Slap Down Some Bucks, Get 10 Apps|
Hey all, quick interlude here. Working on new blog, Pokemon review, its all coming.
Go check out The Mac Pak. Slap down a few dollars, walk away with 10 applications that combined would cost you over $250. That's a serious bonus there.
Posted on May 1, 2007 at 11:16 am
Yes, Pokémon fans, Diamond and Pearl debut tomorrow (Sunday)! I've been waiting for a DS-native Pokémon game for quite awhile now, in truth.
To all those of you who say the game is for little kids, screw you. Pokémon is a solid RPG with amazing gameplay and fun storylines – a lot of RPG's nowadays could go a long way learning from the example Pokémon has set.
Grab your stylus' gentlemen, its time for war!
I'll have a review of Diamond up in the next couple of weeks, probably. But it may not be here on IMG....... Wait and see.
Posted on April 21, 2007 at 8:39 am
The Prospectus – AAA Mac Gaming '07|
Its been awhile. I remember back last year when I updated this blog at least twice a week. In remembrance of those happier times, I've put together a small piece as to how I think Mac gaming will go this year, and has gone so far. What's that? You're surprised that I'm actually doing a Mac gaming piece? Well never fear, I'll be back on the console topic soon enough with my Halo 3 beta impressions this May. Onward!
2006 was a dark year for Mac gaming, and I mean dark. AAA titles were few and far between, shareware bubble poppers inundated the Mac Games Store, and the few major titles we did get were woeful underachievers (I'm looking at you, Imperial Glory & Prey). I have no idea how well Imperial Glory sold, but I know for a fact that Prey sold like asparagus flavored Popsicles at a school carnival. Sorry Aspyr, I won't say "I told you so", although I hope that my negative propaganda campaign against it wasn't the actual cause for the flop.....
The only Mac game of '06 that I will truly applaud is Age of Empires 3 from MacSoft. This was truly a killer title and one that took me completely by surprise when I first learned of it. Everybody had signed off on Age of Empires 3 as a lost property until MacSoft pulled Ageia's guns out of the bag. Kudos to them.
The 2007th year of our Lord started off poorly, with a renewed flood of awful shareware games (I'm looking at you, ArchMage) and zero Super Titles. Two months into the year we saw the first arrival from Freeverse, Heroes of Might & Magic V, after who knows how long of a delay in getting the game out. From what I've heard its a great game, and is good enough to tide us over.
The Burning Crusade was released early on in the year and while this was hailed by many as a significant milestone for the Mac, you can't really judge the state of Mac gaming by Blizzard's pulse. They make one (1) game that doesn't really require any sort of major update or gameplay change. I love Blizzard and what they've done for us, but unless you're a World of Warcraft fanatic it doesn't really equate to much.
In early February we were greeted with the news that Empire at War was being ported by Aspyr. This was largely hailed as a good thing, and Mac gamers everywhere rejoiced and drank kool-aid. Originally I hailed this as a magnificent achievement, and I must confess I was as excited as everybody else by the announcement. In anticipation, I borrowed the game from a friend for the PC and played around with it for awhile. Disappointing, to say the least. There are a lot of fundamental gameplay errors present, and I can't bring myself to purchase this title for the Mac. There are better Star Wars games that make better use of ground and space RTS, if not rolled into the same game.
So how to sum up the first four months of 2007? LAME. Drag over the last months of 2006 and the situation becomes even more LAME.
Since the first four months have sucked royally, the last 3/4 of the year should be great, right? Well, let's take a look.
First up is an expansion pack for Age of Empires 3, entitled The War Chiefs. AoE3 was a great game and I really loved playing it (if not so much as AoE2) but I found the War Chiefs expansion pack on the PC to be a little, ehhhhhhhh. If you remember, The Conquerors expansion for Age of Empires 2 was an absolute dream come true, and really made online multiplayer matches shine. The War Chiefs does not add any substantial element of gameplay, or even really shift the focus of the game all that much. If you play AoE3 religiously, by all means purchase the expansion but otherwise prepare to be unimpressed.
Flyboys was announced on January 31 and made the eyes of Mac gamers everywhere roll malevolently. iEntertainment Network, I can tell you right now that this game will sell like wet corn dogs. LAME.
The Sims Life Stories was announ.........The Light BURN you Aspyr. Holy beard of Zeus, do we have to suffer through yet ANOTHER Sims expansion pack?! I wouldn't mind them so much if the company would occasionally release a real game that is half-way decent. But after suffering through Prey and choking on the mediocrity of Empire at War, my Aspyr Morale is quite low.......
Lego Star Wars 2 is on the horizon, a game I know for a fact is fun. Atta' boy there Feral, I knew you could do it. I've played this game on the 360 and let me tell you, its a blast.
What's this? ANOTHER Feral game? Black and White 2 has been out on the playing field for quite awhile, but after my time with the PC version I'm prepared to say that the game is quite fun to play, with excellent replay value. Where the original Black and White was all about throwing sheep, Black and White 2 is about creating a mighty civilization and then destroying the other guy's mighty civilization with your 500 foot god. With hundreds of soldiers running around, getting trampled or toasted in the mix, who wouldn't have fun? Think Warrior Kings meets the original Black and White and you'll get a fair idea.
Now, I never try to speculate as to what games I think will be ported, for two major reasons. One, I'm usually wrong and two, there are so many PC/console games out there that it becomes impossible to pick out which one the porting houses will latch onto.
My judgment of 2007 so far? Weak. My judgment of the future of 2007? So-so. There are some good games floating around out there, but nothing really spectacular. Its up to the major porting to start realizing what the gamers want, and then its just a matter of bringing it to them.
Feral – Big thumbs up guys. Keep up the good work.
MacSoft – Good showing there at the end of '06. Let's see another two AAA titles before the year is out.
Aspyr – Unsatisfactory. Mediocre strategy title coupled with yet another Sims pack on the heels of a boring shooter yield unhappy Mac gamers. Unless you like the Sims. But if you like the Sims, you're probably not reading this.
Freeverse – Good move with HOMM V. To tell the truth I was getting bored with all of the monkey-inspired card games. Big Bang Brain Games was fun though.
Ambrosia – Aside from Sketchfighter, I haven't had any fun with this company's games......
Posted on April 3, 2007 at 9:39 am
Halo 3 - Preparation|
With my recent purchase of Crackdown in order to snake my way into the Halo 3 beta coming this spring, my Halo blood has begun to boil and I thought everyone (or most people....) would enjoy reading my own perspectives on Halo 3. This is going to cover all of Halo 3, not just the multiplayer beta. **This article contains SPOILERS from Halo 2. If you haven't played Halo 2 yet because of some dim hope that it will come out on the Mac, look away.**
Halo 2 left off with the Covenant and Humanity engaged in battle in Earth's orbit along with a few clues showing that Earth's orbital defenses are not in such a good way. Furthermore, if you've read the recent book Ghosts of Onyx you learn that the Covenant have been victorious in space and are locked in the middle of a ground war against the humans as they struggle to unlock the key to the Forerunner artifacts hidden away on Earth.
There are a few strong suggestions as to what this super structure under the earth's crust actually is. First, at the end of Halo 2 you see Johnson, Keyes, and the Arbiter discussing with the Oracle where the Ark was (a structure, I presume, to be some sort of safe-house from Halo's galaxy-killer weapon, in keeping with Biblical passages, a recurrent theme in the Halo series). Next, the scene cuts right to a shot of Earth after the Arbiter asks where the Ark is (which, coincidentally, is where the Halo rings can be remote activated). Every storyline seems to be converging on Earth and most of the screenshots we've seen have been of Earth. Thus, it is my overarching conclusion that Earth is the Ark, or at least contains the Ark.
Bungie has really been polishing this game hard, and I've seen the screenshots to prove it. Almost all of the old weapons have been brought back, including the fan favorite Assault Rifle. I think we all remember with fondness the 60 round clip, the semi-accurate automatic spray – it still gives me shudders. Bungie definitely heard the cries of fans by bringing back the acclaimed weapon, but they've balanced it out a bit better. The clip has been cut in half and I believe that the overall power of the weapon has been reduced. I would dearly love to see the old assault rifle back in all its glory, mowing through hordes of Grunts and Elites. The best part was playing Co-Op with my brother and we could provide overlapping fields of fire so thick with bullets that not even a crack legion of the Flood could break through. Shudders.
You know you want it back.
The Xbox 360 is capable of some truly amazing graphics, and Halo 3 is shaping up to make use of some of the most amazing bump mapping, per pixel shading, HDR, normal mapping, self shadowing goodness you've ever seen in your life. I've heard more than one nay-sayer complain that the graphics don't match up to Gears of War but let's consider the facts. First and foremost, Halo 3 isn't finished. Bungie has testified that not all of the graphics are finished, and that a lot of the screenshots are using placeholder artwork until the art department finalizes the textures. Secondly, the lighting is still in development. I'm planning an article about lighting in games so I won't expound too much right now but excellent lighting and shadowing are really what bring out a game's visuals. You can have the most high-res photorealistic textures in the world but if you don't have the proper lighting effects then you might as well be drawing Bugs Bunny. Thirdly, consider Gears of War – it was a very enclosed game. The developers did a good job of preventing that claustrophobic feeling that comes with tight, linear game paths but the fact remains that Gears of War was capable of producing some great graphics because they weren't dealing with the most expansive world. Look back at the previous Halo games and you'll see some extremely large environments. Halo 3 will undoubtedly bring all of that back and more.
Its rare that you find a classic game series sporting top-notch music but Halo has always delivered some great soundtracks. Heck, I even have the soundtracks from the first two games on my computer and frequently listen to them. I was greatly pleased to learn that the legendary composer from the first two games, Marty O'Donnel, was coming back to finish off the final Halo. Mr. O'Donnel's music ranks right up there alongside greats like Koji Kondo, who has created scores for timeless classic franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. Halo's music has always been powerful, moving, and perfectly executed. The only possible complaint I have is that it occasionally clashes with the voice acting......
Voice acting in games is either really good or really really bad. I've played some games with awful voice and acting and those games immediately become classified as Prune Juice Games. Halo, however, has had great voice acting from the first and I look forward to hearing what Bungie has in store for us this time around. Granted, some of the Marine's phrases grew a little repetitive over the course of Halo 2 but as far as cut scenes and cinematics go the franchise has always been amazing. You're going to be hearing from all the old greats like Jen Harris who will be reprising her role as the Master Chief's sidekick AI, Cortana (she also does Princess Peach in the Mario games).
Now for some rambling..... There are several big issues I want resolved in this game – some of these might seem a little obvious but I feel the need to talk about them. First and foremost, The Flood. The Flood had an almost minor role in Halo 2 and served as more of a distraction from the storyline than anything else. Concurrent with my predictions that the great majority of Halo 3 will take place on Earth, there will need to be a Flood infestation to at least some level on our planet. Otherwise, what's the point?
Next, I want to see a ground war. And I mean a real ground war between Humans and Covenant with hundreds of soldiers trying to kill each other all at once (O.K., maybe not hundreds but you get my point). Bungie has stated that they've upped the unit count on both sides when it comes to battles, and I can only hope that we see some actual large-scale engagements. To tell the truth I get a little bored fighting as a one-man-army all the time, and games like Call of Duty have succeeded because of their ability to deliver great fight-as-a-team experiences. Medal of Honor games usually start out that way, with big opening level battles but quickly descend into boring, repetitive secret-agent style tasks.
I want to see Earth turned into a Halo. This might seem a little ridiculous, but consider this: how were the other Halos made after the original detonation? We know that it happened, and yet there are seven new rings out there (six now, I suppose). The only possible explanation I can see is that the Forerunners built Halo-Creator devices and implanted them on select worlds for future Halo rings to be made. I doubt this will happen, but it would be cool.
I realize that I didn't discuss the multiplayer much, and I've held back purposely on that front. The beta is probably only a month or two down the road, and I'd much rather write about my first-hand experiences with it then than bombard you all with my expectations and thoughts now. That said, the multiplayer aspect of the game isn't all that secretive and you can find fairly reliable information on the internet concerning it.
Ideas? Comments? Post 'em!
Posted on February 27, 2007 at 10:32 am
A Little Sluggish - PARTICIPATE|
I have a massive Halo article in the works for my next article, but at the moment I'm having a little trouble motivating myself to finish. What with work, podcast, and IMG being all but dead keeping myself fired up and community-minded is a little difficult.
I suppose people could change that. This is my appeal to everybody to start participating again. IMG is a wonderful community with great members, and it pains me to see it going by the wayside. I know that the news is a little slow right now but that shouldn't stop people from being active in the community.
Comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you. As a general rule I prefer less email (I get so much email there is no way I could ever respond to it all) but at the moment I'm ready to listen. Just stick "about your blog" in the subject line and I'll set it up so that it routes into a special mailbox for this. I can't guarantee I'll respond to everybody but at the very least I'll put your message up in the blog with your commentary.
I don't care what your email is about so long as it pertains to something within the gaming industry. We just need something to discuss.
Halo 3 article sometime....... next week. Maybe. Depends on how many emails I get.
Posted on February 22, 2007 at 8:35 pm