作者彙整:Brian Shea

Sega Genesis Mini Review

At one point in the 1990s, the Genesis seemed like it could help Sega overtake Nintendo and claim the video game throne. While the SNES ultimately prevailed in the 16-bit battle, Sega’s beloved console has retained a dedicated following over the years. Though many iterations of iconic Genesis games have been rereleased in the past few decades, most ports were imperfect, and didn’t captured the fun and delight of playing the originals. For the Genesis Mini, Sega worked with the developer behind the lauded Sega Ages ports, and this partnership delivers the classic experience the Genesis deserves.

What Is It?

Following the examples of the miniature consoles from Nintendo and Sony, the Genesis Mini sports the appearance of a smaller Genesis and crams a ton of the platform’s most classic, iconic, and popular titles into it. Each game allows you to set three restore points, so you can save different states as you play. You’re able to choose from different backgrounds and screen filters, and can sort the massive library of 42 games by name, release date, or number of players.

Some of the games support multiplayer, and the package includes two controllers that look and feel like the familiar three-button Genesis gamepads. I love how these address two common complaints from competitors’ classic consoles: The Genesis Mini controllers have sufficiently long controller cables, and they give you the ability to access the main menu from couch rather than getting up to press the reset button. Also, if you felt burned by Sony not including an AC adapter with its PlayStation Classic, fear not: The Genesis Mini comes complete with a wall plug.

The Games

The Genesis Mini’s 42-game library is relatively huge compared to the 30 games on the NES Classic, 21 games on the SNES Classic, and 20 on the PlayStation Classic. The games list ranges from mainstays like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Ecco the Dolphin to games that never even released on the Genesis like Tetris and Darius. Mega Man: The Wily Wars, which gathers the first three Mega Man games into one package, is a great addition, and it’s nice to have games like Castlevania: Bloodlines and the punishingly difficult Contra: Hard Corps appear.

The list also includes several games that epitomize Sega’s lean into over-the-top attitude of the ‘90s, like Comix Zone, Vectorman, and ToeJam and Earl. For the RPG fans, Phantasy Star IV is a great inclusion. Unfortunately, many of the games included in the bundle feel like bloat and don’t hold up (like Virtua Fighter 2), but that won’t stop the nostalgic among us from enjoying them. Still, it’s painful to see those titles taking slots that could have been occupied by Sonic the Hedgehog 3 or Sonic & Knuckles – though the Sonic series is well-represented in general.

The Verdict

When you combine the nostalgia-fueled form factor with strong emulation, the Genesis Mini is compelling package for fans of Sega’s most popular system. While the number of games is substantial, the quality is inconsistent – but you can easily ignore the duds. The library includes plenty of good games that are still a blast to play, making the Genesis Mini is a great way to take a stroll down memory lane.

The Sega Genesis Mini launches September 19. For more on the Genesis Mini, check out our episode of New Gameplay Today below.

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Apple Arcade Launches Next Week For $5 A Month

During today’s Apple presentation, the company further pulled back the curtains on Apple Arcade, its previously announced premium mobile game subscription service. Announced in March, Apple Arcade grants users access to over 100 full, exclusive titles playable across iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, and Apple TV.

In addition to giving some details about some of the games coming to the platform, Apple also gave pricing and release information. The service is set to launch on September 19 alongside iOS 13. It will come to iPadOS and tvOS on September 30, and finally arrive on MacOS Catalina in October.

A single subscription of $4.99 per month allows you to play offline and share your subscription with up to five other family members at no additional cost. In the coming weeks, Apple promises more than 100 titles on the service, with more to come every month. The games on Apple Arcade are the full versions of the games with no ads, additional microtransactions, or in-game purchases. Some games will also support DualShock 4, Xbox wireless controllers, and MFi controllers via Bluetooth in addition to touch controls and Siri Remote.

The games list features several exclusive titles you can only play through Apple Arcade. You can see a list of some of the initial games below.

  • Ballistic Baseball, Gameloft
  • The Bradwell Conspiracy, Bossa
  • ChuChu Rocket! Universe, Sega
  • The Enchanted World, Noodlecake
  • Exit the Gungeon, Devolver
  • Overland, Finji
  • Pac-Man Party Royale, Bandai Namco
  • Projection: First Light, Blowfish
  • Rayman Mini, Ubisoft
  • Shantae and the Seven Sirens, WayForward
  • Skate City, Snowman
  • Sneaky Sasquatch, RAC7
  • Steven Universe: Unleash the Light
  • Super Impossible Road, Rogue Games
  • Various Daylife, Square Enix

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

For Apple customers who want to try out Apple Arcade before signing up for a subscription, Apple is offering a free one-month trial. Once that trial period expires, Apple Arcade will be available for $4.99 a month.

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Ninja Announces Partnership With Adidas

Popular streamer Tyler Blevins (aka Ninja) has signed a partnership with shoe and athletic apparel … 繼續閱讀

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Submit Your Questions For Our Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Podcast Interview

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

All month long we’ve been rolling out exclusive features, interviews, and videos of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Hopefully we’ve answered a lot of your questions about the game, but we wanted to give the community one last chance to have their most burning questions answered. In an upcoming episode of The Game Informer Show podcast, we’re Skyping in studio narrative director Taylor Kurosaki and multiplayer design director Joe Cecot.

Leave a comment below with your question for Kurosaki and Cecot about Infinity Ward’s upcoming re-imagining of the Modern Warfare series.

You can subscribe to the podcast and get ready for this week’s interview by clicking here.

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See The Awesome, Extended E3 Gameplay Demo Of Dying Light 2

Publisher: Square Enix

Developer: Techland

Release: 2020

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The Impressive New Tech Behind Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Release:
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward is showcasing impressive tech through a new engine that is able to deliver photorealistic character models and gorgeous scenery within gameplay. The engine has been slowly making itself apparent through Infinity Ward’s recent games like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.

In fact, seeing the early parts of this engine through those games was one of the main motivating factors for current studio art director Joel Emslie’s return to the studio. “I looked at Remastered and I looked at Infinite Warfare and I was like, ‘Man, the production value of this game,” he says. “There’s so much potential and this new engine was five years in development. Parts of that engine were alive and well in Infinite Warfare, and you could see it.”

We spoke with Michal Drobot, principal rendering engineer at Infinity Ward Poland, about the tech his team created for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Game Informer: We understand the Call of Duty series’ engine is always evolving. Can you explain what’s different here? Are things being rebuilt from scratch or is this just a big leap?

Michal Drobot: We need to go back in time, before our previous release. At that time, the Infinity Ward team realized that the engine, in its form, could not really scale further as is. New features, or systems, were resulting in cumbersome bolt-ons, and not always playing very well with the rest of the existing tech. It is not even about so called tech debt (where a development team consciously decides to sacrifice robustness in favor of performance or bug fixes under time pressure), but rather some fundamental design decisions, that served their purpose well.

I was brought on board, along with many great engineers, with a task of taking care of long-term Infinity Ward engine rendering architecture – to make sure it will be able to scale and excel in the future. It became clear quite quickly that we needed to scrap or fundamentally rewrite pretty much everything rendering related and as you can imagine, this is not something you can do quickly, while shipping a game of this franchise’s scale. Certain parts of the engine went through a full rewrite for Infinite Warfare – such as the lighting engine, while others were retrofitted to somewhat still work with new pieces. That was the moment when you could see the big leap in quality, but we had so much more to do.

The initial plan was to hit infliction point at the 5-year mark, exactly for the launch of Modern Warfare. After Infinite Warfare, we focused on re-architecture of all the other systems, essentially rewriting them from scratch, while letting the production team prototype and rely on the foundation built for our last shipped title. Then we reached critical mass, when technology could finally evolve fast. It is fantastic when you see it. You wait for years, meticulously recreating some basic things in the engine, and then suddenly at a specific point, it all starts to work together, and you jump years ahead of what you could have achieved before. It is truly a revolutionary moment for the whole team. And Modern Warfare is the first fruit of that revolution.

What’s the oldest bit of code you’ve noticed in Call of Duty’s engine prior to this game? 

It is more of an anecdote, but for many years we had this one rendering system responsible for setting some low-level data variables for draw calls (singular rendering subroutines). It was extremely efficient, but somewhat risky to extend and very rigid. It actually had a comment in code, that read something like “Please rewrite this right after ship.” I believe it stayed in code for way more than a single project, until finally for Modern Warfare we had to man up and rewrite it for real. Basically, the amount of data we are pumping right now into each draw call was significantly beyond that system’s capabilities. Now it is way more flexible and much faster due to working better with new engine architecture.

Will this tech also be used by all other Call of Duty studios moving into the future?

We are currently 100% focused on Modern Warfare, therefore it is a bit too soon to talk about what comes next.

It seems odd to reinvent so much of Call of Duty’s tech right before the next generation of hardware, are you confident this technology will be future-proof?

Our technology horizon is quite far ahead and ever adjusting to whatever comes next. The whole point was to rely on highly scalable technology, where algorithms, hardware insight and quality engineering comes first, as opposed to being overly reliant on specific platform features. Obviously during the optimization phase for any shipping title, we do highly focused optimizations to make sure we are taking the best approach for specific hardware, but that is the final polish pass, not the foundation. With this approach, we are very confident in our engine’s ability to adapt to any future hardware.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Can you talk about the biggest challenges in shaking up Call of Duty’s tech? How difficult is it to reinvent the technology when the series never stops moving and you have a concrete ship date in mind?

I think you hit the nail on the head here. Reinventing the technology that drives Call of Duty, while making a new Call of Duty game, is the biggest challenge. It requires excellent planning, trust between departments as well as a group of extremely talented people who are not afraid to change the course when they see an obstacle ahead. I think this process of balancing out tech development and production is the biggest challenge. From my experience, I’ve seen it go sideways so many times before in my career. “You guys go out there and make a new engine. Come back in a few years and let’s ship a game.” When you hear this, you know there will be a year of excitement, followed by a year of tears, and maybe even canceled projects. Technology can’t evolve in isolation, without constant iteration cycles with production teams. Also, it can’t be fully driven by production, because then it will end up rigid, tightly fitted to the one and only title it is supposed to ship, sometimes being not flexible enough to even elevate the project to its potential heights right before the finish line. Striking a balance here is a tough act, that requires everyone to be on board – and I truly believe we hit that mark for Modern Warfare.

Did you worry about shaking things up too much and slowing down development?

There is always a risk of slowdown due to the initial cost of progress. Therefore, it was crucial to make sure that all planning for the project content development was well understood ahead and matched different pushes on engineering. To give you an example, we would do the riskiest changes affecting art production when the project was mostly in pre-production, thus the number of affected artists was minimal. This would go hand-in-hand with Tech Art research and development to make sure all effort put into the engine will translate into better visuals and efficiency once the main production team hits the floor running. At the end of the day, what is important is the throughput of the team throughout the production years, and that was always the main focus for us.

Can you give examples of the communications you regularly have with the development team in California?

I think it would be unfair to distinguish communications as something happening “between teams.” We operate as one big team, we are just spread out in terms of physical location. Obviously, there is an additional hurdle of operating in multiple time zones, but this actually works to our advantage, as the engineering team can provide almost 24/7 coverage and support. Furthermore, we have a lot of people flying back and forth between all our locations, which definitely helps in team building and guarantees everyone feels like part of the same big family.

What’s the single biggest difference players will notice about the new tech when they get their hands on the game?

I think the general bar for photorealism has been pushed really far. It is just that the scenes feel very much alive, and make a great impression as a whole picture. This drastic improvement is therefore mostly driven by material and lighting systems, so I would bet that those would get the first spotlight.

What does the new tech mean for A.I. in the game?

This is more of a question for A.I. team. However, on the pure rendering side of things, we have some very significant improvements to how A.I. actors perceive lighting in game. In short, A.I. can “see” light and shadows exactly the same way as players do. This leads to significantly more reactive A.I. as well as more emergent behaviors when dealing with light and shade situations, where visibility would play a significant role in gameplay experience. You can clearly see this when using NVG (night-vision goggles) or fighting against NVG-equipped A.I.


Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25.

To learn even more about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, click on the banner below and check out our month of coverage.

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Living Up To Its Name

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: Forgotten Empires, Tantalus Media, Wicked Witch
Release:
Rating: Teen
Platform: PC

With Age of Empires 4 remaining mysterious for a while now, a group of developers led by Xbox Game Studios has been steadily creating definitive editions of the classic Age of Empires titles. Age of Empires: Definitive Edition launched earlier this year, and now developers Forgotten Empires, Tantalus, and Wicked Witch are turning their attention toward creating the best version of Age of Empires II.

In 2013, Age of Empires II: HD Edition released with both expansions, better visuals, and new features in tow. However, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition takes things to the next level: Multiplayer has been redone, the team has added the ability to adjust zoom, and the A.I. has received a boost with a strong eye toward attack logic. In addition, players can swap between classic and modern A.I. and user interface, and one of the most tedious tasks from the original game, reseeding farms for crops, can be automated. Of course, with Xbox Game Studios publishing, another update is direct integration with Mixer, Microsoft’s streaming platform.

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

According to Microsoft, the team has been working with Age of Empires 4 developer, Relic Entertainment, to see what kinds of advancements the team could include in the definitive versions of the classic games. Relic has found new ways to approach multiplayer, security, and anti-cheat, causing Xbox Games Studios to look at ways of implementing those advancements into Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition.

While the ability to zoom might sound like a minimally challenging addition, the fact that it’s a tile-based sprite engine means zooming in can cause massive pixelization. To remedy this, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition improves the visual fidelity to ensure it looks good from any zoom level, but this also accomplishes another goal for the team: historical accuracy. With higher fidelity visuals comes the ability to see more details, which allows for more authenticity with the historical civilizations depicted in the game.

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

The changes made to the A.I. have the potential to fundamentally change how matches play out. The A.I. in the original game cheated; the characters could see the whole board even if it was still undiscovered and was even the benefactor of resource bonuses players couldn’t access. However, the new A.I. is so smart, the dev team pitted seven of the old A.I. against one new A.I., and the new A.I. obliterated the old ones.

Microsoft recognizes that many of the hardcore Age of Empires players likely already own Age of Empires II: HD Edition, so it is giving those who own that version a 25-percent discount on the Definitive Edition on Steam.

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

While the topic of my meeting with the team was focused on Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, Xbox Game Studios is really excited for the jump in visuals players will experience with the announced Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition. When I ask about Age of Empires 4, Xbox Game Studios teased to me that X019, which happens to coincide with the release of Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, should have exciting news for Age of Empires fans.

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition launches November 14 on PC.

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Seen At Gamescom 2019

Gamescom 2019 is just about to wrap up, and while hundreds of thousands of people travel to Cologne, German… 繼續閱讀

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Wearing Its Ninja Gaiden And Contra Influences On Its Sleeve

Publisher: Yacht Club Games

Developer: Mechanical Head Games

Releas… 繼續閱讀

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The Gorgeous Hand-Drawn RPG Continues To Impress, Both In Play And Look

Publisher: 505 Games

Developer: Lab Zero Games

Release: October 8, 2019… 繼續閱讀

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