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Dec 3, 2010
Web browsers, not home consoles, will be the true next-gen gaming platform, according to former Sony president Phil Harrison.
Speaking at the Italian Videogame Developers Conference in Rome, as reported by Develop, the industry veteran asked the crowd whether they believed they would ever see a Modern Warfare 2-calibre game running in a browser.
"I think the answer is yes," he said. "I think in the next five-to-ten years we will easily get this level of game inside a web browser, on your mobile platform, on your iPad, and we will be able to deliver that level of immersion to any kind of screen."
Harrison went on to predict a SEGA vs Nintendo-esque 'browser war' for industry domination.
"The gathering storm that I'm talking about is about the technology that is going to go into a web browser that is going to power very rich, very impressive gameplay."
"Somebody is going to win. Somebody is going to deliver console level 3D graphics, video and audio into a web browser. That will be the tipping point for the evolution of our industry that will accelerate what we can do in a browser, and I think will create the next generation platform for games."
Harrison went on to claim that 68 per cent of all global venture capital money invested in games is in online.
"These investments will create the economies of tomorrow," he explained. "These companies will be creating the new technologies, experiences, game business models of tomorrow.
"This kind of investment will start to see big changes in our industry in the next three-to-five years in our industry. There's a lot of space here, and those spaces are opportunities."
Dec 3, 2010
The Rock Band 3 MIDI Pro-Adapter will be released in the UK "late next week" for around £34.99 / 39.99, Mad Catz has told Eurogamer.
Mad Catz, Harmonix's official partner when it comes to Rock Band 3 accessories, said the MIDI Pro-Adapter will be available to buy from "all leading online retailers".
The PlayStation 3 and Wii version of the adapter will be released first, then the Xbox 360 version "shortly after".
The MIDI Pro-Adapter allows Rock Band 3 owners to use the Squier by Fender Stratocaster Guitar and Controller, due out in the US in March for $279.99 (around £175 / 199). The Squier is a fully functional, full-sized electric guitar with strings that doubles as a game controller for Rock Band 3's Pro mode.
The adapter also allows gamers to use "most real" MIDI keyboards and MIDI drum sets when playing the game. It plugs directly into the console via USB, converting the MIDI messages into console controller data which the game translates into on-screen action.
There's a velocity sensitive adjustment for MIDI drums, designed to reduce cross-talk during play, a full D-Pad and standard gaming controller buttons and a removable clip, which allows gamers to attach to a belt or rest on a table top or similar flat surface.
Meanwhile, Mad Catz said it was aware some Rock Band 3 owners were having trouble buying peripherals for the stunning music game. It promised 100 per cent availability from its own online store, Gameshark.
"Incidentally, we know that some folks are still finding difficulty getting hold of some instruments and accessories," a Mad Catz spokesperson told Eurogamer this evening.
"Mad Catz would like to remind gamers that we are the official partners with Harmonix and thus our webstore carries pretty much everything in the Rock Band range from software through to legacy instruments and of course the new Rock Band 3 products."
Dec 3, 2010
Here's what we were picking from: Out This Week.
This is a momentous week for European gamers. Two years after its release as a DS game in the US, four since it saw the light of day in Japan and over 12 since the series was first conceived... Air Traffic Controller arrives on our shores!
You may remember it as Air Traffic Chaos, the game which almost ruined Christmas for me two years ago. "Air Traffic Chaos is... a basic, bizarrely unglamorous, stern and unloving mistress that you just cannot bring yourself to leave, to stop wanting to please," I wrote back then.
"The extras, options, and number of stages are a slap in the face, the rewards pitiful and the pain great, but you won't care; and you'll spend dozens of hours compulsively playing it, more than you will many other more lavish and entertaining DS games. I struggled for a long time to come up with a reason for this, but it might be as simple as this: Air Traffic Chaos is, basically, terribly, perfect."
Perhaps it would go down better as a 59p iPhone game than a £25 cart, but gaming masochists everywhere (and we all secretly like a little punishment now and then, don't we?) should buy this ridiculously compelling and exquisitely tuned game anyway.
Also showing up late in Europe, albeit only by a few months, is the expansion to the thinking man's 2D fighter, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. Matt rates it, and there's nothing he doesn't know about this stuff.
The other trend this week is for retro compilations, which we're all for, as long as they treat the source material with care. Prince of Persia Trilogy was a disappointment, not so the lavish and excessively charming Sly Collection, which has the added benefit of featuring overlooked classics you might have missed. Rectify that straight away.
Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary is more of a known quantity and its component parts are already available for download, but that's no reason not to celebrate these foundation stones of the medium. "The best ever packaging (in my opinion), the best ever advert, with its depiction of an entire planet craving the return of its dungareed hero, and the best ever incidence of product placement in a Fred Savage movie," noted Christian with appropriate solemnity about Super Mario Bros. 3.
All in all, considering it's the first week of December and the Christmas release rush is officially over, there are lots of great, albeit slightly old, videogames to buy in the shops this week. And one of these old games is also brand new.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
It has been a great year for the 2D platformer a genre that was missing, presumed dead just a few years ago. The rise of the download game saved a dying art, with brilliant indie crossovers Super Meat Boy and Limbo exploring its creative extremes, as well as saving a dying character with the last-gasp revivalism of Sonic 4.
Nintendo's got the characters, the confidence and the pedigree to slap these games in a box and ask full price for them, and we're not going to argue nor, going by the evergreen sales of the two New Super Mario Bros. games, is the buying public. Resuscitating Rare's Donkey Kong Country SNES games was the task it set Metroid Prime studio Retro, and in a word, they nailed it.
"It's so reminiscent of the original titles you can almost forget this credit crunch nonsense ever happened, and pretend you still live in a world where going to the shops on Sunday is a novelty, saying 'Psyche!' is acceptable and a long and successful career lies ahead for Chaka Demus & Pliers," said Ellie 'did I mention I got 101% on the original' Gibson, awarding a 9. "The illusion would be complete if Cranky Kong didn't look so much like Vince Cable."
Too much nostalgia this week? Maybe, but old games and old genres shouldn't have to die, and gaming needs to stop trying to bury its past or it'll end up in therapy. Let's hear it for the good old days.
Dec 3, 2010
They say it's called a revolution because over time it always comes full circle. And that saying applies perfectly the Total War series.
In 2000, Shogun: Total War came marching over the hill to change the way we look at real-time strategy gaming forever. Now, a decade on, the masterminds behind the franchise hope Shogun 2 will represent another groundbreaking milestone. Only this time, Creative Assembly is targeting a multiplayer revolution.
"In Napoleon we had a multiplayer campaign and drop-in battles for the first time," explains Ian Roxburgh, multiplayer design lead on Total War: Shogun 2.
"We've kept those and now the multiplayer campaign also includes a fully co-operative mode. You can share field of view and victory conditions with your team mate.
"We've also added a feature called Unit Sharing, so when you're attacked by the AI your ally can enter the battle with you and control some of your troops. It means both players can remain involved at all times."
While this feature is a welcome addition, it's far from being Shogun 2's most standout multiplayer innovation. That accolade goes to the revamped skirmish multiplayer mode which, unlike the modes featured in previous Total War games, attempts to inject context into brutal online bloodbaths.
"What we want to do is make multiplayer feel more like the essence of Total War," Roxburgh reveals. "We want each multiplayer battle to mean something. You still choose an army and then fight someone but now there's a context to it.
"We're calling it the Avatar system. You now get to create and level-up a general unit who will stay with you for the duration of your multiplayer escapades and lead your troops into battle."
Extensive aesthetic customisation options will allow you to create a visually unique commander, and your Avatar's abilities will also be upgradable via a skill tree. Fighting battles will earn you experience that can be channelled into a number of specialist areas, including your general's ability to rally his troops or wield bows with increasing skill.
"We really want to give players a feeling of ownership over a leader character that can be customised and upgraded," says Roxburgh.
While the tried and tested way of playing multiplayer from previous Total War titles will be retained in Shogun 2, this sequel aims to transform our battles against opponents in mysterious faraway lands like Scunthorpe or Stroud into more purposeful encounters.
Along with taking advantage of avatar upgrades you'll be able to bolster your troops' abilities, making them faster, stronger, deadlier and able to go longer between toilet breaks in wintry conditions. Clearly, the opportunity to mould your armies to suit your playing style has the potential to exponentially broaden the series' multiplayer appeal and longevity.
These new multiplayer battles will be orchestrated from a traditional turn-based campaign map similar to the ones we've grown to love during the series' single player experiences. It features 65 provinces and 12 naval regions across which players will form clans and fight for ownership of Japan.
Each of the provinces possesses its own tactical, economical and military advantages. Some contain specific dojos that allow you to recruit higher level troops, ensuring your army options will ultimately be decided by your battlefield prowess.
"As a member of a clan, when you capture a region, you earn points for your clan for that particular province," explains Roxburgh. "The clan with the most points owns the region and gains the benefits from it.
"We have a dynamic system that creates new gaming worlds depending on how many clans are entering. About 30 clans will fight in any one gaming world. Each 'season' will last two weeks, after which the top clans will be promoted and the bottom ones relegated."
During your journey of conquest, your general will acquire retainers: objects or individuals linked to your avatar. "As you capture certain regions you'll attain more retainers," reveals Roxburgh.
"You can also take them into a battle with you to gain an extra edge. You have a certain number of retainer slots ranging from one to five - depending on what level your avatar is - that you can take into a battle.
"One option is to send a spy to check on the enemy during the deployment stage to see where they've positioned their troops. Or maybe you use a retainer to increase the strength of your spearmen because you know the opposition will be susceptible to spear attacks. There are around 70 retainers in total."
As well as pushing Shogun's multiplayer nuances, Roxburgh was keen for me to get to grips a single-player campaign siege battle against an AI opponent. This took place on a mountainside sleek with freshly driven snow, and saw me facing off with a superior-sized aggressor attempting to take the multi-layered fortress I was defending. While bazooka-toting samurai (apparently they really did exist) pummelled my fortifications, I picked them off with arrow fire in a desperate bid to prevent them from breaking through.
The sweeping majesty of the setting made for a visually stunning encounter as the two sides exchanged missiles, though unfortunately those now all too familiar AI bugbears that have blighted the Total War series in recent years again reared their heads. The AI often seemed overly static, predictable and unresponsive. Hopefully this will be rectified before release.
The multiplayer battle I tried out was another fittingly titanic encounter as two armies faced off on opposite sides of a valley. Sitting between the two sides were a number of strategic buildings, a new feature that Roxburgh believes will make players more proactive and less defensively minded.
"Within the multiplayer battles we've introduced the concept of key buildings. There are now key buildings on the map which if captured give you a bonus to some of your units depending on the type of units they are," he says.
"We've added this primarily to stop people from sitting on hills during battles. Now if one player sits on a hill, the other player can capture the buildings in order to counter the terrain advantage enjoyed by the player holding the high ground."
As any Total War buff knows, it's a controversial move to add such a 'gamey' feature to a strategy series that prides itself on authenticity. However, Creative Assembly's reasoning behind this new addition does make some sense.
Anyone who's spent their nights trying to outstare 5000 men on the opposite side of a level to see who'll blink first will understand the frustration that can accompany a Total War multiplayer game. Conversely, though, it's this endless cat-and-mouse-style psychological warfare which often contributes to making these skirmishes so memorable.
The addition of these key buildings certainly seemed to speed up the action as both sides attempted to gain the edge provided by capturing them. But it was impossible to tell from just one battle whether this new approach will ultimately improve the multiplayer experience or dilute it. Perhaps an option to turn bonus buildings off could be one way to safeguard against a purist backlash.
While it's hard to make any definitive judgements on the single-player campaign, or the yet-to-be-seen naval battles, it's clear that Shogun 2's revamped multiplayer features have huge potential to engage players like never before. The need to form clans in order to compete might just put some gamers off, however.
Here's hoping Creative Assembly has more to reveal by the time we've wiped the blood from our katanas, washed the sinews of our hewn enemies from our hair, mediated on our victories and had a nice cup of tea.
Dec 3, 2010
Strategy game Civilization V has made history after becoming the first videogame to be nominated for a Grammy Award.
Composes Christopher Tin received the nomination for track Baba Yetu, which features in Civ V's opening theme. Fancy a listen? Check out the video below. It reminds us of The Lion King.
Baba Yetu, which features the Soweto Gospel Choir, was short-listed for the "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists" category, reports Gamasutra.
Baba Yetu's going up against Roger Treece's "Baby", Vince Mendoza's "Based On A Thousand True Stories", Geoffrey Keezer's "Don't Explain" and Herbie Hancock and Larry Klein's "Imagine".
Will Tin, and by association Civ 5, win? We'll find out on 13th February, when the winner will be announced at the awards ceremony.
Dec 3, 2010
DICE has another Battlefield: Vietnam map for Bad Company 2 - but this time you'll have to earn it. You and the entire Bad Company 2 community, that is.
Clock up a staggering 69 million team actions in either Bad Company 2 or the Vietnam expansion and ding, the Operation Hastings map from Battlefield: Vietnam will be unlocked.
This event spans PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, and DICE starts counting team actions on 21st December - the day the Bad Company 2 expansion Vietnam is released.
Team actions are resupply, heal, revive, spot and repair.
The Vietnam expansion can be pre-ordered on PC from the EA Store now. It costs a tenner.
Video: 'Nam your price.
Dec 3, 2010
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn developer Hiroyuki Takahashi loves the 3DS so much he's "excited" to create a game for it.
Unfortunately, though, he won't say what he's got up his sleeve.
"I'm afraid I can't go into detail at this time, but the features of Nintendo 3DS are really exciting to me as a developer," the Camelot boss told IGN.
"I'm really excited to challenge myself and create something for it."
Camelot is behind a raft of Mario Golf and Mario Tennis games for Nintendo platforms. Could it be hard at work on a 3DS entry in either of those series?
Japanese role-playing fans will hope that Takahashi is so excited by the 3DS that he gives it the Golden Sun treatment - the series is considered by many to be the best in the JRPG class.
Dec 3, 2010
Over a year after the release of the Xbox 360 version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, developer Terminal Reality has fixed a bug that prevented players from collecting four Achievements.
The Xbox 360 version of Ghostbusters was released in the UK in October last year after a period of exclusivity on PlayStation 3.
Four multiplayer Achievements were glitched, preventing fans from that perfect Gamerscore until now.
"The Ghostbusters Xbox 360 multiplayer patch is now available! Many thanks to all of our wonderful supporters for their patience and continued support! The next step is to go get those achievements, and they are some doozies! Thanks to our awesome QA staff, we have a step-by-step walkthrough of how to go about getting them," Terminal Reality said on its Facenook page.
Ellie crossed the streams and discovered a 7/10 in Eurogamer's Ghostbusters: The Video Game review.
Terminal Reality is currently hard at work on the Kinect Star Wars game, due out next Christmas.
Dec 3, 2010
Beloved British comics Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones are promoting a brand new Monty Python virtual world for Facebook.
It will be known as The Ministry of Silly Games.
Developer Zattika hopes to rekindle the bonkers style of Python and turn many cherished sketches into games within a game. At launch (whenever that is) there will be the following pursuits: Twit Russian Roulette, Camelot Smashalot, Grumbly Flower Arranging, King Arthur's Knight Fight, Monty Python's Scratch and Sniff, Mr Creosote, Gillaxian and Aerial Antics.
"For years, people have wondered what it would be like to catapult livestock at French fortresses or play Russian Roulette with an Upper Class Twit," commented Terry Jones.
Terry Gilliam added: "The Ministry of Silly Games looks like what was inside my head when I was creating all that iconic imagery."
Ellie Gibson went along to the London event yesterday to chat to both Gilliam and Jones. The results we'll publish on Eurogamer next week - maybe they talked about X-Factor.
Meanwhile, pop your name down for the Ministry of Silly Games beta now, or peruse the official website for some minuscule screenshots.
Dec 3, 2010
Gamers have this morning bought £45 Wii-exclusive platformer Donkey Kong Country Returns not with money but with bananas.
Nintendo popped over pictures from this morning's launch to prove it. Check them out below. There are people wearing gorilla suits waiting outside GAME. Amazing scenes.
Nintendo said "hordes" of gamers turned up at the three shops taking part in the promotion: GAME in Oxford Street, London and Merry Hill, Dudley, and GameStation at Prospect Centre, Hull.
Some even queued from last night. Bananas.
"I love the Donkey Kong games", said Donkey Kong fan Roger Tantchev. "I would have queued to get my hands on it as soon as possible anyway, but to have got the game for just a bunch of bananas is a huge bonus!"
Roger is sure to be pleased with his purchase. Ellie turned up a 9/10 in Eurogamer's Donkey Kong Country Returns review. It's well hard, but there's a Super Guide feature that helps those who get stuck.