Saturday, 1 January 2011

Games of 2011

By Jonny

Now that the new year is over and done with its time to look ahead at the upcoming games in 2011 and oh boy is there a lot of them. A new poll has appeared on the site ( Somewhere in that direction ----> ) listing most of the big game releases of 2011, so get voting and let us know what you are most looking forward too.

The poll closes on January 15th, you are also able to vote for more than one game so get voting and when the poll closes i will post the results.

Hope you have a good year.

Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Quick note just to wish everyone a happy new year and that we look forward to growing as a site and moving on from being here on the blog domain!

There are loads of quality games on the way for 2011 so expect much more up to date reviews and as always news coverage will be as up to date as can be...Once this holiday season is over which it now pretty much is it will be business as usual!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Nine Hours: Nine Persons: Nine Doors - Review

By Mark

Being tipped as a visual novel with ‘escape the room’ gameplay segments will no doubt make a lot of folk cover their eyes and ears and run for the hills screaming to get away, yet if you were to do that it would be a mistake. Nine Hours: Nine Persons: Nine Doors (simply known as 999) is an absolute master class in video game storytelling in every aspect from character design to writing and even to the atmosphere the musical score creates while unfolding the complex narrative.

999 is the story of nine people that have found themselves kidnapped by a fellow named only as ‘Zero’ and have awoken on an old ship whose location is unknown. What is known, however, is that our hero ‘Junpei’ and his eight new companions have just nine hours to escape the ship with their lives intact. In order to do so however requires our group to enter through nine doors each with a puzzle on the other side and whether people live or die depends on the choices you make although you’ll have no idea at the time of choosing just how important that seemingly passive comment could be. 

Meet the Nine. Seem generic? You're wrong.
You see, that’s where this game strives, in its narrative and it needed to as the only ‘gameplay’ to speak of is the escape the room segments of the game which in themselves are well designed and fun to play. The overall structure of the game can be broken down to this in essence ‘narrative, dialogue choice, room choice, room escape’ which may seem like not a whole lot or not interesting and that’s where you’d be wrong. Each aspect of the game is handled so well that you find yourself all but enthralled within this little title and a lot of the credit has to go to the localisation team as they have captured the very nature of the narrative perfectly, there are no discrepancies with the text and it reads just as well as any great book. 

The escaping segment of the game is done incredibly well, you’ll investigate a particular room (or multiple areas depending on your location) and this is handled entirely via the touch screen. You’ll be scrutinizing all of the rooms and backgrounds you can see and all the objects within them to find the next clue that leads to your escape; you can also rest easy knowing that everything you find in this game has a purpose so there’s no red herring as it where. This means that paying attention to anything and everything pays off and you will be rewarded in some way or another and not always in the form of an item but rather interesting notes from your companions or humorous dialogue. Speaking of the items you find, some will have a fairly obvious use while others must be combined with each other to make a new tool or new item entirely. While there is the strong theme of nine hours to live the puzzles themselves have no time limits, so those of you thinking that maybe the puzzles and game is all on a real time 9 hours would be mistaken although that would of changed the ‘urgency’ of the title entirely.

The premise of 999 can often feel like the Saw films at times but with less on screen gore and more descriptive grisly text to depict the gruesome nature of some of the games more grim scenes which works to its credit; writing in games this good is rarely seen. The nine rooms you can venture through will rarely feature the same characters following you through as the rules of ‘Zero’s’ game dictate that only 3 to 5 people are allowed through any one door at a time meaning your group will split into multiple teams to access different rooms. This leaves you and your team wondering when the next time you’ll be seeing your friends will be, if at all. It should also be said that if these rules are broken a bomb is detonated within the person killing the rule breaker and presumably anyone in close proximity. 

The characters you meet on this journey through human nature under pressure and the fight against an unfair fate seem like a typical anime bunch at first glance, yet due to the effortlessly good prose used to portray them and their plight you soon uncover damaged psyches and people with tortured pasts. The eight that ‘Junpei’ meet aren’t openly spilling their backgrounds immediately however as the cast all issue themselves code names as protection in this somewhat hopeless situation, it’s through the nine hours however that they come together and whether it’s when they clash or tell a tale of woe you learn a lot about each character. This is shown through the loveable goofy giant ‘Seven’ or the blind but intuitive ‘Snake’ and even ‘June’ who is actually Junpei’s childhood friend who he hasn’t seen in 9 years.

Clover and Snake
The reason you grow to like these characters is the writing and while I’ve said this at least one too many times already it’s the truth, think of all the other anime style games that contain cut scenes and voice acting to get across their characters. You immediately think of a somewhat shoddy attempt at a dub especially when it comes to the games that are developed in Japan and the localisation simply isn’t on a par with this title. By not having any voice acting or large amount of animation to show off character emotion it’s the prose that truly shines, the level of description and the talent at work is great. Each character is believable and their desperate struggle against time is conveyed brilliantly and when you add this into an overall fantastic plot and you have a great package for those willing to give it a chance.

The musical element to the game is composed well and adds to the atmosphere well and the composer has managed to capture the mood of each scene and situation fittingly and the game offers 6 endings for you to discover. It is recommended that you hunt for all 6 however as the game somehow makes them all fit together in an attempt to help you understand the true ending (unlocked after triggering a false ending first) which has a simply mind blowing twist that I refuse to explain here as it must be experienced not told.

It may read as though I have done nothing but praise this game but what would you have me do? Lie about shortcomings that aren’t there? Even upon completing the game once you are then allowed to fast forward through scenes you’ve already read to save time so you can hunt down the content you have yet to see even more efficiently and while a ‘chapter’ skip would of been handy it doesn’t detract from the experience. Depending on who you are you may complain that the game is too text heavy or not gameplay centric enough and I’d honestly say that’s an issue for you and not the game as Nine Hours: Nine Persons: Nine Doors shows just how well story telling in gaming can be in this journey of nine people in a race against time to save themselves and discover the truth behind Zero’s ‘Nonary Game’.

In a nutshell we...

  • Narrative that leaves your brains where your carpet should be
  • Quality writing and a fantastic localisation effort
  • Intuitive but not too complex puzzle elements

Not So Much
  • Alot of reading if you don't enjoy to do so
  • Multiple endings are needed to make full sense of the plot
Nine Hours: Nine Persons: Nine Doors - 9

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Kinect and WoW...Together

By Mark

Joining the fast growing list of hacks for Microsoft's Kinect addon for 360 comes this World of Warcraft controlling method.

The Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California demonstrate the use of it live in this video, they can control the movement, targeting and spellcasting all with Kinect.

Piracy Figures - Shocking Stuff

By Mark

Torrentfreak have tabled up some piracy figures showing the top 5 titles on the PC, 360 and Wii to be downloaded in 2010 and it comes as no surpise that the most pirated title is Call of Duty: Black Ops which on the PC landed over 4 million hits.

Here are the figures:

PC Downloads

1 Call of Duty: Black Ops  4,270,000
2 Battlefield: Bad Company 2  3,960,000
3 Mafia 2  3,550,000
4 Mass Effect 2  3,240,000
5 Starcraft II  3,120,000

Wii Downloads

1 Super Mario Galaxy 2  1,470,000
2 Wii Party  1,220,000
3 Donkey Kong Country Returns  920,000
4 Kirbys Epic Yarn  880,000
5 Red Steel 2  850,000

Xbox 360 Downloads

1 Dante’s Inferno  1,280,000
2 Alan Wake  1,140,000
3 Red Dead Redemption  1.060,000
4 Halo Reach  990,000
5 Call of Duty: Black Ops  930,000

While these numbers won't be exact, they are still in the ballpark and the thing that surprised me most was on the 360 chart Dante's Inferno was the most pirated. What do you make of all this?

Source - Torrentfreak

Sakaguchi May Be All Done If 'The Last Story' Does Poorly

By Mark

Hearing Hironobu Sakaguchi talk about stepping away from video games isn't anything particularly shocking, every game that he's behind always comes with rumblings of it being his last title. Yet in a Q&A session at a presentation he has stated that if 'The Last Story' is poorly recieved then it may be time to step down:

"If the game is received poorly, perhaps my sense does not match with the times. In that case, while I won't go as far as 'I won't ever make games again,' it would be meaningless to make games for a while. With that feeling, I've given my all."

Here's hoping it does well with the bigger reviewers as Mistwalker is one of the only studios still trying to drive new JRPGs in times where for all intents and purposes they seem to have no place. So let's hope the game is as awesome as it looks. 

Source - Andriasang

Monday, 27 December 2010

The Last Story PV

By Mark

There was an event recently that showcased 'The Last Story' with Final Fantasy grandfather Hironobu Sakaguchi and out of it has come this PV for the game. It mainly shows off the battle system which looks pretty interesting check it out:

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Trailer - Going Old School

By Mark

Capcam continue their onslaught of fighting game media and information as this new trailer for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 which introduces a much younger Heiachi and a new luchadore female.