It’s one of those things you don’t realize until something smacks you upside the head. We cover a lot of SF material here at SF Signal, almost all of it either of the written, TV or movie form. But there’s a whole other medium out there that is filled with SF goodness: video games. I occasionally add the odd gaming bit to the Tube Bits posts if it touches on a TV property, but there is so much more cool stuff than just properties that are tied someway into TV. So, the introduction of ‘Game Bits’.
I know, I know. “Yet another ‘Bits’ post?”, I hear you say. Yes, and no. My goal isn’t to have a post on a (mostly) daily basis. Instead, I’ll post some stuff that I think is cool and/or interesting to SF fans in general, especially those who don’t game much, if at all. I’m also going to post in the title the games I’ll be talking about so you’ll know right away if something interests you. I’ll also have more to say about game bit I cover, so it will be a bit more than just ‘bits’, though ‘Game Bits’ fits in with our current naming schemes. But before I dive in here, a quick question: How many of you, our readers, are gamers? Would you consider yourself ‘hardcore’, ‘casual’ or ‘in between’?
First up, Champions Online. With NBC’s series Heroes still being quite popular, and with the gigantic success of The Dark Knight, you might think that a superhero game would be a good idea, and you’d be right. Yes, City of Heroes from NC Soft has been around for a few years, and it was certainly fun for awhile, but with the death of the Marvel Comics MMO (yes, we’re talking MMO here), a new hero is on the block: Champions Online. If you think this sounds like the old pen and paper RPG system, you’d be right. CO is based on the old P&P system, and just might bring something new to the scene: customized powers. That alone is enough to get me interested in yet another MMO. In any event, Massively, an online site dedicated to MMOs, has posted 4 videos from CO for your perusal. See the first below:
It may not look like much now, but remember this games isn’t even out of the alpha stage yet. There’s much more work to do before it’s ready. Massively has also posted their gameplay impressions.
With the release of The Clone Wars, Star Wars appears to be going as strong as ever, and it’s not just on the big or little screen, it’s in gaming too. Lucasarts will be releasing Star Wars: The Force Unleased on the gaming public in short order. Set between Episode III and IV, you play an apprentice under Darth Vader whose task is to hunt down and eliminate any remaing Jedi. You’ll get to use all sorts of Force powers in your quest, and if you have a Nintendo Wii, you’ll get to use the nunchuck and remote to simulate actually casting a power. That sounds cool in theory, we’ll see how it actually works. To whet your appetite for some Dark Side action, Joystiq has a bunch of videos for you to view. Below is the awesome trailer:
If you can’t wait for a taste, then you’d better have an Xbox 360, because the demo will be dropping on Xbox Live on August 21st. Oh, and make sure you’ve upgrade to Xbox Live Gold or you’ll have to wait an additional week. Thanks Microsoft. And if you’re into the ‘making of’ aspects of gaming, then check out this review of The Art & Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
But that’s not the only Star Wars gaming property in development. In one of the worst kept secrets in gaming history, Bioware recently announced they are developing an MMO based on their Knights of the Old Republic video game series. KOTOR is widely regarded as one of the best Star Wars video games ever, despite taking place several thousand years before the movies. Bioware is hoping to avoid the embarrassment that occurred when Sony released it’s Star Wars Galaxies MMO. What started out as a promising Star Wars game quickly succumbed to the hordes of angry fans who wanted to play as a Jedi, but couldn’t. Sony has attempted to rectify that error, but in doing so, has lost much of the ‘flavor’ of Star Wars, as the game is supposed to take place in a time where Jedi are non-existent, but in the game, you swing a dead Bantha without hitting one. Well, if there were anyone still playing that is.
Enter KOTOR. A time where not only Jedi are prevalent, but so are Sith. Add in Bioware’s much deserved reputation for making quality games and you have a recipe to attract fanboys from near and far. Including me. Don’t believe me? The game was just announced and already people are wondering what class they want to play and what measures to take to defeat the sure-to-be-hordes of Jedi running around, gumming up the place. This one should be on any Star Wars fans list, even those of us on the wrong side of their late 30’s…
Way, way back in 1977 (yes, there were people alive back then, including me, you dang whippersnappers), a really cool, awesome SF themed board game debuted called Cosmic Encounters. With the deceptively simple idea that each player controlled one race, and each race broke the rules in a specific way, Cosmic Encounter become one of the classic SF board games of all time. It’s had a long, interesting history to date, with the original game and it’s expansions only available on eBay. Hasbro, via its Avalon Hill imprint (as grognards everywhere cry quietly to themselves) released their own version of Cosmic Encounter a few years ago, which appears to be out of print. Luckily, Fantasy Flight Games has acquired to the rights to the game and will be releasing a new version this November. At a retail cost of $50, the price may seem steep. Of course, this should come as no surprise as all of Fantasy Flight’s ‘bits’ games (games with hundreds of pieces) are priced like this. FF makes some really good stuff, so Cosmic Encounter just might make a big comeback. I’ll certainly be looking to play this one. If you’d like a taste of the original, you can always play Cosmic Encounter Online. This is one of the games that my mom managed to ‘lose’ while I was away at college, along with my Dune boardgame. It’s always depressing when I think about it.