Archive for May, 2010


I’ve started up a gaming podcast/video blog with a friend for his website DigitalWound.com and this is the first episode. It’s low budget but it’s a whole lot of fun, and you can expect a significant upgrade after July when it will have HD Audio and Video.

This first episode covers the upcoming update for Aion, news of Playstation charging for their online services and J Allard leaving Microsoft. We also do video reviews of Bizarre Creations “Blur” and Super Mario Galaxy 2.

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NCsoft are on the verge of releasing their highly anticipated 1.9 patch for Aion, which has users across the globe jumping for joy as a vast number of improvements are on the horizon. While 2.0 is going to change the bells and whistles of the game world, 1.9’s focus is updating the user experience based on community feedback to make the game more enjoyable for players. So with the update going live soon what can Aion users expect when they login to roam the realms with their Daevas?

Looking For Group Overhaul

1.9 is making a number of UI enhancements, and one of the more notable ones is the Looking For Group system. The new LFG allows players not only to find groups around them, but allow groups seeking another party member to find them. Using the new UI players can see a list o currently formed groups, what quests they are completing, see how many members in the group and easily ask the group leader for an invite. If you are leading a group you can see a players class and level and invite them to the group right from the interface. Handy, effective and a much needed addition to the game.

Daily Quests, Item Decay and Rental Store

Aion customers have been asking for more quests to be added to the game, so NCsoft are implementing a daily quest system. Each day a new quest will be available, offering more content to explore based upon their level. Daily quests will offer a variety of consumable items as rewards, but will also introduce new timed gear rewards. These items come attached with a decay timer that starts directly from the very moment you equip your new gear, giving the player a temporary boost as they move about with their shiny new objects. The timer runs out and your object becomes a useless pile of dust so use it wisely.

There is also a new Rental Gear store that makes an appearance, allowing players to purchase high priced weapons and armor for a rental period for a small cost. The decay timer comes into play yet again, allowing users to effectively try before they buy these extravagantly priced items.

New Skills, Combat Balancing and Two-Handed Weapon Merges

1.9 bring 15 new skills to the table, spread across all eight classes. These skills are geared towards balancing out the combat within the game, with skills that can break stun effects as an example. The update will also bring a series of class balancing changes to make the game a more consistent and even experience for all players.

Before 1.9 you often found yourself in a bit of a predicament; use the cooler looking more badass two-handed weapon or dual wield that will effectively deal more damage to your foes. That is a thing of the past with 1.9 introducing an all new two-handed weapon merge system. Allowing players to merge a more powerful two-hander with a less powerful one, combining statistics to create one badass of a weapon. It’s a welcome addition that will keep a lot of Gladiators out there very happy.

Costs Down, Experience Up

We all know how soul binding, spirit healing and teleportation simply cost more than they should. You could get back that 4,000EXP you lost when dying for a hefty fee, or you could just go out and kill three more monsters to gain it back yourself. Well 1.9 brings with it a dramatic price drop for all of these essential tasks, keeping Kinah in your pockets for more important things, like a nice hat to wear to a party.

Users will also find themselves earning more EXP with the new “Energy of Salvation” system which essentially functions as a rested experience system for the user, much in the same vein as World of Warcraft. Users will also find a number of quests now offer more EXP upon completion and campaign missions will give you some seriously sweet loot for completion.

Enough Already! When Does It Come Out?

This isn’t a definitive guide to the truckload of additions, tweaks and upgrades that 1.9 is bringing along with it, just a highlight reel of some of the bigger features landing. So the only question left to answer is when is this bad boy dropping? Increment downloads have already started, and it will be launching live on servers June 3rd for the Australian gamers out there.

So the second trailer featuring over the top cheesy live-action for the upcoming F.E.A.R 3 is here. Who knows what Warner Bros is thinking with all this B-Grade action, but some of the gameplay segments of the trailer show of some of the telekinetic powers that Paxton Fettel will have on offer. What little gameplay that has been on display so far seems to be more of what we would expect from a title in the F.E.A.R series, which isn’t necessary a bad thing.


Read the full in-depth review HERE
Developed By: Nintendo
Platform: Wii
Players:1-2
Online: N/A

What It’s All About:

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is just pure fun! The premise is the same as previous titles – run and jump through a huge collection of levels spread across a bevy of different locations, collect power stars along the way, defeat big bad Bowser and rescue the Princess. It’s a formula that has been working for over twenty years and it still works just as well today. You’ll find yourself flying from planet to planet, being sucked into orbit, gravity making the ceiling of a level into your floor, all ideas that were developed and explored in the first tile. These ideas have all been built upon with exciting twists and capabilities, with each galaxy exploring them in their own unique way.

What It Did Right:

  • Fantastic level design
  • Tight and precise control scheme that feels like second nature
  • Beautiful visuals and stunning soundtrack
  • Accessible to casual gamers and hardcore gamers alike

What Brings It Down:

The Final Verdict:
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is simply more than just “Galaxy 1.5”. It provides some of the most fun, challenging and addictive gameplay that has come out this generation, and yet still manages to be accessible for casual gamers and the hardcore alike. Nintendo implement a series of helpful mechanics for gamers who need assistance finishing the game so smartly, those of you who are skilled enough to collect all 120 stars wont even notice they are there. The graphics, the sound, the level design and the overall charm perfectly encapsulate the spirit of classic gaming while still offering something next, exciting and unique. All backed up by a tight and precise control scheme that simply feels like second nature and is so intuitive you don’t even have to think about it. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is platform gaming at its absolute finest and is one of the greatest games to be released this generation.
I never give a game 10 out of 10, never! Yet I purely cannot see how Super Mario Galaxy 2 could ever be improved upon.
10/10

You have to give credit where credit is due; the Super Mario Bros. franchise is one of the biggest, oldest and most successful gaming franchises in the existence of video games. It’s simple yet challenging formula has continued to win the hearts of gamers for over twenty years, cementing Mario as one of the faces of Video Games the world over.

2007 saw the release of Super Mario Galaxy; Mario’s first 3D adventure since the lackluster Super Mario Sunshine on the Nintendo Gamecube. A lot was riding on the success of Galaxy and it more than delivered, offering gamers a fantastic world with fun and challenging gameplay. Last year we saw the reboot of 2D design with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which returned to the series roots providing challenging 2D platforming adventure, complete with multiplayer support. Now Nintendo bring us Super Mario Galaxy 2, a direct sequel to the 2007 title that many have regarded as Mario’s best 3D adventure. Nintendo need to provide something absolutely stunning.

They have.

Yes Super Mario Galaxy 2 is based on the foundations of the first title; it uses the same graphics engine, the same controls and the same concept, yet this is the very reason why Galaxy 2 is so successful. The team have learned from the first title, listened to the feedback, and have improved every facet of an already masterful gaming experience. Yes Galaxy 2 is based on the first title, yet it has been improved in so many ways it doesn’t feel like Super Mario Galaxy 1.5, this is a stand alone sequel that offers some of the most fulfilling gaming moments of this generation.

Nintendo have put a lot of focus into accessible gaming for Wii titles, and SMG2 has been structured in such a manner that even someone who has never touched a controller before will be comfortable enough to play. This is evident in the opening sequence of the game as it starts off on a 2D plane as the story unfolds, then the player is forced to moving between the foreground and background before they are let go and given full control. It’s subtle and doesn’t feel like a tutorial at all, yet that’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t detract from the experience, it doesn’t feel forced, and it never feels like the game is holding your hand. Simply put, it is perfect and I wish more games would take a similar approach.

Your progression through the game has also been simplified to offer a more streamlined experience as you traverse the worlds of SMG2. Rather than the overwhelming Observatory Hubworld that we were introduced to in the first title, SMG2 utilizes a simplified world map much similar to the one introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3. Ultimately it makes the game easier to pick up and play, and does away with a mechanic that was unnecessary and overwhelming.
Nintendo have brought back the “play for me” mechanic that was featured in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. If you die too many times you will be asked if you need assistance and the game will help you pass the trouble spot you have been stuck on. While it might sound like a cheats way out it will certainly be a welcome addition to those casual gamers out there, especially in the later levels of the game. Using this feature doesn’t come without a cost though; when collecting the star at the end of the level you will only be given a Bronze for your efforts instead of that Gold. You can go back and play through the level again and get that Gold once you feel a little more confident. Nintendo have also included Hint TV monitors that teach players exactly how a specific task should be completed. Once again a handy feature for new gamers, yet those who have been playing Mario titles for years should be able to work it out on their own. Once again these mechanics are not forced onto a player, so you will only see them if you want or need to.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is just pure fun! The premise is the same as previous titles – run and jump through a huge collection of levels spread across a bevy of different locations, collect power stars along the way, defeat big bad Bowser and rescue the Princess. It’s a formula that has been working for over twenty years and it still works just as well today. The team behind SMG2 has refined Mario’s controls to a point where everything just seems like second nature, making the player feel right at home with the controller in their hands.

Most of the levels in Super Mario Galaxy 2 are based around concepts and designs of the original game. You’ll find yourself flying from planet to planet, being sucked into orbit, gravity making the ceiling of a level into your floor, all ideas that were developed and explored in the first tile. These ideas have all been built upon with exciting twists and capabilities, with each galaxy exploring them in their own unique way. SMG2 constantly steps above and beyond your expectations to continually impress you, whether it be a throwback to nostalgia with a reference to a past Mario title, or just a twist on a basic game mechanic that was unexpected, Nintendo still know how to make a fun title.

Everyones favorite Dinosaur Yoshi is back, and a completely welcome addition to Super Mario Galaxy 2. As soon as players leap onto Yoshi’s back and start running around they will feel right at home. Controlling Yoshi is just a precise as controlling Mario, and using the Wii remote’s pointer to eat enemies or hook onto platforms with Yoshi’s tongue works a treat. It’s a lot of fun and opens up the gameplay to a multitude of new and exciting elements.
Yoshi doesn’t appear in each and every level, his appearances are restricted to specific galaxies, but they are all incredibly creative and some of the best levels in the game. Whether it’s using his ability to jump higher to collect a hard to reach coin, his ability to inflate like a balloon to reach great heights, or to provide a light in complete darkness; these are some of the absolutely stunning moments in Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Where Mario Galaxy 2 truly excels is it truly caters to gamers of all skill levels. Nintendo have included all these features to make the game fun and accessible to casual gamers, yet those hardcore competionists are not forgotten. Each galaxy has a hidden Comet Coin, and if collected, will unlock a series of challenges within that level design. It keeps you coming back for more, and these challenges are in fact rather challenging. Collect all 120 stars and you will unlock another gameplay mode that will give you a fulfilling, yet hardcore challenge.

SMG2 features some impressive production elements that are not only the best for it’s console, but also some of the best across any platform out there today. Level design and variety is simply unparalleled, the visuals are unique and stunning, quite amazing considering the Galaxy engine is 3 years old, and the soundtrack is full of orchestral moments that would rival a Hans Zimmer production.

The only thing that you can fault Super Mario Galaxy 2 on is the story, but let’s face it; who has ever played a Mario game for the story? Mario is all about fun, challenging and addictive gameplay and Super Mario Galaxy 2 has that by the truckload.

The Final Verdict

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is simply more than just “Galaxy 1.5”. It provides some of the most fun, challenging and addictive gameplay that has come out this generation, and yet still manages to be accessible for casual gamers and the hardcore alike. Nintendo implement a series of helpful mechanics for gamers who need assistance finishing the game so smartly, those of you who are skilled enough to collect all 120 stars wont even notice they are there. The graphics, the sound, the level design and the overall charm perfectly encapsulate the spirit of classic gaming while still offering something next, exciting and unique. All backed up by a tight and precise control scheme that simply feels like second nature and is so intuitive you don’t even have to think about it. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is platform gaming at its absolute finest and is one of the greatest games to be released this generation.

I never give a game 10 out of 10, never! Yet I purely cannot see how Super Mario Galaxy 2 could ever be improved upon.

10/10

There has been a lot of talk about Google all across the internet since their conference this week. The internet giant unleashed details on their long awaited GoogleTV project, and proved that they are finally a serious competitor to the iPhone with the details of Android 2.2 – codename: Froyo. What exactly can you expect from the new update?

The Home Screen

There has been a slight update to the home screen that surely does come in handy and will have you wondering how you lived without it in the past. There are dedicated Phone, Application Launcher and Browser shortcuts on the Home Screen which are easy to access across all five home screen panels. Aside from this we are offered a new Home Screen Tips Widget which will show users how to configure their home screens with shortcuts and widgets. Aside from these two features you won’t notice much of a difference, but having that browser shortcut on all of your home screens does come in handy.

Microsoft Exchange Support

For those of you using your Android device in a Microsoft work environment, Exchange support has been giving a substantial upgrade to make your life easier. Some of the features included in 2.2 are.

Remote Wipe: Exchange administrators can reset to factory defaults to secure your data if you lose your phone or it is stolen, all from the comfort of an office chair.
Exchange Calendars: Now supported in the native Calendar application.
Auto-discovery: No need to memorize all those pesky server addresses or port settings, for those using Exchange 2007 or higher all you need is your user-name and password to setup your Exchange account.
Global Address Lists: Directly from the Email application you can perform name lookups from your Exchange Global Address Lists, pretty handy for users on the move.

Portable Hotspot

Rumors had been floating around that some form of mobile tethering system would be implemented in the next Android Update and I am glad to report that 2.2 delivers. Devices such as the Nexus One can be turned into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared between 8 devices. Or if you prefer you can plug your phone in via USB to a laptop and share the 3G connection for internet access. In other words no need to pay the extra cash for the 3G iPad, just get the Wi-Fi version and connect it to your Nexus One while you are on the go!

Speed Demon

Early reports stated that Froyo was going to be a speed demon when compared to 2.1 and I’m happy to say Google have delivered on this promise. A new engine called the V8 makes loading Java-Script a breeze, with Google now holding the title of the fastest phone browsing experience in the world. Let’s not forget that 2.2 allows support for Adobe Flash 10.1! Sorry iPhone/iPad users, Apple kinda let you down in that department. It still remains to be seen if Flash on a phone is a good idea, but at least 2.2 allows you to make that decision.

Along with the vast browser improvements the implementation of JIT (Just-In-Time) compiler you can expect a 2x-5x speed performance boost across the board of your applications! This also allows for smoother transitions and faster application switching.

Over The Air Updates

Soon the Android Marketplace will be accessible from your PC where you can download applications to your computer. Utilizing Over The Air updates, the application will then be automatically installed to your android device. Same goes with the music you buy from the Amazon store, no need to sync your device with your PC!

Another great feature utilizing OTA updates is direct streaming your iTunes Library wirelessly to your Froyo enabled device. Note this will only work on non-DRM content.

Tidbits

Along with these key points you will notice refined pinch to zoom controls for browsing and other applications, hardware compass access to the browser that is handy for real time map reading, accessing camera form the browser, voice support for Google Translate, installation of applications and running them from the SD card and many more.

So When Can You Expect It?

2.2 is being rolled out across Nexus One users right now. For those of you using any Android devices from 2010 or perhaps the very end of 2009 the update will be coming in the next few weeks. For those on older devices I’m sorry to report that you are shit out of luck. Don’t worry though, the very talented and active mod community will have something running for your device shortly no doubt! 🙂