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2013-08-12
By all accounts, the Xbox One doesn’t have the graphical horsepower of the PS4. No one denies it, not even Microsoft. From a raw numbers/tech specs angle, the PS4 has a not-insignificant edge. The question is whether it matters. In an interview with OXM, Xbox product planning boss Albert Panello argued that it doesn’t. “For me, I'd rather not even have the conversation, because it's not going to matter," Panello stated. “The box is going to be awesome. The games are going to be awesome. I heard this exact same argument last generation and it's a pointless argument, because people are debating things which they don't know about.” Is the argument the same as last generation, though? In a lot of ways it is. The PS3 had more power than the 360, and for the most part it didn’t matter. He’s right, in a sense, but I’m not so sure history will repeat itself this time. There’s good reason that the technical differences between PS3 and 360 never amounted to anything. For one, the PS3 was notoriously difficult to develop for, making it hard for anyone to tap into that extra horsepower. In addition, the 360 had a headstart, built up a larger fanbase, and as a result, often received more attention with multiplatform games. It happened again and again. From Bayonetta and Skyrim, to Assassin’s Creed II and Battlefield 3, the PS3 versions either didn’t look as sharp, or were plagued with weird issues that took months to fix. But if you take The Last of Us and put it up against just about any 360 game, you’ll see the PS3’s graphical edge in full effect. The difference in detail is staggering. If PS3 hadn’t been hampered by constraints, we may have seen the differences go beyond first-party offerings and into the multiplatform versions. When the less powerful console is also the most popular, it’s easy to justify developing for the lowest common denominator. The question now isn’t whether graphics horsepower matters, but whether it matters when the sales figures are reversed. Of course there’s no guarantee that one platform will sell over the other. It’s still anyone’s game, no matter how we might personally feel about each console. Early talk puts the PS4 in higher favor, but there’s a world of difference between online chatter and actual consumer sentiment. Microsoft has done a phenomenal job of addressing people’s issues and they’ve probably changed some minds in the process. They even bumped up the GPU speed in a recent hardware tweak. It’s still anyone’s game. That said, suppose it’s the PS4 that sits in the position the 360 sat in this generation. When the console with the bigger install base is more powerful, it probably makes more sense to tap into that power and then port down to the weaker platforms, right? That could be a problem for Xbox One versions of multiplatform games, and the source of many console war battles to come, as fans compare versions side-by-side and argue over their platform of choice. That will happen regardless, but my point here isn’t to fan the flames of the console wars. My point is that the differences between the two consoles shouldn’t be neglected this time around. The PS4’s extra horsepower should matter. Not for Microsoft’s first-party offerings, but certainly for multiplatform games coming to both consoles. That extra horsepower should be harnessed by more than Sony’s core franchises. After all, shouldn’t developers take advantage of all the power they can get their hands on? Shouldn’t we want more games to look like The Last of Us, if they can?  I’ve been a 360 owner for years, and only recently got my hands on a PS3 to play a few exclusives like The Last of Us. I still think both consoles are great, but it’s sad to think the popularity of one was holding back the other (and I’m sure PC gamers have much nastier things to say on the topic). For that reason alone I’d like to see the PS4 come out on top, to encourage developers to make the best games they can. Written by: Joe Donato Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-12
Downloadable content, as a concept, was conceptualized innocently enough. Thanks to the surge in digital distribution that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 brought with them, video game developers now have the opportunity to release mini, subsequent installments for their titles without resorting to disc two. This presented an easy method of improving a game’s value by extending possible playtime, as well as a way to tide gamers over until a potential sequel, as Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead illustrates. Unfortunately, and rather unsurprisingly, we’ve seen that initial intent warped into a medley of nickel-and-dime practices that continue to plague the games industry. The most prevalent of these issues, by a wide margin, is intentionally withholding content from a game in order to rehash and redistribute it as DLC. One of the more infamous examples of this was EA’s Dead Space 3, but the stigma of “Day-Zero” DLC can be found in all corners of gaming, though first-person shooters do come up quite frequently. However, there is also a duality inherent in the issue. On the spectrum opposing day-one gouging, we have content that wouldn’t see daylight were it not for the option of DLC in the first place. Clearly, Tomb Raider, PlanetSide 2 and Dead Space 3 could have thrown their host of skins, levels, and weapon options into the full game without incurring any egregious delay. However, looking at games like Borderlands 2, Magicka, Portal 2, and Dark Souls, we see DLC used to genuinely further and enhance a game’s content in both the single- and multiplayer scene. The above games (and countless others) employ downloadable content as a way to build on the foundation and canon that the core campaign establishes. Better still, they seize that opportunity and steer the game in a new direction, if only for the duration of the DLC. Dark Souls’ Prepare to Die DLC places the player in an alternate version of a key area to the core game; Borderlands 2’s initial four expansions — which Gearbox has confirmed not to be the end of the game’s DLC — expand upon the game’s wonderfully colorful side characters, all while adding a raised level cap and new loot to the mix; BioShock Infinite’s upcoming DLC — the first of several, says Irrational Games — invites the player back to the origins of BioShock for a nostalgic romp through the series’ rich canon. The list goes on. Though impressive, current-generation examples like these beg the question of where we can expect DLC to trend in the era of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Surely the growing emphasis on social and digital aspects of gaming will affect how DLC is handled. After all, Sony and Microsoft have already begun pushing these sides of their gaming networks, despite the consoles themselves sitting months away. This connotes the obvious possibility that DLC, like many red tape aspects of gaming, will be simplified for developers in the next gaming generation, allowing greater content consistency from triple-A projects and improved DLC support for indie projects like Terraria or Minecraft. Contrastingly, a simple rise in frequency could also result, invariably spawning more and more consumer gouging and content exploitation. But that’s just approaching things at face value. Luckily, next-gen development has already laid the framework for a welcomed realignment of DLC implementation through the burgeoning adoption of a very MMO style of gameplay. We’ve seen this sort of model demonstrated by countless MMOs in the past, but particularly clearly in Guild Wars 2’s prophetic “living world.”  Impending releases like Destiny, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Elder Scrolls Online show that PS4 and Xbox One developers are also beginning to follow a similar structure — one that purports evolution via expansions. The same could easily be applied to DLC, which, if kept in check and outside the realm of the aforementioned nickel-and-diming, could play out as a renaissance of downloadable content. Rather than abruptly tack a new expansion onto a game, effective as it may be, we can hope to see developers integrate any potential DLC into the initial release, weaving a coherent experience that later builds on updates. Written by: Austin Wood Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-12
Square Enix and developer Crystal Dynamics rebooted theTomb Raider franchise earlier this year to much critical acclaim. The game, simply titledTomb Raider, would create a brand new world with an entirely new Lara Croft. There’s no denying that the game is good, and it’s very easily one of the best action-adventure titles to arrive in 2013 thus far. Already it’s on its way to becoming one of the best games of the year, and that’s due to the great changes made in the long-running franchise’s formula, as well as some welcome additions that helped the whole thing feel new and special.This time on Up Up Down Down, we’re taking a look at everything that made Tomb Raider one hell of a ride, as well as some things that maybe weren’t all that amazing. Up Up: Lara Croft is actually likableIn the past, Lara Croft has been somewhat of an obnoxiously arrogant character. Hey, a little confidence is a good thing, but Miss Croft’s personality before was hardly humble. That’s why it’s great to see a completely new vision for Lara in Tomb Raider. This is a protagonist with realistic vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Ultimately, she overcomes these hardships and becomes a strong lead character, but she never really loses sight of who she is. There’s something to be admired about a Lara Croft who can kick ass without sounding like an overly cocky tool.Down Down: What happened to all the tombs?This game very well could’ve just been called Lara Croft, but where’s the brand appeal in that? The fact of the matter is that there’s not a whole lot of tomb raiding to do, which is kind of a drag. There are optional tombs for you to discover and jump around in, but these are sparse and really short. That’s a bummer, because they’re pretty fun and would be even more so if they were a bit longer and if there were more of them. Seriously, Crystal Dynamics, more tombs next time! Up Up: Good story about survivalLara’s tale of tenacity and survival in Tomb Raider is just really cool. You’ve got a protagonist with her back against the wall as she deals with both bad guys and the elements. Right from the beginning of the game, you simply can’t help but root for Lara. This chick’s getting her ass kicked by the elements, and it becomes very easy to sympathize with her. Everything that’s thrown at Lara during the course of the story is all drawn out in a way that actually makes you care. Seriously, that early sequence where she's shivering in the rain made me feel absolutely horrible for her.Down Down: The supernatural aspect is kind of dumbWhile the story in Tomb Raider is mostly gripping from start to finish, there’s a part where you discover that there’s more to what’s happening on the island of Yamatai than just dudes with guns. This supernatural aspect of the game is, for all intents and purposes, kind of lame and doesn’t exactly mesh well with the whole survival thing. Sure, past entries in the series have been based around crazy ancient spirits, but it just doesn’t fit well here. Up Up: Great cover systemCover shooters tend to stick closely to a familiar formula: Run toward a wall or other structure, press a button, and bam, you’re hiding behind a conveniently-placed obstruction. Tomb Raiderdoes a good job of putting you behind cover quite organically. Simply run toward a crumbling wall, crate, or debris, and Lara will automatically begin to crouch behind it. The whole thing is natural, smooth, and works surprisingly well. Here’s hoping we see this much more natural-feeling type of cover mechanic in future games with shooting gameplay.Down Down: Multiplayer is a dragWhile the inclusion of a multiplayer component in Tomb Raider is really only an extra, it’s hard to see it as anything more than a subpar implementation. There’s nothing even remotely novel or original about this multiplayer offering. It’s a damn shame, too, because other games have done a great job of introducing some interesting gameplay mechanics into their multiplayer components. Up Up: Awesome revamped gameplayThis is a Tomb Raider game through and through, but even then, it’s still a completely new experience from its predecessors. The emphasis on acrobatics isn’t as strong this time around, but there’s plenty of wall-climbing to be done. As you play through Tomb Raider, it becomes instantly apparent that this is a reboot of a familiar series. That’s not a bad thing, because this adventure is arguably the franchise’s best offering thus far. Great shooting, rad melee, fun open world elements, and an impressive cover mechanic all combine to create a worthwhile experience.Down Down: Open world could’ve been so much moreI personally enjoyed the open world design of Tomb Raider and felt that it met my needs as a game player quite well. That is, of course, because I’m not a completionist and don’t crave loads of side missions. For other folks, particularly those who love to engage in oodles of optional activities, the open world in Tomb Raider may not be robust or fruitful enough to suit their needs. There are plenty of trinkets to find, but there’s not a whole lot in the way of exploration. And as mentioned above, there really should’ve been more tombs. Left Right Left Right: Most people should play Tomb Raider, because it’s awesomeYou should probably play Tomb Raider regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the series. This is a reboot in the truest sense of the word, and what you get is a whole lot of newness to really make this experience feel like something fresh. (You also get a way more awesome Lara.) This endeavor has a lot of potential for growth, and it’s going to be fun seeing how Crystal Dynamics follows this one up. Some minor bumps get in the way, but those can be ignored for the most part, and what you get in the long run is a highly satisfying tale of courage and survival.Seriously, though, more tombs next time! Written by: David Sanchez Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-10
The September cover of Game Informer has some preeeetty sweet cover art. That is, if you like a full front and back spread of Dragon Age: Inquisition. It shows an inquisitor and a crossbow archer taking on an ascending dragon. As far as delicious details, this issue also releases some exciting information about the third installment of the franchise. You play as the head of theInquisition a group from long ago brought back for the purpose of cleansing corruption from the world. As the leader in a world with tons of evil, you’ll be up to your neck in war, scheming, and political strife. That’s fine and dandy until DEMONS POUR OUT OF THE SKY! So yea, that’s an issue. Two pieces from this update have caught my attention. First, there will be customizable armor in game – I’m always a fan of that. Secondly, and more importantly, you will have choice of choosing your starting race once again. Well played BioWare, this little tidbit alone should get longtime fans of the series a bit more hyped for the Inquisition. Back in the original Dragon Age you could pick your race but in the sequel you couldn’t. Back to the roots, baby! [Game Informer] Written by: Andrew Clouther Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-09
As is the case with any open world game, fans want to know how big the world in Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag is. While game director Ashraf Ismail refused to go into specifics in comparison to other Assassin's Creed games, he did say it was the biggest game the studio has ever made. "We don't talk about it in terms of size, that would be a little bit unfair - there is a lot of ocean in the Caribbean. But it is the biggest game we've ever made," Ismail told Eurogamer. Sailing across the open world will reportedly take around "half an hour." Of course, size and time is relative to how fast your ship is traveling, which we don't yet know the speed. So let's focus on something thatreally matters: how long you will actually spend playing the game. Exploring the open waters is one thing, but as for actual gameplay, Ismail said, "The story and narrative itself will last 15-20 hours, but we're hoping that people got lost in the Caribbean world, in the toybox we've created." Now 30-minutes to travel the world may not seem like a lot, but it's not something I'd want to sit through. To help with that, Ubisoft has implemented a fast-travel system. Now you can jump to any sync-point you've uncovered anywhere in the world. In the same interview, Ismail also explained why the Vita isn't getting an Assassin's Creed title this year. [Eurogamer] Written by: Matt Liebl Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-09
The Sims games are fascinating for several reasons, and one of my favorites is that they can be quirky little case studies in human psychology. For example, one study claims that people who play a lot of “life simulation” games tend to feel the need to control other people and have a bent toward socialism, and this is why Obama is President right now. No, I’m not making this up; you can find it all right here. A slightly less insane theory claims that players tend to model their in-game values and personalities after their real-life behavior. You can try to extrapolate this to suggest that those who cheat on their Sim-loves are far more likely to cheat on their significant others in real life. Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I spend an obnoxious amount of my time in this game getting it on with as many other Sims as possible. It’s especially fun to introduce the Sims you’re sleeping with to each other and watch them get all huffy. I’m a terrible, terrible Sim. However, in real life, I have never actually cheated on a significant other. (I’ve also never actually shot a terrorist in the face or coordinated an alien attack against a military base. I don’t think I’ve ever saved the President from anything either, but I’m not 100% sure on that one.) The thing is, the whole game seems set up to encourage cheating. Your Sims are the happiest when they have multiple partners. And when you’re trying to retain the green-ness of that glowy crystal that’s always hovering above your head, you want to make sure your Sims are constantly enjoying each other’s “company.” In fact, there is an exhaustive WikiHow that teaches you how to cheat on your spouse in The Sims without getting caught. Obviously, infidelity is an enormous part of The Sims. The Sims seems to also encourage a different type of cheating via the ever-popular cheat codes. Just type in “motherlode” and boom, you all of a sudden have thousands of Simoleons to spend on Sim things. Your dream house is just a few keystrokes away. (Most of my Sims time was spent withThe Sims 2, though the “motherlode” code works in The Sims 3 as well. It’s “rosebud” for you old school Sims fans.) I’ve used cheat codes in The Sims before. But I’ve never felt good about it. The mansion I built using cheat code money was immensely less satisfying than the two-story abode I earned by pursuing a career in being a criminal, a rock star, and a mad scientist. (Yeah, those are all legitimate career paths in The Sims. In fact, if the aforementioned theory about The Sims life mirroring real life were true, I’d have a PhD in sciencey-type stuff, an arsenal of killer guitar riffs that could summon hot babes, and a sweet black mask for burglarizing. Sigh. My real life sucks.) One of the things I like about video games is that they reward you for skill. Sure, that skill is usually something as silly as being able to properly time the push of a button with your thumb, but it’s a skill nonetheless. By using cheat codes in The Sims, I’m robbing myself of the need to actually be skillful at navigating the elaborate spider web of life choices the game has set up for me. And for me, that takes all the fun out of it. This is also why I just can’t get into Creative Mode in Minecraft. Sure, you can build things way faster, but you don’t have to scavenge all those ingredients. You don’t have to dig labyrinthine mines or defoliate forests or murder squids for black dye. You just have your stuff handed to you. And that’s just not fun for me. See, I grew up in the NES era. I cut my teeth on games like Mega Man and Battletoads, which required concentration and hand-eye coordination. You wouldn’t beat Mega Man 2 on the first try, but you’d spend every failed try learning map layouts, memorizing enemy patterns, getting better. When you finally beat the game, it felt like an accomplishment. You could slam your controller on the floor and punch your brother in the mouth because you’ve finally proven you’re better than him. But whenever I use cheat codes to build a Presidential palace in The Sims, I just consider how I just spent the past five hours and sink into this weird state of ennui. The entire game just loses its luster for me. Now, I'm not going to judge you if you happen to be a Sims cheater. But consider this article that claims people who cheat at video games are more likely to cheat at real-life things. It might not be completely valid, but it’s funny because it makes you look like a terrible person. So take that to the bank, you stupid cheater, you. Okay, so I totally just judged you. Written by: Josh Wirtanen Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-09
2013 was going to be an exciting year for MMOs. We got our first chance to play The Elder Scrolls Online and were primed to see what Blizzard has in store for us with Titan. ButESO, despite the franchise’s impressive history, has failed to truly spark our imaginations.Titan has been rebooted and retooled, making a 2013 unveiling unlikely. So instead, we turn to a familiar, yet unexpected, face to spark some life into the genre: EverQuest. Specifically, EverQuest Next, a game many were shrugging off. Until Director of Development David Georgeson said enough was enough. It’s time to change the MMO genre, and he thinksEverQuest Next is the game to do it. I think he’s on to something. MMOs have recently attempted to bring change by addressing a particular issue of the genre and tackling it heads on. For TERA, this was combat. For Star Wars: The Old Republic, this was narrative. In Guild Wars 2, it was group questing. In World of Warcraft expansions, it was adding more things to do. But each of these games only addressed one problem with the genre. TERA’s questing was pretty vanilla. SWTOR’s gameplay was all too familiar. Guild Wars 2 felt like more of the same old same old. World of Warcraft’s age continues to show. Instead of just focusing on one or two things, Sony Online Entertainment has gone back to the drawing board, rebooting EverQuest Next a year and a half ago. They came back with ways to move the entire genre forward. That’s right; not just the game, but the genre. Georgeson mentioned that enough is enough. They’ve played D&D for the past 35 years, which has translated them to playing the same MMO for the past decade. So it’s time for change. Let’s take a look together at how this change is coming. First you have the game’s classes. Honestly, this isn’t necessarily anything to write home about. Multi-classing isn’t particularly new or revolutionary, but the way it’s described is definitely interesting. You’ll have the eight base classes of the game and 40 classes to discover out in the world. Once discovered, you can mix and match classes to your heart’s desire, creating the distinct possibility of incredibly diverse characters in the game. It's an effort to enforce “bring the player, not the class,” and the player will be brought because of the unique strengths of his custom classand skill level. Then there’s the feature everyone’s talking about: a fully destructible world. You’ll be able to tell where epic battles took place. You can use the environment to your advantage against enemies. There are a lot of possibilities here, such as that MMO pipedream of blowing up a bridge and sending enemies to their death below. It’s a feature that signifies the next generation of gaming more than anything, to be honest, but one that’s quite welcome and helps to bring in a new spice to the game’s combat. But it’s the third and fourth pillars that can help EverQuest Next stand out above the rest of the genre. Stop me if this sounds familiar. You’re a level one character and you’re assigned to stop a troll threat from destroying your village. So you go to the enemy base, camp static spawn points, and complete the quest. Threat eliminated, but that static spawn point still remains. This won’t happen with EverQuest Next due to an improved AI. Let’s say a bunch of orcs want to create some mayhem. Instead of waiting at a static spawn point, they’ll roam the world until they find a suitable place to set up camp and ambush unsuspecting players. Once players wisen up to these antics, they’ll undoubtedly take appropriate measures to stop this. In response, the orcs will move their camp to a smarter location. This is the change MMOs need in order to stay fresh; it helps create a living world that changes on a regular basis. Just because that path was safe yesterday doesn’t mean it will stay safe tomorrow. The fourth and final pillar is just as exciting. Rallying Calls are EverQuest Next’s version of public quests, only they help shape the future of the world. Suppose you’re tasked with setting up a village. You find a location and start building, but goblins start attacking. What do you do? You could dig and build stone walls, but after starting that digging, you find that you’re lazy and would rather just kill the invading goblins. After satisfying your thirst for blood, you put your feet up, relax, and -- oh wait, the Goblin King has sent in reinforcements. And there are monsters coming in from the quarry you were digging. Mayhem has been unleashed and you’re completely boned. It’s too bad, because your friends on a different server have set up walls and have helped this humble village grow into a major city. This didn't happen for you because you’re a blood-hungry maniac. You monster. This is one of the many examples about how you’ll be changing the world. It’s also how Sony Online Entertainment is changing MMOs.  And I haven't even talked about EverQuest Landmark, the toolkit that allows players to build their own content.  Written by: Jake Valentine Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-09
Electronic Arts and Command & Conquer developer Victory Games are giving gamers a behind-the-scenes look at the next installment of the Command & Conquer franchise via their “Command & Conquer: Beyond the Battle” series. In part 1, the studio took a step back and explored the formula that made the original game so appealing, while explaining what influences from the past are playing a part in what’s going into this new game. Part 2, however, goes in-depth with an iconic GLA unit in the game, as you see how a simple strapped-on nuke vehicle undergoes concept, animation, sound and balance. The video, which can be seen below, features a number of notable faces that are playing a part inCommand & Conquer, including Senior Technical Game Designer Jeremy Townsend, Lead Designer Samuel Bass, Art Director Chris Tamburrino, Senior Animator Umberto Bossi, and Audio Director Brad Fotsch. If you’d like to check out more of this new Command & Conquer experience, you can do so by signing up for the closed beta on the game’s official website. Source: [Press Release] Written by: Tate Steinlage Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-08
At first thought, it seems like an odd fit. Dead Island, a zombie-survival first-person shooter, becoming a MOBA? How the heck will it work? I have no clue, but Deep Silver plans to debut Dead Island: Epidemic, a new ZOMBA (Zombie Online Multiplayer Battle Arena), at Gamescom where we assume they'll provide more details and hopefully show off some gameplay -- because I'm intrigued as to how they will pull this off. The publisher did briefly touch on the game, explaining Epidemic will "pit three teams of players against each other in a desperate fight for survival." It will also feature all of the trademark elements that are part of the Dead Island experience. So... zombies... Given the popularity of MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2, it's no surprise that Deep Silver wants to get in on the action. But does the Dead Island universe lend itself to the team-based battle arena gameplay? I personally don't see how it will work, but I'm definitely anxious to see more. And if you're skeptical, it might please you to know that Epidemic will be free-to-play on PC. Again, more details will be announced at Gamescom 2013 later this month, so until then we'll just have to sit tight and speculate as to how this will play out. You can also check out the game's website, though there's not much to see right now. Written by: Matt Liebl Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-08
The long-awaited Western release of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorneyhas been confirmed for 2014. Announced back in October 2010, the game was released in Japan on November 29, 2012. The rest of us had to wait with bated breath while we watched Level-5 International America gauge public interest through a fan vote on the company's Facebook. Finally, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney is coming. Jointly developed by Level-5 and Capcom, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney on the 3DS combines elements of both series, mixing the puzzles of Professor Layton with the trials ofPhoenix Wright. Are you excited!? Written by: Matt Liebl Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-08
Hold the phone, we have aSuper Smash Bros. update! During today's Nitnendo Direct broadcast, the company revealed that Luigi will return as a playable character in the both the Wii U and 3DS versions ofSuper Smash Bros. His inclusion brings the confirmed roster to 14 characters total so far: Mario, Samus, Fox, Link, Pikachu, Pit, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Captain Olimar and newcomers Mega Man, Villager and Wii Fit Trainer. I never actually played as Luigi in the past games, but I'm sure he'll be welcomed by loyalists as he's appeared in every installment of the series so far. Are you excited to see Luigi return as a playable character? Written by: Matt Liebl Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-08
3DS hit Animal Crossing: New Leaf has received a new app on the Wii U today that lets players talk about their towns and share images with others from around the world. Animal Crossing Plaza, as the app is called, allows players to import images taken in the 3DS game, custom design QR Code patterns via their SD cards, and organize them into albums. Using those images, players can post messages to Miiverse. The QR Code patterns can, meanwhile, be directly scanned and used in New Leaf. The plaza itself is similar to the Mii Plaza, only your Nintendo Miis are replaced with cute and cuddly Animal Crossing critters. The Animal Crossing Plaza is available to download for free from the Wii U eShop. Nintendo says the service will run through the end of 2014. Written by: Matt Liebl Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-08
The Last of Us' creative director Neil Druckmann has released concept art for what may have been the original ending of the game. And it's quite different than how the final version of the game ended. ***Spoilers Below*** The image appears to show Tess holding a knife to Joel's neck while he is tied to a chair. The image is also dated 2010, suggesting it was one of the game's earlier pieces of concept art, and possibly how Naughty Dog originally envisioned the game ending. How do I know this? Because Druckmann, who tweeted the image to promote Naughty Dog's upcoming talk at PAX Prime, teased: "See how it originally ended as @bruce_straley and I re-pitch The Last of Us for you." During the panel, Druckmann and game director Bruce Straley will discuss how they pitched the concept for The Last of Us to Sony and how the game has changed since their original vision. As for the image, I do have a theory that could explain what's happening. Perhaps early in development Naughty Dog had never imagined Marlene, the leader of the Fireflies who attempts to sacrifice Ellie for scientific research (and serves as the final antagonist in the game). Maybe Naughty Dog had originally envisioned Tess as this antagonist, willing to do anything to save mankind -- even kill Joel who I imagine, again, didn't want to kill Ellie.Don't kill Ellie? Tess kills you. Written by: Matt Liebl Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-07
Upcoming World of Warcraftpatch 5.4 will introduce Connected Realms, a new feature that will "link" a set of two or more standard realms, in an attempt to address the shift in player population. Previewing the upcoming patch, Blizzard explained, "Over time, these shifts in player population can sometimes create a less-than-optimal play experience for those on less popular realms, making it tougher to find guilds, conquer group content, and get what they’re looking for from the Auction House and in-game economy." Connected Realms will give players on lower-population servers more opportunities to group up, compete, and connect with other players. "That sort of interaction is a big part of what makes World of Warcraft fun, and this feature will help us deliver that experience to even more players," Blizzard said. These linked realms will behave "as if they were one cohesive realm," allowing you to join the same guilds, access a single Auction House, run the same Raids and Dungeons, and join other players to complete quests. Last week, Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft's monthly subscribers had dropped to 7.7 million which is still a solid number, but far from what the game once had during its peak. In 2010,World of Warcraft at one point had 12 million subscribers. I'm not sure of the population breakdown, but you can imagine a drop in four to five million subscribers would likely result in some ghost towns. Hopefully Connected Realms will address that. Blizzard hasn't yet determined which realms will be made a part of a Connected Realm, nor how many realms will combine to make up one. And even though Connected Realms are previewed as part of patch 5.4, they haven't determined when they'll be creating the first Connected Realms, though they do "expect it will be some time after the launch of Patch 5.4." You can read Blizzard's full comments on Connect Realms here. Written by: Matt Liebl Info from: gamezone.com
2013-08-07
Ubisoft Singapore is up to some top-secret projects according to UbiBlog contributor Gary Steinman and Ubisoft Executive Olivier de Rotalier. The studio, which opened up in 2008 and has played “pivotal” roles in the shipping of seven titles, has grown beyond belief. Singapore, which Steinman notes in the latest UbiBlog, has never been a hotbed for game development, and the costs of constructing an office in the region is abnormally high. However, Ubisoft took their chances and opened up the studio, which has achieved high success, including the development of 10Assassin’s Creed 2 levels and naval combat in the upcoming blockbuster, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. So what are these top-secret projects? Neither Steinman nor Rotalier would definitively say. However, Rotalier noted that these projects aren’t new IP’s, but innovation for current brands that’ll help in their expansion globally. And that’s not all. Along with Ghost Recon Online – solely being developed by Ubisoft Singapore – the studio continues to quietly focus on new ways to contribute to Ubisoft overall, including some top-secret projects in the works. Olivier is careful to point out, though, that Ubisoft Singapore isn’t necessarily working on a new game or franchise. Instead, they’re focusing on innovation. Whether those innovations – be they in technology, gameplay, visuals, level design, or elsewhere – help to make the current brands even bigger or be spun off into new franchises has yet to be determined. Instead, the focus is on “thinking about what kind of benefit we can bring to the player,” Olivier says. “What’s driving growth is the opportunity that we have to work on different projects and ideas to bring something more to Ubisoft.” Speculation aside, if you’ve been impressed with Ubisoft Singapore’s work so far, then it sounds like you’ll be ecstatic as we move towards the next-generation of gaming. Source: [UbiBlog]  Written by: Tate Steinlage Info from: gamezone.com


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