Phantasy Star Online 2 Beta is live.

Phantasy Star Online 2 Beta is live. So what are you waiting for go play and enjoy.

Download it here
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Solid Snake Sneaks Back Into The Fray

So it seems that Metal Gear Solid creator, Hideo Kojima, can't leave Solid Snake to live the rest of his days in peace. In an interview with French gaming magazine IG, he said that Snake is to return in the next installment of the series. However, he did not specify what his actual role in the game would be.

“There will be a Metal Gear Solid 5 with the new FOX Engine,” Kojima stated. "About [it], I can tell you two things. There will be much question of infiltration, espionage, and convincing people to give you favor like in the last Metal Gear Solid."

He also expressed his interest in the way that Deus Ex: Human Revolution dealt with social interactions. So will we see Snake starting up conversations with NPCs? An interesting thought.

Kojima took time to explain where exactly the upcoming Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance video game, being developed by Platinum Games, fits in with the series and explains the difference between it and previous games.

"Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance never claimed to be a Metal Gear Solid. This is not a game about our beloved Solid Snake. It is a spinoff that tries something different. We have not yet finished with Solid Snake, despite the fact that I wanted to let him die at the end of Guns of the Patriots.!

The news of a new Metal Gear Solid may be connect somehow with Konami's Project Ogre that was shown just before Christmas last year. Could this have been Metal Gear Solid 5 all along? What's more interesting is that this news comes AFTER E3. It just shows how sneaky Hideo Kojima can be sometimes, but he can be forgiven for this one.
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What Are You Playing?

I broke up from work this week, so my weekend will be lasting 2 weeks. Over this time I plan to do a large amount of gaming (as well as a lot of work on GamingUnity).

My console has been collecting a lot of dust over the past 2 weeks as I’ve fell in love with the PC again, Super Meat Boy has made me rage, Amnesia has made me have to change my underwear and Q.U.B.E has made me scratch my head a few times.

I’m also thinking about picking up ArmA II: CO this weekend as I really want to try out Dayz.

I have a lot of gaming planned but as always... What are you playing?
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Why PC Gaming Can Never Die

People have been saying that PC gaming is going to die for a long time. Ever since the rise of console gaming in everyone’s homes people have been calling an end to PC gaming. Since then we’ve seen a change and an explosion in the kind of gaming offered on PC. Services like Steam and Good Old Games offer fantastic experiences at low cost and we’ve seen an explosion in casual and social gaming on PC. I believe PC gaming never died and I think it never will.

When I asked my friends why they were PC gamers one answer stood out from the others as something they all thought. “Because I’m always on my computer anyway.” Computers have become such a huge part of our culture, in this age of information that almost everyone is on their computers for a huge portion of their day. So it’s easy for gamers to transition from the other things we do on our computers, like web browsing or work, to gaming and back again.

Because of that casual games have really exploded on PCs. We’ve all seen and played games on Facebook and kongregate but I think PC gaming is also great for a form of gaming that isn’t quite casual and not quite hardcore. Where players can take a break from working on their computers for a game of League of Legends or World of Tanks and then get back to work. It’s not always productive but it’s something you can do on a PCs that you can’t on a console.

PC gaming is extremely open to independent developers and gamers alike. If you want to get started making games there are plenty of tools available for the indie developer. Even tools like Scratch allow people with little to no programming experience to get started making a game. Perhaps above all else PC gaming is indie friendly. There are very few gatekeepers standing in your way to publish a game on the PC and companies like Valve have shown huge support for the indie community on PC.

I love how customizable PC gaming can be. It’s like driving a standard car versus driving an automatic one. You can have control over a lot in a PC game that you wouldn’t have over a console game. You also have control over the performance of your machine and for most of us gamers that means that you’ve built your own computer or at least spent quite a bit of time working on it. We all love that feeling of putting together a computer and starting it for the first time. It’s your own machine and nobody else in the world has one like it.

Lastly and probably most importantly I love the online gaming community on PC. It’s the kind of community that you just can’t get anywhere else. It’s born of years of online gaming experience and tempered with games like World of Warcraft. If you’ve ever played an MMO, MOBA or any other online game you probably know the community I’m talking about. There are a huge amount of forums, fan sites and blogs dedicated to online gaming. Conventions like Blizcon and EverQuest Con are totally dedicated to bringing together their online PC gaming community.

That’s why PC gaming can never die. It might have changed over the years to
accommodate a different demographic. It may have become a little more casual, a little bit more social or a little more online but it’s this adaptability that makes gaming on the PC so strong. We shouldn’t be thinking about whether or not PC gaming will die, we should be thinking about what it’s next big change will be. It may have changed a little but PC gaming will never die.
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Sounds like Chrono Trigger

Over a recent holiday I spent quite a long time playing through the Nintendo DS remake of the 1995 SNES RPG Chrono Trigger. This absolutely has to be one of my favourite games I have ever played. It was created by a group referred to as the RPG "dream team": Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series, Yuji Horii, the creator of the Dragon Quest series and art provided by Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball and lead artist on the Dragon Quest series.

Chrono Trigger often appears on best game of all time lists:
[quote]Chrono Trigger has recently placed highly on all six of multimedia website IGN's "top 100 games of all time" lists—4th in 2002, 6th in early 2005, 13th in late 2005, 2nd in 2006, 18th in 2007, and 2nd in 2008. GameSpot included Chrono Trigger in "The Greatest Games of All Time" list released in April 2006, and it also appeared as 28th on an "All Time Top 100" list in a poll conducted by Japanese magazine Famitsu the same year ... Nintendo Power's twentieth anniversary issue named it the fifth best Super Nintendo game.[/quote]
Source: Wikipedia

The battle system is simple, yet deep, where characters can combine their special and magic moves, called Techs, to make double or triple attacks for massive damage. The story is equally simple, with plenty of humour and lightheartedness, while maintaining a sinister and subtle undertone. The characters are loveable, totally conforming to the genre stereotypes, but in a good way! Your party is eventually made up of your silent protagonist, tech whizz geeky friend, a princess, a frog-man, a robot and a cave woman; my party of choice was the main character, the frog-man and the robot.

However, possibly the finest thing about Chrono Trigger is the music. Scored primarily by Yasunori Mitsuda, and then completed by Nobuo Uematsu when Mitsuda feel ill. Most all the tracks are catchy and evocative of the situations or locations being presented. After the release of the official soundtrack, Mitsuda went on to produce an acid jazz album called The Brink of Time based on the tracks from the game. And it does not take much hunting on YouTube to find fan covers of many of the tracks. Below is my favourite one I have found so far, by YouTube user ViolinTay (Video above)

If you get a chance to buy this game; it is currently available to buy on Nintendo DS, iPhone, Playstation 3 and an Android port is coming soon; I would highly recommend it. Or if you are particularly crazy, Giantbomb did a whole, narrated play through of the game as a video series which is available to watch (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL085723EE35418F90) if you have a spare 30 hours!

For full disclosure, yes, I have not only played through the game in the last few weeks, but watched the entire video series and loved every minute of it!
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Will the Wii U change PC gaming for the better?

Now I know what you thinking ‘the Wii U has nothing to do with PC gaming’ and up to a couple of weeks ago I would be inclined to agree with you until I read into the specifications of Nintendo's up and coming console and what I found seemed very good, very good indeed.

At this moment in time the PC is held back graphically but the current gen consoles, PS3 and Xbox 360, due mainly to multi platform releases. This could change with the graphical power of the Wii U.

The Wii U uses a ‘Custom AMD Radeon-based High Definition GPU’, which is most likely to a custom AMD Radeon HD 6700M/HD 6600M with is better than the both the Xbox 360’s 500 MHz ATI Xenos and the PS3’s 550 MHz NVIDIA/SCEI RSX 'Reality Synthesizer' gfx cards.

This could mean that instead of getting a low spec Xbox 360 port a PC gamer might just avail of the Wii U graphical capabilities.

In a interview with Gamespot an Ubisoft employee said the following
“The central processing unit (CPU) of the Wii U is just as powerful as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and the graphics processing unit (GPU) is a one and half times as strong.”

It seems like good news for the average pc gamer and even better news for consumers as a whole.

SynysterBear
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The (very slowly) Walking Dead

You may or may not be aware of the new game based on the award winning series and comic books The Walking Dead. The game has produced a lot of noise in the gaming scene, with it being a zombie game that is not restricted to the usual smash and blast FPS zombie games we have all grown to know and love. Its daring new dynamic of post-apocalyptic survival based on your interactions with your fellow survivors has appealed a lot of players wanting something new.

This has been a surprising release by the infamous studio of Telltale games, who has once again proved its unpredictability, its previous release having been such a monumental flop that I find its name unworthy to be featured here. So the studio released this game that is not only daring in its semi-original gameplay (obviously, it greatly resembles the Heavy-Rain game type) but it is also one of the rare games to come out in episodes monthly. This either forced the player to pay in advance for all the episodes as to have to pay a little less, or buy the episodes as they come out.

But a wild problem has appeared! The episodes keep getting delayed! This might not be such a big problem to the people that will buy the episodes as they come out, but for people like myself that have already bought the games, it’s more than a little bit annoying to not have the games I’ve paid
for on time. There just has been so little information given out by the developers on this issue, which I consider to be an important one. Thankfully for the studio, the E3 hype has more than covered up their tracks, but it remains unacceptable. They chose to release the game in episodes, and they should take charge for what they have chosen, and release them monthly as they promised.

Not only does this affect us gamers, that don’t have our games at the time that was promised to us, but I believe that Telltale games studio’s already weak reputation will be weakened even more, and in these hard times, although I do not wish such a thing upon them, this just might be their last strike.
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E3's Relevance on the wane?

It was Saturday morning I woke up with giddy childish excitement. Hopping out of bed I raced to my computer to see the wonderful new titles I might have to look forward to over the next year. I scanned through all the trailers and news stories a look of horror mingling with boredom slowly overtaking my boyish grin. The truth was dawning on me, like finding out that santa and the easter bunny are not as real as you had been led to believe, my heart was broken. Perhaps, this is my fault, I justified, maybe I just read too much gaming news, but the truth was still there staring me in the face.

Today I have finally come to terms with the fact that nearly every title shown at E3 came as no surprise there was no thrilling reveal nothing left to give. This has led me to believe that perhaps in today’s age E3 has lost it’s relevance, with the internet the way it is today, and with the growing popularity of other gaming conventions, it would seem that E3 is Starting to become it’s own worst enemy.

The entertainment industry at one time was very secretive but with the advent of the internet it has become increasingly difficult to hide things from the public. Too many people who are far too interested are out their trying their best to tell everyone exactly what is coming out. This has made it increasingly difficult to hold an announcement in order to build anticipation, especially when you can find new and creative ways to announce it at any time of the year. Take for example Halo 4 , announced only a couple months ago, They had the option to wait build anticipation and then all at once announce the game and reveal footage at E3, so why not wait?

At one time E3 was also considered, if not the only, the major gaming convention in North America, a spot it must now share with not one but two different PAX’s. With PAX, a convention designed for the gamers, taking a large majority of the crowd, giving them a chance to get hands on and also have a weekend away immersed in gamer culture, it would seem that E3 has nothing left to offer.

It would appear that instead of evolving with the crowd, as gaming becomes more and more socially acceptable, E3 has allowed itself to become stagnant and stuck in the old ways. It is my honest belief that, unless E3 can find a way to evolve in this new era, they will begin to lose their crowd and quickly become a thing of the past.
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Vivendi Selling Activision Blizzard?

It has come out that Vivendi may sell its stake of 61% of Activision Blizzard (ATVI) makers of COD and WOW due to a major restructure for Vivendi.

While ATVI shares grew by over 4.5% last year, Vivendi total stock fell by a large margin of 28%.

ATVI is Vivendi’s fourth largest company, and the second fastest growing with over $4.76 billion dollars in raw sales last year, that figure not including COD: Elite or any of the MW3 DLC sales, with share value out doing both EA and Take Two.

Why would Vivendi sell the biggest name in gaming?
Well it could be as simple as a new strategy in business

[quote]“Vivendi jumped as much as 5.3 percent in Paris and Activision fell as much as 6.2 percent in New York. A sale of Activision would be an attempt by Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou to unlock value from assets he has said are at a discount because of the holding structure at Vivendi, which also owns Universal Music Group and phone operators in France, Morocco and Brazil.

[...]

An exit from Activision would be another retreat from the globe-trotting conglomerate structure Vivendi pioneered under former CEO Jean-Marie Messier, who nearly bankrupted the company with a $77 billion acquisition spree before he was ousted in 2002. In 2009 Levy undid Messier’s signature deal by selling Vivendi’s stake in NBC Universal, the TV network and Hollywood studio now owned by Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), to General Electric Co. for $5.8 billion.”[/quote]


What does this mean for you and me?

Nothing much, the likes of COD and WOW shouldn’t suffer. You’ll still get to play with Pandas and Military Drones in the coming months.
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Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee Remake Announced

A status update on the Oddworld Inhabitants Facebook page, the developers behind Oddworld: Abe’s Odysee, has revealed that the cult classic title will be getting a full reboot.

The full status update reads “Ok so here’s the skinny on “Oddworld: Abe’s Odysee”…We decided to reboot it, not just an HD update to the original PS1 title, this is a NEW game. It will be getting it’s first public showing LATER this year, with a release date of NEXT summer (2013).”
The team then went on to further clarify that Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee HD will be a remake of the original PS1 title started from scratch, but using the original as a blueprint.

For those unaware of Abe and his adventures, Abe’s Odyssee follows Abe as he tries to escape from the RuptureFarms meat processing factory on Oddworld when he discovers that his fellow Mudokons are being slaughtered to make the product. Abe must complete a series of puzzles with his abilities, including the power to possess enemies to rescue his brethren and escape.

The developers teased an HD reboot of the title in April this year with three pre-production environment tests, which you can see in the images above.
This is incredible news for fans of the Mudokon and his pals and it’s great to hear that the title is getting a full update to the current gen without the hasty HD upscaling we’ve seen from a lot of HD reboots.
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Red Dead Reflection (Spoilers inside)

I loved Red Dead Redemption. Let’s just get that out of the way. I did everything; tamed every horse, did every side-quest possible and upon entering Mexico and that beautiful song played – Jose Gonzalez’s “Far Away” – I threw my controller across the room so as to not interrupt the love being made to my ears.

From start to finish I was engrossed, but where the game truly shined was the ending. The whole game culminated in this final scene that left me staring at the credits in contemplation, and not like Assassin’s Creed where I’m just staring because I have no idea what just happened.

This will, in case you haven’t already realized, be spoiler heavy. So... play the game first, because you’ll kick yourself to have it spoiled.

Redemption, it's in the title. This game has one of the most poignant and accurate representations of redemption that I've experienced in any medium. Though RDR stands in comparison to Western films who address the same topic, the interactivity that it bestows makes the experience stronger than anywhere else.

John Marston seeks redemption. Not for his conscience, but because he is forced to do so to earn his family's freedom. He spends most of the plot seeking the former members of his gang and hunting them down at the behest of the FBI. By killing those who left him for dead, he not only gets revenge for what they did to him, but redemption for his actions as an outlaw.

The effort that John Marston exerts in his quest for redemption is not for his own benefit, or even for his wife Abigail’s; it is for his son, Jack. John and Abigail speak several times about their desire for Jack to live a life as far removed as possible from their own: The Marstons lived their earlier years as outlaws, robbing banks and killing people. Many often question John about how he managed to justify his actions as a law-breaker and he responds that he was “kinda like Robin Hood” stealing from the wealthy and undeserving and helping out those that needed it. This justification isn’t held up by the members of their gang or by the FBI, however. It does seem as though John and Abigail honestly regret their criminal life, John states that he “had to live the way [he did]”, and that he was in awe of Dutch “just like everyone else was”. Ultimately, however you look at it, John Marston was a man trying to live by pretending the things he’d done didn’t happen. It is difficult to imagine that John could really believe that he would be allowed to walk away unharmed and free.

However, by what we assume to be the end of the game, John has finished. He has as good as killed Dutch, fulfilled his obligation to the FBI and earned his freedom. He’s finally allowed to return to his farm with his family and live out the rest of his days as a peaceful ranch-owner. Besides shooting Elk and bears, as well as the occasional cattle-rustler, John Marston will likely never have to pull his gun out in anger again.

Honestly? I thought that was it. I thought that I’d get a rather cheesy, happy ending with the whole family together forever. Thankfully, I was mistaken. We return home, and we still pursue missions. They’re calm, tranquil and are essentially the same missions from the very beginning of the game back at the Macfarlane Ranch. We hunt with Jack, we shoot crows off of the grain silo and we ride with the Missus.

After several conversations and missions with the Marston family however, I realize that it’s all a lead-up. The moment where I consciously realized that these missions were happy and peaceful for a reason was when I knew that the Marston’s weren’t going to get a happy ending.

I loved that.

I know the John Marston was the protagonist and, at the end of the day, he isn’t a criminal anymore. He simply wants to go home to his family and live a quiet life. But in the big picture, that’s just not how it works. John was, and still is, a criminal. He’s killed countless people even before the game begins. Unfortunately, you don’t get to leave all that behind and start anew. As much as that might be seen as the right thing to do – the criminal finally turning over a new leaf – that’s just not how it works.

There is a battle fought in the background of the story of Red Dead Redemption between the untamed, wild ways of the West and the encroaching civilization. We play a man who is firmly rooted in the self-sufficient, anti-government mentality that so many people felt in the West. These people settled and tamed this wild land, turning it from a dangerous and desolate area into a blend of nature and civilization. With the onset of the railroad, people were able to come and go so much more easily, enabling government influence to extend into corners of the country previously untouched. This was not met with glee; throughout RDR many characters blame any and all bad occurrences on the government and “their interfering ways”. These people don't want big government and meddling agents or the large cities and extensive colonization that follow. They want their quiet, settled life with strong familial ties and their self-sufficiency. They wish to deal with things in their own way.

Under this model of life, it is understandable for John to walk away from his actions. After all, he has helped many communities, sheriffs and even revolutions, hopefully working towards saving lives. These actions should redeem John Marston from the errors he’s made and the people he has killed. If there were no government or code of law, perhaps that would be the case. But the government does exist, and the people who get left behind from the killings desire justice. And so John Marston, having ignored Dutch’s warning that “they’ll never leave people like us alone”, finds his farm under attack by waves of US forces, all trying to kill the entire family. As the player, I was confused as to why they would attack. I expected something tragic to happen, but I didn’t necessarily expect the FBI would double cross him.

I later came to the realization that they had to kill him. The FBI was determined on rooting out all bandit and outlaw gangs. They set out to eradicate the entirety of Dutch van der Linde’s gang, and John Marston was the last. If they let him live, they would be undermining their very mission; preserving the peace and delivering justice. True, it might seem that, as John was the protagonist and he’s performed so many good actions, he should be allowed to go free. That can't be, because the people desire justice. The media desires justice. The game paints the government agents – and the government as a whole, really – as malicious and self-serving, not doing what is right, but merely what is most likely to win them acclaim and get them promoted. True, the FBI seem more concerned about how it would make them look if they fail, but that feeling of shame is closely tied to the expectations of the people who were hurt, either directly or indirectly, by John Marston and his gang.

During the game, the player can play John Marston either good or bad, making choices in select missions as to how you act. It’s relatively minor, as no matter what John Marston is concerned with getting back to his family. The way you play him also doesn’t really matter except for an individual player’s view on John’s character. Either you play him as a reformed criminal trying his best to get peace and choose good options, or you play him as a jackass who only left crime to start his family, but is still perfectly happy to let that damn cannibal eat whomever he likes.

All comments about the conflict between civilization and the wild aside, Red Dead Redemption is fundamentally about John Marston’s redemption. He quests for it by hunting his former allies and both he and the player believe that he has finally earned it once they are all dead. However, the actions of John Marston will forever haunt him; just because he hunted his former gang won’t stop law enforcement wanting his blood. They don't want to just kill John, but his family as well. They will never be safe until the FBI finally kills John Marston. And at the end, once John finds himself surrounded and with no safe way out, he knows it.

Marston finally realizes what he has been hiding from himself the entire game: that he can never gain redemption for his actions while he is still alive. No matter what he does to try and clear his name, he will always be hunted, and by extension so will his family. John’s primary focus is to preserve the innocence and ability in his son and to let him live a life free from his own past. But as long as John Marston lives, that can never be true.

I genuinely felt that John Marston fully comes to terms with his fate trapped in that barn. He and his family have made it into relative safety. He could grab a horse and ride away with his family, shooting down the FBI as he went. He could go to New Austin to gather support or to find a place to hide. Or maybe he could go to Mexico, get Abraham Reyes, the revolutionary whose quest for the crown only managed to get a start thanks to John. He could be safe there, right?

Hardly. He would be hunted down. No matter where he went, he would be a wanted man, never free. That probably wouldn’t bother John Marston; he’s been like that all his life. But his son would suffer. He would never live a life of his own, free to do what he wants without fear of suddenly being surrounded by the army, or mercenaries or bounty hunters or whoever.

So John Marston sends his family away, steps outside the barn doors guns blazing like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, knowing that he’ll die. His death brings freedom to his wife and son; they won’t be hunted by the FBI, they’re of no concern to the government. By sacrificing himself to save his son’s future, John Marston finally achieves redemption. His life, filled with crime and murder, has at last been absolved through his self-sacrifice for the good of his son.

The final twist to the whole thing is that Jack Marston becomes just like his father. You re-enter the game 3 years later, after the death of Abigail. Jack looks just like his father, bar a stunning facial resemblance to Johnny Depp, and has become exactly what John didn’t want him to be. We have no clue what to do with Jack, only an odd stranger mission off in Blackwater that becomes Jack’s short quest to get revenge on Edgar Ross, the FBI boss who ordered John’s betrayal and murder.

Jack follows leads – under the guise of a simple message carrier – until finally finding Edgar Ross at a convenient river far away from anyone. He duels him, and kills him. And with that final killing, Jack turns away and “Red Dead Redemption” is slashed across the screen. This saddening ending, and indeed the whole game, is a wonderful example of eventual true, honest redemption that unfortunately goes wrong.

A lovely touch exists that I feel further expands on the monster that Jack Marston has become exists after the end of the game. During the game you can buy newspapers throughout the plot, often with references to John Marston’s exploits. At the end of the game, you can buy only one more. It contains an article about the death of Edgar Ross, and it assumes his death was a result of hold-up by robbers because money he had on him before he died that wasn’t on his body.

When you shoot Edgar Ross, you can decide whether or not to go up to his body and search it; if you did, you’d receive $200 he had on him. This seems like nothing at the time, but the newspaper seems to establish it as canon that Jack Marston robbed this man’s corpse for any money left on him. When you do it as part of the game, you tend to not really think about the fact that you’re essentially stealing any final possessions on a man you’ve just killed, but reading that Jack took the money just cements him as exactly what John never wanted his son to be.

Just like him.
502 Views | 3 Comments

Diablo III’s Real Money Auction House is Live

Blizzard has activated the real-money version of its Auction House in the Americas region.
Using this system, you can put items found in-game up for sale with real-money price tags. If others purchase the items, you receive the profits after Blizzard takes its cut.

Blizzard has previously said it will not be listing items on the Auction House.
The idea is to let prices stabilize based solely on player supply and demand. Hopefully Blizzard is also able to ban all those who have so far been able to cheat Diablo III’s security and prevent them from taking over the market.

Even though the Real Money Auction House has gone live not everything is currently functional. While items are listed online, you can't yet sell commodities (gems, crafting tomes, and other stackable items) to others for real currency.

To be able to use the Real Money Auction House you’ll needto tie a Blizzard Authenticator to your account, as well as sign for Battle.net SMS Protect if you’re going to use PayPal.

In a forum post, Blizzard community manager Lylirra also notes, “Please keep in mind that players will be able to purchase items on the real-money auction house with other forms of payment, including major credit cards, that do not require the use of an Authenticator or Battle.net SMS Protect.”

The system of posting items for sale also appears to be unstable after reports of some users are unable to successfully post an item for sale even after taking all the necessary steps.

So far the current trend seems to be items priced around $30 to $40 with max buyouts of $250.

One player's screencap of his Battle.net transaction history shows he's already loaded his account with $2,000 in preparation.

Have you bought or sold anything yet? What do you think?
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What Are You Playing?

Here in the UK we're bracing to get hit by the tail end of a tropical storm (it's a rarity over here, so we're allowed to make a big thing of it) so this can only mean one thing - staying in and playing lots of games. GamingUnity has seen a significant increase in users this week, so myself and JurassicJunkie will be spending a lot of time making a few minor changes to the site to make it a bit smoother to use.

It's another week of few major releases here in the UK, with Lollipop Chainsaw (PS3 and 360) being one of them and Gravity Rush (Vita) being the other. Heroes of Ruin is also being released for the 3DS. There are a couple of other not so sought after releases and a couple of downloadable games out. I'm not going to mention these due to differences between regions though so as not to disappoint anyone who finds out something isn't available in their area.

When not working on the site this weekend, I'll be playing Max Payne and Minecraft whilst looking after the best 16.5 year old dog ever.

So everyone, what are you playing this Fathers' Day weekend?
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How Will Your Wallet Survive?

In this coming year we will be seeing many massive releases for the gaming industry, and I'll be highlighting a few I definitely know I'm buying. We have the usual annual Call of Duty game with Black Ops 2. It has the usual CoD Singleplayer and multiplayer, and if you didn't see that coming you are obviously blinder than a bat. This CoD will be based in the future which is a big change in there current games out. I can see why though because you don't wanna go back to revolutionary times and only have one gun to use, that would be boring. They are also showing a promising change of dynamics in zombies seeing how it is a key staple to Treyarch. The zombies storyline seems to delve deeper and actually have its own full length campaign rather than endless rounds. It will now be running on the multiplayer engine which means more players(and by that I mean 8 people!) and more zombies, so zombie fans watch out for Black Ops 2.

We also have lesser known titles such as Watch Dogs which had not been very well known until this years E3. First off I'm gonna say it has astonishing graphics. This includes the characters and the environment. One small yet great thing about this game is that it slides directly out of cut scenes to the game so you don't lose the feel of the game. It also shows to have similarity's to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, but this game involves the main character, Aiden Pearce, hacking into certain areas of the city, such as phones and street lights, to his advantage. Watch Dogs also seems to have a multiplayer aspect to it, but this is just speculation. Aiden also can see certain aspects of a person such as occupation, salary, and probability of the way people act. He also seems to be able to kick ass but you'll be better seeing that in the trailer than me explaining every part.

Another promising title is The Last Of Us. This is a zombie game obviously set in a post apocalyptic world, I know what your thinking another zombie game haven't we seen enough, but wait this game shows you actually having to survive on minimal resources making it more believable and like Watch Dogs the graphics look beautiful in this game making it even more enthralling. Like in every zombie game you have guns, but with the low amount resources you have you must use bullets wisely. The enemies we have seen so far include zombies which are infected by some type of genetic mutation of plants and there are also bandits who are just crazy people who want to kill for your resources.

We also have the Wii U console coming out from Nintendo. If you have for some reason not heard of this console get out from the rock you are currently under. The Wii U is showing promise with new dynamic for consoles with a touch screen controller. The Wii U can support two of these controllers which I see as very promising. It also can support what is known as a Wii U pro controller, which shows similarity's to the Xbox 360 controller, and it also supports Wii motion plus controllers. The Wii U also shows to have many 3rd party supporters for the console. One of those supporters is Ubisoft, and they are releasing ZombiU a game exclusively for the Wii U. It seems zombie games are a trend this year and ZombiU looks like another great step in the rise of zombie games. It utilizes the touch screen controller so you can use it as your inventory, a scanner, and a way to unlock doors through codes. We know little about the story except that it is set somewhere in Europe and I hope they don't just build up a crappy story around great game dynamics and if they do, for shame Ubisoft. Unfortunately I don't have enough time in my day(considering it's 3:30 a.m. while I write this) to talk about every release this coming year, but I hope I gave you just a little insight on games you may want to see and spend all of your glorious money on.

(Editors note - Apologies for the basic image, we're both currently at work!)
239 Views | 2 Comments

Gaming as a Learning Tool

Something interesting happened to me while playing video games this year. It wasn't a new game but rather that after playing the game for the best part of half a year I have felt like I have learnt something. This game was not an interactive study book or one of those awful educational games, this was a very enjoyable game. The game I am referring to is Victoria II by Paradox Interactive.

Before this game I had very little interest in history. I received fairly low grades in years 7 through 9 and would regularly become disinterested in lessons. The Romans, Tudors and the great war held no interest for me and I felt they had no relevance. My disinterest in history carried on through to last year when on advice of a friend I picked up a grand strategy game called Victoria 2. The first thing that hit me when I started the game up was how difficult it was. The closest game I had previously played was the total war series which in comparison had very simple mechanics. You couldn't just declare war and march into other countries land. You struggled and could be bullied around by your bigger neighbours. You had to seriously worry how war would effect your economy. You had to keep control of your populous. It all seemed to be very difficult and confusing and I nearly gave up.

These systems were of course in place to make a fairly realistic simulation of a country finding its way through the era of mass industrialization. After a few failed games where I bit off more than I could chew I decided to have a whirl with Prussia and attempt to form Germany. When the game starts you are dropped right in as ruler of your country. In the case of Prussia this is an absolute monarchy with a large level of conservatism amongst its populous. To form Germany you must unite all people of German culture group into your country or countries that you have primary influence over. This means grabbing Hannover, Holstein, Bavaria, Saxony, Baden, Württemberg and French owned Alsace-Lorraine.

The Schleswig-Holstein question was a conflict between Denmark and Prussia over the German cultured region in South Denmark. I had never heard of it before the game, all I knew about the time period was industrialization an the Crimean war, Boer war and American Civil war happened. It had piqued my interest. I wanted to know how this problem resolved itself in reality so I looked it up and in looking it up I had inadvertently learnt something. I hadn't been forced too, nothing had popped up telling me to learn it but by my own choice. I wanted to learn it. Similar situations came up on future points of the game. After I played the Alsace-Lorraine conflict against France I found myself searching for documentaries about the subject and watching them for hours on end. I searched around the library for books about the problem of Großdeutschland versus Deutschland. Then after the formation of Germany I found myself unable to repair relations with France and war seemed inevitable, something the mechanics alone forced me to realize which obviously came to bear in reality in 1914.



During this time I had become interested in History. It was something I had not expected to happen. I found myself watching documentaries about historical events for fun. If you found me a year ago and told me that a year from now I'd be doing that I would have thought you were crazy, yet here I am. With this interest came learning, I wanted to know more about the subject and that interest significantly helps you when learning something. Rather than having it recited to me in a classroom I was placed in the middle of History which is a very different prospect in keeping my attention.

Paradox releases many similar games to this and after my enjoyment of Victoria II and I thought I'd give those games a go. In Hearts of Iron 3 the inability to join the war immediately as the US was caused by one of the mechanics I was interested as to whether this restriction was realistic or not. Once again I found myself nose deep in a book on the subject. I had once again learnt this point from the starting point of playing a game not from a desk. The latest grand strategy release by Paradox, Crusader Kings 2 clearly shows that they are aware of the impact this has on their audience and have implemented a Wikipedia button next to a leaders name which sends you to the Wikipedia page for more information. Another great example of acknowledging this educational effect comes in Sid Meier's Civilization where there is an encyclopedia built into the game and information on any military unit, building, leader and nation can be found without even leaving the game.

One thing to be careful of when learning from videogames like this is that some information may not be translated into the games mechanics. While these games do (usually) strive for realism when all is said and done they are still games and still need to be enjoyable for their audience. What the games do achieve is getting people interested in their subject matter to the point where they make a conscious effort to learn about the setting, characters and events of the game from other sources such as reference books and documentaries which is far more effective than just giving that book to a person with no interest. The future of using gaming as an educational tool is unknown but their usefulness as a tool for learning is apparent to me and I hope that the future affords them greater appreciation.
298 Views | 5 Comments

Dinner Break - Amateur Progress

Mario Kart Wii in the games room at Neverblue is more than just a game. It is tradition. Since none of the racers smoke, take walks, drink coffee, or have any sense of maturity, we spend our 15 minute breaks/lunch breaks trying to prove digital dominance over a select few elite players. We all know, too well, the anticipation of pain when we hear a blue shell streaking towards the unlucky one who has managed to break away from the pack. We know the frustration when Socialist Kart reveals the true nature of the game, punishing the strong and rushing the weak to the front. The pow block? A general strike. The star? Tax break. And the greatest item of all, Bullet Bill (pronounced Boo-lay to the more refined karters), is a Bailout. We share a bond in competition, we share quiet envy of those who manage to string a few wins in a row and loudly announce the fact. We share the hate of Yoshi's Falls (seriously, the course sucks). We share many things; dreams, green shells, banana peels, but most importantly, hope.

Hope that someday, we will complete three laps without getting hit by an insane amount of unfair, un-dodgealle items. Hope that we don't make a simple mental error that will change the result from 6th place to 12th place in a blink of an eye. Hope that we get our favorite spot in the game room, sitting in chairs that were constructed either as display furniture, or as modern art. Hope that one day - one magical, impossible day - one could win all 5 races in a row against some of the most talented video game players on the 2nd floor of 1221 Broad Street. (We have selected 5 races in a match as the most optimal choice - a fine line between getting a good amount of racing in, and getting back to work before the rest of the employees wonder what we're really up to in there). The course selection is random, as are the results of each race, seemingly. Some days you'd be better off having never played the game, racing only using your nose and and feet on the controls, blindfolded. Other days you can't be stopped.

You know those days. Where you get out of bed and you can find your keys, wallet and phone without effort. You find the last parking spot. You're on time for work, you make no mistakes, everything is effortless. In sports, it's as if time slows down. You can do no wrong. Any hint of hesitation, anxiety or failure is completely erased from your thoughts. They don't exist. They never existed. Everybody else is attempting, but you are doing and not paying any notice. I was this person today. At least, I thought I was.

After fueling on mass made lasagna (which was mass enjoyed by all) we geared up once again for a one round, three laps, four player, five course battle of wills. Two's company, three's a crowd and four is Mario Kart. I picked Daisy on the Mach Bike, but this was as notable as hockey players putting on skates to play, or the rush of a crowd to swallow a home run ball. Each 1st place was easier than the last. Little to no obstruction, little to no enjoyment. I am gambling in Vegas with uncountable amounts of cash and I just keep winning. Shy Guy Beach's sand is but a distant memory of me cutting half the course using a tax break and a few mushrooms. Mario Raceway confirmed that this match would be something special as my opponents were fighting the controller, while I was seducing it. Desert Hill's heat and bumps were a welcomed friend, assuring me that I had nothing to worry about. Moonview Highway was traffic free, and all my opponents could do was make mistakes. As I quickly looked at my 3 brothers in wheels, I knew what they were thinking. Henry is going to win all 5 matches and never shut up about it. We cannot let this happen. I wish I saw fear in their eyes, but all I saw was determination. Cole, carefree when he's not pleasantly happy, tipped his hat and shifted up on his chair made of wood and rocks. Scott, ever confident and best when he's at his loudest, smirked. And Marty, to my left, stoic and understanding. And me. All I felt was my heart pounding, my hands sweating and my focus narrowing.1 more race. These were no longer my colleagues, they were my barrier.

Zach and Brianne had sauntered in, sensing something special. The talk of Ladysmith (Brianne) and white hoodies (Zach) was spoken in English, but all my ears chose to hear was the sound of the countdown to the start of the race, the screeching of tires and a sentence I should've saved for after it was all over. "This is my course." And it was. I rarely lost on the course. The endless sharp turns and corners were a fundamental advantage to me, using a manual control scheme versus my opponents' automatic. It went as expected.I leapt into first place, I got hit by 2 blue shells, but Marty wouldn't screw up in 2nd place. This is where the effortless play became concentrated play. This is where natural instincts were taken over by the visual cortex and the part of the brain responsible for fear, denial and disbelief. I started watching his 1/4 of the screen instead of mine. But on the last 2 corners, I boosted perfectly and saw the finish line. The perfect score. 5 straight wins out of 5 within reach.



It didn't happen.



...Only Rorschach could epitomize the feeling of the finish.

[Reading from journal] Daisy's Journal. November 24th, 2011: Banana peel in alley this morning, tire tread on Donkey Kong's back. The roads are afraid of me. I have seen the true Mushroom Kingdom. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of goombas and when the drains finally scab over, all the piranha plants will drown. The accumulated thrill of all their final laps and items obtained will foam up about their waists and all the racers will look up and shout "Save us!"... and the Mario Kart Wii gods will whisper "no."
288 Views | 3 Comments

3 things we wanted to tell you

We just wanted to update you on 3 things that have just changed on the site.

Writers Wanted
Two days ago we asked you to submit your articles to us via email... well, lets just say we were a little shocked at how many were sent in. We still plan to post them but we didn’t want to post everything in one go. So we will be drip feeding these over the new week.

To save us from getting another inbox bashing we have now added a “Submit Articles” page that you will see in the top right on the main page. From now on if you want to write an article please submit it via that. If you think we have missed your email then please just submit it again but via the online form, just so we can be sure not to post it twice, please mention that you've also emailed it in.

Anyone who provides constant good content will be given a writer's account so they can add Articles without waiting for us to approve them all. You will need to provide your own images for these though.

Games
We have been flooded with over 500 new game request but we noticed a lot of them were games like “Half Life”, but we already had “Half-Life” in our database and due to the way the site searched it wouldn't find you the correct results if you missed the “-” out in Half-life. So we have fixed this issue now and will be cross checking all the submitted games to double check we don't already have them in the database.

Steam
And last of all, the main reason we are all here is because we all like to play games. So NemisisX31 has kindly set up a steam group. If you're a PC user and want to play online then please join by click the link below

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/gamingunity

Thanks for everyone’s help so far, both McNandy and I are shocked (and incredibly pleased!) at how much content is now being created by you all. Keep up the good work and we will keep on building this community.
374 Views | 2 Comments

Crysis vs. Crysis 2 – Graphics & Mods

When Crysis was released in 2007, the visual fidelity and graphical effects blew away every game that had been conceived up to that point. Its developer, Crytek, raised the bar for in-game graphics, creating a new era of stunning FPS games that tried to out-do the Sci-Fi shooter. With its amazing lighting effects, realistic physics, and high-resolution textures, Crysis was (and still is) one of the greatest looking games ever made. However, as the years have gone on, other games have been able to reach, and in some cases surpass the graphical splendor of Crysis. That’s where mods come in.

With the support of modifications from the PC gaming community, Crysis continues to look unbelievable, even when compared with games released in 2012. Mods like Natural Mod and Reygel Texture pack added a significant amount of time onto the lifespan of this game and gave it a fighting chance against up-and-coming rivals. Then, in 2011, Crytek released the highly-anticipated Crysis 2, the successor to the graphical behemoth that was the original Crysis. To the dismay of many, it didn’t push their PCs to the brink, just as Crysis had done in 2007. Instead, it was heavily optimized to run on weaker hardware. There definitely was a noticeable boost in graphical quality, but due to the focus on optimization, Crysis 2 did not have the same profound effect on graphics in the gaming industry.

However, the PC gaming community came to the rescue once again. With mods such as BlackFire’s Mod 2.0 and MaldoHD Texture Pack, Crysis 2 immediately claimed the throne for the best looking game of all time. Higher-resolution textures, enhanced lighting, and more accurate shadows all were produced from these two mods, elevating Crysis 2′s graphics by a significant margin. However, the question still remained, which game looked better, Crysis or Crysis 2? Using heavily graphically modified versions of each game, I attempt to uncover just that in my video. Which game do you guys think looks better?
251 Views | 0 Comments

Did Amazon just f@#K up on the Wii U price?

The price and date of the Wii U are still not set in stone, but online retailers have started to put the console up for pre-order. ShopTo.net currently have it on for £279.85 and with a relase date of TBC.

Amazon.co.uk on the other hand have stated the Black Wii U is now on sale for £199.99 and with a release date of July 14th.

As you would expect everyone who noticed this has pre-ording the Black Wii U and it has now been removed from Amazon.co.uk

Lucky enough my girlfriend spotted this and tried her luck. A few minutes later we got the following email:

[quote]Delivery Method: FREE Super Saver Delivery
Items: £166.66
Postage & Packing: £0.00
------
Total before VAT: £166.66
VAT: £33.33
------
Order Total: £199.99


Delivery estimate: 17 July 2012 - 19 July 2012
1 "Wii U - Black"
Video Game; £199.99
Available for pre-order
Sold by: Amazon.co.uk
[/quote]

I don't believe for a second I will be getting a amazon package next month, but it will be interesting to see what they say over the next few weeks.
766 Views | 4 Comments

Should've listened to my wife

At the end of 2008, I bought myself an iMac and as good as said goodbye to PC gaming. During late 2009, to avoid watching the X-Factor or Britain's Got Talent or some such tosh, I decided to dual boot my iMac so I could install Steam again. To celebrate I purchased Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) and enjoyed the first several hours of it. However, dual booting sucks, since you can't easily share things like your iTunes music library or bookmarks, so I gave up an deleted the Windows partition.

Fast forward to May 2010 and Steam is released for OS X. knowing there was a Mac version of KOTOR that had been released on disk some years previously, I expected that it would be released very soon.

Fast forwarding again to May 2012 and I gave up. KOTOR was available on the Mac App Store and had been for over a year, and was on sale "this weekend only" so I purchased it expecting to start it at some point in the next few weeks. A mere 9 days after I clicked buy Aspyr, the company who ported KOTOR to Mac post on their blog that they have finally released KOTOR on Steam for Mac, meaning I am now the proud owner of KOTOR. Twice.

Now I only spent £9.99 and £5.50 respectively, but if I had waited just those last few days it would have been like getting the game for free!

But the real lesson here is I should have listened to my wife who said I didn't need to buy any more games at the moment. I might try that next time.
263 Views | 3 Comments

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