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Thursday - April 18, 2013
Van Helsing - Preview From GamesRadar
GamesRadar has a preview of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing has all the standard action RPG tropes, so anyone familiar with Diablo or Torchlight should feel right at home with the gameplay. You'll travel through the three chapter story campaign, visiting town hubs, getting quests from the locals, and wandering out into the wilderness to kill creatures and gather more powerful loot. As you kill enemies, you'll level up, giving you access to abilities in the melee Warrior, ranged Occult Hunter, and Tricks and Auras skill trees. Each skill earned also has additional buffs which can be activated in combat enabling Van Helsing to chain a lightning bolt magic attack or make a more devastating sweeping broadsword swing.
The story kicks off in the country of Borgovia, as Van Helsing arrives at his destination with his ghost companion Katalina. Katalina is more than just an NPC that you'll have casual conversations with, she also plays a significant role in combat, acting as a pet character of sorts. She can take on different celestial forms that make her useful in either melee combat, ranged attacks, or support buffs and her skills and gear are customizable as you level up. Depending on how you wish to deck out Van Helsing with skills, you can use Katalina to compliment your build. For example, if you wanted to play a close-ranged melee fighter, you could outfit Katalina with ranged or support skills to lay waste to enemies from a distance.
We played through a small portion of the first chapter, which had us disposing of wolf packs and bandits, but it wasn't long before we were battling giant werewolves by the droves. The environments are detailed and dire, and the brutality of the vicious mythological creatures as you pass by slaughtered caravans and stranded villagers. The first town started us off in the forest area, which eventually lead us to a werewolf den and a more supernatural environment. After challenging an armored werewolf boss, he transported us to a dreamworld called the Ink, which tasked us with destroying minion spawning beacons before the boss could reveal himself.
With that, our demo was ended, but The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing looks like a promising experience for those looking for a new action RPG. Be sure to check back for more information on the game as we get closer to its release later this year.
Wednesday - April 17, 2013
Storytelling In Games - Q&A with Dishonored Co-creator
GamesRadar has another interview with Harvey Smith. He is the veteran game designer and co-creative-director on Dishonored.
GamesRadar: What do you think is the paragon of storytelling in gaming?
Harvey Smith: To this day, the first System Shock by Looking Glass Technologies feels unbelievably cohesive, engaging to the player, and ahead of its time. Truly an under-appreciated master work. I got to support those guys as a tester, so I played the game for 10 months straight (working on the floppy then CD versions). It just never got old. There was the sense of place, so strong I used to dream about Citadel Station, before the disaster. Also, the emergent narrative and creeping player-driven pace made the experience so rich compared to most video games, which are more static, controlled and scripted. It's a highly subjective answer, but System Shock represents a great blend to me.GR: Having written a book, what do you now appreciate more about telling a story in games?
HM: In games, I'm much more interested in interconnected game systems that enable the player to act creatively on the game environment, and the exploration of the environment at the player's own pace. That's one of the reasons that writing a novel was so interesting; it's very different; fundamentally different. Some of the basics of what make writing work are hobbled in video games. In games, agency is the dominant goal, all description is visual, the best "plot" is derived from a series of player-driven actions and the game's response, but setting still works well.
The thing that suffers the most is character, because in games players are very active--always engaged in something, or devising some plan and undertaking it, rather than simply observing--and we have not yet managed to make much meaningful interactivity in terms of doing things with characters yet. Working with co-creative director Raphael Colantonio on Dishonored, we spent a lot of time talking about what works and what does; Dishonored also included an embedded narrative, but our key goals were related to systems, atmospherics, emergent narrative and the richness of the setting.GR: Are developers straying from what defines a good story?
HM: Hopefully, since that generally produces a more interactive game.
Player Choice Is Everything. - Q&A with Brian Fargo
GamesRadar has an interview with Brian Fargo.
We recently caught up with Brian to talk about Wasteland and Torment – both of which have been crowd-funded using Kickstarter. In fact, Torment reached its $1 million Kickstarter goal faster than any game in history, proving that there's strong demand for the kind of RPGs Fargo is making. So why didn't inXile go through the traditional developer / publisher approach for the games? Why reach out to Kickstarter?
Delivering on promises is important to Fargo. With crowd-funding schemes like Kickstarter, players fund projects based on what they expect them to deliver. Deviate from that, and you risk angering the people who are bankrolling you. But what happens when you get into a Mass Effect 3 situation, where players expectations aren't met because the team wants to deliver choice - a vital component of RPGs. "Part of the problem there, as I understand it, is that they promoted the fact that your decisions could effect the ending," he says.
Monday - December 31, 2012
GamesRadar - How intelligent old school gaming become modern again in 2012
GamesRadar has written an editorial titled 2012: The year intelligent old-school gaming
struck back. Here's a quote about Dishonored:
Dishonored is a dense, open-ended first-person ‘simulation' with roots in the Thief and Deus Ex series. It allows the player to engineer and achieve their own objectives by way of combat, stealth, or quiet manipulation. It's happy to leave (and trust) the player to their own devices in such a multi-layered world. All of this is the antithesis of the funnelled hand-holding so prevalent in first-person console action games these days. Frankly, Dishonored's wildly branching freedom makes Deus Ex: Human Revolution feel like Splinter Cell.
Do you agree with GamesRadar?
Monday - November 30, 2009
GamesRadar - 2009's Best Under-The-Radar Games
Games Radar has listed 16 amazing PC games that people might have missed or ignored. Torchlight, Trine and Demon's Souls get mentioned in the article.
Action/role-playing fans may be anxiously awaiting the release of Diablo III, but the wait got much easier to bear with Torchlight. Developed by the same team behind the ill-fated Mythos, formerly of Flagship Studios, Torchlight combines the obsessive, loot-gathering gameplay that makes its genre so addictive with a gorgeous art style and character designs. Given the promise and ultimate disappointment that was Hellgate: London, it's understandable that many were skeptical of Torchlight. But the finished product is something that no action-RPG fan should miss, and is one of the most addictive experiences in recent memory.
Yet another indie game we never saw coming, Trine is an action-platformer that makes up for a lack of variety with some great combat and puzzles. Featuring three playable characters that you can switch between at any time, the game enables you to choose how best to progress. Use the wizard's magic to create platforms to jump on, use the knight to bash through enemies or simply use the thief's grappling hook to swing across chasms. It's completely up to you.
In an age when games seem to be getting easier and more accommodating, Demon's Souls stands apart. It's brutally difficult and doles out many, many more punishments than it does rewards. It at times feels archaic, harking back to frustrating 8- and 16-bit classics, but adds enough new stuff that critics have been giving it near-universal praise. Who would've thought that the best-rated RPG of the year would be the one that makes you want to break your controller in half?
Wednesday - March 04, 2009
GamesRadar - 30 Rules Every RPG Must Follow
These guys love lists but this tongue-in-cheek one isn't bad, even though it's been done before. Obviously based on jRPGs, Games Radar's 30 Rules Every RPG Must Follow still works reasonably well for quite a few CRPGs:
1. You've overslept...And today’s the day of the town's special holiday fair. Luckily, your grandfather woke you up before you missed it. Still, it's sad that your parents weren't around to help him raise you, but they were killed under non-specific circumstances in the Great War that ended once and for all a few years ago.
Despite the rustic, medieval setting, your grandfather is seen as a source of wisdom and experience. Nobody’s noticed his lack of usefulness and apparent unemployment in a village where every other house has a specific purpose. The two of you have lived a quiet life in your one room cabin that is simply “your house.”
Gramps will tell you to go check out the village. You know, see what’s new with the 15 villagers you’ve spent every moment of the first 16 years of your life with.
Monday - January 26, 2009
GamesRadar - The Top 9 PC Games of 09
GamesRadar has yet another list article, this time the Top 9 games of '09. Diablo III, Dragon Age, and Deus Ex 3 all make the cut and Blizzard's Rob Pardo stops by for a mini-interview:
How do you determine your role in all the projects that you’re involved in?
It depends on what the project needs. Right now, I’m probably spending more time on StarCraft II than I am on, say, World of Warcraft - we’ve really built up that team in terms of processes and procedures, and I just meet with [the developers] a couple times a week now and help them with hard design problems and concepts, but they’re pretty much good to go. And on StarCraft II I’m really involved on the design of the Battle.net feature set and a lot of the single player story stuff. On Diablo III I’m the executive producer - Jay [Lead Designer Jay Wilson] always wants me in more design meetings, but he’s got a handle on it, so I’ll probably get more involved with Diablo III once it gets a little closer to release.
Saturday - June 21, 2008
GamesRadar - Free MMOs Article
Joe Keiser writes up a top-ten of free MMOs.
In just a few years, the world of free MMOs has grown from a 2D ghetto of suspicious foreign ZIP files into a full-fledged gaming subgenre of international scale. Yet it’s still a wild, ungoverned field, with far-flung nations like Korea and Malaysia flooding the web with more and more no-fee games every day - many of which are archaic, incomprehensible, or just plain bad.
But there are plenty of gems out there if you know where to look. We spent dozens of hours whittling a list of nearly 60 of the highest-profile free MMOs down to a mere nine. The games we chose represent the field’s high points in terms of audiovisual quality, new-player friendliness, addictiveness, and overall quality and variety of content. None will cost you even a penny - the makers will just give them to you, in the hope that you’ll pay for custom in-game items and premium membership benefits - but they’re all worth your time. (With additional reporting by Kristen Salvatore).
Saturday - May 31, 2008
GamesRadar - Getting into Characters--10 Best & Worst
GamesRadar has a short article up spotlighting PC Zone UK's take on the 10 best conceived game characters, and the 10 worst. There are some familiar RPG and semi-RPG names on the list, including Morte from Planescape:Torment(#6 Best), HK-47 from SW:Knights of the Old Repulic series(#4 Best),and #1 Best, Shodan from System Shock:
System Shock has a strongly defined storyline. SHODAN provides you with a tormentor, an ally, a betrayer. Her story is handled in such a remarkable way; her interaction with you is completely natural within the immaculate storyline - it’s easy to imagine the System Shock games as a movie, but it’s the very best example of a filmic storyline playing better as a game.
SHODAN is the benevolent chip who had her ethical considerations hacked away, turning her into a passionate megalomaniac, and a casual liar. She’s not mad - she’s consistent and reasonable. She’s just reasonable on her own twisted terms, which, with an inch of empathy, aren’t even that twisted. We’ve seen SHODAN at her most powerful and her most vulnerable, and although we never once suspected she’d reform and become a dutiful little AI on a mining vessel again, she never failed to be anything other than an enthralling and intelligent enemy and ally. She gets the top spot because she’s every definition of awesome.
Worst entries include a lot of non-RPG characters, with a few exceptions. Xana from Dark Messiah of Might & Magic comes in at #7 Worst, and #2 Worst is Martin Septim from TES IV: Oblivion.
Sunday - April 20, 2008
GamesRadar - Best Game Stories Ever
It's been at least a couple of days since the last "Best xxx" list, so it's time for a new one! GamesRadar has 15 they claim are The Best Video Games Ever, including Planescape: Torment, Fallout 2, KotOR and Final Fantasy VI.
Like most lists, you're guaranteed to disagree.
Source: Scorpias Lair
Tuesday - February 12, 2008
GamesRadar - You're not a Real Fan
GamesRadar has one of their tongue-in-cheek articles up about some seriously hardcore gamers called You're not a Real Fan and it may be worth a look just for some of the examples from beyond the fringe of gaming like this:
Think you’ve got a nice game library do you? We don’t care if you can bust out a copy of Little League Baseball or Duck Hunt for the NES. Your videogame library sucks and is in sore need of just about everything when compared to real collections. Click here for an interview with the anonymous owner of what might possibly be the largest personal videogame library ever. It’s so huge in fact, that he can’t even say how many systems or games he currently has stockpiled away. What he can say is that it took him over 16 years to amass his ginormous archive of vintage gaming titles, consoles and accessories.
Friday - January 25, 2008
GamesRadar - Experimental Narrative Structures in Games
Taking a break from their usual slapstick article approach, Tyler Wilde at GamesRadar examines the effect of PoV in game narrative. While his examples are not drawn from the RPG genre, his points are interesting and general enough to apply to any genre:
What is a first-person game? Third-person? Most can easily identify these terms as referring to a game’s “camera” and how it relates to the virtual physical space of the game world. Also utilized are omnipresent viewpoints (strategy games), and the somewhat outdated second-person (text adventures).
In literary terms, however, the concept of “perspective” is much more ambiguous. While stories are still generally narrated from the first or third-person points of view, there are no “cameras.” Rather there are imagined virtual spaces, internal thoughts, and dialogue. The point of view is limited only to the constraints of language.
We’ve devised a few ways games may be able to borrow some of this freedom to create more engrossing experiences. The current standard for in-game storytelling is, at best, equivalent to that of B movies (sans a few shining exceptions, which haven’t had to overcome much competition). Some, like Will Wright, have questioned the need to utilize linear storytelling in games, but we are not tackling that argument at the moment. With the assumption that our goal is to devise more engrossing story-driven games, we present the following hypothetical narrative structures.
His first alternative is self-narration:
Our first hypothetical game verbally narrates itself in the first-person. When the player opens a door, for example, a film noir inspired voice (think Max Payne) might narrate, “I was fearful that the slightest creak would wake my landlord.”
Ignoring the very real possibility that this could be the most irritating game ever created, it creates the potential for some interesting effects...
Followed by ambiguity:
Imagine that the in-game character you’ve embodied is speaking to another character, which you have come to know well within the game. An imperceptible transition occurs, and seconds later you are speaking to the character you thought you were playing as. This disorienting “switching” could be maintained for the entirety of the game, if the story was capable of holding it together.
And finally, he proposes that abstraction as used in certain schools of art(Cubism) or through manipulation of time in the game, could add to the narrative:
What we are attempting to describe is an abstract point-of-view of an otherwise natural representation of reality. The Cubists were fascinated with this concept, and attempted to paint objects as if they were being viewed simultaneously from multiple angles. The word “simultaneously” is the key here, as time and the perception of time have much to do with this type of abstraction.
The slowing down or reversing of time in games like Stranglehold, for example, is a form of abstraction. “Split-screen” editing is also an abstraction, as seeing an event from multiple angles at the same time, or two non-adjacent events at the same time, is not possible in reality without the use of multiple cameras.
From his conclusion:
Perhaps all of our hypothetical games would be awful, but they were meant as extreme examples to illustrate points. The hypothetical quality of our hypothetical games isn’t as important as the general idea we want to communicate, which is that perspective can be adjusted and shaped in a myriad of ways, and is far more complex than just the location of a virtual camera. Without invalidating our argument completely, we must make one addendum: regardless of individual storytelling techniques used, the narrative art must be handled with finesse and care to be effective.
Friday - November 30, 2007
GamesRadar - When Video Games Go Emo
For those in the mood for a little British humor, GamesRadar UK takes a not-to-be-taken-seriously, sarcastic look at the change in focus in modern video games from amusing toys to :
...A form of interactive electronic entertainment, more often than not steeped in all the misery and darkness of the deepest depths of Hell. No-one ever smiles and lots of things get shot.
It wasn’t always this way. Those of us who became gamers during the 8 and 16-bit eras can remember when games were supposed to be fun. We quite liked that. It might make us sound like big mincing girls, we know, but seriously guys, why the misery nowadays? Why does almost every modern game hero (Sorry, anti-hero) seem to be shooting up the bad guys of his respective post-apocalyptic cess pit/drug-riddled urban hellhole just to fill in the time between arm-cutting sessions and My Chemical Romance concerts?
They take a look at a few games of various flavors not particularly focusing on the rpg, but they do have a few words for Final Fantasy VII:
Final Fantasy VII arguably set the archetype. Skinny androgynous males who look like they might break in a strong wind (presumably a physical externalisation of a broken emotional state as beautiful and fragile as angel wings made of frozen unicorn tears), and who quietly hold onto their dark, personal emotional traumas just long enough for things to build...when a cup of tea and a chat would have probably sorted things out years ago.