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Recently we caught up with Patrice Désilets--Assassin's Creed's creative developer--to discuss the challenges of games creation when there's no development hardware, some of the lessons learned from working on Prince of Persia, and his future involvement with the Assassins franchise.
Ever since its announcement in 2005, Mass Effect has been on the radar of gamers around the world. With a little under a month until its November 22 release, Microsoft Australia have outlined some bonus goodies that those who pre-order the game can expect to receive.
Starting on November 5, people who pre-order will receive a free disc that contains exclusive gamer pics and themes, a five minutes behind-the-scenes documentary, tracks from the Mass Effect original soundtrack, trailers for Mass Effect, and other upcoming Xbox 360 games. Mass Effect will retail for AU$99.95. Be sure to check out GameSpot AU's recent interview with Bioware's community head Chris Priestly .
BioWare's community head Chris Priestly visited Sydney last week, and we cornered him to find out the latest on the Xbox 360's massive RPG, Mass Effect. Check out the video below to find out more about how many endings the game has, what your choices within the game will mean, and much more.
We work in an industry full of companies eager to get our attention. Sony is always a big player in this field, sending care packages in the post like the Hollywood Quiz pseudo-film canister press kit to coincide with its major announcements. We've often wondered how much of the company's marketing budget goes into sending us cool things to play with. It looks like perhaps the budget has been stretched thin, as today Hausmann Communications, Sony Australia's PR agency, sent us something a little more rustic.
Waiting in our inbox this morning was a video produced by the girls to promote the brand new R&B version of the popular SingStar franchise which goes on sale this Thursday. I give you their version of Salt-n-Pepa's mid '80s hit "Push It. 10 points for effort and an extra couple for the bling.
Sony's upcoming camera-based PlayStation 3 game--Eye of Judgment--made its public debut in Australia last weekend at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo. For those who haven't been following the title, Eye of Judgment is a card-based game which uses the PlayStation Eye camera to read a cybercode on the top of the cards, which are then placed on a play mat, bringing the card's creation to life on screen. We managed to find out a few more details from Elizabeth Sidiratos at Hasbro--the Australian distributor of the card booster packs--about how they will work and when we can expect to see them land on our shores.
The booster packs will be released in Australia on October 23rd--two days before the game is released--for A$4.95. These additional packs are made up of eight randomly selected cards, five of which are common cards, two uncommon cards, and one rare card. She went on to say that rare cards will have extra abilities which the common and uncommon cards will not have, making them an asset in any player's deck.
Players will also be able to purchase theme decks, which contain 30 cards, a tactics guide, and a book explaining the story behind Eye of Judgment. The theme decks will retail for A$17.95 and will also be released on the same day as the booster packs.
February 2008 will see the release of the first expansion pack for Eye of Judgment. The number of new cards is yet to be specified, but we were told that players can expect to see new expansion packs at a frequency of about every three to four months.
Eye of Judgment will be available in Australia on October 25th for A$159.95. The pack includes a copy of the game, PlayStation Eye camera, camera stand, playfield mat, and a starter pack of cards.
Are you a big Guitar Hero fan? Have you ever found yourself wishing you could be rocking out with your favourite game tune on the bus? (We know we have). Good news as today WaveGroup announces the availability of their back catalogue of Guitar Hero music for digital download.
The team of musicians responsible for Guitar Hero II and Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s' massive soundtracks has set Free Bird free, with music to be available through distributor INGrooves. Fret not, the songs will be available on all major services including AOL, Napster, Rhapsody, Yahoo!, and the ubiquitous Apple iTunes Music Store.
In total, 97 songs will be available, broken up into seven packs, two for the original Guitar Hero, three for Guitar Hero II's huge track listing, and two for the most recently launched Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. Each pack contains between 12 and 15 songs as performed by WaveGroup. Full details can be found here.
As we reported yesterday, Soldier of Fortune: Pay Back was refused classification by the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). Once a game is refused classification it cannot legally be sold, displayed publicly, or rented in Australia. We got our hands on the official ruling by the OFLC, which outlines the exact reasons for the banning of the game.
The report indicates that Soldier of Fortune: Pay Back has been banned under item 1(d) of the computer game table of the national classification code: "1. Computer games that: (d) are unsuitable for a minor to see or play". Further down the document the ruling states that "The player may target various limbs of the opponents and this can result in the limb being dismembered. Large amounts of blood spray from the stump with the opponent sometimes remaining alive before eventually dying from the wounds."
The popular Xbox 360 game Gears of War features similar depictions of death. If you shoot a Locust or human target with the shotgun they explode into tiny pieces of arm, leg, and body fragments, while a shot to the head with the sniper rifle will take your opponents head clean off. But who could forget Gears of War's most memorable feature--the chainsaw. Using this weapon, players are able to chainsaw their opponents in half while they shake and shriek in pain, and yet despite this, Gears of War managed to pass through the OFLC with an MA 15+ rating.
The very last paragraph of explanation in the ruling notes that Soldier of Fortune: Pay Back features a violence setting option that reduces blood and dismemberment in the game. The banning of this title only further highlights the current lack of an Australian R18+ rating for video games, an issue yet to be solved despite much lobbying from both gamers and game publishers. To read the full ruling document from the OFLC click here.
Here at GameSpot AU we get some pretty spiffy promotional gear from publishers and distributors. Up until yesterday it had been a while since we got something cool and original--but enter Buzz! The Hollywood Quiz.
As you can see, the tin is shaped like it's designed to fit an old-school 70mm film reel.
When we cracked it open, we found a press disc, copy of the game, an envelope (under the portrait), and a black and white portrait of Buzz.
Here's a picture of inside the tin without the portrait covering anything. What's in the envelope? Money? Jewels? Money made out of Jewels?
Sadly no only a Buzz! promo booklet.
Yesterday, Sydney-based developer Nnooo (pronounced No!) announced their first game called Pop. The title is being developed for the Nintendo Wii and will be distributed via WiiWare, Nintendo's development and distribution platform for user-generated content. Pop can be played alone or with up to four friends in the multiplayer mode. The aim is to burst as many bubbles as you can, while also grabbing power-ups and linking chains. The game also supports global leader boards. Think along the lines of Fantavision, but mentally replace fireworks with bubbles.
Nnooo has been working on the game since April this year, just before WiiWare was announced. Although there's no official release date for Pop, GameSpot AU has been informed by Nnooo that ultimately the game will come out when Nintendo are ready to publish it. Keep checking GameSpot AU for more details as they become available.
On the weekend, GameSpot AU attended the Sydney stop of the Supanova Pop Culture Expo, which was held at the Olympic Park in Homebush. Aside from the many vendors and stalls, the main spectacle at the show were the die-hard cosplay fans. Check out some of the pics below of the best cosplayers we saw.
Agent 47 from the Hitman series was there to promote his new movie and to strangle anyone who looked at him funny.
There were a few Boba Fetts strolling around the convention floor.
Mario took time out of his busy development schedule for Super Mario Galaxy to make an appearance. We don't ever remember Mario wearing a backpack though...
Courtesy of Ubisoft, gamers and anime fans were given the chance to play Naruto: Rise of a Ninja before its release later this month.
One guy dressed up as Naked Snake from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, complete with pistol and CQC knife.
Sonic was strutting his stuff at the EB Games booth promoting his new game Sonic and Mario at the Olympic Games.
Who ever would have guess it was a girl under the helmet? Maybe it was the tummy ring that gave it away.
The Terminator complete with grenade launcher and of plenty ammunition patrolled the floor looking for John Connor.
This guy had gone to considerable lengths to make his costume look authentic. Not only was he wearing a cool gas mask but he even has Umbrella patches on his arm and an ID tag!
Just to give you an idea of how big it was, here is a picture that covers about three quarters of the show room floor.
THQ's WWE SmackDown! vs RAW game series have been popular sellers down under, with the 2008 version due for release on the majority of platforms in November this year. GameSpot AU recently got the chance to speak to one of the game's featured wrestlers--WWE diva Torrie Wilson--and asked her about her involvement in the title, what it feels like to be a digital brawler.
Many of you will probably know Aussie Krystal Forscutt from Big Brother several years back, as well as her numerous appearances in men's magazines across the land. Forscutt added another string to her bow earlier this year when it was announced that she would appear as one of only two models in EA's Need for Speed ProStreet . Forscutt is the first non-sports Aussie to get the digital treatment in an EA game.
GameSpot AU chatted with Forscutt earlier this week to talk about her experiences with Need for Speed ProStreet, her driving skills both in game and on the road, and much more. Check out the video below. Need for Speed ProStreet comes out on most platforms this November.
During GameSpot AU's recent visit to Japan for the Tokyo Games Show, we chatted with Auran founder Graham Edelsten about the upcoming launch of Fury, the importance of the Asian market to Aussie develoeprs, and much more. Enjoy!
Rock Band for Christmas down under? We all hoped, some prayed, but it wasn't to be. Now the Aussies may not be the only ones disappointed come December 25th when the Jolly old bugger rappels his way down chimneys like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible to deliver a sack laden with games for good little boys and girls.
Rumour is beginning to circulate that even those lucky North Americans scheduled to bash out their favourite tracks on drum kits across the nation this Christmas morning may have to wait a little longer. The speculation gives further credence to our story back in August, in which RedOctane co-founder and CEO Charles Huang predicted that multiple territories may be left out in the cold due to the massive undertaking of manufacturing so many peripherals in such a short period of time. Now there's word that unless gamers pony up for the entire Rock Band Bundle, they may have to wait until February '08 to get hold of gear.
EB North America has already changed the pre-release date on their website for the standalone microphone, drum kit and wireless Fender guitar controllers to February on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms. Amazon has followed suit, but with the slightly more optimistic ship date of January 31, 2008.
Ploy to sell more Rock Band bundles, or did they simply undershoot the order?
Ubisoft today announced a brand new competition for would-be musicians and anyone who that carry a stylus or a note. The contest lets Jam Sessions owners battle for the chance to play the virtual six-string on YouTube's front page, as well as a guest performance on FUSE TV.
All you need to do is record yourself performing an original song on the DS game, and chuck it up on the specially created competition page on YouTube. Ubisoft isn't making it too easy though--as well as creating and performing an original track, you'll need to include lyrics and vocals for the song. The YouTube community will decide the best two, with the winners being flown to New York to appear live on FUSE TV. Entries are available for group submissions, but only one person per "band" is eligible to appear for the event. We're sure plenty of "creative differences" will arise when it comes time to decide on a winner. Entries and competition details can be found here.
The bad news is, while Jam Sessions for the DS is available right now down under, unfortunately the competition is only open to US residents. No word from Ubisoft Australia on whether or not the compeition will be made available here for Aussies to compete.
Sony Computer Entertainment Australia today officially announced the soon-to-be-released SingStar R&B, the latest installment in the hit music/rhythm singing genre for the Playstation 2.
The announcement of SingStar R&B takes the game count to 11, and gives wannabe divas and "divo" (that's bloke singers) the chance to strut their stuff with mic in hand to R&B pop songs such as Anastacia's "I'm Outta Love", and Destiny's Child "Bootylicious", alongside genre-defining acts like Diana Ross & the Supremes. The 30-track game is scheduled to hit shelves on October 25th.
The full tracklist is as follows:
- Amerie – "1 Thing"
- Amy Winehouse – "Back To Black"
- Anastacia – "I'm Outta Love"
- Beverley Knight – "Come As You Are"
- Black Eyed Peas – "Pump It"
- Chris Brown – "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)"
- Christina Milian – "AM 2 PM"
- Corinne Bailey Rae – "I'd Liked To"
- Destiny's Child – "Bootylicious"
- Diana Ross & The Supremes – "Baby Love"
- DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince – "Summertime"
- Edwin Starr – "WAR"
- En Vogue – "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)"
- The Four Tops – "Can't Help Myself"
- Gwen Stefani – "Hollerback Girl"
- Inner City – "Good Life"
- Jamelia – "Thank You"
- Jamiroquai – "Alright"
- Luther Vandross – "Never To Much"
- Mark Ronson feat. Daniel Merriweather – "Stop Me"
- Martha Reeve & The Vandellas – "Dancing In The Street"
- Marvin Gaye & Tammii Tarrelle – "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
- OutKast – "Idlewind Blue (Don't Chu Worru 'Bout Me)"
- Pussycat Dolls – "Buttons"
- Rihanna – "We Ride"
- Salt N Pepa – "Push It"
- Sugababes – "Ugly"
- The 411 – "Dumb"
- Whitney Houston – "Your Love Is My Love"
- Womack & Womack - "Teardrops"
The highly-anticipated action title Heavenly Sword, which is exclusive to the PlayStation 3 platform, is out on shelves and receiving plenty of well-earned praise. So what's next for developer Ninja Theory? We caught up with studio co-founder Nina Kristensen to ask her a few questions about women in games development, female protagonists, and the future of the Heavenly Sword brand.
Yesterday we took a trip out to the Rockstar Games office in Sydney to get some hands-on time with upcoming fun, but a mouthful to say title: Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis (RGPTT). Astute members of the audience will notice that this isn't a new title, rather Rockstar released the game last year in North America and Australia to a warm reception. Rockstar recently announced that RGPTT--previously only available on Microsoft's Xbox 360 console--would soon be getting a little brother in the form of a port to the Nintendo Wii. Call us crazy but we're surprised the Wii version of the game wasn't one of the first to get a run. Its mix of fun gameplay, casual audience learning curve, and free-flow Wiimote controller usage makes it the ideal candidate--and much more authentic to the sport than holding a gamepad. That said, after playing the Wii version, we can see why they may have wanted to spend extra development time rather than rush it out the door only to face comparison with the hugely popular--and free--Wii Sports game that ships with the hardware.
Fellow GameSpot editor Brian Ekberg wrote an extensive preview after his time with the title, and we're happy to report that nothing major has changed in the time since Leipzig.
Our session consisted of a short demo by the Rockstar team before they let us get our grubby little mitts on the Wiimotes. The game looks about on par with the Xbox 360 version if not a little scaled for the maximum resolution 480p Wii to handle. Character facial animations and movement were just as fluid as the original, although realistically once the game starts up you won't have time to concentrate on anything but the ball as it leaps across the net towards your opponent's throat.
Much the same as Wii Sports tennis swinging the movement of the Wiimote will determine the direction, speed, and your shot. It's all in the snap of the wrist, so you won't need to flail wildly unless you want a workout. This becomes particularly important when you're facing an evenly matched foe and rallies can quickly run to 100 shots apiece. Table Tennis is not best known as a sport won by attrition.
We played our first match using the everyone-friendly "standard" controller type which only uses the Wiimote. Here you'll just need to swing your wrist nice and early to wind up a shot. First-timers will enjoy returning shots with no hassles. Serving is as simple as pressing the A button to enter the service mode, tossing the ball up with one flick, and a second movement launches the ball when it's in the power zone you want. Pressing either left or right on the D-pad gives your shots spin in the appropriate direction, with the up and down buttons used to apply top and backspin on the ball and make it dip or zip as required. Angled presses on the D-pad buttons produce a combined effect, giving you deadly curving topspin or cutting dipping backspin shots. It's basic, but it gets the job done and it's extremely accessible, consider this the party mode.
"Sharp Shooter" is the second controller profile and introduces the player to the nunchuck attachment. In this mode you'll use the nunchuck's analogue stick to control your shot's direction--the shot itself is still determined by the Wiimote swing movement. Designed for intermediate users who have their head around the gameplay mechanics but want a little more fine control over the ball, this one is for you, and our pick for more advanced, but fun play.
The third and final control scheme "Control Freak" is as advanced as it gets in RGPTT and lets you use the analogue stick on the nunchuck to control your player. After mastering the first two modes, this one can still be a bit daunting. We found that while moving your player around the table, preparing the desired spin, and juggling the power-up focus mode you always seem to forget to do something, like say for example, swing your arm to return the ball. This is definitely the advanced control system and while you'll master it over time, it can be a bit much for newcomers.
After spending time with the title, it looks to be shaping up nicely for its impending October Australian release. We're looking forward to getting even more intimate with the control system, particularly wrapping our head around Control Freak. With some more practice Wii Sports tennis may soon need to take a backseat at the next office party for this timeless sport revisited.
Nintendo have just announced that the upcoming Big Brain Academy for the Wii will be bundled with a Wii remote down under, and will go for the (relatively) cheap price of A$79.95.
Not that you'll be forced to buy the extra remote when the game ships on November 8. Big Brain Academy will also ship as a standalone game, and will retail for A$69.95.
Leadership tensions with the Federal Coalition reached crisis point overnight, with Australian Prime Minister John Howard categorically ruling out Treasurer Peter Costello as the obvious succesor to the top job. Howard has instead endorsed a relatively new face in his cabinet--Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN-117--as the man most likely to become Prime Minister when Howard retires sometime in his next term should the Coalition win the upcoming election.
Howard and Master Chief discussing Australia's carbon emissions policy.
OK, so the above may not actually be true, but Howard did meet up with Master Chief earlier this week. The Prime Minister had "won" a new Xbox 360 through the Footy Show "That's Gold" competition (that's the NSW Footy Show), and decided to donate the prize to the St Alban's Community Centre in Epping, NSW. Microsoft was on hand to take some snaps of the handover, and even brought along their star character for a photo opportunity.
The Prime Minister also took the time out while at the community centre to try Halo 3 on for himself. GameSpot AU asked the Prime Minister's office for further details--including what level he was playing at and what Howard's gamertag is, but had not received a response as of the time of publication.
Howard woos young voters through the power of the headshot.