Epsilon Dev Serellan and Operation Supply Drop Join Forces

A disabled-veteran-owned business, developer Serellan has donated 1,000 copies of their stealth-action tactical shooter EPSILON to Operation Supply Drop, with an additional copy of the game donated for each copy sold on Steam. EPSILON will be donated to deployed active duty servicemembers and disabled veterans in need of entertainment and cathartic activities abroad.



Iron Brigade

We recently acquired Iron Brigade, a World War I style tower defense-shooter hybrid with mechs and turrets, and a television-based enemy called the Monovision.  I spotted this game a long time back, when it was known as Trenched, because of the developer Double Fine who came up with this game as well as Costume Quest and Stacking during one fortnight of development.  A trademark dispute in Europe resulted in a name change, and a delay to the release: December last year on the Xbox, but only this month for the PC.. and another rather quiet release too.


Nexuiz – Dynamic Mutators

Nexuiz is an arena first person shooter, originally developed by Alientrap Software using a mod of the Quake Engine, but later rebuilt from the ground up using CryENGINE 3, to be published by THQ.

Dynamic Mutators allow players to change they way they play.. or the way the team plays, as Mutators come in five categories: everyone, your team, enemy team, yourself, and “WTF”.  With over 100 Mutators to choose from, there are over 1.7 million combinations available..

Nexuiz will be available on Xbox LIVE on the 29th February, with PlayStation 3 and PC versions to follow.

Firefall: Battleframe Trailer Challenge

Red 5 Studios are hosting a competition for their fans to create a trailer using unreleased footage of the game.

This is a chance for the fans to create introductions for the Assault, Medic, Recon and Engineer battleframes, along the lines of the Dreadnaught Introduction.

The team have provided clips for use in these trailers as well as instructions, information and rules here.

Prizes include a trip to Boston to join Red 5 at PAX East, an Alienware M14x Laptop, and a Firefall-branded Astro Gaming A40 Audio System.


Mass Effect 3 Demo Impressions

We got hold of an early access demo key to BioWare‘s Mass Effect 3, so instead of getting on with one of the many games I’m part-way through, I fired up the 360 to play.

I’ve not played the previous games in the series, although friends have; so I’ve heard plenty about the various companions in the games.. either for their fighting abilities or lack of, or for the romance options which I think are optional.  In fact, that was almost all I knew about the series, along with knowing about the dialogue choices that affect the storyline, and the ability to carry your character over from one game to the next.

I was surprised to see that players are given the option to choose the mode of the game: Action, Roleplaying or Story mode.

Action Mode means adjustable combat difficulty, and replaces dialogue options with cutscenes, whilst Story Mode enables character customisation and dialogue options during conversation.  Roleplaying mode allows you to customise your character, choose dialogue options and still adjust combat difficulty: this is how the previous games worked, and sounded like a good balance to me.

The next choice was what class to be.. which came down to the mix of combat, tech or biotics I wanted to use.  They all sounded interesting.. stealth, powerful close combat attacks, the ability to deploy combat drones.. but I picked Adept as the ability to fire micro singularities at my enemies sounded pretty awesome 🙂

After that, there were a few other choices for background, reputation and potential psychological issues.. whether you’re an orphan who manages to survive disasters while all around you die, or whether you’re an army kid prepared to risk yourself for your team mates and so on.. I suspect these choices come into play during the story, or influence your available dialogue options.

The first part of the demo sees Shepard being brought to the Defense Committee, who are worried as they have been receiving distress signals, and lost touch with colonies and so on.  Shepard says it’s the Reapers, but the Committee are still unsure, until the Reapers actually arrive on the scene..

The Reapers destroy the building we’re in, killing the Committee, and when we get outside it’s obvious they’re destroying the rest of the city too.

Impressive, massive machines.. 🙂

I followed the Admiral out of the ruined buildings and across rooftops, heading for a landing zone and pickup from the Normandy.

I’m not convinced by the constant aiming.. Shepard only lowered the gun when sprinting, so there was a point where I was running along aiming my empty gun at nothing in particular!  The controls felt great with just one odd bit: running with the A button, then melee with B.. I think that would make running and hitting a bit awkward.. but maybe melee combat only really comes up in closer quarters.  Playing as an Adept, I would probably be using the Singularity and then shooting the enemies trapped in it, and avoiding melee.

The dialogue options were fairly simple: at different points in the conversation, a few options appeared on a little circle at the bottom.  You just pick the one you want, and Shepard says something with the same general meaning.. I think this has little effect on events in the demo, but it’s nice to feel involved.. and in the full game this should mean different reactions and endings depending on what you picked.

The second part of the demo is a mission to collect a female Krogan from a Solarian base.. there’s a bit of drama to start with because the Solarians don’t like Rex, the male Krogan on your team.  Going to get the female, though, requires fighting through Cerberus forces on the way up through the building.

This action was good fun, moving from one area to the next, flanking enemies, hitting them with singularities and using cover.  Cover has been improved from the previous games: you are able to move around the side of some objects while using them for cover, though the game has been designed so that you can’t just pop your head out and kill all the enemies without moving.

Just before we finally got to the female Krogan, a huge mech was dropped into the building..

He had shields and armour to get through, and though I used cover, it didn’t protect me complete from the rockets fired by him, or the grenades thrown by the Agents who appeared to back him up.  One tough, but very satisfying fight.. I ended up moving around the whole map to get some distance and avoid the rockets, as well as dealing with the Agents.

I’m now looking forward to this game.. we’re probably going to get it on the 360 to share, rather than buying a copy each on Origin (yes, it does require Origin on PC).

Mass Effect 3 is due to be published by EA on the 6th March in the US, and the 9th March in the UK and Europe.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a reimagining of the original turn-based strategy originally released in 1993 under the title UFO: Enemy Unknown, by Culture Brain and MicroProse.

In the original game, the player manages X-COM, a secret organisation set up to deal with the threat of extraterrestrial invasion.  Through the game, you meet and fight different aliens, learning more about them and their technology, before preparing an assault on the alien’s base.  This was followed by a number of sequels and compilation releases, but the original was the most popular and successful, winning IGN’s #1 PC Game of All Time in 2003, 2005 and 2007, as well as high positions in the Best Computer Game of All Time by PC Gamer across several years.  The game and X-COM series have a large fanbase, including some of the Firaxis team.. so the new game will have a lot to live up to!

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a strategy game, and as the commander of X-COM, you are faced with handling the global response to the invasion of Earth: resource management, research and development of new technology, and defense, including management of  the soldiers themselves, although Firaxis have said they are removing some elements of micromanagement which they considered tedious and uninteresting.

Another XCOM game is being developed by 2k Marin, developers of BioShock 2.  Titled simply XCOM, this is a first person shooter and takes place earlier than any other game in the series, when the aliens are just making their first attacks on Earth.  This game was to be published in 2011, but has been delayed.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is under development by Firaxis Games, published by 2k Games, with release scheduled for late 2012.

The Indie Royale Really Big Bundle

The Indie Royale team have now released the latest indie bundle: the Really Big Bundle, containing Really Big Sky, Runespell: Overture, Cthulhu Saves the World, Eufloria and Breath of Death VII!

This bundle was made available to pre-order a short while ago, but sight unseen, and I was reluctant to buy in case I had the games already.  However, of these, I have to admit that I’d only heard of Really Big Sky, Cthulhu and Eufloria, and very little about those too..

Really Big Sky is a twin-stick shooter by Boss Baddie, where you face down waves of alien invaders, from actual enemies to laser planets and black holes! There are seven different game modes, including co-op.. and the game is generated from the way you play.. whether that means more of the enemies you do least well against, or simply that enemies grow stronger, I will have to see!

The rest of the pack seems to include games to suit different moods.. Cthulhu Saves the World is an RPG by Zeboyd, where you help Cthulhu regain his powers on a quest of courage, romance, redemption and insanity.. as it says on the tin.  Breath of Death VII is also from Zeboyd, another RPG, but more of a parody.  Sounds like these two are for when I’m in a particularly silly mood, then! 🙂

Runespell: Overture is another role-playing game, but using collectible cards to form attacks.  I think I’m only really going to know what this one is about once I’ve started playing it.. something different to the usual games is certainly worth taking a look at, and might even make me think a little more.

Eufloria is a beautiful, ambient game with exploration and conquest, with new asteroids providing resources which allow you to grow, but also attract rivals.  Like a few other games I’ve played or bought recently, the levels are procedurally generated so you never see quite the same level twice 🙂

I think Eufloria will be the game to calm me down again after the sillier games.. at least on the earlier levels 😀

The Indie Royale – Difficult 2nd Bundle

The Indie Royale is another indie bundle scheme along the lines of The Humble Bundle..

This is the second in the series, containing action-puzzle game Night Sky by NICALiS, Red Redemption‘s strategy Fate of the World, space-shooter Scoregasm, by charliesgames, and a pair of games by Size Five Games: point and click comedy Ben There, Dan That! and sequel Time Gentlemen, Please!

The deal is not quite pay-what-you-want, as there is a minimum price, but it’s still a bunch of games for a low price, enough to attract decent numbers.  The price starts low, and goes up as people buy.. but if the minimum price is beaten, the price is knocked down again.  Recent price changes and other stats can be seen on the site too.. it’s rather interesting to see the price change over time.

Currently, the minimum is just over £2, which doesn’t sound much.. but in the six hours it’s been on sale, there have been over 11,500 sales.. 🙂

ScampLAN 2

The weekend just passed was ScampLAN 2, with a couple of friends bringing their PCs round to our house for gaming and silliness 🙂

We played a lot of Dungeon Defenders.. which I had a look at last week.  This game has really grown on me over the week..

I’ve now tried out all the characters, but the one I’ve played most has been the Huntress, who specialises in traps and ranged weapons.  I felt she was slow to get off the ground with.. the traps start off with only a few charges and are soon used up.. but after gaining many levels and improving both the traps and the character’s stats, she now feels quite powerful 🙂

When you level up, you can spend your points on stats for the character or for your towers.. I’ve spread my points out between the Huntress and her traps, but another friend has put most of his points into his Monk, making him fantastic in combat but with rather weak auras.  For the characters the three of us developed over the weekend, this worked very well, as it meant the mana could be spent on building and upgrading stronger towers and traps, without getting too close to the defense unit cap.  We got as far as the Servant’s Quarters during the weekend!

Another game we had a turn at was Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.
We tried to play this previously, but thought we might do better if we were in the same room and able to communicate a little better.  However, as in our previous attempts to play, we found barely-visible enemies were able to take us out with ease.. the game is supposed to be about realism and tactics, but if I’m approaching on my belly through trees and bushes, I don’t think it’s realistic to be shot down so quickly by people I can’t even see yet.

I also suffered from a rather random bug, which had my character float up into the air before being thrown back down again.. and of course, taking realistic fall damage.  This happened a few times, but settled down enough to complete the mission.  However, the fun was lacking for most of us, so we didn’t go back for a second mission.

In between the gaming I had a bit more of a poke around with VoxelSniper on Minecraft.
I had a failed attempt to add Zombe’s flying mod.. not quite sure what went wrong, but the game wouldn’t launch.. before I installed VoxelAir, which allows me to jump high into the air and land without damage, or hover above the ground.

You can jump rather a long way up.. and when I came down, I was surprised by the crazy number of mobs which had spawned!

I found an interesting bug with VoxelAir too.. after being killed while hovering, courtesy of a few Skeleton Archers and a lack of care, I respawned still hovering.. floating upwards in fact!  Using the “/give” command simply dropped a new feather at my feet, out of reach.. a friend also tried to give me a feather but it also landed out of reach.  In the end I used “/kill” a number of times and eventually spawned close enough to a feather for it to pick up.

Next up will be forming a nice piece of flat land for a huge project.. more later 🙂

With four people and a reasonably couch to take advantage of, there was also some console gaming.. though we found a distinct lack of co-op games allow four people on one console.  So many games boast “2-4 player co-op”, but don’t specify that this means two people on one console, and two on a second console.. annoying.  We tried Call of Duty: Black Ops.. we wanted the Nazi zombies, but only the arcade mode allowed all four of us to play.  We had a couple of runs on that, with me claiming the top spot for one run!  Red Faction: Armageddon failed us, as did Rainbow Six Vegas.. so we ended up shooting each other in Halo 3 which entertained us for a while!

Hunted: Demon’s Forge was picked up at the start of the weekend too, and we attempted some co-op in pairs.  We all found the game surprisingly hard, though Tim and Jason attempted to play without going through a tutorial first.. masochists!  I think the game would be a lot easier if you were able to carry more than one health vial each.. we also found the game punished deaths by sending us a long way back each time.  I’m looking forward to playing the game by myself at some point soon, too.

Another game which made an appearance over the weekend was Gears of War 3!
I hadn’t yet finished Gears of War 2, but the copy of #3 will be going home with Jason at the end of the week, and Tim wanted to start some co-op, so we’ve been playing through it anyway.. on hard!

So far, I’m loving it.. though noticing a few changes! The world has been destroyed by the Hammer of Dawn, and the enemies now include mutated Lambent creatures.. I’m noticing a huge change from the graphics of the original Gears of War as well, with the character models all being far more refined.  Good changes all round.. and still a great game, as far through as we’ve gotten this far! 🙂

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