Past Rants, Raves & Views

Crash, Smash And Burn with debut Dirt Showdown Gameplay trailer

Racers get wrecked and wild in smashing new DiRT Showdown video - now playing at

Codemasters today launched the first gameplay video for DiRT Showdown, a brand new dive-in-and-drive rush of speed, style and destruction. DiRT Showdown, an action packed extension of the award-winning DiRT off-road racing series, will debut May 2012 for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PLAYSTATION3 computer entertainment system and PC. The video is now playing at

The ‘Crash and Burn’ video features work-in-progress gameplay footage, showcasing the full-impact, destruction-focussed racing featured in DiRT Showdown’s 8 Ball event. The stage is a dirty, dusty circuit in the sun-baked Nevada desert where eight racers perform in front of the crowd, taking on jumps and dangerous crossover points as they jostle for position against a backdrop of fireworks and fire cannons. Boost is used to speed through gaps and smash rivals as the drivers – racing vehicles tuned for chaotic, aggressive racing – trade paint and crash out as they battle to become the star of the Showdown.

DiRT Showdown will deliver a new world of competitive and combative racing as players boost, trick and smash their way to ‘Showdown’ finals on a chaotic tour of motorised mayhem.

There are three broad categories to DiRT Showdown’s thrilling action-sports racing. Players will use nitrous to blast past rivals and negotiate courses filled with ramps, pinch points and obstacles in full-contact Racing events. Gaming’s most advanced damage engine is unleashed in Demolition Derby themed events where players smash and crash their way to victory in bone-jarring style. Finally, in Hoonigan events, gamers will send fans wild in huge stunt parks where accessible new controls offer every player the chance to become a freestyle driving hero.

From San Francisco to Miami and London to Tokyo, players will dominate their rivals and wow the crowds on their way to becoming a driving superstar. Pyrotechnics, lasers and thousands of fans give each venue a vibrant sports entertainment atmosphere, with the player taking centre stage. Over 50 different events across four championships will challenge gamers in a variety of conditions – sun, snow and rain – through the day and under the floodlights at night.

DiRT Showdown will be Codemasters’ most connected game ever – split-screen multiplayer, eight-player online racing, on and off-line quick-fire party games and YouTube integration all come as standard. Players will also be able to issue ‘Showdown Challenges’ to compete with friends whether they are online or not.

 Powered by the award-winning EGO Game Technology Platform, DiRT Showdown will be uncaged May 2012 for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PLAYSTATION 3 computer entertainment system and PC.

Slash The Pounds With The SOULCALIBUR V

To celebrate the release of SoulcaliburV on Feb 3 2012, Namco Bandai has joined forces with GYMBOX to present the Soulcalibur V: Swordsman Workout, a brand new fighting fit workout class, running exclusively every Tuesday evening at 6.00pm throughout the month of February at GYMBOX Westfield (open to both members and non-members).

 The most exciting gym in London, GYMBOX and a special team of fight choreographers has designed the sword workout. The session is inspired by the Soulcalibur video game franchise and the exercises replicate the likes of Mitsurugi, Siegfried and Pyrrha, taking you through a series of moves lifted straight from the game, giving your body the ultimate cardio and muscle workout.

The 40 minute course is built up of 16 layered sword repetitions, progressively enhancing and improving speed, accuracy and ultimately conditioning the body. Simple yet very effective, many of the moves can also be done at home, so members can continue with their swordsmanship as often as they like!??In addition, any Soulcalibur fan who turns up at GYMBOX Westfield with a copy of Soulcalibur V on either Playstation 3 or Xbox360 will not have to pay a joining fee if they decide to sign up for GYMBOX membership during February, saving themselves £99! 2012 is the year to slash the pounds...don’t delay, get fighting fit today!

SoulCalibur V graffiti transforms London’s East End

The Great Eastern Street wall in London's East End received a facelift last week, a brand new paint job for 2012, celebrating the release of SOULCALIBUR V.??The visual masterpiece in the heart of Shoreditch took three long days and was painted by the East End's infamous painter decorator extraordinaire, JIM ROCKWELL: Graffiti artist & Creative Director of END of the LINE. A time-lapsed video, filmed and painted on location shows the entire process from beginning to end, capturing the mural in all its glory.

Leading video game publisher NAMCO BANDAI teamed up with the cutting-edge aerosol mural artists ENDoftheLINE to celebrate the release of the game on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The huge 16 metre wall features legendary character Nightmare and new additions to the roster Patroklos and Ezio Auditore from Assassin’s Creed®.  The Great Eastern Wall is an ongoing project from ENDoftheLINE, a permanant Public Art Gallery that, in the last two years has featured some of London's most notorious graffiti artists, and has hosted international artists from around the globe.??SoulCalibur V will be released this Friday (3rd Feb) on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

For more information visit

To watch the video please click here:

Jane’s Advanced Strike Fighters gets ready for take off

New screenshots of the upcoming action flight simulation released

Deep Silver has released eleven new screenshots of Jane's Advanced Strike Fighters. The images provide a preview of the fighter jets the player will be able to control during the campaign. Among others, these include the F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon, an improved version of the F-16 C Fighting Falcon, which has so far only been sold to the United Arab Emirates. The screenshots also show the air dominance fighters F-22 Raptor and Su-47 Berkut. All in all, players of the action flight simulation have more than 30 different aircraft types available to deploy in daring skirmishes in single-player, cooperative, or online mode.

Jane's Advanced Strike Fighters offers 16 missions and a territory of 65,000 square kilometers with mountains, deserts, and urban landscapes, as well as 30 detailed fighter jets from the USA, Russia, Europe, and China. In extensive multiplayer arenas, players can set battle conditions such as the number of rounds and available aircraft for themselves.

Nothing beats a good flight simulator game packed with action, so we’re definitely looking for this one.

With a March 2012 release date for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Windows PC, and Sony's PlayStation3 check out the screenshots…until we can get our hands on a copy:-)

For more information about the game please visit

More Prototype 2 Pictures Leaked

With the release of Prototype 2 creeping closer, you can now brush up on your knowledge of the game with some exclusive information and assets on the game’s major characters. This time, the lead character from the first game, Alex Mercer is under the spotlight.

In Prototype 1, Mercer was a scientist working at Gentek (the scientific arm of Blackwatch working on the Blacklight virus). When rumours of leaks concerning Blacklight began, Blackwatch decided to close the project and ordered that all the staff were killed. In revenge, Mercer stole a sample of the virus and ran away. He was eventually captured by Blackwatch soldiers but rather than give himself up, he smashed the viral which then released the virus causing chaos.  Mercer was then shot and presumed dead.

 But, unbeknown to Blackwatch, Mercer was infected with virus which granted him super human abilities which enabled him to later save the city from the virus and defeating Blackwatch. Though he saved the city, Mercer is no hero, killing innocent people and showing no remorse.

Mercer’s presence hangs over Prototype 2 with new protagonist, James Heller, sighting him as the reason for his family’s death and Mercer will stop at nothing to track him down. Find out if he’s successful in April.

More insider exclusives on the way!!

Activision Releases Exclusive Prototype 2 Photos

The release of Prototype 2 may still be a few months away but we managed to get an inside fix with some exclusive information and assets on the game’s major characters, starting with new protagonist Sergeant James Heller.

Sergeant James Heller is out for revenge. This military soldier lead a happy life with his young family in New York until his wife and daughter were killed. The first Blacklight viral outbreak was the cause of their deaths and it’s claimed that Alex Mercer, the original lead character from the first Prototype was responsible. Heller will stop at nothing in his attempt to track down Mercer and avenge his family’s death. The two eventually come face to face where their confrontation leads to an incident that leaves the future of humanity in grave danger.

 Stayed tuned for more insider exclusives!

Prototype 2 developer diary released

Welcome to NYZ! Radical Entertainment peels back the curtain on the inspiration behind creating PROTOTYPE 2’s dangerous open-world playground known as New York Zero.

Set fourteen months after the catastrophic events of the original game, the New York that humanity has come to know and love over the years no longer exists…it’s now simply referred to as NYZ.

As Radical’s all-new vision for post-viral open-world New York, NYZ has been designed from the ground up to enhance PROTOTYPE 2’s signature action-packed sandbox-style gameplay, and as a mechanism to tell the game’s core narrative and side story missions.

As Sgt. James Heller, players will progress through NYZ’s three distinct zones, from the heavily militarised Green Zone, to the converted refugee and triage shanty town camps of the industrial Yellow Zone, all the way to the Red Zone – where the virus has completely overrun the city’s shattered skyscrapers and population with infection and the risk of death at every corner.

Prototype 2 New York Zero Developer Diary 4 You Tube trailer

Winter Stars takes up start position

new motion-controlled game reaches gold status

Deep Silver, the games label of Koch Media, a leading producer and distributor of digital entertainment products, recently announced that Winter Stars has now gone into production. The sports game for Kinect for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation3 with PlayStation Move support, and Wii including Wii Balance Board will be releasing in stores on 25t hNovember, 2011, just in time for Christmas.

Winter Stars entices gamers off their sofas with its high quality and easy-to-learn, exhilarating motion controls. The unique "family mode" offers a helping hand to beginners, thus making for a fun multiplayer experience with even chances for everyone. In single player mode, Winter Stars offers a campaign full of variety that allows players to experience all aspects of an athlete's career.

This new title enables sports fans of all ages and abilities to compete with one another or against virtual opponents in no less than eleven disciplines: paraskiing, curling, snowmobile, bobsled, downhill skiing, figure skating, biathlon, freeride skiing, snowboard cross, ski flying, and short-track. In thrilling multiplayer action, up to four players can engage in dynamic online or offline competitions for championship titles, or simply enjoy the variety of winter sports themed mini-games on offer. The story-driven single player mode not only features an extensive career system and character development, but also a number of special challenges such as training sessions that provide arcade-style enjoyment in between events. Console athletes can use the experience points they earn to purchase new equipment and improve their skills in preparation for the diverse challenges ahead, and to support their team on its path to victory.

Winter Stars You Tube trailer

F1 2011 coming to Nintendo 3DS this November

See the first gameplay footage of the 3DS version of F1 2011 at

Codemasters have announced that F1 2011 will be coming to the Nintendo 3DS on 25th November 2011 across the EMEA region. The arrival of F1 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS will be the first time that gamers will be able to experience any FORMULA ONE game in full 3D. The first gameplay footage of the new handheld version of the award-winning FORMULA ONE franchise is available to view now at

Gamers can compete for motorsport’s ultimate prize across a full season, enter an individual GRAND PRIX™ or jump into Time Trial mode. An additional and extensive Challenge mode is perfect for portable racing, with gamers taking on a wide range of objectives including checkpoint, gate and overtaking challenges.

Players can also compete on the go across a range of multiplayer modes. Up to four-players can race in a GRAND PRIX or go head-to-head in Time Trials while you can also team up with a friend in the two-on-two co-operative career mode. The race experience can be tailored across solo and multiplayer modes by adjusting race distance, tuning the car, choosing from a range of driving aids and selecting tyre, fuel and weather options.

Whether players are looking for a quick FORMULA ONE fix or want to build their own career from rookie to FIA FORMULA ONE DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPION, F1 2011 for Nintendo 3DS immerses players in the world’s fastest sport like never before.

F1 2011 will be available on Nintendo 3DS on 25th November. To get all the news on F1 2011 head over to or follow the game on twitter at

Vodafone launches Freedom Freebees with select handsets

All available now on Vodafone PAYG with Freedom Freebees

All pay as you go phones come ready for customers to take advantage of their great value Freebees, which include a choice of free minutes, text and web access or international calls

 Every pay as you go customer is also automatically opted-in to Freebee Rewardz.

Every time a pay as you go customer tops up as little as £5, they’ll receive a text giving them a voucher code. They can then go online to ‘grab’ an instant reward or bank them as ‘grow’ points, to save up for something

Customers can choose from a wide selection of rewards including big name discounts from brands such as Thorntons and BLOCKBUSTER, music downloads and free minutes or choose to take a mystery reward, which could be anything from a smoothie maker to an iPhone. Alternatively, customers can collect points towards vouchers and experience days.

Vodafone 354

If you want an easy-to-use phone that’s great for social networking and web access, choose the Vodafone 354 with full QWERTY keypad. Available now for £25 PAYG, the 354 has Facebook built in, so you can update your status or upload photos in seconds.

BlackBerry Curve 9360

Get Wi-Fi and improved web browsing on the thinnest BlackBerry Curve smartphone yet. Available now for £225 PAYG, the BlackBerry 7 OS makes this smartphone faster and smoother to use, perfect for keeping up with friends and family wherever you are. It has social network feeds and pre-installed apps such as Twitter and Facebook.

Samsung GALAXY Y

The Samsung GALAXY Y is an easy-to-use touchscreen smartphone. Its 3” screen responds quickly to taps and swipes, so you can access everything you need in a flash. Available now for £100 PAYG, the smartphone also gives you several homescreens where you can put icons and shortcuts to the things you use most often – so you could have favourite contacts on one screen, and news and weather widgets on another.

HTC Explorer

The curved and compact HTC Explorer features a 3.2” HVGA touchscreen and 3MP camera. Available now for £130 PAYG, it’s also loaded with HTC Sense, featuring amongst other things, a customisable active lock screen so you can keep up to date with the latest feeds without needing to unlock the screen.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 sets all-time record for the biggest entertainment launch in the UK & US

                      More Than 6.5 Million Units Sold in U.S. and U.K. in 24 Hours

Shattering its own day-one sales records, Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, announced that its highly-anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has become the biggest entertainment launch ever with an estimated sell-through of  more than $400 million and more than 6.5 million units in North America and the United Kingdom alone in the first 24 hours of its release, according to Charttrack and retail customer sell-through information.

This marks the third consecutive year that the Call of Duty franchise has set day one launch records across all forms of entertainment, something no other entertainment franchise in any medium has ever accomplished.  Last year, in North America and the United Kingdom, Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops had estimated day-one sell-through of $360 million and in 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, set day-one records with estimated sell through of $310 million, according to Charttrack and retail customer sell-through information.

On 8th November, 2011, millions of fans attended more than 13,000 midnight openings at retail stores around worldwide.  According to Microsoft, after just two days, the number of gamers playing simultaneously on Xbox  Live set a new peak concurrency record.

“We believe the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard, Inc.  “Other than Call of Duty, there has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records three years in a row.  Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise exceed worldwide theatrical box office for “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings,” two of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time.”

Eric Hirshberg, CEO, Activision Publishing added, “Call of Duty is more than a game. It’s become a major part of the pop cultural landscape. It is a game that core enthusiasts love, but that also consistently draws new people into the medium. It is the most intense, adrenaline pumping entertainment experience anywhere. I would like to thank our incredible teams at Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games for making a brilliant game. But most of all, I would like to thank our millions of passionate fans worldwide. We made this game for you.”

For more information visit and

New Who Wants To Be a Millionaire trailer launched!

Based on the world’s most successful TV game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Special Editions retains all the excitement and atmosphere of the original program. Contestants participate in the fastest finger round and then scale a mountain of questions in the quest for that elusive virtual million, making judicious use of the three classic lifelines - Fifty-Fifty, Ask The Audience, and Phone-A-Friend. It’s a social experience, too: up to four friends can compete locally to outdo each other, with each person’s score dependent on their speed.

But the standout feature of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Special Editions is the introduction of special licensed question packs featuring the biggest names from movies, TV and much more, all of which will be made available as DLC to bolt on to the main game.

The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Special Editions range are being developed by doublesix games, in association with Deep Silver, under license from 2waytraffic, the rights holder of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, and will be released on November 23, 2011.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Trailer

Indie Dev day showcased at Develop Liverpool

Following a successful launch at this year’s Develop in Brighton, the Indie Dev Day conference and networking event is returning to run alongside Develop in Liverpool on 24 November at the Hilton Liverpool Hotel.

Indie Dev Day in Liverpool will feature an afternoon of half-hour sessions designed specifically for established independent studios, new start-ups, developers teetering on the brink of becoming an indie, freelance developers and students.

The sessions will give delegates a chance to hear – and share – experiences in developing games for emerging platforms such as XBLA, PSN, Steam, Facebook and iOS. They will also have access to valuable case study material from successful indie developers – big and small. In addition Indie Dev delegates have the opportunity to meet other developers and key industry figures at the networking party at the end of the day.

”We introduced the indie-focused content at Develop in Brighton to reflect the recent huge growth of indie developers and micro studios producing great games, and we were overwhelmed by how popular the Indie Dev Day was,” commented Andy Lane managing director of organiser Tandem Events.

“Because the north west of England has always been a hotbed of creative talent and there’s currently a growing community of indies emerging in this region, it’s perfect timing to bring Indie Dev Day to Liverpool with dedicated content focused solely on the needs of the indie.”

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood "The Da Vinci Disappearance" now available

Ubisoft announced that “The Da Vinci Disappearance” add-on for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system is now available for download on Xbox LIVE for 800 Microsoft Points and PlayStation Network for USD$9.99.

The Da Vinci Disappearance includes both single-player and multiplayer content for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. After the fall of the Borgias in Rome, Leonardo Da Vinci is kidnapped by the Hermeticists, an underground cult dedicated to transforming mankind. Ezio embarks on a relentless quest to recover stolen paintings in order to find Leo before it is too late, discovering two new locations and two new gameplay features along the way.

The multiplayer addition is the biggest expansion to the award-winning multiplayer yet, including one new map, four new characters and two new game modes. The new multiplayer map, Alhambra, is a lush environment set in Spain’s Albaicin of Granada and provides multileveled indoor and outdoor areas perfect for predators to lurk in the dense crowd for unsuspecting targets. The four new characters will undoubtedly be a huge hit with Assassin’s Creed fans, consisting of the Dama Rossa, the Knight, the Marquis and the Pariah. The two new gameplay modes, Escort and Assassinate, will provide a whole new gameplay experience for Brotherhood players. In Escort mode, two teams of four players compete to protect their VIP target or assassinate the other team’s VIP target. In Assassinate mode six to eight players are pitted against each other deathmatch-style in one ten-minute round.

Pandora Saga enters commercial service with huge launch

The true Pandora Saga starts here...

Atlus Online has launched commercial service for its newest massively online roleplaying game, Pandora Saga, capping off a successful open beta period and implementing a number of additions and enhancements to celebrate the occasion.  In addition to the game's level cap being raised to 44, it also marked the grand opening of the Pandora Saga Item Shop, adventurers' one-stop shop for a wide variety of rare and potent weapons, potions, and more.

"After an open beta full of excellent feedback and refinement, Pandora Saga proudly leaves beta status and begins its commercial service," stated Tsuyoshi Onozuka, Director at Atlus Online.  "It is now that the game will truly begin to deliver on its tremendous promise, with huge warzone battles featuring hundreds of player combatants, new challenges for higher-level users, an item shop full of rare and useful resources, and much more.  That is not to suggest that the time for continuing to listen to feedback and improve the game has passed; our focus will always be on delivering the ultimate experience for our community, and as such we shall continue to explore ways to make Pandora Saga the best game possible."

New to commercial service is the Clash of the Nations, Pandora Saga's PvP battle royale.  To celebrate the game's official launch, there will be one Clash of the Nations event a day throughout the first week--aptly dubbed "7 Days of War."  It should offer denizens of the three major nations frequent opportunities to go head-to-head against their rival adventurers.

The newly-opened Item Shop features a wide variety of unique equipment and armaments for the intrepid Pandora Saga explorer, including frost-imbued Ice weapons.  For pricing and a full list of what is available, please visit the Item Shop today!  Be sure to visit frequently, as new items will frequently be added!

Brave adventurers may join the Muldia Medals Event that may deliver some real life rewards!  Players must collect the coveted Muldia Medals and exchange them for a chance to win various prizes.  One lucky player will be rewarded with the grand prize: a $50 Ultimate Game Card, a 23" LCD monitor, and a keyboard for the avid MMO gamer.  Hundreds more will win various prizes.

CLICK HERE to download the full client and for official system requirements.  To register to play and for more info about the game, visit the official site at

Windows Phone 7

This time it’s not an attempt at cramming Windows XP onto a mobile device. Windows Phone 7 has great potential.

This time Microsoft has released a mobile phone operating system which they believe has what it takes to compete with leading smart phone leaders Android, Apple and Blackberry.  With Windows Phone 7 (WP7) Microsoft has targeted the consumer market with a completely new user-friendly interface with real time applications and features keeping users constantly up to date with social networks, contact information, email and various applications.  Top manufacturers HTC, Dell, Samsung and LG have at least ten devices released fully operating Windows Phone 7 with promises to have additional devices launched in 2011.

Firstly, WP7 device requirements are demanding yet understandable in order to keep up with the rest of the smart phone market.  Internally a device must have a 4-point capacitive touch screen display (800x480), 1GHz processor, a DirectX9 rendering capable GPU, at least 256MB of RAM and 8Gb of flash memory, an accelerometer, a light sensor, a proximity sensor and GPS.  External requirements are a 5.0 megapixel camera with an LED flash and 6 dedicated buttons: Start, search, camera, power/sleep, volume up/down and back.  These hardware conditions are expected given the specifications of the iPhone 4G, the BlackBerry Torch, and the soon to be Android 3.0 OS.

WP7 has a lot of what you would expect from Microsoft making an attempt to enter the smart phone's consumer market, and a lot you wouldn't. The incorporation of similar task management and navigation to that of the Zune HD(Microsoft's response to the Apple iTouch) and Xbox grant Windows Phone 7 its own unique style and twist to a smart phone OS, especially its interface.  Windows fans will be pleased with the inclusion of Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer Mobile, hopefully more reliable than their infamous PC browser.

The user interface has managed to incorporate live updates and an overlapping system which is incredibly intuitive and easy to use.  Tiles make up the scrollable Start screen, more commonly referred to as the home screen, which are essentially links to applications and features.  These tiles are of course constantly updated with new information regarding whatever that specific tile has to offer.  A simple example being; a live update showing the number of unread emails for the mail tile, and similarly a weather tile which displays current weather conditions viewable directly from the home screen.  Tiles are just one customizable part of the interface allowing for users to move, remove and create tiles as they please.

The overlapping aspect of the operating system is demonstrated through tiles, and furthermore through what are known as hubs.  Once you have synched your contacts with your social

networks and email listings, all relevant information regarding a single contact can be seen using a created contact-specific tile.  Hubs are tiles consisting of relevant local and online content specific to music, videos, pictures, people and more.  The People hub, for example, shows contacts and their relation, if any, to several social networks such as Windows Live, Facebook, Gmail, Xbox Live etc. whereas the pictures hub includes local pictures taken on the device's camera and access to online albums from social networks.

WP7 in October revealed over 2,000 available apps. This includes an experience similar to that of the Xbox console's where users can view leader boards and chat with Xbox Live friends.  There is undoubtedly a multiplayer incorporated gaming system but unfortunately it is currently only turn based.  Kevin Unangst, Senior Director of PC and mobile gaming for Microsoft told IGN that multiplayer capabilities will surely expand and the hope for real-time multiplayer gaming will eventually be met. As to when, all we can do is wait.

WP7 is certainly a high dive into new waters which has left Microsoft lagging in areas many may find essential; such as not even being able to copy, cut or paste! Also, internet tethering, video calls, Bluetooth file transfers, MS office security, and custom ringtones are a number of features which are unavailable at the moment but, for now Microsoft have confirmed they will include several, if not all of these features in 2011.

Needless to say, Microsoft has taken their stand in what is a constantly expanding smart phone competition and certainly come a long way from previous OS designs.  It will be exciting to see how they will progress and to what heights their software will strive to reach.

Alex Russell

Is 1 the loneliest number in games?

Is multiplayer taking the lead over the single player campaign?

Recently, I was trawling through the fresh information that was available for Call of Duty: Black Ops. There was loads of info available, such as extensive previews, interviews with the developers Treyarch, playtests, videos, screenshots; basically there was enough to make a reasonable assessment of the overall title. But one theme ran throughout the entire selection of material: Black Ops is all about the multiplayer.

Treyarch are making a huge effort to push Black Ops’ online feature, such as a variety of new deathmatch modes, a system of scoring that enables players to build-up an online currency that can be used to gamble one results and matches, differing weapons that can only be used in conjunction with others, and a whole host of new and exciting maps. Although a single player campaign was mentioned, in which two solders carry out a series of secret missions during the Cold War, it was nothing more than a fleeting nod before more grinning promotion of the multiplayer.

And this leads me onto a question that has been bugging me for a while: are developers neglecting the single player campaign and overly favoring the online multiplayer?

The reason I ask this is not only because of how Black Ops is being hyped and perceived by its creators, but more so because of how the recent major titles have been multiplayer oriented. Halo: Reach was heralded as one of the best FPS’ of the year, and rightly so, it was pacey, exhilarating and utter beautiful. But in my opinion, the solo campaign was at times tedious, and although it was well produced, it reeked of Halo Déjà vu. There was nothing that I hadn’t seen before, and although that’s arguably not a bad thing for such a successful title, it would have been nice to have seen an original and distinctive campaign, rather than another Halo clone that focused more of it’s time, online. With Reach, it seemed as if everything had gone into the multiplayer mode and the online gameplay had been the main focus of the title.

It was a similar story with Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days, which featured a campaign of barley 5 hours, but a whole host of online modes. The same point could be argued for Modern Warfare 2, which boasted some truly staggering online figures (approximately 25 million players since June this year) but had a rather overblown and frantic solo mode. Left 4 Dead is totally aimed at the group play, as have been the promotional pieces that have boosted the new FIFA title (although it should be noted that these two titles are more co-op orientated). Today, online is the place to play.

You can see why developers and publishers would be inclined to focus their titles on the multiplayer market, as it’s enormously lucrative. There are around 20 million people with Xbox Live accounts, and a staggering 39 million gamers with Playstation Network accounts: that’s a lot of potential sales for a group-based title.

Maybe I’m being a bit of an old misery guts, as I don’t play online as often as many, and I spend the majority of my time playing alone, bashing my way through single player campaigns and enjoying the submerging plots that only games can create. Some of my fondest memories of gaming come from the events of Half-Life 2, a title that was superbly focused on giving the sole gamer the most exciting, exhilarating and enthralling experience possible. But in a way, that’s what I fear is being lost in certain games, that solo experience. That story. That blinked plot that is totally unique to each gamer.

There are many exceptions of course, one being the divine Red Dead Redemption, which provided a superb multiplayer mode without diluting its central plot. To me this is the perfect example of a game for both markets, as although there’s plenty of fun to be had with your chums, at its core, Red Dead is essentially a solo experience. In a similar vein, Gears of War 2 is superb online, but its best moments come from its brutal yet heartfelt plot.

Multiplayer gaming is getting bigger and bigger, with more people playing online than ever before and more titles being focused toward this market. That’s fine with me, as gaming is always evolving and expanding, and at present the best titles are the ones that can bring both the solo and the multiplayer campaigns together in harmony. But for me, I’m still slightly concerned that the big publishers are chasing the masses of multiplayer gamers, at the expense of the sole gamer. Treyarch are doing this (in my opinion) with Call of Duty: Black Ops, and although I’m sure it’ll be a fine title, I fear it’ll also be an expendable one, which will be discarded when the online crowds have dried up and moved onto the most crowded online title of the time. With a deep and smartly written solo campaign, a game can practically live on forever, but a multiplayer game cannot, and that’s my concern.

In a few years time, we could see titles that are both devoid of plot and naked against the test of time, and although that’d be fine for a while, I for one would miss the longevity of the solo experience.

Scott Tierney

Phonica Magazine UK supports Angry Birds Day

Phonica Magazine UK joins thousands of fans expected to attend the 'Angry Birds Day' flash mob meet-up in London's Trafalgar Square, on December 11.

To celebrate the one year anniversary of the popular game, Rovio will be dedicating 11 December as Angry Birds Day. The day will be celebrated worldwide, with 470 meeting locations arranged over the globe. Since its launch a year ago, the game has been downloaded over 20 million times and attracts users from many different mobile platforms. Rovio have celebrated much success worldwide, and have kept their users happy with special edition games for Halloween and Christmas.

“What better way to engage with users and fans all over the world than through a worldwide day to celebrate the anniversary of the much loved game. It is also the perfect opportunity for Rovio to announce news as well as widen their fan base during the festive period.” Says Kevin Leonce, Editor in Chief of Phonica Magazine UK. "Look out for our exciting tribute to Angry Birds in our upcoming issue!"

There will be Finnish tribute bands, many activities for fans of all ages, news and stats at the Trafalgar Square location in London. There is speculation of new announcements on the day.

If you want to join one or start your own meeting place follow this link: