NHL 13

September 30, 2012

Ice hockey games have always confused me. I understand the worldwide desire for a FIFA game, and even a gridiron game for those crazy Americans and their crazy sports, but I’ve always wondered whether the maple syrup loving northerners really need an annual triple-A title to satiate their virtual puck-flicking hunger. There’s only ever been one Gaelic football game, after all. But somehow, despite having never watched a game in my life, I find myself looking forward to the release of every years’ NHL installment. The large roster of teams from all over the world, out of place fighting mechanism, and silly Canadian accents have a strange sort of appeal, however before NHL 13, the franchise has seemed like more of an arcade sports game than a serious attempt at a realistic ice hockey simulation. This year, that changes.

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Torchlight II

September 28, 2012

Isometric click ‘em up is a genre that has been dominated by one franchise for the last fifteen years. Diablo. Since the release of the first title in that series back in 1996, the idea of running around clicking on things to make them explode into gibs has been synonymous with a game cover featuring an angry looking red thing glaring out at you. But as the world over waited for Diablo III, their desire to see things explode upon click sat, insatiated, until Torchlight popped its curious head around the corner. Torchlight, a game that could have so easily been lambasted as a direct clone of Diablo and yet was celebrated by critics and fans alike. It satisfied the desires of every gamer who’d moaned that they’d never see the release of Diablo III, perfecting the click and loot formula while retaining a sense of whimsy and humour that Diablo lacked. The introduction of the “pet” mechanic was seen as a revolution to the genre. What it didn’t have, however, was multiplayer.

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September 20, 2012

The following article is not a game review, but a public service announcement. Gateways is, hands down, the single most brain-meltingly difficult game that I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. I thought I’d played some pretty tricky ones in the past, but this latest title from Adventures of Shuggy developer Smudged Cat Games goes above and beyond what most people, myself included, would consider a “hard game”. Should you attempt to play Gateways, your brain will end up leaking from your nostrils into a soggy pile of neural mush, while you tear your hair out and scratch the skin off your face with your stumpy fingertips (you’ve already chewed through your nails). Don’t get me mixed up, Gateways isn’t hard in the same sense as the Mega Man series, in which the difficulty lies in carefully timed jumps and acrobatic D-pad control – rather, it’s a puzzler at heart, with a Metroid-esque overall feel to give you continuity between the puzzles, as well as a justifiable reason to present you with powerups. And it’s got portals.

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EB Expo 2012 guests

September 15, 2012

Dear readers, today I bring you another update from the world of I’m-so-excited-I-just-can’t-hide-it. Here’s a bit of information on who is gracing the stage during the EB Live segment of the Expo – a more traditional convention setup, with presentations on a big stage and people sitting below, mostly tweeting about what’s happening on stage.

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Madden NFL 13

September 13, 2012

I consider myself a bit of a sports fan. No matter the game, I enjoy watching one person/group of people attempt to score more goals/tries/points than the other person/group of people. That is, I enjoy it until the sport becomes so confusing and full of rules that I honestly have no idea what in the world is going on. Enter American football, or gridiron as it is more commonly known down under. Despite having played Madden games fairly regularly for over a decade, I still have little to no understanding about the ins and outs of the stop-start sport our trans-Pacific neighbours seem to be so keen on. Madden NFL 13, which seems like the fifteen thousandth instalment in the annually released Madden NFL franchise, intends to maintain my limited knowledge of the sport while ensuring that I never feel all that confident in my playmaking abilities while calling the shots.

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD

September 10, 2012

Breathing new life into an old franchise is never an easy task for a developer. Breathing new life into a franchise long considered dead and buried is an even harder task for a developer. Attempting to breathe new life into an old, beloved franchise that has been largely ignored for the better part of the decade – a franchise that has hit rock bottom by packaging a ridiculous plastic skateboard peripheral with its latest game – is surely the hardest task that any developer could hope to accomplish. The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series is one that carries a huge amount of love and nostalgia for gamers, due largely to its sharp controls, kick-ass soundtrack, customisation options, and ability to poke fun at itself. However, with the release of Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland in 2005, public affection for the series began slipping dramatically – the most recent title, Tony Hawk: Shred, managed to sell a measly 3,000 copies in its first week of sales in the United States.

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The Walking Dead: Episode 3

September 6, 2012

Spoilers for episodes 1 and 2 follow.

A New Day was good. Starved for Help was excellent. But it’s the latest entry in Telltale’s adaptation of the popular graphic novel series The Walking Dead, Episode 3: Long Road Ahead, that really cements this episodic adventure game as the best zombie game ever made. Once again, I’m not going to go into detail about the mechanics or gameplay or anything, as I’ve talked about that in my review of episode 1. Episode 3 sees the series curve more towards that of a point-and-click adventure than an interactive drama, with an increased amount of redundant, clichéd puzzles that frustrated me in the other episodes. On the other hand, if you thought Starved for Help was a horribly accurate representation of the degradation of human behaviour in the wake of… well, a zombie apocalypse, then prepare to be shocked by Long Road Ahead. Never before has a video game been so bleak.

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Game list for EB Games Expo 2012

September 5, 2012

In a recent press release from the organisers, the EB Games Expo 2012 in Sydney has announced the second official lineup of games that will be playable by all guests. You’ve already seen my own take on the best looking games, but here’s the whole list so you can decide what you’ll head to first:

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EB Games Expo 2012 Preview

September 1, 2012

Europe has Gamescom, Japan has the TGS, and our trans-Pacific friends have E3. But here, in this sparse land we call Australia, there seems to be a severe shortage of dedicated video game conventions. This year, however (well, last year too, but it was at the Gold Coast so it doesn’t count), everyone’s favourite video game retailer EB Games is hosting their own expo, the creatively titled EB Games Expo. I’m sure you’ve all heard about this – after all, while it might be lacking the sorts of important announcements we might get from international conventions, the EB Games Expo 2012 will present to us thumb-twiddlers over 25,000 square metres of floor space, comprised primarily of upcoming games, accessories, and all-important free swag. And let’s not forget the e-sports, cosplay competitions, pop culture booths, and area focussing on Australian-grown video games.

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