Stronghold 3 Delayed Until "Summer"

I loved the original Stronghold. A game with castle building, resource management, bare bones combat and the ability to douse enemies in oil, it was quite the PC strategy hit back in 2001. The games in this series have gotten progressively worse over the years so I’m clearly in the “show me” camp when it comes to Stronghold 3. It does look pretty though.

So maybe this delay isn’t a bad thing — at least that’s the angle Southpeak is taking.

“The release window has been pushed back to include a host of great new features that will ensure Stronghold 3 truly is the king of the castle.”

I’d like more specifics as to what’s being “included” and not the usual PR lingo (king of the castle, come on people…)

“We want to make sure fans get the game they want and deserve,” said Stronghold 3’s designer Simon Bradbury. “Although some may be disappointed the game isn’t coming out as soon as they expected, we’re sure they won’t be disappointed with the new elements we’re adding to the franchise, to make this the best Stronghold yet.”

So the delay is likely because the game isn’t good enough yet — and they all know it. This isn’t necessary a bad thing as delays like this can sometimes greatly benefit a game or it can simply prolong the inevitable.

We’ll find out this summer, as I truly do hope this one turns out well.

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime Available Now

I still have a soft spot for Ghostbusters.

It’s a weakness, I know.

PR ahead…

Atari announced today the release of the first ever Ghostbusters digital title, Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime. In conjunction with Sony Pictures Consumer Products, Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is now available on Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®Network, and Windows PC Download at Steam and Atari.com.

Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is a four player, ghost busting adventure that will take players on a brand new gaming experience. Players will suit up with their proton packs and assume the role of a rookie hired by the Ghostbusters to save New York City from a disaster of ghoulish proportions in either single player, or cooperative (online or local).

The action-packed gameplay progresses as players explore a series of haunted environments that must be cleared of any ectoplasmic threats. The gripping adventure rages on as players encounter bosses that require a concentrated effort to defeat using a medley of highly destructive weapons including the Proton Stream, Plasma Inductor, and the Fermion Shock. The rookie Ghostbusters will face the dangers of the eerie world alone or with a ghost busting team of friends both locally or online through the game’s multiplayer capability.

Developed by Behavior Studios, Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime carries a suggested retail price of $9.99. For more information, please log onto www.atari.com or www.atari.com/gbsanctumofslime/

David Cage Speaks for Everyone

Wow. Give a guy an award and he goes all “This is how it’s done!” on everyone.

If you don’t know who David Cage is, it’s ok. He founded Quantic Dream, the company which developed the game Heavy Rain, a wildly original thriller about a missing child. A game filled with great ideas and lackluster execution. It sold a lot of copies and apparently gives David Cage the stones to tell everyone else to get on the story train.

In a story posted at The Guardian, Cage starts off reasonable enough.

“…games always explore the same things. They’re about being powerful, being the good guys against the bad guys – that’s a very tiny part of what can be done. There are so many other stories to tell, so many other emotions to trigger – this is a fantastic new medium, we can do much more than we currently do with it.”

I wouldn’t say “always” but the point is a fair one. We certainly do overuse genres, settings, mechanics, etc. It’s a play it safe industry we live in but I do wish we saw a bit more outside the box development from large studios. Of course the reason we see this is because publishers are in the business of making money and risky designs are just that — risks. Still, good point, thanks Mr. Cage, congrats on the BAFTA story award and we’ll see you next year.

Oh, you’re not done talking. Ok…

“In Europe, we are not as easy to satisfy; being given a gun to hold is not necessarily enough in a game. But it’s not just in Europe, I hear many developers in the US saying the same thing – ‘look, I’m 40, I’m fed up of writing games where you shoot at everyone. It was fun when I was twenty but now I want to do something else. I don’t watch the same movies as I did when I was 20, I don’t listen to the same music, but I’m still making the same games!’ Developers are fed up – they want to talk about their families, politics, whatever – why not in a game? Why not?! There is no reason.”

Developers want to talk about their families — or is it that Cage wants to talk about his?

So, we Yanks are easy to please with drool cups tied around our collective necks and all one need do is slap a firearm in our hand and we’re good to go like Rooster Cogburn on a three day bender? And hell I’m 39 and still listen to The Beatles and they broke up by the time I was born! And when I was 20 it was 1992, and A Few Good Men came out and I’m telling you I’d watch that movie tonight if I had the DVD, which for some reason, I do not. (I would not, for the record, watch Wayne’s World ever again. Cage may have a point on that one.)

But we all know this is silly.

There are numerous games, great ones, that are made by both European and American developers that have nothing to do with shooting someone. There are myriad of creative gems in this industry. Enough of them? That’s certainly a debate worth having but to pigeonhole gamers and developers is just pointless blathering. Cage knows this. He has to, right? I think we all agree that we see too many recycled gameplay mechanics and we have certainly fought World War II in every way imaginable but the day people stop buying these games, I suppose they’ll stop making them.

Cage continues:

“It is the one I was dreaming of. I worked so hard on the story, and it’s the first I ever wrote that was based on something personal. It was not about space marines fighting aliens, it was about my relationship with my first son and how he changed my life – and also about how loving someone without expecting anything in return was something totally new.”

“There should be more people trying this,” he continued. “Don’t write about being a rookie soldier in WWII, because you don’t have a clue what that’s like. Talk about yourself, your life, your emotions, the people around you, what you like, what you hate – this is how the industry will make a huge step forwards. I’m fed up with space marines.”

It sounds like we need to see developers making games about personal stuff and if you don’t know what it’s like to be a pilot, warrior, samurai, alien, or soldier then you ought not to make the game. Escapism will always be — and should be — part of a game.

And I have to ask — does David Cage know what it’s like to be a serial killer? His game certainly delves into that a great deal. Does he know what it’s like to have to do a strip tease for a mobster, or what it’s like to fight off a homicidal, drill wielding maniac? Or what it’s like to be addicted to VR to the point where you have real life hallucinations? This is all in Heavy Rain, so I’m assuming Cage is an expert on the topics.

I don’t want to play a game about a developer’s family who hates that he works 90 hour weeks, gets crap pay, works in a cube all week and then gets fired after his game is released.

But Space Marines? Cage dare rag on the mighty Space Marines? He does realize, of course, who created the Space Marines?

Hint: It wasn’t an American.

Look, the idea behind a game like Heavy Rain is great. I’d love to see better storytelling in games (although we can also debate the quality of storytelling in Heavy Rain, BAFTA Award or not) — especially in role-playing games where I still feel the stories are boring, tired, and cliched to the point of exhaustion. You don’t need to have a modern day “This is Your Life” story design to do what Cage is talking about. You can certainly add these ideas to other genres — even ones with, gasp, aliens and space marines and rookie soldiers fighting in Africa against Rommel.

But can’t a fella just win an award and go home and celebrate without calling out the entire industry in which he works? Worry about your next game Dave.

Ok, who is up for shooting some zombies!

Dead Island Not Heavy Rain With Zombies

No High Scores

Remember that awesome Dead Island trailer? The one with piano music and the frantic zombie killing and the dead kid and all of that raw emotion? Yeah, well the game that trailer is representing is more like Borderlands than Heavy Rain. Yes! Borderlands! You know, the game with a boss that has three testicles? In an interview with CVG, Dead Island producer Sebastian Reichert said that being compared to Heavy Rain after the trailer dropped was “awful” and that their game is more like Borderlands in how it keeps players playing than a game like Heavy Rain. He also had an interesting comment about DVD menus having more gameplay than Heavy Rain. What a jokester! I think by now we can safely say that the Dead Island trailer has absolutely nothing in common with how the game is shaping up other than that it has zombies, takes place on a resort island and has the name “Dead Island” on it. Interesting marketing strategy, that.

Seen at CVG.

Android App For AR Cards

No High Scores

Come with me, dear reader on a terrifying journey of misplaced items. You buy your 3DS, get ready for some hot augmented reality action and horror of horrors, your cards are gone! All of them! Missing! What will you do now? How will you put Link hats on your puppies? How will you make a dragon sprout out of your kitchen table? HOW? Well, if you have an Android phone, you download the handy 3DS AR Card App and all is well again. Phew! Crisis averted! The app contains all of the AR cards that come with the 3DS meaning you’ll never be without them again. Unless you lose your phone at which point there’s no hope for you.

Fanta$y Flight announces "The Horned Rat" expansion for Chaos in the Old World


Oh, Fantasy Flight Games, will ya ever stop? I mean, at this point you’re releasing not only expansions for expansions (Miskatonic Horror) but you’re also putting out second editions of expansions (the newly announced 2nd edition of the “Curse of the Dark Pharaoh add-on for Arkham Horror). You’re even putting out games with material obviously cut out of them so that it can be put into expansions. It’s like DLC for the tabletop, except that you’re dinging your customers for anywhere from $20-$60 a pop!

Smartassery aside, this is a good news post because FFG has finally announced an expansion for Gameshark’s 2009 board game of the year, Chaos in the Old World. According to the newly launched “The Horned Rat” Web site, the expansion is bringing a fifth player into the game via the Skaven. I’m down with that. There are also some other additions including all-new cards and Chaos powers and a set of “expert level” Old World cards. It sounds pretty good, as long as they’re not trying to scam $39.95 out of what is about $20 worth of components. Come on guys, we’ve got to have enough change left over to buy those size 1 and 3 Fantasy Flight Supply card sleeves that you advertise right next to the list of components!

Definitely a must-consider for CitOW and Warhammer fans. It’ll be interesting to see if either having a fifth player fixes the “Nurgle wins by default” problem or if the new cards rebalance the game.

Rock of Ages Website a Go

The last I heard of this game Danielle was gushing after seeing it at E3. Well, now Atlus has a fully featured website ready to go so you should give it a look because Danielle promised that this would be the best game ever.* You can visit the new website here: http://www.atlus.com/rockofages

The game is set for a Spring 2011 release on XBLA, PSN, and PC.

Here’s some PR info on what the game is all about:

A rock-solid combination of deep strategy, rock-rolling action, captivating art and music from throughout history! Two castles stand opposed, bridged by an uneven, narrow pathway. One is yours, and you’re quite fond of it. The other is your enemy’s; they’re a jerk**, and their crappy** crenelations are driving down your property values.

Also, their castle sucks**, justification enough to try crush it using an enormous rolling stone. Unfortunately, they’ll have a chance to plan and build up some security, doing everything they can to derail your rock. Get through their defenses and you’re one step closer to crushing their unsightly tower (see also: their hopes and dreams). Once your turn is over, your opponent’s begins…

*She didn’t really say that but she did like it a lot at the show.

**Normally this is good strikethrough material but you have to give credit for creative press releases with excellent use of the words jerk, crappy, and sucks. Good on you, Atlus pr writer.

Nintendogs, Augmented Reality and You

Kotaku has a pretty cool video up showing you how the augmented reality cards that ship with the 3DS work with Nitendogs+cats. It’s nothing earth shattering, basically you can make your virtual pup appear on real life objects wearing a fine selection of Nintendo themed headwear. Nothing earth shattering that is, unless you mean earth shatteringly adorable. Seriously, those puppies are damn cute. Sadly, this is one of the features of the system and the game I’m looking forward to most. I can’t wait to get a picture of my two real dogs sitting next to my fake dog through the magic of augmented reality trickery. Even better, my fake dog can look like Kirby is pooping on his head. I was nicely surprised to see that the system’s pedometer will allow me to take my fake dog on a walk as I go about my daily travels although I’m a little wary of that feature given the short battery life of the system. Between the 3DS and the PokeWalker, my every step will be cataloged by Nintendo. Twice even!

The Sims Get Medieval; Available Now

My daughter flipped out when EA sent a copy of this today. We’re about to head out for school and UPS man drops off a package with The Sims Medieval inside and the entire car ride was a discussion on which type of sim she was going to make and what “monarch” meant. If she’s this pumped I know you guys are, too. Right?

Actually, this sounds really interesting with a lot of new twists on the basic Sims gameplay.

PR ahead…

Electronic Arts Inc. announced today that The Sims Medieval is on store shelves worldwide. The brand new standalone game for the PC/Mac gives players the tools to create heroes, take them on quests, build up their kingdom and tell epic stories. full of drama, romance, and comedy.

“Our community has wanted to be able to place their Sims in a different time period for years and now they can with The Sims Medieval,” said Scott Evans, General Manager of The Sims Studio. “The Sims Medieval is a new standalone game that keeps the core values of The Sims at its heart, but gives fans new gameplay elements to explore and allows them to tell Medieval tales.”

Set in the Middle Ages, players will find themselves faced with new ways to play with life like never before. As they build up their kingdom, players create Hero Sims in a range of professions including knight, bard, wizard, priest, blacksmith and spy. Playing each Hero Sim is different, as players control the Sim’s professional life as well as take on the varied adventures of the quests. Other new gameplay elements include diplomacy with neighboring territories, and of course medieval punishments.

The gameplay is framed by quests– each quest presents a new situation and a fresh opportunity to pick which Hero Sims to control during that adventure. After choosing a quest, players will pick their approach for solving it and choose which Hero Sim will lead the quest. For example, in the quest The Witch is Back, players could choose to have their monarch marry the witch who is visiting the kingdom. If they want to kill the witch, they would choose the wizard, spy or knight. And if they just want to debilitate the witch, they would choose to play a priest, physician, or wizard. With dozens of quests and with multiple approaches for completing them, players will find new ways to tell their favorite medieval legends and make them their own.

Everything in The Sims Medieval is crafted to create an immersive medieval world, from the quest-based gameplay, to the medieval objects such as swords and stocks and thrones, right down to the warm look of the characters and the painterly approach to the world itself. Players can choose to customize every new Hero Sim that comes to the kingdom, including selecting their traits and their fatal flaw. Players get close to their characters, not only sending them on epic quests, but also making sure they carry out their daily responsibilities such as healing the sick, trading for exotic goods, or forging armor.

The Sims Medieval is rated T for Teen by the ESRB. To download artwork, please visit www.info.ea.com. For more information about The Sims Medieval please visit www.info.ea.com, or the official website at www.TheSimsMedieval.com.

PureSim Baseball 4 Available Now

Time to show just how sports game geeky I truly am. Text based sports games, in my view, provide more depth and entertainment value than most “hands on” games simply because I enjoy long term franchise gameplay over pressing a button to swing a bat or throw a bomb or take a jumper. There’s simply more strategy involved in playing a really good text based game. Not that I dislike today’s arcade games, I do, but this is right in my wheelhouse. I am a big Out of the Park Baseball player and run a league that has been rolling along for five seasons now — PureSim is OOTP’s direct competition and Wolverine Studious released version 4 today and I can’t wait to take it for a spin.

PR ahead…

Wolverine Studios, a leader in (publisher of) sports simulation PC gaming, is proud to announce the release of PureSim Baseball 4. Developer Shaun Sullivan has taken his critically acclaimed baseball game to new heights this season with (added) over 230 new features and tweaks making PureSim Baseball 4 the most realistic and accurate simulation of both historical and present day baseball on the market today. (better than PureSim 3).

PureSim 4 allows players to replay any season in history right up to and including playing out the 2011 season. No other baseball game can match the statistical accuracy or amazing historical features such as (has) “Tru-Life Transactions Mode” which allows you to play seasons from 1920-2010 with transactions happening exactly as they occurred in that season! (.) And best of all you don’t need to purchase a single season disk – every season is included with the full version of the game and an extensive online and desktop manual makes learning the game a breeze for anyone new to the franchise. (easier than PureSim 3).

PureSim Baseball 4 can be purchased exclusively from www.wolverinestudios.com for only $29.95 and a full feature list detailing all of the new features and tweaks is available at the official PureSim Baseball 4 webite at www.wolverinestudios.com/ps4.html