End of Nations Preview

End of Nations is a MMORTS created by the Petroglyph studio which is mostly made up of Westwood Studio employees (Responsible for the C&C series) and published by Trion, creators of Rift. End of Nations is a massive game which allows up to 56 players to face off against each other. Players choose 3 companies to sponsor their forces, which define your abilities and playstyle; with several companies and many possible combinations to explore, this keeps the matches varied with plenty of action.

I’m going to start with: It’s definitely a game that will have you investing. It’s a persistent game with various regions to fight for control of; these sections are fought over on maps that are scattered across the EoN world map. Factions are able to flip these territories into their control 24 hours a day, so there’s no telling what will have happened when you get back online again. This is a great way of keeping the factions on their toes by shifting the posts, not changing the actual goal but the distance to it, and will have gamers enjoying the time they invest into the game.

The aim of the game is to control as many points of interest on the map and/or destroy the opposing side’s base to win. EoN does throw some unique challenges into the matches such as having to disable an enemy’s shield by holding points of interest in order to damage their base. These ideas will keep your attention pinned to the game and they don’t conflict with the other modes; you can make strategies and expand your skill tree but also Petroglyph want to control the pace of progression so you get the most out of every match and ultimately the game.

If you can dare to imagine so many persistent gamers or gamers looking to nest again, you can see EoN’s huge potential for growth which Petroglyph have incorporated into the game and ensured it rolls along with the rhythm and constant feed of activity. This is then woven into parts of the game so you’re basically acting like a tree yourself when you play, spreading out your skills and traits and then re-organising and re-engineering your army to create bigger and better strategies.

Nestled in the middle of all this strategic tinkering is the core of the game, the progression and customisation when you’re out of combat. You can check out the companies that build certain types of technology, take a look at your Hero Units, explore your Skill Tree and then there’s the extensive customisation which affects a lot of aspects of the game and helps you achieve a greater sense of control.

Did I mention that End of Nations is free? FREE?!

You pay no real money into the game but you can earn the in game currency to purchase additional in game content. You also earn your unlocks as you progress so play is as fair as possible, balance like this is a necessity with so many players and End of Nations’ complete game plan covers these bases. You can’t sell parts of the game off either, like map packs, so everyone can continue to play together without being broken up into the haves and have-nots. These are the type of balances End of Nations has an abundance of because of the bigger picture Petroglyph have in mind while building the game. Which ultimately can make so much sense my head hurts…

I can’t wait to play more myself, I was a very successful commander when I had a chance to play and I look forward to its Beta testing phases and ultimately the release as there’s a million and one reasons why we should support this game design ethos.

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Review: Xbox 360: Forza 4

Think about all of those 8,460 bolts it takes to make just one car run on the road and then think about a racing simulator that could reflect that exact engineering vision but with crisp and easy to navigate menus. Take an options system that’s capable of filtering difficulties for maximum accessibility include the considerable growth from a widespread community and merge them all together. You have the world of Forza 4.

Forza 4’s instantly crisp impressions touch the vehicles too and will have your engine roaring for a good long dose of racing simulation action. The edges of vehicles look slightly smoother compared to F3 but keep those recognisable details and features which always finished off Forza’s cars making them look so damn good! The most exotic vehicles drive even more beautifully and you can take them onto some of the most famous (and infamous) roads you can imagine experiencing. Forza offers this and more to its gamers as its smart and smooth layout takes you right into this world of speed and beauty without any hiccups.

Forza 4 begins with a proper petrol head intro with Jeremy Clarkson providing the voice over for gritty clips of some beautiful cars belting it round multiple tracks It then shows you the power Forza has when it brings a sparkly new virtual Ferrari up close to the screen for you to get a bit steamy over. Soon after that you’ll get your first chance to experience that smooth feel to the driving with a quick lap round a circuit before you choose your first vehicle and get stuck into the majority of the game. When you first stick your foot down you can feel the grip of the tires as they grab the track, you can really feel this coming through into your hands. Then there’s the entourage of sounds that accompany you round the track, the revving engine tones and collisions being particularly enjoyable. Forza’s soundtrack isn’t too outrageous either, which leaves more of these sounds to be picked up during game play and when all of these little delights come together you have one of Forza’s characteristics, and that’s outstanding quality as standard.

Forza has always had a great talent for showcasing its in-game vehicles (it even has its own showcase mode in AutoVista) and when you pick your first car you’ll notice this attention to detail and the amazing lighting effects that go with them. When you start World Tour mode the vehicles for the first races are already optimised – you can learn about that later in the game. You’ll start with the lower tier cars and work your way up either buying them from dealers with hard earned cash or with Microsoft Points, you can also earn them as rewards for completing certain requirements through-out the game. Forza’s lighting effects can make even the smallest hatchback look like a Mini Cooper, even watching your opponents pass you is actually enjoyable. The lower tier cars are good fun to practice with but they’re a little tail happy and will flick and spin if you push way too hard round corners. There’s an option to tinker with the difficulty so you can hammer the brakes and corners if you wish but when you add these aids they will cost you experience and credits as punishment for your shortcomings.

In World Tour mode you’ll start in a division and within that divisions they are a certain amount of races to complete to get to the next set of races. This is all World Tour mode essentially is but you have a huge amount of tracks, vehicles and objectives to complete within it and it’s a great way of earning extra cars and other such goodies quickly. World Tour mode is Forza’s base, its foundations, and from this point you’ll get lost in Forza for a good few hours as it can quickly become a deceptively captivating experience. Forza has a great selection of vehicles to compliment all of its circuits too, there’s over 500 vehicles from manufacturers like Volkswagen, Toyota, Ferrari and more. It does lack some more serious exotic cars, with Porche is conspicuous by its absence, but Forza has more than enough to compensate.

You can paint, tune and generally tinker with you purchased vehicles in the Cars menu, these features help keep you looking like a boss on the track and help you create a near perfect racing balance and load-out for your four-wheeled friend. If you like to fiddle around under the bonnet or want to take your vehicle into another higher (or lower) tier you can upgrade the parts and change the performance of the vehicle in this menu tab. You can adjust the tyre pressure, gear ratios, wheel alignment and more while there are lots of parts and manufacturers for the more advanced drivers to get choosy over. You can even change the colour of your rims too or even tint your windows! There is an instant option for gamers who find this a little unsatisfying or too difficult with the A.I. building you a better set-up depending on what tier you want. Forza offers you some cool stuff to mess about with in-between races and you can and up with some amazing results if you go all out on your chosen vehicle!

To unlock extra items you’ll have to get winning races and improve your driver level and your current chosen manufacturers affinity level. You improve these levels by racing on a higher difficulty, not using the rewind system which makes a return from Forza 3, and taking no damage to gain extra credits. This experience system will unlock most of what you need or want during your game time and gives you something else to aim for while your collecting your cars and defeating every racer who fancies trying it on. If you want to capture and relive these moments when you overcome your rivals you can save your replays at the end of the race and then view them at your own leisure – maybe even take a nice photo to show your mum. For online gamers you can upload your favourite photos or replays to the Storefront.

The circuit list is impressive with many recognisable names surfacing and as always the Nürburgring circuit steps-up to offer some of the best driving to be had in the game. World Tour mode’s different classes make certain tracks a pleasure to drive every time and can be used to create some ferocious competition online as well. Forza’s Xbox live features means your times can be uploaded to the leaderboards and you can receive recommendations in the Message Centre menu. These recommendations offer you a specific challenge where you’ll need to beat your friends or online rivals times for certain locked rewards.

When navigating anything Forza 4 always keeps you informed; sets of information like Circuit locations and reward types appear neatly on your screen, organised in rows, sometimes within boxes helping to give Forza 4 a more laid back appearance. It is much easier to navigate the menus this time around and is kinder on the eyes; no blinding white menu just cool gray shades with a crisp linear design.

There’s a healthy selection of race types to choose from online or off which gives most players a chance to win or improve their driver level. Challenge Events consist of events like World Championships and Autocross events; World Championships will require you to compete through a whole day of gritty racing in two heats. There’s the Multi-Class races where two different classes of vehicle are placed on the track together but with a distinct margin between them, a race type which makes a return from the previous title. Finally there’s the Top Gear Bowling Events which frankly strike me as being a little half arsed at best. These events provide a small challenge if you want to spar it out and beat your friends’ times.

Event list mode and Rivals mode are available just underneath the World Tour mode and smartly round up all of the available events and records for you to view in a easy to use system where you can explore other information and driving aspects. Events lists lets you browse all of the races easily in a neat grid organised by class and race conditions; you can also select races here to complete separately from World Tour mode so gamers have a quicker way to get into the action with all experience and rewards still given.

AutoVista isn’t incredibly useful but a nice feature to have anyway. With AutoVista you can explore every inch of your chosen vehicle and interact with various parts too, you can move around it and open doors to climb inside. When you get inside the vehicle you’ll be able to see the great amounts of detail Turn 10 have added to the cars, you can also see this detailing when you’re driving in the cockpit view which adds a touch more class to Forza 4. The attention to detail is staggering as Forza seems to improve on this every time, with the developers adding little touches to bring the series up to speed without destroying the structure within the Forza series.

Forza 4’s online world always seems to have something going on within its walls and the multiplayer lay-out is similar to World Tour with the section tabs being laid out down the left side. Amongst other things here, you can read the news – do it every day and you’ll receive a free complimentary random credit bonus from Turn 10. Races are normally set up without any problems and you’d be surprised at the quality of sportsmanship found in the Forza community (do watch out for the odd hot head though) and you can create a car club if you want to get involved further. If you are the founder of the club you have control over who gets into your club, who’s in charge when you’re gone and create the clubs identity, this can provide groups or clans with an ideal set up to create rivalry online with other clubs. There are online Leaderboards to climb as well as an Auction House where you can bid on cars or sell a few of yours. Forza 4’s online hub caters to a lot of people and does a great job structuring its game for its community. Storefront

Forza 4 is a pretty impressive game all round as it can offer so much for so little effort but if its not appreciated for what it is (a damn good driving simulator) it will leave you behind and lose your attention. However if you look past its slightly cold exterior Forza can offer you streams of activity thanks to its excellent Xbox Live integrated features, all of which work superbly well. I’m starting to wonder if the Forza series will ever truly have a bad title, it wont falter on the technical side of itself anytime soon and will be around for a while yet.

BlazBlue Tournament: Round 1

BlazBlue Tournament: Round 1: Wednesday the 15th

It may have had a slightly bumpy start but the first leg of the BlazBlue tournament was a great success.

It was a very colourful night with the event organisers eager to get some posters up and some matches flowing. There were some regular faces there on the evening but I had the chance to mingle with some new faces too, all were great fun to chat to and the atmosphere was very chirpy and funny.

BlazBlue is one of my favourite fighting games, the colours and characters have always seemed to jump out and catch my eye and the guys and gals themselves also had their favourite characters geared up in their favourite colours (Taokaka being my favourite). This created a good balance between players and the multiple set ups helped mix things up a bit for the players so there’s was plenty of chances to win a few matches.

As always there was an incredible line up of arcade sticks on the night, some where a little battered but that just shows how much these guys practice and play!

Overall Andrew organised a great night for the BlazBlue community and with a stream connecting everyone with the public just made the night even better.

Visit the gallery here

Round 2 will be held on the 29th of February, why not pop into GB and test your BlazBlue might?

Soul Calibur 5 Gamerbase Tournament

On the 8th of Feburary Gamerbase held a night of Soul Calibur casuals and a tournament with the the two event organisers Duncan and Joel which turned out to be a great night.

Gamers turned up nice and early to get their practice in (and Joseph Walsh from Namco) and brought with them some of the best variety of arcade sticks I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in a long time.

Atmosphere was good, it wasn’t an extremely competitive crowd that evening as there was a lot of chit chat going on and multiple set-ups to cheer on anyway. It was good to see some different energy and faces running this event, Duncan and Joel where on hand to help people register and get some practice in and Joe was there MCing the event with a couple of others from the Soul Calibur community. Streaming was done by James Bardolph, he was also talking with the online viewers and keeping them on their toes with questions, showings of special edition guides and the SCV arcade stick.

Skill level was impressive, from gamers who know Soul Caliburs rhythm to the newcomers. They all seemed to face off to each other well, some gamers won with a staggering lead but most fought tooth and nail to get further into the tournament. There was a few prizes to be handed out by the end too, which were well received by the winners.

Over all it wasn’t a bad night, you could hang and watch the tourney for free or take part for £5! It will be interesting to see who’ll win this SCV tournament overall… Check out the gallery here: Gallery

Fancy attending the next round? Visit http://www.gamerbase.com or the GB Facebook page for details about any up and coming tournaments. Gamerbase Home & Gamerbase Facebook

Soul Calibur V Event / Casuals

The casuals were held on the 4th at The Chapel Bar by Namco Bandai games and Premier PR Games and held a nicely sized group of around 200.

There was a good amount of set-ups there, enough for everyone to get some practice in and everyone seemed to be doing so with vigor. Set-ups where located in several places so you could easily challenge people to a match or two and The Chapel Bar staff served us up refreshments all day so no warriors went thirsty.

Some respected and well known faces from the fighting community turned up including Ryan Hart, the Denton brothers, tech head Jamar and of course Hollie and Joe from Namco Bandai who were making sure all gamers felt involved, including everyone who joined the stream. You could easily watch Hollie and Marc Denton talking to the guys and gals on the live stream, that’s what I like about Namco’s events, there’s always some awesome coverage like that.

PPRGames where also there, talking about the advertising campaigns SCV had amongst other things and where very friendly and helpful. There was also a special guest @KayaneChan who basically taught us all a thing or two, she’s an incredibly talented SC fighter and has been since the age of nine!

Thanks to Premier PR Games and Bandia Namco for hosting a great event!

If you want any information regarding some of these events or similar, please follow @namcobandai @pprgames @HollieB and @Joukisan for more information.

Click the link for the gallery: Link

EAG Expo 2012

The EAG Expo comes round every year to show people some of the best and most up to date amusement machines in Europe.

The EdexCel Centre!

EAG 2012 was held At the EdexCel Centre in London and had a huge amount of floor space to show all those beauties in action. All arcade machines where set up so you could play for free! All day you could play to your hearts content and experience some those much loved arcade machines you left behind in your hayday.

SEGA had a big display space with many amusement machines on the floor that day. Time Crysis 3 & 4, Outrun, Superbooths (Photo related), Bejeweled and many more where there to see but sadly no House of the Dead, to my dismay!

Brand new Arcade machine's can come at quite a hefty price!

You can find SEGA’s fine amusement products here: Link

Namco Bandai where also working the floor with several beauties, the huge four player Pacman Battles machine went down well with all, it was great fun to play especially with a full team! They also where showing others like Deadstorm Pirates, Super Bikes 2 and Terminator Salvation which were all oodles of fun to play.

You can find all Namco Bandai’s machines here: Link

Rivalry is always a good thing 🙂

A lot of these machines can give out tickets, you can normally redeem these for prizes like at Namco Fun Scape in London: Link

3D Technology representatives where present on the floor to give you a quick tutorial of how the machine worked or to initially set it up. All where friendly and polite, some where even giving little bits away like lanyards, sweets and other little trinkets. Most of the 3D technology there held its own and I even got to experience some new variants of amusement machine, these easily created different feels and vibes to most of the 3D rides. I hope the manufacturers stick with this and run with it, especially for the amusement business as they’ve been in sharp decline for a good few years now.

No more of these guys please 😦

Show your support by visiting the EAG Expo next time in circles around! It is for free, so why not show your support for those arcade gems you always loved and probably always will… And get more people involved too!

On Second Thoughts…: Seeking revenge with an animal that can kill harder, better and faster than me does sound like it could fill my Sunday nicely.

On Second Thoughts… Seeking revenge with an animal that can kill harder, better and faster than me does sound like it could fill my Sunday nicely.

Looking for a duo to help release some of the week’s stresses and strains? Look no further, the boys are back in town.

Dead to Rights: Retribution does lay a typical story of revenge, damp allays and guys slamming fists on tables on a bit too thick but it also coughs up some great violent combat – all in the name of the law.  You are Jack, the beefy protagonist with a massive build and an occasional amusing lack of sense .  Jack is an unstoppable train of punishment, hell bent on revenging his father’s death when he gets moidered right in front of him.

DTR is a third person action game where you set out to conquer this corrupt city by pummelling your way through it, however you aren’t completely alone on this mission as you’re paired with a furry ally called Shadow. The control scheme for the duo is fairly standard which makes the Jack and Shadow crime fighting team pretty fluid; the d-pad is used to give Shadow orders and cycle through Jacks weapons which means you can keep the two bouncing off each other as well. There’s also a neat little duck and cover system which lets Jacks huge bulk become nimble enough to use some of his meaty finishers while the dog steadily rips his way through way more men than you.

Shadow really does seem to have some gripes of his own to play out, maybe that scar is deeper than we all thought and he is really the lead character. He’s the type of dog you wish you had when you where being bullied way back when, a little furry friend to keep you warm, make you smile and kill anyone who says bad words about you. He is definitely more on the feral side of dog life sporting that mean looking scar down his face, and to my surprise in the first ten minutes of the game beat me to the very first achievement – Scrotality (I’ll let you guess).  He gets stuck right in at the beginning while you’re still learning the controls.

On the other side of the coin Jack is pretty hardcore too often sporting an assortment of bruises, gashes and grainy stubble, suited in some dark leather padded armour. He can take quite a beating where Shadow can’t and in return offers one serious ass kicking back to the enemy; give it some time and you’ll start to really like the meat head.  Jack can also trigger slow mo time if he gets into trouble, it isn’t the best slow mo feature I’ve seen but it does the job and you can trigger it manually. Jacks prompted finishers are definitely the best bit about him, they‘re seriously spine tingling, brutal to watch and consisting of every bone being broken in many creative ways. However, the weapon system is boring, the weapons themselves are dull and limited which lets the game down a lot, while Jack, for some unknown reason, can’t throw a grenade past his own feet which is frustrating.

When you’re controlling Shadow you can sneak round like a ninja, stealthily (or not) taking out the rather idiotic and edgy A.I. which often just cheats anyway. Shadow can lure them out like the true master of Splinter Cell he really is and bolt out of cover to take them down but is quite vulnerable to multiple attacks – they are best left to Jack to deal with.

The boss fights aren’t hard, it’s just a pain to dodge and dodge so much when you’re used to smashing faces in at your own pace. It made me hate them for being so untardy but the game does have these little streaks of flavour floating around amongst the chaos that crop up in parts of the plot and in the cut-scenes. The environment is incredibly dull, a lot of it being ruined buildings or restaurants ready to be torn up in stand offs. There are no views or anything designed well enough to gorge your eyes on apart from the huge amount of gore that comes with most of the attacks. This lack of interesting space to proceed through made the pace of the game drop but Shadow usually picked the tempo back up and I didn’t stay in a pointless A.I fight for too long as he picked off A.I. that were even quite a distance away.

Dead to Rights: Retribution does seem to lose sight or grasp of its developing action and plot and blurs the experience into a repetitive mess by the end. It seems to have been partly neglected and it shows when you end up getting bored of smashing those empty A.I. drones. The game did grant me hours of fun but when I got to the end I saw why maybe other people gave this one a pass the first time round. You can see where it goes wrong by looking at the box and the fact it swings widely west in appearance and in its delivery doesn’t help. On the other hand when I sat back and sifted through some of the other shelved games in my mind, Dead to Rights: Retribution doesn’t come out too badly amongst the many forgotten titles out today, because it doesn’t really lie about what it is and it offers you a workable duo with a bit of character to create carnage with.

Anyway,

It’s the weakest title out of the whole series, so it’s one of those games to pick up cheap for an evening or two especially if you dig it up amongst the dead when you’re out shopping.