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s! view e r e gam Demon’s Souls LEGO Harry Potter Tiger Woods 11 Singularity Naughty Bear and many more...

Tiger Returns

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11

It’s About Time!

StarCraft II:Wings of Liberty

Tough as Nails

Demon’s Souls

Pure Magic! LEGO Harry Potter

La Cosa Nostra A virtual life of crime in Mafia II


Inside 6 From the Editor 8 Unstuck Are we spoiled? 10 The Rat’s Nest Know thyself... 12 Land of Opportunity Mafia II... a life in the mob awaits. 20 Previews Seventeen (of the many) titles coming soon! 48 Smokin’! Blizzard keeps on delivering the goods 52 PS Zealot On to Germany

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56 House of Mario Have a party, why don’t ya? 58 Reviews Seventeen games for all tastes

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102 Beginners Guide to Good Gaming More useful information about video gaming 104 Stateside Instant gratification sucks! 106 Hardware Essential equipment 110 The Lair Prepare your diary... 112 From Space Is this the right direction?

THIS MONTH’S COVER The long awaited Mafia II will lead the player to a virtual life of crime. Check out the feature of page 12.

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Competitions: 33 Naughty Bear 39 Mafia II 70 LEGO Harry Potter

gamecca contents • issue 14 • August 2010


Previews Reviews

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Medal of Honor Fable III Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 Fallout: New Vegas Test Drive Unlimited 2 Metroid: Other M WRC FIFA 11 Just Dance 2 Shaun White Skateboarding Kung Fu Rider FIFA Manager 11 Gormiti: Lords of Nature Enslaved: Odyssey to the West The Fight: Lights Out Phantasy Star Portable 2 Two Worlds II

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StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 (HD) Demon’s Souls LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 - 4 International Cricket 2010 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 (Wii) Singularity Shrek Forever After Naughty Bear Tournament of Legends Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Backbreaker Clash of the Titans King’s Bounty: Armored Princess Enlightenus Mah Jong Quest III Fritz Chess 12

GAMECCA Volume 2 Issue 14 August 2010 Editor: Walt Pretorius walt@gamecca.co.za Sub Editor: Jimmy Glue Writers: Alexia Pestana Brian Murdoch Bryan Banfield Corey Schon Dion Scotten Richard Bingham Suvesh Arumugam Letters: letters@gamecca.co.za Competition Entries: competitions@gamecca.co.za Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gamecca.co.za Design & Photography: 1337 Media Technical Support: Brian Murdoch Marketing Contact: Katia Taliadoros katia@gamecca.co.za

Taking fun seriously! All rights reserved. No content may be reproduced, copied or transmitted without the express permission of the publishers. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the editors and publishers. All Trademarks and Registered Trademarks are the sole property of the respective owners.

GAMECCA is published by 1337 MEDIA

gamecca contents • issue 14 • August 2010

Copyright © 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2010

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From the Editor

Early Deadlines and Zerglings... by Walt Pretorius

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f there is one thing that gets writers’ knickers in a twist, it’s telling them that their deadlines are earlier than usual. OK, to be honest, the Gamecca Crew are a good bunch, and they didn’t grumble – at least not in my earshot. But this month was one full of early deadlines because – and this is probably obvious – StarCraft 2 needed to be reviewed. I bravely volunteered to undertake the duty, but getting through a review for a game like this potentially takes time. So, early deadlines, just to make sure that no work could interfere with my fun… errr, I mean reviewing. StarCraft 2 marks the biggest release of the year, and certainly one of the biggest of the last decade. The excitement for this game ran to fever pitch, and the uptake has been phenomenal. The Battle.Net servers are heaving with players old and new, and the sheer joy of the game is (at the time of writing) still outweighing overly competitive types. But StarCraft 2 isn’t the only big name title that is being released in 2010 (although it is stealing a lot of thunder.) There are a large number of top notch titles filling up the release lists and, come next month, we are going to start seeing them dropping onto shelves in quick order. I think that’s the thing I love the most about my job. I am something of an eternal optimist when it comes to games… even if I know that a game is going to be bad, I still look forward to giving it a whirl. I naturally have

very strong views about what makes a game good or bad, and these don’t always correspond with the norm. My main rule of thumb relates to whether a game is fun or not, which only the worst of the worst don’t get right. And so, as we rush towards the end of the year – and all the lovely gaming releases that go with it – I am becoming as giddy as a school girl. Never mind the heavy time demands or the sleepless nights that getting all those reviews done will result in. It’s all about getting more games, more potential for fun. Our birthday issue (last month’s one) was very well received, and I would like to take a moment to say thanks to all of those who sent us notes of congratulations. We hope that, as time goes by, Gamecca just keeps getting better and better. At the moment we have several ideas brewing to add more top-notch content to the mag. Watch this space for details. You may notice that the Geekology column is taking a bit of a rest. This month Dion Scotten fills the space with his ideas, in the form of The Rat’s Nest. We hope to see great things from this new column (if we don’t, we’ll cut off his game access.) Other than that, we bring you a bunch of reviews and previews to check out. As always, we review games that are currently available, rather than running reviews written from early code. That way you know that our reviews are based on final

products, and that you can go out and buy them immediately, if you like the sound of them. And, as always, you can download the latest mag… just follow the link on the front page of www.gamecca.co.za. Also remember to look out for us on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to subscribe to our spam-free newsletter (also at the Gamecca site.) And drop us a letter or two, why don’t you – we love hearing from our readers. Right, that’s enough rambling from me. Let’s get on with the show. g

Gamecca’s PC requirements powered by

www.pinnacle.co.za CPU: Intel Core I7 920; MB: MSI X58 Pro E; RAM: 6GB Apacer DDR3 1333mhz; GPU: MSI N260GTX OC Edition; PSU: In Win Commander 80+ 850W ATX2.3 EPS 12V; HDD: Western Digital Black 1TB; Chassis: Sigma Metal Storm Unicorn; Mouse: SteelSeries Ikari Laser Gaming Mouse; Keyboard: Steelseries 7G Gaming Keyboard


Unstuck

The Good Old Days by Jimmy Glue

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o quote a good friend, “back in the day, our idea of multiplayer was fighting your sibling for the controller”. There is no denying that times have definitely changed, but have gamers changed too quickly? Granted, we move with the speed of the latest technology, so let me revise my question. Are gamers spoilt? Not only spoilt in choice for games, but spoilt with innovation, technology, and all things remotely electronic. Referring back to my first comment, I grew up in a time where 2MB RAM with a 20MB hard drive was considered fast. I saw the floppy come and go, the USB making its appearance and owned a Genius Thumb Ball while it was still popular. (For those that don’t know, a Thumb Ball was like a mouse, but instead of moving the whole mouse around, you directed the cursor with only your thumb – on a ball.) Back in those ancient times, borrowing a game from a friend had the same attached excitement as when the ice-cream van came chugging down the road. The games were simpler, although it did take some serious floppy swapping to

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install Indiana Jones and The Fate Of Atlantis. Games weren’t complained over much, well, at least not in my house, as owning a new copy of Dune provided months - and I mean months - of unadulterated fun. Checking in on your friend’s game progress and trying to beat him to the credits was always considered a secondary objective. I raise the question of being spoilt just as the pricing and release dates for Microsoft’s Kinect and Playstation’s Move are announced. We are quick to jump on the wagon, flailing our controllers of unhappiness, but we sometimes forget how simple things were in the past – and we were happy. Now, if a game has the same graphics as two years ago, its considered old, redundant and most likely given the tag of horrible. True, technology has changed the way in which we develop games, and what’s the point if we can’t progress, but … And that’s why I raised the question. Let’s not even get into the games of today compared to the titles from yester-year. I mentioned Indiana Jones and The Fate Of Atlantis, so let’s use that as an example. The game was a point-and-click adventure with no dialogue (all the talking was text-based), the sounds were synthesized noises that came straight out of the PC case, and it’s

needless to say that the graphics were 8-bit. But still… we were happy. There was no talk of how bad the pixilated Indy was, or how scary the noises were, or having to click on ‘Use’, ‘Talk’ and ‘Walk’ to do any action. Making steady progress in technology, we have become accustomed to photorealistic graphics, Dolby Digital 7.1 and HD, 3D, LED, LCD and HDMI. What would the world be like if all of those things were never invented? Would we still be happily playing our little games, blissfully unaware of what we could have had? Ok, granted, I have also criticized a bad game – for I am one to call a spade a spade – but most games aren’t deserving of bad reviews. There has to be at least one factor that stands out, as I think the only real bad game would be a blank screen with a small light flashing in the corner (and then the game will have a title like Count The Blinks) I think we have become a bit spoilt, and I would even go as far to say arrogant, with the games that we so heartily enjoy today. Many people have poured their life savings into developing titles, and I think that we should really stand back a bit and appreciate what the little guy has done for the industry. Any advancement in technology we should see as a gift, not as a financial burden or wonky design, but as a trial run for things that will shape the world. So when you clean out your cupboard again, install that 8-bit sucker and enjoy the good old days. It was some of the best years in my life... pixilated graphics, monochrome screens, Thumb Balls and all. g

gamecca column • issue 14 • August 2010


The Rat’s Nest

Fitting In... by Dion Scotten

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hat kind of gamer are you? I never really thought about it before, but then understanding yourself is the first step in understanding others, right? Some people play games to pass time, others are compelled to play as often as possible, while serial gamers plan the demise of their next opponent before each game. Which one are you or is there a bit of each in you? The first indicator is your hardware. Do the neighbourhood lights dim when you hit the switch on your rig or is your PC mainly for work? Yawn. Do you think console games are for kids or do you have one of each and a monster HD TV to match? Hmm... are there really people like that? *Cough* Ramjet *cough* Whether you play family games on your Wii, workout RTS strategies while on the bog or recently got a Starcraft 2 tattoo, gaming will probably always be a part of your life. The community has grown so big, in fact, that we can’t simply refer to people who play games as just gamers anymore. So the question is: what kind are you? Game genres can’t help you decide, because types of games played don’t describe the type of player you are. Casual you say? Hardcore? How do you know? Well, let’s see. Can you admit to a girl you just met that you enjoy playing games? When your boss mentions the Xbox game he had to buy for his kids, do you congratulate him on choosing the best console on the market or do you say nothing? Would you get an internet connection for the sole purpose of gaming online? If your answer is no to any of the above, then a casual gamer you are,

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my friend. Hardcore players, on the other hand, will proclaim their love for games whenever the subject comes up and don’t understand why others only have one gaming platform. Dude? If to you walkthroughs are for the weak, you know the entire story lines of most major game series and it’s perfectly normal to work out game strategy while in traffic then you are hardcore, without a doubt. Competitive players see gaming as competition and to them the whole object of playing is to win their games, or keep improving until they do. Do you think the true test of a player’s skill is against human opponents and shun single player in favour of multiplayer? You’re a competitive gamer, then. It takes dedication to be the best and these are the guys that compete at the World Cyber Games and other internationals. If you have this streak in you but don’t have the skill, you need to be careful you don’t fall into the next category. The whiner. There’s always one. I would tell you to stop whining if it wasn’t so much fun to make you squeak when you die. These gamers complain a lot are generally near the bottom of the scoring lists at the end of sessions. Pff. Guys, you’re irritating, but you’re funny. Are you an obsessive player? Do you think friends are there to farm with, every 30 minutes throughout the day? Do you get into a panic if you

realise you should have harvested a crop or do you need to obtain every achievement possible in a game? It’s you I’m talking about, isn’t it? Seriously have you found every pigeon in Grand Theft Auto? Admit it junky, you‘re an obsessive gamer. Then of course there’s the gamer’s gamer and we all know this person. They’re natural winners and no matter what the game played, they keep topping the scorecards. Not only are they winning but they do it in style and they make it look easy. Bloody agents, but they’re awesome to watch and represent a level of play we can all aspire to. Recognise anyone? Yourself maybe? Whichever type of gamer you are, though, remember there’s someone else like you and we all make up the gaming community. Gaming is only getting bigger and better and I still want to see SA players feature at the WCG. See you on the battlefield. g

gamecca column • issue 14 • August 2010


The Land of Oppo Get ready for a virtual life of crime, 50’s style...

by Walt Pretorius

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here’s just something about amassing power that is appealing to a great many people. To quote Frank Pentangeli from The Godfather II, “Those were the great old days, you know... And we was like the Roman Empire... The Corleone family was like the Roman Empire...” Many ordinary people have a great fascination with the mysterious organisation that is the Mafia. While many still deny its existence, this organisation – based on the ideals of family and the strength of unity against outsiders – has achieved a very famous status. There are many movies, books, TV shows and other forms of entertainment that tell

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tales of old Sicilian and Italian families become powerful criminal empires. Their ruthless efficiency is admirable, and their cold cruelty is frightening. The origins of the Mafia can be traced back to 19th century Sicily, and the organisation followed immigrants to the USA, where their activities were recorded as early as the late 1800s. But their notoriety in entertainment would wait a few decades. The first Mafia movie made was Little Caesar, a 1931 movie that told about an ambitious gangster becoming a crime lord in Chicago. It would be far longer before the subject matter would gamecca feature • issue 14 • August 2010


rtunity

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reach the video game market. In 2002, Illusion Softworks released Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven on PC. The game was later ported to PS2 and the original Xbox platforms. In August of 2007, the sequel title, Mafia II, was announced. This free-roaming action game tells the story of Vito Scaletta, the son of a poor immigrant. In an attempt to escape his poverty, Vito learns that joining the Mafia is a way to riches and respect. He and his friend Joe join the organisation, starting with petty jobs like stealing cars and robbery. However, they soon work their way up the Mafia ladder, only to discover that the glamorous life they expected isn’t all its cracked up to be. We have been waiting for this game for some time. It has been delayed a few times, adding to the frustration of waiting patiently for what looks like a great title. Mafia II promises a few things that we hope the developers deliver on. The story will be set across two decades in an American city. The authenticity of the ‘40s and ‘50s will be captured by the inclusion of accurate fashions, cars and advertising, all of which will change with the times as the game gamecca feature • issue 14 • August 2010

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progresses. Even the soundtrack will be authentic, with hit tracks of the era presented to the player within the game. The 16 square kilometres of game area will be rendered by 2K Czech’s proprietary Illusion Engine, which will allow not only for beautiful graphics, but also seamless transitions between outdoor and indoor environments. This means no loading, which is always a bonus. The mature story line, compelling narrative and potentially breathtaking presentation will be supported by thrilling action. Car chases, gun battles and brutal hand to hand combat will all be included, making the player’s rise to power even more challenging. The potential for truly engrossing game play in a title like this is massive. We have seen other games based on the Mafia and other criminal activities do very well, and there is little doubt that this title will prove very popular. And, from what we’ve seen thus far, it looks like that popularity will be well deserved. g

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Previews Highlights 22 Medal of Honor EA’s franchise gets modern... 24 Fable 3 Return to Albion 26 Star Wars: Force Unleashed 2 Another Force filled adventure issu

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game reviews! UFC Sims 3:A 3: Am Undisp mb biti itio ons ns Alphauted 201 Protoc 0 and Pure Fo manyFootbaol more..ll .

43 The Fight: Lights Out Street fighting brutality

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It’s that time of year that we love... the calm before the storm. If you take a look at the preview section in this issue, you will notice more big name titles than the middle of the year featured. From September until the end of November, the video gaming industry starts pushing masses of great gaming out onto the shelves. This is the time of year when it’s great to be a gamer, and we can rest assured that the Festive Season and early year holidays in 2011 will still be full of gaming goodness from this particular busy period. g

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gamecca contents • issue 14 • August 2010


Medal of Honor

Tier 1 Operator

EA reboots the war franchise that started it all. by Richard Bingham

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lectronic Arts really does go all out, some times. In a way, we can understand why. The Medal of Honor franchise is what started it all. Back in 2002, this was the first, big World War II game. It was one everybody was talking about – ask around today, and any veteran gamer worth his salt will recall dodging bullets on the Normandy mission with enough detail to make it sound like he was really there. Ironically, the first game was developed by 2015, whose team members went on to form Infinity Ward who, in turn, started work on the game that crushed Medal of Honor: Call of Duty. Now, free of any original team members’ input, the Medal of Honor reboot tells the story of a modern day war in Afghanistan, and has to compete with the legacy created by the all-powerful Modern Warfare 2. That game, with its hilariously over-the-top, yet thoroughly gripping single player campaign, and stupidly addictive multiplayer, has set all the benchmarks. MW2 is the game every other war shooter wishes it could be. And

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this is where EA has spared no expense. The single player campaign for MoH will be developed by Danger Close, a new internal studio at the publisher, and will be running on the Unreal 3 engine. Multiplayer will be handled by DICE, of Battlefield: Bad Company fame. While BF:BC has its charms, we’re yet to see how the multiplayer game will fit in with EA’s vision of a hyper realistic single player campaign. Money was spent on the main story, too. EA hired real war vets to give input on weapons, orders, war dynamics and operations data, for each of the scenarios players will be taking part in. Whether playing a role as one of the Tier One Operators, or taking to the battlefield as an Army Ranger, players should be subject to hyper realistic combat scenarios, to hopefully recreate some of the magic from the first game. Hopefully this two-tiered approach to a game about one-tiered operators pays off; Electronic Arts has lofty aspirations, but sometimes the best solutions are the simple ones. g

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AT A GLANCE: Developer: Danger Close and DICE Publisher: EA Distributor: EA gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Oct 2010 Platforms

It’s a very ambitious project. We can only pray for EA’s sake that it doesn’t suck.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Fable III

The Tale Continues Welcome to the revolution

by Walt Pretorius

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he Fable franchise is one of those that people either love or hate. Whatever the case may be, no-one can deny that Peter Molyneux (the guy who was also behind Black & White and The Movies) managed to introduce some awesome new ideas in this franchise, right from the word go. In this latest instalment, players will be able to return to the world of Albion. It’s fifty years after the events in Fable 2, and the world has matured into being in the grips of a full-steam-ahead industrial revolution. Naturally, the kingdom is in trouble (as it invariably always is) and it will be up to the player to set things right. As before, the game promises to let the player have a high degree of control over their character. Their choices and actions will affect the mood, look and feel of their character, as well as their surroundings. The game will grant the player with tons of freedom, and will allow them to engage in a great many tasks, ranging from menial through to destiny-changing.

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The player’s quest for revolution won’t be a solitary one this time around, with online multiplayer support making the game even more exciting. We should always be aware that the previous Fable games, while good, didn’t necessarily effectively deliver on their promises. And, as with many big name titles, the hype outweighed the final product. Still, the idea of another Fable outing is an exciting one – whether the previous games lived up to the hype or not, they were still highly entertaining. The game’s core, being the choice and consequence system that will be employed, will be improved, as will the emotion system (which was one of the chief complaints for the previous title.) Whatever the case may be, there is little doubt that Fable III will be well received, and will provide players with many hours of excellent gaming fun. After all, a game in which freedom is key is a great thing. g

gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010


AT A GLANCE: Developer: Lionhead Studios Publisher: Microsoft Distributor: Microsoft gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Oct 2010 Platforms

Once again, there are a lot of promises being made for a Fable game. We hope it delivers.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Star Wars:The Force Unleashed II

Break Stuff! The Force is strong in this one…

by Walt Pretorius

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n 2008, LucasArts released what would soon become the fastest selling Star Wars based video game of all time. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed tells the tale of Darth Vader’s first apprentice, and delves into the formation of the Rebellion, as well as revealing a number of other interesting facts. This, of course, was very well received, as it filled the gap between the end of the movies Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope… a gap of almost two decades, in movie time. The game was a very welcome addition to the overall Star Wars franchise. One of the main reasons for this was because it allowed the player to use the Force to a high degree, and combined numerous technologies to make the player’s impact on the game world believable and (more importantly) absolutely awesome. When a game reaches this kind of status, there is no room for doubt that a sequel will be on the way. And so

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the sequel to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will arrive later this year, which is something that many fans will be ecstatic about. Unfortunately, the developers are being rather tight lipped about the game. “Executive Producer Haden Blackman and his team have been able to build on the core foundation of the award-winning original and create a powerful combination of engrossing story-telling and intense action. The Force Unleashed II gives fans an opportunity to wreak havoc on an even greater scale in the Star Wars universe,” said LucasArts’ President Darrell Rodriguez. That doesn’t tell us too much, except for the fact that there will be even more mayhem in this title. Considering what they managed to do two years ago, adding in the march of technology… well, let’s just say that the potential for this title is massive. We can’t wait to see it! g

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AT A GLANCE: Developer: TBC Publisher: Lucasarts Distributor: Megarom gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Oct 2010 Platforms

While the developers aren’t saying much, previous performances should indicate a great game here.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Fallout: New Vegas

Shooting Vegas There is a new player in town

by Jimmy Glue

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t’s the kind of town where you dig your own grave prior to being shot in the head and left for dead... and that’s before things really get ugly”. It’s going to be a harsh land, with enemies and wild animals around every corner. Gamblers, chance-takers and freedom fighters all have to battle for a honest living. Welcome to New Vegas. Fallout: New Vegas is, of course, the sequel to the multi-award winning Fallout 3, and in this iteration, things are going to get ugly. Taking place in and around the unrelenting Mojave Wasteland, the massive Hoover Dam, and the neon-lit Vegas Strip, players will have to fend for themselves while chipping away at earning a quick buck. The franchise will once again take on a free-roam setting, with players able to wander in any direction for as long as they please. But be warned that the Great Southwest holds many secrets, dangers and treasures. The game will kind of follow the same mechanics as Fallout 3 but some tweaks are being made: most notably the Companion Wheel that streamlines directing your companions and a Reputation System that tracks the consequences of your actions. So no more shooting someone when they didn’t give you something you wanted...

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It is also promised that a Hardcore Mode will be included, which is sure to separate the men from the boys, and special melee combat moves have been added to bring up-close and personal to life. The V.A.T.S system will still be there, which will allow players to pause time in combat, target specific enemy body parts and queue up attacks, or get right to the action using the finely-tuned real-time combat mechanics. And what is a new game without new weapons? Of course there will be tons of new weapons! In fact, the game will have double the amount featured in Fallout 3. But the best part about the new weapons configuration system is that players will be able to modify any gun. How exactly this will work is still a bit unclear, but modifications can definitely be done. The main plot of the game will involve two rival factions as they fight over the control of New Vegas. The factions are standing on the brink on an all-out war and the player will have to choose a side, and quickly. The choices the player makes will bring them into contact with countless characters, creatures, allies, and foes, and determine the final explosive outcome of the epic power struggle. g

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AT A GLANCE: Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Distributor: Nu Metro gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Oct 2010 Platforms

With modified weapons and new enemies, Sin City never looked so good.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Test Drive Unlimited 2

Massively Multiplayer Racer Atari’s sequel to its multiplayer online racing RPG.

by Richard Bingham

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ack in ’06, yours truly simply couldn’t wait to get his hands on a copy of the first Test Drive Unlimited. Despite playing the demo at E3 and bemoaning the moon-like gravity developers had chosen for this arcade racer, the concept was still too fantastic to pass up: 1000km of driveable roads on an open island. Things got even better when Atari highlighted TDU as a M.O.O.R – massively open online racing game. In practice, this worked almost perfectly. You’d be driving around and as soon as your Xbox or PC had an online connection, other traffic would be replaced by real people. The dude who just whizzed past on his bike? Some guy from Italy. The two Ferraris having a highway race, while you’re cruising along, enjoying the scenery? Yup, probably some smug stock brokers from New York. In fact, the social aspect of the online play, with its few bugs, was by far the best thing of the first game, and made it worth dealing

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with the crappy physics and average graphics. Thankfully, the sequel is retaining this M.O.O.R. technology, along with getting it tweaked. Players can now create parties and take advantage of new game modes that take advantage of this unique multiplayer arrangement. New cars are also on the table, with more than 200 exotics currently slated for the final release. Gamers will be able to zoom around the roads of the infamous Spanish party island, Ibiza, and Atari has hinted that the original game’s Hawaiian island, Oahu, will be unlockable, too. In total, more than 3000km worth of open road will be ready for high-speed assaults, along with a weather system and a 24-hour day/night cycle. Around a third of the roads will be designed for off-road use: this will mark the game’s foray into SUV racing, which makes perfect sense given how many yuppy 4x4s there are to be had these days. g

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AT A GLANCE: Developer: Eden Publisher: Atari Distributor: Megarom gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Sep 2010 Platforms

The first game was fun. All this sequel needs to do is add some polish and fix some physics bugs.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Metroid: Other M

Inside Samus Reliving a hero’s life

by Brian Murdoch

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etroid’s Samus Aran is the star in a new instalment of the franchise. This heroin bounty hunter has been the downfall of many a bounty and challenge. There are lots of ghosts in her past but she has left them behind for a more solitary life. In Metroid: Other M, some of these ghosts come back to haunt her. This version promises a new direction for the Metroid franchise, with a blend of cinematics, storytelling and great interactive entertainment. She is more of the star in this version as her own tale is revealed, showing her flaws and what motivates her. Metroid fans know more about her suits and weapons than the character herself but this game promises to change that. The same action-packed gaming is there but the game will contain more (and better) action, as well as a better story line. The franchise has often combined two elements to make a better game. This one continues the trend and combines third person and first person gaming. Players will turn the Wii remote on its side to control Samus in the third person view, while just pointing the Wii remote at the screen will switch them back into first person mode. Metroid: Other M looks to be a single player Wii title to up the game with hard-core titles on the Wii. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Distributor: Core Group

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Sep 2010 Platforms

This new Metroid title will teach the player more about Samus.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010


compe t i t io n • c o mp eti ti on • com pe tit ion • com pe t ition • com pe t it ion

WHO’S BAD?

WIN A

Naughty Bear T- Shirt

Courtesy of Apex Interactive TO ENTER: Send an email to competitions@gamecca.co.za. Tell us your name & the name of the main character in Naughty Bear Insert ‘Naughty competition’ in the mail’s subject line. Subscribe to www.gamecca.co.za

Competition closes 31 August 2010. Gamecca subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Hampers may not include a copy of the game. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC & Apex Interactive. The judges’ decision is final.


WRC

Dirt Road Busters Blackbean attempts a resurrection

by Richard Bingham

F

AT A GLANCE: A promising title for fans of the offroad racing sport, let’s just hope the developer delivers. Developer: Milestone Publisher: Blackbean Distributor: Ster Kinekor

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Oct 2010 Platforms

ans of WRC – or the World Rally Championship – are the underground sports fans in motorsport circles. Sure, every petrolhead says they like to watch all kinds of motorsports, but it takes real dedication to sniff out the limited WRC coverage on local TV channels and waking up at strange hours to catch it live. Much like being a spectator at the actual events, except you don’t get sand in your eyes or help tip Kimi Raikkonen’s car back onto its wheels. With that said, the game-playing fans of WRC will be even more critical of anything bearing the official brand name, which this year’s WRC game does. The previous titles, developed by Evolution Studios on the PS2, had a great following. Each of the five games had great graphics and physics, featured all the right drivers and even some historic cars. Sadly, Evolution Studios moved on to the PS3 and went on to develop the sort-of-rallybut-not-so-realistic racer Motorstorm. The WRC franchise was left abandoned, but Milestone Srl, the Italian developer who’s given us the Superstars V8 and SBK racing titles, has picked up the pieces and now promises everything we’ve come to expect: excellent graphics, all 78 stages from the 13 events worldwide, realistic crash damage, and every single driver and codriver in each of the four WRC race classes. Initial impressions are good, with the graphics looking on par with Codies’ DiRT series, though not much has been shown of the crash engine, where Codemasters has the class leading tech. We really hope Milestone can pull this one off, though: a proper WRC game, with licensed content, would be fantastic, and their promise of live multiplayer using actual race data should be a treat. g

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gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010


FIFA 11

Messi players FIFA gets some personality

by Jimmy Glue

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AT A GLANCE: Next in line for the football crown, FIFA 11 is shaping up to be a champion. Developer: EA Sports Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: Electronic Arts SA

gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Oct 2010 Platforms

ith the FIFA 2010 World Cup squarely behind us, it’s time to reflect on an outstanding tournament. But for those still in the football mood, Electronic Arts will luckily be releasing the next instalment to the hugely popular FIFA games franchise. The next iteration, in true EA style, promises to deliver one of the best titles ever seen. It’s rather hard to make those sort of claims year after year, but with FIFA 11, they might just make believers out of us. The title aims to give players a new level of control to experience the beautiful game. It reinvents player authenticity - on and off the ball - for every player and at every position on the pitch. A new feature called Personality+ will see individual abilities reflected in game, enabling clear differentiation for every player. Essentially what that means is that there will be a distinct difference in ability between defenders and strikers, for example. For the more adventurous, a changed Pro Passing system has been developed, where pass accuracy is determined by a player’s ability on the control pad, and player skill, situation and urgency on the pitch, which should make for some interesting game play. (Ed might find this feature a bit distracting) On the whole, with improved passing physics, Personality+, stunning graphics and the ability to import and assign customised chants for every team and league, the title is turning out to be best-seller. g

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Just Dance 2

Best Seller

The surprise dance hit is making a comeback by Brian Murdoch

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et your hair down and get ready to kick it. Just Dance brought a not so original idea to the Wii and most of us are unsure why it had such a great hit. Is it the ease of use or the educational way of showing you the expert dance moves that don’t look so bad when you’re doing them? Or is it the idea of up to four players are doing the same moves and making the same mistakes in front of the TV? All this fun returns in Just Dance 2. They have included over 40 hit tracks from all genres in the new title. Don’t just dance by yourself or even limit it to the four people holding the Wii remotes; the second version of the game will come with dancing duets that have the two players dancing different moves in combination. There will also be an online mode that will have eight players battling it out in crew face-offs. In Just Dance 2 there is a new sweat mode for a quick, fun option to lose some weight in the mornings, and starting your day with a good beat. The style and look of the game has not changed much but players should enjoy the new look and features. Even if you did not experience the first version of the game, “Join the Movement” and dance in Just Dance 2. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

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Oct 2010 Platforms

It’s more stylish dance moves and great music in this follow-up title.

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gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010


Shaun White Skateboarding

A Different Board Swapping the snow for the sidewalk

by Jimmy Glue

S

AT A GLANCE: Shaun White enters the skateboarding fray, but will he have enough tricks to stay in the game? Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Ubisoft

gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Oct 2010 Platforms

kateboarding games are a rather tough market to break into, especially with already-successful franchises like Electronic Arts’ Skate and the very popular Tony Hawk brand. Like the old saying goes, “two’s company, three is a crowd”. Is there space for another franchise? Well, Shaun White seems to think so, and this time he is applying his usual snowboarding mind to the urban streets with Shaun White’s Skateboarding. Due to be released later this year, the game promises to put an innovative twist on the genre. As far as we can gather, it will be the skater’s job to add a touch of colour and life to a bleak city by extending handrails into endless grinds, carving alleys into half pipes and morphing streets into ramps. The game promises that skaters will be able to push the limits of what’s possible, and develop their own skating world that can also be shared with fellow skaters, presumably over Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. The title boasts over 80 skating tricks, all hand-picked by Shaun, including one of his own creations called the “Armadillo”. Fans will have to hone their skills to perfection, as they will also be able to compete against other friends in co-operative or adversarial modes, both online and local split-screen. g

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FIFA 11

Take a Seat! Action comedy for the Move

by Walt Pretorius

N

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AT A GLANCE: This Move based game looks like it could be lots of chair based fun Developer: SCEJ Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Sep 2010 Platforms

ew hardware means new ideas. It’s a fact of the industry, and one that often leads to a few problems. We often see the implementation of new hardware taking a little while, at least for it to be done properly. That may not be the case with the new motion sensitive peripherals coming from Sony and Microsoft for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 respectively. While we still need to get our hands on these devices and the software that will support them, there are more than a few original ideas floating around out there. One of these is Kung Fu Rider, an action adventure destined for the PlayStation 3. The story is a simple one: A private detective named Toby and his assistant, Karen, find themselves targeted by the mob. Their efforts to escape leads to a wild chase through the streets of Hong Kong. OK, we’ve seen this kind of thing before… but the vehicles of choice are a bit different. They’re office chairs. Obviously this game is going to feature more than a little humour, what with a premise like that. The player will be able to make use of the Move peripheral to flee through the streets, causing all kind of mayhem on the way. Another twelve “vehicles” will also be available for players to unlock, and the six featured districts in the game will present the player with 27 challenging courses. As an added bonus, the PlayStation Eye camera, which must be used in conjunction with the Move controller, will capture the player’s facial expressions during the biggest wipe-outs and replay them on the summary screen. g

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gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010


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IT’S A STEAL

WIN A Mafia II T-Shirt

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Competition closes 31 August 2010. Gamecca subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Hampers may not include a copy of the game. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC, Ubisoft & Megarom Interactive The judges’ decision is final.


FIFA Manager 11

The Driving Seat Do you have what it takes?

by Jimmy Glue

I

AT A GLANCE: It will take more than guts to be the best football manager on the pitch. Developer: EA Sports Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: Electronic Arts SA

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Oct 2010 Platforms

n high school you tend to have two types of children: the active, athletic ones, and the ones who sit on the sidelines. Well, in gaming you get the same type of gamers; the active, play-anything gamer, and the gamer who like to take things easy. Before being thrown to a firing squad, the active gamers will play 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and the upcoming FIFA 11, while the easy gamer can look forward to Electronic Arts’ FIFA Manager 11. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the popular football management game, the title promises to include a vast array of new feature enhancements like an improved tactics system, a more realistic transfer market and an extended online mode that will be easier to access for novice players while not being overly simplified for current fans. But new features alone won’t push the game along, and for that reason EA revamped some of the existing one. While lowering the bar for entry-level gamers, experienced managers will feel that the improved tactics system will allow them quicker and deeper involvement into the running of a successful club. Not everything happens off the pitch, and FIFA Manager 11 employs a new pitch screen that allows the player to quickly give instructions to individual players, as well as for the entire team.g g

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gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010


Gormiti:The Lords of Nature!

Island of Gorm Another franchised based on a series

by Brian Murdoch

B

ased on the TV shows and toys, Gormiti: The Lord of Nature introduces a new story for the games. It starts with Razzle cleaning the library and accidentally knocking some old books into a portal. These books fall down onto the Island of Gorm, where a never-ending battle rages between vast armies, inspired by the elemental forces of nature. Magmion, the evil Lava Gormiti, finds the books and reads. He learns of an old legend which talks about reuniting five sacred amulets which have been scattered across Gorm. Once these sacred amulets are reunited they will allow the holder to open an inter-dimensional portal to Earth. With a common enemy, the Lords of Nature join forces to fight Magmion and prevent him from achieving this evil plan. The game recreates the Island of Gorm for the player to battle and solve his way through the story. Use the unique abilities of the Gorm under your control across five expansive domains that are familiar, thanks to the TV series. Use long-ranged moves or super melee attacks to battle against evil. The game also promises to have a tournament mode to let players prove their might against each other. The player will be able to unlock cutscenes, attacks and battle arenas to test their mettle against the hordes of enemies in timed combat as well in the Wii version. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Konami Digital Publisher: Konami Digital Distributor: Ster Kinekor gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Sep 2010 Platforms

A game based on the TV series and toys, this one may have potential.

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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Monkeying Around AI based co-op

by Walt Pretorius

S

et more than 150 years in the future, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West tells of a bleak future. The Earth is almost unrecognisable, with the great human cities having fallen, and the world being retaken by the forces of nature. The few humans that remain are preyed upon by merciless robots, the remnants of longforgotten wars. The player will step into the shoes of Monkey, a big, brutish loner that has been captured by a mysterious slave ship. Joined by the AI controlled Trip, a sheltered woman who is a tech specialist none the less, he escapes from the slavers and fights for his freedom. The only catch is that the two characters are tied together through their hacked slave control headbands… if one dies, the other dies too. This adds an interesting dynamic to the whole mix, and one that will rely heavily on a well written AI. The action looks like it will be pretty intense, with lots of melee options open to Monkey. The game will feature visceral combat, as well as a lot of co-op required between the player’s character and the AI controlled Trip. The tactical requirements brought about by this should be interesting. It looks pretty good, in terms of graphics, and the idea is rather interesting. We’re thinking that Enslaved will be one to look out for. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Ninja Theory Publisher: Namco Bandai Distributor: Namco Bandai

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Oct 2010 Platforms

With a game dynamic based on coop with an AI controlled character, it looks pretty interesting.

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gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010


The Fight: Lights Out

Bare-knuckle boxing Hitting the floor with a fight

by Jimmy Glue

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ixed martial arts are all the rage today; with games like UFC 2010 and Electronic Arts’ MMA title not pulling any punches. Sony will also now be stepping into the fighting arena, but not in the octagon. The Fight: Lights Out takes players on an adrenalinefuelled ride through the brutal world of underground fighting as a rugged bare-knuckle boxer. Incorporating the new PlayStation Move peripheral, players must fight their way through the ranks of the world’s most dangerous brawls, and defend themselves from other like-minded citizens. The PlayStation Move and PlayStation Eye camera will track the player’s movements with one-to-one precision, allowing for seamless execution of jabs, uppercuts and headlocks. The title will also feature a campaign mode, and luckily budding fighter will receive some much-needed training to perfect their skills and unlock new moves by winning dirty street fights. Developed by X-Bow Software and exclusive to the PS3, the graphics seem to be highly detailed with enough oomph to make them believable. Being one of the first games announced for the new PlayStation Move, let’s just

AT A GLANCE: Developer: X-Bow Software Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Oct 2010 Platforms

Using the PlayStation Move, The Fight should be a really interesting title.

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Phantasy Star Portable 2

The Other PSP PSP on the PSP… weird, right?

by Walt Pretorius

T

he Phantasy Star franchise is growing in all kinds of directions, including making a second foray into the PSP market with Phantasy Star Portable 2. The story will pick up where the last one ended… the Seed has been defeated, and the residents of the Gurhal System must now face problems brought on by dwindling resources. This PSP version will make a return to the franchise’s online roots, with Ad Hoc and Infrastructure modes allowing up to four players to take part in games online. But that’s not all that the developers are promising. In addition to online capabilities, the game will feature a new, extensive story, enhanced combat, new weapons and character customisation options. It looks like it will shape up to be one of the more extensive role playing titles ever devised for the PSP platform. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro

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Q4 2010 Platforms

An in-depth and engrossing RPG title for Sony’s handheld platform

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gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010


Two Worlds II

Fantasy Adventure Return to the world of Antaloorian

by Walt Pretorius

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antasy role playing games aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, but there are a fair share of them on the market. Breaking into the market is also tricky, because the gamers that player these games tend to be among the pickier of the lot. Still, the original Two Worlds title made a fair run of it, and garnered a few fans around the globe. More of a cult classic than a mainstream hit, Two Worlds is being given the sequel treatment none the less. Two Worlds II will take the player back to the world of Antaloorian, where they will be able to further explore this rich, engaging environment. The player will be able to make use of a flexible combat system while there, which will feature varying attacks, parries and special moves. The game won’t just be hack-n-slash, though, with the developers promising many mini-games to change up the game dynamic. Aside from an engrossing story and a vast world to get lost in, the developers are also promising things like realistic movements, tons of boss fights and tools to individually configure armour and weapons. In theory, at least, Two Worlds II is offering role players all the right kind of things. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Reality Pump Publisher: South Peak Distributor: TBC gamecca preview • issue 14 • August 2010

Oct 2010 Platforms

Two World II will offer role playing gamers everything they look for, in theory.

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Smokin’! Blizzard Entertainment delivers time and again...

by Walt Pretorius

StarCraft

Diablo

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gamecca feature • issue 14 • August 2010


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n February 1991, Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce founded a company called Silicon & Synapse. The primary focus of this new company was to produce video game ports for other studios. Two years later, they released Rock ‘N’ Roll Racing and The Lost Vikings, their first ever independent developments. But it wasn’t until 1994 that they made a breakthrough release, under a new studio name… the game was WarCraft: Orcs and Humans, and the studio name was Blizzard Entertainment. Since that time, Blizzard has steadily become known for high quality games. The studio’s approach is one of pedantic care – rather than rush titles to the market, Blizzard will take their time in ensuring the best game possible hits shelves. Their attitude is so tuned towards this philosophy that they won’t even give estimated release dates. When Blizzard announces a release date, they stick to it… because they know their product is ready. WarCraft: Ors and Humans was a relatively complex title for the time, and was one of the games that helped define the fledgling real-time strategy genre. Players could either control Orcs or Humans, and would wage war against their opponents. The teams were rather similar, but already Blizzard’s strong ideas about strategy were apparent. The release of WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness further solidified their hold on the market. The game still concentrated on Humans and Orcs as opposing factions, but brought allied races into the picture as well. These races added extra options for the player, including aerial combat. A year later, an expansion pack (WarCraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal) was released. In 1997, Blizzard moved away from the real-time strategy genre, and released the first title in what would become another well loved franchise made by this development studio. Diablo brought players visions of a dark, twisted fantasy world, dominated by a great evil. The gamecca feature • issue 14 • August 2010

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Diablo III

WarCraft II

Diablo II

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game was an instant hit, thanks not only to its excellent story and solid game dynamics, but also to its very popular multiplayer modes. A year later, Blizzard released StarCraft. Thanks to the success of the WarCraft franchise, as well as the popularity of Diablo, this game was highly anticipated. Blizzard delivered on the expectations of players, and proved themselves resourceful in the way that they constantly improved the title by way of patches. Using similar ideas to the fantasy based WarCraft, StarCraft took the battle to a Sci-fi fantasy realm. Additionally, the game introduced the idea of three playable races. Combined with the Broodwar expansion, which was released later in the same year, the game quickly became the definitive real time strategy title, and became a stalwart in competitive gaming. To take advantage of the growth of the internet, as well as the popularity of multiplayer gaming, Blizzard created one of the world’s first multiplayer portals, in the form of Battle.Net. In 1999 they re-released WarCraft II, this time with Battle.Net support, allowing the platform to host games from all three of their most popular franchises. In 2000, Blizzard released the highly anticipated Diablo II. However, initial impressions of the game were mixed – Blizzard had produced a great title, but many of the promised features weren’t included in the game. The company acted quickly, showing their usual aptitude for gamecca feature • issue 14 • August 2010


StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

listening to the desires of gamers and adjusting their code through patches. Before long, Diablo II was exactly what gamers expected, and the subsequent Lord of Destruction expansion in 2001 took the franchise to new heights. Diablo II also marked one of the company’s first forays into the realms of 3D implementation in their titles. WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos hit shelves in 2002 amidst great excitement. The game featured full 3D implementation, as well as more playable races than ever before in a Blizzard RTS title. A year later, theFrozen Throne expansion to WarCraft III was well received by fans. In 2004, Blizzard once again moved away from their specialised fields, and released a game into the new Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) market. Using the popularity of the WarCraft franchise, they created World of WarCraft, a game that allowed players to take on the part of a single character in the WarCraft universe. Played online, with thousands of other players interacting simultaneously, the game was virtually an instant hit. With the Burning Crusade expansion released in 2007, and the Wrath of the Lich King expansion hitting shelves a year later, World of WarCraft has become the world’s most popular MMORPG title, breaking several records along the way. The game also made Blizzard one of the most powerful development houses in the market. When Vivendi (the gamecca feature • issue 14 • August 2010

Blizzard publisher) and Activision merged in 2008, the new company chose Blizzard’s name over Vivendi’s as a result. In the years that followed the release of StarCraft and Diablo II, fans of those franchises watched in quiet anticipation as the World of WarCraft juggernaut rolled on, wondering when their favourite franchises would once again see releases. There had been rumblings and suggestions that new titles would be released, but when Blizzard announced in 2005 that the development of StarCraft 2 would be put on hold for a year, many thought that it might go the way of the ill-fated FPS StarCraft: Ghost, which was indefinitely postponed. However, by 2008, fans knew that work was progressing on both the StarCraft and Diablo franchises. With the recent release of StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, Blizzard have once again shown that their pedantic approach delivers good results. Rather than rush the title to the shelves, Blizzard opted to release it when it was ready. This will likely be the case for the next highly anticipated title from the studio, Diablo III, as well as the subsequent to parts of the StarCraft 2 trilogy. Through a careful approach, attention to detail and limited splitting of focus, Blizzard Entertainment have proven themselves to be one of the world’s top development studios. Their name behind a game all but guarantees a good title, and enthusiasm from gamers for their releases is well deserved. g

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PS Zealot

The Road to Germany by Suvesh Arumugam

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ith such a short space between E3, held in LA in June, Comicon in San Diego having just finished and Gamescon in Germany in early August, it’s an awesome time for gamers to get spoiled with new products, previews and exciting announcements. The big announcement from Comicon has got to be the Capcom’s upcoming Streetfighter X Tekken! Fans were treated to some awesome videos and demos, featuring stock characters from each franchise fighting each other! Some may be disappointed that the game is in fact a Capcom design and release, and they have mostly licenced the Tekken characters from Namco. This will mean that the game will use the Streetfighter style and engine. Personally, I think combining the two most successful fighting game series ever can only results in good things for fans. No release date has been announced as yet, and there is also talk of Namco releasing an equivalent title, using the same concept. DC Universe announced that their new Massive Multiplayer Online title will soon be available; though purchasing the DC comic characters will not be cheap, at around US$15 a month! Also, some may be disappointed to hear that crossplatform play will not be available, even though it was rumoured that this might be the case. Comicon 2010 also gave gamers a first look at Infamous 2. Even though it was mostly a few cut-scenes

and some new look characters, the highly anticipated sequel has already generated a lot of chatter on the web. Another headliner has been the announcement that Madden 11 will feature President Barack Obama in the Superbowl trophy presentation video, in a much more jazzed up Superbowl mode. Activision announced 22 more tracks for their upcoming release, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, which included Steve Vai, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Queen, as well as new tracks written exclusively for the game by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and Soundgarden. Sony has also recently announced that there will soon be a successor to Blu-Ray technology. While a Blu-Ray disc currently holds about 50GB of data, researchers at Tohoku University have developed new laser technology that will hold 1TB on a single disc. This would roughly translate to about 50 HD movies on a single disc! Obviously, for gamers, this could mean much more graphics and gameplay information, or even multiple titles on a single disc. It’s doubtful whether this technology would be included in the PS4, but who knows,

maybe they’re already planning the PS5! Sony continues to drop bombs regarding their release of the Move controller in September. The list of upcoming titles is growing bigger by the day, which probably means that by Christmas time, no PS gamer should be without it! Also, Sony will now be releasing officially licensed Playstation T-Shirts. While the official logo has up until now only been used on gaming peripherals, Sony have announced that the familiar logo and “square, triangle, circle, x” will now appear on a range of clothing and lifestyle items. Be sure to look out for the latest firmware update (3.41) which is due soon. While the last update included a nifty video edit and upload tool (which I admittedly have not played with as much as I would like), the latest update will include a recommendations feature based on what games are selling well in stores. We haven’t been told yet whether this will be country or player specific, but it’s probably still worth while to know what other gamers are playing before you go and blow your salary on games! Next stop, Germany! g

This page is provided by PlayStation Gamer www.playstationgamer.co.za


Xbox Beat

In with the New... by Bryan Banfield

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t has been over four years since the release of the Xbox 360 and last month we saw a flurry of news from Microsoft regarding the plans for the Xbox in the future. We have seen number of internal changes to the hardware; new motherboards, better cooling, more energy efficiency and larger hard drives have arrived as demand for storage space grew and various iterations on the Xbox SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) With the push towards Xbox 360 taking center stage in your living room and the Kinnect set to revolutionise the gaming industry, we have the NEW Xbox 360 stepping into the limelight. The NEW Xbox 360 is the name that has been give to this iteration to direct the public away from the slang street name: “The Xbox 360 Slim.” The most striking feature is the new black gloss finish of the Xbox 360… one that is prone to smudges and fingerprints but also looks like a cheap Xbox 360 knock off. Microsoft have also opted for a touch sensitive power switch as well as a touch sensitive disk tray eject button. The new Xbox 360 is close on four centimetres smaller in height that the

previous model. One of the reasons this is possible is due to the fact that the hard drive is located inside the Xbox 360 and not on top as was with the older versions. The hard drive is still removable but requires users to pull on a small fabric tab that will pops open a plastic cover, revealing the hard drive. One to many, or even one good tug on this tag could result in it breaking off and making removing your hard drive an added issue. This is easily remedied by the fact that you should have no reason to remove the hard drive in the first place. The new Xbox 360 also have a new Valhalla 45 nanometer chip, designed with integrated CPU and GPU. There are no changes to the processing speed, nor is there an enhanced graphics processor. This new chip will improve energy consumption, run cooler and operate a lot let quieter. The two fans cooling the unit have not been replaced with one fan, as electronic devices still heat up and need cooling, unfortunately. New to the new Xbox 360 is the fact that there are no slots for any memory

units. The last update to the console added the feature that allows gamers to save data, install games and move profiles to USB Flash Drives. Spin the Xbox 360 around and we notice that there are now 5 USB ports (Three on the back and two on the front) That’s great… I can remember all the times we have tried to connect all our Guitar Hero or Rock Band peripherals and had to leave a friend on the couch due to the fact we could not find a spare USB port to connect him with. There is the typical LAN port for connecting to a network, the HDMI port, an upgraded digital audio port and a special auxillary port for connecting the new Kinect to your Xbox 360. Interesting to note is the fact that Microsoft have still not got it right to put the power supply inside the unit. The new Xbox 360 now also includes 802.11 b/g/n WiFi connectivity out of the box with no extra add on purchase required. With these much anticipated added features, as well as the addition of features we have waited some time for, we now see the Xbox 360 moving to where we felt is should have been when it was first released. I am still not a big fan of the outer casing but I guess I will have to get used to it. Again, I do understand why Microsoft have opted for this look. Our friendly neighbourhood Xbox 360 now needs to look cool with the Kinect, all while standing next to state of the art home entertainment systems. g

This page is provided by Xbox Gamer 42

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House of Mario

Have a Party by Brian Murdoch

T

he lights are low and the music is pumping. There is just me on the dance floor, surrounded by the music. Then I start to realise the crowd of people that are feeling the same way and dance alongside me, but in the distance… is that a light? Is that a TV screen? What do those four people have in their hands? When we talk about the genre that most Wii games can fall into - Wii Party Titles - we mean a small gathering of people at one’s home; around 3 to 10 people. This is when players take turns, or even four playing at the same time in a fun, competitive game. The games just seem to draw you in and players don’t mind doing things that they don’t normally do in front of others, almost like some form of hypnosis. Why does the Wii come through as a general party console? Other consoles offer multiplayer… why are they not considered party consoles? There are a few reasons, but here are the main ones. The Wii is very user-friendly. All the programs and procedures that are developed and created for the mass population need to be user-friendly, or they will not be used. With the Wii’s point and click feature and generally basic controls it seems like a simple extension to your arm. The most complicated operation that needs to be explained to a new user is where the “B” button is. The ‘humiliation’ is not that bad, as long as everyone is humiliated in the same way. Even when players need to

take turns in the game to make their bodies move in the funniest ways, they are comforted by the fact that they will sit down afterwards and laugh at the next person doing it. Laughter is commonly associated with Wii multiplayer game play. If you’re the only four plonkers at a LAN waving your arms to Rabbids dancing, or if it’s playing We Cheer in front of your family, there will be laughter. It is closely associated with the humiliation, but the only memories that remain are that of having loads of fun and not necessarily the things that you did. Some of my favourite Wii Party titles are Let’s Tap, Just Dance, and Mario Kart. Mario Kart is the all-time classic kart racing game. It is very easy to get into and the power-ups in the race give even the beginners a chance to win. Just Dance, at face value, does not look like anything impressive but once players let loose and try to follow the dance moves they will get into party mode. Let’s Tap is truly an original and unique game for the Wii. It is played by placing the controllers on a box that the player taps.

The remote senses the vibrations. Yes, the Wii remote is that sensitive. At first players will not understand what is going on, but after the first few stages of running man they will get very competitive and start tapping too hard (which makes the man jump) giving others the opportunity to run ahead. If you have tried speed walking, you’ll understand the restraint needed to play the game. The best thing is to pull out older games and relearn them with newer players, make mistakes and (in my case let them win a bit) so that they can enjoy it as well. So open the chips, invite some friends over and get some new Wii Party games. g

This page is provided by Nintendo Gamer 44

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72 International Cricket 2010 Get in the crease

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76 Singularity First person time jumping...

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t would be tempting to just keep typing StarCraft 2 over and over again for this month’s review intro. This long awaited game has finally arrived, and we lead off our review section with it in this issue. But there are other games that we take a look at that bear mentioning, of course, so we won’t be typing StarCraft 2 too often. This month marks the last of the quiet months, before things get hectic in the video game arena, and we are already seeing some big names appearing on shelves. These include Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, StarCraft 2, LEGO Harry Potter, StarCraft 2, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, StarCraft 2 and International Cricket 2010. Oh, and did we mention StarCraft 2? g

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gamecca contents • issue 14 • August 2010


StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty

The Battle Continues …after a 12 year wait

by Walt Pretorius

R

ight in the beginning of StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, Tychus (one of the game’s main characters) utters his first words: “Hell, it’s about time.” While this does relate to the game’s story, it also echoes the feeling of a great many gamers out there. See, just about everyone who finished the original game and its Broodwars expansion have been waiting for the inevitable sequel. The wait has been a long one… with Broodwars having been released in 1998, gamers have spent twelve years chewing their nails in anticipation of StarCraft 2. On the 27th of July, 2010, the wait ended. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty hit the shelves. The big question, though, for those that played the previous title, is whether the game was worth the wait… the simple answer is yes, it was. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty takes place several years after the events in the original series. The player finds Jim Raynor, the Terran Hero of the previous games, living a secluded life on a far flung world, away from the conflict that cost him so much (including seeing the love of his

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life turned into the hideous Zerg matriarch, the Queen of Blades.) When his old friend Tychus shows up, though, Jim is thrust back into the struggle. And that is all we’re going to tell you about the story. The rest you’ll have to find out for yourself. StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty is the first of three releases that will make up the entire StarCraft 2 basic stable. Each of these will feature a campaign related to the three races that battle for supremacy in the game, namely the Terrans, the Protoss and the Zerg. Wings of Liberty presents the player with a lengthy single player Terran campaign. The campaign is a great way for newcomers to learn Terran tactics, while veterans can use the slow roll out of new units and concepts to relearn the game, and come to grips with what is new. While the campaign is understandably linear, there is a bit of freedom in the way that players can, at times, choose which missions they want to do. The player will be wise to go through all the missions, though, because the final battle is a big one, and unlocking all the units (each mission generally adds

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


something new to the player’s arsenal) is pretty much vital. Many of the abilities that are unlocked during the single player game aren’t perpetual. They either need to be researched in multiplayer or skirmish games, or aren’t present at all. While the single player campaign is great fun, and a very rewarding experience, StarCraft has always been about the multiplayer aspect of the game. To this end, developers Blizzard have set up a very robust new version of Battle.Net, their free-to-play (for StarCraft 2, at least) online portal for all their games. The catch is, though, that you will have to play the game through this service. There is no LAN support built into StarCraft 2. When this was first announced there were more than a few grumbles, particularly here in South Africa where LANning is still a primary avenue for social gaming. With our internet infrastructure still being upgraded, as well as the high cost of bandwidth, people were concerned that playing StarCraft 2 would become a very expensive exercise, and

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

that current internet services wouldn’t be stable enough for the game. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The game uses around 4MB of bandwidth per multiplayer match. Skirmishes against the AI and the single player campaign use virtually no bandwidth at all. These can be played offline as well, but the structure of the Battle.Net service makes playing online a great option. Even though there is no data traffic taking place, other players will be able to get hold of the player, thanks to a solid friends list that spans all of Blizzard’s releases. Whether playing the campaign, the numerous challenge missions (which are a great idea, as they can teach the player a lot), a skirmish against the AI or a 2v2 multiplayer game, StarCraft 2 doesn’t hog bandwidth. There is a patch to download after install, but at the time of writing it only amounts to around 100MB, which (these days) isn’t too bad. We also tested the game using a 3G connection, and had not one whisper of a problem in terms of reliability. We did see some other players who seemed to lag a bit, but we’re

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guessing this was related to hardware, rather than internet connectivity. While StarCraft 2 is a scalable game, playing it at the highest settings (and smoothly) does require decent PC hardware. Possibly the best aspect of the game is that the developers seem to have taken the approach of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Veterans of the previous title may notice new units, concepts and research items, but the essence of the game remains exactly as it was. The graphics may be vastly improved and the game dynamic may be smoother, but, essentially, it’s an extension of the original StarCraft in more than just spirit.

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As before, there are three races: the human Terrans, the hive-minded Zerg and the spiritually powerful Protoss. While anyone who has played the Terran campaign should be more than familiar with that faction, people wanting to play Zerg or Protoss in multiplayer matches will be able to practice in AI skirmishes, or take advantage of the 50 ‘training’ matches that the game grants each player before tallying their multiplayer performance. All three races are dependant on two resource types: minerals, which are harvested from crystalline deposits, and vespine gas, which issues from the ground via geysers. Using these resources, the player constructs a

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


In the end, StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty really is more of the what we had before. But, considering that the original was arguably one of the finest PC games ever created, more of the same isn’t a bad thing. In truth, it’s exactly what fans of the series wanted. StarCraft 2: Wing of Liberty was well worth the wait, and anyone who is an RTS fan, or is looking for an exemplary PC title, shouldn’t think twice about snapping it up. The graphics are incredible. The sound is awesome. The game dynamic is addictive and beautifully balanced. Blizzard have done it again – they have delivered a sublime gaming experience. g

AT A GLANCE: The follow-up to StarCraft is everything we hoped for, and more. Developer: Blizzard Publisher: Activision Blizzard Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

base, readies an army, and attacks his opponents. It’s a simple idea, but the strategies and tactics in the game are numerous. Perhaps that’s why the original game was so popular, and why the second instalment will go a long way to keeping the franchise in the position of definitive of the real-time strategy genre. To use an old saw, it’s easy to learn, but difficult to master. The controls are as uncomplicated as they were in the first version, with many of the key shortcuts remaining identical to what they were before. In fact, the controls haven’t changed at all, except for a few additional tweaks and streamlines.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

95 63


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11

The Tiger’s Tail Has the empire sunk its last ball?

by Jimmy Glue

T

he Tiger Woods franchise, now in its eleventh editions, has been a great source of excitement for those who can actually play golf, and been a source of frustration for those who still practice. Electronic Arts opted to make a few changes to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, and not all of them benefit the different skill levels equally. The major inclusion in this year’s iteration is the fact that player will be able to take part in the Ryder Cup. For the first time in the game franchise’s history, golfers can join Corey Pavin, Colin Montgomery and Tiger Woods in the bi-annual tournament, which pits the US against Europe. Not only will players be able to play in the tournament, they will also be able to partake in another first. The game includes a 24 player online multiplayer mode allowing game players to compete in the Ryder Cup online. The title also included a golfer creator, where new players can create their own golfer, with customisable hair, clothing and clubs. The EA Game Face can also be used to

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download a digital photograph of the player and insert it into the game for a bit more realism. Speaking of realism, the game seems to be slightly harder than previous versions. The three-click button system can be used, but the analogue swing is still a challenge in the Xbox version. Although the game will give the player a suggested strength to make a certain distance, that should only be used as a guide under perfect conditions, which is never really the case in practice. It is also easy to forget that when it rains, the greens will be slower. It goes without saying that when teeing off, wind speed and direction should be taken into account, but luckily on the easier difficulty, player will be able to spin the ball mid-air, allowing for a bit more off-the-ball control. Starting with a new player is a bit of a tedious task, as they virtually have no skill to speak of. That is where the Skill Challenges come in. The Skill Challenges aim to improve of power, accuracy, control and putting. A selected amount of real-world golfers, including Retief

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but golfer likeness might need some work. Tiger Woods himself looked better in Tiger Woods 10, even though EA added flowing hair and textured clothing. The game should only be approached by those who have played the previous Tiger Woods games, but it might also be suited for someone who really enjoys the relative difficulty of golf. The title has evolved to the point where it is no longer a game, but is venturing into the territory of sports simulator. Those who don’t really enjoy golf, or don’t take the sport too seriously, will find almost no satisfaction in playing it. They might even find it incredibly frustrating, as there are just too many factors to take into consideration before making a swing. But those who know what they are doing, truly understand the mechanics of golf and know how to use the system to their advantage, will gain endless hours of joy from it. The level of customisation is highly applauded, as well as the time and effort that went into developing it. g

AT A GLANCE: Although the game could be fun, a lot of work in needed to fully understand it. Developer: EA Tiburon Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: Electronic Arts SA

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Goosen, will pose a number of challenges with each section, and completing these challenges will earn the golfer more XP. These can be spent on improving skills, but also to purchase various items such as celebrations, new clubs and attire. The ability to boost the first swing has been retained, but the putting system might prove a bit of a struggle for new players. The game tried to improve the accuracy and precision by introducing a new putting system, but the traditional three-click seems better. It’s also difficult to read the greens, and Putting Previews should be used sparingly. This is because they use focus, another new addition to the game. Where the player could previously put added power into the ball at leisure or spin it as they liked, these actions now consume focus. Focus is also used to increase accuracy, but it is in limited supply and replenishes rather slowly. The graphics seem to have been improved in some areas, but then drag a bit behind in certain aspects. The level of course detail and shrubbery is well-done,

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

79 65


Demon’s Souls

A new level of difficulty! Having an out of body experience?

by Brian Murdoch

D

emon’s Souls is a third person fantasy RPG that brings a new definition to difficult in terms of games. Everyone that I talk to that has played this game seems to think that it is too hard, but I feel that gamers have been spoon fed so much that they have forgotten how to hunt. Think of the old classic games and their difficulty levels, and the insane punishment of restarting the player from the beginning of the chapter and not just the closest check point. An example is the first Prince of Persia. I’m talking about a game in which one good powerful hit will kill the character out-right, and not just put some red on your screen (and if the character just hides behind a bunker for a time, he will have full health). I think most superheroes will die when taking an explosive arrow to the head, but it wouldn’t happen in Gears of War. Demon’s Souls has this difficulty ideal at its core, but there are many rewards (which will be explained later). Players will take control of a character and pick their appearance, name, gender and starting class. There are 10 starting classes to choose from, which range from

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knights to barbarians and from thieves to magicians, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. This starting class will also determine what starting gear, weapons and types of magic the player begins with, and sets the style of combat and general play for that character. The story begins in the kingdom of Boletaria, which was ruled by King Allant XII. The King was a man in continual search for more power and wealth, no matter how much he already had. He found a dark ritual that channelled the power of souls for the benefit and prosperity of the kingdom… until that debt had to be paid back. A deep colourless fog surrounded all the land, cutting Boletaria off from the rest of the world. Anyone that went through the fog from either side was never seen again. The ritual had awoken the Old One, a great demon that was bound below the Nexus. The Old One’s return brought hordes of Demons that feasted on the souls of men, leaving the bodies that remained insane and violent. There were many that braved the fog, including the character that is controlled by the player. They walked into the fog without

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


performed in real time, allowing creative ways of killing your opponents. If the player messed up, they die, and are returned to the Nexus, which will allow them to retry the chapter… from the beginning. All the enemies are reset and the fight will start all over again. If the player completes a chapter, they get to keep (and spend) the souls they harvested (and if they don’t die, they get their physical body back.). The souls are used as currency in the Nexus, to purchase new weapons, equipment and abilities. When in spirit form your health and stamina are halved until a bigger Demon spirit is killed; this will yield enough power to get back your body. It’s not an overly complicated story and it’s a very well put together game, with tons to do and see. But it earns a “hard-core gamers only” badge because of its extreme difficulty… this one is not for the faint hearted or easily frustrated. g

AT A GLANCE: A simple yet extremely difficult RPG, Demon’s Souls is perfect for hard-core gamers. Developer: From Software Publisher: Namco Bandai Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

holding back. This would be the hero to defeat the Old One and protect all of the world. The option of skipping the tutorial is given to the player in the beginning of the game but this is very unwise to skip if you have never played or seen it played. Even if a new type of character is being created, it is good to try a few moves in the very basic first stage. The main point of the tutorial stage is to fill in some of the story, and at the end of the stage you die! Yip, no escaping it… the boss at the end is nearly impossible to beat and is there to make sure the player’s character gets solidly trounced. Some veteran players have done it before and killed the boss with epic skill and time, but all it yields is some cool weapons and they die anyway. Dying is an important part of the game, as the reality that no character will live through all of the fights is reinforced… and the Nexus will need to catch the character’s soul and give the player a chance to get back their body. The controls and fighting in the game are very impressive as light and strong attacks or blocks are

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

88 67


LEGO Harry Potter:Years 1 - 4

Pottering with Blocks Another franchise goes LEGO...

by Walt Pretorius

T

he LEGO game idea has spanned three popular franchises in the past: Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Batman. Now a fourth has been added to the list in the form of the Boy Who Lived. JK Rowling’s creation, Harry Potter, has been given the little plastic block treatment, and the result is a game that is fun, fresh and highly addictive. The LEGO games have always been fun, thanks to their excellent recreation of the subject matter on which they are based, as well as the irreverent attitude they take to that subject matter. But, aside from characters and settings, there really hasn’t been much of a difference between them. We’ve been to Tatooine and the Amazon with these games, but the overall dynamic hasn’t changed much in any of the previous versions. You can read that another way, of course… the game-play was getting old. It seems that developers Travellers Tales were well aware of the problem, because LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4 brings a very different feel with it. Sure, it’s still a LEGO game, and the basic principles are the same, but additions and tweaks to these ideas have made a massive difference

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to the overall experience that it offers. The obvious change is that the game has a different setting. Now the player will be able to explore a LEGO version of Hogwarts, which is a sprawling environment that allows the player a lot of freedom. The magic school has been recreated from the films, and events that play out in the game are based on the movies, rather than the books (hardly surprising when you consider that the game is published by Warner Bros, the same company that did the films). There is a lot to do in Hogwarts, from collecting studs (which is common to all the games, and serves as currency in this title) through to gathering Hogwarts crests and more. The free roaming that the game allows implies (as do the myriad items that suggest interactions later on) that the player will be revisiting areas time and again to access things they couldn’t get to before. This is a fantastic concept, but it also adds a bit of trudging to the game. The player will be able to make use of 167 unlockable characters through the course of the game, and will be able to learn new spells and abilities as they go through

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


The Philosopher’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire) thanks to an intuitive split screen implementation that only splits the screen when necessary. This is one of the best implementations of split screen we have ever seen. The game doesn’t feature too many boss battles, and vehicle sections are mercifully kept to a minimum (because they were nasty in other LEGO titles). On the whole, the game is a beautifully presented, fairly forgiving title that shines above a few of the previous LEGO games. It’s great fun for the whole family, and well worth playing, offering tons to do and lots of humour for those familiar with the Harry Potter stories. g

AT A GLANCE: A great adventure for the whole family, based on the Harry Potter universe Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: Warner Bros Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

the various chapters in the game. That’s where going back to redo things comes in. Take, for example, polyjuice potion. Learning to use this potion will allow the player to change characters at conveniently placed cauldrons. Need to get through a door that will only allow Hufflepuff house students access? No problem… simply use polyjuice to assume the form of a Hufflepuff character. The catch is that you may come across such a door in the first chapter, but you’ll only learn the skill in the second. I am sure you see what I am getting at. It’s great fun, and the use of different magic spells allows the player to interact with the world of a LEGO game like never before. Wingardium Leviosa, for example, will enable the player to construct individual LEGO blocks to solve puzzles. Previously, construction was kind of automated, and while there still is automated construction this time around, the puzzles add a new dimension to the game. The game also features a drop-in / drop-out multiplayer, which is brilliantly handled this time around. Players can play through all four chapters together (which cover

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

83 69


International Cricket 2010

In the Crease Hitting the old leather for a six

by Author’s Name

S

ports games in general are fairly complex. There is no sport without a rule book as thick as a brick, and sometimes the concept might be hard for others to grasp. These sports don’t make very good games, as the development of the mechanics involved will turn the game upside-down. But video game makers will always try to figure out a way around the complexities, delivering a game that everyone will understand and have a fun time playing. Codemasters recently released International Cricket 2010, and while the concept is stable, the mechanics leave much to be desired. The game is a spiritual sequel to Ashes Cricket, and gamers who played it will know what’s in store with the next iteration. Starting off with a rather lengthy threepart tutorial, players are shown how the controls work for batting, bowling and fielding. It soon becomes evident that the time spent in the tutorial is totally unnecessary, as the developer overexplain basic settings. Fair enough, they probably have to take in mind that not everybody knows the basics of cricket, but it could have been better integrated into the first match.

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With the tutorial done and dusted, it’s time to pick a team. The player can pick any of the 16 major cricketing nations, but there is a bit of a twist. The game is only licensed for the Australian Cricket Board and the England Cricket Board, so the player names for the other nations are all wrong. While one could play with Mitchell Johnson for the land of Oz, South African fans will have to settle for AB Devollear, Gavin Smythe, Dave Stern or even Afly Mokrel. It took awhile to figure out who Freddy De Dry was, but it soon turned out to be Friedel de Wet. Oh, the wit… Luckily there is an option in which gamers can customise their squads and players, so if having AB Devollear in the team is going to be an irritation; he can be painstakingly changed to AB de Villiers. Unfortunately the different team logos can’t be changed, as the SA emblem bears a closer resemblance to that of the John Deer logo than a springbok. [And certainly looks nothing like a Protea – ed] Naming issues and rights aside, it’s time to take to the pitch. Matches can be played in the traditional ODI or Tests, but the game also includes the quicker T20 version, where each team only gets 20 over to pile up the runs.

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


orange, the ball might go foul, and as it’s moved around it will become different shades of green. Light green will be the most profitable, and is generally the sweet spot. To successfully deliver a ball, the player will have to press yet another button as a meter races from orange to green. Once again, the green is best, and when pressed the ball will be released. Playing against AI is a bit of a gamble as to how they will react, but aiming for the batter’s heel will mostly result in a wicket or dot ball. The game’s graphics are fairly standard, but the only real redeeming thing about International Cricket 2010 is the use of the Hawk Eye system for third umpires are replays. Otherwise, the mechanics feel a bit stiff and unrealistic with generic commentary. [There is that whole new Action Cam view point thing… like third-person perspective? - ed] The game has its moments and cricket lovers might find some fun in it, but it should only be approached by true enthusiasts. At least there is the possibility to play at the Johannesburg, Cape Town and PE grounds. g

AT A GLANCE: The successor to Ashes Cricket, International Cricket 2010 raises the sport’s bar. Developer: Trickstar Games Publisher: Codemasters Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Winning the toss will result in the player having to select the option to bat or bowl first, but the real fun lies in batting, so it’s recommended to go for that option. There seems to be no difference in choosing either one first, besides for the change in commentary. Stepping up to the crease, batting is actually fairly easy. Well, it’s easier than what the tutorial made it out to be. The basics are simple; select a foot to play on (back foot or front), chose a direction with the left analogue stick (which also determines the strength) and decide what type of stroke (defensive, drive or loft) will be played with corresponding X, A or B buttons. Just before the ball lands on the pitch, the button is pressed and is followed through with the shot. If the fielders are in the right (or wrong) place, virtually any ball can be hit for at least a four. It’s an even easier task to bowl. After selecting the bowler, and depending on their style, the player will have a couple of options available. Making an example of a fast bowler, before he starts his run, the player can chose between a straight ball and a slight swing. As he runs up, the player will see a circle on the pitch, which should be moved to the desired area. If the circle is

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

68 73


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11

The Real Swing It keeps getting better

by Brian Murdoch

T

he reviews on the next title in a franchise will generally consist of the things that have been added and the changes compared to the previous title, and this review will do the same, as well as focus on aspects of the Wii version. However, for those that have never played a golf game on the Wii, let’s quickly go through the basics. Pick one of the famous golfers or make your own. Take that golfer onto the virtual golf course and, surprise, play golf. The truly excellent part of this game actually comes from the technology provided by the Nintendo Wii. In previous golf games controls used relative motion, with controls not being able to take realistic actions into account. The Wii Motion Plus changes all of that. It recreates a true swing, playing the ball as if there was a golf club in your hand. I’m not just saying that because it sounds nice… it’s true. It’s so realistic that my real-life

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golf buddies and I post similar scores on real and virtual courses when we play together. There are some major changes to the new golfing system in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, and these are big steps towards improving the realism of the game. There are new True View and Focus systems. True View lets players look at the ball and shots as if they were on the course. Moving the Wii remote and Motion Plus in this view gives the player true feeling of how accurate it is, watching the golf club sway and move around the ball. The Focus System is part of the custom character development; the player can select an attribute that their golfer would like to improve… performance in the round determines how much it improves, if at all. If the player is not up for real golfing and the arcade feel is what they’re after, or if some of the true-to-life features

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


game. The player can chose who they would like to play as, representing the countries that those players would in real life. Tiger Woods denotes the U.S. team and Rory McIlroy for the Europeans. In previous titles there were a range of mini games to break and add more variety to the golf game, like Target, T-I-G-E-R, Capture the Flag and Target2Target. In PGA Tour 11 there are a few more. Shooting Gallery requires the player to hit as many targets as they can before the time runs out. Ball Juggling demands that the player keep the ball in the air as long as possible. Last, but not least, Range Cart Showdown, challenges the player to speed around the range and pick up as many golf balls as possible. The mini games include all the enhancements from the game, so the Motion Plus accessory needs to remain on the Wii remote when playing them. g

AT A GLANCE: This is not just the next in the series… it has numerous new features and improvements on offer. Developer: EA Sports Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

are just a bit too much to take on, then the new difficulty settings will help. Players are able to pick and chose realism levels and what features are to be enabled. These can be changed as the game progresses, to get the player closer to a real game of golf. When a new golfer is created, the experience levels of that golfer are taken into account in the game. More experience is gained by hitting good shots and scoring well. These experience awards are naturally scaled according to difficulty levels and realism settings. Soon these experience points will take the golfer to the next level and they will receive a reward… maybe even a new sponsorship. The rewards are often skill points that can be applied to the golfer. Another of the biggest additions to the game is the Ryder Cup, with all the holes faithfully recreated in the

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

78 75


Singularity

Old and New Playing with time

by Walt Pretorius

D

uring the height of the cold war, Russian scientists discover a new, previously unknown element on a small island. Called E99, the new element has astounding properties that will allow the USSR to steam well ahead of its global competitors, and soon the small island of Katorga 12 becomes a hive of activity, as scientists and other workers begin investigating the properties of E99. But something goes wrong (doesn’t it always?) and a cataclysmic event puts an end to all work. Naturally, the West knew nothing about the Soviet research… in fact, they only became aware of the island after some strange events showed up on satellite images. And so they send in a team to investigate. That’s the story behind Singularity, a new first person shooter from legendary developer Raven. The game puts the player in the role of a member of a special military team sent to Katorga 12 by the US Government. Naturally, things go wrong right from the start.

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But we’re going to avoid spoilers as much as we can. Let’s just say that the player finds themselves in a blasted, ruined environment populated by strange, mutated creatures. In fact, from the word go, Singularity reminds one very much of Bioshock, particularly the first instalment of that franchise. The environment is beautiful in its ruin, with details put into the graphics and sound that aren’t often found in games. It beats Bioshock hands down in the visual department, but the similarities between the two titles are undeniable, and even a little disconcerting. Singularity starts out well, but soon devolves to become a fairly by the numbers shooter. At least, the shooting parts do. It’s a pretty stock standard game in terms of the first person shooting elements; the player can carry two weapons at a time, which can be modified at special stations scattered around the game world. Ammo can be found here and there, of course, and the game throws tons

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


plasmids did similar things. While Singularity is a very enjoyable game, it is less free than it should be (in fact, it is rather linear) and it is a definite (if not obvious) clone. It borrows many ideas from other places. While it does this well, and even improves on the implementation of these elements over previous titles, there is little originality in the title. The story is fairly good, and will keep the player coming back. Some of the special weapons that can be found here and there are awesome fun, too. In short, Singularity is worth playing, but it is hardly original. As long as the player isn’t expecting too much, it will provide an exciting and enjoyable first person shooter experience. In all honesty, I really enjoyed playing the game… but it doesn’t rise above some of the other competitors in the genre. It was fun, but it won’t blow anyone away. g

AT A GLANCE: A by the numbers shooter with a few interesting puzzle elements. Developer: Raven Publisher: Activision Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

of enemies (both mutant and human) at the player. The game has numerous frights and scary moments built in, specially for those that want to get their heart rates up. There are other elements, though, that set the game apart from other shooters. The first is the fact that the player learns to manipulate time. Aside from bouncing back and forth in the time stream at prescribed points in the game (to set things right after he himself messes them up) the Time Manipulation Device (TMD) that the player gets grants him some powers too. It, once again, feels a lot like Bioshock. However, the TMD allows the game to take on a puzzling aspect that requires a bit of thought beyond the normal approach to first person shooters. Many of these are movement and obstacle based. The TMD can be used to reverse or accelerate the time flow for specific items, which adds a myriad of possibilities for different challenges set for the player. Then again, Bioshock’s

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Score

18 77


Shrek Forever After

Spoiler Alert! Yet another Shrek adventure…

by Brian Murdoch

I

n the far, far away kingdom there was an ogre that wanted to be a “real ogre” again. Tired of being the friendly Shrek, with this wife and three children, the hero wanted to return to his roots. But to reach this dream, he made a deal with the wrong person: Rumpelstiltskin. The Shrek Forever After game and movie work alongside each other. I had the pleasure of playing the game before watching the movie, and learned that the game does give a lot of the movie plot away. It was clear from the game what I was going to see in the film. It was like watching a trailer that was too long and showed you most of the movie. As the Shrek Forever After movie was not an epic thriller or movie of the year it was not a tragedy that I knew what was going on, and the movie was not completely spoiled. Players play through the game as Shrek, Fiona, Puss and Donkey, switching between them to use their individual skills to conquer the little tasks in the way. Players just

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push a button to switch from one character to the next, and need to use the right one for the right task. Donkey is good at kicking, as most donkeys are, and this skill is used to open gates or knock barrels out of carts. Each character has a special attack that has the same basic stunning effect on enemies… Donkey’s is singing. Puss is a little bigger in this version (I will not tell you why because the movie explains it better). He is still a cat and climbs up walls and rope to get to those hard to reach places, even jumping on poles in a row to demonstrate that feline skill. Puss’s special attack is spinning around with his sword, which is very impressive for a cat of his size. Fiona, in this version, is a warrior and, armed with a sword and shield, she looks like she can deal as much damage as Shrek. Fiona is at one with battle… she meditates to knock out the surrounding enemies as her special attack.

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each player being one of the other characters) the job is done faster. Finding out how to get players into and out of the game is quite a challenge, but using the select or plus button with get that done. I set up the promo of the game at the premier of the movies and watched the kids play. It was quite interesting to observe their common behaviour. Each set of four kids found out that it was very easy and satisfying to beat up your friends rather than the enemies. This produces coins and does not hurt the characters… it just very annoying as it stops you, or makes you drop whatever you have in your hands. Players can get a lot of money out of this irritating activity. The story is fun, with each stage having an optional puzzle to do in single player or multiplayer… so fight and solve your way through Rumpelstiltskin riddle. g

AT A GLANCE: This movie based game is good fun, but is full of spoilers. Developer: Activision Publisher: Activision Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

Shrek is an ogre and what do ogre’s do best? They bash you around the ears and grind your bones to make their bread. Shrek, the strong one, puts his strength to good use to carry large object (usually barrels of oil) and place them in the right spot for Fiona to blow up. Shrek’s special attack is no surprise; a roar of epic proportions. There are a range of different task and puzzles that come up in the game and most of the time require a combination of two, three or all of the characters to get the job done. To load and shoot a catapult, for example, Shrek will need to find the heavy object to load into it. Fiona will then light the object and Donkey’s kick on the wheels will point the catapult in the right direction. When it’s ready to fire, Puss will need to jump on the front to shoot the flaming projectile. In single player thisa will require the player switching between all of these characters to get the job done, but in multiplayer (with

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Score

53 79


ge


et


Naughty Bear

Fluff ‘n’ Snuff A rather disturbing experience

by Walt Pretorius

V

iolent video games have been a cause for concern for some time now. The debate rages on, although these days it has taken a bit of a background position when compare to other issues surrounding the general world of computing (like South Africa’s current bugbear, which is the ease with which children can access pornography). Part of the problem could come down to responsibility, both on the parts of parents and of video game developers. Take Naughty Bear, for example. The concept behind the game is great. On an idyllic island, all the teddy-bears live happily together. But, as with most communities, there is one bear that they all pick on and treat badly. His name is Naughty Bear. When the degradation gets too much, Naughty Bear decides to take matters into his own hands, and exacts brutal, violent revenge on the other teddies. It’s a hilarious concept, and one that may have been a lot funnier if the developers didn’t take the violence of the game quite so seriously. The truth of the matter, though, is that while the game is oddly amusing (particularly to those

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with a twisted sense of humour) it is also rather disturbing. It’s not the blood (there isn’t any) or the fact that teddy bears are offing each other. It’s the gleefully gratuitous and graphic nature of the violence. It’s like Manhunt with stuffed toys. See, each weapon has a specific special kill move that the player can utilise on a weakened teddy bear. That’s fair enough. But the sheer violence of these moves is rather over the top. Watching a teddy bear get his head beaten to a pulp with a baseball bat, or get disembowelled by a sword is bothersome on many levels – and it’s not just me. I ran this past quite a few people to see if I was becoming a softy, but apparently my opinion is shared by others. What worries me in this particular regard is that parents – ok, they’d have to be myopic and dense – might not realise that this game is not really appropriate for youngsters. Violent video games aren’t just violent because they show blood and gore – the actions themselves are violent, whether it’s pixelated people or cuddly toys getting pummelled. And with an age restriction

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are not really more difficult to deal with than any of the other enemies in the game. It almost seems as though the developers used the shock value of the title to cover up what is, essentially, a very mediocre game. You won’t find yourself setting anything aside for some Naughty Bear play time. It’s the kind of game you will go back to if you have nothing else to play. A little more creativity in the game dynamics department (perhaps borrowed from the interesting ways of killing department) would have served this title well. Naughty Bear features a multiplayer component, which is fun for the first few times. However, this also devolves into the repetitive drudgery that characterises this game. It’s a little sad, really, that a great concept like this (we were very excited and amused when we first heard about it) has been approached from all the wrong angles. The emphasis has been put in the wrong places, making the game rather forgettable. It might become a cult classic, but it lacks the polish required for a mainstream hit. g

AT A GLANCE: A game that is disturbing, yet mediocre at the same time. Not for the kids. Developer: Artificial Mind & Movement Publisher: 505 Games Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

of 12, this game could very easily fall into the hands of youngsters, for whom it is wholly inappropriate. Right, time to climb off of the soap box and talk a bit about the game. The concept, as I said before, is twistedly brilliant. However, the execution of the title lacks similar levels of inspiration. Graphically, it’s not bad, with the characters and environment well represented. The sound isn’t too bad either, except for the narrator, who sounds like a veteran of too many kids shows. He’s appropriate, yes, but he’s also thoroughly annoying. The game dynamic has a few variables to it. The game will offer the player various challenges, aside from snuffing teddies. There will be missions in which the player has to snuff teddies in a sort of time trial. There will be missions in which the player has to snuff teddies without using weapons. There will be missions where the player has to snuff teddies without getting hurt. The formula is obvious, and the thought that went into creating variation in the challenges is just not enough. Sure, there are different types of bears, like cop bears and ninja bears, but these

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

55 83


Tournament of Legends

Fighting Mythology Does it sound cooler than it is?

by Brian Murdoch

T

ournament of Legends brings a mythological fighter to the Wii, but the game is still very similar to other versus fighter titles. The game seems to have been inspired by movies like 300, with a similar look and feel, right down to slow motion special attacks. Then again, considering the time period, the look and feel might be a coincidence. Customisation is a good element of the game. There are ten characters and each of them seems to be able to weld a different set of weapons. Some can carry two handed weapons but others can’t, so the wide range of weapons is limited to what the character can carry and fight with. This makes sense, as one would not be excellent with every weapon. The magical effect on those weapons can be used by every character and some will do better in combination than others. Each character does have his or her favourite

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and, in the single player challenge, once a character is beaten their power will be unlocked. Each combination of magic and weapon will give the character a range of special attacks, from Berserk to Clockwork missiles, Solar strike and more. Each stage has an event that happens (sometimes more than once during a fight) that both fighters need to avoid, or they will receive damage. These, and some special moves, will require a combination of movements with the Wii remote and nunchuk. It adds a good break from just swinging the Wii remote continually. The game is really easy, and while the fighting does get more difficult with each opponent, the fact that I was able to get all the way to the final boss with only one loss on my first attempt is a little sad. Now my skill in gaming in not a measuring stick for difficulty, but it felt like the challenge

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While reviewing Tournament of Legends I found myself comparing the title to other fighters on the Playstation 3. But that’s a little like comparing apples and oranges. I’m not trying to compare the consoles, as we know that the power of the PS3 and the functionality and fun of the Wii can’t be compared. The Wii fighter needs to be compared to a Wii fighter, and there are other Wii fighters out there… and then I realised that the game did something wrong. The graphics in the title are actually very good for a Wii title, but are they necessary? Good graphics in a Wii title are not what Wii players are looking for, so we will have to turn ourselves to other aspects of the game which, while they are there, left me wanting. The game ended up being too easy and too short. I hope that this game will not be held against the developers name, as their other games are good. But, realistically, Tournament of Legends only really serves as a good second option. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s a below average fighter, even for the Wii. Developer: High Voltage Software Publisher: SEGA Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

that the end boss gave would have been appreciated through all the fights. What does help is that as players fight and defeat the opponent they unlock and can use their weapons or powers in the next battle. Most of the character match ups are random until the end and players might find that using the previously obtained power is the next enemy’s weakness. Controls in the game are either with a Wii remote and nunchuk or classic controller. As with any Wii game there are movement attacks with the Wii remote but not with the classic controller. Normally, with fighting games, I would opt for the classic control style, but with Tournament of Legends there are combinations and a feel of getting into the combat with the Wii remote. With the ease of the game, no real precision is required… that would have been the only reason to go with the classic controller.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

55 85


Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Get Naked!

No, really, that guy’s name is Naked... by Walt Pretorius

E

very now and then a game comes along that just blows its competition on the same platform right out of the water. Sometimes that game even shows up other instalments in its franchise, across all platforms. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is that kind of game. And the most surprising thing is that it is exclusively on Sony’s diminutive PSP platform. I can hear the questions already. How can a game on the PSP trump titles from the same franchise that appeared on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3? Well, the answer is simple. Peace Walker is brilliantly put together, is incredibly deep, and will keep the player going for absolute ages in both single and multiplayer modes. It’s not the platform that makes the game, but the game that makes the platform (a small fact which people who persist in those stupid console war arguments seem to forget.) Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is set in 1974, before many events that took place in the games that preceded it, but also after events in games like Snake Eater and Portable Ops. Naked Snake is the leader

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of an organisation called Militaires Sans Frontieres (soldiers without borders) and accepts a contract for his paramilitary group to help Costa Rica after the country is apparently invaded. This kicks off what is arguably the best story in the franchise, thanks to the fact that it isn’t as convoluted as other tales, and doesn’t pose as many unanswered questions. The story is relatively straight-forward, and serves as an excellent backdrop to what is a deep and engaging title. There is tons to do in this game. From the numerous story based missions, through to the Extra Ops, which number over 100, the player will have a ball not only completing missions, but also managing the MSF organisation. The missions themselves are the standard MGS third person fair, and rely on the player’s ability to use stealth, as always. Set off an alarm or two, and Snake is in for a world of hurt. The missions are also rather straight forward, and not too many of them are very long. The

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(even if it comes down to gathering experience and better weapons) eventually, but they are incredibly frustrating. There are insane amounts of things for the player to do in the game, from managing troops captured in missions (who become part of the MSF organisation after that) through to making sure that every branch of the MSF is running smoothly. There is so much to do, in fact, that Peace Walker is almost too deep for its own good. This is not a game that you will run through once in a weekend. It’s an addictive masterpiece that will keep you coming back for absolute ages. This game won’t appeal to everyone. The stealth aspect of the game alone is one that doesn’t appeal to every gamer. But the stunning graphics, great sound and revamped control system certainly will draw some new players to the franchise. This game is a true testament to what the under-rated PSP is capable of, and is well worth playing if you’re looking for an engrossing, very deep action game to put in your pocket. g

AT A GLANCE: An absolutely awesome gaming experience for fans of stealth action. Developer: Kojima Productions Publisher: Konami Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSP Platforms

player can select kit, in terms of weapons and armour, before each mission. This is crucial to success… some armours, for example, allow added stealth, while different weapons for different tasks are obviously something that the player needs to look at. A nice aspect of the missions is that, for the most part, they are broken into bite-sized chunks. This means that the player will be able to change equipment mid mission – the missions themselves are broken into chapters, which means that the player will often be able to kit out with new equipment just before a boss battle. Some of the boss battles lead to one of the very few complaints we have about the title. See, all of the missions can be played as co-op missions. The games have to adhoc, but that’s ok. Having the ability to do it is awesome. However, not everyone will want to play through the game with a friend, which is fine. Until, that is, they run into a boss battle that is so insanely difficult, it’s almost impossible to beat as a solo operator. That’s a balancing issue. Sure, players can get around these missions

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

89 87


Backbreaker

Touchdown! Breakin’ some backs...

by Jimmy Glue

A

merican football is one of those sports that you either understand or you don’t. The principle is fairly simple; it’s like rugby, but you can pass forward and a defender’s objective is to tackle his opponent as hard as possible. 505 Games’ recently released Backbreaker takes the relative pain out of the sport, in the process making it easier to understand. After firing up the game, it is advised to run through the short tutorial. Well, it isn’t exactly short, but it concisely explains the basic moves in tackling, running, passing and evading a marauding band of puffedup athletes. The game isn’t licensed by any NFL teams (Electronic Arts have the exclusive rights to those), so all the team that the player can choose from are fictional, which is also ok, since the sport isn’t that huge in South Africa anyways. Having learned the basics and picking a random team with a nice ring (like New England Militia), the game play is rather straight forward. If the opposing team is kicking

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off, the game engine will automatically swap to the athlete who is best in line to catch the ball. A ring will appear on the field as to where the ball will land, and running into the vicinity will catch it. Then it’s a matter of running, ducking and spinning to gain the most ground before being thumped to the grass. This motion is usually short lived, as gaining first ground is a bit of an art. The camera angle is also slightly weird, and there is no talk of peripheral vision. So it’s onto the first down and time to snap. In between snaps, gamers will have to choose what type of play they will be running. As far as tactics go, there isn’t much, as it’s virtually impossible to tell what the opponent will be doing. But by selecting any random play under the Pass menu will at least result in some running. The player can automatically swap between athletes at any time with the press of a button, but the game will change to the quarterback by default before a snap. Once the ball is in play, passing to another athlete takes some

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


become a bit jumbled. If the player’s character missed a bone-crunching tackle opportunity, he will stop running, although the action is right behind him. Swapping to a different player (and random) is the best way to stay active in the game, otherwise the AI will take over. Speaking of hard tackles, the game’s mechanics employ the Euphoria engine; a dynamic physics engine that calculates physical interactions (including tackles) on the fly, rather than depending on canned animations. What this means is that no two tackles will ever be the same. Although the game doesn’t feature the NFL teams, it’s still highly enjoyable, and with multiplayer it can become a heated contest. The graphics are superb, with some highly-detailed stadiums and insightful commentary. As far as unlicensed NFL games go, this is probably as good as it will get. The controls are easy, the graphics are good and there is an extensive team and logo creator. It’s well worth a buy if you have even the slightest interest in American football. g

AT A GLANCE: Backbreaker is hugely enjoyable and puts a new twist on the genre. Developer: NaturalMotion Publisher: 505 Games Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

quick finger work. The game will slow down, allowing you to select who to pass to. It can sometimes become a bit confusing or overwhelming, as the speed in which a decision needs to be made is rather tough. If the pass is successful, the view will change to the runner and then it’s up to the player to bob-and-weave his way through until the touchdown. If he is tackled, it’s back to square one and the whole process starts over again. Without getting into too much detail, the process is generally repeated four times before possession is changed over. Defence works on the same principle, but instead of passing the ball, the player will have to do anything in their power to stop the opposing team from gaining any ground. Plays are once again selectable, but the best strategy seemed to pick a random play, position the given player slightly to the side of the pack and go straight for the quarterback after the snap. But if they manage to get the snap out, it’s where things

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

79 89


Clash of the Titans

Mash It!

Your thumb will hate you... by Walt Pretorius

W

e’ve said it time and again: movie games, in general, just don’t make the grade. In recent times we have seen a definite upswing in the quality of these kinds of titles but, for the most part, they still leave the player wanting at the end of the experience. There are some exceptions to this general rule, though, and Clash of the Titans tries hard to rise above the stigma attached to games released alongside movies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pull this trick off. As you might have guessed, the player takes on the role of Perseus, who is on a journey to take on the Gods of Olympus. The potential for game dynamics and new ideas that this idea lone brings up is astounding… just looks at God of War III, which featured a very similar idea. Clash, however, does away with originality and variation. The only thing you need to do to get through a quest is bash stuff. A lot. No matter what the mission, in fact, it all comes down to repeatedly hammering your light or heavy attack buttons to dispense with a number of foes. And what a number it

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is. Enemies just keep coming in this game. The problem is that they’re just the same guys repeated over and over again. Sure, you’ll get different enemies in different areas, but if you see more than three foe variations in a given mission, you’re in for a treat. The missions themselves have an uninspired structure that requires the player to bash his way through tons of enemies in order to find something, rescue someone or the like. The only puzzle element that enters quests is in trying to find out what you’re supposed to do; the mission briefs are often extremely vague, meaning that the player fumbles around locked areas, beating off endlessly respawning enemies in an effort to try and stumble across what exactly it is that they’re supposed to do. The game proclaims that you will get to slay over 100 mythological creatures… it doesn’t tell you that you will have to kill each one a billion times. Nothing wrong with tons of combat, of course, but there is no structure or creativity here… just thumb strain. This is further exacerbated by nasty controls. The

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


gets tedious. The game will also present the player with boss battles. These are generally far too easy, and bosses may be repeated in subsequent boss battles. There is also a multiplayer co-op mode, which allows another player to join in a supporting role. And we mean supporting… the guy using Perseus will still do the lion’s share of the work. At around 20 hours for a smooth play-through, Clash of the Titans is a long game. This would have been fine if the title wasn’t quite so bland and repetitive. As it stands, though, it gets torturous after around two hours. This game is a blatant exploitation of a big movie franchise. The attempts that the developers made to keep it accessible to less experienced players are insulting to those gamers. Worst of all is that a little creativity injected into the title would have resulted in a very fine game. This is a squandered opportunity. g

AT A GLANCE: A squandered opportunity, this is a mindless hack and slash title. Developer: Game Republic Publisher: Namco Bandai Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

camera is finicky, and the locking system is deeply flawed. The player may lose his enemy lock if the enemy changes altitude, and there is no way to change between locked opponents. When locked, the enemy’s health state is denoted by the colour of the enemy model. At certain times, (when they are weak enough) Perseus can drain energy from them (which was apparently common in Ancient Greece, because he gets the ability with no explanation, and no questions asked.) There are also options to perform killing blows, which will show the same animation (every time) and often give the player an extra weapon. These moves are governed by quicktime sequences but, instead of demanding that the player hits specific buttons at dictated times, it kind of lets you hit any button during the sequence. Bye-bye challenge… Speaking of weapons, the game offers a large variety of upgradeable tools of destruction. The thing is, the upgrade process is clunky, and the use of the weapons is unclear. The player can carry four at a time, but the amount of experimentation required to find the right tool for the job

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

40 91


King’s Bounty: Armored Princess

Fight! Click! Fight! Hexes and cursing abound

by Corey Schon

V

ery seasoned gamers may recall the original King’s Bounty, an old RPG which was most notable for the Heroes of Might and Magic it helped to inspire. That series has had over a dozen well-received releases over the last 15 years, and is cherished by many strategyminded PC gamers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, this game has more than a few things in common with that series. Not King’s Bounty, that is, but Heroes of Might and Magic. Armored Princess is really only related to King’s Bounty by name, that name having been purchased by publisher 1C Company and attached to a property previously known as “Battle Lord”. Armored Princess is actually the sequel to the original (remake) “King’s Bounty: The Legend” The word “strategy” has come up several times so far over the first hundred words of this review. In a sense, that’s indicative of this type of game - whereas most games classified as such involve a lot of resource gathering and meticulous preparation leading up to the occasional battle, Armored Princess is largely the opposite. The vast majority of the “strategy” in the game is about turning the tides in battles with enemy forces often larger and stronger than your own in your favor. It’s an interesting system, though not one without its quirks and problems. You play as the aforementioned Princess, Amelie. The

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overarching story that sets your quest in motion isn’t especially unique or interesting – demons invade your kingdom, you trip into a dimensional portal in search of the hero from the previous game, or some way to save your lands. The writing is generally solid, though – each of the different lands and races that you meet have a distinct flavor, and while no characters receive much in the way of character development, they all act and sound by and large like actual people (demons, lizardmen, ogres… whatever.) The game’s overworld is split into a number of islands, each of which are generally inhabited by a different race or sect. While it might initially seem like these would represent the different “levels” of the game (one for each of the shiny objects you have to collect to fix your demon problem), the game is actually mostly linear, albeit in a somewhat unusual manner. Certain areas of each island are inhabited by enemies significantly stronger than most – such that the game effectively shuns your attempts to so much as access areas which contain late-game quests and items. It’s a real annoyance that’s not immediately apparent, and leads to a lot of backtracking while attempting to complete some of the game’s many quests and side-quests. Backtracking is pretty rampant in the game, really. Your fighting party consists of various types of units that you hire by visiting different locations on the map (most of the

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


her companions, also providing stat boosts), give you a further fighting chance against enemy hordes which may well outnumber your own. It’s a fairly deep system, and winning against seemingly superior forces is a good feeling – though when you realize all the work it will take to shore up your forces again afterwards… Presentation is generally good. The game looks like a Direct X 9-based game, for sure, but its bright color palette and generally good art style goes a good way toward making the game easy to look at. Sound is there, but not especially notable – your average hacks, slashes, and the occasional explosion. Expect the game to last you at least a couple dozen hours. Furthermore, if you’re interested in this game (or you play and enjoy it), consider looking into the previous game (King’s Bounty: The Legend), and the upcoming King’s Bounty: Crossworlds. King’s Bounty: Armored Princess isn’t without its quirks and frustrations, but it is ultimately an enjoyable game that should have a lot to offer to people who like a decent dose of strategy with their RPG-esque games. g

AT A GLANCE: Not everyone’s cup of tea, but should definitely be on the radar for those who like strategy and RPGs. Developer: Katauri Interactive Publisher: 1C Company Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

shop-style locations will let you hire units). However, the type of units you can hire are entirely dependent on the place you visit. There are only a few locations in the whole game that allow you to hire the strongest units in the game – so you’ll either spend time travelling around, going back to the areas that had units that you liked and re-hiring them, or you’ll just make do with whatever units you’re able to procure. You’ll have to do this a fair amount, mind you. Battles can be tough. When your world-map avatar runs into an enemy, the game cuts to a hex-grid for battles. From there, it’s a turn-based strategy battle. You’ve got melee units, ranged units, and will eventually amass a spellbook to work with in combat. You can only bring as many units into battle as your “Leadership” stat will let you – this stat slowly works its way up as you level Amelie, and collect “banner” power-ups in the overworld map. It’s not hopeless, though. You’ve also got a pet dragon which assists you as a non-combat unit (essentially a second spellbook, but one that takes the shape of a cute dragon), able to drag up treasure from the battlefield and rain several forms of terror down on your enemies. These systems, along with companions (who provide stat buffs and other similar bonuses), character skills (skill trees that your main character can use to give improvements to all your armies), and equipment (given to Amelie and

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

76 93


Enlightenus

Hunt and Click Searching for some hidden objects

by Jimmy Glue

B

ig Fish Games, arguably the masters of casual games, recently released the hidden-object title Enlightenus for the PC. These type of games all tend to be similar in nature, but with their effort, they have given the genre a bit of a twist. The general idea of hidden-object games are to spot the highlighted objects given to the player in a bar at the bottom of the screen. The room, or location, is usually packed to the brim with everyday items, and only a keen eye will spot the needed objects. But Enlightenus’ device is almost in reverse to the norm. Instead of searching for the given items, the player will have to solve the room by looking for objects that go together. The player will still be given a list of objects to look for, but instead of looking for a pair of shears, players will need to find the sheep that goes with it. Another example is looking for a nest full of eggs when the clue, or

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object, is a dove. It’s a fresh take on the genre, one that has become very popular as of late, as it keeps the player guessing and trying out new combinations. Another thing that Big Fish did differently with Enlightenus is the use of animated objects. In previous games, the rooms were filled with static pictures, but with this release, as soon as something is discovered it will move. It can become a bit tricky at times, and it’s not always clear which objects go with hidden items, but luckily a hint system has also been included. Whenever a player gets stuck, it’s as easy as clicking on the item and then selecting the hint option, which will then highlight the area that should be searched further. The game isn’t just about locations filled with random items to be searched through – it has plot. The player will

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


good as they will ever get for a Big Fish game, and with an installation file of 196MB, players shouldn’t expect a lot. The graphics and detail are good enough not to make the title look bad, though. They have a certain charm about them, enough to make players feel guilty for quitting the game early. Primarily a point and click title, the area detection on some items can be slightly off at times, but it’s not a huge issue, as small direction inaccuracies can be expected in a room filled with literally hundreds of items. For lovers of hidden-object titles, Enlightenus definitely brings something new to the genre and they should find hours of fun sifting through random objects. Although the controls can react strangely at times, the graphics are decent enough and the sound is of middle-of-the-road quality. Everything is wrapped neatly in small package of pleasure. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s a fresh take on the genre, one that has become very popular as of late. Developer: Big Fish Games Publisher: Focus Essential Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

assume the role of one of the best detectives around, and for that reason gets summoned to children’s author Edgar Lee’s house to help him solve a mystery. All of Edgar’s novels have mysterious disappeared, and the player is tasked in tracking them down and returning them to the reclusive writer. But things don’t go according to plan, and players will find themselves trapped in the enchanted world of Enlightenus. All the object-searching does work towards something, at least, and after a room has been completed, a piece of the broader puzzle, and how to escape, will be revealed. The puzzle pieces can be anything from secret stones, to keys that open magical locks or even a map of the area. They all aid in locating the missing novels and it’s these interesting plot devices that will drive the player to continue. No offense to Big Fish Games, but the graphics are

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

68 95


Mah Jong Quest III

Finding Balance A little mental addiction

by Walt Pretorius

W

hile many gamers out there clamour for the latest and greatest titles, full of high end graphics and multiplayer modes, all packed in a special edition tin box with bells and whistles (and a free T-shirt) there is a vast number of people who prefer things a little simpler. Social networks have demonstrated this, with millions of people playing things like Farmville and Mafia Wars via Facebook every day. In fact, many games don’t sell as many copies in a year as these simpler games get players in a day. It’s astounding, really, but it makes absolute sense. Gamers are a minority, but people still like getting to play games on their PC. There are more complex games available online, too. Companies like PopCap have made a fortune selling simpler titles to the masses online. Throw the name Zuma out there, and the majority of the world won’t think of the South African president… they’ll remember a frog shooting coloured balls out of its mouth.

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One of the problems that arises with these kinds of games is unique to South Africa, and countries with similar infrastructures. Thanks to fluctuating, often unfavourable exchange rates, as well as the cost of bandwidth in this country, getting games in this fashion can be expensive. But there are companies locally, like Apex Interactive, that bring boxed copies of these games in, at a better price. Take Mah Jong Quest III, for example. This is a supremely addictive puzzle title that doesn’t pretend to be more than it is: a fun game. And you can buy it at your local game retailer, rather than use your credit card details online and burn through that ever-present bandwidth cap. Mah Jong Quest III presents the player with over 800 puzzles, using Mah Jong tiles as a basis. It’s not a Mah Jong game, as such (finding virtual versions of that complex and utterly brilliant game is difficult.) Rather, this game tasks the player with matching two Mah Jong tiles in order to remove them from a complex layout of tiles. The

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


strategy as removing matching pairs, and clever use of these special abilities can lead to very fast solution times, and big bonus scores. Even more variation comes into play on some layouts, as the player will need to match three tiles, instead of two. The simplicity of the game’s presentation belies its complexity. The graphics are very simple, although they are clear enough to play properly. The controls really come down to left-clicking with the mouse. But just because a game is simple doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. In fact, the highly addictive nature of Mah Jong Quest III is wonderful… and, quite frankly, it’s nice to be able to relax with a simpler title. Naturally, if you are into a hail of bullets and tons of action, this might not be your cup of tea. But, if you enjoy a challenging, enjoyable puzzle game (for that added mental stimulation) you could do far worse than pick up this title. g

AT A GLANCE: A challenging yet simple puzzle game, for those who want some cerebral stimulation Developer: iWin Publisher: Avanquest Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

aim is to clear all the tiles away. The idea is simple, but the game itself, in terms of strategic puzzling, is very complex. The game offers the player a few modes, like revisiting puzzles from previous games and the like. The main mode, though, is called Kwazi’s Quest, and tells the tale of a man who faces life’s challenges with the help of a magical Mah Jong tile set. The player will have to work through around 72 puzzles (of increasing complexity) to finish the quest, which also requires the player to make decisions about the way Kwazi approaches life. It’s hardly a CRPG, but it’s fun none the less. Kwazi’s Quest also brings a few variations into the traditional Mah Jong puzzle idea. The game features special tiles in most of the layouts, which may aid the player in solving each layout. Some raise tiles, others turn particular types of tiles into balloons which float away, and so on. The special tiles become as much part of the

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

69 97


Fritz Chess 12

Learning Curve Improve your game

by Brian Murdoch

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ince the 15th century people have been playing chess. It’s a board game with 64 squares on an eight-by-eight grid… there are a few different pieces and each piece has rules that govern how they can move. There are a few chess games out there that enable players to play the game, but what sets this one apart from others is the extra features that come in the game. For beginners there is not just a help file with the moves and a stack of reading to go through (which most people can find on the internet, anway). The game features instruction videos, starting from the basics of how the board works and the various notations. There is a video about each piece, as well as detailed instruction on the piece in question. Players might think that going through videos of a person talking to them about the rules will be just as boring as reading the dictionary, but these videos are actually highly beneficial, featuring a board to illustrate point. So, while they talk through the concepts of chess, they are displayed on the board at the same time. Players

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should not skip these videos if they feel that they know the basics, as there are also other rules that are taught during the first lessons. The video list is not limited to just beginner training courses; there are in-depth videos detailing tactics and strategy. There is a big list of opening moves and why players would want to start them, for example. There are even video recreations of famous games, explaining the moves and tactics that the players used in them. The videos are a great value-add to this title, and will prove beneficial to anyone who wants to improve their chess game. As players go into their first chess game they are asked to setup a profile so that the game can enable and disable certain features. Beginners will receive move assistance in the form of arrows to show (on the board) potential moves that can be made against them after a move, and possible follow-up moves to make. The colour coding is very friendly and anyone will pick up the system quickly.

gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010


Playchess.com does not just let you play online; there is a full list of up-to-date content on new moves and famous games, and videos that analyse those games. Don’t think that online is the only way to feel as if you’re playing an opponent… Fritz comes with comments from the computer. My first few games I played without sound, as I did not think it would need it, but when turned it up I found the game making audio comments about my moves. Fritz Chess 12 comes with a wide range of boards and viewpoints, allowing you to play your game in 2D or 3D, and includes boards with different colours and finishes. Even the look of the timers can be changed. This also continues into the game editing features and analysis of the game, from editing moves in a game or even pausing the game to ask the engine to calculate other possibilities. A very good option as a chess game. g

AT A GLANCE: This will be an excellent start for beginners, as well as a challenge for experts Developer: TBC Publisher: Excalibur Publishing Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 14 • August 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Fritz Chess 12 has a great system of going through each move and displaying the board and the Chess notation moves on the right hand side, allowing for detailed analysis of how any game fared for the player. The game can also be played through automatically, allowing the player to be a spectator. The program can even show the missed moves and opportunities to check opponents. For advanced players the game has different features to make them feel at home. There are the timing options and levels, from a blitz games to long games, for club and professional playing styles. Tournaments can be setup and played to add a competitive edge to the game if a normal chess game does not have enough pressure for you. The appealing thing about Fritz Chess 12 is that players can play chess both offline (against the computer) and online, against other humans. There are a few free chess programs that can be played online and these might have some appeal, but with Fritz Chess 12 players will become a member of playchess.com, which adds several benefits.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

76 99


gla


ad


s r e n n Begi o

t e d i Gu

D O GO NG I M A G

Unhealthy Gaming? W

hile quite a bit of noise has been made about the psychological effects that video gaming may (or may not) have on players, there is another field that possibly poses a greater threat, but gets far less attention. The effects of video gaming on the physical body are far more concerning, realistically, because they are likely to be more common. Yet serious injuries directly related to video gaming are not frequently documented. Almost every video game comes with an epilepsy warning. The flickering of a screen, although generally imperceptible to the naked eye, can result in people suffering from epilepsy experiencing seizures. This, however, is stimulation of a pre-existing condition, rather than a health condition brought about by video gaming. Three kinds of injuries and conditions have been directly related to video gaming in the past. The first is called Nintendo Thumb, although more recently it has been termed PlayStation Thumb. This is a repeat stress injury (RSI) that occurs mainly in the sufferer’s right thumb, and is the result of excessive pressing of buttons on a game controller. The condition is marked by numbness in the thumb, as well as blistering in the area where the thumb contacts the buttons. It may also be accompanied by pinpoint haemorrhaging and bruising. The second condition is one that is also common in

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industrial workers who operate machines like jackhammers. Colloquially termed ‘vibration white finger’, the condition is marked by numbness and a whitening of fingers and hands. It is caused by prolonged exposure to vibration, like the kind generated force-feedback controllers. Reported cases of either of these conditions are relatively rare, in terms of being related to video gaming. A third, more recent condition, causes tendon injuries in the hands and wrists, and has been dubbed Nintendonitis. Other injuries that have been ascribed to video gaming are literally injuries, rather than conditions like the three mentioned above, and are generally accident-related. A lot of these result from playing with the Wii a little too enthusiastically. Numerous cuts and bruises have been ascribed to these activities, but they really do come down to user error, rather than being the fault of the gaming itself. A number of deaths have been blamed on video game addiction, but only one can truly be related to the actual activity of playing video games. Seungseob Lee, a South Korean citizen, died after almost fifty hours of continual video gaming. He suffered a cardiac arrest. While documented cases of health problems arising from video game playing may be fairly rare, there are some very real physical dangers associated with the activity.

gamecca BGGG • issue 14 • August 2010


These are not immediate dangers, though, but rather ones that can develop over time, and are easily combated. Because video gaming is a sedentary activity, relying on mental activity over physical activity for the most part, conditions related to sedentary lifestyles are a risk for video gamers. These conditions can be very severe, and lead to death. The first result of sedentary lifestyle is a weakening of the muscular system, which increases chances of physical injury. In addition, a lower level of physical fitness is related to the immune system; those who lead a sedentary lifestyle may be prone to more illness and infections. As bad as those may be, they’re not the worst of it. Further conditions that may result from this kind of lifestyle are anxiety, heart disease, depression, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, vision problems and kidney stones. Some of these are painful or uncomfortable conditions – others are deadly. Video gaming is a highly enjoyable activity, but it’s addictive nature means that it can often become unhealthy. As part of a healthier lifestyle, there should be no problems. However, the gamer will have to act responsibly, and ensure that their gaming forms part of their life, rather than dominates it.

gamecca BGGG • issue 14 • August 2010

There are numerous things that a player can do to ensure that their gaming doesn’t become a burden to their body. The first, and most important thing, is to make sure that they impose limits on their video gaming time. Setting aside a certain amount of time for video gaming every week is a good idea. Sticking to it may be difficult, but self discipline (and a few timed alarms) will help to restrict time spent gaming. Additionally, players should avoid protracted periods of video game playing. If they do decide to play for long periods, it is best to take a break every 45 minutes to an hour. A five or ten minute break (preferably spent moving around) will stretch muscles and minimise eye strain. Joining a gym or getting other physical exercise on a regular basis will also help minimise adverse effects. A careful approach to diet is also a good idea. Eating healthily will help prevent many of the associated health problems. Skipping meals to play games is a bad habit that some gamers fall into. It comes down to a matter of personal responsibility. Parents would do well to teach their children healthier habits related to video gaming, but adult gamers themselves can easily fall into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle. Remember that video gaming should be an activity that forms part of a balanced lifestyle, rather than dominate all of a person’s time. g

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Stateside

Gimme Gimme! by Corey Schon

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ou might have heard that Americans have grown fat and lazy on top of a society which is built to cater entirely to our need to have gratification absolutely as quickly as possible. This is actually pretty much spot-on. You should really try it some time! There’s an unusual kind of pleasure in bringing friends over, buying a new game, renting a couple movies, and setting up your stereo system – while on your game console. To clarify, the technologies I had in mind were: Facebook, Games on Demand, Netflix, and Windows Media Extender (or Zune, if you’ve got one of those). I know that these aren’t all exclusive to US audiences, and I’m glad for that. We’re definitely the main audience for direct-distribution and social-networking technologies. It’s definitely a blessing and a curse. Really, it’s a study in practice on the extent to which we are willing to trade money for convenience. The results aren’t especially encouraging. In the last year, three of the four video/game rental stores near me shut their doors. The fourth isn’t doing especially well. It’s like that everywhere here – the “video store on the corner” doesn’t exist. Sales, and rentals especially, have been segregated into two very different markets over the last few years: you either buy straight from another consumer, putting your trust in other people, the post, and any other intermediaries to get you the product you want at the best possible price, or you go to a retail store and pay full price (plus taxes, if applicable) for a known quantity (that is, making sure you get what you want, the way you want it).

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More recently, a third option has emerged. Most popularized by Steam, direct download/distribution is an enhanced version of that second option. Users have their upsides – you know exactly what you’re getting, how much you’ll pay for it – and you can have it without having to leave the house! (I thought about saying “you can have it immediately!”, but it’s hardly immediate, even on modern internet connections.) Distributors and developers get their upside, too – they get their say as to how it’s advertised through the service, they get to set their own price, and best of all the product never depreciates in value unless they say it does! Practically a license to print money, assuming it worked! All they had to was get users to go for it. And really, they didn’t have to do that work themselves at all. Companies like Netflix – who

originally only sent DVDs through the mail – slowly helped foster in the notion that convenience was king in the home entertainment industry. Now developers are upping their costs on PC titles, especially through direct distribution – because they know they can put them higher, and keep them there longer. We continue to show our willingness to put up with it. Now game developers – and even retail outlets – have opened their own direct download methods, all in the interest of “giving the users the greatest possible convenience”… and keeping their pockets fuller than ever. I kind of feel like the whole model is a golden goose that lays rotten eggs: a great idea that invites a whole mess of problems that, on the whole, change the market for the worse. When you get some of these for yourselves, remember: with great convenience comes significantly lighter wallets. g

gamecca column • issue 14 • August 2010


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g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 4 • A u g u s t 2 0 1 0


The Big Picture Size does matter...

by Walt Pretorius

Y

ou simply cannot fault a big monitor. There is just something about having a massive screen on your desk to view either your work, or (more importantly) your video gaming. LG’s W2753V offers the user a glorious 27” of widescreen performance, in full HD. That means a resolution of 1900 x 1080. This size is, quite frankly, the biggest monitor you want to put on your desk. Any larger, and things get overpowering. Then again, any smaller, and they just don’t look as good. The 27” wide is a perfect size, for multiple applications. As a work monitor, this one provides an excellent size for full work functionality. As a gaming device... well, it’s great for any PC game, naturally, and those of us who use consoles at our desks could want nothing more. The size is great, the clarity is exceptional, and the combination of an HDMI input and headphone jack at the rear of the device means that any of the HD consoles will perform perfectly with this device. It may not be the cheapest monitor on the market, but it still offers all the versatility that the smaller screens feature - including ease of transportation. Monitors like this are a console LANner’s dream, with all the style of design and rugged contruction to match it’s excellent performance. As always, you will need to tweak the settings a bit to get the performance exactly where you want it. That said, the W2753V’s out-of-the-box performance and factory settings are close to where most people would want them to be. This is one of the better LG monitor’s we have had the pleasure of seeing. g

AT A GLANCE: Fantastic picture quality and a great size combine to make the W2753V an excellent monitor choice.

Score

90

Distributor: www.lg.co.za g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 1 4 • A u g u s t 2 0 1 0

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Bannco FRAGnSTEIN

A New Scheme A console controller for PC gamers...

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ne of the biggest complaints gamers making the jump from PC to console have is getting used to the control system, particularly in terms of first person shooters. The analogue sticks on the controllers give more than a few people pause for thought, and it takes some players a while to get used to the control system. Bannco have a solution, in the form of the FRAGnSTEIN control system for the PS3 (and for Xbox 360 gamers, there is the Xscorch, which is virtually identical to this one). This system takes the best of both worlds, and puts them together. The system is comprised of a wireless mouse and a device very similar to the Wii’s nunchuck. Between the two devices, every button on the PS3 remote is covered, and sensibly at that. As an example, the face buttons are positioned on the side of the mouse, where the player’s right thumb can get to them. They are arranged in such a way that the positioning of the player’s thumb, in getting to the various buttons, is virtually identical to using a PS3 controller. The system uses a plug and play system, and communicated with the console via a USB dongle. It might take a little setting up at first, where the first niggle might

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by Walt Pretorius arise. Getting the mouse sensitivity just right is difficult, and it has a limited degree of sensitivity. If you are very specific about your mouse settings, you may find this to be a downside. Another issue is that it requires a surface (like a desk) to utilise. If you play at a desk, or are willing to use another surface for the mouse, no problem. Other than that, it’s a great idea. It’s not an absolute ‘must-have’, but people who battle with console controls may find it easier to use than a traditional console controller. There will be an adjustment period, of course, in learning to use the FRAGnSTEIN, but it is a bit less of a jump for PC enthusiasts. Incidentally, the system can also be used with a PC, instead of a game-pad. g

AT A GLANCE: A robust and sensible system for those that like a mouse control style. Will take a bit of getting used to, though...

Score

80

Distributor: www.zaps.co.za g a m e c c a h a r d w a r e • i s s u e 1 4 • A u g u s txxx 2010


In the Lair

Getting Warmer... by thebanman

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he race to Spring has started. No more freezing cold walks outside, dark, gloomy days, frozen toes or chattering teeth. Pack away the Milo and get ready for warmer LAN gaming venues on the horizon. Here’s a list of the last winter LANs. Let’s start off in Cape Town, the Mother City. Organised Chaos: This month the event is from the 20th to the 22nd of August, at the Bellville Velodrome. The Velodrome is one of my favourite venues as it looks like the Chronosphere from the first Command and Conquer: Red Alert title. The standard fee is R120 (booking online) or R150 for a standard 10/100mb connection to the network; alternatively you could pay R170 (Booking online) or R200 for a Gigabyte connection to the network. Organised Chaos caters for roughly 800 gamers. For more details on the event visit http://oc.co.za/ Up the East Coast we go to Durban. Frag: James and our good friends at Frag are hosting this month’s event over our August Issues release date. So the 30th of July till the 2nd of August will see Edgewood College overrun with gamers. R120 (booking via EFT) or R130 at the door will get you in. Frag caters for roughly 200 – 200 gamers For more details on the event visit http://www.frag.co.za/

Now arriving at Johannesburg… Johannesburg caters to a large number of LAN events each month. The Mayhem LAN: Vapour and the gang will open their doors early on the 21st of August for its horde of gamers. Mayhem has always been one of my favourite LANs, as the gamers at Mayhem events are there to play games. (Novel concept) On the video gaming side, Mayhem has a large community of COD, Company of Heroes, Quake 3, DotA, CS, Left4Dead, Blur, Gears of War and Guitar Hero players. These titles span PC and Consoles, including Nintendo 64s and the occasional 8 bit console, if you ask nicely. They also cater for Magic the Gathering, WarHammer figurine games, various board games and other card games. Mayhem is really more of a monthly gaming expo than just a LAN. The Mayhem LAN caters for roughly 200 – 300 gamers. R60 will get you in the doors and for more info on this event visit http:// www.mayhem.co.za Liberty LAN: Crash landing on the same weekend as The Mayhem LAN, gamers will be congregating to get into Liberty LAN on the 20th of August. The Lair will be running a Guitar Hero and DotA tournament, so be sure to visit Liberty LAN’s website for details. Liberty LAN caters for roughly 400 gamers For more information visit http://

libertylan.co.za MPLD (Monthly Pretoria LANning Day): This month MPLD is taking place from the 27th – 29th August at the Kiepersol Community Centre in Centurion. This is a small but growing LAN that has a media server that play music and music videos over a sound system and projector throughout the event. R80 will get you into MPLD. MPLD caters for 200 – 250 gamers For more information visit http:// www.mpld.co.za FragArena: Noobab will kick open his doors on the 13th of August for two days. FragArena is a fairly new LAN, but has grown steadily over the last few months. Working closely with their sponsors, FragArena are always able to offer their gamers some of the greatest prizes, including a one terabyte hard drive for a random seat raffled at the event. FragArena caters for 100 – 150 gamers. For the gadget geeks – 25°44’1.52”S 28°14’33.27”E is all you need to find these guys. But for the rest of us there is http://www.fragarena.co.za/ Now that you have the low down from the LANning scene in South Africa, you are able to better plan your gaming weekends. With one last month of cold LANning venues we wish you happy hunting for the month of August. For the rest of you; see you on Battle.Net and StarCraft II. g

This page is provided by The Lair www.thelair.co.za


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From Space

Going Through the Motions... by Columnist A

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his motion gaming thing seems to be taking off. Nintendo didn’t pioneer it – the Wii was definitely not the first motion-based gaming device – but it did bring armwaving gaming to the masses. It’s also gained something the others (Sony and Microsoft) now realise they want: casual players. So it will be with twofold embarrassment that we see this situation unfold in the coming months. First, we’ll sheepishly have to admit that Nintendo was right. We all laughed at the little white console that could. Many awful puns were made in many big publications, but you know urine trouble when a device with a name like that is outselling your triple-core graphics powerhouse. (I’m so sorry.) However, my point stands: the Wii is popular, and now everybody’s taken enough time to stop laughing at how ridiculous they look when playing with virtual hula-hoops, they’ve seen that there are some damned fine games available for it. The second and third generation of movement enabled games on the Wii are really, honestly good.

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The second wave of embarrassment will be a bit more difficult than just eating humble pie. No sir, it’s going to be a hard lesson. Microsoft and Sony, each with its army of developers and partners, will do all the hard work for Nintendo: selling motion gaming to the masses. Sony will have to market the crap out of the Move and Microsoft will need to publicise the Kinect like it’s Moses coming back to town on a unicorn. They have everything to lose, while Nintendo just has to continue making good motion games for the Wii. Then, after they’ve sold a billion Moves and Kinects, they will have to focus on making games that aren’t rubbish. Face it, as cute as Kinectimals is – and I really, really want to pet a virtual tiger – it’s a game that forces the new platform on you. Move games are the same, foisting the new platform onto players that are used to holding a DualShock controller. And in the background, Nintendo is just nodding its head, selling a million more copies of Mario Motion Madness. Equilibrium will be reached, eventually. The clever developers

will realise it’s not about making players use the Kinect, but rather about making players want to use the Kinect. If that sounds confusing, it’s because it is. Think about it, though: would you rather play a game that frustrates you by making you use only motion gestures, or would you prefer a game where both the controller and Kinect are seamlessly employed as complementary input methods? It’s a rhetorical question. Obviously the second option sounds more appealing. And that’s where Microsoft’s solution is the better offering. I see more possibilities with the Kinect’s human-sensing camera than Sony’s gaming peripheral. The Move is a prop you hold, and is a permanent fixture in games that require it, but the Kinect is a more natural progression. I can still sit on my couch and use a controller, but it will recognise when I let go to wave my arm at something or use my head to look around. Plus, it has speech recognition, though I’m told won’t be able to detect my sinister laugh every time I troll a teenager in Call of Duty. g

gamecca column • issue 14 • August 2010



Gamecca Magazine August 2010