DIGESTIVE GAMING BISCUIT 7th April – 14th APRIL 2014

The Last Of Us

This week The Last Of Us fans were given a reason to be joyous. And when we say Last of Us fans that’s surely anyone who has played the apocalyptic adventure horror title from Naughty Dog. Following a leaked screenshot advertising The Last of Us coming to the PS4, Sony were forced to confirm that the game will indeed be coming to their newest console.

The Last Of Us Re-mastered edition will come with all DLC from the PS3 version including the prequel Left Behind that helps to fill in a few gaps in Ellie’s history. Along with the additional content the game will also feature graphical improvements thanks to the PS4’s impressive hardware. The Re-mastered edition of the game will run at 60fps as opposed to the PS3’s 30fps and will also run in 1080p.

The Last of Us

A trailer showing one of the more touching moments in the game running on PS4 hardware has been released in order to show off the benefits of buying the game again. We would link it but are such massive fans we don’t want to run the risk of ruining any surprises and lessening the emotional impact for any players who are yet to experience this classic.

To be honest though, if you are yet to play The Last of Us but don’t own a PS3 or a PS4, even though we are yet to play the PS4 Remastered edition. As per our website title “Its Not Just Graphics”, we would argue that whilst it’s nice the game is getting a fresh coat of paint, the PS3’s graphical experience is certainly strong enough so why wait. You should run out and buy a PS3 and a copy of The Last Of Us now! There are numerous other PS3 exclusives that also warrant purchasing the Sony’s previous generation console.

xbox-one-titanfall-bundle

Sony weren’t the only ones making next gen waves this week. Microsoft’s Xbox One has seen its price slashed down to just £350 by UK retailers. ASDA and Amazon have both discounted the Titanfall bundle, prior to this price cut Ebuyer and Overclockers UK, two British etailers, were selling the bundle for just £389 which was £10 cheaper than the Console’s RRP. Whilst the Xbox One’s sales figures certainly are nothing to scoff at they are trailing behind Sony at the moment so it is only natural for retailers to try and bring the price down in line with the more successful PS4 in the hope of shifting more units.

Nintendo fans also had plenty of excitement this week. Ubisoft have announced that Watch Dogs will be coming to Wii U in the Fall of 2014. This will be a huge relief to many Wii U owners as there have been persistent rumours claiming the game had been cancelled for Wii U.

smashbroswiiu3ds

There was also a Nintendo Direct announcement highlighting loads of new information on characters, gameplay, and technical details for the 3DS and Wii U versions of upcoming brawler Super Smash Bros. The 3DS version will find it’s way into player’s systems this summer while the Wii U version will arrive slightly later this winter.

super smash bros wiiu

Some critics are already calling the late release date for the Wii U the final nail in the coffin for the struggling system. Unfortunately the internet seems to forget that the Wii U has high profile exclusive titles in the form of Bayonetta 2 and Mario Kart 8 to keep players interested in the mean time and while these negative comments certainly aren’t justified, they will certainly create a lot of traffic, incite a lot of negative discussion and just add to the unjustified storm of negativity currently pounding Nintendo.

DIGESTIVE GAMING BISCUIT 31st MARCH – 6th APRIL 2014

id-05-visceral

Following our previous report about Amy Hennig leaving her position of Creative Director at Naughty Dog, Visceral games have just announced that they have have hired her to work on an upcoming Star Wars project.

Steve Papoutsis announced the hiring on EA’s official News Blog. Hennig and Papoutsis have experience working with one another at Crystal Dynamics and went on to say that he “always admired her approach to creative development – focusing on nailing down the soul of a game first, and then making sure the writing, the gameplay, the design and the art comes together to form a unified, interactive experience for the player.”

Dead Space

We are very excited that the Executive Producer of Dead Space is teaming up with the Game Director of Uncharted as both Papoutsis and Hennig have a fantastic history in helping to create immersive, atmospheric thrill rides. With both of their skills we are sure the Star Wars license is in safe hands and we cannot wait to see what they create.

This wasn’t the only announcement made by EA this week. As it was the first of April the official twitter feed for the DICE engine featured a tweet regarding the Wii U that read “Frostbite now runs on the #WiiU since it is the most powerful Gen4 platform, our renderer is now optimized for Mario and Zelda.”

Wii U

This dig at Nintendo prompted EA COO Peter Moore to issue an apology over the April Fools prank, condoning the joke and apologising to Nintendo and their fans.

Fans of micro consoles rejoiced in America as Amazon finally launched the Amazon Fire TV earlier this week and it is now available to buy. Amazon do not see the Fire TV as a contender in the battle between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Instead Amazon have marketed the system as an alternative to Apple TV.

Fire TV

The Fire TV specs are reasonable and Amazon have provided a more powerful system than the competition. Powering the Fire TV is a Qualcomm Quad core 1.7ghz processor and Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU as opposed to the single cored A5 CPU in the in the Apple TV. The Fire TV also has 2gb of RAM which is four times the amount found in the Apple TV.

The Apple TV has been designed as a dedicated streaming device so although the extra power of the Fire TV looks great for marketing the Apple TV doesn’t require the additional processing power because it’s not intended for gaming. The Fire TV has just under 100 games available at the moment with a few exclusives and more on the way from developers such as EA, Sega and Amazon even bought the studio Double Helix which developed Killer Instinct recently for Microsoft.

Fire TV

Amazon does seem to be trying to plug a niche in-between the Apple TV and the Ouya by providing a system for gamers that streams tv titles. Even though the Fire TV does come in at the budget price of $99, PS3′s and Xbox 360′s have dropped significantly in price thanks to the arrival of the latest generation of consoles and we cannot help but feel like the Fire TV is trying to plug a gap that doesn’t quite exist. Yes the Amazon TV is very sleek, tiny and won’t take up much space, but a PS3 or an Xbox 360 would give players access to the same amount of content online, plus exclusive games have an even higher level of polish and also work as a dvd/blu ray player.

Whilst we are on the subject of exclusive titles, there was a string of Halo news this past week. Ridley Scott has been named as the Executive Producer on an upcoming digital feature to be directed by Battlestar Galactica director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan. This new series is to follow the format of Forward Unto Dawn, but will not feature the Master Chief as the lead character and is also completely unrelated to Steven Spielberg’s Halo project that is being Directed by Neil Blomkamp and was announced at E3 2013.

Cortana

Microsoft will also be using Cortana as a rival to Apple’s Siri. Although Cortana will appear on Windows 8.1 phones as just a circle, she will still be voiced by  voice actor Jen Taylor who lends her voice to Cortana’s character in the games.

Armiga Project

Armiga

Videogames are fickle beasts that constantly forge forwards in technological bounds leaving all but the most savvy of gamers behind. Unfortunately in this race for technical pixel perfection it isn’t just gamers that are left behind but sadly thousands of classic titles as well.

Unlike Cinema where technological improvements see re-releases in high definition, or books appearing on tablets and phones as opposed to just print, there are a glut of old games that unless you have a copy of the original as well as the antiquated hardware to run it, there isn’t really a way to enjoy it.

Now many older games are finally being re-released via emulation with tonnes of classic titles being re-released via Steam, Virtual Console, PSN and many others but still not enough is being done in order to preserve our gaming heritage.

Many players will simply choose to use emulators, unfortunately these don’t always provide a precise experience with many roms and emu’s providing bugs and glitches or even require tweaking to get working properly. To us geriatric old farts emulators also don’t provide the authentic experience of playing on the original console. If you emulate a Panasonic 3DO you can’t easily unplug player 2’s controller when you are losing. If you emulate other systems you don’t have to blow dust out of cartridges to make anything work, you don’t get to hear the whirr of the disk drive as the machine slowly spins to life.

Armiga

We were hugely impressed when we discovered the Armiga project. The aim of the base system is to emulate an Amiga 500 using modern day components and old. Yes, the system features a disk drive just like the older Amiga 500 and will allow you to create ADF images of all of your favourite games to play in the future. A useful feature considering how badly floppy disks are known to deteriorate.

The Armiga also has a HDMI output allowing you to plug the Armiga into a new LCD tv without having to mess around with flicker switches. There are also two USB ports and an SD card reader that will allow gamers to boot games from, and there is even an Ethernet connection.

Now, having an Armiga isn’t exactly the same as owning a classic Amiga 500. There is a fair amount of custom software making life easier for gamers wanting a classic fix to navigate around their disk images. The Armiga also has the ability to boot into Android 4.2.2 and thanks to it’s powerful dual core ARM CPU it can also be used to playback HD content without any problems.

Armiga

The Armiga is currently only guaranteed to work with roughly 90 per cent of Amiga games as well, which is a fair few and the team are commited to improving this figure. They also have stretch goals that include emulation for other classic systems as well.

You might be forgiven then that this is just a way of selling a cheap Raspberry Pi computer on the back of gaming nostalgia. However with the extensive amount of work that the team are putting in to re-create an authentic retro gaming experience that a traditional piece of emulation software alone can’t provide we would argue that the Armiga project is actually looking pretty good. If the system is capable of running Android smoothly and fluidly, then the Armiga also has the potential to serve as a basic home computer as well.

If you are interested in picking one of these systems up you can go and pledge on their indiegogo site here. The retro gaming time machine will cost just $139, but we would probably recommend picking up the Deluxe Edition for $199 as this model comes with a compatible 8gb SD card with all of the software pre-installed saving you precious time in setting the system up so you can spend longer playing it. Oh, and you get a t-shirt as well giving you an extra day to put off doing the laundry.

DIGESTIVE GAMING BISCUIT: 17th MARCH – 23rd MARCH

Powers

Last year Sony announced that Sony Pictures were working on exclusive tv content for the Playstation. It has been unclear up until now what kinds of content Playstation owners could expect but it was finally announced this week that the first show will be a drama called Powers.

POWERS

The show is to be based on the police procedural graphic novel of the same title, which was written by Brain Michael Bendi and drawn by Michael Avon Oeming. There are to be ten episodes in total and we hope that it is successful, for while this content isn’t specifically related to videogaming, it is nice for providers to start creating content aimed directly at gamers. At the moment in terms of on demand titles there is very little mainstream content aimed at people who play games.

Powers

Steam this week also released the free to watch documentary called Free To Play. It follows the lives of three professional Dota 2 players in 2011, as they all compete for a $1 million prize. The documentary doesn’t focus too sharply on the details of DOTA and you don’t have to be an expert on the game in order to know what is going on. Instead the film uses the passion of each of the players to fill in any gaps, and each player’s backstory is just as intriguing as the competition itself. Free To Play also looks at the commercial success that eSports have seen in countries such as Korea and China as a result the documentary manages to explore many aspects of professional gaming which will appeal to a wide audience.

Free To Play

Sony and Steam aren’t the only ones providing custom made video content for their users. Microsoft have long been working on a large number of shows and  have even teamed up with Steven Spielberg who is producing a Halo series. A documentary series is also in the works that charts the legendary failure of the E.T. videogame by Atari.

E.T.’s sales were so bad in 1983 that according to urban legend Atari were forced to dispose of a huge number of the unsold cartridges by burying them in the desert.

ET Atari 2600

Fuel Entertainment and LightBox Interactive who are making the documentary want to excavate Alamogordo landfill in New Mexico looking for the buried chache of retro games. Unfortunately their excavation permit was denied on Thursday this week due to concerns of toxic substances that may be unearthed if the dig were to go ahead.

It’s fantastic to see Sony, Steam and Microsoft forge ahead with creating custom tv content for their audiences. For too long there has been little to no games coverage on TV in the UK, so now with the advent of on demand viewing it looks like gamers are finally going to receive the content that they have been denied for so long. You never know we might get really lucky and Games Master might see a revival.

Gamesmaster

Review: Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2

Sniper Ghost Warrior 2

Call of Duty Modern Warfare completely redefined the wartime fps. Gamers seeking an orgy of death, mud, blood and bullets were usually catapulted backwards in time to fight as the allies in the second world war because developers were too afraid to put anything in front of your cross hairs other than an Alien, a Demon or a Nazi.

So when Infinity Ward set their bombastic war franchise Call of Duty in the modern day whilst dressing up Hollywood effects as gritty realism, it was like the rules for the fps genre had been completely re-written.

One of the most revered levels of Modern Warfare was All Ghillied Up, this was to be the obligatory stealth level. Just like every single platformer seems to be required to squeeze in an underwater level. With FPS titles developers seem insistent on behaving like angry librarians and ‘shushing’ us for an entire level. Forcing us to undertake laborious tasks as opposed to blowing things up and causing carnage, which we all know are the best bits of games.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 2

‘All Ghillied Up’ was different though, Infinity Ward took away the thinking by giving us a commanding officer to follow. We basically just had to do what the angry soldier told us to and feel like real spec ops officers crawling under lorries, and knifing enemies whose only crime was to have a cheeky cigarette.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 2

Without being forced to look at a radar to check we weren’t encroaching the enemy’s field of vision, or grip the crouch key slowly moving up stairs at a pace that would make a Stenna stair lift look like Concord, players were taken over by a level of tension seldom seen in games. Although Infinity Ward walks players through the level holding them by the hand, it’s a pretty impressive level that drips tension like an M60 spits bullets.

It is abundantly clear that All Ghillied Up had a huge effect on CI games because the Sniper: Ghost Warrior franchise seems to be built entirely around the concept of creating a tense, realistic thrill ride snipe ‘em up.

It is funny how things have changed, I remember when Sniping and Camping were the bane of the online community and how teenage virgins would curse the Sniping Camper for their misfortunes before threatening to locate the Sniper’s home via IP address and do horrible things to their mother.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 2

CI games have cemented what they learnt from their first foray into the sniping action genre when they created the amusing but average game Sniper: Ghost Warrior, and made the just as amusing, yet equally forgettable Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2.

The story is the same sort of nonsense you’d get from one of those action films with a gurning pensioner on the poster. Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Sylvester Stallone have been duped by their best friend who they shared an illustrious career with and now (enter inferiority complex creating Adonis of your choice here,) wants revenge.

While I type this I can’t help but feel like I am being a tad condescending towards SGW2. Action films are perfect escapism, and some are worth watching for the special effects alone. As Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 uses the CryENGINE 3, the same graphical powerhouse used for Nomad’s adventures in Crysis 3, Ghost Warrior 2 looks absolutely stunning.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 2

CI games have also done a pretty good job in pacing the action of SGW2 and play never feels formulaic, despite most levels following the same, sneak in, get the perfect spot, shoot a bunch of guys when the shit hits the fan pattern. There are certainly some brilliant moments and watching the bullet cam after setting up the perfect shot and seeing the bullet fly a mile in a matter of moments before embedding itself in a shower of ‘realistic gore,’ is disturbingly satisfying.

However, Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is over incredibly quickly, our Steam account measured a little over 4 hours of play before reaching the end of the game. And that was with a fair amount of tea making. This was probably the major factor in SGW2 not feeling repetitive.

The story whilst not being very original, had managed to take a leaf out of CoD’s book and set itself over a period of time and places, as a result each section of the game had its own distinct, if not slightly clichéd feel. This helped give the game a greater feeling of variation.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 2

What CI games seem to promise from their sales bumph on the steam page is that Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is a sniping simulation that has taken the best elements from Battlefield and Call of Duty and created a thoughtful shooter heavily based in realism.

What they have actually done is made a shallow thrill ride of a title that looks better than most military shooters, but is ultimately forgettable due to the shallow gameplay, and short play time. If you are a PC FPS fan looking for the next ARMA 3 or just have a masochistic love of simulators, then Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is not for you. Still, if you have fond memories of Crawling around with Captain Price in the undergrowth then I would recommend adding this to your Steam wish list, if it comes up in a sale for £3.99 its worth all 300 and 99 of those pennies.

6/10

System: PC (AMD 8320 CPU, AMD ATI 7970 GPU, 8GB RAM)

Bought From: Steam £3.99

DIGESTIVE GAMING BISCUIT: 10th MARCH – 16th MARCH

BAFTA

Well it was the videogame BAFTA awards this week and some of the biggest names in gaming and the smallest names in TV descended upon London.

The Last of Us managed to successfully clean up winning five awards in total including Best Game.

The Last Of Us

Rockstar were also bestowed a huge honor by being presented with a fellowship award. It was probably the presenter as much as the award that gave the presentation so much prestige. Whilst Neil Druckmann, Bruce Straley and Evan Wells were delivered the Best Game award from a rather confused Carol Vordamen. Hideo Kojima had been wheeled out in order to present Rockstar with their BAFTA fellowship.

Hideo Kojima BAFTA

Shots revealing a revised gamepad for the upcoming steam boxes were released this week. Whilst the track pads remain in place of two thumbsticks, the planned touch screen has been removed and replaced with a variety of buttons. Have a look at the image and let us know what you think on twitter @itsnotjustgraphics. We are reserving our judgement. When the Dreamcast was released we shunned the controller only to discover just how far ahead of it’s time it was when we finally used it.

Steambox Controller

As previously reported South Park: The Stick of Truth was censored for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 in Europe. However, there is clearly enough demand for the uncensored version as Gameseek have started to stock import copies of the PS3 version. Import gaming is no longer the black art it used to be for the playstation. Gone are the additional add ons, soldering and switches that were required to play games from different regions as the PS3 is region free for games. For anyone looking to dip their tows into the next generation of consoles. Gameseek are also potentially selling Xbox Ones for just £299.99, all you have to do is sign up to their buyer power promotion an await that email for when the item goes on sale. If you invite enough of your friends to purchase one, you may just get an Xbox one for free too.

gameseek

Indie gaming fans scroll down and have a look at the video from indie dev Heart Machine. Via Sony they have just launched a trailer for their upcoming nostalgi inducing, pixelated RPG called Hyper Light Drifter. The game almost seems to have mixed the visual styles of Journey and Ico and then put the result into a special pixelating machine. The music is also incredibly atmospheric and we cannot wait to get our hands on a copy.

If you enjoyed that video and fancy some more visual stimulation It’snotjustgraphics’ video channel has released it’s latest video and you can view it here.

Video – Snowboard Kids

With the recent Mario Kart hype, a lot of people have been referring back to what is arguably the best title in the Mario Kart series. And that is Mario Kart 64. However, we can’t help but feel like there is another contender for the best racing game on the N64, and no it’s not Diddy Kong Racing.

Check out our latest video and allow us to explain why Snowboard Kids is the best racing game for Nintendo’s 64 bit beauty.

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