Elan Awards announce Honourary Award Winners for 2009

Vancouver, BC – April 6, 2009 – The 3rd Annual ELAN Awards announced today that their first year of arranging industry and media online-voting at IGN.com for their three Honorary Awards was a great success. The voting closed on Friday and the winners are:

For “LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT in ANIMATION“, Hayao Miyazaki is a prominent director of many popular animated feature films.

For “VISIONARY AWARD” for VFX, Paul Debevec is a researcher in computer graphics at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies.

For “VIDEO GAME HALL of FAME”, Shigeru Miyamoto. Considered by his peers to be the greatest video game designer in the world and called “The Spielberg of Video Games” by Time magazine (May 1996), Shigeru Miyamoto serves as the creative force behind the world’s most popular and enduring video games for Nintendo hardware systems.

The three Honourary Awards will be presented at the upcoming ELAN Awards hosted this year by Tom Kenny, the famous voice of “SpongeBob SquarePants©”, on Saturday, April 25, 2009.

See the full list of awards and nominees.

Review: Obulis

Review: ObulisWhat do you get when you add Balls, Pots, Chains, Rope, Catapults and Physics? You guessed it you get Obulis a Puzzle based games using gravity, chain reactions and cannon fire to move the coloured balls across each board in to the corresponding coloured pot.

When I first installed Obulis I sat down intending to play a few boards before dinner and ended up playing for over half an hour. Quickly I found this game to be both addictive and challenging. Game play consists of selecting a rope (right click) and cutting it (left click), thus stating the events that will drive the rest of the board forward.

Starting off with some simple and easy boards – drop here, role there – and steadily progressing to to significantly harder boards as you move into the later ends of the boards. Boards requiring multiple roles, cascades and timed swings to get your balls from their start point to their final destination. Obulis also lacks any story or reasoning for all this rolling, swinging and transfer of motion but if your looking for puzzles without reason you in luck.

Casual puzzle gamers are going to love Obulis because it offers interesting and interactive backgrounds, over 150 boards and realistic physics. But be warned that you will spend a lot of time repeating the advanced boards as you have to time putting the balls in motion or firing them out of the catapults to start the proper chain reactions. One small misstep or early/late click and your going to find your balls rolling into the wrong pot or off the bottom of the map.

Pros:

  • Puzzle Lovers Dreams
  • Tons of levels
  • Addictive Gameplay

Cons:

  • Aggravation with timing – too early/late
  • Lack of story line

Feed Your Console gives Obulis: 7 out of 10

Obulis is available from Steam for $9.99.
Published by: Meridian4
Developed by: IonFX

Break Free From The Cords

So you have Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero World Tour, and Lips. With each new game bundle you get a separate microphone, and all of these are now laying about taking up space. Well it is time to celebrate, your problems are coming to an end. Go forth and break free from the cords.

Microsoft recently announced that the newly released Guitar Hero: Metallica and Rock Band 2 will be among the first music titles to support the Lips wireless microphones. Lips microphones are equipped with motion-sensing technology and built-in LED lights that flash along with your performance.

Microphone compatibility will first appear with support for Guitar Hero Metallica. A title update this summer will also activate microphone compatibility with Rock Band 2. Expect additional titles supporting the Lips microphones later this year, only on Xbox 360.

Happy singing!

Great White North Gears Edition

Canadian nights in early April are usually temperate and hover around the freezing point (0°C or 32°F for our US friends), but last night things got significantly colder around here. I’m talking about Jade hosting the Gears of War 2 Canadian Gamer night featuring the Snowblind Map Pack (referred to as the “Great White North Gears” in the Xbox forums) DLC. A great time was had by all… now lets get down to the business of reviewing these maps.

Gameplay will be one you’re already comfortable with, nothing much has changed in the way of sound effects, weaponry or controls. What you are going to find is visually you will see a light but continual snowfall slightly obscuring your vision and an even more grey environment.

The Map pack is extremely small in size – only 83MB for all 4 maps, compared to the 116MB for Halo 3 Cold Storage Map (yeah 1 map) and the 485MB for the Halo 3 Heroic Map Pack. For 800 MS points these maps will not disappoint.

Courtyard is perfect for massive gun fights, chainsaw duels and grenade tossing. This wide open map provides lots of cover locations, but very few that cover you from more then one side, leaving you open to flanking and attacks from higher ground. Featuring an underground bunker with two openings that can be defended by a team of players working and communicating well together you will find yourself protected from the high lob of a grenade and the pounding of mortar shells. Your team can easily triumph from this position. But stand back if your targets force you into the open as you be in for an all out blood bath resulting in high casualties on both side of the war.

Under Hill presents you with what looks like an abandoned parking lot. With tons of cover from parked cars, guard rails and elevated walkways (in the tunnels). Keep your head down and move quick all while trying to pin your opponents and prevent them from moving in on you flank. Finding your way to the high ground can be reward in itself, but beware of damage to your exposed skin… It’s cold out there and doesn’t offer much in the way of coverage.

Grindyard places you in an heavy industry recycling park with elevated walk ways and several place to local your team sniper. A central tower and two elevated platforms, one on each side of the map, give good map coverage for defensive purposes but beware the are only two ways out of the tower – the way you climbed up and dead. Likely my favourite map in the pack because of the design and layout providing you plenty to work with and a huge area to station your team for a strategic win.

Last but not least, the fan-favorite Fuel Depot. Your going to find youself running through the warehouse, the hanger and even across a helicopter landing pad. Understanding the layout of this map is essential as it’s likely the smallest map in the pack. Making matches played here fast and vicious. Find power weapons like mortars or the Hand of God to quickly eliminate your opponents on this level.

Pros:

  • Download size amazingly small
  • Great designs and 3 huge maps and 1 small fan favorite

Cons:

  • Grey, grey and more grey
  • No snow trails or accumulation effect

Big thanks to Jade, Buckstop, Sgt Degandi and the Xbox PR team for hooking us up with maps and a great evening!

Quebec law to prohibit English-only games if French version exists

Sadly this is not an April Fools Joke… File this under “WTF are they thinking?”

The Toronto Star is reporting that effective Yesterday (April 1, 2009) it is now illegal to sell the English-only version of a game if a French version is available to consumers. This is in a move to “promote and protect the French language” quotes the Star.

This has given concern to many of the retailers in the province, some even thinking this will drive them into bankruptcy.

While talking to the Toronto Start retailer Ronnie Rondeau said “I’m afraid it’s going to cost me my business… If it really was going to make a difference, I’d be for it, but only a small number of people want to play in French. The rest don’t care.

Major concerns retailers are facing surround the all to common delayed release date of French translations, the example provided by the Star states that Rockband’s French version was released 6 weeks after the English title – it missed the holiday season. For many, ordering online or driving to another province could be an option to get the game on release day.

Could this stop the release of Games to Quebec all together, or will 6 weeks delay give retailers a buffer where they can sell the only version they have available.

PlayStation 3 Software Update Version 2.70

Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) recently announced the details for the next system software update to ver 2.70 on the PlayStation 3.

The list of included features address how users can communicate with their online friends. The update will provide a new chat features enabling users to chat with their friends on the PSN as well as enhancements to the friends list and improvements to the video services available from the PlayStation Store.

  • The new text chat feature allows users to participate in up to three chat rooms, of up to 16 users, at the same time and will be available while playing PS3 games.
  • Enhancements to friends lists are also coming, where by online friends will still be sorted in alphabetical order and offline friends will be sorted by when they were last online.
  • File transfer sizes will also be increased so users will be able to attach larger files (increase from 1MB to 3MB) to messages sent to their friends.
  • Lastly the update will make significant improvements to the video services on the PlayStation Store. Video files purchased from the PlayStation Store will be available for backup to an external drive and videos purchased on your PSP can be transfered to the PS3 for playback.

To check out a video of the firmware 2.70 features, visit PlayStation.blog. Further details and instructions on how to update the PS3 system software are available on Sony’s System Update page.

Review: Fallout 3: The Pitt

Recently Bethesda released the newest expansion chapter to their multiple awards winning game Fallout 3. As a veteran of Fallout 3 (PS3 version) and labeling it as Game of the Year last December (I will be posting a new review shortly for this site), I just had to play through these levels even if it meant picking up a 2nd copy of the game for the 360.

Weighing in at almost 500MB and only 800 Microsoft points, you get an extra 3-4 hours of gameplay which, in my opinion, is pretty damn good especially when you consider that some games can be finished in that amount of time for a heck of alot more money.

The Pitt has you helping out a runaway slave named Werhner who tells you that he needs help obtaining a cure to the mutations that plagues his people. From here he takes you to what is left of Pittsburgh. When you get to Pittsburgh, you’re tasked with infiltrating the slave camp and finding a fellow slave and engaging in the quest to meet The Pitts Raider Boss, Ashur.

Once inside, you’ll instantly get the feeling that you’re not in Kansas anymore. The Pitt is as beautifully drawn out as the rest of the game even under all the grit, soot and dirt that seems to cover every inch of the level. It looks simply amazing. Once inside, you’ll get to experience a variety of things such as new weapons, a new kind of enemy threat in the form of the mutated slaves (not your average Ghouls this time folks) and a few new locales.

Without going into too much detail on what you encounter story wise, I will tell you that as in all the other quests within the game, you’re faced with a variety of moral choices and as the saying goes “Who will you become?”

It’s nice to see that the production value and standards from the rest of the game translate to the DLC. There’s plenty to do and see for such a small amount of money and in this day and age you want value for your dollar. This is truly an awesome addition to an already epic tale. I can’t wait to get into Operation Anchorage and the next chapter, Broken Steel, which is slated to come out sometime this April-May.

Feed Your Console gives Fallout 3: the Pitt: 10 out of 10

Sony Announcement: PlayStation 2 Now More Affordable Than Ever

Well, it wasn’t the often rumored PS3 price cut that the masses keep talking about, but, Sony has issued a release lowering the PS2 down to $109.99 CDN.

Here’s the official release:

PLAYSTATION®2, THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM, NOW MORE AFFORDABLE THAN EVER AT $109.99 CDN

FOSTER CITY, Calif. March 31, 2009 – Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) today announced that PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system will be available starting April 1 for $109.99 CDN (MSRP). Since launching in 2000, PlayStation 2 has sold more than 136 million sell-in units worldwide*, making it the most popular system in gaming industry history. PlayStation 2’s vast library of games from all genres for all types of audiences will grow to nearly 1,900 titles this year. This breadth and depth of content along with the new price point make the platform a stronger value than ever, particularly for families, casual gamers, and those seeking to maximize their entertainment dollar.

“PlayStation 2 set the industry standard for worldwide mass market adoption and is a clear embodiment of Sony’s commitment to platforms that deliver 10-year product lifecycles. It’s a tribute to outstanding technology, great consumer value and unprecedented development support that we’ve now been able to do twice what no one else has ever accomplished,” said Jack Tretton, president and CEO, SCEA. “Demand for PlayStation 2 remains strong throughout the world, and the new $109 CDN price point will bring in new consumers who will discover how PlayStation platforms are an outstanding choice for their gaming and home entertainment needs. Just as PlayStation 2 is delivering on a 10-year lifecycle and helped expand and solidify the DVD format for home entertainment along the way, we believe PLAYSTATION 3 offers the same promise by helping secure the Blu-ray format and delivering unprecedented value as the total home entertainment solution for the next decade.” SCEA will continue to support PlayStation 2 system with new titles that appeal to families and casual gamers looking for social entertainment experiences. First-party games such as MLB® 09 THE Show™ and MotorStorm®: Arctic Edge as well as major franchise titles from SCEA’s publishing partners demonstrate the continued growth of the platform’s library of content. In addition, more than 250 best-selling PlayStation 2 titles have achieved “Greatest Hits” status, providing consumers with plenty of games to choose from at value pricing.

PlayStation 2’s impact on the industry is unmatched, as the platform played a key role in establishing the popularity of the most recognized and beloved franchises in history, including Guitar Hero® from Activision, Metal Gear Solid® from Konami Digital Entertainment, FINAL FANTASY® from Square Enix, Grand Theft Auto™ from Rockstar Games, as well as Gran Turismo™ by Polyphony Digital Inc. and Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios titles, including God of War® and Ratchet & Clank®. In recent years, this stellar lineup has expanded to include an extensive list of social games and family-friendly titles such as Buzz! ™ and SingStar®, which have helped usher in new types of consumers into the world of gaming. During its lifespan, PlayStation 2 system not only has pushed video gaming to the forefront of entertainment, but it also introduced the concept of an entertainment system becoming a hub in the living room. PlayStation 2 was the first home computer entertainment system to integrate DVD technology, and the rapid growth of the install base helped establish DVD as the standard optical disc media format worldwide. Featuring both DVD and CD playback capabilities, PlayStation 2 system has served as the entertainment centerpiece in many living rooms.

PlayStation 2 remains the most played computer entertainment system on the market, according to a December 2008 report from The Nielsen Company. Last year, PlayStation 2 became the first system in history to reach the 50 million sell-in unit sales milestone in North America, making it one of the most successful technology products ever. PlayStation 2 system was previously available for $129.99 (MSRP).

*Sell-in numbers as of the end of December 2008

Gears of War 2: Snowblind Map Pack


The “Gears of War 2” Snowblind Map Pack Add-on is available for download on Xbox LIVE Marketplace starting today for 800 MS Points.

The Snowblind Map Pack brings us four new multiplayer maps and nine new achievements for an additional 250 point.

Grindyard is a massive industrial complex located in a junk-processing plant from the days of Sera’s industrial excess.

Under Hill takes players through snowbound tunnels that were once billed as a feat of Seran engineering.

Courtyard is a wide-open battle royale containing explosive weapons that once formed the heart of Ephyra’s fashionable Civic Center.

Fuel Depot, back by popular demand, Fuel Depot is a “Gears of War 2” remake of the fan-favorite “Gears of War” map, but winter has set in and the depot is now covered in a blanket of snow.

Here’s the complete list of achievements, points and descriptions:

  • Rookie Gear” (10 points): Earn enough multiplayer experience to reach level 5 (Public only).
  • Seasoned Gear” (20 points): Earn enough multiplayer experience to reach level 15 (Public only).
  • Battle-Tested Gear” (30 points): Earn enough multiplayer experience to reach level 25 (Public only).
  • Battle-Hardened Gear” (50 points): Reach level 50 and play a match on each of the four Snowblind Map Pack maps (Public only).
  • Veteran Gear” (75 points): Reach level 100 and win a match on each of the four Snowblind Map Pack maps (Public only).
  • Never Eat Red Snow” (20 points): Complete waves 1 through 10 on all Snowblind Map Pack maps in Horde (any difficulty).
  • Icy Dead People” (25 points): Complete waves 1 through 50 on any Snowblind Map Pack map in Horde (any difficulty).
  • Frigid Body Dynamics” (5 points): Play a multiplayer match on each of the four Snowblind Map Pack maps (any mode).
  • The Weather Outside Is Lethal” (15 points): Win a multiplayer match on each of the four Snowblind Map Pack maps (any mode).

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Collectors Edition


Now’s your chance to give feedback directly to the publisher behind Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Today on Twitter @Naughty_dog asked:

Been discussing the potential of a Collector’s Edition for Uncharted 2 — Do you want a CE? What would you want in it?

Here is what I would want to see:

  • Exclusive DLC for Collectors Edition
  • Fold out Map/Poster (Double sided)
  • A special edition super-posable 7″ Drake figure w/ accessories (Gun, Belt Buckle, Compass, Treasure, etc…)
  • Character art and/or comic book
  • Uncharted 1: Drake’s Fortune

Post a message to twitter with the hash tag #u2ce and Naughty_dog should pick it up. Don’t have a twitter account? Then leave us a message and we will post it for you.