Nov 30, 2008

MIGS Official Photo Gallery, Starring Donna Mei-Ling Park and My Cousin

One of the highlights of the Montreal International Game Summit was unquestionably the exclusive Microsoft & Ubisoft party at Le Rouge bar in downtown Montreal. According to the advertisement, it was promised that the event "wouldn't be a total sausage party". Oh how right and how wrong that statement was.

The event itself was pretty electric all night long. The bar wasn't very big, so it was a crowded afair. Noneless, they managed to squeeze in a team of three DJs, a pretty happenin' dance floor (with Microsoft and Ubisoft logos projected on the wall), a social lounge area, and a standing-room only mingling section.

Perhaps my favourite moment of the night was when we stumbled upon Donna Mei-Ling Park from Electric Playground fame and she posed for a photograph with my cousin.



Priceless, I know.

For the full MIGS photo album, including dozens more from the Ubisoft & Microsoft party, check out the official Flickr album here:

Official MIGS Photostream

NextGen Player Review: Gears of War 2

Gears of War 2

Ever since the Gears of War 2 teaser trailer was shown at E3 earlier this year, I had been patiently awaiting its release so that I could continue the fantastic game and story that was Gears of War. Add to that all of the hype that surrounded Gears of War 2 during the summer months and my expectations were set quite high.

Since its launch in early November, I’ve had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with the game. I’ve gone through the game in single player, co-op and have played a fair bit of multiplayer. Overall, Gears 2 delivers on many of its hyped promises. The new Unreal Engine is just fantastic. The character models are as detailed and photorealistic as I’ve ever seen in a game. The environments are massive and give a sense of a free roaming type of game even though it is quite linear. The gameplay mechanics are obviously quite familiar to the original – a huge plus...really, no need to fix something that isn’t broke. Voice acting, sound effects and musical score are top notch.

All in all, this sounds like the perfect game right? Well, almost. While overall I very much enjoyed this game, it wasn’t the perfect game.

Let’s begin with what makes this game great.

The thing I enjoyed overall was the familiar gameplay. No one does cover mechanics like Gears and it was no different in this game. In fact, I felt that much of the level design in Gears 2 promoted the cover approach to progress through them. The controls are smooth and responsive. The aiming mechanics feel accurately responsive and the sensitivity seems just right (at least in the default settings).

The weapons in Gears 2 are stellar. You have your familiar Lancer, shotgun, sniper rifle, Hammerburst rifle, torque bow, grenades, etc. Some new weapons include the mortar, the mulcher (a heavy duty chain gun), and the ever fun flame thrower. Aside from the new weapons, there are also new ways to use old weapons. With the Lancer, you can now enter into chainsaw battles with an enemy that decides to attack with a Lancer themselves. Once you get into this scenario, it becomes a battle of who can tap the B button the quickest. This is a fun little ‘mini-game’ if you will. In the single player campaign, you’d be lucky to encounter this even once, however in multiplayer, there are more opportunities to duke it out with someone online. The other new use of an old weapon is being able to tag grenades to objects like building walls, concrete pillars, etc. and use them as proximity mines. There’s nothing like watching your unsuspecting enemy splatter as they walk by one of them.

New attack moves have been added in Gears 2. You now have various ways to execute an injured and crawling enemy. Aside from the familiar head stomp, there are a number different ways to take out your Horde nemesis. My favourite is the flip them on their back and beat their face in with your fists move. So satisfying.

Production values are very high in quality. The voice acting and sound effects are solid. The musical score does a great job of setting the tone and atmosphere throughout the game. Majority of the levels are well designed and allow from some great and intense fire fights – both open and closed. Especially the levels that take place underground with collapsed cities. On top of all that, the story for Gears 2 does a good job of continuing where it left off at the end of Gears of War and setting up what is likely going to be the wrap up if and likely when Gears 3 comes out. Whenever that will be...hopefully not too far off from now. I also enjoyed the inclusion of new characters and like Tai and the Horde Queen and also being able to battle against new enemies like the Brumaks. I also enjoyed the way they provided more insight into Dom’s life with the side story of his wife Maria as well as revealing more about Marcus and his father Adam Fenix.

And last but not least, the co-op and multiplayer gameplay are superbly fun. Playing the campaign in co-op mode is so easy to set up, especially with the drop-in ability. Teaming up with a buddy to go through the entire game provides added variety and some instances of true co-operative play that you can’t experience in single player mode. Multiplayer also adds to the pluses with new modes like Elimination and Submission. I really like Submission as it is a take on the traditional capture the flag mode. However, in Submission, the ‘flag’ is a civilian who is armed and will try to fight off anyone who tries to capture him. This makes for an interesting challenge. And then there’s Horde mode. Here you and 4 others get together to fight off wave after wave of increasing numbers of Locust enemies. The goal is to try and advance through as much waves as possible. The waves go up to 50. No easy feat...trust me.

So far so good right? All this praise and what’s my gripe you ask?

It’s really just one thing. I felt that the game was almost too easy to play through (and remember, I played through the game starting with Hardcore difficulty). When I compare it to playing through the first Gears of War, Gears 2 just didn’t feel challenging enough. Of course, there were 2 or 3 instances in the game where I had some difficulty to get through it, but other than that, much of the battle sequences were completed with little difficulty and most of the boss fights were a breeze once you figured out some predictable pattern. Example given would be the Skorge boss fight as well as the final boss fight with the Imulsion mutated Brumak. Even the interesting and promising level that takes place inside of the city levelling Riftworm ended up being somewhat disappointing. I can’t help but feel like this level took a page out of the Flood level in Halo 3.

In the end, even with the one knock above, I’m very impressed with Gears of War 2. All of the new additions in gameplay, weapons, game mode combined with the very impressive production elements makes for a game that in my opinion should be experienced by all. Gears of War 2 will no doubt be categorized as one of the best games of 2008.

NextGen Player gives Gears of War 2...

4.5 out of 5 - Editor's Choice

NextGen Player Named Finalist in the Canadian Blog Awards

Wow, who would have thought this was possible? I checked the Canadian Blog Awards and NextGen Player has advanced to the second - and final - round of voting for the 'Best New Blog' category.

Thanks to everyone who voted in the first round, all of us here at NextGen Player appreciate the support. For the second round, the process is the same. Please go to the Canadian Blog Awards website and vote one last time (one vote per IP address is allowed):

Best New Blog
http://cdnba.wordpress.com/vote-2008/best-new-blog/

It's honestly been a blast working on this blog the last seven months and I look forward to many years to come. Let's show the Canadian (and global) blogosphere that Canada is the best place in the world for gaming!

PSN games The Last Guy, PixelJunk Eden (and more) on sale for $5

SCEA have announced a price promotion in Canada for five of the highest-profile (and, some would argue, among the best) PSN titles, for ridiculously low price of $5. The PSN games on sale include:

- The Last Guy
- PixelJunk Eden
- echochrome (PS3)
- Novastrike
- Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3

All five PSN games are temporarily priced at $5 until December 4, 2008. All games are regularly priced at $10.

If you've missed out on the silk-shooting PixelJunk Eden, zombie-slaying The Last Guy, or mannequin maneuvering echochrome - this is your chance to do it cheaply. Novastrike and Wolf of the Battlefield are a little on the *meh* side from my experience playing the demos. And by *meh* I really mean *ugggg*.

If you're interested in sampling The Last Guy, check out this NextGen Player personalized level. Zombie Fun!

Nov 29, 2008

Prince of Persia Bonus offer

UbiSoft sent me the following announcement regarding the latest installment in the "Prince of Persia".

With a whole new Prince, storyline, open world environments, combat style, signature illustrative graphical style and the addition of Elika, a deadly new ally, Prince of Persia brings the franchise to new heights of deadly acrobatic, artistry and is set to become the #1 action-adventure game of 2008 this Holiday.

The message was promoting a special edition copy of the game for pre-order customers that includes; the Making of video, the Prima Virtual Mini-strategy guide, the soundtrack, and many other items.

Personally I can't wait to get my hands on this game, the graphics and the story line seem like something I could really get into.

Nov 27, 2008

EB Games Offers 80GB PS3 with Free Game - $399

While on the subway today reading the Toronto Metro newspaper I came across an EB Games full page ad for a pretty good PS3 deal in Effect from November 23 - December 13. If you purchase an 80GB PS3 ($399 + tax) they will also give you a free game out of a selection of five titles.

Normally when I hear an offer like this my internal gamer radar tells me the free game will either be something crappy, like oh say Kung-Fu Panda or a game like Uncharted that is really good, but so last year.

Amazingly enough, this deal has decided to be in defiance of gamer radar and is not entirely full of suck. The selection of games you can choose from are actually quite good and are new. Believe it or not, two of the title came out this month. Yeah I know, I had to brace myself too.

If you pick up a PS3 you can choose one of the following five games for free:

Resistance 2
NHL 2009
LittleBigPlanet
Call of Duty: World At War
Metal Gear Solid 4

Easily the game in that pack that I would choose is Metal Gear Solid 4. But that's only because it just might be the best game on the PS3 to date. Of course, the other four aren't too shabby either...

Nov 26, 2008

Quebec's Video Game Industry: Sixth Largest in the World

While at the Montreal International Game Summit I attended a conference held at the main stage where the Alliance numérique President, André D'Orsonnens, presented a benchmark study prepared by consulting firm SECOR-Taktik on the Quebec gaming industry.

The study found that Quebec now ranks sixth in the world with 4,400 developers in the province. Nearly 2,000 additional gaming jobs are also found in the province ranging from technology providers, creative services, production services and support services.

Japan is currently has the most developers employed in the games industry with 20,000, followed by California (11,500), South Korea (9,000), United Kingdom (8,300) and Washington State (5,000).

Quebec's largest video game companies include Ubisoft Montreal, EA Montreal, A2M, Eidos Montreal, Beenox, Ubisoft Quebec, and Frima Studio.

"Quebec actually ranks third when you consider the number of developers per thousand of inhabitants. It is then only outdone by British Columbia and Washington State," remarks André d’Orsonnens, President of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Druide Informatique, and President of the Board of Alliance numérique.

"The regions Quebec competes with most have also put in place industry support measures to attract companies as well as human and financial resources. We must keep a watch on the evolution of these measures and implement silimar ones compete with them, to ensure the continued growth of our industry," adds d’Orsonnens.

Alliance numérique's General Manager, Pierre Proulx, notes that three key measures must be put in place to ensure the Quebec gaming industry continues to grow:

- Qualified talent is getting scarce, so we need to promote the gaming industry to the younger generation so that they’ll make their careers in the province.

- Financing isn’t sufficient for original content creation, so we must put in place new financial incentives.

- Quebec's young companies don’t have the expertise and commercial resources to fully succeed; we need to offer them access to advisory services and adequate leadership.

To reach these objectives, the Alliance numérique feels that collaboration between the different levels of governments, financial institutions and the companies themselves is essential, and that the organization is committed to generating and maintaining that integration during the coming months.

Fallout 3 Announcement: Creation Kit and First Downloadable Content

Fallout 3
Bethesda Softworks announced the following news for Fallout 3 on their website today.


November 25, 2008 (ROCKVILLE, MD) – Bethesda Softworks®, a ZeniMax Media company, today announced plans to make both its editor and downloadable content available for its award-winning game, Fallout® 3 in the coming weeks. The official editor for Fallout 3, called the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit), will be available for free download in December and will allow Games for Windows® users to create and add their own content to the game. In addition, the first official downloadable content, Operation: Anchorage, will be available exclusively for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Games for Windows® in January, and more downloadable content coming in February and March.

"We've always seen the original world of Fallout 3 as a foundation for even more content. Some created by us, and a lot more created by users," said Todd Howard, game director for Fallout 3. "It's fun to create your own character, but it can be equally fun to create your own adventures. We can't wait to see what the community does with the G.E.C.K."

The release of the G.E.C.K. provides the community with tools that will allow players to expand the game any way they wish. Users can create, modify, and edit any data for use with Fallout 3, from building landscapes, towns, and locations to writing dialogue, creating characters, weapons, creatures, and more.


Three downloadable content packs will be coming to Xbox 360 and Games for Windows Live starting in January that will add new quests, items, and content to Fallout 3.

Operation: Anchorage. Enter a military simulation and fight in one of the greatest battles of the Fallout universe – the liberation of Anchorage, Alaska from its Chinese Communist invaders. An action-packed battle scheduled for release in January.

The Pitt. Journey to the industrial raider town called The Pitt, located in the remains of Pittsburgh. Choose your side. Scheduled for release in February.

Broken Steel. Join the ranks of the Brotherhood of Steel and rid the Capital Wasteland of the Enclave remnants once and for all. Continues the adventure past the main quest. Scheduled for release in March.

Sony Announces New Playstation 3 Accessories

PS3 owners can expect some new peripherals this holiday season. These come in the form of the Wireless Keypad with Bluetooth we reported on back in August and an AC adapter that can charge the DUALSHOCK 3 wireless controller, SIXAXIS controller, Bluetooth Headset and Wireless Keypad.


PS3 Wireless Keypad
The Wireless Keypad is designed for use with the PS3 but also can be used with any other Bluetooth devices that support a keyboard functionality. Retail cost for the Wireless Keypad is listed as $49.99 US and will be available in stores in the first week of December.


PS3 AC Adapter
The AC adapter has the ability to simultaneously charge any two compatible devices through the USB connector and without having to turn on the PS3 system. It will also charge the PSP-2000 and PSP-3000. The retail cost for the AC adapter is listed as $24.99 US. This will be available in stores starting the second week of December.

Nov 25, 2008

Child's Play is Almost Here

Don't know what Child's Play is? Shame on you...

Child's Play is a Penny-Arcade based charity made of gamers who want to give back. The charity aims to assist children in hospitals with entertainment and treatment costs.

A local Toronto Student Group from the University of Toronto Scarborough the "Video Game Society Squared" and the SCSU along with many special campus and corporate partners are proud to bring an entire day filled with games and fun for the 2nd Annual Child's Play Charity on Thursday, November 27th!

For more details, check out the Facebook group setup for the event, and check out the Home page for Child's Play to find hospital near you that is participating with this great charity across Canada. While your at the Child's Play site Donate to their PayPal fund or buy a toy for your local hospital (Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax).

Look for our post event wrap up from a special guest writer.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Itch King


Hello everyone. My name is Drew, and I’m a recovering WoW addict. (Hi Drew)

It’s been 6 months, 24 days and 8 hours since my last log on. It’s been a tough road. You know how it is. I’d be out at a party amongst friends, and WoW would come up. They’d tell me how much they missed raiding with me, or would offer to gear me up in the newest epic loot. I’d start sweating, stammering about how I was clean now, I’d moved on with my life. They didn’t listen though. One even pulled me aside and pressed something into my hand. When I looked down, it was a free 10 day trial pass. “Just to show you how much you’ve missed it!” he said. I had to run out of there and unplug my router at home, just to make sure I didn’t backslide.

But every road to recovery had a few potholes right? I’ve been good though, I’m eating better, getting out more…I even lost my WoW-belly. I’m worried though. I think I might be headed for a relapse. You see, this little thing called Wrath of the Lich King came out last week. I knew this was coming, and I lied to myself and said I could handle it. But the truth is, I’ve got the Itch again. I started feeling it when Blizzard revealed all their Death Knight information and it only got worse with every content patch since. Zombie invasions…massive class changes…motorcycles? Damn you Blizzard and your enabling ways. The Itch only grew when they showed what would be offered in the Collectors Edition. Normally I can resist CE’s, but Blizzard always offers the premium stuff, not some chopped up Fable 2 CE. The worst of it came when my girlfriend decided to dust off her Blood Elf and finally get to 70 in preparation for Lich King. Another enabler in my midst!

I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. The Itch grows and grows every day. I’ve called my sponsors but they’re all raiding and not answering the phone. I’ve tried calling Visa and telling them to cancel my credit card so I can’t sign up again, but they’re busy levelling their Death Knights. Some day soon my friends...I’ll slip. When people ask what happened to that happy young man they used to see out in the real world, tell them I fell back into Azeroth. Tell them that the Itch needed to be scratched.

Nov 24, 2008

NextGen Player Nominated for Two Canadian Blog Awards

I just found out that NextGen Player has been nominated for two Canadian Blog Awards. We've been nominated in the Best New Blog and Best Activities Blog categories. It looks like we're the only gaming blog that made both nomination lists. Kinda cool.

If your are a reader and supporter of NextGen Player, please hit up the site and vote for us by Saturday, when voting closes. I probably should have mentioned this before but we're up against hamburgers and cheese.

Best New Blog
http://cdnba.wordpress.com/vote-2008/best-new-blog/

Best Activities Blog
http://cdnba.wordpress.com/vote-2008/best-activities-blog/

Voting consists of two rounds taking place with each round lasting 7 days.

The first round of voting will include all nominees.

The second round of voting will narrow the list of nominees in each category down to the top 5 from the first round of voting.

We appreciate your support. Please help spread the word!

Fable II Premium Downloadable Content Coming Soon


Lionhead Studios and Microsoft Game Studios have just announced the first Fable II Premium Downloadable Content.

Starting in mid-December 2008, the Knothole Island content pack will be available for download through Xbox Live Marketplace. This premium download will include new quests as well as various new items and characters that will be encountered. The Knothole Island premium download will cost 800 Microsoft Points

In addition, those who download the premium pack will also be able to download a free pack to allow co-op gameplay within the Knothole Island content. To engage in co-op gameplay with a player who has already downloaded the Knothole Island content, gamers will need to download this free pack.

Those who download the premium and free content will receive in game gifts, including Knight’s Boots, Assassins Gloves, a special Weight Loss Potion, collectible silver book and more. Fable II gamers will also be able to view their standing in over 50 new Leaderboards on Lionhead.com.

In addition to this upcoming Fable II DLC, Lionhead Studios and Microsoft Game Studios have created an Albion dashboard theme to celebrate the New Xbox Experience. This theme is available now for 250 Microsoft points.

For details, you can visit www.lionhead.com/fable2.

Altair Skin Download for Prince of Persia


With the release of the Prince of Persia game only a few weeks away, Ubisoft has officially announced that they will be offering a cool reward in the form of a free unlockable download for the game.

Fans who purchase the Price of Persia game and link their Ubisoft.com account with their Xbox Live or PlayStation Network accounts will be able to download the skin of Altair from Assassin's Creed.

"Prince of Persia is an incredible experience. We're thrilled to give our loyal fans another way to journey through it," said Ben Mattes, producer for Ubisoft's Prince of Persia video game. "This exclusive reward is a 'thank you' to our fans, who can easily unlock it when they link their Ubisoft.com accounts to their Xbox 360® or PLAYSTATION®3 gamer identities."

This is definitely exciting for fans of both games who will have the opportunity to play Price of Persia clad in Altair's white and red colours.

You can create your Ubisoft.com account on the Prince of Persia game site and then link it when you start playing the game. Prince of Persia is scheduled for release on December 4th for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and on December 11th for the PC.

Nov 23, 2008

GDC Comes to Canada: May 12-13, 2009

Think Services Game Group has entered into a partnership with Reboot Communications to present Game Developers Conference (GDC) Canada in association with New Media BC's Vancouver Digital Week in May 2009. In response to Canada's increasingly important role in the international game development landscape, the GDC has committed to bringing a world-class conference focused on fostering critical information exchange, creating connections and stimulating creativity. Building on the success of the Vancouver International Game Summit, GDC Canada will feature global perspectives on cross-discipline and cross-platform content, with an eye to serving the increasingly significant Canadian games business sector.

"GDC's strength is in its ability to translate its core values to provide both global and local relevance," Kathy Schoback, Executive Vice President of Global Events, Think Services, said. "We are incredibly excited to partner with Reboot and New Media BC on GDC Canada, which will serve the regional development community with conference content designed to engender learning, networking and inspiration."

The first Vancouver Game Summit, dedicated to bringing the Canadian sector international perspectives on developing games for the new generation of consoles, took place in 2007. For the last two years, the Summit has served an audience of programmers, artists, game designers, producers, and studio leads. GDC Canada will retain the focus of serving developers, and promises to bring GDC-quality conference content through top-tier speakers offering fresh viewpoints.

"We are proud to have served the Canadian game development community over the last few years," Greg Spievak, CEO of Reboot Communications, said. "Bringing the deep connections and expertise of the GDC to the community will take the developer event to the next level, and together we will serve this major game development region with the focus and resources it deserves."

Vancouver Digital Week, organized by New Media BC, is an immersive week of innovative programming and partnership opportunities for the digital media industry that features top minds from around the globe. Participants gain access to international business match-making, 'big picture' conference sessions on the latest trends and markets in digital media, high-level seminars for creators, designers, and producers, and vibrant networking parties.

"Bringing the globally respected GDC brand to the Vancouver digital media community will help to enhance business relations and learning quality for our region's developers," noted Kenton Low, President of New Media BC. "Vancouver Digital Week will be even more compelling with the addition of GDC Canada."

For more information on Canada GDC you can visit the website at www.gdc-canada.com.

NextGen Player Competes in Wii NHL 2K9 Tournament

Last month we posted about the Future Shop Wii NHL 2K9 in-store tournament, and if you recall, I was supposed to be present at the Yonge & Dundas event in Toronto.

Long story short, the tournament was at 11:00am on November 1 - the day after Halloween - and unfortunately I had been partying the night before in my NWO Hulk Hogan outfit and wasn't feeling up to attending. Perhaps before going to bed I should I have trained, said my prayers and ate my vitamins. A lesson learned hard I supposed.

Maybe because they screwed up the registration or maybe because they are a truly empathetic bunch, I received an email from the tournament organizers letting me know I could still participate in the Wii NHL 2K9 tournament at the Future Shop Heartland location on November 22. Sw-eeeeet! Naturally I jumped at the (second) chance.

As it turns out, I was quickly thrust into a head-to-head match with my friend Mike. Neither one of us had previous experience playing the game, so it resulted in a who can figure out the controls first match-up. The winner of the match would receive a $25 gift card at Future Shop.


I had Mike reeling with an early goal in first period. My main advantage at this point was that Mike didn't know to press the B button and shake the Wii-Remote to win face-offs. Normally in good sportsmanship I would tell him this control mechanic, but this was who can figure out the controls first match-up. It was every man for himself.

Through determination, Mike had the basics of Wii-remote passing understood by the second period (a skill I could not grasp, apparently) and he scored a goal at the half-way point making the match an even 1-1.

Alas, in the third period Mike successfully scored a second goal from the blue line and I would not recover. Mike won the competition a respectable 2-1.


For his efforts, Mike was awarded a $25 gift card at Future Shop. As part of the ceremonial awarding of the gift certificate, Mike had his picture taken with one of the event organizers:


Look at that big grin. He's so happy to have kicked my ass.

If I had to do it again, I would have insisted the organizers turn on the Wii-remote on ice fighting. Losing would have been much more entertaining had I been able to throw a few punches before the final buzzer. I really wanted to sample Wii-Remote + Nunchuk fisticuffs action, but I was denied this obvious pleasure.

While I was there I took photos of the semi-final and finals match that occurred after Mike's win. For the complete photo reel, check out our Flickr set here:

Future Shop Wii NHL 2K9 In-Store Tournament Photos.

Nov 22, 2008

NextGen Player's Gears of War Contest Coming Soon

Hello Gamers!

NextGen Player is happy to announce yet another fantastic contest for our readers. To celebrate the recent release of Gears of War 2, we've decided to hold a Gears of War contest in December.

Stay tuned to NextGen Player as we'll announce the contest details on December 1st. Better yet, sign up to our feed burner so that you can easily be reminded when we post the details. On top of that, you'll also receive regular updates on all of the gaming news we report on our blog.

The NextGen Player Gears of War Contest will consist of one Grand Prize.

The Grand Prize will include:

- The very limited edition Gears of War Locust Drone Headshot Figure with Metal COG Tags
- Exclusive download code for the Gold Hammerburst Assult Rifle for online use
- Gears of War 2 t-shirt (XL size)

Here's a picture of the Grand Prize. This will be an awesome contest so make sure you sign up to our feed burner for regular updates to this and all the other great news we report on in the gaming world.


NextGen Player Gears of War Contest


Cheers,
Andrew (Drumega) and The NextGen Player team

Nov 21, 2008

74 Pictures from the Montreal International Game Summit 2008

I'm back from Montreal and what an adventure was had. The Montreal International Game Summit may have come to a close but the stories on NextGen Player have just begun. Expect to see a number of write-ups on the gaming event in the week to come.

To kick off the coverage, I've uploaded 74 pictures I took during the two day event to our Flickr account. The pictures range from the keynote speech from David Braben from Frontier Developments (developer of Lost Winds on WiiWare) to the Exhibition booths (EA Montreal, Beenox, Ubisoft + more) to speakers at the conference sessions.

The event overall was spectacular and lived up to expectations. A record breaking 1,500 people were in attendance - twice as many as in 2005 - and for the first time ever the public was able to come in, play some games in the Exhibition Zone and watch the keynote speech delivered by Jonathan Blow.

The conference sessions were varied and included an unprecedented number of Canadian speakers this year. Attendees were given an insiders look at the creation and development of some of the hottest games this year and beyond including Far Cry 2, Prince of Persia, Braid, Left For Dead, Team Fortress 2, Wet, and many more. The unique insights into the minds of the producers, programmers, writers and artists behind these games were eye-opening, thought-provoking and inspiring to say the least.

Stay tuned for exclusive interviews, game footage, news, and more. I have a whole bundle of awesomeness from MIGS 2008 to share with you soon!

74 Pictures from MIGS 2008

Nov 20, 2008

First Episode of DLC for GTA IV: Announced

New York, NY - November 20, 2008 - Rockstar Games, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), is proud to announce that the eagerly anticipated first episode of downloadable content, Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, will be coming to the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system via Xbox LIVE® online entertainment network. Available exclusively on Xbox LIVE worldwide on February 17, 2009, The Lost and Damned will feature all new content and is the first of two episodes announced for Grand Theft Auto IV on Xbox 360.

"Making these episodes has enabled us to expand the narrative and the experience of interacting with a game world in really innovative ways," said Sam Houser, Founder of Rockstar Games. "We hope fans of the game enjoy the new way of experiencing life in Liberty City contained in this first episode."

Since its launch in April, Grand Theft Auto IV has garnered unprecedented praise and acclaim worldwide. Developed by series creator Rockstar North and set in Liberty City, The Lost and Damned features a new main character and plot that intersects with the storyline of Grand Theft Auto IV; new missions that offer an entirely fresh way to explore Liberty City with new multiplayer modes, weapons and vehicles; and a diverse soundtrack with additional music - all with the incredible production values that are the trademarks of Grand Theft Auto.

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned requires players to have the full version of Grand Theft Auto IV for Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE membership to download. Further details, including pricing, will be announced soon. For more information, please visit www.rockstargames.com/IV.

Full News Release: http://ir.take2games.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=349051

Nov 19, 2008

The Wii Train Continues to Steam Ahead

Nintendo WiiEver since the launch of the Nintendo Wii in late 2006, sales for the Wii console has continued to grow and gain momentum year over year. Late last month, Nintendo Co. reported that they are confident sales for the Nintendo Wii will reach 27.5 million units worldwide in the fiscal year. Compare this to Sony's expectation to sell 10 million PS3s and you really get a sense for the strength that the Wii has within the game console market.
If you combine the strong sales of the Wii, DS and some key game titles such as the Wii Fit (they are very hard to come by as most of you already know), Nintendo expects to earn approx. $4.4 billion for the fiscal year that ends in March 2009. Incredible considering the economic crisis being felt in the US and Europe at the moment.

Nintendo's success in targeting the casual gamer just points to what industry experts have been eluding to for the past few years...the casual gaming market is growing rapidly and the opportunities to profit from it are enormous.

Nov 18, 2008

New Xbox Experience Coming to a 360 Console Near You

November 19th is a day that many or most Xbox 360 owners are looking forward to in anticipation of the New Xbox Experience. The New Xbox Experience promises to provide an interactive experience that is rich, engaging and more social than ever.



Some of the key features include:

• Xbox LIVE Party. This will allow you to create and host a virtual party via Xbox LIVE with up to seven friends. Using Xbox LIVE Party, you will have the ability to voice chat while you play games, share photos in real time and entertain your friends.

• Personality plus. You can now create a customizable, animated avatar and dive into the world of Xbox LIVE. Your avatar is your virtual being throughout the New Xbox Experience and represents your personality on Xbox LIVE.

• Your personal game room. Play classic games such as “PAC-MAN Championship Edition,” “Galaga Legions” and “Portal: Still Alive”. Also play games that put your avatars in the action, such as “A Kingdom for Keflings,” “UNO,” “Hardwood Hearts” and “Hardwood Spades,” exclusively for download from Xbox LIVE Arcade. Xbox LIVE members will be able to access the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, Xbox LIVE Arcade and queue content to download directly from Xbox.com.

• Games for the community, by the community. For the first time in the history of console gaming, community developed games will be available to the public for download. The Community Games channel on Xbox LIVE will include games made by students and hobbyists, and will be exclusive to Xbox LIVE.

These are just a few things to look forward to with the New Xbox Experience when it launches on November 19th.

Keep tuned to NextGen Player in the coming weeks as we will be working on getting an opportunity to interview Craig Flannigan - Platform Manager for Xbox, for his thoughts and insights on the New Xbox Experience.

Nov 16, 2008

NextGen Player is MIGS Bound

Behold the official NextGen Player logo for the Montreal International Summit 2008 which kicks off in a mere two days. The logo is just one of the preparations as I get set to board my train to the massive gaming event.

Look for full coverage of MIGS 2008 including game impressions, interviews, news & announcements, videos and a whole lot more later in the week.

Nov 15, 2008

Xbox 360 Arcade Console Upgrade - Limited Time

Xbox 360 20GB HDDThe Xbox website is currently offering 360 Arcade console owners the opportunity to upgrade their systems with a refurbished 20GB hard drive for a very reasonable price of $29.99 (this also includes a 3 month Xbox Live Gold membership).

This offer falls right in line with the upcoming release of the New Xbox Experience on November 19th. This sounds like a great deal for those 360 Arcade owners that have been holding off on a HDD.

For more details and to see if your 360 console is eligible for this promotion, on the link below to go to the hard drive upgrade promo page on the Xbox website.



For our French Canadian readers, the French page is here:


LittleBigPlanet 'Sticker Wall', Now With Added Sticky

It seems that Best Buy's Gaming Invasion wasn't the only place that Sackboy and his gigantic LittleBigPlanet tent visited on their Canadian promotional tour. It seems the four inch high Playstation mascot also made a trip to Montreal to appear at this year's Festival Arcadia.

While under the tent, attendees had the opportunity to design their own Sackboy sticker and then pose in front of the 'Sticker Wall' for a personalized photo.

To view all the smily happy Festival Arcadia sticker wall people, check out the November 7-9 album dates here:

LittleBigPlanet 'Sticker Wall' Photo Collection [Playstation.ca]

NextGen Player Reader Review: Wii Music

Guest Post: Blaine Barber

Much has been written, mostly negative, about Wii Music in the few short weeks since its launch. I would venture to guess that this is probably one of the most controversial games to be released in quite some time. In the prevailing reviews, however, we seldom get down to what, from a gaming perspective, Wii Music is.

First off, there are several different "styles" of play in Wii Music. You can use buttons for horns, waggle actions for Bass, etc. It has to be said, that the Wii is the only console that can easily offer all of the features in use for the input. Please consider this - while you are playing an instrument you can change both the rhythm and the volume of that instrument. You can also slightly affect the pitch of some instruments (bending notes on guitar) or change the note somewhat implicitly (using the B button on trumpet). You cannot, however, choose any of the notes that the game is playing. Rather, they are offered up for you to discover as you bang, press, and shake your controllers. The takeaway here is that the input system is complex and unique to the Wii, but also limited in how it can change the game. With Wii Music the feedback is, for the most part, aural rather than visual. I often find myself wandering around the room with my eyes closed trying to find some hidden line of music in the game. Uniquely, the visual portion of the game is of little importance while you are playing.

With regards to objectives, the most basic objective of the game would be to complete a song using all six parts (2 percussion, 1 Bass, 1 chord, 1 harmony, 1 melody) hitting all of the correct rhythms. Doing this, however, would be like playing Super Mario Bros. 3 without trying to hit every block and discover all the hidden 1ups. According to Miyamoto, to make a great game there must be secrets there for you to discover. With Wii Music this is achieved by providing supplemental notes, chords, harmonies and rhythms that can be hit when NOT following the sheet music. All of these notes make up your environment in the game. It is a musical landscape. Sometimes you will find a path here that leads somewhere... other times, not so much. No one said this game was easy - oh wait, a lot of people said that. I think they're wrong.

Now, we come to the most controversial element of Wii Music - the rewards. This is the main area where the game departs not only from typical games but also from many Miyamoto classics. Following common perceptions on gaming, in order to achieve the ultimate reward in Wii Music one would have to complete each level (song) in the game. The twist is that the game will not tell you if you have completed a song successfully. This makes sense, however, because it is impossible for a game to grade a performance based on its aesthetic qualities. Remember, your goal is to go beyond the written music. The only way to judge how well you did on the song is through your own judgment and your interaction with others. This, I think, is the stroke of genius behind Wii Music. This is where the videos are an absolute necessity in judging the success of the performance. They can be traded back and forth amongst your friends or be posted on-line for all to see (if you have the stomach for it). The videos are both your reward and your tool for judging how well you did in the game. It's a rather interesting reward system. It is this reward system that was referred to as being "absurd" in the Gametrailers video review. I'm not sure that I agree.

So when we study Wii Music in depth, we can come to the following conclusions:
The Reward system (songs and videos) and the gameplay feedback system (primarily sound rather than graphics) are unique and in fact fitting to the experience.

For the most part, this game is not an educational tool except for very young children who are just beginning to grasp the basic concepts of rhythm and tone - no proper music theory is provided with the game.

This game is not a tool for improvising - at least not in a complete sense - because we cannot choose our own notes or chord progressions.
If we come to accept what the game is not, and we understand it for what it is, we have much more respect for the game - which is the purpose of this "review". Whether the game is a success is up to the individual player and his or her ability to make the somewhat elementary song list come to life. It is for certain, though, that as an attempt to change some of the core elements of the traditional console gaming experience, Wii Music is studied and precise in its objectives - and it makes perfect sense.

Nov 14, 2008

Canada Post Ad Reminds us to Stop Gaming, Collect Coins Instead

You know, sometimes I really wish I was making up some of the material I write about on NextGen Player. Take for example the story about the Wii Remote Candy dispenser, after shooting a couple of candies into my mouth I honestly feel like I lost 5 IQ points that day.

And then there is this. A direct mail piece I received a few days ago. At first I thought it was a retail flyer encouraging me to buy a PS2. But then I started to read the content and realized this was something much different. I'm really at a loss for words here - I'll let you guys and gals decide for yourselves.


My sentiments exactly.

MIGS to Open to the Public for the First Time Ever

The Alliance Numerique have announced some exciting news for gamers - this year's Montreal Game Summit will be open for the public for the first time. Enthusiastic gamers will have the chance to experience the grand spectacle of the exhibition zone where companies such as Eidos, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Ubisoft will have booths set-up.

Gamers are also invited to attend the closing conference speech by Jonathan Blow - designer of the critically acclaimed Xbox Live game Braid. There is also an open invitation for gamers to come to the Closing Party at the Society of Arts and Technology located near the summit.

I will attending this year's MIGS event, so stay tuned for full coverage on NextGen Player next week. If you plan on attending, keep an eye out for me - and say hi!

Here's the full press release announcing the public opening of MIGS:

Montreal, November 12, 2008 – Now in its fifth year, the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS), the premier event dedicated to video game artists, programmers, designers and producers, will be opening its doors to the public for the first time ever.

Taking place on November 18-19 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, the Summit will offer several exciting activities geared towards the general public.

Created to meet the growing needs of the industry, the MIGS is the most important gathering of video game designers in Canada and is widely considered to be one of the world large-scale events in this sector. And as part of its mandate to more widely promote the Canadian video gaming industry, this year will feature a special public exhibition dedicated to the visual and digital arts.

Open door on November 19th
The MIGS will open its doors to the general public, free of charge, on Wednesday, November 19th, from 3 pm until 7 pm. Video game enthusiasts will be able to visit the exhibition zone, meet with the representatives of local video game companies and discuss job openings in Quebec. The public will also be able to attend the much-anticipated Jonathan Blow’s closing conference. Jonathan Blow is an independent designer whose game, BRAID, received a warm welcome, from critics and gamers alike, at the beginning of this year.

Visual arts exhibition
As digital arts and video games share much in common, the Summit wishes to promote the artistic aspect of the video games – which has more to do with fine art than technique. For this reason, the Summit features a unique “concept arts”, industry exhibition dedicated to what the industry refers as the which will take place in the exhibition zone of the Palais des congrès. This exhibition will allow the visitors to discover sketches of settings, objects and characters which will take life later in the animation process. This exhibition is a display of Quebec creativity and know-how.

Closing Party and independent stereoscopic game competition
To end the celebrations in style, the public are invited to the Summit closing party for the Gamma third edition, an event challenging the independent developers creativity though a competition. The selected projects will be presented to the public, who will be invited to play and test the games. The prize-winner will be announced that evening.

NXE Q&A

Proving once more that good things usually happen when you've stopped caring about them, an email turned up today informing me that I'd been accepted into the "New Xbox Experience" preview, just a week before the console update hits the rest of the world on November 19th. Far be it from me to complain about getting stuff early though, so I'm trying out the new features.

If you should happen to have any questions about the NXE that haven't been answered yet, post in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

Also, I like how mygamercard.net is incorporating the new look of the dashboard into their signature images, check it out -



Nov 13, 2008

WOTLK Launch Party Photos @ Future Shop

Every year around this time we as gamers always say silently to ourselves why do all these amazing games release so close together? And let's be honest, the problem is only getting worse with each passing year.

Let's see, we've had Fable II, LittleBigPlanet, Rockband 2, Gears of War 2, Fallout 3, and the list goes on. But there's one game out there that may eclipse them all - and that of course is World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

The WoW expansion pack released at 11:59 p.m. yesterday at Future Shop locations across the country, and NextGen Player has once again been given exclusive access to launch party photos at the Yonge & Dundas location in downtown Toronto.

According to Elliott Chun, one of the WOTLK event organizers, "more than 200 gaming enthusiasts turned up at this location – some as early as 11:30 a.m. yesterday – to purchase the game."

As part of the festivities, the Future Shop location held a World of Warcraft cosplay contest at 11:30 p.m. where the best dressed Azerothian received a $100 gift card from Future Shop and was moved up to the first spot in line.

NextGen Player guest writer and WoW enthusiast Nymity was on hand at the event and said the atmosphere was amazing.

To give a small taste of the event, here are some photos courtesy of our friends at Future Shop:






The check out the full WOTLK launch party photos, check out the Flickr album.

[Thanks to Future Shop for sharing the photographs!]

Nov 12, 2008

Rock Band DLC 11-10-08

I'm hoping you'll bear with a self-inldulgent post today, as I have nothing to say beyond the following: The Colour and the Shape album by the Foo Fighters is now available for download for Rock Band. The tracks hit Live on Tuesday and the PS3 store on Thursday. You're looking at $20 for the full album or $1.99 per track. I happen to think it's a damn good album.

Nov 11, 2008

Gears of War 2 Midnight Launch Photos @ Future Shop

The good folks at Future Shop were kind enough to share with NextGen Player some photographs of the recent Gears of War 2 midnight launch events in Canada.

Despite the cancellations of the launch party events planned in Toronto and Vancouver (out of respect for the family and friends of Brandon Crisp), stores across Canada were still open at midnight to sell copies of the games.

From the looks of it, hundreds of gamers lined up at the Yonge and Dundas Future Shop location in downtown Toronto.

Here are some snazzy photos taken that night, many of which contain very happy gamers:










The view the full Gears of War 2 midnight sale photo library, check out the Flickr album.

[Thanks to Future Shop for sharing the photographs!]

BestBuy Canada | WOTLK Cosplay Contest

BestBuy.ca has announced that on November 13th, four of their locations will be hosting World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Cosplay contests. Dress like your favorite WOW Character and you may just win an HP Pavilion Elite Gaming Desktop.

Best Buy launch parties will take place at the following stores; Toronto’s Bay and Dundas (ON), Vancouver’s Cambie (BC), Deerfoot Meadows (AB) and the Edmonton South (AB).

Looks like Atlantic Canada is missing out on this promotion but you wont totally be left out as all Canadian Best Buy Stores will be open November 13, 12:01am for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (stores in Quebec will open at 8am on November 13).

Also for those that can't get to one of these locations but you still want to win the HP Pavilion you can enter online - but don't enter because I want to win ;)