Fret Ye Not PS4 And PC Owners, Rise Of The Tomb Raider Will Appear In 2016


Square Enix today announced its latest title in the critically acclaimed and award-winning Tomb Raider series, Rise of the Tomb Raider, will be available for Windows 10 and Steam in Early 2016. The game will be a console exclusive to Xbox One and Xbox 360 for one year after its initial launch, coming to PlayStation 4 in Holiday 2016. Renowned developer Crystal Dynamics is leading development in the latest entry in the iconic series for additional platforms.

In the critically acclaimed Tomb Raider, Lara Croft survived a harrowing experience only to be discredited as part of a cover up. Now, after uncovering an ancient mystery, Lara must explore the most treacherous and remote regions of Siberia to find the secret of immortality before a ruthless organization known as Trinity. Lara must use her wits and survival skills, form new alliances, and ultimately embrace her destiny as the Tomb Raider.

Experience high-octane action moments, conquer beautifully hostile environments, engage in brutal guerrilla combat, and explore awe-inspiring deadly tombs in the evolution of survival action. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara becomes more than a survivor as she embarks on her first great Tomb Raiding expedition.

Rise of the Tomb Raider will premiere first, exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 on 10 November 2015.

Bethesda Bringing All Fallout Games In The Series Inside One Nuke Bomb


Bethesda were pleased to announce Fallout Anthology, the definitive PC collection from the award-winning Fallout series, will be releasing on 2 October 2015 for AU$99.95. Fallout Anthology will be featuring five critically acclaimed games and official add-ons in a premium collectible set, with a space reserved to add your copy of Fallout 4. This ultimate collectible is packaged together in an exclusive mini-nuke storage case with audible bomb sound.

Fallout-Anthology_Compilation

This Fallout collection will include:

  • Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition (The Pitt, Operation: Anchorage, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, Mothership Zeta)
  • Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition (Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, Lonesome Road, Gun Runners’ Arsenal, Courier’s Stash)
  • Fallout Tactics
  • Fallout 2
  • Fallout

A Witcher Retrospective: It Started with Some Confusing Amnesia


The Witcher is a story, we’re all just lucky to be in it as it unfurls.

I remember I first installed The Witcher years ago because my old PC had crashed and burned due to my graphics card not handling the amazingness that was Skyrim. A good friend kindly donated an old gaming PC he no longer needed, and while it was capable of playing Skyrim, it had no wireless card and my Ethernet cable would have had to go through corridors, tables, people and walls to connect to our modem. I decided to wait a while and play the Witcher (which I had found in a sale bin) just to pass the time and do something different.

I have told you before that I am a narrative obsessed player. This was everything a narrative obsessed player could ever want.

The Witcher starts the game with a barely conscious and amnesiac Geralt of Rivia. As the player, you’re as confused about everything as he is. Where are you? Why are all these people talking to you as if you know everything? Why would anyone want to live in Kaer Mohren? Holy shit, what the hell is that monster? Where is my shirt? Why is that lady barely wearing any clothes?

It was a great introduction to a game that I utterly got absorbed in. The fighting mechanics were actually quite fun for me and as someone who LOVES using the pause button to stop and strategise, I rarely had time to think hard about decisions but was still given the flexibility to recoup and re-arm (or re-potion). The camera angling was actually fantastic, you have the option of top-down views or over the shoulder and mouse controls reconfigured depending on what you preferred. I used primarily a top-down angle which I think ultimately also affected my view of the story.

Camera angles are important, this top-down view let me see the world more broadly than just over the shoulder, which would have benefited me the views of seeing faces and having more intimate one on one interactions with people. The broader bird’s eye view let me see the towns in all their drudgery and glory, allowing me to see into every corner and know every person hidden within the shadows and without.

Geralt is really, really chatty. For a tall dark and brooding type, he actually, isn’t. This was utterly hilarious to be honest. Geralt’s voice actor has such a smooth and smoky mysterious voice that hearing it every ten seconds and hearing some of the silliest things said with it made me feel like maybe I didn’t get Geralt’s personality, or that maybe that amnesia gave him a personality transplant.

geralt_of_rivia

For one thing, he is the world’s worst flirt.

Ok, he has the sexy voice, but holy cow are his pick-up lines the pits. Maybe the women of Temeria are desperate for a decent roll in the hay (seeing as most of the other male characters hanging about seem to be lacking in the initiative, manners, hygiene, looks and general competency department). Maybe they’ve all got poor hearing and poor taste because seeing Geralt get it on with women with the ever so lame ‘Hmmmmmm, I bet you’re a naughty girl’ (in the flattest deadpan tone) made me feel like whoever wrote these particular scenes has never ever tried even speaking to a woman.

Ah wait, here we go, the age old ‘video games are male sexual fantasies and not grounded in reality’ trope.

Considering how well written the game is overall, the whole collecting women like baseball cards was bizarre and confusing. If I were a bit more sensitive and had little less common sense about the video games industry; I’d have found it offensive.

Instead, I thought it was kinda sad and really pathetic. Here is Geralt, who is genuinely attractive, a great talker, good listener, good person all round and he just dips his wick where he finds it. I mean he doesn’t even have good taste, seriously, the banker wearing a wimple?! Seriously Geralt, how bad was that knock to your head?

I can understand the sizzling sexual tension between Triss and himself, after all, its based on history and her strangely low cut dress. And, if you end up choosing to shack up with Shani instead, you have a lovely relationship built upon respect, mutual admiration and dealing with PTSD that is usually attractive to those who like the hurt/comfort style of relationship narratives.

Geralt is genuinely nice. So the whole convincing a dryad to sleep with him on the grounds that copulation helps fertilise the soil (she outright rejects you if you say something as dumb as that) is just brain boggling and so out of place for a character who is a badass lone wolf mutant sex-god.

Of course its also offensive but I find the insult lands on both the women as well as Geralt as a character and it dismisses his personal integrity, especially since his heart genuinely belongs to Yennefer.

But the game still triumphs. The side quests are great to do and the skill tree progression is essential to your success. Every aspect to gaining knowledge, levelling up and equipping the right equipment make for a fantastic mix of strategy and action in combat scenes. The game makes you think two steps ahead and I utterly love that.

The difficulty doesn’t just lie in how fast you can click that mouse button, it lies in how well you can anticipate problems. How many times have I had to restart a fight because I either didn’t take the right potion or worse, the right combination of potions. How many oils can you put on your blade and which ones are efficient against wraiths. Can you survive on Cat and Swallow alone? Will the Falka’s blood upgrade be effective? What if I added a rune?

This was a real world, and it also had real problems. From the massive amounts of politics you eventually got involved in, like having to convince Foltest to relax prohibitions against non-humans, or choosing to support either Scoia’tael’s cause or the Order of the Flaming Rose (when you think about it, the word ‘Flaming’ was a dead giveaway for ‘repressed’).

And your decisions weren’t easy. I hated Yaevinn, he was smarmy, obtuse and generally unsympathetic even when Geralt agreed with him. On the other hand, Siegfried, a knight of the Flaming Order is so charismatic and friendly that I was amazed that he associated with such narrow minded, fanatical racist weirdos in dresses.

This is the beauty of the Witcher story. It has a narrative that you can read to your somewhat traumatised children that will actually leave them hanging on the edge of their seats. There is intrigue, will-they-wont-they romance and politics and twists everywhere. I remember a quest where I was tasked to find a den of prostitutes run by vampires, or demonesses, or something dangerous and sexy. It turned out one of the prostitutes had allowed herself to be turned and was actually enjoying her work because it provided more independence and freedom that the overbearing rule of her conservative, stuffy and all round tyrannical father. You make a decision; sleep with the ladies offering their goods, fight the ladies offering their goods, do both if you like, then rescue the unwilling daughter, kill the unwilling daughter, kill the unwilling daughter since you killed her co-workers anyway, or leave her alone.

While some of these micro decisions may not always affect the overall outcome of the story in a big way, it certainly did for my Geralt, especially as he began remembering things. Geralt struggles with the ideas that anything not human is considered aberrant, especially because he would be lumped in with that group. And yet, here he is ridding such aberrations from the world for the safety of petty humans who are nothing but narrow minded and racist.

One shocking scene is hearing little children gleefully cry out to kill the ‘squirrels’ (a withering nickname for the Scoia’tael, and more indirectly, a racist insult towards non-humans). That’s actually kinda freaky and it should elicit a feeling of shock and sadness.

The Witcher was a wonderful story, it was a good taste of a huge story where our decisions actually had massive consequences to the way we viewed the world.

And who knew! Them Flaming Rose Bastards are real Bastards!

I was actually surprised by the immense plot twist involving religious fanatics, a Scoia’tael incursion in a flaming battle-ridden city and the Wild Hunt. Yep, out of nowhere, the Wild Hunt, who we all know is the final (sort of) boss. I found it so easy to make quick work of him and all the end bosses but I think that was because the game mechanics were so ingrained in my brain at that point that I came into battle fully and utterly prepared for any kind of attack.

And with that, we shall leave off with a semi-colon to this retrospective as I next explore the LUSCIOUSNESS that is The Witcher 2 in my next instalment.

Until then, don’t let the Strigas bite!

Striga

OXCGN’s RONIN Review – Kill Bill in a Motorcycle Helmet


Ronin is a 2D turn based game in which you take the persona of a motorcycle helmet wearing samurai set on a course to kill five targets who you’ve got bad blood with. With the ability to play each level either stealthily or gung-ho, Ronin is a challenging yet very fun game!

Screenshot 2015-07-03 22.00.25

Gameplay

Out of combat with enemies, the game isn’t turn based, with the player being able to move freely around the level and also is given the ability to stealth kill bodyguards – as long as you’re unnoticed. That being said, when you are in combat that is where the magic occurs. As it is turn based combat every movement or strategy you execute can change within a turn, moving to different locations or killing/stunning different enemies.

Ronin _ g
The key to winning the battles you face is the jump arc. With the player given the ability to jump to an enemy and knock them down, thereby stunning them, this gives a new aspect to the game when dealing with multiple enemies. One feature that was really enjoyable about this aspect was how the environment around you interacts with your actions as well as the enemies. A good example of this is jumping at an enemy and they fly through a glass window and out to their death. By using little tricks like this as well as using one enemy to stun multiple enemies, it makes the game a little more ingenious, requiring thought for the best course of action every turn cycle.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 22.01.54

Another enjoyable aspect of the game is the skill points earned. With successful completion of all the objectives in a mission – civilians are alive, enemies are all dead and data is obtained/an enemy is killed, you obtain a skill point which are used for skills such as stunning multiple enemies or teleport attacks within game. These skills allow for more elaborate game play with your techniques in-game becoming more stealthy and complex.

Cons

At times whilst playing the game, it was a struggle to get the jump arc to correctly be followed, with the character not following the projected arc at times. Also the main point of the game is to not get hit, so if you get hit by one bullet, well then it’s game over.

TL;DR

Overall the game was highly enjoyable for what it is. I thoroughly enjoyed the mechanics as well as the little ‘hints’ put in-game such as “the jump arc isn’t really a jump arc” which did make for a laugh whilst playing.

7/10

My Heart Is Unraveling Like Yarn Because I Want To Play More Of Unravel


In between the announcements of the yearly updates of EA Sports titles and big titles like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Star Wars Battlefront, came an announcement on the partnership of a small Swedish game studio, Coldwood and Electronic Arts on the development of a new puzzle platformer game titled, Unravel. I had my hopes high for Unravel since seeing the trailer for it and EA has ticked all the boxes for publishing a great game. It’s nice to see while EA is concentrating on big titles with new story lines with Mass Effect: Andromeda, in the meantime they would be publishing little budget games like Unravel.

Unravel introduces Yarny, a tiny, new character made from a single thread of yarn that slowly unravels as you move, who embarks on a seemingly larger than life journey through the breath-taking, lush environments of Northern Scandinavia. Using Yarny’s small thread and big heart, players will traverse nature’s obstacles in this unique physics-based puzzle platformer.

Before the hands on demo there was a presentation with Jakob Marklund, Chief Technology Officer at Coldwood, explaining the concept behind the game and game mechanic were explained after putting Yarny in different situations from environments in Northern Sweden, and snapping pictures, figuring out fun things you could do with that yarn.

The hands on demo starts off with Yarny trying to mend a broken bond, trying to help a lonely old woman reconnect with all that she has lost. The yarn unravels as you move, and if you run out of yarn you can’t go on. You will need to find yarn balls to replenish his body to progress in the game. Your goal is to try to make that yarn reach all the way through the game, from start to finish. This allows the player to retrace their steps just in case if you get stuck on how to move forward or fall in a hole. The yarn is quite literally the red thread that ties everything together and unravels more of the story the further away it gets from the things that it loves.

There are a few different gameplays available throughout the various puzzles. You have the ability to shoot your yarn like a grappling hook, or hold onto the string behind you to have the option of pulling yourself up or descending on it. You can also use the yarn to grab and drag objects, and tie off the yarn to fixed points for either the purpose of using it as a bridge or to use it as a trampoline to throw yourself to higher heights.

Unravel is a game all about overcoming obstacles, both big and small. Some challenges are simple, like using Yarny’s thread to swing across a gap, or rappel down a tree. Sometimes things get more complex, like making a bridge with some apples to walk on so Yarny doesn’t get wet and die, and players will need to use Yarny’s thread in clever and creative ways to find the path forward. If you die, there are yarn balls placed around the map that serves as checkpoints. Along the way, you will witness him unlock a heartfelt story about love and longing, and the ties that bind. The tale is told completely without words and clues about the game’s storyline like a baby in a photograph, a laughing boy with his father, and the father being dragged away by police are discovered in the background throughout the way immersing the player in the game rather than having cut scenes.

Having not played for that long, Unravel pulls you into the game with its realistic scenes (gardens, forests, streams, gravel roads), wistful music and the different emotions that Yarny expresses taking into account the lack of facial features Yarny has and makes you want to keep playing it to make sure that Yarny is safe. I cannot wait to get my hands on this when it comes out as I would love to find out what happens while I enjoy the different puzzles available in this beautiful world that they have created.

Embark with Yarny on a seemingly larger than life adventure to reconnect the long-lost memories of a family when Unravel releases in 2016 for digital download for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a physical release of this game with Yarny included in there as well, but only time can tell with the interest it picks up.

This Australian Fought for a Refund from EA for Simcity’s Broken Launch and Won


One Australian Reddit user, WhyDoISuckAtW2, has gone up against the two-time ‘Worst Company in America‘, Electronic Arts, and won.

After speaking to EA online several times for a refund, WhyDoISuckAtW2 was then put through to a representative from Origin who told him he had to call a United States number in regards to refunds.

Having to call in the early hours in the morning (due to the time difference) and was then left on hold for over 30 minutes, eventually he came to the conclusion that he was getting no where, which then lead him to complain to the ACCC, which followed through with his complaint and forced EA to refund the money paid for the game.

On the 28th of April, the ACCC released a statement declaring EA’s business practices were in breach of Australian Consumer Law (ACL), stating that their customers are not entitled to refunds under any circumstances..

It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that customers are not entitled to refunds under any circumstances. Where a product has a major failure, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their choice. Representations that this right has or can be excluded, restricted or modified are false or misleading,

– Rod Sims, ACCC Chairman

SimCity 5 was a broken piece of shit and EA made it extremely difficult to get a refund.

I filed a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) who eventually forced them to issue refunds.

– Reddit Poster WhyDoISuckAtW2

EA have since amended their terms and conditions to comply with Australian Consumer Law, as well as implement and maintain an Australian Consumer Law Compliance Program, with measures for risk assessment, complaints handling and staff training.

SimCity 5 at launch was almost unusable, mostly due to the fact that the game required an always-on internet connection, and EA’s servers would take a beating due to the influx of traffic.

Simcity refund

Credit: Reddit

GAMMA CON 2015 – The Indie Games


At the end of May, Canberra celebrated video games, cosplay and all things geeky at Gamma Con which a pop culture convention that is only in its second year. It’s a small event with plenty of board games to play, loot to spend all your cash on and panels with special guest such as Goose from Good Game and host of SBS Pop Asia, Andy Trieu. There were gaming tournaments, films, workshops and a great room that was filled with Canberra game developers showing off their latest creations. Here are my thoughts on some of the titles I got to have a quick play of.

Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth 

If you like the sound of The Legend of Zelda meets Banjo-Kazooie then Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth might be just for you. Warden has you play as Tavian, an imperial prince, who fights, figures out puzzles and navigates the world quite like the loveable Link. His appearance is cartoonish similar to Windwaker’s art style and the world he explores is full of bright, exciting colours such as the solid, green leaves shuffling in the trees and the calming blue water trickling down the river. I only got to play the pre-beta build but there is plenty to do such as fight a couple enemies, become introduced to the characters that expand the story and solve some puzzles. Overall it works quite well and I enjoyed myself the entire time whilst playing it. I’m looking forward to see how it’ll improve and change before the release.

Evergreen

Do you like trees? Ever get that nagging feeling that damn it would be great to just sit down, relax and grow your own unique tree in a matter of seconds? Well it’s time to get your green thumbs out in the tree building extravaganza called Evergreen

Within the game you can create pretty much any type of tree you desire with the choice of branches, flowers, leaves and even roots, but there is more to the game than meets the eye. You see you need to create strong branches and have long roots sucking up the nutrients your tree needs for sustenance, otherwise there is a chance you might see it just topple down. There also are goals along the side of your screen that once achieved unlocks more design choices for your plant. The game looks quite simple visually but your tree lives in a unique world that changes and evolves as your tree does – even to the point where animals will be coerced to sneak out of their hiding place and witness the beauty of your impressive creation.

Dragon’s Wake

Dragon’s Wake has you, the player, starting off as (you guessed it) a young, baby dragon who is ready to explore the world and evolves into a bigger, stronger dragon as you play. It works with a simple mechanic – jumping and gliding onto platforms with the click of a button – but you need to pinpoint the exact times when to jump, double jump or even triple jump in order to reach your intended destination. As you explore the 2-D retro caverns you’ll start to come across different types of life which are there for you to gobble up and either top up your health, give you new powers or get some upgrades. I’ve only played a little bit of this but it’s a delight. The art style is beautiful and the controls are fluid and accurate making me immersed in this little game in just a matter of minutes. Plus it has an incredible soundtrack changing whilst you explore new and interesting areas.

The Incredible Journey of You and I

The Incredible Journey of You and I was by far my favourite out of all the titles I played at GAMMA CON. It’s a two player experience that requires you and your partner working together to travel through a level whilst shooting at enemies but there’s a catch – only one person can either shoot or move your flying ship at one time and it all depends on the colour you are. You may either be blue or pink as well as the background behind you. If the area is blue and you’re character is blue as well,  you get to control the ship whilst your pinks partner shoots and vice versa. Colour also is important whilst defeating these black enemies that also may have a touch of blue or pink. Pink enemies can only be hit by pink bullets and blue enemies can only be hit by blue bullets. It sounds a little confusing but it all works incredibly well and its very much in early days – the spaceship we were flying wasn’t even visible. I can’t wait to see what the end result is because just playing this little demo got me extremely ecstatic and had me smiling the entire playthrough.

Incredible Journey of YOu and I

Bethesda Showed Too Much Doom And Lost Me Entirely With Its Outdated Shooter Mechanics


Bethesda finally unveiled what the new Doom would look like running on the id Tech 6 engine, and to be honest I feel that during their press conference they showed off just a little too much of their new shooter. The initial single player gameplay felt too scripted with the way that the gun moved giving off that it was floating in the air and didn’t feel grounded, the way that many Hollywood movies rely on CGI to create large scripted events not taking into account ‘gravity’.

The chainsaw segment was a nice nostalgic touch but with the limited animations and it being overused, it wore off quickly. Your game needs more then blood, guts and gore to convince me to fork out to buy it and enjoy it. There’s only so much action I can take and so many bodies I can mutilate before the gimmick grows tiresome. It’s what Doom 3 was criticised for the further you got in the game, repetitive combat and less than average AI.

What was shown excited the crowd but when they showed even more single player content this time in Hell I was bored, annoyed and not excited for it anymore.

I was shown too much in such a short time frame.

The above embedded tweet just goes to show how bland Hell looks in Doom at this moment in time of its development, I’m sure that closer to release and after countless fans voicing their opinions, more colour would be added but for the moment it looks more like Doom 3. Gears of War faced the exact same criticism for being too grey, Doom right now looks too brown.

Whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t help to sell me on this new Doom.

During the conference those in the background screaming and clamoring during the chainsaw gameplay weren’t all media and mainly those that waited in line for hours to get a last minute no show ticket. They’re excited for the game and I get that, it’s Doom, it’s gory and brutal but it’s a tired shooter in a generation where they’re evolving to a point where being a run and gun shooting game anymore doesn’t cut it.

From the press release, multiplayer in Doom is the main feature I’m looking forward to. Frantic fast-paced arena action with classic and new modes introduced into the fray. Coupled with SnapMap which is Doom’s new easy to use level builder, this is what will sell the game to me. Endless hours of creating the ultimate level, not needing any expertise in map building.

Editing levels on the fly putting other gamers experience to the test. More of this and less generic single player gameplay.

Return of id Multiplayer

Dominate your opponents in DOOM’s signature, fast-paced arena-style combat. In both classic and all-new game modes, annihilate your enemies utilizing your personal blend of skill, powerful weapons, vertical movement, and unique power-ups that allow you to play as a demon

Endless Possibilities

DOOM SnapMap – a powerful, but easy-to-use game and level editor – allows for limitless gameplay experiences on every platform.  Without any previous experience or special expertise, any player can quickly and easily snap together and visually customize maps, add pre-defined or completely custom gameplay, and even edit game logic to create new modes.  Instantly play your creation, share it with a friend, or make it available to players around the world – all in-game with the push of a button.

The closer we get to the game’s release, the more that’ll be unveiled and I sincerely hope that id software have more to show that isn’t just a sawn-off shotgun and a chainsaw gunning down countless enemies who appear from thin air to just stand there and take a beating. Doom 3 was criticised for a lot back in 2004 (Forgiven that 11 years ago the same tech available today wasn’t back then) but let’s hope that in the 11 years since, let’s hope the fans and critics thoughts were taken on board to bring Doom into a new generation of gamers and consoles, because looking pretty doesn’t cut it anymore.