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The children of South Park have changed their game for The Fractured But Whole, and the soundtrack has changed along with it. Whereas Stick of Truth looked to games like Skyrim and the soundtracks of the Lord of the Rings films, Fractured But Whole is looking toward the super hero genre. It is also expanding how much music and how many sound effects are part of the game by a huge degree.
Nicholas Bonardi is the lead audio designer for South Park: The Fractured But Whole, leading a team that works closely with long time South Park composer, Jamie Dunlap, to craft the sound of the game. For Stick of Truth, Obsidian mostly pulled music directly from the show, and worked with Dunlap to fill in the gap. Here Dunlap, as well as Bonardi and the rest of the sound team, are crafting more original sound.
“He knows what South Park sounds like,” Bonardi says of Dunlap. “He’s been working with them for so long that he has a large degree of trust with them and thankfully, we’ve earned their trust early on.” Bonardi said that early on he also pieced together music from the show to soundtrack the game, but Nonardi works so fast, so it’s often just better to request original music from him. “Living in the digital age is what allows South Park to make its stuff so quickly,” Bonardi says. “Jaimie [Dunlap]’s used to getting his stuff at like 2:00 in the morning on a Saturday when the show releases on Wednesday, so he needs to get them the music by Tuesday night. He’s got literally no time to do it.” Dunlap works from his home-based music studio in L.A., but the magic of the digital age allows him to turn around music very quickly. “The quality of what he gives us sounds very much like an orchestra right off the bat. Usually, we can just run with it without a lot of back and forth.” Bonardi and his team are also composing music for the game, but Dunlap takes a listen to everything giving it the South Park thumbs up.
The super hero movie references are very clear, and you will hear all kinds of music inspiration from super hero films, despite the main Civil War narrative baseline. Avengers-style music is an obvious inclusion, but so is inspiration from the X-Men films, and Batman. “Superman – sort of,” Bonardi says. “The good parts of it. But also some more retro stuff, like Batman Returns.” Both The Coon and Mysterion’s soundtrack are heavily inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight film trilogy, but Coon’s group, coon and Friends, borrows more from The Avengers. Mysterion’s group, Freedom Pals, are more inspired the sound of the X-Men films, partly due to Timmy’s role as an Xavier-type.
Outside of the protagonist children, the town’s assorted factions have their own soundtracks, as well. One of the more interesting pieces of music we got to hear belonged to the Vamp Kids, which offers a clear auditory reference to Castlevania and that distinct Konami brand of rock.
Where the music is mostly on Dunlap’s court, the game’s sound effects are handled almost entirely by Ubisoft. Much of the show’s sound effects come from cheap sound effect albums, which adds a level of cheapo humor to the show’s audio design. The team has access to all the show’s iconic sounds, like doors, the school bell, and the vocalized cat meows, but Ubisoft is handling one of the game’s most important sound effects – the farts.
The studio Bonardi and his team use to record sound has a corner dedicated to fart sounds, with plungers, a Vuvuzela (which Bonardi admits he’s not really sure what that was used for), as well as a jar of Flarp Noise Putty.
A lot of the fart sound effects on the show are simply down to the skilled voice work of Matt and Trey, but Bonardi and his team needed to come up with a much larger library for the games myriad sounds. "In a game like this, there's a point where you end up with farts on everything," Bonardi says. "And you go, 'Oh man. There are too many farts. Everything farts.' We have to work on really getting different qualities into these farts, to the point where you're focusing on these powers, but it has a quality of a fart to it." Bonardi describes the protagonist joining with Kyle (A.K.A. Human Kite) for his fart-kour power. "If you just have a regular fart through the whole thing, then you're just farting all the time. We mixed it so it's kind of like a jet engine in there. We layered it to the point where it's more jet engine, but it is still gated by this farty quality."
Trey and Matt were presented with tons of different sounds going down the list saying which ones they liked and didn’t like, which gave a Ubisoft a good idea of what they liked and what kind of fart sounds they should focus on. For all of its focus on farts, however, Bonardi assures no real farts were recorded for the game. "I can say, pretty much flat out – no."
"You wouldn't think you would have this much direction in something as simple as a fart," Bonardi says. When asked how many fart sounds his team has recorded Bonardi says, "I actually do not know how big the library is now. It’s tempting to put a number on it. I am going to say it's definitely more than 100."
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Version 1.4 of The Division is nearly upon us. Ubisoft already revealed some big changes planned for the latest update, but with the impending release, now players can get a full list of the alterations in store.
This update is so substantial that the development team put the upcoming DLC plans on hold in order to get the core game's mechanics in order. The Division's official site spells out every last detail, but the big additions are the new World Tiers that control the difficulty (and rewards) of encounters. Beyond that, players can expect a variety of balance and quality-of-life tweaks, including adjustments to gear, interface, balance, and other areas.
Update 1.4 releases tomorrow, October 25.
The Division came out in March of this year, and keeping players engaged for that amount of time can be challenging – especially when players have complaints about the core gameplay and progression. Even with these changes, The Division could face a challenging few months with a bunch of new shooters like Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare hitting shelves.
Autumn is a special time for the gaming community, where an event known as Extra Life brings together gamers everywhere to raise money for children's hospitals. This year Game Informer will be live streaming dozens of fun games for 25 hours from 8am to 8am CT November 5th-6th on our Twitch and Youtube channels to raise money for Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.
Last year our incredible community raised over $ 38,000, setting a new record for all of us and propelling us to push even further. It was an amazing experience for everyone involved (even those editors tortured by ghost peppers) and we can't wait to do it again.
We have a mountain of gaming items to auction off, including limited edition systems, figurines, controllers, and full games. Seriously, we have a lot of games to give away. More than all other years combined. We're also going to be playing some really great games and throwing in shocking surprises and revelations along the way. If you'd like to help raise some money for the kids, you can join Team Game Informer right now and start asking for donations, and when the stream kicks off head to our donation page to be eligible for some awesome rewards . So come hang out with us on Nov. 5th and let's do some good. For the kids!
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Nintendo recently announced more details about its next major platform, the Nintendo Switch (formerly known as the NX). Excitement is higher than usual for your average console – being able to seamlessly play high-quality games at home or away is an attractive feature.
What does this mean for sports games and those of us who play them? From what we currently know about the system (scroll down for the official reveal video), I have questions about how the Switch may handle sports titles.
The Controller & Multiplayer
First off, I'm concerned about the controller in regards to sports games. One of the main features about the system is its detachable controllers for multiplayer. While using the controller in its standard configuration gives players access to a normal array of buttons and triggers, disassembling the controller and giving another player one of the Joy-Con's sections cuts the controls available to any one player in half.
Sports games require a lot of button presses to perform their often complicated gameplay functions, and it doesn't seem like the Joy-Con controller – when split into sections – has the ability to perform the necessary inputs. For example, you have to hold a single Joy-Con section sideways, which also further cuts down on the buttons available since using the controller in this configuration makes pressing the shoulder button hard since it's now all the way over on the side. Moreover, whomever gets the right section has to put up with that section's analog stick being more centered than the one on the left Joy-Con section.
From what I know about the Joy-Con controller, it appears that each sports title would need to accommodate a different, and seemingly pared-down control scheme. When it comes to third-party developers creating their sports titles across multiple systems, studios generally want to make the same experience over all the different platforms. This streamlines the development process and cuts down on cost. If they have to tinker with the Switch version of their game because of the Joy-Con's sections, however, that's a possible reason to take more time to develop and release the Switch version or not even do it at all.
Multiplayer could be restricted to only using the announced Pro controllers that don't disassemble in order to ensure the full complement of controls, but that would undercut the Switch's stated ease-of-use objective in the first place.
A big question for the Switch is how much power it has and how it handles game storage. The system uses a custom Nvidia Tegra processor like the one used in its Shield line of PC streaming handheld units. The current line of thinking is that this means the Switch will not be as powerful as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. If this is true, it makes me wonder if the Switch has the ability to run sports titles – from graphics, to A.I. computations, to framerate, etc. – on par with the competing platforms.
Furthermore, it appears that the Switch uses small game cards you insert into the screen unit. With games routinely taking up 40+GB on our hard drives, hopefully sports games on the Switch, either from an overall modes/footprint standpoint or from a computing power one, don't have to pull back from the myriad features and modes that are practically mandatory for a normal sports title these days.
Speaking of features, sports titles, with their fantasy online modes (like Ultimate Team) and other online multiplayer aspects, demand a full-fledged online infrastructure. Traditionally, the online infrastructure for Nintendo platforms has been lacking compared to other systems. Chat functionality, finding players easily, and other amenities aren't up to snuff with Microsoft and Sony, and this needs to be addressed with the Switch if the console is to achieve parity. If not, that's alienating a sizable chunk of sports players who love online multiplayer.
There are still a lot of details Nintendo has to reveal regarding the Switch – facts that could easily render these concerns moot. Until then, there are questions that could put the company in a similar position as its previous home systems, with its new platform as a second-rate home for sports titles. Hopefully, the system can retain its identity without alienating developers and/or sports fans with its offerings.
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Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.
Infinite Air (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) October 25
Franchise Hockey Manager 3 (PC, Mac) October
Football Manager 17 (PC, Mac, Linux) November 4
Motorsport Manager (PC, Mac) November 10 (check out more about the game in this previous Sports Desk)
Steep (above)(PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) December 2
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.
Snow PS4 Beta Includes Pay Structure & Winter X Games
It's unusual for a beta to cost money, but this is offset by beta users getting $ 30 in gear. The thing is, that gear will be worth nothing if you don't actually like the game – something betas usually address for free.
The Atlanta Falcons Use Madden 17 To Get Around NFL's Stupid GIF Ban
As I once said to someone, "Everybody loves football. Everybody hates the NFL…"
Ever since the original Plants vs. Zombies game launched in 2009, the series has expanded far beyond its humble tower defense roots. The Garden Warfare series took the franchise to the third-person shooter genre, and now Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes pushes the IP into the realm of collectible card games.
The base of Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes is a free-to-play PvP collectible card game along the lines of Hearthstone. Unlike many other games inspired by Hearthstone, Heroes features asymmetry that takes place at the mechanics and turn-based level.
Join Daniel Tack and me as we take a look at Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes. We play a match as zombies before turning the tables and taking control of the plants.
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Though Battlefield 1 sets out to put players in the midst of World War I, developer DICE probably didn't intend for this Zeppelin to hit a singularity during its fateful fall towards Earth. Either this is some exposé of the covered-up Famous Fire Tornado of 1916, or just an innocent (and hilarious) glitch discovered by JesseJames106 while playing the Xbox One version of Battlefield 1.
Sadly, this anomaly did not happen to Matt Bertz while he reviewed Battlefield 1, which you can read here.