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issue 21 / vol 2 March 2010

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game r eviews! Bulletstorm Dead Space 2 Killzone 3 Test Drive Unlimited 2 DC Universe Online and more...

Sunday Driver

Test Drive Unlimited 2

A New Take... Mario Sports Mix

Non-Stop

Being Super

DC Universe Online

Killzone 3

They’re Back Dead Space 2

Bad Attitude! Bulletstorm reviewed


AVAILABLE 25 FEBRUARY 2011 AVAILABLE

AVAILABLE 25 FEBRUARY 2011

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

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


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


Inside 6 From the Editor 8 Unstuck Caught up in the history... 10 Controversy Bulletstorm in a teacup? 16 Previews 15 upcoming games 40 PS Zealot Get online already! 42 Xbox Beat Transferring licenses 44 House of Mario Do we need good stories? 46 Reviews 15 game reviews kicking of7 Christmas v2.0 80 Flashtastic Who needs more than one button? 82 Stateside American Royalty 84 Essential Classics World domination! 86 Hardware Some more tech and toys to drool over

THIS MONTH’S COVER Bad language, violence and innuedo... we love it! Read our review on page 48.

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92 The Lair A new social service 94 From Space Dollarvision strikes again...

gamecca contents • issue 21 • March 2011


Previews Reviews

18

L.A. Noire

20

Shogun 2: Total War

22

Fight Night: Champion

24

The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings

25

MX vs ATV Alive

26

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

28

Storm: Frontline Nation

29

Dawn of Fantasy

30

SBK 2011

32

Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword

33

Virtua Tennis 4

34

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

35

Crash Time 4

36

Dungeon Siege III

37

WSC Real 11

48

Bulletstorm

52

Dead Space 2

56

Killzone 3

60

Test Drive Unlimited 2

62

Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

64

DC Universe Online

66

Dr Kawashima’s Brain and Body Training

68

Mario Sports Mix

70

Dungeons

72

Mind Jack

74

ArmA 2: Operation Arrowhead

75

The Sims 3: Outdoor Living Stuff Pack

76

Drive Green

78

G.H.O.S.T Chronicles: Phantom of the Renaissance Fair

79

Harvest Moon Frantic Farming

GAMECCA Volume2 Issue 21 March 2011 Editor: Walt Pretorius walt@gamecca.co.za Sub Editor: Charlie Fripp Writers: Alexia Pestana Brian Murdoch Bryan Banfield Dion Scotten Dylan Bouch James Francis Richard Bingham Suvesh Arumugam Letters: letters@gamecca.co.za Competition Entries: competitions@gamecca.co.za Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gamecca.co.za Design & Photography: 1337 Media Technical Support: Brian Murdoch Marketing Contact: Katia Taliadoros katia@gamecca.co.za

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

GAMECCA is published by 1337 MEDIA

gamecca contents • issue 21 • March 2011

Copyright © 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2011

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Careful Balance From the Editor

by Walt Pretorius

I

t’s an odd industry, this beloved video game mill. It is massive, constantly producing new products for possibly the most fickle group of consumers on the face of the planet. It constantly evolves, with new techniques and technology making games bigger, better, faster day by day. Trends change quickly, as developers try to sate the appetites of consumers who are always all-tooready to jump ship to the ‘next big thing’. And somewhere in between this constant, mad shuffle sits the press, trying to communicate information from one side (the industry) to the other (the consumer) in the best ways possible. At least, that’s what they are supposed to be doing… But the press don’t always do what they’re supposed to. Or they do it in ways that are irresponsible and possibly damaging. Or, even worse, they try to garner sensationalist followings and outcries by misrepresenting facts and opinions. The latest one to cause a bit of an uproar was Fox News’ handling of Bulletstorm, which they accused of many things that were

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only partially grounded in any form of reality. I was personally so incensed by the whole matter that we decided to base a feature on it. In all honesty, though, even though Fox News are mainstream press, they don’t necessarily have the impact on the video game industry that specialist journalists have. I use the term journalist a little loosely, because the world seems to have more people writing about video games than playing them, at times, and some of those folks don’t necessarily understand what it means to be a journalist. It is a journalist’s ‘duty’ to report facts or, in many cases, to effectively deliver opinion that is as level and

fair as possible (this being in the case of reviews, specifically.) Level and fair. Those are the key words in that statement. See, when you write a game review, you have to consider the fact that your own opinion is not gospel. In fact, it is nothing more than what it is: an opinion. What you like, others may not, and vice versa. The problem arises when fanboyism interferes with professionalism. It’s very easy for that to happen… show me a video game reviewer that hasn’t gushed about a game at least once in their career, and I’ll show you an emotionless robot. We all have our favourites – it’s only human. But there still needs to be a tempered note injected into a review, or any article for that matter. It really comes down to the reader to find trusted sources… although that can be quite easy to do. If a game is qualified as “OMG, the most orsm game eva” and given a score of 100 out of 100, you’re probably not getting a level opinion. Things that go too far to the negative are also probably a little suspect. So, I wish you luck in finding a safe route through the myriad skewed opinions. Hopefully Gamecca is one of the stops you make on your way to deciding which products best suit your needs. And, as always, if you have any comments or criticisms, please feel free to drop us a note at letters@gamecca.co.za. g

gamecca column • issue 21 • March 2011


Cruel and Unusual Unstuck

by Charlie Fripp

W

e all like getting a little something extra for our money. I remember fondly when we used to buy ice cream from a vendor, and they would randomly throw in a free piece of chocolate. Those certainly made all the little kids smile. Just as life occasionally adds a bit more value to your everyday life, so to do game developers try to entice gamers to buy their products – or more of it. The most frequently used ploy in this tactic is DLC, or downloadable content. Now, we all know that everything that is free isn’t necessarily good for you, and gaming also suffers from this condition. Sometimes an overhyped piece of DLC turns out to be nothing more than some re-skinned trees and a t-shirt. To be fair at this point, most DLC needs to be purchased, and gamers will know before what they are going to get, but free DLC isn’t unheard of and it usually rears its head when the developer screwed up. But more on that later… As far as I can gather, there are three distinct forms of paid DLC apart from the run-of-the-mill kind i.e. first day DLC, pre-order DLC, and demo DLC. I’ll explain why I hate

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them, but out of interest, they are ranked from worst to not-so-bad. Day One DLC is probably the worst kind of freebie every invented, and it needs to be stopped before it infects the entire landscape. This type of DLC usually happens when the developer was a bit over zealous with their product and it’s almost like they had bits and bobs over and didn’t know what to do with it. If the DLC was ready when the game came out, why in heavens name wasn’t it included in the initial disc? More times than not, it’s already on the disc, and all that’s required to unlock it is by entering a code or doing a small 2MB download, obviously at a cost. Why deny me the access if it’s already there and I paid full price for the game? Pre-order DLC isn’t as bad as the above-mentioned, but it still has a bit of an unfair and redundant element to it. What happens is that gamers go into their local shop before the release and book a copy. Just by doing that, they often get added goodies such as armour, weapons or more cars. The only logical reason I can think of why developers and publishers resort to this tactic, is to ensure that a growing number of the fans “buy” the game beforehand, thus ensuring that their first-day sales will be rock solid. But what is the actual point? If I want to buy the game on release day, I’ll go to the store the day it is released. A better option would be to include a bonus code for the shop’s initial stock purchase, so all gamers who buy it on the first day will get a code. If it’s sales that you

are after, that will be a lot better, instead of alienating gamers who might not have had the capital to preorder (if a deposit is required). On that topic, awhile back a very prominent games store gave pre-order customers a bonus code over the counter for Red Dead Redemption. I bought my game from that store on release day but I didn’t pre-order. Do you think I got a code? You bet your granny’s hat I didn’t… And then there is demo DLC. Apart from the regular DLC, which is sometimes heavily overpriced, I kind of understand what developers are trying to do – and it’s not such a bad thing. With demo DLC, and I know Dragon Age II is one of them, gamers who download the demo and complete it will receive some type of bonus goodies to reward them for the curiosity and efforts. With Dragon Age II specifically, when gamers complete the demo they will unlock Hayder’s Razor, an ancient Dwarven blade which can be used in the full version of the game. BioWare also promised to unlock two extra books in the full version if the demo gets downloaded a million times. See, demo DLC isn’t so bad because you get rewarded for something that you technically haven’t bought yet, and everybody loves free stuff. First-day DLC and pre-order DLC are the worst kinds, and it’s like waving that extra chocolate in front of a child’s face. Teasing him with the sugary goodness, he can only have it if he pays for an ice cream now, to be delivered when the driver comes around next week. g

gamecca column • issue 21 • March 2011


Feature

Controversy Bulletstorm in a teacup?

by Walt Pretorius

T

he video game industry is no stranger to controversy. In fact, the list of games that have drawn the ire of various concern groups and other media watchdogs keeps growing. And it’s not a new phenomenon, either… violence in video games and the effect that it has on younger players has, as a discussion topic, goes back quite some time. But there have been highlights in the long debate, with games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Bully and even Mass Effect drawing unwanted attention from those who are quick to criticise, but don’t always have the facts. Ignorance can, to a degree, be forgiven. Video gaming culture is often misunderstood by those that aren’t a part of it. However, maliciousness can never be forgiven, and the latest game to get worked over by unscrupulous journalism is EA and Epic’s Bulletstorm. In an article entitled “Is Bulletstorm the Worst Game Ever?”, Fox News reporter John Brandon alleges that the game may have some incredibly harsh effects on youngsters playing it. Interviewing a number of “experts”, the article implies that Bulletstorm will lead to anything from a rise in violence (on an epic scale, if some quotes are to be believed) to a rise in the rape rate. It’s not the first time that Fox News have taken on a game and made accusations of this nature about it. The last victim of Fox inspired controversy was Mass Effect 2 (another title in the EA stable). Mass Effect 2 went on to become a top selling title, and no marked increases in violent crimes were attributed to it. Back to Bulletstorm. To keep perspective, we are including the URL for the original article: it can be found at http://www.foxnews.com/ scitech/2011/02/08/bulletstorm-

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gamecca feature • issue 21 • March 2011


gamecca feature • issue 21 • March 2011

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Feature

worst-game-kids/#content and makes for an interesting read… at least, if one is a concerned parent with little to no information about the subject matter. The truly shocking thing, though, is that several online sources (notable GamesIndustry.biz and Rock Paper Shotgun) discovered that the article published by Fox News was very selectively edited, and that balancing arguments that should have been used in an objective news piece were ignored. As an example, industry analyst Billy Pidgeon was approached to comment on Bulletstorm and the general nature of the market in relation to violent video games: “Fox News: Bulletstorm glorifies violence for fun and extra points. You can shoot the bad guys in the private parts for points, get drunk and shoot for more points, throw a chain with spikes and hook enemies. But some of the worst parts are actually related to the names for the skill shots and the in-game dialogue, which is definitely profane. What should be done about these games? “Billy Pidgeon: The ESRB ratings and the market have all the control necessary to limit the availability of games with objectionable content for sale to minors. The current rating system determines who can buy a game based on content, and retailers typically strongly support these ratings. Games with violent or objectionable content will be rated T for Teen (13+), M (17+) or AO (18+). Bulletstorm is rated M and retailers will not be likely to sell the game to purchasers without ID certifying age. “The market will favor games with quality gameplay and content, so if Bulletstorm is a good game, gamers seventeen and older will likely buy it. Games without sufficient quality of gameplay that include highly objectionable violent or sexual content often pump up the level of this kind of content to gain media attention. This tactic typically fails, as can be seen in the poor sales performance of titles such as BMX XXX and Postal.” In the article, Fox News used the following: “Games without sufficient quality of gameplay that include highly

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gamecca feature • issue 21 • March 2011


What Billy Said... The following answers were provided to Fox News questions by industry analyst Billy Pidgeon, and were first published by www.rockpapershotgun.com Question: Bulletstorm glorifies violence for fun and extra points. You can shoot the bad guys in the private parts for points, get drunk and shoot for more points, throw a chain with spikes and hook enemies. But some of the worst parts are actually related to the names for the skill shots and the in-game dialogue, which is definitely profane. What should be done about these games? Answer: The ESRB ratings and the market have all the control necessary to limit the availability of games with objectionable content for sale to minors. The current rating system determines who can buy a game based on content, and retailers typically strongly support these ratings. Games with violent or objectionable content will be rated T for Teen (13+), M (17+) or AO (18+). Bulletstorm is rated M and retailers will not be likely to sell the game to purchasers without ID certifying age. The market will favor games with quality gameplay and content, so if Bulletstorm is a good game, gamers seventeen and older will likely buy it. Games without sufficient quality of gameplay that include highly objectionable violent or sexual content often pump up the level of this kind of content to gain media attention. This tactic typically fails, as can be seen in the poor sales performance of titles such as BMX XXX and Postal. Question: Those who are against violent games say there should be more restrictions on games like Bulletstorm. How is that argument valid or not valid? Answer: I believe games should have the same protections and legislation due other forms of media, including films and books. The courts have historically struck down legislative attempts to control the sales of games in a more restrictive manner than other media,

gamecca feature • issue 21 • March 2011

and the current Supreme Court hearing of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA is likely to conclude that games are due the same First Amendment protections as other media. When younger gamers have access to games meant for older players, it is typically due to parents and adult family members purchasing the games for the minors and letting them play. The industry and organizations or individuals concerned about the issue should work to better educate consumers on the importance of following ESRB ratings and controlling children’s access to objectionable content. I’d like to see better enforcement, and possibly more restrictions on games marketing. Games rated T and M should not be advertised in channels targeting children under 17. Question: One issue is that it is easy to download the demo on Xbox and PS3, there are few if any warnings and no blocks. Should there be? Answer: Like most videogame consoles, Xbox 360 and PS3 have parental controls built in, and players under 18 will not be able to download M rated content. Console gamers have to certify their age before downloading content. There are ways to get around these, but if parents have enabled parental controls, it will be very difficult for underage gamers to circumvent these controls. Question: Many parents are also gamers — if they see no problem with these types of games, what should they do to voice an opinion? Answer: Parents who play games are more knowledgeable about game content and ESRB ratings and often impose more restrictions on their children’s gaming. Any adult gamers, including parents, who would like to support the industry’s right to self-regulate should join the Entertainment Consumers Association (theeca.com) and the Video Game Voters Network (videogamevoters.org).

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Feature

objectionable violent or sexual content often pump up the level of this kind of content to gain media attention. This tactic typically fails, as can be seen in the poor sales performance of titles such as BMX XXX and Postal.” The selective editing is blatant, and the resulting misrepresentation resulted in an article that is completely unbalanced. So is Bulletstorm is the worst game ever? Well, we have included the questions and answers between Fox News and two industry analysts (Billy Pidgeon and Scott Steinberg, the latter having not been quoted in the article at all) so that you can formulate your own opinion. Additionally, we review Bulletstorm on page 48 of this issue. But perhaps the question shouldn’t surround Bulletstorm and it’s brash attitude. Maybe a better question to ask relates to mainstream news services, who speak to the masses without necessarily investigating matters fully - or worse yet, misrepresent the statements of others in the name of sensationalism. g

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glamecca feature • issue 21 • March 2011


What Scott Said... The following answers were provided to Fox News questions by industry analyst Scott Steinberg, and were first published by www.gamesindustry.biz Question: Do you think the game goes too far, why or why not? Answer: No - because it’s an unapologetically and straightforwardly satirical game meant for discerning adults that’s written in the vernacular of the times and speaks in a cultural context that’s the same as that its target audience has long been indoctrinated in by mainstream media and pop culture. From Saw to South Park, look at what passes for modern entertainment at the movies or on basic cable, let alone on the Internet - this isn’t the first blockbuster (or big-budget game, for that matter) to aim below the belt or slather on the salty language. Yes, it’s shameless, but also knowingly so, because it actively aims to parody much of both the gaming field and larger cultural zeitgeist’s more asinine elements. The designers make no secret of their intentions, or to whom the title caters The Oregon Trail, this isn’t. The giant M for Mature rating on the front of the box says it all: Only discerning adults need apply.” Question: Is the only answer found in better parenting (telling your own kids they can’t play the game) and ratings boards? Or is there something else that should be done? Answer: The answer, as ever, lies in education: Being acutely aware of what and how your children play, and the manner in which they do so, which requires maintaining an open-minded perspective and taking the time to spend time with your kids, their games and the systems which play these titles. A multitude of resources exist from the ESRB to WhatTheyPlay, FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com and Common Sense Media, as well as leading review websites such as IGN, GameSpot and 1up, which can help provide more info on today’s top titles, trends and topics.

gamecca feature • issue 21 • March 2011

Not only can all help provide insight into children’s interests, motivations and the manner in which they consume game content, but the context needed to help steer them towards other, more appropriate titles which might better fit their age range or pique their interest. As with movies, albums and books featuring explicit content, you can help steer kids towards more viable substitutes that are equally compelling for healthier or more constructive reasons. Question: Is Bulletstorm one of the more egregious examples or are there a lot of other more violent games? Answer: Like comic books, rock-androll and film, videogames have long been subject to vilification for their subject matter due to popular misconceptions that they’re meant for children, when in fact the average player is actually a mature, discerning adult in their mid-30s. Accordingly, there’s been a long and storied range of titles featuring graphic and violent content (among other, more mundane subjects and fanciful topics) that speaks to this audience, just as there have been a long and storied range of films and TV shows (see: The Godfather, The Sopranos, every horror movie stocking movie store rental shelves since the ‘70s, etc.) that speak to moviegoers with more adult tastes. From Postal to Grand Theft Auto III to Scarface: The World is Yours, you could cite a grand history of supposedly ‘egregious’ games dating back to the halcyon days of early arcade and computing hits such as Death Race and Leisure Suit Larry. But the reality is that the vast majority of all games produced are perfectly suitable for children and adolescents. BulletStorm just happens to be one of many examples that fall into the category of games for mature audiences, but it’s hardly among the more head-turning ones, as those who’ve played previous outings such as human prey simulator Manhunt 2 can attest.

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Previews Highlights 18 L.A. Noire The underbelly 20 Shogun 2: Total War Be big in Japan... 22 Fight Night: Champion Earning the title 24 The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings Bigger and better 25 MX vs ATV Alive Getting dirty

T

he massive influx of games has officially started, even if it’s still gaining pace. But from March until around June, gamers will have a lot of choice when it comes to expanding the collection. And, of course, we will be letting you know what’s coming up in the next few months. Whether it’s RPG action, sports, shooting, racing or virtually anything else, the next few months will offer a bit of something for everyone! g

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gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


L.A. Noire

The Underbelly Rotten to the core

M

any people have dreams of fame and fortune, and those dreams often drag them to places where the possibilities of achieving them are greater. No city is more famous for this than Los Angeles, where Hollywood moguls make their homes and ply their trade. The exodus of ordinary folk with stars in their eyes to LA is not a new concept – it has been around for as long as movies have. And, in any situation where a high population, fuelled by hopeful migrants, meets desperation and frustration, bad things are bound to happen… even back in the good old days. L.A. Noire is a game set during the Golden Age of Los Angeles. The Second World War has ended, and the city is booming out of control, threatened by its own success as much as it is buoyed by it. The boom town is plagued by a dark underbelly, where corruption rules, the drug trade is

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by Walt Pretorius out of control and the murder rate is achieving new peaks. The player will be able to become immersed in this world in the role of Cole Phelps, an LAPD detective who must use his wits to climb through the ranks of a police department that is almost equal parts just and corrupt. Developed by Team Bondi and published by the notorious Rockstar, L.A. Noire will task the player with investigating arson, racketeering and murder in an effort to uncover a dark secret that could have extreme effects on the entire city. The player need to search for clues and suspects in this violent crime thriller. They will even need to interrogate witnesses, which is where a new technology employed by the developers will come into play. This is what they have to say about it: “The foundation of L.A. Noire is a brand new technology called MotionScan that enables us to capture and scan

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


every nuance of a real actor’s facial performances and put them right into the game itself. It provides a level of realism, detail, performance and emotion never seen before in a videogame, and brings them to life in a totally new way. This goes beyond the limited grid of data points delivered by traditional motion capture – these are the actual performances themselves, scanned and placed onto our digital characters. This marriage of gameplay and technology allows players for the first time ever to truly feel like a detective, reading the emotional behavior of every character. Furthermore, MotionScan lends itself perfectly to this type of game: one that focuses on characters and performances where everyone has something to hide.” It sounds promising and, on paper at least, MotionScan should offer a whole lot more to the gamer in terms of an

immersive experience. Using 32 high definition cameras, actors are captured in 3D at 30 frames per second, allowing for lifelike reactions and realistic interactions. More than 400 actors were filmed this way, making the project a massive undertaking and implying that the player will be doing a hell of a lot of interacting with other characters in the game. And judging by Rockstar’s track record, we can ascertain a few things about this game that are almost certainties: it’s going to be long, it’s going to be complex, it will probably be brutal and it will more than likely blow our minds. We will have to wait until May to know for sure, but it seems like an awfully long time before we get to see a game that we’re pretty convinced is going to be exceptional. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Team Bondi Publisher: Rockstar Distributor: Megarom gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011

May 2011 Platforms

This one looks like it will be really awesome, complete with tons of gumshoe action.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Shogun 2:Total War

Supplies!

Sharpen those katanas, it’s time for war.

S

hogun 2: Total War is almost here and it’s a full 360 degrees for the Total War team as they return to the place that made the franchise famous. A lot of things have changed since the original and excellent Shogun: Total War, so The Creative Assembly has a lot to deliver. No pressure. Well then it’s a good thing that they’re quite possibly the best in the business when it comes to bi-strat warfare and from we’ve seen so far this may just be the best Total War yet. Set once again in 16th century feudal Japan, where powerful warlords gather their forces for national wide battle. Japan will be conquered, by whom exactly is up to the player as he assumes control of one of the eight factions available in the campaign. Something about Japan at that time sparks emotion in the heart of every general when they think of all things war. We like to imagine it’s the beginning of honour, the birth of sophisticated battle strategy. Fighting was beautiful, armour was bright and thousands of samurai

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by Dion Scotten

were willing to die honourably for their warlord. Oh yes and a couple of ninja. Perfect for when more stealthy and precise skills were needed to solve particularly difficult problems. The game map covers the entire Japanese mainland along with all the surrounding islands and will be a welcome break from the European landscape that we’ve gotten to know a little too well. As with all Total War releases, the turn based map allows for players to build up their forces and strategically move armies around. Settlements can be upgraded to cities and better technology, armour and units can be researched. Players will expand their territory by taking control of enemy cities through siege or battle as normal, with the 3D battle maps representing the landscape of the strategic map accurately. Deploying spies and assassins to find and exploit enemy weakness is a very important strategy and this is an area you will have to work on if you want to become

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


a formidable general. It’s good to know the man who has your back won’t stick a knife in it, so diplomacy is as important in the beginning of your rise to supremacy. Both land and sea battles will be portrayed in Shogun 2, keeping with the existing Total War engine and after all to be the last warlord standing you will need to master all areas of battle. So what new things for Total War can we expect from The Creative Assembly? Well, firstly, smaller force sizes will be the standard and before you whinge, consider the following. A smaller force requires better strategy in battle to obtain victory and, in turn, brings better player satisfaction. Monster armies will always beat a smaller one and there’s really no fun in it, in fact players will normally just press the auto resolve button because the result is a no brainer and no fun. The new environment and eastern immersion should bring a personality injection back into the franchise. The look and feel of the maps has changed and even the family

and clan interaction has been improved. Individuals under your general’s control will be upgradable with the player allocating points to their skill trees as they level up. Generals will also be upgradable and players can choose to upgrade his combat prowess, ranged skill or influence abilities, making him the type of super fighter they want. Now your general can be a true champion on the battlefield instead of just another soldier, the consequences of losing him on the battlefield of course may be worse too. Lovers of strategy games that haven’t tried the Total War series will have the perfect opportunity to play arguably one of the best strategy warfare games ever made for the PC. Fans of the series are going to be queuing up for this one anyway and Shogun 2: Total War is definitely one for the collection. The demo is available on Steam but be aware of the 6 gig download required to play. Hey, it’s the price to pay if you cannot by any means wait for the full version. We understand, really. The release should be in March 2011 so it’s not that long to wait. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: The Creative Assembly Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011

Mar 2011 Platforms

A return to the franchise’s roots with all the added Total War goodness learnt along the way.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

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Fight Night: Champion

The Next Contender EA should hang on to the title with this one…

by Walt Pretorius

T

he Fight Night franchise has always been something of a fore-runner in boxing simulations. It’s all about that wonderful control scheme that EA came up with (which they have seen fit to transfer to the MMA franchise). And that is set to continue into the next game in the series, called Fight Night: Champion. The reason for the change in the naming convention doesn’t stem from EA being tired of the “Round (insert appropriate number here)” formula, but seems to be because Fight Night: Champion is bringing something rather unique to the world of boxing sims. That is a story based career mode called Champion. The player will take on the role of Andre Bishop as

he fights his way through the ranks of the boxing world. They’re not saying too much about the story, but images of movies like “Rocky” and “Raging Bull” are springing to mind. Standard game modes look like they will still be present for those who want to create their own fighters, and the ability to create your own online gym will certainly add some spice to online competitions. In addition, things like realistic damage and body deformation, dynamic blood and mature content throughout the game will certainly create the illusion of being embroiled in the lifestyle of a soon-to-be champion boxer. g

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

22

Mar 2011 Platforms

With the same great dynamics and interesting new modes, Fight Night: Champion should thrill fans of boxing and the franchise alike.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 21 • Marc h 2011


Razer Imperator The Razer Imperator is not just a mere mouse, it is an extension of your hands. Its right-handed ergonomic form factor with a contoured thumb grip delivers comfort and a better fit for gaming, whether you use a palm or fingertip grip. Be empowered to take on foes and fatigue alike -for longer gaming sessions without strain. When every aspect of your game matters, customize your game play with the unique adjustable side buttons, giving you optimum reach for easier access to mission critical keys and macros. Razer Naga The Razer Naga is the ultimate Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming mouse that shifts the balance between keyboard and mouse by putting an unprecedented number of in-game commands in one place. A multi-button thumb grid and Razer’s MMO game interface add-on combine to place every command you need in the palm of your hand. An ergonomic form shaped to maximize ease of use lets you game in comfort for hours on end. With the Razer Naga, you will Get Imba.17 MMO-optimized buttons Program up to thousands of different in-game commands, featuring a multi-key cluster easily accessible at the gamer’s thumb. Maximum Comfort for Long Gaming Sessions Game for days with the Razer Naga’s ergonomic design, optimized for easy access to every button. An intelligent form factor provides a solid grip to access the thumb buttons without affecting cursor movement. Custom Interface Add Ons for MMO Games Organize your skills and eliminate visual clutter with the Razer Naga’s in-game custom interface Add Ons (available for World of WarcraftTM and WarhammerOnline: Age of ReckoningTM, and more)

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


Get ready for the hunt

by Dion Scotten

T

he Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is the sequel to the popular first Witcher title, released in 2007, and is already highly anticipated by a cult following of fans. Geralt, the white haired slayer of monsters is back and of course there are more than enough monsters to keep him busy. But there are more than just monsters about this time around, with much bigger things going on in the land of Temeria. Not only bigger in political intrigue and story twists but also greater map sizes for Geralt to roam about in, a great improvement from the first Witcher that felt a bit boxy at times. The gritty and mature approach to fantasy storytelling hasn’t changed, which is a good thing because this is what sets The Witcher series apart from all the other RPGs. The choice and consequence story system

is promised to be expanded on to allow for even more changes in response to player choice. The combat system is still as stylish as ever but with smoother controls and a smarter skill tree. Demos show that different modes of gamer style are supported, allowing players to take on combatants in full frontal battle or in a more stealthy approach of silent take downs. One of the main features of the Witcher series is the dialogue and the latest release is set to improve by expanding further on the dialogue branches. The voice acting is promised to be top notch but this remains to be seen… if done right we could have a serious contender for RPG of the year for 2011. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings will only release on PC with rumours of possible console porting at a later stage. g

AT A GLANCE: A dark and mature fantasy for RPG fans boasting a robust choice and consequence story system. Developer: CD Projekt RED Publisher: Atari Distributor: Megarom

24

May 2011 Platforms

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Not an Average Monster

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


MX vs ATV Alive

Hitting the Dirt Look ma, no hands!

by Charlie Fripp

O

ne thing that game-makers haven’t quite got down yet is the physics involved when it comes to motorbikes. Ask any real rider, or even a weekend warrior, and they will tell you that most motorcycle games lack in the true feeling of hitting the road. But with that said, some off road-motorcycle games come pretty close to replicating the real feeling of hitting the dirt on a motocross bike. The MX vs ATV franchise has been going for a number of years, and they are one of the few games to attract as much attention from off-road bikers as other games.

The newest iteration is due to hit the shelves soon and MX vs ATV Alive promises to deliver a better experience than before. As part of the Rider Reflex addition, gamers will be able to not only control the bike, but also the rider as they lean in and out of jumps and corners. The tracks will also change as races go on, as the real-time deformation will make sure that even the dirt resembles the natural movement of real-world racing. And just like the DiRT franchise, MX vs ATV Alive will feature real drivers, real gear and real licensors. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: THQ Publisher: THQ Distributor: Ster Kinekor gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011

Apr 2011 Platforms

With real physics and dirt deformation, the franchise might just get the boost it needs.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

25


Jack’s back

by Brian Murdoch

L

EGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game is an action adventure with the Caribbean setting and its pirates mixed up in brick form. Players will experience the first three films as well as the fourth, upcoming film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, in a funny and entertaining LEGO video game style. The game promises to have 70 memorable and new characters and players will explorer their way through more than 20 levels. The combat, being in the true LEGO style of brick breaking blaze, will be pushed to extremes with the Caribbean being full of danger. Intense sword fighting and a good measure of pirate trickery, with a great deal

of unforgettable cut scenes, will await the player. These scenes will include a lot of favourites from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Fighting is not all that there is to it and puzzles will have to be solved to unlock and gain access to all of the hidden LEGO treasures and secrets. If it all becomes too hard for one player then a two player co-op is available and they can drop-in or drop-out at any time during the story. Once you have finished the game and unlocked a good amount of characters, then Freeplay is the next option to take some of those characters and gain access to special areas that require distinctive skills. LEGO is not only for the children but also the children at heart and the great nature of the game will be fun for all. g

AT A GLANCE: LEGO games are not only for children and this one includes all four movies into one game. Developer: Travellers Tales Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios Distributor: Prima Interactive

26

Q2 2011 Platforms

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

Yo-Ho-Ho

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


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


Storm: Frontline Nation

Dominance

Fighting for survival one turn at a time by Walt Pretorius

S

imBin Studios made their name with driving games. They may not be the biggest publishing name around, but real driving simulation enthusiasts most certainly know who they are. It seems, though, that SimBim are looking at some different areas to ply their trade in. They have secured the rights to distribute Storm: Frontline Nation, a turnbased strategy title from Swedish developers Collosai Studios. A shortage of natural resources and a lengthy economic crisis brings near collapse to the European and North African region. In a bid for survival, the countries in that region start a bitter struggle for control.

The player will need to dominate as one of 45 states, ensuring military dominance and becoming the titular Frontline Nation. Players will need to do research, produce units and use diplomacy to further their agendas during the strategic phases of the game. During the tactical phases, players will do combat that will be affected by weather conditions and the day-night cycle. Players will have 20 different units at their disposal, including covert ops specialists and saboteurs. It looks like this one might be a lot of fun, but will probably appeal more to those that prefer a more relaxed pace in their games. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Collosai Studios Publisher: SimBin Distributor: TBC

28

Q2 2011 Platforms

This promises to be a deep and engaging turn-based strategy title set in Europe and North Africa.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


Dawn of Fantasy

It’s a New Dawn Human, Orc or Elf?

by Alexia Pestana

S

et in the richly detailed land of Mythador, Dawn of Fantasy will immerse you in the lives, battles, and conquests of complex characters, epic cities, races and rival factions. Smoke hangs over a ruined world. Once there was peace, now the earth trembles. The war has passed but only the fools have put away their swords. In every land, foulness brews. This title has been described as an “Innovative Massively Multiplayer Online Real Time Strategy game with persistent MMO environment.” Wow, say that ten times fast. Dawn of Fantasy stands out from the other titles with the vast layers of detail in the world the players are fighting over, the interaction between the characters and their kingdoms, and the scale of warfare. Players will

need to fight as never before, in mountains and villages, on the walls and even in the stairwells of the massive strongholds built up over time. The world of Dawn of Fantasy is populated with a wide range of creatures, from dragons and wizards to goblins and ogres. There are three dominating kingdoms, controlled by humans, orcs and elves. As the player interacts with the advanced races, he will quickly discover that each has been given a deep, compelling mythology, a dramatic historical background, and a spectrum of complex political ambitions that drive the story and the gameplay. Each faction also has a wide range of unique military units, buildings, technology, and architecture. Three different modes of gameplay will be available: Online Kingdom, Kingdom Wars, and Skirmish Mode. Welcome to a deep and thrilling new fantasy world. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Reverie World Studios Publisher: 505 Games Distributor: Apex Interactive gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011

Jun 2011 Platforms

Socialise, trade, forge alliances and – best of all – battle against other players, defeat their armies and burn their towns.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

29


SBK 11

Get your Knee Down! A whole lot of ‘more’ this year

by Dylan Bouch

S

BK is one of the biggest Bike racing franchises to date. The SBK series has evolved over the years, bringing a more realistic and better game play every time This year’s title, SBK 11 has focused more on the handling, physics and the simulation levels. With a noticeable difference between the low, intermediate and high simulation levels any gamer can jump right into the action and begin to ride for the chequered flag. With the simulation turned up or even on, riders will be punished for bad braking or jumping onto the throttle to quickly. There will also be arcade races available for the not so hard core fans. The graphics have also been adjusted in this year’s release, with new lighting effects and an improved

impression of speed. With effects like motion blur, hurtling down the back end straight you will feel as you are really moving that fast. The bikes and environment graphics also look much better. Even though the graphics have been adjusted, the view behind the bike’s visor (or first person view, if you like) still seems a bit wobbly. The bike handling seems much better as well, and by the look of things, getting your bike sideways won’t be that difficult. That’s not a bad thing in my opinion, but you can always adjust your settings to control this. A new feature in SBK 11 is a photo mode where you can take a photo during a race or practice, then you can edit it using pretty advanced tools. These photos can be shared with the online community. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Milestone Publisher: Black Bean Distributor: Ster Kinekor

30

Q2 2011 Platforms

SBK is a super realistic simulations racer which any one will enjoy

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


“2”, “PlayStation”, “PS3” and “À” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “Ô is a trademark of the same company. “Ô” is a registered trademark of Sony Corporation. “Blu-ray Disc” and “BD” are trademarks. SingStar™ Afrikaanse Treffers ©2011 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd, 10 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7LP. Developed bySCEE London Studio. “SingStar”, “My SingStar” and “SingStore” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved.

13L

Aflaai van nuwe liedjies vanaf die SingStore™*

Afrikaanse Treffers

30 Oorspronklike Afrikaanse treffers op PS3, insluitend Kurt Darren, Bobby Van Jaarsveld, Bok Van Blerk, Juanita Du Plessis en Romanz. (25 treffers op PS2)


Ride into legend

by Alexia Pestana

W

ith Fire and Sword is the thrilling sequel to the action role-playing hit Mount & Blade: Warband. In the first instalment, the player was thrown onto a land torn apart by incessant warfare, and had to lead men into battle, expanding realms, to claim the ultimate prize: the throne of Calradia. When it launched it was the only Medieval combat/kingdom building sandbox game. In With Fire and Sword, players can choose to be a mercenary or join one of the five battling factions to conquer, destroy or create empires. The game and its storyline are based on the Nobel-prize winner Henry Sienkiewicz’s historic novel With Fire and Sword. The trailer also shows that Poland is under threat by a guy named Gustav Adolf, which doesn’t bode well for the Polish villagers in the game.

Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword builds and expands on the highly regarded combat system. This game is set in a later, more modern period, and firearms have been introduced to the battlefield. Muskets and pistols can now be used as side arms in hand-to-hand (mounted) combat. In addition to the enhanced single-player mode, this game also provides a host of original multiplayer content including a new game mode – Captain. In this mode up to 16 players each command a squad of soldiers. The single player campaign has multiple endings for high replay-ability, with enhanced siege mechanics like storm the castle, bribe an officer, or poison the well. If you liked Warband but wished it had guns, then Mount & Blade With Fire and Sword is for you. g

AT A GLANCE: Wield muskets and pistols rather than been stuck with musket-men infantry and the like. Developer: TaleWorlds Publisher: Paradox Distributor: Apex Interactive

32

Jun 2011 Platforms

Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword

Charge into Battle

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


Virtua Tennis 4

Smashing!

Real motion and 3D? Awesome! by Walt Pretorius

T

ennis games are pretty much as old as video gaming itself. Some of the very first commercially available games were based on tennis (things like Pong) and the love affair that gamers seem to have with the sport is far from waning. In fact, the introduction of motion sensing control systems last year for the PlayStation and Xbox 360 will only encourage more people to play virtual tennis games. That’s what Sega seem to be betting on with the release of Virtua Tennis 4. As an example, the PS3 version of the game will utilise

the Move system, and the motion sensing that this offers will allow the player a greater variety of shot types and strengths than ever before. Even subtle soft shots will be easier to deliver, thanks to this system. Naturally, the game will differ on the three platforms it will be arriving on, so a test play in-store might be a good idea, if possible. Virtua Tennis 4 will also support 3D technology, making it quite the tennis experience. We wonder if players will have problems with 3D glasses falling off while they prance around the lounge, but that’s neither here nor there. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega Distributor: Nu Metro gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011

Q2 2011 Platforms

With support for motion control and 3D, this may as close as you will get to the real thing...

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

33


Engage in the battle of Stalingrad

by Charlie Fripp

T

here have been a plethora of games exploring WWII and the various operations within it, but not a lot of those focus specifically on one aspect of the war. For the same argument, only a handful of titles allow gamers to play exclusively with the Axis. Red Orchestra has been one of the games, and the sequel is due on the shelves pretty soon. In Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, gamers will experience the horrors and triumphs of one of the war’s most brutal battles – the Battle For Stalingrad. The game will involve two separate campaigns, focussing on the Russian and German armies during this

battle. The FPS will also have vicious multiplayer matches, as well as co-op and solo modes. In the solo campaigns, the game will use the multiplayer maps to covey the Stalingrad battle from both the German and the Russian sides, making for some heavy fire fights. But players won’t be alone in the battle, as they will make use to the Command system to direct fire teams in certain areas. The game will definitely put a new spin on the WWII FPS genre, but whether it can breathe new life into the style, is yet to be seen. g

AT A GLANCE: A game packed with vicious action, this might breathe some new life into the WWII FPS genre Developer: Tripwire Publisher: 1C Publishing Distributor: TBC

34

Apr 2011 Platforms

Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

Push Ahead!

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


Crash Time 4

Shadow, Chase, Crash Patrolling the streets of Cologne

by Dylan Bouch

B

ased on a German T.V series Alarm Für Cobra 11, Crash Time 4 sets the scene in which the gamer will play as a highway cop. You’ll be playing as the main characters, Semir and Ben, chasing down organised criminals known as the “Syndicate” who are trying to gain control of the city. Set in the city of Cologne, Germany, the gamer patrols the streets and responds to calls on the radio. This leads to following Syndicate members for clues or more information on the whereabouts of their secret hideouts, high speed chases, and street and circuit racing. Crash Time 4 is an action packed game. All the action takes place in Cologne, with beautiful

graphics and realistic environments. The only issue I noticed was there were no pedestrians on the streets or sidewalks. With a variety of 35 vehicles and all sorts of high speed chases, the gamer is guaranteed to be involved in a movie scene car crash. The gamer will be in the car most of the game, driving through a detailed city with eight square kilometers of drivable city streets and highways. The gamer will have complete freedom playing this title with optional side missions to choose from. In split screen player two can play as the villain while player one plays as the cop. There will be a online multiplayer, in which up to eight players can play either a standard street race or destruction derby and a checkpoint race. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Synetic Publisher: DTP Entertainment Distributor: TBC gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011

Mar 2011 Platforms

Crash Time 4 will keep audiences coming back for more with high speed crashes and realistic graphics.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

35


Dungeon Siege III

Defend the Kingdom The Legion has the answer for everything

by Charlie Fripp

T

he action RPG game Dungeon Siege has captured the many hearts of PC gamers, and later this year console gamers will also get a taste of the fantasy world which has been a franchise since early 2000. Chris Taylor, the original creator of the first Dungeon Siege will once again have a finger in the proverbial pie, serving as an advisor to the latest iteration, Dungeon Siege III. It will also be the first Dungeon Siege game to be published through Square Enix after it acquired the franchise and complete ownership. In the third instalment, the plot returns to the kingdom of Ehb and will mainly focus on the 10th Legion. It’s the

classic tale of an empire which has fallen in to ruin, and it will be up to a small group of warriors to restore peace in the land. As hinted to in the beginning, it will be the first Dungeon Siege game available on high-definition consoles, which is a good thing as it will attract more players to the franchise. Players will also be able to rope in the support of other players, as they set off for some co-op missions. Most of the character classes will be customisable and feature a wide range of combat options, and with a deep story and excellent graphics, the game is sure to make its mark in the RPG genre. g

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

36

May 2011 Platforms

With Chris Taylor’s involvement, fans will know exactly what they are going to get.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

gamecca preview • issue 21 • March 2011


WSC Real 11

Splitting the Rack Hitting the corner pocket is the trick

by Charlie Fripp

W

e have all played it at one time of our lives, but snooker isn’t one of the most popular games to be played on a console. It’s actually a very niche market, but the fans are dedicated and every year a new iteration will make its way onto the shelves. WSC Real 11 is due to be pocketed in April, and with it, fans of the game will be in for a real treat. Not only will the game support online play, making it possible for fans from around the globe to compete for a trophy, but they will be able to replay any shot.

The game supports a new graphics engine and great lighting and gamers will be able to rewind time and play shots again, over and over. The Replay system has also been given a bit of a tweak, as replays can now be watched in super slow-motion from any angle. Not only will all the top players from the current 2010/2011 season be available to play as, or play against, but all the official tournaments from the 2010/2011 season will also be included. g

AT A GLANCE: Developer: Dark Energy Publisher: Koch Media Distributor: TBC gamecca preview • issue 21 • Marc h 2011

Apr 2011 Platforms

With the current season and players included, the games should be a blast for any snooker fan.

PC X360 PS3 Wii PSP DS PS2

37


is coming

1 1 . 3 16.0


motorstorm.com


Hooked (Up)! PS Zealot

by Suvesh Arumugam

W

e’ve known for a while that the future of gaming would be online. While we in South Africa are only discovering the phenomenon called “unlimited bandwidth”, the rest of the world has been building massive online gaming communities. It’s been almost like a return to the playground, with kids having to get along with other kids they don’t like. Rich kids who have more stuff, playing with the new kids who don’t know what’s cool or what’s very uncool. I’ve heard stories of players getting heckled out of games (thanks to the miracle of eyetoy’s built-in microphone), players refusing to revive others, and that type of stuff. Although it gets pretty nasty, I have friends who will now play a game online for weeks before even looking at the story mode. It also seems like many people are now joining the online fraternity for the first time, which is fantastic. It gives them an opportunity to play against staunch gamers and improve (though the rating money system pretty much guarantees that as a level 1 Rookie, all you’re gonna be doing is dying for a while), and it also creates an amazing network. Aside

from gaming with people from all over the world, with big titles like FIFA and COD, people from work or college can meet each other in games online, and get introduced to each other’s friends in games. Though clearly one has to keep up with the community. I recently logged onto COD’s online servers to look for a game, and just about every lobby was empty. It also happened to be on the day of release of Killzone 3. Normally I’m in a game within a minute; I tried for over 30 minutes!! Although Killzone 3 is definitely the hot ticket for early 2011, I’m still looking forward to Fight Night Champion. The fifth chapter of the series promises even more realism, lots of new fitness and strategy

systems, and a list of amazing boxers to play as like Mike Tyson, Muhammed Ali, Roberto Duran, and more. And first peeks of Battlefield 3 were released this week, for those FPS fans that feel COD and Killzone don’t have the realism of the DICE series. Battlefield 3 will certainly feature amazing online gameplay. EIDOS and Rocksteady also released some tantalizing first looks at Batman Arkham City. But still another 6 months at least before we’ll get to play that. Sony announced a worldwide US$40 slash on PSP prices, in anticipation of the imminent release of the touchscreen New Generation Portable (NGP). It may also be to divert attention from the very successful release of the 3DS in Japan. With only ten titles available, the latest Nintendo handheld still managed to sell out in stores throughout Japan. The 3DS is yet to be released in the US. If you haven’t bought Killzone 3 yet, do yourself a favour and pick up the Collector’s Edition. This awesome, specially packaged version also includes extra themes, maps as well as the soundtrack of the game. Well worth the extra R100! And now I have some Helghast to kill. g

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


The Transplant Xbox Beat

by Author’s Name

S

o my first Xbox red ringed. I sat there looking at it. Flashing at me. I was stunned. Everybody talks about it. I just never thought anything like this would happen to me. My Xbox and I were having fun one minute and then redring, dead the next. Gone. Taken from me and she was only 3 years old. Why are the good ones always taken so young? I stared at her. I did not want to go through the swap out process (which is very easy and simple but I’m lazy) Then the 8 year old in me came screaming out. “I wonder what it looks like inside?” So I cut the warranty stickers. Now I can’t swap it out. (The price of curiosity.) Well to say the least the inside of the Xbox360 is amazing but not surprising. With that curiosity satisfied, I hopped of the couch to go and look for a new Xbox Arcade unit as all my content was on my old 20GB drive. With my new Arcade Unit I realised that I could only play my games from Xbox LIVE if I was connected to the service, as they still seemed to say that they were trial versions of the games. This included some of the downloadable content. Enter Xbox’s Licence Transfer Process. This allows users of the Service to be able to move the license for a title on piece of content to the new Xbox360 and to have all the features of that content restored to full working, non-trial version, order. To begin this process you need a computer, your Xbox360 and both

of these devices connected to a broadband internet connection. Step 1: Visit www.xbox.com/drm. This part of the Xbox site will explain this process and offers a link to the FAQ section. The link to the FAQ section is http://www.xbox.com/enGB/Support/LicenseMigration/FAQ. The FAQ deals with information about what the transfer tool is, why it was created, how often you can go through this process and what licenses are not transferable, to name a few. To complete step one you need to click the link that reads: “Start the license transfer process now.” Step 2: This will load a new page showing a table with the Console ID of any console/ consoles that you own and what licenses are on those consoles. I have 191 licenses that needed to be transferred to the new console. Your new console, or the one you want the licenses transferred to, will be signed out of Xbox LIVE and you will need to sign in again. When you sign in again, the Console that signs in will be deemed the new console and all the licenses will be transferred to that console. This process must be complete within 30 minutes of you initiating it for it to happen smoothly. If this is not done you will need to begin the process again. What is important to note is that this can only be done once every 12 months. So only do this is you really need to.

Step 3: Back to the PC we go to see that that your Live account has picked up the ID of the new console and is ready to being moving the licenses. Step 4: On your Xbox again. You will need to go to Account management then to Download History. From here you will need to select an item and click Download Again. You will need to repeat this process for all the items on this list. (Remember that I had 191 licenses) To speed up this process you can pop back over to your PC and sign into your Xbox LIVE account at www. xbox.com and visit the purchase history there. A list of all your content will be there are you will be able to easily and very quickly add these items your download queue. Now sign back into Xbox LIVE on your console and just like magic your console will begin the process for you. Gosh darn it, the Xbox team thinks of everything! g

This page is provided by Xbox Gamer 42

www.xboxgamer.co.za


PGV LucasArts and the LucasArts logo are trademarks of Lucasfilm, Ltd. 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd, or Lucasfilm Ltd, & TM as indicated. All rights reserved, LEGO, the LEGO and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. 2005-2011 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved. ‘ ‘, Playstation, ‘PS3’, ‘PSP’ and ‘ ‘ are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. ‘PS3’ is a trademark of the same company. All rights reserved. Nintendo DS and Wii are trademarks of Nintendo. KINECT, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners. All rights reserved.


Good Story? House of Mario

by Brian Murdoch

S

ome of the best games ever have been made with a mind blowing story, but is it crucial in every game? Do we, as players, notice that some games don’t have any story to them but are still good? The thought came to me when playing the latest DS title, Harvest Moon Extreme Farming. It is a puzzle game where the player rotates crops for the farming sprite to gather them. The tutorial was long and detailed, it taught the player in a basic and slow manner which is needed because the game can overwhelm players on their first try. What really got me was, after the tutorial, I went into the quick missions, missing the story. The quick missions are just that, the extra instant challenges that are extras like a side order of bread. Upon finishing them I thought that the game was done, but was surprised that it was shorter than the tutorial… where was the main meal? I did prejudge the game to be a small and short title but as a reviewer I needed to push through that and check all the corners of the game. In the end I found the story and WOW! It is a very complex story-line, like a murder mystery game, and looking at the problem only through the eyes of each character in it. I would have been very upset if the game did not have a story and am now very pleased with the puzzling nature of the game and story combined. Think of the games that have high sales with no story at all, or not even games that you enjoyed because of the pure fun factor… The

examples are few and far between on the other HD consoles, but the Nintendo consoles have the tools to make really creative games and not just a pretty picture. The games like Killzone 3, Gears of War 3 and Call of Duties all have their updated and new story with extra this and bonus that, and some of them actually rely on this to get the game sold. Or the fact that the multiplayer has been upgraded to the same but you can’t play with your friends unless you have the new one. But look at games like Track Mania, Bejewelled, Brain Training, Mario Sports Mix, Wii Sports Resort (and these are just the ones I’ve been playing in the last

month). These titles are a success despite the lack of a story. Breaking down a game into its different elements for a complete analysis is our job, so don’t worry too much about it. This just a little something to think about for you, as a gamer, and what you look for in a good game. It is known that gamers look for enjoyment, goals and some a sense of completion in games but what else makes the game good for you? Don’t worry if you find that it something as shallow as “any game with Mario in it”, because you are not alone and understanding this consciously will help when picking the next game to buy. g

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Reviews Highlights 48 Bulletstorm Kill with skill! 52 Dead Space 2 The necromorphs return 56 Killzone 3 Battling on Helghan again 60 Test Drive Unlimited 2 For the joy of driving 70 Dungeons Dig deep...

A

nd so the flood starts. Yes, it needs to still pick up pace a bit, but the next few issues of Gamecca are guaranteed to be heaving with great games on review. To kick things off, we have Bulletstorm, Dead Space 2, Killzone 3, Test Drive Unlimited 2 and a bunch of other great games. And, due to arrive very shortly, there are things like Fight Night: Champion, The Sims: Medieval and Dragon Age II on the list. It’s like Christmas all over again... this is a great time to be a gamer! g

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gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011


Bulletstorm

Rude, Lewd… … and crammed with attitude!

P

rior to the release there was a lot of noise surrounding Bulletstorm. On one side you had the mother grundies saying that this game would turn all our kids into mass-murdering rapists. On the other side were the critics saying that the game just didn’t cut it – even though they admitted that their opinion was based on videos and the demo (which are hardly a basis for this kind of statement.) What all of this did was generate a lot of interest in the game, rather than the desired shunning of it. I know I was more interested to see what People Can Fly would deliver with this title. I mean, really – here’s game that has been accused of being too violent, to explicit and just too plain old rude on one side, and being an utter waste of time on the other… which reviewer wouldn’t want to see what was going on there? In the end, both groups were not quite right with their statements. In fact, many of the statements were completely wrong. Bulletstorm is a great experience, if you accept it for what it is, and one that delivers tons of

48

by Walt Pretorius action and more than a few chuckles. The player takes on the role of Grayson Hunt, the once leader of an elite military squad called Dead Echo. However, when Hunt and his squad mates find out that an unscrupulous General is using them to eliminate innocent targets, he and the crew go AWOL, becoming space-faring pirates. A life of debauchery ensues as they dodge the forces of the Confederacy they once served. But when the chance to take General Sarrano out presents itself, Gray (in a drunken stupor) makes a call that ends with the bulk of his crew dead, and the survivors marooned on a savage, once inhabited planet. It sounds like an OK premise for a game that is filled with near mindless violence, but the thing is that People Can Fly did more than throw a semi-plausible plot together as an excuse for lots of virtual violence. One of the most surprising aspects of the game is the fact that it actually has a decent plot (if not the most original) that is filled with little nuances and ideas that set it a bit higher than the average game story these days. And these added

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elements come from the characters. There is no two dimensionality here; these characters are fleshed out and even believable at times. Yes, Grayson may be a smacktalking potty-mouth, but inside he is ripped up by his actions, the fact that his drunken quest for vengeance brought misery and death to so many people. Ishi is a balance between his loyalty to Gray and his outrage at Gray’s actions. Trishka Novak is a character that comes up a little later in the game, and she too has more complex motivations than one might expect. Even the planet that the action takes place on is a character in the story, to a degree. It is a very dangerous place, crawling with mutants, massive monsters and very dangerous plant-life. But it wasn’t always like that and, as the story progresses, the player learns more about the history of this world. A decent story, solid characters and a detailed setting all work towards one thing – a franchise. And, if the ending of the game is anything to go by, we will see more Bulletstorm in the future. Whether that is a good thing

gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

or not depends on your experience with the title… in my book, I cannot wait. The core game play is… well, shooting stuff. People, mostly, but there are a few plants and the like that need a good seeing to as well. The action is fast paced, intense and brutal, and is based on a skill-shot system. What this means is that taking out enemies in certain ways earns you a number of points. These points can then be spent to buy ammo and weapon modifications at numerous supply drops that the player will encounter during the game. These skill shots are further enhanced by a sort of electro-magnetic leash that the player uses to pull enemies towards them, or manipulate marked elements of the setting. So, for example, kicking an enemy and then blasting him full of bullets will earn you a “bulletkick” point award, while booting a guy off of a ledge will result in a “vertigo” point bonus. There are hundreds of these to earn and discover, with some being a bit… suggesting (hence part of the outcry about the game.) There’s the ‘rear-entry’ for

49


shooting someone in the butt, the ‘double penetration’, which is awarded in multiplayer games when two players shoot the same enemy and the ‘nut-cracker’ for… well, I am sure you can figure that one out. Yes, they are suggestive names. But that’s part of the reason why this game has an 18 age restriction. Kids shouldn’t be playing this one at all. Parents, do your job here! But even this rather unique skill system has an explanation in the game – it wasn’t thrown in “just because”. We’re not going to go into detail, but the “survival of the fittest soldier” concept behind it feels plausible. Each weapon unlocks a number of new opportunities for awesome “skill-kills’ as well. Another reason why the game shouldn’t be played by youngsters is the presentation. The graphics are beautiful and, well, graphic. We have seen worse, but Bulletstorm doesn’t pull too many visual punches. Even more, though, is the dialogue. It is extremely… colourful… with the F word being thrown around like confetti at a wedding. And some of the phrases and comments that the characters make are screechingly funny, and completely inappropriate. I would quote one or two, but this is a family

50

show. The voice acting is exemplary, as well, with the lines feeling natural and witty, rather than forced and directed. Bulletstorm also presents a fun multiplayer aspect, in which players will need to act as a team to get some of the skill-kills. It might wear a bit thin after a while but, for now, we’re having a great time with it. The only multiplayer competition within the game comes in the form of leaderboards for replaying missions. While this may seem like a bad idea at first, the paradigm of the game means that it makes sense… skill-kills against other humans would be very difficult to deliver effectively. The shine may wear off of the multiplayer for many, though… The only real downside is that the game is linear. That said, it doesn’t feel that way while playing through the rather long, frantic single player campaign. Bulletstorm, with its new ideas and ways of doing things, brings a breath of fresh air to the FPS genre. For all the criticism and controversy, it’s something of a triumph for People Can Fly, and it will become a solid cult classic, if not more. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have an off-beat sense of humour, are not easily offended and want tons of action, Bulletstorm is the way to go. g

gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011


Frantic, fast and furious, this game is one of the fresher FPS titles we’ve seen for a while. Developer: People Can Fly Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

AT A GLANCE:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

90 51


Dead Space 2

Isaac’s Return He’s back, and he’s mad… literally.

2

008 saw a bunch of new IPs hitting the market, in terms of video games. These new franchises (or potential franchises, at least) had a tough time of it… the year is still notorious for the number of big name releases that arrived in the last quarter, and new IPs had to contend with not only a massive number of well publicised sequels, but also a looming economic issue on the whole. The result was that a number of the new titles didn’t do very well. Games like Mirror’s Edge didn’t receive the attention they deserved from consumers, who were more prone to spend their hard-earned cash on things that were more recognisable. But not every new IP suffered from this; Dead Space, a new sci-fi survival horror game from EA, did just fine. It’s no surprise at all that Dead Space has officially become a franchise, with the second game in the series being very well received so far. But it isn’t really the same experience as the first time around, and some may see a number of the changes as damaging to the idea of

52

by Walt Pretorius

survival horror as a whole. But, before we jump the gun, let’s start at the beginning… Dead Space 2 sees the return of Isaac Clarke, the unfortunate engineer who had to learn to fight in a hurry in the first game when the ship he was on, the USG Ishimura, was overrun by terrifying undead monsters called Necromorphs. Armed with an engineer suit and a futuristic version of a cutting torch, he had to blast his way through hordes of enemies – or rather, dismember his way through them. Headshots meant very little in the first game, and they have the same relevance in the second. But at the start of Dead Space 2, we meet a very different kind of man in the form of Isaac. He is not the frightened engineer anymore – rather, he is a man who has walked through hell and lived to tell the tale. He is harder, tougher and is slowly losing his mind. This makes for an interesting twist on the narrative of Dead Space 2. If Isaac had been the same guy as before, the game’s story would have certainly suffered, and the whole title would have been a series of fairly linear, ‘go there and do that’

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missions. Instead, the game has a powerful story on multiple levels. Not only is Isaac battling a new outbreak of Necromorphs (three years after the first time they came a-callin’) but he is battling with his guilt (over the death of his girlfriend aboard the Ishimura) and the affects that the previous experiences had on him. The continuation of the story, and the progression of the protagonist, are excellent – almost on a level with the likes of that other sci-fi favourite, Mass Effect. The result of this character is one of the new aspects of the title that some people may not be all that crazy about. See, Isaac might be afraid in Dead Space 2, but he isn’t petrified anymore. This means that the game is far more action oriented than the previous game. Personally, I thought it was an excellent touch, and one that tied in with the character progression. When the inevitable Dead Space 3 comes out, Isaac is going to be a real bad-ass. With the increase in action comes a nifty arsenal of weapons. The old favourites like the Ripper and Cutter

gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

are naturally still there, with a few new extras to make things go boom or, more accurately, splat. The combat has been trimmed up, too – Isaac’s movements are more fluid and quicker, and the controls feel so much better than the original game. Weapons and armour can be upgraded, of course, and there are a number of suits for Isaac to use during the course of the game. Each playthrough unlocks new suits, adding a reason for players to experience the roughly eight-hour single player saga over and over again. Not that too much of a reason is needed; Dead Space 2 is exciting, nerve-jangling fun. The game is compelling and immersive, and replaying it doesn’t really get old. Even with a multiplayer element added, the single player game is attractive enough to allow numerous replays. Speaking of which, the multiplayer portion of the game feels a little tacked on. It has five modes and a handful of maps, and pits eight player against each other in two teams of four. Some players take the part of human soldiers, who generally deal out a lot of damage and have

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to perform a number of tasks to win the level. The other players are Necromorphs, who deal less damage, but are faster and seem to spawn faster. They have to stop the human team. In the end, in my experience, the humans rarely win. It’s fun, sure, but it doesn’t offer the rich addiction of the single player campaign. Visceral Games have created a beautiful setting for the second Dead Space game, which takes place aboard a mammoth space station. The graphics are clear, crisp and detailed… to give you an idea of the quality, even though the game has a relatively standard eight-hour length, it ships on two disks for Xbox 360. All that data has to be used for something, and it seems like graphics got the lion’s share. The game will pull the player through a somewhat linear experience, although that ‘point A to point B’ feel never actually impacts on the enjoyment of the title. Another element that would be annoying if the title wasn’t so down-right compelling is the fact that Isaac often feels

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like a bit of an errand boy, running around and doing stuff for other people. It does make some sense, though – he doesn’t know his environment too well, and his helping other people ultimately helps him in realising his own goals (which, after the death of his girlfriend, don’t go much beyond stomping the hell out of the Necromorphs.) There are some new Necromorph types, too, which verge on really disturbing, but we don’t want to spoil any surprises here. With a relentless pace, great story, awesome visuals, tons of action, solid controls and an overall feel that might just have you hiding under the covers and jumping at shadows in the dark, Dead Space 2 is an excellent action game. It might not be as scary as the first time around, but that also ties into the progression that Isaac has made as a character. Whatever the case may be, it’s an excellent single player experience, and a game that is well worth playing more than once. g

gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011


Fans of sci-fi, action and survival horror will not want to miss Visceral’s second journey to the Dead Space universe. Awesome! Developer: Visceral Games Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

AT A GLANCE:

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

94 55


Killzone 3

Surviving Helghan Outgunned, outnumbered…

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he shooter market is now so flooded with games that it takes something truly exceptional to stand out in the crowd. While Killzone 3 does not strictly fall into the category of ‘exceptional’, it does have enough going for it to rise above the norm. That said, one or two of the elements that make up the game could have done with a little more care on the side of the developers. Killzone 3 starts off exactly where the last game ended. With the death of their leader, the Helghast are in disarray, as various factions try to take control of the Empire. They aren’t in so much trouble that they can’t give the ISA some serious stick, though, and the player starts off (once again in the role of Sev) trying to escape the brutally shattered planet of Helghan. Things don’t go too smoothly, though, and Sev and his squad mates are left on the planet, fighting to survive and remain hidden from the Helghast. But soon a plot that threatens all of humanity comes to light, and it is up to the handful of ISA stragglers to save the day. The story is one of the parts of the game that really

56

by Walt Pretorius doesn’t deliver the goods. We’ve seen it a hundred times before. But, with that said, it really doesn’t matter. The story is purely a basis to allow the player to enjoy non-stop action. And that is something that the game has in spades. It will keep pounding at the player with wave upon wave of pretty smart AI enemies, all cloaked in the ‘evil empire’ look that makes the Helghast so much fun to shoot at. The levels that the player passes through are breathtaking in their scope and design. With plentiful supplies and lots of sensible cover, the player will be able to stay in the thick of the fight for the whole game. AI buddies will also resuscitate you if you’re taken down, although too many of these incidents will render the player’s character unrescuable. The action sequences are interspersed with impressive set pieces and cut-scenes, all of which seamlessly integrate with the experience. The game is very linear, but the developers have avoided frustration and boredom setting in by allowing the player access to other ways of killing the Helghast. These include space battles and vehicle combat, which break what could become a pedantic, repetitive experience up rather nicely.

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Still, just like the story, this doesn’t become a dealbreaker. It would have been nice to see a bit more depth to the characters, but there is nothing in that lack that ruins the feel of the game. The developers have included several options, including 3D support (which speaks for itself) and an option to use the Move control system, rather than the traditional controller. While the Move is fun with Killzone 3, it doesn’t trump the traditional controller. It’s really more of a fun option than a must-play aspect of the game. Speaking of must-play, Killzone 3 offers some excellent multiplayer action, with three game modes available for online play. Co-op is conspicuous in its absence online, although it can be played locally. Killzone 3 is the best game yet in the franchise, showing good progression in all technical aspects. Fans will certainly love it, and those that enjoy shooters should certainly consider it as a solid PS3 option. g

AT A GLANCE: This third instalment of the Killzone franchise is the best yet, with tons of action and awesome graphics. Developer: Guerrilla Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

The control has also seen some improvement, although they still do not ascribe to the control scheme that most other shooters use. While it is within the developer’s rights to do whatever they like with control schemes, the departure from what has become the accepted ‘norm’ for shooting games means that the player may, at times, pay the price for hitting the wrong button. That’s ok, because the game is generally forgiving, and doesn’t punish the player overly much for deaths. However, occasionally the player may become victim to a cycle of cheap deaths; getting taken down in the wrong spot means that once the character is revived he’s pretty much going to go down again right away. It’s annoying, but the player is largely to blame for rushing in. The game isn’t about run-and-gun as much as a careful picking off of enemies. Charging blindly into combat is a bad idea. The other area that the developers could have put a little more effort into is that of the characters themselves. They’re the same ‘good old boys’ that we ran into in the previous game; they lack depth and motivation, feeling more like two-dimensional grunts than human beings.

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

88 57


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Test Drive Unlimited 2

A Testing Drive Eden’s sequel to the world’s first MMO racer

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hose who played the original Test Drive Unlimited for more than a few hours will remember what made the game awesome. It wasn’t the flurry of DLC car packs, bringing a handful of exotic cars to the game’s virtual dealerships. Nor was it the lifestyle aspect, where you were tasked with chores such as dropping people off, delivering supercars to new owners. The selection of racing events and challenges were also not what endeared the game to its faithful audience. No, the thing that made the original TDU so fun was its open world, and community engagement. Unlike traditional games, where you go online and find people to play with, TDU’s world was always online and always interactive. I have fond memories of just getting the game and driving down the highway in my lowly starter car. I wasn’t driving anywhere in specific – I just wanted to explore the island. So there I was, on the arrowstraight highway, maxing out my car at about 200km/h. I thought I was making heady progress, until I passed by a motorcycle doing many kilometres per hour more than my little hatchback. Hot on his tail were two Ferraris.

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by Christo van Gemert

These weren’t just other cars in the game. They were other players. I didn’t join their game and they didn’t join mine. The game just had us all on the same server, and in that instance we were both on the highway going in the same direction. From then, I was hooked. Of the many flaws TDU had, its sequel fixes some. Graphics are a bit better, but nowhere near the classleaders. Sounds are really good – cars emit rumbles and pops closely imitating those produced by their real life counterparts. The weather system is fantastic and the daynight cycle is a great new addition, too. Where we really wanted to see improvement is in the game’s physics engine. In the first game, this was a sore point. Cars were easily able to get airborne over the slightest undulations in the road. Now, they feel more planted and it’s easier to keep control of your car. This does come with a catch, though: in TDU2 you’re given a choice of five camera angles. Two chase cams, where you see the rear of your car, a cockpit view, a bonnet cam and a bumper cam. The latter two are what you need to be using for ultimate fun, because the former

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beaches in your Hummer H3, but the real meat is in the on-road sections, with those supercars. At the time of writing, it’s also a very buggy game. It’s not quite sure what happened, but some parts of the game’s online system are horribly broken. Getting together with your actual friends, from your Xbox Live friends list, is a real nightmare. For reasons unknown, the game has its own friend list and that doesn’t work at all. Nor does the system that is supposed to keep you linked with your friends, no matter where you are on the island. Car clubs also make a return, but for now they’re unusable. The developer and publisher has been taking a lot of complaints from disgruntled gamers on its forum, so things are bound to be sorted out soon. At the moment, though, it’s a bit of a crapshoot. When it eventually does get fixed, TDU2 will be huge fun. You’ll be able to hook up with your buddies, set a waypoint on the GPS and just cruise on the highway, doing illegal speeds in magnificent cars. And if that doesn’t sound like fun, you’re probably a Communist. g

AT A GLANCE:

It can be a real fun romp in the countryside, when it works. Developer: Eden Publisher: Atari Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

three are fatally flawed in a way that makes the game’s physics seem at fault for your horrible crashes. Long story short: the cameras sway towards the direction in which you are steering. This gets disorienting very quickly when you go into a slide and correct to the opposite direction, and the camera sways that way, amplifying the effects of your inputs. Viewpoint issues aside, the game plays very solidly. It’s fun to just drive around – and that is what the original game was about. There is a story, and I use that term loosely, which sees your character entered into a race series called the Solar Crown, but what this is really about is playing with your online friends in the open world. With two islands – Ibiza and Oahu - and 3 000 kilometres of driveable road, things look good. At least, they do on paper. In execution, it’s slightly different. The starting island, Ibiza, is a lot smaller than Oahu. The latter was used in the first game and has 1 000km of tarred roads, while the balance of 2 000km in TDU2 is split between off-road trails and the tarred roads in Ibiza. Sure, there are SUVs now and you can go exploring mountains and

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

72 61


Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

Oddity

Some strange character choices…

S

ometimes the video game industry manages to produce something that is odd. Not necessarily bad, mind you – just odd. Some of the cross-over fighting games, like MK vs DC Universe, fall into that category. But that title doesn’t take the cake when it comes to unusual groupings of characters. The accolade, rather, goes to Marvel vs Capcom. The third instalment of this franchise has been a long time coming, and fighting game fans are undoubtedly happy to have another of their favourite style of game arrive. But if it had been Marvel vs Street Fighter, the game might have made a bit more sense. Then all the characters would have had a more solid, less vague tie-in with each other… at least, they would have on the Capcom side of things, where the whole “oddness” stems from. Capcom went broad, though, and grouped together characters from a wide variety of games, including a few Street Fighter characters. Even Dante from Devil May Cry makes sense, because he can fit into the genre, by

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by Walt Pretorius

and large. But Viewtiful Joe? On screen the character is a short little dude with a large head. It doesn’t really seem to fit – and he’s not even the strangest of characters to make an appearance. On the Marvel side, they also made a few strange choices. Sure, stalwarts like Wolverine, Iron Man, SpiderMan and the Hulk are all present, but X-23? Talk about obscure. Thankfully, the action soon wipes out any ideas of strange combinations. In fact, these strange combinations are what makes the game so entertaining. While the previous game had around 60 playable characters, this outing only offers 36, if you count the four unlockable faces that are added to the roster as the player progresses through the game. But, with the three member tag team style of the game, numerous combinations are possible. In fact, finding combinations that work well, where the characters’ powers complement each other, is one of the most fun aspects of the game. Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds is a 2D fighter,

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There are no special modes, no extra bits and no elements beyond the fight. That’s all fine and well, but the game does get pretty stale rather quickly, even when playing against a human opponent. For those that don’t want to tackle the complexities of a typical fighter’s special move controls, a simplified control scheme is also included. This maps special moves to the face buttons (with one face button being a standard attack.) While this does make the game a lot easier to handle for less experienced or more casual players, it excludes a number of the more powerful attacks completely… special move combinations no longer work when using this control mode. As far as fighting games go, Marvel vs Capcom 3 is fun, as long as you’re fighting. But the lack of depth beyond the matches is disappointing. Other than unlocking four characters, there really isn’t much for the player to do here, which may leave a sour taste in the mouths of many achievement driven players. g

AT A GLANCE:

PS3

While the fights are fun, the overall game lacks depth and a sense of achievement

PC X360

Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Distributor: Nu Metro Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ gamecca review • issue 21 • Marc h 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Platforms

with no fancy side stepping and 3D movement. The graphic style is 3D though, and the character models and effects look pretty good. The environments are also rather cool, despite the fact that they are essentially flat. Controlling the game is a little different than before, and veteran fighter players may take a little adjustment to Capcom’s new approach with this one. See, instead of the usual two kicks and two punches, the controller face buttons are mapped to light, medium and heavy attacks, as well as one special attack. The player can switch between characters easily enough, and can even call in lightning fast tag-team attacks for a little extra punch. While the control scheme does imply that the game is all about button mashing, a clever player who uses a bit of strategy in attacks and swapping of characters will trump a masher nine times out of ten. There is a great amount of depth to the in-fight strategy… but that’s all the depth the game offers. The single player mode features versus, and missions… and that’s about it. Even the missions are only about performing certain moves and move combinations.

Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

75 63


DC Universe Online

Heroes and Villains Join the massive DC Universe

D

C Universe Online is an action massive multiplayer online game and it is truly big, complex and long. Let’s start with the game’s story: There is an epic battle between the good and evil in the DC Universe. Superman is out in space, close to the sun (recharging) and Lex Luthor has taken this opportunity to strike. Using his tricking ways he is able to call and catch Superman off guard and kill him. During Lex’s victorious chant his attention is drawn, by a dying Superman, to the fact that he has not won but doomed the whole world to another, greater evil. Lex finds a way to travel back in time to warn us and make almost everyone in the world some type of super-human. This is where the player steps up to the plate to help the world survive. If you have never played any MMOs before then DC Universe is a good place to start, and not only because of the great DC Comics playground where players are able to fly over Metropolis like Superman or hide in the

64

by Brian Murdoch shadows like Batman; it’s the action-game role-playing progression that makes it so enjoyable. Character creation is very customisable and does not feel like Sims at all. The player first chooses to be a super-hero or a super-villain. Body sizes are limited to three types but the designs and detail come down to the different boots and colours that they wear. Players can start with examples and customise from there or just start from scratch. Right after the character creation the player is thrown right into the fight, unlike other games in which tutorials and tasks need to be done before heading out into the world. The game is graphically beautiful. There is some lag from the South African side of things but this is only at times and not bad enough to make you not want to play. I did hit a few bumps and glitches in the game but nothing that’s not expected for a game this big. The menus and screens to level up the character are very well thought out and organised… most times this is

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We have to mention some of the bad points that players will have to work through before completely enjoying the title. There are epic update downloads aside from the great install space taken on your console. If DC Universe Online does not take over your life because of its MMO nature then the fact that not much more can be installed on your PlayStation will. Don’t worry about how much bandwidth is takes during gameplay because if you can afford the GB updates then the MBs used to play are nothing. The load times are long and the same pictures are displayed again and again - they are rotated at times but not enough. There is a monthly fee but as mentioned before these are things expected from this type of game, although the first 30 days are free in case you don’t like it… but you can’t trade it in after that. MMORGs that are free are often “you get what you pay for” and with DC Universe Online it’s almost worth its cost. g

AT A GLANCE: Got the bandwidth and the money for monthly subscriptions? Then you are in for a DC Universe world of fun. Developer: Sony Only Entertainment Publisher: SCEE Distributor: Ster Kinekor

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

12+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PS3 Platforms

not done well on the consoles. The journal is adaptive as players can chose from the different tracks and jumping from story to side quests quite easily. The automatic levelling is also done so that it does not interfere with the action in the game. Those players that want to go into the details of the skills and powers can, while beginners are able to choose cool sounding powers and keep running around. The skills can be hot keyed to the buttons on the PS3 controller, which is helpful as we don’t have a keyboard with short cuts. Just holding the R2 or L2 button changes what the x, circle, square and triangle buttons will do. The only rushing will be to level 10, where big powers and grouping up in quests with other players come in. The game would just fall under other action games until level 10 brings the real MMO elements to it. Levels one through nine might be a pain at times because other supers might come into your town and beat players up just because they are on the other side.

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

79 65


Dr Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises

What’s your Brain Age? Maths Plus Phys Ed = ?

H

aving had much success with his games on the Nintendo DS, which started the brain training craze, renowned Japanese neuroscientist Dr. Kawashima is back. This time on Xbox and using the power of Kinect with Brain and Body Exercises. It is a puzzle game that utilises your Xbox avatar and asks mental questions but requires that the answers be performed through physical actions. The game’s goal is to reinforce the mental answers by having them be drilled into the player through the use of motion controls. At the start of the game, the player is required to take a test that lasts around ten minutes in order to determine their ‘Brain Age’, much like the Nintendo DS video game by the same name. It must be stressed that the whole aim of the game is to work your brain while having fun. This is not a fitness title and while you may burn a few more calories than

66

by Alexia Pestana if you were sitting it isn’t physically demanding at all. By keeping the movements simple, the game is trying to appeal to the whole family. Brain and Body Exercises does involve family and friends. Players can compete in fun and engaging activities with up to four players taking turns to see who can achieve the youngest brain age. It also includes a daily progress tracker to make sure players are up to date with their current brain age as they continue to stimulate both mind and body. The mini-games fall into five categories: math, reflexes, logic, memory and physical. There are four games per category with all of them having the player thinking and moving. Of the twenty exercises themselves, most are really well thought out. Waving your arms, punching balloons and mice, and kicking footballs to solve match problems brings a welcome injection of interest, and keeping Pac-Man

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Mini-Games Included:

AT A GLANCE: A collection of great Kinect Minigames and fun to play for the whole family – until the novelty wears off. Developer: Namco Bandai Games Publisher: Namco Bandai Games Distributor: Megarom

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

A gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

away from those ghosts with just your hands will bring a smile to the face of any gamer. Some of the reflex-based stages are slightly annoying due to imprecise cursor controls that send the player’s hand smashing through a red balloon when they really wanted the yellow one. While doing the challenges often probably does help a players keep their brains active, is it much more beneficial than playing most other games? Surely calculating a perfectly timed grenade toss in CoD whilst giving orders to team mates and keeping an eye on everything else going on works your brain a great deal too? Including the word ‘body’ in the title also feels a little misleading as it is really all about brain training. If players want a title to show off the Kinect and to work their bodies, they would be far better off choosing a title like Fitness Evolved or the soon to be released Zumba Fitness. g

Math Jock – A simple addition or subtraction problem is displayed on the top of the screen while two soccer balls display different solutions. The object is to kick the ball that represents the answer into the net. Pop ‘Til you Drop – Pop the correct colour balloon Balloon Buster - Punch with your arms to pop numbered balloons in order from smallest to largest. What Time is it? - Players are giving a digital time and are required to show the analogue time on a clock using their arms as hands. Um… Touch ‘n Go - The screen is divided in two with Pac-Man and ghosts on the right and a Pac-Man fruit on the left. Help Pac-Man avoid ghosts with the right hand while trying to keep the left hand on fruit. Traffic Control – Lift bridges to guide colour coded vehicles to their respective exits. Other mini-games include activities such as holding up pizza boxes to catch the un-burnt pizzas coming down a 4 wide conveyer belt, and whacking mice sticking their heads out of drain pipes while trying to avoid the rats!

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

74 67


Mario Sports Mix

More Sports With Mario it’s fun

V

olleyball, basketball, dodge ball, and ice-hockey are just four sports and being a sport is the only thing that they have in common, until Mario and friends come around. Most of the previous Mario titles only focused on one sport, like Mario Strikers Charged Football, Super Smash Bros Brawl and Mario Kart Wii, but here you get four sports for the price of one. Does this mean that the sports are watered down and not as fleshed out as a game focusing on one sport? Mario has been improving sports for a long time now… let’s see what he has for this collection. The controls are simple and make use of the Wii features to give feeling of controlling the game with the right actions. Both the Wii remote and Nunchuk are suggested but just a Wii remote can be used on its own. Make sure you go through the basic and advanced tutorials before jumping into a game; they are not long and give the player an instant introduction to getting into the fun. Don’t leave it to your friends to give you all

68

by Brian Murdoch the controls as they will miss some out by accident (or on purpose). With four sports to choose from, players will not get bored with playing the same one and can mix around to play the others. My personal favourites are volleyball and dodge ball. Dodge ball is the one game where they change the rules a lot, for more fun during the game. To throw the ball flick the Wii remote and to catch it hold the A and B buttons at the right time. A is used to jump and shaking the Wii remote when you don’t have the ball will cause the player to dodge the ball. There are feints and power ups to attack in different ways. Players that have been knocked out go on the back line of the opposite team and they are able to receive the ball and hit a player to come back in. Catching the ball will only prevent the damage on the hit player. Basketball is great fun, even more fun than some other basketball games out there. Three pointers and slam dunks are plentiful here. There are feints in here to, to get

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makes them more of a strategy than a winning move. The range, of course, for the normal sports is great and each one has its own unique challenge or obstruction added to the game. Each sport has a different party game added, like “Feed Petey” for basketball. The players are not playing a game of basketball but rather a game with only Petey the Piranha Plant’s mouth as the goal for points. Players will grab the different low hanging fruits to throw into his mouth, but be careful as it’s not always open and he does not like that. The multiplayer does not stop at the one console… the Wi-Fi allows up to 4 human players in the game at the same time and two players on each console. This means that I can play against my uncle in the UK or team up with him and fight the AI. Even though there are only four sports in this title, Mario and friends can spice everything up. With the powers, special moves and even the great combos, the simplest of games turns into a fun event. g

AT A GLANCE: It might only be four sports but Mario and friends can brighten any game. Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Nintendo Distributor: Nintendo

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Wii Platforms

around the other players and score. There are no fouls in the game… taking out your opponent while they shoot is not only allowed but encouraged. Both volleyball and basketball have control just like they should, with up and down motions to throw up the ball, jump or perform a hit or dunk. Finally hockey and I say hockey because in most of the stadiums you are on rollerblades and not ice skates. The game is simple enough, with only 2 or 3 players on a team and AI goal keepers that are pretty dumb. The real sport here is a lot of bashing and bumping and most of the time is spent doing this, with the odd shot at the goal. In all the games the different characters have their various power ups that do different things. Some examples are Luigi with his Poltergust 3000 to suck players towards him, Junior’s messy paint causes players to slip around, Toad’s spinning mushrooms will bump into the other players, and lots more, with even a Mii special move. These moves are not imbalanced and are avoidable. This

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

70 69


Dungeons

Dig Deep

Being nasty has become fun again

N

ot too long ago, a friend and I were reminiscing about our favourite classics. One of the games that came up was Dungeon Keeper, and we noted that it would be cool to see a sequel. Obviously we weren’t the only ones thinking it… a great many people fondly remember the Dungeon Keeper franchise, and would love to see another game in the series. Realmforge must have known this, too, because their latest game would satisfy most people who enjoyed the Dungeon Keeper games. Dungeons is a similar game, in many respects, but it also departs from the Dungeon Keeper formula enough to turn it into its own entity, without needing to borrow too much. In Dungeons, the player controls a Dungeon Lord who was betrayed by his big-busted demonic girl-friend. He loses everything, but he and his sidekick decide to take revenge by taking on the whole of the underworld, building themselves back up to power. The game is presented as a series of ‘missions’ across three underground settings. Each setting, naturally, ends with a boss battle.

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by Walt Pretorius

The player will use goblins to dig out rooms and passages, collect gold and do all manner of other things to construct a dungeon. But this is where the similarity to Dungeon Keeper ends. See, Dungeons doesn’t work on the assumption of ‘if you build it, they will come.” Instead of hordes of heroes invading the dungeon that the player builds simply because it exists, they need to have some incentives. In the world of Dungeons, there are a number of different hero types, and each of these achieves a sense of fulfilment through various means. Each type of hero will have differing needs, but they come down to things like finding treasure, disarming traps, reading musty old books and sticking swords into the soft bits of monsters. If a hero gets all of these things and feel utterly fulfilled, their soul brims with energy… and it is this energy that the player’s dungeon lord is after. In order to get it, the player needs to fill their dungeon with treasures, traps, monsters and other interesting titbits that will make heroes want to come and explore their underground realm. And once the heroes are there, the player has to capture them and throw them in

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very simple, and on another, very complicated. Sadly, Dungeons is not a perfect game. It is very slow paced at times, and then breaks out in frantic activity in others – something of a pacing imbalance that is not a train-wreck, but can catch the player unawares. Far worse, however, is the game’s bugginess. Even after an almost 70mb patch, Dungeons may give you problems. These range from a bit of stuttering every now and then right through to catastrophic crashes that need you to replay an entire level. It’s frustrating, to say the least. Other bugs enter into the graphics at times, or control hotspots that are just a little too small. However, the game is worth pushing through these mishaps (even if means saving often and having to restart whole sections from time to time.) It’s not really a Dungeon Keeper clone, because it introduces a few very nifty new ideas. Suffice to say, forgiving gamers with a penchant for management and a nasty streak will likely love Dungeons. g

AT A GLANCE: Not as much of a Dungeon Keeper clone as you may think, this game is great fun (despite the bugs). Developer: Realmforge Publisher: Kalypso Distributor: Nu Metro Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

a prison cell, or even torture or sacrifice them, in order to harvest all that soul energy. Soul energy is but one of the currencies (or commodities) in Dungeons, but it is the one that will allow the player to raise their prestige. This is done by decorating the dungeon with weird and wonderful trinkets that will not only keeps heroes interested, but will also send out the message that a discerning dungeon lord presides over these particular catacombs. As prestige rises, so does the character’s ability to buy new items and so forth. In addition, prestige acts as a buff to the dungeon lord – the higher it is, the more powerful he becomes. In addition, the player can learn new spells and skills, as well as increase the dungeon lord’s attributes as the game progresses. In the end, Dungeons feels like a mash up of Dungeon Keeper, any given management game where asset management is important, and a complicated version of tower defence. The game carries a beautiful juxtaposition – the player has to attract in the very people that may just kill him – and offers an experience that is, on one level,

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

79 71


Mindjack

All in the Mind… Get it out of my head!

I

t’s something that becomes apparent more often these days, it seems… just because a big name publisher is releasing a game doesn’t mean that the game will be good. The truth is that truly great games are few and far between, with the majority of what hits shelves peddling the area between good and mediocre. But there’s always room below that, too, and there are many games that one could quite justifiably call bad. It’s expected. What is not expected is that a big name like Square Enix should release one. Mindjack is set in the year 2031. The player takes on the role of Jim, an agent for an organisation called the FIA, who helps a woman named Rebecca take down a shadowy corporation. And that, pretty much, is the plot. There are no deviations, subplots, context or anything else. It’s simple, straight-forward and, ultimately, weak. Jim, along with Rebecca, travels through apparently endless corridors and similar locations, fighting off hordes of masked soldiers and drones in an effort to reach the corporation. They even occasionally fight modified chimpanzees, toting a bad attitude and guns.

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by Walt Pretorius That might seem cool, but it’s not. The firefights are pedantic affairs that use a cover system. While cover combat games like Gears of War and even the latest in the James Bond franchise can be lots of fun, the system needs to be properly implemented. And while Minjack has its fair share of combat rolls and sliding to cover, it just doesn’t work properly. Shooting enemies is also a chore. The AI is immensely thick, creating the impression of programmed drones rather than smart corporate soldiers. The enemy will move along prescribed paths, whether they’re getting shot or not – a bit like a duck shoot stall at a carnival – and show little or no sense of self preservation. That failing has been compensated for by making them super-tough, meaning that you’ll have to blast three clips into a guy before he goes down. And hitting them in the first place is difficult, thanks to inaccurate weapons and the character’s tendency to want to murder the cover he’s hiding behind rather than his opponents. But Jim is no ordinary operative… and this is where Mindjack shows massive potential squandered by bad

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back to his pistol, which sucks. What good is it trying to find an awesome assault rifle if you’re only going to get to use it for a few minutes? Mindjack has an interesting multiplayer mode that allows players to hack into the games of others, either helping or hindering them in their missions. It’s a good idea, and had Mindjack been a better experience overall, it could have been a great multiplayer experience. As it stands, it’s actually more painful than fun, either in single or multiplayer modes. Additionally, you cannot pause the game. Perhaps this is because of the multiplayer aspect of the title… but even if you aren’t connected, you still cannot pause. The last game we saw that did this was Demon’s Souls, but there was a reason for it in that particular title. Here, it doesn’t seem to be necessary… not in single player. With sub-par graphics, absolutely annoying voice acting and a pedantic game dynamic that gets old very quickly, Mindjack does little to even reach the level of mediocre. g

AT A GLANCE:

PS3

The ideas may have been good, but the end result is a really disappointing game…

PC X360

Developer: Feel Plus Publisher: Square Enix Distributor: Nu Metro Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

16+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Platforms

design. See, Jim can hack people’s minds. He can jump from one person to another, taking control of their bodies. He can even turn injured enemies into ‘mind slaves’ just before they die (or, in the case of drones, explode.) In a better game, that would have been awesome. But Mindjack manages to take this really great idea and ruin it with poor implementation. First of all, the player doesn’t instantly zoom to another character. Instead, he becomes a disembodied… whatever… floating around the combat area. Sure, he can cycle through various potential hosts using the shoulder buttons, but instead of granting the player some kind of tactical overview that would make for strategic choices, the camera zooms right in to the potential hosts. The player cannot see where they are in the greater scheme of things, meaning that any tactical advantage that could have been gained from the ability (and how cool would that have been) is blasted out of the water. The only real choice is whether the player likes the character model or not. There are a variety of weapons to use in Mindjack, but the game will, after every checkpoint, revert the player

Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

40 73


A massive military toybox

W

hen it comes to actual combat simulators, there are very few that get things right in terms of absolute realism. Let’s be honest… war is an unpredictable thing, most of the time, and even the best tactics and strategies can be scuppered by chance and chaos. Still, there are some very good, detailed and realistic simulators out there. The most detailed is probably the ArmA franchise. ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead is a standalone expansion for the recently releases ArmA II, and takes the player to yet another fictional war zone based on current world events. This time the player’s playground is Takistan, a fictional Eastern European country. Playground is the right word to use, too, because Operation Arrowhead is a toybox filled with an extremely

by Walt Pretorius extensive array of military equipment. The player will be able to use many kinds of weapons and drive or pilot many kinds of vehicles in this game. Unfortunately, it does collapse under its own weight a little… there is just too much to do, and the controls for various vehicles aren’t standardised, meaning that the player has a lot of learning to get through. Also, the incredible scale of the area the player operates in means that the game can sometimes feel a bit pedantic and slow. This visually impressive title will also put your PC through its paces. It’s a demanding game in many respects, and it’s complexity means that it will likely develop a cult following, rather than being a mainstream hit. g

AT A GLANCE: More of a cult classic than a mainstream hit, this is a complex, realistic military simulator. Developer: Bohemia Interactive Publisher: Koch Media Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ 74

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

Arma II: Operation Arrowhead

All Out War

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

78

gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011


The Sims 3: Outdoor Living Stuff Pack

Fun in the Sun

The Sims move their living to the great outdoors.

From the exterior of the property, which can now be decorated in many new ways, through to outdoor furniture and new interaction items, and even a bunch of new fashion items, the sims can enjoy a more luxurious, active lifestyle – sort of. There is even a bunch of options for outdoor cooking, which makes for a nice, stylish addition to the world of the Sims. Overall, this stuff pack contains some really wicked items to add to the game but, as with all stuff packs, it really is window dressing, rather than essential. What it does do beautifully, though, is expand the Sims 3 even further, making the game more enjoyable with numerous new décor, interaction and fashion options. g

AT A GLANCE: A great stuff pack with several funky new additions, but not essential – as with any stuff pack. Developer: EA Games Publisher: Electronic Arts Distributor: EA South Africa

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

13+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

Y

es, the Sims 3 juggernaut keeps rolling. The pattern of releasing one or two stuff packs between full expansions is now becoming rather cemented. The latest stuff pack has hit the shelves, and it furthers ideas of the Sims leading more glamorous, active lives. In addition, the Outdoor Living Stuff Pack allows the player to pay a little more attention to the environment around the house that they build, which has always seemed to get the short end of the stick before. In fact, this stuff pack’s concentration on the outdoors makes it rather unique, with everything in the pack being aimed at fun in the sun.

by Walt Pretorius

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

79 75


Drive Green

Crop Circling John Deere gets you there

Some of the tasks that will need to be completed will include harvesting corn with a combine harvester, spraying pesticides on crops with a specialised attachment and planting new seedlings. It won’t take a lot of brain power to operate the tractors in the field, as it’s literally a question of driving up and down, without being penalised if you decided to make patterns in the crops as you go along. The graphics aren’t great, but it’s detailed enough to appreciate what they tried to achieve with the title, and the controls are very simple. It’s so simple that an Xbox controller can be used, provided one has the right receiver. The game is squarely aimed at a younger target market, although there is a bit of reading involved. It’s fun and excellent to kill a couple of minutes, as it’s one of those games where you can lose all track of time. g

AT A GLANCE: It’s more fun that it looks and it’s a great game to kill some time. Developer: ValuSoft Publisher: Gabriel Entertainment Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

A 76

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

T

here is an incredible amount of simulator games on the market, covering pretty much any aspect of life imaginable. You get the police simulators, flying simulators and train simulators, and even city builders. But developer ValuSoft has come one step further and brought country life into the simulation world with the release of Drive Green with John Deere tractors. Before anybody rolls their eyes at the title, it should be noted that it’s actually more fun than one expects. The whole principle of the title is to drive a wide variety of John Deere farming equipment while helping out other farmers in their fields. It won’t take very long to get through the game, as there are only 15 missions to complete, and each mission will take about 10 minutes to do.

by Charlie Fripp

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

62

gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011


I spy with my little eye…

H

idden object games have become somewhat of a rage with younger players and independent game distributors, so it’s only natural for the genre to refresh itself every now and again, and also come up with some interesting ideas. Egames’ G.H.O.S.T Chronicles - Phantom of the Renaissance Fair did just that, and took the hidden object genre to a different level by adding a few twists and new innovations. One would think that the genre doesn’t have much room to grow in, but there is actually a lot of scope for growth. One aspect which is still lacking is the graphics. Although Phantom has decent graphics, it still has a long way to come in terms of truly immersive visuals, but

by Charlie Fripp since the game is aimed at younger players, they might be more forgiving. The principle of the game is to search of a variety of objects presented by the game, but instead of just locating them and moving on to the next scene, some objects reveal puzzle pieces that will be needed to progress later on. The game also has a story line, which is refreshing, but it’s not a very strong one. But then again, hidden object games aren’t about the story, but rather about using a keen eye for detail. The title isn’t very difficult, but some reading will be required. The help system is excellent when getting stuck, but the game could have done without the horrible voice overs. g

AT A GLANCE: Although the hidden object genre is nothing new, this title does use some interesting elements. Developer: Egames Publisher: Avanquest Software Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

A 78

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC Platforms

G.H.O.S.T Chronicles: Phantom of the Renaissance Fair

Peek-a-boo!

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

66

gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011


Harvest Moon Frantic Farming

Farming! What vegetable are you?

story. The puzzle presented is farming vegetables and players control the placement of the vegetables and not the farming sprite that is collecting them. Players will need to move ripe veggies into the sprite’s path for picking. Once it has picked, the sprite waters all the areas around that spot. This will move the veggies forward in their growth, each time they are watered, until they are ripe. There is a great range of playing modes available and that will bring different options to the table. When a score is needed then players will line up the similar veggies for a bonus score and depending on how many are lined up the watered area might be bigger. Survival modes will change how the player farms because if the sprite runs out of ripe veggies before your opponents then they lose. The tutorial for the game is in depth and quite long. Players will do well if they go through the whole thing, but it can be explained faster if you’re doing download play with friends. I missed the story mode the first time around

after the tutorial and it gave me a bad impression that different modes and playing with friends was all the game had to offer. The puzzles are great but not good enough to leave out a story. The story is interesting, as the player must play through the story multiple times with each character. I used the word “must” because only a small part of the bigger story is shown in each character’s quests. Each character is running around trying to find out why the vegetables are growing so fast and seem to be overwhelming the country. This makes them meet others and play the puzzle farming in different modes to continue. There is a lot of text during the story and can be clicked through quite fast but the story is so attractive and a bit funny that I read it all. As the story is played more modes, collections and characters are unlocked. I love the missions given by each character after they are unlocked because the player has to solve the vegetable farming problem with a limited number of rotations. The puzzles are very fun and it’s great to play with friends once they understand what to do. g

AT A GLANCE: A vegetable farming puzzle game that is more fun than the title suggests. Developer: TBA Publisher: Rising Star Distributor: Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ gamecca review • issue 21 • March 2011

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

DS Platforms

F

rantic Farming has both boring and exciting points to its name so which one does it live up to? This puzzle game has great twists and turns, with an interesting

by Brian Murdoch

PC X360 Kinect

PS3 Move

Wii PSP DS PS2

Score

72 79


Flashtastic

Single Digit! Push The Button

By James Francis

T

he age-old excuses for being totally owned in a game have always existed, and most blame the controller or key layout. To the rescue is a genre that eliminates any need for complicated key configuration memory retention. One button games use a single key and

all you need to do is tap said key at the right time. How hard can a game where you just have to push a button be? A chimp could play this! Yes, a chimp probably could, because chimps are smarter than you think... but are you smarter than a chimp?. g

Canabalt http://adamatomic.com/canabalt/ Catastrophe has struck and you need to get out of the area fast. The only means to do this, it appears, is through the window and across the rooftops. Whatever you are running from – it’s big. An earthquake or some stomping monster. Maybe a slowly-exploding nuke... Regardless of why, you have to keep running, jumping across rooftops and avoiding obstacles in your way. All you need to do is jump. How far can you get before your fate catches up with you? It’s a celebration of the addictive “how far can you go?” type of game and became a huge hit when it was first released.

Nano Ninja http://jayisgames.com/games/nano-ninja/ Avenge your master in this tale of treachery, betrayal, drama and spears thrust from the floor. Mostly spears, really, as well as other obstacles out to stop the ninja from reaching the top of the tower. In true Game Of Death style, the ninja has to ascend through every floor, each with a different obstacle. Pause before a spear stabs out, wall-run over spiked, leap across TNT crates, dispatch enemy fighters – all with the tap of a button. Get to the top in the fewest number of clicks to show your true martial arts mastery. Also, you are allowed to shout “Ninja! Ninja!” during the game.

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gamecca regular • issue 21 • March 2011


Onekey http://www.nitrome.com/games/onekey/ If the name didn’t give it away, this experience involves one key, all to aid the progress of Onekey, a jungle native type guy who seems good at only one thing: stumbling forward. You step in with the spacebar, which manipulates things in each level, such as bouncing him higher, releasing his grip from a swinging rope, blowing up air to levitate him and so forth, guiding him towards the exit and nabbing gems along the way. Typical of a Nitrome release, it takes a genre and turns it on its head, in this case the platformer. Being from Nitrome, Onekey also has that certain pixel art look, plus it is polished, challenging and a lot of fun.

One Button Bob http://armorgames.com/play/5286/one-button-bob There is no hiding the fact that this is a one button game. You are Bob, explorer of dingy castles. Finding his way across this maze is a matter of tapping a single key, resulting in an appropriate action on-screen. It might be to jump at the right time, throw a weapon or navigate through a basic maze. Sticking to the genre’s mainstay scoring system, you are scored based on the number of clicks you make to finish the game. The fewer, the better. The game itself is quick to complete – hardly a few minutes. But you’re not likely to just play it once. And if you can find someone to get into a ‘fewest clicks’ battle with, this game might devour your week.

One Button Arthur http://armorgames.com/play/6700/one-button-arthur First there was Bob, then we had Arthur. It’s not good form to use a sequel in this list, but in this genre there is little escaping One Button Arthur. In good style Arthur adds to the formula of Bob, giving you new and old puzzles with a few twists here and there, as well as a visual upgrade and some clever new challenges. The boss fight at the end is also a bit better, so once you are done with your Bob addiction, you can jump right into the king’s quest for the sword in the stone.

gamecca regular • issue 21 • March 2011

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All Hail the Duke Stateside

by Corey Schon

W

e Americans have always had a somewhat different view of royalty than most nations of the world. Sure, we’ve had our King (Mr. Elvis Presley), and a number of Chiefs (44, so far) – but there’s only ever been one Duke. The manliest of men, a paragon of America’s kick-ass, take-no-prisoners machismo. A man known to favour a stripper in one hand and a largecalibre firearm in the other (and remember, I’ve already established this wasn’t any of our Presidents!) A man... who can kick with both legs... at the same time.

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I speak, of course, of American Icon, Mr. Universe’s Bad-ass, Duke “Get Some” Nukem. A virtual monolith of 1990’s gaming ethos, Duke’s “chew more gum, take less prisoners” ethos informed a nation of young, idealistic nerds about the finer point of women, jetpacks, and pig-like police monsters. Watching someone else play Duke Nukem for the first time - watching as they flipped over the projector in the movie theatre to reveal that most risqué footage of pixelated strippers; that was basically watching people be indoctrinated in The American Way.

So we’ll all be watching with baited breath to see the return of our Real American Hero, our Cadillac (or Ford F150, more probably) of men, He of the Golden Ego. Even if his latest adventure isn’t all that genuinely fun, there’s still something to be appreciated about the return of a hero who rode off into the Las Vegas sunset almost fifteen years ago. Here’s hoping Duke can come out of his retirement and grow his legacy even further. Saving the world a few more times couldn’t hurt. g

gamecca column • issue 21 • March 2011


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Essential Classics

Evil Genius Virtual world domination

by Walt Pretorius

W

ith the release of Dungeons, one cannot help but thinking back to other titles that shared similar concepts. Naturally, the unfortunately short-lived Dungeon Keeper franchise springs to mind, but another similar title managed to do things slightly differently, while still retaining a very familiar feel: Evil Genius. Released in 2004, Evil Genius was a PC only management title with a twist… it allowed the player to assume the part of a ‘60s spy movie style criminal mastermind. The goal was nothing short of global domination through the construction of an ultimate doomsday device. But getting this kind of job done is

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never easy, as any criminal mastermind will surely tell you, and work on the project requires time, resources and space. In addition, there are always problems arriving from annoying agents from various governments ringing your doorbell and trying to put paid to your carefully crafted schemes. This was the spirit in which Evil Genius was made. Like Dungeon Keeper, the game was not serious, but rather lampooned popular fiction in a wonderfully amusing way. The player was in full control of their island fortress and, through various stages, could use numerous devices to outwit the spies sent against them. The game was relatively complex; it required the player gamecca regular • issue 21 • March 2011


to be skilled at base building, real-time combat, minion training, research, mission deployment and resource management. It offered a surprising amount of depth for such a light-hearted (yet oddly sadistic) title. In addition, numerous talented individuals could be found and recruited, and side missions like stealing the Eiffel tower, art theft and kidnapping of celebrities could be undertaken.But the real fun in the game came from dealing with action heroes and secret agents. In true ‘60s style, the player could defend their base not only with armed guards (all clad in tasteless jump-suits) but could also deploy a number of really over the top traps and gizmos to take care of enemies. The end results were generally gamecca regular • issue 21 • March 2011

rather amusing. Despite being fairly well received, Evil Genius was doomed. Thanks to the eventual sale of their publisher, Vivendi (to another Vivendi developer, the super-powerful Blizzard) the Evil Genius franchise never actually became one – there was only ever one game released. It’s rather sad, really, because the game had all the elements to make a challenging management and strategy title. Perhaps, one day, someone will resurrect the idea, at least (like Dungeons did for Dungeon Keeper.) We can always hope. For now, though, our plans for world domination will have to be restricted to crazy notes scribbles on napkins and the back of used envelopes… g

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Razer Naga MMOG Laser Gaming Mouse

Shift CTRL

Moving from the keyboard to the mouse by Alex Scanlon

A

good mouse is an essential piece of equipment to anyone using a computer, but gamers particularly need a device that is better than average to make sure that their performance is tip top. It may seem strange to non-gamers, but the truth is that video gaming is extremely competitive, and top players can even earn a lot of money from the activity. But it’s not just about winning competitions. It’s also about comfort and ease-of-play. See, most gamers don’t just spend a few minutes playing games, and so they need a device that is comfortable to use and, above all, effective. This is doubly true for those that play Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games like the extremely popular World of WarCraft. Razer have been creating specialised mouse products for a long time now, and since their very first offerings, they have managed to bring something exciting and effective to the table with each new design. Their range is rather extensive, these days, and most gamers will find an input device that suits their specific needs.

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Which brings us back to MMO players. Razer created the Naga mouse specifically with them in mind. That doesn’t mean that this mouse won’t be effective for those that play other kinds of games, particularly games that need a lot of hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts, but the design principle puts MMO gamers first and foremost with the Naga. Even the software that ships with the mouse is built to take MMO gaming into account, with specific addons made for existing games. The first thing one notices with the Naga is the grid of 12 buttons placed for easy thumb access. These buttons are for hotkey purposes. Their placement is sensible, allowing the user to quickly access functions that may be required within the game. However, the user will have to train themselves in recognising the specific button placement, and getting to the last three buttons requires a bit of thumb-dexterity. Additionally, the user will have to work at not pressing multiple buttons at once; they are fairly small and placed right next to each other, so people with big, clumsy thumbs will need to be diligent in getting it right. g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 1 • M a rc h 2 0 1 1


Aside from the twelve side buttons, the Naga offers five more clicky bits: the usual large left and right buttons, a clickable scroll wheel (that lights up) and two smaller buttons on the outer edge of the left button. That’s an unprecedented 17 buttons built into the device, all of which can be mapped and customised for macros. On the technical side, the Naga is powered by a 5600dpi precision laser sensor, which makes the mouse very sensitive to movement, meaning that the player won’t have to make massive movements to get the desired result. It has a 200 inch per second tracking speed, which is also very impressive and adds further to the overall sensitivity of the device. The non-slip coating and Teflon feet help to make using the Naga comfortable – something which is added to by the ergonomic design. The Naga is a comfortable, effective and accurate mouse which, with a bit of practice, can become a valuable tool in any gamer’s arsenal. It’s not the cheapest mouse around, but it certainly is worth its weight in gold for anyone who takes their MMO (and other) gaming seriously. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 1 • M a rc h 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Lots of buttons • Comfortable shape • Sensitive

CONS:

• Right hand only • Takes a bit of getting used to

Manufacturer: Razer Distributor: Apex Interactive Online: eu.razerzone.com RRP: TBC

TECH SPECS: • 17 buttons • 5600dpi • 1000Hz Ultrapolling • 200 lps tracking • Teflon feet • Non-slip

Score

An excellent mouse for all gamers, particularly those who play keyboard reliant games like MMOs.

95 87


MSI R6870 2PM2D1GD5 Graphics Card

Pretty Pictures

A good performer in the middle to upper range by Alex Scanlon

A

good graphics card is a must, and MSI are producing top notch devices on the whole. Whether your tastes run to either Nvidia or Radeon chipsets, the MSI range are a very safe bet. They deliver reliable performance and a good set of software to support the cards. The R6870 offers solid performance for a card that is approaching mid-range, with 1GB of GDDR5 RAM to help push the rather impressive processor along. In addition, the card offers AMD’s Eyefinity technology, which allows for up to 4 seamless displays to be run off of the one card at the same time. To facilitate this, the R6870 comes with two mini DisplayPorts, 2 DVI ports and an HDMI port, allowing the user a degree of versatility in connecting monitors. In addition, the card supports SLi and CrossFire X, making using multiple graphics cards a breeze. Advanced fan speed controls and settings to optimise for 2D and 3D performance help guarantee the longevity of the card, which is estimated at around 12 years under full strain. If you are looking for a strong GPU performance that

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won’t break the bank as much as the top end cards, MSI’s R6870 is a good one to back. g

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Effective • Cost efficient

CONS:

• Not top of the range

Manufacturer: MSI Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: TBC

Expect reliable performance from this card, which might not be the top notch, but still does the job admirably.

TECH SPECS: • • • • • •

6870 chipset 1GB GDDR5 SLi CrossFire X Solid Caps 12 year lifespan

Score

88

g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 1 • M a rc h 2 0 1 1


Quick and versatile

by Alex Scanlon

C

ard readers have been around for quite a while – pretty much as long as data cards have been. Getting an effective card reader is a must for a great many reasons… sure, cards are generally used for multimedia storage, but having the ability to transfer other data via a card never hurts. Even if that isn’t your main goal, using a card reader to, for example, transfer video or images from a card is generally a better idea than transferring them directly from the device that recorded them. It just tends to be quicker and easier. Additionally, a card reader leaves things a bit less cluttered, in terms of physical space and software, and removes the need to keep track of a bunch of different cables for connecting devices to the PC. Apacer’s Mega Steno AM500 is a good choice, offering slots for compact flash, MicroDrive, SD, SDHC, miniSD, MMC, MMCmobile, MMCplus, RS-MMC, SmartMedia, xD, MemoryStick (all of them), microSD and M2 cards. It’s a very versatile USB 2.0 reader that will enable the user to always be able to get data off of a storage card, no matter what kind it is. It’s also a relatively small and solidly built device, which is not only functional, but also rather stylish. g g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 1 • M a rc h 2 0 1 1

AT A GLANCE: PROS:

• Small • Fast • Versatile

CONS:

• Cabled • Not USB 3

TECH SPECS: • USB 2.0 • Supports most cards

Manufacturer: Apacer Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.pinnacle.co.za RRP: TBC

Score

No card will be left unread by this small, stylish and quick card reader.

80 89

Apacer Mega Steno AM500

All the Cards


Viliv S5

Pocket power

Putting the power of a PC in your pocket by Charlie Fripp

I

t has been proven time and again that, as technology grows, so too will the same technology get smaller and smaller. This has been evident with almost all forms of entertainment, ranging from walkmans becoming iPods, cell phones becoming more pocket-sized and laptops packing more punch in a smaller housing. So keeping up with that trend, Viliv recently launched their latest pocket-sized PC. The S5 is an Ultra Mobile PC, making it literally a PC in your pocket, although you will need some really big pockets to store it in. Ok, it’s not that big, but it will make your pockets look like you are hiding a small brick. The little device comes packed with all the features that one would expect from a normal desktop PC, making it the right gadget to take on the road. But before we delve a bit deeper under the hood, that is exactly the problem with the PC. Although it’s very cute and user-friendly, users might struggle a bit to find a real-world application for it. Fair enough, it has all the bells and whistles that a normal PC has, but that’s just it. A laptop can serve the same purpose, even though it’s much bigger in size. Most cell phones today have the same technology built in that powers the device, so it does tend to lean towards the

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toy than tool category. To set up the PC when powering it on for the first time, one will also need a full-size keyboard. As the pocket PC makes use of a touch screen, the functionality isn’t enabled when the initial Windows set-up is done. But redundancies and usefulness aside, the PC sets out to do a certain job, and it does it rather well. Under the shiny hood is an Intel Atom Silverthorne 1.33 GHz processor with 1GB DDR2 533MHz RAM. That is enough for most people who just want to surf the net, watch videos and occasionally type out the odd Word document. The screen is big enough to see what is going on, and although it’s very clear, small text will be… well, small. It integrates a high-quality 4.8-inch LCD WSVGA screen, which in effect gives it a resolution of around 1024x600. That is an odd resolution, but it works rather well. As mentioned before, the screen is touch-sensitive, but don’t expect to be using a finger or a thumb to scroll around. The device comes with a stylus that looks very similar to a guitar plectrum, and this only doubles as a rudimentary replacement for the mouse. There is, however, another option of getting by. On the side, a sort-of directional pad has been built into the housing, which allows users to manually move the g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 1 • M a rc h 2 0 1 1


cursor around. In terms of typing, a click of a button will bring up a virtual keyboard, but it’s by no mean efficient enough to start typing a novel. Here a problem also crept up, as it’s impossible to type something when the Windows Start button is pressed, as it covers most of the left-hand side of the keyboard. Furthermore to the screen, it does have the wonderful ability to playback HD videos in all its 720p glory, supporting almost all popular video formats without additional codecs. For connectivity, the device features a host USB port so that additional hardware can be connected, such as a fullsize mouse or keyboard, or a 3G modem. It also features a link USB port and a Multi I/O port. For power, the device can run off the internal battery (delivering about 6 hours of normal use) or it can be plugged into the mains for more prolonged use. As we have mentioned before, and from what is evident in the technical specifications, the device is a nice toy, but that is about where its functionality ends. It’s great to have if you would like a small computer on stand-by, but most phones can also give you Wi-Fi, word processors and video playback. Although the device is solidly built, looks really good and g a m e c c a h a r d wa r e • i s s u e 2 1 • M a rc h 2 0 1 1

performs fantastically, the only little niggle is the practical application of it. But if a true pocket PC is what you are after, there isn’t a lot of better on the market, so you can’t go wrong with the S5.. g

AT A GLANCE: In terms of functionality, the pocket pc is incredibly powerful.

Score

74

Manufacturer: Viliv Distributor: Pinnacle Africa Online: www.myviliv.com RRP: R7999 Tech Specs: • Intel Atom Silverthorne 1.33 GHz processor • 1GB DDR2 533MHz RAM • Windows XP Home operating system

Pros: • Plays HD video • Ultra compact • Looks good Cons: • Limited usefulness • Touch screen

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Get Social In the Lair

by thebanman

W

e have spoken numerous times about how much fun LAN gaming and console gaming is. About getting together with your friends and having a great time while playing locally or online. Your group of gaming buddies follow all the hot releases so a game of Black Ops or Battlefield: Bad Company 2 always has you and a friend covering each other’s back. Or maybe it is a game of HoN, or some Gears of War 2 multiplayer, some Halo Reach, or you just want to burn up the track with some Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, not to mention the killer Dead Space 2 multiplayer. This is all good and well if you have a few gamer buddies that you always play with but what if you don’t know anyone. How can you start to build up a group of gaming friends? It would be cool to know if there were people in your area who gamed also. What if, just maybe, your neighbour is also a gamer but you don’t really know each other and you are both sitting right now looking for a player two. I was sitting with GlennZA from the Xbox Community in South Africa. We were talking about bringing the community together and trying to find out where the bulk of the community lives so that we can structure and event close to where these people are staying. GlennZA mentioned that I should take a look at Gamers Band (http://www.gamersband.com) I did just this. Gamers Band is a social networking site for gamers. But here is the twist. You can add your exact location via a Google

maps API on the site so that you can see where the nearest gamers are to you. Wait, it gets better. First off you need to register an account and enter a few details so your profile is a little fleshed out and that you look like a gamer that others want on their team. After customising your profile you can then add the list of gaming platforms you have: PC; Xbox360; PS3; NDS etc. It helps to be truthful here, don’t be that gamer that just ticks all the boxes for the sake of being cool. Now you can start to add your favourite titles, just add away. These are the titles that you enjoy playing as well as the titles that you might be looking to find a few extra friends to play with. Once your profile is brimming with all things gaming and you sit back as see that you are the coolest gamer

on your block, you can begin to use the search functions to locate a friend or two. Click on the Games tab at the top of the screen and select your platform of choice. Once the screen loads you will see a list of all the popular games listed to the left with a map to the right showing all the gamers in your area that have these titles and are playing them. From the drop down on the top you can change your platform and the gamers that are highlighted change to reveal new gamers that are on your area playing games that you are playing. Once you find these people you can choose to add them as your friends or just flat out challenge them right there and then to a game of Fifa 11. Another great feature is the fact that you can also see if there are any tournaments that have been created in your area. If you feel so inclined and why not join one of them and see if your skills stand up under the pressure of competition. Gamers Band is still small in South Africa, so there are not too many South African gamers listed just yet. Take a look… it is a very neat idea and I’ll keep an eye out for you online. g

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


Filling the Graves From Space

by Columnist A

D

ollarvision – the term I’ve coined as my chosen moniker for Activision – has done it again. That’s it, Bobby Kotick (head of $-vision). I’ve had enough of your crap. This is the third strike. You’re out. Or, as our ilk would like to say: game over. First it was Infinity Ward, the highly talented team that rebooted the Call of Duty franchise and made you untold millions as gamers lapped up the tactical shooting goodness. And overpriced map packs. You forced them out with your selfish, moneygrabbing ways, and by pure luck Treyarch were able to deliver Black Ops, a game that easily lived up to Modern Warfare 2. Then you canned Bizarre Creations. Now this is a particular sore point for me because Bizarre had some fantastic games before your team of money sharks snapped them up. The fantastic F1 97, on the PlayStation, followed by four Project Gotham Racing games for the Xbox, along with Boom Boom Rocket and two Geometry Wars games for Xbox Live arcade. The fate that befell Bizarre is something not even crack addicts can write fiction about. No sir. You took a studio that had proven itself through racing games and gave it a go at Blur. Sure, that turned out to be hugely underrated fun, but the James Bond

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game that followed was nowhere near their comfort zone. Added to that, as GiantBomb’s Jeff Gerstmann pointed out, 007 Blood Stone wasn’t even supported by an official movie release. Obviously this super fair opportunity to prove themselves with only two games proved not to meet your expectations. Bye-bye, Bizarre. Thanks for the good memories. And now, Mr. Kotick, you’ve shut down the Guitar Hero series. Frankly… I don’t blame you. The franchise was given to Neversoft, who makes games about skateboards and pop-star skaters, so it’s no wonder it sucked. Warriors of Rock, the dying breath of the GH line-up, was just terrible. But just because I don’t blame you, doesn’t mean you’re not at fault. After Guitar Hero 2 hit it big, Activision acquired the rights

to Guitar Hero, by swallowing RedOctane. This forced Harmonix to jump ship. They struck a deal with EA and Rock Band was born. Fact: the last good Guitar Hero was the second one. This doesn’t mean I wanted to see the series die a horrible death; probably one where Kotick’s fat, dollar-ink-stained fingers wrung the neck of the dying franchise. After all, we all remember our first loves, and in the case of budding plastic guitar prodigies everywhere that first love is Guitar Hero. So, let this hat trick of failures stand to serve as a reminder that Activision will run your brand into the ground. Game developers, if you’re thinking of selling out and making it big, rather take a cheque from Ubisoft or EA. At least they value innovation and creativity. g

gamecca column • issue 21 • March 2011


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Gamecca Magazine March 2011