29th November 2009

Assassin’s Creed 2 An Historic Adventure

Assassin's Creed 2The CaveChild and I have been playing Assassin’s Creed 2 almost non-stop since release day, and in my opinion, this is truly the best IP sequel title I have yet to play. Yes, it trumps Modern Warfare 2 in my game selection. We both appreciate the incredible amount of historical research and accuracy that went into Assassin’s Creed – right down to the speeches delivered by the heralds. I am probably one of the few people who actually pays attention to the entire ambience of a game’s environment and utterances of the NPCs. Mike covers much of the game play in the accompanying review video, but there are a few areas I wanted to touch on as well, so we decided to do a joint game review. He has completed the game, whereas I am about 80% complete on the storyline.

While there are small parts of Assassin’s Creed (both iterations) that are less than my favourite things to do in the game, they are inconsequential to the overall player experience. I have never been a fan of the race events, although I found the “collect the flag” races in AC1 easier than the gateway races in AC2, this is simply because the flags were easier for me to see on rooftops than the swirling white light effects used in AC2. I could make more use of Eagle Vision during these races, but that seems to add to my mild vertigo reactions to the speed and heights experienced in Assassin’s Creed 2. There have been a few times when I’ve experienced that “roller coaster feeling” throughout the game.


My favourite part of game play in Assassin’s Creed 1 were the missions and stealth tactics – and I was well pleased to see this not only continued but built upon in Assassin’s Creed 2. The new assassin abilities and weapons which have been given to Ezio added so much depth to his forays into a corrupt and dark Renaissance Italy, that I keep being disappointed when I run out of Assassin Contracts to fulfill for Lorenzo. For some reason, I find the combat skills in Assassin’s Creed 2 easier to use than when I played through Assassin’s Creed 1, but I’m not really sure why, considering that they are pretty well the same Eziobuttons. At times I do get frustrated with movement control, because it seems that Ezio is not wanting to do as he’s told, he’d rather move in a different direction or grab onto something I didn’t want him to, but all is overcome with perseverance – in my opinion it’s better to have to work at something and practice to get it right than for it to be too easy.

Speaking of practicing and levels of difficulty, the many puzzles in Assassin’s Creed 2 range from easy to OMG am I ever going to solve this one or beat the timer. It took a fair bit of work to earn those Assassin’s seals to gain Altair’s armour – but it was quite satisfying when I did it, and now Ezio gets to honour Altair by wearing his armour and brandishing his sword.

One of the new features in Assassin’s Creed 2 which I really like is ownership of the villa. I enjoyed restoring the town, collecting weaponry, artwork and armour. I only wish that there had been more to do with the villa and town, because I had all of the town’s upgrades completed by the time I had finished the Tuscany map. I also like the addition of the merchants – the doctor is a very welcome NPC and the ability to easily replenish my stocks of poison, medicine, throwing knives, bullets and smoke bombs. I really, really like the smoke bombs. I like being able to swim as well – and I think that the canals of Venice are now a little shallower due to all of the dead guards I’ve sent to their depths. Being able to dive into the water has also save me from countless guard attacks, and also that one time when I couldn’t see if there was a wagon of hay to leap into from the top of a church tower – so I dove into the water instead. Definitely like the non-drowning death improvement – now I just need to work on not falling to my desynchronization from great heights while climbing things.

Two of the challenges that I really had fun with were the wild carriage ride and flying on da Vinci’s wings. I only killed Leonardo once on the wild chase through the mountains, and really it’s not my fault that he leaned too far over and tipped the carriage over. My speed and cornering abilities had absolutely nothing to do with it. Flying was a challenge on a whole different level. It only took me a few attempts to get the hang of it and make it to the palace on time. Sort of.

Instead of collecting area or faction specific flags as in Assassin’s Creed 2, players now collect the six seals of the Assassin’s Tombs to gain Altair’s armour, the Codex Pages to gain knowledge and weapons in partnership with Leonardo da Vinci,  and the feathers which Ezio’s younger brother Petruccio treasured. Ezio must also find glyph symbols hidden around the towns in order to find out more information about the mysterious Subject 16, and taken piece by piece the video clips really don’t make much sense – until you get the big picture. The puzzles attached to the glyphs and Subject 16 are incredibly imaginative, and some of them have taken a lot of hit and miss guessing to solve. No matter their difficulty, though – each one has something of historic value to teach, which I do appreciate.

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28th November 2009

NFS Nitro Facebook Edition In Public Beta

Need for Speed Facebook EditionVancouverEA has announced the online beta version of Need For Speed Nitro – Facebook Edition. Developed by Vancouver social media studio Ayogo, this new addition to the NFS Ayogofranchise features car collecting, sharing, and competing with your friends to see who will be first to win the Bronze, Silver and Gold Cups. Ayogo and EA are looking for beta testers who can provide feedback which can then be used to improve the application. All you need to do to get involved is give the Need for Speed app access to your FaceBook profile, hit the track to rack up points and then report back to the app’s FaceBook page with feedback about your game play experience.

Vancouver – Congratulations to Adrian Crook on the release of Disney Interactive’s The Princess and The Frog, a title The Princess and The Frogwhich he helped design for Amaze Entertainment’s Wii and PC iterations. In this new title, players can experience Tiana’s exciting world set in the jazz-infused era of 1920’s New Orleans with the official video game inspired by the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures release of The Princess and the Frog, which opens everywhere on December 11th. Celebrate favourite moments from the movie and take on new challenges with Tiana, as she pursues her dreams in a fun adventure. Meet favorite characters from the film and new friends, triumph over enemies, play frog games in the bayou, create music, cook New Orleans style and so much more. Along the way, discover what it takes to make Tiana’s dreams come true! This game is also available for the Nintendo DS.

Nintendo Wii™ Key Features

* 30 replayable Wii-exclusive mini-games for 1-4 players
* Play & move to music, cook New Orleans cuisine, and try on multiple outfits with Tiana & her friends
* Collect Mardi Gras beads to trade for new dresses, fabrics, ingredients and recipes
* Explore quest hubs with drop-in/drop-out Multiplayer
* Discover five beautiful New Orleans hub locations including the French Quarter and the Bayou
* Have fun with eight playable characters and multiple NPCs

Vancouver Interactive Night OutVancouver – Thank you to everyone who came out to our first Vancouver Interactive Night Out at Yagger’s on West Pender – it was a great social evening, and we’re looking forward to the Holiday Event on December 18th. We hope you can join us in the back room at Yagger’s and share the holiday cheer. In celebration of our first event we held a business card draw for two Canadian-made game titles. (We may continue to do this at future events, as well).

Congratulations to our winners:

Dragon Age: Origins (360 version donated by Village Gamer) went to Roger Mitchell from Dropship Studios
FarCry 2 (360 version donated by Wendy Boylan from Ubi YVR) went to Stéphane Morichére-Matte from Catchy Consulting.

Music In Media AwardsLos Angeles – Congratulations to all of the Canadian Studios, Projects and Artists who won awards at the recent Hollywood Music In Media Awards, which were held on November 19th at the Kodak Theatre Complex in Hollywood.

Best Original Score – Video Game: Jesper Kyd – “Assassins Creed 2” (Ubisoft)

Best Original Song – Video Game: “I Am the One” from Dragon Age: Origins (Bioware) Written by Inon Zur and Aubrey Ashburn / Performed by Aubrey Ashburn

Best Original Song – Commercial Advertisement:2 Scoops” (Canada Credit) Written by Peter Holmes / Performed by Michelle Harding

Outstanding Music Supervision – Video Game: Simon Pressey – Dragon Age: Origins (BioWare)

Best Contemporary Christian Song: This Day Is Mine (remix) – Janyse

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25th November 2009

Seasonal Promotions, New Apps and Scrapbooking Software

G4BOXToronto –  G4BOX Inc. has some exciting American Thanksgiving promotions for its popular free to play action-MMORPG, Metin2.  “It’s that time of year again when we want to say a special thank you to our Metin2 community,” said Howard He, Chief Executive Officer of G4BOX, “We wish everyone a very special and happy Thanksgiving and hope they enjoy the special events and promotions we have in store for them.”

Here’s a preview of what’s in store for Metin2’s American Thanksgiving celebrations:

Part 1: 50% Bonus Experience
Event Duration: November 27th~December 4th, 2009 Players can level up and buy the gear they need faster with 50% bonus experience. The Metin2 special bonus metin2events will take place on November 27th, and last for one week. Metin2 players who are online during the event week will receive 50% EXP. Don’t miss this chance!

Part 2: The Special Thanksgiving Package Promotion Period: November 26th ~December 10th, 2009 A new Thanksgiving Package will be added to the Metin2 item shop. The package includes three of the most popular in-game items priced at 35% off on the regular price! Players should hurry to stock up on the favorite items since it is a limited time offer!

The Thanksgiving Package Includes:

. Enchant Change Scroll 3+1 Package
. Enchant Scroll 3+1 Package
. Hermit’s Advice

Liberty MobileToronto – Ever wonder what you would call your alter ego? Liberty Mobile Inc has released a unique iPhone app called The Name Game which is available in 3 different editions: Stage Name Edition, Rock Star Edition, and Gangsta Name Edition. Each version of the app is simple & fun. All you have to do is answer 3 outrageous questions to generate your very own personalized Rock Star, Gangsta, or Stage name.

Spin the wheel to reveal your own super cool & unique name, or “Mix it up” by shaking your iTouch/iPhone to generate random names. Each edition has over 100 funny & original names for plenty of laughs. So, if you’re looking to be the life of the party or just want to break the ice – this app is for you!
Each application can be downloaded for $0.99 now from the iTunes app store.

Winnipeg – The new Scrapbook MAX 2.0 School Bundle is the first digital scrapbooking software package designed specifically for school use, both in and out of the classroom. Developed in consultation with professional educators, the Scrapbook MAX 2.0 School Bundle includes the award-winning Scrapbook MaxScrapbook MAX 2.0 digital scrapbooking software (compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP), plus a collection of digital scrapbooking kits and templates created specifically for school-themed scrapbooking projects. The collection gives parents a creative way to scrapbook their children’s school years, and offers students an edge in school assignments.

Scrapbook MAX gives students the freedom to combine digital photos and text with creative templates and scrapbooking embellishments, all in a visual drag-and-drop environment. The software offers a variety of publishing options, allowing students to share their pages in high-quality print and digital formats. With 125 school-themed template pages and over 1000 embellishments, parents and children can choose from a variety of styles and themes to create beautiful school memory books and enhance everyday school assignments.

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24th November 2009

New Releases and New Records

UbisoftMontrealUbisoft Montreal has announced a record first week sales performance for Assassin’s Creed™ II, with 1.6 million units sold through worldwide according to internal estimates. This represents 32% growth over the first week sales of Assassin’s Creed. Launched in November 2007, Assassin’s Creed remains the fastest selling new video game intellectual property ever in the U.S.Assassin's Creed 2

Assassin’s Creed II has received an overwhelmingly positive reception from gamers around the world and from the video game trade press with to date an average user rating of 94% on Gamespot.com and over 91% average critics score according to GameRankings.com.

Assassin’s Creed II invites players to become Ezio, a privileged young noble in Renaissance Italy who’s been betrayed by the rival ruling families of Italy. Ezio’s subsequent quest for vengeance plunges players into a captivating and epic story that offers more variety in missions, surprising and engaging new game play elements, diverse weapons, incredible depth and lasting appeal and a profound character progression that will appeal to fans of the original Assassin’s Creed as well as entice players new to the brand.

BioWare Corp Edmonton BioWare™ has announced that it has set a new record for site traffic at DragonAge.com and new user registrations at its social networking site, Social.BioWare.com. With the release of Dragon Age™: Origins, the BioWare community has grown to a record 5 million registered users, propelled by outstanding word-of-mouth buzz amongst fans of the Dragon Age Origins90-rated role-playing game. As of October 13, 2009, DragonAge.com became the most highly trafficked web site in the EA network in 2009, including the main hub, EA.com. Dragon Age fans also drove the game’s Facebook® fan page to 30,000 fans since the page launched in June 2009, making it the fastest-growing EA property on Facebook – a remarkable feat for a new original intellectual property. The soon-to-be-released Mass Effect™ 2 saw a 33% increase in site traffic with the announcement of the Collectors’ Edition on November 4th, and a release of a video featuring the enemies of Mass Effect 2 on November 5th. Today, BioWare is re-launching MassEffect.com with a new design and more connectivity to BioWare’s social networking community at Social.BioWare.com, which has registered over 500K sign-ups in just five weeks, since its launch on October 13, 2009.

“We want to thank our fans for their enthusiasm and ongoing support. The passion within the community is not only helping drive momentum for Dragon Age referrals but our actively engaged fan base is eager for future content releases, which we are committed to deliver,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA. “We could not be more excited about the outstanding community growth. The connection we are fostering with our fans is direct and personal. This tremendous community will help set the stage for an incredible Mass Effect 2 launch on January 26th.”

IUGOVancouverIUGO Mobile Entertainment is pleased to announce that their latest title, A.D.D. has finally been approved! After sitting in Apple’s review queue for nearly 6 months, IUGO’s frantic, fun and controversial game is available in the App Store for $2.99usd. A.D.D.’s content has been paired down through several Apple cuts, but still offers over 70 mini games chock full of humor, wit and charm. “We are going to work on redoing most of the A.D.D. Archerymini-games Apple asked us to cut to bring the mini game count back to over 100, “promises Sarah Thomson, IUGO’s Director of Business Development. “We’re super stoked the game is finally available to our users and we hope the wait was worth it!”

Brace yourself for high impact, fast-paced gaming! A.D.D. is just Another Dumb Distraction. Blast through 70+ mini games jam-packed with humor, culture, controversy, and personality. Clean and quirky graphics combined with truly unique games will push your device and brain to the limits.


* 70+ mini games bursting with character
* 3 gameplay modes: Quickplay, Practice and Hardcore
* Eclectic, entertaining artwork
* Games that will max out the unique controls of your device
* Hours of replayability
* Online worldwide high scores

Digital LeisureGormleyDigital Leisure announced yesterday that their latest WiiWare title, Copter Crisis, will be available in North America on Monday November 30 for only 500 Wii Points.

As an elite Helicopter Rescue Squadron pilot, players are assigned to respond to any type of emergency anywhere at anytime. As the most recent member joining this elite rescue squad, rookies have to Copter Crisiscomplete training missions and become familiar with the latest in helicopter rescue technology. Once the Captain thinks his latest trainee is ready, players are tasked with executing rescue missions all around the Black Wolf Canyon.

The Wii Remote™ becomes the control stick as players guide their copters along the canyons while avoiding falling rocks, severe weather conditions and even anti-aircraft fire! Tasks include rescuing lost hikers, delivering supplies to remote areas, assisting on scientific missions and even blasting your way into hidden underground cavern systems. Complete all of the objectives to rise through the ranks, taking on the toughest of rescues in more than 30 missions. Copter Crisis uses the Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection Pay & Play and can connect up to 10 additional military copters at one time.

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20th November 2009

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Party

The Cavechild and I have been playing Assassin’s Creed II for the 360, and our playing experience has been great thus Assassin's Creed 2far. We’re working on an in-depth review, but in the meantime, a glitch has been experienced. In the wee hours of last night and once I gave up possession of the disc, Mike continued working his way through the main missions. He was working his way through Sequence 09, Memory 08 – Having a Blast. The trouble began when he tried to eliminate a small group of rooftop guards. As he states in the video, he thankfully passed a checkpoint before the fun started, as the game froze. In many hours of game play, this is the only problem that has been encountered.


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15th November 2009

A Flurry of New Videos From Ubisoft

UbisoftMontrealUbisoft has released several new videos over the past few days on two channels. To watch the latest Assassin’s Creed 2 Lineage short movies, head over to the Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed UK channel for the English versions. If you want to watch the complete movie at one go, it has been released as a 35 minute film, also on the UK channel. To recount the story thus far, assassin Giovanni Auditore is tasked with investigating the plot behind the murder of the Duke of Milan. The answers he uncovers implicate Italy’s most powerful families, and not surprisingly, the evil plot reaches all the way to the Vatican. As Giovanni draws closer to the truth, he too becomes hunted. Now he must not only unravel the threads which lead to the conspirators, he must protect his family. Speaking of family, I may have to show the short movie to my Mother, so that she can see that there is much more to the games I play than just murder, mayhem and blowing things up. I’ve been a gamer for …several… years now, and she still doesn’t “get it” so maybe Lineage will help – at least a little.

There has also been a new dev diary for Avatar the Game released. Viewers can watch and learn more about Avatar in the Na’vi Gameplay Walkthrough video with Executive Producer Patrick Naud.


Other recent video releases include an Achievements video for Shaun White Snowboarding World Stage and a new Splinter Cell: Convictions “Behind Closed Doors” dev video called Create A Hero.  If you missed Behind Closed Doors Part 1 – Redefining Splinter Cell, you can watch it here.  I may have to pick up the Splinter Cell Convictions novel to read so that I’m more up to speed when Convictions comes out on February 25 2010.  Release timing for this game is excellent – with new titles from Ubisoft and Bioware, I will have loads to do while waiting out the Olympic mayhem that will be occurring on the other side of the Port Mann Bridge during the same time period.

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12th November 2009

Fort Zombie Increases the Terror with New Update

Kerberos ProductionsVancouverKerberos Studios has released an update to the lite action/RPG, Fort Zombie. Adding brand new content such as additional weapons, expanded town properties, and new mission locations, the survivors of Piety, Indiana now have even more ammunition (figuratively and literally) against the flood of zombies that have invaded the peaceful town and turned it into a battleground for survival.Fort Zombie

Additionally, the latest update to Fort Zombie will enhance a variety of game aspects across the board, introducing more sound options, a mid-mission healing system, and improved interactions with weapons and other game objects.

To receive the update to your Fort Zombie copy, go to “MY GAMES” on your digital download account.

Now is the perfect time to jump into all of the terrifying action of Fort Zombie. Fort Zombie is available through all major digital distribution channels for the suggested retail price of $9.99

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9th November 2009

The Sixth and Final Assassins Creed 2 Video Dev Diary

UbisoftMontreal – Earlier today Ubisoft released the final episode of their Assassin’s Creed 2 video dev diary series. Covering the importance of the Animus interface in the player’s Eziogame experience. Building on the foundation set in Assassin’s Creed, the development team took some risks in taking the Animus’ capabilities even further. Presentation Art Director Laura De Young says in the video that the team broke a few design rules to immerse the gamer more fully into Ezio’s story, offering such features as historical and local facts.

We also get a look at even more of the new features coming in Assassin’s Creed 2, which will be available in Canadian stores this November 23rd.  The video introduces Ezio’s family villa, which at the beginning of the game will be in very sad disrepair. Through game advancement, the player can rebuild the villa, making it a vibrant and productive community. The villa will serve as Ezio’s Assassin Stronghold, and will also provide storage for all of the equipment and treasures acquired – something which makes the treasure hunter in me very happy. I hate it when I have to dispense with a treasure due to space constraints.


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6th November 2009

Penguin Books To Publish Assassins Creed II Novel

Penguin Books MontrealPenguin Books and Ubisoft announced today a groundbreaking partnership that will bring together the worlds of gaming and publishing in a unique collaboration. The new book, Assassin’s Creed Renaissance, is based on Ubisoft Entertainment’s blockbuster Ubisoftinteractive entertainment game Assassin’s Creed II®, and will be published in association with Ubisoft.

“Penguin is hugely excited to be publishing the novelisation to the second Assassin’s Creed game” said Editorial Director Alex Clarke. “This partnership presents at last a way for traditional book-publishing to cross-over with the ever growing and increasingly exciting world of gaming media.”

He continued: “Assassin’s Creed II offers a wonderfully rich gaming experience; Ubisoft have crafted a brilliant storyline with superbly realised characters which translates seamlessly into a wonderfully Assassin's Creed Renaissancefast-paced and enthralling historical thriller. For Penguin this dovetails perfectly with the appetite of historical fiction fans.”

Assassin’s Creed® is a record breaking game franchise that has seduced millions since its release in 2007. It became the fastest selling new video game ever in the US and the UK, with more than 9 million games sold worldwide for the first opus alone. This second game promises to captivate gamers and history-lovers alike on a similar scale.

“We’re delighted to be working with Penguin Books” said Rob Cooper, Managing Director of Ubisoft. “Assassin’s Creed Renaissance will offer the public a new and exciting way to experience the narrative world of Assassin’s Creed II. The book deal with Penguin, along with the Assassin’s Creed Lineage film series, is part of an ambition to bring the Assassin’s Creed franchise to multiple entertainment media. These projects along with the game itself will provide a truly immersive experience.”

Editor’s Note: According to this press release, Assassin’s Creed Renaissance will publish in the UK on November 26 2009, but does not say anything about Canada. AC Renaissance is listed on Amazon UK and Amazon.com, but a search on Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca gave no results for this title. I did find results on Chapters.ca for two Assassin’s Creed titles by Steven Barnes slated to publish in …2030? A search on Penguin.ca also resulted in zero results. A search for the author’s name, Oliver Bowden, on Amazon.ca resulted in a book titled “Assassin’s Creed” with a February 2010 release date from publisher Ace Books, which is a branch of Penguin Books. The same search on Chapters.ca returned several pages of results, but none for this author. Lots of Jamie Oliver cookbooks, though.

Hopefully this just means that the title has not yet been added to the two Canadian bookseller sites but will be soon.

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4th November 2009

Ludia and CBS Announce New Titles

LudiaMontreal – CBS Consumer Products, a unit of CBS Entertainment, announced today that eight new video games based on television’s top-rated and most beloved series will soon become available for fans. The rights holder to some of the most popular shows on television, CBS has teamed up with the industry’s most renowned casual games developers and video game publishers, including Montreal’s Ludia,  – to ensure that fans will be able to extend their experiences with their favorite shows in a fun and compelling way.

“These deals are perfect examples of our strategy to mine CBS’s deep portfolio of iconic television series across multiple platforms,” said Liz Kalodner, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Consumer Products. “We understand how passionate the fans of these programs are and how they are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to interact with them. Whether on console, handheld or the PC, we are working with some of the most innovative publishers and developers to ensure that we meet fans’ expectations.”

Ludia will be developing the following two properties for CBS:

The Amazing Race – 2010
Get ready for around-the-world competition with the video game based on the eight-time Emmy® award-winning television series The Amazing Race where team players split up in pairs for a remarkable journey across exotic locations in a race against time. Players will face frantic challenges and tasks as they navigate through detours, roadblocks and other unpredictable game elements from the show. Working together strategically throughout the game is essential as each team tries to discover hidden clues that are crucial to getting them to the Pit Stop first – and one step closer to ultimate victory at the check-in mat. This video game will be launched throughout North America across multiple platforms in tandem with the show’s 16th season.

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