Top Ten Games of 2013

2013 was a great year to gaming!

One Last Farewell to the Ouya

Cya, wouldn't wanna OUYA!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bahrain Game Developers show us what they've got at Animania

For the first time, Bahrain Game Developers have gotten themselves an audience. Up until then it was mostly a concept, an idea, where a bunch of artists and programmers gathered to talk about what they love most. But thanks to the efforts of the Animania team they were finally given a chance. 

Genuinely speaking though there wasn't a full game to show—mostly tech demos done by Ameen and Hamad (see above). Yet those concepts spoke larger than words. It gave gamers a reason to talk about something that wasn't made a million miles away. A glimpse in the future perhaps? Maybe I'm digging too deep into this. Maybe. But I'm hopeful and certainly can't to see what comes out of this. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thanks to Sony, Shenmue 3 might finally become a reality

Another day, another Shenmue 3 rumor. This one however may actually hold some water. According to Meggan Scavio (GM of GDC) the creator of the Shenmue series, Yu Suzuki, has met with Mark Cerny from Sony Entertainment to discuss plans on bringing Shenmue 3 to life.
Keep in mind that this is coming from the General Manager of GDC and not your typical average Joe game generalist (ahem). Adding to that, Yu Suzuki has also showed interest in using Kickstarter to fund the game--showing us how far he is willing to go to make it happen.

I also can't help but find this a bit ironic. Shenmue was the game meant to pioneer the Dreamcast and Sony were the ones who pretty much killed the system. Could this be Sony's way of saying sorry? I don't know and quite honestly, I don't care. Just make it happen, alright guys.

Latest Unreal Engine 4 tech demo is, well, unreal

Breath in. Breath out. Okay, ready?

Yes. Your eyes do not deceive you. What you just witnessed was an actual in-game demonstration of what the Unreal Engine 4 can do. In. Freaking. Game.

Kotaku, who uploaded the video, have also confimred that this demo was running on 'off the shelf hardware'. The confirmation comes from Epic Games VP, Mark Rein.
Impressive, truly impressive. I mean this could very well top Square Enix's Luminos engine demo.

For the sake of comparison, here's the Luminos tech demo

The bad news? Wii U will unfortunately be left in the dark as the Unreal Engine 4 will not be compatible with Nintendo's new system. That can be troublesome considering how popular Unreal 3 was and how all devs will probably follow. Time will tell if Epic decides to create a compatible version. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Correction: Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes is it's own separate game

Whoops! It seems there was a bit of miscommunication. While we all sat down thinking Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain were the same game, turns out we were just getting ahead of ourselves.

Hideo Kojima has written this long Tweet explaining that Ground Zeroes will in fact be a prologue to The Phantom Pain--making them two separate games.
"Ground Zeroes" is a prologue of "MGSV". 9 years after that event will be "The Phantom Pain". MGSV is constructed w/ prologue and main game "TPP". The game play demo I presented today is the opening of "TPP" which is tutorial that starts from crawling.
Now I'm not entirely sure what this "Prologue" means, but if it's anything to go by from GT 5 Prologue then it could just be a small sample of what's to come. I'd imagine this being a $ 30 PSN title or something. Well, whatever it is I hope it doesn't become an excuse to delay MGS 5 for a long period of time. I seriously can't imagine waiting another 4 years to play it. I just can't. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

MGS5: The Phantom Pain Gameplay footage and more info emerge

Following his announcement of MGS 5, Hideo Kojima (or his assistant) conducted a live demo.  Anyone who is familiar with The Phantom Pain trailer will instantly remember this hospital scene.

The demo you just saw was apparently running on current gen hardware (PS3/Xbox 360). I know, it's hard to believe. Especially considering how this will be an open world game. But! It can be possible considering how its tailored to run on both current and future gen hardware.

The video below shows off a bit of what the Fox Engine can do.

Another piece of news (which will most likely piss fans off) is the lack of David Hayter. For the first time, Snake's English voice actor will be reprised by a new one which, to be honest, doesn't sound the same. The decision apparently came from Kojima/Konami with David Hayter stating how he wasn't approached to voice Naked Snake.

Well, that's depressing ..But, hey! NEW METAL GEAR!

So far, Metal Gear Solid 5 is confirmed for PS3 and Xbox 360. Possibility of next gen port is in the air, so who knows, we might see an announcement at E3.

Huge credit goes to Rev3 games for nabbing the footage. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Phantom Pain & Ground Zeroes is now officially Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain *UPDATE*

Hideo Kojima has finally confirmed that MGS Ground Zeores & the mysterious project, The Phantom Pain, is in fact Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. The reveal comes from his GDC press conference where he showed a lengthy trailer of Snake riding in a chopper and him being in a coma.
Snake's been in a coma for nine years. Kojima said that Snake's movement is constrained because of that coma. The opening parts of the game will therefore be linear. It will then switch to an open-world type of game.
The game will also be running on the new FOX engine which, based from the screenshots below, look quite impressive.

All these images are completely rendered in real time. To further illustrate, Kojima began comparing real life photos with his engine.

At this moment there the trailer has not been officially released, but for now you can head over to Kotaku (link below) to see it on their site. 

UPDATE: Here's a trailer

At the end of the trailer, the words "V has come to" were uttered. This could be a reference to Volgin from MGS 3.


Here's our first look at Battlefield 4's campaign

EA and Dice have finally released their first 17 minute long (holly crap!) trailer of Battlefield 4. The first thing viewers will notice, aside from the visual upgrade, is the much improvement animation and lighting. The campaign seems to be a lot more engaging than BF3 (so far).

It's a safe bet to say that this game looks absolutely spectacular, especially with its scale. However, I do fear that it has succumbed to the COD virus of not taking a giant leap in terms of gameplay. I mean I honestly felt I was watching a BF3 expansion rather than a new title. But at the same time I don't think it's fair to judge on a campaign trailer, albeit a very long one. At the end of the day I feel Battlefield's core experience lies in its multiplayer so I'll reserve my judgement until I see that in action.

Kotaku has also confirmed the rumor that the game will be running on the new Frostbite 3 engine.
Players will learn how to work together in both the Campaign and Multiplayer, issuing squad orders and comparing achievements in both experiences. Adventure and Competition will unfold through a series of beautifully crafted locations constructed with some of the best art and sound design in modern shooters. All of this is only possible with Frostbite 3 – a new standard for interactive entertainment in 2013.

Battlefield 4 is expected to come out this fall for PS3, Xbox 360, PC and next gen consoles (PS4 and probably the next Xbox).  

Battlefield 4 will apparently be running on Frostbite 3

Battlefield 4's official reveal is only hours away, but a select few have already seen it in action. According to BF4Central, certain members of the press have had the privilege of witnessing Battlefield 4 gameplay in a closed press event prior to its official reveal. This sort of thing happens a lot as it gives time for writers to gather their thoughts and present a proper piece instead of a rushed job.

Of course leaks are bound to happen and among them claims that Battlefield 4 will not be using, what many claimed to be, Frostbite 2.5 but an entire new engine. Frostbite 3 will be built from the ground up which will feature enhanced destruction that involve entire buildings collapsing, better lighting, new animations, and a weather system (which probably explains the rain drops on the official promo).

The reveal isn't too far off but until then this should help keep your pants on. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Darkstalkers Resurrection (PS3) Review

If one were to describe the fighting genre it would be a giant ocean filled with fireballs, weapons, and people yelling random gibberish. There are some that manage to succeed such as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, but then there are others that fail really really hard. And then there those that people have barely heard off. Enter Darkstalkers; a game that pioneered the 16-bit stylized fighter and influenced a whole different sub-genre of fighting games. But who has actually played it? Yet alone heard of it? With Darkstalkers Resurrection, Capcom aims to fix that dilemma by reintroducing this classic brawler to a new generation.

Dynamic entry

Back in the day, games like Street fighter and Mortal Kombat tended to play it safe by having characters with include similar same combos or costumes. It’s pretty clear that someone at Capcom got sick of that idea and really wanted to give players something fresh and unique. This is where Darkstalkers really shines. Rather than martial arts, characters are based of fairy tales and horror books. This gave birth to a roster unseen in a fighting game before which included the likes of werewolfs, Little Red Riding Hood with an uzi, monsters, and of course vampires.

Character combos are fast, unique, and abstract. Players who are familiar with this concept may think of Marvel vs Capcom or Street Fighter Alpha and that’s essentially its core mechanic. EX moves, specials—they’re all here. But let it be known that those who are not good at timing will have a hard time enjoying Darkstalkers. This game is fast, frantic, and can be punishable at times. In short: this game demands your attention. Knowing when to strike is a must and one mistake may be fatal. Of course there are difficulty levels and tutorials to even it out but even those can be troublesome to master. 

The great thing about this package is that it includes both Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3. The difference, however, is hard to distinguish--to the point that Capcom had to illustrate it in a video. Both titles tended to carry the same style and combos with a few exceptions such as different rosters and gameplay tweaks. Night Warriors leans more towards Street Fighter but with a different roster. Darkstalkers 3 on the other hand is faster and more hectic (similar to Marvel vs Capcom) which can be a good or a bad thing. In my case it felt exhausting as battles now carried over into multiple rounds with only one KO. So if you were to play a best of 5 then I hope you have a bucket of ice water ready next to you.

Online battles use the GGPO system which tries to make battles feel as lag free as possible. Sadly I was not able to connect to any match. This was possibly could be due to my geographical location.

Beauty and the pixels

The ‘Resurrection’ in the title seems about right. This game is an old corpse rising from its grave, and while Capcom has tried hard to mask this beast with various filters, in the end, it looks dated. Certain character sprites and backgrounds appear colorful yet blurry or smudged, and the sound (aside from the main menu theme songs) doesn't feel like an upgrade at all. Of course that’s not to say it doesn't look vintage. Gamers who longed for a classic old colorful sprite brawler will certainly enjoy the nostalgia. New joiners on the other hand may find this as a historical trip and see how far the fighting genre has evolved. There is also an Arcade cabinet view to give it more nostalgia but it only ends being a novelty. It’s also worth mentioning that Darkstalkers is a pretty violent game which includes blood and severed limbs. It’s a strange yet intriguing to see that much violence using Street Fight style visuals.

Even after 10 years, Darkstalkers’s animations still stand the test of time
If you were wondering about the plot, well, yes. Darkstalkers does actually have a story surrounding beasts of the night and the revival of Jedah (who I’m assuming is the main villain). But like most fighting games, it exists mainly as filler and doesn't really add much other than lines of story text at the end of a battle. One little touch I did appreciate was the short trivia’s that cycles in the main menu screen. It provides a good summary about Darkstalkers's universe and its characters before jumping in a match. 

This one’s for the fans

Darkstalkers Resurrection is a great addition to Capcom’s arsenal of fighting games. It exists in a special place where gamers can go to break off the tedium and experience something wicked, wild, and fresh. It’s certainly not for everyone and I feel that mostly fans will enjoy this love letter. At the same time I can’t help but feel that this was a test; a way of Capcom to see if there is light within the darkness. If it does manage to succeed then I definitely wouldn't mind returning to the mad and twisted universe of Darkstalkers.  


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Did Google just make its first actual game?

Looks like we have a new kid on the block. The guys at Google are off with their usual shagginess of testing and experimenting apps on us petty humans. This time it's a videogame. Okay, Google. Now you got my attention.

True, Google has attempted at creating games using its logo but now we're look at an actual dedicated web app dubbed 'Google Maze'. Don't get too wind up. It's a very basic titling ball game (oh, God!) except this one lets you turn websites into tables. Adding to that you'll have the option of turning your phone into (sort of) a Wii U gamepad that uses phone's accelerometer to manipulate the table and the screen as a mini map.

[click to enlarge]

Works on both Andriod and iOS. Just make sure they're running Chrome
Seeing as how this is a Google product, I suggest you try the game now before it gets put down. Happy web surfing...err...balling? 

NeoGaf have pretty much confirmed that The Phantom Pain is a Hideo Kojima game

In what could be described one of the worst kept secrets of this generation, The Phantom Pain seems to have finally given up to the forces of the Internet.

As well know, Hideo Kojima is a walking teaser--constantly throwing hints left and right about his secret projects. He claims that The Phantom Pain is being created by Moby Dick Studios (haha, sorry I just, I can't take that sentence seriously). Today's Tweet, however, may have revealed more than it should have.
It might be too small notice but magnifying that image would reveal the following file name: TPP_GDC 2013_720p_esrb 

TPP most likely stands for The Phantom Pain and GDC means we'll most likely see a trailer at this GDC happening on Monday, the 25th of March. Further more, looking at the time code you will seethe time digit to be placed somewhere around the 5 minute range. TOO MUCH HYPE? BUT the real question is: will we see it as The Phantom Pain or Metal Gear Ground Zeroes? The official Metal Gear Solid Facebook page seems to be suggest that it will most likely be Metal Gear Ground Zeroes or maybe even both!

Credit goes to the guys at NeoGaf for dissecting this image. You guys never cease to amaze me.

Dice will officially debut its Battlefield 4 gameplay footage on March 27

EA and Dice has officially switched on its hype machine on its latest military behemoth--Battlefield 4. On March 27th we will finally get to see next gen soldiers, weapons, and vehicles in action. To make things more interest, Dice is asking fans to participate by visiting the official BF website and logging in. Doing so will unlock artwork and a dogtag (yea, it's one of those things again).

[click to enlarge]

Tanks + heavy rain = deep stuff
Okay, this is cool and all but am I the only getting the feeling that this artwork doesn't I'm not saying Dice has run out of ideas, it just that, this concept art looks nearly identical to BF3. Really I mean just imagine the same artwork with a Battlefield 3 logo on top and no one will be able tell what's new or old. I guess what I'm really trying to say is a lot is riding on this gameplay footage. Let's hope it aims to impress.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

FEZ is shifting platforms and will arrive on PC, May 1s

The critically acclaimed 2D shifting platfomer, FEZ, will finally break free from the 360 shackles and hit the PC on May 1st. Steam has officially listed the game and while we all had a feeling this was coming it's still good to see a release date.

No official word on what special features this will include but seeing as how it's arriving on Steam you can look forward to more...hats! Fez hats (tarboosh), that is. Price is still mystery but expect it around the 15-20 dollar range.

Here's hoping that Fez will also arrive on other platforms as well, including mobile phones. 

Lightning goes to the desert in these new LR: FF13 images

Sqaure Enix have just revealed some new screen shots of Lighting Returns, this time showing us a new desert location called Dead Dunes. As shown with in the gameplay trailer, Lightning is capable of interacting with her environment, which in this case means she cans slide down sand dunes a la Journey.

Another interesting tidbit is the EP gauge which gives Lightning the ability to slow down time as well as cast recovery spells during battle.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Arab Gamer and Bahraini Game Devs. Going to Animania 2013 (Bahrain)

The biggest anime/game convention in Bahrain will return for is 3rd time. Expect cosplay, anime (duh), random nonsense, and of course, VIDEOGAMES!!!11

Last time I was there, I was pushing for the revival of Mega Man Legends 3 (which is still going on by the way). This time however, I will be representing The Arab Gamer and, wait for it, Bahraini Game Developers. Yes those guys that are, you know, trying to make a difference in our country. Game Development is serious business, people!

Anyways, our purpose will be to show what we guys are doing and how you (at least for locals) can be a part of it as well. We want to hear your voice, your opinions about what makes Bahraini Game Developers so special, and how we can start moving forward. We're still laying the foundations so your voice will matter a lot.

Look forward to me, Ameen, Baraa, Hamad (and possibly more) at our booth. Animina will start on March 14 at 12 PM till 12 AM at the BIC (Bahrain International Circuit). Tickets will also be available at the front gate exhibition hall. And for those of who can't make the event; I'll be sure to record it and blog it.

Cya there, ya aziz! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

DmC: Vergil's Downfall (PC) Review

Despite its polarized reception from fans, DmC turned out to be a surprisingly good game. Rather than just tweaking the gameplay, Ninja Theory brought their A material and decided to give the characters a fresh coat of paint. And while we finally learnt what new Dante is all about many were left wondering about his twin brother, Vergil. Those of you who are familiar with the original Devil May Cry universe will know that Vergil is Dante’s sworn rival; constantly challenging him and putting Dante’s skill to the test. The reboot only gave us a glimpse of this towards the end when things suddenly ended on a sudden cliff hanger. With DmC’s first big DLC, Vergil’s Downfall manages to give players a first glimpse at this fallen hero and what will become of him in the inevitable sequel. 

“You Reap What You Sow”

Vergil's Downfall takes place right where things left off. If you haven’t finished DmC then you probably should avoid the spoiler below.
After barely surviving his battle with Dante, Vergil teleports near his Mother’s grave. There he falls and slowly begins his decent into hell. Rather than understanding his errors, Vergil decides to go south and begins blaming everyone except himself. His ego really pops as you slowly get to see his dark manifestation take place; turning him into the cold heartless warrior he is known for. It’s a nice Darth Vader kind of twist that makes you feel like you're playing a corrupted fallen hero.
**Spoiler end**
Cutscenes have also taken a new comic book/story board animation style which give Vergil’s hell world a much more edgier look.

A world broken apart

Levels in Vergil’s Downfall still carry over DmC s ‘trippy mad world environment’ signature. Though many would expect to see new locations, you’d be disappointed to learn that a lot of the levels are actually recycled from DmC. Houses, subways, city’s all feel familiar and lack any proper identity. I was even asked to repeat one level again just with new powers. It feels a tad lazy and can even be seen worse thanks to its platforming. Overall the levels could have used more polish to stand out.

Recycled assets aside, there's still some pretty nice eye candy

Gameplay that lacks a punch

Vergil’s sword play is a dramatic departure from Dante. Rather than simply being quick and reckless; Vergil plays like a calm samurai--forcing me to rely more on timing than on speed. He does feel a lot slower than Dante which can make things a lot more difficult when dealing with quick opponents. Making things even more challenging is the limited Arsenal. Vergil only uses his Yamato sword and Sword Illusions (for long range). Though you do receive upgrades such as the angel and demon mode for your Yamato they tend to arrive late. Another main feature that arrives at the last minute is the Doppelganger mode which allows Vergil to create a shadow of himself. It’s ridiculously fun and makes battles feel more creative. It could have used more levels but it sadly was thrown for the last stage to probably wow us before seeing the credits roll.
It’s true that one of DmC’s signatures are moving platforms but this DLC will made me resent them. To put it short there are too many platforms in this DLC. Using sword illusion will allow you to teleport from platform to platform, which is kind fun, until you reach a battle. Here things get really messy. Rather than focusing on the actual battle, a lot of the time I ended up worrying about endless pits. Since enemies in this game come in numbers and from all sides, I resorted to a lot of dodging or teleporting to enemies further away. The problem is because of the small platforms you might occasionally end up teleporting too far away. One incident had me literally shooting through the air like a sling shot towards an enemy only to find myself falling into oblivion. As a resort I often ended up relying on the shockwave move to push enemies away making them fall to their doom. It’s a cheap trick that shouldn’t leave anyone satisfied but when put on the edge against four tough baddies, you’ll do it!

They weren't kidding about the "Downfall" part
Another disappointed are the lack of boss battles. There were too many missed opportunities, such as one against Dante, but most of them only ends up leading to a cutscene. Throughout the whole game you’ll only end up fighting one sub boss and one actual boss; leaving plenty room for more.

Who turned off the music?

One major downside to Vergil’s Downfall is the lack of a proper soundtrack. Instead of hearing the full blown metal from the original we are instead treated to cinematic battle music which sounded pretty generic. As my friend so nicely put it said “it feels too quiet”. Indeed.

A sign of things to come

If one thing Vergil’s Downfall did make me excited for was its ending. It was nice way to give fans a glimpse to its sequel and at the same time show us how Vergil came to be the villain we know. The only thing that this game lacks from its predecessor is quality. Simple linear level design, combat that doesn’t feel right, and platforming hell (literally) all show signs that this DLC could have been better. For its price I’d recommend the die hard fans to buy it but if you’re intrigued then I suggesting waiting for a price drop. it’s worth a shot if only to see the metamorphosis of Vergil.