Past Rants, Raves & Views

Gaming Rehab centre opens

New service setup for ‘screenagers’

At some point in our gaming lives, we’ve all blown our metaphorical top at a video game. Repeatedly dieing at the hands of a final boss, getting piped to the line by another racer, taking bullet after bullet to the face from an unknown enemy; these will all send you into a rage of video-gaming mist that is all but uncontrollable. Until now! Or so it seems…

Richard Graham, a London consultant psychiatrist (please note he’s not a doctor) has established a new rehab service for teenagers who are addicted to their precious electrical items and services. The service is primarily aimed at a young gamer/gadget nut that reacts badly to an order or request to stop. Like any addiction, it’s the stopping that’s the hard part, and this service is aiming to stop the cravings of any ‘screenagers’ (I thought ‘screenRAGERS’ would be better?). So, if you have a teenager who is constantly glued to their mobile phone, internet provider, iPod or gaming console, you’ll know where to send them. You could try parenting first, but that’s not the modern way.

"Mental health services need to adapt quickly to the changing worlds young people inhabit and understand how seriously their lives can be impaired by unregulated time online, on-screen or in-game," said Graham. Will the service be available online Richard, via XBLA of the PSN Network?

Graham also added that other services are outdated, "borrowing from older models of addiction and substance misuse to very limited effect". Damn parenting and pills, where have they ever got us?

To be honest, in my teens I would react badly to losing or being told to switch off my video game. I’d whack my Megadrive as if it were a funfair ‘Test your Strength’ game (although the console still works to this day, unbelievably!), throw the controllers around the room, and just general throw a pubescent tantrum. A friend of mine got so angry once, he punched my copy of Micro Machines 2: Turbo Challenge (the one with the extra ports at the top of the cartridge) with such force that he imprinted the port marks onto his fist. So in that respect, any service to stop youngsters doing this is probably a good thing. Think of all the damaged consoles we could save.

It’s strange that this ‘service’ Graham has provided is only available to teenagers. I know plenty of gamers, all in their later 20s early 30s, who still throw ‘wobblys’ at their consoles whenever things go against them. And as a games reviewer, I often dismantle into a puddle of gloopy anger whenever I have to playtest a bad game, so this service could be a big help. Why can’t I come along to one of Graham’s sessions, and unhinge myself from the shackles of this terrible affliction? It’s free I’m guessing?

In all seriousness, and despite the lazy comical tone of this piece, this service is probably a good thing. The police have to deal with numerous calls every year from worried parents, after their children have reacted violently to being told to stop playing. Any service that can help this problem, and give children as young as 12 a chance to break away from their addiction is a good thing. Although in my day, my Mum would have just smacked me on the naked botty and sent me to my room without any supper. Maybe she could get a job working at this rehab centre?

Scott Tierney

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction

Publishers: Ubisoft

Developers: Ubisoft

Format: Xbox 360, PC, iPhone

Available: Now

Slowly slowly catchy baddie…

The act of stealthing can be incredibly frustrating. If a silent task is executed correctly, with a well aimed soundless bullet to an enemies head resulting in an unnoticed kill, then playing the silent assassin is both thrilling and rewarding. But when things go wrong, and you’re left dangling ridiculously from a drainpipe while half an army pump lead into your badly camouflaged spine, there are few more infuriating circumstances. So has the well renowned Splinter Cell series managed to provide us with more fiendish moments than frustrating ones?

International Cricket 2010 steps up to the crease on June 18th

New game to launch in time for the ODI series between England and Australia.

International Cricket 2010, the latest game to join Codemasters’ best-selling cricket portfolio, will be released in the UK on Friday, 18th June 2010 to coincide with the thrilling NatWest Series between England and Australia this summer. The game will be published for the PLAYSTATION3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft.

Ubisoft soars with Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Ubisoft announced that Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is being developed by Ubisoft Bucharest.  The title will launch Fall 2010 on Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PlayStation3 system, the Nintendo Wii system, and Windows PC.

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 plunges fans into an explosive environment where they can become elite aerial soldiers in control of the world's most technologically advanced aircraft. The game will appeal to a wide array of gamers as players will have the chance to control exceptional pilots trained to use cutting edge technology in amazing aerial warfare missions.

“With over one million units sold worldwide, Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. has become a very successful brand for Ubisoft,” stated Bogdan Bridinel, creative director at Ubisoft. “This new H.A.W.X. game is directly inspired by Tom Clancy’s books, and it will enable fans to once again experience the excitement and intensity that established H.A.W.X. as a successful brand.”

For information on Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 can be found at:

www.hawxgame.com

Send Your Adversaries Running With Dual Pistols

Paragon Studios Launches City of Heroes Going Rogue Pre-purchase Program

Players of City of Heroes, the world’s most popular super-powered hero MMO, now have the opportunity to supercharge their characters. Players who pre-purchase the Going Rogue expansion will be granted instant access to multiple power sets leading up to its release. As seen in the Dual Pistols video released , players who pre-purchase can now run and gun in City of Heroes with twice the punch by wielding twin customizable guns with swappable ammo. Later this April, those that pre-purchase the expansion will have access to another power set coming in Going Rogue, Demon Summoning, the new mastermind power set featuring elemental demons and hellfire whips.

NCsoft reveals Aion : The Official Magazine

Monthly digizine includes in-game items, first issue available for pre-order now

NCsoft, the world’s premier publisher of MMOs, is pleased to announce Aion: The Official Magazine, a new digizine produced in collaboration with Cranberry Publishing. Inside every issue you’ll find exclusive interviews, news on upcoming content, extensive player guides, and community news and tips from the best Aion players in the world. We will also be giving away a unique in-game item with each issue. The magazine is available exclusively through the official website and the first issue lands 26 th March, 2010 for just £2.49/€2.99 (individual issue price).

Aion : The Official Magazine is being produced by professionals in a digital magazine format, producing the exact replica of a print page, except on screen, and including videos and other interactive elements on the pages.  As a bonus, each issue will come with a unique in-game item. Furthermore there are additional items available exclusive to subscribers who pre-order the first issue of the magazine.

For more details about the in-game items for the first issue and special subscription offers, please visit the Official Magazine website on www.aionmagazine.com .

Preorders for Ubisoft’s Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic and Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic Gold Edition are available now


Ubisoft announces preorder availability for Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic and Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic Gold Edition.

Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic hails the return of the number one submarine simulation. For the first time, the player will be able to play as a U-boat captain leading his crew from a first-person view in a true dynamic campaign. Operate against Allied shipping across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea and participate in famous encounters with strong enemy warships.

The Gold Edition will be available for download only and will contain seven unique submarines and enemy ship skins. The Gold Edition will also include the Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic Official Guide containing 110 pages of crew details, submarines, ships and weapons as a pdf on the build.

Silent Hunter is the most award-winning submarine series of all time, with nearly 1.5 million copies sold worldwide. Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific made a lasting solid impact on the franchise’s growing fan base after it was released to worldwide critical acclaim, including being named 2007’s “Simulation Game of the Year” by PC Gamer.

New Single Player And Multiplayer Additions Enrich The Rapture Experience By Adding A Wealth Of New Content And Features

2K Games announced yesterday an aggressive post-launch downloadable content plan for BioShock 2 that extends and enhances the single and multiplayer experiences by adding more glimpses into the award-winning world of Rapture. Downloadable content will be made available soon, beginning with the Sinclair Solutions Test Pack, available this March from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Games for Windows–LIVE for 400 Microsoft Points and from the PlayStation Network for £3.19. Future expansions into the world of BioShock 2 are slated to arrive over the coming months and will continue to expand on the stories of the denizens of Rapture.

Sid Meier's Pirates!

On Guard!

Publisher: Concrete Software in Partnership with Oasys Mobile

Format: Blackberry

Everyone is app crazy. Thanks to Apple and it's pioneered app store we saw mobile phone manufacturers respond as fast as they could, desperate to close the gap that Apple revealed.

In past years, we were quite happy with purchasing games for mobile phones, so the platform for developing applications was there already. Apple didn't reinvent the wheel...Instead they removed the limitations and encouraged development of anything and everthing under the sun as an app, creating an elitist add on to support their presence in the mobile market.

RIM, a smartphone manufacturer who truly stands out from the bunch. The Blackberry App World is home to over 5000 apps geared towards the blackberry niche market. I decided to download Sid Meier's Pirates!

New events for Castle of Heroes as cash shop opens

Leading free-to-play online games publisher Gala Networks Europe announced yesterday two new events for highly anticipated fantasy strategy title 

Castle Of Heroes

. The browser-based title, currently in open beta, has also opened the cash shop to allow players to access additional items.

In the first of these events, two heroes will be placed on the game map each day from Monday 15th to Friday 19th February. Randomly throughout each of these days, clues as to their locations will be posted on the game forums, Facebook page or Twitter feed with the first player to post the co-ordinates of a hero winning a prize. These will include two 12-hour Diplomacy cards as well as two Lucky Chest sets and a hero card box.

The second will see four GM castles left open to attack. Each of these castles has a certain fame range and the first player to defeat a castle will receive a reward unit until all four castles have been defeated. The event will run for five days from 22nd-26th of February.

The rewards for these castles are as follows:

Castle 1, low fame - Bronze training card, 1 gold experience pill

Castle 2, low to medium fame range - Dwarven builder card, 1 gold experience pill

Castle 3, medium-high fame range - Blue Hero, double recovery card, bronze training, dwarven builder card.

Castle 4, highest fame range - Yellow Hero,magician card, double recovery card, bronze training card, dwarven builder card.

The item shop will allow gamers to purchase useful items to help them build their empire. Players who have suffered heavy casualties will be able to make use of the Regeneration Cards, which will lower the recovery time required for wounded units. Fighting on many fronts against hordes of bloodthirsty monsters can seriously drain action points, which is why the new Action Cards will increase your action point regeneration, giving you an extra chance or two to smite some evil monsters. These and many more useful items can be accessed in-game simply by pressing the shop button on the main interface.

The fighting is really heating up with guilds waging war for territory and resources. Grudges are starting to build as the guilds expand and their members become more powerful. New players can pick a side in an already bloody war, or seek allies and become a new force on the field of battle with their own guild.

http://en.heroes.gpotato.eu/

2K Play Releases The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom Exclusively For Xbox LIVE Arcade

A sprinkle of time, a dollop of cloned buttwitts and a taste of vicious Chronoberry pies create a delicious multi-dimensional adventure

2K Play announced yesterday that The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom video game is now available exclusively on Xbox LIVE Arcade for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft for 800 Microsoft Points. Developed by The Odd Gentlemen, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is Chronoberry-filled with gamer goodness that includes a refreshing storyline drizzled with crisp puzzles, a savoury score and a decadent art style harkening back to the silent film era.

All blood and thunder

Predator is a brilliant film.

I say this under advisement. I'm not averse to more arthouse fare on occasion, but as far as 80s action films go, Predator is right up there. It's not every fella that can make Schwarzenegger look like a 90 pound stripling, after all. More importantly the Predator character, such as he is, plays right into the omnipotence complexes that we gamers often have. It's all very well to run and gun, but I always gain far more satisfation from the 400-yard headshot. Patience. Awareness. Strategy, not tactics. 

For me, the Predator is just about the most silkily slick killer in contemporary sci-fi. So why is it that every game I've ever played the bugger in imbues him with all the grace and poise of a one-legged reject from Strictly Come Dancing?

Predator: Concrete Jungle

is the most notable offender, making the management of the cloaked killing machine about as much fun as thumb-wrestling Jimmy Giant Thumbs while wearing sandpaper boxer shorts. But

Alien V Predator

, Rebellion's new offering, makes plenty of mis-steps too. Don't get me wrong... the game is not bad at all and plugs into a particularly primal spot on my fun gland. But there's not a developer I can think of who's brought balletic grace to the big fella.

Why can't old Dreadlocks flit seamlessly from vantage point to vantage point? Batman can. Rikimaru from Tenchu can. Sam bloody Fisher can. Maybe that's the fallacy. Concrete Jungle went so horribly wrong because it worried too much about the arsenal of weaponry... spear, disc, and all that jazz. At his (its?) heart, the Predator is a ninja, albeit a 200 kilo one with exotic alien weaponry. He's not for charging headlong into a pack of goons and steamrollering the lot of them... he's for sitting on a branch 200 feet up and decoying individual goons away from the pack and into a gory death, to be recorded on an alien 8-track and played back later to a Sergeant Mac while he's having a psychotic episode.

To be fair, the new game makes some efforts to address this... you're basically a stealth character. At the same time, you do suffer from TMSS... too much stuff syndrome. You have loads of take-down options and it can feel a little overwhelming, and with slightly clunky response on the controls, that hoped-for dimension of sheer alien slick-ass badness is taken away.

I'm looking forward to really getting into AvP as a multiplayer proposition. I really am. I can't help it if, deep down, I want to be a space ninja.

--

Rob Hobson

Open beta season for Allods Online in Europe has started

 

Gala Networks Europe, the leading free-to-play online games publisher, is delighted to announce that Allods Online, the subscription-less fantasy space opera MMORPG, started Open Beta across Europe!

The Open Beta version of the game is now available from the gPotato.eu portal where Allods Online is hosted. Players need only to sign in with their usual account name, or sign up if not already a gPotato.eu account holder. The Allods Online client can be downloaded from:

http://en.allods.gpotato.eu/Download/Client.aspx

For those who have already played Allods Online in one of its Closed Beta versions, the game client will update automatically and several features from previous phases will be carried over to Open Beta.

Television and games industries announce new event partnership for Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Interactive and Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival to host networking and information showcase

Edinburgh Interactive, part of the Edinburgh Festival, and the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival announced earlier this week plans for a far-reaching partnership that will bring the games industry together with the TV industry.

Project Needlemouse Gets to the Point

Finally. What we've been waiting for since 1994. On Thursday 4th February 2010, Sega extricated the title of their latest hot topic.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4.

Now if that isn’t the last propaganda technique in this title, I’ll eat my Megadrive. Now let’s not write this off before it’s even test-worthy. Ok, so Sega have released a clip of about 1 second of mock-up gameplay, and it looks very promising. Even to get the most sceptical non-believers tapping their keyboards in anticipation of finding a second trailer clip. The part I’m worried about is the full title: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. Excuse moi? Episode? What is this, Sonic or Star Wars? It’s well known to avid followers by now that this title is slated for a summer release as DLC. You may think this limits the game size so that the game must be broken down into more modem-befriending, byte-sized segments. However, please Sega, couldn't you have been more creative? Take Sonic the Hedgehog 3 for example. Those of you like me will happily remember that this game featured two “episodes”, Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. Very clever. Split the game in half, sell it twice, the kiddies get a sequel to sonic 3 in 8

months after the release, everyone’s happy…

Well. This time it’s tasting a bit bland. Ok, so I’m literally sweating in anticipation for Sonic 4, and what 16-Bit nutter isn’t? All I ask is- please Sega, take a look back at 1991, 1992 and 1994 and do it that way; or even browse 1993, where Sonic CD gave the relatively lucky few a taste of 90’s techno and time travelling!

One verdict can be assured, whether the game will get all the chaos emeralds, or spindash straight into a pit of spikes, it is sure to leave a lasting impression on Sega’s reputation. This is their Death Egg, their chance for victory, or Sonic’s Game Over.

Mark Hogan

Music to your 5.1 ears

How can one little cable bring so much ear-bursting happiness?

Like most film nuts, I always watch my DVDs via a big screen and through surround sound system. The picture is impressive, but what makes any film truly come alive is 5.1. Everything is so much clearer and awe inspiring with surround sound, from the little SFX that twinkle around the room, to the clear speech and rip-roaring explosions. Surround sound just makes films come alive.

So what I’ve always wanted to do is link-up my surround sound amp and Xbox 360, and hear some of the games in glorious 5.1. But frustratingly, the 360 has no optical output, so I can’t connect and enjoy some ear-bashing goodness. Curse you Microsoft cheap-scats!

But this technical shortcoming hasn’t been a major issue for me. I’ve always used the standard TV speakers, or if necessary slapped-on a pair of headphones. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do, and you’d be surprised at how well a pair of headphones can deliver. But recently I brought a PS3 – which has an optical output – and gave that a blast around the system. The results were fantastic. Well, I say fantastic, I’ve only got the one game at present (Resistance: Fall of Man), but it gave me a taste of what surround sound could do for a game, and vice-versa. So, I dived face-first into the web, and went in search of a way to get surround sound out of an Xbox 360.

Disappointingly, this isn’t going to be an epic tale of one mans enlightening experience of self discovery, filled with struggle, pain, adventure and torment. After a couple of brief clicks of a mouse and a sip of Ovaltine, I found a suitable cable on Amazon. No intricate technical operation was need, no expensive parts, not even a new console. Nope, just £12.99 and two days in the post. Why didn’t I do this 4 years ago?

Choice of one

Why is GTA4 still the only sandbox game worth playing?

One thing we’re not short of in the world of gaming is choice. There are quite literally hundreds of thousands of games available today, with every title fighting to be the number one of its respective genre. But most genres don’t have a definite number one title. For instance, if you want to play a really good FPS, you can go for Half-Life 2, Bioshock, Modern Warfare 2, Halo, Killzone 2, plus many others. If you want a racer, then there’s the Forza series, the Gran Turismo series, the Colin McRae series. Fancy some 3rd Person action? Then there’s Uncharted 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Fable 2, Gears of War. I could go on listing games until my digits are worn away to stumps, but you get the idea. With most genres, there’s no clear ‘Big Cheese’, just a lot of similarly excellent Babybels.