Archive for April 9th, 2013

Nintendo’s Wii U developer problem

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Nintendo has a problem with getting third-party next-gen games for their Wii U console. Over the past few weeks, developers and publishers have one by one confirmed that this game or that will not be coming to the Wii U. Is it a crippling issue? Not yet, but let’s look at some of the things that have gone wrong.

Denial after denial after the break! Continue reading →

Has Kohan and Section 8 developer finally discovered personality?

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Timegate is a fantastic developer when it comes to the hard work of actual game design. Kohan was one of the boldest innovations in the history of RTS innovation and Section 8 was one of the cleverest Tribes variations I’ve played. But both games had a tough time creating any sense of identity, starting with Kohan’s weird word soup mythology (Give yourself ten Timegate fanboy points if you can tell me what a Kohan is and 20 Timegate fanboy points if you can tell me the difference between a gauri and a haroun!) and going up through Section 8’s generic space marines with their usual arsenal.

But based on the announcement trailer, if there’s one thing you can’t say about Minimum, Timegate’s newly announced shooter, it’s that it lacks personality.

Age of Empires II rises from the dead

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Microsoft’s unlikely high-definition remaster of Age of Kings II is available today on Steam. It’s an interesting historical relic, but some genres stand the test of time better than others. I’m not sure I’d ever choose to play this over more recent RTSs. In theory, I love that there are walls. In practice, walls are always a tough balance to strike. I don’t get the sense that Age II fussed much with striking that balance. I also love the relic victory condition, whereby your monks can set out to collect all the relics on the map and ensconce them in a monastery for 200 years. I was particularly delighted when the AI did this, which meant I had to go kick over his monastery. It’s nice to have a compelling reason to do that sort of thing.

But the interface is killing me. For instance, is there really no attack move? Lord knows, I complained bitterly about the lack of attack move in Age III during the time that it was cut. If I’d known it was a tradition, I might have been a little more understanding. And can I not shift queue certain orders in Age II? If it’s an option, I haven’t figured it out yet. Once my villagers are done building a lumber yard, they then stand around it instead of going to chop trees like I thought I told them to do. And I don’t miss having to replant farms one whit.

But what really kills it for me is the pacing. So little happens for so long. Modern RTSs have worked wonders at dropping you into important decisions early on (Starcraft II) or at least giving you some engaging busywork before the important decisions come along (Age of Empires III). If I wanted a drawn-out build up, I’d play a turn-based game! I love that Microsoft has made this game available again for hardcore retro RTS fans. But I’m afraid I’m not a hardcore retro RTS fan.

Halo 4 has microtransaction potential

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343 Industries Executive Producer Dan Ayoub told DigitalSpy that the team is looking at offering cosmetic microtransactions in Halo.

I think Halo certainly has the potiental for those kinds of things. We don’t have too much to talk about in terms of our plans down that line, but it’s certainly something… we’ve seen what the fans of Gears are enjoying, and if it’s something we think our community is going to enjoy, it’s something we’ll seriously talk about.

While the Halo series has sold map packs and cosmetic avatar items, they have not offered in-game microtransactions like the numerous weapon and character skins that Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment sell to players. Halo 4 currently has weapon skins as in-game unlockables.