Month: November 2013

Yahtzee’s survival-horror game can only get better

Yahtzee’s survival-horror game can only get better

With a passion for games that offer powerful storytelling experiences and exploration, popular game critic Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw decided to use these two elements and create The Consuming Shadow.

When an ancient god tries to enter our world through Stonehedge, it’s up to the player to find four runes in order to stop the transition. These runes are spread across England, and a series of car trips, conversations, shopping trips, shoot outs, and coffee breaks eventually lead you to a conclusion.

A mix of survivor horror elements and management designs are combined with a narrative that gives you 72 in-game hours to complete. Travelling from town to town takes time, so does searching for clues and supplies. An ominous yet subtle ‘boom’ chimes in with the passing of each hour to remind you the end grows nearer. An eerie score attaches itself to the start screen, setting the tone for the rest of the game right from the get-go.

Clues you find throughout the course of the game pile up over time, and your actions have immediate, at times deadly, consequences. If the time limit and threat of permanent death don’t phase you, a depleting sanity meter should keep you on your toes. Over time, twisted, mysterious text messages will roll in during your town-to-town travels, jarring your mind and increasing the possibility of suicide. Drugs you find throughout your adventure can ease your mentality and help you focus on the task at hand.

When you enter a building or park, you’re placed in a 2-D plane with a map of the “dungeon” you’re in on the top left. You have the ability to sprint, shoot, loot, and investigate clues during these sections. Ammunition can run out in no time, in which case you’re left to pistol whip your enemies that consist of headless mutants, large flying insects, and other indescribable abominations.

The game has done a commendable job so far of establishing tone. The random, unpredictable encounters on the road, the need to rest occasionally and regain focus, the constant loss of sanity, and the easily accessible gameplay amount to an impressive reveal for Croshaw. If you have any feedback, he encourages you to pass it along to him so a full version of the game can contain more content. You can download the free beta here.

Indie games to the rescue as physical games dwindle in numbers 1

Indie games to the rescue as physical games dwindle in numbers

The PlayStation 2 has nearly 4000 games, and there’s no way we’ll ever see a system harbor such a monstrous library again.  When you consider the amount of downloadable content that was available during the PS2 era, which was next to nothing, you may wonder how the system got by. It’s probably safe to say it got by because a lot of those games were fun, and still hold up today.

Now we’re engulfed in a gaming community where microtransactions reign supreme, and are necessary in order to provide games with added longevity. Other games are released with leaf-thin amount of content, then expanded upon with well-timed DLC. If you want to know more about this cunning technique known as robbery, check out Marvel VS Capcom 3 and it’s successor Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3. Basic functions like an online theatre-mode were completely absent in MVC 3, that is until the “Ultimate” version came to the rescue and included this basic feature that any online-fighting game should include. It’s mighty unfortunate that games giving it their all right out of the box are a thing of the past.

Not only that, but games are becoming more expensive to make, so we’ve seen less and less of them hit shelves. The PlayStation 3 has around 800 games, a significant drop from the PS2’s massive library. Should we expect to see this number drop during the next phase of the PlayStation’s legacy? Yes we should, and for those saying quality over quantity is going to make it all worth it, are you really saying better graphics will make up for the lack of games? I’m not sure about that, the last time I checked, Shinobii 3 on the Sega Genesis (random pick I know) was a more enjoyable hack n’ slash game than Ryse is, despite the launch game’s technical superiority. We’re still within the launch window, so no doubt the potential of these next gen consoles haven’t been fully realized. It’s just a little disheartening knowing these systems will never accumulate such  a huge number of games once their times come to an end.

Indie games should fill this gap admirably however. There’s so many of them out there, and they often deliver fascinating stories that convey strong emotional responses big budget titles struggle to accomplish sometimes. Others, simply fulfill the most basic need any game requires, and that’s to be fun and addictive, like Super Meat Boy. They’re also wallet-friendly, a trait many admire about indie games. To date, the Xbox 360 has nearly 1000 games under its belt, however there are 2,250 indies found on the Xbox Live marketplace. This pattern should grow with the Xbox One and PS4, moreso with the PS4, which seems to have a firm grip on the indie market.

Though we’ll never be able to boast about the PS4 or Xbox One’s expansive list of games – games that hit shelves remind you – there’s a lot of room for indie games to grow and fill that emptiness, while they sidestep the onslaught of DLC and micro-transactions big companies  overuse at times.

 

Nostalgia will have to wait, Retron 5 delayed

Nostalgia will have to wait, Retron 5 delayed

The master console of retro gaming – no, not the Ouya – has been delayed.

A series of faulty pins in the cartridge slots have halted the release of the product, for now. Set to release in December, its been pushed to an early 2014 release and will cost $99.

A classic gamer’s dream, the Retron 5 has slots for NES, SNES, GameBoy Advance, GameBoy Colour, Genesis/Mega Drive, and Famicom cartridges. It even features its own Bluetooth controller, and has an HDMI output allowing users to play these classics on modern television sets.

With the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 now behind us, the buzz surrounding the two consoles has fizzled out. The delay of the Retron 5 is disappointing not only because we now have to wait a little longer to dive into nostalgia land, but it’s release in December would have offered us a plethora of games to play over the holidays. I mean, let’s face it, Xbox One and PS4 have a small library of titles that don’t pack any substantial punches or surprises. We’re still within the launch window so it’s no surprise, but being able to go back and play Turtles in Time and Mickey Mouse: The Great Circus Mystery on one system would have been a nice holiday treat. Mickey and Minnie were fierce back in the day.

If you have a Retron 3, you’re lucky. Enjoy it. For the rest of us, we’ll have to wait a little longer to relive some classic memories.

Source: gamespot.com

Cyborgs Belong in Videogames

Cyborgs Belong in Videogames

The last two games I’ve played are XCOM: Enemy Within and Shadowrun Returns. They’re both lovely titles, well worth recommending despite a handful of glitches apiece, that made me start to think about something. Enemy Within and Shadowrun Returns share gameplay similarities — their combat is turn-based and takes place on a grid of invisible movement tiles — but it’s their inclusion of part human, part robot hybrids that made me realize that cyborgs, particularly in the context of videogames, are pretty interesting.

I think, to some degree at least, everyone is fascinated by the idea of humans who have been transformed into partially robotic machines. When we look at the giant MEC soldiers from the new XCOM expansion, seeing soldiers who have volunteered to have their bodies replaced with cold metal in order to better kill aliens, it’s tough to think of them as a purely fantastic invention. Sure, we aren’t likely to see armies of people who have transformed into robotic death machines in our lifetime, but the rapid pace of technological advancement we witness every day at least lets us see the possibility of such a scenario. We can envision a time when, faced with a world-ending crisis of the type posited by Enemy Within‘s hostile alien invasion, our species could choose to combine our organic bodies with machines to become something more.

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Shadowrun Returns

A cyborg, according to dictionary definition, refers to anyone “whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.” When we hear the term it isn’t likely that we’re thinking of anything so banal as a person with a pacemaker, though. Rather, we envisage strange characters like Enemy Within‘s human/robot amalgamations, with their piston legs and Gatling gun arms. But the truth, as explored in some games, is a lot closer to home. The augmented mercenary Deckers found in Shadowrun Returns are pretty much just normal people with the added ability to interface with virtual reality representations of internet-style information networks. Despite hanging out in a Detroit populated with elves, orks, and trolls, the Deckers are not unlike a modern human who enjoys constant access to some bizarre combination of iPhone and Oculus Rift. When separated from the crazy world they live in, they’re downright plausible.

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XCOM: Enemy Within

While Shadowrun Returns presents cyborgs as a matter-of-fact part of its strange alternate reality, there have also been examples of part human/part robot hybrids who grow out of more grounded settings. Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution also takes place primarily in Detroit, but omits fantasy trappings in favour of a near future depiction of the city that closely resembles the real one (albeit much more economically prosperous). This foundation allows players to more easily buy into the game’s discussion of transhumanism and allow us to view its cyborg characters as an inevitable result of our current access to devices like Google Glass. Rather than see the superhuman abilities of its cyborg cast as completely unreal, we recognize them as a coming version of ourselves. We live in a time, after all, when South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee, can compete against top international runners on an equal playing field due in part to the technological miracle of his highly advanced prosthetic legs. It’s fascinating to consider how far humans will be able to push beyond our current limitations as time goes on, as we more willingly become cyborgs.

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution

It’s likely that we’re going to see more of the kind of cyborgs represented in Human Revolution in future games, too. Videogames are one of the more appropriate forms of media in which to tackle the subject. Their reliance on advanced technology in facilitating storytelling almost guarantees that audiences are already keyed into the possibility of sophisticated computers and robotics, ready and willing to entertain ideas of machine-enabled human evolution. This is a good thing because there is so much more for us to think about when we consider the concept of cyborgs. Our species’ march toward a strange new future is intrinsically tied into technology. Looking at what this will entail is something that videogames can mine for fantastic, thought-provoking stories and settings. The coming centuries won’t look much like the world of Shadowrun Returns, XCOM: Enemy Within, or even the more realistic Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but playing these games — and engaging with their cyborg characters — gives us at least some glimpse into possible versions of our collective future.

Plot details arise for ‘Fight Club’ comic sequel 1

Plot details arise for ‘Fight Club’ comic sequel

Plot details revolving around the previously announced graphic-novel sequel to Fight Club have surfaced.

In an interview with Hustler, Chuck Palahniuk revealed the sequel will begin from Tyler Durden’s submerged point-of-view, as he observes the day-to-day life of Cornelius, the man he transformed after the events of Fight Club. His wife grows tired of the mundane lifestyle that’s engulfed them, and she begins to experiment with the drugs Cornelius needs to suppress the mysterious and charismatic Durden who lives inside of him. As a result, Durden returns to wreak havoc on their lives. That’s the part I’m looking forward to the most.

If you’re wondering why Palahniuk went with the comic book format, you’re not alone. However, it seems he’s confident his story will fit perfectly within the new medium.

“My publisher’s been shipping me to comic-cons, and it seems that my readership overlaps perfectly with the comic-con crowd,” he said in an interview with concordmonitor.com. “So I thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s like storyboarding a movie. It’s fun. It won’t be published for a while, and we’ll probably bring it out in installments, rather than book form.”

Fight Club is an incredible story which portrays personal struggle in a dark, emotional, and at times hilarious manner, which only Palahniuk could write. To see these concepts enter the comic book world is excellent news, and further emphasizes comic’s creative ability to extend stories beyond their original platforms.

Canadian Super Heroes Unite

Canadian Super Heroes Unite

There are a lot of Canucks running around saving the day in comics.

A handful of them can be found in the first volume of True Patriots, a collection of stories put together by several award-winning and fan favourite Canadian comic book creators like Joseph Torres and Andy Belanger. Released this past summer, True Patriot was a huge success. As a result, volume 2 is planned for a summer 2014 release. The upcoming anthology can be found on Kickstarter,  and a number of stretch goals are hoping to be met in its last three days of campaigning, including an additional eight pages of content.

True Patriots is a an excellent blend of varying art styles, ranging from a more animated style to mainstream visuals, and heroes span from action-adventurers to ones based on mythology.

It’s a book a broader audience can jump into and enjoy, so if you feel Canadians are underrepresented in comics, now is your chance to support a plethora of them.

 

PlayStation 4 Review: Filled With Future Potential 4

PlayStation 4 Review: Filled With Future Potential

The PlayStation 4 has now been out long enough for people to have spent hours and even days with the system. For many, this is a console that’s on the Christmas wish list. For others, it’s been pushed to March when more games come out, or much later in the year to catch up on firmware updates. But waiting a few months—while actually a pretty safe, sensible decision—doesn’t actually tell you what you’re getting into when you buy the system. If you want to know what a PlayStation 4 is like, and how it stacks up to its predecessors and competitors, then keep reading. Everything here is all from extensive, hands on experience with the system.

The Setting Up

There are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind if you’re getting a PS4. Sony is assuming that you’re going to be hooking this up to an HD TV, so you’re getting only an HDMI cable to connect it. You’re also only getting one controller with its USB plug for recharging, one ear bud/microphone for online communication, the power cable and, of course, the PS4 itself.

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Putting this altogether is much less painful affair than it has been in the past. I exercised my optional hardware options, swapping out the standard hard drive to put in a 1 TB hybrid, but even that was easy to do, and only required the extra step of downloading the PS4 firmware off a PC, and onto a thumb drive to install on the now virgin PS4. Users that ignore this step simply need to turn on the machine and start configuring language and internet connection settings. The PS4 will do the rest, looking for the latest firmware update online and taking care of initial housekeeping duties by itself.

From there it’s time to set up your account, and this has a few options, depending on how embedded you are in the PSN ecosystem already, and whether you got the optional PS4 camera. People starting fresh will have to create a PSN account, which will carry over to Movies Unlimited if you want to buy/rent digital films and Music Unlimited if you want to subscribe to Sony’s music streaming service. People with existing PSN accounts just have to log in with their e-mail and password and the PS4 will set everything up, and if you go the extra mile and have a PS+ subscription, you get immediate benefits like cloud data storage for game saves and, of course, Contrast and Resogun free from the PlayStation store.

PlayStation-4-Camera

If you decided to take the plunge and buy the optional camera, you’ll now also be able to use facial recognition so different users in the household can log into their accounts. There’s also an option for voice control, though this doesn’t require the camera as the wired headset and microphone included can also double as a voice input. This isn’t the most extensive voice control around, you can navigate to the main menu, start up games, take a screenshot, and power off the PS4, but that’s about it. You can’t power up your PS4 using voice commands because, unlike the Kinect camera, the PS4 camera isn’t always listening. At least not yet. If you’re a heavy Facebook user and love to keep your friends constantly updated about every single thing you do, but hated the tedium of grabbing a phone or tablet in order to keep up the momentum while gaming, then you’re in luck. PSN accounts now link up to Facebook, allowing the PS4 itself to automatically update your Facebook feed. If you’re on Twitter, there’s some limited functionality to link to your account, but if you’re on Google+ or any other social network, you’re out of luck. Sony currently loves Facebook, is grudgingly accommodating Twitter and is ignoring everyone else.

The bottom line is the PS4 is more complicated to get up and running than your toaster oven but less complicated than your smart phone or laptop. Anyone reasonably familiar with modern technology should not get lost at sea here.

The Hardware

The guts of the PS4 are quite impressive by PS3 standards, though the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race will peg the new architecture as sitting roughly in the mid-to-high end range of processing power. The build quality of the actual case is quite eye-catching, with the angular design and mix of matte and reflective surfaces drawing a lot of attention to the unit, especially when the strip of light on the top starts changing colors to reflect various states of condition for the hardware. As usual, the hard drive can be replaced with another of your own choosing, and you can do this without voiding your warranty, unlike the Xbox One, which nulls your warranty for attempting the same thing since it was never intended.

PlayStation 4 Specs

Optical Drive BD × 6 CAV
DVD × 8 CAV
Processor x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”, 8 cores
Video  1.84 TFLOPS, AMD Radeon™ based graphics engine
Memory GDDR5 8GB
Storage 500GB, 1TB
Input-Output Super-Speed USB (USB 3.1 Gen1) port × 2
AUX port × 1
Networking Ethernet(10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)×1

IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Bluetooth®v4.0

A/V Hookups HDMI™ out port (HDR output supported)
Power AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz

Perhaps one of the most surprising things about the PS4 is that unlike the PS3, this is NOT a top of the line Blu-Ray player. It has a faster drive, which makes installation go by more quickly compared to the Xbox One, and the actual image and sound quality of BD playback is still just as good as it was on the PS3, but what it lacks are features. Even the PS3 can play 3D Blu-Rays while the PS4 currently cannot. Unlike the PS3, the PS4 can’t identify the disc in the slot, and doesn’t give you a custom start icon, which also feels like a step backwards. There are likely to be firmware updates in the very near future to address these issues, but in the meantime, the PS4 also doesn’t necessarily play every BD in your collection. Disney’s Beauty & The Beast simply had a lot of problems working, only successfully playing after multiple hard resets and retries. It’s not a wide ranging problem, but for now keep in mind that a small percentage of BDs don’t want to play ball with the PS4.

There is also the issue of a lack of remote controls for the PS4. As with previous consoles, the PS4 is incompatible with conventional universal remotes, and Sony does not offer a custom Bluetooth remote the way they currently do with the PS3. On the other hand, if you have a TV equipped with HDMI-CEC (CEC stands for Consumer Electronics Control) you can actually use your HDMI connection to detect the PS4 and enable it to recognize commands from your remote. I tested this on a Sony Bravia TV and found that I was able to use my remote to navigate the main menu and even play back movies.

Then there’s the DualShock 4. Much has already been written about it, but it bears repeating, this is an improvement on the DualShock 3 in almost every conceivable way, EXCEPT battery life. The only catch to the improved performance (and the ability to plug a headset straight into your controller for online communication) is that the battery life took a serious hit. Where the DualShock 3 could comfortably last for a few days of hardcore play, the DS4 clocks in at about eight to ten hours, depending on how much rumble functionality is used. It’s a clear trade off, necessitating either buying a USB cable extension so you can continue to play with the DS4 plugged into the console for recharging, or buy a second controller to use while the drained unit recharges.

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Finally, there’s an issue with a small percentage of PS4’s not working properly out of the box. Right now this is NOT an RROD phenomenon, the amount of defective PS4’s out there is well within the 1% or less margin that is considered normal for retail electronics. You’ll know if you have a defective PS4—it simply won’t work when you try to turn it on. Unlike RROD, which took some time to “sink in” as the heat from the Xbox 360 gradually killed the unit, the defective PS4s are dead on arrival, so chances are if you get a PS4 and it works, it’s going to keep on working.

The OS

Sony has created a new hybrid OS that is partly composed of the PS3’s minimal cross media bar, and a larger, “tile” configuration reminiscent of Windows 8, or the Facebook starting page. The result is an odd looking interface that is blazingly fast. Users can use the DualShock 4 to quickly navigate the top bar, jumping from settings to profile to other functions, including Party Chat, which now puts the PS4’s communication at parity with Xbox Live and the similar system they’ve had in place for years. The lower section is where users can check out the “What’s New” page that is constantly updated with events pulled from your friend list. The rest of the section is populated with most popular/recently used applications. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any way to organize this, which is a definite loss compared to the “pin” ability that the Xbox One OS provides to its users. As more games and apps accumulate, it’s a real concern about whether the clutter to this secondary panel will become unmanageable.

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On the other hand, the sheer speed of the OS makes it easy and convenient to use. Installing games is fast, thanks to the high speed BD drive, and many games, like Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall allow users to start playing before the installation is complete. On the whole, installing and playing games is—at least for now—a faster experience than on the Xbox One. The generous amount of RAM built into the PS4 ensures that you can keep some applications running—though not always simultaneously—without any hit to performance, so users can have a game of Assassin’s Creed 4 running while using the Music Unlimited service in the background to stream their favourite songs, rather than use the built in soundtrack. It’s even possible to flip back and forth between a suspended game and the built in internet browser. You can even do this with Netflix, though for some reason the PS4 will notify you that the game in progress is going into suspended mode, a feature which is not actually supposed to be there yet, at least when powering down the entire system, which requires game be closed enitrely. This is another win for the Xbox One in this regard, where users can play a game while watching TV at the same time in two different windows. There’s also the little matter of no MP3 files playable on the PS4 and DLNA streaming not working either. Both these features are currently available on PS3. The OS is very, VERY focused on games, and social media and not much else.

The optional PS4 camera is an intriguing device, but right now it’s a lot of promise without a whole lot of practical application. Aside from The Playroom—which is included with the PS4—the only other piece of software that uses the camera in any meaningful way is Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2014. It’s most practical use right now is for live streaming. Users can stream their games as a live broadcast on the PS4, but the use of the camera allows them to appear and speak to users that view their stream. Some users have already stumbled on using the Playroom game as a way to maintain a permanent, wide field of view for live streaming. This has resulted in some clever “talk show” style broadcasts—which have even been acknowledged by Sony themselves. Of course there are also not-so-clever uses, such as one couple where the man stripped the woman live, on camera, resulting in the immediate ban of the account. For what it is, the camera works very, very well, but at this time, there’s no serious use of it. Even voice commands—which don’t require the camera—are limited to a paltry list of only ten commands, and turning on the PS4 is not one of those commands.

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In summary, the OS is functional, but not all encompassing. It’s not as well suited to multi-tasking as the Xbox One’s OS but is also faster and more responsive. It’s certain there will be future firmware updates to expand its functionality—just as there were in the last generation—but for now what’s there works fast, even enjoying a faster built in web browsing experience than the Xbox One with Internet Explorer.

The Second Screen Experience

This is one of the truly new additions to the latest console generation. We’ve already seen a little bit of tablet/smartphone interaction on the PS3, the dedicated screen on the Wii U controller, and of course, SmartGlass on the Xbox One. The PS4 is taking a much broader approach, incorporating both a tablet/smartphone functionality as well as co-opting the Vita, to act as both a second screen and, more ambitiously, a remote player to stream PS4 games.

Right now it’s difficult to comment on the second screen functionality since nothing seems to actually use it. Even Assassin’s Creed IV has its own dedicated app that users need to download to a phone or tablet. Sony itself has already used the Vita as a second screen for some PS3 games, notably Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. But for the launch of the PS4, nothing actually takes advantage of this ability, unless you count using your Vita, tablet or smartphone as a way to input text for digital code redemption, rather than using the controller.

Remote play, however, works.

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There are a few caveats to this. If you’re going to use remote play, and you want it to be an optimal experience, it’s advisable to have the PS4 wired via Ethernet cable to the internet. The reason for this is that the remote play function itself will use the household Wi-Fi network, and so you want to cut down the wireless activity going back and forth from the PS4 to the Vita. If you’re able to meet these optimal conditions, remote play is an impressive experience that works well. There are a few hiccups here and there, but for the most part, even an FPS like Shadow Fall or a fast paced shooter like Resogun is actually quite playable on the Vita.

On the other hand, if you’re the sort that can’t stand wires, then remote play, as alluring as it may sound, will probably not work well for you. As a field test, I played some games remotely from the PS4 while a PS3 was hooked up to the same TV and—via Wi-Fi—played Final Fantasy XIV. Despite the fact that there was a lot of information whizzing around through the air, the Vita was quite comfortable streaming Contrast. Then I switched the connections around, plugging the Ethernet cable into the PS3 and setting the PS4 to wireless. The result was dramatic. The Vita was unplayable. Switching over the Knack, I found that while the game would stream smoothly in spurts, it dropped the connection regularly, or lagged frequently enough that by the time the lag spike ended I found myself dead and forced to start over.

Remote play does work. But Sony’s advice about optimal play conditions isn’t really advice. If the PS4 isn’t using an Ethernet connection, your remote play experience is going to vary wildly from unstable to unplayable, depending on how much Wi-Fi traffic there is on your network. One big, BIG caveat to the remote play function however, is that it currently only works for games. If you want to watch a BD disc inserted in the PS4, or, for some reason, want to watch Netflix without using the Vita app, this won’t work. So, game streaming, YES, video streaming, NO.

The Launch Games

The PS4’s launch line up is better than any of its predecessors. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much. Launch tends to be typically weak for games on any console, though some a fortunate few are lucky enough to have a must have title that defines the system right from the start. The PS4 doesn’t. Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack are the two disc-based exclusives, and while neither is a bad game, they’re not setting new standards either. The highest rated games for the console are all 3rd party titles, such as Assassin’s Creed IV or FIFA 14. On the other hand, there is a strong line up “non-AAA” titles with indie games such as Contrast and Resogun as well as numerous MMOs and free-to-play games, like DC Universe Online and Warframe.

Killzone-Shadow-Fall-5
Killzone: Shadow Fall

Quality aside, however, the launch lineup does a good job of hinting at the real power of the PS4. Both Shadow Fall and Knack show the big trend in graphics will be particle effects. Shadow Fall in particular plays around with light and throws in a lot of polygons at high levels of detail while Knack is largely a smooth experience, with only the barest hint of performance drop in the busiest levels. Even “transition games” like Assassin’s Creed IV show significant improvement in performance, and throw in some extra touches lacking in the last gen versions, such as the wind actually billowing the sails out on the open sea. Truthfully, there’s nothing here that screams Super Mario 64 or Halo, but then the same can be said for Xbox One right now.

The Future

The big question is, “Is the PS4 worth buying right now?” For those that buy a system based on the games available, the answer is “No.” Sony still needs to work out a few minor manufacturing defects that are making a tiny percentage of PS4’s broken out of the box. The launch line up, while decent, is in the “nice” to “pretty good” category, with nothing really screaming must own. The camera, while promising, isn’t doing anything too compelling right now, and most games aren’t even taking advantage of the touch pad on the DualShock 4, let alone the built in speakers.

The situation is going to be very different a few months from now, however. InFamous: Second Son is a marquee title for the PS4 that many have their eyes on. Drive Club will also be out around that same period, and Destiny will finally step into the limelight. Even Tim Schafer is reportedly working on some content for the PS4 camera, so the future is looking much brighter for the PS4. If you decide to buy a PS4 now, or for Christmas, you’re basically investing in the future. The technology on display shows glimpses of impressive power, but it’s just that; brief glimpses. By the time March arrives, the PS4—like the Xbox One—will be in much better shape with a few firmware updates to iron out the kinks and some high profile games to really get excited about. Right now the PS4 is looking good and wearing a suit, but the party it’s been invited to won’t start for another few months.

IndieGameMagazine's Controversial Review Policy

IndieGameMagazine’s Controversial Review Policy

IndieGameMagazine has been receiving some backlash from developers and consumers. On November 25th, a community post on Destructoid by Twisted Jenius claimed that the magazine wanted $50 to review his game.

In response to these allegations, owner Chris Newton wrote a blog on the website, voicing his opinions on the matter. In it, he says “what I clearly outlined in my overview is that we require a $50.00 fee to be paid in order to provide compensation to my team. If you don’t have the $50.00, that is totally understandable, and I will have one of my writers provide you with a game preview at no cost. However, I also stated in the email, which was not yet pointed out, that if you want the review and don’t have the money, I accept labor trade instead. I would classify labor as doing a graphic for IGM, write a code or something that the team can easily do that will be equal value trade to both parties.”

He also states at the end of his post that his team will be sure to write unbiased reviews. Our editor-in-chief Brendan Frye completely disagrees with this idea, and says “it’s a vile move that hurts the industry.”

IndieGameMagazine has been known to be a voice for indie titles in the past, including games like Fez and Ring Runner.

Here is CGM’s review policy. We would just like to note we do not charge developers to review their games. What do you think gamers, is this a valid business idea? Or is it just hurting the little guy?

Hold Onto That Old Hardware 2

Hold Onto That Old Hardware

For some new console owners, we are quickly approaching the threshold that many early adopters dread; the dry spell. Yes, there’s a handful of big retail releases available on both consoles, but only open world games like Assassin’s Creed IV and Dead Rising 3 are going to have the potential staying power to remain in play through Christmas and beyond. Aside from that, and perhaps a few smaller downloadable titles released on the respective digital stores for each console, we don’t have a whole lot to do until March.

This is why—especially in light of the lack of backwards compatibility—it’s probably a good idea to not give that Xbox 360 or PS3 to the nephew, kids in the neighborhood, or guy in the dorm that doesn’t have a console. Giving up your old hardware now would be denying yourself access to some of the final great titles of the last generation.

You only have to look at historical precedent to see what I’m getting at. In the previous generation, as the PS3 and Xbox 360 slowly took over the gaming scene, there were still games coming out on the Xbox and PS2. The PS2 in particular had some of its greatest titles hit the ground running during its twilight years. God of War II and Persona 4 are regularly hailed as two of the best titles to come out of the PS2/Xbox era, and they were both released while the PS3 (which, at the time, was backwards compatible) was still floundering with a high price point and a lack of regular quality game releases. God of War II in particular gave launch PS3 games a run for their graphical money, while Persona 4 simply had no competition at all; it came during a period when the PS3 had no JRPGs to speak of.\

Persona4

Now, in the early days of the newest current generation, we face similar prospects. With the exception of Ubisoft’s downloadable Child of Light, there are no major retail RPGs on the market for either the Xbox One or PS4. South Park: The Stick of Truth is, however, coming out in March for last gen consoles. We’re also looking at a period when new consoles need to play it safe, with familiar genres and brands to appeal to users. Meanwhile, Murdered: Soul Suspect, a brand new IP with the unique adventure game conceit of being a ghostly detective trying to solve your own murder, is coming out on PS3’s and Xbox 360s.

And then there’s the great big rampaging 1000 lb gorilla in the room that is Grand Theft Auto V. It’s still not available on either the Xbox One or the PS4, so if this is a game you don’t yet have, but want for Christmas, or even if you’re just returning to it again and again for its open world or multiplayer appeal, you HAVE to hang on to your old console to keep playing it.

I like my shiny new technology as much as the next geek, which explains why I got a PS4 at launch. But at the same time, once I get new tech, that doesn’t mean I have no appreciation for the old tech. My PS3 is still sitting in its original spot on the entertainment centre, and it’s still getting some major usage on a daily basis because of Final Fantasy XIV, if nothing else.  But, like the Xbox 360, it’s still got some life left in it, and there are still a few developers out there that are going to give both of these machines a decent send off—at least in the year 2014—before we finally move on completely to the next generation.



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