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issue 20 / vol 2 February 2010

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s! view e r e gam

LittleBigPlanet 2 DefJam RapStar Mass Effect 2 (PS3) and more...

Finally!

Mass Effect 2 (PS3)

Tiny Trouble Mario VS Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem

Reprise

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

In the Bag Sackboy makes a welcome return


Inside 6 From the Editor 8 Unstuck Caught up in the history... 10 The Rat’s Nest Self improvement 12 Dreamland The imagination behind LittleBigPlanet 18 Previews 17 games to look out for 44 Super-sleuth Nancy Drew continues to thrill fans 48 PS Zealot The year so far... 50 Xbox Beat Breaking the seal 52 House of Mario We want more of the good stuff 54 Reviews 12 game reviews to keep you busy 76 Flashtastic Zombies are cool! 78 Stateside Things to do while you’re waiting... 80 Essential Classics Remember the Duke 82 Hardware Top notch tech and toys 98 The Lair Online video game delivery

THIS MONTH’S COVER LittleBigPlanet 2 brings out the creator in you. Read our review on page 56.

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100 From Space Ghost town Competitions: 55 Nancy Drew Hamper

gamecca contents • issue 20 • February 2011


Previews Reviews

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Crysis 2

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Motorstorm Apocalypse

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God Eater Burst

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Dawn of War 2: Retribution

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Rift

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Operation Flashpoint: Red River

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The First Templar

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Paws & Claws: Fantastic Pets

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Tiger Woods 12: The Masters

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Men of War: Assault Squad

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MotoGP 10/11

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The Cursed Crusade

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Captain America: Super Soldier

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Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

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The Next Big Thing

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Thor: God of Thunder

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uDraw Pictionary

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LittleBigPlanet 2

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Mario VS Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem

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Mass Effect 2 (PS3)

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Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

66

DefJam Rap Star

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Cruise Ship Resort

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Lost Planet 2 (PC)

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Babysitting Mama

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Eco-Match

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Raving Rabbids Party Collection

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Empires of Steel

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North American Hunting Extravaganza

GAMECCA Volume2 Issue 20 February 2011 Editor: Walt Pretorius walt@gamecca.co.za Sub Editor: Charlie Fripp Writers: Alexia Pestana Brian Murdoch Bryan Banfield Dion Scotten Dylan Bouch James Francis Richard Bingham Suvesh Arumugam Letters: letters@gamecca.co.za Competition Entries: competitions@gamecca.co.za Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gamecca.co.za Design & Photography: 1337 Media Technical Support: Brian Murdoch Marketing Contact: Katia Taliadoros katia@gamecca.co.za

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gamecca contents • issue 20 • February 2011

Copyright © 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2011

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Fuzzy Logic... From the Editor

by Walt Pretorius

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t’s been something of an odd start to the year. It seems that people are coasting into 2011, rather than taking the bull by the horns and getting right into the thick of things. That counts for the video game industry, too. There were very few new games released in January (in part a blessing, as far as I am concerned, because it allowed me a bit of a breather). One of them was our cover-game, LittleBigPlanet 2, which has caused me many sleepless nights, thanks to the fact that I am an avid level designer (even if not a very good one) and it has a great level editing tool set. But other than that, there were only one or two other notable releases for the first month of 2011. Sure, it’s the calm before the storm, with March starting a flurry of big titles hitting the shelves, before the next calm sets in. But it does make me wonder… who decides these things? It’s probably a bunch of market analysts. No offence here – I know a few of them, and am not afraid to admit it. But if there is ever a person that is disconnected from the reality they are an expert in, it is a market analyst. This is, quite simply because today’s market analysts are merely analysing trends that were put in place by yesterday’s bunch. Not incredibly smart, really. I am not a marketing analyst. I know very little about economics and that kind of tedious stuff. But I do believe that I am fairly logical, and the current trend to flood shelves all at the same time seems utterly deficient of logic to me.

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See, we know gamers will buy games. I know this one guy – let’s call him Mr Lice – that will spend the equivalent of a small country’s foreign debt each month to get all the good games. Fair enough, but wouldn’t the guy’s life be easier if the releases were spaced out a little more. Studies have shown that gamers would rather buy games than food. Do these publishers realise that they may be contributing to world hunger on a small, slightly ridiculous

scale? They scream about competition, but it’s a self-perpetuating situation. They create the competition. Gamers are going to buy the games, whether they’re released in December or June. Waiting for trade-shows and expos is a lame excuse, because the gamers already know what they want… waiting for a little more hype won’t change their minds and, in the case of casual gamers, won’t matter (because they’ll buy a game that is three years old because it looks cool.) And we have seen that big name titles released in traditionally quieter periods have done better than expected, because there was nothing else on the shelves. But the real logic-breaker is this: releasing all the games at the same clustered times in the market means that gamers will have to choose. Sure, those games that sell well might still move after the rush, but money is a limited resource and, if a gamer failed to buy a certain title because of the clutter, he is more than likely not going to save up for it… he’s already looking elsewhere. So guys, for the love of Pete, space the games out a bit. My logic may be a little fuzzy, but it seems to make sense that a more even release schedule will result in better sales. Surely? Oh, before I forget... I would like to welcome industry veteran James Francis to our writing crew... he will be contributing a monthly look at flash games, called Flashtastic. Enjoy the issue! g

gamecca column • issue 20 • February 2011


History... Unstuck

by Charlie Fripp

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have been frantically tracing the origins of my family and compiling a rather hefty family tree for the last three years or so, and a lot of interesting discoveries have been made. In the process I also became a bit of a history nut, but I knew that it was going to be a difficult task, and since there aren’t many Fripps in South Africa, the resources are hard to come by at the best of times. But in the couple of years that I have copy and pasted names, dates and places into a really cool website, I have managed to go back as far as 1756. It’s a rather awesome thought to know that direct descendants of mine lived in the time of The Seven Years’ War when Great Britain formally declared war of France. It’s also rather awe-inspiring to note that at the same time, Leopold Mozart (father to famous Wolfgang Amadeus) published his book on the methods of learning to play the violin. Moving slightly ahead in the timeline, many Fripps have made their mark in history. Alfred Downing Fripp, receiver of the Royal Victorian Order in 1903 (which by default made him Sir), was the royal surgeon to King Edward VII and King George V, before retiring in 1925. Across the pond, there were also a couple of Fripps fighting in the American Civil War, both as Confederates and Union soldiers (how that one worked, I’m still not too sure). In a more recent war, I also learned that at least five Fripp members have been made honourees on the World War II memorial wall in Washington, D.C. But the most notable person of WWII is probably Alfie Fripp. In

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short, Uncle Alfie (96) is the oldest surviving POW, having spent time in Stalag Luft III for captured airmen. It might ring a slight bell, but he was part of The Great Escape, helping to dig the tunnels and was eventually asked to remain behind, since he made good friends with the Germans and could persuade them in a manner that only he could. At this point you might find all of this very interesting, but you are probably wondering what on earth this has to do with gaming. Well, just like my family tree has evolved over the years, I was wondering how games have evolved in the same manner. We all know that the industry is ever-changing, but I was wondering if there were games related to one another that we’ll never in our wildest dreams put together. I’m sure there are games (let’s take Microsoft Flight simulator and Gears Of War, for example) that are completely different sides of the spectrum, but have their origins at the same place. Now I know I used a bit of an exaggeration to get my point across,

but I think my intention is clear. How do games get from one point to the other? What creative genius do you have to be to work on one game, and then see the potential of a completely different game? I think Peter Molyneux is one of the only people with such a creative mind, but then again, he has a whole team of people to help him in his quest. It rather amuses me that they can go from Black & White, which is a god-game, to something like Fable, which is an action-RPG. Where is the connection? How did they arrive at that point? I think many gamers, myself included, will be heartily amused if we could be a fly on the design studio wall for just one day, and hear the flow of ideas. Taking the start of that flow, following it around through the process and eventually compare it to the end product. I know I will be very entertained to learn that two seemingly unrelated games actually had their origins at a single point. I don’t really have a point with this month’s column per se, but it did make me wonder about a couple of things. Just as what my family tree is completely unrelated whatsoever to the gaming industry, it will be fun to find out where some games came from. But the real scary thing is, with the type of games and technology that we have today, what will the games of tomorrow look like? Now that is an aweinspiring thought… g

gamecca column • issue 20 • February 2011


Gaming Education The Rat’s Nest

by Dion Scotten

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t’s a fact that doing something over and over again will make you better, but better at what exactly? Improvement could be limited to a particular skill depending on what you’re doing. Some people get worse at something over time but at least they’re getting the message that maybe they should just stop. For the most of us, though, practice really does make perfect. Is there something that makes us better at everything else we do in our day to day lives? We want to be as effective as we can at home, work, school or even on the sport field. We don’t have enough time to practice everything and we don’t want to wait for 10 years before we realise how we should have been doing it in the first place. It’s a common belief that sport makes you better at running after a ball (or bleeding while holding the ball) and impacts positively on the rest of your life. Sport makes you a better individual by making you fitter, stronger and quicker at everything. No one’s arguing, I suppose. It’s just that most of these statements come from ‘sport jocks’ themselves, who, in the end, need help just to make it through school. While sport has its place and is a lot of fun, is it really the life influence it used to be? Studying is important but knowing everything about everything without practical knowledge doesn’t help you much. You will still take the 10 year journey before you realise how to use what you know. Flight simulators are the perfect example because sim flights hours do actually speed up a pilot’s experience curve and get him into the air quicker.

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So why would this not be true for all types of games? Surveys performed by different groups show how gaming improves a person’s reaction time and decision making ability. This is achieved through repeatedly confronting players with different scenarios while they’re under simulated stress. We don’t realise how many choices we make while playing games and, over time, we start to make the better choice instinctively. This influence filters into our lives and gamers, I believe, make better decision makers because of it. Does gaming actually improve your hand-eye co-ordination? Yes. Does gaming improve your reactions, accuracy and strategic thinking? Yes.

Well then let’s make it compulsory as a development tool for children. *gasp* Age restrictions are there for a reason so I’m talking about appropriate content for the right age, of course. It doesn’t stop at children either. We never stop learning and as gaming improves, so does our opportunity to develop and stay competitive. Game developers are realising their impact on our lives and their increased responsibility as technology and ideas improve. What good impact does gaming actually have in a society? So much that I would say if you are denying yourself and your children access to gaming, you are cheating yourself and being irresponsible. g

gamecca column • issue 20 • February 2011


OUT NOW PGV CARTOON NETWORK, the logo, BEN 10 ULTIMATE ALIEN and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © 2011 Cartoon Network. D3Publisher and its logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of D3Publisher of America, Inc. NINTENDO DS AND Wii ARE TRADEMARKS OF NINTENDO. “2” “PlayStation” and “PSP” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.


Feature

Dreamland Imagination and ingenuity...

by Walt Pretorius

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any things start with a dream. In fact, dreams, imagination and ingenuity have resulted in many of the most important scientific discoveries over the years. Would we be flying around the world in airplanes, for example, if the Wright brothers didn’t have those three elements to carry them forward? Sometimes, dreams , imagination and ingenuity don’t result in massive, earth-changing things… sometimes they result in things that are purely cool, fun and original. That was how LittleBigPlanet came about. And best of all, the dreams, imagination and ingenuity that went into the project resulted in a game about those exact three things. Mark Healey and Dave Smith, the co-founders of Media Molecule, had a discussion after watching the film Howl’s Moving Castle, a Japanese fantasy film written and directed by Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki. The discussion came down to drawing inspiration from both the film and their previous game, Rag Doll Kung Fu. Healey and Smith, along with Alex Evans and Kareem Ettouney, left Peter Molyneux’s Lionhead Studios in 2005, and formed Media Molecule to work on the project. They had decided that it would be a console game, and so managed to secure a meeting with the then-head of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, Phil Harrison. Instead of presenting the idea to Harrison using a PowerPoint presentation, as is often the norm, they decided to show him a prototype of their own software in action. They later admitted that the pitch was vague, and that they toned down an important aspect of their idea – creativity. But during the meeting Harrison saw the potential for the creative side of the game and brought it up. Although the meeting had originally been scheduled to last for 45 minutes, it continued for three hours, and resulted in an agreement that

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gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011


gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011

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gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011


Sony would fund the project for six months. A short while later a larger presentation took place and Sony decided to fund the whole project in exchange for exclusivity and ownership of the intellectual property. Even though Sony were backing the title, the developers weren’t exactly certain as to which direction to take the game in. They were also concerned that people would dislike, or fail to understand, the game – but these fears were dispelled at its first presentation. Less than a year into development, Sony informed Media Molecule that they wanted the game displayed at GDC 2007. What the developers didn’t know is that their presentation would form part of Phil Harrison’s keynote speech. It was only when they arrived in San Francisco for the conference that they managed to fully appreciate how strong Sony’s backing of the title was. The hype for LittleBigPlanet continued to grow until it’s intended release but, on the 17th of October 2008, Sony issued a recall on all copies and instituted a delay. The situation that resulted in this course of action arose when a PlayStation Community member reported that one of the songs on the game’s sound-track may prove to be a problem. The song, “Tapha Niang” by Malian musician Toumani Diabaté, contained passages from the Qur’an, and it was believed that it might be offensive to Muslims. The game shipped to American stores ten days later, and hit shelves in the UK and EMEA territories on the 5th of November, 2008. It received immediate critical acclaim. PlayStation Official Magazine called it “a beautifully elegant and powerful creative tool that puts unlimited potential in the palm of your hand,” while Eurogamer’s Oli Welsh stated that the game’s lighting was “as total a realisation of highdefinition as you’ll see anywhere in games this year.” gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011

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The US version of IGN’s Chris Roper said “if you own a PlayStation 3, you cannot miss this. If you don’t have a PS3 yet, this is the reason to get one.” Despite the acclaim, there were some criticisms, too. Many of these had to do with the title’s control scheme, and the way that the player moved between three ‘levels’ in the screen. Although the critics loved it, and fans became near obsessed with the game’s creative aspect and strong online community, 2008 was a tough year for new IPs. It was a massive year in terms of game releases, and many better known and sequel titles trumped new properties at cash registers. Initial sales on LittleBigPlanet were not what Sony believed they should have been, with a representative of the company stating that “in other times of the year it would be a clear number one.” But the lackluster sales soon picked up and, at GamesCom 2010 SCEE President Andrew House announced that the title had sold 4.5 million copies worldwide. In March of 2010, hints of a sequel started surfacing, with a formal announcement appearing in the June 2010 issues of Edge and GameInformer magazines. Media Molecule had made a formal announcement just a few weeks before via Twitter. What started out as a dream and a rough idea developed into a phenomenon. The initial title won numerous awards, including several Game of the Year awards, and developed a strong online following that helped drive the title forward. The creative aspects of the title, that the developers thought may leave users confused, turned out to be the strongest elements of the game, as people around the globe began creating their own levels and injecting their own dreams, imagination and ingenuity into Media Molecule’s creation. g gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011

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Previews Highlights 20 Crysis 2 Become the weapon 22 Motorstorm Apocalypse Race while the world goes to hell 30 The First Templar Exploring the myths and legends 32 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Finally, the big league 38 Captain America: Super Soldier Star spangled tights...

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f you ask us for our opinion - and keep in mind that we’re likely to give it to you even if you don’t ask - this is going to be a rather good year for gaming. Looking ahead at what the year has on offer is very exciting indeed. We will be seeing some big name sequels, as well as some very exciting new IPs. While the year still needs to find its feet in terms of video gaming, there is a lot that will start coming very soon. As early as, well, this month, we will start seeing some big name titles landing on store shelves. What follows is a number of the ones you can look out for within the next few months.... g

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gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


Crysis 2

Be the Weapon The city that never sleeps

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he first Crysis made the player feel like an angry extension of the island he was dropped onto. The Nanosuit was always the real star, letting players rise from the sea or forest like a vengeful, invisible god and smash the teeth out of any ill-fated Koreans or aliens who happened to be milling about. Crysis 2 takes this empowerment, keeps it, and hones it. Four Nanosuit powers have been streamlined to two and a half strength and cloak being the alternate states they can flip to, while speed gets you a window of invisible midair fun before the suit runs out of juice and is visible again. Because the first Crysis’ plot was a little flimsy, Crytek enlisted the help of sci-fi author and project’s story lead Richard Morgan. The world has been ravaged by a series of climatic disasters and society is on the verge of total breakdown. Set in 2023, New York City has become the focal point of an unstoppable alien invasion. Ruined skyscrapers litter the ground and aliens walk the streets freely. This is New

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by Alexia Pestana York City like you have never seen it. One man will inherit the means to survive. A super soldier wielding the combat enhancement technology of the future with the Nanosuit 2, will make the last stand to save humanity from destruction in the urban jungle. The best part about the Nanosuit 2 is that it is customisable. Using modules, the player can enhance strength, agility, combat skills, and employ tactics like enemy marking and invisibility. With the right upgrades, players can kick cars at enemies, move like Faith from Mirror’s Edge, and go invisible like a Predator on the prowl. The aliens - which may be completely unrelated to the original game’s aliens - have undergone a major redesigning, transforming the ancient, hovering, blueglowing, techno-organic warriors from the first game into high-tech armored cyborg war machines that stalk the ravaged New York. Crytek has stated their intention to surpass the original game graphically and gameplay-wise, and have noted that

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


combat in the game will be “catastrophically beautiful”. Crytek has also claimed that Crysis 2 will have lower system requirements than the original game, but will still exceed the original graphically and will also support true stereoscopic 3D. This time around, the game has made its move to console. Just as well. Not everyone can afford to upgrade their PC enough to say “Well, I run Crysis 2 on full spec”. The move to a console-friendly style of development does not appear to have shattered the the Crysis formula, but is has rather been tweaked, the better for all players, and the better to save a city that is once more under attack. In genres, the two games are going differ slightly as the original Crysis was a sandbox, the player was walking left, right, forward, back, with the occasional jump. Crysis 2 is a voluminous experience because Crytek is pushing height. Crysis 2 also features challenging best-in-class AI with unique group coordination and group behaviour systems

that will give realistic responses to the player’s actions. Weapons included are assault rifles, sub-machine guns, pistols, missile launchers, shotguns, and the usual lot. On top of these is the MOAC – a machine-gun like alien weapon that fires high-velocity ice shards, and the TAC gun – a hand-held nuclear grenade launcher. EA and Crytek have launched a multiplayer demo of Crysis 2 on January 25th, 2011. The demo is exclusively on the Xbox 360 only available for Gold members to download (not available in all areas). The demo features the map Skyline, and two multiplayer game modes to play, Team Instant Action and Crash Site. Team Instant Action pits two teams against one another in a team deathmatch style, while Crash Site has players defending alien drop pods like control points. The freedom and lethality of the first game are there in spirit, but are given a more focused approach. Crysis 2 is much more driven, a sharpened point to Crysis’ slug. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Crytek Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

Mar 2011 Platforms

Crysis 2 is a full freedom experience game with players determining how the game should be played.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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MotorStorm Apocalypse

All Hell Breaking Loose! No road has a dead end...

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nd of days has come, but while that happens you’ll be racing a souped- up car through a crumbling city. This won’t be any ordinary street racer though, with big rigs, super bikes, super cars and buggies all racing through an earthquake ripped landscape. Drive on or under the roads, in the subways and basements… even rooftops are accessible, while everything falls around you. As the city self destructs, each race will change lap to lap. Shortcuts on each track may also change while the environment changes, while walls become open doors or ramps. MotorStorm Apocalypse will include stereoscopic 3D and real time effects, eaning mind blowing and eye popping special effects. There will be up to 40 unique races available and you can customise you vehicle for each one. The game will feature 13 different classes of vehicles, including muscle cars, choppers, supercars and bikes.

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by Dylan Bouch Race in urban areas, jungles or even deserts, all ravished by natural disasters. The greatest issue I have is that this title might be more of an on-line game, with tons of downloadable content including customisable vehicles, graphic kits, and parts. Up to 16 competitors will be able to participate in a single race. With a custom creator mode you can create, share, even play new game experiences and your custom graphic designs with you MotorStorm community friends. This title seems to be an action packed racer that could be a lot of fun and might keep audiences busy for some time, if only for the fun factor side. With approximately 40 races I personally think this will be a very short game to conquer, challenge-wise. This would surely be a great party game for the close calls and the oohs and ahs, packed with edge of your seat excitement. g

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


AT A GLANCE: Developer: Evolution Studios Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

Mar 2011 Platforms

This one is too close to call, so let’s wait for the release, then hit the gas and go for glory.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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“2”, “PlayStation”, “PS3” and “ ” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ ” is a trademark of the same company.“Ô” is a registered trademark of Sony Corporation. “Blu-ray Disc” and “BD” are trademarks.. All rights reserved. Gran Turismo 5 ©2010 Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Developed by Polyphony Digital Inc. “Polyphony Digital” logo, Gran Turismo and GT are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Manufacturers, cars, names, brands and associated imagery featured in this game in some cases include trademarks and/or copyrighted materials of their respective owners. Any depiction or recreation of real world locations, entities, businesses, or organizations is not intended to be or imply any sponsorship or endorsement of this game by such party or parties. All rights reserved.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY

Stranded behind enemy lines, there’s nowhere left to run: your only option is to turn and fight. Master the Helghast’s fearsome weapons; make their ruthless tactics your own and turn their war machine against them. To survive on Helghan, you need to know your enemy.


eu.playstation.com killzone.com


God Eater Burst

Unusual Prey I’ll have fries with that…

by Alexia Pestana

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AT A GLANCE: New features will make this an exciting take on the God Eater franchise. Developer: Shift Publisher: Namco Bandai Distributor: Megarom

Mar 2011 Platforms

ack off Nigella. Experience the story of tragic repose in a completely reborn world of hunting. The earth has been trashed by unpleasant mutant beasts known as Aragami and man’s only hope against them is the God Arc weapons and the God Eaters who wield them. The battle of the God Eaters to hunt the mysterious Aragami returns to the PSP with some additional features and new content. The new action is known as the Combo Burst which allows players to pull off an even greater combo at high speeds. With the new Burst Skill, new skills can be added to the Burst Mode allowing players to make more unique characters of their own. Among these skills are Berserk which improves attack strength, and Observer that will make the enemy’s hit points visible. The AI of the non-player characters has also evolved since the first take on the game. As the leader, the player issues tactical commands to their NPCs. The better AI in the group allows for greater versatility in the hunt strategy. New bullet types have also been added into the Edit Bullet section, in which players can now enjoy an even deeper bullet customisation with the upgraded preview function. God Eater Burst also has an Avatar Card system that shows the main character’s battle statistics, and by exchanging them with other players he can use characters created by his buddies as NPC’s. God Eater Burst looks promising enough and will provide players with intense combat sequences and great co-op. Have you ever wondered what a god tastes like? g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


Dawn of War 2: Retribution

Witch Hunter

There is no such thing as a plea of innocence by Dion Scotten

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awn of War 2 Retribution is the next highly anticipated expansion to the popular DOW2 RTS series. Fans of the Warhammer 40k franchise should be lining up to get their hands on this next edition and for good reason, too. With each release we’ve been seeing more and more of the tactical elements of the Warhammer game coming through in its computerised counterpart. The reduction of squad sizes required a personal management style and the individual squad upgrades gave a nice RPG touch to the squad selection and upgrading. DOW2 Retribution is a standalone product and won’t require the original DOW2 to grant access to all of the playable races. This is good news for newcomers to the series who will get to experience the new with the good bits of the previous games, without having to fork out additional cash.

Of course a new race will be added to the already impressive list of forces, namely the Imperial Guard. Featured in this race is rumoured to be an Inquisitor character who has a special dislike for the witch. A real treat for fans of 40k fluff and just an all-round cool looking character for anyone else. The story of Retribution takes place a decade after the events that took place in DOW2 Chaos Rising and features a total of six playable races for multiplayer. The single player campaign will be playable with each race promising a unique game experience from each perspective and will still include loot and passive upgrades for units in between missions. Promising once again to raise the RTS bar, Relic are back and just keep adding to what was quite possible the most well rounded RTS role playing game ever. Don’t forget to check out our full review. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Relic Entertainment Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

Mar 2011 Platforms

The next step in the successful Dawn of War 2 series introducing a new race and additional units to the fray

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Rift

Anything Goes Variety is the spice of virtual life

by Walt Pretorius

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he MMORPG genre isn’t showing too many signs of slowing down, even if some of the ideas we see cropping up are getting a little long in the tooth. Rifts, though, looks like it might inject a whole bunch of freshness into the genre, purely based on the fact that the entire premise of the game allows for almost infinite variety. The world Telara is located near a Nexus of the Planes, and has become plagued by rifts in reality, which allow denizens of other planes of existence to swarm onto it – truly otherworldly invaders. Each rift (which I think we can read as each expansion) brings new characters, monsters and adventures to the world… which is basically a license for the developers

to do whatever they like and get away with it, using the simple justification of “from another dimension”. Not that this is a bad thing. A good variety injected into a single MMORPG title won’t hurt, and this variety extends to the player as well as the world in general. The developers are promising thousands of unexpected encounters, highly customisable characters and a ton of action in Rift. The dynamically changing world will also add a sense of novelty and often excitement to the title, which is making a play to enter a dominated genre. Will Rift be able to take on the big MMORPG names? Well, it has some fresh ideas, and features a world where anything will likely be possible. That’s a good start. g

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

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Mar 2011 Platforms

A new MMORPG with what appears to be unlimited expansion possibilities, Rift may make a good run at the already crowded genre.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


Operation Flashpoint: Red River

Blood in the Water The valleys will be red with combat

by Charlie Fripp

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gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

AT A GLANCE: Although the previous game had some flaws, Red River has a lot to prove and expand on. Developer: Codemasters Publisher: Codemasters Distributor: Nu Metro

Q2 2011 Platforms

peration Flashpoint: Dragon Rising was one of the most masochistic FPS games to be released in a long time, but it seems as though gamers just can’t get enough of the real combat simulator. In Dragon Rising, player had to fight their way through various objectives, but the game’s mechanics were so realistic that, at some points, it almost seemed impossible to complete. In a good example, the player was only able to see enemies at night if they used their heat sensor goggles, and it was virtually impossible to hide from an advancing helicopter when spotted from above. But Red River won’t aim to change any of that; in fact, they will thrive on the combat. In the new version of the game, players will once again get to battle the Chinese PLA army, while being faced with the tension, brutality and carnage of modern conflict. The title will also take a small step into the future, with the player taking control of a marine fireteam on deployment in a hostile country. The game will also feature a deeper narrative-led campaign, streamlined inventory and control system and a refined enemy and squad AI system. The improved AI will be somewhat of a bonus, as Dragon Rising had players wondering if they weren’t stuck with The B-Team. The previous game was also a bit complicated from a combat and support point of view, but Red River will change that with improved new air support options and comprehensive tutorials. If the press hype is anything to go by, then the follow-up might just be one of the big hits of the year. But we have many a time seen that press hype might just be wrong on the odd occasion. Here’s hoping that it won’t be. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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The First Templar

To Kill a King Discover the secrets of the Holy Grail

by Charlie Fripp

T

he Knights Templar and the Holy Grail have been the cause of many wars throughout the ages, and the real mysteries surrounding their existence, their beliefs and rituals have been the source of many discussions and musings. The Templars are also a subject that not many games want to touch on, and it has only been recently with the Assassin’s Creed franchise that they have started to get a bit more prominence and attention in terms of their dealings and culture. But they will be the main focus of The First Templar, an action-packed action-adventure that will put two rather unlikely heroes together to battle the Order and seek for answers. The player will take control of a French Templar and his companion, a noble lady who has been

proclaimed a heretic, in the single-player campaign, while a second player can control the companion in multiplayer mode. The game promises to deliver a whole host of fastpaced action as the characters play their part in a grand conspiracy and discover the secret of the Holy Grail along the way. But as with every good game, there needs to be a powerful villain who will stop at nothing to further his own goal, and since the game takes place in the 13th century with 20 historically accurate locations, the big baddie is none other than King Philip IV of France. The third-person adventure promises to be very exciting and action-packed, and with a role-playing element to it as well, it might just be a lot of fun. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Haemimont Publisher: Kalypso Media Distributor: Nu Metro

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Q1 2011 Platforms

The game takes on an interesting part of history, but whether they can get it right is a different question altogether.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


Paws & Claws: Fantastic Pets

KinectaPaws Spore for the Kinect

by Brian Murdoch

K

inectamals has set the standard for the fluffy and cuddly games that will come to the Kinect, so every game after it in the same genre will naturally be compared with it. Paws and Claws: Fantastic Pets sounds to be almost a clone of the Microsoft version, although with some great new ideas. Players will be able to create their own pets from a lizard-skinned dog, a pink and blue spotted cat, tiger striped horse or even a tartan dragon. I am hoping that the creature parts are not interchangeable and we don’t get the strangest creations from Spore. I even saw a Spore creature in the shape of a Wii remote once. The freaks aside, it is very impressive that players will

actually be able to create their current pet in the game and maybe, via pictures, of the ones in the ground. So if your children have lost their pet then just go out and buy a Kinect with Paws and Claws on the side to recreate that lost pal. Play with your pet in talent shows and train them to be the best pet in the show. Play with your pet as if it were in the real world and enjoy a wide range of activities. The voice recognition of the Kinect will be used in game for your pet to recognise your voice. Recreate and reflect on those fun moments with your pet by taking photos with both of you in them. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: THQ Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

Mar 2011 Platforms

Kinectimals with pet customisation. Anything goes in creation here, so we may see some weird results…

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Golfing is heading to Augusta

by Charlie Fripp

T

he Tiger Woods PGA Tour game franchise has become somewhat of a staple on the gaming scene in the last few years, with every season spawning a new iteration of the popular golfing title. In keeping with the current trend, 2011 will be no different and the next virtual edition of the PGA Tour is due to be released in April. But what developers Electronic Arts did differently for this version is that they included the most revered tournament in golf… The Masters. Players will be able to compete on the worldrenowned grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club and battle it out on the fairways and greens for the Green Jacket, one of the sport’s most sought-after trophies. Although the Masters and five other courses will be featured in the game, a couple of extra treats have also been thrown in for golfing fans. Players will be able to replay some of the tournaments historical moments in the Masters Moments, while players can assume the role of the titular golfer in Tiger at the Masters, playing through his four wins at the tournament. The game will also feature a Caddie Experience, and although players won’t be able to carry the golf bag for legendary players, they will have a caddie by their side to help them read greens and pick the right club for the shot. The franchise has never really disappointed overall, and its sure not to start any time soon. It goes without saying that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters will be one of the premier golfing games of the year .g

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AT A GLANCE: Featuring the Masters for the first time, players will be in for some wild swinging. Developer: EA Sports Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

April 2011 Platforms

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12:The Masters

Swing Like a Master

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


Men of War: Assault Squad

Big Battles

Been a while since we’ve seen one of these by Walt Pretorius

T

he World War II RTS games were all the rage a few years back – they were released thick and fast, like some kind of strategy game blitzkrieg. But the invasion calmed down a bit more recently, making new World War II RTS games a bit of a treat. Men of War: Assault Squad is an expansion on the original game, but it is a stand-alone expansion, meaning that you won’t have to have the original to play it. It’s called a co-operative skirmish game, rather than an RTS,

and it will allow players to choose Russia, USA, Germany, Commonwealth or Japan as their army. With a new dynamic AI, the developers are claiming that no two games will ever play out the same, and with up to four friends in co-operative LAN or online sessions, the replayability of the game promises to be enormous. With authentic settings, hero units and a multitude of top battle options, fans of strategy games may want to look out for this one. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Best Way Publisher: 1C Distributor: TBC gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

Mar 2011 Platforms

It looks like a promising strategy title, with co-op no less.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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“2”, “PlayStation”, “PS3” and “ ” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ ” is a trademark of the same company.“Ô” is a registered trademark of Sony Corporation. “Blu-ray Disc” and “BD” are trademarks.. All rights reserved. LittleBigPlanet™ 2 ©2010 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Developed by Media Molecule. “LittleBigPlanet”, “LittleBigPlanet logo”, “Sackboy” and “Sackgirl” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved.


littlebigplanet.com


Moto GP 10/11

The Race is On More real than ever?

by Dylan Bouch

T

he Moto GP franchise is back again and bigger than ever. So rev up your engine and get to the starting line as this simulation racer will have your knees touching the tar through the first corner. Moto GP 10/11 will bring a new handling system and improved physics , increasing the realism. If you are one of the few that enjoy arcade type racing, you will be able to in this title as well. Gamers can also put on the simulation with assists, such as brake assist and traction control. Hardcore fans will have the full simulation mode for the complete Moto GP experience . The Moto GP franchise has always had good graphics and I don’t think there will be any issues in this title. I just hope that the handling will be as great as it was in

the Moto GP 4; the titles after Moto GP 4 weren’t as good as they should have been, but with a promise of improved physics and handling, this could be a dream game for any racing fan. Career mode will be the same as the previous titles but with a slight difference… you can get your friend to join and ride in co-op as a team mate, although this will be in split screen. This could help with championship points at the end of the season. There will still be the usual time trials and a new revised “Challenge Mode “. The online play will allow gamers to complete in a championship with up to 20 players. There will also be a spectator mode online to view your competition before the race. g

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

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Mar 2011 Platforms

Moto GP is a classic and we just hope they deliver on the new handling and physics.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


The Cursed Crusade

The Old World Will Burn A story of salvation and survival

by Dion Scotten

T

here’s something mystical about the Crusades. A time of epic battles where thousands of warriors faced off against each other. The not too bright were sent to their deaths and the only ones who really benefited were zealot knights, greedy mercenaries and the crows. So it’s no surprise that great stories like Dante’s Inferno are set in this era… the religious mysticism gives the impression that more than just mortals were at work during the slaughter. The Cursed Crusade takes place during this time, as two veteran warriors unleash hell across Europe. The Fourth Crusade has been ordered by the Pope in an attempt to recapture of the Holy City but the men on the ground had other less than pious reasons for going to war. Players can choose to play Denz, a battle hardened

Templar, or Esteban, a mercenary thief, brought together by a desperate need to save their souls from a terrible curse that threatens to damn them to hell. The gameplay looks great and smacks of Assassin’s Creed but no one is going to mutter too long if it delivers action and storyline. Single and two player co-op modes will be available for players which could move the game from good to great if they get it right. Fighting is governed by a weapon based combat system that is promised to be “easy to grasp yet deep in execution”. Developers say they want to give the player an opportunity to bring his own style to combat using preferred combos linked with favoured weapons. Speaking of weapons, over a hundred different types are promised, coupled with 90 combat combos. Combining that with 5 story chapters and 40 missions, The Cursed Crusade looks like a must for fans of medieval action combat. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Kylotonn Entertainment Publisher: Atlus Distributor: TBC gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

Q2 2011 Platforms

Medieval action combat set in the time of the Crusades

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Got a little Captain in you?

by Dion Scotten

S

uperhero fans get ready for another hero standalone release featuring one of the original champions. Yes, he wears tights, they’re blue and they match his shield but you’d better not be laughing because he is Captain America. The obviously all-American super soldier is one of the classic good guys that represented the struggle between America and the Nazis of WW2. The game’s release is perfectly timed with the 2011 movie release of Captain America: The First Avenger. Captain Steve Rogers dons the colours of America and single-handedly takes on the enemies of his country and the world armed only with a shield. Gameplay will be from the usual third person perspective, which works perfectly for this type of game as demonstrated in games like Arkham Asylum. Next Level Games have a lot to live up to but if they get it right we should have another classic on our hands. Only a single player campaign will be playable and the setting will be in World War 2 as Captain America faces off against the most evil of Nazi forces. Although the same setting for the movie, they follow different storylines, with no spoilers in either direction. A well written storyline should be delivered by noted comic and film writer Christos Gage. Fans can expect acrobatic combat, a variety of enemies and explosive battles along with the occasional shield bounce off of enemy foreheads. Famous boss villains will also feature in the game, like Zola Arnim, Iron Cross and Red Skull - each with their own fortresses, traps and minions. Captain America: Super Soldier should be a fun game to play but if you are not a Captain fanatic and a little unsure, then check out our full review on the game (in a later issue) before you buy it. g

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AT A GLANCE: Captain America in a standalone super hero game against the Nazi threat. Developer: Next Level Games Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro

Q2 2011 Platforms

Captain America: Super Soldier

Stars and Stripes

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon

Bug Out! Fighting big bugs? Cool!

by Walt Pretorius

T

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

AT A GLANCE: Whether this will make it to our shores or not, it looks like it may be lots of fun. Developer: Vicious Cycle Publisher: D3 Distributor: TBC

Q2 2011 Platforms

his action title will pit human soldiers against giant insect and invading aliens in the fictional city of New Detroit. With new developers Vicious Cycle coming into the franchise, those that have played the previous cult classic, Earth Defense Force 2017 will find some changes, even though the game adheres to the casual fun and addictive dynamics that made it popular. The campaign mode will allow up to three players to team up in co-op against the nasty invaders. Soldiers in this game have access to more than 150 weapons and four armour upgrades. A six player survival mode will also be available, pitting players against wave upon wave of nasty creatures. New Detroit will be a fully destructible environment – it is up to the players to stop the giant insects at all costs, even if it means levelling the city as they do so. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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The Next Big Thing

Adventure Galore A classic feel

by Walt Pretorius

T

here aren’t too many games that remind one of the great adventure titles of yesteryear. We’re talking things like the Monkey Island franchise, or Tim Schaeffer’s classic Full Throttle. But it appears that Pendulo Studios will be following up their successful game Runaway with a title that will more or less fit into the category. The Next Big Thing is a game that takes on the classic fantastic movie genre – it even has some famous monsters from those films – with a more modern

approach. It will tell the story of Dan Murray and Liz Allaire, the main characters who undergo this often funny adventure. The developers aren’t letting any cats out of the bag storywise, though. Still, it looks pretty good – Pendulo are claiming graphics close to that of an animated film. And, with the general lack of this kind of adventure title around these days, it’s pretty certain that the game will do well. Fans of these types of titles should certainly be on the lookout for it. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Pendulo Studios Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Distributor: Apex Interactive

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Apr 2011 Platforms

This game looks like it will harken back to the heyday of adventure games

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


Thor: God of Thunder

A Storm is Coming The Son of Asgard arrives

by Alexia Pestana

E

xperience a spectacular, epic-scale original adventure in Thor’s first standalone game as he battles through numerous worlds of Norse mythology to overcome monstrous foes lifted from the pages of comics. While the game will tie in with the movie, it will not follow the plot exactly. The game, being written by author and Thor veteran Matt Fraction, will take Thor to iconic locations from the comics that are not touched in the film. The player will also see enemy characters that didn’t make the cut on the big screen. For those of you not familiar with the Norse God mythology that was adapted into a comic, Google is always a good thing, otherwise here is a bit of background: Thor is a Thunder god from Asgard who apparently does not like listening to his father, Odin, who rules the god world. Thor has now been grounded

and sent to Midgard a.k.a. Earth as punishment until he is worthy to wield his hammer, Mjolnir, and to save Asgard from his traitor brother, Loki. Each version of the game will be uniquely suited for its platform, with the PS3 and X360 versions featuring cinematic, third-person action gameplay with melee combos, ranged hammer throws, tide-turning elemental powers, and an upgrade system as the gamer progresses. The Wii version will offer a different experience, catered to the younger audience. Rather than the stylised realism of the other versions, it will be more comic book-like with a vibrant colour palette. Yes, combat revolves around swinging the Wii Remote around like a hammer. The DS version features a unique side-scrolling adventure much like Contra IV but with a hammer instead of bullets and action will take place on both screens, with massive bosses that will take up both of them. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011

May 2011 Platforms

Feel the surging power of a Norse superhero as you devastate multiple enemies with hammer throws.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

41


uDraw Pictionary

Back to the Wii Board Let’s draw some pictures

by Charlie Fripp

H

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AT A GLANCE: Fans of the original board game will simply love the digital edition. Developer: TBC Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Q1 2011 Platforms

ow many people still sit around the dinner table on a Sunday afternoon or a lazy weekend and whip out a really good board game? It might seems like a really foreign concept now, but board games used to be the only way that people really entertained themselves. In today’s ever-growing world of technology and advances, everything seems to be getting a digital edition, and board games are no exception. Not too long ago, players could buy the Lord Of The Rings DVD game, which featured a board, but the questions and puzzles were displayed on the television set. Just like that, one of the most popular games will also be making the jump to the television set, as a digital version of Pictionary will be released later this year. Taking on the same principles of the original 1985 version, the latest one will be played on the Wii and DS. The aim of the game is to guess what object your team member is drawing, and the correct answers players give in the allotted time, the better their chances of winning. The objects that will need to be drawn are divided into six categories like Object, Person, Place or Action, but players don’t have to be an Art major in order to make sense of the pictures. For the Wii and DS versions, there are 15 ways to play in single and multiplayer modes, while there are over 3000 clues to select from. It will also feature a Pass & Play mode where gamers can Play Pictionary and Pictionary Mania by passing the Nintendo DS from one team to the next. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 20 • February 2011


Distributed Exclusively by Apex Interactive Tel: (011) 796 5040 www.apexint.co.za Email: sales@apexint.co.za All rights and trademarks and logos are copyright of their respective owners.


Feature

Super-Sleuth An inspirational character

by Walt Pretorius

N

ancy Drew is an iconic character that has been around since the 1930s. She is a fictional 18-yearold amateur detective that lives in the town of River Heights with her father, Carson Drew, and their housekeeper, Hannah Gruen. She spends her time, when not attending college, solving mysteries, and has proven to be an early life inspiration for many famous women, including the likes of Hillary Clinton. The character of Nancy Drew was dreamed up by Edward Stratemeyer after he had created the Hardy Boys series in 1926. The Hardy Boys had proven to be so successful that he decided to create a character, very similar to the boys, but more appealing to young women. The character had several names when he first pitched the idea to publishers Grosset & Dunlap; Stella Strong, Diana Drew, Diana Dare, Nan Drew and Helen Hale. The publishers liked Nan Drew best of all, but suggested that the character’s name be lengthened to Nancy. The first four Nancy Drew novels were published in 1930, and became an overnight success. The popularity

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gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011


gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011

45


Feature of the character has spurred them on through almost one hundred years’ worth of publishing time, and has given rise to several other forms of media exposure. This includes films, TV and, of course, computer games. The Nancy Drew computer games are a must for any girl who has a taste for adventure, a keen eye and a nose for mysteries (much like the titular character herself.) The games are presented as adventure titles, the kind of mouse-controlled point-and-click adventures that series like the CSI games make use of. The player is presented with generally static images showing their surroundings, which they can explore to find clues and other useful information. True to any detective story, the player will also be able to conduct interviews, and will need to pay careful attention to who is telling the truth and who is lying. The games are extremely simple to play, which adds a lot of appeal to them. But the mysteries aren’t always the easiest to solve, bringing a level of challenge and

46

replayability to all the titles. There have, between 1998 and 2011, been 25 different titles released in the Nancy Drew Adventure series, and two released in the Nancy Drew Dossier series (in 2008 and 2009.) Players should obviously not expect high end graphics and extreme physics from these games but, in all honesty, that’s not what they are about. Besides that, the target market for these games won’t necessarily be interested in the more technical aspects. Instead, good stories and a relaxed pace are the order of the day, allowing players to seek the answers to mysteries at a more leisurely pace. Nancy Drew has proven to be an inspiration (at best) and great entertainment (at least) to millions of girls (and we’re sure a few boys, although they likely won’t admit it) for many, many years. Even though it seems like reading is taking a downturn these days, it is still possible to bring the spirit of clean adventure encompassed by the Nancy Drew books to new fans, thanks to these well put together, accessible games. g gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011


gamecca feature • issue 20 • February 2011

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2011 Kickoff PS Zealot

by Suvesh Arumugam

2

011 is well on the way, and there is no rest for the game industry, with the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show having already set the tone in Las Vegas from 6-9 January. It’s amazing to see the unbelievable tech that will soon be gracing our offices and living rooms. Gaming was not a big player at this year’s show, which mainly featured tablet pc’s and big screen TV’s. Mitsubishi apparently displayed a 92 inch 3D TV, while other companies, including Toshiba, announced new glasses-free 3D TV technology. Great news for me, I’m not looking forward to having to wear dorky goggles to enjoy 3D games. Though I must say Samsung, which won this year’s award for best HDTV, had a demo 3D model at a store that blew my mind. Let’s hope they can have the same quality without the headgear. Razer and Sixense also finally delivered motion sensing gaming to PC gamers with their new peripheral that should be available in stores soon. Sony, as usual, put on a spectacular show, which apparently included Seth Rogen and Cirque du Soleil, while also demonstrating some amazing gadgets. Sony’s new Bloggie range of cameras is the first affordable 3D camera, also using glasses-free technology. They apparently have two hi-res lenses, and capture full 3D. It will be interesting to see if webcams, like the EyeToy, will eventually become 3D. Would certainly make video chatting more interesting. Sony have since held more press conferences in Tokyo, specifically

focused on the next portable console, or NGP (Next Generation Portable). There has been much speculation in the last month over the successor to the PSP. The press conference comes in the wake of numerous “leaks” which have swept the internet recently. So far, this new monster handheld looks like it’s more in the iPad category, with multiple cameras and touchscreens, 3G & WiFi, etc. There are even rumors that an Android-based Sony Ericsson Xperia Play PSP Phone could be on the cards. There are already currently Call of Duty, Resistance and Uncharted games being developed specifically for the new console, which is planned to land in stores sometime later this year. Sony recently shut down all attempts to mess with their proprietary software. A judge gave George Hotz 10 days to turn over all his hard drives and any materials related to his hacking of PS3 consoles. Any firmware, games and other pirated software he had developed and sold over the internet were to be turned over, with the damages due to Sony still to be decided. Sony charged him with so many copyright violations, he will most likely never be allowed to use anything more sophisticated than a calculator for the rest of his natural life. For the most part, the PS3 gaming world has been relatively quiet, and not much has been spoken about aside from the NGP, and its peripherals. Some good news, if you’re a Tiger Woods Fan, is that

Tiger Woods 12 will finally include the Masters tournament. It may not seem like a big deal, but for golf fans, it’s like a tennis game without Wimbledon, or a Formula One game without Monaco. And it’s also the event that Tiger is famous for dominating. More news on Rockstar Games upcoming blockbuster, LA Noire. The game’s Australian developer’s promise that this will be nothing like Grand Theft Auto. The game promises something very different, including interrogations using advanced facial scanning technology. But the game is only due for release in May this year, so for the next few months, the only titles to really look out for will be Killzone 3 at the end of Feb, as well as Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. And that’s the month that was. g

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


AVAILABLE 25 FEBRUARY 2011

AVAILABLE 25 FEBRUARY 2011

Enter a dark and dreadful 17th century Europe plagued with witches and fo Play as executioner Heinrich and use your razor sharp scythe to shred e Use Gretchen’s explosive witchcraft to inflict sky-tearing devastation o Enter a darkTear and dreadful 17th century Europe plagued with witches foul with demons countless demonic creatures limb fromand limb gruesome finishing Play as executioner Heinrich and use your razor sharp scythe to shred enemies You are immortal, butto not immune from pain – on guard Use Gretchen’s explosive witchcraft inflict sky-tearing devastation foes your mighty streng Tear countless demonic creatures limb from limb with gruesome finishing moves You are immortal, but not immune from pain – guard your mighty strength well

KNIGHTS CONTRACTTM & © 2011 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. All rights reserved. Published by NAMCO BANDAI Games Europe SAS. Distributed by NAMCO BANDAI Partners SAS. company.

TM “PlayStation”, “PS3”BANDAI and “Games ” are or registered trademarks Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ Partners”SAS. is a trademark of the same KNIGHTS“2”, CONTRACT & © 2011 NAMCO Inc. trademarks All rights reserved. Published by NAMCO BANDAI of Games Europe SAS. Distributed by NAMCO BANDAI “2”, “PlayStation”, “PS3” Xbox and “ 360, ” are trademarks or registered of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “ ”group is a trademark of the same company. KINECT, Xbox, Xbox LIVE, and the trademarks Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. KINECT, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft.

18V


The Great Un-Boxing Xbox Beat

by Bryan Banfield

I

’m not sure if you are like me. Well, you probably are not, but I’m the guy that high-fives the customer that walks out of said retailer with a newly purchased Xbox 360 under their arm. The guy that will congratulate you as you walk past me in the mall with your new Xbox 360. The one that tells you what a great purchase you have made and how much fun you are going to have. Being part of the community means that we are very passionate about our platform, the Xbox LIVE Service and are very welcoming of newcomers. (COD Multiplayer excluded!) With this in mind, let me tell you the story of “The Great Un-boxing of 2011.” I have a friend, Robert, that lives in Hout Bay. Every now and then when I go to visit him he will ask me to collect a package from www.take2. co.za to bring through for him. Take2 is right round the corner from me. Robert is a PC gamer and runs his own software development business. So as most business owners know, your gaming time becomes limited. On top of this, Robert is a PC gamer.

So I arrive at Take2 to collect the package and what do you know? I’m there to collect Robert’s new COD: Black Ops 250GB Xbox360 bundle. I had to chuckle. When I called Robert to congratulate him (even though I was on my way to his house) he told me that it was about time he got himself a console. When I got to Robert’s house we began the Un-Boxing. I had small flash backs to 3 years ago when I had my original Xbox 360 un-boxing myself. As the expert (self-proclaimed, that is) I took it upon myself to explain the grand console to my friend. How to set it up, fly off the handle about no HDMI or component cable. How

to sync wireless controllers, setting the best picture quality out of your Xbox and screen. Setting up his Xbox Live Silver Account and the crazy avatar creation process. Oh the nostalgia, the awesomeness of the moment, and a new Xbox-er was born. I had packed a few games for Robert to try out. Do you love driving games? Well you have to try Need for Speed Shift. It’s one of the best out at the moment. Military tactical shooters? You have to play Rainbow 6 Vegas 2. I loved every second of the game. Flight sims? Well then you are going to love Tom Clancy Hawx and Hawx 2. Robert loved Tekken, that’s where he and I crossed swords. Super Street Fighter IV is where it’s at. A little split screen multiplayer and an explanation of the Xbox Live Arcade and we were finished. My 3 hour Xbox 360 Lecture was complete. Robert was ready to graduate for Bryan’s School of all things Xbox. Un-Boxing are amazing. It’s fun to watch new players open up the package and rummage through the cables and documentation. And setup their console. I have watched a few Un-Boxings on YouTube but it really does not capture the excitement and fun. This year take the time to introduce your friends to your console world. Give the greatest gift of all... That of a Great Un-Boxing in 2011. g

This page is provided by Xbox Gamer 42

www.xboxgamer.co.za


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More ! More! More! House of Mario

by Brian Murdoch

T

he news that is flowing after the announcement of the 3DS’s arrival date and price is greater than the floods that we are having. If you don’t know, it’s out in South Africa and Europe on the 25th of March and should be around R2500. One of the best features is the new Nintendo friend code system. Yes, the story of having one friend code for one games and then having to re-add your friends with a different code on another game is gone. We will now have one code per player and if they are your friend they will stay that way, until they beat you in Mario Kart and you hate them so much that they are removed off your friend list. This might be the case without even hating them as the limit to the number of friends is currently looking to be around 100. Sony’s PlayStation network has the same limit and the Xbox Live has 10 times that amount. So why would Nintendo settle for only 100? It sounds like a lot but you quickly find by just checking your list of friends on FaceBook that you don’t even have to be that popular to have more than 100 people that you play games with, or just have some association with. This, coupled with the number of games that you might see people stop playing, only to start later again.

If this is the case then I see a sort by “time last played” and if you have not played online in the last month, bye! This being a no-so-confirmed number I am hoping that it’s not 100 and more like 1000, or for an update coming out to fix it if that is currently the software or hardware limit. This will first be available on the 3DS and I hope they bring out the same in an update for the Wii. Another point that I seem to be the only one upset about is the real cash value of the games being displayed on the online store. This is so gamers don’t need to try calculating the actual price of the title and just see the actual price. PSN has the rand value displayed and Xbox display “Microsoft Points” (as if there was a way to earn “Microsoft Points” without money). The main reason

for my complaint comes from the unstructured way that Xbox keep their prices. The game publisher decides what the price in “Microsoft Points” is going to be. Nintendo had them controlled into very easy categories by price. DSi and Wii Ware were divided into Free, 100, 200, 500, 1000 points with the odd exception of 1200 points. Now, because of this price categorisation, players expected a certain length or quality in the game and most of the games delivered in their price category. With the price now open and publisher able to set their own prices, with some Nintendo governance, they can be anything and we now have no bar to pre-judge them with. I’m sure there are a lot of people that know that some games will set their price at what everything else is on the shelf, just so that it does not look cheap. These games will drop their prices in the next weeks or months to a lower price than they are worth. So players can actually tell the quality of the game by seeing how long it takes for the price to drop. A biased side note is that Mario Kart Wii is still the same price that it launched with 3 years ago! That’s quality and a very good demand. The problem comes in that the prices on the Nintendo online stores change on exception (less than 1%) and now it will become the norm. All this effort in making it easier for the gamers to see the actual price and South African will still have to convert Pounds (GBP) into Rands (ZAR). g

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You won’t only find reviews, news and great community features at www.nintendogamer.co.za. You will also find extremely informative FAQs all about the Wii & DS platforms, and the games you can play on them. At www.nintedogamer.co.za, we want to make sure that the most accurate information & support is free and easy to find.

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Reviews Highlights 56 LittleBigPlanet 2 He’s bag! Er, back... 60 Mario VS Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem Lemmings meets TIM? 62 Mass Effect 2 (PS3) Finally... 64 Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Deep RPG action 66 DefJam Rap Star Bust some rhymes!

J

anuary has been a rough month for gamers. With very few exceptions, it has been extremely quiet. This month will likely be on the quiet side as well. There are a few games coming out, of course, and things start hotting up towards the end of the month. But, until then, you need to contend with what’s available... not that that’s a bad thing. Games like LittleBigPlanet 2 and Mass Effect 2 for the PlayStation 3 are well worth experiencing. g

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gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011


c ompe t i t io n • c omp eti ti o n • c om pe tit ion • com pe t ition • com pe t it ion

Solve the Puzzle!

WIN A

Hamper of Nancy Drew games Courtesy of Apex Interactive

TO ENTER: Send an email to competitions@gamecca.co.za Tell us who created the Nancy Drew character. Insert ‘ND competition’ in the mail’s subject line. Subscribe to www.gamecca.co.za Join Gamecca’s fan group on Facebook Competition closes 30 November 2010. Gamecca subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Hampers may not include a copy of the game. Games may be ‘white label’ products. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC and Apex Interactive The judges’ decision is final.


LittleBigPlanet 2

Imagination Runs Wild It’s the same, but much better…

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hese days it takes something special to make a game unique. There are so many games that are similar to others in many ways that it seems like originality doesn’t always enter into the mind of developers when they put games together. With so many carbon copies flooding the market, true originality is becoming more and more rare. That counts for games that fall into defined genres, but do things differently too. Take Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet as an example. It fell into a defined genre: it was a platform game. But the approach that the developers took was unique, putting the title into a world fuelled by imagination, and populated by a lovable character called Sackboy. In fact, the whole imagination-thing within the game came with an almost child-like innocence. The levels were built out of every day materials – like cardboard, wood and sponge – and made to look like other things with decorations that spoke more of the mind of an innocent than a hardened gamer. The end result was absolutely captivating.

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by Walt Pretorius

Media Molecule went further along the originality stakes, by adding a rather complex physics system to the game. With this system, things reacted the way one would expect. Metal was heavy. Sponge floated in water. Cloth surfaces could be grabbed. Then, just to add a hefty dose of icing to an already alluring cake, they went and included a rather good level editor, allowing players around the globe to create and upload levels for others to enjoy. The resulting community was massive, and strong. It’s no wonder, then, that LittleBigPlanet got a sequel. That, of course, knocks the originality of the franchise a little bit; as soon as single titles become franchises, originality takes a back seat, out of necessity. But it doesn’t take away from the novel approach and overall imagination that is present in these games. LittleBigPlanet 2 is pretty much more of the same thing. The single player game is comprised of numerous themed levels that the player needs to traverse, unlocking new items to use in decorating and level building later.

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The levels have sections that need to be completed cooperatively, and each one has a high replay value, thanks to unlockable sections that can only be accessed by placing the right sticker in the right place (and the right sticker is often only found in later levels.) If you enjoyed the game dynamic of the first game, you will likely enjoy this one… but don’t expect a hell of a lot of new stuff. There are new things to the single player game, though; first off, it has a story now, rather than just being a bunch of imaginative levels. The camera does a lot more, too, showing the player more dramatic angles at times. And there are also new tools and toys to be used. In addition, sections of the game take on an entirely different feel, sometimes becoming a top-down shooter, or a side scrolling shooter. There are even “mini-game” levels that allow the player a one-life shot at getting a high score in a variety of different challenges, ranging from races to puzzles. So, as much as it is more of the same, there is a certain freshness to the single player experience.

gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

But where LittleBigPlanet 2 truly shines is in the level creator. And so it should. The longevity of this game – and its predecessor – is based on user-generated content. If it wasn’t for the community keeping the game alive with new content, created by users around the world, it would be a very short lived game indeed. However, the level editor in the first title had a few issues. We’re not talking about unoriginal levels… those are the fault of the people creating them. What we mean is that there were certain tools that were difficult to work with, and certain things that just couldn’t be achieved at all in the previous level editor. Media Molecule have addressed that in this new game. The level editor is much more powerful this time around, with many more tools allowing the player to make a massive variety of different levels. Old tools have been tweaked as well, with added functionality and control over the tools meaning better control and precision over the levels created. There are new materials to be unlocked, of course, and

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many new objects. Additionally, materials and objects unlocked in the previous game can be used in this new version. This places even more variety at the player’s disposal. Additionally (and something which people who have tried their hand at building levels will be thankful for) the limit on level sizes and objects has been increased quite dramatically. Also, creators can now link levels together, resulting in longer challenges for those who download their work. All of the features – which include the player being able to build effective AI characters – are extensively covered in a series of tutorials. For a refresher, the player can even run specific tutorials, related to the tools they want to use, right out of the tool menu. Imagination is key here, and creating levels or downloading the creations of others is fun. But that’s the real crux. If you’re going to draw the most out of LittleBigPlanet 2, you’re going to want to either build levels, or download the levels that others make to play. Playing this as a single player game only, or even as a co-op with friends, won’t give the player the full

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experience. More so than ever, LittleBigPlanet 2 is about the community that supports the game, and not so much about the game itself. This is evident in the fact that the single player game is shorter than before – this time around, the player will breeze through the game in a day or two, excluding replays to go and unlock all those extra unlockables. And the only real reason to do that is… you guessed it, building. Unless you’re planning to take your experiences online – whether it’s to play the campaign, the versus levels and the co-op sections, or to create and download stuff to and from the community, your enjoyment of LittleBigPlanet 2 may be short lived… intense, but short-lived. The real joy (at least, in my opinion) is constructing nefarious levels to challenge and excite others. This is a very rewarding experience (particularly when everything works just right). No matter how you choose to enjoy Sackboy’s new adventures, they are fun. Don’t let anyone dissuade you by saying “it’s the same as the last one.” This new title is as deep, engrossing and enjoyable as the first outing of the franchise, if not more so. g

gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011


LittleBigPlanet 2 is the same as the original, but much better… especially for level-building. Developer: Media Molecule Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

AT A GLANCE:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

92 59


Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-land Mayhem

It’s a-Crazy Donkey Kong is a woman-thief

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ario vs. Donley Kong Mini-Land Mayhem is not a new franchise but it’s the first one that has come to South Africa. Mini-land Mayhem is the fourth in the series and I’m sure it will not be the last. Mario and Pauline are celebrating the grand opening of Mario’s new outdoor theme park, Mini-Land. It a wonderful day, and the first one hundred customers will receive a new mini Pauline toy. Donkey Kong again arrives too late and does not get a toy; this gets him angry and, as we know, Donkey always gets what he wants. So Donkey Kong takes off with the real Pauline instead. Mario then gets his Mini Mechanical Marios and jumps on the Super Mini Mario Express train to catch up with Donkey Kong and to try and save Pauline. The game is a combination of Lemmings and TIM, branded with Mario. The Lemmings part comes in because the Mini Marios will just walk off the edge of a cliff and

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by Brian Murdoch not think to stop before the razor sharp cutters below. They also make a cute noise and shake their heads just like a Lemming does when entering the door. The TIM (The Incredible Machine) part comes with the construction that is needed in the stage to solve the puzzle, i.e. get the Mini Marios into the door. There are eight stages with a Final Battle, Special Levels and Expert Levels. The levels have each their own set of puzzles with a key puzzle at the end. In each stage or puzzle players need to move blocks, change the direction of trams, build railing and even turn enemies into blocks to get all the Minis into the door. To make things a little more challenging there is a time limit and after the first Mini is in the door a counter starts before the door is closed permanently and any other Minis are left out. If this happens the level is failed and players will need to start again.

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Minis with the barrels and junk that is thrown down. If eight stages of ten puzzles each and two extra hard stages are not enough, players will be pleased to note that the game is not finish after that. I’m not even talking about the stage creator and sharing these with other players as an extra challenge. I’m talking about the Plus Mode. The real challenge in plus mode comes with Mini Mushroom Men added with the Mario Minis. The order in which the Marios and Mushrooms need to go into the door is specific and the most basic of puzzles become very difficult. Only when these extra eight stages and the final boss battle is done can players truly claim that they have finished the game. The puzzles are not that long and very satisfying to complete. I have returned again and again to this game for more tries at the Expert and Special stages and it has truly given me hours of joy. g

AT A GLANCE: More of the same as the previous Mario vs. Donkey Kongs, with better tools and other ways to use the Mini Mechanical Marios. Developer: NST Publisher: Nintendo Distributor: Core Group

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

DS Platforms

In the key stage before the Donkey Kong Boss Battle only one Mini has a key and he needs to get in the door first. The stages become increasingly more difficult as the game goes on. There is a card in each level to collect and collecting all the coins and cards in the level under a certain time will get the player a cup. Collect the cards to spell out MINIMARIO and the mini game is unlocked in each stage. The coins are just for points but the cups are to unlock the Special and Expert stages in the end levels. Previously the puzzle solving was put on hold for the boss battles and players would control a different Mini Mario Mortar to project the Minis at Donkey Kong and get him down or hurt him to get Pauline away and safe. In Mini-Land Mayhem the puzzles don’t stop and they are incorporated into a live solving puzzle. Players need to get the Minis walking to the four different locations to blow up bombs or pull levers before Donkey Kong breaks all the

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

82 61


Mass Effect 2

At Last!

The franchise finally makes it to the PS3

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he thing about exclusivity in the video gaming world is that some people are denied the pleasure of games. Let’s say, for example, that you wanted to play Mass Effect when it first came out, but you owned a PS3. Well, you’d be buggered, pretty much. Mass Effect was released by Microsoft, originally, and it was only released for the Xbox 360, and PC a little while later. This is one of the things that make third party publishers so cool. First party stuff is always going to be exclusive. Sony won’t release a game for the Xbox 360, much like Microsoft won’t do so for the PS3. But third party publishers generally throw their nets wide, covering as much of the market as they can. It was a bit of a surprise, then, when Mass Effect 2 came out for Xbox 360 and not the PS3 early last year. See, developers BioWare were distributing through

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by Walt Pretorius

Electronic Arts at that point… one of the bigger third party distributors. The matter has been remedied, though, with the release of Mass Effect 2 for PlayStation 3. And, as an added bonus, a number of the DLC missions that were available for download by Xbox owners have been included in the PS3 version. Now PlayStation adherents can also enjoy the powerful, emotionally charged story and massive, diverse universe that is Mass Effect 2 (even though they still won’t be able to get the first, still Xbox 360 exclusive game). The game is pretty much exactly like the Xbox version, save for the added DLC. It tells the continuing story of Commander Shepard and his faithful crew, who must take on a new (very old) threat to the galaxy, in the form of the Reapers and Collectors, two nefarious alien races bent on

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buy it. Even if you have played it, it’s worthwhile to reexperience Shepard’s tale, and live through some of the great DLC missions. The only real problem, of course, with this PS3 release is that the Xbox gamers out there still have the jump on everyone else. Yes, there are added extras in this title, but it’s a year after the Xbox 360 release. In fact, that particular platform will be seeing Mass Effect 3 arriving not too long from now, which may leave a bit of a sour taste in PS3 owner’s mouths. Hopefully it won’t be a year before the release of Mass Effect 3 on PlayStation 3, but time will tell on that one. Either way, it’s a great game, whether you have played it before or not. The graphics are excellent, the game dynamics are smooth, and the story is superb. The big plus of the added content makes it even better. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s a great game, even if it is a year late. But there’s added content to make up for that… Developer: BioWare Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

destroying everything they come across. Shepard heeds to put together a crack team to take them on, which is where a lot of the meat of the story comes in. And it is a long game, without a doubt… even without the added six hours (or more) that the included DLC packs provide. Much of the player’s time is obviously taken up by the main story, but side quests also abound in this game. And, even better, the player has an almost free reign to trot around the galaxy and collect resources, to improve upon their equipment. Even if there is a lot to do in the game, is it worth replaying? Well, let’s answer it like this: is the sky blue? Mass Effect 2 is one of the brightest stars in the BioWare galaxy, which has a number of really sparkly things in it already. If you haven’t played it, and you enjoy a good action RPG, don’t even think twice about rushing off to

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

92 63


Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Not Just an RPG Don’t let the sun go down.

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olden Sun: Dark Dawn is a refreshing RPG (Role Playing Game) as it brings something new to the genre. Even if these new things are small it is nice to have a change from the standard RPG elements. Golden Sun is all about Psynergy, a spell system of earth, fire, wind, and water elements that can be harnessed by adepts to use in battle, but also to solve the puzzles around the world of Weyard. Use the characters in your party and their individual strengths to manipulate the environment around you. This is done to either reach a higher or lower location to open a chest or find a new Djinn, and also to unlock a maze to get to the other side or through the temple of puzzles. Most RPGs games have these barriers to set limits to stop access to an area until a power, ability or object is obtained to continue the story but Dark Dawn seems to incorporate it into the game more so. The player starts off with Matthew and Terrell, two adepts, sons of Isaac and Garet, the heroes of the previous Game Boy Advanced titles, Golden Sun and

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by Brian Murdoch Golden Sun: The Lost Age. Don’t worry if you can’t remember those details as the other great feature of the game is the comprehensive encyclopaedia. This book is more than just a reference guide that in other typical RPGs tells you how to move and attack. In this, character profiles, Djinn details, how to use them and even stories from the last game so that the player does not need to have played the previous titles are included. Most key words in the dialog are hyperlinked to the encyclopaedia to give the player a quick reference to understand missing details, to fully appreciate the dialog at the time… and they even show the player if they have visited the link before. Matthew is the group’s leader by default and is the character that the player moves around when the group becomes compact for travel. He is a powerful Venus adept, taking after his father, controlling the earth and ground around him. Terrell, his best friend, is not so stable and is the definition of a pyromaniac. Being a Mars Adept, he has a fiery personality and the skills to match. The last

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Aside from just helping the character with skills, the Djinns also have their part to play in combat. They can be summoned to just cause damage or heal a party or, if “set” to a player, can be combined to create a wide ranges of other creatures. Using the Djinns in combat in some of these ways will give experience to the character in their adept element and boost their nature skill. There are so many different ways to equip and set the Djinn that having and find more will just add to your inventory of skills. Weapons are used by the adepts as well, but don’t play a major factor in the game. The characters do learn how to be more efficient in a type of weapon which, when added to their elemental skill, does do a lot of damage but these are secondary and mostly used when the mana runs out. Dark Dawn throws a lot of different skills together into a game and gives the player the excitement of using them all to their will and liking. It is a game that if someone did not get you one for Christmas, you should get for yourself. g

AT A GLANCE:

Dark Dawn is the follow on from two successful Game Boy Advanced titles and a great continuation of the story. Developer: Camelot Publisher: Nintendo Distributor: Core Group

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

DS Platforms

member of the main group, and the most needed to bring the other two to reason, is Karis, a Jupiter Adept that sparks electricity from her finger and can pull the most amazing things out of the wind and have it do devastating damage. Other characters are met during the story and it’s up to the player to choose who can join the party. Depending on whether they feel the need for having an allrounded team, or to specialise in one way. There were 72 Djinn in the previous version of the game and they are all back with more added to mix things up. Each Djinn has its own unique influence over adepts’ stats and abilities, and combining them gives an even greater list of permutations. Players need to allocate the Djinns to the characters and, other than being forced to evenly spread them out where ever possible, the choices of combinations are theirs. The obvious combinations are that a Mars Djinn with help and boost the powers of a Fire Adept and the Wind Adept will do well with a Jupiter Djinn but the combinations will give the character new skills to use inside and outside of battle.

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

87 65


DefJam RapStar

Bring It!

Busting out some rhymes, yo…

by Walt Pretorius

T

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AT A GLANCE: A good rap karaoke game, which is something that has never existed before. Developer: Terminal Reality Publisher: Konami Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

he karaoke game genre has been around for a good couple of years now, and the various titles from the various franchises have delivered a wide selection of songs for us to humiliate ourselves with in front of our peers. But the one thing that has always been handled poorly – if at all – is rap music. See most games work on some kind of pitch measuring system to determine the player’s performance, not paying attention to rhythm too much, and certainly not caring what the player is singing in terms of words. This didn’t work for rap music. DefJam RapStar does it differently, though. This game is all about rhythm and words and, if you don’t get it right, you can’t really fake your way through it. From that point of view, it’s an excellent game. On the down side, the game features a very varied and sometimes obscure list of 45 songs, with more DLC added weekly. Also, it’s a fairly niche market that will buy it. Yes, rap is huge, but just as the Guitar Hero games appeal to certain people, so will this one. With a fairly strong online component and many great ideas, DefJam RapStar is a great start to what may become a strong franchise in the future. A little more focus on specific rap genres won’t go amiss in future titles, as the song list in this one is a little eclectic. Also, some of the censoring on the songs is a bit iffy and inconsistent. g

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

79

gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011


Cruise Ship Resort

Ship Life You can keep it!

by Brian Murdoch

T

gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

AT A GLANCE: If this game is a true reflection of what a cruise ship is like I’m not going on one ever. Even if you pay me. Developer: GameMill Publisher: Frozen CodeBase Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

he games that are found on a real cruise ship are really what you make of them, and are helped with the people who play with you. Imagine that you are playing these games and the people don’t talk or laugh, and are old! The 10 games provided on this sports / party Wii title are about as fun as that. Narrator: “Welcome to the Cruise Ship Resort, we understand that you have paid money for this and we will provide you with a few more activities than just sitting around in the sun on a boat. On the Ship there is Clay Pigeon Shooting, Rock Climbing, Mini-Golf, a Driving Range, Skii Ball, Ping Pong, Roulette tables, Black Jack, Craps and Shuffle Board.” The game that most disappointed me unfortunately was the first game I played… Ping Pong. I would rather watch paint dry then play that again. In the game each player would need to swing the Wii remote to hit the ball in time back to the other player. The problem I had was the lack of motion; the player seemed to be a cardboard slice that shuffled along a line by the table. With other options and even the Wii Sports tennis getting better reactions and movements for the player, why bring out something worse? The game I really saw a lot of potential for fun was Trip Shoot. Here you would arm the player with a three round shot gun and shoot the clay pigeons that another player is throwing. When having four players this is super fun as the two players throwing can alternate the interval that the clay pigeons are thrown. They can also take advantage of when the gun needs to be reloaded. The rest of the games are fairly good… only adults will catch on quickly how to get max score in some games and the challenge is taken away. These game will work for children under the age restriction as they tend to not see the obvious catches to beat the system.g

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

34 67


Lost Planet 2

Big Bugs

How Do You Lose a Planet? Twice…

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ost Planet 2 is set on the planet of E.D.N. III, which has been colonised by humans for about 100 years. There are several factions in place on the planet including, but not limited to, Snow Pirates, Mountain Pirates, Jungle Pirates, Carpetbaggers and NEVEC. The planet was originally wrapped in snow and ice, but the evil corporation (there is always one) NEVEC has been pestering the indigenous and extremely large insects known as Akrid in order to harvest their thermal energy. The original Lost Planet centred on a somewhat ambiguous hero – Wayne, and while his dialogue and exploits weren’t always exciting or memorable, Wayne grounded the campaign with a semi-established narrative that gave you a sense of your purpose in the game. LP2 scrapped all known characters and replaced them with multiple factions for a scenario that takes place about 10 years after the first game’s conclusion. The expansion of the original’s thin competitive modes

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by Alexia Pestana

comes in the form of a single player campaign that is problematic to locate the first time around. The vast arrays of menus, sub-menus, and pages of stats that need to be navigated are almost enough to put one off. To top that off, playing on your own means you have to rely on up to three of the biggest morons found in a gaming cast. Your AI buddies will stand still as they absorb bullet after bullet. They will refuse to help you complete missionending objectives that are almost impossible to do by yourself. They stand and stare and your character gets killed time after time during the boss fights. It’s as if they have never seen a giant bug! Co-operative gaming should be a choice, not a necessity. It’s not all bad though; when the boss battles against larger Akrids kick in, it’s hard not to be impressed. Gigantic, multi-screen filling beasts from a wildly wonderful imagination are the order of the day. There is a satisfying need to devise strategies, whether it’s tackling

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accidents and really badly explained objectives. Instead of encouraging the player to act as a team, it makes one angry every time someone else screws up. Missions go on for far too long, fighting the tougher bosses quickly becomes tiring, and the increasing cheap deaths mean that your best chance of getting satisfaction out of the later levels is to buy a keyboard that looks fun to smash. Whether you’re battling for kills or capturing Akrid eggs or data posts, the option of using Vital Suits and grappling hooks still gives the game a unique flair that doesn’t exist in other online shooters. New character customisation options and unlock-able abilities offer fresh and stylish ways to enter the battlefield, though you’ll have to play through the campaign stages to earn credits for many bonuses. Lost Planet 2 has most of the pieces needed for the making of a great game – it just doesn’t put them all together correctly. g

AT A GLANCE: There is no such thing as a single player campaign. The player will need to rely on unreliable AI. Developer: CAPCOM Publisher: CAPCOM Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

the beast’s organs from the inside or eventually working out how to arm and fire a massive rail gun to combat the equally massive earthworm hurtling towards you. The best part of Lost Planet 2 has got to be the Vital Suits. They remain one of the more interesting elements in the series. As with the rest of the game, the Vital Suits are much more fun this time around when you are playing multiplayer. Many of them allow a player to grab onto a handle and cling onto the suit as its stomps around on the map. The luxury model is wearable armour that carries three gamers, allowing one to control the suit and fire auxiliary weapons while two other players control larger shoulder-mounted weapons. In the human multiplayer mode, Lost Planet 2 becomes closer to the game it was meant to be, and yet still can’t resist shooting itself in the foot. For example, there is a limit to how many times the player can die and respawn, which means a lot of replaying thanks to both

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

69 69


Cooking Mama World - Babysitting Mama

Not the Mama! Babysitting... a game? Seriously?

C

ooking Mama has been keeping me busy and the more I play, the more children appear. My first question is where is Cooking Dada, or just Dada? Like they say “any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a Daddy”. I might have this all wrong, as it is a babysitting game and maybe they are not Cooking Mama’s children. The doll that comes with the game is important but it seems a little unnecessary. There were thoughts that the control would go up the bum of the baby and have the nunchuk stick out like a tail. As a Nintendo fan I am very glad that this was not done because I can only image the YouTube videos that would come from that. The baby is designed with a strap and slot at the back of its neck. Open the strap to insert the Wii remote into the slot. There is also an opening to display the speaker and the home button, which becomes very important. Push the home button before you put the controller into the baby, especially when reading the instruction as you do it because each click of a button will move the instructions

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by Brian Murdoch along. Use the home button to pause at any moment, too. This just leaves the nunchuk to navigate the menus in the game. The game follows the style of Cooking Mama, which has its very good points and one sad one that I was looking forward to. A set of mini games has the player helping Mama to look after multiple babies, one at a time though. As the stages progress the skill required from the player is increased. Rocking and patting the baby are just the small subsets of the skills required; soon it evolves into baby races, baby talk identification and other music or rhythm games. There is a limit to the number of games that can use the motion of the control in the baby so there are a good bundle of games that use the nunchuk to feed, rattle and even swat flies to take care of the baby. There are no breast-feeding games or gender parts shown when changing the nappy; this is to avoid a high age restriction and odd questions that will be coming the way of the parents. The baby doll does seem washable but please do remember to take the Wii remote and nunchuk out first. The feature that I was hoping for was more than just mini

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of the single player games and taking turns with friends will quickly unlock them all. This, I feel, is set in more of a learning point of view than a restriction. The babies show a lot of emotion - the angry faces had me raising my eye-brows and wondering what I did wrong. Do adjust the speaker volume in the Wii Menu setting before you play as this is the only separate volume you can adjust. I did find at times that the music is louder than the instructions and not much instruction is given. No need to really worry about this, as after the first few games players will get the hang of how they are being instructed. There are also visual aids to help with this too, and while it might seem hard at first, there is not much reliance on reading so that even the young girls can play without constant help from their parents. The game will be very entertaining for the younger generation, and even has some space for parents to join in. g

AT A GLANCE: This is a great collection of mini games to play with the baby doll and does progress into looking after a child. Developer: TBA Publisher: 505 Games Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

games and using the game as a test for a couple looking to have a baby… having the baby cry and needy for the couple to look after it, but then I suppose they could just turn off the console when it got too much. [I know I would – ed] There are so many games and each baby brings different games to the challenge. Each baby works through a book of jobs and each page has around four or five tasks or mini games. After each page is completed they are opened up for practise. Mostly boys would see the competitive edge in things but little girls will be fine with just playing through the games and caring for the baby. There is a two player versus mode, which is competitive. The game does not expect another baby to be bought, it suggests that players just use another doll. As players look after their babies and do the tasks or play the games with their babies there are pictures that unlock in a “scrap-book” like fashion to remember the past activity with the baby. Most of the games require unlocking for all the modes but playing through a few

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

74 71


Eco-Match

Puzzle Consciousness A message in the tile matching…

by Walt Pretorius

P

72

AT A GLANCE: A fun puzzle game that, although derivative, has a few original ideas in store. Developer: Zemnott Publisher: THQPlay Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

A

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

uzzle games are a great way to spend some time with a generally casual gaming experience. In fact, the popularity of these games speaks volumes about their brilliance, which is cloaked in simplicity. The thing is, though, that the truly brilliant games are original ones. And they always have clones. Once in a while, though, those clones produce something that’s a little better than average, with fresh ideas applied to a tried and tested formula. Eco-Match is an example of one of those games. It takes principles that have been seen in other puzzle games (like Bejeweled) and runs with them, creating a puzzle game that is fun, and often a bit different. Four types of puzzles (all to do with tile matching) are available. Each puzzle requires the player to remove a certain number of a particular type of tile from the board – some even challenge the player with multiple tile targets, and special tiles that also need to be eliminated. Eco-Match goes further, in that it is a didactic game. In other words, it goes a long way toward teaching the player about its theme – the environment and environmental protection. It comes across as a little preachy at times, but with something this important as a subject matter, we can forgive it that little slip-up. If you enjoy casual games and are a fan of puzzles, this is a good option. g

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

70

gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011


Raving Rabbids Party Collection

Time for Raving! Party the Rabbid way!

mode as the games really do show their age. There are always the second and third Raving games to make up for it in ultimate multiplayer play. My group of friend and I have had around five days of fun with these games and tried them all at first but after that we settle that the best on was the second version, and the cell phone game was repeated a few hundred times. There are more games in the TV version and they can be used with the balance board but, with that absent at work, we found Rabbids 2 way funnier. The save game of the Party Collection is separate from the other titles and will not use or over write them… this has its pros and cons. This collection of games in not only cost effective but hilariously entertaining and will have player speaking a different language after playing it through a few times. BWAAH! g

AT A GLANCE: This collection of games in not only cost efficient but hilariously entertaining. Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

W

hat is better than a really good party game, playing with friends? Having three good party games on one disc at the same price as one party game. Raving Rabbids has a set of hilarious videos on YouTube and that is the main reason as to why we love them so much. Also, we don’t have to worry about cruelty to any animal because they are not any particular animal, and Rabbids hurt themselves and their own kind. The Raving Rabbids Party Collection is comprised of the first Rayman Raving Rabbids, Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 and Rayman Raving Rabbids TV. I think Ubisoft found that the Wii was the best platform for the Rabbids as, after the first one, they never even hinted at going back to the other consoles. If we have to go and add up all the mini-games in all three games we would come up with over 175 games. Rayman Raving Rabbids I find more fun in single player

by Brian Murdoch

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

72 73


Empires Of Steel

Forging Ahead Taking the world one turn at a time

by Charlie Fripp

T

74

AT A GLANCE: The game serves its purpose, but don’t expect too much. Developer: Atomicboy Software Publisher: Excalibut Publishing Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

urn-based games are something that you are either in to or not, and the group of people who actually like that type of play is, in reality, very small. That sometimes begs the question as to why developers make turn-based games. And in something like Empires of Steel, it just seems nonsensical. The game is essentially a turn-based war simulator, but what doesn’t make sense is that war in the real world isn’t turn-based. It also breaks up the action and troop movement, with units stopping in mid-order because of the time-limit in the turn. The goal of the game is simple: conquer the other nations as fast as possible in order to rule the world. But it doesn’t have to be done through combat; alliances can also be formed to beat other nations. In terms of graphics, the game presents itself as a bare-bones map and almost hand-drawn units. There is nothing in the visuals that make it stand out, and it’s actually boring, to a point. But all games have a redeeming factor, and in Empires Of Steel the mere fact that the game runs is already an achievement. In all seriousness, the menu layout could have been better but it serves its purpose. The game also has a built-in map and scenario creator, so players will be able to build their own maps if they aren’t happy with the ones provided. They can also share those maps with other players online, and also compete against them for domination. Players of turn-based games might enjoy the title, but don’t go expecting an enriching experience or based-on-true-events combat missions.g

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

54

gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011


North American Hunting Extravaganza

Hunter and Prey And really poor aim…

The animals where very polite as they circled the hunter, even after repeated shots fired at them. This helped because the aiming was not very accurate and choose when to work by itself. It would be easier and more effective to hit the animals with a rock than the combat bow. Moving the point of view was done by pointing to the side of the screen, this did not help as reloading was done by shaking the Wii remote like a shot gun… which moved the screen generally up (with or without the Wii Zapper stability). The game has a great concept but poor execution as the shooting and aim can get very frustrating. If this game is to be measured up against the other Wii games out there it does fall short. There are players that actually want to hunt prey and don’t mind the poor quality and will put up with bad graphics and occasional miss-calibration in the game. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s a hunting game, sure, but the rifle’s barrel seems to be bent. Developer: Arcade Moon Publisher: Zushi Games Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 20 • February 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

I

’m no hunter… I’ll catch the occasional hamster that escapes and I’ll take the spiders my wife wants out away, but hunting is not really for me. I can appreciate the sport for what it is, though. North American Hunting Extravaganza is going for that hunter feel from the comfort of your home, but is it on target? The main mode of the game is Hunting Season, in which the player must achieve each of an area’s four objectives. To unlock each successive area the previous area must be completed. The player can just jump into Quick Hunt and then all the areas and weapons are available, out of the box. This does seem to be the easy way out but, on the other hand, there are some games that need it. There is also an option in both modes to change the weather, only I don’t know if this affected the animal’s behaviour because they acted strange in all weather.

by Brian Murdoch

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

47 75


Flashtastic

Zombies! Way cooler than other dead stuff…

by James Francis

B

rains! Braaaains! Fun fact: the whole zombies loving brains thing only started in the movie Return Of The Living Dead, a spin-off sequel to Night Of The Living Dead (George Romero instead creating the more serious ‘Dead’ movies - Dawn, Day, Land, etc.). Vampires dying in sunlight is another creation of the

movies. But sharing that little factoid will just expose you as another of the zombie geeks - of which there are a lot. People just seem to get a kick out of the hordes of undead marauders out to consume the living. Online games are no different, bulging at the seams with rotten flesh and wild, blank thousand-yard stares. g

Plants vs. Zombies http://www.popcap.com/games/free/pvz It’s an outright classic and an obvious choice, but how can you have a list of zombie Flash games without the saga of one gardener’s war against keeping the living dead off his lawn? A tower defence game, plonking down rows of different plants is your last line(s) of defence and a horribly addictive game to play. The best versions of the game are on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad, but you can have a wee gander at it with the Flash version. Just a warning: you will end up buying this game.

All We Need Is Brain http://www.notdoppler.com/allweneedisbrain.php What better way to lure a zombie than with a nice, fresh brain? You’ll have an ample supply of those in this puzzle game, where the aim is to direct the undead towards their, er, deaths. Once a zombie gets a sniff of some brains, it will leave its grave and crawl towards the delicacy. The objective is to end up luring the zombie off the edge of a cliff, under the crushing power of a boulder, in front of a firing squad wall, etc. You get the picture: use the brains to lure the zombie to its demise. Sounds simple enough, right?

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gamecca regular • issue 20 • February 2011


The Outbreak http://www.survivetheoutbreak.com/ Ever played those Choose Your Own Adventure books (or Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf or one of dozens such treasures)? Wow, you just gave away your age... Called Gamebooks, these have slowly found their way online in all guises. The Outbreak is one of the more spectacular versions, using full motion video to pretty decent effect. It starts with a group of survivors rushing into a house. An argument starts about the fate of a wounded man is he infected and should he be killed? Soon you have to decide, which leads to a new video clip and another decision at the end. It needs a nice Internet connection, but you have to give The Outbreak a try.

Infectinator! World Domination http://www.bubblebox.com/play/action/1675.htm Drop a bomb and see how many zombies you can make. Hopefully, if your unsolicited biological attack hits enough hapless victims, they will overwhelm the local population before dying out or getting killed. Then it is onto the next spot to infect people and ruin everyone’s day. Infectinator has built a big following online, but it’s the World Domination release that got everyone talking (or rather, infecting). The system is as simple as clicking your mouse once, but luck and timing make all the difference between a utopia and an undead-filled hellhole.

Zombies Took My Daughter http://www.kongregate.com/games/nerdook/zombiestook-my-daughter Imagine the movie ‘Taken’, but without kidnappings, human slavery sales and Liam Neeson bashing someone’s head in a car door. With your daughter stuck in a quarantined city, you take to the streets, exploring apartments and shops until you find her. Along the way you find weapons, other survivors and clues on the whereabouts of your daughter’s location. With a clock ticking against you, will you find her in time? Maybe, maybe not, but you’ll have fun either way. Mashing up a side-scroll platformer with a larger sandbox world works well for this action game and it is a lot of fun replaying.

gamecca regular • issue 20 • February 2011

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Get Your Funny’s Worth Stateside

by Corey Schon

M

y friends at the mag tell me you’ve all enjoyed the benefits of real, live, local Xbox Live service for a couple months now. That’s great! By now you’ve probably had the opportunity to play several games on Live with rock-solid connections to other local gamers. You’ve appreciated the plethora of arcade games, video content, and other great features that make Live so richly worth its newly-increased asking point… Sorry, I can’t go on lying to you in good faith. I’m told your Live operation is little more than a splinter cell; pitifully under-loved and only marginally worth subscribing to. But here’s some things you might not have considered, outside of the realm of the actual Xbox Live services, that might make you reconsider a genuine SA Xbox Live account: Most other cultures don’t have the foggiest idea what South African culture may be like. Saying you’re from South Africa is a free pass to deflect almost any criticisms against you! Not following me? I’ll gladly explain. Claim that any and all offensive terms hurled at you don’t mean the same thing where you’re from. Example – “fag” is actually an acronym meaning “Fun, Awesome Guy.” It’s easy, and even most Americans aren’t blatant enough to call out a culture they know absolutely nothing about! As a corollary, feel free to make as many offensive terms as you like for use against adolescent foreigners. For bonus points, create an entry for the term(s) on urbandictionary.com (the mecca for any and all slang terminology) and

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get your friends to vote on the term, thereby cementing its legitimacy. If you’re bilingual (or more!), consider telling them the Afrikaans you’re speaking is a curse that makes their teacher give them five times as much homework, and makes their mom catch them exposing themselves on Uno (this seems like a good time to mention that all new Xbox Live Code Enforcement team members were, for the longest time, forced to play Uno and watch for this kind of behavior. It apparently happened a lot.) …Of course technically you don’t have to actually have South African Live services for any of these

suggestions. But it’s much more authentic if you do. Right? Guys? (The author would like to state that all of the preceding was intended strictly as satire. The author will not be held accountable for any action or complaints filed against your Xbox Live account for carrying out the aforementioned pranks. In all sincerity, he hopes that your Live services continue to improve to the point that a local subscription is the clear choice for your online gaming needs. He also apologizes profusely for the terrible title pun. He’s willing to be held accountable for that.) g

gamecca column • issue 20 • February 2011


Essential Classics

I

t was with much excitement that we heard that Duke Nukem Forever will actually be released. Like, this year. Seriously. See, the Duke Nukem Forever saga has been a tragic comedy of error from the word go. Without going into too much detail, the developers kept jumping ship to newer , better engines, delaying the game and, finally, going bust. But the franchise was picked up by the incomparable Gearbox studios (the guys behind Borderlands) and there are now release teaser videos, shelf dates and all kinds of stuff out there that would indicate that the Duke is ready to do his thing once again. Naturally, nostalgia creeps in at this point, particularly

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when you’re a long in the tooth gamer like me. See, the reason why older gamers are so excited about the launch of Duke Nukem Forever is that many of them fondly remember playing Duke Nukem 3D. You can just picture them sitting around the old-age home, leaning up against their pulpit walkers and fiddling with their dentures while they talk about it. OK, it’s not that extreme, but it has been fifteen years since we first installed the game and started playing it. Duke did a lot of things differently, including employing a mouse-and-keyboard setup… one member of our regular LAN group figured that out before the rest of us, and we were owned big time for a while. gamecca regular • issue 20 • February 2011


Duke Nukem 3D

“...and I’m all outta gum!” by Walt Pretorius

Duke Nukem 3D was also a controversial title, with Media Watch stating that “Duke Nukem 3D moves the ‘shooter’ through pornography stores, where Duke can use XXX sex posters for target practice. Duke throws cash at a prostituted woman telling her to ‘Shake it, Baby’ his gun ever ready. In the game bonus points are awarded for the murder of these mostly prostituted and partially nude women. Duke blows up stained glass windows in an empty church or goes to strip clubs where Japanese women lower their kimonos exposing their breasts. Duke is encouraged to kill defenseless, often bound women.” Anyone who played the game knows that the statement is pretty much a load of donkey’s cobblers… Duke gamecca regular • issue 20 • February 2011

rescued woman, after all. But it was also the time that the whole “violence in video game” hysteria was kicking into a higher gear, so this kind of uninformed commentary was commonplace. That said, Duke Nukem 3D was an irreverent game, dressing pig-like aliens in police uniforms, touring strip clubs and being generally on the wrong side of good taste. It was glorious. And the new game looks to be following in its macho boot-prints. The trailers look great, the gameplay looks action packed and addictive, and the whole thing looks like it will be more of the same, tongue-in-cheek, slightly rude, very brutal fun. Just remember where it came from. g

81


MSI R6970 2PM2D2GD5 Graphics Card

Big Boy

With multiple display support, too… by Walt Pretorius

Y

ou don’t often see PC component manufacturers talk about the lifetime of their life-pan of their parts. At least, not regularly upgraded parts, anyway. Keyboards and monitors will have their life-spans explained, but graphics cards? Not so much. Yet this is one of the selling points on the MSI R6970 2PM2D2GD5. This card, with the hefty name and all, boasts a lifespan of 12 years in a gaming rig, and up to forty years in a machine used for work or other applications. Actually, that’s the claim for the Solid Capacitors that the card makes use of. These aluminium core components take the strain very well, delivering higher efficiency at a lower temperature. And they don’t explode. This is also stated on the box. It might seem a little funny at first, but if you have ever had a capacitor pop on your graphics card, you will know that such an occurrence isn’t much of a laughing matter. The card boasts the Radeon 6970 chipset, which is a powerful processor for getting the graphics job done. This is supported by 2GB of GDDR5 RAM, which is rather generous.

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The R6970 offers many features, including one that most AMD based graphics cards are pushing these days – multiple displays. Using AMD Eyefinity technology, seamless display arrays of up to four monitors can be used. To facilitate this, the card has two DVI outputs, an HDMI output and two Mini DisplayPorts. Just a little about Eyefinity – this allows for multiple, seamless displays that run simultaneously. In other words, it doesn’t just mean a bigger desktop area to work in (which, in itself, is a joy.) Rather, this display performance will operate over multiple monitors, even in things like games. Normally, the game would display on only one monitor in a multiple monitor set up, but this is not the case with Eyefinity. As the bevels at the sides of monitors get smaller, this becomes a more and more viable idea. Anyway, back to the card. Its optimal performance is supported by MSI’s Afterburner software, which allows the user absolute control over the card’s function. The user can customise profiles for 2D and 3D performance, helping keep power consumption and temperatures at necessary levels. Additionally, the on board fan is

g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1


regulated by advanced speed controls, to allow for the best possible operating conditions. In addition to the MSI software, the card is also shipped with numerous AMD utilities and programs. It also, naturally, supports the Crossfire multiple GPU system. The performance of this card is great across all kinds of applications. From watching Blu-ray and HD video through to playing the most graphically demanding video games, the card performs exceptionally well. It is good to keep in mind that the face of the graphics card market has changed. The argument between Nvidia and Radeon fans seems to be moot these days, although marketers will tell you otherwise. But it comes down to the whole package now, not the manufacturer or the specific chipset anymore. And, as a package, the MSI R6970 is a great bet. It delivers top performance in terms of hardware, and comes with an excellent bundle of utilities and other hardware, all designed to allow the user to get the best out of the card. And, as an added bonus, Eyefinity is a very cool tech. If you’re looking for top end AMD performance, this one is a great option.g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: A powerful graphics card, with excellent performance and a host of useful utilities.

Score

96

Manufacturer: MSI Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R4299 Tech Specs: • Radeon 6970 chipset • 2GB GDDR5 RAM • Solid CAP • 2 DVI ports • 2 Mini DisplayPorts • HDMI port

Pros: • Eyefinity • Powerful • Nice utilities Cons: • Not cheap • Bulky

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Toshiba Qosmio X500 Notebook

The Player

Big specs in a little (sort of) package by Walt Pretorius

T

he trend towards building powerful gaming machines into notebook shells is still going strong. As a matter of fact, it’s likely to get stronger before it dies down… if it even does die down. And there’s nothing wrong with having a powerful notebook – machines capable of running modern games will likely run almost any other program you throw at them. It’s just the way of the computing world at the moment. One thing that does suffer a little is the portability of the device. Sure, you can still carry these notebooks around, but they are really big in general. Take the Toshiba Qosmio X500 as an example. It’s a massive machine, bulky and heavy. That, though (along with the price, which is also pretty bulky and heavy) is more or less the only criticism we can level at this Toshiba powerhouse. The Qosmio X500 looks the part, with a faux carbon fibre finish complemented by deep red trim. Once you have opened the notebook, it’s all shiny black surfaces and red metallic trim. This is topped off by a beautifully clear 18.4 inch display.

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Another plus is that a full keyboard, complete with num-pad, fits beautifully onto the lower deck of the notebook. Just below that is a beautifully sensitive touch pad controller, supported by 2 generous buttons flanking a finger print reader. The on-board control set-up is beautifully laid out, stylish and sensible. And, as an added bonus, a touch-sensitive multimedia control panel takes care of multimedia needs, including volume and muting. And, on top of it all, the touch pad can be deactivated by a discreet button at the base of the keyboard. Speaking of volume, the X500 delivers sound by way of a pair of crystal clear, high quality Harman Kardon speakers, mounted right at the far end of the lower deck (and rimmed with, you guessed it, metallic deep red trim. Under the hood, the X500 packs an Intel Core i7 that runs at 1.6 (or 2.8 Turbo ) GHz. Backed by a standard 6GB of RAM out of the box (upgradable to 8GB) that’s a lot of punch in what is still a relatively small package. Graphic performance is taken care of by an Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M, employing CUDA technology and g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1


1GB of VRAM (which can be varied using TurboCache technology, based on your OS.) Storage comes in the form of 1TB of disk space, thanks to two 500GB hard drives. A DVD drive takes care of the optical side of things. As far as ports go, the X500 only offers three USB ports, which is not a lot. Additionally, a card reader can interface with numerous card types (including SD). HDMI and eSATA ports are also included, as well as a VGA port and LAN port (although the system’s built in WiFi and Bluetooth can sort out networking and other connections.) As a package, the Qosmio X500 is a great gaming notebook. It packs quite a punch and performs well. It won’t out-do a big desk-top, sure, but for a laptop to play games on, it performs really, really well. The big prohibition in this one is the price. At almost R22000, it is expensive. Then again, if you’re after a device of this nature, it is comparable to other gaming notebooks. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: It’s big and it’s heavy, but portable PC gaming is perfectly viable with the X500.

Score

90

Manufacturer: Toshiba Distributor: Toshiba Online: www.toshiba.com RRP: R21999 Tech Specs: • Intel Core i7 • 6GB RAM • 1 GB VRAM • 1TB HDD • 18.4” screen • Harman Kardon speakers

Pros: • Powerful • Stylish • Well designed Cons: • Big • Heavy • Expensive

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Apacer Mega Steno AM401 USB 2.0 Card Reader

No Clutter Small, but effective

by Alex Scanlon

C

ard readers are handy things, for a great variety of reasons. Whether to back up data off of cards used by consoles or handheld devices, or photographs from a camera, and so on, the card reader is becoming more of an essential item than a luxury. Apacer’s Mega Steno AM401 USB 2.0 Card Reader has a lot going for it. It’s a little larger than the average USB stick, but it manages to provide support for SD, SDHC, miniSD, miniSDHC, MMC and MMC plus cards. With applicable adapters, RS-MMC, MMCmoblie and MMCmicro cards can also be used. In addition, it offers support for the full range of Memory Stick and Memory Stick Duo cards, as well as M2 cards. That’s a pretty versatile card reader, crammed into a ‘no mess, no fuss’ package. The reader interfaces directly with a USB port, so there is no extra wire clutter created when using it. On the downside, you will want to be careful when inserting or removing cards from some of the slots; they are a little tight. But, with use and time that should be sorted out. And you generally want to be careful anyway…

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As a card reader, the AM401 is a very handy and practical device, and is extremely reliable too. g

AT A GLANCE: With wide card support and a very handy size, this is a great card reader.

Score

78

Manufacturer: Apacer Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R110 Tech Specs: • USB 2.0 • SD card support • MMC card support • Memory Stick support • M2 support

Pros: • Small • Wide support • No wires Cons: • Slots a bit tight

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www.gladget.co.za

Get a new perspective on technology. 1337 Media, the publishers of Gamecca Magazine, are proud to announce the launch of a new publication, Gladget Magazine, scheduled to arrive on the 15th October 2010.

With Gladget Magazine’s guarantee that all reviews are generated locally from hands-on experience, readers will be able to rest assured, knowing that all hardware & software reviews showcase products that are available in SA.

ISSUE FOUR AVAILABLE NOW! ISSUE FIVE AVAILABLE 15.02.2011

www.gladget.co.za Gladget, Simply Technology.

Published by

Copyright Š 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2010

Fun to read and invaluable in keeping up with technology & trends, Gladget Magazine will be focused on gadgets, tech-toys & hardware, offering readers access, through free subscription, to reviews, features & tons of interesting information every month.

Gladget Magazine will be published at www.gladget.co.za every month, fourteen days after its sister magazine Gamecca, which is available on the1st working day of each month at www.gamecca.co.za.


Orb PS3 Roundup

PS3 Bling

Cool toys to enhance your gaming by Walt Pretorius

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hird party peripherals and enhancements are very popular – not every console maker gets everything right, after all, and generally good pricing on these items make them a great bet. Many of them, though, are poor quality or gimmicky. And once a user has fallen victim to that kind of thing, they’re probably going to be put off for life. Orb, for the most part, do not fall into that category. Orb produce third party products that are top quality, useful and, above all, very well priced. Let’s take a look at what Orb can do to enhance your PlayStation 3 experience. Purchasing three ORB products will change the way you play, without a doubt. The first product is Orb’s Analog Thumb Grips pack. Each pack contains two pairs of rubber thumb grips that fit easily over the PS3 controller’s analogue sticks. One pair features an indented surface with four dots (one at each side, one on the bottom and one on the top) to help the player find the direction they want to push the sticks

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in more easily. This makes the sticks feels a little more like those used on the Xbox 360 controller. The other pair of grips are convex, with circular patterns of raised dots on the surface. While feeling more like the normal PS3 analogue stick surfaces, these allow for better grip when playing. Both sets of grips are durable, non-slip rubber, and are really a joy to use. The likelihood, though, is that you will only use one of these pairs of grips. That said, the price isn’t going to stop you from buying the set anyway. And, if you have two controllers, the secondary unit can be used with the grips that you don’t prefer… both options still make using the analogue sticks much more comfortable and accurate. The next purchase is the PS3 Dual Charging Dock. This device allows two controllers to be charged simultaneously, and is powered by a single USB port. This frees up one port on the PS3, and, as an added bonus, keeps things really neat. In addition, two LEDs built into the unit indicate the g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1


charge status of the controllers, which is pretty handy overall. On the downside, you cannot use the controllers while they are docked – if you want to charge up while you are playing, you will still need to plug a cable directly into the controller. And that, partly, is where the third set of goodies comes in. This is the largest purchase of the three, and comes in the form of the Orb PS3 Gamers Accessory Pack. This pack contains four items: a 2 meter HDMI cable, a 3 meter charging cable, a Bluetooth headset and a set of controller triggers. The real gem of this set are the triggers. These fit onto the L2 and R2 shoulder buttons of the controller, enhancing their shape and making them easier to use. Instead of the standard convex shape of the shoulder buttons, these clip-on triggers make them concave – which makes for more comfortable gaming all round. Orb’s products really are fantastic. They offer good value for money and make very smart, practical additions to your gaming kit. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: Orb’s peripherals are a great way to enhance your gaming at a low cost.

Score

80

Manufacturer: Orb Distributor: Sensation Lab Online: TBC RRP: Various Tech Specs: • 3m charging cable • 2m HDMI cable • Charging dock • Bluetooth headset

Pros: • Good quality • Excellent price • Useful Cons: • Separate purchases required

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MSI Wind Top AE2420 3D All-In-One PC

Everything-In-One All you need in one box…

by Walt Pretorius

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e recently had our first look at one of MSI’s range of Wind Top All-In-One computers. The idea struck as us a good one, but the model we saw wouldn’t really qualify as a very powerful machine. Now, though, we’re looking at that PC’s big brother, and the two units are like chalk and cheese. The Wind Top AE2420 3D is the kind of compact PC that one would really like to have on top of one’s desk. Out of the box, it runs an Intel Core i5 650 3.2GHz processor, with a 1TB hard drive and 4GB of RAM. Graphics are handled by an ATI 5730 chip with 1GB of RAM. That’s pretty impressive for a store bought package. It can handle most games passably (although you may want to tweak some of your graphics down on a few of them) and visuals are delivered by a crisp, clear 24 inch monitor. The monitor runs a full 1920 x 1080 resolution, making it HD by definition. On top of it all, the AE2420 has an integrated 3D system, and comes complete with a set of 3D glasses

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(as well as a wireless mouse and keyboard, and remote control) in the box. With all its features, the AE2420 comes across as a great media PC, and it is. An optional Blu-Ray optical drive accentuates that, and a TV input confirms it. While it is a great PC to work on – with touch screen functionality that can make tasks a bit easier – it is awesome as a PC to watch movies and DVDs, play games (at least ones that aren’t too demanding) and listen to music on. Actually, the sound delivery is the most disappointing aspect of the AE2420. Its sound delivery is not very loud, although it is crisp and clear. However, using the unit with headphones is perfect. Although everything is integrated into one case, and the touch screen (with an on-screen keyboard and a stylus pen in the box) means that it can also save space with not requiring the keyboard and mouse for operation, the size of the screen makes it a rather chunky piece of equipment, at least width-wise. It is stylishly designed, g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1


though, and will complement any room. In an environment where saving space is important, it becomes a fantastic multi-function PC and entertainment centre. The PC side of things is further supported by a card reader (which handles SD, MMC and MS cards), six USB ports (although you’ll lose one to the receiver for the mouse and keyboard, if you choose to use them), and HDMI, SPDIF, eSATA, LAN and RGB ports. The unique approach taken by the Wind Top series is amplified by this unit. It offers excellent performance, trumping many notebooks in power, if not portability. The integrated 3D is also a great option, if 3D is your thing. The glasses are, admittedly, a little less comfortable than we would have liked, and are rather large and extremely nerdy looking, but they do the job they were designed for admirably. It’s not the cheapest of the Wind Tops, and with good reason. If you are looking for an excellent out-the-box option, you need look no further than this versatile and surprisingly powerful PC. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: A surprisingly powerful PC solution that gives you everything you need in one box.

Score

98

Manufacturer: MSI Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: R18399 Tech Specs: • Core i5 650 CPU • 2GB RAM • 1 TB HDD • 1 GB VRAM • 24” screen • Integrated 3D

Pros: • Powerful • Versatile • Space saving Cons: • Sound • 3D Glasses

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Thrustmaster Toy Story 3 Nintendo Range

To Infinity… Get the kids all a-Buzz…

by Brian Murdoch

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ith the release of Toy Story 3 on DVD and Blu-ray, the inevitable merchandise has hit the market. The Nintendo consoles are aimed at everyone in the gaming scene and who likes to play games more than kids, so many new accessories are covered in Toy Story branding and sold. We here at Gladget received some of them and found that, while some are just the standard accessories branded for the kids to beg their parents to buy, others actually have incredible value. There is a Buzz Lightyear branded stylus for the DS that, besides the soft tip to protect your screen, has some other features. There is a light projector at the back on a pivoting head and it projects an image of a flying Buzz on the surface it’s pointed at. This, combine with its jet like shape, will have some kids pausing their games to give it a quick twirl in the sky, or the younger non-gamers steal it away to do that. The Buzz Lightyear space ship Wii remote charger and

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DS charger have their pros and cons. The Wii remote charger can only take one remote at a time but can be used while keeping the remote strap on. It is also interchangeable with other Thrustmaster charging kits. While the LED to indicate the charge status are nice on the Wii remote charger, the DS charger space ship disappointingly does not have one. The DS Lite sits snug in the ship and a hatch on the side is opened to plug in the charger but to see if it’s done charging it needs to be fully opened. Opening both is done in style which will have children continually opening and closing them; pull back the wings and the air lock style compartment release the contents. The DS carry case is not the most practical in the range and relied more on fan appeal. The watch-like strap that stores up to 4 DS games is fun to play pretend with and would also be convenient if it could somehow clip to the DS bag. Other than this the cool logos and branding will make any child happy enough to resurrect their DS if it’s g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1


become dusty. The true piece of absolute brilliance comes in the form of a Wii bag. Most Wii bags can fit the bare essentials; we are talking about one Wii remote and maybe a game if you squash the power supply in right. This bag has space for all the required pieces and more. To top it off inside the bag are compartments to place the pieces in so they don’t get in a mess and you don’t need to pull everything out to get to something at the bottom. Two Wii remotes, two nunchuks, Wii console, sensor bar, power supply and connection cable, with two games… all inside the bag. There are an extra two side pouches and a front zipper mini pouch to keep some spare batteries in. I take my Wii into the office almost every day and besides the Toy Story logo on the outside I am quite proud and happy with the bag. Although the products are all sold separately, getting this collection is a good idea for Wii or DS owners with kids to keep happy. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: Although branded merchandise, some of these goodies are excellent.

Score

79

Manufacturer: Thrustmaster Distributor: Sensation Lab Online: TBC RRP: Varies Tech Specs: • Wii remote charging dock • DS charging dock • Soft-tip stylus • DS carry case • Multi-pocket rucksack.

Pros: • Kids love ‘em • Some great ideas • Awesome rucksack Cons: • Some gimmicky items

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PS3 Navigation Controller

The Sidekick

An essential part of the Move controller system by Alex Scanlon

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he first peripheral (and possibly the most important one) for PlayStation’s Move system is the Navigation Controller. Like the Wii Remote’s Nunchuck peripheral, this gadget allows for greater control over games that make use of the Move system. Unlike the Nunchuck, though, the Navigation Controller is wireless, and requires recharging. The Navigation Controller is slightly shorter than the black part of the Move controller, and features an analogue stick, directional pad, two top mounted triggers and an X and O button. It frees up some of the responsibility from the Move controller (the X and O buttons specifically) and is meant for games in which the player needs to move their character around, as well as make motions with the Move controller. Like the original controller the Nav controller is solidly built and comfortable to use. Folks with smaller hands may have to hold the controller slightly higher up to comfortably reach the analogue stick, which is right at the top of the controller’s ‘front’. This will make using the D-Pad a little uncomfortable. The positioning on the other buttons is fine but, once again, small hands may have a little difficulty.

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This is a good addition to the Move system – actually, it’s pretty much a necessity. g

AT A GLANCE: This is a must for those who like using the PlayStation Move control system.

Score

80

Manufacturer: Sony Distributor: Ster Kinekor Online: www.playstation.com RRP: R349 Tech Specs: • Analogue stick • D-Pad • 2 ‘face’ buttons • 2 triggers • Rechargeable • Cordless

Pros: • Greater control • Long battery life Cons: • Tough for small hands

g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1


logolink Essential surfing made easy

become a fan!


Orb Multiformat HDMI cable

Picture this! Seeing the difference in cabling

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ust like many components of modern-day media centres and game consoles, the HDMI (HighDefinition Media Interface) cable is something the most of the users take for granted. We might look at the cable as only a by-product or another expense when it comes to setting up a number of compatible home theatre products, but few actually realise how important a good HDMI cable can be, and what difference it brings to the visual quality. HDMI cables are used to transmit uncompressed digital data (audio and visual), and is a great alternative to normal cabling like a coaxial cable, composite video, S-Video, SCART, component video, D-Terminal, or VGA. While the HDMI cable supports and carries a wide variety of data, the most important part is that it will make a huge difference in HD televisions and surround sound. While testing out Orb’s mammoth 2-meter long cable, the difference in screen quality was immediately visible when the cable was connected to a Sony Playstation 3 and a HD television. While the supplied PS3 cables did the job sufficiently, the HDMI cable just gave it that bit extra, providing the crispness and excellent sound quality that one craves when watching Blu-ray films.

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by Charlie Fripp

The cable itself has anti-corrosive gold plated connectors, and while being 2-meters long, the entire length of the cable is braided in strong mesh. g

AT A GLANCE: Since 2-meters is more than enough, the HDMI cable will definitely reach all your components.

Score

80

Manufacturer: Orb Distributor: Sensation Lab Online: TBC RRP: R159 Tech Specs: • Anti-corrosive gold plated connectors • 2-meters in length • True HD signal transmission • Braided cable

Pros: • 2-meters in length • Anti-corrosive gold plated connectors Cons: • 2-meters is long • Cable not very flexible

g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 0 • Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 1


Online Delivery In the Lair

by thebanman

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ith high-speed broadband a house hold term these days, a new age of video game delivery is upon us… the age of on-demand video game purchases, managed by a delivery platform. I have put together a look at a few of these platforms this month. Some of them you might have heard of. Some you might just hate. But these platforms have made serious in-roads into the industry and have become a key delivery mechanism for the larger developers and distributors. WWW.GOG.COM – Good Old Games: This platform is one of the new kids on the block. They have seen a small niche in the market and have totally capitalised on it. Good old Games have a catalogue of older titles that is set to satisfy any nostalgic video gamer. Was there a game that you loved playing when you were younger? Then good old games will stock it. All of the titles are priced at $9.99 and below and are packaged to run straight out of the installer, preconfigured with all the settings the specific emulator requires. No fiddling with sound card settings and so on. Just click and play. Nostalgia satisfied. It really is worth a look around. http://store.steampowered. com/ - Steam: This is very possibly the most popular video game delivery platform out there. Created alongside the developers Valve, Steam has grown to an unfathomable level of popularity. Many of the industry’s

top developers have now signed a distribution contract with Value for access the Steam user base. PS3 will soon also see Steam access from the menu system and well as access to titles and cross platform play that we are looking forward to seeing in the highly anticipated Portal 2. Steam is my personal favourite. I have over 80 titles in my Steam account and am constantly viewing and reviewing the specials every week. Currently Dead Space 2 is everywhere, which is not a bad thing, as Dead Space 2 is an amazing title. Steam also manages all my patches and will notify me, or automatically patch my games, as I have set it up to do that. No getting to a LAN and finding out that I’m three patches behind and unable to play. On Steam you are also able to join in to a wide community of gamers and link and add friends. This allows you to see what your friends are playing and to see what titles you might be interested in, should you

feel in the mood for spending a little cash online. http://www.impulsedriven. com/ - Impulse: Impulse operates very much like Steam and offers a similar service. My connection with Impulse and its service came about when I got DemiGod. The nice thing about Impulse is that is displays the prices of the games in South African Rands. DemiGod never really took off but we tried hard to get a loyal following. Impulse and I parted ways, but only due to the fact that all my titles are in Steam. If anything, that is the only downside to choosing a particular platform. http://www.onlive.com/ OnLive This is a little teaser that I thought I would throw in at the end. It is a device/ service that will allow players to play all the latest video games streamed over the internet via your broadband internet connection. OnLive is set to be a ground breaking advance in Cloud Gaming. I’m not too hopeful for the success of these kinds of services. Let’s just hope the shareholders have done their homework. This has just been a snap-shot of a selection of the services out there on the internet that will allow you to legally purchase and own your favourite video games. With ADSL rates and broadband prices coming within reach of the general public, one of these services might become a welcomed choice of yours. Till next month, safe gaming! g

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


Dead Space? From Space

by Columnist A

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hat’s the deal with Xbox Live for South Africa? I waited and waited. When it finally went online, I created an account and… nothing. The marketplace has empty shelves and the player community, if my experiences with MatchMaking are anything to go by, is a ghost town. From my limited understanding of how the system works, it’s meant to pair you up with players from your region. So unless I’m the only person with a local account – which I doubt, by the way – things are seriously wrong. I logged into the most-played game on Xbox Live the other night: Call of

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Duty – Black Ops. I paired up with a friend who also had a local account. We sat there in the lobby, waiting for a game, for almost 5 minutes. Then it dumped us into an in-progress game with a bunch of British gamers. One of them was host and us two locals were in lag city. Shots didn’t register and all the usual lag-related things had to be dealt with. I know about Internet connections and networking. I know about GeoIP and regioning technologies. It’s easy enough for Microsoft’s Live servers to pop all the South African players in a common pool for MatchMaking – so why, with local accounts, are we still not being matched with locals?

Surely the deafening cry of all those who demanded a South African Xbox Live was coming from more than just one or two outspoken individuals? Where are the thousands who wanted to make use of the service? Are they all in private lobbies, playing their clan matches and enjoying a circlejerk? Or is the truth more sobering? Is the South African gaming community just that small, and there aren’t really that many people who have an Xbox and Internet access? The numbers don’t add up. And I’m getting lonely, waiting for more people to join my lobby. g

gamecca column • issue 20 • February 2011

Gamecca Magazine February 2011  

Gamecca Magazine February 2011 (Volume , Issue 20)

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