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Consoles don't make sense

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Long passed are the times when consoles were used strictly as dedicated gaming devices. Today's consoles are used for web browsing, social networking, watching videos and listening to music as well.

But are they the best and most convenient way for doing these activities? In reality, everything consoles do, PCs can do better and that includes gaming.

So, why aren't PCs looked at as the main gaming platform for many players and developers? One of the main obstacles in the way is piracy. It's no secret that piracy is a much bigger problem on PC, compared to consoles. That's why many publishers are hesitant to release games on PC and if they do, it's often much later than the consoles versions.

There's also the price. An up to date PC can run you as high as $1000, while you can get an Xbox 360 + Kindle bundle for $300 and a 160GB PS3 for $250. But as IGN's Rick Lane calculates, everything considered, PC gaming is not that much more expensive. Also, bear in mind that going with the PC, you're getting a far superior and much more powerful device, which can be used for all kinds of activities, not only gaming and multimedia.

In fact, consoles are so weak compared to PCs that some developers have complained about how they're being limited by today's consoles and if rumors are anything to go by, next generation of consoles won't be any better either.

Also, PC is an open environment. Developer don't have to work on restricted, limited and expensive SDKs sold by platform holders. With the rise of digital distribustion services like Steam, self publishing is easier than ever, as well.

Instead of spending money on manufacturing devices which will always be behind PCs, companies like Sony and Microsoft should invest their money on supporting developers and help them make better game, but they're doing the opposite, which is restricting developers with outdated, bridled hardware.

What will become of Warcraft 3 now?

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Since the beginning of Starcraft 2's beta, people claimed its rise would spell Warcraft 3's demise. They weren't wrong. Even before SC2 was launched, WC3 tournaments started to diminish. First the team leagues and then one by one solo leagues went out of business.


Moon at the last NGL finals

With so few tournaments remaining, many players started to switch to SC2, hoping to get a chance at the huge amounts of money poured in by sponsors.

Among the migrating players, were some of the biggest stars of the game including Moon, Grubby and Lyn. Let's see how they've fared in SC2 so far, one year after its launch:

Moon: IEM Season V World Championship, 2nd place, $6,500
Lyn: -
Grubby: Copenhagen Games, 3rd place, €1,100
Source: Gosugamers.net

As the above numbers indicate, their performance has been less than impressive. One might argue that given enough time, they will eventually improve. Problem is as they try to get better in the game, so will their opponents. How long, if ever, will it take them to catch up with the likes of MC, Mvp and NesTea?


MC, one of the most successful Starcraft 2 players

They can't play the Warcraft 3 Legend card forever. Eventually, Starcraft 2 will have its own legends. Will not-delivering Moon and Grubby get a free spot in tournaments after that?

Why would eSports need such exclusivity anyway? Warcarft 3 and Starcraft 2 can coexist as two entirely different games, appealing to different people. I believe such diversity would be beneficial not only to WC3, but to eSports as a whole, too.

Despite many speculations, ESWC and WCG still support Warcraft 3. CPL, an old-school event is back and it has already announced a WC3 event in China. Add ECL, StarsWar and CEPL to the mix and you can see that there's still a lot to fight for in WC3.

Some older generation players such as Lucifer and SoJu are back to WC3 after finishing their military service. Recently, rumors of Lyn's practice for WCG have surfaced. He has lots of catching up to do, if he wants to surpass ReMinD and FoCuS, but if the rumors are to be believed, he's practicing hard to do just that.

As more players, especially stellar names come back to WC3, more and more sponsors will be willing to invest in the game and more tournaments will pop out. There's still hope for Warcraft 3.

Thoughts on Sony's NGP

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Sony's long rumored handled was unveiled at the end of Januray, at last. NGP not only met fans expectations, it exceeded them in many cases. From the extraordinary hardware specifications to the long list of supporting developers, everything seems to be just how it should be.

Fan-favorite franchises such as Uncharted, Killzone, Call of Duty and Resistance were confirmed for the device, not to mention new creations from the likes of Hideo Kojima.


Unchrated running on NGP

Apparently, NGP is appealing to players and developers alike. During the NGP's reveal at PlayStaion Meeting in Japan, Epic Games showed their Unreal Engine 3 game, Dungeon Defenders running on NGP. Company's co-founder Tim Sweeney claimed they have transformed it from a PS3 game to an NGP one in a short time. Some other developers have gone as far as calling it "developer's dream", saying Sony has made the device completely developer-centric this time. "Sony is finally doing the things developers have been crying out for for years", said an anonymous source talking to Eurogamer.

Among device's most interesting features is the touch pad at the back, which opens door to innumerable potential innovations. It's an all-new way of interacting with games. We got a taste of that with the Little Deviants demonstration.

NGP's back touchpad

Sony left some questions unanswered, though. Many sources have expressed worries about the battery life, a number of which have predicted it to be as low as 3 hours that can be a deal breaker for many.

But the most important concealed fact is the device's price. An OLED touch screen, two cameras, powerful CPU/GPU and a touchpad can make it very expensive. With Nintendo's 3DS on the horizion with a $250 pricetag, Sony should come to an affordable price for the gamers, one that is profitable for the company as well. Whether they find the right balance or not, is yet to be seen.

Starcraft 2: Time to Switch?

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As Starcraft 2 release date draws closer, I'm facing a dilemma: should I switch to it after following Wartcraft 3 for such a long time? Can I enjoy it? Do I even have another option?

Having banks and airway companies as sponsors for some tournaments, and big companies supporting teams, it is no wonder that Starcraft is a real professional sport, in Korea at least. Players treat it like a real job and they know they have to work hard to stay in the competition. Living in training houses and full-time attention to the game, just shows how serious this business is for them. Apart from exceptions like WeMadeFOX and World Elite players, that's usually not the case with Warcraft 3.

To show how the game looks and plays, Blizzard has released a total number of four battlereport videos so far. As expected, these demonstrations have had nothing short of epic. Beside the dazzling graphics and smooth animations, new maps and units look really promising, not to mention the new gameplay mechanics like Xel'Naga Towers (which are used to reveal big portions of the map). With map control and scouting being one of the most important aspects of the game, one can only begin to imagine the grand battles which are going to take place over these towers.

Then there is the all new Battle.net experience which seems to include the changes and improvements players have been longing for, over the years. Among the new features are the much improved matchmaking system and the ability to easily track your stats and achievements. Also the most welcome rule of one-account-per-CD-Key which prevents hackers from hiding behind fake identities and gives Blizzard a better control over the game i.e. banning troublemakers will be much quicker and easier.

It's no secret that Starcraft is a much more balanced game compared to Warcraft 3. Absence of game-breaking and luck-dependant factors like over-powered heroes and items work in Starcraft's benefit here. Although, those factors along with elements like teleporting can also make for dramatic comebacks and more exciting games, in some cases. Whether the introduction of new units in Starcraft 2 will ruin its balance or not, is unclear. A step backward is unlikely from Blizzard, though.

If there is one thing that can spoil our Starcraft 2 experience, it is the Blizzard-KeSPA conflict. Their fight over broadcasting rights and player licenses is an alarming one. Starcraft 2 without professional players and leagues is going to be a blow for both. Here's hope for peace between the two.

I can't be more excited about Starcraft 2 but I'm not going to dive into it blindly after six years of playing and following Warcraft 3, either. Some WC3 players are already training for SC2 and others have expressed their interest. With its release, there will be less and less tournaments for WC3 to follow too; maybe it's the time to move on for me, at last.

Intel Extreme Masters Recap

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Intel Extreme Masters which was held from October 1st to 3rd, was a remarkable tournament is many ways.

Twelve Wacraft III players from around the world were gathered in Chengdu, China to compete for a total prize money of $10,000.

Among the attendees were the most achieved WC3 player Jang "Moon" JaeHo also known as Fantasista and 5th race, two times WCG winner XiaoFeng "Sky" Li, Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen also holder of two WCG titles and the tower master Xuwen "Infi" Wang.

Group D saw the first shock, where Grubby lost both his matches versus Infi and ReMinD and was eliminated earlier than his fans had hoped. As the best European player, he failed to keep up with the expectations.


Grubby disappointed his fans

There were no other surprises during the group stage and Lyn, Sky, FoCuS, TeD, Moon and Fly100% joined ReMinD and Infi in the playoffs.

Playoff phase was this tournament's true peak as fans got to see some of the best matches of WC3's late history. The leading light was none other than Moon of course, who seemed to be in his prime shape again. He played almost perfect in every single match and brought about some of the most amazing moments we had seen recently.


Moon being paid $16,000/month to play video games

Moon defeated the in-shape Lyn in the first round of playoffs and made it to the semi-finals where he had to face FoCuS who had overcame Infi earlier. The epic match on Turtle Rock between these two will be remembered for a long time amid the fans. Moon won the match and stepped to the finals.

Beside Moon, there was another player who kept stunning spectators with his performance during the tournament. Sky who was paired with ReMinD in the first round of playoffs, defeated him easily and advanced to the next round to meet Fly100% who had managed to beat the Undead prodigy TeD in the previous round.

Fly100% has always been Sky's nemesis and this time was no exception. Despite losing one map, he managed to win the other two in a best-of-three series and moved to face Moon in the finals.

Strangely enough, Moon played really sloppy against him and lost the series in two really fast games. Leaving the title and the first place prize money to the Orc player.

I have been following competitive Warcraft III scene for 6 years and I have seen many many tournaments and this one was among the best. You can find all the replays here. They are all worth watching in a way. If you always wanted to get into WC3 but didn't know where to start, let this be the beginning. This is simply the best WC3 has to offer at the moment.

Final Standings:

  1. Fly100% - $5,000
  2. Moon - $2,500
  3. Sky - $1,500
  4. FoCuS - $1,000


Fly100% with his cheque

- Photos courtesy of ESL's Julia Christophers

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots; How it should have ended

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Contains major spoilers

Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the most anticipated games of current generation and truly an astonishing achievement for gaming industry in various aspects.

Technically, MGS 4 was a breakthrough for sure. The way the game plays and looks, is just mind-blowing. The graphics are not photo realistic yet, but they're really close and the gameplay is the best I have seen in my 13 years of gaming experience. Approaching current gen's end of lifespan, I'm positive we won't see a game of such quality in this generation.

That aside, the game has unique production elements that make it look like a movie. While we had seen such elements in previous Metal Gear games as well, here they are truly shining, presenting an extraordinary experience. To sum it up, if you want to convince someone a game is a form of art, this is the best example. Strong plot with solid characters and innumerable twists, boosted by stunning presentation – sounds like cinema, only better.

I'm usually like "game with a badass dude and buncha guns? No, thanks" but Metal Gear is far superior to that. It's not even a game; to describe it, I can say it's an experience you must go through, before you die.

Enough with the praising now, here comes the bashing. As I said, I loved almost every facet of this game, there was a huge disappointment for me though. Right when I was doubting Kojima's true nature and whether he's even human or not, I had a slap in the face.

Yes, I'm talking about the ending, where Kojima had the opportunity to reach the true zenith but he blew it.

The cemetery scene, where Snake is going to suicide to prevent an epidemy. Sacrificing himself to save his loved ones and a lot of other people, would be the ideal end for such a hero, but to my amazement, he didn't have the courage to do it, turns out he was a coward. Wait, what? The legendary Snake, a coward? Yes, I can't find any other explanation for what he did or rather, what he did not.

I know there was no epidemy danger at all but Snake didn't know it, did he? One might argue his death would be in vain if he had killed himself. To reply, I can say that's where the true tragedy would come in. Snake taking his life thinking he would save countless others by doing it but in reality he didn't have to do it. Now that would be THE tragedy but what we got instead? A happy end!!!

Rose reuniting with Raiden, Meryl reuniting with Campbell and marrying Johnny and Snake not killing himself; what is this, Love Story?

And to think that Snake was going to die soon anyway, just makes me want to bang my head on a wall. The image that remains of Snake in my mind is that of a coward and that's not fair. He deserved more.

You blew it, Kojima-san, you blew it.

TGS 2009: My Highlights

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Metal Gear: Peace Walker

I have been going through Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots recently and while I don't expect that quality on PSP, playing it has fairly risen my standards.

Before TGS, we already knew some exciting facts about Peace Walker. Kojima stating Peace Walker will be his MGS 5, MGS 4 team working on the game and some amazing videos from E3, all had made for one of our most anticipated games on PSP.

We had the final blow at TGS though, where a truly stunning story trailer was released, featuring details on Peace Walker's plot and characters, not to mention the great soundtrack (specially the song "Heavens Divide") and great visuals with the comic-like cutscenes we already know and love from Metal Gear's previous installments on PSP.

Capcom's original RPG for PSP

Being an RPG freak, I have been longing for a quality old-school title after Tales of Eternia on the PSP.

Seems like Capcom has been working on such a game, a PSP exclusive named Last Ranker.

Tatsuya Yoshikawa has done the characters design. He has worked on projects like Devil May Cry 4 before.

The game sees Kazuya Niinou as its director who is quite experienced with handheld games, having 7th Dragon and Etrian Odyssey in his resume, both of which were well-received DS RPGs.

The main scenario writer is none other than the old hand, Kazushige Nojima, the name behind wonderful scripts such as those of Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy X. His most recent oeuvre is Final Fantasy XIII.

With such an eminent crew working on the game, one can expect one of the PSP's strongest RPGs. The game will be available in Japan next year.

Final Fantasy Agito XIII is not dead!

YES! Two screenshots were released during TGS which show the game is not dead after all. Last I heard about it, was at TGS 08, where a trailer was released.

At this rate, I'm not sure if the game will make it to the stores before PSP's lifespan ends, though. And the fact that it was initially considered to be a mobile game, doesn't make me feel any better, either.

As I mentioned earlier, little is known about this game. Actually apart from some screenshots and some details about the gameplay, we have no information about it. This game exists and it will probably use a battle system similar to Crisis Core and that's it. No release date or anything like that.

PS3 250GB Final Fantasy XIII bundle

Such a cool package. A sweet 250GB HDD, nice illustration of the game's protagonist, Lightning, on the top and of course, a copy of Final Fantasy XIII, all for $461.76. Now, that's a great deal……..for the Japanese. Yes, as always such stuff are Japan-only. Oh well, I guess when we start supporting games like people in Japan do, we'll get stuff like that overseas, as well.