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Archive for May, 2010


Image Credit: The Sixth Axis/NeoGAF

A post on NeoGAF this morning suggested that the online play in new PS3 racer ModNation Racers has been region locked. Following up on the story posted over at The Sixth Axis this morning, I decided to take the question to Dan Sochan of United Front Games, who appeared on Kotaku Talk Radio this evening to talk a bit about the game and to field fan questions.

It seems that the region barrier was put up to reduce the possibilities of getting laggy matches. The logic behind it is, if you’re playing in America with a bunch of Americans and getting good speeds and no lag, the last thing you want, especially in a racing game, is someone from the far side of the Atlantic (or even Pacific for that matter) to try to connect and slow down the game for everyone else by having a higher ping, and vice versa (whichever applies to you personally).

While it makes sense when you put it that way, it certainly hasn’t stopped Mario Kart, Blur, Burnout, Gran Turismo, or any other online racing game for that matter, so it’s a bit baffling as to why start that business now. But the good news is, is that they’re looking at ways to reduce intercontinental lag, and possibly removing the region barrier in the near future whenever they do so.

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Credit: IGN.com

Rockstar has a, let’s just say, uncanny knack of having most of its catalog of games highly praised. Sure, you can say that about almost any major publisher, but aside from Manhunt 2, all of Rockstar’s games have been received well by critics and gamers alike. Red Dead Redemption, sequel to  Red Dead Revolver on PS2 and Xbox, will probably be no different. I say popular because it’s still early days yet, but after spending a good portion of the weekend playing it, I can’t possibly see anything else happening with it.

Red Dead Redemption was developed by Rockstar’s San Diego studio, creators of the Midnight Club Racing series, and written in New York by Dan Houser, who has also penned, amongst other things, the Grand Theft Auto series since 3.

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Following on from comments made by Bioware writing director Daniel Erickson on Strategy Informer regarding Final Fantasy XIII’s status as a role-playing game (RPG), comment sections across websites have exploded in either agreement or in pure rage, depending on what side of the fanboy spectrum people are sitting on. Now, while he says in a nutshell that Final Fantasy XIII isn’t an RPG, I have to take point with this. I feel that there’s certain core game mechanics that make up whether the game is classed as an RPG, and not the story the mechanics revolve around.

From whatever games I’ve played in my history, the ones labelled as RPG usually tended to be the ones where you could repeatedly grind against enemies to up your stats, in order to make further enemies easier on yourself (of course negated in games like Final Fantasy VIII where enemies worked on a progressive levelling scale and went up along with you). There’s a certain degree of item collecting as well, and doing so can unlock even further character ability customisation options, be they aesthetically or statistically. “Classic” RPGs also tend to have preset commands that you select from a menu as opposed to live gameplay.

The problem with the RPG I think, isn’t that the traditional RPG series (is that plural as well as singular? Or is it sereii?) we all know and love are branching out into other areas of gameplay while retaining familiar elements. It’s that other games are taking its elements and bolting it on.

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To celebrate Steam’s eagerly-awaited availability natively on Mac, Valve are cracking open the release bubbly – and are offering Portal free of charge until May 24th.

Portal is a first-person shooter/puzzle from Valve themselves that was released in 2007 both independently, as well as part of the hugely successful Orange Box, that also contains Half Life 2, Episodes 1 and 2, as well as Team Fortress 2. It’s won numerous Game of the Year awards, as well as awards awards in writing and game design.

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Just got word that this year’s Eurogamer Expo will be on in London this year, and I’m seriously considering going (making it my third visit to the city, and 4th to England overall). It’s on from the 1st to the 3rd of October in the Brompton Hall in Earls Court.

Tickets are retty cheap as well if you’re in the city and want to toodle on down as well. It’s £8 for a day ticket, making the whole Friday-Sunday weekend £24 overall, which is pretty damn good if you ask me, considering how expensive these events are in America, like the Penny Arcade Expos, CES, GDC, and the mack daddy, E3.

It’ll be great to get an early look in at what’s going to be the big holiday games of the year, as the timing’s absolute prime for the start of the Christmas rush, so if I do wind up going*, expect to hear plenty of what I think about all the big games, as I’ll be getting to play most of them, talk to developers (and by that it’s probably only their PR folk) about them and get a good basis of opinion on what to spend my money on.

*pending passport renewal

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This is for the stumblers that haven’t been paying attention to my Twitter or Facebook accounts (both on the right hand sidebar by the way.), and yes, I’m very aware that I’m late to the party on this one, given that it’s been out of the best part of about a month, but I just cannot emphasise how awesome this is.

Brad Smith, a software engineer currently at Killspace Entertainment, formerly with Obsidian Entertainment (who are in the process of making the upcoming Fallout sequel, New Vegas) pretty much transcribed the entire Pink Floyd album “The Dark Side Of The Moon” onto an NES sound chip.

I suppose what delayed me from actually putting this up was my unfamiliarity with the original album (Yeah. I said it! Shoot me!), but after giving the real deal a few listens on YouTube, and going back over it afterwards with MOON8, the whole thing’s pretty much a like-for-like rendition. Everything’s done to meticulous detail, in particular the jingles of cash registers at the start of Money (which I’ve posted above), and the whole thing’s just an absolute joy to listen to, even if, like me, you’re not familiar with the source, or even just like chiptune music.

I’ve listened to my fair share of chiptune music, growing up with a C64 and being interested in that kind of thing from an early age, and I never pictured that anyone or anything could come close to Ben Daglish’s astounding SID cover of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven, but this.. this is the best 44 minutes of chiptune music I’ve ever heard.

MOON8 is available for free here. It comes in 2 MP3 files, split into Sides 1 and 2 in accordance with its vinyl release. The tracks however, can be separated if so desired using an external application such as Audacity. The project started in 2006, and took over 100 hours of work to complete on-and-off over the last 4 years.

This may have been made on a Nintendo sound chip, but it’s filed under Other Crap, due to the fact that that aside, it has nothing to do with playing videogames.

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Image via Kotaku.com

Audiosurf is a game for the PC by Invisible Handlebar, and is published on the Steam digital distribution platform.

Now, like Beat Hazard beforehand, this game also harnesses the power of your music collection to generate the levels on-game, but where Beat Hazard takes the all-out action road, Audiosurf prefers to call its levels “rides” in the sense that each one is an experience. I’ll elaborate on this later, bur first we’ll see how it plays, shall we?

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