Month: January 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: Week Four of January

Another week is down, but the gaming drought continues for now. Fear not, for headlines were still made. Let’s take a look at what’s happened this past week.
Ubisoft announced that I Am Alive, a believable post-apocalyptic action-adventure game, is coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade House Party for the Xbox 360 on March 7. I Am Alive follows an everyman’s journey to find his wife and daughter, who were lost during the “Event.” A year later, he finds Haventon, his hometown, in shambles. Buildings are destroyed, toxic ash fills the streets and society has been torn, causing inhabitants to take all necessary actions to survive.  I Am Alive will be available for download for 1200 Microsoft Points.

After the recent popularity of the release of Grand Theft Auto III on Android and iOS devices, Sony has decided to use this time as a perfect opportunity to make Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City available to download for Playstation Network  users.  No word has been made is Grand Theft Auto San Andreas will see the light of day as a re-release on PSN.  A date for release has not been made.

Ubisoft debuts the Mediterranean Traveller Map Pack, all-new downloadable content for Assassin’s CreedRevelations for the Xbox 360 video game and  from Microsoft and Windows PC. The Mediterranean Traveller Map Pack will be available for PlayStation3 starting January 25 on the PlayStation Network.  The addition of six multiplayer maps introduces new gameplay opportunities through each map’s varied terrain, perches and hideouts. The new collection of Trophies and Achievements will allow players to try their hand at kills and escapes that are as impressive as they are effective.  The Mediterranean Traveler Map Pack is available for download at a price of 800 Microsoft Points on Xbox LIVE Marketplace for Xbox 360 and £7.99 on PlayStation Network and Windows PC.

Bethesda was released a beta for the upcoming 1.4 patch for Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim earlier this week.  Normally patches are beta tested, as they are rolled out for lengthy testing.  Due to the issues that have plagued Skyrim players its assumed that Bethesda wants to cover themselves if there are still issues after the patch release.  The patch is available currently on PC, and to individuals who bought Skyrim via Steam.  Ollie provides a full run down of what is planned to be changed with the upcoming patch.

Due to a “jam-packed” development schedule revolving around World of Warcraft, the annual convention hosted by Blizzard Entertainment has been pushed back until 2013 according to a statement available on Battle.Net.  “Blizzard Entertainment is proud to announce the 2012 Battle.net World Championship, a major global eSports event featuring some of the best pro-gaming competition in the world,” the firm said.  “Slated to take place in Asia toward the end of 2012, the Battle.net World Championship will host this year’s StarCraft II and World of Warcraft Arena World Championship tournaments.  “We’re also heavily focused on getting Diablo IIIMists of Pandaria, and Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible. In light of our jam-packed schedule, we’ve decided to hold the next BlizzCon in 2013.”  Blizzcon is a convention which features development panels and tournaments for Blizzard franchise titles Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo.

Lastly, Valve has launched a mobile version of Steam which is available on iOS and Android.  The app allows users to access their friends list, chat, browse games, and purchase titles.  Since the software is still in beta, users who wish to use the mobile Steam will have to opt into it.  At this time, Valve doesn’t have any plans to distribute any mobile games, this could be part with Apple maintaining a tight control over the apps that are purchased for their mobile devices.

That’s it for this week, check back to Z1G for more news, reviews and more!

Weekly Wrap Up: Week Three of January

Gamers, we are working our way through the gaming drought that is the month of January.   But, no fear, the headlines still rolled out this past week, so let’s take a look at what was going on.

Earlier this week UK retailer, GAME, denied that there was any type of security breach made to their systems.  In respond to this GAME spokesperson Anna-Marie Mason sent out this statement:At GAME we guard our customers’ details very carefully. We have thoroughly investigated the hacking claims made today by the website Pastebin, and can confirm that they are entirely false.  The published email addresses are not registered users of GAME.co.uk, and there has been no breach of our database security.  We would like to assure all our customers that their details are well protected, and advise anyone who has any questions to contact our customer services team via the website, our Facebook page or Twitter account.

Recently a viral marketing campaign as popped up on the web that has led many to believe its leading to the announcement of Resident Evil 6. www.nohopeleft.com has suddenly appeared and seems to be tracking the appearance of graffiti all over the world. The grafitti, as you can see below just states “No Hope Left”, the bit that has everyone sitting up and paying attention is that the ‘O’ in the biohazard symbol, which for those of you who know your Resident Evil, that in Japan versions of the games are called Biohazard.  Time will tell what Capcom has stored for Resident Evil fans.

A recently featured Hidden Gem, Alan Wake, here on Z1G has an upcoming sequel in the works.  The franchise developer, Remedy, has been seen advertising for a gameplay programmer as well as a gameplay/AI programmer for a mysterious project which is said to take large strides in enemy AI. “We want your help in taking our artificial intelligence, character and enemy behaviour to the next level.” “You will be working on the next iteration of Remedy’s in-house engine that was previously used in Alan Wake and Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.”  Of course this leads people to believe that there is an Alan Wake sequel in the works.  No other details are currently available regarding the developers project.  Stay tuned for more news regarding Alan Wake

Bioware this week announced that the PC version of Mass Effect 3 will require EA’s digital distribution platform Origin to register the game.  Because of the requirement of Origin, Mass Effect 3 will not be available on Valve‘s Steam distribution platform.  According to BioWare’s Community Coordinator, Chris Priestly, “Steam has adopted a set of restrictive terms of service which limit how developers interact with customers to deliver patches and other downloadable content. We are intent on providing Mass Effect to players with the best possible experience no matter where they purchase or play their game, and are happy to partner with any download service that does not restrict our ability to connect directly with our consumers.”  Priestly, also want to clarify that Origin is not spyware, but in fact safe and used as a source of digital purchases through EA.

Max

Lastly this week, fans who were undecided on whether to pre-order Max Payne 3 Special Edition were met with good news.  Since Rockstar pushed back the release date for Max Payne 3 from March to May, the pre-order date was also pushed back, from January 15 to a now distant April 2.   The special edition will come with a copy of the game, a 10″ Max Payne Statue, game inspired original still life art prints, a brass and iron bullet shaped keyring with removable back, a copy of the original soundtrack and more.  Max Payne is scheduled for release on May 29.

That’s all for this week, check back to Z1G for more gaming news, reviews and more!

My Retro Years: Hannah Jones

I think anyone who partakes in the wonderful activity of gaming has been asked one defining question; ‘what was the first game you ever played.’ Now myself, I can barely remember what I did yesterday, never mind the events of the last *cough* twenty one *cough* years I’ve walked (and sometimes crawled, staggered) across the earth. My mother often enjoyed playing video games with me in my earlier years, therefore I thought she’d be the perfect person to consult whilst compiling my gaming history.

My mother’s immediate reaction was, ‘oh where do I start’, which did not surprise me at all. She vaguely remembers purchasing a SNES, referring to it as ‘the one you put the cartridge’ things in, which caused a smile to appear upon my face. I do possess a vague recollection of the Super Mario World title for the SNES. This probably explains my unhealthy obsession with anything related to Super Mario.

Another console mentioned was the Sega Mega Drive II. Again, I vaguely remember possessing it, but my title collection is nothing but a blur, owing to my age I presume. One magnificent confirmation of me owning the Mega Drive is a highly embarrassing picture of me I posted on Facebook, holding the controller whilst celebrating an early gaming victory, possibly!?

A console I hold extremely close to my heart would be my PlayStation. I swiftly built up an incredible collection of games from the likes of Croc to Hercules: Action Game. Of all the titles I received for my PlayStation, Crash Bandicoot is one that reminds me of the precious gaming memories I possess from my childhood. Doctor Neo Cortex swiftly became the ‘baddy’ according to my younger self, who I would spend hours seeking to defeat. I happily spent hours collecting Wumpa Fruit and attacking countless enemies with Crash’s infamous ‘spinning’ attack.

 

Having already caught the Sony bug by owning a PlayStation, it was inevitable that my younger self would nag my parents for the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation 2 is a magnificent console, one that I still play regularly to this day. With a collection of games that easily surpassed 100 titles, my PlayStation 2 endured copious amounts of gameplay.

I was introduced to the Grand Theft Auto series whilst playing my PlayStation 2, much to the reluctance of my parents. A friend of mine brought Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for me to ‘try’ which lead to me harassing my parents to purchase it. This triggered my obsession with the Grand Theft Auto series and ultimately I became interested in games of a mature nature.

Another series of games I thoroughly enjoyed during my childhood were the wrestling games. Having been an avid wrestling fan from a young age, the Smackdown vs Raw games were a ‘must have’ for me each Christmas. Although I am not the wrestling fan I once was (apart from being a fan of the lovely John Cena and Randy Orton) this tradition remains to this day as I still receive a wrestling game for Christmas.

I think at some point in their lives, every gamer has owned a handheld console. I was lucky enough to have both a Game Boy, Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance. A series that dominated the handheld market and continues to do so would be the Pokémon series. Pokémon played an integral part in my gaming endeavours. As a child my friends and I would often huddle around our Game Boy device, discussing and debating which Pokémon we would be trading with one another. This would usually lead to me having a tantrum when I didn’t receive the Pokémon I wanted. Not that I have tantrums at games anymore, I’ve grown out of it I promise…

My obsession with Pokémon, led to the purchase of a Nintendo 64. Placing Pokémon within the Pokémon stadium to duel and snapping pictures of them in their natural habitat during Pokémon Snap became my favourite pastimes. The Nintendo 64 is the console that I first discovered my profound love for the ‘Mario Kart’ franchise. Mario Kart 64 is a game I spent countless hours playing with friends.

After seeing an advertisement for the wondrous title Fable, I purchased the original Xbox. I opted for the crystal version of the console and received it for Christmas. I opened the box and was greeted to this beautiful console, with no controller…I believe this is every gamer’s nightmare. Determined to play my Xbox on Christmas Day, I attempted to play Fable using the d-pad of the steering wheel controller I received as a gift. Needless to say, this did not go according to plan. Fable is a title that broadened the spectrum of genres I became interested in as I grew up. The level of freedom and intriguing story of this title captivated me immensely. I recently played the original Fable again and it captured my attention and imagination with the same intensity as it originally did.

Although I owned various consoles throughout my childhood, I also dabbled briefly in PC gaming. Theme Park World is a title that swiftly took over my life. Nothing satisfied me more than building outrageous rollercoasters and having the ability to ride them in the first person. Theme Hospital is another title that I enjoyed immensely. It is one of the earliest examples of me purchasing the same title on two formats (PC and PlayStation.) With comical illnesses and hilarious visuals, Theme Hospital is a game that I enjoyed to such a degree that I still play to this day.

PC gaming triggered my interest in The Sims series. As most people know, The Sims is without a doubt my favourite game series ever. Most people would suggest that my profound love of The Sims, does not qualify me to call myself a ‘proper gamer’ (whatever that may mean.) If you read this thoroughly and the other ‘Retro Years’ pieces from my colleagues on the website, you will notice the games that we have played differs immensely. Does that suggest that one of us is a superior gamer to another? No, it reflects the beautiful catalogue of games that the gaming industry has supplied us with over the years.

I would like to thank anyone who actually took an interest in my gaming background and this piece of writing. There are countless other titles I could have mentioned, but I hope this paints an eclectic picture of what my ‘retro years’ of gaming consisted of!

 

Thanks again for reading,

Hannah

Theme Hospital Gameplay

Pokemon Stadium Gameplay

My Retro Years: Tim Bowers

It’s the start of a brand new year and what better way to celebrate then to look back over my almost 30 years of gaming. Some of what follows is 90 percent true but as we’re dealing with a large time scale with at least 10 years of being abused by alcohol you’ll have to allow me some artistic licence in filling in the blanks!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…….

I was born in July of 1982, despite what I may think my parents assured me I was not born with a controller in my hand, of this I think my Mother is most grateful, however it always feels like it’s been there. I was far too young to be aware of the “Great Video Game Crash” of 1983 but during my infancy gaming slowly started building itself up again.

I may have had an Atari or an Amiga before this but the first console I remember having is Commodore 64 Games Console. This came out in 1990 according to Wikipedia which I guess would be about right for my age. I don’t really remember having a lot of games for it, in fact i can only remember one.

Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top O’ Fun was essentially a very very early version of a Mini-Game collection. In it you were tasked with saving a circus from an evil business man and his henchman, the titular Fiendish Freddy, by completing six circus events and raising the $10,000 needed to save the circus. The events were Diving, Knife Throwing, Juggling, Trapeze, Human Cannonball and Tightrope Walking. During the events Freddy would appear to the sides of the screen and attempt to thwart your actions, such as during the juggling he would chuck on bombs that you would be required to chuck back at him before they blew up. I remember it being very difficult, although that could of been due to my under developed hand eye co-ordination.

 

As I said I can only really remember that game from the Commodore days but a year after getting that I got my hands on my first real console, the console that had almost single handedly revived the gaming world. The Nintendo Entertainment System.

My love for the “Big N” knows no bounds, in fact I have owned every Nintendo console that has been released and it all began with that little grey box of joy.  I remember the slot that held the game in was broken so I had to use a cassette tape box (remember them!!) to hold the game in place when I wanted to play. I must of spent a small lifetime playing that machine. I kept mine for years and every now and then I used to dust it off and fire it up. Oh the games, THE GAMES!!!!! This was the start of the New World of Gaming. So many of the biggest franchises still going today started off with the NES. Super Mario Bros. Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear, Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, Mega Man. The list goes on and on.

During my time with the NES I also had a Sega Master System, it was ok, I did and still do enjoy Sega’s consoles but in the same way I’ve never really taken to Microsofts forays into todays market, I never really got on with Sega. Sorry. Go Team Nintendo!

After this you can follow my gaming life with the subsequent releases of Nintendo consoles. Our next stop is the Super Nintendo era and a game that devoured an entire Christmas Holiday and still to this day I can’t listen to George Michael’s “Jesus to a Child” without my mind thinking about it. It’s the one, the only, the sex bomb herself. Super Metroid.

The adventures of Bounty Hunter Samus Aran on the NES were unknown to me. I was possibly too young to really notice and too swept up in the colour of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. 3 to really notice the dark environments of Zebes but I found them on the SNES. The game blew my mind, it was like Zelda but in space and with aliens!! How awesome! I was running around, exploring, fighting giant space monsters and weird brain sucking things (later I would realise these were Metroids). It was everything a game should of been but was vastly overlooked back then. Still to this day the Metroid franchise is the forgotten child of the Big N’s Big Three. Did you know it was Metroid’s 25th Anniversary last year…..No didn’t think so, the fanfare that accompanied the Mario and Zelda anniversaries is sorely missing in celebrating the accomplishments of Miss. Aran. If you own a Wii and have never played Super Metroid you resolve this by downloading it from the Wii Store. I urge you to do it as it is one of the best games you will ever play. FACT!

I can’t move on from the SNES era without talking about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The first console Zelda since Zelda II on the NES. A Link to the Past was a return to the top down, treasure hunting, dungeon solving Zelda that people had fallen in love with but it was better oh so so better. Again the game reaffirmed my love for the series and still remains a firm favourite.

I think I may leave it there, we’re slowly heading into modern territory now but all you need to know is that if there has been a Nintendo Home system with a new Zelda or Metroid game – I have owned it. My love for these series is unwavering – even when one stumbles (Metroid: Other M)

If you were wondering I currently own a PlayStation 3 so my love is spread over both Nintendo and Sony.

If you don’t mind I will leave you with Jerry Springer style thought. To be a gamer in this day and age is a wonderful experience, it finally feels like Gaming as a hobby is being accepted, yes it may have taken the watering down of some of our beloved franchises and the invention of a new genre which strikes fear into the heart of any hardcore gamer (“Party Game”) but it’s where we want to be as an accepted and admired art form. There’s still enough people out there who would be happy seeing our hobby vanish from the face of the earth so don’t compound their small mindedness by hating on each other because I have a PlayStation and you have an Xbox and they have a Wii. Do you think the studios and the programmers and the artists and the developers give a crap about that or do you think they’re more concerned about being part of an awesome industry, doing a job they enjoy?

Take care of yourself, and each other!