Category Archives: Opinion

The Alternative Awards of 2014

It’s that time of year again where gaming outlets around the world hand out their Game of the Year awards.  Never one to miss out, we at GamePointsNow thought we’d hand out a few of our own, albeit with a slight twist.

 So here’s our Alternative Game of the Year Awards for 2014:

Most Face Melting Graphics

Winner – Assassins Creed: Unity

 There’s no denying Assassins Creed Unity looks stunning, but that’s not the reason for this award. While the internet would have you believe this was a common issue, the “invisible faces” bug actually only affected a very small number of players on PC, which did nothing to stop it being utterly hilarious.

An honourable mention goes to Dragon Age: Inquisition for it’s “slick” looking faces, especially in the rainy areas

Most Misleading Title & the It’s Nothing Like the Trailer” awards

Winner – Watch_Dogs

Not a single dog anywhere to be seen!!! And that’s not the only way Ubisoft mislead everyone! After two sterling showings at E3 expectations were high when Watch_Dogs finally launched last year. While the game wasn’t totally terrible, it fell short of what had been shown in gameplay demos leading up to release. This led to public outcry,especially when hackers (ironically) discovered that all the settings from the E3 demo were actually still in the game but had been disabled and hidden.

The “You Looking At Me?” award

Winner – Luigi,Mario Kart 8

There we were thinking Mario kart was just a cutesy fun game, ideal for spending hour upon hour having fun with the whole family. How wrong we were.  While some of us take our gaming seriously, very few take it it as seriously as Mario’s little brother it seems.

The OMFGROFLMAO award for most insane gaming moment

Winner- Exploding Elephants in Far Cry 4

 Possibly not an award for the animal lovers out there, but what do you expect when you give gamers access to heavy explosives and majestic rampaging elephants. While Far Cry 4 offers up numerous ways to liberate outposts, our favourite by far is strapping C4 to old Nellie and sending her headlong into your enemies. Thankfully the game spares you the full horror of it’s guts going everywhere.

The “Really…You delayed this?” award

Winner – Driveclub

When PS4 launch title Driveclub was delayed shortly before launch, there was much anger and disappointment – but that was nothing compared to the anger and disappointment when it actually released. After seeing what state it came out in it’s hard to imagine what it was like before they delayed it. Thankfully it all seems to be fine now.

Most awkward conversation

Winner- Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Iron Bull & Dorian’s flirting

 One of our favourite things about Dragon Age: Inquisition is the party “banter” (ugh) system. The conversations you get to hear depend on the characters you’ve chosen to accompany you on your quest to close the giant green hole in the sky, so experimenting with different combinations can be really interesting. Without doubt however, our favourite combo is Tevinter mage Dorain and Quanri warrior The Iron Bull.  If you don’t romance either character, they will spark up a rather strange romance which involves some full on flirting…which can get a little graphic.

The “New pants please” award

Winner – Alien: Isolation

 2014 saw quite a revival in horror titles and without doubt Alien: Isolation is right up there with the best of them for sheer tension. While other games might have more outright scares (honourable mentions go to Outlast and PT), Isolation ramped it up to 11 in terms of atmosphere and downright terror. There’s not many games where you can spend five minutes trembling under a desk hoping you won’t get spotted. In fact we’re not totally sure we didn’t crawl throughout the whole game.

The “I Can’t Feel My Hands” award

Winner- Our Fifa 15 World Record Attempt

We love gaming and we love Fifa, but after spending over 48 hours playing Fifa 15 to set a new Guinness World Record that love did wane just a little. However, raising loads of money for the awesome Special Effect made it worth it

The “Just leave Me Alone” award

Winner – Far Cry 4’s animals

 Without doubt, Far Cry 4 is one of 2014’s finest games, but it’s also one of the most annoying thanks to Kryat’s amped up animal population. It’s as if Ajay Ghale has embarked on his trip smothered in the tastiest animal treat in existence, such is the fervour the various predators are whipped into whenever he appears. Hopefully whoever suggested those bloody eagle attacks was promptly shipped off to experience it for real.

 Most Pervy Cameraman

Winner – Bayonetta 2

Not many games from 2014 have stirred up as much conversation as Bayonetta 2. The Wii U exclusive has won plaudits for almost every aspect of its design, from its superb action sequences and accessible gameplay to its strong female lead. It’s just a pity the camera designer obviously thought he was auditioning for a job at Babestation

The “Something Borrowed, Something New” award

Winner – Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

There are very few original ideas in games anymore. Almost every major title now features an aspect borrowed or tweaked from something else in some way. Shadow of Mordor is no exception, but few execute them all so well. While SoM isn’t some cheap knock off, it is clear that the mechanics have been heavily inspired from the popular Batman Arkham and Assassins Creed series. But unlike many games, it gives something back in its unique Nemesis system which is no doubt going to “inspire” future games.

Best Beard

Winner – Joel, The Last of Us Remastered

 It wouldn’t be an award show without a mention for Naughty Dog’s superb The Last of Us. While the PS3 version already looked incredible, the updated version re-released on PS4 last year took it to a whole new level by polishing up the character models and improving the in-game textures. Maybe it was because we’d already experienced the incredible story before that we couldn’t help but spend most of the game admiring Joels high definition beard .

The “Here Goes My Life Again”

Winner – Football Manager 2015

OK I have a problem. I’m addicted to the virtual drug that is Football Manager. Every year I promise I won’t let it get it’s claws into me so much and every year the stat filled temptress engulfs me by taking up hundreds (thousands) of hours of my Steam playtime. At first glance it seemed this year would be the year the love affair ended (well, cut back at least), but after getting to grips with some of the game’s bigger changes I’m as addicted as ever, so it’s only fair I give it an award.

Most Expensive Demo

Winner – Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes

No matter what anyone says you cannot deny that Ground Zeroes isn’t a demo for the full MGS: V.  Yes the gameplay is fantastic and it looks incredible but it’s still no more than a prologue. Albeit a very good one.

The “We know it’s coming to next gen” award

Winner – Borderlands The Pre-Sequel

 The next gen consoles have well and truly taken hold now with Sony announcing they have sold over 18 million PS4’s and fewer releases hitting PS3/360. So it was a strange decision for 2K to announce that Borderlands TPS was only releasing on the last gen consoles. With the frequency in which last gen titles are now popping up on the consoles it’ll surprise absolutely no-one when it no doubt  gets announced for Xbox One and PS4 (maybe as part of some collection) at some PAX panel soon. (edit: it since has been announced) Another title in the frame for this award is Assassin’s Creed: Rogue which is likely to appear on next gen machines around the same time it launches on PC in a couple of weeks


Are there any games you feel should deserve their own special award? let us know in the comments below

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GamePointsNow E3 Predictions – Third Parties

Over the last couple of years it’s been the third party publishers that have made the biggest splash at E3. Be it Ubisoft’s reveals of Watch Dogs and the Division or EA’s demonstration of ‘levolution’, there’s always something that gets gamers talking.

So after we laid down our predictions for Microsoft and Sony, it’s only fair we have a go at predicting what the third parties will be announcing come E3:

Ubisoft

Ubisoft-E3-2012-Press-Conference-Logo

Ubisoft usually have a pretty impressive E3 conference, and this year should be no different. Once again, US actress Aisha Taylor will be handling the presenting as Ubisoft show off their offerings for the coming year and beyond.

While Far Cry 4 has already been announced pre-E3, we expect they’ll be a extended gameplay demo of the upcoming shooter alongside an extended appearance of open world racer The Crew – both of which are scheduled to release later this year.

It wouldn’t be an Ubisoft E3 without Assassin’s Creed making an appearance, and this year there’s two. Assassin’s Creed: Unity has already been confirmed for next gen and PC, so we expect to see quite a bit of that. Including, hopefully, confirmation that it will feature some form of four player co-op. Ubisoft are also expected to finally confirm the existence of a second AC title for Xbox 360 and PS3 coming alongside Unity.

Despite it’s delay, last year’s showstopper The Division is expected to feature heavily again this year and Just Dance 2015 is likely revealed by some chart superstar as always. Although it’s Ubisoft’s new announcements that will probably make the headlines once again.

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We’re hoping that the French publisher will continue its tradition of announcing at least one new IP every E3, but it’s likely we’ll see a few familiar faces make a reappearance. While Rayman could make an appearance, we at GPN are expecting to see the return of Prince of Persia sometime soon. And while the rumours of Beyond Good & Evil 2 are all well and good, it’s the return of Rainbow Six: Patriots that has us all excited.

Electronic Arts (EA)

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It’s highly likely that EA will reveal most of their wares at Microsoft’s event earlier in the day as they’ve done in the past. Expect the usual Madden, NBA, NHL and Fifa titles to look shiner than they did before and probably add a new control system,. EA’s golf series should also return under the old PGA Tour label now that Tiger Woods has been dropped, but the big sports push is likely to be behind the upcoming EA UFC.

Last year’s teases are likely to become this year’s extended gameplay demos. While we expect Star Wars: Battlefront III and Mirrors Edge to be shown at MS’s conference, it’s likely EA will show more on their own stage. The as yet unannounced Star Wars title helmed by former Uncharted creator Amy Hennig is also likely to appear at at least one of the E3 pressers.

header-star-wars-battlefront-preview-trailer-e3-2013

One sure thing is that EA will not allow Call of Duty to have the shooty shooty bang bang arena to itself this year. While announcing Battlefield 5 would probably cause the internet to riot in streets after the problems 4 has had, we do expect to see some form of spin off appear this year, most likely in the form of the SWAT based FPS that the former Dead Space team are said to be working on (edit:now confirmed as Battlefield:Hardline)

Dragon Age: Inquisition is likely to get a big showing too. The action RPG is set to release this year, so expect much more info at E3. We’ll probably get a firm release date for The Sims 4 along with a long video showing hairstyles and Simlish.

Our final predictions for EA are all in hope above all else. While the likes of new Dead Space and Need For Speed titles may not be shown just yet, we can only pray that Mass Effect (4?) gets at least a teaser to go alongside the likely reveal of a next gen trilogy re-release.

The Rest

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Traditionally, Konami release their very own pre-recorded pre E3 conference laying out their plans for the next year and we expect to see that again this year. We’re anticipating more footage of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at one of the big E3 conferences. It’d also be nice to see something on the next Silent Hill title (which is expected to be a reboot), while a look at the first next-gen Pro Evolution Soccer is almost guaranteed.

Capcom are also expected to roll out the usual franchises this year too. A new Resident Evil  could make a long awaited appearance, with many hoping for a reboot or at least a return to the series horror roots. We might get the PS4 exclusive free to play dungeon crawler Deep Down confirmed for a Western release and maybe even a sequel to Dragons Dogma.

Finally, we expect to hear big things from Deep Silver this year with rumours around them announcing two AAA titles this year. While Dying Light has been delayed until 2015, we’re expecting to see the return of Metro or Saints Row in 2015 and hopefully not another Dead Island title.(edit Deep Silver are publishing Homefront: The Revolution)


So what would you like to see? As ever let us know in the comments below

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GamePointsNow E3 Predictions – Microsoft

So it’s that time of year again where gamers the world over get excited for all the big announcements coming out of gaming’s biggest trade show – E3.

With the usual bout of leaks & rumours doing the rounds, we at GamePointsNow thought it’d be fun to speculate on the things we expect from the big names this year.

Microsoft-e3-press-conference

To say Microsoft has had a tough year would be an understatement. It seems that they can’t do right for doing wrong lately, with the collective fingers of the internet going for their throat at every opportunity. After last year’s infamous ‘reversals’ there have been quite a few changes over at the Redmond campus, now headed up by the no-nonsense Phil Spencer.

Already Spencer has made sweeping changes, principally by making Kinect an optional purchase and lifting some of the Xbox Live barriers. Xbox is promising that this year is all about the games, so hopefully there will be less of the US centric TV apps that met much centre stage derision last year.

Here’s what we’d like to see from Microsoft’s E3 conference.
Black Tusk’s Gears of War – CGI

gears_of_war_3_game_official-wide

Ever since Microsoft announced it was putting together a studio of top talent, an awful lot of expectation has been placed upon Black Tusk’s shoulders. At last year’s E3 the Vancouver based studio got to showcase their “Shangheist” tech demo, but this year they should have a lot more to show.

When Microsoft picked up the rights to the Gears of War series earlier this year, they quickly announced that development duties had been passed onto Black Tusk. While it’s probably too early to see actual gameplay, we expect to at least see some form of CGI trailer with a sneak peek at a potential setting; fingers crossed for a prequel set in the Pendulum Wars.
Halo,Halo,Halo,Halo

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It wouldn’t be a Microsoft event without some mention of Halo, but this year could feature more of the Chief than you can handle. Strangely, they decided to announce possibly the biggest Halo of them all (Halo 5: Guardians) before the big event, leaving us to wonder what other Halo related goodies they have held back.

It’s likely we’ll finally see the worst kept secret in gaming officially announced in the form of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It was initially rumoured that we would see just Halo 2 given the next-gen treatment, but now it seems that we’ll be getting Halo 1-4 for the Xbox One later this year along with a Beta for Halo 5 at some point next year.

Release Dates

Quantum-Break-4

At last year’s presser, Microsoft showed teases for a number of games like Quantum Break, Fable Legends and Sunset Overdrive. This year we can expect to see a lot more of them, so expect extensive gameplay demos and some release dates.

Happily, we predict that the vast majority will probably be released this year; with the likes of Below and D4 between now and September, and Sunset Overdrive not long after. Quantum Break is likely to fill the late October prime slot while Fable Legends will probably appear in 2015

New, Old Stuff

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Microsoft have promised that this E3 is all about the games and so you can expect a slew of new game announcements. We expect to see the return of Crackdown, as well as a follow up to racer Forza Horizon. Crackdown 3 would likely be developed by Ruffian Games and release sometime next year, while we could see the much rumoured Forza Horizon 2 from Playground Games announced for September this year.

Third Party Blowout

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As with every Microsoft event, we can expect to see a whole host of third party publishers showing their wares. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has publicly stated that there will be a range of third party stuff on show. We expect that most of this will be stuff already announced or expected like Call of Duty: Advance Warfare and Fifa 15, but there could still be a few surprises.

In 2012 Square-Enix showed off Tomb Raider at the Microsoft gig, so it wouldn’t be that surprising for them reveal the follow up they’ve admitted that Crystal Dynamics are working on – or maybe even the next Deus Ex. Epic RPG The Witcher 3 was shown last year so maybe we could a deeper look at that. Talking of epic, we can only hope that we’ll finally get to see something on Fallout 4 – even if it’s just a logo and someone admitting it’s in development.

EA

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Despite holding their own event not long after Microsoft, Electronic Arts always have a big presence at Microsoft’s event. The big game from them this year is expected to be Star Wars: Battlefront III so expect to see an on stage demo of that along with some gameplay of Mirror’s Edge 2.

However, it remains to be seen if EA will be able to resist the temptation to roll out former Uncharted director Amy Hennig onto the stage to reveal the as yet unannounced Star Wars title she’s currently helming at Visceral.

Titanfall DLC & More

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This one’s a given, surely. The Xbox One’s killer app at present still has two lots of unannounced DLC. With the first Expedition pack sized at a disappointingly small three maps, we’re hoping that something more significant will be revealed for the future content. Maybe even the much talked about extra modes.

Talking of DLC, E3 could be the perfect place for Microsoft to reveal details of the planned Killer Instinct Season Two. After original developer Double Helix was purchased by Amazon for their new games division, development duties have passed to Divekick developer Iron Galaxy Studios, so it’d be good to see what’s coming next for the free to play fighter.

The Rest

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While it’s ‘all about the games’, there’s still bound to be a few mentions of things like Smartglass and the upcoming Xbox TV programming. The Xbox 360 is sure to get some love too, so expect to see a few games showcased for the last generation such as Borderlands The Pre-Sequel and Tales From The Borderlands.

Also, it’s probable that we’ll see Microsoft’s world building tool/game Project Spark shown in some capacity too, probably highlighting all the cool things the community has been doing with the beta.


So that’s how we think/hope the Microsoft showcase will go down. What would you like to see announced? Let us know in the comments below.

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8 Videogame Industry Myths Debunked

To an outsider, gaming culture can seem very alien and insular. As a result, the mainstream media is often accused of reporting on gaming through insulting stories told via outdated stereotypes. Even within the gaming community, some gamers rely on received wisdom for their opinions on the industry. We’ve decided to tackle the biggest myths both inside and outside the gaming community and show you why they’re just not true.

1. Platform holders set digital prices Ps4-price There’s not a week goes by without hearing gamers moan about Microsoft or Sony not having a clue when it comes to digital pricing. However, many gamers fail to realise that digital prices are actually set by game publishers and not the platform holders. So next time you balk at that £63 price tag for a digital copy of FIFA, shake your fist in the direction of good old EA – not Sony or Microsoft.

2. Digital games = Cheaper games DC1 As digital games continue to grow, the common belief is that games will be cheaper when available digitally. Unfortunately this is unlikely to be the case for several reasons. Currently, publishers see digital content as a premium product when they supply retail. Retailers don’t have to purchase stock up front and make money when the game sells and the digital codes are activated at the till. There’s no chance of a shop being stuck with 10,000 copies of a game destined for the Arizona desert. As a result publishers charge more for digital games and it’s usually cheaper for retailers to buy in physical stock of a game than to sell the digital versions.

Another reason digital games are unlikely to drop in price is that publishers already know what we’re willing to pay for physical copies. There’s no incentive for publishers to drop the price for the exact same game content, even if they don’t incur the manufacturing cost.

3. E3/Gamescom are for gamers mpu_e3logo_041019056662_640x360_id1370812937_1 Nearly all gamers dream of being able to attend events like E3 & Gamescom. However, should they ever get to attend, the reality might not be exactly what they expect. You see, the likes of E3 aren’t for Joe Public gamers at all. They’re trade shows set up for publishers to show off their upcoming delights in an effort to entice retailers to put stock on shelves and get journalists to hype up their games.

While there are a few pre-release games available to play on the show floor, the major titles are almost always shown behind closed doors to press and investors by appointment only. So those hoping to get hands on with hot newly announced titles are going to leave sorely disappointed. Frankly, you’re much better off enjoying the press conferences and direct feeds from the comfort of your own home.

4. Downloadable games = Smaller, lesser quality games homepage_slide_child_of_light_screenshot_village_127572 Personally, this is one I’ve never understood. Admittedly in the past, downloadable games have been limited via bandwidth issues and often have smaller budgets and development teams, but to dismiss them as outright inferior titles just doesn’t make sense.

Titles such as Shadow Complex, Torchlight and Dust: An Elysian Tail have proved that these smaller titles can easily hold their own against anything pressed onto physical media. Hopefully, this is one misconception that will die out soon as recent titles like Child of Light and Killer Instinct further showcase jut how good downloadable games can be.

5. Girls don’t play games! And if they do, they suck! female-gamer Another strange misconception. Seriously, is there any hobby that can solely be attributed to one gender or another? According to recent reports, up to 47% of gamers are female so to say that girls don’t play games (or that they suck at them) is both incredibly sexist and amazingly wrong.

Girls don’t just play cutesy casual games either, you’ll find the fairer sex tearing up the battlefields on everything from Call of Duty to Titanfall just as much as they will be enjoying Candy Crush and Peggle.

6. Gamers are anti-social shut ins southpark-nerd3 This is on of the biggest misconceptions from non-gamers stemming from the days when games were perceived to be for the sole pleasure of spotty teenagers holed up in dark bedrooms. Anyone who has ever been to a gaming expo will know only too well that this is complete rubbish and that we gamers love nothing more than getting together at every possible opportunity.

As scores of community driven sites can attest, gaming really does bring people together. If you’ve never been to an expo for fear of not knowing anyone, you’ll soon find that your fears are unwarranted as you’re thoroughly embraced by the gaming family.

7. Gaming makes you lazy and is bad for you surgery Another misconception by non-gamers is that gaming has some sort of detrimental effect on your health. Of course, your doctor is unlikely to encourage to you play 18 hours of COD a day, but there’s a surprising amount of health benefits that have been demonstrated by gaming.

Surgeons have been known to regularly play FPS titles in an effort to maintain hand/eye coordination and studies have also shown that exposing young children to gaming can even help them develop better object control motor skills. There’s also the educational benefits of videogames with several schools incorporating titles like Minecraft into lesson plans as a way to help build valuable social skills, learn about physics and develop creativity. Gaming has also been cited as beneficial in several different types of therapy, helping people cope with everything from pain relief to combating stress and depression.

8. The vocal minority represent us all mouth Let’s face facts: Unfortunately, some gamers are racist, sexist bigots and when given the opportunity to communicate with the wider world, decide to let everyone know about it. Even more unfortunately, these are the people that the mainstream media decide to use as representatives for all gamers.

We’ve all seen the Youtube comments or heard the vile abuse spouted through headsets on Xbox Live, but these small minority of idiots do not represent gamers as a whole no matter how hard the media try to portray us all in the same way.


As always let us know what you think in the comments below

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What Kind Of Gamer Are You?

While outsiders are quick to label all gamers under one general term, we are in fact a diverse bunch with very different tastes and opinions. Not all gamers play all games, and that is truly one of the beauties of our chosen past time.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a light hearted look at some of the common gamer types.

The Non-Gamer

Smile..

Smile.

The non-gamer is quick to identify themselves whenever they see you enjoying your favourite past-time, loudly proclaiming how you’re wasting your life away in front of a glowing monitor. The non-gamer can take many guises, usually that of a significant other or parent.

The ‘I’m not a gamer’ Gamer

Credit: BBC

Credit: BBC

These gamers are a conflicted bunch. Much like the non-gamer, they show an obvious disdain to our hobby and won’t be seen anywhere near a controller. However, stick a smart phone or tablet in their hand and they’ll tap away at Candy Crush for hours on end.

The Back Seat Gamer

SHUT UP!!

SHUT UP!!

With games becoming more and more cinematic, it has led to the rise of the back seat gamer. This gamer is happy to sit back and let you enjoy your favourite game passively, (until the game starts and they just can’t help but try and get involved). Worse still, is that they usually demand you only play your favourite story driven titles when they’re around to also enjoy them.

The Snob

Dapper...

Dapper…

Listening to this gamer, you’d think they hated playing games. Prior to every big game release they will proudly tell anyone who will listen how terrible it will be and how only idiots will get dragged into the hype yet again. Come release day however, a copy will somehow make its way into the snobs collection.

The Action Man Gamer

Make my day..

Make my day..

Winning is everything for this gamer. Everything is planned with pinpoint precision thanks to their (usually fictional) military record. They are often heard talking in riddles or barking orders about watching your six and taking point. Expect this gamer to have a strange obsession with face paint and camouflage, and prepare to be unfriended should you kill/death ratio drop below 1.0

The Taker

Oh look profit!!

Oh look profit!!

The Taker loves gaming and will happily tell everyone just how into games they are. Yet despite all of this love, they flat out refuse to contribute to the industry in any way. They will only buy pre-owned games or beg copies from friends, rather than actually support the industry they love so much.

The Artist

Just look at the watercolours

Just look at the watercolours

Often confused with The Snob, The Artist loves the finer things in gaming. They see games as an art form that should be savoured and absorbed. They can often be heard having in depth discussions about games that go on longer than a MGS cut-scene.

The Japanophile

There was a house in New Orleans

There was a house in New Orleans

This gamer is obsessed with anything Japanese. Give them moody teenagers and endless RPGS with bad voice acting over guns & explosions any day. You’ll never find this gamer at a midnight launch unless it’s for some strange dating sim featuring scantily clad overly sexualised schoolgirls.

The Collector

GPN Towers :) (not really)

GPN Towers :) (not really)

This type of gamer is cursed. Instead of playing games, they spend almost all of their free time buying them instead. Any other spare time is then spent telling everyone about their collection or assembling Ikea flat pack storage solutions.

The Glitcher

I'm so good at VidjaGamz

I’m so good at VidjaGamz

You know the game that a team of hard working devs have spent years shedding blood, sweat and tears to create? Well this gamer will devote all of their being poking holes in in order to exploit the game to their advantage. This gamer isn’t happy with the “out of the box” experience and instead tries to prove their gaming superiority by any means necessary.

The Hardcore Casual

Crossover time?

I know who my money would be on..

This gamer knows what they like, and that’s Call of Duty & Fifa. While most gamers snap up every title in sight, these gamers are more than happy to buy two games a year and play them to death.

The Podcaster
podcaster-no-text
This gamer is in an awkward position, they could just play the games they enjoy each week but instead they have to play everything possible to let their mass of listeners know about it. They will beg, borrow and steal (well, trade-in) in order to secure the latest titles, but eventually end up a little jaded from it all.

The Youtuber/Streamer
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Forget the games, it’s all about the views. This gamer will play absolutely anything if it will get them hits on their channel. Popular games will be torn a new one (usually in a funny voice), while terrible indie games will be proclaimed the single best form of entertainment ever made as this gamer struggles to find their niche.

The Games Writer

My new gaming keyboard..

My new gaming keyboard..

This gamer seemingly has the dream job, playing all the latest and greatest games before scribing a few words about them. However the reality for this gamer is they often spend far more time writing about games or watching Youtube videos about them than actually playing them. Even in the rare occasions they get a controller in hand it’s usually to play something terrible for an article rather than something they’d actually choose to play.


So what kind of gamer are you? Let us know in the comments below

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The Good, The Bad and The Crazy: Micro-Transactions

Whether you like them or not, micro transactions are here to stay. Once limited to free-to-play and mobile games, it seems the unpopular trend has now made it’s way over to consoles as more and more full retail games include some form of microtransaction.

But are they they really such a bad thing? Or are they just being handled in the wrong way? Development costs continue to rise as we embrace new technology, shouldn’t developers be allowed to find new ways to recoup costs instead of potentially hiking up the standard purchase cost of the game ?

We at GamePointsNow thought we’d take a look at some of the best, worst and downright crazy examples so far:

The Good

Cosmetics

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Allowing players to purchase purely optional cosmetic items that don’t affect gameplay is probably the best possible example of developers using microtransactions in games. Several free to play titles have adopted this model to great success, such as DOTA 2 and Team Fortress 2. Gamers love to customise everything in games, so the chance to spend a few pennies on a sweet skin for your rifle in shooty shooty bang bang game 11 is fine by us.

Best Examples: Team Fortress 2 & DOTA 2

Time Savers

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Not everyone has the time or the skill to unlock every available piece of content in a game. So the chance to pay a one off fee in order to access content that wouldn’t normally be available without a significant time investment can make sense. While some players dispute this model as unfair to players who have put time and effort into earning the items the hard (and fun!) way, the counter argument is that it’s unfair to those too time poor to to unlock everything.

The ability to level the playing field a little with things like Burnout Paradises time saver pack or being able to buy some in game currency allows those of us with precious little gaming time to experience later game content. These packs also prove the old adage that time really is money.

Best Example: Burnout Paradise’s Timesavers car pack

Haggling for DLC

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It’s fair to say Nintendo haven’t always seemed to get the online aspect of gaming, but with upcoming 3DS title Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball they are trying something completely new with their microtransactions. The free-to-play mini game collection allows players to complete favours for shopkeeper Rusty, in order to earn discounts when purchasing additional mini games for real money. If that’s not enough, you can even haggle to try and get a further reduction.

Best Example: Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball

The Bad

Random card packs

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Don’t get me wrong I love FIFA Ultimate Team. Its ability to recapture those days in the school playground buying and swapping football stickers with your mates no doubt goes a long way in explaining its phenomenal success. And being able to put together a team of your favourite players and challenge your mates online – so actually making use of your hard earned cards – is a fantastic feature. It’s just the way it’s handled that leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

FUT’s risk/reward structure for real money is a little too close to gambling for some, made even worse by the fact there is no age restriction on the game – leaving youngsters easily exposed. While you can buy the packs using the in game currency (should you be willing to put in the time), the fact you can pay real money for a second in game currency which you then exchange for random packs still stings

Worst Examples: Fifa Ultimate Team, Hearthstone

Pay to Win

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Any multiplayer game lives and dies by it balancing; even the slightest tweak could could greatly unbalance everything. Time saver packs can be a good thing if the game is balanced in such a way as to incorporate them, but tip that balance too far and it could dramatically upset the whole game for everyone. Allowing players instant access to the fastest cars or most powerful weapons in games without any form of regulation can soon put up a massive barrier to anyone unwilling to pony up the cash.

Worst Example: World of Tanks special edition super tanks

In Your Face

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Even the most well intentioned micro transaction can instantly become a bad thing if it’s repeatedly pushed in your face. You could have two games with an identical set of microtransactions but should one constantly prompt you for your hard earned pennies, it’s bound to eventually annoy. Sure, offer the player the opportunity to boost their XP or whatever once, but please don’t thrust it front and centre every chance you get.

Worst Example: Forza 5′s press Y to boost

The Crazy

Warframe – Prime Access Inferno

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While the contents you get in this pack aren’t that outrageous in the grand scheme of things, it’s the price that sets this one apart. I’m not entirely sure what’s ‘micro’ about something that costs £110, but if you’ve got more money then sense then you can grab yourself some in game currency, mods and other exclusives for for Digital Extreme’s cyber ninja free-to-play shooter.

Curiosity – Diamond Pickaxe

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As if creating a game that involves people all over the world frantically tapping the screen of their iPhone in some joint experiment to chip away at a virtual cube wasn’t enough, Peter Molyneux and his 22Cans studio also decided to charge £50,000 for a pickaxe that could remove virtual blocks 100,000 times faster than your chubby fingers. Sadly however its seems no-one took up the chance to part with such a sum for a virtual tool in a time limited game. Funny that.

Train Simulator

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While most would argue these are just DLC (aren’t all micro-transactions?) Railwork’s Train Sim wholeheartedly embraces the ‘micro’ part of ‘microtransaction’. You could easily shell out over £1000 on ‘in game content’ that adds very little aside from some different looking engines and varied views of the virtual countryside.

The Apathy Bear Gun – Gun Bros

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Another in game purchase that stomps all over the micro part of micro-transaction. IOS title Gun Bros features a gun that costs 3,999 “war bucks” which is the in game currency you can buy. However to attain such an amount of such currency you would need to purchase the top level £69.99 currency pack SIX TIMES!!! equating to roughly £419.94. Sadly this isn’t the first time publisher Glu Mobile has tried this practice in several of it’s freemium games. This type of practice is the worst type of abusive cash grab that’s targeted at the game’s biggest supporters.


How do you feel about Micro Transactions? Do they have a place in full retail games? or are they just another way for companies to try and exploit our money from us? Let us know in the comments below

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Could 2014 be the year the console First Person genre finally evolves?

For years gamers have cried out for more innovation within the FPS genre. While series like Call of Duty & Battlefield have dominated the sales charts throughout the last generation they have brought very little to the table in the way of innovation.

Many would argue the genre has rested on it’s laurels for far too long, preferring to deliver copy & paste reproductions rather than risk sales by trying new things, but with the introduction of new console hardware all that could be about to change.

Like most years, 2014 has a whole slew of FPS titles set for release. However, in contrast to most years, several of them appear to be attempting to introduce something new to the genre rather than the old move forward, shoot stuff mechanic of the past. In fact, more and more are foregoing the whole “shooter” aspect entirely.

We at GamePointsNow thought we’d take a look at just what some of this year’s big FPS titles are doing to try inject something new into a seemingly tired genre.

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Titanfall

To many, Titanfall is just Call of Duty with massive robots, but Respawn’s Titanfall is focusing on bringing back one of the core reasons many of us play games in the first place – FUN. Titanfall is a pure blast to play and that’s exactly how they want it. Forget the resolution and textures, look past the lack of realistic destruction and enjoy it for what it is: a fun videogame.

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Alien: Isolation

After the mess that was Colonial Marines, The Creative Assembly have a lot of work to restore gamers’ faith in the Alien franchise, but with Alien: Isolation, they appear to be pushing further than that. In fact, they are taking the ‘shooter’ out of first person shooter. Instead, choosing to focus on making the game feel like an authentic Alien experience akin to the classic first movie.

The Total War developers have also taken the bold step of including just one enemy in the game in an effort to ramp the tension levels right up, – citing the fact that in the movie the Alien was only actually on screen for around 3 minutes as an influence for this. While first person horror games are nothing new, done right Alien: Isolation could be a real game changer.

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Evolve

Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock is once again out to redefine the co-operative FPS landscape. While their former title involved you and your mates teaming up against a seemingly endless horde of the undead, Evolve strips everything right back to the point that there’s just a single monster. Evolve’s big hook however is that this monster is player controlled and the other four players have to team up in order to hunt them down before they themselves are picked off Predator style. It’s promising to be true hunter vs hunted gameplay at its best.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order

It’s fair to say that FPS games have become a tad serious in recent years. It seems like not a week goes by where we aren’t presented with some “ gritty, realistic” military shooter aiming to show us the “horrors of war” but MachineGames are having none of that with their version of one of the genres defining titles. Wolfenstein: TNO is all about balls to the wall action and action packed lunacy as it mixes next gen technology and old school shooter mechanics in order to deliver a new, old experience.

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Destiny

An open world science fiction FPS from the makers of Halo? A lot of people will instantly get on board with that, but it’s good to see Bungie are pushing the genre and not resting on their laurels. Although Bungie are refusing to call Destiny an out & out MMO, it’s pretty hard not to get that feeling when you hear them talk about it. Phrases such as “dynamic developing experience” and “shared world shooter” have already made Destiny one of 2014′s most anticipated releases

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Daylight

Zombie studios Daylight might look like a carbon copy of recent PS4 hit Outlast at first glance, but the studio responsible for the Saw videogames has a lot more up their sleeves than most FPS titles. This survival horror game sacrifices out and out combat in favour of a number of truly innovative features. Each new game will bring a whole new game world with random content and encounters such as Zombie aim to bring the procedurally generated mechanics of games like Sperlunky to the FPS genre, resulting in a completely new experience everytime you play.

Daylight is also looking to be one of the first games to truly harness the power of Twitch streaming; Audiences watching online streams of the game will be able to directly interact with the player by typing certain commands into the chat which will then result in a range of events occurring in game.

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Gone Home

The Fullbright Company’s indie darling is making it’s way to consoles later this year after wowing PC audiences on release last year. While many will argue it’s more of an experience than a game, it’s focus on storytelling and the ways in which it delivers its narrative has proven that there is a place for deep, emotional stories in a genre more akin to mindless violence and over the top action.


What first person games are you looking forward to in 2014? Could new innovation breathe life into a tired genre, or do you feel it’s fine as it is? Let us know your thoughts or ideas in the comments below, via Facebook or on Twitter (@TeamGPN)

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Second sight: Time to take your tablets

While secondary screens in gaming have been around since the 80s in some form, more and more developers are now choosing to implement second screen functionality in games as powerful tablets, mobile phones and other hardware find their way into our homes. And with the launch of next-gen consoles, it looks like it could be something that’s here to stay.

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Nintendo lead the way when it comes to spreading games across multiple screens. Ever since the Game & Watch series launched in the 1980s, the big N have actively embraced dual screens. Buoyed by the unrivalled success of the DS and 3DS handhelds Nintendo decided to go all out in their support for the second screen experience by making it the key component of their Wii U home console. Previously, most DS based second screen functions had been limited to a map, inventory or control screen, but the Wii U brought something new to the table: off screen play.

Nintendo truly picked up the ball and ran with it. While the Wii U hasn’t exactly set the world alight sales-wise, it has shown how important a feature a second screen could be. The ability to play your games on a screen other than the TV was used as a huge selling point for the Wii U, even though it’s a feature that’s not actually available in a lot of titles. When it is available, however, it works like a dream and it’s not hard to see why other companies are taking notice.

Perhaps ‘inspired’ by Nintendo, Sony has also started to embrace off-screen play via its remote play feature. While the feature was present on PS3, very few games supported it. This time round, it’s integral to the console as Sony have mandated that almost every PS4 game will be required to work via remote play (bar games that implement the Playstation camera). Although your experience relies on your home network setup (and requires you buy a Vita), early reports have been favourable.

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Microsoft, however, are taking a different approach to the second screen experience. Whereas its rivals are allowing players to take their big screen experience onto a smaller one, Microsoft’s Smart Glass application is all about enhancing the overall experience by taking advantage of technology the majority of users already own.

Smart Glass is currently only implemented in a handful of titles and apps but it does show the most promise, should it be implemented properly. Current applications of the technology range from the ability to control apps such as Netflix and Youtube (as you can on the Wii U) to implementing whole new gameplay mechanics and bonuses in Dead Rising 3.

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Other companies are also embracing the Microsoft style companion application. Both EA and Ubisoft have released companion apps to compliment their games on next gen platforms, even making certain aspects playable away from your console. Ubisoft is also planning to integrate second screen technology into its upcoming Watch Dogs title, with the developer promising the ability to influence other people’s games while you are away from your console.

It’s not just in gaming that second screen technology is being used either; everything from TV shows to ebooks & magazines are offering companion apps in some form or another. Gaming certainly offers up the most potential for interactivity, but it will certainly be interesting to see how other usages develop. In the meantime, we’ll be watching just how long the big three platform holders decide to support their various uses of the technology and asking: Is it really time to take to your tablets?


Have you used any second screen companion apps? How have you found remote play so far? Should the Wii U ditch the game pad? Let us know in the comments below, via Facebook or on Twitter

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Will next-gen gaming kill couch co-op?

Remember the days when playing a video game with your friends meant actually having to leave the house? The days of you and your mates huddled round a luminous portable bedroom TV clutching at an array of unofficial controllers seem so far away.

From classic games like Double Dragon and Gauntlet, to winner stays on sessions on Sensible Soccer and FIFA; same screen co-op has been a mainstay of gaming since consoles first appeared. However, could the next generation consoles see an end to couch co-op once and for all?

Remember this?

Remember this?

Performance

You have to wonder if features such as single screen multiplayer will get left behind as developers pursue higher resolutions and faster frame rates on next-gen systems. While games like Halo, Borderlands and the Lego franchises have shown that it can still be a popular feature amongst gamers, it’s also a drain on resources that developers could be inclined to focus elsewhere.

In the past, developers would make same screen multiplayer a key part (and selling point) of the game. But with gamers now demanding cutting edge graphics and 60fps in their next-gen games and developers struggling to meet that, split screen may not be technically possible to achieve anymore. With development costs on the rise too, is it worth teams spending time and resources on a feature that only a minority of players will ever use?

Anything you can do...

Anything you can do…

Online

Services like Xbox Live make getting together easier than ever before, without the need to be in the same location. Couch co-op is all about the personal connection, sharing in moments and the “did you see that?” experiences. Yet advancements in online technology make all this possible via the internet. You may have noticed that both next gen systems have a heavy social focus, allowing you to easily share your gaming experiences with the world quickly and easily. This all stems from the days when multiplayer meant being together in one location and makes the virtual world a much smaller place.

More than anything, online gaming offers convenience. When you’re young, it’s much easier to have mates round for a gaming session. But in this modern world of jobs, partners and families bidding for our attention it’s not as easy to group up with your buddies on the sofa. Online, you can be playing with people all over the world within minutes of switching on your console whenever you want and wherever your mates are.

Having players connecting online is also beneficial to developers too. Chiefly, they can monitor player habits and so allow them to tailor game modes. There’s also the benefit of having no performance related drawbacks; each player having their own screen and console means the developer can optimise that experience for each player without having to worry about hardware limitations. The extra sales can’t hurt either.

Colours!!!!!

Colours!!!!!

Will it come back?

There is hope, however. While genres like sports and fighters have always been the go-to games for those of us who want to share a screen, a few developers are still embracing it in other ways. Travellers Tales’ Lego series is often held up as the very best example of games that support multiple players on a single screen, and most Nintendo games feature an element of same-screen multiplayer.
While there’s demand for these types of games, there’s hope that the demand will be met. It may no longer be by the AAA development houses, but by genre specific developers, or those nimbler Indie developers who can afford to target a smaller, niche audience. But it’s unlikely that couch gaming will ever be the force in the industry that it was 15-20 years ago.

For years, people have said that the world is getting smaller due to the rise of technology. Unfortunately from a gaming perspective, we could be getting further apart.


Do you miss couch co-op? Do you still play with friends/children in the same room? What’s your go to couch co-op game? Let us know in the comments below, via Twitter or Facebook.

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The 10 Downloadable games we’re most excited about in 2014

2014 is shaping up to be an awesome year for gaming, with so many triple A titles set to flex their muscles on shiny next-gen machines.

But with all the focus on the Titanfalls and Destinies of the world, it’s easy to forget about the little guys, who without doubt will offer some of the best gaming experiences available this year. At GamePointsNow, we thought we’d showcase some of the best games that will be competing for your bandwidth this year.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth – PS4/Vita/PC

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The Binding of Isaac : Rebirth sees the top down Zelda inspired rogue bestseller from Super Meat Boy co -creator Edmund McMillen finally make its way to consoles. Featuring all the creepy randomly generated dungeons of the original flash game (along with some extras bells and whistles), it’s certainly shaping up to unlike anything else you’ll play this year.

Everybody’s gone to the Rapture – PS4

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This spiritual successor to Dear Esther centres around six characters in a Shropshire village during the apocalypse. Developer The Chinese Room is promising a story driven experience with more interaction than their previous work when this Playstation 4 exclusive releases sometime this year.

Tales From the Borderlands

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An episodic game from Telltale based on the hit Borderlands series already sounds like a winner to us. The opportunity to spend more time with some of the craziest characters in gaming is incredibly appealing, and that’s without Telltale’s trademark writing behind it. Although not much is known at this point (including the release platforms), a Game of Thrones series also lined up – so 2014 could be a very good year for Telltale Games (and gamers).

Hohokum – PS3/PS4/Vita

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Hohokum is a strange one. It’s a game with very few objectives or restrictions, instead choosing to focus on providing a calm and relaxing experience for the player to enjoy at their leisure. If you just like to get lost in game and explore at your leisure then maybe Hohokum is for you.

Project Spark – Xbox One/360/Windows 8

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Project Spark is Microsoft’s latest attempt at encouraging user generated content on its platforms. You will be able to use everything from a controller to a tablet device or even your PC to create your very own game worlds, and share them with your friends across platforms. Whether or not gamers will actually embrace the tools at their disposal is another thing, but you can’t deny it has huge potential.

Super Time Force – Xbox One/360

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At its heart, Super Time Force is a bullet hell shooter with a twist. Playing as members of The Super Time Force you are sent back through time to prevent the dinosaurs becoming extinct. The twist being that after each death, your previous selves remain in the game to assist you leading to an element of strategy. Plus you get to fire rockets at giant mech dinosaurs!

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number – PS4/Vita/PC

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Uber violent 2D action game Hotline Miami returns this year with its much anticipated sequel. Set both before and after the original game, Wrong Number is set to wrap up the series once and for all. Featuring the same colourful art style and awesome soundtrack, Hotline Miami 2 is set to earn as many plaudits are the original did (and then some).

The Witness – PS4/PC

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Jonathan Blow’s follow-up to indie hit Braid is a first person exploration puzzle game set on a deserted island. While initial footage has only shown off a selection of line based puzzles alongside the gorgeous looking environment, you can be sure the often lampooned Blow has much more up his sleeve.

D4 (Dark Dreams Don’t Die) – Xbox One

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As you’d expect from the developer behind Deadly Premonition, D4 is shaping up to be a pretty unique experience for the Xbox One. The cell shaded episodic title sees you playing as a time travelling private investigator trying to prevent his wife’s murder. The game is also set to be one of the first titles to really embrace Kinect as a serious control option. While its use is optional you will be able to start conversations by talking or even inspect your surroundings by leaning forward and looking around.

Below – Xbox One

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Not much is known about Capybara’s second Xbox One exclusive (Super Time Force being the other) but Head of Microsoft Studio’s Phil Spencer describes the randomly generated game as “ a creative take on roguelike gameplay in a mysterious world”. Jim Guthrie once again teams up with the developer. after their work together on the excellent Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP – so expect a gorgeous soundtrack.


Did we miss any? Let us know what else you’re looking forward to in the comments below, via Twitter or on Facebook

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