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A look at Digital Extremes’ WarPath (PC/Xbox)

WarPath

Digital Extremes’ follow-up to 2005’s “Pariah” is the multiplayer-based first-person shooter (FPS) “WarPath” for the Xbox and PC. Published by Groove Games, the title was originally conceived as a sequel to Pariah, but the Canadian developer shifted gears early on and decided to make the game an entirely separate beast. During the development process, Digital Extremes’ goal was to create a fun game that featured elements from old-school FPS titles such as “Quake” and “Unreal”. Now that the game is on store shelves, the big question is whether or not they managed to deliver a title worthy of being compared to these classic titles.

The game’s story revolves around a fierce battle between three factions fighting for control of a planet situated in the Kaladi system. The current inhabiters, The House of Kovos, have been the planet’s guardians for generations. The Ohm, a clan of biomechanical beings, have their eyes set on invading the planet in order to enrich themselves and prolong their existence. The third faction, the humans, have recently settled on the planet and are about to be trust into this battle with the Kovos and the Ohm.

WarPath contains both single and multiplayer gameplay but the game has been designed as a multiplayer title. The single player element revolves around eliminating or completing certain tasks against your opponents, which are your standard weak A.I. bots. In the end, WarPath single player component is rather dull and gets uninteresting after a while.

The game looks pretty decent as it runs on an updated version of the Unreal 2.0 engine, which even after a few years of its release still looks solid. On the down side, it seems like a lot of textures and models that were originally designed for Pariah have been reused. Still, the game holds-up well against any modern day multiplayer FPS using the current Unreal engine.

It’s hard to gauge how well WarPath fares online as it has been a challenge to try to find someone to play against on Xbox Live. This is sad since a game like WarPath would shine in an online setting such as Xbox Live. This game screams multiplayer goodness thanks to its well designed maps and fast-paced action — too bad no one is online to share the fun.

WarPath has four multiplayer game types: deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture-the-flag and front-line assault. None of these game types actually scream innovation as they are your standard multiplayer FPS offerings. It would have been interesting to see an innovative game type set around the game’s weapons upgrade system.

If you’re big into the Xbox System Link feature, then this game is definitely something to consider. WarPath supports 2 to 16 player gameplay sessions (while the PC version supports up to 32 players), so it might be a good option to convince your friends to purchase a copy of the game for this purpose alone. Too bad we can’t say the same for the Xbox Live portion of the game.

In the end, it’s hard to recommend a multiplayer title such as WarPath when it’s difficult to get an online game going. As noted previously, you can still enjoy the game as a LAN title, but most console gamers use the Xbox Live component of the game as their multiplayer portal. Would the gaming community have embraced a game like WarPath if it would have been released a year earlier?

The good news is that WarPath is budget priced. You can purchase the Xbox version of the game for $29.99USD, or get the PC version for $19.99USD. Currently, the game isn’t supported on the Xbox 360. WarPath has been tagged “T” for Teen due to blood and violence.

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Painkiller: Hell Wars Review (Xbox)

Painkiller: Hell Wars

People Can Fly’s first-person shooter (FPS) “Painkiller: Hell Wars” has finally been released for the original Xbox console. The game blends elements from the both the original PC title and its expansion pack. But after numerous delays, is the game still worth picking-up for the aging Xbox console?

“Painkiller: Heaven’s got a Hitman” was originally released in 2004 on the PC. The game garnished plenty of critical praise for successfully creating a fun and entertaining old-school first-person shooter similar to id Software’s “Quake” and Croteam’s “Serious Sam”. Many reviewers even went as far as saying that the game overshadowed the overly hyped “Doom 3”. Painkiller eventually spawned an expansion pack dubbed “Battle out of Hell”, and soon after an Xbox port was revealed to be in the works. The game was first slated to be released in Nov. 2005, but was pushed back as the developer wanted to make sure the port lived up to it’s PC counterpart.

As Painkiller: Hell Wars finally rolled-out onto store shelves, it was obvious from the start that People Can Fly successfully managed to deliver the same old-school charm that was originally a staple in the PC iteration. But what the numerous delays actually ended up doing was to place the title straight into the current-to-next generation transitional phase. A move that will more than likely have a negative effect on the overall sales of the game, as it might be overlooked by gamers who are eagerly waiting the new consoles. It doesn’t help that the game isn’t currently backwards compatible with the Xbox 360 console.

In the game, you play as Daniel Garner, a soul who recently passed away following a car accident that also killed his wife. Instead of being granted passage into the afterlife alongside his wife, Garner was sent into an alternate realm between heaven and hell where constant conflicts with the undead are routine. Trapped in solitude within that world, Garner is given the opportunity to set things right and escape the darkness by Sammael, a representative from heaven. In order to be granted entrance to the afterlife, Garner must confront an army of hellish creatures that are led by four of Lucifer’s top generals.

Painkiller: Hell Wars features over 20 single-player levels where you get to face off against over a dozen different in-game monsters. The title also has seven different multiplayer game types that include deathmatch, capture the flag, last man standing and free-for-all. All-in-all, Painkiller: Hell Wars is a well-rounded Xbox title that features enough single-player and multiplayer elements to keep your average console FPS fanatic entertained for weeks.

Even after two years, the game still looks amazing on current-gen hardware. Hell Wars uses People Can Fly’s proprietary PAIN graphics engine which is capable of producing high polygon counts that’s able to combine solid visuals with current shader technology. Painkiller also uses the Havok 2.0 physics engine to re-create the rag-doll effect within the game’s environment.

Painkiller: Hell Wars has pretty decent character design, but the game reuses the same character model so many times that it gets tiresome after a while. Even the death animations are the same, enemy after enemy, presuming you’re killing the same character model. You’ll be rewarded for your patience at the end of each sector when you face-off against one of the game’s gigantic bosses. These giant creatures are by themselves worth purchasing the game. That is, if you haven’t experienced the PC version.

The game runs smoothly, but slowdowns are noticeable when the on-screen action intensifies. The game loads up during various instances of a level and the load times are represented by portals, which give you the sense that you’re moving from one area to another and makes the waiting time more respectable while not impeding on gameplay.

Hell Wars uses the standard Xbox first-person control scheme that was first introduced in Halo. The controls are also incredibly smooth and responsive — something that’s extremely important when dealing with the game’s fast-paced action.

If you’re longing for a decent first-person shooter on the Xbox, then Painkiller: Hell Wars is the answer for you. At $30USD, you can’t go wrong with this title as you get both an entertaining single-player game and an expansive multiplayer element. Painkiller: Hell Wars is rated Mature. A version of Hell Wars will also be released on Sony’s PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable later this year.

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Gamepedia: Managing your Video Game Collection

Gamepedia

Looking for a simple way to catalogue your video game library? Then Bruji’s Gamepedia is the perfect affordable solution for you. Gamepedia is a Universal Mac OS X application (requires OS X 10.3 or better) that lets you organize and track your entire gaming library with ease. But what exactly makes Gamepedia different in comparison to other cataloguing software? The answer lies in the software’s cost and functionality.

Gamepedia is a Mac-only program developed by Bruji, an independent software developer who specializes in the creation of organizational software. Bruji is responsible for the popular DVD cataloguing program DVDpedia. The developer also offers CD and book itemizing software. All of Bruji’s applications carry the familiar iLife look and feel that has been popularized in iTunes and iPhoto.

Getting your collection in Gamepedia is very simple; all you need to do is either enter the game title, or type in the game’s UPC barcode. The program then scours through various Amazon web sites to gather your game’s information. The process is made even simpler if you own an iSight camera, as you simply point the game’s UPC code towards the camera and it instantly searches for your game info. If, by chance, your game isn’t recognized, you can manually add it to your database.

When entering game information manually, you are given the opportunity to type information within different tabs. The first tab, dubbed “Main”, is your basic entry field where you can enter information such as the game’s title, release date and personal rating, among other things. You can also add advanced info such as the game’s difficulty level, system requirements, high score, etc. One of the neatest features of Gamepedia is its ability to add links to individual entries in your gaming library. The program also lets you browse through screenshots from within the application itself.

With Gamepedia, you can also create various collections the same way you’d work with a playlist in iTunes. For example, you could create a new collection and rename it with the name of a particular console, then drag and drop individual games from your library into that folder. This is also a great feature for people who lend titles to friends or family – simply create a new collection, rename and start managing.

Speaking of lending, Gamepedia works in tandem with your OS X address book to help manage the titles you lent out. You can select a particular borrower from your address book and tag the video game he or she has borrowed from you. If the person doesn’t return the game after a certain time, you can send an email to that person reminding them that the title needs to be returned. You can also use Gamepedia to track the borrowing habits of your friends, or view the borrowed history of a particular title.

Gamepedia gives you the ability to create a custom wish list of games that you would like to own. You click on the “Add” button, enter the title of the video game you’re looking for, select the platform and the game is automatically added to your wish list. If the title you wish to obtain is unreleased, and has a street date attached to it, Gamepedia will automatically indicate how many days are left until the title hits store shelves.

The most interesting aspect of Gamepedia is its export capabilities. With a few mouse clicks, you can create a fully customizable web page that can be uploaded to your .mac account. You can also use Gamepedia to export your video game library, or wish list, to your iPod, which gives you the ability to glance through your collection at any time.

Gamepedia is definitely one of the best cataloguing solutions for your video game collection. Not only is the software easy to use, but it also offers many exporting options so that you can share and view your collection anywhere at any given time. A demo version of Gamepedia is available at http://www.bruji.com/gamepedia with the full version selling for $18USD.

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