F.E.A.R. was, without a doubt, one of 2005's best first-person shooters -- deftly mixing balls-to-the-wall, head-exploding action with pee-your-pants level horror. Even better, its sequel, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, is poised to top its award-winning older brother in every conceivable way. We were lucky enough to engage in a quick email exchange with Craig Hubbard, F.E.A.R. 2's Principal Game Designer, and we're posting it here for you today.
MPC: Is this the end of the F.E.A.R. story? Are we going for a trilogy?
Craig Hubbard, Principal Game Designer: As you’d probably expect, our immediate focus is getting the game done. Beyond that, who can say?
MPC: Was the story arc planned from the beginning, or has it evolved as it’s moved along?
CH: It evolved quite a bit, but that’s normal. What works on paper doesn’t always pan out when you implement it, so you have to make adjustments and do what’s right for the game. We also decided to take out the subplot about the unicorn who lost its horn. It was very emotionally resonant, but didn’t really fit the tone.
MPC: What’s the biggest problem you had with the original F.E.A.R.? How do you aim to correct it in the sequel?
CH: The biggest complaint people had with F.E.A.R. was that the environments were repetitive and bland. The sequel has much more varied and interesting settings.
MPC: Are you developing the game simultaneously for consoles and PC? What’s the game’s lead platform?
CH: The team knew how to make PC games but hadn’t done a console title before, so it was easier to ensure that decisions made for the consoles would work on the PC rather than the other way around. When the project started, we didn’t have our tech up and running on PS3 yet, so Xbox 360 ended up being the lead platform by default but we are still developing for all three platforms at the same time.
Continue reading for Hubbard's opinions on DRM, game engines, AI, and the British Empire.
Looking for something to do over the holiday break or need an excuse to duck away from the in laws to regain your sanity? Crytek's got your back. The developer announced it is serving up the multiplayer shooter Crysis Wars free-to-play for 10 days, starting tomorrow at 11:00 AM PT and good through December 28th until 11:59 PM PT. You can snag your holiday trial at MyCrysis.com, which the developer says includes the latest version of the game with brand new maps Savanna and Frost. You'll need to register to receive a unique key.
Also just released is a new patch for Crysis Wars, which comes less than a month after patch 1.2 was released.. Patch 1.3 includes the Holiday Map Pack (two above mentioned maps), and fixes the loading of custom assets in downloaded maps.
It looks as though Nvidia will finally find its way into netbooks, and without using any strong arm tactics. The graphics chip maker announced plans to pair its GeForce 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor in a new netbook dubbed Ion.
Nvidia's 9400M GPU is the same one Apple chose to use in its refreshed MacBook line. From a performance standpoint, Nvidia says its 9400M offers 5x faster graphics and 10x faster video transcoding than a typical Atom-powered netbook, and is capable of playing full-spec 1080p high definition video. Nvidia also claims you'll be able to play popular games on the Ion platform, such as Call of Duty 4.
"NVIDIA's Ion Platform transforms Atom-based PCs into capable mainstream gaming platforms," said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. "Epic is excited about the growth potential offered by these new affordable premium PCs."
In addition to gaming and high definition content, Ion will be capable of handling Vista's full user interface, as well as Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7.
Look for the new graphically supercharged netbooks to appear midway through 2009 "within $50" of standard netbook pricing, Gizmodo reports.
Prince of Persia may have missed its left turn at Albuquerque en route to the PC, but that doesn’t lessen its value as a game. Inability to die and ample backtracking, though? Those might give you second thoughts about leaving your wallet unguarded around the game’s princely thief. Luckily, Maximum PC has you covered. Prince of Persia, lose the jewel case; we’re getting all up in your space.
1. DRM-free is the way to be – Once bitten, twice shy. PC gamers can’t stop ragging on EA for its use of “draconian” DRM (Will Wright’s next game won’t be out for a few years, guys! You’re getting a little excessive), but Ubisoft is attempting to nip that mistake in the bud with its announcement that Prince of Persia: Mandatory DRM Edition won’t ever see the light of day. Kudos, guys! Now please don’t use this one gift as a measuring stick for the overall effectiveness of DRM. After all, we’re talking a single drop in a bucket big enough to build a wicked-awesome sand castle. Plus, no one likes an Indian-giver.
2. Death and taxes – In Prince of Persia, you can’t die. Ever. See, as it turns out, one only needs a magical princess in order to attain immortality. (Yeah, suddenly Mario’s never-ending quest doesn’t seem so selfless.) Miss a jump? Princess Elika’s dainty, yet freakishly durable hand lashes out and saves the prince from actually discovering what’s at the bottom of one of those bottomless pits (Hint: Grues). Same goes for your totally bitchin’ triple back-flip sword-cannon ball that looked way more like you getting stabbed in the face. Really though, the prince’s person-shaped bottle of death-repellent doesn’t turn the game into an overly easy snoozefest. Since the princess’ bulging forearm tosses you back to your last checkpoint, “death” still happens. However, you’re not forced to sit through a loading screen or anything like that. Quick and simple. But…
Everyone has a short list of "classic" games that are fun to fire up every now and then. It doesn't matter how old they are, nor how many times you've successfully beaten these A-list titles. These awesome games will always hold a special place in your heart no matter what. That's the enduring legacy of their appeal.
That's why we love remakes -- fresh new takes on classic games or traditional gaming motifs that can be better than the original titles we're used to playing. Bundle in our zealous enjoyment of anything free or open-source, and you've got a recipe for awesome on your hands. We like awesome, which is why we're profiling five freeware gaming remakes in this week's feature roundup. Check out these titles, as they're examples of some of the best, remade gaming environments that the freeware/open-source community has to offer!
Tired of getting a “Don’t call us; we’ll call our lawyers” from potential employers? Well, maybe listing your spec and number of epics under “Previous Experience” wasn’t such a great idea.* Apparently, job recruiters are looking for cogs who can give the money machine their all – and sleepless nights spent over at Arthas’ place just won’t cut it anymore.
“[A job recruiter in the “online media industry”] replied that employers specifically instruct him not to send them World of Warcraft players. He said there is a belief that WoW players cannot give 100% because their focus is elsewhere, their sleeping patterns are often not great, etc,” noted a member of the f13.net forums (via Shacknews).
“I mentioned that some people have written about MMOG leadership experience as a career positive or a way to learn project management skills, and he shook his head. He has been specifically asked to avoid WoW players.”
Think such an isolated example is meaningless? Read the rest of the forum thread.
Is this anti-MMO stance hypocritical? Definitely. But unfortunately, “For the Horde” Fridays probably won’t be an office standard until a more youthful, game-reared generation rules the workplace, so we might as well get used to it.
So yeah. If you could go ahead and not renew your WoW subscription before going on another job hunt, that’d be great.
*Those go under “Special Talents,” duh. What are you? An idiot?
Citing those always un-named sources (this time at graphics card makers), DigiTimes reports Nvidia will launch its next generation GT 300 GPU, a high end gaming chip, in the first quarter of 2009. The new part will be manufactured on a 55nm process, just as the company is also planning a 55nm refresh of its GTX 260 videocard.
DigiTimes also says Nvidia will show off a pair of new GT 200 videocards at CES next month. First on tap will be the GTX 295, which will consist of two 55nm GT 200 GPUs. The graphics card maker also plans to show its GTX 285, which will ship with a single GT 200 GPU. Core frequencies for both cards are expected to run 10 to 15 percent faster than existing Nvidia videocards, while also consuming 10 to 15 percent less power.
Less than a week ago, Fudzilla claimed it managed to confirm rumors that XFX would defect from Nvidia as an exclusive partner, but until now, no official confirmation existed. That's no longer the case, as AMD announces XFX is joining the fray of AMD add-in board partners.
"In the world of PC gaming, XFX is synonymous with the extreme performance that enthusiasts crave,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “Their decision to partner with AMD and launch AMD GPU-based XFX graphics cards, including the ATI Radeon™ HD 4870 X2, widely regarded as the world’s fastest graphics card by technology enthusiasts around the world, speaks to the level of excellence achieved by the ATI Radeon HD 4000 series."
Michael Chiu, Chairman and CEO of Pine Technologies Holdings, makers of XFX graphics cards said it wasn't just AMD's ability to catch up on the gaming front that led to its decision to branch out; XFX also took a keen interest in AMD's multimedia performance.
According to AMD, XFX will kick off its new partnership starting with the Radeon HD 4000 series GPUs sometime in early 2009.
So Spore didn’t change the way we looked at games forever, but that doesn’t mean the next link in Will Wright’s evolutionary chain will pop out of the primordial ooze half-baked. Especially not if Wright’s right, and his next project spends the next three years getting dolled-up for its big day.
"I'm working on a big new project that I'm very excited about, but I don't want to talk about it yet because if it takes three years to come out I don't want people saying 'Wow, he's been talking about that for a loooong time,'" Wright told Joystiq at Spike TV’s Videogame Award show.
So then, for those soured by Spore, what will it take to earn back your goodwill? A new SimCity? Something totally un-Sim-like? A game that isn’t hyped to the point that -- even if it were quantifiably better than sex -- it’d be considered a disappointment?
Narrowly power-walking past Duke Nukem Forever in the Vaporware Race to The Starting Line, it seems Phantom is actually doing something. Oh, Phantom? No, we don’t blame you for 404-ing that one. See, originally, the Phantom was planned as a PC-console marriage of sorts – download PC games to a sci-fi pizza box connected to your television and let the good times roll.
But in the end, Phantom was quite an apt name.
Now, one four-year-long facepalm later, here we are, and Phantom Entertainment is hanging a gaudy “Grand Opening” sign on the functioning half of its original plan: an online storefront. We’re sure Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are breathing relieved sighs into megaphones at this very moment.
“Phantom Entertainment today launched its highly anticipated online game store, located at gamestore.phantom.net. The game store features an impressive catalog of over 2,600 PC games including top sellers like Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2. The store allows for outright purchasing of video games or try before you buy, and features level 4 merchant abilities,” read the press release.
Apparently, the service will also begin streaming titles in early ’09, which at least has the potential to be all kinds of cool.
So, anyone care to join us in partaking of Phantom’s steamy new service? Or do you plan to wait four years before giving Phantom’s bank account some love? After all, turnabout is fair play.