Let’s say someone’s just given you a jack-in-the-box. He then motions for you to crank the handle, so you give it a whirl. Round and round it goes until—boom—out comes a platter with the world’s most delicious cake on it. Awesome! Before long, you want more cake, so you crank the handle again—only this time, a fist rockets out and punches you right in your cakehole. You try again. Another fist. Again. Fist. But then, finally, cake.
That’s Alpha Protocol in a nutshell. More often than not, the game rewards your efforts with a frustrating menagerie of awful design choices and glitch-ridden combat. But every once in a while, everything comes together, and you get a tiny, shimmering glimpse of what it might feel like to actually be James Bond or Jason Bourne.
Starcraft is arguably the most popular game of all time, and certainly one of the most enduring. Will the sequel live up to the original? Blizzard certainly thinks so, which would explain why the developer has spent over $100 million on the project thus far, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
"There is no shortage of consumers for Starcraft," Activision Chief Executive Bobby Kotick said in an interview last month. "For a game that is more than 10 years old, there's millions of people still playing it.
Despite the big budget, Activision-Blizzard fully expects the Starcraft franchise to rake in up to ten times as much in profits. Kotick described Starcraft as one of the company's seven "pillars of opportunity" during an analyst meeting last month, and said that each pillar could deliver between $500 million and $1 billion of operating profit over its lifespan.
Interestingly, Starcraft II won't use a subscription model in the U.S., though the game will carry a monthly fee in other markets, such as Korea, WSJ reports.
Who says adventure gaming is dead? With a handful of exceptions, the adventure game genre might not be particularly lucrative anymore, nor will the Call of Duty crowd ever understand what all the fuss was about. But for those of us constantly looking over our heads for three-headed monkeys (or "look south" for you Zork-anites), we're pleased as punch to see fellow fans keep the genre alive.
Such is the case with Phoenix Online Studios, a collection of fan developers who at one point received a cease and desist letter from Activision for their work on a fan-made sequel to King's Quest called The Silver Lining. After extensive discussions and a recognition of "the overwhelming community support," Activision eventually caved and allowed the project to go on.
Eight years in the making, the first chapter in The Silver Lining is finally available for download, and not only is it free, but it gets the nod from Roberta Williams, the famed game designer responsible for the original King's Quest series.
"Now, there is a chance that many can truly find out what happens to the royal family of the Kingdom of Daventry," Williams is quoted as saying on The Silver Lining's site. "This game is very true to the original series and features many of the storylines and characters, especially of King's Quest VI. I found it beautiful and fun to play. I, too, like many other fans, would like to see how this story unfolds!
Robert, like the rest of us, will be able to do that through five episodes, the first of which is available now.
You can add short attention spans to the list of ailments that affect frequent gamers, suggests a new study published in the July issue of Pediatrics, Television, and Video Game Exposure and the Development of Attention Problems.
The study, which was conducted by Edward Swing and his team of researchers at Iowa State University, examined two different age groups, including middle schoolers (third to fifth graders) and 2010 college students. They wanted to see if there was any danger in exceeding the 2-hour max limit for TV viewing and videogame playing as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Those who exceeded the AAP recommendation were about 1.6 times to 2.2 times more likely to have greater than average attention problems," the study concludes.
This isn't the first study to link screen time with short attention spans.
"There may well be a relation between television viewing and attention problems," said Dr. David Elkind, professor emeritus of child development at Tufts University.
There is little I enjoy more than coming to Maximum PC each week to dish out a new dose of freeware and open-source software for all to enjoy. But, I confess, it's been tough times as of late-I feel as if I've covered every inch of the ol' PC ad nauseum and, as such, am running low on witty or interesting themes with which to structure these freeware roundups.
But before I would work myself into a tizzy over my failure to compartmentalize this week's apps, I remembered something: You, the readers, are awesome. So much so, that you've actually gone and done a great job of coming up with some awesome applications all by yourselves. From games, to apps to utilities, you've left few stones unturned in your various replies to my weekly freeware roundups.
And, thus, I am writing this week's freeware roundup in your honor. Not only am I profiling some of the awesome programs you've recommended, but I'm profiling the recommenders as well! And by that I mean that you, too, could be enshrined in the hallowed halls of the weekly freeware roundup-just keep leaving program tips in the comments!
Boutique system builder iBuyPower on Thursday announced a interesting piece of proprietary software called "MAGIC," or "Multi-touch Advanced Gaming Interface and Control." The software was developed in-house, and according to iBuyPower, it allows users to play any game under the sun with multi-touch controls.
"Mutli-touch is one of the fastest growing PC gaming interfaces," said Darren Su, Executive Vice President of iBuyPower. "Our motivation behind creating the Multi-touch Advanced Gaming Interface and Control -- MAGIC -- is to instantly expand compatibility of multi-touch interfaces to nearly every application you can imagine."
So how does MAGIC work its, er, magic? As iBuyPower explains, MAGIC links multi-touch gestures to pre-existing in-game commands, and is really a fancy way of emulating commands by mapping mouse clicks or keystrokes. MAGIC supports the use of profiles, as well as Tap, Pan (Drag), Rotate, and 2 Finger Tap actions.
Ready for the best part? iBuyPower is giving MAGIC away as a free download.
Somewhat ironically for a game titled Conviction, rendering a verdict on superspy Sam Fisher’s latest skulking, sneaking, neck-snapping adventure is actually pretty difficult. Here’s the problem: There are two ways to judge Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction—as a longtime series fan, or as someone who thinks a Splinter Cell is something that needs to be examined by a doctor before it becomes infected. The good/bad news, depending on which camp you fall into: Conviction is fast-paced, action-packed, and prone to bouts of random, violent explosion. Sorry, longtime fans.
Assassin’s Creed II, like its predecessor, is an ambitious third-person action adventure game with a clever conceit: You’re a modern-day bartender reliving your assassin ancestors’ adventures. But where the first game fell short—in repetitive, sometimes-monotonous gameplay—the sequel soars. It’s not revolutionary by any means, but it’s one hell of a fun ride.
This time around, you primarily play as goofy-charmer-turned-hooded-murder-machine Ezio Auditore. He’s got personality in spades, but that has its drawbacks—the first few hours of the game devoted to Ezio’s character development come at the expense of any truly exciting or pulse-pounding moments. Folks who want to leap straight into the face-stabbing will have to stow their bloodlust for a bit.
Apps, apps, apps. All we talk about is apps, it seems. Week and week out, I try to throw out a list of five different applications--usually themed around some particular scenario--that give you untold access to your system in new and exciting ways. Well, mostly exciting. Let's face it. Sometimes, an app is just an app. It's a useful, free utility, but nothing to throw a party or write home about.
So, that in mind, how about some games?
There's nothing more fun--and more detrimental to one's professional life--than sinking hours after countless hours of playtime into a persistent digital world. That's right, I'm talking about MMOs. The problem, however, is that there are simply too many free MMOs to choose from. If you're intending on spending a significant amount of your personal life in some digital dungeon or what-have-you, you don't want to do it for a crappy game that nobody is playing. You want an awesome game.
I have taken it upon myself to find five free MMOs with such a characteristic--awesome--and am happy to announce the results of my findings below. I wish you the best as you go forth in the grand tradition of surrendering your social life to slay digital... well, everything. Digital everythings. Right.
We liked Metro 2033. We really did. But we wanted to love it. Its dusty, downtrodden, nuked-to-oblivion vision of a post-apocalyptic future is a thing of perverse beauty. At once terrifying and unsettlingly believable, it threatened to suck us in like no game before it. “Half-Life 2, who?” we asked ourselves frequently during the game’s opening moments—that is, when we weren’t left completely breathless.
Then the game made the mistake of putting a gun in our hands.
At best, Metro’s shooting is serviceable. The weapons—while compulsively upgradeable—are crafted in such a way as to be realistic, which in this case means “boring.” That would be fine and dandy if the other two pillars of first-person-shooter fun—level design and enemy AI—did enough heavy lifting to make up for it. Sadly, they don’t.