Past Rants, Raves & Views

Borderlands add-on pack: Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution invites fans back to pandora to battle Claptrap Ninja Assassin

2K Games and Gearbox Software recently announced that Borderlands fans can return to Pandora’s inhospitable environment to enjoy a brand-new destructive downloadable adventure in Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution*. This fists-of-fury-filled fourth add-on pack from the popular franchise will be available this September via Xbox LIVE Marketplace for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft for 800 Microsoft Points and the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC for £6.29.

Holy rumour, Batman!

Is Robin going to play a role in Arkham Asylum 2?

Straight out the gate, I’m just going to say it; I hate Robin. To me he was an unnecessary, lifeless, irritating and pointless addition to one of the great comics/franchises of all time. Whereas Batman was a grim, hardened and world-weary character, Robin was the spunky, light comic relief that to me ruined the tone of the whole piece. OK, he’s not so bad in certain comics, and the character worked well in the original Batman series, as portrayed by Burt Ward (who if you didn’t know, went on to star in a series of soft-core porn movies), but that was a light-hearted merry-go-round of frolics, and the character worked perfectly. But in other cases, when the mood was distinctively darker, Robin’s very appearance ruined it for me, and the sooner he got kidnapped and strung-up over a tank of angry sharks and begrudged piranhas, the better. Anyway, enough of that, let’s get on with the piece.

According to IMDB, Vincent Martella has been cast to play Robin in Batman: Arkham Asylum 2. Although no official confirmation from Warner has been released, with only the rather empty statement being “To our knowledge, what you asked about is inaccurate information. We are not yet discussing details for the sequel.” IMDB very rarely get it wrong.

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?

The Nunchuk

I don’t know why, I just don’t like it.

I’m a big fan of the Wii, and as a result I play a lot of Wii games as both a reviewer and gaming nut. Obviously there are a lot of bad titles out there, and at times you feel as if you’re digging through a rotten haystack of gaming mediocrity, trying to find a diamond needle that makes all the other pap worthwhile. But overall, the Wii’s a lovely little console, that despite its flaws I’d hate to be without. But the one thing about the Wii that annoys me more than all the bad titles put together, is the Nunchuk. Man, how I hate it.

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:

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 .

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.

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