Archive for July, 2008

Unconfirmed: Carmack on Rage and DVD Storage


id Software’s famous programmer, John Carmack, supposedly made some controversial statements at today’s QuakeCon event:

id’s post-apocalyptic open-world shooter Rage (PC, PS3, 360, Mac) will look worse on Xbox 360 due to the compression needed to fit the game’s assets on two DVDs, programmer John Carmack revealed at tonight’s QuakeCon keynote.

According to Carmack, the royalty fees to include a third disc in the Xbox 360 version would be so high that it simply isn’t a feasible solution, with the programmer hoping for Microsoft to make a concession. He stressed that the issue is merely a storage problem and has nothing to do with the power of the Xbox 360 hardware.


This is a little surprising coming from Carmack, who seemed to prefer the more PC-like 360 in the past and famously referred to the PS3 as a “pain in my ass”.

We’ve seen PS3 exclusive shooters such as Resistance 1 use over two DVDs of storage, but we’ve also seen large games like GTA 4 manage to completely fit on a single DVD. Carmack isn’t the type of guy to make this kind of thing up, so I believe him.

It will be interesting to see how this Rage title turns out. Will it be a tech demo for their new 3D engine or will it be a fully fleshed out game?

(This post is flagged as unconfirmed until I see another source. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with ShackNews)

Published on July 31st, 2008 under

The Zelda Marathon begins!


The Mario Marathon team has started playing through the 2D Zelda games!

Published on July 31st, 2008 under ,

On PlayStation Network today: PixelJunk Eden game, Madden 2009 and FaceBreaker demos


Pre-Order Madden NFL 09 for PS3Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) announced what new PlayStation Network downloadable games, expansions, demos and videos were released for PlayStation 3 and PSP today.

American Games (Demos):
* FaceBreaker Demo (also available on Xbox Live)
* LEGO Indiana Jones The Original Adventures Demo
* Madden 2009 Demo (also available on Xbox Live)
* PixelJunk Eden – $9.99

American Games (Content):
* Rock Band songs: Scars on Broadway’s “They Say” ($1.99), Staind’s “This is It” ($1.99), Testament’s “Electric Crown” ($1.99), and Thenewno2’s “Yomp” ($0.99)
* Soul Calibur IV: Downloadable Music: – x17 individual tracks @ $0.99 each, full set @ $14.99

American Trailers:
* Beijing 2008 Track & Swimming Trailers
* Bionic Commando Rearmed: The Making Of – Part 2
* The Last Guy Trailer
* Vampire Rain Altered Species Trailer 3

American Extras:
* Killzone 2 Theme
* (2) PixelJunk Eden Themes
* (2) Siren: Blood Curse Wallpapers
* (2) Soul Calibur IV Wallpapers
* Street Fighter IV: Summer 08 Wallpaper

PixelJunk Eden logo
European Games (Demos):
* Echochrome Micro Demo (PSP via PC Store)
* PixelJunk Eden – £4.99/ €7.99
* PixelJunk Eden Demo

European Trailers:
* E3 – PSP Compilation Trailer
* Prince Of Persia E3 Gameplay Trailer
* The Last Guy Trailer
* Linger in Shadows Trailer

European Extras:
* (16) Bionic Commando Rearmed Wallpaper
* Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Wallpaper (PSP via PC Store)

Review: Even in a pitch black room, Alone in the Dark would be atrociously ugly


When I started my review for Alone in the Dark earlier this week, I did something I’ve never done before: I consulted other reviews to gain some perspective. I wasn’t experiencing writer’s block or anything, but because my initial impressions of this title were so woefully bad, I had to give in to the urge to take a peek elsewhere to confirm whether or not I was crazy.

It turns out I’m perfectly fine, at least when it comes to reviewing Alone in the Dark. It was awful. It was forced. It was obvious, and it was boring. It all but confirmed to me that video games as a medium should stay the hell away from trying to be immersive movies, go back to school, and learn to be fun again.

If you’re still reading along, much as a motorist would glance at a fresh wreck on the side of the road, I’ll do my best to describe in detail why this title is destined for the bin they place in the back room for the titles that get physically tossed out of the bargain bin by more deserving titles. Some people call it the wood pile, where gawd awful games go to do something worthwhile, like start fires, because they are so bad at being video games.

Alone in the Dark begins with you waking up in a room with three terribly voice-acted characters, one of who is bleeding and seemingly half dead already. Oh, and you are forced to “blink” continuously as the characters kick the storyline off, because you have a headache. Be prepared to click the directional pad for a good 5 minutes. You, like me, will have a real headache when you’re done.

Don’t worry though, that headache will fade fast. Thanks to the coma-inducing cutscenes, you’ll feel refreshed when you awaken, ready to tackle the next challenge, like getting your character to do anything meaningful. I say that because the only thing he and other characters are good at is uselessly swearing and being forced, unbelievable tough guys. F-this, F-that, sh*t, etc etc. We get it, you’re appealing to the part of the population that loves to swears for no reason other than to mask insecurity and appear tough. Awesome. Here’s your Hummer and a gun.

And if you do choose to play Alone in the Dark for any length of time, be prepared to die. A lot. In mind-numbingly obnoxious ways. Where Mega Man was challenging because of its game play, for example, Alone in the Dark is challenging because hit detection, item placement and the interactive zones that light up when you get near them all work at their leisure. In the first level there’s a fire hose you drop into an elevator shaft. Why? I haven’t the foggiest, but I know some annoying woman was yelling at me for help. So I went down the shaft, fell, and died. When I tried to exit out of the game to go do something fun, like pay bills, it wouldn’t let me access the home menu. I had to navigate back to the main menu and “quit.” That’s an epic fail right there and it’s only the menu screen.

The chapter skipping option that former Sony man Phil Harrison touted a few months ago as a pathetic appeal to the mass market does little to help this game in any way. If one level proves to be too hard (not because of any challenge it presents, but because of poor controls), you can skip it. You can even skip all the way to the end, if you choose, although sadly there was no “skip to the credits and get me the hell out of here” option.

I read an Xbox 360 review of this game the other day too, and it noted the developers were super proud of the fire effects in this game, at least in the Xbox version. From the looks of the other reviews, my own time with the game, and their efforts beyond fire effects, I find that statement humorous. Why? Because I can honestly see this disc making a great fire starting log come the holiday. I could go off on another rant here about how developers today are telling what a good game should be, instead of showing us and letting we the gamers decide for ourselves, but I won’t. The stench of Alone in the Dark is so terrible I can imagine it seeping out of your monitor now, as I type words about it on your screen. The fire is cool! Look at the fire! Ignore everything else because we rushed it because we spent so much time on the fire! OK, I lied, there’s a little rant right there. /rant

Anyway, ignore this one like the plague (for all systems), and hope Phil and company can stop trying to imitate other games with a jack-of-all-trades approaches that do many things, but none of them particularly well at all. 1/4, but only because we don’t have a policy on 0/4. Oh, the music is spooky. Back to 1/4.

Published on July 31st, 2008 under

Xam’d: Lost Memories anime series coming exclusively to PlayStation Network (PS3 and PSP). First trailer shown


Lost Memories anime screenshot
Xam’d: Lost Memories is an original animation from Bones Studios, creators of Full Metal Alchemist, RahXephon, Eureka Seven, Kurau: Phantom Memory and the movie Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. The Xam’d: Lost Memories original anime series will be coming exclusively to PlayStation Network video download service for PS3 and PSP users. Pricing per episode for VOD is $2.99 SD and $3.99 for HD (No EST). The action-packed Season 1 includes episodes 1-12, and Season 2 includes episodes 13–26.

The storyline: Akiyuki, the main character of the animated series, lives on Sentan Island, a land that has preserved its status as a free and peaceful island in a world consumed by fighting between the Northern and Southern Governments. All of this changes when Akiyuki boards a bus along with a mysterious white-haired girl who transforms his arm with the lost memories and power of Xam’d. As Xam’d, Akiyuki goes on a rampage and is saved when a foreign girl with red hair named “Nakiami calms him down, taking him back to her postal vessel. Akiyuki now must gain control of his powers and use them against the Northern Government’s latest weapons, known as “Humanforms”. Travelling the world on a postal vessel, Akiyuki hopes to return home one day, but until then he befriends other passengers on the boat.

Watch the Xam’d: Lost Memories trailer:

Published on July 31st, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , ,

Tom Clancy’s HAWX delayed to Q1 2009


Pre-Order Tom Clancy's HAWX on PCTom Clancy’s HAWX has been delayed till Q1 2009, which is a release date sometime between January and the end of March 2009 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

The game was originally scheduled for release in September, but gamers wishing to pick up the flight sim will now have to wait until the fourth quarter of Ubi’s financial year (as stated above).

H.A.W.X. (which stands for “High Altitude Warfare eXperimental squadron”) is set in 2012 above the skies of a world that is increasingly dependent on private military companies (PMCs) and elite mercenaries who have lax views of the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States mainland.

The game’s main innovation comes from the “Enhanced Reality System” (ERS) that players can activate for assistance when flying around and dogfitting. The ERS provides radars, incoming missile detection, an anti-crash system, damage control system, tactical map, information relay, weapons trajectory control and the ability to give commands to an AI squadron. And for purists, some or all of these assists can be turned off to make the game more difficult and give the player more maneuverability.

Via Eurogamer

Published on July 31st, 2008 under , , , , , , ,

Master of the Monster Lair announced for DS by Atlus. Release date October 21st


Master of the Monster Lair ScreenshotMaster of the Monster Lair has been announced for DS by Atlus. It has a release date of October 21st.

The game is a monster-hunting, dungeon-designing RPG in which you must create become the architect of a vast labyrinth in order to trap the freeloading monsters of South Arc. By dreaming up a dungeon, designing it, digging it and crafting intricate levels in order to lure and capture all manner of beasts. Depending on the monsters caught, they will give you unique weapons and items that allow for the creation of increasingly unique dungeon designs, enabling you to catch monsters even more efficiently than before.

The quiet town of South Arc is about to have some monster trouble. Foul creatures with serious attitude problems have infested nearby forests and are now slowly moving into the village. The townsfolk, fearful for their safety, do not even dare to leave their homes. Calls for help have gone unanswered, likely because every other town in the Kingdom is similarly troubled.

As a young lad off in search of your calling, you stumble across a talking shovel. The verbose tool forcibly binds you to the task of digging a dungeon on the outskirts of South Arc, hoping to bait and trap the scrounging monsters.

Master of the Monster Lair’s features include:

* It all begins with a talking shovel – The discovery of a talking shovel begins an eccentric adventure where you become the master of the monster lair! As the shovel’s new owner, you’re given the incredible job of digging a dungeon and hunting the monsters that come to live in it.
* Be the architect of your lair – Transform a small hole in the ground into a huge dungeon for hunting monsters! Fill it with over 20 different types of rooms, including Chapels, Cellars, Stables, Trash Dumps, and more to attract different types of monsters and help you obtain different items.
* Share your lair! – Challenge your friends to reach the end of your custom monster lair and see what monsters and items are waiting in theirs. Trade designs over local wireless and prove that you’re the best dungeon digger around!

“On September 2nd, shovel talks. You dig. Monsters die.”

Published on July 31st, 2008 under , , , , , ,

Gran Turismo TV


Tomorrow, on Friday, Gran Turismo Prologue gets Gran Turismo TV. This is a series of auto enthusiast video programming that can be purchased for $1-$2/episode.


I know we have some real auto enthusiasts on this site, so I’m curious: Is anyone excited about this? Personally, I don’t see the draw. Most GT fans that I know are excited about many other things, most specifically, having a full version of GT5 with a full selection of cars, tracks, and non-linear game progression modes.

However, Gran Turismo’s fan base has always been split between auto enthusiasts and technology fans and it’s possible that this is intended to appeal more to the former category. It’s also very possible that this is just a nice extra going in on parallel to main development efforts.

Published on July 31st, 2008 under

Crash Commando shooter coming to PS3 as PlayStation Network download


Crash Commando PlayStation Network screenshot
Crash Commando is a side scrolling multiplayer shooter game pitting two arch-enemy commando factions — the Grunts and the Jarheads — against each other in an all-out fight for world supremacy. The game is being developed by EPOS Game Studios for the PS3’s PlayStation Network as a downloadable title.

Crash Commando is a fast-paced, humorous multiplayer game with over-the-top, slap-stick action that features exaggerated gore and effects. Combining the thrill of frenzied multiplayer combat with the straightforward nature of a classic side-scrolling platform title, Crash Commando is accessible to all players and it is the perfect combination of modern, sophisticated technology and traditional gameplay values.

The player controls a commando with a range of weapons and other equipment at his disposal, including a jetpack, C4, jeeps and tanks. Each map consists of two gameplay layers the player can seamlessly move between via portals in the environment. In Crash Commando, action, mayhem, frenzy and turmoil take center stage as particles, flames, explosions and bodies controlled by rag-doll physics insure there is never a dull moment. With a host of both multiplayer and single player modes included, players can enjoy Crash Commando either on or offline.

Check out the Crash Commando frenzied combat gameplay video.

Main features in Crash Commando are:

* Fun and Frenzied Multiplayer Action – The hilarious action never slows with up to 12 players battling on a map simultaneously, either online or offline with BOTs.

* Weapons and Explosives Galore – Commandos have an array of weapons to choose from with machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, C4, mines and more. Players can jump into an array of controllable vehicles such as jeeps and tanks, to deal even more damage.

* Single Player and Multiplayer Modes – Crash Commando features multiplayer modes like Death Match and team-based game modes as well as single player modes like Boot Camp and custom games versus AI-controlled BOTs.

* Player Profiles – A Duty Records Award system, along with Player Rankings, Trophy Support and online Leaderboards, will track player stats and accomplishments.

Published on July 31st, 2008 under , , , , , , , ,

Killzone Developer Diary Part II


Pursuant to the first developer diary, here’s a diary entry that a Killzone 2 PS3 developer may (or may not) have sent me:


Ya ya. Well, we are now done with E3, the big American schmooze-fest that the bigwigs at Sony said we had to be at. So we took a cruise across an ocean or two and tada, 14 days and 63 beers later (each) we were there.

Did we get a big showing at the press conference? No no no, alas we weren’t in the big press conference. Instead Sony tipped their collective hats to our American compadres at Insomniac. You know, because their game is releasing this fall, and ours in February. Theirs need the attention, ours doesn’t. The marketing, you know. Na na nana nya nya. Whatever. We all know that Resistance 2 is gonna be great, they’re our best buddies across the pond, we don’t compete with them, we play their stuff, they play ours, we share technology, blah blah blah.

You want the truth? Killzone 2 is gonna kick some collective @$$. It’s gonna be better than Resistance 2, better than Halo 2, better than Gears 2. Big bulky battle suits are so 2007. Aliens? Who needs ‘em? Human versus highly-modified (maybe I guess because we put the Helghast inside those cool glowing-eyes uniforms so you can’t really tell if they look any different than the normal human or not and I ain’t gonna tell you if we resolve this in Killzone 2 or the sequel (oops, I didn’t say that) or not so you’ll just have to keep on guessing) is where it’s at baby!

We got revolvers. We got machine guns. We got bullets. We got the rat-tat-tat sound down to a TEE man. We recorded a machine gun with 359 microphones (one malfunctioned) placed all around it and recorded those sounds and encrypted them into the game so that no matter what angle you’re approaching an enemy at (except from below at a 30 degree angle), you’re hearing the right sound! In full 7.1 surround sound, FTW! Woo hoo!

Yeah, so, The sound’s gonna be the table’s legs man. (I hope you know that expression over there in America. It means good things. You know the legs hold up the table. Good stuff.) But the graphics are good too! You all seen them, right? We actually built some sets for reference, and just scanned ‘em right in. Who needs Maya? Well, ya, we do. But still, the sets were scanned in and that’s why they look so realistic. We couldn’t of course, create all the sets for all the levels, just a few reference ones. But it helped a lot, and they’ll be used in the movie.

What else?

Badges! Right, Badges! That was a dumb name. I thought of a great new name all by myself. It fit perfectly with how “Badges” were supposed to be used. So I tried convincing Steven and Mathijs to call them … wait for it … “Perks”! Yay! But they said something about something where something is something and so: bad. My bad. Can’t call them Perks. I’ll tell ya, my girlfriend got an earful that evening!

Nya well, that’s about it. Sorry for the short update. The game is actually done. We’re not doing anything now except playing PixelJunk Eden demo and wondering if we’ll ship any new maps after the game is released. So see ya next time, maybe I’ll do a postmortem.

Published on July 31st, 2008 under ,

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