August 9, 2010, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Previews | Tags: ,

Worried that Reach will be your last chance to play a Bungie Halo game? Don’t. It may be the last one you’ll ever need.

With a campaign that promises to cherry-pick the best elements from the entire canon, and multiplayer that cleverly builds on years of innovation, Bungies farewell to the series they created a decade ago may just be the definitive Halo experience.

You could be playing it for a long, long time.

And whats more, it’s tantalisingly close. Our recent look at the opening 15 minutes of the campaign, tour of the astounding Forge World, and hands-on time with a beefed-up Firefight, is likely the last well see of Reach before it starts appearing on shelves across the world. It’s almost time to start the fight.

(Read more at Play.TM)


August 9, 2010, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , , ,

With just a few short weeks to go before Halo: Reach hits shelves, Bungie are gearing up to wave goodbye to the series they toiled over for the best part of a decade. They plan on going out in style. We sat down with Bungie’s Community Director Brian Jarrard, and Campaign Designer Niles Sankey in a roundtable interview to find out how they are feeling, what to expect from Reach, and future downloadable content.

You guys have been working on this franchise for a long long time, and this is obviously your swan song – what’s the overriding emotion? Sadness, relief? Its a big thing to carry on your shoulders…

Niles Sankey: I’d say bittersweet, it’s an easy answer but it’s actually true. Obviously it’s really sweet to see the response of fans, and we’re really excited right now to release the game to the public, and just see how they react to everything.

The customization for example – what will they come up with? What are they going to build in Forge? What game modes will they invent? But on the other hand we’re sad to part ways with Halo and hand off the series, but we’re also excited to be moving on to other things.

Campaign wise, how much were you affected by Halo: ODST? A lot of people liked the in-depth emotional single-player experience. Will we be seeing more of that?

Niles Sankey: Yeah, I mean to a extent. Obviously ODST was a different story, and a different way of telling a story as you had a squad of ODSTs that tell the story, and inReach it’s fairly similar – you have a squad of Spartans. The way you play the game is more like Halo’s 1 to 3, to say it’s more of a linear progression of missions but certainly with Noble team we could tell more grounded story, get the story of Noble team during the fall of Reach and the loss and tragedy that they feel.

(Read more at Play.TM)

August 9, 2010, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Previews | Tags: ,

Do you know how hard it is for us to write about a flight-sim without referencing Top Gun? It’s impossible. Tony Scott’s afterburning macho-fest was like a direct hit to our youthful minds. So much so, in fact, that many, many years on, any game with fighter planes and aerial dogfights still has us rubbing our hands together in juvenile glee.

Which was exactly what we were doing at a recent preview event for Tom Clancy’s HAWX 2. Holed-up in the entirely appropriate setting of an aircraft hanger in the middle of nowhere, we were looking forward to getting some hands-on time with the single-player campaign. But as the tutorial mission loaded, a familiar tune burst from a nearby journo’s iPhone.

It was “Danger Zone,” Kenny Loggins’ husky power-ballad masterpiece. Seems we weren’t the only ones looking forward to stepping into Maverick’s flight boots.

With such a willing audience, it’s perhaps surprising that the flight-sim genre has all but stagnated in recent years. There was a time when they dominated our shelves, with every kind of experience from F-16’s rock hard simulation to arcade fair such as Afterburner. These days, however, taking to the skies occurs all too seldom.

But Ubisoft have faith. So while EndWar – the other recent new Tom Clancy I.P – has slipped from the radar, HAWX survives for a second pass. Currently taxiing towards a September release date, it’s already looking pretty good.

(Read more at Play.TM)

August 9, 2010, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Previews | Tags: , , , ,

Christmas came early last week, as Microsoft held their annual ‘Xmas’ showcase in London’s stunning Saatchi Gallery. Organised to highlight the company’s Chrimbo line-up, it was a tech nerd’s dream of gadgets, mobiles, operating systems and peripherals. But among the stacks of sexy gizmos one particular Microsoft product took centre stage; Kinect.

Dominating an entire room of its own, the Kinect section of the venue was a dizzying whirl of flailing limbs and hopping, skipping, giggling journos. With Kinect: Adventures, Kinect: Sports and Kinect: Joy Ride, all the first-party launch titles were present and playable, the only exception being the MS/Frontier cuddle-em-up, Kinectimals. We left our inhibitions at the door and joined the madness.

Despite the widespread grins on everybody’s faces, it was with a certain amount of scepticism that we approached the demo area. Earlier in the day Dance Central had managed to scupper some of our initial reservations, but it had also raised a few questions of its own. Harmonix’s Kinect debut brilliantly obscures the technology’s limitations, but issues are still noticeable. With that in mind we were keen to see how Adventures, Sports and Joy Ride stacked up.

(Read more at Play.TM)

August 9, 2010, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Previews | Tags: ,

It was inevitable, really. Following the runaway commercial success of Ubisoft’s Just Dance, the market was bound to be flooded by cheap gimmicky imitations. And let’s face it, Just Dance was pretty cheap and gimmicky to start with. By Christmas we’ll be drowning in them.

Dance Central, however, is different. It’s a fantastically entertaining evolution of the Guitar Hero blueprint Harmonix laid down all those years ago. Brilliantly exploiting the technological prowess of Kinect, it’s also the first full-body, controller-free dancing game. It may yet prove to be Kinect’s killer app.

The initial thing that impresses about Dance Central is the ease of navigation. Thanks to Kinect, it’s wonderful. To cycle through the options all you have to do is raise or lower your hand, while making a selection merely demands that you swipe to your left. To undo a mistake you just swoosh it back to the right. It’s as intuitive as it is elegant.

(Read more at Play.TM)

August 9, 2010, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Previews | Tags: ,

“More than half the people that played Fable II understood and used less than half the features in the game. As soon as you see that you think, ‘Oh my God, what a talentless bastard I really am’.”

If one quote informs the entire development of Fable III, then it is surely this one, from the game’s Creative Director Peter Molyneux. Both inspired and horrified by the statistical revelations of Microsoft’s research department, with Fable III Molyneux has taken the opportunity to streamline, redesign or completely abandon vast swathes of its predecessor’s features, while attempting to retain much of the series’ charm.

In doing so, the world of Albion prepares to fling open its portcullis this October without a health-bar, a menu system or the experience point orbs that have been a Fable mainstay for the past seven years. In a climate where every conceivable genre is falling over itself to add RPG elements, Fable moves bravely in the opposite direction.

You could never accuse Molyneux of lacking the courage of his convictions.

Yet really it should come as no surprise. Molyneux has been banging the drum for increased accessibility in games for years now. In doing so he has slowly shifted the focus of his quintessentially British series away from role-playing adventure towards a purer form of action-adventure.

(Read more at Play.TMn)