Thursday, 29 January 2009

Explanations

I should probably point out that the lack of posts here on TWP at the moment is due to continuing work on the new site, which is nearly finished. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Happy Blogday


Throw your minds back exactly a year ago. Picture two adolescents; minds full of gaming goodness, bursting forth but with nowhere to go. So, words were had, keys were pressed and mice were clicked and Think With Portals was born.

Sure we have advanced from then; our style has changed, our blog has been updated and more importantly, new team members have joined, but at it's core Think With Portals stayed the same, and so it will stay forever.

Well...except the name. You see we've been hard at work on the new site (Octopus more so than the rest of us) and we're just about ready to unleash it upon our lovely dedicated audience. Just about.

So in celebration for our 1st ever birthday, I would like to give you a gift. The gift of our new name.

Keybrood.

I'll let that sink in.

We'll be coming at you full on later this week, so, and I hate this saying, watch this space.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Penny Arcade Adventures Episode One Trophies


This awesome Penny Arcade game finally launched on the European PSN Store last Thursday, and you can grab it now for £7.99.

Bronze Trophies
  • Stray Cat - Earn a support character.
  • All Together Now - Do a Team-Up attack involving all three party members.
  • Nine Lives - Kill an enemy using the feline support character Thomas Kemper.
  • Pack Rat - Find and collect all of the hidden collectibles scattered around the game.
  • Pacifist - Win one battle using only counterattacks.
  • Fight 'Em With Items - Use every combat item at least once in the game.
  • Level Awesome - Get all party members to Level 15.
Silver Trophies
  • A Winner Is You - Successfully complete the first episode.
  • Steel Devils - Find and destroy all the robots in the game.
  • Silent, But Deadly - Beat the final Boss without healing.
  • Clean Sweep - Kill all enemies in Episode 1.
Gold Trophies
  • Immortal - Play and win the game without allowing a character to die during combat.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Weekend Roundup XV

So, to the Roundup! It's been a bit of a slower week games-wise this one, including on the blog (hey, we've already posted more this month than any other, and we've has exams, so chill!). There is something I want to talk about in this week's little editorial, so for those of you wanting more game news, feast your eyes on this little lot, then read the exciting stuff further down: Kid's Archery, Wireless PC-PS3 link, Voice Actors, YouTube Street Fighter, PSP down to £110, Dylan Jobe's Presentation, Obama's Phone, White House Technology like 'Atari', Jolicloud Netbook OS, LA Noire Hirings, Flight Simulator Dropped, All New Search, No More BD-Java. Right, on to the interesting stuff.

There is a good reason for the decreased number of posts this week: we've been hard at work on a whole new site! That's right, TWP is going all grown-up! We've been with Blogger since we started here now, nearly a whole year ago, when myself and Aquatic set up A Pail of Beavers (no, we don't know why the blog had a different URL and actual name) and first assumed our watery aliases. Then I shifted around a few bits on the site, we added two new contributors in Armadillo and Fryingpan, and assumed the more sensible name of ThinkWithPortals. Now, we're preparing for another, more solid metamorphasis.

As we grow in size and popularity (hint: we have been, by quite a bit) and get more involved with the gaming industry, we feel that a more original name and more expandable blog is in order. Blogger has been good to us, but it has its limits, and we plan to move to the highly-customizable WordPress platform for the new site. A brand new (and un-green =O) design will also be arriving, and we're making it much easier to get to what you want on the blog.

Don't think that the new site is just an excuse for us to sit back and go "we're done". Oh no, we've got new features on the way too. When the new site goes live, Store Detectives will return (after some television-related technical hitches), and these here Roundups will continue, but will be accompanied by a regularish comic (see Aquatic's singular previous doodle here) and an shiny new podcast! On the texual side of things, there'll be a new feature about our multiplayer antics of the week, as well as a weekly update on goings on in PlayStation Home. And that's not all! We plan to create more of a community too, although we're keeping those plans under our very pretty hats for the time being.

Dont worry that we're gonna be keeping quiet here until the launch though, we've got plenty of content planned for this week, including a little competition between the team that Volcanic just thought up. And for those of you worried we're veering too far away from our more analytical roots towards a purely news site, you needn't fear - more crazy jumping to conclusions coming up soon.

We'll be back soon with more information on the new site, but til then: hold tight.

Fluorescent Octopus

PS: Looking for what we've been playing? You want the post just below.

What Are We Playing

Little separation this week only, there's lots to talk about in the Roundup, so what we've been playing has got its own little post.

Earlier this week, I discovered the Red Alert 2 files on my computer. Soon enough, myself, Aquatic and Volcanic had started a series of viscious competitive matches which resulted in tears, mashed keyboards, and more than a couple of explecitives. You can see more from Armadillo's warped perspective here. And before you think I'm just really shit, I play the long game in RTSs - something Armadillo FAILS AT COMPLETELY THE RUSHING BASTARD. /rant. Elsewhere, I've been playing Penny Arcade Adventures, which Aquatic has completed already, and he overtook me in the trophy stakes. But we don't talk about that, okay?. Wow, I'm a bit hormonal today.

Volanic managed to convince Fryingpan to buy old game Hearts of Iron 2 (one of Armadillo's favourites), which Fryingpan is finding suitably hard. Easier perhaps was the Farmer's win at the "World Cup" in Fifa 09 using New Zealand. Oh and I looked up Football Manager; amongst this year's new features (yes, this is 2009), it lists "a 3D match engine, support for female managers and widescreen compatibility". Wow, way ahead of its time.

Stay tuned for the Roundup, awesome news ahead!

FO.

Sly Cooper 4


So myself, this guy and the 3 other people that bought all three Sly Cooper games should be excited [very excited]. Yes I'm talking about Sly 4, rumored to set in Afghanistan and featuring Sly battling wave after wave of Nazi Zombie Taliban [A man can dream can't he?] is planned for the PS3 and PSP. Sucker punch are planning to release the game simultaneously- so we can expect inter connectivity between the formats.

Sucker punch have stated that: "The graphics have been majorly overhauled and the gameplay will be more varied and focused this time around. We're aiming for a fully interactive 3-d world, with no loads and seamless interaction between settings and characters."

More updates when they become available.

Volcy

Birthday!

Yes tomorrow it is the birthday of the Farmer himself, that's all really... just thought you might like to know. He's not doing anything exciting by the way- just Football manager 09.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Red Alert 2 Fest


So, another week and another gaming competition without Fryingpan who seems to refuse to play with us. First of all I'd just like to mention than Octopus hit me really hard today...haha [literally- he punched my arm].

Anyway, so in celebration of Red Alert 3 coming out on PS3 [That's our excuse anyway], we [AW, FO and VA anyway] have been playing Red Alert 2 together via a LAN. Had a match with Octopus, [which lasted all of 5 minutes] after I Conscript rushed his base and trashed his Construction yard. Fun match, quick warm up.

So onto the bigger match of the night, myself vs FO vs AW. Now of course that's not the way it worked out. Reasonably sensible start off but then soon developed in Octopus sending some Kirovs into Aquatics base, causing damage but more importantly leaving my Kirovs open to bomb his CY. Spurred on by my success [Premature], I mocked Aquatic with a quick [and soon regretted] 'hahahaha'. Not taking any of my shit he then sent his Black Eagle bombers in my general direction and obliterated my CY...sad sad stuff.

I noticed that Octopus had been left out of this destruction, [and being a fair old chap] I levelled the playing field. Although when I say levelled the playing field I mean I Kiroved Octopus's entire base and put him out of the game. If you haven't guessed by now, we like Kirovs.

Leaving myself and AW in the game we had a brief 4 minutes of Cold war, in which a tit-for-tat exchange occurred, using the Cloning vats I spammed Flak troopers and negated his Air superiority, then moved in for the kill with [you guessed it] the Kirovs and Conscripts.

Good game lads.

Any strategies for RA2? Comment and discuss.

Volcy

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Signed, Sealed And Dated


So it falls upon me to divulge a bunch of new dates for multiple games, packs, and so on. Thankfully this was a great week for finding out some high profile release dates, as well as some that people have been itching to get their hands on. But we might as well as start off with the release we've got the most deets on; Tomb Raider: Underworld for the PS2.

Europe

UK, Italy, BeNeLux - 23rd January
Scandinavia - 26th January
France, Germany, Spain - 30th January

US

Everywhere - Early March (we'll update you guys when we know more.)

But that's not where all this Tomb Raidery goodness stops, oh no, we've got something more. You know the two new chapters that's coming up for the Xbox 360 as DLC, Beneath the Ashes and Lara's Shadow? Well, here's a sneak preview of what they're working on, deduce from it what you will!


The release date for the first chapter, Beneath the Ashes is February 10th, and alongside it comes six new outfits and 125 points worth of achievements. The next chapter, Lara's Shadow, will come a month later on March 10th. Warning: both will bring new awesome places to raid, (possibly tombs.)

Now as you may have known, other dates have cropped up over the Internet, but here's the ones that we'll be keeping our eye on (coz they're for Europe!).

Flower (PSN) - February 12th 2009
[Edit (Octopus)] Nobi Nobi Boy - February 19th 2009
Killzone 2 (PS3) - February 27th 2009
Red Alert (PS3) - March 2009
Fat Princess (PSN) - March 2009
I Am Alive (PS3) - April 2009

Jeez. I'm going to love the next two months.

-AW

Infamous vs Prototype

Last Sunday, I updated the playlist and wishlist that you can find in the sidebar when I wrote up the Weekend Review (yes the move to Sunday is permanent). This is quite a normal thing to do, but this time it caused a bit of a dispute between myself and Aquatic. The specific cause of the dispute? I had put Prototype in my wishlist...and not Infamous.

I admit that normally (as part-time fanboy) I choose Sony games over competitors, and hey, right now, Sony needs the money. And I was really hyped for inFamous from the very moment they announced it at E3 last year (or was it the one before?). But then, come CES this year, they released some new gameplay footage. Ah.






And that's where I started to worry. Because rather than a game where you get to use electricity in lots of fun, exciting ways, it was looking like inFamous was in fact just a third-person shooter with your hands as guns and electricity as bullets. Prototype on the other hand had gone underground for quite some time, just surviving the whole Activision-Blizzard-let's-cancel-or-drop-shitloads-of-games fiasco. And although the game was intriguing before; post-hibernation the game is looking awesome.




See! Powers abound - rather than a shooter, Prototype is the platforming-action-adventure game I was hoping inFamous would be. I guess we'll see whether I was right to be concerned when the games are released. Prototype should be out this summer, with inFamous following in autumn.

Patience

Well, it seems that the LittleBigPlanet downloadable content that was supposed to be starting again tomorrow has been delayed. Whilst the new content wont now appear until next week, we have been told what to expect in the coming weeks.
On Monday 26th, there'll be free male and female Chinese New Year costumes available (picture above) on the Store. These costumes will only be available for 10 days so grab them whilst you can. In next week's Thursday update, there'll be a free Groundhog Day costume (which will be around for a week) and two God of War-themed downloads - a pack containing a bunch of stickers and the Minotaur and Medusa costumes, and seperately the Kratos costume that was previously available with pre-orders.
The following week (the 5th of February) a special Valentine's Day will go up (for 2 weeks) and will be followed the week after (the 12th) by the Ape Escape and Toro the Cat costumes that were previously only available in Japan. On the 19th, a WipEout-styled pack of costumes and stickers will be up for grabs. Oh and judging by the tease on the PlayStation Blog last week, our hunch may have been right, and some Killzone content will be around at the end of February too.
Can you wait a week?
(Source: EU Forums - more pictures there, via TheSixthAxis)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Internetlol

Just saw this little beauty in the comments on the PlayStation Blog post for PSP Firmware 5.03

"Eric just wanted to let you know that we as psp/ps3 owners are still highly hoping for IN-GAME MUSIC...you know how cool it is to play Stardust HD or Wipeout listening to coldplay or jack johnson..."

Written Journalism Still Exists

Octopus with another of our brief summaries of the latest issue of the UK Official PlayStation Magazine, coming round every four weeks like a mildly interesting menstrual cycle.

The cover story this month is the review of Killzone 2, which recieved a wonderful 9. Say what you want about the honesty of an official platform magazine reviewing a key exclusive, but their review hyped me up possibly more that I already was - now I'm foaming even more at the mouth! Features in this issue of the mag include a rumour-mongering look at this year's secret games including Assassin's Creed 2, COD: MW2 and the new Team Ico game; a couple of new details on Uncharted 2 (Elena is back); an interview with Kaz Hirai; a peek at this year's upcoming awesome games; and the top ten games of 2008 according to a reader poll. The list is as follows: Dead Space, Bioshock, Resistance 2, Mirror's Edge, Burnout Paradise, COD: WaW, Fallout 3, GTAIV, LBP and good old MGS4 coming top.

The rumour machine (obviously the best feature) reads as follows: EA is to hold an auction that will be open to every player in the NFL for the chance to be Madden 2010's cover star (thought there was a supposed curse on that?); developers are already working on games for PSP2, which is tentatively scheduled for release in 2010 (heard this one elsewhere too, but why are MotorStorm and LBP not then PSP2 launch games?); Tetsuya Mizuguchi is looking to make a sequel to Rez, the rights for which are currently owned by Sega (yes please); Square Enix will unveil a 'different from Final Fantasy' MMO at E3 (wahey?); a PSP version of brilliant off-road racer Motorstorm is in the works and may be released before the end of 2009 (yep); despite the fact that FEAR 2 isn't even out yet, Monolith is already working on FEAR 3 (unsurprising, bad economy is leading developers and publishers into focusing more on sequels and established franchises); and Indiana Jones and Batman weren't the last film favourites to be tuned into blocks - Lego Harry Potter is on the way (I was pretty sure they denied this?).

Previews are of new racer Fuel (awesome), FEAR 2: Project Origin (not scary), Gostbusters (disappointing), and Supercar Challenge (super), and even Hydrophobia makes a tiny appearance, stuck to a March release date. Besides Killzone 2, reviews include Skate 2 (8), Patapon 2 (8), Savage Moon (7), LOTR Conquest (5), NPPL Champtionship Paintball 2009 (only 4), Madagascar 2 (3), Bolt (6), Way of the Samurai (6), History Civil War: Secret Missions (3), Age of Booty (6) and Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm (5). There are also online reviews of PES09 (5), FIFA09 (9) and COD: WaW (8). Oh and next issue is going to have an exclusive Resi 5 review.

PlayStation Official Magazine UK Issue 28 (February 2009) should on shop shelves today, and already in subscribers hands, and has a menacing looking Helghast soldier on the front.

Monday, 19 January 2009

So I Lost My Job....

Well not quite, although it has been a depressing week. I don't seem to be having any luck. Financially I'm bankrupt, morally too, most likely, keeping those I like from the things they want to do and excluding those who, perhaps, deserve a second chance. I also seem to have the inability to pick those good enough to do good for me and am having a poor influence on the younger generation while neglecting the older generations experience. And yet...

I am the Special One.

So Football Manager 09 has taken me as another casualty like so many before. 25 hours in the past week has been spent endlessly scouring obscure countries international squads looking for a gem of a player who might just reverse my fortunes.

It is a game with which one can become very..... angry with. But it is a love hate relationship, for every hour you put in, three hours later you see the benefits. This may seem backwards but it gives that 'one more game....' mentality.

And don't get me started on network games....

The Special One.
I will not play Schevchenko.

Mini Ninjas

You remember the Hitman games, right? 'Murder simulators' and all that? Well guess what the next game from the people behind it is. No ideas? "Mini Ninjas". Seriously!

I kid you not, after the fantastic Hitman: Blood Money and dismal Kane and Lynch, developers IO are taking a break from making games that teach you to slaughter people, and are instead making a game for kids. Mini Ninjas is set around the story of Hiro and Futo, who are tasked with saving the world when all the other ninjas are captured whilst investigating an evil animal army created by the Evil Samurai Warlord (not joking). Talk about last resort.
But believe it or not, there are hints of IOs other series, just like you could choose how to approach targets in Hitman; in Mini Ninjas, you can choose how to approach different puzzles. So should you encounter enemies, you could possess an animal to sneak past using Hiro, make them dance to distract them using Tsusumi's flute, or just fight them with Futo. All in all, there are six playable characters to choose from on the fly depending on situation, but there is a particular emphasis in the game on stealth, and a number of the stages require a good amount of creeping around.
And whilst the premise of the game is intriguing, the winning aspect is the art style. Bearing in mind the game is designed for kids, it features a sort of stumpy cartoony style (stumpy as in they're all quite short). On top of beautiful bright colours (like an anti-Killzone) and the shiny slices that show up on hitting enemies - obviously there is no blood - are very reminiscent of the sort of kiddie-anime you find on CITV.
Mini Ninjas looks fantastically promising, even for big kids, and the open approach to every situation is liberating. The game should be out by the end of the year.

Gonna Need More Fuel


14,000 square kilometres.

That is how big the map in Asobo Studios and Codemasters' new racer, Fuel, is. Regardless of your choice of vehicle in the game (there's 70 including bikes, trucks, quads, muscle cars, buggies and dragsters) it will take you hours to cross the whole map, which is open from the start. Worried that the scale of the game means you'll be travelling for miles through an ugly, bland landscape wishing the developers had managed to find time to build some actual gameplay? Well don't be. In fact, the basis for the game world is generated by an advanced engine the team has been working on since 2002. The engine takes satellite photography from a number of sources, calculates altitude and gradient and then renders it in 3D before adding in relevant textures, such as trees, grass or even snow. Astoundingly, the engine then adds in a complex network of roads along sensible routes, before generating hundreds of race events based on these.

Then the developers take this computer-generated world and gets to work. They refine every single aspect of the game, from clearing thin avenues of trees for alternate routes, cutting down the events to the best (about 200 challenges and 70 career events will make it to the final game), and then perfecting each of these one by one. The end result is a massive, but streamlined, map, and plenty more time for the developers to spend working on the rest of the game.

Which of course is what they have done. MotorStorm is the clear comparison here, but there are also elements of Burnout Paradise in the mix. Whilst the game takes MotorStorm's lush greenery and open orange deserts, and you can abandon the pre-laid roads and cut across the scenery, Burnout's sense of speed and flattering handling (managing to make play fun, whilst still leaving room for personal improvement) are also present. The game's career strand is split between time trials, circuit and checkpoint races and 'raids', where competitors charge across the map to a far away point however they want. The 200 challenge events are made up of elimination races, massive raids, agressive fighting races (think Burnout's Road Rage) and helicopter chases. Vista Points are dotted around the map and offer spectacular views, as are car wrecks from which you can steal rare add-ons for your garage. There's even an incredible race designer, in which you can design your own events which span the entire map before uploading the route for others to play.

The massive online map also translates to online play. Whilst online events are plenty, there is also a nifty free roam mode, in which you can drive around doing whatever takes your fancy with up to 15 other racers online. One of Fuel's nifty unique features is that should you wander too far from the rest of your online lobby, you will be automatically switched to another group in your current rough location, ensuring you've always got people to be playing with.


The sheer scale and amount of work that has evidently gone into Fuel makes it one of my most anticipated games of this year, and if the team can replicate Burnout Paradise's fantastic sense of fun and dedicated online community, it will surely have a winner on its hands, and one that will take a hell of a lot to beat. Fuel should be out by the end of the year.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Weekend Roundup XIV

(c) 2009 Google Image Search

Hola there internets, Octopus here with yet another roundup of the weekend variety. It's been an interesting week on the blog, mostly for reasons we can't talk about yet, but it hasn't been too bad a week on the rest of the internets either.

Oooh, which story to pick to babble about. Hmmm....I'm gonna go with this one from Joystiq on the topic of the PlayStation Phone, which is apparently now not happening. Whilst the Sony Ericcson rep they spoke to told them that current phone specs would not be suffucient to do the PlayStation brand justice, it appears that there is a different, more concerning, issue behind this. Joystiq (and a number of other sites) are reporting that Sony Electronics wont lend the PS brand name to a phone made by Sony Ericcson, and in fact a PlayStation Phone will only happen when Sony Electronics makes a handset themselves. This seems to suggest that Electronics is at least considering making their own phones, which would lead to two divisions in one company making competing mobiles. What gives? However, if such divisions do exsist in the company, it does explains the current lack of a PlayStation Music Store (of which one would think Sony Records would be a launch supporter), and may also explain why the Sony Pictures-backed Movie Store has yet to find it's way outside America. Anyway, my advice: sort it out Sony, you need to bring everything together to make the PS3 the victor at the moment, and right now these internal catfights are leading to wasted resources.

Elsewhere in the gaming internets this week: Harmonix apparently is interested in making a PS3 version of their awesome old game 'Amplitude', which was one of the main inspirations behind Audiosurf; Free Radical is still just about alive in a broken state, and really needs to find a publisher for TimeSplitters 4; a stronger focus on the PC version of new kid-friendly Sony MMO Free Realms has led to a delay for the PS3 version; Final Fantasy XIII wont make it's way outside Japan until at least April next year; Patrick Keplek talked about the intriguing Silent Hill iPhone controls; Media Molecule teased some new LBP content; and PixelJunk Eden is getting a new free patch and an Encore pack of DLC.

Another thing I wanted to mention this week is Windows 7. I've been running it full time for just over a week now, and I will be talking about the new features and other enhancements later next week, and hope to get a video tour online. For now though, I will say that after spending some expended time with the system, it doesn't seem anywhere near as essential an upgrade as XP or Vista were from their predeccessors. There are some situations where 7 really shines (on portable devices, computers with lower specs, and those with SSDs) but there isn't enough to recommend it to anyone else as a must-buy. As I say, more in the week. For those interested, the first supposed screenshots of an alpha build of Office 14 have leaked onto the web too.


In terms of what we've been playing, things have been pretty Crash Commando-centric. I actually managed to complete Mirror's Edge, and in a prefect example of Trophies suggesting a different way of playing than I normally would, I managed to do so without ever firing a weapon (that's another silver in the bag). And you know what, I'm damn proud of that. But most of my gaming time this week has been devoted to playing shitloads of Crash Commando. The game is so fantastic, and although I don't want to say too much, as Armadillo will likely be writing a review up this week, but it has occupied myself, Armadillo and Aquatic pretty much all week, and that is praise enough. Oh and Fryingpan defied us all. Guess what amazing action-packed game he's been playing this week? Football-frigging-Manager. I also hear stories that he now refers to himself as the 'Special One' and has developed a love of big long coats. He needs to get out/on Crash Commando more.

Finally, for those looking for some 'bizarre' this week, click here for a strange story on MSN News about a girl selling her virginity to pay her college tuition fees.

Good luck Obama!

Fluorescent Octopus

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Damn


So my TV died.

Bummer.

AionGuard

Okay, so I'm actually pretty sure that the newly revealed AionGuard from Avalanche Studios (creators of the Just Cause series) will look nothing like their other works. But when they haven't even released a logo for the game yet, appropriate artwork is scarce. AionGuard sounds like a radical departure from the aforementioned series, abandoning the sunny island climes and showy skydiving, and opting instead for an fantasy world full of witches and dragons.

Avalanche has been working on the title for two years now, and is nearly ready to unveil the new game, which involves epic battles with giant monsters, massive armies, and pilotable dragons (please no motion sensing), and it even claims that AionGuard will feature action equal to some of the "finest set pieces gaming has to offer". Play follows the actual AionGuard, who have merged their bodies with awesome mechanical suits, which also grant them magical powers. They are out to recapture their world from the evil Nazurbaal, who are harvesting the world of its mystical energy source. The open-world gameplay requires you to lead the AionGuard to recapture various regions by crippling supply lines, or destroying power nodes before heading for the region's stronghold. You'll also often have to work with local tribes and revolutionary leaders to take down the base.

Avalanche will be talking more about AionGuard soon, but for more information right now, pick up the latest issue of Edge magazine (out now), which has a passive feature on the game.

TWP's Top 5 Crash Commando Moments


Cracking straight into it, I love Crash Commando [its really more of an addiction], so here are my Top 5 moments...

5. Noticing a kill, then remembering you mined the whole damn level.
[Happened mainly on the Cave]

4. Spawning then dieing instantaneously.
[Volcano is the culprit here...Ironic much?]

3. Switching server after getting pwned by a hardcore player.
[Depressing]

2. Running over your teammates with the rail buggy.
[Funny, if a little embarrassing and bad for your score]

1. Mid-air grenade launcher/ grenade kill.
[Skillful and satisfying, cue: Boo-ya]

Bioshock's Final Destination

I felt dirty making this image.

Last October, the fantastic first-person-shooter Bioshock finally worked its way to the PlayStation 3, completing the trifecta of gaming platforms: PS3, 360 and PC. "But wait!" I hear you cry. "What about Mac?" "Sorry, did you say Mac was a gaming platform?" I cry back. A muffled sound almost like a reluctant sigh of acceptance can be heard from your general direction. I really don't know where I'm going with this imagery.

Back on topic, Bioshock is in fact coming to Mac this year. So if you have a gaming-capable Mac (a Mac Pro or MacBook Pro basically) you will be able to enjoy this wonderful extravaganza of awesomeness sometime towards the end of this year, with the folks at Feral Interactive to thank. So about when Bioshock 2 comes out for the rest of us then. Ouch.

Let's just hope they don't make a mobile version, eh?

Friday, 16 January 2009

CoD: WaW Double XP Weekend MADNESS!!


I'm sure if Armadillo was here he'd be raving all about it (in the subtle way he does rave), but he's probably off getting a slice of the action now.

Regardless! The lovely chaps and chapettes at Call of Duty world have decided to give you guys all some more fun and double the XP this weekend! And for those who haven't yet finished the game, zombie nazi mode is unlocked.

Go shoot some fascist undead!

-AW
it's so hard to find pictures of soldiers going aaarrrgghhhh, y'know

I Am Alive

It was announced at E3 2008, but it has been silent since then. Finally, we've got details on Ubisoft's upcoming action-earthquake-adventure, I Am Alive. Or should I say survival horror? Because although the game doesn't feature zombies or monsters, the developers say it has people struggling to survive and also "shows how society changes in a natural disaster". Either way, the game sees you playing as Adam Collins, who is trying to survive following an earthquake in Chicago.

Whilst there is still a veil of secrecy surrounding the project, which is unlikely to lift anytime soon, we do know that the game will be played from the first-person perspective, to enchance the players involvement in the disaster and its effects. And although natural and unnatural disasters have been protrayed quite recently in films such as Cloverfield and I Am Legend, and TV shows such as Jericho, the game's senior producer (Jade Raymond has nothing to do with the game, as has been rumoured) Alexis Goddard says that on top of turning daily life on its head, the team is also "changing the very social values and rules that both everyday life and videogames rely on." Now that's one hell of a line to live up to.

Luckily, it appears the game may meet that promise. The team denies I Am Alive is a first-person shooter, and in fact the gameplay itself should dissuade you from this - not least because ammo and health packs are not just lying around unrealistically. “Confrontation is a way of dealing with violent groups, but will rarely be rewarded,”Goddard says. "We encourage the players to use tactics, diversion, and discretion. You've found a police shotgun, which is out of bullets - rightfully so, since Chicago has long been a proponent of a ban on guns. How about some intimidation? After all, who knows the gun is empty but you? Just point it at looters and they'll remain at a distance as you progress toward your objective. However, you can only aim it at one person, so you have to watch for being flanked."

It appears all is not as it seems in the storyline too - whilst it first appears to be a straight up earthquake, there is a pretty much complete absence of any kind of government assistance, which lends itself to more of a conspiracy. Luckily Adam will not be alone in his quest to stay alive in the few days the game spans. He will have to venture out into Chicago to gather supplies and the like, and will meet other characters along the way, some friendly, some not-so-nice. Already unveiled are Riley, Virgil and Peter, who are a young female doctor "intent on saving lives", an African-American former soldier, and a disabled ex-fireman who has set up a refugee camp respectively. Talk about covering all your bases. Jokes aside, each of them will offer advice, help and objectives, and you will end up relying on them to survive. On top of surviving and trying to attract some sort of government attention, Adam has also decided to go find his ex-girlfriend amongst the chaos (Cloverfield much?), which could prove incredibly tricky when even going out to find some water often results in a rabid mob stealing it from you. The team behind the game also suggest that Adam and Alice's relationship may even play out in flashbacks until the game's finale.

When the team revealed inspiration has come from I Am Legend, Lost, Armageddon, Titanic and Cloverfield amongst others, it set itself lofty goals. Luckily, the clever interaction options and secretive story look set to make I Am Alive a hit. The game is currently set for a spring/summer release.

TWP Awards 08: The Game That Has Contributed Most To The Advancement Of Human Integrity And The Development Of Prosperity Within The Human Race.

Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2009
Shooting Lions in the face since 1998

Yes the winner is perhaps the one of the most controversial genres of games, hunting endangered species. Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2009 puts players in bone chilling, pressure-packed hunting situations as they seek out savage animals in the world's most dangerous locations.

Helping us to understand all the important factors behind hunting, including wind direction [scent], distance [bullet drop], and which animals go down fastest after been shot in the leg.
If overnight, we were reduced to fighting and hunting for food then those of us who have experienced CDH '09 would surely survive longest, or at least... that's the theory.


Runner-Up:
Mercenaries 2: World In Flames
At least its not set in Afghanistan



Because being paid to kill is fun.

Copyright the rhino photo to gamershell.com

EA's 2009 Schedule


How comes I seem to be talking about EA so much lately? Anyway, here's some details on their current plans for this year and the beginning of next.

Next month, the massive publisher will be announcing the next Need for Speed - proving the rumours of the series' cancellation very wrong. Whilst details remain slim until then, it seems the game will see a return to proper racing for the series, with a reduction in big named stars (makign it cheaper too), after the criticisms directed at Undercover about its unneccessary flamboyance and pretty crappy racing. Expect to see more on the game soon.

We've already mentioned the new Medal of Honor game, but EA has another shooter in the works too. Aimed for a Q4 2009 release is Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (working title) from DICE, the people behind the brilliant Mirror's Edge and all the other Battlefield games - so you know it's going to be good. The game is supposedly to be set in Russia, and features the same cast as the original game.

On top of these and the new sports titles inevievitably out at the end of the year, there's also the Jack Black-infused action game Brutal Legend which they picked up when Activision dropped it last year. That should be out sometime in the summer. EA have also got a PSN title, "3 on 3 NHL Arcade" featuring bobble-headed players in a spin-off from the main hockey games. Oh and the trophy list should be up here on TWP any time now.

Whilst there is still more coming from EA this year, we also know a little bit about next year's lineup too. There's no ETA on the next game from the Dead Space people, EA Redwood Shores, which is based on Dante's Inferno, and goes by the same name. There's also plans for a Dead Space 2, although when that will make it out no-one knows. Also in the planning stage is Mirror's Edge 2, which may well follow a slightly different gameplay style that its predeccessor.

And that's just PS3; remember there are sequels to The Sims and MySims coming to the PC and Nintendo consoles respectively, as well as an expansion to Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 on the way.

3 on 3 NHL Arcade Trophies

This arcade version of the NHL hockey games should be hitting the PSN in the near future.

Bronze Trophies:

  • Let's Play - Play and complete an online game.
  • Team Player - Play and complete a quick ranked game with 3 users on your side.
  • Score Big - Score at least 10 goals in one game.
  • Big Player - Score two goals with a Big Player powerup in one game.
  • Super Speed - Score two goals with a Super Speed powerup in one game.
  • Super Shot - Score two goals with the Super Shot powerup in one game.
  • Ice Man - Score two goals while an opponent is frozen in one game.
  • Double Up - Score two goals using the Double Score powerup in one game.
  • Over and Out - Hit a player over the boards.

Silver Trophies:

  • Brick Wall - Win a game without being scored on.
  • Race to Victory - Win a game to at least 15 goals.
  • Trickster - Score a goal using a trick move.

Gold Trophies:

  • Jack of all trades - Score with 5 different powerups in one game.

Unexclusive: Next-Gen Vice City

Rumours going around this week claim that Rockstar North are currently at work on a new GTA for release this Christmas. So here's me taking that very rumour and running with it.

Rather than the Tokyo setting currently rumoured, I reckon that following the Liberty City - Vice City - San Andreas sequence that has been around since the very beginning of the series, the next game will instead be set in a reimagined Vice City (just as happened with the new Liberty City in GTAIV). I also predict that the game will not be GTAV, but instead a spinoff of IV, as Rockstar only tend to release newly-numbered games with a whole new engine.

And while I'm at it, I think a more sensible release date of Spring 2010 is likely, unless Vice City PS3 is really a reskining of GTAIV, and also to avoid clashes with the Xbox exclusive downloadable content coming for Numero Four.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

I Need To Get Left4Dead

Apparently I'm missing something. Piccyture (NSFW?)

Unexclusive: LBP Killzone 2 Pack

Okay so we have no inside information on this one, but seriously, we've already seen the actual costumes way back - surely they would've been released already if they weren't being held back for either a costume pack, level pack or both to coincide with the game's release this February.

Please be true!

Medal of Honor: Operation Anaconda

Its currently a tentative subtitle, but sometime in the next few weeks, EA will be announcing the next Medal of Honor game. If you think the Need for Speed series was going downhill, the only MoH game to be released in three years was Airborne. And that was terrible. So here's hoping EAs next (to be set in 2002 Afghanistan in more than a nod to the success of CoD: Modern Warfare, which is also getting a sequel this year) is better that that mess of a game. Either way, it should be out towards the end of this year.

What's Next For Kojima?

Recently it has been reported on the internet that Hideo Kojima is working on three new games. So here's a bit more for you. One of these three games is Metal Gear Solid Next (which he is not involved with at quite the same level as MGS4), and another - although currently top secret - is aimed for release at the end of this year. Oh and at least two of the three games are coming to PS3 (I presume MGS Next is one of them). And that's not even including the iPhone Metal Gear Solid Touch coming sometime this year too.

Busy guy!

Happy Happy Starcraft


Just got an e-mail from Amazon.co.uk, regarding our favourite upcoming RTS Starcraft 2, and this is what it read:

"This item will be released on September 26, 2009. Pre-order now!"

The only reason I can imagine this being the slightest bit legitimate is that it's an actual date as opposed to "Q3 2009" or "September 09", but then again they may have pulled a random date out their arse to get people to believe they know, and therefore pre-order.

Purchase at your own expense.

-AW

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Exclusives

Okay so we've teased you a little this week, first with the Red Alert 3 news on Monday and then the Mercs 2 song yesterday, but tomorrow and Friday we have a whole host of exclusive content planned, including what Hitman developer IO is up to now, details on the upcoming Ubisoft game I Am Alive, and even more from EA. So pop back soon!

Would You Kindly?

Yes, it is an inevitable title, but to someone who has not long completed Bioshock for the very first time, who has avoided gameplay footage, story details and spoilers for over a year to fully experience the game, unspoiled, himself when it finally arrived on PS3, it is by far the most relevant.

And it’s not platform loyalty that has stopped me getting the game thus far, more a lack of appropriate playing machine, and Bioshock was in fact one of the couple of games I would’ve bought a 360 for. The truth is though, that the game was easily worth the wait.
Bioshock is an absolutely fantastic game. There is no denying that. Wherever you play it (PS3, 360 or PC), you are getting possibly one of the best gaming experiences ever. From the compulsive storyline, via the spectacular graphics, to the perfect gameplay and tight controls, it is obvious that Bioshock has been a labour of love for its developers. But let’s not waste any more time with vague overviews, time to get on with the actual, y’know, reviewing. One last thing though, this will be as spoiler-free as possible, as there are still a whole lotta people who haven’t played the game (Fryingpan included).

So lets start with the best bit about the game: the story. Bioshock (quite controversially beating Metal Gear Solid 4 and GTAIV) won our Best Story award for last year, and that is for very fair reason. From the moment your plane goes down right at the beginning of the game and the fantastically scary introduction and sorta-tutorial, through to the brilliant (if maybe a tad obvious) conclusion, with tons of twists and turns along the way. All the time, you are guided through the twisted underwater world of Rapture by the slightly-sinister Atlas over a radio you pick up at the start. As you travel through the city, you meet a number of bizarre main characters including the crazy Doctor Steinman, the self-obsessed Sander Cohen, and the original mastermind behind Rapture, Andrew Ryan, along with a whole bunch of 'Splicers': residents of Rapture who are now so drugged up on Plasmids that they've completely lost it. Brilliantly, a lot of these Splicers also have their own little stories to tell, should you be out of sight.

Bioshock is a shooter at heart, that is not even up for debate, but it is the previously mentioned Plasmids that add variety to the game that you can't find in Resistance or Call of Duty. Plasmids are collectible throughout the game and are effective special attacks that operate independently to your main weapons (meaning that should you run out of ammo, or not have time to reload, you could use Plasmids to survive). The basics are Electro Bolt and Incinerate which do exactly as they sound, but some of the later more exotic ones incude Insect Swarm (with hilarious effects), Telekenisis, the incredibly useful Target Dummy that draws attacks away from you, and Hypnotize Big Daddy, which when used in a room full of enemies in conjuction with Enrage (which makes enemies attack each other) creates a pretty impressive spectacle. The ability to mix up gameplay between weapons and Plasmids makes every enemy encounter an oppertunity to try something new, and is a feature that has been lovingly ripped-off ever since it was first shown off (*cough*Legendary*cough*).

Besides the story and perfect gameplay, there is one other quality that really makes Bioshock a unique game, and that is the art style. The game is based on Unreal Engine 3, which is pretty much everywhere nowadays, but the character in Bioshock comes from its setting and graphical design, which is most definitely not the futuristic gun-ho style found in shitloads of other UE3 games. Instead Bioshock is based in the underwater city of Rapture, designed as a place of retreat for intellectual individuals who want to escape the corruption of the world on the surface. The genius lies in the timing though - Rapture was built in the early 30s, leading to a beautiful art deco style that runs throughout the entire game. The musical accompaniment (where it appears) reflects this, with piano flourishes everwhere, and even the beeps and whirrs of the numerous vending machines and Gatherer's Gardens (where you buy and upgrade Plasmids) seem to fit in.

The beauty of Bioshock lies in how perfectly all three of these elements (story, gameplay and art) work together to weave the most intricate game world possibly ever seen. If you've never had the oppertunity to play the game before, here's your chance, because you sure as hell wont want to miss it.

95/100

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Trailertime

No, it's not game-related, but seeing as its our blog and we can put whatever the hell we want here, here's the new Skins Series 3 trailer:



Looks like a normal Sixth Form night out to me...

Free Mercs 2 Song

Hello there readery people, thought you'd like a nice little present tonight in the form of a lovely free MP3 download (with no bastard DRM obviously). The track we've got for you is a slightly more acoustic extended version of the "Oh No You Didn't" song featured on some of the Mercs 2 trailers. I don't know whether it actually appears in the game at all (maybe Portal/Mirror's Edge-style?) because I haven't got too far in the game yet. In fact myself and Aquatic have been trying to play co-op lately, but to no avail. Sort out your servers EA. Enough rambling, here's the tune (right click and Download As or whatever to keep):

Upcoming Releases

A break from our regular intelligent reportage to inform you, as we occassionally do, of some actual news. A whole bunch of release dates for upcoming network and disk PS3 games have found their way on to the wonderful creation known as the internet lately. Vamoose:
  • SOCOM: Confrontation (PSN) - February 5th (the disk and headset bundle should be out on the 6th)
  • Flower (PSN) - February 19th
  • Patapon 2 (PSP) - February 19th (that's for download, the disk should be out on the 20th)
  • Killzone 2 (PS3) - February 27th
  • Resistance Retribution (PSP) - March 12th (again, the download, disk should be the 13th)

Looks like it's gonna be a good spring, and there's still Fat Princess and Ragdoll Kung-Fu to be dated for release.

Right, time to find some money.

Monday, 12 January 2009

No sex please, we’re communists

Now then creating your own search engine may seem like a [rather] strange project for a political organisation, but for the communists of Leningrad [...im a traditionalist] it’s the way to promote red ideals and fight capitalism.

The first search website of its kind is named after the German communist theorist Friedrich Engels. The [wise and rugged] Engels will become an alternative to Google, Yahoo, and of course Russia’s most popular search engine, Yandex, which are ‘infested with consumerism, the sex industry and mindless mass culture’, the would-be creators say.

According to the creators of this glorious new search engine: “Engels search will ban pornography, dating sites and obscenity. Engels will be the site for workers, farmers and intelligentsia,” foresee the enthusiastic visionaries. “Friedrich Engels’ kind face with a cunning wink – the logo of the raising top search website – will come to every country cottage, every mountain village, every nomad’s tent, every prison cell of a freedom fighter!”


So if your searching for an alternative search engine, then give them a couple of months and you could be Engelsing for your favourite blogs (TWP) and social networking sites (Facebook?)!

Keeping It Red


I said we would have some exclusive content for you this week, so why not begin right here on this fine Monday evening with some good news for PS3-owning RTS fans.

Red Alert 3 is coming to PS3.

Yeah, actually for real. It was. Then it wasnt. Then it was again. And now here's us with some nice shiny deets. Back on re-announcement, EA pledged full HD support on our favourite home console, and it looks like that hasn't changed, however it also mentioned doing something cool with the extra space Blu-Ray provides. Well now our awesome source over at EA has also decided to let us in on some more details about what exactly these cool things are.

Firstly however, the bad news. Whilst the team remains hopeful that the game might make it out before then, the projected release date for Red Alert 3 on PS3 is sometime in October 2009, nearly a whole year after the original release. But fear not, it will surely be worth the wait. On top of some minor control changes from the 360 version, and the previously mentioned 1080p resolution, the PS3 version should also feature the content from the currently PC exclusive Uprising expansion pack. The game will also feature the extra maps from the special edition and there's the possibility that the Blu-Ray disk will be filled with all the behind-the-scenes stuff from the bonus DVD that came with that release, although that hasn't been decided. But I've left the best until last by far - the team also plan to include mouse and keyboard support. YES!

So, providing EA doesn't just cancel it again, we should be seeing the best version of Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 on the PlayStation 3 this autumn. Kickass.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Through The Looking Glass (A Mirrors Edge Review)


I'd be the first one to admit that I am too critical when it comes to words. I don't mean I hate words, I mean that when it comes to writing about anything at all, all the compliments and nice thoughts I had penned for it just evaporate in a mist of 'this-could've-been-better'ness. Which upsets me, because I know that I just won't be able to give the right kind of praise for Mirror's Edge that I know it deserves.

Now just let me compose myself since I just realised I said something so nice about an EA product. What am I turning into.

I will begin where most begin, and that being the synopsis of the game. You are Faith, a runner, delivering top secret messages and files to those who hire you, avoiding the ever watchful eye of the government who has opted to mould the world into a utopia at the sake of it's citizens' freedom. While a utopian setting doesn't sound nearly as interesting to most of you as perhaps Fallout 3's grey land of grey, it works out in the end gameplay-wise (and you hard-of-sight people who can't differentiate between a slate-grey rock and a charcoal grey house also benefit.)

As for graphics, it's pretty much spotless. And I don't mean just the cleanliness of it; the designs of buildings and architecture in general is flawless, and the use of stark, powerful primary colours don't seem out of place or forced, no, in fact they add more believability to it (there are even paint cans lying next to big red objects, how awesome is that?). If there was one game this year that clearly had love and care put into it's design, it's Mirrors Edge.

Gameplay is pretty much virtual parkour, but instead of looking cool-doing-gnarly-tricks as an incentive, keeping your life is the reason you roll, slide, jump, climb, and fall. There's never been a game using a first-person view in this way, so it's hard to compare it to another. But honestly? It really is like being in the eyes of someone who's running over buildings, and kicking the asses of lotsa Blues. It can be exhilarating; keeping just ahead of the Runner-hunters, sliding at break neck speeds down the side of a building, it really gets the adrenaline going, but on the same side of a different coin, it can be scary as well; free falling hundreds of metres to your dark and crunchy death, failing that jump and not knowing whether you'll make the next ledge, and even running headlong into a group of hostiles can get the ol' ticker pumping. But hey, if that's what EA/DICE was going for, bravo to them.

You're going to hate me, but a couple of niggles have popped into my head already. I will say them now before angry mobs with fire knock down my door. First off, AI. It's not a big niggle (Can you get big niggles? Biggles?) seeing as you don't spend a lot of time interacting with them, just stealing their guns or punching their lights out, but they're clearly not the brightest bunch.

Let's say you're in a firefight. You're almost dead, so you retreat behind a nearby pillar and regain your womanly composure. Not once does the enemy think to actually walk to other side of the pillar, and shoot at you from there. No, these are gentlemanly enemies, and are quite content with waiting for you before you continue your little feud.

Fear my artistic talent.

Secondly, but most vitally, there's the slightly off physics. It works in favour of gameplay, sure, but that doesn't mean it's right. There's the landing on things from extreme heights and surviving (albeit these things are always red things, which leads me to believe that red things are made of some otherworldly spongy matter that actually defies our puny laws of physics) there's also the complete ignoring of friction (the amount of times I've slid down a pole or ladder must've burnt clean through my gloves and those fantastically manicured hands) and finally, where's the gravity? Even a gifted athlete could not run along walls like that, or wall-jump twice, or even make those insane jumps that she does.


That's what athlete's call a steroid jump.

But again, minor niggles. These should hardly affect your choice when you buy the game. Instead you should ask yourself; "Do I have perfect eyesight? Would I be permanently damage them with insanely bright colours?" "Do I get motion sickness when I run in real life?*" and most importantly "Do I care about a story?". If you answered 'No' to all the above, by golly this game is for YOU.

89/100

-AW

*For those people out there who actually do get motion sickness...seriously? Do you? Jeez.

Weekend Roundup XIII

Well what a week it has been. Between Macworld, the Consumer Electronics Show, and the normal gaming news, my RSS reader has been bursting at the seams.

Now first and foremost, the most exciting thing this week was the public beta release of Windows 7. Whilst I shall likely be talking more about the beta this week, there are a few things I do want to say here. The first thing that came to my attention was the sheer speed. Both the install (which took altogether about 12 minutes) and the actual running of the system are fantastically fast. Microsoft has concentrated on performance in this release, particularly on laptops, netbooks and lower-specification computers, and the internet says 7 not only runs faster than Vista, but also XP on netbooks in particular. I hope to grab myself a Dell Mini 9 at some point in the first half of this year, so I shall give my impressions then. The second best thing is the new ‘Libraries’ feature. Originally planned to be in Vista a long way back, it means that rather than physical destinations on the disk such as My Documents or My Music, all the relevant files from anywhere on your PC are sorted into virtual folders for documents, music, video and pictures. I’m hoping to have a little video tour of the new features in 7 up in the week, but to hold you over, here’s a lovely shiny screenshot:

image

Anyway, to gaming stuffs. Surprisingly, one of the coolest things this week came from a PSP game – the upcoming Resistance Retribution. I’m a big fan of the original PS3 game, and Retribution stays a lot closer to that styling and gameplay than to Resistance 2’s over-the-top-ness. ThreeSpeech grabbed some new screenshots from the ‘infected’ mode of the game (enabled by connecting the game to R2, enabling regenerating health, new weapons and more), and the PlayStation.Blog also have new details and the following trailer:


The other new content I wanted to talk about was the latest additions to the Burnout Paradise DLC offerings. In Springtime, Criterion will be adding some paid downloadable content to the game in the shape of four ‘legendary cars’: the Back to the Future-inspired 88 Special, the Ghostbusters-inspired Manhattan Spirit, the Nightrider-inspired Carson Nighthawk, and the Calvary Bootlegger, which is based on the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard. More details here.

Elsewhere on the internet this week:

Anyway, we’ve all managed to get some gaming in as well this week. Myself and Aquatic had great fun running through the MGS content for LittleBigPlanet, mostly because we couldn’t get Mercenaries 2’s online co-op to work. I also put a bit of time in with Savage Moon – doing surprisingly well, and Mirror’s Edge – getting nowhere, and Aquatic completed Bioshock. Seriously, he’s a game-completing machine. And he’s catching up on me with trophies, bastard. Armadillo has been switching between World at War and Smackdown, with a bit of World of Goo thrown in for good measure, and Fryingpan has been playing a whole bunch of shit.

Next week on the blog looks like a winner too, with lots going on, and hopefully (fingers-crossed) some exclusive content! Check back throughout the week, you lovely people. Toodles!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

So I'm back...

Ok, it looks like things have got a little out of control in my brief month of absence....

I have some things I would like to say regaaarding the awards...

So I see that MGS4 has been called 'convoluted'? I do believe that it is maybe possible that I am the only blog contributor to have played it from start to finish. I think the same maaaay well go for GTA IV. The story in that is called 'bland' by our team. Both of these decisions are utter bollocks! MGS4 is an amazing piece of art in its storyline alone. Just because it requires some thought rather then being given all the answers... and GTA IVs story is the only reason i finished the game! Its gameplay should be what is being criticised here!

On lighter notes, its 2009. I'm nearly a year older. Something small and insignificant occurs on the 6th next month. EMPIRES TOTAL BLOODY WAR! Finally! Yeah, ok so it's not that exciting but still should be fun...

Otherwise, I'm glad to see the blog in good shape!

Pan
P.S Activision have disappointed me this year! Where is my free christmas themed WaW map? Eh? EH?

Fancy getting killed?

If anyone would like to take me on at CoD: World at War on PS3, then my PSN is VolcanicArmado.

TWP challenge: On a similar note, take on the whole TWP team...well not Fryingpan but still, at Crash Commando on PSN, comment and request details!

Volcy

COMING SOON

Game of the year (2008) that has contributed most to the advancement of human integrity and the development and prosperity of the human race.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Full House Part Deux

Well its Microsoft's keynote this afternoon, and in TWP tradition (you know, the one I started yeserday) I hereby offer you a Bingo card for the presentation. Good luck!

A New Dawn

After all yesterday's Mac silliness, it's time to turn to the Windows side of things - Microsoft's CES keynote is this evening (if my timing its sort of right). Whilst gaming is likely to be low on the agenda (rumours say only Halo 3 ODST and Wars will be mentioned), there is likely to be a lot of discussion about Windows 7 both in the keynote and the rest of the show, which starts tomorrow. CES is always manic, and if you don't feel you can cope with all the gadgetry, or you're really just a gamer and Engadget is like a turd you'd rather not lick, I'll be back later in the week with a roundup of the best from the show.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Disappointment

...thy name is Macworld.

But hey, maybe there'll be a whole other event for the iMac and mini in February or something. Wait, did I just start a rumour?

Full House

Well its about 2 hours away from the keynote now, and I've even written this post in advance because right about now I'd be salivating over fan-made renders of a Mac mini touch Phone. In the good old internet tradition of making graphics in PowerPoint, I have lovingly made up a Keynote Bingo board (much like you might find elsewhere), just with somewhat more outlandish suggestions. The middle square's a free one by the way - Phil's guaranteed to mention it. Pens at the ready!


This Is Madness

he keAnd no I'm not talking about Sparta.

Later this afternoon (UK time) Apple's final Macworld keynote will be delivered by Phil Schiller. Whilst I am not crazy enough to involve myself in the rumour-mongering that always preceeds these events, I do feel obliged to remind you of the last time he did one of these presentations. Steve Jobs' black turtlenecks my arse, this is the best product introduction ever.


Guesswork

You know what, I reckon this prediction business can't be all that hard. Take something rumoured, add in something sensible, and sprinkle with one or two crazy ideas. Anyway, enough with that, here are my predicitions for the PlayStation brand in 2009.

The Good
  • Whatever Team ICO announce, it will be awesome.
  • There will be a price cut either at E3 or for Christmas.
  • A music department will be added to the PlayStation Store.
  • A platform for the creation of full user-generated games (like Microsoft's XNA) will be announced.
  • PSN will get a feature like the New Xbox Experience's Parties allowing groups to voice chat irrelevant of game. It will not work across all games.
  • Two new PS3 peripherals will be announced by Sony.
The Bad
  • Like Resistance 2, Killzone 2 will not sell as well as is hoped, regardless of quality.
  • MAG wont make it out in 2009.
  • Home will not get its trophy room this year.
  • PSP2 will not be announced.
  • More exclusives will go un-exclusive.
The Ugly
  • Home will still suck a year from now.
  • The media will continue to shun Sony and the PS3.
  • Sony and Square Enix will be the only ones putting out proper games for the PSP as everyone else accepts its death outside of Japan.
  • Fanboy wars will not end.

TWP Awards 08: Most Overhyped

Phwoar. 2008, year of hype. Or should that be 2007, seeing as most of the buildup and preliminary coverage of these attention seekers was last year instead.
Winner: Home (PSN)
Yes, yes, its finally out. And although Im a fan of the service to an extent, it is nowhere near what we were promised throughout last year and this. The Game Spaces shown at E3 and later still have yet to appear in Europe. Mobile and web access was shown at E307 but is as of yet nowhere to be seen. There's no trophy room. And the game launching is severely limited. Come on Sony.


Runner Up: Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3)

Oh Rockstar may be the kings of tease (speaking of which, where is LA Noire?), but the worryingly uninteresting code shown late last year to various media outlets made it clear that the game was in no state to come out. But prior to those previews came the trailers. The very first of which crashed most of the game-related internet. And yes, I was up, stealing my neighbours wireless connection to watch it.


Runner Up: LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

Purely for the extra year in development and the late showings of the Share section of the game, LittleBigPlanet is possibly the only game here that managed to live up to the expectations of it. Bar the online service, the servers for which don't really give a seamless experience.


Runner Up: Fallout 3 (PS3)

Gah, how did this happen? Such a tedious end game, but such an interesting and intriguing lead up. So much media coverage, and I just don't understand it. Did anyone actually get to play the game pre-release?


Runner Up: Haze (PS3)

Another game, like Fallout, that seemed so interesting before release. Unfortunately, this one bad game lead to the death of Free Radical the developers, and I can't see that being the case if it hadn't been quite so overhyped.


Runner Up: Sonic Unleashed (PS3)

Some apparently 'leaked' screenshots and video showing the 2D sections of the game apparently going back to the series' roots turned up earlier in the year, and I don't think anyone on the internet believed they were anything but deliberately released. Unfortunately the rest of the game (about 85%) is terrible.

Monday, 5 January 2009

TWP Awards 08: Best Soundtrack

Soundtracks to games this year have been a bit of a mixed bag, but there were some well put together compilations, and fantastic original scores amongst the overdramatic rubbish or liscenced crud.


Winner: LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

From the moment we saw the first LBP trailer featuring The Go Team, we fell in love with the game. The music throughout perfectly fits with the feel of the game, and the hilarious sound effects laid over the top just add to the experience. The particular stand-out track for us was Jim Noir's "My Patch". Oh and thanks Media Molecule for introducing us to The Go Team!


Runner Up: Grand Theft Auto (PS3)

Rockstar yet again pulled a great mix of songs together for the biggest GTA soundtrack yet, but so much felt like filler. Best track for me was the inclusion of Kanye West's "Flashing Lights", but points knocked off for not enough 80s electro-pop.


Runner Up: WipEout HD (PSN)

WipEout HD also had another great collection of tracks, and we especially love the way the music fades out slightly as if farther away whilst you are in the air after a jump. Nice touches but it is a short list of tracks and that is disappointing.


Runner Up: PixelJunk Eden (PSN)

Eden's amalgamation of various electronic noises really complement the changing design of the stages in the game; the soundtrack album is available now on the PlayStation Store and is well worth a buy.


Runner Up: Mirror's Edge (PS3)

This game's soundtrack is made up of a couple of tracks that meld together to create appropriate backing whether you are being chased or in the clear. The addition of Faith's breathing adds to the immersion.

That Time Of Year

Well its finally that time of year: no, Christmas is over and done with, its Nerdy Tech Show Week. That's right, because neither of the events organisers will back down from their 'first working week of January' schedule, the rabid Mac fanboys will be off to San Francisco for the Macworld Expo which starts on Tuesday, and the Windows crowd (and anyone thats not a Mac fanboy, really) will be heading to Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, kicking off on Thursday.

This year, the shows will really be competing. Its Apple's last appearance at Macworld this year, and although it isn't Steve Jobs giving the keynote, there is likely to be lots of discussion of the upcoming Mac OS release (Snow Leopard) on top of the usual hardware announcements. At CES, Microsoft is largely expected to be plugging its own new system, Windows 7, which is expected to launch around the same time as Snow Leopard in the first half of this year. You'll likely hear more on both of these later this week from me.

But what has this week really got to do with games? Okay, so Macworld isn't at all relevant (Hey, make some decent gaming Macs, Apple; we might be nice! Also, when you do, send me one.). But CES is usually full of gaming related stuff, and at the very least there are always sexy new Bravias to drool over.

Well last year, on top of the Bravias and Vaios and Walkmans etc, Sony announced plans for a Digital Copy program (Blu-Ray films copied to PSP via PS3), which came into force late last year with Sony Pictures movies like Hancock, and should expand more this year; Skype got announced and added to PSP, and (ha!) Blu-Ray killed the hell out of HD-DVD. Teasers already released for this year's show suggest a massive coming-out party for the long silent Prototype for PS3 and 360, and there are rumours that the Movie Store will be coming to the EU, as well as a Music Store for everyone. Don't blame us if it doesn't happen that way btw, that's how rumours work.

See you later in the week for the latest from the two shows.