Gaming Steve

March 2005 Archives

March 31, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 6 - 03.31.2005

Sony PSPAnother week, another podcast. Here's the latest and greatest where I cover:

  • Sony gets dual shocked.
  • PSP not a sellout?
  • Clinton jumps on the violent videogames bandwagon.
  • GameTalk: So what's up with the PS3, Xbox2, and Revolution?
  • SporeTalk: New weekly feature talking about Will Wright's upcoming Spore.
  • In-depth review of the PSP.
  • “Name That Game!” contest winner from last week and a new clip.
  • Plus some more random thoughts.
Get the podcast from this page (76 minutes): Gaming Steve Episode 6.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 6:30 PM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

Advance Wars DS Announced

Nintendo announced today that its very popular Advance Wars series of turn-based strategy games is headed to the Nintendo DS and is set for a June 23 release in Japan. The game is being developed by Intelligent Systems who made the original Advanced War games as well as the excellent Paper Mario and Fire Emblem games. Advanced Wars DS is slated to hit the U.S. on October 9.

Little is known about the game at this time but it will boost all-new missions, several new CO characters, and a new battle system where players use bottom touch screen to issue orders to their ground forces while the top screen is used to command their air forces. Multiplayer battles will employ the handheld's wireless connectivity feature, although it's not yet clear how many players will be able to participate in a single battle.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 5:30 PM | Posted to DS |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 30, 2005

Heroes of Might and Magic V Announced

Might and Magic VUbisoft declares the revival of 3DO's Heroes of Might and Magic franchise with the announcement of Heroes of Might and Magic V, Nival Interactive's continuation of the turn-based arm of the series.

This news isn't 100% new as the game was first revealed a few weeks ago when Ubisoft announced their 2005/2006 lineup. But now you can view the the first screenshots on the Might and Magic Website.

Being one of my favorite turn-based strategy games of all time this is welcome news, especially with the passing of 3DO and the uncertainty of the franchise.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 4:30 PM | Posted to PC |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 28, 2005

EGM Reveals New Jak, Sly and Ratchet Sequels

Ratchet & ClankIt appears EGM has revealed in this month’s issue the next installation in Sony’s Sly Raccoon, Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank game series. Sly Raccoon is no big surprise, as is Ratchet & Clank, but I thought there weren’t supposed to be any more Jak & Daxter sequels? In addition to the new games they appear to be going in some strange new directions with Ratchet & Clank going under the name “Ratchet: Deadlocked” and Jak & Daxter named “Jak X”.

Ratchet: Deadlocked will be developed by Insomniac and from the pictures in the magazine Clank is nowhere to be seen. This title will be more squad based with Ratchet sporting new Master Chief battle suit-type armor, more firearms and performing missions with various new characters in tow. This title will also feature multiplayer with the possibility to play single-player missions with friends of the Internet.

Jak X is turning into a full-on racing game following the events of Jak III. You will need to save the world from poisoning and the only way to obtain the cure to race the Krew (of course). The environment will be a free non-linear Grand Theft Auto-type environment with your goal to complete various races including time trials, deathmatch races, time box and so on. You will be able to modify your ride with a variety of short and long-range guns, missiles, repair kits, and so forth. There will be full online multiplayer action as well as split-screen multiplayer.

No word on how the new Sly will play, but I would imagine with would be similar to past installments. Hopefully the new games will build on the greatness of the past games and won’t be just a marketing gimmick. You should be able to find the full previews in the new issue of EGM.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 6:00 PM | Posted to PlayStation 2 |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 26, 2005

Flagship's Hellgate: London

HellgateSo it appears to be big news that the May issue of PC Gamer has a cover article on Hellgate: London, the new game in development at Flagship Studios (the ex-Blizzard designers and executives including Bill Roper). I'm surprised this has become such a big news topic as I got my copy of PC Gamer earlier in the week.

Oh well, here is the gist of the article (there are some spoilers):

  • The game plays from a FPS perspective but many Diablo-style play elements -- paper doll inventory, random level design, tons of unique loot, different classes, single-player and multi-player play options.
  • It is set five years after a war against demons has already been lost. London is depicted as a burnt out shell of itself and the demons are in the process of "hellaforming" earth to make it more suitable for their kind. Only a handful of humans have survived.
  • The game is expected to ship in 2006, will appear on PCs and Macs, and will be published by Namco.
  • Although it looks like a FPS it's actually an RPG since it "is not a twitch-based experience". Also because combat is entirely stat based and not twitch-based. Hits, misses, and damage will depend on the stats of your character and their weapons, and ranged weapons are referred to as "spell delivery systems".
  • The game will be played about half below ground, the other half topside. London was primarily chosen as the setting because it has many "natural dungeons" such as subways and aqueducts and authentic London locations will appear in the game.
  • Only one character class was revealed, the knight-like Templars. They were said to be the most effective force against the demons during the war (but yet they were still defeated).
  • Character customization exists but details were not revealed.
  • A third person view will probably exist, for melee fighting and viewing your character (there will be a "vanity mode" so you can view your character and his cool loot).
  • Level layouts will be randomly generated (so how will they get the authentic London locations into the levels?). There will be random quests and branching paths, all leading to tons of replay value.
  • Quests will be designed to push the story forward, with a minimum of FedEx style missions.
  • Most weapons, but not all, will be futuristic with destroyed demons dropping many items and weapons. All weapons will possess unique stats, even those that are essentially identical (such as two Peacemaker Pistols). Weapons will have slots where relics can be affixed that add additional damage (like socketed weapons and gems in Diablo). There's also the possibility of the equivalent of a Horadic Cube.
  • Some specific weapons include the Harp weapon, which temporarily stuns monsters; the Vulcan Bolter, which shoots fireballs; the Tempest Gun, which fires a round of ball lightning; the Zeus Rifle, which fires an electrical attack that can arc between multiple enemies; and the Peacemaker Pistol, which fires round that ricochets off walls.
  • PC Gamer is guessing there will be a total of 50 levels within the game, many if not all of them randomly generated.
  • Leveling up provides skill points that can be spent in three categories: offensive, passive auras, and combo moves. The skill system is still in development, but one possibility being considered is the inclusion of sub-classes.
  • Multiplayer will exist and support 16 to 32 players. Co-op gameplay will be emphasized, but deathmatch is a possibility, and you will not be able to play as a demon.
  • NPC's will join with your character form time to time, apparently only on a temporary basis, although they may reappear further along in the game.
  • PC Gamer speculated that the series will continue in new locations throughout the world, such as Las Vegas and Rome.

Wow, it sounds an awful like a 3D FPS of Diablo, doesn't it?

Posted by Gaming Steve at 5:00 PM | Posted to PC | Preview |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 25, 2005

Halo 2 Multiplayer Madness

Master ChiefPerhaps one of the worst-kept secrets was finally announced this week. Bungie has announced an expansion pack for Halo 2 to be released in June. The pack will cost $19.99 and feature nine new multiplayer maps for Xbox Live. But what strikes me as a bit odd is the way they are releasing the maps. It appears that the maps will cost you money if you buy them right away, but if you have the patience to wait a few months you can get the maps for free. Eh?

Here is what Bungie has to say from their web site:

  • We're releasing a total of nine new multiplayer maps.
  • All nine maps will eventually be available as Live downloads and as a normal boxed game disc - available at retail for $19.99 (US).
  • The release on Live will be staggered, some paid, some free!
  • The first two maps are free and coming in a few short weeks. (late April)
  • The same day the 2 free maps are released, 2 additional maps will be available for purchase.
  • The remaining 5 maps will be made available as a paid download on the same day the retail package goes on sale.
  • The retail disc will contain extras, including a documentary, a cool project from our cinematic and animation team, every Halo 2 update released so far and possily one or two other little treats.
  • By late summer, ALL the maps will be available for free.

Sounds like Microsoft can't wait to try out those new "micro payments" they were talking about at the GDC a few weeks ago. Oh goodie, I can't wait to pay for new content for all my Xbox games!

Check out the info direct from Bungie and Xbox.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 6:00 PM | Posted to Xbox |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 24, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 5 - 03.24.2005

World of WarcraftHey all, if you downloaded the podcast which was up for the first few hours it was missing the sound effect for the "Name That Game!" contest. This has been fixed and the new podcast has the sound effect. Now back to the show!

Another crazy week, another crazy podcast. Here's the latest and greatest where I cover:

  • The future of the web site.
  • A bit of Spore stuff.
  • The PSP launch.
  • Why are Xboxes catching on fire?
  • EA gets pounded.
  • GameTalk: Should game designers unionize?
  • Quicktake on the new God of War for PS2.
  • In-depth review of World of Warcraft for the PC.
  • “Name That Game!” contest winners from last week, a new clip, and format for this week.
  • Interview preview.
  • Plus more of my random thoughts.
Get the podcast from this page: Gaming Steve Episode 5.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 4:30 PM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 23, 2005

Where can I get a PSP? Help!

PSPSo you didn't pre-order a PSP, did you? And now you regret it big time? Well I kept my Sunday newspaper fliers to help you out! Give some of these places a try tomorrow.

First note that all stores are carrying the "PSP Bundle" which includes: The PSP (duh), a 32MB Memory Stick Duo, headphones with remote control, a battery pack, AC adapter, soft case, cleaning cloth, a UMD disc with some demos, and a free copy of Spider-Man 2 in UMD format.

EB Games is having several "midnight sales" throughout the country, so why are you reading this? Get on line! They also have online Bundles ranging from $399.95 to $429.95.

You can also check out GameStop, but if you didn't pre-order one then you might be out of luck. You can also get an online Bundle, they range from $379.96 to $520.93.

Best Buy looks like a good place to check out as they are opening their doors early tomorrow at 8:01 am. The Standard Bundle will go for $249.99, which also includes a PSP Buyer's Guide (whatever that is). And the game deals are excellent; if you buy 2 games you get a $10 Gift Card, buy 3 and get a $20 Gift Card. Also to note the 128mb Memory Stick Duo is $49.99 here. However in tiny type on the bottom of the page it says a minimum of 40 PSPs per store ... better hope they have more where you are!

Target has the Bundle for $249.99. The only deal here is that the SanDisk 256mb Memory Stick is only $44.99.

Comp USA will also be selling the PSP and has it for $249.99. The great deal is that you get 10% off all PSP games.

Circuit City has included Twisted Metal into the Bundle and priced it at $289.98. Since that game costs $40 this is no deal.

Toys R Us is just offering nothing special, just the PSP and games. Price: $249.99.

Wal-Mart has big Bundles ranging from $359.47 to $498.82. You can check them out to see if anything interests you.

Good luck to all you PSP hunters ... you're going to need it.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 9:30 PM | Posted to PlayStation 2 |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

Jade Empire Web Site Live

Jade EmpireBioware announced that the official Web site for Jade Empire is now live and full of new information. Featured on the site are several movies of the game's fighting styles, character profiles, and game information.

The Jade Empire Web site details the game's features, offers downloadable wallpapers, and shows movie clips of the game in action. Gamers can also get a peek at several of the game's fighting styles through Flash movies.

With a little more than three weeks before the release (it comes out on April 14th) expect the Bioware/Microsoft PR machine to gear up big time for this game. After all, how often does Bioware release a new game? Take a peak at the site.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 6:00 PM | Posted to PC |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

PlayStation 3 Image?

PS3?I would say that nearly all of these "images" are totally bogus but this one just seems like it might be the real deal. And if these images are fake then I must say ... "they're spectacular!" (bonus points to those who get this TV show reference.)

What's interesting if this is a real deal is the various inputs, including DVD, two memory card slots, and a UMD slot (big surprise). Take a look and tell me what you think!

Update: It was confirmed that this photo is a fake. Shame really (but it was a bit ugly), and it just goes to show how starved people are for any information at all about the PS3!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 4:40 PM | Posted to PlayStation 3 |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 22, 2005

Matrix Online? Anyone?

Matrix OnlineRemember back when The Matrix first came out and it blew you away? You couldn’t get enough of the cool fight scenes, the cool clothes, the awesome concept … everything was just so freaking cool. And then remember how excited you were when you heard they were going to shoot not just one but two sequels back-to-back? More cool fight scenes, more “worlds within worlds” concepts, more of everything which made The Matrix so damn cool?

And then the hype started … and then it got out of hand … and then it got way out of hand … and then it got so out of hand that made you hate The Matrix and everything related to The Matrix? And then you saw the movies ... and they sure didn't help any.

I’m just mentioning this because The Matrix Online comes out today. Wow, remember when you used to care about this game? So … when does God of War come out again?

Posted by Gaming Steve at 3:30 PM | Posted to PC |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 21, 2005

Sony to Dominate Gaming This Week

God of WarWell this looks like it’s going to be a busy gaming week. With God of War coming out Wednesday and the PSP on Thursday you better call in sick because that’s a whole lot ‘o gaming. So far God of War has been getting nothing but raves – plus the game is insanely violent and contains actual female nudity. I wonder if it’s going to sell well?

However even with the gruesome violence in this game the only reason this game might not take down GTA as the “most violent game out there” is because God of War takes place in a mythical ancient Greece. So instead of killing cops and "ladies of the night" you’re killing demons and dragons and the like. Otherwise I’m sure this game would go down as the most violent game ever and get countless replays on the evening news. Personally I can’t wait to get my hands on it as not only does the game play great (from what I’ve played so far) but the graphics will make you wonder if you accidentally turned on your Xbox by mistake.

Looks like Sony is going to have a good week.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 5:00 PM | Posted to PlayStation 2 |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 17, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 4 - 03.17.2005

Spore CreaturesWow, what a week! Just a few days ago this site didn't even exist. Then I go to GDC, record some thoughts, talk about Will Wright's Spore and the site explodes. Now reaching close to 25,000 visitors since Monday I made sure to get the new podcast up nice and fast where I talk about -- what else -- Spore, and answer the dozen or so questions I got over the week. So without further ado, here is the latest podcast of Gaming Steve:

In this show I personally thank everyone who has come to the site and given me their support and great comments. In the News segment I talk about the PSP and its big launch next week. In Gametalk I answer about a dozen different questions I got over the week about Spore. So once again I talk about Spore in extreme detail and try to answer all the various questions I got over the week. Next, I introduce the "Name That Game!" weekly contest where I play three different tunes for you to try and identify. Be the first one to tell me what they are and win a $20 gift certificate to Amazon!

In Reviews I take on Resident Evil 4 for the GameCube. Sure it's a great game, but just how great is it? And what makes this Resident Evil so different from those in the past? And finally I talk a bit about the upcoming Jade Empire for the Xbox and give you some inside dirt about the game.

Also make sure to check out the new Spore Forum.

Get the podcast from this page: Gaming Steve Episode 4.

Enter the "Name That Game!" contest on this board.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 7:00 PM | Posted to Podcast | Review | Spore |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 16, 2005

Added New Forum Section

Wow, thanks for all the interest in Spore and my podcasts! Since I launched this site all of a week ago over 50,000 people have visited the site and I'm getting lots of questions! So rather than trying to answer all my emails I instead created a new forum section to try to corral all of the various inquires, including a forum just for Spore.

You can get to the forum from the sidebars or you can link here as well: Jump to the Forums

You can also go directly to the crazy-popular Spore forum as well (over 14,000 posts 6 months after the original post).

Posted by Gaming Steve at 3:00 AM | Posted to Spore | Stuff |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 14, 2005

Pictures of Will Wright's Spore!

Well I'm not sure how long these will be able to last on here before EA legal comes to take them down. I got several new pictures since yesterday including city combat, making a Care Bear, the stellar nursery stage and a few others. Keep checking back for new pictures and information as I get it.

Oh yes, for those of you interested the demo was running on a PC computer. However I don't see why this game couldn't run on a console or portable gaming device (as long as it could connect to the Internet to download new items).

Remember if you want to hear my entire preview you can download my podcast here: Gaming Steve at the GDC Day 3.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

This is during the early stage of the game. Notice the light yellow object with blue fins on the left side of the screen, that is "you" in this stage. The green objects and the brown objects will attack you if you're not careful.

This is your creature during the water stage. At this stage he has two fins and a tailfin. In time he will evolve and have three legs and a "tailhand".

This is the heart and meat of the game, the character editor. Notice the menus on the left side of the screen, this is where you can add and remove new items to your creature. The menus look and work very similar to those found in The Sims 2. Your creature itself is fully adjustable; notice the bones in the chest. Those can be changed and the creature dynamics (walking speed, animation, texturing, etc.) will automatically change to adapt to your new creature design.

These are all creatures which were creating within the game. Notice the huge variety ... amazing.

Oh yeah, and here is a carnivorous Care Bear created by Will. The creatures during the design stage were fully interactive and could be made to walk around the screen in order to "test them out".

Once you get some legs you can go onto land the game changes locations. The green creature is "you" and the little brownish creature is lunch!

Two of Will's creatures mating (with Barry White-type music playing in the background).

This is during the "tools" part of the game, where you have to learn how to create a society. Notice the little spears in their tail/hand and the two creatures playing the drum.

After you get tools and advance enough you can build large cities. All the items in the city are player created using the same dynamic interface as the creature creation. At this stage of the game it becomes sort of a hybrid RTS/SimCity.

Right next door to Will's fun city was this computer controlled city. Will pointed out that this city not only had completely different architecture but their culture and society were different as well.

And here is that industrial city attacking Will's city. All the combat vehicles are customizable as well and utilize the same interface as the creature creator.

Will shows off various vehicles created by players within the game. The vehicles on the top of the screen are from Will's city and the two on the bottom are from the industrial city.

Once you get the UFO technology you can start to explore the solar system. This is what your planet looks like from high orbit. Your city is in the lower left corner and the industrial city is in the center.

Zoom up a bit farther and you can explore the entire solar system. The second planet is the home planet while the others were all created by other players or the computer. Notice the cool asteroid belt as well.

This is an barren world in your solar system. If you notice on the world there is a tiny little red dot ... this is where the creature dropped onto this planet (with no atmosphere) exploded.

Eventually you get an interstellar drive for your UFO and you can explore your corner of the galaxy. The yellow sun with the box around it is where we just came from. By moving your mouse over the other stars you can listen to radio static and try to make contact with another civilization. You also have to watch out black holes, white dwarfs and other potential deadly space phenomena.

And this is as far as we got in the demo. The small yellow box in the lower part of the solar system is your home planet. Notice the various galaxies in the background? I'm not sure if you can explore those as well, but I wouldn't be surprised!

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:30 PM | Posted to PC | Spore |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 11, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 3 - 03.11.2005

GDC_30.jpgToday was the third and final day of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) and today was the day of big announcements!

In this podcast I have an extensive, detailed preview of Will Wright’s new game Spore. My preview is almost an hour long and I go through painstaking detail of every screen, mouse-click, and item I saw during the Spore demo. In addition I’ll gladly answer any and all questions anyone might have, feel free to email me or post a comment and I'll respond.

I also cover a lecture on The Sims 2, find out how to get a free lunch at the GDC, check out some of the independent games featured at the conference, preview new games on the show floor, and talk about the worst presentation I have ever seen!

Get the podcast from here: Gaming Steve at the GDC Day 3.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Okay, so I didn't manage to get any pictures of Spore. But after getting yelled at twice I didn't want to get kicked out of the presentation (you couldn't take pictures during the presentation). So here is a nice picture of Will Wright instead, enjoy!

Hey lookie! Another picture of Will!

This is where the Independent Games Festival show off their stuff.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:30 PM | Comments (4) | Posted to Culture | Podcast | Spore |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 10, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 2 - 03.10.2005

GDC_20.jpgToday was day two of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) and I have yet more coverage.

Listen to my thoughts on the Bioware lecture and their preview of Jade Empire, the Nintendo keynote speech, leveling up in "ConfQuest" (the real-world massively multiplayer RPG I'm playing at the GDC), listening to Tim Schafer, Warren Spector, and Neil Young talk about interactive stories, my first roundtable, finding out why all the movies in Resident Evil 4 were done in real-time, and the big finish to "ConfQuest"!

Get the podcast here: Gaming Steve at the GDC Day 2.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

The banner from the super cool ConfQuest game.

The list of character classes from the ConfQuest game.

Raph Koster during one of his many speeches during the conference.

On the show floor Sony had a small presence this year with some PlayStation 2 and PSP games (as did Nintendo).

Ooh, the PSP, just a few more weeks until it's released here.

More PSP fun.

Now that is a lot of crazy GameBoy Advances.

Nintendo DS madness.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) | Posted to Culture | Podcast |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!

March 9, 2005

Gaming Steve Episode 1 - 03.09.2005

GDC_01.jpgToday was the first day of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) began and I try to cover all the madness. This is my 6th GDC and in this first podcast I talk about the differences from this year and past years.

I also cover "ConfQuest," the real-world massively multiplayer RPG I'm playing at the GDC, Microsoft's keynote (will they unveil Xbox 2?), the "Game Design Challenge" where Clint Hocking, Peter Molyneux, and Will Wright try to design a game based upon the life of Emily Dickinson, Peter Molyneux's new games, an interesting speech by Raph Koster, boozing it up on the Expo floor, the GDC Awards ceremony, and so much more.

Get the podcast here: Gaming Steve at the GDC Day 1.

You can also subscribe to the weekly podcast.

It might not look like much, but it's the entrance to the awesome GDC.

Before the big keynote speech by Microsoft.

J Allard from Microsoft talking about everything except Xbox 2.

A sample of the new Xbox interface which will work across all Xbox games.

An example of the Gamer Profile page for online play across all Xbox games.

An example of the online marketplace where you can buy -- using real money -- new items for your video game characters.

Clint Hocking, Peter Molyneux, and Will Wright before the Game Design Challenge: The Emily Dickinson License

Peter Molyneux and Will Wright chatting it up.

Okay, normally I wouldn't post each and every slide from a presentation, but Will Wright's presentation was so funny that these slides are worth the bandwidth.

Here Will shows the huge crossover between Emily Dickinson fans and GTA fans.

Will's solution to the problem was creating an intelligent agent with all of these properties.

The agent would come pre-installed on USB cards and automatically install itself onto your computer.

The "game" would involve the user interacting with Emily during their everyday computer use. Here Emily starts an IM conversation with Will.

Emily using l33t speak.

The Emily agent commenting on your web browsing.

Eventually this concept can be expanded to other agents.

Adam and Morgan from X-Play on the show floor.

And Kevin from The Screen Savers.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:30 PM | Posted to Culture | Podcast |  Add this story to  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!