Monday, August 31, 2009

Jade Raymond Named Head of Ubisoft Toronto

By Andrew Shin

Today Ubisoft announced that Jade Raymond would be heading up the new Ubisoft Toronto studio. Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto announced that Jade will be responsible for managing the overall operations of the Toronto studio's video game projects.

“I’m excited to have Jade managing our Toronto studio,” said Yannis Mallat, chief executive officer of Ubisoft MontrĂ©al and Ubisoft Toronto. “With more than 12 years of experience in the video game industry, Jade’s knowledge and leadership as an industry veteran are major assets in building the Toronto studio and expanding Ubisoft’s presence in Canada.”

“I’m honored to be a part of Ubisoft’s expansion into Toronto,” said Jade Raymond. “I’m looking forward to building a strong and talented team to work on AAA games and new intellectual properties.”

Jade Raymond worked for Ubisoft Montreal as a producer on Assassin's Creed. Currently, Jade is an executive producer on the upcoming Assassin's Creed II. She first joined Ubisoft Montreal back in 2004 and prior to that had worked on the development of various games for companies such as EA and Sony Online.


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NextGen Player Review: Trine (PC)

By Andrew Shin

So here I am, sharing with you my review of Trine for the PC. This marks a special occasion of sorts because being strictly a console gamer, I've never really muddled with gaming on the PC. However, with Trine I decided to make an exception. Having read previews and seen screenshots of the game, there was a lot that intrigued me about it...and the fact that I'm a sucker for a good platformer. Thus, when the good folks at South Peak Games (North American publisher for Trine) provided me with a download code for the PC version through Steam, I couldn't resist.

Trine is your familiar fantasy game where the story revolves around a kingdom under the control of an evil sorcerer. In order to save the kingdom, an ancient artifact known as the Trine must be obtained in order to release the evil sorcerer’s control. At your disposal is a thief (Zoya), a knight (Pontius) and a wizard (Amadeus). These are the main characters of the game and are available to utilize throughout. Each character can obtain special skills (up to a total of 3) by defeating enemies and amassing experience points. This in turn allows you to level up your skills. There are also a number of treasure chests hidden in every level that contains various items which become very useful perks for each of the characters.

As a platformer, Trine introduces interesting elements of gameplay. Every level in the game requires the abilities of all three characters to advance through them and results in an experience that is varied and balanced. Each character possesses unique attributes and skills that help you progress through each of the levels by overcoming a variety of obstacles and enemies. For example, Zoya can launch a rope with a hook to pull herself up elevated platforms or swing from them. Pontius' strength is his weapons and attacks that are quite efficient in disposing of enemies. Amadeus the wizard can use magic to elevate or move objects as well as create planks and cubes that become vital when trying move to areas of difficult reach.

The visuals in Trine are vibrant. The entire game is rich in colour with a vast amount of palettes used. The game’s environments resemble works of art with detailed landscapes and backgrounds. Creative production in this game is surely top notch. The game’s graphics are equally impressive. The team at Frozenbyte has done a wonderful job by integrating the right mix and elements of 3D graphics into a side scrolling game. Sound production is also on par with the visuals. All of the voice acting is executed convincingly and in a manner you’d expect from a good fantasy game. A solid musical score adds the right finishing touches to the audio. The controls are what you’d expect from a typical PC game. You use the ‘w, a, s, d’ keys on the keyboard to move and the mouse to aim and attack as well as switch weapons by using the scrolling wheel. As mentioned before, I’m not an avid PC gamer and having to use a keyboard to control the character’s movement wasn’t the best experience for me. As an added touch, an available co-op mode let’s you play with two other players to each take control of the game’s three characters in a collaborative effort. This adds an additional layer of variety in that there is the opportunity to simultaneously combine the unique skills of each character for a greater advantage against enemies and to overcome obstacles.

Among all that is good with Trine, there are a few items that really had me scratching my head. For one, the game’s overall difficulty is practically nonexistent. There are 15 levels in the game and I found myself easily progressing through the majority of them. In fact, it wasn’t until the final level that I actually felt I was presented with any kind of challenge. Another disappoint for me was the absence of boss battles. I think I played through about 4 levels before I realized this and it was such a letdown. For me, having a platformer without any boss battles feels lacking in substance to a certain degree.

Trine is for the most part, a fine example of what a good platformer should be. Strong gameplay and great level design coupled with great visuals and audio. On the flipside, it does not provide enough of a challenge to keep one completely interested and can be played from beginning to end in a handful of hours...which is a good thing I suppose. For a game that costs $29.99 through Steam, I expected a bit more.

Pros:
- Great visuals and audio
- Solid gameplay with variety in character options and abilities
- Reasonably priced

Cons:
- Game is way too easy
- NO BOSS BATTLES...what gives?

NextGen Player gives Trine a...




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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Watch a Canadian Unbox a New 120GB PS3

By Paul Hunter

On Thursday I was speaking to N4G member ptrek85 and he mentioned to me that one of his Canadian friends posted a sequence of photographs of the unboxing of the brand new, streamlined 120GB PS3 console that he picked up at Future Shop.

In case you haven't been to a retail shop lately, the new PS3's have been spotted on most store shelves across the country as of August 26.

So, what's included in the package? Let's find out:


Box:

Inside the top flap:

Contents:

Contents out of package:

Top comparison:

Front comparison:

Side comparison:

Source: LEAK|ME'S PS3 SLIM UNBOXING

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Fan Expo: The Cosplayers of Day Two (set 2)

By Paul Hunter

Here's set 2 of the cosplayers I met on my second day of the Fan Expo:















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Fan Expo: The Cosplayers of Day Two (set 1)

By Paul Hunter

Here are 16 reasons why my second day at the Fan Expo was a memorable one:


















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Friday, August 28, 2009

Fan Expo: He's Just a Honky Tonk Man

By Paul Hunter

Right as I was leaving the Fan Expo tonight out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a cosplayer dressed as the Honky Tonk Man.

When I turned around and got a better look...this happened:


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Fan Expo: The Cosplayers of Day One

By Paul Hunter

Well, day one of the Fan Expo 2009 is officially over!

Here are some photos of the cosplayers I met tonight:















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