Thursday, February 28

Microtransactions: killing gaming?

Pete the Duck weighs in on the sudden debate about microtransactions that occur in game as a result of recent statements made by EA.

"Imagine this scenario: you’ve beaten the singleplayer campaign of your favorite FPS game. There you stand, triumphant, with every piece of armor and weapon you gathered along the way. Now you’re ready to play multiplayer!

Suddenly someone pulls up in a pickup truck, steals all of your armor and weapons, and drives away. But they put all of your gear in the back of the truck with the tailgate down. And it’s a bumpy dirt road. So as you chase after the truck, every few miles you’ll find another piece of your gear that fell out. Sometimes it’ll be a random piece. And after several months and countless miles of running, you finally reacquire everything that you already had in the first place. Now, don’t you feel like you made a lot of progress as a character?"

And basically sums up the issue quite well! 

Read the full article, Pete raises some very interesting points on character progression and what it should mean to players. 

Spartan OPs Episodes 9 and 10 discussed by the lead writer

Brian Reed, franchise writer and author of Spartan Ops once again talks about what went into writing the recent Spartan Ops. Maybe I'm an idiot or maybe it was bad story telling but I hadn't realised Halsey getting shot was the end point of this series. It left me expecting more (and wanting more..) so I guess that's a great sign from a story telling point of view. Over to Brian.

Episode 9: Key

This was, in a lot of ways, one of the hardest episodes to write, because we had so many moving pieces. Palmer’s in one place, Majestic in another, Halsey in another – but we have to get them all in the same place at the same time and do it convincingly. For days and days it drove us nuts as we tried to make it make sense that Thorne and Palmer would get to that room at the same time. And then it clicked – Lasky was just standing there telling Palmer he disagreed with the order from Osman. But he wasn’t doing anything about it. A quick re-write, a last second pick up shot on the mocap stage in Los Angeles, and suddenly Lasky was sending Majestic on another mission – a mission that he’s going to have to answer eventually.

I’m really happy we finally got to put Palmer in the field in these two episodes. I wanted her down there much earlier than this, but the duties of command mean you don’t always get to go run around on the planet shooting bad guys with your friends.

Episode 10: Exodus and Episode 11: Exodus Conclusion 

We couldn’t figure out how the story ended. Room full of smart people, all with storytelling skills and the resumes to prove it, and we could not tie a bow on this story in the outline stage. Then Frank O’Connor says, “Maybe Jul just drives Requiem into the sun.” And we all laughed, because that was so wonderfully absurd. A half hour later we still didn’t have an idea of how the Requiem adventure ended. Eventually we let Jul drive Requiem into the sun because, come on. That’s pretty awesome, throwing planets into suns.

Poor Catherine Halsey. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a monster. A war criminal. A woman who kidnapped and killed children because she thought the ends justified the means. But then we come along and chop off her arm simply because we wanted a spot of ambiguity in her final line. In the original draft, she was shot, but in one piece. Jul asked her what she wanted, she said, “Revenge” and everyone knew she meant on Palmer and the crew of Infinity. But we didn’t want that. Halsey is a woman who is always saying two things at once. To end on a note from her that was so clearly defined just felt wrong.

So I chopped off her arm. Now she glances at her shoulder before answering Jul’s question and you have to ask: Who does she want revenge on? Palmer? Jul? Everyone?

I wrote the words late one night around 2am. The next day in the office I pitched the idea to Halo 4 Narrative Director Armando Troisi.

“Get out of here,” Arm said. “She’s gonna be so mad.”

Yes, Armando… yes she is.

While I can neither confirm nor deny that Halsey is mad, I can tell you that if you missed the second half of Spartan Ops Season 1 or if you want to replay it now that you have several morsels of tantalizing insight at your disposal, we’ll be rerunning episodes 6-10 starting March 4. So tune in on Monday, Tuesday or any day next week to have another shot at episode 6. Halsey, Thorne and Glassman thank you in advance.

Wednesday, February 27

Halsey I.D. blacklight trick found in Reach packaging

The limited edition of Halo: Reach, released in 2010, came with an ID card for scientist Catherine Halsey, who keen fans will know as the architect of the Spartan Programme and was the brain that A.I. Cortana was based on.

The I.D. Card recently gave up a secret (not sure if it is really an easter egg) -  place a blacklight over it,  and image of a younger Catherine Halsey appears. The blue hue maker her look Cortana-ish – which is presumably the intent given their indelible connection. 

Monday, February 25

This weeks Spartan Ops is a 'best of'

Spartan Ops is a classic cheat this week - it’s touted as a week of “Designers’s Choice” which is effectively a stalling tactic till the season finale is ready. It’s also kind of like how TV show’s often do a ‘best of the episodes’ episode in an effort to make a cheap show and / or pad the season out a bit further.

Halo Waypoint says “For the next 7 days, we're featuring a selection of "Designer’s Choice" Spartan Ops missions, selected by our very own David Ellis and Greg Murphy. Whether you're playing these missions for the first or hundredth time, we hope you enjoy this week's featured Spartan Ops content!”

I say, bring on the conclusion to Exodus!

What is the Markza gun in GOWJ?


What is the Markza gun in GOWJ?

This UIR Semi-automatic rifle’s scope make the Markza the perfect weapon for far away shots. With the large capacity mag, you’ll be able to hold a point on a map to cover your teammates or yourself! This deadly accurate rifle is sure to be a fan favorite, especially to those going for headshots.

Check out this video to see this new addition to the franchise in action:

Tsavo Highway Easter egg from Halo 4

Here’s quite a cool easter egg that was recently found in Halo 4.

A set of doors have a false reflection, in that they show some scenes from Tsavo Highway which keen Halo players may recognise from the third game of the series.

Thursday, February 21

Mass Effect 3: Citadel official details

Mass Effect 3: Citadel – Single Player DLC

When a sinister conspiracy targets Commander Shepard, you and your team must uncover the truth, through battles and intrigue that range from the glamour of the Citadel’s Wards to the top-secret Council Archives. Uncover the truth and fight alongside your squad – as well as the cast from the original Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, including Urdnot Wrex!

When the adventure is over, reconnect with your favorite characters from the Mass Effect Trilogy, try your luck at the Citadel’s Silver Coast Casino, blow off steam in the Armax Combat Arena, or explore and furnish Shepard’s own living quarters on the Citadel. With unique content and cinematics featuring your friends and romance interests in the Mass Effect trilogy, Mass Effect 3: Citadel offers one final chance to see the characters you have known for years and rekindle romances.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel will release worldwide on March 5th on Xbox 360, PC and PS3 (on March 6th on PS3 in Europe). Price: $14.99, 1200MS points and 1200 BW points.

Mass Effect 3: Reckoning – Multiplayer DLC

Prepare for the Reckoning! Newfound allies join the multiplayer war for survival in Mass Effect 3: Reckoning. The Geth Juggernaut, Cabal Vanguard, Talon Mercenary, Alliance Infiltration Unit, and more take up arms to stop the Reaper threat. Smash your enemies with the Biotic Hammer as you lay waste to the battlefield as the Krogan Warlord.

Wield 7 new weapons for multiplayer, including the Geth Spitfire Assault Rifle, Venom Shotgun, Lancer Assault Rifle, and amplify your arsenal with new equipment and weapon mods featuring the Geth Scanner and Assault Rifle Omni-blade.

Wednesday, February 20

Destiny confirmed for the PS4

Here’s what Bungie’s Jason Jones contributed to the Sony PS4 release conference today, an in house video touting the Destiny game:

The key take away for me is that the graphics of Destiny will be absolutely first rate. The music sounded pretty good too. 

Tuesday, February 19

A female lead for Gears of War?

I spied an interesting article at OXM which discuss female video game characters by way of the Gears of War franchise - given the interview was with Gears' art director Chris Perna, it was no surprise that happened.

What was interesting was his take on female video game characters.

"You see the implants and the blonde hair and pants and you roll your eyes - it's almost like the game geek's idealisation of what a woman should be. I think because we didn't go that route we have more believability... we've got more butch characters."

I don't think any one could accuse Anya Stroud of being butch. You'd possibly agree with him if he was talking about Samantha Byrne, those she really just had some been up rage. An I guess with those dreads, Bernadette Mataki was a bit butch.... 

Perna shared his observations on female fans have dressed cosplay style in the game's female characters. . "They feel empowered," he said. "They put on that armour and they walk around with these massive weapons and I think they get a kick out of it - I get a kick out of seeing it.

"From what we've heard, when they play the game they feel empowered and they feel good. Some of the feedback I've heard from women that I talk to is that if we'd made these women more feminine and more stereotypical it wouldn't have been so nice."

So given this popularity of female characters in the Gears franchise, could one act as the 'star' in a game?
"That's certainly interesting but I don't know," Perna pondered. "If you look at what sells, it's tough to justify something like that."

There's a bit of truth to that - I still cringe at the first Xbox 360 game I got, Perfect Dark Zero that featured a female lead. That game sucked. 

None the less, the new Gears of War Judgment game introduces Sofia Hendricks as Kilo Squad's medic, so maybe for now, woman will be strongly featuring in Gears games, just in the Dominque role rather than Dom*!

* But he was such a girl's blouse any way....

Sunday, February 17

Is Destiny an MMO?

No, Destiny is not an MMO according to Bungie

Destiny's overall structure will feature social hubs, dynamic environments, and optional missions promising exciting adventure and that does appear to seem like MMO. Bungie however argues Destiny it not a massively multiplayer online game.

"These are living, open worlds with evolving stories, changing time of day…and every one is full of players," says engineering lead Chris Butcher (who hails from New Zealand, the land of Hobbits.

"Destiny is an always online experience, but it's not an MMO." 

Given there's MMO subscription fee as there are for some of the other game out there such as War Craft, I guess that's a good sign that Destiny is not an MMO, at least not a traditional one. 

Destiny's conceptual artwork released by Bungie

vex time travelling robots
The Vex - time travelling robots

Destiny Conceptual artwork by Bungie

New game Destiny has been revealed to the world and Bungie took a note from 343 Industries’ playbook and did the reveal with a set of concept artwork (albeit intermingled within a Vidoc of full of explanation).

Here’s some of the art that Bungie designers have done on The Fallen (Cabal), settings, cities and the Traveller, who’s true identity while probably be revealed in game 3…..

The Traveller

Mars' Exclusion Zone is controlled by the Cabal

You might recall this as the first image that leaked
black garden
The Black Garden. Which looks green.
hell mouth
The Mouth of Hell

Titan, Hunter, and Warlock.
Titan, Hunter, and Warlock classes in action.
Go Speed Racer, Go!

Bungie reveals Destiny to a horde of waiting fans

Dark Patrol
Bungie have finally revealed their new cross platform game. We haven't had a drink of Bungie goodness since the brilliant Halo: Reach game was released three years ago (it seems so long ago!).

Now, after months of speculation about the title, a massive hint hidden in plain sight in Halo 3: ODST and long bouts of silence, Bungie have officially revealed Destiny as their new game.

Check out this vidoc, Pathways out of Darkness:

Game Informer describes Destiny:

"Destiny takes place on the planet Earth, but well into the future when a mysterious weapon destroyed most of the planet and its inhabitants at the end of humanity’s Golden Age. One city remains, however, surviving thanks to the intervention of The Traveler. The Traveler is a gigantic moon shaped ship that looms over the Earth’s last surviving city. No one knows what The Traveler is, or where it came from, but it saved humanity by making sure a small population survived.

Guardians will be fully customised for Destiny
Players take on the roles of The Guardians, the protectors of the city who receive power from the Traveler. Each player creates his or her own guardian and can customize everything about them, including their appearance, class, weapons, and ship. Bungie didn’t divulge the differentiations between each class, but it spoke of hunters, titans, and warlocks. As a protector of the city, you live in a persistent and changing world, venturing into the Earth’s ruins on missions to explore and collect loot. You can even venture outside of Earth to visit the other planets of our solar system like Venus and Mars. Ambiguous powers emanate from The Traveler, empowering Earth’s Guardians with a magical force."

A first person shooter (and praise the Prophets it's not an MMO), it's like nothing that has ever been before. Destiny's concept is simply amazing in that it is an attempt to bring in a new era of co-operative game play:

"Every player is on his or her own adventure, but paths will cross. Bungie didn’t show how this process works firsthand, but the closest comparison seems to be the innovative multiplayer in 2012’s Journey. Bungie described an elaborate scenario where two guardians meet in the city and decide to head to a location on Mars called the Dust Palace in order to hopefully find worthwhile loot. The two jump in a space ship and head toward the planet, passing by The Traveler as they head to Mars. Once there, they encounter one of many enemy types called the Cabal. The two hold out as best they can against these powerful enemies, when a player who was also on a trip to Mars joins their fray. As Bungie describes it, this new Guardian’s appearance is a product of matchmaking that happens in the background with no intervention from the player." Source: Game Informer

It will take a lot to top the Halo series (only cross platform war games with serious advertising budgets such as Call of Duty / Modern Warfare beat it sales wise) and people will be looking to Bungie to do just that.  Destiny is however going to be a cross platform game (Xbox and Play Station) so they have a real chance to top it, at the least sales wise.

So while the ideas behind Destiny sound epic, the realization of it will be in the game's execution, and indeed the winning over of Bungie's long time fans, and of course bringing in a few new ones as well.

It will also be interesting where the classic Halo fan now goes (and stays). Will they stay with the Halo series after the success of Halo 4 or will they be tempted to the Dark Side by Bungie's new wares? I imagine the guys at HBO will be torn (well actually not, they already have all prepared).  I for one will be dipping my toes in both pools as I really enjoyed Halo 4 and am keen to see where 343 takes the game.

So dear Bungie  fan, what do you think of Bungie's announcement?

Saturday, February 16

Who else is sick of these dudes in Halo 4?


These guys are such a nuisance in Halo 4, offer no real challege and every time I see them I think of Ravage from the Revenge of the Fallen....

How to successfully use the Sword in Halo 4

How to successfully use the Sword in Halo 4

Halo CE taunted us very early on when that games Elite's could strike us down with an energy sword but the Chief could never get his hands it. Fans wanted to use it and badly. Halo 2 let people have the chance to slice and dice their opponents and the Halo multiplayer universe hasn't been the same since.

The sword can be a wonder weapon to use if you do it right. Here's some pro tips on how to successfully use the Halo 4 Covenant in multiplayer and rack up some nice kills.

  • Players move faster with Sprint by default, they assume they can just run at opponents and kill them with the lunge from far away. This is a mistake, Halo multiplayer is a hotbed of any thing can happen. 
  • You still need to be ninja like with the sword. In close quarters and confined places it is your friend. Use it to blind side players in those tight spots and corners.
  • When Boy Scouts go camping, they take a knife with them. Same can apply in Halo when camping, a sword in you back pocket can be quite useful.
  • A sword lunge can be parried with a sword melee. If you deliver a melee successfully, you will then be able to lunge immediately after your melee, getting the jump on your attacker.
  • In consideration of the above, the sword has an important change from the prior Halo games which allows to swing much faster than it has in the past which eliminates uwanted parries. This means you have to be on your game. 
  • Normally when sprinting with normal weapons, if  an opponent shoot you, the shots will slow you down a tad. A sword wielding player is immune to this so there's an advantage to be exploited.
  • Remember to key an eye on your sword's energy level - you don't want to be caught with uncharged sword as basically you'd be slapping your opposition with a feather duster.

Originally published at Post Game Lobby.

Friday, February 15

Destiny leaks coming thick and fast before Sunday's launch

Bungie's Destiny game is being formally revealed to the world very soon, so it's no surprise that things have started to leak out into the hands of keen Bungie fans. Journalists, gaming magazines and popular websites have been given the heads up so as to be ready for the big day, presumably under a tight embargo.

So it seems that Joystiq has jumped the gun with this poster (from Gamestop) of the Fallen, presumably one of the aliens that will feature in the game:
fallen destiny poster

They have to be aliens as this twitter leak suggests the Fallen have four arms...

That fellow looks a little more fearsome than a Promeathan Knight eh?

Arcadesushi reported that:

"Best Buy pre-order materials from Destructroid seem to indicate that Destiny will be a first-person shooter that revolves around the arrival of something called “the Traveler.” There’s mention of survivors, Golden Ages, civilizations, the last safe city on Earth, and a possible interconnected universe and story that will be the “evolution of entertainment.”"

If it's true Destiny is a first person shooter, that will be a relief for many I'm sure. Tune in tommorrow for more Destiny details and we'll find out of it's been worth the wait.

Sunday, February 3

Gears of War: Judgment Achievement Points revealed

gears judgement reapers

List of Gears of War: Judgment Achievement Points

Here is the very full list of GOW Judgment's achievements. They seem a little less create than prior Gears games - there's no Star Wars referencing 'It's a trap' for example.

There does seem to be a good mix between campaign and multiplayer.

  • They Called Him Karn (10 points) - Completed Museum Of Military Glory
  • Open Arms (10 points) - Completed Halvo Bay Military Academy
  • The Real Thing (10 points) - Completed Seahorse Hills
  • Take Back This City (10 points) - Completed Onyx Point
  • I Told You (10 points) - Completed Downtown Halvo Bay
  • This One's Not Over (10 points) - Completed Courthouse
  • Friends (10 points) - Completed Aftermath
  • Determined (10 points) - Completed all Campaign Chapters on at least Casual difficulty
  • Steel Nerves (10 points) - Completed all Campaign Chapters on at least Normal difficult
  • Iron Fist (25 points) - Completed all Campaign Chapters on at least Hardcore difficulty
  • Lion Heart (50 points) - Completed all Campaign Chapters on Insane difficulty
  • Party People (10 points) - Played any section in 4 player Co-Op
  • Blood Brothers (50 points) - Completed all Campaign Chapters in Co-op
  • Challenge Accepted (5 points) - Completed your first Declassified mission
  • Never Give Up (10 points) - Completed at least 20 Declassified missions
  • Quality Soldiering (50 points) - Completed all Declassified missions
  • A Peek into the Future (10 points) - Watched Aftermath teaser
  • The Aftermath (20 points) - Unlocked Aftermath
  • Rising Star (10 points) - Attained 50 Stars on at least Casual Difficulty
  • Shooting Star (20 points) - Attained 75 Stars on at least Normal Difficulty
  • Star Struck (50 points) - Attained 100 Stars on at least Hardcore Difficulty
  • Superstar (50 points) - Attained all Stars on Insane Difficulty
  • Never Forgotten (10 points) - Recovered 10 COG Tags during the Campaign
  • Veteran Remembrance (10 points) - Recovered 25 COG Tags during the Campaign
  • Respect for the Fallen (20 points) - Recovered all 48 COG Tags during the Campaign
  • Ribbon Master (10 points) - Earned 3 unique Ribbons in any section
  • Proud Wearer (5 points) - Equipped your first Medal
  • Ready for War (20 points) - Earned at least one Onyx medal
  • Sybarite (50 points) - Earned the Onyx "War Supporter" medal
  • Seriously Judgmental (75 points) - Completed all Declassified Missions on Insane difficulty
  • Level 5 (5 points) - Reached level 5
  • Level 10 (10 points) - Reached level 10
  • Level 20 (10 points) - Reached level 20
  • Level 30 (15 points)- Reached level 30
  • Level 40 (25 points) - Reached level 40
  • Level 50 (25 points) - Reached level 50
  • Let's Do This (50 points) - Achieved level 50 and chose to re-up for another tour of duty
  • Fearless (50 points) - Achieved level 50 a second time and chose to re-up for another tour
  • Unstoppable (50 points) - Achieved level 50 a third time and chose to re-up for another tour
  • Death to Locust (10 points) - Killed with all classes of COG in Overrun or Survival
  • Death to the COG (10 points) - Killed with all classes of Locust in Overrun
  • Survivor (10 points) - Completed wave 10 on all maps in Survival mode
  • Globe Trotter (10 points) - Won a match on every map in all Versus modes
  • Jack of All Trades (10 points) - Won 10 matches of Overrun
  • Team Leader (10 points) - Won 10 rounds of Team Deathmatch
  • All Rounder (10 points) - Won one match in Free For All, Team Deathmatch, and Domination
  • Roaming Free (10 points) - Won one match on every map in Free For All
  • Team On Tour (10 points) - Won one match on every map in Team Deathmatch
  • Overran (10 points) - Won one match on every map in Overrun
  • Dominator (10 points) - Won one match on every map in Domination