Archive for category Xbox

You Can’t Marry Karita in Skyrim

If you visit Dawnstar, and pop into the Windpeak Inn you will meet Karita. You may be taken back by her slutty dress and natural Nord beauty and think this is the one for me, this is who I want to marry! Beware, it’s a trap. Do not think you can charm this women by completing every quest in Dawnstar. Even if you become the Thane of Dawnstar, and even if you help Karita’s father with his pointless chores, it won’t work. You can’t marry Karita! Wearing the Amulet of Mara is supposed to get you girls right? Well not this one. All she does is sing and tease, and waste hours off your life in the dump that is Dawnstar! Move on to the next one, just saying!

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The Death of Piracy…and online cheating?

Following Kotaku’s recent interview with an ex-pirate who chose Steam over BitTorrent, I figured it high time that the death of piracy should be upon us. In a world moving more and more into the cloud, services like Steam are providing a place to buy, collect and socialise as a gamer. With a friends list requiring a scroll even on a 1920×1200 display, a sale nearly every week and a constantly patched and updated game Steam offers a complete gaming solution. Why buy anywhere else? Where to buy is not the problem. Choosing to buy at all is the biggest issue on the PC as some simply choose to download for free via torrent, especially with games often appearing on torrent sites days before Steam/retail stores.

Piracy statistics from torrentfreak.com

Looking at the piracy statistics for 2010 (above) at first glance piracy seems to be up over 2009 for this years Call of Duty (see stats below). 4.27 million illegal copies of Black Ops were downloaded this year vs 4.1 million copies of Modern Warfare 2 last year. So in 2010 there were 170 thousand more illegal downloads of Call of Duty over 2009 through the first two months of release. However, if we look at sales a massive 5.6 million copies were sold in 2010 within 24 hours of release (across all platforms) vs 4.7 million in 2009. I’m no accountant (ed. lol?) but that’s almost a 20% increase in legitimate paying customer demand over last year, yet pirated figures show only a 4% increase. So is this a sign of a slow down in piracy? I think it is. Piracy as a whole does appear to be getting bigger, but so too is the industry and at a faster rate. The number of gamers willing to pay, at least if not only for Call of Duty are increasing.

2009 piracy statistics from torrentfreak.com

The question is why would piracy slow down as we all become more digitally download aware? If digital downloads are slowly taking more and more of the market especially on PC, why are people choosing to pay for digital downloads over torrenting them for free like they have been for the last near decade. Steam is why!

Retail purchasing on PC died along time ago for me, first the high street and then even online ordering became a chore. Leaving the house to purchase a physical disc, having an optical drive hooked up to your computer, getting the disk out of the box to install it, manually finding the latest patch…very 1990’s. Steam offers one central ‘app’ for the gaming community, you know what your friends are buying, what and when they are playing, what they have played for precisely how long, what they have achieved and now even what they want to play if they had the money a.k.a Steam wishlist.

Gifting on Steam is a joy. I often buy gifts for relatives and friends, with a few clicks Christmas and birthdays are sorted without having to leave my seat, delivered direct to their email/Steam account. And don’t even get me started on Steam sales, games for a few pounds, why even waste time torrenting and searching for key gens and nocd.exe’s? Steam have perfected the process so well, I would rather pay for a game on Steam than to get it for free not on Steam, that’s capitalism at its finest.

Another reason for piracy decline and the eventual death of piracy is the big brother account integration of these services like Steam as well as Xbox Live and PlayStation network. If you are caught using pirated games or even cheating, the risk is you lose your entire account, either a ban or complete account deletion. All those achievements, digital downloads and the ability to play with all your friends, gone in an instant! All to save a few pounds by pirating? It’s just no longer worth it.

This year has seen a huge clamp down by the powers that be, with the most extreme example when Blizzard banned over 5,000 Starcraft 2 players for cheating. Back in 2009 Valve even gave everyone a gift for not cheating, a free hat which I wore with pride, obviously the cheaters didn’t get anything. With more recent and a touch more serious tone Sony is attempting to sue the hackers who opened up the PS3 for all manor of piracy, which this year has been a constant battle by Sony releasing countless patches to stay one step ahead of the pirates. Will I patch my PS3 to play Gran Turismo 5? Of course I will, I did straight away even though GT5 sucked! Do I want to lose any of my online accounts to save a few pounds and spend hours illegally obtaining pirated software? The answer is no, my time and my avatar is worth more than that and most importantly I want to support the games industry, and so should you.

I’m not anti-pirate although I may sound it. Piracy has changed the world often for the better and I highly recommend a favourite book of mine The Pirates Dilemma which covers this subject in far more depth. When there is a solution out there that is better than piracy, I’m all for it. After all that’s usually why we pirate in the first place, a rubbish system. Now if only the movie industry would take their fingers out of there ass…

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Kinect Review

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It seems like only yesterday the internet was in awe of Microsoft’s Project Natal. I remember watching videos of gamers in their huge showroom living rooms fighting, talking and dancing around with no controller in sight, amazed at a new technology that felt light years away.

Yet here we are, and Project Natal now renamed to the quirky ‘Kinect’ is with us and has been in my living room for over a week already. I’ve waited this long to share my thoughts so I could have a chance to watch friends and family interact with it, to get an overall view of Kinect as a gaming platform rather than just my so called ‘core gamer’ opinion.

Firstly I skipped the midnight launch, sorry folks but there were plenty of main stream sites live covering the London launch with Call of Duty Black Ops one night followed by Kinect the next it was just too much hard work, plus it was freezing! So the next day I tried a different journalist approach, actively turning into in a casual gaming consumer in my quest to source a Kinect in London the same way that the target audience would, by hitting the high street. Similar to the Wii launch stock was sparse, but determined to get a Kinect without pre ordering I found Argos had stock, albeit only a few and only in one store which luckily was local to me. Fellow Gamdo staff G-r0 had alot less luck in his quest to source a Kinect in central London, unable to find a store with stock on day one.

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After collection and mandatory twitter post, I rushed home complete with what felt like the only Kinect in London and began unboxing and setup. This is where Kinect shows signs of first generation technology, teething problems which as a techy I can deal with but I can imagine alot of casuals would find annoying and confusing. To be fair Microsoft has done a great job, getting this technology to market so quickly and providing a reasonable step by step on screen setup process. The main issue which is going to be a huge problem is setup when space is limited, especially in London and other densely populated cities which makes the process a tad frustrating.

Kinect requires 6 feet minimum, only due to reading piles of previews and reviews did I know this. Yes there is a tiny warning on the box but for the average joe buying this as a gift its too late. I can see alot of space issues popping up, and alot of refunds when people realise they just don’t have the room for Kinect. The advertising doesn’t exactly warn you that you need an airplane hanger sized room to play it in, although every scene in the adverts are set in gigantic over-sized spaces which aren’t just there for the wow factor, you do actually need to upgrade your house.

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Setup takes a while but is dam exciting with the sci fi music playing in the background and the anticipation of being in the Minority Report. It’s also dam frustrating even in what I thought was a moderate sized living room. I started with the Kinect sensor in front of the TV, which seems sensible if you have your TV on a bench or stand. The problem is unless you bring the Kinect sensor forward to the edge of the bench it cannot see the floor which is a requirement and will halt your setup progress. Already short on space moving your Kinect sensor further foward will remove more room to play. So I balanced Kinect on top of my TV and began the setup process again. By placing Kinect above your TV you give yourself an extra foot of playing space, which really helps. Ideally you need the official TV mount, or you can make your own like this guy, or you can risk it and just leave Kinect to balance on its own, I chose the latter as I just wanted to play!

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Kinect has its own dashboard or ‘hub’ as its called, which is a bit of a let down. I was expecting to control the Xbox dashboard with gestures and voice but alas this is not possible (yet?). But what this does give you day after day is that pretty cool moment after you turn your Xbox on to say ‘Xbox Kinect’. In a calm and quiet voice from anywhere in your room (or even in the room next door as I accidentally discovered) you can access the Kinect hub with voice, or by waving (a set motion wave not any old wave). Once in the Kinect hub voice and gestures can be used to navigate around. At this point you say Xbox Kinect Adventures and boom, the game loads. It still takes a while getting used to voice commanding your Xbox, not because it doesn’t feel natural, but because it’s so dam cool.

Each time you start up Kinect Adventures you have to run through a short setup process, why it doesn’t remember this each time I have no idea. It is SO important to get this bit right. You have a visual indicator on screen as to what part of the room you are standing in, and it is grouped off into two areas, GOOD and BEST. Standing as far back as I could without landing on the sofa I was borderline between the two, so believing ‘best’ would be best I chose that. Big mistake. The best area was basically where my sofa and bookshelves behind my sofa were, so Kinect kept losing me and my first in game Kinect experience was terrible. My Xbox kept pausing the game and telling me to step back. I can imagine plenty of people have had this same issue with Kinect Adventures, as you are lured into thinking ‘best’ is the best way to play when infact if you don’t have the room you need to play in the ‘good’ area. Restarting the game and selecting ‘good’ changed everything. Kinect Adventures is so much fun.

I’m not going to review Kinect Adventures as a game because I don’t think it is a game as such but more as a technology demo for Kinect, and that it is. Your entire body is tracked, I knew this but I began just standing still waving my hands in awe, slowly discovering I could kick, headbutt and even pelvic thrust the incoming balls. (ed. innuendo?) I then realised I could step left and right, back and forward and all is tracked and portrayed on screen. This is the point when you start to want to upgrade your house, or just clear everything in your living room out the way. Luckily my L-shape sofa is detachable, and now remains unfixed so I can quickly move the L part of it out the way to make room for Kinect. I don’t have a coffee table, coffee is gross, but if you do, move it and any other junk out the way and watch out for overheard light fittings or nearby children otherwise you could end up like this poor kid below or find yourself ripping out your lights Penny Arcade style.

Kinect also has facial recognition, which works perfectly. Spend a few minutes scanning your face from different angles around the room and linking it to your gamertag and as if by magic when you stand up Kinect will sign you in to Xbox Live. Combine this with voice commands and full body tracking this technology is really amazing, Kinect takes us one step closer to Red Dwarfs Better than Life and Star Trek’s Holodeck. And that is exactly what everyone is forgetting, this is a new technology like nothing we have seen before. Most reviewers put me off Kinect with mediocre scores, but the lure of this new tech still made me go out and get it, and I’m glad I did. Kinect has to be experienced, and everyone who has tried it with me is left in amazement at how well it works.

Yes there is a bit of lag most noticeably when you jump, and yes there are setup bugs and space concerns, and yes Kinect Joy Ride does suck. But putting all that aside the technology is so advanced and such a good attempt for first a generation commercial release that I can look past these teething problems, bad games and space requirements, because Kinect really is fun. Even for a hardcore gamer like myself who thought the Wii was a terrible gimmick with low accuracy and crap games, I can highly recommend Kinect.

9/10 Great technology, great fun, just make sure you have the space to play

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Deus Ex Human Revolution at Eurogamer Expo 2010

Some more videos from day 1 at Eurogamer Expo, this time the Eidos Montreal team showing Deus Ex Human Revolution on PS3. I must admit I was seriously impressed with this presentation. The world seems so alive, the city feels like a real hustle and bustle metropolis, with NCP’s a plenty going about doing their own thing, each one with a different look (not repeats ala GTAIV). I think this game will be the one to look out for in 2011, the atmosphere is so deep just watching this demo felt like watching a big budget movie. Enjoy

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Fable 3 at Eurogamer Expo 2010 with Peter Molyneux

Yesterday was a busy day at Eurogamer Expo. I managed to capture the Fable 3 presentation by Peter Molyneux but only now am I getting the videos online.

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Eurogamer Expo 2010 – Liveblog Day 1 Earls Court 1st October

18:23pm – Well that was RAge, no filming allowed so no content apart from this one picture. The day is over so chilling out with Starcraft 2. Will upload all my videos shortly.

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16.36pm – Ok we are back waiting for the ID Software RAGE presentation. My android device is dead, so I’m relying on the shaky wifi up here in the conference rooms.  Patiently awaiting Tim Willits.

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16.00pm – Checked out Starcraft 2 in 3d, it works, well done Nvidia, but I won’t be buying into the tech.

14.05pm – Wow, Deus Ex looks amazing, living breathing city, NCP’s everywhere.

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1.59pm – Deus Ex is up, the presenter from Montreal looks alot like the main charachter

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1.44pm – Nvidia 3d demo is live

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1.15pm – PS3 booting up the Deus Ex demo, and Nvidia 3D demo slides setting up.

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1.15pm – 3D Nvdia glasses going around for everyone.

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1.08pm – The Fable 3 crowd has gone, mass rush too setup stage for Nvidia and Deus Ex.

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12.54pm – Show is over.

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12.49pm – Ico, greatest game of all time per Peter. Setting inspired by Oliver Twist.

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12.40pm – Women in game, aparantly Peter cannot convince his wife to play Fable 2.image

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12.38pm – More inspiration, from another film, Peter watches too many films? Robin Hood this time.

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12.34pm – Kill Bill inspired the fighting in Fable 2. Peter talking about how important one button combat was for him.

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12.31pm – Inspiration from Mad Max 2

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12.28pm – Talking about Fable and transition to Fable 2, lots of concept art.

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12.14pm – Peter is on stage talking.

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12.10pm – Wireless signal is totally dead here, relying on 3G. The show is up, video to follow.

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12.02pm – Seated at the front row, Peter Molyneux walked straight past me, surreal.

11.59am – Just spotted Peter Molyneux walking around, no time to photo him, they are letting us in to get seated.

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11.30am – In the queue for the 12pm Fable 3 showing with Peter Molyneux.. So far checked out Killzone 3 in 3D, which was pretty impressive. Spent most of the short time I had before the 11am crowds arrived on Crysis 2 for PC. It looks amazing, especially compared to the Xbox 360 version which was blurry as hell, and running at a poor frame rate. Even the guy running the Crysis 2 PC stand said to go check out the difference between the two, and how much better PC looked.

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10.45am – Ok made it in!

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9.30am – The day is starting well, stuck on the Piccadily Line 1hour 30mins late for the press queue. More updates to come through the day so bookmark this post for my live blog.

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Eurogamer Expo Survival Guide and What to Take!

Eurogamer Expo is less than one week away, starting Friday 1st October 2010 through to Sunday 3rd October 2010 at Earls Court in London. This year is going to be the largest event EVAR! If you need a reason to drag yourself away from Starcraft 2 for just a day (or all 3) then this is that reason. I must admit even I have been slack since the launch of Starcraft 2, not venturing outside of the internets, I’ve played little else other than SC2 and posted nothing to this blog. But fear not, I am here to offer you a complete survival guide to next weekends Expo, after reading this you will be ready to venture outside and battle hordes of zombies gamers.

First things first you need to start packing, now. Remembering the essentials is always difficult when the excitement of a day trip outside the of the internets is ahead of you. Think of this packing scenario in the same way you tool up in a safe-house in Left 4 Dead. I have prepared my bag in advance, and laid it all out to help you make the right choices, but remember, just like in Left 4 Dead, a med-kit is essential but your choice of other equipment is down to your personal preference.

  • a rucksack – two shoulders are better than one, every geek has a rucksack
  • a laptop/netbook – there maybe times at the Expo that you want to browse/blog or do some general internets
  • beverage – if you have not been to Earls Court before, I recommend you bring your favourite beverage, once you are inside there are no free drinks dispensers ala Half Life
  • oyster card – this is a must if you are traveling on the London Underground, it will let you travel for half the price of paying for a cash ticket, every Londoner has one!
  • reading materials – books, comics whatever, the underground can get very boring and has NO RECEPTION for the internets on your smart phone! I have chosen Scott Pilgram and a Mass Effect comic
  • camera – there will be plenty of celebrities at the Expo, Peter Molyneux (Creative Director, Microsoft Game Studios) and Tim Willits (id Software) to name but a few, so you may geek out and want to snap them
  • sharpie and your copy of Quake 3 (or other game) – did I mention Tim Willits is going to be there! Yes Tim! Willits! He is the guy you see on the Quake 3 time-demo! Get his autograph if you can (or mine if you find me)
  • cash – you may need cash inside, because as with ALL Earls Court events, there is ALWAYS a sweet stand that sells old fashioned sweets, and they only take CASH! Cola Bottles here I come
  • ticket/press pass – finally something everyone cannot afford to forget, your ticket (or press pass if you have been blessed with one, thanks Eurogamer for ours!)

So you’ve packed, now you are ready to fight your way to London Earls Court. If you are going on Friday then do not even THINK about driving. First you have congestion charge as Earls Court is in the zone Monday to Friday, then you have parking which will be NCP extortionate prices and then you have traffic, which means you are missing out on valuable game time. I recommend you get the tube to Earls Court or West Brompton, remember to check TFL website for updated info as there are planned works on the 2nd and 3rd October. The only day you can even consider driving is the Sunday, but you will need to scout around for a single yellow line and remember to double check the signs if you do park otherwise Mr Warden will get you.

Once inside you are pretty much on your own, but do check the Whats On page on Eurogamer’s site so you can plan your day. The highlight for me will be 12pm Friday the 1st Oct as Peter Molyneux will be showing Fable 3, the question is will he have his son with him who may have the answer to Half Life 3? Another big highlight is every day at 5pm Tim Willits himself will be showing Rage, and hopefully Tim, you will be signing my Quake 3 box. Obviously there will be plenty of games on the floor for us to play, I’m looking forward to playing Crysis 2, Fallout New Vegas, Gran Turismo 5 (yes it will REALLY be there), Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and of course checking out all the Indie game stands. By the time you get through all of that, you will no doubt be hungry, all I can recommend is the onsite Pizza Express, everything else sucks!

So look out for us at the Expo, if you find us, then just whisper gamdo in our ears, failing that tweet us @gamdo. Fingers crossed I will have as much photo’s, video’s and live blogging up right here as I possibly can, for those that can’t make it, or I will be playing Fallout New Vegas and have no time, or I will be passed out at the Gran Turismo stand in complete shock that it is actually finished? So look out for the bag in above picture, if I catch you trying to steal it I warn you now, G-r0 knows Kung Fu! See you at the Expo. Team Gamdo

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WRC FIA 2010 Demo, a real rally game

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It was not long ago I was moaning about rally games, yes Dirt 2 was great fun, but it didn’t feel like a real rally game. Yesterday WRC FIA 2010 demo showed up on Xbox Live (where is the promised PC demo?) and now the first thing I’m doing is moaning again. Yes it’s a real rally game, taking me back to the old days of long rides through paper tree countrysides, but all I can think about at first is how bad the menu system is.

It feels like a menu from a Playstation 1 game, so basic, so bland and so boring. Maybe it’s Dirt 2’s fault for full 3D swanky menu’s. But the first impression is awful. The menu is seriously dated, and jumping into your first race you fear the worst, psychologically you are expecting a crap game.

If you can get past this expectation, and even ignore the ageing engine, this is actually a good rally game. I didn’t see a single sole out on the course with me, which is EXACTLY what you want in a rally game, and I certainly didn’t hear Ken Block and chums screaming about how cool they are and what are the latest DC shoes you should be buying. This is a REAL rally game, with realistic damage modeling, so if you smack into a wall on the left (which I just did) expect to lose the front left suspension, duh?

This is just a demo, so maybe the menu will improve? I doubt it, but who cares, real rallying is back albeit hidden away behind the Dirt franchise shadow, which is a shame because I have a feeling this title won’t do so well. The marketing for this has been so low key, I had to hear about it from my casual gaming bro. Searching for details and media on it brings up little info, and good luck trying to find the PC demo that was supposed to be out yesterday (24th September 2010). [update : looks like this site may have the PC demo]

Still I should stop moaning, after all this is what I said I was waiting for right? A real rally game, there is no pleasing some people, especially gamers like me, who always find something to complain about. Writing this has left my Ford Focus idle in the middle of the Neste Oil Rally Finland, and my co driver just shouted ‘why are you wasting time’, nice touch. I better listen to him he is usually right.

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