New Disney Infinity Figures Leaked

Around last Thanksgiving, I found myself getting into Disney Infinity; Disney’s venture into the toys-to-life craze. In the game, players creating various types of content (such as races or combat scenarios) in a sandbox environment, and their creations can be shared with other players online. The video game has you collecting figures of your favorite Disney characters in real life so you can play as them.

A second wave of figures was released last fall; which included not only classic Disney characters such as Tinkerbell and Stitch, but Marvel characters as well. While Disney has yet to announce anything about the third installment of toys, it appears that Disney already has a number of them ready to go. A Chinese retailer called Taobao has leaked some of the characters that will be release along side the 3.0 edition of the game.

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Although the listing for the figures has been removed from the sight, a number of sites have saved pictures of the characters that were leaked. Among those revealed were Frozen‘s Olaf, classic Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Mulan, Sam and Quorra from Tron: Legacy, and even characters from the upcoming Pixar move Inside Out. Not only are the figures revealed, but the designs for the flyers and packaging is as well.30figureleak_1024.0

This prompts me to ask whether or not Star Wars characters will be coming to Disney Infinity this year. With the new Star Wars movie coming out in December, it only makes sense that they would release the characters to coincide with the film. Plus, I’m pretty sure a lot of fans are eager to see them in the game.

At this point, I’m really curious about what new things the 3rd edition of Disney Infinity has in store for us. The 2.0 update added various additions to the game; such as an improved ability system for characters, enhanced creation tools, interiors and more. What will be brought to the table this year?

March’s “Games with Gold” are Pretty Amazing

xbox-games-with-gold-listXbox Gold Members can get their hands on two awesome games for free this month as part of the “Games with Gold” program. Tomb Raider is currently being offered till March 15th, while Bioshock: Infinite will be available from March 16 – 30.

 

potential-banner-2Tomb Raider, starring the famous Lara Croft, is the 2nd reboot of the popular franchise. In what is regarded as an origin story, Lara and her friends are shipwrecked on an island called Yamatai; off the coast of Japan. The island is inhabited by a violent cult that worships a deceased Shaman Queen named Himiko; who’s believed to have cursed the island. Lara must use wits and courage to survive as she and her friends struggle to find a way off the island. Tomb Raider combines exploration, puzzle solving, combat, and even stealth to give players the great sense of adventure the series is known for.

 

Bioshock-Infinite-Wallpaper-Full-Images-DesktopBioshock: Infinite is a first-person shooter set in early 20th century America. Players assume the role as Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent who is sent to the floating air city of Columbia to rescue a young woman named Elizabeth. Elizabeth has the ability to open “Tears” in the space-time continuum; a gift that the two soon realize will only make their escape more difficult. These powers play an active role in the game, as Elizabeth can use them to aid the player in combat and exploration. While it’s gameplay is almost identical to that of previous installments, Bioshock: Infinite‘s story and setting make it stand out as a thrilling tale.

 

Both Tomb Raider and Bioshock: Infinite were some of 2013’s biggest blockbusters. If you missed out on them, now is your chance to grab a copy.

Elder Scrolls Online Lost it’s Subscription Fee, but What Does that Mean for Players?

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If you have been following The Elder Scrolls Online like I have, then you probably heard that Bethesda is finally launching the game on consoles on June 9th as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. Tamriel Unlimited is also an update that coming to the PC version of the game on March 17th. The significance of this update is that the subscription fee for the game is being remove entirely. That’s right, you’ll now be able to explore Tamriel with your friends without having to pay a monthly fee.

Since ESO was originally first announced, fans and other gamers (myself included) have wondered how long it would last on a subscription based model. A number of other big MMOs, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, have ditched their subscription model to become free-to-play and many other online games are simply being released as such. So Bethesda’s decision to remove ESO’s subscription fee wasn’t much of a surprise.

I could go on and talk about why companies are choosing to do this, but that is not the purpose of this post. Today, I’m focusing on the changes that are coming to ESO’s business model. I also hope to address concerns people may have about these changes. After all, not everyone has had a good experience with free-to-play games.

Now I should make it clear that ESO isn’t actually going free-to-play, but rather buy-to-play. In other words, you simply have to buy the game in order to play it – much like Guild Wars 2. The decision to keep the price tag is understandable, as the company needs to make back the money it spends on development. But Bethesda can’t rely on the money they make from selling ESO. After all, they can only sell so many copies of the game before everyone (who wants want anyway) has it. Just how are they going to sustain themselves?

One of the ways Bethesda plans on doing this when Tamriel Unlimited launches is through the Crown Store. Using real money, players will be able to purchase a currency called crowns to spend on cosmetic and convenience items – such as costumes, potions, and mounts. For those who are worried about the consumable items from the Crown Store making the game pay-to-win, they are not as powerful as the items you can find or craft in the game. Another good thing is that the cosmetic options will be account bound; meaning that if you buy a pet for one of your characters, it will be available for all your other characters and any ones you make in the future.

Youtuber Deltia’s Gaming gives an in-depth look at how the Crown Store functions in the game. He even shows all the items that players will be able to buy, so it’s worth watching if you’re interested:

A new premium membership called ESO Plus will also be made available. This service will grant members crowns to spend in the Crown Store, access to all of ESO’s DLC (for the duration of their membership) and a 10 % bonus to experience and gold gain, crafting research, and inspiration. Now some people will be worried that the passive bonuses will make the game pay-to-win, and I understand that. However, Bethesda said this won’t change how current progression in the game plays out; members will simply get to the end game a little faster.

Finally, Bethesda’s guide to ESO Plus (linked to above) also revealed that they will be releasing game packs in the future, although they didn’t specify what they will contain. I’ll assume that these packs will include new areas to explore, new quests to take on, and new items to obtain. Based on the DLC that was made for previous Elder Scroll games (such as Dawnguard for Skyrim or Shivering Isles for Oblivion), this is safe to expect. As for the addition of new abilities or classes, Bethesda may save those type of features for expansion packs; assuming they have plans to make any that is.

Bethesda’s decision to remove ESO’s subscription fee has me excited, as I will be able to return to the game without worrying about a monthly fee. Granted, not everyone shares my enthusiasm as some are worried about the implications the upcoming changes will have. The skepticism isn’t a surprise when you look at the methods some companies have chosen to make money off of free-to-play games. But Bethesda doesn’t seem to be going down avenue that these companies have. They are just an trying to make the game more accessible and encourage previous players to return.

But now I am left with a question. When the gates to Tamriel reopen and I return, what’s going to keep me there?

Maleficent Review: Sleeping Beauty Gets the Wicked Treatment

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Disney’s latest blockbuster Maleficent is a retelling of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty; this time putting the villain herself in the limelight. It is very similar to Wicked, in that it casts the villain as ‘the good guy’, showing us the tale from their perspective. At first glance, you may think that Disney is simply doing a live action remake for the sake of a quick buck. It turns out, however, that Maleficent is far from that. In fact, it’s a complete new tale in and itself.

The beginning of the movie serves as an origin story for our heroine/villain. We learn that Maleficent is a fairy that lives in the Moors; a kingdom filled with mythical creatures that neighbors the human kingdom. Apparently the two kingdoms are not on good terms, but that should be expected as how else is the story gong to have any conflict? Maleficent falls in love with a human peasant named Stefan, who wishes to become king. He has feelings for her too, but his lust for the throne is greater. In order to convince the king he is a worthy heir to the throne, he betrays Maleficent by stealing her wings. Devastated by his betrayal, Maleficent starts to become the cold-hearted villain we know her as.

From here, the story we are familiar with resurfaces; and there are even several similarities with Disney’s original Sleeping Beauty. Of course, we soon discover that things are not quite the same as the original tale. The three fairies turn out to be incompetent at raising baby Aurora, so it is up to Maleficent to watch over her. Despite her reluctance, Maleficent grows close to Aurora; who refers to her as her ‘fairy godmother.” Aurora is still Sleeping Beauty, however, so their happiness sadly does not last long. But this is Maleficent’s story, so things don’t turn out quite as we expect it.

The characters are brought to life thanks to a great cast of actors. Angelina Jolie is an excellent Maleficent; being able to play a tragic character who is a cold-hearted villain but yet a mother figure at the same time. Sharlto Copley, who plays Stefan, goes from being a dorky peasant who annoys us to a paranoid, cruel king who infuriates us. Then there is Sam Riley who plays Diaval; Maleficent’s (shape-shifting) pet raven who went from being a mere prop to a surprisingly good character. And of course we have Elle Fanning who plays Sleeping Beauty herself. She manages to make Aurora irresistibly lovable in the way a Disney princess is supposed to be (it shouldn’t be a surprise, even Maleficent couldn’t resist her cheery innocence).

As for special effects (which pretty much runs the movie), Maleficent does not disappoint. The inhabitants of the Moor look quite spectacular and do well in keeping with the fantasy theme of their realm. Angelina Jolie is made into a very convincing Maleficent; her wings and horns were obviously painstakingly crafted to make sure she was a believable fairy. I loved the parts where she flew; they were really intense and you can feel the wonder and freedom in them. The scenes involving Diaval in his raven form are pretty funny too, if only because it’s funny to see a raven make facial expressions. There’s also a cool scene involving him at the end, but I won’t spoil that for you.

In the end, Maleficent is a grand twist to a classic tale. It manages to stick close to the original story we are familiar with, but changes it enough to offer a totally new experience. Some may not be comfortable with the changes and that is understandable. But that what perspective is all about; it’s offering a different way at looking at things. If there was anything we can learn from Maleficent, it’s that “villain’s” are much more interesting when you learn where they come from.

Skyrim Hearthfire DLC Announced

Skyrim fans will be happy to know that more downloadable content is coming to the game next week. Besthesda has announced that the new Skyrim add-on Hearthfire is being released September 4th for 400 Microsoft points. The DLC won’t be adding new epic quests to the game, however. Rather than focusing on the adventurous part of Skyrim, Hearthfire focuses on the simulation.

Hearthfire will allow players to buy land in Skyrim and build their own house; as opposed to buying one of the pre-built houses in the game. You will be able to customize the house to your liking and add a variety of furnishings. These include stables, forges, alchemy gardens, enchanting tables, armories, shrines, mannequins, and a taxidermy. Various staff can be hired to perform tasks for you; such as a carriage driver to transport you around Skyrim, a steward to look after your home, and even a bard to entertain you. Finally, the ability to adoption and raise children is being added to the game as well.

A lot of fans who enjoyed Dawngaurd (previous downloadable content) might be turned off by Hearthfire’s lack of adventurous content. They might not care for the simulation content Hearthfire will add to Skyrim. As for me, I think this expansion looks really cool and will add some new fun to the game. Who doesn’t like the idea of owning their own personal estate? Besides, it will be nice to have something to do besides fighting monsters and completing quests.

The Sims 3 Seasons Announced

This might surprise some of you a bit. Back in June, EA announced The Sims 3: Supernatural expansion pack; which is set to come out September 4 next month. It won’t be long until another expansion comes out however. EA has announced The Sims 3: Seasons, which will be released on November 13th this year.

Just as it’s name suggests, The Sims 3: Seasons adds seasons and weather the game. You can expect to see blankets of snow in the winter, leaves falling in the autumn, sun tans in the summer, and rain storms in the spring. Real life holidays will be added as well; such as Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July, and Easter (all though they will be called something different in the game). There will brand new activities too; including snowboarding, soccer, bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving, and swimming in the ocean. For more information, check out The Sims 3: Seasons web page.

While I’m quite ecstatic about this expansion, I’m surprised at how soon it will be released. It’s set to come out 2 months after The Sims 3: Supernatural; which comes out in a month! However, The Sims 3 development team have been working on the Seasons expansion pack for a while (it hasn’t been easy creating a weather system for the game), so I doubt it’s been hastily thrown together. It looks awesome and should add a lot of content to The Sims 3!

Are you excited about The Sims 3: Seasons? What are you excited about the most?

Star Wars: The Old Republic Going Free-to-Play this Fall

Last month I mentioned how Bioware was offering a free trial for Star Wars: The Old Republic. The trial allowed players to try a small portion of the game with some restrictions. This free trail won’t be lasting much longer however. Bioware has announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic is going free-to-play this fall.

While the free-to-play version will allow non-subscribed players to have full-access to the game’s story content, other content will be restricted to them. For example, some of the character creation options (such as species) won’t be available for Free-to-Play players. Free-to-Play players are always behind Subscribed players in the login queues as well. For more information, check out the Subscription vs. Free Features page on the Star Wars: The Old Republic website.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to think about Star Wars: The Old Republic becoming a Free-to-Play game. While it seems to offer more content than the game’s current free trial, the upcoming Free-to-Play version seems to be just as restrictive. By the looks of it, I’d be better off becoming a Subscriber than playing the Free-to-Play version of the game. You know, this Free-to-Play move is probably EA’s attempt at gaining back some of the subscribers they lost. Who knows. We’ll have to wait till this Fall to see whether the Free-to-Play version of Star Wars: The Old Republic is any good or not.

Are you excited about Star Wars: The Old Republic becoming Free-to-Play, or are you leery of the restrictions associated with it?

The Simpsons Arcade Game Review: Revisit an Arcade Classic

One of the things I remember from my youth is Chucky Cheeses. It wasn’t for it’s pizza, however, but the arcade games you could play. One of the games I would play was The Simpsons Arcade Game. I’d spend all my tokens playing it every time we were at Chucky Cheeses. What pleasant surprise I got when the game was re-released on Xbox Live Marketplace earlier this year. Despite it’s age, The Simpsons Arcade Game’s is still fun after all these years.

The Simpsons Arcade Game begins with the Simpsons family walking through Springfield as Waylon Smithers and a couple of his goons steal a diamond from the Jewelry store. While running from the cops, Waylon bumps into Homer, and the diamond is knocked out of his hands. Homer’s daughter Maggie snatches the diamond in her mouth, which prompts Smithers to kidnap Maggie. The Simpson family then sets out on a wild goose chase to rescue Maggie; ready to fight whatever stands in their way.

In the game, 4 players take control of one of the 4 remaining Simpson family members; Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa. Each family member fights with a unique weapon; Marge fights with a vacuum, Bart attacks with his skateboard, Lisa wields her jump rope like a whip, and Homer fights with his fists. As the player, you must fight your way through several levels to get to Maggie; facing various enemies along the way. At the end of every level , there is a boss that must be defeated before you van progress to the next level. There are a variety items in which you can find and use to attack enemies and even regain health. Naturally you lose a life when you run out of health and face a game over when you run out of lives unless you use a continue. The number of continues you have depends on which game mode you are playing.

There are a variety of game modes and features in the re-release of The Simpsons Arcade Game. The game features both online and offline co-op for players to play with each other. After beating the American version of the game, players can unlock and play the Japanese version; which features more items and allows players to gain more health. Both versions feature 3 different modes which alters the game difficulty a bit. Quarters mode recreates the arcade experience by giving you a limited number of continues, while Free-Play mode gives you an unlimited amount of continues for a more casual experience. If you’re looking for a challenge, Survival mode gives you only one life and no continues. In addition to the game modes, there are unlockable rewards the player can earn for beating the game; such as game-related art and sound tests.

I hadn’t played The Simsposns Arcade Game in years, so it was nice to be able to play it again. It was quite a surprise though, because the game was quite different than I remember it to be. I was able to beat the game in less than two hours thanks to the game’s Free-Play mode. Back when I was a kid, I could never beat the game thanks to the limit number of quarters I had and my lack of skill (I was much younger after all). Boy have things changed since then. The game’s short length may seem like a let down, but it makes sense when you think about it. After all, it’s an arcade game that comes from a time in which video games didn’t last forever with their endless quests and exploration. Besides, the re-release features unlockables and other extras that make the game worth playing more than once.

If you enjoyed The Simpsons Arcade Game back in the day, or if you enjoy beat-em up style games, then this downloadable re-release is worth the $10 you’ll pay for it. Those who enjoy big, adventurous games may want to pass on it though. The Simpsons Arcade Game is rather short after all and the $10 might be better spent on game add-ons or other downloadable games. Despite this, it is still a fun game that is filled with nostalgia. As somebody who enjoyed playing The Simpsons Arcade Game in his youth, I was definitely happy to get my hands on it again after all these years.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Release Date Announced

If you’ve been waiting for the next World of Warcraft expansion pack, you won’t havge to wait much longer. Blizzard has announced that World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria will released  this year on September 25th. In addition to the standard edition, a collectors edition will be released; which will include a soundtrack cd, an art book, a mousepad, and a behind-the-scenes dvd.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria adds a brand new continent called Pandaria for players to explore. There will also be a brand new playable race called the Pandaren, who are a group of anthropomorphic pandas. The monk class is also being added to the game, which has player’s characters fighting with their fists rather than weapons. Other new features include pet battles, challenge modes, scenarios, and a revamped talent system.

I’m rather stoked about the new expansion pack. The monk class looks awesome, the Padarens are really cool, and the new continent Pandaria is quite beautiful. To tell you the truth, Mist of Pandaria is what got me interested in World of Warcraft in the first place. Some people complain and say that this expansion pack is a rip off of Kung Fu Panda. As for me, I think it’s going to add some really nice things to the World of Warcraft.

Are you excited about Mists of Pandaria or do you think it’s a lame rip-off of Kung Fu Panda?

Game Developers Benefit From Steam’s Sales

Steam is an online game distributer that sells games in which you can download to your computer. These games range from big name franchises to smaller games made by independent developers. Steam has become popular with consumers thanks to its ease of use and the special sales it has from time to time. Its annual sales have recently been proven to be not only popular with consumers but with game developers as well.

Today, gaming website Gamasutra interviewed various game developers whose products had been discounted in this year’s Steam Summer Sale. Some of these developers include Runic Games CEO Max Schaefer (Torchlight) and indie developer Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac). According to them, the sales not only helped increase revenue but also increased interest in their games. They found that consumers were even willing to buy their games at full price once the sales were over.

What makes this news interesting is the fact that not everybody is happy with Steam’s sales. In an interview with Gameindustry International, EA’s David DeMartini criticized Steam’s annual discounts; claiming it cheapens intellectual property. What’s funny about this is that David DeMartini is the head of Origin; an online game distributer is owned by EA. He was obviously  making a jab at his competitor in the interview. Based on how well developers are benefiting from Steam, though, I’m believe that Mr. DeMartini will have his foot in his mouth in no time.