Author - MondoPest

Diablo III Officially Announced

Diablo III has officially been announced via the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational event in Paris, France by Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. The announcement came during the opening cermony and was met with massive applause and adulation from the large crowd.

We were able to remotely liveblog the conference for a while in between signal losses. We got a few raw captures from the footage shown.

In-game images and large splash after the break!

Official Site
Press conference still going, Blizzard CEO giving overview of Barbarian class with in-game play.
Barbarian class looks to play very similar to Diablo II, but is able to use the environment to aid in his attacks. Using debris, etc. Also will have mercenaries in Diablo III to aid you in your quest.
Some images from the stream:

Another in-game shot from the stream, notice the new skill bar in between the two indicator globes:

Also shown Witch Doctor class which can summon walls of zombies to attack your enemies. Notice the new all-3D game engine. The graphics of the stream are definitely better than screenshots can convey. Can’t wait for official images to come down the pipe.
Now seeing a boss battle:

The action seems fast and furious as we have come to expect from the series. The atmospher of the game based on the footage shown seems to be ‘right on’ and I can’t wait to see more.
And thats it! More to come in time…

PAX Announces Big Exhibitors and ECTO-1

PAX announced today that Sony, Nintendo, EA, and Microsoft will all be on-hand during the 2008 Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle from August 29th through 31st. Also in attendance will be the Ghostbuster’s ECTO-1 hearse, the PAX 10 indy games showcase, and Video Games Live!

Official PAX website.

Official Release:
The organizers of the fifth annual Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) today announced key details of the upcoming gaming festival, to be held Aug. 29-31, 2008 at the Washington State Trade and Convention Center in Seattle.

This year’s exhibit floor will offer PAX attendees hands-on time with highly anticipated games and products from more exhibitors than ever, including Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and Ubisoft (see below for a complete exhibitor list). In addition to seeing a massive number of pre-release games on its show floor, attendees can expect a bevy of panels, the Omegathon gaming competition, tournaments, and more. First details of PAX 2008 programming include:

– The ECTO-1, of Ghostbusters fame, will be on display for all three days of PAX

– The PAX 10 independent games showcase, to thrill and delight you

– Two nights of music that will almost certainly change your life

‘We nearly doubled our exhibition hall and added another 80,000 square feet of content overall, so the show is going to be pretty amazing this year,’ says Penny Arcade’s Robert Khoo. ‘You should come. I think you would like it.’

Supreme Ruler 2020 Review

BattleGoat Studios’ Supreme Ruler 2020 picks up where Supreme Ruler 2010 left off, bringing even more (as if that were possible) information from the world in which we live together to create what is possibly the most realistic world-simulation ever developed. Take control of a nation, grow it in the manner you determine (diplomatically, economically, militarily, etc) and impose your will on the people. Wield the sword of thousands of military units in global domination using conventional and ‘special’ weapons platforms. Will you start World War III and plunge humanity into chaos or perhaps emerge as a beacon of democracy and hope for mankind? The choice is really yours.

Supreme Ruler 2020 gives you multiple modes of play., with my favorite being the sandbox mode in which you make your own victory conditions and pick any nation on the planet to rule. Aside from the sandbox mode, BattleGoat has created ten varied scenarios to pick from each with their own storyline and conditions. One of the more interesting scenarios deals with a break up of the United States into its respective states. There are also some tutorials that help a bit with learning the game but they are fairly general in nature. This brings us to the game’s biggest issue: learning curve.

Starting off playing Supreme Ruler 2020 can be a daunting task to say the least. Unfortunately, the game has a very steep learning curve. The user-interface does not seem to make much sense to the uninitiated and just navigating through the options available to you will seem disjointed. Just keep at it. We found that after a few serious playthroughs of several hours each (games can go on for what seem to be weeks – not that such a thing is a bad in this case) we managed to get a handle on the UI’s stylings and game mechanics. If you are a die-hard action or casual game fan who despises actually taking the time to learn how to play a game, this game is probably not for you.

A key feature of Supreme Ruler 2020 that saved us much misery is the adviser system. In their infinite wisdom, BattleGoat has appointed the gamer several advisers in different areas (defense, state, production, etc) which can be assigned to automate facets of each. This will allow you to scale the game’s micromanagement quite a bit and helps free you up to learn the ‘bigger picture’ elements of the title such as the aforementioned UI and combat.

Combat is handled in a fairly straightforward manner. Once you declare war on another nation, you can click and drag around an area to select units and direct them to a destination. Forces can be kept in reserve to save dollars, dinero, rupies, Microsoft Points or whatever your home currency may be when not needed or even station them as guards in case you want to be extra defense in place. Of course the nuclear option is available to you should your nation be nuclear-capable, but be prepared to reap the consequences of your actions. The world at large seems to frown on nuclear weapon usage – go figure.

Diplomacy and trade is another huge aspect to gameplay. Deals will be offered to you from time to time asking for various things such as non-aggression pacts and commodities. You can create counter-offers if you like or even put together your own offers from scratch for your neighbors to consider.

The graphics of Supreme Ruler 2020 are a mixed bag. From a distance, the Earth looks great, with land maps taken from NASA satellite imagery. However, as you zoom in, the terrain begins to blur and pixelate as the level of detail does not increase the map resolution. Units are symbolized by small 3d models of their respective types. The models are fairly low-detail but get the job done.

Sound in the title is adequate, with basic noises where appropriate.

Overall, Supreme Ruler 2020 builds on what was started with its predecessor by offering a pretty incredible world-sim where you can prove even the smallest nation can make a difference. Fans of complex empire-builders such as Superpower and Civilization, rejoice! This game is for you, go forth and prosper in its myriad of options!

Official Supreme Ruler 2020 website.

World Cybergames Pan-American Championship Results

The third annual World Cyber Games Pan-American Championship event has concluded with the US team winning almost all of the tournaments! The complete list can be found in the press release below but we at GamingShogun would like to congratulate them in their accomplishments.

Official World Cyber Games website.

Official Release:
The third annual World Cyber Games Pan-American Championship wrapped up this past weekend in Monterrey, Mexico. The nine-game tournament took place over three days and featured a who’s who of gamers from many countries in North, Central and South America. Featuring some of the most intense and competitive matches of the 2008 World Cyber Games tournament series, the competition set many familiar faces against each other in the finals.

The USA team had an excellent showing, winning nearly all the games featured in the tournament and achieving the overall team championship.

Leading the USA to victory were:
Nikolasus Cassidy – USA – (WarCraft® III: The Frozen Throne™) – 1st place
Team EG – USA – (Half-Life®: Counter-Strike™) – 1st place
Kamran ‘omegaelite’ Siddiqui – USA – (Need For Speed™ ProStreet) – 1st place
Team Final Boss -USA – (Halo® 3) – 1st place
Sean ‘maximus’ Heffelfinger – USA – (Project Gotham Racing® 4 ) – 1st place
David MoB ‘Wolfe’ Briers – USA – (Guitar Hero® III: Legends of Rock) – 1st place
Raghav ‘parfait’ Phadke – USA – (Age of Empires® III: The Asian Dynasties) – 1st place

Microsoft Announces Its E3 Product Stable


Microsoft has announced its E3 line up today and is rumored to be announcing two new titles at its E3 press conference on July 14th.

Microsoft’s E3 Line Up:
– Gears of War 2 (X360)
– Halo Wars (X360)
– Fable 2 (X360)
– Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (X360)

– Too Human (X360)
– Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (X360)

We will be bringing all of the Microsoft info to you as it is released and during our coverage of the expo next month.

Virtual Villagers – The Secret City Review

We were not fortunate enough to play the first two Virtual Villagers titles. However, we recently got a chance to play the third installment: Virtual Villagers – The Secret City. This time around, you start on the shoreline near some ancient ruins and build into them (the ‘secret’ city mentioned in the title). Your villagers consist of all manner of persons. There are men and women, skilled and unskilled people, pregnant folk and otherwise, the list goes on. Your duty is to get their new home established and prospering before the food runs out.

In fact, your first order of business in the game is to gather more good eats for your people. Villagers move around with their own agendas but that usually doesn’t get you very far. They need a guiding hand to get them to where they need to be and that hand is you! Simply click-and-drag a villager to place them where you like. When you hover them over something useful to them, a message will appear at the bottom of the screen. In the first area of Isola (the island you inhabit), you have to hover a villager over a torch near a bee hive and drop him there. The villager will grab the torch, walk over to a fire and light it – then return to the bees and smoke them calm so you can extract the honey, increasing your tribe’s food supply.

One of the more interesting aspects of the game is that if you do not click on ‘pause’ before leaving, when you return you will find your village has changed (and is possible dead completely) as the game will continue evolving when you are not there! This came as quite a shock to me originally, as I had plenty of people when I left the game and only two upon my return.

Villagers will also need to procreate in order to increase their numbers. Just click-and-drag one person over another and, if they are compatible they will mate and create another little mouth to feed. Fortunately, those larval humans grow in size and gain experience until one day they too can be useful, contributing members of the tribe. This, of course, is the goal as villagers get old and die. This can have a surprisingly rough impact as you watch a villager grow from a baby to a geriatric before you eyes. Watch their successes and failures, loves and losts as it were, all turned to shadows and dust after their passing. There is a strange realism to it, which is odd as the game is not that visually attractive.

Overall, the game is alot of fun but way more in-depth than one assumes it will be when you first sit down to it. The graphics are 2D and, while vibrant, are not exceptionally clear or high resolution. Playing in full screen mode on my 1920×1200 LCD just looks horrible, so I played it mostly in windowed mode. Sound is minimal and there is an average score to the game which sounds like a royalty free track. Even with these shortcomings however, the gameplay is a lot of fun and makes for an interesting puzzler as you try to help your villagers thrive.

You can check out an hour-long demo of Virtual Villagers – The Secret City here.

Cities XL Trailer


Finally, we see a trailer come out for Cities XL. We have been looking forward to this title for quite some time and think it is going to be a breath of fresh air into the genre.

We got a chance to interview the game’s Project Manager here, in which he expounded upon some of the game’s features. You can find the official Cities XL website here.

Oregon Scientific Meteo Weather Forecast Watch Review

Oregon Scientific has long been a manufacturer of all sorts of electronic devices, who’s functions range from time keeping to monitoring air quality and even weather forecasting. The Meteo Weather Forecast Watch falls in the last category. It is literally a short term weather forecasting device strapped to your wrist.

theStyle: The Meteo features an all-black exterior with large LCD display and rubber watchband. The overall sleek appearance is very unique among these types of watches and has turned more than a few heads over the last week we have had it.

theQuality: The Meteo is mostly a hard plastic casing with a soft rubber for the band material. Overall, the watch holds together very well and seems to be somewhat scratch resistant as my Meteo has accidentally met the business end of a car door several times (I am still growing into my body). Something that struck me right away was that, unlike many other watches I have worn – the Meteo’s display is amazingly clear and readable in direct sunlight. The black area of the display gives a great contrast to the liquid crystals and picks up the light well, adding to its readability.

theFunctionality: The Meteo is not just a weather forecasting device. It is also a time piece which is water resistant up to 30 meters, a stopwatch that will time up to 60 hours, and also stores the date and day of the week. It also features a nice backlight button that, when held down, will trigger a ‘locked’ mode in which other button presses on the watch do nothing. This is helpful if, say, you are accident prone like me and bang your watch against a car door. One time I hit it right on the side of the watch and I hear the chime of a button being pressed. I looked down at the watch and the time was still being shown – all thanks to it being locked at the time.

theWeather: Most people will buy this watch for its weather forecasting ability, and over the last week we have been able to give it what we consider to be a thorough test. First, lets talk about the weather forecasting part of the LCD display. You will notice four different, animated icons which denote the following weather types: sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy, and rainy. On Sunday, my Meteo read a solid ‘sunny’, and sure enough, the next day was sunny. That next day, however, the Meteo reported a partly cloudy condition. Now bare in mind there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and while others mocked my weather forecasting dynamo, I just stood in proud silence as I knew what was coming. Sure enough, the partly cloudy condition came and the temperature fell. They were not laughing anymore when I reported that on the partly cloudy day, the Meteo now read a rainy condition approaching. The Meteo will predict weather conditions from 12 to 24 hours in advanced. The next day the gloom came and the rain fell. My Meteo had been proven 100% correct over the course of the week. Now I am not saying it will be without failure in the future, but as observed in my test it was flawless.

theDruthers: If there was one thing I would enhance the Meteo with, it would be a thermometer. Now, technically this thermometer would not be very useful as it doesn’t matter weather it is 60 degrees or 100 degrees, you will know when you walk outside and determine if you need a jacket or a tank top. However, being the geek that I am, I just enjoy saying, ‘Do you know what the temperature is?’

theSummary: Overall, the Meteo is an excellent weather forecasting time piece with a bit of extra functionality in its stopwatch and water resistance. Additionally, it has a very good design and style that would go well with a work uniform or a dress suit. If you can afford the $69.99, I highly recommend it. It is great and less expensive alternative to the electronic behemoths put out by Casio and Suunto. If you bought one watch this year….This would be my vote.

You can purchase the Oregon Scientific Meteo here.

Imperium Romanum Expansion Pack Out Now

Kalypso has announced that their Imperium Romanum expansion pack is now available here for £3.99 or roughly $8 dollars. You can read our review of the base game here.

Official Release:
The expansion package focuses on the former Roman colony Britannia and is a content expansion to the main game. This new campaign includes 4 exciting new scenarios, like Londinium (London), Hadrians Wall oder Aquae Sulis (Bath), whereby each map is a reconstruction of an actual historical location. Additionally, new tablets and events will bring more variety into the gameplay as well as some some re-designed buildings.

The Value Pack is only available via download. It can be downloaded amongst others from www.imperium-game.com for £3.99.

Go to the website and find general information on the game, a variety of screenshots, the trailer of the game as streaming video, interviews with the developers and a comprehensive demo version.

EndWar Beta Test Sign-Ups

The upcoming voice-controlled Ubisoft RTS, Tom Clancy’s EndWar, is about to enter beta here in the next month or so. Today, Ubisoft began accepting applicants to the three week beta program.

EndWar is scheduled for September release on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC platforms.

Simply go here and apply!
Test of the new live blogging system!
We will be doing these alot during our coverage of the E3 expo as well as Comic Con.