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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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Spore Galactic Adventures Previewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story has published a preview of some of Spore Galactic Adventures' main features. The expansion for Will Wright's evolution sim will offer the ability to beam down to planets, an equipment editor, and an Adventure Creator that will allow players to create their own missions and share them with others.

After you’ve set the scene with a few aliens and a smattering of cities then it’s time to start filling those occupants with something else – purpose! The adventure editor is mostly text driven when it comes to dialogue, but you’re not just limited to providing your actors with lines in your effort to make them into performing monkeys, you can also add certain behaviours.

The behaviours on offer do admittedly seem a little simplistic at first – you can toggle specific aliens to be friendly, aggressive, cowardly and so on – but as time goes on you learn to use these tools more effectively and in conjunction with the other tools. You can set patrol routes or have actors wander aimlessly, you can have them track other animals and set up food-chains and so on, combining these actions with text and behaviours to create certain effects.

There are a wide range of objectives that can be added into your missions – you can task players with having to recruit, kill, befriend, capture, find, eat, destroy, defend and so on, but in our opinion the real magic lies in the use of IF and OR commands. Using these you can create branching paths to your adventure – saying that you should either kill the bunny or protect it, for example. If you killed it then you might get a prize, if not then not.

Ostensibly, the equipment editor isn’t altogether too different from the creature creator, or any other creator from the original game. It’s certainly not like the multi-faceted adventure editor as it basically involves dragging and dropping certain shapes onto your creature depending on where and what you want the final item to be.

Want to make a ray-gun? That’s easy, just mount one of the special projectile or laser props on your creature's wrist/arm/tentacle/chest, resize it and add some extra decorations onto it, paint it and you’re done. Congratulations, you just made a death-ray!

There are still a few interesting tweaks and changes that have been made to the editor though, such as the way that the new energy meter (which is the equipment editor’s version of the complexity scale) is linked to the size and shape of your creations. It’s also linked to the abilities of your items too – if your ray-gun is too big then it’ll rapidly run out of ammo and be slow to reload.

Nor are freeze-rays and laser-pistols the only things that you can create either – you’ll also be able to make jetpacks that can launch you over mountains and fling you into oceans. Those are handy things if you evolved along such a path that rendered wings redundant.

Check out the full preview at the page listed below. Spore Galactic Adventures Preview
Electronic Arts
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FusionFall Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Macworld has posted a new review of FusionFall, Cartoon Networks' recently released MMO. The online game puts players in the role of a kid in a re-imagined Cartoon Network universe where they team up with other players and Cartoon Network characters to defend it from an alien invasion. Macworld gave the game a score of 3.5 out of 5 mice.

From the review:

FusionFall does a lot of things right. As a browser-based game, more people can enjoy it and it doesn’t have demanding system requirements. The graphics aren’t spectacular, but on par with similar MMOs of the last couple of years. The game is easy to use but the tutorial quickly shoves you out the door into the world of FusionFall. A better explanation on how to use the economies and transportation systems is needed, but those components don’t come into play until later in the game.

Game saves are automatic, and health regenerates automatically over time, ensuring that the game isn’t too difficult for beginning players. The game incorporates platforming on every level, so the gameplay isn’t as limited in its focus as some MMORPGs.

FusionFall’s parental settings are top of the line, and Cartoon Network goes the extra mile to discourage prolonged playing sessions-players experience diminishing returns in the reward system after an hour of play. The rewards system resets after you log out for a period of time, enough for kids to study or actually go outside and play. Parents can also set up master accounts to limit a child’s account and restrict chat options.
Read the full review at the link provided below.

Macworld: FusionFall Review

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City Of Heroes Issue 13 Examined
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Boomtown has posted a review of the features offered in the latest City of Heroes update, Issue 13. The latest additions to the game include customizable shields, the pain domination power for villains, changes to PvP, and the introduction of day jobs for heroes.

First of all you can now create shield based toons and villains have finally received a empathy-like powerset, Pain domination, which despite not being quite as sinister and adult-themed as the name implies, still fills a gap. The shield set comes with tons of customizable shields and after the initial rush of Captain America look-a-likes (which were banned faster than you can say "Avengers Assemble!") the creativity of the players is amazing. You rarely see the same shield twice.

The Shield set itself is interesting but not quite as team-based as feared, skilled players can push it to the same limits as the other scrapper sets. It includes some very interesting buffs depending on whether you’re close to enemies and/or allies and especially brutes and scrappers benefit a lot from its offensive capabilities. Tank wise it doesn’t feel strong enough to compete with the Stone or Willpower sets.

The Pain Domination set is a very nice asset for villain teams providing the first empathy like healing abilities on the villain side without ruining the concept of "villains are too evil to heal each other" too much. The powers show that the developer has learned many tricks in the past four years, as it has included small buffs and penalties that force the player to use that gray mass between the ears. Visually the set is very nicely done and gives the player a distinct look. It’s a very team based class, though, and if you’re an aggressive solo player, you can find much more powerful sets in the game. But the same can be said about empaths.

Issue 13 introduced the biggest change ever to Player Versus Player action with powers working very differently from standard PVE gameplay. Since I am not a PVPer myself, I cannot rate that part of the new Issue, but it doesn’t seem to have reached the developer's goal, namely to increase the number of players enjoying the PVP part of the game. That’s just my own subjective impression, though, I don’t have specific numbers to base that impression on.

The final major change has been the introduction of day jobs. NCsoft taps into the lore surrounding super heroes that they have a secret identity, normal jobs and normal human problems. In the game you can now choose to log off at a vast number of places that provide you with a day job – for example in shops, in the universities or in the train stations. Each day job provides you with a small bonus such as faster travel speed or a mission XP increase. On top of that you now get a 50 % XP bonus while you are logged off, much like "rested XP" in certain other games.
For the full review click over to the link below.

Boomtown: City Of Heroes Issue 13
City of Heroes
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Editing Maps In StarCraft II
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 9 comments has published a new article about StarCraft II's included map editor. The article traces Blizzard Entertainment's history with map editors, offers a list of features offered in previous games, and details what is currently known about the editing tools scheduled to ship with StarCraft II.

The StarCraft II Editor Confirmed Features:
• Will fully support multiplayer campaigns and linked maps. This enables players to play through entire campaigns together.
• Mix and match your own tileset in the editor.
• Any unit or object can be placed anywhere, regardless of their natural environment.
• Weather effects will be possible to use, including turning them on and off with triggers.
• Night/day effects will also be usable.
• A third custom resource is added to StarCraft II that can be used by mapmakers.
• Allowing heroes and units to gain "experience" is built into the Map Editor.
• Units can be toggled to have the ability to carry an inventory like in WarCraft III.
• The maximum map size will still be 256x256.
• Upgrades will now be downgradeable via triggers by using a negative value.
• Custom races are fully supported, including the ability to choose them from the game lobby while playing melee maps (as long as the mod defining the race is loaded).
• Create your own abilities, including ability animations and effects in the datafiles (no triggers needed).
• Blur effects from StarCraft II's cloaked will be removable.
• Possible to use the full 3D cinematics mechanic from the single player campaign to create movies.
• Buildings will be able to produce whatever units the map maker sets it to.
• The entire Tech Tree will be customizable with in-game triggers.
• Mapmakers will now be able to use map locking (encryption) their maps, disabling other mapmakers from editing it and re-releasing it in their own name.
• A large number of extra units, abilities and buildings that are made but not implemented in the game will still be available for mapmakers and modders.
• Up until release, Blizzard checks the forums for good suggested features to add to the Editor.
• In the future, there will be opportunities for map makers to get their maps added to ladder pools. Selection based on quality for multiplayer games.
Head over to the link below to read the full article. StarCraft II Map Editing
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

Mac Games News for Tuesday, January 27, 2009

IMG Reviews Cooking Dash9:47 AM
Aquaria Reviewed6:00 AM
City Of Heroes Mac Special Edition Trailer Available6:00 AM
The Making Of id's Doom6:00 AM
WoW Movie Still In Production, Will Be Live Action6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Tuesday, January 27, 2009 on one page

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