PC Gaming

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Good news, PC gamers! Taiwan’s Biostar has partnered up with their official local distributor to start offering full, three-year warranmties on select products sold here. In our estimation, this is a fairly competitive warranty that definitely makes grabbing their ‘boards a very enticing proposition. Three years is just about enough time in between upgrades, so it’s nice to have that extra piece of mind that you’re covered in case your motherboard conks out. Because, hey, it happens to the best of us.

 

Press Release follows.

***

November 10th, Manila, Philippines – BIOSTAR, based in Taiwan, is growing the distribution network in Asia and is now partnering with EA GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS INC. and offering a full 3 year warranty for products sold in the Philippines. BIOSTAR is famous in various computer product family areas including: Embedded solutions, Mini PC barebones systems, Graphics cards and Motherboards.

BIOSTAR “A58MDP”, micro-ATX form factor that supports AMD Socket FM2/FM2+ APUs and offers native support for USB 3.0 and dual-channel DDR3 memory motherboard is the most cost effective solution in the market. The board features the latest BIOSTAR technologies such as BIOS Flasher and BIOS Online Update for easy updating and restoration of the BIOS, as well as BIO-Remote2 for remote control of the system via Android and Apple devices.

Another popular board, based on the Intel H81 chipset, is the “H81MHV3”. It supports Intel 4th generation Core i7 and Core i5 processors, with integrated HD 4600Graphics, memory speed supports up to 1600MHz. The H81 chipset has two SATA 6Gb/s ports (plus four SATA 3Gb/s ports), and two USB 3.0 headers. The H81MHV3 is a great combination for low-cost but with rich features; video output includes HDMI support as well as USB 3.0 support. It makes it a great option for small form factor systems where you rarely have more than one discrete card and two SATA drives. Being Intel based boards, they also feature Intel Rapid Start Technology and Intel Smart Connect Technology.

Lastly, BIOSTAR is also going to release a new “Gaming” series motherboard soon, so stay tuned for more great things from BIOSTAR.

H81MHV3 – http://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en/mb/introduction.php?S_ID=693

A58MDP – http://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en/mb/introduction.php?S_ID=704

For local Philippine representation contact EA GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS INC. at the website: www.EAGLOBAL.com.ph

About BIOSTAR

BIOSTAR, a manufacturer dedicates in motherboards, graphics cards and industrial computing systems. Since its establishment in 1986, the BIOSTAR GROUP has become a major motherboard supplier in the PC industry. In order to pursue continuous growth, BIOSTAR has invested heavily in acquiring the physical and human resources to excel at research and development. With a constant emphasis on quality, BIOSTAR always seeks to offer products with the highest price-performance ratio.

As avid gamers, we always want to be ahead of the game (awful pun intended) by having the latest gadgets that enable us to play all the best games, either on the big screen or on the go. Y’see, games aren’t just played on consoles or handhelds nowadays: gaming is now a ubiquitous enough hobby that one can enjoy on any piece of tech with a screen. For instance, here’s my personal list of gadgets that I enjoy playing games on!

IMG_26171. HP Envy 15″ and Macbook Pro Retina 13″ laptops – I only play Diablo III Reaper of Souls and a bunch of Steam games on PC so I fire one of these two from time to time. I use the HP when I’m docked as it is heavier but it’s where I mostly play because of the bigger screen,  hard disk and a fuller keyboard. I use the Macbook when I’m stuck outside and more for work, but I also have a limited number games installed on that machine (like yep, Diablo III; if you haven’t figured out, I’m a D3 addict).

2. PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS – If I have to go out and I know I have to wait long for something (pay for a bill, or wait for someone to arrive), I almost always carry one of these babies depending on what I am currently playing. The titles are pretty diverse in each so you can always find a few games that will sit on your GOTY of the forever (for me it was Persona 4 Golden and Fire Emblem Awakening).

IMG_2529

3. iPhone 5 – If I have a spare minute (or thirty), I fire up Clash of Clans or one of my favorite Kairosoft titles (now being Ninja Village) to get my gaming fix. LINE also has a bunch of games like Puzzle Bobble (who hasn’t played or got addicted to that game though) but it gets pretty limited because of the fatigue-based mechanic (5 stages at a time, then you have to wait 30 minutes to replenish one stage turn). It’s pretty lightweight as a gaming platform but with millions of users, even Square Enix has picked up the pace and ported some of its most popular titles on iTunes.

4. PlayStation 3, XBOX 360 and Wii U – Exclusive titles and things more epic go to one of these consoles. Admittedly, I haven’t fired up anything recently (probably Wind Waker U from a few months back), but I still have a few discs lying around that I should look into finishing before I get a…

5. PlayStation 4Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out in a few months; I happen to be a big DA fan so this is the title that will make me break the bank to get a unit. Priced competitively and having supported off-screen play through the PS Vita, this is definitely the next step to my gaming progression.

From upgrades to new models to competing brands, deciphering what’s worth the splurge is an exhausting, confusing feat. So, SM Supermalls is making it easy for you as they celebrate Cyber Month for the whole month of August.

Get a gadget upgrade and join in the geeky fun with SM Supermalls’ exciting line-up of activities that will make all tech lovers go crazy:

  • Tech Sale – Stock up on the latest gadgets at discounted prices in the biggest technology sale of the year.
  • Cybervasion – Discover and experience the latest gadgets at their interactive tech displays.
  • Game Station – Check the hottest gaming consoles and videogames of the season.
  • Cosplay Parade – Catch your favorite characters and the most outrageous costumes at their exciting cosplay parade.

Even more surprises await online with SM Supermalls’ #31HappyCyberDays promo:

  • DigiTalk – Answer Cyber Month-related questions on the SM Supermalls Facebook page and win cool prizes.
  • Cyber Rave – Listen to what your favorite blogger has to say about their favorite gadgets of 2014.
  • Tech Throwback – Send in a pic of your “antique” gadget together with a clever caption or funny story and win its modern-day counterpart.

Be the first on scene with the newest gizmos as SM Supermalls celebrates Cyber Month until August 31. For more details, like SM Supermalls on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@smsupermalls), and use the hashtag #EverythingForTheTechieInYou. You can also like their SM Cyberzone Facebook Fanpage at https://www.facebook.com/smcyberzone. Contact these numbers for queries: (02) 876-1111 (Metro Manila) / 0917 876-1111 (Globe) / 0908 876-1111 (Smart) / 0922 876-1111 (Sun).

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

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423140When I was little, one of my favorite cartoon series was Duck Tales just because of the catchy opening theme song (Duck Tales, awoo-hoo!) and lead character Scrooge McDuck diving into a ton of gold coins in his personal vault. “That was the life!”, I thought. Now in my early 30s, I still have no vault of gold coins, but I can still dive into riches virtually in a whole realm. Enter WAKFU‘s latest update: Enurado the Golden Realm.

Being a strategy nut, I got engrossed with Ankama‘s first game DOFUS. I played it like crazy during my stint as an online game playtester (aka content coordinator) when I was still working in Level Up! International. DOFUS ended up being published only in the Brazil arm which made me a bit sad as I really wanted to have the game released locally so I can play with the thriving online games community here in the Philippines.

mapHowever, I am psyched that they have upgraded the game with WAKFU, which also has a cross-media experience of being in all of relevant geek media like comic books, animated series, and video games (both online and console). Best of all, it didn’t lose all that strategic gameplay charm that DOFUS had because it is practically the same universe (called Krosmoz) in the game, only with extra cool features like ecology and citizenship. Now, WAKFU is also being hosted in Asia with a local service specifically meant to cater to us. That is pretty sweet!

So anyway, this update is set in a new map called Enurado which is basically a map made of riches. This is best explored with a party of your friends so round-up your posse now-ish because the update is already live. Below are the newest things to make the update:

  • 1 new dungeon for level 160-170 so keep up with the program and hit the max level pronto
  • 1 new Enutrof monster family, led by Cledus ‘Onist the Key-Keeper
  • 9 main quests to keep you busier
  • 4 environmental quests
  • 9 achievements
  • 53 new items to loot and make you richer

entree_djYou can line your pockets with treasure inside Enurado as the update is now live in the site as I’ve mentioned, but before you go, you might as well grab some riches in this here site! Below are codes that you can enter in your WAKFU game account that will net you:

10 Glossy Runes (used for upgrading items) for just liking and sharing this post! Limited to 100 WAKFU players!

(Note: You can only redeem this code once per game account)

…And a very rare (classed as mythical) item in WAKFU called Virulent Treacherose. Only 10 codes will be given away so aside from liking and sharing, you need to answer a question as well!

Question: What crafting profession in WAKFU can make all sorts of dishes from meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, and fine herbs? Their dishes not only give your taste buds a treat, but they’re also highly sought after as they grant special bonuses that no other items offer.

CLICK HERE AND ENTER YOUR ANSWER AS THE PASSWORD TO WIN!

(Note: You can only redeem this code once per game account)

Within the week, we are also going to raffle off some VERY COOL action figures inspired by WAKFU. The game has amazing art and it is actually one of the most endearing things about it for me so having these action figures will add a lot of pizzazz in your desktop or display cabinet! Just to tease you, we are giving away:

  1. Collectors Edition Remington action figure x 1pc
  2. Wakfu Collection Yugo action figure x 1pc
  3. Wakfu Collection Nox action figure x 1pc

Here are some of the pictures of the action figures! They are pretty awesome, right?

IMG_5447 IMG_5449 IMG_5450

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The patch is live now so you can go to www.wakfu.asia to continue playing or sign up for an account if you haven’t yet. You also need to like the Philippine Facebook page as they are hosting a lot of events in their page for local fans (and their GMs are funny)!

Ready to line your pockets?

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Giveaway time! I know you guys like free stuff and we do like giving stuff, so it’s a win-win sitch right there. The good folks from Garena gave us some Elsword in-game item codes plus awesome real life stuff like t-shirts, baller bands and ID lanyards so read on to know how to get your hands on some.

Elsword is launching its second season TODAY, July 10! Aside from fixing major game issues such as getting rid of horrid hackers and other nasty vidya problems, new character Ara Haan’s highly anticipated release is also being celebrated by game fans as well as more exciting stuff coming up in the next few weeks.

For the uninitiated, Elsword made its way to the Philippines last October 2, 2013. It is a 2.5D MMO game that was awaited by a lot of casual-MMO players for over 5 years since its debut in Korea. The game is developed by well-known developer, KOG’ Games.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase and check out what’s new in the game. For your easy reading pleasure, here’s a bulleted rundown of what’s happening in Elsword Season 2!

  • Ara
    Season 2 features new character Ara Haan

    Antihack System – I bet this is something all online gamers would want for their game. Garena is strictly implementing the Elsword PH Clean Up Drive which has helped curb hackers and the videogame villains from abusing the system. With the installation of the new anti-hack feature now in effect, gamers can now play without worries.

  • New UI – Elsword has also revamped the game’s UI which is now well-organized and user-friendly. But if you prefer the old UI, there’s also an option to keep using it so don’t fret.
  • New Characters – Aside from the awaited Ara Haan, all your favorite characters will have a big update! Each one will have a third job branch beginning with titular character Elsword (which becomes a Sheath Knight), Aisha (Dimension Witch), Rena (Night Watcher), Raven (Veteran Commander), Eve (Code: Battle Seraph), and Chung (Tactical Trooper).
  • New Dungeons – Teamwork is key in the game’s new dungeons as you need to work effectively with other players to conquer the quests at hand. Secret dungeons also appear when you hit level 50 so don’t slack off! Dungeons reward players with materials that can be used to craft powerful items so it is worth going through them.
  • New Pets and Mount System – Pets, aside from being super cute, are also super helpful during dungeon runs as they can loot stuff for you and also can unleash devastating attacks once their affinity reaches 100%. Mounts are ever present in MMOs as they provide you with mobility, but did you know that they can also attack in Elsword? Pretty awesome.
  • Wedding System – Lots of benefits for couples deciding to get marriedin game! Aside from looking snazzy with the wedding costumes that you get for 30 days, you also get an exclusive skill called Extreme Heavenly Love! You also get a chat tab exclusively for you and your honey’s use too so you don’t bombard the regular chat with the mushy messages.Awww.

    WEDDING (1)
    Wedding!
  • PvP – What’s unique in Elsword’s Player vs Player is the introduction of the sparring and arena modes. Feisty adventurers who want to compete against other players can go to the arena and get ranked. Sparring is a game mode where you can practice your skills against other players. The match isn’t recorded but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your all!
  • Hyperactive Skills – Once you reach level 65, you can get these ultra powerful attacks for your characters! Whirling swords, elementals storms, rain of arrows, large exploding hands, deadly laser beams, destructive missiles, you name it. These skills are the deadliest of the deadly and requires you to be at your best.
  • Ara Haan – New character Ara is the daughter of Warrior family called ‘Han’ in Northern Empire of Fluone Continent. She uses the long range benefits of the spear, but is also dangerous close up.
  • Other stuff to look forward to – Little Hsien as Ara’s first class and Sakra Devanam as second job for Ara, Sander 5th and 6th dungeons, and level cap increase to 70.
MOBYCHARIOTMOUNT
Moby Chariot mount

So here’s the exciting stuff! We have in-game item codes to share with you so you can start with a bang in Season 2. Just like and share this post via your Facebook account to claim! Reminder though, you can only claim one code per game account so don’t be greedy and share with your friends!

Here’s what you can get in the game:

  • El Search Party Officer Full set cube (3 days) x 1
  • Mount 3 types random cube (7 days) x 1
  • EXP 15% medal (7 days) x 1
  • Magic Necklace (7 days) x 1
  • Luriel’s complete recovery potion x 10

You can start redeeming them today until August 10, 2014.

 

We’ll also raffle off a set of Elsword t-shirt, baller bands and a lanyard to some lucky winners who will like and share the post so make sure you do (and tell all your friends about this raffle while you’re at it).

See you in Elrios!

Alas, it’s that time of year again where every otherwise-rational gaming enthusiast turns into drooling manchildren, evacuating their trousers for games that will never live up to their expectations. It must be E3 season!

Due to… scheduling conflicts (yeah let’s go with that), 30lives won’t be able to actively cover E3 this year like we were able to last year. However, we promise that we’ll be sending out smarmy tweets and Facebook posts whenever appropos, so make sure to watch our social media pages for ’em. Predictions? We haven’t been paying much attention. Personally I’m pining for a Fallout 4 trailer (with gameplay this time) and for Nintendo to pull something cool out their behinds. Otherwise, it’s looking like a “safe,” sterile and uneventful E3 this year, as none of the expected announcements really excite me.

If you’re new to E3, you’ll soon figure out that the actual press conferences (i.e., where the actual hype/hilarity happens) actually take place a few days from the conference. That’s right, starting tomorrow, all bets are on as to which company’s PR/marketing department deserves to be fired. Microsoft will kick off the pressers at 9:30am (PST, which is… 12:30am Tuesday Philippine time), followed by EA, Ubisoft, and Sony. Nintendo won’t have a live press conference; instead they’ll be broadcasting a live Nintendo Direct to take the company’s yearly dump on their fans. I really liked this chart from NeoGAF, so I’ll be stealing it. For those that didn’t make it past grade school, the Perth/AWST schedule is what you’re supposed to be looking at.

e3times2014

Twitch.tv will be the official streaming partner for this year’s E3, and will be broadcasting a smorgasbord of content throughout the next week. For your convenience, here’s what’s on their schedule; please note that all times specified are in Pacific Standard Time.

Monday 6/9 PT

  • 9:30am – Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing
  • 11:00am – Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing Post show
  • 11:30pm – Hotline Miami 2 (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital)
  • 12:00pm – EA World Premiere: E3 2014 Preview
  • 1:00pm – Battlefield Hardline Live Stream
  • 2:00pm – EA World Premiere: E3 2014 Post show
  • 2:30pm – Battlecry (Bethesda)
  • 3:00pm – Ubisoft 2014 E3 Media Briefing
  • 4:00pm – Ubisoft 2014 E3 Media Briefing Post show
  • 4:30pm – Witcher 3 (CD Projekt RED)
  • 5:00pm – Dying Light (Techland)
  • 5:30pm – Final thoughts
  • 6:00pm – PlayStation E3 2014 Press Conference

Tuesday 6/10 PT

  • 9:00am – Nintendo Digital Event
  • 10:00am – Deep Silver (Unannounced title)
  • 10:15am – Deep Silver (Unannounced title)
  • 10:30am – Dragon Age: Inquisition (EA)
  • 11:00am – Ubisoft (Unannounced title)
  • 11:20am – The Division (Ubisoft)
  • 11:40am – Farcry 4 (Ubisoft)
  • 12:00pm – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Activision)
  • 12:20pm – Microsoft Studios (Unannounced title)
  • 12:40pm – Microsoft Studios (Unannounced title)
  • 1:00pm – DRIVECLUB (SCEA)
  • 1:20pm – Evil Within (Bethesda)
  • 1:40pm – Lords of the Fallen (NAMCO)
  • 2:00pm – Destiny (Activision/BUNGIE)
  • 2:20pm – The Order: 1886 (SCEA)
  • 2:40pm – Nintendo Demo
  • 3:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)
  • 4:00pm – Super Smash Bros. Invitational (Nintendo)

Wednesday 6/11 PT

  • 10:00am – Alienware
  • 10:30am – Twitch Time
  • 11:00am – Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games/Microsoft Studios)
  • 11:20am – ID@Xbox (Unannounced title)
  • 11:40am – Killer Instinct: Season Two (Iron Galaxy/Microsoft Studios)
  • 12:00pm – Square Enix (Unannounced title)
  • 12:20pm – Square Enix (Unannounced title)
  • 12:40pm – H1Z1 (Sony Online Entertainment)
  • 1:00pm – EA (Unannounced title)
  • 1:20pm – Batman: Arkham Knight (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • 1:40pm – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • 2:10pm – Nintendo Demo
  • 2:30pm – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Unannounced title)
  • 2:50pm – Crytek (Unannounced title)
  • 3:00pm – SCEA (Unannounced title)
  • 3:15pm – SCEA (Unannounced title)
  • 3:30pm – Hohokum (Honeyslug, SCE Santa Monica Studio)
  • 3:45pm – Helldivers (Arrowhead Game Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • 4:00pm – Alien Isolation (The Creative Assembly/SEGA)
  • 4:20pm – Civilization: Beyond Earth (2K)
  • 4:40pm – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition on PS4 (Blizzard)
  • 5:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)

Thursday 6/12 PT

  • 10:00am – Tetris w/creator Alexey Pajitnov
  • 10:15am – Zombies Monsters Robots (Ying Pei Games)
  • 10:30am – Guinness World Records – certificate presentation
  • 11:00am – Fable Legends (LionHead/Microsoft Studios)
  • 11:20am – #IDARB (ID@Xbox)
  • 11:40am – Project Spark (Team Dakota/Microsoft Studios)
  • 12:00pm – Nintendo Demo
  • 12:20am – Square Enix (Unannounced title)
  • 12:40pm – PlanetSide 2 PS4 Edition (Sony Online Entertainment)
  • 1:00pm – 505 Games (TBD) 1:20pm – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Unannounced title)
  • 1:40pm – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Gearbox/2K)
  • 2:00pm – Ubisoft (Unannounced title)
  • 2:20pm – The Crew (Ubisoft)
  • 2:40pm – Nintendo Demo
  • 3:00pm – Tecmo Koei (Unannounced title)
  • 3:20pm – Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes (Disney Interactive)
  • 3:40pm – SEGA Sonic BOOM! (SEGA)
  • 4:00pm – Evolve Special Tournament (2K)

So I read about a “big issue” in the “e-sport world” of the Philippines from a phrase uttered by one of local e-Sport’s more prominent figures. The issue is apparently so big that it deserved coverage on some tech blogs; of course spouting the ever-so cliche feel-good ideas of “love of the game” and blatantly implying that the next generation of “cyber athletes” shouldn’t be “such money-grubbers”.

Excuse me while I laugh my ass off.

As offended I am at the sensibilities of the people who wrote that (blog post) garbage, I find it laughable that people still think that e-Sports is a thing in the Philippines or even in the world. Okay, maybe it is a thing with some local guys posing for MSI‘s gaming hardware, one of them being the subject of the other blog’s scrutiny. Or with the resurgence of Mineski and their brand of tournaments along with other emerging e-Sport promoters. More recently, there is a renewed interest in online games with Smart Telecom’s Game X platform for purchasing game credits for local game publishers. They also hosted a rather big tournament for Massive’s games with a more gratuitous prize pool in comparison with Assault Fire’s measly prize pool tournament which started this whole “debacle”. Mmm… maybe e-sports IS a thi—NOPE.

Are Filipino online gamers just that cheap, poor, or have they just moved on to other games?
Are Filipino online gamers just that cheap, poor, or have they just moved on to other games?

Still a big fat nope. E-sports is still not a thing in the Philippines, no matter how hard people try. It only appears to be a thing on the off-chance that people actually get with the program and make big money for e-sport promotions, game publishers, and sponsors. One of the key ingredients to making a successful e-Sport league is a big budget coming from a sustainable revenue stream. The lack of a sustainable revenue stream is something all online game publishers in the country have in common. I believe we have seen Level-Up, the country’s largest game publisher change hands more than three times in the past few years. It’s like passing a hot potato that nobody really wants.

If you actually follow e-sports, you will know that it goes with the game with the biggest player base and revenue stream. Back in the day it was Counter-Strike, and then Starcraft. There were many games they experimented in-between but it ultimately landed on massive online battle arenas (MOBAs), starting with that Warcraft III mod to League of Legends and then finally DotA 2. Most e-sport games in the spotlight are online games and there is no doubt as to why they are capable of having large prize pool tournaments continuously. That’s because they have a large base of players who buy their virtual items, merchandise and/or services regularly to the point that it has become the equivalent of printing money. It’s true, people go where the money goes both promoters and players and some people make it sound like a bad thing. As if these competitive e-sport types of games are the only games you can play “for-the-love-of-fucking-gaming.” By the way, I love how DotA 2 did their merchandise, that’s how I would have done League of Legends.

It really does print money.
It really does print money.

I’ve always told my colleagues that these e-sport events are necessary costs for the sole purpose of advertising your online game. They are glorious spectacles that cost a lot of money. You can hardly measure the results because there is a limited number of people you can accommodate in a day for a tournament so you won’t see a big spike in any measurable key performance indicators. But you know what, if you want to push your game into the mainstream, this is the road you have to take. You also need to keep your players interested in playing your game and spending money. Competitive games like first-person shooters and MOBAs thrive on competition so you need to conduct tournaments and the more newsworthy they are, the more advantageous it is to the game you are promoting.

Anybody remember this? It never materialized.
Anybody remember this? It never materialized.

The cost for logistics for a weekend tournament is already more than enough to make you shake your head in disbelief should you actually try to make money from these events; then there is the prize pool. What is the prize pool meant for? To reward players for their time and hard work? Hardly, it’s to make the tournament attractive enough to motivate people to take a crack at it and to make people talk about it. Then comes the hours of training, going through strategies, and even buying virtual items when needed. Preparation for these tournaments cost money too, if you’re serious about it. It’s an ersatz marketing tool, if anything.

Any spectator who comes into contact with staff or people in-the-know will scoff at a tournament with a small prize pool whereas their jaws will drop at disbelief at a fat prize pool. Big money tournaments are newsworthy, they can and will be talked about but that doesn’t equate an instant increase in your player base. A P1.5 million prize pool didn’t help Ragnarok Online keep it’s player base from bleeding to Ran Online. E-Game’s nationwide tournament for the now dead and buried Operation 7 which was also barking about a one million peso prize pool failed to garner enough interest and the tournament fizzled, never seeing the light of day.

I just contradicted myself. First they are a necessary spectacle and then they don’t really work. Why? I guess you’ll have to tune in tomorrow, as I dissect the requisite evils of these tournaments. Then, I will address the issue made by ignorant peanut gallery bloggers and the butt hurt of Assault Fire’s Community Manager. Also, it’s two parts because we are in dire need of hits before we “go red” and unlock the “In-debt knowledge of blogging” achievement. That sentence before this was sarcasm because I know it has to be pointed out.

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Hey MMO gamers! Through some happenstance and magic, we happened to stumble upon 400 beta keys for the much-anticipated Southeast Asian release of Phantasy Star Online 2. After quickly finding out that online gaming beta keys aren’t accepted as currency or barter for, um… questionable things, we decided to whip up some code sorcery and give ’em out to you, our wonderful readers.

Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming out at an unspecified date courtesy of Asiasoft, giant corporate entity most recently known for buying out Level Up Philippines. The publisher plans to release the game throughout their SEA area of responsibility, which includes Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. So if you happen to be in that area of the world (if you’re reading this very post, chances are, you are), please enjoy the unique beta key below this post.  Oh yeah, this is for the PC version of the game; yes we are equally upset that Sega won’t get off their FAAAAT ASSES and localize the game’s Vita version.

Fine print and details ahoy!

  • Date: Thursday, 10 till Sunday, 13 April 2014
  • Beta Starting Time: 1500HRS (Philippine time, GMT +8), Daily
  • Beta Closing Time: 2359HRS (Philippine time, GMT +8), Daily
  • Beta Activation Page: http://bit.ly/PmhHJa

Developed by SEGA Corporation, Phantasy Star Online 2 is a Massively Multiplayer Action Online Role Playing Game (MMOARPG) where players get to experience revolutionary combat in an action-driven gameplay, to take a journey into an immersive sci-fi fantasy narrative and to explore mysterious worlds to unravel their secrets.  For more information, check out the game’s official website: http://pso2.playpark.com/en/ and follow the game on Facebook for community updates: https://www.facebook.com/playpso2.ph.

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. We here at 30lives.net is proud to present our new review series, Retro Reviews. Sometimes we all have that itching to play something from the past, something close to our hearts and we are not that different. All of us, right here in 30lives.net, will never let go of our childhood as they were precious to us and to our readers. We start our series with an old indie game: Frank’s Advanture 2.

frank 0

Franks Adventure 2 was released by the now defunct?/retired developer Wiesi-Mausland (Now called Wiesi) back in November 2003. This was a follow-up to the hugely popular Frank’s Adventure released earlier in October. Frank’s adventure 2 vastly improves everything that was great about the first game, while also removing the few negative things that hurt the original. It can be classified as a sandbox adventure game with item-trading as one of its biggest points.

frank6
It’s frank.

 

You play as Frank, just a regular guy who seems to have a talent for entrepreneurship, meeting people and a taste for adventure. Immediately the character relates to the player due to his desire for adventure and fun and love. After the saving the publishing company that he works for in the previous game, his boss asked trusted him to help their main branch in the city to help their financial situation. Frank, being the professional and great businessman that he is, bought a plane to the city to save the publishing company that he loves so much.

frank 3
we should be like Frank and be a professional

 

Immediately after taking control of Frank, you’ll see the difference in graphics from the original. Sharper and clearer outlines and colors, tall buildings and busy streets. The game map is nearly 1.5x the size of the original, and there are more dangers in the city than the countryside in the first game. Crossing the street feels just as dangerous due to the many cars, and other surprises that you encounter during the game that truly challenges anybody who wants to complete the game. Character models are also improved massively with the semi-celshading (remember this was 2003) that produces more realistic looking characters during the time of course.

The catchy music that plays while you move around the city is relazing in contrast to the busy streets. However, because of the limitations of the time and the developer’s own indie cred, no voiceovers were given for the great dialogue in the game. They won’t lose points for this because it also shows how focused Frank must be to block out all the distractions in the city just to finish his goal.

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Characters with great unique personalities and backstories. This was ahead of it’s time.

 

Controls are insanely simple and you can pretty much play this game one-handed, a great feature at the time compared to other games released at the time. This is actually the best and greatest thing about this game. More games need to be playable one handed especially in our more busy lives.

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Cameos from some popular characters are here

 

 

Franks adventure 2  was released free as well, and still accessible in the internet. This truly is, one of the greatest indie games released in history and was very influential for many games that we enjoy today.

You can play Frank’s Adventure 2 online at Newgrounds. http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/134777

Squenix’ successful PC/PS3 MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will be gracing Sony’s next (current) generation console officially on April 14th. If you already played this on the PS3 then you are automatically qualified to play the beta which starts on February 22nd. This gives you time to think if you wanna upgrade to the PS4 version.

Square Enix will also release a collector’s edition of the game which will include content from previous PS3 and PC collector’s editions with a Fat Chocobo Mount and a Wind-Up Moogle Minion.

I’m done with MMO’s myself but I’ll be sure to at least try the beta and ogle at the graphics.

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Weakest release week ever! Boooo!

But I would suggest you get OlliOlli if nothing else (given you have a PS Vita).

 

NO NEW RELEASES

 

Lucifer Ring (PSone Import/PSN)

OlliOlli (PS Vita/PSN)

 

Dead Rising 3 – Operation Broken Eagle (DLC)

 

Insurgency (PC/Steam)

Kickbeat Steam Edition (PC/Steam)

One would be remiss by dismissing Yasumi Matsuno’s (Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy XII) next big project Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians as yet another example of golden-age videogames talent “slumming it” through the usual channels of Kickstarter and mobile gaming. Co-developers Playdek are no slouches—the team was responsible for  Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, in my opinion the premiere trading card game sim out there for mobile devices.

unsung-heroes2The game is scheduled for release on iOS and Android devices sometime next year, however Matsuno and his development teammates over at Playdek have turned to Kickstarter to drum up funds to not only bring it to more platforms (PCs/Macs, as well as the 3DS and Vita handhelds), but also to help bring in fresh, familiar talent to the project. Stretch goals include adding luminaries such as Alexander O. Smith (responsible for localizing many of Square’s great RPGs), as well as vaunted composer Hitoshi Sakimoto. To reiterate, the Kickstarter isn’t meant to hold the game’s release hostage: “Playdek and Yasumi Matsuno will continue to develop Unsung Story regardless of whether or not funding is met. The main focus on the crowd-sourcing isn’t to create the game but rather to bring the game to the platforms requested by our fans and to help further the immersive world being created by Mr. Matsuno.”

Before getting too excited, remember that Matsuno won’t be exactly as hands-on with the game as he was with prior projects. Speaking out on Twitter, Matsuno echoes, “There was some concept art [for the game] that I’d never seen in the article, but I like that it doesn’t have the typical look of my projects. My involvement in the project is limited to providing the original design plan, the story, and the setting, so I have no idea what the actual game will look like and what the UI will look like.”

The project has a fair chance of meeting its funding goal, with $136,549 already raised as of this writing.

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This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) served as some sort of weird coming-out party for various PC OEMs. It’s both bewildering and frustrating to see companies attempt to salvage whatever they can on their diminishing returns on x86 hardware on ideas that seem—quite frankly—horrible on paper. We started the week with both Intel and AMD holding hands and acting like being able to dual-boot a mobile OS is a fantastic idea; granted, near-instantaneous boot-times would have been a big deal five years ago, but running a half-baked version of Android on my desktop does nothing to me personally in this age of SSDs and ten-second Windows 8.1 cold boots. Now Tuesday rolls along and I see my news feeds stuffed with news about the myriad of soon-to-be-available Steam Machines and an interesting concept computer from Razer codenamed “Christine.”

This is Christine. You probably can't afford her.
This is Christine. You probably can’t afford her.

Both ideas are as different as can be. Steam Machines are designed to be console replacements; prepackaged glorified HTPCs running off-the-shelf hardware and pre-loaded with Valve’s SteamOS—a Linux fork that essentially auto-boots Steam in Big Picture Mode (yes, I am aware that there’s more going on than that). Nothing particularly novel nor revolutionary about that, as prefabbed computers have been around since the dawn of time. Razer’s concept, on the other hand, sounds intriguing on paper: it’s essentially a stylized (well, as much style as you can pack in with Razer’s patented tawdry black matte and green LED combination, at least) rack that houses upgradeable “modules” for CPUs, video cards, RAM and storage that you plug into the main unit straight away—no cables required. From the looks of things, they all run off the same bus type and are cooled independently as well.

Here’s my problem with both concepts: they’re trying to reach a niche that does not exist, and for equally-different reasons.

steam-machines-ces-1-1-600x350

Steam Machines are already being shunned by the Valve stalkers followers out there for being cheap, vestibular extensions of the PC platform they love; forcing developers to “water down” their games to fit into these machines’ fixed hardware for the next five years. They aren’t too far off: PC gamers have suffered for the past six years to a phenomenon known as “consolization:” nobody is making games that even tickle the highest of high-end hardware anymore as they have to make targeted assets that are recyclable to  (or recycled from) the more-profitable console versions of their games. Console gamers, on the other hand, see Steam, PC gaming, and everything associated with it as inherently complicated and something that they’d rather not deal with. The fact that Diablo III sold so much on the PS3 (despite being an unoptimized, year-late port) speaks volumes about this inherent and unfortunate fear.

Conversely, being fully aware that it’s a concept, Razer’s Christine is also a bad idea in the same regard: it’s a product seemingly aimed at both the mass-market and the hardcore PC audience, and it doesn’t take much postulating to figure out why both audiences will completely dodge Christine’s svelte ebony frame. Penny-pinching PC gamers who have a hard time ponying up $60 for each major release will scoff at Christine’s expected high asking price, relegating it to the “cool, but not $2000 cool” echelon as the company’s Edge Pro tablet and Blade laptops. It being a tower computer is already intimidating enough for Joe and Jane Q. Public, but (a) Razer isn’t quite deserving of the Apple premium yet despite their lofty aspirations; and (b), the ship has already sailed for the desktop PC formfactor. People would rather buy a tablet; or failing that a cheap Dell off-brand econobox to read their emails.

At the end of the day, Razer can prevent Christine from being friend-zoned by the collective public by ultimately resigning to the fact that this modular gaming PC for the less tech-inclined is a good idea, but something that they won’t be able to price or market competitively to make it more than a niche product at the end of the day.

Okay guys, this is what I’ll be doing the week of March 25th: Make sure my calendar is clear from any social events (lol who am I kidding, of course it is), have a backup internet connection (just in case) and stock up on tons of Cheetos and caffeine because there will be no sleeping. At all.

Screenshot064
Yes Sir Bad Ass sir

I have played the beta to Diablo 3‘s latest expansion Reaper of Souls on and off for the past few weeks. I just finished the campaign last night (would’ve finished it earlier if my internet connection wasn’t wonky – yes PLDT, I’m looking at you), with a solid eight hours game play on Act V and the all-new Adventure mode. I really had a great time playing and if you’re looking at a recommendation whether to buy it day one, you can stop reading now and have my big fat YES. YES most especially if you’re starting to play Diablo 3 only now because you’re getting to the best version yet.

I am dying to talk to people about the new expansion’s story but I won’t be an asshole and spoil it all for you. Let me say one thing though, it is BAD ASS.

Here’s a rundown on what’s new on Reaper of Souls!

  • Screenshot077The Crusader is definitely the most fun to play with, and this is coming from a person who has played all the available job classes in the core game, so you can trust me on this. The crusader is so damn versatile you can pretty much do everything you want – be the tank, be the main damage dealer, do long-range attacks, dish out AOE damage, whatever you need him to do, he can do. Best of all, the crusader can carry a 2H weapon on one hand so he can still carry a shield with him. I can see some barbarian players going green at this awesome passive skill. The hammer skill (Justice) and splash damage skill (Fist of the Heavens) also mimics the witch doctor’s play style while being tough as nails. While the barb and WDs will not be deemed obsolete, the crusader can pretty much give these guys a run for their money.
  • Screenshot060The Mystic is an all new NPC who has joined you in your journey in Westmarch (where Act V mostly takes place). The mystic has interesting services such as transmogrify and enchant. Transmogrifying items is a novel idea; you can change the look of your equipment so if you have a favorite look, you can keep it even if the item you’re wearing is of a different style. Also, have you ever picked up a legendary item but found out that the stat bonuses it gives are pretty much worthless for your class? You can now re-roll the stats for any item that you have in exchange for crafting items and a bit of gold so hold on to your trash legendaries and give the enchant service a try.
  • Crafting materials are now dropped by monsters. Yep, you don’t have to keep salvaging the blues, yellows and oranges that you get to produce crafting items. Most monsters now drop these things so you can be a pack rat and keep all the legendaries that you nab. There are even legendary crafting materials now. Nifty.
  • Special legendary items now drop from bosses. After fighting some of the bosses in Sanctuary, they curiously dropped legendary items specific for my class to use. Some of these legendary items also had special skills that activate during use. One of the items that I got is called Pox Faulds which stinks up from time to time like Ghom’s poison fart attack. I’ve tried standing near a mob and waited for this ability to kick in and it was mad, juvenile fun. Also, dropping special legendaries is a really good idea too as you can get to farm more items when you keep replaying boss fights, and what’s great is that…
  • 80-90% of the loot that you get is for the class you are playing! Blizzard has introduced Loot 2.0 which makes most of the stuff that you pick up during your runs usable for the current class that you are playing. This makes the hunt more fun as you’re guaranteed to get items that is for the main class you’re trying to gear. I guess this is also because…

    Screenshot057
    Transmogrify – pimping your style
  • They are shutting down the auction house. I have mixed feelings about the auction house to be honest. I don’t hate it because I’m able to easily get items that I need from other players that don’t need them, but at the same time I hate it because Blizzard has probably tweaked the drop rate of items to be really crappy for the auction house to be more useful. In the end, the game’s fun factor has dropped since most of the time you’re not able to get the stuff that you need. Which brings me to another point…
  • The legendary items are now account bound. You can say goodbye to trading legendaries with friends. All legendary items are now account bound even when they are still unidentified. I guess you better get back the oranges you’ve lent to friends or you might not get them back when March 25th rolls in.
  • The side quests for the other characters round up their story nicely. You can get into special quests for Kormac the templar, Eirena the enchantress, Lyndon the scoundrel as well as service NPCs like Haedrig Eamon and Covetous Shen and find out more about them. What happened to Eirena’s sisters? Is Covetous Shen really a god?
  • Screenshot075The difficulty levels have changed. You can start up to the third hardest level (Expert) right off the bat so you do not need to replay it two more times (from normal and nightmare) to get to the hardest difficulty. Nightmare has now been changed to Expert and two more difficulty levels called Master and Torment is added to the game. You can only get to these levels by reaching 60 and 70.
  • And yes, the level cap is raised to 70 as I have mentioned, which means extra passive and active skills for everyone!
  • Paragon levels do not have cap anymore and the experience points are shared within all of your characters. With leveling up your paragon, you can now assign your characters extra stats (instead of it auto-assigning) so it gives you now an option to really build your character. I still don’t know whether I like this or not since I don’t really like thinking of builds (more of gearing characters), but we’ll see.
  • You can now form clans in Reaper of Souls. This is great for gaming communities and groups so you can easily see friends’ progress and stuff. I haven’t really tried this feature yet since I’m the only one who has access to the beta from the group and I’m a snob when playing with people I don’t know (huehue) but maybe I’ll try it out sometime.
  • Screenshot070The adventure mode adds an extra layer to the game. If you’re up for random challenges, you can give the adventure mode a whirl and complete missions in different dungeons. Completing these bite-sized (well, okay some are not so bite-sized) adventures will reward you with special gold that you can use to buy random equipment from the NPCs. Finishing all adventures in an act also rewards you with a Horadric Cache. Getting a bunch will let you build a treasure chest that has sweet items, I assume. I have to get back to you on this once I actually get to build and open one.
  • Cursed chests and fountains can be found in different parts of the map. To open these chests, there will be certain conditions like beating a number of enemies guarding the chest, clear an area and so on.
  • Aside from dropping health globes, monsters also drop a white globe called Nephalem Glory. This gives bonuses much like getting Nephalem Valor and fountains and lasts for about two minutes. You can extend the time of the bonuses by picking up health globes so WDs will have a field day on this for sure.
  • Possibly one of the best tweaks to the game, you can now revive from corpse. YAY!
Screenshot080
Let’s go on a Shenventure

Sadly, some parts of Act V is still incomplete and only have placeholders for texts and NPCs and have a bunch of bugs yet to be zapped. I find myself sometimes fighting bosses that get stuck and skills that do not have an actual description yet. This is of course purely understandable and acceptable – even in beta, the level of polish for the latest act is very impressive. The city of Westmarch is very dark which brings me back to the ultra-gothic feel of Diablo 2 and the new tracks they used are hair-raisingly good. Also, the beta stops just as when you’re about to fight the last (?) boss in the act so it really left me hanging so bad that I wish we can fast-forward to March 25th now. Please.

Again, if you’re just jumping to Diablo 3, this is the perfect time for you to do so. A lot of things in the core game have been tweaked in Reaper of Souls which makes the game more challenging with the new difficulty levels, more exciting with the crusader class, and the new additional features makes a more satisfying game experience for the dungeon crawlers and looters like me.

Asiasoft is the exclusive distribution partner of Blizzard in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls will be available in the Philippines on March 25, 2014 at the following suggested retail prices of P1,800 for the standard edition and P3,500 for the collector’s edition which contains the following:

  • A full complement of Diablo III helms and weapons, primed for transmogrification
  • A Ghost Wolf minion players can summon
  • Three additional character slots to accomodate new heroes
  • A World of Warcraft in-game companion pet: the Treasure Goblin
  • A set of StarCraft II Crusader themed Battle.net portraits and Malthael-themed decals
  • A full-color hardcover art book
  • A behind-the-scenes Blu-ray/DVD two-disc set
  • A limited edition Reaper of Souls mouse pad

See you in Westmarch! The crusade goes on!

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If you haven’t been paying attention, Valve fired off a few salvos against both the traditional PC and home console markets by announcing three disruptive products: SteamOS, Steam Machines, and the Steam Controller. All three will undoubtedly be part of Valve’s ambitious entry to your collective living rooms, hints of which have already been dropped explicitly with last year’s introduction of the “Big Picture Mode,” essentially a more controller and TV-friendly frontend to the Steam interface.

I’m going to be a real jerk here and say what we’ve all been thinking: it took Valve a week to announce essentially nothing. At the risk of being called a “meme-abusing scumbag gamer” once again, to the right is a good summary of that week’s worth of hype.

It took me a few days to collect my thoughts on last week’s cavalcade of delayed announcements; and nope—I’m still not impressed. I’m not even mad about Half Life 3 being one of the announcements; having resigned myself eons ago that it’ll never happen. It’s not like I’m not the target market for Valve’s attempt to bring PC gaming to the big screen, either. Products such as Intel’s NUC and Gigabyte’s Brix systems essentially are my dream computing devices, having built an NUC system myself (and subsequently selling it in a rare fit of poverty), I’ll have to say that a “consolized” PC is something that should be in every nerd’s living room, with the only caveat that you won’t be able to do much gaming on them (at the moment at least, until Intel comes out with the Haswell versions of these devices). Just to give you a taste of how Valve’s ambitions should play out: I had my NUC boot straight to Steam’s Big Picture mode, with some of my lower-spec games and console emulators front and center. The darn thing takes 20 seconds to boot to Steam, and after that I have immediate access to whatever games the crappy HD4000 graphics chipset could handle.

intel nuc1People have to understand: Microsoft has the home computing market by the balls. Stop making Linux happen—it will never happen. I understand that this is a very pessimistic point of view; but even an optimized-for-gaming fork of Linux simply isn’t going to take the market by storm in the immediate future. It’s a great long-term strategy if they can build the brand and convince OEMs to go with it (similar to what Android has become), but the view from the ivory tower is that this whole mess appears to be Valve’s insecure swipe at Windows 8’s built-in marketplace, which for some reason they perceived as a threat to Steam and similar content-delivery services. It’s not. And in the same token, while Microsoft is having a hard time convincing developers to write walled-garden binaries to fit current Windows Store guidelines, Valve is now saying that developers should be burdened with writing Linux/SteamOS compatible binaries of their game? I don’t think that’ll pan out too well.

Speaking of OEMs, I think that the purported open nature of the OS runs contrary with what the effort is trying to achieve: without a fixed set of hardware standards, you’re going to have a heck of a lot of optimization to do to both the OS core and any code written against it just to satisfy the fragmentation the OS is opening itself up to. For some reason I’m thinking the system itself may end up being slightly closed in terms of what hardware it will support, as well as on the software side to prevent cheating, malware, and piracy. Which is great and is exactly what they need for this thing to actually take off but… probably something the *nix community will appreciate or support. Then again, if a tree falls in a forest…

Perhaps the worst part of this ordeal is the amount of confused ball-washing that’s going on: I’ve seen a fair share of incredibly narrow-minded posts on social media about SteamOS, from both sides of the coin. My favorites are the ones where people want to “stick it to the man” and drop Windows for SteamOS. Good luck doing anything productive on a reskinned Linux distro, I guess? Maybe you can write some OpenOffice documents, or something.

The dark horse that I’m perhaps underestimating is that Valve isn’t targeting SteamOS and Steam Machines for traditional PC gamers such as myself—it’s most likely for console gamers that have this incomprehensible set of hang-ups about PC gaming. Just a few weeks ago, we almost came to blows out here at the 30lives offices because some of us could not understand the logic of paying for Diablo 3 twice, when a perfectly-viable and better-optimized PC version is available. Plug your damn laptop to your TV via HDMI. Instant console.  I’ll never get it, but that’s probably why I don’t get Valve’s direction on these things.

Grand Theft Auto V is this week’s game.

That’s it. Thanks for coming!

Here are this week’s vidyas:

 

Hot Wheels Worlds Best Driver (Wii U/3DS Retail)

We Sing: 80s (Wii U Retail)

Cut the Rope (3DS eShop)

Rage of the Gladiators (3DS eShop)

Star Wars Pinball (3DS eShop)

AiRace Speed (3DS eShop)

 

Grand Theft Auto V (PS3 Retail/PSN)

Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver (PS3 Retail/PSN)

Capcom Fighting Evolution (PS2 Classic)

Saints Row 4 – GATV Pack (PS3 DLC)

Saints Row 4 – Wild West Pack Pack (PS3 DLC)

Real Boxing (PS Vita PSN)

 

Grand Theft Auto V (Retail)

Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver (Retail)

Saints Row 4 – GATV Pack (DLC)

Saints Row 4 – Wild West Pack (DLC)

 

Foul Play (PC Steam)

Borderlands 2 – Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2 (PC Steam)

Ironclad Tactics (PC/Mac)

Takedown: Red Sabre (PC/Mac)

Urban Trial Freestyle (PC Steam)

Saints Row 4 – GATV Pack (PC Steam DLC)

Saints Row 4 – Wild West Pack (PC Steam DLC)

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Spotted on Reddit is a thread discussing a curious configuration file found on a “leaked” (read: pirated) version of the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 5 that contains quite a few build references that seem to indicate that PC and PlayStation 4 versions of the game exist, whether planned or simply used for internal testing by the crack devs over at Rockstar.

gta5

 

Though the oft-rumored PC version was accidentally “leaked”—and its existence subsequently vehemently denied—by Nvidia in one of their advertising materials, this is probably the first solid piece of evidence we’ve seen pointing to next-gen console versions of Rockstar’s latest GTA opus. It just makes sense: much like Ubisoft’s Watchdogs, from what we’ve played so far this latest Los Santos excursion appears to be a little too taxing for current-gen hardware, something that Rockstar can easily fix by throwing more hardware at the problem (or future patch optimizations, whatever works for you guys).

Regardless, it does bring up an oft-problematic dilemma with Rockstar games: are we going to get a flippin’ PC version or not? Red Dead Redemption was a heartbreaker; an oft-teased PC version never did come out. Maybe it was for the best, as the PC port of Grand Theft Auto IV was a buggy, unoptimized mess.

Still, we’re hard at work powering through the game at the moment to be too worried. Watch this space for our official review shortly after the embargo drops!

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Ok, I don’t really play browser based games but I finally tried out Card Hunter because of a friend’s constant nagging. I always run for cover when I hear the terms “free-to-play” and “browser-based” but Card Hunter surprised me and oh my God I’m still playing!

The game just launched this week and it’s been getting lots of attention. It’s a combination of the board game HeroQuest and the classic card game Dominion. Created by Irrational Games co-founder Jon Chey, it is the first game from his new studio called Blue Manchu.

Card Hunter looks really simple but playing through the introduction you will realize it is a deep strategic game that seamlessly combines fantasy table-top pen and paper RPGs with board game and collectible card game mechanics into a very well presented video game. Anyone who is even slightly fond of the genres should definitely try it out.

Card Hunter is funded by micro-transactions but playing for a couple of hours now I don’t see any indication that not buying anything will take any of the gameplay experience away… so far.

Head on over to the source link below to try it out!

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Though people are more familiar with Capcom’s Mickey Mouse platforming jaunts (the Magical Quest series which eventually made it to the GBA), Sega’s early takes on the franchise were nonetheless as excellent, if not underappreciated. Sega themselves seem to think so, as they made the puzzling decision to remake 1990’s Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse as a fully fleshed-out 2.5D platformer that takes the feel of the original game and modernizes it successfully, taking more liberties from the original than other recent efforts (such as Wayforward’s take on Ducktales).

It’s-a-Me, Mickey!

Castle of Illusion HD (2)Mickey Mouse is, by default, the most recognizable face in all of videogaming. Eclipsing even Mario’s popularity, there have been licensed (and unlicensed!) Mickey Mouse games for systems since the Atari 2600. Unfortunately, as Disney’s properties became more diluted as time went on, so did Mickey’s own videogame appearances. This is why games like Castle of Illusion are important: it reminds license holders that quality games serve to bolster their representative brands, and that quality need not be an expensive venture (as this game unquestionably shames Mickey’s last adventure, Epic Mickey 2).

Remakes are a dicey affair, however: there’s a fine balance between simply upscaling assets to please the fanbase, and adding enough of your own twist to justify them spending another $15-60 on what is essentially rehashed content. Castle of Illusion should be the poster child of HD remakes in the sense that it presents a completely new experience that has enough call backs to the original source, yet stands alone as a completely new adventure befitting its modern platform homes.

Most of the game is presented in a 2.5D perspective, with lush backgrounds that are rife with animation, almost to the point of being distracting. If this was a sprite game, I’d laud it for having well-animated parallax backgrounds, but I can’t quite articulate what this translates to when the entire game is built with polygons. There are also sections where Mickey walks in to the background and competes in another plane, a shout-out to Sega’s own Bug!, perhaps.

Castle of Illusion HD (1)

This planar addition improves on other sequences from the original game: take for instance, the Indiana Jones-type chase scene where Mickey runs from an apple barreling down his direction from the original. The remake interprets it as a Crash Bandicoot-style chase towards the players direction. It’s little touches like this that make me appreciate the work put into this remake. Another example: one thing that peeved me off in the original game was the game’s wonky jumping physics (which you simply cannot screw up if you want your platforming game to be successful); which I’m happy to report that Sega’s Australian team successfully alleviated. Even the original’s almost-iconic boss fights have been kept mostly the same, but contain little 3D cues and patterns that freshen up the experience a bit.

Castle of Illusion HD (3)It’s not immediately evident, but you go through the same exact worlds as the original game, with very similar thematic experiences throughout. Even though you have a little castle hub as a level selector, this area simply masks the fact that you are taking a very familiar route to the original game. It’s genius, really: even the most jaded Sega veterans won’t immediately recognize that most of the original’s structure was reused, even with the inspiration being very clear. I really like the added touch of an in-game narrator, making this feel less like a game and more like an old Mickey Mouse hardcover storybook.

For Pistol Packin’ Pete’s Sake

Being a budget game, there are some presentation problems that I found particularly annoying. As I am a stickler for framerates, I found the game’s low FPS count (which dipped to the sub-15s in some areas of the game) to be jarring and unacceptable, given that I’m of the impression that even with the complex backgrounds the developers brought to the table, there isn’t much going on to make the engine crawl. This is exactly why I couldn’t get into the Spanish-developed Castlevania games no matter how hard I tried; though granted, I was playing the PS3 version (shame on me). No word yet on how it plays on the PC, but I’m hoping its a little more optimized.

Castle of Illusion HD (4)

Another issue I had which may or may not correlate to the fact that it’s a downloadable game (I’m blaming modern game design ethos myself) is that at around four hours, the game is too short and offers little incentive to play through it again. The game is simply far too easy for platforming savants to even consider a challenge, and while the levels themselves take a bit of time to complete (and collect the collectibles within), the boss fights don’t offer enough of a deterrent to progress, as they all have easily-defeatable patterns.

With those two minor issues set aside, I really enjoyed my time with this new Castle of Illusion. I was pleasantly surprised that Sega’s new Australian studio put so much care and effort into what could merely have been a quick cash-in game to appeal to both nostalgic gamers and Mickey’s built-in fanbase. While it fails to touch the cream of the downloadable platformer crop, Sega’s marvelous redux is well worth your time and investment, a rare example of a game that you can play with the entire family. A Sunday morning kind of game, if you will.

I know we’re all a little late on this piece of news, but here’s a quick heads up if you are at all interested in Japanese RPGs. Following the imminent release of Falcom’s awesome Ys: Memories of Celceta for the PlayStation Vita (which, by the way, comes with one of the most enticing LE packages I’ve ever seen), XSEED announced yesterday that they will be localizing the second chapter in the Trails in the Sky trilogy (which then follows a more interesting pedigree in the Dragon Slayer series), with help from Carpe Fulgur, who most notably helped bring over Steam indie darling Recettear.

This is definitely good news as I feel that the Legend of Heroes games are the last of a dying breed: Japanese RPGs that aren’t either fronts for pedophilia or complete graphical wankfests. As with all Falcom-produced games, it also features a killer soundtrack. XSEED also announced today that they’ll be localizing the PC port of the first TitS game and distributing it via Steam.

Right after the jump is XSEED’s press release, which includes a pretty good plot synopsis to get you all caught up!

Torrance, Calif., (September 6, 2013) – XSEED Games, the independent-minded console publishing brand of Marvelous USA, Inc., is pleased to announce a partnership with Carpe Fulgur LLC to bring the much anticipated title, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, digitally to PC and the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system (including compatibility with the PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system) in 2014. The first chapter, previously released for the PSP system as The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, will also be released for PC this winter.

The result of a near endless deluge of fan requests to XSEED Games after the company released the first chapter on the PSP system in 2011, this will mark the debut of the English version of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky on PC, as well as the first release of the English version of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC anywhere. The two chapters will release as two separate, back-to-back installments.

“We are pleased to finally give the fans what they have been requesting so fervently for over two years,” said Ken Berry, Executive Vice President of XSEED Games. “There’s been a constant demand ever since we released the original The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, and we are extremely grateful for our partnership with the passionate localizers at Carpe Fulgur to finally make it a reality.”

“This is something we’ve had an interest in doing since practically the formation of the company,” added Andrew Dice, Project Director for Carpe Fulgur. “If you talk about or work with ‘PC gaming from Japan’, as we do, you can’t really ignore Falcom’s huge presence over the past three decades. Trails in the Sky is particularly special, and I’d wanted to work on it ever since the day we started business. I’m thrilled that we will finally be able to bring the game to English-speaking audiences, in partnership with XSEED.”

Developed by legendary RPG specialists Nihon Falcom, the multi-part story told in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky represents an entirely new stand-alone entry in the timeless The Legend of Heroes series. In The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, players venture through the diverse landscape of the Liberl Kingdom, experiencing its unique traditions and cultures along the way and shaping the world itself with their decisions.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky opens in the quaint and peaceful town of Rolent in the Liberl Kingdom. Home to a peacekeeping coalition free of government ties known as the Bracer Guild, the adventure follows two young aspiring bracers known as Estelle and Joshua on their trials to become full-fledged members of this elite organization. As they embark on their quest, their journey will take them across an entire country, unraveling a sinister government conspiracy along the way that’s poised to overtake the throne, threatening the very peace the bracers seek to uphold. Throughout their adventure, players can expect to learn the full depth of these characters’ origins and motivations through dialogue-driven cutscenes and lengthy side-quests.

Trails in the Sky SC, meanwhile, begins immediately after the events in the first game. Following the explosive revelations at the very end of Trails in the Sky, Estelle feels adrift and must find her resolve along with friends both old and new, and face down the true architects of the chaos engulfing Liberl – a force far more powerful and insidious than she could ever have imagined.

Boasting over a hundred hours of gameplay between the two episodes and featuring an engaging narrative that encompasses everything from politics, economics and conspiracies to tourism, traditions and even a cat-speech dictionary, these two titles in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky series combine to form an incredibly immersive RPG experience. On top of its meticulously crafted world where all actions and inhabitants are accounted for throughout the story, the game also features a meticulously customizable combat system, a massive cast of characters from all walks of life, a variety of landscapes, an in-game newspaper that publishes new issues as the story progresses, and much more. In The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, players are responsible for shaping the world, and will see direct repercussions from their actions as the game unfolds.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky and The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC are developed by Nihon Falcom, and Carpe Fulgur is spearheading the English translation of the second chapter while XSEED Games handles publishing duties. For more information on XSEED Games products, visit http://www.xseedgames.com. Fans can also follow XSEED Games on Facebook at www.facebook.com/XSEEDGames and Twitter at www.twitter.com/XSEEDGames.

Rayman Legends is finally out this week, though you might want to steer out of the way of the PS Vita version of the game as we heard it’s missing some content (until they patch it). Diablo 3 makes its way to consoles as promised, and you can get jiggle with it with Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate *mmphh*, and a new adventure awaits you with the Strawhats in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2.

Here are this week’s vidyas:

 

Rayman Legends (Wii U Retail)

eShop Releases (TBA)

 

Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate (PS3 Retail/PSN)

Diablo 3 (PS3 Retail/PSN)

Rayman Legends (PS3/Vita Retail/PSN)

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PS3 PSN)

Castle of Illusions (PS3 PSN)

Chaos Code (PS3 PSN)

Hunter’s Trophy 2: America (PS3 PSN)

Kickbeat (PS3/Vita PSN)

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 (PS3 PSN)

Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity (PS2 Classic)

Borderlands 2 – Costume Packs (PS3 DLC)

Borderlands 2 – Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2 (PS3 DLC)

Grid 2 – Destruction Derby (PS3 DLC)

Metro: Last Light – Tower Pack (PS3 DLC)

Saints Row 4 – Dubstep Gun (Remix) Pack (PS3 DLC)

 

Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate (Retail)

Diablo 3 (Retail)

Rayman Legends (Retail)

Castle of Illusion (XBLA)

Freefall Racers (XBLA)

Borderlands 2 – Costume Packs (DLC)

Borderlands 2 – Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2 (DLC)

Grid 2 – Destruction Derby (DLC)

Metro: Last Light – Tower Pack (DLC)

Saints Row 4 – Dubstep Gun (Remix) Pack (DLC)

Minecraft – Mass Effect Mash-up (DLC)

 

Borderlands 2 – Costume Packs (PC Steam)

Borderlands 2 – Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack 2 (PC Steam)

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PC Steam)

Castle of Illusion Castle of Illusion (PC Steam)

Grid 2 – Destruction Derby (PC Steam)

Huntsman: The Orphanage (PC/Mac)

Metro: Last Light – Tower Pack (PC Steam)

Outlast (PC Steam)

Rayman Legends (PC)

Saints Row 4 – Dubstep Gun (Remix) Pack (PC Steam)

Total War: Rome 2 (PC Steam)

Total War: Rome 2 – Greek States Culture Pack (PC Steam)