Game Reviewers Are Lazy
Hmmm well I just posted a review last night so let’s see….
Joseph Olin, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Science made the statement recently. “My pet peeve is that game reviewers are lazy,” he said. “How can you review a game, how can you give a comment about a game like Grand Theft Auto IV, that has 40-plus hours or more of gameplay, if you’ve only spent 2 1/2 to 3 hours playing it?”
While I would tend to agree with him, the issue goes deeper. A lot of reviewers are pressured by editors from magazines and websites and sometimes (when the system is really rotten) by publishers to produce reviews in a timely manner in order to meet a printing deadline or be the first on the web with the story. I had a friend who used to work for a magazine in France and was asked to write a 2 page review overnight for an RPG…. obviously the result cannot be accurate but it’s not necessarily the reviewer’s fault.
Divnity 2 – Ego Draconis to Be Revealed at Games Convention 2008
Press members have received an invitation from Larian Studios to be part of the game’s presentation this August at Leipzig. The company also posted several job offers requiring a strong knowledge of RPG and an official site is now up although it is completely black.
Feeling excited yet?
These days it seems that adventure games pop up all over the place, the same way that FPSs did a few years ago. With Sam & Max, Dracula 3, Dracula: Origin, Perry Rhodan, Experience 112 and the upcoming Simon the Sorcerer 4 and A Vampire Story among others, it is quite the understatement to say that such games abound. So how is one lone damsel suppose to stand out?
So Blonde is the first game developed by the French studio Wizarbox and the script is written by Steve Ince of Les Chevaliers de Baphomet fame (known in the U.S. as Broken Sword). It is a very nice adventure game reminiscent of the golden days of Lucas Arts games. In fact So Blonde makes many mentions of Monkey Island which it emulates and parodies to quasi perfection.
All the backgrounds are beautifully drawn and it’s a pleasure to walk through these settings ranging from the paradise beach and town to the gorgeous jungle and eerie swamps. The characters themselves are a bit different, when coming up close they can look a bit rough but at a slight distance they look perfectly fine and they all have very distinct personalities and looks so that you always know who is who.
The cutscenes are also drawn and show up in a sort of comic book fashion so they look very nice as well.
Throughout the game there are a few musics playing but mostly you will here the main theme which is playing 90% of the game. Thankfully this tune is very enjoyable and even though you will be hearing it a lot it never gets annoying.
The voices on the other hand are all top-notch work. Everyone delivers great work and all the characters have depth and their voices fit them to perfection. The fact that the dialogues are also very good doesn’t hurt either. There is a plethora of pop-culture references running the gamut Lost, X-Men and Monkey Island (several times) to older cartoons and mythology. Either way you are certain to laugh often.
It is worth mentioning that I played the French version of the game (no U.S. release announced yet but the game is out in Australia and is coming to the U.K in September) so I cannot vouch for the quality of any English dialogue, or for that matter some jokes that may be familiar to the French but not to other cultures.
The Gameplay is very basic in the game. It is pure point & click, when you mouse over an item you can either view it or interact with it. You move the character by clicking on the screen as well so it should all feel very familiar to anyone who’s played a classic adventure game.
On each screen you can press the space bar which will show you everything you can observe. While this can make the game a tad easy, it is a nice feature to have when you have played for a while and your brain is starting to slow down a bit. Most riddles aren’t hard to figure out, there are just a few times when you’re not given a hint as to where to go (usually the inn is a good place to start) and there is just two puzzles that i recall where I was thinking “ummmm….OK…….” so overall it’s a well balanced game.
One very nice feature is the ability to skip dialogues by clicking and to double click on an exit to go instantly to the next screen (via a short loading screen which all look lovely). This is really a Godsend because once I was very much into the game and played for a while when the game crashed after an Alt-Tab. I hadn’t saved in 3 hours!! but thanks to this i was able to redo everything in less than an hour which was great.
The game also features several minigames at various times which range from moving the mouse very fast or using the arrow keys to a bunch of old school games which are VERY much like Game & Watch games, which is a blast…from the past.
Story (No Spoilers)
The story starts as Sunny (the heroin) is enjoying a nice cruise on the ocean but falls overboard and ends up on a paradise island. As soon as she wakes up she only has one thing in mind: finding a hotel and getting reception for her cellphone (OK that’s two). From then on she meets the local mayor, pirates, innkeeper which lead her on many adventures and so on and so forth.
The plot, while not amazing in its depth is still very enjoyable, mostly thanks to the great voice work but also due to the fact that their are several subplots that occur as well and everything feels very tied together because the island and its people feel real. The game is about 15 hours long (I clocked in 13+ hours but i used a FAQ a few times). There are multiple endings with, I believe, three different choices.
Overall So Blonde is a very good and enjoyable game that will remind old timers of the great Lucas Art games of the 90s like Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island and Full Throttle. For the young’uns it is a great opportunity to get a feel of what great adventure games are.
The only ‘?’ that remains is to see how the English voices were handled. If right, then I say go for it and have good time. This is one blonde who’s “not so blonde after all”.
Peter Molyneux has always been one for juicy statements and today he struck again. In an interview with GameTrailers from last week he announced that he had plans for Fable III, IV and V and that it was all part of a big arc as would be evident once we play Fable II in October.
He also said he was contemplating doing a sports or driving game simply because these genres seem ‘locked in stone’ and he likes the challenging aspect of making something different.
One can only hope.
Now where is Syndicate?!
Activision, Brutal Legend Survives
Following yesterday’s eventful announcement Tim Schafer announced in a very straight to the point manner that “Brutal Legend is fine.”. Roger and out.
Delays, Delays and Delays!
- Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.K. from 2008 to Early 2009
- Battlefield Heroes from Summer 2008 to 2008
- Tiberium from End 2008 to fiscal year 2010 (April 2009-March 2010)…Ouch!
- Brothers in Arms Hell’s Highway from from August 2008 to September 2008, because apparently they want to coincide the release of the game with the anniversary of Operation Green Market (which the game depicts). If you have no clue what I’m talking about do yourself a favor and go rent Band of Brothers…NOW!
Star Trek Online Revealed!
Originally owned by Perpetual Entertainment, which closed its door in January, the MMO based on the world-famous TV show seemed to be facing tough times. Thankfully the license was acquired by Cryptic Studios (City of Heroes/Villains) and along with the confirmation came a bunch of lovely screenshots.
Vivendi Properties Shake-Up. Who Lives and Who Dies?
After Vivendi Games merged with Activision earlier this year and subsequently formed Activision Blizzard, there had to be some changes happening. Well these past days have been a roller coaster ride of announcements.
It was revealed that Activision would be publishing Vivendi’s best selling properties: Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Ice Age, along with the upcoming Prototype and another unknown project.
While there are other publishing arms that weren’t mention in the press conference to take care of the other franchises, it leaves several big games on the potential cutting board. Chief among these are Ghostbusters, Brutal Legend and Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
Today a Sierra representative announced that, while he couldn’t speak for other franchises, Ghostbusters is not canceled.
We can be sure to have more announcements in the coming days n the subject while Vivendi and Activision review their properties but I for one hope they do bring us Chronicles of Riddick because I’m very excited about it.
XBLA Dates, Dates and Dates
- Geometry Wars 2: Retro Evolved out on July 30
- Braid (which has me very excited) on August 6
- Bionic Commando Rearmed on August 13
- Galaga Legions on August 20
- Castle Crashers on August 27
Wizard 101, MMO for Beginners
KingIsle, Texas-based developer, is currently working on an MMO aimed at a broad audience. The game lets you play a Wizard in training on his way to the Ravenwood school (of Witchcraft and Wizardry). you will be able to choose a pet to accompany on your quests, learn different schools of magic through various teachers. The fighting system seems to be card-based which can be found on the ground around the world and quests will involve puzzles and mini-games.
DC Comics Acquires Rights for Resident Evil and Devil May Cry Comics
The two major Capcom franchises will join previous acquisitions of Gears of War, Prototype and just recently Mirror’s Edge and will be published under the Wildstorm banner of DC Comics.
Telltale Games Loves Wallace & Gromit
The studio that successfully relaunched the Sam & Max franchise through episodic treatment is planning to do the same with the famous English characters. The game will be called Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures and will be a classic point ‘n’ click adventure.
RetroBeats Session 9 Out!
This is a show I do on a weekly basis for Retroware TV about video game music.
Be sure to check it out every Monday.
Marvel Vs Capcom 3 Soon ?
IGN got the story at Comic-Con that Kevin Feige from Marvel Studios confirmed the game, adding that it may come “sooner than you night think”.
Dates, Dates and More Dates
- Wii Music announced for October 16 in Japan and a fairly vague 2008 for the U.S..
- Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning‘s main site shows a release date of September 23, 2008
- Unreal Engine 4 not before 2012. No rush.
No Rumble for Soul Calibur IV
It would seem that the Namco Bandai game has no support whatsoever for vibrations in the game. There is not even an option in the game for it. This “issue” affects both 360 and PS3 so no jealousy on this one.
Let’s hope they rectify the error with a patch of some sort since release date for the U.S. is July 29 (yes that’s tomorrow).
Starcraft II, 2 New Planets Revealed
Blizzard released today a few screenshots and artworks for two new planets: Char and Mar Sara.
The two planets have very different looks, the former looking like an apocalyptic magma planet while the latter looks more like half desert half rocky planet.
Namco Tries to Reassure About Hellgate: London
In the past weeks Flagship Studios has had its share of issues. Even though several employees have been laid off, the studio hasn’t called it quits just yet. While the beta servers for Mythos have been closed,and Hellgate: London is not accepting new subscriptions (all current subscribers play for free), Namco Bandai tried to be reassuring saying that servers were up and that if anything were to happen players would be warned in advance.
Warning which seems to be imminent.
Crytek Buys Black Sea Studios
The German studio announced today that it acquired Black Sea Studios officially becoming Crytek Black Sea. The terms were not disclosed but the Bulgarian studio based in Sofia is currently working on the promising Worldshift and we’ll keep doing so as planned.
DC to Do Mirror’s Edge Comic
Electronic Arts signed today with DC Comics in order to produce a six-issue comic that will focus on Faith, the protagonist of the eagerly awaited game. The project will feature Rhianna Pratchett (Heavenly Sword, Overlord) as the writer and Matthew Dow Smith (Supernatural: Origins) as the artist.
The first issue is to be revealed at Comic-Con.
Sam Fisher the Slug
Ubisoft announced today that Splinter Cell: Conviction, the oft-delayed game, was….well, delayed again. It is now set o come out during fiscal year 2009-2010 which runs from April to March.
Guitar Gods for Guitar Hero III
Activision announced yesterday that it would release pack including 3 tracks on July 24. This pack is rightly named since the artists featured in it are Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Buckethead with the songs being “For the Love of God”, “Surfing With the Alien” and “Soothsayer” respectively.
NY Governor Signs a Bill Into Law for Game Ratings
The bill that David Paterson signed states that by 2010 consoles should have a parental lock system installed (currently the only one that does not is the DS) and that games sold at retail (mail orders are exempt) should display an ESRB rating on the packaging……which is already the case.
Our tax dollars are hard at work.
Media and Business Summit Will Not Back Down!
Despite the fact that a lot of developers, media and publishers (basically everyone) feel the current form of E3 is lacking, not to mention the public who is unable to attend, the Entertainment Software Association said they were going to carry on with the current version.
With Leipzig gaining ground each year and developers leaving E3 to form their own events, one has to wonder about the decision and its relevance.
Xbox Live Community Games Coming This Fall
Games developed with the XNA toolset, the games created by the community will first have to be reviewed before going on the Marketplace, players will also be able to download demos of each game before purchasing them. the games will range between 200 and 800 points ($2.50 to $10).
Microsoft will take 30% of each sale leaving the programmer with up to 70%.
Portal: Still Alive….But Going Nowhere
During the Microsoft press conference a “new” Portal game was announced which excited fans quite a bit. By now I assume these fans are pretty bummed. It has been revealed that Still Alive will feature the levels in Orange Box as well as the ones in the PC Flash Version MapPack.
Quite underwhelming you have to admit.
Hinterlands Gets Pictures and Details
The new project from Tilted Mill is a mix between RPG and RTS where you will have to create a village and explore the land, finding riches and facing foes.
The game is set to come out by the end of summer.
The Mouse Set to Disappear
In a BBC interview the vice president of Gartner, Steven Prentice said the point ‘n’ click object would be replaced within 3 to 5 years by new technology such as touch screen or the Wiimote.
It has been said before and the mentionned technology still lack greatly in accuracy to satisfy a lot o gamers and replace entirely or beloved mouse.
Sonic and the Black Knight Announced
Sonic Team is currently working on another Wii project involving the Hedgehog. In it Sonic will wield a sword, controlled by the Wiimote… What have they done to our dear SEGA mascot?
Ubisoft Is Going Rogue!
In the last update for Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, Ubisoft patched the game so that it would check for the DVD before launching. Since the game is also available through download this created a problem and hackers quickly put out a No-DVD crack while Ubisoft had not released any solution.
Later Ubisoft hosted in the support part of their site a file that would allow users who had downloaded the game to play. But when some looked more closely into the code of the patch they realized that it was identical to the former crack released by Reloaded. Ubisoft quickly took the file off of their site and stated that they do not support any form of piracy.
Guitar Hero and Rock Band Share the Love
Brian Bright, Neversoft director, announced that Rock Band instruments would be compatible with Guitar Hero: World Tour and, as far as he knows, vice-versa. While this is overall good news it isn’t confirmed that the same will be for Rock Band 2 and so far it’s only for the 360, we’ll have to wait and see what Sony announces.
EA and Take Two, New Offer Deadline
Electronic Arts extended last Friday its offer to buy Take Two until August 18th.