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Return to Rapture

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e gam s! w e i v e r

Aliens VS Predator Dante’s Inferno Bioshock 2 Heavy Rain MAG and more...

Heavy Rain’s vision

Into Damnation Dante’s Inferno reviewed

Hunter Hunted Aliens VS Predator returns...


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i s s u e 9 / vo l u m e 1 - M a rc h 2 0 1 0

Return to Rapture

Explore Bioshock 2

A New Approach

nally he re!

e gamws! revie

Aliens VS Predator Dante’s Inferno Bioshock 2 Heavy Rain MAG and more...

52 PS Zealot CES stuff 54 Xbox Beat Some Xbox trivia 56 House of Mario Legitimate injuries, or idiotic users? 58 Reviews Fifteen top-notch games

Heavy Rain’s vision

92 Beginners Guide to Good Gaming More useful info for new gamers

Into Damnation Dante’s Inferno reviewed

Hunted Hunter VS Predator returns... AliensVS Aliens THIS MONTH’S COVER Aliens VS Predator returns for our gaming pleasure. See the review on page 60

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96 Hardware Sights, sounds, and awesome portable power! 100 The Lair Get your HoN PHD 102 From Space Are you a ROMulan? 59 Competitions: Assassin’s Creed 2 (PC) gamecca contents • issue 9 • March 2010


Previews Reviews

20 22 24 25 26 28 29 30 32 33 34 36 37 38 40 41 42 44 45 46

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom GTI Club: Supermini Festa! Warriors: Legends of Troy Dementium 2 Dead to Rights: Retribution Nier FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa Skate 3 Mafia II Sam & Max: Season 2 Iron Man 2 UFC: Undisputed 2010 The Swarm Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Infinite Space Combat of Giants: Mutant Insects Calling Clash of the Titans Racket Sports Party

60 64 68 72 76 78 80 82 84 86 87 88 89 90 91

Aliens VS Predator Bioshock 2 Dante’s Inferno Heavy Rain Phantasy Star 0 Star Trek Online MAG Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll Bleach: The 3rd Phantom The Sims 3: High-End Loft Stuff Anno 1404: Venice Far Cry 2 (Budget) EndWar (Budget) World in Conflict: Complete Edition (Budget) HAWX (Budget)

gamecca contents • issue 9 • March 2010

GAMECCA Volume1Issue 9 March 2010 Editor: Walt Pretorius Writers: Walt Pretorius Matthew Vice Jimmy Glue Brian Murdoch Bryan Banfield Dion Scotten Suvesh Arumugam Columnist A Photography: Walt Pretorius Marketing & Creative: Katia Taliadoros Letters: letters@gamecca.co.za Competition entries: competitions@gamecca.co.za Newsletter subscriptions: www.gamecca.co.za GAMECCA is published by 1337 Media CC GAMECCA is powered by ISSUU

Copyright © 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2010

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From the Editor

Testing, Testing... by Walt Pretorius

S

ometimes it’s easy to forget that Gamecca is still a very young magazine. At other times, it’s surprising to see how far we have come already. This ninth issue marks the end of the third quarter of our first year. In just three issues time, Gamecca Magazine will be a year old, and moving on to ‘volume 2’. A very good friend and colleague of mine (who, through various circumstances, is living very far away at the moment) was chatting to me not too long ago, saying how

it takes time for a magazine to form an identity. His estimate was one to two years of publication. I can see, through the process of bringing out Gamecca every month, that he was right. Each month we sit, after the dust of the issue preparation has settled and we have caught up on some much needed sleep, and look at how we can improve the next issue. We ask ourselves the same questions time and again, including things like: How do we make the magazine look better? How do we improve the quality of the articles and information

it contains? How do we best deliver it to our growing reader base? The reason we keep asking the same questions is because this process is evolutionary in nature. A small change may reveal something else that we didn’t notice or think of before, and so (rather than trying to rush to a self-imposed finish line) we try to let the ‘natural’ growth of the magazine take its course. Why am I mentioning this? Well, this month you will see a few changes creeping into Gamecca again. Some are cosmetic (we tweaked a few layout ideas here and there) and others are more practical (some variation in the length of certain reviews and previews, for example.) Please bear with us. Our goal is to produce the best magazine possible, and we believe that every change we make is a definite improvement. This month, our four main reviews are Aliens VS Predator, Dante’s Inferno, Bioshock 2 and Heavy Rain. Also, we have reintroduced our hardware reviews, and are working hard to ensure that these become a permanent feature of Gamecca. So, on to the issue. We sincerely hope you enjoy it… if you do (or, for that matter, for any other reason) please drop us a mail at letters@ gamecca.co.za and let us know.. g

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Unstuck

Hellbound? by Jimmy Glue

A

re developers, or even distributors, doing enough to safeguard gamers against the nasties of potentially harmful games? I know this drum has been beaten to virtual death, but I have a bit of a different take on the whole excessive violence/disturbing images saga. I’m specifically referring to Dante’s Inferno, with its devilish undertones and romanticised visions of Hell. Now, before you start shouting “Oh hell no!” just hear me out. The game does feature a sticker on the front and back, warning parents and players that the game is restricted to players older than 18 years of age. But what it doesn’t mention is that the game could be potentially harmful to people who aren’t so sure about where life will take them. Granted, the visions and portrayal of Hell are rather bleak and I doubt anybody would want to go there, but you do get strange people in this wonderful world. I really think that the game should have come with a sleeve or something, simply stating that the game features vivid depictions of Hell, references to demonic creatures and very disturbing images. By the way, good luck in trying to convince me that the screams of the people in Limbo and the twisted unbaptized babies rock you to sleep at night. But before you try to ship me off to Australia (where they still don’t have an R18 rating), let me state that I completely enjoyed the game. The game had some of the best graphics I have ever seen, and the combat was easy enough, yet challenging in a good fight. I really did enjoy it, but when I showed it to a friend who specialises

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in psychology, he immediately thought about people who are at a cross-road in their life while playing the game. The title also explains, in a nonromanticised way, what a person has to do to end up in Limbo, Lust, Greed or Violence, or any of the Nine Circles Of Hell. There is no law that prohibits the sale of a game to someone who is emotionally unstable, and when they see a milieu in the game they like, they might do anything in the realworld in order to get to that location when they die. And that is when other people get hurt. No, and let me categorically state, I do not believe video games make people violent, but if that person is emotionally unstable to begin with, it might have dire consequences. I don’t know exactly how retailers will curb the sale of explicitly demonic and satanic images (let’s stop denying it, apart from being based on the ‘Divine Comedy’, it is rather evil in nature) but I know that I don’t want to be standing next to Johnny when he snaps at the counter of Checkers because they didn’t stock his brand of ciggies. Granted, Doom also featured some demonic creatures, but that was back in the day when studies about game playing weren’t exactly a science. Other games also bordered on the twisted side, like Heretic, Quake, Hexen and Devil Summoner, but that was when ratings for games never existed, or were hardly ever applied. A major sore point for us at Gamecca is that parents need to be educated on what their children play, and if anybody gives Dante’s Inferno to a child, they need to be locked up themselves. It’s a horrible game to

present to a child, as the mental and emotional consequences might be immeasurable. Instead of allowing Johnny to purchase the game, parents, and even friends, need to make sure that Johnny recovers from his existential crisis first, before allowing the heads of demons and lustful women to be reaped. We cannot stress this enough, and I will fight for it with every bit of my moral fibre, but if I see any parent who is about to purchase the game for their child, I will walk up to them and physically give them one upside the head. I guess what I’m trying to get at through all my ramblings and visions of Hell, is that these type of games should feature, either on the cover or in the game itself, a warning stating that it contains depictions and detailed visions of Hell and features Satanic references. (Come on, don’t tell me there aren’t parts in Dante’s where you didn’t think WFT?) It will be for the greater good of mankind, and you guys can think me later. g

gamecca column • issue 9 • March 2010


Geekology

It Lived Long and Prospered by Matthew Vice

J

ust recently, I received my review copy of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the PS2, something I’ve been eager to play since I heard about it and read about its fresh new retelling of the original game. So when I got home, I plugged in my PS2 – which hadn’t been used in a while – and pressed the eject button to take out whichever game I had left in there the last time I used it. Well, that was the plan, however it turns out that my eight year old PS2 didn’t want to give up its contents. Rygar, in this case, which is an understandable game to want to hang on to. My PS2 still worked fine, as long as I didn’t mind playing Rygar for the rest of my life – turns out the tray was buggered. I could have tried to fix it, I’ve opened the machine up for many reasons of the course of eight years, but in this case, I decided it might be time to get a new machine – which I did. Eagerly I plugged in my new slim, powered it up and slipped in the Silent Hill game, only to find that I didn’t have any space on any of my memory cards to hold the data. So I needed some new memory cards – meaning I now have eight and counting – and I don’t think that’s enough to hold the sum data

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of the games I have in my collection – never mind the rare ones I’m still trying to find. Still, round about this time, I realised just how successful the PS2 had been. It’s also possibly the longest-lived console of all time. It was released in 2000 and still has games being released for it now in 2010. OK, so most of the games being released for it now aren’t quite the high-quality titles of the machine’s prime – but there are still a few gems, like the aforementioned Silent Hill:

Shattered Memories. For the first half of the last decade, of the three competing home machines, the PS2, the Xbox and the Gamecube, the PS2 had the widest range of titles and the possibly the most respectable stable of developers. It also catered for gamers of all tastes, from casual and party-gamers right up to the hardest of the hardcore. Unfortunately the PS2’s online capabilities were never supported quite as well as they should have been – at least not for us in PAL regions. All things considered, the PS2 has proven itself to be quite a capable machine, so much so that it didn’t fade away when its younger brother, the PS3, came onto the scene, and it’s still a cheap option with a massive line-up of titles for anyone who’s only looking to get started with gaming now. Sony has promised the same support of at least ten years for the PS3, so it will be interesting to see if the PS3 can have the same staying power as its still-kicking older brother. g

gamecca column • issue 9 • March 2010


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5th MARCH 2010 | WWW.BATTLEFIELD.COM © 2010 EA Digital Illusions CE AB. Battlefield Bad Company, Frostbite and the DICE logo are trademarks of EA Digital Illusions CE AB. All Rights Reserved. EA and the EA logo are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. “PlayStation���, “2” and “À” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Making Mythology

The Aliens and Predator franchises are well established tales... by Walt Pretorius

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gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010


T

here are times when an idea just grows like wildfire. Take the idea of Aliens VS Predator, for example. In 1979, the original Alien movie was released – it’s quite certain that the creators of the film could never have imagined that the franchise would grow so significantly, even melding with the mythology created by 1986’s Predator to form the AVP idea. The Aliens and the Predator have captured the hearts and minds of millions of fans, resulting in rich mythologies surrounding the two species, ever growing and evolving as new movies, books and comics about them are released. Oh, and video games, of course. How could we forget the video games? Over the next few pages, we will take a look at some of the accepted mythology that’s available, as well as some of the entertainment properties that influenced this sci-fi-powerhouse of a franchise. g gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010

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The Aliens Also known as xenomorphs, these creatures have evolved with one goal only – the propagation of their species. They have no intelligent civilisation, appearing more like a hive than a society. These creatures are eusocial, with a fertile queen laying eggs to create new workers and warriors, much like ants or termites. Aliens have a complex lifecycle. From the eggs laid by the queen, a parasitic larval form (known as a facehugger) hatches. The facehugger implants an embryo in a host (often human) via the throat. Once gestated, the embryo bursts from the host’s chest as a juvenile alien. The juveniles mature quickly, becoming effective killers in a few hours. Basic physical attributes are borrowed from the host. Aliens are capable of bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion. They have large heads, which house an internal, telescoping mouth piece, protected by outer jaws. These jaws are used in conjunction with claws and a barbed tail as their primary weapons. The blood of the alien is comprised of molecular acid. Although not credited with high intelligence, aliens have been seen to learn by observation, and are capable of problem solving. This compliments their strength, armoured outer carapaces and ability to hide effectively (they also do not radiate heat, and are therefore invisible to heat sensitive imaging.) These effective, parasitic creatures are built to endure extreme conditions, and are capable warriors – even capable of besting a Predator in single combat.

The Predator The Predator is a humanoid alien species, distinguished from humans by their greater height, mandibled faces and long, hair-like appendages. They are resistant to damage and can recover from gunshot wounds and even high levels of radiation, which would be fatal to humans. They are much stronger than humans, too, capable of even shattering concrete with a single punch. Predators are hunters by tradition, and seek trophies throughout the galaxy. These trophies are the skulls of their victims. They are strong climbers and can traverse treetops and high buildings alike with ease. Although they can survive extremes of climate, it is believed that Predators prefer hot, humid conditions. Possessed of an advanced society and high technology, the Predators use various weapons and tools when hunting. From powerful energy weapons through to advanced camouflage technology, the Predators have many tricks in their hunting arsenal. They hunt for sport and honour, and a failed hunt will often result in ritual suicide. Predators have visited the Earth many times, and have made contact with early human civilizations such as the Ancient Egyptians, the Khmer Empire, and Aztecs.

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The Predalien Because alien embryos take characteristics from their gestation host, the impregnation of a Predator results in a powerful creature that shares aspects of the xenomorph and Predator species. The ‘Predalien’ was first seen in a painting by Dave Dorman, and made a few appearances in the Dark Horse Aliens VS Predator comic books. Its movie debut was in Aliens VS Predator: Requiem. The ‘Predalien’ is stronger and larger than aliens incubated by human hosts, capable of easily taking on a Predator single handed. gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010


Weyland-Yutani The Weyland-Yutani corporation is a fictional company that has origins going back to the very first Alien film. Often simply called ‘the Companyu’, Weyland-Yutani runs human colonies outside of the Sol system (that’s where Earth is.) Weyland-Yutani is a typical science-fiction corporation, out to sacrifice human lives and operate on the questionable side of moralality, all in exchange for a profit. One of the company’s drives is to capture living xenomorph specimens, and to try and utilise them in military sciences, or as bilogical weapons. Although Welyand-Yutani doesn’t feature in the original Predator movies, the inclusion of the character Charles Bishop Weyland (the founder of Weyland-Yutani) in the first Aliens VS Predator movie is a nod towards the corporation.

Alien (1979)

Aliens (1986)

This is where it all began… the original Alien film was released in 1979, and set a new precedent for sci-fi horror movies. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto, Alien told the story of the crew of the salvage vessel Nostromo. The crew follow a distress signal to the planet LV426, where they discover a strange alien space ship and a clutch of odd, leathery eggs. One of the crew members is attacked by a creature from one of these eggs. Once he is back aboard the Nostromo, a strange alien bursts from his chest and, as it grows, it systematically destroys each of the crew members. The only survivor is Ellen Ripley (Weaver.) Alien won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, and effectively launched Sigourney Weaver’s career – it was her first lead role in a film.

Sigourney Weaver reprised her role as Ellen Ripley in 1986’s Aliens, a sequel to Ripley Scott’s film, directed by James Cameron. Also starring Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, and Bill Paxton, the story begins when Ripley is found adrift in space, aboard the Nostromo’s escape pod. When she learns that she has been in hypersleep for fifty years and that the planet LV426 has been colonised, she accompanies a group of USCMC marines to do battle against the aliens that are ravaging the planet. The film also sees the debut of the alien queen. Aliens was nominated for seven Oscars, ultimately winning two: Visual Effects and Sound Effect Editing. Filmed in England at Pinewood Studios and a decomissioned power plant, the film earned US$131 million during its theatrical release – a pretty penny for 1986.

gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010

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Predator (1987) Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, and Kevin Peter Hall, the original Predator film was directed by John McTiernan. Set in a South American jungle, the strory tells of an elite group of soldiers who are investigating the disappearance of some CIA operatives. However, they soon learn that they are being stalked by a menacing alien hunter that has high tech weaponry, can hide in plain sight and is tough as a tank. The generally favourable response to the film saw it gross US$60 million in the USA.

Predator 2 (1990) The second Predator film was directed by Stephen Hopkins and starred Danny Glover and Gary Busey. Except for Kevin Peter Hall (who reprised his role as the Predator) the cast was entirely new. Even the setting was new, taking the action from the deep jungle to the big city, where the Predator matches wits with a streetwise cop. Unlike the first Predator film, the second movie got mixed responses. Both films have developed a strong cult following in subsequent years.

Alien 3 (1992) With David Fincher in the director’s chair, the third movie in the Alien series left behind the more action-adventure feel of Aliens and returned to the sci-fi horror of the original film. The film was Fincher’s first big budget film, and without a definitive script and creative interference from the studio, it was a trying process for the then 27year-old director. The story sees Ripley arrive on a prison planet after a malfunction in the escape craft that carried her from LV426. An alien manages to hitch a ride on the craft, and soon the population of strange, religious prisoners falls prey to the actions of a new breed of alien – more animallike and ferocious, this one gestated in the body of a dog. The film ends with Ripley sacrificing herself to destroy an alien queen gestating inside her. Studio interference in the final cut and mixed reviews plagued the third film. It was the least successful of the films at the time.

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gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010


Aliens VS Predator (2004)

Alien Resurrection (1997) French film maker Jean-Pierre Jeunet directed the fourth film in the Alien series in 1997. Alien Resurrection takes place 200 years after the death of Ellen Ripley. Her DNA, infused with that of the alien she carried when she died, is used to clone her – and a queen alien. The action takes place aboard a military ship, the USM Auriga, where kidnapped humans are used to breed new aliens for military purposes. Naturally, things go wrong, and the cloned Ripley and a group of mercenaries must fight for survival. The script for the film was written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly creator, Joss Whedon. Once again, the film received mixed reviews. gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010

Based on the idea first formulated in 1989’s Aliens VS Predator comic books, published by Dark Horse Comics, 2004’s Aliens VS Predator saw these two favourite science-fiction bad-guys together on the big screen for the first time. Directed by Paul W S Anderson and starring Lance Henriksen, the story sees billionaire Charles Bishop Weyland lead a team of experts to a strange archeological dig in 2004. They discover a pyramid that holds the secret of how Predators hunt Aliens as a rite of passage. The humans get caught up in a battle between the two rival species. Despite the fact that AVP received mostly negative reviews and criticism, the film was still a commercial success.

AVP: Requiem (2007) The second cross-over film featuring these two extraterrestrial species, Aliens VS Predator: Requiem takes the action from the Arctic to a small US town, where Aliens and Predators do battle while the townsfolk panic all around them. The film was very harshly criticised, but still managed to rack up more than US$157 million in box office earnings and DVD sales.

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Previews

More Pictures! Highlights 20 22 29 33 37 45

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom Nier Mafia II UFC: Undisputed 2010 Clash of the Titans

W

e know that a picture speaks a thousand words. That’s why we’re trying something out this month… our Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands preview is a little longer than normal, with more space made for… you guessed it, pictures. Because video games are such a visual format, we feel it’s necessary to bring you as many good, clear and big pictures as possible. With that in mind, we thought we’d give the whole idea a look-see and find out what you think about it. Drop us a mail at letters@gamecca.co.za and let us know. If it’s a popular idea, we’ll be doing more of the same! Other previews to look out for in this issue include Mafia 2, Skate 3 and FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa, to name a few... g

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gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


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Prince of Persia:The Forgotten Sands

Playing with Sand POP returns to its roots

by Bryan Banfield

W

ith the hotly anticipated release of the Price of Persia movie at cinemas later this year comes Ubisoft’s fine work on another story worth telling. Fans of the franchise will see the storyline take a step away from Elika and the tomb robbing Prince to revisit the world that captivated our hearts just a few years back… the world of the Sands of Time. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands takes place between Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. The Forgotten Sands offers the player another chapter in The Sands of Time saga, as well as a deeper understanding of the series and story. In these sands lie the might of mountains, where nations come and go, but this time the dark secrets of the sand have reared their destructive heads once again. Along with the return to the Sands of Time story line, game-play will offer the usual high-scale multi-enemy combat, as well as the massive environments which will be enhanced by the Prince’s ability to control both nature and time. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands has spent two years in development and is built with the award winning Anvil engine. The player’s skills are set to be tested while at the same time offering us some spectacular moments. g

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gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


AT A GLANCE: Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

May 2010 Platforms

Third-person puzzle, action adventure that is set to deliver as every other Prince of Persia game before, every time.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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The keys to creating a successful Kingdom by Walt Pretorius

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he Settlers franchise has been around for ages, and has always delivered a compelling experience for strategy and management fans. With a more relaxed pace and beautiful graphics, getting lost in a Settlers game is easy – and the seventh instalment should prove no different. Paths to a Kingdow will allow the player to create their own kingdom town by town, achieving victory through science, trade and military might. But the points needed for victory will be awarded in numerous ways, making for a more exciting and compelling gaming experience. A wide array of possibilities will also be unlocked during the game – all of these dependant on the player’s style. And everything will be presented with a brand new, sparkly graphics engine, including a very high level of detail, as well as a revamped AI system for improved levels of challenge. For the first time in the Settlers series, The Settlers 7:

Paths to a Kingdom will give the player freedom to express themselves in the way they create their mini virtual empire. Fans of the series will surely enjoy the changes that have been made – because these changes will still hold true to the long-running spirit of this popular and entertaining franchise. g

AT A GLANCE: The next instalment in the Settlers franchise will afford the player much more freedom. Developer: BlueByte Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

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March 2010 Platforms

The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom

Science, Trade and War

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


GTI Club Supermini Festa

Mini? Super! A little racing game for you

by Bryan Banfield

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TI Club Supermini Festa! has made its way from the arcades and onto the Nintendo Wii, and will be downloadable for the PSP and PSPgo. Players will again find themselves racing through cityscapes in France, the UK, Italy, the USA and Japan. Player will face five stages and over 15 courses while having to dodge oncoming traffic and pedestrians… all this while winding through back roads and high mountain passes. There are 16 fully customisable cars for players to enjoy, as well as support for all your favourite Wii racing accessories. Game-play will be synonymous with the old Outrun titles, at the same time retaining a very cartoony bob and bounce feel as players navigate the track. The player’s driving experience will be enhanced with exceptional handling over big jumps, a few tight turns and even a few secret shortcuts. Party games will also be included for a multiplayer

experience that caters for local or online games of up to 4 players. Some of the party game modes include the likes of Money Run, Bomb Tag, Keep Away and Foot Ball. Players will even be able to enter their garages to design their superminis from the ground up and tweak the engine for added performance. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami Distributor: Ster Kinekor

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Q2 2010 Platforms

A very casual, cartoony, slap-stick take on racing games.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


Warriors: Legends of Troy

Epic Combat

Go on... be a legend by Dion Scotten

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arriors: Legends of Troy is set during the epic confrontation between the Trojans and the Greeks. Two unique storylines are playable, one from each perspective, and players may choose to play one of several famous warriors of that time, including the legendary Achilles and Hector. The developers call it a tactical action game and say that the player will have different options available to reach objectives in missions, and won’t be led along a linear solution line. Each choice will have its own advantages and dangers, and the player can choose to be stealthy instead of always assaulting the enemy directly. A real battle experience is promised and besides blood and gore, glaring heat, sweat, dirt and exhaustion are elements the developers hope will immerse the player into the reality of battle. The main character is a larger-than-life hero and will not be bound to a single form of attack. He will be able to pick up a variety of weapons, boulders and even other soldiers to hurl at the enemy. The enemies faced will use historically accurate tactics for that particular unit, for example hiding behind a wall of

shields or advancing in a phalanx, and the player will have to use initiative and tactics (besides just brute strength) to progress through the game. Not everything is based on realism though; supernatural and mythological creatures will also make appearances and not everything will unlock the first time the game is completed. The developers are hinting at four player online game-play of both competitive and co-operative natures. They’re tight lipped about the details but this could be awesome if they get it right. Either way, we’ll have to wait and see in November 2010. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Koei Canada Publisher: Koei Distributor: TBC gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

November 2010 Platforms

Legendary warriors face off against each other as two great nations wage war in a land set in Greek mythology.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Dementium II

A Hellish Prison Reality and insanity collide

by Brian Murdoch

T

his is the second title in the Dementium series and picks up exactly where the first one left off… but having played the first game doesn’t appear vital to enjoying this new instalment. This is the third game that is using the Renegade Kid’s 3D engine for the DS, and everyone is impressed with what this engine brings to the platform. Dementium will use the clever control scheme from the first title and most other first-person shooters on the DS. In Dementium 2, the player wakes up after having had brain surgery, not knowing why he needed it or why he is now being taking back to his prison cell. Not to worry, though, because (as if from the future) post cards are sent by the player’s character and are slowly helping the memories come back. As the player obviously tries to escape the prison, he jumps between this dimension and another hellish plane, where the prison seems to be a real torture chamber. It’s not only the guards that the player has to deal with, but the puzzles that block the path to the next room or floor as well… not to mention the daemon guards from the hellish dimension. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Renegade Kid Publisher: South Peak Interactive Distributor: TBC

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March 2010 Platforms

A first-person shooter for the DS where the player is to escape from prison after just having brain surgery, complete with alternate dimensions.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


The critically-acclaimed Silent Hunter series is back

Command and control stunningly authentic recreations of classic type VII German submarines

Experience all the action from the most dangerous vantage point of all –the captain’s chair with an all-new first person view

Battle with up to eight friends and foes online in both scripted and generated multiplayer missions.

THE HUNT IS ON

AND YOU’RE IN COMMAND. 9 © 2010 Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. Silent Hunter, Ubisoft and the Ubisoft logo are trademarks of Ubisoft Entertainment in the U.S. and/or


Dead To Rights Retribution

Swift Justice Time for a clean-up

by Bryan Banfield

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he once peaceful Grant City has fallen under a shroud of crime and widespread corruption. Now one man has taken the challenge and risen up to rid this city of the plagues that are destroying the streets. This man has armed himself to take down the evil gangs that prey on the weak and own the night. Justice is about to come raining down on the power-hungry elite that have bled the life from this city. Grant City will soon be lifted to the status it once held. And Jack Slate is that man. Vice cop Jack Slate only knows justice. Players will be able to assist him in waging his war of attrition, armed only with his gun, bare hands and Shadow, his loyal canine. Dead to Rights: Retribution will get players into the heart of combat, allowing them to turn weapons on their enemies and execute a variety of lethal take downs. This action will all be delivered in full 360 degree hand-to-hand combat. Based on the art of Gun Ju, players will be able to unload a hail storm of bullets from behind cover or blind fire before moving in for the kill in the most robust hand-tohand combat system yet to be seen in a shooter. g

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

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April 2010 Platforms

A fast-paced action shooter, transitioning between weapons and hand-to-hand combat systems.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


Nier

The Cure

Seeking a cure for a dread disease by Walt Pretorius

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ier must save his daughter. She has been laid low by the dreaded Black Scrawl virus, and only he can find a cure for her. But all is not lost – he is armed with a mysterious book and powerful allies as he sets out on a journey that would chill the hearts of even the stoutest warriors. The player assumes the role of Nier in this action packed game and, as such, must take on dark and mysterious enemies in his quest for a cure. The player will travel through a beautifully realised landscape, complete with the remnants of modern society, and will employ brutal combat moves and incredible magic to clear his many enemies out of his way. The deep and engaging storyline is set in a world ravaged by disease and human anguish. Sounds like fun! Nier looks to be more than the usual action game… although time will tell on that. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Cavia Inc Publisher: Square Enix Distributor: Nu Metro gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

April 2010 Platforms

Set in a world wrought with anguish, Nier will task the player with batting foes using combat and magic while he searches for a cure.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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The World Cup is going to be great by Jimmy Glue

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ast year’s FIFA 10 was one of the best football games we have ever played, with stunning graphics and an amazing game dynamic. We simply loved the fact that you had to literally fight for every goal, let alone possession. We thought that it would be impossible to top, but Electronic Arts are promising that 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa will be something special. Yes, we all know that the World Cup is being held on our sunny shores, but not only does the game bear our name; it is expected to be a whole lot better than the previous version. Apparently that is possible… The title is to feature real-rendered stadiums, so you will be able to even play in Polokwane, if you prefer. As one might guess, the world’s major football nations will all be represented, and players can battle it out from the group stages, right through to the prestigious finals. The game will also feature altitude effects, where less air resistance at altitude means the ball travels faster and further. Plus, player will noticeably fatigue faster and their stamina challenged while playing in cities at higher elevations. We have it on good authority from someone who has already played the game that it will definitely be the best football game on the market. g

AT A GLANCE: Believe it or not, but this game is set to be even better than the already excellent FIFA 10... and not just because of its local flavour. Developer: EA Sports Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

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April 2010 Platforms

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa

Local Bliss

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


TBA


Skate 3

Take a Ride

Grinding and carving around the block by Jimmy Glue

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he Skate franchise has always rivalled the hugelypopular Tony Hawk’s series, but what Skate did differently, and what upped its popularity, was change the control scheme. Where Tony Hawk’s used the regular buttons, Skate used a flipping motion of the analogue sticks to simulate the motion of the player’s feet. The third instalment is due to be released in May, and it promises to add a lot more for skating fanatics. New tricks like darkslides and underflips will be added, as well as a new city, Port Craverton. But the one thing that skaters can look forward to is the return of Hall Of Meat. Skaters can brutalise their character in the harshest ways possible with all-new total body control bails. [Oh, goody – ed] The game will also have a managerial element to it,

where players can team up with a host of other skaters to form a skating empire, and eventually become a mogul by selling skating decks. Almost everything players do in the game will contribute to their popularity, which will bring them one step closer to being a skating king. For those who are not familiar with the Skate world, an all-new Skate School will serve as a place to practice and hone their skills on the sticks before hitting the streets with their team. g

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

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May 2010 Platforms

The Skate franchise makes a return with its third instalment, full of board flipping action.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


Mafia II

The Mean Streets Made even meaner by you.

by Walt Pretorius

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t’s a story we see in virtually every Mafia movie, book and TV series; a young immigrant learns that life of the streets can be hard, and he joins with the Mafia to make money, get protection and gain acceptance. The reason we see this story so often is, even though its been told hundreds of times, it is a great story. The immigrant in the case of the long awaited (and often delayed) Mafia 2 is Vito. He and his childhood friend, Joe, need to work to prove themselves to the Mafia and, hopefully, become made men. Set in the ‘40s and ‘50s, Mafia 2 promises to be a compelling tale of criminal life in the USA. Developed by 2K, the game promises to be visually stunning, and possessed of a deep and interesting narrative. And there will be lots of shooting things, too. It’s a fairly ambitious project, with 16 square kilometres of playable area that will provide seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor locations – no loading here, folks. This won’t be one for the kids, though – Mafia 2 looks set to deliver a hard-hitting and adult oriented view of criminal life in the USA during the mid-20th Century. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: 2K Czech Publisher: 2K Games Distributor: Megarom gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

May 2010 Platforms

A compelling Mafia tale, Mafia 2 promises to be quite a thrill ride…

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

xxx


Sam & Max: Season 2

Back on the Case Dog and rabbit, at your service…

by Walt Pretorius

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oint and click (or perhaps hunt and pick) adventures are a great source of amusement, and are a stalwart genre of PC gaming. And one of the best loved franchises among these kinds of games is the Sam & Max series. These irreverent games are about two freelance cops – in the form of a stoic and unflappable dog and a decidedly insane rabbit – who solve strange crimes as part of their day to day business. The second season of Sam & Max will be hitting shelves soon, containing five episodes full of zany humour and strange cases – from a giant battle robot attack through to an investigation in outer space. The game will even be shipping with a host of special features (just like any other boxed season product) that will include behind-the-scenes looks, team commentary and design notes. Fans of Sam & Max will be ecstatic to hear that the next season is on the way… and if you haven’t played any of these games yet, this is a great place to start. And the whole thing will even come in a nice box, we are told… g

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

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TBC Platforms

Sam & Max will be back on the case with five new mysteries to solve in their unique, off-the-wall way.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


“one of this generation’s definitive titles” 9.2/10 – IGN 10/10 – TotalVideoGames.com

NOW FOR THE PLAYSTATION 3 AND PC ®

MARCH 30, 2010 www.rockstargames.com/episodesfromlibertycity

© 2006-2010 Rockstar Games, Inc. Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto, Episodes from Liberty City, the r logo, the Grand Theft Auto logo and the Episodes from Liberty City logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Take-Two Interactive Software. “2”, “PlayStation”, “PS3” and “À” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Microsoft, Windows, the Windows Vista Start button, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies, and ‘Games for Windows’ and the Windows Vista Start button logo are used under license from Microsoft. All other marks and trademarks are properties of their respective owners. All rights reserved.


Iron Man 2

Iron Man, Iron Man… …does whatever an iron can!

by Walt Pretorius

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AT A GLANCE: The next Iron Man film will see a video game released along side it… and they’re making some big promises. Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA Distributor: Nu Metro

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May 2010 Platforms

ig movie, big game release. That’s the general formula, and it has been for years. And there are few movies currently as highly anticipated as the sequel to Iron Man. Naturally, this particular big movie will be getting the associated game release, but the developers of the Iron Man 2 video game are taking things just a little further for players. The plot will extend beyond that of the film, and will even feature a villain not seen in the movie: Iron Man’s long time rival, Crimson Dynamo. With a story written by renowned Iron Man writer Matt Fraction, the Iron Man 2 video game will put the player in control of the man in the steel suit, Tony Stark. The player will be able to research new technologies and refine the Iron Man suit in the game, and will be able to customise load-outs for specific missions. And the weapons are powerful… in the game, the player will be able to blast holes through walls and even bring entire structures tumbling down. And, during the global crisis in which the game is set, the player will need those weapons; some of the enemies the game will throw at them will be truly massive. We always hope that a game based on a movie will transcend the usual state of these kinds of products. The game based on the last Iron Man movie showed a lot of promise, so we’re really hoping that this one goes a little further in the quality stakes. g

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gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


UFC: Undisputed 2010

Take It!

The hard hitting fighter franchise returns by Walt Pretorius

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AT A GLANCE: There are bound to be bone-jarring punches a-plenty in this mixed martial arts celebration. Developer: Yuke’s Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

May 2010 Platforms

f you think that getting the tar beaten out of you is a good idea for a sport, it’s likely that you’re a fan of UFC. And, if you’re a fan of UFC, it’s just as likely that you’ll be wanting to snap up the next title in the UFC: Undisputed franchise. UFC: Undisputed 2010 is a hard-hitting title that will have you scoring punches, executing throws and pinning opponents in the famous UFC octagon. With a roster of more than 100 real-world fighters introduced into the game, the player will be able to experience unprecedented fighting realism while playing this title. A new sway system will keep the player’s head and body out of harms way, with full head and torso movement under the player’s control. Full fighter customisation will enable the player to not only create a fighter that looks the way they want it to, but also one that fights in their favourite martial art style… including the newly introduced Sambo, Karate and GrecoRoman Wrestling disciplines. Aside from expansive online play opportunities, the game will offer the single player a long and intricate career mode as they battle their way to the top. The player will be able to compete in one of the UFC’s five official weight classes, in search of the coveted championship belt. And just to add to the fun, up to 16 players will be able to compete in single combatant and team based tournaments on one game system. This one is sure to pack a punch. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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The Swarm

Mother Russia Post apocalyptic bugs in Moscow…

by Dion Scotten

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AT A GLANCE: Manipulate alien DNA to grow faster and more powerful; only by sacrificing your humanity will you be able save mankind. Developer: Buka Entertainment Publisher: 505 Games Distributor: TBC

May 2010 Platforms

T

he Swarm is set in the aftermath of a massive nuclear attack against invading aliens. Pockets of humanity rise in a struggle to survive against mutants and alien monstrosities. The game is staged in Moscow; this comes as no surprise, what with the developer, Buka Entertainment, being a Russian company. It’s a new perspective on the end of the world and using Russia actually makes sense… let’s face it, if anyone can fight off an invasion, it’s the Russians. The player controls the main character of the game who takes the fight to the alien infestation, risking his life for mankind. His main attacks will be close-combat melee, with a variety of weapons and genetic modifications to choose from. However, there will also be ranged attacks

available. The developers promise blood and gore so it looks like a predominantly hack-and-slash combat system. The character begins as an untainted human but he absorbs alien DNA after each kill, which slowly transforms him into something else. The player must choose to what extent he changes, and how. This will be done by way of mini in-games that will improve abilities, depending on how successful the player is in linking chains of DNA. Mutations can’t be avoided entirely say the developers because the character is sacrificing himself for the sake of mankind. The more genetic changes he embraces, the more he changes into a monster, the more powerful he becomes… but the less human too. Staying as human as possible can be pulled off but it’ll make the game more difficult. But at least you can still brush your teeth. No, the storyline isn’t unique, but these kinds of last stand confrontations will never get old, so check it out in May 2010. g

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gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

Going Round Again Another character based racing title

by Walt Pretorius

T

here are numerous iconic gaming figures who relate back to the simple, side-scrolling, 2D platform games of yesteryear… and Sonic the Hedgehog is one of them. Through the years, these characters have been seen over and over again, in various situations, doing different things and generally making a big splash. This can be seen as either a celebration of the characters, or an exploitation of the brand. Either way, it keeps rolling… And there are always racing games. So it’s hardly surprising that a new Sonic-styled racing title will be hitting the shelves later this year. Each character (the likes of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and so forth) will have a specific All-Star move to take advantage of, and power-ups and weapons will be scattered around each track to keep things interesting. With single player and multiplayer modes available, the action is sure to be fast and furious for Sonic fans. g

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

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February 2010 Platforms

A Sonic themed racing game for the whole family, with up to four players on the same device.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


Infinite Space

Big… Really Big And yet, small…

by Brian Murdoch

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gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

AT A GLANCE: A space-based RPG in which the focus is on the fleet of ships rather than the guns, swords and martial arts shown in the anime series. Developer: Platinum Games Publisher: SEGA Distributor: Nu Metro

March 2010 Platforms

uns, swords and martial arts combat mixed with cruisers, battle ships and fighter pilots in space. This makes for a great anime series but will it make for a great game? Platinum Games has teamed up with Nude Maker to create another role playing game, after creating Steel Battalion. Their latest adventure promises the same high quality and deep game dynamics. There looks to be more involvement in the controlling and organizing of the player’s fleet than the actual character roles. The unique tactical battle system is effected with every decision made. These battles are quick and action-packed, and the player needs to react in time or the enemies will get the upper hand. With a point of view from the bridge of the commanding ship, it will feel like the player is controlling the Star Ship Enterprise. With a title like Infinite Space there is an expectation of a long game, and it is. There is will be over 70 hours of game-play and an option of playing the game twice… Once in single player and the second time in 2 player co-op. Fans of the anime series might be disappointed in the depth of character development, but others will probably just enjoy the idea of having a star fleet in their pocket. g

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Combat of Giants: Mutant Insects

Mantis Style…

Not so easy to squish these bugs… by Brian Murdoch

T

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AT A GLANCE: Take control of giant Mutant Insects and fight others to control the opus of COG. Customize the insect and battle with your friends. Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

March 2010 Platforms

hird in the series of Combat of Giants (after Dinosaurs and Dragons) comes Mutant Insects. Mutant Insects is just like its predecessors, with the player able to customise and strengthen their creatures and then have them either battle through a story line or battle a friend in Wifi play. There will be four different insects to play with, namely Scorpion, Mantis, Flying Ant and my personal favourite, the Spider. The customisation is used to surprise other players and beat enemies at their own game. They come in the form of gems that need to be collected to unlock 6 powers that can be used by any insect. Each power has different levels of strength, upgrading different body parts to increase defence and resistance and colours to just make them look cool. The story mode will take the player over 4 mysterious territories and additional features have been added, like underground caverns, lairs and bottomless pits to explorer for bonuses. The insects are also able to crush any game elements by just walking over the object. It looks to be a good addition to the collection and will have enough new features to not just be a repeat of the previous title. g

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gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


Calling

Ring... Ring... Do you dare to pick up the phone?

T

hriller game releases seem to be increasing on the Wii. With Cursed Mountain, Fatal Frame IV, Ju-on: The Grudge and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, there is a sizable collection of scary games to be played. When we talk about scary games we mean true thrillers that incorporate good controls and a heart-pounding story line, keeping the player on the edge of their seat. Calling is no different to these. Not many games use the Wii remote’s internal speaker but Calling puts it to use in answering creepy phone calls. The story is about an urban legend that tells of people that die mysteriously after visiting a certain website. On the site there is a low-key chat room that not everyone can

by Brian Murdoch join, but once in the person will receive phone calls from the “Abyss”, entering into a limbo a state that is between life and death. The player has to lift the Wii remote to their ear to hear what the voice in these phone calls is saying, adding a visceral element to the game’s overall horror aspect. The player will need to puzzle-solve their way through the story. Playing through this game alone in the dark will test the player’s courage. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Hudson Publisher: Hudson Entertainment Distributor: TBC

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March 2010 Platforms

With a unique control idea and lots of creepiness, Calling will be a good addition to the growing number of Wii-based horror games.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


Clash of the Titans

I Come for Hades!

...but the Kraken will also do by Jimmy Glue

I

t seems as though the underworld and all the evils that go with it are very popular themes in games these days. Clash Of The Titans is another such game, and in this version the player will assume the role of Perseus. Born from a god, but raised as a man, Perseus sets off on a dangerous mission to save his family from Hades, the god of the underworld. Hades is trying to seize power from Zeus and, with that, plans to unleash all hell onto the earth. The title takes on a Greek mythological feel, and player will have to battle Medusa and the ghastly sea monster The Kraken. But it won’t be a walk in the park, as the title will feature over a hundred other creatures to battle. The player will have the ability to destroy the environment to use it to their advantage. As far as hack-and-slash games go, Titans promise to be rather lengthy, boasting 15 hours of play, with over 100 side missions. The game is also based on the film of the same name, and the film looks to be something awesome. Although game adaptations have been better of late, let’s just hope that Titans will be among the cream of the crop. [Let’s not forget that the film itself is a remake… - ed] Titans will also feature a 2-player Local Co-Op, but sadly no system link/split-screen or online support. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Game Republic Publisher: Namco Bandai Distributor: Megarom gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

March 2010 Platforms

Travel back into the time of Greek mythology and battle Hades, Medusa and the Kraken.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Racket Sports Party

Tennis for Everyone! And a bunch of other sports, too…

by Brian Murdoch

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ome people, when they first bought the Wii, played through all the games on the Wii sports disc and then fixated on the tennis. Then, when the Wii Sports Resort came out, they bought it and once again tried out all the games but chose the table tennis as their favourite. For these people the new Ubisoft title, Racket Sports Party, will be their next hook. The types of games included in the title are tennis, table tennis, badminton, squash and beach tennis. Ubisoft is bringing out a collection of games that use a racquet that will not only incorporate the Wii Motion Plus but the Wii USB Motion Tracking Camera as well. We anticipate that the Wii Motion Plus will be optional for the game, but the added realism of the device makes it almost essential. There are six different modes to play the game in, including a Party Mode where up to 4 players are able to play at the same time, with some modified rules. This might have players going out and getting more Wii Motion Plus add-ons, so that all four players have the same enhanced experience. If the USB Motion Tracking Camera is plugged in, the game is rumoured to have a form help system, to aid in improving the player’s tennis stroke. There might be other fun things to do with the camera as well. g

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

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March 2010 Platforms

Raquet junkies can look forward to this title, which will offer six different racquet based sports.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010


On the Brink A chat with Paul Oughton of Bethesda Softworks 48

by Matthew Vice gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010


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ecently, some local journalists were lucky enough to meet with Paul Oughton, the UK Sales Director for Bethesda Softworks, courtesy of Nu-Metro Interactive. Bethesda Softworks, for those who don’t know, are the geniuses behind the Elder Scrolls series of role playing games and, most recently, Fallout 3. However, that’s not all they’re planning on bringing us any more, hence the meeting. There were some points in the meeting that must remain top-secret, but the general idea is that Bethesda Softworks is looking to draft a few developers to create a strong stable of titles under the Bethesda label, allowing them to publish a few games a year as opposed to the one game every year and half as it used to be. No info on who they’re looking at yet, but we’ll be keeping up to see how it turns out. They certainly don’t plan to become a huge, powerhouse publisher, gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010

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like Ubisoft or EA. There are plenty of advantages to being part of a system like that, says Paul, but they’re more interested in keeping things small and allowing the developers a great deal of autonomy and artistic freedom. In addition to this brief update on the new direction of Bethesda, we were also shown some material on two of Bethesda’s upcoming titles: Fallout: New Vegas and Brink. Of the two of them, Fallout: New Vegas had the least information, in fact, we weren’t shown much beyond what’s already known. The game will take place in Vegas, obviously, and this time round, the development is being handled by the original Fallout development team, Obsidian. This means that we can expect lots of throwbacks to the old games – but don’t worry, it’s still going to use the Oblivion engine, just like Fallout 3, and will not be reverting to the isometric 2D view of its

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predecessors. Well, I know that the change-resistance movement might enjoy that, but I sure as hell wouldn’t. The Brink demo we were shown was a lot more extensive, and cleared up a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of the game. Brink is being developed by Splash Damage, an independent developer that originally started out as a creator of high profile mods for Quake 3, and then went on to developer Quake Wars: Enemy Territory. Brink is their first project for Bethesda and it looks like it will be quite a lot of fun. Essentially Brink is a team-based shooter with some role-playing elements and a bit of Mirror’s Edge style free movement thrown into the mix. The core game-play revolves around the war between the security corps for a floating, utopian city known as the Ark, and the oppressed resistance who are trying to bring it down. The

gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010


player can choose to play the entire game as either the resistance or the security corps, and while all of the missions will be the same, the outcome will be different depending on which team players decide to play for. Players can choose to play as one of several different character classes and customise their character with all kinds of gear, hairstyles, and so on. As they gain experience from combat and achieving objectives, they’ll level up and gain access to new abilities and equipment. Really cool stuff. Players will be able to freely invite friends into their game to help out or fight against them. It’s not all that far removed from Borderlands in terms of how it works, but it looks like it will be a lot more action-packed and intense. The movement system, called SMART, allows players to move quickly through the game world, traversing hazards

gamecca feature • issue 9 • March 2010

and vaulting over or sliding under obstacles not entirely unlike in Mirror’s Edge. This initially led many gamers to believe that it was a similar game to Mirror’s Edge, but it’s not the case. Brink also features character designs by the Fable II team and a unique visual style that also smacks somewhat of Mirror’s Edge’s clean and neat solid colour look. All in all, it was an interesting meeting, and we grilled Paul for as much info as he was allowed to give. Rest assured, we’ll be staying in contact and keeping you up to date with every tidbit of info released from Bethesda about their upcoming titles and their new direction. We’d like to thank Paul Oughton for making the trip to speak to us, and Nu-Metro Interactive for arranging the whole thing (and for the yummy snacks). Cheers guys. g

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PS Zealot

The Year of Kratos by Suvesh Arumugam

A

fter the lull in events relating to all things Playstation, 2010 kicked off its campaign with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas at the beginning of January. CES is mainly a showcase for hardware accessory designers, but Sony will usually drop in a couple of clues about what they have planned for the year. Not too many surprises, but a few hints of what they will most likely be revealing at E3 in June later this year. The big news for PS fans was the PSP Go being honored for design innovation. This handy little device is fast being recognized as a premier digital lifestyle accessory. With Sony continually adding more features and console integration, it’s no wonder that it was included in the techno-junkies “must-have” list. Also on the hardware side, Logitech was honored for its range of wireless guitar controllers. Previous winners have been the likes of Dreamgear’s Warbeast, which probably won on pure metal audacity! The Logitech controller was praised for its authentic experience and high quality design. Nyko released a nifty range of accessories for the PS3 Slim, the most interesting of which is the Media Hub. By doubling the number of USB ports, adding an SD Card reader, and including a DVD/Blu-Ray remote, they’ve created an accessory pack well worth looking into when it hits US stores in April.

[And we should see it here too – ed] The big reveal from Sony was a host of demos in full 3D at their booth. With big titles like Wipeout and Avatar thrilling audiences in full 3D watching paraphernalia (the glasses look a lot more fuel-injected and sexy than the crappy plastic ones we get at the movies), Sony’s promise to deliver this firmware to consoles later this year is extremely reassuring. Combined with Microsoft’s announcement that Project Natal will only hopefully be delivered by the end of the year, it seems to indicate that E3 this year will focus on graphics and 3D interaction. Sony has also promised some new titles to show off

their Wand technology, which they launched in Tokyo late last year. PS Gamers can also look forward to a delicious selection of DLC being released over the next month, including Borderlands, Army of Two: 40th Day and Bioshock 2. These include additional campaigns and lots of bells and whistles to inspire you to get back into your favorite games. Unfortunately for Call of Duty fans, Infinity Ward has confirmed that there

will be no zombies in any Modern Warfare 2 downloadable content. Apparently this is something to do with realism in the game, but I think the majority of fans of the series would agree that Nazi Zombies has got to be one of the most enjoyable and addictive add-ons ever conceived of. No doubt the developers will hold onto this ace for as long as they can. Fans will be happy to know that WHA Entertainment have announced that Kick-Ass will soon be available on PS3 and PSP. For those of you who don’t know, Kick-Ass is a fairly routine 3D fighter, based on an upcoming movie, which in turn is based on the comic books by John Romita and Mark Millar. What sets Kick-Ass apart from other comic to movie to game titles is that developers have promised that players will be able to integrate their Twitter, Facebook and PSN networks into the game. Using friend requests, players will be able to engage in a variety of co-op ass kicking, which so far looks like great fun. Personally, I have only one desire in this world, and that is called God of War III. It’s already been confirmed that this will be Kratos’ last adventure, and the pre-release marketing has promised us Ultimate editions, Ultimate Trilogy editions (where I & II have been revamped for PS3), and a host of add-ons and tieins including comics books and Zeus knows what else. I plan to make 2010 the year of Kratos, and I hope that many of you will join me! g

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


Xbox Beat

Trivia-box by Bryan Banfield

W

hat a crazy month it has been, and March is set to be another hum-dinger with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 releasing. This first person shooter has a strong legacies and is best in line to rock Modern Warfare 2 from its firm standing as multiplayer game of choice on the Xbox360. I’m currently suffering from a serious case of “catch-up.” Yip, I think I have come down with it pretty bad this time. Last weekend I picked up my copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum and a copy of Halo 3: ODST. Now add to that list: Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 as well as Army of 2: The 40th Day. Any sympathy yet? Thought not. As well as a little retail therapy, my wife and I found ourselves at a Cats Digital clearance sale. Xbox360 stock was cleared at an amazing 30% discount. While engulfed in the hustle and bustle of the madness that is a clearance sale, I bumped into a fellow gamer, CraigN. Craig and I began chatting about where Xbox had come from and where we could only speculate it was heading, with Microsoft recently announcing that it will halt the support for original Xbox titles as of the 15th of April 2010. He chatted about what the

Xbox team were looking to accomplish by making this decision and taking this move. The days of Halo 2 multiplayer and water cooler Tom Clancy: Ghost Recon stories as well as Counter Strike on the Xbox will soon be a thing of the past. These changes will free up Xbox LIVE and allow the service to move forward without the few restrictions

it currently has, due to original Xbox support, like only being able to have 100 friends in your friends list where your Facebook account has a bazillion. With this land mark shift in the Xbox LIVE service I would like to concentrate on some fun and exciting facts that have grown with Xbox LIVE as a service to this point. • The average Xbox LIVE Gold subscriber has 23 friends on their Xbox LIVE friends list. • More than 1 billion cross-game invites have been sent since the launch of Xbox 360. • In 7 years, Xbox LIVE members have spent more than 17 billion hours

on Xbox LIVE. That’s more than 2 hours for every person on the planet! • More than 100 million songs/ tracks for music games have been downloaded through Xbox LIVE – that’s over 90,000 every day! • More than six million personal messages are sent between Xbox LIVE members every day. • There have been more than 1.2 billion downloads of gaming and entertainment content from Xbox LIVE Marketplace. About 100 per second! • Units sold Worldwide: 39 million (As of January 6, 2010 • Best selling game on the Xbox 360 is Halo 3 with 8.1 million units sold. • During development, the Xbox 360 was know as the Xenon, Xbox 2, Xbox FS, Xbox Next, or NextBox • The Xbox 360 was released on November 22, 2005, in the United States • Xbox Live has over 20 million subscribers • The Xbox360 has a software attach rate of 8.1 titles per console owned. With mega hot titles set to land on the Xbox360 platform this year, including Halo: Reach, Alan Wake, Crackdown 2, Final Fantasy XIII and Fable III, we wish the Xbox LIVE team all the best as they take us into the next chapter of this exciting digital adventure we call gaming. g

This page is provided by Xbox Gamer 42

www.xboxgamer.co.za


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activision.com


House of Mario

A Wii Pain... by Brian Murdoch

O

ne Saturday I was playing on the Wii with my 4 year old son. We went from Ben 10 to Mario Kart to Wii Sports and I finally ended up trying to teach him Super Mario Bros. Wii. He is a very bright child (as every father would call their son) and he is picking up the control and actions very fast. My wife was working on her computer in the same room and I thought that we were disturbing her, so we moved out. My son and I ended up play-wrestling in his bedroom after this and had a small accident… my son’s head hit the side of his bed and split the skin open. A wonderful trip to the clinic and a few stitches later, I found myself thinking. If we had carried on playing Wii my son would not have hit his

head... Compare the hit on the head to the small injuries that I have received playing the Wii: like the time I was sitting behind my son helping drive in Mario Kart, and he lifted the steering wheel into my lip. In the past there have been lots of reported injuries regarding the Wii and news articles on how dangerous the Wii is. I think at one point there were more Wii related home injuries than any other type in the UK for the a few months. But I would like to bring the idiot factor into consideration. 99% of the time, when a Wii remote is thrown into a TV, it is because the strap was not used. How many warnings are there to put the strap on? How many people have hit their

hands on the wall, chair, or ceiling fan ignoring the warning saying that players should make sure there are no objects around while playing? Do they miss the big picture of a person swinging their arms around in the warning? Add to this that some people that don’t exercise and have had previous back problems are now blaming the Wii for making them use creaky joints and aggravating back problems. Did the Wii not advise you in the health and safety warning that if you are not sure whether you should be playing that you contact your GP and confirm that this extra movement would be safe? As time goes by I think that Wiirelated injuries are decreasing, possibly because the current, informed population have learned from other’s mistakes. There is a site where they ask you to report your Wii damages: www.wiihaveaproblem.com There are a total of 231 reported damages on the site at present... and there are 60 million Wiis out there. We can’t assume that everyone that has had an injury will report it on this site so let’s assume that only 1% of people that have Wiis will report an injury. That would still be around 600 000 incidents. The actual percentage is closer to 0.03%. That means 3 in every 10,000 Wii their owners will suffer an injury. Still, you should pay careful attention to the health and safety warnings – they are there for a reason. g

This page is provided by Nintendo Gamer 44

www.nintendogamer.co.za


Reviews

A New Kind of Spotlight... Highlights 60 Aliens VS Predator 64 Bioshock 2 66 Dante’s Inferno 72 Heavy Rain 78 Star Trek Online 80 MAG

O

ne of the toughest things to do is decide which review deserves more attention than others. While we like to be as unbiased as possible here at Gamecca magazine, we do realise that some games just need to have more said about them, and others less. So, with that in mind, we have introduced some longer reviews for this issue… and a couple of shorter ones, too. While the bulk of the reviews still enjoy the same treatment they got before, we felt it was necessary to highlight four of this month’s games – Aliens VS Predator, Bioshock 2, Heavy Rain and Dante’s Inferno. You will also notice that we have, at the end of the Review Section, included four Budget Range titles. The recession may be weakening, but there are still cash-strapped gamers out there who will be happy to know that top quality games are available for pocket-friendly prices. Budget reviews are likely to become a permanent feature. Lastly, you may notice a few tweaks to our review layout… we think they look much better, and hope you’ll agree. g

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gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


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

But patience also has it’s rewards... Thanks to Ubisoft & Megarom Interactive, you could win a copy of

Assassin’s Creed 2 for PC, accompanied by an awesome AC2 hoodie shirt.

SEND AN EMAIL TO COMPETITIONS@GAMECCA.CO.ZA. TELL US YOUR NAME AND THE NAME OF THE HERO IN AC2. PLEASE PUT ‘AC2 PC COMPETITION’ IN THE MAIL’S SUBJECT LINE Competition closes 31 March 2010. South African residents only. The judges’ decision is final. Prizes may not be excahnged for cash. Competition closed to employees (and employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC, Ubisoft and Megarom Interactive. Games may be ‘white label’ products.


Aliens VS Predator

Three Way

Be your favourite warrior by Walt Pretorius

R

elying on an established property can have mixed results for game developers. Take a look at the Godfather games, for example. The first game was great, and captured the spirit of the movies very well. The second one, while tons of fun, managed to change a few very important plot aspects of the movies on which it was based and, so doing, managed to get fans just a little upset. And, let’s face it, these games are for the fans, more than anyone else. When a game is created to be released at the same time as a film, that’s one thing – but when it is released many years after the last release of

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that particular property, it’s a fan-based creation. That means that it needs to deliver a higher degree of performance than the average movie based game. Not only that, but it also needs to stay true to the ideas behind the property. When borrowing heavily from another property, one has to keep all kinds of ducks in various rows, to make sure that the game is true to that upon which it is based. Aliens VS Predator is based on 8 movies, numerous novels, a comic series and a few games that came before. The mythology of this universe goes back to the ‘70s, when the Alien first stalked Sigourney Weaver aboard

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

the Nostromo. And so fans have a lot to go on. There is a massive amount of information about these games, and a vast universe that fans love and know well. Aliens VS Predator has its work cut out for it. The end product, the newly released Aliens VS Predator from Rebellion studios, manages to be a mixed bag. It stays true to the background and mythology, for the most part, but manages to stumble a little on the technical side. The story behind the game is quite interesting, although it lacks any major depth. A group of USCMC marines arrives on a planet from which a distress signal has been sent. It turns out that the planet has a Weyland Yutani research station on it, and is crawling with everyone’s favourite, acid-blooded xenomorph. But, just to add fuel to the fire, there is a collection of ancient ruins on the planet too, originally built by the Predators. That means there are a few of these hunter-aliens running around too. The mix is potentially explosive. The player gets to take the part of all three of these species; humans, Aliens and Predators. In the single player mode, there are three shortish campaigns, one for each species, that are split into episodes. These episodes can be interspersed as the player sees fit, jumping between Alien, Predator and human Marine through the whole thing, one episode at a time. Although the idea makes for excellent continuity, and shows the player exactly how the various species affect the sequence of events that the game describes, some of the episodes are rather short. The player will spend the bulk of his time as the Marine, simply because the Marine has the longest episodes to get through. That’s a blessing in disguise. The Marine gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

features the most recognisable control scheme of all the species. Controlling the Marine is much like any other first person shooter, in the end. The Alien and Predator, though, have control schemes that are a little different to the norm (although they are slightly similar to each other.) Jumping between episodes may get a little confusing in terms of controls, but thankfully not overly so. Each species has specific strengths and weaknesses… although, once again, the Alien and Predator bits are very similar. The Marine represents an upfront brawler, with heavy fire-power. The Alien is a stealthy assassin that uses the advantages of being able to hide in shadows and strike with great speed. The Predator is also a stealthy type, with an array of slower (but more powerful) ranged and melee attacks. Each of the Alien species have other advantages, too, like the Alien’s pheromone sensing (which identifies between hostile enemies and face-hugger fodder) or the

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Predator’s two additional vision modes (one for humans, one for Aliens). Still, playing either of the sci-fi races just doesn’t deliver the satisfaction that playing the Marine does. The reason is simple. The Alien is pretty weak, but speed and the ability to cling to any surface means that it can quickly escape to heal in a dark corner. The Predator is rather slow, but the guy’s a tank, and the cloaking technology available to him makes for easy escapes (particularly when considering that he can make huge jumps.) The Marine… well, he’s slower, weaker and quite blind in the dark (the flashlight and flares the player has access to only do little to lift the shadows that pervade the game.) He’s well armed, sure, but taking on a Predator with a pulse rifle is difficult, and shooting Aliens results in harmful acid spray. All this, combined with a maximum of three health stims, makes the Marine the weakest of the three, and consequently the most thrilling to play. But he’s tougher than the humans you see in the movies on which this game is based, and his enemies are weaker. Still, the ever present ticking and beeping of the motion tracker (mercifully tacked onto the side of the screen and not requiring a free hand) can make for a few tense moments. But the Aliens just

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aren’t as mean as they should be, and being able to take out a Predator… well, that just shouldn’t happen. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger, he’ll tell you. Graphically, the game is very pretty, and keeps to the look and feel of the films quite nicely. There were a few glitches during our review, but nothing too bothersome. The character of Karl Bishop Weyland, voiced by the guy that acted as him or his predecessors in the films ( Lance Henriksen) didn’t look too much like the real deal, but that’s ok – he still looked pretty decent. The sound is excellent, with all the expected sound

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

nothing revolutionary (keep in mind that we saw an Aliens VS Predator game many years ago… playing against your friends as one of the three different species is hardly a new idea.) The overall longevity of the game comes into question, because while it can be enjoyable on its first play-through, it may well get old rather quickly. Still, fans will likely enjoy it… and with a massive gap left for a sequel, one could only hope that the next instalment fixes some of the issues that mar this particular experience. And there will be a sequel… AVP is selling like hot cakes already! g

AT A GLANCE: Fun but flawed, AVP is a game that forgiving fans will likely enjoy. Developer: Rebellion Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

effects, from Predator vocalisations to the odd, squeaky bawl of a pulse rifle in full fire, perfectly recreated. Aliens VS Predator is a fun game, particularly for fans of the films. But it will require a level of forgiveness from the player. The save game system, for example, seems to be completely ineffective, pushing the player back to checkpoints rather than saving actual performance. The single player campaign is short, as we said before, and the Survival Mode that is intended to support it just doesn’t add enough to the game to be compelling. The multiplayer aspect of the title is enjoyable, but offers

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

74 63


Bioshock 2

Twice the Shock Journey back to the underwater city of Rapture

B

ioshock was kind of a surprise hit in 2007, taking the world by storm with its deep story and tactical and nuanced, but still fast-paced and riveting, game-play. The developers hit a few speed bumps along the way with the adaptation of the game to widescreen, both on the Xbox 360 and the PC, but this was probably because it was still early days in the era of HD gaming and the niggles were soon ironed out with a few patches. The next year, 2K Games was nice enough to give PS3 owners a taste of the action with some exclusive downloadable content to boot. So it’s probably fair to say that a great percentage of shooter fans played and enjoyed Bioshock, and rightly so, and it’s understandable how anyone who only started gaming after the turn of the millennium might think that the game was completely original and took shooters in a

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by Matthew Vice new direction, which isn’t entirely the case. It wouldn’t be fair to say that Bioshock was the first shooter to make us think, but what made it such a success was, firstly, the ideal it shared with games as old as Exhumed, System Shock and Deus Ex for delivering a good story and indepth gameplay; and secondly, the sheer quality of the experience as a whole. The shooting action was fantastic, allowing players a wide berth to explore and deal with each situation as they saw fit. The story was fascinating and full of challenging and thought-provoking points of view and subtle commentaries on human nature, government, capitalism, communism and religion. These two things alone would have carried the game along just fine, but it didn’t hurt that it was also immaculately presented with excellent graphics and sound. It was a great experience and fans have been eagerly awaiting the sequel. Now that it’s finally arrived, how does it fare? In Bioshock 2, players once again journey to the city of Rapture, a secret utopia built at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean by the business tycoon, Andrew Ryan. Andrew Ryan’s vision of a place where people with the will to be great could live and pursue their fortunes free of government intervention, censorship and petty morality drew thousands of like-minded people to his city. Things went well for a time, but after some years, the liberties taken by these citizens soon erupted into a civil war between Rapture’s upper crust and the oppressed working class. This war was fuelled by a genetic wonder-drug called Adam, which allowed Rapture’s residents to imbue themselves with all kinds of superhuman powers, and before long, gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


all that remained of the city were crumbling, leaking halls where the surviving residents wander aimlessly seeking their next fix of the coveted Adam. Bioshock 2 takes place ten years after this collapse. This time, players assume the role of a Big Daddy. A Big Daddy, in case you don’t know, is a heavily armed, geneticallyaltered man confined to an armoured diving suit whose sole purpose is to protect the city’s Little Sisters. Once again, for those who don’t know, Little Sisters are small girls who have been genetically transformed into walking Adam factories, wandering Rapture’s halls harvesting the substance from the dead. Of course, they are quite vulnerable while doing this, making them an ideal target for Adam junkies, called Splicers, to get a large fix at once – hence the Big Daddies, who were created to protect them. However, the Big Daddy the player controls is no ordinary model. Going by the name Subject Delta, he was an early model and has a few differences to the others, the most notable being that he is exclusively bound to a particular Little Sister. In this case, the girl’s name is Eleanor Lamb, the daughter of Rapture’s chief psychiatrist, Sophia Lamb. Following an ambush by a group of Splicers, Subject Delta is forcefully separated from Eleanor, and wakes up after a few years. Following the orders of a surprise benefactor, one Dr Tenenbaum (remember her?), Subject Delta embarks on a mission to be reunited with his designated Little Sister, and he doesn’t care who gets in his way. This patriarchal objective pretty much drives the action in the game from beginning to end, but there are plenty of twists and turns along the way – but they are better left gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

unspoiled. Progression through Bioshock 2 is pretty much the same as in the first game. Subject Delta progresses from one sort of “hub” area, if you will, to the next. Each of these areas is impressively large, allowing a lot of room for exploration, where players can wander around looking for the next objective or hidden areas with secret caches of money and useful or rare items. Each area is crawling with a variety of enemies and security countermeasures, so rushing in without a plan is not really a good idea. Each area is also governed by an eccentric “boss” of some kind, which Subject Delta must usually deal with before he can progress. While going about his mission, Subject Delta will be

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attacked by hundreds of enemies, and this is where Bioshock shows one of its greatest strengths. Players can decide for themselves the best way to deal with each enemy, and the sheer number of weapons, security measures, environmental hazards and special Plasmid powers they have at their disposal makes for some very creative offensive options. Subject Delta has a decent selection of weapons at his disposal, including a drill attached to his arm, a rivet gun, a machine gun, a grenade launcher and more. Each weapon can use different types of ammo for different effects and can be upgraded up to three times to offer even more, wildly-varied effects. Clever players can also make use of the city’s security measures, hacking cameras, turrets and security bots to turn them against their former allies. Environmental hazards can also be employed quite successfully. For instance, luring a group of enemies into a pool of water and then electrocuting them is always a winner for wholesale death-dealing. As with last time, the special abilities known as Plasmids are one of the game’s more unique features. Plasmids are essentially superhuman powers which Subject Delta can purchase with the Adam he collects as he progresses through the game. The main Plasmids are offensive and let Delta do things like hurl fireballs or bolts of electricity, telekinetically lift and throw big objects, automatically re-target machines, command swarms of

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stinging insects, and project a ghostly scout, among other things. Another selection of Plasmids are called Gene Tonics, which are equipped separately and offer all kinds of permanent bonuses like increased movement speed, damage resistance, cheaper prices at vending machines, better hacking skills, and so on. However, as I mentioned, to buy these fantastic Plasmids, Subject Delta needs Adam. This genetic “currency”, of sorts, can only be acquired from Little Sisters. In the previous game, players had to kill the Big Daddies protecting the Little Sisters to get the Adam, but this time round, we are the Big Daddy, and so we have to accompany a Little Sister as she makes her rounds, collecting Adam from promising corpses. While she does this, she’ll require protection from the over-zealous Splicers who will try to kill her to get their fix of Adam.

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

AT A GLANCE: Bioshock 2 might be more of the same, but it’s got plenty of improvements, great atmosphere and a new, interesting story. Developer: 2K Marin Publisher: 2K Games Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

Once she’s collected enough Adam, players have two options: Rescue her, or kill her. Rescuing a Little Sister essentially returns them to being a normal little girl, no longer bound to wander the halls gathering Adam. The problem is that this results in a very small amount of Adam. Killing the Little Sister, on the other hand, results in a much greater supply of Adam. Each path has its own set of rewards and hardships, and it’s entirely up to the player to decide what to do. Choose carefully, because this can also affect the course of the story. Bioshock 2 uses the same engine as the first game, albeit with some tweaks and improvements, meaning that it’s simply beautiful to look at. The city of Rapture is a triumph of design, having a primarily ‘40s art deco theme running throughout, which is very indicative of the residents’ devotion to the arts, sciences and all-round higher living. The game is pretty light on music for the most part, and more often than not, any music at all comes from jukeboxes or radios in the game world, playing old swing and jazz tunes from the first half of the century. The voice work is simply superb, and Rapture’s residents display a wide variety of different accents, coming as they do from all over the world to live in a city with no government or religious oppression, which is a nice touch. Well, I’ve waxed on enough for now, and there’s not much more to tell. If you’re a fan of the first game, it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t enjoy this, so it comes highly recommended. The game is long, with plenty of replay value and a fantastic story to enjoy. There is also a new multiplayer mode – an unnecessary inclusion in my opinion - where the highlight is a mode allowing one player to take on the role of a super tough Big Daddy while the other players play as Splicers and try to take him out with coordinated assaults of weapons and Plasmids. So if you see that as a bonus, then you’re sorted. Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is, buy it – buy it now. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

85 67


Dante’s Inferno

Downward Spiral

The good, the bad and the downright ugly by Dion Scotten

T

here’s something about classic hack and slash games that I absolutely love but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the waves of unending enemies, awesome puzzles, wanton bloodshed or the epic boss challenges. Maybe it’s a combination of all of them but even if only one of these are your thing then you’re going to love Dante’s Inferno. The storyline lends from the famous poem “The Divine Comedy” which describes the personal hell of a man named Dante... something that Visceral Games brings to life. In the game, the player controls the conflicted crusader Dante, who returns home from the holy wars to find his wife murdered and Death about to take her soul to Hell. He confronts the Reaper and defeats him in an opening battle, picks up Death’s scythe and marches into Hell in search of Satan and his wife’s release from damnation. Dante’s past unfolds between beautifully rendered cut scenes with current characters and animated flashbacks to his experiences in the crusades. Things slowly start making sense as the pieces fall into place. The story is very well written, keeping your attention all the way to the end.

The game looks great and there are moments where you have to stop and just look at the scenery (yeah, yeah, its flames and death.. but it’s beautiful, ok?) The concept behind the artwork is something really special and Death’s scythe is particularly impressive, with its huge menacing blade and shaft made from a large creature’s spinal cord. Besides looking cool, the scythe is also the key to all the doors in Hell, so it makes sense that Dante carries it with him and, of course, it dishes out serious damage in combat. Combat is what this game is all about and Visceral Games delivers it beautifully. As expected, swirling combos and varied power attacks from the scythe form the basic arsenal for Dante, with sufficient blood and gore for the blood-thirstiest player to bathe in. Dante’s holy cross, though, is quite possibly the most powerful attack in the game and with three power upgrades there really isn’t much that can stand in the way of its onslaught. It’s a bit too powerful, though, a

Holy Powers Holy Blast - Unleash two waves of divine energy Holy Barrage - Three part attack of divine energy Holy Devastation - A punishing succession of divine energy Divine Force - Concentrated blast of holy energy Vindication - A blast that send enemies flying Sacred Judgement - Violently pulls enemies towards Dante Divine Tempest - Launch enemies into the air Sacred Quake - A ground smash that stuns nearby enemies Holy Protection - Reduced damage taken from enemies Divine Armour - Blinds enemies and provides protection Sacred Justice - Stuns enemies in the air Martyrdom - Sacrifice health and mana to damage enemies

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gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


fact which is confirmed later, when a specific monster is introduced whose special ability makes other creatures immune to the attack. Hacking your way through them without the cross makes it a sorely missed option. Blocking and counter-attacks make for interesting combat, adding a bit of flare. Additionally, the player’s choice of upgradeable skills allows for a variety of combo attacks, depending on personal style. I’ve never really been a fan of button prompting, quick time victory scenes against bosses, but here they’re impressive and gloriously brutal too. Magic abilities are picked up along the way and introduce powerful alternative attacks that can pull the player out of a tough spot or give them some extra flare while doing the work of the good side.

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

The player also gets to choose whether Dante absolves or punishes souls encountered along his descent through the circles of Hell. These souls are what remain of famous characters from history, and they cry out for forgiveness for their sins. The player can either free them from Hell through absolution, or damn them forever. Likewise demons can be plucked from battle by Dante’s scythe and absolved or punished, earning Dante souls and adding to his Heavenly or Hellish skill levels. Skills can be chosen or upgraded in exchange for souls earned from vanquishing foes. The player can choose from both Unholy and Holy powers. Relics are scattered all over Hell and can be found if the player is willing to explore a little here and there. Each give a unique benefit to Dante, with some interesting combinations available… however

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developers got it so right [at least, we think they did – ed]. The experience is disturbingly engrossing and outright shocking in some places. Swinging from ropes made from entrails, sliding down corpse ladders, crossing rivers of boiling blood, gazing at fiery backdrops and the constant screaming immerse the player in the horror of the circles of Hell. Yes, there are worse things too. The early circles of lust, gluttony, greed and anger have themed monsters, bosses and traps relative to the types of sins committed by the souls who reside there. Unfortunately later levels don’t show the same amount of creativity and the circle of fraud, for example, is particularly disappointing. It’s almost as though the developers ran out of time or ideas but, having said that, the majority of the game is beautifully ugly. On that note parents should be aware that the content is of a mature nature and not suitable for children [no kidding? – ed] The game is loads of fun to play and you can’t help Death’s Grasp - Grab an enemy with Dante’s scythe Repayment - Counter attack after blocking Retribution - Return a projectile after blocking Diabolic Ascension - Launch enemies into the air Impaler - A strike that hits enemies multiple times Diabolic Rupture - Air combo with a finishing move Death’s Pillar - Knocks enemies to ground and breaks blocks Soul Stabber - High frequency attack combo Vile Flurry - Quick attack combo Vile Wind - Dash forwards with a sweeping attack Vile Tornado - Spinning scythe ground attack Vile Cyclone - Swirling air attack Soul Crusher - Spear attack from air to ground targets Diabolic Hammer - Power combo attack Abominable Slam - Critical attack from air to ground Diabolic Slash - Sweeping attack from the air Vile Hurricane - Send enemies flying with a critical attack Diabolic Guillotine - Flurry of critical attacks with a huge finish

the player may not actually notice their benefits in game. The puzzles are clever, not impossibly difficult and shouldn’t stump anyone for too long, with more than enough clues pointing the player towards the solution. I would’ve liked a single seriously difficult puzzle thrown in, though, just to stop players in their tracks for a while and force them to think really hard. Run and jump sequences are also scattered through the game with a couple of particularly tricky ones that should challenge the pros out there, for a while at least. On the subject of difficulty, there is no excuse for anyone to play this game on easy (seriously, you will be banished to Hell for being puny). If you have already then shame on you. What should strike the player the most about the game is the theme of Hell itself and in many ways the

Unholy Powers

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gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

AT A GLANCE: Dante’s Inferno is fast paced, immersive, gratuitously violent and absolutely worthy of its mature rating. Developer: Visceral Games Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

getting caught up in the story but the momentum is lost by the end of the game. The beginning and middle had me captivated and wowed by the environment, monsters, puzzle s and surprises but, by the end, I found myself plodding through repetitious elements. The circle of fraud was practically a corridor of ridiculous challenges, with little imagination applied. Defeating all foes with magic only for example or only using light attacks from Dante’s scythe was bad enough, but I fail to understand how staying airborne for 8 seconds had anything to do with the fraud theme. I think the developers lost the plot here. Thankfully it only lasts for a while. There are no alternate endings which is a pity because the player is given the choice to absolve or punish souls along the way and, even though the writers tie in the ending to either path chosen, (I’m not going to spoil it for anyone), I personally would have liked to have seen a definite split in end story. Finally, yes, it is very similar to God of War in look, feel and many other ways but don’t get caught up in comparing every detail or you’ll miss the point entirely. Instead of trying to put down one game in favour of the other, we should be enjoying each quality alternative game within the genre. Remember, healthy competition is always a good thing and it keeps developers on their toes. Dante’s Inferno is definitely one for the collection and you can bet your soul it’s not the last we’ve heard from Visceral Games on this subject. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

80 71


Heavy Rain

A True Event Heavy Rain marks a new movement in entertainment

W

hen was the last time you did something for the first time? This is a question a good friend asks me regularly. It’s one of those questions that makes you think. We are all resistant to change, and it shows. Take a look at the video game industry… year after year, games that are similar to other games get churned out. Sure, we complain about clones, but secretly, somewhere deep inside, the familiarity is comforting, as we are secretly happy with the repetition. It’s a gaming comfort zone. When a truly original title does appear, we don’t always know what to make of it. We are challenged on different levels, and skills that we have honed playing all those clones may no longer apply. But change is inevitable, and progress is necessary. Part of that progress is the amalgamation of the ways in which we are entertained. Slowly but surely the lines between different forms of entertainment are blurred. And that’s when we get games like Heavy Rain. But calling Heavy Rain a game isn’t necessarily the most accurate description of this unique title. It’s more

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by Walt Pretorius

of an interactive movie, with the player able to alter the plot through their decisions and actions. The idea is hardly new – people have been after this ideal for a long time. Audience participation as a filter for the plot-line has been something that the film industry has toyed with over the years, and one that the video game industry implemented as part of the greater whole for their titles. But Heavy Rain doesn’t really fall into either category. It’s neither a film nor, strictly speaking, a game. It is an interactive entertainment experience unlike any other and, as such, is the most original title we’ve seen created for the PlayStation 3 (or any other platform, for that matter) in years. Heavy Rain tells the story of four people who are drawn (in various ways) into an investigation to find an active and dangerous serial killer. Called the Origami Killer, the perpetrator kidnaps young boys… their drowned bodies are found several days later, dumped on abandoned lots. And he only strikes in the Autumn, when the rainfall is at its heaviest. Ethan Mars is a father desperate to find his missing son. Scott Shelby is a private investigator

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

searching for clues and leads that may have been overlooked by the police. Norman Jayden is an FBI agent who fights against addiction and hostile colleagues to see justice done. And Madison Paige is a photographer who stumbles across the case and soon finds herself in over her head. The player gets to control each of these characters through the course of the game, although ‘control’ isn’t really the right word. The player makes them walk around and makes decisions for them, sure, but it’s almost as though the player is more of a ‘voice of conscience’ than an all-powerful world shaper. The reason for this is simple; Heavy Rain has a story to tell, and the story will be told regardless of how well (or how poorly) the player performs prescribed tasks. Even if a character were to die (which they can do) the story will carry on regardless, with a branching plotline taking on subtle changes as a result. There is no real way to ‘win’ or ‘fail’ in this title, The player is swept along by the plot, towards one of numerous endings. And those endings can be the result of the most subtle differences in player decisions, or the most

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

sweeping. The player might not notice changes in the bulk of the story with several play-throughs, but the endings will likely be different, if they made alternate choices for the characters. While the game is very slow to gather pace (we’re talking a few slow hours of play at the beginning) slogging through the initial few chapters is well worth it. When the plot starts grabbing the player, it does so in a big way, and Heavy Rain becomes emotionally charged, edge-of-theseat stuff. It’s a gripping thriller that is well crafted and believable (for the most part, at least) that fills the player with a wonderful sense of accomplishment. But enough about the story – we don’t want to run the risk of spoilers! Two things that are highlighted most often when people talk about Heavy Rain are the control scheme and the graphics. Let’s begin with the former, because it is the hottest topic. The control scheme is nothing if not unique and, in some instances (particularly at first) it feels pretty clunky. But once you get the hang of it, it really is quite simple. The control scheme is a combination of event activation sites

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and a system very similar to the quick time events we see in many other games. However, unlike normal quick time events, not getting them right might affect the story, but it won’t end the game. Sure, for the most part you can’t go back and redo things (like you would have to in a quick time boss battle, for instance). In the example of a fight, accurate control inputs determine how well you fight, but the end result of the fight will likely be the same whether the player got all the prompts right or not. The bad guy might be knocked out, or he might run away, but the story will progress regardless (although there might be changes in the ending, as an example.) The event activation controls show the player where things can, or must, be done, and sometimes lead to these quick-timestyle sequences. Some of the sequences will require accurate prompted inputs, others will require repeated button presses, or holding down multiple buttons, or even specific motions with the right analogue stick, at varied speeds. The title even uses the motion capabilities of the Sixaxis controller. It’s a great way to control the game, without becoming invasive and detracting from the story.

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Still, the need to hold down R2 to make the character walk is one of the clunkier examples of the control scheme. It’s not perfect, but it does work well. The same can be said for the graphics. Facial animations are excellent, with a high level of detail put into them. The lip-synching can get a bit poor at times, but, for the most part, the character’s faces are wonderfully detailed and expressive. The environments are also great, highly detailed and believable spaces for the characters to exist in. The animations on faces and bodies are very high grade, based on extensive motion capturing, even down to facial level. But the graphics aren’t perfect, and those things that aren’t quite right stand out like sore thumbs because of the excellence of the other elements. The characters hands, for example, aren’t great, and some of the cloth in the game is poorly handled. They’re not major problems, but they can be a little disappointing at times. Another part of the

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

AT A GLANCE: Despite some controversy and a few hiccups, Heavy Rain is a superb work of adult entertainment. Developer: Quantic Dream Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor Games

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

presentation that is mostly excellent but has a little niggle or two is the sound. The music score is sweeping and emotional, and the sound effects are all very effective. The problem arises in the dialogue. The voice acting is superb, don’t get me wrong, and the dialogue is mostly very natural and well delivered. But there are a line or two of dialogue that feel a little off. That can be said for the character’s accents too… while the characters are meant to be American, the actors who played the parts certainly weren’t. Their accents slip occasionally, despite their good performances. The few problems I mentioned above aren’t deal breakers, though. Heavy Rain offers one of the most compelling game experiences around, and is well worth the effort. In fact, it’s more than that… it is a work that marks a future trend in entertainment, and should not be missed, particularly if you’re a fan of thrillers and the like. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

90 75


Phantasy Star Ø

Pocket Hunter One for the fans...

by Brian Murdoch

T

he Phantasy Star series has been going on since the early ‘90s, gathering lots of fans. Phantasy Star Ø, for the DS, is the latest game in the franchise. It’s the version that lets the player make Phantasy Star Online portable, while still being able to play Wifi local and online. The first question that some might ask is if the DS version is better than, or even as good as, Phantasy Star Online? Most of the people that have played both continue to play the Online version and the DS version becomes an extra game to play when out and about. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of the Phantasy Star series and have only played a little of the online version and watched a bit of the anime on which it is based. This seems to be a prerequisite before getting into Phantasy Star Ø, though, as I found a lot of things in the game that the player is supposed to know beforehand. The basics of combat and tasks are explained, but health, money and the elements that make up the Phantasy Star world are treated as if the player is a fan. It’s not impossible to play but it is a little frustrating when something is mentioned that is unknown to the newbies and they have to go to look it up afterwards in an anime dictionary. Newbies will also find this game to be just like any other MMO. Grinding for levels and items is a standard in the game and most times this is what will hold the player back from progressing through the story. Taking on a quest for the first time more often than not results in a boss that is too strong. Continued attempts are required to level-up and defeat the boss. The Phantasy Star Ø story puts the player on Earth 200 years after the “Great Blank”,a war that destroyed most of civilisation. The humans that survived have been working hard to exist in peace and rebuild most of the life they use to have, congregating in huge cities. Hunters are sent out to fight a variety of monsters in the outskirts, in order to keep the cities safe.

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The player will choose which of the three races they will be in the beginning of the game. There are three convenient save game slots, allowing the player to try out one of each and play them through pretty much simultaneously. Gender, character type, class and other combinations will need to be selected for each character. Players are accepted into a guild in the beginning of the game and take guided quests to kick things off. Although the game claims to have around 350 unique weapons, most of the time the choice of equipment is based on what hits harder and what can be equipped. The game also features a bit of a role playing element. There are always options on how to answer the questions posed to the player but most of the answers come down to the same conclusion, with a different reaction from the character asking the question. As a hunter, the player is charged with destroying the monsters around the town to complete the given quests. I was impressed with the controls for the real-time combat gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

system. There are six control options, but combo attacks are not as easy as mashing the button three times in a row. The player needs to carefully time button inputs to perform combination attacks. If the player misses the timing, the character just performs a single attack followed by a pause and then another single attack. Heavy attacks also require careful timing to execute correctly. At times it’s a bit mundane fighting wave after wave of monsters, just to progress to the next part of the quest. The most fun to be had with this title is playing it with friends. In fact, it’s the one element that makes it worthwhile. Online games will require friend codes and players will need to be found if they are not friends already. The chat facility benefits from the DS’ stylus, which allows the player to send graphic messages as well. This is a game undoubtedly made for fans of the series. Newcomers will have to give it a little time and patience. g

A DS game in the spirit of Phantasy Star Online, intended mostly for fans of that game, or of the anime on which it is based. Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

0+ gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

DS Platforms

AT A GLANCE:

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

62 77


Star Trek Online

Go Boldly Without splitting infinitives

by Dion Scotten

T

he Star Trek universe comes to life in this latest persistent universe created by Cryptic Studios. Players choose to roam the galaxy as either the captain of a Federation starship or the Warlord of a Klingon battleship and hold their destinies in their own hands as they explore the unknown. All the space sectors from classic Star Trek fiction are present in the game but, more importantly, sectors of unknown space are also available for exploration. This is the main objective of a Federation commander after all in that he (or she) must boldly go where no one has gone before [and possible take a few grammar lessons, too – ed]. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s still a catchy concept and many players out there won’t be able to resist the opportunity. There are two main aspects to the game; space travel and ground exploration. Both have unique combat and objective elements to them. Mission viewpoints are adjustable with the mouse wheel, from a close up third person view to a tactical overview. Space is beautifully rendered and the colours and details make this part of the game very pretty. This, for me, is always important in space games… if the surroundings are boring then the player’s attention is normally lost. Space combat is slow in the beginning but it’s mainly because of the puny ship and weapons you start off with. As you increase in level and ability the battles become strategic and you need to keep your wits about you if you want to survive. Each ship has strengths and weaknesses and the player must work out his own plan of attack. There’s no need for accuracy as the weapons

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are self aiming and will always hit their target (this is a bit disappointing for me because it tends to move away from player skill to point and click). Your ship can be upgraded, of course, and everything from phaser cannons, photon torpedoes, shield arrays, impulse engines and more can swapped out or improved on. In fact entirely new starships can be purchased and upgraded too, but only one can be used at a time. Ground combat happens mainly in away missions, when the player and his away team are beamed down to a planet or onto another ship. Federation officers can be added to the away team before the mission starts, depending on their skills, the objectives of the mission or style of play. Science officers provide medical assistance to injured team members, engineering officers beam mines in front of the team to slow charging enemies and tactical officers gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

AT A GLANCE: Become a Starship Commander and explore space in search new mysteries, technologies and species in the Star Trek universe. Developer: Cryptic Studios Publisher: Atari Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

provide martial support in combat, from hand to hand experts to heavy weapons. Each officer can be equipped with body armour, weapons and accessories and may be upgraded with additional skills depending on the level reached and resource points available. New skills for the main character fall into two groups as he rises in level and the player can add to his skills for ground combat or assign skills relating to starship control and combat. The overall style and look of your ship can be customised along with the uniforms worn by the team by visiting tailors and ship designers on various space stations. Once set up it’s all about venturing into the final frontier, discovering new life and uncovering the mysteries of the universe. There are also new alien threats to be wiped out or alliances to be made… it all depends on the player’s choices. The equipment variety is a bit complex and you will spend a bit of time getting used to which weapon is better to use, and personal shields, weapons, body armour come in a variety of forms. New content in the form of ships, accessories, sectors of space and missions are promised by the developers and will be added into the existing game through patches, for no extra cost. Missions can be completed on your own or with other players and if you arrive in an area where other players are busy with the same objective, you will automatically be grouped together and will all achieve the objective on completion. Star Trek online is fun to play and hard core Trekkies should lose countless hours of their lives in this universe. I don’t think this game will appeal too strongly to non-Star Trek fans though, but if space exploration is your thing then you should give it a try… but be aware the game asks a monthly subscription fee to play. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

79 79


MAG

Lots of Action

Not much personality... by Walt Pretorius

O

ne thing that sets a great game apart from others is its character. That character can come in many forms too, from a strong story line through to interesting wisecracks and a distinctive environment. All great games have some kind of character, even if just in tiny amounts. And that’s one of the things that keeps MAG from being a great game… it has almost none. The idea behind the game is great. First of all, it’s multiplayer only, requiring the player to connect to online servers to play. That’s essentially fine for us here in South Africa, as we have full PSN support (and it’s a PS3 exclusive.) Connecting to the internet and finding a game isn’t too much of a problem. The problem is why do it? The game allows players to take part in massive conflicts (eventually as big as 128 a side) which is all fine and well, but there really isn’t anything driving any kind of story or background for the game. Sure, there are three factions to choose from, but their reason for fighting – even their ideologies – are a bit unclear. Even the character models look pretty much identical… In truth, MAG is about little more than racking up a killscore. The player earns experience, which unlocks new guns and the like, but this is the only real goal in the game. It’s impressive to see in action. The game works, and it works pretty smoothly at that. Seeing 256 guys running around trying to get the most kills is an awesome sight. But its also a uninspiring sight and, thanks to the size of the game, this is largely what happens. The teams just get too big. Trying to get twenty people who know each other to do something in a co-ordinated way is tough enough… expecting 128 strangers to move towards a unified goal is like herding cats. And so MAG almost collapses under its own potential… It feels less like a war and more like an ‘every man for himself’ kind of deal, although the players can’t kill those on their own team. It becomes a faceless brawl that’s all about the guns and the headshots. In other

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words, it gets pretty old rather quickly. In time, if the community stays with the game, there may well be more co-ordinated efforts. But, as long as people play the numbers and don’t inject any sense of imagination into the title, it will lack personality. Strangely, this isn’t an awful environment for players to cavort in. The sheer number of combatants that each game could potentially feature means that survival doesn’t entirely rely on skill… luck comes into play when there are this many potential targets running around. This also means that, combined with the lack of co-ordinated efforts currently seen on servers, the game is a chaotic brawl. Sure, war can be chaos, but there are still orders and objectives.

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

great fun to play, of course, but somehow there just don’t seem to be the right kind of goals to keep the average gamer interested, and rewards for teamwork aren’t strong enough. It’s a solid title… but it could have been so much more. g

AT A GLANCE: MAG is a great idea, but it falters under its own weight. Developer: Zipper Interactive Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor Games

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

Higher ranking players might get command roles but, once again, who is to say that a bunch of strangers are going to follow your lead, no matter how competent you are. MAG is, sadly, another multiplayer shooter with nothing to set it apart. That’s the whole lack of character thing. The graphics look good, but they’re generic. The sound is good, but, once again, is generic. The guns are great, but they’re hardly revolutionary. There is very little to keep MAG from being ‘just another action shooter.’ The idea is great, but a little effort put into the background – even the definition of goals – would have gone a very long way towards making this a better game. As it stands, it’s nothing but a brawl with guns. It can be

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

72 81


Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll

Monkeying Around

A game with balls... by Brian Murdoch

T

his is the next title in the Super Monkey Ball franchise, with SEGA having already released Banana Blitz. In Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll the same basic idea applies… but this time with balance board support. Does Step and Roll take Super Monkey Ball to the next level, or is it the next gesture-based game that does more to irritate than immerse? In the game the player chooses between four different monkeys that get put into a big ball. The player then has to roll around to dodge obstacles and stay on the path, picking up bananas for extra point on their way to the goal. The main game should be called single player because

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it is only entertaining to laugh at the person playing for the first 5 minutes. After that people tend to wander off and find something else to do while waiting for their turn. With the choice of two types of control input, the developers made an unsuccessful attempt to balance the game’s difficulty. When picking the balance board most obstacles and bumps are removed, in an effort to make the traditionally more challenging balance board easier to use. There is even a balance icon in the bottom right that shows how the player’s weight is distributed. Switching to the Wii remote brings back the obstacles. It’s still pretty easy, though, because of the greater degree of control the player has with this scheme. The only drawback is that it’s even less fun to watch someone else balance a Wii remote on the edge of their fingers. It other games that allow a choice between the balance board and Wii remote as control options, the balance board presents a more difficult choice. This simply isn’t the case here. Don’t get me wrong; this game is still a great challenge, but I was expecting more of a difference between the two control options. The controls are not the greatest, but it’s unclear whether this is because of bad design or to add more challenge to the title. The game becomes increasingly tiresome when the monkey is always falling off of the path. The uncontrollable camera is very taxing and, combined gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

AT A GLANCE: Primarily a balance board game, this title also has a bunch on mini-games that reward other skill sets too. Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

with delayed controls, even standing still in the game is a skill. In the previous title the camera was controlled with the nunchuk. This would have been a more-than-welcome addition to Step and Roll. There was a lot of effort put in the design of the stages and very clever mechanics are included in most of them. Music and sound effects have been well implemented, too, adding to the overall feel of the title nicely. There are 21 mini games that should be a great distraction from the main game but are ultimately a bit confusing. There are only a few of them that I would go back to and, in general, I did not understand why they were so far removed from the theme of the game. In the mini games up to 4 players can play at once. If there aren’t other players around, the AI is more than capable of putting the player through their paces. In fact, the AI is a little too good at times. This leads to a good question: why did the developers not implement a similar idea in the main game, instead of expecting players to take turns? Althoug many of the mini-games are not quite original, they’re fun to play, adding value to the title. Don’t let the cartoonish flare convince you that this title is for the children 3 and up… the intense, challenging nature of the title is there to even make a monkey out of the most talented players. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

70 83


Bleach:The 3rd Phantom

Zanpakuto! Bustin’ ghosts in a different way

by Brian Murdoch

B

leach: The 3rd Phantom is the third instalment the DS series, but the forth Bleach title overall. Fans of the anime series will certainly appreciate this title… it’s undoubtedly the best of the bunch. The Bleach story is all about spirits of the dead. Some people have left their spirits behind after dying, and it is the job of the Spirit Reapers to guide souls to the afterlife, or destroy evil souls (called hollows) and send them to their rightful place. Hollows do not pose a danger to the living but rather consume and destroy innocent spirits. The Soul Reapers’ job is like that of the “grim reaper” only there is a lot more of them. Ichigo Kurosaki, the star of the anime show, accidentally became a Soul Reaper when using his great amount of spirit power to help defend his sisters from being destroyed by a hollow… and an injured soul reaper present needed help. This is where the anime series starts and the movies follow soon after. The 3rd Phantom starts before this point and jumps to just after it, and continues the saga. Most fans of the anime will love the title based on the fact that

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they will be told more of the Bleach story, particularly before Ichigo became a Soul Reaper. This is a turn based strategy game where the player controls Soul Reapers in order to fight against the growing hollow threat. New Soul Reaper abilities are revealed

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


gamecca • review

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010

AT A GLANCE: A surprising deep game, Bleach: The 3rd Phantom is a must-have title for fans of the anime series. Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA Distributor: Nu Metro

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

DS Platforms

to the player as the story progresses, and extra character slots are also unlocked. Only after finishing the title does Bleach Tower mode become unlocked, in which the squad is able to continue levelling and the player can unlock more special characters. The game draws the story out and, although there is no Japanese dialogue, the player is still required to read everything that is said in the game. It shouldn’t bother anime-lovers too much, but may prove irksome to others. Not taking advantage of the specific save opportunities may add to any frustration this results in. If one of the members in the party dies, then all the reading that was covered will be required again, not to mention that unsaved fights will have to be fought again. It does get a bit much, so to save the player from committing Zanpakuto suicide, a press of the X button during the conversations will skip sections. One thing that the game must be praised for is the fact that the characters are the same as the anime, even down to the bankai and their attack motions. Even the voice excerpts used in the game are from the original characters. To make things better, all the characters from the first 100 episodes are available to be unlocked and added to the player’s squad. Despite the fact that the graphics are good, the same cut scene stills are used repeatedly and, sadly, they get a bit tired before long. With over 30 hours of game play, the story is long and engrossing. However, most of this time is taken up by reading, and most players will only take on the story mode in order to unlock new characters and items. Bleach: The 3rd Phantom is a must-have for any fan of the anime… and who knows, it might even get the series new viewers. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

76 85


The Sims 3: High-End Loft Stuff

Swanky!

More stuff to cram into your virtual home by Walt Pretorius these little computer people began stealing the hearts of players around the globe. As the first Stuff Pack for Sims 3, High-End Loft Stuff is crammed with just that – things to fill up the Sims’ lives with. The pack includes items for every aspect of Sim living, and for every room in the house. Transforming the house into a stylish, loft-apartment style abode is easy with items like the Slimline Sofa by Svelte Seating, or the Glo-Li-La Coffee Table. The DuoDreamer bed will transform any bedroom, and the Pythagoras Corner Bathtub and Lesink Omni make perfect compliments to the bathroom needs of a truly classy Sim. The list of new items is extensive, including three 10th anniversary gifts for players who register the Pack online. This is a great addition to the Sims 3 franchise, but one must remember that, being a Stuff Pack, it doesn’t make any major changes to the game dynamic (like World Adventures did). Still, it’s great to have a choice of new Sim goodies to decorate with… variety is, after all, the spice of Sim life. g

AT A GLANCE: Cool new items for Sim homes make this pack a good idea, but don’t expect any game play changes. Developer: Electronic Arts Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ 86

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

W

ith the Sims 3 phenomenon more or less in full swing, the first Stuff Pack for that title has been released. The Sims 3 High-End Loft Stuff also marks the tenth anniversary of the Sims franchise. It’s hard to imagine that ten years have already passed since

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

75

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


Anno 1404:Venice

Underhanded... The Anno franchise gets nasty by Walt Pretorius

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

chilled in terms of rushing around, in fact. But fans of the original game will certainly want to get hold of this new expansion, which is filled with subtle intrigue and more stuff to do. It’s really worth the effort.. g

AT A GLANCE: Underhanded moves and shadowy politics do a lot to enrich the Anno experience with this expansion. Developer: Related Designs Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

6+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

W

hile one sometimes expects cosmetic changes when a game expansion is released, occasionally the things that bubble under the surface are far more intriguing… and beneficial. Take the expansion for Ubisoft’s pedantic colonisation and management title, Anno 1404. Simple subtitled Venice, this expansion brings a lot more to the table. Aside from a new Venetian setting and feel to certain buildings, the game also has a few new dynamics, just to keep things interesting. Two new ship types have been included to the mix, as well as around 300 new quests and two new quest types; trading races and ship boarding. New volcanic islands have also been added, just to keep the player on their toes. Most impressive, though is the addition of town councils and espionage. The game has become much more political – almost Machiavellian – in terms of taking other players towns over by dominating town councils and establishing secret cabinets to oversee infiltration and sabotage. Naturally, online multiplayer is necessary to truly enjoy these activities. As a multiplayer game, Anno 1404: Venice isn’t particularly fast paced… the whole game is quite

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

79 87


Far Cry 2

In the Bush Africa isn’t known for mercy…

by Walt Pretorius

I

AT A GLANCE: A true gaming triumph, Far Cry 2 is a very welcome addition to the budget shelves, and is still brilliant two years on. Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ 88

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

am not sure whether the it’s the fact that its set in Africa (that is, home) or whether I can shoot guys who speak three languages I hear on the streets every days (and can speak two of). Perhaps it’s the awesomely long single player campaign, weighing in at around 80 hours on central story missions alone, or the overall ambiance (with zebras calling in the distance and acacia trees dotting the landscape) or the upgradeable weapons in a number of flavours. Whatever it may be, 2008’s Far Cry 2 will always be one of my absolute favourite games. I have always believed that movies like Blood Diamond, Invictus and District 9 mean more to people who live in Africa… why shouldn’t a game set there be the same? The excellence that is Far Cry 2 is hitting budget shelves shortly, bringing the graphical beauty and tons of action that made it so exciting with its original release back to with it. This is a first person shooter that should not be missed. Although it does have a few problems with repetitive game play at times, Far Cry 2 does a brilliant job of bringing the realities of African politics and war (often synonymous) to a video game platform, and is an exceptional title, even two years later. g

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

88

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


But shouting doesn’t help… by Walt Pretorius

T

gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

– most notable are the slightly bland graphics. Still, the game is well worth the effort, and at the budget price, it is almost irresistible. g

AT A GLANCE: With a simple tactical system and voice command based controls, EndWar is a rather unique RTS title. Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

om Clancy’s name has become more renowned for his association with high quality games than his books – ok, maybe not, but it’s a close call. When his name gets added to the title of a video game, players know that they’re in for a high degree of tactical excellence… even in a budget title. EndWar saw the light of day around two years ago, and has recently returned to shelves as a budget title, allowing players to once again experience the thrill of Clancy’s vision of World War 3. Although it may seem to be just another RTS, EndWar makes unique use of voice commands to help the player issue orders on the battlefield. It can be a tricky endeavour, though, with some commands not always recognised by the software. Still, it’s a great idea, and it elevates the title above the run-of-the-mill strategy game. The game works on a simple principle similar to rockpaper-scissors, with different unit types trumping other unit types in a simplistic but effective strategic mix. There is no base building or resource management in the title – rather, the player needs to look after units, who earn perpetual experience, or order more with requisition points earned during missions. EndWar is lots of fun, but it does have one or two niggles

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

70 89

Tom Clancy’s EndWar

Barking Orders


A great game, even now…

W

orld in Conflict originally released in 2007, but its return as a budget title is as welcome now as the game was when it originally released. That’s one of the beauties of almost all budget games these days – they’re excellent value for money and, thanks to the longevity of the current technology generation, they’re don’t feel as dated as many people may expect. World in Conflict dumps the player into a frantic struggle as the USSR invades the USA. With a fairly extensive single player campaign, the game will have the player globe-trotting between different conflict hot-spots. It’s a well presented and solid experience, supported by excellent partner AI. But the true beauty of World in Conflict is in the multiplayer arena. Using a team based system, the game

by Walt Pretorius has players dividing responsibilities through a system of specialisations. Someone specialising in heavy armour, for example, may have an advantage on the ground, but without a team-mate providing anti-air support, they’re going to run into trouble. It does require a lot of teamwork and co-operation, though, and the teams that work together the best are going to be triumphant (as they should be.) World in Conflict is visually excellent, with tons of special effects adding to the overall image of the game. With hardware advances in the last few years, anyone with a fairly new PC will be able to wallow in this graphical splendour. But if you need to tone down the graphics a bit, don’t worry – the game still looks great with medium detail settings. World in Conflict does sometimes tend to be a little easy, and veterans will want to ramp the difficulty level up for a decent challenge. But, with it’s different approach to the RTS genre, it’s well worth playing, even almost three years on. And, of course, the expansion is included. g

AT A GLANCE: Even though it’s almost three years old, World in Conflict: Complete Edition doesn’t feel dated Developer: Massive Entertainment Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

0+ 90

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

World in Conflict: Complete Edition

Budget Battles

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

80

gamecca review • issue 9 • March 2010


Tom Clancy’s HAWX

Insane Action

Aerial acrobatics amidst a hail of bullets by Walt Pretorius legitimate governments against overly powerful private military corporations. As a mercenary pilot, the player will be able to take to the skies in numerous of the world’s best loved fighter planes, and will be able to unlock weapons upgrades with successfully completed missions. HAWX is an exciting action game, with visuals based on real world planes and satellite imagery of real world locations. The action is pulse pounding, either high in the sky or skimming the surface of the earth. Graphically beautiful and utterly enthralling, this budget title is perfect for those who like their action fast paced and almost free of the constraints of gravity. g

AT A GLANCE: Fast paced aerial action set above real-world locations, in real world planes. Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

13+ gamecca preview • issue 9 • March 2010

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

T

om Clancy’s name is appearing twice on the budget shelves this month. The second time is for HAWX, a thrilling aerial combat game that first appeared in 2008. When the hype was building for HAWX, it was billed as an authentic flight simulator. The truth, though, is that the game is more of an arcade flight simulator, with a few nods made to the idea of authenticity. This is a game about fast planes and massive aerial stunts, rather than the pedantic precision required by proper flight simulations. Additionally, there are some moves that the player call pull off in HAWX that would likely leave a real plane’s wings and fuselage going in two different directions. This game isn’t really about realism, though – it’s about shooting down enemies in a near future war that pits

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

75 91


Top Screen: Non-interactive screen that extends viewing area... often used to display information during a game.

Stereo Speakers DS Cartridge Port: DS Games interface is located at the rear of the unit. Microphone: Used by certain games, which have voice command input.

W

ith so many games and gaming platforms out there, it’s hardly a stretch of the imagination to think that people can be intimidated by all the choices available. Should they buy a console, or a PC? And which console, for that matter? Would they prefer a hand-held gaming device? The answers aren’t always clear, and often sales staff don’t necessarily have all the information they need to properly assist someone buying a game... unless they go to a specialist retailer, of course. Because we love gaming, and the gaming industry, we here at Gamecca want to see it grow. We want it to be a healthy, happy place for people to spend their free time. We want responsible consumers to help the industry blossom here in South Africa. That’s why we bring you the Beginners Guide to Good Gaming every month. It’s out version of a public service announcement... g

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Shoulder Button (L / R): Left and right shoulder buttons used for additional in-game functions. Certain games do not use the facility. D-Pad: Used for certain game functions and menu navigation. Sometimes used for character movement. Touch Sensitive Screen: Used in conjunction with the stylus for game control functions. Some games do not make use of the facility. gamecca BGGG • issue 9 • March 2010


Gaming Anatomy 101: The DS

Top Cover: Houses top screen. Closes to protect the unit.

Stylus: Input device used with touch sensitive lower screen.

Function Buttons: Four buttons used four game functions not covered by the touch sensitive screen.

Start / Select: Buttons used mainly for menu control and certain in-game functions, like pausing.

GameBoy Cartridge Port: Interface port for Nintendo GameBoy Advance game cartridges.

Headphone Jack: Port for DS headphones.

Volume Control Slider gamecca BGGG â&#x20AC;˘ issue 9 â&#x20AC;˘ March 2010

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Genre Check: Survival Horror

P

laying a game can be far more engaging than watching a movie. So playing a horror game is generally far scarier than watching a horror film. If you’re one of those people that enjoy a good scare, Survival Horror games are just the thing you need. This fairly broad genre has many titles that represent it. One thing that they all have in common is that the player will have to fight to survive... the odds are generally stacked against them, ammo and weapons are scarce, and there are enemies a-plenty. Survival Horror games tend to play upon various elements that put players on edge, like creepy settings and emotional music scores. They tend to rely on frights, but often the horror aspect of the game comes by implication of the situation, rather than by a more direct route. The frights are there to get the pulse racing, little more. Survival Horror games are also often possessed of a strong story line, with many twists and turns helping create a sense of uneasiness. The Survival Horror genre is generally one intended for adults... kids playing these games may well have nightmares and find the games to be very disturbing. That’s what a high engagement level gets you. g

Aliens VS Predator

Silent Hill: Homecoming

Bioshock 2

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gamecca BGGG • issue 9 • March 2010


Keeping an Eye... T

here is a constant pall that hangs over the video gaming industry. In fact, every entertainment enterprise had fallen victim to this idea in the past, and some still do. The question that arises, bringing this bugbear with it, revolves around the effects that video gaming has on youngsters. This is particularly the case when it comes to violent video games. The issue of the effect of violent video games on impressionable minds is a serious one, with many cases of youth violence being blamed on games. Yet there is no empirical evidence that either proves or disproves the theory. The jury is still out, as it were. Because we live in a society that allows for freedom of choice, an outright banning of certain video games raises questions about individual rights. After all, many gamers - the majority, in fact - are adults who should be able to decide on their chosen form of entertainment and who (in theory, at least) are able to separate fantasy from reality. But children may not have the facility to do so, and are not always responsible enough to make the choices required when purchasing a game. While there are rating systems out there that help the situation, not all retailers are conscious enough of their gamecca BGGG • issue 9 • March 2010

importance. So the onus of responsibility must lie with the parents. If you are the parent of a game-playing youngster, you need to be aware of what the child is playing. Using the ratings given by various organisations as a guide, parents should monitor their children’s playing habits, and watch to see if there are any changes in behaviour while their children are playing the games in question. It’s not a difficult task. Rather than stopping kids from playing games outright (because they will simply go and play the games elsewhere) parents should take a strong interest in their child’s gaming habits. They should be frank and honest with their children, explaining exactly why certain games may be inappropriate. They should not shrug it off, or blame-shift when something goes wrong. There is another benefit from monitoring gaming activity the possibility that games actually become a family activity, adding valuable and enjoyable bonding time in an age when the dissolution of the family unit is a serious concern. There should be no valid excuse for not engaging in these activities - they’re your children and, ultimately, your responsibility. Our best advice - be a responsible adult... play with your kids! g

95


ASUS Gaming Series: G73JH

Power... ...plain and simple

by Walt Pretorius

I

am one of those people that has been made jaded by hype. How many times have we been told that something would be the best thing since sliced bread, only to find ourselves at the supermarket afterwards, marvelling at the loaves of Albany Superior? Ok, well maybe not that extreme, but when you’ve been doing this for a while, you tend to take promises made with a rather large pinch of salt. And the one thing I have been sure of - no, actually, I have known - is that laptops and gaming don’t go well together. So when the friendly guys at Asus told me that I would be blown away by the gaming performance of the Asus G73JH notebook, I have visions of bakeries and breadslicing machines dancing in my head. I could not have been more wrong... The first impression that this notebook gives is impressive, because it is - by laptop standards - huge. It’s could even be called a portable desktop, thanks to it’s large size and heavy construction. But part of that is a

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feeling of sturdiness that many other notebooks just don’t have. This device is obviously built with a primary goal in mind: portable gaming power. And power it has in spades. Starting at the core, it packs an Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6GHz Quad processor, supported by an unprecedented 8GB of DDR3 1066MHz RAM. That, just in terms of basic function, makes it a punchy performer. Storage is provided by 2 500GB 5400RPM hard drives (yes, two) which allow for all the ease and performance granted by separate storage drives. and the cherry on top is an ATI Radeon HD5870 1GB graphics card, for awesome gaming visuals. These specifications are, in terms of notebooks, top of the line. Sure, you will find desktop cases with bigger numbers, but they’re not quite as easy to slot under the arm and lug around. And, naturally, all the power that the G73 packs isn’t only good for gaming... it’s a great workstation, too. The gaming performance delivered by this device is silky smooth and glorious to behold. The 1920x1080 17.3” g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 9 • M a rc h 2 0 1 0


widescreen monitor built into the top case housing delivers crystal clear visuals (and gets the user thinking words like “shiny” a lot.) Quite surprisingly, the G73 sports a full keyboard, complete with a number pad. In addition, this keyboard is backlit, with various brightness levels making it easy to identify keys in any conditions. And it has a whole host of other bells and whistles too. It’s port list, for example, shows not only a level of versatility, but also indicates thoughtfulness in the design process. Take a look: 4x USB 2.0, 1x IEEE1394a, 1x Headphone Jack, 1x Microphone Jack, 1x VGA, 1x HDMI, 1x eSATA, 1x RJ-45 Ethernet, 8-In-1 Card Reader. It’s like the designers went “what would people need?” That thoughtfulness goes even further... sections of the notebook that would be subject to a lot of handling (like the wrist-rest area below the keyboard) are made from a comfort material that doesn’t mark easily. It even has a Blu-ray drive, combined with a DVD writer. If there was anything that needed to be criticised (and g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 9 • M a rc h 2 0 1 0

we do always try to elaborate on the good and the bad) it would be that massive size. But, realistically, a machine with this kind of performance isn’t going to fit into your back pocket. The size of the unit is a direct result of its performance, and that performance is spectacular. Just a mouse and a set of headphones will make this baby LAN ready (although the internal speakers are surprisingly good) and any gamer would feel not only special, but downright intimidating, dragging this notebook out at a gaming gathering. Sure, it’s not the cheapest either, but it’s worth every hard-earned cent that you will spend on it. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s big and it’s beautiful, with performance that is top-notch. This portable gaming monster is worth every cent.

Score

90 97


Logitech Z320 Speaker System

Sound Perfomance In stereo

by Walt Pretorius

M

ost regular LAN gamers will have a set of headphones. In fact, many gamers overall use headphones while they play. But the comfort levels of having a set strapped to your head for extended periods of time is not the greatest... a pair of speakers makes for a much better experience. One of the biggest problems with speakers, though, is that they often get rather invasive of desk space. This is particularly true of surround sound systems, or small desks, and where both come into play the physic Tetrisgame of arranging the desk gets a bit painful. And then there’s the matter of sound quality. Smaller speakers often sound... well, not as good as they should. It’s quite a conundrum, really. Thankfully, Logitech know what they’re doing when it comes to speakers, and the Z320 Speaker System takes care of a number of the problems mentioned above. They’re a compact stereo speaker setup, with two stylish speakers providing excellent sound quality. Yes, they’re not surround-sound, which is never ideal, but their performance makes up for it. Each unit has two speakers fitted into it; one that faces forward, and one that faces towards the rear. This creates a much fuller sound, in terms of performance quality.

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These powered speakers deliver 10 Watts of sound power, meaning that they can get fairly loud, but an accidental bump of the volume knob isn’t going to leave you with permanent inner ear damage. The only real down-side to these, which incidentally are a perfect notebook compliment, is the fact that the speakers themselves are exposed. It’s not too much of a problem, and certainly looks cool, but a careless bump may cause damage. Logitech have demonstrated their ability with sound devices for quite some time, and anyone in need of a decent set of stereo speakers (that aren’t going to take over the whole desk and are easily portable) need look no further than the Logitech Z320 Speaker System. At very least you’ll be able to heal those earphone blisters... g

AT A GLANCE: Good sound performance in a compact, sterreo speaker package.

Score

77

g a m e c c a h a r d w a r e • i s s u e 9 • M a r c hxxx 2010


Logitech C500 1.3-MP Webcam

Lookin’ Good All the bells and whistles

by Walt Pretorius

Y

ou never know when you might need a good webcam. You may have to flash those pearlywhites at a potential friend, or prove that you really are (or aren’t) a sixteen year old girl... you may even have a game that could benefit from one. Webcams have come a long way since the early days of low resolution images and video looking for like a slide show. In fact, some of the devices are pretty snazzy including the Logitech C500 1.3-MP Webcam. This device is a solidly constructed, stylish camera that will look at home atop virtually any monitor... held there by way of a tough, reliable universal clip. One of the biggest advantages to this camera is the fact that it has a glass lens. Glass is a far better substance than other synthetic materials used in lens construction, resulting in a clearer picture. This quality is further enhanced by Logitech RightLight technology, which measures light levels and automatically adjusts the camera’s performance to compensate for less than perfect conditions. The camera performs at up to 30 frames per second, and delivers 1.3 megapixel video at a resolution of 1280 x 1024. Additionally, it can be used to snap 5 megapixel pictures, too. g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 9 • M a rc h 2 0 1 0

A built in microphone, augmented by RightSound technology, delivers better than expected sound performance. On the downside, the camera has a fixed focus system. This means that it isn’t great for varied distances but, realistically, most people don’t vary the distance between themselves and their monitor too much, so it shouldn’t prove to be a massive problem. This reliable device takes care of a number of necessities (like the whole microphone thing) and is a solid choice for those wanting a good quality webcam. It is surprisingly sturdy and delivers excellent picture quality at a very reasonable price. Additional software features like audio and video muting add great value to an already good device - this is a great toy for online communication. g

AT A GLANCE: A good quality webcam with a glass lens and built-in microphone, the C500 delivers where it counts.

Score

75 xxx 99


In the Lair

Get Your HoN PHD... by the banman

T

he Wits Wargames Club will be hosting the first South African Heroes of Newerth (HoN) LAN tournament, sponsored by S2 Games, iGame and ASUS. This tournament is scheduled to take place on Saturday March 13, 2010, at the Old Mutual Sports Hall on the Wits University Campus, Johannesburg, from 09h00 until 20h00, and is being held in order to raise funds for the Wits Wargames Club, to contribute towards a bursary for electronic sports and club room equipment. The tournament is open to the public and, for the first time in South Africa, teams will be able to compete face to face at a LAN or join in online if unable to travel. The Lair will be administering the tournament and the local area network will be provided and supported by Mayhem. The iGame South African Heroes of Newerth server will interconnect all players. Sponsors have donated the following prizes: 1st Place Team of 5: $300 cash equivalent by S2. 1st Place Team of 5: 5 pre-paid Heroes of Newerth accounts by S2 1st Place Team of 5: 5x ASUS gift bags by ASUS 2st Place Team of 5: 5 Roccat Kova Mice and 5 Roccat Sense Mousepads from iGame 3rd Place Team of 5: 5x ASUS tool kits by ASUS

competition via its forums: up for grabs is one Intel Core i3 530 CPU, 2GB DDR3 1333Mhz RAM and one Gigabyte H55M S2H Intel P55 Chipset Motherboardâ&#x20AC;Ś all going to one lucky HoN player. Registration is limited to the first 16 teams who register, and the tournament format will consist of initial round robin and subsequent elimination rounds. Registration is R50.00 per person, and goes towards Club fundraising. A team must have at least one member at the LAN to represent the team in the case of winning and accepting the prizes. Other team members can be playing from anywhere within South Africa. The tournament main page is on the Wits Wargames Club webpage: http://wargames.wits.ac.za/honlan/ Registration is on the Lair webpage: http://www.thelair.co.za. Tournament organization is on the iGame forums: http://igameonline. co.za/index.php?board=41.0

In addition to these prizes, iGame will run a special pre-event

About Wits Wargames Club The Wits Wargames Club is

responsible for the promotion of Electronic Sports and Board Games at Wits University. Wits Wargames Club, under the guidance of Wits Sports Administration, offers bursaries to young students with skill and aptitude in Electronic Sports. Wits Wargames Club has distributed over 2000 Heroes of Newerth closed beta keys. The Club is raising money to improve and provide facilities for Electronic Sports on campus and assist gamers who are studying at university. Donations are appreciated and needed. Please contact Simon Modise (Club chairman) on (011) 7179408 for more information. For more information, please contact: Bryan Banfield The Lair 082-902-7211 thebanman@thelair.co.za Simon Modise Wits Wargames Club â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Chairman (073) 4575834 Simon.Modise@wits.ac.za. g

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


From Space

ROMulans... by Columnist A

A

Are you a Romulan? You know, like those funnylooking guys from Star Trek. No, of course you aren’t. And if you answered yes, get out of your mother’s basement and go find a job. The reason I ask is because I stumbled across a site the other day and it sorta reminded me of Romulans. The site is www.romulation. net, a name in which I’m sure you can spot my inspiration for the start of this column. The site’s name stems from the term, ROM – the acronym for “readonly memory”. This is the memory format ye olde game consoles used for information storage. Actually it was used by more than just the game consoles but for the purposes of this literary illustration let’s just focus on consoles. Some of you probably weren’t around in those days, but I started my gaming on consoles where you didn’t have hard drives. Or DVDs. Or CDs. No sir, none of that fancy stuff. I’m talkin’ about game cartridges. They looked sorta like a space-age cassette tape (ask your mom about these) with a PC board sticking out at the bottom. In fact, a memory card for the original Playstation held more information (1MB) than the first cartridge-based games. I remember the gaping jaws when Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition came out for the Sega Mega Drive. 40 Megabits, the box proudly advertised – a mere 5MB in total (since 8 megabits make up one megabyte). Unlike these new-fangled spinny discs with their scratches and copy protection, when our cartridge games stopped working we’d have to break out the methylated spirits and a soft

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cloth. You’d go about cleaning the contact pins, then opening the bay doors of your console to blow dust out of the cartridge slot. Hands up, those who remember doing this to their Golden China Nintendo knockoff consoles. I’ll raise two hands. One to represent two of the four consoles I owned, over the years. Anyway, back to this ROM business. See, with the game stored on a cartridge it was significantly harder for the pirates to stick a disc in their computer and clone it using a DVD writer. Consoles also didn’t need fancy circuits to detect piracy and ban you from Xbox Live. Instead, the clever crooks just built the bypass circuitry into electronic cartridge. Marvellous. You could pick up a red dot game for like half the price of a Sega or Nintendo original. (At this point it would be wise to point out that those Golden China consoles and games were all pirated material.) [And equally wise to point out that those were the bad old days, when South Africa was under numerous sanctions and embargoes – ed] It’s a bit of a grey area now. Those items were subject to slightly different laws and in some cases no laws at all. In many cases the copyright only lasts for 20 years. So if you know of a game published before 1990, chances are you could legally download a copy from a site like romulation.net. In an ideal world, you actually own a copy of the game you’re downloading. The obvious excuse being that you want to play Sonic the Hedgehog

again, but don’t feel like digging out your old console. Besides, it looks really crap on an HDTV. Believe me. I started fiddling around. Being a Mac user, I struggled a while longer to find an emulator that would play my old Sega classics. Thankfully the Google machine is very helpful and I came across Kega Fusion. There’s also a Windows version and a Linux version, and this will run all the games from the old Sega consoles before the Saturn. I could carry on and talk about how much I miss the good old days but instead I’ll carry on playing Rocket Knight Adventures and Streets of Rage 2 while you whipper-snappers read your Wikipedia machine to find out what the hell I’m talking about. To make matters worse, somebody pointed out to me that 1990 is 20 years ago. I’ve played games about 2010. They just had more cars and people were very two-sided. g

gamecca column • issue 9 • March 2010


Gamecca Magazine March 2010