Friday, 30 April 2010


Greetings everyone...I am glad to announce that the brand new Transmissions form the Void website is up and running!!!! Therefore any future news and articles will posted up on there. Thanks for the support over the last few months on Blogger and come and check out the new site....Cheers James and Adam

*** Take me to the New Transmissions from the Void Wesbsite***

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Musings from the Void - Weekly Update 24/03/2010

Nintendo 3DS - Nintendo have announced yet another handheld console in there DS line-up, the Nintendo 3DS. The difference? The clue is in the tittle - it will incorporate 3D technology. The device will not require users to wear 3D glasses (a technology that already exists in some handheld devices but is not suitable for televisions) and will be backward compatible with DS/DSI software. Some unconfirmed features have also been mentioned by Japanese retailers including a new joystick, force-feedback and increased battery life. Talking to the New York Times a spokesperson for Nintendo advised "We wanted to give the gaming industry a head's up about what to expect from Nintendo at E3".

Game Room - Xbox 360's Game Room has been released today for free download over Xbox Live. The application that allows users to create a custom arcade for both there own and friends avatars to hang-out in will also support achievements. A complete list can be found at Xbox360Achievements and interestingly it will contain the same amount of Gamerscore points as a full retail game. This is not the first time whereby a free application has supported achievements, notably 1vs100.

LittleBigPlanet 2 - Despite months of rumours, Sony's Marketing Manager has confirmed that LBP2 is under development and will support the PlayStation Move motion controller. The news comes as a surprise since last November Level Designer for Media Molecule confirmed "we'd never want to do that (LBP sequel)" and described it as "counterproductive". Hopefully something more concrete will emerge at E3 although it is unlikely that the game will be a launch tittle for Move if it was not even being developed in November last year.

***UPDATE 25/03/2010***

Sony have now put out the following statement, which basically denies the existience of LBP2!

"As demonstrated recently at GDC, LittleBigPlanet has been shown as an example of how an existing game could benefit from PlayStation Move Motion Controller support. This is not a confirmation of LittleBigPlanet 2, and we do not have any announcements to make about the LittleBigPlanet franchise."

Killzone 3 - On the back of the LBP announcement, Jack Tretton (President of Sony Computer Entertainment America) whilst talking about the viability of Microsoft's Project Natal, has promised that Killzone 3 will be developed for PlayStation 3 owners. No other details have been confirmed, even whether the game is actually currently under production, but it's good to know it will happen.

Just Cause 2 - The review embargo for Just Cause 2 was lifted yesterday. The game provides players with a 400 square mile island of beach, mountain and jungle in which they are tasked with the 'simple' mission of hunting down a rogue agent who has stolen classified information. The game prides itself in creating fun, physics based experiences coupled with over-the-top stunts and base jumping. So far the game has an average review of 82%, with IGN stating "I haven't had this much fun with an open-world game in years". Having played both the original Just Cause game, and the Just Cause 2 demo, I really recommend (along with Crackdown 2) you give it a try.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior - IGN have provided an in depth look at Sniper, a new game for the Xbox 360 and PC. Despite being a budget tittle, the game looks promising and sports some very impressive visuals. Stealth is key, complete with a puzzle-like approach to deciding the best time to execute guards and gather resources without being detected. Currently the game is not scheduled for a release outside the US but hopefully if it meets expectation and sales are good, we will see a European release later in the year.

Transformers 3 - Michael Bay, director of the Tranformers movies, has confirmed that the Ferrari 458 will make an appearance in his next film. Shooting of the film begins next month (April), and Bay promises a more 'character-centric' approach to filming after the critically dismissed Tranformers 2.

PlayStation Move - Kotaku have posted two new videos of Sony's Move in action, specifically focusing on content manipulation in an augmented reality. The videos are not able to be embedded here but I recommend you visit the site and check them out as they are very impressive.

Project Natal - Have a small living room or lounge like me? Well you may be disappointed to hear that according to some sources Microsoft's motion sensor Project Natal will require 13 feet of space to play - which is quite allot of room. Although this is clearly going to be an issue to some (especially as it looks like my Xbox will be moving to my bedroom), it's not that surprising given the type of technology being used to track multiple persons full bodies.

BioWare - Curiously a count-down timer has appeared on BioWare's website. Due to expire on Monday it appears on the Mass Effect and Dragon Age sections of the site (not the Star Wars: The Old Republic area). A new game perhaps? Mass Effect on PS3? New DLC? We will have to wait to find out.

God of War III - As posted on Facebook/Tweeted earlier today, a curious video can be unlocked by completing GoW III on Spartan Mode tittled "Fate of the Titan". It contains some mild spoilers but is well worth watching as seems to show elements of the franchise (namely Chronos the Titan) in a modern setting.

and finally.....

Gamesmaster - James (a.k.a King_Of_Metal) has set-up a Facebook group to try and bring back the classic video game TV series Gamesmaster. As he mentions with games more popular now than ever it seems the perfect time for it to return (so long as Patrick Moore also makes an appearance!). You can become a fan here.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Musings from the Void - Weekly Update 19/03/2010

Xbox 360 - If rumours from Joystiq are to be believed, the next Xbox 360 firmware update will allow users to transfer game saves to USB mass storage devices. To date, only Microsoft's Official Hard Drive and Memory Cards could be used with the console - a particular hindrance to those who have maxed out the entry level 120GB drive.

Final Fantasy - The thirteenth entry into the Final Fantasy series have only just launched and already there is talk about where the franchise is heading next. The director and producer has stated that Square Enix are interested in a sequel (i.e. FFXIII-2). Whilst it was never in doubt a new game will be made, it will be a very rare occurrence to see a direct sequel as most of the releases are stand alone tittles. Apparently sales of the game will ultimately determine the outcome, especially in the West. FFXIII has received mixed reviews but the franchises stellar reputation is already ensuring healthy global sales - especially in Japan.

Perfect Dark - The Xbox Live exclusive release of the N64 classic Perfect Dark is now avalible for download. So far reviews have been excellent (currently a Metacritic average of 83%) with praise on improved frame rate, online/offline multiplayer and co-op. In addition game mode Counter-Ops sees the player attempting to complete single-player levels whilst other players take control of the various enemy guards. Sounds like an essential, nostalgic, purchase!

God of War - Today (or National Kratos Day as its now known) sees the European release of PlayStation flagship tittle God of War III. As advised in last weeks Musings, reviews have been very positive. In addition the high regard for the franchise will ensure a healthy release day sales for existing PS3 owners. Some concern has been raised however that the current shortage of PS3 consoles may have some impact on the games performance, but personally I find it difficult to believe the game will not hit the top of the games chart. Both me and King_Of_Metal will be playing the game until "stupid-o-clock" tonight!

Mass Effect 2 - Before the first piece of Downloadable Content (DLC) has been released, Bioware have already announced details on the second pack to hit PC and Xbox Live. The DLC will see the final member of Shepard's squad, Kasumi, a female thief (more romancing perhaps?). Here is the press release and pictures:

The galaxy's most enigmatic thief Kasumi has enemies everywhere, but only a few could put a face to her name. Not much is known about her, other than Cerberus has contracted her to assist Commander Shepard in the mission to save mankind. In exchange, she requires help with a dangerous heist to infiltrate the vault of a deadly criminal known as Donovan Hook.

Predators - A sneak peak at Robert Rodriguez Predators was recently released. The film sees a band of humans transported to a Predator world where they are being hunted in a 'game reserve'. Check the website today as the official trailer is now avalible.

and finally.....

Rock Band - As of yesterday players of Rock Band can download a cover version of Lady Gaga's Pokerface performed by South Park's Eric Cartman (oh yeah!). Whilst not likely to test your skills to the limit, it's probably worth checking out for a laugh!

Screw you guys... I'm going home!

Sony 'Move' Presentation at GDC '10 - Overview and Thoughts *UPDATED*

On 10/03/2010 at 12am GMT, Shuhei Yoshida, President of SCE Worldwide Studios, hit the GDC stage in San Francisco to unveil Sony's Motion Controller. While it was originally announced at E3 last year it wasn't till earlier this week that it was officially given a name. Over the past 9 months it has been referred to as the 'Wand', 'Magic Wand', 'Sphere', 'Gem' and most recently 'Arc', however on Tuesday last week it was officially named as Playstation 'Move'.

In his opening gambit Shuhei Yoshida announced that motion control had finally come to the PS3 and the precision, accuracy and responsiveness of Move means that it can handle hardcore games as well as the the casual, social games that uptil now have dominated the motion controlled gaming landscape.

After the initial intro Peter Dille (Senior VP of Marketing and PSN) took the stage to give an overview of the performance of the Playstaion brand over the last 12 months. The obvious games were mentioned, Uncharted 2, Killzone 2, Heavy Rain etc as well as the release of the Slim and price drop but there were two bits of news that were of interest to me - The first was that there are a 'few surprises' still to be announced at E3 and the second was that GT5 will ship this year! Now, while there was no commitment to a specific release date I am assuming it will drop before the festive period. (Update - Sony have since announced that a release date will be announced 'very soon', so stayed tuned!)

It was also confirmed that the Move would released in several different bundles, with the Starter Bundle being available for less than $100 (that'll be $99.99 then!). The 3 bundles announced were as follows:
  • a starter kit with a PlayStation Eye, a PlayStation Move motion controller, and a demo/sampler disc,
  • a full PlayStation 3 console pack with a PlayStation 3 console, DualShock 3, PlayStation Eye, and PlayStation Move motion controller, and
  • bundles of a PlayStation Move motion controller with select games.
While there was no pricing for the other packages it was also confirmed that the Move controller would be available separately for those that already own the Playstation Eye (like myself). While on the surface it doesn't seem too expensive the price starts to rack up if you wanted 3 or 4. Later in the show it was also confirmed that Move would be getting its own wireless 'Nun-chuck' style attachment, imaginatively titled the Sub-Controller (or 'Sub'). I can't imagine that this will bundled with the main controller 'free of charge' either so it must be competitively priced if it really wants to compete with Natal. However that said you will be able to use a SixAxis Controller as the 'Nun-chuck' instead of a 'Sub' (Update - Apparently, while not confirmed during the conference, Playstation Move is limited to four controllers on any one PS3 System. Therefore that is either 4 main controllers or two main controllers and two 'Subs')

The Half-way point of the presentation saw the appearance of Scott Rohde (VP of Product Development, SCEA) who gave a walkthrough of several launch games. Prior to the demonstrations he did state that the Move "latency was on par with that of the Sixth Axis Wireless Controller". This has since been disputed buy some members of the press who apparently got hands-on experience in the Arcade at GDC. However from what i saw during the demos it did seem pretty spot on with regards to the responsiveness. I guess most of us won't know until it is finally released at the end of the year. I am pretty sure the 'Natal lag Vs Move lag' debate will continue even after both have hit the shelves!...Please note that many of names of the games are only working titles and the demo's running are all a pre-Alpha code.

The first live demo was of Gladiator Duel, one of several games contained within 'Sports Champions' - Sony's answer to Wii Sports. As the title suggests this is a fighting game that sees you battling various enemies in a gladiatorial arena. While the graphics weren't mind blowing, I don't think this element was the main focus. The main thing I noted was that there was Move duel wielding; one Move controlled your sword and the other the shield. I genuinely thought this was quite exciting and it will bring a new level of accuracy to games where you need to control both hands. (Update - Since GDC photos have also been released of the Archery game within this package)

Up next was Table Tennis, another game from 'Sports Champions'. My initial thought was that it looked identical to the Wii namesake. However after seeing the demo it quickly became apparent that the ability of the Move to handle more subtle movements means that the gameplay is more realistic as you have hugely increased control over the bat/paddle. During the demo we saw the Move coping with various shots including, forehand, backhand, slice and top spin...all quite promising.

Sport Champions was followed by Move Party - this looked very much like a cross between Mario Party and WarioWare (which is never a bad thing!). In Move Party you use the Move controller along with the PS Eye to create augmented reality, not dissimilar to Eyepet, whereby you are displayed on the screen and the controller is transformed into a particular object that is required to play the level/game. The audience were shown 4 mini games - Bug bash, Painting, Wacky Barber Shop and Blown Away. In each mini game the playstation Move is the case of Bug Bash the Move is cleverly replaced on screen by a Fly Swatter, in Painting its a paint brush, Wacky Barber Shop some clippers and Blown Away a fan. This was quite impressive and did look like it could be a great game to play with a few friends and a couple of beers. The basic tech housed in this game has already been seen in Eyepet (released last year) and it really impressed me then. Hopefully the addition of Move and the additional development time means that the tech we saw in its infancy last year can really be built upon.

The next demo saw the focus switch from new games to existing franchises. Sony have already confirmed that a lot of existing games will/can be updated via a patch to support Move. The game on show at the GDC to demonstrate the Move compatibility was LBP. In the demo shown one player controlled Sackboy and the other controlled switches, objects and the environment using Move. This demo was interesting as it put a slightly different spin on the established LBP co-op play. Whereas normally in the LBP multi-player it can get quite competitive with the various players trying to collect more stickers or points than the other the implementation of Move means players will have to play together if they want to complete the levels. While this looked fun it had the feel of a game that's had motion control bolted on as an after thought. While this is obvious as LBP has been out 18 months I am not sure if LBP will benefit from the addition of Move. However it is going to be interesting to see how Move is used in other existing titles such as Killzone etc.

The final batch of demo's/trailers saw the appearance of Eyepet (I don't know if it was suppose to be Eyepet 2 or an 'upgrade' to the first game), SOCOM 4 and Motion Fighters. With regards to Eyepet I'd imagine Move simply replaces the 'Magic Card' - which I thought worked really well anyhow. Motion Fighters , while initially it looked like a Wii Boxing, Super Punch Out clone as the demo went on it showed promise. This was another game that had duel Move controllers and each controller represented the hand/fist of the fighter on screen. The graphics were obviously a massive improvement over the aforementioned Nintendo titles. During the demo we saw various moves demonstrated including hooks, upper cuts, a very cool spinning back fist/elbow and even a head-lock with some dirty boxing. While it remains to be seen if this is worthy of a full game price tag it would make a really nice addition to a sports compilation style package (a la Sports Champions). The final demo saw the unveiling of SOCOM 4 and what Sony referred to as the hardcore game element. This for some is the reason why the Move may have the advantage over its competitors. It is claimed that the accuracy and responsiveness of Move means that motion controlled FPSs will be and are possible on the PS3. While it was hard to tell how responsive and accurate the move was when it came to controlling the reticule in SOCOM 4 it did look pretty spot-on and I will be watching this one over the next few months. Whether players will chose this control method over the traditional game pad is another story all together!

I know since its launch much has been said about the lack of serious/hardcore games on the Wii and in turn much has been said (since the announcement of the newly named Move) about the use of the Move in more 'serious' gaming but would games like God of War or Call of Duty really benefit from having motion controls? While initially it would feel quite exciting and different I really think that it would get tiresome quickly and I really don't think hardcore gamers would permanently swap their SixAxis for Move. Saying that I believe there is room for both traditional, serious games and more casual, party games in anyones collection. Come the Autumn when the public is able to get there hands on Move/Natal we will be able to make own minds up as to whether HD Next Gen Motion Controlled Games really are the future. JB

PS. For anyone that did not have a chance to see the presentation last week then I have posted up the live stream for your viewing pleasure.

Live TV by Ustream

Minority Report style Tech Demo - This looks very cool!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Xbox 360 Review: Mass Effect 2 (Spoiler Free)

The original Mass Effect, released over 2 years ago on Xbox 360 and PC, provided a rich and compelling single player experience praised by critics. The game raised the bar for similar games, but it was not without it flaws. Long loading times and often weak vehicle side missions marred the full experience, distracting from the high quality core game play it offered. With Mass Effect 2, Bioware have done an amazing job listening to the fans and have improved on every conceivable part of the original Mass Effect to create what quite possibly is the best single player experience on the Xbox 360 to date.

The story centres once again around Commander Shepard, and his attempt to save the known sentient worlds from extinction at the hands of the Reapers. Players will scout the universe assembling an elite team of different individuals (some human, some very alien) in an attempt to take the fight to the enemy. These individuals are all unique and well constructed. The voice acting is superb (Martin Sheen, Seth Green, Michael Beattie) and character animations convincing. Mass Effect 2 has built upon the conversation trees used in the original game, it is now possible for players to directly interrupt conversations and perform Paragon/Renegade actions. These choices even more so than before, can have dire implications to the outcome of the game, and encourage multiple playthroughs to witness the different outcomes.

The world created by Bioware is rich and diverse, steeped in fictional culture and is very easy to get lost in. Even the side missions offer compelling plot and intrigue. Most impressive is that players of the first Mass Effect game can import there character, carrying forward both traits and any decisions he/she made previously. Characters who recognise you from before will remember the choices you made previously and respond accordingly which is an incredible feeling of immersion.

Mass Effect 2 is likely to consume upwards of 30 hours of your time completing the game and its various side missions. Long gone is the need to roam empty planets looking for resources. Instead players scan planets for resources from ship orbit, occasionally picking-up on radio signals of areas to explore. Once one of these signals is found you can venture to the planets surface and investigate. Any resources gathered can then be used to purchase upgrades for Sheppard, the squad or even your ship - the Normandy. It is worth noting however that mining resources is not likely to be to everybody's taste. Whilst I personally believe it is a better approach to planet exploration than the methods used in Mass Effect, I can appreciate that some may find it laborious. Luckily it does not have to be a large part of the game, and can be mostly overlooked if required.

The visuals of Mass Effect 2 are excellent, characters are very detailed and the size of the worlds rendered impressive. Occasionally Mass Effect 2 will suffer from some texture drop-in, but this is far between and does not distract from the general game play. I particularly liked the use of lighting to create moody environments, especially in the various clubs and bars you will visit.

Another good thing about Mass Effect 2 is that you do not need to be a die-hard RPG fan to enjoy the experience it offers. The game has an easily accessible levelling system that is not over-complicated and means that players can tailor there own character to their style of play. The options available for customisation range from combat focused firefight techniques to tech and biotic skills.

The combat is one of the best features of the game as it is tight and responsive. The cover system and third-person shooting is similar in quality to Gears of War, it is easy to use and the level design complements it perfectly. Taking cover, running and jumping over obstacles can all be achieved through a single button and the directional pad; leaving you time to focus on gaining a tactical advantage over your enemies. The weapons are much more varied than in the original game and, as mentioned before, can be upgraded to improve accuracy, damage etc.


Mass Effect 2 is a technical wonder and improvement on it's predecessor in every way. In my opinion no other game on the Xbox 360 has offered more compelling storylines and varied missions, coupled with a great combat system that is both responsive and easy to use. No matter what style of game you enjoy, Mass Effect 2 offers something for everyone and with downloadable content already available (and more to come), complete with the incentive for multiple playthroughs - the game will last you a very long time. Perhaps the one drawback is that people who have not played Mass Effect will not experience the technical feat that importing your character has to offer, that said it should not be a reason to overlook this game which in my eyes is one of the best next-gen games so far.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Musings from the Void - Weekly Update 11/03/2010

God of War III - The review embargo for God of War III was lifted earlier in the week and unsurprisingly the results have been very positive. Currently the game sits with a 94% average score on Metacritic - with a good number of "perfect" scores. Hints at DLC also indicate that Kratos fans may not have heard the last of him yet.

GDC 2010 - This week GDC kicked-off, the games expo featuring conferences from video game developers. Most notably was the full reveal of the PlayStation Move controller - a motion sensitive device that promises to offer a more accurate experience than the Nintendo Wii. The controller was demoed running with a variety of games including a Wii Sports-equivalent tittle, LittleBigPlanet and notably SOCOM. At GDC it was also confirmed (unsurprisingly but it's good to know!) that Gran Turismo 5 will launch this year. Check back soon on Transmissions as King_Of_Metal promises a full GDC round-up.

Mass Effect 2 - The first DLC pack for Mass Effect 2 has been confirmed, with a release date of "Late March". The content includes 5 new missions and access to the Hammerhead - an assault vehicle that hovers over the battlefield and has a missile launcher system. Not only does this add a new, fresh take on Mass Effect game play, but the content will also be free via Cerberus Network.

Medal of Honor - EA's veteran shooter is following in the steps of its bigger brother Call of Duty by moving into modern times. The game, due to release Q3 2010, will send players into modern-day Afghanistan. The game will place you in sensitive mission types where you are tasked to blend into your environment, suggesting a good-deal of stealth game play. The multiplayer portion of the game will be handled by DICE studios, famous for the impressive Battlefield series.

Fable III - According to VG247, Monty Python/Fawlty Towers veteran John Cleese is to lend his voice to Fable III. The comedian and actor will voice your butler, as confirmed in Peter Molyneux's GDC conference. Other news confirms that players of Fable III will be able to sell weapons and items online, and that the finishing moves have been made particularly gruesome this time around.

and finally.....

Stargate Universe - The second half of SGU returns this April and MGM have released a new trailer, and it's guaranteed to get you excited! Check out clips of the first true alien encounter and space battle for the Destiny - good times to be a geek!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

PS3 Review: Heavy Rain (Spoiler Free)

I remember reading about this game when I first bought my PS3 in the autumn of 2007 and at that point there were only a few screenshots floating about but the quality and atmosphere and tone that emanated from those few shots caught my attention straight away. As the months (and years) passed and the video game landscape became more and more cluttered with 3rd tier CoD rip-offs my desire to play this game grew. When it was finally announced that this Sony AAA title was finally to be released in February 2010 I was ecstatic.

The story centres around four protagonists involved with the mystery of the Origami Killer, a serial killer who uses extended periods of rainfall to drown his victims. Ethan Mars is a father who is trying to save his son from being the next victim, while investigative journalist Madison Paige, FBI profiler Norman Jayden, and private detective Scott Shelby are each trying to track down clues to the Origami Killer's identity.

You won't be surprised to learn that a game that has been advertised as an 'interactive film' is indeed very cinematic. Saying that the game draws from several mediums including TV (Dexter) and comics (check out the sequence in the nightclub where the owner is talking to a shadowy 'Rorschach'-esque figure)

Before release there were many comments made by David Cage saying that the game is all about emotions and choices. Now if i was being honest when I read that I really didn't know what to make of it and really didn't think that you could get that emotionally involved in a game, regardless of how good the graphics and characters were. However I am glad to say that I was wrong. For once, we have a game that is all about the story, atmosphere and characters. The combination of the rain soaked setting and some genuinely disturbing set pieces it feels it could easily be the lovechild of Saw and Seven (Se7en?) - cheery this game is not!

It is a truly original and ground breaking game where you genuinely feel that the choices you make all have consequences. Certain sections of the game are incredibly tense. However while the effects of your decisions can been felt there are obviously not infinite choices. While there are several 'linear' sections they never feel restrictive or signposted. Furthermore it is also perfectly paced, from the completion of mundane daily tasks at the start (to familiarise people with the controls) to the nerve shredding climax it has the pacing of a well main film.

As the game is story driven I was very angered to hear (see 'Musings...' - 25/02/2010) that a few selfish individuals had leaked the ending online prior to the games release. This news annoyed me for two reasons:
1) I wanted to experience every twist and turn as the creators had intended without the knowledge of knowing what happens always in the back of mind, potential guiding my hand and dictating how I play it and,
2) The leaking of plots points could effect the sales of the game (as people might not bother buying it if they know what happens) and could result in developers/publishers being more reluctant to take a chance on exciting, fresh, story driven titles in the future, which would be bad news for anyone with a interest in video games.

With the risk Quantic Dream took with the gameplay (none more evident in the fact that all four main playable characters can die) and unusual controls it could have fallen flat on its face. However it has all come together perfectly and with its numerous QTE sections and what some may describe as 'limiting' controls on paper it really shouldn't be this exciting! Before its release most concerns were surrounding the control system. Personally I liked the controls and they complimented the game play and make you feel that you are genuinely in control of the characters. Instead of the usual pressing 'X' or 'R2' to open a door you have to move the joystick/or even joypad in a fashion that simulates (roughly) the required action. The use of the Sixth Axis is brilliant and suits the game perfectly. It becomes apparent pretty quickly that the game was built with Sony's new motion controller ('Arc'?) in mind. However the delay in Sony's new hi-tech peripheral hasn't hindered Quantic fully realising their dream.

While it could be argued that this game is nothing but a fancy 'point and click' mixed with Dragonslair all topped off with sumptuous graphics, it would be doing it a huge injustice. While my first play through only took me about 7-8 hours it doesn't end there as there are still many hours to be had replaying the game and seeing how the story pans out after making different decisions. To be honest its one of the only games I've played in recent times that I've wanted to play through again almost immediately on completion.

With its top notch graphics, great use of sound and compelling story line this is a definite must for all PS3 owners and the first great PS3 game of 2010. (JB)