimCity will work for both Mac and PC, with cities created in one version being available in the other as well. People who have already bought SimCity on PC will receive a free Mac version via Origin. Despite selling 1.3 million copies since launch, many enthusiastic customers encountered numerous server issues due to the always-online component of Maxis’ city simulation. Server instability became so bad that Maxis disabled part of the time-speeding feature (called Cheetah Speed) and players were frequently required to endure ridiculously long login queues. To try and earn consumer loyalty back, EA offered free games to affected customers. Even with the free game giveaways, many people still cried that EA hadn’t done enough to repair the damage. Maybe offering free Mac versions to existing customers is another attempt from EA to make reparations to jilted consumers?
  25. Electronic Arts announced today that it is bringing its popular city-building game to Mac on June 11. It will be available exclusively as a digital download through the company’s Origin service and other digital distribution sites. As an added bonus, future purchases of SimCity will work for both Mac and PC, with cities created in one version being available in the other as well. People who have already bought SimCity on PC will receive a free Mac version via Origin. Despite selling 1.3 million copies since launch, many enthusiastic customers encountered numerous server issues due to the always-online component of Maxis’ city simulation. Server instability became so bad that Maxis disabled part of the time-speeding feature (called Cheetah Speed) and players were frequently required to endure ridiculously long login queues. To try and earn consumer loyalty back, EA offered free games to affected customers. Even with the free game giveaways, many people still cried that EA hadn’t done enough to repair the damage. Maybe offering free Mac versions to existing customers is another attempt from EA to make reparations to jilted consumers? View full article
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