Chibi Pa has kicked off today to the delight of many. One of our new writers, HMK, has hosted several panels today (and on his birthday, such a champ). I will be hosting panels tomorrow and Sunday while HMK will be hosting his podcast live tomorrow. Here are the events starting Saturday in chronological order.
EPIC and HECTIC LIVE (JJ & HMK): Saturday 4-5 PM
Let’s Play with Slenderman! (Isabel): Saturday 9-10 PM
The History of Vocaloids and their Fandom (Isabel): Sunday 10 AM -12 PM
I will be giving away freebies courtesy of the website to anyone who attends my panels. We’ll have a lot of fun, guarantee. Chibi Pa is also an amazing convention that has welcomed us with open arms repeatedly, and for that we are proud to help them have another spectacular show! Anyone currently in South Florida should make sure not to miss this opportunity.
In an interview with IGN Ken Levine has given us more information about the upcoming “Burial at Sea” DLC Packs for Bioshock Infinite. He has revealed that part one, in which you play as Booker Dewitt, will have no combat.
“It’s just playing in that world, you know, the Rapture you’d never really seen before, and watching Booker and Elizabeth use their wits to solve a problem and just soak in the atmosphere,” Levine told IGN.
The inspiration to have a large, combat-free period comes from the highly acclaimed first hour (or so) of BioShock Infinite, where Columbia is completely free of violence.
“My favorite BioShock quest is actually in that part, with no combat. He meets an old friend from BioShock 1. Not a very nice friend, but a friend. And in the second half, it takes place in a department store, a Fontaine department store that’s been shuttered and sunk to the bottom of the ocean by Ryan after he takes over. All of Fontaine’s cronies are put into that department store, so that place has gone to hell. It’s very traditional BioShock 1. They’re all spliced up down there. They’re all crazy. You get this mix of pristine Rapture and a very traditional Rapture experience, in a pretty organic story,” added Levine.
This is quite surprising and it will be extremely interesting to experience all this DLC pack has to offer – and the role of Booker and Elizabeth in the Fall of Rapture.
So far the DLC has no release date, but hopefully we hear more from Irrational Games soon.
Part of my work with ROG is the ability to attend events and host panels. It allows me to promote the site and get the chance to interact with other otakus. Mini Con is one of those events. I don’t always get to host panels, but when I do I make sure they kick butts! I will be hosting two fun, informative panels for your enjoyment.
Otaku on a Budget
Spot the Fakes: How to Avoid Replicas and Other Unlicensed Goods
Mini Con is an event I strongly recommend attending. A portion of every ticket sold goes to Drops of Hope, a local charity that helps pediatric cancer patients. Thus you can have a great time and help people in need simultaneously, it’s a win-win. Another charitable gesture they do is give free artist tables to young and disabled artists, make sure you support them.
Make amazing things like this happen. A room makeover for a little girl who’s battling cancer.
There shall be a game room hosted by Anime Gaming Experience, a costume contest with prizes, and many other cool panels alongside mines. I hope to see you there soon!
Last week I had the opportunity to visit Australia’s first Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX. The event was a huge success and a great experience. In this article I’ll give you a taste of what I got to see and play there!
The event showcased everything from tabletop games, indie titles and developers right up to major titles such as Assassin’s Creed IV, Saint’s Row IV and League of Legends. There were also many accessory and hardware manufacturers there showing off their latest headsets, gaming peripherals and super powered PCs. A whole host of international developers and companies showed up for panels and Microsoft even presented their Xbox One with live demos on stage.
The standout booths from the show were the World of Tanks and League of Legends stands, taking up a massive amount of space and drawing huge numbers of gamers. The League of Legends booth was packed full for all three days, hosting the first major Oceanic tournaments.
The expo featured a few other major gaming booths from Ubisoft, Nintendo and a Rome Total War 2 theatre – each showcasing new demos and game presentations for many upcoming titles such as Assassin’s Creed IV, Watch Dogs, Rome Total War 2, Saints Row IV, Splinter Cell Blacklist and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
Emph Cosplay at the Freedom Fall booth
There was a huge focus on indie titles in the main arena – One of the highlights was Freedom Fall, which I previewed and reviewed before the event here. Their booth had a great atmosphere and some brilliant cosplay to publicize the game
Other indie titles of note included Antichamber, Black Annex, Fractured Soul and InFlux. To see the very best of PAX Australia’s indie showcase, view the showcase page here.
One of the best features of PAX Australia, in my opinion, was the huge freeplay and tabletop arena. This big hall held hundreds of consoles ready to run tournaments and also to let people relax and play a game with friends and strangers, creating an awesome atmosphere of community gaming. It also had both a large area for handheld gaming and a large tabletop area, populated mostly with Magic the Gathering games and how to lessons for beginners.
Presentations over the weekend were very exciting – from game developers to media presentations and how-to’s. Famous cosplayers, journalists and big name developers such as Gearbox and Bioware put on presentations and Q&A’s that were full up hours before they began – very popular panels.
Microsoft also took PAX Aus as it’s first opportunity to show off the Xbox One in Australia, drawing record numbers into the main theatre. They presented live demos of a few launch games and walked us through the new controller and kinect.
The last major part of PAX is arguably one of the most exciting – Cosplay. Seeing talented individuals out in awesome costumes was one of the best parts of PAX and there certainly were some incredible ones. Highlights included the huge number of League of Legends cosplays, Borderlands 2 Vault Hunters (and a clap-trap!) and even the Luteces from Bioshock Infinite!
Overall the expo was a great success and I’m very much looking forward to the coming years – bigger booths, bigger venue and bigger games, but for the first time this Expo has been in Australia it was very impressive.
After the incredible explosion of Bioshock Infinite DLC news, the last twenty-four hours has also seen the release of the first DLC pack, Clash in the Clouds, right to our consoles. This pack is the first of three packs included in the Season Pass for Infinite and is a nice re-acquaintance with the game before the major story DLC, Burial at Sea, arrives in the near future.
Clash in the Clouds puts Booker and Elizabeth on the frontlines of arena based combat, operating out of ‘The Columbian Archaeology Society’. From this hub the player has access to the four arenas, ‘The Ops Zeal’, ‘Duke and Dimwit Theatre’, ‘Raven’s Dome’ and ‘Emporia Arcade’ – four unique environments from the main campaign. The player also has access to a museum section of the Archaeology Society where you can spend the money earnt in the arenas to buy character models, concept art, behind the scenes video and some great music tracks to listen to whilst exploring.
The real focus of this DLC is the combat arenas. Upon selecting an arena the player faces fifteen unique waves of enemies ranging from soldiers to Handymen and Motorized Patriots. Each arena has fifteen ‘Blue Ribbon Challenges’ which give you specific parameters to complete the wave – these give the player cash bonuses and unlock a trophy/achievement for completing all sixty. The Archaeology Society also features leaderboards to see how the player’s score stacks up against friends and the world.
Overall this DLC features the same smooth gameplay executed just as well in this as in Bioshock Infinite. The pack serves more as a vehicle for people to get back into the combat and exhilaration the game provides in anticipation for the upcoming ‘Burial at Sea’ packs. What the player gets in this pack however is more than just a fun re-
entry to infinite, it’s also a new game mode that will have you playing through the waves over and over to get a better score and complete some of the more challenging Blue Ribbons. In short the DLC is quite good and really fun, well worth the $4.99 while we wait for the intriguing “Burial at Sea” packs!
Clash in the Clouds is available now on all platforms for $4.99 or 400 Microsoft points, or free for Season Pass holders. Check out the trailer below!
Poker Night at the Inventory 2 is TellTale’s latest Xbox Live Arcade, Steam and Playstation Network game and is, as the title suggests, a Poker game at it’s core. More than that, this downloadable title is an example of how great personalities and some clever writing can make a functional but not particularly exciting card game into an engaging and fun experience for the player.
After a short and cameo filled introduction the player, aptly named and referenced to as “Player”, is introduced to their adversaries for the night’s game; Brock from “The Venture Bros.”, Claptrap from “Borderlands”, Ash from “Army of Darkness” and Sam of “Sam and Max”. Other characters from these titles and other telltale titles drift in and out during the course of tournaments.
The Cast of Poker Night at the Inventory 2
The writing in this game is superb, drawing from popular culture, developer-in jokes and character backstories, always keeping the player engaged and chuckling throughout. TellTale has made the focus of the game the characters and their interactions whilst playing, not the poker itself. This works well in this game as the mix of nostalgia and humour, brought to life by the characters and Glad0s, allow the player get wrapped up in the experience not the base gameplay, often hanging out for the cast’s quips and comments more than counting the chips on the table and watching for tells.
The poker in game feels a little drab itself, and without the writing would probably be just another basic poker game. The choice of Glad0s as dealer helps to liven up the gameplay as she regularly drops from the ceiling to provide ‘helpful’ comments to the player. The game also features character animations to give away when they are bluffing, but they are not common or very well executed. The Player may also buy drinks for the cast from the bartender Mad Moxxi of the Borderlands games. They make the ‘tells’ from others more obvious, but they still didn’t play much of a role in the results of the tournaments. When you get to playing you get a choice between “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “Omaha”, both games play well and the tournaments serve as opportunities for bragging rights, and more importantly, unlocks. After completing challenges you are offered the chance to win a special item from each character’s title, such as Ash’s Necronomicon and Claptrap’s Video Game Award, each awarding the player with unlocks outside of the game.
Borderlands 2 Unlocks
The game’s brilliant writing is added to by the ability to get heads and skins for Borderlands 2 on all platforms, and then platform specific unlocks including avatar items, Team Fortress 2 hats and exclusive themes. These unlocks keep the game playable well after the dialogue starts to repeat, but once you complete these there is little to keep you playing after the occasional game for nostalgia’s sake. There are also felt, deck and chip variants for each title to unlock, purchasable with ‘unlock tokens’ won in tournaments. These re-skin the bar and game aspects, but don’t affect gameplay.
Overall this game is quite fun and well worth the price tag, quite cheap on all platforms. The jokes, dialogue and unlocks make the game quite addictive and entertaining, but the replay value drops once the dialogue starts to loop and the unlocks are all collected. Some extra modes, multiplayer and more dialogue would help with the replay value, but the game is still great. For some laughs, free items and a good bit of poker fun this is well worth the download. A solid 8/10!
“The mind of the subject will desperately struggle to create memories where none exist…” – Rosalind Lutece, Barriers to Trans-Dimensional Travel, 1889
Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt. As you soar into the floating city of Columbia for the first time you see exactly where Irrational Games’ ambitions lie; Amongst the clouds with this incredible city. The game manages to achieve all of it’s ambitions and more, with a story the likes of which we haven’t seen since the original Bioshock, varied and new first person gameplay and a stunning, truly realised world for the player to explore. This game does what it’s predecessor did in 2007; it changes and challenges the gameplay and story of this console generation and reinvents them to become a truly incredible experience.
The game world is in almost direct contrast to that of Irrational Games’ original Bioshock, we see a rich and colourful city in the prime of it’s existence whilst also involving the player in Columbia’s breathtaking descent. Columbia has it’s own set of rules, it is a fully realised world with a vibrant cast of characters that really make the world feel real. People walk around, reacting both to the player and surrounding events, with clever and involving conversations that reflect the world around them. The game is set in alternate reality 1912 and shows off the views and values of an America steeped in religious rule, patriotism and severe xenophobia. The content in game is quite harsh in contrast to the vibrant city and challenges the player to look at society today with reference to the game. Every area of the game feels different and diverse, from the squalid Shantytown to the opulence of the streets above and then into the skies of Columbia aboard the many airships and floating platforms, never ceasing to pull the extraordinary narrative along with each detailed environment.
The streets of Columbia
As the player enters Columbia they are introduced to the basic gameplay elements of Vigors (akin to the original Bioshock’s Plasmids) and the variety of weapons through a carnival, set up as part of the celebrations for Comstock, the game’s antagonist. In your first hour you will experience combat with some basic guns, vigors and the transport method doubling as a melee weapon; the skyhook. The skyhook allows for some incredible firefights and a new mobility unseen in gaming. Just hop aboard a skyline and you can drop behind enemies, into cover or zip around the area quickly all the while returning fire from attackers. The game’s AI is also quite clever, with enemies and “Hard Hitters” (different, more tough enemies such as the handyman and motorized patriots) able to use the skylines and move around like the player. Then the game takes it up a notch, in story, gameplay and emotion with the introduction of Elizabeth.
Elizabeth. This one character serves as the core of the story and gameplay. From the moment you meet her she barely leaves your side, constantly adding to the game. In combat she will help you by finding health, salts and ammo and also cash outside of combat. She also has the ability to open ‘tears’ in the environment, pulling items from other worlds and reality into being in the locale. She also adds real emotion to the gameplay. You begin to rely on her and think about combat situations with her abilities in mind. In the few short absences she has from the player you genuinely miss the character. Her powers and dialogue always make the player feel more invested in the story, her presence never once takes anything away from the experience. Her AI is also incredibly well done, she will explore and interact with the environment, once again bringing areas of the game to life and you will want to sit in one spot and see all the animations and dialogue the developers have crammed into each of the game’s areas.
I have talked about the story a lot so far, the narrative really pulls the whole experience together. The story crafted by Irrational Games masterfully weaves the setting, values and original story together into a story that will keep the player invested in the game’s fifteen plus hours of gameplay. Without revealing too much, the story centres around the protagonist, Booker Dewitt, tasked with travelling to Columbia to rescue Elizabeth to pay off his gambling debt. The city is ruled by “The Prophet” Comstock, who has kept Elizabeth locked away for years. Bring in the Vox Populi, a resistance movement of the lower classes and racial outcasts, fighting against Comstock’s extremely one sided rule. The story has the occasional lull in sections, but they always followed by something amazing soon after, only increasing the effect of the succeeding event. Once you dive into the narrative the tale morphs and evolves at a cracking pace up to the jaw dropping finale, where players will be left thinking long after the credits roll.
Overall the game is an amazing experience. Irrational Games have done an amazing job of bringing the world of Columbia to life. The story, gameplay and above all the work that went into Elizabeth help this game to exceed all expectations and in turn reinvent the FPS genre amongst it’s many more stale counterparts. The game is incredible in scope and story, well worthy of any gamers time, earning it’s well deserved place amongst some of the finest games of the generation.
In my mind, this game deserves no other score than, Go and Buy it NOW!
Today I had the chance to play some of Gears of War Judgment’s new multiplayer mode, “Overrun”. This is the new version of Gears of War’s previous “Horde Mode”. Here is a basic overview of the mode and it’s systems, and my first impressions.
The game mode is essentially a class and objective based multiplayer match, with two teams of players facing off; COG soldiers versus locust units. These two teams each have several classes, but differ in the initial range and availability of classes.
The COG team has four classes; Soldier, Scout, Medic and Engineer. The COG soldiers each have a unique ability triggered by pressing LB which provides the team with health, ammo, defensive turrets or a beacon to show enemy locations. The defenses set up already (barbed wire and laser fences) can be moved through by any COG units, but will stop any Locust units from moving forward. They are able to destroy them but the engineer is able to repaired these defenses.
The four COG class characters.
The locust team differs in it’s organization. Initially you have access to four types of locust. As you gather points in game (given for kills, assists and damage dealt) you can ‘purchase’ one of the four extra, more powerful locust with your scored points, allowing access to that class of locust until the unit is killed. Units include Tickers, Locust infantry and even the Corpser!
The map I played on, Skyline, is a series of rooftops. The map is split into three for the three intervals of gameplay. The first two intervals see the COG trying to protect the covers on Locust emergence holes, and the Locust’s goal is to destroy these caps. If the Locust destroy the cap the next interval begins, and the locust spawn becomes the newly opened emergence hole. If the COG can hold the emergence hole the ‘hammer of dawn’ is brought online, the COG win and the second round begins with the teams swapping from COG to Locust and vice versa.When the locust destroy the caps on two emergence holes interval three begins, and the COG must hold their generator, the final objective for the Locust.
The game mode is quite fun. The gameplay feels like a proper Gears of War game even with the new developer, People Can Fly. The graphics are a step up from Gears of War 3 and will likely look even better in the full game. The controls for the less human-like locusts has been revamped from Gears 3, making it easier and more fluid to play. Once more maps are added to the roster the variety will be much higher, and I hope to see some more variations in the objectives, but they are still quite well put together. The teams of human players and extra bots should there be an insufficient number of players works well allowing much faster game entry and less network issues. Once this game is released next week players should enjoy the new take on the fan favorite Horde Mode, marking a great new entry into the Gears of War multiplayer modes. Overall Overrun is quite a success for People Can Fly and it’ll be interesting to see how players can work as a team and strive for victory in Gears of War Judgment!
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is like a kung-fu action movie that is hopped up on steroids that you just don’t want to end. Developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta; Vanquish; Madworld) and published by published by Konami this is the mutant off spring of the formally cancelled Kojima Studios game Metal Gear Rising. The game was cancelled then later picked up by Platinum and completely reworked from the ground up with the consent of Hideo Kojima.
It’s an action, hack and slash game that is high paced and features an amazing new system mechanic. The mechanic is like bullet-time with a sword, but much cooler. Once doing enough damage to an enemy you are prompted with a slow down effect where you can in turn slice away at your opponent in slow motion. Doing so causes tons of dismemberment and it is truly a sight to behold. Mind you, this game is not for the faint of heart.
The story takes place four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. You play as Raiden, the awesome ninja cyborg dude who used to suck in Metal Gear Solid 2…yeah that guy. You work for a Maverick security working to save money for his family by protecting Prime Minister N’Mani of an unknown African location. Next thing you know you are ambushed and the prime minister is captured then killed. During your rescue you become injured and defeated by one of the captors working for another group affiliated with Desperado Empires, a group associated with terrorism.
Not long after you soon end up trying to seek revenge a couple weeks later after your defeat. The story then unravels to several different plot points that seem very Metal Gear-esque. Without me spoiling the very convoluted plot, let me say it is all over the place with tons of codec dialogue and moments that will make you go “huh?”
Unfortunately the story mode is very short. I personally beat the game in a little under five hours. Granted those five hours were very awesome and filled with great action that is simply indescribable. Luckily, for those not willing to play the game multiple times, which I highly recommend, there are extra VR Missions that can be unlocked through the story. These test your sneaking ability and your combat skills. Not to mention the tons of skills and other statistical things you’d want to gain and extras to collect.
The sound design is another very strong component of this title. Composed by Jamie Christopherson it features amazing rock/techno/orchestral music. It’s so good I enjoy listening to it even after I am done with the game. Not to mention the awesome sounds of explosions, decapitation and sword slashes. It’s overall just awesome.
The graphics are also a marvel. Environments feature fully cut-able things from which you can wreak your destruction upon. The action looks so good as the game runs at a very smooth 60 fps. Sadly, some of the stages are just too open and barren. Understandable though considering how much work it must take to do such feats.
Most importantly is how the game plays. Safe to say it is very intuitive and yet simplistic. The game’s simple light and heavy attack system complement each other well. Combos are easy and fluent when stringing attacks together and can make you feel very badass. The only problem is the camera, which for the majority of the time works until there are either way too many enemies or you’re in a weird spot.
Overall Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an amazing experience that Metal Gear fans and action fans shouldn’t miss. Sure the campaign could stand to longer but, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see a sequel in the future.