A Gremlin in the Works, a book by Mark Hardisty

I grew up in a golden age of gaming, an age that even now we look back at with rose tinted pixelated vision. There are times I wonder why I missed out on some late eighties pop culture, but now I’ve remembered.

I had different Rockstars to my peers – they were magician-like programmers, my posters where full-page game adverts torn from magazines and most of those memories come flooding back when I leaf through this book.

I say book, it’s actually two. Two beautifully presented (in a display box) hardback books weighing in at around 600 pages of fascinating interviews, images and excerpts from the world of Gremlin. It’s a shock to see the salary of a programmer thirty odd years ago.

Continue reading

Destiny: A Hate/Love Story

I love first-person shooters and my all-time favourite series in the genre is Halo. So, by extension the minds behind the combat mastery in Halo, Bungie, are my favourite developer…..or at least they use to be. In 2014 when they released their ‘next big game’, Destiny, and I was all a quiver. Bungies swansong from Halo, ‘Halo: Reach’ was stunning. Then all had gone quiet from my beloved Bungie for a few years until BOOM! Destiny was teased in early 2013 and I lost my shit.

Watching that, Bungie were talking a big game. Both literally and figuratively.

All the way up to release, Destiny was bit of an unknown, but the rhetoric from Activision and Bungie leading into the 2014 launch was that of a huge first-person shooter. With a sweeping story, amazing actors and a players ability to blaze their own trail in the stars. Suffice to say…..I WAS ALL IN! Let’s add it up- Massive money from Activision, Bungie talent, Sci-Fi setting, Co-op gameplay, Epic mysterious story! Everything was there for Bungie to rule the gaming world.

Destiny_20161023174808 Continue reading

EB EXPO 16, LiveBlog

logo_eb2016It’s 2016 and we embark once more to Sydney’s Olympic Park (maybe Brisbane next year guys?).

This should be an interesting collection of thoughts as the day goes by in a blurry exhausted haze.

Remember to read from the bottom up.

 

17.33

Skylanders Imaginators, making amends.

image

Had a play with Imaginators and while it may just another Skylanders game it is fair to say that they are bringing something really new this year.

Forgetting the vehicles of Superchargers, Imaginators lets you build your own Skylanders from hundreds of options.

So, the traditional figures are pretty much bunk. Time to throw Creation Crystals into the mix, but here’s the rub. Once you create a character it’s pretty much locked to that crystal, some people won’t like it, but I don’t mind. It makes you think about the strategy of building your ultimate Skylander and probably being priced around. .99 cheaper than the figures of 2015.

The crystals are elemental based and give access to base body types, then you can dress them up with unlockable skins and weapons. I like the system, it’s breathing life into the franchise. There will be Sensei figures that will add upgrades and experience to your creations, so there is still the need to gather some of the new batch plus you will be able to introduce your old characters too.

After that it’s a classic Skylands adventure, platform and smash and level up, with a few experience earning gizmos thrown in. In fact the selfie mode is more appealing than the Dead Rising one.

Back to Skylands? Yes please, sign me up.

15.43

Driveclub VR hands on.

PlayStation Stand EBExpo16

Ok, managed to get into a quiet slot and jump behind the wheel of some Driveclub VR and it was awesome.

The depth of field is nice with a floaty 3D effect, the response time of the visor to the screen is good enough. Not forgetting this is a mass market product for the home. And the immersion just got me straight off the bat.

The race started and I was driving, really driving, while the VR and sound did a lot for that you have to credit the steering wheel and force feedback with som of it. Regardless, I’m so in – even with a minor problem. I am somewhat myopic and not wearing glasses with VR doesn’t work for me. As such my varifocals struggled to keep everything in focus, I may have to resort to contacts and that’s my excuse for hitting a few walls, even if I did manage to bash my way to the front and win.

VR 10 mins in? Yes please.

14.20

Hands on with Steep.

image

Steep is a mountainous playground for thrill seekers in the snow.

What more do you need, the demo offered all types of the 4 sports on offer. Controls are pretty intuitive and the visuals are really quite breathtaking, if a little white.

I jumped onto a snowboard eager to relive some1080 style skills, which almost got there, but ended up being more of a Snowboard Kids wipeout.

I might not manage being the fastest on the snow, but love the Wingsuit and Paragliding for some nice views.

14.12

So, Phil Spencer the actual Head of Xbox came to Sydney and addressed the crowd. I have to admit initial scepticism, but the man sells a genuine story his focus is the community and exploring the best future for his brand.

I have to say I was won over by his no nonsense approach along with the rest of the crowd. The message is clear Xbox might not be launching into VR this year, but they are laying the foundations for the future.

The line up of recent and future games looks strong, Forza started the session along to the tune of “I don’t want to fall in love” – the game obviously has other ideas. It’s stunning and the social aspects or Blueprints that were demoed are a step up.

Follow that with an enthused showing of Dead Rising 4, even though it’s hard to forget the failings of the series back in my 360 days.

Gears of War looked shiny and exciting, returning to an older Marcus is the draw for me, but being without Xbox – it can likely wait.

As for the hardware, the recently released XboxS looks very nice in the flesh, more compact and sexy. However the chat was all about the Scorpio which will be raising the bar come 2017.

Now, where’s mister Spencer – I need to ask for an Xbox handheld…

10.39

Popping Corn Theatre
Phil Spencer and Xbox presentation – imminent.

10.02

Farming Sim

Strangely quiet over here….

09.56

Hands on with Tombraider PS4.

Yes it’s been on the XB for a year, but this is the first time I have had a play and it look terrific. The weather effects (I was in a blizzard) are top notch and it feels very familiar to the recent reboot, amongst other third person leaping adventures.

My only concern after 5 minutes was Lara’s relentless internal monologue…

09.54

PlayStation Stand EBExpo16

It’s been a long day so far, waking late and racing for a plan, 4 trains and now an hour into the show. I need coffee and bacon STAT.

First impressions, the show is loud and full of hands-on experiences as usual, but exhibitors do seem a touch thin on the ground. Sony have the majority of real estate with a heap of VR hands-on and queues to match, not forgetting CoD and Skylanders, as they brought Activision and partnered with Warner too.

With Battlefield 1 weeks away the absence of EA is noticeable, Ubisoft and Xbox have hefty stands while Namco/Square and 2k are present. 2K with their Mafia 3 inspired movie theatre.

Bethesda have a big Dishonored 2 showing, More on that later.

A day in the life of the #EBExpo15 (live-ish-blog)

EBLOGO2015It’s time for the annual mission to Sydney, an early start followed by a redeye flight, a few hours on the show floor and time to chat with some like minded people while poring over this years exciting new releases.

The plan is to hit this post up with a story of the day, so let’s see how it goes.

Continue reading

2 Weeks and counting… #EBEXPO

EBLOGO2015Just under two weeks before the doors are flung open at Sydney’s Olympic Centre for EB Games and their now annual extravaganza. We might not have an event of E3 calibre, but its a great way to give the industry a pre-xmas hype right on the cusp of Silly Season, also known as the October to November release window.

With hands-on demos galore and the chance to spend time with the occasional developer the show is well worth a visit for anybody remotely interested in seeing what’s around the corner.

Latest press release follows and a few appetite whetting videos.

Continue reading

#EBExpo2014

Christmas comes but once a year, so does the EB Expo.

EBEXPObanner
We may have PAX in Australia, but we don’t have an E3 so EB have done a great job creating a beast of a show split across Trade and Public days, giving themselves some terrific retail opportunities and allowing the games industry somewhere local to flex their presentation skill(z) and queue management muscles.

This is the fourth year for the Expo and my third, every year it seems bigger, brighter and better constructed. It is a veritable buffet of game related fodder that offers something for everybody.

Continue reading

TGS, Sony and a Vegan

TGS_bannerIt was a bittersweet experience getting an invite to the Sony press conference at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, but then I remembered fellow Kiwi Ben (living in Japan) was actually going to attend, so we managed to get him queue-jumping instead. Here is his takeaway from the weird and wonderful world of gaming in Tokyo…

Wow. I am still reeling from the mind boggling amount of awesomeness I bore witness to at this years Tokyo Game Show. The new generation of consoles may have been slow off the mark in terms of games, but the drought is nearly over!  I don’t have enough space to go into every game I saw, so I will run through my top picks of the show.  Continue reading

The biggest line up ever announced for this year’s EB Expo!

EBEXPObannerOur own homegrown mini-E3 is hoving quickly into view and having missed out on last year’s trip to Sydney, I’m actually getting quite excited…

EB Games are thrilled to announce a huge line up of unreleased games will be making their Australian debut at this year’s EB Games Expo. The EB Expo 2014 will be held at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, October 3 to 5. For tickets go to www.ebexpo.com.au

Full press release after the break… Continue reading

Talkin ’bout my last generation…

I’m behind the times, I picked up my next generation PS4 a week after everybody else due to personal circumstances, and now it’s there under the TV beckoning me, my thoughts turn to the last generation. The highs and lows, the brave new worlds, the absolute disasters and how they sat alongside my life.

Minecraft_packshotXCOM-packshotBioshockInfinite_pack

Some people like to look back at the last 8 years of gaming be it on the xbox 360 or PS3 picking out the games that they remember, well we can do that, in fact we will do it and no doubt they will one day be vogue retro memories to be relished. This was however a big chunk of our lives and I like to remember what I was doing living alongside these great games.

Continue reading

Back to Karkand, BF3

Christmas came and went, but Battlefiled3 is still going strong.

The meaty 2gig update and download delivered in December brought many updates, ten new weapons, three new vehicles and access to some new, beloved and reimagined maps from the Battlefield universe.

These maps, unlike map packs in other games have the ‘new shoes effect’, once you have tried the new maps the old ones seem stale, tired and worn out. Whereas other games that offer map packs often lack the impact that Karkand has delivered. Continue reading