Archive for December, 2009

Ran out of Steam – Prey SOLD OUT

Ran out of Steam - Prey sold out, no more disks left?

I can understand when I want a physical product that is high in demand, sometimes it may be sold out. But today Steam changed the online realm by selling out of a digitally distributed product. Is that even possible you ask? According to the sale home page they ran out of keys!! Quite possible, maybe on a Call of Duty title, but Prey? Who wants to buy that game? Personally I felt like throwing up trying to play it, the floor never really was the floor, and the walls, well they never really were walls either. Still despite this major disruption in the world of digital distribution, Steam carried on the Christmas spirit by supplementing the offer with a Bioshock deal. Well done Steam.

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Team Fortress 2 WAR – choose your side

My TF2 WAR contributions, 86 demomen down so far

My TF2 WAR contributions, 88 demomen down so far

Valve have come up with a creative pre class update, enticing hoards of TF2 activity before and no doubt after this double class patch for Soldier and Demoman. WAR was declared officialy, after a great teaser comic bringing life and character to the previously anonymous announcer’s voice. Pitting The Soldier against The Demoman in all out war, whilst Steam accurately logs every kill of each class, Valve is offering an unknown weapon for the side that tally’s the most kills. Since this announcement,  I have picked up my rocket launcher determined to fight the good fight for The Soldier.

A favourite class of mine, which I have put the most time into playing, picking a side was therefore easy, killing The Demoman however has proved to be a lot harder. The grenade spam that comes out of this Scottish, eye patch wearing, now declared sworn enemy is difficult to dodge and appears to be on endless supply as we patiently reload after 4 rockets. I found 2Fort to be the most efficient place to kill Demomen, and will continue to play here untill I rack up enough kills despite my love of payload maps Badwater and Goldrush.

As of yesterday night we appear to be in the lead, 1,429,578 dead Soldiers to 1,555,745 dead Demomen. Despite these confident figures I await today’s results, with the never ending sticky bombs from The Demoman I fear my mere 88 war contribution is not enough! So I am off to 2Fort, I must continue fighting through tonight and the rest of the week if that’s what it takes.

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Games On Demand vs Steam – Digital Distribution Wars

GFWL games on demand, a contender to knock steam off the podium?

GFWL games on demand, a contender to knock steam off the podium?

December the 15th 2009, the date Steam’s only possible contender is born? Games For Windows Live will extend its wing to digital distribution for PC games with its Games On Demand service, similar to the Xbox service launched not so long ago.

GFWL has been a touchy subject amongst PC gamers, personally I am all for the integration with Xbox. Increasing my Gamerscore when I play PC titles like Fallout 3 or GTAIV rather than having to slug through the Xbox slower and lower detail versions on a controller is a huge reason to play the title on mouse and keyboard. I will admit though, the GFWL software could do with a Steam makeover. Microsoft can learn masses from the Steam client, which has evolved with countless updates over the years.

Steam obviously already has the huge CS fanbase, as well as other Source engine Half Life & L4D franchise’s locked down, and now Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 it would appear to be a monopoly on digital distribution (seriously, who uses Direct2Drive?). I even made the move a few years ago to only purchase my games from Steam and thus unplugged my energy consuming DVD drive from my PC. Having all my titles in one place, stored for me in the cloud and integrated with my community of gamer friends, why else would I venture out into the cold and buy retail? I held off buying Mass Effect AND Mirrors Edge until late 2009 because they were not available on Steam, that is customer loyalty to the point of fanboy!

So Microsoft clearly have a lot of catching up to do, but what they do have is the money, power and Xbox experience to make this work. If I had the choice, if it meant extra Gamerscore I would definitely choose Games on Demand from Microsoft over Steam despite my years of loyalty. There is something about a large Gamerscore on my Xbox dashboard that keeps me coming back to games just for the achievements. And rightly so, some achievements make you explore a game in areas you might have missed, areas the developers spent forever and a day coding and crafting, rightly so these areas deserve to be explored even if it is for a mere 20G.

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Trials HD Review – Xbox Live Arcade’s best title?

Motocross Maniacs on Gameboy vs Trials HD Xbox Live Arcade

Motocross Maniacs on Gameboy vs Trials HD Xbox Live Arcade

Xbox Live Arcade has created some incredibly addictive titles. Number one for me was Shadow Complex, but this has since been replaced by the dangerously addictive Trials HD. Possibly my love of bikes (pedal :Ed) or my youth addiction to Motocross Maniacs on the Gameboy, or quite possibly the fact that RedLynx has created a gaming masterpiece, either way I am addicted.

A very simple game, drive a bike from left to right in the fastest time without falling off. Sounds basic, but whats not so basic are the bike and rider physics RedLynx have hammered into this game. Apart from acceleration and the brake pedal, which are responsive to how hard you hit the analogue triggers, you also have the ability to adjust the riders position. Lean forward on your bike of choice to help climb to crazy heights, or swing back to lift the front wheel and perform jumps onto obstacles that at first, seem impossible to reach.

With no steering to get in the way and little else but wildly barmy obstacle courses, Trials HD manages to put pure fun back into gaming. Easy to pickup but rock hard to master, RedLynx have made an XBLA title that attracts casual gamers yet still caters for the hardcore. The leaderboards are the prime example, with the lap times for every gamertag, the top times bordering on the insanely inconceivable. You can also compete with gamers on your friends list, with the on-screen indicator showing their real-time position on the course as you are driving, a small touch but genius nevertheless.

Hours will be lost repeating each map and going for the gold medals, which require zero faults and tight time limits to hit, and later once you have unlocked the platinum medals, you will end up replaying every map again only to realise how impossible they are to achieve. Speaking of achievements, Trials HD gives you some absurd ones to get the 200 Gamerscore allocated to this and most XBLA titles. I spent the good part of an afternoon going for my favourite, the Unyielding Achievement, which requires the Groundhog Returns level to be completed with nothing but accelerate and brake. I am so proud of finally achieving this I thought I would post my effort so others may use it as a guide.

This game and a large friends list will be never ending, for only 1200 points that’s more value than most full Xbox titles. I found myself going through the leaderboards and picking out where my friends had faster lap times and replaying the levels until I came out on top. Falling off a bike has never been so fun! Where most games become annoying repeating the same parts over and over, I found myself laughing ever time I did fall off, picked myself back up and carried on determined to beat the obstacle, even if some times it does take over 300 attempts on one ramp.

9/10  A Must Have Title

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