Monthly Archives: March 2012

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Review – The Hunger Games (2012)

“The Hunger Games” as a novel is both an exciting romp that manages to both keep your eyes glued to the page and criticize aspects of our culture and government. The film is just as exciting, but doesn’t really feel as interested in challenging society. That isn’t to say that it is completely devoid of biting commentary on notions like the 1%, reality TV, or the growing problems of poverty around the world, it just doesn’t seem as concerned with them. Instead of presenting them in a gritty, downtrodden way like the novel, it all feels closer to satire. Even the dirty, third world District 12 feels like it’s playing up the notion of a dystopian shanty town rather than actually putting you into the hell hole author Suzanne Collins describes in her novels. Still, it’s kind of refreshing that a well made film that is aimed at young adults is actually thought provoking, if in a very simple and pedestrian way.

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Remedy hiring for next-gen project

Remedy Entertainment, have today announced plans to hire staff for a next generation project.

In a post on the official forums, community manager ‘sidetwo’ posted an image advertising ‘more than 20 new positions’ for the Finnish developers behind Alan Wake.

[http://forum.alanwake.com/files/rmd-jobs-full.jpg]

But perhaps the most tantalising piece of information one can get from this announcement, is that the roles are aimed towards an “unannounced project targeted towards future generation consoles”.

The image adds: “Interested in being part of a team on the very brink of creating the games of the future?”

While nothing has been confirmed, rumours are abound regarding the future of the Alan Wake franchise  and either way, GUFU is very interested in Remedy’s next step – especially with the now daily speculation on the next generation of home systems.

As Remedy say, ‘watch this space’.

The first batch of positions will go up next week on March 30th.

 

 

SSX: It’s Lacking Something

 

 

The rebooted SSX has been met with acclaim from both critics and fans, being praised for its addictive gameplay and well integrated online features – and rightly so.

By taking advantage of technology that powered EA’s ‘Autolog’ system in Need for Speed, RiderNet allows a seamless online experience that provides a constant challenge for players, with constantly updated times and scores inviting players to beat their rivals across the game. A global challenge system allows players to join open events which reward faster times on a predetermined drop with higher amounts of in-game cash, without the need for potentially laborious lobby loading or issues with latency.

It is indeed a novel idea, one that has led to many extended play sessions since I purchased the game. Similar to hot lapping a track in GT5 or Forza, the progression felt through shaving a few hundredths of a second off a personal best is something I find addictive and enthralling. This, coupled with a huge amount of content; whether that being drops, events, or the afore-mentioned global challenges that allow asynchronous online play, it is a game that you’d be hard pressed to criticise for being overpriced.

However there feels like there is something missing in the package overall, something which many may view as unnecessary, but one that I feel is a ridiculous oversight – and that is simultaneous online play.

 

 

A key staple in almost every suitable game these days (and often provided anyway irrespective of aptness) online play feels absolutely perfect for this type of game. While many may question it’s necessity when a capable system is already in place, it also isn’t hard to view its omission as a glaring oversight on EA’s part.

The Global Events that are provided serve their purpose, but do little to actually provide a sense of competition – overall leaderboards are replaced with brackets which only highlight key times. Whereas a lack of simultaneous play could be somewhat forgiven (although, I’m sure the reasoning for it’s absence would be interesting to hear), it seems like a leaderboard system is almost demanded in a title of this sort and it feels detrimental to the whole experience when it’s absence is so blatent.  While the game does push the fact that global events are ‘live’, current competition is shown as a collection of ghosts moving around the mountain at different paces, which a player will be hard pressed to see on any given run – and will likely ignore anyway, with the player only invested in events happening via their input.

While this provides a better focus on securing the best times possible, it also limits any number of events that can occur during well implemented simultaneous multiplayer. There is no good start gained by learning from an opponent, nor is there the tension of numerous players attempting a risky manoeuvre in to a shortcut at a seconds notice, and the nature of SSX’s multi-faceted courses provides sufficient backbone for such spontaneity (various lines are presented with some faster than others – different areas open up across levels of verticality, while some tracks provide blind drops resulting in death). Even an option to race down a mountain from a set start with friends is absent, unless you want to sit with a party on XBL and choreograph a simultaneous drop.

Just like Forza 4  and other titles have been praised for their leaderboard integration, one of the things that keeps players coming back is a competitive environment to race simultaneously, with the ability to chat to rivals and yet this is absent here as well, and this is absolutely baffling – there is no reason why these two types of play cannot co-exist, nor is it necessarily right that one should be absent over the other.

The  ‘Trick It’ mode (which allows each drop to be used as a playground for combining ludicrous stunts which calculate to an overall score) thankfully feels suited to the existing style of online.

RiderNet in conjunction with Global Challenges is by no means a bad thing, in fact I’d love to see more developers take a hint and integrate asynchronous online – providing rivalry between friends on a wider scale.  But when your primary ‘Race-It’ mode simply exists as some sort of global time trial, a time trial which lacks basic functions like a leaderboard (apart from friends) or even positional placement, any sense of intense rivalry ultimately feels dropped from the game, something at odds with the whole ethos of the experience.

As such, it’s hard not to feel like SSX is a few features short.