Friday, September 9, 2011

Crytek and EA Bring Crysis to Xbox Live in October 2011

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – September 9, 2011 – Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) and award-winning developer, Crytek GmbH, announced today that the critically-acclaimed Crysis® franchise will debut a new experience on Xbox LIVE® and PlayStation® Network. In October 2011, shooter fans will be able to download a modified and enhanced version of the award-winning single-player campaign from the original Crysis, remastered for console players using Crytek’s state-of-the-art CryENGINE®3 with all new lighting, effects and other visual optimizations. For just 1600 Microsoft Points, gamers will download the most robust and exciting Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network game to date.

In 2007 and again in 2011, critics around the world hailed Crysis and Crysis 2 as titles that ushered in the next-generation of gaming with jaw-dropping visuals, industry leading technology and groundbreaking sandbox gameplay, featuring the super-powerful Nanosuit. Today, the original, award-winning 2007 single-player campaign has been remastered for Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network with optimized Nanosuit controls, fine-tuned combat and full stereoscopic 3D support.

“We are extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish with Crysis. We set out to create a next-generation FPS and delivered a PC experience that became a benchmark for quality – and still is for many gamers even four years later,” said Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek. “By bringing the single-player campaign to console, we believe we are again setting a new standard for quality in downloadable gaming.”

In Crysis, gamers will travel to 2019 where a team of US scientists makes a frightening discovery on an island in the South China Sea. All contact with the team is lost when the North Korean Government quickly seals off the area. The United States responds by dispatching an elite team of Delta Force Operators to recon the situation. As tension rises between the two nations, a massive alien ship reveals itself in the middle of the island. Now with hope rapidly fading, the US and North Koreans must join forces to battle the alien menace, fighting epic battles through stunning, photorealistic tropical jungles and frozen landscapes.

For more information on Crysis, please visit or and follow the game on Twitter at or “Like” Crysis on Facebook at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NHL 12 Review

There aren't many sports left in the world that condone fighting (except the obvious ones like UFC). Suspensions and hefty fines are in place to stop our favourite athletes from hitting one another, yet NHL almost encourages it as an unique part of their sporting history. EA has embraced this regular past time by including it in their games since the fighting engine they use was released in NHL '09 and is a vital reason why people who don't really understand the rules will still love this game. Out of the four major US sports, NHL probably has the smallest following in Australia and is a game simply not targeted towards us. While complete new comers to the sport won't get the same feeling as someone who follows the teams and players, it is still possible to enjoy NHL 12 as it is a slick package.

For veterans of the franchise returning to the ice, EA hasn't left you out in the cold. As always, a large variety of enhancements both visually, in terms of gameplay and under the hood improvements have been made to create the most realistic NHL experience possible. The main changes to this years title seem to be focused around extending the core gameplay to being as realistic as possible. Three core features around authenticity have been improved in NHL 12. These are Anticipation AI, Full Contact Physics and Dynamic Goalies. I will go into more detail about what these bring to the table a bit later.


We are at the stage in sport game development where a game that isn't almost identical to the real thing simply won't thrive on the market. NHL 12 is a beautiful game and masterfully recreates the NHL experience. Crowds and players look almost like the real thing and animations for the most part look great until slowed down in instant replays which uncover some of the small flaws presented with NHL's impact engine. A keen eye towards television-like presentation is certainly the main focus and is shown off in its full glory with the annual Winter Classic Match opening the game just in the same way that Michael Jordan opened NBA 2K11. While this match doesn't have the same hit as the great MJ himself, it certainly greets players with open arms and showcases the best the game has to offer right from minute one.

From a sound or more importantly, a commentary aspect, commentators Gary Thorne and Bill Clemente return. They have been in previous installments and you would expect returning commentators to have less fragmented speech. Issues do arise while playing games as they can incorrectly comment on a player or their actions during the game. Little misses by a player may lead to them being called ineffective or poor, even though they have had a solid overall game. Little things like this will irritate true fans but can often be overlooked as a simple mistake.

The sounds of the game are excellent with the crowd realistically cheering for every goal and reacting if a fight between two players is intiated. The initial hush of the crowd before cheering when the punches started being thrown was excellent and really places you in a situation where you believe you are at the stadium. Home crowds will react individually to each other, booing the opposition and providing a loud roar when their team scores a goal. While it isn't as unique as games such as Madden 12 where the team chants (eg. New York Jets J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! before every kickoff), it still makes for a solid experience.


NHL 12 is a superb game on the ice, providing a rewarding experience that truly does justice to every aspect of the sport. Controlling players is easy and the intuitive controls will take little time to adjust to for new comers to the series. Playing the game is a breeze and player movements is solid, the fluid nature of skating is on full display. Everything from player collisions to puck movement between players or individual movements are superb and really creates the standard for this and developers hoping to compete with the EA brand, none smartly chose to this year.

Being a solid game will only take you so far, you need a variety of modes to play. Luckily, NHL 12 provides an absolute smorgasbord of modes to choose from. You are showered in choice more than perhaps any other sports game on the market. From the stock standard modes such as season, association, Be a GM to the brand new revamped Be A Pro mode which features Be a NHL Pro, Be a CHL Pro and Be a Legend, there is literally hundreds of hours of content in this game. That is just the single player as well. In multiplayer you have the choice of standard multiplayer matches, EA Sports Hockey League with online tournaments as well as the always popular My Ultimate Team which lets you buy cards to create a super team to compete with online.

My only issue with the modes that they have quite possibly gone for quanity over quality. While the modes are all solid, some of the smaller features like the way information is delivered to you in Be a Pro in particular is annoying. Small text that pops up on the screen simply fails against the premier titles of other sports which gives you things as big as your own personaly assistant. While this year has delivered on a large array of modes to play, perhaps next years title should focus on presenting these in the cleanest way possible to avoid the mess of this year.


NHL 12 is a super game which packs enough content to last you all the way to the Stanley Cup and beyond. You will find it hard to choose between playing a season with your favourite team, taking your own created player from the CHL to becoming a Hall of Famer in the NHL or creating The Ultimate Team. That is what makes this game so good, the sheer amount of choice you have. All this is delivered with some stunning graphics and a solid representation of NHL. While there are some areas which appear to have had the corners cut, this is a solid package that should be considered everyone, even if you have never seen a NHL game in your life. It is a game which you can quickly pick up and play without much effort and provides excellent value for money!

Graphics - 8.5/10
Sound - 7.5/10
Gameplay - 9.5/10
Overall - 8.5/10

Madden NFL 12 Review

As Australian's wind down from their respective seasons of sport, whether it be AFL or Rugby, we still need our football fix. Luckily for us the NFL has overcome lockout and is back on our screens as well as consoles with EA's annual Madden franchise. One of the most recognisable gaming series is back with a host of improvements to further blur the line between virtual NFL and the real thing. Despite the title being delayed due to the lockout and clashing with EA's other annual sporting titles such as NHL 12 and FIFA 12, nothing has been spared from making this the single game to play if you want some NFL action this year.

Electronic Arts made a controversial move last year by implementing 'GameFlow' to entice the casual fan to play Madden NFL 11 my simplifying and speeding up the game. GameFlow has been improved, Franchise Mode has been given a big makeover, a new tackling system is in place and the true NFL broadcast experience has been provided. These are just a couple of the improvements that has made Madden NFL 12 one of the most enjoyable sport games to date. There are so many positives to take out of Madden NFL 12, but has the work been done to drag players into modes such as Franchise and Be A NFL Superstar which are often crushed under the companies popular Ultimate Team Mode?


For many years now Madden NFL 12 has been the most realistic NFL experience you could find on a console. While it has been looking great with solid player expressions and animations on the field, the game has always had the 'game feel' to it. Authenticity is now taking hold of all sporting games and providing a good game isn't the aim of the developers as that has already been achieved. Being able to recreate an experience that doesn't make you sure whether it is a game or a television broadcast has been EA's aim with this addition.

After working closely with NFL films, I feel like the overall presentation of Madden NFL 12 before, during and after the game is spot on. Personalized team entrances and celebrations are finally in the game, something that has been in NCAA for a while now. Camera angles are incredibly important and working with NFL films has allowed the developers to imitate the identical shots and angles used in a real game situation and placed it in the game. Just small things like these are what makes Madden so great. Along with the annual improvements such as slightly better lighting, facial models etc. there is also an improved tackling mechanic which also looks better visually. Instead of players getting so close and being sucked into a set animation for the situation, everything now happens naturally and provides a more realistic feel. Despite some average facial expressions and animations for lesser known players, it is hard to fault this game graphically.

For all the improvements made to create the broadcast experience, they forgot to focus on the commentary which is a vital part of the package. Last year the commentators changed and EA were left with a static, disjointed shambles of commentating that didn't do wonders for the game when the same lines were being repeated constantly. Sadly this year isn't much better as the commentators are only marginally better but don't provide the same deep level that games such as NBA 2K11 provide. I want to hear facts about playing and teams as well as dynamic, constant commentary. You don't receive this in Madden NFL 12 and it ruins the NFL experience slightly.


Sure the game looks great, but does it play like a true NFL title? Madden is the most immersive experience going around and the improvements to not only the way the game plays, but the modes involved makes this the most realistic Madden yet. The game has always run smoothly and anyone but true hardcore fans have appreciated the gameplay. The new tackling system implemented this year gives a more natural feel to the game and true fans of the sport will value the intuitive motion. No longer does the game feel like it is a set of pre-recorded actions in different positions and in fact a living, evolving game. It's getting hard to pick faults in the general gameplay. Some gripes I have come when the quarterback passes the ball and the CPU defenders will still fail to catch a ball which might be directly coming towards them. While this is made to help out easier players, wide open defenders should be aware enough to simply catch the ball. Apart from that the experience is essentially flawless.

The NFL experience isn't just aimed at on field action as any follower of the sport would be aware of their teams off field dealings also. This is where Franchise mode comes into play with a completely new experience. Gone is the basic, dry feeling we once received from the mode which has fallen behind other options in the game. From everything such as pre-match training and the ability to contract free agents, as much detail as possible has gone into making a true representation of managing a NFL, within reason. Small perks such as the ability to bid for players against a live clock in the off-season are cool ways that they have revolutionized the humble franchise mode. For the first time in years it isn't going to be the mode that is ignored by players.

Be a NFL Superstar Mode is also back in Madden NFL 12 with limited improvements, but still providing the same fun experience. My Player mode in NBA 2K11 was immersive and kept me coming back, while Be a NFL Supertsar doesn't have the same feel it is still entertaining to create a player of your choice and take him to stardom. EA's premier mode, Ultimate Team, has been gracing their various sporting iterations for a couple of years now and is again the stand out mode for Madden NFL 12. Earning coins and buying card packs to create a team is a fun experience that many will remember from their childhood. With the ability to trade and sell cards to help create your favourite team before taking on others online is a heap of fun. Online works quite well but the EA Servers are sometimes unpredictable in whether they will kick you or not. One thing I didn't like in Madden Ultimate Team was the way matches were worked out. They were based on your teams skill points and not the players winning percentage, which means amateurs like myself were often smashed by pros with a similar team but a larger knowledge base. I would like to see a more even matchmaking system.


Ever since last year Madden has been a super game for players new and old to the franchise. This years additions have made it one of the most appealing versions to date. This is the true NFL experience and I feel like EA achieved their goal in delivering that to fans. Large improvements were made in areas that have been untouched for a few years and it was great to see these changes made. Apart from the sometimes unpredictable online play, the only real downside to this title is the poor commentary which will need more work for Madden NFL 13. If you want a true football game and not that European version (FIFA) then this is definitely a must have title!

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 7/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Overall - 9/10

Driver: San Francisco Review

It is safe to say that the standard arcade racer has been done to death. After years of the same old title recreated in different areas through series such as Need for Speed, times are changing. Previews for the latest Need for Speed game, The Run, are taking players out of the car for sections in a shot to mix it up. Driver: San Francisco, a previously strong franchise that has been let down by recent releases had been challenged to make the game fresh and interesting for consumers. Thankfully they have created a really cool mechanic that completely changes the way you think about driving and chasing down bad guys forever. The shift mechanic that is mysteriously acquired by the main character John Tanner after a car crash allows him to leave his car and inhabit any other driver in San Francisco. This premise makes this game and makes a title that is full of cars to drift (somewhat poorly)and makes sure that one single crash or missed turn won't cost you the race as you simply shift into another car. Driver is certainly back in a big way!

Driver: San Francisco picks up where Driv3r left off; it continues the story of Tanner and criminal mastermind Jericho. Jericho has gone into hiding in San Francisco, only to be found and imprisoned. Upon being put onto a prison transfer, it gives Jericho the chance to escape. Tanner gives chase and after a cut scene heavy opening of explosions and crashes, Tanner is run down and left in a coma. About here is when all logic from the story ends, as Driver: San Francisco takes place in Tanner's dreams as he helps out citizens of San Francisco and tracks down Jericho from his hospital bed. While this bizarre storyline isn't the most convincing, it does offer something not many racing games have and provides you some direction and purpose in the game. Prepare to be confused at times as some sections of the cut scenes aren't fully explained and you won't know what's happening.


San Francisco is a bustling metropolis that is often filled with great weather and spectacular conditions. This game successfully recreates the best parts of San Francisco such as the famous winding road and the game flaunts these off with story missions revolving around these areas. They have secured many licensed cars so the streets of San Francisco are always full of life and new cars to shift into at the simple press of a button. These cars look spectacular and show the graphical skill of the game as reflections from your surroundings gleam off the hood, until you crash anyway. Cars get damaged, windscreens shatter and mayhem is caused as you drift your way around the tight streets of San Francisco. One aspect of the game that disappointed me is the pedestrians. While they are in great numbers, they all have the uncanny ability to jump out of the way at a moments notice. I suppose the developers had to do what was necessary to keep the title suitable for all ages though.

The framerate generally runs at a smooth level throughout the entire game, as well as multiplayer. While playing cooperatively I did encounter some frame rate freezes but seeing how this game isn't really suited towards co-op play that isn't a big issue. I'm quite impressed at the number of cars and citizens in this large game, yet it still runs at 60 fps. For a racing game, there are a large number of cutscenes. For a genre that usually fails miserably in this catergory, the cut scenes are awesome and look great. The facial animations are detailed and could hold their own against some games that rely on spectacular cutscenes.

Screeching, sliding and speeding your way through San Francisco sounds superb. Excellent sound effects have been used to recreate an enhanced scale of driving as you tear up a large variety of cars. Different cars will sound unique and you can easily distinguish between a Ford GT and your standard town car. While the noises the cars make don't go all the way to the extreme level of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, they seem to fit perfectly in the more peaceful urban setting of San Francisco.

As with the detail put into the cutscenes graphically, the voice acting is great and the lead actors manage to convey a real sense of emotion. Each character has a voice which perfectly matches them and it makes the experience almost seamless. As you shift into different cars you will often have new characters talk to you, particularly in a mission. These smaller parts are also excellently done and really adds to Driver: San Francisco's overall quality.


Previous Driver installments have been lacking the unique feel that made the game worth purchasing. The developers have invested a great deal of time into making the game special and unmatched in the racing genre. Driver: San Francisco seems to take as many elements as possible and has thrown them together into a complete game. A storyline, a free roaming aspect, dedicated missions, online gameplay and the brand new shift mechanic have been rolled into one title. Generally a game that promises to offer so much won't be as complete as a game focusing on one big aspect, and this is the case with Driver. The storyline isn't very strong, yet the shift mechanic and free roaming around town as well as dedicated multiplayer matches are definite highlights in the game.

John Tanner takes you on an exhilarating experience through San Francisco in a whole array of cars. Driving is frustrating at the beginning due to the loose steering and strong emphasis on drifting, yet as you begin to play through the game you begin to master the game and really utilise the cars full potential. By the end of the game I really felt like Driver: San Francisco was one of the best racing games I have ever played and is certainly a joy to play from a drifting aspect, which is something many games fall down on. The shift mechanic that lets John switch between cars has also been made into a simple to use aspect that doesn't deter from the driving experience which I thought it might.

Playing through the single player mode won't take a long time to complete, but it is a fairly action packed experience. The game focuses upon the main story of John Tanner, but throughout the game you can freeroam around San Francisco to complete missions for other citizens. These missions are a lot of fun and involve everything from simple 'get to a point in a certain time' challenges to doing some insane stunts for a news crew. Everything you do in the game earns you money which can be used to buy new cars and garages across San Francisco. I love the amount of variation in the game as it is constantly changing what is required of you.

A big part of the variation comes thanks to the shifting mechanic in the game. Being able to switch cars at any time completely revolutionizes how to play even classic modes. Chasing an enemy and take a wrong turn? Just shift into a new car and keep chase. Get in a big crash and badly damage your car? Shift into a new and perhaps faster car to keep the lead. In a race? Shift into an oncoming car to take out your opponents. The options that present themselves using shift is amazing and makes this game the enjoyable experience it provides.

Multiplayer is racing games generally revolves around simple racing competitions. The shift mechanic has also mixed up the multiplayer and allows for game modes you have never before experience in a racing title. Games such as tag, capture the flag and a follow the leader title provide some interesting modes that really mix up how players not only go about it, but give a level of strategy with others fighting to shift into the same cars. For those who like classic racing you won't enjoy this multiplayer, but bringing modes that are common to FPS is a cool idea and works really well. I enjoyed my time playing multiplayer and the levelling system allows for lots of replay value.


While Driver: San Francisco is a hard game to get used to at the beginning and offers a strong challenge which may frustrate gamers towards the end of the game, it is a very enjoyable experience. Twisting the racing genre has provided the credibility Driver strongly needed to make it a renowned racing series once again. If you are looking for something a bit different then this is definitely the title to get. Drifting around the streets of San Francisco has never felt better and the shift mechanic is something that should be considered for other titles. I was pleasantly surprised with my enjoyment from Driver and valued my time playing through it.

Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8.5/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Overall - 9/10