Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Campaign to get Peggle on X-Fire

I recently (just five minutes ago) got fed up of a bunch of people on a Call of Duty 4 server acting like the classic CSS and Halo players we often assume we see, you know the sort, coloured writing, 'noob' and 'camper' claims all the time etc. Note I had X-Fire running at this time.

So where was I, oh yes, being fed up with Call of Duty I turned my attention to what other lovely games I had in my Steam account. I see 'Kane and Lynch' being downloaded (can't wait to review that one!) and amongst the rest of the games in my account I decide to give the ever popular, ever classic Peggle Deluxe a spin.

I start playing and I notice something, I notice that my X-Fire status remains as 'Online' (and has now turned to AFK due to writing this.) This strikes me as odd, why hasn't one of the biggest game tracking service not recognised that I am playing Peggle Deluxe?

I delve a little and explore, Peggle has not been picked up as an installed game on my system even though the rest of my Steam games have been. I decide to take this further and too my shock I find that Peggle Extreme is supported by X-Fire!

I ask myself why Peggle Deluxe is not supported while Peggle Extreme is, something surely is wrong with this situation! Why would a mini-version of a game being included on X-Fire, but not the original version of the game?

As such I find myself going to the X-Fire 'New Game Ideas' forum and creating this thread campaigning for the inclusion of Peggle Deluxe onto X-Fire.

Support me friends! Support the Peggle Deluxe way of life!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

C&C - Renegade lives in Tiberium?

Reports have been flooding in from numerous areas -, RPS and Shacknews among many that a new Command and Conquer FPS is in the works!

Some of the current info on it follows (taken from the various sources above)

You play as Ricardo Vega, a GDI field commander dragged out of retirement to stop the latest Nod master plan.
  • Will ship on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360
  • Set 11 years after the third Tiberium war
  • Squad-based action
  • Squads are called R.A.I.D. (Rapid Assault and Intercept Deployment)
  • Known squad types are infantry, missile infantry, Titan and Orca
  • Missions are around the "Mediterranean Red Zone"
  • Special powers such as "Orbital Slug" are available
This is intriguing, from the limited information available to us there is no mention of the Scrin and puts you in the role of a GDI commander, presumably you will be commanding a commando squad or some such thing.

This implies that Kane's Wrath with lead to a GDI victory over the Scrin and Nod, putting them both out of business for the time being. So is the ending of Kane's Wrath partially ruined already? I think it may have been!

The idea of the squads is cool, I hope EA do this game justice and get some designers in with some FPS experience (Renegade didn't go down too well when Westwood tried it) and that vehicles like the Titan and Orca that are rumoured too be included are playable and work well.

This really could be something special if EA focus less on the base managing ideas and get a very good FPS out of it.

I have seen some people complain at another 'commando fps' being planned, but seriously how else would this work? You can't just be a normal GDI infantry, you have to be something 'special' in order to fit the games fiction and such like, and to make the game interesting!

The currently penned name - 'Command and Conquer: Tiberium' is just going to add further confusion to the C&C naming schematics, but we shall see more I guess when EA come public with this.

A note - don't get massively hyped up for this game C&C fanboys, i'm not! I just hope to see a nice solid C&C FPS to help further the franchise. As long as it doesn't betray the fiction of the series I will be happy.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

ESRB - A Public Service Announcement

According to Kotaku the ESRB it taking steps to initiate a Public Service Announcement scheme in Delaware! Kotaku says that the ESRB is going to place the PSAs in malls, on billboards and even promote it via the radio!

Classic Public Service Announcement technique that is with the radio. I can imagine it now;

"This is a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT to all parents. Please take care when buying your young children the latest MATURE rated game! This should only be played by those over the age of 17! If you buy this MATURE rated game and then give it to your children as a Christmas present please bear this in mind.


This was a Public Service Announcement from the ESRB."

And you know what? Despite all their best efforts, the parents will still buy M rated games for their children...and then complain that they contain violence and that games are the root of all evil.

Parents, everywhere please, this Christmas - buy your children the following game to avoid any issue arising - Bratz Super Babyz

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Games Journalism Today

The Games Journalism Industry

I am pulling together two other smaller blogs I have done relating to the Gaming Journalism Industry over the past few days (over on Destructoid) and here I aim to pull some ideas together in a nice coherent piece of blogging. Or maybe not, I never really know how I am going to do these blogs. So onwards!

So the Games Journalism Industry (ok I can’t be arsed typing that out all the time, I’ll just call it games journalism) is currently in a state of flux and change.

Since the Jeff Gerstmann controversy came to light I have noticed some things changing. The respect and faith placed in the big games media sites like GameSpot has all but disappeared. I have noticed a rapid increase in people registering on sites like Destructoid and The Escapist, and many people are saying that they are joining because they are fed up with the big sites, especially GameSpot. Now while this is mainly just a reaction to the Gerstmann controversy, I think it is signifying a much larger shift in dynamics for the gaming media.

The time of the large corporate sites is coming to an end, and there is a rise in the popularity of what I am calling the ‘indie’ sites and the blog. People are fed up with the corporatism of the larger networks, they are starting to realise that other sites are out there providing fresh content and more innovative features and articles.

I realise that this is not necessarily a new thing, sites like The Escapist have been around for quite a while now, and blogging has been on the rise for quite a while, but I think that are boom period could be occurring in the next few months. I for one hope that these sites can capitalise on this opportunity and help start a new wave of gaming journalism and journalists.

So what am I trying to say you may ask?

I am saying that we have to support these sites during these times of flux in gaming journalism; we must show that we will no longer bow to the will of the networks. I also hope that the work of sites like The Escapist; Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Destructoid will also lead to an end of the focus on review ‘scores’ and awards.

Review scores are becoming something of a curse in games journalism as they are what game publishers and the gaming public focus on nowadays. I read earlier today that Eidos have placed false review scores on the PR site for their game ‘Kane and Lynch’ (incidentally the game at the heart of the Gerstmann scandal) a prime example of how focused people are on the final score at the end of a review.

This is a bad path for games journalism and is something that the big network sites are helping to promote. People are becoming so concerned with the final score, and end of year awards that they don’t care about what the reviews say about the game itself.

I am beginning to think that we should end the focus on the score and think more about what the review says about the game. The final rating of a game should still be used in reviews as it provides a snapshot opinion of the game. It is the content of a review that counts and the way it is written.

I would much prefer if reviews are written in an interesting and innovative way without the need for talking up a game purely because it has been hyped to death by the PR guys.

I feel that I am now rambling on so I will come to my conclusion!

Games journalism is and has to continue changing, games journalists have to become more innovative and stop pandering to the big money of game publishers. The content of reviews should be what matters, not the final score. The involvement of everyday gamers should be promoted further in games journalism. I hope that games journalists will continue to push the rigid rules that often seem to encompass their work and lead us into a new intellectual age.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Independent Games Festival - Grand Final Nominees

The list of the Grand Finalist Nominees for the 10th Annual Independent Games Festival have been revealed!

Here is the list of the Grand Final Nominees and the nominees for all of the other categories ranging from Best Web Browser Games to Technical Excellence.

The Grand Final Nominees are as follows:
Crayon Physics Deluxe
Noitu Love 2: Devolution
World of Goo

Hopefully I can find time before the Awards Ceremony on the 20th of February 2008 to give these games a quick whirl and present my thoughts.

IGF Homepage

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Call of Duty 4 Review

Call of Duty 4 - Review

Call of Duty 4 is an immense game, one of the few First Person Shooters to have had a similar impact on me to that of the Half-Life games. Upon first playing this game I knew I would love it, there is something about it which is just brilliant. The game is highly cinematic at times in single-player, with some scenes just brilliant and at times shocking. This game does some things which I have not witnessed in other games, and at times my jaw was left hanging at what had occurred to you character.

So you play two characters, which as ever in the Call of Duty series you switch between playing as at various times during the campaign. You are either ‘Soap’ Mactavish or Jackson; Soap is your SAS character and Jackson is who you play as with the US Marines. The single-player is, as I have already said very cinematic, but it is also very short clocking in at about 7 hours. Now this isn’t one of the Half-Life episodes where you expect that, but a full single-player game. But this is the gaming world we currently live in, but that is a rant for my own time. So you may only get 7 hours of the straight campaign, which is nicely doubled though with the Arcade mode and Cheats you unlock by completing the game and getting all the ‘intelligence’ items in the game.

The story is actually there, a first I think for a Call of Duty game which used to just throw you into fixed battles and let you go from there, but this have a general plot for you to play inside. Oh did I not mention this time we are playing in the modern day? No, oh well, I’ve told you now! It is pretty decent story I must say, bringing back some characters from the old Call of Duty’s like MacMillan and Price while introducing some new ones to keep it fresh. My one problem with the story is that the developers took a mixed approach, in some ways they were very, very bold in some aspects which I don’t want to ruin for you, while in other aspects they were very reserved, the Marine side of the game takes place in ‘THE MIDDLE EAST’. A minor annoyance I must say that they didn’t even name a country in that part of the campaign, while other areas of the campaign take you through Russia and some other nice ex-Soviet Bloc countries.

The gameplay is good and fast paced. Cover is of great importance; you find cover and move up while avoiding the many grenades you will find thrown at you. It seems at times like the enemy has an infinite grenade supply! The healing system from Call of Duty 2 returns, if you see red blood marks clouding your HUD then you need to jump behind some cover and rest for a few seconds to heal up. The AI is solid if not spectacular, your squad mate will do a decent job, but it is often left up to you to make the forward move to get them to tag along with you and to stop the enemy respawning. There is no quicksave as such, but there are checkpoints scattered around the maps, luckily they are well placed so you don’t have to travel miles to get back to where you want to be. The weapons are all very well balanced and do a good job depending on which ones you use. However you can only have to weapons on you at any one time, by default you have a primary weapon, a handgun, a few special grenades (Flash, Smoke, Stun) and a few normal frag grenades in your inventory. Other times you may have C4 and night-vision in your inventory among other things like airstrikes.

The graphics are very good, it seems a very scaleable game and looks good even when playing at the lower end of the scale, though obviously a better rig means better graphics at better framerates. That is unless you have an Xbox360 which I think have heard looks just as good as on the PC, though as I don’t have a 360 I cannot provide a fair judgement. The effects are very nice, rain is top notch, the weapons are all well modelled and detailed, and the character models are excellent. The motion-capture has been used extremely well and characters sprinting look as you would expect someone loaded down with equipment to be.

The multiplayer is yet again, top notch! I thought TF2 was good, but this in my mind takes the biscuit (though I hate the server browser!) with some great customization all around, be it on the server side or on your character. There are plenty of game types to sink your teeth into, Death Match, Team Death Match, Search and Destroy, Domination (control point exercise), Headquarters and Sabotage. These game modes can be combined with some other options like ‘Hardcore’ mode where the HUD is removed and plays realistically and other game modes which provide you with random pickups to provide you with a hint of Quake.

Infinity Ward have also employed a very good ranking system in which all servers will report the stats unlike Battlefield 2 which required servers to be set-up to be ranked. As it is you progress up the ranks which require various experience points which you gain via kills, assists, completing challenges (such as getting x amount of grenade kills) and using special equipment. The special equipment comes after getting a nice little kill streak and you can get a UAV, an Air Strike and a Attack Helicopter to come swooping over the battle bringing death and destruction. At different ranks you can unlock new weapons, bits of kit like silencers for them and ‘perks’ which allow some great customisation of your character. There is currently a bug that sticks out, if you are playing the game with Steam Friends on then you will be kicked by Punkbuster, so turn off Steam Friends and use Xfire instead until this gets resolved.

Overall this is an amazing game, really enjoyable almost all the time, brilliant in sections and with an amazing multiplayer. However the campaign is a bit short and there are a few too many tedious moments filling the gaps between the epic ones. But still, get this game!

Vital Info

Cost - £30 PC, £40 360 and PS3 ( Steam price for this is extortionate I must admit.

Requirements – P4 2.4Ghz, AMD equivalent, 512MB RAM, 8GB Hard Drive Space, GeForce 6600 or ATi 9800Pro or better, internet for multiplayer

Pro’s – Great graphics and multiplayer, innovative ranking system, amazing moment in singleplayer

Con’s – Too short!

Overall – 10/10