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H alo 4 343 Industries Balancing Old & New Dragon Age Origins Review

Bad A** Games! December 2012

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Halo 4 343 Industries Balances Old And New by Matt Miller 343 Industries had a series of challenges in front of it when it began to create Halo 4: Take a beloved series from the original developer Bungie, maintain the legacy established through a decade of development, and reignite enthusiasm by delivering something new. That is a daunting list, but 343 Industries was clearly up to the task. Halo 4 is a thrilling adventure, and takes the science fiction franchise headlong into the future. The magic formula is intact, but the new development team isn’t afraid to put its own signature features into play, assuring that Halo is on a path to growth instead of stagnation. Recent Halo entries felt ancillary to the core story. Halo 4 returns

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to the resonant drive of the series – Master Chief and his unrelenting defense of humanity. For the first time, the story has an emotional core that grounds the fiction: the connection between John and Cortana. As the two characters face a reemerging threat to the galaxy, we finally gain insight into the mysterious Forerunner race hinted at since Combat Evolved. Along the way, 343 Industries plays around with some heady science fiction concepts, from the nature of artificial intelligence to the planned shaping of a species’ evolution. While these ideas might be bewildering to newcomers, the story is the most cohesive and wellstructured in the series. As I played through that story, I was struck by the extraordinary production values on display. Halo 4 is a visual marvel, with gorgeous environments accentuated by high dynamic range lighting and breathtaking

particle effects. However, the experience is more than the graphics; I rarely feel the need to call out the sound effects of a game, but Halo 4 is an exception. The first time I fired a gun, I was startled by the forceful burst, and the impression only improves as the fights progress. From the distorted static of a scrambled audio communication to the revving propulsion drive of a speeding Ghost, Halo 4’s audio drags players into the game world by their ears. Several stirring new musical themes add to the effect, but those melodies are sometimes obscured within the sound mix. I wish Halo 4 allowed for manual adjustment of the audio mix like most high-end games on the market. Enemies have defined the feel of Halo gameplay since the beginning, and Halo 4 balances familiarity and novelty. The Covenant returns (for reasons the in-game story

fails to articulate), providing the classic experience Halo fans love – popping Grunts, zeroing in on distant Jackals, and furiously dueling Elites. Thankfully, new foes enter the picture before long. The Prometheans offer a robust tactical challenge, from the


4 disposal. However, frequently running out of ammo slows the momentum of the action as you’re forced to scavenge for an alternative. Levels are thoughtfully structured and entertaining. One breathtaking environment is followed by the next, and several alternative gameplay sequences offer variety, from the new walking mech Mantis battles to high speed flights in outer space. The everchanging locations and set pieces give Master Chief’s adventure a scope and grandiosity that’s lacking in many other shooters.

infuriating regenerative abilities of the floating Watchers to the savage Crawlers and teleporting Knights. Each battlefield becomes a tense puzzle as you decide which bad guy to engage first. That’s why the widely spaced checkpoint placement is such

a bummer; I love the searing difficulty the game exhibits on higher challenge levels, but Halo 4 often sends its players too far back as a punishment for failure. Master Chief has new toys to bring into the fight, including several powerful new guns. Added to the array

already introduced previously, the armament variety is impressive, and trying them all out is fun. The game encourages experimentation by severely limiting ammo on most pick-ups. At times, the strategy succeeds by making players use all the tools at their

For many, Halo 4’s excellent campaign will be secondary to the endless battles of the newly introduced Infinity multiplayer. An integrated cooperative and competitive narrative tracks the progress of your Spartan as he or she trains aboard a UNSC ship and then heads out on missions, ranking up and improving on the way. Advancing your character is a joy, as you unlock armor pieces, customizable loadouts, and bonuses to boost performance in battle. The smooth and streamlined front-end interface is easy to navigate. Playing with friends is seamless; only time will tell if matchmaking can stand up to the rush that will hit after launch.

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Halo 4 343 Industries Balances Old And New by Matt Miller 343 Industries had a series of challenges in front of it when it began to create Halo 4: Take a beloved series from the original developer Bungie, maintain the legacy established through a decade of development, and reignite enthusiasm by delivering something new. That is a daunting list, but 343 Industries was clearly up to the task. Halo 4 is a thrilling adventure, and takes the science fiction franchise headlong into the future. The magic formula is intact, but the new development team isn’t afraid to put its own signature features into play, assuring that Halo is on a path to growth instead of stagnation. Recent Halo entries felt ancillary to the core story. Halo 4 returns

4

to the resonant drive of the series – Master Chief and his unrelenting defense of humanity. For the first time, the story has an emotional core that grounds the fiction: the connection between John and Cortana. As the two characters face a reemerging threat to the galaxy, we finally gain insight into the mysterious Forerunner race hinted at since Combat Evolved. Along the way, 343 Industries plays around with some heady science fiction concepts, from the nature of artificial intelligence to the planned shaping of a species’ evolution. While these ideas might be bewildering to newcomers, the story is the most cohesive and wellstructured in the series. As I played through that story, I was struck by the extraordinary production values on display. Halo 4 is a visual marvel, with gorgeous environments accentuated by high dynamic range lighting and breathtaking

particle effects. However, the experience is more than the graphics; I rarely feel the need to call out the sound effects of a game, but Halo 4 is an exception. The first time I fired a gun, I was startled by the forceful burst, and the impression only improves as the fights progress. From the distorted static of a scrambled audio communication to the revving propulsion drive of a speeding Ghost, Halo 4’s audio drags players into the game world by their ears. Several stirring new musical themes add to the effect, but those melodies are sometimes obscured within the sound mix. I wish Halo 4 allowed for manual adjustment of the audio mix like most high-end games on the market. Enemies have defined the feel of Halo gameplay since the beginning, and Halo 4 balances familiarity and novelty. The Covenant returns (for reasons the in-game story

fails to articulate), providing the classic experience Halo fans love – popping Grunts, zeroing in on distant Jackals, and furiously dueling Elites. Thankfully, new foes enter the picture before long. The Prometheans offer a robust tactical challenge, from the


4 disposal. However, frequently running out of ammo slows the momentum of the action as you’re forced to scavenge for an alternative. Levels are thoughtfully structured and entertaining. One breathtaking environment is followed by the next, and several alternative gameplay sequences offer variety, from the new walking mech Mantis battles to high speed flights in outer space. The everchanging locations and set pieces give Master Chief’s adventure a scope and grandiosity that’s lacking in many other shooters.

infuriating regenerative abilities of the floating Watchers to the savage Crawlers and teleporting Knights. Each battlefield becomes a tense puzzle as you decide which bad guy to engage first. That’s why the widely spaced checkpoint placement is such

a bummer; I love the searing difficulty the game exhibits on higher challenge levels, but Halo 4 often sends its players too far back as a punishment for failure. Master Chief has new toys to bring into the fight, including several powerful new guns. Added to the array

already introduced previously, the armament variety is impressive, and trying them all out is fun. The game encourages experimentation by severely limiting ammo on most pick-ups. At times, the strategy succeeds by making players use all the tools at their

For many, Halo 4’s excellent campaign will be secondary to the endless battles of the newly introduced Infinity multiplayer. An integrated cooperative and competitive narrative tracks the progress of your Spartan as he or she trains aboard a UNSC ship and then heads out on missions, ranking up and improving on the way. Advancing your character is a joy, as you unlock armor pieces, customizable loadouts, and bonuses to boost performance in battle. The smooth and streamlined front-end interface is easy to navigate. Playing with friends is seamless; only time will tell if matchmaking can stand up to the rush that will hit after launch.

5


Halo 4

343 Industries Balances Old And New by Matt Miller

343 Industries had a series of challenges in front of it when it began to create Halo 4: Take a beloved series from the original developer Bungie, maintain the legacy established through a decade of development, and reignite enthusiasm by delivering something new. That is a daunting list, but 343 Industries was clearly up to the task. Halo 4 is a thrilling adventure, and takes the science fiction franchise headlong into the future. The magic formula is intact, but the new development team isn’t afraid to put its own signature features into play, assuring that Halo is on a path to growth instead of stagnation. Recent Halo entries felt ancillary to the core story. Halo 4 returns to the resonant drive of the series – Master Chief and his unrelenting defense of humanity. For the first time, the story has an emotional core that grounds the fiction: the connection between John and Cortana. As the two characters face a reemerging threat to the galaxy, we finally gain insight into the mysterious Forerunner race hinted at since Combat Evolved. Along the way, 343 Industries plays around with some heady science fiction concepts, from the nature of artificial intelligence to the planned shaping of a species’ evolution. While these ideas might be bewildering to newcomers, the story is the most cohesive and well-structured in the series. As I played through that story, I was struck by the extraordinary production values on display. Halo 4 is a visual marvel, with gorgeous environments accentuated by high dynamic

6

range lighting and breathtaking particle effects. However, the experience is more than the graphics; I rarely feel the need to call out the sound effects of a game, but Halo 4 is an exception. The first time I fired a gun, I was startled by the forceful burst, and the impression only improves as the fights progress. From the distorted static of a scrambled audio communication to the revving propulsion drive of a speeding Ghost, Halo 4’s audio drags players into the game world by their ears. Several stirring new musical themes add to the effect, but those melodies are sometimes obscured within the sound mix. I wish Halo 4 allowed for manual adjustment of the audio mix like most highend games on the market. Enemies have defined the feel of Halo gameplay since the beginning, and Halo 4 balances familiarity and novelty. The Covenant returns (for reasons the in-game story fails to articulate), providing the classic experience Halo fans love – popping Grunts, zeroing in on distant Jackals, and furiously dueling Elites. Thankfully, new foes enter the picture before long. The Prometheans offer a robust tactical challenge, from the infuriating regenerative abilities of the floating Watchers to the savage Crawlers and

teleporting Knights. Each battlefield becomes a tense puzzle as you decide which bad guy to engage first. That’s why the widely spaced checkpoint placement is such a bummer; I love the searing difficulty the game exhibits on higher challenge levels, but Halo 4 often sends its players too far back as a punishment for failure. Master Chief has new toys to bring into the fight, including several powerful new guns. Added to the array already introduced previously, the armament variety is impressive, and trying them all out is fun. The game encourages experimentation by severely limiting ammo on most pick-ups. At times, the strategy succeeds by making players use all the tools at their disposal. However, frequently running out of ammo slows the momentum of the action as you’re forced to scavenge for an alternative. Levels are thoughtfully structured and entertaining. One breathtaking environment is followed by the next, and

several alternative gameplay sequences offer variety, from the new walking mech Mantis battles to high speed flights in outer space. The ever-changing locations and set pieces give Master Chief’s adventure a scope and grandiosity that’s lacking in many other shooters.


The Muti-Player Experience

For many, Halo 4’s excellent campaign will be secondary to the endless battles of the newly introduced Infinity multiplayer. An integrated cooperative and competitive narrative tracks the progress of your Spartan as he or she trains aboard a UNSC ship and then heads

out on missions, ranking up and improving on the way. Advancing your character is a joy, as you unlock armor pieces, customizable loadouts, and bonuses to boost performance in battle. The smooth and streamlined front-end interface is easy to navigate. Playing

with friends is seamless; only time will tell if matchmaking can stand up to the rush that will hit after launch.

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Halo 4

343 Industries Balances Old And New by Matt Miller 343 Industries had a series of challenges in front of it when it began to create Halo 4: Take a beloved series from the original developer Bungie, maintain the legacy established through a decade of development, and reignite enthusiasm by delivering something new. That is a daunting list, but 343 Industries was clearly up to the task. Halo 4 is a thrilling adventure, and takes the science fiction franchise headlong into the future. The magic formula is intact, but the new development team isn’t afraid to put its own signature features into play, assuring that Halo is on a path to growth instead of stagnation. Recent Halo entries felt ancillary to the core story. Halo 4 returns to the resonant drive of the series – Master Chief and his unrelenting defense of humanity. For the first time, the story has an emotional core that grounds the fiction: the connection between John and Cortana. As the two characters face a reemerging threat to the galaxy, we finally gain insight into the mysterious Forerunner race hinted at since Combat Evolved. Along the way, 343 Industries plays around with some heady science fiction concepts, from the nature of artificial intelligence to the planned shaping of a species’ evolution. While these ideas might be bewildering to newcomers, the story is the most cohesive and well-structured in the series. As I played through that story, I was struck by the extraordinary production values on display. Halo 4 is a visual marvel, with gorgeous environments accentuated by high dynamic

8

range lighting and breathtaking particle effects. However, the experience is more than the graphics; I rarely feel the need to call out the sound effects of a game, but Halo 4 is an exception. The first time I fired a gun, I was startled by the forceful burst, and the impression only improves as the fights progress. From the distorted static of a scrambled audio communication to the revving propulsion drive of a speeding Ghost, Halo 4’s audio drags players into the game world by their ears. Several stirring new musical themes add to the effect, but those melodies are sometimes obscured within the sound mix. I wish Halo 4 allowed for manual adjustment of the audio mix like most highend games on the market. Enemies have defined the feel of Halo gameplay since the beginning, and Halo 4 balances familiarity and novelty. The Covenant returns...

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Dragon Age: Origins Review

An RPG that’s sexier than Mass Effect and richer than LOTR By: Seth Richards We’d also only explored a measly eight per cent of the game world. That should tell you a lot about the size, scope and ambition of BioWare’s new role-playing masterpiece, though this won’t come as a surprise for fans of the developer’s Knights of the Old Republic or Mass Effect. The setup is the least inspiring thing about the game, which plunders The Lord of the Rings for its tale of a few hardy warriors battling a reawakened evil sweeping the land. Many of the cut-scenes, especially the brutal battles, are like watching a re-run of Helm’s Deep, and the game even throws in Entlike talking trees among other familiar characters. Delve deeper, though, and Dragon Age: Origins reveals itself as a world that’s as rich and rewarding as anything Tolkien created. The more you take the time to talk to characters, the more the land of Fereldon comes to life with a superbly realised backdrop of histories, wars, power struggles, relationships and motivations. And don’t forget that the character type you choose at the start also mixes up how these people react to you. However, if you’re not a fan of reading and listening to

swathes of dialogue, then steer well clear of Dragon Age: you’ll soak up more small talk than after hours at a sales convention. Some of it is interesting and relevant to your quests, some of it is pure exposition and a bit dreary, but it all contributes to

feeding you more information about Fereldon and the races that inhabit it. So much so that it gets a bit overwhelming at times. Nearly every line uttered gives you a chance to come back with a number of different responses, and your choice

can affect whether that person wishes to continue talking. For example, if you want to get your hands on an item you may be given a choice to try to trade for it, use your powers of persuasion, intimidate the merchant, or simply end the conversation and choose to kill

him for it. to calculate the number of different paths your game could take every step of the way... Jump to Page 15... 9


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