Monthly Archives: May 2014

PS4-Exclusive Racer Driveclub Dev Explains How It Created Its Amazing Audio

The PlayStation 4 exclusive racing game Driveclub looks impressive in screenshots and videos, but developer Evolution Studios claims that it also features some of the best audio in the industry.

“We did initially look and see if we could buy samples in, and approached manufacturers,” Audio Manager Alan McDermott said in an interview with the PlayStation Blog. “But it just wasn’t good enough for us to do what we wanted to do.”

Instead of buying samples, McDermott and his team spent two and a half years traveling the world to make their own audio recordings of all the cars in the game. “We’ve been chasing these cars around the world,” he says. “There aren’t that many Pagani Huayras available. They don’t just send them out on a whim. It’s in Japan on a Wednesday, it’ll be in Italy on Saturday… we chased them. We’ve gone all out.”

Each recording used at least 16 mics in each car and in some cases up to 27. “A lot of the time with simulation car games, the developer will record a set of samples and then that’s it,” he said. “They use those samples for both internal and external sounds. We didn’t do that. We recorded bespoke samples for everything – exhaust, engine, cockpit.”

McDermott said that he’s “fairly confident” Evolution Studios now possesses the most high fidelity recordings of these cars in existence, and that BMW and Mercedes even asked for these recordings to replace their own.

Driveclub launches October 7. A free “feature-complete” PlayStation Plus version will also be available at launch for PlayStation Plus subscribers ($50/year). For more on Driveclub, be sure to read GameSpot Editor Shaun McInnis’ explanation of What Exactly is Driveclub?

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Bulletstorm Reappears on Steam Without Explanation

Epic Games’ 2011 first-person shooter Bulletstorm is available to purchase from Steam again after vanishing from Valve’s PC marketplace without warning back in March.

You can buy Bulletstorm for $20, but as the Online Disclaimer on its Steam page explains, you’ll need a Games For Windows Live client and account in order to install it and access its online features.

Back in August, an update posted to the Age of Empires Online support site indicated that Microsoft intended to axe the Games for Windows Live Service completely on July 1, 2014. Microsoft has since removed the text from its Age of Empires Online support page, but it also closed its PC Marketplace in August 25, 2013, and several developers have since transitioned their games from GFWL to Steamworks.

So far Bulletstorm publisher Electronic Arts didn’t say if the game will continue to require a GFWL account, but Bulletstorm developer Epic Games previously said it was considering a patch that would remove it.

Developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly (now called Epic Games Poland), Bulletstorm launched in March 2011. Described as a “pulp sci-fi adventure,” the game features arcade-style mechanics that challenges players to “kill with skill.”

People Can Fly started work on Bulletstorm 2, but would later abandon this game to work on Gears of War: Judgment instead. For more on Bulletstorm, check out GameSpot’s review.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Former PlayStation Boss Jack Tretton to Cover E3 for Spike TV

Former Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton will return to E3 this year, but he won’t be speaking for Sony. Instead, Tretton will join Spike TV’s All Access coverage as a special correspondent.

Tretton, who has hosted Sony’s E3 press conference a number of times including last year, will provide commentary and analysis for the big E3 press conferences this year along with Spike TV’s All Access host Geoff Keighley, who first revealed Tretton’s involvement via Twitter.

Since I dropped the mic last year on Spike I thought it was only appropriate to pick it back up for E3 this year!” Tretton told Kotaku in a statement. “I’ve been to every E3 but this year I’m excited to see the show through a different lens with the team at Spike. I’ll be watching the news and announcements unfold alongside the fans and the rest of the industry, and I can’t wait to see the new games that everyone is bringing to the table.”

Tretton, who worked at Activision before coming to Sony, left SCEA at the end of March in what was described as a “mutual agreement” between the two parties. He had been at SCEA since 1995, working on the North American launch of every PlayStation platform since the original. Earlier this week we reported that he joined the advisory board of Genotaur, an artificial intelligence development company.

The E3 2014 show floor opens its doors on the morning of June 10, but Microsoft, Sony, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft will hold their press conferences the day prior. GameSpot has compiled a roundup of dates and times for the main press conferences and other events happening during this year’s show.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

EA, NCAA Players Reach $40 Million Settlement

Attorneys representing student athletes who claim Electronic Arts illegally used their likenesses in the company’s popular NCAA Football, Basketball, and March Madness video games will receive nearly $1,000 per appearance in a game from EA. The settlement will amount to a total of around $40 million.

EA and the attorneys representing the student-athletes reached the settlement back in September 2013, but didn’t disclose the details until yesterday, when it filed a motion to approve the settlement. With as much as $951 for each year they were featured in a game, and as many as 100,000 current and former players student athletes appearing in EA sports games since 2003, the settlement could cost EA as much as $40 million.

“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of this settlement and the opportunity to right a huge wrong enacted by the NCAA and EA against these players and their rights of publicity,” said Steve W. Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and co-lead attorney. “We’ve fought against intense legal hurdles since filing this case in 2009 and to see this case come to fruition is a certain victory.”

If the settlement is approved by the court, it will mark the first time an NCAA commercial partner will pay student athletes.

EA and the NCAA ended their licensing deal last year, and while for a time EA continued making licensing deals with individual schools through the Collegiate Licensing Company, in September 2013 it announced it would not make another college football game for 2014.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

The History of Star Wars Video Games Part 1: 1982-1998

George Lucas’ Star Wars is a well of inspiration for video games, and in the nearly 40-year history of the franchise, there have been more than 100 games released across consoles, handhelds, PCs, and mobile devices. Some are considered classics in their respective genres, and some are perhaps best forgotten. Following the series’ humble beginnings on the Atari 2600 in the ’80s, Lucasfilm finally broke out LucasArts, its own game division, in 1990. It took a few years before LucasArts began to ship Star Wars games of its own, but they were some of the best Star Wars games of all time.

Sadly, the time of LucasArts has passed, and it was forced to hand over the reins to Electronic Arts when Disney bought the rights to the franchise in 2013. With a new series of films on the way from director J.J. Abrams, there are no doubt plenty of Star Wars games on the way, but regardless of what happens in the future, the past still belongs to the fans. For the first part of our two part look back at Star Wars video games, let’s take a look at the most beloved Star Wars games that came out between 1982 and 1998.

It all began with the second movie, on a console far, far away: the Atari 2600.

1982: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Atari 2600)

The first Star Wars video game was created by Parker Brothers in 1982 for the Atari 2600. The Empire Strikes Back dropped you into battle on the frigid planet of Hoth. Your one and only goal was to defend a secret Rebel base from massive, four-legged juggernauts known as AT-ATs. It was a simple re-creation of the iconic scene from the film The Empire Strikes Back, but more importantly, it was the first interactive Star Wars experience that you could enjoy at home.

1983: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle (Atari 2600)

A year later, Parker Brothers followed up The Empire Strikes Back with 1983’s Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle. It was another simple shooting game, but this time, you manned the iconic Millennium Falcon, shot down TIE fighters, and chipped away at the Death Star before delivering the final blow to the reactor core, destroying the Death Star once and for all.

1983: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Jedi Arena (Atari 2600)

That same year, Parker Brothers also released Jedi Arena for the 2600. It attempted to re-create the excitement of fighting with lightsabers. But with stationary Jedi and abstract combat, the results were unfortunately underwhelming.

1983: Star Wars: The Arcade Game (Arcade/Atari 2600)

Ultimately, it was the port of Atari’s own Star Wars arcade game that defined the true Star Wars experience on the 2600. The original arcade release featured vector graphics and digitized voices, delivering a revolutionary and influential experience for the time. Not all of these elements made it to the home release, but Atari was able to retain the core gameplay, which was a major step up from the previous games set in the Star Wars universe. It was also the first game based on A New Hope, the first film in the original trilogy.

1984: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (Arcade)

Atari took Star Wars back to arcades in 1984, but it leaped over The Empire Strikes Back and instead went straight to Return of the Jedi. Jedi would forgo the model of the first game in favor of an isometric, on-rails shooter that re-created numerous scenes from Jedi, including the speederbike chase on Endor and the Millennium Falcon’s assault on the Death Star.

1985: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Arcade)

Finally, in 1985, Atari closed out the trilogy by releasing an Empire Strikes Back update for the first arcade game, which took you back to Hoth for another go at defending the Rebel base from Imperial forces and their massive AT-ATs.

1987: Star Wars (Famicom)

By the late ’80s, Atari was flagging in the console market, and Nintendo’s 8-bit system was on the rise, making it the perfect candidate for a new Star Wars game. In 1987, Namco brought Star Wars to the Famicom–the Japanese version of the NES. Namco’s interpretation of the story wasn’t entirely accurate, but it introduced Star Wars fans to the world of side-scrolling platformers, which would become the predominant genre for the series over the next few years.

1991 – 1992: Star Wars/Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (NES)

In 1991, North America got its own Star Wars game on the NES, courtesy of JVC and Lucasfilm Games. From Tattoine to the Death Star, Star Wars was a more faithful interpretation of the original film than Namco’s attempt, apart from Luke using his lightsaber in combat, of course. JVC came back a year later with the Empire Strikes Back. It mixed platforming, side-scrolling shooting, and, for the first time, lightsaber-on-lightsaber action, but again, JVC dropped the ball here, giving Luke Vader’s red lightsaber, rather than the blue saber seen in the first two films.

1992 – 1994: Super Star Wars Trilogy (SNES)

While JVC was busy with The Empire Strikes Back on the NES, Sculpted Software and LucasArts were busy re-creating the original trilogy for the Super Nintendo. The SNES Star Wars games had huge detailed sprites and some of the best sound effects in any Star Wars game to date. They were primarily action platformers, but thanks to the SNES’s Mode 7, you also got the chance to pilot Luke’s landspeeder, an X-wing, and other iconic vehicles in pseudo-3D sequences.

1993 – 1997: X-Wing/TIE Fighter/X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter (PC)

Before the Super trilogy concluded, LucasArts created its first solo Star Wars project for the PC in 1993, the legendary space-combat sim X-Wing. It was one of the first Star Wars games to achieve critical and commercial success. After two expansions, LucasArts created a sequel in 1994: TIE Fighter. TIE Fighter used a new rendering engine and offered a unique perspective on the conflict between the rebel forces and the empire, allowing you to fight on behalf of the dark side for the first time. LucasArts concluded the miniseries with X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter in 1997.

1993 – 1995: Star Wars: Rebel Assault/Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire (PC)

At the same time that it was developing its series of dedicated space-combat games, LucasArts was also busy crafting Rebel Assault and Rebel Assault II. Thanks to the advent of CD-ROM technology, LucasArts was able to incorporate prerendered 3D models and full-motion video. The film-like experiences were special at a time when games were struggling to break free from floppy disks and into the realm of high-capacity CD storage.

1995 – 1997: Star Wars: Dark Forces/ Dark Forces II (PC)

Not one to let a trend pass it by, LucasArts, on top of X-Wing and Rebel Assault games, was also working on Dark Forces: a first-person shooter in the vein of Doom. The 1997 sequel, Dark Forces II, took the model of the first game and ran with it. It was the first multiplayer game for the series, and it was also the first time that you were able to go head-to-head with other players in authentic lightsaber battles. Dark Forces II also let you switch between first- and third-person perspectives, which was an unusual feature at the time.

1996: Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire (N64)

LucasArts was steeped in PC development in the mid ’90s, but in 1996, it returned to consoles shortly after the release of the Nintendo 64 with Shadows of the Empire. This third-person action game took place between the storylines of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. You played as smuggler Dash Rendar and assisted Luke in the rescue of Princess Leia from the grip of Prince Xisor. Shadows wasn’t as good as LucasArts’ other Star Wars games of the day, but it was nonetheless a commercial success.

1997: Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi (PlayStation)

In 1997, LucasArts did the unthinkable and released a Star Wars fighting game for the PlayStation, Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. Unfortunately, fighting game enthusiasts loathed the game’s rough 3D engine, and Star Wars fans balked at the mistreatment of lightsabers, which were incapable of cutting, well, anything.

1998: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (Nintendo 64)

A few months before George Lucas unleashed Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace in theaters, LucasArts and Factor 5 worked together on Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for the Nintendo 64 and Windows PCs. It featured arcade-style action across 16 levels that tapped into many of the original trilogy’s iconic locations, and the console version was one of the first games to use the Nintendo 64’s RAM expansion pack for high-resolution graphics. LucasArts managed to hide a secret code within the game that unlocked the Naboo Starfighter from The Phantom Menace, which was only revealed to the public after the film hit theaters the following year.

The release of The Phantom Menace was a major turning point for the Star Wars franchise, and it had a significant impact on the games that would follow in the years to come. Stay tuned to GameSpot for part 2 of our History of Star Wars Video Games feature, where we tackle the games inspired by Lucas’ prequel trilogy, Legos, and, of all things, hot dance moves.

The History of Star Wars Games Part 1: 1982-1998

Part one of GameSpot’s History of Star Wars games, covering releases from 1982-1998.

Oculus and Samsung Team up for Virtual Reality Device — Report

Oculus VR and Samsung are collaborating on a virtual reality device that uses Samsung’s high resolution OLED phone screens as its display, “sources close to both companies” told Engadget.

According to the report, the partnership between the two companies will give Samsung early access to Oculus’ mobile software development kit, while Oculus will get early access to Samsung’s next generation OLED screen with a resolution higher than 1080p.

Bizarrely, Samsung’s Galaxy S4-based virtual reality headset prototype supposedly doesn’t have a dedicated display. Instead, you just slide your phone into the headset with built-in movements sensors, and use the phone’s screen as a display. Sources who have access to development kits said that it was a good experience, and that the phone has the added benefit of its built-in camera, allowing you to switch from virtual reality to augmented reality.

The news aligns with recent reports that Samsung is working on a virtual reality device that will be announced this year.

It’s also been a year since Oculus talked about its ambition to bring virtual reality support to mobile devices. Facebook purchased Oculus VR, maker of Oculus Rift, earlier this year for $2 billion.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

New Sony Studio Pixelopus to Reveal Game at E3

Sony Computer Entertainment has a new studio called Pixelopus, and it’s going to unveil its first game at the upcoming E3 2014.

The news came from a story in The New York Times about a new graduate degree in game design program at New York University. According to The Times, executive producer at Sony Computer Entertainment America Alex Lee helped teach a game design class at Carnegie Mellon University, in which students developed prototypes of games for the PlayStation Vita. Apparently, some of the students went on to work at Sony.

At this year’s E3, we should see what they’ve been working on with other developers at Sony, the first release from a new studio called Pixelopus. The story does not mention which platform the game is for or where the studio is located.

Sony’s E3 2014 press conference starts at 6 p.m. PDT / 9 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 9. You can also watch a live broadcast of the conference at more than 40 movie theaters across the United States and Canada.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Decryption Mode Mayhem Multiplayer Starter – Watch Dogs

We give you tips and tricks to get the burner phone and vehicular manslaughter your way to the top.

Far Cry 10th Anniversary Retrospective

Crysis may be the series that we most associate with developer Crytek, but it was Far Cry that put it on the map. The original Far Cry was a visual marvel, featuring a vast and gorgeous tropical island to explore, but it was more than just pretty. It was also a highly immersive game that made getting lost in its world both tense and joyous as it introduced elements that were more and more removed from the reality we know.

While some new Far Cry adventures would make their way to consoles packaged with the original game, it wasn’t until 2008 that a proper sequel arrived, courtesy of Ubisoft Montreal. The game met with mixed reactions, but it found a passionate audience that loved its African setting and weapon degradation. Far Cry 3 met with wider acclaim, but it’s the original game that has proven most important, providing a foundation not just for the Far Cry series itself, but for Crysis and its sequels as well.

Daniel Hindes

The thing I most fondly remember from my tropical vacation in the first Far Cry was the only thing that was excised from the series’ later installments: its tone. Protagonist Jack Carver’s bright orange Hawaiian shirt was a constant reminder of Far Cry’s playful origins. This was a first-person shooter that didn’t care about the evils of arms smuggling, or about the definition of insanity. It cared about saturating you with its colorful, open levels, and keeping you on your toes with what were, at the time, some of the most intelligent enemies I’ve ever seen in a shooter. These mercenaries actually used the jungle for cover, creeping behind plants and–get this–not shooting at you until they had snuck right up behind you for a kill shot. I can’t remember a time in a game since then that an enemy has surprised me like that.

Of course, what’s not surprising now is Crytek’s desire to change up the enemy roster halfway through, such as the introduction of Crysis’ aliens, or here, mutated apes. Once I started fighting these trigens in a volcanic caldera, I checked out. But until that point, Far Cry was a pure and refreshing shooter about bright colors, big guns, and loud shirts.

Kevin VanOrd

There comes a “Holy crap!” moment just minutes into Far Cry when the sight of your lush island prison is revealed to you for the first time. It’s one of the most stunning sights I’ve ever witnessed in a game, and at the time, I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could a game look this incredible? What was in store for me in this violent paradise?

I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could a game look this incredible?

It was the best birthday present I could imagine, and the game arrived only a week after the awesome Unreal Tournament 2004. My time was split between both games afterward–Far Cry for its single-player thrills, and UT 2004 for the continuing excitement of onslaught matches. Far Cry was my personal jewel, however. I can still envision the heightened tropical ambience when swimming underwater, surrounded by impossibly vibrant fish and perfect round bubbles. I can still remember the opening cutscene, which begins with a rewind shot depicting floating flotsam reassembling itself into a sailboat. I still remember using the different rendering options, which let you change the look of the entire game. If you grabbed the recently released HD version (called Far Cry Classic), try turning on the cartoon setting, which makes the game look rather like Borderlands.

Crytek moved on to Crysis, and Ubisoft now handles the Far Cry franchise, and while both Far Cry sequels were great on their own terms, I miss the Island of Doctor Moreau vibe of the original. The series tastes best with a touch of the unnatural.

Shaun McInnis

My experience with the original Far Cry requires a little bit of backstory. Back in 2004, I was a sophomore at the University of Washington. In between reading stacks of 18th-century English novels and trying to convince myself that dirt-cheap beer wasn’t so bad once you got used to it–college is a weird place–I somehow still managed to find time for video games. So here I was, browsing reviews on a little website called GameSpot.com, in search of that one game I should check out next. And that’s when I saw it: Far Cry.

It was a review done by former GameSpot editor Jason Ocampo. I mention that because one year prior, I shared an English literature class with him and had absolutely no idea he went on to write about video games for a living. And that’s what grabbed my attention. Yes, Far Cry looked great, but my PC at the time was a feeble Dell laptop–I was a console gamer back then. But seeing someone I had taken a class with was just too weird for me. I had to see what this game was about.

I’m glad I did, because that game was really something else. Even on my sad little laptop, Far Cry’s jungle environment was amazing. The way prowling through lush foliage made you feel like a predator stalking its prey, the freedom with which you could approach enemies, the way everything just felt so reactive–it was one of the first games I could remember where I really felt like I was using the world around me as a weapon.

And it’s a series that I still love to this day. Even as Crytek has moved on to different projects, I still enjoy the legacy that studio created. I’m just happy that a wild coincidence convinced me to take a shot on it in the first place.