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RANDOM LOOT: It Ain’t Fear, It’s Dredd

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Random Loot is a new series in which I get to focus on one particular game, movie or even comic, be it relatively old or quite new, and then ramble about it, often going off-course in the process or using it to make a point about something else entirely. This series is far less critical than my reviews. I’m less concerned with being entirely fair, and more with just presenting my personal views. You’ve been warned.

Although I greatly appreciate the vast depth of cinema of offer these days, the nuanced storylines and outstanding performances that we are so often treated to, there are some times when all I want is to sit down with a beer and watch a lot of joyous, utterly unapologetic violence. On those days, Dredd is all sorts of awesome.

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Are Ubisoft Working On A 2D Prince Of Persia Game?

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According to French gaming website Portail Du Jeu Video Ubisoft are currently working on a brand new Prince of Persia game which will use the UbiArt Engine, which powers the brilliant Rayman: Legends, as well as upcoming game Child of Light.

The report goes on to state that the game will use a similiar animation technique to the one seem in the Rayman games to create the sensation of a 3D Prince.

When Eurogamer asked Ubisoft about the Prince of Persia franchise last year, they replied: “It will happen when we feel it is ready, when the creators have brought something interesting. That’s the case for all our franchises. They’re cooking. Some are cooking longer than others, but they’re cooking.”

The Prince of Persia franchise was last seen in 2013 with The Shadow and the Flame, a mobile game. The last time the series appeared on console was back in 2010 with the surprisingly solid The Forgotten Sands. The classic series is certainly due a comeback, and the swap back to 2D might just be what it needs, especially when you consider how wonderfully Rayman’s return to a flat plane worked out.

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The Xbox One Edition Of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Seems To Have Been Delayed, But Not Cancelled. Yet.

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In a rather bizarre turn of events it was this morning discovered that all references to an Xbox One edition of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 had been removed from the game’s official website, despite it being due to release in a mere two weeks.

Website Gamers Honest Truth claimed that sources close to Activision had told them that the game had been, “delayed indefinitely on Xbox One.”

Amazon still have the Xbox One edition listed, as do other retailers, but reports are filtering through from gamers that their pre-order has been cancelled. Other people are saying that their pre-orders have not been effected.

Given that the upcoming film is being released by Sony speculation has begun that Sony are somehow involved in the delay, but this seems unlikely at such a late stage, and no such problems existed with the release of the first Amazing Spider-Man game, based on the movie. Furthermore, if Sony were involved then we would have probably seen the Xbox 360 version effected as well.

Activision have responded with to requests with a blanket statement, saying:

 “We are working with Microsoft in an effort to release The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game on Xbox One. Currently, the game will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and the PC on 2nd May, 2014 as previously announced.”

Obviously this sheds no light on the problem, although it does seem to perhaps suggest aa problem at Microsoft’s end. The wording clearly states that the game is still alive, and with any luck a new release date should hopefully be revealed soon, but there does also seem to exist the chance of the game being cancelled completely. However, since it has presumably already entered full production we can assume Activision will do everything they can to ensure it hits shelves.

The big question remains; why go to the trouble of erasing all traces of an Xbox One edition from the official website if it’s just going to be delayed? And what could cause such a serious problem this close to launch?

 

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Warhammer 40K: Storm of Vengeance Review – It’s A Storm Of Something, Alright

 

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Platforms: PC, iOS
Reviewed On: PC
Developer:  Eutechnyx
Publisher: Eutechnyx

Singleplayer: Yes
Multiplayer: Yes

This game was tested using an AMD Radeon HD 7790 graphics card kindly supplied by AMD. Click here for details on that, the Radeon HD 7790 and the test system used for all PC games.

Disclaimer; this game was provided free of charge by the publisher for review.

The warhammer 40K universe promises nought but endless war and rivers of blood, thus managing to gather legions of fans to whom this greatly appeals, myself happily included. Alongside the wealth of expensive tabletop miniatures used to represent this eternal carnage numerous videogames have been released under the Warhammer license, such as the fairly recent Space Marine and the brilliant Dawn of War – which remains, in my view, one of the best RTS titles ever - each capturing the thrilling promise of destruction in their own way.

And then there’s this.

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Ubisoft Handed Out Free Nexus 7 Tablets To Watch Dogs Preview Event Attendees

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Allegations of corrupt journalists and reviewers being bribed in order to get higher scores and positive coverage exist within every brand of the media, but in the world of gaming they seem far more prevalent, largely due to angry Internet fans screaming “paid-off” whenever a game they dislike gets a high score.

In the time I’ve been writing and talking to journalists from around the web I have to say that almost all of the allegations appear to be bullshit. Almost every time a game gets a high score or even a low score there’s no questionable motivations to be found, other than personal opinion. Having said that, there’s some shady practices, and the gaming industry often seems intend on trashing its own reputation.

Cue Ubisoft, who have been revealed to have been giving out free Nexus 7 tablets to journalists attending the recent Watch Dogs preview event. Yup, free tablets.

This was confirmed via Twitter when Steve Hogarty, who did not attend the event personally, tweeted:

  Other writers also took to Twitter, many of them to publicly state that they either refused to take the gift, or plan on auctioning it for charity. Steven Burns of Videogamer wrote:

Meanwhile  Edwin Evans-Thirlwell of OXM wrote a great little blog about the subject, explaining the tablet was an “asset stick” filled with Watch Dog videos, screenshots and other things usually used by the media when creating preview articles or reviews. He explained that the Nexus 7 is the tablet apparently preferred by Watch Dog’s leading character Aiden Pearce, and that OXM are planning on auctioning the tablet. He did admit to drinking the water and eating the mints included in the package, though. Cheeky bugger.

So let’s think this through; at the moment we have no idea how many people were at the event, or how many actually accepted the tablet.  Nor are we are of how many of those journalists plan on auctioning the Nexus 7 for charity or giving it away to readers.

But more importantly, was this really a deliberate attempt by Ubisoft to bribe journalists?  I’d like to think it wasn’t. It may very well have been an innocent move on Ubisoft’s part, but that’s not how the public will view it, and for good reason. If nothing else it’s a clear indication of a company not thinking things through. Any gift of this sort will raise the question of a review being influenced, even though no writer worth his or her salt should have his or her opinion swayed by anything a company’s PR team does. Accepting a gift does not mean a writer is automatically indebted to the company or that it will influence a review, but that doesn’t excuse the problem, nor justify a clear and obvious flaw within an industry that already is often viewed as untrustworthy due to its business practices. Things like this should not happen, because company’s like Ubisoft should know that it will damage their reputation and call in to doubt any review of their forthcoming game. In the Internet age scandals travel at the speed of light. In a perfect world a journalist should not be influenced by a gift, but there’s always the chance that they will be, and this is not a perfect world.

Review code for new games is one thing since it’s a requirement for writers to be able to effectively do their jobs, as purchasing all new releases would be costly. I’ve never hidden the fact that almost all reviews featured on this site stem from review copies provided free of charge by the publishers, because I could personally never afford to buy even a tiny fraction of them. But past that lavish PR packages filled with little trinkets, however inexpensive, should not exist, and yet they do. Events like this Watch Dogs preview serve only to do harm, and perpetuate the idea that all journalists are ultimately corrupt. A simple CD filled with the relative assets would have sufficed, though these can all be delivered digitally.

Furthermore, I would like to say that while I was invited to the event I did not attend. While you have no reason to trust me past any other Internet-based writer, I’d also like to say that if I had I would either have not accepted the gift, or auctioned it off for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

This discussion simply should never have happened. There should never have been Nexus tablets handed out. It really is that simple.

Confusingly Ubisoft have also tweeted this:

 

So, Ubisoft didn’t know what their own PR team were doing? Clearly Ubisoft need to explain exactly why this happened, then, because right now they’re in hot water and with very good reason.

So, what do you think? Is it a bribe? Was it an incredibly stupid but genuinely innocent move? Do you feel that things like this can and do influence reviews?

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Hefty New Chunk Of Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare DLC Adds New Characters And A New Map

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Popcap are continuing their plan to bring free content to owners of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare with a new chunk of DLC titled Zomboss Down, which adds a significant amount of content to the game.

Firstly players can look forward to a new map called Cactus Canyon for Gardens & Graveyards mode.

On top of that the level cap has been increased to 30 with new challenges to complete as well, and a total of eight new characters have been added, some of which you can glimpse in the gallery below. Popcap have also included a whopping 200 new customisation items, so now there’s no excuse for having a drab character.

Finally, you can now aim assist points for a far wider variety of actions.

Now bad for the low, low price of utterly free. The download weighs in at a relatively chunky 2.8GB, which I’m currently in the middle of downloading as this new content has given me the push I needed to jump back into the game.

You can find my full review of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare by clicking HERE.

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April Xbox One System Update Has Begun Rolling Out

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Microsoft are have begun rolling out the latest system update for Xbox One, which includes a couple of handy upgrades. Major Nelson took to his blog to reveal the full list of changes and improvements.

  • Game and app saves and updates. A game save progress bar will show you the status of your game saves. You will also be able to easily tell what games and apps are being updated or have been updated recently.
  • Friends improvements. Notifications will be added to see when favorites and friends sign in to Xbox Live. This was one of the most frequently requested features, so we made it a priority to include it in this update. Also, friends who are in multiplayer will be identified in the friends list.
  • Kinect voice and motion improvements will continue to be fine-tuned for quality and reliability of Xbox One commands. For example, we’ve updated some of the gesture functionality to reduce false positives on non-hand objects triggering gesture commands.
  • Improved GameDVR video quality through compression algorithm improvements.
  • Blu-ray player supports 50 Hz video output for content recorded at 50 Hz. We’ll also be updating the Blu-ray Player app in the coming days to round out these improvements.
  • Controller and headset adaptor firmware updates will reduce audio static and improve wireless connectivity.
  • Silent reboot after system updates and system update on demand now available. If your console is in Instant On mode, the update will happen automatically and return to standby upon completion. This means you won’t need to power on your console after an update moving forward. If you want to take future updates when available without waiting for your console to do it on its own, we’ve added this option under system settings and you’ll be able to use it next update. It will only show as available when there is an update to take

As a movie lover the Blu-ray player being bumped up to 50Hz is a personal highlight of this update, although I do tend to use a stand-alone player for viewing films. The changes to the update system is also going to be pretty handy as now you’ll be able to come straight home, sit down and play on the console without waiting for an update to finish, assuming you leave your console on most of the time.

Friend notifications is something that really should have been present at launch, though, and it’s surprising that it has taken them this long to add the feature in.

Despite Microsoft’s many PR gaff’s, they’re slowly turning things around and these constant updates are impressive, although I’d still like to see them focus on speeding up the operating system as it’s rather sluggish.

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