Thursday, 30 October 2014

WWE Analysed: My fears for the future

Professional wrestling is one of those real guilty pleasures.  Here is a show that puts real athletes into a pure pantomime drama mixed with chair shots, elbow drops and power bombs.  It's all scripted but the danger is real for the people who put themselves in the ring each and every week.  I started watching WWF on Sky television back in the late 1980's when I was four or five years old.  The first match I ever saw was the Bushwackers fighting some fat guy jobber and biting his ass.  For a little kid this was fucking hilarious and the show only got better.  These huge guys come out, beat the shit out of each other and act like comic characters is what really made wrestling cool for me back then.  I was ahead of the curve in my school knowing about wrestling when every other kid was running around pretending to be a mutant ninja turtle, I was throwing big boots like Hulk Hogan and putting imaginary foes into the sharpshooter like Bret Hart.

Jump ahead to the late 90's and wrestling became the shit.  Everyone was watching it with the highlight being Stone Cold Steve Austin and his feud with the owner of WWF, Vince McMahon.  To put it bluntly the Attitude era was the best period of professional wrestling not because of the wrestling which at times was poor but because the product gave every viewer out there something they could enjoy.  If you liked the wrestling you had wrestlers who could deliver like Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart.  If you wanted some eye candy you had the valet's like Deborah, Sable, Sunny and more.  Comedy was there with the antics of D-generation X.  Hardcore wrestling was there with the likes of Terry Funk, Mick Foley and the New Age Outlaws.  Crazy storylines that had memorable moments such as Austin's attack on McMahon in the hospital or the famous beer bath.  The Attitude era had it all and is still fondly remembered to this day by fans.

A major help to draw all of this momentum was the fact that WWF was in a life or death struggle for ratings with it's competition WCW who were also producing a really hot product that was packed with talent of all ages and skill levels.  It was a great time to be a wrestling fan because the two companies locked into this death struggle created a blinding few years of amazing wrestling television that drew incredible ratings and millions upon millions of dollars in revenue for both companies.  Of course every war has to have a winner and the WWE ended up on top after looking like it was going to lose earlier on.  The victory was completely flubbed by WWF now WWE with gross mishandling of former WCW talent and things stayed good for a few years at least.

However skip forward to the mid 2000's and things begin to stagnate and now in 2014 it's even worse.  Pay per views that run matches that we have seen on Raw previously, angles that never mean shit or don't have a solid pay off, tired old characters such as Kane, Orton and Cena running the main event card every single night on Raw for months.  It all looks a million miles away from what we had back in the late 90's.  Now stagnation is brought on by a lack of competition since you don't have to try if you don't have to compete.  Indie companies like PWG, ROH and more just don't have the financial clout to compete and no single investor wants to compete with the corporation that is WWE.  You could argue that TNA is something of a competitor but then you only have to see that show to know it's not even close to NXT standards for WWE to even acknowledge their existence.

My fears though for the future of WWE where confirmed when they opened the performance centre.  A place where hopeful amateur pro-wrestlers could tryout and maybe get a shot at being a future WWE star.  It's nice and everything but it sends out clear signals that the future of all WWE programming will be filled with drones who only know how to wrestle one type of match, only one type of promo, only one type of character.  WWE style is very specific and it's noted time and again by wrestling websites that any wrestler brought in from outside of the system has to adapt to their style of Pro-wrestling.  This performance centre only spells the impending doom of creativity and unique personalities that once made the business stand out.  The future will hold many Cena and Orton clones with the odd Brodus Clay or Adam Rose sprinkled in for variety.

Seriously don't expect to see the likes of Cesaro or Daniel Bryan or CM Punk to every grace the screen again once this centre is churning out robots for the next decade or two.  It wouldn't surprise me if they make it so all new entrants to the centre have to have '$9.99' tattooed to their foreheads to help with branding soon.  WWE are already hurting financially anyway with them making a $20 million dollar cutback to stay profitable this year alone because subscriptions to the network didn't even come close to what they projected and this continued slide into mediocrity isn't going to help much either. 

I have only the smallest hope that younger and more entertaining wrestlers such as Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Damien Sandow, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler and more can finally be given the ball and run with it instead of being held back for the likes of Cena because McMahon fears that if he leaves or isn't top then no one will watch any more.  It's the wrong way to look at a business that is generally in flux every year as fans take to different wrestlers on even the tiniest things such as a comment during a promo or that one amazing match.  You only need to look at what Cesaro can do on a throw away Raw with Daniel Bryan to see the potential there in one person alone and how quickly the fans took to him when he started using the giant swing.  WWE hates that kind of dynamic and quickly moved to squash his popularity by banning him from using the move and have him lose constantly.  No WWE want their chosen wrestlers to be cheered and fuck all of you who have an opinion.

When the financial situation gets worse I feel sorry for the wrestlers and workers who lose their jobs over the sheer incompetence and fucking ignorance that is shown by the top brass of WWE.  They ignore what we the fans want and then scratch their heads in confusion when they lose money or in Hunter's case, bitch at the fans live on Raw like that's going to make things better.  These fuckwits even criticise their own paying fans who buy the pay per views for whatever price outside the network as if telling them they are stupid is going to guarantee subscriptions.  Fuck you WWE, and your pathetic tit for tat with your own fans.  It almost makes you want to see them fall just to watch the chaos that would ensue.  

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Video news and PS4 woes

Sorry for the lack of updates here the past few days, I usually try to keep to a schedule and I messed it up this week doing things for the youtube channel and playing a hell of a lot of Marvel Heroes and Mechwarrior online. 

On the gaming front though I do a few irons in the fire so to speak.  My series of Mechwarrior videos will be rolling on without break for a while so there is plenty of stuff to mess around with there.  Other video idea's I am kicking around include some Marvel Heroes related items that focus on the individual heroes, showing them off and the such.  Reviews will be coming for new games as I get them, unfortunately I am tapped for cash and there really isn't anything new coming out that I really want, unless someone buys a copy of WWE 2K15 for on PS4 =p

Probably the big one that I am looking forward too is Evolve and I am currently awaiting my download link for their Big Alpha event that is launching soon.  I am looking into recording it for the channel and writing some stuff for the blog if I there isn't a prohibitive NDA attached.  Evolve looks like it will be really fun so I am looking forward to the alpha and what it brings to the multiplayer gaming table.

Wrestling has taken a backseat, not because I don't watch it as much or anything, it's mainly down to how fucking boring it has been recently.  Watching TNA is like watching someone slowly die on life support while WWE is just so generic and bland it's hard to get excited for the show each week because it's just the same matches week in week out.  Since this Sunday is WWE's Hell in a cell I will write a WWE analysed about it since I haven't done anything wrestling in a while.

The other thing I want to talk about is the PS4 and it's sheer laziness this past year.  I have owned a PS4 now for four or five months and honestly I haven't seen much that excites me about the system.  I own a grand total of 2 games on the system.  Infamous Second Son and Killzone Shadowfall.  Both good games and they looks great and all that jazz, but that is it.  The problem is that a majority of the titles on PS4 are either ports from the PS3 with upscaled graphics or download titles that don't do the system justice.  I can buy some of the games on the console for less on PC and save around £25 or more, it just doesn't work out economically for me.  For instance I would love to buy and play EA UFC but the price is fucking astronomical in store.  £54 for a game? are you shitting me?  Even online the fucker is £35 or more. 

It doesn't help that titles like Destiny, a game I originally was really interested in turned out to be a massively over-produced piece of shit that looked pretty but was over before you knew it.  The Order 1886 or whatever it's called has never appeared.  Drive club is currently suffering massive online issues coupled with a crippling lack of content.  The entire thing is stalling big time and although it has out sold the Xbox it needs some really good titles that are original to the PS4 and not just an upscaling job to justify the rather pricey purchase.  If and when it does get it's arse in gear I will be hopefully using the twitch feature of the system to broadcast gaming, but as it stands currently it's not working out all that well.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mech pack fatigue, Schmeck pack fatigue (IMAGES UPLOADED)


After that very unbiased response, I would like to let my limited audience here know that PGI has announced a new set of battlemechs for their stompy robot shooting title this time focused on the brave forces of the Inner Sphere and their admirable battle to protect themselves from the vicious invading clan forces.

This pack has been dubbed "Resistance" and is aimed squarely at those Inner Sphere loyalists who didn't want or couldn't afford to buy a top tier clan package.  I understand that some people have their loyalties and also not everyone can be as fortunate as myself and others to simply blow $240 or £147 on pixels for the chance to get a "free" King Crab in December.  This new pack will cost the much lower (but still high price) amount of $80 or £50 for four new Inner Sphere 'mechs.

The 'mechs run the gamut of classic Technical readout  designs with the FUCKING AWESOME (ahem) Panther light 'mech.  This is followed by the fun looking Enforcer, nimble Grasshopper and badass looking Zeus.  All of these 'mechs have been fond favourites of Battletech players since the 80's and for good reason.

The Panther is a 35 ton light that works on the basis of being a fire support city fighter designed to do big damage in a small package.  Sporting a PPC and SRM 4 with jumpjets for manoeuvrability it sacrifices speed to achieve these goals.  The result is a light that can be a real threat to any light or even medium 'mech when used in the right location.  It does suffer from it's small engine to fit the PPC but it's worth it to see the faces of your enemies when they get dropped by a Panther.

The Enforcer is a stalwart of the AFFS or Armed Forces of the Federated Suns.  It mounts a single Autocannon/10, Large Laser and Small Laser into a 50 ton medium chassis.  It runs numerous roles from fire support, brawler and general trooper 'mech with thick armour to weather the storm they usually go into.  It's only real weakness is it's rear armour is extremely thin and as such needs to work as a team to avoid being flanked.  To keep this from happening too often the Enforcer is also jump capable to allow for rapid relocation should they need to during a firefight.

The Grasshopper is the heavy entry to this pack weighing in at a tasty 70 ton.  It's a very old design dating back to the Star League era and was created originally to hunt down medium and light 'mechs.  It was seen as revolutionary during the Succession wars due to it's jump jets which at the time was unheard of for a heavy at the time.  It was quick, comparatively speaking, and focused on a shorter range energy load to target the weaker Medium and Lights it was designed to hunt.  It was also known for it's ability to continue the fight even after losing it's arms possibly being the chassis that coined the term "zombie" for battlemechs that could continue the fight after losing it's arms.

The final 'mech is the Zeus, another entry into the 80 ton category.  Synonymous with the Lyran Commonwealth this design was famed for it's power and success on the fields of the Succession wars.  Mounting a single Large Laser, two medium lasers, single AC/5 and a LRM 15 launcher this 'mech could take the fight to foes at any range.  It's design focuses on the use of hit and run tactics an unusual tactic for your typical assault 'mech.  The reason for this is it's speed which is comparable to the Grasshopper.  It was so successful in the role that the chassis is jealously guarded by House Steiner and as such very few Zeus units are seen outside of their space.
The pack looks great and comes with the usual bonus items such as extra mechbay slots, premium time, skins and other faction content alongside new cockpit items.  This pack will go on sale on the 22nd of October 2014 but I wouldn't expect these 'mechs to be injected this year due to the clan pack 2 release schedule so weigh up the pro's and con's before dropping your money.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Mechwarrior Online video links

Hey kids! do you like robotic violence? Want to see me shoot giant lasers through their cockpits?  Then check out my video playlist here of both the Inner Sphere and Clan Battlemechs

Clans are here:

Monday, 13 October 2014

Star Wars X-Wing Character and Ship Guide - Rebel Ace's

The Rebel alliance get their own unique paint schemes for two of it's more specialised craft in this expansion.  The nimble and amazingly fast A-Wing and the Mon Calamari designed B-Wing strike fighter get a bunch of new pilots and upgrade cards to further expand your squadrons strategies.  Unlike the Imperial Aces set which came with two of the same fighter in different paint schemes this set has two different fighters each representing the prototype stages of these iconic Rebel ships.

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Name: B-Wing Assault Starfighter
Statistics ÷
Primary Weapon Value: 3
Agility: 1
Hull: 3
Shields: 5

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Ship: RZ-1 A-Wing
Statistics ÷
Primary Weapon Value: 2
Agility: 3
Hull: 2
Shields: 2

The A-Wing is immediately identifiable from it's regular squad mates by it's blue colouring, a nod to the original concept art created for Episode VI.  They were only flown by the alliances top pilots at the time due to their incredible speed and near perfect reflexes required to control such a powerful craft, they saw action leading up to and beyond the climactic battle over Endor being used primarily as high speed interceptors and scouts due to their speed which allowed them to quickly close the gap with targets or escape rival interceptors.  Equipped with rotating laser cannons and missile bays the A-Wing is a daunting prospect to face for any Imperial pilot.

The B-Wing was the creation of Admiral Ackbar a Mon Calamari officer who joined the alliance during the height of the galactic civil war.  The idea was to have a strike fighter capable of delivering incredible damage to the much larger imperial capital ships while being able to take plenty of punishment and even dogfight if necessary.  The result was the B-Wing, a long craft with a distinct if not unusual profile compared to other Rebel fighters.  The B-Wing brings laser cannons, missiles and torpedoes to counter any threat it encounters and can rely on it's tough shields and armour to stay in the fight when things get hairy.  The cost of this is low agility but with the right tactics a B-Wing pilot can turn any disadvantage into an advantage.

All Rebel Ace B-Wing's are capable of performing the (Focus), (Target Lock) and (Barrel Roll) abilities. 

All Rebel Ace A-Wings are capable of the (Focus) (Target Lock) (Boost) and (Evade) abilities. 

Expansion Content list:

Pilot Cards:

Keyan Farlander (B-Wing)
Nera Dantels (B-Wing)
Dagger Squadron Pilot (B-Wing)
Blue Squadron Pilot (B-Wing)

Jake Farrell (A-Wing)
Gemmer Sojan (A-Wing)
Green Squadron Pilot (A-Wing)
Prototype Pilot (A-Wing)

Equipment Cards:

Proton Rockets (2)
Enhanced Scopes (2)
A-Wing Test Pilot (2)
Chardaan refit (3)
B-Wing/E2 (2)
Jan Ors
Kyle Katarn

Below is a list of Rebel Ace A-Wing and B-Wing Pilots in ascending order of skill along with points cost and pilot abilities.

Name: Prototype Pilot
Skill Value: 1
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Missile (1)
Squad Cost: 17

Name: Green Squadron Pilot
Skill Value: 3
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Missile (1) Pilot Skill
Squad Cost:  19

Name: Gemmer Sojan
Skill Value: 5
Pilot Ability: While you are at Range 1 of at least 1 enemy ship, increase your agility value by 1.
Upgrades: Missile (1)
Squad Cost:  22

Name: Jake Farrell
Skill Value: 7
Pilot Ability: After you perform a focus action or are assigned a focus token, you may perform a free boost or barrel roll action.
Upgrades: Pilot Skill, Missile (1)
Squad Cost:  24

Name: Blue Squadron Pilot
Skill Value: 2
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Sensors (1) Heavy Weapons (1) Torpedoes (2)
Squad Cost:  22

Name: Dagger Squadron Pilot
Skill Value: 4
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Sensors (1) Heavy Weapons (1) Torpedoes (2)
Squad Cost:  24

Name: Nera Dantels
Skill Value: 5
Pilot Ability: You can perform (torpedo) secondary weapon attacks against enemy ships outside of your firing arc.
Upgrades: Pilot Skill, Sensors (1) Heavy Weapons (1) Torpedoes (2)
Squad Cost:  26

Name: Keyan Farlander
Skill Value: 7
Pilot Ability: When attacking, you may remove 1 stress token to change all of your (focus) results to (hit) results.
Upgrades: Pilot Skill, Sensors (1) Heavy Weapons (1) Torpedoes (2)
Squad Cost: 29

Although the debate about the balance between Rebel and Imperial sides still rages this set will probably do nothing to assuage those who hold to the idea that the Rebels are overpowered.  I don't think this is the case personally as the Rebel Ace's are more like a customisation expansion more than a bulk of new super powered pilots and upgrades.  The two unique A-Wing pilots have some nifty skills though with Gemmer Sojan's ability focusing on players who like to keep close to the action each turn.  Doing so gives Gemmer the ability to jump to 4 agility making it extremely hard to shoot down this pilot.  Jake Farrell is all about pushing his ship across the map or making those last second evasions.  For 2 extra points he brings along a pilot skill which Gemmer does not get so it's a trade off for better evasive skill compared to survivability at close range.

The B-Wing aces work to do damage.  Nera Dantels can pop a torpedo off against any foe regardless of facing, making them extremely dangerous each round since you can never be sure when their controlling player will choose to launch their payload.  Keyan however works well as a pilot who gets the job done, changing all of their focus tokens to hits potentially turning a bad roll into a killing blow.

Modifications ÷

Name: Chardaan Refit
Ability: A-Wing only - This card has a negative squad point cost.
Cost: -2

Name: B-Wing/E2
Ability: B-Wing only - Your upgrade bar gains the (crew) upgrade icon.
Cost: 1

Title Cards ÷

Name: A-Wing Test Pilot
Ability: A-Wing only - Your upgrade bar gains 1 (pilot skill) upgrade icon.  You cannot equip 2 of the same (pilot skill) upgrade cards.  You cannot equip this card if your pilot skill value is 1 or lower.
Cost: 0

Equipment ÷

Name: Enhanced Scopes
Ability: During the Activation phase, treat your pilot skill value as 0.
Cost: 1

Weapons ÷ 

Name: Proton Rockets
Damage: 2
Range: 1
Ability: Attack [Focus]: Discard this card to perform this attack.  You may roll additional attack dice equal to your agility value, to a maximum of 3 additional dice.
Cost: 3  

Crew ÷

Name: Jan Ors
Ability: Rebel Only - Once per round, when a friendly ship at Range 1-3 performs a focus action or would be assigned a focus token, you may assign that ship and evade token instead.
Cost: 2

Name: Kyle Katarn
Ability: Rebel Only - After you remove a stress token from your ship, you may assign a focus token to your ship.
Cost: 3



Friday, 10 October 2014

Transverse closed with a whimper and nobody cared......Good

This post is a little late but ultimately I felt it needed to be written.  Transverse was a victim of timing ultimately but also a victim of innate stupidity on behalf of PGI and it's bosses.  The idea of launching a crowd funded space sim that would try to take elements of many games while also trying to be unique was folly and I feel sorry for the programmers and artists who worked on the game until it's recent closure.

Now when I say closure I mean the title is no doubt being worked on still behind the scenes, it's just as a project that players can check a website and see some form of progress is no longer an option given the complete and total failure of the crowd funding campaign.  PGI aren't the most competent developer out there given their struggles currently with Mechwarrior Online so it was odd to see them unveiling a new game while their previous title was still on bricks waiting for new wheels.

Their ships looked a little too similar to certain other games ships
For those unaware.  Mechwarrior Online has been live for about three years now and runs along similar lines to games such as World of Tanks where players can jump into matches against randomly assigned opponents and earn money and experience to upgrade their vehicles.  Outside of that though World of Tanks has a massive community driven campaign mode where clans or guilds fight over territory to earn bonuses and eventually win the war to end the season before a new one begins.  Mechwarrior Online has the first part (the random matches) but it has been extremely slow to introduce the meat of the game in the form of community warfare.  Today we can access a map and create our guilds but that is it.  The promise of a more complete version of this mode is always being made but it never materialises and thus people have lost faith in the company to do anything beyond creating a fun if not repetitive team deathmatch game.

With that in mind you now have the announcement of Transverse a space sim MMO that would apparently be this entirely player controlled experience.  We were told that players would be everything essentially from bar owners to ship merchants to police to quest givers and more.  Except this concept would never work simply because you need NPC's to drive the early experience of any massively multiplayer game.  You need those quest givers to get people acquainted with the world they are playing in and to introduce core mechanics so they can go and make their way in your game world.  This minor gaff aside the game still didn't inspire players.  It didn't help that the first stretch goal of the project was "1 million dollars - ships flying".  You look at Star Citizen from it's Kickstarter days and it's pretty much a given that you will fly ships because you know, SPACE GAME!  so the idea of PGI stating that "at a million bucks folks you will be able to fly your ships, durr hurr hurr derp" was laughable.  Obviously this wasn't meant literally as they probably intended the first goal to be more along the lines of "1 million will get you flying around a few sectors and begin trading/exploring" but the wording didn't help and only got them derision from players and backers of games like Elite, Star Citizen and even EVE online.

Step 2 would have been shooting but since they never even got close to that number it's not fair to rib them on that point of stupidity.  The project reached a measly 2% of their funding goal which at this point had been slashed from $1million down to $500,000 and even then they struggled to reach $10,000.  Less than 200 people backed the project and it's safe to assume that some of if not all of the original backers at the projects launch were members of staff to make it look like people were backing right off the bat.  The situation only got worse when the forums opened and the mix of disgruntled Mechwarrior players, Star Citizen fans and genuine backers all got to speak their mind.

The fans of the project were dubbed "Trannies" a term which although unfortunate in it's use only highlighted the issue with the games name.  What does Transverse mean exactly?  We didn't know until PGI uploaded episode 1 of their program titled "The Fringe" which was definitely not just a carbon copy attempt to piggyback Star Citizen's "Around the verse" or "Wingman's Hangar".  It turns out the name was meant to evoke the concept of the games setting using transhumanity as a main theme.  With people being able to transfer their mind into alternate forms allowing them to look however they pleased and essentially ending death since you could just jump to a new body.  It's nothing new of course and EVE online had already been doing the same thing with jump clones for over a decade now, but PGI wanted to allow players to create some truly odd characters using terms such as furry and octopus.  Personally running around an MMO sci-fi universe with fucking furries piloting ships was an instant no-no for me anyway but yeah, Transverse was a kind of up in the air philosophical idea that never came to pass.

The name wasn't the only thing that got people talking as the entire staff of PGI were shadow banned from reddit on the day of the games announcement because of the community manager Niko_Snow breaking the rules of the site by advertising the game and then banning people for the tiniest hint of criticism regarding this game and MWO's lack of progress.  This outcome forced PGI into a PR damage control assault with MWO suddenly becoming the game they all appreciate the players for.  Previously founders who had been their initial bread and butter were ignored by PGI even though they were the one's who gave them collectively over $5 million as a show of their support for the product suddenly became the best mother fucking gamers in PGI's world.  If you bought any of their top tier packages then you were suddenly being treated to free 'mechs and other nifty bonuses and all of this has nothing to with the shitstorm currently hovering over Transverse, no sir.

Transverse was struggling to be noticed outside of angry Mechwarrior players and backers of Star Citizen and Elite who were pointing and laughing.  Not a single website seemed to know about this project, which I guess was a blessing in disguise given the ultimate fate of the campaign.  PGI are entirely to blame here because they didn't do the leg work to get the websites to post articles about them or interview them.  They seemed to live in this world where gaming websites had to come to them to ask permission to hype their new space game and it's crowd funding.  Hype works wonders on the mind of gamers because if you can paint this picture of a world in their minds they will throw buckets of money at you.  Star Citizen is a game that hasn't even shown a glimmer of a spark of a rainbow of anything to do with their persistent universe and people are giving them their children for limited ships, life time insurance and other bonuses.  We as gamers are prone to building up games in our heads long before any actual gameplay has arrived because games spark imagination and with that we preorder like crazy.  Ultimately the end result is never as good as we imagined but they have your money then so tough luck, but hey the game isn't bad it just isn't what you thought it was going to be.
Basic information like this didn't help promote confidence
Transverse never even got close to this.  Some people backed in some vain hope of being an early backer of another major space game but I still question why.  I understand with the other titles because both projects have people who have reputations for producing great space games.  PGI have great reputations of being massive arseholes who struggle to organise and effectively action a fucking Chinese takeaway order let alone a massive open world space sim that would have zero NPC's and deliver blowjobs on command.

The only sites that did cover the game only did so because of the reddit debacle, like finding a £5 note on the floor and then stumbling onto a gym bag stuffed with twenties.  It's accidental but lead to greater things for the writers who then expanded on the story when they looked into PGI's development history and laughed hard at their collective failure.  They are extremely lucky that this didn't get picked up by the major sites because it would have been a slaughter.

The final nail though came when the project after limping along for near three weeks was closed with a short message from Bryan Ekman stating that the game will go behind the curtain and he hopes to see us all out in the fringe in the future.  They refunded those who had backed the game and shutdown the forum.  Now the site sits in a limbo showing the small number of images and videos presumably until the domain becomes available again when their domain ownership ends.

I don't feel bad for PGI though.  I feel sorry for the developers who worked on it, those who may have been hired to work on the game and now may face redundancy because of this.  I feel PGI tried to jump on a band wagon but jumped so hard on it they went through the wagon and got caught in the moving wheels.  They state in their videos that they have the Wing Commander license yet chose not to use it because they didn't want to be tied to another licensed universe.  However announcing Wing Commander online would have generated more revenue, more hype, more publicity.  It's a hugely recognisable name that has a link to Chris Roberts which they could have exploited to further elevate their public profile, but no they had to try something original and ultimately they failed.  If nothing else this entire chain of events can be used to educate other companies on how not to launch a game, so you know silver linings and all that.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Fantasy Flight detail the upcoming Scum faction for X-Wing

Yesterday FFG or Fantasy Flight Games gave us our first faction specific details regarding the new faction for X-Wing coming later this year or early 2015.  If you haven't checked out the site recently or have been taking a break from dogfighting in the Star Wars universe then here is a quick overview of the Scum and Villainy faction.

Scum and Villainy are made up of numerous criminal elements ranging from bandits, pirates and organised crime syndicates such as the Hutt Cartels or Black Sun.  They use a number of unique vessels or re-purposed older ships in their forces.  The new ships include Mandalores Star Viper Attack platform made famous in the official tie in novel Shadows of the Empire.  We have infamous droid bounty hunter IG88 and his custom IG 2000 heavy fighter.  Rounding out the new fighters we have the M3-A Interceptor used for light combat duties.  The re-purposed vessels include newly painted versions of the Y-Wing and Z-95 Headhunter replete with new pilots and special equipment.

Now the details we got yesterday told players that the Scum faction fight very differently than their Rebel or Imperial counterparts.  Formation flying isn't their thing with them instead preferring individual combat tactics using their illicit weapons and skill to keep their more military trained opponents on the back foot.  They use a new icon called "illicit" meaning they can only be used on Scum ships.  These upgrades give fighters things like hot shot blasters which can fire in any direction once meaning you can take that killing shot against a weakened foe.  Dead man's switch allows you to self destruct when your ship is destroyed and everything within range 1 is damaged.  We also have an ability called feedback array that guarantee's 1 damage on a target at the cost of giving yourself an ion token.

New salvaged astromech droids allow the Scum factions Y-Wings to mount powerful bonuses from these slightly unhinged droids.  Things like being able to ignore the effects of direct hits, drop smart bombs and turn all speed 3 manoeuvres into green instead of red for Y-Wing's allowing them to quickly move without fear of gaining stress tokens.

These are just a few of the cool new options for this series of ships.  I am really looking forward to creating scenario's for this faction and designing a future campaign involving all three with divergent paths and endings.  I am also considering making a few videos of the models and possibly (long way off this) filming a basic match for anyone who might be new to the game.

Thanks for reading and bookmark this blog for all the latest X-Wing guides and information as it comes out on FFG.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Space sims are coming back

I am really looking forward to the future of PC games.  Specifically the space games.  Honestly I wasn't really all that interested in titles like Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen but as time has gone on I have become more excited about what you can do in these massive games.  No man's sky is potentially one of the most engrossing titles I have read about with it's gigantic procedural universe that although online has the potential that you will never meet another player.  It's this kind of size and depth that makes these universes so interesting.

Now yes there have been titles in the past that have without a doubt kept the torch burning for the return of the space sim as a viable genre.  The X series of games has been a great experience until the rather limp offering of X:Rebirth.  The other and obviously bigger offering comes from EVE online which is impressive and regularly produces something news worthy at least once a month proves the viability of the space sim game. 

My issues with both titles though are different.  X is a purely single player experience which although fun and filled with potential, it really needed an option for a cooperative game type that would have really made it memorable as players could work together to create a massive empire of trading ships, stations and military vessels or even become notorious pirates, raiding sectors and building a fleet of ships to eventually take a sector of space for themselves.  On the flip side of this EVE is entirely online and requires a regular fee to play it.  The gameplay is archaic since it still uses a very clunky "click and play" style of gameplay that makes combat boring (visually speaking) and relies entirely on sinking hundreds of hours into skills to obtain the really cool stuff in game.  A rewarding experience for those who enjoy that kind of game but for me personally neither game hits the spot.

So why should Elite or Star Citizen be any different?  Well Elite is still being tweaked for release later this year but the feature that had me the most interested was the friend system.  The game requires all players to connect to their servers to play the game but when you start you can create a friends list that like any other game allows you to coordinate activities with them.  However Elite Dangerous allows you to set the game to only show your friends and no one else.  This means you can enjoy the entire Elite universe with just you and your friends and never need to worry about being jumped by player pirates or have your experience ruined by people who just want to kill other players.  Elite isn't a pushover of a game anyway since it requires a steady hand and good tactics for ship to ship combat and you need to keep an eye on the ever changing economy as a massive war erupts between two AI factions that allows players to profit from or even choose a side.

Star Citizen on the other hand is going for depth and plenty of it.  This is the game that if all goes well, will allow you to crew a ship with other players and have adventures a la Star Wars.  Travelling the galaxy fighting bandits, trading cargo, chasing down bounties, exploring new systems, salvaging wrecks or living the life of piracy.  Seriously the level of detail in even the most basic ship is stunning and flying them is a real challenge that is extremely rewarding to get a kill in.  Although the game is far from finished the current offering of a multiplayer deathmatch and AI horde mode is incredible fun with a few friends.  The universe is being fleshed out every month and each new ship is a work of art in the amount of effort that goes into each individual ship. 

My only complaint with Star Citizen at the moment is that they seem to ready to charge a small fortune for content that is months away from ever being in engine let alone in game.  Still when the items do finally arrive it's hard to complain about the quality. 

So yeah 2015 is going to be quite the year for those of us who fondly remember our space shooting days.  Is there anything I missed?  Got a complaint?  A suggestion?  Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Social Justice wars and journalist cabals

So if you have been keeping up with the recent drama of the gaming industry then you will have heard of a little thing called Gamergate.  For those who aren't so keen to keep up with the news concerning the industry today, Gamergate was a massive shitstorm of controversy that started when a female developer by the name of Zoe Quinn was found to have been sexually involved with at least one major game's journalist.  I am not sure if she was involved with more journalists romantically or not but the fact is, she is a developer who had sex with someone who writes for a major online website.

This obviously caused a lot of people to call bullshit since it basically confirmed for a lot of people that the industry was corrupt and nasty things were said and both sides looked pretty bad.  However the journalist side tried to spin the entire event in to a sexism argument.  Now you may remember seeing sites like Eurogamer, IGN and more suddenly all posting articles about the apparent inherent sexism that is rampant within the gaming culture and it's development sector and how we as gamers need to become less misogynistic.  So they tarred everyone with the same brush and tried to heavy handedly beat us over the head with their argument.  Of course there are those people online who are quite sexist and will say some horrendous things to women in both the development sector and players alike and they are need to be ostracised in my personal opinion because they just aren't the kind of people we want in our community.  But to post articles that basically say we as gamers are all misogynistic assholes is the wrong way to go about deflecting the issue.

Other major feminist personalities like Anita Sarkeesian were used to bolster this argument as she spewed her misinformed bile across youtube and other social media sites with her small army of followers attacking anyone who disagreed with her misguided views on games development and the people who play them.  She is just making money off of people who are too stupid to put their own time into researching the argument which makes her no different to creationist preachers asking for money to be saved by Jesus.  Unfortunately she isn't something to be simply ignored.  Her rhetoric can potentially cause knee jerk reactions within the development sector and as a result hinder the creativity of the industry because developers are terrified of being labelled as anti-feminist or misogynists.

Personally I am sick of being forced to play as muscle bound genetic freaks who have square jaws and all speak with a broad macho American accent.  It's just as narrow and boring as the typical leggy female protagonist with big tits and tight clothing.  An example.  Playing the original Guild wars I was looking to play as a Warrior to support my girlfriends spellcaster.  So choosing the class I am presented with a male and female option.  The male is about three foot wide, shaved bald head, ridiculously muscular and has a face that only a mother could love.  The female option was a woman with average proportions wearing armour that actually covered all her body.  I chose the female because she didn't look like a cartoon character and didn't prescribe to a stereotype in gaming.

Anita tries to make out that the developers purposefully put in situations where the gamer can abuse or use women in degrading or violent ways but anyone who has played games for several years will know that this argument is pure crap.  But like Zoe Quinn the cabal of game journalists out there want to protect her from genuine criticism and I want to emphasise legitimate criticism.  I don't endorse anyone who attacks her personally or threatens her or any of that shit.  People who I would recommend viewing for some legit criticism of her arguments is Thunderf00t on youtube who has a series of videos pretty much tearing her arguments to shreds and her only response was to get him banned from twitter so draw your own conclusions from that.

But this cabal of games journalists who all work in a group known as gamejournopro's all sit around and decide what agenda they wish to push through their sites to influence popular opinion.  This group also has several marketing execs from developers such as Ubisoft and Warner Bros. games to boot so when that next Assassin's creed game comes out and every site gives it a 9 just remember that these sites are pretty much in bed with Ubisoft.  It's not really a shock after all since we know the Battlefield 4 launch was a disaster for EA despite every reviewer giving it a 9 or 10 and never mentioning a single bug, the game launched with crippling issues for players and caused a massive uproar from a crowd of enthusiastic gamers who just wanted a fun game and got shafted due to this cabal of journalists pushing scores to be higher to garner more sales for the companies and in turn get them some sweet kick backs from the publishers.

So where's the proof to back this up?  Well here are a few links to videos that themselves explain the situation better than I ever could and give links to the specifics of the situation.  Thanks for reading and remember to keep an open mind when buying games and where those recommendations come from.

Please check out InternetAristocrat's other videos regarding Zoe Quinn or the "Quinnspiracy theory" very funny but also very enlightening. - This link takes you to Thunderf00ts Anita Sarkeesian videos.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution (PS3)

The ultimate ninja storm series has now been rolling along the Playstation 3 lifeline now for a good few years and when viewed as a whole the series has been running since the Playstation 2 days before the advent of full three dimensional Ninja brawling was introduced to gamers.  As the titular anime series finally starts to reach it's climax with the end of the great ninja war and near god like beings battling for the future of humanity, the game series I feel has become something of a stuck record.

This latest release can be viewed as a side story to the main one.  Taking the gameplay elements introduced in Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 and adding a few small tweaks to the system, Ultimate Ninja revolution is a fairly standard game that doesn't really make any real steps forward for the series but doesn't take any backwards either.  Basically it's a stop gap to allow the manga and anime to finish before Cyber Connect 2 finally make Ultimate Ninja 4 and then go the Dragonball Z route of re-releasing games with slightly better graphics and experimental gameplay features, at least in my opinion anyway.

New anime sequences are welcome but few and far between
So if you're expecting advancement in the story or more insight into the overall arch of the Narutoverse then you will be disappointed right off the bat.  The game has a few modes that focus on different aspects of the series.  You can play in a story mode of sorts that chronicles the creation of the antagonist group Akatsuki replete with newly created animation from the same studio that makes the current anime and the same voice is a nice addition.  You also get to play a flashback scenario featuring Itachi's close friend Shisui and learn how he came to die with the mode wrapping up with a short video of a young Obito and his relationship to Kushina. 

This mode is interesting narratively but very slim on the ground with features and lasts only an hour at best since it is simply made up of several short fights all requiring some finishing move to achieve an S rank.  It does however unlock several characters and gives you some cool pre-Akatsuki costumes for the many members of the team, some I actually prefer over the normal cloaks. 

The main mode of the game is the new Ninja world tournament mode.  This mode is completely original story wise and will take up most of your time.  In this mode you choose a character you have unlocked and then play through progressively more difficult versions of the tournament mode.  It features a new map which starts off small but becomes larger as you complete the tournament levels.  The tournament itself is a new four player mode that pits character against each other in a free for all fight with each round lasting 50 seconds each.  In place of life bars you instead have a currency of orbs which you knock off your foes to increase your total amount.  The winner is determined by whoever has the most at the end of the round(s) depending on difficulty.  Some matches can have three or more rounds so you need to carefully select your characters.

The arena's are truly chaotic at higher levels with random events like Samurai throwing waves of energy around, exploding tag balls, giant turtles, wolves, Zetsu clones and even powerful Ninja attacking the combatants.  Rails can be used to make attacks that are unique to each character.  In the end though the mode is poorly built.  The AI is too quick to attack the player and basically shower them with ranged and melee attacks making the entire experience miserable at times as you desperately try to counter and attack amidst the chaos.  The extra events on screen are tough to see because you are constantly trying to attack or avoid being attacked by foes and when you do get a brief reprieve you need to immediately be on the attack again or risk being blind sided by an off screen attack.

It's a shame really since the mode looks amazing in the gameplay videos and the potential is there for some great multiplayer matches but the AI is too cheap by simply ganking the player and never attacking each other outside of briefly punching each other in the first round.  Even the sub par WWE games have their AI attack each other in multi-man matches effectively.  Also the round length is too short, just as you begin to get to grips with the hazards of the arena and are fighting the round will end.  Targeting is a nightmare.  Changing targets is done by moving the right stick toward opponents but it will inevitably become confused and randomly target the wrong character and as such snaps the camera in the wrong direction which more often than not causes you to get your ass kicked.
The arena hazards are inventive but the rounds are too short
The map itself is a rabbit warren of pathways and loading screens that become more and more complex as you unlock higher level tournaments.  The many side quests and missions are spread out across this map and some missions require you to run all over the map to complete them in what sometimes feels like needless padding.  The best missions pit you in interesting battles that ultimately unlock characters for future playthroughs or as new supports for your team but a majority of them will simply chip away at your soul to complete them.  Needless fetch quests, timed missions and hide and seek become boring quickly and the map is near useless outside of seeing where you are in relation to other locations.  It has zero markers to highlight quest characters or items leaving you to run around aimlessly looking for people or items with vague hints about their location, sometimes being as helpful as "somewhere with a great view" which isn't helpful since everywhere on the map has a great view on it.

That aside the more regular Ninja storm combat is working fine and as mentioned earlier has some fine tuning.  Now you can select which type of group you want to run, choosing from a ultimate jutsu, awakening or drive types.  The first two are self explanatory with the drive type being the ultimate in support use.  Charging chakra brings your supports to protect you and activating will allow you to bring them in for a combination melee attack.  However you now can only choose one of these three so if you choose awakening you cannot use ultimate Jutsu attacks.  A new guard break and counter attack function allows players who time it right to basically block a foes strikes and stun them temporarily.  Outside of that the combat is the same as before which is a good thing since tweaking a formula too much only serves to ruin it.  The newly added team ultimate jutsu are a gimmick, a fun one but ultimately a gimmick none the less.

Team ultimate jutsu look awesome with CC2's visual flair
Multiplayer is the same as before with the new tournament battle mode thrown in for good measure.  You can also select a character from the roster and send them out online as a kind of training bot to earn experience, gain levels and bring back items for you.  These bots can be upgraded with new skills to make them more powerful and eventually they can become a challenge for you to fight.  From what I could tell the lag isn't an issue online outside of the occasional hiccup here and there, but expect certain characters to pretty much dominate the entire field.

New characters are few and far between also.  After the bait and switch of storm 3 not having playable Edo Kage they do finally become playable here but it feels a little too late to be a welcome addition.  More recent anime changes have been brought in to spruce up the roster so playable Obito and later forms of Minato, Madara and other reanimated characters turn up in the roster.  We still lack playable sound four members but for some reason we are given Konohamaru and Ebisu?  It's pretty random and in the grand scheme of things the character additions feel half arsed and not all that well planned out.  Don't expect any DLC characters either since the entire list of content is purely costume related and costs a small fortune to own in their entirety.

The addition of mecha Naruto created by Kishimoto himself is an odd choice.  Having it's own mode it serves as another slice of original narrative content that while amusing at times to see a robot version of Naruto fight with a robotic voice and mannerisms, just left me wondering why this time wasn't spent in adding a character who is in the story instead of which there are many.

So overall Ultimate storm revolution is like Generations before it a stop gap addition that brings some interesting mechanics and plenty of things to do but ultimately feels hollow and short on content.  Get it if you are a die hard fan or really want to play Kushina Uzumaki.

SCORE: 6.5/10