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#11 FEATURE: PIXELHUNT VS. E3 » WE LOOK AT THE CREAM OF THE CROP COVER FEATURE: FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS LOVE WILL TEAR US APART.... Is Blizzard’s re-zoning for better or worse? » OBSIDIAN ENTERTAINMENT TELL US ABOUT ONE OF FIND OUT INSIDE! THE YEAR’S MOST ANTICIPATED TITLES EDITORIAL >> Small, but perfectly formed. Although this is issue 11 of Pixel Hunt, maybe Speaking of Mr Burns, I’ll take this opportunity Sony who are keeping both components of their it would be more appropriate to put a dot in the to thank him for giving me a shot at running the audience in mind. middle and consider it Pixel Hunt 1.1, given that e-zine side of things. I was incredibly excited While Sony and Microsoft were Moving this and it’s a reboot of sorts for the Pixel Hunt e-zine. when Dylan first gave me a chance as a games Kinecting that, hardcore gamers were feeling Making this analogy even more appropriate is writer, and I’m even more excited now to have a a little bit left out in the cold. Ironically, it was that, like the very first issue of Pixel Hunt, our chance to shape this outstanding little publication. Nintendo coming to the rescue, with a lineup cover features a Fallout game. As you might have Although, as he has oft reminded me since featuring some serious heavyweights with Zelda, noticed, Pixel Hunt’s review content now goes up getting the job, all subsequent praise, adoration, Metroid, Kirby, Donkey Kong and GoldenEye. on the website. This means the e-zine is much donations, gifts, promo games, groupies, freebies, There was also the 3DS, a genuinely impressive more compact, but hopefully more potent too, and overseas junkets and industry cred are to filter piece of hardware from all reports. Nintendo perhaps a bit closer to Dylan Burns’ original vision directly to him. After all, Pixel Hunt is Dylan’s baby. undoubtedly, though unexpectedly, came out on of a kind of ‘mixtape’ of high quality video game It is my distinct honour to lend it a nipple. top at E3. writing. There are new segments, old segments, opinions, previews, and some correspondence As ever, the games industry is changing. This We’ll see in the coming months exactly how all from the enigmatic Professor Pixel. We hope you year’s E3 saw both Sony and Microsoft reaching this new hardware will impact gaming, but for now like it. out to the casual market, which to this point has I want you to just sit back, relax, get a drink or been the Wii’s domain. What’s interesting is something, and enjoy the issue. how each company’s approach to this task has differed. Microsoft have gone for the ultimate Michael Pincott | Editor casual device with Kinect; a gaming peripheral so accessible you literally don’t have to press a thing. It’s a neat piece of technology, but we’re yet to see anything to suggest that it’s going to become a genuine participant in what we might EDITORIAL cynically refer to as ‘proper’ games. Sony’s Move Publishing Editor Dylan Burns E-zine Editor Michael Pincott seems to meet the needs of both groups. It bears Website Manager Matthew Williams substantial similarity to the Wii remote, which Art Design Damien Russell the casual market are already very familiar with. On the other hand, the Move seems precise enough and versatile enough that it will be ADVERTISING capable of playing a part in the AAA titles of the Please contact the Editor if you would like to advertise with Pixel Hunt: future, Killzone 3 for one. Both companies are aggressively pursuing the casual market, but it’s email@example.com CONTENTS >> See what’s in store for you this issue... » THIS ISSUE 02 Editorial 04 Not the News 06 Reset 2.0: Things That Break 08 Ode to the Manual 10 Guybrush Threepwood: Mighty Boyfriend 11 Left Out in the Cold 13 In With the New: Fallout: New Vegas 17 The Futur3: Games of E3 32 In Case You Missed It 33 Professor Pixel #1 36 Creative: Redemption’s Blind Eye 38 OST: Red Dead Redemption » IN THE SPOTLIGHT: pp. 13-16 We got in touch with Obsidian Entertainment to find out a bit about Fallout: New Vegas. NOT THE NEWS >> Sort of like Today Tonight, only more credible. New LEGO Title Announced Rock Hero: Manager announced Having done a great job converting the Star With much focus on Rock Band 3 and its seeming ability to turn you into a lounge room Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter franchises musician of epic proportions, Activision has pulled a sly move in announcing its upcoming into Lego videogames, Traveller’s Tales have title Rock Hero: Manager. “We realised that we’d basically raped band games to death,” announced the next concept they’ll be giving the explained Activision worldwide representative Howard ‘Rock God’ Smith. “Well, not quite LEGO treatment to: LEGO. Titled LEGO LEGO, to death, but we have enjoyed the raping very much.” He went on to reveal that this new this lovable co-op platformer will be interpreting the franchise would likely last Activision around ten years, with six-monthly instalments and beloved and respected history of LEGO through the around 300 DLC packs. “It’s such a pleasure to have a slightly different approach to prism of LEGO. these games where we can hound players so much that they can’t help but buy the next “It’s going to be hilarious to see LEGO characters iteration,” beamed Smith. Rock Hero: Manager ditches the instruments altogether and and events portrayed as LEGO,” chortled TT rep gives you a sneak peak into the wild and colourful world of band management. “Basically,” Lachlan Block. “Basically, once we showed LEGO explained Smith, “you’re this big knob manager and you need to keep your band members that we could do for their legacy what we’d done happy – so there’s kind of an RPG element to it. For example, your lead singer might really for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, they had to sign want some cocaine and hookers, so you’ll be able to use your in game phone to, like, up. There will probably be some hardcore fans order those things. And then you have to decide whether to give him the whole hit or keep out there that won’t be able to see how LEGO some for yourself so there’s also a morality system in play. It’s awesome!” could possibly do any justice to LEGO, but we’re Smith also told us that the game will ship with its own studio mixing desk and a blow up determined to prove them wrong. LEGO LEGO is secretary. Rock Hero: Manager will be released at whichever time is most inconvenient for set to be a blockbuster.” stores to receive ANOTHER load of boxes full of useless plastic shit. peter molyneux undergoes radical surgery In startling news, it’s come to light that Peter Molyneux, most famously known for making awesome games… in his head, has been admitted to a British hospital to undergo voluntary radical surgery. A spokesman for Molyneux had this to say: “Peter is very sorry for all the bullshit that he’s said in the past. To show his dedication to his craft, when you next see Peter, he will no longer be able to talk about anything that is absolute bullshit in any of his games ever again.”Rumour has it that this feat will be accomplished via an automatic electrical pulse that will shock Peter in the testicles whenever an outright lie is uttered. Repeat utterances will apparently cause one or both to burst. This procedure, known as Ball-Shocker 5000 has proven popular with loud mouthed celebrities in the past. Popular gossip sites have also been suggesting that Mel Gibson might also be receiving this treatment. NOT THE NEWS >> Sort of like Today Tonight, only more credible. Crackdown 2 receives much-needed patch; sequel Medal Of Honor determined announced to outdo Call of Duty Crackdown 2 developers Ruffian Games were somewhat dismayed at the negative reaction The eternal battle between rock music and to Crackdown 2, but have reassured fans by developing an emergency patch to fix the rap music has become aligned with the battle game’s mind numbingly repetitive campaign, dodgy controls and general soullessness. between FPS heavyweights Medal of Honor “Yeah, we spent a lot of time trying to think of ways that we could give the fans the game and Call of Duty. Call of Duty: Black Ops has that they deserve, a better game,” said deeply concerned Ruffian Games developer Roger employed a song by rapper Eminem for its Kashin. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t come up with any during the development process and trailer, causing Medal of Honor to respond in we can’t come up with any now either. So we’re releasing a patch that will update your copy kind, selecting nu-metal band Linkin Park for its of Crackdown 2 by overwriting the disc with the original Crackdown. We’re confident that own trailer. EA had this to say on their choice: this will fix the errors and give players a superior game.” Kashin then went on to announce “We were pretty pissed off when we saw that Crackdown 3, due out in two weeks.“After we put Crackdown 2 together in a year, we wanted Call of Duty had snagged Eminem again. We to challenge ourselves even more. So we’re really excited to be delivering the final game in were really worried that we weren’t going to the trilogy after a developmental cycle of four days. It’s in the same city again, only another find another musical act as inane, as stupid ten years later. The Agent must again clear the city of rebels and mutants. But check this – and as appealing to boys thirteen and under as the agility orbs are back!” When asked whether the game was in fact simply Crackdown 2 Eminem. But thank Christ. Somebody suggested with the number on the case changed, Kashin merely giggled and began counting his money. Linkin Park.” It has since come to light that Nickelback’s management have had their legal team make legal threats to Activision after they were overlooked as the musical mascots for the game. Activision offered the band an undisclosed sum to apologise for their oversight, but the band are now instead demanding that Activision publish Guitar Hero: Nickelback. Activision have tentatively agreed, but there are internal concerns at Neversoft about all of the note charts being exactly the same. OPINIONS >> Reset 2.0: Things That Break Tim Henderson doesn’t appreciate shoddy craftsmanship. With the retail space now a thing of my past thought process has begun to move more towards My PlayStation 3 died twice in the space of a year! (hopefully not to be revisited in the near future), I something along the lines of ‘easy come, easy go’. found myself at ends over what I was going to put And it’s not even the console of this generation that in this column. At least I was for a few days, until I How did I end up with this mentality? is famed for being unreliable. began once more to observe the world around me. When, exactly, did it become OK for it to be I recently joked with Dylan about the prospect of However, by their nature, most written columns tend expected of a product that it should break within its buying a 360 as a kind of clean-slate approach to be personal matters, and I honestly feel I need lifetime? to my my Playstation dying all the time. We to get this over-obvious elephant that’s been sitting both laughed, and that was that. If nothing else, in my headspace out of the way before I move on I hate to find myself using the old adage of ‘they Microsoft at least offer the superior repair and to what may be more original and – dare I admit don’t build them like they used to’, but GameTrailers replacement service. But then, they kind of have “ recently featured to. We’re at the point now where having your Xbox a video by some fail isn’t considered bad luck – it’s considered par “ Canadian girl who for the course. If you buy a 360, you expect it to When, exactly, did it become OK for it to be expected of did a series of utterly red ring. If your 360 gets to be more than a couple a product that it should break within its lifetime? horrific things to of years old, then your friends will call you lucky a number of NES while you yourself sit in fear of the inevitable that is game carts only to come. Because, when it comes down to it, you it – engaging material than this particular write-up to find that – most of the time, at least – they still know that your console is going to die before you has any motive to address. You have my sincerest worked afterwards. consider it ready to retire. apologies for my dragging issue 11 of PixelHunt through a puddle of orthodox mediocrity. More to the point: her NES still works! The simple fact is that the hardware is shoddy; the physical product below market standards. It Those of you who have been listening to the My Mega Drive still works! was rushed in a desperate (but effective) attempt fortnightly PixelCast will probably be aware that to beat Sony to the current generation, and the 2009 was a pretty terrible year for me with regard to My original Gameboy still works! consequences are obvious. Meanwhile, the hardware of all sorts. The strange thing, however, Playstation 3 is faring much better, but still not as is that for all my external moaning, my internal With a little tinkering, my Dreamcast still works! well as consumers should be able to expect of it. OPINIONS >> Reset 2.0: Things That Break Tim Henderson doesn’t appreciate shoddy craftsmanship. But that’s fine for Sony – so long as Microsoft’s figures continue to be abysmal, then they’ve at least got that to hide behind. When I look back, I shouldn’t be surprised that my Playstation was wearing itself out. I used it all the time. I own more games than your average statistic Joe, I’ve ripped most of my CD’s to the hard drive, I occasionally purchase Blu-Ray films, I check the PSN every week, and I did a fair amount of folding to top it all off. Such heavy use enhances the risk of the Blu-Ray laser dying, and of an eventual yellow light problem. My console, in spite of all the physical breathing space I granted it, was a prime candidate. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Mega Drive that I accidentally left on for two weeks while on a family vacation many years ago will be happy to allow me to spend some quality time with it the next chance we have to be together. Screw you all. I’m off to play Bubsy. Tim Henderson OPINIONS >> Ode To The Manual Michael Pincott really loves manuals. It’s not natural. A few months ago, Ubisoft announced that they dispute that in the last few years, the manual has but it’s a part of the process and I don’t want it to would be dispensing with the game manual as become increasingly redundant. The vast majority die. Call me a sucker for tradition. we know it. Instead of the thin booklet usually of games incorporate helpful (or condescending) lodged under clips in the plastic case, a digital tutorials that give the player adequate knowledge Sadly, it’s hard to stand up for manuals when their manual would be available for download, as well of what’s going on without ever having to touch quality has fallen into such decline. Cue ‘back in as featuring in the games themselves. It’s a smart the manual. Information like control schemes are the day’ rant. The manual for the original Metal decision on Ubisoft’s part. They save themselves nearly always shown somewhere in-game from the Gear Solid was 45 pages long and in full colour. money by not printing the manuals, and perhaps pause menu or on loading screens, and if they’re It featured comprehensive information on every more importantly from a PR perspective, it paints not, players still won’t have to open the manual nuance of the controls and stealth mechanics, them as an environmentally conscious and forward- anymore: control schemes are now often printed on artwork of all the characters, a glossary, detailed “ the back cover. backstory and the middle pages of the manual folded out into a neat little poster. Compare that I know deep down that one day I’ll open up a game case But manuals are to the manual for Modern Warfare 2: black and “ to be greeted with nothing but the disc itself. I know that about more than white, 9 pages long, only 4 of which actually after a small noise of anguish, and some rocking back learning the controls had information on the game. Where the Metal and mechanics of Gear Solid manual is a genuine asset to the and forth, I’ll probably get over it. games. They’re a game disc, the Modern Warfare 2 manual is an companion piece, a embarrassment. I guess making an informative, thinking company. Though it’s yet to happen, it sacred document that makes up one part of the holy well-presented manual was less important than seems inevitable that other game publishers will trinity of manual, case and disc (or cartridge). For selling working night vision goggles with the game. follow suit. So I’m here to lament with you the loss, me, the manual is part of the ritual of a new game Maybe the bells and whistles of limited editions are or at least onset of the loss, of a perennial element purchase. If I buy a game while I’m shopping on the one of the main reasons decent manuals seem to of the physical video game package. The thought weekend or during my lunch hour at work, I can’t be a rarity. Perhaps it’s things like official strategy of opening up a game case without that informative play the game until I get home. But I can crack open guides and bonus art books that are drying up the tome safely nestled within makes me a little bit the seal on the bus or at my desk and browse the incentive for publishers to put effort into a game’s teary. manual. It’s an entree to the meal, the support act manual. Why give to us with the game what they before the headliner, the trailers before the movie. can sell to us separately? I know most people won’t care. After all, it’s hard to It’s a poor substitute for playing the game itself, yes, OPINIONS >> Ode To The Manual Michael Pincott really loves manuals. It’s not natural. To end this column on a positive note, I want Travis like ‘I wanna do her!’ A classy guy, to acknowledge several recent-ish games for Travis, and a cleverly executed manual. their high quality manuals: Other high-profile titles like Red Dead BlazBlue – in gorgeous full colour, with lots of Redemption, BioShock 2 and Alan Wake have detail about the fighting mechanics and some also done their part to raise the standard for great character artwork. game manuals, with all three getting into the spirit of their respective games, reflecting both Katamari Forever – as vibrant and colourful concept and aesthetic. It gives me a little bit of as the game itself, and in the spirit of the hope that maybe, just maybe, physical game game’s aversion to normality, it has to be read manuals aren’t dead and buried yet. turned on its side. But still, I know deep down that one day I’ll Heavy Rain – a foldout rather than a booklet. open up a game case to be greeted with The textured paper and sinister scrapbook nothing but the disc itself. I know that after DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND presentation, as well as neat little things like a small noise of anguish, and some rocking PIXELHUNT IS NOW USING an advertisement for Scott Shelby’s services back and forth, I’ll probably get over it. But I as a private detective and a coffee-stained also know there’s a good chance that a single WHITE-SPACE. printout about Norman Jaydon’s ARI glasses, tear will fall from my eye and land upon the made this a document that truly reflected the empty place where the manual used to be. nature of the game itself. Michael Pincott No More Heroes – an older game, but with a manual very much worthy of mention. If you’ve played the game, you won’t be surprised to learn that it features comics, fictional classifieds ala GTA and some very nice character art, complete with notes from OPINIONS >> Guybrush Threepwood: Mighty Boyfriend Annika Howells is walking the plank… of love. They say women date men who remind them of had more pixels and you could make out more of their fathers. When I look at my sister’s fiancée, I his features. To an eight year old girl, he didn’t look Unfortunately, finding a man reminiscent of a video can see similarities between him and our dad. But half bad. During lunchtimes at school I would sit on game character was not as easy as it sounds. when I think about my taste in men, I don’t see links top of the monkey bars (oh the irony) and regale So while other kids were experiencing the first to my father. my friends with tales of Mr Threepwood – my future blossoms of romance, I was sitting in a dark room husband. playing Escape From Monkey Island. Guybrush I see Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate™. was three dimensional by then, but he was still a Adolescence approached. In The Curse of Monkey poor substitute for a real relationship. Something in It was the early ‘90s, and my family had just Island, Guybrush was given a voice. The little my brain just got things muddled up, and instead of purchased their first computer. Once the initial thrill blob of pixels was given a solid, cartoony outline. looking to my father as a role model, I looked into of Minesweeper faded, Dad sought out more games I didn’t play this one with Dad: I was becoming a the computer screen and chose Guybrush – the for us. He brought home a little title called The teenager, and parents had become the enemy. quirky little blueprint for my perfect man. Secret of Monkey Island – a quirky point-and-click Despite my growing hormone-driven angst, Monkey adventure game which followed the adventures Island continued to permeate my psyche. Pets Monkey Island has enjoyed a resurgence of late, of wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood. I was were named after characters (including a cockatiel thanks to the episodic reboot from Telltale Games, mesmerised, and I wasn’t even old enough to read called El Pollo Diablo – The Devil Chicken). I would as well as the remakes of the first two games. the dialogue text. Dad would read it out to me while say ‘papapishu’ instead of ‘ouch’. I was constantly When I excitedly told my father about them, I I watched him play. pointing out three-headed monkeys, accusing realised that though I may not have looked to him people of fighting like cows and waving imaginary as the template for my future male relationships, the By the time LeChuck’s Revenge was released, swords around like feather dusters. Monkey Island games were a bonding experience I was able to read the text on my own. I still for us that have shaped our relationship today. One preferred to watch Dad play it though, while offering By then I was at an age where real life boys were day, when I walk down the aisle towards my own puzzle solutions like a know-it-all backseat driver. more exciting than animated ones, but Monkey personal Mighty Pirate™, I hope that my father will We agonised over the hint booklet, trying to resist Island had already left its mark. I had grown up be beside me. pulling it out whenever we were both stumped (by with the attitude that silliness was charming, the way, how dare they leave the stump joke out unconventional logic was alluring and mild He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to make him of SMI Special Edition!). I remember being terrified ineptitude was utterly adorable. My soul mate was give me away wearing an eyepatch and a peg leg. of Zombie LeChuck – his MIDI theme song chilled one who would use a rubber chicken with a pulley in me to my bones. But Guybrush fascinated me. He the middle to reach the island of my heart. Annika Howells LEFTN Blizzard’s segregation is hurtin OUT I its community... and its reputa g tion THE COLD Blizzard have always had a long and stellar developer. Blue posts now tend to be more shielded lambasting Blizzard for the decision. Reports of reputation when it comes to nurturing and in a thick, PR-style blanket of vague promises and obscene pings to Singapore data centres emerged; respecting its user base. From the initial launch “announcements”. highlighting Australia’s notoriously terrible SE- of Battle.net back in 1997, to coincide with the Asian backbone links and claims by Blizzard that release of Diablo, to the gradual expansion of its Everything came to a head a few months ago when Australian gamers caused lag problems on US enormous World of Warcraft universe; Blizzard have Blizzard announced that, for the first time, Australian servers was laughed down by players on both sides long listened and responded to criticism, whether and South-East Asian Starcraft 2 (and Diablo 3) of the boat. complaint or compliment, in a manner that benefits players would no longer be grouped under Oceania the game experience. and hosted, along with North American players, on But some of the strongest cries against this action US servers. Instead, these gamers would now be were the complaints about cross-border community The (in)famous ‘blue’ posts on the multitude of ‘treated’ to region specific Battle.net servers for the segregation. Players on the SEA forums were forums that scatter the many different community first time, located in Singapore. resigned to develop their own community, from posts across Blizzard’s game galaxy are the scratch, regardless of the fact that they had been players’ connection to the developer; so many, in The guise, at first, seemed noble. Blizzard was playing with North American friends for over 10 fact, that the company is thought to have hundreds simply trying to group players geographically to years across Diablo, Starcraft and WoW. Much of dedicated community managers that exist simply provide better performance and prioritise load on touted cross-game communication features were to respond to the concerns of a rapidly growing its US servers for local players. But the cultural also locked out, thanks to this cross-server block. player base. differences and existing ties that Australian players But players were more confused and disappointed have always had with their US counterparts had then angry with this decision, since it didn’t seem to It works. Although it wouldn’t really seem that way if been completely ignored in the process. Blizzard make any sense. Thousands of Australian gamers, you took a quick look at the ‘General’ forum of any had made the first major mistake of community including myself, who were lucky to play in the of Blizzard’s staple titles, but people appreciate the engagement; it hadn’t consulted the players before SC2 beta were situated on the US West battle. time, effort and honesty that Blizzard puts into its it made such a major decision. net servers, and issues with lag were almost non- responses. But the recent acquisition of Blizzard existent. The many competitive friendships and by gaming monolith Activision has, in the eyes The response was fierce, and instantaneous. community growth that were developed over the 3 of some players and commentators, seemed to Hundreds of threads popped up across both the months of the beta were now moot. slowly change the dynamic of the once fan-friendly old and recently redesigned Battle.net forums, LEFTN OUT I THE COLD Blizzard’s solution to this conundrum was a strong everything from Australian friendly WoW servers to promise that SEA account holders would get access local support lines and promotions. to US servers within 60 days of the game’s launch. While details on how this will occur are still sketchy, But the campaign to mash Australia, a country it’s likely that Australian gamers will have to have that almost every major game software or dual clients on their PCs; one to play with Aussies hardware developer has trouble ‘classing’, in with and another to play with Americans. In the eyes its geographical but almost completely culturally of many, this is not a solution, it’s simply another different neighbours is a bad idea in almost every headache. way. It creates problems instead of solving them, showing that making decisions by committee, rather But cross-server chat, a smaller and less than decisions based on real world feedback, never competitive player base and community/cultural work as well in practice as they do on paper. deficiencies aren’t the only issue; custom maps have been brought front and centre from the fringes From a developer that prides itself on quality work of the modding community, but again, the best ones and honest dialogue with its base, this is a big are developed by the biggest player base – The US. hit to its reputation as one of the last bastions of Since SEA players aren’t able to contribute to forum “developers for gamers”. Starcraft 2 is a brilliant discussions within other regions; the local modding game, by all accounts, and the redesign of Battle. community lacks the ability to contribute and gain net reflects the new social arena of multiplayer real criticism from the big boys on the playing field. gaming. But creating regions, thus unnecessarily separating players and fracturing strong community Blizzard has always had a strong and consistent bonds is not a great way to start this new frontier. support base in Australia. The millions of Australian gamers who indulge in one or many of James Pinnell the company’s stellar titles are a real part of the company’s support base and, until recently, the big blue developer had reciprocated in kind, creating IN WITH THE NEW Fallout 3 more or less owned Obsidian Entertainment have 2008, taking Game of the Year been tasked with giving players awards left, right and centre. that feeling once more with Fallout: New Vegas may not Fallout: New Vegas. It’s not the directly follow the events of first time Obsidian have taken that game, but it’s in the same up the mantle of another series universe and with the same game either, developing the well- engine. Pixel Hunt got in touch received sequel Knights Of The with Obsidian Entertainment’s Old Republic II. We asked Sawyer Josh Sawyer, Project Director and how the team felt about working Lead Designer to find out a bit on another highly respected and about Fallout: New Vegas. revered property. “We have a small number of There’s a moment early on Fallout franchise veterans in Fallout 3 where the player (formerly of Black Isle Studios, emerges from Vault 101. Like a developer of the first two Fallout baby out of the safe confines games) working on New Vegas so of the womb, your character for several of them it’s a welcome is suddenly thrust into the homecoming. I’ve wanted to work real world – the oppressive on a Fallout game since about wasteland of Washington DC. A 1997, so I’m glad I finally got the dead, hostile expanse stretching opportunity!” out in all directions. A place of perpetual misery and decay. It’s a More recently Obsidian put out an memorable sequence because it’s RPG hybrid of their own making so full of promise to the player. in the form of Alpha Protocol. Like Though from the character’s Fallout, you can talk to people, put perspective it’s a world of hellish points into skills and blow things depravity, to the player it’s the up, and like Fallout, the things you ultimate playground. did could have a lasting effect. So what did Obsidian learn from Alpha Protocol choice of location. Where Washington DC was the the spirit of late 1950s Vegas... the ‘Rat Pack’ era, that they’ve applied to New Vegas? political heart of America, Las Vegas is perhaps when Vegas really started to take off. A lot of our “We put a lot of effort into reactivity to player America at its most excessive. As for New Vegas, art director’s aesthetic choices were based on choice. Like Alpha Protocol, New Vegas puts it’s important to note that it’s in a lot better shape capturing that vibe.” heavy emphasis on reacting to the player’s than DC is in Fallout 3. It avoided direct contact Sawyer goes on to say: “Some people may think actions. We’ve also taken feedback on AP’s action with the nukes and, as Sawyer mentions, looks a it’s garish, but the New Vegas Strip is dazzling, elements to heart since, depending on your play lot less depressing than its East Coast counterpart especially when contrasted with the “rest of the style, combat can be a large part of your New as a result. city” around it. The Ultra-Luxe casino in particular Vegas experience.” “Most of the New Vegas environments are actually has some really cool architectural elements on the pretty cheerful: warm sands and blue skies. What inside, though I really like the neon lights on the Moral dilemmas are another virtually obligatory you find in those environments can often be pretty exterior of The Tops.” element of Western RPGs. Most come down to depressing, but I think people will note that the black and white solutions, but it’s always the grey Mojave Wasteland does not look as bleak as the More important than the bright neon lights of areas that are the most interesting. We ask Sawyer east coast.” Vegas is what happens inside the buildings they where the player’s choices in New Vegas will sit on adorn: gambling. Players spent plenty of time that spectrum. But how will Fallout’s take on Las Vegas match up in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas blowing their “In some cases, it still is black and white. But, to the real thing? Distinctive features of Washington illegally earned cash in Las Venturas, and players we’ve tried to introduce more ambiguity with definitely took to poker in Red Dead Redemption. the factions and especially the individuals The demand for poker to be a part of Red Dead’s involved in the New Vegas power struggle. multiplayer was so strong that Rockstar included it With some quests, there really aren’t any in the most recent batch of DLC. So how will New “pure” good or bad options, just various trade- Vegas handle it? offs that the player has to weigh.” “The player can encounter a few small casinos outside of the Strip itself, but ultimately the big Las Vegas and its surrounds is an interesting winnings can be found at the major casinos. None of the gambling games are required, but they do allow the player to make a significant amount of money. As the player plays at the casino, he or she will be ‘comped’ with gifts from the casino -- at least until they win too much and are banned.” Another thing we’re curious about is whether or not we’ll get a feel for the life of Vegas itself. DC like the Washington “It’s a mix. Some characters are set in their Monument and the Capitol locations and others wander the wasteland or Building contributed heavily change location based on the state of the world. to the bleak reality of Fallout We’ve tried to ensure that communities do feel 3. like they have an ebb and flow to their days and “We’re not trying to recreate nights, though the Strip really never shuts down. 21st century Vegas as much Especially when it gets dark out, the centre of the as we are trying to capture city is a beacon in the night.” Fallout 3 was critically acclaimed, and setting. Conversely, the humour in the topped plenty of end-of-year lists. It did first two Fallout games was excessive have its issues though, some of which and over the top, invoking pop culture Obsidian are keen to rectify, while references and breaking the fourth- keeping what made the game so great wall. Since the Obsidian crew includes intact. people who worked on those games, “We’ve tried to improve the elements of we wondered where the humour in New Fallout 3 that received criticism and left Vegas would lie. things alone that people seem to like “Honestly, it’s very tricky. Fallout has overall. Structurally and mechanically, always had a lot of humour. At times there are a lot of Fallout 3 elements in it has spilled over into absurdity. On Fallout: New Vegas.” New Vegas, I was initially conservative about ‘wacky’ humour because it’s an One element of Fallout 3 that was extremely divisive issue for fans as well slightly off was the manual shooting. It as the developers. We finally settled was perfectly functional, but didn’t have on using an opt-in trait, Wild Wasteland, the polish of a dedicated FPS. New to open the door to more absurd or Vegas has tweaked real-time combat by bizarre comedic elements. If you like allowing the player to aim down the gun your Fallout experiences to have a sights. Sawyer details a couple of other sprinkling of goofy nonsense, take Wild changes made to the combat. Wasteland. If you don’t, you won’t miss “One of the biggest changes is that any content. It will just be a bit more melee and unarmed characters have straight-laced.” new options in VATS. As a character’s Melee Weapons and Unarmed skill All in all, New Vegas is shaping up to rises, he or she will gain the ability to be a worthwhile successor to Fallout perform special moves in VATS. For 3. It’s a different developer, a different long-range shooting, real-time will still environment and a different feeling. If be more accurate than in VATS. This New Vegas can improve upon Fallout may seem counter-intuitive, but it helps 3’s shortcomings while delivering retain some challenge -- especially the same level of atmosphere and for high Sneak characters that could experience as its predecessor, there’s otherwise just creep through the game no reason why New Vegas can’t make VATS-sniping everything.” its own showing as one of the games of the year. Another element of Fallout we quiz Sawyer on is its humour. Fallout 3’s Fallout: New Vegas is slated for a 22 humour was ever-present but subtle, October release. often achieved through the juxtaposition of the game’s dark circumstances with Michael Pincott the blissful cheeriness of the 1950’s FALLOUT: NEW VOICES Obsidian recently announced the array of voice talent that will feature in New Vegas, and next to the compulsory inclusion of Ron ‘…War…’ Perlman are some very interesting selections: Danny Trejo (Machete!) Matthew Perry (that guy from Friends) Michael Dorn (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Fallout 2) Wayne Newton (Las Vegas legend) Felicia Day (celebrity geek from The Guild) Kris Kristofferson (actor and singer-songwriter) Zachary Levi (that guy from Chuck) René Auberjonois (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Boston Legal) John Doman (Rawls from The Wire!) UTUR3 The dust has settled on on e THE F gaming ev ents, and the Pi of the year’s biggest scrounged through the sc xel Hunt team have ra thoughts on some of the ps to bring you some most intr 3RUTUF EHT promising titles shown at iguing and E3. GAME OF THE SHOW? Dylan Burns Kirby: Epic Yarn – for turning a WTF? reaction as it was announced into a “Holy crap! That actually looks awesome!” one. Michael Pincott I was enamoured with the gorgeous art style of Kirby: Epic Yarn, but if I could have any E3 game in my hands right now it would be Portal 2. Ken Lee Dance Central. While I am personally excited about the potential in Microsoft’s Kinect, most games shown did not take advantage of it. But Dance Central seems to build upon Kinect’s strengths, offering an experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere. While dance games are not new, the execution in Dance Central is unique, with the game actually actively tracking body movements. Music and dancing wildly in the living room? I’m there. Tim Henderson Rage. THE F UTUR3 3RUTUF EHT DISAPPOINTED BY? Dylan Burns Just about the whole show really. There were very few surprises, which spoke of an event that’s a little unsure of its place. No shows from a few large publishers suggests that the games show circuit may be spreading out more across the year, rather than being focused in one huge geek- gasm. Michael Pincott MICROSOFT, SONY OR NINTENDO? The Last Guardian was a no-show. I’m sure there are perfectly good reasons for it not being there, but damn it, I watched that whole torturously self-congratulatory Sony conference waiting for it to appear, only for it to Dylan Burns end with Twisted Metal. I have nothing against Twisted Metal, but The Nintendo are Winnarz! Last Guardian it ain’t. Michael Pincott Ken Lee Nintendo by a long shot. Impressive new hardware in the Lack of news for the future. Everything seems especially geared towards form of the 3DS, coupled with the revival of Donkey Kong, this holiday season, and nothing much beyond that. I don’t only want to Kirby and Kid Icarus, suggested a genuine focus on making know what I can buy in the next few months, I want to be excited by the good games rather than outdoing the competition with direction of the industry. technology, although they kind of did that as well. Tim Henderson Ken Lee Zelda: Skyward Sword. Nintendo. The reveal of the 3DS was personally exciting to me, but Nintendo has really stepped up its offerings in all areas. Games like Epic Mickey, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Golden Sun, Kid Icarus and Metroid: Other M are just a small example of what to expect from Nintendo. Tim Henderson Nintendo. THE F UTUR3 3RUTUF EHT lookING FORWARD TO? Dylan Burns The 3DS. I can’t wait to see what Nintendo will do with 3D gaming that isn’t pushed on us just as a gimmick. Michael Pincott The 3DS. I’ll probably pick up Move and Kinect on their respective launch days mostly out of cautious curiosity, but the 3DS is a first day purchase without a shadow of a doubt. Ken Lee Nintendo 3DS. I have always made it clear that I am a fanboy of Nintendo’s portable consoles. The 3DS will become my next obsession. It builds upon the established strengths of the DS, while adding a whole slew of improvements: larger top screen, analogue slider, tilt sensor, 2-way camera (with the outer facing one being a 3D camera), and of course, 3D image functionality. Tim Henderson 3DS. THE FUTUR3 DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION I really don’t understand the hate for the second Deus Ex (I still inadvertently pronounce this ‘due-sex’). Sure, Invisible War was ‘dumbed down’ for consoles, but it was still an engaging game and well above what was on offer at the time. That it didn’t live up to the first perhaps says more about Deus Ex itself than of its sequel. Under any other name, Invisible War would have been considered a fine hybrid of shooter and RPG. Set as a prequel, Human Revolution will tell of the events that lead up to the formation of UNATCO. The game’s protagonist, Adam Jensen, is a security officer for a company that deals in human augmentation. When Adam incurs a fatal injury, he is forced to undergo life-saving augmentation. The player will follow his experiences as the game tackles the issue of humanity moving beyond its strictly organic origin. Human Revolution seems much more in line with the first Deus Ex, which has fans understandably excited. It remains to be seen if the game will be an anachronistic release or if its embrace of more modern shooter elements, such as a regenerating health system, will give it the modern edge needed to make a mark in today’s market. Expect the game to hit in February 2011. Dylan Burns THE FUTUR3 JOURNEY: thatgamecompany has never been shy about its experimentations with methods of play and challenging the way we think about games. With Journey, it seems they are about to do the same; turning us away from the established game tropes of wins and losses, immersing us in experiences, and aiming to re-ignite a sense of wonder and awe. Players take their characters on an exploration through a vast desert landscape, with no real objective other than to experience the world. Players explore at their own pace, choosing to walk or even surf the swirling sands like waves in an ocean. You can even fly, powered by bits of cloth which are activated and collected by a burst of song from the player. Along the way, players might encounter other people, as Journey is thatgamecompany’s first foray into the multiplayer space. With no real objective to fulfil, they may choose to travel together for a while, or go their separate ways. Communication is limited to the songs that the characters sing and patterns drawn in the sand. In a similar vein to Team Ico’s Shadow of the Colossus, Journey seeks to place players in a world so much larger than themselves. To date, only screenshots have been released. Despite not having seen the game in motion, thatgamecompany has an encouraging track record. Their games have always sought to give players new experiences and new methods of play. As such, anticipation for Journey is justifiably high. Ken Lee THE FUTUR3 DEAD SPACE 2: I was a big fan of the first Dead Space, and could never quite understand how people thought its similarity to Resident Evil 4, which is one of the best action-adventure games ever, was actually a bad thing. Dead Space 2 looks to be shaping up nicely. Visceral Games showed off a playable sequence from the game in two parts at E3. Unsurprisingly the gameplay remains fairly similar to the first game, with returning protagonist Isaac Clarke dispatching space nasties by way of limb removal. Clarke is no longer mute, giving more potential to a story that has already been strongly established from the cross-over of the comic, the animated film and the game itself. Clarke is apparently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (and who can blame him, after the ending of the first game?) which will hopefully lend a psychological element to Dead Space 2’s horror aesthetic. I’m also intrigued by the setting. The first game made effective use of the claustrophobic confines of the USG Ishimura spaceship. Dead Space 2 is set in The Sprawl, a large space station that functions as a miniature city. This frees up Visceral Games a lot in terms of the variety of locations and situations they can place Clarke and the player in. Judging by the E3 demonstration, Visceral will continue to focus on the kind of intense set-pieces that made Dead Space feel so gripping and cinematic. At this stage Dead Space 2 looks like Dead Space, only bigger and nastier. I can’t wait to shoot alien space babies with my harpoon gun. Michael Pincott THE FUTUR3 CHILD OF EDEN: Did you play Rez? No? Did you play Rez HD? Yes? Good. I’ll assume that you didn’t just think the word ‘yes’ to yourself because I was giving you an implied look. That would just be wrong. Like eating Mexican food the day after you start a diet. Of course, not having played Rez would be even more wrong. It was a fantastic game that created a real-time trip down sensory lane. It was, despite working in an ancient genre, somewhat ahead of its time: a masterful fusion of the audio, visual, and, occasionally, the rumbling physical. It also came in handy in a pinch for art students who needed to vindicate their hobby. Aside from the drugs (which can always be purchased separately, unless you happen to be in Singapore – in which case you probably shouldn’t do that) the only thing missing from the London nightclub experience was the sore arms that came from all that damn pointing at the roof. Child of Eden, effectively a sequel to Rez hiding behind a different name, proposes to iron out that particular problem by actually making Kinect and Move look like they may have an appealing use. Demoed on the 360 at E3, the game quickly became a welcome quasi-apology for all the insulting Kinect nonsense that came before it. Showcasing visual trappings even more elaborate than those before and a pulsing soundtrack that has snuck in some more ambient undertones, the game stands a chance of being porn for new TVs, and with a download price-point (and, thankfully, regular pad support), there’s a chance that even those who don’t ‘get’ it may still derive some enjoyment from this on- rails shooter. Tim Henderson THE FUTUR3 MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3: A lot of people have mixed feelings about Marvel vs Capcom 3’s visual style, but I for one am really happy with it. It’s really cool that Capcom chose a more Western comic book look for the game, rather than the generic anime style that we’ve seen over a million times. It will do wonders in attracting the hardcore Marvel fans and Western gamers in general. Capcom have tried new visual styles with Street Fighter IV, Tatsunoko vs Capcom and now Marvel vs Capcom 3. The roster announced so far features a dream cast of fighters with enough to make fans from both Capcom and Marvel camps giggle like a school girl on her first date. Personally, I was really happy to see Dante (even though his inclusion was inevitable) as it was something I had dreamt about ever since I played the first Devil May Cry. I’m not ashamed to admit that I want this game solely for kicking ass as Dante. There will be plenty of familiar faces from past Marvel vs Capcom games as well as new additions, such as the iconic and fourth-wall breaking Deadpool and unorthodox characters like Amaterasu from Okami. Given Capcom’s recent impressive track record, we can expect Marvel vs Capcom 3’s gameplay to be highly polished. The gameplay videos have shown off some impressive 3 v 3 team battles that would make SNK worry, as well as some fancy extended airborne combos and Team Supers. Marvel vs Capcom games were huge back in the day, in an era where developers were pumping out one top quality fighting game after the next. Thanks to Capcom, Street Fighter IV and online gaming, that glorious era has returned once more. Marvel vs Capcom will hopefully take that revival to the next level. Times are good again for fighting fans. Jahanzeb Khan THE PORTAL 2: FUTUR3 Valve did a fine job of building up expectations for Portal 2’s E3 appearance, with their official E3 appearance cancelled, replaced with the more tantalising (and quite humorous) promise of a ‘surprise’. That surprise was Gabe Newell showing up at, of all places, Sony’s press conference. Mr Newell, in total deadpan, made light of his past views of the PS3, as well as making the announcement that the PS3 version of Portal 2 would be supported by Steamworks, which Newell later said he believes will make the PS3 version the best console iteration of the game. We were treated to a brief but mouth-watering glimpse of Portal 2 that focused more on the environment than gameplay. Aperture Science’s laboratories aren’t looking too hot, with mother nature well and truly moving in. Glados is up and running again, one sinister eye blinking back into existence, and the words ‘It’s been a long time… how have you been?’ Since E3, plenty of gameplay footage has surfaced, demonstrating the numerous new gameplay elements. So far we’ve seen Aerial Faith Plates (platforms that launch you into the air) Pneumatic Diversity Vents, Excursion Funnels, Propulsion Gel and Repulsion Gel, and the Thermal Discouragement Beam. The two brightly coloured gels look like they’ll really shake up the gameplay. The repulsion gel essentially makes you bounce while the propulsion gel sends you sliding across the ground with speed. A lot of the movement puzzles in the original Portal were based on the idea of building momentum, and it appears this is a concept that will be expanded upon a lot here. Speaking of expansion, I’ll be interested to know how Valve will adapt the gameplay and story to the 7 or 8 hours expected of a fully fledged retail title. Portal was small, minimalist and genius. At this stage I’m confident Portal 2 will replicate Portal’s success on a larger scale. Michael Pincott THE FUTUR3 EPIC MICKEY: I’ve been playing Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and to be honest all this Disney love is not really my thing. Even so, it doesn’t seem at all strange to be an adult still playing games featuring a talking mouse and a fairy godmother. Disney characters are part of just about every person’s childhood. Like gamers who have grown up with Pokemon, there must be a part of the brain that accepts what, to outside eyes, seems childish and puerile. Epic Mickey seems anything but puerile, yet will play off of your childhood memories. Warren Spector, the brain behind the excellent (and much gushed over) Deus Ex, might seem at first like a strange lead for this game, but given its darker tone and moral choices, perhaps this could be the game that gets even full grown gamers to openly declare their Mickey love. Gameplay looks set to be of the platform variety, but it’s the inclusion of paint thinner and the magic paintbrush which should open up the experience considerably. A recharging meter will allow Mickey to either destroy parts of the environment with paint thinner, or create new elements such as platforms or bridges with the magic paintbrush. Spector is also promising a morality system whereby Mickey will become either a hero or villain in the magical world he’s found himself in. Hopefully this system isn’t too black or white and that some truly interesting choices are presented – not just whether or not to strangle Goofey. If you own a Wii, Epic Mickey is probably the next big game to be focused on. Dylan Burns THE DONKEY KONG FUTUR3 COUNTRY RETURNS: The original Donkey Kong Country was immensely successful, and is still the source of fond memories for many gamers from the 16-bit era. Though there are some who now think the game was over-rated, Donkey Kong Country Returns still has some large shoes to fill. If properly executed, DKCR has a huge potential to both appeal to Nintendo loyalists, and to usher in a whole legion of new gamers. The series’ original developers moved on when Rare was acquired by Microsoft in 2002. But the current developer, Retro Studios, has a similar level of pedigree with their previous work on the Metroid Prime series. Instead of completely rebuilding the franchise (like their approach to the Metroid Prime series), Retro will be taking a more traditional route, re-introducing many elements found in the original DKC, such as the mine cart levels, and collecting bananas. Much of the level design will also be inspired by DKC. However, that doesn’t mean Retro won’t be introducing a few new touches of their own. The levels where DK’s silhouette is laid against a setting sun are absolutely beautiful. And aside from graphical upgrades, Retro will also be making gameplay changes such as introducing a new co-op multiplayer mode, and WiiMote controls. Donkey Kong Country Returns builds upon its roots to offer quality 2D platfomer goodness that should appeal to its most ardent fans. There is also strong potential to bring in newcomers to the genre. But more importantly, it could convert the series’ detractors into believers. Retro Studios has set themselves an immense task, but they seem to have taken to the challenge with aplomb. Ken Lee KIRBY’S EPIC YARN: THE One of the biggest surprises of E3 was Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The surprising part wasn’t so much that Nintendo was FUTUR3 reviving Kirby – that was something that has been on the cards for a while now – but the way Epic Yarn looked. Not being somebody innately familiar with the terminology of sewing, the best analogy I can come up with is that Epic Yarn looks like everything in your grandmother’s sewing basket – not so much the needles and scissors part, but fabric and material and thread. Like most Kirby games, Epic Yarn is a 2D platformer, but don’t let that fool you into notions of same old – the reason Epic Yarn’s trailer was so impressive wasn’t just because of the magnificent art style, but the fact that the aesthetic is built into the gameplay too. Things like Kirby pulling a piece of fabric taut to bring two platforms closer together and literally unzipping a part of the world are promising examples that Epic Yarn is going to be more than just a pretty face. Kirby itself is made of pieces of string, and can extend said string to interact with the environment, such as grabbing and pulling back the zipper mentioned earlier. Kirby has traditionally been able to assume different forms and that will be the case once more in Epic Yarn. The trailer showcased Kirby turning into, among other things, a parachute, a car, a UFO, and most awesomely, a tank. It also looks like there’s going to be room for co-op play, with a little crown-wearing blue follower accompanying Kirby through some of the areas in the trailer. When Kirby becomes the almighty KirbyTank, crown boy is in the cockpit. Epic Yarn will probably be marketed at a younger audience but it clearly oozes the charm and personality that will get the older gamers in. If some of the platforming genius of Super Mario Galaxy can be filtered into Epic Yarn, and if co-op is used to its full potential, expect Epic Yarn to be a sleeper hit. Especially if Meta Knight and King Dedede show up. Michael Pincott THE FUTUR3 MORTAL KOMBAT: The Mortal Kombat franchises have experimented with 3D fighting and super heroes to mixed reception. But this latest iteration looks set to return to its roots as a brutal, heavy hitting 2D fighter. The success of Street Fighter IV (and the Super follow- up) made it quite clear that there is demand for old-school fighters. And returning to its roots satisfies hardcore fighter fans by focusing on the depth of the fighting system, while appealing to newcomers by reducing the level of complexity. The game celebrates its gory claim to fame, determinedly aiming for the M-rating. Fights are bloody, with both your victims and yourself copping the bitter end of the stick. And should you be victorious, you revel by (literally) tearing your opponent a new hole. But going old-school is not the only trick that this game pulls. It introduces a new Super Meter which allows each fighter to pull off stronger special attacks. And a full meter will unleash the X-Ray move, a devastating series of attacks where you see bones broken and organs crushed. The game also adds tag-teaming which opens up options for combos and sneak attacks. Mortal Kombat’s return heralds a new golden age of fighting games. And it looks to be in good shape to challenge for the crown. Ken Lee FABLE III: THE Fable III’s showing at E3 was genuinely odd. I expected it to be a fairly sizable part of Microsoft’s E3 presentation, being FUTUR3 a Microsoft exclusive and the sequel to the fairly successful Fable II. I had expected we’d also be seeing plenty of Fable III utilising Kinect, which Peter Molyneux has enthusiastically demonstrated in the past with Milo & Kate. Perhaps it would have been helpful for Microsoft to show Kinect’s implementation in a ‘real’ game (It has since become clear that Fable III will have zero Kinect support out of the box). Instead, Fable III’s moment in the spotlight was brief, with Molyneux coming out and not saying a great deal about anything, followed by a trailer for the game. That was it. Fable III is shaping up as an intriguing successor to Fable II, but at this stage it looks more like Fable 2.5. Your character is the son of your Fable II hero, who has died. Unfortunately, daddy left the crown to his other, more evil son, leaving you with the task of raising an army of rebels against him and taking the crown for yourself. This is apparently just the first half of the game, with the other half focused on your role as King. Will you carry on the dastardly work of your brother, or turn things around to make Albion the sweet and lovely place it can surely be? This element of the game has plenty of potential to be interesting, but as we learned from Fable II, things never quite turn out as good as Molyneux would like us to believe they are. Despite its flaws I enjoyed Fable II a lot, so my expectations for Fable III will be for another solid, engrossing fantasy adventure, hopefully this time with a deeper moral scope and more significant consequences to my actions. The fact that John Cleese, Stephen Fry and Simon Pegg feature on the voice cast is promising for the game’s fairly enjoyable sense of humour. Michael Pincott THE METAL GEAR SOLID: RISING FUTUR3 Everyone really, really hated Raiden after Metal Gear Solid 2. He was whiny, he was incompetent, he was totally whipped by girlfriend Rose. Standing next to the very pinnacle of manliness – Solid Snake – Raiden looked even more like a little girl. Worst of all, you weren’t only having to tolerate his meagre existence, you actually had to play as him! However, Metal Gear Solid 4 gave Raiden the opportunity to redeem himself. And that he did, becoming a rather badass cyborg ninja much like Gray Fox in the original Metal Gear Solid; more machine than man. Rising is, at this stage, still a vague proposition. In terms of storyline, Rising fills the five-year gap between Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4. In other words, a more accurate subtitle would be ‘How Raiden Stopped Being A Bitch And Became A Man.’ The trailer shown at E3 portrayed Raiden fighting what is either a robot or a man in some heavy duty armour, defeating it with ease by liberating it of its upper body. He then removed what was left of the mechanical spine and absorbed the energy into himself, which appears to be the key of the game’s ‘zan-datsu’ philosophy, which means ‘cut and take’. Cutting is something you’ll be doing a lot of, and in rather spectacular and gory style. The E3 trailer went on to show gameplay footage of Raiden slicing and dicing his way through guards with consummate ease, literally bisecting his foes in a way that’s going to cause the Classification Board to think more than twice about this one. Particularly lovely was when Raiden swept one enemy, triggering a slow-motion opportunity for the player to select their slices with care and consideration. It seems Raiden’s blade can cut just about anything, including pillars and vehicles, so it will be interesting to see what role destruction of non-living things will have in the gameplay. At this stage Rising is looking very flashy and very violent, but this is still a Metal Gear Solid game, so you can expect some stealth, a convoluted plot, plenty of anti-nuclear sentiment and many, many cutscenes along with the dismemberment, pillar slicing and watermelon cutting the trailer has promised. Michael Pincott IN CASE YOU MISSED IT >> ‘It means no worries, for the rest of your days…’ AFRIKA (2008) to snap a male, female and a baby before the Field Guide will be completely filled in. This game is a I don’t blame you for missing Afrika. In 2008 it was completionist’s wet dream. released only in Asia, under the title Hakuna Matata. Over a year later it was released in the U.S as The animals themselves are very well animated. Afrika, but went relatively unnoticed – unsurprising They react to their environment and each other, when you consider that its competition at the time nurturing their young, travelling in herds and was Uncharted 2. However, if you are looking for exhibiting fight or flight behaviour when you get something different for a quiet Sunday afternoon too close. It’s only when you see a large amount gaming session, it’s worth tracking this little gem of them in one place – such as a flamingo flock – down. that the animation loops become apparent. The soundtrack is great too. You feel like Indiana Jones In Afrika, you play the role of a photojournalist sent as you drive across the plains to the triumphant into the African wilderness. You receive emails from score. Tribal beats add tension to hunts and battles various clients requesting specific shots of animals between animals. There are no elephant joyrides and no cuddles with or parts of the landscape. As you complete missions cute lion cubs. You don’t even get to run anything you earn money for your photos, allowing you to The cameras you use are all real Sony cameras over in your jeep. And while you CAN be attacked buy better cameras and new equipment. There (There is a LOT of product placement in this game). by the animals if you piss them off, you don’t get to are several habitats to explore, from savannahs You can simply aim and shoot on auto if you want see them viciously disembowel you. This game is to swamps, with different animals native to each to, but for the more advanced photographers all the not about action. It’s about patience, nature and art. area. Some animals only appear at certain times options are there to adjust shutter speed, aperture You will spend an awful lot of time hiding in bushes of the day, or only reveal themselves once you’ve and exposure. waiting for the perfect shot. But when you get it, and passed a certain mission. There are also scripted see it on the cover of National Geographic, all that events called Big Game Trophies, where you have The game still has it flaw’s. There’s no fast travel, waiting will have been worth it. to nab the perfect shot of an action event, such as a and loading times are excruciating. For every cheetah on the hunt or a herd of wildebeest crossing gorgeously rendered antelope there is an abysmally If you’re an animal lover, a budding photographer a river to greener pastures. pixellated shrub. Sometimes it feels like the game is or a sucker for obsessive compulsive database giving you the run-around just for the sake of adding completion, then this game will make for a very When you discover a new animal and upload a hours to gameplay, which is ridiculous when there satisfying safari. photo of it, the animal is unlocked in the Field are more than enough animals to track down without Guide. This extensive guide features facts, photos the need for artificial game lengthening. and videos from National Geographic, all waiting to Annika Howells be unlocked. For many of the animals you will need You don’t get to ever actually touch the animals. PROFESSOR PIXEL >> Gaming’s version of the Stig. We here at Pixel Hunt consider ourselves might make for a neat character. Rumour a pretty knowledgeable bunch when it has it that he grew Peter Molyneux in a comes to video games. But there are lab in a horribly failed attempt to clone secrets in gaming beyond even our himself. One man claimed to have grasp, the sort of mysteries and dilemmas arranged a meeting with him. That man that drive the sane insane, turn regular turned up dead a day later, a SNES sleepers into raving insomniacs, and controller lodged in his throat. leave the strongest of us in a pool of our own tears. They call him Professor Pixel. “ “ The love triangle between Mario, Bowser and Peach is a complicated affair. But, there is hope. In our darkest hour, Gaming publications have been there is a shining light. attempting to secure the Professor’s services for years, but in a massive coup, There is a man for whom the Pixel Hunt has been granted exclusive insurmountable problems that shatter access to his infinite wealth of knowledge. the mortal psyche are mere specks to It took nothing less than the sacrifice be crushed and tossed aside. We don’t of our very souls, offered up to the know where he lives, how old he is, or Professor in a pagan ritual that featured whether he’s even truly human. Some say six cows, five virgins and a Frisbee. So he travels underground, riding a gigantic if you have the kind of gaming question mythical sloth. Some say the heads of that no one else will touch, we’ll pass Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all answer it on to Professor Pixel, and then await to him, and that he once suggested to his pigeon-delivered response, which Shigeru Miyamoto that an Italian plumber we will then translate using ancient PROFESSOR PIXEL >> Gaming’s version of the Stig. Swedish runes. Just to make sure he was legit, investigate further.) The clues are all there. For GORDOS we’ve already tested the Professor with a couple of a start, he’s not even a man. Look at that sissy questions of our own. We’ll let the answers speak crowbar. Whatever happened to chainsaws? Did And while you’re at it, put in a big L to reflect what a for themselves. they go out of fashion? And that goatee! Are you loser this guy is. trying to make me laugh, Freeman? Either grow a GLORDOS Q: Professor, I’m a big fan of the Half-Life series. real beard, or start wearing stockings. So you can But Gordon Freeman never says a word! He’s been cross man right out of his name, like so. And what is this ‘or’ shit in the middle? The only ‘or’ through so much, he must have something to say. Is around here belongs at the end of ‘Profess’. he truly a mute or just a really shy guy? GORDON FREEMAN GLORDOS PP: There’s a perfectly logical explanation here, so blatantly obvious I can’t believe Pixel Hunt are Look at what we have then. Hey Gordon, have an A instead… for asshole! Now wasting my time with it. Gordon Freeman is not let’s see what we have left… who he says he GORDON FREE is. (Professor’s GLADOS. Note: But since Well, that hardly makes sense. Gordon Free… he’s never said is that like fat free? Gluten free? Tax free? Free That’s right. This is the real reason Valve haven’t anything, he Willy? So axe Free, and have a look at what’s released Episode 3. The truth is sometimes just can’t have left. too horrifying to be revealed. Gordon Freeman said he was is actually Glados from Portal. He remains mute Gordon GORDON because to speak would give away his true identity Freeman as a psychopath AI. I suspect there’s a companion in the first Seems innocent enough. But there’s cube hiding in that moustache. Mind blown? You’re place. nobody more suspicious than people welcome. Must who have the same letter at the start or end of both names (Professor’s Note: Q: Professor, I just bought Super Mario Galaxy Must change own name to Rofessor 2, and guess what? The Princess gets kidnapped Ixel), so take off that extra N, put an again! I mean, damn, Peach should have learnt by S there or something. now how to avoid these kind of situations. Surely she can hide some mace under that frilly pink dress. GORDON Professor, do you think that deep down Peach wants to be kidnapped by Bowser? PROFESSOR PIXEL >> Gaming’s version of the Stig. are Mario and Bowser. They’re both being used by PP: Undoubtedly. Get kidnapped once, that’s Peach to her own ends. She cares not for Mario’s unfortunate. Get kidnapped twice, you’re very anguish as he tries desperately to save her, or for unlucky. But when you’ve been kidnapped as many Bowser’s. She doesn’t care for Bowser Junior, who times as Princess Peach, you’ve clearly become a in all likelihood is the result of Peach and Bowser’s willing party to the event. The love triangle between forbidden romance. (Professor’s Note: Bowser Mario, Bowser and Peach is a complicated affair. denies this is the case. Can you get paternity Peach appears torn between the two men in her tests in the Mushroom Kingdom? Must check birth life. Unable to reconcile her conflicting feelings, certificate.) she must repeatedly carry out a charade that will grant her a relationship with both of them. I can The young Bowser has strayed down his father’s only speculate what planted this twisted seed in her troubled path without a consistent female influence simple mind, but I suspect she may have developed to guide him. But we can’t lay the blame solely something similar to Stockholm Syndrome over at the feet of the Princess. Mario and Bowser, the course of her initial kidnappings. Stockholm whether consciously are not, play an active part in Syndrome (Professor’s Note: Or should that be this twisted little play. Should either fail to play their Mushrolm Syndrome?) is a curious psychological part - if Mario decides he has better things to do, condition wherein the victim’s feelings on their or if Bowser decides Daisy would be a more exotic kidnapper change from fear and repulsion to quarry – Peach’s machinations fall apart. The real respect, admiration and love. question is this: where does Yoshi fit in? (Professor’s Note: I never did understand why nice If you have any questions for the Professor, send girls like bad boys.) them to firstname.lastname@example.org. She spends time safe and sound in the Mushroom Professor Pixel Kingdom, supposedly baking cakes. It’s a pleasant enough existence, but she gets bored. She needs a little danger, a little excitement. Lo and behold, Bowser shows up. She gets her danger and excitement, Mario risks his neck for the umpteenth time. By the time she’s had her fill of Bowser, Mario has got around to saving her. The real losers here CREATIVE >> Redemption’s Blind Eye *Disclaimer: This is a piece of creative fiction and is in no way endorsed by or affiliated with Rockstar **WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE Boss’s expression grew even more grim. A grim moon watched over the gang as they buried Two days later, after being cooped the bodies in a shallow grave. Fingers and clothing up together, the gang decided it stuck up from the thin soil drizzled over them, as was worth a quick supply run into though it were just a token effort at duplicity. Armadillo. Jim was sent to scout “Jesus,” croaked one of the gang, “you want to feel it out, see if anyone had a price on their head, andflick of his eyes removed a great weight from his the bite of a rope?” use some of their hard-earned loot on supplies and shoulders. The Brady Gang was the flavour of Three men with shovels grunted and covered up the horse feed. the week. They probably even got blamed for that bodies, patted the soil down and covered it with a Jim wasn’t stupid. He knew that they sent him poor family… the little girl’s eyes flashed into Jim’s rotting wooden pallet. because he was the most expendable. If he were memory and he winced. It was fucking Gray’s fault. He couldn’t keep his dick in his pants “ “They didn’t even have to fucking die,” said one of the men, the and that stupid bitch had fought back. youngest. Jim pushed the memory away – he “ “Shut the fuck up, Jim. It’s too He knew this man would one day be on the other side of wasn’t a bad person but you had to fucking late now anyway.” the law, hunting down his brothers. do what you could to survive. One man watched over the The storemaster was a right prick proceedings, his face lit from the when it came to fleecing him on bright end of a half-burnt cigar. price, but in the end Jim got what “The boy’s right,” he said. “Now the he needed. A commotion caught Sheriff will be forced to investigate. Rape a woman, caught and hung he had no illusions of a timely his attention from the tavern. Raised voices, a beat a child, steal money, and that lazy son of a rescue. The rope would bite deep into his neck and woman’s scream, a drunken man with a knife. Then cunt can easily brush it off. But bodies… we’ll have he’d be with his momma once more. He wondered a gun shot, blood and a lone shooter holstering his to lay low for a while boys.” if they had hot baths in heaven. Jesus that would be weapon, eyes like burnt coal. One of the men started to apologise but stopped nice. “That’s Marston,” whispered the storemaster, who’d at the leader’s dark expression. Surprisingly, it was Armadillo bustled lazily in the midday heat. Jim poked his head out to snoop. “That there be one Jim who was brave enough to speak first. slinked into town via the back alleys and gathered tough cocksucker.” He realised that he’d spoken “Boss, I heard there’s a law man of sorts might be the courage to walk quickly past the various wanted too loudly when Marston’s gaze swung their way. to fear. Goes by the name Marston.” posters stuck to the train station wall. A quick Jim was rooted in place with apprehension. He knew this man would one day be on the other side of the law, hunting down his brothers. He breathed out as Marston went to help the woman who had almost been assaulted. She was hysterical at the blood on her dress, but thankful just the same. Jim punished his horse back to their hideout and reported what he had seen. Boss took it all in with unreadable equanimity. That night, as everyone slept, Jim took his turn at watch. He waited for the rhythmic snores of them all before slipping out and unhitching his horse. He didn’t take anything that didn’t belong to him – he’d come to the gang with his horse, and the clothes on his back and a few supplies in his pack he’d earned. He walked his mount several hundred feet before mounting. He took one last look back to where his brothers slept and said a silent goodbye. One day, no doubt, a man like Marston would put lead in every one of them, even Boss. Jim wasn’t going to let that fate be his. Starving on the road was better than that. The little girl’s eyes haunted him whenever he closed his eyes. Perhaps God would grant him redemption. Dylan Burns OST >> Red Dead Redemption If your sandbox game fits the context of Grand too. When it’s time for chases on horseback and Theft Auto (and let’s face it, many do), then you’re shooting bad men right in the face, the music pretty safe relying upon car radios as your game’s seamlessly picks up pace, a snarl of guitar or a source of music. If not, you face the challenge of tumultuous roll of percussion breaking in and setting providing music that is consistently in the player’s off. It’s here that the compulsory influence of Ennio headspace but doesn’t annoy the player through Morricone, the man who more or less invented sheer repetition. Assassin’s Creed II managed to do the sound of the spaghetti western, can be heard. this rather well, and Red Dead Redemption handles The horns, the whistling, the bells, the percussion: it even better, crafting atmosphere and mood with it’s all classic Morricone, sounds that are instantly ease. evocative of Sergio Leone’s films. One of the core appeals of Red Dead Redemption is that you’re Bill Elm and Woody Jackson’s score drifts in and playing a spaghetti western instead of watching one; out of the game with such organic fluidity it almost Elm and Jackson have done their part in making the feels like it’s being conjured up by the game’s score fit that role. environment itself. The way instruments are woven into the natural sounds of the game’s world is According to a Guardian article by Keith Stuart, exemplary. A subtle flourish of strings might be the Elm and Jackson kept the score in A-minor and at wind sending tumbleweeds across your path, the low 130 beats per minute in order to keep transitions Rockstar faced an interesting challenge when it drone of horns a warning of a thunderstorm to come. smooth and cohesive. Another interesting point came to the music for Red Dead Redemption. The Percussion echoes the clapping hooves of your made in that article is their approach to the music music in their Grand Theft Auto titles was almost horse. Dry twangs of guitar punctuate Marston’s in the three main areas of the game: Elm says entirely diegetic; aside from the opening theme, and lonesome treks across the barren countryside. The that they were aiming for a feel of peacefulness in the ditty that would play upon completing a mission, hollow ring of piano punctures the chilling silence of the beginning section of New Austin, focusing on the rest of the music came from the radios in hunting (or being hunted by) a bear at night in the violins, harmonica and guitars, as well as the classic vehicles. Radio was used cleverly, particularly from snow. You aren’t so much listening to a soundtrack Western whistle. Mexico, unsurprisingly, featured Vice City onwards, featuring real life musicians as as a soundscape. Try playing the game with a good more of a focus on mariachi horns. For the West DJs and plenty of well-known tracks. pair of headphones: it becomes that much more Elizabeth section of the game, Elm says that they obvious how exceptional the sound design here is. were aiming to connect to the themes of the New Red Dead Redemption afforded no such opportunity. Austin score while doing something totally different Assuming Rockstar didn’t consider the possibility Being a game where you’ll kill many, many, people, at the same time. He said they also incorporated of horses with magical radio implants, they had to sometimes ambience and subtlety isn’t the right some experimental elements, like using the take an entirely different approach. Background approach. But Elm and Jackson, current and heartbeat of a baby girl as a source of percussion. music in a sandbox game is a difficult proposition. former members respectively of instrumental rock Rockstar have released the soundtrack on iTunes, band Friends Of Dean Martinez, have that covered so let’s take a look at a few of the tracks. The whistling and strings in Born Into Trouble both Finally, we must mention the two points in the game establish motifs which surface again in tracks like where certain songs are triggered by a gameplay The Shootist, the main theme, titled (Theme From) event. (SPOILER ALERT!) Red Dead Redemption, and Muertos Rojos (The Gunslinger’s Lament). That main motif is a great The first is Far Away by José González, which little hook… don’t be surprised to find yourself plays as Marston rides into Mexico. The second is whistling along with it. One of the reasons it works Compass (Red Dead On Arrival Version) by Jamie so well is that played gently and slowly, it sounds Lidell, which plays when Marston rides back to mournful and melancholic. Blown up by horns his family’s ranch. Each song is perfect for that and drums and guitar, it sounds epic, triumphant, moment in John’s story. Far Away is a melancholic determined. ballad with lyrics that can easily be imagined to coincide with Marston’s circumstances. Likewise, Triggernometry is an interesting track in that it’s Lidell’s song fits the moment like a glove, and the really the only song here to wilfully incorporate lyrics instantly resonate with the player as Marston modern elements. The style of drumming is more hurries back to his family. Both tracks are mostly bombastic and more contemporary, quite different acoustic and sparsely arranged. The horns in to the loping, atmospheric percussion frequently Compass tie the song nicely back into the aesthetic heard elsewhere. It’s a very well executed track, of the main score. These were very smart song especially in its use of horns. It’s a clash not unlike choices by Rockstar. In both instances they add the game itself: just as Red Dead Redemption a lot of emotional punch to the game’s story, and represents the early 1900’s with the technology of are in part very effective simply because you’re not 2010, this track marries Morricone’s style with a expecting them. Like the regular score, these songs modern beat. also adapt to the gameplay in that they would trail The shorter tracks are strong too: there’s the sad off if the ‘moment’ was interrupted. William Eliot drone of harmonica in Already Dead, a dissonant Whitmore’s version of ‘cowboy folk’ song Bury Me darkness to the guitars in Gunplay and the pretty, Not On The Lone Prairie also adds appropriate contemplative Estancia. Horseplay and The gravitas to the game’s ending. SOUNDS LIKE: Shootist are really the go-to tracks for action sequences. There is a real maturity and sense of craftsmanship If you particularly enjoyed the soundtrack to this in this score, and the game’s use of sound overall. game, there are several albums worth pursuing One of my favourites is Exodus In America, which The amount of care and effort in making it work that have a similar sound. José González albums veers back and forth between the touching interplay is on par with the care that’s gone into the rest of In Our Nature and Veneer are both excellent if you of piano and strings to a harsh, droning harmonica the game. Rockstar realised how important the enjoyed Far Away. Dirty Three’s albums Ocean sound. In some ways it feels a little out of place; soundtrack would be, and thanks to the elegant Songs, Horse Stories and Cinder have a similar though the main motif is present, the style and and nuanced work of Elm and Jackson, the player’s feel to some of Red Dead’s arrangements but from tone is quite different to most of the other tracks. experience of Red Dead Redemption is made all a more Australian angle, especially thanks to violin The Outlaw’s Return is also fantastic, particularly the richer. of Warren Ellis (who worked with Nick Cave on the the second half when the squall of horns comes soundtrack of Australian ‘western’ The Proposition). in over a lonely guitar line. Like all excellent game Another band worth checking out are Calexico: Michael Pincott soundtracks, you don’t need to play the game to members Joey Burns and Jon Convertino were enjoy these songs. originally members of Friends Of Dean Martinez alongside Elm and Jackson. y ou wer e here! Wish SEE YA NEXT ISSUE!
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