Issuu on Google+

i s s u e 8 / vo l u m e 1 - Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 0

11

e gam s! w e i v e r

Mass Effect 2 Darksiders Bayonetta Dark Void and more...

Defining The Genre

The History of BioWare

Hell Hath No Fury...

Darksiders reviewed

Shanghaied! Army of Two returns

Stellar Adventure Mass Effect2 is finally here!


18 © 2002-2010 Take-Two Interactive Software and its subsidiaries. Developed by 2K Marin, 2K Australia, 2K China and Digital Extremes. BioShock, 2K Games, 2K Marin, 2K Australia, 2K China, the 2K Games logo, the 2K Marin logo, the 2K Australia logo, the 2K China logo and Take-Two Interactive Software are all trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Digital Extremes and its logo are trademarks of Digital Extremes. Microsoft, Windows, the Windows Vista Start button, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are tra demarks of the Microsoft group of companies, and “Games for Windows” and the Windows Vista Start button logo are used under license from Microsoft. “PlayStation”, “PLAYSTATION” and “PS” Family logo are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All other marks and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.


12th February 2010 www.bioshock2game.com


Inside 6 From the Editor On this month’s cover:

The saga continues with the release of Mass Effect 2. See the review on page 46

8 Unstuck Simulate! 10 Geekology Strong start 12 A Choice Offering A brief history of BioWare 18 Previews Eighteen exciting upcoming titles 38 PS Zealot Investing in the future? 40 Xbox Beat What the big-wigs said... 42 House of Mario Have we seen the best already? 44 Reviews Eleven products for you to get hold of 68 Beginners Guide to Good Gaming Essential information for those new to video gaming 72 The Lair Get online now! 74 From Space Fighting games and humiliation...

4

issue 8 • february 2010


20 S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat 21 Sail Simulator 2010 22 Alice In Wonderland 23 Final Fantasy XIII 24 Command & Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight 25 Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising 26 Moto GP 09/10 27 Yakuza 3 28 Metro 2033: The Last Refuge 29 Silent Hunter 5 30 Supreme Commander 2

GAMECCA Volume 1 Issue 8 February 2010

Previews

31 Prison Break

Editor: Walt Pretorius

32 Bleach: The Third Phantom 33 Ship Simulator Extremes 34 Monster Hunter Tri 35 The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces 36 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers 37 Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll

Writers: Walt Pretorius Matthew Vice Jimmy Glue Brian Murdoch Bryan Banfield Dion Scotten Suvesh Arumugam Columnist A Photography: Walt Pretorius

46 Mass Effect 2

Design & Layout: Katia Taliadoros

48 Darksiders

Letters: letters@gamecca.co.za

50 Army of Two: The 40th Day 52 Bayonetta

Competition entries: competitions@gamecca.co.za

54 Dark Void

Newsletter subscriptions: www.gamecca.co.za

Reviews

56 SAW: The Video Game

GAMECCA is published by 1337 Media CC GAMECCA is powered by ISSUU

58 Vancouver 2010 60 LittleBigPlanet PSP 62 SingStar Motown 64 Medieval Games 66 Borderlands DLC Roundup

Copyright © 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2010

issue 8 • february 2010

5


gamecca • from the editor

The Syrup Pool by Walt Pretorius

T

he year has started with something of a soft sigh, generally speaking. While there has been a lot of enthusiasm for 2010, particularly with the FIFA 2010 World Cup coming to our South African shores this year, it seems that people are just not managing to get going. There has been a general lack of getting into work mode in the first month of this year… even here at the Gamecca offices, where work is pretty much synonymous with fun. It’s

been like trying to do butterfly-stroke in a pool full of syrup. Not so for the gaming industry, apparently. In fact, thinking back on the time that I have spent playing video games and trying to convince people that I am actually working, this is probably the busiest January we’ve seen in ages. The year, traditionally, is broken down into two kinds of times – absolute frenzy and absolutely dead, and January normally used to fall into the latter. This year, though, we’ve seen more than the usual amount of releases, including some rather good titles and highlyanticipated games. And the trend looks likely to continue, with big names like Bioshock 2, God of War 3, Command & Conquer 4, Dante’s Inferno and a whole lot of others hitting shelves within the first quarter of 2010. That’s pretty impressive, based on historical precedents. This time of year has never looked so good for gamers before, and the quality

of titles seeing early release speaks volumes for what will potentially be appearing on shelves through the course of 2010. Thankfully, it seems that the game releases have been spread out fairly evenly across the year, rather than being bottlenecked into a November feeding frenzy. Then again, we have to see what changes are made to release dates… those are always fun. Anyway, on to the issue. The astute ones among you will see that the issue is a little shorter than normal. That’s for a few reasons, not least of which being the fact that, despite games having been released at the beginning of this year, there weren’t hordes of them. Still, we’re happy to bring you the freshest releases in this issue (Mass Effect 2 just landed on my desk, and I foresee many long, crammed hours of play to make sure the review is done before we publish.) We haven’t changed much this issue (for a change) but you will likely see a number of new evolutionary steps in the magazine as we work towards our first birthday, a mere four issues away. As always, your input is very valuable to us in this process, and every suggestion, compliment and complaint we get helps us to turn Gamecca into the exact magazine you want it to be. So go ahead, send us a note at letters@gamecca.co.za... Even if it’s just to say “hi”. 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


gamecca • unstuck

Shivering Me Timbers... by Jimmy Glue

A

lluding to our preview of Ship Simulator Extremes, why aren’t more people excited about sail and ship simulators? A lot of people play endless hours of Flight Simulator, and in principle it’s the same game. I have a friend who refuses to play simulator games, and that goes across the board, including games like Guitar Hero or any Wii game that uses a peripheral. His theory is slightly impractical, but nevertheless, he believes if you want to do something like play Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you should learn how to play a real guitar instead. The same can’t be said for Ship Simulator or Flight Simulator, as it’s going to work you out a pretty penny to go for flying lessons. But that is still possible, where as training to steer half-million tons of vessel across the open ocean will take you years of training. So the next best thing would be to crack open a fresh copy of Ship Simulator Extremes and try your hand at navigating the high-seas as you struggle to control an oil tanker, or deliver passengers to their next exotic destination. I can’t think of any other simulator game, except maybe for Flight Simulator, which will require your undivided attention, let alone navigational skills and map planning. The virtual sense of freedom, while knowing you have millions of dollars of equipment under your feet, is what gets me excited. [you know it’s not

8

real equipment, right? – ed] Without being biased in any way, I truly can’t wait for Ship Simulator Extremes to be released in June, as I know that I will be traversing the cresting waves and anticipating the rocking motion as soon as it’s onshelf. The same can be said for Silent Hunter 5. During a recent Gamecca editorial meeting, where we play darts and drink beer, the handing down of assignments drew some sniggers when I jumped up to announce that I will write the review on Silent Hunter 5. I do understand that not all people are inclined to sit in front of their PC screens for hours, watching wave after wave crash onto their bow, as they slowly approach the enemy. SH5 is one of the most complex “simulators” developed, and I think it’s really awesome that gamers are given the chance to steer these great machines.

issue 8 • february 2010

I can play simulators for hours on end, and to me it’s more than a game. Granted, Flight Simulator isn’t technically a game, as there are no story missions, but the thrill of flying to any destination is what gets me. It’s a sense of virtual freedom, and I think more people, your average gamers for example, should at least try to play one simulator game in their life. Don’t write it off because there are no achievements or trophies, but rather look at it as a liberating title. The possibilities are endless, and who knows, you might learn something in the process. If you share my sentiment, or even disagree, please write to the magazine, as I’m sure that I’m not the only person who feels this way about simulators. There have to be more gamers out there who get a kick from flying their plane through thunder and rain, or taking a supertanker through the perfect storm and arriving safe and sound at their destination. g


16V

© 2009 Electronic Arts Inc. EA, the EA logo, and Dante’s Inferno are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All Rights Reserved. “2”, ”PlayStation”, “7”, ”PS3” and “À” are registered trademarks ofSony Computer Entertainment Inc. Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


gamecca • geekology

All Thumbs Up... by Matthew Vice

Y

ou know, since the advent of our current consoles, it seems to have become a commonly accepted fact that, after the Christmas Crunch, where the bulk of the year’s big name games are released all at once, we hit a sort of lull that endures until March the next year. Whether this became the case because the marketing people involved thought that gamers needed three months for their credit cards to recover from their yuletide excesses or for some other unfathomable reason, it happened all the same. This year seems to have been the exception, however. There I sat, typing away, fully expecting to wait until March for the big titles to start hitting again (most of the publications I write for aren’t wildly interested in previews, so I rarely look forward), and games simply started falling into my lap. Good games too. Surprisingly good games. Last month alone we got Bayonetta, Darksiders, Army of Two: The 40th Day, Mass Effect 2 and Dark Void. This month we have Bioshock 2, Dante’s Inferno, Alien versus Predator and Heavy Rain to look forward to. And those are just the biggest titles; there are plenty of more niche titles coming too. March be damned, I’m gaming my fingers to the bone right now – and I didn’t even have a chance to take a break from the OctoberNovember deluge. Dark Void is easily one of my favourites so far. I’ve tried not to froth at the mouth while recommending it to various people – but their reactions mystify me. I asked myself, who wouldn’t enjoy being able to switch between smooth third-person

10

shooting and air combat at the touch of a button? The responses? “Yeah, it’s okay…” You’ll have to picture my expectant expression slowly mutating into disappointed realisation that that’s all they seem to have taken away from the experience. Bah! Whatever. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose Rocketeer dreams have finally been realised by this game – it’s not our fault, nor that of Airtight Games that people seem to be lacking in soul and imagination these days. At least most people seem to agree on the brilliance of Bayonetta, something which I’m giving a full thumbs-up to. I dare say Mass Effect 2 will score incredibly highly, which will probably have less to do with the fact that it actually deserves high scores issue 8 • february 2010

(which it does) and more to do with the Bioware fanaticism I notice surrounding all of their titles. I’m just hoping that the game actually runs smoothly during those huge firefights. The horrific performance of the original in those intense battles was something that nearly killed the game for me – but is something of a taboo among fans. Maybe they’re just too noble to mention it, but I constantly hear “I didn’t notice any performance issues,” followed by a quick, shiftyeyed glance around the room. Yeah, riiiiight… Which game were you playing then? Anyway, I’ve waffled enough. I’ll just say that, if this is how the year is starting out, let’s hope it continues this way until the end. g


Š2009 Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft. Ubi.com and the Ubisoft logo are trademarks of Ubisoft Entertainment in the U.S. and/or other countries. Xbox, Xbox 360 and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. “PlayStation�, “PLAYSTATION� and “PS� Family logo are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All other marks and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

5TH MARCH

WWW.ASSASSINSCREED.COM

!,3/Ă’!6!),!",%Ă’/.Ă’

9


gamecca • feature

A Choice Offering

BioWare has consistently delivered top quality by Walt Pretorius

T

here are many favourite genres when it comes to video games, but one that truly inspires fans is the computer role playing game genre. These games, based on ideas set forth by pencil and paper role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, allow the player a degree of self expression that other games do not. The player is able to make myriad choices in these titles, from decisions regarding how to react to situation right through to how best to develop their in-game characters. These decisions lead to the expression of the player’s personality to a degree; one that is increasing as technology advances and allows developers to create more complex systems for dealing with the choices that the player makes. When it comes to role playing games in a video game format, one company springs to mind almost immediately. This company was one of the pioneers of modern thinking in the genre, and was responsible for creating some of the most memorable role playing experiences for video gamers to enjoy. That company is BioWare. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, BioWare started specialising in role playing games early on, and have created some of the best loved and most highly praised computer role playing titles ever to hit the shelves. In February of 1995, three graduates of the medical issue 8 • february 2010 12


Baldur’s Gate

gamecca • feature

issue 8 • february 2010

13


Neverwinter Nights

school at the University of Alberta (Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, and Augustine Yip) made an unlikely career choice. Instead of going in to the medical profession, they started a company called BioWare, which would make video games. A year later, they released their first game, named Shattered Steel. This was, according to BioWare, the first mech based combat game to feature deformable terrain. However, it was two years later that BioWare made their first big mark on the computer role playing genre, with the release of Baldur’s Gate. Based on the Forgotten Realms setting of the Dungeons & Dragons product line, the game took players to a high fantasy setting in a way never experienced before. The graphics and game dynamics were, at the time, awe-inspiring, and virtually every major game publication gave Baldur’s Gate a shining review. Many claim that this game revitalised the flagging computer role playing game market. Baldur’s Gate enjoyed an expansion pack, released in 1999. Tales of the Sword Coast expanded on the addictive nature and exemplary game dynamics introduced by the original title. Riding high on the success of Baldur’s Gate, Bioware went back to the action adventure market for their next release; the humourous and rather surreal MDK2.

Knights of the Old Republic

gamecca • feature

14

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • feature

Released in 2000, MDK2 took players to a strange, science-fiction setting, where they had to fight off a number of alien invaders. The game was the sequel to MDK, originally developed by Shiny Entertainment. The game was very well received, showing that BioWare was as adept at creating third person action games as it was in creating isometric titles. But the studio’s skill with role playing games would once again come to the fore with their next release. Returning to the Forgotten Realms, BioWare released Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn in the same year as MDK2, and an expansion, Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal a year later in 2001. Once again, the game met with excellent response.The next game on the list for BioWare stayed with Dungeons & Dragons and the Forgotten Realms, but moved away from long time publisher Interplay. Released through Infrogrames / Atari in 2002, Neverwinter Nights took a popular subject matter for the studio (the Forgotten Realms) and introduced a new story to it. The game also made a few changes to the overall approach of BioWare’s previous role playing games, freeing up the camera and allowing the player to enter a hybrid third-person mode, as well as experience the action in a top down, isometric style view. BioWare didn’t only make games, though – their engines for driving games soon became popular. The Aurora engine, the power behind Neverwinter Nights, was one designed to allow a heavy multiplayer component. In fact, Neverwinter Nights was intended to be played online as well, with one of the players running the story that the others experienced – much like a game master in a pencil and paper role playing game. An expansion to Neverwinter Nights, subtitled Shadows of Undrentide, followed in 2003. The sequel to the game, though, was not made by BioWare. Neverwinter Nights II was developed by long time BioWare associate, Obsidian. The reasons for this move are likely many, but one of the key points is most certainly the fact that BioWare were trying new things. Their next release is proof of that. Published in 2003 by LucasArts, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic took Star Wars fans and gamers alike on a journey unlike any they had ever experienced. Using a third person perspective exclusively, the game entered the Star Wars universe and allowed the player to become one of that setting’s elite: a Jedi Knight. Knights of the Old Republic netted BioWare enormous amounts of praise and showed, once again, that this was a development team on the cutting edge of gaming technology. The modified Aurora engine used for the game lasted well, and was used for the sequel (which was once again developed by Obsidian.) In 2005, BioWare moved away from the traditional, westernised fantasy and released Jade Empire, a game issue 8 • february 2010

15


based on ancient Chinese mythology. Once again, the praise was heaped on a BioWare title. Sadly, this Xbox exclusive never saw release here in South Africa. In the same year, BioWare announced that they would be joining forces with Pandemic Studios and the private equity fund Elevation Partners. This new partnership would be known as VG Holdings. In 2007, BioWare released the first game in what would become a new franchsie. Mass Effect was released for the Xbox 360 first, and introduced players to a new universe. The science fiction role playing game was released through Microsoft, and took the gaming world by storm. Shortly thereafter, news came that VG Holdings had been bought out by Electronic Arts. BioWare and Pandemic became inhouse EA studios, although they still retained their original identity. BioWare also retained its branding. Despite being a member of the EA stable, BioWare’s

16

Dragon Age: Origins

gamecca • feature

next game was published by Sega. Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood was BioWare’s first venture onto the Nintendo DS, and made use of established Sega characters in a role playing format. In 2009, BioWare returned to traditional fantasy with Dragon Age: Origins, a game that brought a new level of player influence to the table, in terms of the decisions that players made. Released through EA, Dragon Age: Origins was based in a completely new setting – the first fantasy role playing game the company released not based on the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. In late January, 2010, the highly anticipated Mass Effect 2 was launched… but you’ll need to see the review on

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • feature

BioWare Check List Shattered Steel

1996

Baldur’s Gate

1998

Baldur’s Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast

1999

MDK2

2000

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn

2000

Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal

2001

Neverwinter Nights

2002

Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide

2003

Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark

2003

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

2003

Jade Empire

2005

Mass Effect

2007

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

2008

Dragon Age: Origins

2009

page 46 for more on that particular subject. Mass Effect 2 2010 BioWare has, as a company, consistently delivered top notch games. Their influence has been so strong in the role Projects in development / pre-development: playing genre that some of the original founding members were given very senior positions when EA restructured Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening their RPG and MMO development teams in 2009. A newly formed team, comprising both Mythic Entertainment and Star Wars: The Old Republic BioWare was formed, with Ray Muzyka as Group General Manager and Greg Zeschuk as Group Creative Officer. Dragon Age 2 And as for Augustine Yip… well, he had already left BioWare in 1997, to pursue that which he had studied… Mass Effect 3 medicine, g issue 8 • february 2010

17


gamecca • preview

Previews

Lots of Promise

Previews 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat Sail Simulator 2010 Alice in Wonderland Final Fantasy XIII Command & Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising Moto GP 09/10 Yakuza 3 Metro 2033: The Last Refuge Silent Hunter 5 Supreme Commander 2 Prison Break Bleach: The Third Phantom Ship Simulator Extremes Monster Hunter Tri The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll

2

010 is shaping up to be a good year, with some highly anticipated released mixing with potential diamonds-in-the-rough. This month we bring you 18 examples of essential gaming that will be released within the next few weeks or so. With so much good gaming out there, this is going to be a very exciting year indeed... g

18

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • preview

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat

Re-Entry More action in the Zone by Walt Pretorius

T

he S.T.A.L.K.E.R series manages to make an impression with every release, it seems. Detailing alternate reality events that started with the meltdown of the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, the series has taken players to a devastated version of the Russian countryside twice before. Now, with the third trip to that particular wasteland, the player will be given the chance to enter the mysterious, dangerous town of Pripyat. When an operation to open a route to the centre of the affected Zone goes wrong, the player’s character is sent in

to find out what happened. Naturally, this will lead to the expected complex first person action that was the hallmark of the previous two releases. But the developers haven’t just made a new game… promised improvements include a new story and characters, an extended side-quest system, new monsters, a sleep dynamic and a distillation of all the elements that were best from the previous two games. The new player interface can be enjoyed even beyond the story, as a new freeplay mode (which can be accessed after the game is completed) will also be included in this exciting new release. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: GSC Publisher: Koch Media Distributor: TBC

20

issue 8 • february 2010

February 2010 Platforms

More action in the twisted aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster will be available soon...

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

Sail Simulator 2010

Ahoy Sailing Captain! off into the sunset By Jimmy Glue the right side of the vessel… Even though it prides itself in being the most professional sailing simulator, players from as young as six will be able to take the wheel and learn to sail with several boat types and varied weather conditions. The series also boasts that it’s ideal for boat trim and regatta training. With a large variety of vessels to choose from, including the Laser, 470, Valk, VOR70, Bavaria 36 and YD40, players will be able to race online, adding a bit more excitement, as they cut through waves at Scheveningen, Cabrera, Koh Hong and Treasure Island. If you have ever dreamt of taking to the open ocean, Sail Simulator 2010 will be the ideal title for you, and although there is a racing element to it, it will be one of the most relaxing and breathtaking simulator games ever. g

AT A GLANCE: With new, breathtaking graphics, Sail Simulator is sure blow your hair back, in every way imaginable. Developer: Stentec Software Publisher: Iceberg Interactive Distributor: TBC

issue 8 • february 2010

February 2010 Platforms

S

ailing on the open seas can be one of the most liberating experiences a man can get. Most of us aren’t as fortunate to own a yacht, but Dutch software designer Stantec Software developed another thrilling sequel in the Sail Simulator franchise to give everyone a sailing fix. Sail Simulator 2010 is said to be the most professional sailing simulator ever made, as it will feature some amazing graphics, and will have an added elemental realism to it. Don’t worry if you don’t know your port from your starboard, as the title will explain everything the player should know, and everyone will soon be able to sail for as long and far as they please. By the way, starboard is

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

21


gamecca • preview

Alice In Wonderland

Down the Rabbit Hole Kings, queens and two really fat men by Jimmy Glue

A

lice In Wonderland has been a favourite tale for adults and children alike for many years, and there have been plenty of interpretations of the classic Lewis Carroll story. Film director Tim Burton is the latest person to put his own spin on the novel, and with all great films, come video game adaptations. The game will follow the adventures Alice as she delves into the fictional Wonderland. The film, as with the game, will introduce new locations and story elements for players to marvel at. The combat system will be upgradeable, and players can collect “impossible ideas” to replay levels and

unlock Wonderland’s secrets. Players won’t be alone in their fight against the Red Queen, or any other enemies for that matter, as they will be able to choose supporting characters, each with their own unique abilities. But this needs to be done wisely, as not all supporting character will be sufficient to defeat larger enemies. With video game adaptations having a notoriously bad reputation, we’re hoping that Alice In Wonderland will start to break the mould, since it would be a shame to butcher a incredible film with a horrible game. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Etranges Libellules Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios Distributor: Prima Interactive

22

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

Join Alice in her mysterious adventures, based on Tim Burton’s film.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

Final Fantasy XIII

The 13th Fantasy Another well realised reality awaits by Bryan Banfield

S

et on and above a planet called Pulse that is ruled by a mysterious mechanical godlike race called the fal’Cie, Final Fantasy XIII is the latest in the series to get fans excited. At times the fal’Cie select certain people on Pulse for a higher purpose… these selected few are called l’Cie. Each of the l’Cie has a special focus power that they are called to master. Understanding and developing the focus comes from the ability to understand visions and dreams that the character receive from time to time. Some 1300 years ago a fal’Cie named Orphan created a paradise for humanity away from the cares of the world. Soon the destruction of a few key cities throws the world into uncertainty. Final Fantasy XIII sees the return of the Active Time Battle System where commands can be chained together in order to achieve various attack bonuses in a real time environment. In these battles the player is able to take control of one

character out of a party of up to three at any given time. The combat offers multiple camera angles allowing for a seamless and fluid battle transitions. The new “Role” system allows the player highly customisable character creation and development tools. Abilities are now learned over time. With the genre of J-RPG constantly needing to evolve in order to stay fresh we find Square Enix at the forefront… right where we expect them to be. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix Distributor: Nu Metro

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

A new world, a new story and new game dynamics… exactly what fans have come to expect.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

23


gamecca • preview

Command & Conquer 4:Tiberium Twilight

The End is Nigh… And Cain, our messiah, has the proposed solution by Bryan Banfield

E

arth has been ravaged by tiberium. Once thought of a solution and a key to our future, we have quickly learned that its rapid growth is choking our environment. Large land masses are now uninhabitable. Humanity is facing its darkest days. Cain, considered the messiah, a leader and visionary, a man that in many eyes walks a path close to deity, is now before his sworn enemies the Global Defence Initiative. He comes with one ultimatum, not of war, nor of conquest but one of hope! Command and Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight is the last instalment in the classic Command and Conquer franchise. For years this franchise has defined real-time strategy, but the time has come to draw the curtain. This final instalment has promised us the opportunity to get access to answers we have been asking for years; answers concerning the rise to power of the Brotherhood of NOD and what Cain’s true motives are. Two non-playable factions have returned to this instalment, namely the Scrin from Tiberium Wars and the

Forgotten from Tiberium Sun. Command and Conquer 4 has adopted a new take on the real time combat that we are used to. Sporting 3 classes, Offence, Defence and Support, players must move through the various missions using the strengths of the various classes to the best advantage. Battlefield construction is controlled from the crawler. This is a unit that is deployed to the battlefield from overhead orbital drop ships. As the Crawler is upgraded additional units become available for construction. The Crawler can be deployed and packed up, allowing for the main base to move around the battlefield as needed. Multiplayer will see players working as teams to complete and hold objectives. Welcome back, Commander! g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: EA Los Angeles Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

24

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

The last instalment in the Command & Conquer Tiberium Wars saga will bring some new ideas to the table.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising

Servants of Chaos

The forces of Chaos emerge from the shadows at last. by Dion Scotten the game and with a total of five armies to choose from in multiplayer clashes, hopefully this will address the map shortage from the first edition. New wargear has also been added to each army, along with new special abilities for characters and squads. Additionally the level cap for squad has been increased to 30. Dawn of War fans will not want to miss this expansion… after all, what is a universe of war without the shadow of Chaos? g

AT A GLANCE: This expansion introduces the infernal forces of Chaos to the campaign, while also increasing the variety for multiplayer battles. Developer: Relic Entertainment Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor Games

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

D

awn of War II: Chaos Rising is the anticipated expansion to the acclaimed real-time strategy game by Relic Entertainment. The Blood Ravens battle against a darker and far more dangerous enemy this time as they come face to face with their old enemy, the Chaos Space Marines. As resilient as the Emperor’s loyal space marines, the tainted marines of Chaos are twisted versions of their brothers, boasting demonic powers and abilities. The gifts from their evil gods make them formidable opponents but their power does come at a heavy cost. New units are promised for the armies already part of Dawn of War II; the Eldar are to get Wraithguard, Space Marines receive a Librarian and the Tyranids will get Tyrant guard and a Genestealer brood. The forces of Chaos arrive in the form of the Black Legion and the player can look forward to a variety of Chaos Marines to choose from, along with a host of demonic beasts, Demon Princes and Chaos vehicles. Seven new awesome looking maps will be added to

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

25


gamecca • preview

Moto GP 09/10

Punch It! Get back on your bike by Walt Pretorius

R

acing simulators are common, but good motorbike racing simulators are just a little rarer than hens’ teeth. Sure, there have been games in the past, but very few have actually managed to capture the feeling – and physics – of riding a bike properly. Incorrect head movements, for example, are a bane of ‘first person’ view modes in previous

games, and the whole thing generally never felt quite right. Among the best games, though, is the Moto GP series. While these games have clearly pandered to the tastes and whims of true Moto GP fans in the past, they have still delivered more or less the best in terms of realism and the overall gaming experience. The new Moto GP seems to offer more of the same. In addition to the expected Championship mode, the latest iteration will offer three new game modes, including a revamped Arcade mode that offers more challenge than before, thanks to a new challenge system. With improved graphics and physics now becoming the norm for the series, fans can expect a better biking experience than ever before, across the three engine size classes offered by the official Moto GP circuit. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Monumental Games Publisher: Capcom Distributor: Nu Metro

26

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

The next instalment of this popular motorbike simulation will bring three new modes to the table.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

Yakuza 3

Banzai! After playing this, check your fingers by Jimmy Glue in karaoke, pool and golf. To combat enemies and outsmart mafia members, player will also be able to train to gain more experience, which will in turn provide them with better fighting moves. It’s bound to be one of the most violent games for the year, but nonetheless, it will also be enjoyable. Expect GTA with a little sushi on the side... g

AT A GLANCE: Next in line for the popular franchise, Yakuza 3 is bound to be just as thrilling as the last two. Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA of America Distributor: Nu Metro Interactive

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

N

ext to WWII games, titles about the mafia are as popular as ever. Italian mafia, Russian mafia and American mafia all have their place in history, and of course, in video games. Not one to sleep with the fishes, the Japanese mafia is one of the most feared groups around the world. Yakuza 3 explores just that; the Japanese mafia set in modern society. Following on the storyline from the second instalment, main character Kazuma and his adoptive daughter Haruka set off to Okinawa in search of a better life. But once there, his past catches up with him, forcing Kazuma back into the shadowy past he thought he had left behind. For the third instalment, Tokyo and Okinawa have been rendered in stunning accuracy, which lends more reality to the brutal world of the Yakuza. Adding more realism, players will be able to buy items from licensed shops, and even sit at real restaurants you can find on the actual streets of Tokyo. Borrowing a bit from the minigames of the GTA series, player will also be able to engage

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

27


gamecca • preview

Metro 2033:The Last Refuge

Underground

The survival of humanity is up to you (again) by Walt Pretorius

H

umanity has been decimated by an Apocalypse (game developers really don’t seem to have much hope for our future) and the survivors now scratch out an existence in the largest nuclear bunker ever created: the Moscow metro. This underground railway system has become the haven of the last humans, with the individual stations turning into mini-states with their own political systems and agendas. In Metro 2033, the player will need to navigate these tunnels in order to reach the near-mythical centre of the metro, to bring them a message of impending disaster. The game looks like a more serious, underground version of Fallout 3, complete with varied play style options, character development and side quests. An advanced AI has been

promised by the developers, particularly in the inevitable combat situations, and a unique economy based on ammunition will allow the player to literally blow their cash with every hail of bullets they send out. The game looks rather pretty, and seems to have an intriguing story line. Fans of post-apocalyptic action games will likely enjoy this one, which will also feature fairly interesting political dynamics and (naturally) a bunch of mini-games. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: 4A Games Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor Games

28

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

Living in the Moscow Metro after an Apocalypse seems like an interesting prospect…

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

Silent Hunter 5

Achtung! All hands on deck by Jimmy Glue be able to take control of the ship in first-person view. Previous versions had the player in point-and-click mode, which was practical, yet unrealistic. But with the new view, players will be able to physically walk through the highlydetailed submarine. Apart from the new objective-driven, dynamic campaign, players will get to map out their own war strategies with a re-built user interface, and watch in incredible detail as you sink the enemy’s surface ships. Silent Hunter has always been great, but with the improvements in the fifth edition, it truly has the potential to be the best U-boat simulator ever made. Let’s just hope we are right… g

AT A GLANCE: Captain a German WWII U-boat in the fifth instalment of this submarine simulation series. Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

S

ilent Hunter, now in its fifth instalment, has been one of the best submarine simulators to grace the WWII genre. It’s not your average ship simulator, as it involves a more tactical approach, which could be very complicated at times. For those not in the know, the Silent Hunter franchise puts you in the driving seat of a German U-boat during the height of WWII. Often involving real missions from the second Great War, players will have to outsmart the Allied forces, and gain the upper hand in marine combat. But it’s not as easy as one might think… Taking place in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, player will, for the first time in the series’ history,

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

29


gamecca • preview

Supreme Commander 2

Grand Scale Confl ict The biggest, baddest war ever by Dion Scotten

T

he release of Supreme Commander 2 in March ushers in the return of super huge battles across insanely massive maps. For newcomers to the series, this is real-time battle at its biggest and baddest, with the developers promising to stick to their trademark by bringing us even more over the top confrontations. A large variety of units will be available to the player from the smallest walker and tank units to crawling mega monstrosities (including a fire breathing mechanical T-Rex). The new graphics engine delivers breathtaking battle action with a free rotating camera and awesome looking maps. Although the graphics have stepped up, the developers have assured gamers that even older machines will be able to run the game without any problems. The Cybran, United Earth Federation and the Illuminate make up the three factions the player has to choose from when playing the campaign or multiplayer battles. New land, air and water units are available and the movement issues from the first game have been sorted out, so no

more bottle necking units when making that critical charge. The AI as usual will react and counter depending on the player’s style and should add a good challenge to missions and skirmishes. Dual screens will be supported, allowing more experienced players to manage resources and building on one screen while micro managing battles on a second. Individual units can be custom upgraded depending on style of play, allowing an edge for those players who like to add their own style to the game strategy. Supreme Commander 2 is definitely for the RTS collection and gamers that prefer less complicated, unit capping games should run and hide now. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Gas powered Games Publisher: Square Enix Distributor: Nu Metro Interactive

30

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

Take control of massive armies and epic machines of war and lead them into battles that have no equal in this genre.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

Prison Break

TheNo,Other Hero you don’t get to play as Scofield by Walt Pretorius

W

e have seen many games based on movies and TV series, and normally they’re not all that great. However, when a game is created ‘after the fact’ – in other words, not released at the same time as the property it is based on – chances are that it will be a bit better than the average. Prison Break is done and dusted, but the video game will return to Fox River Penitentiary, the location of the first season, as the player takes on the role of an undercover agent in the prison, sent there to find out why Michael Scofield, a man with no previous criminal record, suddenly became a bank robber. OK, so the premise is a bit thin (because good people turn bad all the time, really) but the game does look like it can be quite exciting. The player will need to use stealth and climbing skills to get to the bottom of this story. This won’t be the average ‘TV series game’, by the look of things, requiring a bit more from the player than most of these properties do. That’s a good thing, but will the game be beyond the reach of the average Prison Break fan? Time will tell… g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Zootfly Publisher: Deep Silver Distributor: Megarom

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

It looks like it might be quite exciting, but will the average Prison Break fan be able to handle it?

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

31


gamecca • preview

Bleach:The Third Phantom

Team Bleach Don’t hurt yourself with your own Zanpakuto

by Brian Murdoch

T

he third instalment of the popular Bleach franchise promises to be a vast improvement on the previous two titles. The first two DS titles, Blade of Fate and Dark Souls, and the last Wii title, Shattered Blade, were pretty much fighting-only games, where as the third edition on the DS leans towards a more team-based fighting style. The player will be able to summon up to eight Soul Reapers for the turn-based battles, and characters will gain experience and level up after each conflict. With the gained experience, different skills and powers can be selected and customised at will. Sticking to the same DS fighting style of the previous titles, and since the turn-based battles are very strategic in nature, they will need to be approached with great caution in order to keep the player’s team alive. Most of the favourite characters from the anime are all up for fighting selection, but a couple of new faces will also make their appearance, and as an added bonus, players will have the ability to customise each one. A new mode, called Bleach

Tower, will be unlocked once the player manages to finish the entire campaign, something that should take around 30 hours. Taking place partly before the anime series, the campaign delivers an entirely new story, with exciting twists and turn. But even after the main campaign has been completed, players will be able to continue on their quest, levelling up their party as well as unlocking new characters as they go along. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA Distributor: Nu Metro Interactive

32

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

Strategy is the name of the game in this third Bleach instalment for the DS.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

Ship Simulator Extremes

The Big Blue Got what it takes to conquer the ocean? by Jimmy Glue

S

hip Simulator Extremes is almost identical to Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, with only one small difference; you’re in a half-million ton supertanker. Braving the perfect storm, players will now be able to know what it takes to steer a fully-laden ship across the open seas. But the title isn’t just about delivering precious cargo. As one would expect, players will be able to steer a wide variety of vessels, which even includes a Coast Guard boat as you struggle to reach survivors after evacuating their island from a volcanic eruption. Vessels to choose from range from hovercrafts, coast guard interceptors and mammoth tankers, to tugs and cruise liners. The title also ups the realism stakes by throwing players into missions based on actual events that take place in realistic environments and locations from all over the world. And since everybody is going green these days, players will also be able to sail famous Greenpeace ships while tackling real-world ecological missions. As the name implies, Ship Simulator Extremes is bound to be the next big thing in ship sailing, and it’s about to take the genre to the extreme (bad pun, we know…) g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Paradox Interactive Publisher: Paradox Interactive Distributor: Apex Interactive

issue 8 • february 2010

June 2010 Platforms

Big ships and big seas are the order of this virtual day.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

33


gamecca • preview

Monster Hunter Tri

They’re back (and bigger) Monster fighting at its best

by Brian Murdoch

T

he previous Monster Hunter titles were on PS2 and PSP and this, the third in the series, will be hitting yet another console platform - the Wii - exclusively. In Monster Hunter Tri the player finds themselves as just that, a hunter going out to find and kill the local monsters tormenting towns, then taking the scales and other leftovers of the monster to craft stronger weapons and armour to go out farther and hunt other, bigger monsters, with the word bigger being quite literal in the game. Monsters tower over the player’s character, leaving them feeling small and a little insignificant. Previous version of the game did little to support multiplayer gaming, and some even required connecting the PSP through the PS3 to a Japanese account to join an English channel to play with others. Monster Hunter Tri will come out with split screen and WiFi support, giving friends online and offline a chance to join in the hunt. Previous Hunters fought their battles in a wide array of different sceneries and in Tri, water is the new domain. The opportunity to have epic underwater battles and adding three dimensionality to battles are a big draw card for this one. g

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

34

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

With water battles and multiplayer support, Monster Hunter Tri is sure to be a big hit.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

Top Dog Keeping peace through air combat by Brian Murdoch

I

n a world where there is peace and no real wars, corporations put on aerial dog-fights in order to ease the tension of the populace. The young fighter pilots, using prop planes to settle their differences, lead complex lives – the story will follow their exploits in and out of the air. Players will find themselves in the cockpit of the plane in the guise of Lynx. Lynx joins the Sky Crawlers, working hard to gain acceptance in the team. Lynx also gets embroiled in a mystery surrounding a group of seeming immortal fighter pilots. There does seem to be more strategy to the game than just taking off and shooting whatever is in the sky, including selecting the number of planes and formation, which planes will be used and which one the player will jump into. Flying controls will have the player using both the nunchuk and Wii remote. The nunchuk will be used to

accurately tilt, roll, pitch and yaw, while the Wii remote will be used as a throttle. Both will be used for firing. The Classic Controller and GameCube control will be supported as well. Don’t think of this as a flightsimulator… there will be more to it than just dog fighting. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Namco Bandai Publisher: Namco Bandai Distributor: Megarom

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

A complex story and lots of Wii based aerial combat will await the player in this title.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

35


gamecca • preview

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers

Final Fantasy Wii Will the Crystal Bearer save the world? by Brian Murdoch

T

he player plays as Layle, a crystal bearer and young mercenary who has been hired to escort the new grand passenger airship, Alexis. This pinnacle of Lilty technology and a symbol of dominance is now in danger from a horde of monsters and a group that was thought to have vanished. Layle and his crew need to stop them to save the world. There will be a fun mix of puzzles, mini games and epic battles, all in a Final Fantasy world, and a good story to boot. Just like most Final Fantasy games, this one will have the elements that keep it true to the series, but the changes fit in with the style of the Wii. With an almost concurrent release with Final Fantasy XIII, it is likely that this title will remain a Wii exclusive, while the other platforms get to enjoy the 13th instalment.

The graphics are said to push the Wii’s capabilities and they look above the bar in the preview videos. We will have to see when it arrives. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix Distributor: Nu Metro

36

issue 8 • february 2010

March 2010 Platforms

A Final Fantasy game for the Wii? You bet! And it will take advantage of the Wii’s unique control scheme too.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2


gamecca • preview

Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll

Rock and Roll Balance your way to the best time. by Brian Murdoch still setting fastest times. Don’t let the friendly cover and child-like title make you think that this title is for children only, as the puzzles will be a challenge for even the most coordinated person. Playing this title in a group will surely get a great deal of laughter and competition going. The game will feature 2 player co-op and 4 player multiplayer with mini games. There will be more levels and more mini games than the previous version, with a greater degree of complexity. g

AT A GLANCE: Using the balance board to steer a ball-bound monkey may just be the next great party activity… Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA Distributor: Nu Metro

issue 8 • february 2010

February 2010 Platforms

A

iAi the Monkey and all his friends are stepping their way onto the Wii again, this time with the balance board in play. The traditional nunchuk and Wii remote will be supported as well, but I don’t see them being as much fun as the balance board control scheme. The basics of this puzzle game are to get the monkey, in a see-through ball, to roll his way to the goal. The player will need to collect as many bananas as possible along the way, while

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

37


gamecca • ps zealot

The Next Generation? by Suvesh Arumugam

W

ith Christmas and New Year having passed, the next few months can expect to be a quiet build up to prime release time preceding (and during) the Fifa World Cup. Not having too many new PS3 titles to choose from can be fun though; its gives me time to replay some old games, and commit to those long manager modes that I normally abandon somewhere in the second or third season. Somewhere in-between though, I managed to check out “Avatar” on the big screen. Whether you like the movie or not, it gave me some interesting ideas. “Avatar”, and Bruce Willis’ new movie “Surrogates”, are both basically about using a mental interface to control a character, and having complete interaction through virtual stimulation. Sounds pretty much like every gamer’s dream to me. One of the big reasons I prefer Playstation to its faster selling Nintendo counterpart is that having run or jump as fast or as high as the character I want to control is extremely tiring. If I could play games literally without having to move a muscle, I would sign up immediately! The interesting thing about the two movies I mentioned is that interface is used not for gaming, but for work. In “Avatar” it’s mining and military, in “Surrogates” its police work. Imagine, one day I could even do my job without switching off my Playstation! I’ve been absolutely glued to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for the

last week or so. One of the many technologically advanced weapons at your disposal is the Predator. From watching the “Body of Lies” on Blu-Ray (which is a must by the way, along with “The Dark Knight” and “Eagle Eye”), you’ll know that the US army have these little drone planes which can spy or bomb pretty much anything, anywhere. I didn’t realise that the US military had been recruiting gamers to test and fly these planes. I stumbled across a website a while ago which, at first, looked like a gaming site for flight sim enthusiasts. Looking a little closer, I noticed that the site was hosted by the US Airforce, and encouraged high scorers to get in touch with them. They probably know who you are anyway.

I thought of publishing the link, but I’ve watched enough “Alias” to know I would be killed within 24 hours! So do some surfing, it’s not that hard to find. As technology develops, more and more machines and processes will be controlled electronically, through interfaces similar to games. Why shouldn’t gamers have some natural advantage over our gymattending counterparts? Finally, all those hours of honing our synaptic responses to visual stimuli will pay off. Imagine, records for efficiency will be continually broken, if gamers were in charge. So next time someone tells you to get your lazy ass up and read a book or go on a picnic, you hit that PS button and dig in, because that’s your future you’re investing in. g

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


gamecca • xbox beat

A Bumper Year by Bryan Banfield

E

arly January saw Las Vegas swamped with geeks, techies and gadget freaks looking to get their eye and possibly their hands on some of the hottest new tech as this year’s Consumer Electronics Show 2010. As has come to be the norm, most of the larger companies take to the stage to offer the millions of ogling eyes a peek at what is hatching in their research and development labs. This year Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, teamed up with Robbie Bach, the president of Microsoft’s Entertainment Division, to take us through a few new and not so new items of tech talk. First off, the excitement in the voices of the two speakers was captivating as they shared their joint excitement about the Xbox platform in 2009. Xbox360 had an incredible 2009 with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 setting the standards as the largest media ever launched, selling 4.9 million copies of the game on the Xbox360 console. Bach mentioned a DLC pack for Modern Warfare 2 that will be a timed exclusive.

Bach also announced and explained a new offering that will see a virtual arcade grace the Xbox360. This is being referred to as the Xbox Live Game Room. As the player you will be able to take your avatar into your game room, as well as visit your friend’s game room, and play 1000 classic arcade titles from studios including Atari, Konami, Intellivision, and many more. These games will be on sale through Xbox Live, starting from 240 up to 400 Microsoft Points. If you do not choose to purchase the game you can also choose to pay 40 Microsoft Points per turn. (50c, just like the old arcade days) [unless you’re my age… 20c – ed] This offering will be available on Xbox Live as well as Microsoft’s Games for Windows Live PC platform. The achievements earned on the Xbox360 will be available on the PC and vice-versa. Microsoft was also proud to claim 39 million Xbox360 consoles in the market worldwide, as well as the adoption of this platform for delivering rich media in the form of Last.fm and HD video via the Netflix offering. Microsoft is adamant that the Xbox

will dominate in the home theatre and media delivery space and become an essential piece of hardware in your family’s living room. To end off Microsoft finally got to what we were all waiting for; more news regarding Project Natal. After a short introductory clip on the origins of this project, Ballmer and Bach both spoke highly of their aspirations for this project. The Project Natal team have done a great job keeping the lid on this one. The potential for this project is rivalled by nothing else. When Project Natal hits store shelves we are set to see the first ever true 1:1 motion controlled gaming. Not only does this allow us to lie on our back staring at the sky wondering what games will progress to next, but also give a totally new and “Minority Report” like interface for our interaction with our media, be it flipping through video, swishing through music or flicking through photographs. Project Natal will give us the ability to use our body as the controller. No more remotes. Our digital and family entertainment will never be the same. All of this is very carefully hinged on one question: Will Project Natal really deliver on its promises? Ballmer also alluded to the fact that we might be about half way through the life cycle of the Xbox360, despite statements last year that we might be seeing a new Xbox some time in 2011. Whatever the case, we are guaranteed of one thing. This is set to be an Xbox360 bumper year. g

This page is provided by Xbox Gamer 42

www.xboxgamer.co.za


7%&


gamecca • house of mario

The Ghost of Wii Past by Brian Murdoch

S

omeone posted the other day on a Wii forum: “Has the Wii gone boring?” At first it got me outraged (as I am a bit of a fanboy) but it has got me thinking... Let’s go through the titles that came out towards the end of the year, the ghost of Christmas Past. Rabbids Go Home was not as great as the previous versions. I thought Ghostbusters was better than the HD versions. Avatar was better on the other versions. Wii Fit Plus which was just a version upgrate to the previous one. New Super Mario Bros Wii was the true highlight to the Wii titles for 2009. I’m starting to see this guy’s point. The end of 2009, when all the

great Wii titles should have came out, only had a few good ones! I am betting that this poor person did not even find a copy of New Super Mario Bros Wii in the stores to buy because they were all sold. The ghost of present is that we are in the go-slow part of the year for the gaming industry. All the rushing and importance of getting the titles out for December and energy of the season has burned out and made January a quiet month... an opportunity to cleanup and prepare to start the new year. All of this equals no new games to rave about. The ghost of the future looks a bit more promising and we have to ask ourselves why these games did not come out last year. Some of them were finished. Red Steel 2 was pushed into the 2010 first quarter because Ubisoft had too many AAA games coming around the same time. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers is coming in February with the Final Fantasy 13. I’m even looking forward to Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll, Iron Man 2 and a Sonic racing game, Mario Galaxy 2 and even a new Zelda, which are franchises that never disappoint.

There will always be the mixture of bad, though, and the Wii seems to have that more than the others. This means that you need to read this magazine more and pick up other reviews and opinions before you buy a title to make sure that it will be worth its cost. Is Nintendo going to do well in the Wii front of 2010? PS3 has been gaining ground on Xbox 360 during 2009 and will it continue and maybe even take over the Wii. [Unlikely – there have been over 60 million Wii’s sold – ed] Then there is the fact 2009 was the unofficial end of PS2 titles… will this bring more people over to the Wii? I think that hardcore gamers that have enough extra money to pay for R700 games will end up buying a Wii for the handful of hardcore Wii titles that come out, and the casual/social gamer will have a Wii for those pure fun and stupid titles. You will also see that the Wii owners enjoy their Wii will be inclined to get a better console at some point and I think that console will be a PS3. All other things are pretty much equal, really; the Blu-ray will be the deciding factor. I calm myself and my doubts by understanding that the Wii has a unique market. Its games last 6 months and not just a weekend. There is more interaction and multiplayer in the average Wii title than most of the other HD titles put together. The Wii picked up in market share for 2009 and I think we will be sure to see it take even more in 2010. g

This page is provided by Nintendo Gamer 44

www.nintendogamer.co.za


gamecca • preview

Reviews

A Great Start

Highlights 46 Mass Effect 2 48 Darksiders 50 Army of Two: The 40th Day 52 Bayonetta 54 Dark Void 58 Vancouver 2010

I

f there’s one thing we like doing at Gamecca, it’s upping our game. Yes, we mean playing games better, but we also mean delivering our readers the best experience we can. We strive for you, seriously, seriously, we do. We have had a surprisingly good start to 2010, with a number of top titles already on the shelves. And there is more goodness to come. Sure, things have been a little slow (which is why we are only bringing you 11 reviews this month, as opposed to the truck-load we usually feature. But they’re good reviews, thoroughly researched and superbly written. Then again, you already knew that... g

44

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

Mass Effect 2

The Great Galactic Conspiracy Geth who’s back? by Walt Pretorius

E

very now and then a game comes along that simply takes your breath away. The game doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect in every way (and often these kinds of games aren’t) but the overall effect is one that is awe-inspiring. The original Mass Effect was a game like that – despite a number of issues, the overall package was nothing short of excellent. And, with the sequel, BioWare once again demonstrates their ability to make absolutely awesome games. Mass Effect 2 is the second part in what will eventually be a trilogy. The story carries on from where the first game left off, albeit a little while later. In fact, there are many references to the events in the previous story, and those that have completed the first game can import their saved character into this new saga. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t play Mass Effect 2 if you didn’t play the first one; while a few of the references may be lost on you, it’s still a great game, and a near perfect meeting of the action-shooter and CRPG genres. Mass Effect 2 drags the player deeper into a conspiracy that spans the galaxy. Resplendent with interesting alien races and absolutely beautiful settings, the game continues the tale of Commander Shepard and the intrepid crew of the Normandy. The game once again makes use of the three character party idea that was introduced in the first game, as well as the wonderfully easy-to-use radial menus that affect everything from combat power use through to conversations. The balance between being a good or bad guy is back as well, and reputations from the first game (if you import your save game) will follow you. In fact, the decisions made in the first game will follow you too.

46

If you didn’t play it, though, the computer will assign the most likely course of events to Shepard’s history. Sure, you will find things you can point fingers at in this game. There’s a bit of clipping from time to time, and sometimes the characters get stuck momentarily. There are a few other niggles that could interfere with the experience, but those who choose not to nit-pick will end up with a massively satisfying experience when playing Mass Effect 2. The graphics are awesome. The voice acting (from a cast that includes Martin Sheen, Adam Baldwin, Seth Green and Carrie-Anne Moss) is top notch. The music is superb. The setting and story are engrossing and interesting (although it must be said that the story is a bit predictable.) And the characters… well, they’re awesome. They manage to bring personality and personal interest to a game that is vast in scale. The player really, truly gets a feeling of involvement with this one, which is

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

AT A GLANCE: Mass Effect 2 is a sci-fi adventure lover’s wettest dream come true – engrossing, engaging and simply brilliant. Developer: BioWare Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

great – many games fail to get the player to have a vested interest in the characters and events that they feature, but Mass Effect 2 does it with very little effort indeed. Mass Effect 2 will keep the player busy for absolute ages. Just playing the story missions is a long proposition, but experiencing the numerous side quests, as well as resource gathering and other exploration, turns this game into an epic. Combined with the first game, you have a few days worth of top notch sci-fi entertainment. Perhaps best of all, though, is the fact that BioWare listened to what consumers said about their previous, equally ambitious Mass Effect project, and made improvements to the game based on that. The levels feel more organic, the combat more real. There are no driving missions, and exploration of vast empty planets is a thing of the past. The AI has been improved and, while one or two of the issues from the first game do crop up from time to time, performance slow-downs and similar are a thing of the past. No, it’s not perfect, but it comes very close to being so. Those that enjoy a solid, deep and engaging story-driven game can simply not go wrong with Mass Effect 2. It is a sweeping project, and one that shows off BioWare’s ability to captivate gamers with their unique, high quality products. It is a game that is far greater than the sum of its parts, and one that every action adventure and CRPG fan cannot afford to miss. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

95 47


gamecca • review

Darksiders

Hell on Earth The world has ended, and you broke it! by Brian Murdoch

W

ith Heaven and Hell in constant conflict, only the Council preserves the balance between the two. The will of the council is enforced by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. However, when a new realm is formed – the world of Man – the Council is forced to create a pact to protect these weaker creatures and preserve the age-old balance. The pact is bound by seven seals, hidden from prying eyes… when the last of these seals is broken, the Four Horsemen will be summoned to ride the Earth and bring about the End Times.

48

Darksiders kicks off with the Apocalypse, seeing the forces of Heaven and Hell duking it out on Earth. The player is thrust into the middle of it all in the guise of War, the Red Horseman. While kicking the butts of various angelic and demonic foes, War feels his power waning… something is wrong. Additionally, the other Horsemen are nowhere to be seen. A meeting with the Archangel Abbadon reveals that the seventh seal has not been broken… War has been duped into riding out, and destroying the balance. The Council is pretty miffed about this all, and tries to

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

little strange that a Horseman of the Apocalypse (with the operative being horse) spend so little time actually riding. The boss battles are gory and impressive, and the only thing missing were the expected (but omitted) quick time sequences to finish the bosses off. On the point of cutscenes or cinematics, these are plentiful and very well placed in the game. There are three difficulties in the game; easy, normal and apocalyptic. I have heard people say that normal makes the game just a button-masher, but I disagree. Apocalyptic is almost impossible and provides an impressive challenge, but the game is rather challenging on even the easier modes. Many comparisons to God of War have been made in terms of Darksiders, but the truth is that the game is rather different. In fact, it stands on its own two feet quite nicely, and could even be considered a rival to the God of War series. We’ll just have to see what God of War 3 delivers. g

AT A GLANCE: A fast-paced action game (in the vein of God of War) with lots of puzzle elements (like Legend of Zelda, minus the wimpy elf). Developer: THQ Publisher: THQ Distributor: Sterkinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

sentence War to death. However, he manages to convince them that he should investigate what lead to these events, despite his stripped powers… on the premise that either he will find the real culprit, or the council’s original sentence will be carried out by his enemies. It might sound like I have spoiled the story but all this happens in the first 5 minutes! The story continues with great twists and unexpected turns. It can grip a player so well that they find themselves still playing at 4h30 in the morning to get to the next point. The game reminds one of titles like God of War and Legend of Zelda. It features fast-paced action and a good balance of movement-based puzzles, which require the player to move and unlock elements of the environment to continue with the story. The puzzles add to the overall game length significantly; the next boss is displayed as a tease on the screen, but it takes another hour and a half to get to them. The puzzles are not too much of a challenge and when you play through the second time it really comes down to having to do things to unlock doors and move forward. At first they can seem impossible, but great controls and camera angles are put in place for the player to look around and figure them out. The puzzles become a little formulaic after a while, but still allow for a great sense of satisfaction when they are completed. There are a number of weapons for War to use, ranging from the Chaoseater (a powerful and thirsty sword) to Mercy (a fast-shooting gun). The three primary weapons at the player’s disposal earn individual experience, allowing them to level up and deal more damage. Souls are collected as currency, mainly to buy new combat moves and power-ups. There are no major glitches in the game, until War gets his horse. Riding seems to bring out most of the clipping errors and horse riding is restricted most of the time. It’s a

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

84 49


gamecca • review

Army Of Two: 40th Day

Getting Aggro True co-operation is essential

W

hen the previous Army of Two came out, I was over the moon. Here was a game that took the ideas of co-operative game-play and turned them into essential survival techniques. And not just run-and-gun stuff, either – the players had to think like soldiers, move like soldiers and fight like soldiers. It was, quite simply, great. Being old enough to actually have been in the military, it was like a refresher course (at least in terms of tactical theory). And the feeling of teamwork (provided your partner actually worked in a team) in combat was fantastic. Sure, the original game had a few flaws, but it was still massive amounts of fun, and a game that I have returned to and replayed many times over, both with a partner and single player, using the AI team-mate. So when they started talking about a new instalment of Army of Two, with improvements over the last game, I got excited. And the new game, subtitled The 40th Day, is better in many ways. The improvements range from obvious

50

by Walt Pretorius

tweaks to the graphics and improvements to both the partner and enemy AI programming, right through to more subtle and even cosmetic elements. But there are certain changes that fans of the first game will possibly not like. And the biggest of these is the setting. In the first game, Rios and Salem (the two questionable protagonists) travelled the globe as contract mercenaries, working for a dodgy private military company. They travelled all over the place, through a variety of locations that spanned from war-torn cities to corporate headquarters and even an aircraft carrier. The 40th Day doesn’t have that kind of variety. The whole thing is set in Shanghai. The story begins with Salem and Rios completing a very simple task for a lot of money – and the setup is just as fishy as it sounds. Shortly after the task is done, all kinds of hell break loose in the city, and the duo have to fight their way out of a very nasty situation. Sure, there are a variety of locations, ranging from collapsing buildings through to a decimated zoo, but the truth is that the overall feel of the setting doesn’t vary much at all. The second thing that fans of the first game might find a little strange is the weapon upgrade system. In truth, it’s a blessing and a curse. See, the game allows the player to upgrade at virtually any time, and allows for on-thefly weapon modification. That’s the nice part, allowing the player to create a weapon that

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

fixed, but there are still others that need addressing. And, here in South Africa, the lack of a system link option is a bit of a bitter pill to swallow… sure, the rest of the world may have plentiful broadband, and we are a small market. But would it been that much work to include a system linking option, rather than forcing either online co-op or split-screen as the only options? I think not. The forgiving player will find a lot to love about this game. But it certainly isn’t flawless. g

AT A GLANCE: A much improved experience over the previous game, but it still has a few niggles. Developer: EA Montreal Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

is truly unique (right down to a pink heart finish, if they like.) But it throws realism right out of the window. Strapping an AK47 barrel onto an M40 is just not possible, unless you’re a weapon-smith with a rather extensive workshop. Still, the variety is nice, and the ‘anytime upgrading’ is nicer. The AI has been improved, too, both in terms of partner and enemy intelligence. The partner is more likely to do the right thing, like looking for cover and healing the player effectively (in single player games, of course) but will still stand in the open while getting gunned down from time to time. A player who stays on top of the partner effectively and issues orders properly shouldn’t have too much of a problem, though. The enemies are smarter, too, and will look for flanking opportunities. They’re still dumb enough to forget that there are two people out there when the one partner makes use of the still-present ‘aggro’ system, but that’s kind of the point. The game is meant to be played by two people, though. While it’s fun in single player, the co-op mode is really where it’s at for this title. To reinforce this idea, an added level of co-operation has been added, in terms of decisions that strengthen the partnership and affect the outcome of the story. When playing with a partner, the right kind of partner is needed – in other words, a team player. Applying a runand-gun principle to this game, and trying to Rambo your way through levels with no regard for your partner will get you no-where (except back to the loading screen.) The partner dynamics are greatly improved, as are the graphics and controls. It’s a solid title, in the end, but one that could have benefited from a little more variety and a few tweaks. Yes, most of the issues of the first game have been effectively

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

78 51


gamecca • review

Bayonetta

Dead Sexy The most imaginative action game in years

by Matthew Vice

W

hen it comes to action games, few can match the prestige and refinement of Devil May Cry, a rock-hard but incredibly refined action series which set the bar for the “extreme action” sub-genre back when it first released in 2001. It’s no stretch to say that Devil May Cry is the fine wine of action games. So while we’re likening action games to alcoholic beverages, which drink would best describe Bayonetta? Well, if Devil May Cry is a fine wine, then Bayonetta is one of those voguish, fruit-flavoured cocktails, with slices of fruit and a little umbrella, that takes your legs out before you reach the bottom of the glass. Seriously, Bayonetta is a shaken and stirred cocktail of great action game ideas with ridiculously over-the-top choreography underneath a kitsch, glossy fashion magazine veneer with a chic, borderline soft-porn-star in the lead role. And it’s impossible to resist.

52

The star of this game is Bayonetta, the last remaining witch in the world following a great war between her clan, the Umbra Witches, and their enemies, the Lumen Sages. It turns out that she has amnesia and can’t remember anything about her past apart from the fact that she’s a witch, so she employs her henchman, a shifty little criminal named Enzo, and her friend and mentor, a powerful wizard named Rodin, to help her track down an item, The Eye of The World, which will help her regain her memories. As you might imagine, things don’t go quite according to plan, and this simple quest soon becomes much more significant to the balance between Heaven, Hell and Earth. At first glance, Bayonetta plays very similarly to games like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden and God of War. Bayonetta must explore vast stages, fighting enemies, traversing hazards and solving the occasional simple puzzle to progress. The similarities don’t end there, and Bayonetta borrows plenty of ideas from other great action games – and cranks them up a few notches. There are also plenty of crazy new ideas present, and just when you think you’ve seen it all, you’ll discover something new. Take all of this, and stir in the superb visuals and the slick, fast-paced gameplay and you have one of the most imaginative and original action games ever. Bayonetta’s trademark weapons are her four pistols, two in her hands and two strapped to her ankles, which allow her to perform lengthy and impressive combos of kicks and punches while shooting her enemies at the same time. They aren’t the only weapons she has access to, however, and she can find a katana and a whip among other weapons, and swap out her pistols for shotguns or cannons, allowing her to create even more mayhem and crazy combos.

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

AT A GLANCE: Bayonetta is a surprising new action game from the developers of MadWorld. Developer: Platinum Games Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu-Metro Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

As if this weren’t enough, as Bayonetta defeats angels, she earns Halos, currency which allows her to buy special moves, magical attacks and accessories which grant her completely new and game-altering abilities. The enemies Bayonetta must face are no less creative and out there. Being a witch, Bayonetta has to kill a certain amount of angels every so often to stay out of Hell – yeah, you read that right. These angels come in many wildly-varied forms, from small, floating heads with wings and man-sized humanoids to hulking monstrosities with multiple metal dragon heads. All of these angels have their own attack strategies and abilities. Learning their weak points and how to avoid or exploit their attack patterns is of paramount importance, especially when you’re facing hordes of them at once. Luckily these angels will often drop the weapons they carry when killed, leaving Bayonetta free to pick them up, and they are very, very powerful. Each different type of angelic weapon has its own attacks and uses. Learning how to use these weapons and keeping an eye out for them adds a nice, random tactical element to the game. I may have already mentioned how stylish Bayonetta is, and once you see it running, you’ll agree. The design style is unmistakably Japanese, and even the simplest things are clean, shiny and intricate. The cut-scenes are lengthy, but a joy to watch because of the snappy humour and the ridiculously over-the-top choreography. The voice acting is cheesy but effective and the soundtrack is a suitably jazzy, glam pop that switches to deep, orchestral scores for those big boss fights. If you’re an action game fan on any level, you really need to check out Bayonetta. It came out of nowhere, essentially, and has enough spit and polish, imagination and wild new ideas to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Yes – even Devil May Cry can learn a thing or two from Bayonetta. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

86 53


gamecca • review

Dark Void

Up, up and away! Enemies all around… literally. by Walt Pretorius

N

ew IPs are always a risky proposition and, these days, people are all the more demanding of them. So, when a new idea comes along that is just a little short of brilliant, people take all kinds of pot shots at it. Gamers are getting more demanding by the minute. Take Dark Void, for example. The game is far from perfect, sure, but the nasty reviews that it has been getting online are perhaps a little unfair. Dark Void places the player in the role of Will, a pilot who, just before the outbreak of World War 2, manages to get his plane and cargo lost in the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. There, he learns that an ancient alien race is bent on retaking what was once theirs… the Earth. Will dons a jet pack, scavenges a few weapons, and takes to the skies in this third person action adventure. The main idea behind Dark Void is that the game features combat in all directions… enemies will not only be in front of, or behind, or to the sides – they’ll be above and below as well. While this concept isn’t entirely new, the

54

overall vertical nature of the title is played up. It isn’t just a matter of having enemies above and below that can be safely sniped from a secure platform. Dark Void will have the player fighting while climbing (more or less) up and down vertical surfaces. It breaks down, when all is said and done, to something akin to a third person adventure game mixed with an arcadey flight simulator. The game features smooth, realtime transitions between aerial and terrestrial combat at the push of a button (which starts up the jet pack) and some of the missions deliver an excellent level of complexity, thanks to this combination. Fly up to a massive hovering edifice, for example, taking out airborne enemies along the way. Make your way (fighting all the while) to a massive shaft that requires the player to go both ways – up and down – to achieve goals, before taking off once again to tackle the next objective. This kind of game dynamic feels great and flows well. The problem is that there just isn’t enough of it in the game, even though it’s a mid-

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

shelves) it serves as an enjoyable stop-gap until some of the other big names arrive. Yes, you could find a better game than Dark Void… but you could also find worse ones, too. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s not the finest game ever made, but Dark Void is certainly a fun distraction Developer: Airtight Games Publisher: Capcom Distributor: Nu Metro Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

length, single player only title. Most of the missions get a little tedious, in fact, with repetitive actions being the order of the day. Still, it’s good fun to play, particularly in shorter sessions. The player will also get to upgrade the six weapons the game contains (two upgrades each) as well as two upgrades for the rocket pack. To get everything upgraded will require more than one playthrough. While the game is fun to play, it serves better as a distraction than an intense gaming experience. Some of the implementations of ideas could have been handled a bit better – particularly in terms of the aerial combat bits. Flying around is great fun, but it’s tough to hit anything, and the aerial combat scenes become rather protracted affairs. The player can also take control of friendly and enemy aircraft. In the case of enemies (as well as fighting bigger enemies) quick-time sequences are involved. Some of them are quite flexible, too, but sometimes the controls required to complete the sequences aren’t as clear as they should be, or are displayed a bit late. The other controls are fairly good, and are – for the most part – responsive. Graphically, the game varies between good and a little dated. The Unreal engine could, realistically, have been put to better use for this one, but the overall visual style is still not bad – certainly not as bad as some of the titles out there. In the end, Dark Void is going to be the kind of game you either love or hate. The Gamecca crew was a little divided over this title too, but the truth is that it is enjoyable enough, as long as the player doesn’t expect gaming miracles. It’s a fairly laid back and relaxed title, and one that will probably not raise too much of a sweat on a player’s brow. Sure, the game doesn’t sell itself as one, but that’s what it is. And, considering the time of year it saw release (when not much else was hitting retail

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

69 55


gamecca • review

Saw:The Videogame

Bite the bear-trap Not because it’s fun, but because we have to... by Jimmy Glue

T

The Saw franchise is somewhat of a stalwart when it fight off minions. Granted, he can only comes to horror films, and with the series now at its carry a couple of weapons at a time, sixth edition, there will only be one more film before and to provide a false sense of security, the entire series comes to an end. [presumably – ed] the weapons can break. But before the whole shebang comes screeching Nevertheless, he will also be able to to a halt, there has to be the mandatory video game search corpses and toilets to find extra adaptation. Now, before you roll your eyes and shrug off health packs and pieces of a journal, the idea, Saw: The Videogame is actually rather good. which flesh out the back-story a bit Ok, it’s not Dragon Age or Uncharted good, but it’s more. not as bad as one would think. Video game adaptations Speaking of weapons, the worst part have been notoriously bad in the past, but in the last of the game isn’t the constant darkness three months or so, the adaptations have actually been or the eerie sounds coming from the enjoyable. asylum’s hallways, but the severely The premise of the game puts flawed combat “Tapp is no championship system. the player in control of David fighter, and it takes him Tapp, a former detective stuck in Tapp is no about three seconds to Jigsaw’s asylum, which is filled championship ready a strike” with bloody traps and nasty fighter, and it riddles. While clues to why Tapp takes him about three seconds to is there are given throughout the ready a strike. Three seconds might game, the player will have to slowly piece together the not seem like a lot, but when a minion is charging at you, whole story. it’s a very long time. This third-person survival horror has some interesting The problem with the combat is that even though it twists and turns, but for the most part it’s a “go from A only appears occasionally, when you get hit, Tapp takes to B, and solve puzzles in between” kind of thing. Loosely too long to recover, allowing the minion to get in a cheap based on the previous films, most of the gruesome shot or two. It’s an endless cycle of trying to dodge while and bloody traps seen before will all be present, and punching. recognisable. Other than the combat, the control system is pretty The puzzles that Tapp will be faced with range from much standard, with no frills or fuss. The buttons are easily simple riddles to more intricate designs of gear that mapped and they all perform the functions they should well need to be connected. It does however seem that the enough. developers ran out of ideas for traps, as they tend to The graphics could have been a bit better, but seeing a regurgitate a number of them, especially the Fuse Box head explode in life-like realism isn’t something that most puzzles. gamers would be comfortable with. All the characters that Luckily the doomed detective won’t be alone in his featured in the previous films will be recognisable, which missions; has he has a variety of weapons he can wield to lends some credibility to the title.

56

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

AT A GLANCE: Loosely based on the previous films, the game adaptation is rather entertaining, but it has its flaws. Developer: Zombie Studios Publisher: Konami Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

A few issues of screen-tearing did rear their ugly heads, but then again, no game is perfect and it didn’t take away from the action in any way. It was merely just an annoyance. The title’s sound is better than its graphics, and when played on a decent system, every little shuffle will be heard. The random sounds that go with lurking around in an abandoned asylum are spine-chilling, and you will find yourself looking over your shoulder often. In general, and the few niggles aside, Saw: The Videogame is an enjoyable game to play, if you can look past the repetitive puzzles and fighting mechanics. The title isn’t as bad as one would come to believe, and it might just be one of the many games that start to turn the trend of horrid game adaptations from films. It’s a definite must-have for fans of the films, and even if you aren’t that fond of survival horror titles, it’s worth a look, as it might trigger an interest in other survival horror titles like Silent Hill or Resident Evil. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

68 57


gamecca • review

Vancouver 2010

Go for Gold... ...if only just to keep warm. by Jimmy Glue

L

iving in the sunny South has its advantages, but there is one thing that we just won’t get here, ever. And that is a white winter, with snow falling for the better part of two months, letting us make snow angles and building the tallest snowmen. But for the countries up North, that is a standard weather pattern, and with all the snow and cold breezes come winter sports. Our winter sports aren’t nearly as exciting as theirs, and since playing rugby in the snow might prove difficult… maybe that’s a good thing. For them, winter games include snowboarding, skiing and bobsledding and that is why they have the Winter Olympics. Just like its Summer Olympics counter-part, it’s an opportunity for many nations to come together and test their mettle against each other in various disciplines. The 2010 Winter Games are being held in Vancouver, Canada, and with anything that is remotely marketable,

58

there will be a video game to tag along. Since we don’t follow, or possibly even care about, the Winter Games, the title might not appeal to everyone, but nevertheless, it’s a good adaptation of all the action. Right off the bat, players will be asked in what type of tournament they would like to take part, be it Challenges, Tutorial or the actual Olympics itself. Selecting Tutorial (as most people would do) is a bit redundant, as you have the option to view the tutorial anyways before starting any event. Jumping straight into medalwinning, players will need to select their nationality, and since South Africa is not represented, a second best option can be selected from (but not limited to) Germany, Britain, China or even Australia. The concept is great, but round about here is where things start looking very funny. A table will display all the possible events, whereupon the player can select in which order they would like to compete in, or just randomise the draw. It would have been nice if you could have chosen to compete as a male or female, but since players can’t, they have to run through the whole list, male and female activities included. There is no real sense of patriotism either, as players are rather unceremoniously thrown in and out of games, without any fanfare. But in all fairness, a medal standings update

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

shock. It just doesn’t work, and although the added realism is appreciated, the competitor will barrel so fast down the track, i.e. the bobsled or luge, that it is nearly impossible to see the next turn or the sides. On the other hand, a welcome change to the graphics and game dynamic is the inclusion of a first-person view, so player will be able to see what the athletes see, adding a bit more personality to the title. Vancouver 2010 is a great companion to the actual event, and although it has limited appeal to our local market, it is still a fun game to play when you have friends over. It does feature some multiplayer modes (system link and online) and challenges, so when players tire of chasing the gold, they can always opt for smashing snowmen or outrunning their friends. It’s not a title to be scoffed at, and just because we don’t understand, or enjoy, some of the events, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an inferior game. For those who like, and follow, the Winter Games, it will provide hours of fun. g

AT A GLANCE: Vancouver 2010 isn’t for everyone, but those who enjoy the snow and winter action will find it exciting. Developer: Eurocom Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

is given after each event, so player will know exactly how many medals they have won, and how many they still need to get in order to beat the top team. This is about the only time where your chosen country matters, but most of the time, player will try to win purely for themselves. The different events all have a varying degree of difficulty, and just like Beijing 2008’s video game, it’s a matter of timing as the predominant skill. A large portion of the games will involve some kind of timing device, like the Skeleton, where you have to time your hand movements in order to push yourself away and build up momentum. It might not mean a lot to our South African readers, but the title boasts fourteen events, each containing their own speed and danger, including the giant slalom, snowboard cross, downhill, and bobsleigh events, as well as female short distance speed skating. The graphics are very good, although the winner’s reaction on the podiums do become a bit generic after a while. It also seems as though the winners have no facial resemblance to their nationality, not that it’s a problem. One slight annoyance about the graphics is that the motion blur is enough to put you in tunnel vision-induced

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

75 59


gamecca • review

LittleBigPlanet

Smaller… …and yet still big by Walt Pretorius

G

ames that redefine genres are great, for two reasons. The first is that they take accepted ideas and either modify or improve on them. That’s never a bad thing. The second is that they are rather rare, making them a treat when they do come along. The original LittleBigPlanet, released in October 2008, was one of those games. The then PS3 exclusive title took the ideas of one of the oldest video game genres – side scrolling platform games – and did so many unique and new things with them that it became a massive hit. By creating an environment ‘fuelled by the imagination’, LittleBigPlanet managed to retain the ideas and principles of 2D scrollers while introducing things like more realistic graphics (rendered in 3D) and believable physics determined by materials and object sizes. It also introduced a new character in the form of the modifiable Sackboy, who has reached near-iconic status in the interim. Perhaps the biggest new idea that the PS3 version introduced, and one that has helped sustain the game and turn it into a cult classic, is the use of user generated material. By completing the various levels, players could

60

unlock items, textures, decorations, materials and a whole lot more, which they could then use to create their own LittleBigPlanet levels. These levels could be shared online with other players. It’s become a massive phenomenon, with tons of new levels added every day. Self expression through gaming, in this form, is a wonderful experience, and LittleBigPlanet made level-building an accessible pastime, thanks to some excellent in-game tools. It is small wonder then that SCEE decided to transport LittleBigPlanet onto the other Sony device; the PSP. While the PSP may have had a bit of a chequered past, the device is certainly coming into its own now, and LittleBigPlanet is one of the titles that is showing just what the handheld can do. The idea is exactly the same as it was for the PS3. The player has to guide Sackboy through a series of levels, set in a number of different overarching locations, to unlock stuff with which to make levels. The levels are all new though, rather than being repeats of those we experienced on the PS3, and the game tends to throw the player into more of a deep end than the earlier version did. It’s not a huge problem, because the game flows beautifully when all is said and done, without any compromises. It literally feels like playing the original on a smaller screen, even down to the high grade graphics and simple control scheme. The game speeds along smoothly, full of the unusual settings and mostly physicbased puzzles that made the PS3 version so enjoyable. In fact, the whole thing gives one pause for thought – developers have, recently, managed to squeeze awesome amounts of excellent performance from the PSP. The community idea that drove the PS3 version is just as accessible in the PSP

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

AT A GLANCE: An awesome miniature remake of the PS3 hit, this one will keep you busy for ages. Developer: Cambridge Studio Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor Games

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PSP Platforms

version. Players can create maps and use the PSP’s connectivity systems to upload and download new levels from central servers. It’s a fantastic pick-up-and-play title in your pocket, and well worth it for both PSP owners and fans of side scrolling platform games. The only niggle that one can level at this diminutive version of the massively popular game is that the level editor is far less powerful than that of the PS3. It’s obvious that it would be, given hardware capabilities and the like, but it does bear mentioning. The player can create pretty big levels using the game, but the normal depth of the level is cut from three ‘tracks’ to two. Other restrictions have also been applied, obviously to keep the levels a little smaller for PSP users (in terms of download and storage size) and the toolset can be just a touch fiddly when it comes to actually building levels. But the achievement is still a great one. Not only have the developers successfully transported a new version of the charming LittleBigPlanet to PSP, but they have managed to retain the UGC element that made the original PS3 version so very popular. The title is visionary in terms of the platform, and a sure sign that we can still expect to see amazing things from the PSP. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

82 61


gamecca • review

SingStar: Motown

Pappa was a Croaking Drone Warning:You probably can’t sing as well as you think you can

by Walt Pretorius

T

here are numerous games that allow us to look like idiots in front of our friends. Of course, the mitigating factor is that they also allow our friends to look like idiots in front of us, which is always amusing. It’s this kind of give and take (of dignity, in this particular case) that helps friendships grow stronger. These games vary widely in activity. There are the common type that have us jumping up and down like lunatics (generally with a Wii remote in hand) to try and best each other’s scores, or those that have us wracking our brains to try and find the answers to quiz questions that we just can’t find… on the tips of our tongues… There are even games that allow us to look like rock stars (my particular brand of head-banging and dramatic posing while playing Guitar Hero has been a source of endless mirth for those who have witnessed it) and it is amongst these particular games that the King of Social Humiliation resides… SingStar. See, singing is a bit like… well, it’s pretty much unique in the way that everyone thinks they can do it, but very few people can. The proof of that statement is easy to see – there are billions of people, but only a small part of them are successful, professional singers. Sure, you get a number of people who sing really well and do things like accounting, plumbing and quantum physics laced with rocket science, but the truth is that the majority of the population are, to quote the Bloodhound Gang, musical cripples… can’t hold a note, can’t carry a tune. So, because of this, SingStar, as a franchise, manages to deliver supreme humiliation, far better than any other game – the problem is that it’s just so much fun. And it doesn’t take any extra co-ordination to play… when compared to other music rhythm games, SingStar is dead easy. All it takes is a couple of microphones and a voice (as cracked and flat as that voice may be.) The SingStar model is simple – players buy the game,

62

which has numerous songs on the disk, and go ahead with the humiliation. There have been numerous disks released, and there are facilities to buy additional songs online. One of the newest releases is SingStar Motown, a collection of around 30 songs from a very interesting musical movement. It also ranks up there as one of the more difficult SingStar releases. Sure, SingStar Queen caused severe ego-bruising (because it’s really difficult to be quite as good at singing as Freddy Mercury, doubly so if you have the vocal talent of a bullfrog with laryngitis), but Motown manages to bring a number of very challenging tracks to the mix. I though, for example, that Pappa Was a Rolling Stone would be a good one to show off with, but ended up sounding like a tone-deaf orang-utan hopped-up on helium when I attempted to keep up with a song written for four different voices and vocal ranges. And let’s not

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

AT A GLANCE: A great addition to the series, this one will get you yelling along to some true Motown classics. Developer: SCEE Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor Games

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

even talk about I Heard it Through the Grapevine… The variety of music on offer in this one is quite wide. Female and male vocal performances are available. Naturally, as with all SingStar products, there are solo, duet and competitive options available, too. The thing is that the SingStar range is starting to get very focused, in terms of boxed product releases. This is probably because people are getting chart toppers off of the online services, meaning that boxed product needs to be a bit more niche to retain appeal. That’s a double edged sword, because niche implies a more limited appeal in the first place. Still, the Motown collection is a good one, and one that adds a whole new range of challenges for players (whether they can sing or not.) It’s one of those titles that players will buy if the music appeals to them, and not necessarily because it is an addition to the SingStar range. So, if you think you can sing (and you do, admit it) and you like Motown (and let’s be honest, it was a wonderful time for music, even with the Jackson Five included) then this is a good place to start, if you haven’t already. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

78 63


gamecca • review

Medieval Games

Ye Olde Party Games A modern take on medieval shindigs by Brian Murdoch

I

f you have, like me, played Mario Party to a long and bitter death with your friends, you’ll probably be looking for something new. Don’t be mislead by the cover art – this is one to look out for. Medieval Games consists of a huge collection of mini games that stem from a virtual board game. No matter the chosen game mode, four players are always required but, if you don’t have any friends, the empty slots will be filled by AI players. Players take turns to roll the dice to move along the board. The blocks that they land on start a mini game or cause some other kind of event. Some blocks are as basic as just collecting some coins or buying special items from the merchant, but most have mini games that involve all four players and even have a trophy for the winner. These trophies equal to coins that are needed to be the winner at the end of the game. This means that the competition between players will run high, because winning the most games will mean having the most coins at the end. There are three different boards, with a few unique rules

64

to each. The rules and boards are presented in a pop-up book story mode that is quite entertaining the first few times, followed by a list of unlocked mini-games. The cut scenes for the modes can be conveniently skipped, thankfully, as they get a bit old after a while. More boards would have been nice, because a group of players can get through the three rather quickly. They do need to be unlocked, though (to prevent the player from being thrown in the deep end) and the rules variations may result in a favourite being found, and played over and over again.

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

AT A GLANCE: It may seem like a Mario Party clone, but there’s a lot on offer here... Developer: Nfusion Publisher: Vir2L Studios Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

There are eight different characters to choose from, but no choice to customise or make your own. This is on par with similar titles (Mario Party also had limited choices) and keeps the action ‘appropriate’… not everyone can leap on a horse for a quick joust, after all. There are around 30 mini-games to be enjoyed, but getting to all of them will take some time. These include jousting, potion making, catapulting, archery, and even some silly dancing were banana peels are thrown by opponents to make the dancer slip and fall. In keeping with the multiplayer feel, Medieval Games does not require the player to complete a single player campaign to unlock all of the mini-games. The comedy in this game is one essential and needed addition: Pigs dressing up as women (and looking more attractive than the ‘real’ women), flinging a cow to finish off the enemy in the other castle, or even fighting a knight doing the funky-chicken in his underwear. Who would not enjoy a game where you see a knight do the funky-chicken in this underwear? So strap on your armour, put an end to the pig-napping Troll, save the princess from the dreaded Dragon King, and battle the evil Black Knight on the journey to become a true hero. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

69 65


gamecca • review

Borderlands Downloadable Content Roundup

Get You One! Shot one skag too many? Understandable. by Matthew Vice

D

ownloadable content for games is becoming a more common practice, which strikes me as odd, considering that only 15% of gamers worldwide even go online with their consoles at all – according to a recent study. Still, it’s an institute I thoroughly support, and so here are two good reasons to get online and download some extra content for 2K Games’s Borderlands. Currently there are two expansions available: The Zombie Island of Dr Ned and Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot. The Zombie Island of Dr Ned Having put the trials and tribulations of vault hunting behind them, our adventurers turn their eyes to other problems which need solving. In this case, they travel to an island owned by the Jacobs corporation – you know, the guys who make the guns with real raw power? Anyway, one of the island’s inhabitants, a certain Dr Ned (who is totally not Dr Zed from the last game at all) has accidentally created an army of brain-eating zombies during a failed attempt to make a simple cure for a local epidemic. With his help, players must undertake a new campaign of missions to rid the island of this new menace and save the

few inhabitants who haven’t already developed a taste for human flesh. There’s about four or five hours of straight play to be had from this expansion if players pursue the main goal, but that can be doubled if players choose to pursue all of the side missions and screw around enough. There’s nothing too outlandishly new in this expansion, save for a welcome change of scenery and a palpable cheesy ’50s zombie movie atmosphere, but there are some nice rewards to be earned and the chances of finding good and rare items seems to have been cranked up a little bit. Fighting the zombies takes a bit of getting used to as well. They don’t have shields, they don’t have guns, they don’t have grenades and they move pretty damn slowly. How then could these brainless flesh eaters possibly provide a challenge? The answer is simple: sheer relentlessness. They come in waves, they come from every possible direction, and they just keep on coming. Some of them can even vomit out a projectile, which is large and damn hard to dodge, which damages the player and causes them to stick in place for a while. There are even more unusual zombies with weirder powers lurking about, waiting for unsuspecting players to blunder into them in search of loot. Herding these zombies together and taking them out en masse is usually a good idea to conserve ammo and explosives. Mad Moxxi’s Underome Riot This expansion is unusual for more than few reasons. Moxxi is a sultry underworld queen who owns the Underdome, which is probably a tongue-in-cheek reference to Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and the concept is very much the same. Contestants line up to compete in violent death-sports for fame and rewards. If you haven’t guessed by now, the Underdome is basically a string of progressively difficult tournaments with varied objectives that players can compete in. Each

66

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • review

AT A GLANCE: If you like Borderlands enough, then these expansions are an essential purchase. Developer: Gearbox, Take-Two Publisher: 2K Games Distributor: PS Network, Xbox Live

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

issue 8 • february 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

tournament has one thing in common, the hordes of enemies the players have to face. It starts out fairly simple, but eventually Moxxi will start upping the challenge by giving the enemies advantages, like increased health, stronger shields and better weapons, and handicapping the player with things like draining health, no shields and slower movement. The interesting thing about this expansion is that the player earns no experience for killing enemies or winning tournaments. In fact, the player earns no experience at all while in the Underdome. This was probably done to prevent it from being used for power-leveling. However, there are a few good reasons to enter the dome, the first being the weapons that are dropped into the arena at the end of each match. There’s a good chance of finding something worthwhile in these periodic gift drops, especially rare Eridian weapons. The second reason to enter the Underdome would be the two important upgrades players can acquire. The first is the increased wallet size, which allows players to hold significantly more money than they could before – and anyone who has actually finished every mission in Borderlands has probably come close to or already met their cash limit by now. The second reason is the addition of a storage locker, which is something players have been crying out for since the game was released. This allows players to store their favourite rare weapons safely while they experiment with new weapons, keeping their inventory free and uncluttered and eliminating the danger of accidentally selling a precious item. This service is provided by Pandora’s favourite entrepreneur, Marcus. Initially only twelve items can be stored, but for a price, this limit can be expanded considerably. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

76 67


gamecca • beginner’s guide to good gaming

D-Pad: Used for movement functions, although generally just within menues. Sometimes used for additional game function controls.

G

aming is becoming a pervasive element of modern society. It’s everywhere, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger with every day that passes. Like it or not, knowing something about gaming is an important thing in this modern world, whether it be for the purposes of getting into video gaming, or as a concerned party who wants to know more about what can be a very intimidating industry. That’s what this section is here for. Here, we look at gaming genres, the equipment needed to play games, and a host of other topics, in an effort to educate and demystify the industry as much as possible. If this is the first time you’re reading the Beginner’s Guide to Good gaming, why not take a look at out previous issues, and see what else we had to say? It’s a massive, constantly evolving industry... you may well learn something you didn’t know. g

68

Indicator Lights: LED lights that indicate memory card access and connectivity.

Analogue Controller: Used for directional control functions in most games.

Headphone Jack: Interface plug for headphones and in-line control system. Home Button: Used to return to the PSP’s main menu.

issue 8 • february 2010

Volume Controls: Used to adjust the volume of the PSP’s internal speakers, or headphones (if in-line controls are disconnected.)


gamecca • beginner’s guide to good gaming

Gaming Anatomy 101: The PSP

Shoulder Buttons: A clear shoulder button is mounted on each side of the unit, for extended game functions.

UMD Tray: Located at the back of the device, the UMD tray holds the PSP specific UMD disks that games are produced on. It is opened with an Eject button on the top of the unit. Screen: A large, clear LCD display

Game Function Buttons: Used for various game command input fuctions.

Screen Button: Used to adjust the screen brightness. EQ Button: Used to change between the PSP’s preset sound equalisation settings primarily for listening to music

Select / Start: Used for various in-game menu functions, including accessing options menus and pausing the game.

issue 8 • february 2010

Power Switch: Used for turning the device on and off.

69


gamecca • beginner’s guide to good gaming

Lexicon: Fanboy: This usually derogatory term for fans implies absolute devotion to something, even when evidence points at it being a poor product or concept. Fanboys always praise, never question, and are uniformally annoying. Casual: Casual gamers enjoy games, but they don’t live for them. They will buy a new game occasionally, and will spend some of their leisure time playing them. Hard-core: Hard-core gamers don’t have leisure time - they have gaming time. That’s pretty much all they do (or all they want to do) and they will try to get every game they can. They are a very vocal minority.

Genre Check: CRPG

R

ole Playing Games (RPGs) didn’t start with computer or video gaming. The popular video game genre is based on ideas set forth by socalled pencil and paper games, like Dungeons & Dragons. While the ideas behind the two are the same, computer role playing games lack the human factor that traditional RPGs have... they are more limited. Still, the ideas of choice and character development hold first in these games, making them deep and engaging video game titles CRPG (or Computer Role Playing Game) titles can be difficult to tell apart from adventure games at times, but the main key to spotting one is that it should contain both character developement (across a wide array of choices) and choices that may affect the story line. Often these choices are presented as multiple option responses to what characters in the world around the player’s character say and do. While many CRPGs traditionally followed the top down, or isometric, view angle, industry leaders BioWare have successfully introduced a third person element to a number of their CRPG titles. A strong story line, sub-quests and a long play time are all hallmarks of this genre. g

Mass Effect 2

Dragon Age: Origins

Neverwinter Nights

70

issue 8 • february 2010


gamecca • beginner’s guide to good gaming

Which Platform? T

he debate about which is the best gaming machine PlayStation Portable (PSP) or Nintendo’s DS. Each has rages on every day, with fanboys from all sides strengths and weaknesses, of course, but overall the DS defending their territory with the rabid tenacity of a appeals to more casual gamers, while the PSP tends to be pack of jackals seeing off a scavenging lion. a little more hard-core. The most casual, handheld gamers The volleys don’t just include the fans, though - even the will simply turn to their mobile handset. companies making the products will fire off a verbal shot or If you want your entertainment to be home based, then two from time to time. the PC, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii come into play. The PC Is there any truth in this fight? Well, based on watching allows for a lot of versatility, but also requires a bit more the combatants from a healthy and bemused distance, work than the others. The games need to be installed, the the Gamecca Crew would say “probably not.” There is a system needs to be upgraded, and minimum specifications complete misunderstanding these days when it comes to always need to be checked when buying a game. Still, the the concept of ‘opinion’. The truth of the matter is that the versatility of the system is very appealing, making it the best console or gaming platform for any specific person traditional playground of the most hard-core gamers. is really a matter of that person’s taste, nothing more. Consoles are for those who want to stick a game in and The truly astounding thing is that people can not respect have it work. The controls are more limited, sure, but so other’s choices... but gaming isn’t the only thing that sees are the hassles. The most casual console gamers will that particular kind of bevahiour. prefer the Wii, with it’s unique motion control system and We are often asked what the best machine is, either more party-oriented, generally simpler stable of games. by those looking for a fight, or by others who value our That leaves the two main combatant of the fight opinion in the matter. The only really accurate answer is - the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Each has strengths and that it depends on what the person wanting the gaming rig weaknesses... the Xbox 360 offers a better price point, is after. and has more game releases for it. The PlayStation 3 is At the moment, gaming can be done in numerous ways. a better overall entertainment machine, with the ability There is the trusty PC, the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PSP, DS, to even play Blu-ray disks. As for performance, while the PS2 and even mobile phones. What the prospective buyer PlayStation 3 is more powerful on paper, current games needs to consider is what they want out of gaming, and are pretty much on par on either system. where their tastes lie. When chosing a gaming platform, do some research, If the person is a busy one, always on the move but with consider your own tastes and (above all) ignore the hype. time to spare between appointments and engagements, Most of it is just noise, pointless prattle just because they should consider a handheld console: either the Sony people like to have a reason to argue. g issue 8 • february 2010 71


gamecca • the lair

Where the L33t Meet by the banman

T

his month we will be taking you through some “need to knows” when looking for online multiplayer servers for your favourite PC game titles. Over the last few years multiplayer has grown in leaps and bounds, with the ever increasing availability of broadband internet connections as well as access to the latest PC hardware spurring the phenomenon on. With this in mind we find ourselves at the electronic doors to the online servers. Dedicated online multiplayer servers are the most common and it was this reason that Modern Warfare 2 took a little flak when the announcement came that there were to be no dedicated servers for the game. This meant that we could not host our own servers in South Africa, but rather had to rely on international servers. This normally leads to lag and a bad experience. A dedicated server is a collection of files that can be loaded and configured on a web server that will create an environment for gamers to congregate in and join a match. A smaller instance of the games environment is created and the server manages the internet traffic back and forward between the individual gamer and the server, thereby keeping him in the game. So now that we understand a little about servers, let’s take a look to see where we can go to find a few of them. http://www.isgaming.co.za

– IS Gaming is a division of Internet Solutions and the gaming servers sit at the Campus in Bryanston, Johannesburg. IS Gaming hosts servers for nine first person shooter games with up to eight servers per title. http://games.saix.net – SGS or Saix Game Service is probably one of the most well known sites for hosting gaming servers. SGS host 22 individual titles, with 30 individual Call of Duty: Modern Warfare servers. Breaking away from the FPS genre, SGS also offers a Neverwinter Nights 2 server. They are also hosting a server for the Flight Simulator titles as well as servers for various racing titles. SGS is well worth a visit, even if it is just to look around.

http://www.vodacomgaming.co.za – I must admit that this one snuck right up on me. But, yes, there it is ladies and gentlemen. This is Vodacom’s leap into the gaming world. Vodacom Gaming has a sleek, well put together site with news articles sourced from various other gaming portals. Vodacom Gaming offer servers for 10 titles with one server per title.

http://igameonline.co.za – This is iBurst’s gaming offering. iGame has moved into the South African space very quickly and has already made a few key connections with some of the industries major sponsors. iGame is also the only service in South Africa to offer local Heroes of Newerth servers. http://www.game-monitor.com – Game Monitor does not offer any of its own servers but does offer you the ability to surf for gaming servers in your country. Enter your search criteria and Game Monitor will attempt to find all servers in your country for the specific game you have requested. http://www.xfire.com – XFire also do not host any gaming servers. They do, however, offer a downloadable application that scans your installed games and then lets you know which of your friends are online playing which games at any given time. This is a great way of being able to see who is playing without having to fire up all your games. So now you have a few tips, a few sites to visit, and two tools to help you stay on top of your game. Catch you online!. g

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


gamecca • from space

No Fighting Chance by Columnist A

F

ighting games suck. The other day I was playing one - Tekkombat 6 or Street Calibur 4; I forget, they have such complicated names - and I came to the conclusion that they are terrible games. Sure, it’s a sound principle when the game designers are all sitting around a big board room table throwing around their ideas. “It’ll be balanced” says one. “We can have subtle references to martial arts legends like Chuck Norris or Jean Claude van Dam,” suggests another. The fighters are envisaged through speech: a ripped American guy with blonde hair; various girl fighters with realistic physics; some fat guy who’s not affected by those physics; a guy with a scar because chicks dig ‘em; and an Asian guy, because that’s where kung jitsu came from, right guys? The art style is usually very pretty to look at, whether it’s 3D or 2D. Some of the newer games are a mix of both, with 3D characters on a 2D plane. Because the purists can only move back and forth - they don’t quite understand moving sideways to dodge attacks. Special effects are included too. If not through explosions from an interactive environment, it’ll be for some guy’s flame breath or a donkey punch force field blast. If there are weapons involved prepare to be showered by sparks, and I’m willing to bet my lunch (a ham sandwich) that there is going to be at least one guy with a glowing sword. It all culminates with a lot

74

of hype from fanboys, shortly before release. I’m suckered into buying the game and giving it a go. Gosh, it’s pretty. Hey, I sorta know this guy from a movie, I think I’ll choose him as my favourite fighter. Heh this guy was easy to beat. Okay now this is a better challenge. DAMNIT COMPUTER STOP BEING SO UNFAIR. It’s worth noting at this point that you should just slow down your train of thought. Make more calculated attacks. Think about the consequences of the buttons you’re pressing. Take it from somebody who’s had to replace a few game controllers. You eventually get the hang of it and beat the final boss. Cheers all around, and now you have to use the other 15 characters to do the same before unlocking the achievement. It’s all for nothing, though. As good as you think you’ve become at the game, there will come a time - probably at Toys R Us or at a gaming expo - where there will be a lone

issue 8 • february 2010

console, somewhere in a low-traffic part of the show floor. You walk up to it and grab the controller. Now your time has come. After a few fights against the computer, an audience has gathered. You smile secretly, taking in their adulation. You. Are. The. Man. One little kid, maybe around 9 or 10 years old, walks up and asks if he can play. “Sure, punk,” you think, “prepare to get owned”. “No problem little guy,” you say condescendingly. But no, the little bastard doesn’t have skill and his little hands mash those buttons like he’s at the Olympic event for squishing bugs. No matter what you do, he somehow lands all his fluke attacks. Round 1 is his. Round 2 you restore balance. The final battle is tense, adrenaline in your veins. You don’t even blink. ARGH. That damn kid. How the?! The crowd cheers in that way crowds do when they cringe, but are actually happy. You walk off. Fighting games suck. g


Gamecca Magazine February 2010