Tag Archives: gamesmaster

Dead Space – Developer Interview With Glen A. Schofield

Exclusive interview with Dead Space Creator and Executive Producer Glen A. Schofield. Unpublished, interview was undertaken for GamesMaster Magazine – obtained 9 March, 2009:

Dead Space was an instant hit in the office, a real surprise! Were you confident of such a reception early on in the development stages?

No, you always need to remain paranoid and humble when making a game I believe. We were getting some good internal feedback and we loved what we were making but the final critical success was fantastic.

With Dead Space becoming a franchise, how hard is it keeping things canon? Will you be hands on with projects such as films/comics or are you solely confined to the games?

We’ve been quite hands on with all the products to maintain the quality and continuity. The main thing though is to hire great people. They will strive to work with us, create something great and become a partnership with us.

With Isaac Clarke being named after Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, were you fans of their work? What influences in particular did you draw from them?

I’m huge fans of both if then. I love their huge stories. The idea of planet cracking was because we wanted to do something huge-Clarke wouldn’t just mine a planet, he’d take it apart. Both were great visionaries and I’m still reading and re-reading their books and short stories.

All the major players today seem to be taking a DLC path with their games by adding extended scenarios, yet Dead Space isn’t taking this route. Any particular reason why?

We did have DLC but that was quite modest- weapons, packs and suits. With Dead Space we decided we wanted to make a Wii game (Extraction) with our resources this time around. So in my opinion we’re creating something even bigger and better. But I hear you and we listen to our fans.

The Wii version is up next, what challenges will that set up for development? Will you have to learn the limitations of a whole new console and work around it?

We don’t look at them as limitations, they’re just different challenges and we’re completely embracing the new controllers and the great things we can do on the Wii. I have to say the game looks absolutely fantastic and the new perspective is fun as hell.

The Internet went crazy trying to decipher the language of Unitology. Just how difficult is it creating a new language, and will it be built upon in the future?

It is hard to create a look for a new language. But it’s one of those fun challenges the team just feels is necessary. I loved the fact that people were able to decipher it, we were thrilled since there were some bits of info in them.

Is there anything at all you’re disappointed with? What specifically didn’t make the final cut that you’d have loved to have seen on a personal level?

We got a lot in. Obviously there are things that didn’t make it but it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss them. You never know if they’ll show up in a future game like Extraction.

How much of a risk was it not including a standard HUD? What other ideas were bandied around the office when inventing new ways to present Isaac’s stats?

No HUD was a goal from day one. There was no other discussions than how to make it work. Huge challenge but that’s what this team thrives on. As soon as you waver on your vision it’s no longer the game you want to make. So the challenges were many but the final outcome is something we are extremely proud of.

Art wise, how much fun went into creating the Necromorphs? The Thing has been heralded as an inspiration; can you guide us through the creative process?

It’s funny, the Thing had nothing to do with it. We just have some exceptionally talented, twisted and demented (in a good way) people on the team who are always pushing every limit and boundary. And as far as fun, well they were some of the most enjoyable and sick creative meetings you could ever have. Imagine sitting around talking about pregnant neceomorphs, babies with tentacles, exploding sacks and infected flying creatures.

Finally, is there anything else you want to add? Any information on upcoming projects such as the sequel?

I want to thank our fans, that’s for sure. Without them we’re nothing.

As for projects, Extraction is the one we are feverishly creating right now. It’s has a great new prequel story, new characters, weapons, mechanics and levels. It’s a definitely following in the footsteps of Dead Space in terms if atmosphere, graphics, sound, innovation and above all fun and quality.

VIVA NEW VEGAS! – GamesMaster Exclusive Bethesda Interview – GamesMaster #213

gm_logo1

VIVA NEW VEGAS!

Listen carefully...

Fallout relocates to a post-apocalyptic Sin City!

This month Bethesda revealed plans for an all-new Fallout game entitled New Vegas. The game is being developed with help from Obsidian, the developer behind Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2. “It is not a sequel to Fallout 3. It’s simply another Fallout game in that universe,” Bethesda’s Pete Hines revealed. “It will be the same sort of role-playing game experience seen in Fallout 3,” he added. Here, we get the lowdown from Pete and lead designer Emil Pagliarulo…

BETHESDA TALK FALLOUT 3

Their lips are sealed about New Vegas but they will chat about our favourite game of last year!

GM: Fallout 3 swept our annual GamesMaster Awards for 2008, did you ever envisage such a huge fan following and cult status?

Pete: Not really. Maybe just because we never let ourselves be distracted by thoughts of that kind of thing. We’ve developed a really good culture here where we focus on the things we can control and trying to make the best game we can. You get your head in the clouds thinking about already being a success or taking anything for granted and it all can go wrong in a heartbeat.

GM: Some of us in the office have invested over 100 hours into Fallout 3. How do you sleep at night!

Pete: I said long ago that our ultimate goal was a global decline in productivity. So the more people that spend untold hours playing the game, the better we sleep at night.

GM: With regards to the Fallout DLC, are you going to keep this world you’ve created and visit different areas on the globe? What does the future hold?

Pete: Well obviously the first one is a virtual reality visit to Anchorage, followed by an actual visit to what’s left of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The third continues the story after the main quest in the Capital Wasteland, so we do like to mix it up both in terms of where you are, and what you’re doing.

GM: How much of a risk was it acquiring the Fallout franchise from Interplay? Was there a plan set down on where to take Fallout beforehand?

Pete: Really, it boiled down to “we loved that series and we want to revive it and make another one.” People ask a lot about how far you’ve planned this series or that one, but ultimately the focus has to be on the next thing you’re doing because if you botch that, there may not ever be anything else.

As far as how risky it was, Fallout was probably pretty high on the “risk” chart. Picking up this beloved franchise that was so revered and making another game in that series and putting ourselves up for all that ridicule and speculation…that was no easy undertaking. I’m glad people like the game. It makes going through all of that worthwhile.

GM: How were subjects in the game such as slavery approached during development? Do you think humanity would resort to that if the Fallout scenario was played out in reality?

Pete: Well the fun of Fallout is that it’s not just what would happen after a nuclear war, but what would happen after a nuclear war in this alternate universe where things are a bit “odd” as it is. We wanted to stay true to as many of the mature themes as possible, without them being distracting. So things like drug use, violence, slavery, prostitution, etc….we felt it was important to include those things without them distracting from the game. We wanted to use things like slavery to give you a chance to define who you are…a good guy, or a bad one? Help the slaves, or profit from them? The way slavery is portrayed in the game is believable enough that you think it could really happen like that. The more things we do to help you suspend belief, the more immersed you become. And the more sleep you lose. And the happier we are.

GM: We’ve stumbled across UFO’s and many other secrets in Fallout’s world. Is there anything that’s gone over the public’s head and you’re disappointed hasn’t been made more of?

Emil: Now there’s an interesting question. You know, in a game like Fallout 3, a big game that gives the player 50 hours of play or so, there’s always going to be stuff the player misses. And as developers, that’s one of the challenges – showing the player something new at, say, hour 30.

There are two systems in place in Fallout 3 that really sort of ensure that players will discover some fresh stuff really late in the game – the random encounters, and conversations. With each of these, we knew we put in some really cool nuggets, but we also realized players may very well never see them. Such is the nature of a system like that. And that’s a really difficulty, necessary thing for a designer to do, to create work you know someone may never see.

Here are a couple of specific examples: there’s a random encounter where a UFO blows up in the sky overhead, and rains down debris… including an Alien Blaster you can find and use. We actually discovered through playtesting that the weapon tends to get lost out there in the Wasteland when it falls, but Dogmeat is the perfect way to find it; if you see an explosion in the sky, you just tell him to find you a weapon, and he’ll likely bring it back.

In the conversation system in the Citadel, you can overhear two Brotherhood of Steel guys talking, and one of them is trying to perfect his “Olde English,” because he figures it’s more knightly; the other guy, of course, makes fun of him. So really, it’s stuff like that I hope players experience, but there’s no guarantee.

GM: Is there anything at all you’re disappointed with? What didn’t make the final cut that you’d have loved to have seen on a personal level?

Emil: I can’t really say there’s anything I’m honestly disappointed in, but I do have to wonder about some ideas we had in pre-production that we ultimately cut. Originally, the Enclave didn’t only take over Project Purity – they also took over all of Rivet City. And this happened while you were at the city, so your task was to help lead Doctor Li and the citizens of Rivet City out of a secret escape route, and escort them to the safety of the Citadel. It was sort of the game’s “escape from Bespin” experience.” It wasn’t meant to be but part of me still wishes we had the time to pull it off, simply because those kinds of large-scale, reactive world moments are so memorable for players.

GM: Some glitches have been found and exploited by players, such as the cap glitch. How difficult is it to eradicate errors like these in a game world as huge as Fallout’s?

Emil: Maybe more difficult than anyone can imagine, to be honest. On the surface, they may seem simple to find and fix, but they aren’t. However, we don’t use that as an excuse. We examine our process, and constantly improve on it. That was the case moving from Oblivion to Fallout 3, and it’s already the case as we work on the Fallout 3 DLC.

GM: Art wise, how much fun and love went into creating the monsters in Fallout? Guide us through the creative process.

Emil: Creating monsters or enemies is always a lot of fun. It’s a guilty pleasure, really, and one of the things that makes me remember how lucky I am to be doing what I do. When I go home, and my kids ask me what I did that day, and I say something like, “I helped design a Super Mutant,” it doesn’t even seem like reality.

For Fallout 3, it was an interesting process, because we weren’t so much creating creatures from scratch as we were updating a lot of the original Fallout creatures. That process started with us determining which creatures or enemies we wanted to have, and how they would be represented in the game. Those initial designs then went to our concept artist, who would crank out iteration after iteration, until we had the versions we liked. And then came the biggest challenge, really – creating those creatures in the game itself. And again, it always came back to us wanting to update the original designs. How do we make a Deathclaw that feels just as scary as it did in the original Fallout? Is this a good change to the Sentry Bot?

In the end, the monsters of Fallout 3 really are an excellent example of every design discipline working in unison. Design, art, programming, animation – it’s all represented in every creature we do.

GM: How hard was it to programme V.A.T.S. combat? Are you pleased with the end result and how it differs from combat in Oblivion?

Emil: Like anything, getting V.A.T.S. to the state we wanted it was a matter of constant playtesting. For us, it was very much about the feel of the system, and how it flowed naturally from run-and-gun combat and any other aspect of the game. It’s really kind of surprising to me how close the end product is to both the initial design, and the initial concepts we did.

Ultimately, I think the system epitomized the Bethesda development ideology of “keep it simple,” but before we arrived at the streamlined system we shipped with, it certainly experimented with more complexity. We had discussed doing an entirely new interface for throwing grenades, for example. And, at one point early on, you could target every explosive environmental hazard in V.A.T.S., from cars to fire extinguishers. But in the end, these added layers of complexity didn’t really improve the player’s experience; they really just served to slow down the combat experience and the game as a whole, so we went back to the simpler, cleaner, and must faster implementation.

I’m incredibly proud of the V.A.T.S. system we shipped with. It was a labor of love for a lot of talented people, and I think it changes the way players think about gun combat – in first-person shooters as well as RPGs. So not only did we create a cool new system, we also challenged some traditional ways of thinking and playing in other genres. That was sort of the unexpected cherry on top for us.

GM: Is it worth doing a Fallout 4 after creating such a massive world? Where do you go after Fallout 3?

Pete: If it wasn’t worth doing we wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble to acquire the license. There are lots of things left to do with a franchise like Fallout.

GM: What was it like working with vocal talent like Liam Neeson? We can’t imagine him being anything other than a perfect gent!

Pete: Our internal joke is “it turns out Liam Neeson is a really good actor.” He’s incredibly nice, and incredibly talented, and was so good at taking the context of his lines and getting into his character and what he was doing and feeling at that moment.

GM: There was obviously concern when the game was leaked before release, but no official comment was made at the time. How do you view the piracy situation now, in hindsight?

Pete: My views haven’t changed. Piracy still sucks and still hurts us as a business. Period.

GM: Finally, any exclusives for our readers? Future Bethesda projects, perhaps?

Pete: You heard it here first: Bethesda will have future projects. J

Thank you very much for your time, folks. Good luck with all your future projects!

We Want Your Job! – GamesMaster Magazine Issue 211

GM_logo

We Want Your Job!
Pestering the jammiest jobsmiths in the business.

This month, Craig Leigh, who is helping make Fat Princess, tells us the benefits of having a curvier queen…

GM: Hi Craig, tell us what your role is on Fat Princess.

Craig: Hi GamesMaster, my role is the Lead Designer of Fat Princess. I try to take all of the creativity and good ideas of the team and funnel them into a workable and fun game!

GM: What happens in your typical working day?

Craig: Fat Princess is in the polish and debug phase and so my days are pretty hectic. A typical day is a combination of playing, reviewing and tweaking the mechanics of the game, and working with the team to ensure the experience is as fun and chaotic as possible.

GM: What’s the creative process like when thinking up an idea like Fat Princess? Did the pitches go well?

Craig: At Titan Studios, we all take part in the creative process and throw ideas into the pot when creating new gameplay mechanics and features. The original pitch for Fat Princess went incredibly well. We were discussing our ideas with Sony and they loved the concept so much that we started development shortly afterwards.

GM: Are the lovely ladies modelled on anybody in particular?

Craig: Well that would be telling wouldn’t it! I could not possibly say, I might get sat on and squished!

GM: Finally, any advice on how to enter the industry?

Craig: I originally started in Q.A. and worked my way up through the ranks. If you want to be a designer or level designer I would recommend trying to create mods for existing games as you will learn a lot from the process. The best piece of advice I can give is to join a development studio as soon as you can because there’s nothing better than hands on experience. And your mum is wrong – play a lot of games. You need to know your business!

GM: Thanks, Craig!

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:

1: Two PS3 Debug stations so that I can play with myself all day.
2: My headphones as I need to rock out while developing.
3: PS3 wireless headset, I need to talk to my Fat Princess team to coordinate the attack. CHARGE!
4: Tea! I can’t live without at least 3 barrels of tea a day.
5: My “All Time Gaming Champions” trophy to remind my colleagues of my almost astonishing level of Bubble Bobble gaming domination.

wwyj_gm211

CAPTION: A PlayStation paradise. Keep your eye on Fat Princess, not that you could miss her, of course…

GamesMaster Awards 2009: 4 Page Feature – GamesMaster Magazine Issue 210

GM_logo

(Note: It looks a thousand times better in the mag)

GAMESMASTER AWARDS 2009

“Oi, you can’t come in here – those shoes are too casual, mate…“

…As for the rest of you, roll on up! Flood the venue and scream for joy, it’s time for us to host our GamesMaster Awards for 2009. We’ve been unable to leave the office due to a constant stream of letters blocking the door, while 12 highly skilled monkeys from abroad were hired just to help us sift through the entries. So now, without further ado, it’s time to crown the best gaming moments from the last 12 months, as voted for by your favourite person. YOU!

GAME OF THE YEAR 2008

1st: GRAND THEFT AUTO IV – (98%)

The top three were tighter than a duck’s bottom, but GTA IV proved you all have memories longer than its final mission as you voted it your game of the year. With ‘The Lost and the Damned’ downloadable content nearly here, is there a chance you’ll make it game of the year for 2009? We’ll just have to wait and see…

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: FALLOUT 3 – (93%)

Just missing out, the sheer depth and scale of Fallout 3 made it a favourite, with its oodles of sidequests and inventive combat system.

3rd: LITTLEBIGPLANET – (96%)

Games with plots are over-rated, according to you folks anyway. The amount of artistic freedom offered by LBP really got your creative juices flowing.

4737-gta-iv-screenshot

CAPTION: Pistol in hand, Niko makes a clean getaway with the Game of the Year award for 2008.

nikobelicCAPTION: “I would like to thank Roman and Katie for this moment… but they are riddled with bullets.”

BEST PS2 GAME OF 2008
1st: LEGO BATMAN – (86%)

There were murmurs of Traveller’s Tales Lego formula feeling stale, but Lego Batman certainly found a home on PS2, the plastic platformer picking up best title in what must surely be the console’s final year.

RUNNERS UP:
2nd: CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR – (N/A)

Despite the lack of online co-op and deathmatch, World at War just missed out on top spot.

3rd: FIFA ’09 – (88%)

The beautiful game isn’t as beautiful on PS2, but the gameplay still scores.

lb_screen_995_360_wave21

CAPTION: Pow! Smack! Shazaam! Batman proves he’s brick hard.

BEST PS3 GAME OF 2008

1st: LITTLEBIGPLANET – (96%)

Being the first console game to really break the online community market, Sackboy wallops Snake into second place and takes the title of best PS3 game with its fascinating online library and amazingly unique visuals.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: METAL GEAR SOLID 4 – (97%)

Second is scant reward for someone who continually prevents disaster.

3rd: RESISTANCE 2 – (91%)

Resistance from consumers was obviously futile.

sackboy_lbpCAPTION: We ‘felt’ LittleBigPlanet would win in the end (hyuck hyuck).


BEST XBOX 360 GAME OF 2008

1st: Gears of War 2 – (95%)

It was no contest really, was it? The emphatic Gears of War sequel offered a twisting plot and a deliciously violent romp, expanding on the abrupt ending of the first game and offering scenes of real emotion.

RUNNERS UP:
2nd: Fable 2 – (94%)

Kicking chickens and doing the dirty deed gets Fable 2 into second place.

3rd: GRAND THEFT AUTO IV – (98%)

Game of the Year, but third on its console? We’re proud champions of consistency here at GM! It’s your decision.

intervention_marcuskantusCAPTION: He may be big, but Marcus Fenix’s BMI puts him firmly in ‘obese’ territory.

BEST Wii GAME OF 2008

1st: MARIO KART WII – (91%)

Not only a game for casuals, Mario Kart is still the hardcore Wii gamers choice, despite Nintendo’s unfair weapon balancing act. Now all we need is a friendlier way to input friend codes and we’re sorted…

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: SUPER SMASH BROTHERS: BRAWL – (92%)

Epic stand-offs between Jigglypuff and Kirby sweep the nation.

3rd: NO MORE HEROES – (90%)

No more No More Heroes? We need more games like this on the Wii, urgently!

BEST DS GAME OF 2008

1st: THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU – (88%)

Now THIS is a DS game. Utilising almost every facet of Nintendo’s dinky delight, The World Ends With You is a game inside a game with its style assaulting you from both screens. Your emphatic choice for number one.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE CURIOUS VILLAGE – (90%)

Brain teasing, cranium twisting handheld agony.

3rd: GUITAR HERO: ON TOUR – (85%)

Finger teasing, knuckle twisting handheld agony.

wewy_titlescreen01CAPTION: If you can figure out what on earth is going on here then contact Consoletation zone.

BEST PSP GAME OF 2008

1st: FINAL FANTASY VII: CRISIS CORE – (92%)

You can’t get enough of the seventh instalment, it seems. Zack’s back-story carries on Cloud’s legacy, and shocked us by actually being quite good, as we gave it 90%. A shining light in a pretty barren ’08 for the console.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: GOD OF WAR: CHAINS OF OLYMPUS – (86%)

Kratos’s might be able to kill deity’s, but he can’t beat Zack.

3rd: MIDNIGHT CLUB: L.A. REMIX – (88%)

Rockstar weigh in with this decent portable racer.

crisis_core_cg__3__tif_jpgcopy

CAPTION: Genesis has long flowing hair and a big sword and… oh, just stop it already.

BEST PC GAME OF 2008

1st: SPORE – (93%)

Controversies raged over SecuROM installation, game length and super-piracy, but Spore still shoots to the top with its simply amazing scope. Will Wright will right these problems, we hope, when he announces Spore 2 (hopefully)…

RUNNERS UP:
2nd: WORLD OF WARCRAFT: WRATH OF THE LICH KING – (90%)

A strong position for the expansion, Wrath of the Lich King just misses out.

3rd: AGE OF CONAN: HYBORIAN ADVENTURES – (86%)

For God sakes, put some clothes on. The characters are as bare as Hyboria itself.

sporeapp_debugrelease_2008-08-22_13-50-50-42_png_jpgcopyCAPTION: Spore, Warcraft and Conan prove to be worlds apart.

BEST PIECE OF HARDWARE OF 2008

1st: PS3

Could 2009 finally be Sony’s strongest year? You lot seem to think so, as the 360 runs out of steam and chugs into second place. Just kidding, it was actually very tight. Go out and buy a console anyway, they’re all brilliant.

RUNNERS UP:
2nd: XBOX 360

Claiming the silver medal, is this in protest at the New Xbox Experience, we wonder?

3rd: DUALSHOCK 3…

…surprisingly makes an appearance, batting off strong competition from the Wii-board.

BEST GRAPHICS OF 2008

1st: METAL GEAR SOLID 4 – (97%)

Hands down, the best graphics go to Metal Gear Solid 4, as we gasped in awe at Sony’s use of cell wrinkle technology. Would the 360 cope with the strain? We may still yet find out…

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: GEARS OF WAR 2 – (95%)

Steamingly ugly Locust’s and veiny, uglier Human’s captured beautifully on 360.

3rd: GRAND THEFT AUTO IV – (98%)

The over-realistic strains on Niko’s travel-worn face couldn’t guarantee him top spot.

metal-gear-solid-4-beauty-and-the-beast-unitCAPTION: The Beauty and the Beast unit pick up our special design award.

BEST SOUNDTRACK OF 2008

1st: MIRROR’S EDGE – (80%)

Free running Faith’s rooftop fumble was greatly improved by the gorgeous sounds around her, whether it was the strong Swedish influences or simply the sound of her scraping her bum when sliding. Mirror’s Edge takes the GamesMaster Grammy.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: SUPER SMASH BROTHERS: BRAWL – (92%)

Stunning orchestral re-imaginings of Nintendo classics. Far better than Wii Music…

3rd: GRAND THEFT AUTO IV – (98%)

Maybe not as good as Vice City’s soundtrack, but it’s still a great selection for stealing cars to.

falling_webCAPTION: A high pitched ‘GYYYYYUUUURGH’ would have been tops, too.

MOST PLAYED GAME OF 2008

1st: FALLOUT 3 – (93%)

There’s no way this would lose. You have to invest hundreds of hours just to cover the side-quests! Covering every inch of this pseudo-fifties future imagining is still keeping everyone going, month’s after its release.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR – (91%)

Cross-console shooter so nearly reaches the heights of its older, more modern brother.

3rd: SUPER SMASH BROTHERS: BRAWL – (92%)

Multiplayer brawler beats off the competition to land third place.

TOUGHEST GAME OF 2008

1st: FALLOUT 3 – (93%)

Even with the aids of V.A.T.S. combat, Fallout 3 is still a bugger to beat. We could blame the lack of ammo and overly large monsters, but we find it especially tough because we can’t help but start a fight during conversation.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: MIRROR’S EDGE – (80%)

A first-person perspective without the gunplay. Peace and love, peace and love.

3rd: NINJA GAIDEN 2 – (70%)

Now, we think this is just the most stupidly hard game ever. Can’t wait for the third, though…

1167987718_1aaa50e8abCAPTION: Toughest Game and Most Played Game, you sure are gluttons for punishment!

HERO OF THE YEAR 2008
1st: SACKBOY

Despite costing around seventy-five pence to construct, Sackboy has beaten off many established stars to become your hero of 2008. He’s also the gaming equivalent of a filthy shirker, seeing as we do all the hard level building and all…

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: SOLID SNAKE

Ask your Granddad to come out of retirement and kill an army. Snake does it every day of his life.

3rd: NIKO BELLIC

You lot really should look up ‘Hero’ in the dictionary…

BOXOUT:

A lad called Nathan spoke for most of us when he e-mailed in his hero of the year. ‘The Judge who banned Jack Thompson!’ he no doubt scrawled with a grin…


VILLAIN OF THE YEAR 2008

1st: LIQUID OCEOLOT

After missing out on the award for sexiest bloke, Ocelot can take heart at winning Villain of the year in light of his convoluted war effort plot and Liquid Snake morphing arm thingy.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: LORD LUCIEN

Fable 2’s dog killing emo isn’t as tough as he thinks he is.

3rd: DMITRI
Grand Theft Auto’s Eastern Bloc psycho ends up in blouse wearing third place.

mgs4_e3_2006_5CAPTION: You like me, you really like me! Now, die in a fire.

BEST BIT IN A GAME 2008

1st: REVISITING SHADOW MOSES

Snake’s plot-twisting return to Shadow Moses was your stand out gaming moment in 2008, which including an epic battle with Crying Wolf, Vamp, and Naomi’s flippant emotions. A stand out part in one of 2008’s epic titles.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: GEARS OF WAR 2, FIRST LEVEL

GearsHollywood introduction had all jaws on the floor the UK over.

3rd: LAST SCENES OF GTA IV

Choosing who to let live and die was a tear-jerker of the highest level.

1209970353097vr0CAPTION: We thought we wouldn’t ever have to come back here after the awkward Otacon ending of the first game.

BOXOUT:

Our favourite ‘moment’ was submitted by Tom Carlyle of Chippenham who quite enjoyed Dom’s wife ‘looking all skanky and that’…

DISSAPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR

1st: NEED FOR SPEED: UNDERCOVER – (79%)

Oh dear. The one constant in this poll was how disappointed you all were with Need for Speed: Undercover. Was it the limp story or the erroneous bugs and niggles? Either way, you let us know that you were let down by it.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: SONIC UNLEASHED – (80%)

Oh look, it’s a new Sonic game! Gathering dust in the bargain bin!

3rd: PRINCE OF PERSIA – (71%)

You can’t die? Breaking Prince’s trusted formula obviously wasn’t a popular decision…

nfs09_game3_bmp_jpgcopyCAPTION: To disappoint you even further, here’s a mobile phone screenshot.

BEST CHEAT OF 2008

1st: GTA IV HEALTH/ARMOUR/WEAPONS CHEATS

Threats of taking away precious achievements proved to be laughable, as you guys used your phone to cheat the game instead of arranging social time with Brucie.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: SPAWNING ANNIHALATOR – GTA IV

Wreaking havoc across Liberty City was ample trade for the ‘Walk Free’ achievement.

3rd: FALLOUT 3 GLITCHES

Said glitches include an EXP hack by changing the difficulty, and swindling caps from wasteland losers.

4418-gta-iv-screenshot-explosionCAPTION: Cheating in GTA IV gave us some hilariously laugh out loud moments.

BOXOUT:

Scott Gilbride’s submission landed on our desk, and written in a solemn cursive font under the best cheat category was ‘I wouldn’t cheat…’. Bless…

MULTIPLAYER GAME OF 2008

1st: LEFT4DEAD – (93%)

Whether on PC or console, Left4Dead still gives us hours of enjoyment, both online and in the office with Team GM running around screaming like pansies. It’s a good job too, as its single player borders on the useless.

RUNNERS UP:
2nd: CALL OF DUTY: WORLD AT WAR – (91%)

We’re still unsure about swapping airstrikes with packs of dogs. Doesn’t bother you lot, though…

3rd: SUPER SMASH BROTHERS: BRAWL – (92%)

Nintendo’s character homage shrugs off Mario Kart competition and smashes its way into third.

witch-francis-1680CAPTION: Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Ironically, this makes her all the more dangerous.

SEXIEST GAME BABE/BLOKE OF 2008

1st: LARA CROFT…

… again. It was either the brand new High-Def water flowing off her lycra swimsuit or her sexy new voice actor. Either way, she adds another trophy to her already heaving mantelpiece for 2008.

RUNNERS UP

2nd: FAITH – MIRROR’S EDGE

Free runner Faith keeps her body trim by running up advertising boards and killing corrupt police officials.

3rd: SHAUNDI FROM SAINTS ROW 2

Well… whatever floats your boat, we guess…

lara_croft_-_tomb_r_288491gCAPTION: 95% of the vote went to Lara. 95% of Lara is silicon.

BOXOUT:
Worringly enough, a vote for ‘Professor Pester’ from Viva Pinata caught our eye. Luckily for you, young MAN, we’re keeping your identity secret…

BEST AND WORST BOXART OF 2008

BEST:

1st: LITTLEBIGPLANET – (96%)

Looking like a pilot episode of Rainbow, the LittleBigPlanet box is being used in schools all over the UK as a substitute colour wheel.

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: RESISTANCE 2 – (91%)

Captures the mood of a 1950’s alien invasion perfectly.

3rd: FABLE 2 – (94%)

Bare, yet sombre, Fable 2’s box captured a real sense of character isolation.

pack_shot

WORST:

1st: FIFA ’09 – (90%)

Shockingly, there’s something about Wayne Rooney’s face and Ronaldinho’s teeth that you just don’t agree with…

RUNNERS UP:

2nd: WALL-E – (64%)

That sad look on his miserable face sums up our time with Wall-E.

3rd: PETZ: RESCUE OCEAN CONTROL – (N/A)

Haaaaaaaaaaaahahahahah…

fifa09x360pftukeng_jpg_jpgcopy

SimAnimals Review – GamesMaster Magazine Issue 210

GM_logo

OUT: NOW, FORMAT: Wii, PRICE: £39.99, DEVELOPER: IN-HOUSE, PUBLISHER: EA, ONLINE: YES, WEB: WWW.SIMANIMALS.COM, PLAYERS: 1-4

SIMANIMALS – Wii

ALSO ON – DS

STRAP: Don’t go down to the woods today…

So is SimAnimals a Viva Pinata beater? Not a chance. EA have tagged it with the Sims moniker, but we were alarmed to hear we would be caring for plant life and wide-eyed critters. And sadly, it’s as dull as it sounds. Even Watership Down dabbled in murder and psychosis…

SimAnimals is far from a car-crash game; it just doesn’t really offer anything gameplay wise. As in other Sim games, your Wii-mote controls a floating hand as you arrange plants and trees to attract creatures to your woodland. Rabbits and Squirrels will appear first with carnivorous heavy hitters like wolves and bears popping up in later areas to try and cause trouble in your serene valley.

FLOWER POWER
It matters little. Sometimes there’ll be conflict as a bigger animal devours a smaller one, but leave everybody alone and they’ll get along fine, paw-in-paw as you mess about planting Hyacinth. Plant management soon becomes your primary concern as the animal’s environment becomes more important than the animals themselves. Yawn…

You’ll be given specific challenges to complete at each clearing along the lines of ‘plant eight trees’, or ‘attract two cats to your forest’, they’re very bland and weak. SimAnimals excels in just holding your interest as you unlock the next area or animal. There’s no call at all to revisit once you’ve had a comb, except maybe for multi-player where you can invite three of your friends to roam your forest.

The Wii controls work very well, but presentation is poor. Animals and textures have a last-gen feel to them, jarred edges making them look blocky and rushed. SimAnimals would be great for a younger sister or older relative. Us though, we’re sticking to Farthing Wood for our woodland excitement…

BEST BIT!

riverridgebirdseye_bmp_jpgcopyCAPTION: Building an animal utopia can be satisfying when things go to plan.

rabbitdefendCAPTION: Mate, dammit. We’ve planted some aloe and hibiscus, what more do you want?

skunks2_bmp_jpgcopyCAPTION: You’ll need the help of your animal buds later to stop the upstream pollution…

heron01CAPTION: The in-game encyclopaedia gives us real life facts about the world around us. Zzzz…

BOXOUT 1:

FERN-BULLY

Typically, the last few levels give you access to the heavenly power of lightning. Don’t get too excited, it’s only useful for clearing dead trees. Zzzzz…

01_01_simboxout

CAPTION: Don’t hide there, big guy, you’re in the way of the GamesMaster demolition squad.

01_02_simboxoutCAPTION: Don’t fret. Feeding him startled squirrels and tickling his belly will cheer him up.

JUDGEMENT:

GRAPHICS: 55%
Blocky and bland. This is supposed to be a lush forest, isn’t it?

GAMEPLAY: 54%

Not much in the way of an actual ‘game’ to play here, really…

LIFESPAN: 63%

Multiplayer extends it a little, and you can always obsess over your woodland.

OVERALL: 60%

An inoffensive stroll through a dull park. Buy a ticket to the Zoo instead.

SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

BETTER THAN: Star Wars: The Clone Wars, 59%

WORSE THAN: Animal Crossing: Let’s go to the City!, 80%

WAIT FOR: The Sims 3

BEST PRICE: £29.99, gameplay.co.uk

Cooking Mama 2: World Kitchen Review – GamesMaster Magazine Issue 210

GM_logo

OUT: NOW, PRICE: £34.99, DEV: COOKING MAMA LIMITED, PUB: 505 GAMES, WEB: http://www.cookingmamaworldkitchen.com/, PLAYERS: 1-2

COOKING MAMA 2: WORLD KITCHEN – Wii

STRAP: A recipe for success?

Poor ol’ Mama. She greets us in a bandana in a bid to show she means business on our first day in her kitchen, and although her heart is in the right place as she tries to train us, we turn out to be only as good as our tools. In this case, it’s the Wii-mote. For fans, it’s recognisable Cooking Mama. You can take on the large seven-page recipe roster in a bid to win a medal, cook for a ‘friend’, or take them on in a cooking challenge with Mama herself. Having an extra Wii-mote gives you the luxury of cooking with a buddy, all the ingredients needed to advance from the first Cooking Mama on Wii, right?

KITCHEN NIGHTMARE

It pains us to criticise Mama, but the Wii-mote lets it down dreadfully by incorporating a stirring or pouring motion in almost every recipe. Identikit activities like straight chopping aren’t a problem, a slight flick of the wrist or a shake registers A-OK, but if you’re asked to stir soup, grind coffee beans or twirl an ice-cream cone then throw in the towel. The game does an awful job of recognising the more explicit commands, we looked like the weather vane atop GM towers as we leaped all over the room in an attempt to do the simplest tasks, our temper boiled over like our pan of Miso-soup in the end.

Like a soufflé, we’ll end on a light note. Mama is adorable, addictive fun, especially for kids, and when the controls actually work there’s a full feast of fun to chew on. It’s great trying to perfect the full range of recipes, but the terrible utilisation of the Wii-mote is tougher to swallow than a week old pork pie.

BEST BIT!:

screenshot_013CAPTION: Actually nailing a recipe! When Mama’s on form, she cooks up a storm.

screenshot_011

CAPTION: Mama’s always there, championing our ugly food.

screenshot_010

CAPTION: Graphically, sound, everything you do is in spanking new 3d…

screenshot_0061

CAPTION: …But maybe it’s this extra dimension that harms the control scheme?

JUDGEMENT:
GRAPHICS: 71%
In all new 3D, this is one fine looking Mama.

GAMEPLAY: 65%
Standard Mama, with a few new recipes thrown in for measure.

LIFESPAN: 60%
You COULD master each recipe. If you actually CAN is the problem…

OVERALL: 64%
We think it’s about time for Mama to add a bit of spice into her cooking.

SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
BETTER THAN: Spider-man: Web of Shadows, 55%
WORSE THAN: Guinness World Records: The Videogame, 77%
WAIT FOR: the next DS Cooking Mama
BEST PRICE: £24.99, Play.com

Reviews Round Up – GamesMaster Magazine Issue 210

GM_logo

OUT: MARCH 09, PRICE: £29.99, DEV: MISTWALKER, PUB: IGNITION, PLAYERS: 1

BLUE DRAGON PLUS – DS

Good news! You don’t have to be a Blue Dragon nut to enjoy this DS incarnation. Within an hour, you’ll be brought up to speed thanks to some eye-popping full motion video and handy character bios. Blue Dragon Plus is a tactical RPG in the mould of Final Fantasy Tactics, you’ll move your huge team of recognisable characters (Shu, Zola, Szabo et al) around an isometric grid with your stylus as you try and figure out just how Nene came back to life. It isn’t very accessible for beginners as something like Dragon Quest (see opposite), and battles aren’t as strategic as they should be due to sheer volume of foes on screen, but it’s a solid entry for hardcore fans.

JUDGEMENT: 81%

A risky direction for the series to head in, but a surprisingly successful RPG.

01_bluedragonplus1CAPTION: Like Final Fantasy 4, the FMV on the DS is so impressive, a real sight to behold.

02_bluedragonplusCAPTION: Battling in real time can be tough when there’s so much happening at once.

OUT: NOW, PRICE: £24.99, DEV: GAMMICK ENTERTAINMENT, PUB: DEEP SILVER, PLAYERS: 1

ELITE FORCES: UNIT 77 – DS

Remember Commandos? Elite Forces has a similar premise; you take control of a unit of four soldiers with specific skills (demolitions, sniper, electronics expert and tank), and have to defeat modern day terrorism using only your stylus. Sadly, this draw is also its most concerning flaw. Best-case scenario, your team is bunched together on screen and you’re trying to escape another enemy onslaught. Scenery could get in the way, or you unintentionally select a different character and perish, or shoot a nearby barrel instead, killing your enemies and vaporising your team, too. Distant checkpoints don’t help, but the strategy gets admittedly more fun further in, when vehicles are introduced. The stylus frustrations, sadly, can’t be ignored.

JUDGEMENT: 62%

Fiddly stylus controls all too often get in the way of a great DS idea that had plenty of potential. Maybe next time, eh?

01_eliteforcesCAPTION: There’s no way to defend or evade attacks. Send in team ‘Sitting Duck’.

02_eliteforces

CAPTION: Vehicles are a hoot to drive. When they feel like moving, that is…

OUT: NOW, PRICE: £24.99, DEV: ARC SYSTEM WORKS, PUB: 505 GAMES, PLAYERS: 1-2

BATTLE FANTASIA – 360, PS3

Looks wise, Battle Fantasia’s on a par with Eternal Sonata – it’s impossible not to fall in love with, let alone ignore its sweet, cel-shaded fighters and utterly bonkers character design. As a fighter though, Fantasia doesn’t cut the mustard. The pedestrian pace and lack of attacking options betray the individuality shown in the flamboyant graphics, while the bare-bones options of Story Mode and Arcade Mode quickly turn into a gruelling slog. It isn’t as rewarding a long time investment as Arc SystemWorks’s Guilty Gear offerings – even playing alongside a like-minded mate – and you’ll have little call to return after completing Story Mode a few times. Pretty, then, but ultimately all mouth and no trousers…

JUDGEMENT: 64%

Maybe worth a dip if you’re a fighting novice – but why play this when you could be playing the incredible Street Fighter 4?.

01_fantasia

CAPTION: Quirky characters are all well and good, but Watson the rabbit? We say ‘No!’.

02_fantasiaCAPTION: Despite the sluggish pace, the visuals are pure, cel-shaded eye candy.

OUT: NOW, PRICE: £24.99, DEV: IN-HOUSE, PUB: SQUARE ENIX, PLAYERS: 1

DRAGON QUEST V: THE HAND OF THE HEAVENLY BRIDE – DS

Originally on SNES, but never released in Europe, Square Enix have given role-player Dragon Quest V a complete overhaul and released it on DS. With the 3D graphical revamp, its enormous overworld, charming script and storyline that spans three generations (including the option to marry and start a family), Dragon Quest is one of the most absorbing handheld titles of 2009. There’s a lot of initial grinding to do, and the story doesn’t really spark until about five hours in, but this slow-burn works in its favour as you get to grips with the game’s size. It isn’t an update on the scale of Final Fantasy IV, nor is it as immediate in its intentions, but it’s a worthy rival for your affections.

JUDGEMENT: 88%

Well worth your time, Hand of the Heavenly Bride is an excellent DS RPG.

01_dragonquest1CAPTION: Character battle animations are beautiful and fluid, it’s all part of Quest’s charm.

01_dragonquest2CAPTION: The world map is enormous. You’ll be travelling more than the Hairy Bikers.