Thursday, 28 February 2013

New Deus Ex Installment On The Horizon?


In a surprising out of the blue moment, Square Enix has has gone ahead and trademarked the name "Deus Ex: Human Defiance" for an as of yet unconfirmed project. It is as of yet unknown if this is to do with the upcoming film based upon the successful franchise or is to be a sequel to Human Revolution.


The actual trademark itself can be found on TMView where it has been filed and a large number of details in relation to the trademark itself. Unfortunately besides this snippet of information we have little to go on so it's now going to be a case of waiting and seeing what comes next. Perhaps we will get lucky and someone has decided to make a miniseries about the already expansive cyberpunk universe.

However, it does seem likely that this would be a title for the film due to the recent information released drawing so much attention. With Sinister director Scott Derrickson and writer C. Robert Cargill having recently announced that they are taking inspiration from a number of successful sources such as Looper and Inception. For those interested in information on the film, more can be found in an interview on Crave Online.

Whatever the case it at least shows that there is more stuff in the pipeline for fans of the franchise.

SOE Announces Planetside 2 European Servers Have Been Compromised

Read the review in full on http://techzwn.com/ 




Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The War Z Returns to Steam, False Advertising Continues




In another questionable move by a major figurehead within the video game industry, Valve has permitted the return of The War Z to Steam. Having been taken down for outright lying to customers, being obviously unfinished, the developers outright attempting to blackmail those requesting refunds into silence and even a terms of service directly copied and pasted from League of Legends, the game was regarded as a total failure. Its return to Steam after such controversy is a surprising move but it does bring with it a number of changes. Unfortunately many critical problems remain on the page alone.

Positive changes are that many outright lies or stolen elements on the Steam store page have now been corrected.  The most notable of these immediately is the change of banner to something which actually uses images which are not stolen, somewhat edited, artwork from the Walking Dead.
Beyond that much of the description listing the key features of the game and what can be found within it have now been changed, with fewer lies noticeable within the text. Here is a quick comparison between the old and new descriptions to the game (please click to enlarge):

Original Steam Page Description –

Current Steam Page Description –

You may notice a large number of omissions to what was previously present in the description. With no mention of “100 to 400 square kilometre” worlds or “hundreds of serves to play on […] You can rent or create public or private servers allocating spots for friends or clans”, neither of which were even remotely accurate statements.

There has also been the inclusion of “non-linear” into the description. Presumably to make it clear there is no story nor questing available in the game itself. Some strange additions also include listing “Group with other players to increase your chances of survival” despite it not being a feature or mechanic within the game and very vague statements such as the claim it has a “huge variation” of guns and melee weapons. With no exact number or estimated limit listed.

Most concerning however is that there is no warning of the game’s currently buggy and obviously unfinished state. With no real comment upon its problems or on-going issues with AI, graphics or the many complaints made of the title when it was first brought onto Steam. Furthermore, the same screenshots remain, which are both graphically superior to what was in the game itself and are not in-game screenshots from the game at all. They were proven false after disgruntled customers closely inspected and analysed their content.

With this lack of honesty and remaining false advertisement in the description, it remains concerning that such a title could be allowed onto Steam not once but twice. The second time supposedly after Valve had time to worth with Hammerpoint Interactive to improve upon the game.

Soul Drinkers: Sarpedon Was The Key



Ah the Soul Drinkers, how you’ve come to be loved and hated by all.

If you’ve never heard of it it’s a saga focusing upon how a space marine Chapter can fall from the Imperium but not to Chaos. Focusing upon its struggles once most of its infrastructure is gone and how easily manipulated such a force might be. Both by Chaos and the Imperium itself, showing humanity’s leaders to be their own worst enemy at many times.

Go onto any 40K internet forum and ask about the Soul Drinkers saga and you'll probably know that opinions on it are severely divided. Some people consider it to be defiling the most basic canon of Warhammer 40K while others think it's a decent series which tried to do something new. Some people think the books are best when they're straight up bolter-porn, others that the ides present within the series are what give it its most strength.

While I’ll agree it’s an extremely flawed series, the most common criticism brought up surrounds their departure from the Imperium. Something which, at least in some aspects, actually has a justifiable excuse which can be found within the pages of the novel. At least when you put some thought into it.

Departure and Sarpedon
For those not in the know here’s a quick run-down of the key events of the first novel: The Administratum manipulates two of the Soul Drinkers’ companies into raiding a rogue Star Fort by leaking information that the chosen weapon of Rogal Dorn, thought long lost, has been located there amongst a collection of artefacts.

Once the Soul Drinkers clear the Fortress of all foes, the Mechanicum contingent accompanying the Administratum fleet teleports in and steals the weapon (the soul spear) from the space marines at gunpoint. The Soul Drinkers demand its return in exchange for the Fort, but the Mechanicum use a loophole in their treaty with the Imperium to keep hold of it. They then try to finish their mission by laying siege to the Fort in an effort to force the Soul Drinkers to leave empty handed. This fails, with the Soul Drinkers successfully disabling the attacking forces with minimal casualties and escape.

During this time Librarian Sarpedon, now acting-captain after the death of the detachment’s Force Commander, is constantly listening to a priest who claims to represent an aspect of the Emperor. One known as the “Architect of Fate”.

Eventually after months of running battles the Inquisition is sent in to deal with the matter. Seeing only a space marine chapter attacking another Imperial institution, not caring or knowing the reasons why, they demand the Soul Drinkers surrender themselves. When the Soul Drinkers refuse, knowing that the Inquisition will likely attempt to torture them into confession and ignore any argument for their side of the matter, the Inquisitor in control immediately declares them excommunicate traitoris.
Before the battle can escalate further, the entire Soul Drinkers fleet arrives and assists Sarpedon’s forces in escaping; but they find little welcome in the Chapter.

Chapter Master Gorgoleon challenges Sarpedon to an honour duel. Knowing that the Inquisition might be sated and eventually allow them to rejoin the Imperium if the heads of those who turned on them are offered up. Sarpedon notes, in private to those loyal to him, that changes have been undergoing his body and he feels stronger and far less fatigued than he should have been after their months of flight. These changes would eventually become evident when, while using his full psychic power to face Gorgoleon, his body split open to reveal masses of mutations in the form of arachnid legs.
Those who saw the mutation manifesting inexplicably believe it was a gift from the Emperor while those who did not saw Sarpedon as corrupt. As more mutations broke out amongst their ranks, a minor Chapter war ensued as those who tried to oppose Sarpedon were purged.

In the book’s closing chapters it would be revealed that Abraxes, a daemon prince of Tzeentch, had manipulated the entire chapter into turning on the Imperium. Likely, in part through the actions of the Imperium itself but prominently through blinding the Soul Drinkers to their obvious corruption. When it lifted this haze to try and completely corrupt them, Sarpedon and his allies turned upon the daemon and drove it back into the Warp.

Sarpedon’s Power
One thing the book makes repeatedly clear is that Sarpedon is a telepath, one who can broadcast thoughts and illusions but not receive thoughts by dragging them out of the minds of others. His power repeatedly manifests as something called “The Hell” which has him alter the perspective of those he targets into terrifying images. Turning their entire environment, everything they hear, smell or see, into the thing they most fear and despise in order to demoralise them. It, in effect, completely changes their perception on what they see and alters their senses to the degree that they hallucinate or see something in an entirely different light.

While the power was usually used based upon Sarpedon’s will, a few times had it manifest without him directly thinking or focusing consciously upon what they might fear.

Why he was key to their downfall
I think that Sarpedon was key to their downfall because of his power and he was key in completely corrupting the chapter.
Think about the events listed above and consider the facts we know:

He was constantly in the presence of a priest speaking of the Architect of Fate. Who was actually being nudged by Abraxes to have certain dreams and thoughts so they could carry outs its will.

He was thoroughly disillusioned with the Imperium after it had effectively stabbed him in the back at its highest levels and had begun to doubt its benevolence.

He was the first to mutate and thus the most physically corrupt of the Soul Drinkers, Thus we can conclude that Abraxes’ influence was most heavy upon him.

And finally, almost the entire chapter was watching him in the duel with Gordoleon and saw him using his full psychic potential. Those who were watching did not see any corruption or doubt his direction for the Chapter after this. Those who did not saw only a mutated heretic still and tried to oppose him. Furthermore, also consider that those who were with him on the Star Fort were in close proximity to him when he was consciously using his power very early on into the book on multiple occasions.

And finally when Abraxes reveals he pulled the wool over their eyes it is speaking directly to Sapredon. It is from Sapredon’s perspective we see him reacting in horror when it retracts its influence. Questioning how he could be so blind to so many obvious suggestions or outright displays of heresy.

From these I think that Abraxes was using Sarpedon as a focus point for its corruption of the Chapter through his power. First using one of its several cults to coerce Sarpedon into thinking along the lines it needed and open him up to its influence, then corrupting the Librarian’s body. Then in turn using his powers to alter the perceptions of others to make them blind to obvious signs of corruption such as the mutations. We know that Tzeentch is the god of sorcery and its greatest servants display great mental powers. It’s hardly implausible to consider that Abraxes might have controlled his powers to some degree by working through the corruption of his body. As noted above, sometimes his abilities seemed to instinctively know which images or fears to act upon without him directly willing them. Suggesting that there was another influencing him in some way.

It was after all only Sarpedon who Abraxes spoke to directly in their final encounter. Also as noted above, and in reading their talk we see that the daemon had been paying great attention to the Soul Drinkers’ leader in particular. Given what we know of mental control and suggestion from even human characters in this setting, we could also consider that the daemon used a form of brainwashing upon Sarpedon through his contact with its cult. The ideas present acting like a contagion, spreading with prolonged contact with those already under the daemon’s sway. First influencing Sarpedon and then later on the rest of his followers as they interacted with him more and more until they were similarly corrupt. Then using his initial mutation to spread that influence in one go throughout almost the entire chapter during the duel when he unleashed the Hell.

Another alternative is that Sarpedon’s growth in power following his corruption could have led to his abilities working in far more subtle ways. Unconsciously Sarpedon could have been using his powers on much less obvious levels to influence how others perceived him and his decisions. This would go some way into explaining how some of the figures who followed and spoke with him in the later books, despite realising what he was, acted almost amiably towards him while those with considerable psychic resistance or training did not.


Conclusion:
This goes give some reasoning behind some of the more dubious and less consistent writing within the series. Also as to why they kept following Sarpedon despite several failings on his part as their leader and the varying degrees in which characters seemed to react to the renegades. Not to mention why so many of the Soul Drinkers seemed to retain his ideals for so long when, even by Ben Counter’s own words, they were going to eventually doom the Chapter to extinction. Does this excuse everything they did? Hardly, there are still flaws in the books which cannot be brushed aside by this theory and it only goes some way to excusing the apparent idiot plot in the opening novel.

I would be interested to hear the thoughts of those who have similarly read the books and for their own thoughts on its flaws or the apparent blindness of the characters in Soul Drinker. If you think the theory serves no purpose and the series is good enough on its own, you have your own ideas, or you think the series doesn’t deserve such excuses please leave comments below. I would be genuinely interested to hear your thoughts.

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Warhammer 40,000 and all related characters and media are owned by Games Workshop and Black Library.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Kickstarter Spotlight: Aurora Rising


If you're wondering about the name, we'll get to that at the end. For now: Aurora Rising AKA FTL: Faster Than Light the RPG.

No, really, that might as well be what it's called. Detailing how it was conceived creator Kane Freeman stated it came about because he found himself playing far too much of that title and that he "would love to have this experience in a more traditional RPG setting" and set out to create a game which did just that. While it's usually not the best of ideas to directly compare an upcomming title with an already incredibly successful game, in this case it seems to be an apt comparison.


Many aspects of Aurora Rising greatly resemble FTL, especially when it comes to its ships. Both how you use your crew during space battles and how you allocate power to systems seem to be very similar, not to the point where it is blatantly plagarising the game but instead in that it seems to have kept what works from FTL. What has been improved are things like the ability to customise and alter your ship with new systems, with status screens and item attributes resembling far more of what you'd expect to see in an RPG than a Rogue-like. With them both having levels and percentage boosters which are visibly displayed in certain screens.

The on-foot sections of the game are where the two titles clearly differ from one another. Much of it feels somewhat in like with what you'd find in XCom, building up characters and their equipment while engagements emphaisise upon strategy. The display video on the Kickstarter page shows how the ground engagements will work in Aurora Rising's current stage of development with rooms being plotted out as grids and very strategic gameplay being employed to best utilise the weapons you have on hand. While the fights are not turn based Freeman specifically notes the player is encouraged to use the pause button to plan out moves and think about what they are doing more than anything else.
The only off-putting part of this at the moment seems to be the mention of stealth sections and the video showing that the player can see every enemy in an area with no fog-of-war or darkness to obscure any surprises.

The initial story sounds fairly generic but seems to have some promise behind it. Emphasising upon how close to extinction humanity is following a war with their genetically engineered superiors and that their new homeworld of Aurora is under thread by an unknown force. Little else has been revealed and while it fails to truly stand out it does show some interesting elements in the same vein as Battlestar Galactica's New Caprica arc did. Though hopefully this one will have a better payoff.

While the Kickstarter page does specifically state that there is a clear level of risk involved with the project, and the problems which could arise should the second goal not be reached, it is still a very interesting concept.
The game's Kickstarter page can be found here with more images and information on the project. If FTL: Faster Than Light at all interested you then this one is definitely worth a look as even in its pre-alpha stage it definitely seems like a somewhat improved sequel to that title, or at least a different take on it.


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Now, the name. Several news articles posted on here have focused upon Kickstarter projects by major names, detailing what they are about and what makes them unique. With apparently every human on the planet trying to upload Kickstarters to get their personal ideas going, it seemed best that they should have their own feature on the site rather than being a part of the news reports.
These types of spotlights will focus upon those either with serious potential in them, proven talent working on their creation or have just been generally overlooked despite good ideas.

This will not be a scheduled feature nor will it be a frequent appearence, but expect these once in a while for projects which coincide with the media this site looks into.

Shadowrun: Stealth is Paramount - 13/02/2013



There’s something which needs to be pointed out here. Up until now these sessions? They’ve all been elaborately planned to keep us on track. If there’s one thing our GM is superhumanly good at it’s preventing the story going completely off the rails or getting out from under his control.

Con the police into raiding a man’s house? He can keep the game going.

Completely botch a recon mission to the point where machineguns are chewing up the ground around the party and two members are forced to take a suicidal dive towards the ground hundreds of meters below? He’ll find a way to keep things on track.

Use an accent related joke to turn an important enemy NPC into a pirate and promptly take advantage of his sudden change in background? The story somehow keeps progressing as planned.

This isn’t to say he’s railroading, far from it, just that he’s very good at adaptability and keeping up with us when things start to go wrong. This session? This is what happens when the party is let off the chain and he doesn’t have a plan to cover the next three hours. The sorts of things which usually only happen when I’m trying to run a game.

Well we began this one right where the last one ended off. Having secured a favour from the cloning facility by blowing up their rival they needed to now get a genetic sample for their use. They just had the slight problem of needing to get it within the next eleven hours or so in order to have the cloned body ready in time for their operation. Speeding away in the jeep the two set off at high speed towards… somewhere. Yeah we opened this up with them speeding along at 120 mph when they had no real objective to go to yet.

Feeling they’d need everyone involved and that being able to be turned invisible would be of help, Killbo phoned Leona to try and rope her into the operation. This being Killbo he didn’t so much try to explain things as say “Witch? We need to get sperm, are you in?” You can probably imagine her reaction. As Killbo explained that they actually did need her and no this was not a joke, Amoral got to work on what he did best: Stuff with computers.

Searching for sperm-banks and cross-referencing them with those present in Japan, Amoral started to narrow down the facilities to a few where the scientist’s genetics might be held in. All we’d managed to previously know was that twenty-two years ago he’d donated sperm during his student days. This actually proved to be an easy task as, upon contacting the company under false pretences and a fake name, he found that there were seven samples which matched the criteria of the scientist.

After exhausting several other options and with Killbo proving to be of no help, Amoral opted to hack through the matrix and into their database. This was the one day the dice decided to hate him however and while successfully hacking inside, he set off multiple alarms alerting the system to his presence. Which proceeded to run a trace program frantically searching for whoever was trying to rip out files with the precision and subtlety of a meat-tenderiser.

Thankfully for us the dice hated the computer even more than they did Amoral and it glitched badly, starting to instead track the commercial airline which few right over our heads at that exact moment. The plane was apparently one Wilson was on-board, trying to smuggle himself out of the country after having escaped he police. I’m not sure if the GM was joking or not.

With the little more time we’d been bought, Amoral made an edit check to completely erase himself from the access before the system overcame its chase criteria to further throw it off and try to hide his presence. The system registered this as a form of corruption it had detected and started to reboot. For those not in the know, few worse things can happen to a technomancer than a system rebooting while they’re in it. With this taking place, Amoral copied the Seattle section of their database and metaphorically mashed his thumb on the “log out” option. Just about managing to drop with only normal bio-feedback for his actions.

Killbo, still brazenly breaking the speed limit and driving like a madman while this hacking took place, glanced back in time to see two things. Amoral uploading the data for where the sperm bank likely was into his GPS, and Leona driving behind them. This is notable as Leona was driving a scooter after the vehicle easily doing around a hundred.

Leona signalled them to stop. Killbo failed to notice this.
Leona repeatedly flashed her lights jerking her thumb over to one side of the road. Killbo saw her and waved back.
Leona yelled, with the same volume and intensity as a megaphone “Stop the fucking car you maniac!” Killbo leaned over and opened the passenger door for her to, apparently, drive into the vehicle.
After being yelled at more that she couldn’t park her scooter in the car, and some very lucky rolls, Killbo pulled a 180 degree skid turn into a parking space coming into an instant stop outside a pub.

After Leona boarded the vehicle we got to work in discussing our plan of attack and learned just where we were going to have to infiltrate: A guarded Renraku extra-territorial facility which served as a storage complex for various medical equipment and supplies. In other words to get just one small part of our plan done we were effectively going to be stealthily infiltrating the stronghold of a major corporate power. Ain’t life just grand?

After coming up with a vague plan of attack (I.E. don’t get seen and try to get caught, seen or make any loud noises) we headed for the facility leaving Leona’s scooter behind. Which was apparently not a scooter at all but some possessed demon-thing with an eye where the headlight should have been. Twenty minutes later we’d abandoned the jeep a few streets from the facility and sidled up to the exterior fence.

Ignoring the various signs of “Pass this line, it’s Renraku time” we managed to figure out that the first place we needed to head to was about ten feet from us. We also learned from Leona that there was another ward in place to prevent her crossing. Fun fact – the reason she can’t cross through them is that, unlike most magic users she can’t shift out to go undetected and not set them off because she was a shapeshifter. She could however make Killbo and Amoral invisible.

Walking up to the fence, the amazing invisible Killbo proceeded to silently chainsaw through it (hey it’d worked once that night hadn’t it?) and create a hole big enough to crouch through. The two were directly in front of their first target: the facility’s office. A one room shed which was used to keep records of their stock, have meetings with potential clients and record some of the security footage from its exterior cameras. Using his laser eye he cut a square hole through the back window and just about managed to catch the pane of glass as it feel out.

It was about this time, a good thirty seconds into sneaking inside, that everything went to hell.
A patrolling guard rounded the corner and, despite incredible odds stacked against him, actually managed to spot the pane of glass floating in the air. Having a few seconds to decide upon his action before the guard properly reacted, Killbo opted to make up for his relative competence in his last infiltration mission with bloodshed. Dramatically leaping down from the window, holding the glass in his robot hand as a sword he brought it round and sliced the guard’s head off Connor Macleod style. Apparently the laser gave it one hell of an edge. The called shot to his neck combined with some high rolls meant that the glass went right through him and the guard’s cranium hit the tarmac, bouncing away. While managing to avoid the cameras, barely considering our initial plan to drag the corpse right past the camera and outside the fence, the duo hide it in the office. Kicking the guard’s head in the open hole, Amoral dragged the corpse inside (after a few failed rolls) and dumped him out of sight.

Realising that a missing person might be reason for concern, Amoral then summoned a data sprite and hacked the guard’s comlink. Having recorded the guard’s few words prior to Killbo going medieval on him, he made the sprite edit the programmed replies and “everything’s okay” calls in varying tones to help keep up appearances. Making use of his long neglected explosive foam as a glue Killbo plastered the edges of the frame with the stuff and then pushed it back into the hole. He then shoved a remote detonator into the foam because, well he’s the explosives dwarf what else did you expect him to do.

Finding the computer terminal they needed, Amoral set to work on hacking into it while Killbo borrowed a torch to start rooting through the place for the ward’s focus. Well oddly enough a light suddenly appearing in an unused pitch black room at night was enough to get someone’s attention. Seconds later a guard was rattling keys in the lock trying to get inside.

With no furniture available, Amoral hid behind the door to stay out of sight. Quickly ripping off the focus, Killbo took the far less sensible root and rolled under the desk. Directly atop the bleeding beheaded corpse which Amoral had hidden there. Oddly enough it wasn’t Killbo who ended up worse with this situation, while he was having blood seep into his clothing the guard leapt in the door action movie style and slammed it into Amoral’s face. Somehow missing that the door slamming was slightly softened the guard looked about, pinned the focus back onto the wall and walked back out shrugging his shoulders. A few seconds later Leona made her presence known, having come through as she’d sensed the wards coming down.

Spending a few seconds regrouping and deciding upon their actions, and learning from Amoral’s few seconds of hacking that what they needed was in Warhouse 7, they tried to get things back on track. This went a bit wrong when Leona disappeared under the table and sewed the corpse back together. Then resurrected him as a zombie via watcher, sending the very bloody, staggering mess of what was left of Bob the guard to continue his patrol route with the sprite covering the voice. Unable to stop this happening, the group rushed out the door and headed for the warehouse while invisible to try and get everything done before the other guards discovered the walking corpse.

Things then took another turn for the worse when, upon reading the exterior of the warehouse Amoral glitched badly while trying to detect any interior alarms within the warehouse started to see nothing but alarm systems and bears within. Learning this supposedly reliable recon info, Killbo started to kneel in front of the door and pick the lock, ready to take cover from any bear-defences within. He critically glitched. Apparently being so loud in his efforts it could be hears from meters around, a guard promptly came running over and inspected the lock, seeing the thin metal spikes sticking out of it. Guessing people could be breaking in, he called other guards over and alerted them to this problem. He then smelt blood, very fresh and very much human, nearby and heavy breathing.

Backing off very quietly before the guards right next to them realised the intruders were within punching distance, Leona went on her own initiative and ordered Bob the zombie guard to open fire on his nearby compatriots. At exactly the time the sprite casually announced “everything’s just fine” in his voice. Knowing that any efforts at trying to be subtle were long gone, Killbo broke out the flashbangs and lobbed them at the nearby guards, taking most of them out of the fight. At exactly the time they went off we overheard this exchange from the other side of the base:

“Oh my god! Bob’s head has been stitched on!"
“UUURGH!”
“He’s a zombie!”

Actually I take it back, this is when everything really went to shit.

Leaping atop the unconscious guards, Leona stabbed them to death and brought them back as more zombies. Sending the army of the walking dead over to keep the guards busy, Amoral similarly dropped all pretences of being stealthy and hacked into the guard’s com. system. As they desperately tried to contact everyone else for help, AKA proper soldiers, they were deafened by the theme to Gao Gai Gar. With the guards’ coordination gone and a flesh devouring horrors upon them, the shadowrunners shot out the lock and sprinted inside.
Grabbing the nearest tray Killbo started searching for the sample they were looking for. Eventually finding it, surprisingly quickly, he joined in with the raging guard-zombie melee. Crouching some distance from the warehouse he began providing covering fire with his grenade launcher he attempted to make their meat shield last a little longer.

Not to be outdone Leona decided to leave no trace of them being there via a Firelight Bomb. A powerful fiery, explosive spell with sixteen dice worth of overall damage it could inflict. The GM added edge and by the time she was finished Leona had ended up with nineteen successes, and a total of thirty four damage. To give some context, this was slightly more firepower than a heavy mortar round in Shadowrun.

Having not enough magic to keep everyone hidden, Killbo became visible as they ran like every dragon on the planet was after them out of the facility. Also sending her snake familiar off to do more damage, and destroy any camera footage of us being there, Leona then destroyed the office shed we had initially stuck into because it was in the way of our escape route.

By about this time the guards had overcome the armed zombies and had started to come after us, firing as they came. Shooting a laser pistol over his shoulder, Amoral was eventually hit by SMG fire in return and took enough physical damage to down him. Doubling back to help him, Leona transformed into a lion and began legging it to the exit with him on her back. Seeing that conventional bullets had done little to dissuade the guards, Killbo broke out his grenade launcher arm again and began firing several times at the nearest mob. Hitting one guard in the face with a high explosive grenade and badly wounding several behind him the dwarf brought them a few seconds breathing room. Then adding a few more because, well, they’d already effectively invaded a colony of a major power and set it on fire, they might as well have gone all the way.

Managing to reach their car without any Renraku attack helicopters chasing after them, somehow, Killbo hit down on the accelerator and sped away from the scene of the crime as fast as he possibly could. Likely drinking heavily after realising just who they’ve managed to single handily piss off in the absolute worst way possible short of personally attacking the corporation’s board members.

Eventually pulling into a back alley, listening to the sirens fill the cold night, they began using Leona’s suddenly returned familiar to root out the sample they needed and patch up wounds. After about twenty minutes of this and finding what they needed, Leona and Amoral turned up outside the cloning facility we had brokered our deal with and finished our exchange. Both Leona and the head of the facility stopping to remark in surprise at the sudden explosive fire which had put one of their major rival’s briefly out of business.

So by the end of this a large chunk of Seattle was either on fire or in ruins. The sort of extensive ruination you get when Godzilla and his buddies Death, War, Famine and Pestilence decide to go for late night drinking in downtown Tokyo. With cloned meat and body parts raining from the sky, hundreds of people now out of work, Renraku having been on the receiving end of an attack performed with the speed and ruthless efficiency usually only found with the Spetsnaz, everyone headed for home and lay low for a couple of days. Some additional points of notoriety added to their character sheers and their local town having suffered a good 54,000,000 nuyen of property damage we inflicted in one night.
And as one final note the new SIN I.D.s arrived, with a minor joke turning Killbo's one into "Doctor John Smith of Holistic Medicine",

And somehow, just somehow, this managed to be one of the less destructive sessions we’ve played in a long time.


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Shadowrun and all related characters and media are owned by FASA Corporation, Fantasy Productions and Catalyst Games Labs.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

X-Treme X-Men Vol. 1: Destiny (Comicbook Review)

As with the last book review this is posted in full on http://thefoundingfields.com/ and this is simply a preview. If you want to see it in full then please follow the link through to there.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Bioshock Infinite Pre-Order Bonuses


With the much anticipated game (sequel? reboot?) being released next month it seems that publisher 2K is trying to gain more publicity and profit right out of the starting gate. Available to those who pre-order Bioshock Infinite on Steam, the titles of Bioshock and potentially X-Com: Enemy Unknown will be included as free bonuses along with Team Fortress 2 exclusives.
Yes, it's hats how did you guess. 
As a further bonus to Infinite itself, all pre-ordering buyers will also get the Industrial Revolution Pack - Bonus content for the game which includes 500 of the in-game currency, five lock-picks and the Industrial Revolution puzzle game.  

There's just one small catch to this - Much of it is based upon how many of your friends are also going to be pre-ordering. 

The inclusion of each additional title is being based upon a tiered system which unlocks a free bonus game or content. As the numbers of pre-orders go up more tiers are unlocked and the more things become available. Though the Industrial Revolution Pack was always intended as an included bonus. Thus far only the first tier, the original Bioshock bonus, has been unlocked and the pre-order quota is only nine percent towards unlocking the second tier. 


Purely on a marketing level this is an intelligent move for a good number of reasons. The most obvious one is in terms of early profit. 
With so many people pre-ordering the game early on prior to any true feedback or reviews it means that no matter the reception Bioshock Infinite will be making the creators a great deal of moolah. The last really big case of this was with Aliens: Colonial Marines which utilised a vast number of pre-order exclusives and bonus content to make an early start and earn Sega far more money than they otherwise would have gotten with the game of its low quality. More importantly however this can easily work off of word of mouth and can be used as incentive to encourage friends to also pre-order in the effort to get additional content upon buying. 

The more of them convinced, the more games (all of which were critical successes) the person who encouraged them to sign up gain access to. It won't register as any kind of scamming on any real level because everyone benefits and they are not being asked to sink any additional money into it they wouldn't be spending on release anyway. Furthermore even if they don't agree to buy the title there is still free publicity being made out of them talking to one another. 

 If the actual scheme itself wasn't enough proof of this, a post on Irrational Games' blog speaking about the pre-order bonuses had this to say about it - "But to unlock all these rewards, you’ll need to spread the word and work as a team". The sorts of words which encourage people to turn from customers into promoters of the title.

Perhaps the biggest point of concern however, is that Steam does not permit pre-orders to be cancelled once the game is released. So while you might get some genuinely good content, if the game is bad you're going to be stuck with it and with no way to trade it back in.
Despite the good track record of those involved in the game's creation and distribution this is still a point of concern. Whether or not this is a marketing plot to make money out of a title which  would otherwise not receive many purchases or is an effort to get some additional profit while having their customers get something out of the deal is just something we'll have to wait and find out the answer to.

Friday, 22 February 2013

A Change of Scenery


Truth be told it was about time we changed from the default background after a year or two of updating constantly. It took me a while of searching but here's the background we're going to be having from now on.

A big part of me wanted to use something Warhammer related but with all the various franchises the reviews and news reports cover it seemed only fair to go for something more varied.

Special thanks to බ්ලොග්කාරයා for allowing this to be used and displaying it in the first place. His blog can be found here along with various reccomended science fiction classics, a few of which we'll probably be looking at sometime into the future.
Also for those who've been wondering, Shadowrun will continue soon I've just had to deal with other matters for the moment. The last session is halfway written up and i'm looking at creating a few thousand word document to explain the events of the first campaign.
Until that's done see you at the next review.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Playstation 4 Announced – Systems Specs, Release Titles and New Capabilities

Read the article in full on http://techzwn.com/ 





Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Death of Antagonis (Book Review)

As with the last book review this is posted in full on http://thefoundingfields.com/ and this is simply a preview. If you want to see it in full then please follow the link through to there.



Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (Video Game Review)

Read the review in full on http://techzwn.com/ 



Monday, 18 February 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard (Film Review)



If you hated Die Hard 4.0 you’re going to absolutely loath this one. The film? It’s what you’d get if you mashed together a really bad version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with an extremely bad remake of Commando. One which took itself seriously.

The plot this time is that John McClane’s son Jack has been captured in Russia following the results of an assassination attempt and is standing trial for murder. To shorten his sentence he agrees to testify against a member of the government who has been alerting the public to illegal misconduct by leaking files. John McClane himself learns of this only through circumstance and heads to Russia to help him out, after which the plot starts to get a little hard to follow. Not just due to the fact the script doesn’t evolve so much as jack-knife from one plot to the next via an extremely badly handled twist, but the cinematography.

Guy Ritchie, I take everything back about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, because this this film displays some of the absolute worst cinematography I’ve seen to date. Making audiences aware of special distances between characters, the dimensions of their surroundings, establishing shots, nearly all are thrown out of the window in favour of some of the worst shakey-cam, fast-forwards then rewind, zoom-in/out, unfocus/focus, gimmicky footage I think I have ever seen. Michael bloody Bay was more conservative with the use of shakey-cam than this film and there were honestly times in which I had to look away to stop myself feeling ill.


It’s not hard to see why the film is such a failure. The director behind this Die Hard sequel was John Moore, last seen helping create the abomination which was the Max Payne film and he’s honestly getting worse. The story’s even worse similarly abandoning any basics in set-up, establishment or even a decent pacing beyond the action. For nearly all of the film’s first and second acts Bruce Willis is just a set-piece, barely a character of any sort and definitely not the protagonist. You remember his one moment of yelling “Jack!?” in the trailers? Have that repeated another six or seven times and you have the bulk of his dialogue for the entire first half of the film. This is Jai Courtney’s film more than it is his, and while he’s a hardly a bad action hero he’s not what we’re here to see.

Any link to what made the original Die Hard trilogy good is completely missing from this film. While 4.0 might have deviated a bit too much into the inhuman super-cop character he seemed more grounded than you’d get with Stallone or Arnie. He was clearly scared for his life most of the time and while he was surviving things which would otherwise just killed him he at least acknowledged them. Here he’s wading through gunfire without a second thought, casually picking off people with an assault rifle like he’s got bulletproof skin.

You remember that bit from Die Hard where it actually pointed out that running over broken glass while windows were exploding around him was a bad idea? Having McClane limping and pulling broken shards out of his skin after doing it? Bits like that are completely missing or openly ignored. If any influence from the previous films remain, it’s that the people working on this were using them as a How-Not-To-Do-It guide.

When A Good Day to Die Hard does remember its budget periodically and has something big happening, it can potentially be good. Usually only enough to break up the tedium and make you realise you came into the cinema to try and have fun though. Also the setting was horribly underused. Outside of one extremely dumb plot twist which had several people walking out of the cinema which it was revealed, Russia is a setting which seems arbitrary to the film. Unlike, again, the original trilogy where each location had its own differing aspects and helped to make each instalment stand out on its own.

Don’t waste your money on this one. Watch the original or find a screening of Last Stand, you’ll have a lot more fun.


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A Good Day to Die Hard and all related characters and media are owned by 20th Century Fox and Giant Pictures.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Information Leak For Bungie's New Project - Destiny




While Activision and famed Halo developer Bungie will be releasing information on their new title Destiny later today, IGN seems to have released information ahead of the official embargo. Accidently releasing a video up ahead of time speaking of the game's concept art and specific details about the universe, the reviewing website has given some early insights into how it will play and the factions available.
Better yet it all but outright confirms the release of the title on both the next generation of Playstation and Xbox, along with "future generation technologies."

Described as a "mythic science fiction universe" the game seems to consist of an odd blend of hard science fiction and fantasy elements. With the concept art revealed showing everything from an orbiting derelict spacecraft and industrialised vehicles to a strangely designed towering construct IGN called "the Citadel." Which looks like what you'd end up with if you had M.C. Escher design Heroes of Might and Magic's Sylvian strongholds.

destiny_art-9What little of the story which has been told thus far has to be pieced together out of minute bits of information. Presumably set in the far future, because hey where else do you get starships, a protective force known as the Traveller orbits the earth. Having previously protected humanity from obliteration it has now begun to gift some of its power to individuals, the people who make up each class, who are fighting to combat various hostile enemies. And yes, the Traveller's power effectively works like magic.

The enemies confirmed thus far consist of spider-like pirates, space zombies and time travelling robots. The races/factions of enemies named thus far are the Vex, Kabal and The Fallen; though it is unknown if any of the aforementioned enemies make up the ranks of these factions. Some space travel will be available as both Mars and Earth's moon are playable locations


Intended as an FPS title, Destiny has been stated that it will be semi MMO-ish with it always being connected online but requiring no subscription fee from players. From this you can guess that that this will mean that it will some form of market or micro-transaction system as a result. MMO elements confirmed thus far are its competitive/co-op play and the location of the Dust Palace on Mars. An area which has been described as having a dungeon-like, raid-type experience within it. Furthermore a city on Earth is intended to be used as a social hub with social elements playing a part in the game.
Classes named thus far are the  Hunter, Warlock and Titan. A sniper, magic-centric and (possibly) an assault class respectively. 

Destiny itself has been suggested it will be around for a decade, assuming it is successful and builds up a loyal playerbase.

More information will likely be revealed later today once the embargo is officially lifted so stay tuned for an update.

Footage Leaked For Cancelled Star Wars 3D Fighter


Yet another disappointment for fans of the galaxy far, far away in-game footage of a recently cancelled Star Wars 3D fighter has been leaked online. The video displayed Darth Maul ramming his blade through Anakin Skywalker's chest after a prolonged one-on-one fight. 
Were Christian Hayden's digital death not enough to get people interested it was reportedly being developed by the now defunct Studio Gigante, founded by Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias. Responsible for bringing a number of fighters to consoles a few years ago such as Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus.

The footage itself was, according to Eurogamer, a tech-demo from 2005 which was being pitched to publishers even as the developer began to shut down. Rather than being the usual parade of button slamming, spams of kicks and punches as found in a lot of titles, the fight footage was surprisingly slow moving. Emphasising more upon special attacks and combined stabs, parries and techniques which were shown in close ups. Given the changing order in which some of these attacks took place and the ability to suddenly dodge certain strikes, it's possible the game was intended to focus more upon chaining attacks at specific points for heightened damage. Much like Mortal Kombat vs. DCU's freefalling fights did but with more precision. Rage meters also seemed to play a part with a burning bar below each character's health meter growing as the fight progressed.


While this might seem old news, combined with the cancellation of Star Wars: Battlefront III when it was near complete not too long ago and the franchise's success with fighters makes this a very disappointing sight to behold. 

I guess we'll be waiting a little longer for Masters of Teräs Käsi 2.



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Star Wars and all related characters and media are owned by Lucasarts and Disney.