Author - Jerry Paxton

GamingShogun Personal Log 2 – Our (Almost) Complete E3 Schedule


Dear Personal Log,

It would seem that our available appointment time slots for this year’s E3 in Los Angeles are almost full-up. Now this does not include pre-show pressers or anything like that; this is just for our appointments during the actual show:

Tuesday, June 2nd
12:00pm – GamersFirst / CH Products
1:00pm – Southpeak Games / Fallen Earth
2:00pm – BioShock 2 / Mad Catz
2:30pm – Borderlands
3:00pm – Bethsoft
4:30pm – DTP Entertainment
5:00pm – The Beatles Rock Band
5:30pm – Dexter iPhone Game
8:00pm – Bethesda After-Party

See the rest of the personal log entry After the Break!
Wednesday, June 3rd
10:00am – Capcom / APB
11:30am – Bigfoot Networks / Nasume
1:00pm – Aliens vs Predator Meeting / Paradox Interactive
1:30pm – Alpha Protocol Meeting
2:00pm – SEGA Booth Tour
3:00pm – Konami Presser / Tritton Demo / Mafia 2
4:00pm – WBIE / Codemasters
5:30pm – Darkest of Days / SOE Cocktail Party
8:00pm – Windows Gaming Reception

Thursday, June 4th
10:00am – Huxley
11:00am – Activision / CrimeCraft
12:00pm – Windows Gaming at J Lounge
2:00pm – TECMO Booth Tour
4:00pm – LucasArts Meeting

So there you have it: Our E3 schedule of events as it stands right now. It will be a fairly packed week for us here but it will all be worth it when we bring you the latest news on events and games at the expo.

-GS

GamingShogun Personal Log 1 – E3 Appointments


Dear Personal Log,

The most difficult part about the big E3 expo is the lining up of all the meetings and other appointments my reporters have to attend. Not only do you have to figure out when to schedule the appointment but, often times, you have to hunt down the proper contact for the exhibitor in the first place. It seems that more and more companies are hiring outside agencies for their event appointment bookings. It would be nice if the ESA would develop an official exhibitor/attendee appointment system within the official E3 website. By funneling all communications and scheduling through the site, you would always have a centralized location for these activities. Next year, ESA… In fact, I seem to remember using the CES website for this exact function back in January so I know its possible.

As far as what times to pen appointments for your reporters, one always asks the important questions: When is their next appointment? Do they need any lead-time? Do they have to eat? To this, I say ‘NO!‘. To alleviate my stress I have decided that my reporters at the event will not be eating for the duration. It’s the only way to be sure.

Of course, its all worth it in the end. E3 was always the king of all other gaming expos and I have high hopes that this year’s plan of bigger attendance, etc will put it back on its rightful throne.

Our food-starved E3 coverage goes into overdrive beginning June 1st, so stay-tuned.

-GS

X3: Terran Conflict 2.0 – The Aldrin Missions Review

Egosoft released X3: Terran Conflict in October of last year. Since that time, Egosoft has worked steadily on numerous patches and enhancements to the game. This has culminated in version 2.0 which contains, aside from numerous bug fixes, a ton of new content to the existing game. Egosoft has re-released the game with the 2.0 update, calling it X3: Terran Conflict 2.0 – The Aldrin Missions.

The basic gameplay of X3TC 2.0 remains largely unchanged. The game puts the player into the game universe and sends them on their merry way, either following the main storyline or branching out and exploring on their own. Players can start the game as a number of different characters, each with their own difficulties, equipment, and alliances. There are only four of these characters to start, however more will be unlocked at certain points in the game.

If you have never played an ‘X’ game before but think you will just breeze through it based upon past experience in games like Wing Commander or Freespace, think again. X3TC has a very steep learning curve due to the sheer number of things you can do in the game universe as well as a clunky, albeit best of the series, control design.

Controlling your ship was definitely based on the mouse. I grew up in a time where we controlled our space games with Joysticks but apparently this is passe. Attempting to use my X52 Pro flight stick and throttle quadrant was an abysmal mess. While I could assign various joystick axis to various commands, I could never add additional axis into the game. For whatever reason, X3TC was using my throttles thumb rotator as the in-game throttle. Anyhow, even if I did get the joystick working, the mouse is needed to navigate through the on-screen UI elements of the game controls. However, as I previously stated, this is by far the most streamlined control system in an ‘X’ game since the original X: Beyond the Frontier.

The cool thing about the franchise has always been its sim-approach to space life and this installment is no different. You really get the feeling of what it would be like to exist in this environment. Traveling from place to place is not like you see in Star Wars or any of the Trek films. Space is ‘big’ to say the least, and in X3TC it takes a long time to get around even with time acceleration enabled. There is a huge laundry list of things you can do in X3TC. You can do just about anything from becoming a wealth industrialist with your own factories and fleets to even becoming a solo pirate who pillages anything you fancy (just be careful of those Terran space forces). You can even hire NPCs to haul cargo for you. Egosoft has been developing the franchise since 1996 and their experience in the genre definitely shows in the game’s veratility.

Visually, X3TC is easily the best-looking PC space game out there at the moment short of the DirectX 10 version of EVE Online. Only unlike EVE Online, X3TC was designed for single-player gaming only. There is no multiplayer mode to speak of. In an interview we did a while back with Egosoft founder Bernd Lehahn, he did say an MMO is still on the drawing board and something they would like to do in the future. The space environments are simply beautiful and planets are rendered with stunning detail. I often looked to the stars as a boy and wondered what it would be like to be ‘out there’ exploring. Visually-speaking this is probably very close to the truth. Not only are the planets well-done, but the ships and stations you encounter can be truly awe-inspiring in their scale and detail.

Sound design in X3: Terran Conflict 2.0 is adequate, however the voice work in the English version of the game is not nearly up to snuff. This is due in large part to the fact that Egosoft is a German development house and their actors were fighting a language barrier. Next time it is our hope that they will hire native English-speakers. It may seem like an insignificant detail to some but having believable voice work would definitely add to the games immersion-factor.

The Aldrin Missions add whole new sectors of space to explore as well as a new mission to undertake, the basic premise being that a previously-lost colony of humans has been discovered and the plan is to reintegrate them into the rest of humanity. Unfortunately for both sides the reunification is not easy and you will be called upon to figure out what or who is trying to stop this from happening.

Overall, X3: Terran Conflict 2.0 – The Aldrin Missions is a fun bundle of epic space simulation for those that do not already own X3: Terran Conflict. If you do own the original version you can simply download the 2.0 update for free at Egosoft’s website. Just remember going in that this is an ‘X’ game and you will need to seriously devote some time to fully-understanding the controls and interface to get the most out of your game. Egosoft has included a one hundred plus pages instruction manual which will help you along your way and I suggest you read it before delving into the game. So check this epic out and really immerse yourself in the material, you will be suprised even if you are not usually a fan of the genre.

First In-Engine Screenshot of Interstellar Marines


Zero Point Software has released the first ever in-game screenshot from their long in-development Interstellar Marines. For you gamers out there who have not heard of this title, Interstellar Marines is an attempt to create a realistic vision of how marines would operate in the harsh environment of the future, in zero-G as well as in spaceships and on alien worlds.

In addition, check out the first in-game engine footage of the staging for the photo taken above after the break!
In addition, they posted a new video showing off in-game animations setting up the photo above:

BlizzCon Tickets on Sale Now

Tickets to Blizzard’s 2009 gaming event, BlizzCon, are on sale now at the official Blizzard Store. Each ticket costs $125 dollars and will grant you entry to the two day event, which runs August 21st and 22nd at the Anaheim Convention Center. If you ANY inclination to go, I highly recommend you purchase right away.

It is a 20,000 ticket event for a game with 20,000,000 subscribers!

*UPDATE – Make a note, 46 minutes after launch, the tickets are now OUT OF STOCK. See, we told you to hurry! Stay-tuned for the next round of ticket sales which will occur on May 30th.

Tecmo Announces E3 2009 Lineup


We just got word from Tecmo on their showings for E3 09. Check out the list below and stay-tuned for our coverage from the event as it unfolds!

CONSOLE
Ninja Gaiden® Sigma 2 (PlayStation®3 / Fall 2009)
· Playable demo (approx. 10 minutes)
· Video
· Ninja Gaiden models!
QUANTUM™ (PlayStation®3 / 2010)
· On-site demo by staff (approx. 10 minutes)
· Video
Undead Knights™ (PlayStation®Portable / Fall 2009)
· On-site demo by staff (approx. 10 minutes)
· Video
Family Fun Football™ (Wii™ / Fall 2009)
· Video
· Football arcade machine with giveaways and referee model!

DIGITAL DOWNLOAD
TECMO goes digital! We will be announcing three titles at E3:
Puzzle game
Music + 2D Platformer game
Sports game
· Video only

SaintXi Releases Light of Altair PC Demo


SaintXi, an London-based independent games studio, is proud to release a substantial playable demo of their new sci-fi colony building game – Light of Altair. Developed for PC, Light of Altair will be available worldwide through leading digital distribution channels from 4th June 2009 for $14.95.

Light of Altair is now available to pre-order on Direct2Drive with limited-time introductory offer of 25% off.

For more information, visit http://www.saintxi.com/

Fallout 3: Broken Steel Review

Bethsoft has been hard at work expanding Fallout 3 with three downloadable experiences. This latest edition, called ‘Broken Steel’, should actually be considered a minor expansion. At least, thats what it felt like while playing it. The previous two DLC packs seemed like very closed-off affairs. While fun, they did not seem to really be part of the Fallout 3 world. You knew when you were entering and exiting the experience.

Broken Steel, I am happy to say, seamlessly integrates into the game and constantly surprises you even after you think the storyline is over with. Now, I am going to SPOIL THE END of the original Fallout 3 game here so if you have not played it through yet, just buy Broken Steel right now before you do. It makes it all so much better. Now run along….

Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, we can get down to business. After the tragic (and hopefully selfless) ending to Fallout 3, your character is all set to meet his or her maker after coming face to face with the statue of Thomas Jefferson and activating Project Purity. Or so it would be if you did not have Broken Steel. Fear not, as when you do have Broken Steel installed you are treated to the familiar end sequence, voiced by the venerable Ron Perlman, but then are awakened two weeks after by Elder Lyons. This alone has you engaged and beginning to ask questions. What has happened in while you were out? Who is that blond woman comatose on the cot across the way? Did Project Purity work as planned? Where is my plasma rifle?

After a chit chat with Elder Lyons, it would seem that Broken Steel is all about the destruction of remaining Enclave forces. It would seem that they are not unorganized as the Elder thought they would be and you are tasked with going to a specific location to meet up with Brotherhood of Steel forces to destroy them. This part seems familiar. In the last two downloadable experiences, the main goal was reaching a far-off location where you would quick-travel to a separate map where the DLC pack’s story would commence. But after exploring the Citadel more and talking with other NPCs, even more opportunities opened up giving me additional quest goals not connected to the Enclave. In this respect, Broken Steel is light-years ahead of the other two packs. While the main quest deals with the Enclave (and a particularly brutal sequence with Liberty Prime) these other quest goals stick around after the main story of Broken Steel is completed. This makes the experience much more immersive.

In addition to the multiple quest lines, Broken Steel gives us an eye-opening look into a Wasteland with blue water. At least, it is blue right around Project Purity. The farther away you travel, the less pure the water becomes (kudos to Bethesda for this ‘minor’ detail). Additionally, there are new items all over the place. Most prominent is the spread of newly-purified water, called ‘Aqua Pura’ by the brotherhood, to other regions of the Wasteland. To really bake your noodle, Broken Steel also adds new random encounters (not necessarily attached to the main quest) about the map in places you would not normally expect them (no spoilers – find them for yourself!).

Some new equipment will make its way into your game as well, such as the Enclave hellfire armor and heavy incinerator weapons. These are not the only equipment additions but they will be welcome surprises later. Funny though as much as I appreciated the new armor for the epic main story, I still chose to wear the winterized T-51b power armor I picked up in Operation: Anchorage, go USA!

No longer will you be limited to level 20 in your character’s development. With Broken Steel you can now advance to 30 and they have added additionally cool traits in the mix to boot. One, called ‘Puppies’, makes it so that if your sidekick Dogmeat should die a new pup will eventually be at your home base waiting for you. Another allows you to see every map location! You still can’t fast-travel there but at least you can locate them.

Even with all this goodness, many players did not get to experience it on the announced release date. Broken Steel, like The Pitt before it, released buggy and unplayable. Thankfully, Bethsoft got the issues taken care of and a stable build was released. Or was it? There were quite a few times where I would walk outside of a building and a random NPC would just launch into the air and out of sight right in front of me with no explanation. Other times corpses would continuously flail about in erratic patterns well-after the time of death. Even with these faults, Broken Steel is more than worth the purchase.

Broken Steel is an exemplary DLC pack that adds a ton of new content and experiences into a game already chock-full of them. It allows the epic experience that is Fallout 3 to continue on and players to take their characters to the next level. I know Bethesda claimed they were only making three DLC packs, but now that they have the formula spot-on it would be a shame to stop. Perhaps E3 will bring us some news, so stay-tuned and thanks for listening (or reading) children!

Miami Law Trailer


Hudson has released a new trailer for their upcoming crime-solver on the Nintendo DS, Miami Law. The game is due out June 9th and will give players an elaborate conspiracy to solve with the help of a slew of CSI tools and techniques.