Massively Multiplayer: Gaming In The New Millennium

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by RySenkari, Aug 11, 2016.

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  1. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Location:
    Santa Marta,Magdalena,West Venezuela
    Umm i dunno how much Ry knew about Hockey...i knew very little beside Grestky and Molyneux sucess...still wait, maybe that will be answer in the next sports or news update
     
  2. Threadmarks: Summer 2010 (Part 18) - Back Into The Memory Hole

    RySenkari Lisa Simpson 2020

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Memory Hole 2

    The sequel to Looking Glass' 2007 hit Memory Hole, Memory Hole 2 was developed by the same company and co-produced by Microsoft and Ubisoft, as a cost-saving measure for the former. This arrangement makes Memory Hole 2 a timed exclusive, released exclusively to the Xbox 2 in September 2010, with a port coming to the Nintendo Sapphire sometime in 2011 (along with a port of the original game). Memory Hole 2, much like the original game, is a first-person shooter/adventure title, similar in many ways to OTL's Bioshock and sharing many thematic and gameplay elements of the original game. The protagonist of Memory Hole 2 is Lea, the girl from the original game, now a young woman in her late teens/early 20s. Lea begins the game trapped in an Eraser suit, gifted with strange powers but also cursed with them, with no idea of where she is and with only vague memories of her parents and past. She must piece together her old memories, figure out how she got into the suit and who put her there, and dodge attacks from mysterious masked soldiers sent to bring her down, along with a "heroic" figure known as the Slayer who blames Lea for murdering his beloved. The mechanic of controlling an Eraser in combat is similar in some ways to how Bioshock 2 had the player controlling a prototype Big Daddy IOTL, with Lea able to find and use keystones and superpowers in much the same way that David did back in the original Memory Hole. Rather than hunting down fellow Erasers in this game, Lea must find fragments of memory, souvenirs from her past that she can use to access one of her old memories, which also help the player piece together events that took place between the end of the first game and the beginning of the second. The game takes place in a massive city, a city that's eventually revealed to be Denver, Colorado, abandoned and mostly destroyed after the major civil war that took place in the 21st Century in this game's past. The change in setting, with more outdoor, open areas, makes Memory Hole 2 somewhat less linear than the original, though there are some indoor areas that must be carefully explored, with a mix of above ground and underground areas. Lea begins with more health and attack strength than David did in the original Memory Hole, but the enemies are faster, smarter, heavily armed, and much more dangerous, forcing the player to be somewhat more strategic and also to conserve their powers. There are a few friendly figures throughout the game, though Lea has trouble communicating with them (trapped in the Eraser suit, she's unable to communicate verbally), making "dialogue" a bit of a puzzle, with certain characters able to understand her better than others. Finding certain characters who can help Lea is key to succeeding in her quest, and eventually, Lea will be able to shed parts of the suit, reducing her abilities in some respects but increasing them in others. Like the original Memory Hole, this game is all about memories and what's fake and what's real, and how one's self-worth is defined by their thoughts and experiences. If Memory Hole explored the more empiricist side of philosophy, then Memory Hole 2 is all about rationalism, with more emphasis on what one thinks and feels rather than what one experiences (which compares to the objectivism/collectivism critique of OTL's first two Bioshock games). For most of the game, Lea can't speak, so her dialogue is all internal (she's voiced in this game by Jessy Schram, who takes over for Annasophia Robb who voiced her as a young girl in the original Memory Hole). We can hear her thoughts, her inner dialogue, and we can occasionally see part of her face, reflected on the inside visor of her suit. If there's an OTL game that Memory Hole 2 best compares to besides the Bioshock games, it's probably Metroid Prime, with Lea gaining abilities in much the same way Samus does, opening up more and more of the city to explore as she regains more and more of her memories. The cryptic world-building, the pacing, the difficulty progression, and even the way that many enemies fight, are all very comparable to OTL's Metroid Prime, though with a soundtrack consisting mostly of modern and "futuristic" music rather than an ambient score. Like the original Memory Hole, Memory Hole 2 contains many real songs, and a few cleverly placed original songs designed to "predict" what pop and rock music might evolve into in the future. It's one of the most unique soundtracks ever created for a game, with some very memorable musical moments placed throughout. Like OTL's Bioshock 2, Memory Hole 2 adds a multiplayer mode, which gets a strong reception thanks to its creative use of power-ups and its wide variety of different modes.

    The game begins with a series of disjointed cutscenes showing fragments of memories from Lea's life, then we see Lea herself, waking up to discover herself inside an Eraser suit and unable to get herself out. She's immediately pursued by enemies, and first she tries to flee, and then she is forced to kill them. She tries to remember who she is or who she knows, and remembers only her name, and a vague trail of clues that will eventually lead the player to the first memory fragment. As they explore, the player is treated to a post-apocalyptic city, though the level of destruction there is somewhat less than would be expected from a city that's been abandoned and destroyed for decades. She finds the first few clues about her identity and gains some memories of her parents, David and Susanna, who are nowhere to be found. She desperately wants to find them and eventually ends up climbing the city's tallest building, which leads to a series of tough firefights and a climactic scene in which she encounters the Slayer for the first time. The Slayer blames Lea for murdering his beloved Sophia, and turns his powerful automatic scoped rifle on Lea, wounding her to such an extent that she'll need to find a way to remove part of her suit to survive. She's able to remove her gloves, allowing her the proper use of her hands, but even with her hands she can't remove any other part of her suit, not yet. She continues through the city, finding memories, killing enemies, and gaining strength. Two things start to become apparent to the player: Lea, despite her sympathetic internal monologues and attempts to use peace instead of violence, almost seems like the villain of her own game. Secondly, her regained memories have started contradicting each other, almost as if they're split between three different realities. In one of these realities, her parents seem to have died. In another, her parents are alive and she's mostly happy, and in another, she's almost out of body, ethereal, as if she herself has died. The memories blend into one another, and the player starts to become unable to trust anything Lea is seeing, though her thoughts are clear, focused, and accurate, and the player can use Lea's thoughts to piece together more answers to the various puzzles they encounter. As Lea progresses, opening up more of the city and particularly, opening up a highway-type area that seems to lead to the suburbs, Lea's memories start to become more focused and clear, even if they seem to be from three different realities. They stop blending together. In some of them, her parents are clearly dead. In others, so is she. Lea seems to think the memories take place at different times, but then she realizes after finding more of them that they can't possibly. Meanwhile, the Slayer gets ever closer. Lea has a chance to kill him, but sees him assisting other survivors and taking care of a person that she herself wounded, and she hesitates, giving him a chance to hunt and nearly kill her. Lea also removes more and more of the suit, and finally, about 80 percent of the way through the game, is able to remove the stifling helmet and breathing apparatus from her head. She screams at the Slayer to stop, and he hesitates, before referring to her as Sophie. Lea looks in the mirror and sees a face she doesn't recognize, and runs from both the Slayer and the mirror in horror. She collapses to the ground, only to be surrounded by more well-armed hunters who surround her. She fights back: without the Eraser body she lacks firepower, but she makes up for it with incredible, almost superheroic speed. However, the hunters are too numerous, and she's about to be killed before the Slayer is able to save her. He calls her Sophie again and she pushes him away, screaming that she's Lea, only for the Slayer to tell her that Lea is the name of the Eraser that killed Sophie, and shows her a picture of an unhelmeted Lea, with a cold, evil look on her face. Lea has a near breakdown, staggering away again before collapsing and passing out and waking up in the Slayer's house.

    She has another, unprompted memory, remembering the Slayer and remembering his name: Harper, a boy she met when the two of them were 15. They bonded over the deaths of their parents... but then Lea remembers that her parents are alive. Aren't they? Lea tries to focus but only remembers more of Harper and how the two survived in the wastes together, fell in love, and how Harper got her father David's blessing... but then again, didn't they bond over the deaths of their parents? As Lea continues to try and recall things from her fractured mind, Harper comes in and tries to calm her down. Lea insists that she's Lea, not Sophie. Harper agrees to call her by that name, but tells her that she looks nothing like Lea, and that he saw Lea kill Sophie with his own eyes. Lea asks Harper how he thinks she got inside the Eraser suit, Harper says that Lea must have put Sophie in there to torture her somehow. Lea eventually agrees to stay with Harper, but she then sneaks out and goes looking for more memories, determined to reveal the truth to herself. What she eventually learns is that at the moment that David chose to kill or spare Susanna (from the previous Memory Hole), two parallel universes were created: one in which Lea dies and one in which she lives and her parents die. However, there was also a third universe created from the power of Susanna and the Erasers destroying Sarkel's mind to free Lea from his control. This universe couldn't exist, and reconciled itself by merging the other two universes together, creating two Leas. However, these Leas couldn't co-exist, so they both had a measure of existential identity crisis, which was reconciled by the Lea who remembered her parents' deaths changing her name to Sophie. The Lea that lived and that kept the name also kept all the baggage from Lea's life, including the enormous influx of psychic power held by the Erasers. This eroded her mind and drove her mad. She murdered David and Susanna and then attempted to murder Sophie. Harper found Sophie's destroyed body and protected her from Lea's psychic assaults, but the only way to save her life was to fuse her into an Eraser suit. So repulsed by his own actions, he purged his own memory of the events. Meanwhile, Lea has been able to use her psychic powers to take control of an army of survivors, who are tasked with hunting down Sophie and killing her. When Harper is given the memory of grafting Sophie into the Eraser suit, he's flooded with guilt and begs her to kill him, but she forgives him, knowing that she's the only one who can finish off her other self. Sophie makes her way to where Lea is (a thinly-veiled Broncos Stadium, in this game called Stallion Field) and battles her in a ferocious psychic showdown with some assistance from Harper. Like the original Memory Hole, Memory Hole 2 has three different endings, depending on how many of Sophie's 30 memories were found. If less than 20 were found (you need to find a minimum of 12 to complete the game), Lea and Sophie end up annihilating one another with psychic power, leaving a distraught Harper wandering the streets of Denver alone. If 21-29 of them were found, Sophie is able to destroy Lea, but she's forced to do it by taking on all of Lea's powers. The event causes a psychic overload, and Harper is forced to sacrifice himself to save Sophie. Sophie lives, but is left alone and burdened by memories and guilt and grief. If all 30 memories were found, Sophie annihilates Lea, reconciling their shared memories as the timeline repairs itself. Sophie is left a normal girl, without powers. Her parents are still dead, but she still has Harper and all the memories of her parents and of her time with him, and the two can live a peaceful and normal life together, helping the remaining survivors rebuild civilization.

    Released in September 2010 for the Xbox 2 and PC, Memory Hole 2 gets excellent reviews from critics and is widely considered the second best Xbox 2 title of the year, just behind The Covenant 2. It avoids a lot of the criticism that Bioshock 2 got IOTL, thanks to its exploration/adventure mechanics, its surprising and poignant twists, and its excellent visuals and sound quality. It keeps the series' strong reputation for quality and also achieves great sales, though sales do lag somewhat behind Memory Hole thanks to the fact that the Xbox 2 is somewhat slumping during this time (the eventual Sapphire release will rectify this problem). Ken Levine has created another beloved hit, after Junction Point and Memory Hole, but rather than continuing with this series, he wants to do a big, epic space title. Though the status of Looking Glass is somewhat up in the air (Microsoft hasn't spun it off like Psygnosis, yet), Levine is able to begin tentative work on his game, even though he isn't sure just what system it will eventually see release for. He does know for sure that it's going to be an eighth generation game, with inspiration taken from titles such as Selene, Half-Life, and his own masterpiece Junction Point to create a title that will not only be addictive and fun, but will make players think like no game before.
     
  3. TheDetailer Fan of Mythical Creatures and Alternate History

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2017
    Location:
    Scotland
    How's it going with Catalonia and Scotland ITTL?

    What will become of the Arab Spring? Is the infamous Innocence of Muslims trailer still made?
     
  4. Threadmarks: Summer 2010 (Part 19)- The Rest Of The Games (Except For Reynard)

    RySenkari Lisa Simpson 2020

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    (Here are the rest of the notable games from July 2010 to September 2010!)

    (Authors' Note: Pyro sent us some ideas for two spinoff games based on his Reynard character from the latest Commander Keen. While those games are released in this time frame, I'm feeling a bit under the weather today and I'm not quite able to give those games the coverage they deserve in this update. So, I'm going to cover them in a separate update hopefully sometime this weekend.)

    -

    Nintendo Sapphire:

    Ballistic Limit: No Escape

    A hybrid shooter for the Nintendo Sapphire, Ballistic Limit: No Escape takes the series in a somewhat different direction from previous titles in the series. Rather than being a big, epic shooter, the game is more of a closed-quarters title with horror elements, hearkening back to the original game. Its protagonist isn't Ash Beckland, but instead is a prisoner trapped in a mysterious intergalactic prison inhabited by terrifying monsters, brutal inmates, and governed by a powerful and sadistic warden. The game plays much like previous titles in that it allows the player to switch between a first person and third person perspective at will, with the first person perspective enhancing attack power, enabling special attacks, and using a special Ballistic meter that can be charged by dealing damage in third person mode. The game requires that players fight more conservatively, with enemies capable of dealing a great deal of damage and attacking in groups, requiring the use of stealth in certain parts of the game. The plot, at least for the first half, doesn't tie in with the rest of the series. Instead, it features a soldier being held in a mysterious space prison. After attempting to escape, the warden begins experimenting on him, and we learn that these experiments are designed to create ghost soldiers that can fight in other dimensions. These soldiers are then sold to the highest bidding space armies and used to fight by slipping through dimensions to be able to attack undetected. The soldier, whose name is Marcus Breed, is able to escape from his confinement, and now possesses these ghost powers, which enable him to fight the beasts that come through a dimensional wormhole created after the experimentation overloads the machine and floods the prison with antimatter energy. Breed must fight his way through the various horrors, until he is contacted by a mysterious ghost presence: Sara, Ash Beckland's love interest from previous games in the series. Sara is able to unlock more of Breed's latent powers, and eventually, Breed is able to liberate the prison and shatter the energy barrier that the warden has created around it. However, the warden himself has accessed a godlike power of his own, and attacks Breed and the surviving prisoners as they try to escape. After a timely intervention from a squad of space marines led by Ash Beckland, Breed is able to fight the warden one on one, and manages to defeat him, ending the experiments and the threat to the galaxy. Breed conveys a message from Sara to Ash, telling him of a mysterious being that threatens the ghost dimension, and Ash asks Breed to assist him on his next mission.

    Quite positively received upon its release, Ballistic Limit: No Escape is praised for its terrifying atmosphere and its compelling pacing. The rather linear game structure does turn off some players, but it IS a throwback to the old game's format, and thus most fans don't mind. The game's graphics and sound, while not quite cutting edge, are also well received, and the game ultimately sells well, even if it's not quite the blockbuster franchise it once was. Sony seems content to release one Ballistic Limit per generation at this point, and fans eagerly await the next installment, which will likely be for the Sapphire's successor.

    Fire Emblem: The Myststone War

    The latest in Nintendo's popular tactical RPG series, The Myststone War features all the familiar Fire Emblem gameplay elements and tropes, with a beautiful new graphical interface and fully animated CG cutscenes with full voice acting from Los Angeles-area pros for the English dub and popular seiyuu for the Japanese version. A fully HD game, it's Nintendo's biggest budget Fire Emblem yet, though it is somewhat light on things to do outside of combat in terms of character relationships and side quests. The game's biggest new element in terms of gameplay is the presence of Myststones, which hover over certain parts of the battlefield and provide combat buffs and debuffs for those standing in presence of them. These stones can be altered or destroyed or enhanced, and there are many different effects they can have, from simple stat boosts to enabling new combat skills, to preventing a certain number of permadeaths in combat (with no Casual option, huddling around these Resurrection Myststones is a major tactic in the game, though they are few and far between). The game's plot involves a sorceress queen named Melodia who is trying to conquer the continent by taking advantage of the power of these stones. She doesn't just sit on her throne either, she's a full combatant who isn't averse to getting her hands dirty in combat. The player character can be either male or female, and though they're named by the player, their official name is Ashley. Ashley must unite numerous warring territories in battle against Melodia's army before she conquers all, usually by defeating the leaders of these territories in combat. The Myststone War is a fairly well reviewed game, and, like most titles in the series, it's more popular in Japan than it is in North America. The main criticism is that it's a bit on the short side and that there's not a lot to do besides the main quest, while some critics also believe the Myststones make combat a bit too random (if a favorable Myststone spawns too close to the enemy side, you can lose a character or two due to no fault of your own). It's seen as a successful game, but would end up being overshadowed by the next Fire Emblem title, which would be released in the last days of the Game Boy Supernova's lifespan.

    Dark Explorer

    A sort of Metroidvania title, Dark Explorer features a mysterious cloaked character named Nomu exploring numerous dungeons full of scary creatures. Nomu can use melee combat or magic to battle enemies, and he can also hunt for various treasures and equipment to enhance his abilities. He's in search of a mysterious relic to resurrect his father, the king of a vast dying realm, but on his journey, Nomu himself learns what it means to be a king. The game can be compared in its gameplay style somewhat to OTL's Metroid: Other M, with 3-D and 2-D segments, but doesn't come with that other game's baggage and reviews are quite good, even if sales don't quite match up.

    Apple iTwin:

    Corona And Rouge

    A 2-D platformer with fully 3-D graphics, Corona and Rouge stars the two badass ladies of the Sonic universe, teaming up to battle a dangerous dark mage who seeks to take over the world. The game controls much like Sonic Duo, but nixes the 3-D gameplay segments in favor of fully 2-D gameplay like the old Sonic platformers. The game allows for one person to control both characters with the two iTwin controllers or for two people to play at once, and rather than speed focused gameplay, this game is focused more on combat and puzzle solving. Corona can use her energy lasers, Rouge can slip into tight places, and both of them can fly, enabling levels to feature plenty of vertical elements. For all the game's style and flash, it's a fairly standard platformer, and though fans of the two main characters will definitely be pleased, it's not nearly as innovative as many other recent Sonic titles, and definitely not the best game to jump into the series on. Sales generally meet expectations, with review scores being decent but not great.

    No More Heroes 2

    The sequel to the surprise iTwin hit from 2008, No More Heroes 2, like OTL's game, features Travis Touchdown returning to battle his way through dozens of powerful assassins to rise up the ranks in his profession, with plenty of humor along the way. The gameplay is fairly similar to the original, with optional motion controls once again returning. The game's structure is non-linear, allowing the player to battle assassins in the same tier in any order they choose, though they have to kill a certain number in that tier before moving on to the next one. The game features enemies and bosses who can attempt to the player's style and learn to counter certain moves that are used more frequently, even commenting on them both in and out of battle. This forces the player to change things up and learn new combos to be successful. Like OTL's game, No More Heroes 2 scores excellent reviews from critics, while sales are significantly better than OTL's sequel in both North America and Japan, keeping the game one of Apple's most successful franchises. Despite the game's success, Suda51 decides to take a break from the series and move on to a new project, one that will be a multiplatformer rather than an iTwin exclusive.

    Ecumenopolis

    A dark-themed, modern RPG with the most similarity to OTL's Resonance Of Fate, Ecumenopolis was developed by many of the same people who worked on that game, including Yoshiharu Gotanda, who is most notable for the Tale series of titles. Ecumenopolis, as the name implies, takes place in a massive, world-spanning city that is heavily stratified by class and social status. Members of the upper class battle it out with one another by hiring mercenaries to kill off their rivals, with successful mercenaries from the lower ranks ultimately able to rise to the upper classes. Battles themselves look quite visually similar to those in OTL's Resonance Of Fate, with fast-paced gun combat involving acrobatic moves, and the ability to cause parts to fly off of foes in combat. However, unlike that game, Ecumenopolis is a full action RPG with the player only able to control one character at a time. The scratch/direct damage system also remains, though the element of bezels from that game is not present in Ecumenopolis. Guns are highly customizable and characters can customize themselves through the use of various combat accessories. The three main characters are Gash, Jinna, and Lukas, three young mercenaries working for a mysterious young lord named Asheron. Asheron has a vast amount of money from an ancient family fortune, and hopes to eliminate his rivals to provide his part of the city with more food and water, giving the mercenaries a somewhat noble purpose to assist him. However, as they find out later, Asheron is actually a vampire who wants to convert the lifeforce of his rivals into energy to gain access to an ancient buried god that was once destroyed but is now trying to exert influence on the world's denizens to return and rule. The mercenaries must find others who can assist them in stopping Asheron, ultimately retracing the paths of three heroes who stopped the ancient god before the vast city was built over his tomb. Ecumenopolis is released to high praise for its fun combat system and excellent graphics and sound, and becomes one of the most critically successful RPGs of the year. It's a major success in Japan, and while it doesn't become a blockbuster in the States, it still manages to become one of the system's more popular JRPGs, achieving most of its North American sales on budget pricing later in its lifespan.

    Game Boy Supernova:

    Ridge Racer Mini

    A Ridge Racer spinoff title for the Game Boy Supernova, Ridge Racer Mini is a modern 3-D racing title not all that different from the console games, with some of the best graphics available on the Supernova. Featuring hybrid arcade/simulation gameplay and a wide variety of cars and tracks, it's arguably one of the best titles in the series, and stands up decently against the Supernova Gran Turismo. It's not a major hit but it's certainly a sales success.

    Return To Yoshi's Island

    Intended as a direct sequel to the original Yoshi's Island for the Super Nintendo, Return To Yoshi's Island has a similar graphical style and gameplay to OTL's Yoshi's New Island on the 3DS, but features more upbeat music in tune with the original game, rather than the sort of babyish music included on OTL's New Island. Yoshi and friends must rescue Baby Mario from Kamek and Bowser, traversing 48 levels in order to do so. The levels are packed with secrets and collectables, and the game features some truly huge and epic bosses, including a giant Mechakoopa, a ferocious dragon, and an RPG inspired battle with Kamek himself. The game gets excellent reviews and sales and is considered a worthy follow-up to Yoshi's Island and one of the best Supernova games of the year.

    Lyric: Whisper In The Wind

    A music-based platforming/puzzle game that attempts to capture some of the appeal of Mixolydia, but rather than utilizing sounds from the outside world, it utilizes 140 original built-in songs (most of them with full Japanese lyrics) that are gathered throughout the story. While praised for its unique gameplay and not being a Mixolydia ripoff, it's still not nearly as successful commercially.

    Neptune's Call 3

    Another title in the popular Neptune's Call series, this one features two playable heroes, Pogan and Rochelle, and continues the fully 3-D swimming gameplay of the first two titles as the heroes team up to retrieve a powerful magical shell in order to restore their respective homes. They must battle a new villain, the dark mermaid Bryssenia, whose backstory is incredibly tragic and who ultimately becomes one of the most sympathetic gaming villains in recent memory. The game's plot is probably the best in the series, and though the gameplay isn't all that much changed from the last two titles, its production values make it both a critical and commercial success on par with the previous two games.

    Multiplatform:

    Dead Or Alive

    A full reboot sequel that completely throws out the plot from every previous game in the series, Dead Or Alive brings the familiar combat of previous series games to the HD consoles for the first time, introducing nine new characters and bringing back nine fan favorites. Though the franchise's familiar fanservice does make an appearance, Dead Or Alive cuts down on it compared to previous games in the series and attempts to establish a new, more serious plot. While longtime fans are frustrated with the sudden reboot, they do have to admit that the gameplay and graphics are excellent, and many of the new characters are both quite well thought out and quite attractive. One of the stronger fighting games of the year, Dead Or Alive does reasonably well on both the Sapphire and iTwin, becoming a tournament staple for the next few years.

    Star Trek Online: The Next Generation

    The “sequel” of sorts to the original Star Trek Online, this game takes more locations and characters from The Next Generation, and features a vastly updated control interface and graphics. The game is much like its predecessor, allowing players to captain their own starship or explore on foot, either certain planets or the interiors of starships. Primarily known as a PC game, the game is also ported to the Sapphire and Xbox 2, but doesn't sell nearly as well on either of the two consoles, due to the game being easier to play on PC, looking better, and also having a larger community. Known as one of the year's best new MMOs, the console versions get only decent reviews, but the game's community on PC remains fairly strong for years to come.

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    A fully 3-D brawler for the Sapphire and iTwin that also gets 2-D versions for the Supernova and iPhone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a beat 'em up that features all the classic heroes and villains of the series, in a series of levels with various weapons and power-ups. Designed to be the seventh gen's definitive TMNT game, it largely succeeds, with fun gameplay and the ability for four players to play either locally or online on both the console and handheld versions. Sales aren't too great, but they are enough for the game to make a healthy profit, and fans are extremely pleased by this enjoyable beat 'em up.

    Tron Virtuality

    A somewhat disappointing 3-D adventure title for the Sapphire and iTwin, Tron Virtuality is an original adventure set in the world of Tron and featuring an entirely new set of heroes and villains. Though its release is somewhat timed to coincide with Tron Legacy, the film coming out later in the year, it's not actually tied in with that game, and instead features a new hero named Zex who comes to the virtual world to locate a piece of computer code in the service of a rich programmer, only to learn that the code is the key to defeating a powerful rogue AI. Though the game features nice graphics and all the familiar series elements, it's a bit too open, devoid of a lot of things to do and with repetitive combat and missions. It's not a bad game, but it's not really a good one either, and sales are underwhelming.

    Ace Attorney: Bar None

    A brand new title in the Ace Attorney series for the Supernova and iPod Play, the game features a new character, a young hopeful attorney named Roy Eager who is hoping to pass the bar. Phoenix Wright takes him under his wing through a series of cases tied into a mystery surrounding the murder of another young legal hopeful, Jema Crow. Jema was a smart, beautiful young woman who wanted to be a prosecuting attorney, but was murdered by a mysterious person, the hunt for whom stretches across several cases. As Phoenix and Roy get closer to learning what happened to Jema, a shocking revelation happens: Jema is actually alive, having faked her own death to cover up an accidental death she committed. When Phoenix is incapacitated before the final case, Roy must solve the case with Phoenix's guidance to expose Jema and establish himself as a proper lawyer. In the end, Jema is found guilty, but is given a light sentence due to her sincere repentance, while Roy becomes a proper lawyer and leaves to establish himself in a different city. Phoenix recovers from his injury, satisfied that he helped a young lawyer much like himself. The game is a bit of a critical disappointment compared to other recent games in the series, and becomes notable for being the last game in the series to appear on the Supernova.

    Bloody Train 2

    The sequel to Bloody Train is somewhat quickly put together, due to the last game's success. Like its predecessor, it's a horror/shooter title, though this one features a group of campers investigating an abandoned train wreck in the woods that teleports them to a mysterious dimension in which the same train is now a ghost train running on infinite tracks to nowhere, full of vengeful ghosts. Featuring much of the same horror and action as the original, it's not the most innovative shooter of the year but it's full of lots of horror and does manage to be much more challenging than the last, winning accolades amongst hardcore gamers even as sales and review scores lag behind the first.

    Vandal Hearts: Arisen To Power

    A tactical role playing game by Konami for the Sapphire and iTwin, this game is a bit of an effort to capitalize on the success of Valkyria Chronicles, playing in similar fashion to that one but with elements from the original Vandal Hearts game. Revolving around a young prince's quest to become a great king, running parallel with the rise of a would be usurper to his throne, this game is largely based on character relationships, and ends up standing somewhat in contrast to Fire Emblem: The Myststone War, which has a bigger focus on battles. That said, it's a bit of a vanilla game with rather dry gameplay, and the production values aren't quite on par with those of Fire Emblem. It's for tactical RPG fanatics only, with poor sales on both sides of the Pacific.

    Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Alteration

    The latest game in the Splinter Cell series sees release on the Sapphire, iTwin, iPhone, and Supernova, but curiously, not on the Xbox 2. It's a somewhat smaller scale game, with Sam Fisher investigating a theft of government records that seems to be an inside job, traveling all over America and later, the world in search of the culprit. Like previous games in the series, Alteration features heavy elements of stealth, with an emphasis on finding certain clues that the culprit has left behind. The Supernova and iPhone versions of the games are somewhat downscaled graphically, but feature all the same gameplay and missions of their console counterparts, making them some of the best looking games on those consoles respectively (with the iPhone version looking especially good for a handheld title of its day). Reviews mostly average in the mid to high 7s, with Ubisoft clearly not devoting as much resources to this game as previous Splinter Cell titles, almost as if the game is intended to set up something bigger down the road. Sales lag noticeably behind other Splinter Cell games, but with lower production costs, it's still able to turn a healthy profit.

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    Top Selling New Console Games In North America (in terms of sales over the first four weeks of release):

    July 2010:

    1. The Covenant 4 (Microsoft Xbox 2)
    2. Encounter: Last Stand (Nintendo Sapphire)
    3. Ballistic Limit: No Escape (Nintendo Sapphire)
    4. Encounter: Last Stand (Apple iTwin)
    5. Alpha Protocol (Apple iTwin)

    August 2010:

    1. Madden NFL 2011 (Nintendo Sapphire)
    2. Madden NFL 2011 (Microsoft Xbox 2)
    3. Madden NFL 2011 (Apple iTwin)
    4. Blackheart: Contract (Nintendo Sapphire)
    5. Blackheart: Contract (Apple iTwin)

    September 2010:

    1. Memory Hole 2 (Microsoft Xbox 2)
    2. The Life And Death Of A Mother (Apple iTwin)
    3. Quake 5 (Nintendo Sapphire)
    4. Reynard (Apple iTwin)
    5. Quake 5 (Microsoft Xbox 2)
     
  5. RySenkari Lisa Simpson 2020

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Catalonia and Scotland are probably the same as IOTL. If anything, Scotland is leaning a bit less toward independence than IOTL.

    As for the Arab Spring, you'll have to wait for future updates for anything on that.
     
  6. Roger Redux The Revisionist

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2015
    Location:
    The Mother of all ASBs (a.k.a. "The Real World")
    But is it "Full of incest!"??? :p
     
  7. Garfunkle62 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2018
    Y'know, it just hit me that we really haven't seen a lot of Pac-Man mentions ITTL that aren't about the old arcade games. Were the Pac-Man World games butterflied away?
     
    Nivek likes this.
  8. RySenkari Lisa Simpson 2020

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    There have been some Pac-Man games, but none really relevant to the current gaming scene.
     
    StomperYoshi, Garfunkle62 and Nivek like this.
  9. TheDetailer Fan of Mythical Creatures and Alternate History

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2017
    Location:
    Scotland
    Did the 2007–08 WGA Strike still happen?
     
  10. Threadmarks: Summer 2010 (Part 20) - The Great Reynard

    RySenkari Lisa Simpson 2020

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    (Author's Note: This update was based on information provided by the reader Pyro, a mix of material he directly provided to us and material I wrote to fill in some of the gaps.)

    -

    Commander Keen: Billy's Brave Oddysey
    had proven to be one of the most popular games in the franchise, and a big reason for that was the introduction of one of the most popular characters in the franchise's history, Billy's rival, the thief Reynard. After realizing just how popular the character was with fans, Apple began working on two new spinoff titles featuring the young thief, the first for iPhone and the second for the Apple iTwin. The two games would be developed concurrently, both aiming at a 2010 release date, with the iTwin game worked on by Ion Storm and the iPhone title developed by a new indie company, Saffron, . The games ended up being completed around the same time, with the iPhone title scheduled for August 2010, and the iTwin game scheduled for September.

    The iPhone game would be a prequel to the iTwin game, intended to be a stand-alone title but also to set up the events of the iTwin spinoff. Titled Reynard's Secrets, it's a puzzle/visual novel game, intended to give players the full game experience but provide something optimized for the iPhone's small screen, and would play very similarly to OTL's Professor Layton games, utilizing the iPhone's touch controls in order to provide players with many different ways to solve the game's tricky puzzles. The game features colorful, stylish graphics and a jazzy soundtrack highly novel for mobile exclusive games at the time. The main plot of the game concerns Reynard's long lost father Ritchie, a master thief who mysteriously disappeared after finding an artifact with immense power, thus catching the eye of an evil syndicate. After Ritchie disappears, Reynard must piece together the clues to find him and solve the mystery of his disappearance while also getting to the bottom of the mysterious syndicate that may have caused it. Reynard goes around the world, solving various puzzles while visiting the following locales: Florence (Italy), Macau, Yucatan, Transylvania, Antarctica, Indonesia. The Indonesia level takes place inside "the Syndicate's" volcano base where Reynard and his crew still the final MacGuffin/final artifact from them. Each of these levels have the same structure: the set-up, the heist, and the boss fight. The Italian boss uses a Di Vinci-like helicopter against Reynard in their confrontation. Macau's is a Triad-inspired gangster who uses martial arts. Yucatan's is an angry Mayan god looking to smite Reynard for violating his temple. Transylvania's is a take on Vlad the Impaler (who insists that he's NOT a vampire.) Some missions of the game involve Reynard evading Rosalyn LeBlanc, an INTERPOL cadet obsessed with his capture, and the final world has a mission where they're forced to work together to escape one of the Syndicate's death traps. While Rosalyn acts belligerently towards Reynard, he flirts with her to get a rise out of the cadet. For a twist, the final boss is Reynard's father who is working for the Syndicate, but it is ambiguous of whether he is brainwashed or doing it willingly. Reynard defeats his father, who escapes and thus sets up the storyline of the iTwin game, Reynard's quest to save his father.

    This quest would be depicted in the iTwin console game Reynard, a full spinoff title starring the young thief and introducing numerous new characters while also including many characters from Reynard's Secrets. This would include Brianna, the nerdy inventor and another rival to Billy Blaze/Commander Keen. She serves as Reynard's mission control, who is overly cautious and somewhat insecure in contrast to Rey. However, sometimes she's forced to go out into the field to save Reynard when he finds himself caught in a trap. The second would be Reynard's brother, George, who is a savant at mechanics and an excellent driver/pilot despite being twelve years old. He is socially awkward and more interested in machines than people, but still more than happy to participate in his younger brother's heists. Though not explicitly stated, George is on the autistic spectrum and was included to help ameliorate the portrayal of those on the spectrum. The game itself plays much like the mainline Commander Keen titles, but with more stealth and puzzle solving, with Reynard controlling much like he does during his playable segments in Billy's Brave Odyssey. Like Reynard's Secrets, the game features an upbeat, jazzy soundtrack, fully orchestrated and even featuring dynamic changes depending on what the player is doing at the time. The game also has full voice acting and animated cutscenes in both 2-D and 3-D, with the 3-D cutscenes being fully rendered within the game's engine. Like Reynard's Secrets, the game takes Reynard all the way around the world, with eight main locales, each with its own set of missions and levels. The game is a bit more serious than the iPhone title, with more grounded and realistic bosses (most of whom consist of either Interpol agents or the upper echelons of the syndicate) that pose a more personal threat to Reynard as he battles it out with each of them. Rosalyn returns as Reynard's foil in the game, but plays a slightly less antagonistic role, while the game introduces some more overtly hostile Interpol agents who play more of a villainous role (with one of them working as a Syndicate double agent). Reynard eventually manages to get to the bottom of his father's role as leader of the syndicate: Ritchie is indeed helping them willingly, doing so to more easily accomplish his goals of thievery and take advantage of the artifact's power. Reynard manages to defeat his father in an epic boss battle, returning his father to normal and seizing the artifact from him. In the end, Ritchie departs, leaving Reynard wondering if his father will ever turn away from the syndicate or if the two of them are destined to continue fighting each other. Reynard decides to return to thievery, once again running afoul of Commander Keen, and the game concludes with the two of them battling it out once again, perhaps setting up the events of a future title.

    The dual Reynard-related releases proved to be one of the biggest events of the year for Apple. Reynard's Secrets became one of the best selling mobile titles to date, while Reynard was one of the iTwin's biggest hits of the year, especially during the holiday season when it was positioned to be a major tentpole family release. Fans of the character were quite satisfied by the two titles, and it was clear that more Reynard games were in store for Apple on both its consoles and mobile platforms.
     
  11. Threadmarks: Fall 2010 (Part 1) - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

    rick007 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Location:
    Hamiltonia
    Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood:

    Background:

    Production of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood started when Assassin's Creed II finished. Using the same engine, and the same characters, allowed the production team to work much faster on this game. The reason that this one isn't numbered is because fans, and the production staff, quite reasonably would assume that this would mean a new protagonist and setting, instead of continuing Ezio's story. However, there was a bit of a bump in the road as Creative Director Patrice Desilets decided to take a creative break.

    During this absence, the team decided to add multiplayer. This angered Desilets as he wanted it to be a strictly single player only experience. But since he was taking a break, there wasn't much he could do. While Desilets didn't do much more work on this game in the series, or the next one for that matter, Ubisoft did manage to talk him into doing one more game in the series with Assassin's Creed III, but I'll get to that at a later date. Around this time, Jade Raymond was promoted for her work on the game.

    Cast/Characters:

    Roger Craig Smith as Ezio Auditore da Firenze

    Scarlett Johansson as Elise Stillman

    Nolan North as Desmond Miles

    Fred Tatasciore as Mario Auditore

    Carlos Ferro as Leonardo da Vinci

    Manuel Tadros as Rodrigo Borgia

    Ellen David as Maria Auditore da Firenze

    Angela Galuppo as Claudia Auditore da Firenze

    Lita Tresierra as Rosa

    Alex Ivanocivi as Bartolomeo d'Alviano

    Arthur Holden as Octavian de Valois and Ercole Massimo

    Liane Balaban as Lucrezia Borgia

    Harry Standjofski as Juan Borgia the Elder

    Danny Wallace as Shawn Hastings

    Jessica Alba as Anita Crane

    Cam Clarke as Clay Kaczmarek aka Subject 16

    Andreas Apergis as Cesare Borgia

    Margaret Easley as Minerva

    Nadia Verrucci as Juno

    Cristina Rosato as Catarina Sforza

    Shawn Baichoo as Niccolo Machiavelli

    Phil Proctor as Warren Vidic


    Plot:


    After a brief sequence as Ezio in Viana, Spain in 1507, Desmond awakes out of the Animus, still in the truck. Getting out, Desmond finds that they are in Monteriggioni. Desmond, Shawn, Elise and Anita, discuss why they can't access the 1507 memory just yet, with a call back to the first game. After setting themselves up in the area under the main villa, it was time to get to the main game proper.

    We open at the end of the previous game: December, 1499, just after Ezio gets Minerva's message. Understandably confused, he exits the vault where he finds some of the papal vestments on the ground, Rodrigo gone. Mario appears above him, telling him to get out and they eventually make their way out of The Vatican and back to Monteriggioni. Along the way, Ezio tells him what went on in the vault as a recap of what happened at the end of the last game.

    After running some errands in the city, including testing cannons, Ezio meets the others (Machiavelli, his uncle Mario, his sister Claudia, his mother Maria, Rosa and Catarina Sforza). Their reactions to Ezio sparing Rodrigo range from slight disbelief to, in Machiavelli's case, storming out of the meeting. Catarina, seeking an allegiance with Ezio, ends up in Ezio's bed. The next morning, Rosa storms in finding them and saying that it doesn't matter, the Borgia found them.

    Just then a cannon ball come flying through the window and destroys Altair's armor. As they make their way to their troops Ezio and Rosa meet with Mario in the courtyard of the villa. After a brief conversation, they split up again. Ezio tries to hold off the attackers with the cannon until most of the people got out. Then we get our first real introduction to Cesare. During the cut scene that follows, Mario is killed and Ezio is wounded (though how remains a question considering the guns of the time. Then again three were pointed at Ezio. Plus video game logic).

    When Ezio comes to, Rosa is helping to carry him away from the action. After escaping out the back of the villa, Ezio and Rosa decide to head to Rome, though not together. Ezio eventually collapses on the road to Rome. When Ezio comes to, he finds that he is in a house near Rome and that the woman living there tended to his injuries.

    After getting a new Assassin's outfit, he is told to meet Machiavelli. But before that, Ezio makes a little side trip to help a civilian in need. Eventually, he and Machiavelli meet and discuss the situation in Rome while riding on horseback. Seems the Borgia have completely broken the people's will to resist them. Ezio plans to fight back. Machiavelli says that they might have allies in the city but first they have to get something.

    A thief steals some of Ezio's money and temporarily leads him away from Machiavelli. Eventually, the two meet up again and Machiavelli leads Ezio to a contact at the Coliseum. There they have to save him and get an encrypted message off of a Vatican courier. Once he does, Ezio goes to the ruins of the Trajan Baths and gets attacked by men wearing wolf skins.

    Looking around, Ezio finds where they came from: Nero's Golden Palace under Rome. After picking up a key there, Ezio exits and Machiavelli tells him that they are the Followers of Romulus and they are false pagans that are driving people into the arms of the church (the other Followers of Romulus Lairs are optional). Using a series of underground tunnels, Ezio and Machiavelli get to a disused store room that will serve as the Assassin's headquarters in Rome. Here, Ezio tells Machiavelli the full extent of what Cesare did at Monteriggioni.

    Turns out the Assassins don't have that many allies in Rome: Bartolomeo and his mercenaries are busy fighting the French and the Borgia on two fronts; the madam of a local brothel popular with the clergy (hey, it was the 16th century) would rather attend parties then help the Assassins; and the thieves aren't talking to Machiavelli though he doesn't know why. Ezio decides to go out and recruit them.

    Recruiting the courtesans requires trying, and failing, to save the madam from slavers. This forces Ezio to put his sister and mother in charge. Recruiting the mercenaries requires relieving the Borgia attacks on Bartolomeo and his forces, through this mission and various side missions. Recruiting the thieves is a bit more difficult as Rosa doesn't entirely trust Machiavelli. She suggests spying on him. After seeing him converse with some Borgia guards, the thieves attack the guards shortly after Machiavelli leaves. After rescuing a wounded thief and making it back to Rosa, she agrees to help but she wants to be sure of Machiavelli's loyalty.

    This leads to Rosa getting a small side mission line involving these investigations, once players got to a certain percent completion, (replacing the OTL Christina missions) and confirming that Rosa is Desmond's several times removed great grandmother. After this, everyone meets at headquarters to discuss strategy. Ezio plans to break Catarina out of the Castel Sant'Angelo and, if he can, kill Cesare and Rodrigo while he's at it.

    During the infiltration, Ezio discovers that Rodrigo was away from the Castillo and Cesare leaves before Ezio has a chance to kill him. But he does rescue Catarina. After their escape, and while Ezio is still fighting the guards on the bridge leading to the Castillo, an explosion goes off distracting the guards enough to let Ezio escape.

    After getting back to the hideout, Machiavelli takes a little longer to get back. Though disappointed that Cesare and Rodrigo were not killed, he does agree to Ezio's idea to undermine the Borgia in Rome. First step is to start recruiting locals who are already fighting the Borgia. To recruit them you have to first destroy Borgia Towers around Rome (12 in all) and then help someone fighting the city guards.

    After eliminating some targets with their help, Leonardo da Vinci shows up. He says that the Borgia are forcing him to create War Machines. Leonardo asks Ezio to destroy them. Destroying the machine gun (really a rapid fire cannon) is a required mission, but destroying the bomber (the flying machine from the last game with a cannon on it), naval gun (a gondola with rockets on it) and the tank (a circular man powered cart with armor on top and cannons on the bottom) are optional. Though if you do destroy them all, Leonardo gives Ezio parachutes as a gift.

    Machiavelli set up carrier pigeons to communicate with the recruits by the time Ezio gets back to headquarters. Ezio tells the others that he plans to destroy the Borgia's base of support by killing Cesare's allies. Cesare's Banker, whom one of Claudia's clients, a senator, owes money to (I mean the senator owes money to the Banker not the other way around); the leader of Cesare's French allies, the Baron de Valois, whom Bartolomeo is fighting; and finding a way back into the Castel once everything else is ready. Rosa says that Lucrezia's latest plaything (her words), an actor named Pietro, has a key. Soon after, Catarina leaves never to be seen again in the series.

    Ezio goes after Cesare's Banker first. With Claudia and Rosa's help, he helps the senator get back home safely, get him the money he owes and tails him to the money drop off point. After replacing the guard with the money, Ezio takes the money to the party (the game gives you indicators from the other guards to tell you whether you are going the right way) with Rosa and Claudia's girls helping you (i.e. taking the money once the guards are distracted) once inside. After killing Cesare's Banker, Ezio returns to the brothel finding out that the girls were followed. Fortunately, Claudia and Rosa killed them before Ezio got there.

    Next the Baron de Valois. After helping Bartolomeo ward off an attack by the French, the Baron comes to his barracks, revealing that he kidnapped Bartolomeo's wife, Pantasilea, and will give her back once Bartolomeo surrenders. After scouting out the Baron's fortress, Ezio hits on the idea of using French armor to disguise Bartolomeo's men and, after "taking Bartolomeo prisoner", they get inside and take the Baron's men by surprise. The Baron is killed in the process.

    Next, getting the key to the Castel. Rosa, in the course of her investigations, has found no evidence either exonerating or condemning Machiavelli, but she still has her suspicions, which seem confirmed when one of her thieves comes in saying that the Borgia know where their spies are and that Machiavelli asked where they are earlier. After an attack on the inn, Ezio says he still believes that Machiavelli is innocent. Rosa is not so sure.

    After rescuing several thieves, who give information about Pietro including that Cesare has sent his top assassin Micheletto to kill him, Rosa says that she will wait but this is the last straw. If Ezio doesn't kill Machiavelli, she will. With no other choice Ezio, with the help of his recruits, goes to stop Micheletto alone. After following him, killing the guards and taking their costumes along the way, Ezio infiltrates the play and rescues Pietro. After a grateful Pietro hands over the key to the Castel, Ezio spots the real traitor a random thief who was carrying a pardon letter from the Borgia, and then kills himself after getting caught.

    Fortunately, what Rosa said earlier about killing Machiavelli was a ruse to get the traitor to relax. Rosa had been tailing the traitor herself, in the hopes of catching him, but Ezio got to him first. Later, Claudia is admitted into the Assassin Order. Machiavelli reveals to both Ezio and Rosa that he was the one who helped Ezio, under the guise of helping the Borgia with their plans. Then it's time to sneak into the Castel Sant'Angelo and kill Rodrigo and Cesare Borgia.

    With the previous entrance now blocked, Ezio now has to take a more direct route. He does this without getting caught and overhears Rodrigo trying, and failing thanks to Lucrezia, to poison Cesare (apparently attacking Monteriggioni was all Cesare's idea, he would not listen to his father). Cesare then successfully poisons Rodrigo, which causes Rodrigo's death (don't ask me how that works. Maybe Rodrigo choked on Cesare's hammy acting). Lucrezia then tells Cesare where the Apple is, while he was choking her. By the time Ezio gets in Cesare has already left. Fortunately, Lucrezia tells him where the Apple is too, the large ornament outside St. Peter's Basilica. It's not a complete turnaround for her, but you take what you can get.

    Fortunately, Ezio gets there first and escapes with the Apple. After that Ezio and the others further pull Cesare's support, until he is finally arrested. However, Cesare says that "Chains will not hold me! I will not die by the hands of man!" Ezio, worried, consults with Leonardo, Rosa, Claudia, Machiavelli, Bartolomeo and Pantasilea about it. Leonardo suggests asking the Apple and, after briefly touching it, Ezio realizes what needs to be done.

    Cut to Viana, Spain in 1507. Just after the beginning of the game Ezio is fighting mooks, when cannon fire hits and takes them out. He then makes his way through the battle to Cesare at the top of a battlement. After defeating him, Ezio throws Cesare off the battlement. The game then shows Ezio hiding the Apple under the Coliseum. Desmond gets pulled out of the Animus with the others ready to go. But, as Anita points out, there is no door handle. Shaun figures that it must be password activated. After figuring out the password, thanks to a message Ezio left on a wall in the villa, they go to the Coliseum.

    Desmond has to find a way into the vault while the others find the topside entrance inside Santa Maria Aracoeli. All the while Minerva and Juno can be seen giving competing messages about what to do (which only Desmond seems to hear). Eventually, Desmond unlocks the way into the vault and opens the door. After powering the stairs to the central pedestal, they get to the Apple. It displays symbols (two of which the Phrygian Cap and a Masonic eye; they are over taken by a stylized lion and a hunter's horn). When Desmond touches the Apple, the others freeze. Juno tries to get Desmond to kill Elise, but Minerva manages to stop her by putting Desmond into a coma before he reaches her.

    During a segment of the credits, Elise says that while she doesn't know what's going on but someone named Bill tells her to put Desmond back in the Animus. After the credits things reset to before the downfall of the Borgia. There are several DLCs: two separate dungeons for some extra cash, The Copernicus Conspiracy and the Da Vinci Disappearance.

    The Copernicus Conspiracy (released in 2010) is an exclusive DLC for the Nintendo Sapphire and PC, though went the game gets rereleased for the eighth generation of consoles it gets bundled in with the other DLC. It involves Ezio keeping Copernicus alive while he is in Rome to make his observations on the nature of the universe.

    The Da Vinci Disappearance (released in April 2011) involves Ezio meeting Leonardo in 1506 and getting involved in a plot find the so called perfect number of the Hermeticists and their leader Ercole Massimo. The number turns out to be a set of coordinates: 43 39 19 N 75 27 42 W, Turin, New York, though Ezio and Leonardo don't know that. However, the numbers and a letter change to: 52 22 0 N 4 54 0 E or Amsterdam. We hear Elise telling Shaun and Anita that since Minerva wanted them to head north, they'll head north.

    Multiplayer:

    This game has a fairly unique take on multiplayer. You take on the role of an Abstergo employee who goes into the Animus, take on the role of someone from the game (minor targets of Ezio's all of them) and try hunting each other around the map. Whoever gets the most points from killing the most players wins. For 2-16 players. Online only.

    Gameplay:

    Expanding slightly on the tools of the previous game, players can now chain multiple kills together, provided there are enough guards within range of your weapons. In this game, instead of making money off of repairing Monteriggioni, players make money by rebuilding the city of Rome. Well, certain buildings (banks, tailors, art merchants, blacksmiths, doctors, aqueducts, monuments) and whenever you buy a building you get money. Banks will hold up to 80,000 Florins and players can pick up their earnings at any bank location.

    Leonardo is also on hand to give you more than just parachutes (though you still have to pay him): poison darts, a climb glove and double bracers for hidden blades. The game is still the sandbox stealth game, though set in only one city. The assassin recruits can be called in to assist you and, depending on how many recruits are available, send a hail of arrows at your enemies. You can also send the recruits out on missions around Europe (and Istanbul and Calcutta), though this makes them unavailable for missions. Speaking of, a new feature, starting with this game in the series, are Sync Objectives. These are optional objectives that you can complete to get 100% Sync, or rather 100% completion. These range from completing a mission in a set time limit to not getting detected to not killing anyone at all to making sure you or someone else doesn't get hit. It's maddening for completionists and one hundred percenters as, while most are relatively easy, there are some that are annoyingly difficult.

    Achievements/Trophies:

    Julius Caesar: Get every other trophy -/Platinum

    Technical Difficulties: Attempt to access Sequence 9 for the first time 10g/Bronze

    Battle Wounds: Complete DNA Sequence 1 20g/Silver

    Sanctuary! Sanctuary!: Find a secure place to hide and re-enter the Animus 20g/Bronze

    Rome in Ruins: Complete DNA Sequence 2 20g/Silver

    Fixer-Upper: Complete DNA Sequence 3 20g/Silver

    Principessa in Another Castello: Complete DNA Sequence 4 20g/Silver

    Fundraiser: Complete DNA Sequence 5 20g/Silver

    Forget Paris: Complete DNA Sequence 6 20g/Silver

    Bloody Sunday: Complete DNA Sequence 7 20g/Silver

    Vittoria Agli Assassini: Complete DNA Sequence 8 20g/Silver

    Requiescat in Pace: Complete DNA Sequence 9 20g/Silver

    A Knife to the Back: Secure the Apple of Eden 50g/Gold

    Perfect Recall: Achieve 100% Synchronization with any sequence other than Sequence 1 30g/Bronze

    Déjà Vu: Replay a memory 30g/Bronze

    Undertaker 2.0: Discover the Shrine in the Catacombe di Roma 20g/Bronze

    Golden Boy: Discover the Shrine in the Treme di Traiano 20g/Bronze

    Gladiator: Discover the Shrine in Il Colosseo 20g/Silver

    Plumber: Discover the Shrine in the Cloaca Laterano 20g/Silver

    Amen: Discover the Shrine in the Basilica di San Pietro 20g/Silver

    Bang!: Destroy the Machine Gun 20g/Bronze

    Splash!: Destroy the Naval Gun 20g/Bronze

    Boom!: Destroy the Aerial Bomber 20g/Bronze

    Kaboom!: Destroy the Tank 20g/Bronze

    Home Improvement: Renovate 5 buildings in the Antico District 20g/Bronze

    Tower Offense: Burn all the Borgia Towers 20g/Bronze

    Show Off: Complete 10 Guild Challenges 20g/Bronze

    .. .- -- .- .-.. .. ...- .: Solve all of Subject 16's Puzzles 20g/Silver

    Perfectionist: Earn 3 Gold Medals in the Animus Virtual Training Program 20g/Bronze

    Brotherhood: Recruit 3 Assassins 20g/Bronze

    Welcome to the Brotherhood: Train a recruit all the way up to the Rank of Assassin 20g/Bronze

    Capture the Flag: Remove all the Borgia Flags in Rome 30g/Bronze

    In Memoriam: Collect all the Feathers 20g/Bronze

    Dust to Dust: Collect one artifact in 2012 20g/Bronze

    Serial Killer: Complete an Execution Streak of 10 kills 20g/Bronze

    Spring Cleaning: Kill a guard with a broom 10g/Bronze

    Your Wish is Granted: Throw money down a well 10g/Bronze

    Fly Like an Eagle: Jump with the parachute off the Castel Sant'Angelo 10/Bronze

    The Gloves Come Off: Win the highest bet in the fights10g/Bronze

    Mailer Daemon: Access your E-mail in 2012 20g/Bronze

    Multiplayer achievements:

    Synchronization Established: Complete an entire Session with at least one kill 10g/Bronze

    Needle in a Haystack: Kill your target while hiding in a hay bale 5g/Bronze

    Strong Closer: Take the lead 10 seconds from the end of the Session and win the game 20g/Bronze

    Fast Learner: Kill your target and escape your pursuer in 10 seconds 25g/Bronze

    Job Skills: In Open Conflict kill your target and escape 20g/Silver

    Download Complete: Reach level 50 40g/Silver

    Role Model: Receive all the Co-op Bonuses in 1 Session 20g/Bronze

    Overachiever: Score 750 or more points on a single kill 20g/Bronze

    Abstergo Employee of the Month: Receive all bonuses at least once 20g/Bronze

    Ahead of the Curve: Perform a Double or Triple Escape 20g/Bronze

    DLC: The Da Vinci Disappearance:

    Strong-Arm: Throw a Long weapon, a Heavy weapon and a smoke bomb more than 10 meters at a guard 10g/Bronze

    High Roller: Win 10,000 Florins playing Hazard 20g/Bronze

    Il Principe: Receive 100% synch in ACB and full synch in the Da Vinci Disappearance 100g/Silver

    Airstrike: Kill 10 guards with a single arrow storm 20g/Bronze

    GPS: Complete the Da Vinci Disappearance 20g/Silver

    Clowning Around: Beat up five thirsty harlequins 30g/Silver

    Special Delivery: Double assassinate from a parachute 20g/Bronze

    Grand Theft Dressage: Steal five horses from their riders, while on horseback 20g/Bronze

    Going Up: Kill a guard with the bag that drops from a lift 5g/Bronze

    Easy Come, Easy Go: Pay 500 Florins to an orator, then steal it back 5g/Bronze

    Review:

    Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was released for the Xbox 2, Apple iTwin and Nintendo Sapphire in 2010 (November 16 in North America, November 18 in Europe, November 19 in Australia and November 20 in Japan), with a PC release in March 2011. The game play was tweaked a little but not too much. Nevertheless, the game got scores in the high 8s-low 9s, with an occasional 10 thrown in. Still the features that were added gave fans enough.

    This game was another success for Ubisoft. While the producers wanted to move on, they weren't quite ready to leave Ezio and Rosa just yet. So, for the next game, they decided to wrap up their stories, along with Altair's story, while giving some Revelations.

    -Review of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood by R.C. Anderson, Nothing is True: A History of Assassin's Creed on Consoles, Gamesovermatter.com, November 27, 2017.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019 at 7:28 PM
  12. Threadmarks: Fall 2010 (Part 2) - Dark Humanity

    RySenkari Lisa Simpson 2020

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Dark Humanity

    Dark Humanity is the fourth console game in the Velvet Dark series, continuing from the events established in Velvet Dark: Conspiracy. Like the previous games in the series, it's a sci-fi based FPS title starting Joanna Dark and her sister, the AI construct Velvet. It continues the series' themes of humanity's relationship with artificial intelligence and the nature of the human mind, along with the theme of government conspiracies and corporate power. It's a fully HD FPS featuring the series' best graphics and most refined gameplay to date, but also features less shooting segments than any previous game in the series, incorporating elements of both RPG and puzzle titles to embellish the personal journeys of Joanna and Velvet as they attempt to protect both humanity and benevolent AI from the twin threats of an overbearing government determined to stomp out AI at all costs and the malicious AI that has given rise to the government's efforts. The game's overarching plot thread involves unraveling the conspiracy that started the events of the previous game, in which two malevolent AI programs attempted to take over and destroy the United States government, prompting a massive extermination campaign against all AI programs, including Velvet, who has been forced underground with her sister. Unlike previous titles, particularly Synthesis and Conspiracy, in which Joanna and Velvet frequently interacted and shared a constant bond, Dark Humanity forces the sisters apart for around a third of the game, but then brings them back together for the second half in which the player is allowed to switch between them, sometimes in mid-mission. Velvet's playstyle is much more immaterial than Joanna's, as Velvet can freely move in cyberspace, transferring herself between robot bodies almost like an Agent in The Matrix, able to transfer herself into almost anything electronic, while Joanna is much more physical and plays like more of a typical FPS character. The two sisters can even execute synergy moves, with Velvet able to detect AIs and Joanna able to hack and interrogate them. Though Rare has spent a great deal of time and money developing the game's control system, and the FPS action is some of the smoothest ever seen on a console, with incredibly accurate aiming and realistic damage reactions and enemy AI, the game itself plays less like an FPS than almost any other FPS on the market, and controls much differently than something like a Call Of Duty game, with a more deliberate style of aiming and firing. While players are able to react extremely quickly and shoot extremely accurately, the game plays almost like an "anti-FPS", even as it has all the hallmarks and appearances of a first person shooter. This evolution of gameplay style is a deliberate attempt to separate the game from the growing crowd of FPS titles, and to establish that Dark Humanity occupies its own niche. It's not just a "sci fi FPS", it's a fully cinematic first person experience designed to provide unique gameplay and a thought provoking story. Five years in the making, Dark Humanity was designed to be like no other game ever made, and Rare is fully committed to setting the game apart not just from its fellow FPS titles, but from the last three games in the series. Cinematically, Dark Humanity is a rich experience, with a strong crew of voice actors. Rebecca Mader returns as the voice of both Joanna and Velvet, Crawford Wilson reprises his role as a slightly aged up Scam (who is much less of a comedy relief character in this game, having been through a lot since the events of Conspiracy), and the game features actors such as Bruce Campbell, Martin Csokas, Annabeth Gish, Chi McBride, and Brett Dalton in prominent roles, along with a few career voice actors including Yuri Lowenthal, Tara Strong, and Hannah Telle. The game features some of the best graphics to ever appear in a console title, with cinematics eclipsing those featured in games such as Thrillseekers 2 and Final Fantasy XII, and even a few later titles including Necrocracy 2. The game also features an extensive multiplayer mode, including both competitive, co-operative, and counter-operative modes. These modes take advantage of the game's hacking and cyberspace features, which allows for new strategies never before possible in a multiplayer FPS title.

    Dark Humanity begins not with the player controlling Joanna, but Velvet, as the AI/cyborg operative infiltrates a government data center, presumably to take a file connected to the targeting of several AIs slated to be killed. This mission gives the player a glimpse of Velvet's abilities, but is mostly standard FPS fare, though there are some parts that can only be traversed by connecting Velvet to cyberspace to move through walls and security barricades. The mission ends with Velvet seemingly being shot to pieces, but she manages to upload herself into cyberspace just in time, and this is where the opening logo and cinematics actually play, with Velvet now fully in the cyberworld, as we get some exposition about the ongoing struggle of AIs to hide from the government's death squads. Velvet communicates with Scam as she tries to get another lead, and we see some missions play out in cyberspace itself, which morphs and shifts somewhat like the Matrix. After a couple of missions in cyberspace, Velvet is able to download herself back into a clone body, and she meets with her contact AI, discussing Joanna's possible whereabouts while also trying to make sense of who's friend and who's foe. As the player progresses through the game, they won't be able to easily tell who's human or who's an AI, who's on what side, who's good or who's evil, all of which must be gleaned by completing missions, interacting with various people, and experiencing the game as the characters do. Velvet's goal is to establish a safe haven for benevolent AI, a place where AI constructs can roam freely in physical form while also easily uploading themselves to and moving around cyberspace. All of this is done under the auspices of what's left of the Genesis Institute, and its genius leader, Daniel Carrington. As Velvet works to protect her fellow AI, we discover that she has gotten more ruthless out of necessity. Velvet's deeds in the game aren't entirely heroic: at times, she acts viciously and kills innocent people in order to protect AI programs. This does disturb her, as she has a great deal of sympathy and love for humanity, even though it's capable of great evil. In a way, the game continues the series' parallels with Blade Runner, with Velvet almost acting in a similar fashion to Roy Batty as she fights to protect AI from extermination. It's implied that this has put somewhat of a strain on the relationship between Velvet and her sister Joanna, and as the game progresses with Joanna still not having made an appearance, we can sense the emotional impact of Velvet's time apart from Joanna. In the meantime, the game also acknowledges the presence of truly malevolent AI programs, some seeking power, others seeking revenge. Over all of this lurks the conspiracy that has driven a wedge between AI and humanity, with unraveling the identity of the figure that drove AI and humanity apart being the primary goal of the game, even over Velvet's goal of keeping her fellow AI programs safe. The first major climax of the game comes as Velvet infiltrates the headquarters of XOarch, a company that is attempting to produce "domesticated AI" with the support of the government: an AI programmed to be completely subservient to humanity with no thoughts of its own and no way to rebel. Velvet attempts to hack into this facility and erase all work on the project, but in doing so, she accidentally absorbs some of its code, and is forced into compliance by the company's CEO. It looks like Velvet is about to be turned into a mindless slave, only for "Velvet" to reveal that she's in fact Joanna, having been converted into an AI program for the purposes of overriding vulnerabilities in her sister's code. Joanna's presence eradicates the compliance code, and Joanna begins to fight the XOarch CEO's guards and security system in realspace, while in cyberspace, Velvet synchronizes with her sister by literally fighting the hostile code in perfect sync with her sister's actions in realspace, while the player controls both of them at the same time in a hybrid split-screen/cutscene switch sequence that's unlike anything that's ever been done in a video game before. After the battle is concluded and the sisters make their escape, Joanna sits down in seclusion, and the two have a conversation in the cyberworld, echoed by Joanna appearing to talk to herself in realspace. The real Joanna Dark is in cybersleep in Carrington's lab, with the code working as a sort of cyber projection of Joanna's will, enabling Joanna and Velvet to operate both independently and in complete synchronization, with the two sisters sharing their thoughts and emotions during this time. Velvet expresses her guilt about her recent actions to Joanna, and Joanna expresses a sort of mixture of disappointment and acceptance, with the implication being that the sisters' thoughts are bleeding into each other. Carrington observes this phenomenon too, and it worries him. It also raises the specter of whether or not malevolent AI programs have absorbed this evil from the humans that created them, but Velvet answers that if AI can only be evil because of humanity's hand in its creation, wouldn't that say the same for good-natured AI? Ultimately, Joanna and Velvet re-affirm their desire to get to the bottom of the conspiracy that seeks to wipe out AI, and Joanna re-uploads into her own body to operate independently while Velvet supports her. From this point forward, Joanna takes over as the game's primary protagonist, but the player will still get many opportunities to control Velvet as the plot works toward its conclusion.

    There are now three main antagonistic forces at work: XOarch, crippled by Velvet and Joanna's assault but still active and dangerous, the government itself, and the mysterious conspirator. Joanna knows that there are still forces working within the government that seek to protect AI and to abolish the laws mandating its eradication. She works on unraveling some of these threads, seeking out defectors and potential clues as to both the conspirator's identity and the government's next targets. Meanwhile, Velvet works behind the scenes to help Joanna hack and infiltrate certain facilities. Joanna soon becomes acquainted with Dr. Nadia Sevier, a medical and cybertronics expert who was working on a breakthrough in medical AI when the ban came down. She reveals that she's still been working secretly on her project, known as Seraph (think Baymax, but more serious and less cuddly, and in the form of a human doctor). Seraph is a program capable of curing almost any ailment, but Sevier's project has been stymied by a pharmaceuticals company which was working on a rival program. Joanna infiltrates this company and learns that someone within the company was working on a biological agent with the potential to sicken a large fraction of humanity. As Joanna works to prevent the agent from being dispersed by what turns out to be a rogue employee of the company, she is captured by agents of XOarch, and is about to be implanted with an AI program, only to be saved by Scam, who manages to disable XOarch's electrical power and give Joanna time to escape. She is able to then stop the biological agent and save the Seraph program as well, though Sevier is tragically killed. Joanna and Velvet gain more clues as to the identity of the conspirator as the government seems to be engaged in a kind of cyber civil war with itself as AI supporters and agents of the government battle it out in the cyberworld. During all of this, Joanna acts somewhat strangely, but is able to continue doing her job even as Velvet gets more and more disillusioned with her own actions. Events come to a climax as Joanna seems to be on the verge of determining the identity of the conspirator, at the same time that Velvet has become a leader of the AI forces rebelling against the government. This culminates in a battle between Joanna and the government official responsible for carrying out the AI extermination, but when the time comes for Joanna to put a bullet in him, she puts a bullet in Velvet instead. As Velvet falls, lifeless, to the ground, Joanna reacts not with horror at her own actions, but with cold professionalism. The government official turns out to be an AI, and he deactivates as soon as Joanna "accomplishes" her mission. Then, Joanna awakens in Carrington's lab, asking about her sister, but unable to remember shooting her. Carrington reveals himself as the conspirator, the one behind the events of both this game and the previous one. Carrington reveals that after the events of Synthesis, which led to heavy government restrictions on AI development, he knew that it would only be a matter of time until conflict erupted between the government and AI. In order to protect benevolent AI, Carrington had to orchestrate events in such a way that he could bring all AI programs under the control of the Genesis Institute, to keep them safe and continue research on them until they could be perfected. Joanna continues to ask about Velvet, and Carrington, showing deep regret, tells Joanna that Velvet had grown too dangerous, and had become a variable he couldn't control, until he was forced to kill her. Joanna is furious at Carrington, since Velvet is his own daughter, but Joanna can't bring herself to kill him because she's programmed to be unable to. When Joanna had been "captured" by XOarch, she really was implanted with an AI program, one that programmed her to protect humanity by taking out all threats to it. Carrington knew that even he wouldn't be able to completely tell the difference between safe and unsafe AI, and instead programmed Joanna to know the difference. He then sends Joanna out to end the war by taking out the last few AI programs that pose a threat to humanity, while he plans to keep all the safe AI programs at the Genesis Institute. The next few missions show Joanna carrying out this programming but also openly mourning her sister. She carries some of Velvet's benevolence within her, and while she aches for revenge, she also seems to know that Carrington's intentions are good, and not just because of the AI chip implanted within her. Her final target is an AI named Evangel, programmed to spread the last remaining sample of the biological agent. Joanna defeats Evangel, but is infected, and decides to isolate herself rather than to return to the Genesis Institute, not wanting to spread the virus to her father and the people working there. As she sits, she fades into a coma, and awakens in the cyberworld, guided by Velvet, who remains alive inside the cyberworld, disconnected from everything. Velvet seems to have gone mad in her isolation, but as Joanna nears, she realizes that Velvet has been talking to "Joanna" the entire time, a dark fragment of herself. Carrington never intended to kill Velvet, Velvet told Carrington to "kill" her to keep "Dark Joanna" contained. Joanna realizes that the demands that have been made on Velvet have twisted her, creating a malevolent AI that has completely assumed Joanna's nature. Joanna then wonders if she herself has died and has become an AI, since she had Carrington's chip implanted in her. In a mind-bending, reality-twisting sequence, the player as Joanna must hunt down and kill "Dark Joanna", but Dark Joanna's AI is based on the player's own actions as Joanna throughout the game, making the player truly believe that they're fighting themselves, while coming to doubt how real the original Joanna truly is. At the end of this sequence, Velvet sacrifices herself by annihilating both herself and Dark Joanna, while Joanna begs her not to do so. Joanna wakes up in the same spot she "died", as Seraph administers an antidote to her. Meanwhile, we see another Joanna (a reserve cybernetic body Carrington made in case anything happened to the real on) in the Genesis Institute, and it wakes up as Dark Joanna (the game explains in a somewhat convoluted but also understandable way how Dark Joanna survived Velvet's annihilation). Dark Joanna kills Carrington and then begins killing the benevolent AI programs taking shelter in the Institute. Meanwhile, Joanna realizes that Seraph was only able to find her and heal her because Velvet also survived and is now inhabiting the Carrington AI chip within Joanna. Together, the two sisters make their way to the Genesis Institute to stop Dark Joanna. The final mission has two components, a cyberspace component with Velvet and a realspace component with Joanna. Velvet's goal is to protect the remaining benevolent AIs, while Joanna's goal is to take out the government agents that have been summoned to the facility by Dark Joanna. Along the way, Joanna finds Carrington's body, and she and Velvet both mourn him. The two sisters unite in one body to battle Dark Joanna, who is defeated after Joanna lands a fatal blow in realspace while Velvet surrounds and annihilates Dark Joanna's presence in cyberspace. As more government agents approach the building, Velvet realizes that she has to lead the surviving AIs to safety in cyberspace, while Joanna remains in realspace. The two sisters "embrace" (Joanna hugs herself tightly while code representing Velvet's essence flows out of her and into the aether), and Joanna stays to take "credit" for destroying the last of the rogue AIs. Joanna is offered a job as a government agent, but declines it and retires, deciding to head as far away from civilization as possible as she contemplates the events of the last few years and the loss of her sister. The surviving AIs find niches in cyberspace to lie dormant for when humanity decides to adopt AI again, living together in secret on the deep web in their own virtual world. Velvet, however, cannot live with them, and only wishes to reunite with her sister. Scam manages to find Joanna, and hooks up her isolated retreat with some "dumb" AI tech, basically a network of Alexa/Google Home-esque devices, which Joanna doesn't want but which Scam manages to cajole her into reluctantly accepting. The final scene after the credits is of one of Joanna's devices calling her name, then taking on Velvet's tone of speaking and saying something that only Velvet would know. Joanna laughs and says "I guess it's true... we humans can't live without our technology." "It can live without humans," Velvet replies, "But I can't live without you." Joanna says, "welcome home, sis", and holds a glowing Echo Dot-like object tightly to her chest as the game ends.

    Dark Humanity is universally praised by critics and fans alike, both for its outstanding graphics and gameplay and for its riveting, if sometimes slightly confusing story. The game seems to conclude the Joanna/Velvet Dark saga in a final and satisfactory way, though it still leaves the door open for the two sisters to return in some capacity (they are alive, after all, and it's confirmed that Rare is working on a follow-up game for the Sapphire's successor). It receives some of the year's best review scores, and sales are outstanding as well, making it one of the Sapphire's most successful titles of the year. Some critics do take issue with the game's happy ending, with some saying that everything is wrapped up too neatly, that the sisters shouldn't have reunited at the end, or that one of them should have died, but this is probably the biggest critical quibble with the game itself, and it ultimately becomes one of the best selling games on the Sapphire and a contender for 2010's Game of the Year. However, after the development of Dark Humanity and next year's Slaughtered Planet, many longtime Rare employees would begin to leave the company, either to take lucrative offers from other gaming companies or simply in some cases to retire. Whether or not this would impact the quality of Rare's games moving forward wouldn't be answered until the next generation of games, but it would be a major shakeup for a company that for 20 years has had a sterling reputation for great games and has provided some of the biggest franchises and characters of all time.
     
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  13. HonestAbe1809 Abraham Lincoln 2020

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2013
    Anyone else following the disastrous fire in Notre Dame? Hopefully, they can find a way to contain the damage and eventually rebuild. I can't even begin to understand how having a cultural treasure like that be possibly irreversibly damaged would feel like.
     
  14. Beta.003 Idk anymore, idk

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2017
    I know! It's horrible.
    Luckily, I've heard that only the roof and spire were damaged. Still a massive loss but the structure itself sounds okay.
     
    TheDetailer and Andrew Boyd like this.
  15. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Location:
    Santa Marta,Magdalena,West Venezuela
    Real story when read in tweeter Notre Dame in flames i thought was the university not the church..still a massive tragedy, a shame i was unable to go to paris on time to see it...DAMN.

    Umm ideas..Ideas...
     
  16. HonestAbe1809 Abraham Lincoln 2020

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2013
    There are 800-year-old stained glass windows that are still at risk and it's unlikely that the pipe organs will survive. As you said it's a massive loss but it could've been much worse.

    My mom and my sister were able to visit the cathedral before the fire. I'm sad that I wasn't able to, as even when it's rebuilt it still wouldn't be quite the same as before.
     
  17. Threadmarks: Fall 2010 (Part 3) - Dungeons And Diesel

    RySenkari Lisa Simpson 2020

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Bulwark Of Stonewall

    Bulwark Of Stonewall is a WRPG produced and developed by Vin Diesel's independent gaming company for the Sapphire, Xbox 2, and iTwin. Co-produced by Diesel and Ken Rolston, the game takes place in the country surrounding a massive fortress that forms what's left of an ancient dying kingdom called Stonewall. The protagonist is a knight of that kingdom tasked with venturing beyond the kingdom's borders in search of a way to bring power and glory back to Stonewall before its enemies destroy it. The player has a great deal of creative freedom in this game, with the entire world opened up right from the introductory sequence (though defeating enemies in certain areas will be difficult). The protagonist can either be male or female, and the game's creation system is heavily inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, which Diesel has been playing for more than 30 years. This lets the player choose their character's race, affinities, traits, and statistics, and also allows them to recruit NPC allies to their party, some of whom can also be customized to a limited degree. Combat is fairly slow-paced and somewhat random, though a skilled and leveled up character will still be able to defeat most enemies fairly easily. There are hundreds of different sidequests, and rather than a main quest line, instead, every side quest has a certain amount of value toward the main quest, which will then open up new quests that will eventually allow the main campaign to be completed. Some side quests don't advance the main story at all, but others tie in heavily, and even after earning enough quest value to complete the game, the player can still do side journeys and ignore the main quest for as long as they wish. Stonewall itself can be expanded upon somewhat, though don't expect any type of town-building minigame. Instead, it can be fortified to an extent, certain defense quests can be opened up there, and the player's relationship with certain NPCs who live there can also change. There's no romance storyline in the game, no marriage option, though the player does have the option of "dating" certain characters if their relationship with them is strong enough. The game features a wide variety of different races and magical creatures, and there's a significant quest line devoted to slaying certain legendary beasts to protect the realm from their dangerous power. The game features plenty of other collectibles and secrets designed to reward players who venture off the beaten path, and is one of the biggest worlds ever seen in a console WRPG, with an incredible amount of things to do and places to go. The game's graphics are decent, about average for WRPGs of the time, with more attention paid to creating a more detailed and content heavy world than is paid to enhancing the graphics. There's plenty of voice acting in the game, with Diesel himself voicing the King of Stonewall, who gives some quests to the player and also helps fight off attackers at certain points in the game. Diesel was also able to get a few of his celebrity and D+D playing friends to voice certain characters, including fellow celebrity D+Der Dame Judi Dench (who narrates the game and also plays an important NPC) and his Transporter and Fast And The Furious co-star Ziyi Zhang, who voices a potential companion character. Diesel said that he wanted to make the player feel as much as possible like they were playing through a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, with the game explicitly designed with that feeling in mind.

    The actual plotline of the game involves bringing glory back to the dying kingdom of Stonewall, while occasionally returning to defend it from attackers. The titular Bulwark is a massive fortress, almost like a city in and of itself, and its facilities can improve as the player continues through the game, selling better equipment and even having secret passages open up. Bringing glory back to Stonewall involves finding magical artifacts and bringing back treasures, while also doing battle against the kingdom's enemies, including an evil wizard named Deothane and an ambitious prince named Lance. The player can also do battle against a menacing dragon that was responsible for the queen's death, a dragon named Lutanius who guards an enormous treasure pile on the far side of the world. In order for the game to be won, either Deothane or Lance must be defeated, and they can only be defeated by fulfilling enough quests to raise the quest level to a certain amount, which typically requires playing about twelve hours' worth of main story questlines (but can be done by speedrunners in just over an hour). While playing straight through to the end of the quest is possible, the player will have a tough time if they don't take things a bit slower, getting good equipment and building up the bulwark somewhat to survive attacks from enemy armies. In order to do this, the player will need to be a sufficiently high level. It's possible to level up to 30 in this game, but the main quest is generally beatable around level 20. Even after reaching level 30, there's plenty of ways to power up the protagonist, so becoming level 30 isn't a dead end by any means, as runes, spells, and equipment can be collected to make the protagonist vastly more powerful. Though many details of the ending can change, the ending itself is basically the same no matter what the player does: the kingdom of Stonewall is brought back to its former glory and becomes a thriving kingdom once again. Once the main quest is completed, the player is able to return to a previous save to continue doing side quests at their leisure.

    Bulwark Of Stonewall is released in October 2010. It's highly praised by critics, who love the attention to detail and the game's uniqueness compared to other WRPGs of the day. Being a gamer himself, Vin Diesel wanted to make a good game and put in a great deal of work along with his fellow developers, even as he was filming movies during the time of the game's production. He refused to release a game that he himself wanted to play, and was exceedingly proud of the final product, promoting it heavily on whatever platforms he could. While Bulwark Of Stonewall isn't quite a game of the year contender, it's still a unique and excellent experience, and a recommended play for all RPG fans. Its sales are extremely good, turning a big profit for Diesel's studio which makes future games, including future games in this series, possible. Bulwark Of Stonewall has a small amount of DLC in the form of extra quests and costumes, but there isn't much of it, with Diesel wanting to release a complete game and not, in his words in an interview shortly after the game's release, "nickel and dime" his fellow gamers.

    -

    Vin Diesel: It's pretty awesome how much love Dungeons And Dragons is getting these days. Just the other day, I was flipping channels, and I saw, on Cartoon Network, a show about a game just like Dungeons And Dragons!

    Alex Stansfield: Oh yeah, Dungeon Dorks, that's a cool show.

    Diesel: Where these kids are playing and it affects the real world. That's such a neat idea for a show. I remember the cartoon back in the 1980s, the official one, and it had the kids going to a different world entirely, but in Dungeon Dorks the stuff actually comes out of the game into real life and they gotta deal with that, which I think would have been a great idea for a movie.

    Stansfield: Hey, maybe it still can be!

    Diesel: *laughing* Probably not while the cartoon's still running. It's why I couldn't name my king in the game Melkor, I wanted to name him Melkor but he's actually in Lord of the Rings and I couldn't get permission to do that. They wanted too much money and I wanted to put that money into the game itself.

    Stansfield: Your studio spent a lot of money on the game, were you ever worried it wouldn't be popular?

    Diesel: Oh, of course. You can make a great game and have it still flop, you can't make people play something, all you can do is make it as good as you can make it and hope for the best.

    Stansfield: It looks like so far the game's doing pretty well, so that's a good sign. Do you have any other Dungeons and Dragons related projects on the way?

    Diesel: Well, funny you should ask that, because I worked with some people while doing the game and they're fans of D+D too. One of the guys I met worked on some of the voices, his name is Matt Mercer and he's... he might be an even bigger fan of Dungeons and Dragons than I am.

    Stansfield: Oh yeah, I've worked with him before, he's an awesome guy. He is a HUGE D+D fan.

    Diesel: So... there MIGHT be something in the works with him, but I can't say too much right now because we're still planning everything out. And then, I talked to your friend Brittany, and she's a Dungeons and Dragons player too, and she might be a part of this project too. She actually mentioned you by name.

    Stansfield: Oh, she didn't say anything to me!

    Diesel: *laughs* Well, it's a big secret.

    Stansfield: Apart from that, are you planning a sequel to Bulwark of Stonewall?

    Diesel: Too early to say, but the chances look pretty good right now I think. We'll see.

    -from a Games Over Matter interview with Vin Diesel, posted on November 2, 2010
     
  18. Neoteros Dux Mediolani

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    Location:
    Duchy of Milan
    Had he gone into game developing rather than acting, I'm fairly sure that Vin would've made a few true classics along the way; he knows how to make a game fun.
     
  19. Coffeeincluded Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2015
    Critical Role?! Im a huge fan and I’ve been thinking about that show in this world!

    Also everyone on the show really is an incredibly kind and empathetic person.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019 at 1:47 PM
    Nivek likes this.
  20. RySenkari Lisa Simpson 2020

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    It did, and went about the same as it did IOTL.

    Yep, it'll be something like OTL's Critical Role! And while Brittany may or may not be involved with it, I do know that a certain daughter of hers with an affinity for tabletop games may find a seat at that table at some point...
     
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