Delve into the Secret World

By David Burrola

As a smaller but still informative pique, i’d like to bring to your attention an upcoming MMORPG called The Secret  World. Its developed by Funcom, and its an MMO set in modern day, with a supernatural feel to it, and a very unique system to it.

There are no levels in the game. Its all about what kind of skills you want to develop, in a way like Skyrim  has done recently, but with far more options(if that’s possible). There are several categories, and each will allow you to play a character that’s entirely of your creation. Gear is also not specific to a look. You can have your character look and dress any way you want. So there’s that bit of fun for you.

I’ve been interested in this for a while, and i’m a bit bummed that I don’t have a PC right now, as its only on PC so far. If you want more information you can go to Funcom’s site and check out all the dark modern crazy for yourself.

Being a WoW player, I do like to see what other MMO’s have to bring out and what new kinds of games will emerge in the market with this giant around. But also, being a table top gamer and a fan of World of Darkness, i’m really curious and a little excited about it.

So go on and start following this game, it looks to be pretty different from what we’ve seen before, more in its structure than most others.

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Got a Kindle Fire? You Need a TekNmotion Intruder Headset!

CompuExpert today announced the release of the TekNmotion Intruder gaming  headset. The first headset designed especially for a world-class audio  experience on tablets, smartphones, Mac or PC, the Intruder reflects a balance  of portability, durability and superior high-performance audio. “Most  of us are still using crummy little earbuds to play games and watch movies on  our tablets and smartphones,” said Ammar Adra, president of CompuExpert.  “If you happen to be one of us that mainly use their tablet and smartphone for  playing games and listening to music, then you need the Intruder in your  life!”

Experience  deep, soft bass and beautiful, crystal-clear mid-range sound from a headset  that’s also portable, convenient, and comfortable. The over-the-ear cups provide  exceptional noise reduction, and fold up for storage in the included travel bag.  The Intruder also comes with two detachable microphones and a breakaway cable  that also features inline volume control and a mute switch.

The  TekNmotion Intruder headset will be available September 30th for a suggested  retail price of $59.99. The Intruder will be available on Amazon.com at Amazon TeknMotion  Page.

Portal 2

By Sean McQuillan

Developer: Valve Corporation

Publisher: Valve Corporation

Distributor: Valve Corporation (Online), Electronic Arts (Retail)

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Genre: Puzzle-Platform, Science Fiction

Modes: Single-Player, Cooperative

 

Rating:  5/5  First Prize in Potato Science!

 Portal 1’s silent protagonist, Chell,  wakes up to find herself back in the bowels of Aperture Science.  She has been in stasis for many years as the facility has succumbed to encroaching nature without GLaDOS to maintain the facility.  She is greeted by a personality core, Wheatley, and must work to escape the facility together.  Along the way GLaDOS is reawakened, and testing can begin anew.  Chell must escape a new and deadly set of puzzles and obstacles that will take her from the bowels of the facility, to a final showdown with the psychotic intelligence running the tests.

With this second outing into the world of Aperture Science, Valve takes every opportunity to flesh out the world and its characters.  While we had GLaDOS as our main source of interaction in Portal 1, this game introduces us to Wheatley, a bumbling and endearing construct helping you escape. Cave Johnson is also introduced as the eccentric founder of Aperture Science.    The voice acting in Portal 1 by GLaDOS’ voice actress Ellen McLain was beautifully enchanting, and Portal 2 doesn’t disappoint.  Ellen is back as GLaDOS and the turrets, but we also get wonderful performances from Stephen Merchant (Wheatley), and J.K. Simmons (Cave Johnson) who many would know as J. Jonah Jameson from the original Spiderman movies.  While there’s no shortage of amazing lines from all of them through the game, you’ll find yourself wishing there was more.

The wonderful Aesthetic of Portal 1, with the well polished test tracks, and the abandoned industrial areas behind the scenes, gave the game as much characterization as its voice acting.  With Portal 2 we see it really come alive. From the lowest levels where we see Aperture’s humble beginnings to the madcap testing tracks as the facility becomes unstable; we see an organic facility that shapes and molds its story over time.

The platforming sections the coined the phrase “Thinking with Portals” was perfect in Portal 1, it’s hard to think where they could go from there.  The guys at Valve brought in the team from Independent Games Festival-winning DigiPen student project Tag: The Power of Paint to incorporate their game’s paint mechanics into these new gels.  While these 3 new gels are a blast to play with, especially the orange Propulsion gel, the Valve team were no slouches themselves.  Introducing Faith plates, Light bridges, Thermal Discouragement Beams, and the gravity defying Excursion Tunnels, Portal 2 is at no shortage of new and interesting ways to challenge the player.

While the campaign mode is certainly a rich experience, the Co-op play is the perfect complement to it.  With the introduction of the not quite silent protagonists Atlas and P-body, you’ll go through quite a gauntlet of puzzles strictly designed for two people.  It’s an exercise in trust and often good-hearted frustration.  While the puzzles are great, the experience is also related to the main storyline, with the most engaging moments coming when the pair have to go “off the rails” and into the facility’s abandoned areas.  While it can be frustrating to replay this mode with someone who hasn’t solved the puzzles, with the new Authoring Tools you can look forward to new puzzles from the community.

If you are  wondering if Jonathan Coulton, the wonderful Singer/Songwriter behind Portal 1’s “Still Alive”, has a new entry for this outing, the answer is a happy Yes. There’s also another great bonus to be had for those who complete the Story mode.  You’ll just have to beat it and see.

With cake, companion cubes, wonderfully dark humor, and the wonder of picking up your first portal gun, it’s hard for a sequel to catch the same magic as the first Portal game.  Luckily Valve succeeds masterfully and fans of the first game should all love this new chapter in the Aperture Science story.

DC Universe Online

 By Maurice Lewis

Published by: Sony Online Entertainment (SOE)

Developed by: Sony Online Entertainment (SOE)

Number of Players: MMORPG (online) or 1 Player

Release Date: January 11, 2011

MSRP: $49.99 PC/ $59.99 for PS3

Rated: T for Teen

For: Mild Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence

Also Available On: PC/PS3

Rating: It’s ok.

 

DC Universe is a MMORPG, but don’t be fooled by the genre;  it has certain elements that may surprise you. As most MMO style games, you start off at the character creation screen.  You have the choices between being a superhero or a villain, which in a sense is choosing a faction. Character creation actually gives you templates of your favorite hero or villain, such as Superman, Batman, Joker, Catwoman etc…  I personally created my superhero to look like Magneto (I know taboo !).

When it comes to choosing factions I think DCUO lacks certain characteristics that made choosing factions a big part of your mmorpg experience.  There is a neat little option where you’re able to choose your characters personality. This determines your characters idle stance (animation your character does while you just stand there). The most part in character creation is choosing your mentor. He/she is esentially your quest giver. So choose wisely.

After choosing your character’s looks, you can choose its abilities and characteristics. You can select from a variety of things, such as having your character have frost abilities, fire abilities, mental, nature abilities etc… You also have secondary abilities, such as being strong physically with punches/brawler guns, kungfu, and even gadgets.  You can also duel wield certain weapons.  I really believe Sony did a good job implementing all of these abilities, giving you control of making your character balanced and well rounded.  Time to choose your super human ability.  Your choices are, flying/Superman Acrobatics/Batman, super speed/Flash, these are your modes of transportation.  Hey it beats riding the bus right?

 Gameplay

You start off in the newbie zone which turned out to be confusing.  If I wasn’t a veteran MMO player I would’ve been stuck in Brainiac’s ship for hours.  Another question, Why do both factions start off in the same basic training mode?  Basic training consist of you learning your hotkeys and practicing your abilities. 

Time to quest.  After making it through your basic training, you meet up with your quest giver/mentor. For example, if you’re evil and you chose The Joker, you will be placed in your home city, which is Gotham.  You grab a quest or a few, then you’re on your way. You have your basic start up quest, Locate Mr X, or kill X amount of enemies.  I didnt enjoy questing at all. Every quest felt so cramped.  Many  people tagged my mobs on pure accident, not only that but some quest were bunched up right next to each other causing multiple NPC interference.

Targeting enemies was also a major issue for me.  The AI tries to auto-target mobs but it fails miserably and is only 100% accurate with mobs that are directly in front of you. The fighting system makes up for the lackluster questing experience.  You have so many combinations you can use, I found myself actually interacting, and having more character control than im use to.  If the going gets tough, you have tons of escape routes.  I found flying to be the best ability, because you were basically unable to be touched by acrobatics, and super speed. I’ve noticed after every long quest chain, you go into a dungeon, and you’re fighting enemies from that quest chain, sometimes fighting a mini boss that you may remember from certain DC comics. DCUO has an alert system, this takes the place of having a instance group.  Alerts are for groups of 4.  I tried giving the PVE another chance because I love doing group dungeons.  Doing this also felt like I was just doing one big quest chain, and the experience was also lack luster.

PvP is very entertaining; its a breath of fresh air pulling off lethal combinations leaving your enemies wondering what hit them easily makes world PVP exciting.  You feel like you’re in a comic book.  With all that said, leveling seems to be a breeze, my only gripe is the skill tree seems to be pointless, as I rarely saw any real benefits.  The level cap is 30, and you will quickly realize the game play was created with nothing but pvp in mind.

My final thoughts

Character Creation was my favorite part of the game, as its every childs dream to be a superhero and while you may not  actually be that superhero, you get to control one and interact with all of your favorite comic book heros.  The rest of the gave leaves a lot to be desired.  There is lots of room for improvement but right now it’s just a break from the monotony of another MMO.

SPLITFISH to Premiere New Ecology-Friendly FRAGFX SHARK Controller for PlayStation 3, PC, and Mac at Gamescom 2010

 Leading gaming peripherals manufacturer Splitfish Gameware® announced today that they are extending their peripheral lineup with the premiere of the FRAGFX Shark, their new power conserving precision mouse FPS controller for the PlayStation 3, PC and Mac at Gamescom 2010, August 18-22. On hand to take on all challengers will be international Call of Duty champ Dennis Dozier (zDD). The FRAGFX Shark boasts a variety of innovations such as power conserving technology so that it requires only a single AA battery in the split fragchuck and mouse to provide 50+ hours of gaming time and 500 + hours on standby.  in addition to the FRAGFX Shark, Splitfish will exhibit two other brand new peripherals for the first time, the FRAGFX Piranha and The FRAGFX Barracuda.  These additions provide an extended variety of innovative, affordable, high quality new peripherals promising to be the most intuitive and customizable solutions ever offered to high performance gamers for the Sony PlayStation 3.

Also on display at Gamescom 2010 will be the FragFx Evolution Wireless – the defacto dual handed, programmable MOTION Controller. The Evo gives players a huge edge when playing sports titles such as Madden 11 – it makes average players good and good players great.

Splitifish’s Gamescom booth will be located at Business Area: Hall 4.2, Gang F/Nr.043

Splitfish logo -7-10

Midnight release of Starcraft II

by Angie Quidim

We are anxiously awaiting at our local gamestop to get one of the most anticipated RTS games in the PC world. For years we have been waiting and the gaming gods will be appeased. It is finally the release of Starcraft II, the Wings of Liberty.
Retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Gamestop and Best Buy will be open midnight for the launch as well as the Fry’s Electronics in Fountain Valley will have the developers signing select copies for fans in California.

More to come on the Starcraft adventure… stay tuned

Pirates of the Burning Sea

 

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By Mario Garcia

Manufacturer: Flying Lab Software / Sony Online Entertainment

Review Rating: 6

Website: Pirates of the Burning Sea

The MMO Pirates of the Burning Sea by Flying Lab Software and Sony online entertainment is a fun journey into 18th Century  world of pirates.  Three factions are fighting for control of the Caribbean and its lucrative wealth.  English Spanish and French Factions give career options such as officer privateer and freetrader.  The of course there are the Pirates carving a name out for themselves in history.

Early in the game the missions play out like most MMOs however, due to the locations alot of these quests are instanced.  I went through a few missions trying to locate where to find the bad guys only to discover that i had to go to the shipmaster and select the mission which went to a loading screen and then i found myself standing near the place i was but in combat. Hand to hand combat was a bit clunky, very much like most MMO’s and consisted of scripted moves depending on your skill level and combat style.  Taking to the seas was something i looked forward to.  The ships moved quite nicely between the different ports and though it did take a bit of time going from one port to another I was never bored.  The animations of the ships and the great soundtrack really gave it a truly epic scale.   Approaching an enemy ship would pull you into a combat mode that was truly the star of the game for me.  You had to keep track of the wind in order to keep from becoming a sitting duck, since you have to be moving in order to bring your cannons to bear on the enemy.  The different types of ammo available for the cannons also helped keep the combat fresh; do you pound on their hull with heavy shot or load bar or landrige  and take out their sails and crew.  The economy is a bit more daunting and like eve online is complicated but can allow your average player to really become a powerful character in the world.

The graphics on land are mediocre most of the charachters look like plastic dolls (beware of very sharp looking facial hair).  Occasional glitches in NPC movements, like carrying non existent barrels and stiff legged walking, removed some of the immersion.  On the open sea and in combat you really did feel a nice sense of the scale of the battles.  The soundtrack was one of the best parts of the game, really lending to the excitement and swashbuckling action.  Hand to hand combat as well as conveying the scale and might of the great fighting ships added to the realism. I was a bit disturbed with the lack of players that were around.  It seems as if this game’s heyday had come and gone which is a disappointment since the richness of the world feels like it could have been a really fun game for any pirate fan.

factor_lowmed Overall i think this game offers a richness and  complexity that most other “easier to play” MMO’s like World of warcraft lack. Though casual players may be turned off by the learning curve players who enjoy a rich and complex experince will like this game.  Hopefully it will be around to play for a while yet.