Avast Ye! Age of Pirates 2 Release Date Announced

Avast! Booty! Scurvy! And other piratey words!

Avast! Booty! Scurvy! And other piratey words!

Yarrr, me mateys. Pirates might be losing steam to the upstart zombies, but never fear. Playlogic is here. (Good God, did I just make an Underdog inference? Yes, yes I did….) In a press release out of New York today, Age of Pirates 2 is set to sail on May12, 2009 for the PC market. According to their spokesman:

“This sequel to the popular Age of Pirates franchise reinvents itself with a larger playing field and exciting new content from a new combat system and trading options to numerous quests and character classes,” said Rogier Smit, executive vice president of Playlogic.“The game’s free-roaming options expand the storyline and challenge players with endless hours of adventure.”

Players courageous enough to delve into the dangerous world of Age of Pirates 2: City of Abandoned Ships will discover treasure and adventure as they choose to go it alone and become the most feared pirate on the seven seas, or prove their loyalty and take the coin of one of four different navies; French, English, Spanish or Dutch. As players navigate their own route through the seas of the Caribbean they can explore strange new countries and undiscovered civilizations, plunder merchant ships and even raid fortified ports and cities– interacting with nearly every character and/or building along the way.

Game features include:

• Ship-to-ship combat and toe-to-toe clashes

• 3 diverse characters and 3 classes: Merchant, Corsair and Adventurer

• 4 main campaigns

• 40+ quests and 40+ quest generators allowing for an infinite amount of quests

• New combat system for faster fights

• 3 weapon classes: light, medium and heavy

• Advanced trading system

• Real-life historical characters such as Jamaican governors Colonel Thomas Lynch and Thomas Modyford

Almost everything can be adjusted to players’ wishes, making customization and resource management a key element to gameplay. Let this serve as a warning; in Age of Pirates 2: City of Abandoned Ships the dead do not sleep easy, and both myth and reality frequently intertwine.

The original Age of Pirates: Carribean Tales, released by Akella is 2006, had a bumpy go. It’s timing coincided with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean, and the game became confused with the Disney property. Playing as one of two characters (the obligatory male and female avatars), players were charged with gallivanting through an open world RPG and becoming the most piratey of all pirates. But neither of those people were Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightly, so many people took a pass for the licensed property. More’s the pity. Gameplay was enjoyable, but the project was overly ambitious for the time, leaving even high end computers struggling to compensate. According to Gamespot’s review:  A countless number of rough edges and some major bugs sap just about all the potential for entertainment from this overambitious, underdeveloped game.

However patch 1.5 when combined with a player created Supermod smoothed out the glitches and slow downs for those heavily infested in the game.

In the interim years, and with a change of developer, hopefully Age of Pirates 2 can sidestep the pitfalls of its predecessor. So far, the trailer and screens look very promising. But I suppose we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to know for sure.

Above is the official trailer for Age of Pirates 2 and below is a gallery of in-game screenshots. Enjoy!

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North America Not Cool Enough For WWII “Officers”

Come on, pal...quit exploiting my PAIN!

Come on, pal...quit using my PTSD for profit!

The entertainment industry has taken one of the most intense and horrific time periods in human history and beaten and abused it until WWII ran into a corner and cried.

Then the video game industry tried to redeem themselves from putting out the same game about the same five battles by putting a “twist” on the game. WWII is now dizzier than me after riding the bloody Tea Cup ride. And then, a company FINALLY comes out with a WWII game I want to play.

Kalypso Media has taken the war and pulled back. A lot. Like to top down RTS proportions.  And this is the company that brought us Sins of a Solar Empire, not some hack start up that’s never done a damn thing. Oh wait, they only published it in the UK. Very sneaky that; giving themselves a trumped up resume like that. Anyone know if they’re in any way affiliated with Stardock?(who published all the same games they did, only in North America) According to their press release today:

Officers provides World War II real-time strategy gamers with warfare on a previously unseen scale. Formidable battles are possible, with more than 1,500 units fighting simultaneously across up to 10 square miles of battlefield.

You command the US combat units; your aim is to smash the Germans’ western front. In multiplayer mode, you can also command Russian or German troops. Historical battles such as Operations Overlord, Millennium and Cobra will put your tactical abilities to the test, as you have skillfully to combine infantry, tank, artillery and air troops.

Speed and power will only lead to victory if you extend your troops’ supply lines and capture enemy emplacements and depots. Strategically beneficial high-ground and the varied landscape can be used to your advantage. Thanks to an advanced map editor, you can recreate other historical battles or design your own.

• Historically correct battles, beginning with the Normandy landings

• Infantry can barricade and entrench in houses, trenches etc.

• Up to 1,500 units simultaneously in one sector

• Multiplayer mode for up to 8 players involving Allied, German and Russian troops

• More than 70 different unit types (Infantry, light vehicles, tanks, artillery, air troops, navy)

• Map Editor to design scenarios and missions in either single or multiplayer mode

• Elaborate winter and summer scenarios

• Surroundings completely destructible

• Sophisticated resource management

• Taking of enemy emplacements with house-to-house combat in an urban environment

• Realistic change between day and night

• Combined artillery, infantry and air-force operations

Now with that much depth, this is going to take a fairly capable PC and fans of the “run, gun and pistol whip” method of getting through some of the most dangerous and strategic war maneuvers in recent history. But I think this actually sounds cool. Well, !TOO BAD FOR ME! I can almost hear Kalypso Media cackling in the background.

As of right now, this game is only coming to “select” European markets. All the allied nations maybe?  If that’s the case, I guess we’ll see this game in 2011. Which seems patently unfair since you’re playing as the Americans in the game.

Man, this week is just FULL of disappointing press releases. It might be marketing representative season soon if this crap keeps up.

Oh, and sorry for the lack of pictures or a trailer (official or otherwise) but while the announcement on MCV clearly states the game is releasing on May 15th, their website (which I was directed to for more information, no less) doesn’t even act like the game exists. Curiouser and curiouser.

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Saving the Galaxy, Three Colored Gems At A Time

If you had asked any non-casual gamer their opinion of puzzle games like Bejeweled before 2007, most would have sneered at you. Puzzle games were for grandmas and little girls. Then along came Infinity Interactive, shoving puzzle games into bed with RPG’s like  an unwilling arranged marriage. Yet somehow, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords not only didn’t suck but was awesome. Suddenly, hard core RPG consumers were moving around colored blocks to collect magic, experience and money.

Original Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Original Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Now, as this comic shows, fighting an enemy through a series of tile moves seems absurd when looked at through the lens of reality. And like other RPG’s it was easy to wander into areas WAY to high for your level. But Puzzle Quest managed to mostly dance on the edge, artfully blending strategy, story, party members and random encounters into an experience that wasn’t only fun and addictive, but seemed like a natural fit. Why hadn’t we thought of this before? It’s like discovering peanut butter and banana sandwiches for the first time.

Taking their success and running with it, publisher D3Publisher took the formula that worked so well of high fantasy and used it to create this year’s sequel, Puzzle Quest: Galatrix. Like the name implies, the game is based in a galaxy spanning space epic. Changing a few gameplay elements, such as the board shape and letting gravity affect how fast the blocks fall, the game maintains the addictive combination that made the original so much awesome.

Hexagons are sexier than squares.

Hexagons are sexier than squares.

Already released for for PC and the DS, it was announced today that the game will be dropping on XBLA on April 8th. There are also plans to release it on the Playstation Network but no date was set at this time.

A little bit more information about the game and its features. From the press release:

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix from Infinite Interactive will launch for Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft on April 8th, 2009. Puzzle Quest: Galactrix will support online multiplayer, matchmaking, leaderboards, voice chat and more for a full-spectrum online play experience.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is an exciting new addition to the Puzzle Quest universe, incorporating a compelling blend of casual and hardcore gameplay elements, similar to those adored by fans of the critically acclaimed Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, into an all-new futuristic, science-fiction setting. An all-new hexagonal puzzle board allows an extra layer of strategy for players who crave it and the upgradeable spacecraft options allow players to create, develop and customise the ultimate fleet. A rich and detailed storyline and fresh gameplay elements make the world of Puzzle Quest: Galactrix a captivating new adventure to explore and conquer.

Even if you still think puzzle games are for grandmas and little girls, do yourself a favor on April 8th (or at an unconfirmed date in the future for you PS3 fans out there) and download the demo with an open-ish mind. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much depth is involved in matching three of a kind.

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Jak and Daxter: 21st Century Captain Planet?

Obligatory platformer "lava level"

Obligatory platformer "lava level"

So yeah. I wish this was an April Fool’s Day joke. But no dice kids. This is the real deal.  That picture up there is from Sony’s newest game.  Jak and Daxter are back in a brand new adventure for PSP and Playstation 2. That’s right; they’re pre-emptively admitting to failure by not even putting the game on Playstation’s flagship system.

All right, maybe that was a tad harsh. As far as platformers go Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was pretty cool. So cool in fact, it spawned two sequels, a spin-off racing game, and Daxter even got his own time in the spotlight on the PSP.

The original Jak and Daxter was an open world platformer in the vein of Super Mario 64 or Sly Cooper where the player was tasked with collecting items and saving the world in standard light-hearted fare. Jak II, on the other hand, went much darker (I assume in an attempt to “grow up” with its audience) and had more melee combat and an almost “Viva la Revolution!” and “Heroes Are Villains Too!” feel to it. Jak 3 continued this trend by having Jak outcast for helping the Underground (Viva la Revolution!…sorry) and him coming to terms with helping people that have turned their back on him.

Right. Now that we’re all up to relative speed, back to the topic at hand. Now, all of the Jak games have utilized “Eco” in some way; sometime it’s Dark or Light or Green, Yellow, Blue, etc.  But it was used as a gameplay element ONLY. For health or abilities or a plot device. I have no problem with that. But Sony and developer High Impact Games seemed be taking advantage of the Environmental Awareness Renaissance to plug their next game. Which is what I have a problem with. According to the press release (Bits in bold are for emphasis):

Hero Jak and his mischievous sidekick Daxter are back together… and for the first time-ever they’ve joined forces on PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable). Get set for the latest addition to the smash-hit Jak and Daxter™ series, Jak and Daxter™: The Lost Frontier from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Prepare for non-stop action and adventure as the duo travel across mysterious lands and take to the sky on a mission to save their planet from destruction. Take this incredible adventure with you anywhere on your PSP™, or play it at home with PlayStation®2– both out this autumn for PAL territories.

Picking up from where the original Jak and Daxter trilogy left off, Jak and furry friend Daxter team up with their friend Kiera on her quest to become a Sage and save their world from the threat of darkness. As the environment of their planet slowly dies, our two worldly heroes embark on a mission to protect their world from the threat of“dark eco”.

Beginning on foot, you’ll run and jump across undiscovered lands, before taking flight in one of five different aircrafts. With cheeky Daxter and our serious Hero Jak together on the adventure, fun and laugher is never far away. Blast airborne enemies and battle sky pirates with your powerful Gunstaff– a brand-new weapon that can transform into other new weapons.

The latest installment takes players to the long awaited“Lost Frontier” reached by the much-loved Jak and Daxter. Get set for a sky-high, laugh out loud and colourful new adventure with Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier. The future of their planet is in your hands with PSP – or save the day at home with PlayStation 2.

Oh, and from the Playstation US website:

…they must battle their way past air pirates and sinister creatures in their quest to find a cure for the world’s eco shortage.

Captain Planet, he's a hero...wait. Wrong genre.

Captain Planet, he's a hero...wait. Wrong genre.

Maybe I’m too jaded? Or cynical? Maybe this isn’t a blatant cash in on a pop culture trend. After all, this game must have been in development for years. But the timing does seem mighty handy. Even if it wasn’t Sony’s original intent, I’m sure their marketing department will slant this in a way to add to their 6 million units of Jak and Daxter games sold.

Comments from the peanut gallery?

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