Find out all the latest news and gossip from the UK in GameSpot UK's team blog, London Calling.
Other Site Blogs
GameSpot Versus Beat the Pros Edition is a way for GameSpot members to test their skills against super star pro gamers. From FPS to...
Gamestation has announced its plans around the launch of Halo 3. According to MCV there will be no midnight openings on Oxford Street in London because of security concerns around the crowds likely to be involved, so Gamestation's main events will be in Birmingham and Edinburgh.
The retailer says that 'the majority' of its 190 shops will be open from 10pm on Tuesday 25th September, in advance of Halo 3's launch at midnight. Gamers who have pre-ordered their copy in Birmingham (New Street) or Edinburgh (Princes Street) will be able to take part in a tournament against players in the other shop. And apparently there's a chance "to meet the Master Chief himself". Or possibly a man dressed as Master Chief...
We'll let you know of other retailers' plans as we hear of them. The official Microsoft launch party takes place at the IMAX in London - you can find more details here.
[Update] Game has sent us a press release saying that it is opening 'over 150' shops at midnight so that gamers can pick up their copies of Halo 3 (and presumably anything else they'd like to buy). There are no details of which branches though - you'll have to ask at your local store.
GameSpot UK's editors are in Japan getting ready for the Tokyo Games Show along with the rest of the global GameSpot team. Guy Cocker has been out and about with his video camera to give you a closer look at his journey, the city of Tokyo and all the things he can find to point a camera at! Take a look at Guy's blog for all the Tokyo videos you can handle!
You can also find all our coverage of the Tokyo Game Show here.
There's quite a few games coming out today, so I thought it was worth rounding a few of them up here...If you're planning to go and buy any this weekend, let us know!
The latest episode of The GameSpot UK Podcast is available now! You can find it on iTunes or here. We've got a special guest in the shape of Tam Antoniades, chief design ninja on Heavenly Sword, who tells us all about developing the game.
As a one-off special, we recorded this week's GSUK podcast on video. Here you can see me, Drew Stearne, Alex Sassoon Coby and Emma Boyes talking through key points in the show.
Make sure you head over to the podcast page or iTunes to grab the full episode of the show, or add this link in iTunes to subscribe to the brand new enhanced version: http://www.gamespot.com/misc/podcast/gsukpodcast_enhanced.xml
Last week, GameSpot UK visited Italy to take a look at System 3's Ferrari Challenge. We played the latest build on PlayStation 3 and DS, toured the Ferrari museum and took a spin in some of the cars from the game. Here are some of my photos, and you can check out the PS3 and DS previews on the site.
UPDATE: Now with video footage of driving ace Bruno Senna playing the game on PlayStation 3.
Not content with competitions and prizes, this week we've got some beta keys for you...
If you fancy playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare online, on the Xbox 360, before almost anyone else, then you have come to the right place.
Check out our beta key page , sign up, and you should be well set.
Have a great weekend!
Guy's out in Italy at Ferrari's Mugello test circuit having a world-first look at Ferrari Challenge for DS and PS3, from System 3.
The licence was only announced at Leipzig, so we've not had much time to form an opinion about the game, but it's actually looking rather good.
Guy' taken a few minutes off from being thrown round the track at ludicrous speeds in meatspace and in the virtual world, and has managed to write down his impressions and even send back a video... so check out his PS3 hands-on, his DS preview, and his video interview with one of the game's producers.
Since my computer has once again had to be taken away in an ambulance and gone to the big Toshiba hospital in, well, Colchester, oddly, I haven't been able to get stack into to any of the vast numbers of new PC games that I bought back from the States. As themonitor on my shiny laptop is also the screen for my consoles, it was truly a disaster. In desperation, I turned to casual games, only to be pleasantly surprised.
I started playing a game called Mystery Case Files: Huntsville, just because it had the word mystery in it, and I like them. It's part of a genre of games called 'Hidden Objects Games,' where you are shown a picture piled high with objects and have to find a list ofcertain ones within a time limit. It's hugely addictive--read my full blog post and three reviews here. I'll add more when I get time.
And this time, it's enhanced (if you want it).
The latest GameSpot UK Podcast is now live and working properly. This week, Guy, Emma and I are joined by Drew, video producer extraordinaire and member of the intrepid Leipzig crew, and talk about the highs reached at Leipzig, the lows plumbed by David Cameron's speech-writing team and the general violent apathy that met the resurrection of the N-Gage brand... and more, including a competition that could see you on an trip to London, courtesy of 505 games, to bowl with the GSUK team and other UK gaming luminaries.
Oh yes. You get to roll with the best. What more could you possibly want? Let us know here or on the podcast page and we will do our best to bring it to you.
As ever, you can just listen to it on the page (here), or subscribe through iTunes. Also, as a special bonus for iTunes users there's a new enchanced version of the podcast, featuring links and images to go along with the normal audio content... just choose the enhanced option next time you're searching through the directory (but be warned, this might not work straight away, as it takes a bit longer to process than the normal audio file... but there shouldn't be that much of a delay).
We've teamed up with Vice, Guitar Hero II and the Xbox 360 to give you the chance to win a pair of tickets to Bestival, which looks set to be the highlight of the 2007 festival calendar..
Tickets have been sold out since almost the moment they went on sale, so if you fancy seeing the likes of The Beastie Boys, Chemical Brothers or Primal Scream on the Isle of Wight in September and didn't manage to beat the rush, listen up.
All you need to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us, in haiku form, why Bestival will rock.THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED! THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO ENTERED, AND CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER. WE WILL BE IN TOUCH SHORTLY.
If you're lacking inspiration, remember it's being organised by the team behind the excellent Sunday Best record label and long-standing club nights... and you can find out all the information you could ever wish to know at their website: bestival.net.
Oh and for those of you that don't know, a haiku is a short poem in three lines: the first line has five syllables, the second seven, and the last five... for example:
Bestival will rock
Primal Scream will rock so hard
my socks will come off
Now, I'm sure you can all do much better than that! You've got from today (August 30), until the end of the weekend (that's 9am monday morning, September 3) to send in your entries. As well as your haiku, make sure you include your full name, your address, date of birth and your gamespot username... all sent to email@example.com.
No purchase is necessary, and normal GameSpot UK terms and conditions apply.
Woolworths has sent us an announcement about a PlayStation 3 price cut for the Bank Holiday weekend - it's reduced the price by £50 to £375 - and the console is bundled with two free games, two free Blu-Ray DVDs and an additional controller. This bundle can be picked up both in stores and online.
Given that the Xbox 360 Elite comes out today and the price of a Xbox 360 Pro falls to £249 (£179 for the version without hard drive), it's looking like a cracking weekend to buy a console!
And for once you can thank the great British summer. According to Woolies, "This summer's indifferent weather has meant shoppers turning to indoor pursuits instead of going to the beach or a barbecue. As a result games sales at Woolworths have hit record levels for this time of year."
The PlayStation 3 price reduction ends on Tuesday according to Woolworths' press office.
This is the first of the office tours we'll be filming, and this should give you a good idea of where we do our work. If you'd like to see anything in particular in the next episode, then please give us a shout.
In September of 2005, something changed. A 'disease', for want of a better word, started spreading across World of Warcraft servers across the world after the introduction of a new high-end monster in a recently created zone. This rapidly became news, and was reported as such by sites such as BBC News, among others. While this wasn't the first time such an event had been reported by news sites (As a quick search reminded me of the now-infamous Sims Guinea Pig Incident), it was the first that I remember being reported as news for the event itself, rather than due to the upset and protest it sparked.
Now, two years on, things have moved a step further: according to the BBC (again), a paper has been published in medical journal Lancet Infectious Diseases analysing the outbreak and seeing what can be learned.
For those that don't remember the incident, it went like this: Blizzard introduced the new 10-player dungeon of Zul'Gurub, for players who had reached the then-level-cap of 60, with an all-new version of Hakkar (a massive winged god) awaiting those who cleared the rest of the instance (or at least most of it). One of his abilities was to infect players in his immediate vicinity with a virtual disease called corrupted blood, which caused significant damage to the high-level players attempting to defeat him, and spreading from player to player in the group.
Some clever chap (assuming it was a chap) realised that there was some fun to be had here (it would appear) on seeing that his pet became infected with this disease, and promptly dismissed it still infected. The important thing to note here is that at the time you could freely dismiss and recall pets, and their state would not change in the meantime -- they would essentially vanish, and go into suspended animation, to then reappear when resummoned. The player in question then teleported himself back to the Orc capital city of Orgrimmar on the server of Archimonde, went to a crowded area, and summoned his freshly infected pet. At this point, all hell broke loose. The disease, which was meant to be a serious inconvenience for some of the game's toughest players, was suddenly infecting many of the weakest, and killing them in the space of seconds. The streets of cities were littered with corpses, and many of those resurrecting themselves were instantly reinfected by those who had survived, and by various non-player chracters who had turned into carriers of the disease, by virtue of being infectable but much, much harder to kill than players.
The reason this is of interest to the author of the piece from LID is that they feel that the way that WoW players reacted offered valuable insight into the way that actual massive disease outbreaks can or could be handled by the populace. Some players acted selflessly, trying to heal others or cure the disease (as certain classes have the ability to remove such effects from others), others just ran away, and others made it their mission to keep the infection alive and continue the mayhem.
The report's author, researcher Professor Nina Fefferman from Tufts University School of Medicine, said: "Human behaviour has a big impact on disease spread. And virtual worlds offer an excellent platform for studying human behaviour. The players seemed to really feel they were at risk and took the threat of infection seriously, even though it was only a game."
According to the BBC, she did also acknowledge that the fact it was just a game and the people in question were not risking any harm to anything other than their in-game bank balances, but felt it was still as valuable a tool as we have for assessing some of the possible reactions to a major real-life outbreak.
It was also noted that the human factor is the least understood of disease-transmission variables, but also the hardest to study given that you can hardly infect a city full of people just to observe the ensuing panic... but that it is, in theory, possible to do so virtually.
I shall try and track down the paper itself, but even the BBC's precis on it gives food for thought. Do you think that such virtual studies could be useful? Do you think it would be ethical to induce changes in gameworlds for real-life research, without informing participants, as part of the game experience?
Microsoft today announced a price drop for the Pro and Core Xbox 360 systems and set the UK pricing for the Elite edition at £299.99 (it'll be 449.99 euros in Europe, apparently). They also held briefings for journalists in London to explain the price changes, run through the Elite edition and new peripherals, and explain some of the video-on-demand and messaging functionality on Live. (No date was set for the VOD service in the UK, so we were shown it on a US account.)
I went along to the very first briefing of the day and took this picture of the consoles all set out together. No, the bacon sandwiches aren't all for me!
We also got to look at some of the new peripherals, including the Halo-themed controller (which will be £34.99 and come out the week before Halo 3 as a limited edition - there's also a Halo-themed wireless headset), the blue and pink wireless controllers (I asked, and apparently there are no plans "at the moment" to launch a pink console) and the messaging keypad that slots into the controller. It looks a bit bulky, but worked really well during a demonstration of the 360's ability to have an instant messaging (via Windows Messenger) conversation with another user on a PC.
Another couple of peripherals on show were prototypes of the controller for Scene It, the upcoming quiz game. I was allowed to take a couple of photos:
We also got to take a look at the video-on-demand service (a US account was used as we don't have the service here in the UK yet, but it is coming, apparently). There are now over 250 movies available on the US service, as well as a lot of TV shows, so it is potentially interesting as a service. Looks like the terms of service will be similar (in the US you can keep the movie for 14 days, and it'll expire 24 hours after the 'play' button is pressed). Progressive downloading was introduced in May to try and speed up the download times, but it remains to be seen how fast it will really be.
We got a press release today that might be of interest if you're in London on Monday (August 20th). At the HMV store at 150 Oxford Street, there's a Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 event. Here's the information:
"Come and play Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 event months ahead of the official release at the HMV anime day at Oxford Street on Monday 20th August! Atari will displaying playable demos of the recently released Naruto Uzumaki Chronicles and Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 event which releases this October exclusive to Playstation 2. There will also be the chance to enter the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Challenge - a live combat game tournament on the HMV stage. There will be hundreds of pounds worth of HMV gift vouchers in prizes available to the winners and runner ups. Come and show us your skills!
Game playing commences from 1 pm on the Ground Floor by the stage at HMV, 150 Oxford Street London. The Atari Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Tournament will kick off from 2 pm and finish by 4 pm so make sure you arrive on time!"
If you do go along, let us know how it went - and good luck!