Archive for November, 2011

Greatest Gaming Theme Songs.

Posted: November 27, 2011 in Games

Games have always had an interesting¬†variety of music. From Sonic to Mario, Pac-man to Tetris. Music has always been an important part of the overall¬†experience and¬†the theme music from these great titles will stick with us forever. However, brilliant as it all was back in the day they wouldn’t hold up very well¬†against¬†what’s on offer today. Some of the greatest music in entertainment can be in found today’s huge selection of games, and although background music is incredibly important, it’s the theme song that sticks with us. Especially if it’s used in the right way. Here’s three examples of moments in games where I’ve been¬†completely emerged into the world, thanks¬†largely to the clever use of the games theme song.

The Halo series took music to a whole new level.

Halo 3.

It’s true what the voice-over guy said on the new Halo anniversary trailer, “ten years ago Halo changed the way we play video games.” ¬†What he didn’t mention was that it also changed the way we listen to video games. Starting off slow with a slightly¬†religious sounding chant and ending up with tribal style drums and singing, all backed up by members of the¬†Chicago¬†orchestra, the Halo theme song really gives you the¬†sense¬†that the ring world of Halo is an¬†extremely¬†ancient place with hundreds of years of secrets waiting¬†beneath the surface.

The theme song is implemented into the gameplay very often through the Halo series but there’s only one moment for me that 343 industries are going to have very hard time surpassing. The final stage of the game is similar to that of Halo: Combat Evolved, though¬†instead of trying to escape an exploding ship, you’re¬†trying to escape an exploding planet. Epic. As you drive your Warthog at high speeds jumping off ramps over¬†devastating¬†explosions, avoid falling towers and watch in horror as roads and bridges¬†collapse around you¬†revealing perilous drops, all complemented by the¬†incredible theme music, this really is one best uses of Halo’s theme song and over all, one of my favourite moments in the Halo series.

Shooter of the year? I think so.

Gears of War 3.

I’ve always thought of Gears of war’s theme song as the imperial march of video games. It’s just got that powerful, military feel to it. The song isn’t really used at all during gameplay moments of Gears, it’s used more for the cinematic side of things during cut scenes. Which is why it’s that much more effective when it’s used at the end of the Gears 3 campaign during a gameplay section. It’s been over fifteen years since Marcus has seen his Father, that whole time he was¬†believed¬†to be dead, you find out towards the¬†beginning¬†of the game that he’s still alive and you fight your way through the levels trying to get to him. It’s the last mission, you find yourself at the top of a huge, skyscraper of a building, the elevator doors open, there’s twenty maybe thirty angry locust between you and the reunion you’ve been fighting for since the beginning. Cue the theme music and you’ve got most heart pumping fight of the game. The¬†difference that song makes whilst actually playing is so inspiring, it’s enough to bring a tear to your eye. It honestly makes you think ” we’ve got this far, nothing can stop us now.”¬†This is a perfect example of how a theme song can¬†completely¬†change¬†how a game feels, because¬†technically you’re doing the same thing you’ve been doing for the last ten hours, slap the¬†theme song on it and it’s like having mash instead of roasties, they’re still potatoes, they just taste¬†different.

If you didn't know there's dragons in Skyrim...............there's dragons in Skyrim.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

If you haven’t played Skyrim yet then you’ve probably heard of it. If you haven’t heard of it then you have no¬†business reading this blog, go on, get out! The music of Skrim captures the world beautifully, soft harps are played as you ¬†wonder through the forest chasing¬†butterfly’s,¬†¬†drums are beaten as you run for your life from giant, man eating spiders. There’s always a piece of music in there ¬†that seems to capture the moment, especially when¬†facing dragons. You can always tell if a dragon is near even before you see it. It may be the flapping of it’s heavy wings tearing through the air, it may be the¬†ferocious sound of it’s roar (similar to¬†Jurassic¬†park’s T-Rex), it may be that the ground around you starts to shake as it lands somewhere close by, or it could be that Skyrim’s epic theme song kicks in¬†which is only triggered when a dragon has you in it’s sights and moves in for the kill. Once the music starts and you are going toe to toe with with one of these mystical beasts, you can get truly lost in this game. You see it often in movies,¬†¬† a protagonist reaching the end of his journey and trying to over come his greatest enemy. In Skyrim this happens every time you face a dragon and I can honestly say that each time is always more exciting than the last thanks¬†largely¬†to the to way the theme song makes each battle feel like you’ve reached the ultimate climax only to move on, find another dragon and do it all over again. It really is one of the most powerful theme songs in gaming history and one that really creates a dramatic and pulse racing battle between man and beast. Go and have a listen on youtube, or better yet, buy Skyrim. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

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Skyrim or MW3?

Posted: November 6, 2011 in Games

In just a few days time MW3 will hit store shelves and people will be¬†piling up like lemmings to get their copy. Call of duty is one of the most well known franchises in video game history, but is it time they quit while they’re ahead? Or will they stick to the same old copy and paste routine until their devoted fans clock on to their sly and¬†dastardly ways? In all honesty I used to love CoD, It was the most intense and realistic shooter I had played. I can still remember the¬†exhilarating feeling I got from crawling through the grass with Captain Price in our¬†ghillie suits, while surrounded by a brigade of soldiers and tanks!¬†But¬†somewhere along the lines they’ve lost touch with the realism and turned the beloved shooter into just another FPS riddled with more carnage and¬†mayhem than a¬†bad¬†Michael Bay movie. These days most of the die hard CoD fans only play the game for one reason, the multi-player. ¬†CoD multi-player is fast, fluid and a lot of fun and what they do, they do well. Now though, it just seems to be getting old. Yes it was fun when it first came out but has the game really changed that much since MW1? No. Spawn, get a kill, die. Rinse and repeat. I’m sure the game will be worth a play at some point but I’m in no rush. ¬†In six months time Call of Duty Future Warfare or Space Warfare or some kind of warfare will be out and I’ll pick this up Pre-owned for a tenner, which is a gutting thought for the chap in America who just purchased a leaked copy of the game for a whopping $1725. Muppet.

Is MW3 the game for you?

Just three days after the release of Activision’s 8 hour long shooter, Bethesda’s 300+ hour¬†behemoth of a game,¬† The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is unleased to wreak havoc upon our social lives. Yes, that’s right, Bethesda game studios have confirmed that with the main quest, the side quests and enough exploration to turn Bear Grylls into a hermit, that Skyrim will have well over 300+ hours of glorious gameplay.

Gonna slay me some dragons.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, the Elder Scrolls games are first person-action-adventure¬†RPGs¬†known for giving the player complete freedom to play as they see fit. If you want to spend you time hunting deer in the woods, you can. If you want to raid¬†dungeons and tombs, you can. If you want to take part in drinking game at the local pub, you can. maybe you want become a thief or a murderer? You can if that’s what floats your boat.¬†In Skyrim’s main quest you are Dragonborn, A dragon slayer apointed by the Gods to fend of the threat of¬†Alduin, the Nordic god of destruction. Taking the form of a gigantic dragon, Alduin is prophesied to consume the world with his servants, the Jills (a race of black dragons). Set two hundred years after the previous Elder Scrolls game (Oblivion) players will be able to explore the vast world of Skyrim, from the blizzard engulfed mountain tops to lush, green forests, there’s thousands of secrets to uncover and hundreds of hours of gameplay to enjoy, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the¬†fascinating world that is Skyrim. This game is looking so amazing that it could¬†in fact¬†be enough to cure my wife’s locust head popping addiction. Bless her.

Skyrim comes out 11-11-11

Will you part with £40 for some  mediocre, military mayhem?

Or some dragon slaying, dungeon raiding exploration?

7 Updates to Battlefield 3

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Games

Dice has just¬†rolled out an update that fixes a few¬†issues on Battlefield 3’s multiplayer. Here’s the list as seen on their blog.

1) QUICK MATCH FUNCTIONALITY
Status:
 Improved! Try it out and leave your feedback on the Battlelog forums

Since we rolled out the server patch yesterday, we have seen a big increase in quick match functionality on consoles. You should now be able to join a quick match the majority of times without any issues.

However, please make sure to check that you are matched against servers in your own region by following this guide for the console server browser. If not, this could potentially have a negative impact on lag and rubber banding. We will keep working on improving the quick match stability and reliability further.

2) JOINING SQUADS AND STAYING THERE
Status:
 Fix pending in the very near future

Some people have experienced difficulties joining and staying in squads on console. We have identified the cause of this problem and will hopefully have a fix ready to roll out very soon. You should then be able to stay together in your squad throughout the game. Please follow this guide for how to create and join squads prior to starting a match, which is the quickest and most reliable way to make sure you play with the right people in the right game. We will return tomorrow with an update on when this fix is live.

3) HARDCORE SERVER AVAILABILITY
Status:
 Improved! Try it out and leave your feedback on the Battlelog forums

We know you love your hardcore mode. We have identified and eliminated the problem that made our hardcore servers disappear after being live for a set period of time. You should now find plenty of Hardcore servers to join.

4) LAG AND RUBBER BANDING
Status:
 Fix just rolled out. We are positive this will improve the situation. Help us verify by playing Caspian Border and Tehran Highway on Conquest!

Some users are experiencing lag and rubber banding, mostly tied to Conquest mode on Tehran Highway and Caspian Border. This was due to a bug in the network code that has been identified and eliminated in today’s console server patch, resulting in a big improvement in these cases. For PC, this issue was improved in an earlier server patch.

However, please make sure to check that you are matched against servers in your own region by following this guide for the console server browser. If not, this could potentially have a negative impact on lag and rubber banding. We will keep working on improving the quick match stability and reliability further.

5) DEFAULT REGION SETTING IN SERVER BROWSER
Status: 
Fix pending in the very near future

Some players, mostly in the US, may have had their default region setting in the server browser set to Europe, which would lead to unnecessary lag and rubber banding. This would incorrectly also affect your quick match attempts. This will be fixed shortly. You can still manually use the server browser and set the desired server region to any region you want.

You might also want to follow this guide for how to best take advantage of the features in the console server browser. That way, you have total control over what game mode and map to join, and on what server.

6) GAME STABILITY
Status:
 Greatly improved! Leave your feedback on the Battlelog forums

In today’s server patch, we also made numerous fixes to the overall game stability, including the elimination of two of the most frequent game crashed we have seen reports on. You should see an increase in game stability from now on.

7) ORIGIN INSTALLATION AND AUTHENTICATION ISSUES
Status:
 Fix pending in the very near future

Since the launch of Battlefield 3, Origin have implemented a host of improvements and will continue to do so as long as gamers are playing Battlefield 3. The next Origin update is scheduled for early November and includes a number of critical updates that will fix most of the problems that people have experienced. For the latest updates, answers, and support from the Origin Team, please visit the Origin Help Center.

The Origin Team will continue to appreciate any and all feedback and will address it as quickly as possible. Please go to the Origin Help Center for support directly relating to Origin.

Once again, thanks for playing, and thanks for sharing your feedback with us at DICE and EA. Let us know how you are enjoying the game now that the fixes mentioned in this blog post have rolled out or will roll out in the near future. We are passionate about supporting all our games for a very long time, including Battlefield 3. This is just the start.

 

If you have any feedback at all, please visit Battlelog and let us know what you think in the forums available there.

For support, head to our Battlefield 3 Help Center, where you can see the answer to the most frequent questions and live chat with our game advisors.

Karl Magnus Troedsson

General Manager, DICE

Gears of War 3 gets free DLC.

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Games

Epic has announced that a brand new free DLC pack for Gears of War 3 will be arriving later this month.

The Versus Booster Map Pack¬†¬†adds five new maps to the public matchmaking list — two from the original¬†Gears of War¬†(Swamp and Clocktower) and three from the recently-released Horde Command pack¬†(Azura, Rustlung and Blood Drive).

Some of you may remember ‘Swamp’ as ‘Bullet Marsh’ which was part of a DLC pack for the first Gears. The map was a figure-eight shaped area with dark muddy swamps on the lower part and¬†slightly lit roads and huts above.

Players that have already purchased the Horde Command Pack¬†will retain exclusive access to the pack’s fortification upgrades, additional characters and weapon skins.

One more downloadable pack is in the works for an end-of-the-year release. Raam’s Shadow¬†will be available for purchase December 13, the last pack offered before the new year, with more expected in 2012.

The Versus Booster Map Pack will be available for download November 24.