Author - Jerry Paxton

Hellgate: London Review

Imagine, if you will, the quaint city of London overrun with all manner of creature from zombies to skeletal fiends. A London where Hell has literally forced its way through the surface to wreak havoc on the human population above. This is the world of Flagship Studios’ Hellgate: London. Masterminded by Bill Roper, creator of Diablo and Diablo II, it is easy to see this influence in Hellgate’s quick gameplay.

Speaking of gameplay, I refer to it as ‘quick & light’ as it plays as a first-person or third-person actioner and feels fast-paced and fun, similar to Serious Sam. You can choose from a variety of class types, each with their own abilities and play styles. These are taken from standard stereotype characters such as a dual-wielding swordsman, gun-toting marksman, shield and sword-toting guardian, etc. The game’s switching back and forth from ranged to melee combat is smooth and adds to the fun of the experience. Hellgate features a campaign that you take part in, however the player can always go back to previous areas and fight to gain experience as well. Characters level and gain experience much like they do in Diablo II which adds to the fps-light feel. Items can be upgraded a-la Diablo II and merchants are central to the game. By selling the loot you find you can buy health/power potions, new equipment, etc. Missions will lead you from the surface to subway lines, sewers, and even hell dimensions.

Graphically, Hellgate is nice. The game does not look like the latest & greatest as even with DirectX 10 features enabled the game’s textures can be a bit bland. The post-apocalyptic landscape is done very well and is…depressing as it should be. Equipment looks sharp and weapon/spell effects do the job nicely. Exploding and destructible objects also add to the experience of tearing up the city even more than it already was.

Hellgate’s score is better than you’ll find in most Hollywood flicks out there and reminds me of the score to George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead somewhat. In fact, the score adds so much to the game that the fps-light feel goes away and anxiety goes up when it starts blaring. Sound design is equally good, with ambient sounds such as paper ruffling across the destroyed roads of Piccadilly Circus and the distant sounds of whaling zombies and screams of survivors.

Now to the part where Hellgate: London falls apart: BUGS! This game was released way too early with not enough QA testing done on enough rig types as so many games are these days. This is unfortunate as the bugs skew review scores on this game everywhere. This game would have been fun enough to survive a few months more testing before release. The game is virtually unplayable in DirectX 10 and freezes/crashes randomly in DirectX 9 mode. The problems don’t stem from the test rig we used either, sporting a high-end dual-core processor and 8800gtx video card, we should have been able to tear the game up like a hot knife through butter. Instead we end up with a buggy mess on our hands when we really want to love this game. We have lost our place on missions soo many times to the game’s inexplicable crashing…very annoying.

Overall, we would highly recommend Hellgate for a fun popcorn-game if it were not for the horrible bugs still plaguing it.

From E3 Demo:

Gamespot Reviews Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

Gamespot has posted its review of Kane & Lynch: Dead Mean for the XBOX 360, PS3, and PC giving it a meager 6.0 out of 10. This comes as a surprise as the much-hyped title seemed to be a ‘must-have’ for next-gen consoles. Looks as though lots of things add up to bring the game down from it’s anticipated pedestal.

From the article:

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is an ugly game, and we’re not necessarily talking about the graphics. This criminal tale is packed with a collection of completely unlikable characters with no redeeming value whatsoever. It’s impossible to even root for them as antiheroes. Once you get past the messy, meaningless story, things don’t get too much better because you’re saddled with clunky artificial intelligence on the part of your allies and your enemies, as well as a core shooting mechanic that simply doesn’t satisfy. The unfortunate part is that the game does have a few bright points and feels like it had a lot of potential that just didn’t come together as well as anyone must have hoped.

Bungie’s Weinland and Cowan to Keynote GDE 08

Joystiq is reporting that Bungie’s audio lead Jay Weinland and director of cinematics CJ Cowan will give the keynot at the Games Development Expo 2008, running January 19th and 20th in Vancouver. They are expected to talk about the techniques used in the creation of Halo 3’s visual style.

From the article:

‘…once the microphone is turned over to the audience it won’t take long for the topic to turn to what life is like after the dev’s much-publicized divorce from Microsoft, including how they are holding up and, more importantly, who got to keep the dog.’

XM and Sirius Radio Shareholders Approve Merger!

MSNBC reports that shareholders of both XM Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio have approved a merger between the two companies.

While a major hurdle has been cleared, the companies need regulatory approval from the FCC.  The FCC had previously issued a ruling that the two companies could not combine, citing potential anti-trust violations.  With the increased popularity of portable mp3 players and ‘pod’-casting (with all my heart I sincerely hate this term), XM and Sirius have convinced the FCC that there is adequate competition from other digital music sources to allow the merger.  

It remains unclear at this time what access XM and Sirius customers would have to the other’s stations after the merger.

Gamespot Crysis Review

Gamespot has posted it’s review of Crytek’s latest FPS, Crysis. They scored it a 9.5 out of 10 editor’s choice rating! With the hype this game has been generating, it is nice to see a very positive review.

From the article:
If you put it all together, Crysis is just remarkable. This is a game that pushes the envelope in terms of both technology and gameplay and does so with aplomb. Crysis raises the expectations for every shooter to follow when it comes to graphics, interactivity, environments, immersiveness, AI, and gameplay. Quite simply, Crysis represents the first-person shooter at its finest, most evolved form.

New Assasin’s Creed Launch Trailer!

1up has posted the Assasin’s Creed launch trailer! This latest trailer shows some amazing fight footage as well as just being badass. The game takes place during the Third Crusade, in the year 1191. The player assumes the role of Altaïr (??????, Arabic, ‘The Flying One’), a member of the Hashshashin sect (the original ‘assassins’), whose objective is to slay the nine historical figures who are propagating the Crusades. As the player finds and kills these targets, their conspiracy is unveiled. The player will be able to travel through three cities: Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus.

New Zunes Go Live

Engadget is reporting on today’s launch of the next generation Zune audio players by Microsoft. These include the Zune 2 (also known as the Zune 80), the Zune 30, and smaller Zunes 4 and 8. In addition the new media software has gone live and is available for download or upgrade if you have the older version. In fact, the older Zunes will be privy to the upgrades of the new Zune 30 via firmware updates. That includes the wireless PC-to-Zune music transfer!

1up Reviews DiRT for the PS3

1up has posted their review of DiRT for the PS3, giving the racer a solid 8.4 out of 10. They seem to really like the rally-racer game which has sold very well on the XBOX 360 as well as the PC.

From the article:
DiRT still does the same man vs. clock thing McRae has always done. It continues to place drivers on unpaved tracks that feel too skinny for a tricycle, never mind a full-grown automobile, and it certainly hasn’t let up on a car-physics model that’s been dubbed by some as too difficult and by serious car jocks as admirably authentic. But now there’s so much more.

Buy Your Very Own Weighted Companion Cube

Joystiq is reporting that the Valve store if prepping to sell plush Weighted Companion Cubes (from the excellent puzzle game Portal). For those that don’t know, Portal is a single-player first-person action/puzzle video game developed by Valve. The game was released in a bundle package known as The Orange Box for PC and Xbox 360 on October 10, 2007, and will be released for the PlayStation 3 on November 23, 2007. The Windows version of the game is also available for download separately through Steam. The game consists primarily of a series of puzzles which must be solved by teleporting the player’s character and other simple objects using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (the ‘portal gun’). The goal of each puzzle is to reach an exit point. The ‘portal gun’ and the unusual physics it creates are the emphasis of this game.

Google’s Android OS Early-Look SDK Available Now

Engadget is reporting that an ‘early-look’ version of Google’s Android OS SDK is now available. The Android OS, of course, will be the operating system used in any company’s Google Phone that is produced. The SDK will allow that OS to be largely customizeable while keeping the common OS for compatibility.