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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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PC DVD Rom Logo The games of E3 Part 5: PC

You can use a computer for games too? Wow!

Tue, 21 June 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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Finally, I have reached the end of my E3 games coverage! There was Part 1 for PSP, Part 2 for Gamecube, Part 3 for DS/GBA and Part 4 for Xbox/PS2. So go check those out if you didn’t already. Now we move on to the PC games.

Do you own a PC? If not, maybe you should try and steal the one you are using to read this. No, don’t do that, I’ll get sued. Or maybe you’re using a Mac. If so, you must have pretty good taste and a whole lot of money.

The PC is always going to be at the cutting edge of technology for those who can afford to keep their systems constantly upgraded. As a gaming platform it really is the most versatile system and offers the greatest range of different types of games. Even some of the next generation console games are already slated to appear on PC as well, which goes to show how quickly the format can catch up to whatever the home systems put out there. Here are some of the titles they had at the big show in LA.

George Romero’s City of the Dead:

Publisher: Hip Games
Developer: Kuju Entertainment

This game is looking sweet. I can’t wait to actually play it. Everything about it leads me to believe the George Romero fans are going to love City of the Dead. Plenty of people who haven’t even seen any of Romero’s films will probably love the game too.

This is a First Person Shooter with the emphasis on Shooter. That’s what you’ll be doing an awful lot of; shooting zombie after zombie after zombie. And, damn it all, that sounds like fun to me. There are five different characters that you will play as in City of the Dead and each of them has at least one thing in common; they are stuck in a City crawling with the walking dead. The best thing to do in a situation like that is, of course, shoot first and ask questions later.

Some news that will excite the fans is that one of the playable characters in the game is Tom Savini. Tom is very well known to zombie/horror fans as both an actor and a special effects master. He’s also been involved with making sure the games gore is up to scratch. Attention to detail, that’s the kind of thing all geeks love.

What should help make this sucka extra cool are the great weapons. Shotguns and grenades and explosions galore, that’s always good with me. But here you can actually make some adjustments and cave in some zombie heads with style. Strap a shovel onto your shotgun, for instance, and smash away with all your might. All good!

After watching the game in action I would say that it isn’t the most graphically impressive title around (not so far at least) but they are doing an excellent job of getting the atmosphere right. It truly does have the right feel to it; the camera angles and the use of shadows etc. it all looks very much in keeping with the movies. That is not such a big surprise when you consider that George Romero himself has been overseeing this thing (they didn't whack his name onto the game's title just for shits and giggles).

There’s quite a wait still left for George Romero’s City of the Dead. It isn’t set for release until next year, but that’s ok because it already looks pretty funky and will only get even better by then. There’ll be versions of the game on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox also, but the PC version is likely to be the best.

Duke Nukem Forever:

Publisher: Gathering
Developer: 3D Realms

Nah, I’m just kidding. Next!

Black & White II:

Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Lionhead Studios

It is always fun to play God once in a while. Gamers have been doing that for many years now, all the way back to titles like Populous (another Peter Molyneux game).

Good old pommy Pete is bringing us a sequel to the last Black & White (actually the plan is to release five Black & White games all told apparantly, but let's just concerntrate on the ones that already exist for now), but this time it will be...umm, better. And it will have the Roman numeral "II" in its title.

Looks pretty freaking nice though, that’s for sure. This isn’t some little thrown together update either. They’ve completely re-written the entire engine and started over. There is a massive amount of work being put into it and I expect it to be a damn fine game once they are finally through with it.

It is going to be almost like two games in one, because wether you play as good or evil will heavily alter the style of the gameplay. Good guys have to slave away and construct a beautiful city which will attract more, and more people and keep building things up through hard work and making the people’s lives more rewarding. If you choose to be evil the game will become far more battle oriented; using a real-time strategy approach, you must use your might to keep everyone in line and crush all those who dare to oppose you. Either way, get the coffee ready when this game comes out, because you’ll be up for many a late night if you hope to succeed.

The huge creatures will be back too and looking much better than ever before. They’ll also be much smarter and able to learn a variety of more useful skills.

There’s really too much to cover when it comes to Black & White II for me to do it justice here. But just trust me when I say that it is shaping up extremely well and will probably even win over some new fans when it reaches the shelves.

Company of Heroes:

Publisher: THQ
Developer: Relic

Like many people, I’d usually say that yet another World War II themed game is the absolute last thing the world needs. But when the game in question looks like Company of Heroes, that smug dismissal goes flying right out the window and is replaced by welcoming arms…and a puddle of drool. This one isn’t a FPS…thankfully! Listen to me here clearly please developers: WE HAVE ENOUGH WWII FIRST PERSON SHOOTERS ALREADY! (That isn’t going to help, I know. People are still buying them, so for that reason they’ll just keep making the things. And I can’t really blame them for trying to make a living).

Anyway, Company of Heroes is a Real Time Strategy game, but it is a very action packed one and has so many additions/improvements to the formula that it might just revolutionize the genre. The game’s presentation is highly cinematic and, as that puddle of drool comment I made would indicate, basically this game is stunning to look at.

The engine powering this game is a new one Relic created which they call "Essence" and, man, what a beast of an engine it is! Incredibly realistic physics are on display as buildings get reduced to rubble and dust clouds the air. The camera zooms in on an individual soldier and he too is rendered in fine detail and moves like a living human being. The level of detail there is to every part of the game's world is quite staggering. Yeah, this is some thoroughly impressive stuff in every respect.

As for the gameplay, well Relic is promising an experience that engages the player just as much, or more than any war movie in terms of caring about the men you lead. The idea is that this is going to be the most satisfying and lifelike RTS game ever made and from what I’ve seen, that doesn’t seem like an unreasonable boast.

Company of Heroes is another title that isn’t due out until some time in 2006, but I expect it will be well worth the wait.

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey:

Publisher: Funcom
Developer: Funcom

This is a sequel/follow up of sorts to a "point and click" adventure game from about five years ago called The Longest Journey. Dreamfall is due out before the end of this year and will also be available on the Xbox. This time around the game fuses that adventure game narrative style with a more action oriented type of gameplay.

Dreamfall is set in Casablanca in the year…I forget which year, but it is some time in the future. You’ll be controlling at least three different people in the game, the first of which is a young lady by the name of Zoe Castillo.

The game has a very stylish look about it and the storyline sounds as though it will be several notches above typical video-game plots. The way Funcom is merging various kinds of genres into something of a whole new type of game should make Dreamfall: The Longest Journey appealing to a wide ranging audience.

I never played the first Longest Journey game, but I hope to make amends and not miss out on Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. It looks like a very interesting and original kind of game.

Fable: The Lost Chapters:

Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Lionhead Studios

Yeah, this is the PC port of the (mostly)highly acclaimed Xbox Role Playing Game with improved graphics and a bunch of other goodies thrown in for good measure.

Basically The Lost Chapters just has more of everything; 9 new regions to explore, 16 new quests, more choices when communicating with non-player characters, new weapons, new armour and so on. They are also optimising the control for mouse and keyboard and tightening the game up in pretty much every single area.

Graphically it already looks vastly superior running on PC and with all these other additions and tweaks Fable: The Lost Chapters is likely going to be a killer RPG. One to look forward to, both for players new to Fable and fans of the Xbox version, when it hits the stores some time later this year.

Quake 4:

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven Software

Quake is back! At least, it will be soon. Alarm bells may have been sounding for some when they heard that Raven was handling this one, rather than id themselves, but it would seem that those concerns were unnecessary. Quake 4 is looking very promising indeed.

Graphically it looks fantastic, as you would expect since it uses the Doom 3 engine. It looks quite similar to Doom 3 in many ways, but some of the levels have a much grander scale, with a truly epic feel to them at times. Quake 4’s visuals look to me like Doom 3 mixed with some elements of the movie Starship Troopers and the designs of the old Quake titles. However you choose to describe it though, it works. It works really, really well.

The game is going to focus strongly on its plot. The story kicks off directly after the events of Quake II. It will be a distinctly sci-fi kind of tale all about the evil forces known as the Strogg. You play as a character called Matthew Kane, who is a space marine...what’s up with these space marines? What a shitty job they have, nothing ever goes smoothly for them.

A new twist to the classic Quake gameplay is the fact that you’ll now often be accompanied by squad mates, which sounds a bit like a little game called Halo to me. Anyhow, these soldiers will all have their own personalities and, as well as helping you destroy the monstrous and sometimes massive Strogg enemies, they will help flesh out the game’s story and add some emotional layers to the proceedings.

One of the coolest things that happens in the game is that Kane gets captured and (reminiscent of Darth Vader) given mechanical arms and legs and various other things by the Strogg. But just before they take his mind away, he is rescued. From this point on you have a whole bunch of kick arse new abilities.

There will be multi-player action in Quake 4 too, but that side of the game was not being shown at E3.

All told, this should be a fantastic game. It will also be available on the upcomming Xbox 360.

Myst V: End of Ages:

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Cyan Worlds

This is to be the final Myst game ever, at least so they say. One thing that was immediately apparent is that Myst V will be visually spectacular.

You know...I’m going to have to come clean here and admit that I have never played any of the Myst games. There’s just something about them that seems awfully pretentious and wanky to me. It is probably because of a couple of people I used to know who liked the games and those people were...pretentious and wanky.

For all I know though, the Myst games could be really great. I can’t judge something I’ve never tried. If this one happens to come Buttonhole’s way I’ll be sure to give it a fair go and play it properly before I review it.

Before that though, due to this lack of knowledge I have about the series, I can’t really tell you too much about Myst V: End of Ages.

I watched some footage of it and it looked all mysterious (is that why it is called Myst?) and, as I said, graphically magnificent. Other than that, I honestly have no clue and I’m not going to make something up and waste your time pretending I know what I’m talking about.

Some of other PC games shown at E3: Serious Sam II, Call of Duty 2, Star Wars: Empire at War, Heroes of Might and Magic V, Blood Magic, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and several hundred others.

Rightio then, the PC had an enormous number of games on display. As well as titles that are exclusive to the format, most of the big console games are going to be ported to PC as well. Most popular of all seemed to be the massive amount of Real Time Strategy games and what seemed like thousands of Online RPGs. So, if you are into either of those genres, you should be set for the next 300 years or so.

I’ll also be posting an article about the games for the next generation consoles (some of those were shown at E3 too) some time soon, so keep an eye out for that.

by: Hillelman

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ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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