27th March 2010

Games For History and Games For The Near Future

On The Path of the EldersThanks to the financial support of Canadian Heritage, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Inukshuk Fund and all the project partners, ‘On the Path of the Elders‘ launched as a complete site this past week with a party at the Carleton University Art Gallery.

Terry Hoganson, member of BlackCherry Digital Media, described the event as magical: “It was amazing to have all of these people, who have dedicated countless hours and limitless energy into making On the Path of the Elders a reality, come together and share their stories.”Path of the Elders RPG

Speakers at the celebratory launch included Mr. John Mark Seck, president of BlackCherry Digital Media, Stan Louttit of Neh Naak Ko, Greg Spence of the Mushkegowuk Council, Dr. Kimberly Matheson, Carleton University Vice-President (Research and International), Franziska von Rosen of Our Incredible World (formally Pinegrove Productions), Dr. Elaine Keillor and Dr. John Medicine Horse Kelley Cle-alls, co-directors of Carleton’s Centre for Indigenous Research, Culture, Language and Education, known as CIRCLE.

For those who are not familiar with On The Path Of The Elders, it is a free online educational resource exploring the culture and history of the Mushkegowuk Cree and Anishinaabe Ojibway of Northwestern and Northeastern Ontario, and the signing of Treaty No. 9. Ideal for youth aged 13-17, Path of the Elders reconnects Aboriginal youths with their past, while developing leadership, negotiation, critical thinking, and decision-making skills.

Features:

IUGOIUGO Mobile Entertainment has released a few preliminary screenshots (click thumbnails for a better view) for the first round of Zombie Attack Second Wave XLtitles they will be releasing for the iPad, which will hit stores in just a few more days. Note that all iPad games from IUGO have the XL designation in their title, separating them from their smaller siblings which were built for the iPhone.

For Zombie Attack! Second Wave XL, players will be getting a brand new character, enhanced graphics and a brand new, very cool and intuitive user interface. The Zombie Attack series are a tower defense game where the player is the only survivor of a recent zombie apocalypse. You must destroy the waves of zombie attackers in order to upgrade your shack and weapons. Zombie Attack! Second Wave also makes use of the tilt feature to add to your game-play experience as you fight off the varying types of zombie creatures. You can also listen to your own music as you zap zombies because there is automatic iPod music support.

Cliffed XLMeanwhile over in Cliffed XL, players will have new backgrounds as well as new characters (in addition to the 18 already available), along with pumped up graphics. As you can see in the screenshot, players will be able to engage in head-to-head challenges on one device. Head-to-head play is available on the iPhone version, which allows up to four players to race to the bottom over a WiFi, 3G or Edge connection. With global leader boards, you will find yourself experiencing the “one more time” effect as you race to take over as the worldwide leader of Cliffed. Very addictive. Just sayin’.
Implode XL
Implode! XL will lead to total destruction on a larger scale. For those not familiar with this incredibly addictive game, you have been given the task of destroying old, obsolete buildings. This is not as easy as it sounds. Each building requires the careful placement of dynamite bundles, and if you get it wrong, the building does not Implode in the manner it should. There are currently three levels of challenge – Casual, Veteran, and Expert, with three bomb types: traditional, blast and directional with more bomb styles to become available in the future. IUGO has designed a new super slick user interface for this chalkboard styled game – and exclusive to the iPad version is an editor. Both iPhone and iPad users will also receive all-new levels, giving players well over 100 levels to puzzle their way through, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

Norm's World Escape XLNew to both the iPhone and iPad is ESCAPE: Norm’s World. Exclusive to the iPad for this puzzle game will be two player interaction with two modes. Gamers will be able to take their friends on in either head to head (see screenshot) or co-op play. Also exclusive to the iPad will be some very cool 3D graphics. ESCAPE: Norm’s World is a game which due to its unique design, offers an endless array of levels and puzzles. There will be two additional difficulty modes which will be introduced through DLC, and this game will also feature simple controls, making it user friendly for all ages. ESCAPE: Norm’s World is also comprised of minimalist graphics and unique cerebral game play complimented by relaxing audio and visual effects. So remember that while the puzzles may be driving your mind crazy, your psyche is being calmed by the soothing audio.

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24th March 2010

Mobility Is The Keyword Of The Day

Mass Effect 2I spent part of last evening playing through the new Firewalker DLC pack for Mass Effect 2, and overall I am very happy with it. I like once again having a vehicle to race around in, and I’m hoping that these five new missions was a test drive for more yet to come. Being able to use the Hammerhead hover tank to gather minerals and elements is much more engaging than scanning planets from the Normandy and lobbing probes at said planets.

While the new missions were not terribly interactive in regards to characters and were lacking in battle scenes, one cannot argue against there being value for the money. The Firewalker pack is free to those who have the Cerberus Network option, and really, any chance to experience more game play in Mass Effect 2 is a bonus. I am aware that some gamers felt that the Hover TankHammerhead didn’t have enough tank armour, but as far as I’m concerned, it was just fine. I am notorious for having my vehicles blow up, and I only lost my tank once – apparently it cannot hover over lava pits. Oops. The tank’s light armour simply means that the player must be smarter about picking fights and defeating the Geth, which to me adds another level of game play and strategy. I think that Bioware’s DLC mission team did a great job with this pack; now all they need to do is make it so that more planets can be visited with the tank and keep adding more DLC. I am definitely looking forward to the next pack, Stolen Memory, which will be available in just a couple of weeks.

CG ConMontréalEd Hooks will be presenting his one day course “Acting for Animators” at CG Con – The White Conference in Montréal on Friday, April 23rd. CG Con features 3 days of master classes by world-leading masters in film and video-game in areas such as Digital Animation, Digital Modeling and Digital Painting & Concept Art. The Early Bird conference price of $299.00 (students $239.20) is available until March 28, when ticket prices will go up to $399.00. The conference takes place April 23 – 25 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

CG Con will also be presenting The North American Roadshow in Vancouver on Saturday, May 8th. The venue and speaker list have not yet been announced, but tickets will be $100.00 each, or $80.00 for students and CG Society members.

StyleTapTorontoStyleTap Inc. today announced the release of StyleTap Platform for iPhone®, which allows over 30,000 applications originally written for Palm OS® to run on iPhone and iPod touch® devices.StyleTap iPhone App

“We have found that many users and businesses have made very large investments in acquiring and developing mobile applications, and these applications have been enhanced and refined to fit their needs like a glove,” said Gregory Sokoloff, CEO of StyleTap. “With all the new smartphone platforms, users are reluctant to lock themselves into one platform or to make the same investment over and over for each new platform. StyleTap’s cross-platform family of products can help make these problems go away.

“Naturally, we would prefer to be able to offer this product through the App Store, but unfortunately this is not currently possible due to Apple’s restrictive policies, and instead this version of StyleTap will run on jailbroken devices. Although there are many useful and entertaining applications available through the Apple App Store, we continue to receive a flood of emails from users telling us that they need StyleTap in order to keep running the applications, not available on the App Store, that are critical to their lives and businesses.”

StyleTap Platform for iPhone supports standard features that include TCP/IP networking, audio recording and playback, the ability to use the multi-gigabyte storage as a virtual memory card, and cut/copy/paste of text between native and Palm OS applications. It also provides innovative capabilities such as giving Palm OS applications access to the iPhone GPS by providing location information in standard GPS NMEA format. Read the rest of this entry »

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22nd March 2010

Canadian Technology Taking Off In The Global Market

MIGS 2010The Montreal International Game Summit has put out its call for speakers. The seventh annual summit will take place November 8th and 9th at the Hilton Bonaventure Hotel. More congratulations are in order for the FIFA 10 development team, as the game picked up two BAFTA Game Awards this past Friday evening – one for Best Sports Title and the other for Best Use of Online. DreamCatcher Games and The Adventure Company have announced the release of new content on an updated website for Sherlock Holmes VS. Jack the Ripper for the Xbox 360. You can check out new screenshots and a new trailer on the site, as Sherlock Holmes vs Jack The Ripperwell as put in your pre-order at GameStop. Sherlock Holmes vs Jack The Ripper will be in stores near the end of April and is rated T by the ESRB.

Kasumi GotoBioware has released more details about Kasumi Goto, the newest member of the Normandy’s crew in Mass Effect 2. Kasumi,  the galaxy’s most enigmatic and cunning master thief, will be introduced in the DLC pack Stolen Memory. In addition to being able to recruit Kasumi in all new missions, players will be able to utilize her special skills as a member of Commander Shepard’s squad throughout the entire game. In return for her help, Kasumi has asked for Commander Shepard’s help on a dangerous heist to infiltrate the vault of a deadly master criminal named Donovan Hock. Players must gain Kasumi’s loyalty on the planet Bekenstein, where Hock is throwing a party for some of the galaxy’s richest and most deranged criminal minds. The mission: recover data of great importance to Kasumi and the galaxy at large. In addition to this new mission, players will also receive a new research upgrade, one Hover Tanknew weapon, and a new achievement in this PDLC pack. The Kasumi – Stolen Memory PDLC pack will be available this April for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system at a cost of 560 Microsoft points, and on PC for 560 BioWare points. Don’t forget that tomorrow (March 23rd) will be the release date for the Firewalker DLC pack, which includes five heart-pounding missions taking place on five uncharted worlds. Players will be able to explore planets and engage in combat in the new Hammerhead hover-tank. The Firewalker pack will be available via the Cerberus Network console. Mass Effect 2 is rated M by the ESRB.

Toronto Comic ConToronto – Fans 10 and under attending Toronto Comic Con, March 26-28, 2010, at the Direct Energy Centre will receive a free Gogos Crazy Bones toy, courtesy of Toronto-based Irwin Toy. The popular items will be distributed while supplies last at the Registration area upon arrival.

Gogos Crazy Bones are a collectible, mini game toy sensation. They are small, colorful figures whose gaming origins date back to Ancient Greece, where children played by bouncing and throwing knuckle bones. These more refined, plastic characters are available in the hundreds, each one having a unique face and name.

“We are pleased to be providing free Gogos Crazy Bones right in our backyard at Toronto Comic Con,” said Gogos Crazy BonesPeter Irwin, Irwin Toys. “It is extremely special for Irwin Toys to participate in the inaugural show here, since Gareb has been a family friend for as long as my father and I can remember.”

Gogos Crazy Bones was named the 2009 British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) Collectible Toy of the Year. The characters have recently been hugely popular in Europe and Australia and were first a big hit in the U.S. more than a decade ago, when 31.5 million packages were sold from 1998-2000.

“Having an international sensation like Gogos Crazy Bones available free to kids is a great bonus for Toronto Comic Con attendees,” said Gareb Shamus, Wizard Entertainment CEO. “It’s particularly gratifying to be partnering with Irwin Toy, which in addition to being based in Toronto, has been a leader in the industry for more than 80 years.” Read the rest of this entry »

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19th March 2010

It’s Friday Let’s Rock

First up, our congratulations to Bioware and Dragon Age: Origins for picking up a Swedish Games Industry award for RPG of the Year and to EA Burnaby for picking up Sports Game of the Year for FIFA 10. Also, a reminder that the Early Bird price deadline for GDC Canada is fast approaching. Take advantage of the ticket discounts and get your passes before March 31 for this May’s great event at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

IUGOThere’s lots going on over at IUGO Mobile Entertainment as well. Earlier today the studio announced that several of their game titles will be released for the iPad. On the list are Cliffed, Zombie Attack Second Wave and Implode, along with their brand new game, Escape: Norm’s World. We also found out today that IUGO’s Director of Business Management, Sarah Thompson, will be one of two featured speakers at the upcoming Appy Hour, which is presented by The Social Agency. Appy Hour will be happening on March 26th at the Revel Room from 4 – 6pm. Also speaking at Appy Hour will be Jesse MacFayden, a developer over at Nitobi.

Vancouver TwestivalThe Vancouver Twestival will be taking place at the CBC Vancouver Audience Lounge this March 25th, and tickets are now on sale.  The Twestival is part of a global day of fundraising which will involve thousands of Twitter-users around the world who are gathering together to raise money for Concern Worldwide, an international humanitarian organization dedicated to reducing suffering and ending extreme poverty.

Your $20 Twestival ticket includes:

- Admission (donation to Concern Worldwide)
– 1 Wine ticket (more available for purchase)
– 1 Raffle ticket (more available for purchase)
– Food (sushi & canapes)
– Official souvenir YVRTwestival button
– Entertainment (Rob Cottingham, live DJ, Mojave)
– Socializing with Twitter friends (although that’s priceless!)

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware has announced the release dates for the next round of new DLC for Mass Effect 2. The Firewalker pack will be available beginning on March 23, and Alternate Appearance PackKasumi Goto will join the crew of the Normandy on April 6. Kasumi’s DLC expansion will be titled Stolen Memories. Also coming on March 23 are new appearances for crew members Thane, Jack and Garrus. The Alternate Appearance pack will be available for 160 MS Points. The Firewalker DLC pack will include the brand new M-57 Hammerhead Hover Tank as well as five brand-new missions and locations to explore. This expansion will be free to those gamers who have the Cerberus Network option enabled. The Cerberus Network game add-on code included free to all those gamers who purchased the game new; if you bought a previously-played version, you can add the Cerberus Network option for 1200 MS Points through the XBL Morrigan DisapprovesMarketplace. In my opinion, the Cerberus Network offers much value in return and is well worth the points if you didn’t purchase the game new.

There are also plenty of new items over in the Bioware store. Today’s new product announcement is the “Morrigan Disapproves” Dragon Age shirt. If you have a Bioware, Mass Effect or Dragon Age fan in your house, then the Bioware store is a great place to find some cool gift items from shirts and hats to lithographs and music.

The CFTPA has made the National Digital Strategy Prime Time panel videos and several PowerPoint presentations available online. To download the presentations and speeches, scroll down through the schedule list and click on the links for the presentations you would like. I think that by making these videos and presentations available to those who were unable to make the February conference is a great way to continue a national dialogue for the Toby - Guitar Herodevelopment of a Canadian digital strategy, and I appreciate the efforts by those at the CFTPA for taking strides to keep those of us in the digital media industry informed and talking.

I’m going to leave you on this Friday afternoon with a music video from the young English rock group Jonny Black. Now, you may ask yourself why a Canadian digital media news site is promoting an English group, and I would answer, “because the young men who make up this group are friends of ours and they deserve some extra promotion. Plus, they’re gamers, too.”

Formerly known as Mendella, Jonny Black’s band members are among those who have a dream and work hard to forge their path in the achievement of that dream. This video in particular is an endeavour by the group to have one of their songs chosen as the UK soccer team’s anthem for the 2010 World Cup. We hope that you enjoy Jonny Black’s music as much as we do, and will help their video go viral (watch it, fave it, share it) thereby playing a part in the achievement of their goals. You can read more about our involvement with Jonny Black and learn more about these young men here, here, and in our gallery, right here.

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16th March 2010

Dragon Age’s Newest Chapter Awakening In Stores Now

VancouverBig Fish Games has released their latest social game title, My Tribe™ on Facebook. My Tribe is the second in a series of social game initiatives that Big Fish Games is launching in 2010. My Tribe was first released in 2008 as a highly addictive, immersive downloadable SIM game for Mac and PC. Now redesigned and extended to the Facebook platform by the Big Fish Vancouver studio, My Tribe offers its characteristically fun and emotionally enriching gameplay to the social gaming audience.

“Social gamers are increasingly drawn to game experiences that offer greater depth of gameplay in easilyMy Tribe accessible, social formats,” said Will O’Brien, vice president of Social Games at Big Fish Games. “My Tribe is precisely that. What’s cool about My Tribe is that when you’re actively playing, you govern your tribe, but while you are away, your tribespeople will take matters into their own hands. Your teenage tribespeople, for example, may choose to sleep or eat instead of chopping wood!”

Players begin by selecting an island from among billions of options. Each island is unique with varying levels of natural resources and mysterious objects that are revealed through gameplay. Ryan Clark, My Tribe executive producer, provided more detail about the game: “With a player’s guidance, tribespeople develop areas of specialty – for example, construction – to help them accomplish larger tasks like building a ship or a storehouse. They grow from child to youth to adult, learn new skills, have children of their own, and eventually become respected elders. And because gameplay is continuous – your tribe is living, learning, fishing, eating and surviving even when your computer is turned off – it’s especially important for players to check in regularly on the tribe’s progress.” Read the rest of this entry »

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15th March 2010

Beware the Ides of March and Enigmatic Thieves

mingleverseVancouverMingleverse is holding a promo contest and giving away A 50-Person Mingle Room with all features, including live video, for 1-year, built to the winner’s personal specifications. The contest winner will get to spend an hour with our Mingle Room designer to discuss room design, along with a $50.00 Google Adwords credit to spend on promoting your mingles or your mingle group. This contest is open to everyone. Please visit the Mingleverse contest page for details on how to enter.Kasumi Goto

EdmontonBioware has officially announced the next downloadable character for Mass Effect 2 (I mentioned her yesterday in my review of ME2). Kasumi Goto is a thief. More specifically, she is an enigmatic human thief and the Illusive Man has requested that Shepard add her to his (or her, depending on the gender of your Commander Shepard) elite squad. As with all of the other squad members, Kasumi will come along with her own baggage in the way of a quest which Shepard will have to help her with in order to win her loyalty. Kasumi is tentatively scheduled to be available in early April. It is interesting to note that on the Mass Effect 2 character page, there are still two slots marked “Classified” so I think we can safely say that there is lots more to look forward to from Bioware. Like…M57 Hover Tanks…and more missions.

D-BoxLongueuilD-BOX Technologies Inc. has announced its first agreement with Walt Disney Pictures to feature its groundbreaking motion technology with the studio’s new film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, opening in theatres May 28.Prince of Persia Sands of Time

“We are very proud to count Walt Disney Pictures as a supporter of our technology. Disney has a very good reputation within the industry and has demonstrated over the years much dynamism and vision. Following last year’s acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, which complements their already broad portfolio, this studio is well positioned to produce movies which will fit particularly well with our technology”, declared Claude Mc Master, President and Chief Executive Officer of D-BOX Technologies.

From the team that brought the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy to the big screen, Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films present Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, an epic action-adventure set in the mystical lands of Persia. A rogue prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) reluctantly joins forces with a mysterious princess (Gemma Arterton) and together they race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time – a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th March 2010

Journeys Around The Galaxy In Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2Developer: Bioware Corporation
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: January 26 2010
ESRB Rating: Mature
Genre: Science Fiction RPG Action-Adventure
Platforms: PC and Xbox 360
Number of Players: One
Official Website

Mass Effect 2 was very high up on my list of most-wanted games for the first quarter of 2010, and also placed a very close second in our own Readers’ Choice Awards for Most Anticipated Game. Mass Effect 2 even won a convert in our house – The Cavechild did not like Mass Effect 1, but the changes in Mass Effect 2 won him over right through to the game’s final frames and has him looking forward to Mass Effect 3.

For my first play-through of Mass Effect 2 (Collector’s Edition) I chose to begin with a new character instead of importing from ME1, so that I could experience all that the story-line had to offer without paying for the sins of my Mass Effect 1 character. Well, along with the fact that I have not yet finished Mass Effect 1 (again) due to a forced re-start of the game because some less-than-honourable gamer stole my 360′s 120gb hard drive during a LAN tournament.

The opening cinematics for Mass Effect 2 are impressive and set the stage for much of the shiny newness that makes up Mass Effect 2. One of the primary new additions to the Mass Effect world is the Cerberus Network, which is available for free with all new Mass Effect 2 games. According to the Mass Effect site, gamers who either rented the game or purchased it used can still access the Cerberus Network by purchasing the option for 1200 Microsoft points. Messages about new DLC and other ME news will be sent to the gamer through the Cerberus Network interface, and much of the DLC for ME2 is free for those who have the Network enabled in their game files.New Captain's Cabin

It’s hard to not give out any spoilers to those few who have not yet played the sequel – but it was cool having my female Commander Shepard become the new Jaime Sommers, even if we seem to owe allegiance to the Illusive Man for our resurrection – and it appears that much has happened at The Citadel in Commander Shepard’s absence as well, including a reduced explorable area and a different format for stores. That said, we do get to visit some new and interesting locations, such as the miscreant hangout known as Omega and the decadent Illium, where we find Liara T’Soni in her new occupation as an information broker.

There many new and shiny things in Mass Effect 2, not the least of which is the rebuilt Normandy. While maintaining the basic layout of the ship, the technology and amenities have been updated, giving Commander Shepard fancy new Captain’s Quarters which can be decorated with spaceship models, a cute little pet and an aquarium in which to collect exotic fish. I was happy to see that Joker still pilots the Normandy, because I would’ve missed his dry wit. His interaction with the ship’s AI adds an amusing level of conversation to the game, and there are many, many homages paid to SCI FI icons throughout the game. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played ME2 yet, but suffice to say that it’s important to speak with ME2 Level Up Screenas many characters as possible throughout the game, as well as eavesdrop on conversations whenever possible.

As with Mass Effect 1, you gain Codex entries and experience points for talking to people and finding bits of information as well as for completing missions and assignments. The storyline takes a number of interesting twists, and regardless of all the Illusive Man (voiced by actor Martin Sheen) appears to be doing to help out, I do not trust him. Not one bit. Something in his eyes says he’s up to something, and I’m sure we’re going to find out what it is in Mass Effect 3.

Naturally, your actions throughout the game will effect how the story goes for your character, and will also effect the appearance of your Commander Shepard. Sometimes the conversation choices are not easy to make, regardless of how predictable they may seem as far as Paragon/Renegade choices go. Sometimes you will not find out until very late in the game how a conversation option you chose has effected the storyline, which can prevent you from getting an achievement. One new addition to conversation options is Interrupt, and Shepard’s ability with Interrupt, which allows for more physical action, is usually related to the Paragon/Renegade level.

Arc ProjectorOne change in the game that I definitely did not like was the planetary scanning and mining. I liked being able to land on planets in the “rover” and drive all over the place and using the big gun to blow enemies into little bits. Those of you who have read my other reviews know that I am not a skilled video game vehicle driver, but I still derive much amusement from commanding and destroying vehicles. Unless there’s a race that I have to win, then it can be a bit frustrating. But, back to Mass Effect 2. Bioware did redeem themselves on the lack of a rover with the newly announced Firewalker Pack, which includes the M57 Hover Tank and five new missions. The Firewalker Pack is scheduled for a late March release, which follows the recently released Arc Projector – a very nifty Heavy Weapon which unleashes more mayhem and destruction on the enemy.

I did not find the new “scan and shoot probes” interaction to be engaging at all. I would much rather have been able to land more often and either have a scanner/probe function built into the rover or have the old method of locating something and then getting out of the rover to investigate. The number of actual landings often involved very limited explorable areas and quite often jumped to a cinematic when it became necessary to leave a location in a hurry. I liked having to run through collapsing archaeological digs in Mass Effect 1, and would’ve liked to have continued that type of game play in Mass Effect 2. I did find the space travel parts of the game somewhat more interactive than it was in Mass Effect 1. Now the player has to watch fuel consumption when flying around the galaxy, as well as stock up on probes. The only dog-tag collecting The Illusive Manmission was okay, but I personally like having lots of things to collect, and there doesn’t appear to be as much to collect as there was in Mass Effect 1.

I did like the new method of obtaining and upgrading weapons, armour and the Normandy. Using the computer terminals to research new technologies was much better than unlocking crates and storage units – and often forgetting that I was carrying a lot inventory. That said, it was also nice in Mass Effect 1 to be able to sacrifice some of that extra inventory for omni gel when it was needed. There are lots of new and improved weapons to obtain, and we all know that one can never have too many big guns.

For character attributes, I preferred all of the options which were available in Mass Effect 1. In Mass Effect 2 there doesn’t seem to be as much thought required for where experience points get put, which to me means that you don’t need to put as much thought into how you balance your team. I found that I often used the same characters on each mission, unless a choice was forced due to the story line. That said, I suppose that part of the reasoning behind this change was that this is a sequel – and Shepard should by now know how to use all of his/her skills – the same with the highly trained band of misfits in the squad. So, I can see the logic in this change. There are also many new powers to learn, and ammunition is handled differently than it was in ME1. Another change I greatly appreciate is the ability to map powers on the 360 controller. I found that playing Dragon Age: Origins has made me a better Mass Effect player in regards to squad skills, and the extra mapping just adds to this, so thank you, Bioware.

One thing that I did like was how team members and characters from Mass Effect 1 were worked into Mass Effect 2′s plot line, and Mass Effect 2 knew which (if any – don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played YMIR MechME1 yet) team member may have been “sacrificed” during the Virmire Assault. This was especially interesting for me, because Mass Effect 2 was making choices for me based on my original (prior to my hard drive being stolen) ME1 game play, not my current play-through, which hadn’t yet reached Virmire. I have since completed that mission, making different choices than I did with my original play-through, so it will be interesting to see if my next full play-through of ME2 registers the changes I am making with this new ME1 voyage.

I found the writing much improved in Mass Effect 2, although at times I felt that the voice-acting for some of the characters was at times just a bit 0ff. In my opinion, the proper vocal inflections were often not achieved, particularly in the human characters. This tended to make the conversations seem a bit stilted when I was hoping it would be improved over Mass Effect 1. I did enjoy the diverse character stories and backgrounds, and often spent time “talking” with characters in order to learn more of their stories. Codex and experience points had nothing to do with that. They were just a side benefit to sometimes finding out some very surprising and humourous tidbits about my crew members.

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Thus far, I have found the assassin Thane to be the most interesting new character with the greatest amount of depth to his story, but I am looking forward to another play-through which will add Morinth to my squad – just to see how that will effect the story and character interactions. I am also looking forward to adding Kasumi Goto to the squad once she becomes available in April via DLC for 560 Microsoft points.

Thane KriosIt is important to note that Mass Effect 2 is not really a game which can be rushed through in the way that some gamers seem to enjoy rushing through a game as fast as they can, often skipping key game components. If Shepard is taken into the end game missions without due preparation of the entire squad, chances are the mission will not succeed, and Shepard may even end up in deceased mode. A deceased Shepard cannot return to gameplay after the credits nor be imported to Mass Effect 3, so therefore the player must plan to stay alive – and hopefully the full squad survives as well.

The only real problem I have with Mass Effect 2 is that my character gets stuck every so often – either by falling into a hole, getting pushed up on top of a crate by squad members, or stuck in an invisible wall – or a wall that is there but with a partial travel path through it. These events are very frustrating, because there is no way out. For some reason Shepard cannot jump down off of a crate or up out of a hole, and can’t back out of a wall. While Shepard can leap over cover, this is not possible to escape a hole because the walls of that hole are not recognized as cover. This meant that I had to start over from my last save point, and if I had overlooked saving my progress recently, this was sometimes really, really maddening.

I was not at all disappointed with Mass Effect 2 and I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy single player RPG adventures. While others have said the game doesn’t hold that much replayability for them, I feel quite the opposite. I feel that the Mass Effect franchise has loads of replayability, not only for various story outcomes, but also different experience levels, plus the direction of the story line in Mass Effect 3 has led to much debate and conjecture in the Village Gamer house.

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12th March 2010

Deus Ex Human Revolution Updates and INplay 2010 Keynotes Announced

Eidos MontrealMontreal/Vancouver via GDCEidos Montreal has unveiled the first trailer for Deus EX 3: Human Revolution. The trailer, developed in conjunction with Visual Works and Vancouver’s Goldtooth Creative, has made its debut at the Game Developers Conference. Comments from gamers around the globe reflect the growing anticipation for this next chapter, which will go back to the roots of the original Deus Ex and meld the FPS genre with RPG. As with a number of different recent titles, the player will be able to choose from multiple paths and outcomes, which in my opinion, increases the re-playability for the game.

The development team is also striving for a more open world feel, which will also give the player a bit more freedom in respect to game play. Human Revolution will be a single player title and a prequel to the previous two Deus Ex games. Eidos Montreal has stated that there will be areas to explore, treasures to find and of course weaponry to master.

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According to information on the Human Revolution web site, the “lead character is Adam Jensen, a security response specialist who’s been handpicked to oversee the defensive needs of one of America’s most experimental biotechnology firms. You, playing as Adam, are all-human, all organic…. for now, that is. You start pure, but as the story unfolds you are forced to augment yourself in order to survive and achieve objectives. Adam has a history leading up to the events that start the game, so his background is well fleshed out and we will learn more about him and his past, and his future, as the game progresses.”

Team members from Eidos Montreal have previously told me that E3 2010 will be a very important show for Human Revolution – and the end of the teaser trailer promises that more will be unveiled. The concept arti which I’ve seen on their site is very impressive, and the revealed (thus far) weaponry looks like there will be all kinds of opportunities for massive mayhem.

Eidos Montreal General Manager Stephane D’Astous states on the the studio’s site that “GDC 2010 marks the first part of our communications campaign for Deus EX. We have a lot to unveil and we’re excited to get started; there will be a lot more to come.”

Deus EX 3: Human Revolution will be available for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, but no firm release date has been announced, but I can safely say that Human Revolution is on our Wanted list.

INplay 2010TorontoInteractive Ontario today announced the first keynote speakers for INplay 2010, a conference about the art and business of kids interactivity. Jon Berrett, Executive Producer and Christian Jacobs, Co-creator, Director and Writer of the hit kids TV show, Yo Gabba Gabba, will be keynote speakers at the conference, taking place on May 18 & 19, 2010, at the Liberty Grand in Toronto, Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

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11th March 2010

High Definition Clash of Heroes Coming This Summer

UbisoftMontreal - Ubisoft announced that it will bring the critically acclaimed Might & Magic Clash of Heroes to the Playstation® Network (PSN) from Sony and Xbox LIVE Arcade (XBLA) from Microsoft. Developed by Capybara Games, the creators of Might & Magic Clash of Heroes for the Nintendo DS ™ system, Might and Magic Clash of Heroes XBLA/PSN will give players the opportunity to enjoy the remarkable gameplay now in high definition (HD).

Might and Magic Clash of Heroes in HD“We’re very excited to bring Might & Magic Clash of Heroes to PSN and XBLA,” said Senior Producer, Romain de Waubert de Genlis. “Not only have we had the chance to adapt all of our graphics to High-Definition, but we’ve also had the opportunity to improve the game even further, both in single-player battles and in the main campaign. We took many of the community’s recurring wishes into consideration, allowing players to match their strategic skills and taking full advantage of the online capabilities of PSN and XBLA.”

Might and Magic Clash of Heroes XBLA/PSN will take advantage of the next-gen console’s capabilities to increase its visual appeal and enrich the multiplayer experience. With a unique mix of RPG and an exceptional puzzle battle system. This upcoming release will give Might & Magic fans something to look forward to this Summer 2010.

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Key features include:

* Rich Might & Magic Universe
* High-definition environments with manga art design
* Five different factions and five different heroes with five different stories
* Fresh turn-based puzzle battle system with offensive & defensive combos
* Unlockable heroes
* Online Level-up & Ranking
* Multiplayer mode for 2-4 players local and online.The Architect

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware has released information about new Dragon Age Origins: Awakening baddie The Architect – the first darkspawn to develop a will of his own and an unusual outcast who seems not to be subject to the call of the Old Gods, nor to the other darkspawn compulsions. Even though he is highly intelligent, the Architect has little understanding of humanity, and treating him as anything other than the darkspawn that he is would probably be detrimental to your character’s health. Awakening will be unleashed on the gaming public this coming Tuesday.

robots and pencilsCalgaryiPhoneDevCamp 2 (YYC), produced by Robots and Pencils Inc., is taking place this weekend at Calgary Technologies Inc. The 1 day barcamp style un-conference starts at 9am and is open to people wanting to learn more about iPhone Apps development, marketing, business models and funding.

The list of speakers confirmed for iPhoneDevCamp 2 includes:

* Jon Lam of the iPhoenix Fund 1 and BigStack Studios Inc.
* Michael Sikorsky of Robots and Pencils Inc.
* Michael Loh of iKingdom Corp.
* Stephen Gazzard of Broken Kings Inc.
* Brenden Duddridge of TapForms.com
* Trevor Doerksen of MoboVivo Inc.
* Paul Thorsteinson of Big Nerds in Disguise
* Isa Goksu of ThoughtWorks Inc. Read the rest of this entry »

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posted in Action Adventure, Adult Only, Associations, Business News, Casual, Digital Products, Education, Events, Everyone 10+, Game Dev, Mature, New Releases, Puzzle, RPG - MMORPG, Social Media, Software, Upcoming Releases By: | Print This Post Print This Post

4th March 2010

Canadian Companies Ink Publishing Deals and Release Great New Products

EA GamesVancouverElectronic Arts has announced two new partnerships involving local studios. First, EA announced that it has inked an exclusive deal with Klei Entertainment to bring the studio’s provocative new game Shank to Xbox LIVE® Arcade, PlayStation®Network and PC this summer. Featuring a unique art style inspired by graphic novels and golden age comics, Shank Klei Entertainmentblends the intensity of classic 2D side-scrolling action games with a gripping and mature storyline. The cinematic brawler is a finalist for “Excellence in Visual Art” at this year’s Independent Games Festival and will be featured at the IGF Pavilion during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week.

“Our mission at EA Partners is to work with the best talent across the game industry, and we are thrilled to extend our expertise to the leading creative developers in downloadable indie games,” said Jamil Moledina, Outreach Director, Business Development at EA Partners. “The team at Klei Entertainment is among the best in the world at developing fun and engaging titles for digital distribution platforms, and Shank is an amazing experience.”

“As an independent development studio, we always focus on creating great, authentic experiences for players. Working with EA Partners expands our distribution and allows us to bring Shank to a much wider audience,” said Jamie Cheng, CEO of Klei Entertainment. “They have been a fantastic partner and their understanding of the space is incredibly exciting.”

Taking place in a stylized, modern-Western setting, Shank tells a classic betrayal story directed through a sophisticated cinematic lens, with addictive action gameplay found in classic 2D side-scrolling games.

EA’s second announced deal today is another exclusive publishing deal, this time with Hothead Hothead GamesGames and their newest title DeathSpank, which will be coming to Xbox LIVE® Arcade and PlayStation®Network in 2010. Developed under the vision of The Secret of Monkey Island creator and industry icon Ron Gilbert, DeathSpank blends a story filled with Gilbert’s unique humor and wit with classic and addictive action RPG gameplay. Read the rest of this entry »

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posted in Action Adventure, Animation, Awards, Business News, Careers, Casual, Digital Products, Early Childhood, Education, Everyone, Everyone 10+, Mature, Mobile, National News, New Releases, Platform, Puzzle, RPG - MMORPG, Social Media, Software, Sports, Studios, Teen, Upcoming Releases By: | Print This Post Print This Post

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