#egmr » Caveshen http://egmr.net Let's Talk Games — Videogame News, Reviews & Opinions Thu, 16 Oct 2014 07:30:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 rAge 2014: Assassin’s Creed: Rogue Is More Of The Same And That’s Great http://egmr.net/2014/10/rage-2014-assassins-creed-rogue-thats-great/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/rage-2014-assassins-creed-rogue-thats-great/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 15:00:21 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158905 One of the problems with creating a really cool concept in a game is that you can’t really know for sure just how much it’s going to be milked and […]

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One of the problems with creating a really cool concept in a game is that you can’t really know for sure just how much it’s going to be milked and at what point gamers are going to get over it, until it becomes blatantly obvious to everyone. In the case of the Assassin’s Creed games AC3 brought a sailing mechanic that took the series by storm and now with Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, quite possibly Ubisoft’s final foray into the now-previous-gen console market, that mechanic is once again playing a starring role, as we got to check out during rAge 2014.

If you’re not interested in this write-up and just want to know about the gameplay then this link contains all the gameplay found in the demo so hit that up first, then maybe come back here if you’d like. A lot of Assassin’s Creed: Rogue will be immediately familiar to the gamer; the naval controls and intense seafaring warfare mixed in with the jungle-gym-like climbing and platforming along more-and-more-unrealistically-set climbing areas (such as the masts of sunken ships which perfectly form a line that can be traversed). It’s instantly familiar and it’s great.

The new character and partial setting — at least for the gameplay demonstration — are also the first really intriguing aspect for quite some time in the series; what would happen if an assassin went rogue? That’s what the game is trying its best to portray for us, and while we can’t speak on story we can at least speak on the location of the demo being the Arctic tundra which displayed the Northern Lights in their full glory. It was beautiful and captivating and while the final product is probably going to be more of the same, meaning tail missions for everyone (!), we can’t help but adore it for specifically that reason.

The naval aspect has not been done to death just yet and Rogue certainly offers a fresh perspective that has been teased in both the ‘Americas’ games thus far, AC3 and ACIV; hopefully this one provides yet more elaboration on what life is like on the other side of the coin. Watch this space.

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rAge 2014: Assassin’s Creed: Unity Is Not More Of The Same And That’s Great http://egmr.net/2014/10/rage-2014-assassins-creed-unity-thats-great/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/rage-2014-assassins-creed-unity-thats-great/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:15:11 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158899 Perhaps the weirdest thing about playing something you’re used to playing but quickly realising that it’s just not how you remember it, is having to re-learn everything you think you […]

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Perhaps the weirdest thing about playing something you’re used to playing but quickly realising that it’s just not how you remember it, is having to re-learn everything you think you know. That was what playing Assassin’s Creed: Unity at rAge 2014 felt like when we finally got a chance to go hands-on with the game.

It’s not because it’s a drastically different game but rather because of two things. One of them is the 1:1 rescaling of Paris, which adds a surreal sense of verticality to the game and creates buildings and a world that just looks taller and larger than anything prior games ever boasted. The other thing is the new platforming mechanic which feels reminiscent of the climbing from the first few Assassin’s Creed games in that you hold down RT and A in order to free run, but this-time you also get the ability to do it downwards. Free-run up with A, free-run down with B. It certainly takes some getting used to at first.

Such was our experience with the game, which showed off a few new additions such as what can only be described a flashback kills (where an assassination tells you a bit about the victim’s background) as well as lockpicking, a new form of eagle vision and more. Most notably perhaps is the newly reworked combat system which, for the life of me, I could not quite figure out. The mission in the game actually allowed for multiple approaches in a return-to-roots for the series that allowed you to either approach from up high or from the gritty ground level, which granted me options I had missed from more recent games in the series.

Opting for the up-high option to get to my target, I attempted an air assassination and was stunned when Arno killed the guy next to my target, which started a massive brawl that I ultimately lost because I had no idea of how the new controls worked, and any attempt to run away led to me clumsily climbing up half-walls and pillars only to be shot down in the attempt. Assassin’s Creed: Unity certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it is going to take a few tries to master, especially if you’ve played recent games and have become accustomed to a certain style of playing.

Although all of that said, it’s looking quite solid and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in French Revolution Paris. Women or otherwise.

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rAge 2014: Sunset Overdrive Is Wacky Fun But The Novelty Might Well Wear Off http://egmr.net/2014/10/rage-2014-sunset-overdrive-wacky-fun-novelty-might-well-wear/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/rage-2014-sunset-overdrive-wacky-fun-novelty-might-well-wear/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:15:35 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158893 Who even needs cover mechanics and reloading when you have the zany craziness that is Sunset Overdrive. Insomniac’s third person open world shooter is geared around having a good time […]

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Who even needs cover mechanics and reloading when you have the zany craziness that is Sunset Overdrive. Insomniac’s third person open world shooter is geared around having a good time and at rAge 2014 we got a chance to finally go hands-on, and our experience has been… well, mixed.

At first Sunset Overdrive is hilariously good and while it took a few minutes to get used to the parkour-style navigation and platforming of the game area, while simultaneously shooting enemies and trying to avoid all incoming damage, once we finally got into the swing of it we quite enjoyed the little nuances and blatant potshots at other games that follow checklist-styled game mechanics. Sunset Overdrive is certainly something fresh and new, and that’s great and we love it. If you’d like to have a look at gameplay then by all means click here.

Thing is, and here’s where it gets a bit controversial (you might say), it was just a short level but even then the humour started to feel a little flat as one kept playing. Bulletstorm suffered from a similar thing where once you saw a few things you’d basically seen all of it, and Sunset Overdrive certainly has an uphill climb to prove itself as something with proper longevity and some lasting entertainment factor.

This might confuse some readers who’ve claimed me to be an Xbox One fanboy but the simple truth is that I cannot, given what I’ve played, rightly recommend Sunset Overdrive as a must-play Xbox One exclusive. It’s certainly unique and is definitely something that will attract users to the console. But insofar as whether it’s something that you should buy an Xbox One for — the way some claim The Last of Us is a PS3 pusher — I cannot say for certain, right now.

Then again perhaps this is just old code and in fairness it’s an out-of-context and short gameplay demonstration rather than anything that might actually be in the final product. More a working example than a polished exhibit of entertainment. Hopefully. Right now while I will certainly say that it’s exquisitely entertaining for the first ten minutes, that humour needs to last and it just isn’t at this point in time. But let’s wait and see, shall we? Our full review of the game will be out later this month when it releases. Wait for it.

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Razer Adaro Stereos Headset: Because Green Cabling http://egmr.net/2014/10/razer-headset-green-wiring/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/razer-headset-green-wiring/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:15:58 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=154012 Headphones, hey. Those large clam-like things that go around your ears and provide sound to your cerebral cortex. Ugly buggers, but so practical and handy. Remember all those old tech […]

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Headphones, hey. Those large clam-like things that go around your ears and provide sound to your cerebral cortex. Ugly buggers, but so practical and handy. Remember all those old tech magazines you used to read, that would present you with a mind-boggling array of figures and details down to the very minutia, leaving you absolutely spoiled for information regarding a new pair of headphones? Well, we’re not doing that today. Absolutely not. I refuse.

See, we’re a (mostly) gaming website with a focus on (mostly) gamers and their tastes; none of us here are sound engineers but at the same time we think that’s a better thing because while a sound engineer can break your brain with figures and statistics, we can at least tell you about something within the context of gaming, as gamers. In other words, is this particular pair of headphones a decent fit for the average Joe gamer?

Well here’s the thing: the Razer Adaro Stereos Headset is very much a great pair of headphones… it’s just not, you know, that much of a decent fit for the average Joe gamer. And in this here review we’re doing, my first ever headset review, we’re going to go into exactly why this is the case; but from the perspective of videogames. If that’s agreeable with you, then by all means follow the links below to read more. Also, check out this unboxing I found on the internet:

 

Are you ready for this jelly?

Page 1: Introduction: Green Day
Page 2: Technical Specifications: The Thin Green Line
Page 3: The Headset Aesthetic: Lean and Green
Page 4: Build Quality and Comfort: Less Hulk, More She-Hulk
Page 5: Audio Performance: Green with Envy
Page 6: Conclusion: A Green Letter Day

Continue Reading on Page 2: Technical Specifications: The Thin Green Line

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: Digital Be Damned http://egmr.net/2014/10/life-universe-gaming-digital-downloads-damned/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/life-universe-gaming-digital-downloads-damned/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:00:08 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158145 The promise of digitally distributed gaming has always been an alluring one. You come home tired from work and don’t want to expend yet more time and energy driving to […]

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The promise of digitally distributed gaming has always been an alluring one. You come home tired from work and don’t want to expend yet more time and energy driving to a nearby shopping mall (sometimes entirely out of your way) just to fetch a new videogame. Worse still, you don’t want to then be told that it is sold out and have to drive home disappointed and unsatisfied like a third date with a prude.

Sure there are online retailers and it’s always better to have a physical copy on hand but the advent of digital distribution has meant that the only storage space you require is a hard drive and your games will always be available to you, wherever you go, as long as you have internet and a hard drive to save it all on. Steam has done this, and extremely well at that. It’s convenient and it’s easy and it just works.

On the console side of things, we have digital downloads available to us but there is one massive drawback to it. See, unlike with Steam where games are relatively affordable and sales happen often, on console we get no such thing*. In fact, we get worse because some games alarmingly cost more in digital format than they do as physical retail copies. Sounds kinda silly, doesn’t it?

If we had to break down what goes into a physical copy, we would have the discs themselves together with burning of data onto them, as well as case, printed cover, game manual and whatever else goes into the box. Then there’s the distribution (logistics, effectively) and of course any further fees to get it to retailers across the world. On the digital side, almost all of this is cut out and instead replaced with a bandwidth fee for downloading from the file repository, and perhaps licensing for such things as the server itself, security for the server and maybe paying Microsoft or Sony to have the game listed. Is that where all the extra costs come in?

In which case, why doesn’t it affect the PC market as much unless Valve is just a lot less pricy with games listing on Steam? Possible, although even then some games are not actually listed for much cheaper on there. Perhaps then, it really is just a case of pricing to a point at which gamers will still pay for the product because of the convenience offered.

Let’s take a practical look at the current state of digital downloads using this MyBroadband article that compares digital download prices between Xbox One and PS4. I’m going to use that table to create one of my own here in this column, but I’m going to also consider the prices for retail copies as listed on the BT Games website.

Game PS4 Digital Price PS4 Physical Price Xbox One Digital Price Xbox One Physical Price
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition R749 R569.90 R599 R525
Watch Dogs R899 R599.90 R649 R599.90
Minecraft R279 R279.00 R169 N/A
Fifa 15 R899 R699 R599 R699
Child of Light R149 N/A R149 N/A
Destiny: Digital Guardian Edition R1,149 R765 R1,199 R755
Wolfenstein: The New Order R899 N/A R1,019 R699
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor R899 R699 R699 R699

 
Poor PS4 gamers, amirite? Immediately you notice the stark differences between the physical and retail prices of some games. Wolfenstein: The New Order, for example, is staggeringly expensive. Bewilderingly expensive. Outrageously expensive. On digital, anyway. On physical it’s adequately priced. Likewise for Destiny, although we imagine that digital version probably has some extra DLC for the asking price. Strangely, some Xbox One games are priced better on digital than they are in physical… so I guess we have the Xbox ZA team to thank for that.

Had to.

Had to.

Now another thing that must be factored into the equation besides pricing is bandwidth. After all, a physically purchased game will maybe require some installation and an update but a digitally downloaded game does not already have content on the disc, so to speak, and therefore must be downloaded, installed and updated. Now this isn’t too bad when you consider smaller games that are maybe 5GB or so, but you’ll find that with the advent of next-gen gaming and texture resolutions, sound files and so on getting larger and larger, we find ourselves with games that average 15GB, going all the way up to a whopping 50GB in order to download. Call of Duty: Ghosts, pictured above, is one such game. Another is Forza Horizon 2 which is a 45GB download.

All of this is to say nothing of the absolutely pornstar-massive size of updates that must then be downloaded thereafter. Some updates are larger than full game installations. Dead Rising 3’s initial update is a mind-boggling 13GB large. 13GB! For a mostly singleplayer but sometimes cooperative zombie killer! Although fair enough, these are not limited specifically to digitally downloaded games since game updates occur on physical retail copies as well unless you stay offline.

Effectively though, unless you are on uncapped and don’t mind the bandwidth consumption, you’re effectively forced offline to avoid these massive patches which, mind you, really add up if you play more than two games in a short space of time. And by uncapped, we mean true uncapped, not that Telkom/Mweb bullshit where after 100GB they hard-cap you or severely throttle your line and force you to use something else instead.

With all of this in mind, it’s an easy conclusion that right now we South Africans are just not ready for the digital world. Sure uncapped and decent line speeds are becoming more commonplace but this next-gen gaming thing is really fucking us over. You either need to get a massive storage device for your downloaded games or deal with having to re-download 45GB-large games in order to facilitate being able to play more games because of the limited install place. And since you’re forced to install games, there is no way around this besides buying more storage or deleting currently installed games. And the games releasing continue to get larger and larger and larger…

It’s getting a bit much, wouldn’t you say?

* Okay that’s not entirely true, because we do get some sales. But I must emphasise: Some. And not always what we actually want. Rarely with games we haven’t already played, either.

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EGMR At rAge 2014 — The Full Achievements List http://egmr.net/2014/10/egmr-rage-2014-full-achievements-list/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/egmr-rage-2014-full-achievements-list/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:15:21 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158439 If you’re lucky or rich enough to find your way to Joburg’s Northgate area this weekend then chances are you’ll be in attending at South Africa’s premier gaming expo, rAge. […]

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If you’re lucky or rich enough to find your way to Joburg’s Northgate area this weekend then chances are you’ll be in attending at South Africa’s premier gaming expo, rAge. The 2014 edition of rAge promises to be something special and it’s been a massively tiring and exciting time just preparing for it.

If you are going to be in attendance at rAge 2014 then it’s highly likely that at some point you’ll stumble upon one of us. If that is the case, you had better say hello or else. Better yet, why don’t you take the opportunity to unlock a few achievements?

Following from last year’s article of this nature we thought we’d do an updated 2014 version of the list of achievements to unlock at rAge 2014. Think of them like a bucket list or set of challenges for you if you manage to find us at rAge 2014. Try to get as many as you possibly can and who knows, maybe we might give the closest person to completion something to take home?

For the achievements list we’re once again keeping it relevant to our writers, and we’ll have a few returning achievements from last year as well as a bunch of new ones. Ready?

50G Be more emo than AG.
50G Let AG dislocate your shoulder, or make him laugh.
50G Be taller than Marko.
50G Let Marko punch or stroke you, your choice.
50G Debate Cavie regarding a BioWare game.
50G Win an argument against Cavie.
50G Gaze longingly into Rudolf’s orgasmic eyes.
50G Tell Rudolf what you think about BioShock: Infinite
50G Get into a convoluted tech-related conversation with Marco.
50G Stroke Marco’s beard.
50G Battle-rap with Adam.
50G Let Adam sing you the song of his people.
50G Have a better afrikaans accent than Bianca.
50G Accuse Bianca of being Peloma.
50G Call out Bracken on his CoD fanboyism.
50G Play against and defeat Bracken at FIFA.
50G Out-awkward any member of EGMR.
50G Play a game, call it shit and then hug an EGMR member.
50G Quote a podcast reference to us.
50G Find Peloma.

 
Try to unlock as many as you can, and let us know when you’re done, how many you managed. Good luck, and we’ll see you there.

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eGamer Podcast #101: Open World Parity http://egmr.net/2014/10/egamer-podcast-101-sound-test/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/egamer-podcast-101-sound-test/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 09:00:11 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158378 Recorded: 07 October 2014 Welcome to episode one-oh-one of the eGamer Podcast, with a whole new intro and a bunch of other stuff. And lots more gaming talk because reasons. […]

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Recorded: 07 October 2014

Welcome to episode one-oh-one of the eGamer Podcast, with a whole new intro and a bunch of other stuff. And lots more gaming talk because reasons. Hopefully you’ll like it? We’re hoping to shape up and do a lot more gaming talk in future. Let us know in the comments how you feel about this.

Topics discussed this week include Shadow of Mordor’s open world, Ubisoft’s PR troubles, and Gotham.

Here are the shownotes for this week’s episode:

  • AG and Azhar are sharing a penis metaphor.
  • Shadow of Mordor’s open world is so good that it dulls the story.
  • The Catch-22 of open world games.
  • Which open world games do the open world really well?
  • Who’s doing the PR over at Ubisoft?
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity is at 900p, umadbro?
  • Yeah that’s right, we’re talking about Assassin’s Creed again.
  • Recent Far Cry games have such cool antagonists.
  • Will Arkham Knight be The Joker again?
  • Have you been watching Gotham?
  • DC’s series lineup is looking good but is it too much?
  • Why won’t people watch The Originals and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
  • Just how bigoted is the world right now?
  • What’s up with all these shots being fired at eGamer these days?
  • We answer your questions.
  • Come to rAge 2014!

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to the RSS feed so you never miss an episode. Enjoy.

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | RSS

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Ubisoft Creates Debate With AC Unity By Trying To Avoid Debate http://egmr.net/2014/10/ubisoft-creates-debate-ac-unity-trying-avoid-debate/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/ubisoft-creates-debate-ac-unity-trying-avoid-debate/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 11:15:00 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158338 Never one to let other publishers spend too long in the spotlight, Ubisoft has decided that it is time Activision stepped down and Destiny took a back seat because they […]

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Never one to let other publishers spend too long in the spotlight, Ubisoft has decided that it is time Activision stepped down and Destiny took a back seat because they are now back and breaking news about Assassin’s Creed: Unity, this time about something we have argued both for and against here at EGMR — console resolutions.

Ubisoft has opted for parity between the console versions of Assassin’s Creed: Unity by locking both versions at 900p and 30FPS, citing CPU limitations as the main reason.

Speaking of AC Unity’s Xbox One and PS4 versions, here is what Ubisoft’s Vincent Pontbriand had to say:

We decided to lock them at the same specs to avoid all the debates and stuff. Technically we’re CPU-bound. The GPUs are really powerful, obviously the graphics look pretty good, but it’s the CPU [that] has to process the AI, the number of NPCs we have on screen, all these systems running in parallel.

We were quickly bottlenecked by that and it was a bit frustrating, because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise, and we realised it was going to be pretty hard. It’s not the number of polygons that affect the framerate. We could be running at 100fps if it was just graphics, but because of AI, we’re still limited to 30 frames per second.

Amazingly, the decision was taken to “avoid debates and stuff” but the exact opposite has resulted. This morning the Twitterverse was flooded with tweets around the so-called #PS4noparity hashtag, with irate gamers firing off shots at Xbox One, Ubisoft and of course next-gen gaming as a whole.

Now we here at EGMR certainly don’t discount that 1080p as a promise to console gamers is important; you don’t get to make promises to gamers and then not deliver on them once purchases have been made. Aliens: Colonial Marines is now infamous for lying to gamers about what it was. Console manufacturers ought not to get away with that. But that is where our support ends, and while we fully support upset PS4 gamers who feel they deserve the full extent of their console’s capabilities, that is the limit of our sincerity on this matter.

There is no reason, for example, to fire off shots at the Xbox One. There is no reason also, to then accuse PS4 gamers of finding something to fight about after being disappointed by the PS Plus price hike last week. Furthermore, this is not a #Gamergate issue at all.

For us this is purely about a developer not realising just how much time and effort development of a game required, and then talking up a bunch of words and hoping they stick, hilariously creating the very thing they tried to avoid. And for that, Ubisoft, we can’t help but commend you. You hear a lot about all the free PR that publishers get from gaming websites, but it takes a special sort of publisher to promote their games almost entirely through negative publicity. AC Unity (which I keep seeing as a-cunt-y) is probably going to sell like hotcakes now… as if it wasn’t going to be one of the biggest releases of the year already. Who even needs a marketing department?!

But what do you guys think? What are your thoughts on the resolution? As PC gamers, you probably feel quite chuffed right now because this has been happening to you for years… but of course, console gamers make a much, much louder noise and love using those hashtags. Hashtag resolutiongate has reached its next stop and it seems to be AC Unity. Already, Ubisoft are talking about patching in 1080p at a later date. Here at EGMR we feel that post-release patching of something that should have been in the game already is quite silly, but then this is the gaming industry.

It’s unfortunate how the entire issue is being misrepresented as a PS4 vs Xbox One problem when actually, it is more likely Ubisoft’s fault for trying to develop an overly ambitious game with some unrealistic goals when they could have just put in a few more months of work to present the quality they had originally aimed for, but then we’ll probably never know if that’s true or not; we can only speculate based on what we can see and how we’ve learned to interpret developer commentary.

Go ahead and tell us what you think in the comments. And expect more from us on this latest controversy as it develops.

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Our 101st Podcast Records Tonight — Ask Us Things http://egmr.net/2014/10/101st-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/101st-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:00:09 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158139 One-oh-oooonnnneee! *cue barks* Oh come on, you know that song. Don’t act as if you didn’t sing along to it when it played on TV. [regathers self] Ahem. So. Tonight […]

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One-oh-oooonnnneee! *cue barks*

Oh come on, you know that song. Don’t act as if you didn’t sing along to it when it played on TV. [regathers self] Ahem. So. Tonight we’ll be recording episode one-oh-one of the eGamer Podcast (sorry about that last one) and it’s going to be a big one because it’s the week before rAge 2014. Hype!

This here little article is your chance to get involved. Ask us questions about anything you’d like, and also let us know if you’ll be attending rAge this year. If not, is there anything you’d like us to do while we’re there? Let us know in the comments okay.

Then be sure to check out either the site, our Libsyn page, iTunes or our RSS feed later in the week for the podcast, which will have all the answers and more. Tell your friends!

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The Destiny Honest Game Trailer Fails To Disappoint http://egmr.net/2014/10/destiny-honest-game-trailer-fail-disappoint/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/destiny-honest-game-trailer-fail-disappoint/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 11:15:38 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158137 After an alpha, a beta, a review embargo, a loot cave, post-release patching and upcoming DLC, Destiny has been getting more coverage than a royal baby, and now the game […]

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After an alpha, a beta, a review embargo, a loot cave, post-release patching and upcoming DLC, Destiny has been getting more coverage than a royal baby, and now the game I wanted to fail has got its very own Honest Game Trailer.

That’s right, the guys over at Smosh Games have released a brand new Honest Game Trailer for the most hyped game since, well, ever. Check it out in all its excellence above and let us know what you think. (It pretty much echoes my sentiments that this is the Halo sequel Bungie never got to make.)

Also, let us know if you’re still playing this game and if the alpha, beta and review embargoes did anything to help that experience. In your opinion.

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Steam Client WebHelper Gives A Legit Reason To Blame Lag If You’re Bad At Dota http://egmr.net/2014/10/steam-client-webhelper-gives-legit-reason-blame-lag-youre-bad-dota/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/steam-client-webhelper-gives-legit-reason-blame-lag-youre-bad-dota/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 15:00:16 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=158006 Volvo pls fix Have you recently been playing Dota 2 or some other online game that uses Steam and experienced intermittent lag for an extended duration? You might have had […]

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Volvo pls fix

Have you recently been playing Dota 2 or some other online game that uses Steam and experienced intermittent lag for an extended duration? You might have had the issue I recently had, where the Steam Client WebHelper process just mutated and replicated into a laggy, resource-hogging mess.

See what happens is, for absolutely no explicit reason Steam will start up multiple processes of steamclientwebhelper.exe which then consume resources, slowing down your game and importantly, your internet connection. Closing most of these processes (but not all because that closes Steam for some reason) quickly resolves the problem but Steam will eventually start up more processes.

That, friends, is virus-like behaviour.

After having to deal with this for a few days, I took to Google to find out that I’m not alone with this issue. There is even a Reddit thread that was started to try and understand exactly what the Steam Client WebHelper is.

A user on the Steampowered forums posted the following:

The latest Steam update completely devastates my system.

1) Why does this newest piece of junk client launch over two dozen steamwebhelper.exe processes, each taking up about 50MB of resources, adding up to the gigs after only minutes of use?!

2) Why do these exe processes continue to run after you close the window? (For exmaple, start watching a trailer and go to another page, you will hear the trailer continue to play because the idiots at Valve didn’t notice the web helper does not end itself after the page is closed)

3) Why is the Flash player not included with Steam? If they knew half of what they should, Steam and Valve would not be a bunch of morons forcing us to use HTML5 video which clearly uses three to four tims the resources Flash does. If Flash is bad software, then HTML5 Video is a wretched satanic computer curse in comparison…. it’s a nonstarter and a piece of junk.

In its current state I cannot even run Steam. In only minutes is takes over the computer. Before launching a game you need to spend a good five to ten minutes killing all the prcoesses that are literally hogging up 80% of your system resources. If you do not do this everytime you launch a game, the game will run at about half of its potential performance.

Valve, you have completely screwed us over. This latest update shows utter contempt for us and our systems. You spend a decade locking us into your network and pull this bait & switch on us, turning your client into unusable garbage.

In this state, I can actually safely say EA’s terrible Origin is actually a better piece of software than this horrible terrible unusable version of Steam.

Powerful words, and absolutely spot on. So what’s going on here? And how isn’t it affecting everyone? I’m not on the Steam Beta feed, which means I’m supposed to be getting the stable versions of Steam. But those on the Beta feed are getting better performance out of their Steam than I am, and I’m left closing ridiculous amounts of steamclientwebhelper.exe in Task Manager.

At present it seems the only temporary hack would be to use Local Security Policies to deny the application from starting up in the first place. But that just seems counter-productive to navigation in Steam. Perhaps the problem is related to the Chrome-inspired Chromium web browser that Steam utilises, which creates multiple processes in order to utilise multiple cores.

Has this problem happened to you, and have you found a fix for it? Looking through Google, and the various links it gave me, it seems users are just finding short-term solutions to the problem and waiting for Valve to fix the problem. Steam itself has been updating like crazy of late, and so too have some games including Dota 2. Hopefully it comes right because honestly it’s getting quite annoying to have to deal with, now.

If you have experienced this issue, please comment below and also let us know what system you’re running it on. For example, I’m on Windows 7 Ultimate x64. Fully up-to-date.

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eGamer Podcast #100: “But I Just Had A Poop” http://egmr.net/2014/10/egamer-podcast-100-just-poop/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/egamer-podcast-100-just-poop/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 09:00:57 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157957 Recorded: 01 October 2014 Welcome to episode one hundred of the eGamer Podcast — that’s right, guys. One hundred episodes! We made it! Achievement unlocked, etc. Thanks for sticking with […]

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Recorded: 01 October 2014

Welcome to episode one hundred of the eGamer Podcast — that’s right, guys. One hundred episodes! We made it! Achievement unlocked, etc. Thanks for sticking with us through the derps and controversies and the slight (by Sony standards) gaming chatter. We’d love to have you around for a hundred more. In the meantime…

Topics discussed this week include Windows 10, PS Plus price hikes and Shadow of Mordor reviews.

Here are the shownotes for this week’s episode:

  • It’s episode one hundred, biches!
  • Destiny might be worth playing again.
  • What happened to Windows 9 for them to skip ahead to 10?
  • The ‘every other Windows’ theory.
  • Speaking of hipsters…
  • We just recount the old running jokes.
  • Shit gets all Podtoid for a moment.
  • Guess who got accused of ‘shaming’ this past week.
  • An alternative version to Anaconda.
  • So this PS Plus price hike, hey?
  • We share all our cancelled plans for episode 100.
  • What’s up with these faulty Xbox Ones?
  • Have you seen Shadow of Mordor reviews?
  • We answer your questions.

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to the RSS feed so you never miss an episode. Enjoy.

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | RSS

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Meanwhile, On October’s Games With Gold… http://egmr.net/2014/10/meanwhile-octobers-games-gold/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/meanwhile-octobers-games-gold/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:15:13 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157933 If you’re a Microsoft faithful and you therefore own either an Xbox One or an Xbox 360, brace yourself for an interesting month of gaming with October’s Games with Gold […]

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If you’re a Microsoft faithful and you therefore own either an Xbox One or an Xbox 360, brace yourself for an interesting month of gaming with October’s Games with Gold offerings.

First up on Xbox One, Crimson Dragon will still be available for you but will be joined with ID@Xbox offering Chariot, from Canadian developers Frima.

On Xbox 360 for the first half of the month you will have Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and for the second half of the month you’ll get Darksiders II.

Old games by now, sure, but two exquisitely fun and solid offerings… and unlike the PS Plus subscription that some can no longer afford, although they got those games ages ago even if they don’t actually really own it, these games are absolutely 100% yours to own, whether your Gold subscription is renewed or not. So, that’s a thing!

Don’t spend too long arguing about which console is better on the internet, or you might miss out. Go over to the LIVE Store and download these free offerings right now! And make a note on October 16th to get Darksides II as well.

That’s better, Xbox…

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The PlayStation Plus Price Hike Is Not “For The Players” http://egmr.net/2014/10/playstation-plus-price-hike-players/ http://egmr.net/2014/10/playstation-plus-price-hike-players/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 06:00:45 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157868 Say what you will about their methods, the local PlayStation South Africa team have really stepped up their game (so to speak) following the release of the Xbox One by […]

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Say what you will about their methods, the local PlayStation South Africa team have really stepped up their game (so to speak) following the release of the Xbox One by offering a slew of PlayStation 4 bundle specials under the branding “For The Players”.

You might say they have taken it directly to Microsoft and entirely overshadowed the local release of the Xbox One with their specials and right now, at least online, the PlayStation 4 contingent is going strong. But PlayStation SA have released an email that is going to utterly destroy a lot of that goodwill, and it relates to the excellent PlayStation Plus service.

Due to various market conditions, the price of your PlayStation Plus subscription is going to rise slightly. On 01/10/2014 the price of a 12 month subscription will rise from ZAR489.00 to ZAR749.00.
If your PlayStation Plus account is set to renew automatically you don’t need to do anything. You won’t begin paying the new rate immediately on 01/10/2014; instead you will start paying the new price from your first renewal date after 01/10/2014.

So that’s a massive 50% increase. And if you’re on the 3-month subscription then the price will be rising from R145 to R219, which is an even larger relative increase. Audaciously, the email title actually says “increase slightly” because apparently in PlayStation terms, slightly means a fucking lot.

Now, why is this such a big deal? I’m hearing a few of the PS4 hardcore going, “But Cavie, you just hate the PS4 so why are you even reporting on this news?” Here’s why it’s such a big deal:

On the PlayStation 4, you cannot play multiplayer games without PS Plus. Furthermore, all those ‘free’ games you’ve been downloading and enjoying, where Sony promised that as long as you renew your subscription then they’re yours to play for as long as you’d like? Well if you can’t afford to renew your subscription then all the ‘free’ games you acquired through PS Plus will no longer be accessible, at least until you renew. Which effectively forces you, as the paying customer, to pay for the product in order to keep what is yours.

The problem with monopolies, ladies and gentlemen.

But don’t take my word for it. Nor another’s. Rather let one of our PlayStation 4 fans talk to you about it at a later stage once we’ve got some comment from PlayStation SA, as well as ascertained whether this is a local-only situation or something that will affect gamers worldwide. Are PS4 fans now paying the price for those bundle specials, or is there some deeper reason for this price hike? If it is worldwide, is it because of Sony recently reporting another year of massive losses?

Either way, with the insane local pricing on digital downloads, the sizes of those downloads, and now the price hike on PS Plus, the PlayStation 4 offering is not looking quite as locally viable anymore. (But watch the Sony faithful defend it anyway, amirite.)

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Xbox One And PS4 Go On Special For One Night Only http://egmr.net/2014/09/xbox-one-ps4-go-special-one-night/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/xbox-one-ps4-go-special-one-night/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:30:29 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157858 Last week during the Xbox One’s official South African release, the PlayStation 4 went on special here and we told you all about it. Naturally then, it’s only fair to […]

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Last week during the Xbox One’s official South African release, the PlayStation 4 went on special here and we told you all about it.

Naturally then, it’s only fair to tell you when a special is happening on the other console… you know, the one that actually released last week. In the interests of fairness then, Kalahari.com is having a special on their standalone Xbox One console.

It is currently listed at R5,999 and includes everything you’d find in the box including the wireless controller with batteries, the helicopter voice-chat headset and an HDMI cable, together with the Xbox One itself and accompanying power brick. There don’t seem to be games included but this is no real matter given that Xbox One Games with Gold and other free online offerings will sort you out while you decide exactly what games you’d like to purchase with your money. After all, not everyone enjoys Forza 5 and FIFA 15.

Should you opt for games then the option does exist for a massive Xbox One bundle as well.

But that’s not all!

Because Kalahari are actually doing a special on the PS4 as well. The console with the controller has been reduced, perhaps tactically, we can’t really say for certain, to R100 less than the Xbox One bundle which packages the same story of just the console and a controller and not much else on the games side, but this time for a cool R5,899. Perfect, once again, for if you’d like to purchase just the console and then choose your games carefully while utilising the PlayStation Plus offerings.

Personally I’d rather go with the current BT Games deals on the Xbox One and PS4 because they seem to offer a bit more for your hard-earned money.

Still, a novel attempt at creating some sales from Kalahari and definitely the cheapest current options to acquire either console. So definitely check them out if you’ve been waiting for the prices to drop to around R6000 or lower. Just remember that the prices revert at midnight, so if you’re going to be making a decision then it will have to be made tonight. Chop chop.

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Our 100th Podcast Records Tonight — Ask Us Things http://egmr.net/2014/09/100th-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/100th-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:00:18 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157809 Achievement unlocked – 100G – 100 Episodes That’s right everyone. Pop the sparkly and don the darkly (uhm) while your usual EGMR crew as well as a few special guests […]

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Achievement unlocked – 100G – 100 Episodes

That’s right everyone. Pop the sparkly and don the darkly (uhm) while your usual EGMR crew as well as a few special guests get together to record episode one-hundred of the eGamer Podcast tonight… three digits, guys! How epic, right? Or, you know, absolutely pathetic. Depends on how you’re looking at it. All we can say is, it’s funny how every other site is doing podcasts and stuff now, hey?

Now is your chance to get involved in the swing of things. Use this article. Ask us questions. Anything you’d like! Scroll down to the comments, post your questions, go crazy.

Then be sure to check out either the site, our Libsyn page, iTunes or our RSS feed later in the week for the podcast, which will have all the answers and more. Tell your friends!

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Hands-On: Civilization: Beyond Earth Strategically Misspells Civilisation http://egmr.net/2014/09/hands-civilization-beyond-earth-strategically-misspells-civilisation/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/hands-civilization-beyond-earth-strategically-misspells-civilisation/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:15:03 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157720 Turn-based strategy is not a genre particularly filled with competing franchises, nor does it have universal popularity. Not that it doesn’t have its established fanbase and franchises; yet those who […]

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Turn-based strategy is not a genre particularly filled with competing franchises, nor does it have universal popularity. Not that it doesn’t have its established fanbase and franchises; yet those who swear by turn-based strategy would bow to no other strategy player in their worship of Sid Meier’s Civilization series in particular. And now the series that refuses to use the non-American spelling of the word Civilisation has taken to an entirely new setting and… well, we kinda like it.

Previously the Civ games were somewhat rooted in historical or present day settings. Now following from the recent Ubisoft-published Anno 2070, developer Firaxis Games has taken to the skies with Civilization: Beyond Earth, setting the game in wholly new and unexplored worlds as part of a story of settlement and terraforming that literally goes beyond Earth, something that we as a technologically superior species (used loosely) will one day have to learn about in thorough detail, if we’re ever going to find new homes for ourselves away from Earth. So while turn-based strategy is not my particular genre of choice, this game did play a part in piquing my curiosity enough for me to want to give it a try.

I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly a veteran of turn-based strategy. Of strategy games I have played many, but my interests in strategic games lie more in the real-time strategies, so trying out Beyond Earth was a bit of a foray into an unfamiliar land, not entirely unfamiliar since I had previously sampled Anno 1404, but the first time I ever tried out a Civilization game proper, meaning not a demo or something to that extent. That said, the code we were given for Beyond Earth only allowed for a total of 200 turns, so it’s hardly more than a glorified demo in any case, albeit an unrestricted one apart from the 200 turns limit which more or less gets you past the early-game segment.

As something of a newcomer to the series, I was delighted then to see that Beyond Earth was more than willing to accommodate me. Naturally, it being a strategy game, you are more than likely to become ridiculously overwhelmed by everything going on on-screen at first. But the game will do its best to hold your hand and guide you through all of it; slowly and patiently explaining everything you need to know, without getting in the way of you playing your game. Perfect. It means that I’m not immediately left feeling like an idiot and quitting out of the game, although it certainly requires some patience and perseverance before you can confidently turn off the assistance the game offers.

Hailed as the spiritual successor to the classic Alpha Centauri, and indeed featuring much of the development team that worked on said classic, Civilization: Beyond Earth offers players the opportunity to explore new and uncharted alien worlds. Over the course of your time playing through the game, the directions you take and the technologies you research will go a long way towards determining which of three Affinities you will ultimately end up edging towards; the closest thing to what you might call Factions in the game. The three Affinities are called Harmony, Supremacy and Purity. They each specify a form of adaptation to new planets, where the former favours adopting the new planet as it is, the latter favours reforming the planet in Earth’s image, and the middle is a mix between the two.

At the beginning of the game you will pick some basic upgrades to get you on your way and give you an edge in a particular area (you can also pick your point of Earthly origin), and from thereon out you’re left entirely to your own devices. There is a technology web of sorts that allows you to progress by upgrading, and we can think of this almost like a blitz-form of technological evolution, where there are multiple paths branching out and the choice is up to you, how you want to go about this evolution. At first it will almost definitely seem overwhelming but over time you’ll learn the paths and familiarise yourself more and more, with the way they branch out.

It being a turn-based strategy game, most of the game plays out in turns and is based on a hexagonal grid. As you play through the game, other civilisations will be encountered and it is up to you how you deal with them. I’m not going to go into too much detail with this because it’s your standard bread-and-butter out-of-the-box traditional turn-based fare and really, yawn.

What’s far, far more exciting is how you choose to explore the new and alien terrain. You will encounter aliens, you will encounter toxic gases and you will encounter blocked paths, and it is up to you to choose how you traverse these paths, taking care to either attack or adopt the aliens while avoiding ending your turns in the toxic gases called Miasma lest you lose precious ground forces.

Meanwhile at your home base you will be producing more ground forces as well as researching various technologies along the way to your overall Affinity, which will be determined by your progress across your turns and provide you with unique bonuses as well as unique units towards your civilisation.

To that extent, Beyond Earth feels like a long-term buildup and rightly so. Every early technology upgrade you will purchase has the intention of building towards something greater. And it always has that feel: Of building towards something greater. Everything. Even the very basic troops that you build are built with the intention of later creating something more inline with your overall strategy and intended Affinity.

Your Affinity then, forms the overall focus point of your game and your target by mid-to-end-game, although I obviously couldn’t get that far in the preview build. Still, it was a nice thing to have around because it effectively empowered you as the player to build as you felt comfortable, or indeed towards your ultimate Affinity.

Of other civilisations, I mean they’re not going to have the personality of actual historical figures and a lot of them are questionably racist at worst and mildly bemusing at best; they’re not really important. You choose how you wish to deal with them and standard turn-based strategy takes over from there. Far more importantly, there really isn’t another game that does this sort of turn-based strategy as well. At least not since the aforementioned Alpha Centauri.

This is why hands-ons are kind of tough to write. You can’t really ‘review’ the game, but you’re meant to talk about it anyway. Be informative without over-hyping (the way pretty much every site on the internet typically does with these things). Rather than talking it up a whole lot, let’s rather say this: Do you like Civilization games? Are you a fan of science fiction movies? Did the eighties and nineties really do it for you, with the likes of Alien and Terminator and so on, in terms of technology? Well then you’ll be right at home trying out Beyond Earth.

Because that’s what it is, at its heart. It throws out conventional building and a lot of the standard resource gathering, and it doesn’t have any of the traditional units or buildings as a result of being set in the distant future. Instead you get a futuristic sci-fi strategy game that tries some new things, and while it’s not graphically impressive (by Anno standards anyway) or compelling in terms of AI and unit interactions, it still manages to be engrossing and rewarding for the turn-based strategy player.

And that’s all you really need to know about it. Civilization: Beyond Earth releases October 24th on PC. Be sure to check it out if it’s your kind of game.

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: Reviews Vs Critique In Videogames http://egmr.net/2014/09/life-universe-gaming-reviews-vs-critique-videogames/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/life-universe-gaming-reviews-vs-critique-videogames/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:00:36 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157697 There are so many types of gamer in the world. Why should there only be one type of review? Here is a topic that has been discussed ad nauseam in […]

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There are so many types of gamer in the world. Why should there only be one type of review?

Here is a topic that has been discussed ad nauseam in other genres of entertainment, most notably cinema. The term ‘film critic’ is synonymous with a person whose sole purpose on Earth is to ruin new cinematic releases for everyone… or so the stigma goes. Of course, in gaming we have our own term, the so-called ‘game critic’ who exists to critique games. But whereas in film it’s typically established exactly what the role of the film critic is, in gaming we’re a little less certain of this. Most of the time, we tend to mistake a game critic for someone who is trying to give you honest consumer advice. Let’s run a quick anecdotal situation using two possible scenarios:

Scenario 1: A person has been looking forward to a game for a long time. They go out, purchase and play the game when it finally releases to the world. They then head onto the internet to discuss it, as well as see what other people had to say about it. In this process, they checked out the reviews of certain sites to see if the reviews agreed with their opinion or not. Depending on the person, they either discussed some points of the game with others or just flamed those who disagreed. Either way, discussion arose.

Scenario 2: A person has been looking forward to a game for a long time. Before going out and purchasing it, however, they decide to read some reviews on the game. They see that the game has not performed up to standard and so they decide to spend their money on some other game instead; a game that is getting much better reviews. This person then goes out and purchases that game and either does or does not have a good time with it, depending on their own personal discretion. Either way, a purchase arose.

Now the key difference with these two scenarios is that each person was looking for a different thing out of their online experience with regards to the game they wanted to buy. In Scenario 1, the person was looking for critique. In Scenario 2, the person was looking for consumer advice. And herein lies the difference between them: Critique is discussion for the sake of discussion; Reviews are consumer advice. It really is as simple as that.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately if you think about it but we’ll get back to this one, gaming is the only medium of entertainment in which critique can wholly oppose consumer advice while simultaneously forming consumer advice of its own. What does this mean? Well let’s take a real-world example. A personal one. BioShock: Infinite is not worthy of the various Perfect review scores it got; it has flaws and glaring ones. Critically I would call it a haphazardly designed game with mediocre gunplay and uninteresting level design, with a world that didn’t feel as alive as previous games in the series. However in terms of consumer advice, I would absolutely recommend that every gamer purchase the game by lauding it for daring to go where few games have gone before, and managing to, for the most part, pull it off. In that way, we have an interesting dichotomy of a game that can be criticised quite heavily but is still objectively a recommended purchase.

So you see, these two concepts can conflict at times, and this just does not happen as gloriously elsewhere. For example, if a new movie release was critically panned then reviews would probably recommend you give it a skip. Very few reviews would say, “Yeah it’s bad but watch it anyway.” Unless of course that statement is followed by, “So you know why it sucks.” Although, as we’ve seen from movies such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, consumer advice isn’t necessarily always sought, nor taken thereafter.

Let’s take a belated moment to actually define the two key concepts of critique and reviews:

Critique: an article or essay criticizing a literary or other work; detailed evaluation; review.

Review: a critical article or report, as in a periodical, on a book, play, recital, or the like; critique; evaluation.

(Take note that I only used the first definition of each, where both have quite a few definitions as can be verified by clicking through the links.)

the_legend_of_zelda_a_link_to_the_me_by_n64_hamster-d711ij4

At this point in time you’re probably thinking, “But it’s the same thing?!” Or perhaps, “But Cavie, why are you trying to make fetch happen.” More than a little confusing, isn’t it? By those definitions, they’re basically the same thing or at least make mention of each other in each other’s definitions. Ugh.

While doing the research for this column I stumbled upon two (one and two) rather interesting links that helped me to firmly establish the differences that make these two words stand out, more so than any lexicographer (look it up) or naysayer would think they do. Of particular note is the following paragraph from the latter link:

A critic, on the other hand, will spend less time reviewing content and more time placing the item in context with works of a similar nature so there is a basis of comparison for judgment. There is no point in judging a detective novel by the same standards that you would judge a book of poetry, or a Country music CD by those you’d use for an opera. Each of these has their own set of criteria that has been established by precedent over the years, and it is the critic’s job to understand enough about a genre to judge how well an individual piece fits within it.

That is exactly it. See, and let’s use a real-world example here with Dragon Age II (because I still get shit for this one), when I’m writing a review for Dragon Age II I have to think of what else is around to play at the time (meaning, at that point, March 2011) and then establish whether or not an experience of this similarity can be found elsewhere. At that point in time, the only game that came close to being comparable was the previous game. There was no The Witcher 2 or Dungeon Siege III (thankfully) or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to compare it to, and so an objective purchasing decision was easy to recommend. “Do you want an RPG to play right now? Great, Dragon Age II is entertaining enough that it’ll keep you going for ages, so buy it.” In that sense, a review is also quite time sensitive, since money isn’t all that’s spent. However there is a tendency to approach it from a subjective point of view as well, where you would look at the story and the characters and so on and go, “Well yeah there hasn’t been a good RPG for a while and this one is good but it’s not excellent and here’s why…” in which case you might venture into spoiler territory just to explain why.

In that way it can be very tricky striking the proper balance between the two. Ideally, at least in my imagined solipsist-approved world, I would have two distinct pieces for each game; a review and a critique. The review simply serves to tell readers whether or not something is worth buying, and the critique exists to discuss the key aspects of the game without worrying about such things as spoilers or ruining the experience for others. An objective article, and a subjective one. It is here, however, that we may consider ourselves very lucky in that gaming can exist away from dichotomies and in fact, you can have a review that is also a critique, and vice versa, while still allowing for distinctly separate pieces as well.

In other words, you can have an article that says why to buy a game or not, and in that article you can be as subjective as you’d like, and then you can put out a separate article which continues your critique but without the shackles of spoilers and so on. You are then free to, let’s say, tell a reader why not to buy a game, and then elaborate on those reasons later on. Or in the case of contrasted games such as BioShock: Infinite, you can tell readers why they should buy the game, and then explain why it’s still a game with problems later on. And I have to say, I love it.

I love that these two distinct things exist. I love that in gaming we can easily mix the two and be okay with it. For example, I love that I can tell people that an Xbox One is a retardedly expensive, not-nearly-as-popular, bandwidth-heavy gaming console, and still recommend it for purchase based on its plus points. Because my critique fits in with the review, and my review is effectively a critique. But then I can go one further and write a full feature on the Kinect and why it’s great, and that is a further critique, and in that critique I can link my review to explain why I think it’s a good (or bad) purchasing idea.

All of this said, and yes there are other types of articles besides just critiques and reviews, I do hope that readers understand the differences between these things and so when I type up an article about why I don’t feel The Last of Us is anything truly special, and yet I recommend it for purchase, people don’t sit scratching their heads and wondering how such a thing exists on the internet. I mean, think of a really terrible person who is good at their job. You want them at their best but can’t stand them, so you tolerate them if it means getting the job done well. In that same sense, we want to talk about games in every possible way, be it good or bad (although yes, people tend to fixate on the bad and for good reason because money is spent on games) but we also want to tell you whether or not to spend your hard-earned money on a game as well.

In the end it’s up to you to decide what you’re really here for. If you read reviews for consumer advice then that’s great. If you read reviews for critique then that’s also great. Nobody is ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ in this situation; it’s just a case of trying to understand where a writer is coming from with their particular article. And then knowing how to deal with that knowledge once you do. Here at EGMR, as I’m sure is the case with many sites, we have a healthy mix of critique in our reviews, and once again that’s just fine. As long as you know what you’re getting out of a review, you should know what to do with that knowledge. And that’s all it comes down to, really.

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Source Filmmaker Produces Some Impressive Trailers For Dota 2 And Counter-Strike: GO http://egmr.net/2014/09/source-filmmaker-produces-impressive-trailers-dota-2-counter-strike-go/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/source-filmmaker-produces-impressive-trailers-dota-2-counter-strike-go/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:30:24 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157680 We here at EGMR are suckers for cinematics and so we’re always inclined to enjoy a good trailer here and there. We do have one condition for cinematic trailers, though: […]

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We here at EGMR are suckers for cinematics and so we’re always inclined to enjoy a good trailer here and there. We do have one condition for cinematic trailers, though: They must be for post-release games, or we aren’t even paying attention to them.

With the release of Source’s Filmmaker there has been massive potential for trailer-making fans to really get creative and craft some spectacular cinematic trailers that border on masterpieces. Here are two such trailers.

The one above is for Dota 2, a game that needs no introduction nor any explanation. It’s serene, it’s visceral, it’s almost sure to… invoke, some sort of passion within you if you’re a fan of the long-running MOBA that pioneered the genre.

Then there’s this one:

That’s a Counter-Strike GO trailer or mini-movie if you’d like, which is done in a hilarious Team Fortress 2 fashion and features terrorists and counter-terrorists fighting over a bomb strapped to a chicken. I dare you to not be entertained by it… and I say this as someone who cannot stand Counter-Strike.

The SFM teams as they call themselves are really producing some quality and we as gamers ought to show ‘em our support, wouldn’t you say? After all, look at those trailers. Who even needs hundreds of millions of dollars worth of marketing for games anymore… Destiny.

Thanks to longtime reader and friend of the site Haig Tait for the links.

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Dota 2 Gets A Massive Update With ‘Rekindling Soul’ http://egmr.net/2014/09/dota-2-gets-massive-update-rekindling-soul/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/dota-2-gets-massive-update-rekindling-soul/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:00:38 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157643 When I was massively addicted to DotA a few years ago, every subsequent release of a new map version was like a new kind of crack to a crack fiend; […]

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When I was massively addicted to DotA a few years ago, every subsequent release of a new map version was like a new kind of crack to a crack fiend; we would sit for hours and analyse changelogs, immediately pick heroes we felt were massively reworked or we wanted to try out, or perhaps they were entirely new, and of course find the one change we vehemently disagreed with. Such was the DotA way.

Now with Dota 2 that has started to become a tradition with a much, much larger audience. And I have to say, it’s kinda cool to see how far this custom map for Warcraft III has come.

Here’s a quick little block of text explaining one of the biggest changes that will come with the Rekindling Soul update that brings Dota 2’s game version up to the 6.82 map.

It is a momentous day in the world of Dota, the likes of which have not been seen for ages, for now it is proven that even the land itself is not above being modified. Along with an assortment of other changes, it’s moving day for Roshan. Though don’t worry, he hasn’t gone far. His pit now looks out upon the river from a different angle, and nearby paths have been rerouted around his legendary den. Though his location may have changed, you can count on him defending his territory with the same murderous energies. These changes, along with many more, can be found throughout the battlefield.

Included in the new update, besides changes to the map layout itself, is a new rune, a new item (that finally gives Vanguard a late-game purpose), some reworked heroes as well as massive reworks and tweaks to other heroes, items and even damage types. There’s a lot, and a lot more in this update. You can check out the full changelog by clicking this bold blue text.

If we could quickly take a moment to analyse those changes, a lot of them make perfect sense with regards to how the current meta works; it seems also that much statistical analysis was carried out after TI4 and the Dota 2 devs really want to avoid overly easy, one-sided fights. Further, they’re trying to mitigate fountain spawn-killing, which is a great step in the right direction. I question why a concede or similar function is still not a thing but otherwise these changes look solid. Bloodseeker in particular definitely needed a rework.

How do you feel about the new patch? It’s not out yet for us but when it is, have a sample of it and come back here to let us know what you think.

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eGamer Podcast #99: Xbot4 Fanboys http://egmr.net/2014/09/egamer-podcast-99-xbot-4-fanboys/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/egamer-podcast-99-xbot-4-fanboys/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 09:00:32 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157490 Recorded: 23 September 2014 Welcome to episode ninety-nine of the eGamer Podcast, now with a billion percent more fanboys, derps and broken recordings. We’re also woefully understaffed for this episode […]

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Recorded: 23 September 2014

Welcome to episode ninety-nine of the eGamer Podcast, now with a billion percent more fanboys, derps and broken recordings. We’re also woefully understaffed for this episode so how it’s even out is a miracle of Destiny Jesus level. But it’s out, so sit back, relax, pull out your favourite beverage and be sure to spit it out in disgust at some point while listening to this latest episode which we’re calling the best drivel since the state of the nation address earlier this year.

Topics discussed this week include Destiny’s late-game content, sensitive gamers and PS4 vs Xbox One.

Here are the shownotes for this week’s episode:

  • Let’s take a moment to talk about games from 2008!
  • Do you get scared playing BioShock?
  • Why did Dead Space 2 change things up so much from the first one?
  • Cavie stopped playing Dead Space after a point.
  • Is horror gaming making its return?
  • We take a moment to get existential.
  • A player finally reached level 30 in Destiny!
  • We criticise Destiny a little less this week.
  • Why have only PS4 owners read our Xbox One review?
  • Is the internet sensitivity turned up high of late?
  • What do gamers really want to hear from writers?
  • Warning ahead of a possible bad game is not negativity, it’s cautioning.
  • We take a moment to discuss GamerGate and NotYourShield’s origins.
  • Random disconnect of doom!
  • We answer your questions.
  • We share the things we feel are most next-gen in the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to the RSS feed so you never miss an episode. Enjoy.

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | RSS

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Review: Forza Horizon 2 Is A European Racing Spectacle http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-forza-horizon-2-european-racing-spectacle/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-forza-horizon-2-european-racing-spectacle/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 07:30:07 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157503 Visit review on site for scoring. When Forza Horizon first released to the world a few years ago, it didn’t really make much of a splash. We loved it and […]

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Visit review on site for scoring.

When Forza Horizon first released to the world a few years ago, it didn’t really make much of a splash. We loved it and so did a lot of others but for the most part, the Xbox 360 exclusive flew (drove?) low under the radar, despite being a solid racing title. An arcade spinoff to the much more serious Forza Motorsport series, Horizon was a game that had a decidedly refreshing air of newness to it albeit one that hinted of a developer, in newcomer Playground Games, that was still coming to terms with exactly how to develop racing games on Xbox 360.

In actual fact, almost the opposite is true because Playground Games comprises a slew of veteran racing game developers. And so with Forza Horizon 2, now that (we expect) they are familiar not just with the hardware on offer and the racing model in play but also each other, we now get to see them really come out of their racing shells and produce the kind of quality that stands head and shoulders (there’s a car pun here somewhere) above all others, edging ahead into the lead (we told you).

Forza Horizon 2 is quite simply the best arcade racer that we have had the opportunity to play.

Let’s start at the beginning and talk about the style and setting of Forza Horizon 2. The game has moved away from the North American ‘Horizon’ setting of the first game and now takes place in Europe, with certain locations from France and Italy used as the playground (no pun intended) for the open world that you will traverse throughout the length of this game. The game’s story basically follows that the Horizon festival has moved away from North America and into Europe for the first time and you have been invited, as a personal friend of the organiser Ben, to participate. Kinda sounds like a Make Games SA storyline in the making… The European setting brings with it the likes of the French and Italian countrysides together with a bunch of new ‘radio stations’ that form the game’s much more chilled soundtrack, as compared to the first game which was quite dubstep-heavy, while maintaining a lot of the party atmosphere from the first game.

That’s more or less all you really need to know about what’s going on and the rest of the game is a rollercoaster ride of arcade racing, including regular Championship races such as Circuits, Sprints and the like, as well as a whole bunch more. Returning from the first game are Barn Finds, Rival Races, Head-to-Heads, and Invitational events that have you racing such things as airplanes, fighter jets and more. But now there’s even more to do, with a new race type called Cross Country which literally tasks you with traversing the land away from roads and is easily some of the most fun racing I’ve had in years. There is also the Horizon Bucket List, which presents you with a series of challenges that you must accomplish in specific cars. Then there’s the new Car Meet mode, which lets you take your car online in a similar fashion to Forzavista, allowing you to compare your car to that of others, and purchase the ones you like.

If you think that isn’t enough, there is a myriad of Championships on offer based on the type of car you’re driving. See, one of the big problems with many racing titles is that you could take a Ford Fiesta ST, pit it against a Porsche 918 Spyder, and have a fair contest. Realistically, that’s not really the case. So to deal with this, Forza Horizon 2 groups cars according to their racing style. For example, that Fiesta ST is a Hot Hatch, whereas the 918 Spyder would probably be a Super GT, and so on for each car available to you in the game. This means that you will never have the situation where you in your BMW Z4 are racing against a Ford Mustang, except for course in free roam where racing rules don’t really count anyway. As a result of this change, each racing style — including the Forza Horizon DLC Rally style — has its own Championship which effectively takes the amount of unique races you can enter all the way up to around seven hundred. That’s right, you’re going to be playing this game for a while.

Thankfully you aren’t really forced into most of these Championships with the choice being left entirely up to you, where you’d like to compete and how much of it you’d like to do, and the Horizon Finale, the game’s closest thing to a story conclusion, only requires a handful of completed Championships in order for you to access it. Afterwards, you’re free to get to the rest if you so desire. The result is a whole hell of a lot of racing to do, and the game leaving the choice mostly in your hands. It might overwhelm some arcade gamers but any petrolhead is going to be in heaven, for a very long time.

And I use the word “heaven” for a very specific reason because if you are a petrolhead then Forza Horizon 2 will be nothing short of idyllic to you. This game will, at the risk of hyperbole, take your breath away. Make no mistake, it is staggeringly, ridiculously, unbelievably beautiful. It’s a pity that it’s a racer because it means not as many people will get to enjoy just how beautiful it is, because this is easily the most visually impressive game I have seen on any console, ever. Perhaps it being a racing game helps, because it means less coding of some other aspect. I’m not entirely sure. All I do know is that from the game world to the cars themselves to some new additions I’ll get to in a moment, this game is just retardedly gorgeous.

One of those new additions is a dynamic weather system which together with the day-night cycle already implemented in the Horizon games, creates a very believable and realistic world that feels about as alive as you are. The sun shines, then clouds gather and it starts to rain, then a veil of mist and fog settles on the land before the sun finally shows its bright face again; night or day. Playing this game during the night in the rain was an exercise in surrealism for me, I had to actually pause at one point to catch my breath. And I’m not even kidding about that. Oh and if you care about it, the game runs at the full 1080p.

Now sure, a game can look pretty and have a lot to do but if it’s not fun then there really isn’t a point to any of it. We learned as much from Need for Speed: Rivals, last year. Thankfully Forza Horizon 2 gets around this in two ways. For one, it gives you the impression of honestly, sincerely wanting you to just enjoy cars. In that way, it respects you as the player and allows you as much freedom of exploration and control as you would like. Want to just drive around for a while? Go for it. Want to power through the Championships? By all means. Want to spend your time with friends online? You’re welcome to do so. Every single thing to do in this game empowers you as the player and allows you overall progression.

The second thing that it does, and it’s something different for a few reasons, is that it uses Forza Motorsport 5’s Drivatar system to brilliant effect. At the beginning of the game, Forza Horizon 2 boldly makes the claim that there is no AI in the game. That’s… mostly true. See they took out the artificial intelligence and replaced it with a sort-of virtual intelligence that uses Drivatars to populate the game, instead. If you missed the explanation of what Drivatars are, what the Forza games do is that they track your racing style and behaviour and then put that into a cpu-controlled racer with your name. That racer will then mimic the way you drive, leading to it being called a Drivatar. As a result of this, you will constantly find yourself running into and even racing both people on your friends list and random people using Xbox LIVE. Effectively, this leads to more challenging races and something that feels a lot more personal and involving than something that only used traditional AI racers, or: Every other racing series.

I do question how this mechanic would function offline, though. I didn’t get a chance to try it out for myself because the first time I started it up I was online and going offline thereafter did not remove the Drivatars present within my game, but what would happen if someone started it up offline for the first time and kept it that way? Although perhaps importantly, would it matter at all in today’s internet age? I’ll leave this one up to you to decide. Either way, it’s still a cool feature to have and it works really well in keeping you racing, wanting to compare with your friends and just beat them at everything.

Speaking of which, let’s take a moment to talk about progression in Forza Horizon 2. There is a lot of it. Okay we’re done. Wait, you want me to elaborate? Okay sure. Everything you do in Forza Horizon 2 is tracked, whether it’s your average speed, number of roads travelled, highest speed travelled, and more. Everything. Seriously, there is a mind-boggling amount of stats-tracking present in this game. Further, certain skill actions in the game net you points; stuff like going at high speed, narrowly avoiding traffic, and drafting opponents in races. These will accrue as you do them and if you can chain multiple skills together, you can get massive bonuses as a result. Leave them long enough and they will be ‘banked’ into your overall progress level, which then allows you to level up.

Upon levelling up, new to Forza Horizon 2, you can now spin a wheel for a lucky prize that either nets you various amounts of cash or a new car, or at other levels you are granted perks. These perks are minor and allow you such things as increased bonuses to certain skills, better chaining of those skills and a bunch of other odd little bonuses. It’s something that was sorely missing from the first game where there really wasn’t much of a point to levelling up; here it matters and has purpose because more levels means more cash, cars and perks.

If there are any criticisms to be found in the game, one of them is most certainly the GPS system which can be very helpful at times but at other times is just annoying. See in the first game it was just there to tell you where to go, like a traditional navigator. Problem is, you didn’t always follow the route of the road. So naturally I turned it off and forgot it existed. In Forza Horizon 2 you’re sometimes going off the beaten path entirely, and so the GPS gets confused to shit. Further, there are entire sections where you could just power through but the GPS is busy blaring at you to turn left or whatever. I could turn it off, sure, but then I would lose the new feature added to the GPS, which works with Kinect. In Forza Horizon 2 you can talk to the GPS and ask it for some valuable information about a place, or ask it to target the nearest race, and so on. Handy feature to use, but it means having to tolerate getting the wrong directions sometimes. So… yeah.

Thing is, it’s literally just that. I mean, in the quick rating above I added in under Things Hated that all of it could get a bit long in the tooth for your typical filthy casual gamer. It could. They might get annoyed by the amount of racing there is to do here. I’m thinking of it from the perspective of the type of person who would purchase an arcade racer; if however they’re even remotely into cars (and why wouldn’t they be if they purchased this?) then I expect no problems would occur at all. And so really, it’s just me trying to be nitpicky because I have to be, for the purposes of review. If not for these minor bugbears then Forza Horizon 2 would be the perfect arcade racer, or at least, the closest we’ve come thus far.

I remember playing the likes of Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit, racing through canyons in my Diablo and being in awe of how pretty it all was. I remember also, playing Need for Speed: Porsche 2000 and wondering it the Cote d’Azur was really as beautiful in real life as it was in the game — for the record, this is also my all-time favourite racer. I remember playing Race Driver: GRiD for the first time and trying my best to figure out how it ran so damn smoothly. Forza Horizon 2 has, for the first time since I played the aforementioned games, elicited those sorts of feelings within me. Enough said?

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But Why Does Emma Stone Think Game Of Thrones Is A Joke? http://egmr.net/2014/09/emma-stone-think-game-thrones-joke/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/emma-stone-think-game-thrones-joke/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 06:00:12 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157448 Bit of a sensational title but it’s what she said! You guys remember Emma Stone, right? Big green eyes. Soft brown hair. Various other objectifying traits but mostly, Gwen Stacy […]

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Bit of a sensational title but it’s what she said!

You guys remember Emma Stone, right? Big green eyes. Soft brown hair. Various other objectifying traits but mostly, Gwen Stacy from the Amazing Spider-Man travesties movies. RIP.

She recently gave an MTV interview as part of promoting her upcoming film Magic in the Moonlight, and was asked a series of ‘this or that’ type questions. Examples include whether she says ‘gif’ or ‘jif’, whether she prefers skinny dipping or never nude, and even whether she’s more Woody Allen or Woody Harrelson. Silly questions but nonetheless entertaining fluff for the purposes of the interview.

Perhaps the most curious one was when she was asked if she prefers Game of Thrones to Orange is the New Black, and she said the latter because Game of Thrones is a “joke show” to her. Now of course, she didn’t say it maliciously and she admitted to not having watched the show, but rather she just said that when she saw advertisements for it she couldn’t take it seriously at all.

I know how she feels. If I told anyone, ever that the protagonist of the first book/season dies before the end, and then the heads keep on rolling from there, they would probably laugh and call me a masochist for enjoying such a thing. Still, it’s quite a funny interview to watch and we thought we’d share it since today being a public holiday, hopefully all the srsbsns can take a back seat for a day. Hopefully, internet? Hopefully…

Emma Stone remains as charming and delightful as ever; equally as much as her Peter Parker counterpart, Andrew Garfield. I loved those two together. *cries*

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Share Your Early Xbox One Impressions Here http://egmr.net/2014/09/share-early-xbox-one-impressions/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/share-early-xbox-one-impressions/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 09:45:56 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157451 Hey South African gamers. Did you purchase an Xbox One today? Are you excited beyond belief to try out your shiny new console? Did you squeal with said excitement while […]

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Hey South African gamers. Did you purchase an Xbox One today? Are you excited beyond belief to try out your shiny new console? Did you squeal with said excitement while opening the box upon arriving home?

Oh sure the PC Master Race will go on about how their platform is superior, and the PlayStation 4 faithful will never relent about their console of choice being better, and hey the world will even make their jokes about system updates and how you’ll only get to play any games next month, but you don’t care. You’ve got a brand new Xbox One and you ain’t afraid to show it.

Achievement Unlocked!

You’re in for a crazy ride that you will try (and try and try) to explain to your friends is something entirely different to anything you’ve experienced before. But they won’t understand. They don’t want to understand. They just want to be told, rather than discover for themselves, and so they’ll never quite know what you know. But that’s okay because you do. And you know your life is better for it.

So go ahead and share your Xbox One purchases and initial impressions in the comments below. Go one better and post pictures of the new console as it’s set up. Here are a few tweets from my timeline today, to get things going.

Bonus:

Your turn. Comments section. Have at it!

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Our 99th Podcast Records Tonight — Ask Us Things http://egmr.net/2014/09/99th-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/99th-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 09:00:28 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157362 Before someone accuses us of dwelling in the past, we at EGMR are a team of multifaceted, multisupportive (it’s not even a word but go with it okay?) writers, who […]

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Before someone accuses us of dwelling in the past, we at EGMR are a team of multifaceted, multisupportive (it’s not even a word but go with it okay?) writers, who are as much into hockey as we are gaming, and we really like that Ronaldo guy and adore how he helped Chelsea with the quadruple in 1999 before moving to Barcelona the following year to play his hockey alongside Zidane. In other news, we’re recording episode ninety-nine of the eGamer Podcast tonight and we’d like you to get involved!

All you have to do, and it really is this simple, is ask us questions. Think up anything you’d like whether it pertains to videogames, movies, comic books, anything really. Ask us about the Xbox One, or about the new series that are coming out in the next few weeks. Scroll down to the comments and give us your best questions.

Then be sure to check out either the site, our Libsyn page, iTunes or our RSS feed later in the week for the podcast, which will have all the answers and more. Tell your friends!

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Xbox One Review: Is It More Fun On Xbox One? http://egmr.net/2014/09/xbox-one-review-fun-xbox-one/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/xbox-one-review-fun-xbox-one/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:00:41 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157355 By the time you read this, the Xbox One will have officially launched in South Africa. It’s only taken a year and that’s perfect because it means patient South Africans […]

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By the time you read this, the Xbox One will have officially launched in South Africa. It’s only taken a year and that’s perfect because it means patient South Africans who really wanted an Xbox One are now able to pick it up and actually play some proper games rather than waiting around for many months in anticipation of something decent to play. That or, like thousands of others, you simply gave up the wait and moved on to a PlayStation 4. Hopefully your impatience won’t come back to bite you in the ass at some point… regardless, we’re not really here today to discuss those who have their sights set on a particular console, but rather those of you who haven’t but still want to pick up either a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One — cue the PC master race. To that extent, you may check out our PlayStation 4 review and then give this Xbox One review a read, and hopefully we can help you to make up your mind regarding your brand new now-current-generation console purchase.

With the release of the Xbox One (local-focussed video above) Microsoft are gunning a few key aspects of the gaming experience, specifically gaming, multiplayer, entertainment, and innovation. They’re calling it an all-in-one entertainment system and while we in South Africa will have to wait for a while until we can enjoy it to its fullest potential, we still get the likes of gaming, BluRay, streaming and so on. Added to that, Skype and more using the Kinect sensor module which, this time, is actually pretty darn great.

The priority of this review is to help readers make an informed purchasing decision. To that extent, we’re going to be discussing a few key components of the Xbox One in the relevant amount of detail, and then leaving it up to you to decide how you feel about it. However if you’re reading this for some critique and would rather have some handy tips and tricks for using your Xbox One in South Africa then we’ve got you covered on that front as well. Further, if you’re reading this review to find out about the games then we’ve even got you covered there also. Here is a full list of game reviews as well as that tips and tricks article we’ve mentioned, which we’ll link down at the bottom as well, together with a quick and easy TL;DR section, just in case:

If you’re purchasing an Xbox One, first and foremost you are going to really want to ensure you have the internet capabilities for it. Oh it’s definitely functional offline, but should you opt to go online you can expect massive game updates and so your best bet is uncapped internet. The very basic uncapped is just fine, but those updates will set you back some. The local Xbox guys are working to ensure we won’t suffer too much with this. Another handy tip for your initial purchase is to acquire a two-pin adapter since the console runs on a two-pin plug. You might also want to pick up some rechargeable AA batteries, but if you have an Xbox 360 then you already know this by now.

Let’s now talk about the particular components that come with the Xbox One, starting with the main unit itself.

 

Design

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The Xbox One, for all intents and purposes, it has to be said, looks like a retro VCR. It’s large, it’s clunky, it’s probably not a good idea to place it vertically. You’re going to need a large space for it, which would be fine if you were replacing your decoder with it but just for the moment since that’s not possible you should ensure you have the space for it. Within the box you’ll find the Xbox One unit, an Xbox One controller, the Kinect sensor module if you purchased a Kinect bundle, a power brick with two-pin power cable, some batteries for your controller and a voice chat headset (the helicopter headset you know and love from the Xbox 360, more or less). Check out the unboxing video above if you need any more information on each of these components.

Initial setup is handled by creating an Xbox account, or signing into one if it already exists. At this point your account will either be created or imported to Xbox One. The Xbox One works effortlessly via WiFi so you needn’t trouble yourself with running extra cables. At present there is quite a massive initial update before you can run the console but the local Xbox guys assure us the console will work offline with just a minor update, at retail. You are then presented with the Xbox One dashboard, which we’ll get to later. From here on, you can choose to play a game or whatever else.

The Xbox One’s main unit is large, as we’ve said. It’s also quite confusingly glossy, and this ends up attracting dust like you cannot believe. Expect to be wiping it off at least once a week, as a result. Further, it has a lot of vents for fans and cooling. Now one of the cool things about the Xbox One — although not necessarily something Microsoft would particularly encourage — is that you can quite easily open up and replace various parts including the fans, which has some added customisability if you so desire. Unfortunately because of the vent placements it means that anything near the Xbox One is going to run hot, and because of the weight of the unit, it’s also going to cause some slight bending on weaker stands. The power brick is exquisitely silent this time around, and allows for a really cool alternative mode called Instant-On.

Think of Instant-On like a Standby mode for your console. In this mode it will power off but not entirely, meaning you can switch it on with voice commands, it starts up faster, and it can download and install updates in the background while the console is not in use. Very handy, and a recommended feature from us. But if you’re paranoid about it, or live in a volatile area then perhaps you’d rather properly turn it off. The Xbox One does allow for this as well. But it’s very boring…

Finally, the 500GB hard drive is going to be filled up really quickly. Around ten games and you’re done. Thankfully the console does allow for external hard drives, so perhaps consider getting a 3TB external, connecting it up and just forgetting about storage issues for a while.

 

Controller

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Perhaps the greatest addition to the Xbox One is the controller. The Xbox One controller looks stylistically similar to the Xbox 360 controller, which was regarded as near-perfect by almost all gamers ever (gross exaggeration but roll with it), but is slightly smaller and more refined this time around. It’s got sleeker triggers and bumpers to fit the shape of the controller, which has the double effect of making it feel smoother and sharper but also making it a little tougher to nail a button press. This is easily made up for by the addition of haptic feedback (vibration) on the triggers and bumpers now, which also have a glossy black finish to them that really make them stand out on the controller. The analogues too are slightly smaller, and those little plastic indents are entirely removed, this time in favour of a tesselated outer edge with a smooth flat inner area at the centre of the analogue stick. The D-pad is also reworked, now properly old-school in its design and therefore finally functional as compared to the horrendous Xbox 360 D-pad. The rest is your typical Xbox fare, with the Start and Back buttons now replaced by other buttons that serve the same purposes anyway, and the Xbox Guide button moved slightly higher and functioning now in the same way that it did on the 360.

The Xbox One controller is powered by two AA batteries which, from personal use, lasted just over forty hours before finally giving up. Consider a pair of rechargeables or wait until the play and charge kit for the console is released; alternatively, purchase one of the upcoming Xbox One PC controllers (does that even make sense?) which have cables and so, don’t need batteries at all.

On the vibrating triggers, which is perhaps the biggest new addition, it’s tough to explain but once you’ve tried them out it’s as if you’ve realised something in your life was missing all this time and can never now go back to that previous existence, you know, now that you know better. Hopefully other games will take better advantage of this new function and we can get some shooters with haptic feedback on the triggers, or even just some unique indie games that do things their own way.

In all, the controller is a massive plus point and paradoxically, one of the biggest selling points of a console that is trying to sell controller-less motion control as part of the experience. It’s nevertheless a great fallback.

 

Dashboard

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The Xbox One’s dashboard works slightly differently to the Xbox 360’s dashboard in that it is a universal user interface. What do I mean by that? Well on the Xbox 360 the Dashboard was a home interface that went away when you started up a game or app. In order to get back to it, you needed to close that game or app. While in-game, a ‘guide’ would pop up if you pressed the Xbox Guide button on your controller, with some common functionality such as access to achievements, friends, messages and so on. The Xbox One’s dashboard is persistent. Regardless of what you’re doing with the console, it is always there.

Think of it like a frame. It doesn’t matter what the picture is, the frame is always there. So regardless of what you’re doing, you will always have full access to the dashboard at the touch of a button. Now this has two massive (massive) benefits to you as the user. For one, it means that everything is truly connected. For example, you can literally pause a game you’re playing, open up Skype and talk to friends, then go and watch a movie on your console, then when the movie is done simply resume the game you’re playing and it picks up where you left off. For two, there is no longer such a thing as ‘quitting’ a game.

Don’t get us wrong, you can ‘quit’ a game, but you do so by choice, not because you’re forced to. Let’s run a scenario for a second here. You’re playing Forza 5. Your phone rings and it’s your totally real and not-at-all-non-existent partner who wants to come over for some sexytime. You turn the Xbox off but without saving your progress even though you’re already mid-race but the power of boners is stronger (no pun intended). Then after sexytime, you switch your Xbox One back on and immediately resume your race that you were busy with previously. Right where you left off. And this works for multiple games too, meaning you and your partner could have had a vigorous… co-op session in Dead Rising 3 and your Forza 5 progress would not have been removed. Games, and everything else on this console, work in ‘states’ which mean that you never have to ‘quit’ a game ever again, unless you want to.

There is however one massive drawback to the way this new console is designed. You have to install pretty much everything now. Granted it’s the same on PlayStation 4 without, I expect, the sexy resume capabilities, but the install times on Xbox One are a bit longer and you’re going to want to go offline to speed them up because if you don’t, the Xbox One will try to download patches, updates and such, and what could be a ten minute install could take upwards of a day depending on your line speed. We’re not even kidding about this. Install your games offline first.

Another aspect that requires some discussion is the new ability to ‘snap’ certain apps such as Skype, Achievements and more. Snapping effectively creates a small picture to the right of the screen where something else shows, while you’re doing whatever you’re doing with the rest of the screen space. So for example you can play a game and just to the right, have the Achievements page snapped for reference, or have a Skype call snapped, and so on. It’s a really neat feature that has abundant uses depending on the type of functionality Xbox can provide with it in future. For now, it’s just really cool to have this functionality in place. Other options are available to you via the My Games and Apps section, which allows you to access not just your installed games but also a wide range of apps and snaps that include the Avatar Editor, Friends, Achievements, Messages and more. Some of these apps require first-time installs, others don’t.

All of this said, it has to be noted that the Xbox One’s dashboard is initially very clunky and confusing to use. It needs you to spend some time using it and customise it to your preferences. Initially you get three screens, namely Pins, Home and Store. Pins are where you will store your most-used apps. The Home page is what you might call the ‘main’ interface while the Store allows you access to the Xbox LIVE store, as the label might suggest. Configuring settings, navigating the various apps and everything else is something you will simply have to spend time doing and familiarising yourself with, and you still might be surprised by a thing or two. It would have been really great if Xbox considered this and threw in some tutorials.

 

Kinect

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Here’s perhaps the most contentious part of the review. Previously Kinect was considered to be something of a failed experiment. I have had a lot of experience with the old Kinect system as part of promotions and I can tell you that when it works, you’re going to mostly have an okay time, but when it refuses to play along then it’s about as useful as ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. This time around, however, the Kinect 2.0 is the bee’s knees. I said as much in a recent column wherein I praised the Kinect 2.0 for creating what I consider to be the fundamental point of inflection from which the Xbox One starts to feel like a suitably ‘next-gen’ console. Which is to say, unique.

To reiterate: The Kinect 2.0 transforms the Xbox One into something transcendental. No longer is it just a games console but suddenly it’s a multimedia device that you can have a conversation with. You can walk into your home after a long day at work and using nothing but your voice, start up the console, have it identify you and sign you in automatically, turn on a game, check out who’s playing and even start up a multiplayer match. You can switch off your console without so much as touching it or the controller (hence my calling the sexiness of the controller paradoxical) and then you can use that beautiful resume capability to pick up where you left off another time, without ever touching the console or your controller but rather using just your voice, or gestures if you prefer remaining silent. This is next-gen.

Added to that, the Kinect 2.0 camera is a full HD receiver of images meaning that you can throw away that shitty old webcam and just Skype your relatives overseas using your Xbox One instead. And you can do it while playing games, as well. There are full tutorials on the console, which detail how you can get the most out of the Kinect 2.0’s video and voice capabilities.

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The voice recognition does need to be set up initially, before it will work properly. This is probably why some might decry it as still shit; they just didn’t take a moment to get it working in the first place, the haters. The calibration is quick and easy so just get it out of the way on day one. If you live in a noisy area, or like me you have dogs that are afraid to stop barking in case they forget how to do it, you’re probably going to have some troubles here and there; still it’s nothing on the level of the old Kinect and it’s still functional 90% of the time.

When it does fail, it’s typically in glorious fashion. For example I once asked my Xbox to ‘Snap Achievements’ and instead it closed my game and took me to ‘My Games and Apps’. Nothing a quick ‘Go back’ couldn’t fix, but I just struggled to understand how Kinect heard what it did. Another time while playing Dead Rising 3, my dog barked and the game heard ‘Pause’ somehow. So it’s not without faults but again, they’re so few and far between that it rarely ever becomes a point of concern assuming you can speak clearly enough that the console will understand your voice.

At an R8000 asking price, I cannot say that every gamer who buys an Xbox One should buy the Kinect version. It is a ridiculous asking price and you would be justified in saying no to it. That said, if you can afford it then I would urge each and every Xbox One purchaser to consider it because it really does transform the Xbox One experience into something that cannot fully be explained. It’s one of those things that, I can talk it up for days and days on end but nobody will really get it, or they’ll dismiss it as blabbering and silly talk, but the moment you get your hands on it and try it out for yourself, I guarantee you will be sold for life. It’s that impressive to behold. Unfortunately, it just cannot be properly conveyed with words.

My final attempt at doing so: The only time I ever touch my controller is when I’m in the game and ready to play, and when I stop, I go back to not touching my controller. Saves battery life, prolongs controller lifespan, just feels so fluid and cool. I am Tony Stark and the Xbox One is my silent J.A.R.V.I.S.

 

Our Concerns

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The Xbox One has released here in South African nearly a year after the PlayStation 4 released here. Added to that the dick-move that is Ster Kinekor’s PS4 specials currently out, and you’ve got a console squarely on the back foot. It’s got a lot to prove and without the added TV and streaming functionality you’re not getting everything the console promises to overseas audiences as well, so the Xbox One might not seem like as attractive a feature as the PlayStation 4 currently is, locally. Add this to my firm belief that an overwhelming majority of South Africans are blindly faithful Sony supporters (purely because of the PS2’s runaway success) and the Xbox One really has to pull out all the stops to make a solid impression locally. And it might not yet be up to the task, especially with that Kinect bundled asking price.

Another concern is that of the social experience. The Xbox One is trying very hard to be a more social console, allowing you to ‘favourite’ some of your friends and see an activity feed or your friends’ activities, even telling you what popular games people are currently playing and showing you the ‘reputation’ ratings of others so you know who to stay away from. But away from your Friends menu a lot of it isn’t currently translating in the same way as the #PS4Share and Twitch streaming are. There is functionality in place but the Xbox One never pushes you to share or engage that functionality, and could well fall behind as a social platform with regards to the outside world. It still has Skype and regular party chat features and so is vastly superior in terms of voice chat and just ‘hanging out with friends’ but it’s going to need more if it wants to compete with the power of social networking on PS4.

One last concern that is particularly relevant to South African fanbases is that of the bandwidth usage and basic internet functionality. Africa does not have an Azure cloud server, which has already caused us to miss out on an official TitanFall release here. How many more games will suffer this very fate, and if we do get them how will it affect our online experiences? This remains to be seen. If you don’t have an uncapped internet line, then how are you going to manage the 40GB+ Games on Demand downloads? It’s a lot to consider if you aren’t ready for it.

 

Conclusion

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Microsoft has put itself firmly on the back foot by releasing the Xbox One as a slightly more costly option, slightly later and in fewer regions than Sony’s PlayStation 4. What does it mean for us in South Africa? Well besides getting the console almost a full year late it means that what little support the console had locally is now further dwindled by all those who’ve since moved on to bluer pastures. Still, the local Xbox team are trying and they even have a competition running for entrants to win an Xbox One.

What we can say for sure is that the Xbox One, with Kinect 2.0 and its new controller and dashboard functionality, certainly feels like a new and fresh experience, but mixing in familiar elements from what we already know and love. And so we think the future is bright for the Xbox One. Certainly more so once some of the kinks are worked out, and we can get some local TV support for the thing. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or you feel there’s anything we’ve missed out. And go ahead and tell us if you’ll be picking up this console any time soon.

Here’s that list again, of related reading including an ‘everything you need to know’ regarding the console’s local launch, as well as reviews for all the launch titles.

TL;DR version for n00bs

The Xbox One is the closest thing to a true ‘next-gen’ experience that we’ve seen so far. The mixture of functional Kinect voice and motion controls, the persistent capability of the new dashboard that allows for resuming without ever needing to quit or start up a game, the sexy new controller with vibrating triggers and sleeker design, and the customisability of its parts including the option for added external storage as necessary, make it a splendid console for not just gaming but all sorts of media consumption including video, streaming and more.

It is unfortunately held back by a lack of social functionality at present, ridiculously large (and long) install sizes and updates that will consume your bandwidth if you’re not on uncapped, and finally a very convoluted user interface at first. Still, none of this really hinders the core experience and the pros certainly outweigh the cons. It’s just a case of whether the Sony supporters are willing to actually see that or not.

Once again to emphasise, if you can afford it then definitely consider the Kinect because it transforms the Xbox One experience into something on its own level of interactivity, and makes a joke out of every other gaming platform out there, with its hands-free capabilities that make you feel as if you’re living your life as part of a sci-fi movie. It cannot fully be explained without experiencing it for yourself, and anyone who decries it is probably just hating, or has had an oddly inferior experience. But likely they just haven’t tried it for themselves. Own it if you can afford it.

Check out the links above for information regarding tips, tricks and more, as well as reviews for launch window titles.

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Review: Forza Motorsport 5 Is The New Pole Position For Simulation Racers http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-forza-motorsport-5-new-pole-position-racers/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-forza-motorsport-5-new-pole-position-racers/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:00:00 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156851 Visit review on site for scoring. Meet Forza Motorsport 5. It is quite simply the best racing experience for simulators out there right now, and that’s really all you need […]

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Meet Forza Motorsport 5. It is quite simply the best racing experience for simulators out there right now, and that’s really all you need to know. But then that’s quite a bold claim to make in a world with the likes of Gran Turismo, Need for Speed and other such titles out there, so how about we take a few minutes to tell you why this is the best racing experience for simulators out there right now. In racing titles you typically get two types of racers, namely simulation and arcade. Sometimes you get hybrid racers that are mix between the two, the likes of Race Driver: GRiD and such. But for the most part, they tend to tip in either direction. Forza’s ‘Motorsport’ series is the serious simulation racer of the series, and now in its fifth iteration it is better than ever before.

Let’s begin with the most obvious thing that you will see when you start up the game: It is visually gorgeous. Now that’s not an exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination; you might have heard talk of how Xbox One titles don’t do 1080p 60fps and we’re inclined to believe that it does matter to some extent (although not nearly to the levels of unplayable that the internet seems to think) and so you can be happy to know that Forza Motorsport 5 does in fact run at that ‘Goldilocks setting’ so to speak (I literally just made up that phrase now). When you first start up the game, I challenge you to not let your jaw drop at the visuals on offer. It is stupefyingly pretty, and the cars look about as photo-realistic as it gets.

The tracks aren’t that bad either, although they do leave a little to be desired. Some tracks are obviously just bland by design, even in real life, so fair enough. But more than that, crowd animations are still glorified sprites and on next-gen that’s just not forgiveable anymore, but it’s a thing we’re willing to accept if it allows for the level of detail offered in terms of the cars and the rest of the tracks themselves. On that note, we’re once again spoiled by many real-life locations that are beautifully rendered on the Xbox One.

But none of this is really a surprise, right? People have been shouting from rooftops about how splendid the game looks so rather than spend more time faffing about that, let’s talk about the real meat of the game, and how all of it feels. Starting with the Drivatar. See in Forza Motorsport 5, your performances are recorded and then a special AI-controlled driver is created in your honour. This Drivatar will then race in the events of others online, and you will earn rewards based on how your Drivatar performs. Likewise, other users’ Drivatars will race in your game and compete against you. The result, assuming you have the online capabilities for allow for it, is that you get much more competitive and frantic racing than simply tuning AI (where sometimes it’s too easy and other times they obliterate you on the track) and of course, you get to brag to your friends about beating them in races, without even having raced them.

Or you could take it online and race them, although if you’re straying away from the main racing mode then you’re going to have a bad time. In Forza Motorsport 5, most of the focus is on your career mode. In fact, the game pretty much automatically starts you up into the career mode the first time you play it. There is multiplayer and splitscreen, as well as a quick race option, but all of it relies on what cars you’ve unlocked in the career mode, effectively forcing you to play through it. To the game’s credit, the career mode really is where it’s at, with an abundance of racing and a ridiculously varied amount of racing disciplines complete with free cars as prizes for winning events, so you never really need to spend a lot in order to unlock most of the cars in the game.

That said, it is still frustrating to want to play a quick race or splitscreen with a friend and then either ‘rent’ a car (which grants you no experience for that race) or purchase the vehicle you want to try out, with money you earned in your career. It’s as if the game was designed around either the career mode for those who care about racing, or copious amounts of microtransactions for those who want a more casual experience. If you’re looking for a casual racing game, Forza Motorsport 5 can keep you sated to some extent but you’re not going to have nearly as much freedom as you might have thought from reading the number of cars available, on the game’s box.

Now if you’re here for the long run then this game certainly caters to you, offering up all sorts of events including circuits, sprints, drifts and more. It’s also got a massive variety of racing classes including tuners, sports cars and even SUVs. There’s just a mindnumbing amount of racing on offer in this game and it will very likely keep you sated for months of religious playtime.

If you’re a fan of the Top Gear television series (the British version, or: the good one) then you’re going to feel right at home here, with narrations by the Top Gear team as well as silly invitational events every now and then, such as a race early on which puts you on the Top Gear Test Track and tasks you with winning a race through what is imagined to be London’s streets, and it’s basically just a whole lot of in-game props; things like trash cans, pylons and tyres, all laid out on the track for you to try and drive through. It’s quite hilarious and serves as a welcome and refreshing break from the racing action of more serious events.

All of this adds up to a marathon of racing, which when you throw in the visual fidelity on offer really makes for the most intricate and detailed simulation racing experience currently available on any platform. Perhaps Project CARS or something else comes along and does better but for the moment, Forza Motorsport 5 sits comfortably on the throne of realistic racing. Throw in the feel of using the Xbox One controller in this game and you’ve got something truly unique and special. Oh, about that!

Let’s take a moment to appreciate haptic feedback on the triggers because it is one of the coolest additions to the Xbox One’s new controller. How it works is, you know those triggers you get on the Xbox controllers? On PlayStation they’re called L2 and R2 but on Xbox they’re LT and RT, where T stands for triggers. The controller’s triggers now have the ability to vibrate. Might seem like a really silly and weird addition until you actually try it out.

In practice it’s one of the coolest feelings ever, because it allows you to really feel where all of the downforce is going while driving your vehicle and it adds an extra dimension to racing. I cannot wait to see this functionality in action elsewhere but for racing titles… I don’t really know how to explain it, it’s kind of like describing colours to a blind person, you really just have to try it out for yourself to understand why it’s as great as it is. The best way to perhaps say it is, imagine you were floating everywhere you went. It might feel a lot smoother but you didn’t really know you were moving until you looked around. Vibrations on the controller’s triggers are like footsteps that you feel when you walk. Easily taken for granted because you can feel them, but try asking someone who can no longer walk, how it feels to not be able to feel their legs anymore. It’s that sort of thing; like discovering a limb you never knew you could use or something.

Bad analogies aside, it really works well and almost excuses the lack of Kinect voice controls in the game, with Kinect’s only contribution being a weird head-tilt kind of thing that only really works in certain situations anyway. Basically as you tilt your head in real life, the game’s camera mimics your movement. It’s a silly addition if you ask me, and entirely superfluous to your enjoyment of the game.

The only other complaint I have of the game right now is that compared to Forza Motorsport 4 it is a little skimpy on content; however I’m going to argue that Forza Motorsport 4 was kind of an exercise in excess anyway, and that as a debut entry on Xbox One, Forza Motorsport 5 does more than adequately. It just feels like an equally complete package and with the additions of Drivatar and the haptic trigger feedback, actually transcends the feeling of racing, as compared to Forza Motorsport 4. It is just a better overall game, albeit one with a few flaws that cannot easily be ignored.

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Review: Dead Rising 3 Crafts Zombies Competently But Cannot Combine Fun http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-dead-rising-3-better-resident-evil-game-resident-evil-6/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-dead-rising-3-better-resident-evil-game-resident-evil-6/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 11:15:51 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157069 Visit review on site for scoring. [disembodied voice from the sky speaks] “Ooh, a menu with a whole bunch of voice controls and options for singleplayer and co-operative! Let’s not […]

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Visit review on site for scoring.

[disembodied voice from the sky speaks] “Ooh, a menu with a whole bunch of voice controls and options for singleplayer and co-operative! Let’s not mess about.” *tells the game to start the campaign*

Day 1, hour 1: The zombie invasion was quick and brutal. Within a day, entire cities were lost. After a week the entire world. Basically, The Walking Dead: California. Here I am, jumping (literally) right into the origin of the entire outbreak. Ground zero. I’ve just jumped a fence into the remains of Los Perdidos. My name is Nick Ramos and I have a really cool jacket. I’m not really sure what else I can say about myself just yet, apart from that I can pick up random things off the ground and eat them to gain health, then pick up random other things off the ground and use them either as weapons or tools, depending on what they are. Various tutorial screens are currently flashing in my peripheral vision and I don’t even know WTF is going on right now, because everything is really dark inside this place.

Day 1, hour 2: Outside. At last. I’m starting to feel a bit like Daryl Dixon, surrounded by zombies with nothing but a crossbow and a wrench. Everything is brown and washed out and suitably morbid, and the zombies are relentless but I’m always okay if I just keep moving and hit them from a distance. I’ve seen other survivors around but I can’t seem to save them without the zombies killing them first, no matter what I try. I’m so confused and I’m not getting much in the way of help, just a whole lot more of those tutorial screens. I’ve decided it’s time to just move on and ignore them, because right now I’m just wasting my precious tools in the effort.

Day 1, hour 4: Why does all of this feel like a Resident Evil game I used to play, but with a bit more action for effect? It feels as if I’m inside a videogame right now. Holy shit.

Day 1, hour 6: Finally found other survivors in an old, seemingly abandoned cafeteria. They seemed to know me. Expected my arrival, even. Some really dramatic stuff went down and two of them got taken by the zombies and eaten, although the from the looks of it they just screamed themselves dead because I saw no blood or actual guts or anything; just zombies all over them and screams. I’m not sure if it’s because of my eyes or because their animations in their final moments were awful. I’m still adjusting to this world I’ve awoken in. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? It’s a shame I feel no attachment to these characters, or there would be such dramatic tension; as it is, I’m just eager to move on with my life. Maybe I’m just an optimist.

Day 1, hour 7: I just discovered that I’m a mechanic! Naturally this discovery was followed by being asked to fix things; so I just found two items randomly, and combined them together. It worked, and I’m still pretending I meant that. It felt good McGuyvering things together to increase their effectiveness. Then a magical thing happened, and I saw this weird screen which, when I spent ‘points’ in it, I immediately felt stronger and better; as if I’d been upgraded or something. It was so empowering, and I felt such variety and choice. I even gained an almost miraculous ability to craft new and amazing things, the more ‘points’ I spent, which accrued by my killing zombies. The more I killed, the better for me.

Day 1, hour 10: The group and I went for a leisurely drive around the town after finding an abandoned vehicle. Surprisingly durable for something that handles like such ass. The town is actually quite large, but it was sectioned off and I presume that more of those areas will become open later, you know, once my friends are off my back and I can freely traverse it. It’s all so exciting!

Day 1, hour 12: After making a stop for repairs, I was encouraged by the other survivors to go for a walk around the town. I did so, and discovered a bunch of other things I could do, that I immediately engaged in. One of them led to quite an interesting little skirmish with a funny side character, one of many to inhabit this world, by my guess, while the other was a glorified fetch quest. I didn’t appreciate playing courier but I was duly rewarded for my efforts and so I didn’t really mind that much. Not long afterwards, I returned to the repair shop to discover that the town would be blown up in six days (yikes!) and I needed to get my friends and I the hell out of there. It was at this point that I discovered my innate ability for combining not just weapons, but vehicles. That’s right, vehicles. And so I set about building, in the space of a few hours, a new vehicle using two vehicles at my disposable. Dope, right?

Day 2, hour 1: A weird news report on the other side of the city reported on the zombies becoming fiercer and more powerful at night and just like that, the zombies were fiercer and more powerful at night. It was all quite surreal. Meanwhile my friends and I attempted to reach a quarantine area for extraction, only to find it overrun by bandits. After killing one of them (sorry for revealing this horrendous spoiler to my story) I felt a sense of guilt and disgust and told my friends that it was the first time I had killed a human. The truth though, was that I had already killed a human while going off on my side missions earlier on. What they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them, I supposed.

Day 2, hour 3: It’s so strange exploring this world when, whenever I’m driving around or just going for a stroll everything looks so dated and bland and I start to feel as if I need glasses but the moment I’m with my friends and interacting with anyone of import (typically in a strange sort of out-of-body motion) everything looks better and I’m reminded that my eyesight is fine. I wish I could explain it. I wish I could also explain why nobody’s bodies work as they should in the real world. Once again I’m starting to fear that all of this is a dream and I need to wake up before I suffer permanent brain damage from watching bodies animate in ways they just shouldn’t. I’ve taken to singing Miley Cyrus to myself to remain calm.

Day 2, hour 6: I’m discovering more and more that Los Perdidos is a rich and bountiful city that, perhaps because of how quickly the outbreak affected the city, has treasures everywhere. Consequently, it’s also the most overpopulated city I have ever beheld. I would drive past a road and obliterate every zombie there (upwards of 200 in some places) and then turn the corner and return to a road packed full of zombies again. Where are they coming from? Why are they all concentrated in certain areas? And why are none of them children?

Day 2, hour 8: Apparently every message that needs to be delivered to me, any discovery I make or anything I learn about this city I’ve found myself in, happens through these survivor friends of mine and news reports. I’m also finding that I’m regularly near televisions at just the right time to hear the news reports I need, in order to know what I must do next. It’s a very provident part of being in this predicament and I do hope that lovely news reporter doesn’t have a boyfriend…

Day 2, hour 12: I am now convinced that someone somewhere hates me. I get this massive playground to run around in, I’ve now mastered dealing with the zombies as well, and I even have some really kickass gear; but I can’t explore for shit anymore because of this goddamn timer. I only have a few days before the bomb goes off. How am I supposed to explore at leisure with that overhanging guilt besetting me? I either explore to my heart’s content and die, or just ignore everything and live. It is so frustrating. I hate you, God. I hate you, world. Why must you forsake me in this way? Fine, I’ll just go and help my friends then… and the hell with this diary.

[Ends]

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Has The Assassin’s Creed Movie Been Cancelled? http://egmr.net/2014/09/assassins-creed-movie-cancelled/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/assassins-creed-movie-cancelled/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:15:03 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157036 In physics the law of conservation of energy tells us that energy cannot be created or destroyed but rather changes from one form to another. In that way, life is […]

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In physics the law of conservation of energy tells us that energy cannot be created or destroyed but rather changes from one form to another. In that way, life is a give and take. Perhaps this is why on the same day that Fox confirmed the Deadpool movie the world has been clamouring for since that abhorrent Wolverine movie in 2008 (if not earlier), they also removed the release date for Assassin’s Creed.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything of substance about the Assassin’s Creed movie and if you consider actor and producer Michael Fassbender’s role in Fox’s other big upcoming movie X-Men: Apocalypse then it makes sense that they might table the Assassin’s Creed movie until a little further down the line. At present though, the date that was originally set for August 2015 is now very much a To Be Decided, putting the movie in its entirety in doubt. It could well have been cancelled.

In all honesty, I never much fancied an Assassin’s Creed movie anyway. I mean sure there’s a lot to do in this universe, and the games themselves are quite cinematic experiences, but I just can’t see an Assassin’s Creed movie being good; after all, when was the last time anyone enjoyed an Assassin’s Creed storyline? But I digress.

What do you think of this change of dates? Is the movie going to be cancelled, will production be halted until later, or is it going to go ahead and has Fox just changed the dates slightly but can’t announce it just yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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It’s Happening, Guys! Deadpool Movie Confirmed For 2016 http://egmr.net/2014/09/happening-guys-deadpool-movie-confirmed-2016/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/happening-guys-deadpool-movie-confirmed-2016/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:30:16 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=157033 Here’s something we never thought we would actually have the opportunity to say. It’s a great day for geeks the world over, as Fox has finally (finally) announced the Deadpool […]

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Here’s something we never thought we would actually have the opportunity to say. It’s a great day for geeks the world over, as Fox has finally (finally) announced the Deadpool movie that we’ve all been asking for for years (years) now.

20th Century Fox confirmed that they will be releasing Deadpool in February 2016, which leads to the assumption that production on the movie will start up some time next year. We know that a plot for the movie does exist — and if you’ve managed to find and read the leak, you’d know that it’s freaking awesome — although we’re still very much relying on rumours regarding how much of the movie has been filmed, if at all, as well as whether the movie will retain the R-rating that is to be expected of the comic book movie. We do know that Ryan Reynolds was slated to play Wade Wilson aka The Merc with a Mouth aka Deadpool aka the star of the show as you should know. We also know that Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (of Zombieland fame) were responsible for that impressive original script for the movie, and VFX artist Tim Miller was hired to direct.

When you think about it, and as we’ve been saying for a while now, the time is right for a Deadpool movie following the success not just of PG13 movies the likes of X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Avengers (and that entire cinematic universe) and even Man of Steel and Amazing Spider-Man, as well as R-rated movies such as Kick-Ass, it just no longer makes business sense to play it safe when the likes of Marvel Studios are releasing a movie with a talking raccoon and sentient tree and it is the biggest movie of the year.

The fans want Deadpool. They are chomping at the bit for some of that fourth-wall-breaking, machismo-fuelled, questionably-sexist-but-who-cares-because-shaddup Merc with the Mouth action. Why deny them any longer?

Fox would have been fools to ignore the comic book zeitgeist any longer.

And while Ryan Reynolds made a terrible Hal Jordan in the horrendous Green Lantern movie for DC Comics, the role of Wade Wilson was one that he was groomed, nay, born to play.

Hopefully this means we also get a cameo for Deadpool in X-Men: Apocalypse? Ah who cares about that. Come 2016, we’re going to be living in comic book geek paradise. Starting with the Deadpool movie we have been asking for since forever. It’s a great time to be a geek.

Chimichangas all round!

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Tips, Tricks And Stuff You Need To Know About The Xbox One In South Africa http://egmr.net/2014/09/everything-need-know-xbox-one-south-africa/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/everything-need-know-xbox-one-south-africa/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:15:12 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156884 Or: Everything you need to know about the Xbox One’s South African launch, but not a full review of the console itself. One of the biggest and most plaguing inconsistencies […]

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Or: Everything you need to know about the Xbox One’s South African launch, but not a full review of the console itself.

One of the biggest and most plaguing inconsistencies with consumer choice is that we are presented with a myriad of options and resources for making educated, informed purchasing decisions but the moment we have money in our hands we rush off to the nearest shops and blow it before ever making so much as a second thought. It’s an oddity (a Space Oddity), and one that really ought not to happen given the aforementioned myriad of options and resources for making educated, informed purchasing decisions.

Next week sees the launch (finally!) of the Xbox One in South Africa. Microsoft’s latest (but the jury’s still out on ‘greatest’) console has finally reached our shores after almost a year of being available to certain parts of the world, and it has very much released on the back foot as a result of Sony’s PlayStation 4 being available here ever since. There are those who, as a result, have shunned the Xbox One and will no longer be giving Microsoft their business. However there are those who are still somewhat undecided, not quite the fans who will immediately purchase it once it’s available, but still perfectly capable of doing so now that they have real and actual choice.

We’ve had the opportunity to spend a few weeks playing around with the Xbox One and running through its various features and additions, and next week we’ll be putting out a full review on the console. But for the moment we thought it was perhaps pertinent to put out an ‘Everything You Need To Know’ type of article that serves to provide answers to any possible questions you might have, before finally choosing whether or not to make the commitment and purchase the console. To that extent, the comments section will be opened up to any further questions, which we will then append to the article and answer for everyone to see. Use this article if you need some help making your purchasing decision but don’t care for a full review, or if you just want to know how to get the most out of your console when it releases next week. (This also has the added benefit of shortening my review by a few thousand words.)

.... what?

…. what?

  • There are currently two options available for the Xbox One, if you opt to purchase it brand new. Retail stores such as BT Games, Kalahari and TAKEALOT all have their own options available to you, but we recommend you go with BT Games because not only are they offering discounts on games and controllers purchased with the console itself, but they’re also offering discount vouchers for future purchases up until the end of the year. So that’s pretty sweet.
  • If you’re considering getting a Kinect and you can afford it, I recommend you do so for reasons I will explain in detail in my review. But for now what you need to know is that it effectively eliminates the need to pick up your controller until you’re actually playing a game. Voice and gesture recognition entirely change the way you experience this console. If you can afford it.
  • When you buy your console, before you even take it home the first thing you’re going to want to do is get some rechargeable batteries and a two-pin adapter (if you don’t already have one), because the plug type used for the Xbox One looks something like this, even though it totally still comes with the power brick anyway. You’ve been warned.
  • Next up is setting up your console once you’re home. As you can see from the design of the console, it’s not nearly as conducive to being stood upright the way that its predecessor was. The Xbox One really wants to be laid flat, and so you’re going to want to make that space. It’s also quite heavy, although not as heavy as it looks if that makes sense. Heavier than your Xbox 360, lighter than the original PS3. Ideally though, just ensure a firm and flat location in which to place it.
  • Now that you’ve got your Xbox One set up and ready, you’re really, really going to want to call up your ISP and purchase some extra bandwidth. Why? Because updates! Okay no that’s not entirely true. See the units we were given for review did not have the relevant updates and so required massive (massive) updates to be downloaded before we could even use the things. On release day, retail Xbox Ones will ship with all but one of the updates installed (that one will set you back around 400MB). However the next updates are going to get you, either way. So if it’s 2GB or 12GB, you need to be prepared. We recommend an uncapped line (even a slow one) if you’re planning on keeping this Xbox One over the long term. Or, just play offline! Cue Don Mattrick…
  • While we’re on the subject of bandwidth, game updates will also be ridiculously large. We have it on good authority from Xbox ZA that all first-party games currently out will ship at retail with all updates on the disc. This includes Forza Motorsport 5, RYSE: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3 and so on. But for the rest, and certainly for everything thereafter, prepare for updates that go up to 15GB in size. No, we’re not even kidding about that. This console is a bandwidth-suck of note.
  • Further, since you now have to install games, it would be prudent to not have too many games at a time. The console size of 500GB quickly gets filled up and so you’re going to want to invest in an external hard drive of a few terabytes in order to combat this, if you simply must have everything installed, always. When installing games, make absolutely sure to go offline because if you’re not, for whatever reason, the console will just download the most recent version of the game from the Xbox Store rather than installing off the disc. Understandable because it includes the latest update, but unnecessary especially for bandwidth-saving. Go offline, install, go back online afterwards. (Note: Alessandro tells us that the game might just be downloading the update and still uses the disc thereafter. Nonetheless, go offline anyway just in case.)
  • While install lengths aren’t that bad on the Xbox One, it’s important to note that you need not have the game fully installed in order to play it. The game can become playable with as little as 20% installed. This is especially handy for those larger game installs as well as digitally downloaded offerings. For the most part, updates need to be fully downloaded but sometimes they too allow for playing before the update is complete. Just don’t expect any online play until it is.
  • With regards to game availability, there is a lot more to be found on the Xbox LIVE Store, on Xbox One. Gone are the licensing issues with content on the Xbox 360’s LIVE Store, meaning anything available for Xbox One will be found on the local storefront. You may also redeem codes (or scan them with Kinect) as like before, and games you’ve uninstalled will be easily found should you wish to reinstall them later.
  • If you want to use your Xbox One for its various media purposes then you’ll have to stick to watching BluRays or streaming videos from your PC. Xbox ZA is working on securing something with local television networks (such as Multichoice and Top TV) but for the moment, there is nothing currently available to local gamers who want to watch TV on their consoles. Stay tuned for more regarding this, or just stream.
  • On that note, you’re going to want to install all of your apps once you get the console set up. The likes of Skype, OneDrive, Xbox Video, Xbox Music and so on all require minor installations before you can use them. They’re quite small, which begs the question of why you couldn’t just have them installed in the first place, but I digress. Take the time to also familiarise yourself with the Xbox One’s rather clunky but ultimately functional dashboard (specifically Pins and Apps), which I will be detailing much more in my review of the console.
  • A handy thing to note is that the Xbox One will take any form of HDMI input, which could open up the possibility of running your PC through it. But as of right now I have not tested, nor can I confirm functionality on this front. I can however confirm that if you have an HDMI-in on your PC, the Xbox One will gladly connect and output to it if you opt to use it that way.
  • The Xbox One comes with two options for power mode, one being a sort-of standby mode and the other being a full power-off. In the standby mode, the Xbox never properly switches off, rather going into low-power state and switching on if it detects an update for the console or your games, or when it hears “Xbox on” if you have a Kinect. If you don’t mind the bandwidth and you have adequate surge protection (why wouldn’t you?) I recommend keeping it on the standby mode, because it just makes life so much better.
  • We don’t have any word on special South African warranties and Xbox ZA did not get back to us in time regarding our queries of such, so for the moment assume that it’s the standard one year warranty with the option of extension for a fee. On the Xbox 360, Microsoft handled tech support themselves, so you can hopefully expect the same for the Xbox One.
  • Get SmartGlass on your smartphone and use it. It will make a lot of things easier for you, such as navigating and replying to messages while in-game, as well as just checking out achievements and your friends list. It works well this time, and it would be silly to ignore its capabilities when you’ve invested this much into your gaming console.
  • If you’d like to customise the parts, although I’m not sure why you would unless you’re into modding, it is entirely possible to open up and pull out the fans for example, and replace them with, say, more colourful Cooler Master offerings. There is some customisability available to you, although we’re not sure if the hard drive allows for the same sort of customisation options — or I’d have a 3TB in there already.
  • Bonus! If you do decide to get a Kinect and you’re super paranoid about having an HD camera always looking and listening in your room, you’re welcome to either disable it in the options or just throw something over the camera. Ideally, turn off Kinect voice chat for multiplayer games, because really that is the most annoying thing in the world. Also remember that the Kinect can double up as a controller (you are the controller, etc.) and a webcam for when you need to Skype relatives overseas and ask if they can hear you a couple thousand times. It’s also just really worth the asking price this time, if you can afford it. It brings the Xbox One to life. At least consider it.

If there’s anything else you think we missed, or any burning questions you’d like answered, feel free to comment and ask us and we’ll add it to this list. We hope this helps you guys to make that informed decision over whether or not you’re going to commit to the long-term commitment that is a shiny new gaming console. Either way, look out for our full review of the Xbox One next week, wherein I will rave about all the things people told you are terrible about it but actually aren’t. Until then…

Credit for images goes to AG.

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eGamer Podcast #98: Double Crunch Of Destiny http://egmr.net/2014/09/egamer-podcast-98-double-crunch-destiny/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/egamer-podcast-98-double-crunch-destiny/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:00:04 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156855 Recorded: 16 September 2014 Welcome to episode ninety-eight of the eGamer Podcast which was destined to fail but will progress onwards through the hype and hysteria! We’re not exactly sure […]

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Recorded: 16 September 2014

Welcome to episode ninety-eight of the eGamer Podcast which was destined to fail but will progress onwards through the hype and hysteria! We’re not exactly sure what we’re talking about there, but hey! It’s 98, and that’s a really cool number. Special guest this week is returning veteran of EGMR, Alessandro Barbosa.

Topics discussed this week include A MAZE, the Double Crunch and Destiny.

Here are the shownotes for this week’s episode:

  • We take a moment to appreciate Michael Buble.
  • AG struggles to pronounce Lykke Li.
  • Azhar’s PS4 broke while playing Destiny. #BlameCavie2014
  • Our special guest is Alessandro! (Welcome back, Porra.)
  • People are looking for a PS4 Slim already?
  • What’s this we’re hearing about new PS4 exclusives?
  • Have you tried the new Double Crunch at KFC?
  • We make Alessandro proper awkward.
  • And then he tells us about A MAZE indie festival.
  • What are the deep, dark secrets of local websites?
  • Marco shares his condensed opinion of Nvidia’s new cards.
  • WTF is this, actually?
  • We spend a massive chunk of time talking about Destiny.
  • We answer your questions.

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to the RSS feed so you never miss an episode. Enjoy.

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | RSS

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Review: Kinect Sports Rivals Is Sportsysports For Xbox One http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-kinect-sports-rivals-sportsysports-xbox-one/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-kinect-sports-rivals-sportsysports-xbox-one/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:15:43 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156891 Visit review on site for scoring. Let’s not mess each other about here, if you have a Kinect and an Xbox One then chances are you’re going to buy Kinect […]

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Visit review on site for scoring.

Let’s not mess each other about here, if you have a Kinect and an Xbox One then chances are you’re going to buy Kinect Sports Rivals and play it at some point, just to justify having purchased a Kinect. If you don’t have a Kinect, then you’re not even going to be reading this in the first place. Perhaps you’re looking for a reason to buy Kinect. This isn’t it. It’s not going to help that much with fitness and serves more as a casual offering, and something to show off to friends or enjoy during a party.

I could quite easily have just done this review in six words: “Buy it or don’t, your choice.” But in the interests of having some further elaboration I decided to rather go ahead and talk about the game. So, it’s prettier than previous games in the series, as is to be expected from a ‘next-gen’ title. It has a bunch of sports you can play. But nothing about this game really screams ‘next-gen’ and you could just as easily have found it on Xbox 360 in a previous year. It just doesn’t do anything special to warrant being considered special, and most of its improvements are not even relevant to the game but rather the excellent Kinect 2.0 sensor module.

Here are the sports on offer in Kinect Sports Rivals:

  • Bowling
  • Jetski racing
  • Rock climbing
  • Soccer (Fooball)
  • Target shooting
  • Tennis

There is nothing really standout or special about the Rare-developed Kinect Sports Rivals. It was created for the simple purpose of having something available for the Kinect when the Xbox One launched. Rare, in the process, suffered many layoffs as a result of developing this game. And that’s all you really need to know about the ambitions it had…

If you have an Xbox One and you need a reason to buy Kinect, there are better offerings available. If you have kids and want to play games with them, buy this for them and play and have a good time. Likewise if you have friends over a lot and want to show off motion controls, or just get drunk and have some laughs. This game offers casual gamers a whole lot of fun, for a time. For everyone else, just wait around for better games to come out (Dance Central Spotlight, hopefully) or just ignore Kinect games until some properly creative stuff starts popping up. We’ll let you know when that day comes.

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Review: RYSE: Son Of Rome Is A Stupidly Fun Romp But Fails To Conquer http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-ryse-son-rome-stupidly-fun-romp-fails-conquer/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/review-ryse-son-rome-stupidly-fun-romp-fails-conquer/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:45:02 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156575 Visit review on site for scoring. If you’re as big a fan of Russel Crowe’s Gladiator as I am then you would likely find yourself right at home in the […]

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Visit review on site for scoring.

If you’re as big a fan of Russel Crowe’s Gladiator as I am then you would likely find yourself right at home in the ancient Roman setting of RYSE: Son of Rome, from here on simply RYSE. The Xbox One launch title from Crytek is almost a year old but will be one of the fresh, new titles on offer when the Xbox One releases here in South Africa next week. So we thought it was about time we got around to reviewing it. And you know what? Now that all the hype has died down and we can just settle down and play it, we kind of actually like it…

RYSE takes place in ancient Rome at different points in time along the life of protagonist Marius Titus. The game starts out in the ‘present’ and then proceeds to play out more-or-less chronologically as a series of flashbacks as Titus relays to his emperor Nero, whom he is currently protecting from invading barbarians, the story of how he got to where he is. The framed narrative works well to portray a sort-of ‘highlights reel’ of the man’s life, explaining who Titus was and how he became the man that he is. This being a game set in Roman times, there is a lot of historical accuracy with regards to locations and events, but Crytek have also taken many liberties with the storytelling, throwing in some Roman mythology as well as a slightly different account of events as they once transpired.

Unfortunately, just like the movie Gladiator, you’re going to miss a lot on your first playthrough as names, titles and backstories are thrown at you left, right and centre. At first it will be tricky to keep up and once you more or less know all of the big players involved in the story, it ends. To that extent, I’m in two minds about the game’s length. See, it’s not that long. You could finish it in a single sitting if you so desired, with around six hours worth of story content if you don’t explore the mostly linear levels. But it not being that long means you could quite easily just re-play on a higher difficulty and pick up all the story that you initially missed. Hmm.

RYSE is a very pretty game. Gorgeous, in fact. But it’s not nearly as impressive as people are saying it is. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Metro: Last Light and BioShock: Infinite on PC, but as much as RYSE: Son of Rome looks like nothing you’ve seen on a console before, it’s clear that we can get a whole lot better once developers become more adept at taking advantage of the hardware on offer. To that extent, I won’t rave about it as much as others might. It’s sufficiently sexy but you won’t immediately blow your load, to extend a questionable metaphor.

What is worth raving about, however, is the variety of environments presented in RYSE. These range from the stuff you’d expect, such as massive sprawling Roman cities and the inside of the Colosseum, to lush jungle forests (Crytek’s trademark?) and shipwrecked sea shores. These varied and interesting, although quite linear environments serve to compliment the experience and took my breath away at least once per level. The game is very aware of this as well, placing ‘Vistas’ as collectibles for players, wherever there’s something pretty to look at.

On the subject of visceral and pretty to look at, I’ve not seen more beautiful deaths in games of this nature since maybe Darksiders. Combat is a mix of sword and shield attacks using the X and Y buttons (hold for power attacks) as well as deflecting enemy attacks using A, and rolling out of the way with B. Once you’ve weakened an enemy enough, tap RT to execute them which begins a short quick-time sequence and then just hit the relevant buttons depending on the colour the enemy glows; blue means X, yellow means Y. This is more or less how you will overcome almost every fight, with not that much in variety over and above this. Thing is, it might not sound like much but it’s quite a blast to play.

When we first saw trailers and the like for RYSE, we immediately assumed the entire game would be a series of quick-time events. In practice, yeah there are some and it’s not the coolest thing to see in a ‘next-gen’ (current-gen now?) game, but it’s not nearly as prevalent and combat is more along the lines of a third person action game, such as the aforementioned Darksiders, or Lollipop Chainsaw. Dodge duck, dip, dive and dodge enemy attacks, hit them with your shield, a few attacks with the sword, repeat until you can execute and then hit the quick-time event buttons for maximum points from kills. There is also a ranged option using (effectively) spears that you will almost never use unless you’re forced to by the story.

Combat is complimented by various upgrades and abilities for your character, with four possible power-ups for executions which grant you either bonus damage, health, focus or experience for every successful execution. Focus is your special ability in the game, and works a lot like bullet time. You build it up by battling and killing enemies, then unleash it in little bars at a time, slowing down time and granting you faster, more damaging attacks. Both your variety of executions and your Focus, as well as your Health bar, can all be upgraded by using experience points from kills — or if you’d like, microtransactions.

Regarding killing, there most certainly is a lot of it in this game. And a lot of different kinds of enemies to kill; you certainly wouldn’t think so given that they’re all just humans effectively, but you can fight regular soldiers as well as shielded ones, slightly more agile dual-wielders, brutish bigger enemies and there are even a few boss battles, although those are slightly underwhelming because it’s just a case of finding the one method of doing damage that works, and the result is a bout of trial and error until you do. Still, I’ll grant that the variety really mixes things up and forces you to change your strategies on the fly, depending on which enemy types you are currently fighting.

Every now and then regular combat is broken up by segments in which you must command a troop of soldiers. During these segments you will either issue commands to troops based on the area around you — so for example, placing archers and footsoldiers strategically to hold a position, where for example archers on the top of a wall could eliminate siege fire but if you put them on the bottom of the wall they could eliminate enemy archers instead, or provide volley fire. More on this shortly. There are also sequences where you must advance on an enemy position under fire from arrows. During these sequences you control an entire unit together, bringing up their guards while under fire and then using the time in between to dispose of the enemy archers. It’s not the height of tactics and it will never win any awards, but it was still a refreshing change of pace.

Some mention must now be made of how well the Kinect works with the game. It’s entirely optional and doesn’t force you to stand in a weird position, but rather only takes advantage of voice commands. When you have archer support, and for various other sections through the game, you can scream out commands to get your soldiers to do whatever you’d like, so for example volley fire or requesting backup, and so on. I tried, quite comically, to scream out these commands in various silly voices and Kinect picked up every damn one of my commands.

In all though, these sections serve well to break up fights and are timed adequately. Typically around times when I was starting to feel as if enemies were just being thrown my way in order to prolong the game and play the role of cannon fodder, effectively. So I have to give some kudos to Crytek for pacing their game really nicely in this respect.

If I had a few complaints about the game, a lot of them would centre around a feeling of being entirely lost in the swing of things, a lot of the time. For example, let’s talk about the interface for the game. It consists of three menus, one for singleplayer, one for multiplayer (coming to this) and one for upgrades. That’s it. But they’re so clunky and hard to navigate that they start to become detracting, so I would try my best to never be in the menus as a result. Even the upgrading is never quite explained and consist of a series of pictures and text, but with little in the way of actually showing you or helping you to understand just what is going on.

Then there’s the fact that everywhere else, the game tries too hard to account for casuals to the point that it starts to treat you like an idiot. Objective markers for example, start to pop up if you don’t progress quickly enough. Great for when you’re lost; somewhat condescending for when you’re just exploring. On easier difficulties, the entire game is basically a QTE because all other combat is removed. The story as well seems to not be entirely sure of its audience, at times steeped in realism and structured like a serious adult drama, but at other times delving into mythology and showing us fantasy elements that make it seem as if two different games are currently being played; that of the players and that of the ‘god’ characters within the story.

Finally we come to multiplayer, and I’m sad to say that there isn’t very much here. You have either online cooperative or solo modes to choose from, which each of them placing you in the shoes of a Colosseum fighter who must then overcome a series of challenges in order to win the round. Challenges range from killing enemies to holding areas to achieving some objective. The Colosseum itself can shift to be all kinds of different environments. You can also pick a ‘god’ which grants you execution bonuses like in singleplayer, but just one per character. And then when you’re done, you can spend those experience points on multiplayer upgrades. I’m not sure why Crytek thought of putting this mode in; it’s fun, but the novelty wears off fast and the level 150 achievement is honestly a joke. I would have preferred if they just stuck to the far-better story.

It speaks of a developer that didn’t really understand its audience and that’s actually okay because when you think about it, who really knew the type of players that would be picking up an Xbox One early? They had to cater to the hardcore as much as to the casual, as well as those looking for both a story and an online experience. And they had to do all of this with a game that was originally announced under a different name way back in 2010 as a Kinect-only offering.

So at the end of the day, is RYSE a good game worth purchasing? Well not at its original launch price but at the reduced price it will launch for here, sure. It’s actually quite fun, despite being shit. But since critique is not the same as review, I cannot fully purport that you will experience the same fun that I had with this game. And at the end of the day, RYSE is still not a ‘truly next-gen experience’ insofar as, I could have got this game on an Xbox 360. It’s for these reasons that RYSE gets the score it has been awarded.

I hazard to compare it to the Transformers movies, but that’s kind of the best way to say it. It’s visually splendid and the story is convoluted and beyond belief (although at least RYSE’s story has redeeming value) but you’re still going to have a good time and you’ll feel a sense of entertainment while battling through its levels, so if this is what the game sets out to achieve then mission accomplished? We’ll leave it up to you to decide if you’re a fan of these types of games as we’ve explained them here today, but for us it just falls a little short of conquering our hearts.

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Our 98th Podcast Records Tonight — Ask Us Things http://egmr.net/2014/09/98th-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/98th-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 09:00:33 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156778 One of my favourite numbers in the world, because it’s a combination of two of my favourite numbers in the world and also a totally real actual butterfly, as I […]

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One of my favourite numbers in the world, because it’s a combination of two of my favourite numbers in the world and also a totally real actual butterfly, as I recently discovered; tonight your favourite haters of all things (and maybe a special guest whom you all know and love) will be settling down to record episode ninety-eight of the eGamer Podcast. There’ll likely be a lot of Destiny talk again, maybe.

This article is your chance to get involved. Ask us questions by posting them in the comments section below. They can be about games or about anything else you’d like, be it movies, music, series, comics or even health and sex advice. If you have something to ask, we have an answer for you… in theory.

Then be sure to check out either the site, our Libsyn page, iTunes or our RSS feed later in the week for the podcast, which will have all the answers and more. Tell your friends!

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Xbox South Africa Releases Xbox One Videos And A Possible Competition http://egmr.net/2014/09/xbox-south-africa-releases-xbox-one-videos-possible-competition/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/xbox-south-africa-releases-xbox-one-videos-possible-competition/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:00:12 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156769 The South African release of the Xbox One is imminent; in just a few more days, the new Microsoft console will release locally and hopefully many gamers will be rushing […]

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The South African release of the Xbox One is imminent; in just a few more days, the new Microsoft console will release locally and hopefully many gamers will be rushing to stores to pick up their shiny new pieces of hardware, just in time for the slew of game releases from now until next year.

Originally this article contained the video above, which was recently released over on Xbox South Africa’s YouTube channel, as the local branch began to kick up promotion and marketing of the console here. We’ve since updated the article to include a second video below, which contains what looks like a competition of sorts.

Let’s first talk about the video above, which features Xbox’s Social Media Manager for EMEA, Graeme Boyd, who recorded a special message just for South African gamers. He even tries to drop the word “lekker” in there, so that’s a thing that a Scottish man has now done. Better still, we’re currently the only country with a dedicated Microsoft-approved Xbox One video, so that’s nice.

The second video seems to be some sort of competition, with the message, “There is a glitch in the system, can you crack the code? Where will it lead you? Your journey starts here.” Presumably, win an Xbox One?

There currently isn’t much more on the details, for example the whats, whens and hows. Still, do check it out and be sure to make a note of any details you enter there.

Thanks to NAG Online and Vamers for the videos and articles.

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Life, The Universe And Gaming: Conversations With My Xbox http://egmr.net/2014/09/life-universe-gaming-conversations-xbox/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/life-universe-gaming-conversations-xbox/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:00:30 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156621 We humans are such odd creatures. Lazy, stubborn and with a profound sense of what George Orwell called ‘groupthink’ we will latch onto an opinion or idea that we like […]

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We humans are such odd creatures. Lazy, stubborn and with a profound sense of what George Orwell called ‘groupthink’ we will latch onto an opinion or idea that we like and then find ways to justify that opinion even though it isn’t necessarily our own; whether it is right or wrong. You see, we identify with that opinion and we see in it, something that we think is our own. For example during South Africa’s own ‘Oscars’ where a certain Pistorious was found guilty of culpable homicide and suddenly everyone was an armchair lawyer, with armchair qualifications and armchair commentary on the matter. Thinking that their opinion, because it is an opinion, is correct (False, son.) and that justice is a matter of how many people think a person deserves to be condemned, rather than the facts as presented.

In gaming we have a term for those types: Social Justice Warriors.

With the Xbox One we have experienced a similar sort of thing, with many denouncing the console without having ever experienced the thing for themselves, opting instead to simply ‘accept’ that it’s a piece of shit based on the commentary of some people a few times. Why they blatantly ignored the good things people had to say is entirely indicative of their predispositions but let’s just assume they trusted one source more than the other. And so over time the Xbox One became somewhat infamous, with Kinect its biggest crime. Yet here I am, penning (keyboarding?) a column on why I think Kinect is at its very best with the new console.

If you grew up in the eighties or nineties then there’s every likelihood that you watched a whole bunch of sci-fi movies that lied to you about teased a daring and idyllic new world in which cars could fly and we could speak to our computers and have them do things for us. I really loved The Fifth Element, but then I am a nineties kid…

Realistically we are still to achieve a lot of this. Apple most certainly has Siri and sure enough, the movie her did some creepy and disconcerting things with sentient AI, but for the most part our daily living does not necessarily include communicating with what is effectively a set of tools we use on a daily basis. But the thing is, with the Xbox One, I have been able to do exactly that!

Consider if you will, the scenario of just returning home from a long day of work. You’re taking off your shoes and settling down, and considering a hot cup of coffee and perhaps a bite to eat. You speak out “Xbox, On” while walking about your lounge area, and your console elicits a cheery little tone to tell you it has heard you. Meanwhile, it sees that you’re in front of it and signs you in automatically. You then decide whether you want to play a game or just relax with a movie and instruct your console to do so with either “Xbox Play Movie” or “Xbox Go To Game” where ‘Movie’ and ‘Game’ are whatever you’d like to watch/play. And the Xbox just does it. Without picking up a controller or so much as acknowledging its presence, the Xbox just does it.

What if I told you, I’ve been living that scenario for the past few weeks?

We’re not going to have a very long column today. This week’s entry mostly serves as a tease of the week or two ahead, where I’ll be putting out a whole bunch of Xbox One content. There will be reviews for a few of the launch titles, impressions on the Kinect as well as an ‘everything you need to know’ for the console itself. I may or may not put out an actual review of the console as well, if you’d like to read that (please let me know in the comments). I’ve had the console now for just under a month now, and it has been spectacular, I have to say.

It’s ridiculously expensive as an option with the Kinect but that’s where it really comes alive because this time around, it really feels fluid and responsive, and you’re not often shouting commands into a non-responsive sensor module. It just works, and I absolutely adore it. It honestly boggles my mind how people can be so imaginative as to envision and celebrate a world of technology that is basically Tony Stark’s mansion in Iron Man, and yet resist change so vehemently whenever it threatens their status quo.

“But Cavie you Xbot, it’s just fledgeling technology and I’ll only accept it when it works perfectly.” And you’re right to say so, you PSfag and/or PC Master Race. But here’s the thing, most of the time, it works. Just like how most of the time, your PC will start up and work just fine. Just like how most of the time, your PS4 will actually succeed in downloading that firmware update. Most of the time, you get what you asked for. Yes, absolutely, there was one rather laughable moment when I said, “Xbox, Turn Off” and my Xbox heard, “Xbox, Go To My Games” (hinting perhaps?) but these moments are so few and far between as to be negligible just like any other technology. Your phone freezes from time to time, but do you discard it and swear off it in future? No, you likely succumb to your loyalty and stick with it. Because humans are so prone to resisting change; perhaps we’re just wired that way. Biologists at this point will have a comment. Scroll down and go for it.

Quite possibly the only issue I have with the new Kinect is that it reduces my use of the ridiculously sexy (seriously) new Xbox One controller, with the haptic feedback on triggers and pitch-perfect ergonomics.

In my feature on Kinect, I’ll go into all of the minutia and speak about such things as where it works well, where it doesn’t, alternative uses and how it can be better exploited in its current guise. I just wanted to use a column to put out a more personal impressions-type article about it because for the love of Microsoft, I really do enjoy this console. And not in a ‘fuck the PS4′ kind of way; I truly believe that both consoles can co-exist peacefully.

But there’s just something so comforting about being able to turn off my game using my voice, and then resume later at exactly the point in the game when I turned off (without requiring saves or pausing), again using only my voice. That feels like the ‘next-gen’ we were promised. That is something new. And I struggle with the idea that there are people who think that — okay yes it’s an expensive ask and I completely relate to that, as any kind of ‘review’ will reflect — because a few loud voices have decried the Xbox One before, that effectively absolves them of any responsibility to do research of their own in order to form their own opinions.

I’m sure there are a lot of you reading this who will immediately think, “Yeah well fuck you, Cavie. You’re obviously just a brown-nosing Microsoft fanboy Xbot who hates Destiny and the PS4, so why should we ever take you seriously?” Well how about because I’ve now had just under a month of exposure to the Xbox One, and I actually know what I’m talking about? Oh, and speaking of Destiny… how did that work out for everyone?

Here’s to a proper former-next-gen now-current-gen experience, with the Xbox One and for that matter the PS4. Something different, something progressive, something better. That was all we asked for in the first place, right?

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23 Jump Street Is Actually Happening http://egmr.net/2014/09/23-jump-street-actually-happening/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/23-jump-street-actually-happening/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:15:43 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156612 “Yeeeeeeeeeeeah!” Nobody really saw 21 Jump Street being the massive success that it would be, when it was first announced that the old cop show would be returning with the […]

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“Yeeeeeeeeeeeah!”

Nobody really saw 21 Jump Street being the massive success that it would be, when it was first announced that the old cop show would be returning with the woefully underrated Jonah Hill and teen heartthrob Channing Tatum in the starring roles, and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller at the helm.

Then Lord and Miller did what they do best; they created something truly special.

And it’s not even as if this is their first time doing so. A movie called Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs might not have inspired much interest from the world, but the movie released and was indeed spectacular. So too was 21 Jump Street. And then they went and did it again with a movie about freaking LEGO! The dynamic directing duo have done it deliciously, over and over.

At the end of the sequel to 21 Jump Street, so beautifully titled (and made fun of in the movie itself) 22 Jump Street, a slew of sequels to the series were teased. We’ve listed those titles below, for your reading pleasure. For most people that put to bed the possibility of more sequels coming out, but with a show as popular as this it was pretty much an inevitability that a third would be announced. Seriously, watch the sequel and delight in the amount of fun poked at comedy sequels and how, as if as rare as a diamond, it actually manages to pull it off with aplomb.

Credit should also go to the starring actors, Jonah Hill, who has proven himself to be a comedic genius, as well as Channing Tatum, who nobody knew was this good at being funny before. I mean, all we really knew was that the man had abs and could dance…

23 Jump Street is currently in early production stages at Sony Pictures, with Rodney Rothman confirmed as screenwriter. If you’re wondering who he is, know that he co-wrote the script for 22 Jump Street along with Michael Bacall and Oren Uziel. Whether or not Lord and Miller will return is currently unclear, but we’re really hoping they do. This series of movies wouldn’t be the same without them. Nor indeed Hill and Tatum.

As for the setting? Well… Let’s check out that list that was teased during the credits of 22 Jump Street. Thanks to our friends over on The Movies for creating the list.

  • 23 Jump Street: Medical School
  • 24 Jump Street: Foreign Exchange
  • 25 Jump Street: Semester at Sea
  • 26 Jump Street: Arts School
  • 27 Jump Street: Culinary School
  • 28 Jump Street: Veterinary School
  • 29 Jump Street: Sunday School
  • 30 Jump Street: Flight Academy
  • 31 Jump Street: Ninja Academy
  • 32 Jump Street: Fireman Academy
  • 33 Jump Street: Generations
  • 34 Jump Street: Return of the Ghost
  • 35 Jump Street: Traffic School
  • 36 Jump Street: Military School
  • 37 Jump Street: Scuba Class
  • 38 Jump Street: Dance Academy
  • 39 Jump Street: The Electronic Game
  • 40 Jump Street: The Retirement Home
  • 41 Jump Street: Magic School
  • 42 Jump Street: Beauty School
  • 43 Jump Street: Mariachi School
  • 2121 Jump Street (aka Space Camp)

So what do you think? Firstly, did you enjoy the Jump Street movies and do you think Seth Rogan is finally going to take over from Hill due to that ‘contract dispute’ so hilariously mentioned in the credits? Let us know in the comments.

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Marvel Once Again Uses Captain America To Change Up The Entire Universe http://egmr.net/2014/09/marvel-will-use-captain-america-change-entire-formula/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/marvel-will-use-captain-america-change-entire-formula/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:15:22 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156511 Over the past few weeks Marvel has been teasing some news of Captain America. The internet, so fervent in its worship of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, was eagerly awaiting something regarding […]

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Over the past few weeks Marvel has been teasing some news of Captain America. The internet, so fervent in its worship of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, was eagerly awaiting something regarding Captain America 3, or perhaps Avengers 2. Instead it ended up just being a special event in LA to celebrate Captain America: The Winter Soldier releasing on Blu-Ray. Meh.

Somehow though, the internet came through for us and here we have a very interesting interview conducted by Crave Online, with co-directors of the Captain America films Joe and Anthony Russo. If you’re wondering who they are, think of Arrested Development, Community and You, Me and Dupree, and you get a better idea of their calibre.

So what do they have for us? Well for one, the script for Captain America is more or less drafted, and they love it. Further, apparently this movie has been part of Marvel Studio president Kevin Feige’s long-term plans for the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a long time now. More importantly however, a Captain America movie might once again be used to entirely shake up the Universe as we know it. And that’s kind of freaking awesome, isn’t it?

If you’re like me and were never really a fan of the walking symbol of patriotism and ‘Murica, then you’d likely be glad for the Russo brothers working their magic with Captain America’s solo movies, making them more about that and all about drastic shifts and set-ups for future movies that don’t stop the movie from being itself an entertaining romp — are you paying attention, Sony?

The first Captain America movie was a good-old-fashioned action movie that served to provide an entertaining enough origin story for Cap while also setting up the McGuffin for Avengers. Cue Captain America: The Winter Soldier a few years later and now S.H.I.E.L.D as we know it — and as has been laboriously set up in the first phase of Marvel’s movies — is gone, with Hail Hydra becoming an internet meme and the Avengers’ fates left entirely in the balance. How could Captain America 3 possibly do it again?

Well for one, there are a few very key storylines still to be told for Captain America. They could take it cosmic and go in an entirely different direction, as a means of setting up for Avengers 3. But we think the biggest hint of what might happen next could come from taking inference out of Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr’s statement that there won’t be an Iron Man 4 solo outing. So… perhaps Iron Man finds his way into a Captain America movie? *smiles cheekily*

Before we even start considering it, it might be prudent to mention that it can’t really be a Civil War storyline just yet because, although that is a very drastic changing up of the formula and would be pretty badass, it’s not quite possible without other major players in the storyline, who are currently tied up at other studios. The likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Mr Fantastic and more. Then we must consider heroes who have not yet been introduced onscreen; the likes of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Dr Strange and Daredevil. So perhaps it’s not time just yet for the likes of Secret Invasion, Civil War and AvX but you can bet your ass that Marvel Studios are working to make it happen some day.

In the meantime, check out the full interview with the Russo brothers here:

CraveOnline: Guys, first question… What the hell are you doing talking to me? Get back to work on Captain America 3!

[Laughs.]

Anthony Russo: That’s excellent advice, yeah.

Joe Russo: By the way we need a break. We’ve been working on Captain America 3 since February. We’re exhausted. So we’re hard at work on it and hopefully we’re going to announce soon and hopefully people are going to be excited as hell when they hear what we’re up to.

I’m excited just in principle. We know the movie is coming out, so what are you going to announce? A plot? A title?

Joe Russo: Yeah, we’d like to announce the title soon.

Has the title been in place for a while?

Joe Russo: If you’ve been talking to Kevin [Feige, President of Marvel Studios] the title has been in place probably for ten years in his brain. It’s all part of the road map that he’s laid out, and it’s all part of the bigger plan.

So as with the continuation of the Captain America story in The Winter Soldier, the third one has been all part of a plan from the beginning? Were you building to Captain America 3 in the second movie?

Joe Russo: Yeah, I think the way Kevin does it is there are big pieces that he knows he wants to build towards, but the way that you get there is open to interpretation and improv a little bit. That’s defined by who gets involved with the project, the writers and directors involved in the project. The big thing we knew we had to deal with in Cap 2 was the fall of Hydra. Similarly there is a very, very big idea at the center of Cap 3. But how we get there is all up to us. And I think why Marvel has been so successful is because it’s been such a clear plan, that everything is interconnected and they’re building emotional capital with each movie that you can then trade off of in the next film.

What sort of pieces aren’t in place? The villain, the main cast members involved, or Cap’s emotional journey, or is all of that part of the major plan?

Joe Russo: No, all that stuff is open for interpretation. Usually it’s just one big idea that alters the universe as a whole in some way, that has interconnectedness that he’s grabbed on to. That’s the case with Cap 3, but as far as villain and story arc and tone, all that stuff is left up to us.

Well how can you possible screw with the universe more than you did in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? You WRECKED the universe in that one.

[Laughs.]

Anthony Russo: Who knows? It’s a surprising universe.

I was able to listen to the commentary track for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. You guys give great commentary track. 

Joe Russo: Well, we try to. That was an important thing for us growing up as filmmakers, is getting real insight. I really liked when I would sit down to listen to a commentary track and the director was telling me very insightful things that were truthful about the process, good or bad, because you learn from commentaries. That’s why you listen to it. You want to understand the finer details of the execution of the film. So we try to be as honest as we can and informative as we can, so usually we try to do a little prep before we get into the room and just try to remind ourselves what was going on in our brains at the time when we shot certain scenes, or why we included things and didn’t include others.

There aren’t a lot of deleted scenes on the Blu-ray, and most of them are just exposition or scene extensions. Did you just use everything or is there a lot more out there?

Anthony Russo: No, fortunately we had a nice long prep time on this and Winter Soldier, and we worked closely with [Christopher] Markus and [Stephen] McFeely, so by the time we got to shooting the script was extremely tight. We wanted to make sure we were spending our money where we really needed to, so we didn’t want to shoot anything extraneous. So we had a very tight script going into shooting and the final edit is remarkably similar to the shooting script.

Are you having that much prep time on Cap 3? It sounds like you guys just jumped right into it.

Anthony Russo: Yeah, I think because it went so well on the last one we really wanted to. You know, again, the thing about Marvel is that the bar keeps getting raised higher and higher, so you have to go to work earlier because you have to keep striving for something that’s hopefully better than what you’ve already done. Yeah, we got to work right away because we feel the heat.

Have you got a draft you’re comfortable with now or is that still in flux?

Joe Russo: Yeah, we have an outstanding draft. We were lucky enough to work again with Markus and McFeely. They’re the best in the business at what they do. They have a really sensitive understanding of character and story, but also brains that really wrap themselves around the high concepts, big superhero concepts. We just got a draft in our hands that we’re ecstatic with.

Do they just try to sneak M.O.D.O.K. into these movies? 

[Laughs.]

I think Christopher Markus in particular is really obsessed.

Joe Russo: Markus is obsessed with M.O.D.O.K.

Anthony Russo: [Laughs.]

Joe Russo: But I can’t tell if it’s that Markus has a very twisted sense of humor. So I can’t tell if it’s part of his sense of humor or if he really, really wants M.O.D.O.K. in one of the films.

We heard that Jeremy Renner has heard rumblings that Hawkeye might be coming back in Captain America 3. Can you speak to that at all? Is that just a rumbling?

Joe Russo: We can’t. That’s part of our cone of silence. My head would explode. You saw Scanners, right?

Yeah, I saw Scanners.

Joe Russo: Yeah, that’s loosely based on Marvel’s policy. Their security team is now… My head will blow up. I can’t tell you.

Let me ask you about the release date. That was announced a while ago. You have to hit that. Is that a lot or pressure or do you feel like there’s definitely enough time and there’s going to be no problem whatsoever?

Anthony Russo: Oh, there’s definitely enough time. I don’t think there’s any problem, especially because we’ve been working on it for five months now. So you know, Marvel’s incredibly organized, a very efficient company. I think what they do different than other studios is they have an extremely efficient post process that’s run by a genius, and I think that makes it possible to execute their movies in a very timely fashion.

Did you always know that Warner Bros. was going to back off your release date or were you nervous at any point?

Anthony Russo: You know, look, the whole issue of release dates? Those main conversations happen in rooms we’re not in. So we’re kind of one step removed from the issue. But Kevin always seemed very confident, comfortable with us being on that release date.

What was your reaction when “Hail Hydra” went viral?

Anthony Russo: [Laughs.]

Joe Russo: That was hilarious. I was actually at Disneyland and one of the workers there told me that they had all written “Hail Hydra” on the back of their name tags, and they would flip it to each other as they walked past each other in the park. We love it. We love when people grab on to irony, coming from shows like “Arrested Development” or “Community.” When it becomes pervasive on a scale like that it’s exciting not only because people are grabbing on to the idea, but grabbing onto one of the more twisted ideas in the movie which is fun.

Was it easier to get Robert Redford for Winter Soldier because he was playing the villain? Was that part of the appeal?

Anthony Russo: I think it was part of it. Certainly it was part of the appeal for us, you know? We loved the chance to use the iconography, history, in a way that fed people’s perception of what a character was going to be, and what the role was. It was amazing, and it was so specific in this case with Redford because of his history in the genre that the movie is set in, especially. I think he liked that idea. Surprisingly Redford has not worked with a lot of green screen in his career. He’s a very traditional, old school filmmaker, so to work in a movie where a third of everything that’s happening isn’t really there was very exciting to him. And he also did say to us, he did admit that his grandkids definitely opened his eyes to the movie as well.

It was something of a sick pleasure to actually hear Robert Redford say “Hail Hydra.”

Anthony Russo: Oh yeah.

Joe Russo: That’s one of Kevin’s favorite moments in the movie, I think.

Chris Evans has been talking about how he wants to retire from acting. Have you had any conversations with him about that? He asked for any advice?

Joe Russo: We’ve talked to him quite a bit about it. I mean, you have a lot of time to sit around on set and talk through stuff. The thing about Chris is he’s probably one of the most technically gifted actors that we’ve ever worked with. He understands the process of filmmaking extremely well. We always tell a story of when we were working on “Arrested Development.” [Jason] Bateman had been in the business for 30 years by the time we worked with him on that show, and we were shooting a scene – I might have even been operating the camera – and I remember it was a great performance from him, and I was shooting over Will Arnett to Bateman and Arnett shifted his body and covered Bateman. And I remember I was about to yell “cut” because we had lost Bateman in the shot, when all of a sudden while he’s speaking Bateman leans to his left and finds the camera again. That’s an incredibly aware actor who doesn’t break performance, it just doesn’t affect him in any way and he can still find the camera.

Chris has a very similar sensibility to him, which is why I think he’s so good at fighting and so good at execution, because he knows how to sell things to which camera. He understands geography and angles. I think he’s really excited about that part of filmmaking. As to whether or not it ultimately will end up leading to him removing himself from the acting space for a while is hard to say, because he’s so successful at it. But I think he’s very committed to directing.

I just want to follow up on something. I was interviewing Anthony Mackie and complimenting him on his flying abilities, and he said that no one really explained to him how the flying was supposed to work, like how he was supposed to move in that harness. Did you just trust in his abilities, or was he overstating it?

Anthony Russo: That was one of the more challenging…

Joe Russo: [Laughs.] Mackie overstated.

Anthony Russo: Mackie exaggerates, for sure. That’s part of his charm. But that was one of the more difficult areas he had, because again, in this movie we wanted to rely on practical physical effects and action more so than computer graphics. So that was sort of the tone that we wanted for the film, so it was very challenging in terms of, how do you make a man fly? That’s one of the areas of the film where we had to rely more on special effects than physical reality. So as we were rehearsing with Mackie it was always a question of finding the line, like what can we do physically with him on wires that’s going to look exciting enough to use it in the movie and not have to rely on computer graphics for that part. So identifying where that line was was always very tricky as we went through the execution.

And frankly it’s going to be something that’s even more tricky as we’re moving forward, because we want to keep looking for possibilities in terms of how Falcon can move, how we can shoot him in cool ways doing things that only Falcon can do? A lot of that stuff you have to rely on real physical tricks for, so anyway I think what he was talking about there was just the experimental process of figuring out… we’re going to shoot him doing something now, are we going to use that in the movie or are we going to resort to a visual effect? As we went through the process we kept toggling back and forth, and indeed all through post process we toggled back and forth until we found the right balance.

Okay, well that’s it for me. Thank you for the interview, I’m really looking forward to Cap 3, and again, I really, really, REALLY hope you’re using “Cap Wolf” this time.

[Laughs.]

I’m not kidding. I will bring this up every time.

Joe Russo: That’s been a big joke in the writers room by the way for the last two years, is when we play our Cap Wolf.

Hopefully sooner than later.

How would you like to speculate about what goes on in Captain America 3? Go ahead and let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, why not go ahead and tell us what you’d like to see in the upcoming Marvel movies as well.

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Dave Bautista Might Bring Drax The Destroyer To Avengers 3 http://egmr.net/2014/09/dave-bautista-might-bring-drax-destroyer-avengers-3/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/dave-bautista-might-bring-drax-destroyer-avengers-3/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:15:34 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156503 That title is mega SEO superiority! Comic book fans and followers of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, you’ve probably all watched Guardians of the Galaxy by now and loved the shit out […]

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That title is mega SEO superiority!

Comic book fans and followers of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, you’ve probably all watched Guardians of the Galaxy by now and loved the shit out of it, amirite? The world has certainly fallen in love with its characters, one of them being the brutish but comically sinister Drax the Destroyer, played by Dave Bautista of wrestling fame — although when I remember him as a wrestler, his name was Batista. Was that Vince McMahon’s doing again?

Bautista’s portrayal of Drax was something slightly different to the comics but excellently done. Who knew the man was so good at effectively portraying a role that encompasses both action ferocity and comedy? (Millions of wrestling fans hold up their hands.) Guardians of the Galaxy is now the number one movie of the year in the US (which is where most of this matters, for some reason) and fans are eagerly anticipating a clash or team-up between the Guardians and the Avengers, who are getting their second outing early next year. I cannot freaking wait!

Now a report has surfaced via one of those WWE fan service sites, which states that Bautista is busy “restructuring” his deal with Marvel so that he can appear in more features. An interesting tactic although one, I presume, Marvel might need to talk to the other actors of the Guardians movies about. Nonetheless the strong rumour that has surfaced from this report is that he will have a “significant role” in Avengers 3.

We all know what that means… [cue massive smile]

Know that guy Thanos, who was at the end of the Avengers movie and played a small role in Guardians of the Galaxy? Well he’s a really big baddie in the Marvel comic books and is called the Mad Titan. He is a cosmic-powered (which means really fucking powerful) godlike entity who Marvel call the Avatar of Death. Funny thing about Drax, he’s the Avatar of Life. His full title, Drax the Destroyer? It’s not just a name. He was created for the sole purpose of destroying Thanos the Mad Titan.

And now you see how it all fits together. Avengers 3 might well be the time of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, as pretty much everyone is expecting it to be. Either that or it’s going to be a massive teaser for a follow-up movie. But Drax’s presence means that together with Thanos, we can also pretty much guarantee the involvement of the Guardians of the Galaxy in affairs. Which means that team-up (or conflict) is a-coming. Question is, which Avengers will still be around for it, and how on Earth are Marvel going to afford that movie? We don’t care, we’re sure they’ll work something out. But it’s going to be great!

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eGamer Podcast #97: Destined For Failure http://egmr.net/2014/09/egamer-podcast-97-destined-failure/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/egamer-podcast-97-destined-failure/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 09:00:57 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156155 Recorded: 09 September 2014 Welcome to episode ninety-seven of the eGamer Podcast where we’ll be talking about Destiny, Bungie and Destiny! Oh there’ll be other stuff but in the week […]

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Recorded: 09 September 2014

Welcome to episode ninety-seven of the eGamer Podcast where we’ll be talking about Destiny, Bungie and Destiny! Oh there’ll be other stuff but in the week of quite possibly the year’s biggest game release, would you expect us to talk about anything else? Fear not, regular programming will resume next week. In the meantime, go ahead and enjoy the Destinycast.

Topics discussed this week included Destiny, Feminist Frequency’s misguided videos, and… that’s right, more Destiny!

Here are the shownotes for this week’s episode:

  • Who’s playing Destiny and on what platform?
  • What’s all this Apple news, hipsters?
  • The Sims 4 and stereotypes.
  • Why are EA so fond of release incomplete games again?
  • What’s up with EA Access and the Warner Bros proposed equivalent?
  • What are Feminist Frequency videos really about?
  • Adam, why.
  • Apparently you need to see this.
  • It’s time to talk about Destiny! (Brace yourselves.)
  • Cavie has a rant… naturally.
  • … the Destiny talk goes on for a while.
  • We answer Trebzz’s questions.

Don’t forget that you can subscribe to the RSS feed so you never miss an episode. Enjoy.

Direct Download | Libsyn | iTunes | RSS

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Hands-On: The Crew Is… Actually Quite An Entertaining Racer http://egmr.net/2014/09/hands-crew-actually-quite-entertaining-racer/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/hands-crew-actually-quite-entertaining-racer/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:00:54 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156114 The Crew is most certainly not going to be winning any awards for most anticipated game of the year; nor perhaps even most anticipated racer, given fan reactions to the […]

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The Crew is most certainly not going to be winning any awards for most anticipated game of the year; nor perhaps even most anticipated racer, given fan reactions to the new Forza game coming out this month. When it was first announced, you would have been hard-pressed to find someone who cared enough, especially when it was shown to gamers amidst the likes of Project Cars and Drive Club. But Ubisoft have stuck to their guns and paced themselves well and over time, shown that they’re planning on creating a pretty serious contender to the racing genre.

Last week saw The Crew enter its closed beta on PC. The kind folks over at the Ubisoft branch of Megarom sent us a code to this closed beta that I happily snapped up, and after suffering the indignity of having to install uPlay onto my PC, as well as enduring a lengthy 16GB download, I started up the game expecting quite honestly to be bored mindless by another game that is trying too hard to be pretty without necessarily being interesting. Or, Need for Speed: Rivals.

What resulted was… to be completely honest, quite a surprise. See The Crew is almost definitely trying very hard to be a Fast & the Furious type of game, with a very serious and cheesy storyline that deals with betrayal and revenge; but as is almost always the case with these games, none of that ever matters because the actual racing is just so damn fun and the rest of it then just becomes a compliment. This is more along the lines of what The Crew is like to play.

It’s just surprisingly entertaining.

Perhaps let’s talk about the visuals, since Ubisoft’s biggest selling point for the game initially was along the lines of, “With the power of next-gen you can race with friends in a beautiful open world!” Substitute “race” with various other words depending on what game they’re trying to peddle.

The game looks suitably stunning. Enough so for a game that is targetting the Xbox One and PS4, even though I played on PC. The open world is detailed enough to be believable and quite densely populated in parts; again, quite a boom for game involving a realistic open world. The cars look great, which just makes it all the more tragic whenever you get into a collision and have to endure them no longer looking quite as great.

The open world itself is set in a fictional recreation of the United States of America, and it’s said that you can drive from coast to coast in around ninety minutes. For the closed beta, you were restricted to a single city which in itself was quite varied, offering up urban environments in one area and farmland in another. I took issue with some of the texture resolutions, because they weren’t as up to standard as I would have liked, however everything else was crisp and the level of detail and clarity within a scene was a joy to behold. How real-life accurate the open world will be, remains to be seen. However I would not expect a Google Maps equivalent of the world if it can be traversed in ninety minutes.

Of the fully licensed vehicles on offer in the closed beta, there were just a few. A muscle car, a regular sportscar and one of those Ford sports trucks. However even those cars offered interesting perspective on the deep customisation and tuning options available to players. For example, you can switch between racing disciplines on a single car, taking it from hot rocket urban racer to rally car to long distance cruiser as you please. And then you can tweak almost every feature within those sets. Make no mistake, there is a lot of control offered to racers in this game. In fact, all while playing it I was struggling to really ‘place’ the type of game it is trying to be. At times it’s quite serious and simulation-y, but at other times it’s a lot more arcade-y and is clearly concerned with wanting you to have fun.

Coming back to the story for a moment, it’s not the most original story for a racer — convicted felon works undercover to reduce sentence, blah blah blah — but it does still do its part in evoking a sense of immersion and feeling; you actually want to participate in races, which is something I feel was woefully missing from the aforementioned Need for Speed: Rivals, where I felt I had no purpose for racing other than gawking at the open world in all its splendour.

With that said, I have to admit that I had more fun playing The Crew in my first hour than I did in the entirety of recent Need for Speed titles including Shift 2 Unleashed, Most Wanted and Rivals. Although The Run was freaking awesome… just wanted to put that in there.

It being an open and persistent world that tasks users with teaming up with other players to form part of a crew (roll credits), you are at some point forced to team up with other players and form part of a crew. Here is where I ran into some struggle. First, because it’s in closed beta there really weren’t many people playing and even other South Africans just weren’t playing at times that I was. Then even getting onto the server is a mission in and of itself, and I’m hoping it’s just a closed (heh) issue that will be resolved before release.

So with regards to cooperative modes, I cannot speak further on them. I can say that it was nice to be able to race with humans towards a common goal rather than always competitively, so it’s a really neat spin on the old and archaic formula, if anything. Jury remains firmly out on how long it will remain unique and fun, though.

In all, The Crew looks as if it could make for a really solid racing title. It certainly has the production values, and the world is alive and fluid to the point that Forza Horizon 2 might actually have some very serious competition when it’s out. I just really hope that Ubisoft don’t run into the kinds of glitches and clunky control schemes encountered on PC — but again, not even worth mentioning because this game is in closed beta, so we can’t expect a perfected product. If you are going to be play The Crew on PC, maybe get a controller. The next closed beta for the game will be on consoles, and is slated for later this month. We’ll update this article later with more, if we get into it. Meanwhile, tell us if this is a game that interests you in the comments.

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Let’s Talk About That Spider-Woman Cover http://egmr.net/2014/09/belated-note-spider-woman-sexism-story/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/belated-note-spider-woman-sexism-story/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 08:15:25 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156159 There is a phrase in media known as jumping the shark which refers to the moment something starts to creatively decline. I like to further extend that phrase to apply […]

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There is a phrase in media known as jumping the shark which refers to the moment something starts to creatively decline. I like to further extend that phrase to apply to a moment when something is so ridiculously and outrageously done that it starts to lose a bit of its stature and repute.

For example, midichlorians.

When the Spider-Woman cover pictured above first surfaced and the feminist brigade were on it — I use this phrase with a hint of humour, not maliciously — I had to admit that I looked at my PC in dismay, thinking, “Really guys? Really?” Now of course, I know where the Spider-Woman cover was derived from and I could not have expected most others to also know this. But I went ahead and read some of what people were saying and something became astutely clear to me: The anti-sexism army, who have every right to do this I should probably say, are starting to see sexism where there most certainly isn’t any. At least, not on purpose. And not in that accidental racist kind of way… there just isn’t any.

In any case, for some background, Marvel offered an artist in the porn industry the chance to create a cover art for a Spider-Woman comic. Most comic book readers didn’t have an issue with the way it looked in terms of sexism, but we pretty much unanimously agreed that it is just an ugly cover. Nonetheless, lots of pro-feminists attacked Marvel after the tweet embedded above, causing a bit of controversy in a time when the internet was already reeling from genuine, sincere sexism that really did warrant addressing, ie. Quinnspiracy and thereafter. But we’re not getting into that today.

Then this tweet happened and finally brought some sense into the mix:

Suddenly a lot of really loud voices were almost entirely quieted. Further by this:

10633332_10152247002932109_271203147442428577_o

Now I tweeted that image to someone I no longer follow, who at the time was going on and on about how sexist comic books are, and how Marvel done fucked up, and so on. Of yet, he has not responded to me or for that matter, spoken further about how Marvel done fucked up. Odd, hey?

And the thing about Spider-Woman is that she really is a very sexist character, if you want to look at her like that. She exists to be sexualised and all of her powers are focussed around being sexual and getting her way; well, almost all of them. The idea is that she’s a black widow type of spider (but since Black Widow was taken…) so she manipulates and uses men (and women) as she pleases. But the character of Jessica Drew is actually an empowered one. Kind of like that Destiny’s Child Independent Woman type of vibe, she doesn’t really answer to others and does her own thing. She’s very self-aware as a character.

Of course if you have none of this context then you’re just going to see her and go, “Sexualised object!” But that would be woefully misguided, and a rare moment in which a lot of the sexism soldiers kind of misfired a bit. Not to glorify their miss because in fairness a lot of people, once they realised, immediately stopped firing off shots at Marvel. And I can respect most of them for that, even if pretending nothing happened isn’t a cool way to handle being wrong about something.

It’s just that we’re in a time when it’s so easy to look around and spot prejudice, even when there actually isn’t really any to begin with. And to then caution restraint and encourage further (contrary) thought is to be labelled ‘on the opposing team’ or ‘condoning it’ and that’s not what it is at all. But hey, that’s just what I have to say. What do you guys think? Firstly, is this a sexist cover and should it have been some other design? Or is this a case of misguided feminism and that whole thing about imagined sexism? The floor is yours…

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Which Developers Do Gamers Really Trust? http://egmr.net/2014/09/developers-gamers-really-trust/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/developers-gamers-really-trust/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 14:15:04 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156102 Today is a momentous day for gaming, depending on who you ask. Not only is it the beginning of the so-called ‘true next gen games’ after a long drought without […]

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Today is a momentous day for gaming, depending on who you ask. Not only is it the beginning of the so-called ‘true next gen games’ after a long drought without much in the way of new stuff to play, but it’s also the release date of Destiny, a game that has taken the world by storm (without necessarily having done very much in the way of proving itself just yet). If you’re one of the sad souls folks like myself who isn’t currently playing Destiny then don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about it too much. However it was the inspiration for this article, so it does bear mention.

See, yesterday we asked the question of where all the Destiny reviews were since after all, release day embargoes have become something troubling in recent years, with the likes of Aliens: Colonial Marines and Watch_Dogs presenting underwhelming (at best) final offerings as compared to the hype factor leading up to their respective releases. Some argued that Destiny is an MMO-like game and so requires time on a populated server. Fair enough. Others argued that the beta and alpha were enough for a ‘review’ to have been conducted. Contradictory but okay.

Meanwhile, Good Guy Bungie went ahead and cleared it all up for us. What champs.

But the entire discussion surrounding the lack of release day reviews got me a little curious about what kind of trust gamers are willing to put into developers. It is my opinion that there are very few games that gamers would allow to get away with release day embargoes, and it didn’t help that gamers adamantly opposed to preorder culture were now defending the act of preordering a new IP — one that is now the most preordered in history — so it got me wondering, which developers do gamers trust enough that they would be okay with this?

And so I put it to Twitter. Here’s what I got back:

Untitled 2014-09-09

Interestingly, no Bungie mention. So I’m going to tentatively call ‘hype factor’ as the reason people are still okay with preordering Destiny; full credit to Bungie for their clarity on the matter though, when they could have just refused to comment.

Personally, and I was asked about this by a few tweeters thereafter, I trust almost all developers (coincidentally, I’ve never liked Phil Fish — it’s nice to see the rest of the internet has finally caught up with what a child he is) but cannot bring myself to trust the publishers behind them. I was called negative for this mistrust but I prefer to think of it as a ‘fool me once’ sort of scenario where I’ve been burned in the past and so err on the side of caution now. Paranoid, perhaps. But the way I see it, it saves me money if a flop inevitably occurs due to developer dishonesty, and I can always just pick up a game later — typically for cheaper — once reviews are out.

I trust the likes of Valve, BioWare, CD Projekt RED, Naughty Dog, Irrational Games and Visceral Games. I do however feel that studios the likes of BioWare and Visceral are very strongly dictated to by Electronic Arts, their publisher. And this results in a developer that while trustworthy in and of themselves, cannot be trusted with their final products. I genuinely believe that the likes of Mass Effect 3 and Dead Space 3 were excellent but ultimately misguided games into which developers poured their love and affection but publishers pissed all over because money mattered more than entertainment value.

To paraphrase The Italian Job: I trust everyone; it’s the publisher behind them I don’t trust.

No developer really truly wants to take your money and rip you off. I don’t believe that for a second.

What do you guys think, though? Are all of these names correct, or do you have horror stories from dealing with some of these developers? What names are missing, from those already listed? And to what extent do you trust developers, if at all? For example: Would you blindly preorder a game they’re putting out, with minimal coverage? Or would you show faith in them even if they showed you something you weren’t immediately impressed by? Let us know in the comments.

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Get Warlock: Master Of The Arcane For Free With The Humble Summer Sale http://egmr.net/2014/09/get-warlock-master-arcane-free-humble-summer-sale/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/get-warlock-master-arcane-free-humble-summer-sale/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 09:45:07 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=156060 There are some really great deals going on right now, over on the Humble Bundle website. I mean, there always are really great deals but even more so this month. […]

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There are some really great deals going on right now, over on the Humble Bundle website.

I mean, there always are really great deals but even more so this month. To celebrate the end of summer (lol?) in the Northern Hemisphere — or the beginning of a really hot six months or so in Durban — the generous folks over at Humble Bundle have secured some special offerings and even free games as part of the Humble Summer Sale.

For the next few hours only, you can secure for yourself a copy of Warlock: Master of the Arcane, entirely free of charge!

There are also a whole bunch of games selling at reduced prices including the excellent The Wolf Among Us, as well as the likes of Amnesia and Gone Home. Be sure to bookmark the site and visit often because there will also be flash sales at various points from now until September 22nd.

What are you waiting for? Go get your free game and buy more really cheap games to support charities!

Thanks to Richard for the share.

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Our 97th Podcast Records Tonight — Ask Us Things http://egmr.net/2014/09/97th-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/97th-podcast-records-tonight-ask-us-things/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 09:00:56 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=155965 We live in a world so full of variety and difference to the point that we treasure uniqueness, but even uniqueness is just another in a series of variations from […]

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We live in a world so full of variety and difference to the point that we treasure uniqueness, but even uniqueness is just another in a series of variations from the norm, so what is truly unique and what is just something you’ll only ever come across a few times in your life if at all? But enough about that existential crisis, tonight we’ll be recording episode ninety-seven of the eGamer Podcast; that’s right, we’re almost at a hundred everyone!

This article is your chance to get involved in things. We adore our readers and we want you guys to have a say in our podcast. So go ahead and scroll down to the comments section and think up some really cool questions for us, then post them there. They need not necessarily pertain to gaming. Trust me when I say, we’ll answer anything…

Then be sure to check out either the site, our Libsyn page, iTunes or our RSS feed later in the week for the podcast, which will have all the answers and more. Tell your friends!

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Brace Yourselves For Slender Man’s Arrival On Consoles This Month http://egmr.net/2014/09/brace-slender-mans-arrival-consoles-month/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/brace-slender-mans-arrival-consoles-month/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 11:15:07 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=155975 If you’re one of those folks who delighted in horror as Slender took the world by storm a few years ago, you probably saw its sequel Slender: The Arrival and […]

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If you’re one of those folks who delighted in horror as Slender took the world by storm a few years ago, you probably saw its sequel Slender: The Arrival and quite possibly played it when it released last year. And shrieked up a frenzy.

We kind of loved it, and now the game that originally released on Steam in October 2013 will be finding its way to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this month, on the the 23rd and 24th respectively. Almost a full year later.

The console version of the game will ship with all of the content from the PC version as well as “brand new story elements” while also featuring “extended levels that continue to unfold the Slender Man mythos,” explained publisher Midnight City.

That mythos, of course, spawned from a meme; so really, Slender is the internet gamified.

If you’re on PC and suffering from severe FOMO then worry not because the extra console content will be retroactively added to Steam versions, allowing you to play all of it absolutely free. It’s about time you went through the horror of it all again anyway.

The console version of the indie game that was developed as a collaborative project between Blue Isle Studios and Parsec Productions will be available for purchase later this month at a US price of $9.99, which you can work out as necessary based on your respective region. Expect trophies and achievements when it’s out… hopefully.

As of yet there is no word on whether it will come to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One but hey, with enough of a fanbase and the crazy amount of indie goodness on current-gen previously-next-gen consoles, who knows?

Will you be picking up Slender: The Arrival on consoles? Hit up the commments and let us know.

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The Gaming Anarchist Collective Addresses #GamerGate And Why Gamers Are Furious http://egmr.net/2014/09/gaming-anarchist-collective-addresses-gamergate-gamers-furious/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/gaming-anarchist-collective-addresses-gamergate-gamers-furious/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:30:45 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=155862 Or: Sickboy puts the entire debate to bed, once and for all. In recent weeks the internet has been flooded with controversy and debate surrounding first the Quinnspiracy saga and […]

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Or: Sickboy puts the entire debate to bed, once and for all.

In recent weeks the internet has been flooded with controversy and debate surrounding first the Quinnspiracy saga and then a new video by Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian who capitalised on the hype surrounding the former.

In the throes of all this conflict came a very serious discussion about ethics and corruption in the gaming industry, and journalists started to turn on their readers; the gamers of the world. It effectively became something of war, “us vs them” as I termed it. And we’ve done our best to cover all of it extensively.

But for as much as we’ve done to talk about all of this with an air of transparency and objectivity, there is a person online who has really been taking it to some of those journalists who he claims have vilified gamers entirely, rather hypocritically. That person is friend of the site Sickboy, from the Gaming Anarchist Collective. And he’s put out a video addressing the #GamerGate and #NotYourShield Twitter trends, and all of the destruction they’ve wrought. Is this considered favourable journalism? Fuck it. It’s a good video and we want to share it with the world.

So go ahead and have a watch. You have all the knowledge you need, to understand everything he’ll talk about. Be sure to comment and share some thoughts of your own, down below. I have to say, it’s been a really rough few weeks and I don’t think any self-respecting writer or gamer who has been in the thick of this has not, at some point or the other, considered dropping it and walking a way. It is a testament to gamers the world over, that we’re still here and trying to have a conversation rather than keep fighting about it. I salute you all.

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Rise Of The Tomb Raider Could Be Destiny’s Failure Foreshadowed http://egmr.net/2014/09/rise-tomb-raider-destinys-foreshadowing/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/rise-tomb-raider-destinys-foreshadowing/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 08:15:15 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=155501 There really isn’t a sexy way to start this article so let’s just go ahead and do it like this: Hi internet, remember me? I’m the guy who wanted Destiny […]

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There really isn’t a sexy way to start this article so let’s just go ahead and do it like this: Hi internet, remember me? I’m the guy who wanted Destiny to fail. I still do, but wait! Don’t go anywhere just yet, hear me out. Come on. Would it help if I said that I don’t actually think of Destiny as a bad game? What if I said that I have no doubt in my mind that Bungie will earn many awards for Destiny and that it will have a very successful launch with some rave reviews this week? There, better? What’s that you say? “But Caveshen you beautiful man hypocritical asshole, how can you call it a success and want it to fail?” Ah now there’s an interesting point of debate, wouldn’t you say? Am I just jealous and cynical? Do I hate gaming? Or is there some method to my madness? You’ll just have to read on and find out…

Now before we go any further I’d like to just clear the air a little. I did not expect the kind of reaction that I got to that column, when I first typed it up. I remember sitting at my PC early that weekend and typing out the article relatively lackadaisically, anticipating a busy weekend away from my PC. So I quickly put together an opinion I had held for quite some time, opting out of boring everyone with statistics or figures pulled from old articles with relevance that I could only speculate at. I instead kept it short and to the point, without much of the elaboration that I now realise was absolutely necessary. When it blew up, I was quite surprised. Pleasantly in some ways but also a little disappointed at how quickly gamers would refute my argument without trying to really see where I was coming from; convinced that it was actually me who was not willing to see where they were coming from, in a great twist of irony.

I decided that a knee-jerk reaction to that column was perhaps not the wisest idea (although to be fair, I did actually do that anyway to a lesser extent) and I waited it out for a few months so that I could provide the elaboration that I had originally failed to provide on account of thinking it wasn’t necessary for my point to have been made. I obviously know better now, and I really do want to have this discussion; as luck would have it, Gamescom 2014 happened and I got quite possibly the most compelling piece of evidence to support a claim that I had been making from day one.

The claim? That Activision could be doing with Destiny, what Square Enix has been doing with its various Western licenses since acquiring them from Eidos.

At this point I’d like to firmly establish my awareness of the fact that Activision is in fact not Square Enix. However many similarities can be drawn, such as the incessant milking of popular but well-aged franchises, as well as the unrealistic expectations of development teams and the games they put out. Activision has closed down various studios for no longer being relevant, while Square Enix has a rate of announcing Final Fantasy games that has led to the series no longer being relevant. Activision would need to sell upwards of fifteen million copies to break even with Destiny while Square Enix sold just under four million copies of Tomb Raider within the first month and then deemed it a failure because it didn’t sell more copies. That’s a pretty loaded statement so first let’s talk about Destiny’s budget. It’s massive. $500 million massive. We’ll come back to this one. The next part is Square Enix’s sales expectations of Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider was the eighth-largest selling game of its year, behind some truly big hitters the likes of Grand Theft Auto V, Pokemon X/Y and the usual FIFA and Call of Duty offerings. The eighth-largest game of the year, and it was considered a failure. Just what was Square Enix smoking?

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In my original Destiny article, I wanted to use the comparison of Square Enix and Tomb Raider, and Activision and Destiny (something I eventually did in our podcast) because I felt that Crystal Dynamics and Bungie were in similar boats here; having massive wads of cash thrown at them and not really knowing quite what to do with all of it. Steeped in speculation, sure, but a lot of it is there to be seen really.

Let’s talk about the budget for Destiny. $500 million, which a lot of commenting readers were quick to point out was actually over a ten-year long term. I question just how anyone would believe that, but I will for sake of arguments go with this logic. How much then has been spent on Destiny itself? And what is this long-term plan, exactly? I’ll be the first to admit that this cash injection has resulted in a pretty sweet Planet View website but then again, Freelancer had something similar and it had nowhere near this budget way back in 2003. So where is all the money going to, and how does Activsion plan on making all of it back? Certainly, Destiny does not look or play like anything that would justify a $500 million dollar budget, and that’s okay if it’s a long-term budget, but then what exactly is the plan over this long term and will they, in effect, be able to keep this entire plan under budget across such a long space of time with our volatile economy? $500 million would probably be two and a half Call of Duty games worth of money, and that’s maybe four years worth of development time at most. How does $500 million stretch across ten years, accounting for inflation? So already we see some stumbling blocks in this so-called long-term plan. But I am getting far too thick into this when I can simply say the following: If you played Destiny today, how much would you say went into developing it?

I will say that a lot more has gone into marketing it, and really there is no need from Activision because gamers are doing more than enough singing of its praises, and of course, defending of its name, online. When this game releases, servers will go down and the internet might just break. It’ll take a few weeks before we can trust any of the reviews coming out, and even then people might still be playing it fervently. Then, and this is just my prediction, Titanfall syndrome will take over and everyone will simply move on to other games. And conveniently forget that it is one of the most expensive games in the history of gaming.

But bringing it back to Square Enix for a moment, this year at Gamescom 2014, the sequel to Tomb Raider was announced and, surprise surprise (it really was a surprise), it’s an Xbox One exclusive. We all know the kind of fan response that got, so the less said of that, the better, I think. But for all Rise of the Tomb Raider’s controversy and shock at it being an Xbox One exclusive, a lot of the blame was laid squarely, no pun intended, at the feet of its publisher, Square Enix. Selling out for an exclusivity arrangement on a game that began on none of the gaming platforms currently favoured by gamers, and now only available on one of them… maybe for a limited time. I mean come on, we all know this is a timed exclusive. Anyway the point is, Square Enix needed to make back the money it invested in the Tomb Raider reboot. It was, speculatively, decided that the best way to do that was to enter into an exclusivity deal. Who lost out? Two thirds of Tomb Raider’s fanbase, effectively. Perhaps more if you count those who went over to PS4 from their Xbox 360s.

Rise of the Tomb Raider stands as a testament to a few things, arguably. For one, that Square Enix really didn’t know what they were doing when they acquired the various Eidos IP because they have not managed to make great successes of any of them. For two, Square Enix has not realised that throwing money at a thing does not immediately turn it into a successful venture. And for three, if you do throw money at something and you then wish to make that money back, then prepare for some unscrupulous business practices in order to recuperate your resources. Square Enix sold out the Tomb Raider exclusivity because it needed to make back the initial investment from Tomb Raider’s reboot a few years ago. That’s obviously a massive claim coming from myself, but the evidence is pretty much there to be seen. We’re never going to get actual stats from these publishers anyway.

So how does this relate to Destiny? Well in many ways, this foreshadows what could come to pass for Destiny. We already have the massive investment of cash in something that is actually a completely unknown entity; I mean, it’s a new IP. Many gamers seem to have forgotten that. So while it could be massively successful and actually make a lot of the investment back, there always exists a chance that it doesn’t actually sell as well as Activision are hoping for, and then come the unscrupulous business practices in order to recuperate resources.

I could go two further and state that, a) Destiny actually does achieve massive success leading to escalation and a snowball effect of more investment until the above-mentioned scenario comes to pass (we’ll call this one the Call of Duty scenario) but with the added effect of many, many Destiny clones also coming out, or b) The long-term budget really is long-term and so Destiny’s sales don’t really matter because it’s more about seeding for a new franchise in which case many gamers who purchase Destiny now will play the role of early adopters, and we know how it always works out for early adopters; pay now to pay more later, and all that.

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The only remaining question then, is: In this sort of scenario, who wins besides Activision? If Destiny is a massive success, they win. If it isn’t, they sell the IP or close the studio down, or secure an exclusivity deal for the next game, and win. And so on and so forth. Does it matter to gamers? It ought to. I mean, sure we can all celebrate what a great game Destiny is, the same way we celebrated what a great game Modern Warfare was, but in the end where does the road lead to and are we only capable of thinking in the short term? Remember, this is a game unlike most others because most other games don’t even have a long-term plan, and those that do — Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, etc. — tend to show how they really don’t have a clue. So who are we really fooling here?

It’s weird for me how it’s considered bad practice to want a game to fail, yet we have in the past gone on about the likes of on-disc DLC, always-online DRM (remember Diablo III’s Error 37 and SimCity, guys?), sequelitis and more. We have absolutely torn and ripped our way through some excellent offerings in the past. The likes of BioShock: Infinite, which is an excellent game, has been crucified by gaming writers and gamers alike, for having plot inconsistencies and failing to recapture the charm of the first BioShock title. We have been criticising games for as long as I can remember. And yet I can’t stand up and say, “Yeah I think this game is great and it’s probably going to do really well but for the sake of the stability of the gaming industry, I hope it fails.” Because then I’m the enemy.

I’ve opted not to speak of the economic factors in play with a high expenditure such as that of the $500 million budget currently on offer to Bungie from Activision. In a nutshell it will up the stakes and call for other developers to increase their respective expenditures on games to keep up, if Destiny is indeed successful. The net result is that so much money goes into the industry that it becomes even more high-risk and forces campy developer practice while much of the risk-taking is sacrificed; the long-run could lead to developer closures or mergers to the point that perhaps a handful of triple-A developers remain and are comprised of the remnants of each other, while the rest of the industry forms the indie market. Not the most ideal situation, and the least boring way for me to explain it.

And now I must once again state that all of this is entirely speculative. But they are my reasons for wanting Destiny to fail. It is nothing personal against the game or the developers. I in fact would like to wish Bungie all of the best in dealing with Activision and I truly hope their game does great things for them, because they are a quality developer and I really mean it when I say that. If none of what I’ve written about here today comes to pass, I would honestly be okay with being proven wrong and even mocked and jeered for it. But I had to at least explain myself, because I felt I owed as much to you guys who read my opinion and probably thought, “WTF Cavie.” Hopefully now we can again have nice things? At least until reviews are out.

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Anita Sarkeesian’s ‘Women As Background Decoration’ Videos Are Actually Excellent Critiques http://egmr.net/2014/09/anita-sarkeesians-women-background-decoration-videos-actually-excellent-critiques/ http://egmr.net/2014/09/anita-sarkeesians-women-background-decoration-videos-actually-excellent-critiques/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 11:15:26 +0000 http://egmr.net/?p=155748 Here’s an interesting situation: What if after reading this article, people start calling me a Social Justice Warrior or FemiNazi because I actually liked something from that evil Anita Sarkeesian […]

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Here’s an interesting situation: What if after reading this article, people start calling me a Social Justice Warrior or FemiNazi because I actually liked something from that evil Anita Sarkeesian woman who is totally obviously ruining gaming? I’d probably introduce those people to the folks who called me misogynist for saying we should be questioning Apple about the iCloud hack rather than soapboxing about a woman’s right to privacy, which is a philosophical debate and not necessarily related to cyber-security.

But that is that and here we are today, talking about the latest in the Feminist Frequency series of videos listed under Tropes vs Women in Video Games; this mini-series entitled Women As Background Decoration, with the second part of these videos only recently released. Naturally, the internet erupted with the usual ferocity over yet another video that is going to ruin gaming for everyone, and so on. Meanwhile, I watched it and thought to myself, “Holy hell, she actually has a goddamn point.”

So I thought fuck it, let’s talk about it.

Perhaps let’s get some of the nitty-gritty out of the way first, so that we can immediately eliminate the naysayers who are already itching at the fingers to type out long-winded comments about how I’m obviously wrong and fuck Anita Sarkeesian. Shall we?

 

Nature versus Nurture

It’s perhaps most relevant to immediately disclose that yes, Anita Sarkeesian is not actually a gamer. In fact, she refers to this industry as ‘tech’ and that never ceases to make me wince upon reading it. That said, I don’t necessarily see the problem here. See here’s the thing: When you’re knee-deep in things, often your reality starts to blur and you stop seeing the extent of what you’re actually doing. Kind of like Spec-Ops: The Line. This is why people who grow up in harsh environments become desensitised to the harshness; why people in South Africa for example don’t really put much thought into the heinous nature of crime. It’s a sort of bias, and we as gamers know a lot about bias, am I right? Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to point out the thing we’ve been doing wrong all our lives, because we’re so used to that thing that we just don’t see that it’s wrong. We’ve stopped questioning it and just accepted it as part of our life. Our culture, so to speak.

Naturally this sort of awareness, once raised, will not be met with blissful gratitude. After all, who is this external entity and how can they possibly know better? Regardless, many facets of life will teach that sometimes an external mediator is exactly what’s needed, and after initially resisting the change we start to accept what this external entity has to say. This is why Anita Sarkeesian is the perfect candidate for criticising videogames; she is not marred by our biases and is not desensitised to the same things we are.

While watching her videos, I couldn’t help but find myself thinking that she was wrong and wanting so vehemently to prove that she was wrong, but over the course of what I was watching I began to realise that not only was she right in what she said — which is to say, her criticisms had validity — but disproving them in the manner I wanted to did not somehow invalidate criticisms that are basically just observations made by someone who is not even a gamer. Which is, I feel, another key aspect of the discussion: She isn’t even a gamer and yet she can see what is wrong with this picture. How can we not?

So with that said, let’s firmly establish that Anita Sarkeesian not being a gamer is a really, really great thing because it means she can see what our eyes cannot necessarily see. Further, as someone who is not actually a gamer, how fucking impressive is it that she can pull so many diverse examples of sexism in videogames? How many of you can do the same, as gamers? Now, let’s move onto what everyone no doubt wants to see, and talk about some criticisms I have for the series of videos.

 

Some criticisms of Feminist Frequency

I question the need for the amount of money raised via KickStarter for the Feminist Frequency series of videos. I have seen people on YouTube do a lot, and I do mean a lot, more, for free. You need look no further than the Mass Effect 3 Indoctrination Theory and the BioShock: Infinite Timeline Reformation Theory for examples of really extensively researched and impressively detailed videos that users didn’t ask hundreds of thousands of dollars for, to make. When you ask money to do something that others can do for free, and potentially better, then naturally you’re going to raise some eyebrows and get people poking and prodding to find out where that money is actually going. Because nobody, and I do mean nobody, likes a scammer.

Not that I’m claiming Feminist Frequency videos are a scam. The mere fact that they make the impact that they do is enough justification, I feel, to have them on the internet. I just feel they still have to do more given their asking price, freely available online or not.

Then we must come to the actual criticisms offered in the videos. When it comes to literature, nobody questions the reason Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is sold at bookstores, nor indeed the treatment of women in books by Martin, Orwell, Tokien, Rowling or anyone else for that matter. Nobody even so much as bats an eyelid when Oliver Mellors has his way with Lady Chatterley (for brevity, we won’t discuss the abhorrent waste that is anything Twilight or 50 Shades). They’re considered period pieces, required for the purposes of literature and art and to understand our history and where we have come from. A necessary part of our culture as humans.

So why is this not necessarily applicable to a period piece style of game, the likes of Assassin’s Creed or even Watch_Dogs? I especially take issue that some of the examples used in the videos are framed to suggest that it is a targeted role of players to exploit women in a particular way when in fact this is not necessarily the case (to her credit, Anita Sarkeesian does make mention of this point). For example, in Assassin’s Creed, yes okay there’s the Animus and they’re taking you back to a ‘simulated’ history but that simulated history ought surely to portray women as they were portrayed in that historical setting? Likewise, Watch_Dogs will show a sexual abuse case as part of a random event, but is that not what happens in real life as well? Yes again this game contains a sci-fi element with regards to hacking but then does that mean we must suspend disbelief with every other aspect of the game as well, to the point that no realism is allowed into the game? If you are walking through a modern day Chicago, are women not being sexualised, objectified and possibly even sexually assaulted on those streets? And if you were a vigilante, would you not also try to help them?

It’s all good and well to show the bad, and that absolutely holds its own weight in validity, but let’s question what is actually gratuitous and what is done with an element of realism or historical accuracy in certain situations. To some extent she does this, and her counter-arguments hold notable gravitas, but I feel they’re not enough and could easily, themselves, be countered, with just a little more thought. To the point that it might delve into cyclical logic territory, and nobody wants that.

Now with all of that said and out of the way, let’s get to the juicy bits of controversy. Here are the things that I absolutely loved about Anita Sarkeesian’s latest mini-series of videos.

 

Why Anita Sarkeesian did a really good job this time

Sometimes even a complete asshole can make some valid points, so even when we don’t agree with or even like the person we are speaking to, it is important that we pay attention to what they’re saying if we want to remain impartial and objective, and have an actual mature discussion about something. In this respect whatever your opinion of Anita Sarkeesian might be, it would take a stubborn, bullish and downright ignorant person to deny that she does exceptionally well to cover her points in these recent videos.

While watching, every time I thought up a counter-argument to a point she made, she went ahead and talked about that very counter-argument later on in the video and effectively covered herself from every angle of reproach. Now that doesn’t mean she is entirely beyond reproach (and it certainly doesn’t mean she had to do this, I mean how many games journalists even do it at all?) but what it means is that she considered every side of the argument, and if you can’t respect that then you either have a personal grudge against her or you’re seeing something sinister that I just cannot. Anita Sarkeesian (I basically have to say her full name like that now) establishes her points of critique fairly and addresses counter-points in a satisfactory manner, for the most part.

Sometimes the points she makes are questionable, or certainly feel that way; I mean to say that you might look at a point she raises and think, “Wait a second…” Typically though, if you give it a few more seconds of thought (allowing for bias) then you realise that she kind of has a point and they’re all valid criticisms regardless of how you might question them. For example a lot of the points she raises revolve around male power fantasies and how women in games are created to be used as plot devices (Elizabeth in BioShock: Infinite, anyone?) or fluff content, and almost always treat the player with sexual intrigue rather than casual indifference. I look at these examples and think, “Well fuck, if real life was like that, I probably wouldn’t be playing videogames because I’d be covered in women.” Male power fantasies, whether we think she’s pulling them out of her ass or not, are there to be seen as soon as you open your eyes and look, rather than stubbornly refusing to even entertain the thought, and this series illustrates this and more points excellently.

As gamers, and I suppose just humans, we are extremely defensive of that thing we love and it’s tough to hear someone come in and tell us it’s not what we think it is. I think we blind ourselves to it. But in the end we must remember that Anita Sarkeesian is not trying to ruin gaming for us. She’s trying to create some discussion over what she feels is blatant sexism in the videogame industry, specifically related to the games we play. She doesn’t attack a particular developer, nor a particular series of games, but uses examples to make her points, and examples that work. Granted they are sometimes very framed examples, but that still does not take away from the points she makes.

If I was to show you a woman getting raped on a street corner and said that women get raped on street corners, you wouldn’t abjectly deny it and go, “Well I’m not the one doing the raping!” Somehow this is what we do for the videogame examples she raises. Perhaps because the sexism debate is running so rampant of late, and there are genuinely misguided fools who, disgustingly, believe they are championing the cause for or against sexism. But when Anita Sarkeesian raises a point in this series of videos, and you watch them objectively and from the perspective of someone who wants to understand where she’s coming from, it becomes more and more impossible to refute her claims that something is fundamentally wrong.

Only creationists would vehemently deny what is there to be seen. And gaming ought not to be a religion.

In the end it’s just criticism and unlike the Jack Thompsons of the world, Anita Sarkeesian is not lobbying to get videogames banned. People are arguing that she is going to ruin gaming and you know what? I agree. She is. But not in the way you think… she’s going to ruin the idea of gaming as we currently see it. That is to say, she’s going to help it to grow and mature and become better. Not necessarily more representative but more self-aware, and that can only be a good thing. Unlike the Jack Thompsons of the world who want to outright ban videogames and push their political agendas, Anita Sarkeesian is not pushing a political agenda and is not calling for the outright banning of videogames. Nor is she implicated in any sex scandals, to my knowledge. She’s simply asking us to see what she sees and try to think about what’s going on with this picture.

 

But is it gaming or society that’s the problem?

That’s the question, isn’t it? See for all Anita Sarkeesian is doing right by highlighting these injustices in videogames, they are not necessarily injustices exclusive to videogames. Surely a lot of us have seen the other sides of the internet and of course everyday life where you get creeps, perverts and depraved individuals prowling and ruining the fun for everyone. I’ve seen some hilarious Twitter accounts from people who are obviously not accustomed to the internet and believe that it’s okay to proposition a girl in a tweet with others mentioned, for example. It’s this reasoning that has led me to believe that we on the internet, for all the trolls, hackers and other depraved individuals prowling and ruining the fun for everyone, are at least slightly more evolved (not scientifically speaking) than our non-internet counterparts. We are actually more progressive than the rest of humanity, I feel. So perhaps it is society that is actually at fault here?

When I first saw Anita Sarkeesian’s videos, I looked at the chequered shirt she wore and the large hoop earrings and thought, “Yup, she’s either a massive lesbian or an obvious feminist; the kind who refuses to shave and probably questions everything in the world ever, as having sexist connotations.” Misogynistic of me? Absolutely. It was an initial and very judgemental impression that I’ve since entirely dismissed; I do not purport to be perfect, only growing and learning like everyone else. But this was my impression, and it had little to do with my experience as a gamer. As a gamer, I was taught that I can be a better person and do the right thing and basic Mass Effect styled Paragon stuff. So maybe the inherent issue isn’t gaming but actually our societal culture?

In her videos, Anita Sarkeesian highlights sexually objectifying gaming ads as examples of sexism. I’ve seen movie ads and even book covers that do the same thing, or worse. In her videos, Anita Sarkeesian highlights examples of gratuitous violence and exploitation of women as examples of sexism. I’ve seen movies and books that do the same thing, or worse. I’ve listened to music that goes ten steps further than any game ever did. I accept that gaming is different because of the interactive element, but I question how much of a difference it has to a book that actively asks you to recreate a scenario in your imagination or ‘mind’s eye’, of a women getting sexually assaulted. So perhaps it’s not a closed situation that relates specifically to gaming.

But does that mean it’s not necessarily relevant to gaming? Of course not.

And that’s why I love these videos. Because it shows the rate of growth and change that gaming is experiencing, that far eclipses anything books and movies ever did. We are effectively overtaking these other forms of media, and Anita Sarkeesian is at the helm of this advance in maturity. Sexism might be a contentious topic online, but she at least is bravely facing it head-on rather than casually disregarding it. She isn’t so much calling for war as she is calling for awareness. And for that, she has my respect. I might not necessarily be a worshipful fan of hers, and I still question what the money was for, but I can respect what she is doing for gaming. And if you can’t, then well… perhaps tell us in the comments why.

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