From the moment I stepped back into Rapture as a Big Daddy, I knew Bioshock 2 would be great. Within two days of picking up my copy I had thoroughly beaten it, stepped on its rotting corpse, and continued to beat it. I just couldn’t turn it off. Bioshock 2 picks up where the first one left off, except this time around you have a drill and wear a diving suit. You are the first Big Daddy, dubbed “Delta.” If you played the first Bioshock, everything feels familiar: the plasmids, the splicers, and the environment.
The story has altered, but the popular gameplay stuck to its roots. Graphics enthusiasts will notice only a few minor differences from the previous version. The big change on everyone’s mind, though? 2K Games decided to give multiplayer a spin.
What happens when you blend the best elements of an RTS, RPG and an MMO? League of Legends.
It's a rare thing that a new genre arises in the game industry. All the games we see on the shelves go under a common genre: RTS, FPS, RPG, Sports, Adventure or any other miscellaneous name. League of Legends falls under the recently-expanded (along with its counterparts, Heroes of Newerth and Demigod) DotA genre.
There is the odd chance that you actually get to see a new genre arise and form a loyal fan-base, critics, and media attention. MOBA (Mobile Online Battle Arena) is a new game sub-species that branched out from Aeon of Strife in StarCraft, more popularly recognized as the DotA custom game in Warcraft 3 (Defense of the Ancients).
League of Legends wades into the gaming arena with one major advantage under its belt: it’s free. You can download the game and play it without ever having to spend a dime. There is a sort of adopted micro-transaction system, but that comes later.
Aside from a clever acronym, LoL has built upon the archetypal hero. You actively control one strong Champion as if in a regular RTS, but you solely have control of this unit. There is no army, no blobbing, no unit spamming. The game follows a ‘tug-of-war’ strategic theme, wherein each team (consisting of 5 players) will use their unique champions to push for the enemy base. Think of these heroes as your bulky guys at the back of the tug-of-war rope. The two teams have their cannon-fodder units, the guys you would want at the front of your rope, which spawn automatically and clash in the center of the map.
It's up to the champions to successfully push into the enemy base. Each champion is widely unique, varying from all walks of RPG-stereotypes. As you kill enemy units or an enemy player, your hero gains experience. Just like any RPG or modern RTS, you use this experience to further develop your strength in one of three available abilities. In addition, you gain a highly lethal “ultimate” ability, an effective tide-turner.
League of Legends does have its shortcomings, though. As with many MOBA games, newcomers may find themselves disoriented or lost. It is imperative that you understand what an enemy champion excels at, how to work together with other champions, and how to counter enemy combatants. LoL attempts to remedy this by supplying a fully-voiced tutorial, AI to train against, and a run-of-the-mill ranking system for player comparison.
Unlike many teater-tottering RTS’s out there, everything in League of Legends carefully balances on the edge of a knife. If your team is being pushed back from superior enemy firepower, having one of your teammates ambushing the opposing team from behind can result in two enemy champion kills, rewarding your team with valuable resources.
Gold enables player champions to purchase weaponry and armor during the match, but these are not persistent outside of each individual game. One of the Champions I played the most, a dark-robed badass named Kassadin, has a silencing ability, denying enemies spells for a short duration. Kassadin’ teleport power gives you access to nifty maneuvers and narrow escapes. Both of these take up a good deal of mana. This is where gold and items come in. There are builds that increase damage, mana pool, health, speed, and much more. With more than 40 champions and so many build options, you can spend days just nailing down that perfect combination.
There are two halves to League of Legends – in essence an ‘outside’ world and an arena. Your account accumulates experience points and influence points from each match, inevitably leading to levels, bonuses, skills, and even additional champions. The catch, though? You are much better off purchasing those heroes with real money, unfortunately.
The Good: Large variety of Champions. Great longevity thanks to unlockables. The game runs stunningly well, even on mid-range rigs. The learning curve is not nearly as steep as other MOBA games.
The Bad: Only has two maps, one still being measured as “beta.” The out-of-match lobby is a bit sloppy, and in-game UI is hit-and-miss. Features still lacking, such as ranked games with official ladder lists and Replays.
Overall: LoL is highly-addictive and fast-paced – I had trouble tearing myself away to write this review. Attentiveness to the community, including frequent updates and community-ideas being implemented. This game has everything it takes to become an E-sport attraction. Oh, and it’s free.
~Baard "Aeterne" Spein
Paradox Interactive has teamed up with Arrowhead Game Studios to publish this "unique" action-adventure fantasy game. Arrowhead takes a hilarious twist with the typical fantasy setting, admitting outright that it is "generic," but in a funny way. Get your bath robes ready.
In Magicka, players will control four wizards in a not-so-serious epic quest to save a not-so-unique town. In fact, Magicka sets itself apart by being uniquely generic. Consider your mind blown.
Johan Pilestedt, CEO of Arrowhead Game Studios, said:
Bethesda released a trailer Thursday giving the first look at the Obsidian-developed Fallout sequel, Fallout: New Vegas. The trailer opens to Frank Sinatra's Blue Moon before pulling back and revealing New Vegas, ending with the iconic Fallout phrase "War never changes." Fallout 2 veterans will also notice the flag of the New California Republic, indicating that they may play a major roll in the game.
Obsidian Entertainment was formed in 2003 by former Black Isle employees, some of whom worked on the original Fallout games. Obsidian is known for their RPG sequels, including KotOR 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2. Let's hope that this one doesn't get rushed and Obsidian lives up to their full potential.
Bethesda also announced that Fallout: New Vegas is set for release on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in fall 2010.
~Tim "Space_man" Martin
Blizzard Entertainment released new screenshots of the upcoming AAA title, Diablo 3. Diablo is a hack-n-slash dungeon-crawler that inspired many modern remakes, such as Torchlight. Diablo 3's edgy art-style has received heavy criticism from hardcore fans, many claiming that Blizzard has gravitated toward a "WoW-style" for all of their upcoming games (D3 and StarCraft 2 included). What are your thoughts on the new art direction? Has Diablo 3 strayed from its roots? Read More for screens.
For those that watch House M. D. on a regular basis, you probably can't get enough of the hilariously unconventional and downright politically incorrect Doctor, Greg House.
Legacy Interactive has recently announced that they willl be releasing House M.D. The Video Game for both Nintendo DS and PC.
TIGA (The Independent Games-Developers Association), the trade association representing the UK games industry, has said that the House of Lords Communications Committee has essentially backed their campaign for a UK Tax Break for developers.
This news comes just days after it emerged that the UK had slipped down to sixth in the world league table of game developing countries. With most people from the UK looking for work in the games industry going abroad to countries such as Canada and the USA, could a possibility of a tax break see more work for those developers in the UK?
Ever start a game of something with full intentions of turning it off after the first 10 minutes or so, only to look at the clock again and find out that 3 hours seemed to have just disappeared? How about those times when you just bought a new game, but then find out you have dozens of errands to run before you can sit down and enjoy?
Imagine being able to play the PS3 from anywhere in the house. Have to eat your meals downstairs, siphoning valuable gaming time? No problem. It's a nice day outside and people are complaining about you being in your room. No problem (well the glare might be, damn sun). All that freedom and none of the lost gaming time is perfection. A video and images follow the break.
The highly anticipated descendant of the Battlefield series, Bad Company 2, has released beta to anyone who pre-purchases the game using Steam's digital distribution services. Pre-purchased copies unlock a select set of "Limited Edition" perks, all of which are listed below.
Gamers who pre-purchase will have access to beta until February 25, at which point DICE plans to be ready for launch. The game lists at $50 on Steam and comes with the following "limited edition" features:
Imagine a game based solely around picking a car, modifying it to the extreme, and zipping around an open-world city whilst mowing down the walking dead. Sound awesome? Too right it does! That's exactly the premise of EXOR Studios' latest game, Zombie Driver. Check out the trailer for it now:
Gorgeous graphics and all the gore. Mmmmm, makes me think about the first time I picked up Dead Rising on the Xbox 360, just trying to think of a better and better way to destroy the living dead. Still not convinced? Check out the screenshots after the break!
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