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Conduit 2 Review

No High Scores

My review of Conduit 2 went live yesterday at the mothership. You should go and read it, but in short, I didn’t like the game. Not at all.

I quite enjoyed the first one. Sure it was somewhat generic, but the controls were good, I liked the story and the enemies kept me on my toes. With the sequel, High Voltage took most of the things I liked about the game and threw them completely out of the window. The cool conspiracy story was replaced with what, I still don’t know, as you hopped around the globe trying to harvest the souls of dead aliens for your little globe, eye thingy. Meanwhile DC was destroyed and aliens were about, along with other faceless bad guys, why they don’t tell you, assuming you played the first game and remember every little detail. The game also had the tendency to swarm you with a lot of really annoying melee enemies, seemingly to get around having to program enemy AI.

Worse still, they took the serious tones of the first game and replaced it with an attempt at humor that fell completely flat with me. Humor is a tough thing in games and some of the reviews I’ve read praised HVS for going the B-movie route, as those reviewers really enjoyed the jokes. When I read those reviews, I wished I had played the game those people had played because what I played was filled with dumb one liners and plodding attempts at self-referential video game jokes. I don’t have a problem with B-movies, House of the Dead: Overkill was filled with B-movie aesthetics and that game was so brilliantly hilarious I still can’t believe it got made.

So yeah, I didn’t like Conduit 2′s single player story but the multiplayer was still solid, as were the controls, hence the C rating. Grading these games are hard at times because you have to take into consideration why people may be buying the game. I have no interest in multiplayer in the game, so for me the single player is more important, but if MP is done well, I can’t ignore it. If the game were only a single player game, the grade would probably be lower.

This was a game I really didn’t want to dislike and I was very disappointed with how it turned out. I like the people at High Voltage. They’re all incredibly nice and I have had nothing but good dealings with them. We recently had the game’s designer and producer on Jumping the Shark and other than them sounding like they needed a nap, they were stoked about the game and were great to talk to. Part of me, a very small part, feels bad about having them on the show and then rating the game badly, not just for them, but for our listeners. My hope is that no one listened to the show and then didn’t read any reviews before buying the game, thinking us having the HVS people on the show was an endorsement for a game none of us had been able to play yet. I don’t think we have that much pull. Besides, actors and actresses appear on talk shows all of the time, shilling movies that end up being crap and no one assumes that the host of the show is endorsing the movie. At least I hope not.

Still, though, there is some unease involved in having people on your show to talk about a game you don’t have first hand knowledge of. In those cases, we let the guests talk about the game, and then try to delve into the development and design process rather than have us gush about something we haven’t played. The flip side to that is had we waited to play and grade Conduit 2, would the people from HVS want to come on the show to talk about their game? Probably not. So it’s hard. We don’t have the same access to early builds like a bigger site would, but when a company like HVS asks us if they can come on our show, we want to have them on. I don’t know how HVS feels about the review, or if they feel like their coming on the show would result in a good score. I certainly have no reason to believe they did and we certainly gave no indication that we’d be anything than 100% honest about the game, so I feel like all of our bases are covered.

At the end of the day, they made a game that wasn’t as good as it could have been and I graded it accordingly. That’s what I get paid for and who does or doesn’t come on the show has no bearing on that. Admittedly I would have felt better about giving them a good grade, but the game didn’t warrant it, and doing the easy thing would do my readers and listeners a disservice. Ultimately, my credibility as a reviewer, along with the credibility of the site and the podcast, is more important than taking the easy way out.

Notes from the EA Conference Czll

I love these things.

Basically all of these conference calls or “investor” calls are a company’s way of talking to the press, and its investors, without anyone saying anything in return.

At the plate today is EA.

So here’s what we gather from EA’s recent call activity:

1) Star Wars: The Old Republic “could slip into 2012″ which I think surprises no one.

EA’s Frank Gibeau said: While we fully anticipate launching Star Wars: The Old Republic in Q2 or Q3, the low end of our guidance range assumes the outside possibility of a January launch,” So…it may come out when they plan or it may… not. Got it.

2) Battlefield 3 is Bad Ass and is so much better than Call of Duty.

Ahh big company, multimillion dollar franchise selling catfights. More from Frank — drop some knowledge on them brother:

We know we had a big competitor, but head-to-head with Call of Duty in Q3, we have the superior game engine, superior development studio and a flat out superior game… Come and see for yourself. We’ll be showing brand new code and features at E3, I encourage everyone to make time for Battlefield 3.

I love the smell of pom poms in the morning.

Assassins Creed: Revelations Has Three Times the Stabby Goodness

No High Scores

Assassins Creed is one of those series that I have enjoyed more and more with every entry. I played the hell out of the first one, too much really, as the mundane side missions and excruciatingly infuriating “kill ten guys across the map in three minutes” missions made me want to assassinate the game’s designers. I held off on AC2, despite everyone telling me how awesome it was until shortly before Brotherhood came out. Then I played it and loved it. I waited on Brotherhood, fearing I would be worn out on the series, but finally played it early this year and loved it as well.

What this has taught me is a) don’t wait to play AC when the next one comes out and b) stabbing a dude through the neck after hurtling off a building to the sounds of an eagle’s cry never gets old. This month’s Game Informer breaks the details about the upcoming Assassins Creed: Revelations, a game which features all three assassins: Altair, Ezio and Desmond as well as new weapons, new locales, a customizable multiplayer game and some explanation on just what in the hell happened at the end of Brotherhood. The game comes out in November, adding to an already crowded buffet of potential gaming greatness.

The PR is below:

Today, Ubisoft announced the development of Assassin’s Creed Revelations, the fourth installment in the critically acclaimed and immensely popular video game franchise. Developed and led by Ubisoft Montreal with the support and expertise of Ubisoft studios Annecy, Massive Entertainment, Quebec, Singapore and Bucharest, Assassin’s Creed Revelations presents the most immersive experience available in the series to date and the culmination of Ezio’s adventure. The game is set to release on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC this November.

In Assassin’s Creed Revelations, master assassin Ezio Auditore walks in the footsteps of his legendary mentor, Altaïr, on a journey of discovery and revelation. It is a perilous path – one that will take Ezio to Constantinople, the heart of the Ottoman Empire, where a growing army of Templars threatens to destabilize the region.

In addition to Ezio’s award-winning story, the acclaimed online multiplayer experience returns, refined and expanded, with more modes, more maps and more characters that allow players to test their assassin skills against others from around the world. The latest chapter in the Assassin’s Creed saga also includes revolutionary gameplay, allowing players to manipulate the construct of Desmond’s memories and the Animus to decipher the mysteries of his past and gain insight into the future.

“Delivering the final chapter of the Ezio trilogy is an important milestone in the Assassin’s Creed franchise for us and for our fans,” said Alexandre Amancio, Creative Director at Ubisoft Montreal. “Assassin’s Creed Revelations includes lots of new features and some significant surprises. We can’t wait to show our fans what we have in store at E3 this year.”

Additional details on Assassin’s Creed Revelations can be found in an exclusive feature in the June issue of Game Informer Magazine, available this month.

For more information on Assassin’s Creed, visit: www.assassinscreed.com and www.facebook.com/assassinscreed.

Lord of the Rings War in the North Gameplay Trailer

This new trailer shows more gameplay footage from the upcoming co-op hack fest from Warner Bros. We’ll likely get a better look at this one at E3. Right now the game is tentatively scheduled for an August release.

Get Access to Age of Empires Online Beta

Still want to get in the AoE Online beta? Microsoft is opening the doors this weekend.

Details below:

The team at Microsoft Game Studios wants to make sure everyone who wanted to get into the beta for “Age of Empires Online” gets their chance before they close it to the public, so they’re opening up access to get fast-tracked into the beta for 48 hours only this Thursday-Saturday.

If your readers didn’t get a code last week (I can assure you, they did not) here’s their chance! Simply visit http://gamesforwindows.com/ageofempiresonlinebeta between 9:01am on Thursday, 5 May and 9:01am on Saturday, 7 May.

During this time, the Games for Windows Marketplace will prompt you to sign up for a Windows Live ID and download the beta immediately – no waiting.

For more information about Age of Empires Online, visit ageofempiresonline.com

GOG Spring Update = Free Game and More

You know, or should know, that we’re all huge fans of Good Old Games. In fact we’re going to be talking to some GoG-Folk on an upcoming JTS podcast. (That’s called a teaser in the “biz”.)

The website has received an update and with that — you get a free game. The game is Dragonsphere, which I admit I never played. But hey — free game. It’s a Microprose point and click adventure made in 1994. I assume it contains dragons and quite possibly various spheres.

PR below:

GOG.com (http://www.gog.com) is entering the Spring season with another site update, introducing new features, and a surprise for all GOG.com users: a totally free classic from Atari – Dragonsphere.

As announced during the presentation on CD Projekt Days Spring Conference, the update adds two highly requested by users improvements: a new downloader application and personal messages. The new downloader has been made from scratch by GOG.com developers and features multithreaded downloads for performance, automatic error checking and runs only when the user is downloading something from GOG.com. The downloader is not a client application and is optional to use, although recommended for downloading big games, like The Witcher 2, for example.

Personal Messages, the second biggest feature of the Spring Update, is a combination of instant and private messaging. The system will have fully configurable privacy settings and just like the downloader is completely optional. Aside of those two changes, the team has introduced many various improvements to make the user experience even better – those include improved checkout system, update to work flawlessly on newest browsers and easier to use coupon system.

**

It’s time to lobby the GoG people to get Kohan on that service. All of this talk of Section 8 and Timegate has me hankering for some real time Kohan action. Get it done guys!

Sega Announces Guardian Heroes for XBLA

This is more in Barnes’ wheelhouse but Sega is re-releasing the 1996 Saturn hit for XBLA this fall. (The above image is from the old game.)

PR Ahead:

SEGA of America, Inc. and SEGA Europe Ltd. today announced the upcoming re-release of Guardian Heroes, a classic Action-RPG Brawler by developers Treasure. Originally released for the SEGA Saturn in 1996, Guardian Heroes has been re-mastered with enhanced graphics, online co-op and battle modes, all-new modes of play, and more. The game will be available via Xbox LIVE Arcade for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft this fall.

Guardian Heroes brings the Saturn favorite to life with new HD graphics, presenting Treasure’s iconic fast-paced gameplay on a new generation of hardware, with all of the convenience of purchase via instant download. The game also features:

* Action-RPG Brawling: Choose one of five heroes to level up and guide along a branching storyline with five different endings
* Friends, Foes, and Fighters: Play the game’s Story Mode alone or with a second player, or challenge Versus Mode with up to 12 players at once
* Extended Gameplay: Time Attack Mode, Arcade Mode, Arrange Mode and more allow players to explore every nuance of 45 different fighters
* Fully Re-Mastered: All-new graphics and visual effects bring the classic to life in a completely high-definition, widescreen presentation

For more information on Guardian Heroes, please visit http://www.sega.com

iOOTP Baseball 2011 Available Now

I’m a huge OOTP fan, as many of you know. Well, today you can buy the “i” version of the baseball sim for five bucks.

PR Ahead:

The 2011 baseball season is underway, and now you can take it with you in iOOTP Baseball 2011, the iOS version of our best-selling, critically-acclaimed baseball sim, Out of the Park Baseball. Driven by the same sim engine at the heart of OOTP, iOOTP lets you take control of a major league baseball team and call the shots as you guide it to glory.

iOOTP Baseball 2011 offers these exciting features:

* Complete major league rosters with real players and teams.
* Three game modes: Major Leagues, which lets you guide your favorite major league team through the 2011 season and beyond; Fictional, which serves up a fresh world full of fictional players, providing a unique challenge each time; and Historical, which offers three exciting past seasons to recreate: 1923, 1965, and 2004.
* The ability to set lineups, pitching rotations, and depth charts as well as make in-game calls, including when to issue hit-and-run and steal signs, how to configure the defense, when to pull pitchers and put in pinch-hitters, and more. You can also let the computer handle those decisions and set a series of sliders that dictate overall strategies, such as aggressiveness on the base paths, how often to pitch around batters, and more. Simulate your season a day or a week at a time, jumping back in to manage games whenever you want.
* Minor league prospects who you promote to the big leagues and nurture through the early days of their careers. iOOTP also features the annual minor league draft, ensuring that you have a steady stream of new players as you sim multiple seasons of baseball history. Watch players get drafted, begin their careers, and eventually (potentially) earn a coveted spot in the Hall of Fame.
* A play-by-play text stream that describes what’s happening on the field during the game. making it feel like a radio broadcast.
* A in-depth financial system. that allows you to unleash your inner GM. Are you a “Moneyball” disciple, looking for undervalued players who help the team win while keeping payroll low, or are you a free-wheeling spender seeking high-profile free agents? You oversee trades, negotiate contract extensions, sign free agents, move players between the active roster, minor league roster and disabled list, and more.

Ready to take the field? iOOTP Baseball 2011 is available only at Apple’s App Store, and it’s just $4.99.

**

Todd grabbed this today and hated the interface. Todd can explain in the comments.

Now, Todd is also a notorious OOTP QUITTER. So maybe he’s not the best source…ahem.

Sony vs. U.S. Congress: It's a Barn-burner!

No High Scores

When the United States House of Representatives gets involved you know the grandstanding and finger-pointing can’t be far behind. (Those links go to a pair of articles Opposable Thumbs put up yesterday.) Among the lovely quotes on offer was this one from Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), who said, “But they [Sony] also must shoulder some of the blame for these stunning thefts, which shake the confidence of everyone who types in a credit card number and hits ‘enter.’”

Mary, Mary, Mary. It’s not Enter. It’s Triangle. Or was it Square? X? Surely it’s not Circle. One of the shoulder buttons, maybe?

There’s more at the grand-standing link if you want to read more from the illustrious chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade (surely the first and last time you’ll see those words put together here and in that order). Mostly you just need to know she’s firmly behind Sony giving deserving American consumers, “some straight answers,” and that she’s, “determined to get them.” Once you get beyond that, however, there’s some details from the meat of the hearing that includes testimony from security experts saying what we already had to suspect: Sony’s security wasn’t quite up to the level of being sub-standard.

There’s also Sony’s mailed-in (literally) official response to Congress, in which they insist they have dealt with the security breach responsibly and with all due diligence. They also made sure to point out their sincere conviction that they were making amends to consumers with free downloads and 30-days free membership/membership extension in Playstation Plus (a service so awesome that almost nobody gets it). I’m sure Mary Bono Mack will be satisfied.

Fire up your popcorn maker and melt some butter.

The No High Scores Double Dip Contest!

Hey! It’s time for another giveaway!

It’s been a few weeks since we last gave away free stuff to our wonderful readers who have sworn undying loyalty to everyone here at the No High Scores office.*

This week we’re giving away TWO, yes TWO games! One I know is good and the other, well, I do not. You’re just going to have to take your chances. It’s free, though. The contest is for BOTH games so if you win one, you win both.

Game number one is the newly released XBLA game Outland from UbiSoft, given an “A” review by our very own Michael Barnes this one is certified gold.

Game number two is the newly released sidescrolling PC game on Steam called Capsized. It’s being received quite well in the press. You can read more here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/95300/

The Capsized contest is also being run on GameShark’s Facebook page.

Capsized is also being given away on Dangercade, which is an indie game news blog run by GameShark’s Sr. Editor, and my buddy, Brian Rowe. Head over there and tell Brian we sent you and be nice. Brian’s good people. No boot spam, k?

Now, those contests are independent of ours — I just wanted to share the info. Free games are great regardless.

So, we have two codes for each game so two lucky winners will be bagging both games.

Just reply in this thread to enter the contest. Bribes are appreciated but rarely work. I will announce the winners in Sunday’s Time Waster.

*We do not have an office.