Monday, 15 August 2011

Codemasters' F1 Online

Top down view.... Eh not my personal taste.
"As the worldwide gaming market evolves, 2012 is the perfect time to extend this series to the free-to-play market," Codemasters' online VP David Solar said in a statement. The game is set to be released in a browser near you in Q1 2012, yes it's a browser-based game. The game will "give players the chance to be the driver and the team boss in a game that combines intuitive top down racing gameplay with a rewarding management game as players create and manage their own team".

Friday, 29 July 2011

Maplestory New Job: The Demon Slayer

The latest class addition to Maplestory is the Demon Slayer. Originally a member of the Black Mage's forces, the Demon Slayer has turned a new leaf and joined the Resistance. The Demon Slayer utilises a new system called "demon force" which replaces the conventional mana system. Unlike mana, DF is attained by killing more monsters which release orbs and replenish your DF.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Minecraft 1.7: The Adventure Update

Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson hasn't fully revealed all the specifics of the update but it's already evident that this update is shaping up to be a game changer. With most of the core elements virtually being complete, the Minecraft developers are now focusing on refining the content and providing more goals, achievements and aims.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Maplestory New Job: Mercedes

Looks are deceiving, extremely deceiving. Its appearance pertains to that of a 8 year old girl whose fantasies lie in rainbows and unicorns however its devastating attacks beg to differ. With the introduction of the "Legend" update in Korean Maplestory, Nexon has introduced three new classes to Maplestory: the Cannon Shooter, Mercedes and the Demon Slayer. I've already covered the Cannon Shooter and Demon Slayer therefore today I'm going to be outlining all the skills and providing an in-depth scoop of the heavily-anticipated Mercedes class. Click read more below.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

E3 2011: Skyrim Footage Released

After watching the latest Skyrim preview, I'm going to back myself in stating that this game could overthrow the success and popularity of Oblivion. Yes, I just said that. Once again we get to see the sheer magnitude of the world of Skyrim, with confirmation of at least 300 hours of gameplay. Hold on, the developers even mentioned that they "stopped counting" so factoring in side-line quests and extras, there's bound to be much more gameplay available. Skyrim is certainly looking magnificent and this latest walkthrough justifies it.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

E3 2011: The All Important Schedule

The ultimate week is just beyond the horizon; the week that decides the future of gaming. From June 7th to June 9th, E3 2011 will be held in Los Angeles, California. It's a heavily anticipated event with many games on display provided by developers from around the world. Both Nintendo and Sony are expected to announce the specifications for two new consoles: Sony's Next-Generation Portable (which is now called PS Vita) and Nintendo's new console (codenamed Project Café). E3 will also offer a plethora of gaming announcements like usual, with many bearing significant expectations. Games such as Call of Duty MW3, Battlefield 3 and Gears of War 3 are just a minuscule selection of games which one can lick his/her lips over. On top of all the preempted goodness, there are also bound to be a few surprise announcements. Who knows, maybe Microsoft will bring out the big guns along with Nintendo and Sony. Click read more for a schedule with all the main events...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Minecraft Pocket Edition: Gameplay Trailer

Minecraft will be coming to Android first as an Xperia Play exclusive. The game will be released onto the iOS in the foreseeable future as well. As of right now, we still don't know the price or the release window. However Minecraft developer Jens Bergensten recently confirmed multiplayer support for the Pocket Edition- in "LAN environments" only, meaning WiFi. Bergensten later added that "Bluetooth support may come later". As for the gameplay experience, Bergensten only offered that it is "creative mode in a limited world". More shall be revealed next week as Minecraft will be playable on the Xperia Play at E3.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Tomb Raider Reboot; Stunning Trailer Revealed

Tomb Raider is ready to take the franchise in an all new direction for the new year and re-invent Lara Croft in the process. After much teasing, the debut trailer for the highly anticipated reboot has been released. The CG trailer has stunning visuals and sets the mood for a tale of survival. Let's just hope gameplay comes close to the atmosphere of the trailer. Click read more below for more information and screenshots of the upcoming game.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Maplestory New Job: The Cannon Shooter

Brace yourselves. It's a new pirate class. No this swashbuckling hero doesn't carry a gun. Nor does the pirate use a sword, instead the pirate hones his skills with a hefty cannon! The Cannon Shooter is an Adventurer class which will utilise a new type of weapon: the 2-handed cannon. Information is limited at the moment however I can provide some of the skills which have been translated. Word of warning, this is an awfully long post. Click read more below.

THQ announces Darksiders II

Game informer gets the first sneak peek of Death
in its July 2011 issue
Darksiders II will be portrayed through a different perspective. Unlike the original game which featured War, Darksiders II will focus on Death (one of the dread Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) as he fights to clear his brother War's name who was made to take the blame for the apocalyptic events of Darksiders. THQ has confirmed it will ship the next instalment of the action-RPG series in 2012 for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Darksiders II will boast a dramatically larger world than the original, a weapon and armour upgrade system and better dungeons.

THQ's Executive Vice President of Core Games, Danny Bilson, said: "We have taken the best parts of Darksiders and improved on them with a host of new mechanics and features. You will see great things from this epic game." Bilson tweeted earlier that a big reveal about the sequel is coming soon; expect more information on this game in E3 next week.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Paying for CoD online-play?

The answer, thankfully, is no. The premium service will not be a cheap attempt to hoard money from avid gamers trying to experience online-multiplayer. Instead the service offers new content for players, content which should enrich and enhance online gameplay. This fall, Activision will officially launch Call of Duty: Elite alongside Modern Warfare 3. It's currently being developed by Beachhead which is a new studio formed by Activision.

The service will require a monthly-fee. In return, the players will have access to new map-packs and analytical tools that will improve a player's gameplay. First of all, Elite will compile a combined profile which will be compatible with any game within the franchise with Elite support; this should help a lot as the current community is split between Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare. The service will be accessible from various platforms such as web browsers, mobile devices, through the game console itself and within the game interface. The service is predicted to go public beta by this summer on Black Ops. Many of Elite's services will be available to players free of charge and as mentioned before, the (basic) multiplayer experience will remain free.

The service has been designed to engage the community in four key ways:

Career: Here you can view a summary of every CoD match you play in the entirety of your lives. You'll be able to pick out specific details from individual matches from all of the games supported by Elite in one, handy interface.
The career interface

Connect: Basically it's Facebook for Call of Duty. It offers unprecedented control over a player's multiplayer experience, transforming it into a social network. Players will be allowed for extremely meticulous match-making and group creation. Elite will also support private clans.

Compete: Competition is the heart of this game. Players will be able to participate in a multitude of Activision events which will offer both in-game and real-life rewards. The system will tier players to opponents of similar ability.

Improve: Better, better, better. It's all we want to do: become better. Elite will offer countless tutorial videos for every single weapon and map providing an in-depth analysis of each so a player can take truly hone his/her skill. Not only that, but it will also provide tips for perks and kill streaks.
Extensive information for any weapon or map available
Finally, the service will include any future map packs gratis; non-subscribers will have to pay the regular price but subscribers to Elite will receive it for free. At the moment Activision hasn't revealed the exact pricing of the system but it claims it will be "less than any other comparable online entertainment service". So what do you think? Do you think that we should be entitled to all this for free? Let us know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Minecraft In-depth Review

It's a game that has taken the world by storm; it has emerged overnight and has sold millions of copies. And do you know what? It deserves it. It's a basic yet ingenious concept that makes the game so wonderful. Minecraft is an excellent example of "sandbox" gaming in its purest form. You are in a world with virtually no restrictions and you are free to do whatever you desire. There's no set goal or target, nor is there any real structure to the game. Minecraft is your world and how you play is entirely upto you. As well as the freedom being its ultimate strength, one has to say that it can serve as an equal downfall. Some players simply won't be able to grasp having no objectives. Others will embrace this feature with open arms. You will either love this game or hate it.

The world is made up of simple building blocks. You know how they say that the elements (on the Periodic Table) are the building blocks of the universe? Well, it's just that. The land, leaves, and animals are all made of blocks. Needless to say, if you don't like simple graphics, this game will be an eyesore. Even then, the designers have tried their utmost best to make the atmosphere vibrant and colourful.
Simplicity can be beautiful

The game revolves around a simple mechanism of "break in order to build". Minecraft is based around building your own world from the resources available in the environment. For example, the trees provide wood as their resource, which is one of the fundamental resources required for other activities such as mining or crafting. Once you understand this basic mechanic, the possibilities become endless. It's an extremely addictive concept. Perhaps one of the negatives in the game lie in this trial and error approach. There's no tutorial or help for any newbies; it can become frustrating at times to figure out certain things. This is why experimentation is so crucial to this game, however it often felt as an obstacle towards truly enjoying the game (for me). Albeit this is no major problem, you can easily utilise some external websites to guide you through the processes. Some may argue that experimentation is one of the brilliant ideas in the game yet, for me, it feels daunting as you plunge right into the depths of the game with no aid.
The huge resource system
Things may all be hunky-dory during the daylight hours but when the veil of darkness covers the world, things aren't the same. During the sinister twilight hours, hostile creatures spawn and the players (and creatures alike) are given an objective: survival. The armed zombies, spiders and skeletons only have one aim and that is to kill you. At this point, it's advisable to build a fortress or shelter of some kind in hope of defending against these creatures. Conversely you can take a weapon and brave the creatures of the night. A word of warning though, Minecraft was never truly designed for you to decimate hordes of monsters; you'll die swiftly especially if you're inexperienced. The most effective method is finding safety in your shelter; making use of your structures is the best defence. This perilous element to the game isn't necessary as you can choose "Peaceful" difficulty and avoid it completely. Although, I personally feel that the danger element is essential for you to truly become engaged with the game.
Eeeek! Zombies!
Once you have figured out the initial concepts of the game, the core-model is extremely forgiving. Minecraft doesn't possess a real-world physics game engine thus your structures won't crumble if they are unbalanced or a paradox. Do you want a mid-air empire? Sure, it's all possible! The game is designed for you to express creativity. The game's job is to simply let you create. There is one limitation though. Fire; it's incredibly merciless. It'll devour your entire island in a matter of minutes.

Even though the game is forgiving, at the same time it can be unforgiving. It's madness! No matter how safe you make your impenetrable fortress to be, a moment of complacency will result in death. Forgetting to place a torch in a room can result in your face being ravaged by a zombie in the morning. Creepers also add a sense of challenge to the game as these devious creatures explode. Yes, explode. Say bye-bye to your hours of work in a matter of seconds.

All in all, Minecraft is a beautiful game that can be equally rewarding, charming and entertaining as the many other games out there. Don't be deceived by its looks, the game is most certainly worth its price-tag. The wonderful thing is that the game possesses endless opportunities for upgrades. Notch and his developers are constantly adding new things to the game. Things like wolves, snow, weather cycles and much more. The game can only get better from here. There's even a multiplayer mode in the game. Minecraft is pure genius; it's simplicity at its best.


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm Trailer Unveiled

A brief glimpse of the follow-up to Blizzard's Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, called Heart of the Swarm, has been leaked onto Youtube. The video shows characters Kerrigan and Jim Raynor in the small cut-scene. The Heart of the Swarm is said to be focused on the Zerg this time around, similar to how Wings of Liberty revolved around the Terran aside from a couple of missions. The expansion is hoped to be released in 2012 on both PC and Mac, probably just after the release of Diablo III. When Wings of Liberty was released it went on to receive the Best PC Game of the Year award; Heart of the Swarm is certainly going to be a highly anticipated game, if it isn't already. Here's the trailer for your viewing pleasure:

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Darkspore In-depth Review

From the makers of the best-selling game The Sims, Maxis has moved into a whole new direction with Darkspore. The name is slightly misleading as Darkspore has no real connection with Maxis' last release "Spore". Instead the game is orientated more towards a hack 'n' slash genre quite similar to Diablo. It's a decent effort by Maxis but some elements feel out of place.

Customisation galore!
It's the level of flexibility and customisation that shines; it's probably the definitive feature that makes it stand out from other Diablo-clones. You can create a unique slant on a standardised creature from the very beginning. There are various colours and visual options for your hero. There is also a huge amount of versatility in armour and weapons; there will simple be nobody who has the exact same customisation as you. You even have the option of switching between three characters throughout your journey. It's quite reminiscent of Pokemon, I can almost hear Ash shouting in the background "Go Pikachu!"... Not only does this make the gameplay ever-changing but it also makes it even more flexible.

The graphics are simply top-notch. The visuals are smooth and stunning. Moreover the sci-fi setting brings a sense of freshness to a genre which is almost dominated by medieval dungeons, castles and other traditional fantasy settings.

Colourful atmosphere
The storyline, however, is quite basic to say the least. There are some interesting concepts here, but they are poorly executed. Most of the time your AI is simply telling snapshots of background information pertinent to your current mission. It's not a very engaging method. You never interact with your AI or any of the other creatures thus the storyline feels bland. This is definitely the game's weakest department. The game's storyline just doesn't develop after the opening scenes.

On the other hand, gameplay is better than the storyline: it's fast-paced and enthralling. You battle through hordes of creatures and receive lots of rewards like with any dungeon-crawler. The reward system is extremely addictive and makes you want more everytime. Not only that, but Darkspore's major feature is the ability to unlock and customise twenty-five heroes. Each of your classes can be heavily customised in the aesthetics department as mentioned before and each class possesses four unique abilities. This makes it essential to strategise which three creatures you take in battle. The actual combat system is quite simple yet enjoyable which makes it approachable for even the most casual of players. Another positive attribute is its multiplayer option. It does make the game a lot more exciting when playing with other people as the game's levels feel extremely similar each time albeit the scenery.

Straightforward combat
Overall, the game does possess some positive qualities. The depth of customisation will keep anybody entertained and the simple battle system is great for the most casual of players. However the poor execution of the plot and the repetitiveness of each level conveys Maxim's inexperience in this genre.


Friday, 27 May 2011

Diablo III: Runestones

In my opinion this is the most fascinating update to Diablo yet. Runestones allow a player to customize each and every skill he/she possesses to their own liking. Not only does it change the mechanics of the skill, but it also redesigns the aesthetics of the ability as well.

There are five runestone types: Crimson, Indigo, Obsidian, Golden and Alabaster. Each runestone affects each skill differently. Runestones also differ in rank; the higher the rank of a runestone, the more dramatic the effect on the skill. Experimentation and discovering your playstyle is a must here as the possibilties are limitless. Not only is there a talent tree system, but the addition of this complex system will diversify gameplay even more. For once in a game, it may be enjoyable to play the same class again and again...

Diablo III: Mercenaries

Terribly sorry about the long wait till my next update, I've had a lot of exams recently. Anyways, the Blizzard conference call has confirmed a Q3 release for the beta! So be prepared to hack 'n' slash by September 2011 (at the latest). What this confirms is that Blizzard are still aiming for a 2011 release for Diablo III; keep your fingers crossed...

The first update I'd briefly like to cover is the Mercenary system. Basically Blizzard wants every single player out there to have an enjoyable co-op experience with Diablo even with single player campaign. Their target is to make it feel as if you are assisted by a trustworthy sidekick throughout your epic journey. In order to keep the gameplay as swift and smooth as possible, the mercenary will upgrade his/her own armour him/herself. Each NPC has their own ability tree as well, so you can specialise your mercenary to your own requirement! Perhaps you lack healing, so your follower can be a humble healer. Or perhaps you just want to tear down your enemies ruthlessly, then maybe a DPS build is in order. 

I guess I forgot to mention the most important detail... There are 3 mercenaries you can choose from: Enchantress, Scoundrel or the Templar. The three characters will be central figures in the main storyline. Wait! What if I want to try all of the companions? Don't worry, you can obtain all of them, it's just that you can only have one in battle with you. The rest stay at your base camp and you can switch your companions whenever you desire! But what if my Templar is gaining some dust? Again, don't worry. Blizzard have optimised the system so the mercenaries auto-level as you progress through the game so you don't waste time grinding them to your standards. What Blizzard is saying though, is that these followers are a viable option only in Normal mode; they'll be virtually ineffective in the harder modes. Therefore Blizzard is encouraging you to use their Battle Net system and play with other people around the world. Overall it seems to be a pretty neat inclusion in the game.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Rift In-depth Review

Rift may seem like an ordinary MMORPG with much of its core gameplay being very similar to World of Warcraft however there's a layer of complexity behind many important aspects of the game providing a steep learning curve. This may dishearten a few newcomers, however behind the complexities is a deep, engrossing world. It's an extremely refined new MMO, with great server stability and very little lag.

The hostile world of Telara
You are immediately thrown into the chaotic world of Telara; the introductory areas show great conflict with many explosions and portray a struggle defending the hordes of enemies from the Plane of Death. Regardless of the faction you choose (Guardians or Defiants), the starting area leads to a climatic encounter with Regulos, a dragon that ultimately transports you through time. It's a fast-paced and exciting opening, but the emphasis on the story soon after rapidly dissipates. But as the story-telling lessens, the complexities increase. You will be in possession with three "souls" before you even leave the starting zone. Souls are fundamentally your class talent trees. As you level you can put points into these soul trees, unlocking more rewarding skills found deeper in a tree.

The game offers four character archetypes: Mage, Rouge, Warrior or Cleric. Your class determines which of the 9 (out of 36) souls you will possess. The beautiful thing about souls is that there is a huge variety of talent options resulting in a versatile gameplay experience. All classes can heal, do melee damage, range damage and (with the exception of the Warrior) can heal. Probably the exception to this rule is the Mage, who tends to specialise in only one school of magic as skills from other souls do not combine well with each other. This results in a much less diverse experience with the mage, however it does make it easier.

The task of figuring out which souls combine well is probably the most daunting one in Rift. It's confusing for even experienced players and the lack of restrictions in the talent trees can make it so that you create a character who doesn't excel in anything particular. But the freedom also allows for creative builds and some powerful ones are bound to surface. Souls truly define your character and your playing experience, more so than any other game I've played before. The flexibility of this system allows one class to play many roles.

The Mage

The PvP system is a lot of fun in Rift. There are four warfronts that you can unlock at different levels, and while they all conform to the types we have seen in other MMOs- capture the flag, capture bases etc-  the maps are unique and well designed for strategic gameplay for all classes.

As well as PvP, the game also possesses a questing system and dungeons (with many raids at the level cap). It's a system that is similar to World of Warcraft Cataclysm, with a handful of hubs slowly moving your character across the zone. It's slightly sluggish, and the quests themselves are nothing special; most of them are just kill/collect. Eventually this does feel repetitive and boring...

Now, for the unique part of the game: rifts. This is what makes the game fresh and revitalising even when monotonously questing for hours. Rifts are gigantic holes in the fabric of the world which allow creatures from other dimensions to enter Telara, our world. If left open long enough, the monsters will destroy your questing hub so it's a good idea to prioritise closing the rift. Most rifts will attract a multitude of players, so grouping is possible. The group system is well designed and is minimal fuss; the system automatically detects players next to you when there is a rift nearby and asks whether you want to join their group. Even two groups can merge together with this simple mechanic- it saves a lot of time. Rifts are spontaneous and are well rewarding making them a fun experience for all players. Sometimes a world-wide rift (invasion) occurs causing havoc across the entire zone. Invasions offer greater rewards, and will encourage more player involvement. The feeling is truly epic and makes the world feel ever so dynamic and changing, unlike many other games where the world remains static. Rifts are one of the game's strengths though sometimes it feels like a weakness as well; it's off-putting at times when you don't want to encounter an obstacle while questing or when there are limited players online.
Some rifts are a true spectacle

Telara is a world which must be explored. Although Rift may not bring many innovative ideas to the table, it is polished in almost every aspect and this results in a satisfying experience. The lush environment and the detail of the world are breath-taking and outweigh the negatives of the game. Trion's support for this game has been excellent and their service in fixing bugs, and providing regular patches have been great. There's a steep learning curve but once it has been overcome you will find Rift to be an extremely immersive experience.

Overall this game deserves 8.5/10

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Diablo III: The Demon Hunter

Dual-wield crossbows, explosives, traps and shadow magic. Combine all these and what you get is a dark, mysterious ranger capable of eradicating an unfathomable number of enemies. Her sworn objective is to destroy the creatures of the Burning Hell, never resting until the impossible task is complete.

The stare of vengeance
Every demon hunter has an inward force which drives them to fight hellspawn; a past experience of some sort. Most have a stereotypical story of being the lone survivor of a demonic invasion, later being taken in by another demon hunter. There is something within all demon hunters that gives them strength to resist the demonic corruption which would drive lesser men to insanity. The hunters hone this very power and channel it to use the demon's power as their own weapon, thus allowing the use of dark magic. The demon hunter isn't restricted to range weapons, however she is the core-archetype of the ranged class. As a result a very small number of skills will revolve around melee, if any at all. At the present moment, there is a very limited knowledge base for this class; only a handful of skills have been revealed, with no skill trees having been released either. The unique resource for this class is still under development as well. All I can say is that demon hunters are swift attackers that will rely on strategic gameplay. Here's the video for some of the skills revealed so far:

The skills respectively:
Fan of knives: A volley of knives which damages any enemies within its small radius heavily, possibly the shortest "ranged" attack.
Bola: The ranger fires a rope with explosives attached around it, dealing minimal impact damage but considerably more explosive damage.
Molten arrow: A linear trajectory which pierces through enemies and deals serious fire damage. The seared ground deals AoE damage to any foe who walks over it.
Grenade: Small projectiles which explode after a couple of seconds, they can ricochet and bounce off other obstacles making them tough to aim precisely; best used for large crowds of enemies.
Entangling shot: Slows the enemy while dealing damage. Nearby enemies may be chained as well.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Diablo III: The Monk

The name is extremely misleading as first impressions would suggest. However, after thinking about it rationally for just a few seconds, the masterful martial art skills of the Shaolin monks spring to mind. The Diablo monk quite simply epitomises hand-to-hand combat. The bone crunching blows combined with the awesome speed that the monk dispatches his foes results in a powerful class to say the least. This warrior is the bastion of justice with light being a crucial element in the majority of his abilities.

The confident stance
says it all
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the monk is his unique combat system. Many of this monk's offensive skills are split into three segments that are triggered in stages. As a result the monk can produce combos of the different stages of different skills into unique chains; all that's missing is a hit-counter and the system will be extremely reminiscent of a classic fighting game. The monk focuses on holy energy, amalgamating beautiful shades of gold, white, silver and blue throughout various skills. Agile yet fragile; the monk is the opposite of the barbarian. The monk utilises the unique "spirit" as its resource pool for skills. Spirit is generated by using normal attacks and combo skills and is spent by using other skills. It's designed to keep gameplay as fast and thrilling as possible: the more you kill, the more you can kill. However, as mentioned above, it's interestingly balanced with the monks limited health supply providing for challenging gameplay. The monks' skill trees are still unnamed with only a limited number of abilities being revealed at the present time. Two out of three trees seem to focus on offensive skills, judging by the skill names such as "crippling wave" and "seven-sided strike". The other tree focuses on more defensive skills.
Without any further delay here are the skills:

In chronological order:
Crippling Wave: A blast of holy energy that works best in a three-strike combo: The first strike slows the enemies; the second will reduce their damage; the third strike is the most devastating in terms of damage as well as how it resets the two effects' duration.
Exploding Palm: One of the most destructive skills on display. Again it's split into three separate attacks, the first two of which do normal damage. The final attack, although seemingly normal as well, works like a ticker-timer bomb. The final blow deals a moderate bleeding damage which increases exponentially when the enemy moves until it dies and explodes into bones and flesh. The explosion also deals damage to nearby foes.
Way of the Hundred Fists: The monk plunges forward dealing a wave of punches, the third "stage" deals a small explosion dealing knock-back damage. The speciality of this move is that it doesn't need to be repeated three times in succession in order for the three attacks to be repeated.
Impenetrable Defence: The monk swings his weapon around himself furiously creating a luminous, impenetrable bubble which deflects any projectiles back in the same trajectory they came from. It also works with melee skills and provides 100% dodge for a limited time.
Seven-Sided Strike: The monk rushes forward and an ancient glyph appears below him. He strikes the enemy seven times and jumps from opponent to opponent.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Diablo III: The Wizard

Reckless, raw and rebellious are some of the characteristics of this individual. She uses magic to her own nefarious ends; magics forbade for over a millennia to preserve authority and balance. This untameable, headstrong youth neglects any tutelage and dabbles in powerful ancient magics. Negativity may surround this class, but surely enough, only in terms of lore...

Power doesn't lie
in experience
It's the generic mage class albeit in my eyes it's the most interesting class. Even though it has a striking resemblance to the sorcerer from both Diablo I and II, there is a fascinating aura surrounding this class. The wizard in Diablo III has honed her expertise within all schools of magic, wielding immense powers in arcane magics, temporal distortion and even dealing with the stereotypical fire, lightning and ice magics with ease. The wizard's resource pool will be Arcane Power. I'm judging that the wizard will have an ample supply of "Arcane Power" at her dispense though at the cost of a limited health supply, as is the case with all mages. The wizard can finely tune her expertise within one of three schools: Storm, Arcane or Conjuring. Storm skills seems to focus on devastating large numbers of enemies with AoE (Area of Effect) attacks such as tornado and blizzard, though it somewhat lacks passive skills which the other trees provide. On the other hand, the Arcane tree contains a wide array passive skills to bolster various aspects of the class as well as holding some defensive and offensive capabilities. Finally the conjurer class, no surprises here, focuses on summoning objects and other phenomena to deal damage as well as providing many temporary buffs.
Here are some of the stunning abilities of the class:

Here they are in order:
Disintegrate: A beam of raw energy dealing considerable damage to anything in its linear path.
Electrocute: A bolt of lightning arcs from the Wizard's fingertips, damaging and slowing the enemy.
Teleport: Move instantly from one location to another, however it carries a considerable cool down time making it viable only for emergencies.
Magic missile: Purple projectiles which deal damage to the enemy.
Slow time: A bubble of temporal distortion, slowing down any enemy or projectile within its radius; the most interesting skill by far from the limited selection at the present time.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Diablo III: The Witch Doctor

Frail, trembling, and slightly hunched-back; the witch doctor is depicted as being physically weak. However his superior spiritual and manipulative abilities make him a fearsome adversary. His powers range from being able to control the minds of enemies, summoning undead creatures without the need of a corpse, to lobbing alchemical projectiles which inflict tremendous damage.

Never judge by looks
The witch doctor is a new class which has been introduced in Diablo III, it's features are reminiscent of the necromancer's from Diablo II. Generally speaking, the witch doctor's style of killing is indirect, often bringing mass-confusion, minions and curses to the battlefield. Nevertheless the witch doctor still possesses  some more "direct" attacks which are just as potent as other classes. If anything, the witch doctor will require more strategic-style gameplay in comparison to the destructive barbarian. The witch doctor possesses the stereotypical mana system found in abundance throughout many RPGs making it similar to a caster archetype. The witch doctor can diversify his role through three skill trees: Zombie, Spirit or Voodoo. The Zombie tree, in the main, will focus on the summoning aspects of the witch doctor. The Spirit tree, true to its namesake, will favour controlling the intangible spirits of enemies, conjure spirits themselves, or manipulate the witch doctor's spirit itself. Finally the Voodoo tree specialises in offensive skills, though it can supplement the Zombie tree by summong "fetishes".
Here are some of the unique chaos-inflicting skills shown in the video below:

Here are the skills respectively:
Mass confusion: The witch doctor brainwashes enemies to fight on your side for a short duration.
Soul harvest: An aura of raw-spiritual power which disintegrates enemies and restores mana as well.
Fire bomb: A demonic projectile which explodes inflicting damage in a small area.
Horrify: A large projection of the witch doctor appears inducing fear within enemy mobs.
Locust swarm: Directs a plague of locusts which spreads ferociously among the horde of enemies.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Diablo III: The Barbarian

The barbarian is quite simply the incarnation of brute force. The immense, near-legendary physical stature of the barbarian strikes dismay within allies and foes alike. The barbarian dispatches his enemies in a primordial, savage manner; they are truly the "dual-wielding furies of combat".

The trademark "guns"
Players will be familiar with the barbarian from Diablo II; not much has changed since. The barbarian is the archetypal melee class who has the uncanny ability to dual-wield weapons, nothing special. However what is different is that the barbarian utilises a new system called "stamina". The barbarian must dispense some stamina in order to use his skills. Coupled with a new stat called "fury", which is required for more destructive skills, this creates unique mechanics for the barbarian which are dissimilar to other classes. For example, when enough fury is gained the barbarian invokes powerful whirlwinds and goes into a berserk rampage. The result is that he literally decimates his opponents.
The barbarian possesses three skill trees: Berserker, Juggernaut and Battlemaster. Well, judging by the names, defence isn't a natural part of the barbarian's style.

Here are some of the confirmed havoc-wreaking skills of the barbarian shown in the video below:

In chronological order...
Cleave: A vicious swipe of the sword which destroys anything in its swing.
Groundstomp: An enormously powerful stomp causing any enemies within range to be dazed.
Leap: A terrific jump into the midst of his enemies resulting in a circular aura of electricity striking anything within radius.
Seismic Slam: The barbarian smashes his fists ferociously within the ground creating a linear earthquake wiping any enemies in front of him.
Whirlwind: A 360 degrees continuous spin which can be controlled to decimate hordes of enemies.
Be sure to submit your views of this class in the comments!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Diablo III is in the "home stretch"

So close, yet so far.
Well, after Jay Wilson's recent ground-breaking announcement that Diablo III is in "the home stretch", I decided that I should compose some articles about Diablo. First and foremost, D3 looks on track for a 2011 Q4 release! When conversing with the New York Times Jay Wilson said: "We're definitely on the home stretch. We're crunching. This is when the magic happens." Well, a subtle hint that Blizzard is on schedule. Furthermore with Blizzard's Q1 conference call on May 9th, we could also get a revelation moment if Blizzard stick to their promise and reveal something about an upcoming beta for D3. Truly exhilarating news for any Diablo fan who has been waiting since 2008.

Secondly, I hope to start creating some articles covering the basic overview of D3 very soon. I shall cover the lore, the classes and perhaps some of the features of D3. All I can say is that we are ludicrously close to the beta period, hang in there guys!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

WoW for your phone: Order and Chaos Online

Gameloft has finally done the unspeakable. I'm sure many of you have laid eyes upon the screenshot below:
No it's not a photoshop, it's Gaikai

We've all desired deeply for there to be an MMORPG on the iPhone, iPad or some other portable console. Well we were initially enlightened by Gaikai's cloud-gaming technology, an ingenious system which would allow gamers to play games using just an internet browser, thus allowing portable devices such as the iPad and iPhone to run it. Well, it was too good to be true. After an extremely long beta and very limited access to Gaikai's services, I had simply lost all hope. Not anymore, on 27 April 2011, Gameloft released Order and Chaos Online. It is simply the closest authentic experience to WoW at the present moment.

Released on the App Store yesterday, it's a £3.99 download, which includes a three month subscription to the game. After that, you'' have to pay 59p per month (or £1.79 for six months) to carry on the experience. It's the first serious attempt to do a subscription-based MMORPG on iOS.

The game includes four playable races: humans, elves, orcs and the undead. The former two races are what the Order faction consists of, and the latter compose the Chaos faction. The game allows for a maximum of four characters to be played simultaneously, which is fabulous as you can try out every single class. Moreover, levelling is a fundamental part of the game, with more than 1000 skills and over 2000 items to acquire. And no, this isn't a grind-fest, the game guarantees at least 500 quests and an enormous world to explore. The game even possesses parties, guilds, NPCs and even a private/public chatting system. They've definitely packed the essentials, hence why the game is a lofty 589MB download.

The oh-so familiar races on an unfamiliar platform

The "app" is rising through the charts rapidly, it's a sure success... for now. What Gameloft needs to ensure is that they provide regular, chunky updates like their fellow brethren at Blizzard in order to prove a long-term success. It's a game design that's definitely inspired by WoW, so why not follow in its footsteps?

Monday, 25 April 2011

Torchlight In-Depth Review

The creative masterminds from Diablo I and Diablo II revitalise the dungeon-crawler genre with an isometric click-fest extravaganza called Torchlight. First impressions may result in a childish overview, however the hordes of monsters and a deep character customisation involving a well-crafted talent-tree system results in an engaging gameplay experience.

The ever-so familiar town centre
Set in the serene mining town of Torchlight itself, players first have to choose a stereotypical archetype for their playable-character. The three classes found in Torchlight cover the orthodox prototypes found in any RPG. The Destroyer is a melee-based class who relies upon brute force and dual-wielding swords in order to decimate his enemies. The second class is the Vanquisher who uses ranged weaponry combined with devious traps to kill her enemies. The final class is the Alchemist whose skills are akin to that of a mage. Despite there being only three classes, there is enormous depth to each class, you even get a trusty companion who joins you on your epic journey! Again, even though you can only choose from two domestic (absurd, I know) animals as your loyal guardians, there is much more depth to them than the naked-eye can perceive. Pets can be transformed into a multitude of creatures using special fish which, not only transforms the former pathetic aesthetics of your pet, but also changes the skills, strengths and weaknesses, making certain transformations useful to certain situations.

More importantly the pet has an inventory of its own which you can transfer junk into so you can save your own bag space, but the most startling feature is that your pet can carry your undesirable items into town and sell them for you, making down-time virtually none! On top of that, your pet can don an amulet, two rings and can even learn spells to auto-cast during combat. The pet can fare well on its own, but from time to time, you'll need to drag a potion or two to avoid losing your friend.

The game's controls are simple, yet sophisticated. You must utilise mouse-clicking to move while skills (and potions) can be hot-keyed to various buttons such as the left and right mouse-click and numbers 0-9. The control system is quick and easy to master yet is extremely effective at the same time. The health and mana bars of your character are aptly located in the centre of the screen making it easy to concentrate on both the monster's health, and your own.

The fishing system is ridiculously basic.
The game is extremely addictive and shines from other recent dungeon crawler releases. Everything that makes the genre so wonderful is present in this single game. Armour customisation is even possible with an array of gems and even enchants. The loot system has carefully been designed to keep the player "hooked", the game distributes a perfect balance of both essentials (like town portal scrolls, gold and potions) and rarities (such as much sought after weapons and armour) to keep the player satisfied and not grinding for certain items. The game even has a simple fishing system in order to transform your pet!

Where the game falters, if at all, is its lacking storyline. The storyline is detached and not immersive as the gameplay. Moreover it is rapidly completed and the side-quests are innumerable and not satisfying, albeit the designers have done ever so well to create rich,varying environments in a linear storyline. Players will traverse lush forests, eerie dungeons and fiery lava-pits while questing. The stylised graphics are breathtaking as well as being downright hilarious at times. Torchlight isn't the typical dungeon-crawler where the prevalent colours are shades of black; the designers have used a palette consisting of a wide variety of colours to create a visually pleasing gaming environment.

Beautiful environments await you

Finally the simplicity of the stat building makes the game approachable for even the most casual of gamers. Players only really need to assign their stats into one of the offensive stat and one into the defensive in a generally equal manner. However there's no need to follow a set guideline, as you can if you want, have a muscular mage albeit the class-skills will heavily restrict avoiding the status quo. The talent-tree system is wonderful and allows for in-depth customisation and great "replayability" as well.

All in all, Torchlight is a marvellous game with some unique features not found anywhere else. The story is somewhat lacking, but not too important in a hack'n'slash genre. The graphics are great, the music is engrossing and the gameplay is extremely addictive. While the lack of multiplayer may seem a little bitter, the single player campaign more than makes up for it, and for a bargain of around £8 in stores, you simply cannot go wrong.

It deserves a solid 8/10.


Torchlight is an action-RPG dungeon crawler from the developers of the Diablo franchise. Basically, this game is a cute mixture of WoW-style graphics blended with a Diablo-style gameplay. The result is a wonderfully addictive game in which you can spend hours hacking and slashing your way through perilous dungeons. Over the next few days, I will be spending time reviewing the game and providing some gameplay content over the first few levels. If you guys have any questions on this game please feel free to ask me via the comments option and I will reply as soon as possible!

Welcome to Passion Gaming!

For many years I have enjoyed gaming thoroughly, however not many of my peers share the same passion as me, I think a lot of gamers know the feeling. I just needed to express my craze for gaming some way or another, and I decided to go down the blogging route! Passion Gaming will bring you in-depth analysis, tips, reviews, and helpful guides on popular games such as World of Warcraft, Runescape, Maplestory, Torchlight, Diablo and much more! Over the next few weeks, I shall be slowly incorporating new content pertinent to gaming; my first target is to incorporate some Torchlight content (link located towards the right). I hope you guys can make the most out of this blog!