Conference Round-up: Sony

Sony Logo for E3 Conference Round Up on Gaming Advance

The Sony conference was a mixed bag. Whilst it was certainly a poor conference, it did have far more meaningful titles and news to show off than the majority of previous conferences. To sum it up: Sony actually showed off some neat gameplay demos for almost everything they were presenting, with the exception of the only true unveiling.

As a publisher of whom is often capable of announcing exclusive new IP’s or, at the very least, sequels to recent exclusive IP’s, their conference can’t help but make me feel disappointed at the outcome. The only real unveiling was Beyond: Two Souls, which was a cinematic trailer and revealed nothing in regards to gameplay at all. Whilst this is undoubtedly going to be another quick-time event based game much like Heavy Rain, it still tells me nothing worth getting excited over. The only impressive aspect shown off was the graphics, which is honestly at a level I expected after Quantic Dream’s recent CGI movie. One can argue that it’s impressive because it’s gameplay, but considering that the entire game could very easily be pre-rendered, that’s just not an incredible feat. The sad part was that this was still one of the highlights of the show for me.

Sony seemed to have focused on a shorter presentation. I actually wish they didn’t. I don’t mind their long presentations because they normally have stuff to show off, but they literally omitted some of their most vital components that was expected from the conference. The Vita had nothing to show, and it sorely needs the support right now. Yes, Tretton announced after the presentation that the Vita would have sixty titles, but that wasn’t actually during their presentation. Instead, they spent fifteen minutes on Wonderbook.

Wonderbook is a title that, whilst I have no issues with children getting games with this as I actually feel this was a good thing, it just felt like it should have been shown off at a toy convention or something. At the very least, fifteen minutes on Wonderbook was a minimum of ten minutes wasted; although some would argue that it wasted all fifteen minutes.

The best thing that came from the conference, without a doubt, is from the demo of The Last of Us – an exclusive and brand new IP for the PlayStation platform. The Last of Us looks different, and sounds different. And for those complaining, it doesn’t look that scripted at all. It reminds me of Uncharted 3 in how it handles all the contextual fighting and the like. It also looks like it’s the first survival game done right in quite some time, although I may be forgetting something with that statement.

Overall, Sony delivered barely enough to make the presentation worth witnessing. Next time Sony, remember to show off your support for your brand new system. I’d hate to see the PlayStation 4 announced with no titles. It’s a pattern you need to give up some day.

Bargain Exchange: Indie Gala 6

Indie Gala Logo for Bargain Exchange Feature on Gaming Advance

This is slightly old news, but I thought it was worth addressing all the same. Especially when we have six days remaining. That’s more than enough time to take advantage of this bundle. Yup, that’s right! Bargain Exchange is back so soon, and round two brings you the sixth Indie Gala bundle.

The Indie Gala is a bundle where you may pay however much you want from a minimum of one dollar. Those who choose to pay more than the average also get bonus titles, which serves to encourage higher donations. And yes, I said donations. The money that you purchase the bundle with supports charity. Of course, it will also serve as to support the developer and you can even give a tip towards the indie gala organisers. The entire system is pretty identical to the Humble Bundle.

The sixth bundle comes complete with Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty, and The Void. Paying more than the average can also bag you Commandos 2: Men of Courage, Commandos 3: Destination Berlin, Cargo! The Quest for Gravity, Air Conflicts: Secret Wars, Ion Assault and Trauma – all of which are available on Steam.

All of the Commandos titles, all of which are developed by Pyro Studios, are real-time strategy games set during the second world war with a pretty damn good aesthetic. The Void, developed by Ice-Pick Lodge, is a first person adventure game that comes across very ‘arty’. You’re lingering in the void, the realm before death, where the most important but exhausted resource is colour. Speaking of colour, that brings me to Ion Assault.

Ion Assault is by Coreplay GmbH an incredibly colourful and seizure-inducing shooter that’s very arcade-esque and has a similar flashy style to it as Beat Hazard. It’s flashy and crazy, and it definitely looks very fun.

In keeping with the world war theme that half of the bundle comprises of, Air Conflicts by Games Farm is a flight simulator where the player must survive a number of scenarios whilst fighting a variety of enemy units – which includes infantry, tanks, ships, trains, you name it. It does look pretty fantastic.

Cargo is another title developed by Ice-pick Lodge, and it’s completely different in tone to the relatively dark ‘The Void’. The game revolves around a creepy looking race named ‘Buddies’ who just want to have fun. There’s a pretty interesting crafting component to the game, according to the trailer, in which you can create crafts to fly in and so on.

Last, but not least, is Trauma, developed by Krystian Majewski. Trauma is an adventure title that uses photographic visuals, where you experience the dreams of a recovering survivor of a car accident where she subconsciously deals with the tragedy and her trauma.

So there we have it, Indie Gala VI. It looks like a mighty fine bundle. Currently, the minimum price to receive all the titles lands on $6.24. I’d say that’s a perfectly reasonable price for all that it offers. I will admit this, though. I wasn’t really that interested in the bundle until I really took a look at what was available. The games all look pretty fun, and each have something that interests me. And let’s also remember that this is for charity too. I definitely support this bundle.

Indie Gala – Indie Gala VI

Bargain Exchange: Summer Bundle

Indie Royale Logo for Bargain Exchange feature on Gaming Advance Website

I’m starting up a new (currently irregular) feature today – The Bargain Exchange! Here we will be looking at any fantastic offers or bundles going on the internet, and what better way to start this feature than with the latest Indie Royale Bundle. We’re going to be taking a brief look at the Summer Bundle currently available for purchase over at the Indie Royale website.

The Indie Royale is a webpage put together by the founders of Desura, a digital distribution client for gamers similar to Steam, and is the location of a number of great bundles which feature heavily discounted indie video games. This is their seventeenth bundle release and also happens to be their biggest yet as it currently sports nine titles.

The first title is the real-time strategy game published by Oxeye Game Studio, named Harvest: Massive Encounter. Coming second place in the Swedish Game Awards in 2007, the title involves the player attempting to harvest materials from the planet while fending off an alien attack. This game will be available for Desura, Steam and will also be downloadable completely DRM free. It may also be played on Windows, Mac and Linux, so it’s certainly portable!

Our second title is The Journey Down: Chapter One, is an episodic adventure game developed by Skygoblin, available for Linux, Mac and Windows via DRM free download or Desura. Bwana and Kito are falling behind on bills as they work at a run-down gas station before they find themselves hunting a lost journal that leads to the sercret Underland. The other chapters have yet to be released.

Serious Sam 2 is the third title and should need little introduction, but for those unaware of it – Serious Sam 2 is a fantastic arcade-esque first person shooter developed by Croteam and published by Devolver Digital. Unfortunately, it lacks the portability of the previous two titles being that it remains available only on Steam for Windows, but it’s absolutely worth getting.

Next on our list are the three Gundemonium Collection titles developed by Rockin’ Android and featuring particularly fantastic soundtracks and crazy side-scrolling bullet hell styled gameplay. The games are all available for Steam, Desura and DRM free download, exclusively for Windows. Set in an alternative history during the 18th century, humanity is at war with hell as a result of experimentation with Alchemy. Each game has it’s own quirks, and serves to continue the storyline but deliver an alternative experience to your chaotic shooting.

Acceleration of Suguri X-Edition is another computer game that anime fans will appreciate the graphical style of. Suguri X-Edition is a curious blend of both bullet hell shooters and fighting games, also developed by Rockin’ Android and is available on Windows for Desura, Steam and is also available for a DRM free download.

Dino Run SE is the Special Edition of the platformer and flash game, ‘Dino Run’, developed by pixeljam. The game involves the player assuming the role of a dinosaur as you must outrun your death in a game that looks like it’s from the Atari age for that retro feeling. This title is available on the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms for Desura or DRM free download.

Lastly, we have the action-strategy game Airmech by Carbon Games, featuring transformable robots. Although the game is free-to-play for Chrome, this title serves as a bonus in the Summer Bundle. Anyone who purchases the Summer Bundle will get the beta key for this game on Steam. It is also available for download and through Desura.

So there we have it, the Summer Bundle. There are certainly a number of gems in there, but be quick! The earlier you purchase the bundle, the cheaper it will be. Of course, if you’re lucky, maybe someone will pay a large sum resulting in the price dropping.

Indie Royale - Summer Bundle

E3 Conference Roundup: Ubisoft

Ubisoft Logo for E3 Conference

Notorious for their DRM and punishing consumers to combat piracy, the infamous Ubisoft actually had the most surprising conference out of the bunch. Bundled with their expected display of Assassin’s Creed III, and Far Cry 3. They also gave us a splendid display of Rayman Legends, which I’ll be undoubtedly touting as the next coming of Christ.

What initially surprised me was how much support Ubisoft were giving Nintendo’s Wii U, but given that it’s a new platform that will need support then it makes perfect sense. It’s always good to see a publisher support a brand new system. Some people seem to find issues with that, but I don’t understand why. Should they just ignore the new system or just port their older games onto it? I’d rather see them try to make use of the system’s features early in the console’s cycle.  It needs support to be worth buying.

The big unveiling came at the end with the surprise announcement of Watch_Dogs. The game looks intriguing, and has potential to be absolutely fantastic. Even just walking down the streets at the start of the gameplay demonstration, it was obvious that something was different. Of course, at the same time, I couldn’t help but draw parallels with Rockstar’s RAGE Engine. The way the animations worked, the way the city and UI looked, the way the cover and shooting looked. It all reminded me of Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto IV and LA Noire at the same time. But despite all that, it looked like it was doing something relatively unique. At the very least, you could be a far better assassin than you were in Assassin’s Creed.

Ubisoft made significant guest appearances at everyone else’s conference, with the exception of EA. They showed off the most surprising and interesting title. And, putting aside their awful hosts, they also focused the most on video games. They were the best at E3.

Nintendo 3DS LL Announced And … It’s Pretty Silly

Nintendo 3DS LL XL Announced Size

During Nintendo’s Direct showing just last night, Nintendo showed off their brand new hardware to serve as an upgrade to the 3DS. The 3DS LL (or XL outside of Japan) features screens 90% larger than the previous handheld and longer lasting battery life. Details can be found after the jump.

The top screen will be a 4.88 inch screen, with the touch screen measuring at 4.18 inches. The 3DS itself will measure at 173mm in length, and 155mm in width. We can expect the new battery to last between three and a half to six and a half hours when using 3D, and six to ten hours in 2D mode. The 3DS LL/XL will launch without a charger in Japan and Europe, as Nintendo states that the vast majority of consumers who purchase their new hardware will be owners of the previous 3DS device.

In the US, the 3DS will retail for $199.99 (£128.31 GBP). We can’t expect to be so lucky here in the UK though, paying a total £179.99 ($280.54 USD). We’re actually paying more than the Japanese for a change. I’ve found nothing on the EU price yet, but I suspect €199.99.

Honestly, I think this is kinda stupid. Even the most hardcore Nintendo fans I know find the comment about the lack of a charger insulting, of course being the internet I expect to be criticised for that anyway. On top of that, the screen is 90% larger than the previous 3DS, but there appears to be no change in resolution. This means a significantly lower DPI (see 90% lower) that essentially indicates that, well… we’re going to have to get used to seeing a lot of bloated pixels everywhere. It’s not going to be pretty.

Nintendo 3DS XL LL Second Analogue Stick Announced News
See? It doesn’t look too hard to do!

What also gets me is the lack of a second stick. While many complain that this would split the userbase in half, I don’t see the point in launching a handheld clearly designed as an upgrade for existing hardware for previous adopters when you don’t do something like that. They said it themselves, that they expect current 3DS owners to purchase it. Why not give them the second analogue stick? It saves buying an extra accessory, which, now they’ll have to wait for another release of that too. Meanwhile, early 3DS consumers can just buy the accessory like they were expected to if they wanted to use the second stick anyway. The option is there. Instead, this just means we can’t expect much for the second stick at all – so long as it remains an accessory.

Anyhow, this is good news for anyone wanting to trade off portability and, relatively, clean graphics for either a larger screen or a longer battery life. Frankly, I’d rather wait for the next iteration. I’m also expecting a 3DS with a second analogue stick at some stage. It’d be a great way to manipulate consumers who bought both versions to purchase another 3DS. After all, isn’t that was this is really about?

CVG: Nintendo Unveils Nintendo 3DS XL

PlayStation Vita Sale

Sony PlayStation Vita for video game sale news

So, just in case you own your own PlayStation Vita and somehow still haven’t already played every Vita game on the market whilst waiting for more releases: Sony are pleased to announce a sale on their titles for the handheld. Read the list after the jump.

Army Corps from Hell
Was €39.99/£34.99 – Now €26.99/£21.99
Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend
Was €39.99/£34.99 – Now €26.99/£21.99
Little Deviants
Was €14.99/£11.99 – Now €10.99/£8.99
Modnation Racers: Road Trip
Was €14.99/£11.99 – Now €10.99/£8.99
Rayman Origins
Was €34.99/£29.99 – Now €24.99/£19.99
Reality Fighters
Was €14.99/£11.99 – Now €10.99/£8.99
Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen
Was €39.99/£34.99 – Now €19.99/£16.99
Touch My Katamari
Was €29.99/£24.99 – Now €14.99/£11.99
Unit 13
Was €34.99/£29.99 – Now €24.99/£19.99

It’s a small list, but the prices are fairly decent. I’ve not used my Vita for a while as I’ve been too skint to buy anything for it, so this will be a good chance for me to at least get Unit 13. I may actually pick up a couple more just to give my Vita more use as well. Is there anything that interests you guys? In particular, I heavily recommend Rayman Origins if you’ve not played it already. If I push it enough, eventually they might give me commission for the sales I make them!

PlayStation Blog (EU): PS Vita Sale on PlayStation Store Continues…

Review: Capcom’s Wrath

A lot of negative press has been surrounding Capcom as of late, particularly involving how they market their games. One of the more controversial titles in the past year was Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 — release lesss than a year after Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Then there’s the downloadable content on the disc. And of course, there’s the fact that they’ve been outsourcing their biggest franchises to western developers, which has also cause its fair share of backlash. Regardless, things are looking up this year. They may still be outsourcing their old IP’s, but this year they have two particularly good looking fresh IPs this year. These titles are Dragon’s Dogma and Asura’s Wrath. I recently got my hands on the latter.

Asura’s Wrath is probably the most unique looking game released this year so far. I know that the year is far from over, but we’re already halfway through and I consider that impressive enough. Before I got my hands on the game I tried my best to stay as uninformed as possible. I didn’t play the demo, I didn’t read very much news on the game at all, and I just steered clear from conversations involving the game. One comment did slip through my defences though. Asura’s Wrath is a Japanese anime in video game form. Knowing, at the very least, the genre in which the title belonged to, I determined that this perception of the game was a result of the over-the-top action elements and it’s graphical style. It’s a fair enough comparison, I thought, but the same can be said for ‘x game’ or ‘y game’. I just thought people were slightly exaggerating. Boy, was I wrong.

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: CyberConnect2
Platforms: PlayStation 3(Reviewed), Xbox 360
Release Date: February 24th 2012
Rating: 15 (BBFC), 16+ (PEGI)

Asura’s Wrath takes from anime beyond just the clichés, the graphical style and being very zany in a Japanese fashion. The game is split into eighteen episodes. Each episode is split into two halves, separated by eye catches. Brief credits appear on screen at the start of each episode, and there’s also a next episode preview at the end of an episode.

The story in itself is interesting and very entertaining, but it doesn’t have too much substance to it either. It focuses entirely on Asura’s rage and how it fuels his power as he tries to rescue his daughter. It was crazy entertaining though, despite being filled with clichés all over. As of such, even the characters’ personalities weren’t original – as they were essentially typical anime character archetypes. We’re not looking at something particularly deep here, but it certainly gets points for being artistic, and I mean that in as little of a pretentious manner as possible.

For the most part, the character of Asura is one in which we can empathise with. He’s relatively likeable, as much as he is defined by his anger. He’s exciting to watch, and gets your blood boiling. The intensity of the action makes the entire game just fantastic to watch. Oh, did I say watch?

The thing about this game is that it’s about one-third gameplay, and two-thirds of it are cinematic scenes. Those scenes do feature user interaction, however. This is through the use of Quick-Time Events in which the player must press the corresponding button in the manner that the game suggests. You do not fail instantly should you mess it up, and you are given leeway, but it’s quite compelling. Frankly, I looked forward to the Quick-Time Event segments of the game more than I did the actual third person action game segment!

Expect the action to be very basic, but still relatively fun. I can see why it’s just a small portion of the gameplay considering that it doesn’t have that much depth. All the same, it’s great to see how your attacks and techniques change with the story (such as when you lose or gain limbs); although, these changes are usually more cosmetic and doesn’t really impact your strategy.

Speaking of cosmetics, the graphics are beautiful. They’re very anime-esque. Whilst I can see that being a problem for some, it does make the game look magnificent. Likewise the sound is great and everyone is voice acted very well.

Honestly, there’s very little else to add about this title. It’s artistic, and whilst there are plenty of other games that rely on Quick-Time Event mechanics, Asura’s Wrath still manages to come out feeling very fresh and unique. As a title selling at full retail price, it doesn’t warrant a purchase. It’s too experimental and only lasts six hours. However, I certainly suggest giving the title a rent or buying it at a discounted price. It’s a game that really is worth playing.

Asura’s Wrath scores 7/10. It was completed on Normal Difficulty, without any downloadable content installed.