Jan 31, 2010

GTA IV DLC Announced For PS3

By Andrew Shin

Talk about acronyms...that's right PS3 owners. Finally you'll be able to get your hands on the GTA IV DLCs that, until now were exclusively available on the Xbox 360. This coming March 30th, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City will be released as a blu-ray disc containing both The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony episodes. They will also be available for download on the PlayStation Network.

The retail price for the blu-ray disc is $39.99 while on the PSN, each episode will cost $19.99.

So if you own a PS3 version of GTA IV that's been collecting dust (unless you traded it in a while back because you just couldn't wait for the DLCs to come your way), then get that duster out and get ready for the end of March.

Dear Gabby: Singstar Diva Still Looking For Her Effeminate Cyborg Ninja

By Paul Hunter

DEAR GABBY: I'm a young, 20-something hardcore gamer girl with a hardcore dilemma. Recently I made a decision to exit a four-year relationship with a guy I once considered to be my co-operative multiplayer partner for life. He was everything I ever wanted in a gamer husband; he knew where to find all the sex minigames in God of War, he knew all the right moves to set-up a Tetris, and goddamn he could play a mean Ocarina.

The thing is though, whenever we played Singstar it was a total embarrassment. Not only did he constantly rank as Tone Deaf, but he insisted on increasing his mic sensitivity until the gauge was completely full. As a result, his hoarse manly voice was so much louder than mine, and I constantly lost points because I couldn't hear my own pitch. Call me picky, but I want a man with a soft, effeminate voice, like Raiden, who's willing to sing a duet of Love Shack and achieve at least Wannabe rank. So, I backed-up my PS3 save files and left him.

I wanted to believe so bad that the grass was greener on the other side, but my new guy is much worse. He claims that Rock Band is "superior" and "more dope" than Singstar because up to four players can play simultaneously. Doesn't he realize that a couple means two!? I kind of wish I had my old man back, despite his flaws. Do you think I should give up my dreams of ever finding an effeminate cyborg ninja? -- SINGSTAR DIVA IN DISTRESS

DEAR SINGSTAR DIVA IN DISTRESS: I'm 56-years old and have never been in a relationship so I cannot empathize or relate to your situation. The closest I've ever been to being on a "date" is when a nurse treated my concussion in a private hospital room after Bald Bull won the Minor Circuit title and gave me a celebratory Bull Charge in the locker room. While I can't say if you'll ever meet your ninja, if you're ever interested in a pathetic French boxer named Glass Joe, I can make the introduction. What he lacks in defense he makes up with a heart of gold; and I hear if he makes you really mad one super punch and he's out like a light for the rest of the night. Yaaay!

If you have a question about love, life or video games for DEAR GABBY, write us at comments@nextgenplayer.com.

Canadian Game Devs Have Sizable Representation on IO's Board

By Paul Hunter

Ontario's not-for-profit trade organization representing the electronic entertainment industry, Interactive Ontario, have announced their re-elected and returning Board of Directors for the coming year. The voting for the elected directors occurred on January 26th at the Interactive Ontario Annual General Meeting of Members.

The Ontario-based video game companies that hold representation on IO's BoD include the following re-elected members:

Trevor Fencott. Managing Partner & CEO, Bedlam Games (pictured above)
Mike Mays, VP Finance, Silicon Knights

And the following returning members:

Michael Schmalz, CFO, Digital Extremes
Scott Simpson, CEO, bitHeads / Headgames / playbrains
Vikas Gupta, CEO & President, TransGaming Technologies

While IO represents more than just the games industry, it's great to see such a strong presence from game developers and game technology providers on the board. With Ubisoft opening a new development studio in the west-end of Toronto shortly, I wonder if the publisher will eventually desire a seat on the IO board?

Jan 30, 2010

Pure Pwnage Production Shorts Are Now Region Free

By Paul Hunter

The Pure Pwnage team have announced on their blog that their weekly TV series production shorts have now become accessible to fans all around the world. Previously, due to Canadian regulatory restrictions, the production shorts were only available to Canadian viewers.

Pure Pwnage, which was picked up by Showcase in August 2009, will be appearing on Canadian airwaves starting in March 2010.

To celebrate the abolition of that nasty Canadian geo blocking, hit the jump for episodes 3 & 4:

Production Blog Episode 3



Production Blog Episode 4

Jan 29, 2010

Blogamoke - Tonight!

By Paul Hunter

The NextGen Player team is getting set to invade Toronto's Fox and Fiddle pub for the first ever Blogamoke -- an event that begs to ask the question of what you get when hardcore gamers, blogs and karaoke frolic together.

One thing is certain, if you're a gamer in the GTA you don't want to miss this chance to come out, belt some tunes, and meet many of the fabulous bloggers that provide us with great Canadian gaming content. The pub is located at 280 Bloor Street West and we'll be kicking off the festivities at 9:30pm.

Blogs/websites with members in attendance will include NextGen Player (that's us!), CoupleOfGamers.com, Ve3tro.com, TorontoThumbs.com, Dorkshelf.com, Dose.ca, OnlyTheGames.com, JennCutter.com, and House of Juda.

It's guaranteed to be a jam-packed house so come early to reserve a good seat!

For more information on the event, check out our open Facebook event page. If you want to join in the conversation on Twitter search for the hashtag #Blogamoke.

VFS Game Design Expo Picks Its Dates

By Paul Hunter

Last year on NextGen Player we wrote extensively about the Vancouver Film School's Game Design Expo, put on by the school's one-year game design program.

This year's expo dates have set for April 10-11, 2010 and the event will once again be held in Vancouver, B.C.

Over on the Future Shop Tech Blog I wrote about what we can expect at this year's VFS Game Design Expo. From the article:

"The Game Design Expo 2010 will bring together game industry professionals, aspiring game designers, and game enthusiasts for two days of guest lectures and special panels. Expect to see plenty of the gaming industry's top designers, producers, animators, and CEOs in attendance discussing the hottest topics in games today.

In conjunction with the Game Design Expo 2010, the weekend also includes a free, public Open House for VFS's Game Design program and recruitment opportunities."

Click here to read the rest of my thoughts on the 2010 VFS Game Design Expo.

Jan 26, 2010

Hand Eye Society Social - Feb 11th

By Andrew Shin

EDIT: This event is happening on Thursday, February 11th - not the 4th as originally announced. The Hand Eye Society apologizes for the confusion.

As a member of the Hand Eye Society here in Toronto, it's always a pleasure for NextGen Player to share any news and upcoming events in efforts to help spread the word. As such, the Hand Eye Society is having its first social event of 2010 on Thursday, February 11th at the Unit Bar located at 1198 Queen St. West in downtown Toronto. Doors will open at 7pm.

This event will feature some insightful presentations from a couple of industry professionals located here in Toronto. Additionally, the host for the evening will be Nathan Vella from Toronto based indie game studio Capy.

So if your schedule is free that evening, I would recommend checking out this event as it will be a great opportunity to meet and chat with some of Toronto's brightest gaming minds and professionals.

For more details, check out the Hand Eye Society website.

Jan 23, 2010

Imaginary Brains Splatter in Pure Pwnage Production Blog: Episode 2

By Paul Hunter

The hilarity that is the Pure Pwnage production blog continued last week with another episode featuring our animated and uncouth gamer friends Jeremy and Doug.

In this episode, the two budding actors meet up with acting instructor Richard Leek to undergo his 'weekend workshop intensive'. Enjoy:



My favourite line:

"Richard: Let me give you an example, you're playing a video game, you kill a guy. How does that make you feel?

Doug: Vvvvvvrooom, booooom!!! HAAHAAAAA, li-ka, like that!"

Canada Leads North American Game Industry Employment in 2009

By Paul Hunter

Another interesting piece of news that surfaced last month was a census report from Game Developer Research that described Canada's video game industry employment growth as almost "explosive".

According to the census results, employment in the Canadian video game industry rose from 9,500 Canadian employees in 2008 to 12,480 in 2009. That's just under 30% growth in a single year.

Total employment across North America was essentially flat year-over-year, rising slightly from 44,400 to 44,806.

I wrote an in-depth look at the census findings over on the Future Shop Tech Blog if you're interested in learning more facts about the red-hot Canadian game industry.

Nintendo: Two Million Wiis Sold In Canada

By Paul Hunter

One interesting piece of sales data the emerged last month came from Nintendo of Canada which announced that more than two million Wiis have been purchased by Canadians since the console's launch in November 2006.

The Wii was the first console to sell-through one million units in Canada back in July, 2008, and it's also the first to reach the two million mark. Wii joins the Nintendo DS, which has also surpassed the two million units sold in Canada.

According to independent sales tracking from the NPD Group and Chart Track the Nintendo Wii is the fastest selling console in history. The Wii has sold over 56 million units worldwide since September, 2009, and easily surpassed the 60 million mark by the end of last year.

Funny, I remember a time when everyone thought the Wii was doomed.

Jan 22, 2010

Hey Toronto, Who's Game For Some Blogamoke!

By Paul Hunter

Hello all you NextGen Players out there! Need a good excuse to celebrate and have a good time? Boy do we have a treat for you.

On Friday, January 29 the NextGen Player team is heading downtown T.O. for a night of karaoke and camaraderie with fellow gaming bloggers Lori Dance from CoupleOfGamers.com and Dillon Andrews from vE3tro.com.

We're sending out an open invitation to come join us at the Fox and Fiddle at 280 Bloor Street West in Toronto for our first-ever Blogamoke. This is your chance to get out, meet some cool gaming bloggers and have the most fun you can possibly squeeze into a Friday night.

Not sure what we look like? Check out our "About" page or even easier, just look for the crowd of geek chics playing on their Nintendo DS's in the bar.

There's an open Facebook event page if you want to RSVP, or if you want to play it covert, just show up the night of.

As an extra incentive to come out, you'll have a chance to see Shaun Hatton from Toronto Thumbs sing his personalized rendition of "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress". You wouldn't want miss seeing that now would you?

Jan 21, 2010

Dear Gabby: DoA Addict Can't Get His Jiggy On

By Paul Hunter

DEAR GABBY: I have always considered myself to be a caring and generous man. Kind of like a circus clown, only I don't wear make-up and I'm sort of ambivalent towards children. Whenever I'm not playing video games, I go to extra lengths to make sure that those close to me know that they are loved and will always have a special place in my guild. As an example of my generosity, last year I made one of my close friends a Companion Cube after her husband left to be with his "soulmate" he met in a Second Life hostel.

But here's the thing, last year I got turkey dropped and now I've found myself in my late-20's, living on my own in a new apartment and I can't even afford to continue my WoW subscription. Worst of all, I don't even have my own Companion Cube to keep me company. I need a gamer girl who can handle my addiction to Dead or Alive and not feel jealous, or ever better, can match my karate skills using Hitomi. What's a gamer guy like me supposed to do? -- COMPANION CLUELESS IN TO

DEAR COMPANION CLUELESS IN TO: If there is anyone who knows what it's like to get the short end of the stick, it's certainly me. After over 30 years of boxing my only victory comes from Glass Joe, but even that was a fluke because I tripped over my shoelaces and accidentally elbowed him in his trademark "glass jaw". Anyway, my advice to you is to pick up a Nintendo DS and stop playing video games inside. Go to Starbucks, grab a latte and play a few rounds of Mario Kart or Elite Beat Agents. Women can't resist public display of gaming, especially if your device is PictoChat enabled. Yaaay!

If you have a question about love, life or video games for DEAR GABBY, write us at comments@nextgenplayer.com

Jan 19, 2010

BioShock 2 Offer On Steam

By Andrew Shin

Yesterday, I listed BioShock 2 as my number 3 most anticipated February game release. Well, to provide even more reasons to pick up this game (as if any more were needed) Steam is currently offering a pretty good pre-order deal. Pre-order now and you'll receive 10% off the purchase of the game AND a free copy of the original BioShock game. If you already own the original game, then you can send the free copy to a friend using Steam's Gift feature.

Alternatively, if you have a group of friends looking to purchase BioShock 2, Steam is also offering a 4 pack for 10% off and with 4 free copies of BioShock.

For more details check out www.steamgames.com.


Jan 18, 2010

Let The Games Begin

By Andrew Shin

February. That's certainly going to be a big month in 2010 as the Winter Olympics will take place here in our great nation of Canada (specifically in Vancouver, B.C. - big shout out to my good buddy Sam in VanCity). While the onset of the Olympics is exciting, us gamers are looking beyond the winter games and taking further interest this coming February in the form of video games.

That's because February marks the time for some very highly anticipated video game releases. A few of these titles may likely end up being strong contenders for video game of the year.

Here's a look at my top 5 picks for the upcoming February games.

Number 5: Lost Planet 2 (Xbox 360, PS3)
Release Date: Feb. 3rd



The original game was a solid 3rd person shooter that took place mostly in snowy environments. There were alot of fantastic looking aliens to shoot at and that in itself was fun. Part deux promises to turn it up a notch with a variety of different environments, new enemies (not just aliens), new equipment/gear and most impressively - an option for 4 player co-op. The co-op feature alone makes this game so appealing...let's just hope Capcom delivers.

Number 4: Dante's Inferno (Xbox 360, PS3)
Release Date: Feb. 9th



This is one game that I've been very much looking forward to since its announcement. Developed by EA's Visceral Games studio - the same folks that brought us Dead Space - Dante's Inferno is a 3rd person action adventure game that incorporates some solid looking gameplay and captivating visuals. It also seems to borrow elements from the God of War games, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Oh, on top of that you deal Death some of his own medicine and then take control of his mighty scythe. If Dante's destructive path through Hell is close to being as good as what Dead Space had to offer, then you have yourself one very promising game.

Number 3: BioShock 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Release Date: Feb. 9th



BioShock 2 promises the same rich visuals, solid gameplay and an engaging, yet disturbing storyline. By the way, you...get...to...play...as...a...big...daddy. Enough Said.

Number 2: Splinter Cell: Conviction (Xbox 360)
Release Date: Feb. 23rd



Yet another game that I've personally been looking forward to. In fact, you can say my patience for this game's release has almost reached its peak. Conviction brings us a darker and more ruthless Sam Fisher on the hunt for those responsible for his daughter's death. Armed with a new array of moves, gameplay mechanics and co-op campaign (prologue to Sam's single player storyline), Splinter Cell: Conviction could quite possibly be the best in the series.

Number 1: Heavy Rain (PS3)
Release Date: Feb. 17th



If there's one PS3 exclusive to get excited about this year (aside from God of War III), it's likely Heavy Rain. Developed by Quantic Dreams, the team responsible for Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain is a game like no other in that the core of the game is the story and how it unfolds based on what actions or decisions you make as you progress. I actually had the opportunity to fiddle with a playable demo of the game this past December and it feels very much like an interactive cinematic experience. It's very different and unique from anything I've played before and that alone has me highly anticipating this game's release.

So there are my 5 picks for must have games this February. If the Winter Olympics doesn't do it for ya, then I'm sure one or more of these games will.

Let the games begin.

Jan 17, 2010

Pure Pwnage Releasing Weekly Production Blog Shorts

By Paul Hunter

The Canadian web-distributed mockumentary series Pure Pwnage, which is about to make the leap to TV on Showcase, have begun releasing weekly production blog shorts to build anticipation for its small screen debut in March.

New episodes, which will run between 2-5 minutes in lengths, are being released every Monday until March 8, 2010. There will be 10 production shorts in total.

The bad news? The videos are only accessible from Canadian IPs because of regulatory restrictions. If you're visiting from outside of Canada, sorry but you're out of luck, at least for now.

Hit the jump to take a look at the first production blog short which was made available on January 4, 2010.



My favourite line? "What kinda consoles are we usin'?"

Cool side note: The video features Graham Stark, the Co-Creator of LoadingReadyRun, one of Canada's funniest video game comedy troupes.

Jan 15, 2010

Canadians Going Hog Wild Over FarmVille

By Paul Hunter

Canadians sure do love their Facebook, and apparently they also like their Facebook gaming.

The social network's most popular casual game, FarmVille, boasts more than 73.8 million daily users worldwide. Canada ranks sixth in the world in terms of number of registered FarmVille users. The world leader is the United States, followed by Turkey, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and Italy.

To put the popularity in perspective, FarmVille has more users than PSN (38 million) and Xbox Live (20 million) have combined. Pretty impressive for a game not even seven months old.

Facebook has 350 million users, meaning more than 20% of everyone who uses the social networking site is also a member of FarmVille. To me, that just seems astounding. Who knew harvesting virtual eggplants would be so popular?

Source: The Canadian Press

Jan 11, 2010

NextGen Player Review: The Saboteur

By Andrew Shin

When you hear about games set in the WWII Nazi era, you likely think of FPS franchises such as Call of Duty or Brothers in Arms. At the same time, it’s quite likely that you’re also tired of WWII related games and could do without another one for a good while. So what better time for EA and Pandemic to release their recent WWII based title called The Saboteur.

There is a difference though. The Saboteur is a unique and refreshing WWII based game. The best way to describe this game is to think of a mix between GTA IV, Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell. There are elements of these aforementioned games that exist in The Saboteur and for the most part work well together to provide quite an entertaining experience. You play as Sean Devlin, a hardnosed and mouthy Irishman who’s been living in Paris for some time. Life for Sean moves along peacefully until a run in with the Nazis turns tragic for a close family friend. To add to this, the Nazis begin their invasion of France and take occupation of Paris. It’s here that Sean, with the help of some friends and Resistance rebels fight back against the Nazi occupation in an attempt to free and reclaim Paris from their oppressors.

The immediate thing you notice about this game are the visuals. The game begins primarily in a film noir tone where mostly everything is in shades of black and white. To give the game artistic flare, there are some colour accents thrown in and as a result, provides a very effective contrast to the game’s palette. Beyond form, this colour scheme does serve a functional purpose in that it denotes Paris’ oppressed attitude towards Nazi occupation. As you progress through the game and take back more of Paris from the Nazi regime, these areas will switch from black and white to complete colour. This colour transformation means that the residents in these areas are more resistant to the Gestapo and will provide you with more support in your battle.

Game controls and mechanics are quite solid. Controls are straight forward, easy to learn and they respond well during gameplay. Climbing and sneaking are key elements for gameplay and are necessary to effectively progress through the game. For the most part, the climbing and sneaking mechanics are good, but at the same time they’re not without faults. Climbing can feel uncoordinated and rigid at times while sneaking can be more of a challenge because the detection/alarm meter is not always consistent when attempting a sneak attack on an enemy.

There is a great variety of weapons and vehicles to be collected and made available at your disposal. Weapon and vehicle controls are tight and fairly easy to master. You can also collect contraband to be used for acquiring new weapons, upgrades and replenishing ammo. There are also key tasks to perform that will allow you to obtain perks. Perks will unlock special abilities or attributes for Sean that becomes very useful within the game.

All in all, The Saboteur is a solid and highly fun game that brings new flavour to the WWII genre. The game’s production is strong with great visuals, an entertaining soundtrack and competent voice acting – it’s especially rewarding to listen to Sean in all his Irish glory. In my opinion, this is game that will provide decent entertainment for a good handful of hours and is worth a spin around the ol' block.

PROS:
- Great visuals, music and voice acting
- Open world environment and interaction
- Fun gameplay and combat elements
- Climbing and sneaking mechanics

CONS:
- Climbing and sneaking mechanics can be tedious and challenging at times
- Minor camera issues

NextGen Player gives The Saboteur a...


Jan 5, 2010

NextGen Player Review: Dirt Rags

By Andrew Shin

For those of you who spend a fair amount of time gaming, you’re probably quite familiar with dirt build up on your controllers. Conversely, if you don’t game that much (I may ask why you even have a gaming console at all), then you’ll undoubtedly notice a thick film of dust build up on your controllers. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, there is a solution to your cleaning needs in the form of Dirt Rags Gaming Wipes. Manufactured by Game On (Cambre Products), Dirt Rags are “kid safe” wipes that can be used to clean your precious controllers as well as other electronic devices including iPods, cell phones, digital cameras and GPS devices.


What’s great about Dirt Rags is that they contain no toxic chemicals. There’s no alcohol, phenol or bleach. In fact, the actual ingredients as printed on the label are water, aloe vera, poly-l-valine, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate and tangerine extract. When you open up a package, you get one generously sized wipe – very similar looking to those hand wipes you get at bars along with your order of chicken wings. The wipe itself is sturdy and fairly thick with just enough moisture that when you use it, it’s not unnecessarily flooding your device when you clean it.

To put the Dirt Rag to the test, I decided to give one of my Xbox 360 controllers a good wipe down. The wipes work quite well and the cleaning agents contained within do a great job. This means that there’s no need to aggressively press down with the wipe against the surface of what you are cleaning. A harder test came when I got to my controller’s triggers. As you can see in the before and after picture, the wipe was quite effective in removing the dirt that had accumulated in the indented trigger letters. Once again, all it took was a few mildly pressured strokes and the dirt was gone.


I also used the same wipe and cleaned a few other devices such as my tv remote and Blackberry. As expected, it cleaned these very well. Currently Dirt Rags sell in either 8 pack or 25 pack sizes and sell for approx. $3.99 and $9.99 CAN respectively. The 25 pack obviously being the better deal as it works out to approx. $0.40 per wipe. A great value for a very good cleaning wipe for electronics. Based on its effectiveness, non-toxic properties and great value, I would recommend Dirt Rags to anyone looking for a good alternative to cleaning their game controllers and other electronic devices.

In terms of where to buy Dirt Rags, Game On’s website lists the following retailers in Canada: Future Shop, Walmart Canada, Canadian Tire, The Source, Dell Canada, Amazon.ca and Andre’s AudioTronic.

For more information on Dirt Rags, visit Game On’s website at www.iwantmygameon.com.

Barrie Teen Runs From Home To Meet WOW 'soulmate'

By Paul Hunter

Everyone needs a knight in shining armour, and for 42-year-old Lauri Price, a Texas mother of four, she believed to have found it in 16-year-old Andrew Kane from Barrie, Ontario. The two had met online playing World of Warcraft and conversed for at least a year before deciding to meet-up over the holidays. When Kane informed his parents of the upcoming get together they refused to let him go, he then assured them he would tell the woman he wasn't coming. Later that night his mother heard the front door open and found her son missing, along with a note revealing his motivations to leave.

The note described the "commitment" the two shared and that his parents' fears were "ill found".

Two days later the couple was found by local police at a retail store in Orillia after being tipped off by a member of the public. Kane had told Ms. Price he was 20 -- but with the age of consent in Canada being 16 -- police said she will not be facing criminal charges.

Barrie is also home to Brandon Crisp, the boy who ran away from home after a fight with his parents over his Xbox 360, and was later found dead.

I'm not sure what it is about the city, but it's quickly becoming the 'teen runaway over video games' capital of Canada, sadly.

Source: Globe and Mail