Guess What’s Coming Back!

5 10 2010
Microsoft Flight Title Screenshot

Welcome back! Microsoft Flight.

At Gamescom 2010 last August, Microsoft announced the revival of the Flight Simulator series with a new product called “Microsoft Flight”!

This comes as wonderful surprise following the sad news of the ACES studio closure last January. Apparently Microsoft decided to bring the series back. But this time, it will be developed by Microsoft’s own Game Studios.

Here’s an excerpt from the official press announcement:

… Microsoft also announced the development of “Microsoft Flight,” a new entry inspired by the best-selling “Microsoft Flight Simulator” franchise. Published by Microsoft Game Studios …

“Today, we’re bringing powerful, inventive gaming experiences to the Windows-based PC,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. “Over the years, our PC heritage captured the hearts and minds of millions of players. Reinventing these iconic franchises with social, shared experiences at their core marks the beginning of our return to PC gaming in bold new ways.”

Twenty-eight years after the debut of “Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0,” Microsoft Game Studios also announced the internal development of “Microsoft Flight,” a new Windows exclusive. “Microsoft Flight” will bring a new perspective to the long-standing genre, welcoming everyone, including long-time fans, to experience the magic of flight.

No details are announced at this moment, as Microsoft seems to be starting a long-running marketing campaign for the new game. And will uncover details as time passes, but I’m guessing that it’s going to be a long-time before they start announcing features and specifics about them. The only official info available is the official website. There’s a couple of teaser videos and a FAQ page that doesn’t actually reveal much!

Anyway, here are my thoughts about the new product:

I am worried about 2 facts: The removal of the word “Simulator” from the title, and the “new perspective” issue in the press announcement. Most fans are worried that this product will bring an end to the simulation factor that we loved in the previous products (FS9 and FSX). I am sure MS will not do this, because the simulation is a core feature that they cannot abandon, especially after the long running development time spent on older products.

At the start of the development cycle of “Microsoft Flight” MS already has the code for a highly detailed flight simulation engine (flight model), and an accurate scenery database that covers the whole world, and most of its airports. In addition to many 3rd party addons and a HUGE fan base. So, my guess is that MS will only concentrate on the following features while leaving the simulation part intact:

– A revamped graphics engine, supporting all major rendering technologies. Which will probably result in a loss of backward compatibility.

– A more versatile Missions engine, with an integrated mission editor.

– Multiplayer enhancements.

– Some sort of an arcade mode, which actively reduces realism factors and makes the game much easier for beginners (i.e. H.A.W.X.).

Anyway, no matter how things go, I am so excited about this announcement, and can’t wait to get a hands-on experience!





Game of the Month: Mirror’s Edge!

1 02 2009

Yes.. Even though the year is just starting, I think we already have a winner on our hands.

Mirror’s Edge is actually a “running game”. A game where running and momentum is your main and primary weapon. If you know what “Parkour” is, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s basically a Parkour simulation.

Mirror’s Edge is hard to categorize, maybe an action adventure would be the closest match. But that’s not an issue.

The strongest point of the whole game is the ability to transfer the Parkour experience to your living room, with basically the same adrenaline rush that usually come with it.

The exceptional visual design is also a true example of those games that are able to convey an artistic message. It also plays a vital role in the overall immersing gaming experience. The use of strong, contrasting colors is a clever innovative technique that was used to highlight the route that you have to take throughout the game, and also to represent your mission, or more precisely your goal to bring back the stolen colors to a monochromatic world.

The game uses a beautifully crafted first-person perspective. Which is crucial to the experience, and really puts you in charge of your character’s movement and momentum. It is so close -in general- to the game “Portal”, released last year. Bringing the same jaw-dropping experience through a totally new gameplay concept. I believe it’s going to be as much influential to game design as Portal was.

Mirror’s Edge deserves an award for being innovative, and for offering a simplistic yet clean and efficient visual presentation. For more information on the game, check out the official website.

Pros:

  • Stunning visual presentation.
  • Great innovative gameplay experience.
  • Fluid and realistic animation.
  • Great musical score, and SFX.

Cons:

  • Story mode is a bit short.
  • Not enough information on the main characters.
  • Too much gun combat.
A screenshot from Mirrors Edge

A screenshot from Mirror's Edge





Raptr, Social Network For Gamers

8 09 2008

Raptr (currently in Beta stage) is a new social networking website dedicated to gamers, and gamers only.

It aims to connect gamers together through the games they own and play. The interface is similar to Facebook. With a profile, friends, and inbox pages. And of course the almighty Games page, where you show off your own games to your friends.

Facebook already provides similar features to everyone through the use of applications. So, what’s new about Raptr? What makes it so unique?

Actually, Raptr has a few interesting and unique features up its sleeves:

First off, it is custom designed for gamers only. With that in mind, it has many features that are unique to gamers, and to gamers’ social habits. Like game recommendations, reviews, and user videos.

Raptr offers a client software that resides on your PC. This client searches automatically for games installed on your PC and adds them to your profile. It also logs your gaming habits for each and every game you own and play.

The client also provides instant updates about you to many other social network websites. For example, when you run a game on your PC, the Raptr client can automatically send an update to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. So your friends will be able to join you while you’re still playing for a multiplayer session. Or they may leave their comments on you, or the game you’re playing.

The most important feature offered by Raptr’s client IMHO is the ability to collect statistics from gamers all around the world about so many games, so that when you check a game’s Raptr page, it will show you how many players had played this game, when they played it, and for how long they did play. So, by comparing different stats with your friends on the network, Raptr is able to provide recommendations to players based on their friend’s stats and on your own gaming preferences. Which is an awesome feature!

And with a larger user base, Raptr will be able to even recommend some potential friends, based on similarities between you and them. Which would help to connect gamers together, thereby fulfilling the social networking purpose of the site.

Currently, Raptr is in Beta stage, so it’s still under development. And it still has some few quirks that needs to be sorted out. But nonetheless I think it has a great chance of becoming a major player in the social networking (or Web 2.0) world.

I tried it and installed the client, and I’m liking it so far. You can visit my Raptr profile page here: http://raptr.com/GFX

Pros.:

– Great concept.

– Streamlined website design (navigation, performance).

– The game’s statistics page.

Cons.:

– Game thumbnails are too large (more than 120 KBs). I assume it will be fixed in the Beta stage.

– The software client eats a large chunk of system memory (+30 MBs).

– A relatively small user base. Public Beta stage started only a week ago.





Bioshock.. Freedom Within..

10 08 2008

I have just finished playing Bioshock on the PC. I know it’s an old game, but I was hesitating to play it when it came out because it was such a creepy game, I couldn’t play for more than 30 mins sessions! I wasn’t really enjoying myself. And because I’m not a typical FPS gamer. Especially not the survival thrillers.

But, I read a lot about this game, lots of articles mentioned how this game had such a great artistic value, and an emotional story. So, being a strong fan for mature games that actually pay attention to art (more on that in an upcoming post), I just had to play it no matter what. So I reinstalled it, and started it all over. This time with a totally different mentality.

In Bioshock, you play the role of a man who was on a plane over the Atlantic. The game starts after the plane crash-lands in the middle of the ocean, and you’re the only survivor. Next to the crash site is an entrance, the entrance to an underwater city named “Rapture”.

Rapture was built by the mysterious “Andrew Ryan”, a man who believes in freedom. A man who had a dream, a great dream. To escape all kinds of governments, laws, and typical world conspiracies, and build his own city underwater! A city where everything is permitted, where the scientist could do his research without interruption, pressure, and administration. Where the artist could create art unafraid of boundaries, and censorship.

Rapture is basically a place for everyone to live independently, enjoy their freedom, and forget the mishaps of the outside world! And as “Andrew Ryan” himself would put it; “It was not impossible to build Rapture on the bottom of the ocean, it was impossible to build it anywhere else!”

Read the rest of this entry »





FSX Likes Vista!

14 07 2008

Tried Microsoft Flight Simulator X on Windows Vista the other day, and to my surprise, it runs much faster than Windows XP! Much faster equaling more than 10 FPS increase!

I was so surprised actually, but loved the fact that I can now try all the new wonders of DX10 (I have the Acceleration Xpack installed). The game looks prettier now, and runs faster, what more could I ask for?!?!?

In case you were wondering about the settings, I have:

– Scenery complexity set at very dense.

– Autogen at Normal.

– Water set to 2.0 Max.

– Ground scenery shadows on.

– Light bloom on + AA + Aniso.

– Traffic at 20%.

I have to mention that setting the framerate lock to unlimited brought additional performance to the game, also about 10 FPS increase. For some unknown reason, the game runs slower even if I set the FPS cap at 60 FPS.

Well, it doesn’t even matter how I got this extra performance boost. For now, I’ll just sit and fly!! Oh, and by the way, a big thank you to the guys at ACES Studios, great job..





GRID, An Addictive Experience

4 06 2008

Codemasters prove themselves again as the masters of race games. The Colin Mcrae rally series, DIRT, and now: GRID!

GRID appears first as an arcade racer, but proves to be much more than that. It’s a whole experience, with different race disciplines, and various car classes.

Adding to the whole experience is a fantastic visual representation. The new game engine is wonderful, great effects, great physics.

The game stays away from strict simulation racing, moving towards a more casual style. Opening the game to a wider audience, including those who use the keyboard, like myself.

So, all in all, it’s a wonderful game and a huge success. Rated 8/10.





CPU+GPU Upgrade Benefits

4 06 2008

A great and extensive article on Tom’s Hardware shows the benefit of upgrading either the CPU or the GPU, or even both. It concentrates mostly on gaming performance between different hardware parts, indicating some cheaper parts that offer almost the same performance.

Read it here: GPU vs. CPU Upgrade – Tom’s Hardware

If you’re planning to upgrade, I strongly suggest you read that article. It could save you lots of money.