World destruction comes in small shrink-wrapped packages...

2010/12/30

Thrifty Thursday: Trials Legends

main_menu_bg This last issue of NAG’s Cover DVD arrived in stores on Christmas Eve just lately, and naturally, I picked it up, along with something else called a magazine. On there was the usual stuff, but under free games I saw that there was a title by the name of Trials: Legends.

I’ve played one or two of these games in the past, most recently Trials HD, which looked a hell of a lot better graphically.

This Trials: Legends “celebrates the early years of RedLynx Trials”, from 2000 to 2005. I have had a on and off love affair with games involving FMX and the likes, including MotoRacer and Motocross Mania, and so I obviously couldn’t wait to try it out. Legends was released in November 2010.

Do you remember playing a game years ago called Elastomania? Trials is essentially like that game – just as mad and probably a little on the unrealistic side at the very least, but still fun as hell.

Trials pops under the Thrifty Thursday column seeing as it’s completely free. It’s basically a compilation of 33 tracks released in previous Trials games over the years. Not only this, but it comes with six different bikes, as well as a track creator. There’s also 15 ranks to go through before finally reaching the ultimate status of “Legend” – this happens when you beat all 33 tracks and the 3 marathon campaigns which each take place over 12 tracks. After you do all that, you can also compete in the online leaderboards for the fastest time achieved on a track, so there’s quite a bit to do then.

screenshot718You obviously take control of a bike, which has some exaggerated suspension. And it’s your task to take on some challenging courses filled with frustrating obstacles, as you try to conquer them with the power of physics. Depending on the bike you pick, these courses can be easy, or they can be a nightmare. The best bike I find is the fifth one, which is the heaviest and the fastest too. I was able to complete most tracks with it. It has the power to climb up steep slopes, and more often than not can bypass several obstacles in your path with one big jump. It does have a tendency to be twitchy and can be a bit overpowered in some places. All the bikes have their strengths and weaknesses.

The sounds in the game are a bit repetitive and annoying, with the manager shouting commands at you sounding quite funny. I wish there was a way to jump off the track and crush him. The sounds of the various bikes are convincing enough though.

Graphically, it’s dated. The riders look blocky and comical-looking, and the animation is rather poor. It’s all 2D as well, which does make it look as though it belongs in the 1990’s instead. But the backgrounds are quite detailed, and remind one of pre-rendered backgrounds you might have seen in some games – even more modern ones. It doesn’t hold a candle to the more beautiful Trials HD, but it’s what one would expect more or less for a free game.

screenshot703

                     Proof that I did it! I did it! It drove me crazy, but I did it! 

After several hours of play over a period of 3 days or so I as able to reach this coveted spot. Now it’s on to the track creator! This is easier said and done though as the “editor” will make you work more within an external image editing program, such as PhotoShop, to create tracks. But you can make them out of almost anything, including photos or screenshots from other games! In fact, as I think more and more about it, Trials Legends almost reminds me of Worms, for some odd reason.

You can also go onto the Trials: Legends forums and download all the fan-made tracks that have been uploaded, too. My advice is to try your hand at making some, because I’ve tried some of those tracks, and they’re nowhere near as good as the ones that come with the game… yet.

Overall Rating:

2813281328132813/ 8/10


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2010/12/27

Theory: Blood may have had more Influence than you Thought

      blood256px-Systemshock2box250px-Nocturnegamecover

These three seemingly very different games might have more in common than once thought

To many, Duke Nukem 3D was the most popular build engine game ever made, even though there were several others out there from the mid to late 90’s. Blood was one of these build engine cousins of the Duke, and for the most part probably wasn’t played by as many people. It did establish what one would refer to as a cult following though.

I was one of those types who only got around to dabbling in the rest of the build “big four” years after they were released. Not that it wasn’t fun playing catch-up. I love the era of sprites in games from the 90’s, when it was then cutting-edge technology, or at least dated but still awesome towards the later half of the decade.

But I was playing through Blood again recently, a couple of years since my first playthrough, and I came to some rather shocking conclusions. Blood may have been more influential on later games than even I thought.

Two games come to mind when I play through the game. First off, there’s another forgotten title from that decade named Nocturne. I’ve played both, and I see some mighty large similarities between the two. In both, you have a sinister protagonist clad in a trench coat and hat, armed to the teeth, who hunts demons, zombies, and the like. Let’s also not forget the train level (third mission of the first episode) in Blood, and how a similar mission took place in Nocturne (first section of the second chapter).

Both games at one point also featured delving deep into crypts and the underground as well, and both took place in Western themed universes, at about the same time (Blood’s 1928 versus Nocturne’s 1928 – 1935).

The second game I think of when I play Blood is System Shock II. Granted, the two don’t have a lot in common. Blood is a bare bones, all out FPS, while System Shock II is a classic hybrid title, featuring FPS and RPG gameplay. But one level in Blood certainly did remind me SS2, which came out more than two years later – and that was the “inside the body” level. You remember in System Shock II you had the creepy level called “Body of the Many”, which took place in a disgusting setting which looked like the stomach or digestive tract of a huge creature?

Blood did that. Blood had a level near the end of the fourth episode, called “In The Flesh”, which also saw Caleb enter inside what looked to be the same sort of environment. There were also bodies of water, except not toxic like in SS2, as well as teeth, but not as lethal as SS2, but not any less scary.

Yeah, Blood may well have taken inspiration from other games and even movies, but I think that in Blood’s case, it possibly inspired at least the two above-mentioned games too. I mean when you think back, Blood was one of the first games to have alternate fire modes with weapons, much like Marathon and Dark Forces before it.

Not many people would have played games like Nocturne or even Blood, and so probably won’t care much about all this, but still… I guess the point is that there’s always a game that did it first before it became cool and people gushed about it.


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2010/12/23

NAG January 2011 Issue Out This Week

You’d expect the last issue of NAG of the year to arrive on the last Thursday of not only the month, but the year – which would be the 30th of December. But it isn’t coming on that date. It’s coming this week instead – on Christmas Eve in fact! Yes, on the 24th of December, as usual NAG will arrive just before Christmas day.
Looking at the write-up on the site and in the contents, I can can tell you that the issue will feature the likes of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (good) and Fallout: New Vegas (great), as well as some other game like the new Need For Speed (meh), and James Bond: Blood Stone (lol).

Worthwhile stuff on the DVD includes System Shock Portable v 1.2 – suggested by yours truly months back. What SSP is, is a launcher or port of sorts for modern systems to run System Shock, the classic game from 1994, and prequel to its perhaps more well-known sequel: System Shock 2. SSP comes packed with the game itself too, seeing as it’s abandonware and it’s okay to distribute that sort of thing (sarcasm). There’s also a free game by the name of Trials: Legends. Trials is a motocross title similar to the likes of Elastomania, but much better looking.

Then, there’s the usual hundreds of videos on there too – but you’d know this by now if you buy the magazine regularly. I tried to decipher some of the other stuff that was on the Cover DVD by looking at the contents PDF, but it looks really sh!te for some reason. I can hardly read it.

By the way, the February Issue DVD suggestion thread is now open as well. So if there’s something you want to see on the next DVD, then post it there. You have to register though.

Sources:
NAG January 2011 issue
[NAG] January 2011 issue
[DVD] February DVD Suggestion Thread
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2010/12/20

Classic Game Collecting: December Edition

C2moCtrgrimage

The other day I was in Tygervalley Shopping Centre once again, on a mission to get a replacement debit card, and to deal with this Rica registration business before the cut-off date, which is the end of this month.

After all that was done, I had some time to browse through some of local stores which stock video games. So it was off to Game, CNA, and then eventually Musica.

So there I was at Musica, which is probably one of my favourite places to look for classic games that I so love doing – despite the apparent fact that the PC games selection keeps getting smaller each year. It was here that I came across some good compilations as well as a real rarity too.

One of these was Tomb Raider: The Greatest Raids, which is a compilation consisting of the first four TR games in the original series. Anybody who has played any of these knows that Tomb Raider I and II are the best. This was priced at R199.

Then another compilation was Prince of Persia Trilogy, which had three PoP titles, Sands of Time, Forgotten Sands, and The Warrior Within. This was significantly cheaper than the Tomb Raider anthology previously mentioned – priced at R59.

But the greatest find was seeing this game: Commandos 2. That’s right, it’s been a good 9 years since its release, and yet there it was, Commandos 2: Men Of Courage. For R59, I was almost tempted to buy it, but I all ready have the game as it is, and I’m not sure it would even run on my system. I’ve had some bad luck with some classics that I’ve bought in the past.

It’s rare to see games that old in stores anyway, unless you’re talking about Deus Ex or something. I rarely come across anything older than 10 years (released in 2000).


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2010/12/15

The Last Episode of The Verge for 2010

TVerge I just looked through my news feed on Facebook, and saw a post from The Verge’s Facebook wall. It declared that tonight, the 15th of December is the last live episode of The Verge for this year.

Now they say it’s the last live episode, but the show will continue to run until next year when live shows will resume I suppose. Pippa says that they’re recorded and are new ones especially for when The Verge is off the air. As for PlayR, that isn’t a live show, but a recorded or taped one (and actually my favourite one at that – less slip ups and so on from Pippa).

As for tonight’s episode, it’ll feature Red Dead Redemption’s DLC, Undead Nightmare, and NFS Hot Pursuit.

The Verge will resume its live shows on the 17th of January 2011.

- The Verge currently runs from 10:30 PM for a half hour, Mondays and Wednesdays. PlayR is on Thursdays.

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Source: The Verge on Facebook


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2010/12/13

Chaos Computers’ Candy Store Competition

Chaos Candy Store Don’t you just love it when you get added to a company’s newsletter list without asking for it? Well, in this case I suppose I am kind of chuffed seeing as I received an email from Chaos Computers last week, telling me about a special competition that’s arrived just in time for Christmas.

This is their Candy Store Competition. Every day Chaos will send one of their “sweet deals” to everyone who has signed up to their newsletter. If you are on the newsletter mailing list as well as a member on their Facebook page, you qualify to win a grand prize, which is a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

So, sign up for the newsletter, like them on Facebook, receive the emails, and you may or may not choose to buy one of the specials, and automatically get entered into a competition to win a prize, even if you don’t buy anything!

Source: Chaos Computers


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2010/12/06

Demo-Lition: Sonic Fan Remix

Yeah, I’ve heard of Sonic – he’s that little blue hedgehog with the sick looking sneakers and white Michael Jackson-like gloves who can run really fast and do cool stuff.

I’ll admit that I haven’t really been that much of a Sonic fan in all my years. The last time I played a Sonic game was on PC, and I can’t even remember which one it was. But I think it had Tails in it. Or maybe it was Knuckles. I don’t know.

I used to watch the Sonic cartoons though – those were pretty cool.

So I’ve proven that I’m not the biggest Sonic fan ever, so that should actually give me a bit of an advantage while playing this, seeing as I won’t be overly biased with it, hopefully.

But when NAG Online had a post up one day talking about a fan-made Sonic game, made using the Unity engine (what game isn’t nowadays, besides though made using Unreal Engine 3?), I was intrigued. And they nicely promised that it would be on the next NAG cover DVD – which it was (the December 2010 issue).

After I’d pretty much finished Fallout: New Vegas (got bored, started over with a new character), I decided to try this little demo out. And I’m all ready looking forward to the full release – if it ever happens, before someone slaps a C&D (cease & desist) on it or something.

screenshot380screenshot383 screenshot391

As you see by the screenshots, the game is very beautiful when cranked up to its full graphical potential. And it gets even better when you fire it up. The trees sway in the wind, and the water sparkles in the distance. Rain pours down in the one level, and the effects are just grand to say the least. The animation then is superb. If you thought that Trine was a good looking game, then this one should please no end.

The trial version, or demo, consists of a fair three levels, based on Emerald Hill, which should be familiar to those who’ve played Sonic The Hedgehog 2, and the obvious point of the game is to try and collect as many rings as possible, and get through the level in the quickest time, all whilst dodging or taking out the flying, swimming, and and… rolling enemies of Roboland, or risk bumping in to one of them and spilling your well-earned rings.

I’ve read some negative comments surrounding the demo, with some claiming it to be too colourful. Well, it is – if you’re used to playing something like S.T.A.L.K.E.R., or F.E.A.R., where the colour palette doesn’t really go beyond grey and brown most of the time.

There might be a few bugs in the demo, which is to be expected. One I came across was when I bumped into one of those springs which send you speeding up steep hill with ease, and Sonic died instead – forcing me to start the act from the beginning. This also happens on objects such as blades of grass or flowers, too, rarely.

So once again, I’m not the biggest Sonic fan out there, but if you are sceptical of this little demo being real, then you need to download it and play it right now. It’s available for PC and Mac. I personally would love to play the full thing, especially seeing as it’s a free download affair.

Download it:

http://sonicfanremix.com/
http://sonicresearch.org/sonicfanremix/
http://www.geenzo.com/sonicfanremix/SFRMac.zip (Mac version)


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2010/12/01

NAG Competitions Every Day For 3+ Weeks This December

NAG Magazine’s online presence, known as NAG Online, is going to be having a long series of competitions this month, running from the 1st of December right up until the 24th – Christmas Eve, naturally. That’s one competition every day.

Prizes up for grabs include hardware to games and so on. All you have to do is either comment on the post of each individual competition (you need to register to do so), or send an email to NAG. And if you do, you automatically get entered in to the competition in question. By commenting, instead of emailing, you also become eligible to win a USB flash drive courtesy of Corex.

The winners of the competitions will be drawn in January (likely the NAG staff will be having a little holiday for a while). Only South African residents may enter the comps by the way.

Source: Competition: 24 Days of Giving - Competition: 24 Days of Giving [NAG Online]


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2010/11/29

Chaos Computers Tech Expo 2010

All ready as of last week, the 17th of November, Chaos Computers has been having a Tech Expo at CapeGate Shopping Centre.

I only saw the advert in the latest Tygerburger just the other day. Whoops. Chaos had an event like this last year about the same time, and at the same place. Hard to believe it’s been a year since I posted about it.
The Expo is situated in the centre court and will run until the 15th of December. You’ll be able to try out some gadgets, including the much talked about Xbox Kinect.

I must still go and check out the new Chaos Computers store in Willowbridge. They moved there from Kenridge two or three months ago.

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Source: Tygerburger
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2010/11/24

NAG December 2010 Issue Out This Week

This Thursday sees the December 2010 issue of NAG magazine arrive.

Previews (typed erroneously as “Reviews” in the contents) include BioShock Infinite. The reviews section offers up Medal of Honor and Call of Duty: Black Ops, as well as Fable III and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II – which some claim was one of the year’s biggest disappointments.
The cover DVD has a few things to offer, like a demo of a fan-made Sonic title, which according to some puts Sonic 4 to shame – not that I’ve played it. There’s also Arcania: Gothic 4, which I’ve read some describe as similar to Thief: Deadly Shadows (?).

I see that one of my DVD suggestions made it onto the disc this month, with the free full game named White on there. Everyone loves a free game. And there’s a total of 139 movies on the disc too…

Source: NAG Online
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2010/11/18

300th Episode of The Verge Imminent

Vergecomp

I was watching The Verge the other night, only to hear Pippa say that the 300th episode of the show is coming up next month, on Wednesday, the 8th of December 2010, to be exact.

And that’s not all! There’s a competition taking place to mark the momentous occasion too. It’s running from now until the 7th of December, the eve of the milestone episode – when ironically that other rubbish, The Ginx Files, will be airing. But to its credit at least there are new episodes and not repeats all the time.

So about this competition: the prize up for grabs is an Asus G-Series Laptop complete with 3D Vision – all valued at R17 000. All you have to do to win is post a photo of yourself, with something that includes the Asus logo, and the number 300, on the The Verge Facebook wall. So no real room for creativity, then.

You can also email the picture to theverge@dontlookdown.tv.

Source: The Verge


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2010/11/15

Now Playing - Fallout: New Vegas

FNVDespite the mixed reviews, the other day I purchased Fallout: New Vegas.

There was no way I was going to pass on it. I was interested in it whenever I saw pictures or watched a trailer of it.

This game, despite looking as though it could probably have been just nothing more than a mod for Fallout 3, was handled by Obsidian – a studio which consists of several guys who worked on the original Fallout games. The game goes back to the west coast this time, and takes place mainly in the Mojave, with locales such as what remains of Las Vegas being the main attraction. But, unlike Washington DC, the place seems to have been spared the same level of destruction. The surrounding towns though are a different story.

In my opinion, FNV is even more atmospheric than Fallout 3, and there are several little improvements and additions this time around. Of course, there are a number of bugs too – but luckily a have a couple of patches to help sort this out. Nevertheless, even then, I’ve come across a few annoying ones – mainly surrounding the companions.

ScreenShot4

In addition to the companions, you have other useful things such as a reloading bench where you can break down and make ammo, as well as campfires which help you create edible food stuffs from things you find out in the desert.

And the best part is you have more guns! And there’s quite a selection too: from the .357 Magnum, to the Service Rifle (M16), as well as numerous others. I was rather chuffed to see that there are now 9mm weapons, including a pistol to replace that horrid looking 10mm one, which still exists in this game. I just don’t want to use it.

Overall, I’m enjoying it so far. Great characters and missions in the game, and it really feels like the Wild West at times. Some people love FNV, and others hate it. I would fall in to the first camp. Despite its faults, I find it immensely enjoyable.


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2010/11/09

Apocalypse Then: No One Lives Forever

10 Years of NOLF

I was going through my calendar recently, and saw that today was a rather special day for more than one reason. Yes, today, this year, marks the day that Call of Duty: Black Ops is released.

But rewind time, and go back ten years. Today, back in 2000, was when No One Lives Forever, AKA The Operative: No One lives Forever, AKA NOLF (not MILF) came out.

NOLF From the makers of Blood, Monolith, came this game which felt much like a spy movie. In fact it was more like a spoof of several spy movies – like James Bond, but especially Austin Powers. This was a rather unusual departure from the typical horror and science fiction games that tend to come from this developer – famous for the likes of F.E.A.R., Condemned, and AvP 2, among others.

It took place in the psychedelic 60’s, and placed you in the possession of the rather ample cleavage of Cate Archer, a Scottish lass who works for UNITY as a spy, an organisation at odds with H.A.R.M. After your briefings with the generically named Smith and Jones, you usually go on to your weapon and gadget training section, much like James Bond would do while bantering with Q.

There are many different weapons that would have existed back in the 60’s, some of them German weapons like the Luger and Walter P38, and there are several clever gadgets that Cate can use to, which are often disguised as common items like slippers, lipstick, and perfumes.

There were several ways you could go about getting through missions, such as using guns, or sneaking your way through. Often dialogue options could be used when conversing with characters. Speaking of which, there’s a lot of humour in this game, and characters like Magnus Armstrong (who is obviously based on Austin Powers’ Fat B@stard) make for some hilarious encounters, particularly in the cutscenes. Other crazy characters include Baron Dumas and Inge Wagner.

It’s a spy game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and one can imagine why it won so many GOTY awards. There was even a GOTY edition which included an extra mission. The game was eventually ported to the PS2, and this version had even more missions that didn’t feature in the PC one.

NOLF received a sequel in No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy In H.A.R.M.'s Way, and what is referred as an interquel, in Contract J.A.C.K. – which sucked. There’s even a petition for a No One Lives Forever 3 going on, pleading for Monolith to resurrect the long dormant franchise.

Fun Fact: NOLF was the first game to use the LithTech 2.0 engine. Later on, the following games in the series used the Jupiter engine. The F.E.A.R. series up until this point has used the Jupiter Extended engine – a further modified version of the LithTech engine.


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2010/11/08

Duke Nukem: NextGen Project Renamed, Details

DNRLOGO

The project going on over at the Gearbox forums that I posted about a while ago is getting stronger. Fresch, the man in charge, has assembled a team to work on this game which was called Duke Nukem: NextGen for a little while.

People were worried that he wouldn’t get permission to make the game, which will use Unreal Engine 3, and will be built from scratch, basically. But the guys at GBX have granted them a non-commercial licence to go ahead and do it. Big surprise to most of us, surely, considering the stink that Activision made regarding The Silver Lining.

But now the project has a new name. It’s called Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded, or DNR for short. And the team working on it has a name too – Interceptor Entertainment. Add to this that there’s now a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a website for the game with forums, as well as future plans for a ModDB account as well. Any self-respecting project has one.

And they reportedly even have the producer behind Killzone 3 backing this game! This is becoming huge all ready.

But, not everybody is that impressed. There are critics obviously that fall into different camps.

There are those who feel it would be better to wait for Duke Nukem Forever to come out, whenever that is (they say 2011.. sometime before Christmas), and just make a mod which would recreate the levels from DN3D, with most of the content, like guns and textures and so on, all ready created. The name for this was suggested to be a resurrection of the name Duke Nukem 3D Forever.

There was even a poll on the GBX forums which asked for people to vote for what they’d prefer: a game created from scratch (like DNR), or a mod for DNF. Some even want both, the greedy hogs.

Then the boys heading up or supporting the High Resolution Pack project for EDuke32 – a source port for DN3D – say that they don’t like the look of the game, and think it’s ugly, and it doesn’t look like DN3D. Jealousy, anyone?

I’ve been a fan of the Duke Nukem franchise for nigh on 20 years, and I have no ill feelings towards this project. It’s just a matter of whether the team can stick with it and produce the goods. Yeah, it’ll be harder to generate all the content themselves, but the effort will pay off in the long run. This could well be a step towards a career in game development for some on the team – others who are working on the game all ready are professional game developers, apparently.

As for a release date on the game – you know what I’m going to say here, but I’ll say it anyway: “When it’s Done.”

Source: Gearbox Forums


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2010/11/01

Published a new Article: My Best Undead Slaying Games of All Time

Blood For the past several days I’ve been working on a new series of hubs. This time it’s all about my favourite undead slaying games. It would have been about zombies, but everybody does zombies. I wanted something a little different.

Undead is a category which not only includes zombies, but also other supernatural beings such as vampires and ghosts, among others.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Undead-I
http://hubpages.com/hub/Undead-II
http://hubpages.com/hub/Undead-III
http://hubpages.com/hub/Undead-IV

The above links go to my hubs which were published yesterday, on Halloween. There’s navigation buttons at the bottom. You can also check out my profile on HubPages where you’ll find my other articles about games, reviews and such.


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2010/10/30

Animax Channel Disappearing on October 31

Animax currently sits on channel 126 on DSTV, as it has for the past three years. The somewhat sad news is that the channel will be put off the air on the 31st of October 2010 – which is Sunday (tomorrow)… and Halloween. 23:25 is the time when it will cease to exist, so make sure to tune in and bid your last farewells.

“The reason why Animax is going off air is because the Japanese anime genre that was featured on the channel did not attract the broad viewing audience that MultiChoice had targeted.” - Marietjie Groenewald, MultiChoice spokesperson 

My brother always complained that most of the programming on Animax wasn’t anime anyway.

There will be a replacement channel coming to take its place next year in February. And some of the programs that were featured on Animax will likely be moved onto this new channel. I’m betting that Kenny vs. Spenny will survive, for one. I hope Ninja Warrior and several of the other Japanese game shows do as well. The write up over at DSTV.com seems to say they will.

Some say that the new channel will be named Sony MAX.

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Source: DSTV


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2010/10/28

November 2010 Issue of NAG Magazine Out Now

Once again, it’s that time. Last week of the month. Can’t believe it’s November soon. Just before Halloween, Thursday (today) will see the latest issue of NAG on shelves.

As some on the forums have said, it doesn’t look to be anything that special this month.
The magazine has a review of the latest zombie slaying title, Dead Rising 2. And there’s also Borderlands: Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution.

The DVD has a couple of soundtracks from games such as Split/Second.
It’s an average issue then. Probably the December issue will break the eerie silence.

Source: NAG November 2010 issue [NAG Online]
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2010/10/25

Published a new Article: My Top Scariest Video Games of All Time

l4d_airport04_terminal0005 I’ve been working on a new list for some time, and it consists of four articles in a series, which goes into detail about the scariest games I’ve ever played. I did this seeing as it’s Halloween soon. I published this series today.

These links will lead you to to the articles in question. It’s divided into four chapters, and the navigation buttons are at the bottom of each chapter.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Scariest-Video-Games
http://hubpages.com/hub/Scariest-Games-II
http://hubpages.com/hub/Scariest-Games-III
http://hubpages.com/hub/Scariest-Games-IV

Soon I’ll be publishing another series just before Halloween, which delves into my favourite undead slaying games ever.


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2010/10/21

The Best Video Game Soundtracks: Worms 2

Growing up playing games in 90’s, I was always a big fan of actual music playing in the background, before all this atmospheric, and orchestral stuff came along in recent years. With games like Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, you mainly had MIDI tracks – not that they were bad.

I think Quake was likely the first to break this trend in 1996 with Trent Reznor of NiN fame doing the soundtrack.

But then some games, rather than come up with their own soundtracks (or borrow heavily from other sources like Bobby Prince did with Doom I and II), they just licensed a number of tracks from real artists.

Worms2In 1997, the one game that had this was Worms 2 -  the sequel to the equally addictive Worms, released years earlier.

While playing, you were treated to songs like “Come Out And Play”, “Self Esteem”, and “Killboy Powerhead” – tracks off of Smash, the best album off of the then punk rock sensation known as The Offspring. You could also squirm your way to several other great tracks, like The Prodigy’s Firestarter”.

Of course, all these tracks had different names to suit the game, like “Swim Like A Brick”. Funny stuff, seeing as the worms in the game can’t swim. I think especially the punk rock songs complimented Worms 2’s fun gameplay and defiant stance against other games at the time – particularly Doom clones or first-person shooters. It showed that a game could be fun and not overly violent to be a major success. That’s pretty much Team 17 though. They’ve really just stuck with the same sort of formula of strategy titles for the past near twenty years.

It’s a shame that it was the only Worms game to date that actually had a soundtrack as impressive as this. Other Worms titles, before and after, didn’t, to my knowledge.


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2010/10/18

New Version of DarkXL Out

Console2 It’s been several months since the last build of this project called DarkXL, which is a source port project for Star Wars: Dark Forces, was released. It’s been quiet ever since. But business started to pick up last month, as regular posting began on the DarkXL website.

Now the 9.05 Build of DarkXL is out as of this week. Stuff to look forward to in here is working night vision, and less bugs, as well as the ability to get past level 3, finally. In fact, the 9.03 and 9.04 builds were only put out earlier this month as well.

I got back into playing Dark Forces about last month – the same time that Lucius, the guy working on the project, seemingly resurrected DarkXL after several months. There was a long gap between March and September where it was rather quiet. The last build before the the most recent three, 9.02, was released in February. Before the break it had been more consistent.

Anyway, if you’re looking to play this great, and rather unappreciated at times, game, then make sure to download the latest build and get playing.

Source: http://darkxl.wordpress.com/ [DarkXL website]


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2010/10/14

Now Playing: Left 4 Dead

L4D The other day I was digging through my collection of games. I keep a list of of my games on my HD, and I was particularly interested in playing through some of the titles I hadn’t finished – or even installed.

Why I did this initially was because I kept reading about a website online called Backloggery, where you can list all the games you have, how many you’ve finished, and how many you haven’t. The only thing is that the site isn’t accepting any new registrations for now.

So I was forced to make one of my own. So I’m going through all of these titles, and I came across a few gems which I was surprised I hadn’t even played. One of these was Left 4 Dead. It was released in 2008. I bought it nearly two years ago, and I decided I would play it to see what all the fuss had been about for nearly the past two years.

l4d_airport04_terminal0004

               The messages on the wall are a nice touch. Reminds me of Digg.

It’s really designed to be a multiplayer game, but it’s fun enough playing on your own with a bunch of bots, despite the AI being a bit suspect most of the time. It’s not a bad game. Kind of hard even on the easier difficulty levels, but I’m getting the hang on it. The last standoff levels are insane. Having to last minutes which seem like hours fighting off endless hordes.

UPDATE: Finished most of the levels, apart from the last one on the first campaign, No Mercy. where you need to be rescued by a helicopter on a rooftop. Throw in waves of zombies, and more Tanks than you can handle and it’s anything but a picnic while admiring the view. Keep getting killed by the last Tank, trying to board the chopper.


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2010/10/11

Weapon Carrying Limit to be in Duke Nukem Forever

Just the other day there was an interview over on Duke4.net that was carried out by one of the community members. He interviewed Randy Pitchford, the CEO of Gearbox Software.

One of the questions posed to Randy was whether or not there would be any weapon carrying restrictions in Duke Nukem Forever:

“Well we are making this game with the vision of Allen Blum and George Broussard.  Their vision was that you could only have 2 weapons. This choice has been made because most players choose their favorite weapons and use only those weapons the most.  And if you need a particular weapon to defeat a boss, that weapon will be available in that area.”

So this is quite a change from previous Duke Nukem titles such as Duke Nukem Manhattan Project and Duke Nukem 3D before it. You no longer have the entire arsenal at your fingertips. Gone are the days of the old school 90’s shooters where you could somehow manage to slug all that heavy equipment around with you. In a sense, DNF is going for more realism – which sounds a little ironic I must admit.

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        The ripper will likely be one of the “favourite” weapons that people wish to carry.

In fact it’s going to more like Duke Nukem II in a way. In that game you could only carry one weapon type at a time, until the ammo ran out, and you reverted to your standard weapon. Except the limitations in DNF won’t be that strict, thank goodness.

So basically you’ll have a primary weapon and secondary weapon, much like most first person shooters out there today. From the screens and trailers I’ve seen of the game, much of the weaponry from the first game will make it back. There’s a pistol, a shotgun, the ripper machinegun, the devastator double rocket launchers. You’ll just have to pick which ones you like best and use those.

I don’t yet know whether they’ll let you have ANY 2 weapons that you want, or if one of them has to be a pistol – because that would suck. If you can carry an RPG and a Devastator, then that sounds fair good.

12

At one stage, DNF used a weapons selection system similar to Max Payne and Half-Life.

It also hasn’t been mentioned whether this applies to the pipe bomb as well. I reckon that just like other standard FPS games these days, Duke will have his two guns of choice, and then carry pipebombs as well, instead of the more standard grenade. I’m sure all the other equipment like NV goggles and steroids will remain unchanged, and you can carry one of each, likely – just like DN3D.

In the end, I think it might actually be a better idea to give players a choice. They either have the full arsenal, or say on a harder difficulty or if an option is checked, they will then be limited, like Randy says.


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2010/10/07

Jon St. John AKA Duke Nukem Text Editor Sounds

dukezh The other day I posted about something to do with a remake of Duke Nukem 3D as a mod using the Unreal Engine 3. I went back to that same thread over at the official Duke Nukem forums on GearBoxSoftware.com. Needless to say the topic was still going strong.

But it was on the last page that I saw something interesting. Somebody posted a link to this website and said that there were some recordings of somebody doing Duke Nukem’s voice.

So I went over to the site, only to see that the place was entirely void of content – except for an mp3 playing in the background. So I took Orbit, which is a program that is quite adept at capturing flash and media playing on a site, and downloaded the file. While I did this, I was listening to the phrases being said as the clip played. I’ve heard people try and do Duke Nukem’s voice before. Some have come close, and others have been pretty piss poor. This was Duke Nukem’s voice. This was the Jon St. John.

Having downloaded the file to my HD, I listened to the entire clip, which ran for about just over 3 and a half minutes. Jon was obviously reading the text that appears on the menu trees on a text editor. Open up any one, like Microsoft Word or something and you’ll see what I mean. It was actually pretty funny. Weird, but quite hilarious.

The guys over at the GBX forums were debating on this bit of off-topic wonder; some betting that it was Duke’s voice, whilst others were doubtful.

Like I said: I’ve played enough friggin’ Duke Nukem 3D and Manhattan Project to KNOW that is Jon. But I wanted to know how this site was found. So I did what anybody would do. I Googled it. The phrase was something like “Jon St. John Text Editor”. One of the first hits that cropped up was Jon’s wiki page. Upon going to it, lo and behold: under “external links”, there was a link pointing to that very same site, saying that it was Jon reading some menu trees for a program.

I was curious as to what the program was and who hired Jon. I gathered from the phrases in the audio recording that it was for a program called Text Edit.

I mean, in the end, Jon is a voice actor among other things (musician, former radio DJ), and has worked on other games - most notably Half-Life: Opposing Force. He is essentially for hire. At one stage I actually remember Jon offering to do voice work for something like $1 per word. He said he would even do Duke’s voice and people could dub it in to Left 4 Dead, replacing Zoey’s voice, or some weird sh1t.

If that was his going rate, then by my calculations, including conjunctions, it would have added up to about $159 just for this job. I should get in to the voice acting business…

However, I was reading, again over at GBX forums, and some poster said this:

“Get a personalized, custom recording of Duke for your voicemail, ringtone, answering machine, whatever! You write the script, and Duke will say anything you want. Your message(s) must be no more than 30 seconds total, and for private use only. Available file formats include: WAV, MP3, and AIFF. The price is just 50 bucks and payable via Pay Pal. So what are you waiting for...Christmas? Come Get Some!”

Some person over at the GBX forums also said that he “so wants Jon to do the voice for his GPS now.”

Sources:

GBX Forums
Jon St. John menu trees recording
Jon's Wikipedia page


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2010/10/04

Conspiracy Theory: Valve Doesn’t do Threequels

How long have we all been waiting for a continuation in the Half-Life story. It’s been more than three years since Half-Life 2: Episode 2 came out. It was first shown at E3 in 2007. And we all played it towards the end of that year, when it came out in November – which is customary with Valve titles.

Episode 1 came out two years after Half-Life 2, in 2006. The entire point of episodic content was to see that new content was released periodically and within a few months of each release. But after seeing how Valve has handled it, I maintain that episodic content is a failed idea – as far as big titles with high production values, such as the Half-Life series, are involved.

Anyway, everyone knows that everyone likes a good conspiracy theory. And there have probably been many suggestions as to why Episode 3 isn’t out yet. The last I read anything of it must have been last year.

Well, something struck me as I lay in bed one night, thinking on the subject, as one does. And I came up with an idea. Something that might well explain why we haven’t got Episode 3, or Half-Life 3.

It has to do with Valve’s games; the number of Valve games. Let me explain:

Half-LifeValve’s first ever game was the epic, revolutionary sci-fi FPS, Half-Life. It came out in late 1998, and nowadays is considered one of the greatest PC games of all time. Half-Life went on to spawn two expansions or addons, developed by Gearbox Software, in Opposing Force, and Blue Shift. Decay doesn’t count as it was for the PS2 version only.                    

Counter-Strike SourceThe next think to come along was Counter-Strike. While not strictly a Valve title to begin with – it used the Half-Life engine, and was eventually adopted by Valve, and released commercially. It became one of the greatest multiplayer-focused games of all time; still played to this day, more than ten years on. Counter-Strike had a sequel of sorts in Condition Zero. Years later Counter-Strike: Source came out, which was CS, but using the Source engine that Half-Life 2 used. It wasn’t a sequel.

DoD Another game that started out as a mod for Half-Life was Day of Defeat. It was the obligatory WWII game that was kind of similar to CS or Team Fortress, but featured class systems that were more akin to those from olden days.

DoD’s developers were eventually picked up by Valve (which is primarily made up of former modders), and Day of Defeat was adopted by the company, and later released as a standalone retail product, requiring Steam to play. Since then it has also had a remake done, using the Source engine rather than the Half-Life or Gold Source engine. This is probably the one game in Valve’s history that has yet to even receive a first sequel, let alone a second sequel (or threequel).

Half-Life 2Speaking of said game: Half-Life 2 was released in 2004, and again went on to further revolutionize the FPS genre, and storytelling in games as a whole. The game had planned addons in the form of the Episodes. Initially it was meant to be one big expansion called Aftermath, but Valve opted for the episodic content approach, and decided to release standalone episodes separately. To date, six years later, two of those episodes have been released.

Team FortressFast-forward a few years and we get to The Orange Box – one of the greatest packages ever bestowed upon gamers. This contained not only Episode 2, Episode 1, and Half-Life 2 – but also introduced Team Fortress 2 and Portal.

Team Fortress 2 obviously had a prequel released years earlier alongside Half-Life, called Team Fortress Classic. The series’ roots lay in a mod, originally for Quake. TF 2 was notoriously delayed for almost a decade, but eventually emerged with a completely different art style to that of its predecessor, which some didn’t like.

portalapevia Portal was completely different from most Valve titles, if not most FPS games ever made. You don’t have guns. You’ve just got a portal gun which aids you in traversing through several puzzles. It was inspired by a game made by some college kids, called Narbacular Drop. Portal has an upcoming sequel, named Portal 2, which should be out next year.

left4dead2 In 2008, Valve produced Left 4 Dead – a multiplayer shooter set in a zombie apocalypse. It turned out to be very popular, and a year later a sequel was released in Left 4 Dead 2. This angered the community seeing as they thought Valve had cheated them out of all the promised extra content for the original. Eventually two DLC packs made it out. Two for Left 4 Dead, and one for Left 4 Dead 2. Another one compatible with both games is due out this month. So that would make it three DLCs for L4D - but DLC isn’t a full game or a sequel anyway, and The Survival Pack which contains The Last Stand isn’t even considered canon.

So you don’t really see a three anywhere there do you? Plenty of other franchises out there have threequels, but Valve doesn’t. This doesn’t necessarily make a franchise any better just because it has more games. It can have the opposite effect (see Tomb Raider).

But like I said, it’s something that I noticed, and it looks like Valve has yet to get over the big 3 hump, even 15 years on. This curse will continue until someday, miraculously, Half-Life 2: Episode 3, or Half-Life 3, is finally released. That or else one of their other franchises produces a sequel.


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2010/09/30

NAG Magazine October 2010 Issue Out Today

It’s the last week of September, and right on the last day of the month - which is today – the new NAG will be out. It’s the October issue, and Halo: Reach, mercifully the last game in the series, has the cover.
Looking at the cover and reading through the contents page available on the site, my eyes caught the following interesting stuff:

The Looking Back section covers Duke Nukem 3D this month – very appropriate considering that the game’s long awaited sequel, Duke Nukem Forever, has come back out from under its rock and in to the public eye again. Even DNF has a feature in the mag. Of course when you read the comments over at the forum concerning the title, you’ll see that practically nobody wants to see it wasting any space in the magazine at all. Me? Bring it on!

Then there’s some major Call of Duty: Black Ops stuff, plus previews on Crysis 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the latest in the Mortal Kombat series… called Mortal Kombat.
Reviews include Mafia II, Kane& Lynch 2: Dog Days (from what I’ve read it was also crap), and that latest Lara Croft title: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Worms: Reloaded also managed to squirm its way in there in the reviews section somewhere.

As far as stuff on the DVD, I’m glad to see that the demo of Amnesia: The Dark Descent is on there. I recommended that over on the DVD suggestions thread, you know. The game is the latest from the people who brought you the Penumbra trilogy, so it should be properly scary. There’s also a demo of Metro 2033. I’ve played the full version, and you should at least play it once.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the Thief II remastered soundtrack on there, because I really wanted that. I’m downloading it anyway, so that doesn't matter too much.

BTW, you know I thought I’d mention that the editor of NAG magazine, Michael James, was on The Verge the other night, talking about the magazine and rAge - which is coming up next month. This issue of NAG is the rAge issue apparently.

Sources:
http://www.nag.co.za/2010/09/nag-october-2010-issue/ [NAG Online]
http://www.nag.co.za/forums/showthread.php?t=15249 [NAG Online Forums]
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2010/09/28

Duke Nukem 3D Remake Using Unreal Engine 3 In Early Stages

There’s an interesting mod that I read about on Bluesnews the other day. Someone over at the new Gearbox Duke Nukem forums (which are now the official ones instead of over at 3D Realms), has undertaken a project to create an unofficial remake Duke Nukem 3D, using Unreal Engine 3 technology – the engine of choice nowadays for most mods.

It’s been said that it basically uses the same core features as seen in Duke Nukem Forever.

There are several screenshots up showing off the work done so far by one guy. And apparently he’s all ready contacted the likes of Scott Miller of 3D Realms to secure permission to carry on with the project. Scott says he would like to see the work done so far and so would George Broussard.

DukeNext1

                    A screenshot of early work on the project, with comparison.

The man behind this project, known as Fresch, previously worked on a Daikatana remake, which was abandoned due to lack of interest, despite some fanfare from none other than John Romero. Then a SiN remake, which was cancelled after a Cease and Desist was issued – not to the guy working on it directly, but to the ModDB people, who subsequently deleted the mod’s pages.

There are of course worries over whether the mod will allowed to carry on in development. Seeing as Scott says he’s interested and hasn’t outright denied permission, that’s a start. Upon contacting Gearbox reps, they said that even though they have the rights to the Duke Nukem IP (acquired from 3DR last year), and are working on Duke Nukem Forever, and possibly Duke Begins, they do not have any say based on earlier Duke Nukem titles - such as DN3D, DN 2, and the original Duke Nukem.

But in an update, Scott did get back to Fresch, and said that it would have to go through Take-Two, the former publisher of DNF. That’s the publisher that caused 3DR all the legal woes in the past. This has aroused some debate seeing as 2K now owns the publishing rights to DNF, and had nothing to do with Duke Nukem 3D. But if it is true, then hopes of getting a green light for a remake of “Red Light District” are slim.

Still, like most of the pessimistic posters on the forums say: these projects are very rarely followed through until completion, and there’s not much one guy can do, although the maker claims he will assemble a team if given the go ahead from 3DR or whoever has the final say.

The screens do look amazing though. And if you thought that the Polymer renderer for EDuke32 and the HRP looked shiny, then you’ll have to wear sunglasses, just like the Dukester, when taking a look at these.

Sources:

http://www.bluesnews.com/s/114567/duke-3d-mod
http://gbxforums.gearboxsoftware.com/showthread.php?t=111335


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2010/09/27

AAA - Now Playing: Dark Forces

Dark Forces I think it was earlier this year when I decided I wanted to go ahead and get Star Wars: Dark Forces working.

So I got the game out of my collection and tried to run it with DosBox, but failed. So it laid there dormant for several months. I was kind of bummed that I couldn’t get it to work.

Then the other day I downloaded DarkXL – a source port for Dark Forces. With a bit of tinkering around, I was able to get it running. It was only the demo level though, and I was a little disappointed at this, seeing as I have the full version of the game. You see, the DarkXL source port is only in its Alpha stages of development, and it has been for years now.

screenshot1080screenshot1084

So I went online and found out that there was in fact a later version of the program. I downloaded that ASAP and tried it again. The result was much better. The UI was vastly improved and I was able to at least play three levels this time before getting stuck.

Needless to say, much more work has to be done on the source port. But I eagerly anticipate the next build which should be out hopefully in the next few months. There’s been a pickup in activity as regards the project recently.

Still, it’s amazing that I’ve even been able run it, seeing as it’s been probably about 14 years or so since I’ve seen let alone played this classic. I usually have a habit of taking out a game every few years and playing it. So this one marks the longest amount of time that has elapsed since I last played it.

And this game was released in 1995, meaning it’s fifteen years old. But I’m still quite amazed at its technological advancements for that time.


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2010/09/24

Megadeth Month: Guitar Hero and Rust in Peace – 20 Years on

Heritage Day [24 Sep – SA]

September is Megadeth Month. I came up with this idea last year after I noticed several of Megadeth’s studio albums and compilations have come out in this month in past years. Lead singer Dave Mustaine’s birthday is also this month.

This week however marks two important events to occur this month. The one is the release of the game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, said to be the ultimate release in the series of popular music games. The tracklist for the game looks to be awesome, with most of the legendary heavy metal, thrash metal, and hard rock acts you’d expect, appearing in the game with some of their best songs.

This includes one of the big four thrash metal bands ever – Megadeth – who will bring tracks like “This Day We Fight” off of their latest album from yesteryear, Endgame, as well as one of their most renowned tracks: “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”.

copmegadeth06

This song is often listed in the top 3 thrash metal songs of all time, usually behind other greats like “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and “Raining Blood” by Slayer. And it appeared on no doubt one of their best albums, if not the best to date, Rust in Peace.

This week, on the 24th of September (today), marks the 20th anniversary of this “thrashterpiece”, which was originally released on this date in 1990 – during the last gasps of the thrash metal era which ruled the scene from the early 80’s until the early 90’s.

And perhaps by no coincidence, the aforementioned game, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, will come out in the UK on the same date, followed by a US release a few days later.

Megadeth will also have the spotlight in this new offering, seeing as they are going to debut a completely new song, named “Sudden Death” which has been named a “finger buster” all ready by those who have listened to it or played it themselves by getting ripped versions of the song from previews on the web as well as charts. It’s set to be the last song on the tracklist.

Happy Megadeth Month!


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2010/09/22

Scott Miller: ROTT and Shadow Warrior Sequels Possibly Planned

The other day, Duke4.net had an exclusive interview with Scott Miller, the CEO of 3D Realms. Something interesting in amongst the usual questions one would expect (met with rather abrupt answers for most of them), is this:
“Q10. Any plans for sequels for older titles such as Shadow Warrior and Rise of the Triads?
A: Absolutely.”
I guess now that Duke Nukem Forever, which one must admit was an amazingly huge time sink that’s lasted for thirteen years or so, has been handed over to Gearbox, along with the IP, 3D Realms actually has time for other projects now.

anime2 The last game that 3D Realms actually developed and released was Shadow Warrior… in 1997. That was the year after Duke Nukem 3D came out. The company has however been involved in a publishing capacity like with Max Payne since then, and overseen the release of several console-only Duke Nukem titles, but not much else.
So, while Randy Pitchford is polishing Duke Nukem’s rocket, and Gearbox is working on the last bit of Duke Nukem Forever, perhaps 3D Realms can get back to some of the other great games like Rise of the Triad and Shadow Warrior, from the 90’s.
nodogAnd we want a proper game too – not some iPhone port of ROTT like was seen earlier this year.

3D Realms is a significantly smaller studio now though, since the DNF dev team was let go last year, so I don’t know how long it would take before development could actually begin, or whether the studio will actually do it themselves. They could probably just outsource it to another studio and publish the titles. Apogee Software was a big name in publishing years ago…
They won’t be able to really work on Duke Nukem titles any longer either seeing as the IP was sold to Gearbox. In the above mentioned interview, Scott Miller also replied to a question about whether the company would ever try to re-acquire the Duke Nukem IP. He said it’s “unlikely.” He also mentioned that he looks “forward to several decades worth of Duke console games released in a timely way”.

Timely = good. Console = meh.
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Source: Our Exclusive Duke Nukem Forever Interview with Scott Miller [Duke4.net]
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2010/09/18

Video Game Character Lookalikes: Matt Horner [StarCraft II]

We’re back with another instalment in the Video Game Character lookalikes series.

As you know, StarCraft II was released to much critical acclaim in July, and I couldn’t help but notice while playing the game that one character in particular reminded me of an A-list actor.

You know Matt Horner? That generic-named, goody two shoes captain of the Hyperion starship which was “borrowed” from the Dominion? He’s a dead ringer for Christian Bale, don’t you think?
Come on, they’ve got the same face basically, the same hair colour more or less, and Horner even shares the same hairline as Christian.

              2008 07 Christian Balecin_wings_terran05-full
                           Christian Bale                             Matt Horner

                              “Little Matt Horner sh@t in a corner.”
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2010/09/11

Looking Glass Studios Classics Dreamcast Beta Builds Discovered

         SS2T2

                                 System Shock 2 and Thief II: The Metal Age

Looking Glass Studios is known for having done two series that inspired their respective genres of FPS/RPG hybrid and the first-person sneaker: System Shock and Thief.

Up until now, those series have both been PC exclusives. This is no different with the sequels in those series, System Shock 2 and Thief II: The Metal Age – both great games, both of which I regard as even better than their predecessors. System Shock 2 is sometimes mentioned as one of the greatest PC games of all time, usually miles behind Deus Ex – a game it inspired.

But I read something interesting the other day. It was the Sega Dreamcast’s 11th anniversary this past week, and to coincide with this event, a collector happened upon what he claims are beta builds for Dreamcast versions of not only System Shock 2, but Thief II as well. He found them in a discarded development kit which apparently once belonged to Eidos. To date, I’d only really ever been aware of a Dreamcast port of SS2 which was eventually cancelled.

This person over at Dreamcast-Talk decided to share the files by uploading them to the PSO archive online. These beta versions of the game aren’t playable, but with enough work, it’s thought that at some time in the future, though doubtfully, you could be playing these classics on your old Dreamcast. Why you’d want to is another matter. But then I hear that it was quite the popular little console years ago, albeit short-lived seeing as the Playstation 2 and Xbox eclipsed it when they were released soon after.

In addition to the Dreamcast turning 11, System Shock 2 turned 11 last month, and Thief II had its tenth birthday earlier on this year. I also read that this week, the first PlayStation celebrated 15 years since it was brought to the US. So good news and reason to celebrate all round.

----

Source:

Download Unreleased Thief 2, System Shock 2 Dreamcast Beta Builds [GameSetWatch]


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