BitSnark

A place of scribblings located in the darkest corner of the internet. Yup.

Archive for May 2008

Ubi Days 08′ – What cool stuff was on show?

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Well UbiSoft’s annual event is now behind us, giving the gaming public, retailers and press a much more solid idea about what to expect from Ubisoft for their forthcoming 08/09 slate.

– Brothers In Arms: Hells Highway (PC, 360, PS3)

Looking massively improved over previous builds with the PC version obviously being the most impressive at this stage. Even with that in mind, the console versions boast some impressive graphical trickery such as self shadowing, advanced particle effects and more. Gameplay wise, the game appears to adhere quite closely to it’s predecessors with the famed/hated suppression mechanic making a return and in the process highlighting a stark strategical difference between this title and other WWII FPS romps. Build wise, the devs are currently fine tuning the Unreal Engine 3 that the title uses as frame rate problems currently persist on all versions when the screen gets busy and of course, there is the obligatory bug/glitch squashing too. Ubisoft and developer Gearbox are aiming to get this one out for the end of August, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one to see how it shapes up.

– Tom Clancy’s HawX (PC, 360, PS3)

Taking the famed Clancy lineage to the air, HawX appears to be in many ways Ubisoft’s stern answer to Namco Bandai’s Ace Combat series of games. Apparently sporting a more serious and realistic setting than it’s Japanese peer, the title is set in the same pseudo modern-day setting that most Clancy titles exist in. Gameplay wise, the title is not at all dissimilar from the Namco offering, with plenty of dog fighting, bombing and extraction missions, not to mention a comparable online mode also. Technically the game appears to have a fair amount of sheen, but frame rate problems abound the closer you fly through the detailed cityscapes that the game offers. But with plenty of development time left, I’m pretty hopeful they’ll sort it in good time. Tom Clancy’s HawX is due for a Christmas release.

– Prince Of Persia (PC, 360, PS3, Wii, NDS)

Still without a solid, official title, Ubisoft showed off the newest Prince Of Persia title from the developers of the original Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time. Abandoning the infamous time mechanic of previous titles and using an enhanced version of the Assassin’s Creed engine, Prince Of Persia looks every bit the franchise reboot. Whilst only a little gameplay was shown, the graphical style is staggering, painting an effective love letter to hand-drawn art and a fluidity most games would kill for. Sporting dark, twisted Arabian environments and similarly warped creatures, Prince Of Persia could perhaps be Game Of The Year on style alone. But maybe I’m getting a little too excited here. Very little gameplay was shown as I said and I’m still *very* curious about the state of the combat system, especially considering how wrong Ubisoft got it with previous games and how right over dev’s got it with their titles (I’m thinking of God Of War here). Anyways Prince Of Persia is due for release this Holiday season. Colour me excited.

– Far Cry 2 (PC, 360, PS3)

With original dev’s Crytek now left the Ubi-nest to shack up with EA, valid concerns would always remain regarding the quality of future Far Cry titles, especially considering the less than stellar console *versions*. Well, besides showing a PC version that’s pretty far along and looking mighty impressive, Ubisoft also surprised eager show-goers with a reveal of both console versions running side-by-side. Visually, both versions appear to be quite the treat, with superb physics, accomplished shadowing and great incidental details such as individual splinters spraying from destroyed houses and bits of paper floating through the air depending on wind direction. Again like most titles at the show, the title still requires a fair bit of tinkering on the visual front, with frame rate and VSync issues rearing the ugly heads on both console formats. In terms of gameplay, the game appears to return to the relatively free-form exploration of the first title, with nearly 50KM squared of African wild lands to explore and also sports the same kind of run ‘n’ gun action that the original title pulled off so well. Far Cry 2 is currently due this Holiday season for the PC and early next year for the PS3 and 360. Let’s hope Ubisoft can deliver us the full experience and not some ‘Instincts’ watered down cop out – console owners can do and deserve better.

– Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Platforms Unannounced)

Ranking as perhaps the most worst kept secret in the industry, the Michael Ancel sequel to the awesome game that you missed when you were too busy playing Need For Speed Underground and GTA: Vice City, was finally announced to much critical rapture and excited whooping. The trailer, apparently in real-time showcased some massively advanced effects, such as improved real-time shadowing, real-time reflections on liquid volumes and advanced bump mapping. Basically all that jargon adds up to a game that potentially looks as good as a Pixar movie. This is no joke. It actually DOES look like a Pixar movie. Anyway, nothing was revealed about the gameplay, the trailer instead focusing on showing off the funky new graphics engine and showcasing the pig character from the original game. Some gameplay would be nice, but until then, the very announcement of this game is enough for most people at the moment. No platforms have been announced for the title, nor a release date confirmed, but I would say don’t expect to see it for another year at least.

– Tom Clancy’s End War (PC, 360, PS3)

The traditional RTS gets a voice activated overhaul with Tom Clancy’s End War being the first RTS to be entirely voice controlled. Shipping with a microphone, the title allows players to give precise orders to individual units and organise their armies effectively. While the microphone itself wasn’t shown off too much, it appears to be sensitive enough to recognise commands easily enough; as always the real test will come from people’s differing accents and vocal tempos. Gameplay wise, the title appears to offer a varied selection of units and vehicles from Clancy lore, such as the aircraft used in HawX and the Recon units used in the Ghost Recon titles. Graphically, the game is modestly impressive with a battlefield that can be zoomed right into and soldiers that run, duck and shoot from cover giving them a dynamic to their nature not seen from soldiers in other RTS games. Multiplayer should be a hoot also with people barking orders to their armies and each other over XBox Live and the PSN.

Speaking of which, Ubisoft announced a private beta for the game which XBox Live users can sign up to.

Link below people 🙂

https://www.endwarbeta.com/signup/default.html

Written by bitsnark

May 30, 2008 at 6:57 pm

It’s coming home… Street Fighter IV confirmed for 360, PS3 and PC

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In a move that suprised no-one but surely has pleased *everyone* who ever played and enjoyed a fighting game in their lifetime, Capcom today issued a press release stating that the latest in it’s legendary fighting series is indeed coming home to the PC, XBOX360 and PS3.

THIS YEAR.

Ummm, I can’t wait? 🙂

Once the hysteria has subsided click on the linky below:

http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/876/876865p1.html

Written by bitsnark

May 27, 2008 at 9:57 pm

Celebrate! A new Oddworld title has been announced…

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Jeff Braun, Maxis(Sim City, Sims)Co-Founder recently went on record in a discussion at an American university to say that he is collobrating with Oddworld Inhabitants on a future Oddworld title for platforms yet to be determined.

Reflecting the extremely early stage of development that the title must be in, Braun said that the graphics that the game has will be as good as a ‘CG movie’, and that the tools that they are using are bringing the home visual gaming experience closer to the likes of Shrek, Madagascar et al.

When pressed on a release date, he said ‘not for years’, which in all honesty could mean that it’ll be a launch title for the next round of systems.

So don’t hold your breath for it anytime soon 🙂

Link below:

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3167927

Written by bitsnark

May 23, 2008 at 7:30 pm

2K Games 2007 hit Bioshock finally hits the PS3

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With the critical panning that Haze has received recently and the true lack of a decent FPS on the console, PS3 owners must be getting understandably anxious about when they might get a good fix of FPS action. Well, don’t look to Killzone 2 kids, because here’s some great news -2K games are releasing last years underwater dystopian opus on the PS3.

Yep, the game that Sony and MS fanboys alike said ‘It would, it wouldn’t, it would, it wouldn’t’ is finally on it’s way to the PS3 and 1UP.com/EGM Monthly have the scoop, take a look:

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3167898

Written by bitsnark

May 22, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Infinite Undiscovery is coming sooner than you think… US & Japan release date announced

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It’s rare day indeed when a Japanese RPG launches on two shores at the same time, but that is exactly what will happen on September 2nd 2008. While there’s been no confirmation of a European date, one surely won’t be too far behind. Developed by Tri-Ace, the talented outfit behind the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile RPG titles, Infinite Undiscovery is an RPG that is (currently) an XBOX 360 exclusive and promises a myriad of endings and diffrent missions through the story that depend entirely on your actions.

From what has been shown so far, which to be honest isn’t a great deal, Infinite Undiscovery appears to be true to the pedigree of it’s developer, presenting a colourful world, with intense battles and a decent amount of exploration and of course, whiny kids with super powers who want to takeover/save the world.

If all this means nothing to you or you’re just bored and want something to do, take a look at the new trailer that was released earlier today:

http://www.gametrailers.com/player/34278.html

Written by bitsnark

May 21, 2008 at 10:16 pm

Steamboy: Director’s Cut Review

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Steamboy: Directors Cut

Genre: Sci-fi Dystopia Disaster
Director: Katushiro Otomo
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Duration: One movie – 126 minutes approx.
Production Creation: 2004

Plot Synopsis

In Victorian Britain, a young Manchester boy by the name of Ray Steam is hard at work on his latest invention. Like his father, and grandfather before him, Ray is a tinkerer and creator of steam powered appliances. However, when his forefathers discover how to tap the near limitless potential of Steam in Alaska, Ray’s world begins to fall apart as a group known as The Foundation raids his house trying to discover the ‘Steamball’, a solid ball of iron and compressed steam that contains the secrets of his father and grandfather’s research.

It is up to young Ray Steam to protect the secrets of this astonishing power, lest London, the primary target of a new high-tech steam powered army led by The Foundation, falls into utter ruin.

The Review

Being some ten years in the making, Steamboy signals Katushiro Otomo’s proper return to the anime stage, being his first feature-length film since the groundbreaking Akira. Although not as adult or as head scratchingly complex in either characterisation or plotlines as Akira, Steamboy stands on its own two feet as a worthy sci-fi action piece, though it isn’t not perfect.

Steamboy is your quintessential sci-fi action adventure movie. While the Victorian setting provides a novel retro-fi styled backdrop to the action, the film largely follows standard conventions of the sci-fi action genre with a nothing-happening boy becoming a legendary hero by the end of it. Not that this is a bad thing when executed right, as Steamboy manages to do, but the film itself seems a tad long, running at just over two hours, and as such feels strained in places, especially considering how straightforward the plot and characters are.

Still long as the film may be, your attention often finds itself distracted by the staggering visuals that are on offer here. Although there is some computer aided animation in here, the great stuff comes from the meticulous hand drawn cels that make up the majority of the movie. Carrying with it the same meticulous level of detail and care that Akira did all those years ago (and Akira still looks good), every frame is literally dripping detail off the screen with a lushness not usually seen outside Akira and high-budget Studio Ghibli productions such as Princess Mononoke.

Although amazing to look at, the integration of the cel animations with those of the computer aided ones lack the near seamless standard of say Metropolis, and as a result aren’t always so smooth. But it’s truly a minor visual blemish on what is otherwise an astounding looking movie.

Moving on to the audio side of things, Steamboy succeeds well here as well, with an epic rousing score which is only slightly tempered by an initially awkward English dub. The awkwardness can be attributed to Anna Paquin’s (X-Men) initially uncomfortable turn as Ray Steam. The oddity of casting a 22 year old New Zealand woman to provide the voice of a 13 year old Manchester boy, is one that hasn’t escaped the actress either as she comments on how challenging the role was for her in an interview on the DVD. Still to her credit, she settles into the role nicely about twenty minutes in, and any awkwardness (particularly with the accent) is soon forgotten about.

Patrick Stewart (X-Men) and Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) also lend their voices to grandfather and father Steam respectively, and pull off their roles with appropriate gusto and due aplomb. Alfred Molina, in particular having no problems lending the eccentric scientist qualities to his voice in Steamboy that he so perfected in Spider-Man 2.

Steamboy will however, unfortunately disappoint those who look at the ‘Created by Katushiro Otomo’ tag thinking this to be some gritty and cult successor, to Otomo’s 1988 opus. It is not. What it is however is an elaborate sci-fi animated feature that although straightforward and perhaps a little long, never fails to appease the senses with it’s well animated and choreographed chase, battle and war scenes.

That’s not to say this is a dumb movie, far from it, but it isn’t Akira and because of that, if you’re mind is still hankering for more of what Otomo showed you back in 1988, then your mileage may vary with Steamboy. For the rest of you, and I’m certainly speaking for myself here, Steamboy represents the kind of fresh no-nonsense animated action epic, that Disney itself would love to create. As such, Steamboy comes highly recommended.

Ratings Summary

Animation: A+
Art: A+
Music: A-
Content: C+

Overall: B-

Review by: John-Paul Jones

Suitability for children

In Steamboy there is basically zero profanity, what there is however is a fair bit of violence with war machines, big explosions and so on. There is even a gory close up at one point of a man lying dead with a pool of blood expanding from his face. A nasty moment for sure but it’s the only thing that wouldn’t be suitable for anyone aged under 12 years old.

If you liked this why not try…

Metropolis – Columbia Tri-Star Entertainment

Written by bitsnark

May 21, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Lead roles announced for Bruckheimer’s Prince Of Persia adapation

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Produced by Disney to be the Next Big Thing in much the same vein that the Pirates Of The Carribean films were, news has leaked out from Camp Bruckeheimer regarding the casting of the lead roles.

The title character, Prince Dastan, is to be played by none other than Jake ‘Jarhead/Donnie Darko’ Gyllenhaal, while Gemma Arterton (to be seen in the forth coming Bond movie Quantum Of Solace) has been cast as Tamina, an exotic Princess. It would seem that Hollywood’s historic penchant for casting A-listers in roles that don’t match their ethnicity continues unabated, but hopefully with the star power and studio that is behind this thing, we’ll get an entertaining film and not yet another vidgame-film trainwreck.

Fingers crossed.

Prince Of Persia starts filiming this July and is shooting for a late 2009 release.

Written by bitsnark

May 21, 2008 at 11:50 am

Frank O’ Connor leaves Bungie to oversee future Halo related projects at MS

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According to TeamXbox, Frank O’ Connor, one of the main driving forces behind the Halo IP at Bungie, has left the company to remain with Microsoft while they develop future installments of the Halo franchise.

He also mentions that Bungie have an incredible game of their own coming up that he terms as the ‘Next Big Thing’. Bold words indeed.

It’ll be interesting to see what fruits of both labors provide at E3…

Linkety link below:

http://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/16550/Frank-OConnor-Leaves-Bungie/

Written by bitsnark

May 19, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Gore Verbinski to direct live-action Bioshock for Universal Pictures

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Announced recently, Universal Pictures have gone on record to say that Gore Verbinski (Pirates Of The Carribean trilogy, The Ring US Remake) is onboard to direct a hollywood adaptation of one of last years best games, Bioshock.

Set in an underwater 1950’s Utopia, where genetic research and technology run rampant without any moral guidance, the game places you in the shoes of an airplane crash victim who mysteriously finds his way to the underground city, Rapture, and must brave the horrors within to discover things about him that he never thought possible.

I have to say i’m quite behind this. Verbinski has proven he can give us the scares and the creeping fear with his remake of The Ring, so I am quite certain he will nail the atmosphere at the very least.

Colour me interested.

Written by bitsnark

May 15, 2008 at 10:10 pm

First Banjo 3 and Viva Pinata 2 shots hit the web

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Just a couple of days before Microsoft’s Gamer Day (coverage forthcoming), the first shots of Banjo 3 ans Viva Pinata 2 have found their way onto the net’. While Viva Pinata 2 looks every bit the sequel to the orginal, with a very similar graphical style and interface, Banjo 3 is much harder to call.

From some shots the title appears to have racing sections, with Banjo and Kazooie driving various wheeled contraptions and in others, the feathery and furry duo are seen running about a landscape and sliding down ziplines. Whilst Rare has recently gone on record to deny that it’s a racing game, many rumors abound that the title could be one that uses Microsfot’s much rumoured motion sensing controller.

This would at least, pay certain credence to Rare’s claim that the gameplay in Banjo 3 is ‘completely different and not what people were expecting’ when compared to previous titles.

Personally, why can’t MS just give everyone a proper platforming sequel to the Banjo Kazooie games that were on N64, is it really that hard?

Anyways, I digress. Links for both sets of screenshots from TeamXbox.com are below:

http://screenshots.teamxbox.com/gallery/1575/BanjoKazooie-3/p1/

http://screenshots.teamxbox.com/gallery/2011/Viva-Piata-2-Trouble-in-Paradise/p1/

Written by bitsnark

May 13, 2008 at 8:09 am

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