I’m going to be a bit angry for a bit, so strap yourself in for a nice rant from an opinionated person with no legitimate superiority over the developers of any game, let alone an MMO. I have no design experience, no business experience, but the one thing I do know is what the word “option” means.
Mention the words GoldenEye to gamers of a certain age and you are likely to find them waffling on about how a little N64 title is still one of the best games in the world. To be honest, they wouldn’t be far wrong, I never owned an N64 or GoldenEye, but I played it enough with friends to appreciate the immense quality of the game.
I am eternally disappointed that there was never a PC version of the game released, and considering the current limbo that the rights to the game are in, I don’t expect to see a retail reimagining of it on the PC any time soon.
Don’t fret though if you are looking for a top quality Bond fix, GoldenEye Source is the mod to sort you out. You will have to make do with multiplayer, the guys behind the mod haven’t delved into the singleplayer side of things yet, but I have to say that what they have done with multiplayer is brilliant.
So it is pretty much N64 GoldenEye with more players, more and tweaked game modes and achievements. There have been some gameplay tweaks to make it more suitable to the PC, namely aiming, a key part of GoldenEye gunplay. No longer do you stop while you aim, instead you can aim and move at a slow speed. If you want to master GoldenEye Source then you need to aim, I learnt that lesson the hard way.
As the mod is only in the fourth stage of Beta, it is not quite feature complete. There are still more characters and maps from the original game to be added, yet you won’t really notice they aren’t there, the quality of the maps in the mod is exceptional. Some have been expanded slightly to suit new game modes and the increase in player numbers, but the changes feel right and add to the atmosphere of the mod.
The new game modes are great additions to the multiplayer environment. In Live and Let Die, Baron Samedi rules the roost. True to form, he can only be killed outright with the Golden Gun, if he is killed with any other weapon he respawns stronger. It makes for a unique game mode, although one that is perhaps outdone by GunGame. Based on a Counter Strike Source mod, when you get a kill you get a new weapon, less accurate and less powerful than the previous one, until you are left running around with a knife trying to get the final kill. When everyone else has a gun it’s extremely tense, and that makes victory all the sweeter.
It may not quite match the original version of the game, but it is great fun in its own right. If the team working on the mod can one day get a singleplayer mode complete, that would be the icing on the cake. If you want classic multiplayer action, GoldenEye Source is what you should play.
If there is one thing I really enjoy doing after a session of Need for Speed: Shift or Resident Evil 5, it is to hit up the closed beta of Tiger Woods Online and play a couple of rounds of golf. Yes, I have been playing a golf game, and I am enjoying it. Tiger Woods Online is a free-to-play game from EA, in which you play some rounds of golf and improve your characters skills.
The closed beta features a nice variety of courses, I’m no golf expert but at the very least I recognise the famous St. Andrew’s course in Scotland. So far a couple of extra courses have been added to the game thanks to the willingness of the beta testers to complete several thousand rounds of golf within just a few days.
When I am out on the course with my nice bright cap I will generally find myself finishing around ten shots over par. This is because I will often skip the short introduction to each hole which informs you of the various hazards you will face, or I won’t pay attention to the win gauge and I will see my shot land with a gentle ‘plonk’ in the nearby river. I won’t talk about the sand traps or the number of times I have found myself stuck trying to hit a ball out of a massive thorny bush.
The simplest way of playing involves the so called ‘three-click-swing’ where you measure your power and accuracy along the bar on the bottom of the screen. Being an online game though, if you are experiencing some lag you will often find yourself badly miss-timing your clicks and hooking a shot deep into the rough. The other way to play is ‘true-swing’ which involves you moving your mouse with enough gusto and the right direction to get the ball to go where you want. I personally find myself sticking to the three click system.
As I indicated earlier, you can develop the skills of your golfer, you can improve your driving power and accuracy, purchase more putt previews which show you where you putt will go and even buy new shots like the chip, flop or punch. Unfortunately you aren’t able to punch your invisible caddy or break your clubs over you knee. You can develop skills by completing different challenges on each course, score your first birdie or finish under par earn you big bucks. Smaller things like subsequent birdies, getting to the green within a set number of shots and others earn you smaller amounts of money.
There is also a strong community element to the game, you can join or create groups which allow you to keep track of what your friends are up to and try to become the best group in the game. Daily and weekly tournaments are also present for players of varying skill levels in which you compete for big prizes.
It may not make up for the lack of a proper retail PC release of a new Tiger Woods game for some, but the new Online version looks very promising, there are issues which have to be resolved, namely shot lag and various other bugs that users have spotted. It will be interesting to see how EA monetise the game and how many more courses and features are added before it goes public. I for one will carry on playing, even if it is simply to relax after a hard day blasting zombies.
I’ll be honest from the off, I started the FIFA 10 demo expecting to be disappointed. For all the talk about how the series has drastically improved over the past couple of years I was skeptical of what the new version was going to be like. I played theFIFA 09 demo last year after getting caught up in the hype surrounding the game, it left a bad taste in my mouth and I quickly turned back to ProEvo. This year I finished playing the demo with a broad grin stuck on my face.
It is a small demo in some ways, you can only play a ten-minute exhibition match with a variety of top European teams (plus Chicago Fire) inWembley Stadium, but, you can play as many times as you like and your stats are recorded in the widget on the menu screen. You get a small amount of information on the new and improved game modes such as the enhanced ‘Be a Pro’ mode which now covers both club and country and ‘The Season’ which lets you play through a full season of domestic and continental games without the hassle of handling team finances or training.
The matches though are where FIFA 10 shines, it feels much better than the clunky FIFA 09 demo from last year. I think it is fair to say the new fangled 360 degree player movement is the main factor in this. Why it has taken so long for full 360 player movement to be introduced I don’t know, regardless player control is a much more dynamic and fluid experience that it has been in any other football game I have played.
Even when Barcelona were trouncing my Bayern Munich side 3-0 I still enjoyed it, and after lowering the difficulty and thumping Olympic Marseilles 4-0 with Chicago Fire I knew that this game had finally come good on the PC. I do fear that the high-defconsole versions of the game will provide a better experience, but I am looking forward to what the full game has to offer. Judging from the main menu there will be a lot to play around with and right now, I cannot wait.
Mini Ninjas is gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s beautiful in the way you can tell a child’s going to be really good at art; it’s simple, yet stylish, getting across whatever it was the child was trying to draw, and looking pretty good at the same time. Mini Ninja’s colours don’t go outside the lines. This may, or may not, be because there are no lines.
The art style seems to be indicative of how the game plays. Simple, yet stylish and refined, you’re tasked with finding out what’s going on, as you figure out that the evil samurai (who have some of the most adorable sounds and voices I’ve heard in a long time) are actually mystically enslaved woodland creatures, so, by killing them, you’re actually saving cute little animals. It’s all so quaint, it could be sickly. It just isn’t, for some reason.
I reckon it’s because it’s still kind of serious, despite the cutesy façade. It’s serious in the way a fairy tale can be serious, or a parable; there are people in trouble, and you and your motley band of ninjas have got to set things right. So you go about your task, freeing pandas and the like, knowing that you must do these things. All the while giggling when you hear the little samurai march past, because they sound so deathly serious, despite having the voices of angry children.
There are some clever little mechanics thrown in, too. You can possess any animal you find, which allows you to sneak past as a frog or rabbit, or charge through as a boar or a panda. Man, Panda’s get mean when they use those big bear claws. Swipe! SWIPE! But then you notice there’s a river, so you flip your comically oversized hat over, hop in, and row your way down, until you’re engulfed in white water rapids, and desperately paddling for your mini life. Then, suddenly, you’re in a lagoon, and there’s fish. Ah, so that’s what the fishing rod in your pack was for.
It’s a linear design disguised as exploration, and it does just as well at hiding its true nature as Hiro, the main character, does at hiding from samurai. And, what with him being a ninja, he does that pretty well. His friend Futo, a huge man with a mallet, not so much. But then he’s got a big hammer, so he makes up for his deficiencies in other ways. Suzume, the last friend unlocked in the demo, seems to just be a slightly weaker version of Hiro, but I’m sure she’ll have her uses in the full game. You can switch between them at will, in a sort of Trine kind of way, which is helpful when facing different obstacles in different ways. There’s also a bit of magic, like the possession of animals, and then, of course, fireballs and the like.
While the demo is pretty short, weighing in at just shy of 1GB, it’s hopefully indicative of a really clever adventure game in the vein of the better Zelda games. It’s kind of taken everyone by surprise, firstly coming from the developers of Hitman and Kane and Lynch, two notoriously brutal games, and by sneaking up on us with a sudden release date that’s only a few weeks away. I’m going to resist making a ninja pun about that, but really, I can’t wait to play more.
You can get the demo here.