Author - MondoPest

Ubisoft Announces New Prince of Persia Games

Ubisoft announced a new Prince of Persia game today, this time for the Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS, and PC platforms. This is the first Prince of Persia game on this generation of consoles. Ubisoft mentions that these new games are due out in the latter half of 2008.

Official Release:
Today Ubisoft, one of the world’s largest video game publishers, announced that a new Prince of Persia is scheduled to release towards the end of 2008 for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and PC. This new Prince of Persia marks the debut of the critically acclaimed franchise on next-generation consoles. Developed by Ubisoft’s award-winning Montreal studio and the same all-star team that created the previously acclaimed Prince of Persia® Sands of Time trilogy, Prince of Persia is opening a new chapter in the Prince of Persia universe, featuring a new breed of gameplay. The game is poised to rejuvenate the action-adventure genre in addition to introducing a brand-new illustrative art style.

Ubisoft will also release a Prince of Persia game specifically designed for the Nintendo DS™ system, featuring an entirely new storyline and new characters. More details to be unveiled in the future.

Obscure: The Aftermath Review

Set after the events of the original Obscure, Obscure: The Aftermath brings the feel of a campy horror flick to your screen. Unfortunately, the game suffers from some setbacks which should have been caught during the design and testing of the title.

The game begins at a university where students have been getting high and hallucinating by inhaling the smoke from burning special seeds. These seeds, however, are actually from the organism-mutating plants in the original game. Well, eventually the evilness of those dreaded plants return, mutating college kids into blood-thirsty monsters and setting the stage for our six heroes to battle them.

The gameplay in Obscure: The Aftermath is unique in that you control two characters at a time. Each character has a special skill such as being incredibly strong, hacking ability, etc. You technically only directly control one of the two characters at any one point, with the other being controlled by the AI (you can always toggle between the two though). This gameplay element is one of the game’s most creative features. Controlling characters, however – especially in combat, is awkward in the PC version of the game. Another nice feature about the character control system is that everyone shares an inventory, no matter where they are located. While not the most realistic idea, it does make things alot more convenient than they would be otherwise. Your heroes will obtain a variety of melee weapons and firearms throughout the game, however the camera system can be a bit wonky at times, moving to strange angles that makes targeting opponents difficult, even with the game’s built-in targeting system.

Graphically, the game is of the typical Playstation 2 fare and, as that is the game’s original platform, we can’t knock it for that fact. The game’s creatures are creative and well modeled with plenty of mutations to go around and, we must admit, some are pretty creepy. The game’s score was performed by the Boston String Quartet as well as the Paris Opera Children’s Choir and provides good, creepy atmosphere for the player to interact in.

The writing and voice acting are double-edged swords in Obscure: The Aftermath. On one hand, the developers intended the title to be a throwback to those corny and campy horror flicks where teenagers throw popcorn at the screen in protest of a character doing or saying something stupid. If the rest of the game wasn’t so clunky, this would really help pull that design off. Unfortunately, with this clunkiness, players can’t be sure if the bad dialog and acting aren’t just additional problems with the title.

Conclusion: Obscure: The Aftermath does feature some creepy music and might be a more enjoyable down the line should patches come down the road. Unfortunately, in its current state, the game is very unpolished and awkward. We can only recommend it to fervent fans of the survival-horror genre at this point.   

Bourne Conspiracy Gameplay Footage

Here is a new gameplay video from the upcoming actioner, The Bourne Conspiracy. It shows a bit of Bourne kicking ass at a train depot. Note the ‘quick cuts’ that the movies are well-known for. I hope they do not distract too much from the gameplay. The Bourne Conspiracy releases in June for the PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms.

EA Bringing Back Monopoly With A Vengeance

EA is bringing the fun back with Monopoly for the Xbox 360, Wii, and Playstation 2 platforms.

Official Release:
The Casual Entertainment Label of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) today released additional details on MONOPOLY (working title), the first Hasbro-branded video game set to launch on next-generation consoles including Wii™ and the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system. MONOPOLY will also be appearing on the PLAYSTATION®2 computer entertainment system as well as mobile phones and™. The multiplatform video game is inspired by Hasbro’s highly anticipated MONOPOLY HERE & NOW: The World Edition board game. Currently, the MONOPOLY video games are set to release this year simultaneously with the global launch of the new board game.

The MONOPOLY video games promise a fresh take on the timeless classic with accessible gameplay for players of all ages and skill levels. The all-new digital gaming edition brings a party twist and features 4-player simultaneous play, ensuring that everyone is engaged and allowing the whole family to get involved in the fun and play together. Faster gameplay eliminates downtime freeing up players to wheel and deal their way through some of the most recognizable cities and landmarks from around the world. Families can fill up their passports as they try to unlock new and never-before-seen game boards or challenge each other to fun interactive mini-games like breaking out of the jail cell and running away with all the loot. Play in offline single or multi-player mode and compete to own it all and win!

SimCity Box Announced

SimCity Box
EA has announced the SimCity Box anthology, due for release in June, the box will contain 5 different SimCity products and will retail for $39.99

Official Release:
Today Electronic Arts Inc. announced The SimCity(TM) Box, a bundled pack of five games from the world-renowned SimCity(TM) franchise. The SimCity Box contains SimCity(TM) Societies, SimCity Societies Destinations, SimCity(TM) 4, SimCity(TM) 4 Rush Hour and The Sims Carnival(TM) SnapCity. Valued at approximately $100.00 USD, The SimCity Box will be available this June in North America at the affordable price of $39.99 USD.

The Day the Earth Stood Still Remake – Spoilers

Man…Ya know when Hollywood takes one of your favorite things from the past and tries to make it new again. Sometimes, the re-imagining is a good thing (e.g. Spider-Man). And other times, it just destroys the original IP and makes you rue the film’s cast and crew with venom.

I have a feeling the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still will be the latter. Over at AICN, one of their regular posters has read the script (the film is currently shooting in Vancouver) and has brought back some alarming details.

Apparently, there is no Gort in the flick. In Gort’s place we get something called the ‘Totem’, which transforms into a totem-pole esque shape when not walking around on four robotic legs. Also, the immortal phrase, ‘Klaatu Barada Nikto’, is never used in the picture. Klaatu never uses his alias of ‘Mr Carpenter’ and the character interaction between Carpenter/Klaatu and the boy is almost an afterthought. Anyhow, there are plenty more reasons to loathe what they are doing to a classic IP that you can read here.

Imperium Romanum Review

Gameplay: The player can select from a few different gameplay types in Imperium Romanum. The first missions are called ‘Scenario’ missions and puts the player into the, yup – you guessed it, scenario of their choosing. These missions are open-ended, varying by what geographic location you start at, how many barbarian tribes are present and what their status towards you is. These missions are rated by difficulty and are a good way for the player to explore the different aspects of the game.

The ‘Timeline’ missions are a tree-based set of missions taking the player to different places during the age of Rome, starting with the initial settlement of Rome in 509b.c. In this gameplay mode, you select up to three different tablets (basically objectives) at a time. As you complete these objectives, you go through the tablets until they are gone. At that point, you have won the scenario and can move on to the next missions in the tree, slowly progressing forward through time.

The ‘Rome’ mode starts the player off in charge of the fledgling city of Rome and uses the tablet system to give the player objectives. In this mission you basically just grow the city of Rome into its full glory, overcoming various obstacles in the way.

City-building games have been around for a while now, so I am sure you can gather the basics: build homes, water sources, farms, stores, etc. However, unlike the Caesar games, Imperium Romanum is much more forgiving on the player. Figuring out what citizens need in a certain area is done easily by clicking on them. Every building also has an ‘effect radius’ which displays when it is clicked. This shows the player the building’s reach without external help. For instance, butcher shops need to be built within the effect radius of a pig farm in order to receive meat. However, this range can be extended by the use of slaves and warehouses that can carry the meat greater distances. Employment is a huge part of Imperium Romanum as every building needs workers, which are hired from houses within the buildings effect radius. A mine far from your town will need a house or two near it (along with a water source) in order to be staffed. This is where the advanced planning of your city comes into play.

Roads do not seem to serve a functional purpose in Imperium Romanum, save for displaying the quality of the area they are laid. They become paved when the surrounding area reaches a certain level of affluence. Aside from this and helping line up buildings, they are not used by units to travel more quickly or anything like that – strictly eye candy. Thankfully, it is free eye candy – roads cost nothing and are built instantly.

The weakest feature of the title is the combat. There are three different unit types at your command: infantry, archers, and mounted units. A fully-stocked unit consists of 36 troops and one of these groups will hail from each barracks, archery, or equestrian training building. Thats right, just one. If that building’s platoon is defeated in battle, any remaining troops must run back to their respective barracks to slowly rebuild their numbers. Commanding military units is simply a matter of clicking where you want them to go, although they do have a max-commandable range where supplies from your nearest building will not reach them and you cannot move them past this range. However, once they are in position, you can order them to attack which sends the group after the nearest barbarian camp. Combat, aside from positioning and a few basic formations, is pretty much on autopilot. It adds an additional layer to the gameplay but isn’t quite interesting enough to hold your focus for very long.

Graphics: Imperium Romanum features crisp and visually pleasing graphics. The environments are very well detailed with trees, weather effects, and water. The buildings are really where the game really shines though as structures have been modeled and textured very nicely. Citizens and units are the weakest part of the visuals as they usually have a much lower polygon count and texture resolution.

Sound / Score: The sound in Imperium Romanum is average and we have no complaints to speak of on that point. The musical score is nicely arranged, however, and adds alot to the gameplay with its sweeping melodies.

Conclusion: While combat is somewhat lackluster in Imperium Romanum, the city-building aspect of the game is fun and engaging. It should satisfy the ancient city planner in you for quite a while. In addition, Imperium Romanum features nicely done graphics while not being a strain on most computers, so it is accessible by virtually anyone thanks to that and its easy learning curve when compared to other city-builders out there.

Wolfking Warrior XXtreme Review

Design / Construction: The Wolfking Warrior XXtreme is a very sweet-looking keyboard. Designed in a figure eight-ish pattern, the keyboard is separated into two key areas. On the left is the Warrior gaming pad, arguably Wolfking’s finest achievement to date. On the right side is a 40-key QWERTY keypad which is said to promote single-handed typing. The Warrior XXtreme is a small keyboard in contract to most on the market, measuring 16.4” inches long compared to the Logitech G15 which is 20.2” inches long. This small size helps promote mobility and will definitely save desk space for other peripherals if needed. Wolfking has built the Warrior XXtreme to rigorous standards and it shows, as the keyboard is very sturdy and solid. In addition, its rounded shape is very pleasing, making this one of the best-looking keyboards we have seen.

The unit comes with no additional software and does not have native macro or programmable key ability whatsoever. This is a shame as macro capability is almost standard on gaming keyboards these days and is sorely missed in this case.

On the top of the keyboard are additional controls mainly for media apps. However, the most interesting of these top-area keys is the ‘K-lock’ button. This control basically sends the ‘k’ key continuously to the current game. This is handy for games that use the ‘k’ key in order to send voice chat. Essentially, using this key is like constantly holding the push-to-talk button down.

The backlighting on the XXtreme is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On one hand you have this VERY intense blue light that makes the device look like TRON should have been typing on it at the IO Tower. High marks for aesthetics all around. However, the backlighting does not cut-through the keys in order to illuminate each key’s label. The lighting ends up creating a silhouette effect on the keys, and it is not easy to see the name of the button you are pressing.

The Warrior XXtreme does have two USB ports on the back-side of the keyboard, which I always rate high on my keyboard-wants list. Having the two USB pass-through ports decreases the amount of wires going to the back of the PC and increases your mobility during LAN tournaments.

Warrior Keypad: The 52-key Warrior gamepad area on the XXtreme is truly a thing of beauty. The most-used keys in FPS games have been all aligned together in a circular formation. The keys spaced much closer than they are on a standard keyboard layout, my fingers were able to hit all the important keys much more quickly. Usually my pinky has to work a bit to get to the left ctrl button. However, on the Warrior gamepad it is effortless. There is also a vertical space bar on the right side of the Warrior keypad for easier reaching with your thumb than the standard horizontal equivalent.

QWERTY Keypad: The 40-key QWERTY keypad on the XXtreme is a bit more daunting. Basically, Wolfking took the standard QWERTY keyboard and divided it in half. Then, the first half was stacked on top of the second half and the whole merged entity was cut into a circular formation. This keypad is not as comfortable to use as the Warrior side. The idea behind this layout is that it will be useful for one-handed typing. After getting over the learning-curve of learning the new layout, it is not bad. When playing FPS games, though, I usually have my right hand on the mouse anyway making it difficult to type with one-hand regardless of key layout.

Conclusion: The Wolfking Warrior XXtreme is a mixed bag of sorts. On one side of the coin you have this amazing Warrior keypad which is very useful in keeping stress off one’s left hand while at the same time increasing response time by keeping the important gaming keys close by. On the other side of the coin the user has to deal with a QWERTY pad that is not all that user-friendly and no macro ability. In short, the keyboard is a good gaming solution but it could have been absolutely incredible if its shortcomings were addressed.

Antec 900 Gaming Case Review

The 900 is Antec’s premiere gaming case. We got a chance to put it through the motions and hope you find our results helpful in your purchasing decision-making.

Official Case Features:

  • Unique Top mounted 200mm ‘Big Boy’ TriCool exhaust fan to cool the hottest system
  • Perforated front bezel for maximum air intake
  • Two front loaded HDD cages for up to 6 hard disk drives
  • The HDD cages act as air ducts to take air in more efficiently. Optional middle 120mm fan bracket to cool the hottest graphic cards or CPU
  • Two 120mm TriCool blue LED front fans to cool hard disk drives
  • Window side panel comes with an optional 120mm fan mount for maximum VGA cooling
  • Top tray for your MP3 player, digital camera, doodads, etc.
  • Rubber grommeted ports on the rear for liquid-cooling tubes allow you to mount external liquid-cooling hardware
  • Advanced cooling system:
    • 1 top 200mm TriCool fan with 3-speed switch control
    • 1 rear 120mm TriCool fan with 3-speed switch control
    • 2 front 120mm special black TriCool blue LED fans with 3-speed switch control to cool HDDs
    • 1 side (optional) 120mm fan to cool graphic cards
    • 1 middle (optional) 120mm fan to cool CPU or graphic cards
  • 9 Drive Bays
    • External 3 x 5.25′
    • Internal 6 x 3.5′ for HDD, or – External 6 x 5.25′; Internal 3x 3.5′ for HDD, or – External 9 x 5.25
  • Motherboard: Fits micro and standard ATX
  • 7 Expansion Slots
  • Top mounted I/O ports
    • Power and reset buttons
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x IEEE 1394
    • Audio In and Out

Construction/Design: Antec’s 900 series gaming case is all about maximizing airflow. It does this by implementing two blue-led 120mm fans in the front of the case which suck air in while an even larger 200mm fan blows air out the top of the case and a 120mm fan blows air out the back. As if this wasn’t enough, Antec provides a VERY easy-to-install snap-in 120mm fan mount on the windowed side-panel. Inside the case there is another 120mm fan mount behind one of the 3.5′ bays. Antec claims this is to help draw additional air over the video card and CPU.

The 900 gaming case also features a very handy control/port array in front of a nifty gadget tray, recessed in front of the top 200mm exhaust fan which you can use to hold an mp3 player or digital camera. The control/IO array is located in front of the aforementioned tray and consists of the power button, reset button, a microphone/headphone jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, and one Firewire port. These are set at a 45 degree angle for easier access.

Antec designed the 900 so that the PSU would sit at the bottom instead of the usual placement of on the case’s ‘roof’. This not only helps get air directly to the PSU via the front 120mm fans, but also makes room for that huge 200mm fan at the top of the case which would otherwise be blocked.

Each of the front 120mm fans is connected to a three-drive 3.5′ drive bay module. These modules slide out through the front and one of them has a mounting for an additional 120mm fan at its rear. The reason for this design instead of the drive bays being independent from the fans is to maximize airflow over the drives. Basically, these modules force air through a ‘tunnel’ over the enclosed drives and into the case. I would have preferred them to have some kind of ‘quick-load’ side-mounting feature instead, as removing/installing them from the front is a bit more labor-intensive.

Overall, the case design is very stylish and functional.

Installation: Prepping the Antec 900 for installation was relatively straight forward. After adding the mobo tray mounts, we attempted to lay in the mainboard only to find that the 8800GTX video card would not fit in the case in its stock configuration. The 3.5′ drive bay with the extra fan mount was blocking it from fitting. So, we switched the drive bays around and the mobo/video card fit with no problem. There is actually quite a bit of wiggle room when compared to many modern gaming cases. One thing that would benefit this case greatly would be a slide-out motherboard tray. This would allow a much easier installation without having to ‘angle it in’ from the side of the case.

Each of the fans has a three-way speed switch but they are connected on very short wires. It is a great feature to have in a stock case, but it would have been nice to have slightly longer wires to place the switch where you wanted, perhaps route them all to the same location or give you enough wire to cut and rewire into a fan-control bay module.

Cable management can be tricky with this case, with the power supply resting on the bottom of the case coupled the bottleneck created by larger video cards. I highly recommend a modular PSU with this case so that you can avoid alot of the issue, not to mention the burden of hiding unnecessary cables ain the . If you do not have a modular PSU, I recommend using some cable ties and careful planning as to where you will place the internal cabling.

Usage: When all the fans are set to ‘high’, including the extra 120mm I placed in the side mount, the case noise is like a pleasant ‘whoosh’, and does not take away from the gaming experience in the least. It is definitely not the quietest case in the world but we have heard many louder ones without the 900’s amount of fans. Changing fan speed is troublesome, as previously stated, due to the length of the fan switch wires, so I just left mine on the highest setting available. Placing my hand over the top of the case, the exhaust air remained cool. And, with the amount of air being blown from the top…lets just say you could use it to dry your hands after washing them, although does not recommend getting water or wet hands anywhere near your electronic equipment (Thanks legal team!).

The top tray is extremely useful, as I am one who likes to put a camera or mp3 player on top of my PC while it is synchronizing to the machine. In this case, the recessed tray holds all manner of doodad while helping keep it in one place due to its high-friction rubber bottom.

The first thing I did once getting the case together and ready was to start up Call of Duty IV. I love that game: not only is it graphically very pleasing, but also can be very challenging. Even at its highest settings, the exhaust air only slightly warmed up – a HUGE step up from the airflow in my last PC ‘gaming case’ which belched hot air like Rush Limbaugh on a tirade.

Conclusion: Even with its few quirks such as not having a sliding motherboard tray, this is bar none the BEST gaming case I have ever seen. It is also the most gamer-centric. The Antec 900 will definitely be turning heads at any LAN tournament while also allowing you to overclock your hardware, thanks to its intense cooling.

Mass Effect 2 Promises to Leave You A Crumpled Mass of Geek

Speaking of the sequel to Mass Effect today, BioWare Senior Manager Matt Atwood had the following to say about the upcoming title:

‘How will it correlate to Mass Effect, the original? There’s a lot of really exciting answers to that question. I think that people are going to be blown away.’

He also stated:
‘I’ve learned some of the things. I don’t mean to tease people. The
teams are just so brilliant and the story writing is so good that
straight out from the beginning of Mass Effect 2, people are going to
be in awe…I will tell you that things you did and people you
interacted with in Mass Effect… you may very well meet up with them
again, whether it be the main character or other characters.’