Golden Joystick Awards 2010 – The Winners

Here are the freshly announced winners at this years annual Golden Joystick Awards:

Action/Adventure Game Of The Year – Assassin’s Creed II

Download Game Of The Year – Plants Vs Zombies

Fighting Game Of The Year – Super Street Fighter IV

Music Game Of The Year – Guitar Hero 5

One To Watch – Call of Duty: Black Ops

Online Game Of The Year – League Of Legends

Portable Game Of The Year – Pokémon Heart Gold/Soul Silver

Puzzle Game Of The Year – World Of Goo

RPG Of The Year – Mass Effect 2

Racing Game Of The Year – Forza 3

Shooter Of The Year – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Soundtrack Of The Year – Final Fantasy XIII

Sports Game Of The Year – FIFA10

Strategy Game Of The Year – Plants Vs Zombies

UK Developer Of The Year – Jagex

Ultimate Game of the Year – Mass Effect 2

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the winners? Does Mass Effect 2 deserve the title of Ultimate Game of the Year? Who did you vote for?

As usual, leave your thoughts here or on the Train2Game forum.

Team Fortress 2 gets another Halloween Update

Valve has once again released a Halloween update for Team Fortress 2. Last year the Pumpkin Patch gave Team Fortress 2 players a new map, new hats and new achievements, and now Valve have released a second Halloween update – ‘The Second Annu-Hell Scream Fortress Hauntdead Halloween Special’

The Scream Fortress update introduces a new map Team Fortress 2 in the form of Mann Manor. It’s an Attack and Defend map designed by the winners of the Art Pass contest and features loads of spooky surprises including the first ever Team Fortress 2 NPC Boss Monster!  The Horseless Headless Horseman is randomly generated and can kill a player with one hit. Team Fortress 2 teams may have to work together to take him down!

The Scream Fortress update also introduces the Haunted Halloween Gift, a gift drop that drops randomly, and there are plenty of new hats and weapons – though some can only be purchased through the Mann-Co store and only for the duration of the Halloween Event.

The Scream Fortress update also comes with new “Ghostchievements” including one for killing the Horseless Headless Horseman.  You can also try to grab any of the Scarechievements you may have missed last year.

The Team Fortress 2 Scream Fortress event runs from October 27th through to November 8th and you can read more on the official Team Fortress 2 Scream Fortress page

So Train2 Game, do we have any Team Fortress 2 players in the house? If so, will you be involved in the Halloween event? And what do you think about the introduction of the Horsless Headless Horseman?

You can leave your thoughts on the Team Fortress 2 Scream Fortress update here on the Train2Game blog or on the Train2Game forum.

REVIEW: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011

Smackdown vs Raw 2011 logo

It must be tough working as a developer on a yearly franchise. They know that they’ve made important changes to the game, but the tweaks might be so subtle that gamers don’t recognise that this is the case.  This year however, Yuke’s have made a special effort to ensure that Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 works differently to previous games in the franchise. The controls have been tweaked, Career Mode has been replaced by an all inclusive WWE Universe, and there have been changes to the Road to Wrestlemania story mode. The good news is that these changes are generally positive, and Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 will likely be a welcome addition to any WWE fans game collection.

The biggest change in gameplay is the new physics system that has been introduced for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011. Objects now react more realistically in a variety of situations.  No longer will that table just be moved out the way by unseen forces if your Superstar performs a move near it. Your opponent (Or indeed you) could end up going straight through the table as it smashes into little pieces.  Other ‘foreign objects’ also act more realistically in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011. Ladders for example will lean against the ropes, against the ring, and a variety of other places allowing you pull off a wide variety extreme moves. The new physics system certainly makes WWE Smackdown vs. Raw feel more realistic – if you can call pro-wrestling that! – and special match types are a lot more fun as a result.

Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 Image 1

Well, maybe it isn't so going to be so fun for Drew Mcintyre there...

Yuke’s have also made changes to specific match types for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 with Hell in a Cell in particular the most improved.  The ‘demonic structure’ is now a full replica of its television counterpart. Now there is more than one persons worth of space between the ring and the cage, and weapons can be pulled out from under the ring for even more carnage. Of course, you can still get out of the cage in – this time by smashing your opponent through it – and unleash further mayhem outside and on top of it.

Ladder Matches have also changed for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011, but they still prove somewhat frustrating. You don’t need to spend as long wrestling with the belt/briefcase/prize of choice above the ring, but your opponents need to practically unconscious to give you enough time to do so. Ladder match AI can sometimes go awry as I saw in a Triple Threat match between myself, Vladimir Kozlov and Chris Jericho. My Superstar was out for the count, Kozlov was trying to grab the briefcase and Jericho just stood there and let him do it! Still the AI of WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 generally works well overall – if less so in Tag Team Matches – but seasoned players will need to ramp the difficulty up to Hard or even Legend for a proper challenge.

Perhaps the most significant change for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 is the introduction of the WWE Universe.  The WWE Universe essentially combines Exhibition Matches and a Career Mode into one and the game will react according to how you play. The outcomes of matches will change rankings, determine future matches on the in-game schedule (though you can change or just simulate these if you’re not interested) and will create alliances and enemies for superstars. Of course, titles can change hands too but the challenger needs to be high enough up the rankings when a Pay-per-view comes along in order to do so.

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 Hell in a Cell

That surely isn't going to end well for Jack Swagger.

Naturally, with this being the WWE rivalries and interference play roles in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 and they’ll develop you play matches in the WWE Universe. For example, playing a match as Matt Hardy vs CM Punk ended up with Drew McIntyre attempting to interfere, leading in turn to Big Show running down to the ring in order to even the odds. Matt Hardy and Big Show’s relationship improved because of this and they could eventually go on to form a tag team. Relationships between superstars plays a big part in deciding what cut scenes occurring before, during and after matches in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011. Enemies could assault you on their way to the ring, or after a match. In turn your allies could run to your aid, or even betray you . It’s all rather unpredictable but that’s what makes the WWE entertaining, and it’s a welcome addition to WWE Smackdown. vs. Raw 2011.

This year, Yuke’s have also made changes to the Road to Wrestlemania story mode for WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011. The biggest one of these is the fact your chosen Superstar can walk around back stage, interacting with other Superstars and performing mini challenges are essentially RPG elements. Completing matches, partaking in backstage ‘events’ (i.e. fights in the locker room) and finding hidden objects all give your Superstar experience points, which you can use to upgrade stats. It’s an interesting new system and it works quite well, but sometimes wandering between one end of the backstage area to the other in order to try and find someone to talk to (or pummel) can get tiresome. The lip syncing is completely off too which takes away from the ‘real’ life of a Superstar.

However, the actual stories in the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 more than make up for the occasional lack of depth in the backstage area. There are five different Roads to Wrestlemania on offer each following a particular Superstar. You can choose John Cena (Yes, again.), Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Christian or a Vs. The Undertaker story. The last one allows you to play as one of four pre-determined Superstars, or one you’ve created yourself, as they try to end The Undertakers legendary Wrestlemania winning streak. Personally, my favourite Road to Wrestlemania story was Christians’ as it made me feel as I was watching WWE in 1999 all over again.

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 Royal Rumble

You'd think those two would be hitting eachother.

One odd thing about Christians’ story however is that it takes place on the ECW brand which was cancelled all the way back in February this year. There are also storylines that involve wrestlers who aren’t even on the books of the WWE anymore, and of course there are plenty of Superstars who’ve appeared this year that aren’t on the games already impressive roster. It’s a small annoyance, but one that could frustrate hardcore WWE fans.

Naturally, if you think someone deserves to be in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 you can always attempt to add them yourself using the create a wrestler tool. This feature remains mostly unchanged from last year, but you can still expect thousands of fan created Superstars to appear online for download. The option to create a finisher has also been tweaked for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 allowing you more freedom as to how you beat down your opponents.

Overall, Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 is an improvement over the previous irritations of the series. The improved physics of the weapons and combination of exhibition matches and a career mode into ‘The WWE Universe’ works well and makes every match played an interesting and enjoyable experience, even if they are occasionally let down by AI issues. Meanwhile, the Road to Wrestlemania storylines remain as enjoyable as ever, but the introduction of the RPG elements lacks some depth. Aside from that and a few other minor issues, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 a highly enjoyable game and is a must for any WWE Fan, and highly recommended as an enjoyable fighter for anyone else.

VERDICT: 8/10

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 is available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from 29th October 2010

You can leave your thoughts on WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Kinect will become as ‘core’ as Xbox Live say Microsoft

Kinect

Microsoft says that hardcore games will come to Kinect, and that the motion controller will become as core to the 360 as Xbox Live.  That’s according to Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President in Charge of Microsoft Game Studios,Phil Spencer, who spoke to GameSpot at a Kinect launch event in San Francisco.

“Well we view Kinect as a fundamental part of the [Xbox 360] platform” He said when asked about Kinect games.

“It is as core to the platform as [Xbox] Live is. And we think about the all products in our pipeline, including things that haven’t been announced. And just like there’s an [Internet] pipe connected to the dev kits, there’s a camera connected to the dev kits. So you think about those dev kits and those teams and that creative space, and how they want to add [Kinect] to that experience.”

“I think over time for first party, you’re not going to see that differentiation between “Is that a Kinect game?” and “Is that not a Kinect game?” You’re just going to think about these things as 360 games. Now that doesn’t mean there’s no controller included. This is just like Live, since Live is used in many different ways across many different experiences that we build.”

“I think our [Kinect] launch line up is strong. It’s deep. I think it’s great seeing the third parties step up. But our gamer customers should expect to see Kinect across all genres. All genres will support Kinect at some point.”

The Kinect launch line up certainly looks like it’s lacking hardcore titles, with a large portion of them being party or fitness games. However, Microsoft also has a massive $500 million budget for marketing Kinect, so the company would no doubt be disappointed if their motion controller was shunned due to a lack of hardcore games.

Kinect for Xbox 360 is released here in the UK on November 10th and will be available as part of a 250GB Xbox 360 bundle for £299.99. You can alternatively buy a Kinect for Xbox 360 on its own for £130. If you’re super keen for Kinect, many stores will be open for a midnight launch. With Call of Duty: Black Ops released on November 9th, that’s two midnight launches in as many days. Now that is hardcore…

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Spencer’s’ comments. Do you believe that Kinect will really get hardcore titles in the near future? Or do you think Microsoft is more interested in the casual family market?

You can leave your thoughts about Kinect for Xbox 360 here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Media Molecule hire LittleBigPlanet community designers

LittleBigPlanet 2

Ever since LittleBigPlanet 2 was first mentioned here on the Train2Game blog, we’ve been trying to push home that the in-game creation tools could provide a Train2Game student with their big break in the industry. Now LittleBigPlanet 2 creators Media Molecule have revealed that the studio has hired developers after being impressed by their community designed levels.

John Beech is a level designer for the Sony Studio, and now uses his skills to help build LittleBigPlanet 2. Until a year ago, John was a self employed builder, but a builder who was good at designing user made LittleBigPlanet levels. Speaking in the latest issue of Games TM, Media Molecule Creative Director Mark Healey explains how the former builder ended up working on LittleBigPlanet 2.

“We’ve hired people from the community, people for whom LittleBigPlanet was their first chance to have a go at making games,” He said.

“John didn’t have a clue about how to make games but he got LittleBigPlanet, managed to alienate his girlfriend and was just making this stuff and really stood out in the community.”

Healey reveals that John isn’t the only member of the LittleBigPlanet community that has been hired by Media Molecule.  He added that he himself also skipped the academic route into the games industry

“I just taught myself, and I hated the idea that the only way to get into the games industry was through various degree courses.”

Media Molecule built LittleBigPlanet around the Ethos of ‘Play. Create. Share’ and the game is based upon the sharing of user generated content. There are many, many highly creative and excellent community built levels available to play.

Not only will LittleBigPlanet 2 continue to allow players to share their user-created levels, but it’ll also let players share entire games with fully formed stories and cut scenes. LittleBigPlanet 2 is currently in beta but plenty of excellent looking levels and games have appeared in videos online.

New games created within LittleBigPlanet 2 by the beta community so far include a recreation of Street Fighter and a LittleBigPlanet First Person Shooter, a user created version of beautiful indie game Flower, and perhaps most impressively, a reimagining of Portal complete with Portal Gun.

And these are only a handful of user generated levels created during the LittleBigPlanet 2 beta, what can we expect when LittleBigPlanet 2 is released for PlayStation 3 in January next year?

However, one thing is certain. Any Train2Game student with a desire to create games should get themselves a copy of LittleBigPlanet 2. Create great levels, and not only could they be played by a vast audience, but if Media Molecule like what you’re doing, you could find yourself working for them like John Beech.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Media Molecule hiring community developers? If you don’t own a PlayStation 3, are you tempted to get one for the chance LittleBigPlanet 2 could give you? And do you have any ideas for games or levels you want to create using the LittleBigPlanet  2 user creation tools?

Leave your thoughts about Media Molecule and LittleBigPlanet 2 here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

(Source: Develop Online)

Bungie release Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack trailer

Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack

Bungie has released a trailer for their upcoming Halo: Reach add-on map pack. The Noble Map Pack trailer shows Halo: Reach multiplayer action taking place on the three new maps: Breakpoint, Anchor 9 and Tempest.

The three new areas in the Noble Map Pack look like a lot of fun. You can watch the Halo: Reach Noble Map Pack trailer below.


You can find out much more about the new Halo: Reach DLC in this blog about the Noble Map Pack.

The Noble Map Pack for Halo: Reach is set to be released on 30th November for 800 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live.

Halo: Reach made $200 million dollars on its first day on sale, and easily topped the charts. Will the release of the Noble Map Pack see a resurgence in the success of Bungie’s shooter? Or will Halo: Reach find itself beaten with the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops? And will you be downloading the new maps?

You can leave your thoughts on The Noble Map Pack for Halo: Reach here on the Train2Game blog or on the Train2Game forum.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Gun Game details

Call of Duty: Black Ops

More Call of Duty: Black Ops footage has emerged online. This time it shows footage of a new multiplayer mode for Call of Duty: Back Ops, the Gun Game.

The Call of Duty: Black Ops Gun Game appears to work in a very similar fashion to that of the popular Counter-Strike mod of the same name. In the Call of Duty: Black Ops Gun Game mode, each player starts off with just a pistol, with each kill forcing the use of a new weapon. The player wins the Call of Duty: Black Ops gun game mode by being the first to get a kill with every single weapon.

The video shows every single weapon that can be used in Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Gun Game, with players using pistols, shotguns, rifles, sniper rifles, rocket launchers then finally a knife. Call of Duty: Black Ops Gun Game players can also use their knife at any time, with a knife kill resulting in ‘humiliation’ and their opponent being demoted one gun level.

In addition, Treyarch Community Manager Josh Olin confirmed that Quickscoping will be ‘gimped’ and therefore much less effective in Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer matches.

Of course, Gun Game isn’t the only multiplayer mode available in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Along with the traditional deathmatch modes, Treyarch has introduced the Wager Match for Call of Duty: Black Ops. The game will also see the return of a multiplayer zombie mode. You can find out what else to expect from Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer by watching this Inside Xbox video from Treyarch HQ.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is set for worldwide release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on November 9th.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the new Call of Duty: Black Ops Gun Game mode? Are you eager to give it a go? And what do you think about the changes to quickscoping?

You can leave your thoughts about Call of Duty: Black Ops here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare TV trailer

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare graveyard

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is almost upon us, and Rockstar Games has revealed the official TV trailer online.  John Marston has a ‘funny feeling’ which of course is proven right when a zombie plague occurs, and thus giving Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare reason for existence!

Naturally the TV trailer for Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare shows a lot of zombies running around the Wild West. The TV trailer also reveals two more characters from Red Dead Redemption that reappear in Undead Nightmare.  Professor Harold MacDougal is ominously seen saying ‘I’m going to wander down that lonely deserted street and get my bag.’ Meanwhile, the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare trailer also shows that Landon Ricketts will play a role. Also, the video seems to show what could be Bigfoot

You can see the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare TV trailer below.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is single player expansion for Red Dead Redemption and is set to come packed with loads of new features. New weapons, new missions, new multiplayer game modes and new apocalyptic horses will all be a part of Red Dead: Redemption Undead Nightmare.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare downloadable from tomorrow for 800 Microsoft Points o Xbox Live or £7.99 on the PlayStation Network.

So Train2Game, will you be downloading Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare this week? Which characters would you like to return? What do you think about the possible appearance of Bigfoot?

You can leave your thoughts on Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

UK Chart: Fallout: New Vegas goes top

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas has won big in its first week on release and topped the GFK Chart-Track All Formats Chart. It seems the gaming public haven’t been dissuaded by reports of Fallout: New Vegas being rather on the buggy side. In fact, Fallout: New Vegas has sold more in its first week than previous title Fallout 3 did, thus giving publisher Bethesda a new most successful debut week game.

The success of Fallout: New Vegas means that Medal of Honor is pushed down to second after claiming first place last week. FIFA 11 also drops down one to third place, after previously holding top spot before being kicked into touch by Medal of Honor last week.

There’s another new entry in the top ten, with Nintendo DS puzzler Professor Layton and the Lost Future selling strongly and taking fourth place, while Just Dance 2 drops from third to fifth spot.  Nintendo titles claim sixth and seventh spots, with Wii Party having dropped two places from fourth, while Wii Sports Resort jumps seven places up the chart and re-enters the top ten.

Former pole sitter F1 2010 continues to stay in the points paying positions, despite dropping two places to eighth. Ninth and tenth spots are occupied by Pro Evolution Soccer and Dead Rising 2 which dropped from fifth and seventh respectively.  Halo: Reach drops out of the top ten into 11th spot.

In disappointing news for SEGA, their shooter Vanquish failed to break the top ten, entering the UK software chart in 12th place. However, Vanquish fared better than EA Sports MMA and DJ Hero 2 which both failed to make the top twenty in their first weeks. EA Sports MMA entered the chart in 23rd while DJ Hero 2 took 25th position.

The full UKIE GfK Chart-Track All Formats Top Ten for the week ending October 23rd is as follows:

1. Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda)
2. Medal of Honor (EA)
3. FIFA 11 (EA)
4. Professor Layton and the Lost Future (Nintendo)
5. Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft)
6. Wii Party (Nintendo)
7. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo)
8. F1 2010 (Codemasters)
9. PES 2011 (Konami)
10. Dead Rising 2 (Capcom)

So Train2Game, have you bought any of this weeks new entries? If so, what are your thoughts on Fallout: New Vegas, Professor Layton and the Lost Future, EA Sports MMA or DJ Hero 2?

Will Fallout: New Vegas hold onto top spot next week? Or could Fable III, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II or WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 knock Fallout: New Vegas down?

Expect a full review of WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 here on the Train2Game blog this Wednesday!

As usual, leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Fallout: New Vegas released tomorrow, PC patch already out

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas is released in the UK tomorrow and looks set to be snapped up as quickly as free portions of Iguana-on-a-Stick.  Fallout: New Vegas has been well received by critics, even if there are many reports of in-game bugs.

Perhaps the most notorious, creepy and funny bug at the same time is at the very start of Fallout: New Vegas when this mans’ head is gently rotating around as he talks. Other issues include a moonwalking dog, and on a more series not, game crashes.  A PC patch has already been released in order to fix a number of issues, and it’s likely more will be on the way for Fallout: New Vegas on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

See the strange but rather amusing Fallout: New Vegas Intro bug while you still can below


Most reviews say that most bugs are more amusing than game destroying, so if you’ve been waiting for Fallout: New Vegas for awhile, you’re still likely to enjoy it very much! Though if you’ve bought Fallout: New Vegas for PC or PlayStation 3, you were probably disappointed to hear that DLC will, at least to begin with, be Xbox 360 exclusive.

Still, in the weeks its release, the Train2Game blog has featured a number of different articles about Fallout: New Vegas.  Naturally, there’s been a preview article which examines some of the new features in Fallout: New Vegas.

Developers Obsidian entertainment have offered six different Fallout: New Vegas developer diaries. They cover The Story, the Tech & Sound, the Art Direction, the Factions,  The New Vegas Strip, and the Characters in Fallout: New Vegas.

And here’s something that may be especially interesting to Train2Game students, Fallout: New Vegas Senior Designer Chris Avellone offered advice on how to break into the games industry in an interview with Planet Fallout.

Fallout: New Vegas is released tomorrow on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Will you be playing Fallout: New Vegas tomorrow? Will you be annoyed if there are bugs? What do you think developers should do to combat things like that unfortunate chaps rotating head?

You can leave your thoughts on Fallout: New Vegas here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.