AX2012 roundup

This year’s Anime Expo was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center over the weekend. Although primarily an event surrounding the anime fandom, it is also attended by a number of video game publishers. Continue reading

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EU court Rules End-user Digital Re-sale Mandatorily Legal

The EU court of justice has ruled that end-users must be able to re-sell their digital purchases, for instance a game bought from Steam or on iOS.

This comes out of a law suit against ‘UsedSoft’, a company that makes its business selling used licenses,  by Oracle who denounced it as piracy.

The judge has ruled that Oracles exclusive rights to their software license sale are “exhausted” after they make the sale, handing over the rights to the end-user.

The implications of such a ruling are huge, Apple’s App Store for instance is now illegal in Europe, as is Valve’s Steam and all other digital distribution services, unless they provide a way of allowing the end-user to re-sell their purchased software.

This law is in effect even if the user has agreed to a EULA that condemns re-sale, the relevant clauses are voided:

“Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy.”

So we can hopefully expect facilities for digital license re-sale to appear across European services some time soon, to avoid being banned from Europe entirely, which of course publishers, however much they hate this, will hate less.

Source: NeoGaf, The Verge

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Why Cut-scenes Are Silly

Xenoblade’s world is a breathtaking and storytelling one by itself, set on a ancient, fallen giant. The cut-scenes pale in comparison.

Tetsuya Takahashi, the director of the recent Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii, said just before the game’s release over here in the UK, in an Iwata Asks interview (an interview conducted by Nintendo), that he saw cut-scenes as a “creative dead-end”. At first that sounded insane to me, I thought that, even if they were over-used, they weren’t a ‘creative dead-end’. But then I played Dear Esther, I played Bastion.

And I realised, I was wrong.

Continue reading

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Just Cause 2 Review

Hey you! Yes, you. Want to blow some stuff up? Well here is a copy of Just Cause 2, go satisfy yourself for 50 hours. The thing I love about Just Cause 2 is how the title pretty much sums up the game. “Hey Rico, why did you blow up that satellite dish?” “Just ‘Cause”. This is the game where you can do what you want, just because you feel like it.

Just Cause 2 is the ultimate “B-movie” of video games; it’s as cheesy as a block of Stilton and constantly mocks itself for it. Set on the picturesque South-Asian island of Panau, we join the Puerto Rican ‘James Bond’ Rico Rodriguez, a man so wooden you could get a splinter just from touching him. Rodriguez is a special operative for the imaginatively named government agency, The Agency. He has been assigned the mission of tracking down his former mentor and rogue Agency member, Tom Sheldon. Any of this sounding familiar so far? Well, it should seeing as it’s been the plot of so many films, games and books it’s not even funny. Chuck in an evil dictator, some rival gangs and fast cars and you might start to wonder whether Avalanche Studios came up with any of the plot themselves or just like to watch  James Bond movies. Alot. The story and writing  is laughably bad, but then again it doesn’t really matter.

There has never been a more literal use of the classification ‘sand-box game’ than Just Cause 2. Right from the word go the player has the entirety of possibly the biggest map ever featured in a video game. If you want to get an idea of how big the game is, it takes approximately 20 minutes to travel across it in the fastest possible plane, this game is truly massive. The basic aim of the game to cause as much chaos, this can be done in multiple ways such a blowing up military facilities, completing missions for the three rebel gangs or finding the thousands of collectibles in the game. Once achieving certain levels of chaos new story missions, black market items and stronghold takeovers can be will become available.

So far you may be thinking “What’s the difference between this and say, Grand Theft Auto?”. The difference? Two words. Grappling hook. With an ability to grapple onto almost anything you lay your eyes on the possibilities of exploration are limitless. Imagine a high speed pursuit, you standing on top of the car, no ammo, military men shooting at you, simply whip out your grappling hook and tie the military cars to the side of the bridge you’re crossing, watch as they go flying into the oblivion. Now combine that grappling hook with the ability to open your parachute anytime you’re in the air and you’ve got an ingenious mode of transport. ‘Slingshoting’ your way across the deserts and forest of Panua is easily the best way to travel. Messing around with the grappling hook can provide hours of entertainment.

One of Just Cause 2′s weak points is the combat. Specifically the gunplay. When aiming the sight it is rare that your bullets will actually hit the site in which you has trained in on, you’ll often find that when going for a headshot you’ll end up shooting way above the enemies head, this is very frustrating. Now I say how frustrating this is, which it is, but it’s not game breaking. The combat definitely takes second fiddle to the destruction. Being able to stroll into a military facility with a gattling gun and destroying everything in sight is what this game is about. Truth be told though, if your the kind of gamer you enjoys games based on gunplay this game might not be for you.

The best way to look at this game is from plane high above the mountain tops, from up here the environment looks beautiful, the sea glistens, the snow covers the towering mountains like icing sugar and vivid green forests stand out against the desolate deserts. Alot of work has clearly gone into making this game look as gorgeous as possible, the environment, the character models and the vehicles all look great. So visually the game is stunning but how does it sound? To tell the truth there isn’t much to listen to. Background music is barely noticeable and easily forgettable. Sound effect and speech often glitch up which is very annoying especially when you have to listen to a man with a very unconvincing Asain accent repeat “He is in the permi…”. Some times you start to wonder how much polishing the sound design actually went through.

Just Cause 2 is a kleptomaniac’s worst nightmare with over 1500 collectables and 350+ locations all needed for 100% completion. Add 104 different vehicles to drive into the mix and this game is going to be one of the hardest games to 100%. The game should keep you going for a very long time though taking between 15 and 20 hours to complete the story, if your looking for a game that’s going to keep you satisfied for up to a year then this is the game for you.

Even with it’s flaws Just Cause 2 is still a fantastic game, the great sense of satisfaction you get after completing a settlement can’t be beaten. Please, if you do play this game, don’t take it seriously, it’s not that type of game. The best way to describe it is pick up and play, it’s just pure honest fun. It doesn’t require skill, just the ability to use the controller. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick up the game cheap, so if you do see it sitting on a shelf for a tenner, please buy, I guarantee you’ll love it.

+ So much fun

+ Alot to see and do

+Beautiful environment

+Grappling hook is pure enjoyment

– Poor gunplay

82%

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Nintendo 3DS XL gets its own Circle Pad Pro

Nintendo 3DS XL

The Circle Pad Pro accessory released earlier this year will not be compatible with the recently-announced Nintendo 3DS XL. Instead, this larger iteration of Nintendo’s latest handheld will recieve its own version of the Circle Pad Pro.

The Circle Pad Pro adds an additional Circle Pad and two extra buttons to the device, allowing for more intuitive control schemes in compatible games.

No images of the new Circle Pad Pro have been released, although a 2012 release date has been given.

Nintendo have confirmed that downloaded games and save data will be able to be transferred from a Nintendo 3DS to a Nintendo 3DS XL, and that the new system is compatible with the stand that was bundled with Kid Icarus: Uprising.

(Source: Weekly Famitsu via Andriasang.com)

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Final Fantasy concert to be held in Edinburgh this November

Scotland’s Edinburgh Playhouse will host a Distant Worlds concert playing music from the Final Fantasy series on 4th November.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra will perform popular tunes from the series, accompanied by video footage of the games. VIP ticket holders will also be able to meet the conductor and Masashi Hamauzu, composer of Final Fantasy XIII.

Tickets cost upwards of £30. More details are available on the concert’s official website.

(A Distant Worlds concert will also be held in London on 2nd November, with series composer Nobuo Uematsu in attendance, although it appears that regular tickets are sold out. The event’s website indicates that restricted view seats are still available, however.)

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Lets Talk About… Bastion

Bastion. Noun. A well fortified position. One of the greatest games to come out of 2011.

Bastion is a loveable game based around the adventures of the otherwise anonymous “kid” as he tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, with few survivors. Prior to the calamity that wrecked their world, the people of the city of Caelondia had designed the Bastion, a floating fortress to be accessed in times of strife. You play as the kid, questing into the wilds surrounding the ruins of Caelondia, searching for cores to power the Bastion.

Gameplay

The game is set out in as a relatively simple 2D isometric adventure/fighter game, with a series of weapons and special abilities to help you fight through the swarms of creatures that have been left afraid and paranoid by the calamity. You control the kid with a fairly standard set of controls, with two default setups for either mouse or keyboard heavy control, however, in either instance, the keys are fully rebindable. With regards to weapons, you get to pick two weapons from a wide variety from swords and bows to repeaters and handguns, each of which handles differently, giving you something for every play style. As well as picking your two weapons, you get to choose a secret skill, from several generic ones to some more powerful, weapon specific attacks. These skills are all powered by the mysterious black tonics that you find scattered around the levels. In addition to all this, you get to choose other, passive tonics (skills) from the distillery and upgrade weapons at the forge.

The game uses a very pleasing progression system that is based partly on currency, partly on experience points. By defeating the various enemies in the levels, you will gain experience points as well as causing drops of currency. You can also gain currency by destroying the various scenery, while experience can be gained from collecting relics of the destroyed world. Experience points is what will gain you levels, with new levels increasing your maximum health and allowing you to take extra skills. Currency can be used to buy upgrades for your weapons or new skills and items at the shop. The game also allows you to increase the difficulty for you by invoking the various gods, powering up enemies with either new abilities or buffs in exchange for increased experience and currency. Although most of the mechanics are not particularly innovative, it doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to be great as its occasional puzzle and boss fight, as well as its brilliant aesthetic are enough to make the game incredibly enjoyable. And on the subject of aesthetic…

Graphics and Design

Bastion, despite large amounts of it being in ruined city areas, manages to avoid the trap of greying the world, a trap many games have fell into recently. It remains colourful throughout, without losing the post-apocalyptic feel. The creatures in the game range from steampunk-esque creations to sentient plants and giant monsters of legend, none of which feel out of place. The storyline for the game is compelling; you are able to empathise with the characters and really get immersed in the world. The game is also accompanied by an incredibly enchanting soundtrack that is used to perfectly echo the gameplay. That then brings us onto the topic of the voice actors. The game is almost unique in this part as it has exactly one voiced character, an elderly man who narrates the entire game. He has one of the most compelling voices, and the lines are written in the style of an old grandfather telling tales of adventure to his grandchildren around a fire on a cold winter’s night. While playing the levels, the narrator will comment on your gameplay, exalting you if you are performing well, mocking you if you keep falling off the edge.

Final Thoughts and Scoring

I will conclude now by just saying that this is quite possibly one of the best games of the past year, and it is definitely worth buying.

My Score: 93%

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