Monday, 31 October 2011

Resident Evil Retrospect, and it's future on the 3DS


What makes a series like Resident Evil so popular? A story that has been told since the early Playstation 1 era, of shambling zombies, limited ammo and obscure puzzles.

Capcom has diligently added more and more chapters to the ever evolving storyline that has captured the hearts and minds of so many a gamer. But as its stories develop so do the play styles. Even the genre has changed a bit, with mixed reactions from fans. Yet the fan base has continued to grow, along with the games themselves.

But what is the allure? Is it the zombies? They've changed just as much as any part of the game. From shambling horrors to ill-intent cultists who want nothing more than to use you to appease their 'gods'.

Could it be the puzzles? I seriously doubt it. The puzzles shifted away from moving statues and placing gems, to a more "shoot everything that moves until the doors open" style. The removal of complicated puzzles definitely opens up the game to those who...let's say.... prefer guns to do their thinking. I guess with the flood of FPS on consoles Capcom needed to attract the new gaming demographic of kids who go into apoplectic shock if there isn't an explosion or gunshot fired within a range of 5 minutes.

What about the story? On one hand, anyone who's played a Capcom game knows that the scripts are either written by someone who's just watched a weekend marathon of cult classic zombie flicks or, more recently, gung ho action dramas. In other words, they won't be winning anything for most compelling story anytime soon. But this is what hooked me as a fan of the game series. The writing has always been so clichéd, so contrived, that I couldn't wait to find out what would happen anyway.

Being a fan of cult classics, zombie movies, action flicks and even kung fu cinema, I fell in love with the series immediately. Even the later bigger budget games gave off a "B-movie" vibe and that's what I believe holds people's attention. Resident Evil has been around for 3 console generations, and even made appearance on the handhelds. The only other names that have pulled that off usually fall into Nintendo's bag of tricks. So this cannot be attributed to graphics, music, voice-acting (which has some of the most hilariously camp expressions to ever come out of video gaming) or even it's sometimes-awkward control scheme.

I truly believe that our species' love for silly action movies and clichéd adventuring is what keeps this series alive.

So what can we hope to see from 3DS' upcoming Resident Evil : Revelations? Well, The Mercenaries has a little demo which gives off some decent gameplay elements and a good helping to the environment of the game. It still has those action elements of RE 4 and 5, but it looks like it's bringing back the original feel of "OHMYGOSHWHATISTHAT!!!!" empty-your-clip-then-run-for-your-life monsters!

Capcom seems to know that the 3DS has a lot of classic gamers at their disposal, and might bring something new via something old to the table. The action controls of The Mercenaries mixed in with the pants-wetting ambience of the original titles.

One of the things I noticed, though it could be just the demo, was the scarcity of ammo. I hope they keep this in, as this is a sure-fire way to keep the tensions high. Silent Hill as another example not only makes ammo limited, but also make the guns hard to use. Since our Resident Evil heroes are trained professionals we can't expect the same thing. But limited ammo, in confined spaces and hideous beasts?

Play all the fears just right......... and you'll have gamers' hearts pumping and even begging for more!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

10 interesting facts about Role-Playing Games you may not know

Role Playing Games are usually the most time-consuming of all the Video Game Genres. With the general focus being on character progression, leveling,  and the accumulation of weapons, abilities and various magics. From Fallout to Final Fantasy, they have always given us hours upon hours of enjoyment and will continue to do so.
Here are 10 things you may not know about RPGs.


Most Lines of Dialogue in a Single Player Role Playing Game
Fallout New Vegas (released in 2010) takes this title with over 65,000 lines of dialogue. The previous entry in this series of games - Fallout 3, had 40,000 lines of dialogue.


Fastest Selling Console RPG
Final Fantasy X holds the record for the fastest selling RPG on Console. With 1,455,732 copies of the game sold for the PS2 within the first 24 hours alone, this game was one of the best and most highly anticipated in this long-running franchise.


Longest Running Japanese RPG series
One might think that Final Fantasy would be the obvious answer here, but in actual fact the Dragon Quest series has been around for longer. Also developed by Square Enix, the first in the series was released in 1986. In total, this game has shipped over 53 million units worldwide.


Longest Running RPG Franchise
The Ultima series is the longest running RPG franchise, with the first game being released in 1980, and the most recent of the series having been released in 2010 - Lord of Ultima. All in all the Ultima franchise has been around for more than 30 years.


Most Advanced Spell Creation System in a Videogame
Two Worlds II has the most advanced and diverse spell creation system seen in any Video Game, allowing magic users to create 993,654 spell variations for use within the game.


Oldest Voice Actor in a Video Game
Christopher Lee (a Veteran Actor from the UK) is the oldest voice actor in Video Games. Dating back to Ghosts in 1994, his most recent voice-acting for a game was for "Kindom Hearts 358/2 days" in 2009.


Best Selling Action RPG Series
Developed by Capcom, the Monster Hunter series (which has an interesting Co-op Multiplayer option) is the most popular Action RPG series. Although not that popular in the West, the game has always been a massive success in Japan with sales of 11 million units across the 13 titles currently released.


First RPG to feature a Character Import system
A Character Import System allows decisions made regarding a character in one game to be carried over to another. The First Game to support this feature was Wizardry II:The Knight of Diamonds.


Fastest Selling Western RPG
Fallout 3 has sold over 4.7 million copies since it's release, beating the 2 previous games sales combined. During its launch period it generated 300 million dollars in sales. The previous game to hold this title was The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion which was made by the same company - Bethesda.


Most Critically Acclaimed RPG
Mass Effect 2 scored 96% by the review Aggregator site - Metacritic, making it the most critically acclaimed RPG of all time.Second was Baldurs Gate II, and Third was Star Wars:Knights of the Old Replublic. All three were made by the same company - Bioware.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Lollipop Chainsaw - Sexy Zombie Slaying Trailer


Lollipop Chainsaw is the new game from Suda 51 which is due for release next year, and if you're familiar with his previous works (No more Heroes and Shadows of the Damned being the most recent), then you know that his games are more than a little insane.

Lollipop chainsaw takes the cake in this regard, with the story of a California Cheerleader named Juliet Starling who uses a chainsaw to dispose of her fellow school mates who have become zombies. Oh, yes and she has the dismembered head of her boyfriend hanging from her skirt.

The game looks like it will be loads of fun, so keep your eyes peeled for more news. In the mean time check out the trailer below to see just how crazy this game looks to be.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Gears of War 3 review - Last and Best of the Trilogy


Back in 2006 (when I first bought my faithful Xbox 360), I picked up a copy of Gears of War, and proceeded to play it until I thought my thumbs would fall off. This was one of my first purchases on the Xbox 360 that just seemed to hit the right notes every time.

With its gritty approach to combat, and its tense and fast-paced action, it’s always been one of those titles that stand out from the crowd.

And using a gun with a chainsaw?......What’s not to love?

Luckily for me, my thumbs remained attached, and I had a chance to put them to equally good use with Gears of War 2.

Needless to say, I’ve always had a soft spot for this series.

The games protagonist – Marcus Fenix, is one of those characters that speak to the survivor in all of us. Far from perfect, he’s a true warrior at heart and one of the biggest bad-asses in gaming history.

Through-out your fight against the terrifying locust invasion, you’re always made to feel the danger of your situation, and the difficulties that face the dwindling population as you try to save humanity from the brink of annihilation.

With an over the shoulder, third-person view and an incredibly creative cover system, these games have a tendency to keep you on your toes from the start.

Multiplayer has always been a large part of playing Gears of War, and has always made a nice change from the overwhelming amount of First Person Shooters out there that seem all to similar in their approach to Multiplayer gameplay.

Toss in the ability to play the campaign with a friend in co-op and you can start seeing why this game has retained such a huge fan base over the years.

Gears of War 3 was recently released and fails to disappoint once again. This Final chapter in the trilogy is a fantastic finale to the storyline and is undoubtedly the best in the series.

The Lambent (an infected variation of the locust horde first seen in Gears of War 2) have now  taken over majority of the planet Sera where the game is situated, and although the locust are still around, have become the main enemy that you end up dealing with majority of the time.

This adds a greater sense of satisfaction when fighting enemies though, as the Lambent have a tendency to explode when killed.

Graphics have been tweaked a bit with more detail added, and provides a far more colourful and less grey colour-scheme than the first Gears of War.
The Pacing this time around feels a lot less stressful and more dynamic, with certain sections focusing on character development and story progression, giving you a nice break from the chaotic battles that follow.

You can now play through the campaign with up to four players in co-op, replacing the AI controlled team-mates that are with you through the duration.

Some chapters will see you switching to Augustus Cole (or Cole Train) at times, which changes things up further.  

Multiplayer has been tweaked with a few new features and none of the issues that plagued the matching system of Gears of War 2.

While the majority of multiplayer game modes have remained the same, one of the multiplayer modes that did get a drastic change is Horde Mode, which now provides you with income after each kill, allowing you to purchase new turrets, barricades and other defences to aid you, as progressively difficult waves of enemies try to eliminate your team and every 10th wave ending in a random boss battle.  

A new mode has been added, called “Beast Mode” which has you playing the Locust horde trying to kill off humans in their outposts. Every kill earns you currency which can be used to respawn as more powerful locust monsters.

Also included in Gears of War 3 is Stereoscopic 3D which was not present in the pervious titles.

Certainly one of the best games released this year and incredibly well paced, this is definitely one to pick up if you own an Xbox 360 and want an action-packed experience with the option to play with your friends.

9/10

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

10 interesting facts about First Person Shooters you may not know


First Person Shooters are arguably the most popular genre in video games today. (and have been for quite some time.) Although many of us play them regularly, and some even play them exclusively, there are some interesting facts and world records that many of us might not know about.


First Title to sell 1 million copies on Xbox 360
Before Modern Warfare or Black ops, the Call of Duty series was similar to other games with it's numbering, and Call of Duty 2 holds this record for the first game on Xbox 360 to sell over a million copies.


Fastest Selling downloadable content on Xbox Live
The "Stimulus Package" for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 holds this record and was downloaded over a million times within the first 24 hours of it's release. Within the first week of release this package had been downloaded over 2.4 million times.


Longest running FPS series
The Longest running First Person Shooter series is held by Wolfenstein, with approximately 18 years having passed since the first game (Wolfenstein 3d), which was released back in 1992.


First Multiplayer First Person Shooter
This title is held by game developed in 1987 called Midi Maze. It was developed for the Atari ST and was accomplished by connecting consoles via their MIDI ports. It was possible to connect up to 16 players in total, and players were shown as smiley faces which could be shot at with dots.


Longest First Person Shooter Development Period 
The Longest First Person Shooter Development Period goes to...yup...you guessed it......Duke Nukem Forever. Originally announced in 1997, over 13 years passed before eventually being released and in this time was handed over to numerous developers.

First Hand-held First Person Shooter
Before the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS there was the Nintendo Gameboy, and this title is also held by Midi Maze. The portable version had no multiplayer support, instead pitting you against computer controlled opponents.


Most Successful Games Engine
Developed in 1998, the Unreal Engine has had over 208 games released using this as it's backbone. (At least by September 2010) and has been used by several developers over the years.


First Commercially released First Person Shooter
The First commercial release of a First Person Shooter was in 1980 with Atari's Battlezone. Using a simple wireframe design and 3D vector tanks, the game went on to be a success on the Atari 2600.


Most played Online Game
With over 13 million players on Xbox Live, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is still played to this day since it's original launch in November 2007.


First Online Muliplayer for a console First Person Shooter
Released for the Sega Dreamcast on the 24th of October 2000 (after it's original release for PC), Quake III Arena was the first console First Person Shooter to offer Online Multiplayer. Interesting to note that it was possible to connect a Dreamcast to a PC to play against each other.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Team Ico and The Amazing Games

At E3 in 2009,Team Ico showcased a short video for their latest stunning offering to the Playstation altar. It's called The Last Guardian (in English anyway), and it looks like our expectations of Team Ico will not lead to disappointment. However, in order to understand the present, and those expectations, let's take a look into the past at the 2 hits this studio has previously given us...



Ico (the game the team is named after)
Apparently Director Fumito Ueda wanted to create a game based around the concept of "boy meets girll", and thus was Ico born.

Don't let that fool you though as Ico is so much more than a boy meeting a girl...For a start, that boy is the protagonist Ico, he was born with horns, which is considered a Bad Thing by his village, and so he is locked in what appears to be an abandoned old castle. It's in this castle he meets Yorda, and the 2 attempt to escape together.

The actual gameplay is mainly puzzle-solving, interacting with your environment in the right way to open up pathways that were previously inaccessible, and as Ico is a generally athletic kid, this WOULDN'T be too much of a problem if it weren't for Yorda...Yorda is a fragile girl (who actually seems to GLOW), and where Ico climbs chains and easily jumps gaps, Yorda needs a helping hand, or sometimes a helping piece of machinery to move a large block. As Ico you provide Yorda with that helping hand...literally. Ico can hold her hand to lead her around, pull her up to ledges she can't reach, and catch her when she inexpertly attempts to jump gaps. Thankfully, you don't have to drag her around ALL the time. Some puzzles actually require her being left behind for a while, and there is a button that allows you to call out to her to run to you.

It's not a good idea to leave her just anywhere though as there are strange shadow-things that are after her. Although they don't actually hurt Ico, they can knock him back, and then attempt to drag Yorda into the black vortex-like holes from which they spawn,if you don't save her in time from that......it's game over.

First released back in 2001, Ico was recently re-released with Shadow of the Colossus as a PS3 HD pack, and is well worth a look.

Shadow of the Colussus
Shadow of the Colossus was released 4 years after Ico, and is considered its spiritual successor and prequel (although the prequel part is how Director Fumito Ueda feels about the game,not actually story-wise.).

The game revolves around the actions of the protagonist Wander, who is on a mission to resurrect a girl - Mono.In order to do this he must kill 16 colossi.

Easy right?Wrong!

The only tools given to you on this quest are a bow and arrows (which took annoyed button mashing for me to FIND), a sword, and a horse that sometimes steers like a mule (aptly named Agro).In order to find the general location of the colossus you are currently hunting, Wander must raise his sword in sunlight, the reflected light then shines in the direction of your next target.You must then steer Agro, as best you can toward your enemy.

The colossi aren't all easy to find though, and there are some that necessitate leaving Agro behind and venturing forth alone.Each colossi has a vulnerable spot, which you must find and plunge your sword into several times.

And that spot is never somewhere EASY, say......a big toe.No, each new colossus brings a new challenge, requiring you to climb up it and find its glowy weak-point symbol whilst hanging on for dear life.There is a limit to how long you can make Wander hang in any one place though as he does have a stamina gauge. He also has a health bar, and can be killed by falls from high places (high places are also known as colossi).

Some Collosi require the use of your horse, some require imaginative use of the surrounding environment, but all are fascinating and beautifully designed,and although I spent most of my time suspicious of where the instructions on how to resurrect Mono came from, the game was exhilarating.


The Last Guardian
Finally we have the Last Guardian, or at least what we've been TOLD about the Last Guardian. The story in this third title revolves around a boy, who has no name as of yet, and a large griffon-like creature - named Trico.

The boy is trying to escape what appear to be the ruins of a castle, when he runs across Trico, who is first seen with spears and arrows in his back, chained up.Initially Trico is aggressive to the boy, as he is with other characters such as soldiers, but eventually they form a relationship.

The gameplay is billed to be similar to what we experienced in Ico - a combination of action-adventure and puzzle game, however your sidekick in this game is a help and not a hindrance.The player will apparently be able  to use Trico to solve puzzles. Don't think of him as Robin to your Batman though, as Trico continues the tradition of animals with real animal-like behaviour that Agro the Horse started in Shadow of the Colossus. He won't always be biddable or easy to control.

To make up for this, and to make puzzle solving more interesting, you can use his animal characteristics to your advantage - such as releasing a barrel that causes movement and sound and draws the creature to that spot. This may not always be an option however, and you will have to try ASKING Trico to co-operate, which means you actually have to build your relationship with him. The more you have trained him, the more he will obey.

Trico is also said to act as a tool of exploration. Let him go running off on his own in certain places and he will discover new areas for you.

The unnamed boy is initially without a weapon,and the player must use stealth and cunning to sneak around gaurds, or use the environment to defeat them, because if they catch him and manage to drag him away, then just like Yorda and the black vortices, the game is over

The Last Guardian was set to be released this year during the end of the year game rush, but has been delayed to 2012 - Apparently because the Ico Team is is trying to make the levels seem more random and natural.

We can only hope that they mean EARLY 2012,like maybe the 1st of the 1st...

Grand Theft Auto 5 officially announced


Ladies and Gentlemen, Grand Theft Auto 5 has offically been announced on Rockstars website -
http://www.rockstargames.com/

Absolutely no details have been released yet, except for the date of the first trailer (02 November 2011). Keep your eyes peeled more information once the trailer is out.

Minecraft set for Xbox 360 release in Spring 2012


Everyone's favorite game make entirely out of blocks is headed to Xbox 360 in Spring 2012. (and no, I'm not referring to Lego.)

Minecraft was up until now a PC game only, and has been in open beta for quite a while already. (currently at version 1.9.) It has been confirmed that Micecraft's console release will be exclusive to Xbox 360.

Also recently announced, was that it will be playable at Minecon (The Minecraft fan event held in Vegas.) Also, this event will celebrate the Official launch of the PC version that has been a long time in the making.

Monday, 24 October 2011

World of Warcraft - Mists of Pandaria expansion revealed



A new expansion pack for World of Warcraft was showcased at Blizzcon last week. Named "Mists of Pandaria", it will introduce a new race - The Pandaren (a race of humanoid panda's).

Also revealed in the trailer for the expansion was a new class that will be available - The Monk.

Check the trailer above for more information on some of the other interesting features.

Halo Anniversary will have the option to switch to "classic view"


If you were following Microsoft's conference at E3, then you know that the remake of the original Halo:Combat Evolved is on it's way.

Originally released on the first Xbox console, the remade version (titled "Halo Anniversary edition" due to the franchise's 10 year anniversary.) will be available on Xbox 360 and will be released for download on 15 November 2011 on Xbox Live, along with 7 of the multiplayer maps that made the franchise so popular.

An interesting feature included with the game is the ability to press the "back" key on the Xbox controller to revert to it's original graphics. (much like the remade "Monkey Island Special edition".)

This will be an interesting feature for those of us who are nostalgic in nature, and will also show us the differences between the original and the HD remake on the fly while we're playing.

Dead Island For Fun



This is a playthrough of Dead Island's first mission, for fun

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Rage - Blue Line Station 2nd Visit on Nightmare Part 1



Here's Part 1 of a video showing the second visit to the Blue Line Station in Rage played on Nightmare difficulty.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Rage - The Authority Prison on Nightmare Part 2



Here's Part 2 of a video showing how to get through the Authority Prison in Rage, played on Nightmare difficulty.

Rage - The Doom Room



This is a video showing how to unlock and locate the Doom Room in Rage.

Rage - The Authority Prison on Nightmare Part 1



Here's Part 1 of a video showing how to get through the Authority Prison in Rage, played on Nightmare difficulty.

Rise of Nightmares - The First Horror Kinect game fails to impress


For as long as I can remember I have always enjoyed horror games. I still remember playing the first Resident Evil and almost falling off the couch when the first Zombie dog jumps through the window at the beginning of the game.

These moments of heart-pounding tension have generally always defined these games, and there have been several that have managed to do it right.(Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Dead Space are the successful examples that come to mind.)

This is not where Rise of Nightmares falls short, as these moments are constantly present in the game from the very beginning.

However, when it comes to the control system, this game is seriously lacking.

Movement in the game is governed by the positioning of your shoulders for turning, and putting a foot in front of you or behind you for moving backwards and forwards.



Your first thought may be that this sounds like a natural use of the Kinect for movement, but it never feels that way. A controller would been a much better option for this game.

The movement is slow, and mostly unresponsive to your gestures. Changing from one gesture to another is often delayed, and the game doesn't always respond, leaving you extremely annoyed most of the time.

There is an auto-move feature to take you through most areas without having to physically do it yourself, which you end up using most of the time to avoid further frustration. You can just hold your right arm up, and the game will do the rest. This seems like a lazy application of Kinect controls though and almost feels like cheating. 

Combat is relatively enjoyable when you're able to maneuver correctly in front of an enemy (which is difficult most of the time.) Thankfully, you're able to lock on to them if they're close enough, but the melee combat can also be unresponsive, so you end up flailing madly just to get a shot in.

When several enemies are attacking you, each individual fight leaves you disorientated and confused, and you never really know where to move to after each.

You usually end up attempting to turn to face the next enemy, which is a slow process.

There is a large selection of weapons as you continue playing, but most leave you feeling like they could have done more with each, rather than giving you so many. (Quantity over quality seems to be the norm here.)

One would have thought that with the use of Kinect, the game would be given a greater sense of depth and immerse the player in a more realistic experience. Instead, you end up feeling robbed of what could have been an enjoyable experience.

Even interacting with objects makes you feel like you're an old-school point and click adventure game. The game would have been better off if the weapons and objects were automatically picked up.

The story is relatively well structured and definitely keeps you interested, although the characters are badly voiced at times and accents are usually over-done.

Graphics in this game are not up to scratch with most present games, but are tolerable and server their purpose well.

All I can hope is that this game doesn't deter other developers from creating their own horror games for Kinect, as the potential is there if done correctly.

Rise of Nightmares falls horribly short of what it wanted to achieve, and seems like it was rushed for release.

Also, I think I pulled a muscle in my shoulder because of it.



5/10 - A low score due to wasted potential for something that could have been good.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Another new Writer joins the Future pixel team

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome another new writer to the Future Pixel team. She goes by the name of Ruri-Buri, and will be contributing with previews and other gaming articles to the site. She has a love for all games, but has a soft spot for a well told story and good Role-playing mechanics in games. Her preferred platforms are PC, Nintendo DS, and her Nintendo 3DS, but she also plays on her PS3, Xbox and Wii as well, so has a great deal of knowledge to share on all platforms. Feel free to check out her first contribution - Minecraft - Say goodbye to life

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Minecraft - Say goodbye to life



Recently I've gotten myself sucked into Minecraft,an indie,sandbox,building game that first popped up in its classic form in 2009.On the surface it's a wickedly addictive construction game,the only limitations are your imagination (and if you're going for more modern structures your grasp of circuits),but in Survival mode it becomes a good old fashioned Transylvanian race to get to shelter before the sun sets,and the nasties come out for the night.Yes,there are many things in this world that can kill you,your own short attention span being one of them,but as long as you make sure you're armed (it's dangerous to go alone!) you should survive quite nicely.Or at least survive long enough to run back into the safety of the hole you dug...whimpering.

The first thing to do upon spawning in your new blocky home is to gather some resources for yourself so you can get a shelter going,an essential for surviving those long minecraft nights.The only time I've fervently wished for a real change in the game was the first time I started,as the only tip I got was how to open my inventory.After running around for a good 10 minutes clicking things maniacally,I had sorted out that smacking things generally breaks them and yeilds a resource,however it took well into that first night for me to figure out that for some things the trick is to HOLD IN the mouse button, not tap it till my finger fell off.After figuring out the right way to smack a tree and yield wood,I then had to figure out
crafting,because there are certain resources that need to be smacked with specific tools.

One of the things I find completely awesome about Minecraft is how you craft different items.The entire process is completely logical,yet entirely creative all at the same time.The first item you need to figure out is a crafting bench,in itself not a giant challenge as it consists simply of 4 planks (made from wood) in the 2x2 crafting grid provided you in your inventory.From there on,things get more...Interesting.Each new item you need requires you to open that crafting bench and figure out which materials to use to make a shape vaguely like the tool you want.A stone sword,for example, requires a stick topped by 2 cobblestones (a recipe you may want to keep close to your heart,swords are your best friend).
So playing with resources and your crafting bench can take up a few hours of your life,as you discover new and wonderful things to make.Of course,hopefully you've paid attention to your personal needs.

After gleefully playing with the crafting bench for a while,it's time to build a shelter.My personal favourite is to run to the nearest hill or mountain and dig into it.Not only is this the easy approach,as you simply need to dig out a hole in the right shape and not construct actual walls,I also find it convenient for when I inevitably start to mine.If the door to your mine is in the back of your home you never need to go far for the comforts thereof after all.Of course another option is to become all too engrossed in crafting and spend your first night huddled in a dark corner,continuously swinging a sword,but having done this once I don't recomend it.

The other need you will have to attend to is your hunger bar.
This little row of meatsticks shows you when you need to eat,and if you neglect it till it's empty you WILL start to starve.Solution?Go forth and smack a pig!Or a cow or chicken as the case may be.Yes,the animals running around your environment aren't there to simply annoy you,they are there to be eaten.Of course,if you prefer the vegetarian option there are plants that can be grown and harvested too,but this takes much more time.Pigs,cows and chickens,these are your best bet for not starving most of your health away.(Not sheep though,they give only wool,which is not edible)

Having built some tools,made a shelter and found some meat,you will now only have to worry about the multitude of things that can kill you.First and foremost are the mobs,or monsters,they come out at night or spawn in darkness and once they see you,they will kill you,but first,they must catch you!Most mobs must indeed be right up next to you in order to inflict any damage,such is the case with your bog-basic zombie and spider mobs and indeed even with the always annoying creepers, who will attempt to stand next to you and blow up,they're charming that way.Skeleton archers and ghasts (once you've made your
way to the nether) are distance attackers,which means if you didn't hear them coming you will be treated to a sudden fright as you are struck by arrow or fireball.Oh yes,I did say HEAR,most mobs have their own unique sound affect,zombies giving off classic groans and growls,skeletons the clinking of bones.In my humble opinion the creepiest sound so far is the weird giggle-like noise of the ghasts,although they're adding more dangerous mobs to the game in preperation for the official release in November.

And of course,there are the Endermen,these long-limbed black menaces are actually relatively benign,using their time to move blocks randomly around.Until you LOOK AT THEM.That's right,placing your crosshairs on them for more than half a second causes them to freeze...and stare back.After they have cottoned on to your scrutiny you have 2 options,pull on your fighting pants and get ready for a rumble,or not move your crosshairs away...not even 1 pixel...ever.If you mave your crosshairs,the enderman will open its mouth,roar,and teleport toward you.It will then follow you until you die,or it dies,or something else attacks it.There is a silver-lining to this creepy cloud,endermen are hurt by water,so the fast expanding puddle round your ankles has a USE.

For all that the game has a myriad of monsters all apparently thirsty for your flesh,other non-sentient problems to look out for such as the evil fire-water known as lava and creepy sound affects that will have you nervously staring into corners in your own home,it also brings to the table hours (and I really mean AGES) of gameplay.Whether you wish to venture forth and discover great things,build incredible feats of architecture,or tunnel underground for secret chests and abandoned railways.And when you find your world no longer has enough for you to do,there's always multiplayer,which aside from being great fun in itself opens your eyes to new ideas for building and ways to play.Minecraft is truly as great a game
as you make it.

Still creepy though...

Sony Vita gets an Official Release Date


The Sony Vita has finally got a confirmed release date.

The successor to the PSP will be released on the 22 February 2012. Unfortunately, that means it won't be available for christmas, and therefore Sony won't be able to benefit from the holiday season sales.

It also means that Nintendo has a greater chance of really upping the sales of the Nintendo 3DS.

The Sony Vita will be released with quite an impressive line-up though, and looks to be a true contender due to it's graphics and innovative features.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

New addition to the Future Pixel crew

Fellow gamers, I am proud to welcome BentTwig to the Future Pixel crew. An experienced and dedicated gamer, his preferred console is the powerful Playstation 3. He will be contributing to the site with Video Guides and other useful media.  Due to majority of games being multi-console, these guides will provide invaluable information and tips across the board. His contributions will be a priceless addition and are much needed.   

Monday, 17 October 2011

Back to Basics


Lately, I’ve been enjoying all my new Xbox games (many of which I still need to review),but on Sunday morning the unthinkable happened.

I woke up to find that my TV had given up the ghost. I tried several times to switch it on…..but….no power….nothing.

Of course, it’s not the end of the world, but this is where my Xbox 360 is connected, so it meant that my day of gaming was about to be horribly ruined.

Rage, Gears of War 3, Forza 4, Rise of Nightmares, Monkey Island and Gunstringer would have to gather dust for a few days and I didn’t like that idea one bit. There was still so much to do.
 
Oh well, you make do with what you’re dealt. Such is life. I'll still be doing reviews on these games soon, but it'll have to wait.

I guess I could have played on my PC, but I decided instead to pick up my Nintendo 3DS and give it some much needed attention. I had left it sitting Idle for a week or two and it was time to spend some quality time playing it.

It’s times like this when having a portable console is very useful.

Over the last few months I’ve accumulated the occasional game off the Nintendo E-shop, and there were a few DS games that were begging to be played, so I picked the most comfortable spot I could find and proceeded to take a trip down memory lane.

Even though at the time I would rather have been playing Rage or Gears of War, the fun factor of these old-school games made for a nice change and a surprisingly fun-filled day.

I’m not sure why, but I started out by playing Tetris. (don’t judge me, ok.)

Then I played a few hours of Mario Bros (The original) and was transported back to my earliest days of gaming where once upon a time gameplay took precedence over graphics.

I was reminded again why I started playing games in the first place. It wasn’t realism, graphics or explosive action. Nor was it levelling up or acquiring massive guns to shoot things with.

It was the pure unadulterated fun of jumping on a Goomba’s head or shooting a tiny fireball that bounces around.

After an hour or two of this, I started to play “Luminous Arc”. This game is structured on the same lines of one my first, and also my favourite original Playstation game – Final Fantasy Tactics.

A few hours of playing, and I had successfully turned back the clock. I was steadily progressing through my gaming years again, slowly but surely, and loving every minute of it.

I played a few other games, none of which would be considered a hardcore game by any means.
This led me to think about the current gaming market. Although there are many games that we spend hours on, much of the fun we had when we first started gaming has fallen by the wayside.

This is not really the fault of the developers, or the console manufacturers, because those types of games are still being released. (There has been a massive resurgence of platform games and Puzzle games over the last few years - Particularly as downloadable content on the different consoles and on the Apple store.)

In truth, the fault lies with us as gamers. We’re so concerned with playing the hyped up sequels and graphically beautiful games that we sometimes forget about the simple joys we used to experience.

Nintendo’s focus has always been fun, and if you ever played any of the Super Mario Galaxy games, then you’ll know exactly what I mean.

With this perspective in mind, Nintendo can almost be forgiven for mostly releasing games like this. Perhaps they’re not catering for mostly children only, as you might have thought.

They could be trying their best to keep us playing games that are fun, and not overcomplicate them giving us a nostalgic trip back in time.

Maybe….just maybe….their target market is the child in all of us.

That's definitely something to think about before writing Nintendo off entirely.

Friday, 14 October 2011

We are Gamers, and Our Time has Come



So, to start off...just to let you know....this will not be your run of the mill article.


Ok, now that we've got that out of the way, let's get right to the point.

I am a gamer and I'm proud of it. No-one can tell me otherwise, and to all my fellow gamers......you should feel the same way.

There's certainly enough of us out there to be heard.......And our numbers are growing.


So here's a special message for all non-gamers who are reading this - 

Gone are the days when gaming was attributed to nerdiness and social ineptitude. We now come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and genders, and we walk past you in the streets every day without you even knowing it.

Millions upon millions of us are online every day playing games against people across continents. Millions more are secretly going home to play their games after a hard day at work.

There are over 33 million of us in the UK alone. (Think a bit on how small the UK's population is compared to the rest of the world and you start getting the idea.) 

And no, we're not coming to get you.......we already ARE you. There is no need to fear us, because one of these days you'll be joining us.

We hold massive tournaments that are now referred to as E-sports, and these events are televised across the globe, with massive pay-outs to the winners. 

There is a reason that the gaming industry has surpassed all other forms of entertainment in popularity and profit. It gives us a break from the rest of things in life that are stressful, boring and mundane.

Of course, the interactivity involved means that we're no longer watching a hero in our favourite movie......we're ordering him to do our bidding so that we can get the results WE want, because WE pull the strings.

We are the most passionate people you will ever meet, and I have personally been responsible for the sale of many consoles to friends and family by sharing that passion. (previous non-gamers included.)

I will continue to promote the best source of entertainment ever made, so to all non-gamers out there reading this..............see you soon.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Gunstringer - Most worthwhile Kinect game yet


Every now and again a game comes along that blows you away when you least expect it. A diamond in the rough that goes beyond anything you've seen or heard of it.

Gunstringer is just such a game, and to be very honest, I'd heard very little about it except how great a Kinect game it was supposed to be.

I wasn't sure exactly what the gameplay entailed, and I was equally in the dark as to why everyone was saying it was so good. My attention was mainly focused on other titles at the time and all news regarding it mostly passed me by. 

So on a whim I decided to purchase it to see why it was supposedly so good, and from the the moment you start the game it fails to disappoint.

Gunstringer puts you in the role of a Manipulator (Manipulator being the official term for what we would think of as a puppeteer) who controls a Marionette by the name of The Gunstringer.

The game starts with an audience watching from the seats of a theater, while the main role of the lead "actor" is manipulated by you. What's interesting about this unique approach to story-telling is that the audience remains a part of the story the entire time and is regularly shown watching while the narrator weaves his tale. The audience claps, cheers or boos depending on how well you're playing, and even the level of skill at which you progress is shown by a critics review at the end of each level.

If this sounds boring to you, you'd be very wrong, as the story is brilliantly thought out with it's take on the Wild West theme where the hero comes back from the dead to take on his old posse who betrayed him.

Each villain is well though out as well, with the first boss making me laugh due to the absolutely ludicrous and obvious name coupled with the ominous tone for a boss that you would think totally harmless. The boss's name is Wavy Tube man, like what you might see outside a shop. (The picture on the right shows what I'm talking about.)



Gameplay is an interesting mixture of on rail shooter and platformer with your left hand used for moving left and right as well as a quick pull back of your hand for jumping. Your right hand is used purely for aiming and shooting with aiming locking on to numerous enemies followed by a quick pull back of your right arm to shoot.

Obstacles such as rocks and cacti make maneuvering around more difficult and when you begin to see a large human hand in the background rolling rocks toward you, you're once again reminded that it's a play that you're in for the amusement of the audience.

Certain sections provide you with cover, where the movement of your left hand determines when you come out of cover to shoot, and on which side, while other sections have you use both hands to shoot at enemies at the same time.

These are some of the unique ways that Gunstringer mixes gameplay up to keep things interesting and unique. The controls take a short while to get used to but are very responsive, and eventually become second nature while playing.

Although the game is not heavily in the spotlight due to all the other sequels and heavy-hitters being released lately, it is certainly the best game for Kinect I've seen so far, and for those of you who haven't jumped on the Kinect bandwagon yet, it just might be the time to do so. (Yes, this game is that good.) I'm hoping this game does well, and doesn't get overlooked by the masses.

A brilliantly unique and innovative masterpiece, this game warrants the first use of a decimal point in my rating system, and would be a wise purchase for Hardcore and casual gamers alike.

9.5 / 10

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Exploration and Dragons


The Elder Scrolls games have been around for a long time and from the very beginning have provided the player with a massive playing area and an immersive Role Playing experience focused on making your own choices.

In fact, it's interesting to note that the record for the largest land-based game area is still held by The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall with a total area of 163,492 square kilometres. (roughly the size of two Great Britains.)

The same game also holds the record for largest number of Non-player characters in an RPG with a total of 750,000.   

Set on the fictional continent of Tamriel, they have always been at the pinnacle of fantasy RPG's and always extremely time consuming. (one of the only single player games comparable to an MMORPG in the amount of time needed to discover all content.)

I played the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for many hours when it was first released in 1996. I'm sorry, I think I may have used the wrong phrasing of words there. Did I say hours?.....I meant Days.

Back then, the game was taxing on your hardware to say the least, and even though my PC struggled to handle the graphics at the time, I played it anyway......alot.

Even when I'd finished with the main story arc I continued to play, and with the constant string of mods and additional user generated content there was never any shortage of new things to do.

On the 11th of November this year the fifth installment (named Skyrim) is released and unlike the previous game will be released on the same day on all platforms. (PC, Xbox 360 and PS3).

When the game was showcased at E3 this year, the line to play the demo on display was staggering to say the least, and the response to how it's shaping up is huge, and after what I've glimpsed of the game...is not surprising.

Once again you'll be thrown into a vast and now immensely varied landscape with more cities, towns and locations than ever before. 

All options on how to play the game are left solely for the player to decide. Feel free to style your character to only use magic if you want or maybe only weapons or even a sneaky rogue with daggers and the occasional pickpocketing. With the new addition of being able to dual-wield different weapons or skills for each hand, the possibilities are endless.


It's all up to you, and as you travel around the beautifully crafted world, the options and quests provided to you will begin to unfold. (the map was recently leaked on the internet and although all in Russian is probably worth taking a look at. - http://thegamershub.net/2011/10/skyrims-map-arrives-in-russian/ )

Skyrim will also be home to Dragons, who have previously never been present in an Elder Scrolls game except for in the lore.

These dragons are the main element of the story, with you being the last of the dragon born. What this means is that when you defeat the dragons, you will be able to utilize their "dragon-shouts" which are magical attacks which can be used to devastate your foes.

Dragons will be able to attack you in any location (including the main cities) which will give the game a greater sense of action than previously.

Like in the previous game, there will be numerous races to choose from and also numerous factions to join as you play. Professions like Herbalism will be returning and you will be able to have different jobs to earn money.

Bethesda was also responsible for the hugely successful Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas and they intend to incorporate some of these elements into the gameplay and levelling. Perks will be introduced like in Fallout and you will be able to choose specific abilities after levelling up on top of your existing upgradeable ones.

Some enemies look to be much larger than in Oblivion and aside from the Dragons, Wooly Mammoths have been shown and some very nasty looking Ogres as well.

Graphics look spectacular to say the least, and like in Oblivion it will be tempting to stop and look around at the scenery every now and again. Of course, that may prove to be a bit more dangerous this time.


I've already warned my girlfriend that much of my time will be taken up after November in playing this game, but she understands and will probably be playing it with me as well. 

Starfox 64 3DS - Review and Opinions



Ah, Starfox. You have graced many of us with hours upon hours of dogfighting, landmaster missions and even some questionable 3D platforming. It's about time you showed up again on a more modern platform. Too bad you're a port, but beggers can't be choosers.

The thing about Starfox 64 3DS, is it feels more like Nintendo is testing the current market. Whether or not they'll accept Starfox, but I don't feel they did it with success in mind. This game is great and a lot of fun, as is expected of the Nintendo franchises. Nintendo recreated it beautifully, and the 3D works wonders on it.

Sadly, you can only choose between the motion controls or the 3D, but I opted for the 3D as it gave me better accuracy when shooting. When I did fiddle with the motion controls, however, it was a ton of fun. The perks for 3D (for me), however, were just more appealing.


That's all Nintendo brings to the table for Starfox 64 3D. No new modes, no online multiplayer, no extra hard settings. Just the old game with a couple of 3DS features. However, this game is still better than a lot of the release titles, and has a charming old school feel to it. Limited stages, limited lives and split second decisions to have the chance at seeing everything. Question is, will that appeal reach the younger demographic, and will that then give Nintendo the push to bring out a unique 3DS Starfox experience? I guess we'll have to see what they do with Ocarina of Time's success first.

The gameplay of Starfox can be likened to any shoot-em-ups, or schmups, and if you like those type of top-down-blast-the-sky-full-of-bullets games then you shouldn't give Starfox a miss. The game play is simple to get into, but as with most Nintendo titles, very hard to master (and show off with). Aiming at an ongoing battalion of enemies with the same stick you use to move, while still collecting power-ups and protecting your crew will give any 'hardcore' gamer a nice little challenge. Some rewards or in-game trophies would've been nice but Nintendo seems to be adamant about staying out of that system.
Graphically, the game is mixed. The space travel, planets and aircrafts are beautifully rendered with a nice frame rate that keeps the action going while still looking good. The characters however look a little plastic and there's no mouth synching, only flapping jaws. And to be honest, the voice acting should have been redone rather than re-used. In other words, it's B-grade terrible - which isn't always a bad thing (see Resident Evil 1). The stage music and sound effects, however, are not terrible and have done a great job of being updated. Using headphones is recommended for an enjoyable experience.


One of my favourite Nintendo franchises slowly making a comeback, which I hope will be successful. Not adding any unique extras to the package, except for motion controls and 3D - which is to be expected of a 3D motion controlling device - doesn't give any bonus points. Probably not a bad idea to wait for a price drop, but never a bad idea to support something if you want more of it.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Tale of the Console War - Part 1


Once upon a time, upon fields of gaming……
there arose the three consoles who  have no need for naming.

One made by Nintendo, their story retold.
Another by Sony, a sight to behold.
The Third was by Microsoft, a marvel as well.
And by each there were tales that were needed to tell.

The people were awed and loved all that was shown.
The games that were played were beyond what they had owned.

And so they did prosper with all that was given,
As they loved their new games of which they were now driven.

Then there was peace, if only for then.
but each console desired for all to love them.
  
The console’s would argue and bicker and fight,
as if sales and figures were all that was right.
  
The gamers took sides and shouted with zest,
“My console is better, it’s games are the best!!!”

With swords, guns and mushrooms they  battled for land,
But the gamers were equal…controllers in hand.

The consoles fought hard, just as hard as they could.
But the games came to life to fight for what’s good!!


All the players were there as one would expect,
But the game characters awakened to fight for respect.

The battle begins and will last a time still,
So thus we must wait……for it’s time to fulfill.  

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Rage - Post Apocalyptic Mayhem from the Masters of FPS


As we all know, there's a lot of first person shooters that have been released this year.

I seem to be reviewing more of them than anything else lately, and even more are just around the corner.(I'm certainly not complaining though.)  

One in particular has caught my attention more than the rest though since it's original reveal at Quakecon in 2007. In fact, I'm frothing at the mouth I'm so excited to play this game, and with good reason. (ok, slight exaggeration......I very rarely froth.)

I am of course talking about Rage, the new game from ID Software. 

For those of you in the dark as to why I'm so excited for this game, these are the guys that single-handedly created the first person genre. Remember Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake.........Yup.....those guys. (For a treat, read the book "Masters of Doom" to learn how John Carmack and the rest of ID Software came to be where they are today.)

It's been 15 years since they've released an entirely new Franchise. (The last being the original "Quake" way back in 1996.) This alone is enough to get excited about, as they are absolute geniuses when it comes to Graphical brilliance and gameplay.

The game is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland after an asteroid hits in 2029, wiping out civilization. The player was protected from this event in an underground shelter and cryogenic capsule known as the Ark, and awakens to a very different and very hostile world. Although the ark in which he finds himself was one of hundreds, he appears to be the only survivor.

Rage integrates first person shooting with vehicular combat, and although this has been done before in a similar type of setting (like in Borderlands), it looks to be far more beautifully and realistically designed and vehicular combat will be prominently featured in the game.
 
Gameplay will consist of light RPG mechanics with an inventory and the ability to swop out ammo for different weapon effects, as well as weapon customization. Vehicles will also be customizable with unlockable items becoming available after races.

Side-quests will be prominent within the game, with well-designed and unique characters dishing out quests and rewards to bulk out the gameplay and develop your character.

Of course, many of them will have their own agenda's and will only be assisting you for their own gain.

Needless to say, these are all welcome additions, but will not interfere with the core action of the game. Tim Willits - the creative director of Rage (and incidentally an avid modder of the original Doom before joining ID) has repeatedly confirmed that Rage is primarily a first-person shooter, with all other elements being secondary.


Weapons look to be brutal and highly satisfying to shoot, with gruesome and challenging enemies constantly threatening you from every corner.

Multiplayer is present of course, with two major play modes. (Combat Rally and Legends of the Wasteland.)

Combat Rally is a free-for-all deathmatch style mode with the use of vehicles, while Legends of the Wasteland looks to be a series of Co-operative missions based upon existing single player missions from within the game.

I must admit that from the screenshots and trailers I've seen of this game, it looks to be one of the most beautifully designed games to be released in a long time.

Rage is released at the end of this week, and I can personally guarantee you that it'll be something special.

  

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Dead Island - Tropical Paradise / Zombie nightmare


Walking casually along on the beautiful island of Banoi in Papua New Guinea, I paused to take in some sun and appreciate the beautiful tropical paradise with it's palm tree's and stunning beaches. Enjoying it's spectacular views and relaxing atmosphere, I was in absolute heaven.

Aside from the soft breeze, there was still that strange breathing noise far in the distance I had thought I'd heard earlier.

Oh, well. I was almost sure it was all in my head.

I sat at one of the many bars on the island and began sipping on a Pina Colada, enjoying the sound of the light splashing of the water in the pool, and the calm movement of the waves in the distance.

There it was again.

It was louder now, but I still couldn't figure out exactly which direction it was coming from.

Never mind though. I'm on holiday to relax, so why worry? It was strange though that no-one else was around.

Suddenly, with no warning at all, I was attacked by a ravenous flesh-eating zombie trying to claw my face off. It was beginning to make sense now as to the disappearance of everyone...everyone alive at least.

So now my heart was racing, I was terrified and had just gotten the biggest shock of my life.

With the Zombie trying it's absolute best to bite and claw at me while I tried desperately to hold it off, I began to realize that I'd now spilt my drink.

Now I was pissed off.....so I grabbed a loose plank lying on the ground and began to fight back.

Welcome to Dead Island.

Everyone loves Zombies. They're scary because of their underlying human appearance and the terrifying notion of  becoming one of them with just one bite.

As a matter of interest, Dead Island is the first Zombie game that I've ever seen that even mentions that you have an immunity to the disease. Every other Zombie game I've seen never even hints at it.

Dead Island is an open-world First Person game that has light RPG elements and a fantastic multiplayer component that makes it a clear winner for one of the best zombie games of all time. Think of a cross between Fallout 3 and Left for Dead in a tropical setting.

Unlike the constant string of zombie games that came before it, the setting is not claustrophobic. Neither is it as monotone in it's color scheme as most of the games before it. The closed off corridors and tight spaces of Resident Evil are almost nowhere to be found here. Instead, the settings in the game are often very relaxing and exotic, and strangely adds to to the sense of terror when being attacked by several zombies at a time.

Most of them are clothed in Bikini's and Board short's which is quite fitting when it comes to the holiday Island setting.

The focus on the game's combat is melee, and guns are very difficult to find. The majority of the combat is up close and personal, hacking and pummeling like crazy to survive. This makes combat incredibly intense and visceral and also extremely satisfying and brutal.

The game is designed for multiplayer, and has four characters to choose from - Each with their own story arc, specialty in weapons and skill tree to upgrade. The game can be played Single player, but is best when played with friends online in co-op.

Strangely, the game does not have a split-screen mode, which would have been a great addition and would have further enhanced the multiplayer aspect of the game.

The RPG side of the game is quite simple, but adds a fantastic touch to the overall experience with a simple levelling system that is enjoyable, but not overbearing.

Weapons can be upgraded and repaired to give greater damage, and new weapons can be crafted from the numerous odds and ends that you pick up on the island.

The Zombies themselves are unique in that they do not have a set movement speed. Some walk, some jog, and some sprint at full speed towards you giving a great deal of variety in the amount of panic you feel. There are also different types of zombies to fight later which keeps things fresh.

The game is filled with fetch quests and the like, which could have been a bit more varied to be honest. However, the world itself does make up for this in small ways, with the zombies and settings keeping the game interesting. The story is relatively basic, but decent enough to keep you interested.
 
The map is quite large and takes a long time to travel, with zombies constantly respawning in locations to make sure to keep you on your toes.

Dead Island is a very well-rounded game with lots to do, and a lot of scares to be had.

8/10
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