Monday, April 30, 2007

Wii Titles Confirmed for 2007 Release, in Japan

Many AAA titles have been confirmed for a 2007 release in Japan, while it isn't clear if some will make it out in North America and Europe this year it is more than likely Metroid Prime: Corruption and Super Mario Strikers will.

The rest of the list is as follows:
  • Donkey Kong Taru Jet Race (DK Jet or DK Bongo Blast, US) - June 28, 2007
  • Wii Health Pack -- 2007
  • Disaster: Day of Crisis - 2007
  • Mario Party 8 - 2007
  • Project H.A.M.M.E.R. - 2007
  • Wii Music - 2007
  • Super Mario Galaxy - 2007
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl - 2007
  • Battalion Wars II - 2007
  • Forever Blue - 2007
  • Mario Strikers Charged - 2007
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - 2007
  • Mario and Sonic at the Olympics - 2007
Looks like Japanese Wii owners are going to have their hands full for a good few months, thats at least enough AAA titles to keep most people going for a year.


Burnout 5 - 'Burnout Paradise' Officially Announced!

Head over to Criterion games and find this loverly press release, a trailer and a bunch of screenshots have also been released.

Bioshock Water

Bioshock's water effects have not only met peoples expectations but have left behind any game that would like to claim to have the best looking water in the dust.

It makes Half-Life 2's water look like pre-Quake 2 era.

Firearms 2 Mod is a No a-Go-Go

I can in part imagine what the Firearms team think and feel, after years of developing a mod it was snatched away from them by a bunch of over zealous 'fans' and now using the Firearms name are making a sequel to a mod they never created but stole.
The same can't be said for the Firearms 2 Team, who kicked off their mod in August 2005 by hijacking the Firearms Forums, FTP, and servers using back-door access supplied by our server provider, ReconGamer. Every single team member and most of the forum admin/mod staff were banned, and we lost all of our art source and personal files stored on the server. As a result, this website was rebuilt from archived sites. The server takeover didn't affect the domain names, so the FA Team still controls those. For a while, they redirected to the site of our follow-up mod, World at War.
Full Story

The developers of the original Firearms mod don't want to remember this gross past, (understandably so) they are moving on and making World at War, a Half-Life 2 mod.

What I don't understand is how the gaming community can allow this sort of behavior and even support it (yes people do support Firearms 2). While Firearms 2 may turn out to be a good mod it was stolen no less, if we took all legalities out of the equation and said that Sony stole Bungie and plans to release a second rate knock off on the Playstation 3 would anyone agree much less support Sony in that move?

Is it different that this is the mod community? Shouldn't it be even more aggravating to the community that such a mod is in fact profiting off the name of another teams entire efforts, even the original creator didn't like the idea of giving Firearms 2 to another team:
During this period, Zerk [creator of Firearms] consulted with the DICE legal team and learned that, despite having signed a contract, no legal action could be taken against the theft of intellectual property online.
I don't see how people can be shallow enough to say 'yes we support this mod because it looks cool' despite it being a complete ripoff of someone else's work, better or not it's stolen and if we continue this line of thought we could see more of this happening - more startup mods having their thunder snatched from them due to such and such glory hogs who think they know better.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Games Killed the PC

Any real hardcore PC gamer will tell you PC games are almost dead, with the number of dumbed down franchises that are multiplatform being released it no longer at all makes sense to own a PC, unless you are still into RTS gaming.

For me it all started with the release of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. Now I'm not denying the game was really fun to play but damn well the game was not Ghost Recon, not the Ghost Recon I know, and I would too, I played the original Ghost Recon.

What happened to the intense moments of hiding in foliage wondering if you should move two steps foward or two steps back? What happened to commanding four or five squad mates to run across an open field as you covered them with a sniper? GRAW completely took all that away, it no longer was 'Ghost Recon' it was 'Rhino Recon', charge in, charge out. Gee, Ubisoft, so long as you're wrecking these great franchises (for us die-hard gamers) you could at least do it right - GRAW on the 360 was definitely more fun with the third person mode and cover system.

Other franchises have also fallen into the trap and games are also being less and less optimized for the PC, why are game specs for PC's increasing disproportionately to graphics in games? They are all console ports, thats why.

It's no secret developers are getting lazy, Ubisoft claimed it was too difficult to make 'Double Agent' run in PS 2.0 because of special features behind PS3.0 that wasn't backwareds compatible, the truth is in the Directx documentation under 'Shader Model 3',

Vertex shaders and pixel shaders are simplified considerably from earlier shader versions. If you are implementing shaders in hardware, you may not use vs_3_0 or ps_3_0 with any other shader versions, and you may not use either shader type with the fixed function pipeline. These changes make it possible to simplify drivers and the runtime. The only exception is that software-only vs_3_0 shaders may be used with any pixel shader version. In addition, if you are using a software-only vs_3_0 shader with a previous pixel shader version, the vertex shader can only use output semantics that are compatible with flexible vertex format (FVF) codes.

Yeah it's just what we all expected, Ubisoft got lazy.

With every new generation of consoles you get the people who say it's over for PC's because of the power of the consoles, this isn't the case, whats killing the PC now is poorly ported games based on bastardized and streamlined franchises purpose built to hit a market mainstream, a mainstream mostly centered around consoles.

For me the PC died, it died with Ghost Recon, that was the final straw, Half-Life 2 played life support for a while but that doesn't justify owning a PC, the only reason I keep it is because of the great RTS games that are released on it and the few remaining games that are truly complex.

In my mind two things killed the PC as a serious gaming system, piracy and lost franchises I owned a gaming PC for.

Playstation 3 - Medal of Honor, Black Exlcusivity?

EA's boss Gerhard Florin claims despite the inflated price point the Playstation 3 can only be judged fairly in two years and claims like a Sony rep that EA will 'need' CELL for games like 'Black' and 'Medal of Honor'.

He added more online oriented games will be released on the Xbox 360 but gave no word on Medal of Honor or Black being released on it.

Does this mean no 'Black' or 'Medal of Honor' lov'n for the Xbox 360 in two years time? WHile it is far fetched to believe if you allow yourself to believe Sony's hype machine then it may turn into a reality, of course Gerhard is boss of EA which made the mistake of tying itself down to the Playstation 3 and is now playing 'catch up' with the Wii.

VIA Game Industry

Taiko Drum Master Coming to Nintendo DS

It may turn into the Guitar Hero of the portable market, Namco Bandai have announced Taiko Drum Master for the DS and yes it will let you drum to the Super Mario Bros theme.

Controls are still a secret (we still have our imaginations) and Namco still hasn't revealed any screenshots of the lower screen of the game. The game will feature four player multiplayer with drummer personalization features (you can dress up your drummer).

Current song list:

Natsumatsuri (Summer Festival)
Won't Be Long
Mata Aimashou (Let's Meet Again)
Dance2 Featuring Soy Sauce [Pocky Chocolate Commercial Song]

Children's/Folk Music:
Mori no O-Kumasan (Bears in the Forest)
Inu no O-mawarisan (Dog and the Policeman)

Game Music:
Super Mario Bros.

Beethoven's 7th (partial)
William Tell Overture
Heaven and Hell (Offenbach)
Flight of the Bumblebee (Rimsky-Korsakov)
Classic Medley (Wedding Songs)

Namco Originals:
Kimi ni Touch!
Mojipittan Medley
Pachi O-Sensei

More 'New' GTA IV Details

Game Informer has spilled the beans on (some more) of the neat-o features behind GTA IV the coolest of which is the removal of airplanes and the addition of helicopters.

The reason for removing the airplanes is the fact the game will be centered around one city so the gameplay wouldn't suit an airplane though flying is still a 'very large part of the game'.

Drivable boats may also make an appearance (why the hell wouldn't they with that awesome looking water?) as well as girlfriends - no word on an 'unlockable' hot-coffee mini-game.

Graphically the game is already very impressive though Rockstar is still making improvements here, adding bucket loads of spit and polishing away as hard as possible.

Driving is also apparently going to be revamped a bit, probably for the better, Game Informer says it will be far more like 'Midnight Club' in that the camera will be further up close to the car and give more vision to the player of the surroundings.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

AGEIA PhysX Behind 'Red Steel' Physics

No joke, Ageia PhysX is behind the physics in Ubisoft's first Nintendo Wii game 'Red Steel'.

Complete list of titles currently using Ageia PhysX

Auto Assault Net Devil games for windows
Bet on Soldier: Blackout Saigon Kylotonn Entertainment games for windows
Bet on Soldier: Blood of Sahara Kylotonn Entertainment games for windows
Bet on Soldier: Blood Sport (Patch) Kylotonn Entertainment games for windows
CellFactor: Combat Training Artificial Studios, Immersion games for windows
City of Villains Cryptic Studios games for windows
Dark Physics The Game Creators games for windows
Gears Of War Epic Games Xbox 360
Infernal Metropolis Software games for windows
Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire BEC Playstation 3
Red Steel Ubisoft Paris Nintendo Wii
RoboBlitz Naked Sky Xbox 360
Stoked Rider: Alaska Alien Bongfish games for windows
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter GRIN games for windowsXbox 360
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (single player mode) Ubisoft Paris Xbox 360
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas Ubisoft Montreal games for windowsXbox 360
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (multiplayer mode)

Ubisoft seems to be making the most of it, Unreal Engine 3 will be utilizing it in full and since Ubisofts current game engine seems to be a UE2 with some UE3 elements thrown in we have a sure fire bet that Ubisoft Wii titles, at least in part, will be powered by UE3.

The following game engines are/will be using AGEIA PhysX technology,

Engine Name Developer
Unreal Engine 3 Epic Games
Gamebryo Emergent Entertainment
Reality Engine Artificial Studios
Eclipse Engine Bioware
Saber3D Saber Interactive
Vision Engine 6.0 Trinigy

CellFactor - Download the Beta

CellFactor will be a free playable tech demo for Ageia's PhysX card. From early impressions the main gameplay seems to revolve around Half-Life 2 with gravity gun, which is to say you pick things up and throw them at people, albeit unlike Half-Life 2 it is taken to an extreme.

There will be five maps to play and while the game is free to download only people who have the PhysX card in their system will be able to play all of them, people who don't only get two out of the five.

From early previews the game seemed to be giving the impression that it was nothing more than a spectacular demonstration of physics and that the one thing in it that should make a PhysX card worth a purchase, real time water, received negative backlash because it looked terrible (despite having pseudo-realistic water-like behavior). It appears water is MIA in newer versions of the game.

Recommended system requirements (for the beta):

AGEIA PhysX Accelerator (required)
Windows XP Home, Pro, MCE w/ Service Pack 2
AMD Athlon 64 or higher or Intel Pentium 4 2.5GHz or higher
1 GB System Memory
Shader Model 3.0 Graphics Card (GPU) with 256MB RAM
2GB Free Hard Disk Space

Download the beta here

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wii Games Look Terrible?

I find it amazing how people can make that claim pointing out such and such crappy Playstation 2 port as their 'proof'. If were going to be judging Wii's graphics capabilities we should judge them by their best, who judges the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 by 'Need for Speed Most Wanted', likewise why do people judge the Wii with the lowliest Playstation 2 port? Wii has great looking games, especially when they are developed exclusively for it with the hardware in mind.

Lets take some examples,

Sonic and the Secret Rings is developed exclusively for the Wii, doesn't look half-bad,

Compare it to the Xbox 360 version of Sonic,

Wii is on the left, Xbox 360 on the right

Metroid Prime Corruption also looks great, retro is targeting 60 FPS in the final release,

Super Smash Brothers Brawl doesn't look half bad either,

Finally, Super Mario Galaxy, running at 60fps really shows off what the Wii can do,

Of course there are more games, SSX Blur, Final Fantasy Chrystal Chronicles, Resident Evil amongst many others. Theres still a few years for the Wii and if developers can focus on art direction they can still make beautiful looking Wii games and at the end of the day thats all anyone can really ever ask.

Harry Potter Wii Details

Your wishes have been granted, open ended gameplay and the Wii-mote is, yep, Mr. Potter's wand, with mapped out motions to boot. Of course in keeping with tradition it is a Playstation 2 port with 16:9 and pro scan added as a nice little extra.
Probably the most interesting thing you can do with the wand which also happens to be taken right out of Elebits, you can move objects around in game, chairs, beds, whatever. Though I doubt horny twelve year old boys will be able to pull any skirts up, that will be saved for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions which are rumored to be supporting 'clothes physics' for just that purpose (EA declined to comment on said rumor).

Hogwarts is modeled in its entirety, players are free to roam wherever they want and take on quests in any order the game is permitting however EA is endeavouring on keeping close to the storyline, and yes, there will be a Quiditch minigame.

Dumbledore and Sirius Black are also set to be playable.

New Team Fortress 2 info and Launch Date set-ish

IGN recently got some juicy bits and pieces of info about Team Fortress 2 (TF2) from an interview of several Valve employees.

What is interesting about TF2 is that it seems like Valve is trying to create a very fine tuned and definite experience as opposed to most, if not all, other multiplayer games out there. To that end classes have been and are being revamped significantly, an interesting dynamic of paper scissor rock is being set up where, for instance, pyro kills scout in closed space, scout kills pyro in open space favoring gameplay.

Maps are specific, each is tied to one and only one game mode because variations between them can cause unfavorable gameplay that has not been fine tuned to the minutest of details as Valve really wants to do hence does not go with the rest of TF2's spirit.

Downloadable content has been confirmed, more maps and 'stuff like that' will be on the way after the initial shipment of six maps in TF2. The newer downloadable maps may also contribute to the ongoing storyline behind TF2.

Wait what? Storyline? Thats what Charlie Brown said.

Development is 'technically done' on the Xbox 360 and PC, Electronic Arts UK is working on the Playstation 3 port, networking is still being implemented but "[pause] it's rending and running the games and whatnot". Both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions will be ports of the PC, just to clarify, there is no simultaneous Xbox 360/PC development, everything goes on the PC first, the consoles second.

For those of you fearing that EA will call the shots here hence ruin TF2 you can put your minds at ease, Robin Walker of Valve says clearly that "EA is our retail distributor, they're not our publisher, they don't make any of those kinds of decisions". Big sigh and relief. Right now the only thing that can apparently delay the launch of this game is quality, with bucket loads of spit and some polish released it will be.

A simultaneous Septermber-ish release date has been set.

"Destroyed Beauty" - A Look Into The Art and Story Behind Gears of War

Released months before the actual game it has more insight into the Gears of War storyline than the game itself and a decent enough prelude, written by Cliff Blizinski. This helps clarify some small points about Gears of War, 'Pendulum Wars' anyone?