Buy and Download Homm3: Complete Ed. from GOG!

Almost Human ltd. is now officially working on Legend Of Grimrock II

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Just recently last year, a Finnish indie developer Almost Human Ldt. raised from the depths of the unknown and released Legend Of Grimrock, a party-based first-person cRPG, much in veins of Dungeon Master and Eye Of The Beholder series. The team had clear vision, to bring party-based classic dungeon-crawlers back to this planet.

Grimrock, as a matter of fact, was being in development quite many years before Almost Human Ltd. was formed (2011), being developed under different project names on it's early stage, until finally named as Legend Of Grimrock. The reception towards Grimrock was, well, quite decent, and it managed to surprise many of those not aware of it's coming. The game wasn't overly complex, but it did well what it was meant to do: be a rather straightforward old-school flavoured first-person dungeon-crawler cRPG with a full party to create (1-4 characters), and involved some puzzles. Grimrock acquired respectable metacritic score of 82 (average out from 49 reviews), which is pretty good for genre such as cRPG, even when it's old-school, taking into consideration that games like this aren't usually not fully understood and respected with modern-gaming generation. In 2013 Almost Human Ltd. announced that Grimrock had sold over 600,000 copies.

The story was simple: an airship carries a group of prisoners on top of Mount Grimrock accused of their crimes against the King. Their punishment, to be thrown into the depths of Grimrock dungeons, and sealed within, where no prisoner has ever returned. Your quest? To find a way out of Grimrock.

(This is how original Legend of Grimrock looks like (2012))

Yesterday, Almost Human Ltd. announced on their website that they are now officially working on Legend Of Grimrock II. They first intended to make a DLC for original Grimrock, too, but felt that it wouldn't stay true for their etiquette towards the old-school games. Almost Human are not revealing much of their plans at this stage, other than that they have plenty of things planned up already:

"[...] today’s meeting proved, we still have a lot of ideas we’d like to explore, lots and lots of new content already done (originally made for a DLC/expansion) and a big engine update in the works. Simply put, a DLC would have limited too much what we can do. With a full blown sequel we can raise Grimrock to the next level." (About The New Project. 21st of Feb 2013. Almost Human Ltd.

Information of Grimrock II vague, but it's coming, so stay tuned for more! If you never tried original Legend of Grimrock, feel free to buy it as digital download from Good Old Games!

Torment: Tides of Numenera website opens up - InXile asks votes for upcoming pledge rewards

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Brian Fargo and InXile Entertainment company are currently developing Wasteland 2, but Fargo doesn't rest for a minute. His team already has their sights for future, to allow the team to continue with a new game straight after Wasteland 2 (and most likely even overlapping with it's production too).

Earlier this year Fargo hinted to have acquired rights for "Torment" trademark, thanks for clever folks in noticing this before anyone else (even if you hate them, you probably love them secretly too). Planescape: Torment was well received top-down isometric computer role-playing game released in 1999 by Interplay, a company where Fargo belonged previously. Planescape: Torment was well known for it's dark story and setting, putting emphasise heavily on story-line rather than combat, with quite complex dialogue and it's options.

However, Fargo's latest trademark acquisition only granted rights to make a "Torment"-game, which does not include anything related to "Planescape" license. Torment and Planescape are two different things, and should be kept separate. Now, Planescape actually stands for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting and rules, which Fargo cannot use for the new Torment game, while Torment stands for the fictional story and characters created by Interplay team for Planescape setting in the PC game. Fargo and InXile Entertainment can use any fictional characters and things from story-line of Planescape: Torment, which are not borrowed from Planescape universe, but from anything that Interplay themselves came up with and added on top-of that for Planescape: Torment game. InXile's team actually stated in an interview, that they see "Torment" trademark mostly as specific thematic story style, rather than a specific setting (Torment interview with Colin McComb and Kevin Saunders. 12th February 2013.

So, Fargo and InXile have decided to put their "Torment" trademark license to use, and create "a spiritual successor" for original Planescape: Torment soon to be kick-started on, a game that will carry on the original's legacy. Instead of using Planescape campaign setting, Fargo acquired rights to use a brand-new science-fiction table-top RPG fantasy setting in the upcoming game, which is called Numenéra. Numenera setting was just recently in last year's September successfully funded at reaching $517,255 in pledges out of it's original $20,000 goal and was a huge success.

(early concept art for upcoming Torment)

Fargo also stated earlier this year that the soon-to-be-kickstarted Torment: Tides Of Numenera will be set in overall dark game-world setting, bit like it's "predecessor". The game will use adapted table-top setting rules of Numenera, and developing team will include at least Colin McComb (creative lead, worked as developing Planescape setting, as well as a designer for Planescape: Torment), Kevin Saunders (lead designer and producer for Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of The Betrayer), Mark Morgan (as a composer, from Fallout 1 and 2), Aaron Meyers (artist on Planescape: Torment), and Dana Kutson (primary concept artist for Planescape: Torment) on their ranks. Stated in the interview, Chris Avellone won't be involved in the project (Torment interview with Colin McComb and Kevin Saunders. 12th February 2013.

As we know for know, world of Numenera is set in distant future, and won't be using planes per se in it's game world unlike Planescape: Torment, but the game will include some extra-dimensional travel and locations separated from the actual reality. The team is still figuring out whether they will use full isometric 3D for the game or will they include pre-drawn 2D backgrounds. However, they have stated that they really felt Wasteland 2's isometric 3D view with Unity engine worked well for them, so it might be a hint to use something similar for Torment: Numenera.

InXile have just recently set up official website containing forums for Torment: Tides Of Numenera and are currently asking votes of the consumers for upcoming kickstarter-campaign pledge rewards. Be sure to check the official website here. You can also read full interview of Torment: Numenera with Brian Fargo & Co. by at here.The kickstarter campaign should follow shortly, much before Wasteland 2 is finished.

(This is how original Planescape: Torment looked like in 1999, and it's still got it's fascination today)

And while you're read this far, you might as well feel like it's time to reinstall the original Planescape: Torment and give it a run? You can get it from Good Old Games as digital copy with PDF-manuals for $9.99.

Grimoire demo released and Indiegogo campaign extended for 2 months

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Cleve Blakemore has finally released long awaited demo (at least for those rare breed of true old-school cRPG fantics) for his shortly upcoming old school party-based cRPG Grimoire: Heralds of Winged Exemplar. For those who don't know, the game has been in the making over 17 years by Cleve, with help of  Michael Shamgar. The game pays honor to old-school cRPGs such as Baldurs... oh wait, just kidding, a bit older than that: Wizardry series, Eye of The Beholder, and Might & Magic series - especially to those of 80s and very early 90s. We can sum up the most important things of Grimoire as such:

(just by looking character screen you can see there's quite much diversity in the game)

* old-school cRPG in first-person view
* party-based
* step-engine (gameplay)
* turn-based tactical combat
* several races, professions, skills, and full party creation
* lengthy gameplay over 600 hours (you know it's important!)
* and tons of other features.. check it out on the new Indiegogo campaign (prolonged)

The game was about 98% ready when the Indiegogo campaign first started couple of months ago with goal of $250 000, but ending up "only" bit over $10 000 of raised funds few days ago. The trick here is though, that original campaign was so called "flexible funding" campaign, which means that what amount ever Grimoire would reach, it would be released and money would go to their righteous owners (the creators of the game).

Cleve then decided to extend recently ended Indiegogo campaign for 60 more days (starting from yesterday), so you still have chance to back this game and purchase it! Deal with Indiegogo ensures that already given pledges will still count as purchase, so the game currently has that bit over $10 000 of funds raised, with 60 more days to go, and the current goal for extended period is 10% of the original goal - $25 000. The extended campaign is also so called "flexible funding"-campaign, which is guarantee of the release, not matter if the goal is reached or not.

Extending the campaign always makes you think "will the game also be delayed?". Well far is it's known for now there is no delay, the new (extended) Indiegogo campaign page of Grimoire says "to be shipped in May 2013" just like previously, it's just prolonged period to actually buy the game and only chance to acquire a new physical copy of the game, which is set to be shipped and delivered during May 2013.

Also as stated the official gameplay Demo is out and free-to-play! The original demo release had some bugginess, which should have been fixed now. The current and updated Grimoire Demo can be downloaded here! (v1.31 3.4.2013)

If you're into bit more complex cRPGs that what seems to be released these days and hell, perhaps even since mid-90s, then I truly suggest that you give this game a look!

Crysis 3 release at next week (19th & 21st of Feb for PC, Xbox360 and PS3) - short preview

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Long-awaited sci-fi first-person-shooter Crysis 3 is coming out next week for PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360! Release dates are 19th of February for United States and 21st of February for Europe and Australia. Be sure to Pre-order Crysis 3 if you're a shooter-game fan. The game is developed by Crytek, who are previously known of original Far Cry as well as two Crysis 3 predecessors (1, and 2). The game will be published by Electronic Arts. Crysis 3 will feature brand new single-player campaign with revamped multi-player mode.

Story of the game takes place 24 years after events of it's predecessor Crysis 2. Player takes a role of Prophet who returns to New York city (Liberty Dome) in 2047, after city is closed-in and quarantined within enormous Nanodome, which was created by corrupt C.E.L.L. corporation (Crynet Enforcement & Local Logistics). Player will be equipped with new high-tech and alien weaponry, composite bow. and a upgraded nanosuit. Prepare for war! New York city Liberty Dome is divided into seven distinct and environments, which are called Seven Wonders, with landscape mixing urban city environments with overgrown jungle, trees, rivers, and swamps. The people of Liberty Dome have been told that the quarantined nanodomes were build to protect population and to clean out remnants of Ceph Forces (Cephalopods aka Charybdis, technologically advanced aliens). In reality, nanodomes C.E.L.L.’s hidden plan to steal technology and acquire land in their bigger quest for global domination. That’s when Prophet (player) becomes aware of these plans and steps in for his “revenge attack” to prevent C.E.L.L.’s plans, while also fighting alien forces similarly. Once again, it’s about saving mankind…

(Welcome to the jungle...)

…but in beautiful environments. Game will use improved CryEngine 3 (which was also used in Crysis 2), and will attempt to crank out everything from modern PC hardware too. In fact, some of the special graphical improvements will only be visual in PC version of the game in highest graphical settings. No doubt about it, CryEngine 3 is one of the most visually impressive game-engines of this game generation (before the next generation consoles come in).

Multiplayer mode will feature eight different gameplay types with all new maps and loads of new weaponry. The most hyped multiplayer-mode has definitely been “Hunter”-mode, a sort of a survival-mode, where teams are split into two: C.E.L.L. troopers (10-14 players depending whether using PC or Console) with decent gear versus. two “hunters” wearing high-tech nanosuit with cloaking ability and bows with arrows. The “Hunter”-mode will last five rounds of two minutes. Troopers are being hunted by hunters who due their cloaking devices are hard to spot and can ambush hell out of the troopers with their silent bows. Any trooper who dies within the round becomes then hunter for the rest of the game. The trooper who survives the longest wins. Hunter mode should present some thrilling online-gaming moments.

Crysis 3 will feature quite decent selection of weaponry ranging from Assault rifles (SCAR, SCARAB, Typhoon), Sub-machine guns (Feline), Shotguns (Jackal, Marshall), Sniper-rifle (DSG-1), Sidearms (Hammer, Majestic), Heavy weapons (HMG, MK. 60 mod 0), to Explosive weapons (M17 Frag Grenade, Ceph Plasma, X-PAC).. or would you like to use a Compound Bow instead to shoot an arrow to your enemy’s neck instead? For example Typhoon has huge blast of 720 round magazine with very rapid fire rate, while Jackal is fully automatic assault shotgun for close quarters combat, and HMG is heaviest non-explosive weapon that can be acquired in Crysis 3.

(Pre-Order Crysis 3| PC | PC download | Playstation 3 | Xbox 360 | )

System requirements for Crysis 3 PC release are:

• Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
• DirectX 11 graphics card with 1Gb Video RAM
• Dual core CPU
• 2GB Memory (3GB on Vista)
• Nvidia/Intel example setup: Nvidia GTS 450, Intel Core2 Duo 2.4 Ghz (E6600)
• AMD example setup: AMD Radeon HD5770, AMD Athlon64 X2 2.7 Ghz (5200+)

• Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
• DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB Video RAM
• Quad core CPU
• 4GB Memory
• Nvidia/Intel example setup: Nvidia GTX 560, Intel Core i3-530
• AMD example setup: AMD Radeon HD5870, AMD Phenom II X2 565

High performance:
• Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
• Latest DirectX 11 graphics card
• Latest quad core CPU
• 8GB Memory
• Nvidia/Intel example setup: NVidia GTX 680, Intel Core i7-2600k
• AMD example setup: AMD Radeon HD7970, AMD Bulldozer FX4150

Sony Playstation 4 first leaked dualshock controller images

Next generation consoles of Sony Playstation and Microsoft XBOX are on their way probably within a year or two. Sony is holding their own New York City media-event next Wednesday 20th of February 2013, which will be interesting since they might reveal their plans about Playstation 4 release on that day, and officially announce the console (source: Gamespot).

Playstation 4 is also rumored to be incompatible backwards with the old games due it's different kind of hardware compared to Playstation 3, which will most likely remind more of a modern PC. The console is rumored to use AMD x86 chips which have issues with games planned for previous Playstation consoles due their totally different architecture. However Sony might end up going around this problem by streaming old Playstation games with services like Gaikai or OnLive, or such, just if the technology will allow this when the console comes out. (source: Eurogamer)

Anyway, if you wondered what PS4 controller will look like, perhaps below is your best answer this far. The first images of the controller have leaked on internet and can be seen on below. Bare in mind that this is most likely a prototype and may yet change:

(first leaked image)

(secont leaked image)
(image credit: Digital Foundry)

Wasteland 2 first gameplay video reveals some interesting things (now in HD 1080p)

It's coming (well that too: Grimoire). Wasteland 2.

The much expected messiah of party-based cRPGs. Brian Fargo's team InXile Entertainment have finally managed to come out with first actual gameplay video material for those who are interested in the game to look at. The game's promised development cycle is 18 months, which means the game should be out near the end of this year, and thus there's still loads of work to do for InXile team.

The gameplay video the team released recently in Vimeo and then in Youtube (with HD resolution 1080p option available) is very early build of the game, yet it already looks rather stable. The video reveals some interesting things about the game. Allow me to compile a quick-list about interesting features of the upcoming game revealed, and also if you're not familiar with Wasteland 2 at all previously, feel free to check one of my earlier articles of the game also to get a bigger picture of the game:

*See the gameplay video in the end of the post*

-Team seems to be size of 4 player characters (in the beginning at least)
-The first interior area you'll encounter in the game is Agricultural Center with first mission from Kathy Lawson

-You can use imported character pictures of pre-made ones
-UI (user interface) is artistically influenced by Fallout 1 and 2, and gives nice tone for the game
-UI is customisable so that you can drag different bars of the UI around, swap their position, and re-size them
-A "text window" plays heavy part in the game giving information about events happening around you such as: descriptions of different items and areas (most items have one in the game) setting tone for the game, combat events, and giving important clues & hints

-Dialogue uses keyword-system, whereas any dialogue options that are available for you to choose are single words (keywords) instead of full sentences to choose from. For example if you had an option to intimidate someone, the option would be just one word "intimidate" instead of something like "give me your goddamn money or I'll crush your skull!".
-The dialogue screen is divided into two sections: on the left are keywords that current NPC personally cares about, on the right are the more common and universal topics giving more general information ("rangers, plants, raiders" etc.)
-As you go on with your keyword-choices on dialogue you might open up new options and close existing ones
-There's also option to actually type freely any word or name in dialogue-screen, which can sometimes open up an additional dialogue branches otherwise hidden from you
-There will be less voice-acting, which gives InXile opportunity to create more varying reactions out of text-based answers from different NPCs (non-player characters) within the game world

-Camera is rotatable and it's possible to zoom in and out
-Walls will turn invisible when they get over/in way of your player characters, so that you can actually see them without having to rotate camera, which looks like a nice little touch

-Over 30 are skills included in the game
-Lock-picking is in and seems to play important role
-Breaking down doors is also possible by brute force or demolition
-Successful perception skill-check gives information about enemies, their field of vision, and objects

-The game uses two-stage fog-of-war system, which means that the first layer is the area that you have or have not explored yet, which means you'll see the terrain if you've explored it previously (memorised), but if you haven't you'll just see dark unexplored area - and second layer is your actual sight which reveals the enemies. You won't be seeing enemies on the area you have previously explored, in case you have no direct eye-sight on them.
-Enemies have their field-of-vision (sight), and if you're outside it, they won't spot you, which gives you chance for an ambush
-Enemies have "hearing" and do react to sounds (at least to some extent)

-Combat is turn-based and is based on original Wasteland game with some tweaks on it
-Combat will use hex-based battlefield, but you can hide hexes if you like
-Combat is relied on limited action points to spend for every player character and creature per each turn
-Each combat action towards enemy (shot, melee strike) has a chance-to-hit by percentage depending of your skill, weapon, distance, enemy size, and speed
-Friendly fire is on, so you can wound your own rangers if you get careless
-Different objects such as barrels, crates, and walls give essential cover for your rangers, decreasing a chance to hit for any enemies when you kneel behind them
-You will get XP (experience points) per an enemy kill

-Player attributes are presented in "C.L.A.S.S.I.C."-system which stands for seven attributes: coordination, luck, awareness, strength, speed, intelligence, and charisma
-Coordination in combat gives additional action points
-Awareness in combat increases your "initiative", which generally gives few more turns per combat sequence
-Strength gives higher maximum constitution (hit points) and higher melee damage
-Speed increases movement speed during combat

EDITOR'S NOTES: I feel that the gameplay video presented here really showed Wasteland 2 to be quite promising product. Game engine seemed quite fluid and solid. Personally I liked the two-stage fog-of-war, which gives sort of element of surprise as you have to have actual eye-sight to the enemies to spot them. Not being able to see any enemies behind the corners makes you plan your tactics more carefully. Still, game-engine wasn't as pretty it would be, if it used pre-drawn 2D backgrounds like Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment. The engine reminded me a bit too much of Jagged Alliance: Back In Action, but was surely heading towards bit more complex and polished fields.

One thing that combat video did not show was, if there is actual possibility to wound badly in combat and bleed. And does the game have diseases as well? Need for a medic or doctor could be a nice addition as well as stamina-attribute, which could run out during pacey combat. I think that Wasteland should have at least a slight "survival"-type of a gameplay element included, even if it would not be so extensive. I'd really wish these things could end up to the final product, but so far I have no clue whether they're planned to be included at any extent?

Keyword-system using dialogue options also left me wondering a bit. I mean it can work great or then not. Personally I'd like to have a chance to pick full sentences as an option for my speech on dialogue-phase, just like in Fallout. That gives me better feeling of actually role-playing my character. Single word? Meh. But maybe InXile can make it work. If the keywords actually represent meaningful actions towards NPC, rather than just being there for information-hunting whereas you'd just keep clicking through the all keywords to get different descriptions without real purpose of an action, the system could work. If the keywords are just an actual actions which you have to really consider, it will work. If they're there just for "give me information about keyword A, give me information about keyword B", it will get boring quickly. Also possibility to freely
type and keyword during dialogue is nice touch and boasts many possibilities to make the game more interesting, but we'll see how deeply will InXile use this option within the final product. I feel it's nice that they've taken a step to decrease amount of voice-acting with trade-off to increase NPCs text-based reactions and dialogue options towards player characters.

Breaking through the locked doors with several different ways also made me wonder: hopefully InXile will keep all separate skills and character builds unique and necessary with possibility to solve quests different ways with different character builds and party line-ups. I would not want to play game where each totally different type of party has equal chance to solve any quest around. Some quests and areas should be more rewarding for other type of characters than the others. But that's only my opinion. Overall I'm quite damn excited about Wasteland 2!