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TEAM REVIEW / SMITE (PC)

 

Most MOBA titles follow the same formula – whether you’re  guiding a team of heroes, monsters or soldiers, you’re still watching the battle from a top-down perspective, controlling your mortal minions from the heavens like an all-seeing, all-powerful god. But SMITE, in which you literally are a god, isn’t like most MOBA titles. Developer High-Rez Studios has given players the chance to play in third-person, controlling one of 50+ gods or goddesses sourced from the entire pantheon of religion and mythology. In SMITE, you don’t just control the action, you’re part of it. But is a change of perspective enough the breath new life into a stale genre? That’s the question posed to TVGB’s Kristen Spencer, Noe Ponce and Robert Price in this Team Review of SMITE.

 

 

Kristen Spencer: Even though SMITE is my first taste of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre, I think that developer High-Rez Studios’ tasty blend of mythology, strategy and immortal-inflicted brutality will be a hard dish to beat. Normally, I don’t enjoy non-narrative driven titles, but with its ever-expanding roster of gods and goddesses – Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Chinese, Hindu and Mayan are all represented – you still get some story, even if you have to Google it yourself. The blushing MOBA-virgin that I am, I liked that the character builder allowed me to auto-buy items and auto-level abilities as I played, a feature you can turn off once you become more comfortable with the nuances of play. Combine that with the third-person perspective and WASD controls and you have a great gateway game for FPS fans looking for a lane-pushing, tower-pummeling change of pace. This makes it feel more like an action RPG, bringing a visceral feeling to all the game modes. If I’m punching a god in the face, I want to see their face. SMITE gets that. One thing I didn’t like, and this is true of all “free to play” games, is all the micro-transactions. But High-Rez does at least offer a pass that gives you access to all current gods and all future gods as they’re released, meaning you can basically “buy” the game. Just don’t get sucked into the black hole that is buying different character skins.  Or do. I’m not one to judge as I immediately dumped 400 gems on changing names, going from my usual handle to something more heavy metal album cover-esque. Every little advantage helps when you’re going up against gods. [9.0]

Noe Ponce: SMITE is the latest and greatest MOBA on the internet. You play as gods, deities, immortals, monsters and myths from all sorts of religions, folklore and mythology from around the world. Not only are the characters unique, but so is the point of view. No longer are you looking topside at your champion of choice. Smite plays completely in third-person view. This different perspective gives SMITE unique gameplay choices that other MOBAs cannot have. SMITE also offers a large variety in terms of maps and game types. Currently there are five game modes to choose from: Conquest, Joust, Arena, Assault and a unique custom game that changes every day. Additionally, SMITE is very noob friendly which I approve of. Players are able to go in to practice mode and try out any god for free. They can also rent gods they don’t own for matches using in-game currency. But that’s not all. Hi-Rez also gives players the ultimate purchase option. For only $ 30, gamers can unlock all gods and all FUTURE gods. You’re essentially buying the game but trust me, it is totally worth it. The only drawback I can think of is that SMITE has a rather high learning curve if you are not used to other MOBAs, such as DotA and LoL. It’s hard to get adjust even if you are. Fresh out of beta and with a bright future ahead of it, SMITE is definitely your next MOBA. [9.5]

Robert Price: After spending quite a bit of time and money on other MOBA titles such as League of Legends and DoTA 2, I was somewhat nervous when approached with the opportunity to try out the recently out of beta SMITE. This title has been in beta for quite some time and has had a huge following, a following that I just didn’t understand until I played it. The game is absolutely beautiful in so many ways, starting with the third-person over-the-shoulder view that SMITE uses. The game goes on to have a very impressive and stable business model as players can purchase individual gods or a package that contains all current and future Gods for $ 30 USD. Speaking of Gods, the game has a wide variety of them based around religions, mythology, and more from all over the world. The game has multiple ways to help newcomers, both to the MOBA genre and to SMITE itself. Players can opt for auto-skill leveling and auto-purchasing so they can focus on the mechanics of the game and figuring out strategies for each god. SMITE contains a selection of different game modes which range from all-out 5v5 PVP to Conquest (which is very similar to the standard for League of Legends and DoTA). Hi-Rez Studios has made me a huge fan with SMITE‘s stable lobbies, great community, amazing business model, and variety of modes. This game has creating a new addiction with me and I don’t regret it one single bit. If you have wanted to join the MOBA genre or want a new take on it, SMITE is what you have been looking for. [9.0]

 

 

SMITE is the perfect introduction to the tower siege genre – there’s no cost to start playing, the third-person perspective is FPS fan friendly, and there are no mechanics that put new players at a disadvantage. Whereas some titles charge for upgrades, meaning those with cash to burn are able to steamroll the fiscally frugal, the only things you can purchase with real money in SMITE are new gods, cosmetic skins and voice packs. Some gods and skins can even be purchased not with gems but with Favor, which you’re constantly accruing by playing matches. When it comes to actual gameplay, you’ll get better not by buying your way to the top but by playing. That being said, SMITE is still a MOBA at its core. There are still the typical staples of tower destroying, game laning, and a rather daunting user interface filled with stats and icons. But to those trappings High-Rez has added a wide variety of characters, playlists, unlockables, maps and modes that, along with the unique third-person perspective, make every match feel fresh and exciting. If you play MOBAs, this is the MOBA to play. And the sooner you sign up the better, before all the good Valkyrie names are gone.

 


That VideoGame Blog

TEAM REVIEW / Goat Simulator (PC)

 

Every gaming generation has a few great titles that define the systems du jour, a few choice selections of software so grounded in the time they were created, and the system they were created for, that they become synonymous with the hardware. For Genesis it was Sonic the Hedgehog. For NES it was Super Mario Bros. For Xbox it was Halo. And for Steam, is it Goat Simulator? That’s a hard, hard no. But Swedish independent developer Coffee Stain Studios wasn’t looking to make a great game, or even a good game, so long as it was fun. So is this deliberately “small, buggy and stupid” sandbox simulator of a goat who hates, like seriously hates family cookouts, fun? That’s the question posed to TVGB’s Cody Shults, Andrew Burrage and Noe Ponce in this Team Review of Goat Simulator.

 

 

Cody Shults: What is there to say about Goat Simulator? This is everything I would have dreamed a goat simulator game would offer me. Feel like headbutting a human off a construction crane to his death? I can do it. Hurl an axe at a crowd of people simply by using my tongue? Awesome. Invoke the spirit of Michael Bay by blowing up a gas station with a well placed hind leg kick? HELL YES! I can do all of those things, and more, even in slow motion if I prefer. I love Goat Simulator like I love, well, simulating the life of a goat in a made up world where everyone accepts that they might be next in the sacrifice to the unholy goat god. In all seriousness, this game is extremely fun, and I cannot wait to see what people cook up with mods and Steam Workshop items. My only gripe is that I saw a town/city nearby, but was unable to sabotage it. Let’s get to work modders and open up the world to the glorious simulation of goat! [9.0]

Andrew Burrage: Have you ever wanted to be a goat and do goaty things?  Well Goat Simulator is the game for you!  Jump over a fence?  Check. Eat grass?  Check.  Sacrifice people to the goat god and gain demonic psychic powers?  Check.  Goat Simulator is a goofy, buggy mess of a game, and that’s what makes it fun.  I can go from climbing a crane and catching a ride on a hang-glider to playing “flappy goat” on a tv.  The achievements give the game some challenge, but mostly I just like walking around and finding new things to kick, lick, or baa at.  My biggest complaint mirrors Cody’s – the explorable world is pretty small.  However, the game does cater to the modding community; we’ve already seen some mods that augment your goat-bilities, and some other levels are available, so maybe eventually our goat’s universe can be expanded.  All in all, If you’re looking for a deep, engaging storyline to play, then this game probably isn’t for you.  If you’re looking to kill some time and want to control a goat, then Goat Simulator will be the best $ 10 you’ll ever spend.  The devs have no illusions that their game is the next Mass Effect, but they also know that sometimes it’s ok to be a goat. [8.5]

Noe Ponce: I was really excited when I first heard about Goat Simulator, a quirky, open world where I can control a goat and earn points for going on rampages and completing ridiculous stunts. However, upon getting my hands on it, I felt the game was a bit over-hyped. I know Goat Simulator was not intended to be a serious, hardcore game, but I still felt a little let down. I was not able to control the goat the way I wanted or expected to. The “lick” ability was especially sketchy. I could lick-up some things that did not expect to be able to, but other things that seemed obviously lick-able, I could not lick. Despite these inconsistencies, the game did have its high points. The graphics in Goat Simulator are gorgeous. The world is vibrant, bright and highly detailed. The physics system is also very respectable. Using Unreal Engine 3, rag dolls physics have never looked better when you blow yourself up to kingdom come. [6.5]

 

 

When you think about it, Goat Simulator doesn’t quite deliver on its title in that it’s a rather poor simulation of a goat – we’re no animal husbandry experts, but we’re still pretty sure that aside from the demonic sideways-eyes, there’s nothing realistic about an indestructible billy goat who can climb ladders, wield an axe with his sticky prehensile tongue and secure a jetpack harness without the aid of opposable thumbs. And let’s not forget the way he phases through walls, falls through floors and other spooky stuff we totally should have expected from The Church of Satan’s official mascot. But Goat Simulator is charming because of the bugs, not in spite of them. That’s why Coffee Stain Studios left them in; they thought they were funny, and they were right. What the game lacks in depth and design it makes up for in laughs as you engage the rag doll physics, activate the slow motion, and watch your hateful four-legged avatar spin, flail and flop a swath of destruction through this otherwise peaceful community. Yes, it has been over-hyped, but not by the developer who are the first to admit that your money might be better spent on a hula hoop, a pile of bricks, or maybe a real-life goat. But if you go into it realizing it’s not going to be “GTA with goats,” you’ll be surprised by the amount of detail they packed into a game created in just one week. Though the single small-town map is, well, small, it’s packed with secrets to discover, experience and possibly headbutt repeatedly until they explode. In other words, exactly what the internet asked for.


That VideoGame Blog

Xbox And UK Channel 4 Team Up For Television Miniseries

Microsoft and Channel 4 have announced a partnership to develop an eight-part science fiction miniseries called Humans. The collaboration is part of the Xbox Entertainment Studios program headed by Nancy Tellem.

Humans is set in an alternate present day and focuses on a family that purchases a refurbished synthetic household assistant. The series is an English language adaptation of Real Humans, which ran on Swedish television in 2012.

The English version will be written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley (Spooks) and produced by Kudos, a UK production company. Xbox Entertainment Studios is also working on a previously announced Halo digital project and the excavation of the Atari E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial dump site. Humans will run on Xbox in North America and Channel 4 in the UK in 2015.

[Source: Xbox Wire]

 

Our Take
I’ve never been clear on the purpose and focus of Xbox Entertainment Studios, especially now that head of Xbox Phil Spencer is pushing a “games first” message. Sure, Halo programming and even game-related endeavors like the E.T. dig can be logically connected to the Xbox brand. But this show seems like a major departure for a division that is purportedly trying to win over gamers.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Early Sonic Boom character designs were ‘traumatic’ for Sonic Team

Have the character designs in the upcoming Sonic Boom by Big Red Button Entertainment ruffled your fur and/or quills? It could always be worse. Bob Rafei, CEO of Big Red Button, told GameSpot that early designs were downright “traumatic” for Sonic…
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Valve VR leader joins Oculus R&D with new Seattle team

Oculus has scooped up Atman Binstock as its new Chief Architect; he’s the former Valve virtual reality head and one of the leaders of the VR Room demo at Steam Dev Days. Binstock will head up a new Oculus R&D team in Seattle, Washington, which joins…
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Exiting Irrational team shares its ‘proudest’ BioShock Infinite moments

Irrational Games, as we knew it, is closing its doors. As its final goodbye, the dev has released a short video featuring former employees discussing its “proudest moments” working on the studio’s final project, BioShock Infinite, and the game’s…
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Video Shows Canceled 2010 Crash Team Racing Game In Action

A video along with a handful of details have appeared online showcasing a canceled Crash Team Racing reboot that was in development in 2010.

Crash Bandicoot fan site Crash Mania posted the video online you see below. The game was originally being developed in tandem with another canceled Crash Bandicoot game, Crash Landed. The two were supposed to be follow-ups to 2008's Crash: Mind Over Mutant.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The build of the game shown in the video features four characters, one race track, and shows off the ability to customize your kart with different animal-themed engines and wheels. The characters also appear to have distinct powers, like the shark's ability to snap people off the track in its jaws and Polar the polar bear's ability to ride a gigantic snow ball on the track. You can find more details on Crash Mania.

The Crash Bandicoot name is still owned by Activision. Activision clarified its ownership last year when rumors surfaced that the franchise may have been sold to Sony. When asked about the future of Crash Bandicoot, a representative from Activision said, "We continue to explore ways in which we could bring the beloved series back to life.”

[Source: Crash Mania, via Reddit]

 

Our Take
It's hard to say how fun a game is without playing it, but this Crash Team Racing game looks interesting. Seeing the shark attack another racer on the track was a surprise, and the animal-themed wheels and customizations are cool. It's disappointing to hear the game was canceled. There's a big demand for a new Crash entry and I hope Activision recognizes it.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Keiji Inafune And Mega Man Zero Developer Team Up For Azure Striker Gunvolt

Mega Man's creator, Keiji Inafune, has been a busy man since leaving Capcom. His latest project is a 2D platformer with psychic soldiers called Azure Striker Gunvolt.

The game is developed by Inti Creates, a studio best known for its work on the Mega Man Zero and ZX games for Capcom. Inti Creates also helped to develop Mega Mans 9 and 10, and is currently helping Comcept with Mighty No. 9. Infune says he is the director of action for the game.

Azure Striker Gunvolt follows the exploits of a psychic soldier with electricity powers who takes on bosses with assorted specific powers – like the ability to create wormholes – as he expands his own. Gunvolt is apparently told to assassinate a virtual pop star named Lumen, who he learns is the avatar of  a psychic girl names Joule. His hesitation to kill her is what sets him on his journey.

Azure Striker Gunvolt is coming to to the 3DS eShop. You can check out the trailer for the game below. According to Destructoid, who recently spent some hands-on time with the game, it's coming to North America as well as Japan this summer.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Thanks to Julio Ubeda for the news tip!

[Source: Gunvolt, via Destructoid]

 

Our Take
It's a little surprising to see what a appears to be a spiritual successor to Mega Man Zero and ZX from Inafune, while he is working on Mighty Number 9 (and Kaio: King of Pirates and Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z), but you can't deny that the man knows what people want from him. The game certainly looks cool, and I hope it makes its way to North America.

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DayZ team doubles down with new developers

Bohemia Interactive is adding new people to the DayZ development team, “effectively doubling the whole project,” the studio writes in an update on Tumblr.

Bohemia is currently focused on fixing key bugs and starting work on new features, and last…
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League of Legends Team Builder beta starts March 3 – trust falls not included

Riot Games’ League of Legends is built on a relatively simple premise: you and four other players each pick a character, assign yourselves a role (tank, support, etc) and use your unique abilities to destroy the enemy team and their base. But what…
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