This is default featured slide 1 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 2 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 3 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 4 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 5 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Star Wars: The Old Republic Preview

I dream of a world where MMORPG players aren't considered cretins; where fans of the genre haven't been occupying the bottom of the gaming totem pole since the days of Everquest. Instead we live in a cruel world, one where there's a rib-cracking riposte ready to be delivered whenever World of Warcraft gets mentioned. Even with the broad demographic that Blizzard has sucked in, the genre has an image of being as weird, insular and hardcore as it is tediously lazy in design. The MMO design standards have barely moved forward since WoW was first released in 2004, and those were standards put in place in the nineties by Everquest. It's not a genre that's been great at evolving beyond the basic treadmill levelling system.

But in the last year MMOs have gone through a few structural and stylistic changes. Massively Multiplayer titles are beginning to experiment with tropes that typically you'd only see in other genres. Specifically, they're attempting to fulfil the 'role-playing' part of their namesake by developing narrative-led questlines and events.

Don't worry about whether you're interested in MMOs. This is an incredibly interesting time to be watching their progress, regardless of whether or not you have a bias against them. Between the upcoming Guild Wars 2, the unfortunate Final Fantasy XIV, and Star Wars: The Old Republic there has been an incredible change to the basic formula. Story is being used as a motivator for the gameplay; it's being used to develop your character, immerse you in the universe and to give context to your quests. Ambitious, considering this is BioWare's first venture into MMORPGs.

Needless to say, The Old Republic takes place well before Attack of the Clones. It begins 3500 years before the rise of Darth Vader. The Sith Empire has only just emerged from deep space to attack the Republic and its Jedis. Chronologically, this puts the game a good 300 years after the events of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which concluded with the disappearance of Revan into unknown space in search of the threat of the Republic in the form of an expanding Sith Empire led by a mysterious Emperor. Revan never came back but the Sith Empire has, and now after years of war a truce is established between both factions but the events that unfold in the game are slowly leading them back into a full-on war.

The game gives you eight stories to pick from, naturally based around your playable class, be it Bounty Hunter, Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent, or Sith Inquisitor for the Sith Empire, or Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight, or Jedi Consular for the Republic. Unlike older MMOs these classes aren't limited to your standard Healer/Tank/Melee DPS/Ranged archetypes, and instead can be customised by the user, meaning any character can fill any role in a party – something that the genre has been moving toward in the last few years.

In classical BioWare style this story system functions similarly to what you find in the Mass Effect series, with interactions with NPCs bringing up a full dialogue system of possible response/reactions that can permanently open or close possible storylines and affect the conversation of NPCs. Actions and choices that you make have a direct influence on your character's personal story, and their moral standing based on how you complete quest lines.
Many a jaded MMO player has scoffed at the idea of shoving stories into the system of a persistent world – they're opposing ideas. But the glimmer of hope for it working well is that there truly is a blurry line between the forces of the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire.

That can be as simple as deciding whether or not to tattle on other NPCs. In fact one of the more interesting early quests has you tracking down two Padawan to find out whether they're in love, a bit of an issue when you forswear all emotional attachment to become a Jedi. Your choice is to tell their tutors, destroy their relationship but remain faithful to the Jedi code, or keep it a secret, let their relationship flourish, and let them bribe you with a crystal that will be used in the construction of your light sabre. It's a basic Episode II premise but strangely manages to have more of an emotional bearing, especially when you're the one making the decisions.

On the other hand it can work on a slightly larger scale in the story. In the Bioware Dev Diary on the development of Ord Mantell the planet has gone from being the setting for a basic Empire-against-Republic rebels story to being a much more morally vague tale of a planet under Republic control, led by less-than honourable leaders, and areas full of ill and malnourished citizens. So it's far less clear who has the planet's best interest in mind, and shows the game's potential beyond Horde vs. Alliance, Good vs. Evil.

It isn't re-defining the genre so much as taking the next logical step. Even WoW has attempted to incorporated a fuller story arc in its expansions, even Guild Wars has a relatively versatile class system. But The Old Republic combines the natural steps and natural innovations in an impossibly polished package. It will just be interesting to see how similarly it ends up comparing to the Guild Wars sequel which is working from a very similar angle.

Best and Cool PC Games

From cherished classics to recent releases, we take a look at some of the best games for the oldest and most versatile platform of them all: the humble PC.

The PC remains the most versatile platform around. Not only does it play the best of today’s games (and at better resolutions than the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360), it also carries the largest—and most critically acclaimed—back catalog of all video-game platforms.

So, how does one narrow down the best games for the platform? It’s a subjective process, and we’re sure that the list will create debate (not to mention some angry "You forgot my favorite PC game" comments). We encourage debate on the list, and we hope that the list helps you find some great games—either recent releases or beloved classics. We'll also continue to add to the list, taking community feedback into consideration, so please, share your favorites with us.

And, remember: Even after you beat these games, don’t forget to extend their life by checking out their online communities. Many have mods, player-made scenarios, levels, maps, and so on that provide hours of additional enjoyment.

Editor's note: GamePro Media owns GameDownloads.com, a digital-download service that's a competitor of Steam, Impulse, and Good Old Games.


Unreal Tournament 2004
Epic’s Unreal Tournament series of futuristic first-person shooters was already a mainstay among PC gamers when what’s arguably the best game in its series hit: UT2004. It introduced vehicles and the popular Onslaught game type, which allowed for large-scale multiplayer battles. The game also carries an extensive list of mods; one of the, Red Orchestra, a total-conversion mod that turns the game into a battle on the Eastern Front of World War II, became a retail item on Steam. Another, Alien Swarm, is also available from Steam. UT2004 may be found on Steam and Good Old Games.com.



The Sims
This life-sim series is likely the most popular PC game of them all. Spawning three main games, 18 expansions, numerous “stuff” packs, and spinoffs on console and handheld platforms, the Sims lets players “sim” the life of a virtual person (or people) living in a suburban community. You can play the game straight, seeing how the lives of your Sims turn out, or you can make the life of your poor Sim a living virtual hell. It’s all up to you. The PC has a genre of strategy games called “god games,” but in the Sims, you are god.


Sid Meier’s Pirates
The oldest game on this list, 1987’s Pirates broke significant ground in PC development. Not only is it the first of many games to bear ├╝berdeveloper Sid Meier’s name, it also introduced dynamic changes to a game environment: diplomatic shifts among the four countries vying for control of the Caribbean (the English, French, Spanish, and Dutch) help make each game of Pirates! different. The players’ actions also left a lasting impression on the game world. The ship combat, in real time, remains fun. Firaxis issued a remake of the game in 2004 that remains available at some retailers and many digital-download services.


System Shock 2
This first-person shooter from Irrational Games is one of the most influential games of all time, merging RPG elements with shooter gameplay and telling an interesting, sometimes frightening story. With character classes and skills, System Shock 2 allows for multiple replays by allowing players to build different skills each time, bringing much needed variety to the shooter genre. The game also built the foundation for BioShock, Irrational’s 2007 hit. The game also has a number of interesting and excellent community-made mods available online.

World of Warcraft
The biggest massively multiplayer online role-playing game on the market (not to mention the most popular game for PCs), World of Warcraft is now going into its third expansion, Cataclysm, which recasts the world of Azeroth after the dragon Deathwing rips through its extradimensional prison and devastates the world, affecting nearly every corner of Azeroth. The expansion introduces two new races as well—the wolfmen Worgen and Goblins—and it remains an MMO that offers addictive play for small groups, large groups, or the solo player. It’s also the MMO that countless others have unsuccessfully tried to replicate.