We will build your DREAMWEB!
January 7th, 2012
(as of 2012-12-05 01:50:35 PST)
Soul Calibur V (PS3) (UK IMPORT)
DescriptionSOULCALIBUR V is the newest installment of its multi-million selling weapons-based fighting series for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation3. It delivers exhilarating 3D fighting mechanics, breathtaking visuals, and new characters, as well as expanding the online + character creation modes.
Publisher Bandai Namco has a name in the multiplayer community with games like SoulCalibur and Tekken, but compared to its rivals, the company hasn't had an enduring title in the continuously growing esports arena. Instead of giving up, though, it's trying a different tack: building a new MOBA.
Developed by Hungarian-based Pr1mal Game Studio, Supernova is a free-to-play sci-fi MOBA that incorporates real-time strategy elements. The game has been in development for about three years, but in a market that already feels crowded with League of Legends and Dota 2, why would a developer want to make another MOBA?
Speaking with developer's studio director, Zoltan Zsuffa, he said, "Basically, Supernova is different in many ways. It has the fundamental MOBA gameplay terms like heroes and lanes and things like that. But we didn't start Supernova as a game that's meant to be different in the MOBA space. We've seen many developers out there that take the fundamentals of the MOBA game and what they do is try to tweak things just for the sake of changing things just because they see that there's a crowded market."
Interestingly, Zsuffa doesn't shy away from calling the game a MOBA. "We wanted to make sure that, for players who have experience in MOBA games, they can easily grasp the whole atmosphere and all the gaming mechanics right away. I think other games and other developers make these kind of changes, like calling it something completely different because they want to segment their game as something that's partially for another gameplay audience. With Heroes of the Storm, for example, Blizzard created something that is meant more for a casual audience. They simplified it a lot from the traditional MOBA elements. But we really want to have all of the depth you find in other MOBA games."
As a side note, Zsuffa mentions that Supernova wasn't a MOBA from the start. "Supernova was originally a more traditional real-time strategy game three years ago. After six months of production, we had a prototype version of the game, but we realized that it was going to be too complex for today's players. So we started to simplify things here and there, and even though the original idea was to have an RTS with MOBA elements, through a natural evolution of the gameplay and experience, it started to have something that turned around and became a MOBA game with RTS elements instead.
"That eventually became intentional, since we wanted to make sure that people who either are MOBA gamers or who know from friends about MOBA games, these people will find the gameplay mechanics, the army mechanics, and the sci-fi environment as something different from the crowd of MOBA games out there."
"We want to make sure we're not going to have pay-to-win at all."
At first glance, Supernova definitely seems geared more towards someone very experienced with the genre, but Zsuffa clarified that even though hardcore gamers are a major focus for the studio, "Currently the game has a lot of depth and complexity, but there are a lot of features that make it simpler for players to just jump in and start playing. For example, if you're a new player, you won't really need to bother with your armies. There's an automatic army composition feature. And there are other features that make it completely or partially automated like the distribution of the building points for commanders.
"But we still have tasks in front of us regarding the user interface in terms of customization and simplification. A new player who starts to play the game, what they'll see is that even though the army composition is automated, you still have the user interface for the whole army. This is something on our roadmap to get rid of, to hide those complexities from players that don't want to touch those sorts of things."
The biggest hurdle for any free-to-play game is how it handles monetization, both to make sure the developer can stay in business and that the players stay happy. However, in Supernova, you can buy more than cosmetic items with real-life money. Getting ahead of the inevitable criticisms, Zsuffa said, "We want to make sure we're not going to have pay-to-win at all. We are going to have microtransactions; players can earn in-game points for playing the game, and they can also purchase real-world currency. But game items can all be bought with in-game currency, so you don't have to spend a single dollar if you don't want to.
"The only exception is cosmetic items, like new skins for the commander or news skins for the army. We may also have other features down the road like new user interfaces skins, like if you have an army with a camouflage skin that you bought, then maybe you can also have a camouflage setting for the whole UI. Everything else will be purchasable with in-game currency earned by playing game sessions. And we're going to have a lot of those customization items, so you can customize your armies, customize your commanders. And you can buy additional units for your armies as well, and customize their different gameplay abilities."
But is Pr1mal concerned about balance when some players essentially have a fast track to some abilities if they're willing to pay for them? "You can play for the entire lifecycle of the game without spending a single dollar. If you're playing the game, you should be able to earn enough in-game currency to buy whatever you want, except cosmetic items. You can buy boosters, new heroes, or new armies and other items with real-world money more quickly, but that doesn't mean you'll have any kind of advantage. It just means that if you're a more experienced player anyway and you have less time, you can speed things up. But it doesn't mean that if you don't pay you'll have any kind of grind at all."
If you want to try the game yourself, a public alpha for Supernova is going live today and you can sign up for it on the game's official website. And let us know what you think about Bandai Namco's entry in the MOBA genre in the comments below.
Ubisoft on Thursday announced that Far Cry 4's latest expansion, Valley of the Yetis, will arrive on March 10 across Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC.
After crash-landing in a Himalayan mountain, players are stranded and must capture a camp and guard it from "a mysterious cult who will return to reclaim their encampment." But it's not just the cult players have to worry about.
Lurking in the shadows are Yetis, the mythological creatures said to inhabit the Himalayan mountains. As you can see in the image above, Ubisoft has designed its Yetis as hulking, fierce-looking beasts.
Valley of the Yetis is playable solo or with a friend in co-op. Ubisoft also teases that by the time players finish the expansion they will "unravel the mysteries behind the yetis."
The final planned expansion for Far Cry 4, Valley of the Yetis is available through the $30 Far Cry 4 DLC pass or it can be purchased separately. Valley of the Yetis follows previously released expansions The Syringe, Escape from Durgesh Prison, the Hurk Deluxe Pack, and Overrun, all of which are included with the pass.
Far Cry 4 launched in November 2014 and has sold more than 7 million copies. For more, check out GameSpot's review, as well as an image gallery for Valley of the Yetis below.
Nintendo on Thursday announced its plans for PAX East, the annual gaming convention held in Boston, Mass. March 6-8. The show is sold out, but if you have a pass, here's what you can expect to see and play (if you're willing to wait in line) at Nintendo's booth on the show floor.
Microsoft also has big plans for PAX East, which you can read about here. GameSpot will have editors on the ground reporting live from the event.
Are you heading to PAX East this year? What are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below!
Though Revelations 2 starts with a whimper, at least it doesn't waste any time getting you into the game. Right as they were starting to enjoy a swanky company party, Resident Evil hall-of-famer Claire Redfield, and her co-worker, young Moira Burton, are kidnapped at gunpoint and shipped off to a wretched penal colony on a remote island. The game begins when Claire awakens in a damp cell, and the mystery kicks off when the door opens moments later, seemingly on its own. Their imprisonment is clearly the work of someone who fancies control as they're taunted over the PA system by a mysterious overseer. She speaks in very vague terms, introducing more questions than answers. By and large, Revelations 2 likes to keep you guessing.It's about to get ugly.
Moira's father, the ever memorable Barry Burton from the original Resident Evil, attempts to come to Moira and Claire's rescue. With the help of a young companion, the mysterious Natalia, he searches the same prison, but the enemies he faces are quite different, acting more like classic zombies as they shuffle along, rather than the speedy juggernauts that hunt Claire and Moira. This setup affords you two points of view within the same nightmare, and slightly different gameplay experiences, but not all things are created equal. Barry's act is far stronger than Claire's, not only because it offers the best moments of tension, but because his companion is a far better compliment than Moira ever is to Claire.
Working in tandem is at the heart of everything you do in Revelations 2, for better and for worse. You can switch between your two characters on the fly, and sometimes you must in order to solve simple environmental puzzles. Moira's flashlight may uncover a hidden item that you need to proceed, and Natalia can go places that Barry can't thanks to her small stature.
Unfortunately for Claire, Moira's not much use outside of a few strict scenarios that call upon her unique abilities. She looks capable of manning a gun, but a tragic event from her past conveniently prevents her from doing so here. She comes in handy when she pries open a rare door or blinds an occasional enemy, but she's otherwise dead weight and a near constant source of bad dialog as she spouts vulgarity after vulgarity. It's not hard to take in because it's offensive; it's obvious that she's meant to sound young and brash. However, she comes off as an exaggerated caricature that sticks out like a sore thumb.You can always count on Clair to say what we're all thinking.
Outside of a few important plot points, the only helpful thing Moira brings to the table is a flashlight, but Natalia has a subtle personality that comes across as a breath of fresh air and she's far more useful during tense situations. She can sneak by enemies undetected and crawl into tight spaces. If Barry is low on health, Natalia is a solid backup, trading head-on action for simple but effective stealth. Though she lacks the firepower, Natalia proves to be even more useful than her caretaker at times, so long as she remains undetected by the bad guys.
Natalia and Barry's stint is the best source of tension in the game by a long shot. For the most part, Claire and Moira are stuck inside their prison, which is predictable and boring. On the contrary, Barry and Natalia spend a lot of time outside, and in the middle of the night, with only a few light sources off in the distance, a sense of dread creeps in when you wander into the unknown. Natalia is the best candidate for the job given her ability to spot enemies from a distance, but you always know in the back of your mind that she's practically incapable of defending herself apart from throwing a brick at an enemy, yet there you are, meters deep into a dark forest teeming with horrific abominations that want nothing more than to eat you alive. When an enemy takes multiple rounds from a gun to stagger, a brick offers little solace.Resident Evil: Revelations 2 shines when Barry and Natalia are at the helm.
You can tackle the campaign via local co-op with a friend if you're so inclined, but your teammate has to come to terms with the fact that they're playing second fiddle. Teaming up is an effective means of getting through the campaign quickly because you aren't reliant on AI to watch your back, and you have the ability to multitask, but the split screen view and real world chatter can dilute the tension. If you're looking to get scared, playing solo is the only way to go.
There are a few puzzles to solve during each scenario that are reminiscent of classic Resident Evil moments, but instead of having to consider all of your options and search for a solution, it's given to you in the form of a simple task. Ultimately, these moments feel like chores rather than puzzle solving opportunities. Moira's asked to point a flashlight around a room to find a key, for example, testing your patience rather than your intellect. If anything, these quandaries feel like justifications for having a sidekick. Perhaps it's good that it's not as obtuse as some games in the series' past, but the formula has been simplified too much for its own good.Classic Claire!
If you find your trigger finger itching after beating the first episode, you can hop into the optional and oddly enjoyable raid mode. This arcade-like experience pits you against small armies of enemies in various environments from this and future episodes, and you're encouraged to take advantage of your firepower. The more enemies you kill and the more efficient you are at doing so, the better rewards you receive, often in the form of additional weapons. It's a very different experience than the main game, especially with it's initially jarring dance soundtrack, but it's a fun diversion that gives you plenty to do once the rather short campaign comes to an end.
Though you have to wade through mediocre puzzles and endure cringe-worthy dialogue and references to past games, episode one successfully entices you to look forward to the next episode. Just before you feel like its antics are wearing you down, it commands your attention by redeeming itself during the second half, just before sealing the deal with an impactful cliffhanger. With tastes of both classic and modern Resident Evil, Revelations 2 has something for everyone, but it would be served better if it was a little more focused and had a little less Moira.
I offer no insight into Aaru Awakening's actual development process, but it's easy to assume that visuals were prized over all other elements. Even the hub from which you access the game's levels is ravishing. It exquisitely represents the passage of time from dawn to night, each quadrant of a central orb depicting an abstract landscape that looks drawn by colored pencil. Within the side-scrolling stages, cross-hatching and asymmetrical markings provide texture and depth, while moving elements like lava floes and falling rocks are drawn frame by frame. It is through these techniques that Aaru's world comes to life underneath its unnatural magenta skies.What a phenemonal-looking boss. What a tedious level.
The playable hero is Dawn's champion Aaru, a bearlike creature with a mane that stretches from head to tail, and he, too, moves with a charming hand-drawn inelegance that befits his illustrated world. Alas, the gracelessness of movement that makes Aaru initially joyous to watch in action becomes the game's most prominent failing. When a platformer requires finesse and quick response, as Aaru's Awakening frequently does, fluid animations and controls are vital. Aaru is anything but fluid, however, changing positions mid-air with all the precision of a sloth that has been dropped from a fourth-floor window. Aaru would be a delightful hero in a meandering adventure, but Super Meat Boy he is most certainly not.
As if to make up for his lack of leaping prowess, Aaru can rush ahead in a single whoosh, and can also propel an orb from his body that he can teleport to--and it is around these two mechanics that most of Aaru's Awakening's maddening puzzles are formulated. Navigating the game's spaces is a trial in and of itself, due to a wholesale absence of genre basics--the kind of basics we take for granted in the best platformers because of their ubiquity and necessity. We expect to be able to quickly identify what objects are collidable and which are background art, for instance, particularly when we need to make snap mid-air decisions. Here, the foreground and background blend with the gameplay layer. Is that branch sticking outwards a platform, or just a visual detail? Will I pass in front of that barrier, or will I collide? That Aaru's Awakening requires you to even ask such a question rather than for you to immediately know is a colossal problem.The writing is lovely, but the narrator slurs her words in odd ways.
Without the fundamentals in place, any cleverness apparent in Aaru's Awakening's platforming challenges dissipate. What the challenges may even be is often a secret until you are dropping from a great height when the platform beneath you crumbles, or when a ramp has propelled you forward. You may not be able to tell whether you will fall to safety, or impale yourself on a bed of spiked rocks, until gravity makes the decision for you and the spikes rise into view, too late for you to do anything but succumb to death. Now you know for the next time--but when you bear the burden of this game's inconsistent movement and clumsy animations, it's difficult to build enthusiasm for a next time. And that's an issue: Aaru's Awakening is, by design, a trial-and-error platformer in which you shave off as many seconds from your completion time as possible. Your reward for success is the chance to show off your skill on the game's online leaderboards. I might have enjoyed chasing the competition had the challenge been to overcome tricky puzzles and perform perilous leaps, rather than to wrestle with my controller.
Putting down the controller is an option, though it's natural to reach for a gamepad when playing a platformer. Aaru's Awakening's controller support is not ideal, however, assigning the default jump move to an analog stick rather than a button. You must also activate the controller in the menus before you can use it, and should you unplug it during play, the game may stop responding to any input, even if you plug the controller back in. Regardless of your control method, the maddening levels may drive you to smash your hardware. The Dusk boss fight, for instance, requires that you rush across a series of platforms, some of which crumble, and some of which drop and then rise towards the spiked ceiling. You must teleport into the globes that float in this stage as well as avoid the poisonous river that waits for you at the bottom of the screen. Aaru's awkwardness turns what might have been an exciting sequence into a mess, during which you must perfectly execute your dashes and perfectly aim your teleport orbs at the proper angle within unimaginably narrow time gaps. There's no fun in the trying, and thus no fun in the succeeding.Those are the kinds of goo-falls that don't hurt you.
Yet Aaru's Awakening hints at fun. You fire your teleport orb past a beam of scorching light, teleport again by angling your orb into a thin, winding passage, and an arcing ramp flings you into the sky. What a rush this moment is--a rush then halted when you land in the pool of lava that didn't appear until you were six inches above it. You destroy a hideous colossal housefly by teleporting inside of it--what a fantastic idea!--only to drown moments later because you must blindly teleport, not knowing what you might find until you've closed the deal. Aaru's Awakening is a dreamy display of artistic imagination that yanks you back to waking life with every awkward leap and every ill-conceived level.