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Thursday, May 15, 2008

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Nexus Dungeon Revealed For Wrath Of The Lich King
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment's dungeons section on the Wrath of the Lich King website has been updated with details on Nexus, a new dungeon for the second expansion for World of Warcraft. The update includes information and screenshots for the blue dragonflight's home base in Northrend.

Determined to forestall a catastrophe, Malygos decreed that the world's unbridled magic must be reined in by any means necessary. And so the great Aspect turned to the Arcanomicon, a map of the world's ley lines. Gifted to Malygos ages ago by the titan Norgannon, the Arcanomicon has been continuously updated and revised by the blue dragons over the long years of Malygos's seclusion.

Now Malygos uses the Arcanomicon to locate and tap into the ley lines, diverting the magical powers that course beneath the earth to his home base in Northrend, the Nexus. Once harnessed, the energies are focused through the Nexus' ascending rings and blasted into the Twisting Nether. Malygos's redirection of the ley lines has carried disastrous consequences, however, splintering the world's crust and opening unstable rifts: tears in the very fabric of the magical dimension.

Malygos' siphoning of the world's magic has not gone unnoticed by the mortal races. The weakening members of the Kirin Tor, the elite magi of Dalaran, have sworn to fight Malygos to the bitter end. In fact, the magi have used their waning powers to transfer the entire city of Dalaran to float above Northrend. From this vantage point, the magi prepare for the next step in their battle against the Lich King, and for the inevitable confrontation with Malygos.
Head over to the site below to read more.

Wrath of the Lich King: Nexus
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

Inside Mac Games Reviews the Tritton AXPC and AX360
4:22 PM | Bryan Clodfelter | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games is pleased to announce that our official review of Tritton's AXPC and AX360 gaming headsets is up and ready for your reading enjoyment. Here's a clip from the review:

Before we begin, it is important to note that multichannel headset audio is something of a taboo among audio enthusiasts for several legitimate reasons. First and foremost, multichannel audio requires many more drivers than stereo audio. Packing all of that hardware into a very confined space is an unlikely recipe for aural excellence, which is why high-end vendors avoid the concept entirely. Second, the cost of a typical 5.1 headset falls into the range of what audio enthusiasts consider to be the domain of good, entry-level stereo headphones (like the Grado SR-60). With a larger number of drivers and only a small price premium, multichannel headsets like the AXPC and AX360 tend to suffer from subpar audio fidelity when compared to their traditional peers. Theoretically, gaming puts more of a premium on the accurate directional reproduction of sound than its aural fidelity, therefore, the question of whether or not Tritton has managed to make that tradeoff worthwhile will be the focus of this discussion.
To check out the rest of the review, follow the link below.

IMG Review of the Tritton AXPC & AX360
TRI-GA600 AX360 Headset
TRI-UA512 AXPC Headset
Tritton Technologies

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IMG Reviews Airport Mania: First Flight
6:20 AM | Marcus Albers | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of the new time management game from Reflexive, Airport Mania: First Flight. Here's a clip from the review:

The only real complication to the gameplay for Airport Mania is in trying to maximize your combinations, which is the key to earning each level's Supreme score (you can reach the bare minimum or Master score as well). You can chain combinations by landing or taking consecutive planes off from runways, which can be tricky as the combo time limit is fairly short. The bread and butter of the game, though, is trying to chain planes of the same color at corresponding gates. The first time a plane docks at a gate, that gate will then assume that planes color. The next plane of the same color to use that gate will up the combo multiplier and so forth, all the way up to a times four multiplier. And, of course, the time will come when there will be more plane colors coming at you than there are gates to accommodate them. That means you need to play a hectic juggling game with timing and predications as to which colors will yield the fewest planes for that level.
Follow the link below to read the full game review.

IMG Review: Airport Mania: First Flight
Airport Mania: First Flight
Reflexive Entertainment
Buy Airport Mania: First Flight

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Exploring The Underground In Avernum 5
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

RPGWatch has posted a new review of Spiderweb Software's Avernum 5. The latest installment in the long running RPG series takes a new direction with the story, allowing players to explore as a group of soldiers from the above ground world of the Empire. RPGWatch gave the game a score of 4 out of 5.

From the review:

Speaking of encounters, Jeff Vogel spoke in interviews prior to release about trying to remove the “trash” combats – those generic fights that serve only to fill out the content. The Avernum series has always leaned towards lots of combat – and Avernum V is no exception – but it's obvious that a lot of effort has been put into reducing random encounters and beefing up quest-related sequences and boss fights. And boy, are some of them memorable – the Soultaker's Pit, for example, is one of the most insidious dungeons I've played in a long time; equal parts frustratingly difficult but satisfying to finish.

Combat is definitely a central plank of the gameplay. As always, the combat model is based on a simple turn-based, party-based system that is solid and enjoyable but can get repetitive over the course of the game. I've reviewed four or five Spiderweb games over the last few years and one of my biggest complaints has been the lack of options for non-magic characters – there were plenty of overall tactics in party-building, positioning characters during encounters and managing buffs and spells across the group but if a character didn't use spells, they only had a standard attack (not including some passive abilities). Avernum V finally addresses this with Battle Disciplines and while the system isn't perfect, it's a welcome addition.

Battle Disciplines are special abilities that individual characters progressively unlock from a pool, based on a combination of their combat-related skill scores - which means with a couple of judicious choices mages and priests can also access them. During their turn, characters can add a Battle Discipline to their attack – they'll then have to wait a few turns for the fatigue to subside before using one again. Examples of Battle Disciplines include Shield Breaker, which makes foes more vulnerable to attacks for a few rounds and Berserker Rage, which adds some buffs for a while in return for a small reduction in health.
Check out the full review at the link provided below.

RPGWatch: Avernum 5 Review
Spiderweb Software
Avernum 5
Buy Avernum 5

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Battling The Bright Lights In Neon Tango
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

Mac|Life recently posted a new review of Freeverse's Neon Tango. The game is an action shooter which gives players a chance to pilot a cybership against the forces of chaos. Mac|Life gave Neon Tango a score of 4 out of 5.

From the review:

With Neon Tango, Freeverse conjures up the spirit of classic, vector-line arcade games. This unabashedly retro shooter features typical, blast-anything-that-moves gameplay that would normally cost you an afternoon pumping quarters into a cabinet. And even though Neon Tango never feels completely original, its high standards make for some fun shooting.

Your tiny, triangular ship is stuck moving forward, but you can use keyboard controls to turn, speed up, and strafe sideways. These choices are surprisingly effective, and we piloted our ship through 50 unique levels, hiding behind walls and peeking out around corners. And in the game’s most interesting touch, we banked shots off walls around those turns. Otherwise, we held the spacebar to keep shooting, but different enemies and varying level designs make the game less repetitious. An always-ready super-shot can be charged up every few seconds, and individual power-ups can be gathered and used. All the weapons feel great, shattering neon enemies on impact.
Head over to the site below to read the rest.

Mac|Life: Neon Tango Review
Neon Tango

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Blizzard's Arena Tournaments
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Big Download has published an article examining the new arena tournament content in Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft MMO. Blizzard's Lead Designer Tom Chilton and eSports Manager Joong Kim discuss a variety of topics including the introduction of tournaments to the game and the future of PvP in Azeroth.

What is the ultimate goal with the Tournament Arena? Will there eventually be televised gameplay?
Tom: As a game designer, my ultimate goal is to have it be fun and exciting. I'm sure Paul has more to add.

Paul: As far as televising goes, eventually the players competing online will transition to a live event to each of the regions where we're running the tournament. The winners of those live events will go to a global final. We know our players are very interested in watching, so we're looking to broadcast them in some way. We'll be releasing more details as we get closer to those events.
There is an objective. We want to give our players the opportunity to become pros and show off their talents. Our players will have the opportunity to become superstars within the World of Warcraft community.

What are some of the challenges in developing PvP content and balancing it against the PvE aspect of the game?
Tom: There are a lot of challenges. World of Warcraft is a very complex game, and you can break PvE down into a whole bunch of subcategories like soloing and questing. Then there's 5-man content, 10-man content and 25-player content - all have their own type of balance. Then throw small and large group PvP on top of all that. At the same time, we're trying to preserve the feel of a class-based game, where each class feels distinct and a different gameplay experience.
The reality is, we know the game wouldn't be as balanced as a game that is purely designed for competitive eSports, but it's balanced enough for people to feel good about their classes and their choices. We're keeping in close communications and getting to a point where people feel that all the classes are viable across all the different situations. That's certainly the case in PvE. We see more viable classes and specializations now than before The Burning Crusade. So, even though we've introduced a competitive element with PvP, we've managed to improve the balance for PvE.
The full article is available at the link provided below.

Big Download: PvP vs PvE
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft
Buy World of Warcraft

Mac Games News for Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Eschalon: Book I Spell List Revealed6:00 AM
Jeff Kaplan Discusses Wrath Of The Lich King6:00 AM
Macgamestore Celebrates 4th Birthday With iMac Giveaway6:00 AM
Penny Arcade Adventures Coming Next Week6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, May 14, 2008 on one page

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