Friday, 29 June 2012

Meet the Team

With the Pyro update and the "Meet the Pyro" video finally out, we can finally see all 9 "Meet the Team" Videos.

And for convenience sake I shall post them all here. Cos I'm such a nice guy.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

4 reasons that Call of Duty and Battlefield are Copying each other

Majority of FPS players have a pretty good idea on what to expect when it comes to Military shooters...especially when it comes to the yearly staple diet of Call of Duty and Battlefield games (or Medal of Honor on EA's side) that arrive like clockwork every November.

Both franchises have always been different in their own ways, and have always stood apart for a number of reasons, but as military shooters go, both compete for the same online space when it comes to multiplayer.

These distinct differences have lead to a dedicated following of either the one or the other and both sides swear that their game is better.

As everyone knows, Call of Duty is a massive success, and year upon year the sheer number of players flocking to purchase their own copy defies imagination. Battlefield, though not as successful as Call of Duty in sales, has generated a great deal of interest and a particularly zealous following.

Call of Duty has generally prided itself on it's intense close combat and fast and frantic gameplay, whereas Battlefield has always focused on their inclusion of vehicular warfare and much larger environments.

However, at the moment both franchises look to change things up quite significantly and when looking at the successes and failures of may be interesting to note that both seem to be copying the other.

To show where I'm coming from...a bit of a history lesson is in order.

Out of the two franchises, Battlefield was actually the first to surface in 2002, with Battlefield 1942 being the first in EA's acclaimed series. Released after EA's other successful military shooter (Medal of Honor), they had already made a name for themselves in this genre.

Battlefield 1942 was structured as a purely multiplayer experience (local play or online) and focused a great deal on holding strategic points on the map which was at that stage quite unusual for First Person Shooters.

In 2003, Activision released the original Call of Duty which was a purely Single player experience (similar to Medal of Honor) and made it's name by depicting more realistic military scenarios and providing the player with assistance from NPC's within the game as the story progressed.

Battlefield Vietnam followed in 2004, and Call of Duty 2 the year after in 2005. While Battlefield Vietnam retained its focus on multiplayer, the Call of Duty Franchise began to show it's capabilities for multiplayer as well.

Both games were well received and both publishers must have started to realize that competition would remain strong for several years to come.  

In 2006, EA released Battlefield 2142, which surprised many due to it's futuristic setting. In November of the same year Call of Duty 3 was released, which showed a greater emphasis on competitive multiplayer.

At this point potential rivalry's between EA and Activision may have started showing and possibly preceded the open contention that both companies show towards each other to this day.

In the years to come, the Battlefield series began to show more of a focus on Single player with their Battlefield Bad company series, and the Call of Duty franchise took the multiplayer world by storm with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (and is still considered by many to be the best in series).

At this point, November release dates for Call of Duty games became the norm.

The release of Battlefield 3 earlier this year was a much anticipated revival of the core series, with a major focus on what made the original Battlefield series so appealing. Larger environments were once again more emphasized and the graphical engine was updated.

Instead of entirely focusing on multiplayer in their core franchise this time...EA made a valiant (yet unsuccessful) attempt at providing an experience that appealed to the Single Player as well.

Suddenly Call of Duty has a proper competitor again, and although they still dominate the franchise.....they may have begun to sweat a bit about their prospects for the future...

And so now both franchises are now set to start copying the other.....and here are the reasons why:

1.) Futuristic combat

While the Battlefield series did delve into Futuristic Warfare with Battlefield 2142, the Call of Duty series has always remained in the past or present.

The announcement of Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and its futuristic setting was surprising for fans, as Activision (and Infinity Ward - the developer behind the Black Ops series) has a tendency to stay within the less dangerous waters of what they already know. Emphasis has generally been placed on building what is already there.

Black Ops 2 will mark the first time that a Call of Duty game has been set in the future, and puts Call of Duty on par with Battlefield in this regard. 1 for 1.......what happens next?

2.) Close Combat vs Open Warfare

Interestingly enough, while Call of Duty has always been up close and personal involving gameplay, and Battlefield has always prided itself on a larger map which allows for greater strategic decisions......they both appear to be changing their core dynamic in this regard to a point.

On the Call of Duty side, Black Ops 2 has been showcased as being open world (to a degree) - in its single player campaign at least. Focus has shifted to allow you to jump to different units within specific skirmishes to allow for a more open experience.

The choice of which skirmishes you choose to play will ultimately determine the outcome of the war (which will further the developing RPG mechanic behind the previous entries in the series)

No details regarding multiplayer have been revealed yet, but many fans are hopeful that these open choices will spill over.

On the Battlefield side of things, close quarters combat has become a primary focus in their DLC and may end up finding it's way into future entries in the series. The primary example of this is a DLC pack for Battlefield 3 titled "Close Quarters" which has new map modes specifically designed for more close combat gameplay.

3.) Vehicular warfare

Since the very beginning, the Battlefield series has had the added benefit of being able to jump into a vehicle and blast your enemies from a different (and often devastating) perspective. Call of Duty has generally steered clear of this to a larger degree. The occasional stage in the single player campaign or killstreaks in multiplayer did have it to a certain degree...but it never gave you much freedom in when or where you were able to utilize them.

Battlefield always had vehicles available on majority of their maps which could be grabbed at any time. The thrill of jumping into a tank, jet or helicopter to do some heavy damage is second to none.

Black Ops 2 and its more open choice regarding unit selection leaves many of these possibilities open. Video Clips shown of the single player campaign indicate that not only will infantry units be selectable......but vehicular units may be as well. Some of these clips show Air combat, although it's uncertain as to what degree you will be able to navigate them.....the potential definitely exists for a greater degree of control.

4.) Single Player Campaign

Call of Duty has undeniably been impressive in it's multiplayer offerings, but even those who don't have an internet connection still flock to buy the game.

Their Single Player offerings may have been overshadowed by the sheer daunting brilliance of their multiplayer...but in truth, the Call of Duty series has never really dipped in quality when it comes to their single player campaign either.

The Single Player campaign of Battlefield 3 was disappointing, but much of that was due to fans wanting it to measure up to the multiplayer. When looking at it from a larger perspective...Battlefield is set to equal Call of Duty in future releases in this regard...

Truthfully, it's the balance that they should be wanting to achieve...a good single player campaign, with excellent multiplayer. In truth, this is where Call of Duty shines.


These are a few of the ways that both Call of Duty and Battlefield are copying each other in the Military FPS genre.

Short of EA and Activision joining forces to bring us the ultimate military shooter (a pipe dream for certain)....the fact that their competitive nature has allowed them to learn from each other may bring us the same.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Nintendo 3DS : A Double Dose of Demos

Square-Enix has this habit of suprising me at the strangest times. I usually buy their games without too much thought, and if it disappoints I shelve the game and wait for the next one. I'd say their success rate, according to me anyway, is well over 70%. And my anticipation for upcoming Theatrhythm (July 6, 2012) and Kingdom Hearts : Dream Drop Distance (July 20, 2012) has been doubled since I got to play these amazing demos, available on the eStore on the 3DS.

Theatrhythm, an oddly named rhythm game, follows a similar setup to Dissidia. Chaos and Cosmos are at it again and now music is the form of battle. You use the bottom screen to tap, swipe and hold in commands while your units fights in the top screen, which is where you keep your eyes on most of the time anyway. The system is simple, but even on beginner it starts off as a good challenge. If you liked Elite Beat Agents, or more recently Gabriella's Ghostly Groove, then you'll love the gameplay of Theatrhythm. It also breaks down the stages into Battle (where you battle a stream of enemies to the sound of that specific Final Fantasy's battle music), Field (a side scrolling adventure where your aim is to get to the end of the area before the music stops) and Event (which plays special sequences - and was not available in the demo). The controls are very easy and the touch screen is very responsive. If you've got rhythm in you soul then you shouldn't miss this game. Go check out the demo at least, its free up to 30 plays.

Kingdom Hearts : Dream Drop Distance is also available at a "whopping" 15 plays, but it is the shortest demo I've played in my life. If you're already familiar with the Kingdom Heart series you'll skip the tutorial. Controls are pretty much the same and the battle system follows the Birth by Sleep (PSP) setup. You hit with one button, dodge/block with another, and jump with the third. The fourth button is your special skills which, during cooldown, swap to the next one on your list. They can be changed with the d-pad, and you move Sora around with the analogue stick. That aside, you run into the game and meet Neku from The World Ends with You. I love TWEWY and its music and it's awesome to see the contrast between Neku and Sora. I was really looking forward to interacting with him but he doesn't join your party. One boss fight later you're out of playtime.

So even if Kingdom Hearts : Dream Drop Distance left me a little unsatisfied it is very beautiful and left my anticipating for more.  Theatrhythm is also a day 1 purchase for me, but I've always loved rhythm games. The library for 3DS is growing steadily and I'm liking what I'm seeing.

The Pixelcast Episode 9 - The Diablocast....Nuff Said!!!

Welcome to The Pixelcast......where the Writers of Future Pixel get together to discuss the latest in Gaming News, Events, and Developments.

The Pixelcast Episode 9 - The Diablocast.....nuff said by Future Pixel

This Week onThe Pixelcast Episode 9 - The Diablocast.......Nuff Said!!!

  • Diablo 3 - The problematic release, server issues, hacking and first impressions
  • The Rise of the Dungeon Crawlers?
  • The Elder Scrolls Dawnguard DLC
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • E3 predictions
  • New Humble Bundle release
FINAL ROUND!!! - Links on interesting things from the writers of Future Pixel

Wesley - Whimsyshire secret Diablo3 level -
Tamsyn - Devlopers Hell Diablo 3 level-
Dave - What if Diablo 3 was a girl?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

News from E3 that caught my eye: ZombiU

Nintendo and Ubisoft showed off a title for the WiiU at E3 that really caught my eye,so obviously you know this will be about zombies.I haven't been able to find out much about the storyline,other than that the game is set in London.The news on gameplay and utilisation of the WiiU technology makes up for that though.

The thing that really sets ZombiU apart from it's contemporaries,and that really makes me excited to play the game,is permadeath.Thats right.One bite and you're dead.When this does happen - and it will - you don't then respawn as yourself,you come back as a new survivor,and you've lost everything.The up side is that you can then hunt your previous self down and reclaim your backpack and inventory.The downside is that there IS a levelling up system,and when you die you go back to 0.I love me some zombie games,but this aspect alone makes the WiiU and ZombiU a must have to me.There's nothing more thrilling to me than a game that pushes you to perform better,and that's exactly what this mechanic will do.

Although all I've had to look at so far are CG trailers,it looks like this game will use that pretty tablet controller really well.You'll use it to manage your inventory,track zombies,hack doors,snipe,perform awesome finishing moves and shake off any zombie that invades your personal space.But beware,you can't spend ten minutes digging through your backpack and deciding what weapon goes best with your shoes.It's all in realtime.So when you have that tablet pressed to your nose the zombies will be closing in.

Here's hoping that ZombiU lives up to it's trailers and hype,because if it does,this looks to be a heart-pounding,adrenalin pumping thrill ride that won't soon be topped.

And Now for Something Completely Different : Wreck it Ralph

I feel I have mistepped here. I love animation. I love video games. I love John C. Reilly Movies. Why did I not know about this until the E3 trailer announcement. See all the video game references? SEE THEM NOW!!!

Doesn't matter. This is coming out in November. My body is ready.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

E3 2012 - Microsoft Press Conference

E3 kicked off this year with one of the biggest contributors to gaming rolling out the red carpet, and showcasing some of their latest offerings on the Xbox 360....I am of course talking of Microsoft and there are few surprises to be shown this year....though not as many as we would've hoped.

As is to be expected after the many Kinect games showcased at last years E3, Microsoft continues to push the Kinect and to endorse it as a device that can be used for Casual gaming as well as a useful addition to Hardcore gamers as well.

While most gamers are aware of the motion-sensing capabilities of the device, the focus this year was on the voice functionality of Kinect being utilized. Games like Mass Effect 3 and The Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim have already shown us just how well this can be implemented, and Microsoft looks to continue this trend for quite some time.

One of these titles is Ubisoft's upcoming Splinter Cell Blacklist, which sees the return of Sam Fisher in the latest of this popular series of games.

Ubisoft's development team revealed interesting applications of Kinect within their games, such as the ability to call out to enemy soldiers to distract them, as well the ability to use voice commands to call in an airstrike.

EA Sports also showed off some uses for this with their upcoming selection of titles, including Fifa 13 (allowing players to make substitutions, call plays and even argue with referees) as well as Madden 13 (which allows you to shout commands to players and changing routes for players.)

A less interesting announcement made was the integration of Internet Explorer into the Xbox. Not worth an announcement in my opinion. Naturally Kinect's voice integration was mentioned here, as well as using gestures to navigate.

Next up was a slightly different perspective on interactivity, with the announcement of a feature that Microsoft is calling "SmartGlass". A feature that will be released this holiday season, SmartGlass allows you to use your smartphone or tablet (IOS, Android and Windows Mobile) to interact with Movies, Games and Music.

Particularly interesting to note was the application of this in games, with Madden being the main example on show. Tablet users will be able to call plays in Madden, mixing up things in an interesting way. Never mind that this seems a little too similar to a certain Nintendo device showcased this year (The Wii-U), it may prove an interesting addition to how we use our Xbox 360.

Of course, the Hardcore games were shown as well, and some interesting titles were discussed and shown, such as Halo 4, Gears of War : Judgement (which is a prequel to the original trilogy), Tomb Raider and Forza Horizon. A new title by Twisted Pixel was shown (The studio recently purchased by Microsoft who brought us the wacky and brilliant Gunstringer) called LocoCycle.

Other games were shown as well like Ascend : New Gods and Wreckateer, as well as some inevitable Kinect titles like Dance Central 3 and another fitness game called Kinect Training.

While all in all, Microsoft had a decent conference this certainly wasn't as interesting as their offering in 2011, and no incredible surprises were announced. Although mostly due to news of Halo 4 being revealed at E3 last year, and the recent leak of the new Gears of War, Microsoft would have been better off revealing a decent new IP, as the regular barrage of sequels is beginning to wear a little thin.

There was of course the inevitable appearance of Call of Duty Black Ops II.  

No news was revealed at all on a next generation Xbox, but Microsoft had already made that clear beforehand.

The entire 1hr 37 minute conference can be viewed below

Wii U : Majora's Mask Gag

So there I was, minding my own business... and what do I find

The Majora's Mask remake trailer

But before any of you get as excited as I did, know this: It's a fake. A really well made fake. A really mean-spirited, well made fake. Nintendo needs to see the excitement this generated and get a remake for the Wii U going for this game.

The E3 conference is still young at this point. Let us hope for the best.

Wii U : Pikmin 3 Trailer

The Wii U is looking fantastic. Nintendo has discovered the internet, online (and local) play and looks to be getting into some form of the tablet market. I wonder if the short-battery-life tablet controller will have Apps?

Anyway, a nice piece of news is the Pikmin 3 game. We didn't get one for the Wii, for some dumbass reason, but maybe the Wii U won't be for grannies and children and that fabled "family time".

Support for both classic (Wii) controls and tablet controls will be in this game. Glad the tablet hasn't become mandatory... yet.

A Diablo 3 Nightmare

Diablo 3 has launched, stumbled, corrected itself and is now hobble-jogging its way into my most played game since Diablo 2. But it needs to be said... I feel like I'm "faffing' about.  The game starts off simple enough and once you waltz up to the first serious mini boss (name avoided for spoilers) you're not having too much trouble getting through. I even started having friends log on while i motored ahead and had no problem slaying the legions of hell. The loot dropped fine and i pimped out my witchdoctor with so many inteligence boosters minions were dropping left and right. Upon getting to the final act and confrontingthe final boss, I had not yet felt truley challenged. A little disappointed, sure, but the game had brought back that feeling of late night diablo 2 marathons and I'll always love dungeon crawling for loot.

Starting up Nightmare difficulty, the game still felt easy. Until we got halfway through act 1. Then it got a little harder. My minions weren't lasting long and one hit kills weren't happening anymore. Act1 final boss was easy enough but it was annoying I had to resummon so often and I was losing mana fast. Act 2. I began to feel the bite. I remembered from Diablo2 how nightmare level minions encouraged multiplay but this was different. This encouraged me to change my entire playstyle. I stopped summoning zombie dogs and rebuilt my character to cast a lot of spirit spells and mana regen. I started kicking ass again but it required me to think! Not mindlessly running about and occasionally using a fancy skill. Now I had to make sure I wasnt going to die. Luring a group of enemies away and no longer taking them head on, flushing out the weak ones first while stunning the large ones and even using an escape skill.

 I see a lot of upset online about the ease of Diablo 3. All that tells me is they haven't even finished normal yet. I even understand the insanity of Inferno mode makes the game unbearably difficult. But loot has always been a key factor of Diablo and if you crawl every dungeon the loot drops make it wothwhile, even if you dont get class specific items. A shared stash does make up for it though and it never hurts to roll other classes.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

E3 has begun!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

E3 is upon us (starting yesterday as a matter of fact), and the excitement for all the potential interesting announcements has reached a breaking point.

E3 has been renowned for the last several years as the event where all the major gaming announcements are revealed and often displayed for the benefit of reviewers and gamers alike.

All manner of games have been announced already and many are due for unveiling in the next few days.

Some of these games include a new Gears of War title, A new Splinter Cell game, Assassins Creed for PS Vita, a new Super Mario Bros title for 3DS, and of course.......more details for known and anticipated titles like Halo 4, Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and many others.

We will be covering much of well as releasing an E3 podcast special that will give some of our opinions on many of these titles and more as the conference progresses. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Diablo 3 on console? We may find out soon!

Rumors of Diablo 3 being ported to console are nothing new.

Last year, job postings by Blizzard were spotted looking for a "Senior Producer, Console Diablo 3". Earlier this year, Blizzard community manager Micah “Bashiok” Whipple also commented on twitter that the lead designer behind the PC blockbuster hit was leading the Console Project as well.

Although Blizzard shot down any "certainty" of a console version coming to fruition, they were also quick to inform everyone that they were actively looking into the possibility. 

Potential new information may have been leaked today that further encourages the possibility of this being a reality, due to a German Retailer, named Redcoon that has listed Diablo 3 on their site with the PS3 logo on the top of the box art.

No Xbox 360 box art was spotted, but that may be due to current legal issues with Microsoft in Germany over patent infringement with Motoral,...or could even indicate that it will be released on console as a PS3 exclusive.

No-one really knows at the moment.

While, this may be a complete hoax, we may end up seeing more information revealed at E3 this year. Keep your eyes peeled for more information as E3 unravels.

After seeing the successful implementation of Torchlight to the Xbox 360, we at least know that the control system would work well.

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