Saturday, 4 February 2012

King Arthur 2 The Role-Playing Wargame

Hello once again everybody! KupaRizu here and this week I’ve been spending my time on the Action/RPG/RTS mash-up that is King Arthur II: The Role-Playing Game. Developed by Neocore games and published by Paradox Interactive, this sequel to King Arthur: The Roleplaying-War Game has big boots to fill to compare to its big brother, but how did it do? Read on and find out now!

The story of King Arthur 2 follows rather nicely from the original with the land of Britannia in a state of peace and tranquillity from your actions in the past. However darkness soon overcomes the land as an ancient evil tears the kingdom apart, mortally wounding the great King Arthur in the intro sequence, leaving his Son, who has lived in seclusion until now, to lead a group of adventurers and heroes around the nation, recruiting armies, solving quests and murdering demons that now plague the land.

King Arthur II is an RPG and Military Strategy game rolled into one, switching between beautifully stylised text based “Choose your own Adventure” sections, a beautified “Quest Select” screen, disguised as a open-world map of Britannia, and Empire: Total War style epic battles.

The text based sections have a unique charm in their art style and tell a brilliant story, however this is where my first complaint comes in; the voice-acting. The narrator breaths heavily in between every sentence, talks in an overly rough voice and exaggerates the wrong words in sentences, thus ruining the atmosphere for me. While I’m sure I would soon get used to it, I ended up turning off the speakers and reading it all myself, so be warned, the narrator is terrible. But don’t go thinking that the text based sections are terrible in themselves, oh no, they are the best, and least glitchy parts of the game.

 I’m not going to go into too much detail about the overworld screen because there isn’t much to say, it’s just a pretty way of selecting which quest to go on, or which army to fight via a series of right clicks, nothing more.

The main area that you will see in the game is the combat sections, fights have been ramped up from the first game with the engine now capable of rendering 4,000 combatants in a single battle, and directing armies in their 1,000s is a real fun thing to do. King Arthur II uses the good old RTS theory of the Infantry->Archer->Cavalry triangle, while cleverly mixing it up with new additions of flying enemies. While this all sounds awesome the AI is so ridiculously stupid that even on “Nightmare”, the hardest difficulty, where you will be outnumbered, out-magicked and outside of any strategic strong point the combat is still boring and way too easy. I play a lot of RTS games, and I know how good a victory feels when it’s prised from the gaping depths of destruction, when you’re down to just five men and a tank, storming the enemy stronghold, taking it apart slowly while dodging their much superior defences and attacks, until you eventually destroy every last unit and building they own. I never got anything close to that feeling in King Arthur II, the closest I got was losing 120 men to their 1400 in a map so stacked against me a monkey could’ve beaten Sun Tzu on it!

Another rather gaping problem with King Arthur is the glitchyness of it, every two-or-three battles I would get a Crash to Desktop with no warnings or error messages, my only option being to restart the game from the beginning of the battle. Also sometimes the enemy AI would just freeze, standing completely still as I ploughed through their ranks with no resistance, again ruining the RTS side of things for me a bit.

I feel, as I did to a lesser extent with the original, that if the game had just kept to the Text Based “Choose your own Adventure” side of things then it would be a much better game already. The beautiful artwork and rather epic storyline are pushed aside and trodden over by the big muddy boots of the RTS sections, bringing down the enjoyability of both sides of the game. If Neocore fix the buggy AI and ramp up the difficulty, then I could very happily dump hundreds of hours in to this gem of a story, however until then it’s going to sit on my Steam and gather digital dust.

KupaRizu out!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Much Different Interview: Man vs Machine

The world of multiplayer gaming is about to change and you are invited to be part of it! On January 29th 2012, 16.00 CET, Swedish tech-company MuchDifferent is asking you to join in on a world record attempt. The goal: a once-in-a-lifetime event. One battlefield, One thousand players, in an in-browser FPS game.

Gamers and game developers will have a chance to face-off against each other in a massive carnage. Since there will only be 1000 players, secure your place by buying a ticket. These can be found on the Engineers Without Borders - Stockholm organization’s website (Here), so all the earnings will go straight to them.

Never before have so many players fought each other in an FPS, on one battlefield, in the browser. And never before has so much time been spent on a game only to be played once. Don’t miss it!


Three years ago MuchDifferent was looking for a big technical challenge. Friends at CCP, Dice and other gaming companies told us that the hardest and most difficult challenge they were all facing was the scalability of virtual worlds. Not only did we solve the problem, but we also offered a solution that may revolutionize the way games are made, as well as have an influence on other consumer web areas.

MuchDifferent has created a dynamic traffic router/load balancer, PikkoServer, that divides the battlefield between the game servers and glues the result together for the clients, multiple times per second. Although Man vs Machine is based on the Unity Engine, any modern game engine could easily be retrofitted with the technology to create something similar in a few months time.

During the development of this technology, MuchDifferent has created a range of related tools, the UnityPark Suite, that provide a full backend solution for Unity developers, released for the public on January 2nd 2012.

I’m really impressed with the product suite that MuchDifferent is offering. It’s an incredible piece of technology that I’ve seen running. The amount of time and money developers can save from using this software is immense and it kinda makes me wish I was developing on their technology.”
(Minh Le, creator of Counterstrike)

MuchDifferent is a non-profit organization that not only develops tools that change the way online games are made, but is also a leading technology provider within the field of signal processing. The organization has its headquarters in Uppsala, Sweden with a team of 24 people. However, they are also present in South Korea, Belgium and Iceland.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Plantronics GameCom 367 Closed Ear PC Gaming Headset

Luke Wickett here for the review of the plantronics 367 closed ear headphones! Let me start by saying these headphones aren’t new to the market, they came out in 2009 but to be fair I’m pleasantly surprised. These headphones are in the shall we say “Cheaper” sections of the gaming headset, priced at around £20 but let me say these headphones don’t feel that cheap at all! 

When initially putting the headphones on for the first time I felt a certain comfort and belonging that I simply wasn’t expecting, they grip in the right places but seem to just perch on your head like a smooth plush velvety hat, which to be fair is a pretty nice feeling I must say. The padding on the sides of your head whilst wearing this headset have a smooth texture giving a soft and luxurious feel and seems as though they will stand the wear and tear of the average Joe’s head. (*Joe’s heads are known for the average head shape, size, density etc etc*) Along with the padding on the rim which are of equal quality to the side pads. These bad boys are also surprisingly light, which was quite the shock! Going by the pictures i assumed they would be a heavier, Which to me means reliability, much like a gun and if that heavy gun doesn’t work you can always throw it at them... Which you could not do with the 367’s I’m afraid. But then again this isn’t a review of how deadly they would be if they were to be if thrown, But if you’re curious I’m sure they wouldn’t be. So the “Plush hat” feeling comes from the light weight feel along with the overall comfiness of the 367’s. 

The overall quality of these headphones are next to none! They’re as sturdy as they look. I’ve given them a medium nudge and pull with very positive results. The 367’s really do feel pretty tough for me, although they aren’t really to be compared with the so called ...“quality” of average Skull Candy's. They would definitely should stand the wraith of the average gamer even at high rage. The cables are very nice as well, I was expecting thickness of an normal set of earphones but these are much thicker and of a different material, Which is pleasantly robust.

The mic has a secret hiding place for secret hiding times! I really like this feature.. For no reason it’s just.. Well...Cool. It folds back it to the headset eager to be used again. Whilst talking there is next to no background noise although at times the mic seems to fade in and out, which my ready friends is a damn shame! This makes me quite the happy chappy. It can be quite quiet mind!

Now my gentle saplings it’s time for the most important part! The sound! Well to be fair the sound Isn’t bad at all. I find there is a slight lack of bass but it’s not terrible, but really It’s my only beef with the 367’s, because other than that i can’t really fault the sound quality at all. It’s definitely loud enough and the sound you get is very clear, Don’t get me wrong there can be a bit of a buzz when at full volume, which is expected for the price. Despite the lack of bass and the occasional buzz these will make you feel fully immersed. So overall I’m happy with the sound, especially for the price. 

Although this isn’t the kind of headset you’d want to be seen in walking down the street mind. They were not wrong at plantronics labelling them with a “Military-style”. They’re very big and bulky looking, But to  be fair they are meant for gaming, not for the looks. They seem to resemble helicopter headsets from a distance. 

I have added a voice sample of me using them. I quote from the back of 367's box.

Conclusion time. If you’re looking for a decent headset and you’re on a budget then hell yeah i would recommend these. They’re comfortable, tough and high quality at a good price.

Luke Wickett