Monday, 4 October 2010

[News and Updates] Gamesday, Interviews and Sunshine

Today was my first day back in work after a sunny week-long trip to Gran Canaria.

It's been over 10 years since I last got on a plane and went on holiday, so it was awesome to fly again! The trip was organised as a surprise for my mum, arranged by my Dad, who were halfway through there holiday when me and my sister turned up.

Between shopping, drinking, eating, swimming and catching some rays I also managed to do a spot of gaming. I'd recently got hold of 2 big new titles, Dragon Quest: Sentinels of the Starry Sky on the Nintendo DS and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep on the Sony PSP.

Both are games I'd definitely recommend, especially Kingdom Hearts. As much as I enjoyed Dragon Quest, I found myself more tempted to play Kingdom Hearts when I had a spare moment...although in hindsight, perhaps I'd have gotten to play more if I had chosen Dragon Quest... Why is this? Simply put, as amazing as the graphics are on KH (and they are the best I've seen on the PSP) and as great as the combat mechanics are, it all comes at a price...

Heavy Loading Times

Not only that, but you can only save your progress at Save Points (much like many RPGs) which I found aren't all that frequent. Dragon Quest on the other hand can be saved where-ever you like, although is recommended for a 'full save' to head for a Church in the game's many villages. With it's more simplistic graphics, much like all the other titles on the DS, it loads a whole lot quicker and less frequent.

On another slightly geeky note, I purchased the first 2 volumes of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. I was a big fan of the film, and of the downloadable game, and I had previously been recommended giving the books a read. I was fairly impressed! It goes to show (at least at far as I am, I need to pick up the final 3 volumes yet) how close Edgar Wright stuck to the books when creating the film.

It was a fantastic week, and I'm already missing the sun, sand, cold Warsteiners and the pool...


The day before I jetted out, myself and Mike went to Gamesday at the Birmingham NEC, which I've covered over on Blast Process.

As always, it was great to see all the new upcoming models, and the perfect excuse to purchase a new unit for my new Warhammer army (the High Elves).

Like the past couple of years, and as you may read on my Gamesday round-up, both THQ and Bioware-Mythic were on hand to talk about the upcoming Warhammer-based videogames. It's becoming very apparent that creating games based on the 2 major Games Workshop brands (Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000) is very profitable. I remember back a few years when I got really excited at the prospect of the original Dawn of War and getting to play a Fire Warrior in first person.

Warhammer-based games aren't exactly new. Way before Dawn of War and Fire Warrior, you had titles such as Chaos Gate which instead of playing out in real-time it instead played out more like a tabletop game, choosing to be turn based. And who could forget Shadow of the Horned Rat on the Playstation and PC?!

Carrying on the Warhammer theme, while at the event, me and Mike managed to get to speak to Bioware-Mythic's Community Manager, Andy Belford. Not only that, but we even got to interview him on camera!

I respected people who interview folks on camera even before I had a shot at it myself, but now I've done one, I have even more respect for them!

You can check the video out in this article over on For a general round-up of Gamesday, here's a link worth reading.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

[New Release] Playstation Move: A Wii Rip-Off?

Last Friday I spent a good part of the day playing with the new motion controllers for the PS3, the Playstation Move.

The Move marks Sony's take on the motion controlled madness that is starting to play a very important part on today's gaming consoles. Nintendo successfully bought motion remotes to the market with the Wii, and although it's sales have started to dry up a bit it continues to appeal to families.

The Playstation Move, in essence, is much like the Wiimotes. The Move Remote itself has a 'squashy' ball on the top that changes colour depending on what your playing and how brightly coloured your room is. Unlike the Wii, you require another accessory to play, the Playstation Eye. Although the Eye camera has been available on the PS3 since the release of Eye Of Judgement (which is quite some time ago now) it's only now getting the treatment in deserves. The camera picks up the motion controller (more so the coloured ball on top of the remote) to track and relay your movements into the game. While the Wiimote can also track basic movements, the Move also incorporates a '3D depth perception', which basically means if you move the remote closer to the camera, the object your using in the game will come closer to the screen (and obviously vice-versa if you move the remote away from the camera).

The main title I played was Sports Champions, which on reflection really requires two of the Move remotes to get the most out of the game as although you can play the games within with just the one, your losing out on some of the fun.
Take for example Gladiator Duel. One remote means your using it as a sword and as a shield, controlling the movements of both by pressing the trigger on the back to switch to your shield. If you however have 2 Move remotes, the second becomes your shield. You still need to hold the trigger to actively use your shield, but it allows you to move your shield separate to your main weapon.

As well as purchasing a remote, I also purchased a Navigator, which you may imagine has a similar use to that of the Wii's Nunchuck. The Navigator doesn't have any motion tech however, and is purely used to provide an analouge stick (for situations such as moving your an on-screen character). It also features an X and O buttons. Sadly, out of all the games played on Friday only the one title, Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition, required the Navigator. Instead of purchasing a Navigator you can choose to use a standard Playstation 3 controller in your other hand, but I can see this being a little uncomfortable, so would recomend buying a Navigator if your going to be playing a number of games that require it.

I had a feeling that Sony weren't going to get the free demos of upcoming Move titles on the Playstation Network in time, but they did! Launch day titles such as Start The Party and Sports Champions were ready for new Move gamers to download (although those gamers who purchased the Starter Pack with the camera didn't need too, as all the demos were bundled on a disc in the box). Heavy Rain and Tiger Woods also got updates to allow you to play with the Move remotes on day one.

My Move game of the day? That award goes to a game you can't buy off the shelves. Tumble, a Playstation Network title, works in a similar way to the board game Jenga...pitting players to build up oddly shaped blocks to score points while avoiding knocking any blocks out of bounds. Simple in design and concept, but a brilliant game that really makes the most out of the Move's accuracy.

Sony's attempt to tap into Nintendo's casual market is a great move (pardon the pun). It's a great new peripheral and one I hope gets the support from developers that it deserves (Just...go easy on the 'party games' guys!).

Myself, Tom and Mike recorded are first play with the new Playstation Move, and I'll provide a link to the videos once they appear on

Monday, 6 September 2010

[Events] Gamesday is nearly upon us!

As some of you may, or may not be aware...not only do I enjoy gaming in the videogame sense...oh no...I also enjoy games of Warhammer Fantasy and 40K!

Towards the end of September every year, Games Workshop (the company behind Warhammer) put on a large gaming event, entitled Gamesday.

I've attended two so far, although I didn't attend last years. Since I've been going to this event its been held at Birmingham's NEC, which again is the venue for this years.

The event includes a sneak peak of upcoming minitures, a painting competition called Golden Demon, seminars with key people from the design studio as well as the chance to pick up upcoming releases early!

This year I'll be attending with fellow Blast Processor Mike. We're hopeing to get some time to chat to the studios behind the upcoming videogames based on Warhammer licences, such as THQ.

I'll be posting an article about the event as soon as I can!

Gamesday is on September 26th. Tickets are still avaliable from

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

[News] Disappointment and Joy

A couple of weeks ago I applied for a gaming website as they were after a number of new writers to join the team. The site in question is Ready-Up.Net.

Sadly, I wasn't succesful, which is a little disappointing. However they did have a very large selection of candidates to go through, and compared to most I've not been writing about games for half as long as a number of other bloggers.

On the flip side though, I was sent an email from one of the sites main editors who said that my work was quite good, and pointed me in the right direction to improve. So the only way is up! Myself, and fellow Blast Processors Tom and Mike have some great ideas for the site, which means more writing and video work.

Speaking of writing, I've posted a short write-up on both the movie and game of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World over on

Monday, 16 August 2010

[News] Desktop is Out of Action

Once again, my poor desktop PC has been struck down by a virus, which means it'll need reformatting again...which will inevitably take a while as it's never straight forward.

It's a good job I have a laptop to fall back on!

Anyway, with that slight rant behind me, tomorrow marks the start of gamescom over in Germany, so it'll be interesting to see if any of the publishers decided to announce anything awesome that's on its way...perhaps something they weren't ready to announce at E3?

Last night I gave the demo of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World a go on the PS3 (360 version coming soon). If you've got a Playstation 3, then I'd heavily recommend giving the demo a download. It plays much like an old-school side-scrolling brawler, such as Golden Axe. They've purposely given it a pixelated visual look. Not only is it funky to look at and fun to's also awesome to listen too as well! It supports 4 player local co-op, but however does not have any online multiplayer.

Speaking of multiplayer's a shame I should mention that not having an online multiplayer is slightly disappointing. When I was growing up I didn't play games didn't have the option too, it was all about getting some friends together and sitting in front of the same TV. I believe there is more fun to be had beating your friends at games when they are sitting next to you, although its very understandable that in some cases, this just isn't possible. Logistically its easier to play someone's great to organise a good old fashioned games evening!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

[Update] Video is Up!

As promised, the video of my main character on Warcraft hitting 80 can now be found in this post over on Blast Process.


Saturday, 31 July 2010

[Newsflash] DING!

Finally, after 32 hours of playing as my paladin (mentioned in this post)...

I've hit level 80!

80 is currently the highest level you can reach on World Of Warcraft, that is until the new expansion is released later in the year, called Cataclysm.

For the occasion, a video has been recorded. Once it's been edited and posted online on Blast Process I shall provide a link on here.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

[News] Nintendo 1: R4 Cards 0

And it's's now illegal in the UK to import, sell and advertise cards that can be used to play downloaded DS titles.

It was bound to happen. The defendants of the case were keen to point out that these devices (such as the infamous R4 card) could be used for legal purposes, such as allowing users to play homemade games. However the High Court mentioned this in a statement...
The court affirmed that game copiers first circumvent Nintendo's security systems before any non-infringing application can be played on Nintendo's handheld products [BBC News]

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

[News] Kinect Causes Concern

Yesterday Microsoft announced the UK price of their new motion sensor accessory, £129.99.

A little steep in price? I've been reading a number of articles online that have posted the price of Kinect in Europe, and the general feeling is that a large number of people aren't going to be willing to shell out that amount of money for an accessory.

I've personally taken a fair number of preorders for Kinect where I work, and I've been telling people it was estimated between £100-£130, so I'm happy that its fell (just about) between those two figures. I've personally preordered one, and will probably be collecting it, if only to jump around in front of my T.V. with friends and family.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

[News] Bond's Back & Blizzard's Backlash

So far, for me, July has been a funny old month. Not only has it been somewhat busy both with work and things happening outside of work, it also feels like we're not quite in the summer yet with the weather changing on a daily basis.

This week I've gone and bought another Wii console (one of the shiny black ones). Since the launch of the Wii, this new black one marks my third purchase of Nintendo's machine. Why I hear you ask? I've been contemplating purchasing another one for a little while now. I'd managed to play the New Super Mario Bros title on a friends console, I'd finally got to play the first Mario Galaxy game prior to the release of the second and I was a bit disappointed with how little I'd played of Zelda: Twilight Princess. On top of that, myself and fellow Blast Processor/friend Tom went and bought the latest Pokemon title on the DS (Soul Silver) which encouraged Tom to then go out and buy Pokemon Revolution on the Wii, which THEN made me think...'if I had a Wii, we could battle over the internet with our Pokemon...on a TV...with better graphics!'.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

[Another Update] Hideo Must Read Gamepad: Z.O.E 3!

It was only yesterday that I blogged about my disappointment of no Zone of The Enders 3 announcement...which didn't surpraise me sadly...

However, within the last few mins I've just read this on IGN UK:
Hideo Kojima has spoken about development of the much requested mech game Zone of the Enders 3, saying it will be seriously considered after the release of Metal Gear Solid Rising.

"This is not a rumor," Kojima told jeuxvideo, "My team and I want to develop a new Zone of Enders. But it turns out that Kojima Productions has limited resources in terms of teams and directors. So at this stage we have not yet had time to work on Zone of Enders 3 which has been postponed at the calendar. However, I think after Metal Gear Solid Rising, I will look seriously [at] Zone of Enders."
I'm happy, very happy

Thanks for answering my prayers Hideo Kojima, for giving me hope that we'll see a new Z.O.E game at some stage!

Full Article can be found here. Cheers IGN

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

[Updates] New Things

Did you all enjoy E3? I certainly did. It was good to see Nintendo come out fighting, since last years conference wasn't all that amazing (the vitality sensor...). A new Zelda with Motion Plus controls, Donkey Kong Country, Kirby and not to mention a new video of the already announced Metroid M...that's 4 reasons atleast for me to need to purchase a Wii once again.

And yet, all these new Wii titles weren't my highlight of Nintendo's conference. It was a badly kept secret that Nintendo had a new DS on the way, with a rumoured 3D screen, but what really made me happy was the video they screened with different developers talking about the 3DS and the followup slide show showing a sneak peak of what games were in development for it. It's fantastic, at this early stage to see so many 3rd party studios already making games for it, I mean...we're talking about some classic IPs.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

[E3] For The Emperor!

I like Warhammer 40,000, I have many miniatures and armies (mostly un-painted). With this in mind, any gaming news relating to Warhammer brings a smile to my face!

So as I follow the latest news via the Internet for the latest trailers and information from the biggest gaming event of the year, E3 2010...and as I began to type up a roundup of the big 3s conferences (Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo) I came across trailers of not one...but two new trailers for two very different games coming out from THQ.

The first is a new trailer for THQ's Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. Announced a little while ago, from what I've previously read and seen, Space Marine is best described as Gears of War with Warhammer elements. It's being developed by Relic, which is the studio behind the impressive Dawn of War games. The new trailer shows that the game is coming along very nicely indeed. Hit this link for the trailer, along with a couple of new screenshots.

The second trailer is for a rather different approach to Warhammer 40k, and for me, this one could finally be the MMO replacement I've been looking for (damn you World of Warcraft!). That's right folks, it's a trailer for the 40k MMO, which has been officially named as Warhammer 40,000 Dark Millennium Online. Details are slim on the ground, with the game's developers stating that more information will be released later on in the year, however the demo clearly shows plenty of mounted combat! Click this link for the trailer and to see a few screenshots.

I'll be posting more information/thoughts on the latest news and announcements from E3 over the course of the week on here, as well as over on

Thanks to Kotaku for the information/trailers.

Monday, 24 May 2010

[Events] 15 Hours is Nothing...

...compared to how long 2 guys waited for Super Mario Galaxy 2 outside the Nintendo Store in New York. I think 15 hours was long enough for me outside HMV. Nearly 50 hours? Yikkkesssss!!

Legends, and they got signed goodies too!

Check out the Kotaku link here.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

[News] Returning to a Previous World

Recently, I found myself doing something I ultimately knew I'd end up doing. I didn't think it would happen so soon, I thought I could resist...until at least the new expansion. But no...

What is it I speak of? I have returned to Azeroth, I've World of Warcraft.

I'll pre warn you now, some of what I'm about to type may not make much sense to those of you who haven't played Warcraft before, and for that I apologise. I do however mention other gaming related thoughts after my WoW mass of text, so feel free to skip down to the dotted line!

Re-stepping into the boots of my former main character felt somewhat bizarre and foreign at first. My screen resembled a mess of action bars with various abilities and equipment binded to them that at one stage I used to understand.

As with any MMO, abilities come and go, talents/abilities change over time. With this information in hand, for the first half an hour or so I found myself fighting creatures below my level, trying out various abilities, some new, some re-configure myself on how to play my character.

He's currently at time of writing a level 71 Dwarf Paladin. He's showing his age, sporting equipment that's very out dated. He's currently a Retribution 'specced paladin, with the current left over talent points being used in the Holy talent tree. It's probably a terrible combination of talents, however I seem to be healing quite well, and currently find myself OK when battling solo.

I've not re-entered Warcraft on my own however. A druid called Fle, of whom my paladin has leveled all the way to 71 with has also returned, controlled by my best friend J. Again, although he'd admit he knew he'd be tempted to return to Warcraft when the newest expansion comes out (which is Cataclysm, due out September-ish time), he was equally surprised by how easily he'd returned.

When we logged out all those months ago we had done only a few quests in Northrend, the home of the game's current main villain, the Lich King. Before the launch of Wraith of the Lich King (WoTLK), we'd already 'quit', but had returned a week or so ready for WoTLK. Sadly our re-visit to Warcraft, even with the new continent to explore, felt like it was missing that 'spark'. So why, after all this time do I feel like I'm yet again enjoying playing Warcraft?

The timing of my return is also quite baffling really. I work practically full time wanting to progress in the managerial hierarchy while also finding myself sitting on top of new release titles of which I've only played a handful (or less of, in some cases) of which I do generally want to play to completion, such as Final Fantasy XIII. Their is also this blog site, of which I wish to update on a more regular basis, as well as working alongside my friends Tom and Mike over @ And yet, all said and done, I'm enjoying setting out on quests with Fle the Druid, all be it on a much more casual basis than in the past.

Sadly, I'm no psychologist, perhaps I'm just crazy...

Once I've settled down a little more back into Warcraft (or perhaps I may once again lose the spark of wanting to play it) I'll go on to posting about how different the game now feels and plays compared to the past. I've already noticed differences such as quests being a lot more fun/interactive, and how finding groups for instances has been over hauled.

Time will ultimately tell if I'm still playing when the world of Azeroth is transformed (see this link for information on some of the upcoming changes planned for Warcraft come expansion time).


If you've read this far, you deserve a brew, so stick the kettle on. For those who chose to skip the randomness of a Warcrafter, then welcome back!

I've made it quite clear on both here and over on Blast Process that I couldn't wait for the new Rocket Knight arcade game, and finally, after months of waiting, it's finally been unleashed online! And it's ace!

OK, OK, my view is slightly bias, and it isn't the perfect game. But it is colourful, full of character and nods its head at Sparkster's previous outings where possible. I highly recommend downloading the demo if you're a PS3 or 360 user.

It won't be long until I start crossing my fingers for a Zone of the Enders sequel to be announced, as it'll yet again soon be time for E3. Rocket Knight and Z.O.E 3 in one year? Yes please! Make it so Kojima!

And with that, I've realized the time, so I'll have to call time on this post. Don't forget folks, Red Dead Redemption is out on Friday this week, and its looking pretty epic.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

[News] Information Overload!

I'm trying to not post generic game news/announcements on here, but in the last half an hour I've just seen a few articles I feel are more than worthy enough to warrant your attention.

The fact I've come across all of this in such a short amount of time is pretty awesome. Anyway, I'll crack on:

Item Number One: Gran Turismo to include Top Gears Test Track
That line above pretty much needs no explanation. The creator of the fabled 'will-we-ever-see-it' Gran Turismo 5 has confirmed that the test track from the BBC's popular driving programme Top Gear is set to appear in the game. This had been rumoured at for some time now, with GT5 already having a service which will allow you to view archived Top Gear episodes. Linked from Kotaku here.

No word yet if The Stig will appear in game...

Item Number Two: HMV trialing Games Insurance

Again, do I really need to explain? HMV have rolled out to selected stores the ability to 'insure' your game purchases. From as little as a £1 your game will be insured for a year against being damaged or even stolen. Quite on how they plan on this being implemented is a little beyond me. GAME, Gamestation and HMV already have ways of protecting Hardware against damage, although not from theft. For a £1, it could well be worth it! Linked from MCV here.

Item Number Three: Halo Reach up for Preorder online. Comes in 3 flavours.
That's right. Although it hasn't got an official confirmed release date at time of writing, you can now preorder your copy of Halo Reach online. Hold on, their is more...

You've got your normal, everday copy of the game. You've got your Limited Edition version of the game. And then you've got the Legendary Edition, which includes all this:

Pretty neat huh? I know which version I'm preordering (more money than sense...I know I know, but it is pretty schweeettt). Linked from GAME's online shop, however spotted it also on sites like and so on.

Item Number Four: 8-Bit Linkin Park Game incoming

Point number 4 is a little more along the lines of Linkin Park have teamed up with mobile video game developers Artifical Life to create a new iPhone/Touch/Pad game which doesn't look too bad! Dubbed Linkin Park: 8-Bit Rebellion, it plays like your standard side scrolling beat-em up of old, like say Streets of Rage. Featuring customizable characters, 8 bit covers of LP's biggest tracks and the reward of an exclusive Linkin track for finishing the game, this one could be one to watch!

Article I originally spotted on (yet again) is here, with an another article including trailer here.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

[Video] Night Trap!!

Over on, you'll get to see me in my first YouTube games review/acting debut...broken down into 2 videos. The video is based on the classic video game Night Trap.

Slightly confused? Check out this post out for both videos, and see for yourself...

Excuse the excessive use of the word ermmmm...., especially in the first video! Practice shall make perfect!

Big round of applause should go to Mike and Tom, as it was all based on their original idea. Tom's done another epic job in editing this video.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

[Interview] Adam from Ubi talks Games. Plus a Round-up of Todays Event.

First off, for anyone reading this who passed through the Market Centre in Crewe today and donated cash to Children's Hospice UK (by ether random donation, playing Just Dance or generally choosing an Ubisoft item) thank you!! You helped to raise £45 for charity, which isn't bad at all for a couple of hours!

GAME Crewe will be doing future events to raise even more cash for Children's Hospice, and has donation boxes out all day everyday, so feel free to drop in and donate at anytime! All 3 of the POS standees (Assassins Creed 2, Avatar and Splinter Cell: Conviction) we had on offer today will still be on offer for a £3.50 deposit until we run out, just pop in and ask!

Adam Bhatti, the representative from Ubisoft who donated his time today to help us raise cash by demoing Just Dance and bringing along a lot of the Ubisoft goodies took time out to answer some questions for Gamepad. Here's what he had to say...

We've obviously just spent a good part of the day demoing Ubisoft Wii titles, but do you actually prefer 'motion based' gaming? Or do you see yourself as a more traditional 'controller' sort of gamer?

As an individual, and as a company, our focus has changed this past year. What started off a fruitful platform has saturated a little, so money isn't made with 'waggle' products as much as it has been.

Q: Digitally downloading full games are being tipped to be the main stream way of accessing titles in the coming few years.
Does this personally mean any difference to you? Would you be all for downloading new releases, or do you prefer 'boxed' products and see boxed products being around for sometime to come?

A: Personally I adore the ownership feeling of having a boxed product. Mind you, only just got into using iTunes recently, so maybe I'm all old and grumpy! Things like Steam look great, but PC is PC.

Q: Are games being aimed too much at casual gaming (Facebook/Farmville, motion controls being two examples) or do you feel that their is still a good balance with harder, more in-depth titles suited to more hardcore gamers?

A: They were, but the industry has become more balanced again with a refocus on hardcore titles. The new motion controller accessories heading to Xbox and PS3 later in the year (Natal and the Playstation Move) will continue to strengthen the balance between casual and hardcore gaming, thanks to them both being accessories for more traditional hardcore platforms, instead of being a necessity.

Q: What would you say is your favourite classic game? And what are you currently playing at the moment?

A: Classic game...has to be anything Mario! Currently really into Heavy Rain on the PS3.

Q: Which big titles can we most look forward to from Ubisoft this year?

A: The new Assassins Creed, and don't under estimate Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, with budgets that match a certain Call of Duty...

Thank you very much for you time Adam!!

So all and all, a top day, and again a big thanks to Adam, and Ubisoft for helping us raise cash for charity!

Just to note, the answers to the interview questions were given based on a personal opinion and not of Ubisoft as a company.

Monday, 5 April 2010

[Event] Ubisoft/Children's Hospice UK Charity Event

A quick heads up folks!

I'll be working along side Adam, our resident Ubisoft representative on this coming Tuesday (6th April) inside the Market Centre in Crewe Town Centre to help raise money for Children's Hospice UK.

If your passing through Crewe on Tuesday drop by! We'll have Wii games out for people to play on, such as Just Dance and other new Wii-based Ubisoft titles (for a small donation to charity of course), as well as having items such as styluses, faceplates and large point of sale standees available for you to donate money for. GAME are supporting Children's Hospice UK this year with many events happening at different stores throughout the year:
Children’s Hospices UK is the national charity that gives voice and support to all children’s hospice services. Our vision is for every child and young person who is not expected to reach adulthood - and their family - to have awareness of, and access to, the highest standards of care and support close to or in the home.
Its all for a truly great cause, so come along and donate some cash!

The event will be running approx between 10am-3pm outside GAME.

Quote used from Children's Hospice UK's official website, which can be found here

Thursday, 18 March 2010

[Event] Final Fantasy XIII Launch Event: Heroes!

It was cold, it required patience, nerves, lack of sleep...was it worth it? Most definitely!

March 9th 2010, the day the newest Final Fantasy title landed in the UK, marking the first 'major' Final Fantasy title to appear on next generation consoles. Not only that, but also marking a first with a major Final Fantasy not only being released on a Sony system. Now in its 13th iteration, Final Fantasy XIII is now available to buy on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

To re-cap from my previous post, myself along with 2 friends, Becky and Pete, departed for the launch event of Final Fantasy XIII with was being held at the HMV store on Oxford Street. To encourage people to come in costumes, the first 50 people in the queue in costume nabbed themselves a free copy of the 4 disc FFXIII soundtrack.
Because of the possibility of picking up a free copy of the soundtrack, plus the possibility of the event being mega busy, it didn't take long to decide that we'd be getting into London as early as possible. After checking the train times, it looked as though we could get to the HMV store for just before midnight the day before. The signings weren't due to start until 5.30pm, which meant we had approximately 16 hours to wait, but to be one of the first *hopefully* would more than make up for that. Train tickets booked, it was time to prepare. We had a long time outside in the coldness of London to look forward we equipped ourselves with 2 camping chairs and a small dome tent (cheers Mum and Dad!!), as well as snack food.

We arrived in London at around 11.45pm, and after a short taxi ride arrived at the HMV store at around 11.55pm. We had hoped to one of the first groups of people to arrive, when infact...we ended up being the very first to arrive! We couldn't help but be a little worried that we'd gone to the wrong store, even though one of the large side windows was comprised of one huge FFXIII poster of the game's lead character Lightning, and a FFXIII banner stretched across the large doorway. Choosing to hold off putting the tent up straight away we soon found ourselves being spoken to by small groups of people thinking we were there to attend a midnight launch, and were infact disappointed when we broke the news that the store wasn't opening for midnight.
Chairs out, scarfs on...the 16 hour wait was on.

As time pressed on, it was becoming painfully clear that although I was wearing layers of clothing, they weren't going to be enough to keep me warm. Between the hours of 2am and 4am especially, the temperature dropped loads. The passing drunks and homeless people thought we were crazy to be sitting there in such cold temperatures. Oxford Street itself never fell silent, not a minute went by without someone walking by, a warm taxi/bus drove past or infact one of the many street cleaning machines passing us by. In the end, with the amount of people constantly going up and down the street we chose not to put the tent up. While me and Pete stayed awake for the entire evening, Becky managed a few minutes tucked in a sleeping bag in the doorway of the store.

After what seemed like almost an eternity in the cold 5am rolled around. 5am meant McDonalds was now open. McDonalds meant we could have food and drink. HOT FOOD...with a HOT DRINK. Never has a sausage and egg mcmuffin with a hot chocolate tasted so nice. It couldn't have come a second too early, as for most of the cold evening we'd hardly moved or spoken to one and another, as the coldness had zzapped away our spirits. That's right, our spirits were, in a crazy kind of way saved, by McDonalds!

We'd survived the night anyway, and as 6am arrived, so did the first person to arrive after us. She was somewhat surprised to have been beaten so early, especially based on where we'd come from! Between 6am and 9am a few more people turned up, although most hadn't come with costumes. Prior to the store opening at 9am, Becky and Pete had started to change into the main parts of their costumes, mine was relatively simple to slip on. We thought, well had hoped that come 9am we'd get to queue until 5.30pm in the warmth of the HMV store. the doors opened at 9am we found out to our horror that to queue for the signing we'd have to wait round the side alley of the store, near a back door. Fantastic...more standing/sitting in the cold...
In all fairness however, as time yet again pressed on, more and more people were starting to turn up and it was getting slightly warmer. Although it kept getting cloudy, we managed to stay dry throughout the night and day. With our places secured we were also able to take it in turns to wander off and have a look around our surroundings, which meant walking in and out of warm shops.

The three of us spoke to a number of other people who were waiting. Some were in costume, some were not. Most however, shared fond memories of their particular favourite Final Fantasy games, VII and X being far by the popular choices. As for the question of which version of XIII they'd bought, it was by far the PS3 that came out on top, a fair number of which were none to happy at all with a 360 copy even existing, based upon leaks/rumours/news that a 360 release in the western markets meant cuts for both the PS3 and 360 versions of the game compared to the original PS3 only release of XIII in Japan.

2pm onwards saw a large increase in activity, as a fair number of people were starting to join the queue. At this point people up and down the queue had started to take photographs of other people waiting, so at this point the three of us had changed into our cosplay outfits:

Pete had decided on Zell (Final Fantasy VIII), Becky had gone for Yuna (Final Fantasy X) while myself had gone for Vincent (Final Fantasy VII). A big thank you to my friend Emma's friend Adam, who kindly lent me the Vincent Valentine costume at the last minute! Pete's and Becky's had been made by themselves.

Around 4pm the media had started to arrive, and it wasn't long before word spread that we'd spent the evening camped outside the front of the store. We were interviewed by several people, from several different websites and magazines. Some were filmed, some just involved being photographed. Ether way, I'd never imagined being treated like some kind of crazy gaming-related celebrity, it was certainly a quite bizarre experience! At one point we had cameras queueing to speak to us! We've managed to track down a couple of online videos, but I'm sure their are more out there, I'll ether add them to this post, or post any new ones I find in future blog posts. Videos found thus far can be found at the end of this blog post.

Just before 5.30pm a group of Square-Enix related folk appeared infront of us and started handing out the promised free soundtracks, as well as for all those at the beginning of the queue (costume or not) a free large XIII poster, which was a nice surprise. Moments later, at last...after all the waiting...we were allowed in. Pete taking the lead, followed by Becky, and then myself.

I really didn't know what to expect as we entered the store. I certainly didn't expect to walk down the queue barriers that had been formed in the store with so many people watching on, camera flashes going off in a way you'd expect at something like a film premiere, as we walked towards the built-up stage area.

Stopping at the queue barrier, we again got interviewed and had more photos taken. With the store filled up, the event started with the appearance of the launch events host, Alex Zane (a popular DJ and TV presenter). He went on to talk about the title, and ofcourse mention who we were there to meet before walking off the stage towards us. He asked Pete a couple of questions, before asking Becky some questions as well (sadly, he wasn't interested in talking to me!). He went on to talk to other people down the queue before pulling 5 random folk out of the queue to take part in a special Final Fantasy XIII quiz. The runners-up prize was a Final Fantasy Elixir each, 2nd was 3x XIII action figures, while the winner nabbed a Final Fantasy XIII Super-Elite package (which was greeted by some boo's in and around the store, like I said, some people clearly none too impressed with the Xbox 360 port!).

With the quiz out of the way, it was time to bring out the 2 people we'd queued for 16 hours to meet, the videogames producer Yoshinori Kitase and the game's leading art director Isamu Kamikokuryo.

After taking their seats, we were all informed that we could get only the one item signed, due to the amount of people who were waiting in the queue and time constraints. Again walking up in-line , but only after the HMV V.I.Ps had been up to grab their autographs Pete led the way. He got his shiny very limited edition XIII branded slim PS3 signed:

Becky on the other hand, somehow, got 2 items signed. The first being a copy of the game and second the free soundtrack she'd been given:

I on the other hand was back to just getting the one, of which I'd gone for getting my limited edition of the strategy guide signed:

And with that, we were quickly moved on out of the way. Sadly we didn't get to really speak to ether Yoshinori or Isamu, but we did have their autographs! After managing to leave the HMV store we grabbed a taxi back to London Euston so that we had plenty of time to catch our train back home.

And that was that! A long wait for what seemed like a split second meeting of 2 of the games creators, but one I felt was well worth it. I'd have liked to have done a spot more 'journalism', however a mixture of not preparing well with my questions and business cards (my printer dying last minute not helping) as well as being completely amazed at being one of the first in the queue for an event like this, of which I'd never really attended before distracted me from taking more photos/videos and asking more questions.

Would I do something like this again? Probably not, atleast, not to the extent we'd gone to for this one. What it did do however, was add to my keen-ness of being one of those games journalists who arrived to speak to both
Yoshinori Kitase and Isamu Kamikokuryo as well as taking time to talk and interview other attendees.

If you're planning on doing anything like this yourself, trust me when I say wear thermal clothing, do not underestimate how cold a place like London can get over night!

As promised, I leave this post with videos we've currently found online. If you come across one not featured below, please please send me an email, or post a link to it in the comments section of this blog post. I particularly like the end one, posted by ITN's Game On! YouTube channel:

That's right...Heroes!!...with our own montage to 'My Hands' by Leona Lewis (which has been picked as the games western theme song).


Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

[Event + Update] Launch Event and the Day our PS3s Stayed Silent...

And shall soon be the 9th March 2010...which means I'll soon be enjoying the delights of Final Fantasy XIII. Excellent!

To celebrate the launch of the newest major Final Fantasy game HMV are to host the official UK Final Fantasy XIII Launch Event at their store on Oxford Road in London. The games producer, Yoshinori Kitase and the games art director, Isamu Kamikokuryo will both be signing autographs at the event. Prizes can also be won by attendees.

I was tempted to attend from the second I heard the news, however, I live a fair trek away from London, and with my work being as it is at the moment, I wasn't too sure if I'd get the time off.

But...I'm pleased to say... I'll be there!!! I'm planning on interviewing a number of attendees on the day, as well as recording a video or two that will be posted on here (thanks to my friends Pete and Becky, who'll both also be attending).

In other news this week, Sony released a statement on March 1st 2010 asking Sony Playstation 3 users, (specifically owners of the older generation units, the 40, 60 and 80 GB units) to not switch their consoles on until further notice. The reason for this was down to a bug in the consoles firmware, causing users to become unable to access the Playstation Store, unable to play certain games and even corrupting some trophy data.

The full statement reads:

As you may be aware, some customers have been unable to connect to the PlayStation Network today. This problem affects the models other than the new slim PS3.
We believe we have identified that this problem is being caused by a bug in the clock functionality incorporated in the system.
Errors include:
  • The date of the PS3 system may be re-set to Jan 1, 2000.
  • When the user tries to sign-in to the PlayStation Network, the following message appears on the screen; “An error has occurred. You have been signed out of PlayStation Network (8001050F)”.
  • When the user tries to launch a game, the following error message appears on the screen and the trophy data may disappear; “Failed to install trophies. Please exit your game.”
  • When the user tries to set the time and date of the system via the Internet, the following message appears on the screen; “The current date and time could not be obtained. (8001050F)”
  • Users are not able to playback certain rental video downloaded from the PlayStation Store before the expiration date.
Apparently this is down to the console thinking this year was a leap year (when it obviously isn't). Early the next day, Sony released another statement, stating that users can now continue using their console as normal:

"We are aware that the internal clock functionality in the PS3 units other than the slim model, recognized the year 2010 as a leap year. Having the internal clock date change from February 29 to March 1 (both GMT), we have verified that the symptoms are now resolved and that users are able to use their PS3 normally. If the time displayed on the XMB is still incorrect, users are able to adjust time settings manually or via the internet. If we have new information, we will update you through the PlayStation.Blog or"
Oh dear... I'm no hardware/software programmer, but this seems like quite an oversight that can be traced back to before the PS3 hit the shelves. The timing of this couldn't have been worse for some people, as a couple of my friends found themselves unable to play this weeks top selling PS3 exclusive, Heavy Rain.

Owners of the newer Slim PS3 units were completely unaffected.

With thanks to Eurogamer and The Guardian Blog.

Monday, 22 February 2010

[Announcement] Blast Off!!

That venture I mentioned in the previous post? It's gone live!!

Blast Process is a new blog written and created by Michael Davies, Tom Parry and myself. We're going to be looking back at old retro titles, remakes of retro titles on Xbox Live/Playstation Store/WiiWare as well as current generation games.

Since the sites gone live, Tom's taken a peek at the new Sonic 4 after new footage had leaked online while I've done a small preview of the upcoming remake of Perfect Dark. Mike however, has made a mysterious discovery in the site's first video, in an un-boxing video of the new Alien vs Predator Hunter Edition.

Make sure you pop by and check it out!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

[News] Feeling Nostalgic?

I've been lucky enough to join a couple of friends on a new online venture, a blog which will hopefully bring back memories you may have of some old classic titles as well as some more up to date ones!

Think classic videogame reviews, news on upcoming Xbox Live/WiiWare/Playstation Store arcade games...and so much more.

I'll be posting a link in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

[News] Decision, Decisions....

Usually it’s just before Christmas when we struggle to buy, and then play a barrage of new releases. Last year however, many of the games we were expecting to play over the Christmas holidays were delayed until this year. I believe it was something to do with Modern Warfare 2...
So, here we are, nearing the middle of February...and already we've had big releases, Bayonetta, Mass Effect 2 and the recently released Bioshock 2 to name but three. And it only gets busier, with Aliens Vs Predator, Final Fantasy XIII and Pokémon Heart Gold/Soul Silver meaning regardless of what consoles you play or own their shall be something new to purchase and enjoy.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

[Preview] Return of (a Little Known) Hero - Rocket Knight Preview

Last night I was given the chance to play the trial version of Rocket Knight, which is a new title being developed by Climax Studios for Xbox 360, PC and PS3. I originally posted an article a few months back when the game was announced. Will it meet my expectations?